Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Quote I Heard All Day

“I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.” --Dorothy Parker
A man I care for is handsome...never ruthless or stupid. He's been in my head for many years, since I was a teen. Ain't telling you who he is because he's actually a financial services celeb, known by the press, globally. I love him.

Hi, I'm back! It's been a damned long time since I wrote a blog post. Why? Because I wasn't into writing anymore. Didn't have a job...and was dealing with finding one, which I still am. Knitting is my therapy. I've been designing numerous socks with lace patterns. Here's a picture of one that I loved making.

I'm going to photograph all of the socks I've designed and dump the patterns up on Ravelry soon. Was also thinking that I'd put them all in an e-book called "Sock It To Me!"

The wonderful thing in my life is my Mom knitting with me. She's my best knitting pal. Mom turned 90 in August and she still knits. When she wants a new project, I design one for her. Have done a vest, scarf, and cardigan that she's knit. Mom always wants some simple shit so I haven't thought about putting these up on Ravelry.

Other Design Shit

Being a lace fan means that I've designed a ton of lace socks and scarves. One scarf pattern is lovely but needs to be steam-iron blocked.

Lace is my love.

Long Time Blog

I didn't write an entry on the blog's 11th anniversary, July 25, 2002.  If you read my blog back then, you probably remember how snotty I was, regarding the knitting magazines and some knitting designers. The blog was my grief therapy. Husband Jimmy had died January 30, 2002. We had been married since 1969 and losing him destroyed my heart. So when I discovered Blogger, I began this. The Knitting Curmudgeon existed prior to Blogger because in 1997 I created my AOL Member website, which was The Knitting Curmudgeon. Learning web development back then got me into IT ultimately. And now, as a senior technical writer and trainer, I still do some web dev if the job requires it. 

So glad to be back writing. I don't read knitting magazines much these days. Years ago, I bitched about Knitter's, Vogue Knitting, and Interweave Knits. Having been a magazine editor, I felt that I was correct bitching about these mags. Frankly, their layouts and photos have greatly improved. I don't knit other peoples' designs, due to my love of knitting designing. But when I wrote my interactive book, "You Can Knit!", Inkling is selling it now, with a freebie for beginners--the basic scarf directions. The book costs $9.99. It's also for sale in Apple Apps Store. My friends ain't buying my book because it's for knitting novices.

So, later, skanks! I'll blog again soon. It's time to get my ass moving.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Knitting Helping OK Tornado Victims!

Best Quote I Heard All Day

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” --Abraham Lincoln
Abe, my historical love of life, was right. Having been through a tremendously difficult period of life, moving out of my boyfriend's house, trying to support myself without a job or any health insurance, and dealing with pain, helping the Oklahoma tornado victims has changed my attitude totally.
So help yourself by helping OK victims! My friends Lars Rains and Holly Barcelo, who own Suburban Knits, have published a wonderful knitting ebook, K*tog; Oklahoma Tornado Relief ebook.

All money made from the book sales will be donated to Other Options, Inc., an Oklahoma City charity. Twenty designers, including me, donated designs for the book.
 Buy it! It's available on Scribd.

Keep your eyes on Suburban Knits too. It's a design collective, so if you want to publish your designs, go there. Their first "lookbook" will be published on September 3. The design deadline is over for this one; however, think about submitting your designs for the next one. I'm their knitting technical editor, so if you have issues with writing directions, I'll help you.

Later this week, I'll finally write about charting apps. I'm hoping to teach knitting design beginners at Vogue Knitting Live NYC, how to use Microsoft Office apps to create schematics, charts, and a little pattern directions calculator. If this doesn't happen, I will do videos and put them up here for free.

Later, skanks. If you buy this book, love ya!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yo, Designers...Write It Right!

Best Quote I Heard All Day

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”  Stephen King

Way back when, editors always used blue pencils to mark manuscripts. Yes, I did that too. Back when I began editing in 1983, I'd sit at my desk with the pencil. Now I simply use Word's Track Changes.

