Friday, December 30, 2011

Things unblogged

Sometimes, in the course of knitting projects, they seem to fall by the roadside and never get blogged about.  I don't know why that seems to happen with some of them, with others I know that it is because the pattern isn't ready to share, or is waiting for a publish date....and it takes a long time to go from pattern creation through knitting, through marketing and then on to the publishing.

This winter BadCat Designs, or Andrea, had a pattern in Vogue Holiday Knitting. This pattern!

Here are my versions (yes two!)






I call them Queen of Hearts and Through the Looking Glass.  Mostly the difference is in the edging, one with and one without the scallops and ten million beads in the cast off edge!

It is almost time to start planning 2012 projects, what do you want to have on and off your needles in the coming year?

~M

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The answer is...

The questions was : Did you finish everything in time?
The answer is :   No.

TDQ's Almost Bow Tie Socks
Knit Picks Essential Plum Tweed  (I think this is another discontinued yarn!)
size 1 (US) needles.
Mods :  afterthought heels, modified the stitch pattern with a "slip as if to knit" rather than "knit one in the row below" just to make it quicker for myself.
This one was completed just in the nick of time, blocked over night Christmas Eve and popped into a stocking on Christmas morning!

Unfinished :
Yet Another Grey Hoodie
The zipper band is done, just need a cuff and one more sleeve along with sewing in a zipper...so pretty close, not quite.....

Epic Fail :

I can't even say that is most of a pair of socks, more like the start of a sock!
Plain vanilla, with another afterthought heel (this time because the monster man has big old feet and I am very concerned that the heels will end up in a different yarn!)
Doesn't look like much because I am not very far into them.

Even with incomplete knitting certain people in this family (namely all the not-quite-adults) were running around the house claiming it was the "Best Christmas, EVER!" so things turned out pretty well.

Maybe I can get these knits wrapped up for the New Year, but wait, there are games to play and lots of leftovers to eat..maybe in a little while I will pick up my knitting again.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, even the people who said Bah Humbug! (And yes, Amanda, I was talking to you!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The time has come, " the knitter said

It is official, if you still have a blanket, a hoodie sweater and two pairs of socks to get knitted up and off your needles by Christmas, go ahead and panic because time, my friend, is certainly marching on and the big day is less than a week away!

One more gift knit did make it off my needles this week.  I had to join several knit picks cables together to get a circular needle long enough to go all the way around but they make these nifty joiner things now so although tedious to keep cinching my knitting around the giant cable I had created I was able to work the entire border and edging in one piece!

To give you a quick reminder, way back in the spring I started knitting squares for a blanket for TDQ.  I used patterns from one of Bad Cat Designs knit alongs, Summer Squares and a bag of unknown yarn that I picked up for a song at a thrift store.  I used just about all of that yarn, and noticed once I was done that the darker color did seem to be in two different shades, but TDQ doesn't mind at all!

Rather than follow the rules (and we all know that women who follow the rules never make history!) I mashed up several of the different projects that were offered during that Knit Along and came up with "Cha Cha Cha Cha Changes"

This past week I cast her off and got my first good look since putting all those stitches on my giant circular needle.

What do you think?

She is 108 inches by 64 inches, contains 15 squares, many, many balls of yarn, the border from Blue Quartet and the edging from Summer Squares Blanket modified to work in the round.  With those dimensions I didn't have enough blocking wires to block the edges straight, and rather than dig for cotton to run through the edges for blocking I just put in some gentle waves for now.  Time for a proper straight edge blocking AFTER December 25th!

Oh, and Amanda, I am so sorry but I got carried away when I was weaving in ends and accidentally wove in the three you were going to do.  I will make sure to save you some out of my next "million and three ends to weave in" project.  Speaking of projects, I had better go work on some, I am the knitter who still has one blanket, one hoodie and two pair of socks to get on and off the needles in a week!

~M

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Now what was I supposed to be doing, again?

Oh yes, that's right, there is this biggish holiday coming up and people are expecting their knit goods as promised, but I seem to have got a little distracted along the way.

To recap, The Other Brother is done, he has : A green striped hoodie, A green blanket, and some very Pickle Green Socks...do you notice a trend there?

The First Twin (or brother depending on my mood) has...A pair of stripey ragg socks, a red striped hoodie and um, yeah, well he has a blanket that is 28 rounds from being ready to cast off.

The Drama Queen has: a purple sweater that she wants moved to being her birthday present so that she can have a purple striped hoodie (not done), a blanket that is 6 rows away from being ready for edging, and, well, um, I decided on the yarn for her socks but not the pattern. (you guessed right, though, the yarn is purple.) and I have how many days left?

Don't answer that! Especially as The Monster Man should get socks, he has a friend who wants socks, I have some friends who want stuff and in digging through my room today I have discovered that there is something I need for me....I have holes in the only pair of my socks that were left.

In the meantime, someone who has been helpful the past few months mentioned that she REALLY liked some socks that The First Brother had been wearing, so I might have been distracted making her socks.

No pattern, Vanilla Socks in Patons Kroy in Bronzed Berry Stripes
Size 1 (US) needles, ran out of yarn before I ran out of toe, so added some black, if I had planned ahead I would have done the heels in black too, but such is life!

I should be done Christmas shopping, I am not quite so mean that my children only get hand knits, but I am stuck.

Any suggestions on what to get the green loving 12 year old boy?

I have much knitting to do, so while you ponder that question I will get back to my needles.

~M

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now that, my friends, is a can of worms she opened!

