Tag Archive | knitters

Not My WIPs

We recently conquered our attic. The attic is finished, with two rooms up there. One is the girl’s bedroom, and the other had ended up as a storage room/dumping ground. It was a mess and a waste of space. The girl had mentioned wishing it could be a music room, so when the kids and I had a snow day a couple of weeks ago we decided to tackle it. She had important other stuff to do (scholarship apps and homework) so the boy and I started without her.


He packed up Legos and Star Wars toys while I bagged trash and carried a bunch of pieces of wood down three flights of stairs. Once his part was done, he helped me with some of the stuff going in the trash, and then I was on my own. I sorted, filed, tidied, and organized the space, and by the end of the day, the girl had her music room. She was delighted!


Anyway, amongst all of the assorted stuff the girl had discarded in that room, I found yarn! And needles! And…knitting?? Yep, back when she was still interested in knitting, she’d cast on five projects, and they’d all been discarded in various stages. I rescued everything yarn-related and relocated it to my craft room where I could keep it safe, and assessed the projects in front of me. One was a lace cowl with just a few rows, and she had no idea what pattern she’d used. That one got frogged and I’ll make something for her out of the yarn. One was a fingerless glove, and the rest were hats. I like knitting hats. I miss knitting hats. So the glove got set aside and the hats came downstairs and added to my own pile of WIPs. Last weekend when I needed a break from my own projects, I picked up and finished two of hers.

This one was a simple striped slouch hat in acrylic. It felt like Red Heart super saver, and if it hadn’t been so far along, I might have just frogged it. But I liked the colors and it was ready for decrease rounds, so I went with it, and it was done in about an hour.


I’m pretty sure this yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima; I love it. She didn’t know what pattern she’d started, and after the ribbed brim I saw two rows of stockinette, then one row of k2, p2. I could work with that. It ended up as a great beanie with a waffle pattern and if she doesn’t wear it, I might steal it.


This last hat WIP is a Sockhead, and it was maybe two inches into the 4″ brim, so I’ll save that for when I need truly mindless knitting, like concerts or movies, things like that. Obviously she’s in no rush for any of these! If you look closely, you can see where I picked up. She’s a very tight knitter, and I am not.

Have you ever finished projects for someone else?

Another FO!

My first finished object of the new year! I’ve been knitting a LOT this weekend, alternating between two new projects and one older WIP, my Black Diamonds cowl.


I decided I was close enough to the end that I should just finish it, so I knit and knit and knit and bound off last night. It has now been washed and is currently blocked out to dry on my nifty new blocking mats.


The pattern is the Saltfleet Cowl, yarn is Anzula Cricket in charcoal. This is the cowl I made before and ran out of yarn, and another knitter sent me a bit of leftover that was supposed to be the same colorway but such a completely different color that I couldn’t handle it. So I frogged and reknit with smaller needles and still didn’t have enough yarn to complete the cowl as written. The ribbing is shorter on both ends, and I left off the last four or five rows. Maybe I should have gone down another needle size! But in any case, it’s done, and I still think it’s gorgeous, and I’ll probably wear the heck out of it.

And now that it’s done, back I go to my new projects!

The Call of the Yarn

I have four sad WIPs that I have been neglecting. I have allowed myself to become distracted by all the new, pretty yarn entering my stash. I want to knit ALL the things with the new yarn. I’m quickly filling up my Ravelry queue with potential projects and am slowed only by having to go back to work. I’ve already started one new project, with some yarn I bought right after Christmas. I got two skeins of Malabrigo Rios in Archangel, and wanted a simple pattern to show off the gorgeous colors. I love cowls and wear them almost every day, so that was the easy decision. After much perusing, I settled on the Hill & Dale Cowl, a generously-sized cowl that will make perfect lunch-break knitting.


As always, I’m loving knitting with Malabrigo. But I’m also itching to cast on a Chevrione shawl with my new Frolicking Feet gradient set. I haven’t done any fingering weight lace in ages and I’m craving it!


Plus I’m desperate to make a Miss Winkle shawl, and I think this pink Frolicking Feet  will be perfect. (I’m sensing a theme here.) I also have this gorgeous skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage waiting to become this Gothic Lace cowl.


See?? So many beautiful projects just waiting for my attention! The pull of these yarns is so strong that I’m even ignoring a Malabrigo Hitchhiker already on my needles! That’s pretty significant…but hm, maybe I should get that back out…hmm, how many WIPs is a reasonable number?

