Monday, December 28, 2015

Fait à la Main: Day 3

Hi Ho crafty crochet lovers - here we are at day three of the design introductions from my latest collection.

Today it is all warm color: I present the Caramel & Chocolate Cowl. I must admit, this cowl's colors really remind me of dark chocolate and caramel ice cream topping, and thus the cowl's name. Don't be surprised that it's also super warm, thanks to the bulky weight Lion Brand Lion's Pride Woolspun I used to work it up. It's very soft, surprisingly springy, and will definitely keep you cozy, worn either doubled around the neck or down with a shawl pin. 

The shawl pin I used here was actually a surprise gift I received from a designer in New Zealand. It was such a thoughtful gift, and little did she know when she sent it that it was the perfect color for this collection, which was well into production once I received it. I am so thrilled to be able to show it off, so thanks so much Gabriella!

We shot this the day after Thanksgiving (believe it or not!), and the sun was just doing wonderful things to the trees and leaf colors - it was almost like I perfectly planned it. Thanks so much, Mother Nature - and thanks also to my very photogenic model, who had a good time with this piece. 

This piece is available to view and purchase in my Ravelry design store, either individually now or as part of the entire collection a little later this week once all of the pieces have been introduced. If you haven't yet seen it, you can check out the collection's look book, which previews all of the designs.

I'll see everyone tomorrow!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fait à la Main: Day 2

Hello - I hope everyone is recovering nicely from giftmas; here at chez Voie de Vie it's day two of design introductions from my latest collection.

As you can see, it's all about the jewelry today - specifically, the Brabant Cuff. Named for both the historical lace technique (related to Bruges lace) as well as the Belgian Duchess (who is currently 14 years old and the next successor to the Belgian throne), this is worked in the awesome NFC Chromium. The slightly rustic quality of the silk and stainless steel makes for textural interest as well as a surprisingly strong jewelry piece. Silver-lined seed beads and a sterling silver tube clasp complete this oh-so-quick piece.

Kudos to the husband and wife who modeled the cuff. I actually tried to get a wide shot of both of them, but I couldn't get a smile from hubby - nerves I expect. 

If you haven't yet seen it, you can click on the collection's look book below to see all of the designs that are ending my 2015. And of course, you can tune in tomorrow for the next design introduction.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

And Now On Boxing Day ...

... it's time to unwrap the new Voie de Vie collection! This project is one of the things I've been juggling over the last few months, and I must say I'm rather thrilled with it. Here's the new look book:

As with all of my previous collections, I'll be introducing each of the new designs each day between now and the end of the year, as well as upload each to the Ravelry database and my Ravelry store. You'll be able to purchase each design separately or as an entire collection in an e-book.

I am so thrilled to introduce everyone to the lead-off design in the book - the Hardware Cowl. This is a satisfyingly quick project to whip up, thanks to the super bulky Lion Brand Natural Wool and a mondo sized crochet hook. The swivel clasps and d-rings that create the loose pleats were a notions aisle inspiration. I love how this cowl captures the best of vintage with an updated, 21st century look and feel.

You'll find this in the Ravelry database shortly. 

Come back tomorrow for the second introduction. Woot!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rain Forest Inspired

It's another quick Wardrobe Wednesday post this week. 

It's also no secret I love green and blue, and this week I've found a great way to incorporate my Olympic National Forest-inspired Gradient Flower Cowl into an easy outfit. I've paired it with a simple navy tee and a green suede skirt (just like the burgundy one I used in this outfit back in October). Oddly enough, the colors in the cowl really pop on this navy background. I actually had tried it with a much lighter top, and it just didn't look as natural. Paired with a well-loved pair of heels, and this outfit is ready for prime time. 

I love how the blue tee highlights
 the blue in the buttons.
Alright, now back to our regularly scheduled gift making - I'm almost done gift #2. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Go for the Light and Joy

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the December holiday season isn’t the best time of year. There is, for many, always so much emotional baggage and history to carry and remember. I’ve come to the decision that this is the year I’m permanently lightening my load. I can search out the wonder, joy and light of this season, and that’s exactly what I’m doing this year, in one of the easiest-to-me ways I know – through decorating my personal space.

