Thursday, March 31, 2011

Follow me on Facebook!

Hey everyone!  I decided that if I was really going to make a go at becoming a designer, then it was time for me to create a facebook page for my work.  I mean really, I'm sure that my guy-friends from high school could care less about my knitting, and knitters could care less about my family nonsense.  This way I can keep all of the knitting in one place, and the family in another, and rarely the two shall meet.  Here on the blog'll have to still deal with the blending of design and kids because I haven't gotten around to making a separate blog for that yet, lol.

In 'branching out' news, my ad was approved by the powers-that-be at Ravelry and will start running this Friday.  I'm really excited about it.  My first ad spot!  Hopefully I'll see some return from it.  I'm also thinking about starting a 'featured pattern' or 'pattern of the month' in the group and on the facebook page to highlight designs that I'm really excited about.  

Oh, and these bad-boys are done too :)  If you're new here, or you haven't read the blog recently, these are two of the kits that will be available at Bella Yarns starting the weekend of the Yarn Crawl (April 15-17).  The sock is Rhodes, knit in ONline Line Supersocke Silk.  The beret is unnamed.  It's knit from three colors of Cascade Heritage sock yarn, knit at a sport-weight to make a cute and light hat to carry you from spring into fall.  It really needs a good name and I'm taking suggestions.  If it can be Rhode Island related, that would be fantastic but if it's cute and non-Rhode Islandy I won't be opposed to it.  I'm so obsessed with finding a good name that I actually had a dream about it!  All I remember is something about the word 'bubble'.  

So, to review:
  1. go check out the Facebook page and click the 'like' button. 
  2. keep an eye out for my new ad
  3. help me find a name for this beautiful beret
Looking forward to seeing you on 'the book'!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sharp drop-off

Boy this learning curve is steep!  I'm still working my way through the first few chapters of The Knitgirls Guide to Professional Knitware Design and I have to say...this is tough!  I've spent much of this week putting together the Ravelry group (as you know) and trying to put together enough content to justify having it.  I've had a hard time focusing on school work and trying to get these ideas out fast enough to keep people active in the group.  (Maybe I'll get lucky and a few will even rearrange their boards so that my group will show up right near the top of their page.)  But this isn't all I've been doing. 

I spent several hours last night, and several more this morning working in photoshop, trying to create an image that meets the size requirements for a Ravelry group banner ad.  It turns out that getting the ad to look like I wanted it to was the least of my problems.  After I finally got something I could be comfortable with, I had to resize the image again.  Every time I thought I had finally gotten it right, I would upload it and get an error message with the bad news.  I just about gave up, but I decided to give it one more try...and I got it!  Victory!  Hopefully I'll see some results from this ad.  I've never advertised before, but the prices are reasonable and I'm willing to give it a shot.  The ad should start running April 1st, assuming it gets approved.  If you see it in the boards (it'll be at the bottom of the discussion page in a few selected sock-themed groups), let me know.

Now, back to that beret.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Get ready for a Blizzard (hat)

the inspiration for Blizzard
 Blizzard is almost done!  The lovely Jen, better known as SheWhoKnits, has finished test knitting the chunky slouchy hat that we all loved so much from our favorite show...what else?...Bones.  Right now I'm working out a little issue with one of the chart directions, but that should be okay soon.  The hat looks just like the one that lovely Emily wears in The Blackout in the Blizzard and Jen is working on a beret version as I type.  We should be able to release this lovely design in a day or two, so get your chunky yarn and your pom-pom maker ready.

Also, I'm making fantastic headway on the second of my two patterns for the Yarn Crawl.  This one is a pretty stripped chevron beret with eyelets and garter stitch accents, and a matching set of hand warmers.  Sounds crazy right?  Wait till you see it!  Pics coming soon.

Lastly, it's about that time again...finals.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my classes run 10 weeks.  That means that I'm suffering through finals...every...10...weeks!  Why must I suffer this way!??  So anyway, expect the customary radio-silence next week while I do my best to keep my nose to the grindstone and pass these classes.  Oh, and have you gone over and joined my Ravelry group yet?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Introducing Rhodes

Rhodes is a brand new sock kit available from Bella Yarns starting April 15th (the weekend of the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl.

The kit comes with two colors of Online Line Supersock Silk, and the pattern.  
It features a deeply-ribbed cuff, slip-stitch gusset heel, and slip-stitch toe.

