A NEW WAY TO KNIT – TAPESTRY KNITTING

I love textiles. For over 50 years I’m a professional hand weaver and knitter now. After all that time I still love to explore new things as a textile designer and I am constantly thinking about improvements and new techniques that I can create. As a knitter you will surely know that there are only so many innovations out there when it comes to new ways of knitting.

Bjorn Coordt Tapestry Gebelin

This is one of my woven pieces. Note how the forms and the woven frame have translated into tapestry knitting.

I always loved to weave, especially back in the 70s and 80s I was constantly creating new designs and techniques because it was just so much fun and I had a pretty big workshop back in Germany. I always liked the art of tapestry. If you aren’t a weaver you might want to know some more details. Here is a short summary:

 Tapestry is a traditional textile art woven on a loom. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length (called the warp) and those parallel to the width (called the weft); the warp threads are set up under tension on a loom and the weft thread is passed back and forth across part or all of the warp. Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work, unlike cloth weaving where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible. In tapestry weaving, weft yarns are typically discontinuous.

Now this is where it gets really interesting:

 The artisan interlaces each colored weft back and forth in its own small pattern area. It is a plain weft-faced weave having weft threads of different colors worked over portions of the warp to form the design.

French Traditional Tapestry

A closeup of traditional French Tapestry

This was such an inspiration to me! I thought, why can’t I apply this weaving technique to knitting? Surely it would be interesting to combine the look of the two crafts: to knit with different colors over portions of my work to form a design. Thus Tapestry Knitting was born!

For this design I am using the Garter Stitch. Each Garter Stitch Ridge (GSTR) becomes a part of the design and it free forms straight and wavy lines.

This technique steps out of the characteristic vertical (stitches) and horizontal (rows) construction of a knitted piece.

SKEINO Miss Grace Closeup

This is how Tapestry Knitting actually looks like. The adaption from weaving translated beautifully into knitting.

By using short row forms into the knitting the following rows have to “wave” like the weft (horizontal threads) in a tapestry. By adding more short row forms into the “valleys” of the rows, the lines create another wave. It’s a play with “hills” and “valleys” to finally end up with a straight line to complete a piece.

By using several colors the wavy rows and forms are more visible which creates the tapestry look.

Like the painters in the early years drew “Cartoons” for a tapestry, I drew a Shawl with lines, waves and forms. I started knitting in one corner and followed a count of Garter Stitch Ridges, stitches and colors. It doesn’t end here – the design possibilities are endless!

When finishing my shawl I added a knitted “frame” on the edge holding all the lines waves and forms together.

It was a lot of fun and I didn’t want to stop knitting the shawl in this technique. If you want to try it here what you need to do:

My creation in the Tapestry Knitting technique is called the Miss Grace Shawl and it is SKEINO’s brand new product for the Fall/Winter season 2015/2016. We carefully chose our colorways and named them after real people who we think are full of grace!

The put up of this kit is 4 skeins, 2 of them are in the base color and one each is the first and second color. Being a super wash yarn the piece will be easy to care for and the yarn feels very soft and cotton-like.

SKEINO's new Miss Grace Shawl

SKEINO’s new Miss Grace Shawl

SKEINO's new Miss Grace Shawl

SKEINO’s new Miss Grace Shawl

SKEINO Miss-Grace-Pattern

The pattern for the Miss Grace Shawl comes with a chart so you know exactly when to create the forms.

Being a part of SKEINO’s DNA the kits are packed and shipped by the people with special needs of LARC, Inc., here in South-West Florida.

What do you think about Tapestry Knitting? Do you like my idea? Or did you even create YOUR own special technique? Let me know in the comments section!

As always: HAPPY KNITTING,

Bjorn

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INTERVIEW WITH KNITTING DESIGNER AND BESTSELLING AUTHOR ANTJE GILLINGHAM

Today is a very special day for us here at SKEINO. I met with knitting designer and bestselling author Antje Gillingham who just started collaborating with us. Meet Antje and learn about why she actually started knitting snakes!

Antje Gillingham for SKEINO

Matt: Hi Antje, I’m glad you’re here with us today! 