My very first holiday
stocking. This is the closest I'll
get to making an actual sock.
In the middle of several other projects I’m juggling, I have made my first ever holiday stocking to hang on my very own self-fashioned mantle (hey, a book case is a great stand-in). This stocking is not my design, but one from Mary Beth Temple published in, and featured on the cover of, last December’s I instantly loved its bigger dimensions and use of motifs and differing yarn weights. I am a big proponent of mixing traditional with non-traditional holiday colors so I’m kind of liking the blue, since it coordinates well with my space’s color scheme.  

I’ve also included my own Sparkly Snowflake Garland to my mantle-scape, and I just love how this turned out. My space, for the first time in I can’t remember how long, feels truly festive to me. This brings me joy.

Additionally, I’ve worked up a deconstructed holiday tree (read: branches with ornaments because a live tree is no good with George Bailey on the scene) that manages to capture the light and beauty of the season. I could look at those snowflakes all day. They bring me so much peace, not to mention a smile. It is difficult to accurately convey how content I feel this holiday season, despite being busy with several ongoing projects. I haven’t felt like this in a long time at this time of year.

I consider my load successfully lightened.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Hard Work Behind Five Good Design Days A Year

For the third in my series of designer interviews for the 2015 Indie Gift-a-Long, I looked to my curated design ideas Pinterest board, and this choice became rather clear. Jenise Hope (nee Reid) designs things I (and a lot of other people, it seems) want to make. Personally, I have been in love, love, love with her Persian Dreams Blanket forever. For anyone thinking about designing or those newbie designers, I would urge you to read and really internalize this interview - Jenise gives it to you straight, no chaser! I am beyond thrilled to present:

The January Pullover designed by Jenise Hope

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire with Knitwear Designer Jenise Hope

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

Through my teen years (starting at 14!), I worked at my Dads accounting practice during tax season.  I was the receptionist, organizing and keeping everyone’s papers running through the system, and did bits of bookkeeping or the odd (easy) tax return on the side.  It was a small office and so I really got to see all the parts of what goes behind the scenes in a small business.  After I graduated, I began to study (sewing) pattern drafting and did custom work sewing.  I was honestly very devoted to sewing.  In the midst of that, I picked up knitting needles for what may as well have been the first time, and learned to knit.  It took a year or so, but soon I preferred knitting to sewing (even though, to this day, I still sew a good portion of my personal wardrobe).  It was a natural move to “write” my own knitting patterns. (For me, a knitting pattern only for myself is a page of paper with a stream of numbers and minimal explanation of what they actually mean, not a real pattern that someone else would be able to follow.) Once I was happy with what I was turning out, it was also very natural, not easy, but it just happened almost on its own, to write a handful of knitting patterns just for fun and put them up for sale.  Since I had experience working with exacting sewing patterns and all that, the technical and business side of knit design was relatively easy.  A lot of designers start into designing knit patterns while they work in a completely different day job and try to make it all fit.  My life more or less flowed smoothly to it, and starting at my age, before I was married or had a “real” job, I had the huge advantage of being able to jump into giving it a full time try.

2.    When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knitwear designer?

When I was young, a lot of the parts of knitwear design were things I thought would be fun one day - photography, design, modeling – and I have always had a huge amount of patience doing fussy jobs.  My Mom has in her photo albums these pictures of my third birthday and this story about how I wanted to decorate my own cake that year.  She iced it and gave me a plate of candies to stick on top.  I only vaguely remember it myself, but apparently I didn't even ask to eat a single candy till the end and very carefully placed them on the cake.  From the photos, I can see that I made it symmetrical; it was a butterfly shape and the right and left wings match.  Truth be told, the only part I really remember is digging through the plate of candies and finding matching ones to place on each wing (I think I ate all the leftover single candies at the end).  I'm not sure why.  I am around a lot of little kids (my 12 nieces and nephews) and while it seemed normal to me before, thinking about all the 3 year olds I know, I can't imagine any of them doing that.  No wonder my Mom thought it so noteworthy that she bothered to write the story out, I seem to have an inborn sense of order. 

I don't think I ever specifically wanted to be a knitwear designer, it was more one day I realized I already was one and I loved it.  I don't mean I realized this the first times I made sweaters for myself – it finally occurred to me that this was what I was somewhere around my first 1,000 or 2,000 pattern sales.

Jenise Hope's X&O Cardigan
3.    Please describe your personal design philosophy?

