Monday, May 30, 2016

I'm Convinced This Went Faster the Last Time!

Do you remember the "two weeks until the end of the contest" shawl that I designed and knit?

The one that I spent days convinced I was going to miss the deadline, that I didn't swatch for (and I regretted that decision) and finished up with a couple of days to spare?

I ended up charting every stitch in the shawl, which involved having an excel spreadsheet that was over 500 cells wide, to make sure that everything stacked up the way I wanted.  Grabbed a size smaller needles and cast it on again, after the contest was over.

And here we are, well over a week since the contest ended and the picture, although of a second shawl, is almost exactly the same as one I showed you before....the 40% mark.

For me, one of two things happens the second time I knit something.  Either it goes much faster because I am familiar with the pattern already, or it goes much slower because, well, I get bored easily in my knitting!

That would probably be why I am not a monogamous knitter!

This past week I also played with a ball of yarn that warped the space time continuum in a different way! 

When you are the designer and about to run out of yarn for a project you are working on, there are several choices.  Add more yarn?  You could do that.  Change the design?  Yes.  Stop where you run out and claim that was always the intent?  I've done that before.

This time around I had some very definite ideas on how the pattern should end, so I did that horrible thing called math!  I calculated what percentage of the yarn I could use for the body of a piece to get exactly the width of border I wanted.  I knit a swatch, weighed my yarn, did some more math and calculated how many rows and stitches that would get me and I cast on.  After some trials with counting I ended up where I thought I should be and started the border.  I knit the border to where the piece should end and there was still an awful lot of yarn left.

After some recalculations this is how much yarn was left when I hit the end of the pattern!

Just about perfect!  (Excuse how dirty the scales look, I didn't notice it until I was editing the picture...guess cleaning my kitchen appliances is next on my to do list!)

In other knitting news, two shawl test knits are progressing.  Looks like each one has an "over achiever" who is much further ahead in the pattern than the other knitters.  Seems like every test I do someone really raises the bar on knitting speed.  (Which I love!) 

It is funny, the patterns always seem new to me when we hit the testing phase.  Probably because I chart first, knit second, write third, wait several days, re-read, edit, send off for secondary edits and input, then put the file together for the testers.  By the time they get it I have been "out" of the pattern for anything from a few days to several weeks.  Then I see the yarns they pick and want to knit the pattern all over again, but in the meantime I am charting something else, knitting a second thing and in the process of edits for the third, so my hands are full!

A long time ago I had a friend who needed a pattern to make something, I can't even remember what it was now, and I wrote her up an "off the cuff" pattern stitch and pattern to go with it.  She asked if I was going to start writing patterns "for real" and I said no.  But you know, once I got started doing it, I can't seem to turn it off!  I am three completed patterns ahead of my editor and test knitters right now, with three in various stages of the process.  Maybe knowing how completely I throw myself into doing things was why I said no all those years ago!

And now that word has got out, among the people I know in real life and not just through the blog or online knitting groups, that I am writing up patterns that are more than three or four lines on a yellow post it note, requests are coming in.  Could you write a pattern for this or that?  Add that to everything in the world from math, spelling and biology to an afternoon's walk at the conservatory, turning into pattern inspiration...I don't think that being three or four patterns ahead of the testers is going to stop any time soon.

Well, I have some serious knitting headway to make before starting dinner!

What's on your needles this week?

~M









Thursday, May 26, 2016

Yarn Diet Fail or 10 to 4

Remember that ColourMart design contest I entered a thousand million stitches (ok, 4 shawls) into?

I won!

What did I win?

I won the best prize of all....I won the Colourmart Yarn Vouchers!  (Not that I would have said No to stitch markers, buttons, labels, chocolates, or hand dyed ColourMart Yarn, which were among the other prizes.)  And, I entered thinking that just knitting a whole  bunch of yardage and doing something about the 230 plus miles of yarn I have in my stash would be a great prize, winning anything at all  was  a  big plus!

But as far as stash downing goes, it was pretty much a massive fail!  I knit 3,842 yards of Colourmart yarn during the contest.  With my winnings I was able to get 14,226 yards of extra fine merino and a cashmere/extra fine merino blend.  For a net gain of 10,384 yards.

Total Yarn Diet Fail!

But, man oh man, the fun I am going to have with those 14,000 yards!

