Catching up

Wow, I didn't mean to let so much time go by since my last post.  No excuses though, I have been (happily) busy.  In this 3 month interim I've published M's Favorite, Mad's Gift, and Mitzi, and revised Corinne – adding a smaller cowl in the process.  I've also been working out a journal system for keeping track of all of this craziness, with a to-do list that starts out with 

  • post twitter
  • post instagram
  • post blog

so, ya, my bad – until now.  

As I've written previously, I'm driven (since working with quince&co on Linda) to update my patterns with metrics and Quince's formatting terminology and language. Starting with my early designs (first public offerings in 2010-11) this review sometimes goes beyond the surface and I find myself tweaking other things. The latest in my revision queue is May.

May was designed with Classic Elite's Wool Bam Boo (50% Wool, 50% Bamboo), my go-to yarn at that time, that has since been discontinued.  So embedded in this task is an opportunity to try something new.  Juliet's birthday gift to me this year was a gift certificate to quince&co.  Starting there and checking for comparable gauge I discovered their Willet, a sport-weight cotton.  I find it thrilling that they are environmentally conscious, and this cotton yarn, billed as cleaneris also quite lovely to work with.  I'm swatching now for my revised May to be followed next by pattern #128, as yet unnamed but with design coming into focus.

More to come, sooner than the last round.  I promise.


M's Favorite

Marlene loved a good turtleneck.  They were part of her classic look.  One day she reported to me that she found 10 in her closet, all of them black, when she was cleaning it up.  And although she wasn't particularly organized, I knew that even if she realized she had 9 at home, she would not have passed up that special one – a 10th – on her trip through Filenes Basement.  Knowing this I went looking for a photo of her in one of those classic blacks as I was preparing for this post, and found her instead in beige.  Taken about the same time as her confession, we're now numbering 11, clearly proving her obsession. 

Marlene and Paul, circa 1999

Marlene and Paul, circa 1999

We've been preparing for Juliet's wedding lately and Mum's been on my mind.  She would have adored James and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend festivities.  I like to think she orchestrated their perfection from her distance – since they were, and she would have.

My next design, forthcoming, is a turtleneck, for M.

Update – M's Favorite published 11/3/2015.

Bonanza redux

The people have spoken or rather, have not in response my Bonanza, published recently with very little fanfare. 

And I listen.  So in an attempt to amp up her versatility, you'll find Bonanza now reconfigured her glorious fringed collar, detached.

Ever the optimist, I'm glad for the required changes that have made this piece better than before.  Fringe on both sides of the moss stitch cowl doubles the fun, and with it separated you can wear it with other outfits too!  It's definitely a win-win.  And the resulting crew neck of the pullover? loving that so, a win-win-win, right?  Yup, I'd say so.

Linda

I'm thrilled to announce the recent publication of Linda, my scarf design included among so many other lovelies, in Scarves, etc 4, a pattern collection by Quince&Co.

I named this piece after a dear cousin, who perhaps sent me luck in my submission to Quince's annual scarf call last fall.  It happened to coincide with some explorations I was doing at the time on knitted trims having just rediscovered Nicky Epstein's book Knitting on the Edge.  Lots of interesting stuff there but it was the fringe that caught my eye.  

I had given Marlene a scarf some years before with horizontal fringe.  I liked the twist on the classic – you didn't need to get to its ends to see it and when she wrapped it twice around her neck the fringe was everywhere – very fun!  So is Linda, I think, and I'm certainly grateful that Quince did too :). 

Mitt research

My pal Bev and I often talk about our creative work when we're together, and as we do the similarities in our processes have become apparent.  She's a writer (here's her blog). 

I decided to set a few weeks aside in January to focus on fingerless mitts.  They'd be easy, I thought, allowing me time to rest a bit before taking on a next, more strenuous, cardigan design.  I started by studying patterns from other designers to understand mitt fit and measurements, then set out on my own.  A 1960s knitting dictionary I rediscovered on the shelf yielded several fresh abbreviated lace patterns (what a find!) that fit well into the condensed mitt format. I was right, the mitts have been quick to knit (and fun).  Their design, however, has come with unique discipline, that made me think of Bev's blog posts and her challenge of creating a complete story with fewer words in a limited space – that she does so well.

I'll be posting an ebook with 4 patterns in a week or so, named for my girl – Juliet's Lacy Mitt Series – because she clamors for them, and now so do I.  We'll share.

