Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gift-A-Long Designer Interview: Marnie MacLean

One of the other 292 participating designers in the GAL this year is Marnie MacLean (Marnie MacLean Designs) or Marnie in Ravelry. You can see all of her patterns here. Get 25% off her participating knitting patterns during the Gift-A-Long sale from November 13-21 with the code “giftalong2014.”

When did you start designing and why? 
Well, technically I started designing knits in junior high school, probably 25 years ago, if my math is right. I would knit hats for myself and, as weird as this sounds, I crocheted a blanket for some raccoons. My best friend's family ran a wildlife rehabilitation center and the baby raccoons were the cutest thing you've ever seen. Raccoons explore their world with their hands, which are very sensitive. I made a crochet blanket with old keys and other interesting textures, worked in, for them to play with and tear to pieces. That's exactly what they did. But I really didn't get designing in earnest until about 2003, when I started posting the projects I made for myself, for free online. It would take quite a few more years for me to refine my skills, and my patterns to the point where I thought they are of a sufficient quality to start selling. Every year I learn a few more skills and try to make my patterns better. I started on a whim, but I keep doing it because I absolutely love seeing other knitters and crocheters make my designs.

What is your favorite pattern you have design to date and why? 
According to ravelry, I'm up to 114 designs so there are a few to choose from. I try to always design stuff that excites me, so that even if it's a flop, I can still feel good about the project. I guess my favorite is often one I've designed recently. I'd probably choose the Willowherb pullover at this very moment. I really like the asymmetrical motif placement on the body, the darts and the soft gray color of the yarn.

And if I had to choose from my few crochet designs, Aasha would be the favorite of the bunch. I just love that border motif and I spent a lot of time trying to create charts that would make crocheting the design easy even for people who are relatively new to crochet.

What is your least favorite pattern you have design to date and why? 
A lot of my older designs, from before I started designing professionally, are below the standards I hold myself to now. I leave them up for free because people still knit them and I am happy to have people use them as jumping off points. They are also good reminders of how far I've come. They are part of the reason I try to offer so many tutorials for aspiring designers, on my blog, There aren't really training programs for designers and I was lucky to be able to start before people had high expectations for online patterns. I want to help other designers have a positive experience designing for an audience who expects much more, now. 

What inspire you to design? 
I think, like most designers, inspiration can come from a variety of places including historical fashion, costumes in movies, TV, and live performances, runway shows, people on the street, things seen in nature and necessity, and sometimes, there is no inspiration, per se. I publish pretty regularly and I don't always have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. I find that simply pushing myself to design is inspiration enough.

What is your design process?
In most cases, I have a rough idea of what I'm going to do either because I've created a submission for publication or I've pitched an idea to a yarn company who will be providing yarn support. The first thing I do, once I have my swatch, is to calculate and chart out everything for the pattern. I don't write the pattern, but I have all the numbers for all sizes (if it's multi-sized) and all the charts in the final form so I can actually test what I plan to use in the final pattern. This is especially important in shawls with larger charts and garments in many sizes. If I can't multi-size the pattern in a logical way, there's no point in knitting the sample. Better to find a solution that works for all sizes and make sure the sample is a good match for the final pattern. Once the sample is knit, it's usually only a couple hours of work to get everything finalized for the publisher or tech editor. Since I'm updating numbers as I go, I don't need to worry about reverse engineering the finished sample, when I'm under deadline.

What is your favorite yarn (fiber, weight)? 
I guess that all depends on what I'm knitting. For shawls, there's something absolutely magical about a lace weight yarn with some silk in it. While they aren't always as practical to wear because they are so delicate, the gauzy fabric is breathtaking in even the simplest stitch pattern. For garments, I'm most fond of merino and merino blends. I love pieces that are fitted, or semi-fitted and merino is soft enough to wear near the skin and has tons of natural elasticity. A DK weight is my go-to choice for most garments. It's thick enough that a sweater doesn't take too long to knit but not so thick that it can only be worn a few weeks of the year.

What is your favorite needle/hook?
Almost everything I knit is worked on a US 4, 5 or 6 needle (3.5-4mm). For crochet, I love my US D, E and F (3.25-3.75 mm) but the best needle or hook is always the one that makes the fabric look best.
Which of your pattern make for really great gift? 
Well, I think shawls are a great option for gifts, if your recipient would like one. They don't need to be sized to fit a particular person's shape and worked in a sturdy sock yarn they make wonderful scarves in winter and beautiful accessories in warmer weather. Eight of my shawl patterns are part of the GAL. I also have a hat and mitten set, Uchiwa, that would make for a quick knit for someone who doesn't like shawls.

