Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ada Fanshawe Wrap

I have a collection of stitch patterns that I return to when I’m looking for inspiration. I’ve had this one a long time but I’m not sure what the original source was. It’s not exactly the same on both sides but it’s almost the same due to the little triangles made up of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch. It is reversible in that the so called wrong side is very nice and almost the same in appearance. The only difference in it is that  the K1, p1, k1 column reverses to P1, k1, p1. The pattern is easily memorized and has a nice flow once you get going. If you decide to knit this one don’t let the 24 row repeat intimidate you as the rows progress logically creating little triangles once you get past that first repeat. The edges have a pretty zigzag that adds vertical visual interest and slims your body by pulling the eye of the viewer up and down when it is worn as a shawl. The silk content of the yarn allows the fabric to drape so it is easy to wear as a scarf as well.  The instructions include both a charted and a written version of the stitch pattern so that you can use whichever format you prefer.

One of my friends test/sample knit this for me and told me that she enjoyed working on it. I've had a few people knit for me and I can't express how much fun it is for me when the project comes back. It seems like magic to hand over a swatch, a written pattern and the yarn and some time in the future get the whole thing back completed. I've knit so much over the years that having someone else create the item feels very odd (but wonderful). I'm new at this so right now I can only hand off simple designs that most decisions can be made on the swatch. I was thinking about adding a fringe or perhaps tassels to the finished wrap but I didn't add either to the swatch so when the completed wrap got back to me I realized that spacing would be simplified by utilizing the eyelets created by the yarn overs. 

I knit and write at the same time for my complex projects. Afterward I test my written instructions by working on something else to clear my mind and then going back and doing test swatches, knitting from my own instructions. Some projects get test knit at that stage and some don't depending on what I feel is needed to finish up the design before the tech edit stage.

When this wrap came back to me to be blocked  I could see there was still lots of yarn so I decided to finish it with a knotted fringe rather than the tassels I was considering. I really love the elegance of that type of fringe. I often debate fringe with a Knitting friend who always says "fringe is just a waste of good yarn." Oh well, we have to appreciate that not everyone sees these things in the same way. It was especially easy to add the fringe due to the eyelets at both ends created by the yarn overs of the pattern. I only had two spots that did not have an eyelet ready made and waiting for me. So in this case the fringes are perfectly spaced.

The yarn used came from Dye Version. You can find them here. There is more detail about the yarn here. Their description of the yarn states "This luxurious sock weight yarn with 2% real sterling silver fibres is perfect for Shawls and Lace projects.The subtle sparkle adds a touch of elegance for every affair."

The yarn is 20% silk and the wrap drapes beautifully because of that. I can't wait to wear it. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Interview with...Michelle G. Miller

Once a week I post  interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Michelle here and here.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere!  But mostly when I’m not currently looking.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Knitting lace, specifically the rhythm of knitted lace. 

How did you determine your size range?
I design accessories with one skein luxury yarns so most of my size ranges are determined by the size of the hank of yarn.  There’s something beautiful about a finished item that comes from only one skein of yarn.  At the end you feel like you’ve played a trick on the universe by creating something concrete out of what is universally held as not enough yarn.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I do my best to keep blinders on when it comes to the work of other designers.   When I do look I tend to be dazzled by the wit and creativity of others and usually come up feeling inadequate.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I’m irritated by the expression. I am formally trained as a physicist and I hold a graduate degree.  I find that it takes more time, effort and thought to make something look simple than it does to express the same idea in a complex form that no one can understand.  If no one can knit your dizzily brilliant but complicated pattern, you haven’t communicated your idea in a way that will cause it to outlast you.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I knit all my own samples as part of my pattern writing process.  I am very lucky to have a large number of test knitters.  My successful test knitting/pattern testing relationship developed organically on Ravelry.  My test knitters have become my friends and acquaintances.   

