Rayhmah recently designed the Hydrangea Shrug using Rhapsody Light and Beaded Mohair & Sequins. She spoke with us about her design process and her background. 

1.      What was your inspiration for the Hydrangea Shrug?

It was the colour. Since I was introduced to Artyarns, H16 has been my favourite colour beside H26 and 904. This beautiful mix of lavender and light blue reminds me of Hydrangeas, sunsets in northern areas with the ice reflecting the soft shades of the painted sky or also some kinds of mother of pearl. When I had the chance to put my hands on the skein Rhapsody Light and two Mohair Splash in H16, I just couldn’t resist. Even winding the balls was a pleasure. So these three skeins were sitting there waiting for the right pattern to happen so to say. I found that I liked the Mohair Splash most in stockinette and a shrug or bolero was what I had enough yardage for.

2.      Do you follow a specific philosophy as a designer? If so, what is it?

Creating beauty in simplicity is an art and my goal at the same time. I have a soft spot for elegant, feminine and discreet fashion with extraordinary shapes that becomes unique because of it’s details. It’s not easy to make something simple look special but once achieved, it makes the design fabulous.

3.      What is your design process, in general and specifically for this piece?

Usually it starts with the yarn and what it reminds me of. Nature, scents, colours, fine and sophisticated traditional handwork …  These are the things that move me emotionally. Just like a beautiful fabric brings the image of the finished garment to my mind, a beautiful yarn in combination with what moves me initiates the same for knitted designs. What I design is never static. It develops and changes during the process. The finished design must not necessarily look like what I thought of at first. Sometimes a knitted stitch pattern or shape comes out differently or looks better or worse in a specific yarn. If it feels right, I keep going, if not, I unravel and start over. My feeling tips the scales. If it doesn’t feel right, I will never be happy with what I have on my needles.

 

When I knitted the Hydrangea Shrug, I wanted the eyes focused on the beautiful yarn, so the design itself had to be rather simple. The Lace gives it a final touch, femininity and elegance yet does not distract too much from the beaded yarn.

4.      What are you most proud of about your piece?

Actually I’m not proud. I’m very self-critical and rather surprised by the positive response it gets. When I look at my designs, I always see something that I could have done better. Being praised this much just makes me humble because I don’t see myself like that.

5.      What were your favorite qualities about the yarns you used?
My professional background (master bespoke tailor) made me become very picky when it comes to fibres and threads, may it be a woven piece of fabric or a skein of yarn. I love to buy hand-dyed yarns of high quality natural fibres like smerino, silk, cashmere or mohair. Amongst others, ending up with Artyarns is a natural consequence. What I love about Artyarts is that there are only the finest fibres used: Japanese Silk, Itailan Cashmere… paired with hand-dyeing it’s the crest of what is possible.

 Find all of Rahymah’s beatuiful designs on Ravelry here!

On July 15, 2014, we are starting a knitalong for the Lace Tonal Tee.  You can use any Artyarns yarn to join the knitalong.  If you want to make it using the Silk Pearl kits or Regal Silk kits, here are some of your options:

When you purchase one of these kits, you will get the full pattern, which is actually two separate options:

Lace Tonal Tee

Shown in Chili Rose and Stepping Stones colorways in Silk Pearl kits

Shown in Regal Silk Blue Turquoise Colorway

The Lace Tonal Tee comes in just 2 sizes, since it is oversize, and you will be able to make it longer with more skeins that come with the kits for the larger sizes.

 

If you prefer to make the easier non-lace version of the tonal tee, you will receive a pattern with your kit for the Piped Tonal Tee:

Shown in Dreamy Blues colorway of Silk Pearl Kits

This tee is knitted in all stockinette, with the exception of the (k1, p1) rib at the bottom hem, and a lovely piped edging is applied to the neckline and sleeves with the darkest color.  You will be switching colors in the round, although you are never working with more than two colors at a time.  The great thing about switching colors in the round is that the color transitions are really subtle, since you are able to change color every round, and not cut the yarn ( as compared with every other row in traditional straight knitting).

The tricky thing about switching colors on every round without cutting the yarn is you will need to mark the first stitch of each round, and make sure to knit it with the new color.  But you will need to slip that first stitch, instead of knitting it, every other round, to maintain the color changes and make sure that they start in that first stitch. Normally when knitting in the round, your rounds move  one stitch to the left, and unless you want to have a diagonal color change “seam,” it is best to mark the stitch so that you always knit it with the new color or slip it when it is already presenting itself in the new color on every other round.

Other than that, this is a lovely television-watching option to the more complex lace version that requires concentration.

Here are the links to the Ravelry pages that contain more details including information on where to purchase the kits and available sizes.

Lace Tonal Tee

Piped Tonal Tee

 

 

Lisa Hoffman is a noted knitwear designer. Her designs have appeared in Vogue Knitting, Iris Schreier’s One + One book series, knit.wear, and Knit Simple, among (many) other places. Lisa’s designs lean toward fashionable yet classy pieces that work for any age. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her newest scarf design in Ensemble Light, Belweather.

