Archive | January 2016

A Greyhound Snood

You’ve seen the photos, I’m sure, of the dogs wearing the hooded cowl-type things? Well, that’s called a snood and they’re popular for greyhounds because apparently they get cold more quickly than other breeds. I got a request for one the other day, and it’s been a fun project so far. It’s unusual and different, and I like the idea of keeping a puppy warm! I chose a machine-washable yarn since even though the dog is “reasonably clean dog” (what does that even mean? My dogs don’t speak that language!), she’s still a dog. I’m using the Pointy Greyhound Hood pattern. Most of the patterns were just the cowl/neckwarmer but she specifically wanted a hood, so a hood she’ll get! I cast on last night and it’s going quickly so far. IMG_4970It’s cool because you start with the ribbing in the round, which is what goes around her face, then you take part of the stitches and knit flat for a while, then you join in the round again for the pointy hat part. It was also interesting to see how much my tension differed from knitting flat on straights (lower portion) to knitting in the round on DPNs.IMG_4971Yep, I used the same size needles. Big difference, huh? Anyway, once I’m done with the pointy hat bit, I’ll go back to those open stitches (the ones at the bottom still on a circular needle), pick up some more, and knit in the round again for the neck portion. It’s a nifty design, and I can’t wait to see it on the pretty pup! Not my pretty pup, though. I’m afraid it wouldn’t last long. He may look docile but when he and Grace get going, they’re pretty crazy.

I wish you a happy Friday, and Jack wishes you happy napping!IMG_4960

Purple Beanie

I worked on a WIP yesterday. It was boring: all gray, all garter stitch. But I made some progress and I have hope that someday I will be able to switch to the third color (teal).IMG_4966I guess this is good TV knitting. I don’t have to think AT ALL. But that’s also why it’s boring. So mostly I worked on a hat, and today it’s done! IMG_4963IMG_4964This is the Purl Swirl Beanie, and I love it. You can make it as slouchy as you want, so I knit to about 7″ before starting the decreases. The pattern is extremely simple but gives the hat a really interesting look and texture. I used Dream in Color Classy, a superwash merino that might be one of my favorite yarns to knit with. It’s not soft in the same way as alpaca; it’s more…crisp. That makes it behave well on the needles and have great stitch definition. The funny thing is that when I went to update the project page on Ravelry, supposedly I had two skeins of the same yarn. This is what I found: IMG_4967They have the same label on them, same color code and everything. But that’s a HUGE difference! I guess this is why they say to make sure you get skeins from the same dye lot! Still, I’m delighted to discover I have more Dream in Color yarn than I realized. Before I can cast on with it, though, I have a new commission: a greyhound snood! It’s a fun pattern, one with a hood, and it’s for one of my daughter’s teachers. (The teacher’s dog, that is.) And of course I don’t have the right yarn, so a trip to Michaels is in store for me today. Might even hop over to Office Max while I’m out there. Yarn AND office supplies? That’s a great day!

New Hat Photos

Yesterday I borrowed my daughter again, this time to model hats. I experimented with the backyard this time and discovered the late-day light is much better in the front. Still, I was pleased enough with the results. IMG_4913IMG_4914This is The Journey Hat. I love the look, but it came out really big. Part of it was me, accidentally knitting it longer than I was supposed to, but part of it was just…it came out big all around. How was my gauge, you ask? No idea. I don’t do that for hats, LOL! It’s still a good adult size, would be perfect for those with big heads or lots of hair, and it’s super slouchy. Plus, the yarn is divine. It’s KnitPicks Preciosa Tonal, two strands held together, and it’s so wonderfully soft and warm.

Here’s the gray newsboy cap, crochet this time!IMG_4962IMG_4964This pattern is called Newsie and it’s super fast. It was a little snug on my big-headed girl but fits me fine. I’ve also made this size for my niece (who’s 7) and it’s great for her too. If you’re interested in hers, find the Ravelry page here.