Western obsession

My girlfriends can tell you all about my fascination with cowboys.  We've had more than a few laughs about it over the years :).  So in keeping with my patterns' personal naming theme, I dub this, my latest knitting design (with cowboy fringe!) – Bonanza.

Dad and I used to watch this 1960's tv series on Sunday nights, before (or after?) Ed Sullivan.  Maybe this is where my western obsession began.  Is it an accident I married a Hoss?  hee hee, a topic for my therapist..

Creating the fringe, a new-to-me technique, turned out to be very fun and easy.  Fabulous testers are working now to proof the numbers and text of my pattern, that I plan to launch mid-January.  It will be my first for 2015 – a nice start for the brand new year.  Yee-ha!

Crosshatch

Super cute, no?  (The sweater too.)  Juliet and I had a fun day yesterday over breakfast, picture-taking, then lunch!  I got to spend lots of quality time with my favorite girl – who, by the way, is recently engaged to the wonderful James!  Smiles all around.

Recalling art school days, and drawing 101, Crosshatch seemed a fitting name for this piece with its variegated yarn criss-crossing vertical ribs.  Testers are finishing up as I prepare to launch this pattern over the weekend.  I'll link from here when I do, but I just couldn't resist the early posting.  I get so excited.

Estelle's Envy

Lillian Hildegarde, my great aunt, was born in 1898 – the oldest daughter in my grandmother's family.  I knew she had polio as a child, that she had walked with a cane since then.

I knew she was the keeper of our family tree.  I spent one preteen summer with our royal typewriter re-keying her name lists onto new clean sheets.  I still have these pages.  I'm their keeper now.

Unlike most young women of her day she went to college. Single, independent, she lived alone in an apartment on Park Drive. Through family albums I learned more about her work at MIT.  She was a librarian. I saw her smiling back from photographs taken at her retirement party.

But it wasn't until much later that I discovered she was a writer – a writer of steamy novels never published, about life, love, romance, and heartbreak. She wrote her chapters in Scribble-in Books – little blank hardbound journals.  I have the one with pages numbered from 626 to 778.  I wish had more more.

As sweater tribute to my novelist, I plucked the fitting family-inspired name of my latest design from one of her characters – a young woman named Estelle.  

Introducing Estelle's Envy – a slim pullover with alpaca collar abundance. Pattern writing and testing are underway – EPD (estimated publish date) 9/15/2014.

Innamorata

I'm having a great summer of knitting. Let's Dance and Beach Weekend are published and my most recent, Innamorata, is nicely underway.  

This design is named for a Dean Martin song circa 1955 (almost before my time).  Marlene was a fan and if I close my eyes I can hear it playing from the stereo in our living room. 

Innamorata, Italian for "in love" and I've also seen translations as "sweetheart" and "soul mate" – all of which I find fitting for this simple, delicate, and thoroughly romantic summer tee.

I hope you'll agree.  

Goings on

Let's Dance was published on June 23rd – hooray! – after another delightful experience with a great group of test knitters (thank you!). 

This design is a first for me – top-down – and mastering that turned out to be a great experience too.  So much so that currently in test is Beach Weekend (below), that I spun off from this one.

Beach Weekend , named for a favorite pastime and because it's where much of its knitting happened, reused the Tilting Blocks lace, but this time I placed it on the sleeves, that are elbow length. The neckline is deeper, and the bodice is shaped instead of a-line.  My hoped-for publish date is July 21st and so far so good.  Test knitters seem to be having fun.  Me too :).   

Busy days at the Deb Hoss Knits enterprise :).

New Ravelry Group

Regretful blog silence for the past few weeks as I've turned my writing attention to posting in my newly formed ravelry group of same name – Deb Hoss Knits (banner above).  I think you have to be signed on to Ravelry to participate.  If you are, you'll find it here.  It's been thrilling to have fellow knitters join me.  I'm very grateful.  Some have offered to test knit upcoming designs too, prior to release – another exciting venture resulting from my new found community.

My latest design, May Replay, is an updated version of May, an earlier piece, this time worked in the round, with slightly longer sleeves, and a variation in cables. 4 gracious knitters are currently testing and giving welcomed feedback along their way.  I'm aiming for a May 15 launch, though putting NO stress on my testers.  I left my day job a few years ago to get away from that kind of stress and just won't allow it to resurface in my favorite pastime :).

Here's a peek at May Replay modeled by the fabulous Juliet.

Both sweet, no?