What was your inspiration for the scarf?

The softness of the yarn. I knew it would make a lovely lightweight scarf so I paired it with a simple lace pattern that would work up quickly, not curl, and look smart on both sides.

Do you follow a specific philosophy as a designer?

I try to design lace patterns that are interesting to work but not too complicated, easy to follow by an advanced beginner/intermediate knitter. I like that I have to think a bit from row to row, if the pattern is too boring I will lose interest with the piece before it’s completed.

What is your design process, in general and specifically for this piece?

I usually swatch different stitch patterns to see what will look best and achieve the result I want for the particular fiber. I will block the swatches and think about what they want to be. Next I will sketch, do some math to figure out the stitch count appropriate to the lace pattern, and get started. With this pattern I knew I needed to add selvedge stitches to keep the edges from curling.

Did the yarn and/or color play a large role in guiding the design?

The color is sooo very important! I have always loved teal, and I originally made this for myself.

What were your favorite qualities of Ensemble Light?

As this is a silk and cashmere blend, there is a slight difference in how each fiber absorbs the dye – there is a beautiful depth of color that adds dimension to a flat knit.

What other pieces that you’ve designed in Artyarns yarns are you most happy with?

One of my very first pieces published in Vogue Knitting Magazine was a lace coat (#15 Lace Coat, Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008) and I just loved working with the yarn and the amazing variety of colors. The following year I had fallen in love with a deep red in Artyarns Cashmere Sock and decided to work up a pair of mittens, they ended up in Vogue Knitting Fall 2009 and Vogue Knitting: Mittens and Gloves. More recently I am so proud to have had pieces included in all of Iris Schreier’s One + One books, every one of which has been quite popular.

 

You can find Lisa on Ravelry as nycknitr. And guess what? She is offering Artyarns blog readers $2 off on the pattern with coupon code ARTYARNS!

Today we have a special guest post from Evelyn, who designed a gorgeous shawl out of Ensemble Glitter Light color 195 silver. Artyarns loves working with independent designers. Please contact us if you are a designer interested in a collaboration!

I had water in mind when I started designing the Ruscella Shawl.  I was inspired by the thought of a summer vacation on the beach, walking in the water with a warm breeze sweeping over the ocean, watching the waves leave their ripple marks on the sand.  The two border patterns have a wavy look and the name of the pattern is Ruscella, which means a stream or a brook in Italian. Working with the Ensemble Light yarn felt like water flowing through my fingers.

 

This simple construction makes this shawl a quick knit. The border is worked first, over 29 stitches to begin with (a few increases within the 16 row repeat takes it to 32 stitches at the center of it.) Stitches are then picked up on the side of the shawl to form its body. This pattern comes in 3 sizes and the first 2 can be worked using only one skein of the Ensemble Light Glitter. The smaller size has a few special elements: a hem and an i-cord to tie it and keep it in place. For the larger size, using a skein or two of the Artyarns Beaded Silk Light for the border and switching to the Ensemble Light Glitter for the body would make an absolutely stunning piece.

 

I’m in love with how beautifully the lace stitches came out in this yarn and how the silver glitter adds a feel of luxury, something very special – a piece to cherish for years to come. I love this bold colorway (color 195) of red and purple blending throughout the rows. This project could also easily be turned into a wedding shawl with in an ivory or white colorway (color 250). The large skein makes it easy to work this project. You will cut the yarn only when you are done with the bind off!

Let this design inspire you and take you to your happy place.

Evelyn is offering a special discount for Artyarns blog readers! Get 10% off on the Ruscella Shawl with coupon code JUNE2014.  Valid until June 30th.

The May contest starts today!  We’ll choose two winners to each receive one Duets Kit or Duets Silk Kit in the colorways Ocean Life (left) and Silver Lining (right). These are brand new kits that incorporate two of our yarns in different weights.  Duets contains one skein of Silk Halo twisted together with Supermerino, while Duets Silk contains Regal Silk and Supermerino.  They are both gorgeous in the skein, and in the finished product, as well!  The labels on the kits contain a website and coupon code to retrieve the patterns for free.  Iris designed two complimentary patterns for the kits – a cowl and a scarf:

Are you interested in winning this month’s prize? If so, please tell us your favorite Artyarns color - what inspires you about this color?  What does it remind you of – the beach? A fruit stand in Mexico? A sunset you once saw in Wyoming?  Leave a comment below with your entry.  We will choose our favorite response. The criteria are for your post to be interesting, descriptive, and genuine  - so write carefully and colorfully! We will choose and announce the winners May 29th.

When most people first learn to knit, they pick up an inexpensive ball of yarn, some random needles, and knit, rip out, knit, rip out, until they can eventually make a swatch without any mistakes.  From this point on, a new knitter may decide to graduate to yarn that they find appealing, both visually and tactilely.  If this knitter is lucky, they will eventually find their way to Artyarns! In our opinion, it is the pinnacle of luxury yarn.