 The sole stitches are knit through the back loop in a checker board pattern, to provide additional cushion and durability

The sock would be great for men as well as women, and the pattern will be available as a stand-alone pattern in the fall.  If you do not live locally and would like the kit, give Bella Yarns a call to order by phone and have a kit shipped to you.  
Happy Knitting!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The scariest thing I've done this month, lol

Does this look like the face of calm?...because it's not.  I went way out of my comfort zone today.  I've been reading a wonderful book designed to help budding knitware designers get started.  The chapter on social media made me realize that I haven't been taking advantage of the different ways that people communicate with each other.  No wonder people don't know I'm here, lol.  So today, against my better (and ultimately incorrect) judgment, I started a group on Ravelry for my designs.  It's a place where I can update people about my latest projects, answer questions about the designs, get some input on what people look for in designs, and let knitters show off their finished projects. 

You know, I've joined many groups like this and I've always thought that knitters just made these groups for designers that they really love.  It never occurred to me that designers might have started a few of these groups on their own.  It felt like I was trying to draw attention to know... 'Look at me!  Look what I made!', but honestly, isn't that sort of the point?  So after playing with Photoshop for an hour or so to create the border and banner and witty description, it was time to send the invitations. 

The invitations.  I've never been so freaked out in my life (at least in recent months).  I went through my friends page, searching for people that I've interacted with on Ravelry a few times (so it wouldn't seem like a bizarre person was sending random invites).  After a few pages, I decided that if I was going to get shot down...I might as well be shot down by famous designers, lol.  So I sent a few invites out to some'd know them...and then I had a moment of panic right before I hit send.  Was I really going to do this?  Is it okay if I make my own group?  Will it come off as pretentious?  Will anyone accept my invite?  Am I really having this conversation with myself right now?  Thankfully, my husband (who was sitting on the couch listening to this mess) told me to just hit send already.  So I did.  And right away a knitter accepted my invite (thanks Traci!).  I felt really great.  Of course I got several 'declines' but surprisingly I was fine with it.  So now I've got this fantastic group on Ravelry dedicated to my designs, and I have no idea what to do with it right now, lol.  Next up... my own webpage!  Onward!

Knit-Along Little Doggie Ravelry Group page

Hey everyone!  Come on over and join the new Ravlery group for my designs.  Keep up to date on the latest patterns, share your finished projects, ask questions about the patterns, and get to know your fellow knitters.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hurry up and wait...

Folks, this seems to be the name of the game in the design biz.  Right now, I've got a proposal out to Interweave and I'm sitting here very impatiently stocking my email in hopes of getting the word that they like my idea and they're running with it.  I'm even hoping that they agree with my yarn choice, because I already have two hats and a hand-warmer knit, and the hat pattern written and ready to go.  I guess I should also be stalking my mailbox for a rejection letter if I'm being realistic about this process.  One of my facebook friends told me that she saved her rejection letter because it was signed by Eunny Jang.  If she signs mine personally, I might consider doing the same. 

I just finished knitting a prototype for a pattern that I plan to submit to Knitty for their Holiday Headstart edition last night.  This one is quite a bit more work because I have to have the sample knit, photos taken (good ones too!), a pattern written in their standard format, and a schematic.  Yesterday, when I was having writers block on my Unit 7 project, I decided to take a stab at that schematic.  I was looking into programs that would offer that feature and I finally gave up and pulled up Powerpoint.  I was able to take advantage of the standard set of shapes, and the rotate and line features to create a pretty good schematic of my design, if I don't say so myself.  Then I went over to Knitty and pulled up their requirements again and realized that my schematic needed to be in one of two formats, and I didn't know anything about either of them!  I went over to Google, searched EPS (one of the acceptable formats), and found out that I could save a design in that format through Adobe Illustrator (which we just so happen to have, yay!).  After my husband woke up, I had him show me where the program was and I started to try to redraw the schematic.  I didn't get very far before I realized that this was going to be a good deal more work than my first one was, and about that time my genius husband suggested that I try to copy and paste my design into Illustrator.  And it worked!  So now I have a detailed schematic with all of the necessary measurements of an unconventional item, and it's formatted correctly.  Some days I feel like a genius!  So what's next?  Photos of the finished product and typing up the pattern.  I might just get this in under the deadline.

Next up, the sock pattern for the Yarn Crawl kit.  I've been knitting away on this one because it travels well.  I noticed that I had made a mistake in the pattern on the sole of the foot, and due to time constraints I've decided to make it a design feature.  See how these things work?  I have a few more inches to go and then I'll start decreasing for the toe.  I've decided that I'm not going to knit this sock to fit my size 10 foot because it's just for display anyway so I'm aiming for a sock large enough to fit the leg model in the shop.  This pattern is mostly written as well and should be ready to go as soon as the sock is.  Then it'll be on to the beret/hand-warmer combo.

