Thursday, February 26, 2015

It Works Both Ways

Just a quick post to let you know that I am still here.

I resumed work on my Rosebud Hat project right after I finished some knit samples that will one day appear in a book.

This day began as most days do... knitting with my first cup of coffee for as long as I was able.  I finished the knitted hem in the hat this morning.

After showering I put on my workday jeans and a long sleeved steely blue colored tee shirt.  I then carried my selected sweater for the day, my comfy gray cashmere cardigan, out to the living room and placed it down next to my knitting while I put on my shoes.

With these items nearby I had a most pleasant thought... one that is all about my memory and my history and is probably a Colorwork Meditation in itself.

I have long remembered... and have been know to speak of this memory from one day in my very first art course at college... The professor asked us to select one pastel of any color from our box of pastels.  He then asked everyone to raise their hand who selected a pastel matching the color that they were wearing.  We were all surprised that at least two thirds of the class had raised their hands.  (Including me in green.)

Today I decided it works both ways, when after knitting for an hour in blue and gray, I selected those colors to wear.  (And even though it is a fact that I wear a lot of blue and gray I had considered a brown sweater before I carried the gray one out to my living room.)

And anyway, you do know it made me happy to think about it working both ways, right?  Color can make me happy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Pieces

One day last week, I finished knitting all of the pieces for my "Everyday Sweater".  I blocked them in my usual way:  I hand-washed them and laid them out to dry on towels.  You can see that blocking has greatly reduced, but not totally eliminated, the natural tendency of stockinette stitch to curl.  I could flatten the pieces a bit more by steam pressing them, but I do not think it necessary.  Seaming will be next, followed by I-cord bind-off to finish the edges, and finally the insertion of a zipper.  Depending on my time and the winter light, I hope to share some photos.  

The pattern is "Cuirassier's Cardigan" by Emma Welford from the recent Winter 2014 Knitscene magazine.  I am using an old standby kind of a yarn:  Cascade 200 in navy.  This project is an attempt to knit a sweater that I can and really will wear everyday.  Over the years, I have made a great number of sweaters that I have rarely worn.  I would like to have a few that actually fit within my everyday workday wardrobe.  My goal for my next couple of sweaters will be wearability.  Time will tell if I am successful.

Meanwhile, how about a sneak peek of a design that my daughter has requested?

Unfortunately, the first "prototype" for this design has the wrong fit, and requires a complete "do over".  Not all bad, because I am always knitting anyway, and fortunately it is not a very large piece.  The yarns that my daughter selected from my stash include some navy Cascade 220 (I did say it was an old standby) in a different dye lot from my newer navy sweater yarn.

I have one more stack of pieces to show you.

It has been a couple of months since I finished knitting all the pieces for my "Unnamed Henley".  The pattern is "Sapwood" by Amy Herzog available at Twist Collective.  The yarn: Louet Gems Sport Weight.

I had been saving the finishing work on this project for the purpose of teaching finishing classes (at Gosh Yarn It!) but they were canceled (student sign-ups were below the shop's class minimum).  Perhaps they might be rescheduled; but either way, I do plan to create some tutorial posts during the finishing of this one.  The color is lighter and brighter than the navy, and this one involves some buttons and buttonholes.

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on these pieces, or on finishing, or on classes that you would like to take.  I would love to hear from you!  Thanks!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Colorwor Meditation #13

"I fell in love with black, it contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colors. Black is the most aristocratic color of all.... You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing."        ~ Louise Nevelson


Sky Cathedral/Southern Mountain, Louise Nevelson, 1958


"Women think of all colors except the absence of color.  I have said that black has it all.  White, too.  Their beauty is absolute.  It is perfect harmony."        ~  Coco Channel



“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."   ~  Henry Ford


“I’ve been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colors was black.” — Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Read more at: | Sensational Color
“I’ve been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colors was black.” — Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Read more at: | Sensational Color


"I've been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colors was black."  ~ Pierre-Aguste Renoir


Two Girls in Black, Pierre-Aguste Renoir, 1881


"Black is not a color."   ~  Edouard Manet


"There is something about black.  You feel hidden away in it."   ~  Georgia O'Keeffe


"Black is a real sensation, even if it is produced by the entire absence of light. The sensation of black is distinctly different from the lack of sensations."   

