Blog Week: Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder

Today's featured blogger for blog week is a blog that I often go to and just cruise around regardless of new material or not. I love Carrie's aesthetic and find her whole style very inspirational so I hope you do too!

Carrie is the blogger and designer at maddermade.com

Carrie is the blogger and designer at maddermade.com

"My name is Carrie Bostick Hoge and my blog is Madder. (maddermade.com) I first started blogging sometime in 2006 under the name Fort Nest. It was a way to document my home and work life. Then, in 2008, I started Swatch Diaries blog so that my knitwear would have a home of its own. There I enjoyed swatching with new yarns, exploring stitches, finding inspiration, and presenting my knitwear designs. Madder blog is a continuation of Swatch Diaires, a place where I focus on my knitting. 

Carrie's blog is a progression from her original blog, the Swatch Diaries

Carrie's blog is a progression from her original blog, the Swatch Diaries

The content on my blog is usually very focused on my knitting design process (images of yarn, swatches, fabrics) and then the finished results. I also love fabric and sewing, so I enjoy posting about garments I’ve sewn or fabric I’ve printed or purchased. I like to keep the content work related, but occasionally I share about inspiring places I have visited. And even more occasionally, I include photos of my children and blog about something personal. 

inspirational details from Maddermade

inspirational details from Maddermade

Blogging has taught me that there are amazing knitters/crafters out there who share my passion for yarn and textiley goodness. The blog also continually helps to keep me on track and focused. 

piles of knits at maddermade

piles of knits at maddermade

I find inspiration in nature, travel (hopefully I’ll get to do this again someday!), other artists and designers, and my children."

Blog Week: Susan B Anderson

Here is the first blogger for this week's Blog Love palooza! Susan B Anderson is a knitter and writer whose work I have enjoyed for years. She was one of the first bloggers I discovered and introduced me to a very slippery slope indeed! 

Tune in tomorrow for another inspiring blogger and if you want to join the conversation, you can use the hashtag #loveyourblog for #aninspired2015. I hope you'll enjoy reading this answer from Susan as much as I did!

Susan B Anderson is today's featured blogger to help us Love Our Blogs

Susan B Anderson is today's featured blogger to help us Love Our Blogs

"As far as the knitting stuff goes I have been knitting for just over 30 years. I am self-taught. I started seriously designing about 18 years ago. My first love is my blog. I have been blogging for close to 10 years now at www.susanbanderson.blogspot.com.  I have written 5 books with my publisher, Artisan Books, and they are:

Itty-Bitty Hats, Itty-Bitty Nursery, Itty-Bitty Toys, Spud & Chloe at the Farm, and Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys . 

I am working on my 6th book currently that is to be released in the winter of 2015. I have had patterns in magazines such as Parents, Knit Simple, Interweave and the Noro magazine, amongst others.  I also do designing for independent companies like Little Skein, Infinite Twist, and Quince & Co. for example.

I love to teach knitting and I teach workshops all over the U.S. and beyond through Vogue Knitting Live, various retreats, yarn shops and other events. It is one of my favourite parts of my job.  I travel to teach almost every month of the year.

Pattern:  Sweet Sheep  by Susan B Anderson

Pattern: Sweet Sheep by Susan B Anderson

I have two Craftsy.com online workshops [affiliate links]: The Not-So-Itty-Bitty Giraffe class and the Wee Ones class.I have recently been added to Alana Dakos list of designers for her NNK Press publications. NNK Press sells beautifully printed pattern lines to yarn shops worldwide. [You can read more about them here].

On a more personal note, I live in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Madison is a beautiful little city in the heart of the Midwest. I have a husband and 4 children that have grown up quickly, two are in college, one has graduated college and my youngest is still in high school. We have a busy home with lots of activity and kids constantly in and out. It keeps us jumping. I am an avid outdoors-person. I love running, hiking, and biking and I love taking long walks through our many nature conservancies and state parks. I also love to read, sew, embroider, cook, bake and garden. 

The  Prairie Ridge Shawl  by Susan B Anderson

The Prairie Ridge Shawl by Susan B Anderson

I started blogging after I published my first book in 2006. I went on a book tour and people kept asking how they could stay in touch or find out what I was working on next. I decided when I got home from the tour to start my blog and I have been going strong ever since. My reasons for blogging have not changed much through the years. My blog is a place where I can be myself, write about what I like, share ideas, host giveaways, and stay in touch with knitters all over the world. 

I blog about what I love and what I feel passionate about. I never run out of ideas, in fact just the opposite is true. I have lists of things I want to blog about and I can never seem to catch up. I review and give away loads of products, books, and yarn on my blog. I pick and choose carefully what to promote and write about. It has to be things that I really love. I also just write about what I’m up to, my family, nature, but mainly I write about knitting and everything that surrounds knitting. 
Susan has really developed her voice as a knitting blogger

Susan has really developed her voice as a knitting blogger

I have learned so much through blogging. Most importantly, I have learned that I love to write in an environment that is truly mine. My blog feels like home to me. It is a place where I can express myself and talk about things that are important to me. It is a place that is always positive and happy and comfortable.

