Functional Friday: Knit to Flatter

When I went to Vogue Knitting Live NYC I took a lecture from Amy Herzog. I originally wanted to take her class, but they were completely sold out within a day or two of registration opening. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to take her class, but felt relieved that I would be able to see her lecture.

K2F 1

When I went to the knit to flatter lecture I absolutely loved it! Amy Herzog is an amazing public speaker and kept her audience totally engaged the entire time. She frequently used her own body to demonstrate concepts and give examples of good and bad ideas.

In a nutshell, knit to flatter is about knitting garments to flatter your body type. I am not totally sure what I expected when I walked into that lecture, but I took away a great deal of information that applies not only to my knits, but shopping for clothes as well. The entire lecture hall was given specifications about necklines, sleeve lengths, sleeve styles, embellishments, hemlines and so much more; everything working together to create the best garment for your body.

Since I was unsure how much I would actually retain from this excellent lecture, I bought the book. There was actually a time where Herzog was doing book signings, so I strategically went during that hour and managed to get myself a signed copy.

K2F 2

The book itself is an excellent directory for those who are able to work well with written instructions. All the information from the lecture is in it, as well as 21 different sweater patterns that you can customize to your own liking.

One of the best things about this book is you can see the sweaters knit slightly different on different models. What I mean is, one model is quite tall and slim, the garment she is wearing is long and sleeveless, open at the front with lapels. A couple pages later there is a curvier model wearing the same garment, but it has been shortened and has three quarter length sleeves. The same garment just knit slightly differently. It looks great on both of them, but it is the exact same pattern.

K2F 3

I think Amy Herzog and her merry band of knitters are really onto something here and I would suggest getting yourself a pattern. You can take your own measurements and go through her website, or you can see if any LYS in your area are offering the knit to flatter service. In Toronto, I know the Purple Purl offers knit to flatter. I do have the book, but if I get an opportunity to go to one of her classes, I’ll be all over it!

Technical Tuesday: Explosive…

Happy April Fools! I dread what I will find when I make it into the office today, I am sure there will be ample amounts of startling situations. The best pranks are always prepared for a couple days in advance though; you really need to gather your materials or start faking morning sickness the week before. This is why I am going to talk about yarn bombing. Not only is it a great joke, it’s an amazing stashbuster!

VKL Yarn

Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, Kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk.

From my research I can trace the history back to Bill Davenport. A Houston-based artist, who created and exhibited crochet-covered objects in the 1990s. He stated that he thought of yarn like ‘ultra-thick paint.’ The Houston Press said “Bill Davenport could be called the grand old man of Houston crocheted sculpture.”


By Nicole Gastonguay, photo taken at Vogue Knitting Live NYC

Something about the crocheted objects caught because it wasn’t long before artist Shanon Schollian was knitting stump cozies in 2002 for clear cuts in Oregon. The Knit Knot Tree by the Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio gained international attention in 2008.

The movement moved on from knit covered objects with the innovation of the ‘stitched story’. The concept has been attributed to Lauren O’Farrell, who creates her street art under the graffiti knitting name Deadly Knitshade, from London, UK. She founded the first graffiti knitting collective Knit the City. The ‘stitched story concept’ uses handmade amigurumi creatures, characters and items to tell a narrative or show a theme. This was first recorded with the Knit the City collective’s “Web of Woe” installation in August 2009.

For those who went to any of the Vogue Knitting Live events, Anna Hrachovec has had a display with very small amigurumi at New York and Chicago. I am sure there was one at the event in Seattle too. Any of her books would be a great resource for tiny knitted creatures to assist you in yarn bombing. The link below is to the Vogue Knitting Live Flickr photo stream.


There are several different methodologies you can use and I will go over the two well-known ones in detail. First on the list is the TP technique. You know in movies, TV shows and high school, there is always talk about TP-ing the principal’s house. Originally toilet paper is used, hence the TP, but you can also use yarn! Simply pick your target; car, house, tree, potted plant, filing system and throw loose yarn over it. For bigger objects, see abovementioned tree, car and house, you will want to hold one end and throw the ball. As it unravels in the air, the end will stay anchored in your grip. This will cause a silly string effect and there will be yarn everywhere. You may wish to use several different colours in order to complete the look of chaos.

