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make. wear. love. 2014 registration

Registration is now open for the second annual make. wear. love. retreat, which will return to Sebasco Harbor Resort, on the lovely Maine Coast, from September 25-28, 2014. We do hope you’ll join us!

Click here to register now!

Excited? We sure are! Here are some pictures to tide you over till September:

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(Not sure what the make. wear. love. retreat is all about? Click here for the event brochure.)

make. wear. love. (a sweater retreat for handknitters)

We’re so happy to announce the second annual make. wear. love. retreat, which will return to Sebasco Harbor Resort, on the lovely Maine Coast, from September 25-28, 2014.

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make. wear. love. will still be focused on sweaters (no surprise there!), but with a slightly different twist this year. Since we released CustomFit, which addresses the fitting issues surrounding a sweater, we’ve had so many people ask us about all the other things that go into making successful knitwear.

This retreat is our answer.

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Come join us to further your own making journey, and explore our craft in depth. Connect with your instructors and fellow attendees while enjoying Sebasco’s intimate, gorgeous location. Bond over a delicious meal while you discuss how to make truly exceptional sweaters.

We’ll dive deep on fabric & fiber, technique & finishing, and the things that go into “tricking out” a sweater:  inserting stitch patterns, working in multiple gauges, shaping in pattern, and more. In addition to Amy’s sweater, fit, & body expertise, we’re so excited to be working with experts Clara Parkes, Patty Lyons, Gwen Bortner, and Kim McBrien Evans to bring breadth & depth to these topics.

We’re changing up the format a bit, so that in addition to wonderful classes, there is ample opportunity for one-on-one interaction with Amy and our instructors, as well as plenty of time to knit with friends on the beautiful resort grounds.

We’re so excited about this and can’t wait to share not only class time, but individual instruction and knitting with you all.

What to know more? The full details can be found in our retreat brochure.

This year we are delaying the opening of registration because we want people to have time to choose classes, talk to family & friends, make plans, sort out travel and/or child care arrangements, etc. without the pressure of acting immediately.

Registration will open Friday, April 18th at 12pm Eastern through an online form right here on this site. Read the brochure for complete registration instructions.

We hope you’ll join us!

Cardipalooza update

How is your cardigan coming along? We’re all knitting along slowly but surely. The Ravelry thread is on fire — some folks have already finished their sweaters! Dare we suggest they go for two? Here’s an update on our progress!

Amy

This week, Amy is working on the photoshoot for her next book! She’s knit something like two sweaters per week for the last month! Fortunately her fingers haven’t fallen off yet. Once the big push is past, she’ll have a chance to get back to personal knitting (and she can’t wait for that!). Look for a more detailed post on her cardigan in the next week or two. In the meantime, she’s been posting sneak previews of the sweaters in the next book on our Instagram! Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 9.04.19 PMLauren

I’ve got a few sweaters on the needles, but I’m extra excited about my Cardipalooza WIP. I talked about my inspiration on Facebook last week – I’m replicating a favorite black cardigan I used to own. A black stockinette cardigan is slow going, and the WIP pictures aren’t very exciting, but I know it’s going to be a wardrobe staple when it’s finished. I’m especially excited to use the handmade buttons I got from Buttonalia. photoJackie

I’ve been swatching, swatching, swatching, in pursuit of that perfect fabric (you may have seen my sleeve-sized swatch photo on Twitter). It became apparent that I was trying too hard to make that yarn something it didn’t want to be, so I changed courses. Here’s my swatch! photo (1) I’ve found a fabric I love now, and it’s just a matter of inputting my gauge into CustomFit and deciding what choices to make. Here is my inspiration — I’d like to end up with a sweater like this one. jackie inspiration I couldn’t be more excited to wear this sweater. I can see it with a pair of khaki shorts and a dark blue American Apparel tee, with my topsiders and sunglasses. A perfect thing to throw on as it gets cool at night, or in the a/c. Now all I have to do is knit it! What was your inspiration for your cardigan? If you have a Pinterest board, use #makewearlove or #cardipalooza — we’ll repin your ideas onto our board!

