Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On My Needles (October)

This morning I was knitting in gray.

My morning knitting began with a few rows of my Boardwalk pullover by Heidi Kirrmaier in the "Sweatshirt" colorway of Brooklyn Tweed Loft.

I set that down, and I worked a couple rows of my latest Baa-ble Hat, designed by Donna Smith, in Berocco Ultra Alpaca. The hat ribbing is in the (now discontinued) "Gneiss" colorway.

I set that down, and considered how hard it is to knit only in gray in the middle of winter.

I will be knitting in full color by February. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October Class Swatching... The Baable Hat

I will be teaching a couple of classes at Gosh Yarn It! in Kingston, Pennsylvania this fall. The first will be this Saturday, October 22. (I know it is short notice, but there are still a couple of seats left.) The official title of this class is: "THE BAA-BLE HAT: Tips & Techniques for Stranded Knitting with Carolyn Kern".

The project for the class is the Baable Hat which was designed by Donna Smith for Shetland Wool Week 2015. It became the #1 queued pattern on Ravelry last year, with over 5600 projects posted. The pattern is written using an unusually tight gauge for a worsted/aran weight yarn, though; and many knitters ended up with hats that were larger than they expected.

The bad news is that I learned all of this after I agreed to make a GYI shop sample and teach a class. For my sample, I had to go down from the suggested US size 7 needle to a US size 3. The good news is that this gave me a brand new direction from which to teach a stranded colorwork class.

In the class we will be making a colorwork gauge swatch that simulates working in the round. We will review two-handed stranded colorwork technique, and I will demonstrate making a two color pompom with a Clover pompom maker. I plan to suggest a number of choices the students have to modify the pattern (such as those used by Susan B Anderson). There is no doubt that we will also talk about the newly released Baable cowl and mitten pattern by Donna Smith.

My sample colorwork swatch:

For this kind of a swatch (known as a speed swatch*) you knit all rows from right to left like you are working in the round. The yarn has to be carried behind the work for each row. This is what it looks like from the back.

*There is a reason for the name "speed swatch". Please join me in class this Saturday to learn more.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

BRADAN: My Kelbourne Woolens Arranmore Color Story

In recent years some of my newest favorite yarns (here, here and here) have come from Kelbourne Woolens, who are headquartered in a part of Philadelphia that I am beginning to know very well. (It is exactly that part of Philadelphia where both of my young adult children now live.)

Kelbourne Woolens = Courtney Kelley + Kate Gagnon Osborn. They distribute The Fibre Co unique artisan yarns and Kelbourne Woolens patterns and notions worldwide.

The newest 'The Fibre Co' yarn is Arranmore...
"Inspired by the breathtaking scenery of Ireland's Northern Headlands, Arranmore is spun in a mill that traces its roots to the tweed industry of 19th century County Donegal. Blending cashmere and silk with fine merino wool created an authentic tweed yarn of the finest quality. With a color palette reminiscent of the wild Irish coastlands, this aran weight yarn was designed for makers appreciating the best of luxury and tradition."
Arranmore (80% wool, 10% cashmere, 10% silk) comes in 18 colors, each one "evoking the Irish landscape, language, and history." In this post (a beautiful color story) by Courtney, she asked the question:
"Is there a color that surprised you, or one that you're dying to knit with that isn't in your usual comfort zone? Get inspired to try something new. In the comments on the blog, let us know which of the colors speaks to you, and we'll choose one winner to receive a skein of their choice of color and a copy of our Lacroagh hat!"
I am now "a designer", and sometimes, I let that hold me back from entering contests. But this time (you know how I love color) I thought it OK (quoting Courtney a bit at the end) to say:
"Congratulations on so very many amazing colors with so very many interesting color names and color stories!!! My easy favorites are River Esque, Narin Beach and St Claire. They all sit front and center in my comfort zone. But, I love color, and I LOVE your question about what color surprised me and could be a new one that I would love to knit with...
That is BRADAN... "an Irish Gaelic word meaning 'salmon'"... the "'Salmon of Knowledge' creature" and "a wise man that was transformed into a salmon"... ♥♥♥" 
I won that contest. The yarn is here, and I do love the color Bradan!

