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?