27 March 2014

testing testing

In anticipation of some projects in the pipeline, I've just created an email list for pattern testers. You can join the list here.

What's a pattern tester?
Someone who knits up a project with their own yarn from my unpublished pattern. Generally, you will help me make sure the instructions are clear and that your finished project closely approximates mine (unless we've agreed to any modifications). You keep your finished project and post a pattern page on Ravelry with basic information (yarn brand and amount, needles used, finished size) and photos, which I may included on the pattern page. Bonus points if you blog about your project, post on the social media of your choice, or gush about it on a Ravelry forum :)

Generally, testing takes place after I have created the pattern, knitted my own sample, and crunched all the numbers for various sizes. Depending upon how things are going I may or may not have photographed the beauty shots and given the pattern to the tech editor, but the pattern should be pretty tight (I don't want to waste anyone's time!).

I strive to write clear, user-friendly patterns, but if you've never knit a ____ (sweater/lace triangle shawl/you name it) before, a test may not be the best way to begin. You may want to try one of my published patterns first in said category. I love newer knitters and want to support you, but tests are for making sure a pattern is clear, and I wouldn't want you to start your ____-knitting adventures with something not quite perfect.

What's in it for me?

  • First crack at new designs
  • A chance to get to know other testers, as I usually run tests kind of like KALs in my group on Ravelry
  • Credit in the finished pattern and on the Ravelry pattern page
  • A copy of the finished pattern in your Ravelry library upon publication
  • One pattern of your choice from my Ravelry store (recently published magazine patterns not included until one year after publication)
  • My eternal gratitude
What do I have to do?
  1. Sign up!
  2. Respond to a call for testers. I will include size options and yarn information, so will need to know which size you want to test and what yarn you would like to use. I will also give a somewhat-flexible deadline.
  3. Post your progress in the testing thread in my group, as well as any questions and concerns you may have.
  4. Once the pattern is published (you'll know because you will receive a copy of the finished pattern as a gift in your Ravelry library), link up your project to the pattern page. Be sure to include project information, like yarn and needle used, and a great photo, so I can feature your project on the pattern page.
  5. Revel in the fact that you were one of the first to knit a hot new pattern :)
Hope you're having a good day out there. It's unseasonably cold here in NYC, so I'm happy to be knitting away on a new pattern for the next Jane Austen Knits (and nearing the end of my kids' eternal Spring Break -- don't forget that if you sign up for my regular mailing list, there's a Spring Break BOGO coupon in it for you until the end of March!). 

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

25 March 2014

Notice anything different?

Well, if you follow this blog with a reader*, you probably won't, but I've given the ol' girl a new coat of paint.

What do you think?

The "dynamic view" from Blogger was nice looking but didn't give me the ability to do some of the things I wanted to do on the blog. There are still a few things that I'm wrestling with (back in my day -- oh, so long ago -- I would just hard code everything and use tables to put everything in its place, but that is frowned upon these days), but I think this works for now.

While I was at it, I went ahead and updated the rest of my online presence:

Oof! Now, I'm tired (it doesn't help that I seem to have come down with something: terrible sore throat in the morning, super runny nose and sneezing all day long). Sometimes it feels like being online is a full-time job, but now I need to get back to working on some future designs. And order business cards and get all my IRL identity ducks in a row. A designer's work is never done :)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

*If you use a reader, which one do you use? I'd pretty happy with feedly but am curious to know what else is out there these days.

24 March 2014

Pinterest: KNIT yourself a cardigan (women's)

I love Pinterest! As a visual person (I'm also quite tactile, hence the fiber arts), Pinterest is one of my favorite social media sites. It's great for collecting images for inspiration. The best part for me is seeing what like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) pinners are pinning. It can take you off in a whole different direction or just make you feel warm and fuzzy.

A couple of weeks ago I started some new boards focused on creating *good* pins for knitting patterns in different categories. And by good I mean pins that link directly to patterns and have some basic information to help other pinners decide if they are interested. This includes
  • pattern name
  • designer
  • category
  • yarn weight
  • yarn content
I decided not to include price information since it can change, nor did I include suggested yarn since these pins are about the possibilities inherent in the patterns. These boards will probably never have thousands of pins, since they are what *I* like.  I've added a page with my latest pins, as well as links to the KNIT boards, but feel free to check out all my boards -- you'll see some of the inspiration for all sorts of things I'm interested in.

Going forward I'll let you know about other boards as they get robust enough (six pins isn't sufficient, to my mind, but it takes me some time to create those good pins -- feel free to check them out).
Follow Kathleen Dames's board KNIT yourself a cardigan (women's) on Pinterest.

I'd love to see what you're pinning, so let me know your username (mine is kathleendames) or send me a pin.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting/pinnning!
xoxo, Kathleen

20 March 2014

March Newsletter (sign up - it has a great coupon!)

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? I only send it out once a month and often include a coupon. This month it's a biggie: Buy One Get One FREE on all my Ravelry store patterns. Sign up today, and you'll get the latest newsletter with this great coupon. I'm "celebrating" my kids' two-week Spring Break stay-cation, but you get the prize :)

Thinking about cranking out one more cozy sweater before Spring arrives? An Aran for Frederick is full of cable-y goodness and exciting yoke shaping techniques. Or Sailor's Valentine - same-but-different cables and yoke PLUS the fun of the turned-heel hood. So. Much. FUN. I want to go design another one (just as soon as I finish, um, four other projects)!