At this rate I will have to live forever to knit down my stash!  Not to mention kick my kids out of the house to generate more yarn storage space.

I was asked today, in a totally unrelated conversation, to go over my new favorite provisional cast on for shawls.

This tutorial from Bad Cat Designs is pretty close to what I do, I just skip the double pointed needle and start knitting my garter tab from those half hitches, using the my circular needles.  I  knit an odd number of rows (twice how many rows as you want stitches for the start of the shawl, plus one row.) pick up and purl along the long edge and then knit the other side of those initial half hitches. The first row is a little fiddly, but after that it is clear sailing, as they say.  With the added bonus of no horribly obvious "hump",  no waste yarn, no futsing to unravel a crochet chain or extra knitted rows to remove.

Clear as mud?

If not leave me a comment, the kids are either on, or about to be on, summer break from school, maybe I can try making a video!

One other question that came up during the course of the day...No you do not need a Ravelry account to buy my patterns!  But, it's free, and a wonderful timesink  resource, so if you are not on Ravelry, try it!

In other knitting news :

Test knits are progressing. I technically have three in process and one came to visit today!  I am so jealous of the beautiful gradient set that is being used. (One of the best reasons to help a friend with knitting, when you need a tester or two they are there for you!) The knitter for that test knit also walked me through setting up an Instagram account, now all I have to do is figure out how to use it!  If it was tumblr my kids could help, but they don't instagram either, guess my knitting friends will have to point me to some tutorials!

I am on row 123 of the reknit of Colourmart Design Entry Number 4, sounds good in a 263 row shawl until you do the math and realize that is only 15% of the knitting! This time around I have a massive chart that shows every blessed stitch on each side of the spine!  Once the knitting is done on my end, it will be time to put it all together and put out another test knitting call!

I just looked at the calendar and tomorrow is the last Friday of the month.  Eeek, where did May go?  It is time for the newsletter already and I haven't done a darn thing towards writing it!  How do you feel about cutting me some slack and waiting until Monday for it?


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tools of the Trade, Tuesday

If nothing else it made for a good title!

But, seriously, let's talk tools for a little bit.

You may remember that I got myself some fancy mini ChiaoGoo interchangeable needles recently and I played around with them for a little bit.  Actually the size 0's are still in the "Little Sister" swatch that hasn't been cast off for my ColourMart Lover's Spring Contest entry that has been cast off.  They are absolutely the right tools for certain projects, specifically any project that I think I might need to change needle sizes mid-stream in, as it is sooooooo much easier to just swap out the needle tips than to transfer everything to a new needle.  But are they strictly necessary?  No.  Do I love them anyway?  Oh yes!

I was sitting in a waiting area early this morning, knitting on a sock, and one of the other people that was also sitting waiting appeared very interested in what I was doing.  Now, as a knitter, there are two ways I can approach that situation.  One is to just keep knitting as if I didn't notice that they were staring, the other is to strike up a conversation.

I started talking!

"It will be a sock, you can't really tell yet because I just started it" were my opening words and the conversation went on from there to tales of the other person learning how to knit, using chopsticks from a "fast food" Chinese Food Place in Hilliard, OH as needles.  She wasn't sure of the yarn, but based on the description it was probably some variation of an acrylic worsted weight.  Certainly not fancy interchangeable needles, or cashmere yarn,  and she knit a perfectly serviceable scarf. (Although I always cringe when I hear that miles of garter stitch scarf were someone's first project!)

Would her knitting have been better if she had used "real" knitting needles?  Maybe. For a first project maybe not as well.

But, I stand by my theory of I buy the best tools I can, that way I can, with some luck and a whole lot of years of practice, create some pretty darn good finished objects.  I love my ChiaoGoo Needles, for a lot of projects, but they are not always my "go to needle".  For lace, they are, because they are a little bit grabby and a little bit slick and ever so pointy.

That said, I like Knit Picks nickle plated needles as well.  Not so grabby, nearly as pointy and  very slick for fast knitting.

Of course, the prize in my needle collection has to go to my "old style" signature arts needles.  Ever so pointy and very slick for fast knitting!

Add some good yarn and any knitter would be set.

You want me to define good yarn?

Good yarn is the right yarn for the project.

