Category Archives: Current Projects

Archer Mitts

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

If you get my newsletter, you received a link for the Archer Mitts last week.

If not, here’s your link now!

They’re fun mitts, and — unusually for a free pattern — this involves techniques that are a bit beyond basic.

Provisional cast on? ICord Bind Off? Short Rows? Grafting? Creating a Thumb Gusset?

These are all techniques that you can try out with this simple pattern. Note that I said SIMPLE, which is not the same thing as EASY!

IMG_0810I’ve fallen in love with mitts; they’re not just fun to knit, they’re warm and allow full movement for your fingers. These are worked up in ModeLuxe, but to be honest you can use any worsted weight yarn (although ModeLuxe IS killer soft and delicious to knit up…)

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been dyeing up HUGE amounts of yarn, it’s selling like crazy, and I have more yarn waiting for me at home to dye up when I get back.

IMG_2406Where am I? I’m in Cleveland, preparing to tape a few segments of Knitting Daily TV tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing old friends!

I’m excited, but this evening is devoted to sitting still so my nail polish can dry, and figuring new ways to suck in my chins.

And now, MORE pictures of the lovely Archer Mitts (I can see Daryl wearing these during one of these Georgia snowstorms, right?)

The Rush, The Crash

Perhaps starting a new yarn company immediately before a busy holiday season wasn’t the brightest of ideas, but it wasn’t a bad one, either!

We were crazy busy, we sold out; more yarn arrived, I dyed it, now it is in the store.

That one simple sentence contains so much joy, fear, hope and hard work. It seems it should be a full paragraph, but one sentence will do!

$5.50 Flat Rate US Shipping / $15.50 Flat Rate Int’l Shipping

We’ve heard from some of you that shipping costs can be a deterrent, and we really want to get our beautiful yarn into your hot little hands, so we’re offering flat rate shipping on all orders!  No matter how much you order, you’ll only pay $5.50 for a US Domestic package, $15.50 for an International package of our fine yarns!

Etsy Shop

We’re trying new stuff, hopefully in a seamless way which will not cause undue stress for our customers!  Up to now we’ve had a gallery setup on our WordPress page allowing folks to buy our yarn directly from the ModeKnit Yarn website. I’m trying something new with the ModeSock yarn – an Etsy shop!

If you click on any of the ModeSock links on this site, they will take you to our Etsy shop where you can purchase our sock yarn using their shopping cart system.  The reason is to create a better way to manage our inventory and reach a broader audience – stay tuned, we’ll see if this works well, or if it’s not as helpful as I hope!  I’d love to hear your feedback on the ease of using the Etsy storefront vs. the Paypal shopping cart we’ve been using on our site!

The Biz

Kathleen and I are feeling very good about the colors, our Marketing Department (Kathleen) has been meeting with the Purchasing and Shipping departments (Kathleen, Kathleen) to devise advertising strategies that will work for us.  While Research & Development (Annie) has been coming up with some AMAZING ideas for cool colorways that our Finance Department (Kathleen) and Accounting (Annie) hope will sell out like crazy!  All of this is keeping the Production Department (Annie) on their toes.

Designer Life

…meanwhile, back in design land, I’m sending off some finished garments to magazines this week, working up some new designs for the book, and have ideas for several projects using ModeKnit Yarn which I hope will send it spinning off of the shelves and into mailboxes across the US (and THE WORLD! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!)

MORE YARN!

We’re ordered, and we’re currently awaiting, MANY more kilos of beautiful undyed ModeSock and ModeLuxe for dyeing and loving!

If all goes well, it should be here mid-next week, and be up and for sale in our store by next weekend! Our first order of business; create the ModeLuxe in the colors of the Slippy Cowl so we can fulfill the wishes of the folks who want to make that same item!

Second order of business; knit a few samples in other colors so folks can easily envision different color combinations!

This downtime is perfect for upgrading the website (now each different yarn will be accessible through drop down menus under “ModeKnit Yarn” – try it!) and soon we’ll have different selectable menus for different colorways.

Right now we only show images of yarns that are immediately available, but we have to think of ways to show all the colors AND whether they’re available in an easy to update way.

I’m using a WordPress plug in called “Catablog” – which has much more power than I’m currently using – so the time is right to figure out how to use all that extra database goodness!

AND it’s a perfect time to get some projects for other books / magazines finished, and to begin sourcing yarn for my boleros & shrugs book! If you know of an indy yarn that you really like, I’m trying to use as many indy dyers in the book, and I’m always on the lookout for great new yarn sources!

