Interview with Christine Guest

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(I love it that I have a guest named “Guest”)

For the Indie Designer Gift A Long designers have been graciously interviewing one another. Christine was kind enough to interview me, so I thought it would be fun to turn her own questions around on her and see how she responded:

As a person who likes to make things

What is your usual process on a fiber project, for instance, do you start with a yarn, a cute pattern, a need you’ve noticed, something exciting you saw in a movie you want to copy, or a technique you want to learn – then what do you do next and then what?

I once categorized my projects from my notebook going back to 1990. They were evenly split between having cute yarn and twitchy fingers; wanting to try out a new technique; and needing a gift. Now that I’m designing, most of my knitting is swatches and samples. I’m trying to find the intersection of my interests, and projects other people will want to pay for. I suspect that I need to learn more what other people like to make and worry less about my own interests, but I can’t quite believe it.

My current process is to gather photos of similar projects, * draw sketches, make a knitting chart that tests out any tricky bits, knit swatches* repeat * to *.


What aspect of the GAL will make gift crafting more fun for you?

The camaraderie.


Do you usually finish projects? If not, does it bother you?

Yes, I usually do finish things. When a project does gets shoved to the side, I figure my hind brain knows it’s business and let it go – unless it’s a project someone asked for. Then I make it on Sundays when I don’t do business knitting, and I’m motivated even to knit anything, just so my fingers can move.

How do you choose a pattern when you are going to make someone else’s design?

Either I can’t figure out how it was made by looking at the photo, or my kids are looking over my shoulder and begging winsomely.


What makes you feel you’ve gotten you money’s worth when you buy someone else’s pattern?

If I either cast on before my family is anxious to start a movie or I learn something, I’m happy. I don’t even mind too much if I have to retro engineer it from pattern notes – I don’t know why. I guess I figure if I’m not starting from a spread sheet myself, I’m already ahead.


As a Giftalong designer

What have you learned from being part of the GAL?
How to use Pinterest, Twitter, and the bundles feature.

If you participated last year, how does this year feel compared to last year?

More organized, less philosophical, and less harried.


As a designer

What about designing and producing patterns are you most adept at, what parts are you most fond of, and what parts are challenging?

I’m fairly good at solving technical problems, I seem to have that bulldog perseverance thing for mathematical stuff that is more important than talent. I’m disappointed that folks seem grumpy if you announce an “unvention,” I enjoy techniques and stitch pattern variations every bit as much as garment patterns, maybe more.

I love the flash of inspiration when I’ve been thinking about a project for a while. It’s like a photo that bursts in my head with trumpets and joy. I always grab a pen/pencil and try to find my special notebook even if I’m supposed to be making dinner so I can capture it. Even if it doesn’t work out, some part of it is usually good for another application. I like charting, swatching and making schematics. I’m not so good at writing and editing – I mix up my left and right, forget details and and bog down over simple, obvious things, maybe because I started out making my own designs, not reading patterns.

On my last pattern, I made myself wait a week after writing it to send it to the TE, so I could revise it again. It’s as if the mistakes had sprouted like weeds and I could see them myself – amazing. Just waiting that week and revising it again halved the TE bill. I should have started doing that much sooner.

What ideas have your tech editors nixed?

Trying to please every single person’s complaint on Ravelry about pdf patterns. You can’t both write everything out and save on printer ink. Next time I make super fancy mittens, I’m either going to make them charted only, or write each size out separately. Too many sizes at the same time is too much.


When you look at a publisher’s mood board, what aspect makes you know you can put a submission together in time?

I originally asked this question so I’d get tips from the folks I was interviewing, I find mood boards baffling!

