A very happy weekend to all of you! As promised, a few photos from my previous happy weekend at Stitches West. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy sharing them!
As mentioned previously, I went to Stitches West this past weekend. All weekend long, my friends and I were commenting how fun and relaxing it is to spend time with “our people”, and that is the best description I can think of for how much fun I had over the weekend. It is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to attend a Stitches event, and I thought I’d share my highlights from it, in case any of you wonder whether or not it’s worth the money.
- First, yes, it’s worth the money because it only costs $2o (or less, if you find a coupon) to get into the marketplace for the whole weekend! There are lots of familiar yarn companies, but also lots of indie people to explore. I’ve heard complaints that there are too many big names, but my thought on that is that if you have a particular company you really love, it’s a treat to be able to explore their full line of yarns and colors. Typically, yarn stores pick and choose which bases of yarn to carry, and then colors from within those. If you really want to see the full range, this is the place to do it!
- Yoth (Yarn On the House) seemed to be the most popular booth in the entire place. Every time we passed by, they were selling out entire shelves of yarn, and the next morning, a new stock magically appeared. I had not heard of this company prior to the weekend, so it was a great discovery!
- Being the color fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to see lots of gradient kits on sale in various booths. I don’t know if this is necessarily a trend, but I’m glad to see they’re still popular. Playing around with mixtures of colors is half the fun for me, and to walk past booths with lots of color-coordinated kits hanging on a wall is a visual rush. Neighborhood Fiber Company and Abstract Fiber were my favorite stops for these kits because of their extra-rich, saturated colors.
- As far as designers go, is there any better a pair than Steven Be and Stephen West? “Dynamic Duo” is such a well-suited title for them. In a future post, I will share the photo I took with them, but suffice it to say, they make an entrance and there’s no mistaken identities with them! However, aside from their inclination to dress to be noticed, they have equally fun personalities and are the most pleasant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of asking for autographs. I was very honored they complimented one of my designs, and I will keep the photo forever.
- Apple Tree Knits wins my award for prettiest yarn cakes. I had to revisit their booth a number of times before I could pick which cake of yarn I wanted because the truth is, I wanted them all! It’s on my list to learn how to dye and wind yarn into a cake to look like these!
I am honored for a second year to be designing a pattern for Unwind for LA’s 2015 Yarn Crawl. This is one of my favorite yarn and fiber related events, and it is exciting to be asked to design a piece that is guaranteed to be seen by people from all over. Of course, there are specs to the project – I don’t get to simply choose whatever colors and yarn I feel like. It is up to my boss to decide which yarns she would like to promote during the event, and I have to work a design around the colors and yardage I’m given. Of course, this is the difference between working as a fine artist and working as a designer.
I have to admit that the colors she gave me – purple and yellow – did not speak to me at first. Despite the fact they are complementary colors, I didn’t feel inspired to put them together. When up against creative block, I’m always grateful for all the hardworking fine artists out there, both past and present, who produce work purely from inspiration. As I browsed through books and magazines looking for inspiration, I realized that Piet Mondrian’s colorblocking and other color field artists were the perfect jumping off point. I can’t wait to show you the results, but until then, I hope you enjoy browsing through the art that inspired my latest project!
As a designer, I’m very interested in being involved in the fiber industry beyond just a fun social stitching group. Plus, I’m one of those perfectionist sorts who likes to make sure I’m doing things “right”. Knitting and crocheting don’t really have “rights” or “wrongs” as long as you’re happy with the end result. However, if you need some reassurance now and then or if you’re looking for sizing information or want to take your crafting to the next level, it does help to have some sort of standard to compare yourself to. I’ve been compiling a list of organizations that I refer to, and wanted share, in case anyone else would find it helpful.
- Craft Yarn Council – let’s just call them a one-stop shop for pretty much anything!
- The Knitting and Crochet Guilds of America – check them out if you’re looking to start a group or for masters programs.
- Ravelry – if I need to explain why you should be on Ravelry, then you’re in trouble! :)
- National Association of Independent Artists – for those of you interested in joining the craft show circuit and turning your craft into an art form.
- And for all my generous, big-hearted charity crafters – you already had a blog post all to yourselves. :)
If anyone knows of other organizations that you think should be on this list, please don’t be shy about sharing! We crafters are a good bunch – I’m very happy, proud, and fulfilled to be part of the community. Happy Friday to all of you!
I occasionally get in moods where I want to switch up my studio. The truth is, I’m not an overly organized person, and when I’m working, I’m very messy. I have books and yarn and supplies out everywhere, not to mention notebooks and sketchbooks because I take extensive notes about everything I do when I’m writing patterns. It doesn’t bother me when I’m working, but when I stop and look around me, I get the urge to reorganize and clear the decks. I love those magazine photos of artists’ studios in which there are pretty displays of markers and pencils, stacks of neatly folded and color-coordinated fabrics, and shelves of yarn that look as beautiful as a yarn store. A girl can dream, yes?
My problem, which is a problem for many others too, is that I don’t have dedicated studio space. I work in my living room, which must be shared with the whole family. So when I buy things for my “studio”, I have to be mindful that they are fun for me, but still suitable for a living room. If you are looking for some fun little updates, check out this site and do a search for one or all of these terms: yarn, crochet, knitting and have fun choosing. You can thank me later. :)
I am currently designing a sweater/coat, meaning it’s a cardigan shape, but I wanted extra ease so I could throw it over jeans and a top like a jacket. It has been a very long, involved project because it involves color charts which I developed completely from scratch based on my inspiration photos. (More on all that later.) As you can imagine, I’m feeling lots of project fatigue at this point
As usual, the sleeves are the last part to be done. Unfortunately, I completed one entire sleeve only to realize upon bindoff that there was no way it would ever fit into the armhole. My efforts to incorporate added ease resulted in it being entirely too large altogether. But since failure is the opportunity to learn, I took the opportunity to evaluate what I missed in my calculations. Happily, I now have a much more promising-looking sleeve in the works. Below are my top three important factors to consider when you’re doing set-in sleeves – whether you’re adjusting an existing pattern or designing your own.
- Sleeve Length – you need to know the measurements from where you want the sleeve to end to where you want it to stop under the arm, as well as all the way to where it will be stitched at the shoulder. Of course, if you’re making a garment, you should swatch anyway, but this is extremely important for sleeves! Also, after you knit the swatch, WASH IT! Let it dry, and recheck your gauge. I made another sweater in which my gauge was consistent and accurate, but when I blocked the sweater, the sleeves ended up way too long because the fabric stretched by several inches.
- Cap Length – This length is calculated on a number of measurements, but it’s vital that you are accurate! (See Shirley Paden’s book to get in-depth information on calculations.) Essentially, the cap is what will extend past the under arm and cover the appropriate section of your upper arm and shoulder. It should be a curved, bell-shape and must fit the armhole of the main body of the sweater.
- Match Bindoffs - For a set-in sleeve to fit perfectly into the armhole, you need to match the armhole bindoffs. This is easily done, as you can simply refer back to what you did at the armhole bindoffs of the front and back of the sweater.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide to making sleeves, but if you are having trouble with set-in sleeves, perhaps a check of these three things will help you sort out your problem. I’m always happy if I can help someone avoid the same mistakes I made!