Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is "Free" Yarn Sufficient Payment

From left to right: Mountain Colors Twizzle (Loganberry),
Unnamed Cashmere (400 yards, 2 ounces, pink),
Spirit Trail Fiberworks (449 yard Bombyx silk lace weight, Scottish Thistle)
Yesterday I announced the beginning of test knitting for my new pattern, Edgewood Sweater. As part of the test knit, and hopefully to make up for not being able to pay actual cash money to testers, I said I'd be giving away three skeins of yarn. I hope that's not something that someone takes offense to.

I'm ultra-highly sensitive to causing offense. This often causes me to offend randomly. And that frustrates me greatly.

I know that all knitters are great stash collectors; I'm a great stash collector. So I definitely have extra yarn that, while it's beautiful and I love it--even covet it--I'm never going to use it. I actually can't think of anything better than giving it away. Giving away yarn makes me very very happy.

And if I can get something out of it, too, so much the better.

I hope that one of these three skeins will help sweeten the deal and encourage knitters to sign up to test Edgewood. Reminder, you can read more on yesterday's post, or in this thread on Ravelry.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Step Three: Test the Pattern

Sleeve
A sweater sleeve in process
Wait, what were Step One and Step Two?

If you've been following me on Instagram (and, really, why not? It's harmless and I sometimes post pictures of pretty yarn and even other snapshots like that time I bleached my hair to orange), you will have noticed that I've been working on a sweater design. I've knit sweaters before; I've even knit sweaters without patterns and just made it up as I go, taking measurements and fitting the sweater to the recipient. But this is the first time I've set out to design a sweater from start to finish with the end goal of self-publishing the pattern.

It's a big proposition. I'm always kind of amazed when I'm working on a pattern that there are designers that churn out pattern after pattern and they all seem to be amazing and beautiful. I'd love to know their trick. So far, my only trick seems to be "let's design a sweater and just throw different stitches and yarns at it and see what happens."

So now to the sweater I've been working on. It's striped, short sleeve and has a loose cowl neck that, hopefully, is flattering on a wide variety of bodies. I wanted a cowl neck that is "built in" to the sweater front and not a traditional pick-up-and-knit cowl neck collar. I've seen this type of design on a lot of t-shirts and I think it's very flattering.

For the yarn, I pulled four balls of Juniper Moon Farm Zooey DK, a linen/cotton blend that I had purchased for a different project that just never materialized. I like the three muted colors I had on hand and wanted stripes, something less traditional than just plain stripes. The way these stripes work out, there's no need to cut the yarn and it creates an interesting shadow-type effect. I think it would also be very sharp in darker colors as well, though I'd be tempted, personally, to keep the colors close in tone so the stripes aren't the main feature.

Another feature of the pattern is that the yarn is knit at a looser gauge than usual. It's a DK or light worsted yarn but I knit at a gauge of 4 stitches/inch. It has a nice gentle hand and, at the slight positive ease, skims the body lightly.

I've been working with a tech editor and she's definitely whipping me into shape, or, really, the pattern. It's a lot of number wrangling and she's a whiz. So I'm finally ready to start finding test knitters for the pattern.

In an ideal world, I'd love to line up test knitters, send them yarn and, in exchange for their expertise and work, pay them. Unfortunately, it isn't an ideal world. Yet. It's coming. So I'll be running the test knit through a group on Ravelry. I will offer any of my self-published patterns (literally, any number of them) to any test knitter that completes the knit and all that complete the test knit will also be entered in a drawing to win one of three awesome skeins of yarn. I'll go stash diving and pull 'em out -- it involves me going into a room I've been trying to avoid because it desperately needs cleaning and organizing -- but I can promise at least one will be cashmere. I don't pass along mediocre yarn.

I'm looking forward to meeting and working with new and fun knitters. Please join in below, or see the post in "The Test Pool" group on Ravelry!

Edgewood Sweater




Bust Circumference
32''
34''
36''
38''
40''
42''
44''
46''
48''
50''
52''
54''
Sweater Circumference
34''
36''
38''
40''
42''
44''
46''
48''
50''
52''
54''
56''
Color A
yards
470
470
490
530
590
640
690
730
760
810
860
890

meters
430
430
450
490
540
590
640
670
700
750
790
820
Color B
yards
140
140
150
160
180
190
210
220
230
250
260
270

meters
130
130
140
150
170
180
200
210
220
230
240
250
Color C
yards
140
140
150
160
180
190
210
220
230
250
260
270

meters
130
130
140
150
170
180
200
210
220
230
240
250


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Peek at a Swatch

Step one: find the last photo of knitting or yarn on your phone and post it. 


