Sundogs and seasides

Hello!

Last week I had the incredible luck to take a holiday by the seaside that coincided with a mini heat wave here in the UK. I was prepared with my holiday knitting: a new sweater design using brioche stitch. I made a reasonable amount of progress on it, but I can’t show it off January (!!) which feels like such a long time because I am so excited about it now. I also took my trusty camera, and thought I would share some holiday inspiration with you today.

Sundog at Swanage by Renée Callahan

Have you heard of a sundog? I had not, but Wikipedia tells us this about them:

Sun dogs (or sundogs), mock suns or phantom suns, scientific name parhelia (singular parhelion), are an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either horizontal side on the Sun, often co-occurring with a luminous ring known as a 22° halo.

We saw an astonishingly vivid sundog while out and about one evening. My camera wasn’t quite able to cope with taking in the entire scene, but there was a sundog either side of the setting sun, and halo was just visible.

Swanage 2016-12

I enjoyed some quality knitting time and fit in a few rows before going out in the evening.

Swanage 2016-13

There was a fantastic full moon. I read some things online about how this was a special full moon, but have to admit I can’t remember any of those special things, which in no way dims my enjoyment of it!

And finally, we did took some photos for a sneak peek of new a cardigan design to be released later this month.

Wisteria Blossoms by Renée Callahan 5

About which, more soon…

Happy knitting!

Rx

New to me

Hello!

I am pretty sure that travel is good for me. It is just healthy to occasionally get out of the routine, right?

My trip to the Squam Art Workshops in June was wonderful for so many reasons; because I travelled to a beautiful part of the world and spent time with my people, but also because I had the chance to meet new people who are doing exciting things on the other side of the pond, a few of these I would like to share with you today.

In addition to the full day workshops that attendees sign up for, there are several shorter, drop-in activities going on, including Tierney Barden‘s Fairy Tales and Paper Cutting, which was incredibly fun! My efforts from that afternoon:

I also had the pleasure of meeting Marce, aka BrownBerry, who documented her time in Squam with this sweet podcast:

Marce was accompanied by Nancy, who I met at Squam last year. I’ve been following Nancy Instagram posts of her yoga practice and fitness regime which I find really inspiring; have a look if you enjoy watching superfit people get more fit.

Finally, I was incredibly lucky to have the wonderful Amor from Crave Yarn as my roommate, who allowed me to run off with this gorgeous skein of her Thoreau yarn, a fingering/4 ply yarn of 50% yak, 50% silk in the Stolen Seas colourway (the photo really doesn’t give an accurate impression of the subtlety of the blue).

Crave yarn Thoreau

It is so soft and luxurious that I don’t even want to wind it into a cake. I am more than happy to admire it in the skein until I have time to pay some proper attention to it!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Summertime and the knitting is easy…

Hello!

The sun is shining here (however temporarily) and I have a holiday on the horizon which means I need to sort out my holiday knitting!

I have a few ideas, and perhaps you are making similar plans right now. There are a few requirements for my holiday knitting: portability, large sections of easily memorised pattern or stocking stitch, and I like ’em relatively small and accessory sized.

If you are in need of a little inspiration, here are a few I make earlier:

I would love to hear what you will be be knitting! What makes a good holiday knit for you?

Happy knitting,

Rx

Introducing: the Lakelet Shawl

Hello!

This week I published the Lakelet Shawl!

Lakelet knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

Last year I attended the famous Squam Art Workshops for the first time and I had an amazing time. I was so excited to be there that I was up early every day and saw some of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever witnessed sitting on the dock.

Squam lake by Renée Callahan

It was a technicolour experience, with the pinks, blues and yellows really racing across the sky.

Squam lake by Renée Callahan

The experience inspired the Lakelet shawl. Lakelet is an asymmetrical triangular shawl that begins in one corner with just a few stitches and works across the body of the shawl to end with a beautiful bubbling of lace in a colour the shade of a cloud at sunrise.

Lakelet by Renée Callahan

The smallest size of the shawl uses 110g of the main colour and 25g of the contrast colour. Kits for the shawl featuring Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul yarn will be available soon. (Watch this space!)

