business · craft writing · crochet · design process · publication

In the Press: Inside Crochet, Issue 90

Hello Crochet Mavens,

I am one lucky designer today! Inside Crochet magazine featured me in a segment about Crochet Entrepreneurs. It’s a lovely write-up, and I was thrilled to be approached.

Inside Crochet is one of my favorite print crochet mags because of their modern vision for craft, contemporary styling and taste, and their respect for crochet fashion–and it’s always so pretty! Apart from that, they hold a sentimental place in my heart because they were my first crochet publication credit, publishing my Printemps Cardigan in Issue 31, back in 2012.

Fifty-nine issues later, I’m being featured as a pro? That makes my head spin a little. In the interview, I had the chance to share about the continual pressure and occasional confusion that comes with being self-employed, but also about the joys and rewards of pursuing something of my own creation, and having my work find a home with people who love it.

Below is the cover of Issue 90, on newsstands now! I always find it at Barnes & Noble, but IC does digital mags and subscriptions too! But you’re my special friend, so you can read the article just by clicking here —> Crochet Entrepreneur Sara Kay Hartmann

IC 90

There is some journalistic license employed for the sake of readability. For example, I never worked at a publishers. To me that sounds like a cool job held by a character in a chick lit novel. In the interview, when asked about my work history, I droned on about a 2-year stint as an assistant editor of an academic journal which translated to: “publishers.” Sadly, I never got to drink coffee while sifting through a slush pile of manuscripts from undiscovered writers or anything romantic like that. I did digital layouts, tore my hair out over Microsoft Word, bothered authors to turn in their revised articles, and crunched numbers related to our readership stats. The truth is often dull, Friends.

Also, my sweet girl is now nearly 22 months old. I wrote the interview in January when she was 17 months. Lead time in publishing will get you every time! It feels weird to speak about yourself in the present while remembering to mentally add 5-9 months.

Thanks for visiting me today. 

Yours in Stitches,

Sara

 

design process · DIY wardrobe · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · one skein wonder · pattern

Lace Beret, A Free Knitting Pattern

Happy Friday, Knitters!

Red Heart Yarns is offering my lovely lace beret design as a free pattern download! It’s sized for adult Small and Medium: 20 (22)” head circumference.

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The skill level on this pretty beret is intermediate because the stitch counts change on certain rows when working the lace, so keep that in mind if you try out the pattern. The beret uses Red Heart’s With Love yarn, which is a plump and soft 100% acrylic yarn. Since it’s not wool, this could be a summertime or winter hat.

Check it out on Ravelry for more details.

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Thanks for visiting me today. I hope you are having fun making whatever you are making! Leave me a comment to tell me about it.

Yours In Stitches,

Sara

craft writing · design process · DIY wardrobe · dressmaking · sewing

Little Lady’s Tea Party Dress

Hello Sewists,

Today I’m sharing a sweet toddler dress I just finished. It’s a generously sized 3T midi length dress that could also work as a tunic top for 4T. It’s a bit big on my little lady (hovering between 2T-3T) right now, but we’ll wear it anyway and hopefully get lots of future wear out of it too!

 

I bought this whimsical Alice in Wonderland themed Cotton & Steel fabric from my local sewing shop when I went in for a relaxing, baby-free browse a couple of months ago.

 

I used my self-drafted toddler dress pattern for a sleeveless A-line dress, cutting a front on the fold and 2 back pieces. I serged the back and side seams to construct the dress, leaving the back neck opening un-sewn. I used double-fold 1/6″ (-ish) hems on the neck opening, neckline, and armholes instead of the bias binding method I’ve used up to now. Truthfully, I procrastinated awhile on this project after cutting the dress pieces because I was dreading that bias binding process. I had reached a point where I needed to knock this project out so I could go on to other things, so I decided:

“It’s my project, and maybe hemming the neck and armholes is not officially sanctioned by the imaginary craft police, but I’m going to try it.”

 

As a completely self-taught crafter, I often worry that I’m doing things wrong or my skills aren’t good enough. Perfectionism or the straight-up fear of not being good enough have stymied my progress more times than I like to think about. Lately my battle cry (in my own head, though sometimes I do say it out loud) has been “progress, not perfection” along with “practice,” and “try it and see what happens.” This mindset is where my creativity thrives–in a state of curiosity, experimentation, and finding solutions to unexpected problems on the road to my goal. But occasionally the imaginary craft police (a nasty set of wenches) show up just as I’m starting to have a good time. They are headquartered in a town called Evaluation seated in the heart of Criticism County. They always come in groups and say nasty things, like mean girls.

With my DIY wardrobe projects, I remind myself that a project only needs to be good enough for me. 

My work doesn’t need to pass an imaginary judging by these uptight, sniffy sewists who would enjoy telling me how I can and can’t or should and shouldn’t do things. They stand with crossed arms, glance at each other, and whisper things like “well, if she wants everyone to know that’s homemade, sure, I guess she can go ahead and do it that way” or “if she doesn’t care about learning to do things the right way, we won’t interfere” or worst of all, “I guess some things are just too hard for her, poor dear. Let her finish her hems that way.”

