Meow Cat Hat

meow retake 1

Introducing the Meow Cat Hat, sister hat to Foxy Business. I thought it was time for another ear flap animal hat, and who doesn’t like kittens?

The Meow Cat hat is ready for your roaming! Super cozy hat provides warm comfort against chilly winter days and nights. Cute cat ears top the fitted hat that also features ear flaps, and braids.

The finished hat fits heads approximately 12” to 24” (30.5cm – 61cm) in circumference. The hat can be knit in one of several sizes xs (s , m, l). Model wears size l. When one number is given, it applies to all sizes. When 4 numbers are given, the first is for size xs (12” / 30.5cm), the second for size s (14.5” / 37cm hat), the third for size m (18” / 45.5cm hat) and the fourth for size l (22” / 56cm hat). Note that the fabric stretches easily.

The original pattern calls for fingering weight yarn held double (182yds / 166m) per skein – two skeins are required of main colour. I used DROPS Alpaca in fingering weight. Scrap yarn is needed for the contrasting colour for the ears. The fingering weight yarn can be substituted with worsted weight yarn if you prefer, approximately 225yds / 205m required.

As usual, Katherine Vaughan has expertly tech edited the pattern and my Ravelry test knitters did a fabulous job with the hat.

The Meow Cat Hat is currently on sale on Ravelry to celebrate its launch – 25% off automatically at checkout until 15 February.

There’s still plenty of winter left to knit up this quick project. )

x Rena

Fall Round Up

The autumn has been a busy one so far. I thought it’s time for a bit of a recap, starting with Knit City 2013, which was held last weekend in Vancouver, Canada. It’s really exciting to have such a wonderful knitting show here in my backyard. The show was amazing, pulled off by the talented Amanda and Fiona of Knit Social. I’m still recovering from the busy weekend! There were 60 vendors and I don’t know how many visitors, but it was a blast.

I had a booth for The Red Fox and Gown, sharing space with Rain City Knits. We had our own space amid the vendors. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic knitters. I sold a lot of patterns and a few books too! I had help on Saturday from the lovely Brooke, seen hard at work in the photo below.

kc1

Brooke at work at The Red Fox and Gown booth.

Krista was helped out by Sarah, who is a big supporter of Rain City Knits and even does the occasional blog post for the Vancouver company, as well as yarn wrangling as needed as you can see in the next photo. Krista was too busy to sit still long enough to have her photo taken!

kc2

Sarah finding a new home for a fresh Rain City Knits skein.

The weekend passed by in a fun blur. The pace was nice and steady this year, and both Saturday and Sunday were busy despite the glorious weather outside. Knitters are a dedicated crowd.

Aside from Knit City, lots has been going on…

dr2

Double Rainbow is live in the new Deep Fall Knitty.

hood 2 small

Glaslyn was released.

And there was the launch of my new book Urban Knittting. No wonder I’m tired!

And that’s not all. There’s been plenty of designing and knitting going on behind the scenes. There’s also a backlog of design work due to the fall’s busy schedule. But when I feel like I am not getting anywhere, I step back and realize that actually quite a bit has been going on, especially with the Knit City preparation. Now life returns to normal, at least for the next little while before Christmas shenanigans begin. Happy November–or should I say, Wovember!

x Rena

wal_badge

WOVEMBER-Information-Poster

Double Rainbow in Knitty!

dr2

I have been bursting to spill the beans about my newest release, Double Rainbow, for months! And now I can! My pattern is in the brand spankin’ new Deep Fall issue of Knitty. I’m so excited that my pattern made it into this classic Knitty seasonal line up.

dr22small

Double Rainbow is a playful pattern based on the Internet sensation of the same name. The name doesn’t fail to bring a smile to my lips, each and every time. Then I sing the song: “So intense! Double rainbow all the way across the sky. Oh my God!” If you lean in, you might hear my photographer Sylvia McFadden singing the song during the photoshoot too. I have to say there’s been a lot of fun had with this project.

drs2

I should also mention that the fabulous, rich rainbow colours on this sweater are from Rain City Knits DK weight yarn. I used the Babycakes Sampler pack as I saw fit to make my very own Double Rainbow.

dr19small_edited

I hope you have as much fun with this pattern as much I did designing it for you.

x Rena

PS – Watch this space for another release coming very soon!

