Tie-Dye Handbags

Dyed Felted Handbag

My birthday was last week, so my friends, knowing I’m crafty, threw me a tie-dye t-shirt party.  Of course, I had to try it on one of my handbags!

I’ve been thinking about trying to dye a purse for a while.  I don’t know much about dying.  My research just left me somewhat overwhelmed with choices.  So, this party was a perfect excuse to give it a go.  I mean, if I failed, all I was out was a couple of skeins of yarn and a little bit of time.

Tie Dye ShirtThere were 10 of us dying t-shirts.  We sat on the back deck and scrunched up our t-shirts.  We did the dying in the back yard so we didn’t make a huge mess in the house.  After an hour of drinking, the event was like a free-for-all!  Everyone was grabbing the dyes and squirting them on their t-shirts as fast as they could.  We had about ten different colors of dye, but we were running out of the popular colors, so if you wanted a particular color, you had to grab it quickly before it was gone.  As the birthday girl, they gave me about a five second head start, but that was about it.  Chaos reigned – and it was fun!

My t-shirt turned out pretty well for my first time doing this.  After everyone was finished, I grabbed whatever colors were left for my clutches.  Since this was an experiment anyway, I felted one clutch and just knitted the other one without felting it.  The clutch at the top was the one I felted before dying.  Wool repels water somewhat, so it was a challenge to get the dye to sink in.  Instead of creating a solid color, it left streaks (which I think looks cool!).

Failed ClutchUnfortunately for the other clutch, I only had black dye left.  A friend of mine dyed this one and smooshed the dye into the wool in an effort to saturate it.  So, this one definitely looked different.  However, this one was a complete fail!  The black dye washed out and left a purply-greeny color that looks more like a bruise.  I guess if I’m going to fail, I might as well fail big!  This one ended up in the trash heap.

Anyway, it was a fun experience.  Have any of you tried to dye your knitted items?  Did you have a good outcome?  If you did, please share your secrets of success!

Happy knitting!

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Coral Sweater – Finally Finished!

Summer Cotton SweaterThis sweater has been a challenge!  I think my biggest mistake was that I had a vision in my mind about what I wanted to create, however, I was using the wrong yarn.

I absolutely LOVE Bamboo Pop by Universal Yarns, however, a cotton/bamboo yarn doesn’t have the spring as a wool yarn.   Originally, I wanted to put in pleats and ribbing.  Not a good idea with a cotton yarn.  So, once again, I ripped out the project and started again.  This time, I listened to what the yarn wanted me to do with it instead of the other way around.

So, here is the result.  The yarn drapes beautifully, so I made it a little oversized.  In the body of the sweater, the diamond pattern made for an interesting texture.  The triangular trim on the bottom and sleeves was a fun detail and a good way around having ribbing.  I tried to recreate the triangular pattern around the neckline using crochet.

I’m currently working on the pattern to put on Ravelry.  Given how long it took me to create a pattern with this yarn, I think I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it now that Spring is here and I can finally wear it 🙂

Happy knitting!

Summer Cotton Sweater

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Pleated Cable Summer Sweater – Part 2B

PleatsThis post is labeled 2B because, well, I made a HUGE mistake.  I got to the point where I had to make the box pleats and realized that I didn’t have enough stitches to make the pleats.  In other words, I screwed up.  In a BIG way!

I thought and thought for two days trying to figure out if I could save this project without ripping it all out and starting over.  After two miserable days, I finally made peace with myself that I was going to have to start over.  Riiiiiiiiiipppppp!  Bye-bye sweater.  I hardly knew ya.

What happened was that I must have been looking at the wrong notes when I developed the pattern.  I try, the best I can, to make sure that everything works out perfectly.  HA!  The best laid plans, you know?  I had so many notes on this that I based the pattern on the wrong note.  <sigh>

So, I ripped it all out and started all over again.  It was a character-building experience.  Bottom line is that I’m now back to where I left off.

I just finished the box pleat row.  The picture above shows the left side of one box pleat.  Trying to knit through three needles of stitches was challenging, but kind of fun.  Now I’m off to work the ribbing section of the sweater!

Happy knitting!

