Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wanna know what I'm up to...go join my group!

I know it's been a while since I've had any kind of update, and I promise to try to be good in the New Year, but for now, here is a mini update.

I just started a new Ravelry group to track my exploits in yarn and knitting mayhem: Watch Datenshi Design. It'll be the place to go if you want to ask me questions about any of my designs, get assistance from others who've worked on one of my patterns, find out about what I'm planning next, find out about testing one of my patterns, etc etc. It'll also just be a place to chat about our favorite books and movies and other items of high geekery. Anyone is welcome to join, you just need a Ravelry account. I'm more likely to post an update on Ravelry than I am to go through the process of making a new blog post, so if you are looking for a quick way to connect with me, I recommend joining the group. I promise, I don't bite :). I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Halloween! A Tiger in Autumn~a new pattern for you!

In honor of all things pumpkin-y and good, I send out this tribute to my all time favorite holiday, and gift you all with a new sock pattern celebrating the season!
Presenting "A Tiger in Autumn" socks. I designed them for the Sock Knitter's Anonymous Ravelry Group October Self-Striping Yarn challenge. My goal was to create a fun, easy to work, fast knit that I could then give away as  a free pattern to give more people a chance to try out my designs.

The idea of "A Tiger in Autumn" came from researching the term "Indian Summer". We were having a bit of a hot spell at the time, and I thought a lace chevron sock would be perfect for this short, unique season. Unfortunately, the term "Indian Summer" has negative historical cultural connotations that I wasn't very comfortable with. I didn't want such a negative term attached to one of my creations...that, and it had already been used on 3 other pairs of socks (at least) on Ravelry. "ATiger in Autumn" is a direct translation of the Chinese term for the season. I loved the visual such a title created in my mind. I adopted it immediately.

Some of the fun features of this sock include:
--Afterthought heels to maintain an unbroken stripe pattern on your sock (instructions for a basic slip stitch flap style heel are also included)
--A super spiffy chevron patterned sole
--Instructions for making just about any modification you could think of and...
--Instructions for modifying it to toddler size!

That's a whole lot of extra love in one free sock pattern. I hope you all enjoy.

Oh and Happy Halloween~!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Can Call Me Al...Yes I'm in Knitty!

Yes, its official! I'm in Knitty Deep Fall 2012!

I've been sitting on this secret for months now. I couldn't tell anyone about it when I was designing the sock. I couldn't tell anyone about it after it had been accepted. I had to wait until this moment, today, to finally tell everyone that I had finally made my major online knitting one of the many to be published in Knitty as part of their 10th Anniversary Issue for Deep Fall 2012.
Why is this such a big deal...well some of my favorite designers got their start from a well placed pattern or two in the archives of this great knitting e-zine, including one of my knitting idols, Cookie A. Essentially, you sell this pattern to Knitty for a small fee, and they in turn provide it for free download for the masses. If I'm lucky, people will then see my other patterns and I can gain popularity and see my other knitting pattern sales grow.

I'm still new to the whole pattern design world, and so I hope this little offering will help launch my stay-at-home mom career of knitwear designer extraordinaire. Or at least help me support my hobby.

This little beauty, You Can Call Me Al  is named for the demon Algalirept from Kim Harrison's Hallows Series.  I am a HUGE fan of Ms. Harrison's work and wanted to create a sock to represent one of my favorite characters from her series. Designed to be worked in either fingering or sport weight yarn, I created this bad boy in 4 sizes. I created a unique stitch designed to resemble flames. The shaping of the foot and heel is also pretty unique to this sock and took alot of work and effort. It has a ribbed gusset as well for added comfort and a snug fit. I hope you all try it out and enjoy knitting it up in a range of yarns and colors. I can't wait to see all the projects.

