Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Social Knitting Inspiration Part 2

I let my idea from this post marinate for a while. Then I sorted another yarn box and found a lot more yarn which worked with the ones from my original post. Humm...since part of the reason for developing these projects is to use up stash as well as have some simple carry around knitting I think I want to plan a bigger project. Are you noticing that idea generation is a very crooked path? I've already bagged up some alternative yarns which would work for the caplet idea. Everything is 100% wool. The cone is lace weight but could be doubled stranded or combined with the two fingering weights since the Rowan is a worsted weight. I suspect some of you are questioning the idea of combining weights of yarn in one project. As long as the care instructions are the same for all the yarns it can be done. Choose a needle size to work with the heaviest yarn and make sure the yarns are well blended. Don't do any large areas of a single yarn and it works beautifully. The Dolly Bantry Shawl was designed specifically to blend yarns. I've knit four of them in the last two years.

I'm sure I have one or two more skeins which would work colour-wise with these. That's once I find them? I'll bag these up and put them aside while I work on the previous batch.

I'm working on a different idea for the blue, green and mauve yarns. It's a technique which has been rumbling around in my head for a while now. It's called helix or spiral knitting. I first saw this in Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook. I have the 1993 version. Techknitting has two posts on her blog about it and an article in Interweave.

I've also seen many hats and sock produced with this technique. 

Here's a few examples:

It's a way of blending yarns in single row stripes. I'm off to do some more swatching, silhouette consideration and marinating for the first batch of yarn.


Monday, October 24, 2016

How to Read your Knitting Part 2

Before I get into this topic I want to cover something about the basic nature of stocking stitch. It's wider on the front than the back and it's longer on the back than the front. This has to do the difference between the knit and the purl stitch. But even more confusing to novices is that the knit stitch and the purl stitch are the same stitch, but they are reversed on the opposite sides of the fabric. If you turn the work over the knits look like purls and the purls look like knits. If you only knit you get garter stitch. What if you only purl? You get garter stitch. When we teach someone to knit, we usually start with the knit stitch only. Later on we add in purl and while some one is learning the different movements required they don't readily recognize it as a reverse of the knit stitch. 

Now back to the curling problem. I want you to look carefully at some of your knitting. On the knit side the stitches look like Vs, on the purl side you'll see bumps which are more horizontal in nature. 

The bump is a little misleading because all you are actually seeing is the top of the stitch. The rest of it is hidden. Take the knitting and pull it apart, visually following the top of the stitch down and you will be able to see the whole stitch.

Here's an unblocked swatch:

It's rolling in two spots. One is where I have knit stitches facing and the second roll is where I have purls stitches facing. Here it is steam blocked:

If you look closely you'll see that the knit stitches (the v) are a shade wider than the purl (the bump) stitches.This makes the whole knit side wider than the purl side. However, the purl stitch requires a little more yarn to work than the knit stitch does, it's due to the path the yarn must travel when being moved to insert your needle from the front. Next time you are knitting watch very closely and try it for yourself. It's partially dependent on your knitting technique. When you bring the yarn to the front of the work to purl you add in a little extra length of yarn by crossing in front of the needle which gets eaten up into the stitch making it just a little longer. How much longer varies between knitters. 

This is very difficult to see because most of the purl stitch is hidden from view. The right side of stocking stitch is pushing out to the sides horizontally, the wrong side of the stocking stitch is pushing vertically on the top and bottom edges. So why is this curling limited to stockinette? Think about the section of garter at the top of my swatch. The stitches are the same on both sides, so there is no difference between length and width.

My tech editor Mary Pat explains the difference like this: Stand up, drop your head forward onto your chest. Extend your arms straight out at your sides, push them towards your back while dropping them down with your fingers pointing to the floor.  That's a single knit stitch


Friday, October 21, 2016

An Interview with... Randi @ Randi K Design

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 Randi here and  here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I never search for inspiration, but can often find it in things around me. Colors can take me down many paths, and with my Norwegian background, patterns are pretty easily developed. I can remember a wallpaper on a Mexican restaurant made a great impression once, and an old Norwegian woodcarving became a pretty mitten pattern. I travel a lot, and get influenced by many cultures. As I love architecture, old buildings, beautiful tiles and pottery, woven blankets, embroidery etc, etc, soaking it up like a child in a candy store.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I can handle most all techniques, hard to pick one, but I guess I work mostly with stranded patterns. Since colors often gets me started, I guess color work is what I most often end up with.