                                                             ~  Hermann von Helmholtz


"Black is the most aristocratic color of all.... You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing."       ~ Louise Nevelson


Thursday, January 8, 2015

1430 Days (Approx.)

The first of my patterns to be published were two indie designs that I originally wrote for knitting classes that I taught in the early years of this century.  On February 5, 2011, I uploaded two pdf files on Ravelry and made them available for free downloading.  That was truly the day that I became a knitwear designer.

It took:
(4 x 365) - 30 = 1430 days (Approx.)

for this to happen.

Ravelry Patterns "Hot Right Now"  2015-01-06

I am not sure that this chain of events will ever happen again:
1) A couple months ago while preparing for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long sale, I really wished that I had more patterns for sale on Ravelry. I knew that it was too close to the sale to change anything (apparently there are people who do notice a price change/increase timed too closely before a % off sale).

2) My two oldest patterns have been free since I uploaded them, Feb 5, 2011. They have been used many times (with no reported problems) to make many lovely projects. I decided to add a note to the two pattern pages that stated these patterns will be free until their 4 year anniversary, Feb 5, 2015 and then will be available for $2.

3) Since then, I actually thought of taking those notes down. I recently created some tidy little bundles on my designer page, and I liked the way the group of free ones complimented each other.

4) But then, just 3 days ago, a Raveler named ClioD posted about the patterns here and here. These are threads just for Ravelry “for sale” patterns being (temporarily) offer free. Everyone loves “free”. The comments and hearts and queing were non-stop for a while there!

5) The activity is starting to slow down. After all the attention, I guess that now I have no choice but to begin to charge for them after Feb 5 :-)

The note on my pattern pages: 

"This pattern will continue to be free until its 4th anniversary of being offered on Ravelry. After February 5, 2015, this pattern will be available for purchase at a price of $2.00."

The patterns are Both Sides Now and TATU Sock.

Enjoy them while they are free.
Enjoy them after that.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

White Skies Ahead

A friend of mine once told me that I am an optimist for calling a sunless winter sky "a white sky".  She said that most people would call it gray.  (I have that going for me.)

On New Year's Day 2015 my family and I unexpectedly lost a good friend and neighbor.  (Too soon after the death of my aunt and godmother.)  Sometimes planes full of people accidentally fall from the sky, and sometimes school buildings full of innocent people are shockingly and senselessly destroyed in violent attacks by others who have lost their own humanity.  These are difficult things to wrap our minds around.  We must try to remember that life, even in its darkest moments, must be appreciated each and every day because of the fact that all who live will die one day.

Today we have white skies, and even though I do not want to begin putting away Christmas things, that is largely what this day will be about.

An angel sat on our treetop this Christmas season.  I took this photo Christmas evening.  (I used a photo editor to add more light.  Not one of my better photos, but I did have a houseful of people that night.)

I am thankful that my own home was so full of love and laughter on Christmas day and then all through the evening with both close and extended family members.  I was surprised that most of them came back again the very next night!

Our angel was a gift from my mother.  I do not remember what year she gave it to me/us, but I believe it was before my children were born.  This year, after a week where our little angel shone as brightly as ever in her lofty perch, her lights went out.  Most of the bulbs (many are inside the skirt) were burnt out and blackened.  It was the day before Christmas eve (my aunt's birthday).  I fetched my step stool and brought our angel down to begin replacing all of the (10) bulbs.  I plugged her into a nearby outlet.  She lit up for about a second and then she burnt out again.  Next, I enlisted Mr K who tested the bulbs (and other things?) with his (voltage?) meter (maybe someday I will tell you more about my total non-desire for knowing more about all that is electrical).  Mr K did his testing for a while until he actually found a partial break in the cord, near the plug end.

