Thursday, October 23, 2008


Let's party!!!


This is very exciting for me... I have a pattern in the new knitty - surprise!



Yes they are socks inspired by Frankenstein. What of it?

By the way, I think these socks would look pretty cool done in just one color, sans stitching. So they don't have to be crazy.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Have a cupcake

We're going to celebrate something tomorrow... Get ready!

Saint Cupcake

Which one do you want? Claim it now ;)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cloth Paper Scissors Studios

Today I report that pictures of my "studio" have appeared in a magazine:

Cloth Paper Scissors Studios Fall/Winter 2008, published by Interweave Press.

The magazine features inspiration and ideas for your art and craft space. Which is funny since I don't technically have an art and craft space. I do have a living room and calling it a craft space sort of makes it so.

Joking aside, it's pretty neat to appear in this magazine and I'm thankful for the opportunity, naturally.

I was interviewed for Studios about my "studio", but due to space issues most of the pictures didn't make it in there, making my descriptions somewhat pointless. So I present to you now the full article, as I would have done it, had the magazine been called Star Athena's Studio.

My So Called Studio

star athena

What I do: Knitting and spinning

I used a recent move as an opportunity to redesign my workspace. I’ve come to Portland in search of the Good Life, and for me, that includes being creative every day. But my studio area doubles as my living space, so it must be organized. As a knitter, spinner, and lover of all things fiber, I found myself craving a balance of inspiration and usefulness.

Yarn on the bookshelf

I started with a large bookshelf and filled it with items that inspire me. Old coffee cans hold needles and brushes. A CD crate turned sideways holds a rainbow of sock yarn. I decorated the space with a screen-printed picture of a girl on a bike I bought from an artist on the streets of Lower Manhattan. . I love the moment it depicts – foot on pedal, about to push off and have an adventure. Inspiration? Check. Usefulness? Check. Organized? Of course.

My so called studio

In front of the shelf I put a unique wooden chair. I like to sit here and spin on my vintage Louet S10 wheel. My mom made the pillow by hand.

My So Called Studio

I spend many hours here in the month of July spinning yarn while watching the Tour de France on TV.

Spinning Yarn

Across the room is another cabinet with magazines, books on natural plant dying, pens, rulers, and a portable record player. Yes, I still play vinyl records and I love them.

My So Called Studio

My favorite new element in this workspace is the couch. It’s perfect! I love the shape, fabric, color, and overall cuteness factor. I like to stretch out here with a cup of tea and knit for hours. Sometimes I sit up late, sketching new patterns with a pencil in a simple spiral-bound lined notebook.

Pattern writing

I think the couch is fitting as the center of my workspace because it was made locally in Portland. I love the quality of life here and how people are active in making their own surroundings better. This couch represents my new life as creative pursuits take center stage in my journey.

My So Called Studio

Friday, October 17, 2008

Marigold Socks

As the weather starts to turn, the socks get a bit taller and brighter.

Marigold Socks

Pattern: Marigold Socks by Pamela Wynne

Yarn: Life in Lilt Creations Twist! Color: Sunny Days. Bought here.

Knitpicks Harmony 32" circular (magic loop), US size 1 and 1.5 (2.25mm, 2.5mm)

Pattern Review: I love patterns that are simple to knit but with results that appear more complicated than they really are.

These socks are worked from the toe up with a short-row heel, which I haven't done in a while but still enjoy. I basically followed the pattern as written, with a few changes I'll mention in a sec. The pattern is a variation on feather and fan, a well-known stitch that is very easy to do.

Marigold Socks

Modifications: I've got a few. I used "Judy’s magic cast on" because I've wanted to try it for a while now and don't do very many toe-up socks. I really like this cast on overall and far prefer it to the figure-8. No contest.

I also made the sock taller. I didn't want to alter the look of the pattern so I dealt with this by going up one needle size when it started to get snug. I hardly know if I'm supposed to mention this modification anymore since almost all of the socks I make for myself are taller.

I used the larger needle over the heel/ankle section as well to make them easier to get on and off. The short-row heel can be tight on the instep, depending on your ankle. I have narrow ankles but a high arch. A short-row heel with a larger needle worked perfectly.

I switched back to the smaller needle for the cuff and they do stay on well. I used Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind off for the stretchy factor.

Marigold Socks

Yarn Review
: The color is very cheerful, love love love. Jess at Life in Lilt custom dyed the yarn for me to make it extra orange. She is obviously a very talented indie dyer who really knows her stuff. You may want to check out her yarns before they get hard to find... The yarn is fantastic. Have you seen the heel?

Sunny Days

Fun pattern, easy to follow, great results. Highly recommended. I'll love wearing them on a dark and cloudy day this winter, no doubt.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Summer is over

1. It's 42 degrees outside.

2. It's raining.

3. I am longing to knit blankets and sweaters.

4. The leaves are starting to turn.

5. Burgerville switched from walla walla onion rings to sweet potato fries


I think I speak for all of Portland when I say that the blackberry shakes are lovely, but we're ready for the pumpkin shakes now. Thank you.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sock Design Workshop, part 1

Oh my friends, here we are again, in this place where I can't discuss most of my knitting. BUT I can share a few pictures from the recent OFFF, (Oregon Flock and Fiber Fest) which was a blast!


