Tag Archives: design

favoritethings

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things – Christmas 2013

Creating a new stitch marker design is a little bit like jumping off a cliff. Yes, I know that these beads and that charm and the little filigree accents are adorable, but will anyone else like it? Will it photograph well? Did I just spend a gazillion dollars on beads no one will want?! Eventually, you have to stop thinking about it and just shut your eyes and let go. The new design will either sink or swim, and there’s no way of knowing if it will succeed until you take that chance.

Suffice to say, when a design that I love takes off I feel immensely pleased with it, like a proud mama duck who’s duckling is clearly the best swimmer in the pond. And at the end of the year it’s always fun to look back and see which stitch marker designs were the most popular, most loved, and most talked about. So, without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things!

Flying Colors of the Storm

This summer I stumbled across these awesome little acrylic beads that have a handpainted effect created by being hand-dipped in a variety of painted colors. The double (or triple) dipping creates this amazing swirling effect, much like one of my favorite childhood desserts, the marble cake. I always wanted to make one because it looked so cool, so these beads were like having my cake and eating it too, only without all of the carbs. They eventually became my Flying Colors of the Storm stitch markers, and I was thrilled to see how much everyone else liked them as well – I’ve had to reorder the beads three times since August because I was overwhelmed by the demand!

Confetti

I have this awesome tissue paper that I love using when I ship out packages – it’s white (so it matches anything) but it’s got sparkles embedded in it that turns it from a Plain Jane into a Glittery Glinda type of paper. So when I saw these adorable enameled coin-shaped drops in what seemed like a million different colors I knew I needed to make stitch markers out of them. I usually avoid open jump rings because I’m paranoid about things catching on my yarn, but I made an exception for these little guys. They make the most perfect dangle-free stitch markers and they really do look like Confetti – I feel like it’s a party every time I use them.

Secret of the ChromastoneI first saw these color-changing beads over two years ago, and they took me back to the days of childhood when I had found my mother’s old mood ring – a large, oval thing set in brass with an adjustable band – and wore it around the house as part of my queen costume. That outfit consisted of a long rust-colored ’70s rayon dress with an attached cape, a real fox fur collar from the generation before that had been my grandmother’s, and of course, my scepter – a glittery silver star wand.

I actually think the Secret of the Chromastone design was one of the first times I took a chance that an investment in a design would work out – I saved up for months and months before taking a deep breath and placing the large order for them. Beads that change color can be expensive, so I knew I’d need to price these markers a bit higher than normal and I hoped that everyone else thought they were as great as I knew they were. And you know what? They did! Currently over 200 sets of these awesome little stitch markers are all over the globe, hanging on people’s needles and marking their stitches as they knit or crochet. They are probably the most favorite stitch markers of all.

I Love Coffee

I sang in an a cappella group in college, and one of my favorite songs we sang was an old classic from the ’40s called the “Java Jive.” The chorus goes, “I love coffee, I love tea, I love the java jive and it loves me! Coffee and tea and the jivin’ and me…a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup.” The way the words “a cup” roll off your tongue when you sing them repetitively is a great memory. Here’s a great version from a German a cappella group if you’d like to hear how the song sounds.

But I have a confession to make – I don’t drink coffee. I come from a family of tea drinkers, and while occasionally I have a toffee nut latte at Starbucks, it only happens once or twice a year. But you know what I do love? Chocolate-covered coffee beans. They are delicious! So nothing makes me happier than seeing cute little coffee beans hanging from knitting needles – especially when you are knitting in your favorite coffee shop.

Arabian Nights

There are some songs that just get stuck in your head like an earworm that will never leave. I Can See Clearly Now is one (I tend to sing that line when anyone exclaims, “Oh, I see!”) and for some reason, the Spice Girl’s non-hit If You Can’t Dance is another. Then of course there is the opening song to the Disney movie Aladdin. While I was first designing these stitch markers that song – ok, the chorus – rattled through my head incessantly. I love Moroccan lanterns and beads that seem to light up from the inside. The ornate brass accents and rich colors make these stitch markers seem like they could light up Arabian Nights very well indeed.

