Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Upcoming Interview!

I'm very proud and excited to announce I have been interviewed by the amazing Robin Hunter of Robin Hunter Designs and will be featured on her blog How to become a Professional Knitter November 18th!

I've been following Robin's blog for a LONG time now and find it to be an incredible knitting resource.  Her knitting professionals interview series has introduced me to many wonderful people and products.  I highly recommend you follow her blog, never mind that her designs are beautiful!! You can also find Robin on Ravelry.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trick or Treat? Design Elements

Trick or Treat Bags - Lion Brand Yarn
FREE Pattern! See bottom of post.
Often in my classes when students discover they've made a mistake there is a minor panic on their part. Occasionally I find a few students who take it in stride, recognizing that the class is a learning opportunity and that mistakes will be made - it's part of the learning process. But more often than not it seems students grade their success on the perfection of their work in class, and want immediately to fix any issues. Some errors can be readily fixed, and some cannot - without tears and ripping back.

Yes, I teach my students how to correct their work whenever possible. I even teach a class about only that - Knit Research & Rescue - in which students learn to correct knitting without ripping back. But I also try to teach my students that not all errors are bad.

Recipe Fail.  Look familiar Mom?
I think it is important for knitters to understand that a pattern is nothing more than a recipe. Yes, sometimes you can make mistakes in recipes bad enough that the result is no longer food. (Mom, stop laughing!) But you can also make wonderful substitutions that not only make the process, but also the end result, more enjoyable. Take chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for example. Love them. But... substitute those chocolate chips with butterscotch chips and dash in a little orange zest... OMG, get out of my way... I'm eating them all! (Really, try it - very very tasty!!) Did I make a mistake? No. I made something better suited to my tastes. I added a design element. Knitting is the same way.

Design Elements can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional design elements include things like intentionally adding or changing a stitch or the project's structure: 1x3 rib substituted for 2x2, gooseberry stitch for bobbles, moss stitch instead of a stockinette field, shortening sleeves, adding shaping, adding striping, knitting a turtleneck collar instead of a Henley, etc.

Unintentional Design Elements originate from errors. For example - on a recent project I misread/interpreted the pattern and performed a "C4F,C4B" (two cables twisting inward) as a "C4B,C4F" (two cables twisting outward). At the next pattern repeat I did it correctly. Then I saw the error. Yes, I did it wrong. Yes, I could have fixed it. But in fact, I liked it. It made a sort of "O" or medallion. It occurred to me that if I replicated my error, every other repeat, I'd get a sweet little X's & O's pattern... which of course reminds me of Kisses & Hugs, which are never bad... and there, I'd added a design element to my project, making it entirely my own, and more special to me than if I'd executed the pattern perfectly.

Does this work with every type of error? No. If you knit one sleeve 8" too long, making the other sleeve 8" too long will result in a monkey sweater. But, if the error doesn't affect structure, the trick to turning an error into a design element (treat!) is simply this... Consistency. Replicate your error consistently and you've added a design element.

...Oh, and the cool image at the top of the page with the little Trick or Treat Bags - that's a FREE pattern available from our friends at Lion Brand Yarns.  No, I wasn't paid or even asked to link to them - I just love the pattern!

Silly Sam & Mom Picture

Courtesy of my dear friend Jessica Billy.  She is an amazing artist.  When Sam & I visited her studio this summer she just happened to have this awesome two sided cut out for fun photos.  Thank you Jess for taking our pictures!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diabolical! Scintillating! The Reviews Are In!

My "Learn Cables & Bobbles" class has begun and I'm getting some really interested reviews thus far.

The first lesson covers gauge rather intensely (is there any other way?) to really give students an understanding of when to respect gauge and how to understand its impact.  Yes, there is MATH.  Yes, I make you KNIT.  I won't tell you any more than that (take my class) but I will tell you one student called me "diabolical".  I'm proud of that.

I LOVE teaching.  Nothing thrills me more than seeing the Ah ha! moment happen for my students.  Because I love it, and I want this to be exciting and fun (you are paying to learn a skill that you will utilize as personal entertainment - it should be fun!) I have a tendency to be flamboyant and exuberant and silly.  It is a performance, teaching is a performance.  That's probably why another student told me I am a "very scintillating teacher". Take one of my classes and see.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eventually I Will Learn

Hello.  My name is Jessica and I haven't learned my lesson.

I know how to run life lines.  I teach others to run life lines in their knitting.  But do I run them? No.

I'm working on a sweater, Shalom Cardigan by Meghan McFarlane, which is available for free on Ravelry.  The pattern is not graded and I've had to make a number of changes for fit and flattery.  With each of these changes, there has been tinking and even frogging.  You would have thought I might have been inspired to run a life line the first, or even fourth time, I ripped back, but I wasn't.  And it has happened again.  Once more I became so sure of myself, secure in my last calculations and fit check, that I over-confidently forged ahead without a life line.  It's a blessing that it's only yarn and not an actual life or death situation.

Please, learn from my mistakes.  Take Two for Safety.  Run a life line through your knitting now.
This has been a public service announcement.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Feature! Inspiration Image: Creative Spark

As a new blog feature, each week (mostly) I will be posting an "Inspiration Image"  I've found online that has the power to light a creative spark.

