Saturday, April 16, 2011

Color Study Shawl Purple-to-Yellow

I bought a 48" triangle loom from Weaver's Cupboard last weekend and decided to do a sort of color study shawl as a my first project. I ransacked my stash and managed to find an assortment of yarns in various fibers in shades of purple, red, orange and yellow. Some yarns were handspun, some commercially spun. I started with purple on the outer edges and worked to yellow in the middle. One handspun yarn was shades of burgundy, orange and yellow. I had hoped that the yarn would mostly show as burgundy and flow with the rest of the gradation, but sadly it seems not to have worked out that way. But I still think the end result is very nice. I added in fringe as well, coordinating the fringe colors with their respective sections.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Studio 66 Retreat is almost here!

It is almost time to relax at the Studio 66 Retreat! Last year I was merely a participant, but this year I have helped with the planning and I already know that it is going to be bigger and better! There are fun activities planned, like the community space dye project that everyone gets to participate in. There will be a limited number of people that get to sign up for dyeing fiber in the crock pot, which I will help to demonstrate and answer questions. There will also be some demonstrations of weaving, spinning, beading and dyeing. I will be doing a knitting demonstration on the basic techniques of double knitting. When we're not busy spinning and weaving, there will be gourmet meals, a raffle and even a bird walk. Lots of exciting stuff! I've already started packing and counting down the days until I get to smell the fresh mountain air.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

designing goals for 2011

In the next couple of months I will finally be able to quit my day job (yay!) and focus on designing knitting patterns full time. Right now I can only spend maybe 12 hours knitting and writing every week and it just isn't satisfying. I feel like I can never really spend enough time researching my ideas. My husband is about to leave for Army training and in the summer I will be moving across the country. Lots of changes ahead and I feel like my head is swimming with all the things I have to remember to do in the coming months. So I have decided to write out my plans for 2011 of things I want to accomplish as a designer.

*Create a stylesheet. After reading a discussion on Ravelry about stylesheets and what exactly they are, I decided I really need one. Badly. It is basically the layout for your patterns and all the grammatical rules for your pattern. Writing patterns is an art, much more work than simply typing up the notes your write while knitting a new design. My current method of typing up a new pattern is to just write on top of an old one, but inevitably I can never remember my own rules for pattern writing. Do I write out knit and purl or simply write k and p? Is there a period at the end of each line of instructions? When do I single or double space? What is in bold or italics? I'm a big fan of consistency and I don't know why it never occured to me before to write up a stylesheet.

*Study all my knitting books and take notes. Lots and lots of notes, complete with red pen, highlighter and a three ring binder. I have lots of fabulous knitting books full of useful tips which I promptly forget after reading them. Then when the time comes to use that special bind off I vaguely remember reading about I can never find it again.

*Dedicate more time and effort to this blog. My posts are very few and far between and it doesn't seem to attract many readers. Most of my knitting happens late at night, a really lousy time to take photos and my free time is so limited I never have time to take pretty photos and post interesting things during the day. Also I feel that my writing isn't very good, and as my husband keeps reminding me it will only get better with practice. So bear with me readers (if there are any out there, ha) I will try to improve.

*Design research. I am a fashion designer by day, and occasionally I get to spend time researching fashion trends online and in the stores. It really helps out to get the ideas flowing in my brain and see what is trending at the moment. The hard part is to create designs that are in line with the current trends but not so high fashion that they will be obsolete a couple months after all those thousands of stitches.

*Create patterns in collections. At the moment I really don't have a method to my designing madness, it is very impulsive and whatever I feel like knitting at the moment. A perfect example happened last night. I found my needles very empty and on the spur of the moment I decided to start knitting a simple triangle shaped lace shawl. No planning or research. Of course twenty minutes later I decided the yarn wasn't working for me and ripped it out. If I was smart (and sometimes I think I am- but only very occasionally) I would pick a technique and make a few designs with it. Like twisted stitches for example. Last winter I got a little obsessed with twisted stitch patterns and made my husband a hat, a dog sweater and started a hat for myself all with different twisted stitch patterns. If I made a little collection I could turn it into an ebook and give my customers a discount if they bought all the patterns together instead of separately.