I remember my first experience with Artyarns – Iris had just created the now very popular Ensemble Light, and gave me a skein in color 310 to knit the Undulating Leaves Shawl. I handled it very delicately because it felt so precious!  Once I started knitting with it, I loved the softness and shine of the cashmere/silk blend.  It was so exciting to know that I was creating something that was going to be very special once completed.

Our third contest revolves around this idea of first experiences.  We want to know the story behind your first interaction with Artyarns.  Did you see a friend knitting with a skein and fell in love? Did you see it at a shop?  What was your first project using Artyarns? Which yarn did you use? We are interested in knowing your story!  Make it engaging and creative – this will not be a random drawing.

NOTE: This contest is only open to those who have physically knitted or crocheted (or otherwise crafted) with Artyarns yarns only.  Please leave your entry in the comments below, and make sure you leave your email address or Ravelry id so we can contact you if you win. The contest is open until April 20th.  Only one entry per person, please.

Now for the prize: the winner will receive the beautiful skein of Ensemble Light in color 2225 shown above, along with the physical pattern book Ensemble Light Collection, vol. 2, as well as a digital copy sent to your Ravelry library!

We’re so excited to read your entries!  Please allow a bit of time for your comment to appear, as they are moderated.

 

-Samantha

We received some really creative and gorgeous entries (you can see them all in our Facebook album), and here are the winners! In first place was Suzi M.’s orchids with Rhapsody Light and Beaded Mohair & Sequins in color 904, which received 140 likes! Our runners-up were Emily M.’s impressionist painting and Ensemble Light color 502, and Tracie B.’s fish and Ensemble Light color 135.

Suzi has won 2 skeins of Beaded Pearl & Sequins, and Tracie and Emily have each won a copy of our 2013 Knitalong Collection Book!  Congrats the winners, and thanks to all who entered and voted!  We have another contest coming up in April, so keep you eyes peeled on April 1st for the contest details and to find out what you can win!

During the month of March, I’ll be hosting a knitalong for this jacket:

  

It is a very simple design that is knitted from the bottom, kimono style, up and around, in one piece.  Here’s how:

Step 1: Start with the Right Front.  Complete the Right Sleeve by using a Knitted Cast On to add stitches to your needle, then knit it right up to the shoulder.  Place the stitches on a holder or waste yarn.

Step 2: Continue with the Left Front.  Complete the Left Sleeve by using a Knitted Cast on to add stitches to your needle, then knit it right up to the shoulder.

Place all the stitches on a single needle.  Knit the right front, add stitches for the neckline with a Knitted Cast On, then knit right across the left front.  You are now ready to work the back.

Step 3: Complete the sleeves by knitting as many rows as you knitted on the front.  At this point you can join the sleeves on each end by taking an extra needle, picking up the sleeve stitches from the cast on row, and using a 3-needle bind-off bind the stitches together.

Do the same on both sides.  Or you can wait to seam the sleeves later.  Whatever you prefer.

Step 4: Continue to knit down the back, and you can actually attach the sides on each row as you come to it, to avoid seaming later.  Again that is optional.

This schematic shows you the dimensions of the finished jacket:

 

Let’s talk about materials:

I used Beaded Mohair and Sequins for the pink jacket, color 1024 Metal.  For the blue jacket, I am using Beaded Silk Light color 903 Gold.  My recommendation is any of our beaded yarns, like Beaded Mohair, Beaded Mohair & Sequins, Beaded Silk Light, Beaded Silk and Sequins Light.

If you are substituting yarns, I suggest using the heaviest Artyarns yarn you can find.  Perhaps Silk Rhapsody, Ensemble 4, Supermerino, would make good substitutions.  You cannot use any laceweight yarns like Cashmere 1 or Silk Mohair–they are just too thin.  If you try using Ensemble Light, Rhapsody Light, or Regal Silk, I hope you are an experienced lace knitter, because it is not that easy to knit such thin yarn in lace on such big needles.  Also, you should make sure that you are getting the gauge, and chances are you’ll need to go up a needle size or two right from the start.  I recommend starting each side with a beaded yarn and ending with it too, so that the jacket is not too “flyaway” light.

GAUGE:  10 stitches and 11.25 rows = 4″ x 4″ —- Tight knitters beware, you will need to knit this in a very very open manner or your jacket will be way too small.  Although I recommend size 11 needles (I personally used 10′s), many will need to go up to size 13 needles to get the required gauge.

I like using clingy needles with this type of knitting–I avoid metal, and enjoy the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz or any bamboo needles.

Want to join the knitalong, please click here for the instructions:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/spring-jacket-knitalong

We have a discussion group here where you can post any questions:  http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/artyarns-knitalongs-and-patterns/2853697/26-50#46

Happy knitting, and I hope you join me.