When I grow up. . .
Yesterday, August 21st, was my mom’s birthday! We celebrated with ice cream cake and lots of laughs.
I want to thank my mom for all she has done- giving birth to me, raising me, restraining herself from trying to kill me when I was a rebellious teenager- you know, mom stuff.
I’m really thankful for her introducing me to knitting. An advocate for all things crafty, my mom bought me a book on learning to knit along with needles and Red Heart yarn when I was about twelve. No one in my family knew how to knit. My grandmother and her sister knew how to crochet, but both of them had passed away a long time ago. So, we relied on this simple book to teach me what my mom had hoped would be a good crafting skill. I did mange to make a crude looking sunglass case which I gave to my step-mother.
It would be almost ten years before I picked up the needles again, but I still remember that first book and the seed it planted which would one day blossom into me becoming a knitwear designer. Thanks Mom!
So, I was on Amazon.com the other day checking out the knitting book section when I came across the book, “Knitting On Top of the World”, by Nicky Epstein. I love Nicky’s books and this was one that I hadn’t read yet. I scrolled down to read the general description on the book when I noticed that the book didn’t have the usual 5 star rating that most of her books have. So I scrolled down even further and started reading some of the reviews. A great number of people had given her book only 1 to 2 stars and I was shocked to read what some people said about the book. Here are a few of the comments taken from Amazon.com:
“… but the patterns are just atrocious. I would pass these off as the sort of awkwardly-shaped things you might see on a Milan runway, but they’re even far too frumpy and absurd for runway models. I can’t think of a single occasion in which I bought a knitting book or magazine and didn’t find at least one pattern that I liked, but not only are there no patterns in here that I would want to knit, but I can’t even begin to think of creative ways that I might alter these patterns to make them at least tolerable. A truly absurd and bizarre collection of string. “
“I can’t imagine spending valuable time and money making any of these designs. The only person that would have a time or place to wear any of these “things” would be a paid professional model on a set. I guess this must be eye candy for fashion designers, so why bother with knitting instructions? The Fair Isle Tam Caplet looks like an obscene Mae West joke. My husband thought they were shields.”
“… There may be less than a handful of designs I’d be willing to try. For the most part the colors are garish, the fit is strange, and the designs are just ugly! How is that possible when this book was so eagerly anticipated and the cover looked so promising? I think the ambition of the project allowed more than one mistake to make its way in. To her credit her imagination is wild and I would never be able to produce as much as she puts out. But with that said, it certainly takes away from her reputation when she’s turning out aesthetically-challenged designs.”
Really? I just couldn’t believe that Nicky would spend all her time and energy coming out with something that was pure junk. So I checked out a copy of the book through my local library to see if this book was truly filled with ‘ugly’ designs.
Well, guess what? I absolutely LOVE this book. Nicky, you are incredible! No, this is not a book for everyday knitting. This is pure knitting fashion! Nicky takes knitting to a whole new level in a way that is daring and whimsical at the same time. Inspired by knitting traditions around the world Nicky Epstein has shown herself to be the Elsa Schiaparelli of the knitting world.
Knowing how traditional wool tams are made, I adored her larger than life Fair Isle Tam Capelet. Her Fiesta Skirt makes me think of the art and craft fairs in Santa Fe. And the Evening Gala Aran with its ostrich feather collar makes me want to finally learn how to knit cables. The one piece that’s really got my hands itching to knit is the La Belle Cardigan. Only Nicky could make me fall in love with something so pink and frilly.
“Knitting On Top of the World is not for the knitter who wants to blend in. These designs are meant for the knitter with the desire to stand out and be noticed. With this book Nicky Epstein has shown that she’s not just another knitter who designs pretty cardigans, but an artist who uses knitting as her medium.
Well, I am happy to say that another one of my designs have been accepted by a yarn company!
I’ve just mailed off the completed garments from the other yarn company and working on swatches for a few more submission deadlines coming up.
It feels good to have some work to do and get paid for doing it. Like my Theatre teacher often told me- “The only real difference between a professional and an amature is a paycheck”.
The interesting part about all this is trying to get my Boy Toy to understand the whole process of me being paid to play with yarn.
Boy Toy: So, let me get this straight. You draw some shit on paper, turn it in to some company and they pay you for it?
Liver Chick: Well, that’s part of it.
Boy Toy: So, I could get paid for drawing shit?
Liver Chick: It’s not shit. I draw pretty pictures.
Boy Toy: Okay, so lets say I draw some pretty shit on paper and send it in,….
Liver Chick: Stop calling it shit! Call it ‘stuff’ or something.
Boy Toy: Alright. So I draw some pretty shitty stuff on paper and turn it in. Then they pay me for it?
Liver Chick: Say that five times fast.
Boy Toy: Pretty shitty stuff, pretty shitty stuff, pretty shitty….
Liver Chick: No. You actually have to ‘make’ what you draw and give instructions on how you made it so other people can make it too.
Boy Toy: Well, that’s easy. I’ll just give it to you to make.
Liver Chick: Oh, how nice of you, honey. Make me do all the work while you get all the money? I don’t think so. If I do the work, then I get the money.
Boy Toy: No, that’s not how it works. Remember, we’re married. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.
Liver Chick: Um, I think that’s my line, honey.
Boy Toy: No, I remember specifically in our vows that you are to honor and obey me and give me all your money.
Liver Chick: Maybe those were the vows you heard when you got drunk and married that hooker in Vegas, but that is not how it goes in this house. If you get a design accepted by a yarn company then you’re gonna have to pick up your knitting loom and knit it yourself.
Boy Toy: But honey, you love me. And you suppose to do nice things for the people you love. So, if I get a design accepted, you’ll do it for me, right?
Liver Chick: Only if you agree to clean the toilets for a month.
Boy Toy: Never mind.
I was looking through my sketch books this morning and was blown away at the amount of ideas I have sketched and collected in just a year. I find the very process of coming up with ideas to be just as exciting as seeing the final results knitted up.
This got me to thinking about the notebooks of other designers and after a search on Flickr, I was very pleased to find some designers willing to give us a peek into their sketch books and design process. May you be inspired to pick up your pen and pad and create something new.
I was on the Deep South Fibers website looking at patterns and just fell in love with the designs by Olgajazzy, aka, Olga Buraya-Kefelian. Her pieces are just wonderful to look at and many of her techniques remind me of couture fashion techniques. Well constructed and beautifully presented, her patterns are the ones you’ve been saving that special yarn for.
If you love couture fashions and enjoy seeing someone push the limits on what knitting and crochet can do, then you need to know Sandra Backlund. Go to her sight and bookmark it. Trust me, you’ll come back to her sight often.