July 2009 Archives

Mark your calendars!


Thank you so much to everyone who commented, emailed, or messaged on Ravelry about our car accident. It was scary, and we've been very sad over here having to say goodbye to our trusty friend and car, but having such a supportive group of internet and real-life friends is a great help. I'll probably do a goodbye post about the car sometime soon; she was definitely special.

In the meantime, things aren't all bad by a long shot! For one thing, anyone in the Boston area who'd like to come hang out and see the Family Trunk garments in person (as well as the new line of accessories) should mark your calendars; we're having a trunk show there! Here are the details:

Family Trunk Project Trunk Show
August 29, 1-4pm
at Windsor Button, 35 Temple Place, Boston

(right on the red, orange, and green lines, just off Boston Common)

I'm really excited about all the cool stuff we're putting together for this, and about meeting folks I've only known online. We're hoping to have pattern hard-copies and CD-based pattern collections for sale, along with a few little pieces of "merch" that have yet to be revealed. I've been totally flashing back to my days of playing in a band!

And if you need a little extra impetus to show up, how about a sneak peek of another accessory pattern that will be included in the fall collection?


And that's not all...


This hat and mitt set, christened Gerda by my friend Homero (after the brave little girl in Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen), were originally intended for Knitty.com, but are now slated for release along with the Julia Socks and three other accessory patterns in the fall.


This pattern really is a tribute to friendship: not only was it named by an internet friend in honor of a literary friend, but the yellow yarn (Indigo Moon's lovely Apricot colorway, in fingering-weight sock yarn) was donated to the cause by a dear Ravelry friend. Plus, the three pieces all match! (I'm not sure how that continues the theme of friendship, but in my mind it all makes sense.)


We hope to have this pattern and Julia done by the August trunk show, so you should drop by and check them out! And if you're not from the Boston area, I'm working on setting up more of these, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll be posting about the other three patterns as the summer progresses, as well as the rest of the fun & silly stuff we're planning.


Life is funny: a bolero


Today David and I were in a car crash. Don't worry; everyone is fine, including the elderly woman who turned left in front of us while we continued straight through a green light. Our trusty car may be totaled, but healthy people are much more important. Still, it's a shock! Nobody leaves their house expecting to get in an accident.


It occurred to me that, although I wouldn't recommend seeking out automobile wrecks as a method of connecting with people, we did encounter the generous side of humanity more than usual today as a result of dealing with the crash. There was a responsible witness, who was solicitous toward the old lady and made sure she got home okay after exchanging information with us. There was a super-nice neighbor gentleman, who crossed the street to stand and joke with us and make sure we were all right, and who then kindly offered to give us a ride home. A shopkeep from the convenience store on the corner swept up the debris from the intersection, while another employee of one of the corner businesses helped to push the cars into more normal parking spots. And then my mom, in whom generosity hardly surprises me, lent us her car for the weekend while she's out of town, so that we can have that convenience while we sort out the next steps.


It's nice to be reminded that the old cliches about a sharp shock bringing out the best in some people, really do have some truth to them. (There are, of course, other people in whom bad times bring out the worst, but luckily we didn't happen upon any of them after the accident.) I felt impressed and reassured about the ambient kindness in the neighborhood after this afternoon, and about peoples' ability to relate to and connect with one another.


You know another time I had the same feeling? When I had dropped a casual comment on Ravelry one day that I had reduced my work week by a day in hopes of increasing my design load, and Erin over at Eat.Sleep.Knit took it upon herself to email me with a proposal about possible joint design projects. I mean, what could be more validating than making a decision of that kind, and getting a tangible show of interest the very same day? It was pretty great.

As you've probably figured by now, this garment - the Vine Bolero - is the (first) result of that email exchange; it was mailed out to the participants in Erin's Malabrigo Projects Club this week, and will be available to the general population through her website come January. (And for those who care about such things: Erin is a peach, and offers generous terms to her designers. You should feel great about buying patterns from her along with your yarn!)


The Vine Bolero is a quick little project, designed in the Cape Cod Grey colorway of Malabrigo's Silky Merino. This was my first time working with this yarn, and although single-ply yarns with silk content pose certain sweater-design challenges, I dearly loved working with it and I'm quite pleased with the final result. The lace motif is simple and sweet, and I like the way it's mirrored across the back and extended down into the sleeves. As with most top-down raglans, it would be amazingly easy to modify for a longer body or sleeves, and you can add however many buttons you darn well please (mine are vintage lucite, purchased in an Etsy splurge).