CustomFit: More Answers

Thanks so much for your comments and follow-ups, here and on Ravelry, about the recipes post. I’ll respond in the comments, too, but some questions popped up often enough that I wanted to take a moment and add a few points to my last post.

On what CustomFit is:

  • CustomFit generates new, custom sweater patterns. It’s a pattern creation site, not a pattern alteration site (for my patterns or anyone else’s).
  • CustomFit lets the knitter create their sweater by choosing from pictures of different sweater pieces (e.g. necklines, sleeves, and such) and making a basic choice about fit (close, average, or relaxed). It does all of the hard work of deciding on the best amount of ease for you and creating a custom pattern for your body, in your gauge.
  • Setting up an account, storing body measurements, and storing swatches is all free. Each CustomFit pattern costs $9.99 and is specifically for the choices/gauge you’ve entered in.
  • I think this next bit is so very important: It is not necessary to use a recipe, create a spreadsheet, track anything, or do anything other than knit the instructions exactly as written. You get a great sweater from CustomFit, exactly as explicitly written.

So you might ask: Why are there recipes in the first place, then?

While CustomFit produces an incredible wardrobe staple for you, the sweater patterns you can generate on the site are fairly plain. And after generating one fairly plain sweater, many of our beta-testers and early adopters decided to…

…well, I think about it this way: Many of our beta-testers and early adopters decided to add “bling” to their plain sweaters. They didn’t plan this, generally, or map anything out with a spreadsheet. They thought of a stitch pattern they liked, marked a few stitches, and went from there.

Other knitters started getting curious about using CustomFit as a launching point for more complicated sweaters, too. Some of them asked me how to use CustomFit to re-create some of my own designs. I thought it would be nice if I helped people along. And the recipes were born.

  • CustomFit recipes are intended as helpers. They help you use CustomFit to get a sweater that looks a certain way. They’re simple things. They say things like “make these choices when you generate your CustomFit pattern” and “set up the cable row like this:”.
  • CustomFit recipes are not at all necessary to use CustomFit. Period.
  • Recipes are only helpful if you want help using CustomFit to recreate a certain design. They’re frankly not even necessary in a lot of those cases, if you can look at the picture of the sweater and figure out what sweater “shape” it represents.

(Remember, you can download a sample CustomFit pattern and see what they look like from this page.)

If recipes are confusing, please definitely ignore them and happily knit away on a beautiful CustomFit sweater that’s made from choices already built into the site. Because it truly doesn’t take a bunch of “bling” to get an amazing sweater. Some of the best sweaters I’ve ever seen, hand-knit or otherwise, were just a bunch of Stockinette and ribbing. Perfectly fitted, in a yarn that’s to-die-for, in a color that’s stunning. And once you’ve unlocked that door, lace and cables and stitch patterns will all still be there, waiting.


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(We love our basic CustomFit sweaters, and wear them all the time.)

I want you to have wonderful, incredible, mind-blowing sweaters that you can’t wait to put on.

If you love the idea of CustomFit, but would like a little more of an in-person experience, that’s fantastic–and one of the exciting places we’re taking CustomFit is your Local Yarn Store.

I’ve talked before about why I think our LYS is our greatest knitting resource. And over the past several months of CustomFit sweaters, that reality has been driven home time and time again.

So much goes into knitting a sweater well, even when you have a pattern that’s perfectly crafted for your body, in your own unique gauge: Quality of fabric, finishing, match of yarn to design elements… …these concepts and others, which used to be universally known by knitters, are slipping away from us. As accessible as the Internet makes “learn to knit videos”, they aren’t a good substitute for someone standing over your shoulder, looking at what you’re doing, and helping you do it right.

The place we can truly learn and explore our craft is the Local Yarn Store.


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Since we announced our flagship stores, the CustomFit LYS program has grown and grown. We’re thrilled to say that as of today there are almost 40 stores who have joined the program, and we’re continuing to add more every week.

See the full list of CustomFit partner stores here.

Yarn stores that offer CustomFit services have the ability to take accurate measurements, provide guidance on fiber and fabric, design selection, and pattern creation. Their familiarity with CustomFit, in addition to their collective experience and knitting expertise, make them an invaluable resource for you as a sweater knitter. Each store designs their offerings around their own unique store environment, so please contact them directly to see what CustomFit classes, events, or other services they provide.

