I like writing knitting and sewing patterns because it’s exacting. You have your drape, you have your stitches, you have your needles. One stitch, two stitch… nice in a row.
Even sewing is pretty math based. Crochet, kind of. It’s organic and shapely. You can put your hook just about anywhere. Sometimes there’s not a clear path and from a pattern writing perspective, it can be hard to get my point across.
I love crochet. Pretty much for all the reasons above. Read more →
I went through stages of delight and disappointment with Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book. When it comes down to it, would I recommend it? Maybe. Here, let me explain.
I’ve had this book in my library for a couple years and I loved it. Yesterday when I sat down with it, I thought I’d be writing how much I crush on this book and why. But when I took an actual read through it cover to cover, it was lacking in the basics.
I was so excited when the package containing Hand Printing from Nature showed up unexpectedly from Storey. The note simply read, “Kristin, I think you’ll love this book, enjoy!” I suppose that’s one of the many reasons I love working with Storey Publishing, they really get to know their authors. Anyway, I realize now I’ve waited WAY too long to crack it open.
I’m so looking forward to getting my studio cleaned up later today so I can try out some of these beautifully crafted ideas.
Giveaway details at the end of the post! Read more →
When I first sat down to review this week’s book, The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book: Celebrating Four Decades of American Sweater Style, I approached it like all my craft books. I read through the index, skimmed for the projects that grab my attention, read through the actual patterns to see how well they are written, and then finally and lastly read the intro.
Well, that’s when the my approach was completely detoured. The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book sucked me in and I spent the rest of the evening reading this combo of the two things I love – knitting and history.
Read more →
It’s official, Jason and I are getting married this fall. It’s the biggest craft project ever! Ha. There are many great things going into the works, but I the fear of feeling overwhelmed and a bit schizophrenic. So I’m going to focus on just one aspect, the wedding shawl.
I had actually drawn up a shawl design for my perfect wedding shawl. I loved it. And then I realized that I’m not really a lace knitter and it would take me just as long to work out the pattern as to knit the thing. And lace tends to cause a lot of swearing for me, so I finally relented and opted to go with a pattern.
I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted which can be a pretty dangerous thing. The main needs were that it was both elegant and warm. It’s an October wedding and the chance of snow is a real threat. But I didn’t want it to look casual or frumpy. So I kept that in mind while looking.
Lace knitting has a pretty long history and I felt confident that over the last 100+ years of publishing, someone, somewhere, knit the shawl I wanted. And they had.
In November 2009, Jenny Johnson Johnen typed up her first pattern ever, an amazing Estonian inspired design called the Echo Flower Shawl. And it’s free!
For warming reasons, I decided to go with a slightly fuzzy lace weight alpaca silk blend. This yarn is luxury plied. It’s a delight to knit with. I looked at every single incarnation of the shawl and then when I got it narrowed down to a few yarns, I looked at every project ever made with them. I opted for Silky Alpaca Lace by Classic Elite Yarns.
Now the colors. My wedding colors are burnt orange, a sort of sky blue, and silver. Do I go orange, blue or gray? My wedding dress is a simple tea length dress in ivory with a silver antique broach as an accent. After much ho humming and emails with my sister and best friend, blue was decided.
But oh the shade! This yarn has 3 lovely shades of blue. I called the only yarn shop in Central Iowa that sells it and they had exactly the amount I needed in Forget-Me-Not. Done.
Now to get started. I grabbed my Addi Turbos, a fist full of stitch markers, and got started. Knit knit knit. (#&#($*&@
Hmm, my count was off.
It was the most infuriating project and I was only 2 hours in. After 3 days of swearing and reworking stitches and whining to Jason about how my status as an expert knitter was being thwarted because a million knitters had successfully completed this project without a hitch. Then it finally clicked. Work the whole chart before the center, not just the repeat. So stupid. Now I was happily working along and my stitch count came out great.
And then I made the worst mistake ever. I took it to Creative Collision and worked on it while talking. Wow. Did I ever jack it up. Truth be told, I have no idea where I went so wrong as to be a whole 10 stitches short. Didn’t do a round of yarn overs? I don’t even care to figure it out. I’m calling “do over”. I messed up so bad I’m actually going to give it a huge rip and start from the beginning.