I forgot to mention that somewhere in between my replacing all of the bulbs and Mr K finding the damage to the cord, we went out to dinner with our dear daughter.  While out, we stopped for replacement watch batteries at a Rite Aid store.  I never in my life thought that they would have a small string of white lights on a white cord, but I asked my daughter to look.  She found just that, and it was half price, and I bought it.  And so it was that late on the night before Christmas eve, I found myself pulling the old light strand out of our angel and replacing it with a new and brighter (20 bulb) one.

I am getting a little long here, but I took some photos of other Christmas things that my mother gave to us before I packed them up ready to go back in the attic.   

My mom always enjoyed going to "ceramics" where she would purchase unfired clay pieces that had been formed in molds.  She cleaned and painted them for glazing in a kiln.  The taller tree was a gift to me when I was in my 20's.  The smaller two were made for my daughter and son when they were little.

I had fun with this centerpiece set by filling the bowl with two of my most recent yarn purchases.  I always love a good red (Malabrigo Rasta).  The variegated forest green sock yarn was the November 2014 colorway of the Rockin' Sock Club (the photo does not show its true beauty).

I wish you a happy and healthy 2015!  Remember to look for as much white lightfulness as you can find when skies turn gray (and cherish fond memories)!    

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Designer Interveiw: Arlette Knits

Flatirons (named for 5 linked mountain peaks near Boulder, CO)

Today I am posting my interview with indie designer Arlette Thibodeau.  Arlette is a fresh, young, Oakland CA based designer with a really sharp looking blog of her own.  I greatly admire Arlette's awesome and natural sense of design not to mention her impressive photography skills!

Temescal (named after a "multifaceted" Oakland neighborhood)
Columella (defined as the central coil of a spiraled snail shell)

The Interview:
Hi, Arlette,
Welcome to my blog!  Thanks for being here!

How did you fall for knitting? What kept you casting on after that first wonky scarf or hot pad?
Pure stubbornness. Knitting was the first thing I was really bad at. I was used to being good at crafts and needlework, so when my friend tried to teach me to knit and I seriously didn’t get it, I got mad. I disappeared into my apartment with a copy of Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N’ Bitch for six weeks until I had all the skills I needed to knit a hat in the round by myself and follow a pattern. I kept throwing myself at too-advanced techniques until after a year, it felt like I could do anything. I loved it and it was an incredible learning experience, but it took me a long time to understand how people could find this infuriating, challenging pastime “relaxing.”
I learned how to think in an organized fashion through knitting. If you make a mistake, you have to figure out what’s wrong and you have to fix it. There’s no way to sweet-talk or charm a misbehaving knit into forgiving you or agreeing to disagree. But there’s always a right answer to find. And if a “right” answer doesn’t exist, you can invent one.

How and why did you decide to begin designing knitting patterns?
Well, once I figured out most of the technical knitting challenges I gave myself, making my own patterns seemed like the next obvious challenge. Most of my patterns are answers to questions or challenges I give myself: With Double Dutch, I tried to find instructions for knitting brioche stitch two-handed, kept reading that it wasn’t possible, and thought that was stupid. Columella happened after I thought “Cables that wrap around the whole arm would be cool, but what the hell would you do with the stitches from the thumb?”
As to publishing, I’ve always been a “Guys! The means of production are in our own hands, let’s use ‘em!” kind of person.  My family and, to a smaller degree, the Bay Area’s crazy DIY culture taught me it’s never stupid to make something yourself — and if you take the time to do it right, any average person can make extraordinary things. A background in web development and newspaper layout sure don’t hurt when you’re self-publishing your own stuff, either, and neither does a years-long interest in photography. Once I got organized enough to take a pattern from prototype to finished, self-published PDF or hard copy, design felt inevitable. 