An Aran for Frederick
Sailor's Valentine
If you're ready for Spring, perhaps Mermaid's Cardigan with it's lace sleeves and i-cord edges. Or Wavelette in fingering weight yarn with a lacey front - I wear mine all the time! With a long-sleeve tee in the winter and over a camisole in the warmer months.

Mermaid's Cardigan
Maybe you're heading out for Spring Break soon. Shawls make the best travel knitting! 1 skein of lace or fingering weight yarn + 1 needle = projects that will keep you busy while you wait (or relax) and don't take up all the room in your carry-on (that's for souvenir yarn, dontcha know). Hap-py (it may have started out with Grandma's dishcloth, but it sure didn't end up like that!), Castaway (dropping those stitches is so much fun!), and In the Shallows (start with your prettiest tonal sock yarn and end up with your new favorite shawlette!) are some of my favorites. They are interesting knits without being too complicated. And I love how the memories of a trip get bound up in the finished item.

In the Shallows
So, the choice is yours! Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and take your pick from my 25 patterns before the month is up.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

19 March 2014

Interweave Sale

30% off patterns at the Interweave site! This means you can purchase downloads of the original patterns for $4.20 (regular price $6):

An Aran for Anne
An Aran for Frederick

A Vest for Charles and Benwick are not yet available, but I'll let you know when they are.

The kids are off school for two (2!) weeks of Spring Break. Sadly, the weather is decidedly wintry. Work is slower than usual due to wrangling said children, but I keep plugging away :)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

05 March 2014

Sweater fix

If you don't follow me on Instagram (you should! I'm @kathleendames of course), you didn't see the little problem I discovered today:

Can you see it? I did an extra round without twisting. Must have been an intense moment in Small Island (love when my dvr records Masterpiece Classics for me that I might have otherwise missed - if you get the chance to watch it, it's pretty good: Benedict Cumberbatch and thought-provoking views on race relations post-WWII in the UK). Anyway, I debated for a few minutes about fixing it. Most likely such a thing would pass the galloping horse test; however, I'm me, and it is front and center on this pullover. My knitting bestie/enabler Annie reminded me that as a Virgo it would drive me bonkers. 

Rather than tinking back the seven rounds, I grabbed some DPNs and decided to see if I could fix them in situ. Pulling the working needle out of the stitches in question, I then pulled the ends of the circular tight (and let them hang to the back of the work) to keep all the other stitches safe from harm. 
I pulled the working strand out of each row until I was a row below the error, at which point I slipped the stitches in question onto a DPN. With a second DPN I used the lowest thread to rework the stitches properly. After a couple of rows I realized that the tension was off (really tight at the right end and loose on the left), which led to dropping back down and doing it again, adjusting the stitches on each row before proceeding wih the next thread. 

Above you can see me working across the row and that the stitches on the left are loose. 

And here it is, all better (although it looks a little wonky a few rows down from my thumb, but that should settle down when the sweater is blocked)!

Forgive the state of my mani. Who knew I was going to be documenting my knitting today?!

BTW, this yarn from The Spinning Mill in Greenville NY is amazing! Undyed merino. I bought it at Rhinebeck. No website info that I have been able to find yet, but I'm pretty sure they are there every year, since Kay Gardiner (Mason Dixon knitter extraordinaire) recently knit a beautiful baby blanket with some that she'd gotten from them at Rhinebeck a few years ago. 

This is what my two skeins looked like when I bought them. Each one is almost 500yds of undyed beautiful squishiness. I can't wait to finish this design and share it with you, but at least now you know how to repair a twist error if you make one like me ;)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen 

04 March 2014


Not the "fun" kind of housekeeping for which I made a chart, since that got blown out of the water last week as I sketched and swatched and wordsmithed my way through a pile of submissions. No, I'm talking about some business housekeeping. Whee!

I updated the patterns page here on the blog so it's easier to see the multitude of patterns I have already published. At first this seemed like it would be a breeze, but the coding that makes it easier to blog here on Blogger made it harder to edit and streamline the page. It kind of made me want to tear my all-brown hair out, but eventually I got it straightened out, and I hope it will be useful. Patterns are in alphabetical order. Let me know if there is another sorting scheme you'd prefer.

I'm also in the process of adding schematics to all the pattern pages on Ravelry and Etsy (I would like to do Craftsy, but they don't support wide graphics), as well as thumbnails of the pattern pages so you can get an idea of what my patterns look like before you purchase them. I love seeing the cable patterns shrunk down, as you get a really good idea of how they look IRL. That's kind of an ongoing project, so I will get to them as I'm able (with the goal to have them finished before the kids go on Spring Break for the second half of the month - sigh). An Aran for Anne, An Aran for Frederick, Hap-py, Sotherton, and Wavelette are up, so you can see what I'm talking about (Rav links, but they're on Etsy, too).

In exciting pattern publishing news, my samples for A Vest for Charles and Benwick have returned. Now I just have to wait for one of my girls to grow big enough to wear Benwick, since the lovely model is smaller all around than me, and definitely less endowed ;) I'm still waiting to hear when those patterns will be available as individual downloads from Interweave but will let you know ASAP. It's on their radar.

And in more exciting news, I'll be contributing to the next issue of Jane Austen Knits due out this Fall! I am always thrilled to work with them and see what Jane Austen inspires other designers to create. There are a couple of other patterns in process for publications, and I am really close to sharing a shawl with you.

If you are on Pinterest, join me over there as I pin knitting patterns I think are fantastic. I'm curating boards of cardigans, pullovers, shawls, and mittens at the moment and plan to add more as time allows, including some boards for men. I'm trying to make sure they are good pins that lead to the patterns themselves, so it will take me a little longer than some other pinners, but I think it will be worth it.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen