Category Archives: Design

Maia Shawl- is now released!

Maia Shawl

The Maia Shawl is now released. I had started this shawl so long ago, and then between surges of other shawl ideas and such, I finally finished this one. The edging took a few tries. The first couple, I would  work out, take a photo and show the testers, and would get yays or nays. Well, the third one was a charm- and it fit. It complements the body so well!

EDIT: I am editing this to let everyone know that Cerdeb of Ravelry has started a CAL for this shawl! Click here for Ravelry Maia CAL!

The yarn I used was called Jaggerspun Zephyr. It is 50% Merino and 50% Tussah Silk. While it has a low plush-factor (which is my term for billowy, stretchy, plushy), which is due to the silk, it lends itself well to this stitchery. It comes on a cone, so if you are thinking of getting it, at least where I got it from – Webs, so you will not need to worry about having to wind it on a ball winder using a swift. The yarn blocks incredibly well. So well, I purchased about 8 more cones of this yarn! (Shhh more shawls are on the loose). In the gallery of photos below, you will see photos before blocking, and then after. You will see, that it is normal for lace yarn to have the *crumpled* look, as I call it. It is bunched up.. and as usual, only has a small resemblance of the final piece.

The magic is in the blocking! I think of blocking like hairspray. Remember the 80s? I am an 80s child. I do not think my hair resembled anything like it did before an evening of hairspray :) And this is also where a little bit of art comes in. I know how lace behaves. So when designing, I will make little peaks and valleys, which will be my points I know I want to emphasize. After a good soak in lukewarm water, for say a couple hours, I gently take my shawl out, wrap it in a towel (never wring or make any friction – you may felt your work)! Unwrap it, and then stretch it out. Weave in wires along each side. That the work of setting the spine for the shawl. Now the detailed part of the work begins- pinning all of the points.

So you look at the before final, and say hey! I do not see the lovely fine points like I do in the final photos. That is because they are blocked out. That’s the hairspray. If you want a certain point to stick out, take a pink, stretch it out to where you want and pin it down. Do this do every single point (the pinning is hairspray)! Allow this to dry at least over night. (Note: Do not use *real* hairspray)! Once you take your pins off, you will see each point is where you pinned it- magic! It may be hard to grasp, until you have actually blocked a piece of lace yourself. If you look at the gallery photos of the shawl being blocked, you will see I first run 2 long wires along each side of the shawl. I then pin out each little peak, because I purposely want those to come to a point. You do not necessarily have to do this, but it sure makes it look gorgeous. Look closely at the before and after photos, and look where I placed my pins. Isn’t blocking amazing?

When I want to create an edging, I usually sketch it. I know what I want it to look like. See the nice fans in the edging? They have a convex shape. Same with the flowers in the innermost part of the body. They too are convex. I could have gone too with a convex like edging, but I wanted something that would stand out. So what I did, was used the little flower *spokes* like the innermost part of the body, placed them too in the edging, but made triangular scallops with them, and then made little sharp points in the trim. And voila, we have a striking ensemble of stitchery. Well, to my eye that is.

I do not yet have a stitch chart available for this pattern. But I will! I switched over programs, and am quickly trying to grasp the ways of the new program. As soon as this is done, there will be a chart available for this. If you purchased this pattern at the Crochet Garden, then all you will need to do is go into your account and download the pattern again. I will make an announcement here, as well as in a newsletter, so be sure you are subscribed!! If you purchased the pattern on Ravelry, you will receive a note saying there is an update available. If you purchased this pattern on Etsy, or through some other venue, be sure you are subscribed to the newsletter at the Crochet Garden. All you will then need to do is drop me a note with your receipt number, or whatever information you have from your purchase, and I will email you the updated pattern.

There is also now a Support Forum for the Maia Shawl, in case anyone runs into trouble, or wants to post their photos!

I really hope everyone enjoys this shawl!! Please let me know what you think. Also, I am on a lace binge – do you have a favorite lace yarn you like to use? Please do let me know about it, and I will see about getting my hands on it and create more designs in lace weight yarn! :) Thank you too, for the fantastic response to this shawl. I really hope it meets your expectations. If you find anything that would make my patterns or designs better, please, please do let me know. I design for all of you!

The Juliet Dress

Juliet Dressjuliet_01Today I have released the Juliet Dress! When I started this set, I did not know what to expect. It started out plain, with no character… just a plain Jane. Little did I know that a beautiful Juliet was awaiting. And if you are planning on ordering it- here is a coupon for a dollar off! This will be good for a week (through July 15). Code: 3c290353b5

There are so many sizes! I actually started out with just child sizes. Then testers asked for baby sizes – that it was just too darling for the wee little ones too! And so this dress now spans 6 months to 10 years! All sizes are included in the pattern. The flowers’ center is a large button – isn’t it always fun to shop for notions? The sunhat brim uses a wire to give that Audrey Hepburn look.

Unlike many of my other dresses, this one uses a sport weight. I used Knit Picks Comfy Sport Yarn for this. Quicker to work up – and with so many sport weight yarns available, the color combos are endless. I could not be any  happier with the yarn choice.  The colors are Flamingo, Silver Sage, and Ivory. It looks like Silver Sage is about to be discontinued- so hurry and get it while you can! If you are not able to get the Silver Sage, I think the Honey Dew or even the Crème Brulee would make wonderful substitutions.

The yarn was great to work with- and even better machine washable! That means kid friendly. Sometimes cotton yarn gives me a dry feeling in my  hands, and then later I need to apply lotion. Working with the Comfy gave me no problems. It was very soft, and the drape is fantastic. Definitely a choice I will pick  again and again when I want a cool, breathable, practical yarn for a garment, or even an afghan!

PS – The Maia Shawl has been released! (The little sneak peak I gave you the other day). It is up on the website and available for purchase. It is not yet on Ravelry, at least at my time of writing this, but the Juliet Dress is up on Ravelry!

Something New, This Way Comes…. (shh)

sneakA while ago, I mentioned that I had been working on more lace shawls. Since the Dragonfly, and now the Midsummer Night’s Shawl… I will be releasing a new lace shawl, but on the Crochet Garden website. The only thing waiting, is a name. I am so pleased with how this came out! This is one of the numerous shawls I began working  on since my move. In a surge to feel and touch every lace out there available, and to really explore the properties of all the different fibers with crochet lace, this new shawl and yarn used met my expectation, and then some! I will be able to tell you more, as well as blocking photos I have, once I release. I really need to figure out a name, so that I can let this baby free! Hmm, Baby Free?

Bustier Top – Published

Bustier Top - Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009

Bustier Top - Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009

Weeeeee! So much in this current issue of Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009! First, we have the Bustier Top. I know it sounds cliche’ but man, I really loved designing this.

Here are a few helpful links to start us off: Bustier Top On Ravelry, Bustier Top available at Interweave Crochet.

How often do I design women’s garments? Not often enough after this. When I started designing crochet patterns, I mostly created baby items, due to fire child being an infant. I did long to create garments for the adult, but at that time, baby and tot items reigned.

It is now coming to be that she is growing older, and while I can still make things for her, I am feeling myself wanting to transition, or well not transition, but broaden my garment designing area.

So alas, we have the Bustier Top!

Bustier Top, back/side view

Bustier Top, back/side view

I wanted something feminine, but not something that screams I am a girl and then some! I wanted something that would be classy, but still be sexy. I wanted something to hide bra straps. Perhaps that is from me being your larger than the run of the mill bust sizes…But either way, for this my inclination was – no bra straps showing. They do have their place,  with the layering of camisoles and tanks that are abundant these days, (oh how I wish I could get away with that look), but for some reason, this one just said, “cover me, if just a little…”

Just like all of my baby tot wear, this garment works from the top down. It really, really is highly customizable too. And I think that can be a problem in the industry. Seeing a striking outfit, fitted on an hourglass model, and an apple shape works it up, only to be disappointed.

Busttier Top, back view

Bustier Top, back view

Some garments are only meant to be for a pear shape, or an hourglass shape. That may be due to the nature of the style of the outfit, or the way the instructions are written not allowing much room for customization, if any at all.

With the Bustier Top, I designed in such a way that all important that all of our shapely parts can be accodomated, from a small A cup, to a DD cup, from that slim straight hip figure to the curvacious Monroes out there.

