I have such a love/hate relationship with color work. I love designing it, and when I’m working the rows leading up to it, I can’t wait to get started on it. But once I get a few rows in, I start feeling a little grumbly about it all. It’s slow going, and I really have to pay attention to every stitch in the row. And then there are all of those ends to weave in when you’re done… I’ve been putting off weaving in the ends on a bunch of projects so now I have quite a pile to deal with. But in the end, the effect is totally worth the work which is why I keep dreaming up more color work projects, even while I’m cranky with my current ones.
I’m still working on my little pattern collection. I recently finished writing five of the patterns, and I got a little over enthusiastic about starting them. I now have 4/5 of the projects on the needles or done. It’s good progress, but now I find myself trying to brainstorm a sixth pattern to round out the collection because all of the other pieces are coming together so quickly. I might be a little crazy.
I know these posts are kind of a tease, but I’m saving up the cool details for the big reveal.
This is the first in a series of bimonthly interviews with creative people! I wanted to start off with a bang, so with a big mug of tea by my side, I interviewed my favorite designer to follow on Twitter, Alex Tinsley. Alex specializes in hats and accessories, and she always has a witty remark up her sleeve.
What’s your favorite drink to have by your side while you’re crafting?
Ooh, if I had my choice, a good salted caramel hot chocolate. I JUST learned that that was a thing (seems obvious, really, but there you have it) and they’re so good. But realistically, what I *actually* have by my side everyday is regular ole water. I may be boring but I’m hydrated.
Do you have a favorite good movie to watch while crafting?
I almost never watch movies twice, but for knit-watching I gravitate towards slow-moving dramas or comedies that don’t have subtitles. I also gravitate towards indulgent tv shows, which I play end to end for hours and hours. Let me tell you, the Dawson’s Creek theme song (not the Sarah McLaughlin one, the “hearts & arrows” one) is really, really hard to get out of your head. But anyway! A recommendation for a good movie for knitting… Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
What about a favorite bad one?
What is an average day in your life like?
I usually wake up around 8 or 9 and sit in bed reading email and checking all my daily webcomics while my husband makes breakfast (being married to a chef has major benefits.) He works afternoons/evenings so if there’s anything we want to get done, like grocery shopping or going out to lunch, we do that during the first part of the day, otherwise I plop myself in front of the computer and start answering emails, catching up on social media, or whatever other computer tasks need doing. At some point I take a shower. The rest of the day can vary- I’ll run errands if I need to, or keep doing computer work, or actually KNIT. I try to take a break to go outside with the dogs, diddle around on the ukulele, or some other non-work activity. I pretty much keep that going til my husband gets home at 11-ish, then have a late snack and go to bed.
Of all of your designs, do you have a particular favorite? What makesit special?
It’s tragic, but the hat I actually wear the most isn’t one of my designs (yet)- I failed to write it down at the time and haven’t been able to get the yarn to make it again (I should probably just order it online but I keep thinking maybe I’ll come across it in a shop.) It has to be that yarn, in that color. Nothing else would be as good, as far as I’m concerned.
But as far as things I’ve actually published, I really love Fooler A Faker and Wabi- both are pretty simple, soft, and have pompoms, and therefore right up my alley. Lutine also makes me really happy, it’s just such a silly cheery hat.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
I’m pretty diligent about saving photos that inspire me and scribbling down any ideas I have, either in one of many, many notebooks or on my iPhone. My “inspiration” folder on my laptop currently clocks in at 776 MB and about 3000 photos… and that doesn’t count things I’ve saved on Pinterest, on my old computer, on my phone or iPad, or in actual physical folders. So when I need to come up with a new project, I can dive into my stash of half-baked idea-nubbins. I always find a ton of intriguing things on Pinterest and Tumblr- once you find a few people with brilliant aesthetics to follow it becomes a never ending stream of awesome.
If you had the time and resources to pick up a new craft, what would you try?
I have a really great sewing machine, a serger, and two bins full of fabric just languishing in my studio. It’s absolutely tragic. I know how to use them (not super well, but well enough to get started) but I just have no time.
What have you been working on lately?
I am waist-deep into a book project that I’m doing with Cooperative Press called Doomsday Knits. It’s a multi-designer collection of post-apocalyptic-inspired knitwear, and I think it’s going to be really fabulous. We’re at the tech-editing-and-photo-editing point right now but I hope to have a very rudimentary mock-up in time for June TNNA.
On Friday nights, a cafe in my neighborhood does movie nights, and a bunch of my friends and I go hang out and knit. Last Friday, the movie was Legally Blonde, and because we were all familiar with it, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a little game knitting! Game knitting is a pattern/game by Lee Meredith, and it works a bit like a drinking game. You make a list of things that happen in the movie, and every time you see one of those things on screen, you do something. For this hat I just switched from knitting to purling, and I love the effect. I started the ribbing while we were hanging out before the movie started, and I managed to get this whole hat knit in one sitting.
