January FO’s (a few days late)

Is it just me or did those last couple of weeks of January hit everyone like a sledgehammer???  Outside of the general craziness here in the US, I was struck down with the office plague and then there was just stuff.  I’m going to use this week to do a little January wrap up and a look forward.

January FO’s

4 Pussyhats!  That’s one item off my list of 17.  I talked extensively about these in my last post so I’ll move on.

I finished a pair of fingerless mitts which are a gift for my best friend who is moving to Belgium in a couple of weeks.  A couple of months ago I went to visit her and we hit all my favorite Ann Arbor stops including Spun Ann Arbor.  Why Not Fibers was having a trunk show and I had to buy!  I found this beautiful yarn that was raised, processed, and dyed in Michigan.  I thought it would be a nice reminder of home when she moves. This was the same trip where she asked if I would make her a hat and picked out Malabrigo Caracol in Paris Nights (I had already picked out this colorway!)  It is on their Shoreline base which is a 50/50 BFL blend/Alpaca and is an Aran weight. I really loved this yarn – it was so soft and easy to knit with.  I think it’s going to be really warm too (because BFL/Alpaca!).    The pattern is SBB Mitts by Amanda Scheuzger. It was part of the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long but I clearly missed the deadline! They were an easy, fun knit and I can’t wait to give them to my friend next week! This is another item off my 17ufosin2017 list so 2 down!

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Goals

I finished 2 items from the list of 17!!!  The only thing I’ve cast on since the 1st of the year is a gift that I need to have done by spring.  Likewise, the only yarn I’ve bought is yarn for said gift so I’m rocking those goals so far!!

As far as tech editing goes, I’ve participated in some Instagram challenges and did get a new client but I need to keep plugging away on that.

A couple of patterns that I tech edited were published yesterday!  You will definitely want to check out Point/Counterpoint Vol. 2.  This is a fun concept and collaboration between Kino Knits and Prairie Girl Susie from the Prairie Girls Knit & Spin podcast.  They each started with a yarn and designed an original pattern and then exchanged yarns and a photo of the FO and designed something based on that photo.  I worked with Mary on her two patterns which are the Springs to Mind hat and the Lean Into the Wind cowl. I love the cowl and Susie’s shawl but if you like knitting hats and are looking for some interesting hats to knit you really need to check out this collection.  Both Mary and Susie’s hats are super interesting and beautiful.  Mary’s flower motif screams spring to me and I could use a little spring!

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Events

I have some events to share!  First up, I signed up for the Into the Wool Fiber Retreat.  It’s being held in Tennessee in September.  It is put on by Dana from Unwind Yarn Company and the Just One More Row podcast and Tiffany.  I understand there might still be a few spots so if you’re interested you can check out the info thread in their Ravelry group.  It’s only $300 and it’s all inclusive – meals, lodging, and fun!!!  The Ravelry group is quite chatty and I fear they may force me to learn how to spin while I’m there but we’ll see!

My LYS announced this week that they are hosting Bristol Ivy for a weekend in April.  I’m super excited about that.  She is teaching 4 classes and I signed up for the Reading Your Knitting class.  Honestly, I’m terrible at reading my knitting and I thought it might be useful in my tech editing work as well.  It was hard to choose, she was also teaching Short Rows, Blocking, and a designing course.

If you’re on Instagram and haven’t fallen to peer pressure yet, the lovely ladies from Ravelry are hosting a #yarnlovechallenge photo challenge and everyone, I mean everyone, is participating.  It’s lots of fun and very yarn focused (go figure!) so easy to play along with, I’m really enjoying this one.

I think that’s about everything from the last few weeks.  Hopefully February will be a little less crazy!

A Lesson and a Review

One of the things I want to add to the blog this year is reviews – whether it be books, yarns, or tools we’re all using new products all the time and it’s nice to read reviews to help us decide what is worth our precious dollars.

I’m going to start this month with Susan B. Anderson’s new book – Kids Knitting Workshop.  I ordered this book for two reasons.  First, I love everything Susan and readily admit to having a total knitting crush on her.  I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago at a book signing/knitting afternoon.  She was just as delightful as you might imagine.  It was her Itty Bitty Hats book that really inspired me to start knitting and selling hats for babies and kids.  I’ll stop gushing now lest I cross the creepy stalker line!

Second, was for a more practical reason.  One of the things I would like to develop and put into motion this year is a knitting class for kids.  When I saw Susan was publishing a book on the subject I knew it would be the best way to figure out how to teach kids to knit.  I’ve done a lot of crafts with a lot of kids but have always shied away from teaching them to knit.  This is mostly because I wasn’t even sure where to begin and this book provides a blueprint.