Antje: Hi Matt, excited to be here!

Matt: Your first name sounds German, are you a “pilgrim”? 

Antje: Actually, “Antje” is a Dutch name. My parents adore Nordic names, therefore my siblings and I all have them! I do come from Germany though.

I learned how to knit in school at the age of 8. Back then, we had a class similar to home ec.

Matt: When did you come to the US and how did you feel when you came here? 

Antje: I came to the States a looong time ago…gulp…well, let’s just say, I was 18 years old. I landed in Burbank, California with my former husband, and moved to the Monterey Peninsula a few years later. You know how I felt when I got here? “Let the adventure begin!” And boy, it’s been a fantastic ride so far!

Matt: Today you’re living in Hawaii. That sounds like a dream! Is it as great to live here as we all imagine it to be?

Antje: Wow, how much space do I get for this answer? I could gush, and drive the word count up substantially!! But to keep it super short: I loooove living in Hawaii! It is where I belong!

Matt: Let’s talk about knitting! Can you recap when you learned to knit and how you became a designer?

Antje: Again… it was a long time ago in a land far away…But seriously; I learned how to knit in school at the age of 8. Back then, we had a class similar to home ec. It started in 4th grade. My first project was a super-colorful snake. It took me forever to seam that up!! I no longer make snakes, and I do have a love-hate relationship with seaming things.

Designing snuck up on me by way of socks. I, as many other knitters, have always had second sock syndrome, and still have a few single socks in the drawer because I couldn’t get myself to knit the same thing twice. I was introduced and immediately intrigued by the unconventional technique of knitting 2 socks at the same time on 2 circular needles, and became obsessed. I refined the steps, and I started offering classes at my shop. People loved the technique and that excited me. I began to teach the class all over the country, it always sold out. And suddenly, I found myself designing patterns, specifically for knitting 2 socks simultaneously on 2 circular needles because they didn’t exist back then.

One big knitting trend for fall-winter 2015-16 is oversized everything – sweaters, ponchos, scarves and such; bulky yarns are back for quick knits and instant gratification; textured and directional patterns, color as well as bead work are also trending for the upcoming cooler season.

Matt: You wrote several best-selling knitting books. Can you briefly talk about them?

Antje: It was thrilling to write those books and then have two of them, Knitting Circles around Socks and Knitting more Circles around Socks, became bestsellers! I loved the process of creating the designs, of taking a skein of yarn, finding the perfect pattern for it and then watching it jump off the drawing board and into life. The fact that so many knitters not only learned how to knit 2 socks at a time but in general how to knit socks using the instructions in my books is an exhilarating feeling!

Antje Gillingham with her bestselling books

Matt: How would you define a good design for a knitted piece?

Antje: That’s easy! The design has to fit the yarn. Considering all the time and money knitters put into their projects, the end-result needs to be just as lovely and comfortable as the picture promised. After all, we buy patterns because we like what we see. But if we follow the instructions and end up with something that doesn’t live up to its promises is so disappointing and just plain horrible!

Matt: What are the hottest trends in knitting right now and are there evergreens that never run out of fashion?

Antje: One big knitting trend for fall-winter 2015-16 is oversized everything – sweaters, ponchos, scarves and such; bulky yarns are back for quick knits and instant gratification; textured and directional patterns, color as well as bead work are also trending for the upcoming cooler season. Hats, scarves, shawls, fingerless mitts, accessories and small projects in general – as always – remain evergreens. In the end though, it only really matters what the individual knitter loves to do. That’ll be their hot fashion trend for any season!

For SKEINO, it’s their luscious vivid colors, and that combined with a quality product makes them stand apart from the rest.

Matt: You just started collaborating with us at SKEINO and we’re soooo excited! Can you tell our readers how all of this started and why you chose to work with us? I heard you turned down other offers from yarn companies wanting to collaborate with you.

Antje: I did have offers from other yarn companies but SKEINO was just the perfect fit for me.

