April 22, 2015

A Little Late - When Blogging Gets Ugly

This weeks theme for The Love Your Blog Challenge (a few days late) is:

I get the top half but not the bottom half (I don't think anyone is jealous of me). For me, blogging gets ugly when I feel guilt.  I feel guilt when I don't blog on time (like this post should have gone out on Monday but I was out of town).  I feel guilt when I don't have anything relevant to say.  I feel guilt when life has me so down I don't blog because I'm afraid it will turn into a pity party or a rant.  I guess I should just let go of the guilt and blog when and how I can (basically I have done that).

I have had a few ugly moments with comments - one time it happened when I complained that someone on Ravelry thought my pricing was too high on a hat.  So I opened a discussion of the design process and my time that I put into it - I published the comments but found them a bit harsh.  I know this is nothing compared to what can happen.

As a result of my blogging, my daughter took it up - she had a fashion one with OOTD posts (outfit of the day).  She also did a home design one and recently has a cooking one.  She also used to post a lot on Tumblr - quite honestly I don't get Tumblr but she loves (loved) it.  Now, we can talk about UGLY!  There are a bunch of haters on that site and they are not afraid to lash out.  There were days my daughter would be so upset by what people were saying about her posts.  Sadly, I find that social media has allowed us to be ugly without thinking.  I found these - all are true and I wish people would think of them before posting nastiness.  I really like the first one.

April 15, 2015

"Gonna Try With A Little Help From My Friends"

"What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?"  Okay, start humming and you'll have the Beatles tune stuck in your head.

I've been asked to design a shawl for the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl which takes place this September.  When handed a lovely skein of Malabrigo Sock, the design just flew off my needles.  I've written it up and have plans to photograph it in Boston next week with my "model" who will be on vacation.

Anyway, I'm hoping for a little help from my friends as I'd love a couple of test knits before it is released.  It calls for one skein of fingering weight yarn and it is a relatively quick knit.  I can't pay you and I don't have yarn to give you BUT if you have some yarn in your stash and are willing to lend some help to a friend, send me a PM on Ravelry or contact me through the profile button on the sidebar.  I'll email you the pattern and when it is released, you will get a final copy and I'll gift you any pattern you choose from my Ravelry store.

Here's a little peek of the edging - not a great photo but it gives you an idea of how it looks.

"Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends."

April 13, 2015

In The Beginning

This week's prompt for the Love Your Blog challenge is Beginnings.

As it applies to my blogging - it began in 2006 when my sister started a blog for the two of us to share our knitting.  It was called "Show Me The Knitting".  She wrote this:

Hoping you'll join me!

So, what do you think? I thought this would be a better way to share our knitting, and the cool sites we find. Although blogger can get bogged down, and uploading photos sometimes takes some time, it's much easier to comment on the projects this way.

I'm hoping you don't think I'm a huge loser dork. I dropped the old blog I had, as keeping up with the family one is all I can do. However, I still write you & show you what I'm doing, as you do for me.
So we started a back and forth conversation about what we were knitting, things we had discovered, etc.  
My sister's last post was December 12, 2007 when she noted she wasn't blogging:

It's Embarrassing

I know...it's "Show Me the Knitting" and I haven't.
I know...it's "Two Sisters, one blog" and there has been only one sister.

Sorry. After a while, it becomes embarrassing, and I don't even look at the blog. I have been knitting, and I have been thinking about blogging...just haven't been doing it.

So, I take a deep breath, and jump in again, knowing you won't hold it against me.
I too started to notice I was the only one blogging and sharing...it was a one sided conversation so on September 10, 2008 I decided it was time for my own platform and I started this blog.
The other aspect of Beginnings I want to talk about is how my blog was the beginning of sharing my own knitting designs.  It started slowly with a sweater here and there that I crafted for myself or our daughter.
The beginning was October 2007 when my daughter saw my Fetching fingerless mitts and asked for her own pair.  So I adapted the pattern and made these:

Then I had some yarn and we designed a summer tank for her...she picked out the stitch pattern on the sides and I created.

I then created something just for me - I loved the detail in the back of a twisted rib section.  That was an aha moment of how little details are everything.

