April 21, 2015

New Full Body Trio pattern: Lopes!

Lopes, the second garment pattern in my Full Body Trio mini-collection (after Tionne), has been released!  (On ravelry here!)  If you follow me on social media at all, you saw plenty of peeks a couple months back when I was making the first sample – I was posting all kinds of close-ups on instagram, revealing things like the sleeves (and the fact that it was an item that had sleeves), the seed stitch edge, the drop-stitch wedges…

Ahh seed stitch, I do so love how it looks but hate the act of knitting it. Which makes it good for just the edge :) Sigh. I'm no good at garment design yet. My sample was sized SO wrong - there are eight of these panels of 26 rows, and for correct sizing there should have been 16 rows instead. The heartbreaking thing is it would have been WAY quicker to knit if I'd fig

#leethalPAD day 14: Jagged. Ziggy-zaggy drop-stitches in my upcoming pattern sample. This was my first time hiring a sample knitter for a pattern sample (shout out to awesome knitter Chantal, who I don't think is on Instagram) and it was very exciting to Sleeve #1, done!  I think I'm pretty darn happy with how this is looking! (Upcoming leethal Full Body Trio pattern.)

But the BIG REVEAL when the pattern was released last Thursday night was that it’s a cardigan that can also be worn as a skirt!!  TAH DAH!

Lopes! Lopes

It’s a springy/summery, drapey, flared, airy, swingy wrap cardigan, with short sleeves which can be turned in and laced closed, turning them into the functional pockets of the wraparound skirt!

Lopes Lopes

I made a video showing you how it works and some different ways it can be worn:

That was fun!  (Many thanks to Pete for whipping up that background music for me!)

Lopes! Lopes!

So, here are things about the pattern…  It’s written for any yarn weight/gauge, though nothing heavier than worsted is recommended, and working at a loose gauge for maximum drape is ideal.  (I made a prototype to figure out shaping/construction/size stuff, in bulky weight, and it is totally ridiculous and unwearable.  Part of it is that the sizing is all wrong, so that all got fixed in the pattern, but the bulky weight is really not a good fit for this item.)

Lopes! Lopes

The samples were made with Hazel Knits Lively DK, the beautiful Sedge colorway (which very much shifts colors depending on light!), knit at a very loose gauge (size US 8 needles on the shorter sample, US 7’s for the longer sample), and it was a fantastic yarn fit.  Hazel Knits is an awesome yarn company, local-ish to me in the Pacific Northwest (based in Seattle), and they do dye-to-order if they don’t have the color you love in stock – turn around is two weeks (or less!) on custom dyed orders – there are so many gorgeous colorways, it was really hard for me to choose just one, but I really love the Sedge so I made a good choice!

Good mail day!! That's @hazelknits DK in colorway Sedge <3  Can't wait to start knitting with it!

Lopes is custom sized to your body, using your own measurements, and you can make it shorter or longer, as you prefer.  You’ll need to make a good gauge swatch, take a few measurements on yourself, then fill out a worksheet with some math (very easy with a calculator app) to find your custom pattern numbers.  (This is the same as how Tionne works, except Lopes is much simpler than Tionne, fewer sections and fewer numbers to find.)

Lopes Lopes

The measurements of the piece are based on the measurements of your upper body, so the cardigan fits nicely around the back/shoulders, and around your waist, so the skirt fits.  The fronts of the cardigan are therefore usually wide, overlapping quite a bit, for a double-breasted kind of wrap style sweater.

Lopes Lopes!

The cardigan flares out a lot, which makes it nice and swingy and fun to wear…

Lopes! Lopes!

Lopes!

…but, as you saw in the video above, you also have the option of using ribbons/laces to cinch it around your body for a more form-fitting look.

Lopes!

Lopes! Lopes!

The piece flares out with short row wedges, worked with a drop-stitch pattern – the fabric is already meant to be light and airy, so the dropped stitches make it more so, and the garter stitch borders add some texture.  Of course, the skirt is designed to be worn over another skirt layer, or opaque leggings, or as a beach coverup, etc.  Even if the fabric wasn’t see-through, it would still be scandalous to wear it without something under, since it’s open in the back!

