Sunday, 7 August 2011

Hampstead Cardicape

Today, after months of pattern tweaking, editing and testing I am happy to release the Hampstead Cardicape pattern.

You may remember this pattern from my show back in February, it formed the basis of my third look - Autumn Oak:





After the show, myself, my fantastic model Urvi, and our wonderful photographers Rajee and Danmi ventured off into the depths of Hampstead Heath for our very organic photoshoot. Thanks to their wonderful skill and some great luck with the weather we were able to achieve some wonderful shots!



The Hampstead Cardicape is made in 4 pieces, and features a simple yet effective slip stitch pattern to add subtle texture to this unusual silhouette.


The cardicape is fitted closely across the shoulders, and has an oversized shape across the rest of the body. This allows it to flatter both smaller and larger figures.

Originally knit using the sadly now discontinued Patons Shadow Tweed this knit would be suitable for a wide range of heavy aran/light bulky weight yarns, being knit at a gauge of 13sts and 21 rows to 4". During the testing process we used a range of alternative yarns, and results from solid, tweed and varigated yarns were all of interest, in addition to the long stripes of the sample.

This knit is certainly a striking addition to your daily wardrobe, and would make a lovely accessory for special occaisions, and also as a great cover-up during chilly autumn evenings.

This pattern is available for £4.00 and can be found at Ravelry.com. Alternatively, you can buy now.

As always, any queries can be sent to me michaela AT michaelaknits DOT com - happy knitting!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Couture Round Up

I'm a little late to the excitement of the Autumn/Winter 2011 couture shows that were held at the beginning of July, but I thought I'd share some of my opinions with you anyway.

Couture is a special kind of fashion week. It is, in essence, a big publicity drive for fashion brands. The market for couture is incredibly small, many of the labels showing will be happy to sell one or two pieces from these collections. When you consider the price points for these garments (generally over £5000), this is hardly surprising! What a good couture show does do, however, is tell us more about a designer, his skill, propensity for innovation, and his appreciation and understanding of quality.

There were a couple of labels this season that really played to the "big publicity stunt" idea, and gave us some looks that were perhaps a bit wild for most tastes. Most notably, On Aura Tout Vu, with their bizarre legs and arms sprouting from weird places, and Iris Van Herpen, who put out a lovely collection that appears to be inspired by sound waves, using curves, ripples and spikes. I rather like this dress, soundproof rooms are surrounded in this kind of triangular surface. (You can zoom into any of the photos by clicking on them)


The week as a whole has left me a little flat to be honest. McQueen is notable by their absence, the injection of sheer decadance is slightly lacking this season, and overall I wasn't as impressed as I have been previously. But their were a few lovely moments. The big winners were those who took couture ideas and made them into something both wearable and beautiful. For me, this was Armani Privé, Stephane Rolland, and by far and away the king was Gaultier.

Armani Privé had a lovely concept (and I love a good concept), mixing traditional Japanese shapes and fabrics with modern formal tailoring. There are some lovely, very wearable pieces at the start of the collection before the arrival of some stunning evening wear. This is a label that will sell couture, so the mixture of wearability and beauty is key. My favourite is this fitted look:


Gaultier also had a very clear concept. Oh, how I would have loved to be in their studio when this was going on. Looking through this collection you step back into the time of Al Capone, and, a few dodgy male model choices aside, the gangster and his moll are very clearly represented. If you check out one collection, it should be this one, go on, look here! There are a couple of knits here (they are almost entirely absent from couture), and as expected, they are very exciting.


Without doubt I would just live in that second one.

Third of my favourite collections was Stephane Holland. A much smaller label, this collection, like Armani's, mixed in a lot of formal tailoring into what was overall just a beautiful, feminine and interesting collection. I absolutely love this oversized jacket:

So film noir!


Lastly I couldn't not show you this knit, as you're bound to see it at some point. Harking back to "couture for publicity" this gown of cables surely fulfils that brief!





All photos from catwalking.com

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Post Knit Nation doings

 Since the chaos that was Knit Nation I've been taking a bit of time to catch up on all of the things that were postponed during all that crazy (and what wonderful crazy it was!) It was only this morning I was reminded that I have yet to give you an update on what I bought and what I've since been up to.

I did get a couple of bits...

 Such as this lovely skein from Habu! When Habu were announced as once of the vendors for Knit Nation I danced around the room, very excited to get to see more of their yarns in person. As the time grew closer and circumstances changed I knew I wasn't going to be able to indulge myself as much as I may have liked. As such, I carefully searched through their beautiful stand before coming across this fantastic skein of 100% cotton bouclé laceweight. This really was my only real treat to myself at Knit Nation (frozen yoghurt aside), and I have no idea what will become of it as yet!

 The next skein was bought with the complete opposite of intentions. This gorgeous skein of Old Maiden Aunt 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon sport weight is destined for a special design coming up soon. The colourway, Baobhan Sith, is a really deep wine, with a lot of subtle semi-solid texture.


 I was very lucky to receive 4 skeins from Tash, one of our fantastic crew members at Knit Nation (you may have seen her calling the bingo!). Tash runs yarn store Holland Road Yarn Company in Wellington, New Zealand, well worth the trip if you're in the area. She was handing out samples to all sorts of important people and somehow I managed to persuade her to let me try some yarn too.

The top photo is of some Zealana yarn, which is made with possum fur and merino. I'd heard alot about the use of Possum in yarn production, and the debate around it's usage (Possum fibre is reclaimed from the pelts of culled possum in New Zealand). Many of you know that I am and have been a vegetarian for many many years, and as such I did read around this issue carefully. Ultimately I cannot object to the use of what would genuinely be an otherwise wasted product, and, unlike the leather industry, the possum fibre industry is not impacting the decision to kill these animals.

The yarn itself is far more unusual to the touch than I expected. The closest analogy I can make is that stroking it feels like stroking my cats. Which I guess makes sense when you consider that the possum fibre is hair and not wool. I can't wait for a spare minute to start swatching with this, it's going to be so much fun!

Tash also has her own range of hand dyed yarns under her label Knitsch. I highly highly highly recommend you check these out, her colours are amazing. I don't have any photos of them in the skein because the first thing I did upon returning from Knit Nation on Sunday night was wind them. I just needed to feel them properly, and they feel amazing! The ball on the left is Auburn, and by the end of the weekend I was boring all of the crew by continuously showing them how great it is. This is going to become a bright winter cowl (I think). The ball on the left is Heart of Glass and will be perfect for socks. You can buy yarn from her website, and she does ship internationally!

Tash also wrote a very lovely post about me and my designs (and my incontinent cat) that you can check out here, she mentioned the schematic for Koho being what attracted her to the design, so I have now added that to the Ravelry pattern page here.


The final 3 skeins of yarn that I bought at Knit Nation (of the 5 total) are already well on their way into my new design, the Ropery Pullover. As you can see, progress has been speedy, I've already finished the back and sleeves, although the front is where the fun really is. I'm using Easyknits.co.uk Merino/Cashmere/Nylon (which I suspect may be the same base yarn as the OMA I bought, but don't quote me) in colourway Gun Metal.


Please don't mock the sketch. The only A I ever got in art was for drawing a shoe. :)

I'm hoping to publish this pattern by the end of August, leaving the perfect amount of knitting time before the cold weather really starts. The pullover is unique in it's deep and flowing cowl front, making it a perfect second layer in the autumn, or a great shape for accessorising with handknit scarves and shawls. It is an exercise in short rows, and uses the Socktopus Shadow Wrap technique extensively, so makes a great tutorial piece too, although any short row technique can be used.