Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guess who passed her finals?! lol

As if I needed to answer that question ;)

I just finished registering for my December courses, and confirmed with my advisor that I passed this term's classes at 99% and 100% for the term!  Who's a smarty-pants!  lol.  Now I'm registered for intro to forensic psychology and juvenile delinquency.  I'm really excited about these classes.  I've been interested in forensic psychology for a while, and now I get to use my remaining electives to take a few classes in criminal justice.  (and on a side note, I just want to state for the record that I spelled 'forensic' and 'juvenile' correctly on my own the first time, without needing to use the spell check!)  This, my dear long-suffering readers, means that I have one core class left for my ABA requirement, four electives, and my capstone left, and I will be walking away with a Bachelors degree in Psychology with special emphasis in Child Development and Applied Behavior Analysis!  And I won't be qualified to do a whole lot with it, because there isn't much one can do with a bachelors in psychology, lol.  However, I will have finally finished my 16-year college degree (and made my parents proud), I'm qualified to deal with my son's special education department, and I can work in a classroom if I take a special test and get some classroom hours under my belt.  But what I'm most likely going to do is to go enroll at URI or Rhode Island College, and start working on my Masters degree.

Now, for what you came here for:  knitting!
I've nearly finished my Takoma.  I actually finished my shawl collar, and when I was done, I hated it.  It has nothing to do with the actual design.  I just have some sort of block when it comes to executing a traditional shawl collar, and each time I try to do it, it just doesn't look right.  After two days of hand-hurting work, I ripped it all out.  Instead, I'm subbing the technique used on the Emerald sweater (the one I wear every day, so I know that I like the collar).  I think that using the same 2x2 ribbing along the collar will look better, since the hem and cuffs are knit that way, and I like the overall shape better.  I just finished the button holes, and I'm getting ready to start the actual short-row shaping soon!  Then I'll put on sleeves, and wear this baby within an inch of it's life.

In other knitting news, I'm working on socks for all three of my boys, and it's killing me because at least on of them is home and awake at all times!  I only have so many sets of 2.5mm needles!  So I've been taking Aaron's set with me to work to knit on during class, and I started Alex's, which I work on after he goes to bed.  I just would the yarn for Dante's and I'll have to knit those after he goes to bed as well.  Thank goodness I'll be working on the crocheted skirt, because I'll need something to do when everyone is home and awake, lol.

Oh, and in interesting news...my photo made the Berroco Blog.  Normally that would be exciting, except that I was wearing prototypes for two of my pending designs and someone snapped a photo without my knowledge...and put it up on the blog so now, my designs have been 'published online' and are no longer eligible to be submitted to any of the major publishers.  I feel bad about this for two reasons.  First, I've had the hat test knit but the mitts are mid-test right now and I've made everyone promise to keep them offline (which they have...since March!), and then I somehow manage to get caught wearing the only hat that fits my giant head, and ruin it myself.  Second, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this design, but I wanted the option of submitting the pattern elsewhere, because I'm still pretty small potatoes and my indi-releases don't reach a very large audience right now.  I had higher hopes for these babies, but never fear.  I've arranged for a photo shoot, and I'll get cracking on the matching cowl, and then I'll release them on my own.  Maybe when I launch my freshly branded blog, with matching etsy page? lol.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Great Design Project: part 1

Welcome to one of the scariest things I've done yet as a knitter, blogger, and designer: The Great Design Project.  This is going to be a series of posts related to my lasts design idea.  I submitted this design to be included in a fantastic project, but it didn't quite fit with the other designs.  And that's okay!  So I decided that since I love this project, I'd take this opportunity to show what I go through from the first step in the process, all the way to design completion.  This is the first part, and I'd love if you followed along until this is all done :)  Keep in mind that the way I work in no way reflects the way that all (or even most) designers work...it's just what works for me.  So, lets get started

This is a sketch of my baby.  It's a crocheted skirt.  I got the idea when I was working on a swatch for a baby blanket.  I wasn't in love with the colors that I had available to me, so I went to the shop and found a pretty heathered-brown.  When I started doing my 3rd swatch, I thought "this would make a fantastic skirt!", and I ended up shaping my swatch like a mini-skirt.  It was so cute! 

The pattern is simple, and and easily customizable.  I put a great deal of the work into the conception of the idea (for the proposal packet) and I've decided that it will be worked top down, to allow the wearer to more easily adjust the length.  I've also decided on what I feel to be a pretty good range of sizes.  Unlike most of the knitted skirt patterns I've come across, the sizes increase two inches at a time because it's been my experience that crochet has less horizontal give than knitting does.