Lopes! Lopes

That wraparound, open-back design makes for a very comfy, moveable skirt, as you can see in the shot below where I guess I’m being a dinosaur?  Photoshoots are silly.

Lopes! Lopes

The sleeves/pockets are in garter stitch, giving them nice stretch while functioning both ways, and they have braided cables running down the centers, matching the braided cables along the bottom edge.  And eyelet holes around the bottoms, for lacing up the pockets.

Lopes!

They are worked last, out from live stitches left in the body, in the round with short row shaping.  Here’s a closeup of the sleeve cable joining the body:

Lopes

(Side note:  I had originally designed this with plain garter stitch sleeves; the idea to add the cables came to me as I was knitting up the sample, and I’m SO glad it did!  Test knitters agreed that the sleeves are one of the best parts of the pattern.  Love them!)

Lopes Lopes

The short sample has very short sleeves, which makes the pockets not very functional, only meant for putting my hands in; the longer sample has sleeves about an inch longer, making the pockets more functional, but they still can’t hold very much.  If you want really functional pockets for holding stuff, it’s recommended that you go about another inch or so longer than these sleeves.

Lopes Lopes

As you see, the sleeves can be worked in a contrasting color for a nice effect, especially when worn as pockets (I think).  These sleeves are Hazel Knits Lively DK in Low Tide (the leftover yarn from my Warren hat – those skeins are big!) – I love the subtle variegation just on the sleeves.  I think the whole piece is best in a solid/semi-solid, but that contrast works very well to my eye!

Lopes Lopes!

And you can play around with some other color pop ideas like I did in my longer sample – the beginning and ending edges are in a contrasting dark grey color (Anzula Cricket in Elephant), and the last panel is in a contrasting lighter green yarn (Anzula Cricket in Key Lime).

Lopes Lopes

As for yardage, my shorter sample used just under 3 skeins of the Lively DK – approx 730 yards / 670 meters total, and my longer sample used 3 full skeins plus all the contrasting bits, totaling up to approx 1100 yards / 1000 meters used.  I normally wear a size large; you can see my very approximate yardage estimates for all yarn weight and sizes here.

Lopes! Lopes

Let’s see, what else about the pattern?  Oh, buttons!  Buttons are always fun, of course.  Let me show you mine!  My yellow button came from an amazing little button shop in York, England.  I’d been saving it for just the right project, and I think it’s a perfect fit here!

Lopes!

And the second button there was found in my stash – I don’t know where it came from but I’m assuming a bag of old buttons from a thrift store, or from Knittn’ Kitten, since that’s where most of my random stash buttons came from.  There’s a deer on it!

Lopes

The back side buttons on this sample are yellow as well, also random stash finds.

Lopes!

The other sample features antler buttons, bought at Paxton Gate in North Portland.  Love them!!

Lopes!

Lopes

This sample is special, by the way, a first for me as a designer – I hired a sample knitter to make it!  Local knitter Chantal knit the whole body of the piece, and I just added the sleeves and did the finishing.  It was so weird and cool to have an almost finished pattern sample handed to me!  Hours upon hours of work that I didn’t have to do myself.  Not that I didn’t love knitting Lopes, because I really do love this pattern and I (mostly) enjoyed making the first sample, but, two in a row?  With tons of other deadlines and work projects on my mind?  The pattern would have been delayed a month probably if I’d done it myself, not because that’s how long it took, but because I’d have had to wait till I finished other deadline projects first before finishing it… Anyway, that made me feel like I took a new step as a professional designer, and Chantal did a great job, so hooray!  Thanks Chantal!!

Lopes!

