Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Pattern Available: Michael


It’s cold in St. Paul in November - really cold. You’ll wish you’d brought your hat kind of cold. Lucky for you, someone who knits loves you. This masculine, reversible, bottom up hat offers “roll it up and stuff it in your pocket just in case” flexibility for the traveling businessman. Oh, and it’s warm.

Yarn Requirements: Approximately 185 yards of worsted weight yarn. Shown in Nature Spun (color: Irish Shamrock) by Brown Sheep Company.
Needles: Size 5 (3.75mm) 16” circular needles and a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) in the same size.
Supplies: Stitch marker, tapestry needle. Row counter is helpful.
Gauge: 22 sts/28 rows = 4” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch Change needle size as needed to obtain gauge.



Notes: Hat is knit in the round, rim/bottom up. Pattern instructions are written and charted.

Extra special thanks to LeslieM80 and her husband, Michael, for the inspiration.

Sizes: Men’s - Will fit head 22-25” Available now on Ravelry - $3.00

Class Listings Updated

Please be sure to check the Classes page.  Classes for January - June 2014 have been listed. All classes are held at Village Wools - 5916 Anaheim Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113
To register, either stop in or call 505-883-2919

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sam's Hat & Scarf

I'm not so sure what took me so long to post this picture.  When Sam visited this summer he accomplished great things with his knitting.  He finished this scarf.  He'd started it two years earlier and hadn't accomplished much more than 8 inches or so over two visits.  He finished the other 7/8ths of the scarf in quick order this year, and still had time to knit an entire hat.  He was very proud (and rightly so!) and looked so handsome modeling them.  I expect about now they are keeping him quite warm.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Pattern Available: Slipstream

This scalene shaped shawl will remind you of paddling down the river, coasting along in the white, bubbling slipstream flow between rocks and over shelves into the quiet pools of deep peaceful blue on a sunny afternoon.

Finished Measurements and Yarn Requirements will vary based on your yarn & needle selection as well as chosen number of Body Chart repeats. As a general guide I offer the following:

Sizes / Blocked Dimensions:
Small: (11 body chart repeats) 50” wide x 28” deep
Large: (16 1/2 body chart repeats) 73” wide x 40” deep

Yarn Requirements:
Small: Approximately 420 yards of fingering weight yarn
Large: Approximately 840 yards of fingering weight yarn
Shown in Merino Light (color: cousteau) by Madeline Tosh.

Needles:
Size 4 (3.5mm) 40-47” circular needles
Note: For cast on and setup, I prefer to work on either short straights or DPN’s. It provides more control and less clutter, allowing you to establish your setup with more stability.

Supplies:
Cable needle, tapestry needle for weaving in ends, and row counter may be helpful.

Gauge:
Approximately 24 sts in pattern = 4” (10cm).
Your gauge will vary depending on your yarn and needle choice.

Available now on Ravelry - $4.00


New Pattern Available: Claire

Just because I love surprising you and hearing you laugh.  I love that you’re married to Roger.  You are such a beautiful example of unconditional love and generosity.  Look carefully.  There are a lot of things woven into this design – your kids, their spouses, your grandkids, and lots of love.  Just because.

Sizes:
Women’s – Will fit head 22-25”

Yarn Requirements:
Approximately 200 yards of worsted weight yarn.
Shown in Cascade 220
(220 yards, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, color: 9419 – Vermeer Blue).

Recommended Needles:
Size 5 (3.75mm) 16” circular needle and a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) in the same size

Gauge:
22 sts = 4” (10 cm) in pattern
Change needle size to obtain gauge.

Supplies:
Cable needle, tapestry needle for weaving in ends, ruler and four (4) stitch markers.  Row counter may be helpful.

50% of the profits from the sale of this pattern will be donated to Mercy Health System of Maine in honor of the pattern’s namesake, my mother-in-law, Claire, who is bravely battling cancer.

Available now on Ravelry - $3.50


Friday, November 22, 2013

Coupon Code!


Pattern Design in Progress

I've got a new sock design in progress.  This time, I've given myself the challenge of creating a design that can be knit in two sizes and worked either from the toe up or top down.  And just because that seemed entirely too simple, each foot is a mirrored pattern (left/right specific).  Essentially this design will be four patterns in one.  I'm working with techniques to make the patterns in such a manner that you can knit one sock toe up, the other top down, and have them appear as a proper match.  It's a fun challenge.

Do you have a directional preference when knitting socks?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Knitting to Go

I'm always knitting. Okay, almost always. I can't very well knit while typing, but as soon as I master holding the needles between my toes, I'll try.  I knit in the car (as a passenger, not driver), in restaurants waiting for food, in waiting rooms, while watching movies, and generally whenever I have an idle moment.  So, when a trip away from home occurs, I have to plan accordingly.  

In a week's time I work on multiple projects, 30, 45, 60 minutes at a time.  Weekends often afford me two or three hour stints.  A trip across country by plane is a totally different animal.  I'm looking at a potential five to eight hours of confined knitting opportunity.  There is no running into the studio to change up projects or grab a missed tool.  Planning is required.

One of my favorite movies is "Best in Show".  It is a mockumentary about dog show people, and covers not only the dogs' show performances, but the trials of preparing for and traveling to the show as humans.  When I think of packing knitting for a trip, I'm reminded of one of the couples followed in the movie as they argue over how many kimonos one man is packing for the four day trip to Philadelphia (incidentally it's around seven if I remember correctly.)  In my mind, a six day trip with about 16 hours of flight time will require about 22 projects.  I'm trying to calculate how much space one less pair of socks will take in my luggage if I promise to complete a pair on the flight out.  I could get away with two fewer pair if I knit one pair on the flight out, buy yarn at my destination and knit another pair during the first four days of the visit so I can wear the second pair I knit on the flight home.  Then again, if I knit a pair on the flight out, and complete the 1/2 done sweater in the first four days, I could wear the socks and sweater home and have more room for yarn purchases in my return luggage, otherwise, I'll need to accidentally leave something behind for a relative to mail to me or knit myself another piece of luggage.  See the madness?  Then again, if you are a knitting addict like myself, you may only see the logic.  Is there therapy for this (and does it include fiber retail)?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

You know when...

You know that moment when you realize that you should have been listening to that little voice that has been nagging you for the past, oh, let's just say, 8 hours of the knitting project you are working on? Yeah, "that moment". I was just there.  It's kind of funny to look at what follows that moment, because everything that follows that moment is what you probably should have done immediately before you started knitting, with the exception, reasonably, of the swearing, crying, and tearing out.  But first, I digress...

I've got a lot going on right now; you know, stress.  We all have it.  Sometimes it's just deeper and more of an obstacle than others.  Like any knitter, I decided an easy, frivolous, mindless project was in order to soothe my soul and fill what little down time I have so that I wouldn't obsess over the things I don't have control of.  And so, I selected a pattern, pulled the perfect combination of yarns from my stash and set upon said "mindless" knitting (insert wild laughter here.)

At this juncture, I'd like to make a suggestion:  If you find yourself looking for a "mindless, soul soothing knit project" with the intent of de-stressing your life, pick a project you've done before, successfully, and loved. Do not do what I did.

