SoYo Photo Shoot with Kirstin LaMonde

Probably my favorite of the group.

Probably my favorite of the group.

This week I had the privilege of working with photographer Kirstin LaMonde, who was shooting beauty shots for one of my clients, SoYo, a lovely locally owned frozen yogurt shop in Burlington. I sometimes take quick product shots for clients (and, in fact, have taken one or two for SoYo), who don’t have the budget for a photographer. This morning, I was reminded by Kirstin’s ridiculous skill and control of her medium how silly it is that I even try.  Professional photography pays off every time. Just look at these shots. Beautiful, and just what I need to create for ads and collateral for the shop.


Maggie Pace designs I want to carve.


Maggie Pace:

Thanks, Lisa, for posting my designs!

Originally posted on Lisa Lillibridge:

Maggie Pace design seedyflowers_2 Maggie Pace design Maggie Pace design corn sunflower_2

Maggie creates these cool designs in illustrator. I want to turn them into cool designs carved into wood. I am really into the process of my work—composition, color, carving and experimenting with finishes. I think the design part is becoming less interesting to me. I would like to interpret other peoples designs and turn them into something totally different.

Have a fabulous creative weekend, wherever your projects take you. Here’s a great story about the brain and creativity from Fast Company.

View original

Graphing and Knitting a Custom Colorwork Design

I charted the "L" first so I could knit successfully knit the motif.

My daughter in the SuperL hat, before I sent it off to my friend in California. Follow along with my process of making this hat, and you will learn how to create your own custom colorwork design.

This week I made a hat for my childhood friend who needs to channel her inner superhero. I wanted to send her encouragement in the best way I know how, which is, of course, through knitting. For as long as I can remember, her “signature” has been Laverne’s infamous “L” from the show Laverne and Shirley.  So it seemed only fitting to design a hat that merged the Laverne “L” with the Superwoman “S” as a way to send my support and to let her know what a Kick-Ass Lady I think she is.

As I was charting out the motifs, it dawned on me that the way I started designing in knitting was by graphing and knitting hats with my best friend in college. We dreamed up crazy motifs (often sketched on hand-drawn graph paper) and knitted them up, using yarn we had found in thrift stores. I had so much fun chart-designing like this, I made hat after hat for just about every member of my family. I thought the SuperL hat was a perfect opportunity to teach you all how to create your own custom colorwork knits. Who knows, you may catch the design bug, like me.

(This gets super technical and will teach you how to chart your own custom design, figure out cast on amounts, and choose between Fair Isle and Intarsia knitting. Skip if you don’t want the technical breakdown!)

Fair Isle (aka ‘stranded colorwork)’: A type of colorwork in knitting where yarns are carried across the back of the work when they are not in use.
Intarsia: A type of colorwork in knitting where colors not in use are dropped.  Bobbins are required to work Intarsia.

1. I MADE GRAPH PAPER THE SAME GAUGE AS THE YARN: The gauge on the yarn I used is approximately 28 stitches per 4″, so I created graph paper that had 28 squares per every 4″. That way I would know how big the motif would be without having to test knit it. I created my graph paper in Illustrator, but it’s not hard to make it using Microsoft Excel or using the Tables feature in Microsoft Word. Also, you can skip this step and use regular graph paper, but it is helpful to understand the motif’s scale at the start to avoid lots of trial and error in the knitting.

2. I TRACED, THEN CHARTED THE DESIGN: I found a Superwoman emblem on the internet and sized it to the actual dimension I wanted. I traced the design onto the graph paper. I knew the scale of the design would be the same as the drawing because my graph paper was sized according to my knitting. If your graph paper is not equivalent, you’ll need to actually knit up a swatch of the motif to  get the sizing correct.

Next, I used the tracing to tell me which squares of the grid to fill in. This is the tricky part. I couldn’t follow the “S” exactly, of course, because curves are hard to make out of diagonal lines. I did this step in pencil so that I could fill in and erase squares as needed to get the chart to look as close to the tracing as possible.

I repeated these steps for the “L” motif. (Photos #1 & 2)




3. I KNIT A TEST SWATCH: I wanted to make sure what I was seeing on the paper was going to translate into the yarn, so I knit one of the motifs to make sure. (Photo # 1)

4. I DID THE MATH TO FIGURE OUT HOW MANY STITCHES TO CAST ON: With so many repeats going on, this is a little harder than it would seem. Both the “S” and “L” motifs are 35 stitches across. I wanted my hat to be around  22″. The gauge of the yarn is 4″ per 28 sts. So I took 22″ and divided it by 4″, which gave me 5.5. Then I multiplied 5.5 x 28 sts. That gave me 154 stitches for cast on to make a 22″ hat.  I used 154 as my starting point.

