Dec 13, 2018

Interview with a Designer: Ranee Mueller (Arabian Knits)

Another week, another interview:

 It was my pleasure to interview Ranee Mueller (Arabian Knits). Ranee is another participating designer in this year Gift-a-long.

I really love the design of her cowl Rabi photo bellow:

photo by Ranee 

     1.  What inspires you to design? 

          My design inspiration is at its heart my ethnic heritage and background. My parents are from Saudi Arabia, I was born and raised in the United States, and my designs are much like me in that sense. They are American/Western, but formed on Middle Eastern genetics and culture. So, the art and architecture of the Middle East can often be found mimicked in my work. Likewise, weather patterns are interesting to me, and I have done a series of accessory patterns themed on the Trade Winds found in the Middle East and North Africa. Trade Winds Collection: Texture

     2. If you could knit/ crochet one thing - anything in the world what would that be? 
      
          Ever? Or just a dream project? If it was ever, it would probably be cowls. If it were a dream project, I think a lace wedding veil for each of my four daughters. One day, I hope, they will want something like that from me. I would work with them and incorporate the traditional designs of their heritage, both Saudi and German (their father is predominately German, with a bit of English and French, and then a little of everything else), in the knitting. 
photo by Ranee

      3. Describe your ideal day as a designer, what would you do and what would you prefer not to do? 
      
          My ideal designer day begins with coffee or tea in one of my collection of knitting themed mugs. If we are talking truly ideal, it would be set on either the Adriatic coast (I recently visited Croatia and fell deeply in love), or the southern Mediterranean coast. I would be outdoors, knitting in sunshine, by the water, with my notes and a laptop or iPad so I could check in with other knitters on Ravelry and IG. I love to cook, so I wouldn’t mind breaks for food shopping and cooking, but if I had a day entirely devoted to design, I would definitely skip cleaning! 

       4. How do you start a project, with yarn, pattern, idea or what


        It depends on many things. Often I have a theme or title already in my head. Sometimes I see a pattern in nature, or on a comforter or even a shower curtain that sets me off designing. Recently, however, I purchased a few skeins of what I can only describe as a cloud in yarn form. It gave me the idea to make a soft, fluffy, thick cowl, using cables, which are some of my favorite things to knit. A cloud for one’s neck. However, I realized that clouds were so much not a part of my Arab culture and language, and I didn’t remember the Arabic word for cloud. We used it so rarely. I had to call my father and ask him what the word was! (It’s sah’aab, by the way).

5. What inspires you to pick up needles and start on the project? 

 
 Often an immediate need. We have eight children, and someone will need socks or mittens or gloves or a hat or a scarf or ankle warmers (we have ballerinas) or something like that. Designs, however, often tell me which direction they need to go. I really dislike stuffing dolls, but when I went to design a pattern inspired by the name of a child we lost, no matter how many ideas I brainstormed, I came back to a topsy-turvy, lovey doll. I struggled with that design, but in the end, it was exactly what it should have been, and permitted me to remember that child along with my other children who have patterns named after them. Rayan


photo by Ranee



     6. What do you enjoy the most about the designing and what you dislike the most? 

  I love the creative process of coming up with design elements and ideas and knitting them up to see how they work together. I hate writing the “romance” text describing the design. It always seems a little precious to me.

7. Are there any particular techniques you find challenging or impossible to work with? 

  Intarsia! I have still never done it. Also steeking, but that is just plain fear. I need to conquer that. Other than that, I really can do just about anything I want in knitting, though some things take more time and concentration than others.



     8. What is on your needles now?
    
          Actively? I have a pair of socks from the GAL almost finished. My designs get put on the backburner each year so I can focus on the GAL and take a little vacation from the work of designing. I have lots of projects that I have set aside for the moment, including a design for a set of hat and mittens that interprets the Eye of God Nebula with color and short rows. Lots of swatches are waiting for my attention, too.


photo by Ranee
     
     9. Do you work on multiple projects at the same time or single project?
   
         I get more finished when I work on one project at a time, but like any other knitter, I am often distracted by a new idea or pattern. However, I try to limit what I am actively working on to three, or four at the most. Usually, that includes something small or simple that I can knit while talking to people or out in public, something larger or more complicated that I work on at home, and something of another designer’s work that I knit on my weekends.


