Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review - Rustic Modern Knits - and a Giveaway!



Today’s book review includes an interview with the author and a giveaway.

By Yumiko Alexander
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

Just want to enter the giveaway? Post your comment here on the blog to enter, and please include contact information – an email or a Ravelry ID.  Tell us why you want to win the book. That’s it. 
Drawing will take place on May 7th.

I had previously seen Yumiko’s designs at Stitches West, and was impressed with the originality of her work. In the book, the Japanese influence made the designs just a bit different from the everyday. They are functional and fashionable, yet not the pieces you’ll find everywhere in clothing stores. A few of my faves:

with permission Interweave/F+W
Wisteria – loose unstructured vest, in sport weight yarn.  


English Garden – large scale entrelac pattern.  

Garden path – chunky scarf, crescent  shape. 

Lotus Lace – in worsted weight  (cover picture)

To be honest, there were a few pieces I didn’t care for, but this just shows that the designer isn’t playing safe – she takes risks.

Here is an interview with the author, Yumiko Alexander.

1.      What led you to publish this book?
I published the Rustic Modern Knits book with Interweave for several reasons.  I love sharing my designs with people and books are a great way to reach a large audience.  Interweave is a great company and produces quality work and has a large customer base.  I also published Rustic Modern Crochet with Interweave the year before.
2.      How would you describe your style?
Many people have said my style is a combination of Japanese and American. I don’t really think about the culture when designing. I know my designs contain simple shapes with fan knitted/crocheted fabric that combined some stitch patterns.
3.      What makes a design work?
I think it needs to be unique.  A useful, functional and stylist design that can’t be found in everyday clothing stores.
The combinations of stitch patterns make attractive garments and keeps knitter’s interests and enjoyment while creating their unique piece.
4.      What is your process like; i.e. what steps do you follow to create a design?
My design ideas come from what I want in my closet.
I keep notes on what I would like to wear and ideas of interesting shapes.  I usually think what style/shape of garment I want to make, then I start swatching.  This part of the process takes most of the time. The swatching process helps me identify what stitch pattern I want to use.  Usually the yarn tells me how it wants to be worked.  While I am knitting, I get more ideas of what I want to add/change to the design.
5.      How do you know when a design will be successful, or do you ever know?
I wish I could predict what will be successful.  After designs are published, I am often surprised with which designs are most popular.
6.      Which are some of your favorite designs - ones you’re just in love with?
“Japanese Lantern” (in Rustic Modern Knits)
“Sands and Shells” (In Rustic Modern Crochet)
“Mesa” (in individual pattern)
7.      Finally, what are you working on right now that has you excited?
Most of my designs are worked in heavier weight than Sport weight/DK weight yarn.  This year, I have been trying to make designs with lighter weight yarn.  I am also making a few designs with Tencel fiber which I have not used in the past.

Thanks, Yumiko!

To recap, if you’d like to win a copy of Rustic Modern Knits, please comment here on the blog. Don’t forget your contact information!

Thanks to Interweave/F+W for the review copy of the book.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Patterns - New Magazine - I Like Knitting!

I’m excited to announce that I have 4 published patterns in the latest issue of I Like Knitting magazine.
This is a relatively new addition to the knitting magazine world – it’s geared for viewing or downloading to your iPad or desktop or laptop computer.  It has 28 beautiful knitting designs, tutorials, articles, and gift ideas. Mother’s Day is coming!

My designs include 3 shawls and a classic houndstooth handbag.

The Ocean Spray Shawl – an easy garter stitch, side-to-side construction.   

The Sandy Skies Shawl  - a graceful crescent shape 

 and Coral Sands – which features a unique angled V shape and easy mesh lace edging. 


Boulevard Houndstooth Bag – features simple colorwork and a classic color scheme.  

You can subscribe with this link: I Like Knitting
I hope you’ll try it out! Subscribe today to receive the latest issue of I Like Knitting on your iPad or your Desktop.
This month's features:
     Get ready for the season with 28+ fresh designs.
    Treat your mom, or yourself, with patterns just for moms!
     Avoid I-cord confusion with the step-by-step guide.
     Explore the new sampled stitches series!

