A Design from Start to Finish (how this designer earns her keep)

This new design just published a few days ago went through a long process. To be fair, it did sit in the yarn closet for half a year or more to ponder its sins when I got unhappy with it and considered scrapping the whole thing altogether. Usually when I work on a design, I am very focused, and although I put in the hours, it doesn’t take as long in a calendar year because I work better when I’m focused.

I really enjoyed this book because I appreciate it when designers share their sketches and thought processes. Since this particular project was on the needles for a long time, I was extra careful to document everything, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing my process from start to finish. Unfortunately, I don’t have beautiful sketches like Galina’s, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!

It started with The Yarn. I had just bought Freia Ombre Sport and had been toying around in my head with how to best show it off. I’m really nuts for gradated yarns and was so in love with this particular one I left it sitting on my coffee table to just look at.

The inspiration - which hit me on the way to the metro.

The inspiration – which hit me on the way to the metro.

When I was on the way to the metro station one evening, I saw the sun setting with the graphic shapes of the telephone poles and found my inspiration.

I usually do sketches, especially for garments, but the only shortcut I took in this project was to skip the sketching process since I had a visual in my head. So on to the knitting…

The first version

The first version

This photo is the first version. Yes, I got quite a long way in the knitting, and took careful notes and records of everything. I could still write up the stranded version of this pattern, minus the gauge, if anyone wanted it. I was actually quite happy with how this was looking. Considering I skipped the sketching and just started knitting what was in my head, it’s pretty cool I got what I envisioned.

Then my mom came to visit, I showed her the design I was working on, and she gave it to me straight. She flipped it over and pointed out that there were an awful lot of floats on the back. Um, yeah, because just like stockinette stitch curls, colorwork involves floats. Innocently, she looked at me and asked if I thought people would like a scarf with all those floats that could pull so easily.

I really tried to rationalize this one. People spend alot of money to dry clean expensive fabrics. Knitters are used to little pulls and ends that need to be woven back in. Yes, floats on a scarf are much more likely to snag than on a sweater, since on a sweater, they’re all on the inside against the body. But, I thought, it’s not any more fragile than taking care of a lace shawl, and at least this yarn is thicker and much harder to break than laceweight.

But, as mothers tend to do, mine really got into my head, and so this design went to sit in the naughty closet until I could resolve the issue. It took the better part of a year before I found a satisfactory answer.

Closeup_mediumI might still make a colorwork scarf one of these days because I do like colorwork and I stand by my rationalizing. But when I went to Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena earlier this year, I took a class with Franklin Habit on shadow knitting and loved it. I realized that I had just found a solution that would make my mother much happier, should I still decide to gift her with the finished product. :)

Shadow knitting lends itself quite nicely to shapes and playing with contrasting colors. I knew it would show off the beautiful gradations in this yarn and also better express my original inspiration. Once I realized shadow knitting was  the solution that had eluded me, I tore out all my work and knit the entire thing in a month.

My chicken scratch

My chicken scratch

Last, but certainly not least, is the pattern writing. I spend alot of time on this. I take very careful notes about everything, as I’m knitting. I NEVER knit the whole thing and then start writing because it’s impossible to keep all the details in my head throughout the course of the project. The most important part of pattern writing is making sure that whoever buys it and knits it is able to understand exactly what I did. I make my own charts, take my own photos, and do all my own graphic design. I also am very careful to read, reread, let it sit a few days, and then reread it again before I publish. This is not to say there is never a mistake, but I work very hard to keep mistakes to a minimum because I know how frustrating it is to deal with a carelessly written pattern. Even though this is the most tedious part of the process for me, I try to give it proper attention and time.

I am very happy with the result, and I hope if any of you make the pattern, you enjoy it too. If you are a designer, I’d love to hear about your process, and if you make any of my designs, I’d love to see your projects – in progress and/or finished!

Color On the Move Scarf

Color On the Move Scarf

Color On the Move Scarf


Closeup of shadow knitting

Just wanted to share my newest design, freshly published on Ravelry. It is always an exciting day when I finally push the publish button, but this design in particular went through what seems like an extra long process. Tomorrow, once I’ve enjoyed my little self-pat on the back for finally getting this finished, I will share it all with you. I hope you all like it, and if you haven’t tried shadow knitting before, I encourage you not to let it intimidate you! I had alot more fun with this project after I decided to do it in shadow knitting.

The Trip We Almost Cancelled

My daily view

As promised, here is the post about our trip to Lake Tahoe. We almost cancelled this trip because I had just broken my ankle and both my husband and I were worried we’d just be wasting alot of money. Since I was in a cast, could not put any weight on my foot, and could get around only on crutches, the big long list of fun activities we could normally do  was severely limited. No ziplining, kayaking, paddleboarding and playing in the water for me.