And many thanks to my test knitters as well, but super especially to Megan, of the Stockinette Zombies video podcast!  (She shows her Lopes test knit in this episode, keeping the fact that it’s a skirt a secret since the pattern wasn’t released yet – thanks for that, Megan!)  I had a too-tight deadline for testers on this project, since I was eager to release it asap, and Megan is the only one who actually finished it 100% so she’s awesome.  (Don’t worry, other testers tested all the parts of the pattern, and the pattern was also tech edited – thanks Ashwini! – so it’s been fully checked and is up to my quality standards!)

Lopes Lopes

Okay now I’m going to get into a lot of detail about the design process for Lopes, so if that doesn’t interest you, just check out the pattern on ravelry and thanks for reading this far!  ;)  Here we go…

Lopes!

For my first garment pattern, Tionne, I blogged all about how I first got the design idea, and my design process… once I had that design concept in my head, I decided I wanted to do a trio of garment patterns, so I started casually thinking about other garment ideas, and the idea for Lopes just came to me.  I don’t have any kind of story about it; I don’t even remember how I first thought of it.  I just had a thought one day, something like, what if I made a really simply shaped, flared piece, in three panels, and there are sleeves which can fold in and become pockets, so it can be worn as a cardigan and a skirt?  Hmmmmm… and then eventually Lopes was born!

Lopes!

Oh but, my original design concept was for the three parts (the two sides and the center, between the sleeves/pockets) to all be the same width across, and I stuck to that all the way through completing the first sample, which is why this happened.  When it was done and blocked, it was WAY too big.  Horrible fit.  I was in denial the whole way though until it was completely finished, partly because the gauge stretched A LOT with blocking, and I’d measured my swatch without stretching it so much, so that was my fault and it really did get much larger than I expected it to… and part of my denial was just not wanting to frog and re-knit because I was in a big hurry to get it done and out to test knitters.  So, when it was almost done, only partially blocked, with the needles still in one half-done sleeve, I took some quickie photos to send out with my call for testers, and I really did think the fit was going to be okay at this point:

Lopes first fail

Looking back at these shots now, blech, it’s so obvious to now-me that the fit isn’t okay.  The sleeves are so droopy, for one thing.  Anyway, then I finished it, wove in all the ends and everything, and blocked it completely.  And then I did another quickie placeholder-photos shoot.  It was during this shoot that I reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was NOT OKAY and something needed to be done.  As you can see, I tried playing around with making it look cool as it was, but it just wasn’t working.

Lopes first fail Lopes first fail

At that time was when I re-did my original math based on the actual post-blocked gauge, and posted this panic-y instagram, when I was still thinking the pattern was okay as it was, but that the whole thing should have been smaller.  After lots more measuring, calculating, etc, I realized that actually that wasn’t true, and most of my sample was actually okay as it was (yay!) but the pattern needed to be re-written.  It just wouldn’t work for all three sections to be the same width.  So I re-did all the worksheet/numbers stuff, re-wrote parts of the pattern, and figured out how to go about fixing this sample.

I decided I could make the whole thing sized correctly by significantly shrinking the two center panels, and the sleeves; I tweeted about this and Kirsten suggested the excellent idea of grafting first, cutting second, so I could make sure the new sizing was good before doing anything permanent.  That turned out to be a REALLY helpful idea, because I did indeed need to unravel and re-graft the first panel!

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

So I grafted, un-grafted those stitches, re-grafted, it was good the second time, so I cut and unraveled.  Unfortunately, even though I was trying to be super careful, I cut the wrong strand (I thought it was the right strand! It was hard to tell what was happening!) and made a new hole next to the grafted stitches, so I had to graft that closed too.

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

For the second panel, I cut first, grafted second.  So then the center section was the correct size, fit to my body.

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

The other major re-do was to completely frog both sleeves, graft up the armpits several stitches to make smaller holes, and re-knit them.  Here it is after the first was finished, for comparison; of course, the bigger one is post-blocking, and the smaller one is pre-blocking, knit with kinky frogged yarn.  But I made the sleeves MUCH smaller, which really gave the entire sweater a much better fit!