Even more, there is really no increasing and decreasing. There is, in a sense, but not in the traditional way. The traditional way of working increases does occur when working from the should along the armhole. But for the busy, hip and waist shaping, there is no change in the number of sts, only in the size of the sts!

Busttier Top, on dress form

Bustier Top, on dress form

And since this piece works from the top down, it is easy to just try as you go. Basically, the sts change in size for shaping. Using more smaller sts (instead of the bigger sts) result in a smaller area. Just as a simple example, let’s say we have 50 sts all the way around (this is just figuratively here).

When shaping around the waist, someone with a small waist may work 20 small sts and 30 large sts, and someone with little curvature may work 5 small sts and 45 large sts. Someone with your average curves may work 10 small sts and 40 large sts. And then the distance one works the amount of large sts and small sts over can be cutomized as well – and this is very important when it comes to the bust. A larger bust will need more area to be covered.

Bustier Top, edging

Bustier Top, edging

The pattern of course gives guides as a baseline, but when it comes to customization – the floor is yours!

My favorite part, aside from the customization, is the edging. Oh, how you really will see how beautiful it is when you work it up. Without closeups in the magazine, it is hard for one to really see how it brings together the whole top to a final grand finale. I call it my closed floral lace stitching. I had a lot of testers work this top up and will see about getting some of their photos posted here! If you work this top up, please let me know how it goes!

I will write in later blog  posts about the other items of interest in this issue  – Rainbow Rolls and an article!

Criticize My Submission Proposal!

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Have you always wondered what other designer’s submissions look like? Are you a new designer wanting to submit something somewhere? Are you a seasoned designer, but with a curiosity of how others “do it?” Are you a customer who always wondered what all of this is about? Maybe at some point you have pondered about what this process entails.

I put myself out in the open here, and show and describe one of my first proposals in my career. But first, I wanted to talk a little but about submitting a proposal.

There are many ways to make a proposal when submitting a design. Some companies have their own guidelines. First, just like a job interview, you research the company. I repeat, do your homework. Find out if there is indeed a procedure to follow when submitting. Some companies may have a set file or email that they will pass on to you that spells everything out – what to do, how to do it, and in what order. Some companies, especially yarn companies, can vastly differ in procedures.

Here are some things to think about…

Is there an editorial calender?

Some companies may have what kind of themes they have going for each issue, from projects sought, sometimes right down to the colors. Some companies have no calendar.

Do they want just a swatch, or an entire project?

Some companies, and this seems to be more often lately, want a swatch, but accompanied by a sketch. (More on sketch/swatch proposals this later in this post). It makes sense, that most companies want a sketch (nothing elaborate) of your basic idea. This can be simple stick figure drawings, simple squares, triangles. No need to go to art school. Something basic to convey your idea across.

Anything you send – whether a swatch or a full garment, if you want it back, do include return postage! If anything, to me, in my little opinion regardless whether it is required or not, it is only courtesy. And do not forget your address! The outside box may be tossed upon opening.

So anyway, many companies to request a swatch to be included in your submission. The swatch is for them to see the execution of your design. They most likely are asking many questions whilst examining your swatch:

1. How is the drape? If they are seeking a nice drape, skim-the-body slinky tunic type of garment, and your swatch is in a tight sc stitch, this would most definitely need to be remedied.

2. Is this stitch appropriate for the design? Choosing an open work lace scarf accompanied with the description of it being a warm scarf to protect from the elements would not mesh. Either the stitching would need to change, or the description and practicality of the scarf would need adjustment.

3. Is this fiber appropriate for the design? When making garments for babies and toddlers, think comfortable. Do not choose an itchy wool (unless of course we are talking soakers. Although not always, it is nice for things to be machine washable for these little ones. Is this a bikini to sunbathe in, or to actually swim in? If to swim in, forgo the cotton- unless these are intended for swimming exhibitionists! (Cotton will sag… sag, sag, sag….). If this is a summer top, do not use alpaca! Yes, it is sooo soft, but eh, unless you are looking for a substitute of those losing-weight-sweatin’-space-suits…

4. Not only is the stitch and fiber appropriate for the design, is the stitch and fiber a happy couple? For example, if you are creating cablework, working in a variegated yarn will take away from the stitch detail. If you are aiming for a lacy affect, thinner yarns are more effective than heavier yarns, as well as using a larger hook than usual. If working cables, is this the best fiber to really show the definition?

Will they accept emailed photos?

I think this will soon come to be the norm, or at least accepted simultaneously alongside with snail mailed swatches, especially how everything is going digital and everywhere you go, technology is catching up, or well, people are catching up.


Even freelance designing you have deadlines. Learn their deadlines for submissions if they have them, and respect them. Be on time.


The bottom line is do your research. You will not caught off guard if you know what is expected and you do it, conforming to their wishes. Treat it like any job interview. It is after all, a job, and like in the real world, it is their impression of you – make it a strong one!

Proposal from 2007



This proposal example and this post is NOT a “How to submit a crochet design.” Do NOT not Not NoT think that.

The purpose of this post is for you to think for yourself and to give you the opportunity to compare, and then examine your own procedures, past experiences, and future encounters. You are to actively decide for yourself what you would do, what you would not do… Think about what you would do better, and what you can improve upon.

You should not be reading this post passively as though it is the grail to proposals, absorbing each and every word through osmosis! Be critical. Say it how it is. What is wrong? What is right? If you have never submitted before, what would you definitely not do?  There are things knowing what I know now, I would change. Some things I would keep, others not. Be an active reader in this, and criticize not only me, but be critical of yourself (in a constructive way).

Ok… so here is one of my submissions that I just happened to find last night and took some photos of this morning. Not that I was looking for it.. my place is in a disarray, as usual, and I looked down and there it was. A little beaten up, but still functional for tonight’s purpose :)

Submission Background Info: This was my second submission, ever. I never had any advice how to submit a proposal, what to include, etc. My first submission proposal was similar to this.

This submission was to a magazine, and it was one of I think 2 in the same package. One submission was accepted, with this one being held onto for a possible future publication. Eventually, this dress was sent back to me with the nice rejection letter, but with another design chosen in its stead.

As you see, I have numbers scattered all over the place. Here is a little synopsis of each area that I included.

The size of paper I chose for this was about the size of 2 standard sheets of paper. It was a poster board weight.

#1: Stapled unstitched samples of yarn to proposal page

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

What I would do again:

I would give swatches of the yarn again of what I used in my example. When not stitched, the editor can see (and you know, all us creative types feel with our hands) it in its lone state. He/she can study the yarn, in case he/she would like to substitute. And, I think it just looks nice and professional. Most likely, the editor is familiar with the yarn your swatching with, but to me, it never hurts to be a little detailed.

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Instead of stapling it to the paper, I think I would staple it to an index card, and then tie that to the garment/swatch, and then write on the index card the yardage, weight, color(s), etc. But then again, maybe not, I do not see this as being a detriment if this were to go on the proposal itself.

#2 Wrote down material properties & size of model

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Here you see I wrote down the name of the yarn I used, the amount in yards and grams per ball, and the size of the model. You may not have a model size, as most often, a swatch and a sketch will be sent. But sometimes, you may have the model complete, for whatever reason, and I would include this information.

What I would do again:

I would definitely give the information on the ball/skein, such as the amount of yards and grams. I would also definitely include the size of the model (s).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

To include next time

To include next time

Looks messy to me :) I think I would just present it in a more concise manner. For example, underlining “Sample Size” as I did to the name of the yarn. I would also maybe make a list such as what is shown to the right.

I am thinking maybe more along the lines the feel of a real pattern already in the making, but not. As you know, patterns at the beginning list the materials, sizes, etc. So I would think it would be best (unless otherwise instructed to you by a company) to include vital information, and then some.

Why? Well, it could be that I am highly detail oriented so much that I can be anal retentive this way… And it could very well be my tendency to be a perfectionist. But I think about if I did the accepting and rejecting. I would want to know some information. I would want to know the designer is intimate with his/her project. I think this also conveys confidence, and a willingness to get things right. If anything, what can it hurt? Maybe that last line is a copout – but only for the quick and hasty who just “want to get it done.”

