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Time has just quickly flown by this summer and I have so much to share!

HAIKU, aka the #LessThan2WeekSweater

Shortly after a fun and successful trip to TNNA, I decided to once again partner with my friends at Anzula to show at Sock Summit 2011. And why wouldn’t I? I love Anzula’s products and yarns — that’s why I have worked may of my Liberation hats in Anzula Squishy (superwash merino, cashmere, nylon) and in Anzula Sebastian (superwash merino, seacell).

For this second Sock Summit, I designed a very nicely fitted tank top out of a new yarn – Anzula Haiku. I named this pattern Haiku as well. With the timing, I really had to get this pattern written, designed, knitted, photographed and published within 2 weeks! (Yes, I know I’m not exactly sane in this respect — my friends remind me of this almost everyday.)  The result is a sexy fitted pattern written in 12 sizes with 8 separate bust fitting options for bust sizes C to GG (I used UK sizing references)!!  If you do the math, that’s 96 different fitting options!!  This is actually a top that will fit me and my 32G breasts! It’s a top that I’ve been wanting to design and write for some time. I have future plans to write additional garments in this style as well, because I really feel that having well-fitting garments is very important, and I want us to be able to knit garments that really fit our bodies.

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I brought  Haiku, individual  Liberation  patterns and limited print editions of my Liberation e-book to Sock Summit and for sale at the Anzula booth.  Several patterns, including  Haiku, sold out by the second day.  All and all, it was a great show.

Gino’s Restaurant & Pico Accuardi

One of the many events I attended in Portland while at Sock Summit was one of Pico Accuardi Dyeworks‘ fabulous sock club luncheon held at my good friend and fellow Visionary’s restaurant, Gino’s. I was a guest and featured designer and shared my Septima Clark pattern with the club. The company and food were spectacular. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore.

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Being Deb’s friend and hanging out with her also meant that this city girl had other opportunities to eat at Gino’s and visit her farmhouse on Mt. Hood.

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Left: Playing with baby bunnies at Deb’s farm; Right: Her naughty goats that like to steal chicken and rabbit feed.

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Above: I also attended a cocktail party at the Pico Accuardi dye studio, where I was able to have a mini trunk show with the Liberation collection and my Weekend Shawl.

Sock Summit Flash Mob, Sock Hop & Fabulousness

There were many events at Sock Summit, including a flash mob dance. I recorded a rehearsal at the Opening Night reception, a spontaneous dance at the 1980s themed sock hop, and the “official” dance.

Above: Video of the official flash mob. For the other videos, go to my CraftyDiversions YouTube channel.

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One of the events was the Foot to Fleece challenge, in which teams spun freshly shorn fleece (in the grease) and attempted to knit a sock. I didn’t participate in any teams, but I was the official cheerleader for the Pico Accuardi Dyeworks‘ Spin U team. Above (clockwise from top left): Sheep being shorn; sheep pen; the PAD Spin U team; Shannon Okey took a photo of me in my cheerleading outfit when I went to visit the Cooperative Press booth.

My favorite event was the 80’s-themed Sock hop! If y’all know me, you know that my favorite genre of music is 80s alternative and new wave. Bands like Depeche Mode, OMD, New Order, The Cure, The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Pet Shop Boys, Information Society and Erasure rock my world. So you can imagine my excitement for this sock hop. My friends and I decided to dress up in costume for it. The irony is that except for the big hair (c’mon, I’m from Texas!) and bright red lipstick (of course my parents didn’t know), I really didn’t dress too 80s during that time. Sure, I had my share of hideous outfits, but I refused to succumb to the trendy fashions of the time (aka I was not that cool) and never even owned a set of rubber bracelets, nor did I wear large crosses (I did wear an ankh though).

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Above Photos: 1. Party Banner; 2. Deb Accuardi, Me and Marisol Sanchez decked out a la Desperately Seeking Susan; 3. Me and Deb in our hideous but fabulous outfits. I even wore lots of blue eyeshadow; 4. Teri Sabah; 5. Crowd dancing; 6. & 7. Two ladies totally knew every single move to Thriller and led a group of people in the Thriller dance; 8. crowd dancing; 9. It got really hot, so I just had to get my hair into a side ponytail!; 10. Left to Right: Deb Accuardi, me, Teri Saba, Joely, Stevanie Pico, Misty, Marisol Sanchez.

