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Archive for January, 2015

I could have skipped yesterday. It promised to be a humdinger before I even got out of bed.

Yarn Rascal, bless his little soul, is nocturnal. So he’s a busy little guy during most of the night. Yesterday morning the first thing I saw when I woke was what looked like a giant hole gnawed in the bed sheet. On closer inspection I realized it was as it looked: a large, gnawed, hole. Yarn Rascal was in his usual daylight position, sound asleep under the covers near the bottom edge of the bed. The little sheet eater was exhausted.

Since Yarn Rascal hasn’t eaten a sheet in awhile, The Skipper and I think what happened was one of his bones got caught up in the sheet and he was gnawing the bone with the sheet in the way. A scenario in which he really isn’t to blame. To him he’s chewing on his bone as we’ve taught him to. The hole is about the size of Montana, and I am in search of some nice fabric to mend it.

With trepidation, I put my feet on the floor and started my day. Things continued to go down hill. Most of them little, but it ended up with me putting my sweater on backwards and walking around all day wondering why it was so tight around my neck.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been scouting some of the male knitwear fashions shown for 2015. I think the watch word is texture, texture, texture. Here is some of what I’ve seen that’s inspiring me.

giorgio armani. love the patched together look.

giorgio armani. love the patched together look.

interesting textures playing off each other by pic de nore

interesting textures playing off each other by pic de nore

Again, texture is the operative word. This by malesherbes

Again, texture is the operative word. This by malesherbes

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Knitting on the Canyonette Shawl continues and is nearing the end. All in all, it’s been a great project for the knitting break I needed. Now it’s back to the hard work.

I am being haunted by Ming Blue. Though it doesn’t exist in knitted form any longer, I feel I need to justify why it doesn’t. In truth, if I had known I’d feel this bad, I wouldn’t have killed it. Instead I would have folded it up and put it away. Lesson learned.

girl's smock 001

sketch girl's 1960 smock 1

Yes, Ming Blue came out looking very much like what I imagined in my design. Though I changed the cuffs from the initial drawing, I was still liking the overall form. I felt the clean, close line of the knitted cuffs worked well with the shape of the mandarin collar. The gentle blouse shape of the sleeves above the cuffs went well with the A-line body shape. The overall effect was one of an artist’s smock circa 1960s kind of thing. The patch pockets were and integral part of the smock-child-1960s look. So what didn’t I like? Where did the prototype fail?

Color. I have no yarn stores near me, so every yarn I procure is via the internet. In turn, I very much depend on the colors being what they look like on screen. If I had been able to hold the turquoise, lime green, and pink yarn next to each other in my hands, I would have seen that the pink had a bluish cast that when put next to the lime green deadened what should have been a pop, vibrant splash of color.

As one who paints in acrylics, I am used to mixing my own colors to get the right one, so it really bothered me that the bluish cast of the pink killed the vibrancy of the lime green. The pink needed to be more toward the red / yellow area of the color wheel. While the right orange would have been a perfect color triad, I wanted the retro look that a bright pink would bring.

To off-set this problem, I tried to work the checkerboard with turquoise separating the pink from the green. Since a color is greatly affected by those that surround it, the separation made the pink pop and it lost it’s bluish cast. It also made the lime green pop. However, I was not happy overall with the way the checkerboard looked with the turquoise separating the colors. I wanted edgy 1960s, not something off the farm from Iowa. I used a slipped stitch pattern to create the checkerboard with the turquoise separation and I liked the way it looked on the reverse side as opposed to the stranded method I used originally. With the slipped stitch pattern I wouldn’t need to create facings, except perhaps around the neck, because the floats were not too exposed.

The second thing that killed the design was the facings. Knitting a facing and then properly sewing it so it covers the float area but does not affect the drape of the hem, cuff or neck on the right side takes time and patience. I want knitters who buy my patterns to enjoy creating their projects. I want them to like the project as much when they finish it as they did when they started it. Sewing facings is fiddly work. While I don’t mind it, I can see where it would not be a hit with all knitters. I could see them jettison the facings altogether and their end product would not be the nice, neat looking garment inside and out that I had designed it to be. Thus, they would not be happy.

The third thing to kill the design was the buttons and their placement. It had a clown costume feel to me that I just couldn’t get beyond. If I changed the neckline I could have rectified this, but I wasn’t willing to make that change. The more I thought the more I realized the mandarin collar had become the main point for me around which I was designing and not the 1960s look that I first zeroed in on.

And so there will be two sweaters coming out of this attempt. There will be a 1960s child’s smock and there will be a mandarin collared garment with clean lines and frog closure. The latter garment will be named Ming Blue Too.

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Yarn Rascal’s Birthday

Yesterday was Yarn Rascal’s birthday. He is officially into his adorable twos. In addition to being yarn loving, he is also into snow, especially the kind momma has to shovel before his short legged little self goes out. Mother Nature celebrated his birthday with a very, very late evening snowfall. 3 am to be exact and he was just wiggling to get out there and rip around in it. (Yarn Rascal, by the way, is nocturnal. Midnight to 5 am is prime time for him.)

But before my loving bundle of fur could go out, I had to shovel for him. At least 4″ (10) cm had fallen and it was still snowing hard. I shoveled a nice large area, purposely avoiding the melting glacier, which is a field of smooth ice that has taken over a portion of the yard. At its deepest frozen point I believe we could go ice fishing. It’s a little disturbing, in a Stephen King kind of way.

With little one’s area nicely shoveled I put on his retractable leash and out he bounded. He traversed what I thought, and my back muscles agreed, was a large shoveled area in less than a second, diving into the untouched snow. A retractable leash only goes so far. Devil Dog’s is 16 feet (4.87) meters. Not a long length when the little love bug on the end is ripping around so fast he’s a blur of snow and fur.

