Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Change My Pitch Up...Smock My Stitch Up

(Yes, its a terribly Prodigy pun. I'm deeply sorry, but not sorry enough not to do it.)

I think smocking might be my next detail-thing-that-I'm-really-into. Time will tell ;-) In the meantime, this hat is a great introduction to afterthought smocking, a very simple technique that livens up simple ribbing with just a few passes of the needle. It's made with Madelinetosh Tosh Dk in "Cosmos" which is a simply magical colorway- I could swear it changes from purple to green depending on the light.

You can find Smock My Stitch Up on Ravelry here, or...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Interview with GAL Designer, Emmy Petersson!

For funsies, some of the Indie Gift-A-Long designers are interviewing other designers, and I had the pleasure of talking to Emmy Petersson, a Swedish designer with the most delightful colorwork (and a cat shawl!!!) Without further ado...

When and how did you first learn to knit? 
My first knitting memory is from when I was about five years old. I remember sitting in the kitchen, moving stitches from one needle to another. I didn't understand why I had to pull the yarn through the stitch and it was so much easier to just move them. I imagine I learned to do it correctly shortly after that. It was my mom who taught me. The first project I can remember was a simple doll, made out of a knitted square. I have since always had some kind of crafty project going even if I never worked on them frequently in my teens. It could take years to finish. When I finished high school I studied music for two years, and that was a very creative environment, and I started to knit more and more. I finished my first sweater during these years (it came out way too big, and I never wore it...). Then I moved to a bigger city to start university, discovered knitting cafés, met other knitters and found knitting on the internet. And since then I'm hooked, or some people would say I'm obsessed.

Whoa, I totally thought that was how knitting worked when I was little too, haha! What made you first begin designing? 
My first design was Freja, and it happened quite as an accident. I was sketching a bit in my notebook during a lecture and I came up with a repeated heart pattern that I realized would be just perfect pattern for the palm of a mitten. So I started to sketch up a matching motif for the back of the hand too, and knitted my mittens. And then I sent the pattern to Knitty, totally expecting to get rejected. I thought everyone got rejected in the beginning. But I didn't, and I was so excited. And then I kept going, making more patterns. With a full time job I don't have nearly as much time for knitting as I would like, but I do make new patterns in the pace that I can manage.

Can you talk a bit about the knitting scene in Sweden? I am curious about how it compares to America.
Knitting has been growing in popularity in Sweden during the last ten years or so, and it has changed from something that you only do in your home to something people meet and do in cafés and when they commute and so on. I think there are many reasons why knitting has grown popular again. One thing I think is that it is some kind of protest against the wear and tear fashion and the increased environmental awareness, and is a part of the same trend where it is popular to bake sourdough breads and make your own sausage. I also think many people have a need to create something substantial with their hands, as so many of us don't do that in our day jobs anymore. Knitting has been popular before, but then it lasted for a few years and then lost popularity again. This time it just seems to keep growing in popularity, and I do think internet plays a big part in that. You can connect with other knitters even if you don't know anyone who knits where you live and you can buy yarn and patterns from the whole world.

I see that you are an engineering student- do you find that there are parallels between your engineering work and your designing? Do skills and ideas from one ever transfer over to the other? 
I see that I haven't updated my profile in Ravelry for a while, as I'm actually not a student anymore. But yes, I usually say that designing is the perfect mix of knitting and engineering. My engineering skills are invaluable in my design process, and they make all the technical aspects of designing quite easy. And I feel that the creative part of designing helps me in my work as an engineer too.

Do you have a favorite project that you have made, whether your design or not? What makes it stand out?
I think that would be the prototype of the Alvinda cardigan that I submitted to Twist Collective. That sweater is very much about my aesthetics - simplicity and elegance. I do like the cardigan I worked up for the magazine too, but the prototype was made for ME, and fits me so much better, both in size and color. It is also special to me in the way that it is my first (and so far only- I hope to change that in the near future) published garment design.

