Fulfillment: Holiday Pattern for Knit Picks

I received the yarn from Knit Picks for the holiday thingamabob* they want me to design for them. It’s their 100% acrylic Brava Worsted, and I needed three different colors—white, black, and orange. The white has a subtle iridescent sheen to it and the black is dark, dark, dark, both of them very soft. The orange is kind of strange, though. Rather crispy and squeaky. (Knitters know what I mean, but you non-knitters can imagine the yarn equivalent of a Cheeto.)

Not for the obvious holiday.

I’m a knit-with-wool-or-go-home kind of girl, but this item will be used in such a way that wool is not a good idea†.

I knit the main part of it, then let it sit for a few days while I avoided embroidering certain details that would bring the whole thing to life. My embroidery is about as accomplished as my hand-drawn pictures, which is to say, they belong on a half-blind grandma’s refrigerator. But the deadline‡ for the final pattern was coming up, so I had to do the best I could.

Knit Picks is going to send my pattern to one of their test knitters to work up the sample they’ll use on their website, which is the only reason I submitted something that requires embroidery.

I photographed the embroidered parts, then emailed everything to Knit Picks (a day early, thank you), emphasizing that the photo was only a guide.

The gal who manages the pattern submissions wrote back “he looks great!” I’m pretty sure she’s not a half-blind grandma, so she must be kind-hearted. I wish I had a sister like her.

Anyway, I’m glad that’s over with.

Knit Picks plans to offer these patterns free of charge on their website, and will be releasing them a few at a time starting in September (I think). You’ll hear about it here first.

*The reason I’m referring to this as a thingamabob is because of a television show called Haven. It’s a low-budget, poorly edited, cheesy, lightly sci-fi drama produced by the SyFy Channel that I should despise, but I love (for the first three seasons, anyway). In the As You Were episode in season 1, a lot of main and supporting characters are stranded in a mansion on an island during a thunderstorm (Velveeta, right?), and one of them has been taken over by a “chameleon” that’s offing them one by one, but they don’t know which one because they all look and act like themselves. At one point, all of the characters are in a room sizing each other up, and one says of the main character, Audrey, who had proposed a way to catch this thing, “How do we know she’s not the thingamabob?” Audrey states emphatically, “I am NOT the thingamabob!” That struck me as especially funny during that tense scene, and I started using the word all the time. Now I finally get to use it on my blog.

†Probably the only time I will ever use the phrase, “wool is not a good idea.”

‡A hard deadline is the only reason this master procrastinator gets anything done. That, and my Butt-in-Chair partner, Melinda, which is the subject of another post I’ve been meaning to write.

To Ponder: Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions. |Frank Lloyd Wright|

Submission: Tee to Knitscene

After Knit Picks rejected the Padre Island Tee I submitted for their Spring 2015 Collection, I revisited my idea to see what else I could do with it.

Sometimes, when I submit only an idea, if I haven’t invested more than a few hours and a little yarn for the swatch, and I’m not crazy about the idea in the first place (which can happen when you’re waltzing to someone else’s fiddle), I’ll let it go. I can’t sleep sometimes for all the design ideas demanding attention, so I don’t feel compelled to see every idea through to the end.

I liked a lot of things about the tee I proposed to Knit Picks—the alternating bands of ribbing and a rather unusual lace, the easy shape, the knit-in-one-piece construction— but I was working within their guidelines and according to their mood board.

Now, without the constraints of “shapeless” and “striped,” I was free to take the idea under my wing and grow it into something new, something more me.

My new version is a solid-colored top that uses the sport weight yarn I reclaimed from another project. And lest you think I magically got better at estimating yarn requirements, here’s how much I had left over:

More like I got lucky.

Around this time, Knitscene put out a call for submissions for their Summer 2015 issue that includes a “geometric” story. From the call:

Bust out your protractor and get angular. Work zig zags, triangles, squares, even rhomboids into the fabric using lace, texture, or colors. Eye-catching but not overbearing.

It just so happens that the lace bands have eye-catching but humble triangle-shaped openwork, so I decided to submit the tee. It doesn’t quite mesh with their mood board, which has a lot of colorwork samples (which I don’t understand for summer garments—colorwork a) is hot because of the double layer of yarn and b) needs the stickiness of wool to look good) but their call does say lace and there is one lace sample.

Plus, as often as not, the final selections that are published in the magazine look loosely like the suggestions on the mood board, so I have a chance.

There wasn’t enough burgundy Knit Picks Shine Sport left over to knit a proper swatch, so I used some blue Knit Picks CotLin DK (from the Adelante tank top). I’m not worried that this isn’t the best yarn for this top (it’s heavy and looks less than beautiful after laundering) because Knitscene will tell me which yarn they want me to use.

I knit a mini-tee, showing the unique construction, and it’s so stinkin’ cute I can’t hardly stand it.