Lopes surgery project

 So that was that – I re-blocked the center and the sleeves, and it fit perfectly!  Phew!  I was so relieved when I tried it on and it actually fit right, unlike the first time when I tried it on and kind of convinced myself that it was okay before finally admitting that it was not.  And the pattern got all fixed up and written to work for all sizes, and to fit right for everyone!  Hooray!

Lopes!

So, overall, even though it was an annoying process, I learned a lot, I ended up with the best possible pattern/sample, and it all turned out for the best!

Lopes!

Okay I think that’s everything I have to say about Lopes.  The third garment pattern in the Full Body Trio (Chilli) will probably be coming near the end of the year; I’ve got to spread out these garment patterns, they are exhausting for an accessory designer!  There will be some exciting non-garment things coming soon, though!  Happy knitting, everyone!

Filed under: clothing,knitting,pattern Trios,skirts — Lee Meredith @ 3:39 pm

April 13, 2015

Book review: Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

I am not much of a sweater knitter – I’ve only knit a few sweaters, in my 10+ years of knitting – but I am slowly trying to change that, trying to learn more about garment shaping and design, and making myself some awesome wardrobe additions, with the limited for-fun knitting time that I have here and there between work projects.  So, when the publisher (STC Craft) offered to send me a copy of this book for review, I was super excited – seems like a perfect book for learning more about different types of knit sweaters!

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting Sweaters Ever in Styles You Love to Wear is a book of super customizable basic sweater patterns, or “meta-patterns” – I love the illustrations showing the different versions of each pattern in simple line drawings, shown here on the back cover:

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

There are 8 basic meta-patterns – pullover, cardigan, vest, cowl (neck), tunic, wrap, tank, and bolero/shrug.  Each pattern is written for 3 different gauges, each gauge being a different style version, and they are all written for 12 sizes.  The patterns are all given in kind of spreadsheet format, neatly organizing all the numbers by gauge and size, and then each meta-pattern has a fill-in-the-blank worksheet version, where you can fill in all your specifics for the sweater you want to knit.  Great way to present these customizable patterns!

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

Each meta-pattern has three styles (each in a different weight/gauge), but there are a total of 8 different styles represented, so each style is only used in a few of the meta-patterns.  The styles are: vintage, casual, sporty, bohemian, modern, romantic, classic, and avant-garde.  Here are the three pullovers, in romantic, modern, and classic:

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

A big part of the point of this book is to learn which styles/elements you like best, so you can make your perfect sweaters that you’ll love to wear the most.  And I learned something about myself!  Based on style elements, the styles I love the most in theory, or that I love the most to look at and think about design and stuff, would be avant-garde first, and elements of modern and bohemian.  But in the reality of the actual sweaters, thinking about what I’d most love to actually have and wear, the versions I felt an instant I-want-that! connection with while flipping through the pages were actually classic, casual, and sporty!  I would wear the crap out of this texture-tastic classic pullover:

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

And, oh man, this casual cardigan, yes!  So comfy!!  (I also gravitate towards browns…)

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

And the sporty version of the tunic pattern – love it!!

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

I like a lot of the other styles too, but I’d want to mix and match elements probably.  Here’s the vest in avant-garde and modern styles – I really like the switching stripes in the modern one:

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

One of my favorite things in the book is the pages explaining the different styles – mood boards for each one, and detailed descriptions, including fibers, fabrics, colors, and examples.  Since all the meta-patterns don’t include versions in all the styles, these notes can help you to actually create a version of any meta-pattern in any of the styles!  Or a mixture of a few styles.  Like, using the weight/gauge from one style, but making adjustments to the fit, texture, fibers, etc, to add elements of another style, for a totally personalized version.

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

There’s lots of great technical info too, about fit, sweater knitting generally, using stitch patterns, changing up necklines, sleeves, etc.  Overall, totally my kind of knitting book, with all the customization and personalization, excellent stuff!