Am I a yarn snob?  A little bit!  I like silk, cashmere, extra fine merino...but sometimes the right yarn for the job is acrylic. (Hey Dragons I am looking at you here! And you can stop looking at me like that, there have been other projects with deadlines, I will get to you.)

But, after yarn and needles what tools are really needed to be a knitter?

In my "tool box" I have blocking wires....no wait, let me take that back, I have welding rods.  Honest to Gosh, sold to weld with rods that came in a plastic tube.  Great for blocking the tops of shawls, or the long straight edges of things.  I cut a bunch in half, and some in quarter lengths for smaller items and still have more than enough long ones to block a ton of shawls at once, for much less than the price of a blocking kit from even the most inexpensive retailer.

That said, I also have some really fancy flexible blocking wires for curves and edges to shawls.  They are the best for those items, places where I could either use ten million pins or just one curvy wire!

I have blocking mats, which were originally bought to soften the floor of the basement for the kids to play on. Much cheaper than again, an inexpensive option that is sold as "blocking mats".  You might have noticed from some of my blocking pics that mine get a lot of use, lots of pin holes in them...maybe soon it will be time for new ones!  I think I will go with the floor mats again!

T-pins I will shell out the extra to get the rust free, stainless ones from the big box craft stores.  Just about every time I think about it I buy some more, I use them a lot too!

Row counters can be as simple as a piece of paper and a pencil, or as complicated as you want to make them. (I am the piece of paper kind of gal for that.) And TDQ keeps me well stocked with pretty stitch markers, even though I don't use them much and a scrap piece of yarn really would work just as well.

What else is in my tool kit?  Crochet hooks, all kinds of sizes, for edgings, beading, crochet cast off or provisional cast on, not to mention picking up those errant dropped stitches!

Highlighter tape for charts.

Lots of needle gauges, because those things, along with tape measures, run away and hide when you need them. Tapestry needles for weaving in ends.  Wool soak.

In my conversation in that waiting room this morning, one of the things we talked about was how expensive a hobby can be. 

But really, to be a knitter all you need is that set of chopsticks and some yarn.

That said....I love my tools and I won't give them up for anything!

~M

Friday, May 20, 2016

Along the Garden Path

I have spent the time since I cast off my Colourmart Design Entry Shawl in my garden.  We have a lot of honeysuckle that volunteered to grow through the trees and flowerbeds, at the edge of my patio...in fact every where there was a scrap of dirt there is honeysuckle growing.

You wouldn't necessarily think that having a sweet smelling, flowering plant growing rampant in your garden was a bad thing.  But in this case it is, because it is an invasive species!  Not only does it smother native plants in area woodlands (and we live far enough out that there are protected areas of lands to allow native species to grow within walking distance of our house!) it also smothers the plants that I intentionally put in my garden in the first place.

Although, having read some things about the flowering pear tree that is in my front garden, an intentionally planted tree might have to go as well!

You might wonder what spending time in my garden has to do with knitting.  It's a tangled path, but a path it is!

Also fairly close to where I live is The Franklin Park Conservatory, not close enough to walk, but close enough to drive to and spend a relatively peaceful afternoon meandering along their garden paths.  Their gardens are beautiful and much more well maintained than my own, which as I mentioned is terribly overgrown right now!

Of course, anything that strikes my fancy can be turned into a knitting pattern.  TOB wasn't sure that a walk through the culinary, herb and fragrance gardens could be turned into a sock, but.......  What is it that my kids say these days?  Challenge Accepted!

Presenting :  Along the Garden Path.


Materials:
Unplanned Peacock Twisty Sock, Superwash Merino/Nylon 400 yards in Candy Apple.
Size 1 (US) 2.25mm double pointed or circular needles for knitting in the round.
Cable needle, stitch markers and a large eyed tapestry needle for grafting the toe and weaving in ends.

This pattern is charted, no line by line written instructions are included.

I have become a real fan of Unplanned Peacock Studio's yarns since discovering them at Wool Gathering a year or so ago.  Twisty Sock is well balanced, has beautiful color choices and makes a nice firm fabric, suitable for texture, cables and lace.  So I put all three in.



Texture for the paths themselves, cables for the vines that grew through some of the gardens and leaves for the plants that were just emerging from the newly planted beds the last time we visited.

