Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Giftalong 2017: Interview with Erica Heusser

It's the start of the Indie Designer Giftalong! The GAL started yesterday, if you don't know what I'm talking about, go take a look at my intro to the GAL. This year I will be hosting interviews with some of my favorite designers in the Giftalong!

Today, I am pleased to have been able to interview Erica Heusser, and read until the end for a chance to win a free pattern! Without further ado, let's get to the interview!
Artifact Hat

First, can you introduce yourself to someone who might not know you and your designs?
Hi! My name is Erica Heusser (Ravelry username ericamay), and I’ve been designing knitting patterns for a little over two years. I create original colorwork patterns, often incorporating natural imagery like animals and plants. I like to design around images and symbols that are meaningful to me, and hope that they resonate with other knitters as well!

How/when did you start designing?
Once I started knitting in 2014, I found that I couldn’t stop! In about a year and a half, I had knit through every pattern that I had saved in my queue. At that point, I started to think about creating my own.
My very first design was the Songbird Mittens, which I had initially considered to be more of an experiment than anything. I posted a photo of them online, and they received a bit of attention, so I went ahead and wrote up the pattern… I started designing for my own enjoyment and to challenge myself, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my patterns with others now too!

Songbird Mittens 

What is your favorite design you have designed?
My favorite design will probably always be the Songbird Mittens- I remember the thrill of knitting up my own charts for the first time, and the excitement of publishing that first pattern. My Passerine Hat pattern remains the most popular one among knitters - which was a complete surprise to me!

This is your first GAL, right? What are you most looking forward to this GAL?
Yes, this is my first GAL! I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the participants as well as the other indie designers. From what I’ve read/heard, it sounds like a wonderful event and a great way for us to come together and support each other!

Are you planning on knitting along with us, or just being a designer?
I am planning to knit along with everyone. I haven’t decided what I’ll be knitting yet, but was excited to see how many designers are participating this year!

Passerine Hat
If you could knit with only one yarn for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Oh my, this is a tough question! I have so many favorites! If I had to choose just one, it would probably be Tosh Merino Light - primarily because I would love to have a wide variety of colorways to choose from. Finding just the right color (or colors) is so important to me!

How did you begin knitting?
When I was in grade school, my grandmom taught me to knit garter stitch. I put it aside shortly thereafter, and didn’t pick up my needles again until February of 2014. At that time, a good friend and colleague of mine (who is a knitter) inspired me to re-learn. I had a very demanding job, and found that knitting helped to ground me and take my mind off work in the evenings. A lot of my early projects were lace shawls because I loved the rhythms of lace knitting.

Wishmaker Mitts
What is your process of designing?
I take in everything; I’m constantly looking around for ideas, colors, concepts, etc. I usually start off with an image in mind, do some pencil sketches, and begin to draw up a colorwork chart on the computer. Lately I’ve been focusing mostly on fingerless mitts, because they provide such great little canvases for colorwork! Once the chart is complete, I’ll finalize my yarn choice and knit up a sample. Sometimes it takes multiple samples to really fine-tune the design and fit. The written pattern comes last!

What’s your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part of designing is the first time that I knit from a newly created chart. It’s so much fun to see the chart come to life! (I also love blocking - that’s one of my favorite parts of knitting in general!)

Honeylocust Loop
Do you tech edit/test knit your patterns before releasing?
I work with a tech editor, Katharine Seaman, who has been so thorough and helpful to me in my design process. I have also run test knits, but not for every pattern because many of them are based on the same template.

What was the most complicated pattern you have designed?
I don’t know that any of my patterns are more complicated than others. My Underwing Mitts have a slightly more detailed design, but I wouldn’t say that they are more difficult to knit than the others.

Where can I find you on the internet?
My username on Ravelry is ericamay.
You can find my patterns on Ravelry here:
I am also on Instagram as eheusserdesigns

Anything else you would like to add?
I started knitting as a solitary activity, and am beyond grateful for the unexpected benefit of the knitting community, both online and offline. It has been such a gift to make friends and connections with knitters all over the world. I’m thankful to those who have encouraged me throughout this process. And thank you for interviewing me! I feel honored to be included on your blog! :)
Thank you so much Erica for agreeing to interview for my blog! If you have not seen Erica's designs before, head over to her designer profile, or within the next week, check out her giftalong bundle for the 25% sale!

