I’ve been busy busy busy actually knitting things since my last post. I finished the Daisy Socks and completely revamped the pattern. The task of editing that pattern was a little daunting and took me several days to finish, though the actually knitting went quite quickly. It made me very aware of how much I’ve actually learned and accomplished in the last two years of writing patterns and has reignited my excitement with the whole design process. I’ve got about ten more patterns that could use an update which will hopefully be a good use of my time during the “slow season” of knitting.
I’m also working on a new pattern for a pair of socks I just finished last night. I managed, with the grace of the knitting gods, to finish them in five days. I’m not sure if it was because I knit them one at a time (which I haven’t done in at least three years) or because they’re only one color, but whatever it was -they just flew off of my needles. They’re hanging up to dry as I’m typing this, and I’ve got the pattern mostly written up in another window. I’m currently debating hanging onto this pattern for a few months and maybe releasing it with a few others closer to the fall. I’ve got a few ideas brewing that would make a nice set with this pattern, but I’m also very impatient and know the pattern will burn a hole in my pocket? computer? while it’s waiting to be published.
My basket is plugging along nicely and is actually starting to resemble a vessel instead of a “floppy weird frisbee” as K called it. I like working on it, though I have to take frequent breaks from it because it’s murder on my hands, wrists, and shoulder. After two nights of steadily working on it I ended up with a kink in my neck that last for several days and the fun shoot-y kind of pain in my left arm. The process is so repetitive and takes a lot of hand muscle to keep everything pulled taught all the while getting heavier and harder to hang onto. I’ve got so many ideas about how to finish it, except it’s only a couple of inches tall and I’ve got many more to go before it’s ready for a decorative element. I really enjoy how meditative the process is, and it’s given me lots of ideas for more baskets, but it takes so long to make any progress towards a finished product that it’s hard to motivate my monkey brain to finish it. I think it’s going to end up being a long term project that I pull out between all the other things I want to do.
Nothing like 80 degree weather to make a girl feel like knitting again… I hadn’t really felt like knitting since finishing my sweater back in March but last week I felt the call of the needles again. I’m working on editing my Daisy Socks pattern, the first socks I designed almost two years ago now. I’ve learned so much about construction and pattern writing since then that I figured it couldn’t hurt to update the pattern a little bit. I’ve already changed the toe construction and I figured I would give an afterthought heel a try.
Turning heels is actually one of my favorite things about knitting socks. There’s something endlessly satisfying about how a handful of short rows can completely change the shape of something. It always feels a bit like mathematical witchcraft to me. But one of the things that’s kept me interested in knitting all these years is that there’s always more techniques to learn, and afterthought heels seem to make a lot of sense with colorwork socks. When I got to my foot length I knit in my waste yarn and then kept on zipping along through the leg. I spent most of last night knitting away and if I do the same tonight I’ll probably finish the leg. This way seems like there’s a lot less counting stitches and making sure my pattern is lined up properly, and saving the best part for last is certainly motivating.
I have maybe a weird question and need a bit of advice. The other day I got a Ravelry notification that someone making one of my designs had added a photo. I was super excited because it seems that a lot of the people purchasing my patterns don’t really use Ravelry to keep track of projects. I went to look at the photos, which show the lovely beginnings of a project but the knitting chart is clearly visible in two photos.
My heart immediately sank. My first thought was how to go about asking her to crop her photos or blur out the chart. But I’ve let it stew in my brain too long and now I’m not sure what to do. Knitting patterns are my primary income source, and I’d like to believe most people wouldn’t take her photos and try and use the chart, but I know some might – I probably would.
Is there a kind way to go about bringing this to her attention? It’s probably not an intentional thing, and they are lovely snapshots of her work. I would hate upset this person or lose business from people using her image in place of a purchased pattern. Or is this not a big deal at all?
Well it’s been a month in the making, but my latest pattern has finally gone up on Ravelry. My test knitters are finishing up (a blog post for a different time…) and the pattern went live yesterday morning (my computer ran out of battery before I could blog about it and I got into the celebratory vodka…).
Anyway, my Marka Mittens can be found here if anyone is interested. Lots of people worked hard for all of this to come together and I’m always humbled and amazed that literal strangers take an interest in what I make.
