Tag Archives: cowl

Interview with knitting designer, Michele Wang

Today, I’m excited to share an interview with a fellow New Yorker, Michele Wang. Michele is a knitwear designer, and if you’re a fan of Brooklyn Tweed, you’ve definitely seen her work before. In addition to appearing in numerous BT publications, Michele’s work has been published by Vogue Knitting, Quince & Co., knit.wear, and amirisu, and she also self-publishes as mishi2x. By strange coincidence, we both recently had a pattern published in the same issue of Pom Pom Quarterly (her Aureus cardigan and my Vintage Bullion scarf).

 

Michele can be found online as mishi2x on her website/blog, FlickrInstagramPinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. She can also be found on her Ravelry Designer page and in her Ravelry group, mishi2x by Michele Wang Fans. All photos in this post are are copyright Michele Wang unless otherwise noted and are used with permission.

 

Michele Wang

Michele Wang.

 

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started knitting and spinning?

Michele: I first started knitting at a friend’s suggestion. I had just ran my first (and only) marathon, and wanted to do something less physical to allow my body to heal. Since I had always been interested in fashion, textiles, and working with my hands it seemed to make sense. Of course now, not only does it make sense but I wonder why I didn’t take it up earlier in life. And spinning is a much more recent fascination. I think like most knitters, what hypnotized me at first was the sheer variety of yarns available. I would buy yarn because of the color and its softness. But once I learned more about different fibers and how they behaved I really became fascinated by untreated wools, different breeds of sheep and the beauty in their subtle differences. And this is what led me to spinning. I think yarn manufacturers are educating knitters more by specifying breeds that they use, but generally you see that it’s “wool”. I loved how roving is sold by breed and how I can spin up exactly the yarn I want.

 

Seedy Scarf by Michele Wang

Seedy Scarf, a free knitting pattern by Michele Wang.

 

UC: What was your original motivation to start designing?

Michele: My original motivation was the “cowl.” It’s so funny to think about that now since they’re so popular, but when cowls really hit the media in 2008, there weren’t a lot of fashionable cowl patterns out there. So I designed my first piece, the Eternity Scarf, which is a simple cowl and threw it up on Ravelry simply because I wanted to make one that I liked. After that, an editor at Vogue Knitting contacted me because I had been doing sample knitting for Shirley Paden. She asked if I’d be interested in submitting a design. Without her prompting, I probably would have never submitted a design to a magazine. But with her encouragement, I took the chance.

 

Eternity Scarf photo c Brooklyn Tweed

Eternity Scarf by Michele Wang. Photo (c) Brooklyn Tweed.

 

UC: How did you become involved with Brooklyn Tweed?

Michele: Jared Flood contacted me through Ravelry, and the rest is history. Sometimes I can’t believe how simple life can be, because usually it’s pretty difficult! But at the time I was working in technology at a law firm, and not very happy. Jared reached out and asked if I’d be interested in doing a design for his new yarn line, Shelter. The timing was perfect. I dug right in and ended up designing Perry for his very first edition of Wool People. Since we both live in the NYC area, we met up for coffee a few times and he mentioned creating a Design Team to put out seasonal collections. And it just evolved from there. Soon I couldn’t handle both jobs, so I left my career in technology and focused on designing for BT.

 

Fade photo c Brooklyn Tweed

Fade by Michele Wang. Photo (c) Brooklyn Tweed.

 

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Michele: I would say half of my inspiration is found online and on the streets in NYC. I do love fashion and I love seeing what trends are introduced on the runway, and what eventually sticks around and ends up on the streets for the everyday. I can spend hours on sites like Pinterest just flipping through pictures and creating fantasy moodboards. I also try to people-watch as much as possible. It’s easy to bury my nose in a book on the subway, but I try to take a look around and find design elements here and there. And, the other half would be the traditions and history of knitwear. I love flipping through old knitting books and looking at fisherman or icelandic yoked sweaters. My latest obsession is Designs and Patterns from Muhu Island. I am completely blown away by the use of color, and the intricate hand work. For someone like me who shies away from colorwork, this book has been very inspirational. It’s truly a celebration of color and I hope to incorporate more colorwork into my designs.

 

Wickerwork photo c Carrie Bostick Hoge

Wickerwork by Michele Wang. Photo (c) Carrie Bostick Hoge. Published by Quince & Co.

 

UC: You mention your love of wool on your Ravelry profile. Tell us what you enjoy about working with this fiber. Do you have a preference for working with any breed-specific yarns, too?

