Category: design

Try, try again

Holy moly I have been horrible at blogging this year. I told myself after finishing school, I would get back to blogging more regularly, but we can all see how that has gone so far. My silence here has not been for a lack of activity in the realm of “real life.” The biggest news of late is that Andy and I have finally settled into a new place (for the time being). Andy was offered a postdoc research position at the University of Southern California, so now we are Angelinos. It was a quick move with just over a week’s notice for us to find a place and figure out how to get all our belongings from Dallas to LA. But we’ve finally settled into the new place, and (most exciting, for me at least) I have my own dedicated office/craft space for the yarn-a-palooza that has become life lately.

Most of my time has been gobbled up by the yarn biz, which has grown in leaps since the start of this year. Originally, I didn’t want my knitting and design blog to be overrun with the yarn side of my life, but it’s grown so much and become such a daily part of my life, that I can’t avoid it’s inevitable take over. Ironically, as I spend more of my days completely surrounded, practically swimming in yarn, I find I have less and less time to actually make wonderful things out of it. I’m still trying to find that balance between the dyeing and design aspects of running a fiber-based business, but I try to get a few rows in every night before bed. Lately, those few rows have been dedicated to knitting, then reknitting, and reknitting yet again this little beast of a sock.

 

New sock design is knit in the LDY sock set Cassata + Quick Fling.

The teeny bit of colorwork on the hem has been giving me fits – always just a wee bit too tight to get around my heel. I finally gave up and looked up some tips for doing color work in a sock, when that stretchiness of knitted fabric is essential if you want to have a functional item at as a result of your precious spare knitting time. I tried the trick of turning the work inside out as you knit the colorwork to ensure your floats were long and beautifully  And – egads! – it worked. It worked out perfectly! The knitting still looks neat and even, but it stretches over the heel easily just like it should. Sometimes it’s the little victories that make all the difference.

Happy distractions

Confession time: I still haven’t finished that second sock that I blogged about last time. Even though I put the pattern out for testing; even though I tell myself daily it needs to get done for the final photoshoot; even though I’ve set a date on the calendar to release that pattern – I actually haven’t touched it in over a week. There are just too many distractions running around my brain and I blame pretty yarn. When you have a seemingly endless supply of colorful yarn just sitting there, the imagination tends to go a wee bit wild and I tend to get a wee bit distracted. Case in point, this knitting bag full of half-finished socks.

My distraction this week has been a knitting up a new sock design. Because I like to give myself extra work, I thought it would be fun to release a design that included the standard mid-calf length version of sock along with the option for an anklet sock. Because anklet socks are so darn cute. Fortunately, they also tend to work up rather quickly, so that feeling of (almost) instant gratification will hopefully keep the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome at bay. So far I’ve got myself one whole anklet and half a mid-calf sock, and I’m really excited to get this pattern released because I’m having a lot of fun knitting up the samples, and I’ve found that my enjoyment of knitting the sample tends to be a pretty good sign for how a pattern does once it’s released.

Even Rufus is enjoying these distractions I’m working on. I swear he’s admiring the socks, not trying to push them out of the fleeting sunspot on the fireplace so that he can bask in its warmth. 

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn Along.

New year, new knitting.

Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and escaped 2016 with only some minor bruising. It’s been awhile since I’ve devoted time to blogging, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get back into the swing of blogging on a more constant basis and to get caught up reading my favorite blogs (I miss you guys!).

The end of 2016 was a little bit crazy and a lotta bit busy. The big news is that Andy and I have officially moved from Toronto back to the US. We packed up our teeny apartment and bid adieu to Canada just before Thanksgiving. We drove all the way down to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with Andy’s family and then drove from Texas to San Diego to spend the holidays with my family. After spending so many Thanksgivings and Christmases away from family while we were in Toronto, it was really, really nice to celebrate with everyone.

Besides living out the Millennial dream of being a 30-something living at home with mom, I’ve been working hard on dyeing yarn and have a few designs in my back pocket that I’m hoping to get written up very soon so I can have them released early this year. Now that the holidays are over, I’m hoping to kick things into high gear and really begin growing both Long Dog Yarn and the design side of my business (all while maintaining some sense of reality and looking for a job to go with my fancy new PhD).