Busy editing for Yarnwise, that lovely British knitting magazine. In 2011, I started this-- Write it Right. Knitting Tech Writing for Dummies. Part 1. Now that I am back editing directions, it's time to continue this  series because many designers don't have a clue.

Part II: Listen to the Foghorn: How to Write Clear Directions

Before you submit a design, you'd better pull your directions together. Obviously, if you or your knitting assistant are making the piece, you'll need decent directions right off the bat. 

First off, read the magazine's pattern directions. Most magazines will give you their style sheets and possibly a directions template. However, if you're selling your designs online, you have the opportunity to add a lot more info. And make a lot more errors if you're not careful.

Magazines have X amount of space for directions, due to ad placements, so you can't add an entire page of designer notes that contain minor information that the user should know. For example, if you specify the cast-on method, the magazine will have the instructions in their reference section.

However, if you're dumping your design on Ravelry, Patternfish, or via Etsy, you need to give your knitters instructions for methods and techniques. What you can do is see if there's a YouTube video that displays the technique or written method directions on a site so you can shove the link into your directions. Doing an illustration for the method can be tricky if you don't draw.

Many designers do what's called "needle designing" before they set up the directions completely. Yes, do your sizing immediately. Here's what hit me last week. Check out my Aran vest design swatch.

Originally it was gonna be made with Louet Gems Sport Weight but I decided that I wanted to use Aran weight so it was Cascade 220 that I selected. And what was the fuckup? The original design worked fine in sport weight but with the bigger gauge on worsted weight, I had to dump part of the pattern. This came up when I began sizing my directions. 

Why? Because the armhole decreases for smaller sizes would have entered the cabling. NO! With Aran designs, you always place a basic knit/purl pattern on both sides so that when you decrease for the armholes, you won't hit the main stuff. 

Once you've draft-sized your design, get the directions going. Writing clearly means that you've got to trash your brain and pretend that you're a novice knitter. Don't presume that users know what you do. And try to give the directions to a novice knitter too. They'll let you know "WTF are you saying?"

The one big issue I have seen as a knitting technical editor is designers who write their directions in huge single paragraphs, with junky steps. When you view published directions, you can see that the text is separated so that your eyes don't pop out. And remember what "assume" means? Makes an ass outta you and me. Heh.

Temple of Templates

Make yourself a Word template for your designs. And use it from the beginning. Do a SaveAs with your design title so that you can start your directions immediately. Even though I do have a design notebook that I can carry in my bag, when I put in new info, I add it to the design file asap. Here's a look at my directions template. The first page is the title page, with a picture of the design, descriptive text, the sizes, and the Craft Yarn Council Skill and Yarn Weight Symbols. They are downloadable.
Here's the second page that contains my talk to knitters, "From Me to You" and the Materials, Gauge, Finished Measurements, and below are the Abbreviations, which didn't show up in the photo.


That's the second page. Here's where the direction text begins, on the third page.
A Word template makes it easy for you to keep your directions in the same formatting. It's important to do so if you're selling your patterns online. So as soon as you start designing, set up the directions file.

So next week, you'll have Part III: App Hazard--How to use computer applications for knitting directions. I'm planning on developing a workshop for this because it's a visual learning deal.

I'm moving my Steekin' Geek blog here. There's not enough stuff to write about on a regular basis, so I'll make it a little rare and handy column.

Later, skanks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Screwed it up? Knitfall, not Pitfall

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Summing up, it is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o'clock." Woody Allen

Expert knitters screw up their knitting too, even though most of them don't want to admit it. I make occasional mistakes and I'm about to add Knitfalls to my design directions.

Lace provides the stack of Knitfalls. What's the major Knitfall? Skipping a yarnover but making its attached decrease. The next Knitfall is fucking up a Slip1, K2together, Pass Slip Stitch Over (Sl1, K2tog, psso), the double decrease that shows up frequently in lace. Often its *yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo* and also *yo, sl2, k1, psso, yo*. And further on, the double decrease's yarnovers can be placed elsewhere. That's called "delayed increases."  Delayed increases provide a wave. So what's that Knitfall? Putting the yarnovers next to the decrease when they are actually placed elsewhere on the row/round because you've been putting the yarnovers by the decrease primarily and your brain and hands don't hit the delayed yarnovers.