Despite the fact that Portland and the Pacific Northwest apparently hate me and the allergy misery hell, I had a great time. (My allergies went into overdrive and went haywire by the end of Day 4 — Even though I take allergra on a daily basis and have been on immunotherapy for over a year, I’m still quite sensitive to allergens. I am very allergic to much of the flora in the region, like Alder, Birch and Cedar.)

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Above: Left – I finally was able to meet Franklin Habit in real life! He’s a doll! Right – Met Sharon Fletcher of Stitch Jones.

I was able to visit with some friends and meet some in real life for the first time. A few folks I was able to visit with Marly Bird, Jaala Spiro, Shannon Okey , Stephanie Tallent, Caro Sheridan, Stitchy McYarnpants, Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, Carl and Eileen Koop, Erica Owens…I’m sure there are many more folks I missed and I hope they’ll forgive me for having a brain fart right now. I was also quite flattered and humbled when fans of my work and designs wanted to meet me.  Two people absolutely fabulous and talented people that that I was ridiculously ecstatic to finally meet in real life were Sivia Harding and Franklin Habit.

Post-Summit in PDX

After helping Anzula break down their booth on Sunday, Deb (who also has a fabulous podcast, At the Kitchen Table) and I headed for another fabulous dinner at Gino’s with Cat Bordhi and some fellow Visionaries, many of whom I also had not met in real life. We were celebrating the birth of Judy Becker‘s upcoming book, Beyond Toes: Knitting Adventures with Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Dinner was great, but the company was more wonderful. It’s always nice to be able to share experiences, thoughts and ideas with a group of creative, intelligent, like-minded people.

I spent a few more days in the PDX area, albeit a bit miserable due to my horrid allergies. I could not breathe or sleep well. The allergies dashed my short-lived fantasy of buying a small farm or a cute house gorgeous Oregon.  I stayed with Deb and her husband at their farmhouse on Mt. Hood. The beauty of the surroundings and a great hostess made my stay much less miserable. I spent the rest of my stay helping Deb with her 2012 Knitter’s Datebook (coming soon!!) and teaching her the basics of InDesign and Illustrator.

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Above: We went to the top of Mt. Hood, where there were still lots of snow. Deb’s dog obviously loved the snow, and we ended the day with drinks at the Timberline lodge: great view, great drinks, great company….ahh…

Unfortunately, it’s back to reality for me and I’m still playing catch-up. In the past month, I’ve had lots of pattern releases, but I haven’t really been able to post or blog about those. I just recovered from a major chest infection (in the end, I could not fend off the ill-effects of the allergies from Oregon) and am trying to get a project done for Vogue Knitting Live in LA.

I’ll be posting more details about some exciting news later, but here are some of them in a quick nutshell:

  • Roseling was published in Twist Collective Fall.
  • The Fall issue of Knitscene, for which I got the cover, finally hit the newsstands! My patterns Lepidoptera is the cover garment, and inside, I also have a sassy beret, Whittier Hat.
  • On Sept 15, I will be appearing and speaking on a BlogHer panel on Craft + Money at the BlogHer Handmade/ Creative Connection conference. 
  • I will be debuting 2 new designs for at Vogue Knitting Live in Los Angeles on Sept 23-25! The garments will be shown exclusively at the Knit Culture booth. Knit Culture will be posting about the designs on their blog and I will be discussing it and revealing sneak peaks on my Facebook page and on Twitter.

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keep austin weird I’ve always had a fondness for Austin, and it’s not just that I lived there for several years and attended UT-Austin. There’s something very special about this town. As with the world, nothing is static and today’s Austin is quite different from the Austin I knew. However, there’s still a fundamental element that is very Austin-like, much like the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan.

Thus, when I found out that there would be a Ravelry event at The Knitting Nest in Austin through my friend Sarah, and she invited me to tag along, I decided to make an impromptu weekend rendezvous that involved 3 very loved things on my list: knitting/yarn, friends and Austin!

