Friday, September 30, 2016

Thunder, Lightening and a Cowl

"The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops. Eventually."  A. A. Milne

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years, I am used to rain. Although the rain in Ohio is different, I don't mind it.  I actually find the sounds of rain quite restful. It has been raining (mostly) and thundering (loudly) and there has been lightening (brightly), which adds a little something to the quieter (and sometimes not so quiet) sounds of water falling from the sky.

But it really does put a damper* on being able to get decent finished object photo's to share.

Still not washed or blocked, but....a test knit cowl is officially off the needles!

Pretty, huh?

Well, I have miles and miles to knit on my Colourmart piece, so I am off to find a comfy chair and play my music too loud and knit away my weekend.

What do you have planned?

~M
*pun certainly intended.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

That Little Voice In My Head

Wednesday can only mean one thing, well actually here it means two because it is also the night we put the garbage can out but that isn't what you want to hear about!

Wednesday's are for Works In Progress, or WIPS.

I have a few on my needles this week.  Two of which I am sharing.  :)

First up we have the completion of the dyeing from TDQ's trial run of dyeing a gradient yarn.

If you remember first she got a knitting machine.





(It is a Quick Knit from Michael's and we give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars, look for a 40 or 50% coupon either in their ad or by signing up for their text messages!)  Then she borrowed 2 skeins of Knit Picks Highland Wool Special Reserve, put some food colors and vinegar in a pot and dip dyed two blanks.


20 minutes of machine knitting
After they dried I cast on for a test knit for a cowl that a friend of mine wrote up when she wanted to knit her very first homespun yarn.
That little voice in my head asked :What made you think those markers would work here?
Knitting straight from the blank has certainly added to the rustic look of the wool, (I did have to cake the second blank as I wanted to start with the yellow, but it is still pretty kinky yarn*) it will be interesting to see what happens when I wash and block it.

I am nearly done with the knitting now, so this will probably show up as a Finished Object on Friday and I will need one because.....

This one certainly won't be!

The Colourmart Lover's Group Fall Contest/KAL is in full swing.  I cast on a couple of days late, having done my "pre-work" of swatching, washing, drying, measuring and calculating to come up with a pattern for a light weight yet very cozy, merino-cashmere piece.  As it is entered in the Large Neck category (go ahead and laugh, we all did at one point...who decides if you have a large neck or not?) I have a minimum number of square inches, and this will far exceed that. 

With Colourmart Yarns you have to be careful.  You cannot just knit straight from the cone and see if you got gauge, because the yarn changes in magical and wonderful ways when you do what to the average hand knitter would be the unthinkable!  Put it in the hottest water you can bear, loaded up with dish-washing soap.  (For those worried about felting, in order to felt you have to have a couple of things, hot water is one, in many cases soap is another but the third thing that you have to have in order to felt an object is agitation.  You have to rub those fibers together to get them to bind and when washing Colourmart Yarns that is one thing you do not do!  No agitation, no felting.)  For my swatch it took 3 soapy water baths and a couple of rinses to get the oils off the yarn so that it could bloom, and with the bloom comes a change in gauge.  In this case, a decent amount of change, so my swatch has a gauge of 24 stitches to 3.5 inches (that is my pattern repeat so those are the numbers I worked with)  My unwashed piece has a gauge of 24 stitches to 4 inches.
LVIMH: Looks Big


I told you the piece is going to be in the Large Neck category, and in this case, large is pretty big, to get the width I want I needed to cast on close to 300 stitches. (I'll tell you a trick for doing that right the first time another day.)  All those extra half inches are making the piece look very big right now, but contrary to what the little voice in my head says each time I spread my knitting out, I have to Trust the Swatch.  And anyhow, if it ends up a little bigger, no problem...who is going to complain at a slightly oversized merino/cashmere piece?

Until Friday, when I should have that Cowl all knitted, washed and blocked...keep knitting!

~M
* I wonder how many new visitors I will get for using the word "kinky" in this post.  It cracks me up sometimes seeing what key words bring people here!


Monday, September 26, 2016

Resources for Knitters - You NEED this Book

I have mentioned before that I really like knitting socks and that you should too.  Or at least, give them a try to see if you like them.  I have a lot of different resources that I can use when I am knitting socks, to find tips and tricks, or heel calculations but as of this coming Saturday a lot of those tips, tricks, calculations and explanations can all be found in one place!