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As with all her books, the photography is outstanding!  There are a number of really interesting projects and you can check them out on Ravelry (which by the way is a great feature on Ravelry – if you are thinking about buying a book but have not been able to flip through it you can almost always find all the patterns in the book by looking it up on Ravelry and that can help with the buying decision!).  My favorites are the Snowman and the Stripy Tube Scarf.  But all are fun and would make for interesting first projects.

I started reading at the beginning and found it most interesting that she recommends teaching kids the continental method to knit.  I can’t even figure that out so I was surprised to see this is how she teaches kids.  I learned to throw and have never figured out continental. Over the years I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to learn continental but have always given up in frustration.  I know it’s faster and also seems to be easier on the arm and shoulder without all that throwing so it has remained on my list of things to learn.

I was talking about this two weeks ago at knit night.  L., who works at the store, told me that if I just did it for a month I would get the hang of it.  I’m working on the Derecho by Laura Aylor at knit night right now.  I’m determined to finish it whether or not it kills me.  I’ve also banned myself from taking anything else with me until this is done!  It’s another Kauni yarn project I started and always end up regretting halfway through the balls of Kauni. The Derecho is all garter stitch and will never, ever end! (I realize it’s not the pattern’s fault or the yarn’s fault they’re both lovely but it’s time for it to be over!) But, all that garter stitch also makes it the perfect project to learn continental.  On Thursday I brought my book and my Derecho and went to it.  Sadly, no one took pictures of the faces I made in the early rows, it was not pretty.

Now, I can hear some of you saying “Wait!!!  You can’t change knitting styles halfway through a project!!!!!”  I know, I know, this may throw off my gauge but this is a garter stitch shawl so a few tighter or looser rows is not really going to make that much of a difference in the long run and to be quite honest I don’t think you can tell where I started the continental technique.  By the end of the night I was kind of getting the hang of it and I think L. is right, give it a month and then figure out how to purl!

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I’ve not yet taught a child to knit but I did teach myself to knit continental which is something every other tutorial I’ve seen/watched has failed to do so I’m going to give this book five knitting needles*!

*The scale is, of course, 1-5 knitting needles with 5 needles being the highest!

 

Holiday Inspirations

Well, there’s a whole bunch of Christmas knitting going on here at my house.  I just finished a custom order for a customer/friend for Christmas.  Many of the projects at the front of the line are hopefully going to be for Christmas.  As I sat down to write this post I was not entirely sure what I would write about but as I was scrolling through Instagram I was inspired by a post from HandsOccupied.  She shared a free pattern which is the first of her 12 Ornaments of Christmas and the first one is a cute star (check it out here).  I’m totally making one of these soon and can’t wait to see the rest of the ornaments.  I love quick, easy projects like this!

Anyway, it got me thinking so I did a quick search on Ravelry to find some other awesome holiday projects.  I put together a bundle on my Ravelry page so check it out here.

Christmas Ideas!

All of the patterns I chose are very Christmas themed and most are smaller projects but I have a few larger, more ambitious projects.  I think it’s clear that Christmas really brings out my love of Scandinavian knitting.  Something about the holiday just calls for all the awesome red, white patterns that are found in those patterns.  I like to be able to have some quick knits that I can give as gifts when needed.  They are super handy to have on hand or something that can be knit up quick if the need for a last minute gift arises.  I hope this inspires some holiday knitting!!

Do you know about creating a bundle on Ravelry?  This was the first time I created one and I think I enjoy the function. Basically, when you add a pattern to a favorite you can also add it to a bundle.  It cuts down on some of the scanning through all the favorites to find that one baby pattern or whatever you may be looking for.  I think I may create some more the next time I fall down the Ravelry rabbit hole.

Also, side note – I went through my favorites to bundle some of these because I love Christmas and I knew I had a lot of patterns already favorited.  And, I learned you should never go through your favorites because you see all of the awesome patterns that you needed to make “right now” and then you want to make them all.  And, I planned four more projects while flipping through, sigh…

Happy holiday knitting to all!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

It’s hard this month to share much because it’s a lot of Christmas knitting but I feel that it’s a pretty safe bet that my brother does not read this blog so I can talk about the hat I’m knitting him.  When I was in Fort Worth in January and made the stop at Mad Tosh Crafts I found these kits for various Texas colleges that would knit up a scarf or hat.  They had TCU (Texas Christian University) kits (which made sense as the store is about 10 minutes from campus) so I picked one up.  Despite the fact that my brother was born and raised in the Midwest he has become southern quite fast so a nice warm cap would serve him well and he does work for the Athletic Department at TCU.  Now, if only I could knit a colorwork hat between January and Christmas!

