Our New Place to Chat

I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner, but finally, I created a Ravelry group. I realized I’m always asking you to leave photos and comments  and sometimes it’s harder to do this on people’s blogs than in a place like Ravelry. So, for the benefit of all of us, myself included, here’s the board!

Please come chat, leave comments, post photos, and help me make it a fun, active group. I really look forward to getting to know you all better! Thank you all so much for reading my blog and supporting me up until now, and I hope this group will make it easier for all of us to interact and share photos and projects. See you over there!

What Will Make Me Stop Knitting

I’m the furthest thing from an athlete, but I am more than happy to drop my entire life to watch the Olympics. The general joke in our household is that I don’t watch TV, I just listen while I knit or crochet. The Olympics are the exception to this. I will sit mesmerized for hours watching gymnastics, swimming, water polo (which, while fun to watch, looks horrible to me – treading water constantly and swimming back and forth constantly after a ball? I’d drown from exhaustion!), and any other sport that happens to catch my fancy.

My favorite sports are the running and hurdles (because I am a runner, albeit a 5ker, not a marathoner), gymnastics, and swimming. It is hard to believe Sydney McLaughlin is only 16. And I admire Ashley Spencer for leaving the college she was attending to follow her coach to the U of Texas. I think a good teacher/mentor is hard to find and worth such a big move. I even let my daughter stay up way past her bedtime to watch the American gymnastics team perform, and we were never disappointed!

But I don’t just enjoy watching the sports themselves. I enjoy watching the interviews, and I’m embarrassed to admit, the commercials. My favorite commercial:

Who knew we all have 0.2 mg of gold in our blood?!

The message that we all have something good in us and can strive for excellence is why the Olympics are so popular I think. It’s inspiring, no matter what your career path or goals in life. I’ve heard not only Olympians, but other people at the top of their field say they got to where they’re at by competing only with themselves. Eventually they might compete against the other “bests”, but in their own minds, they are always focused on beating their own best. They believe they have that gold in their blood, and it motivates them to keep working.

What are your favorite moments from the Olympics? Please share with me or tell me what I might have missed.

And if anyone is wondering about my athletic abilities, this video illustrates my level of skill perfectly. Enjoy!

 

What Is a “PutUp”, How a Yarn Company Decides on Yarn Packaging, and Other Answers to Curious Questions

I stumbled upon this site of a very talented crochet designer who is now running her own yarn company. Have you ever wondered why some yarns are sold in skeins, other yarns are sold in balls, and all of them have different yardages? Vashti talks about her inspirations, her process of establishing a yarn company, and all sorts of other details I found interesting. I hope I get to meet her at some point because I admire people who go for it! I hope you all will enjoy browsing her site and find inspiration.

New (FREE) Pattern: Morning Glory Sweater Coat

One of the photos taken as inspiration from our garden
One of the photos taken as inspiration from our garden
Original Sketch
Original Sketch
From the TNNA fashion show runway
From the TNNA fashion show runway

Greetings everyone! It has been a long time since I posted. I will fill you in on my month of July in another post, but while I was preoccupied, good things have been happening. You have already seen a little preview of my latest pattern from the TNNA fashion show runway, but I am really happy to tell you that Brown Sheep Co now has the pattern up on their website as a free download.

I really hope you will like it. I am particularly proud of this pattern because it was difficult to write (due to the custom color charts) and to be perfectly honest, there were points in the process I was ready to give up on it all together. I am glad I persisted with it, because as you can see from the photo and sketch, it had a clear path from original inspiration to sketch to final pattern and finished garment. As my fellow designers can probably attest, it is very rewarding when this happens. More frequently than I’d like to admit, I think I have a gorgeous idea in my head, and then when I start the writing and knitting, things don’t work out the way I expect.

With this garment, I had a clear concept from start to finish. I was sitting in my garden one day sketching, and it was at just the right time of day when the morning glories were fully open. I snapped some photos (see above) and instantly pictured a bright statement sweater coat with colorwork based on the flowers. I drew all the color charts by hand, based off of my photographs, and the sweater took shape from there.

If you would like to pick your own colors for this project, Google Images will give you an array to choose from. Based on my Google search, I was surprised to find that the colors of my flowers are unusual – apparently morning glories are more often in the blue/purple family.  It is knit in Brown Sheep’s Lanaloft, so you will have plenty of yarn colors to choose from to fulfill your own vision, and I encourage you to have fun picking your colors.

Please share photos with me if you choose to make this, and I hope you find it as rewarding to knit as I did to design. I also want to say a big thank you to Brown Sheep for working with me. They had not worked with me before this, and had not met me until the TNNA show, so I am very grateful they were willing to feature my pattern and take a chance on someone new. Plus, if you haven’t worked with their yarn before, you definitely should! Happy knitting!

