Join my First KAL!

KALs – short for knit-a-longs – are a fun way to undertake a knitting project. Several knitters decide to all work on the same pattern and keep in touch with each other’s progress via an on-line forum. It is a great way to motivate yourself to really get a project done or to tackle a design you felt you might need some help with. On Ravelry, the designer of the pattern will often keep up with the group, answering questions and giving advice. I really have been wanting to take the time to make a “Jo-Jo’s Vest” for my own wardrobe and thought I would start a KAL and invite others to make theirs with me!

Jo Jo’s vest is a very flattering design that is easy to wear in three seasons – or four here in Maine! The pattern has 7 sizes from a finished bust of 34 inches up to 58 inches. It can be worn with up to 4 inches of ease for an easy fit over a winter top, or with zero to  negative ease for a closer fit. It is knit in one piece with a seam at the back neck. Waist shaping, contiguous front and armhole bands and in-line buttonholes all add to the interest while knitting.  We will start knitting on February 15th, but I have already started the official KAL thread in my Fans of Knitwise Design Ravelry Group. We can discuss yarn choices, gauge swatches and modifications before we start knitting.  You need to be a member of Ravelry – which is free to sign up for, and of course purchase a copy of the Jo-Jo’s Vest Pattern, sold through my Ravelry store. I hope you can join us!

Designer Interview with Maureen Foulds

Giftalong-logo-200I am have been lucky enough to be one of the independent designers involved in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long on Ravelry that began in November and is still running until the end of December. What an amazing event this has been! Certainly a great boost in visibility for my designs. Not only have more knitters been introduced to Knitwise Design, but I have been introduced to more independent designers as well. The quality of the designs available from this group is so inspiring!

I am currently working on a couple of sock designs (coming up this winter!) so have especially been noticing great sock patterns lately. I was struck by Maureen Fould’s amazing series of socks all inspired by Agatha Christie novels. So I thought I would do something new on the blog and interview her here to find out a little about her design process. She kindly offered to give one of my reader’s a free pattern too! Comment on this post, with which individual pattern you would like (no e-books), and I will randomly draw a winner on December 14th (2013). Update: Winner is drawn! Frances (who happens to be a Vicar’s wife!) has won a copy of the pattern “Vicar’s Wife”!

I am fascinated by your Agatha Christie inspired sock series. Can you tell me how you translated the themes of these books into knitted design?

"The Vicar's Wife"

“The Vicar’s Wife”

It’s funny, except for “And Then There Were None” and “The Vicar’s Wife”, I didn’t really start off with a theme. I found the design first. As I knit up the samples and prepare the pattern, I listen to audiobooks. For the past 9 months it’s been Agatha Christie novels. Something about the design inevitably evokes a connection to a particular story, theme or character and the name of the pattern evolves from there.

"And Then There Were None"

“And Then There Were None”

“And Then There Were None” was directly inspired by the novel of the same name. I was drifting off to sleep trying to imagine a design that explicitly reflected an Agatha Christie novel. I’ve always been fascinated by the plot of ATTWN and suddenly the idea of cables getting cut off as each character’s life ended (sort of like the Three Fates in literature), leapt to mind. I couldn’t fall asleep until I’d fleshed out the design idea!

Will there be more Agatha Christie socks to come?
Absolutely. One of my dear Ravelry friends has been requesting a Hercules Poirot series. So that’s up next. Each design will reflect a character or novel involving the brilliant Belgian detective.

What else inspires your designing?
Inspiration comes from various directions. Like most designers I have several stitch dictionaries which I leaf through frequently for ideas. Sometimes I’m in the mood for cables, sometimes for something a bit simpler.

Sometimes I have a theme in mind, like “nature”, “leaves”, or “water”. Or I’ll want to use a particular colorway which seems to want turn into something specific.

Then there’s the unromantic, but practical approach. If I have a collection of patterns, I make a determined effort to include a range of difficulty levels for broad appeal. I want something easy for beginners, or for experienced knitters looking for an easy knit. Then I like to build on that so beginners can grow their skills and the more experienced knitters have something they can sink their teeth into.

What has your experience been being part of the Indie Design Gift-a-Long?
It’s been incredible! I love the idea of “Abundance” that got this whole thing started. We can do so much better promoting each other and working together rather than seeing other designers as the competition.

I’ve drawn so much inspiration seeing everyone’s designs and how people are knitting them up. The color combinations! So much more than I can imagine on my own.

From a business perspective, I’ve learned a lot from working behind the scenes with the other designers. It’s helped my confidence and given me concrete ways to grow in the coming years.

What are you working on design-wise for 2014?
2014 is going to be BUSY! The Hercules Poirot collection will kick off in January with a KAL hosted in my Ravelry group. I’m also designing 2 exclusive patterns for the Sheepy Time Knits 2014 yarn club.

I also plan on expanding my repertoire to include accessories like mitts, hats, cowls and scarfs. I’d planned on introducing a few accessories this year, but the timing wasn’t right.

And finally, where can we find your patterns?
My patterns are always released first in my Ravelry shop. I also have a presence on Patternfish and to a lesser extent, Craftsy.
I also blog about new patterns, provide sneak peeks and talk about all things knitting on my blog: Hanging on by a String.