Road Trip

It is official, next week I will be heading off onto the roads of the Wild Wild midWest on my very first solo knitting road trip! Woo hoo!

I have mentioned it here before, the first stop is the Small Knits Symposium. According to their website the event is about:

“Hats. Cowls. Mittens. Gloves. Scarves, shawlettes, and of course, socks. How we love those small projects, in small and not-so-small yarns. The Small Knits Symposium is an all-weekend retreat focused entirely on those beloved small knitted wearables.”

I am super excited to be attending this small event, sometimes small is better in that you don’t feel like you have to run all over the place to experience all the things. I will be taking classes from both Sivia Harding and Lorilee Beltman and I have every confidence that I will be completely inspired. I signed up for a Mobius class from Ms. Harding and I am hoping that it will finally click. I have tried and tried to figure it out on my own with the You Tubes but it just hasn’t stuck.

After the Symposium I will be heading down to Louisville, KY to visit some family and then I will jump back into the car and drive up to the Cincinatti, OH area to visit Lambikins Hideaway. Through the magic of Ravelry I have managed to form a wonderful relationship with some of the lovely ladies at this awesome store. They have taught a couple of classes based on my patterns and participate in the Ravelry LYS program where they can sell my patterns directly to customers.

Roller Coaster cowl - by Barbara Benson

Designed for crazy yarn!

They are also celebrating the anniversary of the shop (what a coinkydink) so it is going to be a blast. I will be bringing samples to put up as a “trunk show” and teaching a class on the Roller Coaster cowl. I will be there pretty much all day Thursday May 1st and then in the morning hours of May 2nd. If you are in the Cincinnati area please drop in and say hi, it would be great to meet people. You may find me shopping for yarn.

I can’t stay there all day on Friday because I have to then drive to Indianapolis for  TNNA. TNNA stands for The National Needlearts Association and it is the trade association for all things knitting, crocheting, crosstitchey, ect … and this is their Summer show. This is my first time going but I believe that it will be the total opposite of the Small Knits Symposium. I am guessing that it will be complete sensory overload. But again, I have no doubt that it will be completely inspirational.

TNNA ends Tuesday May 6th and I will return to Louisville for a brief rest and then come back home to Atlanta. All total I will be gone about 2 weeks. Crazy time!

I wanted to put all of this out there just in case there are people who are going to be in the same vicinity that I could meet. If you are going to either SKS or TNNA give me a holler and hopefully we can manage to run into each other. If you are in the Cincinnati area definitely come by Lambikins Hideaway (and I put into my contract that I get to have Skyline Chili at least once – definitely one of my bucket list food things).

If you aren’t in the MidWest – you could still help. I don’t think I have taken this long of a drive by myself in a very, very long time. Do you have any tips for surviving solo road trips? What should I make sure to pack/bring/have in the front seat to save my sanity? Any audiobooks that would be perfect and not with the putting me to sleep? I would love to know!

 

Summer Lace-a-long

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

The Summer Lace-a-long that is. After much chatting on Ravelry there has been enough interest to officially declare that we are having a lace-a-long. Right now we are in the planning stages and everyone is welcome to come over and join in. 

The actual event will begin on May 15th so that it is well and truly Summer. We haven’t decided on an end date yet, but it will be some time in July or August. This is a nice, long, leisurely  event – just as Summer should be.

Captive by Barbara Benson

Captive, just in case you want beads too.

To help knitters decide what pattern they might want to make I created a Pinterest board that has all of the qualifying patterns in one place. If you click through you can see all of the patterns quickly. There are 13 patterns that you can choose from!

Alia
and Curiouser
Atreides
Caladan
Captive
Drooping Elm Headband
Fairweather Hat
Golden Lion Throne
Gyre and Gimble
Irulan
Lady Jessica
Scarab Shawl

The 13th one is Mapes and it needs a little explanation. As written Mapes does not have enough lace in it, but the nature of the pattern is one that encourages improvisation and creativity. So, if you want to do Mapes and add in your own lace then it totally counts!

Mapes by Barbara Benson

My Mapes in Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere

When I made a fingering weight Mapes for myself I couldn’t resist adding some lace along the bottom. It totally works.

As is customary in a knit-a-long, there will be prizes! I am working on rounding up some fun stuff for a “Grand Prize” but there will also be smaller prizes both at the end and as encouragement along the way. So not only will you have a cheering squad to help motivate you to finish a project, you could win prizes too.

We are also planning a stitch marker swap, but I will talk more about that later. If that sounds like fun to you check out the planning thread. Who doesn’t need more stitch markers?

Gyre and Gimble

Have you seen the new issue of Knit Edge magazine from Cooperative Press? If not you should.