Let’s hope Knitscene feels the same way.

To Ponder: Integrity has no need of rules. |Albert Camus|

Fulfillment: Fingerless Mitts for Knit Picks

After submission and acceptance comes contract fulfillment. Well, actually, free yarn comes after that, and then fulfillment.

I signed and returned the contract for the fingerless mitts, and a week or so later, Knit Picks sent me the Galileo yarn I proposed. The yarn is a 50/50 blend of merino wool and bamboo, but I had never worked with it before, so I wasn’t sure how it would behave with my pattern. (Always a concern.)

I’m happy to say that all such thoughts drifted away as soon as I started working with it.  It’s got a nice hand and a lovely sheen that does a lot of work. I imagine, however, that you would have to be careful with it in certain designs, lest it steal the show (like Troy Garity did in the stylish movie Bandits).

The son of Jane Fonda.

I had proposed the mitts in Abalone, a bright pink color,

Not mother-of-pearl.

but one of the Knit Picks test knitters is going to knit the sample that will appear in the pattern book, so I can work out pattern details in any color I want.

Were this a project where exact fit was critical, I would have requested Abalone because different colors of the same yarn can behave differently (i.e., affect gauge) depending on the dye. Really. Navy blues and blacks are heavier than yellows and pinks, and tweeds are much thinner than their solid-colored brethren.

But exact fit wasn’t an issue, so I chose Gem. It looks teal on screen, but is rather green in the hand.

What I wanted (left) vs what I got.

Not a big deal for this purpose, but it would have been were I designing something that relied on the blue of teal.

Knitting a prototype and writing a pattern, even for something as simple as fingerless mitts with no thumb gusset, takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to, so I got started on it right away. (And by right away, I mean a couple of weeks later—but to a skilled procrastinator, that is right away.)

As I was knitting the first mitt, I kept thinking that it didn’t look right, too open and sloppy, and maybe I needed to go down a needle size. I thought this even though I had already experimented with needle sizes when I swatched multiple times for the submission. But I hadn’t swatched with this particular yarn, so I assumed that was the glitch.

When I finished the mitt, I compared it to my original swatch and realized I hadn’t twisted the stinkin’ knit stitches.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

This is a pattern I designed. I spent 11 hours swatching, after which I finally hit upon the twisted stitch as the one element that nailed the design. (Designers feel like bacon in a moment like that.) I was elated and proud, and considered patting myself on the back with the purchase of a squash blossom necklace. And I even blogged about my accomplishment—on my own blog. It was such an obvious and hard-earned design element that I didn’t have to write it down in my design notes.

And still.

After that smack down, I knit one mitt as intended, taking more notes as I went along (including “knit for Pete’s sake TBL”). I then wrote up the pattern and knit the matching mitt from that, finetuning things here and there.

After I formatted the pattern instructions according to the Knit Picks template, I turned it in—two weeks early—and removed the squash blossom necklace from my shopping cart.

To Ponder: A man ought warily to begin charges which once begun will continue; but in matters that return not, he may be more magnificent. |Francis Bacon|

Pinterest Mashup: Toothpaste

I follow lots of different kinds of pinners on Pinterest. Knitting boards, of course, but also boards for style, design, the comforting images of snow and rain, coffee/tea, modernist architecture, inspirational quotes, The Big Lebowski, and tiny houses.

Every so often, a couple of pins sit close together and editorialize each other.

Today we have some knitting that looks like a tube of toothpaste.

Submission and Rejection: Tee to Knit Picks

Here’s another there-and-gone design I didn’t blog about in real time: a t-shirt I submitted to Knit Picks for their Spring 2015 Garment Collection. Their mood board included a bunch of striped, shapeless, lacey beach-type wear in boring color combinations.

Texas beaches are too hot for sweaters.

But their color board had hints of excitement.

Actual color.

I don’t like stripes and I don’t like shapeless and I don’t like lace, so I already had a hat trick of strikes against me. But I do love a challenge, so I went to my stitch dictionaries and found a lace design that I could tolerate liked (only because it was a combination of two patterns, one of which was a solid band of ribbing).

I should know by now that Knit Picks almost never publishes garments in exciting colors. The mix of beige, cream, and grey represented by the color putty is what they prefer. (The color equivalent of George Michael’s girlfriend Ann on Arrested Development.) Nevertheless, I decided on Clementine and Cosmopolitan.

The first swatch I knit didn’t look like the picture in the book, and I had knit a couple of the lace sections, so I knew it wasn’t me. So after I held my mouth a certain way, I finally figured out that there were two rows missing in the published stitch pattern. (Sheesh!) So I knit a new swatch with the two rows and everything looked good. I also changed the ribbing a little while I was at it.

