Interview with designer Rayna Curtis Fegan

Petty Harbour socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Petty Harbour socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Signal Hill socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Signal Hill socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month, when my Mirror socks were published, there was another sock pattern that gained a lot of attention, too.  The Petty Harbour socks were designed by Rayna Curtis Fegan of First Light Handcrafts. I follow her blog and have chatted with her online on several instances. She is a joy to talk to, and when she agreed to an interview with me, I was delighted.

So, let’s start!

Who taught you how to knit?

I have vivid memories of both of my grandmothers knitting when I was a child, so between them I learned. I can never quite recall which one put the first set of needles in my hands. I do remember the first thing I ever knit, though–a blanket for my doll in white Phentex yarn that ended up twice as wide at the end as at the beginning.

That’s quite a legacy! What is your favorite project to knit, and when did you knit your first one?

Socks! I love knitting socks. When I picked up knitting in earnest again four years ago, my mind boggled that someone would spend all that time and money to knit something that went on your feet. I believe my exact words were “That’s just crazy!” Then a few months later, I took a class from Kate Atherley at my LYS and I was totally hooked. I have knit about thirty pairs since then.

Do you have a favorite design that you could knit forever?

Hmm … Well, I knit a lot of simple socks; I have knit Hermione’s Everyday Socks five times in less than two years. But I am madly in love with Wendy Johnson‘s Rhossili Beach Watch Cap. I have knit that three times and would have made myself more if I didn’t look like such a dork in hats. And I love No Purl Monkeys. I have an unnatural aversion to purling.

Yeah, purling isn’t the funnest stitch for me, either. What knitting techniques do you want to learn in the future, though?

Technique-wise, I think the next thing I actually want to learn is stranded colourwork/fair isle, but I keep putting it off. There are just so many other things to do that it gets pushed off to the back burner. I am not really a process knitter, so unless I actually really like the result, I am not likely to learn it just for the sake of being able to say it’s a skill I possess.

I love your Petty Harbour and Signal Hill socks. Can you give us a short (and maybe mysterious) description of your next design?

It’s another sock design that is inspired by my home province, this time a fingering weight lace one!  But it will have to wait for a month or so now!

Well, we all will be looking forward to it! What does the design process look for you most of the time? Do you have a particular person or thing that inspires you?

Thank you! As for the design process, my first two designs were things that I just knit for two specific people, and then wrote up afterwards. Signal Hill is the first one that I actually set out to design, following a more traditional process.
Inspiration for me comes from lots of places. I am a huge fan of stitch pattern books of all kinds; I got my very first Japanese stitch dictionary this summer. I also take inspiration from some of the designers I know, either online or in real life here in Toronto. Signal Hill was inspired by Glenna C, but I’d say my biggest overall design influence from a person standpoint would have to be Kate Atherley. She creates clear patterns for classic designs that produce lovely results. I took her pattern-writing class at my LYS in July, and it was invaluable!

Where do you hope to go with designing in the future?

I don’t really have a long term vision of where I’d like my designing to go. It’s really just something I started for fun. I have plans for more designs, of course–I just need to find the time to execute them all. I work a regular job and I have other hobbies I’d like to work on (spinning and dyeing being the two that come to mind), so the time I devote to designing is somewhat limited. I think for now, I’ll just take it as it comes!

As a spinner, do you look at commercially-made yarn from a different perspective?

I am really still a newbie spinner. In fact I have really only been spinning in earnest since May, even though I have had my wheel a fair bit longer.

I still love all my commercial yarns, sock yarns especially, because I am nowhere near the point where I can spin the yarn I want. Right now I just spin and then later, decide what to do with the yarn I produce. Right now, commercial (usually indie/hand-dyed) yarns are definitely still my staple.

So, do you hope to branch out into not only designing knitting patterns, but also yarns?

I would actually love to start dyeing my own yarns. I have done some experimenting with acid dyes, and undyed fibres and yarns, but I live in fear of “ruining” them, so I am sometimes not as adventurous as I’d like to be. I need to get over that and just go for it!
A lot of what I have done to date has been kettle dyeing (where you just mix up the dye and just immerse the fibre). I’d love to take a class in handpainting yarns, like the Stained Fingers Dye Camp that a local independent dyer, indigodragonfly, offers in the summer here in Ontario. That’s the sort of method that allows for all the amazing variegated yarns you see from indie dyers.