I want to let you in on a little secret. When a designer has something that is being published in a magazine (be it electronic or hard copy) they are just as surprised as you are when it hits the public. We have a general idea what season it is going to come out in, but as far as opening up Ravelry and seeing it pop up in the new patterns feed. Just as surprised as you!

Gyre and Gimble by Barbara Benson, from Knit Edge Issue 5

A close up, for suspense purposes.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at Ravelry and found I had a new pattern listed under my name. Woo Hooo! So excited! And this is one that I have hinted at and wanted to show off for a good little while. Remember when I said that I might (Ha, might) have more Alice in Wonderland up my sleeve? I totally wanted to say “Just you wait until you see my cool new scarf!”

Gyre and Gimble by Barbara Benson, from Knit Edge Issue 5

It is super long, the neck is wrapped twice!

This is Gyre and Gimble. It has been in the works for some time concept wise. I have been wanting to do something that uses the same concepts and techniques as Golden Lion Throne but that in no way even resembled it. As I started playing around with combing slipped stitches/mosaic and lace in different ways I stumbled upon this technique that is kinda, sorta like traveling cables in that you have a line of stitches that move across the surface of your knitting. But instead of raised cables you have lines of color.

Gyre and Gimble by Barbara Benson, from Knit Edge Issue 5

See how long? This is loop + pull ends through style.

Then I decided to see how far I could push the illusion and create something that looks like the stitches had been embroidered or woven into a solid ground all tapestry like. It still has the repeated nature of mosaic color-work, but I don’t think that anyone would look at this scarf and go “Hey, nice stripes.” Because that is what you are knitting. Stripes.

Well, stripes and lace with slipped stitches. That is the magic combo. The other magic combo going on here is the yarn. Pixie from Dragonfly Fibers in Another Kind of Green & That Ole’ Chestnut. Kate at Dragonfly is a magician with the dye pots and I think that there are any number of colors that would look awesome in this scarf. For me it was a close thing between doing this green & brown scheme to evoke leaves vs going with charcoal and red/orange to make flames.

Gyre and Gimble by Barbara Benson, from Knit Edge Issue 5

Here is the whole thing flat.

Another reason I have been chomping at the bit to show this piece off is how happy I am with how the photographs turned out. I used a new, awesome, model to whom I am totally grateful for getting up too early on a freezing morning (do you see the ice? ICE in Georgia!) and looking so beautiful. For once the weather cooperated fully and things went beautifully if freezing-ly.

Finally, if you pop over to either Knit Edge or Ravelry and plop down your cold, hard … umm … PayPal/Plastic … you not only receive this pattern but an entire magazine. The concept of Knit Edge is that while yes it has patterns (a total of 5) it also has really fascinating articles about knitting and the knitting industry. And the patterns are deliberately a little more complicated or interesting than your standard magazine fare. I also believe that, on the Knit Edge page, they are offering a special for new subscribers.

So, there it is! Click on over to Ravelry and say Hi! to Gyre and Gimble. If you like it, maybe favorite or queue it. Leave a comment if you feel the need. And guess what? This will totally count in the Lace-a-long!

 

It’s been a-long time.

Tee, hee, hee. Pardon my pun. I was just discussing with my partner that I feel that puns are the lowest form of comedy and here I go picking the low hanging fruit.

I have a plot cooking up in my wee little brain. It has been quite some time since our last knit-a-long and I thought it would be good to start throwing some ideas against the wall and seeing what might stick.

Caladan by Barbara Benson

Caladan has great lace!

Last year we did a “bead-a-long” where you could knit any of my patterns as long as it had (or you added) beads. This year I was thinking that we could have a Lace-a-long because the Summer is totally for lace knitting. There is also a distinct bias because I love lace.

Scarab Shawl by Barbara Benson

Scarab Shawl, all lace – all the time

I started this discussion over in my Ravelry Group but thought I would bring it up over here too just to get the idea rolling. This is currently in the planning stage and I thought that would be the plan for April – planning. My thought was for the KAL to run through the summer, starting some time in May.

We have already cooked up the idea of having two categories, one for new projects and one for WIPs. So if you have a partially completed piece that you have been meaning to get to, this could be your motivator.

Please feel free to add some input in the comments or come on over and join the conversation on the Rav group. I want to have some fun and I am sure y’all have some great ideas that I have not thought of.

Remember Fatimah?

My lovely model, Fatimah? Well, I have been shooting some of her new patterns  for a collection she is creating for The Verdant Gryphon.

She released her new cowl set Afreet today and I wanted to show off the photographs. I am really pleased with how they came out and you know how I love looking at the pretties and sharing them with y’all.

Afreet Cowl by Fatimah Hinds, photographed by Barbara Benson

This one is my favorite.

