business-ing

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It never fails to amaze me how much work it is to run a business by yourself. I am so immensely grateful for the support and advice of friends and family, and I am eternally grateful to my perpetually patient and encouraging spouse (for letting me destroy our basement as I reconfigured the Paper tiger studio last week), because running Paper Tiger would be impossible without that support. I think a lot of businesses like mine (especially in the craft and “lifestyle” industry) often try to make our work look effortless – you come here for fun, after all, not to read about the office-job side of running a creative business. We’re about celebrating the beauty. But the truth is there’s a ton of work – so much work – that goes on behind and the scenes and so much of it is very, very business-y. January has brought a lot of that to the forefront this year – from filing business taxes, which I do every January, to new challenges like adjusting to the new EU VAT rules which went into effect on the first of the year.

I think I’m almost out of the admin black hole, but a few relevant updates:

– I’ve configured Paper Tiger pattern sales to EU customers via Ravelry with the system that Casey has so wonderfully set up with Loveknitting. EU customers, please let me know if you run into any issues trying to purchase patterns!

– Paper Tiger has joined Kollabora, and I’m in the process of getting all the Paper Tiger knitting patterns up. I love that it’s an all-around creative community! You can find the Paper Tiger page here.

– I’ve started working on my pattern release schedule for the late winter/spring. I have a bunch of stuff that’s been simmering on the back burner and I’m looking forward to getting it out!

– I’ve also put together my preliminary schedule for tutorial posts. I’m hoping to start posting tutorials once a week, beginning next week with tips for combatting tight colorwork.

All that said, 2015 is off to a fantastic start around here and I hope the same goes for you!

a trip and a pattern sale

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In a sort of continuation of my last post: while we small business owners are very lucky to do what we get to do, and I am so immensely grateful for the community of talented and creative people I get to work with regularly, small business can be a slog. December, in the run-up to Christmas, tends to be the best month of the year for many, many retail businesses, and this includes small businesses (perhaps especially so for yarny ones). So perhaps this is a bit crazy of me – but I’m taking December off. Last year, during the month of December, I found myself getting really burned out. I’d had an incredibly busy fall season and was facing deadlines on top of the bustle and stress of the holiday season and the personal toll that can take – and I realized right then that I didn’t want to be in that place this year.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to the airport, bound for Europe! My husband and I are taking three weeks to travel from England to Istanbul by train. I am so excited. We’ll be covering old ground and new: both places we’ve been before and places we never thought we’d end up. I’ve loaded up my phone with bilingual dictionaries and language learning apps and I can’t wait to take a million photos.

I’ll be periodically checking email and Ravelry, so I’ll still be on hand to answer questions, but my response time will very likely be slower than normal. Additionally, wholesale orders are on hold until I’m back in the office the first week of January.

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As a treat, both because I’ll be semi out-of-the-office and also because I love the holiday season, all Paper Tiger patterns will be 25% off for the month of December! Simply use the coupon code papertigerholiday at checkout. There’s no minimum purchase and you can use the code more than once! Please note that the sale applies to Paper Tiger patterns on Ravelry only; patterns published by third parties (Brooklyn Tweed, etc.) are not included. The sale will run from December 1st to December 31st (Pacific Standard Time). Thank you all for making what I do possible.

P.S. For those of you who are as uncomfortable as I am with “Black Friday” as both a name and an idea, you might find this an interesting read. The popularly given origin of the term, the red-to-black story, is a total myth. My aversion to the Black Friday phenomenon (and the fact that it’s spreading beyond U.S. borders) is largely why my own sale isn’t starting until December.

patterns!

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I’ve been working on something behind the scenes recently, and I’m so excited these are finally ready to go: I now have hard copies of Paper Tiger patterns available for wholesale! If you work at a local yarn store and you’re interested in carrying these or you want to know more, shoot an email to wholesale (at) paper-tiger.net and I’ll make sure you get the line sheet. If you don’t work at a store but you’d love to be able to purchase these at your LYS, let them know!

I’m very happy with the quality of these patterns and I hope you all like them too. They’re all either 4-page or 8-page booklets, printed in high-quality full color, with heavier paper stock used for the covers. That makes for sturdy little booklets, which is quite nice. What I’m most excited about is that every pattern includes a unique digital download code you can use to download a PDF version of the pattern at no extra cost. So purchasing a paper copy of the pattern means you get both versions – paper and PDF! You may be familiar with this model if you’ve purchased a hard copy of Pom Pom Quarterly, or if you buy vinyl records. The download codes are located on the inside front cover and can be redeemed via Ravelry. If you purchased Vasa at the Tea Cozy or you purchased one or more patterns from my booth at Knit Fit!, see my postscript below.

