Monday, October 20, 2014

Custom Fit - If you think you can, you’re right!

 
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-emily-brent-cardigan


I recently taught my Cardigan Queen class. It's an all day class. We usually spend the first half on technical skills, mainly bands and buttonholes since both are critical for cardigans. That half always goes well. The students are being challenged with new skills and embrace the learning enthusiastically. I recommend this class for knitters who already have basic knitting skills and those who are ready to advance.

I spend the second half working on custom fit techniques. Many students take the class specifically for that knowledge. It's always a challenging part of the class because every student requires different adjustments. Some students jump right in and take the information provided to make plans to deal with their specific figure challenges. Others have a deep fear of going off pattern. As a teacher it's very interesting to watch who is successful and who isn't. It's not dependent on actual skills or even intellect. I know immediately which students will go off pattern on their next garment. I know because they say it, not always directly but with their attitude and body language. If they start holding their hands above the table and their suppiles in a "hands off" gesture I know they aren't ready to go off pattern yet. Sometimes I see the "tell" while they are saying yes I've answered all of their questions. Fortunately, I rarely see this problem. Most knitters take classes and recognize even when they are not yet ready to add a new skill they will be soon. If you are struggling with adding in new skills and concepts please remember: It’s all about mind set. If you think you can, you’re right, if you think you can’t, you’re right!


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-sheila-reilly-cardigan

Friday, October 17, 2014

An Interview with...Denise Twum


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/melodys-stole

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

Denise told me she was introduced to knitting by her supervisor while working at her college’s science library in 2006. Knitting kept her company as she traveled to five countries for a year of independent research, and she’s been addicted ever since. You will most likely find her watching a lengthy Bollywood movie or Korean drama while knitting. She's been published in Interweave Knits, Knitscene Accessories, Tangled online magazine, and in a pattern collection booklet exclusive to Joann's stores.

You can find Denise here and here on Ravelry. 


Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by a lot of different things. Sometimes it’s the colors of the yarn I have in my stash, or the color combination of an outfit I see someone wearing. In the spring I’m always looking at flowers to check out the different color combinations that pop up, and see if I can replicate that in a pattern. I love texture, so anything that has a textural design that could potentially be knit inspires me.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
At the moment, it’s knitting a two-color fisherman rib stitch. I just read about it in the most recent Interweave Knits magazine, and I just had to try it out. I already have a free infinity scarf pattern that uses fisherman rib, so I’ve been making that same pattern but with the two colors, and I love it. In general, I love cabling, garter stitch, knitting in the round, and I think the Kitchener Stitch is the best invention ever!

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I definitely look at other designers’ work all the time. I’m always blown away by how creative some designers are, and how they are able to churn out so many refreshing patterns. I started designing by taking a very popular pattern by Cheryl Niamath, “Wisp” and seeing if I could replicate the look of her design using slightly different stitches. That gave me the confidence to actually start coming up with my own ideas for patterns. I’m only afraid that I’ll be influenced by other designs if I’m submitting a design for publication. During that process, I try my best not to look at other designs for inspiration. Otherwise, I’m always checking out other knitting designs.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I actually didn’t know there was a controversy, so I had to do a quick Google search in order to answer this properly. I think knitting and a lot of other handicrafts were not mainstream for a while, unlike in the days when those skills were passed down in families. As such, those of us who are now picking up the craft may need more hand holding than expected. I come from a country with a very hot climate all year round, so knitting was not even an option until I moved to the US. People like me need more explanations because we don’t have the background already. I’m not sure it’s a dumbing down per se, and I can see how it might frustrate designers who have been in the field longer. That said, there are so many resources out there for anyone who wants to learn how to knit that, designers should not feel the need to explain every single detail. I’m a big fan of linking to a helpful online resource or post which often does a better job of explaining techniques than I could eg. Woolly Wormhead’s tutorials on 1X1 and 2x1 cable cast ons.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I don’t have a formal sample/test knitter program in place, but there are two people I’ve worked with and floated the idea by. I haven’t been designing as much recently, so I haven’t had much work to give them. Once I do, I’ll probably start with those two.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-blockture-set
Did you do a formal business plan?
I didn’t. I probably should…

Do you have a mentor?
Not formally, but I do reach out to designers I admire via email, Facebook and on Ravelry, such as Donna Druchanas and Joji Locatelli (to name a few).

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
No not really.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The internet has been fundamental to my business, as it’s enabled me to quickly start up an online shop, submit designs, conduct research, email publishers, editors and collaborators, and also improve my knitting and business skills through online classes. It’s been amazing.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes I do, before I publish a pattern for sale. I don’t when publishing free patterns.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Knitting IS how I maintain my life/work balance. :) I get such calm, peace and focus from working on a knitting project, or building out a part of my business.

How do you deal with criticism?
It can be really hard to accept the criticism, especially when you feel you’ve poured yourself into a pattern. I let it marinate for a while, and try to find out what I can take from it, especially if it’s constructive. Other times, I just let it go and keep working on other designs, because letting that negativity get to me could be detrimental to my creative process.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I’m still working on that. :)

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Take the plunge, but make sure you have a plan and a back-up plan. Reach out to people you admire already in the business. They are often more than happy to help with advice and tips. You won’t know what you can do until you actually take that first step.
.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Custom Fitting - Why it's Important

Mary Pat and I at YarnOver Sleepover

In a recent post that included some pictures of me in my customized sweater I said: "The sweater I'm wearing was customized to fit me. If you look at the schematic from my drafting program you will notice I don't have much of a waistline. I have very short arms. My armhole depth is shorter than the average. Did you notice any of those things before I pointed them out? Probably not and other people won't notice how you differ either."