Jody Richards, the brains behind Knotions, a free online knitting magazine, has put together an ebook that is available for pre-order starting today.

Best part, pre-order it now and get it for much less than the "cover" price it will be on Saturday!

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the book over the weekend and can tell you that there is a lot in it and I even learned a thing or two!  Like why my superwash wool socks started felting after being thrown into the washer and dryer for a year without any problems!*

I wish I had that ebook when I was teaching some people I know how to knit socks, proactively answering questions before they had them, rather than re-actively answering after the fact.  I am a big fan of helping knitters get the tools they need to be self sufficient and that is why TOB will be reading through this before his next pair of socks goes on the needles.  (I hope they are the ones he has been promising me for a few years now and don't suddenly change to being for a friend or a teacher like the last pair....no-one knits for the knitter - sigh.)

You would think that with as many socks as I have knit, designed or tutored people through knitting that I wouldn't need this book and you would be 100% wrong. 


Wrong to the point that I pre-ordered mine today!  Having one reference that I go to is certainly "crafting smarter" than having to pull out three or four different books.

In other knitting news my Colourmart Fall Contest Entry is progressing and you will see more of her on Wednesday because she will undoubtedly still be a WIP then!

Until then....I am just going to keep on knitting, knitting, knitting.

~M

*And if you want to know the why behind that..... you will have to get the book.  :)


Friday, September 23, 2016

And So It Begins, Again

Each year, in the fall, which just happened to arrive yesterday, my mind starts to wander to home baked apple pies from apples we pick up at a Farm Market, and autumn colors starting to show in the leaves of the trees.  Cool morning walks, and finally being able to keep the windows open all day without someone complaining that it is too hot, or too humid....

But mostly, my mind turns to the group affectionately known as Enabler's R Us, or Colourmart Lovers on Ravelry and the Fall KAL/Contest.  It is a cut throat affair (not at all!) with people from all over the world who I have now knit with  for years and consider friends (truly!) egging each other on to stretch just that little bit further, and knit just one more row, or even set out bowls of milk to encourage brownies to come and do the cooking and cleaning so we can knit more (if you are signed into Ravelry, click here.) It is one of those competitive events where everyone who plays wins...you get your finished object...but you might get more than that because the wonderful people at Colourmart put up prizes. (Mostly the prizes are random drawings from everyone who finishes, with an extra drawing for those that didn't.)

It is a lot of fun and I play along just about every year.  Last year the Fall Contest resulted in this shawl. 

And the Spring Contest resulted in four shawls, three of which became patterns over the summer.


 Officially the contest started yesterday, at 10:21 am my time, but I needed to clear something off my needles first, but this evening, I finally did that...



And so I did this....

Not sure anyone (other than me!) will want to knit something in a light fingering weight yarn that starts with casting on eleventy billion stitches so it may or not be a pattern, we will see what kind of encouraging noises come my way as things progress.

As I have eleventy billion rows to go with those eleventy billion stitches, I am off to knit!

~M




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Week is Getting Away!

Why is it, that no matter how organized I try to be.  Not matter how many "to do" lists I make and check items off.  No matter how earlier I get up and how late I go to bed...the week just gets away from me?

Maybe, in this case, it is because I spent Monday trying to catch up to the things I usually do on Sunday.  The Monday things, obviously, then trickled over to Tuesday and here it is Wednesday and I am not ready for us to be this far into the week already!

Usually Wednesdays would be for my Works in Progress but instead let's talk about Sunday.

Sunday was Wool Gathering!  Held at Youngs Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Wool Gathering is one of the few fiber festivals that I actually get to go to.

We have a routine when we go and we follow it pretty strictly each time.

First we walk around all the tents and I make a shorter list from my short list that I took with me, of what I might want to buy.  The rule is no buying on the first go round!  If I am meant to have something it will still be in the booth when I come back.  Then we get a snack and watch the sheep shearing (because, really how could that ever get old?  The sheep always look so bemused about the whole affair.)  if the timing is right we then watch the dog herd ducks around a little obstacle course (this year with the added bonus of a wayward sheep joining the fun.) then we go back and I make my carefully planned purchases.

Once the pack mules are loaded up we go stand in line for ice cream and I hit the cheese shop and if there were any demonstrations that we wanted to see, we go back and see them, but usually by then everyone is tired, cranky and feeling very full so we go home.

