Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Knitting a Wardrobe that Lasts



Since I've been working on the dual process of reorganizing my hand knits and my ongoing Stashdown, it's naturally led me to thinking more about the topic of knitting a wardrobe that lasts. Lessons were learned from both projects.

Reorganizing has made me value classic designs and silhouettes even more. They give a garment longevity. 

Really good, strong wool passes the test of time with flying colours.

And speaking of colour, it's really important to work with colours you love and colours that work with the rest of your wardrobe. We can love colours which we don't feel comfortable wearing. Choosing them to knit with, leads to owning a wonderful garment which you have to force yourself to wear. Pay attention to that! It's a lesson going forward in choosing patterns and yarns.

I did notice that some of the items which I still liked that aren't being worn are in colours that I lack garments to wear them with. A few of those items are in a holding pattern. Do I donate them or purchase things to wear them with. I'll let this decision alone for a while. Sometimes I find if I decide to decide later, my answer becomes very clear without spending a great deal of time on it. Things get processed in my unconscious in the same way design challenges work themselves out in the background when I stop trying so hard.

The next lesson is, letting go is hard. I did find that leaving the items I was conflicted about in open laundry baskets where I could see them every day helped. It took about ten days of seeing them and I felt much more ready to let them go. 

The Stashdown has had similar lessons which I think I'll address in another post.




Monday, March 20, 2017

Why I'm not Knitting



After finally beating back De Quervain's tenosynovitis  and getting back to more knitting time, I had a bizarre accident. I was out during a windstorm when a blowing plastic bag hit my legs. I tried to turn to let it blow off, not realizing it was wrapped so tightly around me that I just toppled over. 

Mainly I feel grateful that I didn't break my wrist. What you can't see in the photo is that the parts of my arm that aren't black, blue or purple are a yellowish green.  I'm waiting for the swelling and bruising to go down. I did try ten minutes of knitting yesterday but it was very awkward. I'll try again in a few days.
 

Friday, March 17, 2017

An Interview with...Kelly McClure

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/glenora-hat


Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Kelly here and here on Ravelry. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I love to get outside when I'm not knitting. We recently purchased a ten acre homestead and I feel so fortunate to be able to go out for a hike on our trails every single day. The beauty of this place never ceases to overwhelm me! The patterns and elements that I see in nature undeniably end up in my designs.

What is your favourite knitting technique?

I have to confess that I LOVE grafting/Kitchener Stitch even though many knitters despise it. I find that I use it often, not just on sock toes, but to complete the top of a hat or to join two ends of a cowl. I get so much pleasure from seeing the "perfect" result. 

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hodgepodge-earflap-hat


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I absolutely check out other designers' work! There is so much wonderful inspiration out there that I would be crazy to ignore it, although I get a special pleasure from coming up with an idea that is 100% original. 

Once I have an idea in mind, I always do a thorough search to make sure that I'm doing my due diligence to ensure that I'm not inadvertently "copying" or creating something similar to another person's idea, even if mine is a free pattern. My aim is to always contribute something brand new to the common tapestry. 

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?

It really depends on the pattern. I try to make sure every design is test knit at least once and I'm lucky to have many volunteers. My favourite test knitter is my mom. Even the simplest ideas need another set of eyes. If the pattern is a bit more complicated, I try to have it tech edited as well.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/levity-shawl


Did you do a formal business plan?

Not originally since I was just selling knits at markets and on Etsy, but once I started designing professionally and dyeing yarn for sale, I did do one...I can't say that I've followed it very closely, though...

Do you have a mentor?

Actually, I don't think I really do, although there are lots of talented and incredible women who have supported me over the years and who currently support me. I'm very lucky to live in a community that loves fibre!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mudita-shrug


Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Not really, but I'm always squirreling away ideas.


How do you maintain your life/work balance?

It's very easy to let knitting become a huge part of your identity (and it's so darn popular right now - how are we expected to resist?). I consider myself extremely lucky to be a full-time knitter. My job is not 9-5...it's more like 8 am to 11 pm. But it doesn't always feel like "work" when I'm at home in my pyjamas with Netflix on doing something I love! 

Sometimes it's really hard to tear myself away from a juicy project, but I have a new puppy, Lois, who needs lots of attention and exercise, so she motivates me to put down my needles and go on an adventure.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/orbitus-hat



How do you deal with criticism?

Sometimes it's difficult to receive criticism when you've worked so hard on a pattern and have watched it come together over many months. I'm very stubborn and I'm pretty sure I'm always right. Criticism helps me to consider other perspectives and remember that, in fact, I'm not always right. Luckily, most people in the knitting community are very kind and largely the feedback I get is about minor errors.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I often have a part-time job in an unrelated industry and then delve back into knitting full-time. I would say Bohoknits was around part-time for about 4 years before I started designing hats for a professional company (Ambler Apparel) and that made a huge difference for me. 

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pioneer-gloves


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?

Learn all you can and always challenge yourself by learning new techniques. Knitting has experienced a major Renaissance in the last ten years, so take advantage of that. Pay attention to what is going on out there and listen to the pulse of the knitting community. They will never steer you wrong!


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sockhead-slouch-hat


What’s next for you?

I am planning to release a new eBook of five or six shawl patterns in the next month or two! I would also like to continue dyeing yarn and fibre, however, my studio is a bit defunct until we renovate the space at our new house.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sockhead-cowl

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pom Pom Crazy



http://www.lastejeymaneje.com/2015/01/pom-pom-sweaters.html


I found this on a Spanish blog, it really did make me laugh when I saw it. There's more silliness over there. If you want to check it out just follow the link under the photo.