#3 Wrote down color number of each yarn used, usage, written directly below corresponding to yarn sample.

Color numbers, amounts used

Color numbers, amounts used

What I would do again:

If I had the project completed, I would definitely write down the amount of yarn used. If I only had a sample, I would give an estimate, if I felt confident. If anything, a range of an estimate. In one of my publications of another source, they took into account the amount it would cost the consumer to make the project. In the end, they chose a different yarn to be more budget-friendly. This is not always the case. If anything, it gives an editor an idea of the amount needed, for whatever reason- and hopefully ordering reasons! :)

What I would not do again, or do differently:

If I could, I would estimate the amount needed for other sizes.. but then this would be pushing it, and is not really needed.

#4 What is included in set, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

Information about project

What's included, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

What I would do again:

Include all the information. I do like how I underlined certain words, to bring attention to them.  Just as in example #2, I would make a list, underline, or somehow bring emphasis to the title (such as Sizes, Skill, etc) in a list form, and then fill in the information.

One thing that I really like and ALWAYS do is include versatility of the garment, and what makes it unique.

Unique: I firmly believe this is so important! Ask yourself this, what makes your project different. What makes it stand out. What did you do that is clever, catchy, or off the beaten path per se? That I know will catch the eye of all editors. A common theme I have seen, is they want something different. And this does not necessarily mean something crazy and totally off the wall (though it could), but basically, what makes your design not a “run of the mill” design?

Versatility: When it comes to getting published, or anything in life, flexibility.. with adaptability is the key. What I try and do with my projects whenever possible, is include how the pattern can be changed. Whether it is the sizes included, the number of colors used (for example – This pattern colorwork can use any multiple of number of colors except for 3 – Such as was the case with my Borealis pattern).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Make it neater, and more organized.

#5 Swatch

Here, I stapled a swatch. Always include a swatch. For this, I included a finished flower applique in addition for examination. Since it was small, I wanted it affixed to the proposal. I think this worked just fine, but would not with a larger swatch, as it would make handling the proposal paper bulky and thus awkward. Some may omit this and assume just a swatch of the main stitch is enough, but for me, I like to go that little extra mile, if at all possible.

#6 Extra Info

Additional Info

Additional Info

Here I included extra information such asthe dress can be worn many seasons, a sundress in the summer, and a jumper with a top underneath in the fall. The button straps make it adjustable (another plus).  The band of flowers around the dress match the band of flowers around the hat…

What I would do again:

I would include all all of this information

What I would not do again, or do differently:

I do like how I underlined many key words – “adjustable,” “match,” “jumper.” But, I think I would again, make it flower better and organize it. Some of these could be included in the section on what makes this pattern stand out, what makes it unique.. what are its highlights… I guess one thing I had going was the columns?

#7 Include sketches

Sketch of purse/bag

Sketch of purse/bag

When you do not have the entire garment/project made, do include a sketch. We are talking basic shapes. Many may even look at this little sketch of mine, and theirs will either pale in comparison, or blow mine out of the water. Now this I do know.. ask any editor – they are not grading artwork! They just want a basic idea of what you are proposing.

What I would do again:

Always include sketches

What I would not do again or do differently:

Draw the sketch bigger.

#8 Include contact info

Contact info

Contact info

Include your name, address, and email. I used one of those address labels, and then added in my email addy. Include as much contact info as you wish, but I definitely do recommend at least an email, and then definitely an address if you want your proposal back!

#9 Model in action

Printed photos

Printed photos

I have no idea if this is a standard, but this is what I did. I included photos (I printed off my printer) of a model in the dress and hat. I thought it would help to see the fit, see the sizing, to see the model live. To get it all to fit on one paper, I stapled it like a booklet, but binding on opposite side (I got creative:)) Now, this most definitely will not be possible with designs that are not complete. But, if you have a prototype of a hat, or mittens, or even a scarf, I would put it on someone and take a photo. This is just my opinion and something I did for an added factor to the proposal.


I am sure most companies would want a proposal on a regular 8 X 11 sheet of paper. Again, this was one of my first submissions. It is nice though to go back, and analyze it, and think about what I would do differently… What I would do again. If anything, it folded nicely, and opened like a book! I thought at the time that was pretty creative!

You may have learned a lot. You may have learned nothing. Your proposals may have blown mine away. There are some general characteristics that good proposals include.. but really- you are the true authority. What???? You may be saying…

Ultimately, who sends in that proposal? You.

You need to research. There is no fail-safe-fill-in-the-blank template for you to make the perfect proposal. What one editor prefers can be the complement to what another despises!

I am not an authority on proposals. Who is? Is it the editor behind the desk? Sure, but remember she/she is only privy to her company’s procedures (all the more reason to find if a company has such guidelines in existence). Another company may accept or reject that very same submission for completely different reasons! A time this is crucial is when this editor is the particular company you are sending your submission to! Definitely follow their guidelines if they have them.

Is the authority that designer friend who has been published and rejected a thousand times whom you have put upon a pedestal? He/she will have valuable experience to offer that you most definitely should listen to, but when it comes down to it, that individual will never know why he/she was accepted or rejected, unless specifically told by the specific editor, for that specific project, at that specific time. See what I am getting at?

Many many variables play into a project being accepted or rejected. Timing. Project (too many thongs already for this issue!). Project compatibility (we like toilet paper toppers, not padded bikini toppers)… trend is ending (no more fun fur please). Too many to list! A fantastic proposal can result in acceptance, as well as rejection. There is really no way to know, unless the person responsible for the fate of your submission sits down and tells you exactly why you were rejected.

No, this does not mean a proposal does not matter.. It is not just what is in the proposal, but it is also how it is presented. It is a reflection of you, your style, your carelessness or lack thereof, your haste or attention to detail, etc. Your effort…

I am also not saying there are no rules to follow or tips to take into account. There are things one should definitely do. And there are things one should not do that range from the most blatant to the absurd.

I am not saying to decline taking advice either, quite the contrary. Take all the advice you can. Especially from established designers and editors!  Just do not rely upon once source. If there is a guide from a company, follow that, and then where needed fill in the gaps based on what you have learned. Do your homework and compare your notes… then develop your own proposal style; be active, not passive.

PS, this is the Blossoming Beauty Sundress that was recently published a few months ago :)

PSS, And unlike me who write this in one shot and is going to sleep and not looking over this post until I have visited dreamland, do check over your proposal and check for spelling errors! Niters all… 1 am dreams call! Hope I have frazzled at least one mind with this post.

Lace, anyone? Dragonfly

Ice on a bush by driveway

Ice on a bush by driveway, ice storm 12/19/08

My mind has been going in numerous directions this past week. First, I need a new sketch book. Last one is now filled… I am being cheap though, and so a 10 cent spiral notebook will have to suffice. The ideas blasted me so much that my once white, pristine sketchbook is now laden with pencil drawings and scattered notes, rampant with eraser smudges.

Everyone grows, changes, adapts as careers continue… after designing that Dragonfly Shawl, it happened. I can feel the fire within, just like it has at times before. That’s the it – in essence, the slight loss of control. You see, often I go off on tangents… especially when the “new idea” comes. On a side note, I can still hear my brother saying to me when we were little “Oh no… another one of Lisa and her big ideas…” with the roll of the eyes and a swift walk the other away. I think it was that loneliness coupled with my unelected solitude in grade school that in some way formed some crazy “idea” neuropathways…. I can always remember doing something, somewhat insane.

So this past week was a sudden surge, almost implosion of ideas. After working with that lace weight, I am in love…. The Dragonfly was my first time working with a lace yarn. Now, as stated previously, I have worked with size 10 thread, even size 30 thread before. But lace weight yarn is a whole new breed….

The magic is in the blocking… I now have a set of nifty blocking wires. Once opened, will get a photo for you. Oh, the things I want to design with more lace weight.. Must, must get my hands on more. I have now been searching at all the different types of lace yarn out there… Which to try next? I want to try them all…

So please… Lend me your thoughts or observations… What should I try? What do you like? Is there anything particular that you have come across?

Since I do not have access to lace weight in town, I cannot go out and pet some lace weight… It will have to be ordered, so if you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime I will continue my hunt of which lace weight to try next. Will let you know what it is!

