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Waiting for the When

As a bit of an intro in case you’re new here, in July of 2018 my husband, daughter and I moved provinces to be closer to my family. It’s about a 10 hour drive from Calgary to Chilliwack so it’s not something I would be able to regularly do to still see my friends.
I had lived in Calgary for practically a decade this time, previously six years from age nine to 15, so it was home.
But my parents are in Chilliwack and my grandparents are in the next town over so why not uproot for the sake of Violet.
Well, come autumn I was not exactly feeling the Fraser Valley life anymore. I realized that once again my happiness was sacrificed for everyone else in my life. Which is what had happened when I was 15 and my parents decided to up and move us back to BC. 

I talked to Max about it and he said he would start looking for job in Calgary because he just wanted me to be happy. I was over the moon, we could go back! Immediate dread and anxiety settled in my stomach as I realized I’d at some point have to tell my parents. 

Fast forward to now (mid-January 2020) and we’re still here. My parents know we’re looking to move, they’re considering moving too since my brother lives about and hour and a half from Calgary and has four daughters so all the grandkids would be in Alberta. But Max hasn’t yet gotten a job – despite applying to loads – and I’ve been putting off doing certain things “in case” we move. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting on what if, waiting on the “when?” When are we going to move, when will I be able to go to knit night again, when will I be able to go for ice cream with my friends, when will I be able to go on outings with Violet with friends with kids?

And I realized it could take a long ass time. Or it could happen today. But ultimately I don’t know when, so I need to start just living life here and when it happens it happens. I need to unpack the last few boxes, make our house feel like home with artwork and organization. I need to look into gymnastics classes for Violet instead of waiting until we eventually move. Time doesn’t wait so why should I?

So now I ask you, what are you waiting for?

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Let’s talk about size, Baby

“Let’s talk about you and me” now that I’ve gotten that song stuck in your head, let’s dive in.

This is not my first blog post on this topic, but I feel it needs re-iterating.

For a bit of background, I grew up in a house that is very fatphobic. To the point where when I was pregnant with my daughter Violet one of my concerns was gaining a lot of weight. It’s been ingrained into my psyche and it’s going to talk a lot of work to retrain my brain. I gained 40 pounds whilst pregnant and seemed to think I’d “bounce back” afterwards. That did not happen and I’m finally starting to love my changed body. You can talk all day about how our bodies create life etc but looking at a body that is now MUCH saggier than it used to be and comparing it other people who’ve also had kids who did bounce back is something I catch myself doing almost daily.

When I started designing garments I didn’t know what I know now. From the need to create as many sizes as possible to how few are actually out there to fit everyone. I also for some reason though it would be difficult to size the full range of Craft Yarn Councils Standards.

In my experience, it’s not.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know I’m adding sizes to all my garment patterns and my new ones this year are fully graded. However! My newest pattern I’ll be releasing in the next…few weeks(?) isn’t graded at all. WHAT?! HOW?! WHY?!

Because *drumroll please* ANYONE CAN MAKE IT TO FIT THEM!!

I’ve written it so that with gauge and formulas you can make my garment to fit you how you want it to fit you. And to me the best part is you don’t have to take my math and try and manipulate it to your body. Which I know is something a lot of people have to do but hopefully writing my pattern this way helps curb that.
I will be basing yardage off CYC until people make it and I have a better idea of actual yardage because there’s no real other way for me to figure it out.

Finally, designers seem to think there isn’t a market for sizes above 4X based on my ravelry searching. That’s obviously not true and so to quote Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come.”

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I believe in Me

I don’t like working for other people. I realized this at some point in my adult life and it really shouldn’t have come as that much of a shock considering by that point both my parents had either worked or were working for themselves.
I hated the idea that all my hard work was going to make someone else rich. Why should they get to profit off my labour? (Insert line about how capitalism sucks).