I wanted to show it to you first though:
And that’s where I am on my wedding shawl. But hey, I have the pattern, the yarn, the needles, and a fist full of stitch markers. I have a good understanding of the pattern now, it should be easy peasy. Just no more talking, this is a high concentration project from here on out and I’m going to respect my own limitations.
What’s the most complex project you’ve ever made? What was your favorite wedding craft project?
Quarry Books is giving away a copy of Water Paper Paint to one lucky reader! Leave a comment between now and Tuesday May 31st about how you have or hope to use watercolors in your creative process! Please make sure to sign in so your email address is available so I can contact you, the winner! Enjoy and thanks Quarry! And we have a winner! Sarah E White! Congratulations and thanks everyone for participating!
My BFA is in oil painting which is so completely different than watercolors. They don’t really translate well, except the color part. I have always loved working with watercolors, but I’ve never really read about how to “properly” use them. I’ve just always played. This book gave me such a great dose of inspiration this past week. Water Paper Paint is rightly subtitled “exploring creativity with watercolor and mixed media.” It’s filled with projects that help the reader explore working with this fun versatile medium.
Chapter 1 covers the basics–paper, paint, palette, and brush choices and what they are each good for. I forgot how important these details are since they’ve been part of my general pool of knowledge for so long. It was a fun refresher and I did learn and was reminded of a few fun details.
For instance, did you know that you can mix your own watercolors using powdered pigments? The author, Heather Smith Jones, shows you how.
Or did you know that all paints are labeled by the Color Index International that clues you in on if pigment or dyes are used, their color type, and their quality. It’s all described by a PBr7 (pigment+brown+quality of 7). Check out page 24 to read more about it. Neat, so that’s what that little sequence stands for.
Chapter 2 is the projects and takes up the bulk of the book. I think in many ways it could be more “Part 1, 2, 3″ vs. chapters as you may normally think of them. There are 30 projects and many of them incorporate using watercolors to make fun home decor items, like project 1, which are these great wet on wet pieces made into ornaments (or a paper garland if you string them all together).
These great projects are a fabulous way to grow your knowledge and skills in regard to watercolors. They’ll open the door to play, incorporating this very affordable medium into your projects, sketchbook, and general making practice.
My absolute favorite project is the cover project: #25 adding water color to a monoprint. I’ve just never seen it done that way and I can’t wait to give it a try.
After browsing this book and absorbing some of the lessons, I did this piece last week (wrote about that day here). I then turned around and submitted to the local Community Gallery show. I had intended on just submitting my crochet/ink piece (the one I framed last week), but submitted them both instead. They both got in! Hooray!
I hope you’ll look this great book up at your local library, book store, or Amazon, and give watercolors a try. It’s really fun and it’s a great entry level painting medium. Sure you can go all nuts, but really, you just need a cheap pan set to start with, a brush, and some paper to start having some fun.
My phone rang, I moaned and dug it out of my bag (little known secret, I hate phone calls). When I saw it was my dear friend my attitude instantly changed. “Hi Linda, what’s up?”
“I’m so glad you answered! I’m here, in this amazing thrift shop, and they have all these vintage craft books. Do you want them? Here, let me read you the titles.” She sounded like she found the mother-load, her voice had that excited this-is-the-best-thing-ever quiver to it. Of course I said yes to every book she mentioned. How could I ever turn down “Sewing Knits – menswear” or “Stitch by Stitch volumes 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7?” I could not.
Sometimes I’ll make projects from vintage book patterns (they are often made with unknown sizing changes and bizarre-o standards). And I do regularly use them as a source of inspiration, laughter, and general silly making in the studio.
(love that cow cover)
(oh my gosh, look at those targets! But I do love those chairs)
Sometimes though, you find one, like the “Dressmaker’s Dictionary” circa 1943 that is a true gem of techniques and practical advice.
(“come knit me baby” should be the title of this book, yikes! I like the yoke though, just not the lacing, see, inspiration!)
(oh my gosh that kid does not look excited about having to even touch that clown. But check out that amazing patchwork quilt on the bed though! Lovely!)
I’m an odd duck in the way that I actually read vintage craft books cover to cover. I love the writing along with the patterns. Some are easier to digest then others. The “Dressmaker’s Dictionary” is definitely a more technical piece of crafting literature.
(sometimes you find a little book like this tucked into a larger book, which is always a treat)
(I actually really like this sweater and just might end up making it)
What’s your favorite vintage book? Do you tend to read them cover to cover or flip through for pictorial inspiration and laughs?
