Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And What Will I Knit?

I'm trying to stay on my toes and up to date with everything I have to design, knit, and just do with my life in general. So far, so good. For now. I think. I've managed to get my current projects under control and am now starting to think of what I want to work on next. One design that will be first up in line will probably be making a bit more progress on that lightweight hat for Chris. It's going painfully slow (slower because I look at it more than I actually work on it). The yarn doesn't thrill me. The only reason I'm plowing forward with it is that I want to give it to Chris... and I'm curious to see how a hat in this material (linen, hemp, cotton, modal) works up. Yes, I know, it will stretch out. I don't care. ;o) So there. The other design I'm itching to get back to is this cute (hopefully) summer top that I'm working in Knit Picks Simply Cotton colors. I gotta say, for a cotton yarn a really like Simply Cotton. I'm not normally a huge fan of knitting with plant fibers. It's just not "my thing" really. I adore merino. Nice, simple, good stretch, comfortable. It's got all positives in my book... except you can't do a whole lot with it for warm weather wear. This can pose a problem. Because of this I am very grateful to have found a cotton I know I can turn too when I have an idea for a warm weather knit.

One thing that I've been staying ahead on is planning what I want to wear to Chris's brother's wedding. It's not until the end of July, so yes, I have plenty of time. But, as knitters will be aware of, I need time to make accessories! And of course I can't knit a shawlette or shrug or anything unless I know what colors to choose. I certainly don't want to attempt finding a dress to match the accessories. I have enough trouble finding the dress itself without any extra added restrictions. (My own set of rules on material, cut, and color are quite enough thank you very much.) Now, if this wedding is in July I need to get working now because I won't be able to be monogamous in my knitting and designing. And that's the other thing. Do I want to design a small shawl or shrug? Or do I want to cut myself some slack and browse Ravelry for something already written up? Really I'm following myself by even contemplating this. I already know the answer. I'm never satisfied with anything I make unless I've designed it myself. That's the whole reason I decided to start Fiddle Knits in the first place. Knowing all of this I decided to spend some time on Saturday at the mall with the single focus of dress shopping. I spent 5 hours at the mall. I tried on LOTS of dresses. I didn't like anything. If Chris didn't work at the mall and I hadn't gotten to spend his long dinner break and a shorter break with him than I would have been even more annoyed than I ended up being. As it was my feet hurt and I was frustrated with myself, current fashions, and just about everything else I could think of. So when I got home I immediately went on Etsy to look for a dress there. I found a few things and have currently narrowed it down to one (for now, but I am still looking). The dress I found is the one in the photo. What do you think? I want to look glamorous and sexy and sleek and just nice. I think this dress is interesting with the flowers brightening up the black background. I tend to look best (I think) in darker colors, but since this is a summer wedding I didn't want to end up in all black. I hadn't been wanting a long dress because, well, I wanted to show a little leg and get some cute sandals with heels. But.... maybe the long dress will look more glamorous anyway? And then... what to knit for it? I'm thinking a little shawl would work best with this style dress. And then there's what color to pick... So many decisions! What will I do??

Friday, April 23, 2010

Scotch Mary! Printed version available!

It's here and the problem is solved!
I had organized and uploaded a file of the Scotch Mary Cardi pattern (and blog entries) to an online printing site shortly after the Sweater Project came to a close. Unfortunately there were some issue with the color of the printing, so that held off the publish announcement for a while. However, I am happy to say that the latest proof arrived in the mail today and it looks great! So... I've approved the job and it is now available for purchase! The printed copy is contains all relevant blog entries documenting the design process along with full color photos of swatches an the cardigan in progress. It also, obviously, contains the full pattern, color photos, and schematics for the design. You can find the Scotch Mary booklet by going over to MagCloud.

$9.00 usd

Friday, April 16, 2010

Note to Self

Dear Self,
When knitting top down garments please remember that you hate having to fuss with turning an entire sweater around in your lap once you go back and begin working the sleeves. Yes, it is very convenient to not have to sew seams. Yes, I agree top down raglans are very sweet. But please, please, try and remember to stop shortly after separating the sleeve stitches and put the point protectors on your circular needle, drag out some dpns, and get to work on those blasted sleeves before the garment becomes a whole and it's massive bulk needs to be tossed around at the end of every dpn. Why, dear Self, do you never remember to do this until it's too late? Usually you don't remember this little tip until you've already placed the held sleeve stitches onto those funky little dpns and start heaving the sweater around. Is this really so hard? Too much to ask? I beg of you, remember!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

OMG math!

