"Everything should be made as simple as possible..but not simpler." Albert Einstein

studio visit with Annie Larson

Yesterday I visited Annie Larson from ALL knitwear in her beautiful Minneapolis studio.  She is lovely, and kind, and was so generous to give me a demonstration on her knitting machine.  Annie creates the most amazing knits I have ever seen, and the craftsmanship and attention to detail is wonderful.  I came away feeling so inspired.

3 things for friday

It is a blustery april day here in Minneapolis.  We might even get some snow later on.  Don’t you love the butterfly in the stomach anticipation of Friday?

Three things making me happy:

This beautiful leather clutch in cobalt blue hand made by Julia Okun of Rennes.  The perfect color! and size.

The song “On Your Side” by the Radio Dept (free download!).  Please play it loud and dance around your house.  Then repeat.

The “film” : A Machine to See With

From the Walker Art Center site:

Fresh from New Frontiers at Sundance, A Machine To See With now focuses on Minneapolis as the setting for its one-of-a-kind cinematic experience conjured through a creative marriage of technology and storytelling. As participants navigate the riverfront and city streets, stories unfold with the help of precisely timed phone calls, exploiting the conventions of classic film noir and real-life surveillance. As the tension rises, it asks you to play a part, take risks, engage in games, and—drawing inspiration from the ongoing financial crisis—make the kind of ethical decisions we all, in the end, confront.

I’m hoping to go “see” this on Monday.


April color inspiration

I was racking my brain for some spring color inspiration for the SCARFSHOP color of the month and coming up empty.  It is still full on winter here in Minnesota.  And then one day as I was watering my new indoor garden, admiring the subtle blush color on the edge of this succulent, I realized that would be the perfect color.

Coral Chalk in the shop tomorrow, April 1st.

Happy Spring.

pattern transformation

I found this frost covered feather at the bus stop this morning.  Another beautiful pattern.  I think I will spend part of today trying to transform this into a fabric pattern.

winter patterns

They are like puppies – clumsy in their abundance of winter gear, eager to get out the door into the sharp morning.  It’s still dark, but the edges of light are coming and it’s enough to see the small icy path ahead.  We file in a single track, up and down over the huge frozen mounds left by the plow.  They pretend we are climbing mountains and I laugh to myself because they don’t see the grimy soot of exhaust and headlights as cars pass on our city street. The buses start arriving from all directions, as do the children, big blobby mounds running out from houses while shoving mittens onto their hands, trailing backpacks and parents.

There are few lights on in the houses, but the street is dotted with the sickly orange glow from the sodium vapor street lights.  I think as I always do how that light is my least favorite color, and that it’s pointless to take any photos when those lights are on.

There isn’t much talking among us, the parents.  It’s too cold or too early or too Minnesota.

Our bus arrives and I look in to see yet another new driver.  It must be a tough job, driving that early city school bus.

Suddenly the street is quiet again.  It’s beginning to lighten and as I make my way back home I see the intricate patterns and delicate crystals in the snow mounds, not formed by glaciers but by the erosion from fumes. There is a gradient of color from almost black to a light taupe. There are amazing textural patterns in the street. The air is so hard and cold, it’s like a presence there beside me. I breathe it in and the coldness feels clean, flushing out my head and body.

How beautiful and stark it all is.

(inspired in part by this winter walk)

making a quilt

I’ve been wanting to try making a quilt for awhile.  I made one once, a long long time ago, without really knowing what I was doing.  This time I’d like to be really careful and make it in a way that will last like traditional quilts do.  I think I’ve finally decided on a design -a zig zag.  The pattern looks difficult but when you break it down into individual blocks it’s pretty simple.  There is only one block and you just rotate it.

I’m going to use this tutorial for a zig zag quilt over at the purl bee, but I will change the size of the blocks to be a little smaller and have the zig zag occur every row.  I will also be relying on my many quilting friends for moral support:)

I’m thinking about dyeing my own fabric too.  I like the more mottled, subtle colors you get from hand dyed fabric.