Talk to you again soon, with a new book review.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Have a Ravelry Group Now

Yes I Have a Ravelry Group

I'd love it if you would join us. It's called Brenda Castiel Designs (witty, I know!)
We have about 300 members and are growing fast. It is the place to get pattern support; join KALs; show off your FOs; and general chat.  You'll find coupon codes, contests, and other fun stuff.
I will also be running my test knits here.
Everyone is welcome!

  I just realized that coupon codes such as the one I set up for members of my Group, RAVGROUP, will not work for people in EU countries, because you are directed to the site -- which doesn’t accept coupons.
So I have unlinked the LoveKnitting site. Now you’ll get your patterns from Ravelry as before, and they'll be safely stored in your Ravelry library.
And I extended the code till Feb. 4, 2015 to give you a little more time to shop.
If you have any problems or questions please contact me. Thanks!

New Pattern - Tiny Bubbles Top - and a Knit A Long

Who's ready for some spring/summer knitting?
I just published the Tiny Bubbles Top pattern, a seamless top with a Henley neckline and a bit of lace trim. It's slightly A-line for comfort and ease. Here it is on a model,

and here it is on me:

I'm running a KAL in my Ravelry Group for this top, (and you'll find a nice coupon code there), so join in the fun! The KAL runs until March 20. There will be prizes awarded to those who finish.
I look forward to seeing your projects!

See you next time, with knitting tips, some sneak peeks, and a new book review!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

EU VAT Changes in 2015

EU VAT Changes
There are major changes in EU VAT taxes that will impact downloadable patterns beginning on January 1, 2015. If you aren’t in an EU country, this will not impact you.
If you are in an EU country, when you buy one of my patterns, you will be directed to a UK site called LoveKnitting, who will handle the VAT payment. You’ll still get the pattern in your Rav library.

If for some reason, you don't want to go through just contact me at bcastiel(at)yahoo(dot)com and we'll work something out.

If you have any problems or questions please contact me. Thanks!

I've been busy completing some projects for a new magazine, called I Love Knitting.
I can't show them here, but they include 3 shawls in 3 different shapes, and a hounds-tooth patterned handbag.  They turned out great and I'm very excited about them.

New Yarn
I received some lovely yarn from the Three Irish Girls for a new project. It's Springvale Worsted in 100% merino. Aren't the colors great?
These are such a pleasure to work with.

Some other new yarn that came to me recently comes from Outlaw Yarns in New Zealand.

There is Bohemia Sport / 5 ply, 45% Alpaca, 45% Polwarth Wool, 10% Possum; 
 and  Vanitas DK, DK / 8 ply, 90% Alpaca, 10% Merino.
Bohemia Sport

They are both super-soft and I can't wait to cast on with them!

I hope you are also looking forward to some fun projects in the new year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review - Everyday Lace By Heather Zoppetti

** The winner is rosanna tablet, entry #10. Rosanna, please get in touch with me! **

Everyday Lace By Heather Zoppetti 

By Heather Zoppetti
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

When I received the book Everyday Lace, I first thought it was perhaps a “dumbed-down” approach to lace knitting, in an attempt to make it accessible to the novice knitter.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Among accomplished knitters, we can sometimes forget that there are newer knitters out there, who may not want to work on 3 colors at once, intarsia in the round, or lace and cable socks. And there are certainly very accomplished knitters who want a relaxing knit.

So, while I would agree that Heather has made these lovely designs accessible, they are not “dumbed down”. They have the pretty details and tailored finishes that anyone would look for in a knitting design. Yet many would qualify as "TV knitting" once you get the lace pattern established.  There are 18 patterns included; they range from simple accessories to shaped garments, with lace used as an easy accent or more challenging all-over pattern.

 I passed this book around at my local knitting group and it received an enthusiastic "thumbs-up". Here are a few favorites: The cover sweater is Ephrata Camisole  a really pretty, wearable piece.  

F+W Publications, by permission

                                                                                                    Millway Socks    








Manheim Fitted Pullover  


  Manor Ridge Shrug 

The headband would make a great introduction to lace knitting for the novice. 
The book has the usual added features such as clear explanations of specific techniques, such as buttonholes, special cast ons and bind offs, and special stitches.  

I especially liked the discussion of chart reading, blocking techniques, and the use of lifelines.  I haven’t seen these in too many books and they are certainly important to know.