For garments, I try to work out the simplest way to make a good fit.  This usually involves complex increase/decrease rates to make curves, and they are a pain to calculate and write, but I think the end result is worth the time.  It is such a relief when I finish writing a pattern and I can relax and just knit from the directions.  I like to design the kinds of garments I like to wear, generally in finer yarns (with the odd exception for really cold days), lots of stockinette, carefully fit, no/minimal seams, and precise finishing.  They probably wouldn't be my favorite to make, but I enjoy a challenge and I have learned to love mindless stockinette, grafting, and sewing.

For “fancy” stuff (like colorwork blankets or accessories with more decoration), I try to come up with a key element, and then enhance and elaborate on that theme through details everywhere else.  The hard part is predicting if something will enhance the central theme, or distract from it before completing the item, and don't look to my work for great examples of how this should play out.  I am still very much learning! The most beautiful things I have admired and analyzed all share this quality. There is much detail and texture, and yet what you see is one to three primary elements that are built up out of this mass of little unnoticed details.  If I am honest, part of the reason I like skinnier yarns is to give me more “resolution” for more detail.

4.    What is your greatest design memory?

Probably a year from when I started writing those very first patterns, standing in the kitchen with my Mom and one of my sisters.  Casually checking if I had any sales, as I did most days, there was this flood of sales of one of my few published patterns, I think around 60 that day.  If you recall from before, I wasn't thinking of myself as a designer, I did it just for fun not expecting any sales at all.  I was dumbfounded and hardly believed it, but I showed them and my mom was all excited and I realized I had actually made a pattern that other people liked and wanted.  It took a while to sink in!  The success of that particular pattern was the push I needed to decide that I would give this pattern-writing thing a serious try and see what happened.  Apart from that incident, I would never have believed it would be possible to do it for a living.  I was the only one shocked.  I had a year or two of coming to my friends or family in absolute awe and surprise when any pattern was doing unusually well, and them saying back to me things along the line of “well, I would be surprised if my pattern was doing well, but of course you can do it.  I'm not surprised at all.”

The amazingly wonderful Persian Dreams Blanket.
5.    If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

Since it wasn't specified, I am going to “cheat” and say Madame Vionnet (there is so much technical genius in the structure of her bias cut dresses), Paul Poiret (because I just love his harem pants and hobble dresses; turbans less so...), and any of the ladies who designed Bohus Stickning sweaters.  They all worked in ready to wear rather than patterns, but I take more inspiration from ready to wear than other knitting patterns/designers.

6.    Picker or thrower?

Is “Scrambler” an acceptable term to use?  Having taught myself to knit, sticking my fingers where ever made it easiest to get yarn through yarn and on the sticks, I don't follow either method!  I am working on learning to pick – I challenged myself to give it a try earlier this year to speed up my stockinette, so I sometimes pick in a long stream of stockinette.  Otherwise, fingers are everywhere.

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

It is a colorwork sweater, in laceweight cashmere that I have to purchase in white and dye myself to get the exact shades I need.  I am picky about colors and struggle to find the ones I want. Alternately, I might be similarly satisfied with a rectangular lace stole in cobweb weight merino.  Hard to decide!

8.    What trait do you most admire in designers?

Fortitude.  If you are going to make it, you need to be willing to do the most mundane and picky jobs (like checking over your numbers again), you need to learn a variety of new skills, and you need to keep slogging at it for at least a year or two before you can expect any substantial reward for all the effort and cash you put into it.  The fun stuff of designing is something like 5 days a year, and all the rest of the days are hard work doing confusingly complex or painfully dull tasks.  Satisfying when done, but not necessarily the things you wake up wanting to do.

9.    What trait do you most detest in designers?

Impatience and carelessness.  Either will prevent you from moving on anywhere.  You need to take the time to learn to do it all well, and you won't be rewarded till you do.  Be that side things (which you could hire someone to do for you if you have the cash) like photography and writing descriptions, or the actual design itself (figuring out what yarn is going to say what your design is saying, working out proportions and balance to get the effect you want, and picking stitch patterns and how to use them)

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

For adult stuff, Jenny F If only I had the time to knit it, I would love a shawl like Breezy Skies. For baby/kid stuff, Jenny WiebeThose are the cutest kid cardis ever!

And no, I didn't plan to choose two Jennys, they are just the two whose patterns I would knit if I had time.  Right now I don't even have time to knit all my own patterns, which is very sad; besides, I do get a lot of patterns designed and published, even if my knitting is mostly just swatching. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Study in Neutrals

Hello, everyone – I thought a quick installment of Wardrobe Wednesday was in order.