At this moment, I’ve got the five patterns from Paper Tiger Fall/Winter 2013 as well as my bestseller Vasa available. While I love the ease of digital files, I’m a sucker for a beautifully printed publication, so I’m incredibly happy to finally have these on offer. Please do shoot me an email at wholesale (at) paper-tiger.net if you’re interested.

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*Postscript: If you previously purchased a paper copy of a Paper Tiger pattern, there was no download code included. I’d love to be able to offer free digital downloads to customers who purchased early paper copies, so if you’d like to have a PDF version as well, send me an email at dianna (at) paper-tiger.net and let me know: 1) when and where you purchased the pattern, and 2) what your Ravelry username is.

feature in knitscene magazine

I’m really excited to share some news with you today: I’ve got an article in the fall issue of Knitscene Magazine!

It’s no secret that I love to travel, and the article is a short piece on travel and inspiration. I take a look at a few designers who are doing cool things with traditional techniques tied to a specific place or people. Huge thanks to Kate Davies for chatting with me about her work and Shetland, and to Andrea Rangel for talking to me about Cowichan knitting (and to both of you for sharing photos). I also want to give a shout out to my editor, Amy Palmer, and especially Lisa Shroyer, editor of Interweave Knits (who was still on the Knitscene team when we started work on this issue), because they’re both amazing and it was Lisa who brought me on board in the first place. They rule.

This is a great issue with some really beautiful patterns (I’m in love with Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s Emmanuelle Sweater. Such a great use of intarsia!). The magazine officially hits newsstands on July 16th but the digital copy is already available, and you can either pick one up or pre-order the hard copy on Knitting Daily’s website here.

housewarming

I have so many projects on the needles at the moment, between Faire du Vélo, working on my F/W collection, and the couple other patterns I’ll be releasing in the fall; I guess I felt the need to get back to basics and knit a project as easy as they come.

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Weirdly, I’d never knit a dishcloth before. My very first project was a scarf – probably a half-finished, uneven, somewhat holey garter stitch scarf – but once I really got the hang of knitting I realized what a poor choice of project a scarf really is for a beginner knitter. Scarves require a certain amount of knitting stamina, which might discourage many folks who would otherwise turn into marvelous knitters if they started off with a smaller project.

Dishcloths are so great for that. Practical when finished, regardless of whether your climate is cool or warm. Big enough to really get a chance to practice the knit stitch, but small enough to finish in a reasonable amount of time. And if you finish one and you’re still itching to knit, you can simply knit another! And then you have two FOs! And for the advanced knitter? A dishcloth is a super quick and easy project you can dress up or down to suit your whims, and sometimes the simplest things can bring us the greatest pleasure. I found I enjoyed working up this simple garter stitch dishcloth very much.

I went with garter stitch for the simplicity (all knit stitches!) and because a striped sequence in garter stitch shows up differently on the reverse side. I like that subtle hint of visual interest.

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I’m moving house soon and the new kitchen could use a few new dishcloths, so I think I’ll make a couple more of these over the next week. The internet is certainly not lacking in plain garter stitch dishcloth instructions, but I figured I’d write up what I did here anyway, just in case you’d like to make one too (or you know someone who might). I’ve named the “pattern,” as much as you can call it that, Housewarming, in honor of the new house this was made for. I think a stack of these all wrapped up would make a lovely housewarming gift, to boot. These instructions will yield a striped dishcloth like the one in the photos, but if you’re brand new to knitting and you don’t want to try stripes just yet, you can simply knit all the rows in the same color.

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HOUSEWARMING

Materials
– 2 different colors of 100% cotton yarn, 1 skein/ball each (you’ll only need one skein if you’re skipping the stripes). In the dishcloth pictured, the main color is white, and the contrasting color is blue.
– knitting needles
– tapestry needle to weave in ends

Finished dimensions
Worked up with worsted weight yarn on US size 6 (4mm) needles, the dishcloth came out around 8.5″ by 9″

Instructions
Cast on 40 stitches.

Using your main color, knit 4 rows back and forth.

**
Now you’ll start working with your contrasting color, but don’t break the main color yarn (it will hang from the project when you’re not using it). Knit 2 rows in the contrasting color.

