Archive for November, 2011

Designer Chat With Joji Locatelli

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Ask any knitter what his or her fantasy job might be and watch how quickly their face illuminates with sheer delight.  Joji Locatelli is a designer living that dream, after trading in a white coat for the multi-coloured sweaters she now knits, and discovering her creative talents in a virtual candyland emporium where the knitting yarns are the ultimate treats.  Joji’s lively demeanor and refreshing enthusiasm catch on like wildfire, as she drops by to chat about designing life and her passion for knitting.     

Joji Locatelli

MM:  Hi Joji, and thanks so much for stopping by today to share a bit about your work and design.  What would you like to drink?

JL:  I’ll have a latte, thank you!

MM:  Has knitwear design always been your chosen career?

JL:  Well as a matter of fact….No!  I studied first to be a physician, and I was a great student back then!  After I received my degree and license, I worked as a doctor until my first son was born.  But I didn’t enjoy my career well enough to continue at it, and dreamt of knitting all the time…so I did whatever I could to leave that profession behind and began looking for a job that was related to knitting.  I found my dream job at a local yarn shop (Milana) where I met some incredibly generous people who have helped me to develop in this business.  At Milana, I get to play with colour, knit samples, and design lines of yarn.  Whatever needs to be done, I am in for it!  Designing knitwear just came my way a year ago…I didn’t really expect any of my designs to be popular, but people really liked them, which has encouraged me to keep doing it.  

Milana

MM:  Working with such wildy colourful and exotic yarns from Manos Artesanas must be like playing in a candy store all day long.  Is it the design idea that you develop first or does the yarn speak to you?

JL:  With Manos Artesanas, the yarn does the trick, it doesn’t speak to me, it shouts at me!  I try to keep the designs simple with this line, because the beauty and the colours in the yarn are so incredible, a more intricate pattern just wouldn’t allow the yarn to glow.  Yes, working here is unbelievable, all the yarn you can imagine, and at the reach of your hand…

Manos Artesanas

MM:  There are so many luxurious soft blends of yarn these days, you must have one special pet fibre that you adore working with?

JL:  Well, I haven’t been blessed with the opportunity yet to work with every blend available…but I know I love merino, in any shape.  For me, there is nothing like a great soft wool.

MM:  What is the knitting ‘vibe’ like in your hometown of Buenos Aires and at your LYS?

JL:  Buenos Aires is a wonderful city to live in.  I am truly in love with my hometown!  But the knitting vibe is very different here from the rest of the world.  I am not talking about the knitters that you find in online communities, those are a minority in Buenos Aires, and yes they do have similar knitting styles to others.  I am talking about the knitters we see every day at the shop.  Argentine knitters love FAST PROJECTS!  Big needles!  Lots of colour, texture…and loads of embellishments!  Lace is not popular here for that reason.  Hahaha.  Even though we don’t have harsh winters, knitters here choose thick yarns, novelty, and chunky blends.  I really love how knitting ‘vibes’ can be so totally different.

MM:  I see you belong to a knitting group, how often do you meet, and what source of inspiration do you draw from your fellow knitters?

JL:  Yes, I am very lucky to have really good knitting friends.  We met in an online community almost four years ago, and they have now become some of my most cherished friends.  We share the same passion for yarn and get together for knitting every Saturday.  My knitting friends are very supportive of what I do, and usually test my patterns for me (a big thank you!)  They even look for new ideas for me to work with.

Veronica, Joji, Federica, Alejandra, Andrea

MM:  You refer to your mom as a ‘Sleeve Master’…. there must be a story behind that special nickname??

JL:  Hahaha, you heard that??  Yes, she is the best!  Well, you know how knitters hate to knit sleeves, right?  You are almost done with a sweater, all the shaping is complete, you have passed through the hardest parts of the design, you try it on, it fits…. everything is perfect!  Not quite.  You still have to make two boring tubes to cover your arms!  But my mom loves to work on them (or at least she tells me so) because they are so mindless… and she can watch tv at the same time.

MM:  Yay!  Teamwork!!

JL:  I know, how great is that!  After I work out some directions for her, she usually knits all the sleeves for me.  The only time I knit them myself is when she is already knitting up the sleeves for another one of my samples.   

MM:  What’s ‘on your needles’ at the moment Joji? 

JL:  Well… I am working on two sweater designs right now.  One of them is a collared cardigan with ties, and flowers, and leaves on the back.  I recently designed a child’s version and it was very popular.  I hope the adult version will do the original justice.  The other design, I just started it today actually, is a cabled hoodie in a chunky yarn that will be knit in multiple directions…. I hope I can make that work!!

MM:  Best of luck with that one, I am sure it will look great.  Is there something that you recall as especially inspiring on your travels? 

JL:  I haven’t had the opportunity to travel very much…so no…but I think travelling must be so inspiring!  As a matter of fact, we are going away on a family trip to Europe next April, and I am already thinking of all the ideas I will bring back home. 

