Friday, November 29, 2013

Scarf Contest - We Have a Winner!

Drum roll..........
And another...
and one more just because I'm being annoying.

There were an unprecedented THREE entries for the amazing Old Gold and Blue scarf. Your contestants are:
  1. Ann A.
  2. Roberta M.
  3. Robin S.
And the winner, as drawn by the random number generator at, is.....
Congratulations, Ann! You get a new scarf. I sure hope you're a WVU fan.

Now for a surprise -- I have an extra ball of yarn in gold and yellow, the same yarn I used to make the scarf. I'm never going to use it, so as a consolation prize, I'll send it to:
Roberta!! Roberta, email me and let me know where to send your two balls of Valley Yarns Berkshire. It's a fun yarn to knit with and I think you'll like it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Old Gold and Blue Scarf: Contest Update

Time is running out! Hurry! Operators are standing by!

The contest to win the gold and blue scarf, knitted by me, ends 11:59 PM EST on November 28, 2013. So far, I have one entry. That kinda hurts my feelings. But, on the other hand, the one entry is someone I like so that makes it a lot easier.

If you also want Ann A. to sport a gold and blue scarf, don't do anything!

If you want to try to steal the win from Ann A., do something!

Tweet at me with the tweet below and include a snapshot of you displaying some kind of school/seasonal spirit!

I want a @RodeoKnits original! #RodeoBall

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gold and Blue - The School Spirit Scarf

Milan Puskar Stadium
WVU 73 - Baylor 60
I attended my first college football game one year ago - WVU Mountaineers vs. Baylor Bears - and it was a heckuva lotta fun. Great weather, good friends, high scoring game. And the Mountaineers won. That's always a bonus, especially at a home game.

I'll be heading back up to a game this year, the last regular season game for the Mountaineers against Iowa State Cyclones. I'm totally excited.

Every year, someone asks me "Do you have a pattern for a [insert team name] scarf?" or "Can you knit me a hat for [insert team name]?" It's a difficult thing. Generally, most sports teams are defined by two colors. WVU is blue and gold. Or navy and yellow. Or, according to the alumni page: "Old Gold and Blue." But I'm off track.

In case you're not aware, scarves usually have two sides -- a front and a back -- and because of how most people just toss them on, a scarf with an obvious "wrong" side can look messy. Two-color scarves make this problem even more noticeable. So I set out to try to design a scarf that would be attractive on either side. I started by trying just plain stripes. Boring. I turned to mosaic knitting, which I know from experience mainly looks like horizontal stripes on the "wrong" side but everything I tried just looked busy on the front.

Then I tried a variation of a stitch I used in another mosaic scarf that appears to mimic ribbing. Casting on a large number of stitches and joining in the round, I knitted a long cowl scarf in gold and blue with stripes running perpendicular to each other. Problem solved!

Top - front
Bottom - back

Mosaic knitting creates a tight, firm fabric. Each row is knitted with only one color and involves a lot of slipped stitches. The slipped stitches are what give the fabric a solid structure. You can minimize that by knitting at a loose gauge than would generally feel comfortable.

Pick out a yarn that you love in the perfect colors for your school and needles a couple sizes larger than recommended by the yarn and let's get started!

So here you go - free pattern for the Rodeo Ball School Spirit Scarf!

And scroll down for information about how I'll send you this exact scarf for your collection!!

Disclaimer: This is just a general guideline and I do not promise that you will be in love with your finished project. You will be required to use your brain, make some decisions on your own and fly by the seat of your pants. But please, fly!

Rodeo Ball School Spirit Scarf


  • Color A and Color B: yarn in two colors - probably about 200 yards each if worsted weight, 300 yards each if DK/sport/fingering weight. I wouldn't recommend much heavier than worsted or it's an unwieldy wall of wool, but maybe that might be perfect if you're rooting for the North Dakota State Bisons - they're way up north.
  • 24" - 30" circular needles several sizes larger than your yarn would recommend.
  • stitch marker

Apparently, I'm gazing
out into the future and
dreaming of more scarves.


Cast on an even number of stitches with Color B. (Here you probably want to do a small swatch. If you have a specific size in mind, you'll have to be very careful about the swatch and counting. I didn't have anything specific, so I cast on 20 stitches, worked in stockinette for about 20 rows and did some measuring and then a little math. I came up with 140 stitches.)

Join your cast on in the round (make sure it's not twisted!) and let's go!

