I have a love/hate relationship with sewing. I learned as a child, on my mother’s Singer Featherweight, and quite enjoyed messing around making doll’s clothes. At school, sewing was mandatory in in 1st and 2nd form (year/grade 7 & 8) at Canterbury Girls’ High School (now CGSC). Our teacher, Mrs. DeTarsinszky (sp?), was, um, let’s just say, demanding. Because they weren’t perfectly straight, I ripped out the seams on the nightgown I made in 2nd form so many times that when I finally wore it, the material shredded away to nothing all along the seam lines. We worked on old Singers, both treadle and knee-lever types. I’m pretty sure I’m still traumatized by trying to sew smoothly on the knee-lever machines. The treadles were a little less daunting.
When my kids were little, I bought a cheapish Kenmore machine and made some curtains for the house and a few bits of costumes here and there and did some mending. That machine now resides with my daughter, and I’ve been happily not sewing for quite a few years. But recently, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to have a machine again. For one thing, I *hate* the roman blinds in the kitchen of the house we bought. I’d love to make some to replace them and use some fabric I’ve found on etsy with Australian flora.
So …. recently, I started idly looking at Craigslist from time to time. There were plenty of treadle machines in the Atlanta area, but most were a little pricier than my budget would allow. Last week, I found a listing for a Singer 66 in an art deco-ish cabinet local to us at a good price. Yesterday we went for drive and ended up buying it from a nice lady who has 21 sewing machines and is out of space. It’s currently in quarantine in the garage for a few days.
The cabinet is a little rough on the top and around the edges but is sound. Mr. Booties will be doing some work on it in the coming weeks to tidy it up a bit for me. I think it’s a knock-off of the original Singer desk model cabinet in the ad image below. The trim is a little different (and doesn’t look like it replaced any other original trim). Every other picture I can find on Google image search matches this one:
The machine is in working order (the seller gave me a demo) and looks pretty clean. It probably needs a new power supply as the cord is alarmingly frayed and I’d like to get a new foot pedal for it too. That will all have to wait until it’s out of the cabinet temporarily and we can assess just what it needs.
It came with a huge amount of accessories. I’ll post about them in part two!
How many times have you had someone tell you to just “trust the pattern” about a particularly tricky or counter-intuitive section of a pattern you’re making? I know I’ve struggled with quite a few patterns that other people have breezed through (I’m looking at you Hitofude, for one) because I just couldn’t visualize what was supposed to (magically?) be happening.
Several of my patterns have directions for knitting the cuff with the bootie turned inside out. This is typically because they have an outside cuff which folds over an inner, ribbed cuff, and it’s easier to knit the cuff inside out, than purl it right way out. (Unless of course, you’re someone who prefers purling to knitting!)
When you’re doing this working in the round, the first step after turning the bootie inside out can be a bit confusing – especially the first time you do it! Here’s what it looks like when I do it:
I’ve just finished the last round of the instep and my yarn is at the back needle. Ordinarily, I’d start knitting into that front needle with the yarn from the back.
The bootie is now inside out so the yarn is hanging from the front needle instead.
Now I’ll knit into those stitches on the front needle. Because the yarn is at the front, and not being carried around from the back, there will be a slight gap at the beginning of this round. It will be hidden later by the outside cuff.
I hope this helps anyone who’s stuck on this bit of any of my patterns!
On most of my recent patterns, the booties are started like a toe-up sock and knitted in the round. I knit them using the magic loop method. When you get to the instep, you’re knitting most of it flat, and it can be very awkward to do with the way the stitches are normally divided (half and half from the back & front center) in magic loop. Here’s what I do:
Work in magic loop up to the instep section, as you normally would.
Check ahead in the pattern to the last row/rnd of the instep section and note the first direction – it will be to knit X amount of stitches before doing a k2tog.
*Before* you start the first row of the instep, slide a stitch marker onto the right-hand (working) needle tip (or leave your beginning-of-round/end-of-round marker in place, if you’re using one):
Knit the number of stitches from the last row/rnd of the instep section that you noted in the second step:
Pull first the right-hand needle tip, then the left-hand needle tip, out – all your stitches are on the cable with your marker at center back:
Count off the same number of stitches to the left of the stitch marker and pull out a section of cable – you’ve effectively re-divided your stitches with the instep stitches on one section of cable and the remainder (the back of the sole & foot) on the other section:
Continue with that first row of the instep and work the instep rows back and forth on these stitches up until the 3rd last row of the instep section; you’ll have 1 stitch left either side of your 8 or 10 center (usually) instep stitches on one section of cable:
Start working that 3rd last row, but stop halfway through the instep stitches and, once again, pull first the right-hand needle tip, then the left-hand needle tip, out – all your stitches are on the cable with your marker at center back:
Pull the cable out at the center back, where your marker is – you’ve re-divided your stitches back to the original half & half division:
Finish working your bootie.
I hope this helps with one of the fiddlier bits of making my booties! Let me know if you’d like to see more photo tutorials?