Choices, Power and Gifts

HelpingHandsThe last few weeks, since I came home from TNNA, I have felt life converging on me. I was so busy before and during the show that I ignored everything except the tasks at hand. Things are now weighing on me because I’m finally in a position to process them. I want to share my new mother/daughter activity with you all, because right now, it seems particularly relevant.

The nightclub shooting in Orlando happened while I was in Washington, DC, as did the death of a former coworker/friend whom we all thought had beaten a particularly vicious cancer. I also have to say goodbye to someone who has been an immense source of wisdom and good advice throughout my time here in CA, and whom I will miss more than words can say. On the other side of the friendship coin, I have also lost what I considered a very close friendship with someone who has tossed me aside for some inexplicable reason.

These things are all part of life, and everyone deals with similar losses at some point or another. I think whether it’s a national tragedy or a personal loss, what most of us struggle with is trying to make sense out of things that simply don’t make sense. We try to understand why it is that some individuals think the only answer is to start shooting schools and nightclubs and, in the case of a friendship that randomly ends, we try to sort through every conversation and detail to figure out what went wrong.

Kittens!
Kittens!

There is power to realizing and accepting that we don’t have to find a reasonable explanation or have the answers for the “why” of everything. Our power lies in holding on to our right to choose what we put out into the world and to not let pain and loss dictate that choice. Power also lies in embracing our gifts, because we all have them, and channeling our bad feelings into doing good. We may still feel our pain and need time to grieve, but it is empowering to know that we always have the choice of what kind of person we want to be.

Catherine_TuttiFruttinewborn
A puppy named Tutti Frutti who was still nursing with its mother. My daughter got to hold it while the mother was out for a walk.
TuttiFruttiGrowing
Tutti Frutti a few weeks older after weaning.
Catherine_kitten
Cuddling the kittens is the best reward for hard work ever!

One of my daughter’s biggest gifts is her love of animals, so I am doing my best to encourage and nurture that gift. Several months ago, I found a pet store that operates on volunteers, works with all the local shelters to fill the store with rescue pets, and accepts younger volunteers. The only time we can do it consistently, especially during the school year, is the early Saturday morning shift. As you might guess, it was hard for me to give up my only morning to sleep in. But in turn, it’s the only morning I don’t have to drag my daughter out of bed to be on time – she’s ready to go with time to spare. With that said, I am always happy I made the effort. She loves it so much, and always works hard throughout her shift without prodding from me.

Cuddling a sick kitten is the best reward for cleaning kitty cages!
Cuddling a sick kitten is the best reward for cleaning kitty cages!

I hope this volunteer job will be something we do together for a long time to come. And I hope it will teach her how to focus herself when she hits a rough spot in life. It has taken me awhile to help her figure out her “thing”, and besides the fact I could never complain about being surrounded by puppies and kittens, it is very rewarding to see her so fulfilled. And I realized that it has been a good lesson for me in accepting things as well. There is nothing wrong with the animals, no reason they deserved to be abandoned, and instead of wasting energy on that side of it, we are all there of our own choice to take care of them and help them find new homes.

The photos I’m sharing with you always put a smile on my face, even on the worst days. I hope whatever is going on in your life, and whatever happens on a national level, you will hold onto your power and find that thing in life that never fails to make you happy at heart. And if you’re already doing it, please comment and share!

 

TNNA Spring Show Highlights

Shot of my designs hanging in the Colinton Australia booth at TNNA.
My designs hanging in the Colinton Australia booth at TNNA.

If  you’re wondering where I’ve been (since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted), the answer is back and forth across the country – the TNNA Spring Tradeshow in Washington, DC to be exact. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had four designs in the fashion show, so this trip was a big deal for me.

As you might imagine, it was incredibly exciting to see my designs walk the runway, but it was also an incredible amount of work beforehand. However, the fashion show is only an hour or so out of a 5-day trip, so I also wanted to share my other personal highlights from the tradeshow.

Morning Glory Sweater Coat - my new design with Brown Sheep Company
Morning Glory Sweater Coat – my new design with Brown Sheep Company
Sheba - my newest design with Colinton Australia - on the fashion show runway
Sheba – my newest design with Colinton Australia – on the fashion show runway

Obviously, I have to start with the fashion show. As a designer, it’s very rewarding after many months of work to see it all being modeled and walking down the runway. My three designs with Colinton Australia were in the show along with a brand new design with Brown Sheep Company. This is a sneak peek of my new design, which will soon be up on Brown Sheep’s website. I did my best to take photos of everything at the show, but the truth is that TNNA’s photographer did a much better job, so I encourage you to check out my Facebook page to see better shots of my designs on the runway (as shared from the TNNA official page). If you visit TNNA’s page, you can see photos of every design in the entire show. Many thanks to Colinton Australia and also Brown Sheep Company for entering my work!

The Colinton Australia booth, with owner Brandyn and her daughter Maegan
The Colinton Australia booth, with owner Brandyn and her daughter Maegan

Which brings me to my next highlight – working with Colinton Australia at their booth. I spent the majority of my time with them – setting up, manning the booth after the show opened to help tell people about the yarn, answer questions, etc. This was a huge learning curve for me, since I am a designer, not a vendor, but it is always helpful to have another viewpoint of your own industry. Running a yarn company takes as much diligence and dedication as being a designer or a yarn shop owner. They came all the way from Australia, so it was great to meet the people I had previously only talked to on the phone. I thank them for the opportunity to learn.

If you aren't familiar with Jill's work, I encourage you to check her out!
If you aren’t familiar with Jill’s work, I encourage you to check her out!

I am always happy to meet fellow designers, and I had the privilege of meeting Jill Wolcott this trip. If you are not familiar with Jill’s work, you will want to look her up. She is an extremely experienced knitter, and in addition, taught at FIDM in San Francisco. She is very knowledgeable about garment construction and writes detailed, concise patterns. She teaches at shows, maintains online classes, and was a dedicated volunteer at the TNNA Fashion Show. She was gracious enough to give me feedback about my work and to share her thoughts on the industry and designing, and I can’t recommend her enough. If you would like to build your knitting skills, particularly in making clothes, you will not be sorry to take a class with her.

My new "friend" - taken at the Little Gidding Farms booth. Lovely yarn, and lovelier people!
My new “friend” – taken at the Little Gidding Farms booth. Lovely yarn, and lovely people!

Awhile back, I noticed someone by the name of LGFSuris followed me on social media. LGF stands for Little Gidding Farms and the name caught my fancy, so when I noticed they had a booth at TNNA, I had to introduce myself. Take it from me, their alpaca is as soft and lovely as you could wish alpaca yarn to be, and they were as lovely as their yarn. They even graciously took my photo more than once when it didn’t turn out the first time. Their name, by the way, is a reference to a T.S. Eliot poem.

I am very happy to tell you that my final highlight will be ongoing, and a great opportunity for all of you. Colinton Australia and I will be partnering on kits, starting with my Unfurled shawl. Their colorist put together a number of palettes, and you will be able to order kits that include your choice of palette, plus the pattern for an excellent price. Save your yarn money, because it will be a great deal from a company that NEVER puts their luxury fiber on sale! I may also do a KAL at the same time, just to make it more fun for all of us. More details coming soon in another post!

Sheba

20160501_152934As promised, here are more photos and details about my latest design with Colinton Australia. This started out as a long-sleeve sweater with different yarn, and after working on it for a short time, we changed direction. We realized if I worked in UltraFine Lace, I would have a design in each of the Colinton bases. It also works well for us both to have three pieces in the TNNA fashion show featuring my collection of work in mohair and all three weights of her yarn.

She also suggested I take a look at 1920s fashion, which surprised me at the time, because my focus has been to show mohair in a modern way. However, once I started perusing all of my books on fashion in that era, (Coco Chanel’s work in particular), I realized how much the 1920s silhouettes still influence what we wear today. (And who am I kidding – I really love the fact I had an excuse to study Coco Chanel’s work for a week!)

The 1920s featured a very loose, drapey look, with wide v-necks in the front and back. All of the clothing was very heavy with beading and embellishments, and women tended to wear more makeup – strong lipcolors, eyeliner, etc. Even though the fit was relaxed, it was still a very formal look. A popular look was called tabard, which was basically a top with an opening for the head, but did not have side seams. I was inspired by the drapey look of these tops, although seaming the sides seemed much more practical for today.

In comparison, modern fashion is all about mixing high and low. I think this is why 1920s looks can be translated so well into modern fashion. You can take things that are embellished or formal, and pair them with jeans and flip flops if you’re running errands or dress up your ripped jeans with heels (as I did here) and be ready for a night out. All body types look good because of the loose, easy fit, and it makes the wearer feel confident. Fashion is known to be cyclical, but it seems like the 1920s have had a far-reaching influence, and I’m inclined to think it’s probably because the silhouettes were so flattering for everyone.

With all that said, I present Sheba (inspired by the film of the same name that garnered so much attention in the 1920s).

Front

Back

It is a fun, relaxing knit with an easy-to-memorize slip stitch pattern, a V-neck in the front and back, and a drapey, loose fit. It is worked from the bottom up and includes a few simple short rows to add a flattering hemline shape in the front and back. The textures in this piece subtly mimic the rows of beading in original 1920s clothing, and you can customize the neckline to be open or more tightened up.

Closeup

I hope you like this design, and if you choose to make it, please share photos with me. I would love to hear your thoughts, and I hope to be able to share highlights from the fashion show with all of you. Have a beautiful weekend!