Friday, December 26, 2014

I Just Can't Help Myself

Hi Everyone - happy December 26th! I hope you are kicking back and enjoying a post-holiday day off from work.

As for me, here's why I can't help myself: I have started to highlight tester finished projects over at the Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace blog. However, I am showing off only those finished projects from designs I previewed. Since there are so many more designs (which are now making their way slowly but surely into the Ravelry database), I decided I needed to show off one of them here, so I hope you'll indulge me on this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

The design is the Quimby Hooded Cover-up, inspired by Harriet Quimby's distinctive purple silk flying outfit. To the left is my sample worked up for the book in, of course, predominantly purple hues of Lion Brand Amazing in the violets colorway and LB Collection Silk Mohair in iris. 

Now, check out my wonderful tester Kristina's cover-up. She also used Lion Brand Amazing, but in the Strawberry Fields colorway, and paired it with a different yarn for the edging. Don't you just love how sassy she's looking in the photo to the right? The scarf also looks great just simply left to its own devices in the front.

I've also included a shot of the back of Kristina's, which clearly shows the length of the shrug. It's enough to provide good warmth down most of the wearer's back. The goal with this cover-up is warmth, warmth, warmth - in case you were wondering. Quimby flew in open cockpits, so a warm flying suit with functionality was paramount to her. Harriet designed her own distinctive suit from purple parachute silk, and it pretty much covered her from head to ankles. While something similar would be overkill today, I thought this struck the right balance between warmth and versatile, fashionable good looks.

Thanks so much for checking in here at fiber chez Voie de Vie. Now, definitely make certain you head on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see how everyone else is spending their time post-holiday.

And do get ready for 2015. OhMyBob, 2015!!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

And One Final Published Design in 2014

Happy Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday everyone! I've been so consumed with the Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace design previews, I am finally getting around to announcing my final design published by others this year - the To Be Named Cowl, a cowl designed for Yarnbox. In case you aren't familiar with it, Yarnbox is a subscription-based yarn club where members receive yummy yarn shipments based on their self-disclosed preferences. In addition, they also receive a knit as well as a crochet design each month using the yarn in their boxes. Yarnbox members get exclusive access to my cowl design through January 25th (my birthday!) of next year; I'll then have it for individual sale in my Ravelry design store.

In the meantime, I love this cowl pattern! A simple one-row lace pattern, worked flat in Baa Ram Ewe's Titus in the Aire colorway (I blogged about receiving the yarn back at the end of September), it gets a fun edging treatment after being blocked and seamed. I designed it in two lengths in case people wanted a cowl that sat a little lower (it's shown in the shorter length, doubled). This wool/alpaca blend bloomed so well during blocking - the lace took on a soft (and dare I say airy?) quality, yet it's super warm.

I would encourage you to visit this very busy Ravelry group (I've linked to the December box recipients thread) where you can read about this yarn as well as the other December yarn choice (there's usually two options) and the designs included in the boxes. There's also a wee poll asking the members to name the cowl, but I think Yarnbox stuffed the (ballot) box as it were by sending out the pattern with one of the name choices already printed on it. Oh well, so much for impartiality. 

I hope each of you is ready for next week and have come through the bulk of the holiday season with your style and good humor still in tact.

Happy holidays, everyone! It's been quite a year (but more on that in a few weeks).

Monday, December 8, 2014

How About a Little History This Melange Monday?

Hello everyone! Since it's (just another) melange Monday, and I'm discussing history while introducing some of the designs in Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace, I thought a republishing here of an article I wrote for back in 2010 might be of interest. (Note: I didn't link to Dora Ohrenstein's site because it's been down for maintenance for a bit and didn't want to send you on a wild link chase. When it comes back up, I'll re-establish the link.).

So, without further ado, here's the first of two articles on the U.S. history of crochet:


The real history of crochet has yet to be discovered. In the United States, there is virtually no written history of crochet. Of the few books providing historical treatment of crochet, only one had a portion dedicated to American crochet history.

