A whole lotta Zen

Hello!

The EastLondonKnit KAL starts in just a couple of days and I thought I should declare my own goals and intentions to get things started. So here it is: I am going to knit an Enso sweater for myself. I wrote about the inspiration and the original sample here, and I have been hankering after a version just for me ever since.

Zen Variations Enso Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan skirt

I was lucky to have some amazing test knitters who left me with some very inspiring ideas.

Yarn-Tan-Tethera's Enso sweater

Yarn-Tan-Tethera used her own beautiful hand-dyed yarns in the stunning interpretation above. I think the simplicity of the design is ideally suited to show off amazing yarn.

squaresandstripes' Enso sweater

I love how squaresandstripes stayed true to her aesthetic and kept the stripe game strong!

thespinnacle's Enso sweaterthespinnacle's Enso sweaterThespinnacle made a really lovely everyday sweater–the type that gets used year after year, which is exactly what I am hoping for.

For my own version I’ll be using Kettle Yarn Co.’s Islington DK yarn in the awesomely titled ‘Siren Call’ colour way. I plan to make a few adjustments: one is adding in a bit of positive ease. You can see from the photos above that the sweater is usually worn with approximately 2 inches/5 cm of positive ease. I am going to increase that by adding in some stitches at the underarm on either side when I get there and decreasing the long length of the body to create a slightly more boxy silhouette.

Wish me luck or better yet, join me! The Zen Variations knit-along runs from 1 September to the end of the year and you can make any EastLondonKnit design to participate. I have already bragged blogged about the amazing prize packages, but the real pleasure is in the making.

Happy knitting,

Rx

It’s (almost) knitting season: Let’s knit together!

Hello!

Regardless of the temperature, September brings out the student in me, and I’m nostalgic for those crisp Autumn mornings at the beginning of the school year. This year, I’m embracing the nostalgia with a knit along to kick start the knitting and learning season. I’ll focus on the Zen Variations because although each sweater is quite simple and clean in terms of design, there are several techniques that might not be obvious to inexperienced sweater-knitters. I will make some tutorials and explanatory blog posts which I hope will encourage knitters to make sweaters they will wear forever.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

The knit along will run from 1 September to 31 December in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group. Cast on any EastLondonKnit design on 1st September and post a photo of the finished object in the thread before the 31st December (bonus points if it is modelled on a person:) and I will pick a number of winners in the early hours of 2017.

To sweeten the pot, I have put together a few fantastic prize packages to tempt you into joining the fun!

Llovely Llama prize from EastLondonKnitThe first prize is a Llovely Llama ‘un courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co. Linda who has generously gifted one of her popular LlamaLlamaLlamaLlama bags to the prize pot. I am pairing it with 3 gorgeous skeins of the Fibre Company’s Acadia yarn for some lucky soul… 

I have also organised A Very Tweedy Prize of a woollenflower notions bag with 3 matching skeins of Acadia by The Fibre Co., because everyone knows you should coordinate your notions bags and yarn…
EastLondonKnit tweed prize

My final offering is a Woodland Zen prize: a cute foxy notions pouch and three more skeins of yarn among other presents: a beautiful skein of Acadia, a hand-dyed beauty from Dirty Water Dye Works and a lovely, crunchy skein of indigo blue Skudde Wool from Natures Luxury.

EastLondonKnit prizes: woodland zen

I hope to see you in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group for encouragement, help and a chance to win some wonderful prizes!

You can browse the Zen Variations and all the other EastLondonKnit patterns here.

Happy knitting!

Rx

Buji Tunic

Hello!

Happy weekend to you! Throughout the last week and a bit, I have shared the inspiration behind each design in the Zen Variations collection: Takumi, Yama, Intoku, Enso and Kaizen. Today I give you the final installment of the Zen Variations series: Buji.

BUJI is the Japanese word meaning ‘all is well, no trouble’. The tunic features short sleeves, a boat neck and patch pockets that play with the colour blocking on the body.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-3

The concept of buji is one of perfect freedom from trouble or hindrance, and while it can veer toward carelessness, in the most generous understanding, it evokes a playful freedom. The Buji tunic felt like a playful garment to me–the longer length, short sleeves and particularly the geometric colour blocking with the patch pockets all added up to a grown-up version of a smock.

