Crisis of Design Faith

July 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

Hello, lovely readers. I’m having a wee bit of a crisis of design faith. Not in my ability to design beautiful things. I like my designs, a lot. That’s actually part of the problem: I have at least 30 designs in various stages that I love and that I really, really want to make. But the work of turning them into patterns is tremendous and time consuming, and it’s also not cheap, and right now I’m not in a position where I can stop doing what I’m doing for a Real Job (nor do I want to — I love my job and it gives me a great deal of personal fulfillment and satisfaction to help other knitters and crocheters!) in order to design full-time.

I have seen very little $$ return from my self-published stuff, which I think is more due to lack of effort to market/sell on my part than anything else, but I’m not sure I really want to put more effort into marketing because that’s not something I enjoy (though I do really need to get this website redone either way, which would be a good first step). Also, designing for patterns (as opposed to designing just so I have the thing I imagined) means I need to use reasonably available yarns, which often means I need to go out and buy yarn instead of using something old and discontinued from my stash. And, if I’m going to continue on and be serious about it — and if I’m not going to be serious about it, why continue on? — I need to put myself on a strict production schedule, which sucks some of the fun out of it.

On the other hand, I really enjoy designing. Not just the “fun” stuff of the initial creation, but the problem solving and grading and charting…all of it. BUT, if I take the time to do all of the grading etc. to every design I will never be able to make all of the things I want to make (and that’s not even including all of the beautiful things by OTHER designers that I’d like to make!). I’ve already pretty much decided to give up magazine design work, mainly because I don’t get to keep the samples and even if I did, they’re not generally in my size and I just don’t have the time to reknit them in my size (someday we’ll talk about how I’m a ridiculously slow knitter). I design things I love and want to wear, so not having one for me just kills me sometimes (Tonks’ Togs, I’m looking at you). So maybe the answer is to publish only accessories — things like cowls that don’t need to be sized out and graded — and to make garments for just for me (or whoever) as one-offs, not to be published.

But now I’m thinking of a couple of garments that I really, really want to design — like, not just make the sample but design and see the finished pattern out there in the wild for others to make. And I’m thinking I want to get into tech editing, too (see above re: grading is fun for me). I honestly don’t know what the answer is going to be. But I need to figure it out and right quick, because this indecisiveness has mired me down and I’m not even getting some of it done.

Make’n’Tell Day 10: Qvickie

February 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

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This is my second time writing this post, because my phone already lost it once. Sigh. Anyhow, I’m tired, so this is going to be short (though if you think about it, now it’s twice as long as it was originally). Cast on a wrap in sunsetty colors last night. I have 10-12 random yarns in various shades of orange/red/pink/mauve, so I’m just going to grab them as they come up, and then roll a d20 (20-sided die) to determine how many rows to work. Everything’s just going to be garter stitch, with the occasional drop stitch row.

Wimpy

January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Y’all, I have been under the weather for a good(bad) week and a half now. Yay, sinusitis. I thought I finally had it licked, but  tonight it seems to be rearing its ugly head again and I just don’t have a Tasty post in me along with the submission I need to get sent out. BUT, tomorrow there will absolutely be one, for the delish GF cheesy rolls I mentioned last week. AND there will also be for sure a FIotIF (hint: it’s also something in my kitchen). In other words, to paraphrase Wimpy: I will gladly blog for you tomorrow, for a day of rest today.

PS: I am enjoying the Creativity Challenge I tweeted about last week, but I’m having a hard time really getting it in gear (which I’m also blaming on the sinusitis). So, I’m going to give myself permission to be a day behind (because I already am and trying to catch up will just make it  worse) and do Day 1 today.

Day 1’s challenge was to come up with a one-word theme for your creativity for the year. My one word is: Make. I have a really bad habit of coming up with ideas and even thinking through in detail how to get something done and then just never getting around to it. So my theme for this year is going to be the making itself, getting my creativity out of my head and  into the world in some tangible form. Now I just need to make the project for the challenge (see what I did there?).

It May Be Cold Out There, but It’s Chili In Here!