Lakelet kits by Renée Callahan

 

In other news, Knitlandia by Clara Parkes is now available as an audiobook and I am downloaded and ready to go! I attend a bookgroup in real life and I really love reading along with others, so I was wondering… would you enjoy a read-along? If so, join me over on the ELK Ravelry thread 🙂

Upcoming events:

I will be teaching Brioche Basics and Next Steps in Brioche Stitch on Saturdays 25th and 9th July at the Yarn Dispensary in Faversham

and I will having a trunk show for the Zen Variations sweater collection as well as teaching a workshop on the top-down construction at the Village Haberdashery on Sunday 3rd July. Please do come and join in the learning!

30-31 July I will be assisting the lovely Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. on her stand at Fibre East in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

20th August, we will be together again at Purlescence for a trunk show and open day.

Finally, an early bird special: Lakelet is on sale for 15% off with the coupon code ELKLakelet until 16th June.

Happy knitting,

Renée

Into Stash…

Hello!

That ‘sort myself out for the new year’ feeling continues to endure for me, nearly 3 weeks into 2016. That may be because I haven’t quite done all the amazing planning I was going to do. More accurately, I have been planning, but until this week, it was distinctly unsatisfying. After finishing the Klee Collection, I haven’t had a big project to work on and have been drifting. It’s a bad habit, but I need a bit of pressure to get things done. So this week, I have been searching for that pressure, and I think I finally found it.

It began with the Curious Handmade podcast, as it often does lately. This month, Helen has focused on stash appreciation and after my big wardrobe clean out, it seemed like cleaning out the yarn stash was also a good idea.

And it was, in the beginning. Then there was a moment in which I was no longer sure I was in charge of the situation. Then I knew I had lost the upper hand to the yarn itself.

Perhaps this is the natural flow of every project: calm optimism, then grouchy chaos, then organised calm.

After some days of not being able to enter the room (barely) containing all the yarn, it started to resolve itself into order. And then I had an idea. I thought perhaps this was the solution to my lack of motivation.

ELK yarn stash knitwear planning

I have many partial skeins of yarn and single skeins. What if I designed a collection which accommodated these scrapes and bits? In the spirit of using what you have and not letting good things go to waste, each design could incorporate the remnants of previous projects and the reclaimed yarns of less successful knits. It may not be wise to mention this, as I have only just thought of it and it will be months before I have anything to show for the idea, but, well, why not? There is some motivation to be found in public accountability….

I began sketching rough ideas based on the yarns I have and how they could be used.

ELK yarn stash and knitwear design

These are really basic silhouettes which will be filled out in the coming months. With so many small amounts of different colours, colour work seems the way forward, so my next step is to do some research into different techniques and traditions, and do some swatching.

Wish me luck on this next knitting quest!

Anyone going to Unravel in Farnham Maltings? If so I will see you there!

Happy knitting,

R.

 

Happy New Year!

Hello!

Happy New Year people! In celebration of a new year and selfish-knitting season, all my individual patterns are 15% off. Please do have a look at the patterns & join us in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group for the Klee Collection Knit-Along, if you are that way inclined.

EastLondonKnit Knitting Pattern Sale

It is a shiny new year (my favourite kind) and I have been trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in my resolutions. I love making ’em en mass and then working my way back toward reality. Because I’m not really going to learn Spanish and complete 3 new part-time degrees as well as design 4 new collections before 2017, am I? So, what to focus on this year?

Well, I am still feeling very enthusiastic about the whole handmade wardrobe thing. I especially like it because it’s both personal and global.

The global issues have been well discussed by more knowledge people than me. The environmental impact of mass-market clothing production and the living/working conditions for many of the people who make our clothing, among other ethical considerations, have brought people in the crafting community together, and I feel like I am taking part in something really worthwhile by considering my wardrobe more carefully and making more of my own clothing.

On the personal side, the question of wardrobe has been the sand in my oyster for years; I hope for pearls but often just end up with a bit of annoying grit. I used to think what I wore didn’t really matter, and maybe, in the back of my mind, I still think it shouldn’t. But really, it does. For me, the proof is in the doing. Now that I work from home, I’m not so motivated to get dressed in the morning. I mean, who am I dressing up for? May as well stay comfy.

However.

The truth is that how I dress changes how I feel and what I do, even when I am by myself. If I don’t get dressed, I am less productive and feel a bit like a slob. This is probably a similar logic at work to the ‘smile and you will feel happier’. No doubt this is an obvious thing everyone knows, but I have only just realised. This happens more often than I would like to admit, but let’s focus on the wardrobe today.

