Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wanted: The Perfect Pattern

Check it out!

Once a month, the Knit Night I go to encourages spinners to bring their wheels and their hand-spinning thing-a-ma-jigs so they can all spin together while the less multi-craftual of us keep working on our knitting.  One of the ladies, we'll call her Meredith, since that's the name of her wheel, was working on spinning up the most beautiful, glowy puff of merino & tussah silk.  It was full of magic and stardust and was dyed some of my favorite colors - purple, blue with a bit of dark limey green.  I just wanted to grab it, rub it on my face, sniff it, and run away with it before Meredith could get out from behind her wheel and chase me down.

Instead of indulging my primitive instincts, I just complimented it instead.  I am not a spinner, so I have a hard time looking at a batt and visualizing what it's going to look like as a finished skein of yarn, but I figured she just couldn't go wrong starting out with something so lovely.  I knew it would spin up into something special!

So imagine my surprise when Meredith showed up to Knit Night last week with the finished skein and GAVE IT TO ME.  (Thank you, Meredith!  You know who you are!)   Oh my goodness.  Now, I already tend to have the disease called "I can't knit this Very Special Yarn until I have found the Perfect Pattern" anyway, but when this feeling is aimed at a one-of-a-kind skein of yarn that I know I'll only have one chance at, this disease comes on even stronger!  So right now, I really have no idea what I will turn this into.  It's about 350 yards of sport-weight yarn.  I'm thinking perhaps some kind of scarf, but with the variation in color, it can't have too crazy a texture going on.  I'm not sure yet if it'll knit up into stripes, long color-changes or crazy variegated color splotches....when I start swatching, the way the color comes out may change my mind about what I want to do with it.

If you have any fantastic patterns I need to see that use 350 yards or less of lighter weight yarn, I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Update

So....I haven't fallen off the planet.  As I predicted, it's just way more difficult to carve out a little blogging time now that the kids are both at home during the day.  Add to that that in the past 2 weeks we've put about 400 miles on the car driving the kids to and from summer camp (they attended the same camp, but went during two different sessions) and I've painted 5 different areas of my house, and you can see how things have gotten really busy really fast!

Still, I'm happy that I'm ticking off some of the things I put on my list of summer goals at the beginning of June!

Let me refresh your are the lists:

As for this summer, I have 4 knitting goals:
1) Knit a couple patterns from other designers
2) Finish up the two secret test knits & get those patterns finalized
3) Finish the Craftsy classes I am part of the way through
4) Work on reformatting my older patterns that actually sell to my new layout

And 4 personal goals:
1) Make time to do some fun stuff with the kids
2) Paint the hallway and the banged-up white trim (and bug Jason until he gets the bathroom ceiling painted)
3) Continue to exercise (which I'm really good about during the school year, but really bad about once the kids are home for the summer and it's really hot outside)
4) Get our cat + furniture situation sorted out (I've been trying to train our cats to use their scratching posts instead of our furniture for 4 years now, and I've failed's time to get the cats declawed, then replace the shredded furniture)

I haven't started working on Goals 1, 3 & 4 of the Knitting list yet, but I do have both test-knits currently running and they are going well.  I wish I could find more people interested in test-knitting the larger sizes (like size 45" chest and up), but I am happy about the testers who have signed up and have been loving the project photos I've seen so far.  It never fails to thrill me when I see pictures of things people make out of a pattern I've written.  The testers of my winter pullover have given me a collection of great suggestions, so I'll have some editing & clarifying to do, as well as inserting an illustration, but I've been happy to see that there wasn't much in the way of errors in the pattern once I sent it to testers.  I always get to breathe a big sign of relief once a few testers have made it through a pattern and don't report any numbers being off!

The summer test knit is just getting underway, so I haven't gotten a lot of feedback yet.  Both of these patterns have sections that are charted, so I actually really enjoyed producing those charts.  I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a lace wrap that will be almost entirely charted.  The charting software I settled on (Stitch Mastery) wasn't cheap, but it's been pretty easy to learn to use and, so far, it has been able to do everything I've needed it to do, so I'm very happy with it.  

Anyway, back to the goals.  

