interweave knits

Travel Food

After more years than I want to count, I’m finally taking a true and proper vacation. Going Greyhound to Arizona to see my BFF, Tina. She of the life scarf.

Friends since the 5th grade.

If my readership is like most people I’ve told about this trip, about 3/4 of you will make a polite face and wonder why I’m taking the bus instead of a plane, and about 1/4 of you will think it sounds cool and fun.

For the dissenting majority, here’s why I’m taking the bus:

  1. I have more time than money. A bus trip is more than half the price of a flight, including the ticket and any shuttles I’d have to take.
  2. I don’t like to fly. I ain’t skeered; just not interested.
  3. One of my favorite bloggers, James Altucher, says that he wants his life to resemble a book of stories rather than a textbook. That’s how I’ve always thought, but his description puts it best. A long bus trip is going to create many more stories than a boring old plane ride.
  4. When I think about escaping the relentless Texas heat and moving somewhere that supports my wooly wardrobe, I look west. This trip will turn the map into the territory.
  5. And this quote, which I wrote in one of my journals many years ago (and which explains why I’ll do just about anything to earn money, save getting a 9-5):

It is easy to make life and career decisions based solely on financial concerns and to conform your life to the contours of whatever job will pay the most money. That is what most of us Americans are culturally programmed to do. However, if you put the money factor aside, shift your mental frame of reference, and instead analyze your life in terms of the plot of a novel, the results of your analysis will most likely change. Imagine that you are on a long train ride and must choose one of two books to read in order to pass the time: the first is a novel whose main character is an office worker who is essentially working to pay his monthly cable bill; the second is about someone who decides to travel in South America (and of course encounters various setbacks in the process), but who pushes beyond the boundaries of conventional American life. Which book would you pick up to read? Indeed, which of the two characters would you rather be? |-Mark Thompson-|

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto the subject of this post, which is travel food, which for a knitter is: knitting.

The trip out there is 25+ hours and the trip back home is 28+, assuming, of course, that the buses run according to schedule.

I waited until the second-to-last minute to figure out what to take, and came up with two projects that are portable, almost mindless, and will be easy to pick up and put down in case I need to stop knitting to take photos of jackrabbits in the desert, or in case Keanu Reeves boards the bus in El Paso and he wants to talk.

The first is the Baby Kimono by Kristin Spurkland from Interweave Knits Summer 2005.

(c)Interweave Knits

It calls for DK weight yarn, which I’m always sorry I don’t have more of in my stash. So I’m using worsted weight yarn, some Berocco Comfort of which I have just enough* for this little jacket done entirely in garter stitch.

I cast on last night and knit a few rows to get started. My gauge doesn’t match, but eh, if I finish it, and if a baby ever wears it, it probably won’t matter.

No baby will be harmed in the making of this kimono.

If I tire of knitting every row, I can throw in some purling with my second project—Citron by Hilary Smith Callis from Knitty Winter 2009.

(c)Hilary Smith Callis

The pattern calls for lace weight yarn, but I’m using a fingering weight like I did the first time I knit it. I used Knit Picks Comfort in blackberry.

I loved it the first time.

This time, it’s hollyberry.

The stockinette adventure begins.

Catch y’all on the flip side.


*I should have just enough yarn, but with the way my luck goes sometimes…

To Ponder: See above.

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Decisions: Stuff by Publications

I’ve sent out so many proposals lately, I had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. Keeping track of the rejections is easy, though, because that’s mostly what I get.

In case you’re keeping track:

I received no response about the vest and pillow I submitted to Knit Now, so am assuming they don’t want them.

Knit Picks doesn’t want either of the hats I submitted for their 2016 Stashbusting Collection.

And Lisa Shroyer sent emails letting me know that she doesn’t want either of the sweaters I proposed to Interweave Knits Winter 2016.

I didn’t blog about submitting the same cabled capelet to the yarn company Louet and then to Pom Pom Quarterly. Both rejected it.

And you know what? I don’t care because KNITTY WANTS MY ATOMIC MITTS FOR FIRST FALL 2015!

To Ponder: Before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead… You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin. |-Kathleen Norris-|

Submission: Sweaters to Interweave Knits

Yesterday was the deadline for Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue.

From the call for submissions:

For the Winter issue, we want to see traditional, iconic sweaters. That is the theme. Give us your best Arans, Fair Isle pullovers, ganseys, Nordic ski sweaters, Icelandic yokes, Bohus yokes, and more.

I’ve been hankering for a big colorwork design, so I started a new one from scratch. I had the idea for an Icelandic pullover, but it turned into a Norwegian sort of design, which I then rolled back over to Icelandic.