This year was a little different in that I was networking with yarn dyers, the owner of a yarn truck or just visiting with "old friends"

Speaking of old friends....what do you think of this?

The color is aptly called Crazy, and I think that the stitch pattern I played with suits it as it is also a little crazy!

Guesses on what it grew up to be?

Post your guess in the comments, on my Instagram feed or on Facebook...maybe you will get a free copy of the pattern for your guess!

~M


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Half a Finished Object and it isn't even mine!

If you are a knitter, and this may hold true for other crafts as well but knitting is my "thing" so I can speak from experience, you know that sometimes you have projects that warp the space time continuum in one direction or the other. 

I think that it works like this.

Knitting time, or the time spent knitting and actually accomplishing anything, is like a savings account.  Those times where you knit and knit, knit and knit, knit and knit and somehow have a project that hasn't grown at all, are when you are putting time into the bank.  Those times where you cast on and find you are casting off five minutes later with the project complete, that is when you are taking time out of the bank. (Maybe that is why so many knitters start with scarves that take years to finish, putting time in the bank for later?)

My test knit for Diane Conroy was one of the "flies off the needles faster than you can say I am going to knit a ponchetta" projects, so it stands to reason that my knitting time this week has been spent knitting and knitting without measurable progress.  To make matters worse it is one of those "behind the scenes" projects that I am not sharing yet, but I will give you a few hints.

1)  It is big.
2)  Multiple colors.
3)  Wool, which also means it is hot to work on right now.

4)  It must be heading into Fall time in the Ohio area because in going through my knitting projects from last year I noticed that, this time last year I cast on for a big project in some very similar colors.*

So as I have nothing of consequence to show you, I will show you what TDQ did this week instead!

TDQ spends a lot of time making things with beads.  Which means that those of us who knit get beaded stitch markers for gift giving occasions, very nice for me and TOB, but TFB doesn't knit, he weaves, and she has never quite figured out what to give a weaver that involves beads.**  Having enjoyed dyeing her hair purple so very much she has decided to give dyeing yarn a try.

For her first experiment she bought this...

And made this.....

Then realized with all the classes she is taking that she needed to run off and study, so seeing what colors she actually creates will have to wait for another day.

~M

*Different yarn and this time it is not a garter stitch blanket!

** We do handmade gifts.  We buy things too, but all of us are on the creative end of the spectrum of creators, makers, users and unmakers.





Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WIP Wed

For all the hours I have spent knitting this week, I seem to have spent just as many "un-knitting" or tinking!

I swatched in preparation for the Colourmart Lovers Fall contest,
 
and came up with a plan that I would knit, then decided that someone less out there than I am might want a slightly less cumbersome version so I started doing math for that.

Yeah, that swatch got just a little bit out of hand.

First time around it appeared to be perfect, but the row count for the color changes didn't please me as much as they did in the fingering weight version, so I ripped out the swatch and tried again.

And promptly forgot how to count.

So again...and again. Let's just say that nothing else has been knit since then and call it a day!

In other knitting news I hit the half way point in my Nana's Cottage. It will all be down hill from here as the stitch counts decrease through the second wing.

I sincerely hope that TDQ appreciates it.

Speaking of TDQ, she and the "other daughter" found a knitting machine at Michael's today. 
 
She sat for about a half hour to knit up a blank that (hopefully) she will dye for me to knit a nice cozy cowl with!



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday's are for Finished Objects




If you spend any time at all on Ravelry then you know that FO is finished object, UFO is an unfinished object (and sadly usually destined to remain that way for a long time!) and a WIP is a work in progress.  You also figure out fairly quickly that frogging is to rip something out, tinking is to "unknit" a stitch, series of stitches or row of stitches.

Those of us that craft very often tie those abbreviations to specific days of the week...Wednesday WIPS or Friday FO's...and I am no exception. (It sure makes planning what I am going to talk to you about easier.)  I should institute a Testing Thursday post for when I am knitting a design that hasn't been published yet for another designer, but I am not that organized in my blogging life!

Today's FO is just such a test.

Another designer, who I have test knit for before, needed a quick run through of a quick test knit, and having hit the doldrums of the KAL for Knotions,
finished up a couple of sample knits of my own and generally got tired of knitting the crazy things that my brain comes up with, I volunteered.

I should probably tell you the test knit was for a poncho type item for a child.

My youngest child is 17, taller than me, and would not wear a lace poncho if his life depended on it.