For smaller items, such as potted plant, coffee cup, telephone, you may wish to unravel the ball over top of said items. If you truly wish to be a pain in the neck to the yarn bombee, you may wish to use several lengths of yarn and tie the beginning of the yarn to the end after weaving the strands through any open spaces. Think the spokes of a bike; those would need to be trimmed off.

The second technique I will evaluate is the couture technique.  This is much more subtle and much MUCH more work. You would probably have to spend a couple months preparing for this one. You would actually knit things and strategically place them. I’ve seen EXCELLENT examples of this around different yarn festivals and squams.

Burger and Fries

By Nicole Gastonguay, photo taken at Vogue Knitting Live NYC

I’ve considered replacing all the equipment on someone’s desk at work with small knitted figures of computer, telephone, coffee cup, etc. But that is a lot more work than I am prepared to do at the moment.

If there are some who would like a more structured approach to their yarn bombing, you can check out this book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Author Leanne Prain goes into detail about stealth, creating your own graffiti tags and how to organize large scale textile events.

Now I will say, yarn bombing is considered graffiti and is technically still illegal in some places, although it is not vigorously enforced. So I caution all to be circumspect in your plans!!

A Bookworm Life for Me!

When I signed up for Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, I decided to go with the big package. When I went to Chicago I got a smaller package and three extra classes by themselves. This time, I wanted the tickets to the Gala and Cocktail Reception. Something else that came along with this package in particular was a $200 gift card to the Vogue Knitting website, which I quickly spent the moment it was in my hands. It will surprise none of you when I tell you that I bought books. That’s right ladies and gents, $200 worth of knitting books and it was spectacular!

VKL Books

The sparkles might be a little over the top, but when books come in the mail. That’s what it looks like to me!

I ended up getting Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 6 (I did not see 4 and 5 on the website or else I would have bagged them as well), Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge (to go with my copy of Knitting Over the Edge) and last, but not least, Vogue Knittting The Ultimate Sock Book and The Ultimate Hat Book. Over the next few weeks I am going to review these books and give you my musings on them.

The first one up is Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Hat Book.

VK Ultimate Hat Book

One of my first problems with buying these books online was, how do you know if you’re going to like them or not? It’s not as though you can simply flip through them, look at the photos and decide if you like the patterns shown there. Not to be deterred in my book-buying experience, I went to Ravelry and looked up the books there. Not only can you see which patterns the book includes, but projects others have completed and shared with the community. I think this really gives an advantage to buying any pattern online or in print, because you can see how others have modified it or how lighting and colour change the look. A hat or sweater you previously didn’t enjoy the look of may be much more flattering when seen on a different model.

This book begins with a word from the author and a brief history of hats. I never really thought much about where knitting came from and how it evolved from a means of making clothing and generating income to a pastime of the middle class. The entire history is only two pages, but interesting in it’s general overview. There is also the ‘anatomy of a hat,’ to clarify terms used in the book, and ‘types of hats’ with illustrational diagrams. In the pages designating the different types of hats, there is a small blurb about the style origin, typical look and special construction information.

I am going to glaze over the ‘basic techniques’ page and move right on through to patterns. They are divided into five categories; basic shapes, cables, lace, colour and embellishments.

My favourite category is basic shapes. Most of the hats in this section are relatively simple, but really showing off the different styles that were covered in the ‘types of hats’ section. One in particular that I like is the Pillbox Hat. It is a unique shape that would suit a smaller facial structure, like mine. The intricate colour work in the photo really drew my eye, as well as the beautiful blue yarn.

Without giving you the whole book, I will say that I am really happy with content. Hats are one of the best gifts to knit, along with scarves, and there are a lot of interesting ideas I had not thought existed before. I guess we know what everyone is going to be getting for Christmas this year…

I will be reviewing The Ultimate Sock Book next Friday so drop in to check it out. I have high hopes for the sock patterns included there. I am also curious about the history of knitted socks. What is now a luxury was once a necessity, can you imagine having to hand-knit all the socks in your sock drawer? I guess I really shouldn’t say that since I KNOW there are people who do that. Respect to you sock knitters, respect.

Hand Spun with Care

When I was at Vogue Knitting Live New York I managed to see Carol Milne’s work. She was positioned outside the marketplace; I usually don’t stop too long outside the marketplace, but these works of art are well worth the time.
Carol was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work.