I used to own a yarn shop, and first met Bjorn and Rex at The Summer NeedleArts Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio about … oh wow … I think it was about 10 years ago! I remember walking through the aisles, stepping in and out of booths, admiring new yarns for the fall season, and being completely overwhelmed. Then I came across their booth and saw Bjorn in front of a display of magnificent color, talking to a customer. That’s really all I saw at first, the color. We got to talking and hit it off right away! We talked yarn, color and a little Germany, switching back and forth between English and German. It felt like we’d known each other forever! Poor Bjorn – at the end of our conversation and without warning, I flung myself at him for a big hug…he was very gracious about it. Of course, Rex got a hug as well! They both must have thought me pretty strange, but they never led on.

We’ve been in touch ever since, on a business level and on a personal level. I have used their sock yarn in one of my books (loved it!), and we’ve always talked about a collaboration but our schedules never matched….until now. I am thrilled to finally be a part of SKEINO!!

Matt: From your professional point of view, how would you describe SKEINO yarn?

Antje: AMAZING COLOR! That comes to mind first! It goes without saying that SKEINO yarns are high quality yarns, but let’s be honest; there is quite a lot of great yarn on the market these days. In order to stay competitive you have to take that extra step and offer something not commonly found. For SKEINO, it’s their luscious vivid colors, and that combined with a quality product makes them stand apart from the rest.

Antje Gillingham with SKEINO yarn

Matt: There are several designs in the making and we’re uber-excited to learn more. What can you give away about them?

Antje: You’re not the only ones uber-excited! I have been seriously sequestered away….on the patio and at the beach (seriously!), swatching my fingers to the bone. I’ve played with ideas and tested patterns, and created designs that bring out the best qualities and some surprising attributes in each yarn and its color. I found pattern repeats that are relatively easy to work yet look like they’re complicated stitch work. Above all, I hope that my designs bring excitement to the coming season, and that the patterns are fun to knit up; and if they are gifts, I hope it will be hard…nay, near impossible to give them away! Happy knitting, everybody!!

Matt: Sounds amazing! We truly appreciate having you at SKEINO. One last question: Is knitting the new yoga?

Antje: Knitting is, and I think has always been Yoga for the soul!

Matt: Thank you for your time and we’re excited to see your designs!

Antje: I should thank you because you let me play with your wonderful yarn! I can’t wait to share my designs!

About Matt: Matt Lehmann is one of SKEINO’s owners and he is in charge of marketing and communication. His knitting skills are practically non-existing but he does know the difference between sock weight and super bulky weigh by now. Oh, and no – unfortunately he didn’t have the chance to actually visit Antje in Hawaii yet, sniff….

KNITTING OUT OF THE BOX – BJORN’S TIPS & TRICKS – Carrying The Yarn On The Side Up

As a textile designer I need to know a lot about techniques, styles and also some math. Traditionally much of my work has been weaving. Nowadays with SKEINO this has changed and now I’m almost always knitting. However sometimes my weaving experience inspires me to make my knitting richer by crossing techniques. Today I will talk about carrying the yarn on the side up when using more than one yarn type or color.

If you are knitting a project with more than one yarn you have to make a decision on how to carry the yarn. You can either carry it on the side or you cut the yarn off until it is being used again.

Today I will show you not only how to decide on that but also how to combine the 2 techniques in one and the same project.

Say I am working on a striped project using 5 different colored yarns like shown in the graphic:

SKEINO carrying the yarn on the side up graphic

Look at the left and right hand side of the graphic to see the 2 techniques.

LEFT SIDE OF THE GRAPHIC

The colors for the stripes are being used in a bigger distance apart from each other and in this case I recommend cutting the yarn after you complete the stripe (left side). Remember that you have to stitch the ends in after you have finished your project.

RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE GRAPHIC

The base yarn (blue) on the other hand is being used after each of the colors. The distance from using this color to the next time is much shorter. Therefore I recommend carrying the yarn on the side.

SKEINO Closeup SKEINO carrying the yarn on the side up

Note the yarn being carried up the side.