A test knitter is presented with a set number of Fickle Knitter patterns after they complete testing of a new pattern as compensation as well as the pattern and item they test knit.  I prefer that my testers work from stash yarns and I give them the flexibility to finish the projects on their own.  They must be self motivated.  I use both a tech editor as well as pattern testers because I want to create the best patterns possible.

I have a trusted friend who I recommend as a sample knitter for yarn companies and knitting shops.  I am often asked for sample knitting and there are just not enough hours in the day for me to take sample knitting for other businesses when I’m so busy with my own.  The sample knitter relationship works out well because the shops and dyers have access to knitted samples and my time is use to focus on business tasks.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I do have a business plan.  When I started my business in 2008 I painstakingly wrote out the vision I had for Fickle Knitter Design. And about every six months or so I reevaluate where I am currently and where I want to go.  I forecast and make plans for at least one year into the future for my business.  This being said my plan is always in flux and I rarely end up where I thought I would go.  One of the most important aspects for my business is adaptability.  Particularly since so many knitwear designers are forging ahead in the digital frontier.  We are pioneers and require a great amount of flexibility because our marketplace is constantly changing.

Many of the goals I vocalized in the original plan have come to fruition but I still have a long way to go.  I have yet to write my first book, but I have met my goals for getting my patterns into the world, becoming a pattern wholesaler, and being published in magazines and contributing to books by other Authors.  Buried in the middle of my (not so) humble first business plan is a quote I’d like to share, by George Bernard Shaw:
“Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence.  Just do what must be done.  This may not be happiness but it is greatness.”

Looking back I am still inspired by my initial plan with new ideas and a perspective that I didn’t possess in the early days of my business.

Do you have a mentor?
I consider Elizabeth Zimmermann and Vibeke Lind to be my very first mentors, in the early days of my first attempts at knitting via their books “Knitting without Tears” and “Knitting in the Nordic Tradition.”  As a designer and business owner I’m very lucky to have been mentored by both Mary Beth Temple and Laura Crowley.  I also make it a point to mentor other designers. I get many questions from designers in various stages of their careers and I try to encourage them and help them as I have been helped and encouraged over the years.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I did not have a prepackaged business model to follow.  Since the start of my business I’ve read books exhaustively on topics like marketing, business, and advertising. I started out reading David Ogilvy and used his book recommendations in “Confessions of an Advertising Man” as a jumping off point to find other reading material.  I also treat my online business as a Service based instead of Goods based industry and that’s the topic I’m currently researching.  The two books I’m reading now are “Marketing Services” by Leonard Berry and “The Marketing Imagination” by Theodore Levitt. Another book that has a lot of value in deciding on how to run a craft based business is “Creative Cash: How to sell your Crafts, Needlework, Designs & Know-how” by Barbara Brabec. Although the book was written over 30 years ago it still has insight that can be applied to craft business models today.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I wouldn’t have a knitting pattern business if it weren’t for the Internet. In fact I’ll go one further and say that I wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for Ravelry.  It wasn’t until the genesis of the website that I realized that pattern writing is accessible and something that could be done.  Ysolda Teague and Rosemary Hill were the first two pattern writers who captured my attention as wildly successful  and prolific pattern writers. Both women have an avid following of devoted knitters and healthy businesses.  They were the pioneers that showed that a successful pattern business could exist and grow via the Internet.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
I was always nervous about the expense of a tech editor, and so for the first year of my business I relied only on test knitters.  Once I tried tech editing though I never went back. In fact I found that tech editing has so much value that I went back and  had all of my original patterns edited, even those that were initially test knit only.  The prices for editing are very reasonable and there really is nothing like another set of eyes to constructively make your patterns the best they can be.  I find that there is nothing as effective as having a new pattern both tech edited and test knit to prevent errors from sneaking in. However these sneaky little bastards do sometimes find their way into published work. At that point you must correct the mistake, and move on about your day.  Errata is something that plagues all writers, but specifically those of us who create detailed instructions for others.  I was once in a class with Meg Swansen where it was discovered that an error had crept into a pattern.  Meg with class and grace addressed the error and we all went on about our business.  So that’s what I aim for.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Not very well. When you have your own business there is no Monday through Friday, 9-5 business hour days.  I am always working on something business related and I travel a lot.  I try to be engaged in those precious little moments with my family but it’s hard.  Owning your own business requires a lot of money, time, and sacrifice to nurture growth.  A new business is much like the first few months of the life of an infant, requiring constant attention and care.  I feel though that it is the right path for me because the business brings fulfillment and I’m providing a positive role model for my daughter.  She sees me working at something I love and really going for it.  I hope that she thinks it’s perfectly normal for a woman to own her own business and work at it just like a man would.   