The pattern I selected came in two languages.  This should have been warning flag #1.  If the pattern comes in two languages, you might be wise to determine which of the languages is native to the designer, and if that language differs from your native language.  Now, before you throw things, I will say, there are some wonderful designers out there who are either very fluent in multiple languages, or who have reliable, accurate translators.  For this particular pattern, this is not the case.  It is merely by the grace of the gods that the original pattern and native language of the designer in this case is German, and I have a good friend, whose native language is also German, and who happens to be an expert knitter. I know we'll sort it out (if and when I release the project from the pile of shame).

Warning flag #2 should have been when it "just didn't look right".  I'm going to state the obvious here: If it doesn't look right, it isn't.  I ripped back 3 or 4 times because it didn't look right.  I managed to make changes to make it look "better" but didn't take the time to match "better" against the completed project photos.  That too, would have been smart.  Ravelry provides such a luxury of resources to us, including millions of photos of completed projects.

Warning flag #3 is, of course, "Little Voice".  Why, oh why, don't we listen to Little Voice?  Little Voice is reason, responsibility, reflection and your rudder to smoother sailing.  It's your knitting GPS... nagging you to make a u-turn at your next opportunity rather than 8 hours into what is clearly the wrong path.

Someday I'm going to find a way to amplify "Little Voice" for all knitters.  That is my million dollar idea, because I am yet to meet a knitter who hasn't said at least once to me that they "should have listened to that tiny voice telling them" to check the pattern, gauge, errata, picture... AND I'm yet to learn to listen to it myself.

So, what happened in "that moment"?  Well, there was a long, silent pause.  Then there was a flurry of activity and research, including a lot of squinting at pictures, re-reading English pattern instructions, copying German text into an online translator, laughing in amusement, squinting at pictures, reading other knitters notes in vain, re-reading English pattern instructions, re-reading pattern instructions translated by a computer from German, laughing bitterly, ripping back MILES of yarn, re-knitting a section, squinting at pictures, ripping through the house to find reading glasses, more effective squinting, re-reading English pattern instructions, stuffing it all in a bag, and leaving a message for my German speaking friend and tossing said bag onto the pile of shame, secretly wishing the whole damn pile would catch fire. Did I mention that the knitting was in one room, the computer in another and the pattern in yet a third room, and that only at the very end, whilst wondering why my reading glasses were in the bathroom, when I packed it all up did it occur to me that the entire knit-fit I had just thrown would have been far less stressful and exhausting had I moved all components to one location?  Yeah.  Little Voice one, Me zero.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What makes you happy?

Today is a GREAT day!

I received my shipment of yarn - 4630 yards of dye-able woolly joy, I had brunch with a dear friend, dinner is in the crock pot and already smells wonderful, I scored an incredible deal (50+% OFF!) on a couple very cool items for my wardrobe, the 36th person has signed up for my Mystery Sock KAL, and in just a little while, I'm headed out to my LYS to visit with friends and teach a Yarn Dyeing class. An all round fabulous day.

What makes you happy?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mystery Sock KAL - General Info / Links


I'm very excited to announce that I will be hosting a Mystery Sock KAL beginning November 15th.  Those wishing to participate are encouraged to visit my Ravelry group for information and to sign up for early notification.

Early Sign-Ups Thread
Pre-Event Information (dates, materials, general info)



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Pattern Available: Ship's Ashore


“I sat for years awaiting my ship to come ashore,
testing the winds and looking toward the horizon. 
Want was much and need was more,
then I picked up the oars.
Now, my ship’s ashore.” -JML

Finished Measurements and Yarn Requirements will vary based on your yarn & needle selection as well as chosen number of Body Chart repeats.  As a general guide I offer the following:

Sizes:
Blocked dimensions (3 body chart repeats): 74” wide x 27” deep

Yarn Requirements: Approximately 490 yards of fingering weight yarn for shawl as shown (3 body chart repeats).
Shown in Fino (color: pocketwatch) by Manos del Uruguay.
Approximately 630 yards of fingering weight yarn for shawl worked with 4 body chart repeats.

Needles: Size 8 (5mm) 47-60” circular needles
Note: For garter stitch tab and first couple of rows I prefer to work on either short straights or DPN’s.  It provides more control and less clutter, allowing you to establish your setup with more stability.

Supplies: Four (4) Stitch markers (sm), tapestry needle.  Row counter may be helpful.

Gauge: Your gauge will vary depending on your yarn choice and number of pattern repeats.

Available now on Ravelry - $4.00

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There are a few spots left...

Sample of Hand Painted Yarn Using
Techniques Presented in this Class
Tuesday, November 5; 2-5 pm ~ Yarn Dyeing with Acid Dyes

Love those hand-painted yarns? Learn how easy and fun it is to create your own custom colorways using Jacquard Acid Dyes.  Class will cover choosing colors, basic dye preparation, various application methods, over-dyeing, “breaking” dyes and heat setting.  Please wear old clothes that you don’t mind making a colorful artistic impression on, and non-slip shoes.  Bring 2-3 skeins of white, cream, light grey or light pastel worsted or DK weight WOOL or WOOL BLEND yarn (no cotton) and note taking materials. NOTE: Yarn should be in skein format.  Students with balls of yarn should arrive at the store 30-45 minutes before class to meet with instructor to re-skein yarn.

This class is always great fun.  Please either call or drop by the shop today to sign up.

Who's up for a mystery?

I've had several requests over the past year to host a Mystery Knit Along, and so, I've created a special new sock design for just that purpose.  Interested?  Please leave me a message over in my Ravelry Group (HERE) for early notification.  I am aiming to begin the KAL November 15th.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Pattern / New Class

This new design is the pattern featured in the upcoming "My Second Shawl" class at Village Wools in October.  Be sure to check my "Classes" page for details.

Class will cover working two charts simultaneously - which sounds much more complex than it is.  By working two charts at once, you achieve the center panel of lace seen in the photo at right.

This shawl was worked in 470 yards of  Manos del Uruguay's Fino (colorway: Pocketwatch) on a 60" US Size 8 circular needle (working back and forth).

The pattern is very flexible, allowing the knitter to up-or-downsize the shawl by simply working more or fewer repeats of the body chart.

This shawl is currently on display at Village Wools.  Drop by to see it in person and to register for this class.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering...

Today only, in memory of the unsung heroes of 9/11, I'm offering a FREE copy of Salty Dog Men's Hat.
Please feel free to pass this on, but I ask that you link back to this post so others can see this amazing video.
Thank you.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

I knit, therefore I am...

...tired, sore and surprised.  Wow.  I'm sure any athlete who had suffered down time from an injury would laugh at my naivety on this one.  I haven't knit in a little over 5 weeks.  I never imagined how much my muscles would have atrophied in that time period.  I joyously sat down last night and picked up my knitting.  I knit about 5 rows before the fatigue hit.  My wraps were suddenly all loosey-goosey. Needles started missing their marks and stitches got split.  Speed halved. Gauge went right out the window.  I stumbled through the last row the way a toddler argues his case to "stay up late" whilst nodding off.  It was sad. I found myself thinking back to when I first started knitting, frustrated by the inaccuracy and slow progress. It's going to take me longer to bounce back from this than I had hoped.

