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From Concept to Reality: 6 Tips to Writing Awesome Knit or Crochet Design Proposals

March 6, 2017

When I design for an OMG Yarn only publication, I can just execute a design when and how I want to. That’s kind of the point, right? Working for yourself, you can design the things you want. I picture something in my head, I pull out my stitch dictionaries, and I write a pattern. I am not confident with my sketching skills, so I leave the drawing pictures to when it is absolutely necessary.

One of the hardest things we have to do as a knit or crochet designers is take a concept and describe it well enough to get someone else excited about it. Occasionally, I come across design calls that inspire some unique things using a yarn I’ve been eyeing up (the nicest thing about designing for other companies is not the money, it’s the yarn). Although each design call is a little bit different and each company asks for different elements, the basic elements of a design proposal are pretty much universal.

 

Here’s a few things you can do to help your design proposal stand out from the bunch:

 

  1. Describe your general concept. Obviously, you need to let people know what your idea is. Don’t just show them with a sketch, share what your inspiration was. Tell the prospective company why the project is important to you. If you were inspired by something in nature, include a picture (if there’s room). If you were determined to re-create a classic design or a design from another type of craft, share that, put your own spin on it. My personal belief is that if a design does not make me say “OMG”, it’s not worth doing. I show the reader what makes me say “OMG” and try to get them on that level as well.
  2. Be creative with your proposal, but follow the instructions in the design call. Submitting to a design call is like turning an assignment in to your teacher and completing a job interview all in one. You’re demonstrating how well you can work with others AND how well you can follow directions.

    What does that mean for a design call? Well, if they ask you to keep your proposal to one page, keep it to one page. That should go without saying. Seriously.  As a former hiring manager, nothing bothered me more than someone who could not follow the application directions. If we asked for our applicants to provide a specific thing, to save time, I literally threw out all the resumes that didn’t include that thing. I mean, why work with that person if they cannot follow a simple instruction? I have read many a design call that have that specific line item in it (if you cannot follow directions, your proposal will not be considered). Instructions are not suggestions.All that said, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun with your design proposal. The picture above, I submitted with a design proposal for the Enderis Park Pullover for Holla Knits. I used my very limited Adobe Photoshop skills and showed the design in action (as per the instructions from the design call). It’s one of my favorite designs and I still wear the sample I knit.
  3. Keep it simple. Don’t overthink your design too much. Chances are, your first idea was the right idea, but make sure you can properly execute your design concept. Unless the call or the potential audience for your design demands complicated techniques, keep it simple. That does not mean you can’t try a different way of constructing your project, but you definitely do not need to make the knitter or crocheter stand on their head and work the project with their left toes only. Or do you?
  4. Know your potential audience. If your audience enjoys standing on their head and using their left toes only, THEN AND ONLY THEN should you write your pattern to call for it. Otherwise, ask yourself, Is this for beginners or is this project for more intermediate/advanced knitters/crocheters? If your design call is for Beginning Knitters Magazine (it doesn’t exist, but you know what I mean), you likely won’t be designing a complicated fair isle project with steeks, zippers, unique cast ons, or anything else requiring more advanced knitting techniques.You’ll also want to consider the basic style that the design company caters to. If they have a modern bohemian style, you want to stick with that. Also consider if the readers of that particular publication prefer a quicker project or if they will be more apt to enjoy a time consuming project (or maybe even a little of both).
  5. You do NOT always have to reinvent the wheel. This falls under a couple different categories, keeping it simple and following the instructions. Don’t think you can get away with redesigning templates or how the design company wants you to put together a design. Remember, you’re selling them on a design and you as a designer, you’re not there to tell them what to do, you’re working with their parameters on your design.

    One of the first OMG Yarn designs – Lettercarrier Mitts – I like fingerless mitts because I need to use my fingers for touch screens, but hate having cold, painful wrists.

  6. Don’t give up who you are as a designer. OMG Yarn designs is about a couple things. I have the “go big or go home” type designs and it’s also my unique style. I won’t just design something just to design it, it has to be something I feel I can wear or use all day, everyday. In some cases, I like to up-cycle or use unique materials. What is your niche? How can you prove you’re passionate about a design if it’s not something you would do (or wear)? I mean, one of the things I LOVE about StevenBe is that you know who he is just by what he’s wearing and his designs reflect that. So if you decide that all your designs have to have something orange in it. Own it. If all your designs are accessories for a specific purpose, offer that and don’t apologize for being you as a designer.

If you keep a lot of the above things in mind, you most certainly could have a successful design career ahead of you. I encourage you to be persistent as well. After all, you may hear “no” more often than you hear “yes” but that’s ok, it’s part of the process. When you finally get that “yes”, embrace it and use as an opportunity to grow.

