Sunday, July 30, 2006

Queen Midas Syndrome

GGh Lame Yarn

Quite often when I travel and teach I'm asked by folks,

- "Does it ever get old, knitting for money? Not being able to just knit something for you?"

I answer, truthfully, that I feel like the luckiest person in the world (for many reasons) and consider it a great gift and blessing that I can earn my living doing something that I love so much.

Stephanie - the Yarn Harlot - recently wrote an excellent post about writing - how it really IS work. I can attest to that.

This blog is where I doodle, I don't spend a lot of time rewriting (or, these days, writing - other bloggers whose output is regular and steady amaze me!) In Steph's post she hit the nail on the head - writing IS work - and a lot of the work of writing doesn't happen at the computer or with a pen and paper, but in the mind, on the road, in our dreams.

I'm not a writer - Stephanie most certainly is! I'm a designer who writes a little to fill in the holes around the designs. I'd heard folks all my life talk about finding a voice, a way to express themselves - whether it was through paint, clay, words, dance or any other venue.

For most of my life I was firmly, Methodist-ly rooted in pragmatism (have I mentioned this week that I'm a Virgo?) Although I paid lip service to the idea of self-expression (I was a friggin' THEATRE major, f'crissake!) I don't think I really understood how vital it is to express ourselves without using words.

Then I discovered knitting.

For me, learning to knit wasn't quite as a child learning to talk, but it was close. I found ways to use my knitting to say things I couldn't put into words - things so ephemeral, so quicksilver, that to anchor them with nouns and verbs would be to remove their magic. I finally understood 'self expression' as more than just an arty phrase - or perhaps I finally understood what it was that I needed to express.

I knit often, and with many "odd" fibers. I try to increase my knitting vocabulary with practice; the more I knit, the more I learn, which makes me want to knit more, which allows me to say more.

For most of my knitting life it's been a one-woman show (I design and knit the items, and quite often I present them, too!) I enjoyed not needing to please anyone but myself (which, ironically, made me more pleasing to more people!) As I mention in Confessions of a Knitting Heretic, I spent a good amount of time in the "wilderness" where I knit, perhaps, a grand total of 200 stitches in a 10 year period.

When I reentered the knitting and design community I became part of a larger world which included editors, project-knitters, and yarn companies. Instead of a monologue, I found myself creating dialogues and one-act plays of knitting. At first I produced them myself, eventually moving to full-scale productions involving publishing houses and a hierarchy of editors, publicity folk, agents & distributors.

Knowing that my designs - my creativity - have a direct impact on the livelihood of others makes me swallow hard. It could be paralyzing, but I have to knit through the anxiety. Adding to that anxiety is the fact that all of these other folks have a direct impact on my own livelihood. Knowing that a knitter is a bit over their heads and 1,000 miles away is enough to keep you up at night, adding an editor pushing for that garment to be delivered yesterday at least gives you the midnight company of an upset stomach. I don't recommend it for the faint of heart.

At times I feel that I've gilded what I dearly love - but was it simply by touching it? Or have I intentionally and deliberately spun my fibers into gold? Is this within or out of my control?

Unlike Midas, I can choose what I market, I determine what I turn to gold.

I've sat with a vest in my lap for a few weeks now - when I'm not painting or dealing with paint-house upheaval - and I begin to feel the same kind of fear that second-book writers talk about after a first book is a success. Its a simple vest, but it's not working out the way I envisioned it. The yarn isn't what I anticipated, the colors a little duller than I'd hoped, and the colorwork is awkward and kludgy looking. It's almost as if the pieces involved in Romantic Knits came out of me so easily that the work involved in this vest feels more of a challenge than it normally would.

I need to remind myself that ripping and second guessing is an important part of the process. I need to be thankful that I've developed a wide, ever-stretching bag of knit tricks I can use to make this vest match my original design concept (using methods I hadn't considered before.) Or, to parphrase Woody Allen, Designing is easy, unless it's impossible. I'd love to have the luxury of doing an entire book where I knit every piece, but I'm afraid that would take a year to complete.