We’re almost done here, and I just wanted to ask you: What would you consider to be the most valuable knitting book out there?

I don’t have a favourite book, per se.  I love my stitch dictionaries; I have two from Vogue and one of the Barbara Walker treasuries.  I think pattern books are highly individual, depending on what sorts of things you knit, so it’s hard to recommend just one!

Okay, last question. If you didn’t knit, what would you think you’d be doing with your life at this point?

If I didn’t knit, I have no idea what I’d be doing.  Mostly because a large chunk of my community is knitting related, and one of my best friends, who has shown me polymer clay and jewelry making and such, would not be in my life at all.  My sister-in-law taught me beading, so perhaps I’d be doing more of that.  Or maybe I would just be WAY further ahead on my “To Read” list ;-)

Thanks so much Rayna for letting me interview you!

 

Rayna Curtis Fegan is a knitter, spinner, designer, and software reporting specialist.

She was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, and will be returning home soon, but for now lives in Toronto with her husband, and her rescue dog, Kayleigh.
You can follow her on TwitterRavelry, and Pinterest.

Review: The Safe Lands trilogy

Captives, book 1Outcasts, book 2Rebels, book 3

 

 

 

 

 

Publisher: Zondervan

A few weeks ago, my friend Jill Williamson released the last book in her first dystopian trilogy: The Safe Lands. She asked me to review it for her, and so I am, although I really should have written it when the book first came out. :)

The books follow three brothers living in a village in post-apocalyptic, plague-ravaged North America: Levi (the oldest; a hunter), Mason (a doctor), and Omar (an artist). Omar is a loner–he feels like he can’t fit in, and he doesn’t think that anyone likes him. In the first book, Captives, he gives his whole village to the Safe Lands (a enormous, walled city that harbours victims of the thin plague), in exchange for a title and money in the Safe Lands, where he thinks he will be safe and able to fit in.

Unfortunately, his plans don’t exactly work out. The villagers fight back when the Safe Lands officials come to take them away. The men of the village are killed and the women are taken to a pregnancy and birthing center; the Safe Lands are hoping that the uninfected villagers will birth uninfected children for them.

The first book follows the brothers around as Levi tries to find a way to escape, Mason makes a rash deal that he will find a cure for the thin plague, and Omar goes from happy to lonelier than he ever was before in the village.

And if I tell you anything else about the trilogy, I’ll end up giving you way too many spoilers.

If you like YA fiction, you’ll probably like this trilogy; just have the third book handy when you finish the second one, because it ends with a huge cliffhanger!

Thank you, Jill for writing really good books and giving me really good advice on writing and publishing. :)

 

And I’ll be back next week with an interview from a really talented designer, Rayna Curtis Fegan, so stay tuned!

New Yarn and Finished Socks

This week (knitting-wise) two things happened. Good news first.

I just received my first skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in colour SporesDelicious, eh?

I’ll use it for my next design, which I hope to have completed soon, so stay tuned.

Next: the good but not-so-good news.

I finished my first pair of colourwork socks. (The Ravelry project page is here.)

One turned out really good!

Sneaky Argyle socks by Wendy D Johnson

The other one … Well, I’ve been working on them on and off since February, so I really don’t want to take it out.

Sneaky Argyle socks

So now I’m going to be all depressed and everything until I rip my whole sock out. (Take a look at that cuff. It starts out large and gets smaller all the way down. :/ I need more practise.)

Sneaky Argyle socksIMG_1774

But I’m pretty happy with the first sock!

 Sneaky Argyle socks

And, let’s face it: Good yarn makes poorly-made socks a whole lot tolerable!

Sneaky Argyle socks with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

Now, you colourwork knitters are probably shaking your heads in disgust wondering what is it that’s wrong with me. I’m sorry. Colourwork is not my strong suite. But these socks will not be the end of my more-than-one-color endeavors! I’ve got my eye on a cardigan (which is very strange for me to say, because I think that all things that resemble sweaters are over-rated) that has a colourwork yoke …

#SherlockLives Cardi by Professor Fonz

So, if you more talented colourwork knitters would give me as many tips as you think I could possibly use, that would be greatly appreciated.

