Odalie

At the TNNA show last spring in Indianapolis, I was taking a break from my booth and cruising the show floor. I didn’t get far before I was literally stopped in my tracks by this stunningly beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I crept closer to it, totally mesmerized. I turned to the woman in the booth and whispered reverently, “Is this your yarn?”
“No,” she said. “Sarah’s taking a break. She should be back any minute, if you want to wait.”
I stroked the yarn and gazed at it some more, but I wanted to see a little more of the show floor before I had to get back to my booth. I took note of the name, though: Fiberstory. As soon as I had another free moment, I shot back to that booth. This time, there was an adorable blonde girl around my age. “Are you Sarah?” I asked. She confirmed that she was, and that she was the dyer of this incredible yarn, and I honestly don’t remember what happened after that (don’t tell me you’ve never gone into an altered mental state around yarn). I think I babbled at her, but she was totally gracious. And as it turned out, we actually have a lot in common—we both know how to weld, of all things!

Have you ever met someone you clicked with really strongly? It happens to me pretty rarely. In general, I’m very particular about the company I keep but when I do click with people, it’s often more than a click, it’s like a gunshot. I don’t really believe that everyone has one soul mate. In my opinion, everyone has a bunch of soul mates, more like the Anne of Green Gables theory of kindred spirits. I’ll tell you though, if I liked girls, I would have asked Sarah to marry me. On the spot.

When it comes to yarn, I’ve been around the block. It takes a lot to impress me. If it’s not hand-dyed, don’t even come near me with it. And even if it is hand-dyed, it has to be really special in order to catch my attention. And I don’t mind telling you, I don’t think I’ve had such a strong reaction to a yarn since I discovered there was even such a thing as hand-dyed yarn. The depth and complexity of the colors Sarah uses make it clear that this woman is an ARTIST. My dad has said that there can be no art without metaphor, and that’s the yardstick I tend to hold all artwork against. Fiberstory yarns pass the metaphor test. They’re so evocative, it’s almost like there’s a narrative in every colorway. “Fiberstory” really is no misnomer. Seriously, I could go on. I love this yarn so much it’s disgusting.
Anyway, Sarah was kind enough to let me pick out a skein to take home and play with, along with one for my mom! (Upon finding this yarn, I immediately texted my mom to tell her to check out the website. She went almost as crazy as I did.) The yarn waited for the perfect design idea to come along, and a couple of months later, it did.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I knit. I particularly like mysteries and thrillers, but that’s neither here nor there. Sometime during the summer, I listened to The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. The book was okay—not one of my favorites, but I liked it enough. It took place in 1920′s New York City, and one of the characters, a flapper, was named Odalie, which I liked. The book also had a lot of Gatsby-esque descriptions of fancy parties including, most importantly, What They Wore. (Don’t you just love good descriptions of period costumes?) Shawls were a common element, and I began to wonder what these shawls might look like. As I listened to the book, I drew pictures and ultimately wound up designing the Odalie shawl. I decided this project was special enough to warrant using the Fiberstory yarn I’d been saving.

After it was finished, I decided I should make another version to show what it would look like without beads. (Plus, I didn’t take such good notes while knitting the first one, and I needed to figure out what I had done—the best way to do that is to knit it again, I find.) I decided this should be a job for some Phydeaux yarn that, similarly to the Fiberstory, I had been saving for something particularly special.

Now, let’s rewind one year. At my first TNNA trade show in June of 2013, I met and clicked with Brenda of Phydeaux Designs. Her booth was directly across from mine. Our first interaction went like this:
Toby: Are you Brenda? Of Phydeaux?
Brenda: Yes…
Toby: I adore your yarn! It’s so nice to meet you in person!
Brenda: Oh wow, thanks.
Toby: Did you rent a car?
Brenda: Yeah—
Toby: Amazing!! Could you take me to Michaels? And possibly Target?
Brenda: I—uh, well, sure. I need to pick something up from the print shop on the way.
Note that I had just gotten off the plane and was a bit caffeinated. Also it was my first ever trade show and I was pretty wired even without the caffeine. Brenda, however, was cool, calm and collected. Our friendship was cemented in the way that only a frenzied trip to Michaels, Target, and a print shop can do. Even though we only see each other twice a year at trade shows, we keep in touch and I consider her a good friend.
But also…have you SEEN her YARN?? It’s stunning. Seriously. If you haven’t yet, you are missing out. Brenda is a crusader against color pooling, and if you follow her on Instagram, you see the kind of love and care she puts into every skein. In addition to her wildly variegated colorways (which I love), she puts a huge amount of consideration into her semi-solids, which I think is rare. The color I used for the beadless Odalie is called “Alchemy,” and from far away it looks brown. But when you look at it closely, you can see the colors underneath—it’s iridescent the way some bird wings are. I so appreciate that sort of subtlety.