The Yarn Harlot Speaks

Have you ever had an experience that was so fantastic, so true and honest, that it speaks to you right at your core? That it leaves you feeling high afterward? Maybe the word verklempt applies here. That was me last night, after spending the evening at the Knitting in the Heartland event. It was AMAZING. No other word for it. I can’t believe I even considered not going. It was my first knitting conference and now I know how wondrous it is to be in a big room filled with people who speak your language, who understand what knitting means, that it’s not just an idle hobby. It’s so much more.

I mean, I walked into the hotel and there were people in the lobby just hanging out, knitting. Not one, but several. I got in line with all these other nice women who were friendly and helpful, and they were knitting! Or if they weren’t, I could see the yarn in the project bags they were carrying. I think they said there were 300 attendees. IMG_5653As I waited, a nice knitter sat next to me and we chatted about our knitting and friended each other on Ravelry. Then the magic truly began: Stephanie began her speech.IMG_5654

If you ever have the chance to hear her, GO. She is hysterical, so down-to-earth and casual and then she’ll drop these lines and have the whole room laughing. Plus she’s Canadian so she says things like “arse” and “eh” and it’s not an act, it’s just her and it’s delightful. She had me in tears at one point from laughing so hard. But it was more than just the funny stuff. It was about the “more”: How generous knitters are. How smart and persistent and creative we are. How knitting does wonderful things for our health, particularly our mental and emotional health. It was about self-esteem. She talked about how we need to own our power as knitters, embrace our talent and skill. We need to stop belittling ourselves before we can expect others to stop belittling us.

One of my favorite parts was when she pointed out often we deflect compliments of our knitting by saying “it was easy”, or “I just followed a a pattern”. Yep. I do that. No, she said, just say “Thank you.” Because it wasn’t easy. It took time to learn the skills, to practice to a point to where you can correctly follow the pattern to create that piece of art. To take it further, it takes creativity to match yarns with patterns, to put together color schemes and stripe sequences. It’s NOT easy, but we sometimes think it is because we love doing it so much. Like Stephanie, like so many other women, I am guilty of low self-esteem much of the time. There are a lot of things I don’t do well. It’s hard to be a mom–I mean, it’s great, but you don’t get a lot of validation that you’re doing a good job on a daily basis. It’s hard to be a writer–the writing is great but sharing it and being rejected sucks. So for her to tell me that yes, my knitting is beautiful, that it speaks to my talent and skill, well. I needed to hear that. Maybe we all did, because after the speech, I had women stopping me to tell me how gorgeous my Hitchhiker was (I wore this one. Loved it, except it gave me a rash where it touched my neck. Oops.) and I practiced saying, “Thank you!”

Okay, so the talk (which lasted an hour and a half, including questions) was fantastic, but then she signed books, and I’d brought one with me, of course. When I got up there, I mentioned that she’d tweeted me and told me I should come, and that I was so glad I had, and I could actually see her face light up with recognition! And then she was gracious enough to allow me to take a selfie with her. IMG_5656See? Amazing. Sighhhh. I want to move to Canada and live next door and be her best friend. (Except that’s really hard, apparently, moving to Canada. They don’t let just anybody in.) Heck, I want to BE her.

That would have been enough. That experience made the long drive in heavy traffic and construction worth it. But there was MORE: the market! However, this post is long enough, and that one will be equally long because OMG the market! Yes, I bought stuff. Probably too much. Tune in tomorrow to see what I got!

An Epiphany and Finished Project Friday

Earlier this week, I had a minor epiphany. I read a quote about writers, and how if they hope to succeed at writing, they need to treat it like a job. I’ve read it before but this time it really hit me, and I realized I haven’t been doing that, either with my crafting or my writing. How can I get frustrated if I don’t put forth as much effort as I can? I’ve been treating these as hobbies, which is how they began. I’ve been treating them as fun ways to spend my days, which they still are. But if I truly want to make some sort of business out of it, I have to treat it like a business, which means committing a good chunk of my day to it.