What is your favorite fiber to work with, and why?
Wool, without question. Wool is such a versatile material, and there are so many kinds of wool from different kinds of sheep, with very different properties. I am not a fan of superwash treated wools though, as I think it destroys many of the fantastic properties that wool has. It also makes a natural fiber very much less natural, and the treatments aren't environmentally friendly. I am a bit sad that it is so hard to come by nice untreated wool yarns these days, as almost all popular yarns are treated. And the fact that it doesn't say superwash on the label is no guarantee it is not.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of designing? 
I love when an idea strikes, and I can't get it out of my mind until I've tried it out. I also love the technical parts of designing. I'm happy when I get to dive into my spreadsheets and make my calculations for a design - I guess the engineering speaks a bit here. My very least favorite part of the process is to find a good name for the pattern, I can get stuck at this part for weeks. I do publish my patterns in both English and Swedish and I don't like patterns that have different names in different languages so I try to find names that are at least pronounceable in both languages. I do also have kind of a love/hate relationship with photographing my designs. I do love photography. But I very rarely have anyone to help me with either being the photographer or the model, so I have to do it all by myself. And I do feel that I have so much less control when I have to be in the front of the camera, using the remote, than when I can be behind it, taking care of all the settings.

Oh how I feel you on that last point! What is one thing that most knitters probably don't know about you?
That I am (or was, there are not much time for it anymore) an enthusiastic birdwatcher, and that I spent my teens trying to see as many species as I could.

And just for fun: what would be your absolute perfect day?
A perfect day would be a sunny spring or autumn day. Not too warm, not too cold, when I would be able to alternate long knitting sessions with walks in the forest. There would be no need to work or to do any household chores. It's too bad that those days happens so rarely.

Thanks Emmy!! The sale portion of the Gift-A-Long may be over, but the festivities have barely started! Please check out the group for tons of KALs/CALs, beautiful FOs to ogle, games and tons of prizes!! And you can see all Emmy's work on her designer page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Pattern- Peregrine!

Peregrine: adjective \ˈper-ə-grən, -ˌgrēn\ 
"Having a tendency to wander"

Let your stitches do the walking with this crisp lil' number, in Madelinetosh Vintage (the colorway is Magnolia Leaf, which is drop-dead gorgeous in person.) You can find Peregrine on Ravelry here, or:

(And just a friendly reminder- the Indie Gift-A-Long sale continues until November 21st at midnight EST, which means all of my patterns in this bundle are 25% off with the code "giftalong2014"! And be sure to check out the group- there are tons of other great designers participating and the KALs and festivities go on through the end of the year.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Get ready... get set.... GIFT!

Some of you might remember the gigantic Indie Designer Gift-A-Long that happened on Ravelry last year. I'm pleased to say... it's back!

(And once again I am adminning because apparently I am insane. But I am pretty proud of this list of yarny prizes we've rustled up  - to say nothing of the THOUSANDS of pdf pattern prizes!)

Click that logo above to go over to the group and get the full details- basically, hundreds of designers have put part of their catalog on sale from the 13th at 8pm EST (that's tonight!!) through the 21st. You get 25% off participating patterns when you use the code "giftalong2014".

Then there's a big K/CAL that runs through the end of the year, with tons of games, prizes, and oh-so-much chatting. The idea, of course, is to help you plow through your holiday knitting... but it's totally okay if the gifts are for you ;-) It was a ton of fun last year and hopefully it'll be even better this time around!

You can find my bundle of on-sale patterns here (click the collage):

...but I encourage you to browse around because there's a lot of amazing stuff on offer! I have yet to find a moment to myself to properly go through the Participating Designers post and check out the designs, but I am really looking forward to doing so. (Even if I still haven't found time to knit the patterns I bought last year... oh to have time to make other folks' patterns!)

Hope to see you there!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Garter-Tab Cast-on Tutorial (for Shawl Together!)

I was honored when Cate of Infinite Twist asked me to be part of her Fall Shawl Together! I didn't have any shawls on the docket right now, so I thought I'd share a technique that I remember totally boggling me when I first started shawl knitting- the garter-tab cast-on.

This technique is common in shawl patterns and not hard to execute, but if you haven't seen it done it and are just going off the directions, it can look very weird and "wrong". Don't worry, it's supposed to look that way ;-)

Apologies for wandering off-screen a time or two- I can never seem to keep my hands still. Also I realize I mentioned that the long needle is useful but I didn't really say why- it makes it much easier and more comfortable to pull those stitches on to the cord and then bend around and go back for more. My needle was probably a little longer than it really needed to be, though.

The Fall Shawl-Together is a season-long series of blog posts and other content from a range of knitting designers, all centered around (what else) shawls! If you're into shawl knitting- or even just interested in topics like color selection and yarn substitution- you should definitely check out the other posts, which are all gathered on this page (which'll be updated each week as a new post goes live.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fructose- Pattern #4 of Sweet Tooth

At last, we've come to the end of our mystery ebook journey: Pattern #4, Fructose, is here! 