The Progressive Era, one of the most dramatic periods of American societal change, is particularly worthy of study. The beginning of the 20th century was a significant time of social upheaval. Women were questioning and redefining their roles at home and in the workplace. This, in turn, placed the needle arts in a new perspective.

The Historical Background – The Progressive “Impulse”

Even before the 20th century began, many in the United States believed in the need to deal with the problems – political, social, and moral – associated with the rise of urbanization and industrialization. This “impulse” toward reform took firm root during, roughly, 1900 – 1915, in what historians have termed the “Progressive Era.” No corner of American life was left untouched – from the way we processed beef, to the way we treated immigrants, to the number of hours in a workday, to the arrangement of domestic life.

The Colored Women’s League of 
Washington (D.C.) 1894
(Manuscript Division, Library of Congress)
The Progressive Era incited the birth of the women's movement. A mere century ago, women in most states did not have the right to vote, could not own property, were not welcomed in most professions (except those deemed traditionally “female”, such as teaching and social work) and held an extremely low profile in the public sphere. Women were thought to belong, virtually exclusively, in the domestic domain.

The changing social landscape, brought on my rapid industrialization, made many women question their public, as well as domestic, roles. The push for female suffrage dominated this period. Attempts were made to join the ranks of the professions – engineering, law, and medicine – and some were successful, others not. A critical percentage of women remained single (around 10% at the turn of the 20th century), and for the majority of those that did marry, mechanization of many household chores, along with longer school hours for children, freed up much of their time. Finally, divorce was on the rise – by the end of 1915, approximately one in nine marriages (up from one in every twenty-one in the last decades of the 19th century) ended in divorce.

All of this led to women taking a more public role in society – whether in clubs (cultural organizations where middle- and upper-class women gathered for intellectual pursuits), as activists, in settlement houses, or within government. 

Crochet in the US at the Turn of the 20th Century

Most American needlecraft had declined dramatically during the middle of the 19th century. There was, quite simply, a drastically reduced need to spin yarn and create fabric in such a time-consuming manner. At the turn of the 20th century, crochet was not receiving much American public attention (although it had made inroads on the Paris fashion runway). As one example illustrates – the “crochet” entries in the Reader’s Guide to Periodic Literature between 1900 and 1904 – there were only five articles devoted solely to crochet during that entire period! Additionally, given crochet’s deep English roots and the fact that lace had all but been banned as an export to England during America’s founding, this country’s need to put distance between itself and the perceptions associated with English royalty may also have played a part in the lack of crochet’s 19th century American presence.

This hat, published in The Delineator in 
January, 1912, included instructions on how 
to crochet the Venetian lace adornment.
However, as a new wave of immigrants came ashore via Ellis Island, they brought with them the “stuff” of their home countries – and needle arts were a part of that rich, immigrant experience. As women were in the midst of redefining their public and private roles, the ability to choose to create crocheted garments, accessories and home fashions played an ever-expanding role. It helped that materials were easier to obtain (the Sears Roebuck catalogue was an excellent source of wool for many), and the manufacture of crochet cotton was well underway by companies such as Coat’s and Clark Thread Company and Columbia Cottons. Additionally, continued American westward expansion not only was tailor-made for (at the time) crochet’s sturdier and more practical fabric, but aided in its popularity as an American art either to be engaged in during leisure time, or for additional income. Women no longer needed to be exclusively dependent on a husband’s income.

There was also a rise in the use of crochet (and knitting) for social change. Needlecraft programs were developed in many settlement houses as a way to provide an outlet for immigrant expression, and for middle-class women to come into contact with that expression. Home economics courses were developed and adopted as college doctrinal requirements. Many school girls took afternoon classes in knitting and crochet, with the hope that they would be able to earn a living through these skills. As in the 19th century, crocheted items were used to support charitable works of all kinds through church- or community-sponsored events.   