Well, it is midnight… Sorry so short! Happy Friday everyone…

I leave you one of my new workout songs of ’09! Don’t know about you, but this song always puts a smile on my face and gets me dancing in the living room……..

Song on YouTube.

PS, here are a few more photos of that ice storm we had right before the holiday, and a video… Ice storms, so incredible, yet so destructible. (Clickable twice)

Happy New Year!

Happy New year to everyone!!!

Cannot believe it- another year has gone by. I have never made New year’s Resolutions before. Not because I had not wanted to, but mostly because it alway seemed like the new year crept up without notice, and with my “all or nothing” mentality, I always felt resolutions had to be be made before the actual new year in essence for them to be executed on the very first day of the year!

Time now to disperse of my “all or nothing” way of going about things. That encompasses breaking my thought processes to what is habitual for me. But, what have I accomplished in 2008?

Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet - Winter 2007 issue

Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet - Winter 2007 issue

First, I was published. And though my first publication came out in the Winter of 2007 (Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet Winter 2007). I did not realize what was to come all in the subsequent year, what I would be learning, what I would accomplish. That hat was the bridge to my relationship with Interweave Crochet. Not only was the pattern a successful and popular one, but it told me, wow, I can do this, and then – wow, I REALLY want to do more!

Each issue thereafter contained a pattern of mine. The spring issue unfolded with my Bouquet Stole (Interweave Crochet Spring 2008), followed by Summer Daisy Sundress (Interweave Crochet Summer 2008), then with Oxford Town Tote (Interweave Crochet Fall 2008) and then lastly, my greatest achievement: The Dragongfly Shawl (Interweave Crochet Winter 2008).

Bouquet Stole, Interweave Crochet Spring 2008

Bouquet Stole, Interweave Crochet Spring 2008

Summer Daisy Sundress, Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

Summer Daisy Sundress, Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

Ocford Town Tote, Interweave Crochet Fall 2008

Ocford Town Tote, Interweave Crochet Fall 2008

Dragonfly Shawl, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

Dragonfly Shawl, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

I never thought I would be in so many issues, especially with never being formally published before. Though, I did have a few short stories and poems published as a teenager, those were definitely never included in my proposals to Interweave!

The editor, Kim Werker, saw something, and I can only be glad she did. The people at Interweave Crochet were so approachable, so incredible to work with. Never once did I feel self-conscious In fact, I was treated so well, it fueled me to challenge my skills – and thus born was the Dragonfly Shawl.

In addition to Interweave Press, soon a relationship was formed with DRG (Annie’s Attic, American School Of Needlework, House Of White Birches, Crochet! magazine, etc.) and Caron. My relationship with DRG began with a wonderful editor named Ann. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with her discussing book ideas when I thought of a new cabling technique. I did not know who to go to with any company, or even which company for that matter.

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family, DRG 2008

I think I just went on a phone rampage with the sudden onset of this whole new world opening up to me…. Ann loved loved loved the new cables, and could not believed they were crocheted. Simultaneously, I was emailing with Caron, and just said basically, “My name is so and so, here is my site, do you take submissions?” A lady named Nancy said “Yes, your stuff is right up our alley!” Within a couple days, I had a box of yarn at my step and went to work on swatches. I sent in 4 designs thoughts, 3 of which were accepting with the 4th pending. (As far as I know they still have the 4th).

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

So, then I had 3 projects to work up for Caron, DRG said to me, “We do not want a book with hats, scarves and mittens with your technique. We want 2 book! One with afghans using your new technique, and another with hats scarves and mittens using the traditional cabling technique.”

So, a good portion of 2008 was deadlines slammed together, one after another… the first half I should say was the most busy, and could not believe all the work I had. More publications came after, and with more to come. I have an pattern coming out in Crochet! magazine in the spring at some point, as well as 2 patterns coming out in the next spring issue of Interweave.

Another new part of the industry opened up for me as well – tech editing. I began doing this tech editing this summer, and it has been another learning curve. I am enjoying it, and was shocked when asked to do some tech editing. I know I am pretty anal-retentive when it comes to my own patterns. So much that I tend to mull over a single instruction for hours – to the insane point of rewriting the same instruction in every form possible and then by process of elimination conclude which is the best insertion for the media intended… Yep, one of my neurotic perfectionist tendencies… Anyway, tech editing has really retrained my brain, well, not entirely, but has given me a different perspective in which to view things.

Seeing things from another point of view, and how people think about things and what makes sense to them is a real eye opener. Another thing that brings to the table is decision making.. well, before I get going too much on this (can be a post on its own), let’s get back to wrapping up 2008!

2008 also brought me my first PR! The local paper here did a write up on me, and my business at the Crochet Garden… The Macomb Journal article.

Macomb, Il icestorm

Macomb, Il icestorm

Speaking of news articles… What else did 2008 bring? It was the first time I had to stay in a shelter due to weather. Yes, on the 19th of December, my town was hit by an incredible ice storm. Here we are on the WGEM news. Somewhere on there too is a video of me and the kids in the Red Cross shelter, with my daughter handing out snacks to everyone…

Macomb, Il icestorm

Macomb, Il icestorm

2008 also brought my BIGGEST accomplishment ever, in my lifetime. Something I thought I would never, ever be able to do. Everyone has a little dirt secret, right? Soon I will be posting more about my trials with this. This may even be a shock to many, but I used to smoke. This is the year that I quit. It feels so wonderful, and I feel like a brand new person. At first it was quite surreal, but now reality has set in, and for the first time that I can remember, I call myself a non-smoker. I am no longer a slave to those horrid, nasty little life-controlling-sabotagers. Yeah. that is not a word, but I have now made it one :)

So what are some new resolutions for the new year? (These are NOT in any order of importance).

1. Blogging

First will be to blog MORE. I think it helps me in a way, and well, it is a lot of fun to share my trials as I design and continue on with my career. You can bet on seeing more blog entries!

2. Losing Weight

Yeah yeah, everyone always adds this to their list. I really am going to do it though. Since I have already quit smoking, and conquered that, I feel I can do anything. It is NOT that I do not believe big is beautiful, etc. But for me, I want to be thinner… Just like the time finally came for me to give up the smoking habit, the time has now come where I am ready and most importantly, WANT to lose weight. And at least I do not have to battle both quitting smoking and losing weight together. I REALLY want to run around the park with my daughter in the spring… I want to get one of those jogging strollers.. Not only do they look cool, they look fun! I wish my mom took me around in one of those.. haha.

Anyone in Macomb area need a workout buddy?? On my testing forum, we have a Healthy Living area.. Well, time for me to revisit that and give that a major jump start! Come by and join up at the forum if you wish to join us in our endeavor. It does not matter if you have 1 lb to lose, 100 lbs, or just want to get healthy. No need to test patterns or anything.. Fellow designers, everyone, join on in!!! I am also going to start up a quit smoking section in that forum. Anyway, register at the board, and give me a day to organize those forums and get them going. When you register, send me a PM letting me know you are interested in joining the Healthy Living forums!

3. Move

I know it sounds silly to put this down as a goal, but man, we need to move! Not only do we need more room, I think it will be better for a change, something different…

4. More Time For Myself

Though my career did take off, at least on the publishing aspect.. and many more patterns were added to the Crochet Garden website..Though I love what I do, and I would be lost without it, I need to spent my time more efficiently. Not cram everything I can into a specific time period.. But to realize there will be times of utter chaos with deadlines amassing to no end… It is those times, that I need to take a little bit of time out. Getting away, even if for that 20 minutes, I think will in all actuality create time, rather than zap it, it a round about sort of way. Little breaks will make me feel more charged and rested thus making my subsequent working time more efficient. My mind will work more effectively, thus getting more done in less time, therefore resulting in more time.

There are more, and in attempts to rid myself of that who-knows-who-made-the-rule everyone-must-make-resolutions-before-the-new-year, I am going to allow myself to make up some new resolutions in the coming days! I think my new motto for the year will be, “break more rules,” shhh, my teenage son musn’t know that!

Happy New Year! I leave you with some Christmas photos that bring smiles to my face :) (Clickable)

Dragonfly Shawl – Published, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

The Dragonfly Shawl has now made its appearance in the Winter Issue of Interweave Crochet. I have been cautiously waiting for its release. Why cautious? I think perhaps it is more a reserved excitement… as I do not think this creation has completely made its way through my brain that it is complete, that I finally finished it.

