Tools of the trade and a sneak peek!

Yesterday I sat down in the afternoon to work on some designing.  I have to sit somewhere that I can spread out, so I was at the table.  I got to work for an hour or so and then the baby woke up from her nap and started crying.  When I got up to go take care of her, I moved all of my stuff to the kitchen counter so that my other kiddos wouldn't get into anything.  When I set everything down I thought, "that's a very nice pictoral representation of the 'tools of the trade.'"  So, I grabbed the camera and snapped a picture.  When I work on something I always have a tape measure, pencil, eraser, notepad, graph paper, sketches and other notes, a calculator, my crochet hook case, and of course yarn and a hook.  I often have a stitch dictionary with me as well, which is what is under my yarn in this picture.  Under that is one of my project bags.  I'm sure that other designers use other or different tools, and I know that mine will be added to or changed over time.  For instance, I plan to purchase some software soon that I will use for generating the flat pattern pieces that I need to determine the shapes of the pieces that I need.  This will be a GREAT tool to have.  It is definitely true that you can't design crocheted garments without knowing what shape the pieces have to be.  Unless you are an educated pattern drafter, you have to get this information from somewhere.  You can use sewing patterns to get this information.  You can also use articles of clothing to copy from.  I don't want to have to buy and sort through lots of sewing patterns or clothing items though to get this information.  I've considered two other options.  There is a system and set of sewing patterns called The Lutterloh System that has tiny schematics of the needed pieces all on small pages in a binder that you can "explode" to the right size with the use of a special tape measure.  This would allow for easier access and sorting through, but still requires lots of tracing.  I'd be looking at spending about $150 to get that.  I've also read about a software program called "Garment Designer" from a company called Cochenille that can print off pattern pieces for you in the sizes you want.  You can select from many design options and even manipulate the shapes on the computer before printing.  This costs $199, but I think it will be easier to use and much more flexible.  So, I hope to buy that in a few more months, once I finish my next paying project, which is a set of cardigans for a friend's daughters.  I'll show a pic here when I'm done with those. 

Well, the sneak peek here is one I mentioned a few days ago.  This is not a magazine project; this one will go in my personal pattern line which is available on both etsy and ravelry.  So far I only have my "Sweet Little Mittens" pattern there, but this one will be next when I get it finished.

Well, until next time, have a cheery day everyone!



Ravelry Pattern Store Beginning

Well, I've decided that I am no longer going to sell finished items, so I've self-published my "Sweet Little Mittens" pattern and put a .pdf in my new Ravelry pattern store.  It's already been favorited twice, and queued once.  That's exciting to me.  I'm glad that people like it.  I'm already working on the next pattern to go in my store.  I hope to have a sneak peek up in the next few weeks.

I have made these mittens from a large variety of yarns, but in writing a pattern I had to settle on just one yarn to write it in.  I chose Mission Falls 1824 Wool.  It is a soft 100% Superwash that is a heavy worsted.  It comes in a large variety of colors, though not really in typical baby colors.  I kind of like being able to make things for kids in more sophisticated colors, myself.  However a person could easily substitute a different heavy worsted and make sure to check gauge and adjust hook size if necessary.  Only 1 skein of the main color is needed for any size, and about 12 yd is all that's needed for the buttons, so you could just use a scrap that you already have in your stash and make this a 1 skein project.  I bought this color "Cornflower" at the The Gourmet Yarn Co. store in Oklahoma City and payed aroung $6.50 for it, so that's a pretty good price for a nice pair of mittens.  I am selling the pattern for $1.50.

Also this last week, I sent in another magazine submission.  This time I am submitting two pattern ideas.  I am not actually hoping to make them both, because I'm not sure I would have the time.  My reason for sending two is to increase my chances of getting one published.  Interestingly, just submitting a truly good idea doesn't always guarantee that you get published.  For instance, I submitted a truly awesome design idea for this Summer's issue, if I do say so myself.  Until a few days ago I had not received any response on it.  I emailed the Associate Editor, Toni Rexroat, to ask her about it.  I got an email a few days ago letting me know that they were not going to be using it in the Summer issue, which I had already gathered because of the timing.  However, they had really liked it, so they held it for consideration for another issue.  Sometimes really good design ideas don't get published because they just don't fit well with the other patterns that are going into the issue, however they will not be using it for that either.  They try to find a few different themes to go with among all of the submissions they get.  So, by sending two different ideas, it better insures that one of my ideas will fit in.

Well, until next time, have a cheery day everyone!



Question answered

princessmomma wrote to me yesterday:  "I would love to hear more about your creation process. Like, how do you decide what to work on next, or what stitches to use?"