Michele: I love wool for so many reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s sustainable and earth-friendly. It’s just something you can’t ignore these days. Also, I love the life in it. It has just enough elasticity. It blooms to perfection after just a little light blocking. The bit of lanolin left on your hands while knitting is a natural moisturizer. And with minimally processed wool, I find that it ends up being softer than anything else. Too many yarns are soft in the skein, and then completely lifeless after it’s knit up. And, of course, I just love sheep. They’re absolutely adorable, and with so many different breeds you could never get bored knitting with just wool. When I went to Rhinebeck a few years back, I bought a few ounces of Ronaldsay. I didn’t know much about this breed, but I liked the color. So after I brought it home, I looked up the breed online and found out that it’s a sheep that lives mainly on seaweed. Of course, this breed fast became one of my favorites. But, as for spinning, I really enjoy working with Jacob. It’s an ancient breed and the resulting yarn is so textured and beautiful. (UC comment: You can read more about breed specific wool in this interview with Karia from Kouture Crochet, and, specifically, about the North Ronaldsay yarn and Jacob fleece I received in a wonderful swap from the owner of the Nude Ewe, a non-profit yarn company.)

 

Cables and Lace Beret by Michele Wang

Cables and Lace Beret by Michele Wang.

 

UC: What are your favorite knitting books in your collection?

Michele: All of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. I live dangerously close to Kinokuniya and go there often. I love swatching, and I can sit and swatch the stitch patterns from those books endlessly. (UC comment: I’m glad I don’t live dangerously close to Kinokuniya, as I’ve already demonstrated my inability to pass their booth at any event without buying books!)

 

Stonecutter photo c Brooklyn Tweed

Stonecutter by Michele Wang. Photo (c) Brooklyn Tweed.

 

UC: Do you have any crafty websites you frequent for inspiration or community?

Michele: I really enjoy Fringe Association. It has the perfect balance between modern and tradition, and Karen has such a beautiful aesthetic. But to be perfectly honest, most of the crafty websites I frequent are more focused on sewing and quilting. I love the Japanese Sewing Books blog, and Sew Mama Sew. They have really great tutorials, tips and sew alongs.

 

Thanks for taking the time out for an interview, Michele, and for sharing your love of sheep and wool!

Free pattern: Quick, Fast in a Hurry Cowl

I recently made a cowl for a swap.  My partner had very specific color choices, and I didn’t see a pattern that would let the yarn’s long repeats shine.  After trying a few different stitches, I came up with the Quick, Fast in a Hurry Cowl.  I used just one skein of bulky yarn to make this unisex cowl.  It’s perfect for a last minute gift, or just to protect your neck from a sudden cold spell.  Enjoy the free pattern!

Quickie fast in a hurry cowl

Quick, Fast in a Hurry Cowl

Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter

02-easy

Finished Size

Adult: 6.25” (16 cm) tall x 24” (61 cm) circumference.

Materials

Loops & Threads Charisma (100% acrylic, 3.5 oz/100 g/109 yd/100 m) – 1 skein #31 Black Raspberry, or approximately 100 yards (91 m) in any bulky weight yarn.

L/8 mm crochet hook, or any size needed to obtain correct gauge.

Yarn needle.

Gauge

11 sts in pattern = 4” (10 cm) across.  Exact gauge is not critical for this project.

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern

US terms

 

 

ch = chain

dc = double crochet

hdc = half double crochet

rep = repeat

sk = skip

sc = single crochet

st(s) = stitch(es)

t-ch = turning chain

* Repeat from asterisk as indicated.

Quick fast in a hurry cowl2 close up edit.jpg

 

Pattern Instructions

Ch 18.

Row 1: Turn, sk 2 sts (counts as hdc), *(sc, hdc, dc) in next st, sk 2 sts; rep from * across to last st, hdc in last st.  (17 sts)

Row 2: Turn, ch 2 (counts as hdc), *(sc, hdc, dc) in next st, sk 2 sts; rep from * across to last st, hdc in t-ch.

Repeat Row 2 until piece measures approximately 24” (61 cm) long.  Fasten off with 15” (38 cm) yarn tail.  With yarn needle and yarn tail, use the reverse mattress stitch (also known as an invisible seam) to join short edges together.  Finish off, weave in ends.

Quick Fast in a Hurry Cowl flat

Tips

Use a long-repeat variegated yarn to create a “striped” look.

Leonie Morgan has a great reverse mattress stitch tutorial here.

