Country Strife

The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Ventures

So over 3 months have gone by since my last post...

I have been pleasantly surprised at how well my throw has done.

I have published 3 more patterns since:

Pinstriped Mitts - a fun pattern to use up sock yarn left overs.

Not so much fun taking the photos in a freezing March...









I eventually published my sweater Nuance in April, despite having finished the actual knitting in December,

Really happy with the cables for the waist shaping and the clean finish of the V-neck. I swatched about half a dozen different methods of splitting the cable to run parallel before I was satisfied with the finished look.


And most recently Chillin using the second skein of my beautiful Crystal yarn.

I have signed up to ICG crafts, a print on demand service, to allow some of my patterns to be sold wholesale on the request of my yarn support Hearthside Fibers. They would really like to have copies of the patterns I designed for them to take to shows.

This meant reformatting, which wasn't a problem for this pattern but was a little more challenging for my Maplewood shawl :)












I currently have a new cardigan that has been tech edited and is now being tested. Hopefully it will be published in late July/early August:







I have also ventured into submitting some designs to magazines.

Before I went down this route I did some research on the process.

Ensure you supply all the info asked for in the format it is wanted in. READ THE SPEC!
If responding to a specific mood board show how your design idea MEETS THE SPEC.
Sketch of the idea does not need you to have any real drawing skills as long as you can portray the idea clearly. (I think I have proved this with the less than complimentary reaction from hubby and my friend Penny - lol).
Photos of the swatch/prototype need to be as large and clear as you can make them.

Email it off and wait... and wait... And then the response arrives.

If it is "Yes" you bounce around excitedly and then fret waiting for the contract and any other details to arrive, and if "No" you can either scrap the idea, hold it back to see if it fits well with another call or decide to self publish at a later date. So far I am 50% bouncing although over a very small sample number.

And then you have to actually write the pattern(s) and make the sample(s).

On my first acceptance this was not as straightforward as self publishing. I needed to use a different yarn to my prototype as the yarn I had used was not readily available in the US. When I swatched with the agreed yarn I got a very different gauge...

And the hardest thing for me is not being able to post details and photos on Ravelry as I normally do with what I am working on...

You finally have everything done. Email off the pattern, charts etc and head off to the post office with your samples being handled as if they were as fragile as a newborn baby. And then find that the smallest box that they will fit in without scrunching them up is actually quite large, So you need something to fill it with... A trip over the road to Penny who luckily had some spare bubble wrap...

And then you nervously track the parcel. Why has it been sat in O'Hare airport for 5 days? It was quite a relief when it finally showed as delivered...

I haven't actually heard anything from the magazine... I have been told this is fairly normal. And as they have said yes to a second design I am assuming all is well.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Textured Landscape Throw

Several years ago in a burst of enthusiasm and an effort to use up a myriad of odd balls of aran weight yarn I embarked on making a throw, randomly picking stitch patterns that took my fancy from newly acquired stitch dictionaries.


I really love it for all its imperfections and the sheer joy I had knitting it. The wibbly wobbly sections. The odd bits of garter and stocking stitch to get the heights right for the next stitch pattern. The oh dear, I don't have enough to do matching borders so I will just knit with a colour until I get bored or it runs out...

And then people asked if there was a pattern for it. Er, no.

And this was before I had even contemplated designing patterns.

So I decided to make a 'proper' version... Approximately two months work from initial layout plan, choosing stitch patterns, ripping back back if they didn't work, designing transitions/tweaks if needed, designing a few of my own blocks, reworking blocks when I changed my mind on a colour, writing the pattern, getting it tech edited and finally published.

Pattern is now available on Ravelry here.




And don't say you want a pattern for the original version!


Monday, September 07, 2015

Don't Panic Mr Mainwaring

My sweater test is progressing well. Really pleased to have got 6 testers - all sizes except XXL are covered, as are both pocket options.

My shawl test for Petalous has a week to go, four out of five testers finished in super quick time.


and I completed my shawl with my yarn support yarn:


The pattern has been written up as much as possible but I am still awaiting the return of my 'proper' laptop from having the keyboard replaced (luckily still under warranty) which has my charting software. Still not quite sure how chartable this is...

Whizzed through a mohair wrap to use up some of my stash mohair mountain. A little depressing to not really notice a difference in how much I have left considering it measures 65 x 18". I have written the pattern up but not sure whether or not to publish it...


And I'm still waiting for my laptop although apparently it is 'ready for dispatch'. So I have started on a new version of one of my cabled sweaters from a couple of years ago...

And honed my 'drop down and re-knit' skills when I noticed a mis-crossed cable in the centre panel of the back 33 rounds down :(



I have to say I am quite impressed with myself for a) not throwing it into the naughty corner b) not ripping it right back c) having confidence that I could do it
I did, however, swear a bit...

To fix:
1) Don't panic
2) Place stitches either side of the panel on the cable of spare circular needles
3) Unravel the panel 1 row at a time down to the row in disgrace, keeping the strands as separate and in order as possible
4) place errant row on straight needle and undo a stitch at a time until the naughty cable is undone
5) knit back up using the correct strand for each row

I used straight needles up until the last 3 or so stitches where I swapped to using a crochet hook as the remaining 'strand' of yarn was too short to easily manipulate. For the rows where those stitches were purls it was easier to turn the sweater around to 'knit' them on the wrong side. I evened out the tension if either end of the row was loose by manually pulling up the slack and working my way stitch my stitch across the row until I had no more slack. Transfer the stitches back to the other straight needle which also helps to even the tension and repeat.