Today is the first installment in the Sock Design Workshop series, in which I try to share bits of knowledge I've learned over the last few years as a new designer. Not always about socks, but it is so named anyway.

I'm not starting in an obvious place. Why? I am busy these days working on a book proposal and I'm learning a LOT. The main thing I try to keep in mind for this current project is the same thing I consider when submitting patterns anywhere, so it is the perfect place to start, actually.

Take a sec to see another fluffy fiber friend.


Okay, good. Let's talk about the submission process. Yes, we'll talk about yarn, construction, design, concepts, pattern writing, etc. but not today. The process can be challenging, but like anything else, it will get easier with practice.

In General:

I am going to suggest to you that you treat a design submission the way you would treat a job interview. Take it very seriously, and do exactly what you're supposed to do. Don't send anything that you're not happy with, is incomplete, done poorly, or you feel you won't be able to pull it off.

Magazines usually post on their website their criteria for submissions. For some, it's through email, and others require physically sending in proposals with swatches. Read through the criteria several times and make sure you follow it to the letter.

Where to Submit:

At this point I have to assume you're already on Ravelry, if not, get thee to the Ravelry asap. There are often calls for submissions posted in the Designers group. Go to the forums and search "call for submissions" and see what pops up. Also look up the websites for Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Vogue Knitting, knitty, (etc. etc. etc.) and check out their submission guidelines. Yarn companies are often looking for designs too.

Most places will want a proposal. There are exceptions, like knitty. They will want pretty pictures of the completed item along with the pattern and a few other materials as well.

Really consider where you are submitting when you design. What is their target audience and skill level? Your design should fit their established style and the appropriate season.

A word about photos:

Take the time to do this right. I am always reading about how "my camera doesn't seem to want to take a good picture" or some other nonsense. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, it's more likely to be user errors. (shock) Sorry, it had to be said. To be fair, there are low quality cameras out there, and if you have one, you'll probably want to start saving for a decent digital camera if you're serious about being a designer. There are no acceptable excuses when submitting poor photos to a magazine, you'll simply be rejected.

A few basic tips: (please do more research on this subject, this is very basic)

1. Never ever ever use the flash, unless you are a pro. Go outside or use a good window or if you are really into it, you can build a light box. I just go outside.

2. Avoid direct sun, dark shadows, early morning and dusk. These things will mess with your color. Cloudy days are great. Overcast sky makes for great color, but depending on what you're shooting, the result could look flat.

3. Take 25 more pictures than you think you'll need. At least. You can delete them later. It's way easier to pick the best 3 out of 50 than it is to send only one because they all look bad.

4. Focus. Your knitting has to be in focus for submission. This is not the time to be overly creative in this area.

5. Composition. Give yourself multiple options. Avoid cliches like leaning on a tree. Do you have garbage in the background? Look really hard.

6. Edit. Crop and color enhance as needed. Learn how to do this.

7. Save copies of the photos you want to use and re-name them appropriately. For example, "Quant right side" - The more organized you are, the better you will help an overwhelmed editor.

8. Use models, dress forms, sock blockers, any tools you can to get the best picture.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but this is a good start. The main thing is to take your time and do it right. If you are a pro, these tips will seem ridiculous to you. If you needed them, I hope they help! Now, let's take a break and look at some more woolies.



Your swatch should be in your intended yarn. You can't send a chunky white wool and say, here is the cable pattern but imagine it in a lace weight red silk..." I can't believe I am saying this but you also have to block your swatch. Your editor may completely change out your yarn, color, gauge, whatever, but that's much later in the process. I also suggest you use yarn that is easy to find in a typical yarn shop.

Your Design:

Only submit something you know how to accomplish. Do not sketch out something beyond your skill level or schedule limitations. Do not propose a body suit knit in mohair on US size 0 needles, unless you are very very adventurous and can roll with the consequences. In short, every single decision you make should be intentional.

We will talk more about yarn and designs later, in another blog post.

Before I forget, WRITE A GOOD COVER LETTER! Again, consider it a job interview.

In Conclusion:

Be professional and nice. Keep up good communication and make your deadlines. This is an extremely competitive field and you have to find a way to stand out. You don't want to get a reputation for being difficult, late, and sloppy. If it goes well, they'll remember that they liked working with you and will want to again.

If you get rejected, do not take it personally. It could be for any reason, and unless they tell you why, do not use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Trust me, no good will come from that. Ask me how I know! Your design might not have fit into the current issue, plain and simple. Some very good designs out there were initially rejected by someone and eventually published somewhere else. It's no big deal, really. Don't give up!

These are the basics of design submissions. I haven't even mentioned self publishing. Obviously I have more to say on the subject, but perhaps we can chat again later, as this post has gotten quite long. Good luck!