Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2012’

TILT: New Camera!


Things I love today: pictures taken with my brand-spankin-new DSLR camera!

Malabrigo Rios in Indecita

Malabrigo Rios in Indecita

I sold off some yarn I wasn’t going to use, and hubby and I dug deep for the rest of the $. I am SO IN LOVE with this camera. We went for a walk in our neighborhood yesterday, and I literally stopped every ten seconds to take a new picture. I am now officially the most annoying person to take a walk with ever.

The camera body is a Canon Rebel T3. We could have spent $100-$200 more to get the version that’s a little newer–but the major difference seemed to be the number of megapixels, and for my purposes, 12.1 is quite enough, thank you very much.

Malabrigo Twist

Malabrigo Twist in Grapes

The 18-55mm lens that came with the camera is amazing, much better than I thought it was going to be, actually. We also ordered a 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is what I used to take these yarn pictures. It does an amazing short depth of field, as you can see:

Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Betty Draper's Blues

Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Betty Draper's Blues

Tosh Vintage in Betty Draper's Blues and Antler

Tosh Vintage in Betty Draper's Blues and Antler

Madelinetosh TML in Citrus

Madelinetosh TML in Citrus

Malabrigo Rios

Okay, I may have gone a little nuts with the yarn photography…

We’re going to take the camera out to the beach on Thursday and do a photoshoot for a few of my new designs. I can’t wait to see what they look like!

FO Friday: Grandmother’s baby bootie


Today I have a finished object to show you…

…but it doesn’t happen to be one of mine. It’s my grandmother’s.

Baby bootie

I never met my paternal grandmother. She lived in another country, many thousands of miles away. She died when I was ten years old. A few years ago, I was looking for something entirely different in my dad’s closet and found this single, delicate, hand-knit bootie.

Current foot size

My current foot size, for scale

When I asked my dad about it, he said she knit a pair of booties for me when I was born. When I outgrew them (probably in a week or two–it’s teeny-tiny!), he put them away in a drawer and had forgotten all about them until that moment. In the 25-plus years that intervened, one went missing.

When I picked up knitting needles eight years ago, my dad didn’t mention that his mother had been a knitter. Like so many women of her era, she probably knit to keep the family in warm clothes and accessories. He likely wouldn’t have marked her handcrafting as anything odd or different (unlike today, when people gape at me when I knit in public and will often interrupt me to ask incredulously, “Are you knitting?” I’m always tempted to say something snarky like, “No, I’m swimming laps, actually”).

Dad said I could keep this little bootie, and I’m glad. Maybe I had nothing else in common with my grandmother–but at least we both understood the language of knitting and the feel of yarn sliding through our fingers. Maybe she enjoyed making delicate pieces on tiny needles–or maybe she cursed the whole way through the project and longed for a good worsted wool, like I would have. Either way, it makes me feel closer to the grandmother I never knew.

Bootie seam

Look at that pretty seam–puts mine to shame!

In Which I Use Algebra


In what seems like a former life, I spent some time teaching algebra to pre-teens and teenagers. The number one question anyone who spends time in this particular pursuit hears is, of course, “When am I ever gonna have to use this?” (sometimes accompanied by a curse word, depending on the teenager).

Cat dislikes algebra

Most of them sounded a lot like this.

I usually had to go with “well, you need it for college,” or “it’s helpful for logical thinking practice”, or a cooking or construction example that 95% of the students wouldn’t be able to relate to at all.

But I was thinking yesterday… geez, I wish I had been designing then. Because I use algebra ALL THE TIME now. I have a whole notebook full of algebra equations. It’s a thick notebook, even. I use algebra to figure out sweater dimensions, to upsize and downsize a sample so it’ll fit people of many shapes and sizes, and to calculate the exact ratio a sleeve cap should have to its corresponding armhole.

Here’s what I was doing yesterday when I started thinking about this: working out yarn requirements for the different sizes of my Bevin Pullover.

First I split the pieces of the sweater up into geometric shapes:

geometry of a sweater

That says "sleeve", not "Steve". Trust me. I'm a professional.