That's it for this post. Come check out all my other designs over at RAVELRY. Hopefully I'll have more to post soon about this and other projects. :) I'm so glad I can finally share this with you all

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Power of 3

An explanation of my design process

For some, my reasoning may seem a bit illogical. Why produce 3 different patterns from one initial idea? To explain my reasoning a bit better, I want to discuss my design process and vision and how one idea can evolve over the course of 4 months...from initial design to final product.

It all started with an idea and a sketch.

For me, any kind of design starts with my initial concept, then moves quickly to paper. In ink or pencil I sketch my concept, write notes, and try to figure out how I want to actualize this vision. I then try to decide what fiber/yarn would be the best choice, the color, and also the design elements I want to incorporate.

In the case of Primrose, I wanted to play on both the nature of a fictional character from a piece of literature as well as incorporate aspects of her name, its literal meaning. For every sock in my Hunger Games inspired "Tribute Series," I have tried to incorporate both aspects, the actual definitions of the characters names or some other element of their personalities as tied to nature or some other obvious design element. For Peeta, the boy with the bread, it was wheat. With Katniss, it will be the katniss flower, and with Gale it was a storm.

I wanted these socks to have a simplicity and strength and childlike innocence to them to reflect Prim's character. But I also wanted it to be a pretty, delicate sock, something a young woman might covet. Not too fancy, but just fancy enough.  I tried to work elements of the Evening Primrose Flower into the sock design as well. It has large, delicate, petals with a heart shape to them. I tried to add this shaping into the toe, and cuff. I also added optional floral details.  If you look at my original sketch, you can see I was trying for a delicate feminine silhouette, a sock that seemed almost ribbed but also lacy (I wanted to have a wide range of comfortable fits) and has a pretty, curved cuff.

As I continued to develop the pattern, I realized that in order to create the sock of my initial vision, I'd have to make a pattern that might be to complex or intimidating for a lot of knitters. It was also harder to get a really wide range of sizes as the cuff shaping really limited how many sizes I could do. I didn't want to compromise on any of the design elements, I wanted to give people options. As I started to put together the options, I realized I really had designed two different socks, possibly 3, to accommodate both my needs and desires for this design. 

So, should I compromise design for simplicity, or compromise simplicity for design? I then end, I decided to treat this like any design project and consider my audience. Who was I designing for? Did I want to alienate anyone with this pattern? 

Instead of making one massive sock pattern with so many options it would confuse all but the most advanced knitter, I decided to break this pattern into three--three different customers, three different markets, three different products spawned from an original idea. 

We do this in apparel design all the time. Lets say that for Fall what's really hot beaded leather miniskirts over tights. For the designer/couture market that would be a real leather skirt with hand embroidered and or beaded elements and a very limited size range (think Neiman Marcus). The mass market/contemporary version might have a small bit of machine embroidered elements, the skirt may be smaller and have less involved in the overall construction. It might have also have larger range of sizes and cost significantly less.  (Think Banana Republic or J.Crew). The budget version would be made of imitation leather, come in a huge range of sizes and colors, and of course the cost would be significantly less (think Target). In some rare instances, you might have one designer working for a company that has 3 or more distinct markets designing in this manner. A company like GAP Inc, that has a Bridge, Contemporary and Budget market might have a lead designer start with a concept or sketch and then turn that concept into three different garments at three different price points. That's why you can find similar items at Banana Republic, GAP and Old Navy...they are essentially the same original idea, reinterpreted for the needs of that company's three distinct markets.  Its more than just the price that is different. Its also the materials, the care, the construction....