Change back to your main color yarn. Work 2 rows, then twist your yarns to carry the contrasting color up the side. Work 2 more rows in your main color.
**

Repeat these 6 rows (between the **asterisks**) 11 times (you will have 12 stripes in total). Be sure to twist your yarns at the end of the even-numbered rows (except for the last four rows of your main color), so both colors are carried up the side when you’re not working with them.  You don’t have to do it this way, but this means fewer ends to weave in!

Bind off all stitches, and using the tapestry needle, weave in your ends. Step back, admire your work, and prepare to put it to good use!

vasa; or, the structural importance of seams

A few months ago I took one of Josh Bennett‘s classes at Vogue Knitting Live! Seattle. Josh is an incredible designer who’s got his hands in a bunch of different places in the knitting world, with a handknit line for Michael Bastian, and a wide body of work for Rowan and Vogue Knitting, among others. He’s also wickedly funny, and I enjoyed the class (Tips & Tricks for Making Garments Look Professional) immensely.

Josh’s stuff for Michael Bastian goes to some pretty high end retail clients (think Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenute), which also means the clients are pretty discerning and have sky-high standards. Because of this, I was really curious to hear why Josh always prefers to knit a garment flat and seam it, instead of knitting in the round (the opposite of many knitters’ preference). When you knit, you’re basically creating a fabric, and so one of the biggest takeaways from the class for me was the fact that knitting in the round puts your fabric ever so slightly on a bias, because it’s a big upward spiral, effectively tilting your columns and rows of stitches. It’s a very slight shift, but it’s there. Knitting pieces flat and seaming them together eliminates this problem, because your columns of stitches stay vertical and your rows stay horizontal where they’re supposed to.

Seaming, too, turns out to be a really important thing. There was a lot of talk about different fibers and how they act, and when working with fibers that grow quite a lot, like cottons, alpacas, or even superwash wools, seams become a source of structural importance. The class had me thinking a lot about the properties of knitted fabric and the structural importance of seams.

Enter my newest design, Vasa. I have to admit, this yarn was originally slated for Amiina. I don’t usually buy semi-solids or variegated yarns, unless they’re heathered or tweedy or a bit more traditional-looking. But I fell in love with these two colors of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light at my local yarn store, and I came home with enough skeins to make a two-color spring top (colorways are Celadon and Antler). After working up the first prototype of Amiina, I realized I needed to scrap my original plans for a raglan construction and go for really deliberate neck shaping with set-in sleeves to get the effect I wanted; I also realized that it wouldn’t hurt to work it up in a main color with more contrast, so that the stranded colorwork at the waist really popped. Long story short, I frogged the Amiina prototype and bought more yarn for Amiina, and so this lovely subtle mint green yarn sat there waiting for me while I worked on my blue and white blouse.

As I mentioned, Josh’s class had me thinking about knitted fabric and seams in a way I never had before. While working on Amiina, the amazing drape of the Tosh Merino Light became apparent pretty quickly, and I started to get an idea in my head for a striped knitted tee, sort of my own version of an oversized tee I bought at a local shop and wear all the time. In that way, you could say Vasa was a personal exercise in seaming. I still hate sewing seams, but I do really love how this top came out, and I definitely love how it shows of the drape of the fabric the yarn creates.

So, if you’re just here for pattern details: Vasa is a basic boatneck tee shirt, knit flat in two pieces and seamed together, intended to be worn with a good deal of positive ease. Tosh Merino Light is a superwash merino wool, which is fine for Seattle spring and summer, but if you live in warmer climes, I think it’d be lovely in a light cotton or linen. Because of the simple construction, I’ve priced it lower than my standard garment price, and Vasa is available for $4.00 on Ravelry and it’ll be up in the Paper Tiger store/on Etsy this week. More details, like needle size and how much yarn you’ll need, are available on the Ravelry page. Hope you like it as much as I do!

the new paper tiger hq

A few weeks ago I made a very exciting decision – I signed a lease on a studio/office space for Paper Tiger! While there are some things I loved about working from home, I feel like making the leap to a workspace outside the home has been a fantastic decision for my creative work. Change can be a little scary, but over the past few weeks I’ve been working on putting together a bright, inviting space that is both comfortable and inspiring. It’s still a work in progress, and there are a few more pieces of furniture I need to procure before it’s “done” and presentable, but I thought I would share a sneak peek of a few details of the space in progress!

For those who are curious: the succulent is Burro’s Tail; the teal fabric on the wall is a Michael Miller print I bought at Drygoods Design (available here); the ombré curtain is from Target; the dreamy pendant lamp is the Garland Light by Tord Boontje; the mirror with Norwegian on it says “to dream and to do”; and the coat rack yarn holder was totally my husband’s idea.