Things have been pretty slow around here. Trying to stay caught up on laundry, trying to cook healthier meals which means more dishes, and trying to sleep on a consistent schedule. Spent some time last week knitting away on my shawl and I started to notice my right wrist hurting. Decided to take a break on the shawl, you know, to rest my joints. Me being me, I couldn’t sit still and not knit anything for a day or two to feel better so I made a pair of mittens in about two and a half days. Now my wrists AND hands hurt. I’m shocked too…
Anyways mittens are finished and blocking, and now I just need to motivate myself to write up the pattern. The chart is pretty much done, it just needs a little tweak here and there to look nice. The writing part is what kills me, and I know that’s a shock to you all as well since I’m SO GOOD at blogging consistently these days. Once I get started it goes pretty quickly, and I know that, but for some reason it takes me forever to start writing. Somewhere in my brain I think that I need to have a pattern title and images before writing up the pattern, which is pretty illogical, those are the easiest things to add or change in a pattern. I guess I did start playing around with a few titles but they feel pretentious and also kind of lame. Finding titles I’m happy with is always such a struggle for me – it’s hard to come up with something original and memorable and on brand without being floofy or overly descriptive and boring. Are there professional title givers? I’m totally open to suggestions if you have a good one!
Hopefully I can talk K into going out sometime this week to help me take pictures, but he’s got a head cold, and I’ve got some kind of stomach thing so I won’t hold my breath. I’m hoping whatever bugs we’ve got go away quickly and I find some motivation to write out this pattern before the weekend. If I wait any longer by the time I get all the tech editing and test knitting done it won’t even be winter anymore.
Turning thoughts into things! Turns out it’s pretty cool to re-knit old things you’ve made. It’s crazy what a few years of experience will do. I remade that little santa stocking I talked about here and turned it into a little pattern. The new ones look way better than the old one if I do say so myself. My yarn choice/needle size is more effective and I used a duplicate stitch for the buckle instead of trying to knit it straight into the pattern. The pattern is available in my Ravelry Store if you’re looking for a quick little stash busting project. Also a great last minute gift for those people on your list who aren’t exactly knit-worthy but aren’t quite on your no-knit list this year.
Now my brain is buzzing with other little ornaments I could make which hopefully don’t involve a trip to the yarn store… We’ll see what I can come up with tonight!
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 29 & 30
What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?
I’m lumping these two together and then the list is finished! I am mcglarin on Ravelry, where you can creep on all of my projects. This is actually a good spot to see if there’s an upcoming pattern I’m designing because I use the project page to keep track of a lot of info. If you’re interested in the patterns I’ve designed and have available for purchase I am Kristen McLaren Designs on Ravelry as well.
Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?
There’s so much stuff to learn when it comes to knitting. There’s about 10 different ways to accomplish the same thing and what you do mostly depends on who you learned it from. I’m not going to go into technical things right here, I’ll save them for a future blog post maybe, but here’s a few things I’ve learned in my years of knitting:
WRITE IT DOWN
I can’t even tell you how many times I wish I kept better notes about something. I always assume I’m going to remember exactly what I’ve done. Part of my brain knows I won’t which is precisely why I knit most things two-at-a-time because at least they’ll match even if the next pair won’t. I’m going to work on getting better at this though because it tends to make more work for me when I’m trying to publish a pattern later and I can’t remember which way I started the heel or something.
This kind of goes along with writing everything down but it more applies to yarn. I recently re-balled, weighed out, and bagged up most of my knitting stash. Everything is labeled now and protected from any hungry moth creatures. I’ve also tried to be diligent about adding my new yarn to the stash page on Ravelry and also adding yardage and yarn info to projects so that it automatically updates my stash page (SO HELPFUL). This way I know pretty much exactly what I have and if I’m out shopping I can easily pick up more of something or I can remember which yarns I really didn’t like working with and to find something different for next time.
DON’T SKIP THE SWATCH
This is something I begrudgingly started doing after too many projects ended up being a let down due to size. It seems like such a bother when you want to jump right into a project but as they say ” A stitch in time saves nine.” Not only is swatching just good for checking that your gauge is correct, it’s also good to practice the stitch pattern and to check that you like the drape or feel of the fabric it makes. Knitting those four inches seems like such a pain, but it’s a lot less painful than ripping out half a sweater that you already know isn’t going to fit.
EMBRACE THE FROG
I am a notorious ripper-outer. If I don’t like how something is going I will rip that shit out. Part of this is perfectionism but why wouldn’t I want something I made to be perfect? I’ve ripped out entire projects in front of other people and the sheer horror in their eyes brings me a secret joy. Basically my philosophy on the subject is: if I know I’m not going to like it why would I finish it? Spending 40 hours making something you’re not going to wear is way worse, in my opinion, than frogging a project half way through and then spending 60 or 80 hours re-making it knowing you’re going to love it.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 24
Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out?