Round 1: With Color A, *knit 1, slip 1 with yarn in front, repeat from * to end of round, drop Color A to back of the scarf
Round 2: With Color B, *slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 1, repeat from * to end of round, drop Color B to back of the scarf

Repeat these two rounds over and over and over and over and over again until you get the size you want and finish knitting after you finish Round 2. Bind off with Color A. Weave in your ends and start rooting for your team!

Do you want this scarf for yourself? Tweet at me with the tweet below and include a snapshot of you displaying some kind of school/seasonal spirit! It'll be fun. I'll check all of the tweets between when this goes up and 11:59 PM EST on November 28, 2013. Everyone will go in a virtual hat and I'll draw a winner. Rules: live somewhere mail service runs so you can get this scarf!

I want a @RodeoKnits original! #RodeoBall

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why You Should Knit Gifts, or Everyone's So Needy

About this time of year, when the first snow flakes fly in the northern hemisphere, I start to hear "I have to knit presents for..." There are a couple ways to react.

My personal favorite: "I don't knit under obligation to anyone else." I knit things because I want to knit. The finished object isn't as important to me, so generally when I'm done, I can find someone that will take it off my hands.

This removes all the stress from any type of gift giving, including the stress of "will they like it." That's the worst one. It's never the right color, the right size, or the right amount of softness. I warn ya now, you'll even have friends and/or family that will complain about how itchy that cashmere scarf is. And then you never knit for them again.

Another option? Buy them a pair of needles, a skein of yarn and a cheap how-to book and tell 'em it's their own scarf. They just have to figure out how to do it -- the proverbial "teach a man to fish" gift.

That's probably going to make some of your friends not happy.

So I guess the only good option is to break down and knit the gifts. And I bet you need some ideas. Have I got some ideas for you!

Of course, I definitely recommend any of my patterns, but particularly Market Shawl and the duo of cowls Clendenin and Truslow. Market Shawl is the type of pattern you can keep with you and knit a few stitches anywhere you go without having to dig out a pattern and really puzzle over a chart. Clendenin and Truslow and very quick knits and can be made in any color combo for anyone on your gift list. Another favorite for easy knitting and effective use of beautifully dyed skeins of yarn would be South Hills.

I've joined the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long group on Ravelry. From November 1 through November 15, a whole bunch of designer's patterns, including mine, will be available at 25% off with coupon code "giftalong". Go check out the fun at Indie Design Gift-A-Long. If you join the gift-a-long, you'll also be entered into prize drawings and contests. I've donated a couple copies of my ebook The Vandalia Collection.

What are your coping mechanisms for gift knitting?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3 Steps to Getting Paid to Knit

Pretty color of Plymouth Yarn Taria Tweed
I read a little blog post today somewhere -- to be honest, I was still half-asleep and I clicked on a link in my Twitter stream -- about how to drive more traffic to your blog by having catchy titles and what titles work better. Apparently, numbered steps (don't spell out the number of steps) and DIY/how-to posts are most effective/popular. We'll see.

Step 1: Just Ask --

For several years, I've worked with a company in northern Virginia that dyes beautiful yarns, mostly lace weight and light weight yarns, and knit samples for them. They're a fantastic, talented duo (check out their stuff: Just Our Yarn) and the projects are fun to knit.

I met Diane and Cathy at Stitches East quite a few years ago -- I just checked my email history and it
was in 2008! -- by chance. My friends Jana and Pat had shopped at their booth first and when we stopped for a shopping break and a little snack, Cathy dropped by our table and we all chatted about how they started the business. Just on an off chance, I asked if they were hiring and that's where it started.

Feather River Shawlette
Through Just Our Yarn, and Diane and Cathy, I've knit a lot of lace with and without a lot of beads. It's a way for me to get my lace knitting out there without collecting a lot of lace shawls I don't know what to do with.

Did I get rich knitting samples for Just Our Yarn? Definitely not. But I enjoyed it and got to use really great yarn and neat patterns. And added a little extra yarn money to my budget.

Step 2: Fleece Your Friends and Family

Okay, so, this one isn't that nice. But it's gotta be said. You know that friend that loves everything you knit? Always wants to see your last project? Comments on how pretty the hat/scarf/shawl/sweater you're wearing? And then asks you to knit it for them?

Make them pay.