Everything I knit isn't gold. Gold is a hard fiber to knit. Perhaps this is where all those years knitting wire and various man-made materials come in?

Maybe I'll just knit myself something out of gold- something just for me.
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Painters Are Gone (temporarily...)

But not forgotton -

They've pretty much finished up in all the rooms but Max's, and they'll be coming back to do that room when we're able to empty it out and get it ready (right now it's the recepticle for all the furniture and books from the other rooms - lucky Max, huh?)

The living room is by FAR our favorite! Today I put up blinds (Ikea) and I'll put up curtains as soon as we get some wood screws. The air conditioner is back in and we're relatively cool - funny how easily one becomes used to the cool, conditioned, de-humidified air.

There still seems to be SO much work to do - it's overwhelming - but it has to be done. Putting back together is harder than taking apart. That's the Pottery Barn theory of house painting.

The color we used for the living room was Behr's Pumpkin Butter - it's just wonderful! It matches my Yellow Ware bowls - wahoo!
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

So Much For The Manicure!

I did some brief painting this morning (I had the brilliant brainstorm to paint around the windowsills, doorways and above the floorboards so that when the paid, professional & skilled painters painted the trim we'd have the hard part done. Then later when we go back to paint the room we won't have to do so much taping and precision work. A dirty trick on the painters, but that's why we're paying them the big bucks, eh?

So I did the "halos" around trim targets in our room and Gerry's office, then did some work, did some pattern writing and decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure at my favorite nail salon. I've experienced FOUR different owners of this nail salon, some are very chatty, some are all business - some bring in a whole new staff and some re-hire the previous staff. The new owner is one of the chatty ones, and we had a nice conversation while my nails were being painted a nice pink and my toenails turned bronze. Woohoo!

Then some more house shopping (shades, baby), some book shopping, some grocery shopping and home to my house which is turned even MORE upside down than ever furniture stacked in the living room, not one room is unaffected at this point!

A little more knitting work, then the kids were home from camp (trip to Sesame Place today) and we had a nice purchased dinner of baked chicken and broccoli. LOVE that Costco chicken! The entire family was camped in the basement for evening TV, so I took the opportunity to return to the drop-cloth draped and taped living room and I painted all of the non-trim walls a nice light pumpkin color (more butternut squashy) while listening to Bill Sheafer's book on CD. A nice evening. The cat was outside yowling over a mouse, the dog was at my feet for the entire paint job, and I finished early enough for Gerry to clean up my paint brush.

Off to shower and see if I can salvage the manicure. I'm meeting with the PR folks from Potter tomorrow and I wanted to look publicity worthy - ha!

But the living room looked good, and with any luck it will STILL look good in the morning light when it's dry. I'll cross my paint encrusted fingers.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Woodwork Glistening in the Sun

It's hard to work when the house is in upheaval - and we are in UP-friggin-HEAVE-ALL these days due to the fact that we're painting the entire interior of the house.

Oy. Every room is filled with crap from some other room, it's like all of the rooms are cheating on each other, and it's making me pretty damned SOAP.

More pain(t).

Upon awakening (sore and hurtin' from assisting in the painting of Hannah's room yesterday - we're painting the walls and the painters are doing the trim in the bedrooms and living room) I realized that Gerry hadn't moved any of his stuff out of his office and THAT was on the painting slate for today.

So the kids and I worked like maniacs to move everything into Max's bedroom (the designated holding tank for errant books, computers and tchakes) and I ripped three wooden valances off of the walls above the windows (I have hated them since we moved into this house) and flung them out into the back yard. The sharp, shooting pains in my back were worth it to hear my son admiringly say, "Mommy, you're STRONG!"

One can only hope he wasn't referring to the fact that our shower's been out of commission for 2 days while they spackle the bathroom.

Here are the colors that we're using - the woodwork is all Decorator White (and gleaming like a CloseUp Ad!)