Each motif is made up of 35 sts (aka 35 grid squares). If I repeated both motifs twice, for a total of 4 motifs, I would use up 140 of those 154 sts, leaving me 14 sts for the white spaces between: 14 divided by 4 = 3.5. You can’t have 1/2 a stitch, so I needed to be left with a number that was divisible by 4 for the 4 motifs, like 156: 156-140=16. (Another way to look at it is each motif is 35 color sts + 4 white space sts or 39 sts total. 39 x 4 = 156.)

Because I wanted a mutlicolor brim I knew I wasn’t done yet. The brim repeat was this:  3 sts white, 3 sts orange, 3 sts pink. That meant my cast on needed to be divisible by 9. I could either start with 9 x 17 = 153 stitches, or 9 x 18 = 162 stitches. If I started with the 153 sts, I could increase in the all white row after the brim to 156, setting me up for the 39 stitch motif.  Or I could start with 162 stitches and decrease two stitches to 160, making each motif 40 stitches. I chose to start with 162 and make a larger hat than initially intended. I made this choice because 1. the yarn didn’t have very much give. 2. Fair Isle knitting reduces the give. 3. I kinda like a looser hat these days.  Either formula would have worked.

5. I KNIT THE HAT IN THE ROUND, IN FAIR ISLE (A BIG FAIL): I started in Fair Isle and carried the white along with all the colors, while working in the round. When knitting Fair Isle in the round, each row of the chart  is always read from from right to left.  Though the motifs were turning out correctly using this technique, the knitting itself was hard and looked like shit. The colors showed through the white, the knitting was uneven and had zero stretch. Plus it was nearly impossible to knit because the yarn was getting so tangled.  I found a major mistake and had to rip, which caused a huge mess (Photos # 2&3) and forced me to rethink my approach.

6. THEN I KNIT THE HAT IN A FAIR ISLE / INTARSIA COMBO, AND IT WORKED: I made color bobbins for each of the four motifs (Photo #4). I used one strand of white across the entire hat, but picked up and carried (then dropped) the colors for each motif. Using this Intarsia hybrid technique, I had to knit the hat back and forth in rows versus in the round. That way my colored yarn was available at each row turn. In the round, it would have been abandoned on the wrong side. I also had to follow the charts a little differently: rather than always reading from right to left, I had to follow the knit rows right to left and the purl rows left to right. (If you look at the S chart in Photo #1, you can see my little arrows to remind myself which direction I was supposed to going; it’s easy to read a row in the wrong direction.) Turned out, this was the winning technique. The knitting was much easier; the bobbin yarn didn’t tangle as I progressed, as long as I kept the bobbins orderly as I knit; and the colorwork looked way better. I was careful to carry my yarns every third stitch so the floaters were nice and tidy at the back. (Photo #5)

7. I FINISHED THE HAT:  After the knitting was complete, I seamed the side and wove in all ends. I carefully steamed this hat and it made a huge difference. The colorwork relaxed and laid much better after steaming. I also found that I had made  a few mistakes in the colorwork. I fixed these using the duplicate stitch.

8. I MAILED IT OFF: My friend should get the hat and the card I made for her today!!!

Strong and Sassy Card

I made this card for my friend and included it in the box with the hat.

This Week’s Project: Apothecary-Inspired Labels in a Vintage Palette

Ideas for Sonoma Pantry sugars

The final concept sheet I submitted to my client. I know she’s moving forward with the project, but she wants me to guess which one she likes best. I don’t know? What do you think?

This week I created several label concepts for a new line of gourmet baking sugars. My client asked me to make a label that felt “high-end” while at the same time looked like it could have “come from grandma’s cupboard.” Kind of disparate ideas, but I had a hunch I knew what she was going for.

The packaging is a craft paper bag with a two-toned tie, and I thought an apothecary inspired label would give the bag a hip vibe, while still meeting my client’s “grandma’s cupboard” needs. Check out the photos below to see how my research led to the final designs.

Turns out the apothecary concept, paired with a vintage color palette hit just the right mark because my client is moving forward with the project. I got feedback that she loved the palette and had a clear favorite in terms of design and wanted me to guess which one it was. I’m not sure. I have a hunch it’s the Caster Sugar in the swirly double outline. What do you think?

Learn To Make A Fun Beanie & Chunky Pom Pom

Maggie Pace in Reflective Hat

My Reflective Hat Class launched today on CreativeBug. That’s me on set wearing the hat.

CreativeBug just released my newest project. Here it is — a simple beanie made from an interesting yarn that reflects light — imagine the reflective strips bikers wear for visibility, but integrated into a yarn. You can’t really see the reflective material during the day; making the hat a pleasant surprise as it glints at night and in flash photographs. Get the class and pattern free with a 14-day subscription at CreativeBug.

