Nothing for Miles

When I first started this blog, I had tons of stuff to say. I’ve been knitting seriously since high school, designing for a few years, and have had strong thoughts, beliefs, and opinions since birth. I have cultivated the skill of being able to talk to anyone about anything—whether it be a friend’s metal clayworking class or my brother’s new pistol or a librarian’s suddenly overpriced neighborhood.

I doubted I would ever run out of things to say about knitting, and if I did, I had other things to write about, like yoga and stupid stuff in the news. And if that ran out, new situations would come into my life, like a schizophrenic neighbor who has covered her house in foil as a shield against the radio frequency waves and “energy balls” I’m hurling at her.

But lately, I can’t think of a single thing to say. Not just about knitting, but about anything.

Well, I can think of stuff to say, but it’s boring. Like recently I noticed that four of the last 10 patterns I’ve published have used a lime green yarn, which seems impossible because I don’t even like that color.

Not even a picture can make this interesting.

This blog post is so boring, I can’t believe I spent time on it, and I’ll probably delete it later. It doesn’t even have a point.

Sorry.


To Ponder: I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else. |-Kurt Cobain-|
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Decision: Garter Scarf by Knit Picks

Last night I got an email from Knit Picks about my garter stitch submission.

It was a day early, which often means acceptance.

Not this time.

In the email, the editor wrote: “This was easily the largest amount of submissions we have received for a collection and the decision was incredibly difficult.”

Her rejection emails always say “the decision was incredibly difficult,” and I imagine her and the acquisition team staying awake from the submission deadline to the decision deadline, drinking urns of coffee and eating their collective weight in donuts, finally emerging from their war room in need of a bath, a hairbrush, and a detox.

More likely, one of them sends a group text with, “I like this,” and a someone else responds, “Me too. Where are we going for lunch?”

Since everyone and their yoga instructor are knitting garter stitch these days, I’ll keep submitting.

For the nonce, let’s comfort ourselves with a little Keanu.

To Ponder: It is the studying that you do after your school days that really counts. Otherwise, you know only that which everyone else knows. |-Henry Doherty-|

Voilà: Hermosa Tee

Snow and freezing temps are still high on the list of things to think about for most people, but for knitters, it’s time to start thinking about spring and summer projects.

How about my new Hermosa Tee?

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

If you care to remember, I’ve had this design knocking on submission doors for quite a while. When so many doors are slammed, it’s easy to get discouraged and think, “It’s not them, it’s me.” And when that happens, I’ll sometimes set aside a design, and I’ll sometimes never pick it back up. Not even to self-publish it.

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

But this time, I knew it was them, not me, and I kept submitting one more time.*

Then last year, the yarn company Louet North America opened their door.

And today, the little tee that I never gave up on (er, sorry Winston…on which I never gave up), is one of 12 patterns in Louet’s Spring 2016 Collection.

Hermosa Tee by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

©Louet North America

The pattern calls for Louet’s Euroflax linen sport weight yarn, but you could use any sport weight yarn in any fiber.


*It’s always them.

To Ponder: Success in any endeavor does not happen by accident. Rather, it’s the result of deliberate decisions, conscious effort, and immense persistence…all directed at specific goals. |-Gary Ryan Blair-|

Submission: Garter Scarf to Knit Picks

For various and sundry reasons, I haven’t been knitting or designing much lately, but thanks to gentle prompts by my accountability partner I’ve only mostly been neglecting knitting rather than completely neglecting it.

Part of that neglect has been ignoring all the recent calls for submissions, but on Valentine’s Day, I looked at two calls that Knit Picks put out a few weeks ago. One was for items that take less than 200 grams of yarn, the other for garter stitch items.

Since the deadline was the next day and I wasn’t sure I could come up with one idea, never mind two, and since I’m always all about doing the easiest thing and with garter stitch you knit every row, I started knitting every row.

Garter stitch isn’t the most exciting stitch on the books, and it always manages to scream “new knitter,” but it seems like the knitting world is in love with it all of a sudden.