 

 

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Pleated Cable Summer Sweater – Part 2

Summer Sweater Pattern

My yarn arrived the other day and I couldn’t wait to get started on my latest sweater design.  All my swatching was done, so I dove straight in.

I absolutely love this yarn – Universal Yarn’s Bamboo Pop (50% cotton, 50% bamboo).  It’s not very shiny either, like a lot of cotton yarns.  To me, it has the perfect amount of sheen.  It’s also very soft and light weight.

It’s rather difficult to see in the picture, but it’s basically stockinette stitch with three cable sections for the box pleats on the front and one for the back.  Since I’m not at the point yet of making the pleats, the cables look really far apart.  Each cable section is 16 stitches, so there’s 16 stitches in between each section for the pleat itself.  Once I fold everything together, the cable sections will be right next to each other.

I actually thought about adding more pleats, but, boy, do you have I have a lot of stitches on the needle to make the pleats!  Essentially, you have to double the number of stitches for each pleat.  Right now, I’m knitting in the round so I have 340 stitches on the needles.  That’s a lot of stitches!  When I make the pleats, I’ll end up with 64 less stitches for a manageable 276 stitches.

The stitches at the bottom also are rather loose as I used a U.S. size 7 needle.  I’ve now switched to a size 6 needle, and will switch again to a size 5 needle when I do the actual pleating.  I debated using only size 5 needles for the entire sweater and decreasing stitches as I went up toward the shoulders, but ultimately decided that it would look cleaner to just keep decreasing needle sizes.  I like to experiment when I knit, so… what the heck.  If I don’t like the finished sweater, I can’t always knit a new one!

I hope you are having a great day.  Happy knitting!

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Pleated Cable Summer Sweater – The Swatch

Summer Sweater

April was a brutal month of non-stop work.  Now that I finally have my first free weekend in months, it’s time to knit!

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been really inspired by the designs coming out of Balmain.  I’ve been wanting to make a summer sweater and have a pot-load of designs that I’ve drawn up over the past few weeks.  I have an entire series of related sweaters that I’ve drawn in my notebook that I want to work on.   I thought I’d start with something relatively simple for the first sweater in the series and branch out from there.

I bought a few different types of cotton and cotton-blended yarns and made about seven swatches.  While I really like Cascade’s Pima Cotton yarn, I ended up deciding to use Universal Yarn’s Bamboo Pop for the first project.

The swatch above is in the Strawberry color of Bamboo Pop.  I ended up buying yarn for the project, though, in Rose as I’m so pale that the Strawberry color would sort of blend in to my skin color.

It’s pretty easy to see that the box pleats were inspired by Balmain.  Since I rarely seem to make a simple sweater design, I’ve spent the past couple of days working on all the math.  I’ve also considered using multiple sizes of needles on the project, which meant more swatches.  I’ve definitely been a swatching fool lately as there’s nothing worse than spending hours working on something only to have it not fit when it’s finished.

So, I think I’m ready to start knitting!  I’m so excited to start working on this 🙂

Happy knitting, everyone!

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I’ve Become Obsessed

Balmain Jacket

I’ve never been a person that’s been a big follower of the fashion world, but I have to admit – lately, I’ve become obsessed with the fashion house Balmain.

I don’t know if it’s an oxymoron, but I’ve never been a person obsessed with fashion, which may be a little odd for someone who designs knitwear. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up and look nice when the occasion calls for it, but I spend most of my life in sweats or jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t go anywhere fancy anymore, unfortunately. I’ve always loved beautiful sweaters, though, so I love to make my own that are tailor-made just for my tall, long-armed self.

With that in mind, I’m always looking for inspiration for a sweater to design or for my handbag line. While I was looking at pictures from the latest Fashion Week, I discovered Balmain. Of course, I had to do a little research.

Balmain has gone through a few transitions over the years. It originally began with designs that were simple, tailored, and stylish. About a decade ago, they had a “star designer” who shifted their style completely to something everyone called “rocker chic.” Starting in 2011, a man named Olivier Rousteing took over as the head designer. It’s Mr. Rousteing’s work that I have fallen completely in love with.

