Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Indie Designer Days and Revisits

Lovely readers,

It's been seven and a half years since I begun writing indie designer day posts. I can't believe it! It certainly doesn't feel like it's been that long. The first IDD post was Kai Mistry, in August of 2008. At the top of that post I explained this new series:

This is the first in an ongoing, weekly "featurette" wherein I'll profile a favourite indie designer and why they're great. There's an incredible abundance of creativity and talent on these interwebs, and I've discovered a lot of it by happy accident. I'd like to give some knit-love to these people, and share with any and all who read this here bloggy.

I've really loved writing these posts. Over the years, it introduced me to many kind, talented people. It provided me with the inspiration to keep designing. And I hope it shared more about these wonderful people with you all.

Because I'd been writing these IDD posts for so long, I was able to see some of those "new" designers develop their portfolio and gain greater attention in our community; they accomplished great things, and I wanted to revisited them and share their hard work. That's when I started the Indie Designer Revisit posts; the first IDR post was way back in January 2011 with The Yarniad.

Writing these posts takes quite a lot of time. I search through various indie designer groups on Ravelry for eye catching designs. I always contact the designer to ask permission. I look at their whole portfolio, discover their style and interests. I choose a few specific patterns that I think really encapsulate their aesthetic. I select one in particular to highlight in a photograph. And then I finally write the post.

I do love IDD and IDR, but with the recent success of the Great Northern kickstarter, I've become much shorter on time. Producing Great Northern will take the majority of my design time over the next year, so I've made the decision to put the IDD and IDR posts on hold.

There's an IDR post lined up for November. That will be the last one for a while.

Never fear: you can still access a list of all the IDD and IDR posts.

Thank you to everyone for your support of this feature over the years! I know it's been a favourite of yours, and I'm so pleased to have produced something that has been enjoyed by this wonderful community of ours!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cozy Fall Light: Styling!

It's November! NaNoSweMo! (essentially, knit-yourself-a-sweater-month).
This post will be light on words, heavy on pictures. I've got a few NoNoSweMo suggestions for you, and some idea on how to style them!

All patterns are available individually, or together as the three pattern ebook, Cozy Fall Light.

Kirsten Singer

© KleverKnits 
Casual and Office styling for Carlee

Holly Priestley 

© Holly Priestley 2009-2015
 Casual (dog walking!) and work place styling for Midnight Stroll

Teresa Gregorio
 Casual and "night out" styling for Kat (as you see, I've infused a lotta ME in these two stylings!)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Great Northern: One Month in from Kickstarter Success

This owl mug cozy is available for test knitting!
Leah and I have finally made it back to normal after the excitement of the Kickstarter.

We want to keep you all updated on a regular basis; so this is the first in a set of updates we're going to be giving you here on the blog.

So, what have we done in the month that's passed since we've been funded?

  • as soon as the funds were successfully deposited into our account (which took about 14 days), we began contacting backers to arrange reward delivery; 85% of backers have either been contacted or received their rewards. If you haven't heard from us yet, don't worry! We're working our way through the list! :)
  • we'll be delivering our first sweater patterns to our tech editor this week
  • there's a test knit happening for the first of the houseware designs
  • we're both in the midst of our second sweater designs for the book 

  • Leah's thinking about developing a mod for her "From Another Place" sweater! (It's seeeeeecret! But here's a hint: Teresa is super excited about it!)
  • We've had an influx of members to the Great Northern Ravelry Group! Welcome, everyone! Hope to see you there, too!
  • The fantastic CSDye has been added to our list of wonderful yarn support providers.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Shoulder Pads and Phospho Glow

In this Shoulder Pad post, you will find:
1: why to use them
2: how to make them
3: how to add them to the pattern Phospho Glow
4: further reading

Phospho Glow: This design would suffer without the use of shoulder pads because of the sloping shape of my shoulders.

Shoulder Pads?! But WHY!?
I've been overheard to proclaim that there's nearly nothing I dislike more than shoulder pads.

And to be honest, I'm not sure why I've had that knee-jerk reaction.
It's not an uncommon one, though: a quick perusal of shoulder pad opinion on Ravelry produces buckets of scorn for this stylistic choice.

Shoulder pads, though, are like many things in life: not for everyone, most certainly for someone, and great in moderation.

If you do a bit of research into the proper fit of clothing (from the sewing and knitting world alike), you'll see that a good fit in the shoulders is very important to the overall look of the garment.

And as I've been sewing a bit more lately, I've run in to something about my body I had NO idea of before: I have sloping shoulders. This explains why I have difficulty wearing strappy things. Those suckers slide right off.

So shoulder pads (of a moderate size) could help me to attain a better looking fit with certain garments I may otherwise be unable or unwilling to significantly alter myself.