Personal list:

#1: The kids have actually been having almost non-stop fun so far this summer.  A week of camp for each kid (and a week home alone with mom for the kid not at camp), tennis classes for my son, summer "open gym" gymnastics for my daughter, walks to the candy shop, a weekend together at grandma & grandpa's house without mom & dad there....they have not been bored!  But I do want to do more fun stuff with them once I'm done with all the house projects.  I don't think it'll take me more than 1 more week to finish up though, so by July, I'll be free of the big house projects!

#2: I'm 5/6ths done.  Our "paint the hallway and trim" project turned into "paint the trim of 9 doorways,  paint the hallway, repair the paint in the foyer, paint 2 walls of the kitchen, paint the entire master bathroom, paint one wall of the master bedroom, and paint the back entryway.  All the extra projects are due to having a plaster repairman fix a bunch of wall cracks that were coming from the corners of 6 different doorways.  It wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had leftover paint that still matched ANY of the walls that were repaired.  But I didn't, so it's been quite a production.  Anyway, I'm completely done with everything except the back entryway.  As a bonus, I also updated the decorations in the hallway, foyer & kitchen.  Most of it was from 15 years ago when we moved into this house, so I enjoyed getting to pick out a couple new mirrors, pieces of art & picture frames that I filled with updated photos.  

#3: I've been an epic fail at organized exercise, but I figure that washing walls, sanding walls and painting is at least more "exercise" than it is "being lazy".   Plus, there have been a few epic shopping trips with lots of walking associated with the big house project.  So I'm not feeling too bad about this goal.  I'll be a little more organized about it once I'm done starting my day with 3-4 hours of painting work!

#4: The cat situation is still under close watch.  Every time I think "Ok, it's time to call the vet and get the cats declawed", the cats start using their scratching posts more and the couches less.  I hate the idea of declawing the cats, but they are 5 years old now (so I wonder how likely it is that we'll be able to train them to stop scratching furniture now if we've been failures at it for the past 5 years), and our upholstered furniture is destroyed.  Like really, really scratched up.  I've been saving for a year to buy a couple new couches & chairs, but I don't want to do it before I a) know I can trust the cats not to destroy the new stuff, or b) the cats are declawed.  Anyhoo...working on this goal, but it's slooooow going!

So that's about it from here for now.

Oh, you want a knitting update?

How about a picture of my KAL sweater?
All reinforced and ready to cut......

And after the steek was cut...

Now it's all ready for the finishing work.  Deadline is June 30th....think I'll make it??

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Knit In Public Week

 If you follow my Facebook Trappings & Trinkets page, this post is going to be old news.  But for those of you who don't....

Last week was World Wide Knit in Public Week!  The point is to promote the fiber arts by sharing our craft in public.  This is not a new thing for me, since I'm someone who almost always grabs a project on the way out the door just in case I get stuck waiting in a line, waiting for my kids, or I have a little time to kill while I'm out doing something else.  But I'm always up for a challenge, so when the ladies at my LYS said that the goal this week was to knit in 5 public places, I decided to see how many places I could get a little stitching done at!

I started on Monday, bringing my project along when my daughter and I went out to lunch.  She ate a little slower than I did, so I finished a few rows while she finished her broccoli & cheddar soup.

On Tuesday, she and I were out again.  I got a little knitting done while we were waiting for her appointment at the orthodontist's office, then brought it to lunch when we met my husband at Noodles & Company.  Yes, I eat lunch at restaurants far too much.

I was pretty busy on Wednesday working on some painting repairs in my foyer.  But by the time my daughter's softball game rolled around that evening, I was ready for a little knitting.  At this very windy game, I learned a little lesson about lace charts not being a good match for windy days.

I got a ton of knitting done on Thursday.  We had 4 hours total in the car, picking our son up from the summer camp he had spent the week at.  My fantastic husband drove both ways, which left me free to knit.  I took my knitting in to the restaurant we had lunch at, too.

On Friday, I started off the morning bright & early with a doctor's appointment. It's a new doctor, so I carefully packed the old medical records I wanted to supply the new office with, then I grabbed my knitting bag.  Somehow, I managed to drop the envelope of records without noticing before I got out the door, so I arrived at the doctor's office 25 minutes later with just the knitting bag.