These are some of the favorites from my shop, but there are loads more. I have special memories attached to each, be it the song they were inspired by or even sometimes what tv show was running in the background while I was working on them. What stitch markers are your favorites?

Betty & Veronica are rockin’ it

I’m sugar and spice and everything nice but if you wanna mess with me you better think twice.

I knit this scarf twice – once with the general idea of the pattern I wanted, and then a second time after I realized what I had done wrong the first time. UGH. I hate frogging. It was only sheer determination that kept me going. Basically, what I wanted to do was pair together two complementary yarns in my stash. Because one was handspun and the other a very expensive skein of yarn, they didn’t have much yardage, and therefore weren’t worth much by themselves. But together, they were more than the sum total of themselves alone.

I split the Rapture yarn evenly into two balls based on weight (which weighed about 22 grams each). Then I cast on with the Rapture yarn. Ik nit four rows of k2, p2 ribbing to create a loose ruffle. At this point I was torn – my original idea was to create short-rows a la Laura Chau’s Just Enough Ruffles, but I wasn’t sure I’d have enough. As I sat and envisioned how the final project would look, I got more and more mentally frustrated by things not knitting up properly, and decided that a short scarf with the added problem of having narrow ends probably wasn’t a good idea.

Instead, I retreated to my favorite knitting technique – ruching! Unlike most of the ruched patterns on Ravelry, I stuck to all stockinette stitch in order to show off the handspun look of my center yarn, as opposed to hiding it with garter stitch. Then I created a second ruffle at the other end, cast off, and viola! The Betty & Veronica Scarf. Now it’s time to write this pattern up and get it out there to share with the world! Ok ok, just with like-minded knitters on Ravelry. 😉 I’m also going to knit it again with slightly different yardages and weights in an effort to gauge how differently it can come out. Yey!

A pocket, a posy…

…a ring around the rosy…

Obviously I have  pattern design on the brain now. This week, it’s the contemplation of the perfect shawl for my grandmother. Well, I suppose I’ve been building toward this. First I had to acquire the perfect yarn:

Check.

Then I had to find some inspiration:

Check.

Then I had to find the perfect pattern:

Uhh…

See, the problem is that the yarn’s colorway is called “Forget Me Not.” The yarn itself looks like the flowers from a forget-me-not, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of creating a shawl for her that looked like forget-me-nots. At first I thought Miriam Felton’s Seraphim Shawl would be divine, but hers used fingering weight yarn and I really wanted something a bit more flowery. Unfortunately, the only flower-like shawl patterns are either ugly, or, in the case of the Forget-Me-Not shawl patterns on Ravelry, look nothing like the petals of this flower.

So I’ve done some research today. I wandered through my favorites first, looking for something that might look like a flower, and then through the other flower patterns on Ravelry. And I found something! As I was wandering through one of my lace books, Victorian Lace Today, I noticed a really intriguing edgework that implemented a design feature that looked like the six petals of a forget-me-not flower.. “A Curved Shawl with diamond edging” apparently uses the traditional Shetland lace stitch “cat’s paw” with some success. I think the best picture of the edging can be seen here, on jeanneknits2’s Ravelry project page. I don’t think “cat’s paw lace” looks anything like a cat’s paw. Well, ok, it remotely resembles a cat’s paw, but what it really resembles is a small button-type posy of a flower. After seeing it knit up on some other shawls I’m excited by the idea of a whole shawl knit out of it:

Photo courtesy the blog, "Knitting Through the Looking Glass" by Pamela Lee

I tried to find a pattern that used the petals like I wanted them to be used (starting at the shoulders with just a few and eventually scattering outward until the shawl is covered with them), but that pattern just doesn’t exist – except in my mind. I’m not sure I’m experienced enough yet to actually physically design this pattern, as currently my only lace shawl, the Ishbel, is sitting in purgatory until it learns to behave itself, but…we shall see. My grndmother is old, and doesn’t have many years left, so that should spur me into learning how to do this quickly!

