Monday, February 28, 2011

personal struggle: fear

After spending the last three days knitting swatches for a design that I had in mind, I've finally settled on one that I really like and can envision in the shape that I've been planning on.  So what's the problem?  Well, I really want to have this be specifically for tall women and I'm afraid that by going with a yarn company I won't have as much control over what happens to the design.  Now, I could totally publish it myself (as I have with other designs), but my following is so small that I doubt many knitters would see it.  I could advertise on Ravelry (and I'm sure I will eventually) but that seems like a really big step and I feel like I should have multiple designs to go up all together so that when the knitter comes over to look, they'll find several options for tall knitters.  I sort of feel like this step would be better off if I had a collection of sorts.  I have enough yarn to knit about 10 sweaters for myself, but perhaps not any of the sweaters I've got in mind, and I can't really afford to design a collection without some yarn support...which brings me full circle back to the yarn company. 

Yarn companies provide yarn support and will pay for the design if they like it.  I want them to like my design.  I want as many people as possible to like my design.  But it's my design and I like it, and I want to keep it for myself.  I'm afraid to let this one go out into the world, and I'm thinking about keeping it and sending some of my less personal designs out into the world.  I sort of feel like I want my tall-knitter designs to stay home and attend a local junior college for two years be all mine and independent from the control and influence of a major corporation.  Getting involved with a major company (even one that I know to be Good People) is a big step and it scares me.  This is completely different from the way that I like to work, and I'm willing to grow but I'm just scared to take that first step.  So maybe I'll take the step with some of my less personal designs and see what happens.  Sort of a 'getting to know you' pattern submission before I lay all my cards on the table.  But my vanity and drive cause me to want to do my best work so I can show off a little bit.  I'm feeling conflicted about wanting to show them what I'm really capable of as a knitter/designer, and wanting to keep things casual to see if I even like working this way. 

To be honest, I've got a few non-sweater designs that I'm pretty excited about and I like these designs, but I'm not as protective over them.  Most of them were designed with this company's yarns in mind.  So I guess what I should do is to work on those right now and submit them to see how it goes.  If I like the process, and I can maintain a decent amount of control over the finished design, then maybe I'll push forward with my pattern line under the umbrella of a major company.  If not, I've got several new reference books in my shopping cart online that addresses these issues and I can learn how to go it alone.  So, I guess I'm back to the sketch book and swatching some more. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unable to focus

I'm having one of those weeks where I'm being pulled in several directions and I just can't focus.  I've got a project for one class and although I think its going to be easier than last week's project, I just can't bring myself to focus on it for more than an hour or so.  I'm just too tired to focus, and yet I can't seem to get myself into bed at a decent hour and Alex gets up at the same time every morning.  That means that I function on an average of 5-6 hours of sleep a day until I finally drop and sleep for five hours.  I'm a girl who burns the candle at both ends (I always have been), and when I'm not wrapped up in some show on Netflix and knitting some project, I'm working till 1am on a homework assignment.  It's not unusual for me to do homework until about 11pm-12am, and then put it down and pick up my knitting for an hour so I can turn my brain off.

Right now, I can't focus because of the creative tear that I'm on.  Every few months I get a flood of project ideas and I'm usually too busy to work on them so they go into the sketch pad until I get time for them.  I don't usually get time for them and when I do have time for a design of my own, I'm usually dealing with one of the new ideas that popped into my brain.  My latest challenge (designing specifically for tall women) has really turned into a challenge.  There aren't any standard sizes out there for tall women, and when I say tall I mean 5' 10' and over.  I have to be clear on this because the Simplicity sewing pattern company seems to feel that 'tall' is anyone over 5' 6", and understandably when one considers that average height for a woman is only 5' 4".  So anyone who's 6' (as I am) is freakishly tall for a woman...because 6' is technically over average height for a man!  Now, I know that there must be some set of standard measurements out there, because I buy tall shirts and pants from Gap, Old Navy, and NY&Co.  I've even been to a website run by an organization that supports the fashion industry, and they offer these standards for sale, but they aren't for tall women...they're for average women.  That being said, I spent a good amount of my afternoon (that should have been filled with homework), figuring out the percentages of armhole depth compared to the total length of a garment, and the total length of a sleeve compared to the total length of a garment (an average length top).  Turns out that there are such numbers, and now that I have them I can measure a few of my own tall tops to see if these percentages hold true or if there is an entirely different set of numbers.  If the percentages are exactly the same and they just add some length to the torso, then I can just use myself as the middle size and grade my patterns out from there.  If these tops have their own percentage, I can do the same thing, again using myself as an average size but I'll just have to do a little math.  Once I work this all out, I'll be compiling my info and I'll have my own set of standard measurements for tall women!

