Adventures in 3Dknitting: the Ojai Top

Doug went to Vancouver last week and was able to take Emma her birthday surprise sweater.  (Given that her birthday is in May, it was definitely a surprise!)

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This is the Ojai Top, designed by Andrea Babb, which was published in Wool Studio: The Knitwear Capsule Collection from Interweave Press.  I knit it with Dye for Yarn Fingering Merino with Silk in the colour Fading Stormy Night.

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I finished knitting this before we went to Malaysia but was waiting to get modeled shots before showing it to you.  (It doesn’t look like much on a hangar!) I had worried throughout the construction about how it would look and fit once blocked.  I think we can safely say that I needn’t have worried.  It looks pretty great on Emma.

This is an interesting piece to knit.  The loops are actually three-dimensional, as you can see in the below photograph:

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As you start to build up the loops, the piece looks a bit of a mess; I referred to it as a Kraken in an earlier post.  You can read more about its construction and the beginning stages of knitting Ojai in these posts: here and here.  I struggled a bit when it came to ending off all of the threads (each loop has two threads to end off); what to do with the hole left in the fabric from creating the loop?  The trick is to not tack down the loop when weaving in the ends, but to sew the hole together in a way that reinforces the tunnel structure of the loops.

I had also worried about my choice of yarn.  First, because I substituted a yarn with 25% silk content.  When I was knitting it, it felt very unstructured and I was wishing that I had used a 100% wool yarn as indicated in the pattern.  But the real point of contention was the colour.  I ordered it over the internet, and when it arrived, it had more variegation in the skein than I thought it would.  I decided to use it anyway, with the hopes that the finished garment would be very drapey and look like flowing water.  It is interesting that Doug and Emma chose to photograph it next to a lake where it really does seem to flow like water.

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They had driven up to see a friend (hi, Jill!) who lives at Lilloet Lake, in British Columbia, and they took these photos there.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

I knit this in the small size.  When I washed it, it grew by a few inches, so I was very careful not to stretch it and didn’t pin it.  It is knit sideways so the extra length goes into the width (thus into the sleeve, which I think is good in this case as Emma is tall).  I do think that the short side is rather short.  If I knit it again I would think about adding some stitches to the cast on so that it gained a few inches in length. (Perhaps Emma would disagree?)

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Emma notes that the one armhole is a bit tight.  I originally sewed the side seam to the length indicated and then crocheted around the armhole as instructed (which allows the tubes to be tacked down properly at the armhole).  However, I felt that it was too tight, and re-did it so that there would be an extra 2 inches of circumference around the arm.  It could have used with an even more generous arm width and I may re-do it for her in future.  (This does not involve any re-knitting, but just making the side seam shorter.)

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I am very happy with how this turned out.  It is a striking piece and is sure to be a conversation starter.

3D Knitting with Olga Buraya-Kefelian

Today, I had the pleasure of attending a class on 3D knitting with Olga Buraya-Kefelian. It was a real treat for me – a day of creative indulgence in London.  It was a small class – the best kind – at Loop, a lovely yarn shop in Islington.  I have long been an admirer of Olga’s designs – they are very architectural and striking, and show a real love of high fashion and of knitting technique.

Below is a photo of Olga, holding the Boko-Boko cowl.  It is knit with a strand of wool held together with a strand of silk-wrapped steel.  It gets its 3D structure from the way it is knitted, with the fabric manipulated by knits and purls and lace techniques, but the steel gives it just a touch of “oomph” which lends some integrity to the stitch pattern.

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It is hard to describe the fabric, which is both incredibly stretchy, bouncy and resilient, and also formed into these fantastic dimensional shapes.  Olga said it reminded her of mountains and craters.  Of course, one must try it on:

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The Moko Moko cowl uses a different “juxtaposition of positive and negative spaces” – to use Olga’s words.  She had two examples with her, knit in different weights.  My favorite was this bright red example in fingering weight wool.  You can see both sides of the fabric here, and both are fascinating.

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One cannot have a knitting class without doing some knitting, so I spent some time working on a swatch using the stitch pattern from the Moko Moko cowl.  Here it is while I am on the first row of curls:

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And here it is while I was on the second set of curls, headed back in the opposite direction:

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Olga has other patterns in which she has managed to knit fabric which naturally pleats. She says it is based on her love of Issey Miyake’s work (which is both glorious and out of the price range of us mere mortals).  Below is a cowl (Miura cowl) worked just in knits and purls which makes a very elegant pleated fabric.  The architecture of the fabric is such that I was able to arrange it as a sculpture on the table for this photo for artistic effect, but rest assured it looks just as fabulous around one’s neck.

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Here is a swatch of another 3D stitch pattern from the many that Olga showed us:

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There were some new stitch patterns, as well, that Olga has been experimenting with and which I promised not to show you as the patterns are not yet released.  One of them was so amazing it nearly caused palpitations among the group, who will clearly wait with bated breath to see what Olga does with it.

When I went into the class, I knew that I was going to make a Boko Boko cowl, but now I want to make all of the cowls. I want to make everything! I can’t tell you how much fun the Moko Moko sample was to knit, and how intuitive and easy it is once you’ve started. (You will not be surprised to learn that I bought yarn after the class.  I will wait for another post to show you my treasures.)

I enjoyed the class so much.  There were eight students.  Here is a photo of us (this was the only place we could fit and the lighting was not the best for a photo):

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Left to right: Erin, Maggie, Xen, May, Kelly, Briony, Fiona, and Linda.

Thank you, ladies! I had such a good time knitting with you! (I always meet the best people at Loop.) Two of the women in the class were wearing hand-knitted garments designed by Olga.  I was lucky to cajole them into a photo for you.

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On the left is Fiona, wearing a fantastic flowy Sakasama, knit in silk.  This garment can be worn in two ways (its hard to describe but the other way is upside down so that the collar becomes the hem).  You can’t really tell from the photo just how fantastic the drape of this garment is, or the shine of the silk, but the fact that Fiona has knit four of them (yes, four!) should give you some idea.  On the right is May, wearing her Apex in a brilliant red.  I believe May said that this was only the second sweater she had ever knit! This is pretty astonishing.  I forgot to ask May the details of the yarn she used, but she has just started blogging and you can find her Apex post here.

I wrote on the blog once of a bad experience with a knitting class, in which a designer who I had admired greatly really disappointed me.  This was certainly not the case with Olga.  She is charming and sweet, passionate about her craft, unassuming, a good teacher, and inspiring.  She patiently answered many questions, and talked to us about her creative process and about her many designing influences and experiences. She said to us: “I want to challenge you and make you so brave!” I left the class feeling challenged and inspired. (And a little bit brave as well.)

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