In the midsts of the mishigas I'm working on my Folk Style projects and I think I may be making a dress for a friend who will be attending the Emmys. ... MAY

It would certainly be a thrill for me! We're discussing a very simple princess line, scoop neck long dress worked up in a ribbon yarn along the lines of this, but floor length - quel coup! (thanks Athena!)
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life is Beautiful

. . . and here are the kids to prove it . . .

This is the picture on my desktop right now - it captures both kids extraorinarily well!

Gerry's set up the latest Operating System on my mac, so have the updated V2.4 of Mail for Mac, and that makes me VERY happy! At last, my right arm is complete again...

I had been using an older version which was just this much too clunky (I couldn't do the searches I wanted, it wouldn't import correctly without a lot of massaging, etc.) but now I am good to go. Woohoo!

I'm basking - and getting my next two projects worked up for the Folks Knits book that Mags Kandis is editing (groovy!) plus a few submissions worked up. And I'm LOVING my office downstairs. On the hottest days it will be COOL down there (and it's right by the furnace, so it stays warm in the basement, too!) We're taking my old office (the breakfast nook) and turning it into a yarn room, thereby turning the dining room into - you guessed it - a dining room! Quel concept.

Yep, just about the time we get this house perky and beautiful and managable, we'll be thinking of moving.

I'm trying to put together book signings for Twist & Loop. Some are wandering by on their own, but it would be lovely to be able to put together some teaching dates in Boston in December and DC sometime this Fall. If you know of a yarn or book shop that you feel would like to have me, email me and let me know!

And now back to my regularly scheduled sleeping. It feels SO good to catch up. Of course, both days this weekend the painter guys are here so we're getting up at 7:00 anyway. And of course we're spending the day packing stuff and moving it to a new room, then unpacking other stuff and putting it away. I'm thinking of it as a dress rehearsal for moving.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

99 and 44/100% of the Projects Are IN!

Tonight I go to bed for the first time in months at a decent hour - not staying up until my eyelids droop, knitting in my sleep and quietly fretting that I'm not getting enough done. Today I sent off 3 of the last 4 items for Romantic Knits (the last item is a pair of silk stockings being knit even as I write by Carol in Oregon - Hey Carol!) and boy are my arms tired!

Remember this amazingly colorful nylon ribbon yarn that I purchased at Looped in Buffalo? (hey Jill!) I'd been meaning to use it for the only shawl in the book (I talked them down from 3 shawls to 1 and added the 2 hats) so here it is! It's a pretty simple lace repeat, and I feel it shows off the yarn nicely - this was great stuff to work with!

And, possibly my favorite piece as far as sheer simplicity goes, here is a skirt that was inspired by a quilt on my bed when I stayed in Cinncinati with Donna & her husband (hey Donna!) This was worked up by Crystal in Ann Arbor - (hey Crystal!) - who did a magnificent job using Passion, a washable silk yarn from Lambikins Hideaway (hey Christine & Sara)

This is a skirt that I could see myself making and wearing just about every day - but then I dig a knit skirt, they're not for everyone. Here's the detail at the bottom of the skirt, which is worked as chain embroidery using several colors.

Benjamin Moore in the Morning
My house is in an upraor - we have EVERYTHING upside down, dust all over the place and drop clothes and plastic wrapped around every thing that stands still for 5 minutes. The dog is very afraid. We are having the interior of the house painted (and it's more upheaval that I expected!)

We're going with neutral colors with white trim - traditional. The painters are doing ALL of the trim in the house plus the hardest rooms (wallpaper removal, plaster repair) while Gerry and I will be painting the living room and bedroom walls. The trim is the part I detest, I sort of dig painting the walls, so this works to keep costs lower than they might be and assuage some of my guilt at not doing the job myself. Uh, yeah, right, THAT lasted for about 5 minutes.

Our hope is that the investment in upgrading the house interior will mean more $$ when it actually comes time to sell the house. And if we end up not selling the house, then we've made it more livable.