I have wanted to try entrelac for ages now. I even bought some sock yarn (spring 2009) I think would be delicious for the Annetrelac Socks in the 2007 Interweave Knits Holiday issue… so for over a year now. I just never have. It wasn’t even an issue of intimidation. It was more just trying to finish the things I had already started. Well, I’ve finally finished enough that I feel a-okay with starting some new socks. But I wanted some instant gratification first.
I was cleaning out my studio yesterday and a print out of this quick dishcloth pattern fell out from between two knitting magazines. Perfect! The Garterlac Dishcloth by Criminy Jickets on ravelry here and on his blog here.
This pattern was actually given to me by the secretary of the painting and drawing facility back at NIU, so like 3 years ago. Finally getting around to making the things I’ve been wanting to for quite awhile. She was knitting it one day and we struck up a conversation. Next time we saw each other, she had brought in the pattern for me. So nice of her!
It’s a really well written pattern and it’s free and you can use up scraps of cotton to make it (use a different color for each block or row) and it’s a great way to get your toes wet when you decide to give entralac a try.
Here’s my progress so far:
Here’s what they look like finished (photo from Criminy Jickets):
I’m completely ready and excited for my next knitting project: Those elusive entralac socks pictured above!
I’m having a hard time finishing The Handmade Marketplace, but not for the usual reasons of lack of interest or complicated language. Nope. I’m having a hard time finishing this book because about every other paragraph I’m compelled to run off and jot something down. Committing to my idea list inspired ideas that keep raising to the surface. I love this book, it’s so inspiring. So what is it all about?
Just like the title says, this book is about, “how to sell your craft locally, globally, and online.” It’s all about why you (& me) should sell, how to get started, and once started what should we do next.
The first part of the book focuses on the “why we make” question and why it may (or may not) be a good idea to sell in the handmade marketplace. Kari asks a lot of great questions and there are tips and stories from her Creative Collaborative (a group of amazing makers who contributed their insights to the book).
Chapter two that really grabbed me. Branding has always been built up as a corporate word, but it completely applies to all of us too. The ones who do it well are the successful ones. She challenges us to think of branding (as well as marketing later) as just one more fun creative project. As I step from where I am now to where I want to be, tightening up the way I present myself will be important. This chapter inspired me, and sent me off to write down a million things as well as finally finish the new archive template.
In chapter 3 there is a lot of solid info about sole proprietorship vs. partnership vs. LLC, picking a name, and loads of other great advice for going from crafting as a hobby to making it a busines.
I got back to the book and dug into the chapter on marketing. Did you know, other than saying “yes” to opportunities, I’ve hardly ever done marketing for Craft Leftovers? I think things could be going along at a better clip if I put a little more effort into my PR, that and my images. More on that next week. She offers up a lot of great advice on how to approach marketing with the same creative problem solving I do a leftovers challenge.
I, of course, had to stop and brainstorm press packets and improvements to the blog, haha.
She covers a lot more than just press releases, things like podcasts, twitter, facebook, and a great Q&A with Holly Becker of decor8 about what makes an email inquiry stand out. Very informative for sure!
I’m shooting for a craft fair or two in the summer of 2011 and I am so happy to have this resource in my tool belt. I’m sure I will turn to it again and again to help figure out where the best places are to sell, how to choose what to sell, pricing, and my set up. It even covers craft fair etiquette – I didn’t know that existed, but it makes sense that is does and it is foreign to me for sure.
There is also a great section on online shops. Having had 2 for more than 3 years now you think I would know a lot. After reading this section I feel like a newbie. It definitely opened my eyes a bit. I’m excited about putting to action some of the things I learned.
And don’t despair, if having a physical shop is your dream, that’s covered in great detail! Ahh, someday. :)
A bonus to the book for me is that quite a few of my favorite people are part of the Creative Collective I mentioned above:
If you are in anyway thinking about selling your creative projects, this is the perfect book to get you acquainted with all aspects of being a part of the Handmade Marketplace.
I’m so glad my editor sent this along to me. After seeing this book, I’m pretty happy to be publishing my book with them. More and more I’m finding that most the books I love are put out by Storey Publishing.
Winter is always the season of weaving for me. With my overly large floor room, it’s the only time of year that I’m okay being tucked into my basement studio for hours shuttling back and forth. I turn on the space heater, bring down a pot of tea and put it on my candle warmer. [...]