Sure, I'll knit this same hat for you. I'll pick out the yarn I want to use. I'll name the timetable. I'll charge you $XX.xx amount of money. Is it outrageously expensive? Absolutely. But your time is worth it. Can you do the same thing for the same friend and not charge? Definitely. But why not get some cash for your hard work.

(Okay, so step 2 was really just because I can't figure out a step 2.)

Step 3: Email Me (steven at rodeoknits dot com)

Last post I talked about my knitting team. I want to eventually be able to pay test and sample knitters for their time and abilities, so this isn't an automatic paycheck for knitting.

But, do you want to get on the team? I'd love to have you! Starting now, I'll offer yarn support for combination test and sample knitters, or just plain sample knitters. For test knitters (for now), it's still an on-you type proposition -- I'll provide the pattern and a timeline, you provide the yarn and the know how.

And now the important information --

Test Knitters:

Prerequisites (I love that word): know how to knit, provide your own yarn/tools, provide feedback, meet a deadline, communicate.
What you can expect from me: Existing pattern or, if it's an unreleased pattern, a general idea of the yarn weight and amount, tools, and gauge that will be expected.
What I expect from you: Follow the pattern. Communicate any problems/confusion (or lack of problems/confusion) with instructions. Take pictures and post to Ravelry when the pattern is released.
What you can expect from me in the future: More patterns!

Sample Knitters:

Prerequisites: All of the above, plus test knitted at least two of my patterns. These can be existing patterns (just contact me and I'll send you the patterns you want to test), or be surprised when I have new patterns coming out.
What you can expect from me: I'll send you the yarn for the finished sample.
What I expect from you: Follow the pattern. Finish the sample, including blocking if necessary. Get the sample back to me by the deadline, or communicate if there needs to be some change to the schedule.
What you can expect from me in the future: money (hopefully)
I can't wait to find new knitters to work with. Part of the knitting process I love so much is sharing the experience with other people, especially new knitters that are building confidence. Don't be shy! And keep an eye out for announcements about patterns that need test and sample knitters.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You're a Star!

Way back since the beginning of time (or a couple of months ago, if you're really keeping track), I started playing around with the Estonian star stitch and trying different variations. One thing led to another, one idea to another and bang, here we are. I hope my obsession is finally over.

Three new patterns!
I have a confession. I'm not a trained designer of anything. I don't think I'm a prodigy or have any incredible talent that must be shared with the world. I'm not inspired by the falling leaves or the change in seasons or how people are interconnected and emotions and blahblahblah. I just like to knit things, I get ideas and sometimes I write those ideas down, mostly because I think they're good ideas and that someone else might like to make them, too.

I was thrilled to learn that two of my cowls were recommended to a group on Ravelry that was having a unisex cowl knit-along. I was following along, though not knitting with the group because I have too many projects already, and loved seeing the finished projects. Interestingly, I offered the two cowls for free through a promotion on Ravelry and, though the promotion was redeemed almost 350 times, only a handful of cowls were posted as finished projects. It's still a milestone moment for me.
Super sneak preview

Sidebar, one other milestone - I sent off a finished project that was accepted to be published in a new book by a big publisher. Now I just wait to see if it was successful or if I have utterly failed. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground in my mind.

As I design more, or rather, write more designs down so that other knitters can have them, I find that I don't have time for every stage, especially the knitting/re-knitting/re-knitting/knitting-again. I have several awesome knitter friends that I know I can ask to knit for me but then I feel like I'm taking advantage, especially if I want to put a deadline on a project.

So here's what my current design process team looks like:
  • Me: of course
  • Tech editor: the awesome Eleanor
  • Test knitters: Jana, Pat, Zen, Sarah, Sarah, Marilyn, Gloria -- all the best knitters I know
  • Sample knitters: see above list of best knitters
  • Pattern lay out and design: me, again, but not my strong suit and should definitely farm this out
The dream team:
  • Everything stays the same but I pay test and sample knitters
Why would I want to pay sample knitters and test knitters? In my opinion, the services provided are two different things, but each equally important. Test knitters work the pattern according to the instructions and give feedback based on knitability and clarity of instructions, keeping the finished object. Sample knitters can do the same thing while also giving me a finished sample of the pattern I can use. A paycheck of some kind would also give an air of professionalism.

Everyone has been awesome so far and I have no bad experiences. I want to reward everyone for what they do for me. So far, the best I've been able to do is give yarn and pattern to a sample knitter and get the project back. That's worked great. I want more.