One of the perks of this upheaval is that I seem to have acquired a new office in the basement! I've been without a roost for 4 days now, and it's wearing thin. Gerry and I figured that we'd temporarily move my stuff to the basement to make more room for the painters to manuver, but I may just dig in down there - space is nice!
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Breathing is Highly Overrated

I haven't written about my lung sturm und drang lately because it's just been so beside the point, but with the hot, hot, and humid weather it's been a little overwhelming.

I've noticed that when I'm away from NJ for more than a week, my breathing is much better - and when I come home it gets worse. I never had asthma until I'd moved to the NY area, and - like many in this area - I noticed a definite diminishment of lung capacity after the air was clogged with post 911 smoke and chemicals. We live about 15 miles from the WTC - whether that's been a factor in my breathing is hard to tell for sure.

At any rate, the breathing has been bad over the past few weeks - worse than usual - almost as bad as it was in the Winter. With the very, very hot weather lately it's been worse, but today it seems the skies have opened up and along with hurricane strength winds the Newark area also experienced a cold front (HOORAY!) and it's just lovely now.

We're having our house painted - getting ready for potential buyers - and those fumes are dreadful. I plan on spending a LOT of time out of the house in the next few weeks, knitting at the library and writing from the park on my mac. And, hopefully, breathing well.

We'll see how the week in Minnesota this August affects my breathing - not being able to get a deep breath just sucks.
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Monday, July 17, 2006

WHAT a week!

...and I'm still not finished...

Today I sent in 7 more items - I still have a shawl and pair of mitts to finish myself, and a pair of stockings are coming from Oregon, but those are the last 3 items left to go in the book. Huzzah.

This was a week of - well - firm education for me on how to develop my pattern writing, management and communication skills. It was also a week of taking minor disasters and turning them into (hopefully) triumphs. And it was a week to become good friends with the FedEx guy (except he never stops to chat like the UPS guy, too bad...)

This cardigan came in MUCH longer than I'd anticipated. Some of it is due to the weight and pull of the garment, but it was also knit much longer than it really needed to be (before blocking or putting on the mannequin it was measuring about 3" longer than specified in the pattern...) I know what it's like to knit for someone - you're always afraid that you'll not go far enough, that you'll chintz out on some aspect, so it's easy to go overboard. I've knitted things too long myself, and in this case it turned out to be a garment that I thought was very lovely with a longer drape. It was worked up in Anny Blatt Bouton D'or Ksar - a lovely yarn!

Unfortunately I had to rip out the bind offs at the collars, cuffs and hem to re bind them off loosely enough so that they ruffled, but I hadn't made the technique that I ended up using clear in my instructions, so I can't really fault Adina, who did a magnificent job knitting this! I added the embroidery today - it's Anny Blatt Victoria silk ribbon.

It's so funny how some knitter veer toward knitting tighter than the gauge, and others looser - all in the same ballpark, but just different ends of the spectrum. I think to remedy this in future I'll be sure to include my own swatch so the knitter has something better to work off of than just numbers. I'll also ask my knitters to work up a swatch which includes the details of the pattern (lace collar, buttonholes, etc.) so if there are any questions they'll get asked up front! This garment actually came in late because the knitter was waiting for yarn from France for a while - ironically if it had been knit a little shorter there probably would have been plenty of yarn! Live and learn!

This jacket looks much better in person than in the photo - and I asked a friend of mine to come over and try it on so I could see it on a human being. I sort of wish I would have designed and knit up a skirt to go with it - it would be a nice suit!

Once again, this garment was SO long compared to what I'd envisioned - and once again this knitter was left waiting until the 11th hour for yarn (which eventually had to be re-dyed by the yarn company and sent to me so I could put this baby together this weekend after finishing the sleeves. She did a great job, but I knew that I'd have to do some tweaking (stuff I would have done on my own if I'd knit it myself!) - thanks so much, Laura!

Unfortunately the yarn was a little lighter in color, so my brilliant idea was to dab the finished section of the sleeve with some black dye. It worked, and looked good (it was a space dyed yarn) and I figured I'd put the sleeve in the microwave to set the dye.