One of the goodies I’m working on now is a design for a brioche shawl (pictured in Long Dog Yarn colorways Feathered, Scorched, and Spiced Cider). I have been eyeballing all the gorgeous brioche projects on Ravelry for months, but hadn’t taken the dive into actually learning brioche knitting. One of the things I loved most about two-color brioche is how it allow you to play with wack-a-do color combinations that should in no way go together, yet produce something unexpectedly beautiful and unique. Plus, with it’s reversibility, you end up getting more bang for your buck, producing two different, yet equally visually stunning versions of whatever you are making depending on what side of the item is peeking out.

I used the brilliant website briochestitch.com to learn the basics of two color brioche, along with increasing and decreasing, and I’ve been happily brioche-ing away since. This is actually my second brioche design that I’ve been working on – the first one will be out for testing very, very soon (she declared, wishfully). Since I seem to be completely bitten by the brioche bug, I should probably just give in and buy Nancy Merchant’s beautifully inspiring book Knitting Fresh Brioche. Has anyone else dived into brioche knitting lately?

I’m also still working on those socks (pictured in Long Dog Yarn colorways Electric Parakeet and Highlighter) from a million years ago (okay, so it was just back in October, but it feels like a million years ago). To be honest, these aren’t the exact same socks. I started over in mid-December to add the contrasting cuff/heel/toe. Judging from the fact that one sock of the previous version of this design took me about 2 months to complete, I think I’m doing a-okay having this pair 5/8ths completed in only about 3 weeks. I’m hoping to put out a test call for this pattern by the end of the week (if I can’t get my butt in gear and actually get the pattern typed up). If you are interested in test knitting these socks (or any of my future patterns, for that matter) you can now sign up for my test knitter mailing list and be one of the first to hear of new test knitting opportunities. I won’t be posting test knitting calls on the blog any more, so the best way to keep up with my test knits will be the mailing list.

Hoping you all have lots of exciting knitting adventures in the new year!

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn Along.

Pattern release: Pearls on a String socks


2016-07-05-18-39-46 2016-07-05-18-42-18
I’m very excited to release the pattern for my newest design, the Pearls on a String socks. These socks feature a simple repeating cable pattern over the leg and foot that is easy to memorize and even easier work without a cable needle, making these socks a fun pair to whip up on the go. Usually naming a pattern is the hardest part of the design process for me. The pattern detail reminded me of beads on a string, and as I was working with Long Dog Yarn in the Freshwater Pearl colorway, the name for this design really just worked itself out for me.

I always find myself preferring sock patterns that are easy to customize to my preferences, and these would definitely fit the bill. The pattern is written from the top-down and worked using the magic loop method, but it would be very easy to convert the pattern to toe up and working with DPNS or two-at-a-time, if those are your preferred methods for sock knitting.

2016-07-05-18-40-04

You can now find the pattern on Ravelry, and to celebrate the release, I’m offering a 20% discount on the pattern until midnight, Sunday, Nov. 13.

Transitioning

Happy first day of fall! As the seasons transition here in Toronto, I’m finding myself in my very own transition period, trying to adjust to move from the academic world that has been my life for the past several years to find what the next path will be for me.

photo-sep-12-9-42-26-am

Right now, much of my life is consumed by my knitwear design work and dyeing for Long Dog Yarn. I still don’t feel that I’ve quite fallen into a routine and am still trying to figure out a way to balance both sides of this yarny business that I love that works best for me and my goals for the business.

I’ve really felt that the knitwear side of things has been dragging behind what I had hoped.  Part of that is due to an exciting reason, having two wholesale orders for my yarn that have left me with less knitting time than I would prefer. While my design time has suffered, it means you can go squish Long Dog Yarns in person at Knit1 in Chicago and at the McKinney Knittery in McKinney, Texas.

photo-sep-13-8-58-29-am

And the other reason my design is dragging? Well, it seems to be a bit of a lack of knitting mojo. Starting and stopping ideas without really completing anything. My knitting has just been missing that spark a bit. But I’m hopeful that it’s starting to come back. These past couple of weeks, I’m finally starting to feel that inspiration that drives me through the design process, with several ideas all rumbling about my head ready to get out. What a lovely coincidence that it lines up with prime knitting season.

photo-sep-09-11-43-25-am

 

 

What’s up, doc?

