a finished hat, and a bunch of new stuff!

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M's new hat.

I finished M’s ribbed hat today! I decided to give it an extra little special detail, and stitched M’s initials onto a little strip of fleece that I then stitched onto the folded brim. My sewing wasn’t as neat as I’d hoped…and I’d briefly entertained the idea of stitching the initials through both sides (since M has awesome initials that are the same upside-down as rightside-up!) but that turned out to be trickier than I could manage. Maybe with more hand-sewing practice!

M's new hat.

It was really hard to capture the color of the yarn with my camera – the color is “Shy Girl” from Madelinetosh and it’s a combination of mostly red with some pink and then little flashes of greenish yellow and blue. M loves it!

top of M's hat.

I also finished the knitting of the Octopus Yoke cardigan, and it’s just waiting for me to finish weaving in the ends and block it before steeking it open. And then I have to find a zipper and sew it in. It’ll happen, I promise!

But in the meantime, I did a little bit of stash-reorganizing, and in the process, acquired a case of “startitis”, and cast on for new projects. Here is one of them:

a new Elle Melle for M

The pattern should be familiar by now, given that I’ve already knit two (one for younger M, and one for me): it’s Elle Melle! I found the two cones of Harrisville Shetland that I’d bought a couple of years ago (when M first outgrew her old Elle Melle) and couldn’t resist the urge to cast on. I just find the ridges so irresistible to knit!

Another project I cast on for is Vita de Vie, for me:

Vita de Vie, for me!

The construction of the pattern is a new one for me – you knit up the sleeves, then cast on to knit the body sideways, and end up kitchenering the two halves together up the middle. I’m a little nervous about whether it’s going to work out, not so much because of the construction, but because of the yarn I’m using: it’s Beaverslide Sport/Sock yarn, in “Lemongrass”, but one of the skeins got mangled by one of our cats, so is now in several small balls, and I realized after I’d cast on using one of those small balls that the mangled skein is actually a noticeably different dyelot than the other two skeins I have.

Slightly contrasting cuff

So I used it for the cuff and then switched to the dyelot I have more of; I’ll do the same thing at the cuff of the other sleeve, and for the ribbing at the bottom, too. I’m just a little paranoid that two skeins of the Sport/Sock won’t be enough to do the whole rest of the body, but we shall see – if I can finish the first half with one skein, then I’ll know I’m good! If not…I’ll just have to rip it out. We’ll see!

I actually cast on for a third new project (I wasn’t kidding about the “startitis”!): the “Baa-ble Hat”, in various colors of Shelter that I had single skeins of in my stash, but I didn’t get a picture of it. It’s just an inch or so of 2×2 ribbing at the moment, so not exactly thrilling to look at, anyway.

I’ll close with one more picture of my adorable child, who is very happy with her new hat:

happy toothless girl

The semester is almost over, so maybe I’ll actually be able to make good progress on these new projects, eh?

a birthday, and octopus cardigan progress

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M made me a birthday cupcake!

Yesterday I celebrated my 36th birthday! I had an incredibly busy day at work, followed by M’s violin lesson and my own orchestra rehearsal, but topped it off with a concert – my husband got tickets to Joshua Bell’s performance with the Eastman Philharmonic and it was wonderful. He played the Bruch violin concerto, which has always been special to me, as it was one of the two concertos (the other was the Mendelssohn) that were on a CD that my first violin teacher gave me when she passed me to my next violin teacher, with the words, “I look forward to hearing you play these!” on the card that was taped to the CD cover. I listened to that CD over and over and over, and thought that would never happen, but it turned out that the Bruch violin concerto was the first (and last) solo piece I played with an orchestra, back when I was in high school. It was really lovely to hear it played last night, and my fingers were dancing along with the music. (I’d sound like garbage on it now, I think…those high school days are now officially at least half a lifetime ago!)

Anyway, besides turning one year older, I’ve also been making progress on M’s Octopus Yoke cardigan, and it was in a state where I could get her to try it on:

Trying on the sweater-in-progress

Always a relief to see that it’s fitting, especially when I’m knitting bottom-up, which makes it harder to tell. She’s excited about the idea of being a cardigan, and she REALLY wants me to put a zipper in it, so I guess that’s what I’ll be doing!

Imagining the future zipper closure.

I need to switch to a smaller cable before the next round of decreases (it barely fits on the needle as-is!) but fewer stitches means faster progress – I think this’ll be finished before the end of April, which means M will be able to wear it for Show and Tell at the final Rochester Knitting Guild meeting of the year. (Maybe I’ll show off my new stripey sweater then, too!)

