New Pattern Available: Dulcia

Dulcia, Twist Collective

Dulcia, Fall 2016 Twist Collective / Photography by Crissy Jarvis

I am happy to announce the publication of my brand-new pattern in the Fall 2016 Twist Collective: Dulcia.

Dulcia took a long and winding road to reach the public. I originally started designing this cardigan back in late summer of 2013 after I came across an unusual shade of Madelinetosh Tosh DK at my LYS: a pale gold shade called Winter Wheat. It was lonely sitting there on the shelf so I took it home. After doing a lot of swatching and digging through stitch dictionaries, I fell in love with a simple honeycomb stitch. I came up with the basic design and started knitting. And ripping. And knitting. And ripping. OMG so much trial and error to get it right! As I knitted the prototype I scribbled down the pattern. Then I went back and did all the calculations to grade the pattern for all the different sizes. I use a spreadsheet for this. I then hired a terrific technical editor so that all mistakes could be corrected and wording rewritten so everything made sense. The entire process (knitting, ripping, writing, & editing) took about a year (!!) due to other stresses in my life and the fact that I do this in my spare time.

Dulcia Prototype

Dulcia Prototype in Winter Wheat / Photo by Warren Agee

Near the end of the tech editing process I ran out of steam. I decided to change directions completely. I put away the pattern, left the design world, and studied portrait photography. Roughly a year later, after attending Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA in February 2016, I realized how much I dearly missed the warm and fuzzy knitting industry. I gave it another chance. My day job had changed, creating more space in my life for knitwear design. So I dusted off Dulcia and cast about for a way to publish it. I didn’t want to self-publish Dulcia; I wanted something different. I had never submitted a design to a major publication before, even though I had designed a few things for yarn companies, and a couple of those ended up in magazines. I knew the competition would be tough and the likelihood of getting accepted was slim, but I went for it. About the same time I noticed that Twist Collective had posted a call for submissions in the Ravelry Designers forum. “Oh boy, wouldn’t it be great to get into Twist – my absolute favorite knitting publication,” I thought. I wrote up my proposal and included photos I had taken of the sweater prototype (seen above). I was nervous and readied myself for rejection. I waited. And waited. And waited….

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Dulcia Neckline / Photo by Crissy Jarvis

And then in late April I got an email from Kate Gilbert, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of Twist. It started with the words “Dear Warren, I’m pleased to write you to accept…” That’s as far as I got. My heart stopped. I had been accepted! Joy! My mind raced, and in the next moment I was filled with panic: I’m gonna have so much work to do! What have I gotten myself into?

There was nothing to worry about, I would later discover. I received the yarn directly from Madelinetosh: Tosh DK in Prairie Fire, the most beautiful shade of pink I’d ever seen. And I’m not a pink person! I knitted up the sweater in about 4 weeks (with a couple days to spare), shipped it off, and worked at getting the pattern into shape according to their specifications. A couple months later, it was published in the Fall 2016 issue of Twist Collective!

I’m thrilled with the styling and photography, expertly shot by Crissy Jarvis.

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Dulcia Detail / Photo by Crissy Jarvis

You may view and purchase the pattern by visiting Twist Collective. I appreciate your support!

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Swatches

SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK

SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK in Silver, Nightshade and Blackberry

Knitwear design has taken a back seat to other things in my life during the past couple of years, but I’m back in full designer-mode these days, which makes me happy. I’ve been doing a lot of swatching lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK

One of my favorite yarns of all time. A soft merino with a tight twist and a great gauge for San Francisco Bay Area climates – a light DK, knitting up at 5-6 stitches/inch. Best of all is the color palette: STUNNING. I love in-between colors. Not just light blue or dark blue, but blue with hints of green. Or gray. Frosty blues and earthy blues. Deep dark teal or faded denim. Blues that lean towards purple. And the names: Mist. Nightshade. Sapphire. West Wind. Riptide. I count 19 shades of blue on SweeGeorgia’s website. It is my goal in life to own a skien of every semi-solid shade of this yarn. I wonder how long it will take?

