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Yep, You all know what that means…I’m a bridesmaid!

My best friend from High School is getting married this fall in Denver. Unfortunately, I can’t be there for all the fun planning stages (checking out venues, tasting sample menus, designing invitations, trying on bridal gowns, etc) so I’m largely in the dark. My major task right now is picking out my own dress. I’ve been told to wear “Any Blue Dress”. No length, fabric, texture, specific color restrictions.  Now, I do very poorly with loose boundaries. If she mailed me a box of coffee filters, a bag of frozen blueberries and told me I was not allowed to use thread or an iron, I would be able to create something stunning. That’s what art school is great training for; doing incredible things within absurdly tight restrictions. I’d kick butt on Project Runway, except that I’m not such a great seamstress, ha ha!

Anyways, Here are a few of my blue dresses I tried on at David’s Bridal yesterday (some are not blue, but come in blue). I’m just trying to nail down what sort of thing she’s looking for. I’m not exactly clear on what to do with “very very casual, like … cocktail attire”.

My next wedding project is creating the bride’s garter and birdcage bandeau veil. Any tips or links for those would be much appreciated!

In the mean time, reminisce about your own bridesmaid dresses with this little ditty from Deirdre Flint!

I Need Your Thoughts

Well, I always value my readers’ input, don’t get me wrong. But right now I would really appreciate your thoughts, advice, and comments as I move forwards. So, for your consideration:

Miss Eleni with the needlework I was working on from last week

I have an Etsy shop. I’ve had it for a while. I always knew that I wanted to sell my art and craft items. I started the shop before I really knew what to put in it because I knew that I wanted to reserve the name (The Knest). As an artist and crafter I tend to dabble. As mentioned in my previous post, my One True Love is knitting, but I don’t want to put my handknits in my etsy shop for lots of reasons. I have dabbled with selling my prints and drawings from art school, but honestly I know that they mean much more to me than they would to anyone else. I currently have some beaded stitch markers in the shop and I still think those are the right venue for that craft item, though I have not made any sales.

My personal notebook cover. Image Idea borrowed from SublimeStitching.com and will NOT be available for sale.

I am thinking that, as per my previous post, I want to offer embroidered items in the Etsy shop. I am thinking of putting in my embroidered interiors as higher-price-point items and putting in some lower price-point, more practical items. For example; embroidered Moleskine notebooks, embroidered vintage linens (living at my grandma’s house means that I have access to a ridiculous supply of totally unused vintage table linens), embroidered purse-lettes, notebook covers, laptop bags, etc the list goes on. I am thinking of keeping these items in the $20-$50 range depending on intricacy of work and cost of materials.

I would love to get your thoughts on this idea as I move forwards. What would you like to see in the Etsy shop? If I were to embroider an item just for you, what would it be? What would the image be? Can you find any inspiring images to share with me?

Itchin’ for Stitchin’

Well, I have a confession. I have been having a torrid affair. We met years and years ago and the attraction was strong. There was an immediate chemistry that could not be ignored. Oh, it was hot and heavy for a while. A mad passion that consumed everything in our path. But, like most blazing romances, we burned out quickly. I then met my one true love; The One. I knew I would spend the rest of my life learning and growing and nurturing my relationship with The One. I devoted my life to The One. We have been together for years, building a strong and sturdy love. But, despite the deep satisfaction I find in my relationship with The One, I have always carried a torch for that early dalliance. We had our little flings over the years; a brief liaison in college here and there during more stressful times. Nothing I thought too seriously about. I always came home to my One True Love. But, I gave in to temptation last week. I cheated on The One, and I liked it. I felt an itching deep within my bones for something else…some Embroidery. Sure, Knitting will always be my home, my soulmate, but embroidery is my hot little thing on the side. She’s cheap, she’s fast, and she looks to-die-for with lingerie. Don’t tell knitting, but I like to take lots of pictures.

We even did it on my knitting notebook cover!

A tea towel set for my kitchen

My latest endeavor

Right now I am toying around with my latest artistic endeavor… embroidering drawings from my personal sketchbook. I have frequently found embroidery to be a very satisfying bridge between my first love,; drawing, and my current love; fiber arts. My senior BFA exhibition was a series of white canvases embroidered with the subjects of previous screenprints and drawings. My most frequent drawing subject is interiors so now I am working on embroidering those images. I think I will use a 5 increment grey scale palette. The final products will be framed in wooden embroidery hoops, probably about 5 inches in diameter. Perhaps I will put them up for sale on Etsy? I am curious to hear what you think of this new foray into the needle arts.

If you are looking to knit the Stitch Diva Endless Cardi Shawl primarily for warm weather wearing, I would recommend Soysilk or Bamboo fiber.

The Cardi-Shawl can even be worn backwards!

I swatched up SWTC Bamboo, which makes for a very thin, EXTREMELY drape-y garment. Perfect for extra-hot climates or layering this garment with a more fashion forward outfit. I got gauge on a size 6, but would recommend stepping down a needle size to counteract some of the stretching that can occur with bamboo. This yarn has a beautiful barely-there sheen for an extra dash of polish.

In the soysilk camp there are two ways to go: Plied or Tape construction. Both are breathable and easy to care for. For those of you un-initiated to the world of soysilk knitting, I can tell you it is best looked at in comparison to the more familiar cotton.

The plied option is called “Pure” by SWTC. The swatch has the hand of the llama or even the yak/bamboo, shockingly enough. It has a very slight cotton-y halo and is incredibly light in the hand. Like cotton, this option lacks stitch memory. If tugged on, the fabric will stretch and hang the way cotton does. However, because it is so light, it will not pull itself out of shape the way cotton can.

