Open Waters Cowl KAL December 15, 2016 10:48
Who’s ready for a new KAL? I know I am!
After receiving the latest issue of Making, I have not been able to get the Open Waters Cowl by Melanie Berg off my mind…such a unique and organic shape, it’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen or knit before.
Just yesterday, Mary, one of our most stylish knitting customers, came in and asked what our next KAL was & when it started. I admitted I didn’t have anything lined up but had been thinking about the Open Waters Cowl. After showing her the pattern, she said, “Let’s do it! I’m in.”
So...here's what you'll need to join us:
- Issue of Making No. 2 FAUNA
- 430 yards of Aran weight yarn
- (2) size 24” US size 7 circ. needles (or size to obtain gauge of 5.75 stitches per inch in pattern)
- crochet hook & waste yarn for cast on
- tapestry needle
The Open Water Cowl KAL begins today and will run through the end of January. You can join us over on the Harmony Society Discussion Board on Ravelry. This is a great place to get help if you have any questions, plus it's always fun to share your progress & see how everyone else is doing.
We are now open on Sundays from 11:00am - 5:00pm and open until 7:00pm Tuesday - Saturday, so please feel free to come and knit any time. Knit-a-longs are meant to be fun and are a great way of bringing our local knitting community together through a single project. If you have any questions or need help getting started with the Open Waters Cowl, just pop by the shop and we’ll be glad to help you get started.
Happy Knitting! xoxo
Knitting Lessons: What I’ve Learned This Year December 01, 2016 08:00 1 Comment
(Hand knit Lena Shawl knit using worsted weight Cormo from Piney Mountain Farm)
There are countless lessons to be learned in life, and most of the time they come from unexpected places. September 2nd marked my one year knit-iversary and these are the most meaningful things that knitting, and being a knitter, have taught me.
I love making. There has always been some type of ‘crafty’ hobby on my radar. As a fine arts major in college I took to ceramics. A few years ago I was making beaded jewelry, I crocheted and macramed in my teens and 20’s. With every craft there was a limit. A point where the end result wasn’t enough to keep me making more. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it. Knitting has changed that and I don’t want to stop. The rush of casting on a new project is almost like a drug. It’s exciting! I can’t wait to see how it all comes together and ultimately wear my art, or deliver a beautiful, useful finished project to someone. The rush is probably why I’m a chronic multi-project knitter. I currently have six projects on their respective needles. Who says I can knit all the things, just not all at once? Oh yes I can, and I do!
I (happily) give a lot of my money to my local yarn store but I get so much more than yarn and notions in return. Weekly craft circle has allowed me to develop new kinships with local crafters, some of whom there is no doubt will be lifelong friends. I have a real sense of community and connection with the women (and men!) there. If I need help they give it wholeheartedly, and now that I am able to help some of the newer knitters I enjoy giving back in the same way. So many local crafters are also raising sheep, milling their fiber, spinning and dying their own yarns. I didn’t have the faintest idea how large this community is and I cherish being a part of it. I’m blessed to have been welcomed into this tribe of local fiber folk.
One evening not too long ago as I was knitting in my comfy chair the power went out. I waited a minute and upon realizing that it wasn’t just a momentary lapse began to panic. How was I going to knit?! I began a path through the house to gather candles for basic sight when I was struck by the recollection that once upon a time there was no electricity and women were still able to knit. While an old fashioned lantern would have provided better light, I strategically placed a few of my jar candles so that my work was illuminated enough to manage. As I worked I felt a deep connection to the past, to roots I don’t think I had even contemplated before that moment. I felt as though my ancestors, the collective women of the past were giving me a transcendent hug. Now, as I knit I continually feel that kinship, and I love it.
The math of purchasing has changed greatly for me. I look at that pair of boots I’ve thought about for years and equate it to yarn. $150 boots = $150 yarn = a new self-made sweater. Everything now is equated to yarn. That book I want? It’s a skein of yarn. That tote that looks so perfect could be four skeins of yarn. Yep. The math of currency has changed. I no longer think in terms of dollars and cents, I think of value in skeins and notions.
