"The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry"

This title, a line from a Robert Burn poem, describes July 2012 design activities. My intended offering, Amelia, will be August's instead...  and so it goes for best-laid plans.  I like to have things neat and tidy – working on one thing at a time, making lists, looking ahead, making plans – but the truth is some of my best ideas have come out of turn, out of left field, seemingly out of no where ... and when they do, happily, I've learned to let them.

Dorothy I had been hard at work on Amelia (a 2-color, raglan sleeve, lace?, garter stitch? number), when I received an email from a ravelry follower asking for more detailed pictures of Dorothy. Eager to accommodate the request  (I hadn't thought of Dorothy for a while), I went back for a closer look. Still lovin' her for sure, but in the year since her release my work has taken some turns.  I found myself fixated on her update.  I wanted her longer, more shaped, and wasn't she a delightful candidate for reworking on circular needles? (I'm lovin' circular needles these days.)  But wait... more pondering...

wouldn't a much better candidate for this all out remake be Emma? Or at least her chevron lace?? A week of trials followed.  Still intrigued, it didn't take me too long to dismantle Amelia and reset sights on this new project, now appropriately renamed Katherine (Dorothy's mother) – and to modify my planning queue accordingly.

Katherine has turned out to be a chevron lace summer shell, longer than both Dorothy or Emma, with shaping more reminiscent of Margareta,and, yes, worked on circular needles.  With luck (and best-laid plans), I'll have her launched next week.

And just to satisfy my however-futile, list requirement, a brief bulleted recap: 

  • Dorothy remains on it, needing some new pictures after gentle circular reworking, 
  • as does dear Amelia, who may or may not end up as I envision her now. We shall see.

On a separate note, in the midst of July's upheaval came an invitation from Robin Hunter, who asked if she could interview me for her designer-series blog.  Needless to say I was delighted to accept – in the midst of reassessment, a bit of self-assessment!  You'll find that conversation here.

And for my next number...

I've been thinking (a lot) lately about lacy tees – a series maybe – but this time made with Quince's Finch, a fingering-weight wool definitely thinner than I've been working lately but appropriate for a warm weather top.

The wool is on its way to me, and swatches are done.  Aren't these fun?

I look for lace stitch patterns that are easy to knit – a simple repeat with an every-other-purl row for a bit of rest along the way.  I love the lace but not a complicated process.  I think others may agree.

Agnes, and beyond

I'm delighted to present my latest design, Agnes, inspired by a simple long sleeved tee shirt.  The fit is just right, just as I planned – for a change.  Interesting how the process of design unfolds.  I can count on my initial aim to take several turns during the making.  That said, I've sketched out my goals for the year: 12 designs or so, one a month...  The theme is mostly long and lean, like Agnes.  There's a cape, jacket (double breasted), a cardigan or 2, a lacy number, some of these with a trim – fringe or ruffle, and probably a stole or cowl to round things out. 

Click

here

for pattern details.

Agnes

will be posted on Ravelry later today, at least that's my plan.  We shall see.

Winter lace?

Here's a peek at my next piece, Johanna, named for my grandmother's grandmother.  

I just love the delicate texture of this diamond brocade that feels like lace to me without the holes.  Juliet and I collaborated on the sweater design, but she wanted stripes – random   stripes! and although her wish is my command I feared random stripes might intimidate prospective knitters especially in light of shaping and buttoned cuffs. (I'll admit to being a bit intimidated myself!)  So I've made her version first, serving the groundwork for dimensions and sizing.  It looks fabulous on her and we'll certainly get a picture during our next photo shoot.  Meanwhile my work continues, happily, on this – aiming for a December pattern launch. Stay tuned!

Birds Egg

This color makes my heart sing. 

And is what Louise, my next design offering, will be wearing.  She's almost done, launched hopefully by week's end. Quince & Co. does a fine job with colors, and the gauge of their chickadee yarn line suits my aesthetic.

I've been working on Louise for the past several weeks, on its knitting and its documentation simultaneously, and have been struck along the way with how the writing has served the designing – 2 halves of the whole, the what and how – keeping my process honest and text most simply put.  Its stitch and row calculations have at times been complicated to work out, which should not be apparent to those who give the project a go.  That's my goal.

Marlene revisited

I logged in to my Ravelry site today and was amazed to see 23 new posts of user activity favoriting or queueing Marlene since yesterday.  Zowie.  Thank you ravelry member who spawned the activity with a single discussion board mention. 