I was specifically designing the lopapeysa style of Icelandic sweater, which has long jaggedy graphics in the yoke. The Norwegian graphics are smaller and tighter, and tend toward snowflake-type motifs.

How about a picture?

Worth 1,000 words.

My design uses three colors, sometimes in the same row, which, I tell you, was quite the challenge until I got the hang of it. It wasn’t the knitting so much as the stranding, and just to make sure I could do it, I knit a full-size yoke.

Wrong side showing some decent stranding, if I do say so.

Interweave Knits has changed their submission process, having you email a proposal with photos rather than the actual swatch, which has sent this procrastinator over the moon.

So, I submitted my Icelandic sweater.

And then I did something really dumb gutsy and submitted The Sweater. (Knitscene didn’t want it.)

I’m not sure I want IK to accept both sweaters* as I would have to finish designing and then knit two major projects on deadline.


*Just kidding. Of course I want to have two designs in the same issue of Interweave Knits. Please send up good thoughts and prayers.

To Ponder: We all start off looking for love, attention…to achieve in music, make a contribution, make a million bucks. These are all great and honorable things. They’re great. But while you’re working for them, you have to set your own goals to work your ass off. All the time. Every time. |-David Lee Roth-|

Diamond Dave workin’ it.

 

Pretend Interview with Pam MacKenzie | Part 2

In May, I posted the first part of my pretend interview with Pam MacKenzie who writes the In Stitches knitting column for MyCentralJersey.com. She had interviewed one of my favorite designers, Angela Hahn, and I looked and looked for the second part, but could never find it.

I figured it never happened, but no…Angela’s name was misspelled as Anglea. Oy.

Here’s the original second part of Pam’s interview with Angela Hahn.

And here are my answers to Pam’s (edited to suit me) questions.

Q: Some designers have said that published designs in magazines are often a collaboration between the designer and the magazine editor. Do you find this to be true in your career? If so, can you describe how one of your designs evolved to meet the needs of a magazine editor?

A: I’ve published only two designs in magazines. My Voussoir Hat in Interweave Knits Gifts 2014 and my Paros Hat in Knitscene Winter 2014.

For my Voussoir Hat, IK gave me a choice of three yarns to use, and I picked Valley Yarns Northfield because WEBS promotes the heck out of every pattern that calls for their house yarn by tweeting, blogging, and podcasting. I figured they’d do the same with my pattern, but they haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Voussior Hat by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

Waiting for WEBS to discover this gem.

For my Paros Hat, Knitscene told me to use Skacel’s HiKoo yarn in 49 Shades of Gray and Kiwi, and I said okay.

Paros Hat by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

I wanted a hot pink stripe.

Q: You’ve {will} published a few {one} designs in two a books from Tanis Gray. “101 Little One-Skein WondersCozy Knits” {will have} has mittens and a cowl {a hat} from you, and “Knitting Architecture” has a wonderful tote bag from you. What’s it like to design for a book that will include many designers? For example, do the designers communicate with each other or just with the central editor? Are the deadlines longer than the magazines’ deadlines, or are they about the same?

A: My Happy Hat will be published in 101 Little One-Skein Wonders that will come out in early 2015. This will be my first pattern in a book, and so far, it’s exactly like self-publishing. I worked alone in my studio to create the design, write the pattern, and knit the prototype. And now I’m waiting for the money to roll in. I don’t even know the names of the other designers.

Q: Do you have a favorite design of yours? If a publisher told you they would publish any book you wrote/designed, what would you like to design?

A: I love my Ironheart design that I put on a hat and a pullover.

Ironheart by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

So many color possibilities.

If that publisher was the same one that published my Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop mystery series, I would tell them to jump head first into a frozen Minnesota lake. If it was another, professional publisher with capable editors, honest accountants, and non-diva publicists, I’d like to publish a book of cable designs. However, they would need to give me a deadline for the year 2020 because my first major cabled sweater design is taking forever.

Q: What’s the most fun thing about being a knitwear designer, and what’s the least favorite thing?

A: My ginormous yarn stash, and my ginormous yarn stash.

Q: Do you have children, and is it difficult to balance your knitting and designing with taking care of them? Or do you find that your knitwear career fits in well with the demands of family life?

A: I don’t have kids, but my knitwear career fits in well with having no demands on my time for most hours of the day.

Q: Do you have any advice for knitters who want to break into the professional knitwear design business?

A: I haven’t really broken into it myself, but I just keep designing and submitting and hoping I hit the right note with an editor.