Ridgeview Infinity Scarf
Wow I got way off track. Estonian star stitch. The more I work with it and the more I see/say it, the more I'm not entirely sure I'm being 100% accurate. (A quick Google search led me to this article, which makes me think I might be okay.)

I have four new patterns -- 4! -- in the works and almost ready for you. Two wide scarves, one infinity scarf and one cowl. I'll be introducing you to them over the coming posts, but first up is Ridgeview Infinity Scarf.

Ridgeview starts with a crochet cast on and is knitted around in one giant circle with balanced sections of Estonian star stitch with an interesting slipped rib variation that gives the scarf alternating body and drape. I used Brooks Farm Surrey, a 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool, and the color is just amazing. I love how the star stitch is highlighted by the flashes of undyed white yarn.

Ridgeview Infinity Scarf is matched with the Ridgeview Cowl, a smaller version that will be knitted up much faster. Both will be available in a couple weeks. I'm very excited by them both and I hope that you'll enjoy them, too.

I'll release the Ridgeview duo as individual patterns and as part of the e-book that will include the two other patterns. More on them.... later!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Mountain

I don't generally complain. Much. Well, not about me/my life. I do complain about other people sometimes (a lot). But I find that people don't really care all that much if you complain too much. Griping and complaining and moaning and whinging about all the minutiae of every day life won't win many fans. But that's my personal opinion, you can take it or leave it. I have some friends that make only complain all the time and I still like them.

Why such a downer of a post opening? Because that's just how cool I am. Also, because of "my mountain." Recently I entered a hat design contest and part of the contest included telling about "my mountain" - something that I overcame or fought against in my life. Just as no one really likes a whiner, no one likes that person that's all "my life is amazing/perfect/no problems." And my life isn't like that anyway. But when I do think about the problems in my life and compare to the problems in the life of someone fighting cancer or domestic abuse or, heck, chemical warfare, my problems are absolutely nothing.

That didn't stop me from entering the contest. And my "problem" - trying to get the hang of designing patterns - didn't stop the yarn company from selecting one of my hats as a semi-finalist! O!M!G! in all capital letters with exclamation points.

Presenting: White Lightning

White Lightning, named after a ski run somewhere in WV that I found by searching Google (because I'm a terrible skier), is made using one skein of Schachenmayr Bravo Big in granite and one skein Schachenmayr Boston in neon yellow. And a massive pompom. The entire hat, start to finish, probably took all of 3 hours to knit. It's 40 stitches on size US #13 needles. Those are some massive needles. And I'll tell ya, the Clover pompom maker is brilliant and easy to use.

I've worn the hat a few times around my apartment but it really is still summer and much too hot for that much hat. I'd love to wear it this winter, huge pompom and all, but unfortunately (ha!), I have to mail it off to the yarn company that sponsored the contest. Oh darn. Poor me. Someone professional wants my hat. (See, another "problem"!)

From now through September 23, there are 18 hat (out of 215 submissions) that you, my wonderful and beautiful and smart and talented friends can vote for on Facebook. (Links here: and, if you're on a mobile device, here: Hopefully you'll vote for my hat. I hope you do. I would very much love to win a contest like this. But, and I know it's totally cliché, it really is an honor being nominated!

I was able to knit a second hat using both yarns, though I didn't have enough left over for a pompom. I used a different pattern with a little bit of stranding and slipped stitches, though not quite as much as White Lightning. I think I'll whip up that pattern and throw it up on the blog so you, dearest knitters, can knit it if you'd like.

I don't normally knit with acrylic yarns but these two were very enjoyable. Bravo Big is... well... big. And it's got a good feel to it, not squeaky like other acrylics I've used. And I could not resist the neon that was offered in Boston. It's also an acrylic that isn't squeaky and a joy to knit. If I were using Boston by itself in a project, I'd probably consider knitting it a bit tighter. It has many plies and they do separate a bit in sections where the yarn is allowed to drape. And the pompom almost immediately started to fray into small plies of yarn gathered together. In the pompom it looks even more crazy and amazing. 

I'm not going to complain about a crazy awesome pompom!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Win a Hat!

Do you need a new hat for winter? Do you love neon yellow and dark gray? The correct answer to both questions is "Yes, please! How do I win?"

Let me know in the comments that you want to win the hat. Or, tweet at me @RodeoKnits.