Marlene was the first pattern I published on Ravelry, named for my mum, who is forever in my heart.  She'd be delighted too.

Hilda's up!

I posted Hilda to Ravelry and Patternfish last week and by now I'm happy to report Ravelry's "thumbs up" count for Hilda has exceeded that of Martha, my previous front-runner.  Just what the doctor (of motivation) ordered. Click here for pattern details.

I had intended to launch Gussie next – the third in my summer lace series, but just as I was gearing up to do so notice of Patternfish's 10,000th design competition arrived by email. Gussie, I feel, would be a worthy submission, so I've paused on her launch for now to give Hilda the spotlight – in good time for fall planning.

Thank you CEY

Classic Elite Yarns contacted me last week OUT OF THE BLUE asking permission to use May in their new webletter just out today.  Needless to say I agreed.

I've used their Wool Bam Boo (50% wool-50% bamboo) exclusively for the past several years.  I'm accustomed to its gauge and attracted to its texture, each stitch so delineated.  The drape is perfect for my styling.  For my next project I'm using Quince&Cos Chickadee wool, and loving that too. 

Done, and next up

Phew. Dorothy and Emma patterns are now completed and posted on Ravelry and Patternfish.  I do always underestimate the time it takes for this work.  I believe it could go on and on for as long as I let it since I obsess and wordsmith endlessly.  But no matter, a little obsessing is probably a good thing when it comes to all this math and writing.

And in between my episodes of obsession I got to work on my next piece – the brainstorming part anyway, and lace research.  Doing so, I quickly got clearer on what I didn't want – not willing to turn my most fun activity into a mind bending count down or rip out session due to a too complex stitch/row repeat.  After my most happy experiences with Dorothy and Emma I now know lace knitting doesn't have to be that.  So after lots of looking and multiple swatches, decision made –

THIS! –  but in a different color, with some delightful garter or seed stitch trimming, more than I've used in my prior two...  And I think I'll work the trim in a second color.  The sleeves will be longer but not too long, so will the hem.  I'll change up the neckline as well.  Intrigued?  Hope so.

Lace series underway

It's been an active few months of lace knitting for me with lots of knit discovery along the way.  I'm loving the lace despite my earlier doubts.  It does take a bit more attention, but once underway not that much really.  And the stitches are simple.

My favorite part of lace knitting is the final blocking that reveals its fabulous texture. This is Emma - incorporating a chevron eyelet lace. There'll be short sleeves here and a scoop neck. I love the way the color of an undergarment will show through.

Another design, Dorothy, is already finished.  Its lace is a leaf pattern, a little more complex than the chevron so I kept it sleeveless.  The patterns of both Emma and Dorothy are almost done, except for pictures.  Hopefully I'll have these published on Ravelry within the next few weeks.  There'll be a third too - longer sleeves, less of a scoop on the neck, and perhaps a bit longer on the hips.  The lace pattern will be different from these first 2, though has not yet been decided.  I'll commit to 3 in this series, but I'm enjoying the lacework so much there could be more.  We shall see..

The Launch, at last!

I learned last week that Knitty has relinquished 2 of my 3 submitted designs (fingers crossed for consideration of the third in the Deep Fall issue!), which has now freed me to post on Patternfish and Ravelry.  So, happily, Martha (shown on Juliet below), May, and Hattie are now launched - hopefully to accolades :), but honestly I find the Ravelry group to be so friendly and supportive.  I'm already pleased with the response.

Recapping then, this first series of designs has been built on a shaped bodice with variations in the neckline.  Next up I'm all about the lace.  Smitten with my Jared Flood stole experience, I'm aiming to incorporate lace textures into a simple bodice.  More on this to come.

Time flies

I didn't plan to let so much time go by between postings, been working on latest 2 sweater pieces - Hattie (as previously mentioned) and Hilda. Hilda's in final stages now, which I'll offer to Quince & Co. by next week.  I don't know if they work with outside designers, but since I used Quince wool (chickadee) I decided to give it a shot.  Their website is an inspiration too. Hattie's already submitted to Knitty along with Martha before that.  The deadline is April 1st for early fall issue so I suppose they'll respond soon.

My first sale, typewritten, was made to my local yarn store back in 1983 – a favorite purple sweater with green hearts for daughter Juliet, then 3. She models for me now too.  You'll see her wearing Martha soon, when I'm free to post it or it gets posted.