IMG_0482I’m hopeful that all of you had a MAGNIFICENT holiday, and will continue on through next week (and BEYOND!) to celebrate the light and warmth that we can create in our own lives when it’s so dark outside!

And in that spirit, I’d love to give you a wonderful Crescent Cookie recipe, gf_crescent_cookies.

I’ve made this gluten free, but it’s incredibly easy to just trade out the GF Baking mix for the flour of your choice!

I’m afraid it’s very nut heavy, but has no eggs! It is rich (buttery) but has little sugar.

This is the cookie that always makes me think it’s Christmas!

Bum-bum-bummble Bee!

bumble bee jasper modesockIf you’re of a certain age and grew up on the East coast, then you know the Bumble Bee Tuna song.

I, myself, grew up in the Midwest (well, Ohio) and didn’t learn the song until I moved to NY in 1982 and friends would sing it whenever we made tuna sandwiches. Yes, I have always hung out with the wildest folk.

The song is IN MY HEAD like a – well, like a bumble bee – and it’s because I just worked up THIS colorway:

I like the golden yellow, the greenish overtone and the unexpected black that shoots through it.

We’re naming it BUMBLEBEE JASPER (which is really a thing) and it’s the newest color in our growing panoply of hues!

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 1.56.57 PMWhen I work up the colors I go one of three ways:

Semi Solid – A color which is pretty much just one hue in various degrees of saturation, lightness and darkness.

Color Blend – Two hues which are blended after the initial dyeing process, but to such an extent that it’s hard to tell where one color begins and the other ends.

Color Block – Three or more hues which are worked together after the initial dyeing process to produce a choppy, blocky color.

Sometimes it’s hard to determine if a color is a blend or a block, but Bumblebee Jasper is definitely a Color Block.

And now it’s up for sale in our store!  But it won’t be there long if it’s like our other colorways!

BUTTON FRUSTRATION

I apologize to anyone who’s tried to add one of our yarns to the cart and got a bad response. The truth is, the code for the buttons is crazy sensitive (and I’ve discovered that when used together with a lightbox plug in I really like it’s easy to screw it up)

From this point on I’ll be testing every button on a regular basis, but please let me know if you run into any problems ordering from our Modeknit Yarn online shop!

KEEPING UP WITH MODEKNIT YARN

Live Sales: We’re putting together a list of fiber shows we’re hoping to visit in 2014 with our yarns, if you know of one we should consider, please let us know!

If you want to stay up to date on our plans for selling our yarn live (at shows or in yarn shops) sign up for my e-newsletter for the latest news about that!

If you want to hear about our newest colors or latest batch of fresh yarns ready for purchase, follow me on Twitter or like our Facebook page and watch for the messages which start, “COLOR UP!” – that means something really good has just come out of the dyepot and it’s ready to purchase!

If you’re interested in our color inspirations, we have a board at Pinterest where colors that have passed the “can we actually DYE something that looks like this?” test are kept. All colors there may not be yarns yet, but we can always hope!

Preparing For Our First Dye Day

My basement dye 'studio'

My basement dye ‘studio’

After testing many colors and working hard to achieve a certain uniformity in color and depth, it’s time to move over to a large dye area for a day of FULL SKEIN dyeing!

My basement work area is pretty nice, it has all that we need (water, electric, microwave, a bit of space & a heater – very important in Minnesota in the Winter)

Plus it’s where my office is (in a separate room with a cat/dog/child proof locking door!)

The Yarn ARRIVES!

The Yarn ARRIVES!

Yarn arrived just before Thanksgiving, and it’s being skeined up as I write (well, I had to stop rolling skeins to blog, but I’ll begin twirling that swift as soon as I’ve posted this!)

As I’ve worked up colors I knit them because, to my mind, I can’t really tell what a color’s going to do until I see it knit up. Yarn can look remarkable on the skein, but then go a bit dead when knitted if there isn’t the right kind of depth.

I tend to be annoyingly organized so I’ve developed a database to keep track of how much dye I’m using for each swatch and how I’m working it into the yarn. That way when I wander onto a perfect combination, I’m be able to recreate it. Well, that’s the idea.

I’ve been working on dyeing some full sized skeins with mixed results. Some are tremendous, and some have fallen a bit flat (increasing dye amounts appropriately and ‘reading’ yarns in the dyepot to get an idea of their final colors are skills I am developing…)

I really want to be able to achieve a uniformity so we can market our colors as colorways, not just as ‘one-offs.’ Here are a few of my successes – I’m happy with the distribution of the colors and the depth.

I need to take some of the sample yarns to work into design samples so we can create some nice kits, that’s my job this afternoon while I’m waiting at the dentist office (and afterward, when I know I’ll be out of commission for the evening!)