My first published pattern in August 2009 - another beginning - was this scarf (Saphira Scarf).  It was a free pattern and it was when I dipped my toe into publishing patterns on Ravelry.

It took me until March 2012 to publish another pattern - Farfalle.  It's a free pattern too and is one of my most popular downloads (as free patterns are downloaded a lot).  

That was the beginning - I have been publishing patterns ever since.  If it weren't for my blogging, I don't know if I would have had the confidence to publish patterns.  The comments I get whenever I post something help me to try new things.

April 11, 2015

More Placemats

After my trip to Pasa Yarns, I warped my loom using some of the cotton I purchased there.  I really didn't have a plan for the pattern - it just kind of evolved.

I love how when you switch colors things happen - I love symmetry, I love playing with color, I am loving the experience of weaving.

These aren't perfect - you can see my edges are a bit wobbly - the next set will be better.  They need a good ironing.  I'm giving these to one of my sisters for her birthday next week.  I hope she likes them.  I've already warped the loom again to try some other patterns.

April 9, 2015

Podcasts new to me

I recently discovered a few new podcasts - I love podcasts.  I listen to them while walking, when I weave, in the car on long drives - they are company, they are informative, they are inspiring.

Woolful is a podcast full of fibery goodness from beginning to end.  The host, Ashley Yousling, interviews all sorts of people associated with fiber in some way.  What I love most about her style is she lets the person she is interviewing speak at length without interruption.  There is a back and forth but when these talented people talk about their craft, their passion comes through as they aren't being prompted - they are speaking from the heart.

I also stumbled upon Pomcast - an offshoot of PomPom Quarterly, a British publication.  The interviews are wonderful as is the banter between the two hosts. It makes me want to check out PomPom Quarterly.

In keeping with the British theme, Curious Handmade has also hit my radar screen.  This too has good interviews and prattle about all things knitterly.

Would love to hear if you have a podcast you like - there are more listed in my sidebar.

April 7, 2015

I DO love my blog!

Kate over at A Playful Day is hosting a blog-along...where bloggers share their love for their blog and blogging and the community it creates.

This weeks theme is "interactions and community".  There have been many times where I've considered giving up on my blog - every time I put it out there all those who lurk and read my blog pipe up and remind me that I do have a voice and they enjoy my blog.

What I love about blogging is the people I've "met" through my blog and the blogs I read.  The first person I really "met" was Jennifer aka Major Knitter.  When we realized we lived close to each other we met up and I since joined her weekly knitting group and developed a whole new community in my life.

I also used my blog to get help for Haitians after their earthquake - I was amazed how many people donated to my Hats for Haiti contest.  Another way community plays into the blogging world.

I also like when I throw something out there and I get a reaction or conversation going.  One time I went on a mini-rant about how I think there are more than enough shawl patterns out there.  Well, that got a conversation going.  Or how I discussed my way of setting in sleeves...another good conversation.

Lastly, I love the support of the blogging community - be it for a new pattern or if I've had a bad day or if I'm trying to start a conversation about something...the blogging world is out there.  I DO love my blog (and I thank my sister for getting me into it back in January 2006).

To keep the community going, leave a comment and tell me how you "met" me and my blog.  Even better tell me what you like about it or want me to talk about in future posts.

April 4, 2015

A Bit About Goodreader

My mention of Goodreader as one of my favorite things prompted some questions and comments so I thought I'd talk about it a bit more with a few screen captures from my own iPad.

My friend, Lisa, who I know from our Connecticut knitting group (both she and I moved away) left this comment:

I totally agree and second your opinion on Goodreader. I very seldom use paper anymore. I love the highlighting, the ability to comment, the freehand (I use to make hashtags for counting sometimes or write down a row number), the moveable lines for keeping track of where I am on a chart or written rows of pattern and also you can enlarge a portion as needed. It is a lifesaver if you put your project down for a while because you found something else to start. And as you mention, patterns are with you wherever you go because of course your iPad is too! Can't say enough good things about Goodreader!!

Just yesterday I was in the car with my son driving on his way home for Easter vacation and I pulled out my iPad and continued on a lace pattern scarf I started for my LYS.  It's all right there and I can make notations as I go along.

