Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cabled Cardigan... on commission?!

     Visiting my mom and her happily hooking friends in the rugmakers guild last week was a great opportunity to show of my WIP sweater. I expected a chorus of ooohs and ahhhs (because Vivian deserves it, of course), but what I didn't expect to hear was that simultaneously dreaded and anticipated question. The question that makes me both praise and lament copyright and creative commons. The question that most non-knitters would think would make me soar but actually turns my brain into terrifyingly jumbled mess of pattern combinations and design possibilities:

"Do you do commission?"

     Yes! I will! Would love to... bite off more than I can chew. So, I should say, "As long as you can wait a bit."
     If I'm going to be getting paid for a sweater (yay!), it needs to be my own original design. So here goes nothing: time for Kelly to make up a cabled cardigan. 
     Inspired heavily by Vivian, of course, since that's the one my customer has fallen in love with. She doesn't knit, so talking about sweater construction is gonna be tricky. I kind of want to do something with a cabled yoke, like maybe a cardigan version of Wisteria, but with cables extended to cover the whole body of the sweater. I've also considered retaining the saddle shoulder element of Vivian, but charting my own cable that incorporates the shaping and using stockinette st instead of seed, or adding additional cables to fill in the negative space and make the whole thing textured. 
    I've been eyeing the Dark and Stormy cardigan from Thea Coleman's Baby Cocktails for a while now. It's got a gorgeous cable detail on the back, and I also love the shawl collar. I think the best thing about it is how the shape of the collar and buttonband make the shape of the sweater look masculine, almost smoking jacket-esque but the details make it a very feminine sweater. I like the raglan here, and that some people have customized with waist shaping. 
     So I would love to do a shawl collar, if that will please my recipient. All I'm really sure of is that she doesn't want a hood, and she wants full closure. Asymmetrical is out. Found one cardigan from Aran Knitting, a book which I may have to buy because it seems awesome and I'm obsessed with cables. I like this cardigan because it has a shawl-like collar and the shaping is in the cables. 
    I could put saddle shoulders on a sweater shaped like Dark and Stormy, and add an aran pattern. Or I could keep it at a simple crew neck cardigan with allover cables and waist shaping incorporated. This lacy cardigan has the shaping built into the pattern the way I'm thinking of... working on sketches of possible cables. I like the neckline and the way the button band was done here.   
     So basically I have too many ideas, and need some direction... need to talk to my customer! After a week and a half of brainstorming this thing I feel a combination of impatience and dread that this will never be an FO. I think I'm ready to send over my sketches and example images that I've collected to be reviewed. When I asked my mom for her opinion, because she knows this woman and therefore her sense of style better than I, she said all she knows is that she'll know what she likes and not be afraid to tell me exactly what she thinks. My kinda lady :) 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ysolda Fever

The Vivian progresses...

And it is starting to appear as if I will run out of yarn. 

     Still the hood to go and one measly, less than a sleeve's worth, ball of yarn left. And this ball spent a few days in my bathroom trying to de-wrinkle by steam after being knit into part of a too-tight sleeve. I'm 90% sure it's not enough, so as soon as I finish writing this, I promise I'll get up off my butt and take it down to Yarns by the Sea. I noticed they had several hanks of this colorway of tosh vintage when I was there two weeks ago. Crossing my fingers that they still have some. Even if they don't it shouldn't be a wasted trip because at least I can hopefully get somebody to ooh at my Sweater (yes, it is a proper noun).
    Did I mention the designer of this pattern is a freakin' genius? She has amazing sweaters and hats and even really cute toys. I've never really knit a stuffed animal before, but I'm thinking about it because it's designed by Ysolda. She has a whole new book of patterns coming out soon... very soon hopefully. I'm not normally one for pre-ordering, but again I might because... Ysolda is awesome.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Day with Peninsula Rugmakers Guild

     This morning I went to the Rose Garden Library in San Jose to spend some time with the hookers! My mom is the president of the local rug hooking guild, which is full of awesome fiber artists. I went today to meet Diana, my mom's friend who raises Alpaca. She was kind enough to bring her drum carder and electric spinning wheel to show me. It was awesome to get to talk with her and find out a little more about spinning and Alpaca farming. In addition to my spinning lesson, I got to show off my sweaters and see a demonstration of a non-traditional rug making technique. Just being around so many other enthusiastic fiber artists made me realize I need to do this more often.

     The biggest reason for my trip today was my present from the Easter Bunny: a bag of gorgeous Alpaca fiber that came from one of Diana's animals. When mom gave it to me I thought I would die just touching it, but of course when I got it home I could not wait to spin it. Alas, I do not own carders, and this fleece is raw!
     A whole evening of google sleuthing later I had learned that it did not need to be washed but it does need to be carded. So, I sent mom an email with the subject line, "if you give a Kelly an Alpaca fleece... she will ask you to help her buy some hand carders." Her response was to call in Diana, complete with drum carder to save the day! She gave me some of the fleece she was working with, and told me if I come over next week we can card my Easter fleece.


     The fiber in this gallon bag of wonder is almost ready for spinning. You could spin it straight from the bag if you wanted to, but after it goes through Diana's drum carder it will be beeeeaauutiful.

 There is also a fair amount of vegetable matter that needs to be picked out in the process...