We have made it to the end of the interview, and it is now time for me to giveaway a pattern from Erica Heusser.
In order to be entered in the giveaway, please post below with the following items by November 26th at midnight PST:
- your ravelry name
- what you would like to see Erica design

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giftalong 2017: An Intro

Hello! I know it's been a long time since I've written. I have some big news! I have started dyeing yarn! You can find my yarn on etsy, at The Knitter's Sole.

The Knitter's Sole on Etsy


photo courtesy: UkeeKnits
Have you heard of the annual Indie Designer Gift-Along?

2017 is the 5th annual Giftalong.

What: The Indie Designer Gift-along (or GAL for short) is a knitalong that starts in November and goes until New Years Eve. It's a great opportunity to get last minute gifts for people in your life (or not!) while supporting Indie Designers.

When: This year, the knitalong starts on November 21st at 8 PM EST, and ends on December 31st at 11:59PM EST. The first week of the KAL there will be a sale! On many many patterns!

Where: The knitalong takes place over on Ravelry. If you do not have an account, it is free to join! You can also search the hashtag #GAL2017 on Instagram, as well. Many people use that hashtag. Come join the group!

Why: Not only is the giftalong great for knitting presents (or not!) and supporting the indie designers, there are also some great prizes! There are tons of digital prizes (from the participating designers!) as well as physical prizes. There are many ways to earn digital prizes, from chatting, games, posting your work in progresses, and more! For the physical prizes there are more restrictions. To be eligible for a prize, you need to knit a pattern that is pay-for (not free!), and post in the designated thread.

How: All designers participating in the GAL, have 10-20 patterns on sale 25% off for the first week of the giftalong. There is a participating designer thread (at this time has not been posted!) where all the designers participating post what they have in the sale, and if they are knit, crochet, or both! The code this year for the 25% off on the participating patterns is: giftalong2017.  The sale will run from November 21st at 8PM EST until November 28th at 11:59PM EST.

Have more questions? Visit the FAQ in the group!

This year is going to be an amazing GAL, in the group, and on my blog! Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any posts from me. See you in a few days!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

At last, it's finished!

I have been very lax on keeping up with my blog, but really there hasn't been much to post on here. I have also been battling a sinus infection, so I hope you forgive me, dear listeners.

I now have something to show you!

Heroes of Yarnia by Tania Ritcher

I finished my double knit scarf, that I have previously showed you all in the last blog post. I had so much fun knitting this scarf, but I am so glad it is over.

When the final clue released, I still wasn't finished with Clue 3 (out of 8). I was very behind. Tania had stated that we had to be finished by March 19th, in order to be counted in for prizes. That meant I had little over a month to do more than half of the scarf. I cannot believe I actually did it!

When I had only 2 weeks left, I had figured out I only needed to knit 20 rows a day, and kind of got discouraged. Then I had two days in a row that I knit more than 40 rows. I then only had to knit 15 rows a day. I saw the end it sight!

I am very pleased with how it came out, but more than that- I am pleased with my ability to tackle something new and totally out of my comfort zone. I was intimidated by double knitting for quite a while, but I am so glad I got over that irrational fear, and sat down and did it. It totally paid off, and now am totally addicted to double knitting.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Adventure of Double Knitting

I know it has been about a week since my last post, so I am going to write about what I have been working on during the small break: Double Knitting.

On Christmas 2016, I bought a pattern for a MKal (Mystery-Knitalong) over on Ravelry for a Double Knit scarf. Pattern: Yarn Quest 2017: Heroes of Yarnia by Tania Richter. 

This MKal is an 8 week KAL. You get clues every Friday, but there is another month to finish your scarf. It started on January 1, 2017. All the clues are now out, and I am just trying to finish my scarf. Here is my scarf:

Clue 1:

Clue 2:

Clue 3:

Clue 4:

As you can see, I am working on Clue 5 now. I also used a chart that another raveler charted out for the Yarnia logo, as a transition chart for the two halves of my scarf.

The yarn I am using is Knitpicks Stroll Brights in "Pickle Juice" and Premier Yarns Serenity Sock in "Black".

This scarf is one of 3 scarves in the 2017 Yarn Quest, and there will be a 2018 version next year. I bought the whole ebook of every pattern for the Yarn Quest over on Ravelry for $35, which is a huge discount!

In fact, there is another MKAL starting on March 3, for the Yarnia Blanket. I already have my yarn chosen. If you would like to check that you, you can find it on ravelry here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Finished Socks on a Sunday

Well, I did it! I finished the socks I was knitting on for my mom. I posted about it a couple days ago, and here they are finished!

I am quite pleased with how these socks turned out. My mom loves them, and they fit great!