And here it is, the Dragonfly Shawl. For some, here is the Dragonfly Shawl on Ravelry. Each time I look at it, and I know it sounds bad since I am the designer, but each time I look at it, I wish I still had it with me to wrap around and admire it. I have always had a love for little winged creatures.. whether butterflies (and yes, butterflies especially), dragonflies, ladybugs…

And while I am quite frightened of dragonflies, I admire them from afar. Kind of like when you admire something or someone that intimidates you, but not in a bad or condescending way, but in a way in which your admiration is due to a longing of finding yourself and really honing in on what you would like to become. No, I do not want to become a dragonfly…

The beauty, the grace – that is what I wanted in this shawl… I wanted it to sway in the breeze effortlessly with grace off of one’s shoulders… I wanted the beauty to be delicate, yet strong. I wanted it to portray the passion – the flight of the dragonfly, to flutter, then soar right past and leave one’s heart pounding. I hope it does just that…

Dragonfly Shawl

Dragonfly Shawl

This design was a DIP (Design In Progress – how I refer to them as) for 6 or 8 months. I really admired knitted shawls. There are some pretty fantabulous (yes, another Lisa word) shawls out there in crochet! But I wanted something that would literally, take one’s breath away, for a moment… At the same time, I did not want it to be so difficult, that not even a master crocheter would not be able to do it. Then, there was also the task of keeping the pattern at a relatively decent length (that will be another post, length of patterns).

A very early protoype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how ti shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

A very early prototype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how to shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

I had to constantly think ahead (and yet again, thinking ahead in pattern writing, due out in another blog post), because the action of what I do in one row could effect greatly another row and its wording, and thus the domino effect.. before you know it, your pattern cold be 10 to the 10th power pages long (well, not literally, I hope), but you get the meaning.

I also do confess.. this was my first time ever working with a laceweight yarn. I am not a stranger though to size 10 thread, or even size 30 thread. The only wool I had ever been in contact with was Lion Brand Wool-Ease (worsted weight blend which I dearly love) for my Rugged Mountain Hat & Mitten Collection and Schoeller + Stahl Baby Micro (fingering weight wool -a dream to work with), that I used for the Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet, Winter 2007 issue.

So, though I have worked with wool before, and I have worked with everything from a size 30 thread with a size 10 steel hook through a wool fingering weight.. I had never worked with a laceweight wool before, except for what I was swatching that shawl with. The yarn used for the Dragonfly Shawl was a dream to work with – Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibres, Lacey Lamb. Talk about an induction into laceweight yarn… Silky soft.. the yarn glided and moved with hook harmoniously… I will be making many more shawls now that I have had a taste of laceweight yarn, and Lacey Lamb will be at the top of my list. What colors??

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

So.. how did this shawl really come to be. I never thought it would come to be anything. I had it as a DIP for a long while. I would take it, only to put it back in hibernation until I felt the urge to play around with it again. I was emailing Kim Werker (Editor of Interweave Crochet) some photos of possible propositions of submissions. (I intended to send in a swatch later if any were remotely interesting). That is enough detail on that. So.. here I am rummaging through my computer of my DIPS. It was quite late, maybe past midnight. I sent numerous photos and every so often I would email her saying, I do have a *partial* shawl DIP.

I did not send it. I sent a couple more.

Again, I said I do have a photo somewhere of a shawl I have been sort of working on, but it is a piece of art that has been in the works a LONG, long time. *Sent off a few more photos of other DIPS.*

Then, I cannot even find the photo of the shawl on my computer.. Yes, me and my scatterbrainedness (a Lisa word). Finally, I find it. Now, this shawl had been in the works for many many maaannnyy months.

Shawl in infancy

Shawl in infancy

Do I dare send it? I am sure it would illicit no response. What the heck. So I send her this goofey photo. Unblocked of course, showing no detail of the possibilities it *could* have.

I cannot tell you how many times this shawl was ripped out and reworked. And I will say, laceweight is not always that easy to rip out. I really needs the gentle touch… Kind of like with a toddler, you need to be gently, but firm. Too gentle, and nothing changes.. too firm, well, you may have throbbing ears for a while from that resistant one :)

I also had a photo up against the miniblinds in my kitchen. This one at least showed a bit more detail. But still, nowhere near the vision I had. It was still all crinkled up. Since the photo was only for my own benefit, I never bothered to smooth out the progression of the shawl, or “what could be.”

Shawl in infancy, photo 2

This photo though was the one that did it. Kim was interested. She saw something alive there. She saw the potential. It was like she immediately read my mind and knew what I was trying to do with this shawl. I credit her eye for detail, her gift for seeing the beauty beneath the chaos… her ability to envision the possibilities… So, it was a done deal after all was just that, said and done. She asked, can you hash out this design on such and such tight deadline? “Sure I said!….” After that, shaking my head but not surprised.

Sometimes I need a good kick in the hiney to get a project off its feet. This one had been in the works much too long.. it was time for it to be developed. I was

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

worried, but excited. Excited to finish it, worried of how I would in such limited time. I work pretty well both under pressure and at leisure.. And if I knew myself, I knew that I would still churn out a quality design.. I just wondered, am I sure this time I would?? After all, it has been a design under my desk since dawn of the last creepy crawlers.

Before Edging

Before Edging

Yeah, can you tell I love my clothespins?? I swear, those things are the GREATEST invention.. In a pinch they are wonderful for pinning hair up in a bun for a midnight run to the corner store.

You see, working up a pattern is much, much different, or well, takes less thought when not in pattern-writing mode. Basically, it is almost like free-form.. You are following a guide (say your guide may be a triangle shape) and you just continue crocheting and working and trying on as you go etc.

When writing a pattern, for me at least, I am always thinking one step ahead. As I said earlier, something done in Row 5 can have a cascading effect in Rows 6-30. This shawl works not from tip, not side to side, but begins with a mini triangle. Think of a triangle having 2 tips and one point. The point is the central part (see bottom of shawl in photo) with a tip at the other 2 corners of the shawl (by one’s arms). So this shawl worked from one tip, to point, to next tip. That way, one can work until length and width are as desired.

So anyway… You see the diagonal heavy lines, and then the open airy diagonal lines? Those coincide with the stacking diamond spine. If you look closely, a heavy line occurs at the center side of each diamond. This is where the writing became tricky. When space is a concern, I HAD to take into account and somehow form a repeat. This was VERY difficult and well, think I went through major carb overdose with the amount my brain neurons were firing… See, the shawl is symmetrical.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

So, going up one side of the shawl, to the point, and then going back down the next side, this increases the number of heavy lines and airy lines each subsequent row. When writing one side before the point, I had to be careful that the rebound (the side on the other side of the point) would not take up too many words.

I really tried to get it so I could eventually say rep rows “X through Y” until such and such. Getting distance between X and Y a minimal number was a task.. with instructions on one side along with different instructions on the rebound, and getting all of those rows to eventually repeat themselves so as to not have a 20 page or more pattern, was a whole new endeavor.

This pattern really refined my writing skills. Not only did I have to make this pattern’s instructions compact while designing it, I also had to keep in mind clarity for crocheters. It would be nice, if I could have had nested repeats (a repeat within a repeat, within a repeat), but alas, I would definitely end up with many upset crocheters :)

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Then came the edging. And I say, then came the edging. I looked at my shriveled, decrepit looking piece of “art,” wondering how I was going to pull the edging off without it being a mountain of a pattern.

You see, I had a thing going.. my dragonfly theme. My plan was a play on negative space. See the strong striations coming from the diamond spine? At first, I was thinking of doing something overlapping.. And then I thought, do I want there to be a division line between the body of the shawl and the edging? I played around, but a stark division line would ruin my idea of having the negative space aspect to it….

So I had the heavy striations meet, creating wings… then between those slender wings, would again, be wings, with a pointy scalloped tips. I am not sure how long it really took me to come to this decision, but it was a lot of sketching, a lot of ripping, a lot of redoing, a lot of stretching, all the while praying I would not break the yarn too many times.

