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July 12, 2014

Charting crochet motifs in Illustrator

Some of us designers over in Ravelry, have been talking about charting crochet patterns. I think many of us who enjoy crochet, really appreciate charted designs. Not only can you see what is going on, but they are fairly well understood regardless of language. Crochet charts pose some unique challenges that knitting charts generally do not. While knitting is suspended from a cord or needle, making each row straight, while you are working it, crochet stitches grow organically from a single point and then tether to the previous row at any point the designer indicates. That means that you cannot simple set up a grid and build your chart. Each stitch may be a different height and width, or clustered together at the base or top, and all of that needs to be carefully crafted in the chart to make it clear what the crocheter needs to do next.

Definitely check out that thread for other tutorials, tips, and discussions, if this topic interests you.

There's certainly no single correct way to make charts, but it can be helpful to see how other people do theirs. Below is a rough take on how I do my own charts. This is a motif-style chart, but many of the steps would be applicable to flat rows, as well.

I lowered my monitor resolution to make everything on my screen bigger, but you'll still probably want to watch this in full screen. If you can't see the embedded video here, here's the link to youtube. And if you want to play around with the finished Illustrator file, I demoed in this video, you can download it here.

Filed under: crochet , design , illustrator , tutorial

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July 10, 2014

Phosphene

Yesterday, I released a new crochet pattern, Phosphene. This crochet shawl is worked as individual motifs that are joined as you go. Since it's worked in lace weight yarn, it's a great project for these hot summer months.

And since it's made of a series of motifs, you can adapt it to almost any size or shape from a cowl to a blanket, depending on how you assemble the pieces and the yarn and hook you choose.

Like my other crochet shawl design, Aasha, I've included both charts and written out instructions. You'll find the entire motif charted on one page and round-by-round written and charted instructions, on another.

I hope this will make the patterns easier to follow and suitable even for crocheters who aren't comfortable with American crochet terminology. Though, if you are interested in converting the American terms to British or Scandinavian terminology, there's a helpful chart at the end of this page.

If you are interested in seeing more pictures and getting more details about this pattern, you can view it on Ravelry, and here on my site.

Filed under: crochet , pattern

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June 27, 2014

Ten-year blog anniversary


Today, my blog turns ten. I was twenty-nine years old when I started it, a relatively recent transplant to Los Angeles, and just learning to designs knitting patterns. My website was three at the time. If you want to take a trip in the way-back machine, you can even see the first version of my site here, though it's nothing more than a splash-screen. For a couple of years, it functioned primarily as an online resume. Then, in 2004, I gave the whole thing a makeover, started offering free patterns, and my blog followed closely behind.

first_blog.jpg
*sniff* They grow up so fast.


I don't think I'd be designing knitting patterns, today, if I hadn't been testing the waters online, at the time I started my site. Ten years ago, very few people even knew what a PDF was. Online purchases were the exception, not the norm. While I enjoyed knitting, if I hadn't been connecting with knitters online, I'm not sure I would have had the community of enthusiastic knitters to encourage me,while I learned from the many mistakes I made along the way.


I sometimes wonder what it would be like if, 13 years ago, Leo hadn't encouraged me to start a site. I wonder what would have happen if we hadn't stopped at Big Sur, on our way to San Francisco where we picked up a couple of cute knit hats at a gift shop, and how things would have been different if Leo hadn't pretended to love the ill-fitting hat I knit for him a few weeks later. I wonder if I would have started offering patterns if the owners of Artfibers hadn't encouraged me along or if knitters had been more disparaging of my mistakes and incomplete patterns. Knowing me, I could have easily been discouraged along the way, which would have been unfortunate, as my circle of fiber arts friends has been wonderful and they have challenged and encouraged me, made me laugh and made me think, and overall, made knitting one of the more rewarding parts of my life.


I don't blog as much as I used to, not for lack of things to say, but because so many of us have connected on social media platforms, where we can interact more directly and more quickly than through blog comments and emails. But I'm pretty sentimental about my blog. It's like handwritten thank-you notes, not something I do as often as I'd like but something I still do for more special occasions. Looking through my RSS aggregator, I see a lot of links to now-defunct blogs from knitters, spinners, crocheters and just all-around interesting people. Perhaps blogs are the pet-rocks of the early 2000s, but I'll be keeping mine going for at least a while more. And, presuming you are on my redesigned blog, and not reading this in an aggregator, or through my old blog, you can find me on a multitude of social media platforms, up there, to the right, under the "Find Me Here" heading. I interact mostly on Facebook, but you'll see me pop up on Twitter and Flickr with some regularity.


If nothing else, you'll get to see more pictures of the pooches.


thedogs.jpg


And a few hummingbirds, too.


hummingbird.jpg


If you'll grant me just a little bit more sentimentality, I couldn't end this blog post without thanking those of you who come by my blog, read my posts, leave comments, and/or interact with me online, and knit my patterns. I'm a pretty shy person and would never have connected with so many people if I had to do it in person. I cringe at a lot of my old blog posts (and old patterns) but I wouldn't take any of it back. It's the mortified shoe-box of my late twenties and early thirties and I hope I'll always be able to look back, read through the posts and remember all the remarkable people I've met and experiences I've had.

Filed under: about the blog , darwin , knitting , panda , theano

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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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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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