Unfortunately it hadn't totally dawned on me that the chenille used in the cuff contained wire. Oops. It was just a little fire - just enough to burn a hole in the sleeve. Fortunately the fabric of the garment - boucle mixed with merino - was very forgiving for a weaving and patching-from-the-inside job. Febreeze took away the burned smell. Live and learn, huh? Knitting - never a dull moment. Thanks to Beth at Lorna's Laces for getting us not one but two extra bunches of Grace and Swirl DK to finish this baby off!

When I opened this package I cried - absolutely wept. Alls I can say is THANK YOU GRUMPERINA! She did a magnificent job on this, it's extraordinary and a butt-load of knitting to boot (should I say "booty?") You made me very proud and I left this on the mannequin for a few days as an inspiration. I cannot WAIT to see this on a human being. It was worked up in Tilli Tomas Pure & Simple Spun Silk - it's so stunning!

This hat was finished today - I deviated from my original all-white design, adding black after Gerry showed me a picture of a Darter bird and it really inspired me. Unfortunately, the wrong side of the fabric looks more darter-like, but I don't mind a hounds-tooth-esque hat. The stunning elbow length black lace opera gloves that Jenn finished and got to me this evening will look amazing with this (and I'm such a bone-head NOT to have taken a photo of them!!)

So on to the shawl tonight, the mitts - and Carol's probably got calloused hands at this point as she ends stocking #1 and moves on to stocking #2. My job tomorrow - aside from finishing the knitting - is to make adjustments to the patterns that my knitters shared with me (always tricky - I need to notate them so that when I get the tech editor's stuff back it's easy to incorporate the changes without getting totally confused!)

I also really want to put together some ideas for styling these. I know it's not my job - specifically - but my editor did ask me to jot down any styling ideas I'd have (and I did work as a stylist for a few years - I'm good at it!) so it can't hurt to pass along my ideas to the "real" stylist they engage for the shoot. She can take them or leave them! I'm REALLY looking forward to this shoot! No date is set yet -

WHAT a week, huh?

Oh - and on the heat/comfort front? We put an air conditioner in the living room, where I'm chained down to my knittin' chaise, and it's doing yeoman duty. It's hot - good thing global warming is just a myth, huh?
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Separation Anxiety

The other day as I was furiously knitting away, finishing up something to send out to some entity, Max - who was drawing a picture on the floor, admiring his handiwork - looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, do you ever feel sad to send your work away?"

I had never thought of it in such a frank way. I definitely feel relief, self-congratulations, pride (if I've done a good job) and a little anxiety (if I'm not 100% happy with my work...) But sadness?

I guess I disassociate myself from the work - or I've learned to do that through all of the costuming / styling / magazine work that I've done in my life. I try to love what I create, but not fall in love with it.

And yes, I am sad to see my work go away...

I just sent a big box to NYC, to my editor at Potter, a box full of sweaters for Romantic Hand Knits. Not all of the sweaters (damn!) but most of them. I have some that I'm still tweaking here, some that have yet to arrive (yikes!) and - I'm ashamed to admit it - two pieces that I have yet to start. Actually, I have started AND finished them, but I'm unhappy with them so I'm going to rework them this weekend. The photo shoot has yet to be arranged (as far as I know) but I know they want to set it up for July if possible. Knit like the wind!

I talked my editor into 2 hats - a wide/oval brimmed one, and a nice little cloche in a lace pattern. Here's the latter, with no trimming or ribbon, just the wired blank. I'm going to make up some nice flowers on pins that we can add to the hats at the shoot (and also maybe use them as accessories on other pieces?)

I also FINALLY got around to lengthening the lace peplum surplice. Here it is, surrounded by my family. They seem pleased with it (the goat is certainly happy...)

Speaking of my family, tomorrow would be my brother's wedding anniversary. I haven't been as in touch with his wife in the past few months as I should have been - just me being busy and awkward. I'll give her a call tonight and tell her that we love her (Hannah is absolutely NUTS about her!)

