Saturday, June 25, 2011

Off to a great start

Photo copyright: Cascade Yarns
The Quilt and Cable blanket is off to a great start on Ravelry!  After 24 hours, it's been faved 250 times, it's in 76 ques, and it was downloaded 87 times today.  That's saying something, lol.  I felt pretty good about this project and it looks like some other people do too.  I can't wait to start seeing the projects popping up on Ravelry, and seeing how other people interpret the pattern (different colors, different yarns, smaller sizes, etc). 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been happily knitting along on my Owls pullover.  I just finished the body and set it aside to start on the sleeves.  Right now it looks like it'll fit Alex, but the Eco wool grows a good amount after blocking so I know it will fit perfectly once it hits the bath and gets a good stretching.  I've wanted to knit this sweater for a long, long time and I've wanted an Eco Wool sweater for my own ever since I knit The Request for a friend's husband.  This is killing two birds with one stone, as they say.  Oh, and in case that wasn't enough, I've started knitting other designs again.

I've got the yarn from Cascade all wound and sitting in it's own special plastic zipper bag, ready to become what ever it is that I end up making with it.  I think I know what I want it to be, but once I start knitting...sometimes things don't end up like I thought they would at the start.  Take the chemo cap I knit for my mom's friend.  I thought about some simple fair isle inspired by a favorite pullover vest, but once I started the diamond section, I really liked how that looked so I just kept repeating it, striping the colors like a rainbow as I went.  When I was finished, I wasn't sure about the final result and I was ready to write it off as a dud, but everyone who saw it today loved it and insisted that I write up the pattern.  So, I'll be making a few adjustments so it can be worn as a beanie or a slouchy hat, and the pattern will be available shortly.  I also got some sample balls from the shop to work on a helmet liner style baby bonnet in four different gauges.  I think that I was able to figure out the porportions, which will allow me to easily scale the pattern up to a larger size.  I tried this pattern once before, based on an actual helmet liner that a customer brought into the shop, but the yarns were so different that even though we knit exactly the same number of stitches and rows...the fit was way off.  That was a year ago and things seem to have clicked because now I know what was wrong and how to fix it.  I'll be working on one in the smallest size, and when the new fall yarns come in, we'll knit up some of the others. 

Well, I guess my small period of not knowing what to knit next is over :)  Looks like I'm going to be busy for a little while.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm published!

This right here?...this little screen shot you see here on the left?...this is my blanket, on a model, on a pattern, on Cascade Yarn's official website!  I'm officially published and this baby is live, and available for free download.  You can get it right there on Cascades free patterns page under "Eco Wool", and I've created a pattern page on Ravelry as well. 

Let me just say, I've gotten some fantastic news today.  First, I came home from class to find a bag of sample yarns from Cascade sitting at my door, and I opened it to find a skein of Covington, Jewel, and Lana Bambu.  I know exactly what I'm going to do with these too.  Then, I checked my email and saw that they loved the pattern that I sent to them (the one that was rejected by another publisher) and they're sending me the yarn to knit that one I'll have two patterns with Cascade in a matter of weeks.  Lastly, I checked their website to look at the colors for this upcoming pattern, and that's when I found that my blanket was published.  The photos are stunning!  And it's totally surreal to see a model wearing a blanket that lived in my apartment for months.  The blanket in the photos was knit by me.  Ever single last stitch.  And I blocked it out on my very own bed.  So, if you were interested in this pattern, it's now available and you should go download it.  After's free!

Oh, and one more thing.  Assuming I pass the background check, I'll be teaching some knitting classes at Jo-Ann's fabrics in North Attleboro, in addition to those that I already teach at Bella Yarns.  These are all good things, because I'll have two kids starting school in the fall instead of one...which means twice the back-to-school shopping. 

Now, I'm off to knit a chemo-cap for my mom's friend.  There might be a pattern from it, if I like how it comes out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Almost done!

This certainly isn't my best photo ever, but it will have to do for now.  We haven't found our camera's battery charger since we moved and the battery is I took advantage of the webcam and photo booth setting on the iMac. 

This is my completed Noro Silk Garden Sock pullover.  I went back and removed the original collar, and reknit it with natural instead of the color because I didn't care as much if the natural matched exactly, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to match up the cuffs exactly with the other colorway.  This step actually opened up the neckline a little bit for me and it's a more flattering fit.  I used just under two skeins of the natural (although I think I'll need to go into the third when I steek this and knit button bands), and 1.5 skeins of the rainbow.  I went for 3/4 sleeves, and 3 inch ribbing on the bottom.  From the armholes to the ribbing measures about 18 inches, and I knit the sleeves for 9 inches from the point where I picked them back up to knit. 