PRIMROSE is my designer sock. It is a narrower sock with fewer sizes. It has a fancy floral motif and a more complex heel and arch and foot. The $6 price point reflects the extra work that went into the pattern drafting and development of this sock. On a difficulty scale of 1-5, I'd say this sock is a 3.5-4

PRIM is my mid-range contemporary sock. Its got a lot of sizes, two different options for foot and toe, no fancy floral motifs. A basic sole and heel and foot. In general, this sock is fancy, but not as fancy as Primrose. It is also much more versatile than the other two patterns with mix-and-match options. It has a clear, easily understood description and a pattern that was written with a more beginner knitter in mind. The $4 price point reflects the level of difficulty for design, as well as the amount of charting created etc. On a difficulty scale of 1-5, I'd say this sock is a 2.5-3

SIMPLE PRIM is my budget version. No fancy toe. No fancy heel. But almost unlimited sizes for width and length. Its more of a "preview pattern" than a full pattern. You can knit a complete pair of socks, but it is a very basic sock. Probably the most plain vanilla sock I've created so far.  A great, no commitment, first lace sock project with a lace chart that is super easy to memorize and a sock pattern that doesn't require much as far as technique and skill. On a difficulty scale of 1-5, this is easily a 1.5-2. And its free. 

Because in the end, I wanted to create a sock that everyone might knit. I just realized that not everyone would want to pay the designer premium for the designer sock. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The 3 faces of Primrose..3 socks and other inspirations

The designer, Yavanna, modeling the Primrose Socks at a local war memorial. A fitting location for a design inspired by a child of District 12.


Back view of socks with primrose flower motif 
Primrose Everdeen, Katniss Everdeen's baby sister, was the inspiration for these three pairs of socks. Originally one sock idea, it spawned into 2 other pairs as I made changes for fit and simplicity.
Evening Primrose Flower
My original concept was for a pair of sleek slim knee-high socks that had a very simple but "prim" all over lace that was both easy to execute and lovely on the eyes. I also wanted to incorporate as many elements of the evening primrose flower  (the inspiration for Primrose's name)  into the overall shaping of the sock and also into some fancy motifs on the sock itself as well as some unique shaping techniques for improved fit in this sock.

I love playing with gussets and shaping and ribbing. So I put all of the gusset decreases along the bottom center of the heel and made the gusset ribbed through the arch of the sock. The toe and the heel are also ribbed.
Top of foot

I also really love the delicate heart-shaped petals of the primrose flower, and so I designed the cuff to have heart shaped arches created by where the ribbing ends and the lace motif begins. I also created a primrose petal shape that grows along the back of the leg and sprouts from the toe.

Skinny Bugga from Cephalopod Yarns is one of my all time favorite yarn bases, and luckily they had the PERFECT color for these socks, Other Mother, the palest pink with a touch of bluish gray. I wanted something delicate, feminine, and innocent to reflect Primrose's personality. The wool/cashmere/nylon blend is a wonderful combination of delicate strength and warmth. These should be long lasting socks that keep their beauty for a long time.

Front and side of socks showing ribbed gusset
This sock comes in two versions, full knee-high and mid-calf. The mid calf version omits the motif on the back of the leg  and has a shorter cuff. There are three sizes--64, 72, and 80 CO sts. The lace is pretty stretchy, but those with larger calves may want to knit the shorter version, or omit some of the leg repeats and shorten the cuff of the knee highs so that the sock ends just below the thickest part of your calf. Unfortunately, the arched cuff only works with certain number combinations, and so it doesn't really work for a 88 cuff. I might either try to work out this larger size, or give instructions for placing the fancy back panel into the 88 size for the following sock, Prim. I will be selling this sock on Ravelry for $6. 


Side of foot
The second pair of socks that developed from this original concept was Prim, or "Fancy Prim" as I am starting to call them. 

They are essentially a super short version of Primrose Socks without the fancy flower motifs and with a traditional gusset (not ribbed and not center bottom). It is more of a beginner sock for those a little bit intimidated by all of the bells and whistles of the Primrose Socks.

fancy teardrop heel

It still has the lovely teardrop heel show in my as well as the ribbed toe, but the instructions are much more simple.

Front of foot

This sock can also be knit up in pretty much any 8 st combination, and the pattern includes instructions for sizes 56, 64, 72, 80, and 88 with full charts for the toes and heels. The lace is stretchier without the flower motifs on the back and front, so each size fits a wider range.