So, now that I have a few swatches, and a sketch, and a range of sizes with a general idea of how I plan to approach this baby...what's next?  Well, this is where I start working on a prototype, and taking some good notes.  The prototype is simply that; a prototype.  The finished garment can very quite a bit, or not at all from the original concept, because sometimes designers run into issues that work fine in a one-off situation but will never work out when it needs to be duplicated in multiple sizes.  I've experienced this before, and probably will again.  That being said, I'm off to go crochet a few more swatches and get some ideas of row gauge to go with my stitch gauge, and then I'll come back with more photos and an idea of what worked, what didn't, and where I'm headed next.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

me standing in socks, and Norah in 3" heels, lol
This Thanksgiving, I'm really thankful for the fact that my finals were last week, rounding into this week, and finishing up on Tuesday, because I can have a school-work free Thanksgiving this year!  I don't have to leave my MIL's early because I had a major homework assignment due (like last year, or the year before).  I also finished my homework early enough that I had time to scoot down to Slater Mill on Tuesday night to meet Norah Gaughan!  That's right.  This is me...standing with my arm around NORAH GAUGHAN!!  An up-and-coming designer, standing right next to one of the most prolific and talented designers of ALL TIME.  Maybe some will rub off on me :)

This holiday season I'm looking forward to spending time in my kitchen with Alex.  He loves to help me (although sometimes it's not quite as much help as he thinks it is).  I'm going to bake cookies today with my new Pampered Chef stoneware cookie sheet.  I'm going to make mashed potatoes with goat milk/butter so I can eat them.  I'm going to make candied yams with the mini marshmallows and brown sugar :)  And if I can find the energy...I'll be making a pumpkin pie with coconut cream instead of condensed milk so I can eat that too!  Oh, and at some point in time I have to put my vegetarian pot pie in the oven so it'll be warm when I go to my MIL's :)  See... I'm a considerate vegetarian, and I come to holiday events with my own main course so the chef doesn't have to sweat over what I can eat ;)

Now, I'm gonna go knit the rest of my Takoma sleeve, on my couch, sitting next to all of my boys...who are all awake at 8:57am for once.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Off to a rocky start, lol.

So, last night after I finally quit working on my final projects for the evening (the ones due today by 11:59pm...that still arent' finished...and I'm typing this blog instead of working on them...yeah, those), I sat down and finished my second sleeve for Takoma.  The 3rd chart section looked a little odd, and I kept looking at it trying to figure out why it seemed different, but I just kept happily working on it and after binding off, I laid it next to the 1st sleeve, and found this mess.  Really?!?  Really.  So I guess I get to spend another day ripping all the way back to that part and reknitting it in the correct color combo, cause there's just no way I can get away with leaving the sleeve like that, lol.  Oh well.  Chalk it up to user error.

In other news, I heard back already on one of the submission I sent out and unfortunately they did not choose to use my design.  They were very kind, letting me know that they loved my work, and hope to work with me on a future project.  They just got so many submissions for this project, and lots of them were the same type of project I'd submitted (but mine is crocheted and the project actually says "knits" in the title so I'm assuming they put priority on knit designs, which makes perfect sense and I would have done the same).  To be honest, I don't even know if they were accepting crocheted designs (the submission call didn't say) so I was taking a risk by sending it out, but what's the worst that can happen?... they say 'no'?  Well, they said 'no', and I feel okay with that.  Maybe it's because I've really thought this project through, and I created my strongest submission yet so I know I did my best work and I'm proud of it.  So I know that not being chosen wasn't personal.  I can see it from a business perspective, and I get it.   And maybe it's because I'm an independent designer and I have another option for it :) 

So, with that in mind, I've decided to give you all a glimpse into what I go through as a designer to get a design written, a sample knit (or crocheted in this case) and tested, and to get it promoted.  It's an "all access backstage pass" if you will.  Keep in mind, this is only my process, and other designers may work in a totally different (and more efficient, or logical) way.  I'll be working on this design over the next month or so, (with breaks for Holiday Knitting and the inevitable school work), and sharing it all with you!  So enjoy, and try not to judge too harshly, lol.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This post is brought to you by lack of sleep

It's finals again so you know what that means.  No sleep.  Staying up later than necessary and getting up earlier than necessary because Alex gets the roosters up.  Surfing the web when I should be researching for a paper.  And blogging. 

So what's new around here?  Nothing really.  I'm knitting more projects that I can count.  I've got a few designs kicking around too.  I've got several repair projects (including the one where the woman complained about the finished results for a sweater that was literally missing an elbow, and the one where the lady had to come get it and take it to be cleaned because it was infested with moth eggs).  I've got research to do for my hubby's side project.  And I've got family holiday knitting.