I did manage to wind yarn for my next OWL project in the HPKCHC group on Ravelry.  Now I just need to get back into shape for this challenge.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another bit of tatting...

Here is today's attempt at tatting. Like all my other hobbies, I'm over-thinking and obsessing to the point of dreaming about stitches and designs.  We'll see how long this fascination lasts or if when I'm allowed to knit again it dies off.

I think the pendant bead I chose might be too heavy for this piece, but it doesn't become misshapen when I hang it.  I may need to add a bead to the center of the tatting just for balance. Either way, I think it's pretty.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tatting!

I've always wanted to learn to tat.  I've tried several times over the years to teach myself to tat with an old shuttle that had been either my Great-Grandmother's or my Great-Aunt's.  I'm not sure which one of them was the tatter, although my guess is my Great-Grandmother.  Regardless, my attempts were not successful.

Recently a friend showed me needle tatting, which immediately made sense to me.  I ordered a selection of tatting needles, which came with some sample threads, and purchased a pattern book. When the needles arrived, I turned on YouTube and found a tutorial.  The picture on the left represents my first effort.

The thread color is nothing I'd choose for myself. Honestly, I don't like variegated threads for tatting.  I do like the look of two color work, and hope to build my skills up to that.

I showed this little bit off to my husband, all proud that I'd managed to make something other than a string of misplaced knots.  He chuckled and told me he expected I'd be designing new patterns within the next couple of weeks.  I'm really lucky to have someone so supportive in my life who truly believes I can do anything.

So, the adventure begins.  I have some lofty tatting goals/dreams.  I'd love to make a bag, and I want to make a mask.  I've seen some really beautiful masks, and I have a artist friend that would really enjoy that as a gift.  We'll see.  In the meantime, I'll be adding "tatting" to my blog - you'll be able to shortcut to tatting posts by clicking "Tatting" under topics on the right.

And yes, I've already been charting a lace edging design. What can I say? I have to do something while my wrist heals.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Filling Time, Filling Jars

As many of you know, I have a broken wrist. It's a stress fracture - nothing too horrible, but it means no knitting, which means all I can think about is knitting. The knitting moratorium will last two more weeks. That is two more weeks of pacing, adding projects to my queue, pacing, and making everyone around me insane.

I have been trying to fill the time constructively. 

I just spent two days balling sock yarn left-overs and displaying them nicely in my studio. I regard these jars as a form of art, as well as a reminder that yarn is currently off-limits.  As I wound them (left-handed, mind you) I imagined the crazy socks I could knit with them. As a matter of fact, I've been thinking a lot about what I'll knit once I'm allowed to. I'm considering making a collection of finger-less gloves and mitts to complement the Fancy Foot Bags collection. Like the sock collection, they would be knit in different directions - some would be fingers to wrist and others wrist to fingers. I think it will be a fun experiment. 

I've been taking my many Craftsy classes.  My current favorite is "Learn to Design Handknit Garments" with Shirley Paden.  I also own her book "Knitwear Design Workshop - A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits" which works hand in hand with her Craftsy class, if not providing even more in-depth instruction, beyond the classes outlined garments.  She offers fantastic formula methods for calculating the size and shaping changes for garments.  I've enjoyed the class and highly recommend it to anyone looking for clear, concise instruction on how to build your own garment from the ground up - regardless of whether you're a professional designer, or simply wanting to create something that will fit.  To learn more about the class, click HERE.

Have you taken any great Craftsy classes? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weep, Dive & Wail - Individual Pattern Release

Weep, Dive & Wail has just been released as an individual pattern!  You can now purchase this pattern separately or as part of the Fancy Foot Bags collection via Ravelry.

Sticks and stones may make me cry, but it took a basilisk to make me die.  If you tolerate sobbing fits and floods, I’ll help you solve the riddles of half-bloods.  Left is left and right is right. There’s charts to help you do it right.  If you do, you will see, a reflection there will be.

Finished Measurement: 
The directions are given for a woman’s sock.  Foot and leg lengths are adjustable.  Leg and foot circumferences (stretched): 8 (11) inches.

Yarn Requirements: 
Necessary yardage will vary with foot and leg length.
Approximately 320 - 350 yards were required for 10” foot and 6”leg lengths in testing over several different yarns.
Shown in Knit One, Crochet Too Crock-o-Dye
(416 yards/100grams, 65% superwash wool, 20% nylon, 15% silk, color: 746 - Grape).

Recommended Needles: 
Size 2 (2.75mm) Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) or size required to get gauge.  Size C crochet hook for cast on.
Directions are given using 5 DPNs, with one DPN reserved and used only during heel construction. Pattern can easily be worked with two circulars or via Magic Loop Method.

Supplies: 
Cable needle, tapestry needle for weaving in ends, and stitch markers may be helpful.

Gauge: 
Approximately 8 sts / 12 rows = 1” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch in the round.


Weep, Dive & Wail via Ravelry - $3.50
Fancy Foot Bags Collection - $15.00 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

That about covers it.

As I'm not supposed to be knitting, I'm taking online classes and reading and studying all things knitting.  Today I was reading Knitting Pattern Essentials - Adapting and Drafting Knitting Patterns for Great Knitwear by Sally Melville.  In her "Preparing to Draft" chapter she discusses finding the ideal lengths for a long sweater design and writes: "Try on the pants you are likely to wear with it - slim pants or leggings.  Find a point on your leg where you like what is revealed and where everything you want covered is covered."  This made me laugh.  I immediately thought of Uncle Fester Addams long monk-like robe.  Yeah, that about covers where everything I want covered is covered.

I do highly recommend Knitting Pattern Essentials - Adapting and Drafting Knitting Patterns for Great Knitwear by Sally Melville.  The book is very detailed, has a wonderful step-by-step format and is structured for every knitter of every skill set. The is wonderful diagramming and photography throughout the book as well as an excellent focus in her "Preparing to Draft" chapter on measuring to make the garment fit your body properly and look best on you - tips that I'll carry over to my clothes shopping to find more flattering cuts and styles in my store bought clothing.

No, I wasn't paid or compensated in any way for telling you about this book.  I simply share what I love in hopes you'll love it too.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kind of like the dentist's chair...

Ever notice when you're in the dentist chair and they tell you to breathe through your nose so that you don't gag, you suddenly don't have a nose and you are completely incapable of doing anything but focusing on how hard you're breathing, gasping, gagging and panting through your mouth?

I broke my wrist.  Actually, it's a stress fracture in my right wrist - my dominate hand of course.  And so, I'm wearing a brace.  I'm grateful for that.  I'd really hate a cast, but not as much as I'm hating the other part of this: I'm supposed to refrain from using my wrist i.e. no knitting.  Typing might even be pushing it.

Because I'm not supposed to knit, it is ALL I CAN THINK OF.  It's making me nuts.  I'm experiencing the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Okay, no, not all five stages... yet.

I've experienced denial, in which I knit anyway and made it hurt incredibly worse.

Anger - oh yeah.  Mad at everyone reminding me not to knit, mad at the injury, mad at myself for knitting an making it worse, mad, mad mad!