Balmain has kept the classic clothing shapes, but uses beautiful fabrics, stunning fabric designs, and little extra do-dads that I can’t get enough of. The shirt or jacket or whatever you want to call it that I posted above, to me, is just amazingly beautiful. The collective of Mr. Rousteing’s work has just set my mind on fire. For the past week, I’ve been drawing picture after picture designing sweater after sweater and handbag after handbag. It’s been such a fun week for me, as I can’t remember the last time I was this inspired!

What inspires you? Is it a place? Or nature? Or another designer? And what do you do in order to become inspired?

I wish you all a great weekend! Happy knitting 🙂

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When A License Is Not A License

DSC_4160
I finally finished my University of Kentucky clutch! There’s a store nearby me that sells only UK goods, so I thought I’d see if they would like to carry my clutch in their store. The response was something I didn’t expect.

Given that I work 6 days a week now, I decided to run over to The Kentucky Store on my lunch break. I figured business would be slow then, so I’d have time to talk to the owner. I get there and they were a LOT busier than I expected. So, I walked around the store, looked at all the t-shirts and other lovely things they had and waited for an opening.

After about 10 minutes, they were finally slow enough for me to talk to the owner. He was a lovely guy and listened nicely to my short sales pitch – make in Kentucky, by a Kentuckian, and by a former UK graduate. He looked at the clutch, said it was nice, but he had a problem.

I went out of my way to buy a brooch that was licensed. I also made sure that the fabric I used for the lining was licensed. However, his concern was that, while the pieces were licensed, the overall finished clutch was NOT licensed. So, in the interest of being safe and not running into trouble, he passed.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought that transforming the pieces into a new whole could cause a licensing issue. I’m not sure if it’s an issue or not. The owner didn’t know either! I was so careful about the licensing thing and I STILL ran into licensing problems. I’ve looked into university licensing before and they only sell licenses to big manufacturers. They won’t even talk to small businesses like mine.

So, I guess I’m going to have to ask a favor of an attorney friend of mine to find out what the answer is. Definitely a road block in my way that I want to find a way around. University goods are big business. I’d love to get a piece of that pie.

Have any of you run into licensing issues before? If so, how did you handle it?

I hope you are having a great day! Happy knitting!

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When Work Interferes With Knitting

UK-Lining

I’m working so much lately that it’s interfering with my knitting. And my blogging!

While I’ve been trying to get my fiber business off the ground, I took a part-time job at a local CPA firm to make ends meet. However, I agreed to work full-time during tax season. Of course, once I started working full-time doing taxes is when I started getting a bunch of custom knitting orders! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it’s just that there are only so many hours in a day and social media ended up with the short end of the stick.

So, what’s been going on? I FINALLY made my first sale on Etsy! Yeah!!! However, the lovely lady wanted a custom-made clutch, not something I already had ready in the store. She wanted a clutch that was bigger than the ones in my store. I’ve been wondering about the sizes of my clutches, so it was good feedback to hear someone want something bigger. Fortunately, she made the order on a Friday night, so I spent that night and the next day knitting up the clutch and felting it.

While the clutch was drying, I got an order to make a cowl. I still haven’t started working on that yet as I needed to finish up my custom Etsy order and also finish up the UK clutch shown above, in which a local store showed interest. I just finished hand-sewing in the lining of the UK purse, so I thought I’d take a moment and let you all know that I’m still alive and well. Just working from 8 am until midnight every night leaves little time for anything else!

I can’t wait until tax season is over so I can go back and truly focus on my knitting. I haven’t designed anything new in a while and I have a lot of pages in my notebook that I’d like to try. There simply isn’t enough hours in the day to knit for fun.

So, I hope things are going well with all of you. Happy knitting!

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Fingerless Gloves

Cabled Fingerless Gloves

I never really understood the point of fingerless gloves… until now!  It’s been so cold INSIDE my house due to the deep freeze we’ve had this winter, that I rummaged through my yarn stash to find some yarn to make my first pair.

I found a free pattern I liked online and found some yarn that would fit the pattern.  Then I whipped up a left glove.  However, the resulting mitt was waaaaaay too big.   Unfortunately, I posted a picture of my monster-sized glove on my Facebook page.  The next thing I know, people wanted to order these gloves!

