Posts Tagged ‘Alishan’

If you’re one of my more regular blog readers, you’ve probably already seen my various posts about my designs and the process of designing for Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects For Warm Weather by Kristi Porter, knitting designer, teacher, tech editor and an all-around talent.  I still promise to reveal more details about my experiences later, but today in this blog tour stop, I want to talk about the other wonderful things in this book…

What’s that saying that we hear all the time? “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Well, judge, judge away! You definitely should judge this book by its cover.  You will not be disappointed. The content and photos inside the book are just as inspiring and beautiful as the cover photo, which is modeled by one of Kristi’s daughters. Knitting in the Sun is well-organized and the many layering pieces are not just for warm weather, they are also appropriate and suitable as transitional pieces for any climate and season.

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

The book is organized into six chapters: Accessories, Sleeveless, Short Sleeves, Long Sleeves, Cardigans and Odds & Ends.  Many of the patterns have a simple, classic and relaxed style, with enough details to make them  interesting and unique, but not too much to make them overly fussy.  The photography is excellent and fresh, and the models look very natural and do not contort in weird poses. Furthermore, I love that the models are more like everyday women.  In fact, this past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing some of the models in person when I went to Kristi’s book party in La Jolla.  They were healthy-looking real people, unlike the rail-thin models typical of the fashion industry.

As if the patterns and photos are not drool-worthy enough, there’s also a bonus! What, you ask? You can print charts from the patterns in the book from the publisher’s website.  How convenient and sublime is that!? You won’t have to worry about dragging your book to your copy center, messing up the binding of your book, and you avoid getting any wonky or distorted copies (which always happen to me, especially near the spine).

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

As I stated when Marnie MacLean, who designed Aviara, interviewed me, I’m trying to practice some good self-discipline and finish up my long list of knitting to-dos, but there are several patterns that are calling my name. It’s especially true now that I’ve seen them all in person.  Seriously, no matter how gorgeously photographed they are, photos still don’t do the garments the same justice as being able to see and touch them in person.  Namely, the 3 that I like most are, in no particular order,  Cinnamon Bay by Carol Feller, Coronado by Kristi, and Anacapa by Kendra Nitta.

Cinnamon Bay is a clever take on a pinwheel blanket.  It features a simple fan and feather lace edging and a drawstring that allows you to convert the blanket into a bag.  I think that Cinnamon Bay would make a nice gift for expecting parents, and I have a good friend that I think would totally appreciate it as a gift.

Coronado just screams comfy to me.  I think that the best feature of this wrap-style cardigan is its giant shawl collar.  The eyelet rib creates slimming vertical lines, and I think it would be a superb cardigan to wrap myself in without me looking preggars, especially since I am, ahem, rather buxom on top.  I have some Mission Falls and Karaoke in my stash that might work for Coronado, but it would look luscious in some Noblesse that I’ve been coveting, wouldn’t it?

As if the cover photo was not inspirational enough, I cannot express how much more beautiful and interesting Anacapa is in person. Lately, I’ve been having a love affair with textures and cables, and I may just have to engage in a tryst with Anacapa.

Maybe I could squeeze in an extra project afterall…

Next up on the Knitting in the Sun blog tour is Amy O’Neill Houck.  Please visit her blog in the next few days to see what she has in store for you.

left: With Kristi at her book party at her LYS, Knitting in La Jolla on 5/16/09; right: posing next to Yehliu at the book party.  (I would’ve taken more photos, but I was too distracted and having too much fun meeting new people. 🙂 )


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Alishan bookIn my last post, I mentioned that I simply called this garment  “Summer Nights Hoodie” as a working title.  Thanks to Kristi and the publisher, I was able to give this garment a beautiful, meaningful and very personal name: Alishan

Shortly after I submitted my garments, Kristi sent contributing designers an email asking us to submit names of sunny places that we might want to name our pieces.  The list of names that I submitted for both garments of were of places that I have lived or have traveled to with fond memories. Being ethnically Taiwanese, most of the names I submitted were from my ancestral home.