Sarah, her hubby and her cute son were kind enough to put up with me and give me a ride to/from Austin. I wasn’t sure how transportation would work out while I was in Austin, but I did have a car rental planned. In the end, my dear friend Tedd insisted on driving me around whenever I needed/wanted.

The Knitting Nest, Princesses of Ravelry & American Cancer Society

The event at The Knitting Nest was to honor the “Princesses of Ravelry,” Mary-Heather (rainydaygood) and Sarah (onestitchshort) and a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society via a silent auction with items donated by yarn companies, designers and local Austin businesses.

I donated two $25 gift coupons for Crafty Diversions patterns and a copy of my Liberation book. All of the donated items found great homes and I can’t wait to see the knitted items by the winners of the silent auction!

Overall, I had a great time hanging out at the shop, bidding on the silent auction and meeting lots of new knitters/crocheters!

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L – R:  (1) Mary-Heather and Sarah, the Princesses of Ravelry wearing the most awesome personalized crocheted crowns by the very sweet and talented Allison of CraftyisCool; (2) local spinner doing a demo and selling her handspun Buena Suerte yarn; (3) very cool wall in The Knitting Nest illustrated by Franklin Habit

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L-R: (1) Stacey (owner) and Sarah having a nice chat; (2) shoppers checking out the silent auction items; (3) yummy chocolate princess cupcakes

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L-R: (1) Lots of Longhorn yarn (Cascade 220, Lorna’s Laces and Cacade Luna) for future gifts for my UT fan friends; (2) Hank, one of the 2 adorable Knitting Nest mascots; (3) Shoppers checking out the knick-knacks at the checkout desk

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Clockwise: (1) Silent auction table featuring my donated items; (2) Shoppers checking out my section of the silent auction; (3) Super fabulous knitter Debra won the silent auction for the Liberation e-book showing off the yarn she bought to make Alice Paul for her lucky niece.

Out and About

I spent my evenings hanging out with my good friend Tedd, who knows how much I love to eat! One evening, we ate at the trailer at The Liberty Bar. All I can say is NOM! (Tedd and I met the summer after my freshman year at college. Even though we don’t see each other or get to talk much, I still regard him as one of my best friends and as much closer than even the brother I never had. Tedd is a musician/former and best DJ ever/graphic designer, and he and his wife are the artists behind Lucid Eyes.)

The rest of my time with Tedd involved catching up and lots of drinking and staying up until 6AM, though I cannot hold my liquor the way I used to, nor can my body handle the staying up all night thing well anymore either. I also was able to meet up with my second cousin Elena, who I had not seen in over 10 years! Right before I left Austin, I was able to lunch with another good old friend, Eric, who is the lead singer behind his indie band Johnny Hi-Fi. (I really love their newest LP: Love Sold Me Out. One of the songs in the album was written for and used in his gf’s documentary on domestic violence, Recovering Irma.)

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L-R: (1) Super yummy food from the trailer in the yard of The Liberty Bar. I forgot the names of all the dishes, but they were all yum!; (2) Tedd and me; (3) With my cousin Elena, vet extraordinaire

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L-R: (1) Enjoying a Chocolate-Espresso martini at Halcyon bar in downtown Austin; (2) Later that night, we went to some club where Tedd’s friend bought me a very strong apple martini and made me do a shot of Crown Royale. Notice the drinking theme?; (3) With Eric, photo taken 1 month ago when his band played at The Key Club in L.A.

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Tedd, Elena and I took a bicycle ricksaw from one venue to the next. I was amazed our bicyle-driver managed to pedal the 3 of us in one cart up a mini hill!

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After a few failed submissions, I finally made it into Twist Collective, and I couldn’t be happier! Yes folks, I had tried to submit to Twist 2-3 times prior, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time.

I finally achieved my goal with Issara, which was published recently in the Fall 2010 issue. What made this even more exciting for me is the fact that Issara is the cover for my particular storyline, Roxham Farm. I was already a fan of Twist Collective and of the artistry and designs in each issue. Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of what it’s like to be a designer in Twist, especially with the multiple layers of review that goes into each pattern, I am even more impressed.

Named after a good friend’s daughter (a Laotian name), Issara is a snuggly coat worked in bulky yarn with simple lines. The WOW factor lies within the back pleat and the oversized reversible cable collar that can be worn up, down, or somewhere in between.