I was most afraid of falling, because the fact is, if you break a bone, start healing, and fall and re-break it, the whole 6 weeks of healing starts all over again. And 6 weeks is way more than enough couch time for me, thank you very much. I had already fallen on my bad foot coming home one day and made the subsequent emergency run to the doctor’s for xrays to make sure I didn’t do any damage. Fortunately, even though my foot swelled a bit, I was fine. But better not to tempt fate any further.

Back to our trip, we decided to go anyway. My husband and the kids would do what they wanted to do, I would bring extra knitting and reading and watch from the shore, and we could still have a nice family vacation. I am so very happy we made that decision, as I wouldn’t have missed the scenery for anything. If you are ever stuck in a cast with nothing to do but sit, read and craft, Lake Tahoe provides the most beautiful scenery to enjoy while doing it. This turned out to be the best trip we could have taken because a visit to Lake Tahoe really should be about the scenery. It is a place where you should take the time to absorb your surroundings. I hope you enjoy this small selection of the photos I snapped.

An unfortunate reality in California. This photo was snapped in the car on the way. Forest fires happen so easily - it truly is important here to follow the rules about where you can have campfires.

An unfortunate reality in California. This photo was snapped in the car on the way. Forest fires happen so easily – it truly is important here to follow the rules about where you can have campfires.

The pier by our resort. Yes, I hobbled all that way out. Difficult, but worth it!

The pier by our resort. Yes, I hobbled all that way out. Difficult, but worth it!

We took a day to go to Sand Harbor. The drive from South Lake Tahoe to this beach was beautiful, as was the beach itself. There are rocks to climb around on (which of course, I did NOT do), and beautiful views of alpine forest. It was an exhausting day for me, but very rewarding and I’d recommend Sand Harbor to anyone visiting. A guy I met our first evening in Tahoe recommended it to me.

Beach photo of the beautiful Sand Harbor

Beach photo of the beautiful Sand Harbor

My daughter is ready for Sand Harbor beach.

My daughter is ready for Sand Harbor beach.

Sitting on Sand Harbor beach, I turned around and was met with beautiful views of alpine mountains.

Sitting on Sand Harbor beach, I turned around and was met with beautiful views of alpine mountains.

View of the pines and lake from the cafe in Sand Harbor

View of the pines and lake from the cafe in Sand Harbor.

We spent another day at Heavenly Village, which lies at the foot of Heavenly Mountain. In the winter, this is the place to go skiing. In the summer, you can still take the gondolas up the mountain to get views of the lake that you would never see otherwise. When you reach the top, if you’re not wearing a cast, you can do all kinds of fun stuff like ziplining and a rope jungle. For me, the panoramic views were more than worth hopping on and off the moving gondola.

View looking back of the gondolas

View looking back of the gondolas.

Yes, I had to take breaks, but hobbling all the way around the observation deck was worth it!

Yes, I had to take breaks, but hobbling all the way around the observation deck was worth it!

When you reach the observation deck: splendor at every turn.

When you reach the observation deck: splendor at every turn.

End of Summer Entertainment

This is the last week before my kids go back to school. Usually, I’d be out shopping for school clothes and taking them to the beach since it’s over 100  degrees here everyday and a bit oppressive to do much else. This year I’ve been forced to occupy myself with more sedentary things since breaking my ankle. I’m not particularly proud to say that I’ve allowed my kids alot more TV and video game time than I usually do, but I decided to just relax for this week and reinstitute the usual rules come Monday. So while they busy, I am taking the time to reinvigorate my creative juices and do research for my newest set of designs. Broken ankle or not, I am truly ready to get back to routine, and work is sounding like an attractive reprieve at the moment.

I’ve watched a few interesting documentaries on Netflix – and I am NOT a documentary kind of person. Usually I prefer a James Bond film or a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy to dry documentary material. But there were two I found especially entertaining and inspiring, and therefore worthy of sharing.

The first was Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s. Bergdorf’s is known for it’s window displays in New York, and there is plenty of inspiring imagery in this documentary related to those, as well as interviews with the artists who create them. Other highlights include designers discussing the impact being carried in Bergdorf’s has had on their businesses, and the history of the store and its owners. Although I can’t afford to shop in a place like Bergdorf’s, I do truly appreciate any company that tries to give up and coming artists and designers a chance with all the big players.

The other series I enjoyed is called Chef’s Table, which was another gem I was surprised to find, considering I’m not particularly a foodie. This series follows chefs who create art with their food and presentation. It traces their inspirations and influences, showing you their background, often with beautiful footage of their home country. They talk about all these things, so perhaps this is why I enjoyed it – you are listening to the person who does the creating instead of nonstop narration. And regardless of which industry you’re in, people who are passionate about what they do are also very inspiring.