I have yet to send anything in based on a mood board that has been accepted. My mind is fairly visual, but kinda literal, and wants to make everything out of cables. My kids, husband, the folks at In the Loop, especially Talitha Kuomi, have been helping me with the process. Talitha told me to look at what each editor has published before, and old issues of a magazine, as well as the current call. I’m taking my family’s word for it that swatch color is important (even if you will have to change the yarn anyway depending what yarn support is available). It’s becoming a new game – help Momma/Chris understand the mood board. And I think we are winning; because my last rejection was addressed to Christine, with constructive criticism, not Dear Submitter with a form letter.


Christine designs, not so shockingly, under the handle Christine Guest Designs. You can find her website here, and her ravelry page here.

Pretty Sleeves: Part 2

Pretty Sleeves: Part 2

posted in: Main, Reverie, Sweaters, Tips | 0

The next step to pretty set-in sleeves is seaming. Done properly, a sleeve seam can be a thing of beauty, and if you have set it up by doing jogless decreases as I counseled in Pretty Sleeves: Part 1, you are a good part of the way there. The keys to perfect seams are preparation and patience. You will also want either locking stitch markers or safety pins. Clover makes some great locking stitch markers, which are my tool of choice. Be sure to seam the shoulders of the garment, and to carefully block out your sleeves first.

You will be seaming each side of the cap independently, from the top down. To begin, find the exact center of the top sleeve cap. Your instructions should tell you how many stitches there are in the last bound-off row of the cap, as a check. Count carefully in from each edge of the cap top bind-off. If the number of stitches is even the center is between two stitches, if odd, then in the center of a stitch. Attach your locking stitch marker to the center of the cap top and then through the seam holding the shoulders together so that everything is lined up. Then take a second locking stitch marker and attach it to the bound off edge at the bottom of the sleeve cap, pinning that to the side seam of the sweater. Now the tricky part: find the center point between these two markers on the sleeve cap and attach that point to the center point of the armscye. Assess these centers independently: sleeve cap relative to that side of the sleeve cap, and armscye relative to that side of the armscye.

Elia by Julia Trice Moonshiner by Julia Trice Loden by Julia Trice

Voila! Pretty sleeves on Elia, Moonshiner, and Loden.

Once the two are pinned together, hold the fabric of the cap and armscye between those points (i.e. one-quarter of each the cap and armscye) together with your fingers and smooth the fabric from one end to the other from the center out to assess whether these areas can be seamed together smoothly. Do the same on the other side of the center marker, noting whether any ease on one side is equal to the ease on the other side. If it isn’t, move your center point on either the sleeve cap or armscye – whichever is making the distribution unbalanced. If you are attaching a stockinette sleeve to a stockinette body and the sleeve is standard (not pleated/puckered), you should not have to ease the fabric much to make the sleeve cap fit nicely. If you are seaming a lace body to a stockinette sleeve (as in Reverie, for example), you may have some easing to do on the lace side, which will necessarily be more stretchy.

Divide the remaining space between the center and the top and bottom points in increments of approximately 1″ / 2.5 cm by continually finding the center point between pins. Next seam the sleeve from the top center to the bottom, using a nice, even tension – not loose and not tight. I often place the sleeve over my knee when doing so (as pictured), creating a gentle curve that is similar to the curve of the fabric when worn. It helps to take out the slack and keep the sides even. While seaming, make sure that when you reach each marker you have seamed all of the fabric on both the cap and armscye sides. Because the intervals are so small, you should know if they do not match up in advance, and you can compensate for that by taking in a little more fabric on the longer side with the next seam stitch.

Repeat for the other side, seaming from top to bottom as before. Last, but definitely not least, re-block the entire garment after all of the seams are sewn. Sleeve caps will often be stiff and stand up a bit just after seaming. A good blocking will relax them, allowing them to follow the body’s natural curves.