You can pick up your copy at my Ravelry Store, and if you subscribed to the newsletter or visit my Facebook Page you can even get a pretty hefty discount using the promo code.
 
I also have to thank Andrea of BadCat Designs for help with editing some of the photo's! And of course the test knitters who made sure that when I copied and pasted in the charts, all the stitches carried over in the places they were supposed to be.  They were all so helpful when that wasn't the case.

I can't tell you how much fun I had coming up with the pattern for these socks, or how quickly they seemed to knit up for me!  I mentioned to a friend that they are certainly a "fickle knitter special" with a little bit of everything I love going on.  Texture, lace, and cables in a sock that seemed to just jump off my needles!

The only thing that would make them better, in my opinion, would be if they were in my sock drawer.  But if you are a regular reader you know what happens when TDQ agrees to model.  She tells me to wave goodbye to the knitted goods as soon as the photo shoot is over!

~M

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Did I mention the Dishwasher Died?

Somewhere along the line the recirculating pump on my dishwasher decided that it was done.  It would pump water in, pump water out but not splish, splash the water around and actually clean the dishes.  As it turns out, it would be just about as expensive to get a new dishwasher installed as it would be to source and install a new recirculating pump.

Not something I was prepared to lay out money for right now, as money is just a little tight.

No, this isn't a rant about money or even dishwashers deciding to stop working, but, well money is tight. I have three teenagers (or young adults in one case) living in this single mom household, and contrary to the usual American way of mind I do not think it is appropriate to send a young adult out into the world saddled with student loan debt, so we are "paying as we go" for college expenses.

But, again this isn't a rant about money or dishwashers, it is a song.

See, the person who does the dishes gets to pick the music that plays while they wash. As the chief dishwasher, laundry doer and general picker-uper and cook around here that means I get to pick the music.  And play it loud enough to hear over the running water in the sink while I do the dishes.

I am old, and behind the times...but this song is key in the latest round of dishwashing/cooking/cleaning playlists!

Turn up the volume and see if you can have the teenagers (young adults) in your life yell at you to turn your music down!

I finished my 4th entry to the Colourmart Spring Contest, with days to spare.  Modeled shots soon!

Between this, four test knits in progress and 12 (or 24) pending sock designs to be knit I was getting a little wrapped up in my own head.  Luckily one of my favorite designers has offered me some "knitting therapy" in the next week or so!  Secret knitting is not so exciting for you, but plenty of what I think I might need right now!

But, as that will be next week, in the meantime I have a lot of dishes to wash, some music to sing along to, and a whole bunch of socks to knit!

~M

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I knew I should have kept up with the Swatch

As the deadline for the ColourMart Spring Contest neared, I gave up swatching ahead on Little Sister and focused all of my knitting, and some of my sleeping, time on The Shawl.

That was probably mistake number three.

Shall we back track?

Mistake Number One was not swatching in the first place!  I am not 100% happy with the fabric I am getting, it is a bit lacier than I usually go for.  Usually I make fairly large swatches and get all of the major design elements in before committing to how a design will work out. (Although I will say that for socks, usually the first sock is the swatch, but if I have to rip it out I do!)

Mistake Number Two was, if I was not going to swatch I should have at least stacked all the charts one on top of each other and then flipped them so that I could see how the final design would look in total, not just in pieces.  That would involve some fairly hefty spread sheets as the shawl is well over 500 stitches at this point and most of the design elements are either side of the spines.

As I did neither of these, very wise, things, mistake number three was assuming that I had it under control and focusing all my attention on The Shawl instead of splitting it between her and her Little Sister after row 179.

Today I came to the conclusion that there is a big design flaw, one that I can fix, very easily, if I want to rip out 71 rows of a 268 row shawl and redo the end to the border.

For a shawl that is officially due by 12:30 am (local time) on Sunday.

I put it to the vote on the ColourMart Lovers Group and the people who weighed in, were all in favor of...knit the 16 more rows I have to go to finish.  Block it.  Photo it.  Mark it complete and then either rip it out and fix it, or knit a whole separate shawl the way I now envision it.

Advantages to finishing and ripping :  I make the deadline, only have to re-knit from row 179.
Disadvantages:  no lifelines, I will be picking up raw stitches, but having blocked it hopefully runners would be at a minimum.