Starting things off with a bang is my favorite shot of the day. I was able to indulge my more arty side with some forced depth of field and creative composition. This kind of artyness is my instinct in photography, but in the past I have always wanted to shoot things so that they are abstracted out and simply become color and form. My challenge has been trying to find a happy place where I can indulge my arty tendencies and still effectively communicate to the viewer important information about the knitted item. I feel that this shot brings both elements in a successful way.

Afreet Cowl by Fatimah Hinds, photography by Barbara Benson

Could he be more handsome?

Menswear is particularly challenging. Maintaining a strong masculine look while still showing off the pattern can be another hard thing to balance. Of course it helps when you have a wonderful model to work with. Another big plus is having the designer right there who knows precisely what element of the piece they want highlighted.

Afreet Cowl by Fatimah Hinds, photograp

Shooting actual couples is great for chemistry.

One final shot that shows off both of the cowls equally. Here the challenge was the contrast in color of the yarns. Having the gray not be too dark while at the same time not blowing out all of the details in the cream yarn … yeah, that was fun. Luckily the weather was very cooperative and remained overcast for the entire shoot. If it had started getting sunny then we would have had some major problems.

I hope that y’all like hearing about my photography adventures as well as my knitting stuff. If you could let me know in the comments yeah or nay that would be great! And don’t forget to check out Fatimah’s new pattern on Ravelry.

Behind the Scenes

It has come to my attention in a roundabout way that there are some individuals who are under the impression that the lovely woman that I have been using as a model is in fact me.

In Uffish Thought - a shawl by Barbara Benson

This is Fatimah.

This is not true. I totally wish I was as statuesque, graceful and photogenic as my model, but alas I am not. I am also older and more generous in proportion. Fatimah makes a great model and she also happens to be a gifted knitwear designer. I have featured one of her patterns on this blog previously.

Yep, there I am. Photo courtesy of Holly Clawges

Yep, there I am. Photo courtesy of Holly Clawges

 

I studiously avoid having my photograph taken, it is something that I have done all of my life. Luckily for you (I guess) one of the ladies in my knitting posse brought her new camera to knit night a couple of weeks ago and took some pictures. She managed to get a shot of me that I do not hate with the burning passion of a thousand suns. In fact, I think it is a really good picture which is more a testament to her skill than me.

So, there you have it. Looking at this picture again I realize it is time for me to make an appointment with my hair stylist. I need to get some new color. I loved the teal but I am thinking maybe purple this time.

In Uffish Thought – a shawl

The time for teasing is over. The new shawl has arrived!

In Uffish Thought - a shawl by Barbara Benson

This shows you the whole shape

In Uffish Thought. As I mentioned the name is an Alice in Wonderland reference, I think it is fun and I can guarantee you that if you search for this in the Ravelry database you won’t get many other hits!

I love designing shawls that use and show off a single skein of beautiful hand-dyed fingering/sock weight yarn. It might have something to do with the state of my stash and an overabundance of skeins that meet that description – but I don’t think I am alone in that particular boat.

In Uffish Thought - a shawl by Barbara Benson

Wearing the shawl “bandit” style.

I also love garter, but it sometimes gets tedious. The texture in the body of this shawl is not-quite-garter. It has a little surprise in there to break up the monotony and keep you on your toes. Another little surprise is the edge treatment. Wanting to get away from slip stitches or garter edging I went with wee cables. They are so much fun and I never even used a cable needle.

Do y’all know how to cable without a needle or do I need to do a post on that. If so I can totally do a post on that!

In Uffish Thought - a shawl by Barbara Benson

I couldn’t resist this shot.

Another feature of this shawl I would like to point out is its awesome drape. The fingering weight yarn is knit on size 6 needles and it produces this lovely, flowing fabric that just falls beautifully. Because the garter like texture naturally contracts the fabric doesn’t look like it is too lacy, just nicely open.

In the teaser post I also mentioned The Copper Corgi yarn that I used. This was the first but will not be the last time I use this dyer – mark my words. It also gives me a little happy moment to know that she is based out of Savannah. Being a resident of the fine state of Georgia myself it is fun to use another local product for my work. Perhaps I should track down some more ATL designers and GA yarn people and make a Peach State Pattern book. Would there be any interest in that?

In Uffish Thought - a shawl by Barbara Benson

Worn as a standard shawl

As always, I have too many pictures. I just cannot resist. The other thing I cannot resist is this shape. I may or may not already be working on another shawl in this shape. ;) When reviewing this post and looking at the pictures anew I may or may not have just had another different idea for this shape.

I hope y’all like it because it might stick around for awhile.

Do you have a perfect skein of sock/fingering weight yarn for this pattern? Tell me about it in the comments. I love vicarious yarn porn.