Joji has designed this Big Warm Cowl in Copitos, a super soft thick and thin wool from Manos Artesanas.  Its a free pattern to download and knits up with just two skeins on 19 mm needles. 

Copitos Cowl by Joji

(images courtesy of Joji Locatelli) 

Top Ten Scarves for Fall/Winter

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

By now most of us have had a sprinkling of wintry weather, a few flakes on the car as an early morning surprise, and a snowy coating on the peak of the roof, its inevitable and the only way to combat the elements is to layer on the warmth from head to toe. 

Did you know our favorite winter accessory, the ‘scarf’ owes its humble beginnings to pilgrims in Medieval France?  Originally known as an ‘escarpe’, and worn as a diagonal sash, it was used as a carry-all by beggars to gather money and food along their travels.  It wasn’t until the 1800′s that a muffler, or neck wrap evolved into a scarf and became a vital winter accessory for both men and women.  The popularity of the scarf may have dipped during the last century, but today it is back on top again as the number one knitting project in North America, and the most popular handmade gift item under the Christmas tree. 

Here are the Top Ten Scarves for Fall/Winter from Diamond Yarn, in a wide array of fresh fashionable styles-

Paloma Scarf by Debbie Bliss

The ultimate splurge, a plush scarf to wrap around your neck once, twice, why not make it three times, since it measures in at more than seven feet long.  Paloma from Debbie Bliss is a soft and squishy blend of baby alpaca and merino wool, available in sixteen dreamy shades including this season’s favorite- ‘teal’

Double Crosser Scarf by Universal Yarn

Cable enthusiasts will fall for this Double Crosser Scarf from Universal Yarn’s winter design collection.  Self-striping yarns are still the cat’s meow and Classic Shaded has sixteen purrfect examples to feast your eyes on, including- ‘harvest’, ‘sundown’, and ‘sapphires’ (shown above).   

Sampler Scarf by Sublime

A sassy scarf with lots of substance, in a frost-busting shade of pure merino wool, and super easy to knit.  This sampler scarf is worked in bold blocks of garter stitch and moss stitch, every beginner’s favorite combo!  Check out the massive range of eye-popping colours in Extra Fine Merino DK .

Odisea by Katia

A sporty and stylish scarf to wear indoors or out, just one of the many that Katia has designed this season in mega-size yarns like this one- Odisea, a softly spun wool mix in eight luscious colourways to whip up in no more than an evening on 9.00 mm needles.  

Brushwood by Pear Tree Yarns

Pure and natural, that’s the aesthetic behind the boutique-style company called Pear Tree Yarn.  They produce the finest merino from Australia and focus on sustainability first and foremost.  Opt for a practical classic like this cabled scarf  knit in Supersoft 8 Ply, offered in a dozen lovely opaque shades including- ‘fig’, ‘apple’, and ‘emu egg’.     

Paprika Scarf by Louisa Harding

Passionate about pink and all things girly??  This flirty scarf will turn up the thermostat in a jiffy, knit in Thistle from Louisa Harding, delicious suri alpaca swirled with merino, a yarn that is guaranteed to keep you insulated from the cold this winter.    

Joy in Ruby Beaded Scarf

If you’ve been saving up for a special yarn treat, Grace Hand Beaded from Louisa Harding has come along at just the right time and is showcased beautifully in this picot edged scarf.  Glass beads add a splurge of opulence to silk and merino, in eight shimmery shades including ‘champagne’, ‘frost’ and ‘ruby’ (shown above).

Clove Scarf by Louisa Harding

A divine composition of colour and detailed stitchwork from design master  Louisa Harding, in her ultra feminine Clove Scarf.  Choose your palette of colours from Thistle’s full range of eighteen.  

Park Avenue by Katia

Fall for this delightful gossamer scarf, as wispy and light as fairy wings, Park Avenue from Katia is the first of the self-ruffling family to add the essence of kid mohair and its causing quite a stir in the knitting community.  

Bambu Boa by Diamond Luxury Collection

Bamboo and wool go together like bread and butter to create this unique self-ruffling scarf.  Bambu Boa is a new quality from Diamond Luxury Collection, warmth combined with elegance wins every time.

Spring Preview 2012

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The first weekend in November, and a few rays of bright sunlight were beaming in through the showroom windows as Diamond Yarn’s exclusive collection for Spring 2012 was revealed.  Fun, feisty colour set the mood, with diverse texture and a variety of fibres- bamboo, silk, cotton, merino, and linen are once again the major players.  Following this season’s glittery nuances, the trend continues in smaller doses, specialty yarns are showing up enhanced with sequins, and glass beads.  Self-ruffling novelty yarns haven’t lost their spark either, they just keep morphing into the latest and greatest fashion creations.

