Tag Archives: knitwear

The Enderis Park Pullover: My Pattern Inspiration and Giveaway

In the park

The original idea!

It is always exciting to have a pattern idea become reality. The idea for the Enderis Park Pullover started as a sketch about 2 years ago, and sat in a binder until the right design call and the right time came.

This particular design is special because it of its versatility as a garment and as an added bonus works on just about any body type because it is oversized and drapey. It’s also something I could wear as a mom of two boys and feel comfortable running after them in the park or on a play date. 😉

The top would work perfectly over a camisole and a solid color skirt or shorts, great for a fashionable day at the beach or out around town running errands in the summer. It is the kind of top that I’d wear with jeans or jean shorts over a closer fitting shirt to keep my shoulders warm in the movie theater or even as a light, airy shirt to wear out to big outdoor gatherings like Summerfest (Milwaukee’s favorite outdoor music festival).

The final pattern!

The final pattern!

My sample was knit in OMG Rushmore, a sport weight, 100% superwash merino wool. The main color is Earl Grey, the complementary color is called Surrender.

So, if you want to make this pullover, hop on over to Holla Knits Summer 2015 Launch and get it today. The entire collection is pretty awesome.

Pattern Giveaway
I’m giving away a copy of the Enderis Park Pullover pattern. Comment below to enter and the winner will be chosen at random on Monday, June 29.

The Full Blog Tour:
June 15: Holla Knits Summer 2015 Launch
June 16: The Sweatshop of Love
June 17: Klever Knits
June 18: Canary Knits
June 22: MediaPeruana
June 24: YarnGasm – Knitting with Voolenvine Podcast
June 25: Cosmos and Cashmere
June 26: Midwest Yarn
June 29: Emma Welford
July 2: Canary Knits


5 Reasons Why Owning a Yarn Shop/Studio Is the Coolest Thing You’ll Ever Do

If you couldn’t tell, my yarn shop is a bit different than most yarn shops and the biggest reason: it is a studio. Although I usually refer to it as “the shop”, it is my space to “make yarns” as my oldest calls it. What I actually do is design, spin, knit, crochet, relax, teach, and just about everything in between. And because I am who I am, I have to have a little bit of chaos in the midst of all the order – so you will see my organized chaos in the form of piles of books and/or papers (organized, because I know exactly what sheet of paper is where in all that chaos…as long as no one moves anything).


A pattern sneak peek. This pattern, the shawl shown above and a couple others, will be available for purchase beginning November 24, 2014. Kits will be available for purchase for the patterns beginning Saturday, November 29, 2014.

I do this because I love it, but also because it is probably the awesomest (it’s not a word, I know) thing I’ve ever done besides being a mom. Here’s why:

1. No pressure.
When you own a business, there’s always pressure to compete and focus on the actions of your competition. With this being my place for creativity, I don’t feel like I need to focus on what my competitors do, but what I do. That way, the only competition is myself and my ambition. Only I can get in my way if that’s all I focus on. If I focused on outdoing my competitors, I lose focus on what is important to me running my shop…my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that other businesses exist, and I even shop at other yarn shops. Not to see what they do, to buy yarn to make things. I’ll do (and carry) what I want, no questions asked, because it’s my creative space. 😉

2. I answer to myself.
My shop/studio hours are based around what works best for me and my family. I have the most energy and focus at certain times of the day, but I also like to be there for my son’s activities and have time to do things other than designing, dyeing, knitting/crocheting, and paperwork. I get to set those hours as a guideline. If I’m late, I have to make up that time. If I’m sick, I still have to work in some way, shape, or form…usually answering emails, returning messages, or just keeping an eye on Pinterest or other creative outlets to stay inspired. I work a lot, but I’m responsible for balancing work and life. Usually life wins, but that’s because I can knit while life happens and turn that knitting into making some cool things in life happen (like new designs or artistic projects involving yarn and fiber). In the end, it’s very empowering.

3. Yarn.
Yea, you knew I was going to say it. I’m a very visual and tactile person, so yarn speaks to me in so many ways. I’m not always a “yarn snob” and will occasionally find my way to JoAnn’s for Patons Classic Wool or Red Heart Boutique yarn because I need something different than what I carry. Yarn comes in all shapes, sizes, and textures and you may find me or other yarn shop owners fondling and smelling the yarn we carry. Why? Because it’s yarn.

4. I often feel like a mad scientist.
Dyeing yarn brings out the science background in me and reminds me of the days where I would stress out about Chem lab in college. All the calculations we did back then to make sure the right concentration of a compound got me mixed up half the time, but I always understood once we got to the mixing and making when we got to the lab. And in the real world, I have to use it in order for repeatable colorways. So, I don my mask, gloves, and protective gear to mix up dye solutions based on how much yarn I need to dye and the concentration of dye per ounce of yarn in the pot. While I do loathe math, I actually enjoy it when it comes to mixing dye.

5. Meeting people who are just as fiber-obsessed as I am.
There are people who knit (and crochet) and then there are people who KNIT (CROCHET). When I meet the people who KNIT, it turns into a fiber artsy geek-fest that only true die hards (or dye hards) can appreciate. We talk about the 5,000 stitches that have to be bound off at the end of our crazy lace pattern. We fair isle to our hearts’ content. We knit at the movie theater, in the dark, without ever looking down at our hands and can feel the mistakes as they slide off the needles. I like helping people get that far into knitting and crochet. Doing projects I could only dream about, because I don’t always have the time to dedicate. And although not everyone shares my enthusiasm for yarn, the way people light up when they walk into the shop is what drives me to continue doing what I do.

Maybe I can get one or both of my kids to be this enthralled with the fiber arts industry, it has so much to offer. Until then, I just continue to knit the hats and sweaters they ask for.



Thank you!

The last two months have been grueling, especially when you add a now five month old and five year old into the mix. The days that I had mommy brain and brain fog from low blood pressure did not help, but because I’ve been working the shop for the past couple of years, autopilot set in. What I really mean to say, because it must be said:

From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone that has supported our little shop from the beginning and during the growth effort that we’ve completed (FINALLY!). I have some of the best customers any yarn shop owner could ever dream of. No, really…you guys are great!

The growth effort has generated a lot of interest for the shop and OMG yarn. In fact, of that $10,000 goal originally set, if you include the online auction, special orders generated outside of the campaign, pledges to support the new yarn line, a couple secret projects in the works, and the Indiegogo campaign funds raised, we actually got about more than half way there. We also got our 250 votes necessary to complete the Mission Main Street Grant application – Winners will be announced January 2015 after business plans are reviewed by a panel of judges. I’m calling it a success.

So what happens now? The true work begins for Midwest Yarn, and I could not be happier.

  • I’ll be announcing our customer appreciation sale later this week!
  • Yarn for the new line is being ordered – An order for approximately 200 skeins of yarn is being placed this week.
  • Yarn orders generated by the Indiegogo campaign are starting to be fulfilled. Most of what I’m waiting for is product tags, project bags, and a couple other goodies to send to our new list of VIP members.
  • The Etsy shop will become our avenue for online sales, so building up that shop is in progress. I’ll announce every time there are new listings of yarn and other things. First to be listed will be some locally sourced spinning wool that is on consignment from a local business. Yay!
  • A design call is going to be posted sometime this week for OMG’s Spring 2015 and then Fall 2015 patterns to supplement designs that I’m working on.
  • Plans for our booth at TNNA are underway as well, including class proposals to potentially teach at the convention and help cover some of the travel costs.
  • One of the top secret projects I’m working on includes a yarn that was not available for the Indiegogo campaign, but will become available for the Fall 2015 yarn line for reasons yet to be revealed. It is a luxurious worsted weight alpaca/merino blend and another yarn I’m eager to put into production soon. I may also test the waters to see if there’s a market for a lace weight version of that yarn, so that we can have a couple unique blends of domestic wool available for that line (more details to come).
  • People who are OMG VIP members will be privy to all the goodies a little sooner than the general public. VIP membership for OMG will be available via the Etsy shop and inside our brick and mortar shop soon.

Other things to keep in mind:

  1. The new yarns are debuting at our brick and mortar and online stores the weekend of Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. That means your first opportunity to purchase the new OMG yarns and the Fall 2014 patterns and kits will be in just a few weeks.
  2. Yarns will be launched on Ravelry.com around the same time that the first pre-orders will ship in November.
  3. Fall/Winter project based classes will be based around the projects that will be available for OMG yarn in addition to our usual beginner spinning, knit, and crochet classes.

Are you ready for some new yarn? Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (follow button is at the top of the Twitter widget on the right hand side of our web page), Instagram, and Facebook so you can see what’s coming and when.

Thanks again, I can’t wait to show everyone what’s up next!

Sizing: A Sensitive Design Subject

Indiegogo Campaign Update
As of right now, we are at $1,398 (about 14% funded). Make sure you are sharing our link so that we can be successful with this campaign. Contribute or share via: http://igg.me/at/midwestyarn

My to do lists are set and I’m working on inspiration boards on Pinterest for the expanding yarn line, but I wanted to discuss a sensitive subject: sizing.

I have not struggled with my weight nor do I bother to care much about how I look, I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of gal. In fact, my mother had to beg and plead with me to wear clothes that were MORE revealing when I was younger (think oversized T-shirts, baggy pants, my favorite pair of Deion Sanders’ Nike Tennis Shoes and my typical outfit was complete…). Worrying about my weight was not something I did, in fact, I wished I weighed more back in the day.

In my adult life, I’ve been anywhere from a size 2 to 16 and usually fall somewhere in between. Prior to my sophomore year in college, I had no chest or hips to speak of, and usually was mistaken for a boy (again, because I never really dressed “girly”). So you can imagine my mother’s shock at my decision to become a designer.

