Sunday, January 29, 2017

Quietly Busy

Friday, January 27, 2017


I posted today on Instagram : "I Failed" are not bad words...and gave my reason why.  It is funny, there are people who respond to me through the comments there, and there are people who email or text me (obviously they know me a little bit in real life.)

One of the comments that was posted on Instagram actually mirrored, pretty much word for word, one that I got privately. "It depends where I fail..."  So my question to you, and I really would like to know the answer is "Why?" 

Why are we so hard on ourselves that the moment we don't "get something perfectly" the first time we are a "failure"...not what we did, mind you, but us as people?  Where did that start and how do we stop it?

One of the uplifting comments I got from someone I coach was that she wasn't afraid to tell me when she hadn't hit her goals for the week because instead of agreeing with her gut reaction of "I failed, I am a failure", I help her understand that the things she didn't achieve this week can be achieved next and that sometimes we need to look at why we failed.*  Was the goal reasonable in the first place? Did a factor you hadn't accounted for prevent you from reaching that goal?

I have yet to coach someone who failed at a goal because they didn't try and I have yet to coach something through viewing that failure as an opportunity, who hadn't already done a seriously good job of beating themselves up over the failure.  Creative types especially seem prone to this, our work is never "good enough" for ourselves and all it takes is one little affirmation of that to start the never ending cycle of "it wasn't good enough, I wasn't good enough, so I shouldn't try so hard because it isn't good enough and I am not good enough..."

Challenge for you, if you are creative....Just once today, or this week, tell yourself that your work was good enough!  And if you need a second opinion leave me a link to something you have done so I can tell you what I see!  :)

Which brings us to my failure for the week.....

You might notice that there was not a WIP Wednesday Post.  I wrote the post, but I hadn't uploaded the photos from my camera, so I saved it as a draft distracted and never came back to it!

A controllable failure, yes!  Absolutely.  I closed the browser window I post from and went on to doing other things.  Does it make me a bad person?  Well, not really.  Did I beat myself up for it?  You better believe it!  Which is why I posted to Instagram what I did!

On a less preachy note.....

I held a quick vote on Instagram about what colors would cheer up a dreary, cloudy, grey winter.  Green won and the pattern that I wrote using some "every so spring like" green yarn will be going live on Ravelry next week!

Teaser photo:

If you subscribed to my newsletter you have already seen the finished object in one view, follow me on Instagram and there will be more!

One of the test knitters used a gradient that is to die for and when she was finished her husband commented that he thought it was his favorite thing of all the things she had knitted!


*Ok, if you failed because you didn't try that is a whole different conversation!  But, in this case that wasn't the reason for failure

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hmmm. Friday came awful early this week

Well, it did for anyone with federal holiday benefits.

Here we are Friday and what do I have to show you?

Any finished patterns? (nope, with tech editors who were told to take their time because I already had a pattern release this month!)

I do have a prize picture to show you. I won this yarn in the Indie Designs Gift Along 2016.  And you cannot even tell how soft it is through your computer!

So what do you have this week?  To quote my children when I ask them questions sometimes...I got nothing!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Whatcha Doing Wednesday

As you could tell from the pictures on Sunday, at least one of my latest socks jumped off the needles.  The second was cast on in short order and as it would happen, has also jumped off the needles.  :)

I love socks for just that reason, cast on, knit a bit, cast off, weave in the ends, quick wash and block to make them even and they are DONE!

Well, almost in this case.

The knitting is done and now the hard part begins.  The editing.

So today, you get the back story of how a pattern grows, because honestly I have been so focused on editing the past couple of days, I have nothing to show you, and maybe you are interested in the process I use.  Maybe you dream of designing your own patterns, either just for yourself or to publish. 

Every designer does things their own way and I can only tell you the way I do it, because we are a secretive bunch and don't share too many of our secrets.  Actually though, I think my way is pretty standard, but who knows.  If you do, leave me a comment saying so!

Ok, back to my process.

First I need an idea.  And don't ask where inspiration comes from because the short answer is EVERYWHERE.

The outline of a fence, spelling words, musical notes written on sheet music, flowers, the twists and turns of a hiking path near a river, the herb gardens at the conservatory....literally everywhere.  And if everywhere isn't enough for you buy a stitch dictionary.  Seriously!  There are lots out there, but it is so much easier when inspiration just grabs you by the throat and says make me into something.

The next step is a little harder, turning that inspiration into a stitch pattern, or three, and deciding what type of item it needs to be.  Socks, a sweater, a shawl, mittens or a hat?  And yarn.  Which yarn to try.