Now, once all the complicated stuff is out of the way, I get to tackle actual design work.  I've got several fantastic reference books and I read some reviews for a few more good ones that I've got to go order.  After that, I start knitting!  I might have a little yarn support to help me on my way too.  I contacted the wonderful people at Cascade Yarns, and they responded to my email and sent me information on submitting patterns and getting published by them if they approve my designs.  I'll even get paid if they like what I do!  This might actually happen.  I wonder if this is the way it went down for Wendy Bernard when she started, or for Cookie A, or Spilly Jane?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New direction

Well folks, I've got a major writing assignment due and some discussion board questions to post to, so naturally I'm writing a blog post.  I've found that when I have a project that requires a little creative thinking to complete, it kick starts the rest of my creative juices and I get all these fantastic ideas for all the other areas in my life...the one's that I don't have time to really explore right now.  That being said, I've decided that I really need to focus my designing attention toward a niche that can be uniquely my own.  One that I'm very familiar with.  So I guess I'm announcing here on my beloved (but hardly well read) blog that I'm going to be focusing my designing skills to design patterns specifically for tall women.  I'm going to make socks for bigger feet, hand-warmers and mittens for longer hands, sweaters and vests with longer sleeves and deeper arm-hole depth, and decreases that hit lower on the body.  These are just a few of the sizing issues that tall knitters (like myself) have to adjust any time they knit any pattern.  Wouldn't it be nice to just pick up a pattern and go...not having to add five additional inches to that arms and wonder if the arm-hole will hit where you like it and not end up right in your armpit?  Wouldn't it be nice to be better able to estimate how much yardage you need for your project because the extra inches you normally have to add into a pattern would already be accounted for?  I think it would, and I think that there are many other knitters out there who would agree with me.  I mean, aren't fashion models tall?!  And yet clothes are still made in average sizes and if I want a dress-shirt or pair of pants that fit I have to order them online.  If I wanted a sweater that fit, I had to learn to knit and spend the next 8 years making mistakes and learning how long was long enough and where the decreases should hit my body before I finally got a sweater that fit me correctly.  So, that being said, I'm going to be focusing my design energies toward designs for tall women.  How tall is tall?  Well, I'm trying to work out the minimum height but based on the group for tall knitters that I joined yesterday on Ravelry, I can see that I'm only average height in the tall woman world (at a respectable 6') so tall should probably extend out to accommodate woman up to 6' 5".  If I find that there is a need for patterns even taller than that...well I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, lol.  If you are tall (meaning that you have to buy tall sizes when you shop for clothes), please leave me a comment telling me how tall you are so I can get a better idea of my demographic.
Oh, and ladies with thick curly hair...I haven't forgotten you either.  Hats designed for our particular hair will also be on the agenda.  No more hat-head, or being forced to wear your hat all day because it gets frizzier every time you have to put it on and take it off.  Now, back to my regularly scheduled homework assignment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

brand new make-up, and brand new knits

Unfortunately, I'm swamped with school right now (what else is new, right) and I haven't had much time to post.  I've also got about four finishing/repair projects sitting on my coffee table right now that need my attention.  So what did I do with the bulk of my day?  I cast on for a brand new secret project using some yarn that I've been dieing to work with.  I'm really enjoying it, but I've been pulling a lot of vegetable matter out of the balls and that bugs me a bit.  Otherwise, the yarn is wonderful and soft and warm and I'm super excited about the color palette.  Why all the secrecy?  Because I plan to submit this one somewhere (I'm not sure where yet) and some places won't take the submission if so much as a photo has hit the web.  If any of you know me personally, I'm sure you'll see it.  If not, (if I have my way) you'll see it picked up by some knitting magazine or online source somewhere and I'll be taking my first steps toward Big Girl pattern writing.  By the way...has anyone else ever heard of a 'Domo' or a 'Shoop da Loop'?  No.  Good, I thought it was just us.  Look like I'll be knitting something for The Boy using these images.  Take a second and Google it.  I'll wait.