My Mom has been fighting and winning her battle with pancreatic cancer for over a year now. I learned to knit just as this journey was beginning in our lives, and I’m so grateful for the timing. Her battle has come with days spent in hospitals getting chemotherapy, or recovering from surgery. Knitting has brought a type of peaceful meditation to these moments for me. While she slept I would knit. It may be the very thing that kept me from falling apart and losing my shit in the midst of all the unknowns. It was and is my sanity. There is something extremely meditative about the repetition of knits and purls weaving themselves into a pattern, watching a strand of yarn be transformed into a tangible, useful object. The simple becomes complex, and is an accurate reflection of life’s challenges. If you unravel all of the difficulties underneath everything is basically simple. This is changing my perspective on life even as a type it.
Like knitting, life is less complicated than we tend to think. It’s all just choices, just knits and purls. Sometimes you purl when you should have knit. And sometimes you have to rip out a few rows and start again, which seems insurmountable. But in the end, you have made something unique, something that nobody else could have made exactly as you did. Even if it is marred with imperfections, this sweater, this life, is exactly what you have knit for yourself. Love it and wear it proudly.
This piece was written by Nikki Creamer a.k.a knitside for Harmony Society
What Truly is in a Handmade Item? September 30, 2016 12:47
(Hand knit Solaris shawl knit using Madelinetosh Merino Light)
Let us know how we can serve you better! July 28, 2016 12:22
Harmony Society will be celebrating its 3 year anniversary this September! I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of our mission, especially those of you who have stuck by as we've evolved and grown into our own unique little shop. It hasn't always been easy, but as we continue to connect with our community, one thing is absolutely certain; Carlisle is a wonderful town full of many fantastic and inspiring people and it's these people that keep us going day in and out.
We love and appreciate our customers and we want to be able to serve you to the best of our abilities. In an attempt to understand your particular wants and needs, I have put together a quick 13 question survey which should give us some insight regarding how to move forward in our third year.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to click the tab below & let us know how we're doing, what you'd like to see from Harmony Society in the future, and any honest feedback that you feel will help us to serve you & our community better.
Thank you for your continued support! We couldn't do any of this without you.
Introducing the Quartown Scarf October 23, 2015 13:59
Back in September, I had the pleasure of taking a Sequence Knitting class with Cecelia Campochiaro at Loop in Philadelphia. I first heard about Sequence Knitting a few months prior when Tom of Holland interviewed Cecelia for his blog. Intrigued by the concept, described as "simple methods of creating complex fabrics," I knew this was something I would be into.
Cecelia's class opened up my eyes to a new way of knitting! As someone who is very much a process knitter and enjoys the repetitiveness of simple patterns, I felt like I had found a new way to meditate. By taking a simple pattern like (K4, P2) and repeating it every round, I was surprised to learn you could create new and unusual textures that were not only beautiful, but often reversible.
It was during this class that I came up with the design for the Quartown Scarf. I knew going into the class that I wanted to make a gift for my husband and I knew I wanted to use Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. With all its neutral tones, the Shelter color palette is absolutely stunning, and I immediately felt inspired to do some sort of a gradient project. After a bit of color play, I eventually settled on a charcoal and brown palette.
I am so happy with the way this scarf turned out. My husband loves it and I loved knitting it. It also reaffirmed that sometimes simple really is best.
Soap Talk with Jena from Lyes & Lathers May 18, 2015 11:52
HS: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
JM: Well, I've lived in the same zip code nearly all of my 28 years. Pennsylvania born and bred. I also have a 5 year old daughter and she is a seriously cool kid.
HS: When and how did you get interested in soap making?
JM: This is going to sound pretty predictable, but I have dreams of being a homesteader. Soapmaking had to be in my survival arsenal. About a year ago, I made my first batch and it was a mixed success. I'm a very technical person, so I hovered and triple-checked everything. When I was done, I found out I had forgotten to add my essential oils in the flurry of activity. It's a very easy thing to make but the craft is in getting the ingredients to do what you want. Anyone can take a specified amount of lye and oils and mix them together and it will be soap and it will clean. The art lies in the variables: changing the properties of the formula to make a shampoo bar, utilizing dyes to make an attractive result, blending scents that make sense, using different molds....the craftsperson takes all this into account.
HS: Can you tell us a little bit about the process you use to make your soaps?