I named Alishan after a mountain range in Taiwan, and also the name of a very famous Taiwanese folk song 高 山 青 (阿 里 山 的 姑 娘) about the beautiful mountain, the water, the people and an aboriginal maiden.   Here is a version sung by a very famous and legendary Taiwanese singer (Teresa Teng) in a live performance in Japan, and a video of a folk dance performance to the song.

image from taiwandna.com

image from taiwandna.com of someone from the Tsou tribe

You may be surprised, especially here in the West, to learn that like the Native Americans of North America, and the aborigines in Australia, Taiwan was also populated with many different aboriginal groups, though their numbers are certainly dwindling.  More information about the history of some of these peoples can be found in Taiwan’s digital museum about the Taiwanese Aboriginies.  I don’t want to get too much into politics, but I feel it’s important to at least mention that also like some of the civil rights movements in the US and in Australia, there has been more call for the civil rights and recognition of the aboriginies and the preservation of their cultures in Taiwan — and rightfully so. I think modern society really needs to preserve the indigenous cultures and environment of the lands we inhabit. ::of soapbox now::

The Alishan mountain range is definitely on the must-see list for visitors to Taiwan.  It was named after the chief of the Tsou tribe,  in remembrance of his contribution to his people.  The common name of the folk song, literally translated, is “Girls (or Maidens) of Alishan” and is a song that most Taiwanese know. Despite not remembering much of the lyrics, the catchy tune and the main line of the chorus is one that I have never forgotten since it was taught to me as a child.  But then again, I am really bad at recalling song lyrics in any language.

A wedding couple drinking from a cermonial tribal cup. I bought one of these hand-carved cups from a Cultural Store in Beitou, north of Taipei. It is amazing how many of their ceremonial and daily items, including clothing resemble many other indigenous cultures around the world.  The ceremonial cups I have remind me of some African ones that I have seen.

A Rukai wedding couple drinking from a cermonial cup. I bought one of these hand-carved cups from a Cultural Store in Beitou, north of Taipei. It is amazing how many of the aboriginal ceremonial objects, clothing and other items resemble many other indigenous cultures around the world. The ceremonial cups I have and the images carved on them remind me of some African ones that I have seen. Image from http://www.dmtip.gov.tw

When I explained the meaning behind the garment’s name,  a friend asked me if I had an aboriginal heritage.  The truth is that I don’t know, and neither does my dad.  What we do know is that our family has been in Taiwan since the Ming dynasty (1600’s) and that our first ancestors were Han people and came from the Fujian province of China, which is literally next door to Taiwan.

Most east Asians track family lineage patrilineally, and our family does have some sort of family “book” with the names of our branch of the ancestral tree.  Unfortunately, being a patrilineal society, the maternal lineages and relations were not recorded, even if there were ever female names documented.

When I asked my dad about any possible aboriginal heritage years ago, he said that he would not have been surprised if some of our long-ago female ancestors might have had some aboriginal heritage.  Since, over the centuries of history, the early settlers from the Ming dynasty and the aboriginal Taiwanese did trade,  intermingle, intermarry, and even fought some resistance movements and wars both against one another and together.  According to my dad, our ancient ancestors were farmers and likely lived closely to and traded with aboriginies.

Paiwan man with hand tattoos. Image from www.dmtip.gov.tw

Paiwan man with hand tattoos. Image from http://www.dmtip.gov.tw

There is also another bit of history that is interesting to me.  In the Ming dynasty, there were lots of Chinese pirates.  One of the pirates, second in command to a head honcho pirate (according to a English-Chinese history book I bought in Taiwan several years ago), was surnamed Kuo, the romanization and his Chinese character last name is the same as mine. (The pirate Kuo in my book is a different a pirate from Koxinga, who has a different surname, but is also romanized as Kuo.) I really don’t know how accurate that book is and Kuo is not the most common last name, but it is in the top 50 of the list of 100 surnames, so there certainly are lots of Kuos with a different ancestral line than my family’s.  However, despite the fact that there is no way to find out for sure and the chances are probably unlikely,  a part of me kind of wants to claim that one of our first ancestors was the pirate Kuo.  It may explain my sister’s affinity for skulls, and why I keep designing things with skulls for her.


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I was intrigued when I saw the call for submissions for Knitting in the Sun in mid-2008, so I went to work and worked up 3 design submissions. I was very lucky and excited when 2 of the 3 submissions were selected for the book.

Originally, the working title for Alishan was “Summer Nights Hoodie” (name explanation in this post).  I got the inspiration for the design after a trip to the fabric store, where I was fondling some laser-cut velvets and silky sheers.  I wanted an airy look, while I thought the garment would look cool with an illusion-ish center panel that kind of looked like a tank.


alishan swatch

The swatch that I submitted was worked in a fingering weight alpaca yarn from my stash.  In the end, Kristi and I settled on Kidlin Lace by Louet.   Although I am mildly allergic to mohair, I didn’t think the small mohair content on this project would be a problem, since I had worked with mohair in the the past.  Little did I know of the horrid 6+ months of torture that I was about to endure thanks to my wonderful immune system.