All of these images belong to someone else, and anytime I can find the true copyright holder, I will link to them.  If I failed to properly link to your copyrighted work, please contact me asap so that I might correct my error.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Never too many notebooks...or Bath Crayons.

My husband and I recently attended a "Q&A / Meet the Authors" night at our local library with three prominent science fiction writers.  Really very interesting!  They had a full audience, and I was grateful to have gotten there in time for actual seats.  There was a library staff member there to moderate the discussion, and attendees took turns asking questions about the writing/publishing experience.

I'm not a writer, and although in years past I thought I wanted to be one, it's really not something I'm working towards right now.  But I am a designer, and in many respects, it is a similar process.  Dream it up, work it out, get it on paper and sell it.  One of the biggest hurdles I deal with is capturing my ideas.  I simply can't knit, chart, draw or create as fast as ideas come to me.  And so, I asked the panel what they do when the creative flow hits them hard and fast.  For a second, they looked at me like I was the next alien they'd be writing about.  Then the panel each took turns expressing that intense creative flow was a gift, and that you need to do everything you can to capture it when it comes, and that you can NEVER have too many notebooks.  One author went on to express just how many notebooks they have, and where all they have them stashed for that perfect moment of creative flow and capture.

I have notebooks.  I love notebooks.  I'm sort of an extreme perfectionist and have that whole "my notebooks should be neat and orderly" disorder.  You know what I mean... indexed, no mistakes, neat and clean.  You're laughing or agreeing.  Yes, I see the brilliance flaw in my ways, so I'm trying to make amends.  I started by designating the existing notebooks.  Small blue one - Ravelry HPKCHC.  Giant green one - pattern writing, impromptu concept sketching.  Black grid notepad - duh, charting.  Okay, done.

Nope, not enough.  I get design ideas at work, in my car, in bed, and more often than anywhere else, my shower.  So I went to the craft store and picked out three of those little $1 journals in three distinctly, can't confuse them and they won't blend into the clutter designs.  I'll be putting one in the car, taking one to work, and leaving one in the bedroom.  As for the shower...

I used to have these awesome soap crayons.  They were awesome.  See, I do website design too, and sometimes layout designs come to me at weird times too (usually the shower) so with these bath crayons, I'd just draw on the way when the idea struck, finish my washing, dry off and transfer the idea to wherever it belonged.  I haven't had a set of bath crayons in ages.  I looked for them, but I can only seem to find them online.  It being time to start thinking of Christmas gifts, I figure now is the perfect time to let the Universe know I'd love another set.  And yes, telling the Universe I want them may result in multiples, but like notebooks, you can never have too many soap crayons.

And if the Universe wants to send me more cool notebooks too... well yeah, they won't go to waste!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Upcoming Class: Learn Cables & Bobbles - Women's Knit Hat

Beginning Friday, October 7th @ Village Wools I'll be teaching this 3-session class.  I spent today developing my handouts and am very excited about the material I'll be covering in this class.

I'll be doing an in-depth discussion on "getting gauge" including how to properly measure and calculate gauge.  Additional worksheets for future project gauge calculations will be provided.  We will also discuss knowing when to respect gauge.  From there, it's all about pre-reading a pattern, reviewing stitches, techniques and construction.  Then we cast on and begin exploring cables, bobbles, and even a little lace.  I wish it were Friday already!!

If you are in the area and toying with the idea of signing up, there is still time.  Contact Village Wools at 5916 Anaheim Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113 - (505) 883-2919.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jesseknits & The Maniheads

Taking a picture of yourself wearing a hat is a little tricky.  Really.  Try it.  I have.  Hundreds of times.  Thank God for digital cameras.  I can only imagine the amount of money and film I would have wasted otherwise.  I think taking a photo of your own elbow is easier.  If I get the hat at a good angle, I blinked.  If I catch myself looking particularly charming, the hat is out of focus, out of frame, or out of light.  I've even resorted to taking pictures of my hats on my husband.  The joke there is that they are women's hats, his head is definitely a larger size, and although his ponytail can make him pass for a woman from the back, his 5 o'clock shadow kills that impression from the side.  Finally, I stumbled on a solution.

Halloween is quickly approaching which means cheap wigs are available everywhere, and likewise, cheap foam head-forms   Yes!  $3 a piece - I bought three.  Best $10 props EVER.  Okay, not quite.  Cheap foam looks like, well, cheap foam.  Not the impression I was hoping my $24/skein wool would make.  How does one make a $3 foam head look like a million bucks?  Lighting sure isn't the answer this time.  Nor is spray paint.  Somehow the very thought of it conjures up images of crash test dummies.  Nope, this was going to take real crafting... Decoupage!   Off to the craft store I went.  15 pieces of scrapbook paper, a big bottle of Mod Podge Matte, a brush and Presto!  It's showtime with Jesseknits & The Maniheads!

Okay, not quite yet.  Letting the Mod Podge set before I go gluing hats to them accidentally.  But you get the picture.  I'm very excited and looking forward to re-shooting some pattern pictures with the girls here.  They will definitely be better than the flat folded on a table photos I've got now!