How a design is born

I know when I first thought about going into designing full time, I wondered how designers came up with such fabulous designs. In my career, designs have come from all different types of inspiration. Sometimes I fall in love with a stitch pattern, sometimes with the yarn, and sometimes I see something I really want to replicate.

Last night saw the beginnings of a new design. I thought I’d share with you how that came about.

A few weeks ago I fell in love with a skein of Misti Alpaca handpainted lace yarn. Why yes, it does have some purple in it, why do you ask? It also has some really neat shades of grey, cream, and blue. I love it.

It promptly came home with me and sat on a shelf where I could see it every day. When my projects would get to the happy point where my brain can disconnect I’d stare at that skein of yarn. I dreamed of something light, airy and lacy. I wanted to be sure to use every bit of the skein, so it had to be something big.

Yesterday I took my day off to recharge. Part of that day was spent at my LYS. Most of that day was spent on the bus to get there and back, but I was able to get a lot of work done on a gift I need to finish. But while there at the shop, I wandered, touched yarn, and dreamed. I also adopted two lonely skeins of yarn. Both were alpaca and one was lace weight.

When I got home, I felt it was time to ball up all three skeins of yarn. Now, for those who don’t know, this involves me clearing my work table (already done over the weekend), setting up my big wooden umbrella swift (that holds the skein stretched out) and my yarn winder (which is what puts the yarn into a nice center pull ball). It also usually involves letting the family know I’m about to start winding because otherwise my dad starts searching through the house to find out what that squeaky noise is that he hears.

Anyway, I wound all three skeins down into balls and watched as the colors of the Misti Alpaca yarn blended and sped past me. I finally saw what I wanted and grabbed the closest stitch dictionary to see if it had what I was looking for. And I found it. Actually, I had found it a few months ago and flagged it as a stitch I wanted to do something with.

Swatching commenced immediately. The stitch was going to be perfect, but…I needed to shape it a bit. I stopped swatching with the lace and grabbed my graph paper. I then spent the next two hours sketching the stitch pattern (using standard crochet symbols) to see where I could decrease it down. I’m still not done with that part.

Once I get it sketched out, I will then grab some smooth yarn and make sure I’m correct in how I see the stitch. That may take me another few hours (although knowing me, likely a day). Once I know I’ve got the stitch pattern right, I’ll make another swatch to determine the hook size I want to use. I’ll take the time to block this swatch to make sure it will look just like I see it in my head when I’m done. This part will take another full day knowing me. I’ll then figure out how big I want to make the item, do the math, and write out the instructions. Again, this will take another day. So, we’re now at three to four days from now (keeping in mind that I have boxes of yarn coming to me for new projects with deadlines, so I may not get to work straight through on this one). Once all that is done, then I can pick up the actual yarn and start making the final project.

Since the bulk of my day is taken up with deadline work (since it pays the bills), I often have to squeeze my own design work into small bits of time. Today I’ll take a cowl I’m working on for my line to the clinic for while I wait for my dad’s appointment. So what may only take me a week to make if I were working on it all day, may now take me a few weeks or more to get finished. Sometimes, though, if I really love the pattern and the yarn, I’ll stay up and use my non-work crochet time to get it finished.

Yes, I have work and non-work crochet times. Although sometimes, like I said, there is design work that gets done during the non-work crochet times. Typically, my work crochet time is spent doing designs that are on deadline and need to be worked on quickly (by the way, my deadlines range from two weeks to a month out from when I get the yarn). My work day runs from around 8:00-8:30am to 5:30pm when I stop for dinner with the family (lunch is a 15-20 minute stop to eat while I’m checking emails). Typically I get back to work around 6:00pm and work until around 7:30 or 8:00pm. Some nights, depending on the deadline (or how busy I was with family stuff during the day), I’ll work until 10:00pm. So, as you can see, there isn’t always time for non-work crochet stuff.

I’m hoping, though, that with this lace design I can utilize the time I have right now between projects to get a good push towards starting the crochet portion. Birthing designs is difficult and very time consuming. I haven’t even started discussing what has to be done once the prototype is made. That’s a whole other set of time consuming steps. More on that when we get there with this one.

Wait, what? How’d it get to be the end of June??

I am sincerely sorry I have not kept up with this blog. The last two months have been a whirlwind of work and I just haven’t had time to sit and compose a post (other than in my head while I’m supposed to be sleeping).

So, let’s catch up a bit, shall we?

I’ve been working on a super huge project that of course I can’t talk about yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s been the big thing that’s been taking up all my time. It shipped on Friday and now I just need to write the patterns for it and it will be done. I can’t wait to tell you about it. It’s really cool.

I’ve had easily five or six other good sized projects to go out, both for yarn companies and publication. I’m excited about those, too, and can’t wait to share those either (are you starting to see why I haven’t been able to post much?).

Things haven’t slowed down yet. I leave in a week for Chain Link (also known as the Knit and Crochet Show) in Manchester, NH. I’m very excited about this as I love Chain Link. This year I’m teaching two classes. One on Thursday morning on Amigurumi and one on Friday afternoon on my Broomstick Lace Cloth pattern. Other than that, I just have the events and will spend the rest of my time catching up with my crochet friends from around the country. If you’re going to be there, come find me! I’d love to meet you, too!