photo by Ranee

Where to find Ranee Mueller:



Dec 12, 2018

Knitting Pattern for T-Bone's Bookmark

Cat Silhouette Bookmark
Apparently this is one of my most popular patterns on Ravelry in my store. Link to the pattern is here:

Cat Silhouette Bookmark

Few weeks ago I received a message from a fellow knitter, asking if I would consider to create a dog's bookmark version. I have to admit, I like requests like this. It is an interesting element of designing the challenge to come up with something. The dog's bookmark was more difficult to create since there are so many various breeds of dogs and their shapes are so different.  I decided to use our dog as a model.

T-Bone and the bookmark
The pattern is available now and you can purchase the pattern in my Ravelry store, or by clicking on this button:




T-Bone and his Bookmark

Dec 7, 2018

Interview with a designer: Beverly S. (Yarnintercept)

Another week another interesting interview:

This time I was lucky enough to interview  Beverly S. (Yarnintercept).   She is another participating designer in the Indie Gift-a-long.
I personally am intrigued by her pattern for the Dark Passage Socks, picture bellow:

photo by Beverly S.

1.What inspires you to design? 



I find inspiration in lots of places. architecture, friends and family members, movies, the yarn itself, or stitch dictionaries. Sometimes I just want to explore what I can do with a certain kind of stitch. 


2.If you could knit/ crochet one thing - anything in the world what would that be? 



If time and my own lack of fortitude weren't a factor, I'd make a blanket with the world map on it or flags of the world. There's a flags blanket on Ravelry that I'm fascinated by. (I have a thing for Geography!) 




3.Describe your ideal day as a designer, what would you do and what would you prefer not to do? 



First, coffee! Then l would browse through stitch pattern books and do a few small swatches of a stitch pattern or stranded design - or I'd just cast on and start knitting. Swatching isn't my favorite thing...so I might get two or three rows in and decide I know what I'm doing! Creating charts for colorwork or cabled designs is fun. Grading sizes is not so much fun. 




4.How do you start a project, with yarn, pattern, idea or what? 



It depends. Sometimes a yarn decides it needs to be made into something, now. With my Wednesday Night pattern, I knew the yarn had to be a shallow, asymmetrical shawl.  Other times, I have an idea of how to use a stitch or combo of stitches and start playing around - In Reverse (the mitts came first) started with the stitch pattern and then I got wrapped up in the technique of knitting top down - that is, from the fingerless end to the wrist cuff. And sometimes, I am inspired and want to represent that inspiration - my Dark Passage socks were inspired by the movie of the same name, but then took off from there. It was my most technically challenging design - a two color cast on, two color cables, and a deceptively easy looking sole design that took a lot of time, and math, to get just right. 


photo by Beverly S.

5.What inspires you to pick up needles and start on the project? 



The need to create. To turn a "ball of string" (as my husband calls it) into something beautiful. 


6.What do you enjoy the most about the designing and what you dislike the most? 



I love when a pattern just happens effortlessly. Sometimes it comes off the needles with no problem and minimal reworking. I hate when I have to fight the stitches, the yarn, or my own stubbornness to make a design work. I dislike how much time it takes me to get a design out there. I'm not prolific because I have a full-time job as a math teacher, and sometimes, I just procrastinate. I currently have a design in the testing phase now that was photographed over a year ago. All I needed to do was finish typing up the pattern! 


7.Are there any particular techniques you find challenging or impossible to work with? 



I've never tried steeking or brioche. I'm also not a fan of intarsia. I've knit it out of necessity, but I'd never design something using intarsia as I find it way too fiddly. 


8.What is on your needles now? 



So.many.things. For the gift along, I'm currently knitting Claire Slade's  Midnights Owl and crocheting Rachy Newin's  Heart of a Rockstar Cowl. I also finished YOUR pattern, Cecile! Besides the two current projects, I have a mitten design that needs finishing, a sweater vest, a few pairs of fingerless gloves, socks, a shawl or two, a cowl design with just the ribbing done....I could go on and on. 


9.Do you work on multiple projects at the same time or single project?



