Monday, April 29, 2013

I love Zen Yarn Garden!

In the works at Canary Knits HQ is another piece in conjunction with Zen Yarn Garden.
Merrily I've been knitting along. Here's a sneak peek, in a very beautiful colourway called Poodle Skirt.

I love it so very much! I can't wait to show you all the rest!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Indie Designer Revisit

© TriGirlJ
Designer: Chris Church
Blog: Pursuit of Fiber
Rav ID: rchrispy
Some Great Designs: rchrispy's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: May 22, 2009

Chrispy is a designer whose love of yarn and fibre shines through her designs.
Switching from an engineering degree to one in art, she has had her dreams realized in designing knitwear.

And this designing career has branched out into tech editing, as well! (to which I tip my hat. Tech Editors are fabulous, and do wizardly things with math and numbers that would make MY anti-mathy-math head go 'splode).

You can see her dedication to the beauty of fibre through the strong use of texture in her work.

In Mon Petite Chou, (pictured) you see how gorgeous ruffles, ripples, bobbles and lace work together to create the most pretty piece of "cabbage" you've ever seen.

In the Early Visits Shawl, the texture is understated, and well-paired with a beautiful hand-dyed yarn that dances across the simple garter and lace edging (incidentally, this piece has a lovely shape, and is designed for the breast-feeding-mama who is interested in covering up).

Pearl Drops are a textural pair of socks that look just so dern comfortable to wear. Squishy came to mind. Not sure why. Again, this is a pattern that pairs very well with the yarn, the all-over lace not interfering with the controlled-palette of variegated yarn.

Finally I'll point you to Squiggle Mittens/Mitts. Unisex, handsome, functional, and perfectly textural. LOVE!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lady Bat Winner

And the winner is...
Andrea PGN

The Random Number Generator has selected you :)
Please contact me with your email address so I can send you your copy of Lady Bat.

Thanks to everyone who participated! 

fyi: Prize to be claimed within one week. If it hasn't been claimed, I'll redraw. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Lucy Neatby and Double Knitting

Take this class for 50% off!
Back in August of last year I pondered aloud "wouldn't it be great if Craftsy offered a double knitting class?"

Lo and behold, my friends, they have delivered! The kind people at Craftsy asked me to do a review of the course and share it with you all here.

The class is called Foundations of Double Knitting, and it's taught by Lucy Neatby.

There's plenty of things to love about this class!

Lucy Neatby is a fantastic teacher. This is what struck me most. Her manner, explanations, diagrams, and good humour made an otherwise intimidating topic very easy to see, understand, learn, and retain.
She talks about her early experiments with double knitting as skirmishes (she won my heart with this!), and her illustrations of "happy stitches" and "Australian cousins" are both adorable and informative.

This class also does a fantastic job of convincing you that double knitting is THE BEST THING EVER to happen to knitting. There are so many cool tricks and techniques that you can do with double knitting covered in the class. Cool things like easily adding channels to your knitting for elastic (beautifully seamless!), creating double-sided fabrics, socks, bag handles, and my favourite, pockets. So many cool tricks for pockets!

To note: Neatby starts by saying "This class isn't for expert knitters", and I totally agree. I knew pretty much nothing about double knitting before this class, and now I'm all alight with ideas and cool ways I can use this technique in my own work.
She makes double knitting simple, visual, and easy to learn.
So, if you've been waffling on learning this technique, or just plain scared off from double knitting patterns, or maybe want to learn cool new ways to make your knitting seamless and lovely, then this is the class for you!

Aaaaand, you can take this class for 50% off by clicking this link.  How awesome is that?! Thanks Craftsy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Ode to the Hinterland; Harmonious Collection Two

This is the fourth in my ongoing series, documenting the design process for my upcoming collection, Hinterland.  I promised I'd return to a few ideas surrounding the creation of a harmonious collection in this post, and it's some of the most fun stuff: yarn!

Yarn support - hooray!
Bringing together designs that fit your theme and inspiration includes taking into account many factors, including clarifying who this collection is for, determining your available physical and intangible resources, and recognizing the limits and scope of the project.

Resources (just to name a few)

Yarn, baby!
I have myself a not-insignificant stash, but its not all encompassing, and honestly, usually doesn't have what I'm looking for when I get a design idea. This means I get to yarn shop (most often), and in certain cases request yarn support.
I need to have a clear idea of what I want and how it will look together to ensure a harmonious collection. For this, I take into account the types, brands, fibres, colours, popularity, and availability of the yarn used for the samples. These factors make a big difference in the look and saleability of your collection. For example, I understand some knitters are reticent to jump into a pattern that uses discontinued yarns or colourways; some are very keen to use the exact same yarn shown in the samples.
A peek at some of the yarn for Hinterland.
There's also the photographic translation of finished sample-to-computer screen. Not all colours are easy to photograph. It can certainly be done, but the challenge to produce amazing, delicious images is great if you choose certain hues (eg: very dark yarns, certain reds, very light yarns).