I knew I wanted to ultimately work for myself and I figured I would open some kind of graphic design business once I was a stay at home mom. Which I did, you can find that website here. But in 2016 I started White Willow. What started out as Harry Potter inspired ready to wear pieces has evolved into a knitwear pattern design business that still has a toe (or leg) in the nerdy culture for pattern inspiration.

I’m not raking in the dough by any means at this point (Fall 2019) but I sell the occasional pattern and I know it will just keep growing because I keep designing.

Now, to the point of this post. Sometimes the people closest to you won’t believe in you. I’m fortunate enough that my husband and close friends understand my need to be doing something creative that’s not necessarily designing some logo for a brand I don’t believe in with a font I can’t stand.

However I can’t say the same of my parents or other family members. They have never said anything in the way of “you should be doing something besides knitting” and my mom did pay me to make her a sweater (the Amethyst Grace Cardigan). However my aunt did balk at the price of my headbands because, and I quote, “I can get one at the dollar store.” Well, my yarn probably costs more than she anticipated paying but that’s okay!
She’s not my target demographic.

It’s okay that my family doesn’t think that what I do is work, because I know it is. It’s work that I love, but at the end of the day it’s my chosen profession and considering a few years ago I didn’t even knit, yet now I’m designing knitwear… I’m pretty damn proud of that.

So this is to all the people who look down on anyone for doing something “non-traditional” as their means of surviving in the capitalistic society we are dealing with. Just because you hate your job, doesn’t mean we have to.

We believe in our own damn selves.

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Dreamweaver

What are your goals/dreams/aspirations?

My big/extremely lofty one is to….be bringing in “enough” income with my patterns etc that I can donate all of the profits of certain collections to organizations related to the collection.
For example: the profits from my Drag Race Collection which currently only has the Visage Tee in it – and I’m working on the second piece – would go to a LGBTQ+ organization. The profits from the beanies I’m creating with yarn that’s not my jam would go to an organization that helps the homeless in my community. You get the idea.

Now currently, I sell a couple patterns a month on average. My best month this year was June and that was due to my moving sale. So obviously I’m nowhere near that point yet. And I’m not talking like oodles of cash here, I mean I’m out of debt and can pay my bills and put a small amount into savings kind of profits.

Nevertheless, I will keep putting out patterns for pieces I want in my own closet. And maybe one day, I’ll take a look at my spreadsheet and say “damn, I’m there.”

What are some small steps you can take to make your dreams happen?

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The Not so Basic Ribbed Beanie

Last week I gave you ideas on how to use up your least favourite skeins. Today I’m talking about my first project that I did with mine.

Like I mentioned last week, I’m designing beanies with the yarn I have from various sources. Some of it is KnitPicks that I’d purchased with the intent to sell the finished products at markets. That obviously didn’t happen. Now, with this being my last market season and already having stock from the last 2 years, I knew I didn’t need to bring in new pieces. Other yarn is from Knitcrate that just isn’t my style or preferred colour scheme.

For the this particular design I knew I wanted to keep it simple. But also have something to keep it interesting beyond “just another ribbed beanie”. So I added a double brim and did different ribbing ratios on the body of the hat compared to the brim.

It’s customizable to head size, you just need to measure your head and do more or less repeats. I also include a link on how to do a provisional cast on because that’s my preferred method of double brims.

I need to finish a few other wips before I start my next one although it was my intention to have 2 per month and I’m kinda running out of time for September. Maybe there will be 3 in October!

You can get the pattern here. And the yarn I used here.

Happy Knitting!

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Not my type: Yarn edition

If you’re like me, you definitely have some yarn in your stash that isn’t…you. Whether it’s from before you really knew what you were doing (or what Indie Dyers were), from a Fibre Share partner that just didn’t quite get it right, or from a subscription box (Knit Crate or otherwise) where you don’t actually have a say, it’s there and you can’t ignore it forever. So! What’s a knitter (or crocheter etc) to do?