Step two: talk about it

I've been shopping with a friend on our lunch hour recently at a high-end-ish clothing store for women that focuses on two primary colors (or non-colors, depending how you look at it) and, as per usual, I focus on the knitwear. I'm very intrigued by the classy, lightweight knitwear that you often find in the stores. It contrasts so much with "traditional" heavier hand knits, especially in garments. I totally get why it's intimidating to knit an entire sweater with lightweight yarns; that's a lot of work. I wonder if I can change that a little bit. 

The search above is three strands of lace yarn, Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, in blue/blue/grey on US 8/5mm needles. It feels really interesting, a different drape from both plied and single/strand yarns and I really want to play with this more. I'm also going to mix the pattern up with some panels of single strands of the same yarn on US 5/3.75mm needles.

Okay, your turn. Post a photo, a little bit about it, and pass it on!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Cowls In a Book; and Thank You

inside book image
cover image So I have two things to share with you and one is an excuse for the other one being so late. I have so many other excuses but this is all I'm going with for right now.

Last week, or two weeks ago, I'm not sure, I got a copy of a new book in the mail -- "60 Quick Cowls" -- and one of my patterns is in it! It's a casual cowl with cables and a simple texture named "Budding Out." And the yarn (Cascade Yarns Highland Duo), oh, it was very very nice to knit with. I stashed several more skeins for myself. It's mostly alpaca with some merino wool. It's buttery soft and I didn't have any issue with color loss when I blocked the finished cowl, which I'm always ready for when it's a red shade even though it oddly happens more often with blue shades. Huh, something to think about.

The cowl starts with a cable knit sideways, so it's a lot of knitting but very few stitches to cast on. I think that's one the things I get irritated with when I'm casting on for a project like a cowl or a hat with fine yarn or afghan or... well... anything... when I can't count and I end up casting on multiple times. Or I use the wrong amount of yarn and have to start over. (You wouldn't believe how many times I cast on for a hat and end up fudging the ribbing just so I don't have to cast on again. Besides, is 76 stitches really so different from 80?)

So you cast on a few for the cable, work a long cabled piece, then pick up stitches and work the main part of the cowl. Again, this helps eliminate another annoying thing with cowls or "in-the-round" projects. The twist. The stupid twist that even the most experienced knitter cannot avoid sometimes.

I might be a little grump today. Maybe it's because I didn't get any solid knitting done this weekend, just a lot of thinking and watching. But now that I'm thinking about it, the swatching I did is going to be amazing. It's totally a project I'd do, but I'm not sure if it's something other people would tackle. How do you feel about lace patterning on every row? Too much?

Anyway, back to last week -

Remember when I did that thing with #MakingMondays and ended up getting mentioned on the livecast? And then I knitted hats for Jordan and Heléne and William? Well they all received their hats and there was a special #MakingMondays short little cast about it. Take a look/listen:



A special thank you from #MakingMondays with Helene Yorke!
Posted by Jordan Roth on Monday, February 1, 2016


So there's a few things I've learned and I'm trying to make myself really believe. First, you can try something new and it won't kill you. I didn't die. I didn't even die of embarrassment, though I'm not sure why I would think that would happen. It's scary to put yourself out there, but all that happened was I now have a tiny connection to some people I didn't know before. If I'm ever in NYC again and walking down the street and I happen to run into Jordan or Heléne or William, I can say "Hello! We haven't formally met but we all do awesome things!" (Okay, that might still be a little weird.) But there's a connection.

Second, there's the thing Heléne says "All creators need a yes." I get it. She's totally right. It's more
than knowing you can do something. It's not creating in a vacuum. It's having other people, any other person, say "Yes, I see what you did. I appreciate the amount of work/talent/ability/dedication that was involved." They don't have to like it. They don't have to want it. Just acknowledge it. If it were for awards and accolades, nothing would be created. How many billions of hours are spent on creating things that will only be seen by one or two people. I think these things are created just for the acknowledgment. Acknowledgment from co-creators, audiences, families, critics, strangers on the street, strangers on the internet.

And this should be encouraged. Please remember this. When someone creates something for you, posts a photo of it online, talks about it, please acknowledge it. You don't have to love it. Just say thank you. "Thank you" is a powerful phrase. It doesn't have to be endorsement or approval. It's just "Thank you." But to the creator - wow - it's powerful. It's "I've seen you. I heard you."