Knit Wear Love by Amy Herzog

So yay sweater knitting!  Now I just need a bunch more hours in the day so I can find the time to knit some of them.  Someday… There are several versions in bulky and aran weights, so maybe I’ll start with one of those so it’ll go more quickly!  Anyway, I’m glad to have the book in my library now so it’s there when I want it :)

Filed under: books,knitting — Lee Meredith @ 8:00 am

April 1, 2015

Glad it’s April 1st, no foolin’

Happy April!  I have a few things to blog about to start off the month… firstly real quick, I just want to let EU knitters know that you can now, once again, purchase my patterns through ravelry (or my website), including collections/ebooks, yay!

Next, I made a word list for a photo-a-day challenge for this month!  Feel free to repost this image anywhere you want to share:

leethal photo-a-day April 2015

I’m doing the whole challenge (planning to take one photo each day, each based on that day’s word), and you can challenge yourself to the whole thing as well, or you can just pick and choose some words that sound fun to you, or participate only on days when you feel like it, or whatever works for you!  Post your photos (tagged #leethalPAD) on instagram, tumblr, twitter, flickr, or anywhere else you like.  I’ll be posting mine every day on instagram, twitter, and flickr, and probably some of my favorites on tumblr.  This was today’s photo for April 1st, Sky:

#leethalPAD day 1: Sky. Snapped on the walk home from breakfast; I'm so excited about @PortlandMercado, opening up in 10 days!

Moving on… I have a question for you: have you ever had a weird issue with my blog, like a virus type thing (a window popping up that looks sketchy, etc)?  I just had a report that someone was sent a link to a specific blog post of mine and her Windows computer crashed, after first showing a popup window that she clicked on, and she was told by a computer repairman that my site had some kind of Windows-specific bug… Anyway, I am definitely not asking you to start clicking around, especially if you’re on Windows, because I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone else, but I’m just asking that if you have already experienced any weirdness, please let me know (email me at leemeredith at gmail dot com), so your input can help me get to the bottom of whatever this is.  (I’ve already done a lot of searching and scanning my site and blog and haven’t found anything wrong yet.)  Fingers crossed that I can find the problem and fix it and no one else will have any bad experiences on my site!

Speaking of website stuff, I completed a minor update of leethalknits.com.  It’s a little better for mobile now, I think, just some minor changes to the layout, and I’ve switched out a lot of the rotating background photos (in the top left-hand corner) for newer shots, so you can hit refresh a bunch to see some of those (there are 18 randomized images).  I also changed the all patterns page to no longer include the quick knits pattern thumbnails – there are so many patterns now, and I figured those can just be separate on their own page.

leethalknits.com 2015 minor redesign

So, I’m really happy to be starting a new month – March was really weird for me.  A lot of the time I thought the month was cursed.  A lot of stupid little bad things happened (like: needing new tires after having a flat, wasting a bunch of time+money trying to deal with a stupid plumbing problem and then needing to hire a plumber anyway in the end, my site being down a bunch, fearing my blog may have been lost forever, and then that possible blog hack issue, a big power outage, major ant problems in our house, blah blah blah) but actually some really awesome things happened between all the bologna.  So, I’ll share with you some of the positive highlights from my March!

upload A crater lake shot by Pete. #Repost @petebanjos with @repostapp.・・・@leethalknits in mid-shoot. There was still a bit of snow as you can see ...

Pete and I took a completely spontaneous overnight trip to Crater Lake last weekend!  I haven’t started sorting through my real camera photos yet (I took a ton, of course!) but here are two instagram shots above.  It was WARM but with tons of old snow – the best part was that the road from the main parking lot to the viewpoints was closed to cars for the winter, but plowed and open to people walking.  And we got there early since we stayed in a hotel somewhat nearby, so we walked a mile to the big viewpoint almost totally alone, and got to see the majestic views with no cars around and hardly any other people.  This is a major national park, which almost all the time is either A) open to cars and filled with people and tourist traffic, or B) completely closed all winter except to skiers and snowshoers, due to normal winter weather (at least, that’s what we gathered, I could be wrong, but I think the road we were on is not normally plowed during the winter).  So this insanely warm winter we’re having allowed us to have this rare experience of seeing this amazing natural sight in a way that hardly anyone ever gets to.  We felt SO lucky and happy that we made such an impulsive decision to take the trip!