JM: At it's simplest, soap is nothing more than ashes from a fire, mixed with water, and then mixed with the melted fat of (usually) an animal. As a more enlightened society, this method and ingredients available has been refined. We now enjoy commercially made lye and a plethora of whole vegetable oils that all have different properties. The chemistry that makes it all work is not unlike baking soda and vinegar; you are taking an acid (fatty acids in oil) and a base (lye) and it (in this case) produces an alkali salt(soap) and glycerin. When you use a digital kitchen scale and follow the instructions, the lye is completely reacted and none will remain. The glycerin is what makes handmade soap better than store bought. It loves to bring and keep moisture in your skin, and it simply isn't present in store bought bars.
HS: How you come up with the different scent/ingredient combos you use in your soap?
JM: I take a lot of cues from my culinary background and from nature. I don't use artificial dyes or mica powders or even titanium dioxide to make the soap bright white. It can be challenging, as the strong alkali environment and exothermic chemical reaction wreak havoc on natural colorants. For the most part if a scent has an identifiable visual, I will probably try to mimic it (e.g. orange soap curls in a bergamot anise soap to look like citrus zest, or coloring a grapefruit soap pink with madder root). Often I will mix in spices and leaves from which the essential oil was derived (e.g. dried basil in coriander basil soap or cinnamon swirls in lemon cinnamon). If the scent is more abstract, I'll usually experiment with a new technique.
HS: Do you have any favorite ingredients you like to work with?
JM: I love any scent that is deep and moody and sometimes I have to force myself to think bright and cheerful so I don't end up with all my soaps smelling the same. I don't work with fragrance oils (even the pthalate-free ones), and sometimes that's hard for people to understand. Sometimes I get asked if I have a watermelon soap or 'white musk' or “Why doesn't this smell like ____” , and I have to explain that if it isn't an essential oil derived from a real, living plant that's naturally oily, probably not. If I use a zingy citrus, it'll probably be anchored with something like black pepper or Atlas cedar. Really clean herbal scents make their way into blends to make them stand out. I also love to work with red palm butter, as it is as gorgeous as it is beneficial.
HS: What have been some of your best sellers so far?
JM: Rosemary/cinnamon/red thyme, lemongrass/grapefruit/black pepper, and tea tree/basil have all been really popular.
HS: What direction do you see Lyes and Lathers heading? Do you plan to grow and add any additional items to your product line?
JM: I see my business starting to branch out to larger cities in PA. I'm going to Philadelphia in early June to hopefully connect with like-minded people. I know a lot of people in Pittsburgh, and Baltimore is a really neat place. Working preservative-free presents some challenges; you can usually buy fresh-made scrubs, butters and shampoo at any event I attend. I provide products with a longer shelf life to my stockists, but I'm hoping to change that if/when the demand picks up.
HS: Any advice for folks who want to get started making their own soap?
JM: Don’t be afraid of working with lye! Yes, it is a corrosive chemical but if you use common sense and work with minimal distractions, it's easy. Just think “Hey, I probably don't want lye-water on me, what steps do I take to keep it that way?” and you're good. You have enough time to make it to the sink to wash it off your skin. Plus a cheap bottle of white vinegar on hand never hurt. I would love to see more soap makers in the areas, as the craft is good for the skin, mind, and environment.
HS: When you're not making soap, what other interests do you pursue?
JM: I also love to cook, garden, and read to learn. I love to learn.
HS: Any words of wisdom or a motto that you live by?
JM: Try to do a little bit each day so you're not staring down a huge project you've been putting off for a while.
Lyes & Lathers soaps and lip balms are now available in our shop and online.
Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival May 05, 2015 13:51 1 Comment
This Sunday I attended the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival with some of my knitting friends. It was the perfect excuse to get out of town for the day and the weather couldn't have been better. We ate lots of delicious food while browsing booth upon booth of beautiful yarns and notions, taking a break about halfway through to sit and watch a sheep shearing demonstration.
I was mostly interested in finding locally grown wool and new yarns for the shop. It seems my tastes have shifted a lot over the years and the woman who was once obsessed with multi-colored hand dyes was now on the hunt for woolen spun neutrals. Compared to the past, I'd say this years haul was pretty conservative but the items I brought home, I knew I couldn't live without.