You could essentially make these into knee-highs or over the knee socks if you wanted, or make them as short as ankle socks depending. I will be selling this pattern as an upgrade to a free version of this sock, including all the charts and instructions for changing the basic sock for just $2.50.


Picture courtesy of Pebblescruz, one of my testers
This is the most basic version. A plain ribbed heel, a simple ribbed toe. No twisted stitches, no fancy lace motifs. No charts, except for a very small chart for the basic all over lace. Again, you can make these any length or width you want. I wanted to have a free version, because while I do need to make money (all this knitwear design is currently my Work-At-Home-Mama gig), I thought it might be nice to have a really basic version that I can give away and let people try out one of my patterns. 

I hope to have all three patterns available for download in the next week. My goal is to have Primrose up in time for Labor Day weekend knitting (so in the next day or so). Depending on how much work I can get done, I might have all three up. But just to keep expectations realistic, expect to see all three some time during the 1st week in September! Happy knitting!

Also on the horizon, my Katniss Socks (which I am thinking of calling Everdeen), some fun cycling inspired socks, and also PRIMROSE GLOVES and FINGERLESS Mitts. :). Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about my Mockingjay Socks, Cinna, or Rue...they're still on their way. I hope to be done with my first Hunger Games Tribute Series by the end of the year.

I also have some fun Fifty Shades of Grey inspired knitwear in my mind (because I can't always design socks, and Mrs Grey has quite the wardrobe to inspire me inside and outside of the boudoir) as well as some fun socks inspired by Yasmine Galenorn's Sisters of the Moon series...because seriously, how cool would a Morio or Trillian sock be? Super geeky cool. And could you imagine how sexy a Camille thigh-high! 

I have so much more sock news to share, but its going to have to wait until September. Trust me, when you see what I have to share, it will make a lot more sense :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Adventures...more info soon

Today, for the first time in a long time, I actually repaired something rather than just throw it out.

It was the rear seam of my daughter's pants. I purchased them on sale at target for $4, and they aren't likely to fit her for much longer. But I took the time to pull out the needle and thread and repair them...BY HAND.

Sometimes I forget that I can sew, but I've been reminded of that simple truth more and more lately.

So I've decided to join a special little challenge this month, and I'll probably start a new blog for it... I'm hoping to call it Project Charlotte.

The official challenge set to me by AVFKW in Oakland is for me to pledge to make 25% of my clothes, either through sewing or knitting or crochet. This challenge, called Seam Allowance, will hopefully be the catalysis I will need to reignite my faded design career. My personal goal will be for me to make 90-100% of Charlotte's new clothing as she outgrows her old clothing, and even some new pieces for me in a very modern Mommy and Me kind of way. And of that 90%, I hope to design most of them myself, adding my own special touches that I will share with you all.

For those of you following my knitwear adventures...don't worry, I have lots of new knitting adventures to share in the coming months. I hope to "finish" my Hunger Games socks by this fall, Christmas time at the latest.

I will also have cooking adventures too. In fact, I am baking my first bread pudding right now. Here is the recipie I made using Fine Cooking's Bread Pudding Creator

My Recipe:

Rum Raisin Bread Pudding

Yields one 9x13-inch bread pudding; serves twelve.


7 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. table salt
6 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup dark rum
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
10 cups 1-inch cubes day-old white artisan-style bread (like Tuscan or French)
1-1/2 cups toasted sweetened shredded coconut
3 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
1 cup golden raisins, soaked in very hot water for 30 minutes and drained thoroughly


In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks and eggs. Slowly whisk in the sugar and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour the half-and-half into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until steaming but not bubbling. Slowly whisk the half-and-half into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large Pyrex measuring cup or heatproof bowl. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract.
Put the bread cubes in a 9x13-inch baking dish and pour the custard on top. Make sure the bread is as submerged in the custard as possible and let cool at room temperature for about an hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 and up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 325° F.
Transfer the bread mixture to a large mixing bowl and gently fold in the coconut, bananas, and raisins. Return the mixture to the baking dish.
Cover the pudding loosely with foil and bake at 325° F for 70 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until no liquid custard is visible when you poke a small hole in the center with a paring knife, 20 to 40 minutes more.
Let the pudding cool on a rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Updates! Gale, Effie, and other new friends!