My boys traditionally (for the last 2 years, lol) get a pair of knit socks for Christmas.  This year I've got other guys who need to get in on the act and I don't have a lot of time.  I started a pair with Berroco Sox in a blue faux fair-isle pattern that's boring me to tears.  Dante selected the skein in the summer, and then Aaron said he liked it so I started knitting the sock.  Turns out that neither of them actually love the resulting sock (and I don't either) so on Wednesday night I broke down and bought a skein of Mountain Colors Crazyfoot in Harmony Starlight...cause it GORGEOUS!  I decided to use that for Aaron's socks and knit the Sox for Dante, but when I showed the Crazyfoot to Dante to see what he thought, he really liked it too.  So now I think I've got to drop another 23 bucks and get a skein for Dante too!  I tell ya...every time I try to knit from my stash, it doesn't work out.  Why do I even HAVE a stash!?

Now, in other knitting news, I'm finishing the first of the Takoma sleeves today and feeling pretty good about the progress on my sweater.  One more to go and I'll get to cut the steeks!  Also, I'm not sure if I'm going to get around to knitting the sweater for Alex's little girlfriend.  It's just too much work this close to Christmas. 

And finally, I'm having the usual issues with Dante's school and the teacher's lack of understanding regarding how to help students with ADHD to be successful in class.  His grades are terrible this quarter and when I spoke to some of the teachers, they acted like they didn't understand why he couldn't just write down his homework like other students because "it's listed on the board for the whole week" or "I tell them to exchange emails with other students so they can check their assignments" or "all my freshmen email me to ask questions if they need to".  Did anyone remind him of that?...cause the other schools didn't bother to teach him any problem solving or study skills or time-management.  Would it kill you to say "homework is on the board...write it down" or "a major assignment is due on Tuesday...remember to get it done"?  So what's a mom left to do when it's clear that her child's school (which...I kid you not...looks like a prison on the inside) can't handle his education?  The school that's failed to meet statewide standards for the last 3 years in a row?  Well, I'll tell you.  If his grades don't improve this next quarter, then I'll be picking up some financial aid forms from the local private school, and contacting some homeschooling companies to consider the options.  His school isn't going to get any better, and I'm not going to let this stand, so I'll have to let you know when I know what my options are and what my next move is gonna be.  Meanwhile, I'll be over here doing my final projects and knitting socks.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Breaking blog silence

How many pictures does it take to get one that looks good?!
I'm so darn tired!  This is nothing new, you say...and you're correct.  I've worked extra shifts in the last week, finished a test-knit, and repaired two garments for customers.  I've had my hands full in class every week for the last month.  I've been trying to wrangle my grocery budget and cook something warm for my guys to eat every night (because my plans for left-overs keep getting upset by the appetites of two growing boys).  Finals are fast approaching.  I have three more repair jobs to do.  I have a pattern in the midst of being test-knit, and another being totally overhauled (more on that in a minute).  I have holiday knits to try to squeeze in, and my 5-year old has asked me to knit a sweater for his girlfriend (yes, you read that right...) who he loves.  I'm gonna have to watch this one like a hawk when he gets older, lol.

And that pattern I'm overhauling?  That pattern never had a real sample, which might be one reason why it only ever sold one copy.  I decided that I needed to knit the sample myself, and now that I'm looking back at the pattern, I'm wondering what exactly I was smoking when I wrote this!  It's a mess.  I've changed the format and updated the charts with the fantastic Intwined Pattern Studio software, but I've designed a unisex-sock for men and women, so I'm having to make some serious adjustments to the pattern as I go.  Right now I'm knitting the men's size because The Boy needs a new pair and I need to make a men's pair anyway so I've decided to make these his holiday pair of handknit socks.  I know it sounds terrible, but I have to make him a pair anyway and what the heck am I going to do with these after they're done?  So they go to him and I kill two birds with one stone.  I'm looking forward to finishing this pattern and then I'll relaunch it and do a little advertising to help it along :)

Meanwhile, I finished my Julissa test-knit and I just love this sweater!  I've worn it three times already!  And who knew that 3/4 sleeves would actually be functional in New England.  I loved every minute of this sweater and I finished it in 18 days (which I know because I was totally monogamous to this sweater, lol).  I only added 1/2 inch to the sleeves before starting my decreases and to be honest, that was a total accident because I was happily knitting along and didn't feel like going back to pull it out.  I also waited to start my increases after I'd covered my bust, but other than that I knit the sweater exactly as written.  I only used 3 1/2 skeins of Tonos Worsted to knit the 36.5" size.  And I know that I haven't posted any decent photos yet, but the weather hasn't cooperated so as soon as I can, I'll have the hubby take some.  So, if you're tall or busty or simply looking for a super sexy sweater to knock 'em dead in, then go get the pattern!