From the call:

“Celebrate it with garments and accessories in weights from fingering to super bulky and a neutral palette with pops of color. Garter stitch is the main point of interest, and clever, engaging construction is a must! Bonus points for unusual shapes or if the project is knit entirely in garter.”

I found a lot of that to be oxymoronic as it applies to garter stitch, but I gave it a shot.

I tried this and that, which is hard to do when you can’t even purl, and nothing was happening for a couple of hours. But then I added a second color and a little bit of magic, and blimey, I had something that looked like checks on one side and stripes on the other. And it had clever, engaging construction and pops of color, and was knit entirely in garter. And it hardly even looked like garter stitch (read: not ugly).

The next day, Monday, deadline day, I knit up a swatch using colors from the call, wrote up the proposal, and sent ‘er in.

Knit Picks doesn’t drag their feet when it comes to decisions so I’ll get a yay or nay on Friday. Send up some prayers for me, yeah?

To Ponder: When the solution is simple, God is answering. |-Albert Einstein-|

Voilà: Happy Hat

September is a Happy Month around here. First, a cool front blew some Happy Rain into Texas last week and the weather has allowed the wearing of long sleeves. It’s still spiking into the 90s in the afternoon, but the nights, oh the Happy Nights have been dropping into the 60s. I’ve slept with my Happy Window open, which is just about my idea of heaven.

I made some Happy Decisions for my health and future, resulting in the loss of four Happy Pounds. It took eight Bleepin’ Weeks to shed even an ounce, but it’s finally starting to Happ(y)en.

And my Happy Hat has been released!

©Geneve Hoffman Photography

Is that a stinkin’ cute Happy Baby or what?

I have self-published many designs and have been published in several Knit Picks collections, but this is my first design in a proper book.

The gestation period for this Happy Publication was about the same amount of time a baby takes to come into the world.

An elephant baby, that is.

I began working on it almost two years ago. As with most of my designs, I started with a swatch of a stitch pattern that spoke to me the day my eyes fell on it while browsing through one of my German stitch dictionaries. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but a basic pattern like this one would look great on many types of items.

And then I saw the call for submissions from Storey Publishing and knew that it should be on a hat. Around the same time, I was reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and so this design that looks like little smiles all over the place will forever be linked with the Cheshire Cat.

I submitted my design to Storey in February 2014 and they accepted it in July 2014, and now, 14 months on—after signing contracts, reviewing proofs and finding an error in the chart (theirs), conferring with the editor about their conflation of two sizes into one for the final version of the pattern, getting an initial pub date of August 25th then seeing a different pub date of September 8th, and accommodating their requests to get back to them ASAP about everything—the Happy Book is out.

One-Skein Wonders for Babies: 101 Knitting Projects for Infants & Toddlers edited by Judith Durant is 288 pages packed with ensembles, tops and bottoms, dresses, hats, socks and booties, blankets, toys, and other baby things to knit.

I hope my Happy Hat will be one of yours. It’s on page 151.

To Ponder: An amazing thing happens when you get honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born. |-Unknown-|

 

Decision: Scarf by Knitty

Remember how Knitty published my Atomic Fingerless Mitts a couple of months ago?

Well, as anyone who has anything to do with stock market investments always reminds you, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

I don’t know why Amy Singer doesn’t want my cool, reversible, cabled Shire scarf, but, dingdang it, she doesn’t.

On the bright side:

  • Knitty wants you to submit a publish-ready pattern, so it’s a go for my own indie launch.
  • I paid off my mortgage in June, so the honorarium payment would have been used for something silly, like yarn or an Achiever t-shirt.*
  • It’s not like I have to go out and get a proper job because of it.

*Yes, I’m aware of the irony of advertising myself as an achiever, when I have clearly failed in the modest task that was my charge.

To Ponder: It’s easier to learn to do without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them. |-Dolly Freed-|

Decision: Tee by Louet

I have a lace-and-ribbing tee in my submission queue that I really love. It started as the Padre Island Tee when I submitted it to Knit Picks and Knitscene. Then it was called Island Tee when PomPom Quarterly rejected it.