My oldest child is 20 and really wants one in her size...she literally tried to put it on when I had finished sewing it up!  (She has a big head and arms that wouldn't quite make it through the armholes, but I digress...)

Ponchetta by Diane Conroy is one of those knits that you cast on, suddenly find it is time to cast off and wonder if you should make another one!

I knit mine in some ColourMart Shiny Cotton held double and on size 10.5 US (6.5 mm) needles.

Right now my biggest questions are :













Which buttons?  


Blue for fun?  Metallic for subtle?  Yellow to match?




and...Where can I steal a child to model it?

Vote in the comments for the buttons, right now the metallic and blue are tied in the instagram posts!

Happy Weekend!  May all your knitting be as "zen" as this project was for me!

~M



Thursday, September 8, 2016

50 years

Ok, so those that know me know that I will pick Star Trek over Star Wars...(although both area good!)  but in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek...

What happens if a Storm Trooper and a Red Shirt have a fight?







Wait for it...............









The Storm Trooper misses every shot, but the Red Shirt still dies.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Regularly scheduled knitting can now commence.

~M

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

We Interupt This Blog....

A day late and a dollar short, that pretty much sums up my week so far!

Monday was a holiday and I am blaming that extra "weekend" for my messing up what day of the week it is.

Today is not Tuesday.

Tuesday was the day that I had scheduled Lotus Pod Shawl to go live in my Ravelry Store.

I planned to tell you all about it.....Better a day late than never, I suppose!

Presesnting :

Lotus Pod Shawl, the last of my Colourmart Spring Contest Knits.

If you will recall, during the Spring Contest I actually knit four shawls.  Of the four, three were destined to become patterns, and this is the third.  She is preceded by Through the Mist and Miss Kim.

All three were originally knit in Colourmart Yarns, varying in weight from a very light lace to a fingering.

Lotus Pod is the very light lace.

Mine is knit in a very pale grey, which isn't exactly what you think of when you think of louts flowers, or ponds, but goes with so much of what I wear!  My test knitters were a bit more adventurous and used cream, a dreamy green and a vibrant red.  All three looked fantastic and had me wanting another shawl, just like theirs!

There are some details in this one that I am really proud of, for example:







The lace motifs suggesting the lotus flowers switch direction at the "water line" giving you their mirror image in the water.











 

The base of the large flower bud at the bottom of the spine, moves almost seamlessly into the edging pattern, which suggests gentle ripples in the water.








There are even seed pods along the top of the spine, before the flower bud emerges.



 As you can tell by the model's hair (long enough to put up and a natural color instead of bright purple!) the pictures were taken when the shawl was completed way back in the spring.  Here we are, nearly at the end of summer!

Although school went back in mid-August in Ohio, I know that for lots of the USA, Labor Day signals back to school time, so for the next few days (Until September 12th) use coupon code BackToSchool in my Ravelry Store to get 20% off this pattern.  You do not have to have a Ravelry account to visit the store, but if you don't have one...get one!  It's free and Ravelry really is a wonderful resource for all things knitting, crocheting and weaving!

I have a super cute, really quick, test knit on my needles for another designer...I'll tell you all about it on Friday!

~M





Monday, September 5, 2016

Where Everything Old is New Again.

For those of you in the US, Happy Labor Day!  Nothing like a day off (assuming you do not work in retail, food, emergency services, news....the list is just about endless of people who did not get the day off!) to bring an end to summer fun.

As all three of my kids had the day off from school, we did what any reasonable family would do and went to the zoo.  In hindsight, we should have stayed home.  I swear everyone within a 40 mile radius of the place was there at nine this morning to say goodbye to Nora!  It was certainly a people zoo today.

After walking around half the zoo, taking what James Herriot referred to as "big steps and little 'uns" we came home and I started work on a few things that needed editing and testing.  Which brings me to the point of this particular post.

A long time ago, in a world we think of romantically, but which probably was not so very much different from today's (apart from the lack of modern medicine, roads, convenience and especially hygiene!) if you wanted something that you were not capable of doing for yourself, you would trade, or barter, with someone who could do it.  In my opinion, money is really just an evolved form of bartering, with my trading my time for money and then using the money to buy the things I cannot or will not do for myself, without having to trade directly with the person offering the item or service I need.

I think that in today's world, we severely underestimate the value of a good barter exchange!  Or maybe that is just me because I have been bartering up a storm lately!

