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Newsletter - October 2011
The month of October always comes as a surprise. In September we're easing into the new school year, in the Northern hemisphere anyway, then suddenly October is upon us with the astonishing news that there are only 2½ months of knitting or crocheting before gift giving time is upon us.
Here's news for Classic Elite fans. Patternfish is releasing the entire Fall 2011 collection of 100 patterns so we'll have all the up-to-the-minute designs as well as the classics - over 500 patterns right now.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything in the newsletter please send them to Gayle at email@example.com and send any other questions about Patternfish to Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime Minister's Choice
For variety, this month I've chosen one large company and two independent designers.
I really love these two Naturally patterns, designed by Gitta Schrade.
My description in the listing is over the top, but all true. Note that sweaters in the Naturally photos appear pretty much unblocked, whereas I was severe with the one I made for my little guy who was three at the time. I will be much gentler blocking the next one.
This is a fantastic design in a 14 ply or chunky yarn. It's dead simple to make, so it'll do a beginner proud. While you can absolutely see Sophia Loren or Capucine wearing it in the early sixties, you can see Anne Hathaway or Annette Bening wearing it now just as easily.
I think these either of these would make a perfect gift. Each is a bit unusual for its type.
These wrist warmers from British Katya Frankel are right on point fashion-wise, go with anything, and take at most only 140 yards (125m) of DK weight yarn. They would look great in any yarn at all and the pattern is insanely underpriced ($3 USD). Do check out Frankel's entire collection -- it's lovely.
This terrific scarf is not necessarily representative of Carol Sunday's body of work, which tends to be more feminine, but it does demonstrate her acute sense of structure and harmony. It's an absolutely perfect gift for the someone who's hard to buy for and it only takes about 225m/246yds of a sock-weight yarn.
I don't need to knit for babies very often, but from the first time I saw Bernice Vollick's Baby Compass, it's been the only cardigan I'd consider for the smallest folk. "Multidirectional knitting, no sewing" is how Bernice describes her aptly named design. She enjoys the challenges involved in knitting towards all points on the compass, but dislikes sewing. If that's all she accomplished with a design, that would be quite enough, but I think Baby Compass is destined to become a classic rivaling EZ's February Baby. And now there's a Junior Compass, too. Bernice provides both an excellent schematic and detailed directions so don't fear the multidirectional knitting, it will come together.
In this issue ...
From the Prime Minister's Desk
Part 3 of Julia's story about Patternfish, wherein Julia explains why Patternfish looks and feels the way it does.
I had my vision for Patternfish, the concept, the reason for existing, but we needed a tangible expression of that vision.
First, we needed a logo. My darling friend Kate Hollett and I had been best friends in Montreal in our early teens, and I knew her to be a superb graphic artist (her older brother Michael went on to found Toronto's NOW magazine). I told her what I wanted and could afford to pay, and she smiled and said Sure, she'd design our logo for that! So she did.
She offered a few possibilities but I liked the one we're using by far the best. Advertising giant David Ogilvy had said that you should make your name your logo if you can, and I liked all the colours-- we'd need something that could go with the colourway and photography of just about any pattern, and miraculously, it does. Later on when Kate was travelling (was it Berlin?) and we needed a square version of it, for Twitter usage and whatnot, Chancellor Shannon rearranged Kate's lettering and put that together.
Of course, we needed someone tech-savvy to design our overall look. I knew I wanted Patternfish to be informative and classy and elegant and fun, but who to make it so? I didn't know any great website-look-designers.
I went to Village Yarns and found my friend Patrick Madden behind their counter and explained what we needed. He immediately picked up the phone and dialed a number. "Tony, what magazine sites are you working on now? Oh? Okay. The New Yorker, Glamour, Teen Vogue..." and my eyes bugged out of my head. Patrick got permission to give me this Tony's phone number and email, and I contacted him on Patternfish's behalf.
Turns out Tony was the husband of another clerk, the lovely Rosa, at VY (alas, gone now) and flew from Toronto to NYC almost weekly to work on websites for Condé Nast. He was quick and smart and professional and obviously sympathetic to knitworld because of his wife. Incredibly, he and Rosa and their son lived just a few blocks from me. We talked about the look I wanted and he came up with some ideas very soon afterwards, like this:
-- which was perhaps not quite the thing, exactly, so what about this mockup instead?