Do people really knit one thing at a time? It boggles the mind! I am most definitely a multiple projects knitter. I am easily distracted by new yarn, a new pattern, a new stitch and I always have to cast on RIGHT.NOW. 

                                                                       Wednesday Night
photo by Beverly S.
Where to find Beverly S. (Yarnintercept):

Beverly S. on Ravelry

Beverly S. in Twiter


Dec 2, 2018

Knitting Pattern for 12th Hour Cowl

12th Hour Cowl
This superfast cowl is a perfect last minute handmade gift, for almost everyone on your knitting list.
Worked in super bulky yarn, it takes about two hours to from start to finish.

The pattern is available to purchase in my Ravelry store or by clicking on this link:



If you buy this pattern during December 2018, the profits will be donated to our local charity. More details on the pattern page. The finished samples were donated to our local library for the annual giving tree.

Thank you for visiting.

Dec 1, 2018

Knitting Pattern for Wine-derful Time Snowman Cozies

photo by I Like Knitting
A note from I Like Knitting Magazine: If you are dreaming of white Christmas, not to worry! If the white runs out, drink the red! These adorable snowmen make the perfect last-minute gift - Especially  if you're bringing wine to a holiday party and want to treat the host".
The pattern for these adorable snowman cozies is available on I like Knitting website and was published in the December Issue.

If you would like to subscribe, link is here:
I Like Knitting

Nov 30, 2018

Interview with a designer: Nailya Plaskey (Nailya)

In 2014 I did an interview with another designer and I loved that part of the Gift-a-long as it gave me an opportunity to learn something about another designers, their inspirations, and design process.  I wanted to revisit the idea this year and I have few designer interviews as my blog posts line up for this year Gift-a-long. Enjoy, and happy knitting.

Here is the first designer interview:

Nailya Plaskey (Nailya) is a fellow designer participating in the Gift-a-long 2018.
I am happy that she was willing to participate and answer my questions.
I personally love the Big Stitch Beanie, photo bellow:

photo by Nailya



1. What inspires you to design? 

I love the challenge of interpreting different images into a language of stitches. I feel powerful when knitting or crocheting, there's nothing I can't do or learn how to do when it comes to yarn. I want other people to feel the same when they knit or crochet from my patterns.

2. If you could knit/ crochet one thing - anything in the world what would that be? 

I would knit or crochet something for a movie production.

photo by Nailya


3. Describe your ideal day as a designer, what would you do and what would you prefer not to do? 

I would take a class in the morning, either on design or a new to me technique. Then I would spend the afternoon at a fiber festival spending time with old friends and meeting new people. In the evening I would be adding more rows to the exciting design I am working on. 

4. How do you start a project, with yarn, pattern, idea or what? 

I can work many ways. Either the yarn would be practically telling me what it wants to be, and I will start offering it different stitch patterns for consideration. Or I will have this image in my mind that I will think about if it will translate well to colorwork or textured stitches or cables or lace. Or it would be one of my three kids wanting a new hat with a pompom, and I would want for it to be truly new and unique and not like anyone else's hat.

photo by Nailya


5. What inspires you to pick up needles and start on the project? 

I think they call this condition castonitis :).

6. What do you enjoy the most about the designing and what you dislike the most?  

My favorite part of designing is when other people can recognize my idea. They: "Yes, I can see that!" Me: "Great! i wasn't the only one!". My least favorite part of designing is the amount of promotion a small indie designer has to do for more people to see his/her pattern. I am not very salesy, and marketing is hard for me.
photo by Nailya


7. Are there any particular techniques you find challenging or impossible to work with? 

My challenge right now is grading garments for multiple sizes but I plan to tackle it next year!

8. What is on your needles now? 

A second mitten for my daughter who lost one of a pair. A scrappy cardigan. Half a sock. 2 blankets. A shawl. I might be forgetting something.
photo by Nailya


9. Do you work on multiple projects at the same time or single project?

I have never committed to a single project. I do both knitting and crochet, so switching between them helps keep my hands healthy. I try to keep my focus on a main project, but others pop in queue depending on circumstances, like when I need something portable or something simple for working on when watching TV.

