Friday, November 28, 2014

Design Previews Are Here!!!!!

Happy Friday, everyone! No black here (except some of the leather); just all excitement. So, ready for the cover? I present (drum roll, please!) Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace:

I cannot tell you how jumping-out-of-my-skin-excited I am to finally show this to the world. Shot on location in both New York and Washington, I have two amazing models, one moody Pacific Northwest sky and the completely willing staff at Kenmore Air to thank for this cover. Yes, there is an airline comprised completely of seaplanes, and I was lucky enough to be provided pretty much total access to their facilities (thanks Colleen!).

And now, let's just get into the first design preview: the Cochran Puffy V Shoulder Warmer. Named for Jacqueline Cochran, the mastermind at the helm of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program during WWII, this beautiful cowl-cum-shawl encapsulates most of the elements of the book: lovely textured crochet lace, great leather notions, the ability to keep the wearer warm in the grittiest of situations (although no grit in these photos), and the grace to look great dressed up or down. 

While the sun at the end of the day was attempting to make a mockery of the gorgeous color of this Cascade Highland Duo (it's #2301 burgundy), both of my models enjoyed this piece. It's written for two sizes and the trapezoid shape is constructed bottom-up for a super quick project. The ribbing along the edge really adds dimension to the piece, and it can be worn down over the shoulders and upper arms or casually across the shoulders and around the neck.

(Note: The alpaca/merino blend slides rather easily over a leather jacket.) If worn about the neck and shoulders, definitely let your imagination (and your need to straighten things) go - this actually looks better just slightly mussed up. I strongly suggest using statement pieces for the closures (there's only two of them).

I love the texture play as well as the bold statement it makes, much like Jacqueline Cochran and all the other women that inspired this book. While I have far more to say about Ms. Cochran in the book, hers is a real rags-to-riches story. Born into extreme poverty, she eventually owned her own beauty business prior to her flying days; once a pilot, she set all kinds of speed records, including breaking the sound barrier several times in the 50s (which is just beyond the time frame of the book). She earned the respect of high profile male pilots, yet she was not without controversy. Cochran's personal story raises all the wonderfully thorny questions of notoriety, including, how do we want our heroes to behave? While she championed the cause of white female pilots before and during WWII, she denied women of color the same opportunity (search for Janet Bragg and you'll see what I mean). No matter one's personal opinion, no history of the early women of flight could be complete without Jacqueline Cochran's inclusion.

Thanks so much for being here for the beginning of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace's design previews, which will continue in no particular order between now and December 22nd. There will be a break over the Christmas holiday, and I'll conclude the previews prior to the New Year with a focus on a few of my tester's finished pieces. Some of them are truly amazing, and I'm super proud of each one of them. 

Pre-orders will commence on December 1st and I'll have more information on just how to do that in the next design preview installment. In the meantime, have a great weekend (and don't forget Small Business Saturday is tomorrow). 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Third Fiber Sneaky Peek

Hello everyone - this is the third (and most likely) final fiber sneaky peek before design previews commence (and I am pretty excited about the design previews, let me tell you).

I have, as I announced in Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace's initial blog post, utilized some excellent fiber from both independent dyers/producers as well as large fiber manufacturers. Both have a place in the world of knit, crochet and DIY. I have chosen to focus on the indie fiber producer side of things because small business owners need all the exposure they can get. It's more and more difficult to make one's fiber voice heard through the social media din; anything I can do (big or small) to get out the word on these beautiful fibers, I do so gladly. 

So with that, I turn my wee design spotlight on Neighborhood Fiber Co. Each of Karida Collins' amazing colorways are named for neighborhoods in either Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, MD (where her dye studio is located). I've used her Shaw colorway (on her Capital Luxury Lace base) for my Forged Joy Shawl in last fall's Romantique collection; I've also had the pleasure of using Karida's yarn for a design in Craft it Now published earlier this spring by F+W Media. Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s beautiful colorways can be seen pretty much across the knit and crochet design field and I am so pleased to have not one, but two different designs included in this book worked up in her fibers.

The first project (at least in terms of concept) was made with Studio Worsted in the Shaw colorway. These are big, squoishy skeins of worsted weight awesomeness. That tonal color variation plus the excellent stitch definition made this cardigan project jump to life. I cannot tell you what a pleasure it was to work with this yarn, and I firmly believe that pleasure is reflected in the finished design (which was a model favorite at the photo shoot).

The second project (and it's a knit beauty, folks!) is worked up in Studio Sport in the Lauraville colorway. Different yarn weight than the above, but same great stitch definition and gorgeous tonal color. I picked out the yarn earlier this spring when Karida was vending at Vogue Knitting Live. It's blue, but not quite, lavender, but also not quite - and that's this colorway's charm. I will tell you the design using this yarn made the book's cover.

U.S. Thanksgiving is just a week away. I wish each of you a happy, healthy turkey day filled with all of your favorite foods eaten in the thankful spirit of the season. 

I'm taking a deep breath, because the design previews start in just a little bit. Ready or not, here comes Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Second Friday Fiber Sneaky Peek

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second sneaky peek before design introductions begin for Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

This is a sort of fibery roadblock if you will, because I also blogged about this indie yarn producer over at my other blog, Voie de Vie. No matter what you call it, the result is the same - Andrea over at the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm produces some of the best alpaca blend yarn anywhere. She's been working at and refining her process of producing yarn from the alpaca all the way through to finished, wound skein pretty much since I've known her. She also does all of the dyeing. And she's a mother of two teenagers. Multitasking is here middle name. 

This colorway was perfect for the book's palette, and I was thrilled I had it in my yarn stash.

Andrea's yarn is featured in two designs in the book, the beginnings of one which you can see at right. Lovely texture and a quick crochet is all I'm willing to divulge just now.

I do also wish to mention that although I'm presently focusing on the book's fiber, the ladies who inspired these designs will also be spotlighted. The book covers a lot of material, so a little build-up is in order. 

These women are worth it.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and do feel free to follow the book's progress here at the blog, at its Facebook page (please, like it!) and/or its very own Twitter feed.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's Friday ... and a New Sneaky Peek

Happy Friday, everyone. In the fiber world, Fridays are pretty much devoted to fiber updates. So, in keeping with that theme, I thought I'd share a few process photos of one of the projects from Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace. 

Of course, it starts with a great skein of yarn:

 Sarah Anderson is the dyer behind January Yarns and this yummy skein of llama sock yarn. Just look at that awesomely tonal gray - otherwise known as her Silver Lining colorway. Each skein is hand-dyed to her specifications (and trust me, folks, she is picky, picky, picky - in the best way possible). The good thing (at least from my perspective) is that no two skeins are the same; that's the beauty of buying from independent artisans.

Below, you'll see how this great gray skein of llama sock yarn worked up, as well as tools of my design process: hook (and sticks beyond the photo frame), my notebook and pen in the background, as well as some extra daytime lighting because ... well ... this is the Pacific Northwest. 

Just look at how that tonal dying is working up in this project (which completed form will remain a mystery just a little bit longer). It really brings light and depth to the stitch pattern.

I'm looking forward to sharing this completed one-skein project with everyone in just a few short weeks.

In the meantime, do feel free to follow this blog, follow the book on Twitter @LeatherLaceGrit, or like the book's Facebook page. I am so excited about this project, and I hope everyone else will be too!