Fructose features a split brim, knit & purl textures (figured y'all might want a break after all that cabling in the last one) and pi decreases. You can find it on Ravelry here, or:

A huge thank you to those of you who have been along on this whole mystery ebook journey with me! I hope you've enjoyed the patterns :-) It's totally not too late to get in on the Sweet Tooth KAL in my Ravelry group - there are prizes to be won and all you need to do to participate is post at least one WIP or FO picture!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The making of Malabrigo Book 6

I've been working with Malabrigo as their Project/Designer Coordinator for... maybe two and a half (ish) years now. Running the Quickies and Freelance Pattern Project programs have been a lot of fun, but I was SUPER excited to spread my curatorial wings for Book 6. I thought it'd be fun to look back a bit at the process of putting together a book like this (and maybe my process for styling a largish project will come in handy for someone working on their own book or collection- I pretty much did the same thing with Doomsday Knits.) 

I started with a basic color story/concept. We wanted brights and bolds, and to combine them with neutrals (though the brights definitely dominated in the end- it's always interesting to see how these concepts kinda morph over time.) 

These were the palettes that I sent the designers to get their creative motors chuggin':

After perusing awhile, the designers got back to me with some ideas about what they'd like to do, and we narrowed it all down to the projects you see here. (Though several other designs ended up being moved and will show up in other books ;-) ) 

Next was the styling bit. (I was working on this at the same time as I was doing the styling for Doomsday Knits so it was kind of a shopping-crazed few months!) For me, this starts with taking lots of reference photos of the items that I can bring with me while I'm shopping (I actually had to turn these over to the tech editor before the shopping was finished, so it was pretty important to have the photos.) 

These pictures aren't always exactly flattering...

...but that's okay. The most important part is to accurately capture the color and proportions. 

Before I start shopping, I spend some time just doodling, looking at Pinterest, etc, and trying to get some basic ideas for how I want to style each item. The final outfits might not look anything like the sketches (depending on what I can find when I'm shopping) but it helps to have a place to start.

And then the "awful dressing room selfie" stage (I take photos as I try things on, so I can pick the best option out of quite a few without having to re-try anything.)

(I kind of regret that that cat shirt didn't make the cut.) Shopping with someone else's money is about as fun as you think it would be (which is to say, really fun, as long as you like shopping.) It's a bit harrowing when you know you have to get X amount of things out of Y amount of dollars... but I like a challenge. I found what I could in stores (TJ Maxx and Target both did me right) and then filled in the gaps online. It's much easier to find a specific piece that you need online, but there's no guarantee that it'll be cheap, so I try to leave that for the end when I know exactly how much I can afford to splurge. 

And we have outfits!

I no longer had the actual items in my possession, but I wanted to make sure it would all go together, so I had to do some rather embarrassing...improvisation (in retrospect I don't know why I didn't just photoshop them on instead of this mess, haha):

I wasn't able to make it to the photoshoot in Uruguay, so instead I sent the clothes off with new, detailed sketches, so the on-site stylist would know what went where. 

There were, unsurprisingly, some changes made the day of- you never know what's gonna fit when you're buying clothes and shoes for an unknown model half a world away. We got pretty lucky though, I think the only real substitutions were some shoes! Thank god for stretch denim, amiright? (But seriously, pro-tip, have the model bring some of her own stuff just in case. And remember that tall people often have longer feet.)

The Uruguay team took it from there, sourcing great models and a fantastic photographer, and trekking out to a lovely, lonely, windy beach for the shoot :-) They also assigned the names, did the layout, and some little darling decided to put my cowl on the cover which is pretty much blowing my mind. 

You should be able to find Malabrigo Book 6 in Cabo Polonio at LYSes that carry Malabrigo yarn- if they don't have it in stock, they can probably order one for ya ;-) You can also look at all the finished items on Ravelry. Right now, I'm on the styling phase of the next book I'll be doing with Malabrigo (to be shot next year, likely in the US which means I'll be there, woohoo! My inner control-freak is singing.) I don't want to give anything away, but I'll say that it has a more "natural" aesthetic and the styling has been particularly fun so far ;-)*

*Hm, I realize that sentence kind of makes it sound like the models are naked. Sorry to disappoint but that's not it, haha. Interesting concept though. Feel free to take that one ;-P

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