How do you deal with criticism?
First I cry bitter tears into my caffeinated beverage of choice.  Then after about a week I dry my tears and assess whether the criticism was constructive or not.  I follow my gut.  If I feel deep down that a criticism was not constructive I set it aside.  If I know in my heart and my gut that a criticism was valid I step outside myself and heed the advice.  I have experienced more personal growth from criticism than I thought possible.  We NEED criticism to grow.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Hahahaha! Well my husband and I made the choice to become a one income family shortly after the birth of my daughter, Maya.  We still make sacrifices to make it all work.  We share a car, and we don’t buy the latest, newest, biggest gadget du jour.  My business is entering its third year and although it is solvent all the money made is reinvested back into the business.  I don’t get a paycheck, holidays or paid vacations.  I fly coach, eat non organic vegetables and try to be smart about money. In other words I’d be living pretty lean if I expected to be supported by a business that is still in its infancy.  My suggestion up and coming new businesses would be to budget in what you need to be paid when you are applying for loans and capital for your business.  It may take 3, 5, or 7 years before you see enough profit to take a paycheck home, all while putting in many more hours and making sacrifices that hourly employees don’t need to take.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
You’ll hear no a lot before those yeses roll in, but don’t let it stop you.  Be stubborn, tenacious, and knit like nobody is watching.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jacek and Robin Make a Video

Robin Hunter Designs is working on their first video!

My husband thankfully took over photography duties as soon as I started self publishing. He's been having a lot of fun with it and every shoot produces even better photos. He is a big consumer of YouTube videos and decided that's what he wants to do next. So we spent a weekend videotaping me presenting step by step knotted fringing. We learned a lot while doing this. It takes way longer to set up and test the shots than the actual taping takes. We played a lot with lighting, experimented with surfaces to show my close up hand work and even played with my makeup a little. I can't wear my glasses as  the anti-reflective lenses still shine too much.  He is now working on editing and we need to add in some audio. It should be up in a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Prudence Crowley Vest


The photography is done and the pattern has been edited, its up on Ravelry here, Patternfish here  and LoveKnitting here.

The original yarn used here (Nashua Handknits Wooly Stripes) has unfortunately been discontinued. I'm often asked for suggested substitutes which then can be discontinued as well. As of, March 2013, many knitters tell me Taiyo Aran has been successfully substituted. As of Oct 2013 a reader tells me Mochi Plus from Crystal Palace Yarns is also an excellent substitute. Creative Poems Aran, Kaleidoscope, Odin and Filzwolle Fine Color appear to be an almost identical match to the original yarn. For current substitutes using Ravelry, do a search on 100% wool yarns, Aran weight, that are not discontinued. Put the word single in the search box at the top of the screen and you will get the current available yarn matches. Within those matches look for self striping yarns with long runs. 

I ended up wearing the vest to my monthly KNIT (Knitting Night in Toronto) group and I was very happy with it. I was given a shawl pin at Christmas that looks great on the vest so I wore it with the top edge folded back like a collar and pinned in the front the way it appears in the top photo. You can find the pins for sale here. My husband does the layout work on my patterns after editing so he made improvements to the schematic and the stitch legend before I uploaded it to Patternfish, Ravelry and LoveKnitting. I don't have much of a waistline, but look at what the stripes do in the top photo...they create one by adding in extra visual curves. I also noticed that if you leave it hanging straight that the vest hides fullness in the tummy area.