Allons-y!

J

Welcome to the Dark Side …

Welcome to the Dark Side ...I can just imagine a villain knitting … Moriarty? Hmm. I think Loki would be a better knitter than Moriarty. :)

Thank You

The Ravelry Socks' "Hot Right Now" listLast week, my Mirror socks were published in Knitty. I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on them, and I just wanted to take a post and say thanks. As you can see in the picture up there, they hit number one on Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” on not only one, but two separate occasions. Since it’s been published on Ravelry, it’s gotten 546 likes, it’s in 267 queues, and currently 4 people are making it.

Thank you all for getting the pattern this big!

Josiah

Knitty: Mirror sock

Mirror Socks by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey
Mirror Socks by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey

Today my Mirror sock pattern was released in Knitty for the Deep Fall issue. I’m super excited (to say the least). This is my first “official” pattern, and I know that it won’t be the last. So, Mirror. The socks were inspired by the song, Mirror, by Ellie Goulding, from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. I’m a big Ellie fan, and although the song wasn’t as deep as most of her other music, this created the spark (sorry, that Hunger Games pun was really not intended!) that created the socks. Here’s the blurb from the beginning of the Knitty pattern:

Most of my sock-designing inspiration comes from certain songs that I really like. This one is no different. Inspired from the song Mirror by Ellie Goulding (from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack), these socks are, surprisingly, mirror images.

When I started knitting these I had some second thoughts, because they’re so asymmetrical and it looked a little awkward. But as it grew, and I started to get a feel for the pattern and placement, I suddenly realized that what this sock needed was its other half. We are not complete without our reflections, right?

Along the insides of the socks is a strip of garter stitch. There is a surprising lack of socks with this versatile stitch, so I decided to remedy it. With garter stitch as my base, I knew I wanted something lace to go with it, partially because I needed practice designing it, and also because garter and lace look so nice together. Even with those two things down and ready, I still needed something to fill the outside edges with. At first I shoved twisted traveling stitches out of my mind; I do way too many of them and I had decided to take a little of a break; but without my mind, I sort of snuck them in there somehow. I didn’t have much debate as what I was to do with the gusset. The Cat Bordhi sockitecture just fit in this design, and it looks quite nice slipped under the foot.

What you see here doesn’t have to be what your sock looks like, though. Mix things up a bit: shift the columns, work the single knit stitch up the instep through the back loop to add another layer of sophistication, or add a purl column instead of having the garter stitch collide with the lace panel; the possibilities are yours to explore.

And I have to say something about the model: Thanks Miss Juliet Poe, my sister (Miss Juliet Poe’s Emporium), for twisting your feet into precarious positions while I snap away! I greatly appreciate it!

Thank you to my fellow bloggers for your support with the blog!

J

Fair Items …

Last week was our small town’s county fair. My family usually enters several things each year; this year was no exception. I’ve been really busy this past year, so putting things together for the fair was kind of a pull-some-pretty-things-out-of-the-drawer-and-hope-they-get-ribbons thing.

Well, it worked!

I only entered four things this year, but all of them got ribbons. So; I was–am–happy.

I do know how to crochet. Last year, I was obsessing over crocheting amigurumi monsters. Here is Lulu, one of the products of that craze.

Lulu the Monster
Lulu the Monster

Then, this year (At least … I think …), I made a Doctor Who amigurumi: An Ood. The Translator Device fell off (Hey; I’ve got small siblings!), but other than that, it’s intact. I was going for a weird, mime-type look for this creature (that description will have to do–I’m not sure which words I’m looking for in this case), and I think I succeeded. It doesn’t have any eyes on purpose. And he does have a body! In this picture, it’s just hard to see, because his tentacles are in the way.

The Odd Ood
The Odd Ood

And, of course I entered socks! Here is a familiar looking sock … Daydreamer.

