Monday, August 31, 2015

My design process: Part 3- Knit it! (and write it down)

Now I will knit out my new pattern to see if it turns out the way I've imagined it. With my calculations, I have a starting point and I can cast on and start knitting away!

knitting, purse, pink, work in progress, yarn

Sometimes I have to make pieces over again because they don't turn out how I think they will. When designing my Lacy Baseball Tee pattern, I had to rip out and redo the shoulders and neck several times before I was satisfied with the way it looked. Fortunately, this purse is pretty simple, so it has turned out exactly as I thought it would.

Whenever I'm working out a pattern, I keep track of what I'm doing. I don't want to have to rework a pattern just because I didn't write down what I was doing along the way. Sometimes it's as simple as notes in a sketch book or on the back of a yarn wrapper, but I've been trying to use my computer as much as possible. It saves so much time later! The more details that I am able to add as I go along, the better. When I'm ready to edit the pattern I will already have a rough draft started. It is also much easier to make adjustments to a Word document than hand written notes if things don't work out the first time. 

After I have all of the pieces knit, I will need to do the finishing work. For this project, that will include sewing some fabric with a machine in addition to the sewing up with yarn that is normally involved in finishing a project.

Check out the rest of the posts in this series:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Summer Sale!

I'm having sales in both my Etsy shop and my Ravelry store!

If you need some adorable knitted animals or accessories, check out my Etsy shop. All items are 20% off this week! Do some back to school shopping, or get a jump on some Christmas shopping. I currently have lots of items to choose from including several colors of T-Rex toys, lots of block set options, lace covered vases, hair clips and more! There are also a few items already marked down for even better savings!

etsy, sale, shop, coupon, discount

If you are a knitter and want to try out some of my lovely patterns, everything in my Ravelry store is on sale for 25% off! There are several toy patterns available including the T-Rex, Football and Puppy Dog Playset as well as my Classic Christmas Stocking pattern. It's time to start thinking about Christmas knitting and many of my patterns make great gifts. No coupon code needed, simply place the patterns you want in your cart and check out!

ravelry, pattern, knitting, sale, discount

I hope that you are all having a wonderful summer! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My design process: Part 2- Swatch, Gauge and Calculation

After I have a plan for my design, it is time to knit a swatch. I try to make it at least 3" wide by 3" tall to give plenty of room for checking the gauge.

yarn, winding, swift, ball, pink, hank,
Winding the yarn.

There are a few reasons for making a gauge swatch. When knitting from a pattern, it helps ensure that you will get a finished product with the same measurements listed in the pattern. If you don't knit a gauge swatch and you knit tighter or looser than the designer of the pattern, you may be in for a surprise (and frustration) when your sweater is finished and it doesn't fit. Gauge is especially important for things like garments, but isn't as vital when making things like toys or purses. However, skipping this step may give you a finished product with a different look and size than the one in the pattern.

When designing, knitting a swatch is necessary for figuring out how many stitches you will need at different points in the project. With this purse it is much simpler than with a garment. I will only need to figure out how many stitches to cast on. I won't need to worry about increasing or decreasing because there is no shaping. Also the row count doesn't matter since I will simply work until it is the desired height.

The swatch also provides me with a sample fabric before I commit to a certain stitch pattern or needle size for the whole project. Sometimes the fabric might feel too stiff and I will need to go up a needle size or two. Other times, the stitches are too open and smaller needles are necessary. I also may not like how the stitch pattern looks and will try different ones until I find one that works.

gauge, swatch, stitch, pattern, knitting, needle, yarn, pink

My swatch fabric is a bit firm, but that is exactly what I want for this project. If I were making a sweater with this yarn and stitch pattern, I would probably use slightly bigger needles.

measuring, gauge, swatch, yarn, knitting, tool, pink

I use a Susan Bates "Knit Chek" or a tape measure to see how many stitches per inch there are. There are about 4 stitches per inch on my swatch. I want the purse to be about 20 inches around (10 inches wide.) I simply multiply 4 stitches per inch by 20 inches to figure out that I need to cast on 80 stitches. This works perfectly for my stitch pattern, since working it requires a stitch count that is a multiple of two. 

Next, I will cast on and start knitting!

Check out the rest of the posts in this series:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My design process: Part 1- Planning

I thought it would be fun to give you a little peek into how I go about designing something. With my niece's birthday coming up, I was provided with the perfect opportunity. In this case, the original idea for the project came from her. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday this year. The answer? A hot pink purse with hot pink flowers that she can carry her library card in. Perfect! I can do that.