Yarn: Opal Talisman
Colorway: "Gesundheit"

For these socks, I used my basic sock pattern I use. Here is the basics:

Cast on 60 stitches on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles
Cuff: Knit 2x2 ribbing for 12 rounds
Leg: Knit until knitting measures 4" from the cast on
Gusset: pick up 15 stitches either side of flap. 
Toe: Graft at 14 stitches.

Yardage used: 274 yards

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Belated is better than never, right?

It is a tradition, that every year for Christmas I knit my mom a pair of socks. This past Christmas, however, I did not. So, it is now February 2017. I started a pair of socks for her on the 9th. I wanted to get them done by her birthday, which was now 2 days ago. I have just finished the first sock, so therefore, didn't get them finished in time for her birthday.

My original basic sock recipe
Opal Talisman
"9273 Gesundheit"
Although, she knows that she is getting these socks, so I can knit on them around her which is making these socks go a lot faster, as you could imagine. I started the second sock today, while I have been laying on the couch not feeling that well.

All I need now is to go back onto knitting these socks, and hopefully have a pair for her before it gets too warm to wear socks. Wish me luck!

Grandma's Box o' Yarn from the 70's

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about my first attempt in learning to crochet. I thought today would be a great chance for me to tell you all about my attempts to learn to knit, because there were more than one.

It was in 2010 when I first wanted to learn to knit. I was at the local Ben Franklin (when it was still in business), and chose some neon variegated Red Heart Super Saver and some Boye metal straight needles in size 8 US. I was with my mom’s friend at the time in the local garden of my town. We had also gotten a pamphlet to teach us the basics in knitting.

I remember reading the pamphlet, and it told me how I had to wrap the yarn around my hand. It told me to weave the yarn up and down my fingers for tension. When I did it, it was so tight in my hands, that didn’t feel comfortable. I finally figured out that I can just wrap it once around my index finger, and it would be totally fine (which is how I still tension my yarn). After the wrapping of the yarn, it told us that because I crochet, I should learn continental knitting. Which, is wrapping the yarn in my left hand instead of the right.

Next, it was casting on. I struggled with the first couple stitches, but after that, I got the hang of it. I remember casting on a ridiculous amount of stitches. It was so many that it was all scrunched up on the straight needle. I then began to learn the knit stitch.

While trying to learn how to knit, I had a very hard time holding the yarn and needles at the same time. So, what I managed to do, was plop the left-hand knitting needle in between my legs, while I used the right needle to knit off. It was much easier for me at the time.

I had gotten about two rows finished before we packed up and left to go home. I remember taking it into the car, and knitting some more on the way home. Once I got home, I sat in front to the TV and knitted more on my knitting. I got pretty far, about 6” that night. I met up with the family friend again later that week, and she didn’t knit as much as I had.

There was one problem, though. My knitting had developed a lot of holes, and were laddering down rows. I was so frustrated that I put my knitting away for around a year or so. I didn’t think about knitting until summer of 2011.

I was on vacation in Missoula, Montana spending time with my dad. I remember we were at my grandma’s house cleaning, when my grandma found a box of yarn and needles from the 70’s, There were 2 skeins I remember clearly, one was florescent orange, and the other was florescent green. The needles were plastic straight needles that were so warped.

I found some youtube videos about learning to knit, and they had led me to the wonderful website of Ravelry. I promptly joined. After seeing all the lovely knitted projects on ravelry, I was so determined to knit and knit well so I can also knit some of those projects.

It was my all-time goal from then on to learn how to knit socks, for me and my family. A plan that I succeeded at! I love to knit socks, now and have knit a lot of them. I am currently in the process of knitting on socks for me mom. She loves handknit socks, and wears them a lot in the winter time.

Now it was time to start knitting again.

I started to knit a washcloth with the white acrylic yarn that was in the box. I had no idea you weren’t supposed to use acrylic for washcloths. I soon made a trip to Walmart to get some proper dishcloth cotton. I made around 5 washcloths before I left back home from vacation. I was so proud of myself. I know of only one of those washcloths that are still around today. My mom has it up in her cupboard.

After those 5 washcloths, I just kept knitting on anything and everything (except for sweaters…). I remember in 8th grade I knit my first socks, they were baby socks for my teacher who was expecting a baby boy. They were green variegated, and were two totally different sizes due to change of gauge, but whatever. My teacher was so impressed, and was a very nice recipient to those first baby socks.

It only took me two times to really get into knitting, but once I did, I fell hard. I now knit mostly every day. It is what keeps me sane during rough and stressful times in life.