Zen Variations Buji Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-6

SIZING

79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5) cm or 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51)”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 5cm / 2” of positive ease.

Buji schematic by Renée Callahan

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yds/133 m per 50 g skein) in main colour: Driftwood, 6 (6, 7, 7, 7, 8)(8, 9, 9, 9, 10) skeins, contrast colour: Cranberry, 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3)(3, 3, 3, 3, 3) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Buji uses approximately:

276 (296, 312, 327, 343, 362)(386, 401, 421, 440, 460) MC grams
79 (84, 88, 93, 97, 103)(109, 114, 119, 125, 130) CC grams

805 (860, 910, 950, 995, 1055)(1120, 1165, 1225, 1280, 1340) MC yards
230 (245, 255, 270, 285, 300)(315, 335, 345, 365, 375) CC yards

735 (785, 830, 870, 910, 965)(1025, 1065, 1120, 1170, 1225) MC meters
210 (225, 235, 245, 260, 275)(290, 305, 315, 335, 345) CC meters

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-48

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Buji Pattern 
The Zen Variations 

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.

Kaizen Cardigan

Good morning!

Today I would like to share the Kaizen cardigan with you. It is one of my favorites in the Zen Variations collection and I hope you like it too!

KAIZEN is a Japanese word for ‘continuous improvement’. It features a traditional cardigan shape, with 4 pockets, garter-stitch collar and pocket flaps.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-28

kaizen in kanji

Like so many things, kaizen was big in the 80s; the concept was taken up by big American businesses based on the perceived success of their Japanese counterparts. And although the word may retain the slight taint of 1980s money-based amorality, I think the idea can of continually working toward something better is a worthy one, particularly with regard to craft and something like, say, a handmade wardrobe….

Zen Variations Kaizen Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-27

Kaizen takes the traditional workwear staple, the demin jacket, and translates this useful garment into cardigan that will never lose its appeal. It is a sweater that will be true throughout the decades.

Zen Variations Kaizen cardigan Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-29

 

SIZES:
79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5)
cm or 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51)”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 5cm / 2” of positive ease.

kaizen schematic by Renée Callahan

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yards/133 m per 50 g skein) in main colour: Sea Lavender; 8(8, 8, 9, 9, 10)(10, 11, 11, 12, 12) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Kaizen uses approximately:

355 (375, 400, 420, 440, 465)(495, 510, 540, 560, 585) grams

1035 (1095, 1165, 1220, 1280, 1350)(1440, 1480, 1570, 1630, 1700) yards

945 (1000, 1065, 1115, 1170, 1235)(1315, 1355, 1435, 1490, 1555) meters

 

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-44

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Kaizen Pattern 
The Zen Variations 

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.

 

Yama Cardigan

Hello!

Continuing with my introductions of the Zen Variation collection, today I want to show you the Yama Cardigan.

YAMA is a Japanese word for ‘mountain’. The cardigan features a flattering cross-over style, using 2 snaps/press studs for closure, a cropped length, deep rib hem, and contrast-colour sleeves.

Zen Variations Yama Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-

Mountains have a special place in the religious imagination of many different cultures, and in Japan reverence for the sacred mountain is strong. Mt. Fuji has inspired devotion and art for centuries.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to go to Japan on my honeymoon, and have always had love for Japanese art and design. The beauty of the place and the craftmanship I saw there have never left me.

Japan copyright Renée Callahan

While I was working on the collection, the graphic crossing-over of the Yama cardigan suggested the distinctive brush strokes of a minimalist Sumi-e mountain painting and I emphasized this graphic aesthetic with a contrast-coloured buttonband. The deep ribbing at the hem and cropped length create a flattering shape, perfect for wearing with summer dresses.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-42

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-39

SIZES:
79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5)cm or 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51) ”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 0 to 2.5cm/1” of positive ease.

