Encounter with “Jazzknitter” Ilisha Helfman

April 28, 2009

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Just the other day when I wandered into the knitshop on my day off, I met a colourful lady who literally made my mouth drop and almost left me stupified. She had picked out this book out of our books section called “Knitting Art, 150 innovative works from 18 contemporary artists”, flipped it open and told us that she was one of the artists featured.

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Gingko leaves by Ilisha Helfman

Needless to say that we were all impressed and honored that artist Ilisha Helfman, who calls herself “the Jazzknitter”, graced our little yarnshop with her presence! Of course I seized the opportunity and asked her if she would be available for an interview. Luckily, she agreed and invited me to her studio in the Pearl District in downtown Portland.

One more note before we go any further: I can hardly call this entry “Interview with Ilisha Helfman”. Dear reader, one cannot simply “interview” and therefore pin down a person like Ilisha Helfman. Soon enough in our conversation, I just laid down my pen and paper for it was impossible to keep up with this colorful, high energy, passionate and free spirited artist that she is…

Colorful and free spirit: the Jazzknitter


Seashell collection by Ilisha Helfman

When jazz comes to my mind I think of free jazz musicians that improvise as they go, nothing is planned, no written notes, just free flowing improvisation of music and the musician takes it were the music wants to go. There is no better way than to describe Ilisha Helfman’s knitted art than the aforementioned: nothing is planned, no pattern, merely free form knitting where the artist “follows her thread” as she calls it herself, and let the yarn be what it wants to be.


Forest collection by Ilisha Helfman

There are however, several parameters or rulesets so you will, that are applied to the way Ilisha works with variegated yarn and knitting:

  1. Collect the color in one place
  2. Let it curl if it wants to, let it be a design element
  3. Never repeat yourself
  4. Whatever comes out, use it
  5. Be open for surpise and capture the moment
  6. Watch closely when something interesting happens and recognize it

The work that comes from her hands are simply delightful and so incredibly sweet. I am a lucky person to have seen her adorable projects in person!

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Ilisha also told me that she makes sure that when knitting an art project, she always faces the right side of her work. Always knitting in garter stitch from the front side in preferably purling, she does not turn the piece but rather change hands. 

Don’t you just want to see her in action????

How about a workshop at CloseKnit, Ilisha?

Ilisha told me many many more interesting things about the way she works. I could spill the beans here but wouldn’t it be much more exciting and interesting to hear it from the artist herself? And wouldn’t it be such an adventure to try to knit the way she does?

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Peacock shawl by Ilisha Helfman

Well, I am happy to tell you that Closeknit and Ilisha are talking about organizing a workshop in which Ilisha Helfman tells you in detail how she works and in this workshop, you will try to free form knit yourself. Ilisha will teach you to be a “Jazzknitter” yourself and how to follow that thread and let it be what it wants to be. 

Are you up for this adventure? I know I am!

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Details are to follow in the near future. Keep on checking back, I will let you know when, where, what time this unique workshop with Ilisha Helfman will take place!

You think we are done? Ilisha does so much more than knitting..!

Barely recovered from all the beautiful knitted art I was exposed to, Ilisha and her husband Joe Freedman took me into the back office of their studio and simply showered me with all the art that they make. What inventive and innovative artists they both are!

Ilisha designs miniature objects for dollhouses, attends miniature shows and has a business called Hestia House. She sells her miniature creations online through Hestiahouse.com.

What better way to showcase her work than through these pictures:

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Dollhouse by Hestiahouse

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Miniature paper objects by Hestiahouse

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Miniature rugs by Hestiahouse

Is your head already spinning? Mine is… but hold on, one last thing! 

The most beautiful cards I have ever seen…

Ilisha and her husband Joe would not let me go without showering me with some delicate paper gifts. Using laser cut techique, Ilisha and Joe create these elaborate, intricate and fine paper cards/art:

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Trying to write about Ilisha Helfman and her husband Joe Freedman is very difficult for me. I mean, how in the world can one capture free spirited people that in no way can be catagorized? 


I tell you how I felt when I entered into their studio, which by the way was filled with sounds of more than a dozen singing canaries. I felt like a little kid holding a butterfly net in my hand, trying to capture two sweet butterflies that were swirling around me showing me their magical world. Of course I miserably failed capturing the butterflies called Ilisha and Joe but hopefully I have showed you in this blogpost just a tiny little bit of their magical world…

Were to find Ilisha and Joe?

