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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feast or famine

Yep.  You guessed it.  This is my regularly scheduled final-project-stalling post.  

I've got so much on my mind right now.  One of my final projects seems almost too easy, and that freaks me out a little bit.  The other one is a little more difficult than I would have thought but it seems to be coming together okay, except for the part where I have to decide, from a cryptic case study, if a man is competent to stand trial or not.  I'm on the fence about it and I know that the answer will make or break my grade.  Sigh.  Oh well, at least I've got an "A" going into the final.  I should be okay.

I have to give a talk in church tomorrow and I'm a little freaked out about it.  I've had a month to think about it, and I prepared, but every time I give a talk I feel like I'm reading a research paper (with all the scripture references) or like I'm rambling.  I have no idea how long my talk is supposed to be, and I just hope I don't turn into a stuttering idiot up there.

I'm struggling with my Apogee test knit.  There are several little errors that I thought would have been caught in the editing process, and I realize that I might have incorrect expectations regarding the official duties of a technical editor.  I also discovered that after I got though the increases, I had eight extra stitches in the front.  That's another two inches of fabric!  I know it will fit me fine because of my larger chest but I worry about other knitters having too much fabric in the front.  I really thought I'd figured out the issue with the neck increases, but now I'm not so sure.  I'm thinking that I might be better off reversing the entire design and working it from the bottom up.  Or at least working the numbers that way...?  Maybe if I start from the bottom, I'll be better able to figure out how many I need at the top.  I don't have anything to lose, really.

Then there are the two sweaters I took in for a customer that will need to be completely taken apart and re-seamed to fit her.  These sweaters belonged to her late-father, and she wants to have them taken in to fit her.  There's just no good way to do that by hand, and the more I'm thinking about it, the less comfortable I feel with it.  I'm going to sit on it another week and if I still feel funny about it, I'll give them back to her.  There's just too much emotion tied up in them and that doesn't usually go right.

Oh, and I just had a pattern proposal accepted so I'll have some super secret knitting going on very soon.  And to be honest, I'm totally freaked out about this one.  It's a design I've had on my hard drive for a long time so it's partially finished, but I'm not sure how to best present it in multiple sizes.  Do I offer written directions, charted directions, both?  A chart in each size?  A chart that only shows the detailed information?  I have no idea, but I need to start figuring it out soon!  Any time I work with a third-party, I always feel like they'll see how green I am, and like I'll make some major rookie mistake that will black-ball me from any future publication work.  Anyway, I guess there's no perfect situation here, lol.  If they don't take my submission, I feel like a failure.  If they do, I feel like they'll discover that I'm a fraud, lol.  But I've got some time before I have to take this on so I'm going to do some sketching, and work some numbers, and see what I can come up with.  Oh, and I'm gonna get some sleep.  Maybe things will look better after a little sleep.

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Interview with Ann Budd!!

I have no idea where to start this post, but I've been thinking about it for a good week.  It all started on Monday when I finished Alex's mittens, and he said (and I quote) "they blew my mind!"  It's about the best complement that a knitter can receive.  As I said in the last post, I used the Basic Mitten pattern from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. 

I was introduced to Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns when I accidentally stumbled into a yarn shop for the first time.  The ladies there were a little gruff, but they were good people and they knew their stuff.  I bought a few inspirational books with pretty pictures, but one day the owner put your book in my hands and told me that I "needed this book".  She convinced me that lack of brightly colored photos weren't an issue and that I would have everything I needed to become a good knitter at my fingertips if I bought the book.  It was more money than I'd ever spent on a knitting book at that time...and it was totally worth every single penny.  The tips included in the book raised my skill set considerably and suddenly I was turning out finished objects that I could be proud of. 

Over the years I've purchased other books by Ann, and all have been well worth the considerably reasonable cost.  My first custom sweater was heavily inspired by a sweater in her Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.  When customers ask about yardage, I pull out Ann's Knitter's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements.  At last count, I believe I own eight different books either written or edited by her.  And the format of the Handy Book's helped me to figure out the best way to format the tall sizes in my first sweater design.  

Now, as an employee of a yarn shop, I return the favor and put The Handy Book of Patterns into the hands of all new knitters.  We can't keep it in stock :)  And I'll admit that I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the Knitter's Handy Book of Top Down Sweaters, which is available for pre-order through Ann's website.

