Blog Hop: Four Questions

 Posted by at 2:29 pm
Jul 142014
 

Nothing like a bit of motivated blogging!  It’s been an embarrassingly long time, so I thought that an enforced post was in order to ease myself back in.  (Now in my defense I have been rather preoccupied with buying our first home, and moving into our first home, and doing work in our first home – but excuses, excuses).

I was nominated by Richelle from Shipwreck Dandy to answer a few questions about what I do – so without further ado:

 

What am I working on?
Attentive people might have noticed that I haven’t published much recently, and this is because I am working on a collection right now, instead of releasing individual patterns.  I don’t want to say too much about it – but it is a collection of patterns for children, and I mean that in an all-embracing way.  The patterns will be sized for newborns up to young adults, with some preemie sizes too (can’t forget where I came from – I was a 28-weeker), with lots of technique variety, different constructions, and something for every knitter.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Admittedly, I make a concerted effort not to look at my contemporaries’ work – I don’t want to be influenced or accused of plagiarism, even if it’s done unconsciously.  Historically, however, I have noticed that certain designers or companies will use the same pattern template over and over again, inserting a different stitch pattern or motif as appropriate.  I strive to use as many different techniques as I can – and that can be seen in my upcoming pattern collection.  Top-down, bottom-up, seamless, pieced, raglan, set-in sleeves, contiguous sleeves, yoked, flat, etc.  I want my patterns to be as diverse as possible so that a particular knitter who prefers to knit a garment in a particular way can stay in their comfort zone, and then be nudged ever so slightly towards something new to them.

Also, tired of seeing patterns sized for S, M, L – I try to offer as wide a size range as I can.  My record so far is a pattern graded for 16 sizes from a 30” to 60” chest.

 

Why do I create what I do?
Because I can’t *not* design knitwear, basically.  I’ve been knitting since I was 5 – so 32 years now.  The two of us were grafted together like a hybrid rose and have grown around each other, intertwined, and fused.  Aside from my parents, probably, knitting has been the longest constant in my life – predating any friendships, or even my love of reading.  Designing knitwear is a way of taking my love of knitting to another level – when I have a new piece published, or win a prize, or have people share pictures of the projects they have made with my patterns, or have crazy people at Rhinebeck recognize my work and ask for pictures (LOL)… well that just touches my heart and makes me happy in a way that nothing else can.

 

How does my creative process work?
I have a file of ideas and I jot down potential designs and add stitch charts or pictures.  These are kind of in reserve, though – I only really go to the file if I’m having a dry spell.  This happens, you can’t expect to be brimming with ideas day in day out, all the time.  Well, it happens to me.

It’s slow to begin with.  A design idea will come to me, and it can be from anywhere.  I don’t do anything for a while – it can take a few weeks to percolate.  I keep a notebook by the bed and in the bathroom, because ideas take shape for me sometimes while I’m sleeping, and most often while in the shower.  Sometimes I’ll forget to rinse or condition when grappling with a particular pattern problem, LOL.  At this point it is ephemeral and fluid – the end product can be very different from the first wisp of an idea that sparked it.

Then I’ll sketch a shape, and from that there are decisions to be made:  Adult or kids, male or female (or unisex), size range, season, construction, silhouette, drape, colour.  Then I’ll start to look into yarn choices.

If I have similar yarn on hand, I might do a bit of swatching – but I almost always decide on the specific yarn first and approach the relevant companies for yarn support (and they are always very generous, I have never been knocked back yet).  Once the yarn is in hand, I start swatching.  My knitting friends don’t want to hear about it – but I swatch.  A lot.  Yes, even for a scarf or a dishcloth.  I’m not OCD – it behooves me to measure very accurately as my gauge is the one that the whole design will rest on.  I don’t want to deal with the pattern support nightmare of people complaining to me that their project isn’t coming out to the dimensions they thought it would, and it’s a colossal waste of time for them.  I cover myself – know the exact gauge – row and stitch, of any and all patterns used in a piece.  And I mean the *blocked* gauge because I assume you’ll be blocking your final project.  Yes, knitters – you have to swatch.  But take comfort in the fact that I am swatching even more than you!