It will seem like warm sunny days are just around the corner after scrolling through some of these highlights from the Spring Preview 2012-

Katia Mood Board

A sherbet infusion springs to life as Katia takes the best from the runways and translates it into their Spring collection.  The look is ‘Boho meets Riveria’, with the accent on retro crochet motifs, mega-size stitches, and open air styles.  The finer points are in the finishing, with frills, fringes and lace applique.  Watch for Malinda, a chainette yarn resembling a nautical rope that goes big and bold (knit on 20 mm needles) and Bossa Nova, the cotton equivalent to phenomenal Ondas in a swirl of eight shimmery colourways.

Katia Azahar

All eyes were popping over Azahar from Katia, a distinctive ‘knitting on the edge’ type of  yarn which instantly transforms itself into a lace edging.  Yes, put away the crochet hook and skip all the finger wrapping fuss.  Four natural shades will be available in early 2012.

Louisa Harding Spring Collection

Louisa Harding continues to build on her beaded line with the allure of precious silk, Mulberry Hand Beaded, will especially appeal to all the small project knitters out there.  The irresistible texture of  Delphine, a pure cotton will also appear in her up and coming design portfolio.

Sari Ribbon

Hurray for Sari Ribbon! Louisa listened to her huge following of knitters and this well-loved yarn is set to make its return in all its shiny splendor.

Sublime Spring Collection

Understated elegance in subtle hues, that is the mood for the coming season from SublimeTussah Silk Dk , a 50/50 blend of silk and viscose reappears with four new shades and a fresh breezy catalogue of designs.  Baby Silk and Bamboo Dk adds wonton, roly poly, sweetpea, and beansprout, four soft and sultry shades to the catalog.

Sublime Egyptian Cotton Dk

Filling a niche, as well as a welcome addition to Sublime’s line-up, Egyptian Cotton Dk, unveiled twelve crisp creamy colours and a design book filled with contemporary styles for kids and adults.

Noro

Are you nutty for Noro?  Well……join the masses who adore the hidden rainbow in every ball.  Noro expands the range of artistry to include Ayatori, a wool/silk dk blend in a very refined palette, and Karuta, a medium weight spin of silk, cotton, and wool in eight Koolaid-inspired colourways.  Taiyo Sock is back again, after being so well-received last season, more than just a sock yarn, this cotton, wool, silk mix is soft enough to knit up into a variety of summery styles.

Universal Yarn Spring Collection

Glitter and sequins in the right quantity are the special ingredients in Universal Yarn’s menu of cottons for Spring 2012.  Garden Metallic is an exciting new laceweight combining premium Egyptian cotton with a glitter thread, in thirty-six shades accompanied by a design booklet featuring six exquisite feathery wraps and shawls for warmer weather.  Cotton Supreme, that ultra soft cotton boasting an incredible range of  hues, has now added a sprinkle of sequins to eight of the forty shades for special occasions.

Sirdar Baby Speckle

Baby Speckle from Sirdar certainly will be a best seller backed by proven brand name quality and those adorable baby cheeks make the designs hard to resist.  A 60/40 mix of cotton and acrylic makes this yarn easy care and ultra-soft.

Sirdar Raffaella Dk

A vintage look from Sirdar, and if it reminds you just a little of an old favorite, you are spot on. Raffaella is a cotton blend with an unique crimped quality to keep the garment light and airy.  Complemented by lots of great new patterns, some with a retro spin,  re-invented for a younger generation.

Fabula Cowl

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

The first few frosty mornings in November are a gentle reminder of whats to come as the north wind prepares for its surprise attack, and the phantom swirl of winter looms ahead of us somewhere on the horizon.  Get ready for the deep freeze and add a buffer of warmth with this plush cowl, knit in Fabula by Katia, a supersized wool that feels as soft and comfortable as if its been washed time after time.  On 10.00 mm needles, its a speedy knit, just right as a weekend project, and a great pattern to share with your knitting circle.   

Fabula Cowl

 
Finished Size:  16 in/ 41 cm x 33 in/ 84 cm
 
Yarn:  5 balls Fabula col #92 by Katia

Needles:  10.00 mm

Tension:  8 sts and 11 rows = 4 in/ 10 cm in st st

Cast on 33 sts.

Work in Pattern St as follows-

Row 1- *P1, K3*, rep *to*, end with, P1

Row 2- K2, *P1, K3*, rep *to*, end with, P1, K2

Rep these 2 rows until work meas 31 in/ 79 cm-

Make 3 Buttonholes:  Pattern across 4 sts, YO, K2tog, *Pattern across 10 sts, YO, K2tog*, rep *to* once more, work to end of row.

Work a further 4 rows in Pattern.

Cast off.

Sew 3 buttons to opposite end to correspond.

(Design by:  Michele Meadows)

Choose from one of nine alluring colourways in Fabula including these three delights-   

 

Fabula #97

 
 

Fabula #95

  

Fabula #96