Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Design Inspiration

Ann Tilley Handmade's spring collection is here!

Take a look here.

I'm still hanging on with this clothing line idea, I feel like I've created my own personal grad school with how steep my learning curve has been. Attempting to stay in front of the season change has been crazy! Mother Nature got me all scared cuz we started having spring/summer weather like weeks ago and I was panicking cuz I was still trying to sling long sleeve tops. It cooled down again but it certainly got my butt into gear!

A central start for my designs is looking to my own wardrobe and what I love to wear again and again. 

Enter my all-time favorite black pencil skirt, made out of a stretchy black knit that was starting to look worse for the wear. I had never been fond of the way the waistband fit, hence I'm hiding it with a big belt ~ prime inspiration for an update on a classic. I had also been fantasizing for some time now on a great wrap skirt (check out my Pinterest board inspo!). Thus, the Goddess Drape Skirt was born. 

I wanted maximum drape, full of texture and maximum comfort. Folding the fabric allowed me to get a clean edge on the front drape panels and doubled the fabric; acting like a lining.

On the opposite end of designing, there's starting with a fabric and trying to figure out what to make with it. I had planned to design a wrap dress but discovered the fabric I intended to use was much too stretchy for my original intentions. Then I just started playing and discovered how much I loved the look of an over-the-boob wrap top. Being large-chested, a standard wrap that crosses your breast can easily put you into lady-of-the-night category if you're not careful. I love that here you can get the ease of wearing a wrap with the benefit of full coverage. Having your arms exposed and the cropped hem length keeps you from looking too matronly. 

This dress was inspired by a vintage girl's dress I found in a shop in downtown Pittsboro. 

It was much tighter and shorter and had red stripes -- the neck was so tight I had to cut it larger to get my head in! It proved to be a little too small for regular wear and it got cycled out of my closet. I think we all know what it feels like to find a great garment that had that one flaw you wish was different. The beauty of designing from your own wardrobe is getting a chance to fix that flaw!

I'm strugglin' a little because I made this dress months ago after finding the perfect striped ponte fabric, and now I'm having trouble getting my hands on more fabric, to be able to offer this look to my customers. I'm gonna have to play it by ear and settle on another fabric if I can't get anymore.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into my spring collection and design process that went into it all!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Clothing Line Launches Amid Procrastination, Anxiety, and Ever-Neglected Household Chores

I sorta love this picture. It really captures me in a candid state -- having fun but probably not sure what I'm doing, haha. 

There is one thing that I do know how to do, and do well, that is make clothing. But trudging through the process of building a website, taking professional photographs (do I have to wear makeup??), learning the ins-and-outs of credit card processing, NOT TO MENTION how do I get my product to customers in the first place??

I'm slowly finding answers to these questions, in my own way. This whole clothing line is me doing it all in my own way, with the help of uber-talented friends that have brought me guidance and a helping hand. I didn't realize how badly I'd need that helping hand. 

The anxiety and procrastination I've developed over the past couplea weeks has surprised me. That's not me, why do I feel this way? I ain't scared if that's what you're thinking ... or am I? I've double-checked everything so why can't I just pull the trigger on this bitch? I don't have anything to fear cause I don't even know what I'm getting myself into!

I'm just gonna say to myself that feeling all these feelings must mean I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone and I've heard that it's good to do once in a while.

So without further delay, I'd like to announce that my clothing line is officially open for business, with the first garment being released TODAY! Wahoo!! Take a look at the new site!

I've got some thank you's I need to get out there.

Seth Tice-Lewis, you're tha bomb, your photography skills made it easy create a great-looking site.
Skram Furniture Co., for letting us use your space and hog the radio even though I didn't ask.
Brittney O'Brien, you made me feel so confident with a great new hair-do before the shoot, and for showing me what makeup is even though I hardly put any on.
Chris Martz and Benjamin Reed, for advising me in the ways of HTML script.
Anna Daigneault, for proof-reading, trouble-shooting, and giving lots of hi-fives.
The Tilley/Thornton families, Haley Harned and Jenny Ellis for giving me your honest opinions about my clothes and telling me my ideas are good.
Adam Joyce, for orchestrating the wonderfully-instructional measuring video, for srsly holding my hand through this process, and for continually wiping sawdust off my ass.