Swatch for a new cardigan

Swatch for a new cardigan

This swatch will eventually be a sweater for myself – a v-neck cardigan. I fell in love with this gray shade (called Silver) as it sat lonely and neglected at one of my local yarn shops, Cast Away in Santa Rosa, CA. After buying every skein they had, I wasn’t sure if I had enough for a long-sleeve cardigan, so I added a couple skeins of Blackberry to my purchase. Horizontal stripes are not “supposed” to be flattering but who cares, I thought; I love stripes and they’re easy to knit. I wanted a relatively mindless project after all. After swatching with the two colors, I decided it needed a third. I found a skein of Nightshade in my stash which brought out the coolness of the Silver. It made the swatch sing. Next time I will share my progress on the cardigan.

Note: SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK is not always easy to find at your local LYS but happily you can order directly from their beautiful website: www.sweetgeorgiayarns.com.

 

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New Pattern: Townsley available now!

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Townsley by Warren Agee

 

I’m thrilled to announce the immediate availability of my new knitting pattern, the Townsley Men’s Vest. Available for sale on Ravelry for $5.00.

Visit the Townsley pattern page on Ravelry to buy your copy today.

Here’s the official blurb as it reads on Ravelry:

This man’s vest is inspired by the historic military bunker Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area a few miles north of San Francisco. The wavy traveling stitch pattern mimics the constant waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rocky shores of this spectacular coastal area.

Finished Chest Circumference: 34 (38, 42, 46, 50, 54) inches
86.5 (96.5, 106.5, 117, 127, 137) cm

Vest is worked flat in two pieces (front & back). A circular needle is used to knit neckband and armhole edging. Stitch markers are used to keep track of pattern repeats. On each front & back piece, sizes XS and S have 3 panels, while sizes M-XXL have 5 panels.

I had a lot of fun writing this pattern, and I have more to come! Stay tuned.

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Improve Your Photo Skills

Posing 101 on creativelive.com

As a knitwear designer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my photography skills. I may be able to whip up a pattern for a sweater but taking flattering pictures of said sweater is another challenge altogether.

Although not specific to the hand-knitting industry, I’ve stumbled upon a terrific resource to help improve your skills and create better photos. CreativeLive is a website that provides an amazing array of instructional videos aimed at the creative professional, including photographers of all kinds. General photography topics include fashion, portraiture, wedding, outdoor, posing, lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. Leading industry professions talk in front of a live studio audience and demonstrate what they teach.

These video classes are offered for sale so you can watch them at any time. What’s really cool is that they regularly present live streaming broadcasts of their classes, during which time you can watch them free! A calendar on their website lists all their live webcasts for the upcoming months.

Many of these videos are day-long affairs, requiring you to set aside large blocks of time (from 8a – 5p) to watch an entire class live, which is why paying their fee makes sense. For example, going price for a 3 session/42 video class is $130. They also run sales, like they’re running right now on this really great class on posing:

Posing 101 by Lindsay Adler on CreativeLive

The free preview is a whopping 45 minutes long and gives great advice on posture, directing your subjects, and most-flattering types of poses. In my opinion, the preview alone is a must-see for us designers photographing our creations on real people!

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New Pattern: Silent Waves Cowl

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I am thrilled to announce the release of my very first independently-published knitting pattern! Although I have several sweater designs in the works, I wanted my first independently published pattern to be something smaller in scope. A cowl would be the perfect candidate, since I really needed one since I started taking the bus to work. It can get chilly in the  mornings waiting for the bus to arrive, so several months ago I began designing, knitting, ripping out, and re-knitting a prototype of the cowl, as well as designing, formatting, and writing the pattern itself. I also did all the photography and graphic design. The latter was almost as much fun as knitting the cowl itself! Working full time made the entire task quite challenging; finding time to sit down in front of the computer to work on the pattern after spending an 8-hour work day at the computer was not easy!

SilentWavesCowl1

Two lovely people helped me pull this project together: Lisa Bogart (www.lisabogart.com), my test knitter, and Sandy Chandler (www.sandrachandler.com), my lovely model during the photo shoot. They made my job much easier. A heartfelt thanks to both of you!

The cowl is designed to fit fairly closely around the neck, at 20 inches in diameter. On my (apparently thick) neck it fits nice and snug; it will have some ease on the average woman’s neck. It can be made twice as long by doubling the number of stitches (and correspondingly doubling the number of stitch repeats). A longer cowl means you can wrap it twice around for a snug fit that will keep all the chills away.