Once I have the gauge – those magic numbers – then work can begin in earnest.  I use Excel for my pattern grading, and can start plugging in numbers, setting formulas, and doing calculations.  I try to get the pattern extrapolated out in rough form before doing any casting on.  I will tweak and recalculate as I go – but I like to have a solid set of numbers in place as I work the sample.  I don’t carry a written pattern around with me as I knit, just the chart.

At this point I start to write the pattern up – I use Serif PagePlus for my desktop publishing, Intwined for my charting, and Gimp or MS Paint for drawing schematics.

All three work together for a while – the Excel charts with the crunched numbers, the pattern being written up, and the sample being knit.  I’ll have this head start before I put out a call for sample knitters in my Ravelry group.  Sample knitters will use yarn that they have on hand in the same gauge and knit the pattern along with me, in different sizes – and offer feedback or let me know of any problems.

Once the sample is done (and blocked!), I have to photograph it, which is the worst part for me.  Models can be hard to come by and good pictures with my mid-range camera can be elusive.  I take hundreds, hoping for some quality wheat amongst the chaff.  I use PicMonkey for re-touching and photo editing.  Once the pictures are dropped into the written pattern it is more or less complete.  I send it to a tech editor for checking, or if I’m not using a tech editor I will leave it for a few days and come back to check it – I find you need a break before any errors surface.  Luckily, since I started grading in Excel, my calculations have been error-free, but there can be typos and things that could be described more clearly.

Once a pattern is done (for self-publishing purposes, anyway), that is still not the end.  It has to be uploaded to my website as well as Ravelry, Patternfish, Etsy and Craftsy.  It has to be blogged about and promoted, tweeted about and shared on Facebook, and generally advertised as widely as it can be.

Then it settles in nicely with its brother and sister patterns, multitudes of knitters buy it, and I can retire.  I lied about the last bit.

 

Thanks Richelle – this was fun!

 

Happy Birthday Flash Sale!

 Posted by at 9:47 am
Sep 112013
 

It’s my birthday!  So to celebrate, all my patterns are half price today only!  No coupon necessary -the discount will be applied at the checkout.

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Big Changes

 Posted by at 1:41 pm
Jun 082013
 

Things are slowing down for me this summer.  I got all the major deadlines out of the way by the end of May… just in time to have major surgery at the beginning of June.

GOOD surgery, though.  I finally had a breast reduction, which I have needed for years.  The recovery so far has not been easy, I won’t lie about it – but the end is in sight.  I had 6lbs total removed, which should take me from about an F cup to a B.  The pain that has plagued me every single day in my upper back, neck and shoulders, is gone.

Customer service will, understandably, be slow.  Right now you should expect a significant delay in responses to emails – although I will try to deal with urgent matters as quickly as possible.

I’m looking forward to getting back to designing and knitting again in time for sweater weather rolling around once more – with the hope now that I’ll be able to model some of my own designs in the future!

 

Springing Forth

 Posted by at 12:15 am
Apr 222013
 

It’s been all go here!  I’m trying to clear the knitting decks for an upcoming project that will need my undivided attention over the next few weeks, and then the prospect of having surgery in a month or two.  The good part about the latter is that I have big plans to spend at least a week in bed recovering with the Craftsy classes that I have signed up for but haven’t had the time to take.  The down side is that I feel like I really have to get the house spotless for what folks are telling me will be at least 6 weeks of non-activity post-op.  So from here on in there will be less knitting and more cleaning… that’s the plan anyway.

I have a couple of patterns just released, and they couldn’t be more different really.