 

I’ve read enough books about creativity, flow, and innovation to know that the imaginary craft police are bound to join me. But I make them stand in the corner and be quiet. There’s no getting rid of them completely, they are just part of living in Creativeland. And guess what?

 

Once I shut them up, I enjoyed hemming instead of binding! I clipped the armhole curves at less than 1/8″ and pressed, folded over another 1/6″ layer, pressed and pinned, and edge stitched them on my sewing machine.

 

I added the ruffled eyelet trim (right side of eyelet facing wrong side of dress) to sweeten up the whole thing and give it a daintier look. Boil the teakettle! Bring on the crumpets!

 

I used this tutorial to learn how to hand-sew a thread chain to use as a button loop. It is very delicate because I used sewing thread. If it breaks, I will probably re-sew it using embroidery floss or cotton perle instead of thread. Or I might use this sewn button loop tutorial which looks strong and crisp.


And finally, the skirt has a 1/2″ double folded hem. I love how the eyelet peeks out. It’s a little strange that I see smiley faces in the shape of the lace eyelets, but I guess that’s better than frowny faces, right?


Thank you for visiting me today. What are you making? Have the imaginary craft police ever visited you? How do you shut them down? 

In stitches, 

Sara

design process · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern

My First Aran Sweater

Hi Knitters!

Last summer while sipping coffee at a play date, a dear friend of mine asked me a question. “Do you think you could knit an Aran sweater?”

How that little question changed my life as a designer and as a knitter!

I hesitated as I thought. “I don’t know.” I said. “I…think I could…”

The unspoken end of that sentence was “if I were good enough” or “if I weren’t too scared to try” or “if I could see it through” but as she waited for a reply, I skipped past  my automatic self-doubt and thought, “maybe I could.”

Maybe I could!

I had never attempted an Aran, had knit cables just a handful of times, and had never worked with more than one cable pattern at a time.

Our mommy conversations moved on, but I was still thinking about Arans.

Later as we packed our kiddos up in their car seats, I brought up the Aran sweater again. I found out that she especially loved Arans because she had lived in Ireland. She had loved it there and wished to bring home one of the amazing Aran sweaters she had seen, but never bought one because they were quite expensive.

I said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to make one, maybe I could do it as a design challenge for myself…it would probably take me a long time, but if I got through it and made one, would you like to have it?” She was very excited and said she would pay me, of course.

She is a rare gem who values handmade, and is willing to pay for it. I was grateful but declined the offer because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my creative life, it’s that payment = pressure. And pursuing creative passions under pressure can cramp the creativity and kill the passion. She kindly kept insisting, so we left it undecided.

Weeks went by.

I had Arans on my mind and worked to clear my plate of other projects, ordered some cream-colored yarn, and began doing research in earnest.

I used Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting, borrowed from my local library, as my tutor and started working on the design.

Dover Publications

At first, I puzzled over the hundreds of different cable patterns I found in stitch dictionaries and on Pinterest. How would I choose? What look was I going for? I studied many Aran sweaters, and decided I liked the strong look of a wide center panel. After a couple of false starts and struggling to swatch tricky but beautiful cables, I realized something important for all design and maybe for my life: I didn’t have to make it so difficult for it be beautiful.

Now on the lookout for simple cables, I landed on three that I had passed by in my earlier searches. I liked them and they were easy, so I adjusted two of them to mirror one another, and sequenced them to create seven panels across the front and back of the sweater.

Here is the chart I created in Excel for a single repeat of the front/back body.

Miss Clare’s Aran Sweater: single repeat of back and front body pieces (excluding neck shaping)

Chart Keys

If you look closely at the chart, you’ll see that the entire sweater is made up of knits, purls, 6-cross cables and 8-cross cables. It’s the strategic placement of the cables to create the central horn cable, the plaits, and the twists that gives intricacy to the entire sweater.

I was tickled pink by the fact that the cables coordinated with one another in 4-row and 8-row repeats. This also simplified the puzzle of remembering which cables to work on which row. Once I had my sea legs, the cables told me what to do next. Well, they didn’t start talking or anything, but I could just look and see what should happen next.

That said, I did mis-cross a cable early on, but I caught the mistake before too many rows got away from me, and was able to fix it.

Setting out on uncharted waters…with my trusty knitting chart and Little Sweater Girl nearby!

I worked on this project for about 6 weeks finishing in mid-November. Once the knitting was done, those separate sweater pieces sat on my dining room table for nearly a week.

Because I was scared.

Totally cowed.

Terrified is not too strong a word.

of Finishing.

In the past, I felt triumph and heartbreak at completing the knitting and virtually ruining the finished product because of sloppy seaming.

But as before when the designing got hard, I was spurred into action by thinking of my friend and her excitement over the sweater. I just had to get over it and make it for her.

