Posted on | August 21, 2012 | No Comments
Just popping in after another long absence to ask you guys to help my good friends at Knitty City. They are one of 10 Big Break finalists and are competing for a $25,000 prize that they will use towards building more knitting communities in the New York area.
More knitting communities = more knitters. More knitters = we are one step closer to taking over the world! Ok, maybe not that last one, but seriously, go vote now and then every day after until August 31st!
Vote and watch Knitty City’s video here.
Posted on | July 14, 2012 | 74 Comments
There are few things that excite me more than a good knitting technique book, especially when it really narrows in on a particular topic in detail. Leslie Ann Bestor’s new book: Cast On, Bind Off features 54 ways to start and finish your knits. Yes, I said 54. Believe it or not, long-tail isn’t the only way to cast on and a standard bind off isn’t the only way to finish things up!
I have to admit that when I’m knitting along on a project, it’s really easy to slip into a comfort zone and only use the techniques I know by heart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to redo a cuff edge on a sock or the bind off on a shawl over again because of that comfort zone. I’m a pretty patient person, but when it comes to fixing a sock that was knit from the cuff down or shawl edge that has about a million stitches along the edge, it’s enough to make a grown knitter cry. I always regret not taking a few extra minutes to look up the proper technique and do it right the first time.
When I design, however, it’s a different story. Taking the time to plan out an interesting detail or two to keep the knitter engaged is really important to me. Since a lot of my designs are silhouette based, rather than technique, using an interesting cast on or bind off is a way for me to introduce a new skill without compromising my design.
My favorite cast on to use is one version of a tubular cast on, which can be a little tricky to work. In this instance, Leslie uses step-by-step photographs to clearly explain how to work four different versions of this cast on, giving you tips on how to “get it right” along the way. In the beginning of each technique in the book, she also gives a short summary of its characteristics and what it is good for. It’s always nice to know if a particular technique will give you the result you envision before you begin. Even if you don’t know where to start, the clear chapter headings will help guide you to where you need to be.
Personally, I think this book is really going to help me step out of my self-imposed cast on/bind off rut and I think it would be a welcome addition to any knitter’s library.
Thanks to Storey Publishing, I have one copy of Cast On, Bind Off to give away! Just leave me a comment below about something related to the book. Maybe you want to tell me about your favorite go to technique, a new technique you’d like to try, or why you think this book would be a perfect addition to your library. Something just generally amusing is good too. I love a good laugh. Comments will be open until Wednesday July 18th 9pm EST and one winner will be chosen via a random number generator.
And in the meantime, go check it out at your LYS! Just tell your significant other you need to do some “research”.
If you’d like to follow along with the blog tour, check out the list below.
Posted on | July 12, 2012 | 1 Comment
The weather in NYC the past few months has been a little erratic. During my time off, there were many days where a light jacket would do for neighborhood errands. It was bright and sunny for most of February, March, and April. The photo shoot for my book was scheduled for the middle of May, so I had hoped the good weather would continue. Then it started to rain, pour actually, almost every. single. day.
We had to delay the shoot until early June. The rain threatened us then as well, but we took our chances. The clouds in the photo to the left looked a bit threatening when we were at Grand Army Plaza, but thankfully we only got a little wet.
Even though it was an extremely crazy week at work, I managed to slip out for one day of the three day photo shoot. In my full-time job capacity, I have been to a few before, but never on location. It was definitely an interesting learning experience for me. There are so many details to think about, and for the most part, everything ran pretty smoothly.
The shoot took place in different locations in Brooklyn, some places that I had never even heard of before. Everything was very well thought out. The stylist was fantastic, makeup and hair was perfect, the photographer was excellent, and the Creative Director understood my vision. Sometimes is is hard for me to give up creative control, but I was in very good hands!
The book is scheduled to be released by Interweave Press next May and hopefully the date sticks! My excitement for the book was renewed after seeing my projects come to life on the models. I can’t wait for you to see the final outcome and let me know what you think!
Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn
Posted on | July 9, 2012 | 2 Comments
The past 8 weeks have been quite a whirlwind. Here I am, thinking I’ll be devoting all of my time to independent design and building my own business. Then it changes in an instant!