Susan is the original inspiration for Operation Sock Drawer!

Susan is the original inspiration for Operation Sock Drawer!

I find inspiration through my family members, nature, children’s literature, artwork, illustrations, photography, ceramics, online, from other designers and knitters. The list is really endless. I am always amazed at what people come up with in knitting and design and I aspire to keep designing and contributing and improving with time."

Developing Your Creative Business with Alana Dakos

Once you've worked so hard to establish your craft business, created a product line and decided what your brand represents, taking things to whole new level can be daunting. I've covered topics from finding support for setting up your own businessonline marketing and I've interviewed several designers about their process. Today on the blog, I've invited Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting to give her insights into developing further and she's sharing her top tips for business development in the knitting industry. 

Alana wearing her own design ' Seedling '

Alana wearing her own design 'Seedling'

What motivated you to add distributing into your business?
"Our first self published book, Coastal Knits (co-authored with Hannah Fettig in 2011) opened up our eyes to the world of distribution. To our surprise, we were literally inundated with orders. Our first print run was gone within the first few weeks. I was 9 months pregnant at the time and we worked 12 hour days for weeks with the help of our family and friends to ship out all of the books to knitters around the world. Even after I had my son, my husband had to leave us at the hospital to ship more books! :) It was a crazy time. That experience taught us so much and we had to learn a lot quickly about efficiently shipping out multiple orders. We developed a system and really got it down to a science. When I released my next two books, we had it down and it was much less stressful. Since we had all of our systems in place, we felt that we could expand our business to begin distributing for other designers as well. It has worked out great! :)  I love to be able to offer really high quality patterns and books to shop owners. I feel like I am helping to support my fellow self-published designers and make their special products available to stores and in turn knitters."

NNK press products

With designing and publishing, your days must be really busy. What helps keep things together on a day to day level?

"I have to stay very regimented and organized. Fortunately I have the help of my husband who is employed by NNK Press and an assistant. Without them I would be in big trouble! :) I make lots of list. I never procrastinate and I keep up on tasks (like returning emails) on a daily basis. I try to follow the motto to "not put off til tomorrow what can be accomplished today".

NNK Press single pattern products


Running a multifaceted business must take a lot of planning. How do you go about looking at your long term goals and how to achieve them? 

"My end goal has always been running a successful business that supports us as a family. I am very happy with what we have accomplished so far with NNK Press. I don't really have specific plans for expansion in the future. I evaluate every opportunity as it presents itself. "

 


What would be your top 3 tips for people planning to develop their own creative businesses? 

  1. Look for a niche to fill in the creative field of your choice. Is there a product that you could make available to consumers that is fresh, new or not currently readily available? 
  2. Never skimp on quality. Whether you are putting together a promotional flyer, packaging, logo or anything else for your business, do it well. The more professional you are, the more your potential customers will take notice.
  3. Let your enthusiasm for your craft come across in your business. When you are excited about a product, others will be too. 

Focus on Design: Designer Inspirations

After some business support ideas and the dread VAT word on yesterday's Design Week blog post, I wanted to share some more designer inspirations. Today's insight comes courtesy of a very clever designer friend of mine, Kari- Helene. 

Kari-Helene is one half of Purl Alpaca Designs, a field-to-fashion company producing 100% pure British alpaca yarn and beautiful patterns to knit them up in. With Tracy, her business partner, Kari-Helene has taken her background in fashion and textiles and created a company that creates really beautiful (and soft) knitting kits, yarns and patterns. 

Adie hat  by Kari-Helene

Adie hat by Kari-Helene

What inspires you to design?

"This is a tricky one to answer. It can be so many things! A fabulous costume drama on tv, a great knitted jumper on someone I walk past on the street, a book full of knitting stitches and techniques, but most of all I feel inspired by knitting itself. Time and time again I will sit with my knitting and whilst doing a stitch or a construction something new will pop into my head and I have to draw it in my sketch book before I forget! Sometimes my designing is spontaneous and sometimes it can be a more structured approach where I gather images of a certain era or style and lay them out in front of me before I start drawing. 

What key skills have you developed as a designer?

The most important skill, I think, is the ability to translate a 3D design into a 2D pattern. Thinking about the body as a 3D object and the knitted piece to fit and flatter this can be difficult. Knit can be seen as a very flat way of designing, and traditionally a knitted sweater was just that, a flat front and back with two sleeves. Today knitwear is a lot more sculptural and the possibilities within knitting to create shape and structure without seams are incredibly fun to play with. 

Any tools you can't live without when you design or pattern write?

Good coffee and dark chocolate. Jokes aside, my calculator is my best friend. Doing a degree in design I never thought I'd be using maths so much in my day to day work. I also need pen, paper and my trusted mac. 

L  acey Scarf  by Kai-Helene

Lacey Scarf by Kai-Helene

When it comes to committing designs to paper, how do you start that process?

I always doodle. I have a book with me at all times that I fill with ideas that pop into my head at the most random times, on the bus, in a cafe or in the van on the way to a knitting show (not whilst driving of course, Tracy looks after that part!). Then one day when I have the "right feeling" I'll get my pencils and paper out, put all my inspiration in front of me and start drawing. I always draw ten times as many sketches as I end up turning into final designs, but that's just how it goes! 