Bargaining: just passing through there now on my way to depression.  I tried to convince my husband that I could knit a sock.  It would be much lighter than the sweater, smaller movements, less strain.  He shook his head and said "Honey, you really just need to let it rest and heal."  Damn.  Bring on the depression.  Please let it be brief.  I feel like acceptance will feel better.

Until then, I'll be staring at my WIPs longingly, printing off patterns in my queue, reading knitting books and taking Craftsy classes - basically doing everything knitting except, well, knitting.

What knitting books should I be adding to my library during my down time?

In which I jinx myself...

I don't knit myself "garments".  Sure, I knit myself hats, mitts, shawls, scarves and socks by the truckload, but fitted clothing, no.  I've knit myself exactly 2 sweaters, a shrug and a poncho.  

The poncho hangs in the hall closet begging to be unraveled or waiting until I find myself homeless and in need of a giant burnt orange wool tent.

The shrug is probably proudly adorning a girl about 8 inches shorter than me, or someone who likes 3/4 sleeves.  It was okay. I wore it a couple times, but it simply didn't fit me well as I made the sleeves too short, having measured my back with my arms straight, not bent.  It would have looked great had I worn it to say... my crucifixion. It got donated.

The first sweater... I don't remember very well. I knit it when I was 20 (half a lifetime ago!).  It was wool in a lovely charcoal/brown sort of color and it had a cable that ran up each sleeve with an otherwise stockinette body and high collar.  If I remember right, the armholes and upper arms were too tight and it was incredibly warm.

The last sweater I remember all too well: bright salmon colored cotton in a horizontal textural stripe that switched back and forth every 3 inches or so from stockinette to reverse stockinette all over, including the 3/4 length sleeves and deep hanging cowl neck.  What does stockinette do? It curls, in this case in and out creating rolls.  Pattern was modeled prettily in the magazine. I looked like the love child of a Circus Peanut and the Michelin Man in it.  Horrible.

And so, tired of expensive disappointments, I swore off garments.  I haven't knit a garment for myself in about 6 years.

If you asked me to classify myself as a knitter, I'd tell you I'm a "jump into the deep end of the pool" kind of knitter.  I generally love a challenge and don't fear any technique. 

If you ask me about clothing, I'll tell you, in all honesty, I don't have a good understanding of my body type and I change sizes seemingly twice in a day.  I have a general idea what shapes look good on me.  I don't completely understand how to look at a pattern size and understand how "ease" will affect the fit. And although I don't have any problem resizing and altering stitch patterns or resizing a shawl or other accessory, I'm terrified of modifying a garment pattern.  

Phew!  That was awful.  I hate confessing I don't understand how to make clothes fit me.  But I don't think I'm alone.  Yeah, there is a gifted population out there that innately understands shaping and either knits or sews clothing gorgeously.  There is a distinct other population out there that have the ideal body type and look good in everything, regardless of size, cut, shape, or time of the month.  I don't fit into either of these categories.  But I'm aiming to understand shaping.  

I would love to knit a sweater that not only features a gorgeous new design but that fits me and looks great on me.  And so, I embark on taking some classes, knitting a pile of swatches and "jumping into the deep end" - mostly.  Okay, no, not so much.  I'm actually dipping a toe in first. Whilst I'm taking said classes, I'm knitting myself a sweater.  Shhhh!  Don't tell the knitting gods.  They will jinx me faster than I can say "tink!"  I'm working on a simple sweater that is actually meant to replace a store bought sweater that I adored, loved, wore constantly and managed to shrink in an accidental machine washing.  It has very little shaping and is meant to be oversized.  It should be a no fail project, but we will see.  It could turn out to be a wool bathrobe for Hagrid.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Knitting for Weight Loss

Okay, it might be one of the weirdest weight loss plans ever, but it worked for me... knitting.

I'm a t.v. snacker.  There was no better time to stuff my face full of empty calories than when my fanny is parked on the sofa watching television.  Popcorn, Mike & Ikes, pretzels, chips, dips, cheese, chocolate, even fruit all go wonderfully with whatever is on.  I was a heavy t.v. snacker - literally and figuratively.

Knitting helped me stop snacking.  How?  Expensive yarn and busy hands.

Funny thing about knitting; it takes two hands.  If both hands are busy, the only way to snack is to either stop and put down your work, or contort yourself into wild yoga poses and plant your face directly into the snack bowl or bag.  (Yes, you can grab the chip bag in your teeth and tip it up till the contents slide into your mouth - I know, I've tried, mostly successfully... but... well, then your face gets all greasy... but I digress.)  If you stop and snack, you then need a napkin (or full on hand washing) to remove your snack from your hands before returning to your knitting.  Nothing like Cheetos and angora to drive that lesson home.

I applied these realities to my television habit.  Instead of grabbing a snack when I sat down to watch my favorite shows, I grabbed a project.  Interestingly enough, I got smaller, my completed projects pile got bigger, and my yarn budget had more flex when projects required a skein or two less to fit me.

I find now that my cravings have changed.  I actually crave certain projects for certain types of shows.  What used to be a bowl of ice cream for a sad film is now a hat or some similarly in the round project.  Horror movies and zombies (my husbands favorites) are no longer bags of chips or popcorn, but lace shawls and complex projects that keep my eyes off the gore.  And there is nothing like a good sock pattern for a series.

What has knitting replaced in your life?  Snacking, grief, homicide...?  Do tell.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Progressive Knitting

My son is visiting.  When he's here, he knits with me.  He's got a scarf he's working on that he started last year and got about 18 inches into.  This year when he started working on it, I could hear the tones of defeatism as he spoke about it.  He didn't feel like he was making any progress.  It's a garter stitch scarf on US Size 10 needles with a bulky yarn.  I assured him every row was making progress and managed not to give in to the temptation to whine about my own lack of progress on my lace weight shawl being knit on US Size 4 needles that was increasing 6 stitches every row.  Then it hit me - make his progress tangible.  I grabbed a locking stitch marker and stuck it in the row he'd just finished.  Here we are now, 18 inches past the stitch marker and he's saying things like "It's really coming along now."  Apparently the stitch marker made him faster too.  Now I'm trying to convince him to try knitting a matching hat once this project is done.  We'll see...  I'm thinking about adding a "progress marker" to my project too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

There are a lot of great novelty yarns out there.  Really cool ones.  Ribbons and beaded yarns.  Yarns with hair and built in fringe.  Sparkly, fuzzy fancy bits twisted into stunning swirls of color.  Like moths to flames, we are sucked in and we buy these things.  Admit it.  You have at least one completely nonsensical yarn in your stash.  I have twelve.

And what in the hell are you going to knit with it?

Along comes the knitting magazine to solve our problems.  Yes Vogue, show me how this yarn dazzled the runway!