I'm calling it White Lightning after a ski run at Timberline in Davis. I don't ski. I've tried skiing. It was a terrible mistake and I spent way too much time non-upright on skis so I finally just gave up and sat in the lodge. The lodge is my favorite part of skiing.

If anyone wants to go skiing this winter and wants someone to hang out in the lodge by the fire, drink hot cocoa, and watch all your stuff while you're shredding the hills (that's a thing, right), let me know! I always have a good book or knitting to take with me. And as quick as this hat was to knit, I could probably finish one before you make it back down the mountain the first time.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Hat Knitting

Doesn't it make total sense to knit a hat on a Saturday in August? I mean, of course!

The best thing about my new hat is I finished it in about 4 hours of very interrupted knitting time, probably 2 hours all put together. Tops. Yes, it's a bulky yarn but I love it. I know you want to see it.

But first things first . . . 

I've been putting in more time on the designing/submitting knitting patterns thing, which has taken a lot of free time. Oh, and reading. But knitting: swatching and sketching (I'm a terrible sketcher) and re-swatching takes a lot of time. Lots of ideas and then trashing those ideas and then pulling those ideas back out again. It seems I might be a little indecisive but that's my current process.

On the "submitting" front, I'll have some super-super-OMG-wowwowwow exciting news to announce in the future. I'm not sure when, but it's coming. And it's not one of those "I think I'll be able to say something exciting soon but I don't know" kind of exciting news. It's legit. 2Legit2Quit.

So I somehow stumbled across Schachenmayr yarn line called My Mountain. It's a fun, bright line of yarns, a lot of bulky and chunky yarns. Neon! Admittedly, I don't generally use yarns with a heavy acrylic content so it's something I probably wouldn't have looked at right away. I'd have missed out. They're running a design contest - knit a hat - and you can find the details on their Facebook page. So I entered.

I emailed a request for yarn last week and the yarn arrived yesterday. One skein Bravo Big in Granite Graphite and one skein Boston in Neon Yellow. It's definitely neon. And yellow. Pictures don't quite do it justice. Cast on with big needles, knit a few rows ribbing, then switch to pattern stitches. Knit a lot of the hat. Then hate it and pull it out and restart. Love the second iteration of the pattern. Add a massive pompom because, well, because neon yellow and gray pompoms are awesome.

I haven't snapped a photo of the finished hat yet. I want to try to figure out how to make it look like I'm in the middle of the Alps or at least it's winter and not August in North America (so - hot) and I think I'll have to use my television as some kind of green screen. That's genius at work.

Sneak peek - gigantic pompom!

On the reading front, I've got a good start on Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. It's a great mixture of nerd-dom, Russian mafia, spies, money and intrigue. I enjoy it so much. I always like books that I can almost immediately pin down who I else I think would enjoy it and this one goes to an IT guy at work - great taste in books and just the right level of nerdity.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Provisional Cast On - Crochet

Happy Monday, knitters and knitter-wannabes!

Last week was one of the hottest on record (and, in other news, I definitely exaggerate when it comes to hot weather) and I had a week off from work. It was ........


I slept in and took naps. I went out to lunch. I enjoyed coffee in restaurants I never go to during the day because I'm usually in an office. I watched movies and read books. Oh, did I read books. Only three books, but it was great.

Side note, I recommend Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel. Fantastic story.

I knitted a little; not as much as I'd like, but a little. I started a pair of socks using two skeins of Miss Bab's aptly named Yummy 2-ply fingering weight yarn, one in Coast (blue) and the other in Coral (self-explanatory). I used a short row toe and then one-row stripes alternating each color. In one week, I got past the short row heel and I'm working on the leg. So.... that's a thing.

I don't know about you but I find that I'll pick up a new technique and I notice it starts to show up more often in my projects. Right now it's a provisional cast on. Four projects in The Vandalia Collection (also available in print on MagCloud here) use provisional cast on.

A provisional cast on is temporary. When it's removed, live stitches are available to knit again in another direction. In the cases of Clendenin and Truslow, the live stitches are used in a three needle bind off.

My favorite provisional cast on is a crochet cast on. (I never realized how many times I'd have to type "cast on.") At first it's awkward, especially, I've found, for knitters that aren't familiar with crochet but it definitely pays off. Bonus, if you use your working yarn for the cast on instead of scrap yarn, it mirrors exactly a traditional bind off.