First is the Papa Bear Hoodie, a handsome and comfy sweater constructed seamlessly from the bottom up.  It has a knitted-in kangaroo pocket and a hood — both edged with an easy to learn cable motif.  I particularly love the hood — I used short rows, the Fibonacci Sequence and Kitchener stitch to get a lovely head-hugging curve that does not stick up in a point at the back and make you look like an elf.  I feel like a knitting genius (please, don’t burst my bubble!).

Eileen Casey - Papa Bear Hoodie 1
Eileen Casey - Papa Bear Hoodie 2

And then we have Loie – named after Loie Fuller, a dance artist of the Art Nouveau era who created stunning swirled effects on stage with colour and movement.

This Loie is a sophisticated and dressy silk-blend top with barely-there sleeves and an elegantly draping cowl neck.  The focal point, though, is the column of 575 glass beads (I get my beads from Cherrygon’s Beading Gallery, and recommend them), knitted into the fabric in a curling abstract Art Nouveau-inspired motif.

This piece is also worked seamlessly in the round, and uses a provisional cast on and knitted hem to keep the flow of stockinette stitch intact and the lines simple.

Eileen Casey - Loie 1
Eileen Casey - Loie 8

If you have a moment, I’d thoroughly recommend googling Loie Fuller, she was quite an icon!

Reticulate Scowl

 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Mar 282013
 

I’m breaking my habit of ignoring my blog to announce a new pattern up – a cross between a scarf and a cowl… which is a scowl, of course!

This scowl has a beautiful cable motif dead centre, and an unusual i-cord fringe. Because it’s knit in super bulky yarn, you can have it done in a weekend! OF COURSE it’s still scowl weather (isn’t it always??)!

Eileen Casey - Reticulate Scowl

In other news, the toddler sweater that I meantioned in the previous post has been released as part of Willow Yarns Seedlings Collection for spring. I used Cub – a really lovely, squishy easy-care cotton blend that has a hand like chenille (and you’ll need to have your smelling salts ready when you look at the price – in a good way). But really, you have to check out all the yarns on this site – right now I’m in love with the merino/silk blend. Who wouldn’t be?? I hope this new company goes from strength to strength as they are certainly great to work with.

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Papa Bear Hoodie – a comfy grown up version of Baby Bear – is out of test knitting and there were no mathematical errors found across 13 sizes (yayy!). The operative word is “found” though, heehee. It should be appearing here within the next week or so, so keep an eye out if you like hoodies and especially if you need larger sizes as this is sized up to a 60″ chest.

 

Recap

 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Dec 132012
 

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted!

My trip to Ireland was wonderful and eventful, the rest of the summer flew, the girls started school full time in September… and you’d think that would give me more time.  Well, it does, but seemingly blog posting isn’t a priority for me.

Anyway, I certainly haven’t been idle – and just yesterday I received my free copies of a new book in which I have 3 designs!

Apparently I’m up-and-coming, which is better than down-and-going for sure.

The designs that I have in there are also available as separate patterns right here on my website:

Eileen Casey - Strata Thumbnail
Eileen Casey - Little Man Vest Thumbnail
Eileen Casey - Baby Bear Hoodie Thumbnail

 

I have a LOT of classes going on at Joann Fabrics in New Hartford, NY – and might soon be starting to teach at Michael’s too.  Attendance is growing every month and we always have a good time – so do check out the class schedule if you live in the area!  There is also the exciting possibility of classes being held in the new studio of a local independent dyer (who happens to also be a good friend) in the new year.

I have a number of designs on the go – including companion pieces to the Baby Bear Hoodie above.  Papa Bear Hoodie is about to go into test knitting – so if anyone wants to sign up for that, please go to my Ravelry group and do so!

There should be a cute little toddler sweater pattern I designed for Universal Yarns coming out soon to showcase a new yarn of theirs called Cub – which is a really cushy, velvety, scrummy yarn that I will be buying lots of once it goes on the market!

And I also have a beady thing on the go, as well as a dangly thing, and am thinking about some shiny things.  I could be less abstruse, but there’s limited fun in that – and limited scope to submit for publication, LOL.