I first had the idea to submit an oversized tunic with 3/4 sleeves, alternating the colors of the lace and ribbing to make it striped. I even went so far as to create a schematic.

This took forever to create in Paint.

But I don’t like 3/4 sleeves. Plus, in the time it took to knit an oversized sweater in a sport weight yarn, little Prince George would be enthroned. But if I went with a heavier weight yarn to make it go faster, lace or no lace, the whole thing would weigh too much. Plus, knitting something that heavy in cotton, yoga or no yoga, would kill my hands and shoulders.

So I decided to submit a semi-fitted t-shirt instead. (There was one on their mood board, so I wasn’t completely going free range.) I created another schematic, without the color this time, wrote up the proposal, photographed the swatch, named it Padre Island Tee, and submitted it three weeks before the deadline.

A week after the deadline, Knit Picks sent me a very short email.

On the bright side:

  • I have another pattern to self-publish.
  • Knit Picks will probably accept it for their Independent Designer Program, and
  • they’ll send me free yarn with which to knit it.

Adios #23 Sleeveless Top

After three false starts and 35 hours of working round after round after ever-lovin’ round of stockinette on the sleeveless top that led me to discover a wine glass that holds an entire bottle of Pinot Noir—the top that was about 90% done and around which I had created an entire outfit to wear to my volunteer shift at the library—it took only nine minutes to frog the whole thing straight onto my ball winder.

Like it never existed.

Here’s what I would like to say happened: I’m on a strict yarn diet and cannot bring any more yarn into my house for any reason (not even if WEBS has a two-month-long anniversary sale, which they did, and I resisted, but just barely), but I’m working on a new design that requires yarn I don’t have in my stash (I know, I can’t believe it either), so I made the sacrifice and reclaimed the yarn so I wouldn’t have to buy more.

Here’s what really happened: With 1/4 of the yoke to go, I ran out of yarn.

I didn’t even take a picture of how far I’d gotten, because why take a picture of something that’s 90% finished on Thursday when I can take a picture of it 100% finished on Friday?

I also expunged the project record from Ravelry. There’s a “Frogged” status you can use, but what’s the point? As a mocking reminder of my inability to calculate yardage?

For me, if it’s not a WIP or an FO, it’s gone.


p.s. Not only do I still listen to CDs, I have a cassette player.

p.p.s. I love that one of the South African national news sites has a section devoted to Horses.


Submission: Vest to Twist Collective

After Knitscene returned the swatch for my Adelante Tank, and after I saw some design elements I didn’t like in the DK weight cotton/linen prototype I knit up, I redesigned it and started another prototype, this time in Cascade 220, a worsted weight wool, in the color Sphere, an ice-blue heather.

My original version had a cabled front and a 3×3 ribbed back, which is something I don’t like in any garment, i.e., a different design on front and back. As my German knitter friend Hannah said when I showed it to her and asked her opinion, “It looks like you didn’t want to do the work.”

I had proposed the tank to Knitscene that way because the magazine publishes patterns geared toward beginning to intermediate knitters. The cables were going to be enough of a challenge, so the ribbed back would give the knitter a little break. (Perhaps that was a mistake and Knitscene would have accepted it if I had proposed cables all around. They never say why they don’t want something.) And I chose ribbing instead of stockinette so the weight of the ribbing would counter the weight of the cables.

So, this new prototype with cables all over the place is what I should have done in the first place, and Hannah and I are much happier with it.

Just a photo that shows nothing.

I had intended to self-publish this design, but Twist Collective put out a call for submissions for their Winter 2014 issue, and this appeared to work for their Cut and Fold story, and it was already knit up in wool, so what the heck.

Twist wants either a sketch or a photo of the item, and since I have trouble sketching a straight line and all I needed to do on the vest was bind off around the top of it and knit the straps, I figured I’d go with a photo.

Of course, I miscalculated the time it would take to do those two things, and I ended up working for seven hours straight the day before to finish it so it could block overnight. The next morning, I woke up to the fragrance of damp wool, so I aimed a high-powered fan at my cabled creation to speed things up.

Adelante didn’t seem like the right name for a winter vest in wool, so I renamed it Welligkeit (which may or may not be the German word for ripple—Babelfish and Bing say it is; Hannah says it’s not). Then, with the sound of whirring behind me, I wrote up a one-page proposal, photographed the mostly dry vest (with the straps sort of tucked into place), and submitted it the day of the deadline.

A pictogram of deadline day.

Twist Collective says that you’ll hear from them one way or the other, but they don’t say how long it will take them to respond, so there’s probably plenty of time to send up good thoughts and prayers that I get a yes—and soon.

Please do.

FO: Hat for a Trip to Iceland

No, no, not for me. I teach yoga for a living, which is incompatible with discretionary funds. Plus, I don’t like to fly, and it’s my understanding that you can’t get to Iceland by motor coach.