Monday, January 24, 2011

But is it Art?

I've been writing a presentation that I will be giving at my guild in March on why we knit. I've been reading a lot for this lecture and one of the books that I really enjoyed is pictured above. String Felt Thread by Elissa Auther. It  covers the history of the American art world during the movement of fiber work from the "low" world of craft to the "high" world of art in the 1960s and 1970s. It looks at the work of artists like Miriam Schapiro, Judy Chicago and  Faith Ringgold, as well as others who experimented with materials that previously had been dismissed for their associations with the merely decorative, with crafts and with women's domestic work. Auther specifically asks "What accounts for the distinction between art and craft?" The book discusses the roles of gender and race as they pertain to defining art. Auther looks at the shift in the art world from pictorial works to the acceptance of the modern installation pieces as well as the changing acceptance of the mediums that artists choose to work with.

I've also been thinking a lot about designer compensation. I've been convinced that at least part of the problem is one of gender. I've read all of Annie Modisett's blog postings on this topic and she indicates that compensation has been stagnant since the 80's. Nora Bellows has a posting here addressing the topic of why we want to support indie designers as well.  I had an interesting conversation with a peer about this topic and her view of the history of knitting design was pretty much the same as all area's where women were traditionally underpaid with justifications that have been reviewed during the women's movement. On one level this is actually a political discussion. I suspect that industrial designers like Karim Rashid don't have similar problems because their work is clearly accepted as linking art and design.

I'd be designing with or without compensation but to be honest making money from the work is partially about validity and credibility to the rest of the world. In my case, like many of my peers as evidenced in the interviews I do here on the blog, I have alternative income that allows me to pursue designing. I do think that what I'm doing is art. I get the same feelings of accomplishment and self expression that I did when I was taking art instruction and producing work in accepted art mediums that were non-functional and simply hung on the wall. I see the requirements of fit and flattery for the wearer as part of the development of my technique in the same way that I had to develop the techniques to work with water colour paints in a different way than I did when working with oils. We discussed this at the Pro-Knitters group I belong to and the other members also felt that they were artists.

What do you think, do you see your design work as art?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Prudence Crowley Vest

Just before Christmas I started working on a vest pattern.  I was still working on the Evelyn Howard Scarf at the same time but I've discovered that my pattern writing improves when I take breaks from one project to work on something different.  It seems that I forget enough of what I'm doing so that on my next review of the pattern I notice misleading wording more often...  Or perhaps my brain just comes up with better ways of expressing the information if I let the processing go on in the background.

I've had some art instruction in my past experiences and it was common for a teacher to give assignments that had specific parameters of the medium to work in as well as certain "rules" to follow regarding execution.  I like that approach and I use it often to inspire my own creativity.  It forces my brain in directions that I might not have gone otherwise.

My goal for this vest was to develop something that is one step up for a beginner from a scarf and would be a garment that did not demand a great deal of fitting but could flatter a variety of figure shapes.  It had to require only basic skills, no complex finishing, no picking up for bands or buttonholes. I've realized that really experienced Knitters also love these kinds of projects for TV and social knitting where they want to work on something that does not require a lot of referring to a pattern.  That also means that the yarn has to do a lot of the work with interesting colour or texture.

I started swatching  with the Wooly Stripes yarn pictured above. I have a different colourway with fuchsia, burgundy, green and blue.  Now that I write patterns my first swatch is always in stocking stitch so I can confirm that I get the ball band gauge. The colours were gorgeous but a little too strongly striped for my purposes. I also wanted to avoid having separate knit bands so I needed a flat stitch. The front of the vest that I was envisioning shows both sides of the fabric depending on how it is worn so I also needed both sides to look good.  Next I tried garter and then a garter based lace that really didn't show up well with the colour changes. I switched to a simple knit/purl stitch combo and that really made the colourway zing. Unfortunately that doesn't show well in the photo below. The stitch also had the advantage of being easily memorized. That makes it much easier for the Knitter to incorporate new stitches or delete stitches while staying in pattern.  When I blocked my swatch the fabric looked great and laid very flat. I also got the same gauge as my first swatch.