You back?  I also got a Kat Von D eyeshadow palette from Sephora (did I tell you this already...?!).  Anyway, it's fantastic.  Everything they said it would be.  I've been playing with my make-up for four days and really vamping it up.  One half of the palette is gonna be off limits for work and church, lol, but the rest I consider for general use.  Now, don't let this little paragraph make you think that I'll actually bother to wear make-up more often then I do.  I just like having it in the house.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Battle Sour Dough, continued

Well, last night's sour dough did not rise, but I went ahead and tossed it in the oven anyway.  I think its gonna be two squat loaves.  I pulled out the stuff the start another batch, made sure to put the correct amount of yeast and honey, and then fed my started.  I noticed that when I fed the starter it was too thick to stir so I added a few extra teaspoons full of water.  I decided that this would be a good time to check the recipe again to be sure it was 1C flour and 1/2C water instead of the other way around (cause that would be my luck).  I was okay on that part, but discovered that I was supposed to leave the starter out for 12 hours before putting it back in the fridge.  I've 'fed' the starter three times in three days and haven't done that step I think this starter might be a lost cause and I may have to start over from scratch.  sigh!  Well, I've got enough flour so I'm going to press onward and see what happens, and if it doesn't work out I'll toss the starter and start again.  Maybe I'll just google sour dough starter and see if I can buy some and have it shipped.  Maybe I'll just say 'forget it!' and buy my sour dough from the market...but not before I master this recipe.  I'm past the point of no return on this endeavor. 

Oh, and my ice-cream?  Yeah, that failed too.  Fruit wasn't frozen enough and the substitutions for the heavy cream were too wet for it to set up.  I tried to put it in the freezer last night to see if that would make a difference.  It's frozen solid now.  I'll be starting on that as well.  And at some point today, I'm supposed to bake muffins.  Yes folks, the batting average has fallen even lower.  Maybe I should just go knit something...this IS a knitting blog after all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Loss of kitchen mojo

 This is my Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig of Knitbot fame.  It's my first sweater of the year and I've worn it consistent since it came off the needles.  I think this is going to replace my Emerald cardigan because it's thin enough that I can fit it under my new gray coat (the other one bunches under the arms and restricts movement in the smaller coat).  Please forgive these lousy photos.  They're just another example of the loss of Mojo that I'm experiencing around here this week.
 Where am I hit the hardest by the Mojo loss??  In the kitchen.  According to Aaron (who helped me figure out this analogy) if I were a major league baseball player, I'd be batting about 175 right now.  The buffalo wings came out great, as did the blue-cheese dressing.  The waffles from last night tasted good, but I missed a crucial step that affected the overall texture (they should have been crisper on the outside and fluffier on the inside).  The home made ice-cream I tried tonight turned out like a milk shake instead of ice-cream, so into the freezer it went (at least it tasted good).  The sour dough bread?  Don't even ask about the sour dough bread.  It was supposed to be so easy, but I've screwed it up for the last two straight days, and the started was off at first too but I think I've worked that out.
 Turns out that after waiting for 2-5 days for the starter to be ready, then 1 hour for the wet ingredients to sit and rise, then 1 1/2 hours for the dough to rise, you have to prep the loaves and then put them into the fridge for ANOTHER 8-12 HOURS!!  Really.  I knew I was gonna have problems when I discovered that I'd only put 1 tsp of honey into the wet ingredients instead of the 1 Tbs, but I hoped I could work past that.  Then I mixed the flour into the wet ingredients, all the while wondering when the butter and eggs was supposed to go in, and put it in the oven to rise.  This friends, is what happens when one is tired and lack of a printer necessitates copying the recipe by hand...I missed a critical step.  At about this point, I called several friends hoping to ask if I should even bother to proceed to baking...after all, I had no eggs or butter or salt, but I've made other bread recipes that didn't call for eggs (it could work, right?).  No one answered.  Next step: call Mom.  Her advice: bake it anyway and see what happens...after all, it could work, right?  So I go in and get ready to bake the bread, and scroll down the recipe looking for the temperature, and that's when I see that I can't even bake these blasted loaves till tomorrow morning at the earliest!  I mean, really!  So they're in the fridge doing what ever the heck it is that they need 12 hours to do, and tomorrow I'll start all over with fresh flour and stuff and try again.  I'll bake these and if they don't work out, I'll have properly prepared dough waiting in the wings.  That's the plan anyway.
At least the Swedish meatballs & rice worked out.  Probably because it was store-bought, packaged gravy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will he or won't he?!...

