Friday, April 24, 2009

Machine Knitting is Alive and Well

Last weekend I traveled to Peru Indiana to teach at the Knit Knack Shop’s Spring Fling. It was great fun to be with machine knitters and see the enthusiasm they have for creating knitwear on a home knitting machine.

Charlene Shafer coordinates the seminar each spring, and this year instructors included Susan Guagliumi, Carol Forbes,Tricia Shafer, Rhaelene Wimberly, and myself.

I taught various classes including:
From Stitch Painter to your Knitting Machine
Garment Designer: A Versatile Tool for Design
Garment Designer: Learning a Little More
Combining Fabric and Knits
Simple Shapes, Creative Knits
Twenty Pattern Guidelines
It’s a Knock-Off World
What’s Hot in European Knitwear

It was great to reconnect with Susan Guagliumi, long-time friend and associate. Below you see pictures of Charlene (right) and Rhaelene (left), plus Tricia (right) and myself (left) Photos were taken by Susan Guagliumi

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Zealand Fashion

One of the reasons I love coming to New Zealand is the fashion that I see here. For such a small population (about 4 million), the level of fashion is top-notch. I am constantly impressed with the amount of creativity and detail I see.

I’ve been out twice with ‘the girls’ shopping, and it has been so much fun.

Here is what I’ve seen that is new .. for the upcoming Winter season here in New Zealand, (remember, the season’s are opposite).

  • Lots of hoods, on dress and casual garments, in silks, cottons, and other. Many of the hoods have extra-unique details.
  • Hood extensions, e.g. one side of a hood extending into a scarf.
  • Layering, especially in knitwear. We would see two fronts, one a vest and the other a full sweater, both on the same garment.
  • Asymmetrical looks, on all types of garments. This was a strong statement.
  • Wrapping, and wrapping and wrapping. Fine-knit tops would wrap completely around.
  • Long tails of fabric extending from collars, cuffs, side seams, etc. I know this is hard to envision, but it was there, and one of those ‘you have to see it’ kind of things.
  • Black, black, black. In fact, it was hard to find clothing other than black. Of course there were some things that were colorful, but the black statement is the strongest I have ever seen it.
  • Long knit armlets (i.e. fingerless gloves that extend the length of the arm).
  • Lots of floating panels, layers, etc.
  • Use of mesh knits on the garments.
  • Use of zippers as a decorative item. Sometimes the tape was a featured detail.
  • Fine merino knits, but we would expect this of New Zealand.
  • Empire waist treatments.
  • Big Buttons, which become focal points on the garment.

Our men...

Where would we be without our men!

Meet Bob Abbott. Bob has served many roles during my stay here in New Zealand. These include: barrista, wine-steward, walking companion, fine dining waiter, delivery man, message-taker, sports reporter, dancing-with-the-stars commentator, and, in general, dear friend.

Thanks Bob, for being the typical husband of a fiber artist. We appreciate that you have taken it all in stride and can smile while we ladies disappear into the depths of the studio.

Gem (the one on the left) is the constant companion who keeps us all company.

Meet Betty Abbott

Betty Abbott in one of the foremost machine knitters in New Zealand. I first met her in the early 1990’s when she phoned me whilst visiting California. We met up at a tradeshow in England, and I soon had an invitation to come teach at the New Zealand Machine Knitter’s Festival in Christchurch in 1993. Since then, we have been fast friends, and we enjoy each other immensely.

Betty is a renaissance fiber artist. She tackles many things (knitting, sewing, crochet, beading, felting, macramé, and the list goes on), and is successful in all her endeavors. I have learned much through osmosis, as I sit at her side. She is very generous with giving knowledge and many a New Zealander would confirm this.

Most recently, Betty has focused on creating felted pieces that she combines with knit pieces to make into vests and jackets. Her finishing is immaculate. Below you can see some of her work.

Here you can see a felted piece of Betty's work. Purple merino was laid on a black wool background. This will become the back focal piece of a jacket. A detail shot shows you the texture. Beading and embroidery will be applied to the surface.

To balance the larger projects, Betty has a line of crocheted beaded jewelry. Here you see paua shells (New Zealand abalone) crocheted to create a necklace. You are actually seeing several stranded necklaces.

Garment Designer User Group Meeting

This morning I had the pleasure of being involved with the Christchurch Garment Designer User Group. Thanks to the Bernina Sewing Center for hosting us.

It was a pleasure to answer questions related to Garment Designer and to hear what the New Zealanders are doing with the software. There is a great range of skills amongst the members as some knit (hand or machine), sew, felt, embroider, and so on.

For the 'program' part of the meeting, I demonstrated and discussed the various functions of the 'Extras' menu of Garment Designer. We talked about collars, cuffs, ruffles, pockets,edgings, and generic geometric shapes.

I just happened to have a bag full of clothing that I could reference. Several items are rather'new', meaning that our shopping spree of NZ fashion could be of service to people other than 'me'.

I look forward to seeing everyone again in the future, and then, they can pull items from their bag of goodies to share (as I am assigning homework... make something new!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meet Laurel Judd

Laurel Judd is one of New Zealand’s most innovative machine knitters. She has been knitting for over twenty years. She knits limited editions and and “one-off’s”.

I first met Laurel in New Zealand in the 1990’s. I was instantly struck with her creativity and must say that I’ve met few who could rival her ingenuity. I mean, who else do you know who can knit a chair? Or, create a garment from pot scrubbers.

In New Zealand, Laurel is a national tutor (we would say teacher) and judge of fiber art. She has won many awards, and has been published in various fiber art magazines, newsletters and books.

To see more of Laurel's work, visit her website at:

Here is the chair!

This ensemble was knit from approximately 200 metal pot scrubbers.

This dress involved 55,000 rows of knitting and over 200 hours. This is just in the skirt!

This is Laurel's studio.

Laurel also creates beaded jewelry.

This purse is knit and embellished with stitching and buttons.

New Zealand Creative Souls

I am currently in Christchurch, New Zealand, visiting with dear and creative friends. Here you see (left to right), Betty Abbott, Laurel Judd, and myself. We are sitting in Betty’s studio, in the middle of a brain-storming and sharing session.

It doesn’t get much better than this. For me, there is no greater creative joy than plugging in with fellow artists who share the same passion for design, art, fibers, and creativity.