Finally plucked up my courage and committed the sweater pieces to the laundry tub for a wash.
View of the sweater in process, being blocked and sewn together.
Thar she blows! My First Aran design and knit.
Proud designer selfie.
My lovely friend, Miss Clare, wearing the sweater for holiday, 2016.

What a great experience it turned out to be. What a confidence-building adventure. What a reward to see my friend wearing and loving her sweater that she told me reminds her of one of the happiest times in her life. Thank you for asking, Miss Clare.

So when’s the last time you thought, “maybe I could…

If you think maybe you could, you should!

For the love of trying, and learning, and making your dreams come true however big or small they may be, you should.

In Stitches,

Sara


p.s. If you would like to use my charts to make an Aran, leave me a comment and I can share some more details like a chart for neck shaping and my sleeve pattern. You should also check out the Alice Starmore book, Aran Knitting.

business · design process · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · pattern · tutorial

Red Heart Yarns: Fantastic Ripple Scarf

Hi Knitting Friends,

My needles were clicking fast back in January, and now I can share this fun freelance knitting pattern I designed for Red Heart Yarns: the Fantastic Ripple Scarf!

photo credit: redheart.com

 

photo credit: redheart.com

The scarf is a single repeat of traditional Old Shale lace, edged with garter stitch, and the coolest thing about it is that Marly Bird will actually teach you how to knit the lace in a video tutorial she did for Red Heart!

I hope you enjoy this free knitting pattern!

Yours in Stitches,

Sara

creativity · design process · dressmaking · pattern · sewing

Sewing Simple Clothes

Hi Fiber Friends,

I’ve been in the throes of a new passion! Drafting and sewing simple sewing patterns from old tank tops and t-shirts in my closet to create my own unique tunic blouses. 


The process for each piece is to cut out the front and back, join shoulder seams, join side seams, and add bias binding to the neckline and armholes. It’s a new skill set for me and I’m loving it.


My desire to wear silky, flowy fabrics has motivated me to complete these projects and has also outstripped my ability to work with these materials, but I’m embracing the learning and the little imperfections that come with handmade items.


This is a tiny paper mock-up of an idea for a tee sewn using a striped fabric. Inspiration is everywhere, even on a mundane grocery list notepad.

Of course, my little mite is getting some new clothes as well: skirts, tunics, dresses, and shorts in cheerful quilting cottons. So fun and sweet!



Now all we need is for the weather to brighten up and warm up again so we can wear our lovelies. I hope you’re enjoying your own makes!

Yours in stitches,

Sara

chitchat · creativity · design process · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · pattern

Introducing Annalie

Hello Knitters,

Meet Annalie, a fun pattern for a rectangular shawl or classic scarf. Annalie combines the vintage sweetness of eyelet lace ribs with clean, modern style.

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Annalie is a PDF knitting pattern download  containing full written instructions, knitting charts, and schematic available for $6.00 USD.

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See the Ravelry pattern listing or use the buy now button to buy the pattern. You do not need to be a Ravelry member to use the buy now button.

Here’s a little story about Annalie’s origin.

In another lifetime before I was a knitter, I was a corporate executive assistant and went on a week-long business trip to Luxembourg. If you’ve never been to Luxembourg, it is a country that seems to be right out of a fairy tale complete with castles, cobblestones, and a Duke who lives in center city!

While there I drank the best coffee of my life, tasted my first amuse-bouche on a wide-bowled china spoon (fancy), my first sea scallop (mmmmm), and my first cuttlefish (bleeeeeehhhh) at formal business dinners. I pretended to be a cosmopolitan bomb-diggity twenty-two year old abroad. I also became desperately homesick for my then-boyfriend, now-husband back home in Illinois and felt totally out of place among the throng of cool young professionals working in global finance.

It was early November, and all the Luxembourgers (that’s what they are really called) seemed to be wearing scarves mysteriously wrapped around their necks with the ends tucked in. Over their coats, over their clothes, there was always a scarf. They seemed so stylish in that layered, unmistakably European way of wearing an understated outfit finished off with a beautiful scarf. The choice of scarf added personality and varied from sheer floral silk to cozy wool knit to woven plaid cashmere and everything in between. My scarves had only ever been an afterthought, a long, skinny thing tossed around the neck of my winter coat with the ends flapping in the wind like Snoopy.

snoopy-scarfThese scarves were nothing like that.

Back home, my boyfriend asked me to marry him, I decided to leave corporate life behind, and I began to experiment with wearing wider scarves and wraps coiled around my neck in different ways. If you’ve never seen this amazing video about wrapping scarves, check it out, I guarantee you’ll be digging out your scarves to play. I learned that wearing a scarf is practical, it’s so warm and adds polish to a basic outfit. It’s seasonless, you simply change the fabric or texture as the seasons change. It’s expressive of your taste, your mood since you can wear any sort of fabric, color, texture, or print, and it’s just a lot of fun!

That was about 10 years ago, and my love of the husband, scarves, wraps, and shawls has only grown with time. I hope you enjoy making Annalie because you’re sure to look beautiful wearing her.

Happy scarfing!