I've been teaching the crochet cast on a few times - friends and in classes. I decided I'd try to make a video and see if that helps, too. It's not a great video. I used the camera on my iPad and some video editor that came included with my computer. Oh, and cheesy royalty-free music I downloaded.

I hope you like it!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Knitting With: Linen

Quince and Co. Sparrow
before washing/blocking
How about another "series" of topics? I use quotation marks because, historically, my series have mostly been one-offs. But I think I like this one.

I'm very much a knit-with-wool kinda guy. I generally even stay away from superwash wools. It's not because they're not good enough; lots of superwash wools are great. I think I've convinced myself that I can feel a difference in "regular" and superwash. I'm sure it's all in my head.

Recently, I've started swatching with non-wool yarns. No, don't even think about it. Still nothing "novelty." No fun furs or glitter-tastic or pom poms hanging off the strands. (If my project has beads, I've added each one individually myself. Sadistic.)

A few days ago, I cast on with Sparrow from Quince and Company, a sport weight 100% linen yarn. I don't hate it. Actually, I've enjoyed it. Granted, the swatch I'm working is mainly stockinette with only a stripe and a little texture change. I'm using US 4/3.5mm Addi Natura needles and the only problem I've had is in the purl row when I come to a place where I knit-yarn-over-knit in one stitch. The yarn over is a bit tight.

One bonus, when the needle slips out of my stitches, nothing runs. It's almost as if the stitches have been blocked or formed around the needle and they like to stay there. I can just slide the needle back into the stitches and keep on knitting.

Quince and Co. Sparrow
after washing and drying
The colors in Sparrow -- I purchased Little Fern, Paprika and Fen -- are very clear and consistent. The Paprika is different for me, and I think it might skew a little autumnal, but it's a refreshing stripe against the Little Fern. I think the Fen would have been a safer choice for striping but not as interesting.

On the US 4/3.5mm needles, my gauge was 23 stitches in 5 inches. After washing and drying, the gauge tightened up a little bit to 26 stitches in 5 inches.

Care couldn't be easier - I tossed the swatch in the washing machine with my dress shirts (in hindsight, I shouldn't have done that in case the Paprika decided to run but it all worked out fine) and then just into the dryer. I don't dry my dress shirts completely in the machine so the swatch was slightly damp when I pulled it out. The texture change was incredible.

While knitting and prior to washing, the linen has a very crisp feel. It doesn't have a nice easy drape and even feels slightly rough. After washing and drying, the texture is smooth and soft and the stitches evened out. I think you can see the difference in the two swatches pictured. Of course, you can't feel the difference, so you'll have to take my word for it. But you'll notice that the washed fabric has nice easy folds, hinting at the drape in an over-sized garment that would be perfect for spring and summer.

Have you used linen yarns? What kind of finished project would you like to see?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Vandalia Collection, in print

For the first time, I'm offering The Vandalia Collection in print! I know, I know, that sounds like I'm being exclusive and it's never been offered before. That's really just because it's so new and I'm finally pulling the trigger on the "book."

I'm using a service called MagCloud by HP. It allows print-on-demand. I can upload files, share the link and you, my dear friends and readers, can order your own copy or copies and they will be mailed directly to you. I'm new to supply side and, right now, this is my supply chain for providing print copies.

The Vandalia Collection is first and I'll be working on adding more individual patterns.

Of course, you can still get the patterns, even the whole e-book, on Ravelry.

I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback and seeing finished projects!

The Vandalia CollectionA collection of seven knitting patterns for scarves, shawl, cowl and lace poncho.

Mountaineer By Choice

The Knitter and his younger brother
In June 1989, my family packed up and moved from northeast Pennsylvania to West Virginia. I was 24 years younger than I am today -- I don't do that kind of math anymore -- and, to be perfectly honest, completely unhappy about moving to a new state, new town, new school.

To my parents' credit, they did everything they could to help me adjust to new things. Not quite a teenager (we didn't have things such as "tween" back then) is a terrible age for change. That first summer, my family was very close. Mom bought a season pass to the wave pool and I feel like we spent almost every day at the pool. We went to movies -- wasn't that the year of "The Little Mermaid"? -- and started making new friends.

The Knitter goes camping (with a big
camera case on his hip)
Fast forward through the rest of middle school and high school. Does anyone really like those years? I mean, I guess someone does or they wouldn't happen. It's a conspiracy. Many of my best memories was exploring West Virginia. Our family spent a lot of time traveling around the state, up through the New River Gorge to Summersville Lake, down to McDowell County, Lewisburg, Fairmont, Seneca Rocks. And making friends all along the way.

