The Photo Finish: Tips For Better Maker Photography - Photography is Light

The Photo Finish: Tips For Better Maker Photography - Photography is Light

Tips for better photos of your fiber creations. This week: I invite you to think about how you use light and how you can use light to take better photographs.  More importantly, I invite you to use your camera, whichever one you have, to see how your camera uses lights to create images.

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Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

We all know Mondays can lag and drag ... so why not make sure to start the week right? My gift to you and help spread the fiber love. So Check back to the Free Patterns Section every Monday morning to start your week with a fresh new pattern to create and make the week FIBER FABULOUS!

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Travel Season Is Upon Us... Grab Your Fiber & Let's Go!

Travel Season Is Upon Us... Grab Your Fiber & Let's Go!

Summer travel season is almost here. Road trips. Plane trips. Hiking and biking and all the good stuff. It is no secret that I bring my yarn EVERYWHERE. Seeing me at the airport with yarn in hand is a shock to no-one! Here are some fiber friendly travel tips. Never leave your yarn at home.

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A Crochet Sweater Pattern Worthy of the Drama of Mary Shelley!

The best thing about launching the Stitch & Hustle Kit Shop is that I get to work with and be inspired by so many makers and designers every day. It is the awesome circle of creative energy that feeds and drives more creativity. It's the good stuff.

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One gal who constantly inspires me and who has just dropped the latest Stitch & Hustle Exclusive design is Katie of The Queen Stitch. Oh yes, we have featured her many times because she is in fact... um... AWESOMENESS. I knew I wanted to add a sweater to our collective and Katie came up with a masterpiece. The Mary Shelley Sweater.

Read on and she will tell you all about it and you can get the exclusive pattern here.


The inspiration for the Mary Shelley sweater came from the streets of New York City, literally. The silhouette of this sweater came from a piece of graffiti in the LES by Bradley Theodore called "Pineapple Heads".

PineApple Heads by Bradley Theodore

 It seemed out there, dramatic, playful and fun - all things The Queen Stitch brand is built on, and pursues! I am always inspired by textures and shapes around me, and I love a challenge. I wanted to see if I could turn this piece of street art into wearable art (you can be the judge of that).

The sweater couldn't have happened without the support of Stitch & Hustle and them providing me with the awesome Wool and the Gang Feeling Good Yarn.

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The design features a high Victorian neckline, and is created using primarily shell stitch - hence the name "Mary Shelley" (though lit snobs will tell me she was technically of the Gothic era - I hope you'll all give me creative license to utilize the shell pun!)

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This sweater design challenges conventions with it's vertical stitching to create reach-out-and-touch-it texture. I hope you love it!

Get Ready For Spring With These Fun Projects!

Man depending on where you live you could be like me and just wishing Spring would in fact Spring already. At 3:15 Pm today, April 15th, my phone alerts me to "Light Snow Starting Soon" from my weather app. I mean come on already! I love winter cozy season, and it pays my bills. I love to play in the snow and go snowboarding (though I may not be great at it). But even with all my winter loving vibes I am ready for Spring to SPRING!

So I am playing Spring in my mind and rounded up some fun free Spring Patterns from fellow bloggers to get us ready and in the mood because I hope that any day now the clouds will part and the temps will rise and Spring will be here. So cozy up and lets dream of spring.

100 Swatches for The 100 Day Project!

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I am so excited for this you guys!!! If you read about or saw my interview with Jen Geigley, then you know she used the 100 Day Project as her catalyst to start writing her books.  I am so inspired by that concept. I decided to join this year's 100 Day Project for the blog and I will be doing 100 Days of Swatching!

Beginning tomorrow, April 2nd,, I am busting out those stitchionaries and getting busy learning and growing and skill building. Follow along on our Instagram Stories as we learn new stitches, try new things and grow our fiber skills over the next 100 days! 

Or maybe you have your own project!!! Join us and comment below if you are also doing this year's 100 Day project!!!
Find out all about it here.

Crochet Pattern Writing Part 2: But Wait There's More

I have gotten so many messages and notes since the first How To Write A Crochet Pattern post  (hey - thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and write me) that it seemed fairly clear that a part deux would be in order to give you more details to have success writing your own crochet patterns.

One thing that keeps coming up is this: Did I make it seem to easy?