Here's my dad looking out at Thor's Well. Such a fun day - thanks my parents! We saw three whales (!!) and tons of tide pool creatures, and seals from afar, and a giant puffin convention! Spending the day along the Oregon coast - the highlight has been seeing awesome creatures in the Newport tide pools, including some with blue glowing bioluminescence and many giant starfish!

And then, the days just before that trip with Pete, my parents came to visit, and we took them on a day trip to the Oregon coast (Newport area, then down to Yachats) – my highlight of that day was the tide pools at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport.  We went to see the lighthouse, but we didn’t know about the tide pools!  Such an amazing surprise!  I also have yet to sort through my photos from that day, but you can see a starfish above, and here’s a video of bioluminescence in the wild, soooo cool!!

My parents got into town this afternoon and we immediately took them to Pip's! My ginger molasses soy latte was amaaaazing!! Parents' last Oregon meal before heading back to California - breakfast at Jam, an old favorite! Yummmmm

We also took my parents to Corvallis (on the way home from the coast), up Mt Hood to hike to Mirror Lake, to the International Rose Test Garden, and (because it’s a required element of any trip to Portland) out for lots of awesome food!  Above is Pip’s Original Doughnuts and breakfast at Jam.  We packed so much fun times into 2 1/2 days!

@Yarniapdx wins for best signs! #rcyc2015 #rosecityyarncrawl rose city yarn crawlers

Earlier in March, I spent two days shop hopping with some new knitter friends for the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl – my first time doing that!  (I’ve had trunk shows for the crawl before, but never had actually participated as a crawler.)  I visited several shops out in the suburbs that I’d never been to before, and they were all really excellent shops!  Great job, Portland metro area!  I look a little silly in that selfie group shot above, but I think everyone else looks cute, so there you go.

I did this color workshop thing today (unrelated to the yarn crawl) and made this color collage, then mixed polymer clay to match the colors in the collage - it was really fun! #yearofmaking color workshop

And then, after a half-day of crawling, I took a color theory workshop that was super cool.  I made a color collage and mixed polymer clay colors to match the colors in the collage – all those colors were made from mixing bright fuchsia, bright cobalt blue, zinc yellow, and white clay.  It was lots of fun!

Betiko collection is complete! Find Zulo on ravelry or my site (profile link). You all liked that spirally photo of the final sample so much, that inspired me to make this as the collection graphic - thanks for all the hearts! Sleeve #1, done!  I think I'm pretty darn happy with how this is looking! (Upcoming leethal Full Body Trio pattern.)

As for work stuff, the March dumbness wasn’t just with home/life and website stuff, I also had some major frustration with knit design stuff.  Above is the happy bits – I’m so happy to have released the final design in the Betiko collection, and I love how Zulo turned out and everything, and I’m totally loving my upcoming design that I worked on throughout the month (pictured above right).

Using this silly mug my mom gave me because today I am Jane.

But, that upcoming design gave me lots of trouble… I spent a weekend going through some intense sweater surgery – ripping, cutting, grafting, re-knitting – and went through several major pattern rewrites throughout the month.  Three nights within one week I was up working till around 3am, to stay on top of my self-imposed deadlines.  All that trouble getting it just right was worth it, because I LOVE the final sample now that it’s fixed, and I’m REALLY happy with all the pattern rewrites and the final(ish) pattern.  It’s being tested right now, and I’m planning on a release date of April 16th if all goes well.

So, hooray for a fresh new quarter – after the weird, up-and-down, mostly not-great March I had, I’m feeling optimistic about this new month and ready for great things!

Filed under: knitting,leethal.net,personal,photos,portland stuff,random stuff — Lee Meredith @ 2:48 pm
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