This year, if you're from West Virginia, you can't escape the Sesquicentennial (isn't that a great word?) -- 150 year anniversary of becoming a state -- and every writer, journalist, blogger, author, celebrity tenuously linked to West Virginia is waxing poetic about the grandeur of the state and how amazing it is to live here. (If I hear about how amazing pepperoni rolls are one more time, I'm going to go off the deep end. It's just a dang piece of dough wrapped around some Italian cold cuts. There isn't even any cheese.) And I agree with a lot of what they say. The people are the friendliest, the mountains and the hollows are so picturesque, the rivers and streams, the arts, crafts and music.

The Knitter and his mother on
a graduation trip to NYC
But for me, it's where I really grew into myself. I learned how to be an adult, a functioning and productive member of society. I've made lifelong friends. I fought with my family and have had the strongest relationship with my family as ever. My brother married a girl from north-central WV and now has two great kids, my nephew and niece.

I'm an adult now and have been for a couple years at least. I've thought many times about moving away from West Virginia. Columbus, Ohio or Michigan were front runners at different times. But I'm still here. I love the small town feel of the state's biggest city. I love how easy it is for me to get to work in the morning - two miles in five minutes. I like that I'll be able to go to a world movie premiere (not a joke) on Sunday and probably run into 10 or 15 people I know.

One time, several years ago, my mother and I had a conversation about the decision to move from Pennsylvania and if I regretted it. Without hesitation, absolutely not. I'm not one of those "live without regrets" kind of people. I think everyone has regrets, that's part of life. But I can't regret a move to West Virginia. I think it's partially shaped me into the fairly, mostly (sort of) well-adjusted adult I am today.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Brawley - a knitting class

Brawley, three skeins Plymouth Royal Llama Silk
One of my favorite things about knitting is how it's lead me to being a teacher. I really do love helping knitters advance and become more confident in their craft (or art, depends on your viewpoint). Each time I teach a class, I look for ways to pass along tips and tricks I've learned in my knitting career.

I also really like learning that a word has a more perfect meaning, like "career." For a long time, I thought "career" was a perfect synonym to "job" -- interchangeable. But the definition for "career" is so much more.

ca·reer /kəˈri(ə)r/ -- noun: An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.

I've been knitting, an associated with other yarn crafts, for a very long time -- more than significant -- and there is always opportunities for progress. And knitting has been something that I feel I've progressed and improved. It's made me more confident (okay, only about knitting) and I have definitely made some great friends, people I can count on as collaborators.

Brawley, three skeins Berocco Blackstone Tweed
Coming up next Saturday, June 22, I'll be teaching Brawley, a three-color scarf. It's three sessions (three Saturdays in a row) from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm. Normally, a scarf class is one session. When you knit a scarf, you generally need some direction getting started. Maybe it's a new technique or stitch pattern. It might be a trick with how to work with the yarn. Brawley is a little different.

Although the stitch pattern is the easiest combination of knit and purl, the beginning and ending are different from the majority of scarf patterns. Not hard, just different. I'd love to see a lot of new knitters in the class. Contact Sarah at Kanawha City Yarn Company to register and get a list of supplies.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cash and Bel Canto

An interesting thing happens when I give something away for free -- it almost hurts. I mean, not physically or even mentally. It hurts that I feel bad about giving. As you know, because you've read my previous posts or you and I have had the conversation in person, I'm experimenting with "pay if you want" for my current patterns for sale on Ravelry. Well, it's more of a barter system: you give me something in exchange for a knitting pattern. So far, two knitters have taken advantage of the system. And I'm thrilled.

But the human in me (yes, I'm human) has the gut reaction "oh crap, that was a missed sale." But was it? Kim and Teri -- thanks, ladies! -- both chose Market Shawl. I love that pattern; it's simple and looks great in a wide variety of yarns. Would they have spent money if I hadn't offered it for free or would they have just gone on to some other free pattern? I'm going to assume this is the only way the pattern would make it into their libraries.

So I've decided another benefit of the "pay if you want" experiment is that I get to grow as a person. Ugh. Growth.

Because I don't want to be the only person to benefit from the recommendations in exchange for knitting patterns, I'll post here what is given to me. Interestingly, both are music - one a song and the other a book about a soprano.