Another Slouchy Broken Rib Hat, Ravelry notes here.IMG_4957IMG_4952

And here are a couple of better photos of the hat I showed you yesterday. I’m calling it the Snowfall Hat. IMG_4922IMG_4925IMG_4934I’m quite pleased with this pattern, The Hipster Slouchy Hat. I love how it slouches in the back without being too poofy; I think it might be a better style for me to actually wear. I just need to find some appropriately purple bulky yarn.

I’m now down to seven WIPs and my goal is to finish at least one today. I’ve been out to lunch with friends the last two days, and while I had a wonderful time, I need a quiet day to rest and recharge. Knitting is the best way for me to do that. And it just so happens I can hang out in my pajamas and drink tea all day at the same time!

Fear and Self-Loathing

Most of us have days when we’re full of those two emotions, am I right? Today is one of those days for me. Besides my life as a mom and wife, I have my passions: my yarn craft, my writing, my proofreading. If I’m not succeeding at those, I feel like I’m failing as a person. Whether that’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. It just is. The brain doesn’t function that way, or at least mine doesn’t. I need to train myself to define “success” more loosely.

So yesterday, you might have seen, I posted about starting a sale on my Etsy shop. I wrote about it here, and I posted a photo on Facebook. I tried to boost the photo but it was rejected, so I tried again with a different photo. Maybe I was obnoxious about it because someone unliked my page yesterday. This morning, I found that I’d lost two more likes. Does it matter? It shouldn’t. It’s not a comment on ME. Except that my knitting IS me, so a rejection of that does feel personal. Thankfully, I also got two new likes (YAY) so that made me feel better. Maybe I should get rid of the Facebook page and just focus on Etsy. I get so caught up in the numbers that I lose focus of what really matters.

Those of you with small crafty businesses, what do you do? Does FB help or hinder you?

Also, rejection just sucks, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, I also handed off my manuscript to a new reader, a former co-worker, and I’m anxious to hear her feedback. What if it’s horrible? I don’t always think it is, but today I do. And soon, I’ll be sending this piece of myself out to agents to critique, and reject.

Yes, rejection sucks. But I guess that’s the risk you take when you put yourself out there, isn’t it? And you just have to keep going to find the reward: those people who truly love what you’re doing and who aren’t shy about saying so. It’s too bad those voices are less frequent and harder to hear/believe.

But here’s the bright spot of my day: I have a potential proofreading client, and as much I love proofreading, I think I need to bump that up in my priorities. I love being that person who helps others shine. So getting a basic website up is on my To Do list, and soon. I’m sure I’ll share it when it’s up!

I’ll close with another highlight. I finished another project last night, a fun slouch hat with some of my newer yarn. I love it, can’t wait to get some better photos so I can list it on Etsy. IMG_4932

I have my knitting, but what about you? How do you cope with rejection, with fear and self-loathing?

A Scarf, a book and an Etsy Sale!

Today’s post will be quick and a bit scrambled, I think, much like my brain today. First, some happy news: I finished the scarf commission, hooray! It will ship out tomorrow and complete that order. Now I can move on to finishing my eight other WIPs without guilt. Here’s a terrible photo that doesn’t show any good details…because it’s so darn hard to photograph black yarn. IMG_4916But just to prove that I’m not a complete and utter photo slouch, here’s a better one that I took last night. I’m pleased with it; it’s soft and cozy. IMG_4915

Second, I’m taking my manuscript and handing it off to my first co-worker reader! It’s a little scary and a little exciting at the same time. I hope she likes it, but I also hope I get good feedback. We’re having lunch too, which is why I don’t have time for a long post today.

Finally, I decided to do a sale on my Etsy shop for Valentine’s Day! I try to keep my prices affordable all the time, so I very rarely do discounts, but I figured, what the heck. Let’s try it and see what happens. So I’ve done a Facebook boost to hit a bigger audience, and you can see that here. Fingers crossed! IMG_4917

Happy Monday, friends!