This fairly easy-to-put-together outfit stars my Frosted Espresso Cardigan, a tan cami underneath, paired with a mushroom-colored suede skirt and some black suede booties. I must tell you I’ve already worn this ensemble and received some nice compliments. The cardi is so incredibly warm it’s actually more like an overcoat. I am amazed at the warmth of mohair + sock yarn! I made the sleeves rather long, and if I put my thumb in a lacy space a few inches from the end the sleeves almost act like fingerless mitts, which is great in colder outdoor weather. Inside, I just turn them up.

I must admit, I really love this outfit.

My Frosted Espresso Cardigan.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What Do Five Kids, a Working Farm, and Yarn Equal?

It's December 5th, folks. Just twenty days to Giftmas, even less to the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. We're now into the gray, rainy dog days of winter here in the Pacific Northwest, so for my next designer interview, I went to the southern hemisphere - New Zealand, to be specific. This designer/indie dyer is still relatively new to the design world, and she is feeling the way most new-ish designers feel: like, am I really a designer? Can I actually do this? Of course, Holly has a farm and a menagerie of little children to make the brew oh-so-much-more interesting! So, grab a quick cup of your favorite beverage, and get to know Holly Stevens of Hollyberry Designs/Yarns, with the next installment of:

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
with Designer and Indie Dyer Holly Stevens

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knitwear and dye yarn?
Before I started to dye and design I was still super busy being a mother to my 5 little people. We also have a farming business so I do the admin, calf rearing and often help with milking. It’s generally chaos in my house but I don’t think I would have it any other way. I have a bachelor of education in primary teaching and hope to one day get back into it but that won’t be until all of my wee birdies have left the stay at home nest and are at school themselves.

The adorable Chloe Slouch from Holly Stevens
  1. When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a designer?
To be completely honest I never thought I would. I remember not long after I had had my youngest, Grace, I mentioned to a friend who was great at improvising knitted fruit that I just didn’t think I could do it and following patterns instead of writing them was more me. After the years of baby brain started to clear I bought a lovely knitting magazine that included a pull out section about designing your own hat – it kind of spiraled out of control from there! I did get a bit of an “I told you that you could do it” message from my friend a while back!

  1. Please describe your personal knit design and dye philosophy?
I very much design and dye things that I love. I have a set of colourways that I did based on Game of thrones (which I love) - it was very popular and from then on I decided that I would dye based on my preferences - that way I would form my own style that was unique to me. I tend to lean towards darker and muted colourways but sometimes I pop out of my little box and do some brights. I went through a fluro range just recently and that was quite fun! As far as knits go having so many models at home to use makes it easy to check as I go that things are functional and the fit is correct. I design a lot on necessity based on what I or my kids need at the time.

An example of Hollyberry Yarns' gradient dying
  1. What is your greatest design memory?
It probably goes back to when I first started and I was doing my first garments, Toby and Gracie-pie, I did all the numbers first on my trusty excel sheet working out stitch counts and gauge and then started knitting. It felt like such an achievement and almost a light bulb moment to have all the numbers and maths translate into actual knitting that worked and fitted!

  1. If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?
Wow - that is a tricky question! I would love to meet up and pick the brains of Justyna Lorkowska and Georgie Hallam about kids knits. Oh, and definitely Andi Satterlund as I love all things vintage inspired and would love to chat to her about adult garments as one day I would love to try my hand at that - but I just don't feel confident enough quite yet!

  1. Thrower or picker?
A thrower most of the time, but I pick and throw if I am doing colourwork.

  1. It’s your last object to design (or dye). What is it, and what fiber/color do you use?
Oh definitely merino cashmere, it's my absolute favourite. I would love to wear it every day of the week (sometimes I do!) and it would HAVE to be red, a deep dark red, if it wasn’t I would not be very true to myself!

The Bobby Hoodie designed by Holly Stevens

  1. What trait do you most admire in designers?
The ability to be able to write the most complex and innovative design characteristics, some things that people come up with are truly amazing!

  1. What trait do you most detest in designers?
See answer 8! I am actually rather jealous of some of the things that people can design, I don’t feel like I'm quite there yet a lot of the time, but that comes with practice for me – a lot of people are amazing naturally. I have to try extremely hard to be above average haha!

  1. You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?
For an adult garment I would fully recommend Chuck by Andi Satterlund, I just made myself one and its such a quick knit and so versatile over skirts and dresses, I love it! I plan to make many for myself in lots of different colours.