I know its been a while since I've posted anything. That's because I've been stuck under a pile of yarn and behind a computer desk.

So since I last wrote, I've completed two more patterns in my Hunger Games Tribute Series.

After a month of collaboration with Tami of Candy Skein (check out her blog here), we developed Effie Sock, inspired by Effie Trinket, the effervescent, bubbly liaison between District 12 and the CAPITOL.

We are having a KAL in the Candy Skein Addicts Raverly group from May until July, so please, if you like my pretty ruffled sock, come play with us!

In the meantime, I've also been testing another of my Hunger Games socks, Gale Sock. It just went live today after a month of vigorous testing, planning, editing, and headaches. Finally it is ready for the public. We had a little photo shoot for it today.

Here is the sock on the rocks at the Berkeley Marina.... I am looking coy for my "about the designer shot....

...and here is Charlotte Rose, hiding in the rocks. She really really liked the rocks and didn't want to come home for her nap....

....and here are the socks again, enjoying the spring poppies...

This is a fun, addictive knit. It includes 18 pages of thorough charts and descriptions. And only $3 for the month of May. Come know you wanna knit some socks!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Socks, Old Socks, updates!

NEW sock pictures~!

Here are my finished Peeta's enjoying some California sunshine in my front yard yesterday

Now its on to my next project:

Another Hunger Games sock, this one inspired by Gale Hawthorne, the third leg in the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. It will incorporate cables and A LOT of traveling stitches. Basically, expect a cyclone to wind its way around the leg. For this sock, I'll be using some very lovely Socks that Rock Medium Weight that I purchased at Stitches West. I plan to start swatching the wind pattern sometime in the next week.

In the meantime, I will continue working on my Mockingjay (Rebel 13) Socks
It took me a few weeks to really nail down the mosaic pattern in a way that I am satisfied with. Even now, as I knit up the first sock, I am finding ways to improve this chart, and the overall layout. I guess I'm not able to leave good enough alone.

I just ordered some more lovely Socks That Rock, this time in Lightweight. I've never knit with their Lightweight this will be interesting. I'm planning on knitting a lace sock inspired by roses in literature--Snow White (whose name was inspired by a drop of blood on white snow), President Snow from Hunger Games (who carries a genetically modified rose on his lapel in a pure white to hide the blood smell on his breath) and lastly, but not least, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I was going to title them "Roses for Snow," but instead I think it will be better titled "Painting the Roses Red." The colorway I purchased benefits Doctors Without Borders and can be viewed here on the Blue Moon fiber Arts Website. I am excited to star these socks next month for the Socks Knitters Anonymous "Literature" challenge.

April promises to be an interesting and prolific month :)
Until my next update!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring and Mockingjays

This is the view from my kitchen window. I love the almond tree in my back yard neighbor's back yard. It only looks like this for a couple of days before it becomes a riot of blossoms. I prefer the green buds with only a couple of flowers--its so very striking against the red of their house.

My yarn arrived this afternoon for my Mockingjay Socks. I'm not quite ready to start them...I need to finish my Peeta Socks and get the pattern to my testers, hopefully by tomorrow. Otherwise, I may not have the pattern published soon enough for the fans who want to knit them for the movie premiere next month.

But here is my lovely package from The Loopy Ewe. It was packaged so nicely~

This was my first order with this company and I am happy to say I will definitely order from them again in the future. They have an amazing selection of sock yarn, and the yarn arrived so fast! It shipped the same day I ordered it, and even with the post office being as slow as it is around here, I got it on Tuesday, after ordering it late Friday afternoon!

