September 2011 Archives

Book signing + new sock pattern!


I'm so excited finally to be able to introduce you to a project that's been sitting in the wings for over two years! Meet My Grandmother's Knitting, a new knitting book by Larissa Brown that features both a pattern by me, and a profile about the Family Trunk Project.

cover of book

It's been a long time coming to see this in print, but the end result is something to be proud of: Larissa and the folks at STC Craft did a beautiful job. The first half of the book consists of profiles on seventeen knitwear designers and the relationships between our families (and/or a specific family member) and our artistic practices. It's a little daunting to find myself in such august company: there are pieces on Meg Swansen's memories of her mother Elizabeth Zimmerman; on the backyard art pieces made by Jared Flood's father; on the knitting and violin-making of Ysolda Teague's grandfather; on Norah Gaughan's artist parents. The profiles are accompanied by vintage shots of the ancestors or relatives under discussion, and it's so cool to learn about the geneses of the knitting practices of so many fellow designers!

Family Trunk Project profile

The second half of the book includes patterns. Many of them are by the designers profiled in the first half, although there are both stand-alone profiles and patterns. When I was first talking to Larissa about the book, she stressed that she wanted the full gamut of patterns from very "serious" (Kristin Spurkland's Norwegian-inspired yoked colorwork Rose & Cross Pullover, for example), to the smaller or more whimsical (Robin Melanson's lovely Vintage Gloves design, or Hanna Breetz's Storm Cloud Shawl)—and I think that variety ended up being a real strength of the finished product. Jared Flood and Ysolda Teague both do lovely, delicate colorwork with the Tilden Hat and Fiddler Mitts, and I like David Castillo's fraternal-twin Conover Mitten design. My own contribution is the 'Olina Socks pattern:

'Olina Socks photograph

Rather than being inspired by any particular family member, as the Family Trunk Project patterns proper are, these socks are a general homage to the Hawaiian islands where Jessie Lambdin and Charles Victor Morine moved, and where my mother and her brothers grew up. The "Blossom" colorway reminds me of guavas and guava juice, and the twisting vines and wide leaf motifs of tropical vegetation.

I'm super-excited to be included in this book, and to see the end results of all Larissa's hard work and that of the many others involved. If you're in the Portland metro area tomorrow, many of us who live in the area will be doing a signing and book release party out in Gresham; please stop by and say hello.

Andersen Fiber Works
20 NW 3rd St
Gresham, OR
6:30 - 10:30pm (signing at 7pm)

They tell me there will be appetizers, beer, wine, and karaoke (!). I hope to see you there. (And to listen to you sing, as I do not do karaoke regardless of the quantity of wine available.) If you aren't in the Portland area, be sure to take a gander through My Grandmother's Knitting at your local yarn shop (it's also available to order through Powell's and Amazon). I'm eager to hear what people think.

Andres: July + August


Hello, long-lost blog friends. After another bit of a work-related slog, I'm finally ready to show you an actual knitting project. I know. Shocker.

It's something I've been working on in between secret projects, sending off proposals, and so on. Something a little more casual; I don't think there will be a pattern, and it's not something I need to plan out fully ahead of time, or fit to a body. But it is something I think will be appreciated: a wedding present for my cousin Andryce and her long-time partner Tyler, who were just married in July.


When David and I had our Partnership Celebration last year, Andryce organized an amazing collaborative gift for us that would last a whole year after our event: for each month of the year, she recruited one or two of our friends or family to send us something in the mail, or take us out for some kind of event. It was so much fun waiting for the surprise of the month, which ranged from a delightful picnic in a Victorian graveyard courtesy of our friends Devon and Abraham, to a flourless chocolate cake recipe from my mom's cousin Jan, to a book of addictively silly verse from our friends John and Katherine. For Andryce and Tyler's wedding, I knew I wanted to do something to replicate the small-gift-every-month-for-a-year idea, but since my skills lie elsewhere than in the organizing of other people, I thought I would make them something instead.

As you may have guessed, I came up with the idea of a blanket. It will eventually be composed of fifteen large squares, all made up in Malabrigo Chunky in one of three colors. My goal is to send a square per month for fifteen months, then to re-collect all the squares, sew them together, and present the couple with their cozy new blanket just as the weather is turning chilly next autumn. (The bride and groom met in South America, so not only is the Malabrigo soft and warm, but it's also vaguely thematically appropriate. Though they met in Bolivia, not Uruguay.) I knit the center square (below) ahead of time, but before I gave it to them I had Andryce and Tyler free-associate words based on the months of the year, which I'll be using as inspiration for all the other squares.


The above square is the first I gave them, and though I tore it out and re-knit it about sixteen times, I'm still not all that pleased with it. Which seemed an inauspicious beginning for a wedding present, but the time came to just let go. They both seemed to like the square when I gave it to them, but I'm sure any knitter can relate to the disappointment of failing to realize the vision you originally had in mind. I was designing this square based on a piece of Viking metalwork that David and I saw when we were briefly in Iceland on our way back from France. Here's an oblique shot of it, which is the best I could do with my long lens:


In the original metal piece, the different "vines" are all of slightly different (and changing) thicknesses, which lends overall balance to the asymmetrical composition. It's an effect I tried many times to duplicate in knitted form, but ultimately didn't manage to capture. Still, Andryce and Tyler seemed to be touched when David and I gave them the first square, and to enjoy petting and gazing at it. So all is not lost.

The couple's free-associated words for August were "green" and "lush," and the top photo is my interpretation of those words in knitting. (Can you tell we all live in the Pacific Northwest? Green, lush August. Well, that's what you get when June and July are both near-constant drizzle.) I'm more pleased with this second square, which recycles a cable motif I designed for a sock pattern which will be available (and blogged here) very soon. I was lucky that this bright, spring green (Malabrigo's "Lettuce" colorway) was one of the three shades David and I had already chosen for the blanket, and the tropical motif communicates "lush" pretty well, I think.

September's phrases are "crunchy leaves" and "smell in air." My third color suggests the crunchy leaves, so I'm thinking about a cable motif that will suggest the wafting odor of woodsmoke. The only problem is that summer seems to have arrived late to Portland! We're finally getting those 96-degree days that were so conspicuously absent from July and August, and it's hard to think about cabling in a heavy wool. Still, I'm not complaining; I know that all too soon we'll be huddled against the rain again with our sweaters and scarves.