My to-do list is still incredibly long. I have to finish two samples for my Amigurumi class (those may end up getting done on Tuesday afternoon at this rate), I need to finish the hat I’m donating to the silent auction, and I’d like to finish a wrap to wear to the dinner Saturday night. That’s just the stuff for Chain Link. I also have three projects due very soon, and today I’m finishing up a submission package. I need to write the patterns for the big project before I leave as well.

I’m still planning on writing the series about being a designer, so if you have questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments. I’m going to try to get them up after I get back.

If I don’t post before then (very likely at this pace), I hope everyone has a great start to July and for my fellow Americans, Happy July 4th! Also, for those traveling to Chain Link, safe travels and I’ll see you there!

Two new patterns up and other catching up

Friday night I was killing time before heading out looking through Coats and Clark’s patterns. I knew I had two that were due to be out soon, and I was so happy to find them. Because that means that I can finally share them with you!

The first one is called Midas Wristers and is made from yummy Aunt Lydia’s Bamboo Crochet Thread in Size 3. This stuff is a dream and a half to work with. So silky, so pretty, and works up very well. Here’s the Ravelry pattern page so you can go queue it. You know you want to. These will make great gifts for the summer, for prom, for weddings, etc, etc.


Photograph copyright Coats & Clark and used with permission

The second pattern is great for little babies. I loved making this sweater. It’s called simply Baby Cardigan. Here’s the Ravelry pattern page. I know you want to queue that one as well. This pattern uses one ball of TLC Baby Multi. You could make a ton of them for all the little babies in your life. I’m very excited about this pattern because it was the first time I did the pattern math first, wrote the pattern, and then stitched it. And it was right. Anyway, look at the cutie patootie baby they found to model this one. I’m so jealous of the photography team at Coats. They get to play with such cuties!


Photograph copyright Coats & Clark and used with permission

In other news, I’m currently teaching Crochet 101 on Wednesdays at Four Purls in Winter Haven. My students are two lovely ladies who seemed to pick it up pretty quickly last week. We’ll see what their homework looks like this week. Crochet 102 will begin in May, so if you’re local and want to learn or brush up or expand your skills, check out the website and give Laura a call. We’ve got other exciting classes and workshops scheduled for the next couple of months.

I am very nearly moved. Organized is another story. I have deadlines this week otherwise I’d be dealing with the chaos that is currently residing under my work table. However, I did want to share with you the view from outside of my sliding glass door.

Now, that picture was taken a few weeks ago, and already since then the tree has turned completely green. The plan is to install a “dining canopy” with screen walls onto my deck that comes off my room. Then I’ll be able to try to enjoy sitting outside and work. This may only happen in the early mornings and evenings. This is Florida, after all, and we’re already into the 80s during the day.

I’m getting settled and enjoying being back in my hometown. I’ve even started going out again with friends. Part of this is because designing is a very solitary work. It’s easy to look up and realize you haven’t been outside in a week. So, my local friends have all decided to make sure I get out of the house at least once a week. I am very lucky to have such great friends.

Speaking of getting out of the house, I’ll be heading towards Stitches South this weekend. I’m not taking any classes, but I’ll be on site on Saturday. We’re leaving Friday morning and driving up, so we likely won’t be there until Friday evening. I’ll be heading back on Sunday morning. But, if you’re going to be there, let me know! I’ll try to find you in the market. I’d love to meet up with some of my readers.

One last thing. I’ve gotten questions about designing from various people throughout the last few months. I want to do a series here on my blog about getting started as a designer and making it work (channeling Tim Gunn here). If you have any questions you’d like to see answered here on the blog, feel free to leave it in comments! I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Hope everyone has a fabulous week. I’ve got to get to work now!

Two covers!

I got my contributor copies today for the two Coats and Clark booklets I’m in. I thought I’d share the pic of them here.

That would be my Natural Beauty Wrap on the cover of Thread Crochet for Today and my Sweet Ruffles Baby Dress on the cover of Super Baby.

This was definitely a day brightener for me! Not that today was going poorly or anything, in fact, I’ve been making great work progress. But this just brought a smile to my face and reminded me why I’m working so hard and why I don’t take weekends off much anymore.

Anyway, just wanted to take a moment and share with all of you! Have a wonderful week!

Congrats to the Drawing Winner!

Thank you for everyone who entered my first giveaway here on the blog!

If you didn’t go back to read the entries, you should. There’s some great resolutions out there!

Now, thanks to Random.org, here is our winner:

Leslie said…

Hmmm, let’s see…..I’ve got a HUGE stash of yarn and I really would like to get rid of it! I’m thinking baby hats, because they’re so quick. Plus, the more I make, the more I get to donate. I would also like to organize all these pieces of paper containing all these patterns I just HAD to print out. I guess I’m just a tactic, visual person because, even though I have them saved in the computer, I love having them printed out to look through from time to time. That’s probably enough for now.

Congrats Leslie!!!! Please email me at fibersbytracie at gmail dot com!