After I have the initial idea, I ruminate on it a bit. Sometimes I do internet searches to see what already exists. I want to make something original. I consider things like construction, shape, size, what yarn I want to use, etc. Should the purse have one handle or two? Does it need a flap? What about pockets? Sometimes I do sketches at this point to help me visualize different ideas. I decided with this purse to make it more of a book tote bag (she can still call it a purse if she wants) with a zipper pouch on the inside for her library card. I imagine it being the perfect bag for a trip to the library. She can bring books with her to return and take new ones home, all with her library card safe in the little pocket. Once I had the idea, I made a sketch with all of the things that I would like to incorporate into the design.

sketch, planning, knitting, pattern, writing, drawing, purse, bag

Before making the sketch, I went through my stash and found a yarn that I thought would work well for this project. It is, of course, hot pink. It is also washable, one of my requirements for children's items. This particular yarn is Swish Bulky from Knit Picks (still available in white only.) I had a couple of skeins that I got on sale when they were discontinuing the colors, which should be plenty for this project. I like the idea of using bulky yarn because of how quickly it will knit up, especially since I'm on a deadline. For the flowers I will probably use various shades of pink in other yarns.

I also looked through my fabric and found some to line the bag with that I think my niece will like. To help me choose a stitch for the main body of the bag, I flipped through my Harmony Guides. I decided on Double Moss Stitch. It is simple, but will add texture and a little bit more interest and hopefully a bit of thickness to the bag. I will probably use a needle size smaller than recommended to make a more solid fabric that will be more durable.

yarn, fabric, pink, flowers, stitch, pattern, book

The next step is swatching. If I like the way this stitch looks with this yarn, I will move forward with the project. Sometimes I have to try a few stitch patterns before deciding. This can be because the stitch I chose looks different with the yarn I'm using compared to the yarn pictured in the book or because I want to see some options before committing. After I swatch, I will do a bit of math and cast on! Now I will see how my ideas translate into yarn and make adjustments to my design if needed.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cleaning out the project shelves

One of the things on my project to do list this summer has been cleaning out and finishing old projects. I keep my works in progress in plastic bins on shelves in my studio (or near the couch if I'm currently working on them) and many of the projects have been there for years. They are in various states of completion, some just with yarn colors picked out and a few that just needed a tad bit of finishing done. Apparently I lost steam and didn't feel like seaming the last time I worked on them.

Here are some of the projects I had in the works that I have now completed. (It is also helping me with another item on the to do list- add more items to my Etsy shop.)

In one project bin I found a few blocks all knitted up that just needed to be sewn together. And as usually happens when I work on the blocks, I kept thinking of more color combinations that I wanted to try. I actually now have two more sets in need of sewing up, so I didn't really succeed in clearing out this project bin, but I did get a few more items for my shop! It is nice to have lots of color options for people to choose from. I now have some boy friendly colors, some girl friendly ones and the sets that I still need to sew up are neutrals. Hopefully the variety will provide something for everyone, though there are always custom orders if it doesn't.

knitted, blocks, toy, baby, yarn, purple, pink, teal, abc, 123, letter, number

knitted, blocks, toy, baby, yarn, green, sage, white, pink, abc, 123, letter, number

Another project that never seems to end is hair clips. There are so many options and they are fairly quick to make. Before I knew it, I had several sets finished.

crochet, flowers, clips, hair, baby, girls, barrette, pink, hot pink, purple

crochet, flowers, clips, hair, baby, girls, barrette, pink, hot pink, white

crochet, flowers, clips, hair, baby, girls, barrette, red, maroon

This last project is one that I haven't worked on in a few years. It is one of my first attempts at designing my own knitted animal. I wrote the pattern for the Little Red Riding Kitty a few years ago, but haven't finished editing it to post it for sale. For now, I finished the half done ones that I had. The one below only needed eyes and a mouth embroidered and the ends on the cape tied in! I had another cape that was bigger, so I had to make another kitty, but since I hadn't used the pattern in so long, I just followed as directed first and ended up with a second small kitty. I thought it would be fun to have a shorter green cape and make a Robin Hood version. When I finish editing the pattern, I will add that option to the directions.

little, red, riding, hood, kitty, toy, cat, stuffed, animal, knitted, gray

little, robin, hood, kitty, toy, cat, stuffed, animal, knitted, gray, green

There are still many more half finished projects on my shelves, and I'm always adding new ones! I'm hoping to turn my focus to developing some new patterns which are in the very early design stages. Hopefully I can make progress on those before school starts, I can't believe how quickly the summer is going!