What is a style sheet? It’s an explicit guide to exactly how you want to write and format your pattern. I use one when I’m writing my own patterns and if you have one, it makes pattern writing easier for you and saves time for me as your tech editor (thus costing you less!). If you don’t have one, and would like one, that’s a service I offer.
You might already have a pattern template and be wondering why you need a style sheet and what’s the difference anyway? I like to think of the template as the guide to making your patterns look consistent and the style sheet as the guide to making your patterns consistently easy to read. Consistency across your patterns is important, both for you as the designer and for your customers. First-time customers will appreciate a well-written, edited, and laid out pattern. Repeat customers will become familiar with your pattern style and will find it easier to knit your patterns. With a style sheet, both you and your tech editor will easily be able to ensure that everything you need is included in the pattern and that the layout is consistent with your style.
What’s in a style sheet? All that you need to write a complete and consistent pattern! There’s a lot to include in a knitting pattern and it needs to be as easily comprehended as possible by your customers. You’ll need most or all of the following components in your pattern, and possibly more:
Title, image, romance
Notes (including construction, techniques, etc.)
Materials needed (needles, yarn, notions, etc.)
Abbreviations used throughout
Charts and/or schematics
Your style sheet will outline how and where you put all that pattern information.
When it comes to phrasing directions in your patterns, style sheets are invaluable. For example, my style sheet includes guidelines like:
Instruction repeated until a specific number of sts: use “*…; rpt from * to last X sts,” (followed by instructions for last X sts)
Measurements: use inches (to the quarter inch) & centimeters (to the half centimeter)
Written instructions for charts should end on same row/rnd number as chart (even if using “Row 2 and all WS rows: …” -> write out the last WS row instructions)
Notes re techniques: “Work rows 1-15[17,17,-,-] from Instep Chart 1 on p. x then row 16[18,18,-,-] below; or work entirely from written directions below:”
A style sheet also includes includes information about your pattern template, i.e. exactly how to format your knitting pattern. Are your patterns formatted into two columns a page? Do you use page numbers? Is your list of abbreviations at the beginning or end of your pattern? These are all elements that your style sheet will help you keep consistent from pattern to pattern. In my style sheet, I also spell out specifications for fonts used, colours, sizes, and heading styles. Armed with my comprehensive style sheet, I can easily check off each stage of a new pattern to ensure that I’m being completely consistent.
As a tech editor, I can work with you to develop a good style sheet that helps you write the clearest patterns and maintain a consistent style. If you check your new pattern against your style sheet before tech editing, you can save yourself some money! Please be in touch if you’d like to know more or have questions and, in the meantime, happy knitting and designing!
Sometimes, I have a brilliant idea and it takes months (or even years … I’m looking at you “Flower Shop / Knit Your Own Ending Booties”) for me to execute the bootie design to mesh with the inspiration.
Other times, I have a flash of inspiration and it takes some swatches and playing around with colours and textures to achieve my vision (e.g. Bacon & Eggs Booties).
And, every now and then, I see something that forces me to immediately swatch, then, remarkably quickly, put together a pattern and knit the prototypes.
About a month ago, I was looking for a particular stitch pattern … fell down that particular internet rabbit hole … stumbled across this stitch pattern, which I’d previously used in the cuff of a pair of socks … and that was it!
Daisy Chain Booties are currently being tested and will be released on the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere: March 19.
My Bacon & Eggs Booties pattern has been published on Ravelry! September is “Better Breakfast Month,” after all, so why not knit up some super cute booties for hungry babies? 😉
There was much swatching while designing this pattern … clockwise, from the top, bacon swatch 1, egg yolks 1 & 2, bacon 3, egg yolk 3, bacon 4, egg yolk 4, bootie 1, bootie 2, and, in the center, the finished design!
So I finally managed to set up a Facebook page for shake your booties! I knew I had to do it, I was just procrastinating for some reason! Like many people do, I suspect, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I enjoy engaging with others and seeing their pictures and updates, but I sometimes resent the amount of time it takes up in our busy lives.
Next is to change my Instagram account to a business account and learn about IG Stories … I need to have all this in place and some kind of posting routine established before school starts back up in September.
What else am I forgetting? Business cards? Are they even a thing any more?
One of the groups I belong to on Ravelry (hi LSG!) has a standing tradition about bacon. If you run a poll in a discussion thread to get opinions, you pretty much *must* include a bacon-related response.
I recently sought opinions on whether my prototype Cornflower Booties (another post for another day) looked better with one cuff or another. Of course, I included a bacon option.
Challenge accepted! Bacon & Eggs Booties are currently some tiny swatches and lots of chart versions. The group responsible for my Dragon Baby! Booties has struck again. Stay tuned for an update!
So, I decided the time was right to start a new website. I’m getting ready to transition from full-time library work to full-time knitting design and tech editing. It was time to let the Handknit Librarian go and unify all my knitting endeavours under my designer name.
I have a new logo; I’m most of the way through Joeli’s tech editing course, I’ve got some great new design ideas; and we’re house-hunting for our retirement house. Full steam ahead!