Friday, February 28, 2014


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Lately I've been spending a lot of quality time with stitch dictionaries, graph paper, and swatches. A few weeks ago, I made a spreadsheet of all the design ideas I have, thinking there were eh, maybe five? Nope. Turns out there are 25+ well-formed ideas rattling around in there. With sketches and yarn and everything, a lot of them.

So in the past week or so, I've started the process of winding yarn, swatching, crunching numbers, and organizing my thoughts for several of them. A short trip down to the Portland Yarn Crawl with knitting friends this week added more fuel and inspiration to the flames. I'm still struggling with health stuff, but having school and design work to focus on has been keeping me positive and productive.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Madrona 2014

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Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune of participating in Madrona Fiber Arts down in Tacoma, Washington. This was my first time attending the market both as a vendor and as a patron, and it was a really wonderful and affirming experience. For four days, I was surrounded by yarn, gorgeous knits in the wild, and passionate weavers, spinners, crocheters, and knitters. I got to see Catherine Lowe's stunning couture finishing in person, chat with excited knitters about their favorite colorways of Madelinetosh, and squish lots and lots of yarn. I got some amazing books, a few yarns that are on my knitting bucket list (Toots LeBlanc and qiviut, to be exact!) and some yarn that just sang to me (3 skeins of Sincere Sheep Equity Fingering for a shawl design that is brewing in my noggin). It left me with a sense of belonging and excitement about this community that I love so much.

It also reminded me of something important as I navigate through the murky territory of wellness. I was in the Toots LeBlanc booth looking at samples, and the vendor showed me the difference between a scarf that had been knit and blocked only a few weeks before, and one that had been traveling with the booth as a sample for seven years. The newer scarf was crisp and pretty, but it also felt slightly brittle behind a light halo of softness; the old scarf, on the other hand, was fulled and strong from handling, and as soft as a rabbit's belly. It reminded me that the beginnings of things are so often the most difficult, when that fragility is right beneath an exterior of calm; that strength will come with time. And that's okay.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Folded Lotus: Pattern Release and Giveaway!

Comments are now closed for the giveaway! Thanks, everybody, for entering!

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Hooray! Hooray! The patterns from the Rastita Design Challenge, Ariel's and my Lab Rat Knits collaboration, are now available for purchase via Ravelry! You can purchase them individually or as an ebook. I loved every step of creating this shawl, and I'm so excited to share it with you. Big thanks to Ariel, Lumberjack, Sparklepants and all of my awesome test knitters for your feedback, photography, and support. It couldn't have happened without you!

You can check out the Rastita Design Challenge ebook on Ravelry here,

or click here to buy Folded Lotus individually:

To celebrate, Stariel & indie.knits are hosting a little giveaway!

I will be giving away two prizes:

    • the big one: a free download of the Rastita Design Challenge ebook and 3 skeins of Rastita to to make a Folded Lotus
    • the runner-up prize: a free download of the ebook

You can pop on over and enter Ariel's giveaway post too! To spread the love and keep things fair, we will be limiting prizes to one per person in the overall contest.

In order to enter, leave a comment on this post with:

1. Your favorite of the 3 color combinations (April, Retro, or Curiosity), and why you like it.
2. Your Ravelry name - this important, since this is how we will contact you!

Submit your comment by this Sunday, March 2nd, 2014, by 11:59 pm, and we will choose a winner via random number generator to be announced next Monday, March 3rd.

You can also check out our brand spankin' new Lab Rat Knits group on Ravelry!

So without further ado, here are your color choices:



2 skeins Sabiduria (violet) & 1 skein Chircas (olive green)



2 skeins Solis (turquoise) & 1 skein Cereza (red)



2 skeins Peacock (grey-blue) & 1 skein Lotus (pale pink) - sample shown in Curiosity


Happy Monday!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sock Monkey Time

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I've been ill for a few weeks with symptoms of a chronic illness I dealt with as a kid, and although it's nothing life-threatening, the next few days are going to be an truly unpleasant barrage of tests and appointments. To make it more bearable, I have a pile of magazines and books (New Yorker! Bust! Pom Pom Quarterly! BrenĂ© Brown!), a new pair of brainless socks to cast on, and my little pink plastic Fuckmonkey to keep me company. (Thanks, Mom!)