And for all of YOU, who have been excited about my ideas, who have shared your clothes and fit stories with me, who have followed me through my career journeys, hell, I wouldn't have started this thing if it wasn't for Instagram and the feedback I got there. THANK YOU FOR PUSHING ME TO THIS POINT.

And this is only the beginning. Once I start to work through these first 3 garments, and get a chance to tweak and troubleshoot, I'm hoping this clothing line can become a well-oiled machine that can last through the year, if not longer. My initial goal was to release at least 1 garment a month for the whole year. I don't know where I'll go from there but I'm excited to see where I find myself this time next year!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Clothing Line!

SO, I know some a y'all be thinking that I'm fully-focused on my art career right now ... I was thinking the same thing too. Well, I can't explain it but I got this bug (or rather a really good idea) to play with making clothes for others. I have been having a fabulous time these past 2 years making my own garments and honing my pattern-making skills. It's like a super-practical 3-D puzzle that engages my brain in wonderful ways. After my peanut shorts experiment earlier this year, I started to seriously consider developing a clothing line. And I finally got fed up working with clients on their ideas and decided to find an income with my own ideas.

Starting January 2016, I will be officially launching Ann Tilley Handmade clothing!

Here's how it works:
Ann Tilley Handmade is a small-batch, made-to-order clothing line focused on everyday, easy-wear-easy-care garments. We will release one look each month via social media and other online marketing tools, with particular emphasis on direct e-mail. Customers will place their order on a first-come-first-served basis online, and will be prompted to provide their body measurements. The garment will be cut and sewn to fit their specified dimensions and mailed out to them. As soon as all the fabric is gone for each garment, the product will come to an end. We're striving to exist between $30-$100 price range per garment.

To be the first to know about new products, make sure you are signed up to my email list! Those on the list will get a 24-hour heads up to make a purchase before I post publicly on social media. There's only going to be 8-20 garments offered for each look so you gotta move quick!

Here's my mission statement because, yes, I wrote a business plan so you have to read it now :)

Ann Tilley Handmade strives to provide the general public with ethically-made clothing that are unique, stylish, and comfortable, with an option for custom fitting.  ATH is for those who otherwise can’t afford to shop ethically or don’t know how.  ATH is for the person who has a unique body shape and is unable to fit in clothing off the rack.  ATH is for the person who wants to dress like a true individual!
In lieu of photos of the actual clothing I will be offering (the photoshoot is January 9th!) here are some shots over the last year of clothing I have made for myself and loved ones.

One of my biggest regrets about pursuing a fashion career is that a lot of times it does not fall in line with my moral and environmental values. I see all these wonderful people around me are following careers that contribute to the greater good and I'm making clothes? And when you hear about all the tragedies surrounding cheap, overseas labor (watch The True Cost documentary on Netflix) or the fact that the fashion industry is the 2nd largest waste-producing industry, second only to the coal industry, it makes one feel sorta sick to their stomach walking through a Target or a TJ Maxx.

I can't change the industry -- one little girl in rural NC -- but I can choose to not support it with my money. I haven't really shopped for new clothing in 2 years, occasionally I crumble but less and less frequently. I'm lucky because I can make clothes for myself but my friends don't have that option, and me reprimanding them for shopping at Old Navy doesn't really change anything. We need some clothing and we want other clothing because it's fun, it makes you feel good, like yourself, it's a fundamental way that humans present themselves to each other.

I'll be sewing all purchased garments by myself in the lil 9 ft x 15 ft home studio barn behind my house. The fabrics are being sourced based on their uniqueness, comfort, and price, and each product will be available until I run out of its allocated fabric. Then that keeps me from getting burnt out on the same thing and a chance to try out new designs and fabrics. I guess it's the artist in me bleeding over to the fashion side. I don't have a ton of control (for now) about how ethically the fabric is being produced, especially if I am considering cost, but usually that aspect of manufacturing is less reliant on human labor. And as this project moves along, hopefully I can educate myself more on this aspect of the business and make thoughtful changes.