To Ponder: Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. |-Stephen King-|

Two Black Fridays

No, not marathon shopping among crowds of bargain hunters under torturous conditions. I haven’t done that since I wore makeup every day and drove a Mercedes.

A shiny money pit.

I’m talking about rejections.

Last Friday, I received back the swatch for my kerchief thing I submitted to Interweave Knits for their Summer 2015 issue. This thing is so cute, with its bobbles and eyelet details, I thought for sure they would want it.

This was a lot of work.

My second rejection came from Knit Picks. I had submitted two cabled items for their Fall 2015 call for submissions—a cabled capelet and The Sweater.

I knit up a swatch for the capelet, which turned out beautiful and interesting if I do say, and submitted a PDF to them.

The main cable.

I debated whether to submit The Sweater because the pattern deadline was pretty quick and this design is taking for-e-vah and if Knit Picks accepted the capelet I would have two complex cabled patterns due at the same time. But I’m close to done with it, and I figured I could jam on the pattern if I had to, so I submitted it the day of the deadline. I didn’t have time to create a schematic, so I skipped it, hoping they would love the design so much they wouldn’t even notice.

The Friday before last, I got two rejections in a single email.

On the bright side:

  • I can submit the kerchief thing somewhere else.
  • I can sell the little kerchief swatch at the farmer’s market to a little flower child.
  • I can reuse the cables for the capelet on another design.

To Ponder: Anti-social behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists. |Nikola Tesla|

Submission: Scarf to Interweave Knits

Last month, two days before the deadline, I submitted a proposal for a scarf to Interweave Knits for their Gifts 2015 issue.

The “Lifelines” story for that issue is described thusly:

“Show us lace in crunchy, wooly, luscious textures and fibers. Oversized scarves and shawls are modern wearables in studio neutrals and heavier gauges. Mix in cables and textured patterns; add edgings and bobbles and I-cord trims.”

The stitch pattern on the tee I submitted to Knit Picks and then to Knitscene is a mix of lace and ribbing, which is close enough.

So I knit up a swatch in the yarn I used for my Irene Adler pillow.

Irene Adler Pillow by A Texas Girl Knits

Red is not a “studio neutral” (or maybe it is; I have no idea what that means), but the American Lamb is a bulky yarn and fits the “oversized” and “heavier gauge” suggestions.

Plus, IK will tell you what yarn and color they want you to use if they accept the pattern, so I don’t think it matters that much. The knitter knits the final version that will be photographed for the magazine, so I think they’re mostly interested in seeing your knitting and finishing skills.

I got into their Gifts 2014 issue with my Voussoir Hat, so please send up prayers that I repeat that success.

To Ponder: As to conforming outwardly and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that. |Henry David Thoreau|

p.s. I know that all of these submission posts sound the same, but if any of you are interested in designing (or writing or painting or drawing or any other creative endeavor for which you hope to earn money), know that it’s not all Skittles and check deposits. It’s 99% this kind of unglamorous stuff.

Go Team!

A recent blog post on Knitting Daily featured my Paros Hat!

The Assistant Project Editor for Interweave Knits and Knitscene found a way to get around the universal manly colors of black, brown, blue, and gray, and made one for her fiancé in his favorite pro football team colors. Then she wrote a blog post about it.

With a fun photo and everything. {via}

What a clever idea to knit this hat in team colors. You could use school colors, too. In Texas, that means either burnt orange and white if you hook ’em or maroon and white if you gig ’em.

This is the second time one of my hats has been featured on Knitting Daily, which is rather incredible to me, considering I’ve had only two hats published by an Interweave Press magazine.

Mostly, though, this is validation. As a designer, you know what you like, but you’re never sure if others will like it. Magazine editors accept and publish things they like or think their readers will like, but it’s possible no one will knit them.

For example:

Seriously, Vogue Knitting Holiday 2014? This wasn’t even an attractive style in the 80s. [Photo (c)SoHo Publishing]

Today, the project page for my Paros Hat on Ravelry shows eight projects, and three of them are mine. But Laura’s fiancé’s hat isn’t on there, so there are at least seven people (I’m counting the editor who published it) besides me who like it.

I’m so thankful for that.

To Ponder: Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up. |Allen Klein|

Of All the Hat Patterns In All the World

Kathleen Cubley fell in love with mine.

Who is Kathleen Cubley? She’s the editor of Knitting Daily, the blog of Interweave Press.

In last Monday’s post, my Voussoir Hat was featured “above the fold” as it were (which explains the mystery of why so many people favorited and queued it on Ravelry that day).

Wow, right?

Kathleen wrote: “Hats are where it’s at, and there are several really wonderful hats in Knits Gifts. The one that I really fell in love with is the Voussoir Hat by Robin Allen.”