So I accept the fact that I have to get dressed. And I know that what I put on when I get dressed also matters.

If I were a swanky business person, I would perhaps discuss personal branding here. ‘Branding’ is a term that puts lots of people off, including me. But I think there’s a context wider than business and marketing for me here. In this case, I am thinking about who I am as a person and who I want to be, which is a more vexed question than it might be.

Pinterest and Instagram are full of positive slogans proclaiming you should ‘be yourself’ in all your quirky glory.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 13.42.29

Am I the only one who doesn’t know what that means? I am in a constant state of flux, which is probably why I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions so much. Why not just decide to be someone different, someone better this year? In fact, why not decide that everyday? This may be a new definition of insanity, or just indicative of a mid-life crisis, but what can I say? I haven’t decided who I am. I am still becoming.

My understanding of myself is worked out through multiple paths—the way I dress and style myself is one of them, as is the work that I do, the people I choose to spend time with, etc. This isn’t only about what I am showing to other people, but also about what I show to myself.

For all of these reasons, my hand-made wardrobe is still on the agenda for 2016. The Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge (which is on-going if you are interested!) really set this off for me last year, and I have been thinking about it pretty much nonstop since then. This year I am going to work out my ‘uniform’ and get my sewing mojo on.

There are other goals, and so many knitwear designs, but that is perhaps for another day…

Don’t forget the New Year Sale on EastLondonKnit patterns runs until 11 January.

Happy knitting,

R.

Angelus Novus

Hello!

Inspiration is a nebulous thing; sometime it is a single colour, as the shocking red of Angel in the Making, sometimes it is a more subtle thing, as the title of the painting which led to the idea of a lace in the making: a shape which begins as a small, simple motif and evolves with the knitting, growing into a complex lace pattern. Sometimes a metaphor morphs into another shape in the mind, as did the idea of graphic arm/wings in Angelus Novus.

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

Angelus Novus 1920
Oil-transfer drawing and watercolour on paper on cardboard
by Paul Klee

Isn’t she a beauty? What gorgeous the curling scrolls of hair and geometric patterns in the body! I imagined the arms wrapping around the body and turned into a wing-like pattern that envelops the body. There is joy in the simplicity of the shapes, something both childlike and elegant.

Angelus-Novus-by-Renée-Callahan-1

The Angelus Novus cardigan knit itself in my mind long before I picked up the needles. It has turned out to be an easy-to-wear cardigan with an innovative construction begining with a garter-tab cast on at the lower back and growing up and around the body. It flatters many body types and can be worn with a casual comfort or as an elegant layer. Worn open, it has the effect of a waterfall front, or it can be secured with a beautiful shawl pin or single snap closure. The sample is worked in beautiful Blacker Swan Falkland Islands Wool, which is a thick DK weight, but a worsted- or even aran-weight yarn would also be great.

Angelus Novus Cardi 1 by Renée Callahan-2

The technical details:

Sized: S, M, L, XL
Bust: 33.5 (39.25, 45.25, 51.25) inches/ 85 (100, 115, 130) cm
Note: The sweater has considerable ease built in. For example, the medium can accommodate bust sizes from 34 inches-40 inches comfortably. The sample sweater is size Medium. I have a 36” bust and the sweater has a lot of room. People with much larger busts have also been happy with the fit of the medium size.

YARN
Blacker Swan DK (100% Superwash Falkland Islands Wool; 119 yd/110 m per 50 g ball) in colorway Stone;
9 (11, 12, 14) balls.

Note: The Blacker Swan DK is a very thick DK. If substituting yarns, consider a heavy worsted or even aran-weight yarn for a similar density of fabric, or a DK for a looser fabric with more drape.
1015 (1195, 1375, 1550) yards/940 (1105, 1270, 1435) metres

NEEDLES
US #9/5.5 mm or size needed to obtain gauge long circular and double-pointed needles or your choice of needle for sleeve knitting.

Angelus Novus is available as part of the Klee Collection and also as in individual download.

The final Klee Collection Instagram give away is now going on! To win a copy of both the cardigan and shawl patterns, please have a look >here<.

Happy knitting,

R.