And that’s the (insanely long) story of Odalie! See it and buy it on Ravelry, here.

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Indie Design Gift-Along 2014

I keep not posting because I keep getting overwhelmed with stuff that’s happened and I feel like in order to post anything at all I have to post EVERYTHING and that is a completely terrifying prospect, so I’m just going to…not do that. Trust me, you’re not missing anything earth-shattering.

Anyway, I’m still alive. So there’s that.

Also, have you heard about the Indie Designer Gift-Along that’s happening on Ravelry? It’s kind of a cool thing. It’s a good way to get (and stay) motivated to work on holiday gifts, if you’re knitting gifts. Here’s how it works:

1. A bunch of participating designers (including yours truly) list some of their more gift-able patterns (think accessories, quick knits, etc.) for 25% off when you use the coupon code giftalong2014. The sale goes from Thursday, November 13th 8pm (US-EST) (that’s today!) through Friday, November 21 at 11:59 pm (US-EST).
2. While you’re knitting the patterns you bought, hang out in the Indie Design Gift-Along group. Show your progress, see other peoples’ work, chat, enter raffles, win prizes, etc. There are TONS of prizes, so it’s more likely than not that you’ll win something. I may have even contributed a little something myself. ;)

A whopping TWENTY of my patterns will be discounted, so if there’s anything you’ve had your eye on, now’s definitely the time.

Also, there’s a lot of cross-promotion going on so watch this space for interviews with other designers, and I’ll let you know where in the webs I might show up. ;)

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Red and Gold

New sweater!! This one is called Red and Gold. I’ll tell you a story about the name: when I was about 7 or 8, my mom was really into Emmylou Harris’ album Wrecking Ball. I remember listening to it in the car a lot, particularly the title song, Wrecking Ball. And somehow I thought she was saying “red and gold” and not “wrecking ball.” The working title of this sweater was “Red and Gold” because, well, duh. And every time I wrote “Red and Gold” on my to-do list, I thought of Wrecking Ball. So when I was trying to name this sweater, I thought of naming it…Wrecking Ball? (Vetoed because of weird connotations and also that damn Miley Cyrus song.) Emmylou? (Vetoed because…just because.)

So everyone who saw this sweater before it was released got told it had a different name. Finally, I decided to just go with the working title.

Anyway, the sweater is worked in two colors of Tosh DK (I used Tart and Bark) and one really cool thing about it is that the yarn overs in the lace button band are used as buttonholes, so you can use as many or as few buttons as you want. It’s worked in one piece from the bottom up, with my signature no-sew set-in sleeves! So basically, you only have to sew two teeny seams, at the tops of the shoulders, which is practically nothing.

See it on Ravelry (and buy it!) here.

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I’m Back!!

You know how, when you’ve left your blog for too long and tons of stuff has happened since you last posted, the thought of trying to update it with everything that’s happened is just too, too much? That’s where I’m at right now, but I still reeeeally want to tell you about everything so I’m going to take it a little at a time, okay? I think I’ll do that thing where every piece of news gets its own post so nobody feels shafted.

Whew. Hooboy. See? I’m feeling less twitchy already. Sort of.

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Guest Blogger: My Mom

So, as you’ve noticed, I haven’t had very much time to blog lately. To be honest, it’s been stressing me out. I told my mom about it and she offered to do a guest post! She’s adorable. Here it is:

Hi All:
You’ve probably been wondering what’s been going on in the yarny life of Toby Roxane. I can vouch for the fact that she’s been up to her earlobes! So much so that she hasn’t had an opportunity to write and let you know what’s been happening for herself. As someone pretty close to Toby, I’m happy to be a guest blogger and keep you in the loop of the crazy world of Toby Roxane.