These quilts by Kim Eichler Messmer are the most beautiful quilts I’ve ever seen and they are made with hand dyed fabric.

I wanted to show you

I love small books and murky dark colors.  And of course polaroids.  I purchased this little book a while back and fell in love with not only the images inside, but the book itself.  It’s such a simple format -the small, square shape, nice textured paper and simple pamphlet binding.  I am currently teaching a portfolio design class at the U of M and plan to show this to my students.

Along with the book, Tara sent me this original polaroid of tall trees, showing mostly their trunks.  I love the proportion of dense stands of trees with really tall trunks.

You can purchase your own copy of the book here.

october 1st

I’m feeling especially happy these days -must be the approach of winter, my favorite time of year:)  And I’ve found a good working groove for the moment, which always puts me in a good mood.

My new motto is: be yourself.

A few random things to look at over the weekend:

  • I can’t seem to stop thinking about boots.  I would like to find a less expensive version of these short black boots and these tall caramel colored ones.
  • I would also like this bronze hexagon necklace designed by Lauren Haupt.
  • I’m excited to listen to amiina’s new album “puzzle”. You can get a free MP3 of the song “over and over” from the album here.
  • Ilse Acke’s weaving is making my heart race.  The colors and patterns!
  • I am having the students in my architecture studio read “The Importance of the Material” by Andrea Deplazes right now.  It’s an excellent reminder of how material and the methods of constructing with that material are intertwined.
  • And speaking of my students -we are going on a field trip today to Collegeville, Minnesota, to see some of the architect Marcel Breuer’s concrete work.  Always extremely inspiring.

Also-I opened my scarfshop this week which was extremely exciting for me since it’s been in the works for months.  I’m thinking of writing a little post about all the steps and planning that went in to making it happen.

Have a fantastic weekend.

slowing down

This weekend we went camping with some friends just north of Stillwater, MN along the St. Croix River.  I got home from teaching about 7pm on Friday evening, we loaded up the car and headed out very early Saturday morning.  My head was still full of projects at home and the assignment my students were working on.  I had some readings I needed to review for class.  I felt agitated to be leaving my work.  The camping spot is just an hour away from home so there was no period of adjustment.  We were in the city and then we were in the woods.  Luckily it feels very remote.

There is something very calming about camping.  It is so controlled.  You bring the minimal amount of things you will need: one fork, one plate, one cup, one pot.  You set everything out in it’s place.  You build a fire to cook on, you cook your meal, you eat it, you clean up.  And all of this becomes the major activity of the moment, not something that needs to be done before you can go on to the major activity.

Saturday evening I was washing the dishes and I had one of those moments where you are very aware of what you are doing.  I had to heat the water, mix it with some cold in a tiny basin and then wash each dish individually, rinse it with a spray of water from my water bottle and set it on a towel before starting the next dish.  It was slow and methodical and I realized I didn’t feel annoyed by this.  I wasn’t thinking about anything except the beautiful evening light on the water in the basin and how the colored spoons looked as I wiped them.


handknit (wool, alpaca, acrylic, cotton) fawn + rust hat from UN f/w 2010 piece collection

piece -one of the parts that, when assembled, form a whole.

Where a collection begins for me is always different.  There might be a color palette, photograph, or piece of fabric that sparks an idea and then the collection builds from there.  At a certain point there is a more defined idea, sometimes with a title, that helps me continue developing the overall body of work.  This fall I had been planning on scaling down the number of items that I normally produce for a collection because I wanted to focus on getting a season ahead -working on a more developed collection for next year so that I could align myself better for the wholesale market.

I had a few ideas of pieces I wanted to make, but not an overall concept.  I kept thinking about these individual pieces, and leftover materials I had, and the idea of “using up” and zero waste.  I tried to look at what I had and let it dictate what I would make.  And also, most importantly, I pushed the process of just making and responding to what I made and moving forward from there.  I decided to have faith that everything would come together to form a “collection”.  So that is how I’ve been working.  And I’m excited about these “pieces” and this way of working.

I hope to show you rest of the collection soon.

loop vest from UN f/w 2010 piece collection

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