Here's where I'm going to be your friend.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  That cute cardi with the ruffled trim is NOT a good idea.  That ribbon yarn ruffle trim looks like a freakin' ruffled diaper cover on the model's backside.  REALLY look at those pictures.  And she's a size... what? Two?  That cardi is taped in place and she is posed in the most ridiculous, unlikely, unnatural posture.  Really try to imagine the worst case scenario, because I know if I knit it, it wouldn't even come close to fitting me the way they have it staged and taped to that model.  I slouch.  My chest is under-endowed.  I'm short waisted.  I've got some math to do before I even cast that baby on.  Either way, that sweater, knit to fit my size (cough, 12, ahem, cough) would make me look like a hippo in a tutu. And no matter how fantastic that yarn is, how skilled my shaping skills, it isn't going to wipe that wide-eyed-oh-my-god!-what-has-she-knit-herself-this-time look off your smiling frozen polite face.

Put down the needles.  Reconsider your project.  Knit a plushy or trade that crazy bling off to some other daring/unsuspecting knitter.

Smooches!  I just saved us both from a yarnmare.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How I Became a Pattern Designer

Several people have asked me recently about how long I've been knitting and how I became a designer, so here it is.

I've been actively knitting now for only about 7 years.  I had knit sporadically in the years before, but in 2006 I owned no yarn and had one pair of size 10 straights buried in boxes that had survived multiple moves and probably 12 years untouched.  I was bored and decided I needed a project I could do while hanging out in the garage with my husband while he did motorcycle maintenance.  I went to Michael's and bought a yarn I liked the look of that happened to have a pattern on the wrapper for a stockinette shrug knit cuff-to-cuff.  I bought the recommended needles, went home and fumbled my way through some shadowy memories of the backward loop cast on and the basic knit and purl stitches.  I was proud I could remember how to do it, and began to dream of where I would wear my shrug.

Very quickly (less than a sleeve later) I remembered why I stopped knitting.  Stockinette.  I hated knitting stockinette.  My straight needles could barely hold all the stitches and were heavy.  The back and forth, all knit, all purl, all knit, all purl would have put me to sleep had it not been for the weight lifting exercises the needles suffered me.  Voices in my head rallied me on... "methodical, relaxing, rhythmic, meditative" and I soldiered on looking for the inner serenity.

Nope.

And then there was a pile of shame.

Okay, not a pile.  One project a pile does not make.  More a lump of shame.

I was frustrated.  I'd spent money and time on this.  I'd dreamt of wearing this beautiful thing I was creating.  But no matter how brilliant the dream or how much I loved that yarn, I hated the project.  Hated.

And so it sat.

Then it occurred to me that maybe, if I did a little project that was entirely different from this project, I would benefit from the break and find joy in the shrug again.  I dove through my craft supplies and found the only pattern I had ever purchased, still in its page protector.  Little baby hat.  Quick, easy, cute.  Didn't matter that there wasn't any baby in my life to knit this for. I bought a circular needle and more yarn.

More lessons were learned.

I learned that when I knit in the round I get addicted and I can't stop, because it just keeps going around and around and around until its done.  I discovered the portability of knitting and started taking projects everywhere I went.  I learned that stiff cables on circular needles SUCK, as do straight needles in general,  and that I preferred to work small projects in the round on double pointed needles (bought some of those too).  I learned about different fibers and how expensive a stash can be.  And I learned that some patterns can be changed and improved on, much like a recipe in cooking.

Hey, now there was something.  I cook.  I went to cooking school.  I understand that cooking really boils down to simple formulas.  Follow the ratios and you'll get a different flavored end product.  I could apply this theory and similar math to my knitting and get different results.

More buying... yarn, needles, a stitch dictionary, and notebooks.  I played with hat and sock patterns.  I knit simple projects to gain an understanding of their structure and construction.  I learned some shaping techniques.  I squealed and jumped around every time I turned a heel or finished a new hat.  I began writing patterns for my designs.  I sought out local knitting groups.  I discovered Ravelry.  And then one day, I posted my first pattern for sale, with much encouragement from my new found knitting friends, and someone bought it!  I was in love and the romance continues.  I design, I teach, I knit and I dream.

Along the way, the lump of shame did become a pile.  There was a Christmas tree hat design that didn't go quite as planned, and a hat that looked like a snowman.  There was a cowl neck sweater that, although lovely on the model in the magazine, made me look like the Michelin Man in peach.  Not my best work.  I dropped them into the pile for later review.  The shrug mocked me.  Nagged me.  Eventually the pile started to bother me.  Mind you, it took a couple years for its voice to gain that kind of volume, but once it did, it had to be addressed.  I got rid of projects I didn't like.  I donated items that just didn't fit right.  And finally, I tore back the shrug.  It was a bittersweet event, tearing out stitches and winding the yarn into balls.  It wouldn't have fit - I'd lost a lot of weight - and the yarn could be reused, but I hadn't fulfilled that dream of wearing it.  There was a mourning period of about year before I could face those balls of yarn.  I made them into socks for my son.  He loved them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Knitted Cavemen!

I'm pretty sure this awesomeness is the result of knitters having too much time and technology readily available.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sneak Peek: Swift River Cowl

This will be my first published cowl pattern.  I'm writing this up in both fingering weight (as shown) and worsted weight.  The pattern will be written and charted and is VERY flexible.  If you want a long double wrapping cowl - you'll cast on more and if you want a neck snug turtleneck style cowl, you'll cast on less.  Height is all about repeats - make it right for you!
Shown: 24" around x 12" tall unblocked, used 373.5 yards

This was knit in Shalimar Yarns Zoe Sock (colorway: Sapote) 100% Superwash Merino Wool - 450 yds/4oz - Totally delightful and highly recommended yarn!!

Bad Yarn or Bad Buyer?

If you've been within 30 feet of me at home or in public anytime in the past month, you've heard me complaining about the yarn I'm using.  Interestingly enough, it hasn't been just one yarn irritating me.  I seem to have a stash full of monsters.

I just finished using a yarn (sorry folks, I won't tell you what it is... only my husband, lys owners and knit group know the name) that turned my fingers Smurf blue as I knit.  Not only that, but the yardage I used (less than one skein) had three slubs, and the yarn ply changed direction between two of them.  If the yarn wasn't splitty, it was over-energized.  Oh, and did I mention the weird color shift that makes my project look like I used two different dye lots?  All these traits in one same skein.  In short, miserable.  Now I might have told everyone within screaming distance to never buy this yarn.  I may have told stores not to stock it.  I truly had a bad yarn experience.

Then, I look to my right and see a friend in the knit group with not only the same yarn, but in the same color. I told her my experience.  Funny, her yarn wasn't turning her hands blue.  Okay, so I got a skein that had some excess.  I did observe her skein was exhibiting the over-energized traits, but she reported not slubs.  I guess I'm just lucky and should lay off bad mouthing it.

So I grab a lovely yellow yarn and cast on another project.  I can soothe away the memories of the blue yarnmare.  Totally different fiber, maker, source.  This yarn should have NOTHING in common with that last disaster... right?  Well, honestly, it doesn't.  Nope.  This one is riddled with sticks, hay, a FEATHER (I'm at a loss there), and has tiny knots (plural!), but the knots aren't across the entire ply, they are worked within individual plys, and it isn't even a handspun!!!  This yarn sheds worse than my dogs (they're getting jealous of the funny smelling yellow dog I seem to have been cheating on them with), but it does contain 30% mohair, so some shed is expected, I'm told.

Whenever I have a problem, I analyse it and try to figure out how to avoid the problem in the future.  This probably explains why I'm good at correcting knitting errors and reading my knitting.