Equally, the stylistic choice of shoulder pads shouldn't be ignored: even a modest shoulder pad can create a powerful change in the look of your garment. And they're a look that's connecting strongly to a culture that's increasingly drawing upon recent fashion history in a conscious effort to generate both nostalgia and a sense of post-post-modern newness.

Just look at the cyclical popularity of: bell bottoms/flares, platform shoes, skinny jeans, tights, neon, plaid, high-waisted denim, and now the poor, maligned shoulder pad.

(Incidentally, don't make the mistake in thinking that the later decades of the 20th century "invented" styles like platforms and shoulder pads. Those things have a long history of ducking in and out of fashion. Did you know the fashionable set wore platforms in the 1930s? They totally did).

Some of my favourite cultural style setters are wearing shoulder pads now (Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, specifically). So if there's ANY strong argument to be made for wearing shoulder pads as a stylistic choice, I'd say that's it!

Ok! Now, on to the "how".

Shoulder Pads!? But HOW?!
You have options.
You can certainly pop over to your local sewing shop and buy yourself some pre-made shoulder pads. The advantage here is simply time-saving. You don't have to make these yourself.

But, if you're looking to add shoulder pads to your knits, then I'd have to recommend trying (at least once) to knit them yourself.
Advantages here include:
  • colour matching
  • fabric behaviour/characteristics matching
  • using leftover yarn bits/gauge swatches
  • size control

Colour/Fabric Characteristics Matching
Making your own shoulder pads for your knits means you have control over their colour and behaviour. The most easily accessible types of pre-made shoulder pads are generally not made from natural fibres, and will move/drape/behave differently from your knit. You may want this effect, but if you don't these qualities are something to be aware of.

Using Leftover Yarn
A shoulder pad doesn't have to  be larger! Even the larger ones wouldn't take up very much yarn. I know I always feel successful when I find a use for my leftover precious bits of yarn. And hey, what better use for a small amount of lovely, soft yarn, than for something that will sit directly next to your skin? You could even get creative with it and include some colourwork into your shoulder pads!! Or a gauge swatch!!

Size Control
Depending on the look you want, you may need a little, and bit more, or a lot of padding. I'd say you have the most control over this thickness when you create the pads yourself. Use one layer of sport weight, or three layers of bulky! I'm sure you can imagine the customizeable possibilities.

HOW to Knit Yourself Shoulder Pads?!!
Your considerations are going to include size and shape, and that's pretty much it. Shoulder pads are simple. You could even use gauge swatches! (Gasp! A use for gauge swatches!!)
Minds more studied than mine on the topic of shoulder pads can give you information as to shape options and effects. Here, I'll tell you how I knit mine for Phospho Glow.

The shoulder pads used in Phospho Glow may not be desired/necessary for you to get the look you want. Like I said, I have sloping shoulder, so needed the extra boost for my own sweater.

Detail of little puff that wouldn't be if I didn't add shoulder pads to my own Phospho Glow.
So, let me tell you a bit about what I did for my Phospho Glow:
  • considered the fact that I wanted yarn with drapey fibres (alpaca, in this case)
  • used needles that gave a drapey fabric, NOT a stiff one (this TOTALLY depends on your gauge!)
  • selected DK weight so that I immediately got a bit of thickness, but also the ability to fine tune by adding more or fewer layers
  • chose a colour that wouldn't show through the sweater
  • made a triangular shape, which gave a more feminine look than a large rectangle
  • created this triangle by casting on ONE stitch and increasing one stitch along each edge on the RS until it was as wide as I was looking for (about 4.5" at the base). I then repeated the steps backwards, and folded the resulting "diamond" into a triangle so that it was 2 layers thick.
  • positioned the point of triangle towards my neck, placed right where bra straps wraps around top of shoulder
  • ultimately, I created a pad that is only about 1/4" / 0.5 cm thick; so, a fairly modest pad (coat pads can be 1" / 2.5 cm thick!)

Here you see the pads before I folded them in half and seamed them up the sides.

How to Add them to Phospho Glow

Now, you can stitch them directly on to the knit, but I didn't do that because I was concerned that the fingering weight of Phospho would be too delicate for this extra heft and the stitches might be unattractively pulled out of shape.
Instead, I just tuck the pads under my bra straps and away I go. You could pin them down, too, but the fewer sharp and pointy things I wear the happier I feel.

Further Reading
Have I convinced you? Perhaps not.
So here I put into your hands some great shoulder pad resources. Go forth and read!

 And, one last note to leave on:
From the Coletterie:

The kimono sleeve came into fashion for "Western" women’s clothing towards the tail end of the 1940’s when the exaggerated shoulders which had previously been fashionable began to evolve into a more natural silhouette. As women’s fashion entered into the 1950’s, the fashionable silhouette for shoulders continued to move away from the large padded ‘Power’ look of the 1930’s/40’s towards the extreme opposite. A trend for petite and slopping shoulders emerged, alongside the nipped in waists, waspy hips and doll-like everything else, as a reflection of the demure and ultra-feminine stereotype to which society largely expected women to adhere.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Holla Knits Winter 2015

Holla Knits is AMAZING. You all know that by now.
This magazine is at the front of the knitting pattern pack, pushing boundaries and paving the way for bold and brave fashion.