Advantages to finishing and a do-over : I can use a different size needle and maybe add beads for a comparison, then show side by side on the design change as an educational opportunity.
Disadvantages:  That is a whole lot of knitting.


So tell me, would you butcher the completed shawl to make it right, or knit it again with a different needle size or even a totally different yarn?  While you decide on that, I am going to eat dinner, pour myself a glass of very dry red and get some of those last 16 rows knocked out.

No pics today....believe me, it just looks like cat barf at this point of the game!

~M

Friday, May 13, 2016

How Many Things Can You Juggle?

The fine people at Enablers R Us The ColourMart Lover's Group were pretty sure I could knit this lace weight shawl in the days remaining in the Spring Contest, to start with my pride had me thinking I could do it too, with days to spare but it is going to be really tight as I did some extra math and allowing for the shawl increasing by 4 stitches every right side row and how many more rows I have charted....I am just on 48% of the way through the knitting. (I didn't account for binding off...ack that is essentially another two rows the way I plan on doing it.)



For a little bit I have been leapfrogging a swatch with the real shawl.  Little Sister is smaller (by a couple of pattern repeats at the beginning) but is already at a fairly healthy 200 or so stitches.  Which means she takes almost as long to knit a repeat in as the full size shawl. With the contest officially closing at 12:30 am, Sunday March 22, my local time, I don't think that I have time to knit both so I am just going to wing it and hope the charts all work out how I intend. (So far in all the leapfrogging I have only changed one small thing, so I have good hopes for that part....but....)



I might not make it.

Especially as....

I currently have two sock test knits that are just wrapping up and two shawl test knits that are just getting rolling, a whole bunch of sock patterns in development (only one on the needles being neglected in favor of the shawl right now) and a cowl that is just about ready to test.

Maybe somewhere along the lines I bit off more than I can chew!  Although with as much (and as fast) as I eat lately, the kids will just tell me to take a deep breath, chew and swallow, just like I do with food!

No finished objects today....maybe next week!

~M

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I Told You To Swatch!

It used to be that every knitting pattern, somewhere in the opening instructions, said something along the lines of "take time to save time" and "knit a swatch".  I haven't seen it in the patterns I have been buying, but usually somewhere at the beginning the designer tells you what gauge they got so that you can attempt to match it.

For some things, it really doesn't matter!  A shawl is a shawl, be it bigger or smaller, so you could (hypothetically) knit a shawl that was designed for lace weight yarn with size 2 needles in a worsted or bulky weight yarn and size 10 needles.  Bigger? Certainly.  Use more yardage? Definitely.  Still a shawl? Absolutely.

But even for shawls, swatching is important.  You might be using exactly the same yarn and needle size as the designer suggests in the pattern.  But that doesn't mean that with your knitting style you will get the same "fabric" when you are done.  And if yours is tighter or looser, will you like it?

There is another reason to swatch, when you are on the design side of things.  It is possible to write up a chart, in excel or any other charting software, that completely, absolutely and positively adds up, but can't be knit!.  Even when every decrease has it's opposite increase, and you think you have accounted for how stitches move in the fabric because of those increases and decreases, sometimes you just have to try knitting it to see how it really works out. (For instance, I can chart a beautiful cable in excel, let's say it is a 48 stitch cable, I can write instructions saying to slip 24 stitches to a cable needle and hold them to the front of the work, knit 24 from your left hand needle and then the 24 from the cable needle, but you can't do it! No matter how springy that merino is you have in your hands it will not stretch that far!)

Usually when I am designing a shawl I knit a pretty big swatch.  Depending on pattern repeats (if there are any) I could be knitting a swatch that is up to half the size of my finished piece, just to make sure that all the elements line up the way I want them to. Sometimes it is lots of little swatches, just a few rows of one pattern detail then the next.  I am pretty good at visualizing what the excel chart will look like knitted, but sometimes I want the security of knowing how it will look all knit up.

I didn't knit a swatch for the latest shawl creation before I started it. 


Notice I said before I started it!

Now usually when you knit a swatch it is with the yarn and needles you intend to use for the finished project.  But sometimes, when it is just checking that things that look good in excel look good in fabric, you can get away with cheating the way I am.