The Idea & Design Process

Usually, when I design, I like to incorporate a feature element and/or versatility.  And since I’ve been on a reversible cables kick lately, I really wanted a garment with a dramatic reversible collar. Thus, Issara was conceived. While I had a clear idea of what I wanted, some of the key elements in the concept required some tweaking and experimentation during the actual pattern-writing and design process.

Collar

In order for the collar to lay nicely on the shoulders when worn down, it needed to flare a little – I really didn’t want a straight funnel collar. To make a nice flare, I knew that I would have to work increases into the actual cable pattern instead of bunching it all into the beginning or set up section of the collar. I experimented with a few types of increases into the cable pattern. Lifted increases won over other types of increases because it met 3 main criteria: (1) increases had to be as invisible as possible, (2) they had to compliment and work with the stitch pattern, and (3) they had to look good on both sides.

Waistline

Initially, I had intended the waistline to be a true empire waist. However, as I was working with it, I realized that the weight of the yarn in the skirt of the coat (especially with the pleat) may pull the waistline in a less than desirable way if I raised it to a true empire.  So, I change the plan a little and worked the waistline roughly about 1.5″ above a natural waistline so that there is still an elongated silhouette, but without having to carry the extra weight if it was set much higher.

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Issara sketch

Pleat

Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.

Issara Swatch1 - front Issara Swatch3 - back

Close-Ups

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Photos above, clockwise from top left (click photos to enlarge): (1) work-in-progress shot of the skirt shaping; (2) the finished pleat from the private side (WS); (3) collar detail from the public side (RS); (4) collar detail from the private side (WS); (5) waist line and back pleat; (6) back view of coat with collar worn down

Overall, I found the sample a relatively fast knit. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m the designer or as a fast knitter. It goes much faster than one anticipates because it’s worked in a bulky yarn. The slowest part of it, IMO, was the blocking, which took forever and a day to dry.  Next post: Tips/notes on modifications, blocking, etc.

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(Images above courtesy of and copyrighted by Bijou Basin Ranch)

Right before TNNA, I had to contend with 5 top secret projects. One of them was Mera, which I designed for Bijou Basin Ranch using their Bliss yarn (50% yak down, 50% cormo). OMG, the yarn is absolutely delicious and the smell of it is absolute crack for fiberistas! Aptly named, the yarn has a buttery soft feel in your hands and it has a subtle thick+think texture that gives it a very organic feel. I really wanted to show of some of the yarn’s natural texture, so the body of the garment is worked in a lightly looser gauge (plus, the yarn is very warm; the yak down has great insulating properties).

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If you are familiar with my work and my style, you’ll know that I really like to design garments that are contemporary but yet will remain stylish over time. Furthermore, I really like to design garments with options and versatility.
With Mera, I wanted to give the wearer the option to style and shape it as she wishes. Thus, I incorporated a reversible cable in the edging and cuffs.  (I’ve been on a reversible cable kick lately.) The reversible cable is not a symmetrical one — meaning it has a different design on each side of the fabric.
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Mera can be worn with the collar up or down. You can have 3/4 sleeves or fold up the cuffs for 1/2 sleeves. You can even easily adapt the pattern and knit the sleeves to full length, then when you fold the cuffs, you’d get 3/4 sleeves.

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Linky:
Additional Pattern Info
Buy PDF Pattern from BBR
Mera Pattern Page on Ravelry

Also, support your LYS and buy the patterns from them. If they don’t carry BBR or BBR patterns, tell them that they should! Of course, you should tell them they should especially carry my patterns. 😉 Info about me/where to get patterns for the LYS can be found on the About page on my site.

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Shop Knitting Patterns Now!Have you received your latest issue of Interweave Knits yet? Guess who has a pattern in it? If you haven’t, go order yours today! (And if you go through the link below, I get a small cut of your purchase as an affliliate.)

The current Summer 2010 issue features the Empyrean Tunic. It’s a design that I had originally submitted for the Spring 2010 issue (in which Rose Window Beret appears). Since people always seem to be curious to see how an idea turned into reality, below is a snapshot of my submission.