Shortly after we arrived, we wondering into the booth of the LLSBA (Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association) I was immediately drawn to a silver heathered 2-ply yarn from Underhill Farm in Hollidaysburg, PA. The yarn was a blend of mohair and wool and listed on the label were the names of the animals who grew the fiber: Opal, Tulip, Frazier, Chrystal & Billy. I stood there for a few minutes and debated making such a big purchase so early in the day but it was just too beautiful to pass up. I bought two skeins.
Eventually I found the Bartlettyarns stand which I had been looking for since we arrived. Bartlettyarns are based in Harmony, ME and have been around since 1821. I purchased some of their sport weight yarn the previous year and was dying to get my hands on some of their Fisherman 2-ply, a woolen spun yarn that's been around since the 1800's! This yarn is spun with natural lanolin oils which makes it softer and weather resistant. It was so hard to only choose a few colors, but in the end I decided on three different shades of brown which will probably end up becoming a top down raglan or a giant shawl.
I left the festival feeling happy with my purchases and inspired to grow our yarn department. I've been dreaming about Rhinebeck already but that isn't until October, so if you need to get your fiber fix before then, here are a few upcoming festivals that are happening nearby:
May 16 & 17 Central PA Fiber Festival, Hughesville, PA
May 16 & 17 Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival, Waynesburg PA
Sept 12 & 13 Pennsylvania Endless Mountains Fiber Festival, Harford, PA
Sept 19 & 20 Pennsylvania Fiber Arts Fest, Huntingdon, PA
A Talk with Ceramist Rachelle Lowe April 20, 2015 09:28 2 Comments
HS: So in a few sentences, tell us a little bit about Rachelle Lowe.
HS: How did you get started / interested in working with ceramics?
RL: I am fortunate to have had extremely inspiring and supportive art teachers throughout the years. We had themed lessons in ceramics throughout grade school and junior high that included building animals, vessels, and teapots in clay. In high school I discovered and embraced hand building as a tool to create sculpture. Throwing clay on the wheel was fun and challenging but my spacial intuition really favored hand building, a technique where one attaches coils or slabs of clay by scoring the clay and joining the pieces together.
HS: What influences your work? Is it political?
RL: Great question. It is definitely not political. I have many political, ethical, and environmental opinions and concerns but I choose not to express those through my art. I want to engage and inspire the viewer through the color, form, and mystique of my work. I enjoy creating from a space of intuition, where I build my forms from the bottom up, never over thinking the process. Some artists like to plan everything out with sketches and specs but I prefer to start with a base of clay and feel out the form with my eyes and hands. As I add clay, the piece tells me how it wants to look. It is a very intimate dialogue between the medium and the artist. My work is both serious and funny, however not particularly in the same piece of art. This is a reflection of my personality- at times I am as serious as a poem and other times I really embrace the humor in life.
HS: Outside of making your doll heads do you work in other mediums? Do you have a favorite medium for getting your message out?
HS: Do you have any advice for people who think they’d like to try their hand at working with clay?
HS: Any last words of wisdom, a motto you live by?
Jay McCarroll: Life at Hand Beading March 22, 2015 05:00 2 Comments
HS: For readers who may not know you or your work, tell us a little bit about who Jay McCarroll is?
JM: Who am I? This is a question I ask myself every day upon awaking in my luxurious bed. Period. Joke. Period.
I dunno. I’m a maker. I’m just someone who thinks of things and has ideas and makes things. (laughs) But my history is that I was born in 1974 in Lehman, PA, the youngest of six children, to William and Nancy McCarroll. I had a very good childhood and I was highly encouraged to draw and be creative. I was always celebrated for that amongst my family. I could draw anything just from looking at it and I received a lot of praise for that, so I just continued doing it, because obviously in life, you continue doing what you get praised for.
In high school I was in the marching band which I loved. I was a band geek. And then I went off to Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, which is now Philadelphia University, where I’m currently a professor. I studied abroad at the London College of Fashion and I lived in London. I won a television show called Project Runway ten years ago and I’ve had many adventures in my life because of this. Very high profile at times, very, very humbling at times, but that’s life...high and low.
HS: So what have you been working on lately?