January 7, 2014 § 1 Comment

Snow day lunch

Snow day lunch

A while back, Becky expressed an interest in taking art lessons. I’m certainly not going to discourage that, but we had a tough time finding them at a place and time that would work for us (SaHMs are the rule around here, so most stuff is after-school type hours, unfortunately). I was finally able to find a reasonably local place with a class time that works for us, and she’s been having a great time with it. While she does her art lessons I get to go wander the town, which is quite lovely and chock full of fun little stores (there’s even a yarn store, y’all!).

One of my favorites is the local butcher who, in addition to having amazingly delicious hot dogs and all kinds of German specialty items, offers exotic meats including venison. So this year for Christmas Eve I decided to revive a tradition from my childhood: Venison Chili. For as long as I can remember, my dad made his chili for Christmas Eve. The beans were soaked overnight, and then the chili cooked all day. In the evening, friends and family would come over and we would all have chili and then gather around the tree and open presents.*

Once, years ago, I asked for the recipe for the famous chili and received a copy…but the chili came out nothing like I remembered it. My dad did tell me that he used cubed up pork and beef in addition to the venison, and so I did that, too, but what I ended up with bore only the vaguest resemblance to the chili of my youth. I strongly suspect that this is because after years of making it, Dad didn’t follow the recipe much anymore.

This time, with years more experience and confidence under my belt, I decided to follow Dad’s lead and just wing it. And — with the exception of the beans, which didn’t soften quite enough for some reason — what I ended up with was pretty much exactly what I remember. The only thing that was missing was the traditional flour tortillas we always served along side it to cut the heat (heaven help the guest who tried to doctor Dad’s chili with ketchup to make it a little milder!), but we had some nommy gluten free cheese bread (next Tuesday’s recipe!) that worked just fine as an alternative.  As an extra bonus, the chili stores and reheats really well — the picture is from  a few days later, alongside some cheese grits (recipe for cheese grits: Make grits. Add cheese to taste.).

* Yes, we opened presents on Christmas Eve. That’s when everyone could get together. Santa came Christmas morning, and he brought mostly small gifts that fit in stockings and oddly shaped things that would have been a pain to wrap. Santa didn’t wrap presents.

Dad’s Christmas Eve Special Venison Chili

Hot chili may be an oxymoron, but it’s a delicious one!

Ingredients:

  • app. 1lb sirloin tips, cubed
  • app. 1lb pork, cubed (I used a loin)
  • app. 1lb venison, cubed (I used a shoulder )
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • 2 cans pinto beans OR 1lb dry beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Handful fresh herbs: sage, parsley, a little oregano

In a large pan, brown sirloin tips, then pork, then venison (leave the fat in the pan to use when browning the venison).

When finishing up the venison, toss in the garlic to soften.

Puree tomatoes.

Transfer all meats (and the garlic) to a large stockpot. Add beans.

Sprinkle chili powder over meat and beans.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste and half the broth to the pot. Toss in herbs.

Simmer gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 3-4 hours (the longer the better). Much like spaghetti sauce, if you need to run out for something, just turn off the heat under the pot and then start it up again when you get back.

Add broth as needed, then water if necessary after you’ve added all the broth. You want a nice, thick consistency somewhere between soup and stew.

Serve warm.

My Heart Shaped Bruise

October 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I did this to my hand yesterday. No idea how. Hurts very much bad. It’s going to be a loooooooong hurricane if I can’t knit or crochet.

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Cat, I’m a Kitty Cat! And I Meowmeowmeow and I Meowmeowmeow*

October 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

You know that sweater you didn’t get a picture of yesterday? Ta-da!

Yes, that is the best picture I can take of myself without my big fancy camera and tripod. It doesn’t help that my new phone (which I lurvs) is just slightly too large for me to hold in one hand.