Well, to begin, Toby pretty much told you herself what went on in her life during the month of January. But as January froze into February, she got several invitations to do trunk shows and book signings at several of our LYSs. This was somewhat frenetic but also a lot of fun. Toby always loves to meet the people who make her patterns. It’s inspiring and fuels the fire that becomes her inspiration. Her next one is coming up this Sunday, March 30th, at Knit-A-Bit in Westfield, NJ.

In February at The Village Knitter, in Babylon, NY, she premiered a new class, Anatomy of a Shawl. An all-day workshop that teaches the techniques for making and designing shawls in every shape and size imaginable, it was lots of fun for all. Another class that is soon to premiere is Understanding Charts. This is a terrific class for all of you who have always loved knitted lace and/or cables, but find it difficult to follow a chart.

Toby’s got several new ideas in the works. Hint: Sweaters! Sweaters! Sweaters! So if you think her shawls are spectacular wait until you see these cardigans and pullovers. Inspired by the hand-dyed yarns she loves, the shapes and construction are interesting and clever and the yarns are simply scrumptious. More to come very soon about plans for a new book…this time, it’s sweaters.

Spring TNNA is very early this year. It’s the first weekend in May in Indianapolis and Toby will be there. Second only to spending time with her fans and friends is socializing with the industry knitting people. She’ll get to see and squeeze some of the new yarns that are coming out soon from all your favorite yarn folk.

She’s just itching to dye another batch of yarn, so that’s an undertaking that will get underway as soon as she purchases the yarn to dye. There’s nothing more satisfying than designing your own knitted garments and knitting them in yarns that you’ve dyed yourself!

And life has been anything but dull with the search for a new studio. Hopefully there will be news on that front shortly.

So, watch this spot to catch up with the days in the life of knitwear designer and all-around fun gal, Toby Roxane.

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2014, in List Form

Oh, my readers, so many things have happened since I was here last. 2014 has been a whirlwind so far.

1. Sometime around Halloween I decided that it would be a good idea to try and release a book in time for TNNA in January. Not all the samples were done, and I gave myself the deadline of Thanksgiving to finish all the shawls, write all the patterns, and take and edit all the photos. Miraculously, I (more-or-less) succeeded, and got everything to my very gracious tech editor and graphic designer, neither of whom, upon hearing I needed everything done by Christmas, said what they were thinking (which was probably that they wanted me to die and go to Knitter Hell, where you knit nothing but garter stitch, only by purling) and simply got it done. And thus, I present you with Everwear: London Underground Vol. 2!!
Everwear-Toby Roxane Designs
You can see all the patterns (and purchase the ebook, if you’re so inclined) here. The printed copy made its debut at…

2. TNNA! The National Needlearts Association had its winter trade show in San Diego a few weeks ago. I shared a booth with the lovely Stephannie Tallent of Sunset Cat Designs. This was my first winter show and it was somewhat quieter than the one I went to in June in Columbus. Still, people seemed enthusiastic, and I always seem to have a grand time getting to party with knitters.
After the trade show, I spent a few days in LA with an old, dear friend who lives there now. It was SO nice to have a break from the polar vortex (I don’t typically mind the cold so much, but there’s a certain point…). We ate amazing food, picnicked on the beach, drank ridiculous cocktails (well, that was mostly me), and kitten-sat for this adorable (if violent) kitten. My friend also very patiently drove me around to all the Los Angeles yarn shops for me to hawk my wares and make new friends. Not necessarily in that order. It was hard to come home, especially because…

3. I had to move out of my studio. I’m extremely bummed about this. The little house I was in with some friends is being sold by the owner so we can’t rent anymore, and all my stuff is currently in my parents’ garage. I’m using the dining room table as a workspace (even right now!) which is a pain in the ass because, since I’m basically nocturnal, my most productive work hours tend to coincide with my parents wanting me to clear off the table so they can eat dinner on it. I realize I sound bratty, but if you could see how tiny this house is, you’d see the impossibility of three people trying to live and work in here. I’ll keep you posted on new developments, but…don’t hold your breath. I’m feeling petulant. Indulge me for a moment.

4. Signature Needle Arts is now selling my patterns through their website! They did a lovely little interview with me on their blog, which you should read. This is a company I really believe in and I’m excited and proud to be working with them. More on this soon.

