Many moons ago (January 2008), I traveled with Olga Buraya-Kefelian and Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Company to the West coast trade show of the National Needlearts Association. Karida was there to expand the customers for her yarn line and Olga was networking and starting to show off her new amazing designs. Before we left for the show, Karida and Olga had devised a plan to have some new patterns in Karida’s yarn to show off at the booth. Olga was working on a sweater in Loft and a single ply silk yarn that NFC no longer makes. I was asked to knit the sample…well…the process was eye opening. I had never knitted a sample garment for a designer before, and even if I had, I doubt that this process would have been similar to anything done with another designer. Olga would give me instructions and I would knit. (and by instructions, I mean diagrams and scribbled notes on paper) Then I would send her photos of what it looked like and she would give me more. I took the sweater to a private lesson and accidentally left the notes and had to drive back a few days later because Olga and I were both frantic about how the pattern would ever be written. Being inside of Olga’s designer brain for a few weeks was a tad frightening. I can easily say that she works with no templates. Each of her designs are completely unique and unlike anything else she has done. She almost works more like a seamstress would.
So to make a long story short, I knitted this thing all night during our flight to the west coast and in the end, I was the only sample knitter who completed the assigned project. (I will also note that Karida missed the flight and flirted with a male airline ticket agent and was put on a direct flight to Long Beach and beat us there, despite having slept in and gotten to the airport as we were on the runway. Let’s not mention how angry this made Olga and I). Anyways…I wore the sweater around the show floor to rave reviews. Folks were really excited about it. Than a year later, something similar showed up in a Rowan booklet. Another design with detachable sleeves showed up on Knitty. And then this season, this showed up from Chanel! Olga did finally publish the pattern a few months ago and the sweater was returned to me, which is totally awesome. I love the thing. I had missed it. The pattern is called the Murasaki Pullover. It is worked from the bottom up. It has detachable sleeves that could we worked, put on a holder and then attached to the body of the sweater, if desired. It is made with NFC Loft and a dk/light worsted weight silk. You could use Malabrigo Silky Merino or Louisa Harding Mulberry … I imagine Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk would also work nicely. It is basically all stockinette stitch with a few decreases for the yoke. But alternating the lace weight mohair with the DK weight silk creates really gorgeous stripes, even when the same colorway is used for both yarns.
So here is the finished garment, in all its glory.
As we know, I do start an awful lot of Olga’s patterns…now I don’t necessarily finish a lot of them. I am a classic “take it easy” knitter. I enjoy projects that are easy to memorize and work without a pattern and require very little attention. I am happiest with a giant stockinette stitch pullover worked bottom up in the round. So Olga and I don’t necessarily mix well. Nothing she designs is straightforward. However, I continue to start her designs. My latest: Hari. I fell into the last delivery of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light and couldn’t resist a hank of the Duchess colorway. It is almost black, with an interesting undertone of red / burgundy. I set out to find a cool cowl to show off the yarn’s single ply properties and amazing color. I was set on having something point.I don’t know why, but this yarn wants to be pointy. And of course, I found this pattern from Olga.
It is essentially knitted like a scarf, with small clips attached to the points. These allow you to clip it up and wear it as a cowl. Or to clip it up and wear it as a shrug! I have purchased the pattern and read it completely through. From what I can tell, this is actually very straightforward and a tv knitting project. This will probably surprise most of you…but I really think it is. And the little points in the fabric are so cool! I have to find time to knock this out. I am hoping to get it started this week. We do also have the new hardcover copy of Olga’s first book: Ori Ami Knits. I have finished one top from the book and am almost done with the Puzzle Vest. The book is gorgeous. The photography is amazing and it is filled with classic Olga – all unique, one of a kind pieces that are truly works of art.