What are some sources of inspiration for you in your designs?
Honestly? The same distractions that my attention deficit disorder snag on. My brain’s already giving me tons of interesting commentary: “Look at the color of that leaf against the sky! Look at the way the light reflects on the water! Those four cars next to each other are almost the same shape and for some reason that’s incredibly funny! How does the shape of a seashell change as it gets bigger? Why is the silhouette of a crow different from the shape of a seagull?” Those moments especially come out in nature, where I’m generally alone and won’t annoy anyone with several minutes of frowning at the scenery while I think about about sandstone or bird’s feet.
The difference between me the designer, and me the dreamy ten-year-old, is that I can apply what I’ve learned about visual design to those notes: “Ah, it’s because the leaf color and the sky color are really saturated but close in value, so my eye is attracted but not overwhelmed. I bet I can make yarn do that.” 

What aspect/phase of knit design do you enjoy the most? And which one do you enjoy the least?
What I enjoy most is when, after ripping out a bunch of swatches and crossing out a bunch of sketches, I get a few inches into a swatch, and I can feel that this is the version that’s going to work. If what I’m doing works perfectly the first time, I’m probably not pushing myself hard enough.
The part I enjoy the least is that moment of shooting photos when it feels like I’m missing the shot I want. By then I’m anxious I won’t get it and I’m worried about wearing out my model, who’s generally an amateur who’s only agreed to do it because they’re my friend, and that whole mood makes it hard to loosen up and get something great. 

Can you tell us something about a new design you are currently working on?
Yeah! There’s a lake (well, tidal lagoon) in the center of my city, and I’m working on a colorwork hat based on the way light reflects off it at night. It’s one of a few I’m working on that are based on things in and around Oakland, where I live. 

I think what I have enjoyed most about the Ravelry Gift-A-Long promotion has been a chance to get to know other designers and their work. What have been the highlights of the promotion for you?
The knitting world has a lot of big names and trends, so you see a lot of the same things over and over. (Rightfully so, because the industry is doing some amazing work.) The Gift-A-Long has been a great way to mix things up and see other facets of the design world that I might miss otherwise.

Thanks again, Arlette!

Final Notes:

I love Arlette's answer to that second from last question about colorwork and light and water (tidal lagoon? how exotic!) and that it is based on a real place in Oakland.  I will be looking forward to seeing her "reflective" colorwork hat!

Coincidentally, Arlette and I both have designs named Double Dutch.  I believe that we both put considerable thought into naming our designs, and I appreciate all of our reasons for our names.

Arlette's Double Dutch

I have been thinking about how much I really enjoy naming my knitting patterns. and I would like to talk about that in a post one day.  Until then, please visit my new friend, Arlette.  I guarantee that you will like what you see! 

All photos in this post were used with permission and are © Arlette Thibodeau.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cross Promotion (& Life in General)

It's about time! 
cross pro·mo·tion (noun) the cooperative marketing by two or more companies of one another's products.

I just checked, and it was way back in late August that I received a lovely personal message from Claudine at Classic Elite Yarns. She congratulated me on the publication of my Rosebud Hat and she went on to add:

 "I am writing a post about the hat for our blog, most likely [it] will be published the first week of Sept. I mention in my post how knitting fair Isle in the round with 2 hands is the most efficient method. I googled 2 handed Fair Isle to see if there were any great posts about how to do it…only to find your blog was one of the top hits. I would love to link to that post on our blog. Please let me know if this is ok.

I will let you know once the post is live, so you can cross promote it if you would like."

Of course, I said "Yes (please!)".  And I told her how much I loved working with the Fresco yarn by Classic Elite. Good stuff, that Fresco!

Claudine forgot to let me know when the post went live (entirely understandable) and I forgot to look for it until near the end of September.  At the time, I was right in the middle of my own (self-promotional) series of posts on my Playground Shawls and I could not work in a cross promotion.