And, also speaking of family, I've been reading a wonderful book called Hillbilly Gothic by Adrienne Martini. She and I actually exchanged copies of our books - she wrote and said that after reading my blog she though I might enjoy her book. It's funny, she could be from my dad's side of the family (they have kids younger than my mom's side of the family...) and much of her book revolves around Parkersburg, WV (my dad's home town, the place where my parents met during the war and married). At any rate, I've been enjoying reading it as I go to bed at night - a nice release from the knitting stress.

Last night I allowed myself to get so tied up in knots over finishing some items that I never went to bed. Not at all. As of now I've been up since yesterday morning. This is VERY unlike me - I'm sort of a sleep health maniac - and even in college I only pulled ONE all-nighter. But I just kept knitting away last night, not really paying attention to the time until it was suddenly 3:30 and Gerry was leaving for work. Then I thought, "I'll knit a bit more, then sleep for a few hours before I get the kids up for camp..." but I never went to bed. Now that the box is off to Potter I will sleep tonight - then start knitting in earnest (once again) tomorrow.

Another hat and some gloves tomorrow - and I still feel incredibly lucky to get to do this!
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Through the Wall

I went out this morning and cut Hydrangeas
off our bush in the backyard. Gorgeous morning!

Runners talk about hitting the wall and breaking through it - I think I've done that with the knitting.

When I knit for extended periods, my hands begin to hurt - it's a natural occurance for any repetitive motion. I usually stop and stretch, and of course I try to be as ergonomically sensible as I can in my sitting and stitching.

Yesterday I finished off a skirt and in the morning I noticed that every 15 minutes or so I'd get pins and needles in my hands. I'd stop, shake them out, spend a few minutes on the computer and return to my knitting. Right around 1:30 - after returning home from picking up the kids from camp - I began to noticed that the gaps between the pins and needles period was extending to 20, 25, 30 minutes. By last evening I was working 45 min - 1 hour without the pins and needles. Could this be the breaking through of the wall?

I'm positive that my hands were so sore because of three things:
1) The needles were size 10 (I generally like a size 7, it's my favorite size).
2) The work was on circulars (I find knitting on straights less taxing to my hands, heavy projects notwithstanding)
3) The needles were wooden (I'm more used to metal needles with less drag - less work for my hands)

This is one of those great, big, beautiful oddnesses of knitting; What may make My hands hurt might be exactly wehat someone else needs to make their hands sing with joy. Isn't that odd? I think it's important to bear this in mind, though, as an example of how important it is to respect the differences in knitters, and not assume that what works for you will be what works for the rest of the world.

And here's the skirt - front and side views. I used South West Trading's new yarn, Amaizing (made from CORN!) and really liked the feel of it. I doubled it up because I wanted a heavier drape to keep the godets from getting too ruffly.

So today I make 2 hats and fix the ruffle on a sweater. I should have several things waiting for me at the PO, and I also have some packages to send.

Here's an open apology to every one who's emailed me in the past few weeks who I haven't answered! I'm So sorry - it's just that I'm nutty busy and haven't had the time to respond as I'd like. Sometimes those emails keep sliding down, down, down the list in my macmail box and I even forget they're there. It's not like me - I try to at least shoot an email to folks letting them know I've recieved their note and promising an answer - but, as I said, I'm just stupid busy right now.

The Dress
Remember last week when I said I was casting on for a dress and then left you hanging? Here it is! It's in Berroco Suede Deluxe, which was a pleasure to work with. Yes, it's short. How fortunate that it's a knitting pattern so you can make it just as long as your legs desire!
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Sunday, July 09, 2006


I had a whole other post I was going to put up today (I've been neglectful of the blog because I've been so darned busy) but I received a comment on my previous post which I feel bears addressing:

Dear Annie,

I saw the preview for your Western Point skirt today on the IK site, and noted that it is made with Tilli Tomas yarn also. Please don't take this the wrong way, but why are you using a yarn that is so expensive? I don't know one knitter that can afford that yarn, much less to make such a big item like a skirt. If I were interested in make a design with this yarn, it would take some serious research to get a yarn that has the same drape, heft, sheen, etc. but without a $35/sk price tag. What gives, Annie?