What advice would you give designers developing their design and pattern writing skills?

Don't be afraid of giving it a go! Everyone can draw. Many grown ups are scared of drawing as they might not have drawn since they were little, but it's all about giving it a go. Use a template of the human body to draw from. I do. It makes drawing so much quicker when I don't have to think about getting the human shape right every time I sketch a new design. When it comes to pattern writing, a good starting point would be to read other people's patterns. Just make sure the ones you read are good patterns and from a well known source!"

Niobe Jumper by Kari-Helene

Niobe Jumper by Kari-Helene

With thanks to Kari-Helene for taking her time to share some insights into her design process. If you're inspired to get designing, please do join us for the Designalong

Tomorrow's blog post is all about swatching, listening and responding. If you're enjoying design week here on the blog, you can catch up with the posts here

A Sweater a Season KAL

Happy New Year! Looking back on my Ravelry notes, it would seem that I am most likely to cast on a sweater in January. It must be something about starting a fresh new year, enough months of cold and enough still to go that I believe I can still knit it in time to wear it. I rarely finish more than one a year but there was a suggestion in the Playful group for a year long sweater KAL that I was convinced by! Will I complete 4 adult sized sweaters? Doubtful. I will, however, have fun!

So in case you've resolved to knit more sweaters in 2015, or wish to join us, I just spent a glorious few days collecting these fab tips and tutorials, all for free, on the internet. Don't you love bloggers who provide such excellent advice? Here's a roundup of some of my fav tips and techniques for getting started with sweater knitting aka how to know it's going to fit!

 

Flax by TinCanKnits (click on image for pattern link)

Flax by TinCanKnits (click on image for pattern link)

TinCanKnits-

I love everything about this duo from their designs to their inspirational newsletters to their tutorials. In this freebie that ties into the free Flax design, they walk you through step by step, how to knit your first sweater. If you've never knit a sweater, especailly one in the round, this would familiarise you will all the jargon and how best to set about tackling those pattern instructions. It's truly brilliant.

 

IndigoDragonFly

A great blog post all about swatching. The fact she measures repeatedly gave me definite food for thought and she has links to some master knitters she learned from too. A great entry point into why swatching is important. 

 

Amy Herzog

Queen of the well fitted, custom made sweater. If there's any class I want to do in 2015, it's Amy's custom fit class. I selected from a few goodies she has for you- sizing. I often feel daunted at the point I choose what size I should knit as I'm almost always between sizes. Amy is showing us how to do it. Fear not. 

 

Ysolda 

On bras, getting measured and getting things right underneath that sweater you've just custom fit to your shape. Ladies, are you wearing the right bra? 

 

Andi modelling Marion (click through link)

Andi modelling Marion (click through link)

Untangling Knots

I adore Andi's blog and have followed it for YEARS. It goes beyond her amazing ability to wear red lipstick without it smudging because this girl can teach you all you need to know about your knitting. The blog post I've chosen to help you get started is understanding ease and she includes information on how to use the schematic in the pattern to work out what's right for you. Brilliant. 

 

So that's how I'm getting started and I just need to cake my yarn and get measuring and swatching! What will you be casting on?

Constant Craving

There is something about the cold snap in the air, twinkle lights and new pattern releases that's got me craving some high quality knitting sessions. It always happens- the leaves turn, they fall, the cold wind cuts through my winter coat and I'm craving chunky knits and the snuggliest of sweaters. 

You can imagine my joy and dismay when I saw the news that one of my beloved dye friends and sponsor!) is updating THIS friday and there's going to be some new bulky weight yarn. I asked for a sneak peek. I shouldn't have....

'Moss'

'Moss'

100 yards of Superwash Merino in a bulky weight dyed by Lisa of NorthBound Knitting. It screams fast knit accessories on Christmas Eve right? It's like Lisa felt my yearning, took one look at my current green phase (seriously, it's out of control, I'm casting on MORE green) and decided to call a siren song from her snowy Canadian abode. I'm there, clicking refresh. Catch me if you can. 

Metallurgy

Metallurgy

(Want the full update details? Friday December the 19th at 11:00am EST. Preview in Lisa's group)

I have also been dreamily watching Veera Valimaki's advent unfold. Have you caught it yet? An inspiring series of patterns from children's accessories and garments through to adult with plenty of free options sprinkled in for good measure. My queue is in overdrive right now. Here's some of my highlights:

' Bear ' by Veera Valimaki

'Bear' by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts  by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts by Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

Talking of queues, the Secret Santa Pattern Palooza is on and I'm having so much fun reading everyone's reasons for queueing vs favouriting and how they use their queue to inspire their knitting. Totally fascinating and even if you're not participating I think you'll enjoy the chat

It also means all those pattern codes are now live for juicy discounts from some of my favourite designers- anything from £5 off to a 25% off running across publications and Ravelry downloads. I feel so lucky to have so many supportive designers on board. Go check it out and buy yourself a little festive treat!