Forty-three by Forty-three

Forty-three by Forty-three

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1. Loden Pullover, 2. Cable Bunny, 3. Moonshiner, 4. Corazon, 5. Long Way Home, 6. Ayako’s Vest, 7. Adiri, 8. Yesternight, 9. Mexican Wedding, 10. Frambuesa, 11. Chalice Cowl, 12. Adiri Slouchy

I just released my 38th and 39th self-published patterns, the Loden Slouchy and Missowski Cowl, which made me realize that the 40th self-published pattern, is, well, the next one. Which feels like an accomplishment. And, as is the case with us folks over 30, accomplishments always make me think about my age – when I started, what I’ve done, etc. I am especially proud because it took me from December 2010 through June 2013 to self-publish my first 20 designs – two and a half years – but only from then until now – a little over a year – to publish the next 19. That is progress!

Loden Slouchy Missowski Cowl

Anyway, with progress should come new challenges, right? I am turning 43 in early January, so I thought, hey, why not make it a goal to self-publish 43 designs by then? This will mot exactly be a huge challenge. I have one design finished and ready to go, a sample half-knit for another, and the pattern written for a third. That really only leaves one design out there completely unknown, and for that one I have ideas, it is just a matter of choosing. But it is a goal, and this will be the only year I can do this. After this point, the designs will easily out-number the years. Nice, no? It usually seems like the years out-number everything. As a nice bonus, I currently have 7 designs published with Twist Collective, so when I hit 43 patterns, I will have a total of 50 currently income-producing designs, and that is a lovely number indeed.

Most importantly, I am very happy with the designs I have produced so far. It is wonderful to be productive, but even more wonderful to be in love with the things you produce. I feel really fortunate to do something I love and be able to earn a supplemental income from it, and I feel even more lucky to have such a wonderful group of knitters to share it with. It’s been a good 39, and I am sure it will be an equally good 43 – in both senses.

Pretty Sleeves (Caps & Armscyes & Shoulders): Part 1

Pretty Sleeves (Caps & Armscyes & Shoulders): Part 1

I have a little trick for you that will vastly improve the look of your seamed knits and make seaming itself a world easier. It is so simple when you actually work it you will be shocked, and will end the problem of stair steps forever. All you have to do is p2tog at the end of the WS row preceding a RS bind off and k2tog the end of the RS row preceding a WS bind off. Every time you do this, you will need to subtract one stitch from the number of stitches to be bound off (because you already got rid of it!). If you only have 2 sts to bind off, p2tog at the end of the WS row preceding the RS bind off, then ssk at the beginning of the next RS row. For a WS bind off, k2tog at the end of the RS row preceding the WS bind off, then p2tog tbl at the beginning of the next RS row. You do not work the preceding decrease on the first bind off on either the RS or the WS, as that bind off is intended to be sharp. Just work it on any subsequent bind offs. Sound complicated? It’s not. Let’s see it working in practice. Let’s say that you have original sleeve cap directions that state the following:

BO 6 sts at beginning of next 2 rows.
BO 3 sts at beginning of next 2 rows.
BO 2 sts at beginning of next 2 rows.

You would instead:

(RS) BO 6 sts, work to end.
(WS) BO 6 sts, work to the last 2 sts, p2tog.
(RS) BO 2 sts, work to the last 2 sts, k2tog.
(WS) BO 2 sts, work to the last 2 sts, p2tog.
(RS) Ssk, work to the last 2 sts, k2tog.
(WS) P2tog tbl, work to the end of row.

If you want to make things really easy on yourself, cut and paste my revised directions above and insert the number of bind-offs given in the pattern for the first two rows, and the number of bind-offs given in the pattern minus 1 for the remaining rows.

I wish this was something that could be implemented within patterns more easily, but particularly across ten sizes (the number I offer), it ends up making the instructions so unwieldy as to be confusing and, quite honestly, frightening. I think you can see why. I tried it with a pattern and my TE nearly killed me. I ended up taking it out to restore balance to the pattern and the world in general. :) It takes only a little time to convert the instructions for any seamed sweater, however, and as you can see in the header photo, it is well worth it. Use it anywhere you have stacked bind offs – sleeve caps, armscyes, and shoulders.

Coming soon: Part 2!

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