Visit Joe Freedman’s and Ilisha Helfman’s website at: www.leafdisplay.com 

Visit Ilisha Helfman’s websites at: www.hestiahouse.com and www.followthethread.com

Their studio Leaf Display is located 1780 NW Marshall St. in downtown Portland, OR 97209 and you can call them at 503-719-5150.

Portrait of Ilisha Helfman:


Thank you for reading and until the next entry…

Most of the pictures in this blogpost courtesy of Ilisha Helfman and Hestiahouse.com

This is it…

April 24, 2009

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This is it, my knitting friends… this is it… what can I say? I am happy. More than happy with the result of the production of the Sally Hat Pattern. 

One skein of Suri Merino by Blue Sky Alpacas is used. It’s textured. Slightly  slouched. Just a tiny bit. Nice…

Then, also, a pattern I think I have not blogged about? I can’t remember… anyways… check it out:

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One skein of Misti Alpaca Super chunky is used…big needles… some buttons…nice and quick. 

I could go on and on about it. But I won’t. 

All I am saying is: I am happy. Satisfied. I love the way it looks.

Shout out to Patrick and Holly from McGuire Barber Design.

Shout out to my girl Kassandra Sommerville, from the Ginger Suite Salon, for hair and make up and for being my gorgeous model.

Thank you Jenni, Adrienne, Leah and SALLY! 

And last but not least, thank you, dear reader, for being my audience. Ever since I started this blog back in April 2007, you all together have visited over 67,000 times… 

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The Sally Hat pattern and the Kassandra Cowl are currently  for sale at Closeknit in Portland, Oregon and The Yarngarden in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Do you want your lys to carry my patterns? Spread the word, spread the word… and have them contact me at gettingpurlywithit@yahoo.com.

Yay yay!

And thank you, sweet MTD… you rock my world…keep on throwing down those beats and I keep on shakin’ mah boottay..!




Being without Project…

April 17, 2009


I am without project…who would’ve thought, me without project!

I searched and searched for the perfect yarn to make my Springtime Bandit, but to no avail…

I went through my stash searching for inspiration, browsed the net to find some hidden knitting pattern treasures, went through the yarnshop over and over again only to hang down my shoulders and roll my eyes: GEEZ, what is going on with me???

Spark of inspiration and excitement

You know that feeling of falling in love with a yarn, or that feeling of falling in love with a pattern and you just have to make it? I want it. I want that feeling. That spark of inspiration and excitement..!

I am still searching for it and am annoyed I haven’t found it yet. Bah…

Okay, enough of this. Let’s look at what brought a smile to my face over the past week!

What made me smile

Giving up my ball of Karabella Breeze for this cute cute lady called Sarah. She’s from Brooklyn, New York, wandered into CloseKnit and loved my Felicity Hat #1 so much that I gave in and sold her a ball of Karabella Breeze from my personal stash. 


How could I refuse? Look at her so sweet and she also is working on my Adrienne glove pattern. She finished one glove this afternoon:


Yay! Well done Sarah! Now don’t forget to send me a pic when you finish your Felicity Hat with that ball of Karabella Breeze!

Ah, this really made me smile…look at the little sheep and the little bees on this fabric I purchased at Bolt, the fabric store right next to the yarnshop. So cute…:


And what about this fabric? I see some knitting project bags in my near future. Beautiful. Just beautiful…



Ah… as for the inspiration… it will hit me. Soon I hope. I feel so weird being without project!

I guess I just have to wait it out. Just let it pass. Oi. I think I got knittersblock.

Enjoy your weekend!


Thanks for reading and until the next entry…


Weak in the knees

April 12, 2009

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Some time ago, when Rowan Magazine 42 came out, I remember flipping through it and paused when I saw the Faeroe Wrap made out of Rowan Big Wool on page 4:

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I remember raising my eyebrow and thinking: “Sure… when you are a supermodel and tall you can pull a design like that off … whoever is actually going to knit this?!?” I rolled my eyes, sighed deeply and proceeded to look at all the other designs.

And everytime I would see the Faeroe  Wrap in that magazine, my opion did not change. My word, that thing again. I bet us normal people would look ridiculous in that wrap…

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However, a costumer who walked in the yarnshop the other day, proved me terribly wrong.

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Just a few days ago, while I was explaining to a costumer why you cannot knit bulky yarn with needle size #1, I saw in the corner of my eyes a gorgeous knitwear piece walking by.