I found the most perfect red buttons for this sweater.  They bring out the red stripe perfectly.  After I finish my papers, I'll start working on the crocheted steek (courtesy of Eunny Jang's tutorial) and I'll make button bands.  I like the sweater (and I'm wearing it right now) but I know I'll get more use out of it if I can wear it as a cardigan.  I love this sweater so far, and I'm looking forward to finishing it and wearing it all through the summer and fall.  And, as an added bonus, I have an idea for what to do with the two extra skeins from this project, which is inspired by my outfit disaster from yesterday.  I have a really cute skirt that can be worn as a summer dress with a tube top, but I can't wear it without some type of little cardigan or shrug to cover the bra straps.  The only one I have looks like its too small and the whole outfit looks bad.  I thought a cute little stripped Noro shrug might just be the answer I've been looking for.  So, once I finish the projects and get this steeked, I'll cast on for that shrug and see how it comes out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The usual angst-ridden, final-project fueled, post

How many of these posts have I made you poor people read, already?!  Every 10 weeks there are more finals.  Every 10 weeks the sneak up on me and I find myself tired, stressed, and restless from sitting at the computer for hours and hours on end.  I want to go read a book.  I want to bake bread.  I want to knit something designed by someone else.  I want to find out what Cascade thinks of my latest proposal. 

Oh Cascade.  I've been knitting swatches for a week in hopes of being able to knit some small accessories for them, and I'm starting to second guess myself.  I mean, how can anyone still design anything new?!  Everything has been done before.  There's nothing new to do.  How many cables are there?  How many lace variations are there?  How many cute little triangle-half circle, garter-stitch, lace shawls are there?  I feel like anything I think of doing, it's already been done.  I've got designers block I guess.  And you know what?  I have a physical, pit-of-my-stomach, sinking feeling when I think about trying to design a sweater for someone who isn't me.  I want to do it.  I have about six sketches in my book right now.  I'm just flat out scared.  I don't know where to start.  I guess I really need to find the time to take a design class so I'll have some sort of direction, because I'm clearly not comfortable just winging it. 

I mean, I have an idea for a beautiful Aran sweater (two actually) but I just can't decide which cables to use, or where to put them, so that it won't look like a hundred other aran sweaters out there.  Would the fact that it's designed for tall women be enough to set it apart from the others?  Would it get lost in the shuffle?  And what about my colorwork hats and mittens?  Can I even break away from colorwork?  Am I capable of designing something with less than two different yarn colors?  Does it even matter if I can?  Will I be doing stranded socks, patterned tams, and mittens for the rest of my designing life?  Will I ever be able to design lace like I really want to?  Will I ever get a sweater off the ground? 

Maybe I just feel insecure right now because I'm literally in the middle of finals and its hot and I'm tired.  Maybe the life of a knitware designer is too unstable and its making me insecure.  Maybe I was drawn to this life because I'm already unstable.  Maybe I'll just design once in a while and put it out there on the chance that others might feel like knitting it too.  Maybe I'll just design for my own enjoyment and hope that I can make a few bucks on the side to help support my yarn habit.  Because sometimes I get really excited about a new design and I show that to someone (who's sold a few patterns to major companies and has pretty good pattern sales through the shop, so they know what they're talking about), and I don't care for the direction I get most of the time because it's about being more basic and bland and appealing to the general public (because that equals sales), but I like what I like and I don't want to design milquetoast, white-bread, plain-vanilla designs.  I just don't!  So, I struggle knowing that I won't get the sales I really want because my patterns won't appeal to the masses, but when I do basic basic designs I feel like I'm drowning.  Ah, there's the rub.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They love it!

I am a happy happy girl because the good people at Cascade Yarns received the blanket, and they loved it!  They said "it's stunning!".  Stunning!  I'm blown away, lol.  They also told me to send any other ideas their way, so I did.  I told them about the idea that I originally submitted to Twist Collective, and they asked me to send in the proposal because it's completely different from anything they have right now.  I'm really pumped about doing another design, and I really enjoyed working with them.  They even sent me a list of other yarns that they are looking for some accessories in, so I'm going to pull out the ol' sketch pad and see if I have anything right now that might work, or if I'll need to start brainstorming.  And thanks to the magic of Paypal, I received payment instantly (which is totally awesome since I got hit with a surprise service charge for transferring my cable service to our new apartment).  So, I guess this answers the question of what I'll be working on next, lol.