The Cooler Side of the Pond

 Posted by at 12:37 pm
Jul 042012
 

I’ve been in the US for 11 years now and I have to say that some have been better than others, LOL.  I’m pleased to say that since I moved to upstate NY and met my clique, they have been good years :-)

BUT, today I get to go home to Ireland, and I get to bring my 5 year old and 4 year old with me.  I honestly thought that this day might never come (immigrating to the US is a lengthy and expensive process, even when you are married to a citizen – and plane tickets are astronomical).

I’ll be gone for 3 weeks – of course I won’t be empty-handed.  I have 2 new designs on the go that are coming with me, and a project for the NY State Fair.  So I’m calling it a “working holiday”, LOL.

However, if you have any questions or emails for me, please remember that I’m technically away until July 26th and though I will have my laptop with me, I mightn’t get back to you in as timely a manner as usual.

Now, off to the cooler side of the pond (hallelujah)!  Going from 90 degrees F to 60 sounds great at this point!

Easy Stay-On Bib Download

 Posted by at 9:15 pm
Jun 212012
 

I have had several people email me today saying that they weren’t able to download the Pattern for the Easy Stay-On Bib.

As far as I could possibly make out, there wasn’t a problem with the file download – it was downloaded over 2000 times yesterday without incident.  I also had some people test it for me to be absolutely sure.

However, as I’m unsure if people are unaware that they are supposed to click the logo button on the top left to get the download – I have made a new, clearer download button.  I have also removed the old pattern file and re-uploaded it to the site, just in case there was a problem with the file.

So – the pattern is definitely good to go – BUT, I have the printed rights to it only, not the online publishing rights which are still owned by About.com.  So if you want the pattern, you must download it for yourself – the pattern page gives information about gauge and materials used, but I cannot re-publish this pattern online.  You have to click the download button and get it for yourself – and if nothing happens when you click, please turn off your pop-up blocker!

 

 

Athena

 Posted by at 4:27 pm
Jun 202012
 

I’ve been quiet on the blog-side, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy!

After a couple of pressing deadlines for a pattern booklet publication and a yarn company design – I have time to breathe again now and self-publish Athena.

The yarn – Mia from Tahki Yarns – is absolutely to-die-for.  Although it’s a simple knit, the unusual construction keeps it interesting.  It’s knit seamlessly in the round, with cabled gussets up the sides and at the shoulders joining the pieces together.

Athena Athena Side

I Want To Marry German Short Rows

 Posted by at 9:17 pm
Apr 182012
 

In the dark days prior to learning about the über-ingenious German Short Rows (see what I just did there??), I used to wrap and turn with the best of them.  Usually my short rows looked OK… more or less… but I hated the bulk I would invariably get when picking up all those wrapped stitches.

Well, then I learned German Short Rows, and I’ll never, ever, ever, ever, EVER go back to wrapping (or pinning, for that matter) – I mean  NOT EVER.  I believe the method has a few other names, including “Double Stitch Short Rows”, but there isn’t really that much info out there on them that I came across.

Of course, for all I know they could be known as “Timbuctoo Short Rows” and there could be a gazillion You Tube tutorials, and I just wasn’t searching under the correct name.  But to me they will always be German Short Rows – the name just conjures up a precision, ingenuity and elegant simplicity that is certainly evident in this technique.  If so, one more tutorial isn’t going to end the world.

In any event, there wasn’t a lot on the technique, and there especially wasn’t a lot on doing a double set of these short rows to make a short row heel (my favourite type of heel to make when the rare urge hits me to make socks), as opposed to single sets to make darts or shape shoulders.

Anyway, as I have a new design using this technique, I thought it best to have instructions on site, as it were – so the tutorial on this technique is now up, under the Tutorials tab.

Here’s a wee sneak peak of an eye-catching bag, appropriately called the Over The Rainbow Bag – watch out for the pattern release over the next week or so.

German Short Rows