Monday, November 30, 2015

On Float Planes, Symmetry, and Great Gift Ideas

Happy Cyber Monday everyone! This is the last big day to get those online savings, so I hope you are filling your cyber carts and getting in on the action.

Over in the Ravelry Indie Gift-a-long 2015, people have been creating a gift frenzy. Really. The threads for things that will be gifted for hands, arms, and heads are officially out of control. We'll be creating gifts right through the end of the year, so don't think you're too late to get in on the yarny gift action.

In order to celebrate the remainder of the gift-giving season, I have the first in a series of interviews with some of my fellow knit and crochet designers. The first is Cynthia Levy, a/k/a Reg Tiger Designs. I had the pleasure of pinning her designs to the gift-a-long Pinterest boards, and I was immediately drawn to find out more since she and her husband get to fly a float plane everywhere. Of course, living in the Northwest Territories of Canada, a float plane (as well as a snow machine named George!) sort of come in handy.

Snow Flurry Mittens designed
by Cynthia Levy
Now while it's true that I don't do socks (sorry Cynthia!), I do make mittens and things for hands, and I was instantly taken with her Snow Flurry Mittens, which I am going to make a little later in December. Cynthia also has some wonderful accessory designs for men, so if you haven't seen them, I hope you'll check them out over on her Ravelry design page. Without further ado, I present:

The Artfully 
Voie de Vie 
Questionnaire with Knitwear Designer 
Cynthia Levy

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

I’m a lawyer in real life, which is reason enough to need a creative outlet!  I grew up in Nova Scotia, went to university in Ontario, taught in Newfoundland, and now live and practice law in the Northwest Territories.  In addition to knitting and designing, my leisure time is over-committed with float-flying, fishing, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, pottery, quilting and gardening.

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

I don’t really think there was ever a moment when I woke up and decided to become a designer.  I just started designing my own socks to prove to myself that I could and then I realized that I could share my designs by publishing them on Ravelry and other online platforms.

Please describe your personal design philosophy?

I strive to create designs that are attractive and wearable.  Symmetry and balance are important to me, so I try to ensure that each element of a design flows smoothly into and out of the next element.  I like to create designs that look complicated but can be made by the average knitter exercising moderate care and attention.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory?

It was very exciting to have my design for Resonator Gauntlets accepted by Knitty.  Seeing the design in print on the Knitty website made me feel like a legitimate designer!

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?
I’d love to sit down to dinner with my online friend Jennifer Wood of Wood House Knits.  She designs the most amazing cable and lace sweaters with incredible attention to detail and fit.  I’d also love to have dinner with Cookie A and Stephanie Van Der Linden.  They have each authored several fantastic books on sock knitting and construction from which I have learned many useful tips and tricks.
Pit Railway Socks - lovely
cable here!
Throw or Pick?

Throw, except for stranded colorwork, for which I hold one color in each hand and use a technique that completely eliminates floats.

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

I’d design and knit an epic blanket using laceweight qiviut.  It would be a sampler featuring every stitch pattern in my Japanese stitch dictionaries.  Since it’s my last project ever, I’m assuming that cost of yarn is no object, and I want to make something that will keep me knitting for a very long time!

Vertigo Fingerless Gloves
What trait do you most admire in designers?

Most knitting designers are willing to engage in frank and helpful discussion of all sorts of issues related to the fibre industry.  Ravelry has enabled the development of a community of designers that is supportive and knowledgeable and it’s wonderful to be able to access their collective intelligence.

What trait do you most detest in designers?

Some designers who are trying to make a full-time career in the fibre industry have a tendency to disparage those who design on a part-time or hobby basis.  Such designers have strong opinions as to the proper way to develop and publish patterns and allege that other approaches are less than professional.

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

My favorite designs for gift projects are Tree Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch, Comfrey by Sara Gresbach, and Bonaventure Baby Sweater by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne. I’ve made each of these projects multiple times and every recipient has been delighted with their gift. I’d highly recommend any of these patterns.

Friday, November 27, 2015

And Now, The Day After

You're over the turkey (well, ok, but maybe not the sides), so instead of a black Friday, make it a green week end. Do not see the inside of a big box store sales rack today; get out in the fresh air. Take a walk. Deck your halls. Hand craft a gift. Do a happy dance just because. 

Then, support your favorite small businesses on Saturday and do a little online cart emptying on Monday. 