Come on everyone!  Join me in watching the latest episode of Bones on Fox tonight to see if Booth proposes to Hannah (boo!) or if they break up and he starts laying the foundation of a realtionship with Bones (yay!).  To celebrate, I've put my Cocky pattern on sale from 9pm EST through next week ending at 9pm EST.  Come on, you know you wanna!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and look what I made!!  Buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing, courtesy of the latest edition of Cook Illustrated's America's Best Test Kitchens.  Both the dressing, the wings, and the buffalo sauce are made from scratch.  It's by far the best blue cheese dressing I've ever had...and it's good that the recipe was in there because Shaw's had one (1) bottle of blue cheese dressing left, and it was low-fat, lol.  So I just bought the stuff I needed to make my own, and the boys are super happy with it. 

Now I know that this is in no way a food blog, but it isn't often that I make something completely from scratch and I get super excited when I do, so this time I took a picture and put it here for proof of my kitchen-awesomeness.

I'm knitting slowly but surely on the Effortless Cardigan and it's coming along nicely.  I'm knitting on the ribbing for the body right now, and then I'll be working on the sleeves.  Then there's a good amount of ribbing along the fronts and the collar, so I'm not out of the woods but I hope that when I finish I'll still have some Month-of-February left so I can try to get back on schedule for my IntSweMoDo2011 (did I get that abbreviation correct??  I always screw it up).  Now, back to knitting and watching Super Bowl commercials.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Introducing the Brambles Mittens (to match your beret).

Mittens were inspired by the Brambles beret pattern from Knitty by Amanda Muscha. With her permission, I have released this pattern for matching mittens. The pattern features the cable found on the body of the beret (I have not included this chart…you can get it from the original beret pattern) with the addition of a right-side cable, and a new chart for the upper-mitten that is designed to mirror the decrease section of the beret. The mittens designed with the cable pattern on the back and stockinette stitch on the palms. The upper-mitten chart only shows the patterned side, so you will need to remember to decrease the stockinette side when you work a decrease row on the patterned side. I used less than two skeins of Cascade 220 superwash to knit the beret and mittens, with about half a skein left-over yarn.
Materials: Ideally you would use exactly the same size yarn and needles that you knit the beret from, but if not…here goes:
  • Yarn: 1/2 of a skein of Cascade 220 superwash handpaint in #9867 (baby pink).
  • Needles: for magic loop: one US 4 (3.5mm) circular at least 24” long for ribbing, and one US 6 (4.0mm) at least 24” long for body; or 2 US 4 (3.5mm) circulars for ribbing and 2 US 6 (4.0mm) circulars if you prefer using two circular needlespattern is written for two circular method…you could knit the cuff and the body with the larger needles and eliminate the smaller ones if necessary
  • 3 stitch markers: one in a different color to denote the thumb gusset.
  • scrap yarn and darning needle.
  • gauge of 6 sts and 8 rows per inch.
Block lightly to bring out the cable details, and enjoy with your matching hat! 

Update: as of yesterday (2/4/11), 96 knitters have downloaded this pattern...join the masses, lol.

download now

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cocky Socks on sale from 2/10/11 through 2/17/11

After some gentle reminding, I finally got off my bottom and released the Cocky Sock pattern to the general public on Ravelry.   