How did you determine your size range?
For children size clothing, I design and work one of the sizes, then I add another 3 - 4 sizes larger/smaller than my model. These will all be worked by test knitters. 

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
It is very hard not to be influenced by other designers, especially since I get "high" on color combinations. I might see colors used, that easily could influence one of my up-coming designs, consciously or not. I hope that I myself can inspire other knitters in the same manner, but would never except my patterns being copied for profit by someone else. We all put a lot of work into creating and writing, and I highly respect other designers' work the same way that I am sure they respect mine.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
If we are talking several sizes, I often work 2, 3 sizes myself. In addition, I use at least one test knitter for each size, sometimes more. They all look for mistakes in charts and text. I write my patterns in 2 languages, English and Norwegian, and I have a couple of proof readers on the English versions.

Did you do a formal business plan?

Do you have a mentor?
No. I have knitted from childhood, my mentor was my mother many years ago. My background is Graphic Design, so color combinations, shapes and patterns basically goes hand in hand with what I did in my profession as a Graphic Designer. For me it is all playing and fun.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I really don't. I am really not at all that professional, but I have always had a very strong need for creating. Years ago I made and sold clothing to stores, but not anymore. However I like to share my creations with others, so I started to write patterns. These are sold on a few web addresses, also Ravelry and Etsy

Do you use a tech editor?
I use proof readers.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I do not stress work, at least I try not to. My life is extra ordinarily busy as it is, traveling a lot between Norway, USA and Africa, almost never staying more than 2 months in one place. I work for pleasure more than for income, although it is inspiring with great feedback, and I enjoy seeing pattern sales "take off".

How do you deal with criticism?
I try to put on a smile no matter what, and I always try to help when needed. Feedback is great, bad or good. It gives me a chance to correct and do it better next time. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
For me this is "play money", and I can not see that this will make me rich in any way or form. I would have to take on a way more serious work ethic, which at this point I have no time or energy to maintain.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Go with your heart, if this is your passion. Take advice from someone that succeeded, but be prepared to work hard.

What’s next for you?
Who knows? Depends on where I land in the end. Maybe a book?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Social Knitting Inspiration

I mentioned recently I was going to set up some really simple social knitting projects. The things I'm working on for patterns often don't work well for my carry along projects and I have lots of small amounts of yarn I don't want to give away or waste. 

I spent some time on Pinterest looking for silhouette ideas and specifically chose things with more than one colour. Notice that two of these items are crochet. I did that on purpose. Projects are made up of colour, texture and shape. I can generate ideas from alternate fibre sources and I prefer to do so I know I'm not being overly influenced by another knitter's work. I look at vintage garments, woven fabric garments, crochet and sewing sources as well. I know I don't want to use garter stitch but I do want an easily memorized stitch. Using crocheted items will move me further away in terms of a stitch pattern. Apparently fringe is calling to me?

In terms of colour, I have lots of blue, some greens and  mauve's to play with. I could do some sort of striping with double strands, perhaps changing out one colour at a time.

There's a pause here while I do some swatching, weighting of yarn to guesstimate yardage and work some calculations. I think I'm aiming for something like the two photos on the left. I want something longer though. I like the soft cowl like neckline on the crocheted version but I'm not sure that will work with my yarns. A backup plan would be to add an edging to draw the neckline in if it looks too stiff. 

Then the silhouette would be more like this, without the bottom edging:

I could also keep going and add a scarf like this:

This is how far I've gotten. I've done a swatch and cast on. Ignore the bright yellow yarn. That's a provisional cast on with waste yarn. Next, I like to let ideas marinate for a little while.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Knitters Day Out

Last Friday I spent the day out with my monthly knitting group. Two of our members have moved outside of the large city most of us live in, so Friday was a day trip. Four of us headed out in the Ladies Who Knit Limo. We've visited one of our members in her new home and then headed out for tea at a lovely spot in Deseronto Ontario. Fabulous food, fabulous company and fabulous fun!