Sure, probably ... but that's because it really is. To me at least. And I think that's because designing is a passion for me. It is like food. The more I do then the more it nourishes and feeds me and the more I grow. As a designer there is no end to that growth, while as a human I could probably cut back on the carbs. My point is that like anything in life you love to do and want to do well, then it will take some work. But the work pays off and it feeds the cycle. It's a good thing!

I strongly suggest you read the first post here and I am going to dive into a few of the most common / frequent questions I have received as a follow up:

First up: Sizing

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No, I do not make up my own sizing. But man that would save me so much time if I could do that lol. I follow the industry standard and in truth, most designers should be doing that so that you know your customers can rely on sizing information that is consistent. You can find the guidelines here from the Craft Yarn Council. And yet another reason to love the folks at CYC, you can print or download that information here and always have it handy!

Now, what size do you make?
Well, you can make whatever size you want. Typically I make things for myself so I design and make them for my size. But then I create the pattern for all sizes. This is where math and grading and the real not fun part of pattern writing comes in. It's math. It's work. But it is just part of the process.

Most of my garment patterns are sized for standard XS to 4x. That's because women come in all shapes and sizes and I have no idea what size my potential customer is. Someone once told me, "oh but that won't look good in your size" when I was a bigger gal. (I recently lost over 50 lbs). That made me so mad I wanted to scream. How DARE someone else decide what will or will not look good on me based on a number. With that experience in mind, and remembering I was also once a size 2 miss skinny mini me who liked a baggy look, I decided to make my patterns available in a range of sizes that are most common.

This is also why gauge and pattern notes are SO IMPORTANT! (READ THIS FOR MORE)
Let customers know if there is positive or negative ease. Let them know what size is in the "sample shown". Knitters and crocheters can tweak to their size with the right detail. So when you are writing your pattern give your customers ALL THE DETAILS they need to achieve your look and go for it - give them all the sizes. It's only a few extra minutes of math once you are in the thick of it.

Next up: Testing vs. Tech Editing

Personally - I do both. I have a tech editor and a pool of reliable testers. They do different things. My tech editor is checking my math, checking my notes and the actual pattern for best practices and that it meets industry standards. Sometimes when I am on a super tight deadline, my tech editor skips ahead and grades the sizing for me. (OK I may take advantage of this more than I like to admit but hey, I got my design mojo going). 

I have to say I have grown a very reliable and amazing group of testers that I am grateful for in so many ways. OK, mushy part aside, testing is really important. Testers are actually TESTING the pattern. They will find errors (if there are any) while working up the patterns that may get missed in the mechanics of writing and grading. There may be something in the assembly that wont get caught on paper until it is worked up. testing is really not to be skipped. It is always best to have testers for each size if possible.

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Next up: Copy Me Copy You Copy That.

OK that was me having a little bit of fun with wordplay. (anyone who knows I used to work in television production and knows what "copy that" means is probably giggling a little right now). Look, copying happens. I don't know why. I don't understand it. I also cannot worry about it. I was once not only copied, but the person SAID SO in her blog post. Yes, I kept a screen shot because I mean I could not believe my eyes lol. But here is the thing: if you are going to worry about copying then you are not focus on creating. I do not stress about being copied. It takes too much energy and there is nothing I can do about it. Just focus on creating and finding YOUR voice.

Designing is my passion so for me it is deep joy. Working up new stitches, new shapes, new combinations in my own point of views is not something someone else can do. So I keep focus on my designs and find it a much happier thing to focus on!

And Next Up: Policies

Policies is derived from "policing" someone told me. I am not here to police the interwebs or what other people do. Having said that, I have seen some cut-throat people do some cray cray stuff over this. Here is what I say: First of all: Ask a lawyer. No really, read this. Ask A Lawyer. (Thank you Vogue Knitting).

Personally, I have something on my patterns asserting what is my right and enforceable along with  my request that they credit me for the design if someone sells something they make from it. But guys - that's all I can do: REQUEST. Keep that in mind. This falls under the "pick your battles" in life column and my energy is not best spent chasing down something I cannot enforce in a court.

Last But Not Least: Photos & Charts

My patterns are quite detailed and include charts and photos. I take a lot of time (and pride) to include these along with the standard written pattern. Some have more detailed photo illustrations (which ARE covered by copyright by the way) and some have less. It really depends on the design. But the bottom line is consistency. I want my customers to know when they buy my patterns they are getting the full package. The full work went into making them a design and instructions they can follow. Sometimes I do freehand. Sometimes I use illustrator. Sometimes I use Crochet Charts. It all depends on the design. I know that is a bit of a dodgy answer but this question comes over to me a lot and it is really too complex to simply answer. Each design is different.

