Success, failure, and feedback

The deadline to submit for the winter issue of Knitty has been tossed back to Monday. I had been planning on submitting the Super Secret Project of Mystery, but even with the deadline extension I don’t think I’m going to make it. Most of it is in chart form, and for the life of me, I can’t get Photoshop, Illustrator, or Excel to do what I want. Excel was actually working pretty well for me, but then it turned out that the knitting font I’d downloaded puts a particular cable stitch across two squares when I want it to extend across three, and if I use it I have to put in all these ugly little “no stitch” squares that confuse the issue and make it look like there are holes in the middle of the garment. I wouldn’t be able to follow a chart like that without confusion, and I don’t want to offer a chart like that to other people. I don’t even want to submit a chart like that on the off chance that it would be accepted, because I don’t like the idea of trying to follow it one little bit.

There’s the failure right up front. I really had hoped to have it completed and submitted and in the end, I just don’t think I’m ready for Knitty yet.

The good part is that I wrote down every step of my knitting as I was working on this project. My charts that I’ve drawn out by hand look perfect, and I discovered that sizing up or down is much easier for me when I’m drawing. My visual arts/no math background means that my brain feels oh so much better with a tangible drawn out chart to look at. I can do the math all I want, and I just don’t trust it until I can see what it does. Drawing charts makes that totally possible.

I’ve been looking at people’s wishlists of what they’d like to see in a pattern, and I’m trying to adhere to that this time (and not to focus on what a miserable failure Maude Louise is in comparison to these lists – I will return to Maude in good time, but I’m slow) and I really think this new pattern is going to be easy to follow and flattering to a large number of people.

That part feels good. Now here’s what I need feedback on. If I carefully draw out my charts by hand, ink them, and scan them in, adjust them a little in Photoshop, would you, as a knitter, feel comfortable with that? I haven’t seen any patterns done this way, and admittedly, even my most careful inking won’t be as clean as what a computer can do. I’m planning on offering this pattern for sale, and I want to make sure people get what they pay for. I’d love to release the pattern sooner rather than later, but if a hand drawn chart worries folks, then I will take my time and figure out a way to make the computer produce a clean, elegant pattern with no ugly “no stitch” holes. I think my hand drawn charts are quite readable, but it doesn’t seem to jive with what people think of when they purchase a pattern to me. The advantage I can see to the hand drawn pattern, though, is that I can make it fit the right size for printing while a chart done in Photoshop will be made larger and sized down. Since Photoshop uses pixels rather than vectors to size up and down, any resizing will blur the pattern a little. I’ve had this problem with patterns I’ve purchased and printed out. The charts are fine until I print them and then they become fuzzy.

So think about it, and let me know, either in the comments, or through an email.

I’d also love to get 4-6 test knitters come time to release the pattern, just to make sure that the pattern is as easy to follow as I hope.

With all of this, you’d probably like to see what I’ve been working on, right? Well, several of Mr. Kninja’s coworkers were kind enough to model and photograph the Erin shrug, named for its eventual recipient, and because my foolish brain couldn’t resist the slight pun.

So much fun to work on. Seriously, seriously fun cables, and because the yarn (RYC Soft Tweed) is thick, it was a very fast knit.

Onward! Holiday gifts are being finished right and left. Here’s the modified One Skein Wonder I made for my friend Christine, and the main part of the shrug actually is from one shockingly huge skein.

I got the skein in a swap, and the previous owner wasn’t sure what it was. I’m not sure either, except that it had yardage out the wazoo, and it is made of animal hair, probably merino. I set a short bit of it on fire (Fire! Fire!) to see what it was, because it felt drier and smoother than most wools I’ve worked with and didn’t really feel like acrylic either. The resultant smell of burning hair and crispy Cajun blackened yarn was telling. The edgings are done in the recycled mohair I got at the thrift store, and which I will never run out of. I cannot believe how much of that stuff I have.

The colors are really glorious. I wish I knew what that yarn was, because I love it.

Finally, Twisted Stitches tagged me as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger! Woot! Check out her lovely hemp skirt and beautiful snoods – they’re really wonderful. (I really wanted a snood when I was in high school and had hair down to my mid back. It seemed like such a fancy way to keep your hair up.) Thank you, Twisted Stitches!

As far as I can tell, my duty now is to pass this on. Here goes.

* Sarah at Blue Garter – Hers has everything I want from an ideal knitting blog: beautiful pictures of beautiful knitting, eloquent and elegant writing, the twists and turns of learning new things, even two lovely patterns (it may not be on the pattern page yet, but the Axel Mitts are most definitely a pattern) and a kind, responsive writer.

* Fiona at Confessions from the Home Office – I don’t read a lot of generalized blogs. There are so many good ones out there, but I can’t seem to follow most of them with any regularity. This is the one that I do follow, because Fiona’s writing just draws me in, and I love how well she can draw humor out of everyday situations.

* Wazz at Needled – She knits beautifully, she does beautiful crewel work, and her writing is beautiful, too. Check out her book reviews – do! They’re far more thorough than what I’m used to reading, and there’s an unexpected depth that comes of an age when a review is too often, “OMG it was so good!” in a blurb on Amazon.

* Kim at Yarn Abuse – When I started writing this blog, I remember thinking that it would be great if I could write about knitting and manage to be entirely hilarious at the same time. I think I manage to elicit the occasional polite titter, but Kim somehow manages to write an entire blog about knitting that actually makes me guffaw. (This post is still quoted in the Kninja household, by Mr. Kninja no less, and he does not read knitting blogs. Read it, and wander about your home muttering, “It is I who love the so-est!” until you get locked away for being a crazy person.)

* Mary, the Incorrigible Nightowl – I don’t keep up with Mary’s blog as well as I should, considering how much I enjoy her writing. She’s witty, she’s funny, and she knows where the good stuff on the web is to be found. And she has cute kiddos.

So, um, tag!

4 Responses to “Success, failure, and feedback”

  1. kae Says:

    I haven’t made my own charts, but I wonder if you might be able to create your own symbol for excel for that three stitch cable?

    Also, Maude Louise wasn’t a “miserable failure” by no means! It’s a beautiful sweater pattern , and even the best writers make a few errors here and there!

    I’d also be interested in being a test knitter, depending on what the project and terms/conditions are šŸ™‚ I’m based in Australia though, so that might be an issue?

  2. S Says:

    I probably wouldn’t mind a hand-drawn chart, as long as it was clear and neat and you could really tell the difference between all the symbols.

    And then there’s always this rather awesome thing, though I don’t know if it’d work for what you have in mind:

  3. Sarah Says:

    Oh, good for you! If it makes you feel any better, I can’t get Excel and the knitting fonts to play together even as well as you can. I turned in a hand-inked, graph paper colorwork chart for the socks Shibui is publishing, but of course that will be converted into something pretty on a computer by someone clever than I. But let’s not forget that the great Elizabeth Zimmermann’s charts are ALL hand-drawn, in all her books and in the newsletters. So the short answer is no, I don’t mind hand-drawn charts a bit, so long as they’re neat and legible, as I’m sure yours are. Erin is a beautiful shrug, and I wish you much success with her!

  4. Lori Says:

    I love the shrugs. They look great.

    I can’t even imagine trying to get a knitting chart together. I have enough trouble reading them, much less creating them.

    With that caveat about my chart-reading abilities in mind, I’d be happy to test knit your pattern.

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