And this proves a nice segue into....

None of us are experts in everything, and it's truly wonderful to have talented people helping you in the production of a knitwear collection. From testers to tech editors to photographers, and sometimes even beyond. Having an established, professional relationship with these people is important to the quality of the finished product.  And this, of course, leads into another resource....

You need to start out with some! If only to pay your tech editor, you'll need a fair amount of capital to throw into the project from the get-go. There is the other considerations of testers, yarn, photographer, advertising, publishing, and so on.

When do I want to release this? How long will it really take me? I'm very guilty of overloading myself with plans and ideas in the past, but this time, boy, this time I'm on top of it! There's no need to stretch yourself and become stressed over a schedule that you have control over. At the time of this post going live, I've already laid out the design/knitting/testing/tech editing/photography/formatting schedule for Hinterland, and am happy to say, I'm still on time!

So here, I'd like to announce that I expect to have the first issue of Hinterland ready for publication in mid-July.

Next post:  the design process!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Brenda Castiel
Blog: KnitandTravel
Rav ID: goodstuff
Some Great Designs: goodstuff's Rav Designer Page

This week's designer has such a large body of work, I'm going to have to limit my post to just three pieces!

Pictured you see the very pretty (and Spring-like) Lady Grantham Hat.  This piece just shouts happy, sunshiny Spring. Maybe the more I look at it, the more Madam Nature will actually bring Spring around. Really, it's about time!

Her most recently published design is another nice one for the increasingly warm weather, the Darlington Cowl. "This is a simple, yet elegant, way to make the most of single skeins in your stash – and show off your vintage buttons, too." (from the pattern description on Ravelry).

Finally, here's one of her pieces from one of my favourite online knitting mags, Clotheshorse. The Bundle Up sweater  is the definition of cozy. Keep it in mind for autumn 2013! It's got a great shawl collar and delicious texture.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Holla Knits Spring/Summer 2013 Blog Tour: Introducing Lady Bat

I had SO MUCH FUN (worth all those caps, peeps) designing Lady Bat.

Here you see the sample I worked in Knit Picks Shine Sport.
Its side-to-side construction and easy to memorize lace pattern mean this piece is a great spring or summertime knit. Great as a layered piece over a strappy top or dress, and even great as a swimsuit cover-up at the beach, you can lounge in style with Lady Bat.
Work on it in the sunshine, wear it in the warmth!

I can't believe how comfy this piece is. Knitting it was really a joy. It almost designed itself, with its simple, geometric shape. Those straight and easy-to-follow lines in the garment translate into the wonderful drape you see in the finished knit.

Fun fact: I had originally proposed this sweater as a fall/winter piece, but Allyson at Holla Knits made the very smart suggestion of saving it for spring/summer. She was totally right.

Would you like to win a copy of Lady Bat? Just comment on this post, and give me a description of how you'd wear it. Personally, I can't wait to get the sample back in the mail so I can test it out as a bikini coverup.
I'll keep the comments open until Wednesday, April 24, 11:59 pm. Winner will be announced on Thursday, April 25.
The second sample in Knits in Class Luxe DK.
Join the blog tour as is rolls along! Here's a complete list of the stops and some of the goodies available to win:

April 16 - The Sweatshop of Love - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
April 17 - Canary Knits - Pattern giveaway
April 18 - Yarn Hollow - Pattern giveaway 
April 19 - Under the Red Umbrella - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
April 22 - Stash, the Knit Picks Staff Blog April 23 - Emma Welford Designs - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
April 24 - Pink Brutus Knits - Pattern giveaway 
April 25 - Rewolluzza - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
April 26 - Knits in Class - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
April 29 - WEBS Yarn Store Blog - Pattern kit giveaway
May 1 - Masi Knits - Pattern giveaway, subscriber exclusive yarn giveaway
May 3 - Unplanned Peacock - Pattern giveaway

Friday, April 12, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Annamária Ötvös
Rav ID: pumpkin73
Some Great Designs: pumpkin73's Rav Designer Page

While this chilly Spring still hasn't sprung, it seems to be a great time to look at some lovely patterns that hang on to that sweet, cozy feeling that you can relish in during winter.

Pictured is one of my favourites from this week's designer, Constant Carving. All pupmkin73's designs have this quiet warmth and stillness. You can see it in the strength, solidity and regularity of the lines, shapes and textures of Constant Carving.