I’ve always had allergies, but I never had them as badly as I did in the Summer and Fall of 2008, where it was grossly debilitating, even on tons of allergy drugs.  I was not able to sleep or function — my head and chest were so clogged that I wanted to rip them out, and my eyes were so swollen and red that I dared not go into public until absolutely necessary, or when I thought I’d pull out my hair with cabin fever.  If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ll probably recall the gross pictures and posts about my swollen and bleeding eyes.

The horrid allergy attacks made knitting Alishan almost impossible.  My head and nose were so stuffed up that I couldn’t think, and even if I could manage any knitting, mohair or not, I could not see since my eyes were so swollen and running like a waterfall.  Luckily, Kristi gave me an extension on my deadline and I managed to send it in by the extension date.  Now that I have more designing experience and have found some good sample knitters in the last few months, I think in the future, I will play it safe and have sample knitters work any garment that requires mohair.  (The positive update on the allergies is that I am currently awaiting a medical lab to concoct a custom formula for me to be able to receive allergy injections. )

Alishan book

image (c) copyright by Wiley Publishing, Inc.

While working up Alishan, I had to deviate from the original sketch  a little bit (especially around the neckline) in order to fit it to the wider neckline that I wanted to achieve.  After I finished with it, even though I was happy about it,  I really put it out of my mind, especially since it unfortunately reminded me of my allergy hell.  Then to my utter surprise, in the promotional materials for the book, Kristi is shown wearing my garment.

I don’t have the garments for the book in my possession, but the agreement is that after 1 year of the publication date, the garments will be returned to the designers.

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The book was released yesterday!  I gave y’all a sneak peak of my designs that are in the book a few months ago, when I couldn’t contain my glee at seeing postcards promoting the book with Kristi Porter wearing my garment, and when I saw my lace & cables cardigan at the Lorna’s Laces booth at the neeedlearts trade show.

The book has recevied really good reviews so far, and all of the contributing designers are quite talented, including several “known” designer names that you may recognize, such as Dawn Leeseman, Stefanie Japel, Marnie MacLean,  and me of course (::wink, wink::), just to name a few.

Alishan book2Btw, there will be a blog tour about the book later, of which I’ve volunteered to be a part.  🙂

If you look at the table of contents for the book, you will notice that the garment names have something in common.  We were asked to suggest names of some sunny places for the garments.  The names I came up with mostly were of places that held memories for me, whether I lived or traveled there. I didn’t know whether Kristi really cared or wanted a description of the places and/or why I selected them, but I did give her a verbose list.

Yehliu book2I’ve already posted both patterns and projects onto Ravelry.  Also, for those interested in the design to book process, over the next couple of weeks, I will post and document information about my experience, design process and working up Alishan and Yehliu.

1st Left: Alishan; 2nd Left: Yehliu. All images in this post are copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

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My sister came down from San Francisco to visit me this past weekend in part so that I can hold some of her personal items while she spends the next few years at a special nursing program at Yale (and also to visit her “friend” in San Diego) .

In preparation for her visit, I finished a hat for her using the yarn that I painted at Denise’s at the dye party.  The hat only took me a short 2 hours or less, and I made it as she described: “chunky, squareish but kind of pointy at the ends like kitty ears.”

We spent a morning at a local Arboretum, where she posed with her “new favorite hat.”  Aww, I feel all warm and fuzzy!  I’m also working on a vest for her with the rest of the yarn, but it’s on hiatus for the time being, as I prepare five(!) soon-to-be-revealed designs to be sent off for tech editing.

The designs will be displayed at the TNNA trade show in Columbus in June.  The date is fast approaching, but I am still undecided whether I will be going. By all reasoning, I should go, especially since my garments will be showing at a couple of yarn booths, but the trip will be a rather expensive investment.

Speaking of designs, two of my designs, Alishan and Yehliu, are in the new book by Kristi Porter, Knitting in the Sun, which will be released on Monday, May 11! How exiciting is that!!  I will post more details about each designs and their process after the official release date next week.

Project: Bulky Kitty-Eared Hat (working title)

Pattern Source: Designed by Anne K. Lukito. It is of my design, based on an idea that my sister described. It”s not available as of yet. I will write it up eventually, and right now, I am leaning towards posting it as a freebie.

Yarn: Bulky Weight yarn that I hand-painted (70% Merino Wool, 20% Alpaca, 10% Silk); I used about 55 yards.

Needles: US #13

Notes: It was a really quick and easy knit. I worked it in the round in one piece.  The “ears” were not an extra attachment or piece that was sewn on.

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First, I must apologize for the delayed posting.  The infected spider bite threw me off — I am so glad that I went to the clinic when I did, because the damn thing was still spreading after taking the antibiotics for 1-2 days. Although the main swelling had gone down, the redness and the perimeter of the infection grew almost to my ankle.  eek! I am fine now.  Thanks to everyone’s emails.