That grey shawl I started on Sunday, now has a baby sister. She is yellow and knit on much smaller needles (I was dying to try out the mini's I got last week) and I suppose you could say she is one section ahead of the grey one, although she is many rows smaller because I cut out the pattern repeats at the beginning.  She is still a top down, center spine, triangle though.  Because it was the spine I wanted to check.

Usually the spine is either just there, or incorporated into the body of the shawl pattern stitches.  In this case, the spine is the pattern and the rest of the shawl is just filler.

The title up there, it is meant more for me than for you.  I wouldn't be "leapfrogging" my knitting if I had bothered to knit the swatch in the first place!

Right now, the real shawl looks like any lace in progress. (In other words like knitting that the cat has chewed on and dragged around the house a few times!)  The swatch.......well I think she is rather pretty!

~M

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

For those of you that live in the United States, today is Mother's Day...how does that go again...

To all the mothers, sisters of mothers, , daughters of mothers and mothers of mothers.  To all the people who have "mothered" another, be they a blood relation or not.  To all the fathers of mothers, brothers of mothers, sons of mothers, or men who have had to step in and become the mother...

Happy Mother's Day.

Out of all the days of the year that you are "on the job", this is supposed to be your one special day.  (And chances are, for many of you, the people who were supposed to remember it...forgot! But overlooking that and remembering that you love the sorry little forgetful people is also just part of being a mother!) I hope you got to spend it doing the things you truly enjoy!

My day was the usual, running around doing laundry and yard work, cajoling teens into modeling,  knitting and charting, editing patterns, dreaming of yarn that I don't have in my hands and enjoying the stuff that is in my hands. A typical Sunday really.

I accidentally stole the size 2 needles that I was using for the dragon to knit the latest shawl.


 (Not that I don't have 42 other size 2 needles that I could use, but they were on my desk and didn't have stitches on them.)

 The beginnings of a top down triangle shawl that starts with just three stitches always makes me feel like Super Knitter!
  Before you know it you are 30 or 40 rows in and feeling like you are making great headway and then the inevitable happens...the rows get longer!

The ColourMart Contest ends on the 22nd.  That gives me two weeks to knit a lace shawl....not to mention finish designing it!  I know how it begins and how the middle runs, the ending not so much....although having typed that maybe I do have an idea.

I think that along with finding someone else to cook dinner I need a calculator and an excel sheet.

Hmmmm

See ya!

~M



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!

That, or I want another three or four sets of arms!

I mentioned yesterday that in two hours of down time I came up with 24 related but different pattern ideas.  Today, there I was happily knitting along on the Dragon that TDQ wanted me to knit for her friend's birthday and yet another idea popped into my head and would not shut up until I pulled up excel and charted it.

Then the rotten people  at Enablers R Us, otherwise known as the Colourmart Lovers group on Ravelry, assured me that I could knit just one more lace weight shawl before the contest ends in two weeks.

I would apologize to everyone that I have taught to knit, or shown the joys of a fine merino, cashmere, silk or blend, but I am not sorry about that part of things.

What I am sorry about is that I don't have enough hands to knit all the things at once!

How can you know the joy of a pattern that just flowed if I don't knit it right now?!?!??*

Good thing I have been making sure that the kids know how to cook, I might starve if it wasn't TOB's turn to make dinner.  :)

~M
*Yep, that is one more cast on for the Spring Design Contest.  I wonder if TDQ wants to make dinner tomorrow?

Friday, May 6, 2016

So Close, And Yet, So Far

One of the best things about finishing up a project, any project really, is that sense of accomplishment when you can look at it and say with finality...this is done.

Lately, I have had that sense of accomplishment when I have put new wall paper in the hallway, or bathroom...even if in both cases the kids looked at it and quoted Doctor Who by stating "You redecorated....I don't like it!" with great big grins on their faces....in one case I even used exactly the same wall-paper so it was doubly funny to say so!

I have had that sense of accomplishment in some of the test knits that I have done for different designers.  Cast off, weave in the ends, send my notes, block and photo the piece and it is put to rest.


That isn't quite how it works with designs of my own that I am planning on writing up as "for real" patterns.*

I mentioned yesterday that I had nothing on my needles for a few hours and that it (fortunately, unfortunately?) led to an entire line of thought that was busting to get out of my head.  But nothing on the needles does not really translate to things being finished when they are designs in progress.