Apparently, reaching out to people really does make a difference. It feels weird to write a blog entry with such an obvious moral! "And the funny little dog lived happily ever after."




Since I started telling people about the idea of Family Trunk Project, a certain comment and question have been cropping up again and again. "YOU'RE part of your family tree," people remark. "Are you going to design a garment based on yourself?" And every time this question has been asked, the answer has been a resounding "Um." I mean, I'm having a hard enough time coming up with designs to embody my parents, with whom I share an an ongoing, ever-developing relationship. But myself? How on earth to go about such a project? A couple of times I've started a garment that I expected to be the "Emily" pattern, but these attempts have either lacked conviction and petered out, or become unrelated patterns (such as the Garden Gate Socks). Then, just the other day, a brilliant idea occurred to me.


This photo is Johnson-family famous; it's everybody's favorite snap of me, aged 2.5, on a trip to the pumpkin patch one fine October day. My godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all have copies, and my dad used to have a large-format framed version of it on his desk. Check out the excellent outfit my parents concocted for me: gotta love that baby blue/true red combo, with the matching rubber boots. Which led me to a realization about a little something in my stash.


That's ArtFibers Big Bunz (what an embarrassing name for a beautiful angora yarn), topped with a lovely little red velvet ribbon. Yes? Can we say "pullover"? I think so.

New! Improved! Redesigned!


Lookee lookee! David, the web design wizard and layout guru half of Family Trunk Project, has been working his tail off for the past few weeks, and we're both super-excited to reveal the results: a subtle, yet lovely site redesign! Take a look around. Things are tidier, prettier, and generally more agreeable. Features include:

  • A new All Patterns page!

    This is what kicked off the redesign; since we're about to release a series of patterns that aren't based on my family members, we needed a place where a person can browse through them all with ease. Plus, there are getting to be enough designs now that a place where they're all displayed and organized by category (tops, socks, and accessories) is a huge benefit. The All Patterns page also features our new scale of difficulty, an idea to which I've been bullheadedly resistant, but one whose time has come. David came up with the three tiers (relaxing, engaging, and engrossing), which I loved for being less intimidating than the traditional easy/intermediate/advanced. You can see that there's more of an explanation up there on the right, and each design is displayed with a level of difficulty, along with an image, name, and price.

  • A fancy new front page!


    The new front page design features a little quirk I think is just about the coolest thing: see those family photos making up the top banner? Refresh the page, and you'll get a different, randomly-selected assortment. Do not ask how much time I've spent refreshing the page in order to see the different combinations. (This same randomized mechanism is also at work on the banners displayed on the All Patterns page - more refreshing fun!) The new front page also has a generally cleaner look and feel, with easier navigation, which is more consistent throughout the site.

  • New designs and addresses on individual pattern pages!


    In addition to a cleaner look on the individual pattern pages, there are a number of practical improvements. We're back to having a shopping cart, so you can do either one-click buying (with the "Buy Now" button), or add patterns to your cart and continue shopping. I know this feature is especially convenient for international customers; we're happy to have it back up and working properly. (Technical note: if you have disabled JavaScript on your browser, the Ravelry Store will not work. If you don't know what this means, and you are having trouble buying our patterns - or any other trouble with the site - please email david@familytrunkproject.com.) Also, both vintage and modern photographs on all pattern pages are now clickable for a larger popup version, and the "Pattern Info" sections have all been expanded to include a new Necessary Techniques heading, so you'll have a good idea what's involved in making a given pattern before you buy. Each pattern page also features that pattern's level of difficulty, with a link to an explanation. Finally, we took this opportunity to update or create pattern pages for the free (Knitty-published) designs: check out the new Marjorie and Garden Gate Socks pages!

    You may notice that the link structure has been simplified as well: typing "familytrunkproject.com/patternname" should now get you to the pattern you're looking for. Don't worry, though; all the old links and bookmarks should still work.

There's even more to come, including an update of the blog design that will match the new front page, and perhaps even some Mr. Bingley-related easter eggs. We will also, in the near future, be featuring a heartfelt plea from David to on a subject very near his heart. We both hope you like the new improvements, and find them helpful in getting around and appreciating the patterns!