From the back

After this sweater, I’m not sure what’ll be next on my needles – there are so many possible sweaters I could knit just from what I have in my stash, both other people’s patterns and designs of my own that I want to knit up. We’ll see!

am i a designer?

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In my last post, I mentioned having complicated thoughts about publishing patterns for the things I’ve designed recently, and since I’m in a very brief window of time in the semester where I don’t actually have any student work that needs feedback (that changes tomorrow!), I’m going to try to think through those thoughts in writing, as is my way. I’m prompted to think about publishing patterns because there’s been interest expressed in a pattern for the sweater I just finished, and I don’t have a good answer for people as to when I’ll be releasing a pattern for it. Maybe this summer? Maybe never?

pockets!

I mean, I’ve knit a lot of things of my own design in the years since my daughter was born, always thinking that I’d maybe publish them…I mean, I literally probably have a full book worth of designs for parents + kids…and I have published precisely zero patterns since then. This isn’t a coincidence; it turns out that having a baby, finishing a Ph.D, and starting a full-time faculty position haven’t left me with much time to devote to pattern-writing! My brain still comes up with design ideas, and I still have the skills to turn those ideas into reality for myself and my daughter, but knitting a bespoke sweater/hat/mitten and writing a pattern so that ANYONE can knit one are very different things.

Should've made the sleeves a bit longer, too!
One of the many options for a “parent-child” knits collection

One big positive change that has been taking place in the knit design world (and also in the sewing pattern design world, I think?) is the push towards more inclusive sizing. This is WONDERFUL! I’m really excited about it. But it’s also something I don’t really know how to do. I mostly design for myself (or my child), and that’s the body I know how to fit. Mine is not exactly a “standard” body; I do have a 34” bust measurement, which is often “sample” size for sweater patterns, but since I’m quite flat-chested, the circumference mostly comes from a big ribcage, so my fit considerations are a bit different than those of someone whose 34” bust comes via a C-cup. My point, though, is that even with my not-quite-model-standard body, I’m still solidly in the “standard” size range, and as problematic as that range is, it is what I am intimately familiar with, and it’s the body I can easily use to model my own designs (which, as I mentioned earlier, are usually designed *for me* in the first place…but since I’m a petite white lady, using myself as the model if I want to create inclusive patterns feels a little problematic). And when it comes to inclusive sizing, maybe this is the perfectionist in me talking, but I really, really don’t want to do it wrong or badly. I’d rather not publish designs at all than publish designs that aren’t size-inclusive, but I also only want to publish size-inclusive patterns if I can do a GOOD job of it. If anyone knows of good resources for learning more about sizing for all bodies, please point me to them!

We never took “real” finished photos of M’s Stripes! Cardigan at the time when I finished it. It’s crazy cold today but she was a good sport about modeling!
Yet another option for a parent-child knits collection

I think another issue I have when I think about whether or not to dip my toes back into the “designer” waters is that I’m not even remotely a natural “entrepreneur”: I’m really, truly, deeply clueless about all of the logistics involved in pattern publishing and promotion. Like, if I wanted to publish a book of parent-child knits (I certainly have enough design ideas to fill one)…how?? How does that actually work? Do I just decide I’m going to do it, or do I reach out to some publishers, or what? And if I just decide I’m going to do it, via self-publishing…how? Or is it better to do individual patterns, rather than a collection? I think I’d be more comfortable collaborating with someone else on a pattern collection than doing one all by my lonesome (this tends to be true of me in many domains; I’m a great research collaborator, for example, but am pretty lousy about getting stuff done as a solo researcher).

Cutie patootie
And another for the parent-child collection

I’ve also never actually sought out yarn support before; the only times I’ve worked with yarns that weren’t from my stash were when I designed for Twist Collective and for Wool People, and that was all handled by People Who Weren’t Me. So I don’t know how that part of things works, either. I’d be happy to design patterns for yarns that are in my stash, as a way of knitting the stash down, but many of those are discontinued. I don’t know much about the pattern sales world, but I do know that patterns that use “popular”, currently-available yarns sell better. I tend to prefer knitting and designing with fairly “basic” woolen-spun yarns, which don’t tend to be as “popular” as the hand-dyed superwash merino sock yarns and such (though it seems there’s a growing “niche” interest in the more basic wool yarns, which makes me happy!)