When I was laid off from my job back in January, I was a little sad, but I was excited about all the possibilities. The ability to do what I love and design what I want. Be my own boss. Keep my own hours. Not answer to anyone! I really thought it was going to happen. The universe was telling me that it was my time. I felt I was pushed off the cliff because I would never take the plunge on my own. I’m a dreamer who is way too practical for my own good sometimes.
Well, apparently it was only my time for 4 months. Just long enough to finish up about 95% of my book, which I could have never done with a full-time job. A few weeks ago, I got a job offer and I’m back in the industry once more working as a Junior sweater designer. It’s nice that the bills are getting paid, but it seems that the hours are a little more demanding than my last job.
Sadly, that means less time for my hand-knit designs.
I’m hoping that things will get settled soon and I’ll get back in the swing of things. What little time I do have has been devoted to tech editing at the moment. The deadlines are a little more forgiving than designing in my current situation. It is kind of shocking that my needles have sat unused and lonely for about a month. Yes, I was that busy!
Thankfully, I have found a moment or two to cast on my “training swatch” for the Ravellenic Games. My challenge? Ysolda’s Little Birds from Twist Collective. I’ve wanted to knit this one up for the longest time and figured this was a good time to jump in! Even if I don’t cross the finish line on time, it will be nice to be knitting again.
Posted on | May 8, 2012 | 2 Comments
Last week, I headed out to the Lion Brand Studio for a special event with Brenda Dayne from Cast-On. Being a loyal listener for years, I jumped at the chance to be able to see and meet her in person. If she happens to be stopping by your area, I highly suggest going to see her!
She spoke on the topic of “A Memorable Yarn”. The essay was a mix of how memories are formed and how we form special yarn related memories when we are knitting. How many of you have bought a skein of yarn on vacation as a souvenir? Or how many of you can pick up a sweater and remember exactly what was going on when it was in the process of being knit? That skein of yarn or sweater can trigger an almost photographic memory and bring you back to that period in your life.
In between, we were treated to a story about Brenda’s second sweater. It had quite a journey that ended up becoming another sweater (after all, you can’t waste good wool!). However, this second incarnation of the sweater didn’t quite make the cut and she planned on reclaiming the yarn once again. At this point, she took the sweater out of her bag and showed us. The audience approved of the sweater, but it was to no avail. She began to unravel the sweater in front of us, which brought quite a bit of panic from some audience members! Her reason for doing so was a simple way for her to attach a new memory to the yarn that had been through so much already. Her reasoning: when she is back in Wales and knitting her new sweater, she will think about all of the people she met on her journey and the new memories that are now attached to the yarn.
To coincide with the event, the attendees were asked to bring in a memory bag. We were instructed to take a bit of yarn that had some sort of memory or meaning attached to it and knit a little bag. Inside the bag, we placed a piece of paper with a story about the yarn and what memories are attached to it. Here is my memory:
About 10 years ago, I submitted a design for a little book called Stitch n’ Bitch Nation. I was fresh out of design school, in my first job as a sweater designer, and I decided to try my hand at something new. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, well, until I got the acceptance email from Debbie Stoller herself. The. Debbie. Stoller. Wow. Breathe Melissa. Breathe.
The first design that is accepted to any publication always has its own special memories attached to it. I remember jumping up and down a lot and telling anyone that would listen. My knitting group in LIC was ecstatic and very supportive as well. Celebrating your triumph with other understanding knitters is really second to none.
After the excitement wore off (a little), reality set in. “I have no idea how to write a pattern!! What am I going to do?”
While waiting for my yarn, I picked up and started reading every pattern from Rowan magazine in my collection. It probably would have been helpful to pick up some American publications as well, but I wasn’t really as connected to the knitting world then. I didn’t even know that Knitty.com existed!
The yarn finally arrived and I was off! I had chosen Rowan 4 ply Cotton in a pretty teal blue color. I was particularly devoted to Rowan at that time in my knitting life. I was also particularly devoted to small needles as well. Typically beginners go for the larger needles, but not me. My first sweater was on size 2′s. My first design was on size 4′s. Seemed perfectly natural to me.
