Saturday, September 28, 2013

September Illustrator: Harry Clarke

The Irish artist Harry Clarke is probably best known for his edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination, first published in 1919. These intensely detailed illustrations remain some of my favorites for the works of Poe, macabre and lush. 
Clarke's portrait of Poe could be of Roderick Usher. This Rasputinish expression turns up on most of Clarke's figures, as if expressing some madness barely contained.
In his day, he was known for his incredible stained glass, and this tendency toward burning gazes shows up even in Clarke's saints and angels.
It is easy to see his influence on modern illustration, especially graphic novels - the use of big, black space reminds me of Mike Mignola's work, for instance.
                Harry Clarke died young, most likely from exposure to the chemicals of his art. He left behind a legacy of imaginative darkness that is still shaping the art of the 21st century, more than 80 years after his death.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In Case I Need to Exorcise a Nightclub. You Never Know.

Some events render purses an encumbrance. Some clothes do not have pockets. So I made myself a utility belt. I used a couple of pouches from the army surplus store, the strap from a pair of old cargo shorts, and some heavy duty canvas.
The embroidered amulets come from old grimoires, via A.E. Waite's Book of Black Magic.
I'm kinda in love with it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part II

Last time, I covered my favorite way to start a provisional cast on. Today, I'll go over getting the stitches from the cast on live and workable, and how to graft the ends together.

Make sure your last row was a wrong side row. Leave your stitches on their needle. Now, let's examine the cast on edge. With the right (knit)side facing, push back that little chain of waste yarn. You can see the live stitches peeking out:

                                     Take a double pointed or circular needle, and insert the tip
                                                    through the right leg of each stitch.
You are going to end up with one less stitch than you cast on. This is that inevitability I mentioned. No matter what you do, this is how it will be. This is immutable knitting physics. Sure, you could cast on an extra stitch at the beginning, work it just once, drop it off your needle and save it for later. Or you can try to fudge it by tucking the tail of your working yarn into the edge. Unfortunately, either technique will throw your graft off, and actually wind up looking weirder. For now, accept your fate.

When you have picked up each stitch, you should have something that looks like this:
       The end of your provisional chain is on the same side as the tail of your main yarn.
                                         Pull this end of the waste yarn out of the chain, thus:
     The chain should zip right out, or at least come undone with a little tugging.
                                       You now have two sets of live, untwisted stitches.
                                       Your cast on edge, with it's one less stitch:
You might notice something peculiar about this edge. Right where the garter and stockinette meet? That's right - it looks like everything is shifted half a stitch! This is because we're picking up the stitches from their bottoms instead of their tops, which means that what we're really dealing with is the part of the stitch that falls between, linking the stitches together. This is why one less stitch.
Since this post is so photo heavy, let's tackle that graft behind the jump...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Exquisite Stitching: Yumiko Higuchi

Yumiko Higuchi is amazing. I found her on Pinterest, and quickly became obsessed with her perfectly balanced compositions and flawless stitching.
She scatters blossoms over linen, then transforms the fabric into charming little clutches. This combination of heirloom needlework and functional object, is irresistible.
These crustaceans are my favorites amongst her new works - those expressive claws!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part I

The provisional cast on method is everywhere these days. Just check out all these beauties a quick Rav search brings up. It's an invaluable tool for very particular situations - sort of the allen wrench in your toolbox. Generally, you'll be asked to use it when you knit something sideways, and want to join the ends seamlessly. It basically gives you a set of "live" stitches as a cast on, held by waste yarn which can be removed easily when the stitches are ready to do their thing. It's a little fiddly, and can be a bit daunting if you haven't done it before. I thought I'd share my favorite method for a provisional cast on, with some tips and lots of photos to make it as pleasant as possible.

First, grab your supplies:

-Knitting needles; I just used dpns, but use whatever you're going to use
  for your project.
-Crochet hook; while the size isn't important, it will be easiest if it is close to the millimeter size of your needles. You don't need to know how to crochet to do this, so don't worry if you're not bi-craftual.
-Waste yarn; this can be anything - smooth cotton in a strong
  contrast color works best.
-Working yarn; that is, the yarn you will be knitting with to start your project.

OK, let's go!