So... LET ME KNOW WHAT Y'ALL WANNA SEE! What garment are you missing from your wardrobe that you just can't find?

I'm ready to take your orders!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fall Activities

Gravy once again finding my work table, and all the projects I'm currently working on, a pleasing place to nap.

Hey everybody! 

I have been up to a ton of stuff this fall and am very pleased to say that not much of it has been freelance work-for-hire crap. I am whittling it out of my life and it feels great! Still got a couple loose ends I have to finish up before I can state that I am completely free. And I'm serious when I say free. Doing work for others comes with a level of stress -- knowing that someone else is holding you to a deadline, the need to live up to others' expectations, etc -- and those things had a way of weighing heavily on one's shoulders. I think that's why school wasn't such a great fit for me. I work a lot better holding myself to deadlines rather than to be pressured by others, which I have recently realized about myself. AND it is a very crucial thing to have some insight on when you are attempting to work for yourself.

See how much the original lining had disintegrated?

I recently finished up a project that I was somewhat stressing about, so much so, that I put it away and promptly forgot about it (psst for a whole freaking year!). Ok, ok, lemme explain. It was for a friend, someone who had done favors for me in the past and I was wanting to do it for free for him. What happens when you lack financial compensation? You put it off.

Of course, that all seems so silly now because was it not nearly as difficult or time consuming as I had dreaded it to be ---- re-lining a leather jacket including all the pockets. It actually was kinda fun! Well, after the tedium of seam-ripping the whole thing, and trying to do a clean job of it so I could use the original pieces as guides to cut the new fabric.

And what I was dreading the most was if my sewing machine could handle all that leather. It worked so well it blew me away. I do have an industrial machine but I don't have a walking foot. Sweet relief! And I'm now thinking that I have some room to ask him for another favor... 

I met a herd of knitters in Greensboro, working on a large yarn-bomb intended to cover the whole Walker St bridge. They were very relieved when I showed up with my bulky hobby knit machine (did I mention someone gave me one? As in fo free??). I let them borrow it to help with the boring stuff. We met in the back of Shelf Life, a new, independent art supply store in town, and how great is the atmosphere? I just thought these pictures were fun and colorful.

I was able to donate some practice knits that I didn't want to throw away. Those green-and-white swatches forming the "H" were from when I was just learning how to use my fabulous standard gauge knit machine.

Speaking of knitting machines...

Did I tell y'all I got picked to be a pop-up artist-in-residence at the Greenhill Center?? 10 days in their ArtQuest space, to set up whatever work I wanted to do and to interact and engage with the kids and families that came through the space.

I attempted to try and get the kids to draw their own knitting designs on graph paper, with an emphasis on drawing houses, since I've been making a lot of houses this year. It failed miserably but I had a back-up plan consisting of using those pot holder loops to teach finger knitting and a bag-full of pom-pom makers. Isabella did draw her guinea pig and I was thrilled to use the machine to knit it for her.

So maybe I wasn't able to get the kids to directly interact with a project that I was working on, but I at least promoted the name of fiber arts. And who doesn't like pom-poms?? 
If you can see in the earlier picture of my knitting set-up, I had that bulky hobby machine out (bottom right) for anyone interested and during my time there I had 2 groups of kids that got really into knitting on the machine. As in, one group (consisting of 2 brothers and a grandpa) came back the next day just to work on the machine! It surprised me, I wasn't sure how they would take to it but the older brother especially (probably 9 or so) could use it with minimal help from me. And they were able to knit an entire scarf to take home with them!

At the end of my time, I had done more socializing, networking, and playing with the kids, rather than making any art. It still felt like a success though. It's always exciting to share activities with kids that engage them. As in...

 ...this one little girl that came to family night was finger-knitting, and I was basically putting the loops on her fingers for her. .. and doing the knitting part ... she was pretty much just holding her hand there. Then slowly she started taking over for me, one step at a time, to the point that she didn't need me anymore. And every time that she would finish a "row" of fingers, she would hold it up for me to see and just beam with joy and satisfaction. I got a lot of enjoyment out of watching her.

