Tag Archives: independent designer

This is Community

Last week I received a message from Amanda at Fluff and Fuzz, you probably know her knitting patterns for toys, they are very cute and very popular, here’s one of them…

fluffandfuzzmonster

Amanda told me (super politely) that she’d spotted some funny business over on MISI. Someone else was selling my knitting patterns, without my permission. This is called reselling and it’s stealing.

Reselling a knitting pattern without the permission of the pattern’s designer is illegal.

It’s illegal everywhere in the world.

It’s illegal even if you bought the pattern.

It’s also stupid, because knitting pattern designers have a world wide community and we look out for one another. Ravelry’s pattern database runs on this premise, there are designers who actually volunteer to ensure that newly posted patterns are not being resold. So, when I looked at the reseller’s “shop” I recognized other designers’ work and it was easy for me to tell them what was going on. I contacted three other designers in the end, two of them were toy designers.

There isn’t a handmade website in the world that will put up with reselling. I contacted MISI and within 24 hours the reseller was banned. The reseller did not have a chance to sell a single stolen pattern.

This is a thank you to Fluff and Fuzz and MISI for having such wonderful community spirit. It’s also a timely reminder to anyone considering reselling a knitting pattern. Don’t.

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Big Owl

big owl1

This is Big Owl. He is nine inches tall and quite a character. He’s knitted in Cascade Yarns Bulky Eco Wool (Natural/Ash). The pattern for this owl has been kicking around in my brain for about two years but I finally knitted one up this week.

Regular readers of this blog will know that it takes me a long time to do anything. Mostly this is a symptom of having too many other things to do. I have a day job, a small business, a six year old, no nanny and no cleaner (Most Mums function like this, that’s because we are all awesome).

Which is why I am surprised that I started working on Big Owl last week and here he is, almost finished except for his eyes, which aren’t sewn on yet.

The secret to my speediness this week is simply a throwback to when I started Natty Knits and my then two year old son was with me all the time. Before he was in school, I would knit while he was napping, or when he was fully engaged in lining matchbox cars up on the carpet, I would knit while I read to him or while he played in the sandbox at the playground. All that time I was knitting up new designs for toys, then usually unraveling them and starting again. This is exactly why I design toys, because they are small and can fit in an over-sized Mum bag.

This week has been the first week of my son’s Summer vacation and once again, I’ve been with him all the time. Of course, he needs a lot less attention now than he did when he was two, but that just means more knitting time. So, this week I was knitting Big Owl while my son perfected his lego pyramid with a windmill on it, while he read to me from a Nate the Great book or while he rode his bike around the playground with a classmate (a classmate who said “are you knitting again?!!”).

The pattern for Big Owl will be tested in the next few weeks and will be available for sale within a month. I may have more time to knit, but pattern making is still something that requires my full concentration.

big owl2

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Hello Craftsy

craftsy front page

Natty Knits is now on Craftsy.com. It’s quite a labor of love to copy 40 knitting pattern designs into a new interface, but I’m slowly adding a few every day.

Craftsy is an online craft store, it specializes in teaching crafters new things through a series of online classes. You can take classes in knitting, sewing, cake decorating, crochet, embroidery, paper crafts, jewelry making and other crafts too. Then Craftsy sells patterns (some are free) and supplies to crafters, so they can practice their newly learned skills. Those patterns are made and uploaded by independent designers, like me! It’s an excellent idea.

Craftsy has some serious advantages for a knitting pattern designer. Firstly there are no fees, which is a little astonishing. Secondly, the site seems to be very robust, so far I’ve experienced no crashes or bugs and the user interface is very easy to navigate.

I also like the classes. I dabble in other crafts from time to time, mostly card making and sewing, because when knitting is your business it’s nice to step back and make something for fun and not for a deadline. I’ve already bought the “Design and Sew an A-Line Skirt” classes but I’m contemplating going back a step and buying “Sewing Studio” which seems to be a sewing 101. The classes are a series of videos with a little chat forum attached in case you get lost or stuck or your sewing machine explodes.

Now all I need to do is find the time to take the class.

Meanwhile, you should take the time to meet Craftsy, just go over and say “hello”.

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Winter Flowers – Free Pattern Hints and Tips

FP1

Winter Flowers is a new free Natty Knits pattern, you can find it on the sidebar to the right of this blog.

I chose the name Winter Flowers because these blooms are woolly and robust, they are knitted in sock yarn, which makes them durable too. The flowers are 2.5″ in diameter and have an inner and outer layer which are knitted separately. They are perfect little adornments for bags, hats and other accessories. You can also add a pin to the back of a flower and turn it into a brooch.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

Yarn Suggestions

Any sock yarn will do for these flowers, but it’s better to use a heather or solid color as a striped yarn is going to look a little strange. Then again, strange might be just what you want! I love Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn because of all the great solid color choices and it’s affordable too.

More About Short Row Shaping

The Winter Flowers pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post about short row shaping, with lots of photos just here.

Short rows in stockinette stitch can be tricky, if you find you have an uneven finish on your flowers, try adjusting the tension of the work before you sew it together.

Thinking Sideways

Winter Flowers are knitted sideways, which means that you won’t see a petal shape until you’ve knitted enough so that your knitting will start to fold back on itself. When it does, it will look like this:

petal in progress

Fake Grafting

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the back of the body, use fake grafting. Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.

Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.

Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.

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Elegance (or The Tale of a Tail)

tails

My first pattern of 2013 is for a Whale, a chubby, cartoonish Whale, with an overbite and a big tail. He is not a graceful creature and yet a search for elegance has delayed the production of this pattern by at least a week.