There are the photo's and a standard "lay it on the table and hope for the best" photo doesn't usually sell too many patterns.  There is the writing, the editing that I do on my own, the getting input from someone else on the writing, usually at least one more round of photo's hoping that we get some good ones this time, test knitting calls, sending files to test knitters, waiting for input, adding or adjusting things in the pattern....the non-knitting part seems to take up an extraordinary amount of time.

One of the questions that has been thrown around lately is why do all that, when actually it is hard, harder by far than coming up with the idea and knitting it?  And I suppose the only answer is, because I don't back down from a challenge easily.  Sometimes those challenges are self imposed, like the entire idea of writing up patterns so that other people could duplicate some of the things that I make. (Not everything will ever be a pattern for public consumption...sorry....my kids do deserve one of a kind, specially made for them things every now and then!)  Some of them come from outside, thumbing my nose at people who have made fun of my knitting in the first place, showing them that I am not the only person in the world who finds magic in a well placed cable, or letting the yarn speak through a subtle pattern.  But I think that most of it is an internal growth thing.  Can I get better at all aspects of my life by getting better at doing one thing? 

Of course there is also the slightly psychotic getting the voices of patterns that want to be heard out of my head!**

Yesterday, that two hours with nothing on the needles felt a little like exorcising demons who were clamoring to get out.

The question is, which came first the (potential of 24 patterns that needed out of my head) the idea or the theme (that maybe not so coincidentally would work well with 24 loosely related patterns that needed to get out of my head!)?

To calm those voices I cast on for a sock and for another dragon! Sometimes calming those internal voices needs to be countered by knitting someone else's demons for a while!

~M

*The free patterns on the other pages don't count!  Even in six months my pattern writing style and ability has changed so much.  At least weekly I think about taking them down because they do not represent how I am writing now.  Look at them as the difference between "fan fiction" and the published works of any author!

**I also think that everyone needs some kind of outlet in their lives that doesn't necessarily go directly towards paying the bills but is a stretch or a challenge.  Many of my friends are runners...it doesn't pay the bills and it certainly isn't an easy thing to do, but they feel compelled to do it anyway.

***Photo's show in progress and detail shots of upcoming releases and the starts of a dragon's wings.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Did the World Hold It's Breath?

I think that the entire world has to have held it's breath for a while....  For two whole hours I literally had nothing on my needles!

Not that I don't have any incomplete projects, mind you, that sock weight blanket still needs a hundred-bajillion hexes knit but I cast off a project and didn't have any yarn handy to cast on the next one.

Having gone a few days with no socks on the needles (yes those tweedy ones you saw in progress have been finished) I know that The Monster Man was concerned!  (Actually he wasn't concerned so much as making fun, but he will pay for it...LOL)

Maybe his concern was justified.

In the two whole hours I had nothing to knit I came up with an entire sock series plan!

I cast on the first one to take the edge off the withdrawal symptoms before I put dinner in the oven.

You can all breathe again now!

~M

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Has to Stop Sometime

Before you panic, or I do, no I don't mean that I have to stop knitting completely, just that I have to stop knitting entries into the ColourMart Lovers Spring Contest!

Entry Number 3 came off the needles on Sunday and has had several baths, a nice stretching session and is awaiting a decent day for TDQ to model it.  Which means I have knit (and designed) two "large neck" shawls and a "small neck" shawl since March 20th.  The contest runs for a couple more weeks, but, even though there are three cones of ColourMart yarn within arms reach of me, I am going to call it a day!

Anyway I have some new toys to play with.

I love interchangeable circular needles.  Especially when knitting lace shawls or doilies.  You can just swap out the tips rather than moving you entire knitting project onto a new needle if you want to change needle size part way through. (Which for some circular pieces is very helpful in getting that little bit of extra stretch that you need to keep it circular when you add in stitch patterns!)  But until now the smallest tip I had for an interchangeable set was a US 2 (2.75 mm)

Not any more!

ChiaoGoo has some new needles, Twist Red Lace Mini's and I am the proud owner of a set of 5 different tips, (from a US 000 to a US 1, or 1.5-2.5mm) 3 different cables, cable connectors (so you can hook the cables together to get longer lengths) and all the little gizmo's you might need to tighten the tips to the cables or stop you stitches from falling off the ends.