Did you notice how beautiful some of the photo's for Sufficient were?  In particular this one:













Let me walk you through the evolution of that photo as it was given to me...we start with my so-so photo...


















The person I was bartering with then did some magic with cropping and changing the contrast and brightness.


Then she rotated it slightly and that ok photo that I took at the park became a photo that the editor of Knotions really liked!

I really like it too, but, I probably wouldn't have seen it the same way she did and you would never have seen that slightly rotated, edited picture.

There are things that I am very good at. (Seriously, don't laugh like that!)  I have been told by many people over the course of the last 20 or so years that I am the person that asked the next question and got them thinking about what they really want to be doing.  That I put things into a good perspective and helped them work through going from "I wish" to "I want" to "Here is my plan for how to make my dream a reality." 

There are things that I am not so good at, the photography for one!  Editing my own work for a second, so that was the next thing to barter for.  (Tech editors are not necessarily an expense that a newbie designer is able to pay for, but let's talk that one through a little here...) Everyone has something they are good at, or can offer in exchange for what they need.  The trick is to look for the person who has the skills you need and needs the skills you have!

Sounds simple, right?

Yeah, it isn't as simple as it sounds, but...if you are determined and willing to trust in other people you can do it.

As it is college tuition season, and I had patterns that needed editing, and the person who had been my "second set of eyes" kinda thought that looking after her brand new, slightly premature baby was important*, I went looking for someone I could trade with.  Life sometimes just works out really well for me, and at the same time I was looking for a barter, a brand new tech editor was looking for feedback!

So we bartered!

I would give her something she couldn't do for herself, namely help her refine her style, find what she missed and give feedback and a testimonial (if it was warranted!) and she would tech edit my next pattern. Win-win as far as I am concerned, remember that I am good at helping people cut through the stuff that gets in the way and change I wish to I have a plan?

Tomorrow you can tell me what you think....the shawl pattern she tech edited goes live tomorrow and I think that my bartering has made this pattern even better and more streamlined than anything I have offered before.

Because just in everything else in life, change is hard, but sometimes worth it!  And, everything old (bartering) is new again!

~M

*I wish her all the best, having a new baby, under any circumstances is a life changing event! And I agree, babies are only babies for such a short time.  Plenty of time to pick back up that career later, looking back and saying I should have spent more time with my child has to be the saddest statement I ever heard!

**the new tech editor?  She can be found here!  So far, I like her.  Very pleasant voice to work with, and we did work through a few things to make her style her own and even better than what I had been working with before.   If you design, give her a few weeks to be more sure of her own voice and I am sure she will be a great tech editor for you.  You can even say I sent you over there!

So long as there is a value exchange, I don't really see that there is anything wrong with bartering your way to getting what you need!



Sunday, September 4, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

If you have my week ....

I can't believe it is Friday already!  Somewhere in the space time continuum I seem to have missed out on at least Tuesday and Thursday!  If you got my days by mistake can you return them?  I could use an extra one or two in the upcoming weeks.

I was telling a friend, that I have this little calendar that is supposed to keep me on track, and doing the things that I need to each day of the week.  Well, the garbage did go out before the truck ran through the neighborhood, so I guess it worked to an extent!

You would think with a  nickname like needles-on-fire I would have a fancy finished object to show you...but this week you would be oh so very wrong!

But, what did I spend my time on?

Let's see....editing, editing, editing, waiting on emails, editing, editing...working on samples, knitting I can't share, editing...

Do you catch a theme here?


This was the week I got not one, not two, but three patterns back from an editor, which means going back through my files and answering questions, making changes, saving new pdfs, sending them back, catching one error, finding two more...

Which can only mean we are getting really close to a pattern release!

The test knitters had a ball with this one!  With comments ranging from "this is the first time I have felt comfortable knitting lace" to "Yes, I am knitting another one!" I think that they enjoyed this pattern as much as I did.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have already seen these teaser photo's as part of my countdown to next weeks pattern release,

 but they are certainly worth sharing again.











Aren't they pretty?

During the test knit I kept wanting to get myself some dreamy green yarn or some deep bold red yarn and have two more shawls just like these!

Project envy!




With all the "behind the scenes" things I have been working on there has been no time for my personal knitting, so as it is still light and the cicada's have (mostly) shut up, I am headed for the patio with my knitting!

~M