- Christina

Christina, I feel your pain. Here's how I explain it:

When designing a sweater, or any garment, there are parameters which have to be set. Generally, for me, these involve (but are not limited to) the following criteria:

Is it do-able (physically possible for someone else to create)
Is it attractive or interesting to inspire someone to make it?
Does it break any barriers or do anything new?
Will it be fun to work up?
Do I like it - would I like to make it if I saw it published?

Sidebar to these main concerns are:
Can it be made to be flattering on a variety of figure types?
Does the cost of the materials justify the garment?

It's important to have some limitations when designing - in fact, I find parameters a good way to focus my mind and compel myself to be a bit more creative. But I can't make every person happy with every design.

The answer to Christina's question is that the Tilli Tomas yarn is the only yarn that felt 100% right for this skirt. There is NO other yarn out there that had inspired me - for this skirt - like the Tilli Tomas did.

By definition, a skirt will take a lot of yarn - and in the case of this skirt the design came first, yarn choice second.

When a sample ball of the yarn was sent to me I realized that it was such a perfect fit that I had to change the yarn originally intended for the skirt. The drape, the flow, the lightness of a knitted fabric ribbon is a wonderful thing - and excellent for a skirt. I felt very lucky that I found the perfect fiber for my design.

I've known (KNOW!) what it's like to have a limited budget. To make this skirt will be expensive; you will either pay in $$, or you will pay in time spent finding or making a substitute. For many knitters this is part of the challenge that is quite enjoyable. In the case of Nile and Cleopatra, I hadn't found another yarn that fulfilled the same feeling as the Tilli Tomas yarn.

Yes, you can find substitutes for this yarn. Alternatively, you could buy some silk dupioni yarn and cut it into strips and knit with that (the yarn created by this technique will be similar to the new Lantern Moon yarn by Leigh Radford, which has thready edges and is connected with knots. I will have a skirt worked up in this yarn in my book, Romantic Knits - yes, another skirt!) I know that involves a lot of work, but anything worthwhile is going to take sacrifice (either in expense or time) and - when all is said and done - that's part of the whole beauty of knitting.

We put a lot into our knitting - those of us who are fortunate to be able to afford expensive yarns buy them without thinking twice. Most of us save up and buy something special when we can afford it. Many of us choose less expensive alternatives (and there are some magnificent ones out there!). I try to cover a broad range of yarns and prices in my books (Men Who Knit will feature several items worked up in Knit Picks yarns to provide a balance of yarns for several price ranges.

So I guess the short answer is that what gives is that I could not have made that skirt in any other yarn - I wasn't inspired to do it. I tried, but the Nile and Cleopatra yarn spoke to me in a way that I couldn't ignore. And the Tilli Tomas is amazingly fun to knit with - that is something I can't ignore, either!

Regularly Scheduled
I was going to post about my knitters for this book, and how the process has been a tremendous learning experience. There have been two instances where garments weren't completed, but I feel that these ended up being positive for both myself and the knitter in question (I hope!) In both instances I had to finish the garment and learned a lot about explaining exactly what it is I'm looking for in a knitter.

I've been amazingly gratified, though, with the high quality of the knitting that's come in. I was stunned to receive this skirt back from HOLLAND about 2 weeks after I'd sent it to Miriam Tegels (the world's fastest knitter) - she did a MAGNIFICENT job on it! If she wasn't off camping right now I'd have her knit up another project (or 3) for me!

This lovely sweater came in from Oregon - Carol's working up a pair of stockings for me, too - THANKS Carol!

This was one of the unfinished pieces. My knitter worked like a maniac on it, and did a WONDERFUL job, but it wasn't until she was binding off that she realized how far off the gauge was. This has happened to EVERYONE - and I felt under pressure due to time constraints, but not really upset with the knitter - it was more of a communication failure than anything else, and communication takes two people!