So, define the problem: I own some yarns of lesser quality than I expect.
Analyze:

  • Are these quality names and fibers? Yes
  • Did I purchase them from reputable shops?  I believe so, but I didn't run a background check on the owners or sift through their project bags.
  • Do other people have similar issues with these yarns?  Well, excess energy, splitting and excess dye happens, but I haven't heard a collective scream of dissension from the knitting community about these in particular.
  • Are my storage techniques subpar - could I have polluted the yarn with sticks, hay, feathers?  Plastic drawers and not trips to the farm - so I'm calling this a no.
  • Am I being oversensitive and snotty about minor issues? NOPE.  Everyone I've shown these to agrees or makes disparaging comments before I even have a chance to express my angst.
  • Could I have avoided these issues?  Ahhhhh, here's where the therapist makes her money and proves her worth.  Yes.  Yes, I could have looked more closely at the fiber, spent more time rubbing it through my fingers and looking at its behavior rather than dashing to the register and throwing my wallet. 
When I look back at these purchases (damn hindsight!) I see flaws.  I'm smarter and more mature than this.  I have better self control than this.  I bought these yarns because I liked the color (ohhhh pretty!) and one of the skeins was bought on vacation, whilst in a rush (store was closing), and I was attracted to the origin of the yarn, in addition to the color.  (Note to self, you don't wear this shade of yellow and what were you thinking ... mohair?  You're allergic to it Silly!)

Will changes in my pre-purchase screening methods assure me exquisite yarns?  It'll help, but some yarn traits don't come to light until they are on the needles and temptation is one of my greatest weaknesses.  But I will make an effort.  I may even wear this scratchy, stick and hay ridden yellow nightmare to remind me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sorting Out Yarns via Renew, Reuse, Recycle


I promised to re-post this for my knit group girls.  My apologies - I do not know who the clever crafty mastermind is that came up with this or who drew it.  It's not mine.

Here's a clever way to recycle waterbottles into yarn ball sorters for your multi-colored projects.

A friend suggested I mount these to a frame backpack so I could knit whilst hiking.  Joke was on him.  I don't hike.

I think this would also work well for those ribbon balls come holiday gift wrapping season.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let's play a game called... Sonya Says!

Sonya is my friend.  Sonya is one of those talented knitters who, when you call her a talented knitter, immediately scoffs and claims she isn't, yet she has knit, and continues to knit, things I won't attempt, which in turn, gives me the right to call her a talented knitter.  It's my logic and I sticking to it.

Sonya says I don't blog enough.  Okay Sonya.  You are right.  I don't.  And the reason for this is... I simply don't know what to blog about.  This blog is dedicated to my knitting. I write posts about upcoming designs and classes, techniques, sales on patterns and the like, but that really doesn't offer me a steady stream of content.  Sonya told me I should write whatever comes to mind.   Therefore, tonight's topic is exactly that - what is on my mind - which is thinking about what Sonya said.

If I write more blogs about my more obscure thoughts on knitting and my design experiences, will it detract from my blog?  Will my handful of readers give up on me?  Will Sonya regret her suggestion?

I turned 40 this year.  (Bear with me... this digression will make sense in a moment.)  This being a milestone year, I've set some goals and I'm making some changes.  In this spirit, I'm actively working to shrug off my debilitating self criticisms and work beyond my fears - i.e. stop operating in response to irrational fears.

This having been said, I'm going to actively push aside my fear of losing readers, assume that new, fresh, entertaining content will actually interest and engage more readers, and write more blog posts. I shall boldly blog as I've never blogged before.

(Here's where you comment with encouraging messages.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Greenhouse 3 - Individual Pattern Release

Greenhouse 3 has just been released as an individual pattern!  You can now purchase this pattern separately or as part of the Fancy Foot Bags collection via Ravelry.


Where do they think all those ingredients come from – the apothecary? No.  All day – tending, toiling and teaching; soil, students and snares.  The Potions Master knows.  He gave me these for my toes. 

Finished Measurement:
The directions are given for a woman’s sock.  Foot and leg lengths are adjustable.  Leg and foot circumferences (stretched): 8 (11) inches. 


Yarn Requirements:
 (416 yards/100grams, 65% superwash wool, 20% nylon, 15% silk, color: 511 - Sage). Necessary yardage will vary with foot and leg length. 
Approximately 310 - 340 yards were required for 10” foot and 6” leg lengths in testing over several different yarns. Shown in Knit One, Crochet Too Crock-o-Dye

Recommended Needles:
Directions are given using 5 DPNs, with one DPN reserved and used only during heel construction. Pattern can easily be worked with two circulars or via Magic Loop Method.
Size 2 (2.75mm) Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) or size required to get gauge.  Size C crochet hook for cast on.

Supplies:
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends.  Stitch markers may be helpful.

Gauge:
Approximately 8 sts / 12 rows = 1” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch in the round.

Greenhouse 3 via Ravelry - $3.50
Fancy Foot Bags Collection - $15.00

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Double Agent - Individual Pattern Release

Due to overwhelming demand, Double Agent has just been released as an individual pattern!   You can now purchase this pattern separately or as part of the Fancy Foot Bags collection.

Available via Ravelry - $3.50 
or
Fancy Foot Bags Collection $15.00 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fancy Foot Bags Sock Pattern Collection Now Available!


I'm proud and excited to announce that Fancy Foot Bags is now available for purchase via Ravelry.
The collection includes 5 sock patterns: Dance Lessons with McGonagall, Double Agent, Firewhiskey, Greenhouse 3 and Weep, Dive and Wail.

Those of you who purchased Firewhiskey in it's original release are eligible for $3.00 off the collection purchase price (no sense in buying it twice!). To take advantage of this discount, please enter coupon code: Fire upon checkout.

Available via Ravelry - $15.00

Sunday, June 2, 2013

New Pattern Available: Salty Pup Preemie-Child Hat

There are some things you can just count on – a black eye, a torn-out knee in his new jeans, the frog he forgot in his pocket, and eventually, having to wash his mouth out with soap.  Then there are the things you’ll never expect, like the one hat he wears until it wears out (or is lost) that you made for him.  Down-sized Salty Dog for the chip off the ole block.  Very elastic, for comfort.  Fold it, roll it, wear it slouched; a hat for every little man.

Sizes:
Preemie 12-14” (Newborn 14-16”, 6 Months 16-18”, 1 Year/Toddler 18-20”, Child 20-22”)

Yarn Requirements:
Approximately 170 yards of worsted weight yarn.
Shown in Cascade 220 Heathers
(220 yards, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, color: 2423 Montmartre).

Recommended Needles:
Size 5 (3.75mm) 16” circular needle and a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) in the same size

Gauge:
22 sts = 4” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch in the round.
Change needle size to obtain gauge.

Supplies:
Cable needle, tapestry needle for weaving in ends, ruler and a stitch marker.  Row counter may be helpful.

Stitches & Abbreviations Used:
K – Knit
P – Purl
C4F – slip two stitches onto cable needle and hold at front of work, knit two stitches, then knit stitches from cable needle.
C3F – slip two stitches onto cable needle and hold at front of work, knit one stitch, then knit stitches from cable needle.
K2TOG – Knit two together
*rep around – Repeat instructions from * to end of round.