Project-itis Relapse

symphony fireworks

Project-itis resolutions go pop in the night like fireworks over the symphony in the park recently.

It’s easy to make resolutions. It’s even easier to break them. I may or may not have lasted 24 hours with my declaration to have a moratorium on all projects. It’s a project-itis relapse already.

It started with the textile illustration. This was justified in the following manner: it’ll only take an hour. And it did. But it was a gateway drug. This led to sewing a tote, including making the fake leather handles (!) from scratch. Oops.

Well, maybe sewing projects weren’t included in the moratorium on all new projects. Right?

Feeling virtuous, I took up one of my many WIPs that’s on my summer knitting project list. Yes, I have a list – it makes me feel organized. Or OCD. Whatever. That’s when I encountered a raft of issues with my project, and guess what? I needed to start over. Does that count as a new project? I’d like to think not. Just part of continuing work on an existing project. The project can take multiple forms, I tell myself. No problem.

So I’ve restarted the project and told myself no more sewing for now. I hope that this lapse is over!

x Rena

Design Update: Hatching Ideas

As eggs come in different sizes and shapes, so do design ideas.

As eggs come in different sizes and shapes, so do design ideas.

There’s a lot of wrangling in design work. Often, I work backwards: when do I want this design out? Then comes the reckoning…

Designing is a fine juggling act. Or possibly a chess game, where you need to think several steps ahead and schedule things. Otherwise havoc ensues before you know it. I have been juggling and chess playing for a while now.

In designing for knitwear,I need to work several months ahead, usually 3 to 6 months being typical for bigger projects. Sometimes I’m designing an entire year ahead. This is similar to fashion design in general when things are about 6 months to a year ahead too. The reason for this is not only to meet the call for submissions to magazines and the like, but even self-publishing as I mostly do, there’s several stages to the design process.

First I need to incubate an idea. Or eight. And sketch them down in my design book. Usually I sit on the idea for a few days and revisit the sketches. Sometimes I work on fashion style illustrations to visualize what a garment will look like on an actual body. I love sketching and planning out a design.

glaslyn start

Gauge swatch in progress.

Next step: swatching phase. I like this because it’s quick to get results.  To really start planning a garment, I need a swatch of my gauge for the design idea in question. The swatches really vary in size. Sometimes I make multiple swatches testing out different stitches and yarn colours. After blocking, I can then get an accurate count of stitches to continue planning.

Gregor_Reisch,_Margarita_Philosophica,_1508_(1230x1615)

I also use the latest in mathematics technology.

Then comes the math phase… admittedly, this is my least favourite part but I have to pay close attention. I can do this by hand for a simple design with calculator, pencil and paper, or for more complex graded designs I spend a lot of quality time in Excel making formulas. As I’ve mentioned before, I use existing standard measurements for determining garment sizing. I can spend a lot time making calculations and revisions.

Next comes the knitting phase, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. Partly this is due to the fact that I have various works in progress that I juggle between, usually due to scheduling practicalities further ahead. Sometimes I like to work on projects of different gauges to mix things up for my wrists. I’m always excited when I finish a sample and have a tangible result from my original design idea.

707px-Quill_(PSF)

The knitting phase mixes in with the pattern writing phases, which really begins back with the math. I take detailed notes as I knit.  I sit down at the end to write and formalize the pattern.

Camera_obscura

Photography! There’s both excitement and nervousness when planning a photo shoot. I have to coordinate not only my schedule, but my photographer’s too. Locations need to be thought about, lighting and more. Photo editing can also eat up a good bit of time.

Next stop: the tech editor. My patterns are then sent to the tech editor to check my directions, wording and math. Usually this is a couple of weeks’ turnaround time. Occasionally I also use test knitters too, which can add on a month to six weeks.

800px-Early_Egyptian_juggling_art

I also like to juggle like the ancient Egyptians did.

At last, with any necessary revisions made, the pattern is ready for general release. See how this can eat up some time? Right now I’m juggling several projects behind the scenes which are in various stages of the design process.

