Archive for the ‘designing’ Category

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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all winter long, my friends out west have been crowing about the fine weather they are having; temperatures in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s, clear skies, and a complete lack of snow.

until, of course, it was time for me to head to denver—then it snowed.

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i booked a flight for a day early, just in case winter weather encroached on my travel—a production schedule waits for  no storms or planes. since the weather was clear by then, i ended up with a whole day to get some work done and explore the city.

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i headed out first thing for a morning run; i have been much too cooped up inside at home. it was wonderful to run alongside the river as the sun got warmer and warmer.

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before i knew it, i was actually out near TAXI, the studios where craftsy shoots our classes; traveling by car on previous trips, i had no idea it was within running distance.

is that blue sky amazing or what?

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even with the altitude change, i felt really good, though my pace was a little slow. all fine with me, hehe. afterward i did a little work for a few hours, so i could take off in the late afternoon.

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my friends luci and scott drove down from ft. collins to visit and took me out to the arsenal nature preserve, a wildlife area just outside the city.

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we spent a couple of hours wandering paths and roadways through the preserve, watching for wildlife and appreciating the stunning spaces just a stone’s throw from the heart of denver.

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the first thing we saw when we drove in actually was this herd of bison, just off the side of the road; they were actually a lot closer than they look. my first thought was, “i wonder if anyone collects their fiber??” once yarn ho yarnie, always a yarn ho yarnie.

deer, prairie dogs, and bunnies abounded; we also saw a few cool looking hawks.

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mostly it was just wonderful to hold my face to the sun and feel the balmy air (50 degrees!!); feels like it’s been years since i did that! eventually though, the air did begin to chill as the sun sank toward the mountain tops and we reluctantly headed back to the car. we spent the rest of the evening over a really nice dinner at work & class; the perfect end to a fine and refreshing one-day vacation.

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this morning it was back to reality, as i had my first day of production for my next craftsy class. up at the crack of dawn and to the gym (too dark at that hour to run outdoors, though the weather was still warm enough).

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knowing it might be a long day though, i did manage after breakfast to take photos of my current knitting projects in the morning sunshine. on the plane i started the back of my natty sweater, which i am knitting in our better breakfast DK in the muesli shade (oops, looks like we are out at the moment, but we should be getting more soon).

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i left my two finished sleeves at home; they need to be blocked, but you can see how strongly the texture stands out, even in such a soft fabric. i think the overall effect is going to be cute.

i will admit that by the time i got on the plane, i was so wound up that i suffered a bit from both project ADD and eventually, sleepiness from lack of rest over the previous few days. even though i had a nice chunk of knitting time ahead, i didn’t get a whole lot done on any one thing.

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i did manage to begin a sleeve with that gorgeous tayet fingering yarn from spirit trail that i gave you a peek of last week. this midnight blue is so up my alley and a color i don’t have in my sweater wardrobe yet. i think you’ll be happy when you see the design i’m  knitting with it.

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i’m kind of crawling along on my reversible little shawl, but i’m allowing myself t take my time—right now i’m much more focused on producing some sweaters patterns while the weather is cold enough to really enjoy knitting them. there will be plenty of time for lacy bits in a couple of months. that said, i do plan to add a row or two whenever the urge hits; the yarn is so soft and delicious, sometimes i just want to feel it run though my fingers for a little while.

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soon after organizing all my photos for this post, it was time to head into the studio for the afternoon. this will be my home for the next couple of days as we put together a class about sweater making essentials. this one will be full of advice, tips and tricks, and useful techniques for making a successful sweater.

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the day started out well, we were on a roll and getting everything up and running for a full afternoon of shooting. but right after lunch, what should appear?

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i am NOT kidding. it’s following me everywhere i go. i mean, talk about luck, right??

and it didn’t get any better as the day progressed either—by 4 pm we were all sent home; hopefully this won’t put us behind much tomorrow.

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it took almost an hour to get back to my hotel (remember, it’s within running distance) and i was really glad to get into warm, dry comfy pants to settle in for the evening.

i plan to knit on my sweater some more while watching the premier of kosher soul, starring the children of our dear friend nancy. it looks like a lot of fun—you should watch!