And when I submitted it to the yarn company Louet in mid-July, I called it Long Island Tee.* The call said they were looking for tees, for lace, and for designs that use 2–6 skeins of yarn. It’s not often that an existing design hits a trifecta, but it is often that I’m rejected.

However…

Whether because of the name change or that this design’s time has finally come:

LOUET WANTS MY LONG ISLAND TEE FOR SPRING 2016!

I proposed it their Gems Sport yarn, a 100% merino wool. Admittedly a ridiculous fiber for a spring garment in central Texas, but I have to remember that a significant population of the world doesn’t start wearing shorts and flip-flops** in March, and may still appreciate the warmth of wool.

But when they accepted it, the editor asked me to use their Euroflax Sport, a 100% linen yarn. I agreed, partly because this design could be knit out of anything, even kitchen twine, but mostly because who am I to demand no brown M&Ms in my dressing room?

The yarn arrived yesterday.

Swatching begins today.

George Gently began last night.


*Thanks to my accountability partner, Melinda, for the joke that polished into a jewel.

**Not me. Not flip-flops. Not ever.

To Ponder: The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it. |-Chinese Proverb-|

Designer Crush: Irina Poludnenko

One of my most favoritist designers is Irina Poludnenko. She’s been around the knitwear design world for about 20 years, before the interwebs and Ravelry, so I caught her in Vogue Knitting.

A few years ago I knit* her #07 Slant Rib Pullover from Fall 2002 (which I believe is one of the best issues they’ve ever published).

Rina—which is what I would call her if we toasted each other at the VK Christmas party in NYC—is now an in-house designer for the yarn company Tahki Stacy Charles, and while her designs for them are rather fabulous, she’s been swinging for the bleachers since the beginning.

My love for her is infinite, but I’ve chosen a few stand-outs from her extraordinary body of work.

Diagonal Slit Pullover

She took a mid-century funnel neck pullover and went Jetsons with the ridges and rips. (And is that Joan Severance?)

Cabled Pullover

All. Those. Cables.

Two-Button Jacket

An homage to Pop Art that uses a mosaic(!) technique to create a fitted(!), shawl collar(!) cardigan.

Allover Cabled Cardigan

A deep, deep, deep v-neck cabled pullover with a ribbed hem to hold it all together. (+1 for the magazine’s styling of this design. The belt closes the deal.)

Alyce Cardigan

The upside-down horseshoe cables on the peplum and bell sleeves that flow into waist shaping with XO cables that flow into ribbing that flow into plaited cables on the yoke and fitted sleeves. And the horseshoe placket that easily accommodates the buttons.

Natalie Tank

Unusual construction of a standard tank top that looks like a weatherman’s map of a cold front moving SE from the PNW.

Sundance Cardigan

A Nehru silhouette knit side-to-side with a zipper and semi-circle waist detail that forms a full circle when you sew everything together. It would be a great design without the circles, but that little detail… See? That’s why Rina rocks. And the colors.

Parma Ridge Poncho

A poncho that uses two yarn weights to create texture. And sleeves! My absolute favorite design by her that I’ve never knit for the simple reason that I haven’t ponied up $6 for the pattern.

Ethel Mesh Stripe Pullover

I’ve been working on a similar design that has been submitted and rejected several times because I’m not Irina Poludnenko. Or more probably because—aha—I continued the lace pattern too far into the yoke. Also, mine has a better name than Ethel. (-1 for the magazine styling. Really? A collared shirt?)

Rosslyn Cowl

If you can get past the Shrek colored yarn and obvious lack of blocking, this is a brilliant execution of multiple complex knitting and shaping techniques.

Geghard Cabled Pullover

Cables that look like cousins, and without a heavy reliance on filler stitches.

Victoria Top

First, the colors. And b) elongated entrelac in garter stitch.

A lot of Rina’s designs don’t have many projects on Ravelry, and I think it’s because she’s on an elevated plane. She’s one of those people whose designs you knit because they’re interesting or they’re going to develop your skills, and with the price of yarn these days knitters tend to knit wardrobe staples.