Wednesday Kathleen returns from a week visiting family in Florida, it will be great to see her again! We’ll be packing everything up and heading off to a dye studio for a day of dyeing on Thursday. I’m thinking we’ll do red tones in the morning, blue/green tones in the afternoon, and we’ll see how that pans out! I can’t lie, I’m very nervous.

Even though I’ve had my own business for 12+ years, it’s been a sole proprietorship so I didn’t have to worry about vendors, etc. Because this is a larger undertaking, we’ve moved on to Quick Books so we’ll be investigating the ins and outs of that for keeping track of our expenses, inventory and (hopefully) profits.

So while I wait for my visit to the dentist today, I’ll try inputting our receipts for yarn, dye and supply purchases. I know how to make a day fun, don’t I?

New Horizons

First Batch of Colors

First Batch of Colors

I’ve been insanely excited for the past month(s) because I’m embarking on a new endeavor with a partner, and I can’t hold it in any longer!

IMG_0203We’re starting an independent yarn dyeing business!

I know, us and 450 other folks this week…

Why? As I have come to love so many independently produced yarns (and their dyers) I felt like there were holes in the market I’d like to try to fill – colors I have been searching for, but haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

And I love yarn, and color, and I love dyeing things.

And, most important, I’m continuously looking for ways to stay at home more, yet keep our household in the black.

Dyeing was my favorite part of grad school (hours over a hot dyevat, mmmm) Recently while working on some preliminary colors for ModeKnit Yarns I found myself going to sleep with the smell of dye on my hands and a big smile on my face.

IMG_0188Rubber gloves will help diminish the former,
real life will probably take care of the latter;
but a girl can dream!

My partner is Kathleen Pascuzzi, a phenomenal person who has business expertise that I lack. We’re in the process of doing all of the legal stuff, being adult about this, but our goal is to have some skeins available for purchase by the end of the year. We intend to take it slow, with a ‘soft start’, and move on from there.

IMG_0126We’re aiming for an initial palette of 10 colorways, grouped in 5 sets of 2 and available as kits for my Morse Cowl (a yet unreleased pattern, but you’ll love it, trust me!) 

Our inspiration for our colors are gemstones and semi precious minerals. Kathleen was the manager of a retail jewelry store for 17 years (I told you she had business savvy) and her great eye is immensely helpful!

I’ll still be designing – probably more than I currently am – but I’m hopeful that along with creating patterns that sell yarn for other companies, now I’ll be creating some patterns that will sell some of OUR fine yarn!

This end of the business is new to me, so I’ll be blogging about our journey in the coming weeks as we get our initial orders ready and begin our marketing – stay tuned!

Colors, Round 2

Colors, Round 2

Book Giveaway

The winner of the book, Crochet At Play, is ShellyD.  She’s been notified, and she’ll be receiving the book from the publisher.  Thanks so much for playing along!

Crochet At Play! Book Giveaway!

I have a great book giveaway, just in time to work up some fun items for your favorite Hannukah child (or any kind of holiday child!) Or for any kid for any reason!

The book is crochet_at_playCrochet At Play by Kat Goldin.

Her stated goal in writing the book was to “keep the fun-factor at the forefront of my mind.”

She strives to make the items in the book fun to make, fun to wear and fun to see.

I think for the most part she’s succeeded quite well, there are many items I would have loved to have worked up for my own kids when they were smaller!

Among my favorite pieces in the book are the whimsical ‘useful’ items, the sorts of thing that can be worn every day, but with a cute little twist.

I LOVE the Hedgehog Mittens – so adorable that a child might actually keep an eye on them and not lose one! They’re clever, simple, and absolutely delightful!

hedgehog_mittens

mermaidAnother delicious item is the Mermaid, which is so silly but so fun that I’m afraid I’ll be making them for new babies in my life for years to come!

I especially love the concerned look on the baby’s face in the picture, “Hello… I believe the tide is coming in!”

Kids grow up way too fast. This book will help a parent, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend enjoy many moments of magic in their young lives.

The how-to crochet section is clear, the instructions are well laid out and the models are absolutely adorable.

The projects run from rather easy to slightly challenging, I didn’t see anything that a committed and passionate new crocheter couldn’t tackle (some with a bit more effort than others!)

Another lovely piece is the Leafy Cape.  I can easily see someone working this up for a new baby, it could easily double as a favorite blanket until the child is old enough to run around the house in it!

leafy_capeSo are you enchanted?

Would you like a copy of Crochet At Play?

