Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Timeless Tuesday

When I first did Timeless Tuesday posts, it was to show items I made prior to the blog.  But I've had the blog so long now...and my cameras have improved so much....

I blogged about this creature here.  I was never happy with the photos, and wanted to reshoot them.  We've been having a lot of rain this week, so in between showers, I snapped these shots.

And, if you're on Instagram, take a look at my page, TracyKM Designs and you'll see a video of my youngest watching Swamp People while comforting this guy LOL.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

So Close, I Went and Bought More Yarn

I mentioned in the last post about how I sit and watch my daughter's figure skating lessons...here's what it looks like, LOL.

 The heads on the Teddy Bears needed to be stuffed as I go, since you start at the nose, increase for the head, and then decrease to make the back of the head sort of flat, and then pull the yarn through the last 6 stitches.  I was weighing all the unstuffed bear parts, and then the heads...and the heads were ranging from 140gr to 161gr.  It does appear in this picture that the brown one is biggest, but it wasn't.  I tried to pluck some stuffing to get them closer, and they ended up with blue:  151gr, rose:  140gr and brown 144gr (it was 151 gr to start LOL)
 Then comes all the other parts....
 I've got two finished, and waiting for faces.  Each time I make them, I learn new little tricks, and remember why somethings were supposed to have been done a certain way.  The pink marker on the brown bear is spread over the distance that the eyes will be, as opposed to the green marker, which is placed in the middle of the "eye" row, like the pattern says.  I should also remember to make the sides of the bear so I know where to put the top of the leg.  The patterns says you only need to do this if you're making a sitting bear.
I had a hard time placing the legs on the brown bear.  When I worked on the blue one, I stuffed the body, then sewed the head on, then the lower legs.  For the blue one, I just happened to have the unstuffed body on my lap, and folded in half, and noticed the shaping, so I marked where to put the legs.  Stuffed the body, then sewed the lower legs on.  Much easier.  Then the arms, then the head.  I found the ears to be a little wide, so I used the end of yarn to gather them in a bit.  Placed the same width apart as the eyes.

I also got out to Michaels' to get the yarn for the custom stockings I'm going to be working on soon.  I'm pretty certain it was made with either Astra, or a Mary Maxim DK yarn.  I found the original pattern (1952), but it's out of print.  Found a replica of the pattern, but there are a few differences, so I'm just going to work from the original stocking.  I couldn't find a green yarn, and my pink is a bit lighter, and the original "white" is not really white now, so I picked a different yarn in a close colour.  It seems many of the yarns come in bright white, and "aran" which is too beige.  I need "30 year old white" LOL!  I also picked up two balls of Fun Fur off the discount rack for Lucy.  There were so many other discounted yarns that I would have liked for myself, but I controlled myself!

Yarn In: 550gr + 1776gr
Yarn Out: 2572gr
Balance: 796gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $44.19 + $53.39 =$97.58 /108 days = $0.90/day

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Getting There

This feels like the longest time I've had between finished projects, in FOREVER!  I have all the pieces knit for the three  large teddy bears.  It's a Jean Greenhowe pattern, but I've adapted it to be knit without seams.  I had a scary moment last Saturday though.  I was at the rink in the morning, knitting at a table in the lobby viewing area, and reading the Toronto Star at the same time.  I had a funny thought--what if I somehow forgot to pick up my pattern when I leave?  It's in a page protector, is about 3-4 pages long, and as well, there was a two page pattern for the Pocket Bears (with the adaptations for the Pocket Bunny) and a dishcloth pattern.

This bear pattern is very important to me.  I received it in 1999, I think.  A pristine photocopy, handed out by the older lady helping to run the Intro to Sock Knitting classes at the Dufferin Museum, near Orangeville, Ontario.  Doesn't that place look neat?  Inside, there is a whole log cabin!  We would sit in a circle, near the big windows overlooking the fields.  It was awesome.  Now, of course, back then I was still a fairly new knitter, and the internet was not a great source of patterns.  Imagine a world without Ravelry!  Patterns were often shared between friends and relatives.  Photocopying a pattern to hand out to a class...well...we just didn't think about it much back then.  Her booklets weren't easy to find.  I will say, that I have never earned any money from this pattern though.  All that I have knit have been for family :)

So, later on, just before time to start dinner, I thought I might squeeze a few minutes of knitting in, since I had been working all day.  I sat down...and no pattern.  OMG.  In the True Tracy Way, I had jinxed myself.