Design & Donate

I decided early this year while looking at my collection of bulky yarn – and knowing there are only so many hats one person needs – that I should just design a bunch of hat patterns and then donate the finished product.
I’m not losing out on anything, I still design a pattern but someone else, someone who really needs it, gets the physical piece. Originally I was going to donate to the YYC Longest Night of the Year but then we moved to the Fraser Valley so I have to do some research into what my town has. My first pattern is the Not so Basic Ribbed Beanie.

Make & Give or Donate

Maybe you don’t design, you could still take the above idea and make for someone else. Know someone that loves an orange? Make them a lil something.
Want to donate to a local shelter but don’t have the funds to do so? Check out Ravelry and pick a few hat patterns from there. Or ear warmers, mittens, scarves, etc. We have this amazing gift so why not spread the love?

Donate your yarn

I KNOW it sounds scary, what!? Donate my yarn!? Hear me out. School’s have started offering knitting or crochet as an elective course and from my experience knowing the teachers, they have to provide the supplies (as in the school doesn’t). I honestly don’t even know if they get a budget for the needles.
So, go through your stash. Pick out the stuff that’s leftover (like half a ball at least, you shouldn’t be donating two yards of something), stuff you will NEVER use and contact your local school or if you know teachers ask them.
Also, I’ve heard Senior Homes might take yarn donations as well. You could maybe even start a club at one.

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I don’t want to talk about it but we need to; my miscarriage story.

On the evening August 10th, at 11 weeks pregnant, I suffered a miscarriage. I was in Calgary the reception of a wedding I was part of, and after dinner when I went to the washroom there was blood.
And then there was more blood. I found the maid of honour and the other bridesmaid, and the decision was made to have me driven to the Foothills Hospital by said bridesmaid and her husband, while the maid of honour made the sure bride was in the dark about the situation. Simply because we knew she would drop everything and come with us and I wasn’t about to let that happen.

I was admitted pretty quickly after arrival and changed from my dress into a hospital gown. The doctor did an ultrasound to try and detect a heartbeat but there was none. He said that didn’t necessarily mean anything since he is a doctor and not an ultrasound tech.
I was in contact with my husband during the entire time via messaging because he was at home in Chilliwack with our daughter.
Without going into too much more detail it was later decided that yes, I had miscarried and would need a D&C to prevent infection.

While all this was happening Erin (bridesmaid) stayed by my side and held my hand, hugged me, and put Drag Race on her phone so we had something to do while we waited.
Around probably 2 am (we’d left the reception at about 10 pm) I was moved up to the Gynecology unit and at that point Erin messaged our bridal party group chat so Nicole (bride) would be informed when she woke up. Chantal did a stellar job of not only keeping Nicole from worrying too much but also holding it together while being in contact with us.

At some point I was informed by the Resident working at that time, that this miscarriage was one that just sometimes happens. There’s no explanation for it; the body can just reject a pregnancy. Later that week I looked into it because I needed more clarity. While no, there was nothing I could have done differently, reading that it was likely because of a genetic abnormality that wouldn’t be able to handle life, gave me comfort.

I would rather it happen at that time, with my body figuring it out on its own, instead of finding out later that it wasn’t a viable pregnancy and having to terminate.

I don’t like talking about the fact that this happened.
But the truth is we need to talk about it. We need to stop this stigma that miscarrying isn’t that common or that there’s something that you could have done. It sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I also feel incredibly fortunate that I live in Canada so I didn’t have to worry about my insurance covering my hospital stay or if I could afford a D&C. My friends paid for parking but that’s it.

Things I’m doing to deal with the hurt of this loss are; writing this post so maybe someone who’s going through a similar situation doesn’t feel alone, writing an article for Candor Magazine (piece not yet published as of August 2019) on what I learned from it, letting myself feel all the feelings whenever they come, and being grateful that I know I can have kids but this time just didn’t work out. Also knowing I have people that are around to talk whenever I need to.

So, with all that being said, while I may have my people not everybody does. So if you don’t have someone you feel you can talk to; I’m here. You’re not alone in this and I hope you don’t ever feel that you are.