The inside of the package was just as fun.
I think my Mockingjay socks will look amazing. Here is a photo of the yarns and my most up to date design idea. As soon as I'm done with Peeta, these are going on the needles!

Tomorrow I will go over my next planned designs, I have so many things running through my head right now....I could spend several months just designing socks!

Until next time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today, I announced my next sock design, a mosaic knit color work stocking inspired by
Katniss Everdeen's Alter Ego--The Mockingjay

So now...I'm just waiting for my yarn to arrive. This sock will be knit in three colors--Black and White to represent the Mockingjay, and a rich blood red. The yarn I'll be using is Shibui Sock in colors Abyss, Cranberry, and Ivory ordered today from The Loopy Ewe. I chose Shibui Sock due to the wide range of available colors (I wanted a yarn with a white, red, and black in the same base) and the affordability. You can make this whole pair of socks for less than alot of artisan skeins cost, and you'll probably have some yarn left over.

Concept sketches and swatches to be posted soon.

Sock Design...and other obsessions

May the odds ever be in your favor....

SO I guess its good I don't have a lot of followers, as they would probably think I fell off the edge of the world. Its been a pretty busy year, adjusting to having an increasingly mobile toddler (who is sitting in my lap "helping" as I type this...)

So if you ARE reading this you might be wondering, what have I been up to lately? Well the easy answer is lots of knitting and lots of running.

Recently a friend suggested I read the Hunger Games. I wasn't familiar with the series at all, but she gave it a pretty good review and so I thought, why not? Well I read the entire series in less than a week (took me about 4 days). It was a good and memorable read. Inspirational enough to get my designer juices flowing in my brain again. And so, I began designing. Since my latest obsession has been knitting socks, I am designing socks for some of the characters from the Hunger Games.

If you're on Ravelry, you can go check out my Peeta Socks. They are the first socks in what I
hope will be a collection of socks. I am not sure if these will be a for sale sock or a free sock, but I am thinking having them as a really inexpensive sock pattern once it's been tested and I get the pattern written up properly.

Today I hope to make it to one of my LYS-es to find some yarn for the next sock in this
collection--Mockingjay. I also intend to design a lacy pair for Katniss' sister, Primrose, and something similarly delicate for Rue. Later I may also do one for Katniss that isn't mockingjay related.

I am also currently thinking of designing a series of socks for the Kim Harrison Hallows Series.
Al definitely needs a pair of socks, and I think Ivy, Jenks, and Rachel herself would also make great inspiration. We will see how the summer turns out and what I come home with from Stitches West this year.

If you are in the Cookie A Club for 2012 and haven't yet received your yarn, you may want to stop reading here. I am about to post a picture of our latest yarn.

This is my second year as a member of the Cookie A Sock Club, and this year, I'm a
moderator for her Ravelry group. Sadly, this doesn't mean I have any kind of special relationship with Cookie A
herself other than a working emailing one, but it's still pretty cool.

Anyhoo, the first recipes and patterns and cookies didn't disappoint. I now have a fortune cookie recipe, how cool is that? Also, I have a wonderful deep choco cookie recipe spiced with cinnamon and chili peppers. With a strong cup of coffee and a bit of homemade whipped cream these cookies are absolutely divine.

On the running front: I joined the LMJS women's racing
team and participated in their cross country events this past summer as part of their open team. I also reached new PR's in the Marathon(3hr 42min) and 12K (57min) distances. Yes, I am one speedy bunny. I am currently working for LMJS as a volunteer pacer for their Oakland Running Festival Training Program, training 1/2 marathoners for their even this March.

The picture on the left is from September, the team celebrated my birthday (and two other team mates) with cake after our 4mi run in Hayward.

Well this is it for me today, stay tuned for more updates on my current obsessions.