Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Wrapped Up designer Debbie Swartzel and JBW's First Yarn Giveaway!

Do Something Creative Every Day

Those five words are on the wall above my desk reminding me that there’s more to life than groceries and laundry. Cross stitch, sewing, scrapbooking, stamping. These are just a few of the creative hobbies I’ve had and amazingly each of them prepared me for knitting. Cross stitch taught me to have an even tension, sewing an understanding of garment construction; scrapbooking and stamping introduced me to creating my own pleasing visual design with color, texture and placement. I’ve sold my stamps, have a cross stitch piece that’s been hibernating for years and my sewing machine is buried in the basement doomed to begrudgingly make its annual appearance when I can’t come up with a way to avoid it. Scrapbooking-I still scrapbook but it’s all digital today. No fuss, no muss and there are always enough “S” stickers!

In 2003, at the urging of a couple of friends I took the required private lesson and first six week class. I came home from my private lesson able to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off and I was in heaven. I immediately fell needle, yarn and marker for knitting. I just couldn’t put my needles down. My kids quickly tired of me saying, " just let me finish this row".

Fast forward to 2010 and a simple email from a friend: March looks like a long month at school, want to plan a play date? She wanted to take me to visit a yarn store where her good friend worked. Who could resist such an invitation? At Close Knit Knittery (sadly now closed) I met Teri, friend of my friend Deb, and Shari, the store owner. Teri had started designing and knitting felted messenger bags and I was duly impressed and inspired. A couple of years before I had purchased a similar garment to Fall Wrapped Up at a local outlet and I’d had nothing but complements. I searched the internet to no avail, I could not find a pattern for a wrap like the one I so adored. So now with a little inspiration from Teri, and encouragement from Deb, I set off to figure this darn thing out.

The trip to Close Knit Knittery inspired something else: the desire to knit in community. All these years I’d primarily knit at home, in the car (with my husband driving) at dance competitions and soccer tournaments and even a time or two on the beach, but never with other knitters. That same afternoon, I came home and searched for local knitting groups and to my surprise there was a group meeting that night at a coffee shop just a few miles from home and I got up the courage to go. There were just three of us that night but I felt welcomed and immediately enjoyed the company of these other ladies who loved yarn as much as I did and returned regularly through the spring and early summer.

After completing a project with a deadline I immersed myself in developing this pattern. This took some collaboration with some people on Ravelry, reading about various techniques and editing and reediting a chart on Excel. As soon as there was something on paper that seemed like it would work, I cast on. And frogged and cast on again. Thankfully, like childbirth the pain of these false starts faded quickly. My new friends at the coffee shop urged me to submit the pattern on Ravelry or Knitty.com and I started looking into it, downloading a template and reformatting it.

So how does someone from North Carolina come to be a fan of Jimmy Beans Wool? A native Californian, I’ve loved Jimmy Beans Wool since I visited their Truckee, California store with my mom shortly after I started knitting and both of us grieved its loss though a highlight of our last family visit to the Lake Tahoe area was a road trip to Reno to visit the original JBW in person.

About the time I was trying to figure out how to market my pattern, Jimmy Beans sent their June newsletter announcing the Landscape Collection pattern contest. When I saw that announcement, I just knew that this was the venue for my debut pattern so I sent a picture and description of my original which was a light worsted weight and waited to see what might happen. The timing almost made me wait for another time as there wasn’t much time from the announcement until the schematics were due, and I knew that if I was selected as a finalist I’d lose a lot of knitting time as we were leaving on vacation the day after the finalists were to be announced. But every once in a while you just have to go for broke and see what happens. I’m glad I did. We returned from vacation to a box full of beautiful yarn and after working out gauge and adjusting the pattern for this luxurious chunky alpaca yarn I giddily started knitting.

I have to say that I have been honored to have been chosen as a finalist for JBW’s first pattern contest. I pray that I will not be a one shot wonder but will add other designs that knitters will enjoy. One plug for my pattern, all I can say is that no matter how hard we tried the photos really do not do this garment justice. In this case the thousand words may be worth more than the photo. I hope that knitting this will bring you and whoever wears it much pleasure. May you do something creative every day, too!

Bio: Debbie began knitting in 2003 and began modifying patterns almost immediately. Fall Wrapped Up is Debbie’s first original pattern though there are other designs swirling around inside her head waiting patiently for her to find the time to develop them. Debbie lives on the shores of Lake Norman in North Carolina with her husband and two children on the verge of emptying the nest. A preschool director by day, knitting is her refuge, her therapy and her daily creative outlet.

In honor of Debbie's wonderful pattern (which is available free on the Jimmy Beans Wool website) we are giving away 6 beautiful hanks of the Misti Alpaca Landscape Collection yarn in the color of your choice. Coincidentally, this is just enough to complete Debbie's creative design!

To enter the contest, leave a comment (only one per person!) between now and November 28th at 2 pm PST. Using a random number generator we will pick a post and that person will win the 6 hanks of Landscape Collection yarn. Jeanne will be announcing the winner Monday November 29th here on the blog, so check back in to see if you are the lucky winner!!!

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