If you don’t see your LYS on the list, and would like them to offer CustomFit LYS in their store? Please do tell them about it! We’d love to talk with them.

CustomFit and Design: Recipes

Partially- and fully-finished sweaters are piling up, yarn is crammed into and onto every available surface, and people coming into my office generally back out again, slowly and making eye contact the whole way.

(Translation: We’re nearing photoshoot time for the next book. Want some sneak peeks?)


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But before I dive back into my wool and head out to Natural Stitches and the Three Rivers knitting guild, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about CustomFit recipes, which I think win the (dubious) award for being the single most confusing thing about CustomFit.

For those of you who haven’t had time to play around with the sweater generator yet, right now CustomFit offers you two basic ways to get a sweater. I’ve created six simple designs, which I think of as “Classics”. These are a few of the most beloved sweater shapes in fashion:

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For these designs, the only choice you need to make is which of our “fits” you’d like the sweater to be. Easy-peasy.

The other way to create a sweater is to step through our custom sweater wizard:

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(Here’s a one-page image of all of the options that are in the custom sweater wizard. You can mix and match however you like.)

These choices give you a ton of options – they essentially let you decide what you want to wear, and then create a pattern for your perfect sweater from scratch.

But many knitters don’t want to create a sweater in their head – they want to create a specific design they’ve seen in a photo.

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(Let’s use Tucci as an example.)

Right now, CustomFit produces what I’ve come to think of as “sweater blanks”. A sweater pattern that will produce a perfectly-fitting garment, in your gauge… …but a fairly “clean slate” one.

Design takes a particular “sweater blank” and adds what I like to think of as “bling” – stitch patterns, putting this together with that, etc. A crew-neck cardigan with long, tapered sleeves becomes Tucci with the addition of the stripe sequence, blanket stitch, and collar:

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CustomFit Recipes are short sets of instructions that help you use CustomFit to get a sweater that looks like a design.

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To continue the example: For Tucci, pictured above, the recipe tells you:

  • Which choices to make in the custom sweater wizard to get that “sweater blank”,
  • The stripe pattern, and where to place it,
  • Collar instructions, and
  • Instructions for the blanket stitch trim.

Make sense?

I’ve now released recipes for most of my self-published designs. You can find them all here, in my Ravelry store. (A dedicated recipe page here on this site is in the works, too.) They’re inexpensive, because you will still need to purchase a CustomFit pattern to get complete instructions. But they’re not free, because I want to make a clear statement that the design part of designing is a valuable thing to do, and I want the other designers who are releasing CustomFit recipes to be able to feel good about charging for them.

(Yes, you caught that right! Other people are also working on CustomFit recipes – so exciting! Once they are out in the world, we’ll be sure to tell you all about them and we’ll have a prominent page on the CustomFit site itself, listing them all.)

Pattern purchase choices break down like this:

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or

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I hope this post clears up some of the confusion? If not, please ask any questions you have in the comments and I’ll definitely clarify. Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side of PA!

–Amy

VKL Seattle!

Last weekend, the whole team was in Seattle for Vogue Knitting Live.

I have feelings about the Pacific Northwest. Strong feelings. Happy, love-y, enamored feelings. So, of course, I had been looking forward to this trip for months.  Spoiler: it did not disappoint!

It began with a road trip Lauren and I made down to see the awesome ladies at Twisted in Portland, Oregon.

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The ride was beautiful. We passed through sunny fields dotted with the pink of cherry blossoms, and many (massive!) piles of fresh-cut timber. It was everything I expected it to be, and more.

Like the ride down, Twisted was everything I would have imagined a Portland yarn store to be: friendly & quirky, with a circle of super comfy squishy couches, and walls filled with some pretty spectacular yarn. I promise I will tell you so much more about Twisted (and the other CustomFit LYSes) in a future post! For now, suffice it to say that when we arrived Megan hand-prepared exquisite loose-leaf tea bags for us, and when we left there was a rather large group of knitters gathered round the comfy couches having a grand old time. Even though I was headed back to Seattle for VKL, I really didn’t want to leave. It was apparent that everyone there was really happy to be there, you know?