Well, some of the ideas I've had of what to make are just things I came up with because I thought they would look nice.  I sometimes see something that someone is wearing that I think I could recreate in crochet.  When magazine editors want designs from freelancers they make what's called an editorial calendar that states, if any, what they would like the designs to be like or include.  For instance, the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet is going to have a focus on crocheted cables.  Not all of the designs in this issue will contain cables, but probably 6 or 7 will.  So, if I am designing for a magazine then I might try to include that/those elements in my desgin.

As for the yarn and stitch to use--Well, as in the picture above I bought three varieties of yarn that I thought might work well for a project I had in mind.  Then I looked through a stitch dictionary to find something like what I had in mind, and started swatching.  I eventually settled on a stitch and a yarn that I thought fit this particular project best.  Stitch dictionaries can be a great resource to give you ideas for the stitch.  You have to think about how open or dense you want the fabric for this item and then go for stitches that will give you that amount of openness, drape, etc.  Whether to choose one lace stitch over another is really just a matter of preference.  When you are making something that you don't want to have to line or wear over something else then smaller and fewer holes is most desireable, so you come up with more dense stitch patterns.  I like to choose something that is a little more interesting to work on than rows and rows, or rounds and rounds of sc.  You also have to take drape into consideration when choosing a stitch.  Drape could be illustrated like this -- If I take a swatch and hang it over a rod what does it do?  If it stays flat like a plate and holds it's shape then it is very stiff and has no drape.  If it flops over the rod and hangs and even stretches it's length, then it has maximum drape.  Some of the items a person crochets need drape and some don't.  Some would be ruined by drape and vice versa.  A close fit, stretchy top would not work in a very stiff fabric, and a hat that needs to have some shape to it does not work well with lots of drape.  Typically, a more dense stitch has less drape, though that can be altered by using a larger hook.  Lacy stitches are always drapey because they have holes in and between them.  So, in short, much of it is about preference, but you also take into consideration the function of the item.  Sometimes I get really creative and make my own stitch pattern, but I haven't delved into that much yet.

Thanks for your question!

Also, I finished my next submission swatch last night.  I'll need to do a little bit of paperwork for it and then mail it in.  I'm glad that's done, now back to another project.

Have a cheery day everyone!



Super Secret Code Names

Well friends, family, and fans since I have begun my time as a published crocet designer, and it is apparent that there will be people I've never met following my blog, I just wanted to say that I'll be using "code names" for my family members.  Most likely everyone who looks at my blog will be a terrific person, but since we never know for sure about these things, I'll be referring to my hubby as "Mr. AC" (AC stands for AprilCreates), my oldest will be "Drama Queen", my second daughter will be "Princess", my third daughter will be "Hopper", and my youngest will be "Baby".  This feels a little silly to me, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  Now since most of my current followers know me personally, please try to refrain from using their real names if/when you make comments, otherwise I won't publish them.

As for crocheting today, I finished a few more rows of they swatch I wrote about earlier today, and it is looking pretty good.  If only I could work on it more after the kids are in bed..., but I've got to tackle the dishes instead. :( 

Have a cheery day!


Celebration and Graph Paper

My sweet husband, Mr. AC, brought me some beautiful yellow lillies to celebrate getting published.  He is so sweet, and encouraging.  We went to Chili's Saturday evening for drinks (the non-alcoholic kind) and an appetizer as well.  Yay for me!

I am beginning another magazine submission.  I had an idea early last week.  I drew a little and started swatching.  I had to tare out the second row several times to get it just right.  Then about 7 rows into it I decided I really didn't like the center design element, so I started brainstorming and drawing some more.  I started again with a different yarn that I thought might look a little better.  A couple rows into it I had a flash of inspiration that would make it even better, so I drew some more.  Then I decided that I needed more paper to draw out a larger section of it.  So, with 6 sheets of graph paper all taped together, I drew out the design.  I went to bed around midnight that night with very little effective crocheting done, but with one great pattern to start on the next day.  Since kids keep me so busy, I'm still only on row 4 I think, but hopefully, it will be done in time to send in in a few weeks.

I see that 2 new followers have joined us.  I'm glad you're here!  Don't be afraid to speak up and join in the conversation anyone.  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a cheery day all!



Magazine arrived today!

Well, I got my subscription copy of Interweave Crochet Spring 2010 today!  I think the pictures looked even better printed in the mag than they did online.  They included a short blurb about me at the end of the pattern that includes my blog address and Etsy store URL.  I should note that I have not been doing a lot in my store of late because I can hardly find time to do more than a few hours of crocheting each week.  As my baby gets a little older and more independent I'll be doing more with that, but I'm thinking that I'll probably shift more toward just selling self-published designs there rather than finished items.