A Giveaway

Want to win your own copy of the book? Just leave a comment on the blog, telling me your favorite pattern in the book. Also, sign up for my monthly newsletter, if you haven't already done so.  I'll pick a name at random, at the end of business day, on Dec 18. Please, please leave a Ravelry name or an email so I can contact you if you win! The winner's name will also be posted right here.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publishers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Interview with Designer Kate Bostwick

Interview time!

As part of the Gift Along 2014, some of us are interviewing other designers. 
Kate Bostwick aka CowtownKnits, has some lovely designs included in the program. 
Gift Along 2014

Get 25% off these patterns with the code giftalong2014 during the GAL sale period - Thursday November 13th (8pm EST) through Friday November 21 (11:59pm EST).

Then come participate in the GAL - chat with designers and other crafters, play games, win prizes, and more importantly finish all the things!!!

Kate was kind enough to answer my questions about designing, her process, and more.... 
 * * *
Thanks for the great questions! They gave me an opportunity to reflect on my designing, my process, and how I feel about all of it.

1.       what makes a design work?

I think a design needs to have a two things in order to work.
1)      A point of interest. That may be an interesting stitch pattern, some colourwork, a unique shape. Just something that catches your eye.
2)      Good construction. Knitters want to enjoy working on the piece so it has to be something that comes together in a way that makes sense.
If you can take an idea and make it work within those two points, I think the design will work.

2.        what is your process like; i.e. what steps do you follow to create a design ?

I start with an idea, wherever the inspiration comes from. Then I make a quick sketch of the idea and make notes of all the important aspects of it like ease, yarn weight, shape, construction, finishing techniques, stitch patterns, etc.
After that I will start swatching, usually with something from my stash. The next step depends on whether I am going to submit the pattern to a 3rd party, request yarn support, or head to my LYS and pick something up myself. In the latter case, I will make a new swatch with the yarn I picked out to determine gauge. If I’m submitting somewhere else or seeking yarn support then I will use the gauge from the initial swatch and start doing some calculations. This allows me to make a schematic and work out whether the stitch patterns, proportions and construction are going to work. If submitting to a 3rd party or seeking yarn support, this is the point where I would put together a submission proposal outlining the idea and showing a more polished sketch and schematic.
Next comes what I think is the meat of the design process. I sit down at the computer and start crunching numbers. Once the pattern writing starts, I work back and forth between calculating and writing the instructions. I will also create the necessary charts at this time. Ideally I will have written the entire pattern before I even cast on a stitch. Once I do start knitting the sample, I do it from the written instructions, making notes along the way of where the instructions could be clearer or adding steps I didn’t think of during the initial writing.
Once the sample is done I fix and format the pattern and send it off to the technical editor. She goes over it with a fine-toothed comb and makes sure everything is correct, concise, and makes sense.
From there the pattern is off to the testers. If the testers find any significant problems or any major changes are made then I will send the pattern back to the editor for one final pass. Somewhere during all of that I will take photographs. I put it all together and then, finally, it’s ready to release to the world.

3.        how do you know when a design will be successful, or do you ever know ?

I wish I knew! I have been surprised so many times, for better and worse. My 2 best sellers were patterns that I didn’t have high expectations for, and my worst sellers are ones that I thought would do well. It can be quite nerve-racking to put a new pattern out since you have no idea how It’s going to be received.

4.        which are some of your favorite designs - ones you’re just in love with ?

Hmm… Of my own work, I’d have to say it’s the things that have not yet been published. I’m always most in love with the thing that’s in my head at the time. I have one coming out soon that I think will be my favourite for a long time though.
As far as others’ work, there’s lots. Persian Dreams by Jenise Reid is simply stunning. I wish I had more time to work on other people’s patterns because I would be all over that one.
I’m also a huge fan of both Lee Meredith and Annie Watts. They both have the ability to come up with something new and interesting that you wish you had thought of.

5.        finally, what are you working on right now that has you excited ?

Right now I’ve got one pattern in editing and another in testing that are going to round out my Powder Day Collection. They are my two favourite pieces from the collection so I’m excited about them.
I’m also mulling around some ideas for a colourful collection of sweaters I’d like to get started on after the holidays. I’ve started swatching for those and figuring out how they’ll all fit together. 
Sunshine Mitts
 Thanks, Kate, for the thoughtful replies. I really enjoyed getting to know you.