It took a few hours but saved many more...




Sunday, August 16, 2015

That Touch of Pink

I have made myself a lot of sweaters. And I mean a lot. If you look on my Ravelry projects page I have 30 sweaters/cardigans/jackets. A handful were added retrospectively, but the majority were from April 2011 onwards... And I had been knitting sweaters for many years prior to that...

Eleven of those sweaters were my own designs, mainly to use up oddments of stash.

And now my twelfth Ravelry sweater design, That Touch of Pink (yes - I am a Cary Grant fan), may make it out into the wider knitting community.

I actually knew what I wanted the bottom 'third' of the sweater to look like, therefore the sweater would be designed bottom up. Once I had completed that section I knew that I wanted it to be plain to the armholes, seamless and set-in sleeves therefore the body was knit in the round up to the armholes. I also don't have a waist that I want to highlight... Next decision was neckline. Not a V-neck and not a crew neck and not too low either... and just a touch more contrast colour. Top-down sleeves to match the contrast colour stripes on the bottom of the sweater and cuffs to match the neckband.
I was not happy with the first sleeve I made - it was very messy/gappy around the armhole due to the much lower ratio of stitches to rows being picked up. I came up with a much neater solution for the second sleeve which also solved the issues I have with getting wrap and turn to look good. It was well worth the effort of then ripping out the first one and re-knitting it...

Okay, I now have a sweater that I love but that was the easy-ish part...



1. Grading. And this means spreadsheets. And I went to town on this. Starting with the basic desired widths/lengths for body/armholes/neck/shoulders/upper arm/wrist/sleeve for 5 sizes. Every section broken down into subsections for row counts, stitch counts, decreases, pick-up stitches, stripes start, stripes end, short rows with cross-checks.

2. Yarn yardage estimates. Having read a few forum threads on this topic I decided that I wasn't going to use the suggested method of estimating sweater area against the yardage from a 6 x 6" swatch. I had an actual sweater with known yardage of both colours. I had a detailed spreadsheet so I could calculate actual stitch counts pretty accurately for every section of the sweater/size and also for just the contrast colour and use the ratios of stitches for the other sizes against my yardages. My only concern is how much contingency to add...

3. Schematic. Yes, every good sweater pattern should have one... I watched a video on creating one in Microsoft something or other. We use LibreOffice which has a Draw app. Took me a few hours before I finally got the hang of it and a couple of shout outs to Paul when it wasn't doing what I wanted. Changed a couple of settings and all was fine once I was organised enough to actually write down the key measurements on a piece of paper. I am actually quite chuffed with how it looks.

4. Tech editing. However thorough I think I have been there is always the chance I have made a blunder somewhere... Sent the pattern to be scrutinized and am awaiting news...

5. Testing. Once I get it back and any corrections have been done I will open a test. I already have 3 volunteers without putting out a call :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not Even a Fish

Yarn support for my knitwear designs was something I had never contemplated.

Why would anyone want to give me yarn? I am relatively new to designing - not one of the big names, not a big fish in a small pond. In the infamous words of Claude Littner on the Apprentice I am not even a fish...

So when I received a message out of the blue from Lael and Larry from Hearthside Fibers saying they loved my designs and were interested in offering yarn support I was in shock. We exchanged emails over the next couple of days, and the bottom line is that this arrived in the post today...



along with some small tester samples of their other yarns.

I am currently working on my first sweater design that I am hoping to publish. I have made many sweaters for myself in the past but they only had to (sort of) fit me! It's a whole different ball park having to write it up properly and grade it for other sizes.

This is where I have got to so far... Maybe I could leave it like this for the distressed look...

Maybe not.

Once I have finished this I will turn my attention to the above two skeins :)



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Knitwear Designs in Action


I have a lot of very similar photos for my designs, trying to get one or two that I am happy with to use for my patterns.

And while Paul was getting my new travel laptop/notebook hybrid loaded with all that I need and a gazillion Windows updates Google Photos decided to play and made some animations with them...





I think Geoidh may have been more successful if I could have used this on the pattern page...

                               Bellatrix - 1, 2, 3, 4 and strike a pose.





But there are downsides. My chicken impersonation...






And finally... I love the way it appears to shrug its shoulders.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Pick Your Own 2015

I discovered last year that one of my blackcurrant bushes was actually a redcurrant bush. However, I never got to pick any redcurrants as when I went out to do so I found the birds had beaten me to it.

A year on and the bush has matured, and there is enough fruit for all.

I should be able to make it up to a pound over the next couple of days - 10 grammes shy.

However, to get to the redcurrants at the back I first had to pick the blackcurrants that were blocking my route.

I thought they were prolific last year, but compared to this year they were positively sparse!







Over a kilo picked just from the branches that were in the way and overhanging the lawn. I would guess I have only picked about 20%...

I have also pulled out a sack load of the tall weeds that were growing through the bush hiding the cornucopia.

And now I can see the apples growing around the edge of the wall and needing summer pruning...

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