The years of knitting patterns from this magazine have spoken, shouted, proclaimed! the awesomeness of Holla Knits.

But I won't tell you about it here: you can pick up the latest issue and read about the ABCs of Holla Style! Allyson and I teamed up to create this fun alphabet of what Holla Knits is all about. We went through each letter and matched it up with HK patterns that embody its style.

Our article is just a wee part of this fantastic issue.

It includes a neckline tutorial and five new patterns. My FAVOURITE of which is Emily Ringelman's Fair Isle PANTS.

Fair Isle PANTS. People, aren't these the wildest?

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour by checking out the schedule below.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Handmade Fashion Challenge: Wrap Up!

You are a maker. You are passionate. You are up for a challenge.
Congratulations to all HMFC2015 participants. We made it!

The winner is kingshearte! We'll get your your choice of patterns on Ravelry.

As far as my own HMFC2015 pieces go, I didn't complete all my four items of Sewn Crop Top, Sewn Skirt, Crocheted Poncho, and Knit Crop Top.

I'm in the middle of my poncho.

And I'm SO CLOSE to the end of my skirt.

But I DID (in spades, actually) complete my Knit Crop Top component!
There's scads of reason/excuses I could give for this being my only completed item, but the most real thing I can say about it is that this particular project captured my heart and imagination. I've invested in it a number of values, from stress-reduction to self-esteem boost. I've spoken at length on this blog about crop tops and my belief that we should all wear what we want (we ALL have fantastic bodies; we ALL have "crop top" bodies). It's no secret that this garment type has jivved with my own personal body politics!!

Anyhow, I've completed eight crop tops since the start of the HMFC. And it's inspired me to make this into a pattern that will be available in the Spring of next year. I want to spread the crop top joy to everyone!
So stay tuned! I still love the idea of my crocheted poncho, sewn skirt, and sewn crop top. 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Neon Neutral Triangle Club: Emma and Sarah's Designs!

Get the collection here.

I'm excited about this collection!
It's brought together a number of things I really dig, and it gave me the opportunity to work with two fantastic designers!

Today I'd like to tell you a bit about Emma and Sarah's pieces, and why I think they're fantastic.

Emma Welford
This lady is so on my page with her design work. A few months back I reviewed her independently published collection Let Them Knit Cake, which is inspired by Marie Antionette, but for the modern woman. She's got that interest in history and cutting edge of fun contemporaility that I really admire in a designer.
Her two contributions to the Neon Neutral Triangle Club show this aesthetic off perfectly.

Acute-ly Preppy
Emma wrote of this sweater that it is "a labor of love, product knitter type of sweater". It's complex and intricate, with finishing and other details that make Acute-ly Preppy exactly the kind of design I love: something unlike most others. Something that has the distinct mark of the creative maker. Something I can look at and say "hey! That's a stand out piece! It looks like something Emma would design!"
You can pick up Acute-ly Preppy in the ebook, or as a single pattern.

Triangle Inception
For her accessory design, Emma chose to make something that was less complex than her garment,
but equally bearing the mark of her thoughtful process. This piece is a fairly simple shawl, featuring slip stitch surface crochet for those lovely triangular "spokes". My favourite thing about this design is how it was designed to show off variegated yarn. I've always had trouble figuring out the best use for this type of dye, but I think this piece is perfect for it.
You can pick up Triangle Inception in the ebook, or as a single pattern.

Sarah Hurwitz
Sarah also has that fun and bold bent to her work that I so admire. One of my recent favourites of hers is the Elevé Pullover from Knitscene Summer 2015. It's a playfully geometric crop top (so you know I love it!). I think her style is shown off very well in both her designs in the Neon Neutral Triangle Club.

Pinkerton Top
In her garment design for the NNTC, Sarah has given us a top that pulls together fun sweater elements that pop! I LOVE how the brightness of the colour doesn't overwhelm, but does cascade and meander all over this piece. It draws your eye up to the wearer's face, but then also circles around the shoulders to unify the sweater, making it all hum together instead of break apart. It also has a cute split seam right at the bottom edge, and a cozy fit overall that speaks of a comfy chic.
You can pick up the Pinkerton Top in the ebook, or as a single pattern.

Tessellate Hat
For Sarah's accessory contribution to NNTC, she's similarly unified a piece with colour and taken the edge of a brightness that might otherwise be too strong an element for the smallness of the design. The neon swath of the Tessellate Hat is broken up both by the equalizing neutral of the grey trim, but also the textural effect of the eyelet triangles. It's that fine balance that is absolutely my favourite thing about this hat.
You can pick up the Tessellate Hat in the ebook, or as a single pattern.