Yama Cardigan schematic by Renée Callahan

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yds/133 m per 50g skein) in main colour: Kelp 4 (4, 4, 5, 5, 5)(5, 5, 6, 6, 6)skeins, contrast colour: Granite3 (3, 4, 4, 4, 4)(4, 4, 5, 5, 5) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Yama uses approximately:

305 (325, 345, 365, 380, 400)(430, 445, 470, 485, 510) total grams

170 (180, 195, 205, 215, 225)(240, 250, 265, 270, 285) MC grams
135 (145, 150, 160, 165, 175)(190, 195, 205, 215, 225) CC grams

490 (525, 570, 595, 625, 655)(700, 725, 770, 785, 830) MC yards
395 (420, 435, 465, 480, 510)(550, 570, 595, 625, 655) CC yards

450 (480, 520, 545, 570, 600)(640, 665, 705, 720, 760) MC metres
360 (385, 400, 425, 440, 465)(505, 520, 545, 570, 600) CC metres

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-46

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Yama Pattern:
The Zen Variations:

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.

Intoku Sweater

Hello!

There is Sunday morning sunshine and I am off to take Karie Westermann’s Nordic Traditions workshop at Wild and Woolly today. So far, I am having a wonderful day!  Today, I would like to introduce the Intoku sweater.

INTOKU is the Japanese word, meaning ‘good works performed in secret’. The pullover features a deep V-neck and integrated pockets finished with knit-as-you-go i-cord.

Zen Variations Intoku Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-16

As a tenet of Buddhist practice, the idea of intoku is pretty deep; do good works, but abolish the ego by not telling anyone or displaying those deeds. Admittedly, my interpretation is much less deep: I have designed a sweater in which pockets are integrated into the knitting of the garment so as to create a secret place for keeping your good works.

After knitting the sample, I changed my mind about the pockets and re-wrote the pattern to accommodate a pouch pocket that stretches the entire width of the front to allow for a more generous pocket space.

Zen Variations Intoku Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-17

The deep V-neck of the Intoku pattern makes it a flattering silhouette for larger busts.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-18

SIZES:
79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5) cm or 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51)”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 5cm / 2” of positive ease.

Intoku pattern schematic by Renée Callahan

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yds/133 m per 50 g skein) in main colour: Blue Heron; 7 (8, 8, 9, 9, 10)(10, 10, 11, 12, 12) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Intoku uses approximately:

345 (370, 390, 410, 430, 455)(485, 500, 530, 550, 575) grams

1005 (1075, 1130, 1190, 1250, 1325)(1410, 1455, 1540, 1600, 1675) yards

920 (985, 1035, 1090, 1145, 1210)(1290, 1330, 1410, 1465, 1530) metres

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-43

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Intoku Pattern: 
The Zen Variations:

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.

Enso Sweater

Hello!

It has been such an exciting week with the launch of the Zen Variations! Thank you to everyone who has shown your support; it means so much!

ENSO is a Japanese word for ‘circle’. The sweater features a round, scoop neck, garter panels along the sides, and a curved hem for a classic shape and a wardrobe staple.

Zen Variations Enso Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan skirt

The idea of enso in the Zen Buddhist context is a beautiful one. A single stroke of black ink on white paper is made in the space of a single breath, describing a perfect circle. The painting is a symbol of enlightenment and embracing the void.

Enso painting

An enso painting from the 2014 exhibition at the St Lawrence University

I have taken the concept of enso and applied it to the shape of the neck line and the hem: the circular shapes gently repeating in the sweater.

Zen Variations Enso Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-25

Enso sweater is my corner stone of a handmade wardrobe: simple and easy to modify with just a few beautiful details.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-24

SIZES

The sweaters are sized from 1-11, with finished garment bust measurements of 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51) inches/79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5) cm.

The sweater is intended to be worn with 2 inches/5 cm of positive ease.

Enso Sweater by Renée Callahan schematic

 

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yards/133 m per 50 g skein) in main colour: Driftwood: 8 (8, 9, 9, 9, 10)(10, 11, 11, 12, 12) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Enso uses approximately:

355 (375, 400, 415, 435, 460)(490, 510, 535, 560, 585) grams

1035 (1095, 1165, 1210, 1265, 1340)(1425, 1480, 1560, 1630, 1700) yards

945 (1000, 1065, 1105, 1155, 1225)(1305, 1355, 1425, 1490, 1555) metres

GAUGE/TENSION:
21 sts x 31 rows = 10cm (4”) in St st blocked with 3.75mm (US 5) or size needed to get gauge.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Enso Pattern: 

The Zen Variations:

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.