Oh Johnny Lee

One of the many things I like about my knitting enterprise (the design work, website, and blog) is how its "branding" evolves.  Over the past 3 years I've changed my website format a few times, which has spawned like changes to my business cards, the pattern font and layout, etc., and each time I'm tempted to go back and change all of my prior patterns (38 published at this writing) to match the new look – but I resist.  (Truthfully it's an ongoing internal dialog.  I can be that kind of perfectionist.)  Such would be crazy work, I tell myself, and would get in the way of my knitting. 

The latest in this evolution involves the naming of my designs.  Up until now I've used my family tree as source, beginning with my mum – Marlene.  By now I'm running out of family names, and since I expect to never stop this work :), I need another plan.

I read recently a blog post by knitwear designer Bristol Ivy (Where the Red-Winged Blackbird Flies) where she recites a Shaker spiritual, "by turning, turning, we come 'round right."  She's a wonderful writer and I found this passage particularly poetic.  I've thought of it a lot since and as often happens, I notice, when timing is right ideas come together.  From this I've decided to name my pieces lyrically while keeping their basis in my history and family story.  It feels right, and consistent, hopefully opening up a whole world of naming possibilities – though currently I'm thinking only of the next.

Oh Johnny Lee – mum's first crush, as written in her teenage diary that I found and secretly read as a scoundrel child, then broadcast to the family, as we laughed and laughed. Mum laughed too, though I never saw that diary again.  I don't think she'd mind me using the memory.

Launch of Oh Johnny Lee forthcoming.

When one thought leads to another

I regret blog silence for the past several weeks, January's been a busy knitting month.  Submissions to hoped for publications, and my routine monthly self-published piece have taken all attention.  And as I await word about the former, for now a word about the latter – Emily, my January offering.

Dear Emily has certainly taken many forms along the way.  The fact of her being a vest is the only vestige (smile) of her original self.  She started as an idea for garter stitch, in the manner of Mary and Elsie.  I am smitten with the silent shaping that this stitch allows. I made garter swatches in Quince's owl, then chickadee, and finally settled on lark as my desired thickness for this chilly weather piece.  Then, with deadlines looming, she took a back seat to submission planning that had me scouring my idea stash.  By the time I returned to her, rib stitches had seduced me and she was transformed. I do like when this happens, when one thought leads to another. My husband Peter re-collages his artwork, my writer pal Bev erases, cuts and pastes, and I reknit. Emily got shorter, a bit slimmer, and shaping stitches were reconsidered.  And although I thought about making her work as she was, I knew I was on the right track when the decision to start over with new-found knowledge was a relief rather than a burden.

I'm wrapping up pattern writing now, checking my math, and will be taking pictures over the weekend.  (Thank you Pete for this preview!)  With luck my January offering will launch by February 3rd.  Close enough :).

Corinne

Yesterday I launched this lovely, leafy, wrap – spawned unexpectedly from some swatching experiments and sparked further by Shibui Knits rich merino alpaca wool.  I'll definitely use that again.

I named this piece for my first friend, Corinne, who was lovely too.  You'll find the pattern here.

Rockin' a moto sweater named Elsie

Well, maybe I'm not rockin', but if you ask me, Elsie the sweater sure does!

I finally got this moto design out of my head and onto my needles.  The resulting knit is quick – aran weight wool, the fabric dense and weighty – all garter stitch, and the zippers substantial and prominent – adding a bit of sparkle.  Yum.

Pattern writing is wrapping up now and I plan to launch tomorrow.  Just couldn't resist posting this peek – I'm loving this moto!

30 Days of Indy Project

The 30 Days of Indy Project has been organized by In The Loop yarn shop of Plainville Mass to celebrate independent knitwear designers.  On each of the 30 days of November, proprietor Cheryl blogs about a selected designer – and happily, my day is tomorrow, November 16th.

To coincide with the event, on my day, I'll offer my Alice pattern for sale through ravelry at 50% off its regular price (use discount code 30dayproject).  I'm pleased to participate, and hope you'll visit!

A little hug

Named for my best pal's mum, I launched Charlotte yesterday – a sweet and simple wrap, perfect for tv knitting and, once done, perhaps wearing on romantic evenings. I can imagine that.

It's a little hug.  The same little hug I'm sending to my pal and her family, on their first holiday season without her.

Olive is purple

or technically crocus – #115 of Quince's color wheel.

Olive Clough begot Olive Ziegler – aunt and cousin of my grandmother Mildred, who later married Harold – brother of Olive Welch.  Olive must have been a popular name back then. 

Olive is also a double-breasted cardigan in chunky wool, worn so well by Juliet.

You'll find my Olive pattern for sale on ravelry, craftsy, also linked from my website, here.