So I'm in the process of designing and knitting a new garment that I am not at liberty to divulge the details of right now. You will all have to hang tight and watch back here sometime in late Summer. With that being said, I'm going to talk about the design while attempting to remain a little cryptic. (I've decided that as long as I don't give details, or show photos it's all still cool.)

The design is, as I already mentioned, a garment. Sorry, no hints on construction or shaping or texture or color... you get the point. It's a close fitting garment that I'm working out to fit bust sizes:
XS(S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3x); 28(32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52)"
Finished bust sizes are:
30(34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54)"

Have I mentioned before how much I don't like math? I avoided it as much as I could in school. My mom forced it upon me (I was home schooled) and I felt like a poor tortured child. I got out of math a lot by playing music instead. There were many days when math was brought up and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to practice my violin. I knew I could get out of a math lesson that way since music was a very important part of life in my house. I guess I owe a lot of my development as a musician to my avoidance of math. They do say math and music go together, right? I don't think that's quite what was meant when it's said they help one another. Anyway, I'm completely going off course here.

I got through sizing the body of this garment in sizes Xsmall to medium without much difficulty. For one, these are the sizes I am most familiar with making myself. (My sister is XSmall, I get a size Small, and mom gets the size Medium). And yes, I have designed other garments before, and yes they also go up to size 3X, however, this particular design has a few more things for me to think about than past garment designs.

Oh, perhaps I should note that for the sample knit I need to make the size Large. No biggie.

I wrote the skeleton of the pattern up in the smallest three sizes and set it aside for a few days. There was one little element that was driving me nuts. Once the nuts start hitting it's best to stop, get some ice cream, and then come back properly refreshed. I came back to it today armed with a few things to help keep me sane– chocolate and hot tea and a calculator (listed in order of importance). I think it might have been the chocolate, because I had such a huge DUH moment it was incredible. Huh wha? Yeah. It's really amazing how your brain can know how to do something, but for some reason there's this mental block you can't for the life of you figure out how to move because for a few minutes (or days, and maybe longer) you have misplaced all your tools. The lesson I have learned? It is essential that a stash of dark chocolate (or sour patch kids if melting might be an issue) needs to be kept in the knitting bag at all times. Really how hard is that? Also, it's ok to walk away from something for a few days if you need to. It doesn't mean you're stupid or incapable, but maybe just a little overworked, overtired, over thinking, or numerous other distracting things.

Now? ::deep sigh:: it feels sooooo good to be done with this math because now I can knit! :o)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Bunch of New Stuff

I feel like I've launched a bunch of new patterns recently. Not all of them I remembered to dedicate individual blog posts to. So, to rectify that situation, I figured I could do a little gallery of some designs all in one post, which would be this very entry you're perusing right now.

New(ish) designs from Fiddle Knits...

Scotch Mary side detail

Maggie Grey Sweater

I think those three are really the only recent designs I've put out on my own, or on my own and through the Knit Picks IDP. The Annalee Hat and Liza Rose Scarflet were also just released, but for now are only available if you purchase the entire Yarn Forward No. 25. In 6 months I'll be able to sell those patterns again on my own for individual download.

Making it Work

This will work. I keep telling myself that every day. It is possible. Right? Or do I live in a daydream? I sort of do, I've come to terms with that for the most part, but part of this dream will become a working reality. Simply put– it has to. It has to or else I need to get my butt in gear and figure something else out. I don't want to figure something else out, though. Maybe I'm just too lazy, or too stubborn, or... I don't really know what. I know what I want, I've always been like that.
I would love to design more, gain more recognition, and have my pattern sales take off. I'd like to keep putting out quality work. (I think my designs are quality... for the most part. There's always room for improvement of course.) How exactly do I go about spreading my name out there more? I've been doing my hardest to keep pushing, and I'm not giving up, not even close, but I do feel a bit scattered. I'm teaching dance, teaching fiddle, rehearsing, traveling/performing, designing, and still attempting to have some semblance of a social life on top of it all. I would really like *not* to be doing the teaching at this point so that I had even more time to focus on designing. Too bad the teaching pays more of my bills than knitting. ::sigh:: Oh to dream...