Daydreamer by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey
Daydreamer by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey

And, last but obviously not least, here is a pair of socks I made for my mom, Pointelle by Cookie A. And, as you can see, they won BEST OF CLASS! Yay!

Pointelle by Cookie A
Pointelle by Cookie A

I’ve now got a few extra ribbons, and a coupon for my favorite frozen yogurt shop!

^_^

-J

Brother

josiah_bain:

This was written for me by my sister on her blog. Thanks, sis!

Originally posted on Miss Juliet Poe's Emporium:

you asked me why I haven’t written a poem for you
…no excuse
well, one, or rather, a few:

you are like a knitted cable
Cascading & Whorling
around in a concrete way like dots on a tv screen when
the vcr and dvd player combo are off but the tv is on, still playing dots:
black & white & grey
(stable and steady in their flickering
like stars in the sky
when its past bedtime camping
outside, but they’re begging
“wish on me, wish on me”
so you do, ‘cause that’s why stars are there)
and you’re like that.
always there, in your small needed necessary way
a cog in the clockwork of an ordinary young woman’s life
(without you there would be time but no one to spend it with)

Now did I answer your question?

View original

Stash; Or, Every Single Knitter’s Best Nightmare

Stash; Or, Every Knitter's Best Nightmare.
Stash; Or, Every Knitter’s Best Nightmare.

Every single knitter under the sun has a stash. Gasp. I mean, that’s a real lightbulb moment. Before I get started, let’s define our terms.

Knitter: Helpless, innocent individuals who witlessly collect yarn, and then never get around to using it.

Stash: The growing monster that’s under knitters’ (see above) beds. The good thing is, they’ve made friends with it.

Yarn Store: Establishments (either online, brick and mortar, or both) that are the same to knitters as casinos are to gamblers: a black hole. (Thankfully, yarn stores are much, much more wholesome than casinos.)

Luckily, we can all take control of out stashes (see above). Here are my five easy steps to getting a life again.

          1. Do little else but knit. Then, you may be able to shrink your stash faster than you grow it. (Be warned, though: due to the same, repetitive motion that knitting sometimes brings, you may end up developing carpal tunnel.)

          2. Stop buying yarn. (Yeah, right.)

          3. Give your yarn away to less fortunate knitter. (This can be hard to do. In some circumstances, knitters have an emotional connection to their fiber, making it difficult to part with.)

          4. Enlist the help of friends to knit baby blankets with all of your yarn. This does have a few problems, though. As stated above, knitters dislike having to part with their yarn, and you may end up having no more charities to donate to after they realize that the last dozen you sent was the 50th dozen you’ve sent to them in 50 consecutive weeks. They also start being suspicious after they have received warnings from other charities warning them about some strange individual who has been sending in so many blankets, they’ve dubbed them the “Blanket Litterer.”

          5. The final point is the most reasonable one. Just let your stash grow until all of your family moves out in the yard, because you always snap at them when they touch your yarn, and now, they can’t be inside at all without you screaming at them. Soon though, your yarn will be out in the yard and you’ll lose your family. Anything for your yarn, right? Like I said, knitters are susceptible.

I think that the best thing for knitters is hermitage.

:)

News!

Miss Juliet Poe's Emporium
News | The Sock Monkey

Hello everyone!

I’ve got two pieces of news this week: First, my older sister, Kay-Leigh Bain (or her steampunk cosplay alter-ego, Miss Juliet Poe) is now on the blogosphere! You can find her at her blog, Miss Juliet Poe’s Emporium, or if you’re on Pinterest, you can visit her profile here. Her blog is mainly a writing blog, with some of her photography mixed in with her posts. She’s a poet, and is currently posting some of her poetry to her blog.
Check it out! She’s got a pretty complex brain that shows in her writing.

The other piece of news is more about me. Your humble blogger here is finally getting published in a knitting magazine! I wish I could post a picture of the socks whose pattern is getting published, but, sadly, you will just have to wait. My pattern, Mirror, will be in this year’s Deep Fall issue of Knitty—it goes live in September, and I just can’t wait!

Well, that’s about it right now. I hope you all have a great rest-of-the-week, and I will let you know when the pattern’s issue goes live!

-Josiah