Family time out in the backyard.
This photograph is titled "How to keep the 2.5-yr old entertained and outta trouble". I am jealous of that full-split, Susan! Talk about open hips! She must be made of playdoh :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Don't. Give. Up.

Working for yourself can be a daunting excursion into a dark and unknown place. There are reasons to give up at every corner. I have been working for myself in some form or fashion for the last 6 years, that business has encompassed making t-shirt quilts, hand-tooling leather stools, developing prototypes for other peoples' ideas, custom clothing, trying to make and sell my own art (and don't even get me started on my attempt to get into the upholstery business) .... it's been a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets. And my brain and heart have likewise felt equally split. Some days are harder than others, and it's tough to keep the bad thoughts out...

...when you are reminded that doing what you love probably won't get you rich. Or even just financially comfortable.

...when you learn that your Affordable Health Care is going up another $100 because you have a job that doesn't come with benefits.

...when you pour your heart into your ideas and projects and some people just don't get it (especially if said people are your friends and family).

...when you tearfully search job listings on Craigslist in a fit of desperation.

...when your perceive others as having more success than you.

...when the uncertainty of your future bears down on you with the weight of the world.

All I know to do in these times is remind myself to just not give up. Not today, at least.

Don't give up.



Think about it. What else would you rather do with your time on earth? Work an unfulfilling job just for the financial security, always putting your dreams on the back burner.

But it would be so easy to give up...

Ok, ok we can't listen to that voice.

Ann's Top 5 Reasons NOT To Give Up

1) ...because there are too many things in the world I haven't done yet. And I want to make everything at least once (yes, one day I will make a bra!)

2) ...because I know I am capable of something great and not proving that to myself would be the biggest disappoint of my life.

3) ...because fear of failure is the dumbest reason EVER. It's the unknown, so why fear something that has not even been written yet?

4) ...because at the end of it all, money is not important. Study after study tells us that ultimately happiness does not come from our bank accounts (that is, once you're out of poverty. If you are reading this, then you're probably doing okay).

5) ...because I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
Remember when you worked for other people and it felt like treading water? Like you were waiting for your life to start? Yeah, you don't want to go back there. You're going to figure out how to make this work, and it's going to happen!

And because there are cotton fields out there to sit in!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Caught On Camera

Hey y'all!


I haven't had much to say lately here on the blog but you know there has been nada slack on my making habits. We recently installed infrared deer cameras in our backyard after a break-in (nothing too bad, we're lucky) and as a result I accidentally documented my comings-and-goings on one of my latest projects: making new "old" flags for Wrangler jean company (they're HQ is in Greensboro!).

Serendipity is such a funny thing. After receiving the latest Textile Arts Center magazine months ago, I followed their instructions for making a rust dyebath, with no real purpose, just out of curiosity.

Aka- 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, and a bunch of rusty metal objects set into a jar for several weeks.

Then I got this freelance job to make new "old" flags, and I thought what better way to make something look old than a rust dyebath?

I wadded up the flags after they were sewn and shoved them in the pickle jar full of the rust solution. Then I would leave them out in my backyard for days on end, allowing them to get rained on and generally exposed to the elements. This would subtly deepen the rust splotches in a nice way. If you pulled one out of the jar and didn't wash it off at all, the rust would deepen dramatically (ie- the 2 on the bottom left photo below).

 These are various stages of rust depth. The bottom left I tried to bleach after the rust color became too deep and apparently rust is not affected by bleach. The bottom right is a black tea stain, much too gray for this project.

Then when I was satisfied with the rust color, I took some sand paper to the fabric and added my "W". These are my guide lines before stitching. Alas! I was so anxious to drop this project off I forgot to get a final pic ... whooooops. It was a really fun project! I've never played with "aging" fabric before, you sorta feel like a mad scientist; dipping, watching, washing, re-dipping. I played with several types of stains in the beginning but the rust proved the best.


I also got a couple new toothbrush pairs framed this week. I couldn't decide what to do with the frames, the natural beech just seemed so boring so I grabbed my acrylics and started painting. I was so happy with the results that I decided to make a whole rainbow of toothbrush pairs in this manner.