According to my Ravelry page I started the hat in June and the first couple of inches knit up fine – standard ribbing and then I hit the problem section.

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The hat is knit flat, I’m sure due to the colorwork but as I continued to work I realized there was a huge issue with the chart. When it’s complete the white will spell out “Horned Frogs” which is the school’s team name.  As you can see the “g” is below the line so that’s what is in the picture and you need to start that and knit on it for a few rows before you find out if it matches with the rest of the words.  I should’ve realized it was a problem when my yarn was down at the “g” and I needed to start on the bottom of the “H” but I carried on and learned quickly that my letters were not matching up.  I counted, counted again, read the chart, double checked the written instructions and still got no where.  My next step was to turn to Ravelry.  The kit is put out Camas Creek Yarn and I found a group online and posted my question.  Basically, there were too many stitches and it did not tell you were to start the chart work.  I waited about a week and got no response.  I also sent a private message and not no response.  I finally tracked down an e-mail address on the website.

At first, I thought things were going to work out.  I finally got an e-mail response!!  She indicated she did not see an error on the pattern and offered to give me a call.  I responded with my phone number and some times I was available.  A week later she responded to my e-mail (after never calling) and explained the “g” dipped below the line (which I knew) and hoped that helped.  I gave up at that point.  Basically the pattern had you cast on 112 stitches and the chart for the colorwork was 74 stitches and there were no instructions on where to start the chart because obviously it needed to be centered.  I did the math myself and went on with my day.  The kit was really nice and the yarn was spot on for the colors of the school but I was disappointed with the lack of pattern support.

Once I finished the writing I decided to go ahead and join to knit the rest of the hat in the round.  I saw no point in continuing to work flat and having to purl back the long rows.  Plus, I was running low on yarn and needed to decrease the amount of the decrease rows to get it done.

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I used the Knitulator on Eskimimi’s site (you should check it out if you need to decrease or increase evenly across a row – it’s magic!) to figure out the decreases and just ignored the rest of the written pattern.  Good news is that it should be done before Christmas!!

Viral Knitting

You know how this goes – a picture of some knitted (or in some cases crocheted) item goes viral and the next thing you know 5-10 people have posted it to your Facebook/Pinterest/whatever page in case you have seen yet.  Some are actually cute and some are kind of weird.  You know the ones I’m talking about – Cabbage patch wigs for kids, the mermaid lapghan, the forest animal cowl/hoods, the monster baby pants.  I know some people get annoyed by this but I always graciously like the post and thank the person for sharing.  I’m genuinely touched that they saw a picture of an object made of yarn and thought of me.  I’m never exactly sure where these posts take off from and why it happens on one day but such in the magic of social media.

Some of these posts have even led to commissioned projects that I’ve done and here’s where my beef with these posts starts.  I’ve learned a lot by trying to replicate the Pinterest ready posts and here a few tips I can share.

  1. Always do a test knit of the pattern – it’s my experience that it doesn’t always turn out the way it did in the post.
  2. If the pattern is available on Ravelry do your research – people’s notes and posts on their pattern pages can be very useful.
  3. Warn whoever wants to it that the actual product may vary from the picture.
  4. If you plan on selling the finished item – check the copyright.  Many designers, especially of these “viral” projects forbid selling finished items.

Let’s look at some examples of these tips.

Test Knit the Pattern

I found these adorable Frozen dolls on top of the Ravelry hot projects awhile back.  I posted them to my Facebook page and was mobbed by moms of Frozen-crazy kids.  I ordered a bunch of Knit Picks Palette yarn in every color under the rainbow and started to knit.  I will say that they were an easy, fun knit but they turned out nothing like the one on the designer’s website and I mean, nothing!  I now have several almost full balls of many colors of Palette in my stash.  I will say that the dolls went to a good home with a lucky girl who is not overly particular about what her Frozen dolls look like 🙂

Ravelry Research

This was a painful one to learn.  I’m sure everyone has seen the animal cowl/hoods that swept the internet and were designed by Heidi May.  The picture that was shared to my Facebook wall showed 4 of the hoods on the some really cute kids and they looked adorable in them.  A friend contacted me and wanted one for her daughter.  Her daughter is a pretty cool girl and wanted to chose her colors for it – not going with exactly what was in the picture.  She chose pink, grey and cream and I set to work.  As I was finishing up the size did not look right to me even though I was pretty close to gauge and had followed all the directions.  Said cool girl lives several states away from me so I took it to a party where I knew small children would be present and tried it on a child of similar age and size.  It looked okay, but, still not quite like the picture.  I was doing some reading on Ravelry and saw several other people had run across the same issue.  The conclusion was that the model in the viral picture, while a small child, must be wearing a larger size hood.  I also attribute this to the photos that go viral.  I’m sure they were very much staged and perhaps even some photoshop was involved to make the objects look their absolute best.  As it turned out said cool girl is petite for her age and the hood was a bit oversized for her and she looks absolutely adorable in it!