Want another Knitfall? Here's one of my new sock designs with a slip stitch with yarn forward (sl1wyf) pattern.

Working it in the round helps to avoid this Knitfall...where you forget to move the working yarn in front of the slipped stitches. When knitting flat, you're more likely to keep the yarn in back and slipping the stitch(es).

The yarn for the socks? Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Rainbow. This will be going up on Ravelry shortly. My Punk Princess Liz saw them and said, "Wow Grammy! Those are Mardi Gras socks!" So that's the design title. Liz, now a Bachelor of Fine Arts junior at Montclair State University, still loves to be my sock model, although those are my feet in the picture above.

If you have some Knitfalls you'd like to share, feel free to comment.


Da Mags

Although I have my iPad Vogue Knitting subscription, I haven't bought the other knitting magazines in a long time. Because I design my own stuff, I don't do other people's. But last week, I bought Interweave Knits and Knitter's. Way back when, I bitched about both of them. And both magazines have improved incredibly. There are now so many knitting magazines, it's tough to say which one sucks. These three are now my favorites.

The two magazines that I always buy are Pieceworks and SpinOff. I haven't done any weaving in a long time but I'm going to hit my Schacht Flip loom. Can't fold open my Mighty Wolf loom because of the lack of room. But I'd like to get back into weaving. Interweave Handwoven is the perfect magazine for novice weavers. As is SpinOff for spinners.

Edit Time

I'm about to tech edit for Yarnwise, a UK knitting magazine. And my friend Lars Rains's Lopi book. Lars is a rare and handy Lopi designer. I'll let you know when the book is published.

Later, skanks.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sockitis Gusset Remedies

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”  J.K. Rowling

Sooner or later, some damn idiot will knit a fucking book. Yeah, do the words via intarsia. Knitting has gone out of sane limitations these days.

So I'm still designing socks, finished all the lace designs. Rather than put them all in one book, I'm going to upload the individual patterns. All of my designs are cuff-down, not toe-up. Why? Because if you have a hefty instep, cuff-down socks will fit your feet far better due to the heel shaping. I have a couple of designs with short-rowed heels but I prefer a gusseted heel.

I've had people on Ravelry ask me questions about sock designing so I figured here is the place to yack about it. If you're looking to become a knitting designer, sock designing is a good start. If you're teaching beginners who are ready to make something, cuff-down socks are great because they include techniques that beginners need to learn--increase and decrease types, shortrowing, stitch pick-up, and grafting.

Gapped Out Gusset

Many people don't like to do a standard heel gusset due to the potential heel and leg junction issues. I have a very simple technique that I use for my patterns. When you're done with the leg length and are ready to knit the flap, start off with one knitted row, then one purled row, sans initial slipped stitches. If you do the flap with nothing but slipped stitches at the beginning of each row, the first two rows with slipped stitches will make a gappy mess when you're picking up stitches for the gusset.

So after the two plain stockinette rows, then go for the *Sl 1 purlwise" pattern for the rest of the flap rows. Yes, adding the two stockinette rows means that when you pick up the gusset stitches, you will have to pick up either one or two extra stitches there. For example, if you have 15 slipped stitches on each side of the flap, you'll use those to pick up the gusset stitches and then add one or two more from the initial two stockinette rows. So you'll have either 16 or 17 gusset stitches, not 15.

Here's a picture of one of my gussets, done this way.
A perfect junction. What you need to do with the one or two added stitches is to decrease them immediately, on the first two rounds. Then continue the decreases every other round. Got it? Yeah, try it.

And when picking up the gusset stitches, don't forget to knit them through the back. Whenever you pick up stitches, do this.