Seriously, not joking. I made a whole pile of new toothbrushes!! 17 in all. There will be lots of paint mixing in my future :)

And I'm always making new houses when I can. I've started adding solar panels in now that I'm using the knitting machine to make them. My stitches are much tighter with the machine which means I can get more detail in a smaller space. The 2 on the bottom right and the top middle one are machine-knit and the others are hand-knit. Can you see the difference in the stitch size?

I have a few house available for sale on my Etsy page and I would like to add more when I can! That bottom middle house with the solar panel has become my fave and I've been loath to part from it. I guess I need to make more so I can share!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

How Peanut Shorts Led Me To A New Business Venture

Something that I'm recently discovering is vitally important for creative types/business entrepreneurs/designers/makers/discoverers/ME : making time to play

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I tend to "should" all over my life. "I should be responding to that client's email", "I should be regularly posting updates on Facebook", and the biggest one "I should be making more money". I am certain now that all that "should"-ing has held me back from growing my career and discovering what I really want to do.

If a scientist doesn't make time to experiment, how will she be able to discovering anything new?

If a chef doesn't make time to try out unfamiliar ingredients, when will she ever develop new recipes?

I allowed my fear of needing to make money keep me from playing in my studio. I took other people's stressful jobs, things I didn't even want to do, just for the money and prevented myself from discovering ways to take my own creativity and turn it into a career, on my own terms. 

It's ok, it only took me like 3 years to figure this out but, hey, better late than never. 

So let me tell you about my new business idea...

 .... I'll give you a hint, it's not modeling!

A couple weeks ago I made myself a pair of cotton shorts on a whim. It was hot, and I couldn't find my other pair. I'm sure there were other things I could've been doing that day but I chose to prioritize this project. Then I wore them every day for the next week. I was obsessed with these shorts!

My #1 man encouraged me to post a pic on Instagram and see if anyone else wanted a pair, and people were interested! The next day I went back into my studio and assessed that I had enough peanut wax print fabric to make 6 more pairs. So I threw the offer out there via Insta:

6 pairs available
$36 flat + free shipping
first 6 people to respond get em'
who wants em'?

I learned with my pair that it's nice to have a tag to easily identify front from back -- personalizing the tags makes it all the more fun, and a nice surprise for my clients.

I was sold out within the hour! 

That night I sent out invoices via Square (--> unbelieveably easy! Highly recommend it. BUT Venmo is the best to be able to avoid any processing fees, seriously, no fees! Only catch is you and your client both need to be signed up to use it. With Square, your client only has to enter payment info and that's it.) I also sent out emails with instructions on measuring your body.

Then all I had to do was wait for these 6 guinea pigs to fulfill their end (payment + measurements) and I happily sewed up their orders as they came in. It was enjoyable work that I created in my own studio, I was able to use up all this beautiful fabric that had been sitting around collecting dust. It overall was a great experience. I actually ended up selling more than 6 because I had a couple friends that saw more fabrics sitting around my studio and requested shorts in those alt. fabrics.

Peanut shorts seen in the wild!

My co-worker Gillian snapped this shot in her new shorts, made with another wax print fabric I had lying around.

Doing this little experiment got me really excited about the idea of creating more limited edition garments. It absolutely fits so many things that I love, those things being...

1) creating unique garments,
2) flexing my pattern-making skills and seeing them thru to full development,
3) small business, small production, small enough work that I can do by myself, 
4) providing others with a chance to purchase clothing outside of the "big box", 

...not to mention providing a custom fit! If only I could stand on a soapbox and preach the glories of clothes that are made specifically for one's body. I shutter at the thought that most of us wander this earth wearing garments that only kinda fit right. Or gosh! people that don't even realize what well-fitted garments look and feel like! Their ignorance pains me! I know the Truth! Follow me and I can make you look like you lost 20 pounds just with the magic of my sewing machine!

My favorite is to create a garment and fine-tune it till I can say this is a quality product. That means wearing it and judging its fit, washing it and seeing how the fabric wears. I'm a true sample-maker at heart, the engineering of it all is what I live for.