I am about to share an embarrassing (to me) photo with you. Do not let this picture deceive you:  these ladies are super fun & awesome, and I am stupid awkward in front of cameras. I don’t know why it looks like I’m afraid to touch people!

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From left to right: Shannon, Me, Emily, Kat. All the people who know what to do with their arms are from Twisted.

We made our way back to Seattle (Bellevue, really) and the rest of the weekend was much as you’d expect. Amy taught pretty much non-stop:

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In between a bevy of meetings, I had a wonderful time browsing the marketplace, and admiring well-designed booths. (I have SO MUCH MORE appreciation for the art of a well designed booth, having done a couple ourselves now.)  We snapped a picture of the Stash booth with Liz, who has made a gorgeous Birch Bark using CustomFit:

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Lauren shared her own LYS with us, and got to play hostess and tour guide more than once over the course of the weekend.

I learned that, in Seattle, hats/coats are the preferred rain-gear of choice (not umbrellas), and I cast on for Cardipalooza Saturday evening at a lovely wine bar, rather, um, damp all over, because I had neither.

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Not pictured: Any of us, because we bore an unfortunate resemblance to drowned rats.

Lauren cranked out half of a sweater, using the Plucky she nabbed at Stitches West:

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And one of Amy’s students anonymously left carefully wrapped packages for us, containing these:

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I don’t know which kind soul left these, but those smoked salted caramels were transcendent. Thank you.

See what I mean?  The Pacific Northwest, and the knitters there (and the yarn stores there!) are like that… a little better than you even expect. (And we were expecting awesome.) I don’t know how anyone could go there and not fall in love with it!

Cardipalooza!

Cardipalooza
 
We’re launching a year-long KAL, and Cardipalooza is our first segment! We’d like to explore the types and styles of sweaters that we knitters make and wear over the course of a year.
 
As spring begins (or as you look off in the distance to see it approaching), our enthusiasm for sweater knitting doesn’t wane. Even as the weather gets warmer, we can make those lightweight, transitional pieces that help move our wardrobes into the summer season.
 
So grab some sportweight yarn — maybe a silk blend? Start sketching and swatching and dreaming of the cardigan that would fit perfectly in your wardrobe.
 
We’re giving ourselves plenty of time on this KAL. It will run through May 31, so no need to rush right into a cast-on. Take your time to create a fabric you love and design the cardigan that you want to wear.
 
And then join us for a party! Cardipalooza!

We’ll be living #cardipalooza for the next two and a half months, so follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. More details to come on the AHD blog about our Cardipalooza plans, styling advice, and maybe even a prize or two ;)

Vogue Knitting Live: Seattle

Just a quick drive-by post to let you know we’ll be at Vogue Knitting Live Seattle this weekend!

VKLSeaAmy is teaching all weekend long, so we won’t have a booth this time. But we’re setting up a little meet-up for fans of Amy Herzog Designs and CustomFit, because we love to meet you all and see your sweaters! Wear your sweater if you have one, or bring a WIP or book to be signed!

When: Sunday, March 16, 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm
Where
: Relax & Unwind Lounge, Vogue Knitting Live marketplace
Why: To show off your Happy Sweater Face!

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Click to enlarge — the Relax & Unwind Lounge is on the right side as you look at the map.

Coming? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Ravelry! And if you can’t make the meetup, feel free to say hello if you see us in the marketplace. Can’t wait to see your sweaters!

 

 

 

 

Ravellenics Winners!

Congrats to everyone who participated in Team CustomFit for the Ravellenics!

We’re happy to announce the winners of our lovely prizes!

First, Tanya made a stunning cabled pullover. It’s intricate without being heavy, and looks great paired with jeans here! She’s the winner of the Bretton Woods Collection, along with a CustomFit gift certificate to make the pattern of her choice.

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Next, Georgette made a beautiful Moscato! She’s a prolific sweater knitter and has made several beautiful CustomFit sweaters. She was even featured in our Gallery of Awesome at Stitches West! Lucky Georgette — she won a custom Jennie the Potter mug!

