WIP: Hermosita Tee

Soon after my Hermosa Tee came out, I had lunch with my brother and sister-in-law.


I wore my prototype of the t-shirt and brought along my copy of Vogue Knitting’s Spring 2016 issue in which Louet had placed an ad for the pattern collection that included my design.

It’s just an ad, but probably the only time my name will appear as a designer in Vogue Knitting.

My SIL really liked* my new design, and my brother asked me to knit one for her.

In my stash is every color of yarn in the known universe (even lime green)—except, of course, the particular shade of purple she wanted, so I had to order some.

I knew that Knit Picks had lots of shades of purple in the fiber I wanted to use (cotton blend) and yarn weight I needed (sport), so I sent them three to choose from.

Three strikes.

What other purples are there, they wanted to know.

Nope, nope, and nope.

Not quite what they had in mind, they said. Anything else?


“One more,” I wrote, “but it’s 100% acrylic. It will be soft, but not as soft as the other two that are cotton blends.”

Knit Picks Brava Sport in freesia.

Soft shmoft, acrylic shmacrylic. That’s the color she wanted.

When the yarn arrived, I was in the midst of swatching for a new design, and I ended up knitting an entirely different this-exact-color-purple t-shirt for my SIL.

But the skeins of Brava Sport are so generous and my SIL is so tiny that I had enough yarn left over to knit her a this-exact-color-purple Hermosa Tee.

The back.

Well, almost enough yarn.


*By “really liked” I mean that she saw it and said, “That’s nice.” She’s not one to gush.

To Ponder: Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions. When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need. |-Richard G. Scott-|


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.


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-|

How a Giant Ball of Yarn Came Out of a Sailing Class

The first thing that happened is that I read a post on the Classic Elite blog about making a magic ball of yarn.

The idea is to make your own variegated yarn by tying different yarns together. They suggest that you get a bunch of friends together who bring their yarn leftovers and odd balls—they called it a “magic ball party”—and swap out yarns.

Introverts don’t need parties or believe in magic, but I liked the idea.

The second thing that happened is that I had bunches of lengths of yarn from the zillion projects I’ve knit over the past few months. I snip them off, then pile them on the table next to my knitting loveseat with the intention of walking them over to my kitchen trash can at some point.*

The third thing that happened is that I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. I’m not very good at sailing, so we’ll skip over that part.

After all the talk of sheets and lines, jibs and jibes, and tacks and booms, we learned how to tie a few knots—a cleat knot, a figure eight, a bowline, and a square knot. I was especially interested in the last one because you can join two balls of yarn using a square knot.

Well, most people can join two balls of yarn that way. I tried a few times, but could never get the hang of it, so I usually do a spit splice.

After the class, though, I’m a master square knot tyer (tie-er?).

And 1+2+3=

200g of yarn.

After crossing and re-crossing my left and right brains while designing my Icelandic sweater, I needed something mindless to knit, so I picked up some US9 needles, cast on 50 stitches, and started the most mindless of all knitting: a garter stitch scarf.

I hope this looks better when I’m finished.

I’ll have to leave the ends poking out for the simple reason that there’s no way I’m going to weave them all in.

*See? Sometimes good things come from procrastination.

To Ponder: We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life. |-Joshua Glenn Clark-|

Changing the Name of My Blog

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to A Texas Girl Sucks, and here’s why:

I made a ridiculous rookie mistake while knitting The Sweater.

Everything I’ve submitted lately has been rejected.

My truck stopped running for no reason at all.

Heck, I even ordered something from Amazon to be delivered 2nd day just so I could give my UPS guy the Christmas gift I bought for him weeks ago, and the package was delivered by FedEx.

Anyone else feel like it’s a good thing breathing is an automatic body process?

To Ponder: The real problem is most of us are idiots. We just like to think we’re not idiots because we use sh*t a bunch of smart people figured out. But how many of us understand that sh*t? If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an email? |-Joe Rogan-|



Submission: Christmas Ornaments to Creative Knitting, and a Kerfuffle

A couple o’ weeks ago, I submitted a proposal to Creative Knitting magazine for their 60+ Christmas Knit Ornaments issue that’s scheduled for publication in August 2015.