And then, if you are being good you swatch and rip and swatch and rip some more refining that grouping of stitches to say just what you want them to.  (To be honest in socks, my first sock is my swatch!  And that pretty pink yarn got knitted and pulled out several times before I was happy with it!)

So I write and chart, then knit and knit.  Making changes as I go so that the second sock, in this case, is knitted following the pattern I have now created.

And then you think you are done!

But you are not!! the real heavy lifting begins.  When you write and knit and adjust and knit little inconsistencies slip in.  Did you end that row of instructions with a period? Did you mean to?  Are all the row headers bold?  Did you mention where to place stitch markers?  Having just knit this blessed thing twice, what did you just assume from what you wrote and what did you actually write.

So you edit and put the pattern away and then open it up again and edit some more.

And then you take that leap of faith and say to yourself is perfect.

So you bundle it up all pretty in bows and send it to your worst enemy* and wait.

And the waiting kills you, but you don't dare open that file again because as soon as you do, do you know what happens?  You find a mistake!

But worse...then the return email comes with the corrections.

So you gnash your teeth, and wonder why you were so stupid as to use the wrong words or decreases, why the markers don't appear in the pattern where they should, and you pour yourself a big glass of your favorite beverage and close the email and sleep on it.

Once you are rested and the feelings of absolute mortification that you sent someone something with mistakes in it passes, you open that file again and find that you are agreeing with every little detail.  So you apply the changes and send it back with any notes you might have, and wait again.

Then comes test knitting - can someone else recreate what I made based on those instructions, and a final review before hitting that publish button, or in the case of third party submission the eternal wait for publication day.

So that, my friends, is my Work In Progress this week.  I have been editing, reviewing tech edits and editing again, in the hopes that I can bring you clear, concise and error free patterns.

What do you have going on this week?


*Not really!  I have worked with several tech editors, two of whom I consider to be personal friends, even though we have never met in person.  They are the best!  They really do everything possible to make my patterns better and do a great job of understanding that every designer puts a little bit of their soul into what they write.  They are kind, but precise and very much sticklers for "it is in your style guide that you do it this way, so do it that way every time so the knitter knows what they are getting."  If something isn't clear they work through how to make it clear, rather than "do it this way" or "this is wrong". And when I happened to mention that the red ink made me want to cry...the next revision came in blue.  That is devotion to making sure that we work together well as a team.

If you are a designer, who is on your team?  Do you feel they are on your team or do you work against them sometimes?

Answer in the comments, or shoot me a pm on Ravelry (I am marydear there!) because I am really interested to know!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Not Quite The Finished Object I Was Hoping For!

Wine Tasting was fun last night, thanks for asking!  I did pick up one bottle while there, aren't you proud of my restraint? 

So, Finished Object Friday on Saturday...

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I am playing with a pretty pale pink yarn this week.  It is officially called Dogwood Heather, and while I am not really a "pink" person, at least not for pastels, it is ever so sweet and pretty.

It's sock yarn, which although doesn't mean it has to grow up to be socks, this one will.


I had charted what I thought was a sweet delicate little pattern for the leg and foot.  I like ribbing at the top of my socks so that is where I started, but, when I got to my chart, the ribbing didn't quite line up with the pattern the way I wanted. (Maybe because I can't count!)

So, off the needles she came and I turned her back into a ball of yarn and started again.

Second time through, got most of the way down the leg and saw just one little change that would make the pattern stitches just a little bit sweeter and would require that one little change being made way back on round 1.

Off the needles she came and I turned her back into a ball of yarn and started again.

Third time through.....Cast on, check.  Ribbing, check....leg...uh, nope started with the wrong chart.

Off the needles she came and I turned her back into a ball of yarn and started again.

Maybe this time would be the charm?

Cast on, check, ribbing, check, leg, check, heel flap, check, turn the heel, check, foot pattern......

This time I only ripped out 12 rounds.

I think I might be finished frogging this one and might actually get a sock before the night is through!

Why the last change if the pattern had been working fine through the leg and most of the foot?

I try to have my stitch patterns reach some kind of conclusion before the toe.  Sometimes the regular row repeats will do it, but other times you need to add a little something, or decrease a little something out to give it an end.  This pattern needed an ending. 

Without it, the toe looked like someone had stopped writing in the middle of.......


TOB made a little purple rabbit that just stopped in to say Hi.