Sockin' Needles

A while back, I wrote about Magic Loop and how I wasn't going to bother with it. Well, I was wrong. I still use double-pointed needles but often, depending upon the design, I go for Magic Loop. My favorite DPNs are my Signature Needle Arts needles. Fabulous pins!

What I like about them are the points. You can get either Stiletto or Blunt points. Mine are Stilettos, although if you have the bad habit of poking your needle point into the yarn, you don't want these. Plus, these needles are incredibly expensive--$34 per set. I also go for Addi needles too, especially for my circs.


Credit for Edit

 I've been busy writing directions but now that it's Friday night, I'm done for the weekend. If you read the comments in the last post, you can see that the editor of Yarnwise, a UK knitting magazine, left me a message. Yes, she has asked me if I would like to do tech editing for them. Yes! I love editing directions because I've done it for years and want knitters not to yell, "What the fuck does THIS mean?" My friend, Lars Raines, is working on a Lopi sweater book, which I will edit for him. Lars does beautiful designs so I'll let you know when it's published.

Another reason why I wrote that interactive book for Open Air Publishing. I love beginners. Remembering when I first got into knitting seriously, when I was 23, there was no internet, no training videos, very few knitting books, so I had to figure out shit on my own. I recall reading a vest pattern in a Mon Tricot issue, the magazine that taught me how to be an intermediate knitter, that had directions for shortrowing.

I'm saying to myself, "WHAT? Stop knitting in the middle of the row? NO!" And then I picked up some yarn and needles to see if this was actually a mistake or a real method. Duh. It was. Made a wedge. Wow! That experience made me realize that you can manuveur yarn loops in amazing ways. Shortrowing is rare and handy, for sure!

Later, skanks. I'll be back next week.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Memories of an Old Fart...Still a Kid. Heh.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us." Oscar Wilde

I swear to God, the older you get, the more important life memories become. Last week I saw my high school boyfriend, whom I had not seen in 44 years. I remember the first time I saw him. Me and my friends were all hanging out at a club for teenagers called the IT, held in a local church . (God knows what IT stood for.) And in he walks, wearing sunglasses. Hot damn! What a handsome, cool guy! We danced and I knew he was sexier than any other boy at the club. This was 1967. I was 17, he was a year younger and when we began going steady...a dating setup that doesn't exist anymore...I got a lot of "you're robbing the crib" crap from people. But I didn't give a shit and told them to go fuck themselves. Our memories flew back at us last week. Yeah, we're in our 60s now but both of us ain't old farts.

This month has another memory lane for me. Thirty years ago, I began my publishing career. One Sunday in February 1983, I was reading the New York Times job classifieds, looking for a knitting job. And holy shit! There's an ad for an assistant knit/crochet editor at McCall's Needlework & Crafts. The next day, I called the number, they had me come in for an interview, gave me a sweater for which I had to write the directions, and within a week, they hired me.

This was my first issue. July/August 1983.

The only reason I got the job was because I was a knitter. Not an editor. Gina Rhoades, the knitting editor, who had been with the magazine for years, was more of a crocheter and needed me to handle the knitting. Neither Gina nor I chose the designs. Lola Ehrlich, a former Vogue Knitting editor, was our Fashion Editor who selected the knit/crochet pieces. And besides talking to readers on the phone, helping them with knitting issues, editing the pattern directions, I also had to do the page layouts for knit/crochet directions. Yes, this is where I learned how to publish.

Now I'm running back to my original writing and editing.

Another Memory
Believe it or not, Mammy Ellie is going to be 90 in August and she still knits constantly. At Christmas, I had my sister take a picture of me and her knitting.

I remember Ellie dragging me to the five and ten store to buy me my own yarn and needles. I was 7 years old, a kid who was always bouncing and getting into trouble. She taught me how to knit so that I'd stay out of her knitting bag. Loved those colored plastic markers! I wanted them!

Design Shit
So now that I'm busy finishing my lace sock book, I'm using Ellie as a model. Here's one of the book designs on her feet.