This is a super-crazy modified version of Big Tile Pullover from the Fall 2012 Interweave Knits. The most obvious differences are the motif (the originals were a little too phallic for me) and the change to a mock t-neck from the full turtle on the original (my story here is that I thought it would be too bulky with the short sleeves and IN NO WAY indicates that I was too damn lazy to finish it). I also shortened the waist shaping a bit (by removing rows between the decreases and increases. I like the end result, but I’m not 100% in love with it. There are some yoke shaping issues — I had to leave out a bunch of rows there to keep it from being waaaaay longer than the pattern said it should be (yes, I compensated for the few extra rows from the change in motif) — and it rides up like crazy, which I’m not sure is more because of the way the arms are shaped or another issue caused by the yoke shaping. I don’t wear a lot of yoked sweaters, so maybe this is just a yoke thing. In any case, it is fun and cute and warm and a pretty quick knit, so overall I am pleased.

Oh — on the new motifs: these were the kitty cats from one of my stitch dictionaries (I want to say the Knitting Stitch Bible, but don’t hold me to that). I worked them as Fair Isle, but they really should be intarsia. And I did the top few rows of each one in duplicate stitch, which I still hate (sorry, Docstar — from now on I’m bringing all my duplicate stitch to you). So that won’t be happening again any time soon. The heart is there because I neglected to make sure my chosen motif would actually work evenly across the stitches I had available, and it’s on the right instead of the left because that’s where the end of the round happened to be and I wasn’t ripping back.

Now, back to designing!

*This is my current alarm: 

Hoot! There it is!

July 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last year for Christmas, one of the many delightful gifts I received from the kids (read: Kit) was a certificate for some fresh ink. I decided to redeem it as a reward to myself for finally finishing the Neverending Sweater (more on that in a later post, and yes, that’s where I’ve been keeping myself and why blogging has been sparse at best), and since the design I wanted featured a big ball o’ yarn, I wanted to try to get it before heading up to The Knit and Crochet Show last week (again, more on that later — I got a lot of stuff to tell y’all about!). So two Fridays ago, I headed over to Lola’s Tattoos in Bogota, NJ and Johnny hooked me right up with this:

It’s (not) a press on tattoo!

I designed and drew it myself, and although I was cool with Johnny making suggestions/changes, he thought it was cool the way it was and the only real change he made was to make it a little larger so the fine lines wouldn’t bleed together.

But what does it mean? Well, I’ve wanted to get an Athenian owl for a while now, and I’ve also wanted a yarn-y tattoo. When I went to college (not that long ago — I was 30 when I finally got around to doing that), I fell into the Classics program and absolutely loved it. I often find myself tempted to consider going back for a PhD, but have heard too much about the crazy politics involved in those programs and I’m just not interested in that part of it. But I do still enjoy supplementing my education by reading lots, and I find ancient civilizations and religions just fascinating. In case you don’t know, Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and the owl is her symbol. In addition, she is the patron goddess of handcrafters and artisans, so I thought it would be appropriate to have her owl holding a ball of yarn. As I was researching images to base my tat on, I found an ancient coin that showed the owl grasping a spindle full of wool (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page) which I thought a) was pretty spiffy and b) lent even more support to my idea. (Okay, so the description says it’s an amphora that the owl is perched on, but it really looks like a spindle to me.)

Then a couple of months ago, I came across a tattoo of an elephant done in this really awesome style, outlined in thick lines with little random designs, and something  just clicked. I knew I wanted to mimic that style for this tattoo. I found it originally here — well, on Pinterest, but pinned from there — but supposedly it’s by someone named David Hale. I can’t find any evidence to support that, but if you like beautiful tattoos, his gallery is worth flipping through.

So I sat down one night, and what you see above is pretty much exactly what I drew. I had originally thought to get this tat ( back when it was still generic “owl holding yarn ball” — not as drawn) on the underside of my wrist, but then someone (can’t remember who) (see what I did there?) suggested the shoulder as an alternate location and clearly, that was sheer brilliance. So now I have my little craft owl — whose (again! I did it again!) name is Pete*, incidentally — perched on my shoulder, whispering wise and crafty ideas into my ear.

*When I was a very little girl I had a velveteen stuffed bulldog named Pete that was bright electric blue and white, and my dad used to make up off-the-cuff stories about Pete the Bulldog for me sometimes at bedtime. Pete was really smart and creative and silly and funny, and every time I thought about what to name my owl, I came back to Pete. I know it’s not a bulldog, but it just works for me and makes me smile.

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