But now I do have some Alpaca ready to spin since the fiber that Diana gave me today is all carded and ready to go! 
Doesn't my Ashford Tradtional look totally spiffy next to the wood-burning stove and leather wingback chair?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parsons The New School for Design

     My internship is a bust and I'm now a whore for knitwear job/educational opportunities. Maybe this is far off... I need to develop a design portfolio before I can even apply, but with a lot of work I could be someplace like this in a year. Their video (with Donna Karan talking) actually makes me want to go back to school for this.

     There are some questions to ask: Do I want to be forced go beyond knitwear? Would I be able to specialize in knitwear at that school? Can I handle living in NYC for two years? For many fashion students I'm sure that's part of the dream... maybe I should keep trying to find opportunities like this on the west coast. I know SF has the art institute... do they have a design school? The program at Parsons seems way awesome... the description of their studios says their facilities include a "specialist knitwear studio." Just seems way too awesome to be real, or for my perception to not be skewed towards making everything having to do with knitwear and yarn sound more fun than it is in real life. 
     What I should do is try to talk to people who have graduated or are in programs like this. I've been scouring ravelry for possible mentors, which is actually how I found this school. I didn't have any ravelry friends before, like I was almost afraid to reach out to other knitters... I still hesitate sometimes but I'm getting better at just randomly adding friends. It's not like facebook, I don't have to have actually met them. These are people I want to meet, with whom my only way to connect is ravelry, so I will friend them. Favorite their designer pages and friend their profiles. Just because one person is too afraid of competition and doesn't want to welcome me, doesn't mean others won't be friendly and willing to teach. 
     I'm glad I was able to figure out that that internship was not for me without having to move there and then want to quit. I could tell already that I would want to quit. Sorry, I signed up for some experience; I am looking for more structure. It's not wrong to be so severely disappointed by lack of structure, right? I don't want to hang out in a beanbag chair and try to appear busy, or continuously be bugging you to give me something to do while YOU sit in your beanbag chair trying to appear busy. I want to DESIGN SWEATERS. Dammit. I would be an asset to your company because I want to design sweaters that will make people want to buy huge dye-lots of your ridiculously priced yarn. DAMMIT. 
     Frustration aside, I am so glad I didn't actually have to move to Fresno to figure out that I'm better off on my own. Lack of respect is a perfectly good reason not to work with someone. If my new boss won't get up off her ass when I introduce her to my mother... then I say, peace out. TNNA and PiPN may or may not still be helpful to me, I may or may not get to intern for Helen Hamann... We'll see. I'm willing to bet she's got a bank of knowledge I reaaalllly want to borrow from and I am totally eager to pay the interest. No need to be threatened by little me. 
     At least I feel like all the paths are open in front of me... I may end up jumping through windows instead of calmly walking through doors to get to the career I want, but for now I get to develop the skills that will hopefully get me the dream job. But for now... Designdesigndesign! 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marilyn's "Let's Make Love" Sweater

    Right now I'm watching Lets Make Love, paying much more attention to my knitting than the movie of course, but my attention was grabbed when Marilyn took the screen for her first scene. Then I was compelled to pause to search for a still of this sweater:
        Now I want to make it... looks good on Marilyn! Reminds me of Beatnik so much that I'm wondering if Norah Gaughan got her inspiration from this particular hollywood sweater too. The overall theme is the same, with different pattern elements achieving the effect. Norah says the Beatnik is "A modern version of a cabled fisherman sweater with a nod to the 1960s beatnik in its boat neck and fitted shape." 
        Hey, this movie was made in 1960... So I'm thinking, the arrangement of the cable patterns on both sweaters are fisherman (aran) reminiscent, the shapes are very similar, especially the neck, but Marilyn wears hers much looser. I like that this one has more positive ease, could wear it with leggings...
        Sweaters in movies are always more interesting to me than the actual plot of the movie! The most recent Harry Potter had quite a few that made me drool, and practically all of Anne Hathaway's outfits in Love and Other Drugs made my fingers itch to google patterns and sketch sweaters.

Because WIPs deserve pictures...

Vivian, by Ysolda Teague... aaaamazing. Happy to say Jamie's graduation gift is coming along well, have ripped back a few times but progress is still within my timeline. :) The first sleeve came out significantly tighter than the second, I re-knit that with more relaxed gauge and made myself happy. Then of course I was so eager to get to the yoke that I skipped a cable repeat in the top left sleeve and got six or seven rows into the yoke before I noticed! Whoops. Pay more attention Kelly, and make more sweaters!
The last few days my mind has been tangled up in the cabled beret I am attempting to design out of Malabrigo Silky Merino. This one will most likely adorn the lovely head of the boyfriend's sister as soon as I'm satisfied with it. She asked for a beret and her favorite colors cover at least half the rainbow... I think she'll be happy.
There are a few beret patterns out in this yarn and I want to invent my own. It's going to be a beret... I think. At this point I'm unsure about whether or not my increases are adequate.
I keep getting distracted by my desire to make the cables more complicated; I want the increases incorporated into the cable pattern, but I'm held back by fear of over complicating the hat.
I have also been thinking about writing a pattern for my chameleon tail beanie. I've made cabled and un-cabled versions and had one person request that I make one for them. It would be a really simple pattern to write... would be a good excuse to force myself to figure out how to format a pdf that I can upload to ravelry. Images are dancing in my head of submitting to knitty, or selling patterns on etsy. It's a lot of work... that and just absorbing every bit of knitting history and culture I can feast my eyeballs on. Thank you internet.