The Designers

An example of design by Antonie Ehrlich. Published, 
with commentary, in Ladies’ Home Journal, July, 1912.
Very little attention, unfortunately, has been paid to early 20th century crochet designers, although they were known in their time for their art, and many gained a loyal following.  Women such as Anne Champe Orr, Mary Card, Anna Wuerfle Brown, Antonie Ehrlich, Sophie T. La Croix, Helen Marvin, and Anna Valeire are only some of the designers who helped pave the crochet design path during the Progressive Era. These designers were proficient in many crochet techniques brought from other countries – Irish crochet, Australian crochet techniques, Venetian and French lace crochet – as well as other needle arts.

Antonie Ehrlich had many crochet designs published in magazines in the latter portion of the Progressive Era. In certain instances, since only written instruction was included in magazines (and, in many instances, it was incomplete) women needed to send money for complete instructions directly to Ehrlich.

Anne Champe Orr’s career began at Coat’s and Clark Thread Company; she eventually went on to publish her design pamphlets through her own publishing company, and charted patterns became one of her areas of expertise. She was a trailblazer not only as a designer, but also for her ability to provide employment for many others. She was also heavily involved in her Tennessee community in many charitable works.

A Mary Card design, published in Ladies’ Home 
Journal, October, 1911, under the heading 
“The New Australian Crochet.”
Another designer, Mary Card, has a particularly compelling story. Although not born in the United States but in Australia, Mary Card turned to designing and teaching crochet when she experienced deafness in adulthood. She published many designs in America, and devised a method of charting her crochet designs. Charting became a great Card teaching tool; it allowed her to not only pursue a career in which her disability would not be a hindrance, but to also reach a far greater student audience - she eventually made her charts larger to accommodate those with poor eyesight. Many who have crocheted a Mary Card design say they are some of the best examples of craftsmanship from the period.

Patterns and Sources

A Helen Marvin original design,
published in the March, 1913 Women's
Home Companion. It was suggested as
a good “Easter bazaar contribution.”
Crocheted dress collars, baby garments, hats, slippers and sweaters made up a large portion of the patterns for adults and children being designed during this period. Of some note were crocheted golf sweaters for women - as their involvement in the sport increased, so did the desire for patterns. Additionally, bedspreads, lace edgings for curtains, tablecloths, doilies and other home fashions were also very popular, as well as gorgeous crocheted handbags. In many instances, the genesis of today’s patterns for crocheted bags can be seen in the designs originating during the Progressive Era.

For many, magazines were a great source for crocheted patterns. The Delineator, Ladies’ Home Journal, Womens Home Companion, The Modern Priscilla, and  Harper’s Bazar were some of the many nationally published magazines that were great sources from which middle-class women gained not only current crochet trends and patterns, but also general information on personal and home fashion trends. Antonie Ehrlich was published in Ladies’ Home Journal; Helen Marvin was a frequent contributor to Women’s Home Companion.

Additionally, many of these publications produced and distributed individual designers’ pamphlets. Many of the designers mentioned above had individual publications devoted exclusively to their designs.

The lasting legacy of the Progressive Era is debated still by historians, including the legacy of women’s activism during the period. I keep coming back to some words from Kim Werker in one of the essays from Crochet Me, her 2007 book regarding why crochet, now:

            “My pet theory, though, is … the post-feminist theory of our lovely crafty
 revolution is that fiber arts are popular these days because we're reclaiming
 the “women’s work” from which our mothers fought so hard to break free.”

Given all that women had to fight for, and against, during the Progressive Era, I am convinced that many women back then would agree with Werker’s current statement. The history of crochet in America, as a choice, was one of the art’s hallmarks during the beginning of the 20th Century. Reclaim on. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another Gift-a-long Interview This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Happy Friday, everyone! While I am working on projects a-plenty at the moment (and they are all in various stages of finishing), I thought I'd share another designer interview this Friday with someone I've seen really grow as a designer, Mindy Wilkes. When I helped moderate this Ravelry shawl lovers' group (which was big when I left my mod duties two years ago, it now has over a whopping 6,300 members!), Mindy was one of the group's sponsors. I watched her create shawls pretty much before the group's respective eyes. Her shawls are very popular, and Mindy is an exceptional individual, so it is with great pleasure that I bring you:

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Knit Designer Mindy Wilkes

Mindy (on right) with her sister Tracy
at Rhinebeck this year.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit accessories? 