 

© 2013 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter).  This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the pattern to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts.  You may sell items you personally make by hand from the pattern.  If you would like to teach a class based on this pattern, please contact Marie at marie AT undergroundcrafter DOT com to purchase a commercial-use pattern.  Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this pattern or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group, without her written permission.

FO Friday: Calm Cowl

I’ve recently been joining a lot of -alongs.  Crochet Happy hosted a CAL in January for Suzana Davidovic‘s Calm Cowl.  (Now you try to say Calm Cowl CAL five times fast…)

The CAL was sponsored by Galler Yarns and held in the Galler Yarns Ravelry group. I’m not eligible for the awesome prizes since I already do some work for Galler Yarns, but I still had a lot of fun!

I finished mine at the very end, just a day before the CAL ended.  (What can I say, I like living on the edge.)

I made mine using Galler Yarns Prime Alpaca in Nutmeg.  I made a few modifications based on watching others in the CAL.  I basically changed the pattern so it was symmetrical and made it a few rows shorter in total.

It’s very soft and it’s long enough to wrap around twice.  I’m thinking it will be a great holiday gift for my aunt.  It feels good to cross something off the list so early in the year!

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Free pattern: All Weather Cowl

I’m excited to announce another free pattern in collaboration with Galler Yarns.

Download All Weather Cowl Pattern PDF.

Using one jumbo skein of Galler Yarns Aztec Boucle, an organic cotton yarn with just a little bit of nylon added, this cowl is a great all weather accessory.  The eyelets created by the stitch patterns and the cotton yarn make it breathable in warmer weather, but the length allows you to wrap it around three times for warmth in cold weather.

This is a reversible stitch pattern that can be made even by Tunisian crochet newbies.  It doesn’t hurt that the yarn texture will cover any mistakes you make ;).

The All Weather Cowl is crocheted across lengthwise and then seamed.

 

Since you will have 80 inches (203 cm) of stitches on your hook, I recommend using a Tunisian crochet hook with a flexible cable.  If you don’t already have some on hand, I sell them in my Etsy shop here.

The Aztec Boucle works up nicely and creates a great gift for any eco-conscious person on your list.  I sell a kit in my Etsy shop that includes a jumbo skein of Aztec Boucle in Ecru along with your choice of bamboo Tunisian crochet hook with a long cord.

You can also download this pattern on Ravelry here and on Craftsy here.  Enjoy!

Free Pattern Alert: Ribbed Möbius Crocheted Cowl at Kollabora

You might remember that I was working on secret projects a few weeks ago.  The first one was just revealed today!

Teaser revealed!

 

(c) Kollabora

You can download the free pattern for the Ribbed Möbius Crocheted Cowl here.  If you aren’t already a Kollabora member, you should check it out!  It’s a great, multi-craftual maker community.  (You don’t need to be a member to download the free pattern, by the way.)  This is a great one skein project that works up really quickly with a bulky yarn.  Enjoy!

Holiday Stashdown Challenge, Week 17

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting.  You can read more details here.)

I’m happy to say that I did finish the Bruges lace infinity cowl/scarf I was working on last week!

Here's a self portrait of me wearing it as a scarf.

This will probably end up going to my cousin’s wife.  I’m going to finish all four scarves for the women in my dad’s family before making the final decisions about who gets what, though.

It feels really great to add something else to the finished list!

The Finished List! (~1,372 yds from stash)

1) Cabled hat for Dad – Cascade 220 Superwash (from stash) ~220 yds – A Hat Fit for a Fella pattern by Shana Kreikemeier

2) Cabled hat for JP – Malabrigo Rios (from stash) ~145 yds – my own design

3) Bruges lace scarf for OB – madelinetosh tosh sport (purchased at Knitty City for this project) – 270 yds – Sparkling Wave Scarf pattern by Tatyana Mirer

4) Ribbed beanie for cousin PR – Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (from stash) – 122 yds – my own design

5) Stuffed toy for little cousin, CJ – Caron One Pound in black and white (from stash) – 210 yds - Lala the Panda by Stacey Trock
6) Ribbed beanie for cousin MR - Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (from stash) – 129 yds – my own design

7) Bruges lace scarf for my friend, JS – Bitsy Knits Squoosh (from stash) – 270 yds – my own design

8 ) Bruges lace infinity scarf/cowl for one of the ladies in my dad’s familyAustermann Step (from stash) – 276 yds – my own design

I’m going to try and keep to the schedule of holiday crafting that I set for myself last week, which means that a knitted hat is next on my list…
Get ready, you're next on the list.
How is your holiday crafting coming?  Feel free to share your progress on your personal holiday gift making journey in the comments!