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."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snowy Weekend Knitting

Two hats in process: Fancy Tiger Crafts Heirloom Romney
on the left and Quince and Co. Chickadee on the right
Last weekend was the first time I'd been snowed in for multiple days in a row in a long time and it was wonderful. There was knitting and movies and television and reading and cooking and knitting and eating and drinking and knitting. I shoveled snow and napped. I read a little and napped. I knitted and knitted and knitted. And napped.

Two finished hats, a third hat in process, two cinnamon
rolls and adult-ified hot cocoa
The snow started Friday morning. I had already discussed with my boss that I probably would just work from home; the forecast for snow was dire. But when I woke up, the ground was bare and it was still fairly warm. For a brief second I thought I should probably just suck it up, get dressed and go to work like a responsible adult. Well, I'm so glad I got over that quickly.

By 9:00 am, the snow started. It was light flurries and then just steady. Lots and lots and lots of snow. It didn't stop snowing until Saturday afternoon! Now, being in West Virginia, if you're not aware, we're not usually accustomed to quite so much snow in the winter. We usually get a couple good snowfalls and then it warms up and melts away. But this was, like, 16" of snow! Wow.

The knitting time was awesome. Even being inside, the snowfall just makes the world seem quieter and more peaceful. Looking outside my windows and seeing the world through the filter of snow is very relaxing. I worked on my three hats for Making Mondays (see the last post) and was able to finish all of them by Sunday. I had hoped they'd be done by Friday morning so I could dash to the post office and mail them but, no, that didn't happen.

Knitting these hats was a fun exercise. The red hat is a practice/sample of a new design I'm working on that I'm calling Gilbert. (Quick history lesson: Cass Gilbert was a successful architect in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Not only did he design West Virginia's state capitol building, he designed the Woolworth Building in New York City and the United States Supreme Court building!) The hat features a simple garter stripe texture pattern interspersed with strong cables, both reminiscent of the marble blocks and columns that are a prominent part of the facade of West Virginia's capitol building.

For the other two hats, I used two colors of the same wool: Fancy Tiger Craft's Heirloom Romney Yarn in black and teal (I'm sure they have more creative names for their colors than that). The yarn is so wooly. It's a little rough at first but it just feels so amazing and real. I can't get enough of wool yarn. For the teal hat, I used a twisted stitch pattern to make diamonds and for the black hat, I used the garter stripe texture pattern from the Gilbert hat I'm working on but without the cables.

So I mailed all hats off to their recipients and they should be receiving them any day. Unfortunately, my best intentions were forgotten when it came down to actually mailing the yarns. I meant to include care instructions and fiber information. I wanted them to know the hats were knit with all-American wool from all-American companies by an all-American dude. Did I? Nope. So I guess I'll email them and be all "well, I'm kind of a doofus but your hats are 100% wool so please don't put it in the washing machine." Or if the hat gets shrunk, let me know and I'll make another one. It's not like I'm running out of yarn.

Also, like a bad blogger/crafter, I didn't take any pictures of the finished hats except the ones posted here: folded up and still on the needles. Blah.

How would you spend three days snowed in if you had the chance? Would you be super-productive and get lots of cleaning done or would you take the time to relax and recharge and get some me-time? Let me know!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Try Something New On a Monday

I'm not sure if anyone is following me on the random social media places but on Twitter/Periscope (I think Twitter owns Periscope), you may have seen that I had some interesting interactions with strangers Monday night about 9:30 pm EST. It all started, for me, when I got a wild idea and decided to stop being afraid of possibilities and just do something bizarre. For me. Bizarre for more.

First, this post on my Tumblr, which is usually just me posting pictures of awesome knitwear I find online or pictures of what I'm currently knitting:
So I was watching the Periscope broadcast, just enjoying a giant cookie that I baked (it was just some yummy tub-o'-Nestlé-Toll-House cookie dough that I mashed into one big cookie) and some adult hot cocoa (maybe more Bailey's than hot cocoa), when the host of Making Mondays, Jordan Roth, started to mention my Tumblr post. I literally just stopped. I don't think I took a breath for several minutes. Holy crap it was scary. Let's be honest. It's a totally weird thing to put out there. "Hi, I'm some odd stranger dude that knits and I want to knit a hat for three people I've never met." Weird.

But then there was this look of what I think is excitement about a hat from guest Heléne Yorke and I plotzed (that may not be the right word but the sound of it accurately describes how I felt).

Heléne and Jordan
Sorry for the crazy quality; it's the best screen cap I could grab

So I offered to knit three hats and, bam, almost as soon as Jordan said "Go do this thing. Tweet at RodeoKnits and tell him what color hat you want" I got a few messages on Twitter. It was so cool! I mean, connections! With people!

So that's how it comes to be that I'm knitting a red hat for a guy from New Jersey (or at least that's what a little Twitter-stalking as turned up - hello, William!) and for Jordan Roth and for an honest-to-goodness celebrity, Heléne. An actress. Like for real. Check her out! So I've got to think up another design for two hats.
William's hat in progress. The dangle-y bit is
just to keep me organized and on track and you can
get your own from LimaPopShoppe!

I hope these people don't mind that they'll be getting prototypes of new designs I plan to release in the next few weeks! William, your hat in process is pictured to the right (and yes, I did start it last night after you requested a red hat). I think Jordan and Heléne's will be matching hats but in different colors. I have the same yarn in both black and turquoise/teal. They can fight it out.

What will come of this? Who knows. Maybe nothing. But that's okay. I tried something new, something else happened and I DIDN'T DIE! I guess that means I should try other new things and it won't kill me.

Bonus: I just found the video on Facebook Live and you can see the part where I get mentioned about one hour, eight minutes in. Facebook doesn't make it easy to get to the part of the video where you can find me.

Come create plays & dance & food & fun! The 1st #MakingMondays on #FacebookLive! Leave your comments to collaborate with us!

Posted by Jordan Roth on Monday, January 18, 2016