She goes on to say that my hat reminds her of her favorite Koolhaas Hat, designed by wonder-boy Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. What an honor!

Koolhaas Hat by Jared Flood; photo (c) Interweave Knits

I subscribe to Knitting Daily’s digest emails that arrive on Saturdays. They contain all of the previous weeks entries, so I didn’t know about her post until a few days afer the fact.

What a blessing, this. Unexpected and genuine praise from a well-respected industry expert.

To Ponder: From a thing’s possibility, one cannot be certain of its reality. |Roman Proverb|

Submission: Kerchief to Interweave Knits

I dashed off another submission this week. This one to Interweave Knits for their Summer 2015 issue.

Magazines published by Interweave Press (Interweave Knits, Knitscene, knit.wear) use the same old-school submission form. You print it out, then hand write your proposal, including any schematics or sketches. Sounds easy enough, right? But look at how much room you have to tell them everything they need to know.

I’m getting good at writing small.

There’s space for four proposed items on the sheet, so you have to be concise. I’ve learned to type out everything first, then copy the info to the form. Still, I usually write all the way across the page, trespassing into one of the other proposal blocks.

It’s hard to describe this item I’m submitting. It’s part kerchief and part something else, so I knit up a mini version of what I’m proposing to help them envision and fall in love with it. I did more work on this swatch than I normally do, and I’m glad I did. I was able to work out some decrease issues that would have baffled me in a few weeks if the editor accepts it.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought of a good name for it, but it happened in the middle of the night. Whether I dreamt it or I came up with it during one of the squillion times I wake up to my mind skimming across the lake of my life, the name was perfect. I don’t, however, recall what it was.

It had something to do with Greek mythology and started with a C, but now, in the bright light of a late summer day, I can think of only two names.

One is Cassandra, who was fated by Apollo to prophesy the truth but no one would believe her (and was also the name of a character in later seasons of the X-Files who suffered the same fate), but even if I were dreaming, I wouldn’t have thought Cassandra was the perfect name for a kerchief.

The second is Cassiopeia, but I wouldn’t inflict five syllables on any knitter.

The constellation.

I even keep a pencil and paper on my nightstand to write down these brilliant nighttime cerebrations, but never pick them up because I always believe my ideas to be so sterling, there’s no chance I’ll forget them.

So, I did what I usually do, which is turn to the thesaurus. I quickly came up with Kermis Kerchief (I do adore alliteration), then packaged up the proposal and popped it over to the post office.

And, dang it, I didn’t take a picture of it. The design was rather involved, so I know I’m going to be sorry—unless I knit another one right away. Do you think I will?

I should hear yay or nay from Interweave Knits in a month or so. Please send up prayers and good thoughts that it’s a yay, okay?

To Ponder: A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. |Winston Churchill|

Voilà: Voussoir Hat

Interweave Knits just released their Gifts 2014 issue.

My Voussior Hat is in it!

Voussior Hat1 by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

I made this.

Voussior Hat2 by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

She looks like Pippa Middleton, no?

Apparently, the release happened last Friday (8/15), but I didn’t know about it until Sunday afternoon when this Google Alert popped up.

At first I was confused about how anyone knew about my hat when it’s supposed to be top secret until publication, but I clicked the link, and blimey, there she was on Ravelry—and favorited 40 times already!

Among my company in this issue are such influential designers as Veronik Avery, Annie Modesitt, Angela Hahn, and Cathy Carron.

This publication in an international magazine is an answered prayer, and I’m praying for more.

Voussoir Hat by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

In designing this hat, I was inspired by medieval cathedrals. A voussoir is a wedge-shaped stone used in building a vault or an arch. This hat fulfills my love of symmetry and my desire to create complex-looking designs with simple stitch repeats.

The close-fitting Voussoir Hat uses a combination of knits, purls, and twisted stitches to create a design that looks much more complex than it is.

Finished Size: 19 1/2″ circumference (unstretched) and 7 1/4″ long.

Yarn: Valley Yarns Northfield (70% merino,20% baby alpaca, 10% silk; 124 yd 113 m/1 3/4 oz 50 g): #18 pine green, 2 skeins.

Needles: Size 3 (3.25 mm): 16″ circular (cir) and set of double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

Notions: Markers (m); tapestry needle.

Gauge: 26 sts and 32 rnds = 4″ in charted patt.

Skills: Knitting, knitting through the back loop, purling, decreasing, working in the round, researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

Voussior Hat3 by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

To Ponder: True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. |Antoine de Saint-Exupery|