Notes:  Hat is knit in the round, rim up.

Available via Ravelry - $3.00

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sneak Peek: Weep, Dive & Wail

Weep, Dive & Wail
Another toe up design for my sock pattern collection coming in June, here's Weep, Dive & Wail.

The collection is in final editing stages, and will be available for purchase through Ravelry.  It will include a total of five (5) designs:  Firewhiskey, Dance Lessons with McGonagall, Double Agent, Greenhouse 3 and Weep, Dive and Wail.

I will be sending out and posting notifications upon release. If you would like to be directly notified, be sure to sign up for my newsletter or subscribe to this blog.

I'm very excited about this collection and can't wait to share it with you all!

Spring 2013!

It's been a long time since I posted an update - sorry.  What have we been doing?  Nothing too exciting, which is why there haven't been many updates.

We gave Chica a hair cut - that's always amusing.  Poor thing.  Doesn't even look like the same dog.

We made some changes to the garden this year.  The first major change being the re-working of the potato boxes.  We simply haven't had much success with them, so we deconstructed the boxes and used the materials to make two more raised beds with built in centered trellises.  We will be using them this year for peas, and will be able to rotate different crops into them in future years.  Each box gives us roughly another 7 square feet of garden.

Secondly, this year, for the first time, we are doing planned staggered plantings.  What does that mean?  That means we are putting in a row of beans every two weeks, staggering the peas every two weeks, and likewise, lettuce and cucumbers.  The idea being that we will spread the yield out over a longer harvest period rather than having 9000 cucumbers all in one week.  All of our past staggered plantings were entirely unplanned panicked re-seedings based on plant loss because a certain dog would break into the garden and either eat everything or have a grand time digging.  We won't name names.

Finally, we've made changes to the watering system - mainly out of necessity as there were many parts that needed replacing due to a certain dog eating the sprayers. Yes, the same one that ate the plants and dug in the beds.  This year John devised a system with a central distribution hub with controlled flow and no sprayers.  The idea is to reduce Haley's attraction to the garden and to reduce overspray and keep the water bill down as we expect to have to water longer to combat the drought conditions.  

With the severe drought continuing, we are losing trees and bushes, so we're having to remove things.  We lost our Pear and Cherry trees.  We've determined that we are not fruit tree people and we need to stick to what we are successful with - tomatoes and carrots.  Neither of us is upset about losing our junipers, however it is a lot of work, and we end up with large brush piles that we are banned from burning.  Generally, we let them dry and then use the materials as kindling in the woodstove all winter.  The dogs also gain hours of entertainment deconstructing our piles and scattering branches back all over the yard.  Stupid wood chucks.

With the gardening season comes motorcycle season.  John has already been on several long rides.  Yesterday we went on our first ride of the year together.  John took me East of Albuquerque to the town of Madrid, about 100 miles round trip.  The weather was perfect.  It was great to get out again.

I've been maintaining an active teaching schedule at the yarn store through the Spring, however I'll be taking a break from it over the Summer.  I want to regroup and develop some new class offerings for Fall and Winter.  I'm actively designing and will be releasing a collection of sock patterns next month.  This has been a fun project for me.  John has been wonderfully helpful, not only as my photographer, but as my design editor as well.  He has a great eye for elements and layout and lets me bounce ideas off him.  He couldn't be more supportive, and I couldn't be more thankful.  I'm seriously considering branching into producing a line of project bags as well as a line of hand-painted yarns.  My downtime from teaching over the Summer will give me more time to weight these options.  I also have plans to produce another pattern collection in time for a Fall release, but we will see how much canning season impacts that as we generally start making salsa in August, about the time I'll have to knit samples for photography.

Anyhoo... that's the news from Green Bin Farm.  What's new with you?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Look Mom, No Cable Needle!

So, I'm working on the last design for the sock pattern collection I'm releasing in June, knitting up the last sample actually, and it has a cable.   I've heard a lot about cabling without a needle, and I've attempted it a couple of times (literally, like twice) and it really "wasn't my thing," but on this sock, I decided to give it another go.  I'm in love!  I don't know that I'll be using this technique for large complicated cables on bigger yarns (I'll eat these words later, I'm sure), but for this project, it's the perfect answer.  What inspired me to make the change?  Needle clutter.  See, I like to knit socks on DPNs.  Yes, I've tried other methods.  Double Pointed Needles are my "go to gadgets" for socks.  But throw in an extra needle for cables and things start to get complicated.  I found on this particular sock that I felt like I was missing a hand and trying to juggle needles.  I also learned that I needed to loosen my tension slightly in order to cable by this method, but for the ease and speed, that was an easy concession to make.  Here is a great video demonstrating cabling without a cable needle should you wish to give it a go:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sneak Peek: Greenhouse 3

Greenhouse 3
This design will be included in the sock collection releasing in June.  This is my first toe-up design.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Photography and Upcoming Releases

Dance Lessons with McGonagall
Pattern by Jessica L'Heureux
Photo Credit: John L'Heureux
Today was a perfect day for photographing product - slightly overcast, not too dark, not too bright, just good even light.  My husband John is my principal (only) photographer.  I love when I can twist his arm into working on my product shots with me.  He's simply a better photographer than I am, which frees me up and affords me a free model - me.  I don't particularly like being the model, but I know the products fit me, and because I'm working with my husband, I'm a lot more comfortable and less nervous.  He makes me look good.

Anyway... here's a sneak peek a two sock patterns.  I've been teasing you for months with these, and will continue to do so for just a little while longer as I'm planning to release these patterns as part of a collection, hopefully early this summer.  Some of these patterns in the collection will be available for individual purchase, some will only be available as part of the collection.  Which and what are yet to be determined.
Double Agent Socks
Pattern by Jessica L'Heureux Photo Credit: John L'Heureux

As part of the photo shoot, I also had some of my samples and one-of-a-kind products photographed.  I'll be making these items available for sale in the very near future in my Etsy store.  (I'll announce it when they're posted.)  

Among these items you will find some products made from my hand painted yarns.  I hope you love the colorways as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Photo Credit: John L'Heureux

Among the one-of-a-kind items you'll find this gorgeous scarf made with eight different yarns.  It is long, beaded and wonderful.  Usually I crop myself out of photos as much as possible, but I'm really happy with this photo.  John did a great job making me look good and highlighting the product.  Thank you Honey!



Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Business, Work Out the "Divorce" First

I had to laugh.

After my last post, I got a lot of feedback, primarily in person and by email.  (I'm not sure quite what's going on with the comments on my blog/Google issues, but although it says "0 comments" there are comments there to be read, and some people are having difficulty posting.)  One such email came from my mom:
Do it!  You are smart, witty, and write better than most and gosh darn it people like you.  I have bought lots and lots of how to books or pattern books that pretty much sucked, but if I got even one idea or inspiration out of a sucky book I did not regret the purchase.  People buy your ideas for lots of things and use them successfully, so much so they come back for more. (me included cause you always have fabulous ideas) Why would a pattern book be any different?  Well it would not be any different!