The sock yarn is Happy Fuzzy Yarn Corrie Sock, a 75/25 wool/nylon blend in the colorway Plumeria, that I got in a grab bag at Sock Summit 2011. I'm not always happy with mystery grab bag selections, but I was pleasantly surprised by this skein - it's a lovely mix of  cheery magenta, true red, pale pink, and bright orange. Hopefully they will keep me cheered up while I am waiting to be endlessly poked and prodded.

To that end, I may take it easy on the blogging this week too - I have some Madrona stuff to share, but I want to be be functional human being again before I gush about all the wonderful yarn and people I met there.

See you later!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Off Week!


Annnnd it's off: this week is booked with school, hella doctor's appointments (harumph) and last but best, working/shopping/nerding out at Madrona! (Squishy also has an exciting and full week planned. He will be extra busy sitting on Pooper's head, munching rat blocks, and continuing to plot my demise.)

See you on the flip side, probably with some shiny new yarn in hand!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Design Notebook: Tailored Jacket Patternmaking

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This week - after getting my Line & Proportion notebook signed off (yay!) - I started working on my Tailored Jacket for school.  It's one of the big things I need to finish before I can start on my Ball Gown, and it has to meet certain criteria to be approved; specifically, it has to have shoulder pads, a full lining, a two-piece sleeve, a tailored pocket, a mitered cuff, and a notched collar.

I designed a boring jacket that fit the requirements back when I first started at school, but late this last year, I came upon a photo of a beautiful two-tone Balenciaga suit from 1947 and was instantly inspired to design a new one. I wanted to retain the iconic New Look wasp waist with exaggerated hips, but make it contemporary enough to wear with skinny jeans and pencil skirts alike. Plus, I had to put on a bow on it, 'cause it was kinda Balenciaga's thing.

I started with my jacket sloper for the basic fit, and popped the bust dart into the princess seam.  I know from previous experience that for a good fit between my waist and bust, I need small darts at the side fronts, so I incorporated these lines into the design. The back has pleats that add a little extra fullness, which, combined with the bow, keeps the back from becoming a total snooze-fest.  I already have my fabrics picked out, and I'm going to start hunting for the perfect pink lining and vintage black glass buttons so I'll have everything ready to start construction by early April.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fashion Illustration: Vintage-Inspired Plaid Dress #3 & 4

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Yesterday I finished the last two designs for my Line & Proportion notebook! I used cut paper on the Town & Country illustration for the Rectangle Figure (medium/broad shoulders, small/medium bust, medium waist, medium hip), and watercolor on the Classic illustration for the Inverted Triangle Figure (medium/broad shoulders, full bust, medium/large waist, narrow hip).

For the cut paper illustration, I wanted to focus on the clothing and overall figure of the model, with other physical features - arms, legs, face and hair - fitting the aesthetic without distracting from the design. Although I wasn't sure at first that I liked the sketched body with the pops of color from the paper, it's grown on me a lot as I've sat with it - overall, I think the illustration gives the effect that I wanted.

For the watercolor illustration, I played with my Copic markers to decide on the proportions of the plaid before doing them in watercolors. I knew that I wanted it to be a large-scale plaid print, to keep the lines clean and simple for our Classic lady. After a little Google Images sleuthing, I decided on this clean, modern pattern.  I'm still learning my style when it comes to watercolors, but I'm really happy with how this one turned out!

It's funny, so much of this process has depended on my being super aesthetically picky, but if you asked me exactly what I wanted in each case, I couldn't tell you. I know the right thing when I see it - which is that annoying thing that people say, but it's true! I did a lot of research and preparation in this project, looking for just the right colors and proportions for all of my materials, and I really feel as though it paid off. I'll be the first to admit I'm no great shakes as an illustrator, but because of this project, I feel very confident that I can express both the vision and technical aspects of my designs in multiple mediums.

Now to finish the last details of my notebook and submit it!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fashion Illustration: Vintage-Inspired Plaid Dress #3

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Next up on my Line & Proportion illustrations, I'm going to illustrate a design using cut paper, with Town & Country Style on a Rectangle Figure Type.  I'm going for preppy, Ralph Lauren-esque style, so I chose a classic red plaid for the dress.  It was surprisingly tricky to find the right plaid - I ended up having to special-order it from an internet scrapbooking company!  It made me realize how lucky I am that the scrapbooking and card-making hobby industry is as robust as it is: although I was pretty picky about the scale and color of the plaid, I was able to find it in the end, and had even less trouble finding leather-textured and velveteen paper.

I need to experiment a bit with it - I'm hoping that it will read as sophisticated and not third-grade-collage-y! - but I'm hopeful that I can make it work.