Sometimes, the post does not list where the pattern came from and, again, Ravelry is your friend.  I had someone post a picture of an alien face hugger (disclaimer – I had no idea what it actually was…) and a quick search on Ravelry revealed the pattern for it.  Likewise, I got the mermaid lapghan a ton of times recently.  The picture going around was crocheted and I was able to find a knit version of it, and it actually used the exact stitch I was thinking of when I pictured a knit version!

Fair Warning!

Whenever someone sends me one of these and actually wants one I feel obliged to give a warning that objects in the picture may not be how they actually appear in real life.  This ties into the test knit and I will usually tell this person that I will knit one up and see how it comes out and if I like it we can talk further.  As we all do, I have high standards for my knitting so if I don’t like it I won’t knit it for you.

Check the copyright!

So the patterns for the Heidi May hoods are protected by copyright and she does not give you permission to sell finished items from her patterns.  Unfortunately, most of the time you won’t know the extent of a designer’s copyright until you purchase the pattern.  It always kind of bums me out when I buy a pattern that does not allow me to sell the finished item.  If I’m listing it on Etsy, I’m always happy to give credit to the pattern designer.  I have a great list of designers who give you permission to sell finished items and if I’m looking for something in particular I always start with their stores but when it’s a viral knit you don’t have much of a choice.  Due to the copyright restrictions on the animal hoods I did not list those in my Etsy shop or advertise them on my Facebook page.  I made them for my friend’s three kids and she did pay me for the yarn but I think that complies with the copyright.

So, for all my non-knitter friends that may have read through this – feel free to share whatever knit items you see with me, I love it!!  And to all the knitters who scorn such posts – take them for what they are worth, your friends were thinking of you and there are a lot worse things in the world 🙂

#LoveYourBlog – April’s Challenge

For April I decided to participate in A Playful Day’s #LoveYourBlog challenge.  (You can read more about it here).  Each week she is posting a prompt to write about and then we can check out what others had to say about the same topic.  I love these events and this seemed like a perfect way to gear up for Knit & Crochet Blog Week next month.  Part of the reason I love it is because of community, which happens to be the first prompt.

Playful Day announced the challenge and I read it and thought about it.  She then started sharing posts on Twitter.  I read one written by Heather at Nearlythere and everything she said made total sense to me.  (You can read her post here).  And, after reading her post decided I needed to take a closer look at the challenge and jump in.

Until I started going to Thursday night knitting night I had no idea there was an entire knitting community out there.  My real reason for going was to make sure I had 2 hours a week to knit – I figured it would help me actually get projects done in a more reasonable amount of time (lo, did I know it would only cause me to become a hopeless ADD knitter with UFOs scattered around my home…).  I found I did not spend enough time at home knitting, I have no idea what I was doing with my time because now I knit all the time at home but either way that decision propelled me into the knitting community.

I could say so much about my in person, local knitting community.  I talk about them all the time in this blog and they are an amazing bunch of women (and the occasional guy) that inspire and encourage me every day but I feel this challenge is more suited to talk about the virtual community and the interactions from the people I will probably never meet.

As with most knitters, I think my first introduction to the online community was through Ravelry.  I’ve always used it to track my projects.  When I learned to knit in 2003 the woman who taught me told the class that we should photograph each of our projects and keep an album and write down all the details – little did she know what technology would do for us in a few short years!  I’ve been trying to become more involved on Ravelry this year.  I participated in a KAL (Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow 2) and followed along on the chat boards.  I also joined the Fluffy Fibers podcast group and have been participating in the chat boards.  We just finished an awesome tea swap and she is currently running a gentlealong – a project that will make your life more gentle, which is something I think we can all use.  I’ve “met” some great knitters from England through the swap and, of course, Isabelle a/k/a Fluffy Fibers in France.

