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Newsletter - January 2012
Happy New Year!
It's energizing to see an entire year before us. Twelve months, three hundred and sixty five days; but this is Leap Year so there's one extra day. Let's spend it knitting, crocheting, spinning, or weaving.
I’m very fond of Leap Year because 20 years ago I asked my husband to marry me on February 29th, a little hokey, but effective. I don’t have such an exciting plan for this year, just learn better to live in the day and in the moment, knit only with touchable yarns, and destash. (ed.)
All of us at Patternfish wish you the best in 2012.
We love to hear your questions, comments and suggestions about 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 Choices
Lovely, simple, unexpected, pretty, and plain all at once. Work in a cotton blend for spring/summer, a wool blend for a winter tunic. See Rose’s entire collection here.
We love Lopi and feel it is much maligned. Not everything can or should feel like merino. We prize this design because it makes the rustic Lopi look gracious and regal, and it wears like iron. (The editor adds: I love the way the cables flow into the rib.) See more designs using Lopi here.
For something different for kids, becoming, interesting to knit, and full of possibilities and impact in colour selection-- this is great. There's a cable-free, regular crewnecked version, too. See Elizabeth Fallone’s entire collection here.
I laugh in appreciation every time I see this. Gregory's pattern is excellent, and since the back is plain, it's a great introduction to intarsia. Super for using up oddments, and her photos of the colours used enable you to play with your own combinations just by mimicking the values she uses (i.e., the light/dark scale). See Gregory's entire collection here.
I work with the Patternfish design collection daily yet I’m often surprised by what I find. Recently I found two notable patterns, one jammed with techniques for the more seasoned knitter and the other, a gorgeous jacket for a beginner that would never give away novice status.
The Technique Teddy Bear from Heartstrings FiberArts (January’s Designer of the Month) is a silly and sweet stuffed bear simply loaded with seamless knitting techniques used to shape 3 dimensional forms: double knitting to create a tube, kitchener stitch, double knit bind off, knitting in the round and circular short rows, all in an small project that will catapult you to new knitting heights.
This cardigan from Sirdar is as stylish as they come but demands little more than knowing how to knit, purl, and decrease. It would suit any occasion from business meeting to playing with the kids to a night on the town, all depending on what you wear underneath it. There’s very gentle shaping to narrow the ‘skirt’ to the armholes as well as shoulder and sleeve cap shaping to provide a nice fit, but none of that is demanding. The edges are all finished in garter stitch for an easy, stay-flat finish.
In this issue ...
From the Prime Minister's Desk
We're very happy to announce a new innovation this month which will delight publishers and customers alike.
Each month our featured designer/publisher will choose one design that will contribute to the publisher's favorite charity. From the issue date of our January newsletter to the issue date of February's, Patternfish will donate $1.00 USD from the sale of every download of Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer's Thinking of You scarf pattern to WomenHeart (see Charity Selection for details).
The chance to support our publishers' favorite causes is something we welcome, and we know our customers will be as enthusiastic about the idea as we are.
And just a heads-up on next month-- in February, for the first time, and in response to not a few requests, we are going to be featuring lists of our best-selling patterns. Gird up your knitting loins!
Charity Selection by the Designer of the Month – Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer
I’m very happy to be the first Patternfish Designer of the Month to select a charity. WomenHeart is devoted to improving the quality of life and healthcare for women living with heart disease by offering comprehensive services and empowering all women to take charge of their heart health.
KNIT RED, the HeartScarves Project, created in 2005 by female heart disease survivors, is of special interest to knitters and crocheters. Women undergoing cardiac procedures receive handmade red scarves that offer them comfort, support, and encouragement. Having lost my mother to heart disease far too early, I gladly became involved in contributing hand knit red scarves and happily accepted their request to design a scarf, Thinking of You, to help bring awareness to the initiative.
Patternfish and Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer will each be contributing $1.00 for each Thinking of You Scarf purchased during January.
Designer of the Month:
Which is your customers' favourite design? The ethereal Flared Lace Smoke Ring is my all time best selling pattern and customers have been very enthusiastic about the Peak-a-Bead scarf since its launch last Spring.
When did you start knitting and who taught you? My mother used to knit socks for my father and I wanted to knit, too, but she said “no”. One afternoon during the required naptime, she left a sock in-progress lying on the bed. Instead of sleeping (I hated naps, anyway), I attempted to knit the sock. I made a mess. Worse yet, tried to fix it, and finally laid it down as if nothing happened. I was found out, of course, and she never did teach me.
So my initial experience wasn’t very useful. When I was 8 or so, I had the opportunity to learn basic knitting in Brownies (i.e. little people Girl Scouts). I had one ball of blue yarn and needles to knit 2-needle mittens. I never finished though, because there was not enough yarn. But I unraveled that yarn many times and re-knitted it while learning new things from a book. Pretty humble beginnings but all that practice must have paid off. I certainly got lots of practice ripping!
When did you start designing and what was the first design that you created? Which is the first that you sold? I first began to create designs in hand knitting as a young teenager; they were seamless sweaters for family and me.
It was not until many years later in the early 90's, though, that I disciplined myself to write instructions in a way that someone else could possibly follow. The Waves and Flowers Shell and Pinstripe Mélange Sweater were the first HeartStrings pattern designs I published and sold in 1994.