With a little bit of luck, and some help from Helen in my knitting group, the sweater was finished. I don’t really remember how long it took, but I remember stitching the last seam on the floor of my apartment during the 2002 Winter Olympic closing ceremonies. I also remember being so emotional that I cried. Was I going to miss the sweater or the Olympics? Who knows!
I took the sweater to work the next day, took a few pictures with my co-worker modeling it, and then prepared it to be dropped off. Because I was in New York City and didn’t trust my first baby to be delivered safely in the mail, I decided to go down personally to the Bust magazine office and hand it to Debbie myself.
I walked into the Bust office like a shy puppy. I was shown to Debbie’s desk, but she was on the phone. I quickly muttered something to someone at a nearby desk and practically took off. As I was waiting for the elevator, Debbie came around the corner and thanked me for dropping it off personally and I felt like a total geek for running off. Who knew meeting the Stitch n’ Bitch queen could make me so nervous! If you’ve ever met Debbie, she really is one of the nicest, most approachable person ever.
When the book arrived in the bookstores, the Lucky Clover Wrap ended up being one of the more popular patterns in the book. Maybe I had a career in hand knit design after all! 10 years later, I’d say that is the case. With a few books, magazines, and a self-published line under my belt plus a book of my own coming out next year with Interweave, I’d say I haven’t done too bad.
With these bits of leftover Rowan 4 ply cotton, I celebrate the memory of the unknown opportunities at the time and what is yet to come in my yarny journey!
Posted on | April 24, 2012 | 5 Comments
This past Monday, I sent out the last batch of sweaters for my book. After working on it for a little over a year, it’s hard to believe that it is almost finished. There are still a few details to write and patterns to name, but for the most part I consider myself done!
Up next will be a photo shoot and reviewing the manuscript and tech edited patterns. Reviewing is no small task, but considering I just knit about 10 projects in about 4 1/2 months, I think I’ll make it through.
My fingers are itching to get something new on the needles and I’ve been busy thinking about what’s next. You see, I have a bit more time to concentrate on my hand knit designs now after leaving the fashion industry this past January. It’s been a very big change for me and I hope that with your encouragement and support, I will be able to do what I’ve always wanted: work for myself.
In the coming year, I hope to not only get back to publishing with Knitscene, Twist Collective, and Interweave Knits, but also publishing a bunch of new independent patterns (including the new J knit format). I’m also toying with ideas for a few larger projects as well.
And of course, I hope to get back to posting here regularly! I have a backlog of tutorials and interesting things to share with you. I hope you’ll come back and visit often!
Posted on | January 31, 2012 | 1 Comment
When Julia from JKnit contacted me about selling my patterns within their company’s new iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad app, I was intrigued. I had checked out other knitting apps for the iPhone before, but they really fell short of my expectations. Julia sent me a copy of the app, I immersed myself in a few video tutorials (short and sweet), and got started converting my patterns into the JKnit format.
The knitpoint.com store launched last week and I am excited to announce that four of my patterns (Grannie Smith, Cohansie, Sesame, and Idylewylde) are now available in JKnit format, with more on the way! With the recent update to the app, the user now has the option of purchasing patterns already formatted for JKnit along with the typical PDF file you’re familiar with (it now has a PDF viewer within the app).
Can I just say that I absolutely love this app! I really can’t say enough good things about it. JKnit has become a necessary part of my knitting and designing toolbox. To me, it’s one of those things like Ravelry, you don’t know how you ever lived without it. I use it every. single. day.
Previously, the user had to convert their knitting patterns into the JKnit format. The JKnit format is a special way of inputting the pattern so you can use it in the app. Basically, the app has a creating pattern section (available in Pro version only) and a counter section. To knit from the pattern, the knitter uses the counter function to click the counter after each row is complete. As you click each row, the pattern is displayed in a line by line format so you know exactly what to do. It keeps track of any stitch patterns, stitch counts, shaping (it even easily tracks “at the same time” directions!!!), and height “events” (JKnit speak).
If you’re like me and have ever knit a bazillion rows past your shaping because you’re in another world, forgot to do something “at the same time”, or missed starting your armholes when the back measured 15″ long, this app is a project saver. Having a counter that keeps track of where you are means you are less likely to have to frog any of your work back. You still have to remember to click the counter of course, but boy has it saved me a lot of time! Another plus? If you come back to your project a year later, no more wondering where you are in the pattern. Your place is saved for you.
