GIVEAWAY – Featured Independent Designer – Janelle Martin

Today’s featured independent designer is Janelle Martin of Eclectic Closet.

Janelle Martin

I asked Janelle my Five Questions, and here is how she answered:

1)     Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been a knitter for more than 30 years and I love it more each year.  I’ve been teaching and designing a number of years and this past August I taught outside of Ontario for the first time, at Lancaster Yarn Shop in Lancaster County, PA and at Cast On! Cast Off! in St. John’s, NL. 

I was awarded the 2011-2012 Sally Melville Award (KW Knitters’ Guild), awarded (by members’ votes) to “the knitter who has most inspired its members.”  What makes it such a special award is that Sally was such an inspiration to me when I was a young knitter.  She was one of the cofounders of our local knitter’s guild, a guild filled with a number of innovative knitting designers such as Sally and Debbie New.  This past spring I was honoured to receive the Amy Hallman Snyder Textile, Fibre and Quilting Arts Award at the 26th Annual Arts Awards Waterloo Region.

Audrey II

2)     How did you start designing?

I started designing just to see if I could do it.  A number of people had suggested that I should design but I had never really thought of myself as creative.  I took painting and drawing courses in high school and university but felt I didn’t have a message or esthetic I wanted to share in those mediums.  I was always drawn to collage work and I think, for me, designing knits is closest to this process.  I start with my “blank canvas” by choosing the shape of the piece I want and then I combine stitch patterns to create the texture upon that canvas.

Vieux Carre

3)     How would you describe your design style?

The exciting part for me is creating organic designs.  I like there to be continuous lines in my work, for the stitch patterns to grow out of each other.  Often this means I have to create transition charts to move from one stitch pattern into the other.  My complex lace designs, such as Cartouche Shawl or Flower Bell Stole, often have five or six charts to handle these transitions, but the result is worth it.

I’m most drawn to lace and cables, but especially Japanese stitch patterns for lace.  I own a large collection of stitch dictionaries and spend a lot of time contemplating ways to combine different stitch patterns.  I then work up stitch charts to combine the various elements and then swatch to see how they work on the needles.

Sinuosity Shawl

4)     What is your favourite pattern of your own design?

Each new design that I release becomes a favourite at the time, but I do have a few personal favourites.  I keep coming back to the stitch patterns most recently used in the Cartouche Stole and I have two other designs in the works that utilize elements from the stole.  Obviously I’m not done with these stitch patterns yet!

For personal wear at the moment I’d have to pick the Fossetta Cowl (how can you beat the cuddly warmth of Yak?) and New Tech Cowl.

Cartouche Stole

5)      Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

This year I’m limiting myself to small gifts, leggings for my niece and a hat for my nephew.  The past few years I’ve knit a lot of Christmas gifts so I decided to give myself a break this year.  Too many years where I was still finishing knitting gifts early on Christmas morning!

Every Which way set

All photographs used by permission, copyright Janelle Martin. Top photo taken by Janelle’s dad, all others by Shawn Miller.

Thank you so much to Janelle for sharing your story with us!

To celebrate the Gift-A-Long, Janelle and I would like to offer you the opportunity to win one of her patterns. To enter, have a look through Janelle’s patterns and leave a comment below telling us which is your favourite. Leave your comment before midnight MST Thursday, November 20th and I will do a draw the next day to choose a winner. Good luck everyone!

GIVEAWAY – Featured Independent Designer: Anjali M

My first featured independent designer of the 2014 Gift-A-Long is Anjali M of Affiknity Designs. (All photos copyright Affiknity, used with permission)

Grown up HiraI asked Anjali my Five Questions, and here is how she answered.

1) Tell us a little about yourself.

I work full time as a programmer and knit and design in my free time. I live with my husband and my 6-year old son in Bangalore, India. I like to travel, read and take long walks on the beach (sad there is no beach in Bangalore). I have not yet made up my mind on what I love more: tea or coffee. I am a novice photographer and a budding baker.

2) How did you start designing?

It all started with a simple wish to make a blanket for my baby when I was pregnant. After searching high and low for a pattern, I couldn’t find any that I liked. I decided to make one up myself (I didn’t know the term designing then). I hunted down a nice stitch pattern in my stitchionary, worked out the gauge and thus was born my first ever pattern, As Sweet As Honey Baby Blanket. I enjoyed the process so much that I continued doing it.

honeycombblanket_medium

3) How would you describe your design style?

I don’t really work towards having a distinct style, but I always keep in mind the practicality of the knitted piece and the interest of the knitter. I try to keep my designs simple, yet add one interesting element to it. To name a few: Hira has beads, Texo Pullover has cabled pocket and Dyvest has interesting cable transitions.

Texo

4) What is your favourite pattern of your own design?

It is so hard to choose! For purely sentimental reasons, I would say ‘As Sweet As Honey Baby Blanket’ as it was my first design and also it was made specially for my baby.

5) Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

Oh yes. I am so excited to see so many great patterns offered for sale and KAL. I am planning to make a hat for my son. Allotrope Hat looks interesting. I might decide to make a baby cardigan if my mood strikes.

Thank you so much Anjali for answering my questions so thoughtfully! It’s a pleasure to have been able to feature you on my blog.

To celebrate the Gift-A-Long, Anjali and I would like to offer you the opportunity to win one of her patterns. To enter, have a look through Anjali’s patterns and leave a comment below telling us which is your favourite. Leave your comment before midnight MST Wednesday, November 19th and I will do a draw the next day to choose a winner. Good luck everyone!