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back home, david is working hard on the start for his blanket statement club knit—he’s knitting the love squared version. someone has created a thread in our BNK ravelry group devoted to his progress and all of us are following and cheering him on. me most of all—david doesn’t share much with me about his knitting; i have to read about it online!

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barb—a stripper with a plan—is sailing along on hers as well; she makes sure david keeps working away on his.

well, speaking of knitting, i think i’m ready for some myself—time to get comfortable and get my needles out. i’ll be back as soon as i can with more; it will be a busy few days, but i’ll be back as soon as i get a chance.

Designer Spotlight: Thea Colman

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

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Let’s warm things up a bit, shall we?  Come in.  Sit down.  I’ve got Jazz standards playing in the background.  My knitting is within arms reach.

(I hope you brought yours too.)

And of course, my cup o’ coffee is even closer and it’s getting down to the last drop…

Can I offer you something to drink?

Perhaps a spicy Bloody Mary?  I have Champagne, it’s dry and light.  Perfect for a Mimosa if you care for one of those instead.

Maybe I should ask Thea Colman what she suggests… After all, she’s BabyCocktails.

If you follow Thea on instagram (@theacolman) you’ll know that about a week ago she treated herself to this heavenly concoction.  A hot toddy of sorts made with cardamom clove syrup, bourbon and cider.  Mmmm… it sounds comforting and smooth.  (The way I like my Jazz, by the way.)

I first discovered Thea back in 2012 when she exploded onto the scene with none other than Vodka Lemonade.  (Seriously, I’m not talking about a beverage this time…) I’m talking about this:

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At the time, I was working as a sales associate at a yarn shop and all of our Wednesday ladies were oohing and ahhing over the versatility of this Spring cardigan.  Thea knows her market well.  She offers this sweater in sizes that range from 32-52.  Just the other day Anne and I were discussing sweater fit and size.  Not many knitwear designers know how, or rather, don’t really care to offer a sweater design that provides reasonable sizing for the female figure.  Just offering S, M, and L doesn’t cut it.  I’ll even go so far as to quote Ellen Lewis and say “It’s lame.”

Another old adage I like to live by comes to mind… “Do your work with mastery.”  Even mere muggles know that knitters spend hours upon hours creating.  Designers do too, even more so.  But the great knitters and the great designers all have that one thing in common; they do their work with mastery.  They don’t stop until the dream turns real.  They tweak, they muddle, they step away, they come back with new eyes, and somehow they have a finished product that provides us with a certain story.

That story is inspiration that was given life!  It’s been released and now it’s tangible.  I can see it.  You can feel it.  It’s not an idea in someone’s mind – now it’s music you can hear, it’s art you can see, it’s a knitted garment that you can wear!

And for any person who gets excited by the idea of creating and being creative – Designers can create an energy that we easily get drunk on. (Well, I’ll speak for myself.)  At any rate,  as a knitwear designer, you’re inspiring others to create your vision.  It’s a talent that few execute efficiently.  But when they do – I find myself saying “I gotta have a piece of that.”    And that’s EXACTLY what happened when Thea finished this beauty:

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I mean for crying out loud… Every time I look at this, I imagine it’s the same way a scotch drinking man looks at a slinky lounge singer.  (Blame it on the 1920′s Boardwalk Empire Jazz that’s still on da repeat over here.)  I’m coveting it so badly.  I can’t stop.  I’m practically drooling in my coffee.  I want.  I need.  I must have.  It’s my one desire.  A knitwear designer hasn’t made me feel this alive in quite a while.

I got so excited that I didn’t even introduce the two of you properly…  Knitters of the Knitting Universe … Get ready for World Domination.  (Are your sticks at the ready?)  This is Ommegang by Thea Colman and it’s the bee’s knees.

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To me what sets this garment apart from all of the knitting patterns out there right now is this:  It’s classic.  It’s not going anywhere.  It’s a garment that will stay in your closet forever.  It’s modern, inviting, and oh-so-cozy.  (I think a lot of the coziness specifically has to do with the yarn choice.)  Allow me to wax poetically about Bare Naked Wools, because the stitch definition achieved by Thea’s use of BNW Stone Soup DK (shown in Marble) is also what I think makes this a show-stoppah.