To celebrate Valentines day, and the possibility that Booth will finally kick Hannah to the curb and get with Bones, the pattern is on sale for 35% off starting 2/10/11 at 9pm Eastern during the show and running all week until the start of the following episode on 2/17/11.

Pattern details are as follows:

Size: Woman’s M/L (8.5” circumference), or Man’s L. (10-10.5” circumference): Chart A is designed to fit a woman’s foot, and Chart C is designed to fit a man’s foot (2 repeats in DK weight yarn, or 3 repeats in fingering weight yarn).
To get started, you’ll need:
Yarn: 1 skein of any sock yarn in red for the main color (mc); 1 skein of any fingering weight sock yarn in white (cc). if knitting a man’s sock, you’ll need the same amounts of fingering weight yarn or approx 300 yds of each color in DK weight yarn.
  • fingering yarn: 2.75mm double-pointed needles; OR two sets of 2.75mm circular needles; OR one 2.75mm circular needles at least 24” long (or what ever size is necessary to hit gauge); OR
  • DK yarn: 3.75mm double-pointed needles; OR two sets of 3.75mm circular needles; OR one 3.75mm circular needles at least 24” long (or what ever size is necessary to hit gauge).
  • Fingering: 8 sts per inch in stranded pattern; OR
  • DK: 5.5 sts per inch in stranded pattern.
To ensure that you hit gauge, be sure to knit your swatch in the round. Stranding can tighten your gauge so be sure to do a stranded swatch as well. Chart B would be perfect to swatch with.

Stitch markers: 2 to divide the pattern repeats, 1 in a different color for the end of the round.
Size Notes: If your foot circumference is wider, you can add additional stitches between the chickens, or knit with a slightly larger needle to increase your gauge. Pattern provides two different charts to fit a man’s and woman’s foot circumference.

pattern cost: $6.00

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Success... I think.

Well, I've been working on my sweater and it's now February...and I'm not finished with it.  It was the need to knit a new pair of mittens with detachable i-cord, and a pair of gloves for Dante (and a pair of socks for each of the boys) that took up all of my knitting time in January...oh, and the final projects.  Can't forget about the final projects.  I got 100% on each of those papers, by the way ;)

Anyway, my friend Heather came over on Saturday night and we followed the instructions in Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard (of Knit and Tonic fame) to make a dress-form out of duct tape.  There's a part in the directions where she tells you that you'll have to get over the shock of seeing what your body actually looks like, and she's not kidding!  We were successful in creating the form, and then I took a look at my own upper body and was genuinely depressed.  It's just sad.  So sad that I complained about it for most of the rest of the night.  I complained do much that my poor husband went out and bought me a fat-burner for when I return to the gym.  I'd been kicking the idea around, but I hadn't done anything about it yet.  He went out and read every single label to make sure there wasn't anything I was allergic to in the ingredients, and then came home with one, because he's a sweet man and men like to fix things when we get upset.  If I hadn't been bitterly lamenting my waste-line, and I didn't understand the need for a man to fix things instead of just listening, I might have been offended but I wasn't.  Because that's how bad my body really looks when it's wrapped in duct tape!

Yesterday we ran some errands and for the up-teenth time I thought to myself that my fingering weight, lace tam just isn't warm enough for the days when the wind really blows and I need to knit a heavier hat.  I decided yesterday that it was time to do something about it, and I took out my pretty, girl-y pink Cascade 220 superwash handpaint yarn and cast on for Brambles.  I wasn't sure about cables and variegated yarn, but I think that the colors are so subtle that it'll work out just fine.  I'm going to use the cable to knit matching mittens and then if I have any yarn left over, I'll look at a neck warmer too.  I guess that'll be more time off of my sweater knitting, but I'm hoping to make up for some of that by knitting a few with some of my Cascade Eco wool and Eco +, which should knit up pretty fast (and should fit pretty darn well now that I've got this dress form that shows where all my important measurements are).

Oh, and lastly (and totally off topic), I went to the new website (thanks to the tutorial by a member of our ward on Sunday), and bought myself a subscription to the Ensign magazine...finally!  Who else is proud of me?... lol.