Chris and I would like to move in together in the near future. He has mentioned wanting to make it happen within the year. I was ecstatic when it got brought up. I would love that! (It's no secret that I feel he's my soulmate. ::dreamy sigh, or gag, depending on who you are::) Being together would make things so much better in so many ways. (Currently we live 30 minutes away from each other.) A few days ago we sat down and crunched numbers to figure out how much money we would both need to pull in to make this living together scheme possible. We were going for realistic numbers. Nothing [hopefully] too unachievable.

Eventually I want to have a family. I want to stay home with my kids. I want to take on the role of wife and mother and still be able to sneak in design time around cooking, cleaning, and driving little ones around. I am slightly old fashioned. Maybe it was how I was raised. I want to be home in the evening to prepare dinner and have te whole family eat together. Really, whether you're a working mom (or dad) or a work from home parent life is going to be crazy hectic. I know this. I'm not opting to want to stay home because I think it's easier. Heck, it could potentially be a lot harder, depending on what the out-of-the-house job you could have was. Once I do start a family I don't want to be traveling playing music any more. (At least not when I have small kids.) To get to that point in my future I need to make this Fiddle Knits Designs adventure keep moving forward. Currently I still live home with my parents, so my bills are much lower than if I was living out on my own. Basically I need to make more so I can spend more... on life bills. Fun right? So, the question is, how do I keep making this move forward? Am I on the right track and I should just keep going with what I've been doing so far?

The new Yarn Forward Issue #25 (Rav Link) should be arriving with subscribers as we "speak." The digital version is up on Yudu. In this issue I have 2 patterns (the Annalee Hat & the Liza Rose Scarflet) plus there's a little 2-page article about me and my design inspiration.

Well, off I go for now. I'm working on this new design. It's pretty cool... but I might be biased ;o) although really usually I'm far too self critical to be partial to my own work.

Foot Notes

Owwww... It itches.... My foot I mean.
Last Friday I was sitting on my bed happily knitting away waiting for Chris to be finished up with his errands so we could hang out. My phone rings. It's my friend sayign she's going to go get a new tattoo and would I like to come and keep her company. Hmmm... I say ok, but I don't want to stay out too late because I have plans for the evening. Immediately the wheels start turning in my head. I've wanted a new tattoo for a while now. For years I've been saying I was going to get a music tat, but I could never find the right idea. When we recorded our last CD (and I've forgotten how many years ago that was now... 4?) I had decided I wanted a few music note scattered along the outside top of my right foot. Since then I got two other tats, neither of which had any relation to music (one was a knitting tat though).

So I hopped in my car and off I went. My friend was already at the tattoo parlor when I got there. We browsed together looking at the flash art while an artist resized the design she was getting (an Indian style elephant head). I asked the artist about my idea of music notes across my foot and said I didn't have any artwork with me. He said that wasn't a problem and an artist could freehand the design for me if I wanted. OK, this was getting more and more tempting.

I went and stood by my friend while she got her ink done. The placement of her tat was on her foot right about where I would want mine also. We chatted to keep her from thinking about the pain of the work. When she was almost done I decided to go find another artist who was available to do a tat for me (her artist was leaving once he finished the elephant). Artist found, concept outlined, price quoted, and I decided to go for it. My artist pulled a few images of music notes up on his laptop and we began. I pointed out the type of notes I liked and showed him a rest to put at the end. He freehanded a design (in pen first) onto my foot. We tweaked a few things here and there until I was happy and then the tattooing commenced.

It took a half hour to complete. Definitely the most painful thing I have ever done yet to this point in my life. Once the inking was done my new tat was wrapped in a bandage and my friend and I hobbled out of the shop both proudly sporting bloody bandages on our right foot.