Last Friday was my Ph.D. defense. After a bit of a major anxiety freak out the week before, I actually went into the defense not feeling completely out of my mind with nerves (although I did wake up around 6am the morning of, but it meant I got some knitting in before I had to head to campus). Once the actual event got going, the nerves melted away and science brain kicked in. So I can now proudly declare that I am Dr. Brandy Velten, Ph.D. I still have a strong impulse to call up every agency that sends me physical mail and change my salutation to Dr., but I haven’t. Yet.

Since earning my freedom from the academic grind house that is graduate school, I’ve been diving back into my knitting and dyeing.

Photo Aug 31, 10 09 22 AM Photo Aug 31, 10 11 11 AM

I’ve got a new shawl design on the needles that I’m really enjoying at the moment. A nice simple background with a pop of color and texture that makes it a fun tv-watching knit with some bits of intrigue thrown in to look forward to every few rows. And because my shawl collection isn’t reaching outrageous proportions as it is, I’m anxious to get this one off the needles to accompany me on our evening walks with Rufus as the temperatures are (kinda, sorta, just a bit) getting cooler in these parts.

Photo Aug 31, 10 12 29 AM Photo Aug 31, 10 12 40 AM

A little while back, I couldn’t help myself from dying up a few Halloween-inspired colorways for the Long Dog Yarn shop. One particularly caught my fancy, so I had to steal a skein of Boo! for myself to knit up a pair of festive Halloween socks. The medium length color changes in the skein make up some striping stripes that I’m totally digging. I’m really looking forward to some mindless knitting time on these beauties!

 

Linking up with KCCO and Ginny.

Summer knitting blues

Photo Aug 11, 4 44 42 PM

My knitting basket is overflowing with inspiration and and possibility, and my design notebook is full of ideas. But, lately, I can’t seem to sit still long enough to achieve very much progress any any one project. I blame multiple, coinciding factors.

One is the heat. It seems like the past month has just been one heat wave after another with only a couple of days in between to bring a reprieve. With no air conditioning in our apartment, the consecutive days of high temperatures can make sitting down and working on a knitting project an uncomfortable experience. I also find the heat makes all of us in the apartment a bit restless, with Andy, Rufus, and myself constantly moving about to try to find a bit of comfort.

Photo Aug 11, 4 45 18 PM

On top of the warm weather, I have the heat of my approaching Ph.D. defense to contend with as well. It’s two weeks away from tomorrow and the anxiety is starting to build. Each day I’ve been working on my seminar presentation bit by bit and compiled my reading list to refresh myself on those underlying basics and get the juices flowing for those defense questions. Everyone keeps telling me that the defense is really a victory lap to celebrate and share the research of the past years, but it is still a nerve wracking experience. I know I wouldn’t be at this point if I wasn’t ready, but the long wait between finishing the thesis and actually defending it may actually be more difficult to endure than all the work I put into it!

Photo Aug 11, 4 45 08 PM

But cooler temperatures (and hopefully a successful defense) are on the horizon and hopefully soon I’ll be able to slip back into a comfortable knitting routine and enjoy having the pressure off my shoulders. I have goals to get several new self-published knitting designs out this fall along with a few designs scheduled in some third-party publications to continue growing my design catalog.

I also have some exciting news about Long Dog Yarn. You may notice the yarn shop has a brand new look as I switch over to a new self-hosted shop (although you can still buy through the Etsy storefront for the time being, if that is your preference). Long Dog Yarn will also be available in some yarn shops very soon, so keep an eye out for that announcement to find out where you will be able to oogle some Long Dog Yarn in person.

Hane shawl kits

Photo Aug 05, 1 38 19 PMPhoto Aug 05, 1 39 43 PM

The testing period for my newest design, the Hane shawl, is winding down, which means I’m getting into gear and revving up as I put together the final touches for the pattern release. Hane is my first design that utilizes my own line of yarns, designed specifically to showcase the speckled colorways I just love dyeing with a coordinating semi-solid tonal used for the lace border. My sample was knit using the Twist base in colorways Safari and Granny Smith.

Photo Aug 04, 12 48 24 PMTo celebrate this brand new design, I’ve hand selected some of my very favorite colorways from the Long Dog Yarn shop in a special kit. Each kit includes your choice of yarn, including a speckled colorway and a coordinating semisolid, plus a Ravelry code to download the shawl pattern at no extra cost when it is released on August 16. Preorders for the Hane shawl kits are now available in the shop and will begin shipping on Wednesday, August 10 so you should receive your yarn just in time for the pattern release.