♥♥♥  Now off I go to get my ball winder and start swatching...


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sticking with Summer

I must confess that I have been holding on to summer.

Thompson River Socks "Yarn Test" Swatch

It's never been easier.

For all of Summer 2016 the temperatures have been above normal.  It has been particularly warm and humid for this first part of September.

We vacationed in South Carolina very late in the summer -- eight days of mostly clear skies -- heavenly.  Taking a vacation in late August made me feel like we were just then in the middle of summer.  I have been holding on to that feeling.

Beach Knitting (Secret Project)

My "day job" work projects have allowed me to work out of my home for the last several months.  Though nearby schools have been in session since the week before labor day, I have yet to see a single school bus on the road anywhere.  (The closest school bus stop is a half mine from my home.) 

I have no young children and I am not on any kind of a school-year schedule these days.

I have mentioned before that I love the warmer parts of the year.  They are also the brightest parts of the year. 

For just a little longer you will find me sticking with summer. 

Truthfully, though, we are forecast to have more normal temps this next week I will be spending some time writing class descriptions for October and November knitting classes that I will teach at my LYS.  (I will share that and some of my newest knitting soon.)

 I expect that I will be seeing my first school bus one day very soon...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Thompson River Socks, IK Fall 2016

I am so pleased to have my Thompson River Socks included in the recently released INTERWEAVE KNITS, Fall 2016... the 20TH ANNIVERSARY issue!!!

A few of the 20 designs in the issue were created by past and present Interweave editors including Pam Allen, Lisa Shroyer, Hannah Baker, and Meghan Babin. Several others are by star designers: Michele Wang, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Kathy Zimmerman, Mary Jane Mucklestone and Susanna IC. I have to pinch myself to make sure that it's not just a dream to have had my own design selected to be a part of this amazing issue!

Thompson River Socks first began when I wanted to make (myself) a pair of socks using my favorite toe-up construction, but with a less boring stitch pattern than my (go-to) TATU Sock. I planned (and began a sock) with a cable panel at the center of the front and back, gansey stitch patterning on the sides, and a band of colowork at the top... all to make for a fun to knit pair of socks.

Knits editor, Meghan Babin, mentioned worsted weight socks in her IK Fall 2016 design call. In my submission, I offered my design in worsted weight sock yarn in three sizes.

When she replied to my submission, Meghan said she would love two pairs of "cozy, worsted weight" sample socks... "It would be adorable to photograph his and hers socks." How could I refuse? Here is a sneak-peek photo-collage Meghan posted on Instagram, a couple weeks ago.

I enjoyed all of the swatching and all of the knitting as I wrote the pattern last winter.

The yarn is Jarbo Garn Raggi Sock Yarn [70% wool, 30% nylon], distributed by Swedish Yarn. The socks, knit on US size 3 (3.25 mm) needles, are warm and cozy... close enough fitting to wear in a boot, but soft and slouchy enough to become your favorite slipper sock. At only 36-52 stitches around the cuff, and with cables and colorwork to keep you engaged, Thompson River Socks are a fun, fast knit! 

All of the patterns in INTERWEAVE KNITS, Fall 2016 are available for digital download, with links on Ravelry. The digital edition of the magazine can be found at IK Fall 2016.

Print editions are now available in bookshops and yarn stores everywhere!

Photo Credit, all but last photo:  © Harper Point Photography and Interweave Knits 2016.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Continuing "Sparks" & Swatches

I re-wrote my last post many times before I published it.

It was a little bit agonizing, because I was trying to be honest about what I am not so good at; yet, I also tried to write a post that was (at least a little bit) worth reading.

As I wrote that post, I was reminded that I DO like to write about my design "sparks" and my swatches. A few of those posts have actually been my most popular.

My friend, Ann, took this photo of me wearing my first design sample for my new summer top.

Not so bad. I was "pleased" with the way this turned out. I have named it Pinstripe Box-Top #1. The shaping and sizing came out as planned.