Now, back to my Takoma.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I may have bitten off more than I can chew

Alex's mittens knit by his Momma :)
Today I submitted a design proposal for inclusion in the Librarian Knits book.  I can't say much about it, except that it's an honest-to-goodness garment and it's crocheted.  Two things I've never done before.  I've never designed a garment, at least one that'll be written in multiple sizes and was intended to be worn by anyone other than myself.  And I've never designed in crochet before, although I learned to crochet when I was about 10-years old and I've been doing that far longer than I've been knitting.

There were just so many things to be considered with this.  Yarns.  Sizing!  I can't begin to tell you the headache I dealt with just deciding on the measurements, and I can tell you that I'm definitely going to need help from a tech editor to grade this baby.  Sketches.  I'm not the best artist (as I've recently mentioned) and unfortunately, I couldn't simply knit a tiny version of my design and call it a day.  I actually had to sketch the garment and put it on an illustrated lady with a pretty blouse and makeup and pearls.  I had to take photos of the sketch and the of the swatches.  Thankfully, I'd finished the swatches weeks ago.  Then there was the dreaded Schematic.  This time I used Photoshop to make it, and it came out much nicer.  I'm definitely learning my way around these Adobe Illustrator programs :)  Then, I made sure to use a nice, pretty, easy to read font and to check out the PDF before sending it off into the ether.

I've got confirmation that it was received, and now I wait.  So what's the worst thing that could happen, you ask?  Well, maybe they say no (and I'm prepared for that).  I'll sulk for a while, and then go back and look at Jared Flood's Ravelry fav's and find my Quilt and Cable blanket there, and I'll feel better ;)  Or maybe they say yes... then I'd actually have to pull this thing off!  I have no idea if I can make this work within the deadline, but I think I can do it.  I don't know if I can afford to use a tech-editor, but I've got a few good testers on hand and if I do most of the work ahead of time, I can cut down the amount of time they need to put in and that will save me some money.  Or maybe the publisher will have an editor that they use and I won't have to come up with the cash for that...  And what if Interweave accepts my proposal too??  Then I'd have one project/pattern due in February and one in March, and neither would see the light of day until the Fall of 2012.  All that work, and nothing I can blog about for months and months!

So now, we wait.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

So much work, so little I can show

 I've been working my little fingers to the bone.  I've pulled extra hours at work.  I've had classes full to capacity for the last few weeks.  I've had school work (which I should be doing right now instead of typing this post).  I've had repair projects, and I've had my Julissa test-knit.

I just love this pattern.  The only change I've made was to lower the placement of the decrease section.  Otherwise I've knit this pattern as written, and it was long enough for my very tall body.  To prove that I've been knitting, and to give you something to look at, I had to take these awful bathroom-mirror shots of me in the sweater :)  Alex tried to help, but I had to delete those photos because they look like a 5-year old took them, lol...cause one did. 
Now, there has been lots of knitting and writing and schematic making and over-night mailing going on around here, and unfortunately I can't show you any of it.  But I can say that I did it again, even though I swore I would never do it again.  What is 'it', you ask?  I submitted another design to Interweave Knits for their 2012 Holiday issue.  I saw the call for submission and figured I'd just take a look to see what they were looking for.  Then I thought, "I have a cute stranded mitten design that I've been kicking around for like...a year.  I'll work up a swatch and send it out". 

Fast forward several weeks, and I realized on Wednesday that the deadline was fast approaching (Monday) and that I still hadn't knit my swatch.  Then I worked all Wed, and Thurs, and part of Friday.  I came home and started swatching on Thursday night and after working on it for a while, I went back to my computer file and realized that the design wasn't what I'd originally planned and I wasn't sure if I liked it as much.  Then I scrolled through some of my older stuff and found three super cute designs for children that I loved and I'd been waiting for the right opportunity to use them.  I took another look at the submission call and realized that this fit another category better than my original idea did, and that I had a stronger submission with this new idea so I changed my mind and started something totally different about 12 hours before I had to hit the post office.

I couldn't decide on which of my three ideas to send them, so I just knit as fast as I possibly could and sent them all.  I'm not the best artist when it comes to sketches, so I decided to skip that step and simply knit my swatch in the shape of the intended garment.  They were mini-versions of what they would eventually be, and I put all the details on (including buttons and embroidery) so they should really impress then they get there.  I also think I wrote a stronger submission proposal and everything was much neater and labeled clearly.  I definitely learned from my first go at this.  One thing I didn't learn last time (but I did this time) is to pay closer attention to those submission dates so I can avoid dropping 18 bucks to overnight something (especially when I don't know if I'll even get in). 

So now my little babies are zipping their way through the mail to the good folks at Interweave Press and I'm going to forget all about them because I know from prior experience that I won't hear a thing about them for months and months :)  Thankfully, I have lots of other ideas to work on and I'll be too busy to think much about them.  And who knows...with three ideas, they're bound to like at least one of them, right?