Simply leave a comment below telling me the MOST FUN ITEM you ever crocheted or knit. It doesn’t have to have been for a child, just something that was a blast to work up, something you thoroughly enjoyed!

Double Vision

I’ve had a lot of press lately with many items showing up in various magazines and books, which is always terrific!

I wanted to mention two sweaters I’ve recently done which have more than a passing resemblance!

2018.Dreamcatcher-Cardigan

Dream Catcher, Interweave Knits Winter 2013

My Dream Catcher Cardigan in the Winter 2013 Interweave Knits is getting a lot of attention – it’s a really fun knit, and it’s worked up in a chunky yarn (Brown Sheep Shepherd Shades) and it looks a lot like my Rose Window cardigan I’m currently tech editing and test knitting for release next year in my Stained Glass Knits collection.

Rose Window

Rose Window

Rose Window was actually the original inspiration for Dreamcatcher, but aside from a similar center back motif, the differences in the garments are greater than their similarities.

The shaping is different (Rose Window uses short row shaping to create an oval body) and the sleeves are worked differently (Dreamcatcher is straight garter, Rose Window sleeves are mitered)

But the largest difference is the yarn choice – Bulky for one sweater, worsted for the other, with all of the associated pattern writing differences.

I don’t really think of these as the same sweater, but as the same shape used in two different sweaters – rather like two Lopi sweaters with similar yokes, but which are entirely different garments.

I wanted to mention this here because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m trying to slip anything by the knitting world! These are similar styles, but very different garments! This is something a lot of designers struggle with, I know I do! We come up with a unique shape that we love, we want to see it worked up in many different ways, but we want to be original, too!

The basis for these designs has become so much a part of my ‘design language’ that I will probably use it again. Maybe not in the near future, though!

Back, Resting

What an amazing 5 days at Interweave Knitting Lab!

I do love this show – I’ve been at every one so far, and I always find the students intelligent, involved and eager to learn! I’ve learned to bring extra material for each of my IK classes because the chances are that I’ll need it!

Six classes over 4 days is actually rather nice, better than the three classes in one day that I’ve done in the past.  I’ve learned the best thing to do is be honest about my movement issues, ask for help when I need it, and get my EXERCISE IN EVERY DAY!

My friend, Adria, came and helped me carry items to and from my classes. This doesn’t sound like a bit deal, but for me the hardest part of teaching is getting the materials to and from the venue and lugging them to and from the classrooms each day. I get worn out by weight-bearing exercise, but I find a nice amount of pain relief in bicycling and swimming.

So this weekend I made sure I got at least 5 miles in on the exercise bike in the Marriott gym each day, I slept at LEAST 8 hours a night (10 hours on the night of my hardest teaching day) and ate well all weekend (very few restaurant meals, a good breakfast each day and smaller meals in my room)  It seemed to work well, I was as energetic in my last class as I was in my first, and I LOVED every one of my students!

So today I’m putting out any fires that came up while I was gone, answering emails and replying to queries, and tomorrow I’ll dive back into the world of ModeKnit with a rather large announcement!

STAY TUNED!

IMG_0126

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 11.14.20 AM

I’ve Waited 10 Years For This!

I have a tremendous announcement, but first, a bit of housekeeping…

The winner of Kristen Omdahl’s book is Stella with the following comment:

I Love Ribbing

I Love Ribbing

Thanks everyone – I love hearing what each of you treasure from your own personal knitting tool boxes! It’s helpful to me, and interesting for everyone!

And now to my BIG NEWS!!

Confessions Of A Knitting Heretic Has Sold 100,000 Printed Copies!

And how am I celebrating this momentous occasion?

Announcing the KINDLE version of Confessions!

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 11.14.20 AM

I wrote the book in the early 2000′s, when I got back into knitting and realized that there were very few volumes that even discussed Combination Knitting, and NONE that championed it as a valid, respectable, legitimate way to knit.  It seems, from the research I’d done, that beginning around the 1920′s a ‘standard’ way of knitting – Western Style – slowly became accepted as the right way, and then the ONLY way sanctioned by the knitting Powers That Be.

The internet has had a LOT to do with folks realizing that there are many ways to create a knit and a purl stitch, and these will differ from person to person. Just like many things in life that we hold precious.

As a world we are coming to understand that there is no ONE way to pray, love, or eat (hey, that sounds like a book!) or KNIT! Folks who thought they’d never accept two men or two women in love now proudly embrace family members who are ‘out.’

As loud as the narrow minded folks who hate those who pray differently than they do may sound, I can see the world opening up. I can feel people being more accepting of those who are different.

Unfortunately, the last gasp of the narrow minded, the “throw the gun phase” I think of it, when they’ve run out of bullets, is never pleasant. We’re going through that right now in some quarters.