10. Is there is something else that you would like to share with the readers? 
I am 38. I am married, and have 3 kids I homeschool. Traveling is something I love doing, and before I settled down in the US I have visited and lived in about 20 different countries. I also like hiking, gardening, and baking. Tea and dark chocolate are my favorite treats. 
photo by Nailya
Where to find Nailya Plaskey:

Nailya Plaskey on Ravelry

Nailya Plaskey on Facebook

Nailya Plaskey on Pinterest

Nailya Plaskey on Instagram

Nailya Plaskey on Loveknitting

Nov 23, 2018

Gift-a-long 2018

Ready for GAL
In just few hours, the sixth Gift-a-long is about to start.
A wonderful collaboration of independent knitwear and crochet designers from all over the world share their skills with the worldwide crafting community in a fun filled festivity called Gift-a-long.

The official start day is Friday, November 213rd 2018 at 8PM EST and runs through the end of the year 2018.
The games and prizes are, as always, fantastic. If you are a member of Ravelry, just check it out in here:
Group Indie Design Gift-A-Long

Like in the previous years, the festivities start with a discount offers for selected patterns by all of the participating designers:
Sale period runs from Friday, November 23rd 8PM (US-EST time) through Thursday, November 29th 11.59PM (US-EST time).
Discount is 25% off selected patterns.
The code to enter:

giftalong2018


Gift-a-long
Here is the link to My patterns 

Thank you for visiting, and please join us for some knitting and fun games. 



Nov 19, 2018

Work in Progress IV

T-Bone's Bookmark
As you can see I have been working on several projects. First of all, after a success of my Cat's Silhouette Bookmark, link to pattern I was asked if I could create a bookmark in dog's shape. This one is more tricky as there are so many varieties and breeds and shapes of dogs, but in the end I have picked the dog in our house and based the bookmark shape upon his back profile view. The knitting pattern is at the testing stage and will be published next month.
In the meantime, we have discovered that our dog, T-Bone has started an online diary, I guess he got inspired by all of the dog's Instagram accounts that we have seen lately. Since he doesn't have his own phone he uses the computer...
Link to his diary:
T-Bone's Diary

Also, as in the previous years, I am participating in the festivities of Gift-a-long. More details about it will come soon.

GAL 2018
Thank you for visiting.

Nov 9, 2018

Knitting Pattern for Snowman and Sassy Coal Dishcloth

photo by Knitpicks
A sweet snowman or a sassy coal dishcloth? Which one will you knit first?

My knitting pattern for this adorable duo is available free on Knitpicks website:
Link here

or in my store on Ravelry:

Snowman and Sassy Coal Dishcloth



Thank you for visiting.

Nov 1, 2018

Knitting Pattern for Winter Pillow

Winter Pillow
The knitting pattern for Winter Pillow is part of Knitpicks 12 weeks of gifting and is available as a free download:

link to pattern Winter Pillow on Knitpicks

link to pattern on Ravelry: Winter Pillow 

I was working on the pattern in May 2018, and when I was trying to take a picture of the sample the dog decided to test the comfort of the pillow, and apparently it has been dog approved.

The other pillow in the picture is my Kittie Pillow and the pattern is available to purchase in my Ravelry store, on Knitpicks website, on Loveknitting website or by clicking on the button:




I had some yarn leftovers and decided to reverse the yarn and use the MC as CC, and CC as MC.
I took this pillow on a journey across the ocean and back, and finally finished few weeks ago. It is still waiting for the zipper to be sewn in, but you can see in the picture bellow how I prepare the zipper for sewing.

Winter Pillow II
Thank you for visiting.

Oct 27, 2018

Portfolio

Portfolio
Long time ago, I was accepted into an English - Creative Writing Program. It has been a long journey, and quite challenging as well. English language is not my native language and I still struggle with certain grammatical rules and everything takes me much longer to write in English than it would take me in my native language. I still speak English with an accent, and I tend to write with an accent as well.  My specialty are run on sentences and putting the "a" and "the" in places where it shouldn't be and not in places where it should be. Whenever I have a hard time with the language I always remember the struggles of Mr. Kaplan in Leo Rosten books.
What seemed like an eternity at times is coming to an end and this semester is my last semester at school and I will finally graduate. I am not sure what I will do next. I need to see the piece of paper in front of me to actually believe that it's true.
An important part of the writing degree is to create a writing portfolio and presented it to the writing department in your last semester. I have spent some time working on the portfolio, and when I met my advisor, we talked about my knitting. I did not consider knitting patterns to be creative writing, but she thought otherwise. I guess she is correct, since there is creativity involved in the process of turning a skein of yarn into a piece of knitted item accompanied by the knitting pattern that is easily reproducible by someone else.
My advisor mentioned that it would be awesome if I could somehow include a piece of my knitting in my writing portfolio. I thought about it and let my imagination create....