See that bar of notations on the right hand side?  That's your toolbar.  It lets you pick out what you want to do...the very bottom one is a free hand writing tool - that makes the notations of the lines on the left that I marked off where I worked.  There is an underlining tool, highlighting tool, an eraser, arrows to mark sections, etc.

On this screen capture you can see I used the tools to highlight which size instructions  I need and then I marked which size needle changes I did based on my gauge.  I can change the color of my writing to help categorize the notes.  On the right you see some cross hatches - those are notes for how many times I did a repeat.

The other great thing about Goodreader is it can organize your patterns.  I have categories that I keep them stored in so I can go back to them with my notes on them.

Here's the table of contents...you can see I have cowls, hats, Christmas, mittens, baby, etc.  The ones listed below the folders are ones I'm currently using.  So all in one place I have a bunch of patterns instead of many pieces of paper.  There are several Goodreader tutorial videos - I suggest you check them out.  I can't say enough about this app - it really has helped my knitting organization.

April 1, 2015

Good Feedback!

Thanks for the comments you left on my last two posts...I always like when there is a discussion on my blog and I'm not writing into a vacuum or talking to myself.

Eileen left this comment asking about stitch markers and how you use them:

I've never learned how to use markers. Do they stay on the needle or are they in the knitted piece and if so, how do you remove them? I know that probably sounds like an odd question but a picture or two would be helpful.

Well, that is a good question and one I get often when I teach classes and introduce a knitter to stitch markers.  They don't get knitted into the piece - they sit between stitches and you just slide the marker when you are working.  I found this bit on Lion Brand's site explaining stitch markers.  There are several videos and I found this good blog post too.

Tall Cottage Thoughts left this question about Goodreader:

Digital scares me. How do you keep a screen lit up long enough to see it while working? If I'm understanding digital correctly, you're not printing out a hard copy. Please explain further and just how do you mark your pattern (without highlighter, I understand) - like you circled the hat pattern?

I'll answer these as best I can but now realize I need a whole separate post on going digital...so you won't get all the answers here but it's a start.

The screen stays lit for quite a while on Goodreader - I don't know why but it does.  If I'm working a chart that is intricate I have learned to print that out.  You can go into your settings and change how long you want your screen to stay lit which will also help.

I don't print out a hard copy at all if I have a PDF.  This is great when I'm on a road trip - I'll never forget the time I had a pattern from Knitty printed out but didn't realize the charts where a separate print job.  I was on a 4 hour trip and had only 30 minutes worth of knitting as my instructions were at home.  I was miserable and so was my family with all my grumbling.  When you have the PDF downloaded into Goodreader, EVERYTHING is there for your use.  No loose pages falling under the car seat or getting crinkled, no forgetting a page, etc.

More to come on Goodreader in a future post - will have to do some screen captures to help explain.

Keep the comments coming!

March 30, 2015

A Few Of My Favorite Things - Part 2

My last post was about some of my favorite tools that I keep in my pencil case - I thought I'd show you the case - it is clear which lets me see what is in there so I can find things quickly.  Here are the front and back views:

You can see a highlighter (great for printed out patterns but more on that later as I've gone digital), some needle sizers, a Chibi case of assorted needles, Eucerin for my hands and a few balls of scrap yarn.  I always have that in my case as you never know when you need to put your stitches on waste yarn.  I always tell people when they ask if they can take needles on a plane to have waste yarn and a tapestry needle just in case someone hasn't gotten the memo about needles being okay on a plane.  This way you may lose your needles but you won't lose your knitting!

This view shows from left to right a tape measure, a holder for post it notes (my sister gave me this a while back it is made by Lantern Moon and I love it) and try it on tubing which I spoke about in the last post.

I also found these wonderful stacking tubes at the Container Store - I have all my stitch markers in them.  Like the pencil case, it is clear so I can see exactly which section I need to access.  I  sort them by size and on the very bottom I have locking stitch markers.