My submission swatch was worked with a sandalwood-colored 50% tussah silk and 50% wool yarn that I got a while back from a sale that a machine knitting shop was having. I still have lots of that yarn, which I think would be perfect for Empyrean. I should knit another sample since I won’t ever see the one I made for the magazine in my possession ever again. ::sigh::

The garment is worked in one piece in a raglan-construction from the top-down. Don’t worry if the neckline seems overly wide at first! It will all work itself out in the end. I promise! The neckline is tightened up with an i-cord edging, which really would not work with other garments unless it’s something airy and light like this.  I intentionally did not reduce stitches at the bottom hem and sleeve ends so that they would flare out a little — I think it just makes it seem more interesting and more fluid.

I did spot Empyrean on display at TNNA (needlearts trade show) in January 2010 at the Interweave Press booth, and of course I was stupidly giddy. The scarf that I'm wearing is Remy. (www.craftydiversions.com/patterns/remy.htm)



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After an attempt to squish and reblock that elephant hat, I realized it was useless.There were too many oops in it to fudge: the gauge was really off AND it was over-stretched in the blocking process. I had to undo and rip everything out.  Just look at the difference between the visor section and the template. The knitted part of the visor should not be about 25%-30% bigger than the template. The gauge in the Oops Hat was about 6 sts x  9 rows. The pattern gauge should be 7.5 sts x 11 rows.

After I ripped out all the pieces, I measured the hat body. OMG it was huge, at about 9.5-9.75″ for one piece. The hat is constructed of 4 pieces: 2 wider hat body pieces and 2 skinnier panel pieces.  The shirred panel measured at about 8-8.5″ each, which means that the Oops version had a head circumference of about 35-36.5″ (89-93cm) around!! Seriously, elephant!!

After I ripped out the hat, I wound the yarn only my swift and blocked the skein to get all the kinks out. To restore some of it’s springy qualities, I beat the wet hank of yarn a few times on the counter (got some good agression workout), then hung them to dry in one of our guest bathrooms.

To make things easier when I reknit, I kept each section in its own hank and marked them using different-colored ties.

When I looked at the pattern for reknitting, I realized that while there definitely were some knitter error with the gauge, there was also some designer-error. The designer-error probably would have been caught had my test knitters finished on time. Due to unforeseen reasons 1 dropped out and 2 were really late on their deadlines. They were supposed to finish right when the sample knitter was about to start, but apparently that did not happen. Maybe this hat had a hex on it.

Anyway, the designer-error occured in the miscalculation of the CO sts. My error would have made the hat bigger – probably make the medium-sized sample fit an Large or X-Large head rather than a medium head (unless the medium head has big hair).

After I fixed and recalculated my errors, I reknit the hat and even remembered to take some photos of the finishing work so that I could put up a tutorial for Amelia Earhart and I have photos to do the tutorial for this hat when it’s ready for release. BTW, this hat is called Eleanor Roosevelt.

A sneak preview of Eleanor Roosevelt, which I wore when I went to the American Film Market trade show on Nov. 8 (I’ll write about that in a later post).

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We’ve all been there, right?  I know I have. Um, many times in fact. I recently did something really terrible and had a near panic attack at 2 a.m.  (I’d love to tell you about it, but I can’t because it’s related to a secret project.)

In preparation in getting Liberation out in a timely manner, I employed a few sample knitters to help me make some of the hats. So far, nearly every single one of them have turned out great, been on time and had great finishing work. (And finishing really make these hats.)

being a little goofy with the oversized Eleanor Roosevelt hat.

However, Eleanor Roosevelt has hit a snafoo.  A really good knitter had a bad day with the hat. It appears that she may have been overly agressive in the blocking and ended up over-blocking all the pieces horizontally.  The result? Gauge that is really really off and a hat that can probably fit an elephant. Okay, so I’m exaggerating about the elephant.

So, what was supposed to be a finished size of 19.5″/ 49cm ended up being a little over 24″/ 61cm! My poor sample knitter is so stressed about this and didn’t know how to fix it. (If you are reading this – don’t stress! I have confidence it’ll all work out in the end.) I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it yet either – I still need to examine everything a little closer.  I think though, I will disassemble everything, attempt to reblock to the right size and see if it’ll work that way. If not, I will have to try a new plan of attack, or ripppppppit and reknit.

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