Where did you come up with the idea for knitted glass?
I was working with round wax that looks like licorice.  It reminded me of yarn and knitting.  So I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could knit with that?”   I worked on knitting with it and experimented with casting it in glass.  It took a while to make it work, but I’m persistent.


Knitted Glass

Beyond Measure
12″H x 16″ x 4″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette


Was there a lot of trial and error coming up with the process?
Yes.  Glass in its most molten stage has the consistency of thick honey.  It doesn’t want to do what I want it to do.  It took me several years to perfect the process, and even now it doesn’t always work.


How long does it take to create one piece?
Difficult to say since it takes about 5 different processes to make each piece.  I’d say a minimum of two weeks, but up to a month or more.  In a good month I can complete 4-6 pieces in a range of sizes.


How long have you been creating knitted glass?
Since about 2006


Knitted Glass 3

10.5″H x 22″ x 7″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal


How long have you been knitting?
Since I was 10.  (in 2006 … HA HA HA)


What are your favourite things to knit? In yarn? In glass?
In yarn and in glass, my favourite pieces are the most complex ones.  In yarn I love detailed cables and stranded colorwork.  In glass, I like detailed pieces like Handmade (photo attached).  In this piece, two hands are knitting themselves.


Knitted Glass 4

Two hands knitting themselves:  a contemplation on becoming my own mentor.
16.5″H x 9″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal and knitting needles

Is it much more difficult to knit the moulds for glass than regular yarn?
I knit WAX and make mould around the wax.  The wax cannot be knit on needles.  It is all intertwined by hand, somewhat like finger knitting.  It is more challenging than yarn, because the wax breaks if stretched too far.  It is also messier.


What are examples of things that turned out extremely well?
You’ll have to look on my website and decide for yourself.  Mostly I don’t show work that doesn’t turn out well.  I destroy it or rebuild it.


Knitted Glass 5

Strike a Balance
13″H x 21″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal

Have you had any catastrophic disasters?
Yes.  I’ve had molds break and glass flow all over the bottom of the kiln.  I’ve broken pieces removing them from the kiln.  I’ve removed pieces from the kiln after several days, only to find that the molds hadn’t filled completely.  Disasters are actually part of the fun.


The best customer reactions you have had?
Vogue Knitting LIVE events have been great.  One woman in New York got a partial view of my work.  She was ooing and Ahhing.  Then the person blocking her view moved out of the way so she could see my whole display.  Her eyes nearly popped out of her head and she exclaimed loudly, “JESUS CHRIST!”  My favourite quote!!


Knitted Glass 2

Made to Measure
12″H x 9″ x 6″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette


Funny anecdotes from any part of your process?
No funny anecdotes come to mind.  Although my daughters think I’m funny.  I always come away from making molds with bits of plaster in my hair and on my face and in my hair and on my arms.  I never notice until they’re laughing at me.


You can see more of Carol’s work on her website!



Dear Dyery

I am happy to announce, I’ve dyed my first skein of yarn… at home… with my own tools… you know what I mean.

It was so much fun! I was a bit apprehensive about messing things up since I’ve never mixed dyestock myself, but it went okay. I would call it a success; I really love the colour I ended up with.
After some consulting with my own personal chemist, we’ve managed to tweak the process a bit in order to simplify the process. I think it will work in our favour.
I’ve been going over my notes from Chicago and New York, trying to remember what I managed to learn. It’s a good thing I took so many notes, or I would be totally lost. That being said, sometimes I stopped in the middle of a thought or made vague points along a separate train of thought.
I am resolute to be more specific in my dyeing notes this time. I bought a notebook that I have labeled my ‘dyery’, that way, I will be able to remember exactly what I did.
I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day. Mine was really good, Paul surprised me with a charm for my Pandora bracelet, and had flowers delivered to me at work. It was a really nice surprise, especially since we agreed to give each other a wedding for all holidays and events.
I did not manage to get a photo of the beautiful flowers that were sent to me, and now they’re starting to look a little… relaxed. You’ll just have to trust me that they were vibrant, colourful, and lovely.
My parents were down this weekend for my Dad’s birthday, he actually liked the socks I made for him; the colour and the socks themselves. I believe the sum total of words said were ‘I actually don’t mind this colour’ and ‘these are actually pretty comfortable’. Which, if you knew my Dad, is pretty much gushing praise for him. I am still working on Paul’s version, I am not completely sure I will have enough yarn, a trip to the LYS may be in my future to complete these bad boys…