Category Archives: Designing

Feeble is a State of Mind

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.23.02 PMYesterday ModeKnit Yarn was at the Fall Fiber Fest, and we had an exceptional time!

MKY's new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

MKY’s new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

Sonic Green Gradient Set

Sonic Green Gradient Set

This is a lovely MN-centric fiber show in Hopkins, at the Eisenhower Center, and I just love it! We visited last year as customers (and came away with some beautiful yarn and books!) but this year we applied and were accepted as vendors, YAY!

And I was exhausted. Worn out, hurting, totally wrung out. But I tried to own it, I accepted that it was because I’d spent two long days in the dye room, and worked hard not to see my physical weakness as an indication on my worth.

Sometimes it takes a few days to bring my energy levels back to normal. Mentally, this admission is great progress for me.

Kathleen and I have centered this year of our business on developing our Fiber Show “chops”.  Indy Yarn Dyers have a few options to grow their business; some choose to focus on wholesale to yarn shops, some choose to focus on online sales, some do clubs and some do fiber shows.

In truth, just about everyone does a combination of these, and we’re no exception.

kathleen_annie_station_wagonBut I’d be lying if I said that Kathleen and I don’t enjoy the Yarn Festivals a bit more than the other segments of our business. I think the reason is twofold: it allows us to personally interact with our customers, which both of us love SO much! And it allows Kathleen and I to spend time together, and at the heart of our business is the fact that we ARE good friends. So we love the festivals! And we love a road trip!

This was a local show, which meant that Kathleen leapt out of bed before 4am, packed up her truck, then zoomed over to my house to pick me up and we were over to the venue by a bit after seven am. Where she got the energy, I don’t know! I was dragging my sorry tail all day! Thank heaven lovely Karen Ryan showed up and helped us set up our booth, she was an angel!

2015-11-09 15.36.58The two days leading up to the festival I’d been dying a HUGE amount of yarn (40+ skeins a day) so I understand my exhaustion, but I still felt a trifle guilty sitting in the booth most of the time (perhaps the guilt was because I cadged the chair from the knitting guild? Don’t tell them…)

I was given pain pills when I first was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but I’ve really struggled NOT to take them. As a matter of fact, I still have the same bottle I was given several years ago (probably time to get that refilled) because I generally only take them on high pain days – which tend to be Festival days – like yesterday! And allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the relief for a few hours.

Because the weather’s been so mild this November, I’ve been able to ride my bike a nice amount each day, and that’s really helped with my pain. When I think of where I was a year ago (still fighting shingles) I feel like the luckiest person alive!

BRAHMIN MOTH SHAWL

Brahmin Moth

Brahmin Moth

I just released a new pattern, one that I’m REALLY excited about! I love working garter mitered squares, so when I was inspired by the beautiful Brahmin (or “Owl”) Moth, I thought mitering was the way to go!

The design has had three major iterations, there’s been a LOT of knitting to get to the final version of this shawl.  I had samples knit in two additional colorways, the final garment should take approx 100g of each of three colors in fingering weight yarn. Of course, I feel our ModeWerk Fingering is the most beautiful yarn you could use!

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

The pattern’s been tech edited, and it’s up for sale at Ravelry and over at ModeKnit Yarn. One caveat to mention is that the final “V” shape that joins the two ‘wings’ is slightly different in the final pattern than it appears in two of the samples.*

Over at ModeKnit Yarn we have a kit ready for you to order, just let us know what three colors you’d like to use, and well put them together for you!

(*I altered the original text so that no Color B is used in that part, which could raise the amount of Color B required over 100g)

The Things We Swatch For Love

My favorite swatch this time around.

A Weeks Work

A Weeks Work

The last few times I’ve come up against a submission deadline* I have told myself, “NEXT time, you’re going to take time to do it right – you’re going to do what you used to do, swatch and sketch and love what you’re doing!”

I’d fallen into a bad habit of only submitting one or two things (when I submitted at all) because I’ve been so overwhelmed with work at  ModeKnit Yarn, and the teaching I’ve ramped up this year.

But there’s a deadline looming for submissions on Monday, and this time I’ve taken the better part of a week to try to get it right!

Unblocked HorrorNot that I didn’t do anything else this week (I did a buttload of skeining, a lot of dyeing, some fabric knitting and a few strategy sessions to plan the growth of our biz – slow and steady – not too fast to handle!)

But I set aside dedicated time each day for just sitting and THINKING. Designing. Playing with yarn and NOT berating myself for ripping anything out.

I’m trying not to judge myself too harshly. I’m trying to take my own advice.

Bobbles & Texture!For me, the hard part about this submission deadline is that it’s for several magazines at one go, and it seems that each one wants me to submit an individual sketch ONLY to that mag (even though they’re all under the same publication umbrella.)  It’s so hard for me to figure out which sketch would speak to which description in the different “Calls for Submission.”

