Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A lull

My apologies for being so long between posts.

So the fourth in the to-be-published Fall sweaters is finally done. This one for Knit Simple. Here's a little snippet, although I think this picture is a little blurry. (We bought a new camera -- Sony -- and are still trying to learn to use it.) This pattern is an all-over cable and I doubted that I would get it in by the deadline of June 1st, so I was up at 4:00 a.m. doing some knitting before work for the last two weeks of May. Again, the cabling was done without a cable needle, so it was speedier. The thing is that May is always a busy family month -- this year second son's Communion, Joe's 5oth, followed by second son's birthday. But all worked out in the end and it arrived at Soho in time.

In the interim, I've finished a seamless baby sweater, my own design based on the parameters set forth by EZ. It was lovely and had a matching bucket hat, in Cascade Cotton Rich for my second son's teacher who is due today. I'm not really that big a fan of cotton, but the yarn was delightful, very soft . Of course, I was in such a rush to get it done before the baby arrived, I forgot to take a picture.

I'm busy working on something I started awhile ago. It's from the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Two pattern book. Horseshoe lace pattern, done with the front and back. I love the yarn, but it's the kind of stuff that I think I'll wear once and then spend years trying to be brave enough to clean (or have cleaned).

And I'm busily swatching and sketching for my next submission book which is due the end of the month. I submitted a book to Interweave early last month, but haven't heard anything yet. Usually I send 8 to 10 ideas, but because of my schedule I was only able to send in 5. I'm excited that Eunny will be the new editor as I think she's extremely talented, but in my one experience working with Pam Allen, she was generous and delightful. I'm sure she'll be doing great things at Classic Elite.

Hope to have some things to show you next time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two Knitters Walked Into a Bar...

Have you ever done anything really, really stupid as a knitter? Something you're almost too embarrassed to say you did? I hesitate to even tell you, dear reader, and I fear that if I say it I'm sure to do something worse, but here goes...

I'm doing a little "artist's smock" for a fall publication. It has a"paint-splattered" pleat in the back (read: intarsia). On each side of the pleat is a panel of solid. Guess who cast-on four, FOUR FOUR, FOUR fewer stitches than she was supposed to because her husband was talking to her while she cast on? Guess who didn't check for 100 rows? Guess who didn't notice it until she counted each side after the armhole bind-offs? Guess who has a deadline of Wednesday? (YES!! A week from today.)

There is no other solution but to rip.

Pray really hard.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Contemplating the frog

No, no, not frog used as a verb, frog as a noun. I have finished the cape for the fall issue of Knit.1 and am thinking of frogs as closures. Long ago, in the first piece I ever designed (which, in retrospect, was (O)VER(L)Y ambitious -- pleat, frog with crochet-covered button, shawl collar) I used a frog designed by the wonderful Nicky Epstein. It involved knitting I-cord and then contorting it into the correct shape using a diagram and tacking it down into place. It was fairly complicated. This is the original frog. Recently I did a simpler frog when I knit a Rowan pattern (in the Autumn/Winter 2006 issue #40). For this one, the instructions were to single crochet a length of yarn. There was not much twisting and no tucking, just tacking. I need something a little more angular for this job. I'm looking to match the diamond border. I think I'm going with I-cord and a simpler construction, as there will probably be three (or possibly four) frogs. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Sorry for the long-ish break. I've been finishing a piece for Vogue for their 25th anniversary edition this Fall. Here's a sneak peak of the finished garment on my new (e-bay) dress form. This is a slip-stitch pattern that I love called "Florentine Frieze". It's from one of the Barbara Walker treasuries -- second, I think, but it could be the first.

I'm busily working on two more projects for Knit.1. One of them has cables across 300+ stitches, so I'm cabling without a cable needle! This is so thrilling to me, I think I may soon be giving my cable needles away. Necessity is the mother of bravery. Kathy over at Grumperina has a wonderful tutorial on this technique. The yarn is quite lovely too. Classic Elite Waterlily. It looks like it has streaks of light running through it.

Both Knit.1 projects are due by the 25th, so I hope to get a lot of the knitting done during the week the kids and I have off from school. Is any other mother out there feeling like they can't get free from behind the wheel of their car?

In other news, it was so beautiful here today, I could "smell" spring. I love hearing the kids through the open windows.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The design process

Sometimes I tell non-knitters that I design knitwear. I always add the words "freelance," "part-time," "just starting out" or some combination. I don't know why I feel the need to downplay it or make it seem unimportant or that it's not what I "really" do. It's what I am passionate about. I love the process, if not always the product. These n-ks will often make a comment like, "Really?" and I often feel that they look at me like I'm a rare strange orchid from South America. She designs knitwear? But she's an elementary school teacher! Most knitters, however, will ask how I started doing it. So, here's the short version ...

I took a design class with the most wonderful person/teacher/designer/knitter -- Shirley Paden. I wrote a pattern for a coat. I knitted it up. Shirley liked it. I took the class a second time. I wrote a pattern for a bolero and tank. Shirley liked it and encouraged me to start submitting my designs to various publications -- which I did. The bolero and tank eventually got published, but my first published pieces appeared in the holiday '05 issue of Knit Simple. Shirley is now a friend and mentor, but she is the reason I continue to do this. Her work is inspirational.

Here are the best parts of the process:

I scan newspapers, the internet and magazines for silhouettes or elements that I like. Once I find something, I sketch it out -- this is an area I really want to work on. This sketch is not too terrible, but it's somewhat stark. On the right you can sort of see the Oscar de la Renta jacket.

I knit up a swatch. This one is done in Art Yarn's Supermerino. I try to find an interesting pattern. This is a twisted stitch pattern. It looks a little like smocking. You can see there's a little tag on the bottom. That just lets the editors know which yarn it is and the gauge and stitch information. The color is really beautiful, but magazines rarely choose the color or particular yarn you have swatched in. Usually I submit between 5 and 10 designs at a time.

Then you wait ...

If your design is accepted, then you're notified (e-mail or phone call) and the yarn (of their choosing) is sent. In this case it was Art Yarn's Ultramerino in a teal blue. You swatch that to get the numbers correct.

Then the part I block out. The writing of the pattern and the deadline knitting. This can be anywhere from two (yikes) to
six (whew) weeks. It's usually at least six months before the issue hits the stands.

And then, as if by magic, your name appears in lights. This is my interpretation of the jacket, published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday '06.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Will this work?

I have been fiddling with the idea of a blog for quite some time. So what's the problem? Here's the conversation that's been going on in my brain:

Knitting Me: It will be fun. You'll "meet" lots of knitters. Maybe some of these knitters will become test-knitters for you. You'll have a place to preview/get feedback on/sell your designs. Knitters will know where to reach you. You've been told you're slightly amusing.

Real Me: You do not need another thing to do. Not one more thing, do you hear me? You are the mother of three children who are way overbooked, you just got back into teaching part-time, you have this design work with horrible deadlines, you teach knitting, your house is filthy, you need to go to the gym and you don't get enough sleep. Why do you want to add to your already hideous schedule?

Knitting Me: It will be fun. You'll "meet" lots of knitters. You've been told you're slightly amusing.

Real Me: Really? Slightly amusing? Do you know that people who believe they're slightly amusing are usually dreadfully dull. And besides, how many blogs have you read that you've hated; blogs without pictures of knitting, blogs that become political rants, blogs that showcase the author's pet/children/home renovation (pick one), blogs that have no posts for weeks on end.

Knitting Me: It will be fun. Really.

Guess who won?