May your days indeed be merry and bright.

UPDATE, late 11/27: The Ravelry gift-a-long 25% savings on designated patterns in my store is now over, but from Saturday, November 28 – the end of Monday, November 30, (PST), everything in my Ravelry store is 25% off, no coupon code needed, to celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  After Monday, no more sales in 2015, so get to it while the getting is good.

Monday, November 23, 2015

On Gift Making, Discounts and Loyalty

The Dutrieu Necklace design is
currently on sale in my Ravelry store with
the use of coupon code giftalong2015.
So we’re beyond the first full weekend of the Ravelry  2015 gift-a-long, and I cannot keep up with all of the projects. Really. No kidding. If you don’t keep up on reading the threads in each category (or at least in the categories under which your own gift projects are categorized) you’ll come back in 24 hours and see hundreds of posts. We are an extremely chatty bunch. I’ve acquired two patterns so far – the Etheria Cowl and the Snow Flurry Mittens - and I’m about a third of the way done with the lovely cowl, which I plan to gift to a family member. The mittens, however, will be mine, all mine. Stay tuned as I wrestle with my double pointed needles. I am, if nothing else, determined.

Progress on my Etheria cowl, a beautiful design from
Julia Trice, the designer at the helm of Mind of Winter.
Something came up in our gift-a-long planning group last week and it’s something about which I feel rather strongly, so I’m going to discuss it here because hey, to paraphrase the song, it’s my blog, and I’ll discuss it if I want to. In order to receive the 25% discount on my (or any participating designer’s) eligible designs this week through Friday, a purchaser needs to enter the code giftalong2015 in their online shopping cart. This rule is very heavily broadcast prior to the sale week. Nevertheless, many designers (myself included) always receive some sales for the full price of the pattern, absent the discount code. I have (both this year and last year) automatically refunded the discount portion of the sale back to the buyer, under the assumption that they just forgot to enter the code. Of course, not all purchasers forget. Some want to support independent designers and genuinely want to pay full price, so they purposefully omit using the sale code at checkout. When I wrote that I provided the refund, I received a few disagrees on my rationale – that if I were a brick and mortar store, the customer would expect the sale price to be rung up at checkout. Of course, since it’s a code, it can also be likened to a coupon, and if the customer doesn’t have the required coupon, the merchant is under no obligation to provide said discount. It also still leaves the choice with the buyer and takes the guesswork out of the equation on my end – did the person just forget to add the code, or does she/he really want to pay full price?
The Snow Flurry Mittens from Cynthia Levy. She's
allowed kind permission to use her photograph.

For me, however, I've been providing purchasers of my designs the discount automatically and without hesitation or reservation, and here’s why: I love my design small business. Perhaps my family's working class roots are showing here, but I consider it an extreme privilege to own a business that I not only love, but that also provides me with a small income. As a result, that privilege comes with a responsibility. As a customer in other’s businesses, I cannot tell you how many times someone at check-out has provided me with a coupon because I forgot the mailer or flyer at home, and each time I’ve been grateful. It also keeps me coming back as a customer. Why wouldn’t I want to do the same for my customers? I would hope that any lover of my designs choosing to pay full price would, in the face of my honest refund, happily purchase another pattern! I believe that building such a rapport with my customers is part of my responsibility. It's also something I enjoy doing. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m perfect (no saint here), but I give it my best shot each and every time. I hope those who purchase my designs recognize this and appreciate it.

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Leave me a comment and let me know as a customer whether you’d be grateful for the automatic refund, and if you’re a small business owner/designer, how do you handle this situation?

And for everyone: the Ravelry gift-a-long 25% savings on designated patterns in my store ends this Friday, but then I’ll have one more sale beyond Friday. From Saturday, November 28 – Monday, November 30, I’ll continue having 25% off everything in my Ravelry store, no coupon code needed, to celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  After Monday, no more sales in 2015. Hey, as I said, I’m a small business owner, not a saint. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And We're Off To the Gift-a-long Races!

I, along with about 334 other participating designers, hereby announce the 2015 Gift-a-long sale and holiday gift-making open. Woohoo! I have 20 designs on sale (which you can access from my Ravelry design page - just click on the Gift-a-long 2015 bundle photo montage and see all of them) between now and the end of the day (eastern standard time) on Friday, November 27.

However, we'll all be whipping up a handmade gift frenzy between now and the end of the year! Take advantage of the sale by all means, but then stay for the merry gift making. 