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The garment is detailed.  The cables need you attention.  And there’s nothing I like better than sitting by myself, cup o’coffee, Saturday morning, slow jazz, and a fantastic cable knitting project.  Mmmmm… pretty satisfying if you ask me.

On top of that…  This can easily be dressed down or dressed up.  I LOVE my tights.  Ask the girls at Knitspot – all you ever see me in are my tights.  Make this into a tunic length, and sport some tights with some sexy high heels.  You have yourself a killah outfit.  If you want to wear the boyfriend jeans, it’s gonna go great with those.  And um… if you just want to wear it without pants…  I’m not gonna disapprove.  You’re going to look mahvelous dahling.  Just stay inside for that.  I don’t want you to catch a cold because I conjured up a crazy idea…  Just sayin’.

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Sarah – Sarimor on Ravelry created this beautiful Ommegang using Thea’s larger cowl neck option and I LOVE the results!

Thea – Lady friend… you outdid yourself.  I wish you so much success with this pattern and I look forward to everything you’re going to create in the future!  I speak on behalf of the entire Knitspot team when I say it has been an absolute pleasure collaborating with you on this design.  You created something truly special.  Dare I say, it’s The Cat’s Meow.

Happy Knitting, guys!

L

sweetheart of a weekend

Monday, February 16th, 2015

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in the midst of a polar blast which blew in a ton of snow and the coldest days of the winter so far, a little warm glow sparked and grew at knitspot HQ on valentine’s day.

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to start the day,  leslie, olga, and angie drove up soon after we opened, determined to make the most of their weekend get-together despite the storm. we spent a delightful hour or more chatting and drooling over yarn—i might have sold them some yet-to-be-counted-and-labeled stuff from out of the back room (sorry anastasia). and someone might have got back in the car with the brand new cabécou laceweight (it’ll be listed soon, we promise!) for a pine and ivy, or couple of stone soup fingering skeins in river rock for  a wheaten wrap, or better breakfast fingering in three shades for a sheltie triangle. and maybe just a little more BBF for a couple of wheaten cap and mitt projects were purchased too, but i’m not telling . . .

with all that knitting in their plans, i wanted to jump in that car and tag along—i hope they are having an absolute blast with the rest of their weekend.

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just as they were getting ready to go, beckie arrived with her spinning wheel to show the kids how it’s done.

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of course they just loved that.

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the weather kept a lot of families at home yesterday after all, but the ones who braved the snow and cold to come over had us all to themselves and a good afternoon was enjoyed by all

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some of them even did some knitting!

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this little guy wasn’t really ready for sitting still with sticks and string, but sheyanne entranced him nevertheless with her camera—now that was fascinating.

we also got some parents to give it a try and i think that was a lot of fun for them. or something a little different anyway.

we really appreciated everyone who came in and hope that they’ll join us again some time.

when the afternoon was over, i scurried back home to get into warm clothes and put a pot of soup on the stove—potato—and i’m glad i did; it was cold last night.

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after supper, i finished up work on the first blanket club chapter that will go out on tuesday.

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i am so looking forward to seeing how everyone will put together their shades and pieces; i just know there will be a huge variety and some wonderful surprises, both form those with yarn memberships and those who joined up for the pattern only (eBook) option.

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the BS ravelry threads are heating up and i hear there is a contest afoot—and you know that contests mean prizes.

alright then, now that my chapter is put to bed (or it will be after one last look-see from anne marie), i can get back to my knitting in earnest.

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i started my natty sweater in the better breakfast DK option (in muesli, which gets its taupey color from rose gray alpaca). even though i had knit a ton of swatches, i was still really, really not sure what needle size i should go with. i wanted this sweater to drape nicely most of all, but i also wanted good stitch definition and that can result in the two being at odds when it comes to needle size.

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so i began, as i recommend in my classes, with a sleeve swatch (top) on size 3.75 mm needles. i was sure this was going to be right, but after getting a few inches in, i felt like it was too dense. this fabric will become more liquid after a soak and wash, it’s true, but it still didn’t feel right to me.