That’s not a magazine I normally buy, mostly because I’m never excited enough about a design to give an issue shelf space in my collection.

Although if that were a strict rule, I would cancel my subscription to Vogue Knitting.

These sweaters are so sedate, VK had to shoot them on city streets just to give them life.

But as I’ve said before, I don’t have to love a magazine to design for it. And this special issue sounded interesting (in spite of all the exclamation points in their call for submissions).

There was, however, a kerfuffle in the Ravelry Designers forum about this call because Creative Knitting buys all rights, meaning they own the pattern forever and you won’t get the rights back after a year or two so you can sell it yourself, which is fairly standard in the industry. Some designers also thought that the pay range of $35–$75 per ornament (depending on complexity) was rather low, especially in light of the unfair rights situation.

Oh brother.

First*, even if you did get the rights back, there are so many free and adorable ornament patterns out there, you would have to be the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood to get any money for yours.

See? Cute and free.

And unless you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood, you probably wouldn’t be able to charge more than $1.00 for the pattern. And unless you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood^, you would be lucky to find 35 people to buy it.

So after you deduct all the fees to Ravelry and PayPal, you won’t even have enough money to buy yourself a small bottle of Crown Royal.

Only on the rocks.

One designer commented on the low compensation, and the editor who had posted the call said it’s because ‘on small items, there is less time spent on creating/designing/pattern writing compared to designing a garment, and only one size is required which means grading the pattern (i.e., doing brain-frying maths for all the sizes) isn’t necessary.’

Well, yes and no. It’s true that grading a pattern requires a lot more time and effort, which takes a lot of time and is therefore worth a lot more money, but writing a pattern for a small item is the same amount of trouble whether it’s a hat, a shawl, or a Christmas ornament—especially if the item has shaping or uses multiple colors or needs to be charted, which are all pretty much givens for an ornament—and Creative Knitting probably pays a lot more money for a hat.

Another complaint was about their contract procedures, but this post is getting too long (and possibly boring for my non-knitting readers), so I won’t go into it except to say that it does kind of suck, but Creative Knitting has been publishing 4–5 magazines a year since 2007, so everyone should stop acting like you have to promise your first-born to them.

So, after two weeks of ignoring daily reminders fired at me by my online calendar, I ignored the good opinions of other knitters, and through the magic of editing, turned some rejected lavender sachets into colorful Christmas ornaments and submitted them in the nick of time.

The way I see it, Creative Knitting needs 60+ patterns for this issue, so I have a decent chance of being accepted, made even better by the fact that at least three designers have no intention of submitting their ideas to these lowballing, rights-hoarding, secretive dirtbags who are going to send them free yarn and a check for the full amount; professionally photograph their ornament; and then publish it in an international magazine.

Pretty much the only thing no one complained about is that they don’t let you know if you’ve been rejected. The way it works is that if you don’t hear from them after 45 days, you just assume they don’t want your pattern.

That sucks.

Plus, I like that they’re calling it a Christmas issue rather than a Holiday issue.

*There is no second.

^And if you’re the Yarn Harlot or Jared Flood, you probably didn’t even read this call for submissions (or this blog post).

Knitty’s pay range is $75–$100 per item and your pattern is available to everyone in the world—including those Russian websites that have no respect for intellectual property—for free until the end of time. And I bet most of those complainers have responded to every single one of their calls for submission with nary a whimper about rights or compensation.

To Ponder: If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise. |-Anais Nin-|

Decision: Happy Hat by Little One-Skein Wonders

Yesterday afternoon, after spending the morning listening to different auto mechanics give me convincing but conflicting opinions about the exact same thing, and realizing that the reason my car is vibrating while driving is not even remotely related to the diagnosis another auto shop gave me and charged me $998.16 to fix*, I came home to an email from the editors of 101 Little One-Skein Wonders that my Happy Hat was accepted for publication.




To add to the glory, this is my first acceptance by a book that will be sold in bookstores and, more importantly, on Amazon.

The idea behind these one-skein books is that patterns use only a single skein† or less of yarn, so they’re usually accessories, like hats, scarves, mittens, fingerless mitts, purses, booties, blankies, etc. But the designer gets to choose the skein she uses. Some skeins have less than 50 yards of yarn and some can have more than 450 yards, and you can do lot with that much yarn.