Where have your designs appeared? My designs appear primarily through retailers offering my patterns for sale in the US, Canada, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, and Australia. I’ve also done designs for yarn companies and in a few books. I retained publication rights for these and the patterns are available on Patternfish.
Do you teach? For a number of years, I’ve been teaching and mentoring through arts organizations, classes, and networking with other fiber artists. Although I no longer travel to teach in yarn shops and at guilds, I continue some online teaching and have tutorials available on my website.
Also, through the skill-building features of my HeartStrings patterns, less-experienced knitters learn new knitting skills while more advanced knitters can benefit from seeing or being reminded of ways to apply these techniques.
Where do you think you and your business will be in 10 years? Years before the widespread advent of the internet, my designs were shown and sold only at yarn shops and at fiber retreats. What has followed since then has been an internet explosion – first, expanding to online sales with printed-copy delivery; then even beyond that to online sales with electronic delivery.
If a fast-forward view 10 years from now will be anything like looking back 10 years, things will be even more different, especially in the way knitting instruction is delivered and used.
How do you feel about the "business" side of being a successful designer? There is much more to the business of design than just designing. The majority of my day is spent dealing with business. Since the business side uses a different hemisphere of brain than the creative side, there can be days and even entire weeks when I have not done any actual designing/knitting. It usually works best for me to isolate a goodly chunk of time to be able to concentrate on designing, separate from the responsibilities of the business side of things.
In what ways do you spend your time that would surprise people? My fiber arts interests extend beyond knitting to include spinning, weaving, dyeing and all needle arts. I also enjoy tournament contract bridge and music.
At one time I was on a path to being a concert pianist. It was a fork in the road of my life, and I chose a technical computer career instead. It has served me well, but I still love music for my own enjoyment.
I also get inspired to try new musical instruments. Right now, I’m learning about the Cajun diatonic accordion. I was so moved by a concert that I was inspired to create the Concertina Lace Socks.
How did you come to list your patterns with Patternfish? From the early days of Patternfish, I was impressed by the presentation and the potential. Julia was like the curator of a fine art gallery, giving thoughtful composure to reviews and providing value-add insights to knitters looking for just the right pattern. She wrote me: "I’ve long thought that if patterns were described the way fine garments are in catalogues, people would respect them more."
I saw that Patternfish was on the right track, anticipating a growing collection of quality, for-fee patterns and they had the backbone for a good search engine in place. Also their terms were fair. I had already had downloadable pattern platforms in place for affiliate retailers since 2006, so had historical figures for the actual cost of support and delivery of downloadable patterns.
We began with a handful of patterns in 2008. That was successful and October 2011 marked the 200th HeartStrings pattern milestone on Patternfish with V-Start Lace Neck Kerchief.
See Jackie’s entire collection here.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
We welcomed 3 new designers in December.
Regina Dambeck debuts at Patternfish with her Autumn Rose gloves, a carefully executed pattern in three sizes. Just look at the cable that runs up the little finger from the eyelet ribbing.
We are proud and delighted to announce that publisher Straker Designs has joined Patternfish.
Lots of knitters have cut their teeth on the gorgeous gansey, cable and lace Straker patterns over the past 3 decades and Penny Straker has selected her feminine Shetland Lace cardigan, designed in 1981 but still relevant today, as her first design to be offered on Patternfish.
Penny’s mom, Janice was a designer; too, a partner of Penny’s when she opened her knitting shop in Massachusetts. Janice passed away in 1984 but her designs live on. Nordic is a classic cardigan of a simpler sort featuring beautifully constructed raglan sleeves and the ancient Tree of Life pattern.
Collection of the Month
What’s more appropriate to knit right now, in the Northern hemisphere, anyway, than something that will keep you warm both as you knit it and when you’re done.
From the Ambassador's Desk
- Gayle Clow
Designer Fiona Ellis is a gifted teacher and a delight to share a coffee or a beer with. She’s taking over the Ambassador’s Desk this month to tell us about creation of the “Human Cable”.
Ellis: I have always thought of cables in almost human terms and use descriptions in my classes that reflect this, for example, when working a cable cross which involves both knit and purl stitches and we need to see the knit stitches on the public side, I tell my students to think of the knits being like divas, they need to be up front at center stage. The purls then play the back-up role like back-up dancers or singers. (What a great name for a troupe, “The Purls”!) I continue with this image by teaching that when knits become purls and vice versa, costume changes happen and this needs to be done backstage so that it’s not visible to the audience.
I like to respond to each classroom situation and the individuals present and often there is an improvisational element. I was teaching at the Green Mountain Spinnery’s retreat recently and Eric, one of the co-owners, wondered if we could make knitting into some kind of performance. I recognized a great idea and the “Human Cable” was born.
To show my class how to work a T5LP*, I got 5 of the students to stand up and represent the stitches involved. The whole class was laughing as we did it. At first I thought this was just an amusing interlude (I always make sure that my classes are entertaining as well as informative), but then I realized that because of the unorthodox way we represented the stitches that the students will probably never forget it.
Now that I have added the “Human Cable” to my teaching repertoire, I can see it becoming a performance piece with arm and body actions to identify both the outgoing knit stitches and the shy purl stitches. I am also thinking about dancing a whole pattern rather than just one cable.
*T5LP: Slip next 3 sts onto cable needle and hold at front of work, k2 from LH needle, slip the purl st from CN back onto LH needle and purl it, then k2 rem sts from CN.