Mask is done!

I reknit the mask and it’s gorgeous. It took a bit more yarn than the last one (26 yards), but every design flaw has been mended. I immediately laid it on the table that I use for photographing my yarns and moved everything else away from it so that it didn’t get rumpled. I finally got a chance to photograph it and edit the images yesterday, and I think everything came out pretty well. It was kinda dark outside (ok, raining and miserable), so I decided to go for a moody, spa-like look. I nabbed a crappy candle that I’d never used from one shelf and a shell that was filled with stylish toothpicks from another and shoved them together. Then I prayed that I didn’t set the curtain on fire, since I create my “lightbox” effect by wrapping the white sheers around the table. Oy! Everything went well. I found a wee little mistake in my seed stitch border on the mask (oops!) but it’s tiny and hopefully no will notice or care. Oh, and I used the pink ribbon for color and to mimic the effect of ties (if you are into that sort of thing, which I am not). Here’s some photo p0rn for you:

Oh! And I’ve been working on getting submitted as a pattern designer on Ravelry! It’s harder than it looks, so I’m actually glad I started before my official “release” date, which I randomly decided would be Oct. 1. I got OK’d today, so here’s a link to the page, even though the pattern isn’t up yet. People are already favoriting it!

More ruching fun

Yey! I am shocked at how fast my masks knit up! It was much harder to actually come up with the design than it was to actually knit them. I did two – one which I am calling my “prototype” and my second one which was perfect.  It  took me a couple hours to knit them, and I was watching TV and taking notes while I did it, so I think it went pretty well. The hardest part was making sure I got the ruching to look correct – I had to knit and then tink and then scratch out my notes and then reknit and then frog and then recount and reknit multiple times.

I made a seed stitch border, and had to do that a couple different times to make sure I was hiding the cast-on edge and the bind-off as well. I feel like I am teaching myself a lot as I knit this. The first one was a  little too large for my head and doesn’t really have great “lift.” I used size US 8s, as your average worsted weight yarn calls for, and after examining it, decided the mask would work much better on smaller needles. I cast on 13 stitches and only used 27 grams yarn, or 24 yards.

For the second prototype I cast on 17 stitches using size US 6 needles, and I could tell right from the beginning that it was working much better. The seed stitch pattern was more even (I had to make sure everything was symmetrical) and instead of a seed stitch band across the nose bridge, which lets in too much light, I just continued the stockinette stitch pattern. Tomorrow I’m going to make a third mask for photographing purposes because this poor mask is so beat up from my ripping back multiple times to get the pattern written correctly.

The ruching, the ruching…

…what what the ruching.

So I’ve gotten this idea in my head to make a sleep mask. I really dislike all of the sleep mask patterns that are free on Ravelry, for various reasons. Some are wonky-looking, others are padded, and still more are just plain ugly. The problem is that I’m very picky about my eye masks. My uncle bought me an eye mask for Christmas one year when I was in college. It was made of silk and stuffed with lavender, a scent which I absolutely detest, and always lay really heavily on my eyes. Sometimes I actually had trouble falling to sleep because it pressed down on my eyes so much. Luckily, I eventually lost it, and no longer had to suffer with the damn thing anymore.

But a couple nights recently the neighbors have left the lights on, making my bedroom fill will light and giving me a frustrating night’s sleep. So I started contemplating a lightweight mask that wouldn’t lay flat against my eyes. It needed to be gathered, to give it a little lift, and made out of something super-soft, like Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton.

I found a cool, little-used design element – ruching – and then scavenged through patterns on Ravelry for how to do it. I think I know now, but there aren’t really any properly designed free patterns that use this technique, so I’m kind of winging it based on my knowledge of increasing and decreasing and from looking at photos. I’m going to use this very nice cotton/rayon/acrylic blend yarn that I got from my friend Crystal (bradymom29), and I’m hopeful this will work!