A contemplated edging. I was on to something I though as I continued to experiment and try different things... Photo taken right on my knee, so in case I ripped, I would have a moment to refer back to :)

Now my next quest was, how to get a REALLY lacey-but soul-grasping lace effect? Something not done before.. Something different. Something that would leave a wing-print, so to speak…

Well, you will need to see and work the pattern to see the technique I came up with to really cultivate a lace that cannot be deciphered solely upon a simple glance. It was fun trying to figure this out… Almost like a challenge was bestowed upon me, where the prize would be the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing that I figure out how to put in hand and yarn what I envisioned in my mind.

Blocking, take 1. It did what it needed to do, but of course, blocking wasn't perfect. Soon transferred onto a blanket on floor.. Worked much better. Now what to do with all of this strofoam??

Blocking, take 1. Blocking soon transferred to a blanket on floor. What to do with all the styrofoam?

Designing this shawl in laceweight yarn has opened up a whole new realm for me. I now want to design a whole case of shawls in laceweight! I was hooked at the start.. but for some reason, it felt wrong if I were to design a laceweight shawl before this coming out… I am not sure why, but I did not feel right. So, to satisfy my eagerness to design more shawls, I sketched. So now, I am unleashed!

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

I will let you know, this pattern is not for those who are seeking a quick and easy pattern. This pattern will challenge the intermediate (though in a good way), and will give those advanced crafters something different to work. This is a piece of art you are making… This is not your sit in front of the tube and work mindlessly.

This is an heirloom project. Not only will the material be delicate, but it will take a careful and watchful eye. I am always here to help.

When working up this project, think of it not as just that- a project… Think of it as a path to the dragonfly within you, whatever your dragonfly is.

A Big Book? What do you think?

I had a customer write me the other day… Here is what she wrote:

My husband bought me the rugged mountain pattern collection a few years ago
and I absolutely LOVE them! I would love for you to publish a book with only
your patterns in it! I am a huge fan of your work! Keep it up Lisa! You

I actually have been contemplating this for a while. Although I have a couple of smaller books out: Lisa’s New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws, and Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family, a big hardcover book is very enticing.

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

4 cable designs utilizing a new cable technique

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

P.S. These books are now available for purchase through the Crochet Garden, along with a few others!

What kind of book would you like to see? I actually have started on some swatches and sketches for a possible book.. and have a couple of themes in mind.

Book with just baby patterns? A book with baby and tot patterns? A book with a mix of things? Maybe, “best of the Crochet Garden?” What do you want to see in a book? What books do you have that you love? Out of the books you like, what is it about them that you like?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

On another note… Garden Lullaby

Sizes Newborn - 12 mos

Sizes Newborn - 12 mos

has now been released! It comes in sizes Newborn to 12 mos.. I think it is a darling little dress… When I see this dress, I think of a little one, “helping” mom out on the laundry line.. It has been such a while since I did a thread dress. What next, maybe a Christening dress?

Oh, I wish there was more time in the day. I am now up to 3 binders full of designs and sketches. Each time I think of a new idea, out the binders come, and in goes another piece of paper… I am so worried about not remembering a design later- with how scatterbrained I am.

It is nice though, having them. Sometimes, I have editors come to me needing a design in a specific yarn. Sometimes I think of an idea right there on the spot. Other times, I just pull out my binder, photograph a few pages, then email them to the editor. I like having numerous ideas at my fingertips.. and so far, editors like it, or well, at least I think they do!

So.. about this big, book idea. I am feeling confident enough that I could pull off designing an incredible book. I do have things in motion. I am not yet ready though to propose the idea, as I feel I need to greatly cultivate it. So, please, lend me your thoughts! The biggest thing though, and not that it is an absolute when writing a book, but something that gave me even more of a drive to work on this book idea:

A while ago (not that long ago), I started to tech-edit some crochet patterns. Now, one does not need to be a tech editor to write a successful book proposal. I just feel that it adds to my skills. When I was asked to do tech editing, I was quite shocked. However, a multitude of reasons contributed… I was told I am highly detail oriented.. Which, I will have to agree, but only on a certain level. See, my desk, is a disaster :) I lose things all the time. I have notes here and there, hooks falling down.. towers of binders and papers trying to reach a new definition of “balancing act,” along with paperclips and safety pins.. Now, give me one piece of paper and ask me to solve a complex math problem, no problem! Give me a photo to edit and my eye zones in on each and every detail. Ask me to read a book, and I will remember in Chapter 1 what color shirt the protagonist was wearing (that is, if the author mentioned this).

I have concluded, my scattered-brainedness had to with the physical location of objects! And I am thinking, it is due to my over-detailed part of the brain.. so this other part of brain is squeezed out. Yes.. that is it. (Or maybe my rational of why I am always late because I can never find the keys?!

Well, more on the tech editing another time, maybe tomorrow. It was a very new experience for me, one I feel deserves a post all its own.. and well, gives me something new to write about so I do not neglect my poor blog!

Buttonholes, I aim for odd…

You know.. I was born on a Tuesday. So was my son… They say Tuesday’s baby is full of grace..

When I first began designing, I really had no idea what I was doing, and dove in blind. Now, with the last 3 years behind me (this year, I think will be my 4th?) I have learned so much. I think also getting published, during that 6 mos of nonstop working up patterns for publication companies, I learned much much more. There are so many different ways to write up patterns, and now, after reviewing my old style, and then all the styles of each company (each has their own guidelines), I now can say I have found my own little voice of style of writing. I do not know if that makes sense, but I now have a good sense, even during the designing process, of how one little detail change could have a minor affect on a pattern outcome, but a big impact on the length and complexity of the written word.

For example, I like to make my buttonholes within the pattern as I go, not afterwards making a buttonband. Well, because I work my patterns from the top down, and with a no seam sewing style, it pays to have an odd number of rows between each buttonhole. So let’s say I am working the panel with the buttonholes. And Let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2. The buttonhole let’s say is at the end of the row. So, if I have a buttonhole on Row 6 (3 rows in between, an odd number), I can simply say repeat Row 2. If my buttonhole is on Row 3, I would put another say on Row 7 (that leaves 3 rows in between, an odd number), which again would save space and complexity. Now let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2 (the initial example), and I decided to have one every 5 rows, so the next one would occur on Row 7. What happens? I have to write a new row, because we are working on the other side, the buttonhole would have to be at the beginning of the row in order to not end up on the side of the panel that contains the underarm! That means a whole instruction written up.

So then, I would have:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Rows 6-13: Rep Rows 2-5 twice.

Not having an odd number of rows between each button hole row would yield:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Row 6: “work button hole, instructions”

Rows 7-9: Rep Row 1.

Rows 10-13: Rep Rows 2-5.

So, the second version added 2 rows. Not that big of a deal, but that could domino affect with the more complex a pattern is…. and this is the bare bones… In different situations, such as when you have arm shaping on some rows, and no arm shaping on other rows, you could end up writing out each and every line individually, which would make for a much longer pattern than it would need to be.

And then, take into consideration sizes! Armholes are different for different sizes, so one will have more rows in a larger size than a smaller size. What to do with the button holes? Well, we want all sizes to have the buttons on odd numbered rows or even numbered rows. Just think, if we didn’t. Try sketching out. Draw (stick drawings- remember I’m no artist). Use graph paper if you can. And make oh say 15 rows for one size and 19 rows for another size. Then “plot” out where your buttons will be. Then think, where you place the button holes, and how they will affect the pattern text.

So when designing, I tend to think ahead of how what I am doing will affect the write up. And then I evaluate, would it be that big of an impact to say, do an increase here, or a buttonhole there, yada yada, for sake of making the pattern shorter? Will it have a negative impact on the output of the project? If no, then I work the pattern to have the writing be as simple to follow as possible, and as short as possible, without sacrificing clarity.

So, a lot of these little things I have picked up along the way as I learn more and more. I have a little hand side spiral notebook, that I keep all these little “ureka” moments in… Then when I am starting to design a pattern, and begin working it up, I am mentally working forward and backwards at the same time. Are you exhausted yet? lol, maybe I think too much? Anyway, I thought I would share one of my quirks when designing. Maybe I am doing everything not backwards and forwards, but inside out! Maybe there are easier ways, but the logic is all the same.. or well, the desired outcome is all the same.