As an intro to the pattern the wrote a few things about the pattern, with a slight typo.  This intro says that the dress size ranges from 6 months to 3T, but the smallest size is actually 3 months, and yes, it does work up quickly.  I personally am planning to make a 12 month size dress for my own baby in the same yarn, but the color "Cherry Blossom." 

This yarn is great!  It is nice and soft, not too splitty, machine washable, and very affordable.  You have to order it from http://www.lionbrand.com/, unless you are fortunate enough to live near their yarn studio. 

Also, on page 9 of the magazine the "back to basics" section focuses on sewing stitches and mentions some of the stitches used in the "Bella Dress."  I hope you all enjoy seeing it and making it!  I'm hopeful that I might see some new followers who find my blog address after my pattern.  If you are new to my blog for that very reason, Welcome!!!  I'm so glad you're here!

Until next time everyone!


Bella Dress from Spring 2010 Interweave Crochet Revealed!

Well, at long last, here is the revealed "Bella Dress" from the Spring 2010 Issue of Interweave Crochet that I designed.  Click here to see the supply list for the issue and a couple of extra pictures.  A matching headband for this little girl might have been nice, but otherwise the pictures are nice.  I'm very pleased to finally see them.  Can't wait to get my issue in the mail!


Anxiously Waiting!

I'm going crazy! 

The preview for the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet should be up on the website within the next few weeks.  I've been checking the website about 10 times a day.  Yes, this is ridiculous, and a seriously awful waste of time, but I just can't seem to help myself.  I am so excited to see the pictures of my dress.  So, this is not revealing any pictures or significant details about the pattern of mine that is in this magazine, but here is just a teaser.  If you click here, it will take you to Interweave's online store where you can pre-order this issue.  A picture of the cover is at the top of the page and is also shown at the top of my post.  Note that the item on the cover is not one of mine.  If you scroll down you can see the table of contents.  On the right hand side you can see that on page 74 is a pattern called "Bella Dress" with my name "April Garwood" next to it.  Their brief description is "Fabric-lined dress is perfectly sweet for smaller girls."  Well, that's a little something to be excited about.  Atleast my name is printed there.  Be assured that I will post here the moment the preview is up with a link to the supply list which will show a picture of the dress.  You can buy it on newsstands on the 30th of March, including at Barnes & Noble, which is where I have purchased previous issues.

Until then, try not to be as crazy as me... :p


Adopt a Designer

I follow the blog of crochet designer Robyn Chachula, who is the first designer to have really inspired me to begin designing myself.  She doesn't know me, and I have never met her, but I have admired her designs in my two favorite magazines: Interweave Crochet and Crochet Today.  I have also been following her blog for quite awhile. 

Just recently she found a case of someone stealing her work by posting free copies of one of her patterns for all of her friends through her blog.  This is a violation of copyright laws and is hurtful to the designer who makes very little money for her time.  So, she had a great idea!  Instead of getting angry she is encouraging all crafters to "Adopt A Designer."  Here are her suggestions for how to adopt a designer:

"1. Buy a pattern from your favorite designer. Most patterns are just a few dollars, so the commitment is really minimal. Then don't forget to tell your friends where they can buy the pattern too.

2. Tweet/ Facebook about a project you are making and include a link to the designers website. Designers have to take like to promote themselves, so taking a minute to tweet for them can really help.

3. Write a review of one of your favorite craft books including a link to the designer's website and where to buy the book. Even though some designers do not get royalties on their books, by including a link to their website will help them with advertising that they could greatly use.

4. Buy a piece of artwork or jewelry from them on Etsy then tweet or blog about it. A number of really talented designers are over on Etsy and just taking the time to tell them you care can go a mile.

5. Talk them up at your local yarn store or crochet group. Most designers sell their patterns to yarn stores too, so just by telling your LYS that you love them can really help. LYS owners are super busy people too and do not have time to hunt down new (or new to them) designers, so you are helping both.

6. Take a class. A lot of designers teach online and off. Teaching is a real help to their income, so go a ahead. Plus you get to learn something new, and who doesn't like that."

Well, I am adopting Robyn Chachula by telling you what an amazing designer she is.  I wish I had a picture to post of one of her patterns.  However, you can click here to see one of my favorites of hers from a recent issue of Interweave Crochet magazine, and click here to get to an e-store where you can buy her book "Blueprint Crochet."  Who will you adopt as your designer?