I bought more yarn

This proves it: I am weak. I couldn’t even go a month without buying new yarn. I lasted 23 days. Then I made the mistake of going to Michaels. I was just going to get some Yoda green yarn to have on hand, and darn it, all the yarn was on sale. Even with that, I resisted until the very end, when I found some lovely variegated bulky skeins. Mostly acrylic but with a nice wooly feel to them. Then I found a display with these value packs, two skeins (1060 yards total) for $5.99. That seemed like too good a deal to resist. Sure it’s all acrylic, but they’ll make great inexpensive pieces for kids and my craft shows. The bags were sealed but someone had torn one open so I made sure to get a feel for the yarn before I bought it. IMG_4898IMG_4897Aren’t these awesome colors?

That wasn’t too terrible, but then yesterday we took a day trip to northwest Missouri. The girl was in an all-day honor band at Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, which is about an hour and a half away from us. At first we figured we’d stay in Maryville…but even the lone Starbucks inside the library was closed, and the biggest attraction in town was Walmart. So instead we drove to St. Joseph for the day, where we toured four antique malls and a real live yarn store! The Red Barn Yarn Farm was small but had a fantastic selection of yarns, and the staff was super friendly and helpful. Of course I needed some souvenir yarn, right?IMG_4902IMG_4903Malabrigo Worsted in Periwinkle. IMG_4904Malabrigo Worsted in Pink Frost.IMG_4905This Lustra isn’t the softest yarn against my cheek but I adore the color and the sheen. It won’t be something for me but I had to have some to play with.

I did have a bit of knitting time too. I wanted to work on this hat but forgot to bring the bigger needles for when it was time to switch to the body, oops! Fortunately, I’d brought my black scarf commission with me and I made good progress on that. IMG_4907I forgot! I found buttons at the antique mall too! Most of the time they’re loose in jars and I don’t want to pay $15 for a jar of tiny random buttons. But I love it when I find the cards of vintage buttons for a good price.IMG_4909So yeah, I broke my streak big time. But it sure was fun! And I’m back in the mode of “Knit all the things NOW!” I’ve got so many WIPs on my needles and so many ideas for new projects that I think it’s the tiniest bit overwhelming. Today I might focus on the scarf; that’s the highest priority and getting done will ease my mind. What do you think, can I knit 3/4 of a scarf in one day?

Photo Editing of Yarn Stuff

Yesterday was spent without yarn in my hands and strangely, it felt okay. That’s not to say I avoided yarn completely. Instead, I worked on photos for my Bonny Knits business. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but wasn’t sure what apps or programs would be best. Photoshop is the obvious one, but it’s too expensive for my needs.

Thanks to a fellow fiber friend, I discovered PicMonkey and started playing around with the free Basic version. It has a good variety of effects, overlays, themes and fonts for free, which is great. The biggest flaw is how slowly it runs on my computer, and I’m not sure how much to blame on the site and how much on my laptop. When there’s nothing else open on my computer, I can use it without too much frustration. Here are a couple of early attempts. yodaHeartbeatLoveHatSadly, this one has a wee typo (should be ‘shop’, not ‘shops’) and I couldn’t go back and edit once I saved. It would have to be re-done completely. I don’t know if that’s something that’s different in the paid services, but it would be nice to keep the images in a library and edit them easily.

Then I tried Foto Editor Lite, another free app, this time on my phone. There were some different filters that I liked a lot, ones that seemed to alter the background without changing the focus of the photo too much. The text was easy to add and alter, but the app crashed a few times while I was editing text, and I’d lose everything I’d done. Still, I liked it well enough for a quick edit of photos on my phone that I could then easily post on Twitter or Instagram. IMG_4889

Then I moved to the iPad and played with LiPix, another free app. It’s easy to use with a ton of variety in frames and shapes. You can alter the colors yourself to get just the right shade. It has just as many filters as Instagram, if not more. Adding text was simple, with great options for color and font. There were stickers you could add, which were fun, probably not something I’d use for this kind of thing but great for personal photos. I think this might have been my favorite of the three. It was easier for me to work on the iPad than the phone, it didn’t crash once, it had a ton of variety for free, and the photos were easy to save and share. IMG_0348IMG_0349There you have it, if you’ve been looking for ways to spice up your photos but like me, didn’t know where to start. I’m looking forward to all the fun images I can create!