This is me creating a non-committal clothing line, as inspiration strikes and time permits. I love the freedom of this idea and I've got so many more garments I'm getting excited about offering. For this first go-round, I only advertised on Instagram but there's possibilities of expanding to other social media outlets and email marketing (join my mailing list here).

What do you think? Would you buy clothing in this manner? What platform do you think is best for this sort of business venture?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DIY Wedding Guest

Spent the afternoon watching "The True Cost" documentary and knitting organic, hemp fabric scraps that I got from work. YES it was a perfectly-sunny summer day and YES I had more productive things I could've been doing (I'll refrain from photographing the dishes in the sink and my suitcase opened in the middle of the floor), but this, this was ME time and it felt utterly refreshing.

Remember how I was struggling to post any updates at the beginning of this year because I was so busy? Well, I'm still busy and it looks like I won't get any breathing room until October comes and goes. The main culprit? Weddings! I'm at that age and am reaping the benefits (and financial burdens) of investing in so many personal relationships over the years. 

So today I'm knitting pot holders, and scheming on other DIY wedding gifts (I love these tea towels) I can create to show my love for all these beautiful people and keep my wallet in my pocket. Or at least save it for air fare.

Do you have any DIY wedding gift ideas? Plz share ASAP!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Liking Isn't Loving

I am so stinkin' torn right now about this project. The problem is that I just don't love it, but I really like it. The "liking" part is making it hard for me to want to scrap the project all-together. It has merit, but it just doesn't create that "I'm so obsessed with this!" feeling like most of my other knit pieces illicit. So do I frog the project or do I invest the time in finishing it?

I just don't think the background colors are successful. My attempt to deepen the gradient helped but it's still too rigid, and then the separation between the 2 yellows disappeared so I'm left with the uneven distribution of colors. It feels weighted in the wrong ways.
Now here is a successful color gradient! I knit Hammered//Enamored by hand so, moving slower, I was able to assess the color-change much more closely. Also, only being able to view the backside of the knitting while using the machine, limits my visibility of what I am doing. 

I don't know what I'm going to do. I HATE feeling like I wasted my time or, even worse, that my art progress is moving at the pace of a fist fight underwater. I want so hard to be prolific and react quickly on my ideas but with all life puts on each of us, it can be tricky. And I'm just not a person that can forego all other life-fulfilling activities for the sake of my art career. Sometimes I wish I was.

Have you ever been stuck about making decisions like these? How do you work through them?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Floppy Drives and Embroidery Hoops

 The view from my lap this week. Over the weekend I had a chance to spend some one-on-one time with a seasoned machine knitter from my guild, Cindy. She was so gracious as to allow me into her craft room and utilize some of her ancient, expensive, and highly-coveted (by me) technology.

SO, my knitting machine has electronic functions -- so far, I have only explored the more manual aspects of these capabilities -- but I knew there were ways to take designs directly out of the computer and upload them to the machine, bypassing any need to input the pattern by hand. I had no idea how, hence my idea to ask for help.

SIDE NOTE: This year, more than any other year, I have found myself actively seeking help from others with knowledge beyond my own. It's a really good idea. And if there is knowledge you can share with them..well then the cycle of learning never ends.

In anticipation of Cindy's help, I challenged myself to make the largest stranded knitting design (aka- fair isle, aka- 2-color design) ever in my lil' history. I had parameters, mainly the limit of the width of the machine, which is 200 stitches wide. So I ran with that and this is what I came up with.

I started with the familiar, toothbrushes and houses, and from there, found myself creating new motifs. In my newest body of work, I'm beginning to comment on the wide-range of technology that's seeping into our day-to-day lives, with an emphasis on my dual love and hatred for all these screens. So that's where the satellite dish, iPhones + earbuds, and solar panels are coming into play. (Also you know where the solar panels are coming from.) The design was also inspired by a traditional rug layout. 

One of my inspirations for this design; I saw this rug in a museum on University of Georgia Athens' campus. Not only is the layout inspiring but I love all the little animal motifs!