I had an idea for a silhouette from a fashion show that I had seen. It was a jersey knit garment that I thought when viewed from the front was a scarf and then the model turned and I realized it was a vest. Cool!  I'll write more on this vest as the pattern progresses and let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knitted Jewellery from Elinor Voytal

Amazing knitted jewellery! 

Elinor Voytal has a degree in knitted textiles.  Her graduate collection  was made up of  jewellery pieces made using machine knitting techniques and intricate embellishment.  On her website she says that "Her designs are inspired by the fusion of hard metal and crystal elements into the soft, delicate and luxurious structures of machine knitted silk and viscose. She is interested in the way the embedding of metal findings or embellishment of Swarovski crystals changes the feel and weight of the fabric. The colourway for her graduate collection was taken from pixelised manipulations of her own photographs and she continues to use photography as inspiration."

You can find her website here.

Elinor was interviewed here if you would like to know more about her.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gratuitous cat cuteness - There are advantages to woking from home.

I had to share this photo. Cici had her spaying surgery last  Tuesday. She has to wear a collar because she is licking at the incision. She has been asleep on the edge of my laptop for over an hour in this shot. I love working from home!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yarn Substitutions Gauge vs. Weight Comparisons

The target yarn

Generally when substituting yarns the recommendation is to look at the gauges of both yarns and compare.  We also tend to look at fiber content, the named weight  and construction when that information is available.

There is another component to comparing that has a big impact on row gauge and I rarely see it covered in discussions of yarn substitution.  When you are swatching if you can get the right number of stitches per inch but have too many rows, your yarn is too thin.  If you can get the right number of stitches per inch but have too few rows, your yarn is too thick.  The question is how to get that information from the ball bands.  The way to do it is by comparing yards/ounces to meters/grams.

As an example lets say you want a substitution for Nashua Wooly Stripes.  If you go to Ravelry and do a search,you can get most of the details about that yarn. Next do an advanced search inputting the info you collected; 1 fiber, 100 % wool, Aran weight - you will get 909 possibilities but lets make it even closer and add the description single in the search box. You will get down to 49 possible matches. Notice also that the gauge info for Wooly stripes says 16 -18 stitches on a 5  - 5.5mm.


Take a look at Shakespeare by Artful yarn and notice that it is 123 m/100 grams or 123 divided by 100 which equals 1.23 m/gram.  Compare to the Wooly Stripes 80 m/50 grams or 1.6 m/gram. 


Now take a look at Kaleidoscope by Elegant yarns, the conversion here is 1.59m/gram.  I think this one is more clearly a closer match in weight to the original yarn. Also note that the gauge info for this yarn is 18 - 20 stitches on a 4 - 5 mm. The info overlaps but is not exactly the same.  Did you notice how very similar the yarns are?

I have one more tip here to add here.  It is not unusual for yarns to show up that are exactly the same from different companies.  Yarn mills sell the same yarns and let the companies label them with different names.  Sometimes the put up is different 50 grams vs. 100 grams balls, and often the yarn company gets exclusivity on the colours so that the other company with the same yarn appears to have something different.  Watch out for this when you are searching for substitutions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Have you been Ma'am-ed yet?

I think it's a right of passage, somewhere around our 40th birthday  we stop being referred to as Miss and start hearing the dreaded Ma'am word. I know that most people claim that it is a sign of respect but the first time I heard it it was a bit of a shock. It told me that the perception of me to the rest of the world had just crossed a line and it was one that I wasn't sure which side I wished to be on. I like my life so it's easy to be happy about who I am right now and truly I do feel that there are many perks to being older and a lot less angst. My husband felt the same sense of discomfort the first time a teenager called him Sir so I know it's not just a sexist term more an ageist one.