a girl and her leaf.
I actually wrote a pattern for this hat (and matching mittens) but haven’t done anything with it

Which actually brings me to another piece of things that I have a lot of complicated feelings about, which is the necessity of self-promotion and the tangled relationships between pattern creators and yarn creators and how all of that plays out on social media. I mean, I can be quite the evangelist for things I’m excited about, but I’m not always comfortable with self-promotion and publicity, and I don’t think I have it in me to promote a pattern (or collection) the way that I see others doing. I’m intimidated by that kind of use of social media, and it also feels like a minefield to me. The minefield aspect isn’t inherently bad – I mean, I do want people to be thinking about the ethics of their choice of yarn, and the diversity of their models, and their language, and to be held accountable for all of those things – but I think doing that well (and showing accountability when you fall short) requires an amount of energy and attention devoted to online life that I frankly don’t have, as someone who would always be doing this work alongside being a professor and a parent and a musician…that is, very much part-time.

Doing a pocket quality-control check.
I’ve never actually knit a grown-up sized one of these, but I want to!

But I don’t actually aspire to be a “big name designer” or sell enough patterns to make a living at it, so maybe I’m overthinking things. Maybe I can just write the patterns for the designs I’ve created, in the biggest size range I can do well, publish them via Ravelry, and not worry about whether anyone buys them. But is that worth the time and energy and money I would have to put into creating the patterns?

mama-daughter
Yet another set for the parent-child knits collection

There’s actually something kind of delightful about the fact that in the last few years, my design efforts have been solely focused on myself and my daughter – that is, we have knit garments that are absolutely bespoke, and writing those designs up as patterns would mean inviting others to make the things that I’ve designed for my daughter and for myself.

Octopus Yoke with M as model
I know a few adults who’d like this to be a pattern in their size, too

One part of me thinks that it would be exciting to see other people knitting and wearing a sweater with octopuses around the yoke, or the garter-yoked vests that I’ve made for M, or the bohus-style yoked sweaters, or, or…but another part of me likes that those are OUR sweaters, unique to us. I’ve also considered just expanding my usual practice of posting detailed notes about my design process as I knit things, which adventurous knitters could absolutely use as guidance for their own projects, but I’m not sure how I feel about that; I’m especially concerned about “devaluing” the work that goes into actual pattern writing if I offer things up for free.

I love this sweater!
I am clueless!

So my answer to the “when will a pattern be released?” question is still a solid “I don’t know.”

things i knit for me: stripey pocketed sweater!

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Finished sweater, all blocked!

Ok, yeah, this sweater TOTALLY needs a better name. I’m still not 100% I’m going to write a pattern for this (maybe I’ll write a post about my complicated feelings about trying to publish patterns for my designs). If I do, does anyone want to help me come up with a name?

Project Details:
Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: my own, inspired by a sweater I designed for M
Yarn: De Rerum Natura Ulysse in “Ciel” and “Lagon”
Needles: Size 5 (for stockinette), size 2 (for garter)
Time to Knit: about 3 months (with a LOT of reknitting in the mix)

I was so excited that my sweater had dried after blocking and the sun was still up this evening, so I tried to take some pictures outside. It was, however, INCREDIBLY windy, so it turned out to be pretty tricky to get good photos!

windy evening for photos!

Y’all, I was already pretty madly in love with the De Rerum Natura Ulysse yarn before, but post-blocking? It’s freaking magical. So unbelievably soft and the fabric is almost felt-like in that way that only woolen-spun yarns can create.

This sweater is SO SOFT post-blocking

I tried to take some detail shots of the sweater, but the harsh sunlight and limited options for balancing my camera made it pretty tricky. Here’s my attempt at capturing the split hem:

Odd-angle photo

Eventually, this sweetheart came outside and asked if she could help:

my awesome photo-helper

She got one good photo of the sweater outside before we gave up:

My daughter took this photo

Then we went inside and took more pictures in our usual spot – the glass door leading out to the deck lets in really nice natural light for photos, so though the cluttered table/etc background isn’t the best, it really is a great spot for sweater pictures!

modeling the blocked sweater

I’m just so stupendously happy with how this sweater turned out!

Sweater back.

The fit is just PERFECT and I think I’m going to end up wearing this sweater a lot. I’m already planning to wear it to work tomorrow – my students will be entertained to see me wearing the sweater that they saw me knitting during their peer feedback workshops earlier in the semester!

Yay, sweater!

Next on the docket for finishing: M’s octopus cardigan, which has been waiting for me to join the yoke for over a month!