Then I wrote out algebraic formulas for the area of each shape, in order to figure out the square inches of knitting in each size:


I'm especially proud of myself for remembering the formula for the area of a trapezoid without having to look it up.

It might look a little complicated, but it’s actually very basic. I just took my numbers for each size, plugged them into the formula, and it spit out the total square inches for each size. Then I figured out how much yarn per square inch my swatch used, divided by that number, and voila – fairly accurate yardage amounts!

If only those kids could see me now….

FO Friday: Daisy Cloche and Mittens


I have two FOs to show off today–and they’re both new designs!

Here are my Daisy Cloche and matching Daisy Mittens:

Daisy Cloche and Mittens

The specs:

Pattern: my own–in testing now, planning for a release in about a week

Yarn: Cascade Ecological wool held double, left over from the Neverending Christmas Stockings of 2011

Needles: Size US #11 circular and DPNs (which I had to go out and buy… I’d never used any DPNs bigger than US #10 before!

Notes: These quick projects were EXACTLY what I needed after the three-week exclusivity of my Bevin Pullover. My hands loved the switch from DK weight cotton/linen to super-bulky, squishy wool! And the hat and mittens came together with astonishing speed… I think I spent about 8 hrs on both, and that includes writing up the patterns afterward!

Now to go mess with Photoshop Actions and get the pictures exactly as I want them, hehe…

TILT: Photoshop Actions!


Thing I Love Today: Downloadable Photoshop Actions!

How did I not even know this tool existed? You can download (free, mostly!) sequences of layers and filters that automatically apply themselves to photos… and they come out AWESOME. I can do basic stuff in Photoshop (lighten, darken, blur backgrounds, change saturation, that kind of thing), but these tricks are way beyond me. Being able to drastically alter the mood of a photo by clicking one button is huge.

I’ve been messing with the photos of my new sweater (see last post for details on the sweater). Here are some examples, using my favorite set of actions so far, the Timecapsule Set by Nelly Nero (I found the download here):

Original photo

Original photo


with Warm Up action

with Warm Up action


with Summer of '69 action

with Summer of '69 action

with City Chic action

with City Chic action – I have never looked cooler in my life

Of course, I immediately want to go through my entire photo collection and futz with every one, haha. Such is the danger of learning new Photoshop tricks. But I think the challenge will be to keep the effects subtle. The timing on figuring this out is really good, though… I will be releasing a new hat and mitten set in about a week that has a very vintage-y feel, so some of the actions are going to work really well for those photos!

Stay tuned…

FO Friday: Bevin Pullover


A few days ago, I finished the sweater I’ve been working on. Today, hubby and I got some pictures, just in time for FO Friday!

Bevin front

I named it Bevin, which happens to be my middle name. Hey, I never claimed to be really creative with pattern names. It seemed appropriate for this design, somehow.

I’m really, really happy with the way this one turned out. The twisted-stitch detail goes up both sides of the front and back and stops right before the bust shaping (no need for any stretched-out motifs emphasizing the size of my bust, thankyouverymuch).

Bevin side

This sweater provided me with some challenges. I was reminded (more than once) why I tend to knit sweaters in the round rather than in pieces–I couldn’t try it on as I went, had to make sure the pieces were EXACTLY the same size, had to deal with all the seaming at the end, etc. But I wanted the yarn to be appropriate for summer, and the cotton/linen blend really needed the extra structure of seams to prevent any sagging or bagging.

Bevin back

Here are the specs:

Pattern: my own! Soon to be published through Knit Picks’ wonderful Independent Designer Program. Stay tuned!

Yarn: Knit Picks CotLin. I’m not terribly fond of working with cotton or linen (give me a nice squishy wool any day), but I can honestly say this sweater will be more comfortable to wear here in SoCal than most of my wool sweaters. It’s one of those process vs. product questions… and I think it was worth some discomfort if the finished item is so nice.

Notes: Now it’s time to write up the pattern in different sizes (I want to do XS – 3X, at least), then get it to some test knitters and a tech editor. I’ll be running the test through the Free Pattern Testers group on Ravelry, if anyone’s interested–hopefully I’ll have a call for testers up by Monday.

Bevin wide shot

Love this picture, even if it isn't the best one of the sweater!