I was a microbiologist for a consumer product testing company for several years.  I have a degree in Biology and went to graduate school for Microbiology. After my son was born, I went back to work part-time for a few months then made the decision to be a stay at home mom full-time.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer? 

After finishing and releasing my first design (which came about only because I couldn't find an existing pattern for what I wanted to make), I was completely hooked on designing.

Please describe your personal knit design philosophy? 

I don't design things I wouldn't like to knit. It's why I haven't done any sweater designs. I'm just not much of a sweater knitter; I like small projects.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory? 

I think it would be when I received my first acceptance from a magazine. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the hell out of my husband when I read that e-mail. We were eating lunch out, and when I saw my acceptance e-mail, I was really excited and I may have done a little dance. Maybe. (insert happy face)

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

I'm going to cheat and pick 4 designers. My dinner dates would be Heather Zoppetti, Corrina Ferguson, Katherine Vaughan (who is also my tech editor), and Barbara Benson. We're all friends in real life, and I don't get to see them very often, although I did see Heather and Corrina at Rhinebeck back in October.  I'm guessing our next dinner will be at TNNA this coming summer.

Throw or pick? 


It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use? 

A big, epic, extremely difficult lace shawl in a lace weight wool, cashmere, silk blend.

What trait do you most admire in designers? 

The ability to think outside the box. You know when you see a new design and you think it's the cleverest thing out there because the designer did something totally interesting with the construction or with the stitch pattern but it's not at all difficult? That.

Wilkes' latest shawl design, Brunswick, a sister design
to her popular Holden shawl
What trait do you most detest in designers? 

I don't know if detest is the right word, but I have a pet peeve or two. One of my biggest pet peeves is not using a tech editor for whatever reason. I work at a yarn store and I have seen some patterns that have very clearly not been tech edited, and it's so very, very frustrating to try to convince a customer that not all patterns are as confusing, incorrect, etc. It's hard to hear that a customer will never buy a pattern again because of one bad experience with a pattern. 

You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful – especially your moon shawls collection!), what would you recommend? 

Right now, I'm really enamored with Hilary Smith Callis' shawl-cowl hybrids: Starshower, Luna Viridis, and Adama. I also really like a lot of Melissa Thomson's patterns. It's so hard to choose. There are so many really awesome patterns out there!

I am so thrilled Mindy agreed to answer my questionnaire. I pinned her participating designs in the gift-a-long Pinterest boards, and pinning them was like catching up with old friends.

Do get on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see all the goings on at the farm. 

And, hey - deck those halls people! Preferably with DIY decorations for that unique touch.

Monday, December 1, 2014

(Just Another) Melange Monday

Hello everyone - can you  believe it's December 1st? Where has the year gone

I hope your Thanksgiving was most excellent. Since I'm super busy with completing Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace (and you can go here to see the next design preview installment), I opted for a pared down Thanksgiving dinner. I went with Cornish game hens again this year (my choice this year as opposed to last, when I shopped so late there were no more turkeys to be had), stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin tiramisu, and wine. That definitely sounds like plenty, but I usually make a few sides and two desserts, but just.had. no.time. Here are a few photos:

The cranberry sauce is always homemade in my house,
using whatever dried fruit, in addition to the cranberries,
I have on hand. This year's version included cherries,
apricots and a few chopped prunes. The prunes added a
surprising depth of flavor.
Simple, but elegantly delicious.
Even though I needed to make a few last-minute ingredient
substitutions, this pumpkin tiramisu was great. I'll definitely
make it again.
The Mont-Redon is one of only two bottles of Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape I still have from my grape picking trip to Provence, and this year seemed an appropriate time to crack it open, since I have so much for which to be thankful. I used this recipe for the pumpkin tiramisu with some substitutions because (a) I wasn't on my shopping list game when I hit the store and forgot the mascarpone (so subbed sour cream and upped the brown sugar by 1/4 c) and (b) there were no ladyfingers to be had anywhere, so I opted for vanilla wafers. This still turned out spectacularly, and not too sweet. I will definitely make it again (and actually follow the recipe!). All in all, a tasty meal which was a relaxing joy to prepare. Maybe I'm onto something for future T-days.