*Purchase Adobe Indesign and learn how to use it. Microsoft Word is just. not. cutting. it. It drives me crazy trying to fix the format once I add photos and charts. And adding in small text boxes? Forget about it. I have a very old edition of Adobe Illustrator, which I do love but I can't seem to make multi page pdfs unless I have a professional edition of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

*Modernize some classic silhouettes from the 40's and 50's. I have a few old knitting magazines that I love to study. Women from this time period always looked so elegant and put together, I wish fashion would take a turn back to those days. Also while watching my dvds of I Love Lucy and old movies I frequently pause and put my nose up to the tv screen to look at all the details in the clothing that you just don't see anymore. Bias welt pockets. Real lace cutouts. Intricate embroidery on woven jackets. Peplums and collars and flounces oh my.

*Spread the word. Find new places to sell my patterns and advertise. I currently have an ad on Ravelry and it does pretty well but I would like to expand.

*Teach. There are a few teachers in my family, so I feel it is in my blood. And what knitter doesn't like talking about what they love to anyone who is vaguely interested?

*Set up a website. I'm not too technical with the computer, so I hope I can find a somewhat user-friendly way to set up a website. The setup of my blog is ok, but I'd like to at least have a page with some basic info about me and a page of all my patterns that non-Ravelry users can see.

*Design more knits for men. I have several requests from my husband in my queue, including a hat made to look like R2D2. Yes, he did promise that he would actually wear it after all the hard work I put into it. New patterns for men are hard to find and to me some of them either look too old (like Grandpa's sweater) or too indie hip. I want to create things my husband (a man not too macho but manly enough) would want to wear.

*Join TNNA. When I read blog posts about designers going to trade shows and how much fun (and tiring) it all is and see photos of the camaraderie I get jealous. I really REALLY want to be there too. There are a few knitting groups in my area but again I don't have the time to go to them, so sometimes my knitting world gets a bit lonely. I'm not sure how I can get the three letters of introduction from current TNNA members, but I will certainly have to try.

*Yarn support. As much as I love going to the local yarn store and petting all the fluffy skeins of wool and alpaca, I would really like to get yarn support for my new designs. I usually end up spending all the money I've made from my patterns on yarn for future projects. I feel a bit nervous and weird about emailing complete strangers and writing "hey, I want to make x with this yarn can you send me some?" But other designers have written that they get yarn support, so it must be possible.

*Support and learn from my fellow designers. Evening hours will be my 'personal' knitting time and I plan on using that time to knit other people's designs. I don't pretend to live in a box, I want to see what other designers do and *how* they do it so I can improve my own work. I really admire Ysolda Teague, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and Joan Mcgowan-Michael. Each one has a totally different design aestetic, but they all manage to create captivating designs and have large bands of followers.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Probably. But I usually plan for more than I can possibly accomplish. Any advice from wizened designers? It would be much appreciated.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spinning Weekend

After neglecting my spinning wheel for several months, I decided to sit down this weekend and spin something start to finish. I had some wool roving in my stash that I dyed in the crock pot that would be perfect- a little over 2 ounces of merino in shades of red, fuschia and purple. On Friday night I divided the roving in half and predrafted into pretty little bird nests.

I started spinning Saturday morning and by the end of the evening had spun half of the fiber. I predrafted the rest and spun all of Sunday morning and plied in the afternoon. It was my intention to spin fingering weight yarn to knit up a Mariposa Shawl for myself. Unfortunately, my spinning is still far from perfect and I ended up with a thick and thin yarn ranging from fingering to worsted weight and only 300 yards. I am still quite happy with how it turned out and someday it will be a lovely hat.