Here's a few photos so you can share the fun.

The corner by our table for six

The ladies room

The front dining room

Me trying to capture some of the gorgeous flowers

The larger dining room, our table was the first one on the left.

The menu
Tea cups in the trees

Friday, October 14, 2016

An Interview with...Tatiana Tatianina

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 Tatiana here and here on Ravelry. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Usually it comes suddenly without any special findings. Just something from inside out pushing me to grab needles or hook.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love lace most of all. Lace and cables together sounds good as well.

How did you determine your size range?
As I love lace dresses I found that they fit for slim bodies. So I prefer 34-40 sizes.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I randomly look at the Internet and if something is interesting I put it into my “collection of ideas”.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I am not quite sure that I understand “dumbing down” right but in any case I consider that everyone should be guided by his own feeling of what is right and what is wrong. Something “dumbing down” for one person could be starting point for beautiful idea for another person. Try everything that you find interesting.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I prefer to do everything myself so I have no testers yet but I am working on it.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No. Never.

Do you have a mentor?
I could call my grandmother as my mentor. She passed away 2 years ago at the age of 91. Of course it was her who taught me and my sister how to knit, crochet, sew, and embroider. But now I think it was not pure skill that we learned from her. It was joy, happiness and love. We experienced the power from her when she was doing all these arts. So we learned exactly the sense. That is the way how masters taught their apprentices in old days. They radiate the love.

Do you use a tech editor?

How do you deal with criticism?
I hate it *smile*. It is pain but it is the way to learn more. True critics show the way to improve and I love to become better than I was yesterday.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
2 or 3 years after I finished my CEO career.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Love yourself, listen yourself, trust yourself only because you only know what is right. You are the judge for yourself.

What’s next for you?
I always have 4-5 ideas in my mind. Moreover recently I found weaving could be my next passion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tossing the Stash

Sometimes we just can't escape our past. I'm still working on the great stash down. That was what prompted my previous post on the scarf craze. Now I'm looking at good yarns but often in small amounts and different weights. I tried to bundle some of them up for donation and then fell into the trap of feeling wasteful. This is where my past comes in. My paternal grandparents came to Canada from Scotland in the late 1920s. My grandmother came from a family who while they weren't wealthy, they were hard working merchants and enjoyed the fruit of their efforts. She was the oldest daughter in a large family and all of the kids worked in the family business at very young ages. She never got over the depression. She was frugal to a fault. She lived with us from the time I was 10 so she had many opportunities to share her concerns about money. It also didn't help when my husband saw some partial balls (too small to donate) in the garbage and started teasing me that maybe I should keep it because someday I might not be able to afford yarn.

Later that day I attended the Fluevog Knit Night.

I had my social knitting project to work on since my current design project isn't very portable. My friend was working on some complex lace and cursing herself for not having something more appropriate for social knitting. My project is relatively small so it won't last much longer. 

I'm on the garter stitch short row section of this pattern:

I'm knitting it in this gorgeous yarn from a trip to Rhinebeck a few years ago. 

I realized this morning while sorting my stash that the yarns I'm not happy about not using could be used for some very simple social knitting projects, either in garter or something equally simple. I started grouping for colour and I wanted to share a super simple trick for combining colours. 

See this, it's Malabrigo Rios in the colour 856 Azules. They already developed a great colour palette that I can use as inspiration. 


Here's a few other yarns in my stash that fall in the same colour range.

The trick...all you do is hold every yarn up against the original multicolored yarn, if it looks good together to your eye put it in the use pile. If it doesn't, it goes elsewhere. I'll probably double up that lace weight. I'm thinking a maybe a cowl or a cape-let mixing the yarns together. I have more yarns than I show in the photo. I'll poke around on Pinterest and Ravelry for some inspiration and I'll let you know how it goes later.