Featured Indie Designer – Elizabeth Green Musselman

This is an extra-special Featured Indie Designer post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it includes an interview with the lovely Elizabeth Green Musselman of Dark Matter Knits. Secondly, it features a fantastic giveaway, which you can read about at the end of the post.

Without further ado, I’ll let Elizabeth speak for herself since she gave such great answers to my questions…

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve had a pretty itinerant life. I grew up in an Army family, so we moved about once every two years, which in some ways was tough, but I did get to live in Germany for six years in junior high and high school, and that was an amazing experience. At various times, I’ve wanted to be an architect, aeronautical engineer, and science journalist, but through some funny twists and turns ended up getting a Ph.D. in the history of science, and for 13 years I taught history at Southwestern University, a wonderful liberal arts college near my current home in Austin, Texas. I needed a change, though, and two years ago, I quit that job to pursue a career as a freelance knitting designer, editor, and teacher. I’m now the book designer for Cooperative Press, design knitting patterns with a focus on men and boys under the moniker Dark Matter Knits, do graphic design work for people in the fiber industry, and teach knitting classes. My sweet husband is a philosophy professor at another liberal arts college in town, and our nine-year-old son is one of the funniest, quirkiest people I have ever known. I pretty much adore him with every woolly fiber of my being.
2) How did you start designing?
 That started about five years ago. I had been knitting for a long time (about 25 years at that point), so I’d been fascinated to watch how the internet exploded the world of knitting design. I’d always thought of pattern design as something that only a select few professionals did, but in the mid-1990s, I started seeing younger women and men who’d been knitting for just one or two years getting their designs out there, and I thought, “Why on earth am I not doing this? It looks like so much fun!” Since I have two guys in my life whom I love to knit for, I thought I’d find a niche by focusing on designs for men and school-aged boys.
3) Which is your favorite of your designs?
That’s a tough one to answer, and I’d probably have a completely different answer tomorrow, but today I’ll choose my Modern Tartan sweater. I designed that for a pattern collection published by Hill Country Weavers, one of my LYSes and one of just a handful of stores that carries Jared Flood’s Shelter yarn. The challenge in my case was to create something for men with Shelter. I knew Flood would publish his own designs, and knew the muted, classic aesthetic he would choose, so I decided to go for something completely different: a colorful, vibrant, graphic look. I kept experimenting until I hit upon a combination of vertical and horizontal stripes that I liked. Then I structured the garment to look and fit like one of those zip-neck fleece pullovers.

https://i2.wp.com/farm6.static.flickr.com/5245/5288854216_5d644fc005_b.jpg

My favorite of the designs that I included in the GAL—that is, of my self-published designs—might be my Cattywampus Hat. I love unusual constructions that are simple to knit, and this hat is a perfect example of that. The hat is worked up and down, and simple short rows and decrease/increase combinations are used to shape the crown and creates the biasing effect.
https://i2.wp.com/images4.ravelry.com/uploads/elizabethgm/166889852/CattywampusHat_red1.jpg
4) What has been your favorite part of the GAL so far?
I’ve been delighted by how much community has formed around it; I didn’t expect that. Not only have the designers themselves really pitched in to make this work incredibly successfully—Lindsay Lewchuk (aka ecochicknits) deserves particular credit for that—but also people who have purchased the patterns are having a wonderful time participating in all the KAL/CALs and playing the various games that the organizers have come up with. It’s been a huge success.
5) Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

A little—I tend not to plan on any, except gifts for my son’s teachers, but I get as many gifts knit or crocheted as I can. This year it’s looking like I’m not going to get very far! I’m sure none of you know the feeling….

 

I’d like to thank Elizabeth for such a great interview, it was a pleasure.

And now for the giveaway! Elizabeth was gracious enough to offer a copy of her Cattywampus Hat pattern to one of my lucky readers. Just leave a comment below telling us which of her patterns is your favorite before Dec. 21st at 11:59 pm EST.  I’ll do a random number draw and will announce the lucky winner the next day. Good luck!

Longest Project Ever Giveaway

I just finished a project I started 8 (yes, EIGHT) years ago. I’m not sure exactly when I started it, but I know where I was living when I was blocking it originally, and I haven’t lived there in a very long time. I also know I got the yarn from a store that doesn’t exist anymore.wholething

The project is the Perfect Turtleneck, from Patons Design Series. It’s a chunky cabled sweater with lots of ribbing and a giant turtleneck. The cables are quite pretty, and I recall it being a very straight-forward pattern. I’ve been looking for mistakes, but apparently my knitting was better back then than I thought it was.closeup

The reason it had hibernated for so long is that when I tried seaming all the pieces together the yarn would untwist and pull apart. I got so frustrated with it that I put it away and forgot about it. I mentioned this to someone in passing recently and they suggested using a different yarn in a matching colour.

After finishing all my Christmas knitting and not knowing what to start next, I resurrected this beast and got down to business. It took 3 evenings of work, but it’s finally done. Unfortunately, I have aged 8 years and gestated 2 children since I began this sweater and it just doesn’t work for me anymore.full shot

So, if you’d like to receive this sweater for free, leave a comment telling me about your Longest Project Ever (knitting or otherwise) and I’ll do a draw on January 11th (my birthday!). The sweater is a size small (fits a 34″ bust).