So, I scrambled to rewrite practically the entire pattern.  Made my first pair of gloves that actually fit pretty well.  Then started making gloves for clients.  On the good side, they only take a day or two to make.  On the bad side, I’m not charging very much to my friends who wanted me to make a pair for them.  I look at the whole venture as goodwill to those who support me the most.

I’d like to make the pattern available for free, however, I need to write the pattern.  I wrote most of it in short-hand only I can read.  I think I need to look at other patterns and how they describe making the fingers.  The first time you do it, the directions are pretty confusing.

Anyway, I’m finished making gloves for everyone else, now I need to make a pair for me!

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Happy knitting!

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The Quirk in Polyvore

Yellow and Gray Winter Wonderland

Polyvore.com can be a great place to get your products noticed in a relatively short period of time and to a lot of people. However, there is one BIG thing that they don’t tell you about the site.

From The Beginning

I discovered Polyvore from a social media friend who uses it to promote her jewelry. In Polyvore, you set up an account, “clip” your products (in my case, from Etsy) into your “items,” and then make “sets” out of your and other people’s items. Up above is an example of a set that I made with my gray clutch and someone else’s dress, shoes, necklace and earrings.  If you click on any item, it will link you back to where it is sold.

When I first started, I made a few sets, then people started “liking” and commenting on the posts. I liked and made comments on their sets and vice versa. Then people started using my clutches in their sets (which is a wonderful moment, btw). What started out as a few people using my clutches turned into 50-100 people a day including my clutches in their sets.

As long as the number of people using my clutches in their sets was small, it was pretty easy to thank people for including my handbags in their sets, to go to their sets, and like and comment back. However, when it exploded to 100 people a day doing that, especially around Christmas when I was busy trying to knit my presents, I found that I couldn’t keep up! I also found that I lost people looking at my items.  I’m not sure how I managed to screw up so badly, but no one has been using my items in their sets since Christmas.

Cut to: The Leisurely Style Blog

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Houda, from The Leisurely Style blog, included one of my clutches in a set on Polyvore, then posted it into her blog post. Yeah, someone likes me! They really like me! (Hopefully, some of you remember Sally Field saying that when she won an Oscar so the joke doesn’t fall flat!)

In my excitement, I posted the link to The Leisurely Style on my Facebook page. My sister, bless her, went to Houda’s blog, clicked on the set, then again on my clutch, and followed it back to my Etsy shop. Next thing I know, I get a message from her asking if my clutch was sold?  I checked – no, I still had one. Then came the bombshell – Polyvore said that my clutch was sold out! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

So, I recreated the actions my sister followed. Soon enough, I’m looking at my Etsy page saying it was sold out.  I mean, what I saw from the link looked JUST like my REAL Etsy page except that it said my clutch was sold out.  I go directly to my Etsy shop listings, and it says that I have one available. Then I went back to Polyvore and tried the links to all of my clutches. They all said “sold out.” WTF???

The Quirk in Polyvore

After a lot of panic and endless internet searches, I discovered that if an item isn’t “used” in some unspecified period of time, the link disappears and says that your item is “sold out.” It does this even if the item ISN’T sold out.

I still haven’t figured out what “used” means. Used in someone else’s set on Polyvore? Sold on Etsy? I’d also love to know why Polyvore changes my item to say “sold out.”  Why not “inactive?” Or better yet, why not leave it alone? And how much time do I have before this happens again? If anyone has any idea, I’d love to know the answers to these questions!

The Fix

I discovered that I had to re-clip my items from Etsy back into Polyvore to make the link active again. It clips right back to the same place so you don’t lose your “likes.” Unfortunately, you lose ALL of your tags. So, you have to re-tag everything all over again. Re-doing all the tags was what took me so long to re-activate every link.

Bottom Line

The good news is that I only had 20 handbags on my Etsy site. The bad news is that it took me about two hours to re-clip and tag all of my items on Polyvore all over again. Needlessly, in my opinion.

Who knows if I lost any sales of my handbags from this ridiculous policy. If you followed any link from Polyvore to my Etsy store, it looked like I sold out everything and had nothing available.  Sigh.

So, if any of you have items on Polyvore that link back to Etsy or some other sales site, you may want to check out your links!

Have a great weekend and happy knitting!

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