I try to make Natty Knits designs as elegant as possible and for me this means only a few sewn seams and a flow in the continuity of the knitting. I  also try to avoid unnecessarily complex stitches and this is where I’ve been struggling. The pattern for this Whale’s tail contains one instance of a 3 needle bind off in purl, purled together with a wrap and turn loop at the same time. It’s just one difficult stitch in an otherwise straightforward pattern, but it seems so inelegant. I spent a long time trying to rectify this and knitted many, many tails, some of which are in the photo above.

None of my alternatives worked as well as the one with the complicated stitch.

And so, when this pattern goes out to the amazing testers of Ravelry tomorrow, I will await their response with baited breath. I know they can make the stitch, many of them are better knitters than I am. The question is, can I explain the stitch?

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Knitting a Plan for 2013

The holidays are officially over and it’s time to focus on my Natty Knits goals for 2013. Last year I jokingly promised world domination and I almost managed it too. This year I have a proper part time day job and I’m volunteering once a week at my son’s Kindergarten. My time is precious, so I’m hoping I can streamline, get organized and keep Natty Knits growing.

Here’s the plan…

Leave (some of) the social media behind.

No-one loves Twitter more than I do, it’s like all my favorite gossip magazines in one handy place. However, it’s also a huge time sink. At the last count I had 1,775 followers on Twitter, most of those followers are not even knitters. Over at the Natty Knits Facebook group there’s often a decent conversation going on, but on Twitter I only have time to post and run. So on January 7, 2013, the Natty Knits Twitter account will be deactivated. Similarly I’m going to turn my Pinterest account into a personal account, because knitters don’t need to know about my plans to redecorate the living room.

If you think you’ll miss me on Twitter or Pinterest please join us over at the Natty Knits Facebook group or take a look at the Natty Knits photostream on Flickr. You could also just subscribe to this blog, I promise I am more entertaining in over 140 characters.

The NattyKnitter blog

I am very proud of this little blog. I will continue to post once a week, although it will now be on Wednesdays. I’m also going to continue making Quick Free Patterns available straight from the blog. I have this idea for fingerless gloves…

Natty Knits Patterns

Every year I aim to self publish at least six new Natty Knits toy patterns. And in 2013 I aim to do that again, here’s a little photo clue as to what the first pattern of 2013 will be.

Image

I’ll also be publishing the Snake Maker pattern that was in Knit Now magazine last year and I have an idea for a new ebook of Tiny Dolls. Finally I will keep submitting patterns to magazines, I have my heart set on Knitty, that would be very cool.

Get Organized

I think this is probably on everyone’s New Year to do list. For Natty Knits this means label all the finished knitted items, so they’re ready to send out; catch up on the customer feedback on Etsy and rewrite the pattern descriptions on Ravelry, so knitters have more information.

Personal Knitting Goals

Knit more socks and make sure some of them are toe up socks.

And that’s my modest ambitions for the next 12 months. Stay tuned to the blog to see what happens next.

Happy New Year!

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Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy Hints and Tips

The Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop, on Ravelry and as part of the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program. Instructions for both Santa and the Fairy are included in the same pattern. These little figures are only 3″ tall and intended to be used as tree decorations, although you could easily make them without the loops and use them as stocking stuffers.

Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.

A Note on Gauge

When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.

Yarn Suggestions

An acrylic baby dk works very well for this pattern. I suggest either Berrocco Comfort Baby or Sirdar Snuggly because they come in lots of great colors. Try to avoid using a wool yarn, it will lack stitch definition and make it harder to knit. I have knitted a fairy in a nylon fingering weight yarn with 2.5mm needles, it worked well, although it was very fiddly. I have also knitted both Santa and the Fairy in Knit Picks Shine Sport, a lovely cotton blend yarn with a delicate sheen. The photo below shows the fairy knitted in Vanna Glamour fingering weight yarn on the left and Knit Picks Shine Sport on the right.

More About Short Row Shaping

This pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.

Repeats

The repeats in the To Knit Body section are repeats of the first set of instructions, but with added stitch markers. Repeat 1, will actually be the second time you knit rows 1-6.

Pick Up Stitches

The Santa and Fairy pattern contains a lot of instructions to pick up stitches. As with any stitch pick up, the needle is pushed from front to back through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. If you’ve never picked up stitches through the center of fabric before, take a look at this tutorial.

How to PM Between Stitches

In this pattern, markers are placed to show where to pick up stitches for the arms and legs. The markers go between stitches and they stay static in the knitting. When you place a marker it looks like this:

I always prefer to use a scrap of yarn as a marker because it won’t pull the knitting out of shape and it’s easy to remove. You can find more information about static stitch markers here.

Three Needle Join

I love an interesting new technique and I love to put these in my patterns. The three needle join is a great idea and it saves on sewing. Here’s a full tutorial for the three needle join.

Sewing Techniques

There is only one seam in this pattern, however it is a tricky seam. The seam begins with the weaving stitch for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of garter stitch. Then it switches to fake grafting for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of stockinette stitch. Here’s how to use both techniques:

Weaving Stitch

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the underside of the body, use the weaving stitch. Lay one piece of garter stitch fabric above another. Notice that each row has linked upper and lower loops. Sew through the upper loops on the bottom piece and the lower loops on the top piece, as shown below. You are creating sewn stitches over existing loops.

The tension of your sewing needs to be just right, neither too tight nor too loose. As you practice this stitch it becomes easier to judge the tension and make an invisible seam.

Fake Grafting

To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the back of the body, use fake grafting. Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.

Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.

Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.

Facial Features

There is very little space to be creative with facial features. I’ve found that the best way to make the features is to keep it simple and use half a knitted stitch width for each sewn stitch (as shown below). Some knitters prefer to sew on features before they close the top of the head, although I prefer to close the head first, so I can make sure everything is symmetrical.

If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.

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