Category Archives: Tips + Techniques

NZ Inspired: Piupiu Fringe

One of the things I love most about textiles is that every culture on the planet has something to contribute to the conversation. When I visit a new place I make it a point to seek out examples of indigenous textiles, and I especially love finding commonalities across cultures, and ideas that I can incorporate into my own design vocabulary, after a bit of research of course.

piupiu skirts

When I visited Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, I was drawn to the simple black, white and red palette. While New Zealand  doesn’t have a particularly long history with hand knitting, I was really inspired by the fringe found on Māori piupiu skirts. They’re made with harakeke, or common flax, and they’re dyed with an incredible mix of manuka bark and mangrove mud (is there nothing manuka can’t do?!!). Watch this video to see how the real deal is made:

I’m working on the next issue of Passport and have been thinking about a yarn homage to this distinctly NZ art form. I’ve swatched some Air Marle and have tried a few things. My first thought was i-cord (right). I knew I wanted to incorporate black, but this meant weaving in a lot of ends (in i-cord–not easy). It looked far too bulky, and too labor intensive to be reasonable. Next, I tried a crochet chain (left), which I liked, but again, hiding all those ends was going to get really old, really fast:

fringedraft

Flipping the swatch over, I tried two rows of traditional fringe, staggered for a full, slightly randomized effect. It was lovely!

fringe

Light, fluffy and best of all, easy to execute. Still, I missed the contrast of the black ends, but then I thought–beads! Beads would add weight, both real and visual, and it would hopefully evoke the piupiu.

I headed over to my local bead shop and admired all the gorgeous gemstones that I passed on my way to what I actually needed–plain glass beads in matte black, size E/6.0  (and a few metallic variations).

labradorite

I also picked up some collapsible eye wire needles and an empty glass jar from the health food store around the corner.

jar

I added 3 beads to the bottom of each piece of untrimmed fringe and knotted it securely. I think I’ve found my winning fringe, no mud required!

winningfringe

Have you ever fringed?

CR

Ria + June #5 | Knitting Methods Part II

Hi everyone! Time for another installment of Ria + June. The first post about knitting methods covered in Principles of Knitting discussed all the right hand holds for knitting and purling. You can find that video and blog post here. In this episode I share the left hand holds, along with some interesting variations and thoughts on left-handed, combined and bidirectional knitting. By the way, I’m knitting with one of my favorite shades of Zealana Heron, H12 Honey.

You might think, “I already know how to knit and purl, why should I read any of this?!” Well, I agree with June’s thinking that it is always worthwhile to look at alternate methods, for a few reasons. You can potentially increase your speed or reduce risk of injury, and you can become much faster at two-handed stranded knitting.

In the video above I mentioned stitch mount, which refers to how a stitch is mounted on the knitting needle. It’s a very subtle thing but it makes a huge difference with how your finished fabric looks and how you work certain stitches. I recommend this fantastic blog post for a closer understanding of stitch orientation, or mount.

I also mentioned that the reigning queen of combination knitting is Annie Modesitt. Her book Confessions of a Knitting Heretic is considered canon for knitters who are always being told they don’t knit the “right” way.

Over and out for now,

CR

Maree MacLean + Intarsia Tips

maree2 maree1

Last year the very same fibers used to make Zealana Air Lace and Air Chunky made their runway debut. Footwear designer Maree MacLean debuted a collaboration with Paris-based designer Angela Gallard to create The Noble Savage. With a focus on maintaining indigenous fiber traditions, she found her way to the Perino line of apparel yarns (made by Woolyarns, the same New Zealand mill that manufactures Zealana yarns).

A standout piece from their first collection features bold Māori motifs worked in three incredible shades, also available in the Air range.  In the Lace range, look to A01 Charcoal, A04 Natural and A12 Bright Gold. For chunkier projects, choose L01 Natural, L03 Black and L07 Gold.

knittersgraphpaperjournal_600px

If you’re feeling inspired to design your own graphic knits, remember that designing on knitter’s graph paper will yield the best results. Knitted stitches are WIDER than they are TALL, meaning they’re rectangular, not square. Apologies for the math class flashbacks! To ensure that your knit pieces looks like your sketch, print a page of knitter’s graph paper online, or spring for the Knitters Graph Paper Journal from Rowan Morrison Books.  As a bonus, the journal comes stocked with informational endpapers, full of symbols, abbreviations and terms.

Have fun designing with Air!

CR