I headed back to the rink, and straight back to my table.  The newspaper was gone, but my patterns in their page protector were still there!  Yay!  I have this incredible ability to not lose things.  Time and time again, something is missing, but I always find it--sometimes a long time later, sometimes in a strange place.

The pieces are all waiting now.  The three heads are stuffed, because of how they get closed off.  I just have to attach all the pieces, do the eyes and noses, and decide on how the bows will be.  So excited to be almost done!

Sunday, April 12, 2015


I don't have another finished project to show!  I've been working like crazy on three Jean Greenhowe bears, for babies born in the family last October.  I've also started to spend time on my Instagram account.  I don't know how to link, but if you look up TracyKM Designs, I'm sure you'll find me.  I am NOT stopping blogging, but it's a quick way to post pictures of works in progress, etc.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Back in February, when the Rude Robot was being picked up, my daughter mentioned to the client I had not done a Minion hat yet, even though they are so popular.  Well, of course, within a few days, I got an inquiry!  No problem, though, I actually had all the yarns in my stash (some Minion hats are in a softer yellow, but she said bright yellow was fine).

I searched Ravelry, and of course, there were a few free patterns to choose from.  I chose one with earflaps and worsted weight yarn.  I was concerned because she makes a note that many people find the pattern too small.  Indeed, the first newborn one I made up (didn't get the eyes done) would not fit easily on my newborn head.  I could get in on, but a baby wouldn't like it.  So I made the next size up and it fit well, though I think I did add a few rounds.  I then made the next size after that one, for the fall since baby is expected sometime this month.  For both, I did extra rounds before doing the black band as it seemed too high on the head, and I made the black band only two rounds instead of three.

 The newborn one got one eye and no mouth, and the bigger size got two eyes and a mouth.

I was searching for a new way to display/photograph these.  On one hand, it was great they were different sizes, as I don't have two "heads" in the same size.  I've learned a lot in the past year, and one thing I like to do is have my items placed at least 8ft in front of a plain background (and use a Portrait setting to get the blurred background).  But how to make an item stand up?  I've used several different things for the hats, and they've been okay, but wouldn't work for two hats at once.  I came up with an idea of invisible thread, and hanging the hats!
The picture above, they are dangling from an overturned garden swing frame on my deck. Below, hanging from a plant hook on my fence.
The bright colours really pop against the dullness of spring, and the fence.  I'm going to try this technique with other items too.  It's challenging though, using natural light outside--that day was going from super bright, to rather dim.  It's not often we get just a light cloud cover, and I'm too impatient to deal with diffusers.

Will I do another Minion hat?  I don't think I have enough of this yarn, but I suppose if someone wants one, I'm not actually adverse to making them.  If  anyone wants a preemie size one, I can also finish off the one I started! The bigger one was 48gr and the smaller one was 36gr, but together they weighed in at 85gr :)

Yarn In: 1226gr
Yarn Out: 85gr +2487gr = 2572gr
Balance: 1346gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $53.39 /98 days = $0.54/day

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Some Bunny Love You!

Yup.  Another Pocket Bunny!  This time, it's a Toronto Maple Leafs bunny!

I actually had to buy some royal blue yarn.  This is Patons' Astra, and sort of funny, it's the same shade of blue that I used in the Minion hats, for the same customer, but that blue was worsted weight.  I couldn't find a fuzzy royal blue.  I should have done the ear patches in a fuzzy white though!  D'oh.  Next time.  Once I had it knit, I had to decide on face colour.  I went with black, but I wonder if I should have stuck with brown.  Might have shown up more.  I think I asked my family and they voted for black.  And then the nose...I didn't want a bright pink nose, so I went with more of a dark rose.  I had a hard time finding a tiny maple leaf.  I thought I could use one for worsted yarn, but with my baby yarn...but it was a hard pattern to follow and not small enough and I wasn't going to #10 thread.  So...I created my own leaf.  A bit bigger than I wanted, and it seemed really harshly white on his belly, so I did the TML logo and made the white scarf.  Which I forgot to give to the client (I had taken it off to try to reduce the glare in the photos.