About three years ago I started to get bored with making other people’s patterns. I think it came about from having mostly weird sized yarn and not very much money to buy more. I designed a few mitten patterns for holiday gifts and just kind of whipped them together. Over the next few years I started making a few socks and baby sweaters just based on gauge and measurement standards. Nothing too fancy, just the basics. Then in the summer of 2016 I made these Daisy Socks and the rest, as they say, was history.
I got a lot of positive feedback on instagram and tumblr so I figured why not write up a pattern for them, how hard could it be? I already had the charts and the construction really isn’t that difficult to explain. I even found someone who wanted to test knit them (it only took her like five months to get around to finishing). I didn’t publish this pattern yet because I was hoping my test knitter would finish knitting, but in the mean time I was already working on another pattern. I ended up publishing two different patterns that October and decided to just go for it and publish the daisy socks without the test knitter in November.
It’s been about a year since I started and I now have 13 patterns available on Ravelry. I honestly can hardly believe it- people I don’t even know making things that came directly out of my jumbled brain garbage. There are definitely aspects I need to improve on this year as I take designing into a more and more professional realm, but I’m learning things with each pattern and always working to get better.
Once I make it through the holiday knitting rush I’ll have time and hopefully be bored enough of vanilla-ass socks to start designing patterns for next year. I also have every intention of maybe getting an etsy shop up and running. Lucky for you guys, you’ll probably be the first to know all the new things.
I skipped yesterdays blog prompt. I just didn’t have the energy to write anything and the topic seemed a bit redundant and needlessly negative. I feel the same about today’s so I’m going to skip this one too.
The mice are back. We woke up last Friday to the struggles of a not dead but very trapped mouse trying to crawl back down the hole with the trap. Not exactly a pleasant wake up. Thankfully K was able to deal with it. There’s another one in there tonight trying to eat our left over french fries. It does’t seem to be bothered for very long when I bang on the cabinet. I’ve taped the doors shut because the cat is very capable of opening the doors but maybe not so capable of doing the deed. It can enjoy some cold fries for it’s last supper and I’ll put our last trap under the sink tomorrow. It looks like someone had tried to cover the hole with foaming caulk of some sort but it’s obviously been chewed threw since then. We need to come up with a more permanent solution. I don’t like being responsible for all these mouse corpses.
I’ve been busy knitting away. I finished the snowflake socks and plan on making a matching hat, much like the tree set if you’ve been following along. I wrote a pattern for the tree set and published it a little over a week ago. Happy Trees is available HERE and HERE if you’re interested. I’ve been struggling to take halfway decent photo’s in this house. My parent’s have a nice weathered deck that worked really well for me in the past. I have dingy carpet, wood-like but not nearly floors, and weird colored walls. Outside is old blacktop and a crumbling but not aesthetically so concrete front porch. I’ve been considering building some sort of set to stage my garments because I just can’t get decent images. Another contributing issue is the fact that I’m rarely awake for any significant amount of day light. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, but for now it’s really frustrating me.
I also was finally able to publish a sock pattern I’ve been working on for months. This pattern was the subject of my very first #WIPWEDNESDAY. This one took a bit of finagling to get right. I decided to have it professionally tech edited which was incredibly nerve wracking but ultimately a good decision. Getting my files back all marked up was like getting a final paper back in college, only somehow worse. After that was all through I had test knitters work on it. This is something I’ve been doing for a while and I’ve been having a string of really bad luck with getting them to finish on deadline – or even at all. This batch was very helpful and gave me lots of feedback though. But anyways, Get a Room is available along with the rest of my patterns on Ravelry and I’d love for you to go check them out. A lot of hands (and feet – haha) went into this one and I’m really proud of it.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 6
What is your favorite piece that you’ve knit?
If anyone has followed any of my other social medias you’ll know that these mittens are my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever knit, and possibly ever made. I worked at developing this pattern for like three years. I tried a bunch of different yarns and cuffs and thumb shapes. I think I made five different mittens until I landed on these. I am so so so proud of them and I love wearing them.
I finished knitting them right before Valentine’s Day last year. K took me to the Wisconsin Dells for a little getaway that weekend and IT WASN’T EVEN COLD ENOUGH TO WEAR THEM. We went on a hike around Devil’s Lake that weekend, there were people all over the ice fishing and hanging out, but it was warm enough for actual living mutant mosquitos to be swarming around. It was a great weekend, but I digress.. I wore these guys on the hike anyways so I could have him take some photos for me since it’s pretty hard to take photos using your own hands as models.
Not only is this my favorite pattern, but it seems to be everyone else’s favorite of all the patterns I’ve published. If you’re interested in make a pair for yourself (or your mother-sister-daughter-grandma-girlfriend-bestfriend because the holidays are eminent) my Russian Flower Mittens pattern is available on Ravelry and theres also a matching hat pattern!