I turned my head and there it was… a beautiful black cabled coat that made me hold my breath… I immediately recognized what piece it was:

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Dear reader, this beautiful beautiful black Faeroe Wrap, worn so gracefully by its creator or should I say creatress, simply made me weak in the knees…

I am so happy that knitter Daniella agreed to pose for me so that I can show you what great work she delivered. Doesn’t she wear her Faeroe Wrap well?

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Bravo, bravo Daniella, well done… and thank you for proven me wrong! Us mortals can look absolutely grand in certain pieces!

What a week

Ah…what a stressful week it was when my husband had that awful kidney stone attack. 

Thank you so much my dear knitter friends for your encouraging and comforting words! It really lifted our spirits!

The husband is doing well, and I bet you in a few days, he will be all his usual self again. 

Thank you for reading and until the next entry!


Springtime Bandit by Kate Gagnon

April 10, 2009

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Last weekend, one of our costumers called Elizabeth (aka Isaac’s Mom), walked into the shop with a gorgeous triangular scarf. The sight of this scarf stopped me in my tracks and I could not take my eyes off of it.

Elizabeth wore it with casual elegance; a pair of jeans, black sleeveless top and over her shoulders ever so stylish was draped that gorgeous piece of handknitted beauty.

Isaac’s Mom, I mean Elizabeth, quickly informed me that she got the pattern  from Ravelry and that it was such a fast project! It is the Springtime Bandit by designer Kate Gagnon.

Gorgeous, elegant and fast..? Sounds like a project to me!

I want my Springtime Bandit…

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I want my Springtime Bandit so bad it almost hurts. Elizabeth made hers with Alpaca with a twist, and I totally agree with her choice of yarn. Alpaca gives it just that drape, soft and silky-like feel. Excellent.

Today, I have been searching for the right yarn but haven’t bumped into it yet! 

Once I see it, I will recognize it. Everything has got to be just right: fiber, color, feel, weight of yarn… it has to be just right.

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Say thanks to the designer!

This pattern is designed by Kate Gagnon who has a blog called Zeitgeistyarn.blogspot.com. On Ravelry, Kate’s username is Zeitgeistyarns, and she also has a website called Kateosbornedesign where you can download her Springtime Bandit pattern. Or just go to Ravelry and check it out over there.

She is so kind to offer her gorgeous Springtime Bandit pattern for free, so if you do download it, don’t forget to express your gratitude to her. I am sure she would appreciate it!

Also, don’t forget to check out everybody else’s Springtime Bandit on Ravelry! Click here to view it.

Thank you, Kate, for such a wonderful pattern!

And thank you Elizabeth for inspiring me. Say hi to your adorable little son Isaac!

Thank you for reading and until the next entry…

All photos in this blogpost courtesy of Elizabeth.

Madeline Tosh yarn…DELICIOUS!

April 7, 2009

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Those who have been following me on Twitter these last few days, will not be surprised that this post is all about Madeline Tosh yarn. One word for this yarncompany: DELICIOUS!

When Sally, owner of the yarnshop Closeknit, told us that some Madeline Tosh yarn was on the way, I could not have imagined that it would be this heavenly. As soon as it came in, I was lusting over it…

Sally then asked me to knit up a Felictiy Hat with some Tosh Worsted by Madeline Tosh and oh boy… I am in love!

Everything about this yarn is gorgeous: the beautiful tone on tone color just glows, the superwash yarn feels so silky and the yarn does not disappoint knitted up. I simply adore it…

My third Felicity Hat

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As I said earlier, the yarn certainly does not disappoint all knitted up. It is lovely…

For this Felicity Hat I casted on 84 stitches and followed the pattern exactly as written. When it was done, I found it a tad too small for my head but that all changed after I blocked it with some warm water and a dash of Eucalan ( no rinse woolwash).

After blocked and dried, it fits just perfectly!

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I am almost hesitant to give this one up for the shop… it so pretty!

Swatching with the leftovers

With the leftover Tosh Worsted I am knitting up a swatch. Lovely if you ask me!

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The stitchpattern I am using is called “Seafoam”. An easy pattern with lots of dropped yarn overs, quite entertaining to knit and the result I heart. Here’s a close up:

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Give Madeline Tosh yarn a try! You will not be disappointed. I promise.

For more information about Madeline Tosh yarn click on the links below!