So, as I was sitting here on Monday basking in the glow of a successful project, I got up the nerve to ask Ann if she would answer a few questions for my blog, and she said yes!  And here they are:
·  How did you discover knitting? (who taught you, or inspired you to give knitting a try, and do you remember what your first project was?)
My mother knitted but I never felt the urge to learn. But in 1968, my father had a sabbatical and we lived in Switzerland for a year and I attended the elementary school in our village. At the time, girls and boys were taught gender-specific skills one half-day a week: girls learned needle arts and housekeeping; boys learned basic carpentry, etc. The girls in my class were horrified that I didn’t know how to knit—they had all knitted lacey cabled knee socks in the fourth grade. I didn’t speak much German so I was delighted to have a class that involved just manipulating my hands without trying to understand words. My first project was a pair of baby booties that would have fit my father. My second project was a sock that turned into a hobbyhorse, which I used as a model for the Hobby Horse in Interweave Presents Knitted Gifts. I continued to knit (mostly secretly because it wasn’t “cool”) through high school and college, and finally ended up working for Interweave Press, where I was able to make a job out of my hobby.

·  When you were still a new knitter, what kept you going?  (what kept you from throwing the needles in a corner and giving up?)
Throwing my needles and giving up wasn’t an option when I was learning in Switzerland. When everything fell out of my hands, the teacher would put things back and make me keep going. The worst part was the way everyone snickered at me.

·  When did you become interested in designing, and how did you get into it?  (do you have a background in design or fashion, or maybe a natural talent?)
I started designing when I worked for Interweave Knits magazine. We all participated in the “staff project” for each issue. The budget was tight and I was often called on to knit a specific project.
I sewed most of my clothes through high school, but I never deviated from the patterns and have never felt comfortable with the “designer” label. I consider myself more of an engineer than designer.

·  Your body of work is STAGGERING!  How do you continually come up with new ideas?  (what inspires you?)
Most of my designs came about while I was on staff at Interweave and the result of specific requests by the editor. When I need inspiration now, I usually turn to stitch pattern dictionaries—even though I’ve looked at every page dozens of times, something catches my eye that I hadn’t considered before—or I browse what’s hot on Ravelry. I also find inspiration in balls of yarn or something that I see someone wearing on the street. Of course, some of the best places to find inspiration are at retreats and conventions like Knitter’s Review Retreat, Sock Summit, and Interweave Knitting Lab.

·  Do you have any advise for up and coming designers, like myself?
Don’t give up. With the internet and Ravelry, you can put your designs where they will be seen by millions of people. If you love what you do and do it well, you’ll be successful.

My thanks to Ann for taking the time to answer a few questions here on my humble blog.  She was very kind, generous with her time, and supportive of a fellow crafter :)  If you haven't already, go check out Ann's blog at www.annbuddknits.blogspot.com.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A great day to be a knitter!

 I spent this weekend knitting a new pair of mittens for Alexander, out of forest-green Cascade 220 yarn knit at a DK weight gauge.  I realized last week, when I was knitting a pair for a customer, that Alex had really outgrown his current pair and could really use some new ones.  He chose green.  I went to the shop and picked up the bright crayon green he'd chosen earlier for a sweater I never knit.  I'd told him that I wouldn't knit an entire sweater out of that color, but I figured that mittens would be fine.  He decided that he no longer likes that color and he handed me a broken piece of Crayola Green crayon to use as my guide.  After searching high and low in the shop, I found the perfect color of Cascade 220... #8267 (the color here is lighter than in real life).  I also chose a pair of Jolly Roger buttons by Dill, to attach the i-cord with.

I knit these mittens using Ann Budd's Basic Mitten Pattern from The Handy Book of Patterns.  I've used this pattern for a decade, and it's still the best in town.  I modified the thumb placement a tiny bit, and added a mock-rib to the back of the hand, just for the fun of it.  I really love how it turned out (and Alex does too).  I also added half an inch to the cuff and the hand because we're tall people and we have long hands.  As you can see here, Alex's hands are getting pretty big!

Anyway, they were finished last night and I decided to just tuck them into his coat so he wouldn't see them until he put the coat on.  It was a big surprise!  I stood there holding his coat, and he looked at it and noticed the mittens right away.  He got the biggest smile on his face (it was a look of pure joy!) and gasped.  Then he said "is that my mittens?!", followed by "Thanks MOM!".  Then he threw himself into me, gave me a huge hug, and said "Mom, you're the best!", lol.  He's very satisfying to knit for.  Then on the way to school, he told me several times how warm his hands were :)  I love that kid.

And when all this was done, I was feeling so good about myself that I decided to send Ann Budd an email telling her how much I love her work, and how much I appreciate what she's done for knitting in general.  Then, in a particularly crazy moment, I asked her if she'd be willing to answer a few questions for my blog...and she said YES!!  So stay tuned because I've got my interview questions back and I'll be posting that interview soon :)

It's a great day to be a knitter!