I’ve had such fun working up the different color combinations and imagining how each would look worked up in this design. Picking out the yarn and coordinating color combinations is one of my favorite parts of the knitting process, so it was easy to let my imagination go wild when I don’t have the usual restrictions of having to make that final choice in the end. I may be a little biased, but I’m a bit smitten with these colorways. It really is hard to pick out a single favorite. I can’t wait to dye up these kits and watch the different combinations come to life in everyone’s very own Hane.

 

Thinking ahead

Photo Jul 19, 8 14 38 PMThe past few weeks have been marked by some pretty warm days here in Toronto. With no AC in our apartment the heat waves can lead to Andy and I enduring pretty toasty (not in that holly jolly way, either) temperatures that make you want to abandon all things wooly and never set foot in the kitchen again (except maybe to grab some ice out of the freezer for a refreshing cocktail).

Even though the heat has made progress slow on knitting lately, it has also inspired thoughts of cooler fall evenings and prime knitting season. So when the knitting needles aren’t clinking, I’ve been dreaming up some new design ideas and fall/winter inspired colorways for Long Dog Yarn.

Photo Jul 19, 8 15 36 PM

Most of the ideas are still that at this moment, just words on a page and thoughts in my head, but this week I dyed up some beautiful deep rusty orange to pair with Lichen, a speckled green colorway, and began knitting away on a new shawl design with a splendidly fall-inspired leaf motif for the border. The lace chart was a little tricky to get the hang of at first, having to remember to switch the symbols between right-side and wrong-side rows (you know, knit on the right side becomes purl on the wrong side). But after working a repeat or two of the lace, things are sailing smoothly along. My absolute favorite part of the lace is the asymmetry on the edge where the leaves stick out a bit and create a wavy edging. It just adds a bit of whimsy that I always enjoy finding in a knitting design.

Photo Jul 19, 8 14 44 PM

The color combination just screams autumn to me. Greens and oranges are not colors I tend to gravitate towards normally. Both my wardrobe and my stash are almost completely devoid of these colors, but every once in awhile it’s fun to take a step out of my comfort zone and see what other exciting possibilities lie out there in the unknown. And so far, I’m really digging this possibility and enjoying watching it grow.

Linking up with Ginny and KCCO.

 

Finding that groove

Pearls on a String Socks by Brandy Velten

To put it lightly, the past couple of months have been bonkers. It’s been a roller coaster ride of anxiety, accomplishment, uncertainty, opportunity, growth, self-doubt, and success. It is very much the beginning of a big period of transition for Andy and I as we both work fiendishly to finish our Ph.D. theses (thesi?) this summer / early autumn and move on to the next things life has in store for us.

After a lot of hard work and a little frustration, I finally had my thesis approval meeting last week and was approved to move on to the big final oral examination. All of this means that for now, my thesis is complete and will be sent off to be assessed and critiqued by experts within my field. I still have a few more steps in front of me before being awarded my degree, but it really feels like the major hurdle is past me – my supervisory committee is confident that I am prepared to defend my research and prove my expertise within the field. So while I feel great about what I’ve managed to accomplish thus far, I’m already feeling the next wave of anxiety about my final defense at the end of August.

Pearls on a String Socks by Brandy Velten

While all that was happening, I felt like I was suffering a bit of a crisis of confidence creatively. I consistently felt like every idea I had for a new design just fell flat. Everything I had on my needles failed to satisfy that primal part of my creative being. Nothing clicked. Nothing provided that little magic glow that drives my passion for design. And each time I ripped out a design, I just felt the weight of the pressure I had placed on myself to succeed grow and grow. It just wasn’t working on the design side of things, so I channeled a lot of that creative frustration into Long Dog Yarns hoping that the color and yarn would spark that inspiration within me again and move me past this design block.

Pearls on a String Socks by Brandy Velten

I’m not sure I’m entirely there yet, but I’ve been knitting and dyeing and just being kinder to myself. With a bit more spare time on my horizon, I’m hoping things will click back into place a bit more and I’ll get my knitting mojo back. I am trying to take that self-imposed pressure off of my shoulders and remind myself that if it’s not fun, then it’s not worth my time. And I’m starting to feel the simple pleasure in turning my ideas into a design coming back. I’ve been working on a new design using my line of yarn, Sock (colorway pictured is Freshwater Pearl), that also utilizes the speckled yarns that I love to both dye and knit. One sock down and one to go…