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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's the Indie Gift-Along 2014 !

Indie Gift-Along 2014

There is a terrific event happening on Ravelry starting this month; it’s the Indie Gift-Along. There are 2 parts: first, there are many, many, independent designers participating, and each of us is offering a 25% discount on selected patterns.Second, there will be KALs to join as you make your gifts, with fun, games, contests, and prizes.

You are invited join us at the Gift-Along Group  to participate.
There will be hundreds of prizes, beautiful projects, access to your fave Indie Designers, and heaps of friendly, giftie chatter.  
My gift to you is a 25% discount on my patterns when you use the coupon code “giftalong2014” from Nov 13 – Nov 21 EST. See them all here.

Here are just some of the great designs you can scoop up, for gifts or for yourself.
 (You will have to have a Ravelry account to do this. If you don’t, you should join! Ravelry is a ton of fun, and very helpful as well!) 

Make 1 Get 1

One of the things that makes designers happy, is seeing their designs brought to life by knitters. To see that your design is appreciated, to see the many color and yarn choices  that you come up with, is really gratifying. To give you a little incentive to put up your projects on Ravelry, I have a deal for you. I’m calling it Make 1, Get 1

For every one of my patterns that you post as finished projects on Rav, between now and Jan 31, 2015, I’ll send you the pattern of your choice from my Ravelry Store. 
For the finished projects, I’m just going to exclude free patterns;  they need to be purchased patterns, or patterns out of published magazines or books. It can be a pattern you bought in the past, or one you’re about to buy.
Just send me a PM (personal msg) on Rav (ID=Goodstuff) when you’ve done it, telling me which pattern you’d like as your gift.  That’s it!

I look forward to seeing your project pages!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review - Woven Scarves

 Today's Review - Woven Scarves

 Find it for sale at the Interweave site, or wherever you purchase craft books.

I really enjoyed reading through this book and admiring all the pretty scarves. 
The book introduces weavers to a broad sampling of weaving techniques and exploring various ways of creating cloth on a rigid heddle loom.
Scarves are a great way for new and seasoned weavers alike to practice and explore weaving techniques.  
Now, I'm not a weaver, so I really couldn't assess the book beyond admiring the pictures, so I gave it to my friend Beth, who IS a weaver.  Here are her comments.
* * * 

Thank you again for the book, I recently sat down and went through it.

This book is actually for the rigid heddle loom.  I started out on a Schacht 20” Flip rigid heddle loom and within a year moved on to a Schacht Baby Wolf four shaft floor loom.  I now have a LoĆ¼et David eight shaft floor loom.

One of my frustrations when I was weaving on the rigid heddle loom was a lack of really interesting projects.  There was one rigid heddle book by Jane Patrick (who co-wrote this book and who is married to Barry Schacht) called ‘The Weaver’s Idea Book’ that I used when I was learning to weave.  The book was very good in terms of being instructional, and had lots of wonderful color photos of different types of weaves;  however, the book lacked actual projects.  Being a beginner, I really needed start-to-finish guidance.  Consequently, I wove samples of all kinds of weaves and did not do anything with them.

Had this book ‘Woven Scarves’ been around when I was weaving on the rigid heddle loom, I may have stuck with it longer.  The projects are much more sophisticated than any I’ve seen for this type of loom and the use of color and texture is fabulous.   This book can teach a beginner how to make a scarf, but more importantly, the wonderful fabric creations inspire one to go beyond scarf-making.   The authors also teach techniques such as felting, fringe twisting, pom-pom making, fulling, dying, - even a step-by-step instruction how to deconstruct a sweater to re-purpose the yarn.

I still have my rigid heddle loom and will most likely put it back to use now that I have this book.
 * * * 

Thanks for the review, Beth!
Above are a couple of the 26 scarf designs in the book. Check it out!

P.S. I was given a copy of the book to review.