A few years ago a friend who is a little older than me gave me a some insight into how this perception of us by younger people progresses. She told me that she feels invisible, and generally disregarded as an old person. I suppose it's a reflection of our society at large. 

We had some ageism show up at the Knitting Guild I belong to a few months ago. A new member while complimenting the format of our meetings and the programming wanted to find the same thing but in a group with younger members. I had a great conversation about it with some of my knitting friends and the two youngest (one more than 20 years younger than me),didn't really see the new member's point. We also discussed the age of the guilds executive which is generally older than the average age of the members. I think this may be due to the fact that most younger women especially those with children simply don't have the time  available to commit to the hours of unpaid volunteer work necessary to make the guild run. I like having friends of different ages as it adds to my experience of the world to hear how people at different stages of life feel about various topics.When I started thinking about it my friends have a forty year age range and I value them independently of their number of years on this earth.

BTW, You can buy the apron here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sock-knitting grannies in Switzerland

I was following a link from an old newsletter article when I came across this. I've written about a few of the knitting business's that I've come across so of course this caught my attention. When I got to the  Net Granny site it appears that they are no longer in operation but are looking for someone to continue the project for them. It looks like they had support from a retail clothing manufacturer called Tarzan. I wonder what happened? Was it a for profit business? Does anyone know?

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Interview with...Miriam Felton

Once a week I post  interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.  

You can find Miriam here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration EVERYWHERE!  Sometimes it's a print on a piece of fabric, sometimes a photograph, sometimes a whole period of modern design... it really varies.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about historical fashion and the details that went into clothing in the 16th and 17th centuries.  I haven't figured out yet how I want to translate that to knitting, but it's percolating.  I recently released the Silver Screen Collection of glove patterns inspired by 1940's actresses and the glamor of Old Hollywood.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I think saying it's a controversy is a bit alarmist.  I think there is a camp of knitters who want everything spelled out, they want to not have to think when they work up a pattern because they knit for relaxation.  I think that's valid, but I also think that the camp of knitters who want to be challenged by a pattern and want to learn something every time they start a project also have a valid way of doing things.  Most of the time I'm in the second camp.  I like to be challenged, but there are certainly times when I want to be able to trust that the pattern I knit is going to come out perfectly if I just blindly follow the instructions.  There's room for everyone at the table, but having said that, I think it's ridiculous for a knitter to expect to make a fitted sweater fit THEIR body without any modifications, or to expect every sweater to look good on a particular body type.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
Most of the time I knit the samples myself.  If I have a different size or a re-knit of a finished pattern in a new yarn, then I sometimes farm it out to a sample knitter, but there are details that I work out as I knit that wouldn't be the same if I didn't knit the pattern myself first, so that's usually what I do.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I did. I graduated from University with a degree in Business, so I have put that training to good use. 

I actually am launching a new way of doing my business in January.  I'm going to be offering 2 collections a year and run them a bit more like a fashion design business than the traditional knitting design business.  Each collection will have a color theme and a technique or motif that runs through all the pieces.  I'm very excited about this model and it's proving a great source of inspiration and focus.  I'm working on collecting images, color samples, and snippets of yarns I want to use for the new story and I'll be documenting the motifs and swatches as I go.  I think that it will be great for knitters to catch the enthusiasm of the collection as it unfolds.  I'm planning on developing new classes to correspond with each collection as well, to tie in the teaching aspect.  I'm also going to start offering sweaters in these collections, which is relatively new for me, since my designs have been primarily accessory patterns. 

Do you have a mentor?
Not really, but I have a great support network of other indie designers and friends that I go to when I need a little help or a sounding board for an idea that's stuck in my head.