Portfolio I
Portfolio II
Portfolio III

Portfolio IV

... the knitted cover for my writing portfolio and a bookmark for the reader.

The bookmark is my Fred, the frog bookmark worked flat in garter stitch instead of in the rounds, using half of the required stitches. The words Portfolio and Read me were knit in stranded colorwork technique. The dot above the letter i in word Portfolio was done in duplicate stitch technique, because I forgot to knit it at first, and if the knitted book cover is going to be viewed by professors of English language and Writing I better present my book cover with correct spelling.

Thank you for visiting.

Oct 5, 2018

Knitting Pattern for Deadline Morning Eyeball Coaster or Dishcloth

We all have those mornings, when we wake up and know that we didn't get enough sleep the night before. The reasons may vary from person to person, even from day to day....
  • Late night drinking and having too much fun with friends
  • Brand new baby in the house
  • Procrastination and leaving to do the homework at the last minute
  • Deadline at work and not enough time to finish during the workday
  • Life
 For the last few weeks I had few of those days myself. Deadline knitting for a third party. A homework for my class to finish. Then one day I decided to address the issue and instead of stressing out about everything I just started to knit for fun and created the red eye/ normal eye coaster. It did not help with my deadline knitting or with finishing my homework, but I had fun knitting the coaster. And now I can pick the side that suits me and have a funky coaster to put down my first, or second, or third cup of coffee and try to deal with whatever needs to be done first.

Deadline Morning Eyeball Coaster

Eyeball Dishcloth and Coaster
Deadline Morning Eyeball 

The pattern is now available in my Ravelry store or you can purchase it by clicking on this button:



And if you wish to knit some of the eyeballs in the jar, my pattern is free on Knitpicks website, link to the pattern is here:
Knitted Eyeballs

Thank you for visiting.

Sep 21, 2018

Work in Progress III.

My last few posts were all about knitting patterns that were published.
This post should be about the projects that are still work in progress...

Najin
Najin, the toy mystery KAL started with clue 1 last week. Today I have released second clue, there are two more clues waiting to be released in the next two weeks before the final pattern will be available.
The pattern is available in my Ravelry store.
If you would like to join the fun, it's happening right now in my Ravelry group Stana's critters etc.

Eyeball Coaster
In the past few weeks I have been super busy with work that will be published by a third party. It's fun and exciting, but in a  way it's also stressful with all those deadlines that comes from third party publishing. Yesterday, I just needed a break from it all, and started to knit something just for fun. I finished today and wrote up the pattern. It's being test knitted at the moment and will be available at the beginning of next month, just in time for others to knit before Halloween.

Voyager Sweater
It seems appropriate to finish this blog post with a note about my project named Voyager Sweater. I had to set it aside due to all of the contracted work, but I am slowly getting some work done on the pattern and grading, and hope to have it ready for test knit pretty soon. During my visit at home I have found an old image of me in my first ever finished knitted project - a sweater that I knitted when I was I think 14 years old.  Ever since I finished that first sweater (it was knit, with three colors intarsia, and I have made up the pattern and calculated the entire project by myself) I couldn't stop knitting sweaters. I made so many of them it's impossible to count, and then one day I just stopped. During those years I  have knitted many other projects, even few baby sweaters for my friend's babies, but I have not made a single sweater for myself. Last year when I went to Rhinebeck I think I found my long lost passion for knitting sweaters. I have decided to knit and also write up the pattern. The knitting part, including photography is done, now it's just the less fun part, sitting in front of the computer and write up the pattern in seven different sizes. It's rather tedious work, but it will be eventually done. 

Thank you for visiting.