So take a minute or three and run over to read what the Yarn Harlot wrote today.  I'll wait right here while you do.


Now I will tell you, right off, I consider myself a professional test/sample knitter.

When I knit samples, I can assure you I get paid either in cash money or an equal exchange of yarn and/or pattern books of my choice.  Sometimes I get a combination of the two and sometimes I get bonuses for speedy work or whatever it is that the designer/yarn company I am working for is most interested in on that particular day.  Samples are owned by the person or company that you knit for, they provide the materials, the pattern, even down to (usually) picking the colors you will work with, seems more than fair to get paid for your work.  And I negotiate, either setting a per piece price or a per yard price (with an enhancement to that price if it is an intricate piece, lace or heavy cables) that usually starts at 20 cents per yard and "flexes" from there.

But, bear in mind that means that something as simple as a plain pair of no pattern socks made out of approximately 400 yards of fingering weight will run about $80 on knitting alone.  Do you want to pay $80 for a pair of plain jane socks?  (Which is why yarn companies would much prefer to give you what retails for $80 worth of yarn - remember they own the stuff and make a profit on it retail, even make a profit on it wholesale so if you ask for say $100 worth of yarn they are still not paying $80 and get a tax write off to boot!)

Pattern testing is a whole different story, at least for me!  But, I have to tell you that I work with a couple of different designers who both take very different approaches to test knitters.

Designer A provides the pattern and on occasion the materials which I then knit, make my (usually few) pattern corrections, photo and keep to myself.  Designer A also provides free copies of any pattern they have in addition to what I have worked on and even provides non available patterns for my pleasure (one time I was saying I was in dire need of a sock pattern for some special yarn I had, low and behold in my email box appeared a pattern that has not been published, just for me to knit.)  My suggestions are taken seriously, with a cheery Thank You , with the added bonus of an intro to one yarn company that really enhanced my stash of cashmere yarns through sample knitting and a mention in the pattern as being of help, you really can't say I don't get "paid" to have the thrill of being one of the first people to knit the pattern...and in many cases let me tell you these patterns are a thrill to be the first to see!

Designer B provides the pattern, the materials and once I am done knitting I send back the finished project which they photo to suit the pattern, then send back to me along with copious amounts of yarn, even additional yarn throughout the year as "just because" presents.  As I get to keep the finished object I am given a choice of colors and always given as much time as I need to work on the project, the deadlines being fairly fluid.  Another designer that I consider a friend, even though we have never met in person, and who spoils me like crazy.

Designer C, well I got the pattern, used my own yarn, sent in my pattern corrections, got a brief mention on their blog that I was a test knitter and......that was it.

Guess who I never test knit for again?

What I decided, at least for myself as a "professional test knitter", is that small independent designers, the ones you can build a lasting relationship and friendship with, they deserve all the help they can get promoting this craft.  They seem to (at least two thirds of the time) genuinely want to provide some kind of exchange for what the test knitter provides.  Payment, not necessarily in hard cash, but in some form is traded and we all leave happy. Larger more commercial companies need to pay in hard cash to make the books balance, but are not as concerned with building friendships or taking suggestions from lowly test knitters as to what a pattern could be with a few modifications.  Either way, there has to be a perceived equality between what the test knitter does and what the designer provides, I say perceived because I always end up feeling like I am getting the better end of the deal, and the designers I work most often with tell me that they get the better end of the deal.

I agree, contracts, standards and fair wages would go a long way towards making this hobby of ours more of an industry and certainly make it easier for both designers and test knitters to negotiate when both had an idea where to start.

But, I think before we can set a "fair wage" and standardize this industry there is one more thing that needs fixing, and if she thinks about it the Yarn Harlot herself has even mentioned it before.  We, as knitters specifically and crafters in general need to stop down playing just how much work it takes to create something!

~M
stepping down off her soapbox now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

TDQ has not been happy this week, first her computer was acting up, worse than usual, and the only cure was a new hard drive. Luckily her dad is a soft touch when it comes to technology.  She asked and he provided the hardware, leaving me to figure out (the very easy really) installation and formatting.  I say very easy, and it is easy to say and do if you do not have hands that do whatever they want, whenever they want and not usually in the direction you want to go.  Timing was going to be crucial, awake enough to know what I was doing, "calmed" enough so that I could handle the itty bitty screws without sending them half way to China in the process.
Laptops are great except that lack of maneuvering room when you are working on them!

Second, on her way to meet the bus that picks her up at Oh dark hundred she noticed holes in her hat that let the wind nip at her ears.

The second was more easily fixed than the first!
Hurricane Hat  in J Knits Delightful (sadly discontinued now, I didn't think it had sat in my stash that long, but maybe it did!)  The color is Boston and it is a hand dyed blue tone worsted weight wool/alpaca blend.  Nice and soft around the ears.

In other knitting, I can finally say I am finished with one person on my list!
Socks for The Other Brother came off the needles this week, his blanket was finished in the summer and his hoodie just a post or two ago, three hand knit things and he is done, done, done!

No pattern to link for the socks, plain vanilla recipe with a four row repeat of some cluster stitches to stop me from having to literally count every row to match the two!

I also threw an unbreakable candy dish on and off the needles in an evening.  There is a plan for it, can't say right now what that is, but maybe in a few weeks (wink).
TDQ says it is a good start on designing her a fez*, maybe for her birthday.  :)

I still have miles of knitting to do and only three weeks to get them done, how is your holiday knitting coming?

Amanda, I will let you know when I am ready for help weaving in ends, even just three would be a help.  :)

~M

According to the Doctor, a fez is cool!