My first order of business was updating my Etsy shop. It’s been open for a while but got pushed to the back burner for a long time. But it’s the face of my business that most of the world sees, so I wanted to present the best face possible. I pulled out all my current inventory, took new photos, reassessed prices, and updated listings. I went from around 30 listings to the current, final total of 55. These are my best pieces, the ones that will travel with me to the big craft shows I’m doing this fall and winter. My photos may not be professional quality, but they’re lot better than they were when I began, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. This is my favorite photo, even though it’s not the best one to show off the details of the bag.IMG_4638 I do still hope to do more photo shoots with my daughter modeling my pieces, but there are two problems with it. 1, she’s so busy right now that I hate to take up her time, and 2, she’s got a rather large head so I hesitate to have her model some of the size small/medium hats. But she’s great with everything else!

So I don’t have a finished yarn project, but I finished my Etsy project, and I’m pleased with it. I don’t expect big immediate results; it may never be a strong source of income for me, and that’s ok. But it’s a place to showcase my things, a place to point potential customers as well as judges for juried craft shows. My ongoing goal is to list new pieces more often, take new photos when I can, and keep up with revising/renewing old listings.

On a similar vein, I’m going to devote a little more time to my bonny knits Facebook page. Sure, I always post a link to my blog, but I need more. I need to post pictures and updates and personal thoughts more often. I’d love to drive more traffic to that page, but I can’t do that without giving people something good to look at.

And then, after I’ve done my social media “work” for the day, then and only then will I allow myself time to sit on the couch with my yarn and my Gilmore Girls. Obviously that’s important work too! Last night I started my Arizona Sunset cowl, and I already love it. IMG_3225Anybody else have good tips for using social media to support your business? What are your favorite sites and how do you use them?

What do you want in a Local Yarn Store?

We did a little yard work on Monday, and today I woke up with two little spots of poison ivy on my arm. Of course. It never fails. Whenever I do yard work, I get poison ivy. Doesn’t matter what precautions I take or whether we can see any where I’m working. It just happens. Fingers crossed that it’s just the one spot and the calamine continues to do its job. Then I had a blog post half-written this morning before I realized I’d already posted about that topic (the purple crochet fedoras). Shoot. That was my big plan for the morning. Instead I’ll go down and cast on for the Honey Cowl again with my Madelinetosh.

My brain is a little preoccupied, I guess. I found out the other day that one of my favorite LYSs is moving. It will still be in the metro area, but it’s farther away. It leaves the area on this side of the state line with just one LYS, and not a great one. There are some positives, the best one being that it’s a 3-minute drive for me. It’s a big store and they have good prices. They’ve been there for years and years and it seems like the customer base is much older. The ladies who work there don’t always take kindly to younger crafters like myself invading their space. It is not a welcoming store. It’s not really a friendly store. I like to look at the yarn but I’d never want to just sit down and hang out there. And that’s what I want in my LYS. 

So this news started a little voice in the back of my head talking, poking me about opening my own LYS. I’ve thought about it, dreamed about it. I have a vision in my head of what it might look like. It’s fuzzy and shifts, but it’s there. Certain aspects stay the same. I have ideas of promotions I would do, groups I could host, how I’d arrange the comfy chairs for crafters. I’ve already thought about what types and brands of yarn I’d want to carry to distinguish myself from the other LYS, but I think the atmosphere would be the biggest variant. Knitters and crocheters are such a friendly, community-oriented bunch that I think we flock to places that encourage it. I *want* to encourage it. I want to foster it and be part of it.

My husband and I have talked about creating a shop together, one that would allow us both to showcase our creations and help others create. He dreams of building custom furniture, and a yarn store could easily also be a showroom for his sample pieces. We have a name picked out, we’ve looked at available buildings…every For Sale or For Rent sign in our little downtown area catches our eyes.

Right now I’m dreaming. I’m even yearning a bit. But it’s not time yet. My kids are busy, and aren’t old enough to drive themselves to their various activities. I still want to be there for them, help them be active in band and theater and music and whatever else they dream of. I have some other family stuff going on, too, stuff that wouldn’t allow me to easily take on something as huge as my own store. I have a puppy who would eat the house if left alone all day, every day. We haven’t begun to write a business plan yet, something that definitely needs to happen. We need to do some research, start compiling numbers and working out the details. But I think this could happen. I think this could be our future.

It makes me wonder, and I want your feedback: What do you look for in a LYS? What compels you to go there again and again? What do you like and not like? What do you wish your LYS had or did? If you could have a dream LYS, what would it look like?