The blogger also has a Pinterest page.  It focuses on yarn but it includes some really cute pom pom projects as well. Many of them focus on home decor, toys and accessories. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Great Hand Knit Reorganization of 2017

The great hand knit reorganization of 2017 got stalled out a few weeks ago. The combination of not enough space banged up against "I can't get rid of that I spent too many hours knitting it" and "I know I don't wear it any more"!

I kept reminding myself of an organizing rule from an old TV show Clean Sweep. Peter Walsh would tell people they could keep what would fit into a specific space. So I paused and loaded all the questionable knits into laundry baskets while I mulled. It is amazingly hard to let go of garments made with your own hands. 

It did help as I got the shelves and drawers of my armoire looking good. I really didn't want to stuff things back in. 


Wow! that's a lot of knitting, but the stacks mean I can see what I've got.

Here's summer sweaters with the piles graduated so I can see them properly.


I'm still working on the shawls and accessories. You might not get to see a photo when I'm done. That corner of the room is so dark I'm not sure even editing will lighten it up enough.

I finally tossed out some of the things which are not in good enough condition to donate. I had some garments which were in very good shape (thank you, tough hard wearing wool) those ones will go off to donation in the very near future.
  

Friday, March 10, 2017

An Interview with...Holli Yeoh

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/aquitaine-3

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find Holli here and here on Ravelry. 


Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from little moments in my day to day life, stitch dictionaries, street fashion, costumes on TV, nature, fabrics and stitch patterns found in retail shops. The list goes on! I’m always snapping photos with my phone as a visual reference to remind me of ideas I’ve had while I’m out and about. For instance, the frothy waves behind the ferry made me want to recreate them in lace, which ultimately became my Wake design.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Anything to do with knitting! Usually I’m most enamoured with whatever technique I’m exploring in a current design. Right now I’m playing with designing a heel construction for a sock.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stormwatch


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I used to be worried that I would be too influenced by other designers’ work but not any more. I’ve found that even if something they’ve done excites and inspires me, by the time I’m finished exploring the idea it has become my own.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I used sample knitters for the first time when I worked on my book, Tempest: a collection of 11 patterns designed by Holli Yeoh for SweetGeorgia Yarns. Our timeline was too tight for me to do all the knitting myself. Giving up that control was one of the most difficult parts of the project! I would have caught problems earlier or made different decisions if I had done the knitting myself. It was also tremendously time consuming. Between sample and test knitters I was communicating with 45 different knitters on that project!
I do use test knitters occasionally for other projects, which I find helpful. Their input helps me produce a better pattern with clear instructions.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/procella
 

Did you do a formal business plan?
I laughed out loud at this one! I’m chagrined to admit that I’m mostly flying by the seat of my pants and having a great time doing it!

Do you use a tech editor?
Most definitely. I love working with tech editors. They have such a great way of massaging what I’m saying by just tweaking a word here and there. I also appreciate the peace of mind they provide that my numbers are correct.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/avery-8
 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
When my son was small I worked while he slept and later, when he was in school. It was a very part-time endeavour. I really wanted to submit designs to magazines and books, but wasn’t confident I could work with the short timelines. Once my son was more independent (and taking the bus to school!), my time freed up substantially and I have the luxury of devoting as much time to designing as I want. He’s a teenager now and as a family we now focus on creating family time since we all have our solitary pursuits. Oh, and we won’t get into house cleaning. ;-)

How do you deal with criticism?
I don’t think anyone really likes criticism. If it’s valid and constructive I try to learn from it. Sometimes I need to ponder on it before I see its merit and find a way to apply it to what I’m doing. I thank them for reaching out and let them know that I’ve heard them.



http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ee-ling


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Take care of your body! Get in the habit of stretching and taking frequent breaks both from knitting and the computer.
Also, if someone wants to write knitting patterns, read everything you can get your hands on: forums, patterns, technique books. I spent a lot of time reading patterns to determine what I liked and didn’t like about how they were written. From that I was able to pull together my own style sheet for how I wanted my patterns to flow. I listen to what knitters have to say about patterns and their difficulties in following them and try to incorporate their needs into my patterns to avoid their frustrations.
Remember that it took practice to learn to knit and designing and writing patterns also takes practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.

What’s next for you?
I’m always working on secret projects for third-party publishers. So far this year already I expect at least nine new releases.

I would really like to work on another collection and enjoyed the collaborative approach when I worked on my book. I’ve have several ideas I’ve been mulling over but I’ve yet to decide on my next direction.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wake

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hand Knitting versus the Fashion World



What's the disconnect here? I have a weird fascination with the type of garment in the photo above. This one is from Vogue Magazine, it's from Paul & Joe (Pre-Fall 2017 collection). I found it on Pinterest. It's interesting enough for Vogue to cover it on both their British and American websites. I'm guessing that fashionista types must like it, if it gets that sort of coverage.  On the other hand I can just hear my knitting friends listing off the problems they would have making something like this. They would likely say:

  • It's inside out.
  • It's fake or cheater's Fair Isle.
  • The ends aren't sewn in
  • The edges on the scarf are unfinished and that's why it's rolling up. 
  • It looks like a bunch of leftover scraps. 

Did I miss anything? What do you think about the difference between fashion and hand knitting aesthetics?