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The Visage Tee

My latest pattern, the Visage Tee, is a garment that started a snowball of an idea. One that I hope to turn into an avalanche of good.
Originally named the Key to my Heart Tee, Visage was suggested and I ran with it.

Named for Michelle Visage from Drag Race, I had the idea of creating a line of garments inspired by Drag Queens. I have two more ideas brewing so stay tuned for those. But I have a goal of 6 designs total.
Ultimately, I want a percentage of the sales from those 6 pieces to go to a local LGBTQ+ charity. Because at the end of the day, I just want to help people.

Being cis-het, white, straight-sized and of middle-class, I have privilege. And I recognize that. So I want to do what I can for those who don’t have those same privileges.

I’ve mentioned this before, I make garments that I want to wear. In doing that, I also am trying to make sure anyone of any shape can not only make my patterns, but wear them proudly. If there is a pattern of mine that you don’t think will fit you as you want, email me and we can work it out together.

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What even is “Industry Standard”?

I’ve always stated that my patterns are based off of the standards given by Craft Yarn Council. And it didn’t really occur to me that I don’t know where that information even originally came from. Then my dear friend Erin posted a snippet from a pattern by Evolve Crochet that asks that question. Colleen includes info on how to make a part of the pattern for a different measurement because “what even is industry standard?”.

The more you know
Grading a pattern to include as many sizes as possible involves a ton of math. Math that sometimes doesn’t always work out the same for every size. Which is why we need testers so that we know the various numbers will in fact work out. However, it turns out that basing something off measurements that only fit a specific amount of people and not including information on how to make adjustments didn’t sit right.
Therefore, going forward I have decided that with the re-working of my older patterns to include the sizes/measurements given from CYC, that I’m also going to change how my patterns are written.

What does that all mean?
It means that you’ll still be able to follow the pattern and make the garment. However in addition to stitch and row counts I will include inches/options to go to the desired length.
In short it will be easier for you to have the garment fit your specific body better.

When I make something, I’m making it for my body shape because I’m making it for myself. However, I realize not everyone making my patterns have that body shape.
Full disclosure, I have an hourglass shape. Which means my hips and bust are closer in size and I have a narrower waist.
To put that into perspective, CYC classifies a Large as:
Bust: 40-42″, Waist: 32-34″ and Hips: 42-44″ and my measurements are:
Bust: 40-42″, Waist: 34.5″ and Hips: 41.75″.

The option of having a longer notes section in the patterns on possible ways to adjust things did occur to me. When it comes down to it though, I think that straight up writing it with more wiggle room, while still giving you all the necessary information for making the piece itself, is the best idea for everyone.

Happy Knitting!


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Summer Lovin Tank

Depending on how long you’ve been on this journey with me you may remember this pattern from last year. However I had only graded it for a few sizes. Because when I started designing garments last year I had no idea that sizing was such an issue. I also was brand new to designing so the idea of grading for lots of sizes was daunting at best.

Now a year, five garment designs, and multiple makes later I am significantly more confident in my abilities. Which is why when the discussion of size inclusiveness came up I realized I had two options.
1. Start grading my new patterns with the full range that CYC (craft yarn council) provides but ignore my previous releases or
2. Do the first part of one but also go back to my previous patterns and fully grade them so as many people as possible can enjoy them.

It’s not easy going back into my older designs, it’s time consuming and honestly it would be much easier to just say “well I didn’t know, now I do and everything going forward will be inclusive” but that’s not fair to the makers that don’t fit into the S/M/L range.

I am…fortunate(?) that I only have to re-work four more patterns and two of those already go to 2X. Some designers have a lot more and have less time than I do.
So I’d ask that if you can tell they’re trying (as in not ignoring the conversation, newer designs are more inclusive etc) to give them a beat to figure out how they’re going to do it.

That all being said, I hope you enjoy the re-worked version of this tank, I laughed a few times at myself for how I originally wrote it. I promise it’s much better now!

Grab it on ravelry or etsy and happy knitting!