Let’s face it, I prefer designing more things that I or my boys would wear. Functional, flattering, and something you’d want to wear for longer than a family portrait session or one special occasion. I could never pick out the right sweater pattern for myself. Usually, design companies would put their sample garments on someone who was just not quite my size or shape. Once I got the lady curves, I didn’t know how to dress them (and now as a breastfeeding mother, my bust line has crossed over into the realm of people have to look twice to see if my breasts are real or fake and I have to size up my shirts just to squeeze those puppies in there).

I cannot stand seeing sweaters and other garments on models that don’t truly show off the design at hand. No offense to anyone, but if you’re going to model a pattern that I’m going to spend weeks or months on, I’m gonna need to know PRECISELY how it’s going to fit by looking at pictures. I don’t have time to read measurements, ease, instructions, and all that nonsense when I’m shopping for yarn and a project, especially now that I have two boys who have limited patience for me to stop and feel all the pretty fibers at yarn shops other than my own.

So why dress someone with no bust in a garment that have darts to accentuate the bust? How is the layperson going to know that they’ve even accomplished the original idea of the pattern if you cannot tell where certain landmarks like said darts should fall?

Take this lovely number for example:
I made this dress to be a sample in the shop when we first opened. I also wanted to wear it for a cruise and knew it would take a while to finish. After all, the pattern calls for the gorgeous lace weight yarn, Findley Dappled, a variegated 50/50 merino/silk blend by Juniper Moon Farm. I liked the look of the pattern, in fact, I though the length and cut of the dress would be perfect, because it had darts, which in the model picture (not shown here), came up to high on the model’s waist. The skirt also went down to below her knees.

I spent an entire year knitting this dress. And we’re talking an entire year of sitting at the shop for 8 hour days knitting. Yes, I took breaks and also did smaller projects in between, but those usually only took a few days or up to a week away from this project. I took a creative license and decided that I’d shorten the skirt, since I meant for it to be worn on a cruise ship. I also took a chance that I would not gain or lose too much weight over that year, so I exercised regularly throughout that year so that I would not change size specifically for this outfit. And let me say, for the record, it changed my body image completely by focusing on this project this way…and I was only making a size Medium!

I marveled at how close I was to the end and when I bound off all 450 some odd stitches in Jenny’s Super Stretchy Bind Off, I jumped for joy and ran home to carefully block the dress. Once it had dried, I put it on and instantly felt my heart sank. I had not gained or lost any weight, but my bust darts were highlighting my nipples like they were some sort of circus attraction! I was HORRIFIED! So I pulled out the book to see if I had done something wrong.

There was the picture staring me in the face, bust darts ending at the model’s WAIST. I measured myself, I measured the dress, I checked my gauge, and my damn darts were still there pointing center-boob telling me there was just something not right and I had wasted $100 worth of yarn and A YEAR OF MY LIFE!

So, I texted my mother for a second opinion. I took pictures of myself in the dress and sent a picture of the model in the dress. My mother, a long time quilter and sewing extraordinaire, texted me back in less than 30 seconds, “Well, there’s the problem: your dress is just fine and you look gorgeous. Darts are supposed to be at the bust line. Remember the last dress you made on the sewing machine?” I thought back to my last sewing project which was several years back and remembered that I had come to her about the bust darts to make sure that they weren’t too pointy, accentuating the nipples as this dress was doing.

She reassured me that the dress that I had spent time on was correct, but was puzzled as to why the model was chosen in the first place. The model had no bust line so there were darts leading up to a point where breasts would have been (the dress would have also been much shorter had she had a bust line…so that meant where my dress fell with a shorter skirt was a little too short for my liking but within standards of human decency – meaning, I would have any Paris Hilton-esque lady bit exposure moments while on this cruise).

So, the moral of this story is: as a subset of the fashion industry in which we make our clothing stitch by stitch and spend painstaking amounts of time on a garment, why would we not as design manufacturers show off our product that would lead to a POSITIVE experience upon completion? After all is said and done, knitters and crocheters do it for the love of the craft. If you are modeling/showing off a design, use models that will ultimately demonstrate how your garment will fit on the average person.

Had I not known what darts were and what they are supposed to look like, I probably would have sunk into a depression about my weight and measurements, because ultimately I would have felt fat and humiliated for spending all that time dieting and exercising to stay that size only to find that magically I was not the same measurements that I had just taken moments before to ensure I was in fact, the right size for the finished garment. Imagine how the next person would have felt about it. That woman who doesn’t know how to sew or what darts are.

And keep it simple, don’t let people have to guess what you were going for with your design. Tell us:

  • Is it supposed to have ease? How much ease? Is it supposed to be form fitting or oversized?
  • Where are the design landmarks supposed to fall? (for example, let the average person know where their bust darts are supposed to fall, not everyone is a seamstress)
  • Further, is the length of the garment supposed to land mid-thigh? At the waist? Sleeves at the elbow or wrist?

No, designers and pattern vendors, your job IS NOT to make people feel good about themselves, but your job IS to make people happy with your product and want to knit or crochet something of yours again and again.

Anyway, that’s at least my aim as a designer…