Since the garment was easily twice the size it needed to be, I did a little judicious sew, cut & sewing and have altered the pattern a bit. It's still a surplice, it's still lace, but now it ties in the front. The pattern will, of course, be rewritten to reflect this. This happens every now and then, and quite often it turns out being a very happy accident!

Back to my knitting - a skirt to finish today, some lace edging to add to another piece AND two hats to work up. Wish me luck!
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posted by Annie at 16 Comments Links to this post

Friday, July 07, 2006


I'm at the wire, still working things up, writing up patterns, AAAARRGH!

I misunderstanding with my editor (Oh, you want the finalized manuscript in July?) had me freaking out yesterday - so much so that check out this sleeve I put on a corset top...

Today life is better. Still at the wall, still pushing, still nuts - but better!
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posted by Annie at 3 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I should be in bed...

...but I'm not - I'm blogging. Watching the Goo goo dolls on the Tonight show (I'm a Letterman person, but there's some time delay so Conan's not on yet, Tonight show's running late.) and finishing up some knitting stuff.

I just FINALLY finished the baby piece for VK - that goes to them tomorrow (Fedex) and it completes my non-Romantic Knits obligations that are due before my RK due date. The moving due date - creeping up, creeping back - like some slasher in a bad teen horror film.

Aside from a few garments that need to be finished, and a few that I'm waiting on, most stuff is in. There's some repair work to do (98% my fault - mistakes in patterning, changes in the look of something, etc.) but I'm putting that off until I get the garments to the finished stage. Tonight I passed off some yarn to a local knitter who's working up a pair of opera gloves for me (Hi, Jann!) and I'm hoping that yarn's arrived to another glove (mitt) knitter and a stocking knitter over the weekend (or will arrive very soon.)

I didn't get a heckof a lot done today - it's the 4th, for heaven's sake! Gerry worked today, and Hannah wanted to go to the 4th parade in Montclair, NJ with her friend, so Max and I went to the South Orange Bike Parade by ourselves (he won a medal - everyone always wins a medal) then to the grocery and back home to prepare for a few guests.

Happy 4th, China!

We had an incredibly low key barbeque dinner, spent a lot of nice, quiet time outside talking with our friends while our kids ran wild around the backyard - I love our backyard. Sparkers, lightening bugs, and Hannah and Maxie went to fireworks with friends while Gerry cleaned up and I knit like a maniac. Another perfect 4th.

One of my friends who was over put on the knit dress for a photo - doesn't it look nice on a real person! I'm so excited!

The plane reservations, cottage reservations and rental car have all been booked for the last weekend in August in Minnesota! We'll be staying about an hour outside of Minneapolis, we'll be there in time to attend the State Fair and we'll be on a lake with fishing for the kid (they LOVE to fish!) We're all pretty excited - it will be the first flight in about 7 years for either kid, and THAT part is really thrilling for them! Minnesota, here we come!
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posted by Annie at 13 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Guess What I've Been Doing...?

Knitting! (big surprise) in my lovely air conditioned studio. I wish.

Knitting wool in the heat, always SUCH a pleasurable experience... But I finished a figure hugging deep neckline Malabrigo sweater (I guarantee that folks will be stroking this sweater - on and off - until it felts with the love, it's THAT soft and touchable!) a baby onesie for a VK book and a hat for Pam's Lace Style Book which had been half finished for a while. Here's some of the baby detail.

I'm starting a new dress this afternoon at 4:00. Time me. Here's the sketch. I'm using Berroco Suede Deluxe (I wasn't the hugest fan of Suede, but I really like the Suede Deluxe).

Right now Gerry's out at the Zoo with the kids - I roped him into that with a friend, and I'm hoping that the slightly overcast skies will mean less burn. Here's Maxie from earlier this week after a sunny playdate with a friend (and, yes, sunscreen - but obviously not often enough...) Teabags & Cocoa Butter Stick - the redhead's summertime best friends!
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf

Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho


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