If you want to check out the Pinterest boards for the Gift-a-long, here are the links:

And, if you don't want to wade through thousands of pins, but want one designer's targeted curation, feel free to check out my curated 2015 holiday gift designs board. While my participating designs are absolutely pinned to it (!), there are 220 pins, representing a wide swath of all the knit and crochet designs, across most of the categories above, except feet (I don't do socks) and babies (cause I'd want to pin all the cuteness).

I leave you with a nifty visual of some of the statistics that our too-cool-for-stats-school statistician Kimberly put together. It's really pretty awesome to see the entire world getting in on this indie design/hand made gifts galore party.

Make all the things, people.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crochet as Mending Option

This area rug was, at one point,
about twice as long as it is
Even though slow fashion October is finished, I am still following several new-to-me people on social media, a few who do a fair amount of visible mending on clothing. I can't say I've done all that much visible mending on my clothes (although I have done some), I absolutely mend lots of things around my living space.

I have several area rugs, all of which I love. Some of them I've made, others were bought many, many years ago. Made of woven cotton, the commercially purchased rugs have traveled with me from one living space and state to another. All of them are washable, which make them perfect for my purposes. I love them underfoot, and cannot imagine my home without them.

One such woven cotton rug has really taken a beating. In fact, a few years ago I actually took shears to one end of this rug and chopped off a fair amount that had started to unravel. As you can see below, I took some white kitchen cotton I had on hand at the time, and performed a little quick single crochet Rx to the edge I sheared off:

See that neat single crochet edge? Compliments of my crochet
hook and some worsted weight kitchen cotton.
Most of that edge has remained in tact, but one corner has obstinately started to unravel once more. I didn't want to perform yet another chopping operation (!), so I decided to take a lesson from my visible mending brethren and fix it, to the best of my ability, using yarn I had on hand and my crochet hook. Here's a visual record of my mending effort:

So here is the offending corner in
its unraveled state.
Here are the crochet hooks I brought out for the fix, as well as bits and
bob of cotton in various shades of white and cream, as well as some
cream colored wool/acrylic blend. I decided on the white cotton and
my size I hook. I rejected the cream wool/acrylic - wrong color,
texture and feel for this rug.
The first thing I did was work a row of surface slip stitch up the edge of
the rug, around the loose woven pieces, to create a new edge.
Then I worked another surface slip
stitch row along the inside edge of the
unraveled area to aid in stopping
future unraveling.
I then worked one more row of surface slip stitch between the two
rows on each edge of the unraveling area. I then knotted several
pieces of cotton along the outer edge to actually aid in aesthetics
I then wove in all my ends (at top and bottom of mend area).
Here's a shot of the entire rug,
with the mended corner at top right.
And here's a close-up of the mended
corner. While certainly not perfect, it
actually is not only neat and tidy,
it definitely adds a different character
to the rug.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The GAL Excitement is Building

Hello everyone - we (us indie designers who have volunteered) have begun the Pinterest pinning frenzy! After a minor administrative hiccup on my part (that underscores my need, finally, for glasses), I am off to the races. I cannot wait to reveal the board links as well as my personally curated design board once this pinning portion is all done. The sale gets started next Thursday, and there are some absolutely beautiful designs this year for everyone to make, so get that hand-made-gift-worthy list together, and check it twice ... like ... pronto.

I thought I'd share with everyone another design of mine that's been out there for a while, but which I've recently added to my design store, and just for the GAL. As most everyone knows, I published a book earlier this year, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace. What I've done is pick out 4 designs from the book and made them available as individual pattern purchases only for the 2015 Indie Gift-a-long. Once the gift-a-long is over at the end of the year, so too will be the ability to purchase these four designs individually.

The back view of the bulky weight
version. Get a load of all that
textural goodness, as well as a
pretty nifty pompom.

One in particular, the Beryl Hat, I've also added a bulky weight version to the pattern, just for the GAL. We love those super quick gift projects, and this hat can be made pretty much in a long evening, or over a weekend if you're super busy. 

My model and I have nicknamed this the gnome hat, and it's totally appropriate. Both versions were made with Berroco Yarns (Abode for the original version, Peruvia Quick for the bulky weight) and just a few skeins of each are needed. I am, admittedly, particularly fond of the bulky weight version, but only because I just recently whipped it up.

Get excited about making all the things!