The cowl is knit out of a lusciously soft and silky yarn, Traveler Sport by The Plucky Knitter (320 yards). Any sport-weight yarn may be substituted, such as Madelinetosh’s Pashmina. If you opt to make a longer cowl, you’ll need double the amount of yarn. The depth of the cowl is about 9 inches, just enough to shelter your neck from the cold. Again, if you have more yarn you can knit more rounds to make the cowl deeper and cozier.

The pattern requires knowing how to knit in the round and how to handle making simple one-stitch cables (ie. traveling stitches).

silent_waves_cowl_1

It’s a fun an interesting project; because the instructions for the stitch pattern are both written out and in chart form, it’s not hard to follow.

The pattern is available for download on Ravelry for $5. Let me know what you think!

Read more about the Silent Waves Cowl on Ravelry or buy now.

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Spinning for a Sweater, Part 3

English Shetland Wool Top in color ‘Spice Jar’ from Meat Sheep Industries

My first sweater-spin project is coming along nicely. The bundle of Shetland wool above is gradually turning into the skeins of yummy yarn below:

‘Spice Jar’ spun into a 3 ply yarn.

Up close, you can see the slight variation in color between the three plies that make up this yarn.

Close up of Spice Jar 3-ply handspun yarn

The effect is subtle, as you can see in the following photo of my first swatch! How exciting.

Stockinette swatch knitted from Spice Jar handspun

So far I have about 5 skeins. I have yet to measure my yardage. It will be very interesting to see how much yardage I get out of 24 oz. of spun fiber.

Next time I will talk about color variations in the unspun fiber and how that can translate into very different skeins of yarn.

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Making Friends with My Drop Spindle

I first learned how to spin using a drop spindle – one of the most ancient of fiber tools. A local hand dyer (Kristine from A Verb For Keeping Warm) taught me the basics at a trunk show she and her friends presented about 5 years ago. I fell in love with spinning. After creating finer and finer singles, I tried plying on the spindle. I fell out of love. Plying (ie. twisting two or more singles together to create a multi-ply yarn) on a spindle was too clumsy for me. I stopped spinning until I acquired a spinning wheel several years later. The Schact Hi-Lo spindle on which I first learned how to spin lay forgotten until January 2013.

English Shetland top on a Schact Hi-Lo Drop Spindle

Recently I found the need to pick the spindle up again in order to give a demo during a holiday knitting potluck. During practice, I fell back in love with the drop spindle. I managed to spin up a bunch of English Shetland top in a pale peachy-salmon color (a much lighter version of Spice Jar which I’ve blogged about before) which I will overdye to deepen the color.

Here is the unspun fiber:

Shetland Top in ‘Spice Jar Light’

Magically, within a few short weeks, it turned into this 4 oz. skein of 3-ply sock yarn:

3-Ply Fingering weight Shetland Wool Handspun on a drop spindle

What do I love about spindling? It’s so immediate. I can pick it up and spin for 5 minutes or an hour. Making coffee and waiting for the water to boil? Spin. Waiting for dinner to cook? Spin. Kinda bored and not sure what to do because you don’t have a lot of time on your hands? Spin on the spindle.

With wheel spinning, you go to the “spinning place” in your home, sit down, and spin for a period of time. Maybe your spinning place is a the corner of a room where the wheel is all set up. Maybe you have to pull out the wheel from where its hiding, set up your spinning chair, and spin. There is preparation involved – a ritual. You need to be sitting at the correct height. It’s location-specific. Sitting down to spin implies a commitment of time; if you’re going to all the trouble to make spinning preparations, you feel obligated to put in some quality spinning time – a half hour, an hour, an afternoon, whatever.

There is no commitment implied when spindling. You just grab the spindle and some fluff, either sit or stand where you are, and spin. Store your spindle & fiber in a small project bag and take it with you wherever you go. Keep it in the car. Standing in line? Spin. Going on a long walk? Spin. Sitting on a park bench enjoying the sunshine? Spin. Only have five minutes to spare? Spin!

Spindle spinning may seem slower than wheel spinning. Even so, all those little in-between times during the day in which you can pick up your spindle add up quickly. You’ll find that the spindle fills up more quickly than you’d expect.

How joyous is that?

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