What I just said there, all that artsy-fartsy speak, might come more clear when you take a peek at these two other examples of her work: Roller Coaster Raglan and Omelette.  Both these pieces have that simple, strong, and solid look, and also hide some very clever and clean techniques. Roller Coaster Raglan includes curved raglan shaping, Omelette has fantastic finishing details like turned hems and a hidden button band.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cut Out + Keep: Free and Cute Tutorial

The interwebs has so much to offer, it's sometimes very easy to miss out on really great stuff.

To that end: have you heard of Cut Out + Keep?
It's likely I've been living under a rock for many, many years, but I only came across them a few months back in some crafty googling.

They've recently been the subject of a google ad (ah, I think they're in Edinburgh! I be jealous), and Cat Morely, the founder, has offered a very cute and free tutorial for the Chalkboard Bunting you can see in the google ad.

How adorbs is that!

Monday, April 08, 2013

An Ode to the Hinterland; Harmonious Collection

This is the third in my ongoing series, documenting the design process for my upcoming collection, Hinterland.
Some of the yarn you'll see in Hinterland.

That notebook I talked about in the last post is vital to my ability to (sanely) coordinate all the rushing thoughts and half-thoughts in my head surrounding a collection.

It needs to be harmonious, of course, to be attractive. In an abstract, "gee that's pretty" sense, but also in a marketable sense. Bringing together designs that fit your theme and inspiration includes taking into account many factors, including clarifying who this collection is for, determining your available physical and intangible resources, and recognizing the limits and scope of the project.

I'll go in to just a few of these today.

Who is this Collection for?
It's been a challenge determining my market1, but I certainly know who I want to design for: young-minded women who want unique, wearable, and fashionable patterns to knit for themselves, their friends, and their family.

Style and Sizing
Women come in all ages, shapes and sizes. A very, very few of us reflect the actual sizes given on charts.
When it comes to the style of knits, I don't design for people's insecurities. I design for their happiness and joy.
By this, I mean that I find it presumptuous to assume that someone with body type X needs to have a garment that covers their socially-determined "flaws". Actually, I find it more than presumptuous, I find it insulting. I have, in the past, written about how demeaning I think many sources are when discussing how to dress yourself. I try to design garments I think are appealing to knit and to wear.  I don't slap a body-type label on them. That's not what it's about for me, and to do that would go against my beliefs as a feminist.
What I do make sure I do is include a significant size range, usually including seven sizes (that is, up to size 3 or 4XL).

Project Complements
I like to have my collections include a variety of larger and smaller projects, certainly when working towards an abstract theme like "the hinterland". I find creating this balance is challenging, because sometimes more ideas appear for a particular type of project than for others. Often, though, inspiration can be distilled into more basic and malleable elements such as a lace pattern or delicious cable, which then has the ability to morph from that initial sweater idea you had into a great pair of socks.
For Hinterland, I began with a vast rush of ideas, all over the place, garments, accessories, items for the home. When written down, I could sort them, and tried to axe some of them.
I instead opted for three collections, each including approximately five patterns.

I'll continue this thought in the next post, where I'll talk about one of the most fun parts of knitting... the yarn!

1 Check out Market Yourself by Tara Swiger as a great resource for, you guessed it, marketing.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Mindy Wilkes
Blog: Sharp Pointy Sticks
Rav ID: Mindy
Some Great Designs: Mindy's Rav Designer Page

A designer with a strong talent and focus, Mindy has a wonderful array of shawls, shawlettes, and scarves.

The most recent, and possibly my favourite, is Long Night. Pictured here, you can see that this is a beautifully simple shawl with just the right touches of shape and textural interest. I love its drape and twist, the lacy openwork along the bottom edge gently ruffling outwards to form a very pleasing, organic shape.

Snow Moon is a lovely, light shawl, that just "hints at snow". Such a great image! Short rows form a crescent shape to this piece.

Unbelievable, the Holden Shawlette is a free pattern. The textural dance of the lace and lines of this shawl are incredibly pretty.

Though there's plenty more to see, I'll wrap it up today with Mindy's Harvest Moon.  This piece won my heart with its affinity to falling leaves.

Are you in to twitter? You can follow Mindy there @mindysw, "where I talk about knitting, yarn, food, my kids, Down syndrome, or whatever random thought crosses my mind."

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Elbie is Famous!; Or, Embarrass the Bird in April

In April, Elbie's a sepia-toned WWI fighter pilot for the RCAF. He's emulating the famous Canadian pilot Billy Bishop, so appearing in April to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

March is rainy!
February at the ball.
January in Bavaria.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Holla Knits - Image Interview!

Just poppin in to let you know Allyson over at Holla Knits has just posted an image interview with me today on her blog.

The image above is just one of my answers - head on over to Holla Knits to see the rest!