Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lotos-Eaters

It took longer than I expected, but I finally finished another mitten design. "Lotus Mittens" is my tenth Ravelry pattern! Since it's (nearly) September, and ten is a nice number, I'm offering the Lotus Mittens for free. You can download the pattern here with a Ravelry account.

 I had some fun with this pattern, modelling it after the traditional Norwegian style of mittens with which I first fell in love. Instead of a Selbu rose, however, I came up with this stylized lotus blossom. Come to think of it-- knit it in red, and it becomes a poinsettia! But that's neither here nor there.

I love the slightly-odd lotus blossoms mixed with the beautiful Knit Picks Stroll yarn. I used Sapphire Heather (the heathered colour yielded amazing depth-- like a dark, shimmering pool) and Granny Smith. Perhaps this was an odd combination to choose, but the colours just pop when paired together.

 The mittens were in part inspired by Tennyson's "The Lotos-Eaters", a weird and mysterious poem based upon an episode in
The Odyssey. You can read the full poem at the University of Toronto's poetry archive.

In other news, only two days until I head out to New Brunswick! I'm looking forward to some relaxing mitten-knitting, as well as cramming as many fun activities into my days as are humanly possible. Although I grew up in Ontario, the Maritimer blood in me always craves the salt air of the Bay of Fundy. Now how to decide how much yarn to bring...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time for a mitt-along!

This week we'll be starting the first hedda knits mitt-along! I'm excited to see how this goes. I've never actively participated in a knit-along, but I love seeing how others have interpreted a pattern I'm knitting, and seeing how different yarn and colour choices affect the look of the finished object. It's eleven billion times cooler when it's a pattern over which I've spent hours agonizing and tweaking to get the perfect look, because then I get to see other people try out the colours I wish I could have used. Sometimes the colour combinations and modifications on my pattern blow my mind, and open up a whole cartload of new ideas.

 Starting August 15th, we'll be knitting my "
La Joie du Printemps" mittens (although anyone is welcome to participate with another hedda knits pattern-- the mittens are all constructed in the same way). 

I have a soft spot for this design as it was my first for-sale pattern, originally designed for an auction held by the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group to benefit Haiti earthquake survivors. The mittens were inspired by Art Nouveau, particularly the work of Alphonse Mucha, the intricacies of floral brocades, and the budding tulips of an Ottawa spring. The colours of the contrast yarn reminded me of lines from one of my favourite poets, Bliss Carman:

Now the lengthening twilights hold

Tints of lavender and gold,
And the marshy places ring
With the pipers of the spring. 

The background colour is
Knit Picks Stroll in bare, while for the contrast colour I used Diamond Yarn Foot Loose in colourway 11 ("copper"). I think Stroll is becoming one of my most favourite mitten yarns-- deliciously soft, sproingy, and with crisp definition, for an incredibly affordable price! I wish I could buy all the colours up (as well as the Palette colours... yum). 

 Please feel free to
join our mitt-along on Ravelry. All participants will be entered into a small draw (there will be a bigger prize draw in next month's mitt-along in honour of my birthday!). 

Monday, August 02, 2010

Spectacular, spectacular!

I love the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge! The lush costumes, creative music usage and (let's face it) gorgeous leading man all contribute to making this one of my favourite films. When I was in Paris, my friend and I visited the section of Montmartre with my father, and did the can-can on the front step-- much to the chagrin of visiting patrons who scuttled past our camera as fast as possible. I think our dance ended with my father dragging us off rather quickly after the club bouncers got wind of us.

One of the interesting things about Moulin Rouge! is the inclusion of the character Toulouse-Lautrec, along with allusions to his paintings. Art Nouveau, the Belle Epoque, vibrant colours and whirling figures-- I could look at paintings from that period for hours (and frequently do, when I'm supposed to be working on something else). 

So. I designed a new mitten pattern based on the Moulin Rouge. It is up on Ravelry now, and I am super excited with the way it turned out, especially since it did not start in an auspicious way. The yarn I originally chose turned the Art Nouveau design to a rather tacky mariachi band. I hate frogging, but frog I did and shelled out for the beautiful Estelle Arequipa (colourway 206). While the Arequipa was thinner than the Knit Picks Stroll (colourway Buckskin), it worked beautifully and provided exactly the look I was imagining. And the alpaca-- luscious!

You can download the pattern from Ravelry here, or click here to add it directly to your cart.