Last but not least, the blanket for Cascade.  I've got another bag of Eco wool in the mail so I should be able to make this blanket the size I originally planned for.  It's beautiful, and it's soothing to knit.  I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

And somewhere during this designing mess, I have to knit a prototype of a slouchy hat for the Bones Fan group on ravelry.  I seem to have a talent in reproducing knitware from television.  I'm going to knit a swatch in the chunky yarn for the adult sized hat, but I'll be knitting the actual hat in a baby size for my little cousin who is cuter than cute and needs a pretty summer hat.  If this all works out and I don't implode, I'll add that pattern to my ravelry pattern store.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sneak Peak!

This is my new sock design folks!  If you like what you see, you can the kit at Bella Yarns during the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl, on the weekend of April 15-17.  The kit will include two balls of Online Super Sock Silk, in various color combos, and this super brilliant pattern by yours truly.  Stop in and get yours!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My knitting bag runneth over

This, my friends, is the sad sad state of my knitting bag.  Inside this bag are the yarn and/or swatches for seven of my designs, plus a shawl for my friend's wife who is going to have their baby any day now.  It's crazy!  It just hit me as I typed designs in some stage of progress or another.  That's nothing compared to what is in my sketch book right now.  And as you can see I'm having fun with color now that I picked up the color selection wheel.  It definitely makes choosing colors easier for me.  I have a hard time picking a color but I know what I like so having this handy little tool pointing me in the right direction helps me to eliminate things that I know for sure won't work well together. 

Also, you know what I said about four hours of sleep and math?  Well, I got up this morning and realized that my repeats are about 12 stitches less than my swatch and that I figured the numbers incorrectly... again.  I had about 8 stitches too many, and I had to rip back and start again.  This time I took the total number of stitches in my swatch and multiplied by 6 (I want the blanket to be 6 swatches wide) and divided that by the number of stitches in the pattern repeat to see how many of those would fit in 6 swatches.  Still with me?  I ended up with a fraction so I rounded down to the nearest whole number.  Then I added the 12 stitches left over in the swatch so that it ends with the same stitch section it starts with (going for balance here), and I got more stitches than it would take to knit 6 repeats of my entire swatch.  Too many stitches, project too big, not enough yarn.  So, I decided to go with one less pattern repeat and do it all over again.  After I got a number, I added 4 stitches (2 on each side) and another 10 stitches for the border (5 on each side). 

Now I am not a math genius, even though I aced college algebra and statistics, and I have screwed up these numbers three different times, so I decided to check my math in a much simpler way.  I added all the numbers together to see if I got the same number.  5 + 2 + (pattern repeats) + 12 remaining sts for balance + 2 + 5 = the same number I got before!  Yes!  But I still don't trust myself so I cast on the total number, and as I knit the first row, I placed markers after every section to make sure I had the correct number of sections and didn't have any stitches left over.  Success!!  So now I'm on course and I'm going to plug away at this project and see what happens.  I should be safe for about 22 rows, lol.  I have achieved balance in my project.  I wonder if I can achieve balance in my life?  It's unlikely, lol.  Oh, here's a sneak peak at the super-secret project:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Creativity ain't pretty

Creativity ain't pretty or conducive to sleep.  I was up till 2 am swatching for an exclusive pattern for Bella Yarns, for the Yarn Crawl this April.  When I went to bed, Alex was up and wet so that was another 20 minute circus to get him all cleaned up and settled in again.  He was awake for a while and trying to talk to me.  Fast forward to this morning when he decided to get me up out of bed at 6am.  Yep, I'm going on four hours of sleep, and two monster energy drinks folks.  I finished my swatches, had them approved by Naomi, came up with two more ideas on the way to the shop, brought home donuts and made dinner, worked on my project for school, and cast on for the afghan for Cascade.  Guess what else isn't pretty after four hours sleep (besides me...), my math skills.  I ran the numbers three times and came up with three different numbers.  I had to pull back one long, long row at least three times.  I think I have it now.  I am writing the pattern while I knit so I don't have to wonder what the heck I did while I was knitting under the influence of 4-hours of sleep.  I'll look at it again tomorrow and see if it looks right, before I get too far along.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Honestly, I don't know why I do these things...