 

Additional design tip: If you need a base to sketch on, use what is called a croqui. If you Google search a croqui, you can find a good sketch of a “live model” to put your design on. Just trace her outline.

 

 

The Kitten Hat: Free Knit Pattern for the Littlest Resisters

February 27, 2017

Disclaimer: Of the few things I feel strongly enough to speak out about, Women’s Rights and equality are amongst them. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue posting about the pink hats that have taken over a lot of fiber arts discussions in a big. I, for one, am a big fan of not rocking the boat, because I don’t like attention or confrontation. So if you’re opposed to a free pattern for these cute little cat-eared hats modeled by my gorgeous little girl, this post is not for you. I still love you though. There are plenty of other patterns that probably will be for you and they’re coming soon.  I will always be a safe space for everyone. EVERYONE. Knit and crochet on, sisters (brothers and non-binary gendered fiber artists).

The Kitten Hat

For those not in the know, I’ve made a giant pile of pink hats with my friend Beth of The Big String. A portion of the proceeds from the hats went to women’s issues, supported local female-owned small businesses, and also helped this little blog get off the ground. Making all these hats has its advantages, mostly that the pattern keeps evolving. It’s not quite the pattern that initially started circulating. We had to change with what worked and what didn’t for making these hats wearable, comfortable, and as quickly as possible. We even busted out my mother’s Ultimate Sweater Machine for a few, because the demand was so high. I’ll probably share my notes on using the machine to knit these hats sometime soon here too.




I also had my kiddos add a little extra positive energy to each of the hats that were sent to others. They proudly donned these hats and wore them around the house, happy to help mom not drown in the sea of pink yarn. Peanut would even announce the current hat count to everyone in line at craft stores and shout that “mommy bought ALL of the pink yarn!”

As we got more and more involved, I noticed that the original hat pattern could technically fit all three kiddos and myself, just with slight modifications. For baby Ola, I had to fold up the brim, meaning she needed a shorter brim. For Sharky, it was just a hair too big, so that meant a shorter hat body, but same brim length. Peanut could wear the adult hat just fine, but the ears were not as defined. From there, the Kitten Hat was born.

Pattern

The Kitten Hat comes in two sizes: baby (about 4 months and older) and child (aged 2 and up). You’ll see notes for where you can size up or down to customize these hats if your kiddos have bigger or smaller than usual head sizes.

The hat is worked flat and then sewn along the sides for the fastest construction. Feel free to add some duplicate stitch sayings, like “resist” or “persist” to personalize the hats even more. Use different colors or stitch patterns for further customization. Make this hat your own.

TIP: I have found that a slightly stiffer fabric helps the kitty ears stand up better, so you’ll notice that I am using a smaller needle size for what the yarn calls for. It works. I’ve made a bajillion of these.

Yarn

  • One ball Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Yarn, 100% Acrylic Yarn, 3 oz./85g, 145 yds/133 m  in your color of choice
  • OR any heavy worsted weight yarn that will get the gauge listed below

Gauge

  • 4.5-ish stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 8

What You’ll Need

  • A pair of US 7 straight needles
  • A pair of US 8 straight needles
  • A tapestry needle to sew side seams and weave in ends

Glossary

  • K: Knit.
  • P: Purl.
  • RS: Right Side.
  • WS: Wrong Side.

 




Hat – Instructions are for baby size with larger/child size in parentheses.

Cast on 34 (38) stitches on smaller needle using a long-tail cast on.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).

Switch to larger needles. Work in stockinette stitch (knit row on RS, purl row on WS) for 6.5″ (9″). Ending with a RS row.

Note: For a child that’s between 2 and 4 years old, you can shorten that larger length by about a half an inch to make the ears more prominent.

Switch to smaller needles.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).
Bind off loosely. Sew side seams. Weave in ends. Lightly steam to block.

 

Some really cute outtakes from photographing Ola in her hat. She needed a nap.

 

Free Pattern: Knit These Gorgeous Fingerless Mitts to Match OMG Yarn’s Groundhog Hat

February 21, 2017

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the matching Groundhog Hat pattern on Ravelry.

Groundhog Fingerless Mitts

As a mom and knitting addict, I cannot always take a bunch of double-pointed needles with me in the diaper bag. I wanted to design a set of fingerless gloves that were worked flat to prevent my work coming off the needles while bouncing around from place to place with three kiddos to keep track of.

Designed to match the Groundhog and Chuckling Hats that my mother commissioned me for on Groundhog Day, the Groundhog Fingerless Mitts are worked flat and sewn on the sides. There is even cable detail on the thumbs!

