Amirisu Issue 14 - Hello Again, It's 'Gneiss' To Be Back.

Hello! It has been over a year since my last blog post and a lot has changed during that time. However, I am feeling indecisive about where to start so I thought just jumping in with a pattern post would get me over that hump.

Normally, I like to blog about a pattern just when it has been released but to celebrate the re-release of Gneiss, I thought I would start here. Gneiss, was originally a part of amiriu’s collection for Issue 14, their autumn issue last year. As I eagerly await the return of the sweater I wanted to share the inspiration behind this pattern.

Photos from Pinterest.

Photos from Pinterest.

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Like most magazine submissions, I start with their mood board. I quickly see what captures my attention and begin thinking of ideas from there. Issue 14’s theme had a lot of geometric shapes and colour blocking images that I was drawn to. After being attracted to the colour block sweater, pictured above, it reminded me of a previous design that I already had in the works.

I will admit and let you know that I had drawn up Gneiss much earlier than this proposal. The first sketch was similar, in terms of its shape and construction. However, I had intended it to be worked in two solid colours and with the right side of stocking stitch visible on the lower half. It was first submitted to a different company and was not accepted. It sat in the back of my mind for a few months until amirisu’s autumn submission call. I had reservations, of course, thinking maybe since this was not accepted the first time, it might be denied again. Maybe I was the only one who liked this design? However, I had to put those negative thoughts aside. I chose to believe that this still was a strong design and it just needed to find a home.

Original sketches for amirisu.

Original sketches for amirisu.

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I will not go into too much detail about the first version since with time and some new inspiration, this second version is much better. I knew I wanted to keep this sweater two colours. However, it was the photo of pink paired with the marble texture that made me rethink the types of yarn used for this project. I decided to suggest hand dyed yarn. I love working with semi-solid colours but I pushed myself outside of my own comfort zone and suggested a speckled yarn as the second colour. I personally prefer the impact of reverse stocking stitch when working with variegated yarns. I thought the combination of texture and colour mimics the look of marble. I then decided to changed to bottom of the sweater to reverse stocking stitch.

Original swatches for amirisu.

Original swatches for amirisu.

I had not worked with speckled yarn in the past so there was none in my stash to sample with. However, I am glad amirisu was also able to invision what I was proposing. They said “yes” and suggested working with La Bien Aimée. I was happy to finally try their Merino DK for the first time. I was immediatly head over heels for the colour Ash when it arrived. It took me a little longer to warm up to Pom Pom since it was unlike anything I had used before. However, once I got into the bottom half of the sweater, I was very happy with amirisu’s decision.

La Bien Aimée's Merino DK in Pom Pom.

La Bien Aimée's Merino DK in Pom Pom.

La Bien Aimée's Merino DK in Ash.

La Bien Aimée's Merino DK in Ash.

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Here are some in-progress photos of Gneiss. Gneiss begins as a top-down raglan. Once the arms are put on hold, the front and back and are then separated and worked flat. This allows the triangle shape on the back to be worked as intarsia. The sides must be seamed together but then the sleeves are finished off in the round.

Right side of sweater.

Right side of sweater.

Inside of sweater.

Inside of sweater.

Now finally, a few shots from the photoshoot. I have loved seeing the unique colour combinations other knitters have come up with. If you would like to see some ideas, take a look at the projects page. Right now, Gneiss will be 30% off in my Ravelry shop till the end of October.

Photography by amirisu.

Photography by amirisu.

Original sketch for amirisu.

Original sketch for amirisu.

Photography by amirisu.

Photography by amirisu.

Helsinki

The most important reason for my trip to these European countries was to visit Helsinki. I was there to get a sense of the city because it is where Eero is from and of course to meet his family who live there. Helsinki is a beautiful city and often reminded me of Halifax, Nova Scotia at times. Like Halifax, Helsinki's harbour played an important part in shaping the city and still has a major role today. It did take a while getting used to the quiet streets compared to the busy rush of London. Plus, we were there during the summer solstice and the extremely long days were a new and strange experience for me. We spent many days in Helsinki, in between our trips to Stockholm and Estonia. 

When I sat down to put this post together I quickly realized I didn't have many photos of Helsinki itself. I spent my time soaking in the colours of the city and more time eating cake, though I'm definitely not complaining about either! For me, it's often hard to find something sweet to enjoy with a cup of tea when I have to worry about eating gluten-free. However, Roasberg, a cafe in Helsinki, had an amazing choice of gluten-free and vegan cakes. So naturally I had to visit a few times and sample their selection! The taste experiences in Helsinki were all special and incredibly delicious. 

Another one of my favourite experiences from my trip to Finland would be visiting 'kesämökki' which translates into 'summer cottage'. Many people vacate the city during the summer to enjoy the serenity of the calm lakes and vast forests in Finland making it an essential part of the Finnish lifestyle. This summer cottage was situated outside the city, after a four hour drive we arrvied near the Russian border.  I felt incredibly lucky to have been invited to such a special and peaceful place. Here we took advantage of the forest trails and I was introduced to my first Finnish sauna experience. 

During my days in Helsinki I didn't spend much time in yarn shops at all, I swear! I was pretty pleased with my purchases from Makeri 14 in Stockholm and the craft shops in Estonia. However, during our last bus ride into the city centre for our final lunch before flying back to London, something caught my attention as we drove by. It must have been the bright skeins of Hedgehog Fibres in the window. I think any knitter would be able to spot them miles away. We got off at the stop just past the shop when I turned to Eero and said, "Ummm, I think we just drove by a yarn shop. Do we have time? Do you mind?". We didn't have much time to spare but I'm very glad he indulged me in this last request in Helsinki. I stepped into Snurre, an inviting and colourful yarn shop. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to spend but I'm so glad to have made the quick visit. Perhaps I'll be able to return soon! 