I’d love to find a way to let ALL of the editors see all of my stuff, so they could decide which speaks to then.

Garter Rectangular Jacket in Fall Interweave Knits

Garter Rectangular Jacket, Fall Interweave Knit.Purl Mag

Maybe I’ll just Dropbox them and give all the editors the link?

I hate the thought that Sketch 1 might be perfect for Editor A, but I send it instead to Editor B (who doesn’t find it as appealing as I’d hope…)

At any rate, I was flattered and gratified to see one of my current designs featured in one of the submission calls! It’s a garment I really loved designing and knitting up, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s the Garter Rectangular Jacket in the current Fall 2015 Interweave Knit.Purl magazine.

Tomorrow I head off for a weekend of crafting with some women friends, something I don’t do often (which I should do more!)  I’ve promised to ONLY work on non-business knitting or sewing all weekend.  Let’s see if I can stick to that!

*Magazines send out a call for submission, where they explain the stories they’re looking to create in the specific issue. They discuss color, silhouette, and also general ethereal qualities like mood, feeling and atmosphere. If I feel inspired by some of the images or text, I’ll work up a swatch (generally – but not always – I begin with a swatch)  If I like the swatch, I’ll try to figure out how to use it in a garment. Or sometimes I work exactly opposite, and start with a silhouette, a period garment or a color scheme.

Moving More, Eating – well, just about the same…

fat bike signWhen Andy (née Hannah) was a baby the Rosie O’Donnell Show was one of our favorite mommy-baby morning routines.  One year she promoted a campaign to “Move More, Eat Less” and it was a good thing for a lot of moms like me, with new babies and brand new areas where fat had appeared.

I’ve never been thin, but I’ve been thinner.  Actually, there was one time in 1984 when I was a size 10 for about 32 minutes, but that is long gone.  Amazing, though, how many pieces of clothing one can buy in a 32 minute time period…

I’ve always fought my weight. I’ve dieted, not-dieted, starved, binged, exercised like a dervish, sat on the sofa for weeks on end (my “Gilbert Grape period”) and, although I have to admit there were differences in weight, nothing was permanent.

At this point in my life I’m not expecting to every be thin, but I’ve been striving for the past 5 years to be HEALTHY.  My benchmark is to be able to ride my bike for 7 miles a day. This seems to be the magic mileage that allows me to have good movement and reduce the Fibromyalgia pain, and it’s very doable.

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut!

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut!

If you’re someone who doesn’t ride a bike, you might think that 7 miles sounds like a lot. It’s not – really! I worked up to it. I remember when riding 2 miles to my son’s baseball game was a challenge! But it only took about 2 months of daily riding for 7 miles to feel like a walk in the park.

And, since bike riding is seven times more efficient than walking, it IS like a one-mile walk in the park!

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where biking is encouraged. Our city & state government here in St. Paul, MN, is behind directives to promote ALL kinds of physical movement. We have an excellent ‘nice ride’ bike share program, and our bike paths, share-ways and greenways are legendary! Yeah, riding in the winter can be cold, but once you’re well covered (hands & faces are the most important) then a winter ride is really VERY nice! Just watch out for that ice!

However, since starting ModeKnit Yarns with my partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, I haven’t made the time to get out and ride as much as I used to.

I get overwhelmed with the amount of physical work involved in dyeing hundreds of skeins of yarn, and I talk myself into believing I don’t have the time for cycling. Add to that my inability to get my Xolaire shots for 3 months this Summer (Damn you, Health Partners!) and there was a huge period where riding my bike was NOT as accessible as it had been before.

Spessartine Flow

But I’ve made a promise to myself that I will increase my cycling (and I’m back on the Xolaire…)

Being on my bike makes me happy (ENDORPHINS!) and it really does help decrease the amount of muscle and nerve pain that haunts me on a daily basis. It’s non weight-bearing, so I can bike without wrenching my knee

(Damn you, high school basketball!)

Now I just have to keep convincing myself that the hour-a-day I take from my busy schedule is WELL worth the time. It’s really true – when you run a business, it’s very hard to take time for YOU!

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles (based on a Tissot Painting)

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles

So it’s Submission Season, which means a lot of swatching, sketching, and a whole bunch of thinking. As much as I feel guilty when I take time from the dyeing biz (see above) I know that getting a good submission pack together is important for several reasons;

  • I need to stay visible and pertinent as a designer
  • I enjoy the income from designing (Damn you, mortgage!)
  • When I’m permitted by the magazine to use ModeKnit Yarn, it’s a great editorial benefit to our company.

Win, win, win!

But, like the cycling, I need to take time out to actually DO the knitting, swatching, etc. It’s so easy to just put my head down and work, work, work; endlessly dyeing,  skeining and updating the website. But if I don’t put in the non-dyeing time, the business ultimately suffers.

Who knew that at age 54 I would be able to learn so many lessons about using my time wisely!