Yarn for the Nerd in all of us

Have you heard of Make magazine? Or maybe the Maker Faire? They’re parts of a larger Maker movement that encourages people to…well, to make stuff. They want people to interact with their environment, to open their minds enough to think about how to do something differently, or to create something fun and interesting and helpful. The magazine has all kinds of project ideas, and my husband has been reading it for ages. He loves to find fun things to do with the kids. I’m awfully glad he does too, because it led to a new yarn source for me.

So, the Maker Faire. It’s “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.” Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Kansas City hosted a Maker Faire last month, but unfortunately it fell on a weekend when we simply did not have time to go. But shortly after, the Make blog featured one of the KC vendors, Nerd Girl Yarns, and since Alex reads the blog, is a nerd, and has a wife who loves yarn, he watched the interview. (Watch her interviews here) And then he shared it with me, and I got all excited because guess what? NGY is in Odessa, Missouri which is only about 30 minutes from me!


I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before, but as I poked through the website I realized that it was because she focuses on the dyeing, and selling custom orders. She does have a small retail space, but it seems to be more of a sideline. And I’m okay with that, because the yarns she creates are awesome. Yesterday I got out to the studio for the first time to see some of the yarn in person. The retail section is small, with just one little bit of wall devoted to yarn. The other side has the hand-dyed clothing, and there were a couple of chairs for those inclined to stay and be crafty. I wasn’t there for that. I was there for the yarn.

A lot of the colors are inspired by Doctor Who, like a blue and brown named Tenth Doctor. There was a red named I Am the Cyber King, and a Gallifrey with oranges and reds. There was a TARDIS blue, of course, and a yellow/orange with a touch of blue Sunflower. I was really hoping for the Blue Box Exploding, which is mostly blue with some yellow/orange too. She has Don’t Blink, Doctor Donna, Fantastic, Raggedy Man, Regenerate, and Time Machine. Both my kids (and the husband) are Whovians so I’d love to get some of each to make them lots of Whovian presents. I can’t do it all at once, though. I know. Patience, grasshopper.

They’re not all Doctor Who, of course. There’s Windu, Nevermore, Resurrection Stone, Serenity Firefly Class, Forbidden Forest, Walking Dead, Girl on Fire and so much more. So many references that I don’t even get! I can’t list them all, so you really should check out her stuff yourself. Go to her website here.

The really cool thing is that you can order the colorway on any base you like. So if you adore fingering weight, you can get that. If you love bulky yarn, like me, you can get that. You can get exactly the yarn you want!

“What did you get??” I can hear you asking. My eye went first to a gorgeous purple sparkly yarn named Secretly Spiders. The site says it’s inspired by Night Vale, and sadly I have no idea what that means. All I know is that I love it. It’s on Smashing, which is a DK of 70% merino and 20% silk with 5% silver-toned stellina to make it shine.IMG_2677I kept picking skeins up and putting them back. I really needed to restrain myself to 2 or 3 skeins, but it was hard. I struggled with choosing based on the Whovian names or the colors. I ended up going for the colors this time. So my second skein was a beautiful blue-green blend named #nofilter. The colors were more vivid on the fingering weights, but I knew I’d enjoy a heaver weight more, so I went with Foxy. Foxy is a DK weight too, but it’s 85% Polwarth Wool and 15% silk.IMG_2679Once I got through the initial getting-to-know-you phase, I was able to look beyond the wall o’ yarn, and that’s when I saw the sale section. It wasn’t big, and there were only two bowls of yarn, but any sale yarn is good yarn in my book. My third selection came from that.IMG_2682This is called Shtako. No idea what that means. Feel free to enlighten me. But the purple caught my eye, and as soon as I touched it, it was mine. It’s on the Luscious yarn, and it really is luscious. It’s Heavy Worsted, 60% superfine merino and 40% silk. It’s heavenly. It’s only 100 yards so it will have to be a small project; I’m thinking some fingerless gloves.

I also got a medium project bag with the logo, like you see in that first picture. You can never have enough project bags, and at $12 it was the perfect price. She didn’t have any Blue Box Exploding, so I’ll probably be ordering some in the near future. And we got to talk to Christa, the owner, for a little while, and she mentioned the possibility of doing quarterly events where they dye larger quantities of some of the popular colorways. I’m really hoping that happens, because I’d be there in a heartbeat! If you’d like to find out when that happens, follow her blog here. Maybe I’ll see you there!