In other news, Alex had a minor outpatient procedure today to help with the pain and irritation he's been dealing with since March (you know...we thought it was a bladder infection but it was something different).  He had to fast before surgery (which wasn't until 10am so you know that wasn't a popular decision), and he took it like a champ.  He got to pick out what color his pajamas were, and he got to drive in a motorized car (like Power Wheels) of his choosing to the operating room.  He picked out a mask that smelled like bubble gum (for the gas), and I held him on my lap until he went out.  Then the hubby and I went down to the cafeteria to eat something (because when babies fast...parents fast).  We no sooner sat down and took a bite when they called us to say he was already done!  That meant I still didn't get to eat, lol, and I had to go up and hold him for about another hour in the recovery room.  We came home with three prescriptions and went strait to Subway and Dunkin Donuts to feed the boy.  He's doing great and isn't feeling any pain (thanks to the nerve block they gave him).  As a matter of fact, he was numb all day and when he was starting to come to he asked if it was still there because he couldn't feel it, lol! 

So now it's bed time and we're cleaning up.  I'm off to study for my final projects this week, and wait patiently for Cascade to tell me what they think about my latest idea.  I'll keep you all posted, and I'll be sure to let you know when the pattern for the blanket goes live.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Just In...

Do you see this?  Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed fame listed my Quilt & Cable blanket as a favorite on Ravelry!!

Can you believe it!  The number of people viewing the project page has jumped enormously just since yesterday.  This really makes me feel better about myself, as a knitter and a designer (especially after receiving my second rejection from an online knitting magazine).  I'm starting to understand that there is a lot of hit-or-miss with these things, and I'm sure that designers of Jared's caliber must have gone through this same process.  Anyway, the validation feels fantastic!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quilt & Cable Blanket, for Cascade Yarns

I'm so happy to finally announce that my blanket is done!  It turned out more beautiful than I imagined it to be.  And by complete chance, it also turned out to be reversable!  Who knew.  At the end of the day, I ended up using most of four skeins of Cascade Eco Wool to knit this giant.  The finished demensions (while blocking) were 52"x64", and it covered the majority of my queen-sized bed.

This blanket could easily be knit in Cascade 128 as well, if you need to be able to wash it in a machine, but wool stays pretty clean and it probably wouldn't need to be washed more than once a season.  I washed this one in my tub.

This is a shot of the pattern in detail.  The quilted appearance is done with a neat little cable-wrap that I worked out just for this project.  This is only done every so often, and the rest of the piece is knit in 2x2 ribbing.  It's great t.v. knitting.

This is a shot of the pattern, on the wrong-side of the blanket.  It turned out to be just as pretty as the front! 

So, the blanket is finished.  I provided photographic evidence.  I now have to format the pattern and ship it away to California.  Stay tuned for info on when the pattern will be available through Cascade Yarns.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I bought more yarn...

Like I needed to do that, right?  And I could give all the same arguments that we all use... 'it was a great price', or 'I've had my eye on this yarn for a long time', or 'this yarn is perfect for this project I've been wanting to make'.  We all know the justifications.  We're all guilty of using them.  I have no excuses, other than I had a huge store credit and I couldn't use it on anything non-knitting related (and I really DID have my eye on all that yarn for a long time).  To admit my guilt, I went on Ravelry and added it all to my stash with photos.  Lets just say I have several Silk Garden Sock sweaters planned.

Oh, and I heard back from the Twist Collective regarding my submission.  Unfortunately I didn't make it in.  I really thought this one had a chance but there is limited space and way more submissions than they can fit into an issue.  Fortunately, I think it's a strong submission and I think it might make it in to another publisher so I'm going to tweak it a bit and try again.  There's still time to make a few major magazine's Winter issues.  And worst case, I'll just put it out on my own.  So although I'm a bit sad that I didn't make it this time, I'll just go look at some of my other ideas and see if there's something else in there that could be the ticket.  And I'll also be taking a close look at the awesome designs that made the cut to see what types of things caught the publisher's eye.  Thankfully, I have a giant pile of Noro yarn sitting in my apartment that's inspiring me :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guess who's turning 5 today!

Happy birthday Alex!!
Today, plans include taking in a movie, going to play with the best-buddy, eating tons of junk, going to dinner, and hitting the toy store to pick out a brand new Thomas the Tank Engine train set.  Unfortunately with everything that's been going on, I was too distracted to plan a birthday party.  Of course when he got up (at 5:45am I might ad...) he wanted to know where all his birthday people were, to which I replied "in bed...where YOU should be...  So the plan is to go out and find him some birthday people.  If we run into you in the street, be prepared to hear all about how it's his birthday (and what ever else pops into his brain).  Oh, and we'll be taking the camera with us to document the fun in photograph form.