My new tat – one day old

I really love this tattoo. I love that I finally got my music notes. I love the placement. I love that I just walked in to the shop and we came up with this splash of notes on the spot, kind of like how I play music – improvise, baby!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yarn Forward, Issue #25

It's coming soon(ish) to a book/knitting store near you! (See the preview) Actually, unless you're in the UK this issue may take another month or so to arrive anywhere near you... With the exception of the internet. All Yarn Forward (KAL Media) magazines are available for digital download through Yudu.com. Of course, you can also purchase single copies of the magazine via Yarn Forward's website. (This link will direct you to the YF shop for print and digital copies)

I have two patterns in the issue. The Annalee Hat can be seen below. This design is inspired by, and named for my little sister Annalee. She has been wearing her version of the hat at every gig this past winter. It looks really cute on her. But the little bum looks good in everything. It's really just not fair! ;o)

The Annalee Hat
Photo Copyright Yarn Forward Magazine (2010)

The second pattern that is in this issue is a pretty little scarflette knit in a lace stitch using cotton yarn. It's perfect for the Spring and Summer to finish off a cute outfit. I was daydreaming of Summer romance during it's creation and I think (I hope) that feeling comes across when you see it. Unfortunately I don't have a photo at this point to share....

And lastly, but maybe the most exciting part... I'm the featured designer in Yarn Forward 25! How cool is that? I was flattered and so very happy to participate when I was asked by Kerrie (the editor) several months ago. I have already begun stalking my mail, although I know it will still be a while before it arrives. Back to [attempting at least] being patient....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fiddle Knits: Episode 4!

Hiya everyone! Guess what I did yesterday? I'm sure it's not too hard to guess considering the title of this blog post. ;-) Yes! I recorded episode 4 of the Fiddle Knits Podcast! Only a week after the last episode. I better keep this up. Every other week would keep me happy as well. As long as I can stick to a somewhat regular schedule. I get very disappointed when a show I like to listen to has wide gaps in publishing new stuff. I do know, however, that life happens and sometimes that's just the way it goes.

So... I put up a link to the podcast on my actual website (www.FiddleKnits.com). To listen all you have to do is click on the big purple podcast icon on the left side of the page. This will take you to where the podcast is hosted. From here you can either listen online or subscribe (by clicking on the link that says "subscribe"). Subscribing through the website will let you chose what application you wish to use (your music player, i.e. iTunes). Or you can bypass the entire website thing and go straight to the iTunes store, type "Fiddle Knits" into the search bar, and subscribe directly through iTunes.

Now I hope I can figure out things to talk about.... If anyone has any questions they'd like me to answer or ideas for topics please let me know! :o)

Episode 4: Show notes

You can find my full website at: http://www.FiddleKnits.com

What's on the Needles – Right now I have one active project. Unfortunately I can’t give away much detail. It is a design for a magazine that won’t hit the stands until next Fall, I think around late September or October. The concept has already been accepted and I have the yarn to knit up a sample for the photo shoot. It’s a garment, and anyone that has been following my designs knows that sweater design is on the new side for me. I’m quite confident that I will get this done, and done on time, but the pressure level is much higher than what I feel when designing accessories like hats and fingerless mitts.

This garment design is really the only on the needles project that is getting any love. If you can consider ripping it out several thousand times love…. but regardless, the sweater is claiming all of my knitting bandwidth. I have a few things languishing that I really wish I could get back to. However, first things first. Gotta prioritize. The projects I have going that I’m not touching, which I guess makes them UFOs…. huh, I don’t really enjoy having UFOs… oh well, anyway, I have a hat going that will eventually be for Chris. He acquired quite a few knit hats from me this past winter, but now the weather is warming up (if you could see me this is where I would be doing a happy dance), the wool hats aren’t going to be of much use, so I figured I’d try some warm weather friendly fibers to see how they behave as hats. The current hat experiment is being knit from Elsebeth Lavold “Hempathy”, which is blend of 34% hemp, 41% cotton, & 25% modal. It’s a very lightweight yarn, either fingering or sport weight I’d guess. I’m using US size 2(2.75mm) needles. I purchased my yarn at the YarnMarket.

Another nonUFO/UFO is my little lace summer top that I’m designing for my sister in Magenta yarn. The Knit Picks yarn I was mentioning is their new (for Spring 2010) Simply Cotton Sport yarn in heathers. This yarn also comes in worsted weight and is also still available as an undyed 100% organic yarn. I haven’t worked with the worsted weight yet since I prefer a lighter gauge when working with plant fibers.