Turns out, the guy kept me waiting for over an hour, so I was glad it was the records I forgot and not y project bag!

Later in the day, I went to my LYS to knit a bit and chat with the owners.  They had two deliveries from Three Irish Girls and Malabrigo, so I picked the right day to stop by!

Over this past week, I definitely saw more people than usual knitting, crocheting & spinning in public.  So, I think that many people in my area must have gotten the memo.  How about you?  Did you make a point of taking your project out into the world last week?  Do you have a favorite place to knit outside of your own home?  I always like going to Knit Nights at my LYS, but I am very grateful to have a project along when I get stuck in the waiting room of a doctor, dentist, or when picking up my kids who are running late at an activity!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

KAL Prizes!

So, starting this KAL was kind of spur-of-the-moment, which is why I wasn't all organized on prizes when it began.  I've been in contact with a few generous people who offered to donate prizes for some of the people who finish the KAL by our end date of June 30th!

Here are the goodies:

First, Teresa (or Lileesgram on Ravelry) offered up anything in her Etsy shop for $9.99 or less (or that amount off a higher-cost purchase.)

She has four pages of inventory to choose from, but among my Under $10 favorites were this fun sock yarn.....

....some nice, smooth-looking stitch markers that wouldn't catch on anything (as is often my problem with this "dangly-style" of marker).....

....and some pretty ribbon-covered magnetic place markers to use with printed patterns so you can easily follow the line you're reading in a chart or mark where you left off in written instructions.

Make sure to check out her Etsy shop here.

I briefly considered giving away coupon codes for a few free patterns from my collection, but I got to thinking about the people who I've come to know as my customers.  The awesome thing about them is that when I release a new pattern, I see a lot of familiar names in the crowd that buys new stuff immediately.  So I wondered if someone who was just completing one of my patterns would be super excited about winning another as a prize.  (And I don't mean that in a "woe-is-me-I'm-not-worthy" sort of way.  I just mean it in a "there's-a-big-world-out-there-and-I'm-not-the-center-of-it" sort of way.)  So instead of offering up more of my own stuff, I decided to contact a few designers whose work I admire and ask them if they'd donate a free pattern.  I get to give a shout-out to some people who are doing great work and possibly introduce you to some designers you might not already be familiar with!

The first lovely designer is Amy Miller (amymiller on Ravelry).  You may know her from Rayures, a striped infinity scarf she designed for the Quince & Co publication "Scarves, Etc."  She caught my attention when she put out "Sperry", the sweater pattern pictured at right, a couple months ago.  Now that I look back through her older patterns, there are plenty of things I would wear!

Someone who completes the KAL is going to win a free pattern from her collection!

I found Diana Rozenshteyn (deenulya on Ravelry) because I've been loving her Bubblemania scarf for many moons.  She has a number of lovely shawl patterns as well, including the one pictured at left, Afterglow, and the green one below, Once Upon a Leaf.

Three lucky winners will each get a free download from her collection!

Ruth Garcia-Alcantud (or rockandpurl on Ravelry) was the third designer I contacted (and can you believe that they were all awesome enough to offer patterns??), and she said that she wanted to donate one garment pattern and one accessory pattern, too!

If I  was picking one of her garment patterns to knit, I think I'd go for Echoes of Winter, the pullover pictured at left.

Looking through her accessories, the pretty stitch patterns in her Libelula Shawl caught my eye.

I'll get to draw two winners who will each get to download a free Rock and Purl pattern!

Finally, I'm donating a bit of yarn from my own stash.  I bought 3 skeins of Quince & Company's Finch yarn last year with the intention of making a baby dress from it.  Then I ended up using one of the skeins for my Pastoral Cowl, so I probably don't have enough left for my original baby dress idea.

That'll be lucky for one winner though, who could make a pair of socks, a Pastoral Cowl, some legwarmers, or a scarf from these two skeins - 442 yds of Quince & Co's Finch yarn in the Clay color way.

If you're already in the KAL, just make sure to post your finished photo to the prize thread by June 30 to be eligible for the prize drawing.  If you aren't already knitting with us, it's not too late!  Many of the sweaters in my collection could take less than a month to complete, so feel free to join in any time!