I did a bit of sewing this weekend, and I made a simple yellow circle skirt! The fabric, thread, and zipper for this had been in my stash for a couple years. It was supposed to be a quick fall project that I was going to work on when I went to visit my parents for thanksgiving my sophomore year of college. As it usually does, the allure of knitting beat sewing, and the materials for this project laid around for a long time. This weekend, wranky with a non-cooperative sweater sleeve, I dug this cheerful fabric out and got to work! I’m happy to finally have this skirt made and added to my ever growing collection of slightly flawed handmade skirts.
I just realized that I never shared what I got in the Purlygirls retreat swap! I got this lovely red hat that came tucked into a handmade pouch, and I promptly stuck it in my bag to have on hand in case I got stuck in the rain or wind and needed to keep my hair under control. It’s really cute, and I think I’m going to wear it a lot.
I have to admit that this isn’t really a recent FO. I finished this sweater a couple weeks ago, and if you read Katie Canavan’s blog, you might have seen this sweater already because I wore it when we got breakfast while she was visiting Seattle! I wore it nonstop that week, but then I realized that I had better stop wearing it so much until I got some good pictures of it. I’m surprised by how easily this sweater has fit into my wardrobe. I didn’t expect to wear it so much!
The yarn is Berroco Blackstone Tweed, and it’s fascinating yarn. It looks pretty drab and sad while you’re knitting with it, but it blooms and perks up when you block it. I knit this on 5mm needles, and I liked the final look, but was a bit worried that the gauge was too loose, despite what my blocked swatch indicated. It all worked out in the end. The final fabric has a slight halo and nice drape, and it’s super light but still quite warm.
For the shaping, I just switched to stockinette when I ran out of room for a lace repeat. I thought it was a rather inelegant solution, but I actually really like the way it looks now that the sweater is done. There were lots of things I was unsure about when making this sweater, but now that it’s done, I love everything about it.
Plopped in front of an episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates with a big mug of milky tea by my side, I’ve been knitting a pair of fingerless mitts for the little pattern collection I’m working on. I can’t believe how quick they are to knit! Compared to the sweaters I’ve been making lately, these mitts take no time at all. I find myself wishing that I had ideas for accessories more frequently. Quick projects like this are so satisfying, but my brain seems to be stuck on sweater mode.
I’m really excited to share with you my latest pattern. Last summer, this sweater was my big experiment. Could I design a crocheted garment? The answer was yes, and the next question was could I write a crochet pattern for a garment? That got a big fat yes, too! My test crocheters finished the pattern smoothly, and I’m happy to present my first crocheted sweater pattern.
When it comes to garments, crochet doesn’t have the best reputation. The most basic stitches worked with the recommended hook size create a fairly dense fabric that isn’t always ideal for a form fitting pullover or drapey cardigan. Once you branch out from those stitches and hook sizes, a lot more is possible with crochet; it just requires a little experimentation. But what struck me about that dense fabric is that it would be perfect for a light weight jacket. The structure creates the right look for a jacket and supports the heavy zipper and buttons without losing shape.
Elsa features a selection of simple stitch patterns and a simple top-down raglan construction, so it’s easy for anyone to take on. The body of the sweater features a half double crochet stitch pattern that uses the back loops to create an interesting striped texture. The body of the jacket is cropped, and it has three quarter length sleeves, so it’s fast to crochet. The jacket is intended to be worn with 0-2 inches of positive ease so you can easily layer it over other pieces. I like to wear mine with my summer dresses because Seattle summers can be chilly.
The jacket is made using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport and a G/4mm hook. You’ll also need a zipper, and four buttons. The jacket comes in sizes XS-3X, with finished bust measurements ranging from 29-53 inches, and it’s available for $6.50. You can buy it now, or read more about it on Ravlery. It’s also available on etsy.
Oh, how I love books and magazines! This weekend we had gloomy weather, and my car decided that Sunday would be a good day to die. But luckily I had a collection of great things to read to take my mind off of the less pleasant parts of my weekend.
On Friday my copy of Pom Pom Quarterly came in the mail, and I’m a little embarrassed about how excited I was to see it. You see, it is the first time that I’ve been published in print. It’s a little silly that the in print aspect should matter so much because I write for a digital magazine and have been published a few places online, but there’s something special about cracking open a new magazine and seeing your work on the page. The adorable wrapping that Pom Pom comes in adds to that magic, too.
In the background you can see the other thing I spent my weekend reading, Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. It’s the last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and like all long series, it was a little bittersweet to finish it. I actually have had the book for a couple weeks, but I avoided reading it because I’m a little overly attached to that series. They aren’t brilliant, challenging books, but they’re so enjoyable, and of the series I’ve run out to buy as soon the latest book was released, this is the last one to end (although I’ve heard rumor that there will be a new Abhorsen book so maybe that’s not true). At any rate, it will be weird to not have a Sookie Stackhouse book to look forward to next May.