Alchemy Yarns, Silken Straw [100% silk], 153c - Spider Orchid
my yarn and it's color, were my real design "sparks". I first shared this photo with discussion of the colorway, Spider Orchid, in my Early Spring post.

For me the colors drew a comparison to the blue spruce trees (which have lightened in color with the heat of summer) in my front yard.

Not long after I decided that I wanted stripes on my summer top, I walked into Gosh Yarn It and I saw a great little yarn for my blue spruce stripes. I quickly knit the swatches in the first photo.

ITO, Gima 8.5 [100% cotton], 408 - Aqua

I am considering my Pinstripe Box-Top a prototype, and I am planning to make another with some Shibui, Pebble in my stash. I have made a bit of progress this spring and summer getting to a point where I can finally release a garment pattern.

I leave you with an image of the neckline and armhole details.


I hope your knitting of late has also been rewarding, enjoyable and successful! ♥♥♥

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Hat's on Me (Part 2)

I wear many hats as a knitting pattern designer.

The last part of every design release is what I tend to think of as "THE PROMOTION" and I need to get better at it.

(worn by me)

There are very many steps to writing knitting patterns...

1) THE SPARK!!! Some of my more popular blog posts describe design "sparks" and are worth revisiting:

Tartan Mitts Spark
Rosebud: My "Spark" & My Design Proposal
The Spark & The Reinvention: Opulent Cowl
Wearing m
y spark hat is all about creativity.  It is one of my favorite parts.

2) THE SWATCHING:  On occasion, the design begins with the yarn or a swatch made from the yarn... a swatch becomes my spark.
At other times, a "spark" leads to a swatch.
I have posted about swatching as well:

Some Things I Like
More of the Same 
I like to think of swatching as my R&D (Research & Development).  It is another of my favorite parts.

3) SKETCHES & SCHEMATICS and very often CHARTING:  Planning the design sample and how it will be made.

4) PATTERN ROUGH DRAFT WRITING & SAMPLE KNITTING:  The design sample gets made at this point... I write (most) parts of the pattern as I go. Sometimes I stop and do math, and sometimes I make new sketches. 

5) PATTERN WRITINGWith my finished sample and all of my notes and sketches around me, I write my "first best possible draft".
These last three steps can be challenging, but I love bringing my "sparks" to life.

6) THE TECH EDIT:  I send my "first best possible draft" to my tech editor. My tech editor sends it back to me with at least one million edits. (Oh, my!) We send emails back and forth until we agree on all the edits.  (I always agree on most of them.)

7) PHOTOGRAPHY:  This is something I have been getting better at, but I still have a lot to learn. My models (recruited friends and family) work for free. Scheduling photo shoots (and locations) in various weather conditions can be a very bumpy process with prolonged delays.

8) FORMATTING:  In which I put the edited pattern and the edited photos together in a PDF document.
These last three steps are never easy, but I accept them as part of the process of pattern writing, and I have enjoyed learning more about them. 

9) RELEASING THE PATTERN:  Uploading my formatted and edited PDF pattern to Ravelry where I sell it. Then (the PROMOTION begins as) I create a pattern page on Ravelry with some release announcements in appropriate forums.

10) PATTERN PROMOTION:  This includes a blog post (here) and posts in some other social media places. (Right now I use Instagram and Pinterest.) I need to do more.

My last two patterns, JUST CHILLIN' and DOT ON, were also test knitted in a June Hat KAL at my LYS, Gosh Yarn It. I was grateful for that. I gave away several copies of each pattern for the KAL, which I do not regret.

Then I gave away even more hat patterns through an offer in a recent post, The Hat's on Me (Part 1). That was a promotional giveaway. But it has not helped me in selling any patterns. I kind of think it is better to get paid a fair price for my work. Next time I will stick to an introductory discount.     

My promotional hat is not my favorite.  (It does not fit me so well.)
I need to learn how to create ads on Ravelry and I need to figure out if it would be a good idea to sell patterns in other places. Indie knitting pattern designers I know of also sell on Craftsy, Etsy and Patternfish.  Do you ever buy patterns in any of those places?

I'm really hoping for a comment or two! Thanks for reading!