Speaking of locking stitch markers, they are a must for knitting.  I use them to mark the right side of a project - especially at the beginning when you aren't sure if it is the right or wrong side which happens in garter or some other stitch patterns.  I also use them when I am knitting two sleeves or two cardigan fronts at the same time - by connecting the two with a stitch marker you won't be tempted to turn your work before completing the work on the second sleeve or front ending up with lopsided work.

My most recent valuable tool is on my iPad.  Goodreader is an app that allows you to download your knitting patterns.  You can then annotate the pattern to highlight the size you are working on (hence no need for my old highlighter).  You can also type notes on the pattern, mark it up with drawings and notes.  I LOVE this app and have stored many patterns this way - you can save your annotated patterns with all the notes in case you want to knit another item using all the info.  I love it so much I've taught several classes at my LYS on how to use it and I must admit I am constantly finding new ways to use it (just like Ravelry).

I am sure there are many more tools I could talk about but would love to hear from you if you feel I've left anything out or if you want to share your favorite tool.  We knitters have to stick together and by sharing our tools we help each other out.

March 28, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things - Part 1

When I am knitting or teaching a class, I always have my zippered pencil case with all my helpful tools with me.  Over time some things in it have proved helpful and some have proved invaluable.

Recently I had a woman take my class because she was having problems with some quilt blocks which are basically knit and purl patterns.  I quickly shared two of my favorite tools and it changed her life - a row counter and post it notes.  I showed her how the row counter will keep her honest and by using a post it note on the pattern she can guide her eye to the row she is working on very easily.  From the look on her face you would have thought I was the Einstein of knitting...a total "aha" moment for her.

So this prompted me to share with you a few of my favorite tools I use daily:

Clover Row Counter - also known as the Mini Kacha Kacha.  I prefer this one to the red one as it has a lock on it (little fingers and even teenage fingers like to play with these things).  It also has a little hole where you can thread through a string and attach it to your project or even better if you have several floating around you run some of the yarn that is for the project it is used for and it will let you know which one goes with which project.

Susan Bates Handi Tool - this one is a newer addition to my bag of tricks.  If I encounter a stitch I've dropped just the row before, I don't use this tool as it is an easy fix.  BUT if I have to drop down several rows (and do something wild like rework a 4 stitch cable), then this tool is a lifesaver.

Chibi Needles are a must - I have all of them but recently purchased this set and find they are the ones I reach for the most.  The bent tips let you grab stitches and really are helpful when doing the mattress stitch.  I have also been using them while weaving - they are great for hemstitching!

Try It On Tubing - I've talked about this stuff before...it rocks when you are doing a seamless knit and want to try it on.  I've also used it for hats that I'm knitting on a 16" circular and want to try on.  It is available here.  Don't get the 1 yard - go for the 2 yard and get both sizes.

Clover Triangle Stitch Markers - For years I used the round stitch markers and when I started working at my LYS I discovered these triangle shaped ones.  They are wonderful!  They come in all sizes but I mostly have the pink and green ones for size 6-8 needles.  Stitch markers not only mark the beginning of a round but I also use them as reminders for my fingers that I need to do something different. For example when I was making my son's blanket, I had one at each section so I could remind myself to look down and do what stitch was necessary.  I also put them where increases need to happen on a shawl center stitch or if I have a border stitch section they are used there.

I have more tools I want to share with you - stay tuned!

March 20, 2015

Field Trip

When I finished my placemats, I asked Debbie (the owner of the LYS where I work) where she gets her cotton for weaving.  She told me about Pasa Yarns in Uxbridge.  She gave me fair warning their hours are not regular so I should call and ask first.

I called Pasa Yarns and asked the man who answered the phone what the hours were for Thursday (yesterday).  His answer was "our hours are when I am here".  I laughed and he said around 9-4 or 5 but he runs out for the mail around 10am.

So yesterday I printed out directions (I have a not so smart phone and my GPS is from the previous century I think) and headed to Uxbridge.  I drove through the town of Milford which had some charming buildings - I loved their town hall.  The sun was glistening off the dome - here are some pictures I found of it.

Then after a bit I hit Uxbridge and had to guess at a few turns as the streets were not marked.  I came across the Pasa Yarns building which is in an old mill.