When I’m not knitting, crocheting, and watching the above-mentioned TV, I’ve been reading. My favorite of all my recent library checkouts was a book about the Hungarian Gold Train called Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. I have been researching Hungary for a new collection of designs I’m working on, and I realized how little I know about the country, despite the fact that one of my closest friends is Hungarian. I was interested in learning about more than just Transylvania and all the vampire mythology, although I do enjoy a good vampire movie as much as the next person. This book falls into the category of historical fiction, but according to the rest of my research, it accurately depicts the events and circumstances related to the Hungarian Gold Train. It is sad (although given what happened, how could it not be?!), but it was a well-written book I couldn’t put down once I started reading.

Although my kids return to school on Monday and I plan to get off the couch as much as possible, I do still have a few weeks left of limited mobility. If you have inspiring books or shows to recommend, I am open to and appreciative of suggestions! And I hope you enjoy my recommendations.

How the Color Purple Was Invented In London

I just came back from Lake Tahoe (photos to come soon), and since I can’t do much with a broken ankle, I had lots of reading time with the most beautiful scenery a laid-up woman could ask for. So for all my hand-dyers out there (or for anyone else like me who finds this stuff interesting), here is a good read about the color purple and its origins. Enjoy.

Knit Me Some Happiness

This short film won an award. Watch it for yourself and see if you agree with me it deserved to win. Enjoy!


My Rescue

There is a lady who comes in our shop whom I happen to be particularly fond of. If memory serves correct, she told me she’s around 90 years old. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, and then one day, she came back in the shop and told me she knew how to get three hunky firemen into her bedroom. I immediately started laughing, although I didn’t entirely comprehend what she meant. She then proceeded to tell me she had had a heart attack (which, of course, made me stop laughing), and that she had called the fire department and thus ended up with numerous handsome firemen in her bedroom, all ready to help her get to the hospital. She is a feisty, humorous old lady, and while I admire anyone who can be tough, I especially admire people who can find humor in what essentially amounts to a bad situation.

I have never had a bunch of firemen in my bedroom, but this past week, I did have to ask the help of lifeguards (and may I just say, the ones who work at Zuma Beach in Malibu are every bit as handsome as any firemen I’ve met). I have never been so grateful for their help. I took my kids to the beach, and as usual, I was playing in the water with them. Call it the crafter in me, but I like to be playing in the water and DOING SOMETHING instead of laying on the sand doing nothing. Plus, I always feel better being closer to the kids instead of watching from the sand. The bonus to being in the water is that I usually see dolphins and am that much closer to them when they make their appearance.

However, I am very respectful of the ocean, and while I love it and can’t get enough of it, I am also very aware of its power. This particular day, the waves were powerful with strong riptide. I was being even more cautious than usual and making sure my kids stayed close to shore. Even so, a wave came in and went right over me, and as usual when that happens, I let it roll me. But as it did so, I felt a painful twist in my foot and instantly knew I was injured. When I came back up, I checked to see where my kids were, checked the next wave sets, and realized in the same instant that I couldn’t put any weight on my foot. I crawled out of the water, doing my best to hold my own against the next wave. I sat there for a few minutes breathing, assuming that once I caught my breath, I could tough it out and stand on my twisted ankle long enough to make my way back up the beach to our things. When I realized I couldn’t stand, I called my kids over and they got the attention of the lifeguards for me. Turns out, I received the attention of three lifeguards. They helped me hop on one foot to our blanket, examined my foot and took my vitals, and put a makeshift splint on my foot. I refused their offer to call me an ambulance because I didn’t want to scare my kids any further.

Turns out, I broke my ankle and will be laid up for 6 weeks. “Laid up” meaning that I have a cast and cannot put any weight on my injured foot. As you may imagine, I have some pain, and am also discouraged at being rendered helpless in one brief instant. But then I think of how good it is that it wasn’t one of my kids who got hurt, because at least I am an adult strong enough to pull myself out of the water and able to control my panic. I didn’t break my arms, so while I’m laid up, I can knit and crochet. And in a few more years, my daughter is going to really appreciate the story of how I got to have the Malibu lifeguards put their arms around me, if only for a few moments in the middle of an emergency. I am also looking forward to letting our customer know that I have now bested her and know how to get the attention of the incomparable Malibu lifeguards. :)

One last note, lest you all think I’m being irreverent, I do want to say thanks to all the firemen and lifeguards out there, as we never realize how much we need them until we are in a situation and in need of rescue. In such situations, we are faced with the reality that they’re the only ones trained and able to help us. I am trying to be humorous and lighthearted, but at the heart of it, I’m just very deeply grateful! If you know an emergency rescue worker, be sure to express your gratitude, as it is most definitely well-earned!


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