Yarn

  • You’ll need one ball of Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Tonal, an 80/20 blend of Acrylic and Wool or any chunky weight yarn that will get you the gauge listed below

Gauge

  • 3.5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 10.5

What you’ll need:

  • A pair of US 9 straight needles for the cuff
  • A pair of US 10.5 straight needles for the body
  • A cable needle
  • A tapestry needle to sew the side seams and weave in ends

Glossary:

  • C4F: Cable 4 Front. Slip next two stitches onto cable needle, hold them in the front, knit the next two stitches, knit the two stitches from the cable needle.
  • C4B: Cable 4 Back. Slip next two stitches onto cable needle, hold them in the back, knit the next two stitches, knit the two stitches from the cable needle.
  • K: Knit.
  • P: Purl.
  • RS: Right Side.
  • WS: Wrong Side.

Mitts (Make 2)
NOTE: You can make the mitts completely identical, or you can substitute a C4F on the thumb cable.

Using smaller needles, cast on 30 stitches using a long-tail cast on.

Establish the cuff ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat the previous 2 rows until your cuff measures about 2″ from the cast on edge, ending with a WS row.

Switch to larger needles.

Establish cable pattern on the body as follows:

Row 1 (RS): P2, K2, P2, K5, P2, K4, P2, K5, P2, K2, P2.
Row 2 (WS): K2, P2, K2, P5, K2, P4, K2, P5, K2, P2, K2.
Row 3: P2, K2, P2, K5, P2, C4B, P2, K5, P2, K2, P2.
Row 4: K2, P2, K2, P5, K2, P4, K2, P5, K2, P2, K2.

(If you want to make these mitts for larger hands, add an equal number of stitches to the instructions in bold. For example, if you’d like to add an inch to the size, add two stitches to the first bold K5 and two stitches to the second bold K5…they will both be a K7 on that row and P7 on the WS row).

Repeat Rows 1-4 twice, work rows 1-3 once more.

Decrease row: K2, P2, K2, P5, BO 8 stitches, P5, K2, P2, K2.
Next row: P2, K2, P2, K5, CO 5 stitches using backward loop method, work rest of row in established pattern (knit the knits and purl the purls).

Work in the established pattern for another 2″ or desired length.

Bind off loosely. Sew side seam and weave in ends.

Lightly steam to block.

 

 

How to make a Boho Chic Headband: A Crochet Tutorial

February 9, 2017

Ola’s Boho Chic Headband

Like most people these days, I spend a lot of time looking on Pinterest for projects, inspiration, and development. Usually when I’m searching for crochet projects, I come across some gorgeous lacy design that’s just a chart or a picture linking to a website in Portuguese, Spanish, or Russian. Although I’m fluent in Spanish, the other two languages are just too far off from it that I can’t decipher what anyone is trying to do.

This time, I came across a simple chart with no explanations, no project linked to it, nothing. I thought, “That would be a really cute headband for Ola!” So I sat down and muddled through the diagram and figured out how to make something similar looking and thought I’d share the project.

 

What you’ll need:

  • A ball of “Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread” in the Classic 10 size or any lace weight yarn
  • A steel crochet hook, size 7 (1.5mm) or whatever hook matches the gauge for the yarn you’re using
  • Scissors (to cut thread when you’re finished)
  • A poly/clear ponytail band

 

Gauge isn’t important here though, because the length of the headband will depend on the size of the head you’re making it for. Ola’s little head is about 17″ around (for now).

 

Crochet Techniques You’ll Use:

  • ch – chain
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • tr – treble crochet

 

Instructions:

1. Ch 10 sts.

 

2. Join in ring.

 

3. Ch 4 sts.

 

4. Treble crochet through center of ring.

 

5. Treble crochet 3 more times in center of ring. Total 5 tr (includes your starting ch 4).

 

6. Right from that last tr, Ch 10.

 

7. Join in ring.

 

8. Ch 4 and attach it to starting ring with a sl st.

 

9. Turn.

 

10. Make 9 tr in center of the ring you just made.

 

11. Ch 10.

 

12. Join with sl st to form a ring.

 

13. Ch 4 and attach that to previous ring with sl st. Turn.

 

14. 9 tr in ring. Keep repeating steps 11-13 until about 4″ shorter than desired length. Keep in mind, with the nature of the stitch and how it’s worked, it will have a little stretch to it too. It may take a little trial and error before you get the right length. You want the total length of the headband (including the poly band) to be about an inch or two smaller than the circumference of the head it will go on.

 

15. With last ring, 5 tr and finish off.

 

Attach both ends of your work to a poly band however you’d like and that’s it!

 

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