Does anything intimidate you in knitting or crochet?
I don't think anyone should be intimidated by knitting or crocheting. Practice with inexpensive yarn, if a technique is new, but other than steeks and yarns that are damaged by a lot of ripping and reworking, almost everything you do in knitting and crocheting, can be undone. I've been knitting and crocheting long enough that I've made almost any mistake you can dream of, and I'm a better designer for it. It's the lessons you learn the hard way that teach you the most.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gift-A-Long Designer Interview: Sarah Jordan

As part of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry, I will be interviewing 2 of the 293 participating designers. The first one is Sarah Jordan (Knit/Wit) or PAKnitWit in Ravelry. You can see all of her patterns here. Get 25% off participating knitting patterns during the Gift-A-Long sale from November 13-21 with the code “giftalong2014.”

When did you start designing and why?
I think it all started back in 2011. I had an idea for a pair of colorwork mittens in my head but couldn’t find anything on Ravelry that remotely resembled what I’d envisioned. So I decided to design them myself!

What is your favorite pattern you have design to date and why?
That’s a bit like asking a parent which child is their favorite, isn’t it? ;-) I guess if I had to pick, I’d say Leventry. It’s been my most popular pattern to date and it was a design that just worked exactly as I’d hoped from start to finish.

What is your least favorite pattern you have design to date and why?
The designs that don’t work out or that I don’t like once they’re in yarn typically don’t see the light of day. I have a bunch of sketches and swatches from these failed ideas, and someday they might be tweaked into something better.

What inspires you to design?
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes I see color patterns or architectural elements that I find particularly interesting. Sometimes I’ll see someone on the street with an interesting commercially made sweater on (and I’ll sneak a photo). Sometimes it’s the yarn. Most often, I get ideas as I’m lying in bed, right before I fall asleep. Ideas sneak up on me at the oddest times, and as a result, I have a rather large collection of notes and sketches on bits of paper.

What is your design process?
In most cases, it starts with an idea and a sketch. Sometimes, if it’s an item I knit a lot, I can plan out the whole piece from the beginning, but usually I’m working out and tweaking the design on the needles. If it’s something with texture or lace, I’ll often work up a rough draft of a chart and then adjust it as I knit. Sometimes it takes several swatches and prototypes before I get it right.

What is your favorite yarn (fiber, weight)?
I love natural fibers -- wool, primarily. I love the memory and the spring that it has. I use a wide variety of weights in my designing and knitting in general, but I seem to come back to fingering weight yarn again and again. It’s so versatile -- it can be used at a firm gauge for socks, a slightly looser gauge for hats and mitts/mittens, and an even looser gauge for shawls and garments. And I love that a single skein of sock yarn can be used for so many things.

What is your favorite needle/hook?
That’s a tough one! I tend to use smaller needles (usually US 6/4.0 mm or smaller), and strangely I seem to often have multiple projects on the needles using the same size. I use circular needles almost exclusively, and I always use metal needles. My current favorites are ChiaoGoo Red Lace and Addi Rockets.

Which of your patterns make for really great gift?
I think they all would! Nearly all of my patterns are accessories or other small items (I only have one sweater pattern in my shop). I also currently have a dishcloth pattern, Clean Up, Eat Up, that’s a fun, quick knit, and all proceeds from its sale go to Feeding America, which is an organization that supports local food banks across the United States.

Does anything intimidate you in knitting or crochet?
I’m willing to try anything, though certainly some more advanced color techniques are a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve never done double knitting or illusion knitting. I kind of understand how they work, but I’m the type of person who has to do something to fully understand it. Crochet is another story. I know how to crochet (well, the bare basics), but I haven’t done much of it in years. I’m really amazed by some of the incredibly intricate crochet designs out there!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ravelry’s 2014 Indie Designer Gift-A-Long!

It’s a chance to save some $$ on your favorite gift patterns, participate in knit/crochet-a-longs, share photos of your finished projects, see what others are making, win prizes and HAVE FUN! In other words, it’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

From November 13, 8pm EST through November 21, 11:59pm EST 293 indie designers will be discounting between 4 – 20 of their patterns 25% off for this event with coupon code “giftalong2014” (Ravelry only). Click here for a list of participating designers.

Once you’ve got your Gift-A-Long patterns, please join a relevant KAL/CAL (this is optional, but who doesn't want prizes?). For instance, if it is a shawl, please join the shawl KAL/CAL. KAL/CAL participants are eligible for lots of lovely prizes (check out the Prizes thread for details) and digital prizes (1,866) but you gotta post to win!

