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April 13, 2014

The New Twist Collective

The new Twist Collective is live and it's a veritable Marnie sandwich! My shawl design, Aello, got the cover, my first ever. 

Twist_Collective_Spring_Summer_2014.jpg

I loved designing and knitting this shawl. The yarn is from Lisa Souza and it was the perfect blend of silk and merino. It feels like air and blocks out beautifully. You can't tell, unless you get really close, but the yarn has flecks of color in it.

aello_c_500.jpg

 

I have a garment design as well. Chainlink is a zippered hoodie with a simple cable pattern on the yoke and trim.

chainlink.jpg

This piece is worked in a yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The illustrations for this story are done by another frequent Twist contributor, Barbara Gregory.

And the other slice of bread in the Marnie sandwich? You can see my photos in the Notebook, and, as always, my details are in the Contributors section as well.

I'm really excited about this edition and I hope you will be too. There are so many wonderful pieces and great articles. Check out the new edition, here.

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February 27, 2014

The birthday gift

This year my parents gave me a generous gift certificate to Amazon, for my birthday. Leo and I don't exchange gifts for holidays and life events. If we want to buy something we do so when money permits, at the time it permits, which works for us, but it is nice to still get a little spoiled by your parents, a few times a year.

Ever since my trip to TNNA with Julia, I've been thinking about photography, the limits of my point and shoot and the value of good photography to a pattern. If you compare the quality of the photos in Atalanta to those for Willowherb, even adjusting for different lighting, I think the quality difference is clear. The Atalanta shots, done with a DSLR, are sharper, and have more detail in the shadows and highlights than the Willowherb point and shoot images do. I'm generally not unhappy with my own shoots but I'm not unaware of the limits of a point and shoot, for all but the most ideal lighting situations.

So when my parent's gift arrived, I spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I wanted to put the money towards a DSLR, some lenses and other accessories. You can't just buy a camera body and call it a day. Will better quality photos do enough for my patterns to offset the money I'll spend? Will I be able to develop the skills necessary to even make use of the new camera? Is this the best use of what little disposable income we have? I don't know the answer to any of those questions but I have a new toy tool now.


Hello pretty bird

Ok, admittedly, these awesome bird shots were taken by Leo. He's pretty good at this photography stuff.


Raindrops keep falling on its head

I'm trying to get the dogs acclimated to the sound and look of the new camera. They are so accustomed to the point and shoot, which is held away from the face and is pretty quite. By comparison, the DSLR is a big noisy affair that obscures my face and sometimes flashes unexpectedly.


Thea gives some serious side-eye


Darwin is not impressed


Why is your face weird, human?

But they seem to be coming around.


My sweet Panda Bear

Getting the new camera on a tripod and trying to get good shots of myself, will be an all new challenge, but one I'm looking forward to. If you have any tips and tricks for making the most of the DSLR, I'd love to hear them. Book and tutorial recommendations are definitely welcomed.

Filed under: darwin , misc , panda , theano

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February 23, 2014

Three mittens and four cuffs for one pair of mittens

I think that one of the thing that draws me to designing is the problem solving. I used to buy those silly mensa puzzle books, just because I love figuring stuff out. But there are times when designing is just maddening, mostly because of stupid mistakes, like making a giant wacky thumb on a mitten.

willowherb_bad-thumb.jpg
Wonky thumb on the right.

The first Willowherb mitten I made had the thumb increases on the outside of the thumb and was almost an inch bigger in circumference than the final thumb. Shifting the increases in to the palm side made for a more pleasing shape and taking out some stitches gave it a better fit.

