Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Jersey Dyer Profiles: Interview with Myra Rubin of Woolbearers

As part of the Jersey Shore Knits project, it was important to make sure that local companies played a big part. It wasn't hard to find some really talented people with great hand dyed yarn based in the garden state, it was however quite unusual to have the opportunity not only to work with Myra Rubin of Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ, but to visit her incredible store. There she is on the left wearing the Seashells Shawl, knit in her Fingering Wool. Below she answered some interview questions about her story, yarns, and retail shop. 

Q. Can you share a little about your business and how you got started?   
A. I started Woolbearers 11 years ago with a partner.  We envisioned a tiny yarn shop with lots of our hand dyed and hand crafted  yarns. It morphed into a big yarn shop with lots of commercial yarns as well as Woolbearers hand dyed yarn. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jersey Shore Knits

I'm proud to introduce my first collection of accessories, inspired by the Jersey shore. It contains 4 projects perfect for beach knitting. Each is inspired by a part of the Jersey Shore culture and setting and is knit in a yarn from a different New Jersey dyer. I'll be interviewing each of the dyers over the next few weeks to highlight their unique and individual approaches.

People have asked why I'm focused on New Jersey and I have a very simple answer: The Jersey shore is a beautiful American treasure, filled with unique small businesses. In recent years, press from shows like Jersey Shore have colored people's perception of what it's like to vacation in New Jersey, but there's so much more to the shore than partying and wearing flashy clothing.

My Jersey shore experiences are all about the fun, food, and a beautiful setting.

I've been traveling to the shore often thanks to my aunt and uncle, owners of the Northwood Inn in Ocean City NJ. It is a treat to stay in one of the best B&Bs on the island. The Queen Anne style Victorian, was built circa 1894 and was restored inside and out by John Loeper. It has a porch that's made for sitting and knitting.

It would be a crime not to mention Marj's breakfasts. She's known for her orange chocolate chip muffins, but personally I am a fan of the lime nut muffins and the coconut bread. Marj will be sharing some of her recipes in the next few weeks. 

One of the unique and interesting attributes of the shore is the variety of colorfully painted victorian houses, known as "painted ladies." The Northwood has a palette of wheat, salmon and sage - beautiful, but calm in comparison to some other houses. Cape May, only 30 minutes from Ocean City is known for an abundance of beautiful Victorian houses. These lacy motifs and and historical colors inspired the Seashell Shawl. 

You can see how the intricately painted houses influenced the colors and detailing in this shawl. The yarn from Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ is a traditional colorwork yarn hand dyed in semisolid colors. 

When you stay in one of these nice houses, you can smell the ocean air coming in with the tides. On the beach, there are surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, but the beauty of the ocean is in the way the waves break at the shoreline. As they come in, they split into a bunch of smaller ripples, creating an interesting texture in the water. 

The Atlantic Ocean Cowl is inspired by the way these waves break on the sand. 

In between the ocean and the land there's the boardwalk. It's the center of the entertainment day and night with all the snacks, amusement parks, and arcades.

In 2012, hurricane Sandy decimated businesses along the coast. The boardwalk in many towns was hit hard. But in spite of the devastation, many people have worked hard to rebuild. On my most recent trip, reminders of the storm were almost unnoticeable and are mostly visible in placed where the planks on the boardwalk were replaced with new wood. 

You can see the repairs in this early morning photo taken before the shops open for the day and the crowds arrive.

The Boardwalk Wrap knit in Spark Story Toughie Sock is an openwork mesh perfect to wear on a warm day. The geometry in the lattice knit motif reminds me of the way the planks of the boardwalk make interesting patterns. It is hard to convey in a photograph just how nice this fabric feels to wear.

So what kind of businesses are along the boardwalk? Mostly surf shops and junk food, I cannot resist sharing a few images of food eaten during the Jersey Shore Knits shoot:

There was more, But I'll stop and tell you about another big part of what's on the boardwalk. Amusement parks are one of the biggest draws to the Jersey shore. These small family run establishments have none of the outrageous lines  and gimmicky feel of big parks, in fact many have historic carousels and an old time feel. They also almost always have a huge ferris wheel, acting as a beacon to guide arriving tourists towards the beach.

We were lucky enough to plan the photo shoot so that the annual opening of the parks was our last night there. It was a pleasure to see everyone out to celebrate and to photograph the Ferris Wheel Shawl, knit in MollyGirl yarn, right in front of those iconic lights.

You'll be hearing mor about these patterns, yarns, and locations over the next month, remember it's not too late to book a vacation to the shore, but if you 'd rather just knit your way there, check out the Jersey Shore Knits E-book on ravelry.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to knit the lattice stitch

Tomorrow I'll be releasing my first pattern collection, Jersey Shore Knits, and in it there's a super airy openwork scarf inspired by the boardwalk.

You can see that this stitch is neither a traditional lace or mesh, it looks a lot more like crochet. It is in fact very different from other stitches that I have used before in patterns, but it's my favorite new thig to experiment with.

A closeup of  the base stitch looks like this:
It's something worth learning for summer and winter use, so I've put together a series of videos to show how it works.

The cast on

The base stitch

The bind off

You can use the stitch without the special cast on and bind off as well, so give it a go.

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