For real, Last but not least: Pricing & Paid vs. Free

What do you charge? Do you put it up free? Oh this is a tough one. I can only tell you how I decide and you have to make your own choice for what works for you. I put free patterns up on the blog often because why not or maybe as part of collaborations or for examples of my work or if I have something great and easy for a beginner who wants to start or for many other reasons. I like to put up freebies. But it is also how I pay the rent. It is my livelihood. So I don't put them all up free and a lot of work goes into each design.

I base my pricing on the degree of difficulty. Not just in the finished piece but also in the process to create the pattern. I also offer multiple pattern purchase discounts and do a lot of bundles of things that work well together. Pricing is personal. Never let anyone tell you what you "should" charge. But also know your worth. So set a price that YOU feel you are comfortable with, represents the quality of your design and that a customer will pay.

In summary, pattern writing and designing is not easy or fly by night and I do apologize if my first post gave that impression. Like I said - for me it is my passion and comes natural and I do not mind the work because I just love it. Designing is MY JAM! So I want to encourage you but know it takes work. If you have a vision and an idea for a design then YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT!  I will tell you that when I do not hear from a customer until the project is complete I am happy. I know I have provided them a clear road map to create something. I know that all that work was worth it and my design is out there living and being created. THAT IS SO COOL.

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Mama Knows Redux: Tips & Tricks Working With Big Stitch Merino

Since sharing my first project with Mama Knows Luxury, I have been asked about how the fiber works up. I am no expert on Merino Top (the official name for Big Stitch Merino) but have been working with this stuff for weeks now so can only speak from that experience. And my experience has been AWESOMESAUCE. I mean I have beat the heck out of it. I knit it. I crochet it. I frog it. I do it again. I have no complaints.

I am finishing a hat design, did a scarf and just published a free basket pattern after doing the barstool/placemats ... oh and I am kicking around a blanket idea. For real you guys. I JUST LOVE IT and am having so much FUN. You know I will always give you the straight talk about fibers. This is fab! It is big chunky merino and I was having a blast and it is super fun and holds up so far.

Sarah has a blog post that she wrote that dispels and explains many of the myths about working with Big Stitch Merino. And as I continued with exploring and playing with my Mama Knows Luxury stash, I also found a few tricks of my own. And now I will share those tricks with you :-)

Trick one: Do NOT pull it. No yanking, no tugging and certainly NO PULLING. When I frog the wool, I just do it a little gently. Then it stays pretty in tact with no fraying or separating. Also - when I frog it, it is better to leave it laying out yarn ramen style instead of making it back into a ball. This just keeps the fiber from one extra set of tugging.

 

 some rare occasional extra fluff

some rare occasional extra fluff


Trick two: Do not pull at it (in case you missed it the firs time). Yes, there is some shedding and I had two snag issues while working up the fiber. To me that is minor and nothing to fret about. Certainly not as many as you might expect based on the nature of the fiber. You may see a little morsel shed off here and there or even a little chunk of the fiber as you work up. LEAVE IT ALONE. Do not pull at it or pick it. Because then it will fray and cause deterioration of the fiber. What I did was just tuck it in. Easy peasy.

Trick three: Get the Felt Kit from Mama Knows. For real. This will be your new best friend. And, to be honest, I use it for my bulky merino too such as scarves and sweaters. I use this kit not just when it comes to the ends, but if a little tiny bit starts to fray off (which only happened once to me) then i just felted it back into place. Boom! GET THIS KIT.

Trick four: This is the mack daddy of all my tips. You ready? Hand felt the merino as you work it up. WHAT? That sounds so tedious and hard! Michele you must be crazy. Did you just say that? HA! It is so easy. Watch this little video and you will see it is so easy and so helpful. It secures the fibers. It toughens it up. It makes it your friend. It is a few extra minutes of work that will make your project come together with so much ease it is worth it.

Well, now that we've got a handle on how to handle this yummy Big Stitch Merino... how about another project? Sticking with my "More Than Just Big Blankets" theme, I came up with another fun home decor item. Super easy to make and great if you want to get your feet wet with Merino Top wool. I bring you: The basket. Again, I opted for hand crochet but you can certainly use the Big Stitch Hook. Get the free pattern here and get the fiber from Mama Knows Luxury.

So go get some big chunky fiber and explore... don't worry about those myths. Have some big ol' big merino fun!