I hope to do some more drawings throughout the year, but a lot will depend on what I have to give away. Please stay tuned!

In other news, keep an eye out. One of my resolutions is to put out new patterns in the Fibers By Tracie line on a regular basis. This month’s pattern may be a quick one but appropriate for this weather! Speaking of weather, I’m not sure if everyone is paying attention, but it is currently colder in Florida than it is in Washington (thanks to Fearless Leader aka Laurie Wheeler letting me know that). Gah! I’ll be crocheting to stay warm this weekend as we are on snow watch here!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Natural Beauty Wrap

I found out the other night that the Natural Beauty Wrap I did for Coats and Clark is out now! And it’s on the cover of the booklet.

You can get the downloaded booklet here at Shop Red Heart.

Here’s some of my pictures of this. You might remember seeing a sneak of this in my post about the blocking wires. This was the project that got to test drive those.


Tied in the front


Back view


Laying flat with a DPN holding it closed

I loved making this wrap. It’s done in the Aunt Lydia’s Bamboo Crochet Thread. This stuff is beautiful to work with. It blocked beautifully and gave great stitch definition. And the color? Stunning. The wrap is done in Coral. It’s a gorgeous colorway.

The wrap itself is easy. The lace repeat is easy to memorize and once you do, it goes super fast. It will take any outfit from nice to stunning. I hope you make it and enjoy it!

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Also, just a reminder, the drawing for the New Years contest will happen tomorrow. If you haven’t entered yet, go here to enter!

Button Spiderweb Scarf

Yeah, yeah, I know….it’s suddenly the end of October and I haven’t posted in weeks. Sorry about that. Been busy, all with stuff I can’t show you.

Until now!

That’s the new Button Spiderweb Scarf available on the Coats and Clark website. (Ravelry link here).

I’m so excited to have this pattern published by Coats and Clark. It has an interesting story, this scarf does. See, this scarf has been rejected two times before getting picked up by Coats and Clark. I took the swatch (which happened to be the same length as this little scarf) with me to Buffalo and showed it during the Meet and Greet. Coats picked it up for review and when they came back to me to pick it up, they decided on doing it as a smaller scarf. So my “swatch” was the perfect length to do this little scarflette.

I love this pattern and believed in it and refused to give up on it. And I actually like it better as the smaller buttoned scarf than as a full length scarf. In this size it uses one skein of Red Heart Soft yarn. It works up super quick and is a great last minute gift. Because it’s short, it’s perfect for those of us down here in the warmer climes to use for decoration or to keep just a bit of the chill off our necks (without feeling silly with a long scarf on).

I do hope you enjoy this pattern! If you make your own, please post them on Ravelry as I love seeing everyone’s interpretations of my patterns. What? You’re not on Ravelry? Well, if you crochet or knit and like to keep track of your projects, you should be! And there isn’t a waiting list anymore, so come on in!

More stuff to come, there’s another pattern of mine out in Crochet World, but I need to get pics off my camera first. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been a bit lazy about that, sorry. Again with all the crazy busy work (which is great for paying bills, not so much for posting blog entries)!

Have a happy Halloween and see everyone in November!

Still alive, just busy

Ugh, it’s already half way through September! When did that happen???

I’m still here and I have blog posts planned, but all require photos (yay!) and links and I’ve just been too busy to sit down and do that. But I haven’t forgotten about you, dear readers.

What have I been busy with? Making samples for my amigurumi demo at the Sarasota Fiber In on Saturday, working on a new design I hope to release next month (if not, definitely by the end of the year), cranking out some designs for a second yarn company (that I’m super excited about and can’t wait to show you), and doing my usual work for the first yarn company. And still coming up with ideas for other designs and trying to find time to swatch for those.

Whew.

I barely have time to breathe these days, let alone post, but I will do my best to get something up with pictures this week. I have a new pattern that was just released (well, a couple of weeks ago…I told you I was behind) and I want to show you that.

But I just wanted everyone to know that I’m still here, still going strong, and the best way to keep up with me is through my Twitter updates. You can follow me through the link on the side bar, or just come here to get the updates (over there, to the right).

Have a great week everyone!

Update coming soon

I’m home, I’m exhausted, and I have a nice case of what is affectionately called “Con Crud” (comes from picking up new and interesting germs from people attending conventions).

Update will come later. I don’t have all my pictures (Margarita took a lot more than me) so once I get them all together, I’ll update.

I will say, that even considering how I’m feeling right now, the trip was totally worth it. I met a lot of great people that I’ve been corresponding with for a while now, I made a lot of great business contacts, and I learned a lot that will help my designing career take off.

Oh, and I won honorable mention in the Design Contest for this little piece:

Front:

Back:

I’m very excited about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

More later, the sofa is calling me for another nap. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s here!

Today I got a nice surprise via UPS. My copy of Granny Square Wear!!!

See, here’s the cover:

And let me just say how excited I am about this book. See, to me, it’s a book because it has a spine. An actual spine! ๐Ÿ˜€ Yes, it’s the little things that thrill me!

Look, here’s my name:

And here are the beautiful pics that are in the book:

There are another 8 patterns in the book and they’re all fabulous! I’m among great designers and that makes me happy.

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