One of my yoga students, Q we’ll call her, is traveling to Iceland in July and she asked me to knit her a warm hat with earflaps. I figured she would want it to be yellow because that’s one of her favorite colors (or so I assume from the predominance of yellow t-shirts she wears to class).

Yellow looks great on Q, but when I wear it, anyone brave enough to make eye contact with me asks if they should call an ambulance. Ergo, I have very little yellow yarn in my stash, so I was happy when she asked for a black hat. (I love black.) But then not so happy, and fairly surprised, when my Ravelry stash records showed that I have even less black yarn in my stash than I do yellow.

My choice of yarn colors warrants its own post that will, of course, include a rhyming ode to brown.

I don’t like to knit earflap hats for no other reason than they require casting on twice, turning two pieces into three by casting on twice more, and weaving in more than two ends. (It’s like a cardigan with all those pieces.) But I like Q, and she deserves my best.

After I dragged my feet for a couple of weeks (doing my best didn’t mean I wouldn’t procrastinate), I remembered that I’ve been wanting to make Elizabeth Zimmermann‘s Maltese Fisherman’s Hat since forever, but never did because, hola, it’s an earflap hat. But now I finally had a good reason to.

The pattern calls for bulky yarn—well, it doesn’t actually call for it because EZ rarely told you what yarn weight to use (or needle size for that matter), only the gauge you should get—which meant that the hat would knit up fast despite the multiple pieces. I have some bulky black yarn, but it was propping open the door to Narnia in my stash closet, so I used some worsted weight that was easy to get to. (No, you can’t substitute worsted for bulky, but held double, it’s close enough.)

The yarn I used is my beloved Bernat Lana, a 100% merino wool that is so soft and so saturated and so lovely to work with and to wear that it has, of course, been discontinued. I bought it years ago from online closeout seller Smiley’s Yarns, and had I known how much I was going to love it, I would have bought every skein they had for sale.

The hat has a pointy crown, which I didn’t like and didn’t think Q would either (and doubt even Maltese fishermen are crazy about), but it would be easy to de-pixiefy.

Points are for debates, not hats.

I cast on and started reading the pattern*, realized that EZ uses short rows to shape the earflaps in a single piece, once again felt in awe of her mad knitting skillz, congratulated myself on my luck foresight in choosing this now easy hat pattern, changed the spread and rate of the crown decreases to produce a rounded crown, and wove in two ends. Four hours later**, I had this:

The last of the Lana, bound for Iceland.

I blocked it*** overnight, then presented it to Q in class the next day as an early birthday present. She loved it.

*Never do this. Always read the pattern all the way through before casting on.

**After I had to rip back because my gauge was off and the brim was too shallow, but it would have been a four-hour knit had that not happened.

***Always do this. Blocking your handknits will get you into heaven.

Acceptance: Holiday Pattern for Knit Picks

Last Thursday, the same day I recieved my swatch in the mail from Knitscene, I came home to an email from Knit Picks that they want one of my holiday thingamabobs for their website.




The acceptance came with a restriction against spoilers (they call it confidentiality), so that’s all I can say. Except for…

And they chose the second easiest one of the four I submitted.

Submission and Rejection: Tank Top for Knitscene

I’ve been making so many submissions lately, I don’t think I blogged about a cabled tank top I submitted in May to Knitscene for their Spring 2015 issue. One of the stories in their call for submissions was for big, drapey cables. Not my favorite type of cable, but I’m not one to pass up a chance for fame and glory, so I went into my briar patch of stitch dictionaries and found one with an unusual construction.

I swatched it up using yarn left over from the hat Interweave Knits is going to publish in their Winter 2014 issue, wrote up the proposal, named it Adelante, and mailed it to them. (I make it sound like all that happened in about five minutes, but it took a few hours over a few days). Knitscene notifies in 2–4 weeks for an acceptance, which comes via email, and 4–6 weeks for a rejection, which is your original swatch in the mail.

After six weeks, I still hadn’t heard from them, and I was hoping they were behind with acceptances because they were dealing with the tumult of moving offices, but apparently they were behind with rejections because yesterday, the postman delivered my swatch.

Here’s a glimpse of the cable.

A nice drapey cable.

In the meantime, I was avoiding working on my cabled sweater design so sure that Knitscene would want it, I knit up a prototype in the only other DK weight yarn I had enough of, which was some Knit Picks CotLin, a 70/30 cotton/linen blend in a beautiful dark teal color called Planetarium.

I washed and dried the tank top like you’re supposed to because linen softens the more you launder it, and this is what was waiting in my lint trap.

Half my tank top and all the color.

The tank looks like I wore it while swimmming in the Gulf of Mexico every day for the past three summers.

On the bright side:

  • My dryer works.
  • The tank did get softer.
  • I have new beachwear.