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Finally, our grand prize winner! Believe it or not, this was Karen’s first sweater in 10 years. She held two gorgeous sock yarns together and called it Water & Sky. Karen will be making her next CustomFit sweater with indigodragonfly yarns, courtesy of our friend Kim. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Karen!

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Thank you once again to the donors, CustomFit user Sara, Jennie the Potter, and indigodragonfly yarns! In case you missed it, check out the FO thread in our Ravelry group. We had so many talented knitters on our team, and everyone deserves a prize!

Amy and I finished our sweaters just in time to wear at Stitches, though neither of us have taken photos yet. Jackie didn’t quite cross the finish line, but she’s almost there! Maybe she’ll reach Olympic glory in 2016!

Stitches West – A Recap

So, we had a nice post planned about our time at Stitches West. It was going to include pictures of happy, interested people at our booth. We thought we’d take photos with people in their CustomFit sweaters, show off our measuring corner in action, proudly display our real-life Gallery of Awesome. I thought we’d have time to take these photos and keep notes about them … clearly I was delusional!

Instead, Stitches West was a bit of a madhouse, in the best possible way.

It began on Thursday night, during the market preview hours. Amy, Lauren, and I dashed to the rest room at 4:58 to change out of our icky booth-building clothes and into our sweaters, we emerged at 5:00 somewhat more presentable, and facing a line of about 20 (awesome) people waiting in line at the booth.

It was a crazy happy sight for us, because we’ve never exhibited to knitters at a show like this before, and we really didn’t know how things would go over. (How do you explain CustomFit to people who have never heard of it? And how come there’s no yarn for sale in our booth?) Once we launched into taking measurements, the booth ramped up into a crazy busy that never stopped.

We had planned 6 measurement hours, carefully scheduled and spaced apart for manageability. That was clearly shortsighted of us! Measurement services almost immediately turned into a constant whirl of tape measures for the full 8 hours each day, in response to the rather enthusiastic demand for them — stopping only for water and rest room breaks.

(At one point, Caroline brought us dark chocolate caramel sea salt squares from the Verb booth and I could have hugged her. It was so thoughtful, and delicious, and needed.)

Lauren and I were usually in the measurement corner, watching Amy manage a crowd of 10 or 20 people herself, and somehow also spending one-on-one time with hundreds of women giving personal consultations. (On occasion we’d switch things up and swap in and out as needed.) Even though I (mostly) saw it happening, I’m still really not sure how she did it — it seems a bit like a physical impossibility.

The line for measurements was often long, and many (very, very patient!) women waited more than an hour or two for them. Everyone was so patient, and kind, and enthusiastic, and friendly — it was a reinforcement of all the best things about the knitting community and knitters themselves. I got to chat with wonderful women, from everywhere, all weekend. And we got to connect, not just about knitting in general, but about the journey of making a sweater as clothing… and about getting a piece of clothing that fits.

It made me feel, once again, how fortunate I am to be doing this.

Want to see a pathetic, non-artistic photo of our booth? I snapped it just before the show to text to my husband:

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We finished setting up with just minutes to spare.

I never in a million years thought it would be the one we’d use for the blog post. (See: trash cans in foreground. See also: empty)

Thanks to EVERYONE who came out and made Stitches West such an incredible weekend for us. It was wonderful to see so many of our beta-testers, and so many finished CustomFit sweaters from knitters who we met for the first time at Stitches West. Thanks for coming up and saying hi, and showing us your awesome work. Thanks also to all the knitters who’d never heard of us, and took the time to say, hey, what’s this booth that has no yarn in it?

It was also fantastic to see some of our CustomFit LYS stores exhibiting, such as A Verb for Keeping Warm, Purlescence, WEBS, and last but not least Yarnover Truck, who saved our hides by making copies of measurement sheets for us, when we ran out of the double supply we brought for the show! They actually had their truck on the floor, which was maybe the coolest “booth” set up I’ve ever seen.

(Also, I’m thrilled to say CustomFit LYS is in more than 30 stores now — more on that later this week!)

All in all, it was a great show (and a complete whirlwind). We’re really looking forward to seeing all the sweaters whose roots are in the conversations and connections we made this weekend — it’s definitely the best part of it all.