As long as you put your personality into your book, be yourself and let you shine and I know you will have a success on your hands.  I may be your mother and by definition your biggest fan, but you know I call it as I see it.  Remember my famous line, "I don't like you right now, but I always love you".  Just because I am your mother does not mean I can not be objective, just as the famous line indicates. If for an instant I thought you would not be successful doing a book I would not set you up for a disappointment.  Hey would I want that to reflect back on me?  The answer there is a big old NO.  Seriously, don't worry about anyone but you.  If you want to do it, then do it.  Think of how you would talk to your class, they eat it all up, and then put that into your book.
WOW.  Mom makes some great points and I'm proud to say, makes me feel really loved and supported. (Now y'all know where I get it from.  That apple didn't fall far did it?)

An acquaintance wrote and repeated over the phone when I spoke with her yesterday:
I am very impressed with your writing....and your ability to describe the human condition!
And yet another person reminded me:
How would it be any different than publishing your patterns on Ravelry?  Do you really think a book would be different?  It's done already. 
Again, more encouragement than I could have asked for.

There is "the book" that I've been brewing on for a while which is a straightforward pattern book.  Then there is "the collaboration book" that has explosively begun to develop which is very much not a straightforward pattern book.  It is, in fact, a book featuring patterns designed to be knit whilst inebriated, because really, who hasn't knit with a glass of wine, or two, or three?  (Will Mom still be proud when instead of donating my body to science, I donate my liver to knitting?  She might not like it, but she'll love me.  My doctor on the other hand...)

Here's where I had to laugh.  I'm laughing because in a flash I've learned how foolish my initial fear was and how many serious things there are out there to actually have fear about.  Such as my biggest fear of the moment - the collaboration.

Why am I afraid of the collaboration you ask?  This one is crazy easy to answer.  MONEY.  (Doesn't everything boil down to money?)  Should my co-writer and I part ways prior to or during publication and when we inevitably part ways after our publication, who owns what? Who gets paid what? People are weird when it comes to money.  It is a law of human nature.  Fortunately, she is wonderful and agrees wholeheartedly that we need to plan our "divorce" before our "wedding".  See what I said there? Neither of us are saying "Oh, don't worry.  What could possibly happen?"  Watch out world.  Two smart chicks ahead. Beware.

We are both really excited about our collaboration, and even if this particular project doesn't take off, I fully expect we will work together on something.  There is an amazing magic that happens when you find a creative mind that you can really click with.  We brainstormed last night from the initial concept seed to serious outlining in a very short period of time and it was breathtaking and exciting and scary and overpowering.  Now we just have to figure out if we are as compatible in our ability to "break up" as we are when we work together.  I suspect this is something a lot of artists, designers and creative collaborators fail to do.  Like falling in love, it's really really easy to get sucked into the joy and excitement while ignoring the more serious aspects.  Life, or at the very least business, would be a lot easier if we all planned our divorces first, then fell in love.

I suspect my next major fear will be the lawyer's fee, immediately followed by the hospital bill for the heart attack.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, nothing is getting shelved.  I waitressed  I can juggle crazy amounts of stuff on a plate.  Why would it be any harder to write one book than two?  If you are laughing, you better be posting your experience in my comments or email and trying to save the foolhardy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

To Book or Not to Book... Defining the Fear

Recently I've been hearing more and more requests and encouragements for me to publish a book.  I find it all very flattering and terrifying.  I won't lie.  It is a dream of mine.  I'd love to publish a book of patterns. I'd love to publish a book with slightly altered (for privacy of course) tales from my sit-com life. Who wouldn't?  And then in the same breath I'll tell you "Oh, No.  Not me!"

Now don't start.  I'm not grubbing for compliments or encouragement.  Really.  I'm just sorting out my fears.

When I told my husband about some recent encouragement I'd gotten and told him I wasn't sure, he paused a moment, accessing me, then asked "What are you afraid of? Are you afraid it won't sell?"  Reason #16,325 for loving this man.  He knows me.  He supports me.  He is the best part of me.  I laughed.  He had pointed out something he knew I didn't fear, thereby forcing me to look into the dark toothy drooling mouth of the monster and blurt out the truth.  I'm afraid it will sell, but people won't like it and will regret buying it.  That is the brand failure I fear.

Facing your fears is supposed to eliminate them, right?  Mostly.  I think in many cases, this is true.  I also know, that in my experience, killing one sounds off a war cry and thousands follow and attempt to take it's place.  I am highly skilled at sounding this invitation.  I can dig up a new fear in the presence of all encompassing warmth, light and unconditional love.  I am, without a doubt, a master of fear.  I am, also, not alone.

There is a wonderful book out in the universe called "Taming Your Gremlin" by Rick Carson.  (Rick, if you're using Google Alerts - smooches!  I've had this book for years, and well, there were a lot of them, but the pile of dead is greater in number than the field approaching.  Thank you. I've recommended your book to countless and continue to do so.)  I'm pretty sure you can download it to your e-readers thru Amazon.  The general principal of the book is to 1) identify that little voice that shames us, reminds us of past or perceived failures or provides us with no-win scenarios that eat so much of our bravery and time that we simply give up, then 2) tell that Gremlin to shut the hell up/ignore him/her until pop! that Gremlin dies and we no longer live in the Gremlin's circle of fear.

Another amazing resource for insight into the things that hold us back is Brene Brown.  Her book "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" as well as her TED Talks were brought to my attention by my dear friend Bob. Her book is available for digital download thru Amazon. (Brene, if you're using Google Alerts - hugs!  Thank you for putting the word "shame" back into my vocabulary and teaching me that it doesn't define me nor should it dis-empower me.  I'm embracing ME, defining ME, and falling in love.  Thank you.)  Her title says it all.  We hold ourselves back with false definitions of self and impossible visions of fulfillment.

Why do I mention these resources?  Because I know I'm not alone.  Because this whole idea of writing a book reminded me that I killed that Gremlin, that I faced the fear of being "the only one", of being alone.  We all have fears.  If we don't, we're dead.  It is a human truth, regardless of whether you're skydiving, going out on a first date, baking your one-millionth wedding cake, teaching a class, getting in a car, casting on a new knitting project or considering writing a book.  Fears actually do protect us and some are entirely rational.  But we don't have to fear being alone in our fears.  You will find that when you think you are alone, there's usually someone thinking the same thing next to you.

Realizing that I was afraid of someone else's purchase satisfaction - something COMPLETELY out of my control, made me realize that I really had nothing to fear.  If I like my work, if I do my best and am proud of my accomplishment, what does it matter what anyone else thinks?  What, really, are the chances I will be alone?  And if in fact, I am alone and no one else likes my work, I'll bet dimes to dollars there will be one other person out there having the same experience and we will stand tall next to each other, proud to be in the company of the only other person in the world whose work is detested by all.  See? Even when you expand on it, it is absolutely a ridiculous fear.  The numbers simply aren't there.  Bad Math.

What is your fear?  Have you got a pattern, a book, an idea that you would like to express to the world that is being halted by a fear?  Are the words "not good enough" still in your vocabulary?  Bring it!  Add to my proof pile.  I am not alone.  Neither are you.