But in knitting, it’s been a pretty smooth transition from a general non-acceptance of different ways of knitting in the 1980′s (when I began knitting and designing) to the current Smörgåsbord of knit styles; and it’s a beautiful thing!

If I’ve had any part in that, I’m very proud.

When I wrote my book I shopped it to several publishers and received some of the loveliest rejection letters anyone’s ever received. “It’s a great book, but we think no one would want to buy it…”

After pondering things for a while, and after the death of my brother (a timely reminder that – well – why in the world was I waiting for an authoritarian sanction of my book on unorthodox knitting?) I decided to open up my Quark Express and create my own book. I read some books on self publishing (thank you, Fern Reiss) and got to work.

That was almost 10 years ago. My first order from Unicorn Books for 7,000 copies came just before I headed to Texas to be with my mother before she passed, and telling her about that order will always be a very happy memory. I would have been thrilled if the book sold 10,000 total. I never dreamed it would be 100,000.

But, toting up all of my print receipts (I keep a tally on them in my database) I realized that this October I would hit this milestone. So I prepared.

I’ve been working on this for several months. Converting a book to a kindle (.mobi) file is not as easy as I thought it would be.  I tried it back in 2012 with Knitting Millinery, and I had to give up because the eBook looked like – well – crap.

Making a pdf file is much easier, but it doesn’t read as well. I’ve grown to love the Kindle app on my iPad, the experience of reading a book using kindle is much more satisfying than just reading a pdf, and I wanted that richness of experience for my own books. For better or for worse, Amazon is the biggest game in town. To ignore it would be foolish.

So I dedicated myself to learning how to translate my 2003 Quark file to an InDesign file (I taught myself that trick while laying out History on Two Needles, thanks to Lynda.com and David Blatner!) and then I went one step further to translate the InDesign to a .mobi file (once again, thanks to Lynda.com and, this time, Anne-Marie Concepcion)

It’s been hard, I won’t lie. I’m good at this computer-graphic-html stuff (not an expert, but I get by) and there were times when working through this made my brain hurt. A lot. But once I was in, I figured I should barrel through a few titles (the hard won knowledge of cracking open OBPS files and adding <guide> tags won’t stay in my head forever!)

So in addition to offering Confessions Of A Knitting Heretic as a Kindle book, I’m also thrilled to offer Knitting Millinery in Kindle format. Huzzah!

Click on the image to order the eBook!

Click on the image to order the eBook!

The price is great, you can’t go wrong! Click on the above images to order either – and enjoy!

If you don’t have a kindle, like me, you can download kindle apps to use on your mobile device or computer – I think you’ll really like the ease of reading a kindle book!

The paper version is also still available, and as of today I’ll be beating the Amazon list price and offering it for $16.00.

Look for more of my books to be offered in kindle format! Knit With Courage will be next, and the big kahuna will be History On Two Needles. THAT will be a bear!

But I did the original layout, so I think I can fight through this.

Stick with me, sister and fellow heretics!

Downton Abbey In Process

Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner of Kristin Omdahl’s book, Knitting Outside The Swatch.

Today, though, I thought I’d share some in-process images from my recent pieces in Downton Abbey Knits.  It was a BLAST to work on that issue of Piecework – I adore historic clothing, I’m a fan of Downton Abbey, and – well – we all know that knitting is my life.

Louet Yarn for several projects

Louet Yarn for several projects

So here are some of the in-process pics that I took.  I take a lot of these as I work through designs, but I don’t often publish them. I can’t let them loose before the issue I’m working on is released, and often by the time a magazine is out I’m onto other stuff and going back and revisiting the design process is low on my priority list.

But today I’m celebrating the release of some cool stuff (more about that tomorrow…) by sharing images of past work – enjoy!

Wedding Kimono & Hat

Wedding Kimono & Hat

Wedding Kimono Closeup

Wedding Kimono Closeup

 

Oval Garden Hat

Oval Garden Hat

Cricket Sweater

Cricket Sweater

PU Sts for Cricket Sweater Armhole

Picking Up stitches for Cricket Sweater Armhole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourning Blouse

Mourning Blouse

Footman's Vest

Footman’s Vest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, the obligatory pic of one of my kids wearing a design!

I’m lucky to have two great fit models living in the same house!

Footman's Vest

Footman’s Vest on Max

Cricket Sweater on Max

Cricket Sweater on Max

 

 
 

 

And can I take this opportunity to remind you to tweet #CaribouKnits – you still have a few more days to add some inches to a scarf for a person fighting Breast Cancer!