Friday, January 13, 2017

We Interrupt This Post

Disclaimer, we don't watch tv around here (please explain to me why I am continuing to pay for cable in that case?  yeah, I can't explain it either except...) Well, we do about once a week, sometimes, when there is something good on, like Sherlock or Dr. Who or....actually I think that is about it on normal tv.  So I don't know if they still do this or not...but it used to be that sometimes if there was breaking news or something majorly important going on there would be this voice that would say "We interrupt this program to..." and whatever they were going to say or show you would follow.

In this case there is nothing to say or show to follow other than...

We Interrupt This Post to let you know that today's Finished Object Friday is being postponed due to wine tasting.

I'll let you know how it was tomorrow!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There's Something About This Knitter

I have a little secret to tell you.  Do you promise not to tell?

Ok, lean in close and I will whisper it in your ear.

I am not a monogamous knitter.

Are you shocked?  Are you surprised?  Or have you been reading this blog long enough to know that, even if sometimes I only show you one project at a time, there is always lots of stuff jumping on and off needles around here?

Which sometimes means that the things I show you, that don't seem to be moving along as quickly as you would suspect are not the only things being worked on!

For example this yarn that TDQ dyed for me.  (She knows I love a gradient!)

I cast it on and frogged the beginnings of a scarf/cowl/neck thing a couple of times before I settled into the actual pattern.

I am over half way through the yarn now

oh look shiny new yarn, I might have to cast on with that too!

Thank you for all the love that is being shown for my The White Queen's Shawl  I may be a little competitive, according to some people but it is thrilling me no end that I (currently) have the most "favs" of the patterns in this month's issue of Knotions!  The pattern is free to you, the knitter, which makes it an easy pick for your January knitting, especially if you want to spend the money you would usually spend on a pattern on some silk and cashmere yarn!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Goals or Dreams and Wishes?

Tried going to the gym lately?

Everyone I know who has a gym membership that they use all year hates going to the gym in January.  No parking, no available equipment and some of my friends over the years have resorted to buying their own weights and treadmills just to use the first few weeks of the year, and then they go back to going to the gym in February and March.

New Year's Resolutions for so many are not actual goals to change something so much as a dream or a wish that something in their lives is different.

Why is that?  And is it true for you?

I have some theories, backed up by observation but not necessarily any personal research studies.

One of my theories is that instead of setting a measurable goal, people set themselves up with dreams.

I want to lose weight, be more active, eat healthy, get rich.  But there is never a measurable feature to it or a deadline or it is totally unreasonable to start with.  And sometimes, success is not defined so people might actually achieve their goal and never know it!

Goals are like a destination, in my opinion.  You tell yourself the destination and you find it on whichever page of the map it happens to be on, but then, if you are going to take that road trip you have to pick a path, but be ready for the inevitable road construction, bad weather and flat tires along the way.

You also, depending on the length of the journey, might need to account for rest stops, or overnights at motels/hotels, meals and fuel stops.  All the planning can seem overwhelming but is very necessary to actually getting to where you were planning on going.

If you make the destination too vague and don't set deadlines you will never get there.  I am "going to get rich someday" is too open ended and "I will make ten million dollars by next Friday" is not reasonable.  But how do you know when the goal is just right?

Sometimes it helps to have a friend, or a coach, walk you through it.  But ultimately it is up to you what you can fit into your day, how much your goal means to you and how stubborn you can be about reaching it.

You might wonder why I would bring this up on a knitting blog.  Well....

For the past few months, I have been doing a lot of "five minute" coaching with designers, yarn dyers, a potter and a couple of tech editors, to help them figure out what their dreams and goals really are and in some cases what the differences between goals and dreams are.  For a couple it turned into more than a quick five minute review of an annual goal or check in at the mid year period and it turned into a weekly conversation.

One of the things I discovered about myself during those conversations is that really is one of my passions.  Being the person who asked the next question and made someone else think, plan and ultimately be successful at making their dream a goal and then a reality is so rewarding!

So my call to action for you is to think about if you have goals or dreams.  If you have dreams how do you redefine them to become goals?  If you have goals and are a designer on Ravelry have you posted them on Budding Designers so I can give you a five minute review?  If you like what you see there, pm me, we can talk about your unique situation and dreams. (If you are not a designer and still have goals or dreams still feel free to pm me, or subscribe to my newsletter and hit reply when the first one comes to you, I answer all emails!  We can talk, really talk, about what it takes for you to be successful and turn those dreams into reality!)

Some people grow out of their dreams, but I like to believe with a little help, everyone can grow into them!


Friday, January 6, 2017

Do you want a little Preview?

I was going to tell you about the socks today, but, I changed my mind.  I want to tell you about something else instead.  :)

Technically this is a preview, but, as I happen to know that Knotions does a "soft launch" the day before the issue officially goes live, I am pretty safe in sharing all of this.