When Debbie told me it was a yarn store I expected a traditional yarn store with the addition of cones of cotton available.  As I walked up the creaky old stairs of a building (I asked and learned was rebuilt after a fire in 1844), I began to suspect this was not what I expected.  Here's what I saw when I entered.  Nope,  this was not your average yarn shopping expedition.

There was a woman working in the back of the room - she was operating this skein winding matching.  I was totally fascinated.  Poor thing had rough, raw hands from the particular fiber she was winding that day - we decided it was the metallic thread running through it.

After rummaging around and consulting with the owner on the correct weight for my placemats, I picked out 6 cones.  The cost was $3/lb...I had 7lbs...I paid $21.75 for all this yarn!  What a productive field trip!

I can't wait to warp my loom!

March 17, 2015

Sometimes I Feel So Clever

My loom was sitting in the corner calling to me so I pulled it out and warped it with some Classic Elite Seedling I had intended for placemats.  I put in some stripes on the warp which I then also did on the weft.

I purchased a rotary cutter so the fringe would be even and straight (40% off at JoAnn Fabrics too!).

Here they are in their glory - I am feeling very clever and so proud of my new skill of hemstitching.  I need to make more of these.  This set is for my parents who are treating me to a trip to visit them next month.

March 14, 2015

One of the Perks

When you work in a yarn store, there are certain perks...working with fibery goodness, seeing yarns as they come out, etc.  This month's perk has been on my calendar for ages - Norah Gaughan is doing a farewell tour with her 16th Berroco book and sweater samples.  I was asked if I would like to work the night she was visiting my LYS - silly question, of course I would (and I had marked the date on my calendar ages ago).

It was a fun evening and we had a chance to chat before the doors opened to customers (and fans).  On my way to the store I called my knitting sister and told her she was the only one in our family who would understand the import of the evening...she got it.  I considered going all "fan girl" and bringing in my Norah Gaughan Volumes 1 and 3 (3 is the best!) and Knitting Nature but held back and decided to just enjoy meeting her.

Norah was talking about how her Kaari pattern that was free for a limited time went viral (even though it was from Volume 1 and had been out for ages).  This lead to my telling her about my Boxing Day Mittens experiment.

I had the chance to peruse the Vol 16 collection which was in a range of blues.  One of the items I thought was a capelet - turns out it was a skirt.  Another woman thought the same thing and put it on that way - guess what?  It is an amazing capelet and creative minds were flying on what yarns to use, how to make it a bit bigger, etc.  I'm now thinking I need to design a capelet.

A few photos from the night - the one of the two ladies smiling for the camera is Andra Asars (our Berroco rep) with Norah.  Andra is amazing - she is full of energy, creativity and a passion for her job.

March 10, 2015

Bellini Cowl

After a bit of working (and ripping out), I finished the cowl that uses both Classic Elite Sanibel and Santorini.  I went through my usual name struggle and was giving it the working name of Two Sans Cowl (SANibel and SANtorini).  Then I called it the SanSan Cowl for two minutes.  Finally, I focused on the end of each name SaniBEL and SantorINI and named it Bellini Cowl.

This photo isn't the greatest (iPad) but it gives you an idea of how it looks with the solid and variegated yarns.  I decided since it was a collaboration and adaptation that I wouldn't put it for sale on Ravelry.  Instead, it is at my LYS as a pattern you get when you purchase the yarn.

Yesterday I cast on a new design for the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl - I've been asked to do a shawl for the crawl.  I'm using Malabrigo Sock and having a wonderful time.

March 6, 2015

New Yarn - New Ideas

This past Tuesday while I was working at my LYS, a box of Classic Elite yarns came into the store.  In it was a new yarn called Santorini.  It's basically a variegated version of Sanibel.  One of the more popular patterns at the store is a free one using 2 skeins of Sanibel.

So the LYS owner, Debbie, and I got to thinking of how to use this new yarn and Sanibel to create another cowl.

We picked these colors and I went home and started knitting.

I have a finished product I'm calling Two Sans Cowl (SANibel and SANtorini).  I have to run it by Debbie and we'll discuss if it is a free pattern or not.  I love new yarns leading to new ideas.