It's  a cute little fellow.  Someone has asked about doing a Philadelphia Flyers one.  I'm also thinking I might try a Pocket Yoda.

Yarn In: 1226gr
Yarn Out: 31gr + 2456gr = 2487gr
Balance: 1261gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $53.39 /95 days = $0.56/day

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do I, or Don't I?

There are lots of posts on the internet about why knitting patterns cost what they do.  One of the best I've read lately is by Woolly Wormhead:  http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/2014/9/17/the-true-cost-of-a-pattern.html  and her followup: http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/2014/9/18/the-cost-of-a-pattern-a-follow-up.html .

(Pictures in this post are designs I've created myself!)

A machine knit dress I designed for my youngest, 2010

I'm particular about how I expect patterns to be written.  Now, if you've looked at any of my "patterns/tutorials", you might think I'm talking out both sides of my mouth.  However, I've tried to be upfront and honest with my tutorials, and they are free.  I do still have certain expectations for free patterns, though I know enough to not complain if there are things missing!  But if I'm paying $7 for a single pattern, I expect it to follow standard pattern writing, and include all info--especially the gauge (and telling me that each crocheter works to their own gauge so it's not necessary to put in the pattern, is NOT an acceptable answer!).  Single patterns cost a lot, compared to magazines, and Woolly talks about that.  All the work comes down onto the pattern writer who is also now the publisher.  That's a lot of responsibility.

Custom designed Chunky Cable Blanket, 2014

I try to support pattern writers.  I want them to succeed and write more patterns worth buying.  But, I'm also on a tight budget.  So, sometimes, I will try to work things out on my own.  I'm somewhat patient, and experienced and unafraid.  Sometimes, it's just quicker and easier to buy a pattern, especially if a client sends me a picture of that actual pattern!  I will never share patterns I have paid for though.  I will suggest knitters go to the library, or look through Ravelry, or learn to use gauge and measurements to create their own designs.  Just from the limited pattern writing I've done, I know how much work goes into "real" patterns, and how deserving (most) of those writers are.  If a knitter has spent 20 hours knitting, testing, writing, photographing, publishing their pattern (and likely a lot longer when you add in yarn research, shopping, and swatching), then think of how many $5 patterns they need to sell to recoup those 20 hours at minimum wage.  Is it even possible for the average, new, pattern writer to sell that many patterns in a reasonable amount of time?
Sideways knit newborn cap, 2012
Epic Hat, 2012

Kelly Sweater, custom order, 2014
So, I usually present my "patterns" in a casual manner, with the intent that readers learn how to make it themselves, not be told how to make it.  I want to empower knitters, to teach them, not make them into little knitting robots.  And, I feel that none of my patterns, so far, have been all that unique.
Bear Set, 2014

Except for the Pocket Bunny.
The first Pocket Bunnies, 2014

Yes, there is this awesome designer on Ravelry.  Her creatures are bigger than mine, but do have a similar feel.  I have looked at many of her pictures, but I know if I ever get asked to make a Pocket Elephant, Rhino, or Duck, etc, I will buy her patterns.  I have no idea of how well they're written, but she presents her designs on Ravelry in a professional way, so I have hope.

I've been asked if I'm selling the pattern for the Pocket Bunny.  The first ...5 or so were somewhat experimental, lots of fine tuning.  Now I have the pattern written down, and as long as I stick with the same weight of yarn, it's been working out well.

I have one more, almost ready to show!

I am so torn as to whether or not I should publish this pattern. These are my babies.  I love designing each one (even though the pattern is the same, there are differences with each order), and selling these, and I'm not sure I'm ready to see other knitters create them.  I know that sounds selfish!  I want others to also enjoy the joy a Pocket Bunny brings.  I'm just not sure I want other knitters to make them.  Yet.  I want to be able to write the pattern and publish it as professionally as possible (it won't be a free pattern).  Which means more knitting, picture taking, more computer time.  I want to tweak the cheeks a smidge more.  I've got some other projects I need to focus on, though I don't know if that will bring in any money either.  

If I get tired of making these (is that possible?!), then I might be ready to write the pattern. Until then...I encourage knitters to try on their own...that's how I created it!  It all just comes down to stitches, increases, decreases, short rows...however, if I find someone else publishing anything close to this, I will be furious! Just a warning :)

Oh....and I had an idea last night to create a Pocket Yoda....