I managed to find room in my already overstuffed suitcase for three skeins of Tuku Wool. Tuku is 100% Finnish wool. The owner of the shop told me that Finnish yarn is hard to come by since it's a country not known for their fibre production. Tuku Wool is grown, milled and dyed in Finland. I settled on the natural cream. Often with souvenir yarn I have no idea what it will later be but I thought it would be lovely to get back into natural dyes. Hopefully when I can find the time, these skeins will have some colour added to them! 

Kaali

My personal copy of the latest Pom Pom Quarterly arrived in Nova Scotia this week! In this autumn issue they highlight the art and mystery of natural dyes. All eleven patterns use various yarns that have been dyed with natural materials. When I first heard this theme was chosen, I immediately wanted to muster the inspiration to submit an idea. I haven't published anything new since Take Heart, so it feels good to get back to creating something new on the needles.

I've always held a strong interest in natural dyes. During my time studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, I needed to take a handful of dyeing courses for my major in textiles. I immediately fell in love with the alchemy behind the process but was discouraged when my body started to react to the chemical dyes we were using in class. I was struggling physically and emotionally during the semester. I finally felt that textiles was an area I wanted to pursue but I didn't know how to, if the class materials were toxic to my health. After the class ended, I found out that there was a natural dye course being offered during the summer semester. I eagerly signed up and spent the summer on "foraging" field trips and learning about the science and magic behind plant based dyes. After that, I was in love. I was able to use this knowledge as I went into the rest of my courses and incorporated elements into my weaving and screen printing work. I no longer dabble in it since knitting takes up most of my time but when I can find gorgeous naturally dyed yarn, I do indulge. 

When I first glimpsed Pom Pom's autumn mood-board I had just finished my second year at Unravel, a knitting festival in Farnham. That weekend I treated myself and brought home lots of Elisabeth Beverley's plant dyed cashmere (pictured above) and a few skeins of her merino. I began thinking of a possible submission to Pom Pom and knew I had to use the cashmere. I mainly design small accessories and knew one skein of the cashmere would be perfect for a project like this. As for the mood-board, I was drawn to the photos of fabric swatches (pictured below). They reminded me of my own natural dye notebooks which hold swatches from various dye bath combinations. I instantly loved the gradient affect from the photo on the left and the layers in the photo on the right and drew inspiration from these two pictures. I wanted to somehow combine both of these elements into my design. 

Write here...

Write here...

Here are the beginning stages of my design, Kaali. This was the sketch and swatch I submitted to Pom Pom for their consideration. I wanted the cuffs of the fingerless mitts to be delicate and I used a different textures to create layers. I thought Temaricious cotton threads would be a perfect way to pull in hints of colour without having to invest in full sized skeins. I've always wanted to use their threads but don't have the extra time to spend on embroidery since I'm always knitting. For the rest of the mitt I wanted to have a simple but yet interesting texture to highlight the beautiful colour of the cashmere. 

I may be slightly biased but my overall impression of Issue 18 is that it's incredibly gorgeous. Many of the other designs I would like to knit for myself. Patterns such as Asklöv and Roquaine are on my list if I find the time to do some knitting purely for pleasure. I love Rachel Hayton's moody photography and Katie Green's illustrations of each natural ingredient. Many thanks to Pom Pom for including me in this issue with many other artists and designer who I admire and thanks to Elisabeth Beverly and Temaricious for providing yarn support! 

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Tallinn Old Town

My two years in London have finally drawn to a close. My visa expired yesterday so I flew back to Halifax last week. I'm glad to be home for the summer to spend time with family and friends. There is a lot of knitting to be done and new designs to be created over the next few weeks so I think this summer will fly by. I'm still reminiscing about my time traveling through Europe only a few weeks ago. I'm hoping to head back to England or Europe eventually so those adventures are definitely not over yet. In the meantime, I'm already planning a few adventures to have right here in the Maritimes.

These shots are from two afternoons exploring Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We spent a weekend between Muhu and Saaremaa. Both are islands just off Estonia in the Baltic Sea. I promise to post more about these islands soon. We took our time when we arrived in Tallinn to explore the Old Town. I fell in love with the medieval-esque doors and windows in the area. Many of them are brightly painted with intricate designs and against faded, cracked and peeling pastel walls. 

I couldn't pass through Old Town without picking up a few souvenirs for myself. I settled on these mittens which have been hand embroidered. I also picked out a few colours of yarn and wool embroidery threads. The Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union was the perfect place to find amazing examples of traditional craft. I would love to find the time to embroider more. After this trip I definitely feel inspired to do so since I saw many amazing examples. I'm hoping to combine it with my knitting more frequently. I also loved the small boutiques which featured modern craft by local Estonian artisans. I bought a few gifts from Oma Asi for friends. Of course I was so excited to give them away I forgot to photograph them. 

On our way back through Tallinn we had the afternoon again before catching the ferry to Helsinki. We stopped for lunch at Vegan Restoran V in the heart of Old Town. I had the beetroot ravioli with cashew cheese and for a main, the spicy peanut butter tofu with vegetable quinoa and tomato coconut sauce. Both dishes tasted like vegan heaven. I was thrilled with the variety of beetroot dishes I saw on various menus during our stay in Estonia since it is one of my favourite root vegetables.