There are several 101 One-Skein books in the series published by Storey Publishing and edited by Judith Durant. The first one has a general mix of patterns and yarns, and then later ones in the series have a specific focus: designer, sock yarn (i.e., fiddley) luxury yarn, (i.e., expensive) and lace. And if anyone is interested, there’s also one for crochet.

(Those are all Ravelry links; click the pic below to see the books on Amazon. )

The company I’ll be keeping.

This Little One-Skein Wonders collection is for babies and toddlers, and their mommies, and while I don’t know anything about any of that, I do know how to make a small hat.

I submitted my pattern way back in February, and they said they would notify everyone by early spring. Seeing as we’re a month into summer in the northern hemisphere, this added a mild shock to the surprise of the acceptance‡.

In the call for submissions, they had asked that you supply an SASE with enough postage to cover the return of your sample if it wasn’t accepted, but I didn’t do that. I told them I didn’t need it returned to me and suggested they donate the hat to a hospital. (Not because I’m altruistic, but because I’m frugal.) Plus, if I decided to self-publish the hat, I would knit it in wool rather than the neon green washable nylon/acrylic blend I used for this submission.

Publications usually email when it’s a yes and return your sample or swatch when it’s a no, so when I first saw the email from them, I figured they made an exception because they, too, were too frugal to spring for return postage.

A taste of Happy.

The best part is that I don’t have to do anything. They wanted you to submit the completed pattern, along with the knitted item for them to photograph, so all the work has been done.

They’re going to get back to me in February with contracts and pattern layout for review.

Let’s hope they photograph it on a baby who is charismatic enough to make the cover.

*You’re welcome, “Christian” Brothers, for my help in earning you another award for profitability from the corporate office. Too bad they don’t issue awards for integrity.

†Yarn also comes in balls and hanks, and those would be acceptable for this collection, but the title One-Ball Wonders can be construed too many other ways and One-Hank Wonders is just silly.

‡There might be one small glitch, however. Remember how I just told you that I combined the stitch pattern for a hat that a book didn’t want with a tank top shape for my proposal to knit.wear? Um, yeah.

p.s. I would have congratulated myself with this, but I need to save up money to get my car fixed properly.

To Ponder: We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. |Lloyd Alexander|

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.

220 x X* = Insanity

*Where X is the number of times I’ve counted to 220.

I started a new knitting project—Lucie Sinkler’s #23 Sleeveless Top from Vogue Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2003 issue. I like the shape of this top (which is not sleeveless, but rather has cap sleeves) and the fact that it’s seamless. I don’t like the air vents at the sides, so I’ll be leaving them out. (If you had seen the chart for those things, you’d do the same.)

I’m using Knit Picks’ slippery Shine Sport in Currant and slippery Addi Turbo needles. (Don’t ask if I swatched because I didn’t.)

Only one thing is better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

I cast on 220 stitches using my favorite Chinese Waitress cast-on (which took 45 minutes), joined for knitting in the round checking several times that I didn’t twist the line of stitches, and began knitting. It starts with three garter ridges, which means three rounds of purling 220 stitches.

I finally got to the stockinette rounds and added a little cable detail that’s supposed to continue up and along the raglan decreases.

After about six hours and 12 rounds, I had this:

3,960 stitches, 660 of them purled.

After I realized that I had twisted the line of stitches and would have to start over, I had this:

And then I had this**:

Zero stitches.

And then I had this:

The only thing better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

And then I had this:

My knitting hubris will prevent me from doing this next time.

You’ll notice that my cast on has little binder clips on it. This tip to clip your stitches in place so the slippery yarn on the slippery needles doesn’t deceive you into believing that they’re lined up properly is from the surprisingly helpful book Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets.

I again cast on 220 stitches and again joined for knitting in the round, absolutely certain that I had not twisted the line of stitches. I worked one round, counting each stitch as I knit it, and came up with 210.

Can someone please subscribe me to a wine-o-the-month club?

**To rub a little salt in my wound, when I tried to frog the yarn onto the ball winder, it kept knotting itself because of the twist, so I had to hand-wind it.