And finally, here's what's currently on the hooks for holiday gifts/decorations:

This is slated to become my version of the cover Peppermint Pinwheel Stocking (designed by Mary Beth Temple) from the December issue of, which will go with my own design from the same issue, the Dainty Snowflake Garland. Look for photos in just a bit.

Finally, this is my progress (well, I've done a few more rows since I snapped this) on a version of Marnie MacLean's Aasha Shawl that will be gifted to a family member at the end of the year. Since it's bottom-up construction, the rows will decrease in size from here on out - a lovely prospect for moi, who Eep!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Well the Sale May Be Over But ...

... the rest of the Ravelry holiday gift-making palooza most definitely is still on! Until the end of December, everyone should definitely feel free to join in here for gifting camraderie and drive-by prizes like ... all the time. If you're interesting in finding some DIY gift ideas, do feel free to check out my 2014 curated Holiday gifts board on Pinterest. It's chock full of (mostly!) quick and stylish designs to whip up for everyone on your hand-made worthy list. Full disclosure: I don't do socks so they aren't included, but my designs are cause hey, I'm just a little partial. However, mine comprise only about 9% of the board so, you get the drift. 

In keeping in the GAL spirit, I'm here with another wonderful designer interview - this time with Sara Peterson, a sort of anti-designer designer (and how's that for descriptive language?). She's based on the east coast, in upstate New York, so I do hope she's not anywhere near all that lake effect snow. If she is, well, then she's got plenty of great designs to keep her knitting and crocheting! In fact, one of her shawl designs made my Holiday gifts board. Without further delay, I give you (and all photos used with Sara's kind permission):
The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire with 
Knit and Crochet Designer Sara Peterson

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit garments and accessories?

After college, I needed a hobby to occupy my free time so I decided to take up knitting. I have been a crocheter since I was a teenager, but knitting was a fun new challenge. Eventually my skills grew enough that I tried to duplicate or make my own version of items that I saw in magazines. I think this sweater was my first successful “design”. Not too long after that I started writing patterns.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer?

I have to say that it’s never really been my dream to be a knit or crochet designer. I sometimes have fits of creativity and I enjoy puzzling out how to make the ideas in my head a reality. It’s gratifying to see others make my patterns into their own creations but being known as a “designer” isn’t really my priority.

Please describe your personal knit design philosophy?

I like simple things that incorporate something interesting, whether it’s colorwork, or texture, or lace. Knit and crochet are relaxing for me so I like designs that hold interest all the way through without being so complicated that they make your head spin.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory?

Having a design published in Interweave Knits Accessories was pretty exciting (and nerve-wracking!)

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

I would thank Barbara Walker for her stitch dictionaries and Knitting from the Top and ask her how on earth she could be so prolific.

Ysolda Teague seems like she’d be a fun person to have dinner and drinks with.

I think that Doris Chan is a genius. I started knitting because at the time there were so few crochet designs that I’d actually want to wear. Her garments are modern and stylish. I’d love to pick her brain on what inspires her.

Throw or pick?

I’m a thrower, except when knitting stranded colorwork and then I use one strand in both hands.

It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use?

It would have to be a cabled hat made out of warm soft cashmere.

What trait do you most admire in designers?

I love how designers can come up with so many ways to make simple things. There are thousands of hat designs in the Ravelry database and yet there are tons of unique designs. Everybody finds a way to put his or her own spin on it and I find it fascinating.

What trait do you most detest in designers?

