The Sum of its Parts

What could be more fun than working with brilliant artists?  Nothing, that's what. 

Once Upon A Time, Lisa Millman of Dicentra Designs and Sheila Ernst of Glasspens hatched a cunning plan whereby they would combine their dreamy yarn and gorgeous buttons into a knitting kit, with a pattern for a hat.

Excellent notion that it was, neither Sheila nor Lisa ever managed to find the time to design a hat.  Turns out they were both pretty busy making glass and yarn, respectively.  But then they proposed that I join in the fun by creating the hat pattern for them.  Well, if you insist, you fabulous geniuses, you. Ow, Ow; stop twisting my arm.

And that's how our project added up to more than the sum of its parts.  We proudly present: "Embers".

Kits Include

The Yarn: Dicentra Designs "Moonbeam"; a blend of 85% Polwarth wool and 15% Tussah silk.  Delicious much?  You will love it. And by "love", I mean "roll around on the floor with" it.

The Button:  Handmade flameworked glass by the incomparable Sheila Ernst.  It's a whole miniature world inside a perfect glass bubble.  Hold it up to the light and get lost in its depths.

The Pattern:  "Embers", by Yours Truly.  One size, to fit adults.  My idea of the perfectly balanced beret: soft, without being slouchy, tailored, without being severe.  Texture galore, and fun to knit.

Kits will be available on or about February 14th (Romantic!) from both Dicentra and Glasspens, for only $48.  Find both booths at a fiber gathering near you, and visit their websites, too.  This project is so new you may not see it on their websites yet, but you can send an e-mail to either artist to order.

I love it when a plan comes together.

A Difference of Opinion. With Myself.

You know how much I love a challenge.  And "challenge" here means something along the lines of poking a sleeping teenager, or dinner for twenty, or possibly re-roofing the house all by myself.  So it should surprise exactly none of you that when I was asked to make a hat out of gorgeous yarn that features handmade buttons, I didn't even blink.  The hat should have texture, but not too much texture.  It should have surface embellishment, but nothing too fussy.  It should look classic, but not uptight.  And it should be a beret.

I started to look around at photos of handknit tams (thank you, Ravelry), and immediately noticed some things:

"Nine Dwindling Cables" by Yarn Owl

"Nine Dwindling Cables" by Yarn Owl

The hats with gorgeous smooshy texture look properly tam-like, while lying flat.

"Nesaia" by Sandra Dehler

"Nesaia" by Sandra Dehler

But decidedly more relaxed, when actually perched on a noggin.

And the toppers without fancy stitch patterns, while definitely more tailored-looking on human heads

"Beret Tam" by Sandine Tricofolk

"Beret Tam" by Sandine Tricofolk

Have much less to offer in the way of texture (see also, "Fun Knitting")

"Trellis Hat" By Courtney Kelley

"Trellis Hat" By Courtney Kelley

And also aren't highlighting the specialness of their yarns.

Which is where my boss (whom you know is a total spaz) and I disagreed.  Fervently.  She thinks that choosing just the right stitch pattern is job one, because without that, the yarn isn't being shown to best advantage.  You know; the thing the yarnmaker hired us to do.

But I argued that unless the fit of the hat is dependably wearable by lots of different heads and hairstyles, the design isn't going to get made by anyone besides me.  Which is sort of important to my pals, The Knitters.

So while the boss and I debated the higher concepts of millinery, my hands quietly picked up some needles and started to swatch.  And before either of us had noticed, the hands had made a few decisions of their own, and the beret was beginning to be designed, right there in our lap.

And it's getting really good.  Textured but tailored. Whimsical but not silly.  Good thing the hands know what to do while the brains are otherwise engaged. 

The challenges remaining are:  Show off the yarn without upstaging the buttons, and call attention to the buttons without leaving the yarn too far in the background.  Our quest is balanced on the edge of a sword:  Include all the right elements, and neither too many nor too few.  The internal bickering has settled down to a dull roar, but I'll let you be the judge of who really won, once the beret is done.

And an aside for those who dream of working for yourselves, without the need for consensus or compromise (as I once did):  Turns out there's no such thing.  There will always be somebody you have to argue with.


Baby, it's cold outside.  But things are heating up in the knitting basket:

It's a brand new skein from Dicentra Designs:  85% Polwarth + 15% Tussah = 100% HOT.  The color is (what else?) "Cayenne".

It's going to be a hat, and we are going to love it. 

I know this because if all we did was wind this yarn around our heads it would be beautiful.  The knitting is pretty much just to avoid annoying questions from dummies who don't understand dead sexy yarn.