The needles actually getting to me was a bit of an adventure (for them!).

When I heard that ChiaoGoo was making them for a "spring release" I emailed one of my favorite drug tool dealers to see if she was going to be getting some. Of course, she was, but didn't have a timeframe when I had asked her. (We are talking January I think!)  When the time was right for her to actually get her delivery, Ouida, of Stitch Dragon, very kindly, boxed up her first set for me and sent them on their way from Florida to Ohio.

I felt like a kid standing outside a candy shop, with money in my pocket, waiting for the store to open as soon as I got my shipping confirmation email.

Four days later that two day shipping still didn't have my new toys tools in my hand, so we tracked the package and for some reason best known to the United States Postal Service, the trip from Florida to Ohio included a small side trip to Texas!

But, I finally have them in my hands and now that I have cast off that third ColourMart Spring Contest Entry, maybe I can play with them!











In other knitting news, I forgot to show you TOB's first pair of socks.

 He did a really good job following the pattern I wrote up for him, washed and blocked them and promptly gave them to one of his teachers!  When he first learned to knit he said he was going to knit me a pair of socks, I have been waiting a while now.....looks like I am still waiting! You can tell he is a process knitter after my own heart, I don't think that he has actually kept a single thing that he has knit!







Oh well, while I keep waiting for someone else to make me socks, I guess I will go play with my new toys!  If you had just got some fancy new, teeny, tiny little needles what would you knit?

~M

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

Yet again, here it is Sunday, and I have no idea where the entire week went!  Wherever it went, I hope it had fun, especially as it seems to have done it without me!

I did get the newsletter out on time, which is a miracle in itself as I was convinced all day Thursday that I had at least three more days to get it done!  But a check of the calendar did prove that it was indeed Thursday and the following day was the final Friday in the month. For everyone who subscribes to the newsletter, thank you!  Don't forget to look for your "secret" promo code for patterns!

TDQ and I finally got some pictures of some mitts that I made some time ago, they are part of Andrea Jurgrau's new book New Heights in Lace Knitting.

The second link there will take you to an Amazon page that has a "look inside" option.  All of the patterns in this book have a story.  A story that is about a mountain or a mountain range.  I have knit most of them (yes, I noticed the book isn't out yet, I have the privilege of being one of Andrea's test knitters!) and can tell you that they are all wonderful knits.

The Annapurna shawls that I knit were originally going to be part of that project, but, as with all printed material, space was at a premium and something had to go!  All in all, 17 lace patterns stayed in the book.  I didn't knit all 17, but I should have because they are all a great deal of fun!

The mitts I mentioned above, take just a little bit of time. and in the time since I knit them have had a great deal of use.  I wore them to work when the heat went out at the branch I managed and the ice was creeping up the insides of the windows!  TDQ has worn them over "magic gloves" to keep her hands warm while walking between buildings at college, and a little of that wearing shows in the following picture because although I know I took some right after I knit them, I can't find them!  I swore that with the test knits for this book I was going to be more organized and put them all in a single file on my computer so I could find them...that system seems to have worked for about half the projects.  (Which is much better than the last book where I couldn't find any of the pictures and had to rely on what I had sent to Andrea and were still in my sent emails!)

In other knitting news, the third design for the Colourmart Spring Contest was cast off this morning!  I don't count lace finished until we have modeled shots. (Sweaters too for that matter!)

I still need to wash and block it, but the pattern is (mostly) written.  Once it is edited it will be another case of writing "personal ads" to see if there is any interest in test knitting it.  I am really beginning to appreciate the system that Andrea uses, she has a group of us that she sends photo's to and asks if anyone is interested in testing, we test and she moves on.  I do not (yet) have a core group of knitters to lean on!

The second design for the contest will be sent on to test knitters this week.  It is very simple, compared to a lot of things that I have knit, but filled a need that I had for those slightly cooler mornings!

On one of the forums on Ravelry there is a conversation about "little secrets" and a lot of them seemed to involve photography.  One designer stated that she was usually wearing slippers in her photo shoots, another has her youngest child take the pictures...here is one of my "little secrets".....

If she agrees to the photo shoot who cares what she is wearing?


I think the combat boots go well with the shawl, don't you?

Until next time...to quote Andrea...

Knit On!

~M