Swatch love


Things I Love Today:

How amazing it feels to knit chunky wool with chunky needles.


Pardon the crappy nighttime cell phone pic.

In the last three days, I’ve knit something like 1200 yards of cotton/linen blend on #5 and #6 needles. My hands are killing me. So while the pieces of the sweater were blocking this afternoon… I couldn’t resist whipping out a few swatches.

I love swatching. So little commitment, but somehow so satisfying. I didn’t keep my swatches before I started designing (okay, full disclosure–sometimes I didn’t even swatch at all…), but since I actually have to make sure things fit now, things have changed. I currently keep all my swatches, tagged with the needle size and yarn info, in this little plastic bag I got from the last Stitch N’ Pitch at Dodger Stadium.

Truthfully, I think I’m going to outgrow it soon:

Swatch case

And while I had it out, I felt the need to take all the swatches out for a photo op (cause I’m weird like that, I guess–I want my swatches to get some love!). Remember, these are only since I started designing last summer… that should give you an idea of how much I swatch these days.

Big pile 'o swatches

Isn’t that beautiful?

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want…


(And yes, I’m perfectly aware that title dates me.)

I’ve decided I really want a digital SLR camera. I’ve been doing all my pattern and project photography with a fairly nice Sony point-and-shoot. It has very limited manual settings, though, so I have to be super-careful about lighting.

Bright, sunny days are nice and all, but when you have them 99% of the time, photography can be a nightmare. I’ve taken a bunch of my pattern pictures at the beach (as you might notice), because it’s one of the only places in the greater LA area that usually has cloud cover.

Thumbs up

Why am I so happy in this picture? Because it's the first time I had seen clouds in three months.

Another issue is that contrary to popular opinion, there are places in LA that are far from the beach. I happen to live in one of them. It takes about forty-five minutes to get there when there’s no traffic (which is never). If I have three or four samples to photograph, the trip is worth it, but otherwise it’s a giant pain in the behind.

Over Christmas, I stupidly intelligently decided to try out my mother-in-law’s Canon Rebel T3.

I am deeply, madly in love with this camera. Using just the kit lens, I wandered around their house and yard taking pictures of everything, and THEY ALL CAME OUT GREAT.

Proof I’m not lying:

Artsy stockings

Tiny panda

Cody dog

JellybeansAre these not the tastiest-looking jellybeans you’ve ever seen?


This next picture is, I think, the best one I’ve ever taken. And it’s of CILANTRO.

Amazing cilantro

Can you imagine what this camera could do with, say, a Madelinetosh sweater?

So the bottom line is, I want a DSLR. Desperately. But it’s not in the budget right now, so I’ll have to be content with my POS P&S until I make enough money by selling my designs to purchase one.

And if anyone has recommendations for entry-level DSLRs or places to buy them, I’d love to hear about it!



I’m starting a new category: things I definitely don’t like ever (TIDDLE for short, cause somehow that helps).

I was happily knitting away on the back piece of my current sweater design. I had knit about 10 inches when I noticed something awful.

Front piece

Bottom of front piece. See where the pattern begins?


Back piece

Bottom of back piece on which I'd already knit 10 FRICKING INCHES

Do you see it? I started the cable pattern two rows earlier on the back piece.

Now, this is a rolled edge, so ordinarily I’d just try to fudge it when sewing up, confident that it’d be hidden in the roll anyway. But the big problem is that I counted from the edge when doing the waist decreases.

This means the (paired) decreases on the front and back pieces, the ones I purposely intended to be visible at the sides of the sweater, aren’t going to line up. And the cable motif won’t line up either. The mistake would definitely be noticeable.

I wanted to cry. But instead I ripped out all 10 inches and came here to whine about it. And oddly, I feel a little better. So I’m off to start the back over again. Thanks for “listening”. :-)

WIP Wednesday


Things I love today (TILT! Ha! Definitely gonna use that more often…):

How quickly a sweater goes after you reach the sleeve and neck shaping.

Sweater in progress

Also my cat, who has excellent taste in toys.

Cat playing with lightsaber

That's a sweet custom lightsaber from Disneyland, folks.

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