In the photo above I'm wearing Rose Sheldon.  This sweater was also customized to my unique measurements. The one critical concept I want to make clear is that when you customize fit the differences from the average are hidden. By not wearing a too long sleeve I do not draw attention to my short arms. By knitting a larger front than back I avoid any straining of the fabric and I keep my side seams sitting in the correct position on my body. Shortening the armhole depth eliminates unflattering bulk in that area. Using a deeper rib that ends higher on my torso creates the illusion of a waistline. So where do you differ from the pattern and what should you change on the next sweater you knit?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/teeves-turkey
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/turkey-feather-hat


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tipsy-turkey

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/thanksgiving-softies---turkey-pumpkins-acorns-leaves

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/turkey-in-pilgrim-hat


It's Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We celebrate a little earlier than our American friends to the south. We are busy eating turkey, stuffing and all the extra's today. I've never knit a turkey but here's some inspiration if you want to. There are 62 possibilities in Ravelry, 211 if you add in the crochet versions.

Friday, October 10, 2014

An Interview with...Suvi Simola

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/reflected-lines

 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 Suvi  here on Ravelry.


Where do you find inspiration?
It's a difficult question because there's inspiration everywhere! It may be a fashion magazine, Pinterest, something seen on the streets etc. The only thing that I can say for sure is that for some reason, I don't get inspiration from nature, I look at nature completely from photographers viewpoint and seldom think about knitting at the same time. 

And one more thing I've learned - you can't force yourself to get inspired. You have to take it easy, keep your eyes and mind open and let ideas to find you, otherwise you'd only get stressed out. 

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love knitting Stockinette stitch in the round. It's soothing and it's beautiful in its simplicity. Garter stitch is great for the same reason.

How did you determine your size range?
For fitted garments, I usually go with 10 sizes, 2" apart. I feel that 10 sizes is easier to manage when checking the pattern, grading etc. than for example 12 sizes. For over-sized garments, it's usually 5-6 sizes.
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/outlined

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Yes, of course. It's nice to know what others are doing and when I get an idea, I usually check that there isn't something very similar on the market. I have my own style so I'm not afraid of getting influenced by others designs though.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I like to go with the principle "as much as necessary, as little as possible". It's a good thing to make the patterns as detailed as possible so even the beginners can knit from them but there's a point where adding more and more notes and suggestions, turns a pattern from being easy and helpful, into complicated.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I make all the samples myself because I feel I have to knit the garment by myself to be able to write the pattern but as always, there's an exception to this rule. I've once written a pattern for a baby blanket that my friend knitted. I knit only a ¼ of the blanket to be able to write the pattern but the photographed sample was made by her. It was a nice project working together.I have wonderful test knitters, usually 3-10 for a project, depending on sizing and how complicated the pattern is. 
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/crayons-5
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
Internet is a necessity for my business. Couldn't be able to work without. 

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

It was hard at the beginning but now I think I've established a good routine that keeps things in balance. At some point I realized that I have to draw a line somewhere so now I don't check my work emails late at night and usually don't work at all on weekends. Things are much better now.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fold-and-turn

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I started this career in 2008 but for many years I was doing it only part-time. I'm now doing it full-time and it certainly has had an impact.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
If that's what you really love to do then go ahead! It's not an easy job and every pattern requires a lot of work and attention but it can be your dream job if you want to.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/merike

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beauty is Bought by Judgement of the Eye

"Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye" Shakespeare


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-barbara-franklin-cardigan



Knitters struggle with body image in the same way that virtually all women in our culture do. When I work with them on custom fit projects I find myself feeling sad that they can't be kinder to themselves. They use derogatory descriptive terms about themselves and argue against fitting suggestions because they are trying to hide the parts of their bodies that they hate.

Whether a garment flatters or not is in the eye of the observer. No one can tell you what exact hem length, or neckline shape is most flattering for your body. That’s your choice, however if you don't make peace with your body you won't be able to figure it out either. 

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-barbara-franklin-cardigan


Here are my rules:
  • Ignore sizes and measurements.
  • Assess proportions and shapes unemotionally.
  • Accept that clothing can make those shapes look different.
  • Find something you do like about yourself.
  • Stop comparing yourself to other women.  



The sweater I'm wearing was customized to fit me. If you look at the schematic from my drafting program you will notice I don't have much of a waistline. I have very short arms. My armhole depth is shorter than the average. Did you notice any of those things before I pointed them out? Probably not and other people won't notice how you differ either.

Knitting garments that make you look and feel wonderful is all about accepting the shape you have, and then selecting patterns and custom fitting them to your body.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Years Ago.......


Two years ago I started a blog series based on one of my classes, The Fudge Factor. I've done this class as a lecture (not as hands on, but the information is the same). It's math intensive and tends to be of interest to more experienced knitters. I'm linking back to those posts today because I so often see questions related to the topics addressed in the posts in Ravelry forums.These posts speak to the situation when a knitter wants to use a pattern and work in a gauge different to the one the pattern was written for. You may want to read them more than once. The math scares knitters off, but be persistent, the information could change your whole approach to knitting.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3