The tape option for this project would be “Oasis” by SWTC. The tape structure adds 2 key feature to this project: texture and bounce. Tape yarns show textured stitches, such as cables, in high relief. This project does not a have a particularly textured stitch pattern, but the tape yarn does give it a little extra personality. Each stitch has perfect stitch definition and those drop stitch rows really stand out. The bounce come from the knitted structure built right into the yarn itself. You can tug on the fabric pretty good and the whole garment just pulls right back into shape with this yarn. The tape yarn does add a bit of weight to the fabric. The heaviness of the yarn balances with its own springiness to create a beautifully draped, bouncy garment.

I have yet to knit up the swatch, but I can tell you this project would also be a joy to knit with SWTC Terra. The cotton/bamboo blend comes in a rich palette of earth tones. This yarn has an intriguing interplay between the earthiness of the cotton and the sheen of the bamboo. In fact, the idea of this garment knit up in this yarn is begging me to go swatch it up right now!

I am a Ravelry Designer!

I am so over the moon to make this announcement:

I have my first pattern for sale on Ravelry!

Honeycomb Shawlette

The pattern is the Honeycomb Shawlette. I cast this on during my student teaching when I just wanted a project to meditate over. It needed to be simple to memorize but require my rapt focus. It needed to be small and smash into my purse without complaint. It needed to be absolutely beautiful. After a year, almost 2 years, on the needles I finally finished it. I wear it everywhere. It is lofty, soft, squishy and exactly what I wanted. I get tons of compliments on it everywhere I go. I have to thank Barbara, a customer at one of the shops I rep at. She went absolutely ga-ga for it. Her enthusiasm and support really pushed me over the edge to write out and code up the pattern and make it available to the public. And here it is! The first of many Knest Designs!

Joanna, modeling the amorphous garment "right side up"

On Thursday I was at Sister Arts Studio in Chicago to kick off a the Cardi Shawl Knit (and crochet) A Long. I first knit this garment (designed by Stitch Diva) last September. After raving about it to Donna at SASI over the pone and e-mail, I knew I just had to drop in wearing it. Just as I suspected, when she saw it in person, Donna decided that we must do this project as a Knit-A-Long.

The whole thing is knit up as one looooong rectangle, knit along the long edge instead of the short. The magic is in the 3 needle bind off. The resulting garment can be worn right side up, upside down, belted, pinned, open, even backwards!  Of all my garment projects, this is my most frequently worn item.

Please Note: photos never do this garment justice, though Donna and Joanna made a valiant effort! She is wearing the XS, which is generously sized enough to be tried on by significantly larger women. Customers who normally knit a size L or even XL are knitting this project in M.

To prepare for the Kick Off event, I knit up a small army of swatches. It was amazing how much there is to think about when planning a garment yarn choice. I admit, I usually don’t spend as much time on this step as I should. That will certainly change now! The key word you’re going to hear over and over with this project is “Drape”. This is not a densely knit wool sweater, it is an exciting foray into the sensuous world of slinky knits. Today I will cover the protein fibers I swatched up.

"Upside Down" and shawl pinned, my personal favorite way to wear this!

The most luscious choice by far was definitely the Lhasa Wilderness by Bijou Basin. It is a 75% yak, 25% bamboo DREAM of a yarn. I was in love before, but after this swatch, I am really dying to knit this garment again with this yarn. The swatch was unbelievably light and soft, but with spectacular drape and a barely-there sheen. The stitch definition was clear. This fiber combination is both breathable, hypo-allergenic, and warm. Considering this project would need just a hair over 4 skeins for the generously sized XS, this is a great “Bang For Your Buck” yak project.

If the Yak/Bamboo is just not in the budget, the new Llama Luxury from South West Trading Company is a spectacular substitute. It comes in a subtle palette of neutrals. The llama fiber is remarkably light, yet insulating (think alpaca). It drapes wonderfully, but has enough stitch memory to keep from looking saggy. The swatch had a slight halo, making it look oh-so-inviting to squish!  Soft and lovely next to the skin, you would need 7 skeins to make the XS.

Wearing it backwards; feels crazy, and yet it totally works!

The most popular choice at Knit Night was the Yin/Yang combination from SWTC. These are sister yarns, each 60%wool, 20% bamboo, 20% silk. Yang also has a iridescent mini-sequins held on by a silk thread. With these yarns you can knit most of the garment in the plain Yin, and then throw in some Yang on the ribbing and drop-stitch rows. It adds some extra sparkle and interest. The yarn itself has great stitch memory and knit up to a rather dense, bouncy swatch compared to the rest. The bamboo and silk contribute enough drape to keep the project hanging as it should.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Swatched With Love; Cellulose Strikes Back!

Handbags for Haiti

We are all deeply saddened by the devastation in Haiti. I am sure many of you will be happy to hear that Jordana Paige is doing her part to send support to the struggling nation. Next week she is offering discontinued and/or damaged stock from the warehouse. All bags will be $50. 100% of these sales  will be going to Doctors Without Borders Haitian Relief. All the bags are in useable condition (no missing handles or gaping holes). Most have minor cosmetic issues like upside-down labels or fabric scratches. The beloved Rio in Red will be available! I know lots of you have been begging to get that one back. This is a rare opportunity to not only get your hands on a spectacular handbag, but also to send support to people in dire need. Please check out Jordana’s Blog for more information.

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