Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Reflections on the Design Process, part 3


This past week was the first week of Stained Fingers Dye Camp at Indigodragonfly’s studio. I wasn’t attending but three of my friends did and had a blast! I went along to Haliburton and took the week to work on some new designs and make progress on others. Plus I had the opportunity to show off my designer in residence project to Kim and Ron in person!

I’ve made a bit of progress on this project in the past month, completing 8 repeats so far of the 12 row chart for the body. So the countdown is on – although there are 39 more repeats to go before I get to finish the stole with the other edging. Knitting on this project has slowed down a bit with other design deadlines taking precedence.
Linen and silk stole stitch detail

I want to talk a bit about my inspiration for the stitch pattern used for the body of this piece. Although I’ve blogged about the edging first, when I was working on the concept for this design, it was the body stitch pattern that I needed to establish first. Only then would I be able to come up with an appropriate edging design.

When I originally doodled some ideas for for this design, the only idea I had was that I wanted something with strong vertical lines. You may not see them clearly yet in the photos of the stitch pattern but, once it’s blocked, the vertical elements will be clear.

With that in mind, I started paging through stitch dictionaries and my files of stitch pattern images saved on my computer. Early on I came across the image below on a Pinterest board and knew it was perfect but had difficulty finding a chart or written instructions.
Russian stitch pattern
I kept looking and finally found instructions I thought might be what I was looking for – except they were in Russian! The chart that accompanied the written instructions was confusing but I started tackling it and after a few swatch attempts was getting something that occassionally showed signs of being the stitch pattern I hoped for. Over the month of February, I kept plugging away, changing a stitch here, a yarn over there but wasn’t making the progress I hoped for. I was ready to throw in the towel and use a different stitch pattern – and then fate intervened. A friend gave me a leaflet to browse, Berroco #344, Berroco Folio™, and there down the front panel of Iwi was my stitch patttern (and even stranger in almost the same colour as my yarn)!

I quickly flipped to the charts and within moments understood my mistakes. Once I got home, it was the work of moments to fix my charts and start a new swatch. Success! I was all ready to go with the body of the design and at that point, I could move on to create the edging. The zig zag pattern in the edging was selected to mirror the body stitch pattern and tie the two elements together.

Upcoming Class: Intentional (Planned) Pooling at Lancaster Yarn Shop


Intentional Pooling
Looking for something new to do with your skeins of handpainted yarn? Come join me for a class on Intentional (Planned) Pooling at Lancaster Yarn Shop on Saturday, August 2nd, 1 to 4 p.m. This is one of my favourite classes to teach and I’m really looking to teaching my first class outside of Ontario.

This class will teach you how to assess the colors in your yarn and line them up to create vertical stripes utilizing the natural pooling effects of the yarn and leave with the start of a scarf. You’ll also learn to read a chart and knit a basic lace pattern.

Class size is limited and preregistration is required. Call the shop at (717) 768-8007 to reserve your spot!

Reflections on the Design Process, part 2


Where did June go? One minute it was early in the month and I had started my Artist in Residence at Shall We Knit? and suddenly it’s July. I never got back here to the blog to post about the stitch patterns used in the design I was working up in Indigodragonfly Linen Silk. I have to state, yet again, how much I love this yarn! It feels lovely to knit with and the drape is fantastic.

In my previous post I spoke a bit about wanting to have attached edgings and graphical designs and this is what I showed you:
New design using Indigodragonfly Linen Silk
The piece shown is unblocked but you can see that the edging features these strong graphical elements – diamonds and zig-zags. The edging is comprised of elements from several different “vintage” stitch patterns, a few of which are found in an 1849 Ladies’ Needlework book epublished by Interweave Press. Vintage instructions, like the ones in this ebook, are provided as written instructions. What you see in the photo above is the 7th version of the edging – the one with which I’m finally happy.

Designing with any stitch patterns often requires a lot of swatching but I find vintage instructions require many more versions to reach a “finished” state. Often the instructions don’t exactly match the illustration (if there is one) and stitch repeats aren’t often indicated and usually I am combining multiple elements. In the case of the edging shown, I combined elements of 3 separate vintage edgings, added a section of a lace “insertion” and then tweaked until I ended up with something that looked “right.”

The diamond shape in the unblocked edging looks misshapen; with blocking it will appear more diamond-like. The zig-zags will be sharper and the outside edge will have points rather than scallops. I’ve put quite a lot of knitting into this over the past month and I’ve finished 6 repeats of the body of the stole. I’m so pleased with how the piece is coming together and in the picture below (taken a few weeks ago) you can see one repeat of the design I’ve selected for the body.

New design from Janelle Martin in Indigodragonfly Linen Silk

Happy Knitting!

Audrey II


Audrey II Cowl held up to show stitch pattern

The stitch pattern on this cowl immediately brought to mind the open “jaws” of the venus fly trap plant, which of course brought to mind Audrey II from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Named in her honour, the sample of this cozy cowl is worked in decadently luscious yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch.

This is the perfect project for a precious skein of luxury yarn. The circumference can be customized by adding/removing stitch repeats while the height can be adjusted by working additional rounds. This is the perfect project for a precious skein of luxury yarn.