-- which was also fun, and lively (check out his bogus designer names!), but lacked the sophistication I felt essential to getting people to take patterns seriously. Clearly I was undercommunicating. I sat down with Tony and explained that I wanted the site to have the lasting good looks of a coffee table book, and gave him an example (which my father had given to me for Christmas one year). Tony immediately came back with this:
-- which literally brought tears to my eyes when I saw it the first time; it was wonderful.
Tony came up with the cascading style sheets, tech guy Phil incorporated them into his code, and we were off.
Designer of the Month:
Which is your favourite design? It's the one I'm currently knitting for myself, a Diamond Yarn pattern, the Galway Highland Heathers Leaf Lace Tunic.
When did you start knitting? I first started knitting at around age 6. I used to spend a lot of time at my grandmother's house and she taught me each technique as I worked my way through a stack of vintage Barbie Doll patterns. Looking at them now, I can see they were pretty complicated. I think that's why I like shaped garments so much.
How do you describe the way you knit? I usually have 3 or 4 projects on the go. Always some socks, or "purse knitting" as I call it, because you must keep a small project in your purse. There is usually a simple "follow a pattern" project that I hope to finish in a weekend. Then I'm usually working out the designs for a new idea. And last but not least is the cringe- worthy "UFO" - that never seems to get done.
When did you start designing and what was the first design that you created? Which is the first that you sold? I started by designing doll clothes because that's what I learned to knit as a child, plus, I have a secret addiction to Barbie Dolls. The first commissioned design I sold (can you believe it?) was for hats that looked like black and white soccer balls for guys who must have been big soccer fans.
Where have your designs appeared? My designs have been published under a few different labels: Fondle Patterns (my label), Needful Yarns, Cricket Cove, Diamond Luxury Collection, Filtes, Lana Gatto and a few others. You can get them in printed form from your LYS or PDFs on Patternfish. I sell some of my Fondle Patterns through my own website and Ravelry, too.
Do you teach? I used to teach a couple dozen or so students every year when I ran the Mesha Wool Store. After it closed, I did private lessons once a week with a fantastic group of women but it's been years since we did any real teaching and learning. Some of us still get together once in a while but we mostly just drink wine and gossip now.
Which designers do you admire? I have always liked the clever designs by Norah Gaughan and the way she works geometric shapes into fashionable garments. She thinks a lot about construction and the way the yarn behaves.
Describe your perfect day. My perfect day would involve a lawn chair, a cocktail and some colourful new yarn! I'm very lucky to have had a lot of perfect days so far this summer.
In what ways do you spend your time that would surprise people? I do have another addiction besides knitting, which most folks don't know about. I collect Barbie Dolls. I have a HUGE collection- some from childhood, but many NRFB (collector lingo-Never Removed From the Box) also vintage, mod, superstar, 80's – ALL of them.
Where do you think the knitting/crocheting/fibre world will be in 10 years? The knitting world will flourish as long as the big fashion houses continue to show hand crafted designs and we, as knitters, teach as many as we can. I really believe the future lies with youth and designers have to make sure that we're in tune with what the public wants to make.
I imagine technology will have advanced and even more work will be done by computers. Ten years ago it would have been hard to guess how important computers would become to knitting but it wouldn't surprise me if the future sees us with mini computers in our knitting bags.
Where do you think you and your business will be in 10 years? I hope to be pretty much doing the same thing I'm doing now. I'm really quite content.
How did you come to the decision to list your patterns with Patternfish? I came to Patternfish way back. I've known Julia since her sales rep days and I was just starting Fondle Patterns when Patternfish was getting rolling. I'm grateful she brought me on board early on. On-line patterns are a great idea and they made perfect sense to me!
Tell us more about editing patterns. After I receive the basic supplies from the publisher, (a photo or the garment, ½ page of instructions, and a ball of the yarn), I may need to translate the instructions from Italian to English. Then I have to make sure that those instructions actually match the garment. You would be shocked at how many times there are differences. Sometimes the photo shows the garment backwards or inside out! I have to write the pattern to reflect exactly what the photo shows, so unless we can get another picture, that's what I must write.