Well, I teach now. I’m currently working on re-tooling aesthetically what I want to be putting out there, but part of that is, and why we’re talking about this right now, is the necklaces I hand bead. They’re typically a winter project because when you’re holed up in the house in the great Northeast you need projects so you don’t go insane, so I make these hand beaded necklaces that I guess are mandalas? I’ve always been obsessed with things that are circular. I just think there’s something really nice about a continuous line that doesn’t hit a corner or an angle.
I just sit for hours and hours and weeks and days just hand beading until literally, my hands bleed.
HS: When did you start creating these beaded mandala necklaces and what was the inspiration behind them?
I think I bought a bag of variegated beads many many years ago and just started playing with them. That’s really it. There’s no reference for them. I’ve done no research on African beading or South American beading, I just started to make them. I love all that stuff but I’m not particularly drawn to looking up beading or making jewelry or anything like that, it’s just sort of a little lobby of mine that luckily turns out beautifully.
HS: What kind of materials do you work with? Has your process changed over time?
I like to work with these beads that are flat and have a hole in the middle and also seed beads. In the beginning I was just kind of cramming them together tightly and not really paying much attention to shape. As I’ve evolved, I’m very much drawn to things that are of a circular shape and a flatter shape. I make this kind of spider webby looking thing within each bead that’s like spokes of a wheel that stick out, so to have a center hole in the bead works best for that.
I love turquoise and wood, anything that has more of a natural feel. I’m not using any plastic beads. Typically I like to use glass beads, seed beads, turquoise, coconut, nut, wood. Sometimes I use a metal washers.
HS: Do you see this idea evolving into other areas?
I started a pair of earrings. When you’re displaying things to people they always have all these ideas of everything they want, excluding the actual thing that you have. It’s a true story. “Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do earrings? You should do a cuff. You should do whatever.” Well, you should also try to look at the many necklaces that I have provided you that have painstakingly taken hours and hours and hours to create before you give me a bunch of other ideas. But that’s just me being a jerk. Ha!
No, I just think they’re various sizes of the same mandala. If there’s anything I learned in life, you gain more success with mastering the niche. I’d love a vest covered in these, but I also would need to utilize my time over the next ten years more wisely than that.
HS: I know you love color and you have a very unique way of putting color & pattern together. What is your favorite color combo right now? What colors do you find yourself being drawn to and why?
I like all sorts of colors. We’re just getting past winter so I’m still in love with all black. I do find myself wearing a lot of red even though I will say red is not one of my favorite colors.
But the color combos I’m interested in right now are mustard yellow and pepto bismal pink and a light pink. I like putting a bright color and a muted color together. And I’m always a sucker for aqua and turquoise.
HS: Any particular artists or social issues that inspire your work? Anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Social issues? It’s always just animal related. The fashion industry supports the murdering of so many animals for vanity sake and I just think it’s such a terrible thing.
I’m always inspired by the same things...quilting, old quilts, architecture, nature, Japanese things.
I don’t ever think about collaborating with anyone. I think I’m a singular character. I’m certainly inspired by people, but for my own work, I don’t think I’d want to collaborate with anybody. For other work, I’d love to dabble into every discipline of something, not full force, I’d just like to learn how to do a bunch of different things, like wood-working or ceramics or glass blowing or fiber arts or textile designing or weaving. I just think why not? You only have a certain amount of time on Earth you might as well try to do all these things while you can.
HS: When you’re not sewing, beading, etc…what do you do for fun?
Well, I design for color guard. That kind of takes up my winter months. That’s exciting. I’ve recently designed some things for a short film. I’m also the fashion ambassador at the Hamilton Mall located in Hamilton, NJ, right outside Atlantic City.
And I love pizza. And I can’t wait for spring to come so can I ride my bike all around Philadelphia.
HS: What are three things that you’re really in love with right now?
I’m loving the new St. Vincent self-titled album. I’m loving hearing the birds chirp again after this long winter, that’s been really good. Can I say something I always love? Pizza. I just love pizza so much.
HS: Okay, one last thing. Do you have a motto you live by that sort of sums up how you get through life?
Well, this is advice from my father. “Fuck it.” Like, no matter what the world is throwing at you, some things you can’t control. You just gotta say “fuck it.” Really. Things aren’t working out your way, things aren’t aligning the way you want them to, just fuck it. Because after fuck it, there’s nothing but up from there.
You can purchase Jay's necklaces in our online shop!