Detest is a strong word, but sometimes I think designers can be a bit overly protective of their work. I allow purchasers of my patterns to make items for charity and I don’t have a problem with crafters selling their FOs from a home-based business. Nobody wants to get ripped off by big corporations but I don’t see the harm in letting individuals sell at craft fairs or on etsy.

You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?

Michele Wang’s Stonecutter is just about the perfect sweater and you can’t go wrong with Cookie A’s socks.

Thanks so much Sara! And for all of the crocheters, her Tilt Shift Shawl (the one featured in the photo directly above) is having a wee whirl right now - make one and post a photo on your Ravelry project page, finished (of course!) by December 21st, and receive a free pattern from Sara's Ravelry store. And since she's a participating Gift-a-long designer, and there are like, a bazillion people making shawls in the gift-a-long, c'mon people ... get your shawly gifting on ... 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sometimes Designs Come Along At Just The Right Moment

She's a sassy shawl, ain't she?
Happy Friday, everyone. With a week before U.S. Thanksgiving, it's been busy good at chez Voie de Vie.

As I wrote about here on Monday, I'm participating in Ravelry's Independent Designer Gift-a-long. (An aside: if you don't think this shebang has grown volumes since last year, think again: so far, there are over 5,000 participants in 8 different gift-making categories, and one can sign up and gift-a-long until the end of December. Folks, indie designers and their gift-making pals are on fire.) As part of my design purchases, I picked up fellow designer Gabriella Henry's Lucie Shawlette pattern.

I cannot quite explain what it is about this pattern, but I became absolutely enthralled with it. Maybe it's the perfect combination of gloriously wonderful garter stitch with an elegantly simple crochet edging; perhaps it's the no-thinking-required aspect of the pattern - I wound up not putting it down and completed it in about four days (record speed for me). 

Or maybe, just maybe, it's been the genuine respect shown me by a fellow designer half-way around the world, at a time when I sorely needed a show of professional respect, that's made this shawl such a breath of fresh air. I've recently experienced a doozie of a professional blow and I have remained rather silent about it. Nevertheless, I had been feeling a fair amount of anger and disappointment, but I continued forward with my plans because I believe in myself. That's cold comfort, though, when you're in the middle of it. 

And then, along came Gabes (tweeting @Sweetpknits) and her ditty of a shawl and turned my thinking right 'round. Like a perfectly stitched record, if you will. Along the way, she's been nothing but gracious and complimentary, and it's made All.The.Difference. This is the season of giving thanks, and so I sincerely thank her for her kindness and open appreciation. Far beyond the counting of dollars and cents is how we make each other feel; that's what we'll remember. So it brings me great joy to show off my version of Gabe's Lucie Shawlette:

Speaking of good things, it is rare to see Mt. Rainier in any horizon shot in the Pacific Northwest fall and winter, yet it made a guest appearance for this photo shoot (check out the above left background). It guilded the lily rather nicely: what a great pairing of pattern and fiber, don't you think?

Even though these two fibers are (I think) discontinued, they played well together: Laines du Nord Prancer for the main body of the shawl and Noro Cash Iroha for the edging. I worked this up on U.S. 10 1/2" circular needles (6.5 mm) and a U.S. H hook (5.00 mm) for the edging, which is smaller than called for in the pattern. I also made my shawlette more akin to a shawl by using about 147 grams of yarn for the body and approximately 44 grams on the edging, for a grand poobah total of 366 fibery yards.

I cannot tell you how much I love this shawl. It's super warm and the perfect thing to throw over the shoulders or double up around the neck. Make one for yourself, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Now, in keeping with the spirit of design/er giving during this gift-along (which, again, runs straight through the end of the year), I've had the pleasure of interviewing and getting to know Ella Austin, a/k/a Bombella Knits. Here's a designer after my own color-filled heart - her claim to fame is stranded color work and she has a love of Karie Westermann shawl designs. Without further ado, I present:

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
with knit designer Ella Austin

Ella Austin. Photo used with designer's kind permission.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit garments and accessories?