5. Following some illness and a hospitalization, my grandma on my dad’s side passed away last Wednesday. The funeral was Friday morning and things are getting back to normal now, but it’s been hard on the whole family, particularly my dad.

6. I’m running my very first Mystery Shawl Knit-Along!! This is a BIG DEAL and you should sign up if you haven’t already. I worked with the mind-blowingly talented folk over at The Verdant Gryphon to create two colorways specially for the shawl. When you sign up for the knit-along, you’ll receive a coupon code for a discount on the yarn. The first clue comes out February 7th, and you can see much more information about it here.

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Adventures with Farm Animals

As I promised a very, very long time ago, here are some pictures from my birthday weekend. We went to upstate New York and walked across the Walkway Over the Hudson, which was extremely beautiful and extremely windy.

Here’s our little group.

And here’s some train tracks, as seen from the bridge.

After that, we went to a farm, where I made lots of friends:

(many points if you can name the shawl and hat I’m wearing)


GOATS!!

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It Was My Birthday and Then I Got the Flu

…and that’s pretty much my excuse for everything this week.

Don’t you hate how when you’re sick your brain doesn’t work right? I can barely count to four, I shudder to think of all the important things I’ve forgotten to do this week (not that I have any idea what they are), and I can’t remember the beginning of this sentence. I just dragged myself off the couch and out of the house for the first time all week today—-now I’m at my studio and I can’t honestly remember what it was I needed to do here, I just want to take a nap.

I did have a lovely time celebrating my birthday this past weekend, though-—there was a river, some farm animals, and some homemade donuts. Pictures to follow. I mean it this time.

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Happy 26th Birthday to Me

Hey guess what? Tomorrow, October 28th, is my 26th birthday. Why is this important? Well, not only is my health insurance running out, I am running a discount!

Buy any of my patterns or ebooks on Ravelry and get 26% off your purchase. Have you been thinking of making my White Swan shawl? Or a pair of Intwined Mitts? Tomorrow is the perfect time to buy the patterns!

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Stitch Mountain

This might be the thing I’m most excited about. But first a bit of backstory: Laura Zander is the owner of Jimmy Bean’s Wool. A little while back, she came out with the book Stitch Red, which kicked off the whole Red campaign.

Now she’s got another book coming out in December, called Stitch Mountain. I learned about this back in the very beginning of January, when she put out a call for designers. The concept behind Stitch Mountain is explained here, but basically it highlights the connection (and potential for connection) between the US Ski and Snowboard Administration and knitting. They have about 30 athletes signed on, and all the patterns in the book are inspired by something each athlete either has or wishes they had.

So anyway, I designed a sweater for Picabo Street, the Olympic skier. I sent it off in March and forgot about it. Now the book is almost ready to come out, the Stitch Mountain website launched, and I got a look at the cover of the book. Lo and behold (I hope you’re sitting down),

MY SWEATER IS ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK. THE COVER. THE COVER!!!!!

Don’t get TOO excited–there are five things on the cover and it’s not a huge picture, but STILL. The COVER!!!!! I freaked out so hard when I saw it that I had to run a lap around the block before I could go to bed (this all happened at like, midnight).

Anyway, the inspiration for the sweater mainly came from Picabo–she wanted a white turtleneck, maybe with some patterning somewhere. Now, let me tell you a secret: I have never been skiing. I have never been anywhere near a ski slope. This is not a culture I’m familiar with. Still, sweaters are something I can get behind. And I did used to be an almost-competitive figure skater (around the time I was doing that, when I was about 12, my anxiety level was pretty high and competition was just not something I needed) so winter sports are not a TOTAL mystery to me. I can imagine this sweater as the perfect thing to throw on over a leotard and tights for wandering around the ice rink during breaks from skating practice.

Back to the sweater. I looked though some stitch dictionaries and happened upon a pattern that looked like snowflakes. It’s similar to the Quilted Stockinette stitch I use all the time (Pennywood, X-Mitts, Smockerie) and I thought it would be perfect as a band across the middle of the sweater. And after that, it pretty much designed itself.

My little knitting circle sometimes meets at Barnes and Noble. When this book hits the shelves, there is not going to be a soul in that store that doesn’t know I DESIGNED THAT SWEATER ON THE COVER. The staff is going to have to put it on the front table just to shut me up. If I’m annoying enough, maybe they’ll even let me do a signing!

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