Then I make a really big swatch, about 12" x 12", to make sure I can get the gauge in the stitch pattern with the needles suggested. I use the swatch to calculate the amount of yarn required by weighing the swatch and calculating how many meters per gram I get with this tension and stitch. Then I figure out how many square inches a ball of yarn can make and from that I can calculate the yarn requirements for all the garment pieces for each size. When I estimate the yarn required for each size, I ALWAYS round up. Math skills, a calculator and a good scale are critical to my success.
I begin to write the pattern by drawing a schematic, filling in the numbers (measurements, stitches and rows) for all sizes and making sure everything adds up. I don't use the original notes to write the pattern but start from scratch.
What was given to me as a half page of instructions usually ends up being 3 pages once I'm done writing. I'm very picky and explicit. I think that's what knitters want. I've had great compliments on my pattern writing skills.
Find Michelle Porter's edited patterns here and her personally designed patterns here.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
Anna Bell of Needle and Hook debuts with Cherry, a fitted cardigan that exudes sweetness. There's lots of lovely texture from the allover Little Birds cable pattern and waist shaping to ensure a tidy fit. The older folk among us might like to lengthen the sleeve past the elbow.
Patricia Van Ness shows her somewhat quirky and definitely playful side in her first design with Patternfish, crocheted Indoor Snowballs. Each one takes just ½ skein of worsted weight yarn. I'd like to see a whole collection of these tucked into a Christmas tree, then given to the kids for a post gift giving indoor snow ball fight.
Francine Toukou's first Patternfish design is her crocheted Simply Slippers, an easy design that cries out for embellishment with buttons, ribbons, bows or even a retro pom-pom. Two strands of worsted weight yarn are used, making a last minute gift (for a teacher perhaps?) ultra speedy.
Brenda Castiel debuts at Patternfish with her Belmont Park Hoodie for children aged 1 to 6, a top down, virtually seamless design featuring both fair isle and striped patterning. Castiel offers the option of a collar instead of a hood. It might be fun to offer the choice of colours from your stash to the lucky little recipient.
Collection of the Month
Our male Patternfish colleagues don't knit (although one keeps threatening to!) but do see lots of knitting and crocheting. They agreed to choose their personal favourites from the men's patterns for this month's collection. These would also look terrific on women, too, so if the boyfriend curse hits after you've knit one of these, be sure to take it back.
|Unusual and striking motif on the front. Reminds me of H.R.Giger's style. (Giger designed the creature in "Alien").||Good cables. I like chunky cables. Good honest collar.||This is a neat collar. It's got some cables in it and some ribs.||Geordie La Forge (Star Trek TNG) would totally wear that. That's kind of rockin'.|
|The words 'Not Too Fussy' in the title are your first clue that this is a good choice for a man.||The collar reminds me of a Karate gi, which is probably the most comfortable thing I've ever worn.||The slouch hat seems to be the style for 21st century. I'm not arguing.||Everything about this is great. The variations in colour ... the loose fit. The width at the shoulders gives it the look of a medieval surcoat.|
From the Ambassador's Desk
- Gayle Clow
This missive is being written, not from my desk, but from the sea side terrace of an apartment in Tribunj, Croatia, on a beautiful, sunny morning near the end of a holiday to Venice and the Dalmation coast. Naturally I sought out knitting and crocheting sources, hoping most of all to find a designer. And I did! More about that later.
When leisure allowed it and in airports and on planes, I've been knitting the simplest possible scarf in garter stitch with a y/o edging in Mediterranean blue fingering weight cashmere. Note to travelers: we passed through 7 security checks and only at one, Austrian, were my needle tips even identified as something worth investigating, but they were allowed with the comment "they are very short", too short to do any damage I guess.
The knitting highlights of my trip were finding Lellabella, a local yarn store in the heart of Venice, and meeting Monica, one of the store's owners and a talented designer of flattering garments for women. I saw two: a fingering weight lace tunic (expert rating I'd say) and a long, easy wrap/coat/cardigan. Monica offers her designs to yarn purchasers and customizes her designs to fit. Lellabella offers only Italian yarns in a beautiful shop. It's well worth a visit. I'd like to have Monica's designs on Patternfish one day, meanwhile, if you visit that wonderful city, do look for Lellabella.
I'll report on my other knitting and crocheting finds from my travels next month.