The final chapter of my TNNA adventures…

SUNDAY, January 18, 2009
The first event I participated in this morning was a wonderful sweater sizing and design class with Ms. Glampyre Knits, Stefanie Japel.  Stefanie was well-organized, very approachable, and a great teacher. The one downside was that her class was a short 2 hours, when the spectrum of material she was covering could easily span 4-6 hours.

After the class, my friends, aka the Handicraft Café “entourage,” and I walked the market floors and stood in line for Stefanie to autograph her first book, Fitted Knits, and her new book, Glam Knits. I absolutely love the photography and stylings in Glam Knits.

(click for larger image)

Aside from shopping for the shop, three of my must-see stops were the booths of Stitch Cooperative, Frog Tree Yarns and Southwest Trading Company.

Stitch Cooperative

I had to stop by this booth for 2 reasons: (1) we needed to get more info for our shop and (2) I was there to pick up postcards for Knitting in the Sun and to meet Kristi Porter, author of the book personally.  I have 2 designs titled “Yehliu” and “Alishan” that will be included in the book.

Postcards front and back.  The red top that Kristi is wearing is my Alishan pattern!

Postcards front and back. The red top that Kristi is wearing is my "Alishan" pattern!

Check out Kristi’s fabulous sweater (wink, wink) in the postcard! It’s mine! It was really hard to contain my giddy squeeeee in the middle of the market floor after finding out that Kristi was wearing my garment in the promo photos (and it would have been embarrassing because there were other people nearby, including other well-known designers in the Stitch Cooperative booth, and vendors).

It was a good thing that knitting Alishan didn’t kill me.  Alishan was knit with KidLin by Louet, which is a fantastic yarn, but not so fantastic when your allergies decide to go haywire, as mine had when I was trying to get the project out.  Fortunately for me, Kristi was very kind and understanding.  🙂

What was equally exhilarating was to find out that my other garment, Yehliu, was hanging in the Lorna’s Laces booth:

Beth Casey must have thought that I was a huge dork when I bounced into the booth and asked if I could take a picture with my garment.

If I remember correctly, I think I was kind of like a Mexican jumping bean when I asked.  Too bad the lighting at the trade show was crappy because it does not show off the beautiful color and sheen of the garment.  The yarn used was the super luscious Lion and Lamb.

Right now, the shop is not carrying Lorna’s Laces yet, but we hope to be able to add that to our shop very soon.  (stupid economy has delayed our plans to have the physical shop a little more. )

Frog Tree Yarns

Our second must-visit stop was the fabulous not-for-profit and fair trade company of Frog Tree Yarns.  Their yarns are selling very well for Handicraft Café, so we had to do lots of restocking of the Alpaca Sport. My other motive for stopping by was to talk to Frog Tree about doing some design work for them.  They liked my stuff and presentation enough that they wanted me to formally submit something, which to date, I have done, and things are looking pretty well.

Southwest Trading Company

We then stopped by the SWTC to do some shopping, where we purchased more yarns, including the new

Aubrey and me with Joe Raffino of SWTC.

Aubrey and me with Joe Raffino of SWTC.

Therapi line made with Jade! (All the yarns are still trickling in and we haven’t listed all the ones that have arrived, but you can usually get updates on our blog and on our Ravelry group.)

Again, I had another motive for visiting SWTC, because I was pitching some design ideas to Jonelle Raffino, president of SWTC, and author of a new sock knitting book.  Within about 2 weeks after TNNA and my conversations with Jonelle, I formally submitted several design ideas to her, and like with Frog Tree, things are looking very well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and will reveal more information fairly soon.

I also owe Jonelle a big thank you, because a hour or two after talking to her, she called me back to her booth to tell me that she had just personally recommended me to the editor of a magazine that was looking for a jacket pattern for their November issue.  I submitted a couple of sketches to the editor, and because it was last minute (literally – no joke), I didn’t even get a chance to do swatches.  Luckily, the editor liked what she saw and we’ve hammered out a deal for the magazine.  I really don’t want to say more at this point since we don’t have a formally signed contract yet, but I’m sure I will reveal more when I am able.

Last but Not Least…

As we walked through the Interweave booth, my good friend Kristie, who does some sample and test knitting for some known designers and me, spotted “Rick,” the sample she knitted for Cookie A.’s (blog) upcoming sock book. I can’t be more happy for Kristie! We also were able to flip through a  galley copy of Cookie’s book, and it looks like it will be a sure-fire winner. The layout, photos, style and text are all very pleasing to the eye, seemingly easy to use and 100% drool-worthy, even for non-sock knitters.

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