Today I got this urge to look at the submission dates for one of the online knitting magazines, the one that I had this design in mind for, and I realized that the submission deadline isn't until June!  While I was looking for that, I found one for Interweave Knits magazine, for the Fall 2011 issue and I realized that my design works well (or at least I think it does) for one of the catagories that they are looking for.  I look down the page and I see that the submission deadline is on Monday, March 14th.  That seems do-able, but I look further and I see that the submission has to be submitted by mail and has to be there by Monday!  This is Thursday.  I need a proposal, a completed submission form, a sketch, two swatches (because of the variation in my design), and they all need to be labeled and in the mail before 5pm today.  It was 10am when I saw this.

Now, a reasonable person with some sense would realize that they couldn't make the deadline because they have homework and a project to do and they can't get two "generous swatches" knit in time to get all of this in the mail...but I've never been accused of being reasonable.  I decided to go for it!  I wrote up the proposal (it's more like a three page essay on this pattern and how it came to be, plus a title page), and revised it.  I saved it and the submission form to my flash drive and started knitting swatches.  I finished my swatches at 3:30, gave them a quick steam block, and ran out the door to the shop where I could print everything out and label it all.  When I was there, I realized that I was still missing the sketch, so I quickly whipped out the colored pencils and got busy.  It's not my best work, but I think it gets the idea across.  It all went into a page protector, and at 4:50pm I got it to the post office and out the door!  It's going Express so they are guaranteed to have it in their hands by 3pm tomorrow. 

Why do I do these things?  Why do I toss out a perfectly good day when I wasn't tired and could have focused on my homework?  Because I'm nuts!  And I like living on the edge and facing rejection, lol.  I've tossed two proposals out into the world, and they were both received very well.  I'm hoping that this one will too, and that my next idea for Cascade will go over as well as the first one seems to (because I haven't even knit this one yet and I've already got yarn in hand to swatch for the next one).  Maybe this is how I subconsciously chose to channel the nervous energy from the upcoming unemployment appeal on the 18th...  Either way, the snowball is rolling down hill now and it's picking up speed.  No going back now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alexander's purple sweater

So it turns out that I forgot to blog Alex's purple sweater.  If you know us personally, then you've seen him wear this sweater a few times by now.  It has quickly replaced his green sweater as his go-to sweater. 

The pattern is from Knitting Pure & Simple (the child's top down v-neck pullover) knit with three skeins of Cascade 220 superwash.  I made the size 6 so that he can wear it next season too.  I'm rolling the sleeves up right now and it's definitely big on him so I think it's safe to say that he'll have it for at least one more year.

In other news, there is an opening for a Design Assistant with Berroco, which is conveniently located in North Smithfield, RI...and as I happen to be a Rhode Islander, and an amateur designer, and I think that I qualify for this job in all areas except for the college degree (the degree type was not exactly specified and I am one year away from completing my degree), so I went ahead and tossed my resume into the pile.  My husband is really proud of me.  I'm hoping that the fact that yesterday was my birthday and I found this posting about five hours after it went up will be a sign and turn out to be lucky for me.  I know that I am a good knitter.  I can knit on DPN's, use the two-circular method, and use the 'magic loop'.  I know about 'jogless jogs'.  I can read charts.  I can knit lace and do lace knitting (and I realize that there is a difference between the two).  I can design patterns.  The only thing I haven't yet done is write a pattern for a sweater because I am still learning about pattern grading, but I have designed a few sweaters.  I can knit socks.  I can knit pretty much anything because I have a wonderful talent for following directions (a recent discovery about myself, lol).  I have learned to alter patterns.  I am generally considered to be a fast knitter and have been told that my work looks machine knit.  I teach classes at the yarn shop, and I take in repairs and finishing work.  And I'm 6' tall so I'm great at reaching things without a step ladder.

So why am I justifying all of this?  Because I am still new to design and I'm just starting to find my place in the world of pattern writing.  I don't have a large following.  I am still trying to get my name out there.  I don't have a design background, or any formal training in textiles, but I have been working with yarn in some form since I was 11 years old.  I learned to crochet first and I did that exclusively for years.  I also learned to latch-hook, needle-point, and cross-stitch, but none of these really stayed with me.  I discovered knitting when I was about 25, and I've been knitting ever since.  During that time I have challenged myself to knit things that were beyond my current skill level.  I've stalked knitting blogs and surfed Ravelry for years.  I've sketched ideas into a sketch book and have been trying to balance knitting for my family and the shop with school and working on my designs.  The ideas come so fast and so often that I have to take the sketch pad with me everywhere I go.  I don't have the background or the body of work that many of my fellow designer have, but I know that I learn quickly and I have some great ideas.  I have submitted patterns to major companies twice.  Once I was awarded honorable mention, and would have been chosen as a winner if it weren't for the delay in getting permission to use one of the motifs (there just wasn't enough time before the contest ended).  The other was accepted and I am awaiting the yarn to knit the sample.  I think those are fantastic odds.  Two designs, two favorable outcomes.  What I really need is to be able to work under someone with more experience than myself so that I can get a feel for how things work and can come into my own.  For that reason, I went ahead and submitted my resume to Berroco because stranger things have happened, right? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