If you’d like to learn more about the app, try the following links:
JKnit – main site
Knitpoint.com – online knitting pattern store
Posted on | January 18, 2012 | 2 Comments
NYC has never been the same since VK Live came to town last year. Having thousands of knitters converge on the city for 3 days worth of knitting is just awesome. And not to mention all of the other events going on at various LYS while well known teachers and designers are in town!
I spent Saturday and Sunday exploring the marketplace and catching up with friends. There were book signings galore this year, so it was fairly easy to find everyone throughout the day. As for those designers who attended the show as “civilians”, I also managed to run into quite a few of them as well.
Cirilia Rose and I at the Skacel booth
This year, I really wanted to take Catherine Lowe’s couture knitting class, but apparently it is always the first to sell out. At the last minute, I decided to take a class about teaching and creating classes with Tricia Malcolm. While Tricia does not really teach knitting classes, she started her career as a teacher at an all girls school. It was a great class and I would certainly recommend taking it if that sort of thing interests you.
I also walked away with a few goodies, of course:
- Tiny Unicorn Kit from Mochimochi Land
- I loved the Long Island Livestock Company’s booth. Clean design, natural colored yarns, and sheepy soaps and lotions. I picked up some Shepherdess Salve and Bulky Alpaca/Cotswold Lamb – courtesy of Zack.
Yarn courtesy of Zack the sheep
- I just had to restock on Soak, cause it’s awesome. I purchased one of their new scents, Lacey. Apparently it was a pretty popular one, it flew off the shelf! I also finally purchased a soaking basin, I really don’t know why I didn’t pick one up sooner. I love it! I’ve already used it a bazillion times since last week. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much!
- VK Live wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the Knitty City booth. Last year, I felt like their booth was the heart of the show and certainly didn’t disappoint this year. I popped in on Tanis Gray signing her latest book, Local Knits and Connie Chang Chinchio signing her first book, Textured Stitches. Both books will get a proper review on this blog very, very soon.
Tanis and her new book, Knit Local
Laura Nelkin, Connie, and I with her new book, Textured Stitches
Some other highlights of the show:
Belle Felted Wrap at Bijou Basin
Yellowfarm: it was nice to see more local farms at the show this year. I particularly liked their Jacob wool from Barton Hill Jacobs.
Ysolda: I got to check out her 2 new books: Whimsical Little Knits 3 and Saturday Treat, an accessory collection in Fyberspates yarn.
Yarnpop: Cute little project bags in fun prints.
And finally, a few random pictures cause I thought these dresses were cool:
Posted on | January 11, 2012 | 3 Comments
I rang in the new year knitting up a storm on a book project (surprised?) and I have made fairly good progress the past 3 weeks. It always helps when you are on vacation for part of it!
This year I am more concerned about completing the remaining projects on my plate than making resolutions, but I have resolved that as soon as I am done, I will be knitting at least 2 sweaters for myself. I think it will be an appropriate reward for all the knitting I’ve been doing for other things! Hopefully I won’t swear off knitting entirely for awhile……
However, I am sure a few of you out there have made some nice knitting resolutions for the new year. Maybe it’s the hopeful journey into the UFO pile, knitting a sweater a month, or learning a new skill. Or maybe you just want to be more mindful of your knitting. What will be driving your knitting passion this upcoming year?
(Photo: I spent Jan 2nd basking in all my hockey glory at the Winter Classic in Philadelphia thanks to surprise tickets from my Dad. I am happy that I am able to balance my knitting and hockey time. Definitely can’t live without either!)
Posted on | December 10, 2011 | 1 Comment
But here we are in December and I have a book due in a little over 4 months! I have been working, but it hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as the first half. Mainly this was due to new responsibilities given to me at work. I was told 2 months ago that I was now responsible for the kids sweater division as well as my junior one. Lovely.
Thankfully things are starting to wind down as Chinese New Year draws closer. The factory closes for a month and we all get a little bit of a break and much needed rest!
For me, there will be no rest for the weary, but that’s OK. I am just glad to finally have dedicated time to devote to my book project.
I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday! See you in the New Year!
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