Madeline Tosh Website

Madeline Tosh Blog

Scary moments

I have had some scary moments over the past few days… I am still a bit shook up by it. Regular readers of this blog must have noticed by now that I hardly write about my private life. But what has happened over the past few days, I just have to write about.

My dear husband called me at work last Friday telling me that he was on his way to the Emergency Room (ER) because of a kidney stone attack. He sounded “together” and I was a bit worried but not alarmed at all. The ER doctor put him on IV to hydrate him, gave him some antibiotics and all my husband had to do was just pass the stone.

Then, the next day on Saturday afternoon, when I came home from work, I found my poor husband down on his knees in the bathroom and in a state I cannot describe. 

Ten minutes later I find myself in an ER Room staring at my husband who was in such agony , his whole body twisting and writhing of mere pain. His skin tone was frighfully grey and his eyes unrecognizable murky. When we both made eye contact, while the nurse was trying to stick a needle in his arm, it took all of my strength not to break down in a million little pieces…

It was in that very moment that I more than ever realized how much I love him. How much I lean on him for he is literally my ROCK. 

Long story short: a 5 millimeter (quarter of an inch) kidney stone got stuck somewhere between his right kidney and blatter and it took laser surgery to blast that sucker into little fragment. 

I still cannot believe that such a tiny little stone could have caused so much agony and pain! 

Husband is doing well now, we are both still shook up about what happened…

Okay, how’s that for private information for ya on my knitting blog…

Thanks for reading and until the next entry!

Follow me on Twitter

April 6, 2009

I finally decided to give Twitter a try. Just like in Ravelry, my Twitter name is: “GettingPurly”.

I still haven’t figured out yet how it will benefit my blog, but hey, one can always just give it a try!

So, on Twitter, I will post daily several “tweets”, little itty bitty updates on what I am working on at the very moment. It will thus be more up to date and more frequent than my blogpost!

If you look at the right of my page, in the widget section, you will see several updates I made. So just by looking in my updates, you know what I am working on, even if I did not do a blogpost about it yet. If the updates are not showing, just click on the “Twitter updates” widget and it will direct you to my Twitter page!

Hope it makes sense, this is just an experiment. I have no idea how it will work out in the long run!

Thanks for reading and until real soon! In the meantime, check out my tweets


April 2, 2009

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Just the other night, after I posted on my blog about Wanett Clyde’s Felicity Hat, I was pouting pouting pouting because my hands hurt so bad that I could not knit.

I had my worsted weight yarn ready to go and everytime I passed by it I would lament my miserable state of non-knitting being. And the gates of doom opened… I lamented the fact I couldn’t knit, lamented the fact that the weather had been BLAH lately, lamented the fact that the yarn Karabella Breeze was absolutely not talking to me…DANG BREEZE!!!


And then, dear reader… BOOM..!

It hit me. Hit me hard. Wait a minute… Karabella Breeze… and the Felicity Hat pattern… SWEEEEEET!!!!

I looked at my hurting hands and said: “You wanna hurt me? You wanna hurt this knitter? Not tonight. I got a Felicity Hat to knit. You understand?’


Wanett Clyde’s pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, and the Karabella Breeze that I used is more of a light DK weight pattern. So modifications were necessary!

Instead of casting on 70 stitches I casted on 91 stitches. 


Why 91 stitches, Nancy?


When I read the pattern, I noticed that in the first increase round, the pattern tells you to K7, M1 to the end of round. So the pattern works with intervals of 7!  So all I have to do is add with multiple of 7. I chose to add 7×3=21 stitches more.

Soooo…70 + 21 = 91!

Other than using a much lighter weight yarn and therefore casting on more stitches, I did not change anything else. I followed the pattern exactly and it all worked out fine!


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I love this pattern so much, I immediately casted on for another one with some golden mercerized cotton I had in my stash. Yes a whole CONE that I am working from. Delicious.

The pattern is so incredibly easy, just straight stockinett in the round, some increases, some decreases and there you have it, a stylish hat…easy does it. Really.

Here’s a view from the side:

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And here’s a view from the back:

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Want to look stylin’ too with your own Felicity Hat? Well what are you still doing here? Go to Wannett Clyde’s blog Knitology and download the Felicity Hat pattern. Make sure to say thank you to Wannett, okay?

Or go to Ravelry and check out everybody else’s Felicity Hat!

Say what..? You are not a member of Ravelry yet??? Is about time you sign up! What are you waiting for…go and sign up!


Thanks for reading and until the next entry!