So how do you do that, carrying the yarn on the side? It is a technique that I am using and it sort of combines knitting with weaving. Here is how it works:

After changing the yarn work two more rows. When you start the third row, slip the first stitch and place the yarn you want to carry between this and the second stich from the front to the back. Work the next two rows. Slip the first stitch and place the yarn you are carrying from the back to the front between the first and the second stitch. Keep doing so until you need to use the carried yarn again. This way you are “weaving” the unused yarn in on the edge of your project.

Here is another method I like to carry the yarn on the side:

After changing the yarn work the front row, turn and work the back row. Then knit or purl the last stitch with both yarns. Drop the unused yarn again and repeat this procedure. Your edge stitch will be stronger by doing so.

CONCLUSION:

When do is it best to cut the yarn off?

Whenever the distances between the colors are bigger it is easier and more comfortable to use this traditional technique.

When is my “Carry the yarn on the side” technique a good option?

Whenever the color changes are shorter or you have a base yarn throughout your project it’s a great option that will save time. Nobody likes: “Weave in ends.” So let’s avoid this part if possible. 🙂

SKEINO Co-Founder and knitting designer Bjorn holding some skeins

I love experimenting when knitting.

Don’t be afraid to combine these 2 techniques in the same project. The idea behind all this is to make your work easier for you. The techniques will do the job and save you time and effort. As always my recommendation is to explore knitting and trying new things. This is one of them.

HAPPY KNITTING !

Yours,

Bjorn

HOW KNITTING REBELS CHOOSE THEIR GAUGE

Knitting-Needles

As you might have noticed we at SKEINO love to encourage knitters to experiment and leave the safe harbor of instructed knitting. In this post we’ll be talking about needles and using the right size for the yarn weight of your project. Be a knitting rebel and throw over board those rigid guidelines! Here’s how:

Over the years the yarn industry created charts with yarn weights and the right Gauges. However these charts are a guideline and not set in stone.

Over the years the yarn industry (I guess that includes us as well) created charts with yarn weights and the right Gauges for them. However these charts are a guideline and not set in stone. We won’t be repeating these charts, because at SKEINO we believe that it’s the knitter who has to make the decision about the Gauge.

Gauge Ruler

Knitting gauge ruler

So how can you do this? To start with, if you like a yarn and you have a project or pattern in mind it’s always a good idea to knit up a swatch. Spend a good amount of time to do so. Try different needle sizes and you will figure out, which Gauge is pleasing you. Feel free to ignore the recommended Gauge, take it just to get started!

As you change the Gauge your piece becomes what you like, your decision will be the anchor of your work, because YOU are knitting and not the industry.

For example if you like lace knitting and you just bought a thin brushed Mohair Yarn, there is no need to knit it up with a small needle according to the lace weight as you’re told in the pattern! Try a much larger needle and you might love the loser texture it creates. This way you will end up knitting with a lace yarn but using the worsted weight Gauge.

A scarf, shawl and also an afghan needs to be fluffy. As you change the Gauge your piece becomes what you like, your decision will be the anchor of your work, because YOU are knitting and not the industry. You’ll end up with a piece to cuddle up with and you’ll love to use a larger needle to create a more open texture. This is easy to do and you won’t have any trouble so look at it as your first work as a knitting rebel!

Get active and ask for help in your knitting community to see what other knitters’ experience is.

Now let’s increase the level a little for our more experienced knitters who like to knit garments that come in different sizes. With a garment piece you have to consider how your Gauge change will affect size the garment. Since you’ll need to keep its shape your knitting will also need to be tighter in order to prevent the piece from “growing”. Otherwise you’ll end up with a Size-S Knitting kit that will come out as an XL with a too loose texture – unless your goal is just to achieve that effect.

SKEINO yarn

Find your favourite yarn and Gauge

Conclusion:

Even if a pattern provides the Gauge, try knitting a swatch and find out if the gauge is your Gauge. Often it’s good to spend some time to do the math accordingly to your swatch and find out for yourself. Also get active and ask for help in your knitting community to see what other knitters’ experience is. You can use your local knitting groups, friends or family and of course Ravelry. We hope that this will encourage you to start experimenting and be a knitting rebel. Remember that knitting is a creative hobby and you are the person who decides what is done.

HAPPY KNITTING!