Do you use a Tech Editor?
Absolutely!  A Tech Editor is one of the most important parts of the pattern writing process!  And a good TE is worth his/her weight in gold.  I have a few go-to tech editors, and some that I've worked with and will never do so again.  It's a bit of a process finding a TE who works with your style of pattern writing and can understand how your brain works.  And a good TE will not try to silence the designer's voice in a pattern, but will just make sure that voice is saying only correct things and not leading knitters astray :)

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I'm not going to lie, it's very hard.  I try to take weekends off, but sometimes that doesn't happen.  The problem with running your own business is that if you're not working, then NO ONE is working.  You don't have some team of people who are answering e-mails if you decide to take a week off.  I'm in the process right now of finding some studio space so that I can stop working in my home.  I think it will help with the work/home separation and make it harder to just pop off to work for a few minutes when I'm supposed to be spending time with my family.  I also try to keep some knitting on hand that ISN'T for work, even if it's just a pair of simple socks, so that I can still knit but not be working.  My current between-designs project is a mitered square blanket made from all my scraps of sock yarn.  It's turning out really beautifully, and it's quite mindless and relaxing.  The project is listed here on Ravelry 

How do you deal with criticism?
I try to take it with a grain of salt.  Most of the time I'm very hard on myself, so I instinctively take criticism a little too personally, but I try to get over it pretty quickly.  Being upset about it is just a waste of my creative energy.  But if it's a valid point, I put the critical thought in the mix and see if I can do anything about it in future.  Sometimes criticism is just about personal style and the debate can get very polarized.  For instance, when the Ancient Woodland Shawl (picture is attached) was shipped out in a kit mailing for Year of Lace, there were 2 VERY different reactions.  Some people loved it and voiced their support, while others actually said they hated it enough to shred the pattern.  That was hard to deal with, but it just boiled down to it not being everyone's cup of tea. 

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I had been offering patterns for sale for about 6 or 7 years before I was making enough every month to pay the major bills.  But even now, I wouldn't be doing this full time if it weren't for my spouse and his work's health insurance.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Figure out your strengths, what you can offer, and get a clear vision of what you expect to get out of it.  Then make it happen.  If you're honest with yourself about what you want, what you think you can achieve and where you want to end up, then it's a pretty simple step by step of how to get there. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Evelyn Howard Scarf, The Big Conclusion where our Heroine Triumphs over Adversity

The final point is charted. I ended up rechecking and making slight improvements several times, as each time I knit a sample I found another way to improve the corner of the scarf making it more symmetrical with the first corner. I think I spent more time knitting, re-knitting and charting the last 6 rows than I did on almost the whole rest of the scarf.

It also turned out that moving the sawtooth edge alignment with the middle point of the scarf improves the way the edge looks after blocking. 

I've been wearing both of the scarves with their matching gloves that the yarns were chosen for throughout the holidays. I'm finding this size to be very versatile. They look great tucked into the front of my winter coat with the point down and very pretty with the point at the back on top of jackets and cardigans inside without being as warm as my larger shawls can be.

When we did the photo shoot we included both scarves so I've given the details of both yarns in the final pattern. The pattern is edited and will be up on Patternfish soon. I'll come back to this post and add a link once it's there.  

ETA the pattern is here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Business Courses - Social Media

I took another library business course a while ago. This one was given by one of the librarians instead of a paid professional and unfortunately it showed in the presentation. Our instructor clearly had no passion for her topic and no real experience of social media herself. 

However, I'm a big believer in that you can always learn something if you are paying attention. I did get some new information from the class. The first was that some professional Knitters do have profiles on Linkedin. I did find some people I know there so I have created a profile as well.

The second thing was confirmation of how many people out there really aren't hooked into the online world. Those of us who are tend to forget this. Some months ago a student didn't understand me when I referred her to my blog, I had to explain what a blog was. In the class I sat beside a business owner who had no idea how to use a computer.  I didn't get an opportunity to ask what sort of business he owned. The instructor also asked what social media sites people had joined and most of them were not members of any. 

I had already been thinking it's time to consider creating wholesale copies of pattern leaflets as well as PDF downloads but this class convinced me I need to get moving on that project sooner rather than later.