Almost 300 independent designers from Ravelry have banded together to offer their best gift patterns at a discount of 25% off (you gotta use the coupon code “giftalong2014” to get the discount) from now through Nov. 21, EST. In addition, all patterns by participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CALs. All self-published, paid for designs are eligible to win prizes. Last, designers will be monitoring the various KAL/CAL to see if there are any questions. And did I mention there will be prizes, lot’s of prizes-almost 2,000-with lots of chances to win. KAL/CALs will run until December 31st, plenty of time to knock out all your holiday knitting and crocheting.

Since I am one of designer that join this Gift-A-Long, I am also offering 25% discount on these patterns. So, if you like them, and haven't got them, this is your chance to get it in lower price. Remember, you have use the coupon code “giftalong2014” to get the 25% off. I can’t wait to see all your finished items!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Heart On Fire Shawl Pattern For Sale

And I won’t let you go,
Now you know,
I’ve been crazy for you all this time.
I’ve kept it close Always hoping
With a heart on fire

Heart on Fire is a crescent shaped shawl with patterning on both the right and wrong sides but it is easy enough to memorize and knit. Pattern includes charts and row by row written directions. If you would like to add beads to your shawl, instructions are included on where to place the beads.

Technical Editor: Chaitanya Muralidhara

Suggested yarn: Rendezvous Pleasure

Yardage needed: See Table
For small size shawl I used Rendezvous Pleasure (400 yd / 365 m per 50 g skein; 55% Cashmere, 45% Silk) in Precious colorway - 1 skein.
For medium size shawl I used Rendezvous Pleasure (400 yd/ 365 m per 50 g skein; 55% Cashmere, 45% Silk) in Rust colorway - 2 skeins.

Finished Sizes (in blocking board): See Table

Needle: Lace/Fingering Weight: At least 24” / 60 cm long circular needles size 3.5 mm (US 4).

Notions: Tapestry needle, blocking pins, size 16 US / 0.60 mm steel crochet hook for beads (optional), stitch markers, removable stitch markers/scrap yarn, size 8/0 glass seed beads for lace weight yarn or size 6/0 glass seed beads for fingering weight yarn (optional) see table for quantity.

Level: Advanced.

All posts about this projects and more photos: click here.

Pattern is 9 pages in PDF includes charts, written directions and photo tutorials. Payment by Paypal and delivery by Ravelry, no accounts required. Credit cards accepted.

Heart on Fire Pattern Only:
USD 5.00,-
add to cart

Shawl Collection to Knit 4 ebook (Consist of: When The Flowers Bloom, Heart on Fire, Lightning Thief, Interview With The Vampire):
USD 15,-
add to cart

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

FO: Heart On Fire

Heart on Fire is a Mystery Knit Along started on July 24th and the last clue was published on August 21st. This pattern is the second pattern on the Shawl Collection to Knit 4 ebook (the first one is When The Flowers Bloom).

I made 3 shawls out of this pattern:

The first one is 19 repeats shawl in lace weight yarn. I didn't take the photo of this shawl because I didn't like the color of the yarn.

The second version, I made the same size, 19 repeats, however, this time I made it using fingering weight yarn.

Pattern: Heart on Fire (19 Repeats) 
Materials: Rendezvous Silky Temptation (440 yd/ 400 m per 100 g skein; 50% Superwash Merino, 50% Silk) in OOAK colorway 
Quantity: 1 skein 
Beads: TOHO Silver Lined Light Topaz Size 6 
Needle: 3.5 mm 
Start Date: 5 April 2014 
Finish Date: 13 April 2014 
Finished Size on Blocking Board: Wingspan: 126.5 cm / 49.8" ; Depth: 66 cm / 26" 

As for the last shawl, I made larger shawl using 2 skeins of lace weight yarn. I managed to make 30 repeats out of 2 skeins of yarn. Coincidentally, the color of this shawl matched my Dior handbag and I used them to attend my cousin's wedding.

Pattern: Heart on Fire (30 Repeats) 
Materials: Rendezvous Pleasure (400 yd / 365 m per 50 g skein; 55% Cashmere, 45% Silk) in Rust colorway 
Quantity: 2 skeins 
Beads: MIYUKI Silver Lined Dark Topaz AB size 8 
Needle: 3.5 mm 
Start Date: 8 May 2014 
Finish Date: 28 June 2014 
Finished Size on Blocking Board: Wingspan: 176 cm / 69.3" ; Depth: 50 / 19.7"