Reflective Hat by Maggie Pace

I teach a simple 2 x 2 rib, adding colors, and shaping on double-pointed needles.


At the end of the class, I show you how to make this easy chunky pom pom.

A Little Free Time & A Big Tangent

Maggie Pace Sharpie Flowers

1. No tangent yet:  For my first card idea, I free-handed a pattern with pencils and Sharpie markers. Started out great.

The kids just returned to school today after a winter break that began on Feb. 21. Our friends from California visited and while they were here, my husband, Steve, and I both celebrated our birthdays. I took a break from work so I could focus on hanging with our friends and the kids. That was a good idea through Day 6. But then our friends left, and I was left in the house with a 10 and 13 year-old and no plan. So I hatched one: Let’s Make Birthday Cards! It all started promisingly with Sharpie markers, pencils, and the three of us tapping into some much-needed right-brain space. Problem was, the kids were able to emerge from their right-brain space, while I could not.

Maggie Pace drawing

2. Seeds of Tangent Planted:  I hated the finished product. Initially I thought it would be cool to invert the pattern colors and add the text “The Other Half of Me.” Turns out that idea was cheesy and girlie looking.

Instead, I remain in a bizarre artsy tangent involving multiple drawings, vintage maps from the paper store, a scanner and a 5-hour tutorial on the graphic design website

Maggie Pace pattern drawing

3. Tangent Begins:  So I isolated the part of the drawing I liked and I scanned it, thinking I could recolor it in Illustrator and use it in something else. Me with spare time, not always a good thing.

Let me tell you, I have learned ALOT about live-tracing original artwork into Illustrator so it can be quickly recolored and used in different applications. But I have not delivered a birthday card to my husband. Sorry, Steve — I’ll get it to you soon! Because, as you know, while I may be a geek with an annoying case of ADD, I always finish your birthday presents.  

I live-traced the scan in Illustrator so I could separate the colors and play with the design.

4. Tangent in Full Force: I quickly forgot my goal was to make Steve a more manly card. Instead I geeked out on a 5 hour online tutorial that produced this cool experimentation.

Maggie Pace Girl on Suitcase

5. Tangent Reigned In: Now the pattern’s found its way on the suitcase in Birthday Card V2, currently underway. See why this all takes me so long?

Lynne Barr’s Classes Live on CreativeBug

TwistyHat-Lynn Barre

Take Lynne’s class on CreativeBug just to understand the way her brain thinks about knitting.

CreativeBug announced today that Lynne Barr’s Twist Top hat class is going live on the site. I was the artist coach for Lynne’s shoot, and as I watched her knit for four days, I learned that she does things with needles and yarn most knitters wouldn’t believe possible. She has a technique called CAPS — an acronym for Continuously Applied Pieces — in which she uses a variation of short rows to create radical shapes worked from a single strand of yarn. For instance, the Square Arches slippers from her book, The Shape of Knitting, require no seaming or picking up stitches.  The way Lynne thinks about knitting is groundbreaking and certainly worth checking out, and the Twist Top hat is a great entree into her designs.

square arches slippers

Lynne Barr’s square arches slippers from her book, The Shape of Knitting.

Behind the Scenes on CreativeBug Shoot


Maker extraordinaire Courtney Cerruti is the genius who designed this set  for my shoot. I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Courtney also coached me through each and every minute on camera. My job would be impossible without her. This was especially true on this shoot because, in the 11th hour, CreativeBug asked me to do two more classes: PomPoms 101 and a Reflective Beanie Hat. The hat is made with this new & interesting Red Heart Reflective yarn, which carries embedded strands that shimmer at night. Sounds cheesy, I know, but I actually really liked the project by the end. The combo of the grounding gray background plus the bright pink and yellow just really worked — especially after I added a GI-NORMOUS pink Pom Pom.

How To Make a Tiny, Tiny Pom Pom with a Fork

moccasin slipper for babies

The finished moccasin with pom poms that I designed for my CreativeBug shoot.

I made pom pom after pom pom to get just the right size for the baby moccasins I designed for the CreativeBug shoot, and they all came out too big. I finally figured out that by using just two tines of a fork I could make the tiniest cutest pom poms on the planet. Here’s how:

Final Projects for CB Shoot


Final projects for CreativeBug shoot are done! Here they are . . .  As I developed the designs for the Baby’s First Knits shoot, I kept on coming up with more options, and none of us could decide what to ax. So now, my classes that were supposed to include one hat, one set of booties and one blanket will now include two hats, two sets of booties and one blanket. Each class requires multiple steps to be pre-knit prior to filming (called stepouts) so we can quickly film every section of the project from cast-on to bind-off. In short, the added designs mean a lot more knitting for me, but I’m happy my producers decided to have me demo everything. I think the additional options will yield more appealing classes.