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so i put that one on a holder (top) and started afresh on size 4.0 mm needles (bottom).

amazing—it feels exactly right now. i just know it. even if it does become more fluid after a wash, i’m comfortable with whatever will happen. i’m keeping the first swatch because although i won’t use it for this sweater, i happen to need one for the craftsy class i’m preparing to teach—nothing lost at all. in fact, it illustrates points i need to cover in several lessons so it’s a great investment.

when something is right, it’s just right—and it’s amazing how the whole project takes off once you figure that out. my sleeve is almost to the underarm now and i believe i’ll finish that tonight.

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meanwhile, i swatched the pattern in a new polwarth DK yarn from briar rose fibers called joyful—when chris asked what color i wanted to work with, i suddenly felt a need for some orange in my wardrobe (hmm, i wonder why??) and in just a couple of days, here it was on my doorstep. a juicy valentine indeed, hehe.

one of them will be a cardigan and one a pullover—but i can’t decide which. i’m leaning toward the orange for the cardigan and the natural for the pullover, but i don’t have to decide just yet. i can knit the sleeves and backs and then decide when i get to the fronts. barb will help me . . .

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i finally got my little reversible crescent shawl cast on too—poor thing got set aside in the excitement of finishing up my cam cable pullover. i know it’s not very far along at the moment, but i feel as if, with the cast on accomplished, i could pick it up at any time to knit a bit. for this week, it will be my kitchen project to work on over morning coffee—an actual better breakfast at daybreak, haha (snort, i’m such a doofus). i’ll also pack it in my bag for my trip west next week.

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i knew you all would seize on this little group of swatches, haha. honestly though, while the yarn is right, i’m not actually going to work with this color.

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this is the real color, which i personally like a whole lot more (i like red, but not so much for my clothes). i think this skein has enough for the little sweater i’m planning with it, but to be safe—and because i have the spare skein of that red—i’m not using any of the blue for swatching.

i won’t say much more about this just now—since the yarn is a new offering and not yet available for purchase, we’ll save the evolution of this project for a little later. i will say that the tayet yarn is simply divine and i can’t way to delve deeper into that delicious blue bundle.

after all, i’ve actually got plenty going on right now—preparations for a class, a few new sweater patterns in various stages of production, and a couple of garments on the needles (plus a little shawl for good measure). i mean, that’s enough for the moment right?

i knew you’d agree—time to go knit now. have a wonderful presidents day.

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black, white, and re(a)d all over

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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happy valentine’s day!

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it is snowing to beat the band here; i hope our kids valentine’s day event isn’t snowed out. we will be here no matter what since it’s just next door, but i hope we have some visitors show up, too—we have cupcakes, if that makes a difference . . . and beckie will be here with her spinning wheel.

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bret’s house is festooned with valentines that announce to the world how much we and our neighbors love each other. at night it’s lit up with sparkling lights all over and trails of twinkling lights across the yard—i’ll have to add a photo later on, since i forgot to get one last night (and i was staring right at it for hours, too, from my perch at my desk).

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i was hoping bret might stop in to our event today—he’s really a big kid at heart after all—but it looks like the storm may have got the better of him . . .

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if you end up stuck at home due to the snow and cold (i hear it’s going to get REALLY cold tonight!), david has put together a sweet deal for today only on our 2015 BNK blanket statement club—a little discount from us to you.

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haha, in fact, batches of these boxes are stacked all over the house, since we had to clear out the shop for today’s social event. i understand david is even storing as many as can fit in the car overnight (locked safely in the garage). he’s carting those to the post office throughout this morning. no worries if you’re just signing up today; packages will begin going out again on monday.

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i’ve got my first blanket eBook chapter all written up and am putting all the pieces together into the layout over this weekend. in fact, most of the eBook is set to go; anne marie and i have been working hard for several months on spiffing up the pattern to be as flexible and fun to knit as possible. sheyanne, david, and our whole staff have been photographing and editing materials to make each chapter a beautiful work of art. our whole staff and friends have needles needles poised to start—let the blankets begin.

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now, how about some knitting for this snowy valentine’s afternoon? what are you working on this weekend?

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i’ve got a sweater underway and i started my reversible crescent shawl, plus i’m swatching again—i just can’t seem to stop, hehe. what can i say, there’s no rest for the wicked . . .

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