800px-Restless_flycatcher04

Sometimes I don’t feel so patient and I just want the pattern to be ready. 🙂 But slowly and surely, the hatchling idea takes flight and a new pattern is released at last.

x Rena

New Pattern: Granville Hat + Cowl

window_cropped

I’m happy to share that my latest pattern Granville is available for purchase on Ravelry and soon also on Etsy.  Granville features a ribbed brim edge and diagonal lace which slides closed with your favourite ribbon. So, when you untie the ribbon, Granville changes from a slouchy hat to a cowl.

granville 4

Special thanks go to my tech editor Katherine Vaughan who checks over my patterns and my Ravelry test knitters who did a great job. And thank you also to photographers Krista (of Rain City Knits) and Vasso who got some great pictures of Granville in action.

I hope you’ll try Granville out!

x Rena

Knitwear Fashion Illustration Tutorial

IMG_0860

Thinking out loud in my sketchbook for the Edinburgh Mittens.

Edinburgh Mittens in alpaca.

Result: Edinburgh Mittens.

My sketchbook is my brain… well, almost. With each design I create, I usually have a series of pages on how that design evolved. Often there are measurements and numbers, as in my photos for the Edinburgh Mittens and skirt. But there are always illustrations of the design, with variations here and there.

Not quite knitting, but same process for designing items for sewing too. Sketches and measurements everywhere.

Take for example a simple pullover. There’s so many questions that need to be answered in the sketch. How long is it? Where do the sleeves ends? What kind of neckline? And most importantly, where do I see this sitting on the body? So, most of the designs I have usually are based on simple croquis drawings to show how the garment fits and hangs on the body.

Croquis

A croquis illustration.

Now wait a second. What’s a croquis, you might be asking? A croquis is basically a quick illustration, typically a line drawing, of a real human figure. Usually these illustrations are made in a couple minutes, tops. Often enough, the same croquis outline is used to show a range of variations of the outfit or a series of outfits. You can even draw a croquis custom to your body or a model’s body to reflect the proportions of the garment.

Searching for the right collar.

Once I’ve done a few runs at the croquis, I usually have a series of other sketches where I’m working out details, like finding the right collar shape for a pullover garment.

So how do you make a croquis to use as your base for illustration? Yes, you can find them already made online if you want to skip this step altogether. But there are many benefits to making your own croquis.  You can find your starting point by using either an existing photo showing your body or even a photograph of a figure from a fashion magazine.

blog 1

Here’s a list of supplies that you need to make your own croquis and fashion drawings:

  • photograph  / fashion photograph
  • tracing paper
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • black ink pen
  • coloured markers (I like Copic)
blog 5

My original croquis. The numbers are head lengths and widths.

Place a sheet of tracing paper over the illustration and using your pen or pencil, trace the outline of the figure. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just a reasonable approximation. Draw a line across at the shoulders, bust, waist, hips, knees and ankles. You’re already starting to see some of the body proportions. Connect on the side the distance between the shoulder and waist, and then waist and hip, creating boxes like the shown croquis. Then, measure the the head height on a piece of paper, and use this to measure the total length of the figure, which should be around 7 heads high. You can also draw a vertical line through the core of the body, showing the midpoint. There’s a very handy video tutorial that’s about 10 minutes showing you in detail how to do this here.

Taking a second piece of tracing paper, trace the outline of the figure as your base. You can add as many notations from the base croquis that you’d like. For instance, you can show the waist line or centre line.  Then start drawing your garment over the figure, taking care to accurately show where your garment begins and ends and how you would like it to hang. Again, this isn’t a a perfect drawing, rather a quick drawing to help you design your garment.

blog 4

Then comes my favourite part, adding colour to the illustration, which really brings the drawing to life as you can see here. My pullover design (coming out very soon) shows the colour blocking, sleeve length and more. It’s really a handy reference for me.

sizing chart

My custom sizing chart in inches as based on Craft Yarn Council standards and British standards as adapted by designer Ysolda Teague.

When I use my illustration combined with the Craft Yarn Council’s body standards sizing charts, things start really happening. I can then begin to consider actual measurements in relation to my drawing. Basically, knitwear design comes down to a lot of measurements, which brings me to Excel, which really is a whole other post about knitwear pattern grading to make different sizes. I’ll save that for another time!

Are you going to make some of your own drawings now?

x Rena