Get all the details of Audrey II here.

Eclectic Closet Newsletter


You may have noticed the “subscribe to our mailing list” feature on the website recently and wondered about it. Maybe you’re one of those who signed up and never received anything?

I’ve been planning to start a newsletter for a while and today, the first issue went out! If you aren’t signed up, you can read it by clicking here (and then go sign up). If you’re already signed up, check your inbox.

At this point I anticipate sending out the newsletter to announce new designs, highlight upcoming classes or when there’s something important to share – perhaps once every month or two.

Arts Awards Waterloo Region


Tonight was the 26th Annual Arts Awards Waterloo Region. I found out in February that I had been nominated for the Amy Hallman Snyder Textile, Fibre and Quilting Arts Award – quite the honour! Last month I attended the nominees reception where I received a certificate of nomination and a chance to meet the other nominees. And then it was the moment to find out the results.

I’m thrilled that my parents were in town to attend with me and that Jen, the model in many of my designs, was able to attend as well. There was great entertainment and tastings from several local restaurants and then it was time for the award show. My category was announced shortly after intermission and then I heard my name called – I won!

Slide announcing my win

Being on stage is a bit of a blur. I hadn’t prepared comments for winning so I thanked the Arts Award Committee and Kristen H. who nominated me. And of course, I thanked the fibre community who have been so supportive.

Accepting the Arts Award Waterloo Region for Textile Fibre and Quilting

After the presentation I was led off stage to have my photo taken with the presenting sponsor Marion Martin, founder of the Amy Hallman Snyder Award Fund (in honour of her mother).

Janelle and award presenter Marion Martin

And then of course, I needed a picture with my parents!

Janelle with her parents

A great night! Congratulations to all the other nominees and winners.

Reflections on the design process


I’ve been intrigued with Victorian shawls ever since Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby – you know, the pieces with the deep edgings that drape beautifully along the edges of the stoles and shawls? I was lucky enough to see the pieces in person at Stitches East that year.

At that point I wasn’t designing and didn’t feel confident enough in my lace knitting to dream of knitting a piece like that but the look of those pieces stuck in my mind. Fast forward many years to 2012 when I designed first piece with deep, attached edgings, Vieux Carré Stole and in 2013, the Flower Bell Stole.

Vieux Carré Stole

When I started thinking about a design using the Indigodragonfly Linen Silk, I knew immediately that the design had to take advantage of the amazing drape inherent in this yarn. I knew I wanted to have attached edgings and strong graphical elements in the stitch patterns.

New design using Indigodragonfly Linen Silk

Here’s a quick shot with my phone camera of the beginning edging in its unblocked state. I’m knitting the largest size of the design for my sample (there will be a medium stole size and a scarf size as well).

Next post, I’ll talk about selecting stitch patterns for this piece.

Artist-in-Residence at Shall We Knit?


Janelle Martin with her designs on display at Shall We Knit?
I was honoured when Karen at Shall We Knit? asked if I would participate in their Artist-in-Residence program. I’m among good company; in April 2013 designer Linda Choo’s work was on display and, in February 2013, Kathryn Matthews was featured.

Janelle Martin designs
For the month of June, my designs are on display in the gallery space on the second floor of the shop and each Saturday I’ll be on hand at the shop to answer questions, offer advice and chat about the new design I’m developing as part of my residency. Indigodragonfly sponsors the artist-in-residence and I’ve decided to create my design in their lovely Linen Silk. The drape and feel of this yarn has to be experienced in person. I’m using a luscious spring green – Türtljägr: For When Frögschläger Just Won’t Do. For now, all I’ll say is that I’m designing a stole with the same construction as my Vieux Carré Stole (the light blue stole in the photo below).

Janelle Martin designs

Stop by Shall We Knit? this Saturday or the next and say hi! I’ll be at the shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Janelle Martin designs

P.S. Thanks for the photos Dad!

Angular Path Scarf


Angular Path Cover Shot watermarked

Looking at the photo above, you may wonder about releasing a pattern that looks like it should be worn in deep winter. And yes, it is perfect for that time of year. The secret is that the sample of the Angular Path scarf is knit in luscious Lang Seta Tweed, a beautiful, nubbly silk/cotton blend that makes this unisex design perfect for any season.

Comprised of only knit and purl stitches, the scarf is reversible and a perfect beginner project.

Get all the details of the Angular Path Scarf here.

Cartouche Stole


Cartouche Stole
I was paging through Japanese stitch dictionaries and found the main pattern used in this shawl. It reminded me of an Egyptian cartouche and I visualized it in a deeper vibrant red. That design, the Cartouche Shawl, was published in Knitty, Winter 2011.

I received a number of requests for a rectangular version using these stitch patterns. The Cartouche Stole is worked in two sections, beginning with a provisional cast on in the centre back. The stitch patterns flow seamlessly one into another. To accomplish this, transitional charts are used. These are marked as such and must be followed with extra care as stitch patterns are altered to flow into the next design.

Get all the details of the Cartouche Stole here.

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My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
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