My first introduction to blogging was when I planned a 3 weeks trip to Australia back in 2008.  (For more on my blog history you can read this post)  At about the time I decided to also blog about knitting I found Knit and Crochet Blog Week which gave me a springboard.  That first year I “met” knitrun4sanity and have enjoyed interacting with her now for a couple of years.  Since then I have been slowly expanding my online community.  I find the internet slightly terrifying with all the awful trolls out there but it seems the more you dive in the more you get out of it.

There were comments on the challenge post asking if anyone was still reading blogs.  I am!!  I also have some very loyal readers so even if I feel like I’m typing to myself I find someone is reading.  I’m not sure how My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures or Funky Air Bear or Windy Wonderings found my blog but I know they are out there reading and I am reading their lovely posts.

Twitter and Instagram also offer some great opportunities to interact with the fiber world.  Both are a little like black holes – you start following one person and find other people and still more people.  Which leads me back to A Playful Day – I have no idea what Twitter post I read that led me to finding A Playful Day but here we are.  I feel jumping into a Twitter conversation with knitter is far less scary than commenting on a more general topic.  I also have to admit to being freaked out when I found out how “small” the knitting community is.  Once you are on Twitter and you see all your favorite designers and dyers chatting with each other your head kind of explodes.  But, most are also happy to chat with me or you which is so awesome!

Instagram is evil – you can follow yarn from sheep to finished product and I should not be allowed on there, all that wonderful hand-dyed yarn that is on display ALL the time!  Both give me another way and opportunity to interact with the knitting community.

Perfect example – the other night on Instagram Fiona & Amanda at Knitsocial posted a picture of a sock they were knitting out of Regia’s Fluormania Neon Beach and I had just finished a sock with the same yarn.  I used a spiral pattern that really tweeked the color changes so I was amazed to see how their sock was turning out using a straight sock pattern.  I commented on their post and was pleased to “chat” about our socks.  (And for the record, my picture of my finished sock is my most liked Instagram photo to date 🙂 )

I think those are most of my thoughts on community and interaction.  I look forward to the rest of this month’s prompts and to see who they will add to my community!

A Playful Day

I Heart Knitters!

This month’s finished object is a quick and easy project that literally only takes a couple of hours to knit up!  I feel like I’m cheating but I did knit it this month and it is finished (let’s ignore all the other projects hanging about needles all over the house right now…)  I was invited to a surprise 60th birthday party for one of my knitting friends, we’ll call her AH.  The theme was 60 Shades of Gray (ha ha!).  AH had very kindly made made us paper woven hearts for Christmas and they reminded me of the Dansk Hjerte pattern that was published in the Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts 2012 issue.  I had made one for a co-worker for Christmas in 2013.  We talked about the knitting version and I never got around to digging out my copy of the magazine.  So, her birthday was a great excuse to make her one!  I bought two shades of gray Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift and set off to work.  I was super excited!

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I still had yarn left so I made another heart for the Fluffy Fibers tea swap.  If you’ve never listened to the Fluffy Fibers podcast highly recommend it!  Of course, I’m a huge lover of France so I love listening to Isabelle talk about the beautiful south of France.  A few months ago one of her listeners suggested a tea swap as Isabelle almost always talks about what tea she is drinking.  It was super fun and it was the first time I’ve participated in a swap on Ravelry.  We were to include a few bags of tea, a note explaining our tea choices and a small crafted or tea related item.  My original plan was to knit up a small drawstring bag but that was going super slow and I was time crunched and that’s when it hit me – another heart!  I sent the heart, loose tea from the Tea Lab which is a cool, local tea shop, a couple of sugar stirs and some tea bags to use with the loose tea off to England.  So, there’s Cleveland tea over in jolly old England!

I received a package from a different person in England.  It included several bags of tea including English Breakfast and English Afternoon tea – gotta love they distinguish between morning and afternoon tea!  A small, I believe tea bag placing plate and then you can see in the picture the pink (which matches my kitchen excactly!) tea cloth I received.  I did not exactly know what it was but I’ve noticed in pictures from British knitters on Instagram that it appears they use these as pads for their tea set up.  Excellent idea!

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I don’t know how other swaps on Ravelry work but it was a great first experience.  I especially loved the global element involved with this one.   Another perk of the swap – I got a random message from one of the participants, she had noticed I specified a particular type of French tea I enjoy but have a hard time finding in the States and she sent me a link to a tea shop in Dallas that carries a nice variety!  I love knitters!

So, my friend loved her two shades of gray heart and was super surprised at her party!  And, my other heart made it’s way across the pond!  They were quick knits but well appreciated by fellow knitters and it really is a great gift idea and can be made in any other color combination with any stash you have around the house!