Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Catching up with you!

As many of you know, I have been very busy with looking for a new job and filling Stitches orders for solar-dyed yarns, have not been knitting ohsomuch, and have been doing some spinning.

So I thought I would post an update on where I am with things in general, and note the sidebar with the resolution progress as well....there are some changes there too.

(I can hear the rain coming down...it was clear and sunny, and not it's pouring, and I hear someone snoring!)

First, I have been offered and accepted a very good job working for a small locally owned software company that does open source development environments and related consulting with small to middle market companies. It's an excellent opportunity, pays well, excellent benefits, and the commute is very short....the building is also in an area with nice restaurants, my local fabric and crafts superbigboxstore as well as the local Fry's. Finally, many of the developers are overseas so the international component that I really enjoyed about my last job is still there, and perhaps more pronounced. I start in two days. For the first time in a long time, I am excited about going to work....yes, nervous too, but who wouldn't be? The absolute best part is that with bringing in a new salary over and above the severance package, we will be able to pay off a bunch of bills, put some savings away and put some more capital into the yarn biz!

Stitches is done! My yarns debuted at the Full Thread Ahead booth and she sold out of the lace-weight, except for 5 skeins! Yay! A big part of this though was that Hollis wore a shawl that a freind knit with my yarn and people want the pattern for....so I have to come up with the pattern, which of course, I have the skills for, but not so much on the time....here's hoping I can squeeze it in somewhere this week.

At Stitches I took two classes from Susan Lazear, one called Swatch Lab and the World Garment Design class. I would highly recommend the Swatch Lab class to anyone that has the desire to design but is a bit nervous or downright terrified to jump in. It was a gentle introduction to the process used in the fashion world to design knitwear. She also covered things like calculating out a sweater, designing in 1/4 scale, using software to design, and the like. This was the first time teaching this class, and so look for refinements of the class....one bit of feedback that we gave her was to give us homework, so we could spend more time on the designing and less on the knitting. The key takeaway for me was just the idea that designing does not necessarily mean knitting an entire garment....think smaller....which is very freeing!

The second class was the World Garment Design, which I have been wanting to take for years. However, I was a bit disappointed by this class. But let me be absolutely clear, because my circumstances are probably unique. My FIL was one of the world's foremost anthropologist on the culture and celebrations of Sub-Saharan Africa, and had an extensive collection(4500 objects were appraised at his death) of ethnic artifacts, masks, textiles and other objects in the family. Many of these objet d'art are in my home, and for the last 15 years, I have lived and breathed African, Oceanic and Indian art. I have been sewing with some of the fabrics as well, and am very familiar with the construction of the garments and the history of them as well.

The morning of my class, I could not find the material list for the class, or my badge for the Market, and got a late start as a result. I had a hairy 60 minute commute with a major Californian downpour every 5-10 minutes that obliterated visibility on the road. Just south of Pleasanton, I realized that I had to get gas, and a good thing, because I was running on fumes. (BTW it cost me 48.80 to fill my tank. I hope the CEO's of the Big Oil companies rot in the deepest darkest slimiest parts of hell) So I get to the class late, and unprepared as it turned out. But not to worry, I adapt.

So Susan starts out by showing a slide show of modern designs compared to the inspiration pieces for the class....so picture a embroidered tunic shown next to a piece of shisha embroidery for example. Some of the examples were not so obvious, so the comparison was very interesting indeed, and seemed counter-intuitive to me anyway.

We then got into the lab portion of the class, where she Susan showed how to use graph paper to make flats of the garments to learn about the construction of the garments, which then can be varied also in graph paper, and all of these can then be put on a croquis to see the fit and proportion.

Here's where the class was an issue for me. I knew most of what she covered, which left me bored....I had made many of these garments in fabric and in knitting, so I knew how they went together. So I walked out disappointed with the class, and also still struggling a bit with this obstacle to ethnic design that I have had a long time. I have always felt that I had no right to wear ethnic clothes, perhaps out of respect for the cultures, or some other weird stray thought. I wanted to ask about this in the class, but did not because I did not know how to ask it in a productive manner, but then realized that the class had in fact freed me a wee bit from this obstacle.

Interestingly though, that afternoon, I came up with 2 shawl designs, one inspired by Kente cloth and one that popped into my head fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus' forehead. So that is a good thing. I also picked up some black wool/cashmere blend from Cone Guy aka Norman of Newton's Yarn Country to knit a sweater on the machine. I will then applique this plastron onto the sweater. I think that the sweater may also have some flouncing on the hems....

The plastron is shown in the photo, but the photo does not shwo the back side of the plastron, just the front and then the one motif that you can see set in the neck hole. Below that, you can see the cashmere that I got....I washed it and it is hanging to dry....much of Cone Guy's yarns are wound off into skeins and then sold. Unfortunately, there is a lot of spinning oil and just kind of dirt in the skeins, and so I wash them to get that out before I use the yarns.

One the spinning front, here is the cashmere that I spun up a while ago.

And while unemployed and not knitting, I have been spinning. In fact, I spun up an entire fleece using a woolen method, and here is the yarn. I have three skeins there, unknown yardage, and like 4 more full bobbins to ply...The yarn is quite fluffly and soft to the touch, but that's the woolen for you!

And finally, here is a little stash reduction that will be a li'l hoodie for Littlest. The sleeve on the right is sewn up and hemmed with a little picot edge. Up at the top, I just knit in a piece of waste yarn, and am planning to pick up stitches and knit a hood up from there....the rest of the seams are yet to be done. The whole thing is an experiment to see how the whole thing works....The sweater took me about an hour to knit the body last night, and then another hour to knit the sleeves right onto the body. I have not blocked it yet.

So that's all for now.


Janet said...

Congratulations on the new job and your success at Stitches. I know how hard you have been working.

SuzannaBanana said...

Congratulations on the new job! Money, good commute, international flavor? Cool!

spinndiva said...