Just before I started designing I was a stay at home mum and breastfeeding helper. Before that I worked in admin and IT for a charity in London and before that I studied sociology and classical studies at Reading University. But I’ve always loved art and design and I’ve always been an avid knitter -ever since I was a child.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer?

Although I’d knit for all my life I had never really tried to push myself as a knitter until I met the Reading-based Outcasts knitting group about seven years ago. Then soon after Ravelry came along and inspired me further. I started to have ideas for things I wanted to knit and so I started experimenting… and found that I loved it!

Please describe your personal knit design philosophy?

I love stranded colourwork so I tend to think in terms of colour, line and pattern. I mostly design small, colourful knits that I consider to be fun!

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory?

It’s hard to pick a single moment because knit design involves a lot of gradual development of ideas. I’m most proud of my knitting kits and I hope to continually improve and develop them. For a single moment memory, I was very excited when one of my early designs was commissioned by Knit Now magazine.

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

This is a hard question. Most of my old knitting group the Outcasts have done at least a design or two so I’d pick a bunch of them!

Throw or pick?

Throw. I’m a very slow knitter!

It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use?

There’s so much I want to knit, it’s too sad to think of a last thing! One thing I’ve been wanting to do for ages but haven’t done yet is a small woodland creature in Skein Queen Blush 80% merino 20% cashmere.

What trait do you most admire in designers?

Diversity. I admire designers who can do all sorts of things with all different techniques. I also love a good cardigan so a designer that does a good cardigan has my respect!

What trait do you most detest in designers?

Detest is such a strong word! I don’t like snobbery in knitting whether it’s ‘I only use x yarn’ or ‘I’d never knit y type of object’.

You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?

Suzanne Stallard’s colourwork mitts (especially the Alfredos) or a Karie Westermann shawl.

All right everyone - now head on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see how everyone else is interacting with the gift-a-long. As for me, I'm officially blogged out ... for the moment. 

Stay tuned ...

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All About The Gifts This Melange Monday

It's (late!) Monday, time for melange.

As many of you may know, I've been involved with Ravelry's 2014 Independent Designer Gift-a-long, specifically I helped pin all of the participating designs to Pinterest boards. I have gone one step further and curated my own 2014 DIY Gifts board right here. I have chosen my favorites from all of the boards excepts the baby/children's board as well as the feet and leg board. I still have one or two children's patterns curated, but mostly I'm all about the hats, gloves, sweaters, scarves, home and shawls, shawls, shawls. There are some fantastic designs currently on sale and ripe for the picking before the end of the day this coming Friday. Of course, most of my self-published patterns are part of the mix (hey, I'm biased!), but with over 200 pins on the board, my designs represent only about 10% of what I curated. Do please take a look (knit and crochet together) - maybe there will be something you missed the first time around!

My fiber choice for my version of the
Lucie Shawlette. Photo taken with craptastic
cell phone camera.


So, I purchased some shawl patterns late last Friday: four in all, but one for me to make now and one to make as a gift for a family member this holiday season. I'm currently enthralled with Gabriella Henry's Lucie Shawlette. It's a combination of simple garter stitch and a sweet crochet edging on one side. I am not only thoroughly enjoying the squoishy comfort of all that garter stitch, but as a fellow designer and creator of written patterns, I appreciate her unorthodox and artistic approach to pattern presentation. Henry incorporates unique font choices as well as (what I suspect) is her own art in her document layout. It's a real breath of fresh air from all of the cookie-cutter approaches to pattern layout. As someone who also utilizes some unique font choices as well as lots of photos and my own art (although less of the art in my single patterns), it's nice to see someone marching to her own tune. Well done, Gabriella. 

I'm farther along than this photo indicates.
I am loving the subtle color changes and
A friendly reminder that 20 of my designs, bundled here, are 25% off until the end of the day this Friday with the code giftalong2014. Partake of any of my designs on sale as well as those from other designers on my curated board linked above. Give someone hand-made worthy a great gift this holiday season, hopefully made with some yarn produced by an indie dyer or spinner.

Of course, that hand-made worthy person could be your very awesome self. Craft on, people.