She mostly lets her designs speak for her, but if you’re interested in more about her or are curious about what she looks like when she travels to Europe with her family, you can read a rather serious interview she did in 2012 with another knitter named Robin.


*I didn’t put this project on Ravelry because the armscyes were too tight. My knitting hubris, however, prevented me from trying on the sweater before I blocked the whole thing, and when I finally admitted defeat and tried to unpiece it, I had done such a good job of weaving in my ends** that I couldn’t find the place to start unravelling***.

**Knitting hubris indeed.

***I can’t go Gordian on this because I’m out of yarn and need to tink to save every centimeter of yarn.

To Ponder: Your circumstances aren’t holding you back, your decisions are. |-John Assaraf-|

Voilà: Atomic Fingerless Mitts

I’ve waited six long years to see one of my designs on the pages of Knitty. I’ve told you about the submission and the acceptance, and now it’s time for the big reveal of my Atomic fingerless mitts.

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

This pattern is free for everyone throughout the land.

Pattern Details: Atomic by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

Ah, the 1950s—they gave us Velcro, Hula Hoops, Saran Wrap, Scotchgard, Liquid Paper, Mr. Potato Head, McDonald’s, and credit cards. Did all of that make the Atomic Era the best in recent history? Who knows. But its art and architecture are the bomb!

I constructed these mitts around a Scandinavian snowflake motif that looks both futuristic and modern. I chose the popular Atomic combination of blue and green for an outdoor cocktail party, but you might pair aqua with orange and enjoy a dinner of fried clams at Howard Johnson. Or switch out the green for red and hang out at the Tastee-Freez. Or Google the word Googie and let the results inspire your colors and venue.

Wherever you wear these, you’ll be coolest cat around.

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

Not Neil Gaiman’s* hands.

Features:
* Knit in the round
* Seamless
* Minimal finishing
* Charted and written instructions

Skills: Knitting, purling, stranded knitting, working in the round, working from a chart, researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

Finished Measurements:
Hand circumference, excluding thumb: 8″/20.25cm, stretches to 8.5″/21.5cm
Cuff edge to top of mitt: 10″/25.5 cm

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport (100% Peruvian Highland wool; 137yd/125m per 50g skein); MC Avocado, 1 skein; CC Winter Night, 1 skein.

Needles: US 4/3.5mm needles for small circumference knitting in the round, either DPNs, 1 long circular, or 2 short circulars

Notions: Stich markers, yarn needle

Gauge: 24 sts/31 rnds = 4″ in stranded stockinette stitch in the round, blocked
22 sts/30 rnds = 4″ in stockinette stitch in the round, blocked

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

*I kind of, sort of, maybe hoped I might make the cover of Knitty, but was prepared to see someone else’s design. I wasn’t, however, prepared to see Neil Gaiman. Wow. I’m in the issue with Neil Gaiman on the cover!

To Ponder: If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. |-William James-|

Submission: Sweater to Green Mountain Spinnery

Green Mountain Spinnery is a small, sustainable family-owned yarn company located in one of the states my alter (richer) ego has dreamed of living—Vermont.

They put out a call for submissions for sweater designs using their Mountain Mohair yarn. It’s a mostly wool blend yarn with 30% mohair “sourced from Angora Goats from various herds across the country from Vermont to Texas.” And it has cool color names like Alpenglo, Blue Gentian, Edelweiss, and Vincent’s Gold.

Being that my Icelandic sweater design would be perfect for this yarn, and being that it was available for submission, I sent it in—a full 11 days ahead of the deadline.

Wrong side out to preserve secrecy.

While the stranded yoke would look good in just about any three of Green Mountain Spinnery’s colors, I proposed ones similar to the swatch because a) that color combo works, and b) you never know about another person’s ability to envision.

Beautiful subtleties in each color.

They notify in three weeks from the submission deadline, so please send up prayers for good news on June 12th.

To Ponder: If you find something that feels right but doesn’t seem to fit into your master plan, take a chance, and commit to it by working hard. You shouldn’t be afraid to let passion get behind the wheel.You might really love where you end up. |-Jerry Yang-|