This design is also a personal reaction/reflection of my own home. The solar panels that were built in my backyard were a source of great pain, but now in the wake of the dust settling, there is still much beauty around me as well as some surprising benefits as a result of the changed landscape. As in, we now get a great view of the sunset. So, there's another duality being expressed in this piece. A sort of harshness (chain-link fence) mixed in with cheeriness (flowers blooming).

Once over at Cindy's, we attempted to bring my DIY computer-knitted design into her pro knitting software called DesignAKnit, or DAK. It worked somewhat, but then I spent the next few hours cleaning it up and adapting it correctly to her program. It is such a cool program -- the next time I find $800 burning a hole in my pocket, I've got to buy this!! Once the design was completed, we hooked Cindy's Tandy floppy drive to the computer -- again, just the cord to adapt the drive to the computer comes at an exorbitant cost. It's basically an emulator function, these sort of external floppy drives were never meant to receive information from a home computer, rather you would buy the disk that had the design you wanted and that was that. We had to export the design into 6 separate tracks due to the limited memory space on my CompuKnit III. Finally, another cord connects the floppy drive to my machine, and we begin the uploading and knitting process.

Are you still following me?? 

Ok, now here's how we actually got to knitting. We uploaded the first track from the floppy drive onto my machine. I get it set-up with proper orientation and I start running the carriage. When we get to the end of the programmed design (carefully cause the machine will automatically begin repeating the design so you hafta hafta make sure you end on the exact right row), we plug the floppy drive back in and overwrite Track 1 with Track 2, and knit again. There's some careful steps that needed to be taken between the designs to make sure they lined up correctly, Cindy and I would speak out loud for every operation so as to be constantly confirming with each other that we had done everything. This went on for all 6 tracks before we were finally finished. 

OH, ALSO during this time, I was attempting to create a gradient with my background color. See, I forgot until the night before our get-together that I would have to to bring all the yarn I needed with me and that I would require more than one ball of yarn to complete the project. That's new for me to need larger quantities of yarn. So in a pinch, realizing that I didn't have enough of any one color, I decided I would used 4 similar colors, and create a rough gradient through changing lines. Knitting 2 rows of new, 4 rows of old, 4 rows of new, 2 rows of old, and finally changing over to the new yarn color. In theory, this made sense to me.


Was NOT happy with the result (this is the best picture I took of the lines showing). For the first color change, the 2 different yarns were so similar in shade that it looked good. But for the yellow-to-green, and then green-to-blue... I wasn't happy. So more need for ingenuity. That's where the embroidery hoop comes in. I decided to deepen the illusion of a gradient, and remove the harshness of the lines, through duplicate stitch. Basically an embroidery stitch where you're going over the existing knitting with what looks like a typical knit stitch, one at a time. I utilize this technique often to garner the results I desire and to add complication to my design. 

It's a slow process but it's doing the trick! I'm about 3/4 of the way through so when I get it done, I will share a photo asap!

I have been a little reticent about fully automating the knit process, just because to me the making is the beauty, and I never want to take away from the making process. But, I also see the wonder in being able to allow my ideas to come to fruition more quickly. Especially since no matter how many hours there are in the day, I never feel like I can get anywhere very quick. It's in those times when I feel frustrated about how slowly my projects are coming that I remind myself of the journey and how with enough baby steps I can get there one day. Just maybe not this day.

The reality of me being able to further utilize these automated abilities is limited, unless I'm willing to invest in the equipment or if Cindy can tolerate me being over at her house all the time :) but I'm glad to know how they work now and know that it is an option.


As to my sewing machines, they're far from gathering dust! I'm playing with making my own underwear, inspired by Amy from Cloth Habit. The idea was sparked from my desire to live a handmade life. Thus, now when I'm in need of a certain material possession, I try to figure out if I can make it first before I go shopping. Not to mention, I see all the scrap fabric that accrues at my 9-to-5 and we've been looking for ways to use as much as we can and throw little away. Amy provides a FREE pattern for this panty (I only customized it slightly with those diagonal seams. That was to cater to the scraps that I was working with) and this has got to be the best style of underwear anyway, so no need to improve upon it!

Finding much needed time outside with my boo thang at the frisbee golf park :)

Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading!!