Every now and then, between jags of knitting large fairly simply projects, socks and large very complicated projects I want to knit something somewhere in between.  My fingers crave soft squishy yarn and even softer stitch patterns.  My mind wants something easy enough to memorize, but pretty and a little more complex than plain knitting.

I was explaining that to my kids one day and one of them chorused in with "you're looking for mashed potatoes and gravy....comfort food."  And they were right.  That was exactly what I was looking for.  Something soft and warm, but not completely bland.

Something I could cuddle up in on a cold winter day, with hot cocoa and a book to read.

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Alice, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 1 Looking-Glass House, Lewis Carroll.

If you live in the Mid-West you might have seen these strange fences appearing along the edges of fields during the late fall.  At first they seem to have no purpose, other than to just be there, but as winter unfolds and snow starts to drift across those fields, unfortunately usually then right across the roadways, their purpose becomes clear as the openings in them clog with snow and prevent the drifts from intruding onto the roads.  I have a similar shaped fence around a deck in my garden, put up when I needed to keep little people far away from a hot barbecue on summers days.

Cashmere yarn is awfully soft and squishy, so I cast on in a pale silvery grey, envisioning moonlight on the snow that coats the fences, trees and bushes during a winter night.  Although any heavy lace or light fingering weight yarn will do just fine.

Touches of lace for the border, like the melting icicles when the sun comes out and we have a snowy winter day all packaged up in one shawl. 

Once it is finished, like the snow loving the trees, it can cover you up snug until summer comes again. (Or Autumn...)

This pattern is available to you free from Knotions, where you can also find photo tutorials for all the techniques used.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Answer my Friend....

So I asked you what happens when you turn the page on the new year, and I struggled with that question for myself.

But, I think I have come up with a suitable answer, at least for myself.  Your mileage may vary.

This year, I am going to knit the things that make my heart sing!

How is that different than any other year?  Well to be honest...not much!  I have always knit what I want, out of what I want, when I want.  But, I have to admit I did fall in to the "what do knitters want" trap a couple of times, at least on the designing side.

But...when I am coaching designers one of the things I always mention is that there are over 6 million crafters on Ravelry.  Every day I run into people who have never heard of Ravelry, but craft.  Even if what you want to make is a one in a million thing, that means 6 other people (just on Ravelry) are looking to make exactly what you are creating and a whole bunch of other people are looking for something that is close enough that they will at least look at the pattern.

Does that mean that I think that everyone should suddenly decide that nupps on their socks are a good idea? 

No, but I did!  So I put some there.

The socks in a specially dyed for me colorway are flying off the needles.

What do you think?

I suspect they will show up on Friday as a finished object!


Monday, January 2, 2017

Turn the Page, but first!

I hope you had a very enjoyable New Year's Eve and Day.

I lazed around the house with good food, decent enough movies, kids and yarn. (All celebrations deserve yarn, don't they?)

The Indie Designers Gift Along was a flurry of activity before the contest threads closed at 11:59 EST, December 31st.  Watching the finished objects and opadoo posts roll in was amazing.  There were some pretty impressive knitters in that group.  Nice people too.  :)  I virtually met several new friends.

stolen wholesale from the stats thread :

"Juicy, Juicy Stats Time!!
Final FO Count: 2,355 (57 more than 2015!)
By Category:
Hats & Head hings: 755 (32%)
Cowls, Scarves, & Other Neck things: 342 (14%)
Hand & Arm things: 230 (10%)
Toys, Home, & Other Misc: 480 (20%)
Kids & Baby things: 155 (7%)
Shawls & Stoles: 168 (7%)
Feet & Leg things: 163 (7%)
Sweaters & Garments: 62 (3%)"

That is a LOT of crafting!

So how did my year end up project wise?  In some ways it is hard to say, between test knits that I can't talk about, upcoming design things that I can't talk about...the actual number of projects isn't really close at hand, but what I do know is how many yards I knit.

You ready?

30,272 yards of yarn passed through my fingers this year, not including swatching or things that got frogged before they got finished.

Which is 17.2 MILES of yarn, or 27.68 kilometers for my Metric Friends.

Counting socks and mitt pairs as single projects, as near as I can calculate I completed 58 projects, so a little more than one a week, and some of those projects were huge!  There was at least one shawl per month, 2 adult sized sweaters, 2 ruana's....

So what happens when I turn the page and look at 2017?

I guess we will all find out together!

Happy New Year!

What do you have planned for 2017?


Sunday, January 1, 2017