Now, this is only one way of designing a pattern- from the top down using panels.. which is my primary way of designing, without seam sewing. There are so many other ways, and this technique would not really even apply. Some patterns are designed to be worked sideways… Some from the top down, but each piece is made separately then sewn together. Some work the button hole band after the garment is made.. But, I do believe thinking ahead, and how the design will affect the text, can be beneficial to any designer when designing.

Time for dinner!

Annie’s Attic: New cabling technique booklet Preview

I can finally announce it! You can go to see a preview of a booklet I have coming out here! If that does not work, go to Annie’s Attic and then click on “Coming Soon,” you will see my new booklet coming out for cabled afghans. If you go here, you can see the other photos of all afghans in the booklet by clicking on “see all photos”. (EDIT: seems the other photos is not working, nor is the email notification link, and I have emailed the webmaster about this).

I am not sure how long this preview will remain there, but you can see it now!

These are not your traditional cables. This is an absolute new cabling technique I have developed. Each afghan within this booklet is unique in its own way, all playing off of this simplistic technique.

I have been waiting for so long to talk about this and announce it! For so long, I have kept this technique under wraps… The photographs they took turned out so beautiful… I think my personal favorite is the brown one. You can see just the corner of it on the front photo in the upper right.

I had been talking a while with one of the editors for Annie’s Attic, about submissions etc. They were interested possibly in some hats and scarves. A few months had passed since I was so busy. Then I sat down one day and began swatching. I wanted something unique, and different. I have a passion for cables… so a cabling I went.

And just by experimenting, I was on to something, but I did not know what yet. Something was trying to surface, but just didn’t….yet. That night, I woke up super early, and went back to my swatch. I knew what to do… I thank Algebra for this (long story). Anyway… I continued to swatch with a surge of ideas how to play on this very simple technique. I then talked to the editor, and I asked if they were still interested in some designs, and that I think I made a new technique… She was quite intrigued and asked for swatches. As soon as they saw the swatches, they gobbled them up, so to speak… They decided they wanted afghans… and so it was set.

I decided to go with testers from the Crochet Garden, rather than going with people who do stitching on a regular basis to be my stitchers. It wasn’t that I did not have faith in other stitchers out there. It was just that with the testers, I knew their work; and I am so familiar with them and converse with them on a daily basis. Though none had ever been a professional stitcher, the testers at the Crochet Garden are phenomenal, and that is why I chose CG testers to work up the afghans. I am sure they will be thrilled to see the work they handmade, in print. Thank you to my testers!!!!

As of right now, it is listed to be available March 17th, and it looks like you can click there to get an email notification when it is indeed available.

I am so proud of this booklet. My whole heart went into it. Well, it always does when I design something… but that this was a new cabling technique, and I have such a passion for cables. I also wanted something easier than traditional cables. I find that many people have a hard time knowing which post st to work around when doubling over, reaching over, etc other post sts. The basis of this technique is very simplistic, and the different ways it can be manipulated can become very intricate. Take for example, the brown afghan. Using the basic technique, and then playing off of that technique in different ways yielded an entirely new, unique looking afghan, but all using the same initial technique, just much more complex.

Now the waiting game, until mid/end of March for the actual booklet to be out!

Sneak Peak

Yes yes, it has been long enough, I have a sneak peak of something.

Before anything, I must let you know this blog, the website and testing board will be down Feb 8th 10 PM PST until Feb 9th 6 AM PST. My host is transferring some clusters and so if it is not up, do not panic.. they are working on it to be an efficient transition.

Before going on to anything else, I would like to say Skyler seems to be doing a bit better. I gave her a tummy rub and she is quite red. Not infection red, but more of the red you can say ow, that must hurt. So I think that is why she is really taking this surgery difficulty- I think it was a biggie for her. Today though she has walked around more, and has gotten up to eat, and well what really made me smile, she sat under the table waiting for some nibbles from falling food from the kitchen table. So that made me happy :)

Hopefully she keeps getting stronger, and I just now await the pathology results. And in the meantime, shower her with tummy rubs and lots of tlc!

So, on the crochet front.. I have been busy finishing up another pattern for publication. This is my last one, so that after this I can begin to concentrate on the website launch. It has been so long! And for that, I figure I owe everyone a sneak peak. But then, it may not be a sneak peak, as I am not sure if I am finished with the pattern! The pattern is written out, but not sure if it needs something more… But, at least it is a glimpse of something that has been in the works!

Here it is (yes it is dark, that is why it is a sneak peak.. instead of a cropped photo like my past sneak peaks last year, this one is a dark one… kind of mesmerizing, kind of makes you wonder what it looks like close up :) And a special thank you to Misty taking the perfect photo for this sneak peak!

Sneak Peak

Did I give too much away? Not enough away? Does it bring back the days when the CG website had launched every month? Let’s hope so!! I know it is getting me eager to get some patterns released. But then at the same time, I am so excited to have my patterns out there in the printed world too..

It may be a while still before a pattern launch comes, but do know there will be other things coming out this year that shows where all this time has been spent! I have many many things in progress, and many DIPS (I call them DIPS- Designs In Progress).. some started here and there, some stopped then and there and everywhere… hehe my poor testers “I have baskets of designs of yours waiting to be finished!” But they are patient with me, the “absent minded designer.” So now we have begun the task of finishing up some of those, but then of course it was my nature to start some new things! And then well, the kids and myself being sick and passing it around to one another really caused chaos on the deadlines.. but somehow, I know everything will all come together.

Who knows, maybe things are really always in chaos, and my brain just likes to work that way? Maybe that is why I can never find my tape measure, or even a pencil on my desk?

Well, sorry so short… I cannot go on and on as I need to get some stuff done, and both of the kids are already asleep due to being sick.. so this is some time for me to hopefully get some power work in!

Take care all :)

So what else has been going on with me..

Ok… so the past 6 months plus, I have been nonstop working on lots and lots of projects. I have not had a launch since June!! Unbelievable. But that is ok.. because a lot of things will be coming out being published :)

I have a couple of leaflets coming out (yes!) They comprise solely of my patterns. Once I get the ok, I can tell you more :) Just keep checking back here. This time I will not go on a month plus long vacation :)

Anyway, I am so excited, to have a booklet, of my designs.. and not just one, but two of them!! In addition to these booklets, I also have a few patterns coming out in hardback books. This would be books coming out that contain designs from many different designers. More on that too when I get the thumbs up. Great thing is, all is a done deal. Contracts signed, patterns and models handed off. Now it is the waiting game.

I am also pleased to announce I will be having another pattern come out in the next issue of Interweave! (yay). This one is a lovely one :) To me, it is absolutely divine. So I think maybe around March it will be out :)

I also sold 3 designs to another company… I have no idea when or where they will pop up. So, should anyone see anything with my name by it, please give me a holler! I would really love to hear about it!

So, counting each and every pattern separately, each one that I had to individually write up, that would be, oh about 30 patterns?? Not sure if I counted right. That is also including each design in the booklets counted individually. This past 6 mos was something new.. something I was completely unprepared for, but I think I triumphed. Unfortunately, those who look forward to my pattern releases missed my new patterns, but this coming year, there will be many out there to look for, plus the ones that will be coming soon :)

I wish I could say more, but well, let’s not burn any bridges before I have crossed them! I guess being so new, I inquire first of what I can say, and not say, and when I can say it… I think it is just a personal thing, having an overwhelming voice inside saying – etiquette!

It was interesting, working with one editor to another. Learning how each company runs their “ship.” Getting to try out so many yarns, some I had never even heard of before… some of them new yarns.. and some, my all time favorites :) But I do know I can say, another design will be in the next issue of Interweave!! :) When it comes closer to the time of it coming out, I will talk more about the design etc.

So, now I have one LAST design to finish up for publication. Between the last design for publication, and now this final last one, I started working on some designs for the website. I also was in the middle of many DIPS (designs in progress, as I call them) when the publication spree began. So… some of those I am hoping to wrap up and get into final phase of testing, and then photographed. These new ones, I may have to wait on.

What is coming? I will blog about that next, I think.. and maybe some sneak peaks! :) Take care, all. And thanks for not giving up on me!