High time for it now!  Please visit the post by Claudine at CEY.  She describes my hat far better than I could myself and she features another very cool colowork project, Grapevine Hat by Amy Loberg.  (It is a free CEY web letter pattern.)  And, (Thanks, Claudine!) at the end of her post she does have a link to my extremely popular Colorwork Tutorial.

But Claudine is not the only one writing about me!  In my last post I mentioned how the organizers of the Ravelry 2014 Gift-A-Long have been doing a phenomenal job.  There are volunteer designers assigned to all these different jobs and some worked on things like advertising, and social media promotion.  All of the designers who blog (including me) were assigned other designers to interview.

I was SO VERY lucky to have Arlette designated to interview me!  Please go here to read the interview!  She works by day as a web developer, and is a great photographer as well.  It shows at her blog!

(The designer I was assigned to interview has not replied to my request to send interview questions to her by email.  It's entirely OK.  It's a busy time of year and she may have faced some obstacles similar to my own.)

Lucky for you and for me, Arlette also agreed to be interviewed by me (it was my own idea, because I like her blog and her designs) and I have her answers, and that will be my very next post!

(In case you have noticed that I have been absent for a while... I had an important magazine design due this Friday, and I can report that I have just completed the work on time.  As the deadline approached, I was delayed due to a death in my family.  God bless my Aunt F.) 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ravelry 2014 GAL Update

For a larger image with zoom:

My last post was my announcement of the Ravelry 2014 Indie Design Gift-A Long.  The promotion began in mid-November with a nine-day 25% discount on 3822 independent designer knit and crochet patterns.

The promotion continues to the very end of December... There is a whole lot of fun to be had!...  There are many games and contests with thousands of prizes!

11,512 patterns are eligible for everyone to use for the ongoing Gift-A-Long KAL/CAL.  You become eligible to play and win in the games (like Name That Designer) just by entering the KAL/CAL!  See the Ravelry Indie Design Gift-A-Long group rules thread for all the details.

I am blown away by all of the work that has been done by those who have organized this event.  Shown above are some statistics (larger image: that were compiled and graphed by a Raveler named 80skeins.  That last link is to her designer page on Ravelry, but if you have time you should take a look at her Worldwide Blog Tour: AroundtheWorldin80skeins.  She has already interviewed and posted about indie designers in 25 countries.  The posts are very interesting and the photographs are amazing!

I am thankful for the Group Administrators/Organizers, alextinsley, KnitEcoChic, ninaknits and Simone77.  These links are also to their designer pages.   

If you like Pinterest, check out this page with links to GAL 2014 Pinterest BoardsThis has been a wonderful time to get to know many great designers and their work!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ravelry Indie Design 2014 Gift-A-Long

I would like to announce that I will be a returning designer in the 2nd annual Indie Design Gift-A-Long.  All of my Ravelry for-sale patterns are included in this promotion and all are eligible for the 2014 GAL KAL/CAL.  (My Ravelry patterns can be found in a bundle right here on my designer page.)

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 2 month long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by an incredible number of (293!) independent designers from 21(!) countries around the world.

From Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm (EST) to Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm (EST) tons of (293!) indie designers will be discounting from 4 to 20 of their patterns by 25% for this event (3822 patterns will be on sale!)  You can read all about the details in this Ravelry post.

Once you’ve got your Gift-A-Long patterns, you can join a relevant KAL/CAL. (For instance, if it is a cowl, please join the cowl KAL/CAL.)  To join, simply write a post in the KAL/CAL thread you want to join, including the pattern name you will be knitting, and a link to your project page.  KAL/CAL participants are eligible for lots of lovely prizes but you gotta post to win!

The KAL/CALs will run from Thursday, November 13 at 8 pm (EST) through a group New Years Eve party, Wednesday, December 31 at midnight (EST), plenty of time to knock out all your holiday knitting and crocheting.  There will be several games, tons of prizes, great conversation, and a whole lot of fun, so pull up a chair and join us!  Ready, Set, Gift!