The Sweatshop of Love Blog

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January, 2012

Delancey KAL Starts Next Week! So Let’s Swatch.

Our next knit along sweater, the Delancey Cardigan, starts a week from today! I know everyone is excited about it because our rav group has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve been getting tons of emails from knitters ordering yarn and buying up the pattern.

And remember! Alexis Winslow‘s coupon codes end next week, so if you want in on this KAL get it now! Use coupon code DELANCEY50 for 50% off the pattern price, OR, if you’ve got your eye on the Delancey Cardigan and another of Alexis’s patterns, use coupon code DELANCEYBOGO to get them buy one, get one free.

PS – Alexis just released a plus sized version of this pattern! Check it out here.

This Week’s Delancey Cardigan Goal: Gauge.

My Delancey Swatch

It SOUNDS easy, but we’ve got some decisions to make out of the gate here. I’ve done a lot of reading of reviews of this sweater from knitters who’ve finished it, and the consensus seems to be that Delancey comes out big. So if you like oversized sweaters, stick to the pattern and you will get a beautiful, slightly oversized cardigan.

If you want a more fitted cardigan, like I do, we are going to make a couple changes. I got one of the yarns the pattern calls for, which is Knit Picks Swish DK. The needle size appropriate for this yarn is 5, while the pattern calls for size 8. The first thing I’m going to do is drop my needle size down to size 7, which will tighten up the gauge, eliminating some of the stretch from wear and blocking, and make a smaller sweater just that easily.

About 3 1/2" Wide, 1/2" Smaller

My gauge swatch with size 7s came out 3 1/2″ wide and 4 1/2″ tall, which I was not expecting! Alexis wrote a really helpful post explaining that she is crazy tall, and that if you aren’t super tall you might want to shorten up the sweater. Because of the unusual construction of Delancey, shortening the sweater is not as easy as just starting my armholes early. I was thinking about doing this to begin with, but with my gauge coming out so crazy tall, I’ll for sure be following Alexis’s tips and shortening the body.

About 4 1/2" Long, 1/2" Longer

Even though my gauge came out at 3 1/2″ wide, which means I’ll lose about 4 1/2″ of sweater if I stick to the 36″ size (my normal sweater size), I’m still going down to size 33. I’d rather try to block a little bigger than get a sweater that is too big.

So next week I’ll be casting on for the smallest size, with my DK weight yarn and my size 7 needles. So much of knitting is guessing! With all the information out there about Delancey, this is my best guess for sweater knitting success. I hope you use this information to make the best possible guess for how to get your sweater the way you want it, too. Questions? Email me, or ask it on the forum.

And be sure to email me at if you want on the KAL mailing list!

We got this! And next week we cast on!

The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

Handmade Ryan, who I know you are all acquainted with by this time, was asked to be part of the blog tour for the book The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum. I was able to squeeze in a read this week so I was the member of the Handmade Ryan team chosen to take a look at the book. And I’m so glad I did!

The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum

First of all, this book is like candy. As it should be! You wouldn’t believe it if a book about taking great photos wasn’t filled with great photos. From the table of contents to the glossary, each page of Crafter’s Guide is full of some of the most beautiful pictures of handmade products, everything from jewelry to bags to knits to stationary. I flipped through it the first time like I’d flip through Vogue.

DIY Accessories Tutorials

I rolled through the book a second time to take it in. The lovely photos are telling you things, like how to make your own light tent and flash diffuser. What aperture means. The pros and cons to using props in your photos.

It’s full of before and after pictures, and the same product shot in different ways, showing how the different textures in your background effect the look of your product. You want your product to look like the products in this book, so you naturally pay attention to everything Heidi Adnum is telling you.

Photographing Knitting and Needlecraft

Heidi goes into photographing specific crafts and products in the middle of her book, and naturally I read the Knitting and Needlecraft section closely. She goes into the challenges to shooting such textured products and how to overcome them. She talks about the most flattering backgrounds and compositions, and answers FAQs like how to shoot floppy, soft knits. Then she interviews Jenny Gordy of Wikstenmade about how she photographs her knits (though I couldn’t find any knitwear on her site).

Heidi goes into this kind of detail with crafts like bags, dolls, fabric, and stationary, so if you make it, she can specifically help you shoot it better.

That Technical Stuff

Crafter’s Guide ends with help post-shoot. Cropping, color correcting, working with your digital files, sizing, and adding watermarks. Heidi even gives you ideas on what to do with your photos once they are looking their best, like sharing them on social media and working on your brand.

So yeah. I was really blown away by how much I liked The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos. I highly recommend this book if you sell handmade products online, if you shoot your craft and post pictures to your blog often, and if you are looking to upgrade your camera (or if you’ve got a camera you don’t really know how to use).

Written by a crafter for crafters, this book was easy to read, amazingly helpful, and instantly made me more aware of how the pictures I’m taking can look better. I’m excited to spend more time with this book soon!

Want to read more? Here are the other stops on the blog tour!