A little bit Goth

Yesterday, I finished a pair of socks that I've been drooling over for a long time.  I first came across them in the project page of a fellow Raveler (he does fantastic work!!), and I fell in love with the color.  I looked for it everywhere and I finally found a ball in the sale bin at Fresh Purls.  I first cast on for these back in 2009 on the way to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (Rhinebeck) with my buddy.  I split the ball into two, and knit them from the toe up to use every last scrap I could.  I managed to finish one just after returning from the trip and then I let the companion ball rot away in my stash for over a year.  I honestly don't know what I was thinking, because I love these like I've never loved another pair of socks!  I love them.  There just aren't words.  The color combo is so brilliant and I love how they look with these jeans.

My only mistake with this pair is that I really wanted the to match so I knit the second sock to the exact stripe pattern as the first one, and there was a slight difference in how wide the stripes were so my second sock is just slightly longer than the first (in the foot and leg).  Just enough to be noticeable if one was looking close enough, but not enough to really feel different when I'm wearing them, so I'm going to leave them alone.  I've got one foot that's slightly longer than the other anyway...  So, this pair of socks is the first project for myself in the month of March, which is supposed to be all about me knitting wise.  Unfortunately I have to finish the Bridgewater shawl because my friend's wife went into labor a few days ago and this should have been there already.  Now I'm just hoping to get it out to California before they bless the baby.  I've also just receive confirmation of the yarn shipment for that secret project I'm knitting for that company that shall remain unnamed for now.  I don't want to take any chances until the pattern is up on their site and I've got the check in hand.  I've also had a few more design ideas flood in, including one for a lovely yarn that doesn't have much going on by way of pattern support, one is a fantastic pullover inspired by a high-fashion blouse I saw on a now-canceled t.v. show, and the other is an idea for an alter cloth for the Boston Temple. 

In other news, I took Dante to the orthopedic specialist today and she gave him a clear bill of health.  He's got standard Osgood Schlatters, which basically means that his muscles are pulling really hard on the growth plate below his knee, and it's inflamed.  It's basically a really good case of growing pain.  All we need to do is tell his coach about it and they should know how to tailor his training to help minimize any pain.  He's cleared to compete, and he's a happy camper.  I am a relieved mom.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Totally enabling (cause that's what I do best)

Stop everything and go here right now!  My buddy Rain just started a new jewelry making business and has some beautiful stuff in her etsy shop right now (it's a 'soft launch', so there are just a few things right now). 

To help get this venture off the ground, she's having a giant fiber/yarn destash.  Today is the spinning fiber.  The yarn will be soon to follow.  I've already put in a request for mine.  Go get yours.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Proposal, away!

Well, I sat down the last day or so and worked out the swatch for an afghan idea that I've had for a while now, and I submitted a proposal to a major yarn company last night.  I can't put any photos up right now (just in case), so I figured I'd toss this one up here, lol.  This was mid-hair cut and we decided to stop and see what he would look like with a mohawk.  We all liked it, and decided to leave it for a few days.  He's ready for it to go now, so I'll be cutting it off tomorrow morning (or so...). 

I had to innovate a bit in order to make the swatch bend to my will, and I'm pretty pleased with my solution to the problem.  Once I hear back from said yarn company, I'll be able to post a few progress photos, (unless of course they don't like my idea, at which point I'll be submitting it to online magazine to see if they have any interest).  I was so impressed with myself!  I even think that I estimated the amount of yardage correctly (I'll sure find out if I didn't).  I weighed my swatch and calculated the approximate yardage in it.  Then I measured the swatch and divided the desired length by the length of the swatch.  I needed 6 swatches across, and 6 swatches high to achieve the desired size, and after doing some math I concluded that I need approximately 780 yds of yarn.  I was able to estimate from that calculation about how many skeins of the suggested yarn I'll need to knit this bad boy.

So what's next?  Well, I have a week off from major assignments in school so I'll be working on filing our taxes this week, and on writing a pattern for my hat pattern so my buddy Daisy can test knit it for me.  I'll bet that yarn is just burning a hole in her stash right now :)  Let's see if I can maintain enough focus to do something about that.