Trying to stay up with him, I somehow ended up on the ice field and didn’t know it. So when cuddles zoomed past for the umpteenth time and I tried to keep pace I fell, just like I would on an ice hockey rink. I went down on my right wrist, the leash being in my left hand. One minute I was standing, the next I was looking at last year’s leaves and grass frozen beneath the ice field.

Yarn Rascal is a very sensitive little guy. He immediately came rushing toward me, ran over me, then raced in circles around me and the only thing I could think of was RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Rest? Check. I was at rest, albeit face down. Ice? Check. I was icing any possible injury as I was in laying on the ice and snow. Compress? Check. The wrist I had fallen on was pinned under me, that counted as compression as far as I was concerned. Elevate? That was a bit of a problem. But three out of four not bad, I thought.

I finally did manage to ease myself off the ice field without standing. By the time we got back in the house we were both covered in snow. Fur child’s hair was filled with thousands of small and medium snowballs that form when his hair and snow collide. They had to be defrosted and then the hair dried. That was a process.

Surprisingly, I have no problem with the wrist, not even a twinge. Rest, Ice and Compression work well when immediately applied.

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I’ve been reading a lot of patterns by indie designers. Many indie designers can benefit from developing a style sheet to make their patterns more readable, consistent, and stand out from the pack.

First, brand your patterns. That means thinking about the layout and the look of your pattern. Where you place things, font type and size, headers and footers, logos, helpful hints, color scheme all need to be decided prior to writing a word. What look and style you choose for your pages should remain consistent within the pattern and in other patterns that follow. The look and style becomes your brand, your calling card; it represents you and your design business.

Font type and size is a good place to start. Did you know that most people in the US cannot read cursive writing? Cursive writing is script. An example is given below.

cursive-handwriting-ftr

Out of the 50 states that make up the US, 41 do not teach cursive writing in their school systems. So not only can people not read cursive writing but they are also unable to sign their names because they cannot do cursive writing. Therefore, when writing patterns do not use any font that resembles cursive writing anywhere in your pattern, including the pattern title and your company name.

For the directions in the pattern you want an easy to read font, preferably serif. Studies have shown serif type makes reading long passages easier on the eyes.

serif-sansserif

Fonts you want to avoid are anything with unusual or decorative lettering, overly wide letters, overly narrow letters, too thick letters, too thin letters. In short, avoid anything fancy. Times New Roman is a good font. Boring? Yes, but easily readable.

Next is selecting font size. For the body text of the pattern, 11 or 12 pt is suggested. Anything smaller is harder to read. You want the knitter to be able to easily read the pattern.

In summation: A good pattern font is Times New Roman, size 11.

Next up: Size and font for title and headings.

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I Won

I had a rather interesting weekend, aside from the ice storm. It is the absolute truth when I say I have, until this weekend, never won a thing in my life. So it was on a whim that I entered and won the Shalimar Yarn give away being run in the Shalimar group on Ravelry.

They were giving away 3 skeins of Shalimar Breathless in your choice of colors and 3 lace scarf / stole patterns by the designer Melanie Berg. Her designs are quite wonderful and worth the look.

My choice of yarn colors were Petal, Molly Coddled, and Thistle.

Shalimar Breathless Yarn

I have been dying to try this yarn for a long while. The colorways are gorgeous and quite inspiring to me as a designer. I can see a number of baby sweater designs being created specifically to show off the wonderful palette of colors Shalimar has. But first I really wanted to work with the yarn, see how it behaves before designing with it. This win allows me to do just that.

The three Melanie Berg patterns I won are these beautiful lace designs:

Stole of the Seas.

stole_of_the_seas_melaine berg

Sihaya

sihaya_2_medium2

Grand Bazaar.

grand_bazaar_4_medium2

I can’t wait to get these on my needles. A big thank you to Shalimar Yarns and Melanie Berg. I am one very happy, happy, knitter.

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The Canyonette Shawl is on the move forward once again. I was finally able to wrap my brain around the simple direction to “Turn clockwise”.

canyonette shawl 001

I still have a lot of shawl to go. I’ve only started the second section. Because I lost one skein to frogging difficulties I need to order another, or so the rational little voice in my gut tells me. However, I want to wait until I am on the final skein.

I should listen to the little voice right now. But why make things easy? The little voice says if I order now I might be able to get the same lot number as my other skeins so everything will blend nicely. Good point. The little voice is absolutely correct. So tonight I will jot down the lot number and put it next to my computer where it will sit for days before I notice it again and then wonder what the heck the number refers to. I know me.

canyonette shawl 002

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Close To Checkmate

I have to admit that I am a bit stuck at the moment. Kitty sitting is done, allergy levels back to normal, head cold has faded away and I am knitting again on the Canyonette Shawl.

canyonette shawl

The yarn, Mini Mochi by Crystal Palace, has beautiful colorways but I will never use it again. The thickness is uneven and it is barely spun. It splits constantly. Forget about ripping back if you make a mistake. The yarn catches on itself and snarls up easily. I lost a whole skein on one mistake I had to fix. It was impossible to keep the yarn from snagging on itself.

I have completed the first section of the shawl and am about to start the second section and this is where I am stuck. I am having trouble figuring out how the second section is begun. The two key words in the instructions that have me reeling is “Turn clockwise….” I have studied the picture above, I have searched Ravelry for insight into my problem, but have found nothing.

I dare not take up needles and try anything that isn’t going to stay together forever with this yarn and so I am stuck. I stare at it. It stares at me. I sigh, look away, pick up the instructions read “Turn clockwise” for the seventy-fifth time, then put the instructions down. I think we’re almost at the point of checkmate.

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