I knit another mitten, with a proper thumb. They are pretty fast to knit and I had plenty of yarn left, so I knit the third one and was feeling pretty good. The hat was done, I had two perfect mittens and we had plans to go to the coast for a shoot, in a couple days. I took some flat shots and wrote the pattern. An hour before leaving for the shoot, I was putting the final touches on the pattern, so it could go to the tech editor, and I noticed something.

willowherb_mismatched_cuffs.jpg

Do you see it? The cuff on the left is k1, p1 ribbing, the one on the right is k2, p2 ribbing. I couldn't believe it. The mittens had been done for days and this is the first time I noticed. The shoot was that day and I wouldn't have another chance to reschedule the trip to the beach before the pattern went live.

Leo asked me if anyone would even be able to tell, and I said that yes, definitely, people would be able to tell but even if they didn't I would not be able to live with them like this, so when we got in the car, I cast on and I knit and knit, despite the fact that knitting in the car makes me motion sick.

willowherb_knitting_cuff.jpg

And then, to add to my queasiness, I cut the old cuff off the mitten and then carefully grafted the new one on. I could have cut off the cuff and knit down from the mitten but I wasn't actually sure if I'd have time to finish the knitting before I got to the location. And since I worked the original with a tubular cast-on, I would have had to graft, no matter what, so I chose the option that would perfectly match the sister mitten.

willowherb_cuff.jpg

So there you go, more than a decade of designing experience, something like 30 years of knitting experience and over 100 patterns and I can still make completely ridiculous mistakes. But I'm happy. The end product is just like I imagined.

You can still get a discount on Willowherb by using the ShaliMarch discount code found here. Discount ends at midnight on Tuesday, February 24, at midnight, pacific.

Filed under: knitting , pattern

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February 19, 2014

Willowherb

Guess who has two thumbs, a birthday yesterday and a new pattern out? Did you guess this girl, right here? Because if not, you're a terrible guesser.

Willowherb is another design in honor of ShaliMarch. I wanted to get this out before Stitches West, in case any of you will be going and want to stop by the Shalimar Yarns booth to grope and ogle their pretty pretty yarns. Oh and be sure to check out this thread for a discount on my pattern and many others, throughout the event.

The Willowherb mittens come in two hand circumferences with easy instructions for adjusting the mitten length. The hat is in one size but will easily stretch to fit a variety of adult head sizes. Further adjustments can be made by adjusting the gauge at which you knit it.

Since the pieces are knit in a worsted weight yarn, they are pretty fast to knit. I was easily able to knit most of a single mitten, in one night. It's a nice break from all the garments and larger shawls I normally design.

For more details, check out the Ravelry page or my shop page.

Filed under: knitting , pattern

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February 15, 2014

Estival in other colors

In a perfect world where I could afford unlimited amounts of yarn and I knit so fast, I could churn out a large shawl in fingering weight yarn in a day or two, I would love to knit every piece I design in different colors and sizes so people could better imagine the items in their wardrobes. It's not easy for everyone to picture how something would look in different colors. I know there are colors that I generally find less appealing than others and it can bias my perception of a pattern, even though I know, rationally, how easy it is to change.

With a piece like Estival, the bright summery colors might catch your eye but they may be hard to see past, if you aren't normally one to wear bright buttery yellow and intense orange.

I thought it might be fun to play around in Photoshop a bit and see if I could come up with some interesting alternative color combinations. A knitter's options are only restricted to the colors yarn can be dyed, but what I can make look remotely convincing with the adjustment tools, is a little more limited. Even so, I think it really changes the whole feel of the shawl to see it in some other colorways.

My favorite thing about designing is seeing how people make a design their own. I'm hoping to see some fun color combinations or subtle solid pieces, in the future. It's always a surprise and a delight to see what knitters choose to do with an idea.

Estival and Acrtium are still on sale until end of day (pacific time zone) Monday, February 17 using the promo code in the ShaliMarch group. Be sure to check out all the other participating designs here.

Filed under: knitting , pattern

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Marnie's bookshelf: read

Feisty FidoFeeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household.You Don't Have to be Evil to Work Here, But it HelpsBrave New Knits: Dozens of Projects and Personalities from the Knitting BlogosphereCowl GirlsFrom Dead to Worse

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