1/25 Mark Lipinski’s Creative Mojo Podcast

1/26 Rena Tom

1/27 CraftBuds

1/28 SweatShopofLove co-creator of @HandmadeRyanGosling

1/30 Artist Success with Lesley Riley

2/1 Jenny N Design — featured designer in the book

2/2 Rifle Paper Co. — featured designer in the book

2/3 See How We Sew

2/4 Imagination Kids Toys — featured designer in the book

2/6 Canadian Living Crafts’ Blog

UK Blog Tour

2/7 Feeling Stitchy 

2/8 UK Handmade

Australian Blog Tour


FOs: Angry Bird… Things

When you work for yourself you miss out on a lot of internet things that everyone else in the whole world knows about. I don’t have to look busy sitting in front of a computer like I would if I were working a desk job somewhere. Funny viral youtube videos? I’ve probably never seen it. Words With Friends might as well be Greek. Computer game featuring birds being shot into things for points? Yeah. No idea.

Angry Birds!

PT, on the other hand, went through a phase a few months ago where he played Angry Birds like 8 hours a day. I’ve been joking about buying him tshirts every time we pass a store full of Angry Birds merchandise ever sense. So naturally for his birthday yesterday he got a set of three of these little guys.

Cardinal Angry Bird

I found a collection of Angry Bird amigurumi patterns by Deborah Hutchinson, who has cornered the Angry Bird crochet pattern market. Just this week she added four more Angry Bird patterns! Sadly, a week late, since I cooked these up when only her first three patterns were avaliable, including the above Angry Cardinal.

Blue Angry Bird

Angry Blue Bird here, which looks more like a sad blue bird. I think it’s sad because it gets flung at walls. I’d be sad, too, Blue Bird.

Angry... Pig?

And last but not least, an Angry Pig. I don’t get it. I’m like my grandma talking about Angry Birds!

I got up in the middle of the night to hide Angry Birds around the house for PT to find on his birthday. It was pretty cute. Happy birthday, PT!

Pattern: Deborah Hutchinson’s Cardinal, Blue Bird, and Pig

Yarn: Random scraps, mostly Vanna’s Choice

Hook: Size G

Ravelry Project Pages: Cardinal, Blue Bird, Pig

Anti-Kitty Blocking Mats

My mom got me the Knit Picks Blocking Mats for my birthday a few weeks ago! I had my eye on these for years, and have been using towels laying all over my house to block on since I started knitting.

My Stack of New Blocking Mats

One of the main reasons I wanted to get these mats is because I thought they’d attract my cats less than towels always do. I swear my cats lay in wait for me to block things because they are only truly happy when they are sleeping on wet towels.

Velma Scoping it Out

Velma, the smart one, was the first to check it out. She took a few minutes to sniff around, but lost interest quickly.

Pudge Testing the Water

Pudge really wanted to make this work! She is usually the one sleeping on the wet sweaters the most, so once Velma walked away she was all over it.

Pudge Giving Up!

But it just wasn’t the same! She walked around the sweater and the blocking mats for another few minutes, but ended up leaving, too. It was fantastic! No yarn pulls, no messed up sweater, no wet cat hair! And the sweater dried overnight, and even though it’s cotton, the sweater is worsted cotton! Overnight drying is still pretty damn good.

So I’m in love with my blocking mats! Thanks mom!

… and y’all can just go ahead and ignore that sweater drying on that mat. There is nothing to see here.

Cooking Up a Storm

One of my favorite things about being back in Minneapolis for the winter is that all of my cooking materials are up here. I’m back with my pots and pans, my crock pot and gigantic stock pot, my emulsion blender, my bread maker! We are all back together again, and I’ve been cooking up a storm.

Bagel Sponge!

Making my own bagels has been on my list for a long time, and after visiting my friend Katie the other week right after she made her own bagels, I was re-inspired.

Bagels Boiling!

I found this recipe on pinterest and, without reading it, started working. And, JUST LIKE WHEN YOU DON’T READ AHEAD IN A KNITTING PATTERN, after I was about 8 minutes into kneading for 30 minutes, I glanced at the recipe and noticed it was divided into two parts: day one and day two.

Soysage, Egg, and Cheese Bagel Sandwich!

The bagels turned out great. A little dense, but very good. I’ll be making more soon, since PT and I are eating like 4 a day. I’m sure as hell trying a different recipe, though! A one day recipe.

Gratuitous Cute Pudge Rodriguez Pic

A couple other fun things to mention! I was included in Lisa Shroyer’s 8 Designers to Watch in 2012 list, which blows my mind. But, let’s be honest, it’s completely true. With Holla Knits launching in a couple months, my work with WORK+SHELTER and a trip to India scheduled, and the (secret) promise of a book, 2012 is going to be my bitch.

I was also included in this week’s Best of the Web collection on Pocketchange!

Slippers off and I’m back in the kitchen! This barefoot only rule is killing me, though. It’s cold up here!