Into The Green- Chemicals, Fibers & Organics

Everyone is talking about going green.. from electric cars, to global warming.. Then there is the surge of natural fibers to organic…

I think it is all great! If I had my way, my dream house with be very green friendly, with solar panels, sustainable materials… carpet that does not give off VOC’s (volatile organic compounds)… My house would be filled with bamboo palms. Why bamboo palms? Because they are one of the best “air purifying plants!” The air inside a home is one of the most polluted places of air- even more than outside (that is why you always hear people say open a window for some fresh air).

Here is an excerpt from one of many articles:

“…Studies have been conducted and the results found that plants brought into a room, will absorb these chemicals (Benzene, Trichloroethylene and Formaldehyde) and put oxygen back into the room. One potted plant per 100 square feet will clean the air in an average home or office. Without a doubt, the most important job of an indoor plant is its air purifying abilities… Of the many indoor plants cultivated today, there are a few that show better than usual abilities of absorbing these chemicals than others do. Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant, Dracaena, and Weeping Fig are just a few that have this absorbing ability.” —

So.. guess what is on my wishlist- bamboo palms of course!!

Ok, so my last post I was on a health kick.. I have always been conscientious of things of this nature.. But again, I am not perfect, and like many am still finding my way, absorbing what I can with everything I read and hear about.

Ok, so that brings me to organics.. I touched on this a bit in my last post.. Here is a couple quotes, from the Organic Trade Association. (Read more on the article).

“The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2000 in the United States as “possible,” “likely,” “probable,” or “known” human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (EPA)

“It takes roughly one-third of a pound of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt. (SCP)”

Scary, isn’t it? It makes me think, my goodness, if our skin is absorbent, how much of this is in our bodies? Organic fibers, unfortunately can be much, much more expensive than the chemical counterparts. I do believe though, in time, prices will come down, especially as the demand goes up.

Even so, if one is unable to buy organic, there are many ways to help… recycle! I know many people who regularly visit thrift stores, and purchase sweaters- basically to use the yarn. Here is an awesome tutorial of how to recycle yarns from sweaters.

Yarn Recycling Tutorial By Ashley Martineau

And if you have a program that opens word documents, here is a phenomenal tutorial, with many upclose photos.. including many tips for all kinds of materials, wool, cotton, novelty yarns etc. The tutorial is written by the same person, but there is more detail and although the photos are in black and white, they are very very clear. She discusses bad seams, good seams, what to look for.. this is a must to check it out. To find out more, just do a search in your search engine for “recycle yarn” or things along the same lines.

Download it here: How To Unravel A Sweater By Ashley Martineau (.doc file)

So, if you find a sweater in the closet that looks like a great contender for recycling, and it is either too small, or too big, or you it just not appeal to you… recycle it!

Ok back to organic fibers… I have some yarns to share with you, that are pretty well priced, for being organic. First, is Nature’s Choice Organic. It retails for $5.99 for 3 oz. (85g) 103y skein. It is not a hank, so no need to wind. And oh my, it is so soft! The colors are very natural.. not too strong, but just right.. just the right bit of color. Here it is on the Lion Brand website: Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton from Lion Brand.

I am sure there are many other places you can get it online, but here it is at the Knitting Warehouse (a favorite place of mine with a flat shipping rate- and they have it on sale right now!): Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton at the Knitting Warehouse.

Here is my yummy organic yarn; colors are as follows from top row to bottom (Macadamia, Strawberry, Blueberry, Pecan, Almond):

Nature's Choice Organic Yarn

Closeup of the Almond:

Nature's Choice Organic Yarn

No matter if you use one color or a several, all the colors truly go together! This yarn is so incredibly soft- excellent choice for a baby.. I am currently using this yarn for a baby/young child set (Sizes 12 mos to child size 6!) set.. watch out for the pattern, it should be ready sometime in November- along with some other goodies!!! (Do not quote me on that.. I have many many things for publication to complete first, but then it will be on to these other goodies).

I really love, love this yarn.. it works up so nicely, and even though it has a “nubbiness” to it, I find the stitch definition to still be great. I want to make myself a nightgown with this!!

Another organic yarn by Lion Brand is “Lion Organic Cotton.” It comes on a hank, so you will need a swift to wind it up, or some patience and wind it by hand. The retail price of this is $5.99 for 1.75oz (50g) hank. It too is incredibly soft:

Lion Organic Cotton

The colors above are: Vanilla on the left, and Cypress on the right. Here is the listing page on Lion Brand’s website: Lion Organic Cotton at Lion Brand.

And here is at the Knitting Warehouse (And it is also on sale!) Lion Organic Cotton at the Knitting Warehouse.

You will have to stay tunes to see what is in store for this beautiful natural yarn, and when I discuss how it works up and show you more photos.

So, it is a little pricier than non-organic yarn.. Nobody says you need to throw out your yarn stash (please don’t!), or reform yourself into a complete only-organic crafter. And if you are on a tight budget.. maybe for that new baby in the family one skein for a sweet little baby hat will suffice, and you will know how even more special that little cap is… Put it on your wishlist! You never know.. I know there are some people out there who want to try this yarn.. so why not make you all some great patterns for it!

Ok.. so I am almost done with the things I have on my plate… two due dates for a total of 6 items by October 22. I have been working like a crazy nut.. I swear sometimes the yarn is talking to me. (eek). So then after this deadline.. I have another deadline for more 4 more items in the middle of December. I am hoping after the Oct deadline, I can work a wee bit on some things for the website and squeeze in a launch in November…

Drop me a line of what things you would like to see maybe with the Lion Organic Yarn!

PS… soon I will be working on women’s garments for the website.. write me a note of what kinds of things you are looking for! Be as detailed as you want.. the more I know what everyone is after, the better things I can design.. I am very excited to now step into another realm of designing- women’s attire.. want skirts? Camis? Bikini’s? Casual.. sexy.. modern but hip? Let me know!!

Take care all.. off to having little conversations with my yarn!

Hot Momma!

Where? Interweave Crochet– a hot magazine with exquisite crochet patterns I refer to as “Hot Momma.” If you have not seen this magazine, get it! You will not be disappointed. And you must, MUST get the winter issue. Why? Because there will be one of my patterns in it! Yes. My FIRST publication!

I still cannot believe it. Working with Interweave was truly wonderful and hope to work with them again in the future. Kim Werker and Toni Rexroat have been absolutely amazing. For a while, editors have always been “high up” on the pedestal per se. And being new in the publication industry that I often envisioned being part of, I often worried, would I have too many questions- would this be a good thing, or a bad thing? They could see this as someone who needs “hand-holding,” or they could see this as someone who is detail-oriented and has respect for the individuals she is working with and thus inquires on many aspects of the process.

These ladies are so approachable (what was I worried about??), and never once was I made to feel I was an annoyance. This is one reason why the magazine is such a great success. From the beautiful photography, the absolute harmony of colors and patterns page after page, coupled with their expertise and warm personalities – has made this a truly remarkable experience for me.

I cannot say how many times I did the Happy Dance in my living room.. poor dog >< She hid for fear of her tail being flattened. My pattern will be next to all the other successful, talented designers in the industry.

I really feel designing my patterns on the Crochet Garden website gave me the experience and knowledge I needed to move onto this next step. I just cannot say enough about this fantastic experience.

For other designers, who may feel a bit intimidated, or feel they are not ready… You just have to do it. And yes, I do not have much experience, yet, but I can at least tell you how my first experience went.

The old cliche’ “you never know until you try” is so true. I worked up so many ways when I would speak to my first editor, and you know when that time finally came, none of them transpired. I was myself; I did not hold back my excitement. I had visioned myself being very professional, to the point, and basically monotone. Other times I envisioned another way the first contact would occur. I am who I am.. that is not to say this is slated as an absolute; certain situations warrant appropriate behaviors and execution. Just like in real life, a reputation is built, your “profile.” It is the same in the publication world. This is just the beginning of my entry into the publication world and I have already learned so much, with yet so much to learn. One day I hope to look back on this entry, and say wow, hot momma…. look at that first step I took..

I hope you enjoy sharing this part of my world as I journey down the path of becoming a well known, respected designer.

And for all those who collect my patterns and all others new to my designs, definitely get the Winter issue of Interweave Crochet for my pattern- you can also subscribe to them too!