Using family members as models is nice. I designed this scarf using Universal Yarn's Garden 10 Egyptian cotton lace yarn. Check it out.
That's my daughter Corinne. I gave her the scarf. Anyone who models for me gets it. The Punk Princess, my other sock model, has more knitted socks from Grammy than anyone else.

So I'm working on the final lace sock for the book and have started designing the book layout. This is going up on Ravelry, hopefully next month. Still gotta do more design photos.

Anyway, back to a weekly entry. Writing became so rare and handy. Now it's back on my typing fingers. I do have Dragon Naturally Speaking, the app that takes your voice and types what you say, but can't write by talking into a mic. My brain needs the typing fingers.

Later, skanks. Come back next Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy National Curmudgeon Day!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“Time doth flit; oh shit.”  -- Dorothy Parker

Yes, it's been six months since I've written an entry here. Well, now that I've finished writing the interactive book and decided to dump being a senior technical writer/editor/trainer, I'm back to my original work. Knitting. I'll be editing a friend's Lopi designs book, doing my own design work, and writing the blog once a week.

So my friend Monica shot me a message on Facebook today to let me know that it's National Curmudgeon Day. No shit! You know, I'm far less curmudgeonly than I was. Yeah, I'm gonna be 63 in April and you'd think that I'd be even more cranky. Not. My publishing career began as assistant knit/crochet editor at the long-gone McCall's Needlework & Crafts...30 years ago. So the joy of designing and writing knitting shit has made me a fucking angel. Now you'll read what I'm doing and creating...although I'll still have a bit of crankiness, no doubt. Heh.

Vogue Knitting Live in NYC

Gotta tell you all to get your asses to Vogue Knitting Live. Two years ago, I went to the first one and had a blast. The Sunday before last, I trotted into the city to hang out at the Marquis Mariott where the NYC Vogue Knitting Live was held, and go to the Marketplace. The Marketplace was filled with wonderful companies. I discovered Neighborhood Fiber Co., which sells beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I'm using some of their sock yarn for my sock book.

Fabulous fun. Yes, there were tons of people there but it was swell talking to strangers. I chatted with these beginners who were fumbling with their needles and little garter stitch swatches.
Was so happy to see my friends Carol Sulcolski and Lars Rains. I'll be editing Lars's book--he's an incredible Lopi designer. Didn't see my boy Franklin because he was teaching. Nonetheless, going to Vogue Knitting Live is something all knitters should try to do. The next VKL will be in Seattle the beginning of April. I would love to teach at VKL. Yeah, I do have a specialized workshop that I plan on submitting to Trisha Malcolm next week. After all, I've spent many years teaching people how to knit as well as working as a technical trainer. But even if I don't teach at VKL, I will continue to go. It's the ultimate knitter's conglomeration! So get off your ass and sign up for one that is closest to you, either Seattle, Chicago, or New York City. Here's the link. Click THIS.
Mar's Interactive Book...Where the Fuck is it?
I did finish the book early September. A ton of writing. Originally, it was to be published this month. However, due to a backlog with the developers, the publisher has put it off until November, in time for Christmas. They will set up a web page soon, a landing page where you can read about the book and probably see the cover. "Interactive" means a pile of 38 videos, lots of pop-ups, links, and other six of my designs for beginners.
When we filmed the videos, it was 100+ degrees that August day. Brett Bara, who does a crafts DIY show, did the videos. Sure, I could have done them but the publisher wanted someone who had experience in being filmed. Brett did a great job. Here's Brett and me at the shoot, sweating.
Over and Done
So next week, I'll put up some pictures of my design work for the sock book that I will self-publish and put up on Ravelry. The first sock book will be cuff-down lace socks. Here's one, called Diamonds Are a Girl's BFF socks. The next sock book will be Fair Isle socks, then textured socks, and finally cabled socks.
Writing a book is so rare and handy! And a load of stressful work But my mother is so proud of me. You know, Ellie will be 90 in August and still knits like a lunatic.
Later, skanks. Be back next week.