From Kim, the suggestion of the song "It Ain't Me, Babe" by Johnny Cash and June Carter, the anti-stand-by-your-man song. Thanks, Kim!

And from Teri, the suggestion of the book "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. I haven't read anything by Patchett but from the description -- a soprano, a terrorist, a South American country, and an assassination plot -- it sounds amazing. I'm adding it to my to-read list immediately. You can click on the image of the book to read more about it yourself. Thanks, Teri!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


No autographs, please! Put your flashbulb camera away. (Do people still use flashbulbs? Is that a thing? Am I saying it right?)

I recently spent a fun hour or two with local reporter and writer-extraordinaire Monica Orosz with Charleston Daily Mail and we talked about my knitting, where/how I learned, what my projects and designing ideas and processes are and where I'd like to see everything go. Yesterday, a wonderfully written article was published in the Daily Mail and, I gotta be honest, I'd kinda like to meet and knit with that guy from the article. He sounds like a heck of a lot of fun.

I'm definitely hiring Monica to write my biography if that's ever needed. (Monica, you have my permission to take all the poetic license you wish.)

I wasn't sure I'd like the attention (one very astute coworker theorized that, really, I probably don't want to be perceived as liking the attention), but it really wasn't bad. Of course, some good-natured teasing but also fun to hear from family and friends I don't get to talk to that often. Most people didn't know I had been interviewed, so that was also a fun surprise.

The article also started some brief convos with current non-knitters (I call 'em My Future Knitters of the World - FKOW, for short, which is also the sound Calvin & Hobbes would use to decimate aliens with a transmogrifacation ray) about learning to knit. So I'm working on a super simple, mega-beginner, ultra-easy pair of fingerless mitts: knit flat, one seam. I'll call the mitts something like "Journalist Mitts" or "What's counting?" I've whipped up one mitt already. It's a long version and I'll also write a short version.

They're green.

One pair will use less than 150 yards of worsted weight yarn, a pair of US #8 needles and a darning needle. Even a beginner could knit a pair in under 3 hours. Or at least, that's the goal.

Now I've just got to get Lauren, Lynette, Ann, Whitney and Andrea together for a big learn-to-knit class. Go pick out your color here, ladies!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Celebrity Knitting

There seems to be a lot of "oh my gosh how awesome" any time a celebrity admits to grabbing sticks and string and finding inner peace through knitting. I mean, I love that knitting can grab headlines and if it takes celebrity to do it, so be it.

For me, though, I want to become a celebrity through knitting. Or, barring that, meet a celebrity. Y'know, become best friends, trade book suggestions (I think lately, I just want suggestions - I haven't ready much lately), go to dinner, share wine, etc. All the things we all want to do with famous people. (I promise I won't take any cell phone pictures.)

Master plan: knit something for a celebrity, they love it, we strike up an intellectual conversation, we become friends, I knit more things for them, happily ever after, yada yada yada.

Who would I knit for? And what would they get? Partial list begins...

Now . . . . . . .

James Franco: I was listening to a recent interview with James Franco (I wonder if I'll call him James or Mr. Franco when we're friends) on The Dinner Party Download and he was talking about artists and such. I think he'd be the type that would appreciate a handmade wearable work of art. I bet Mr. Franco could even rock a manly version of a lace scarf. I  mean, that's a Gucci scarf in the picture and, no offense to the Gucci, it's not that interesting. Anyone in bright blue sunglasses should pop on some more color.
What I'd knit: lightweight monochromatic striped scarf

Alia Shawkat: It might be because I just finished binge-watching all of "Arrested Development" and Maebe Fünke is my favorite character and I just hated how poorly she was treated by everyone, but she definitely needs something knitted for her. Plus, I just think Alia would be fun to hang out with and would instantly raise my street cred with hipsters and comedy nerds. And I'm sure she knows all the coolest new bands before they even get together in a garage somewhere. I'm not sure I could keep up with partying, though, so I could be cool designated driver. I always have just-in-case knitting in the car with me.

What I'd knit: super comfy cabled sweatshirt-type sweater

Tatiana Maslany: Starring (multiple times) in one of the best television shows I've seen in a long time, Jordan Gavaris would rock an awesome scarf, I'm sure).
"Orphan Black", Tatiana is amazing. I watch every episode half-loving the tight script and crazy twists and half-fascinated with the acting talent, accents, costume changes - it's all perfect. Ms. Maslany is so awesome/cool and would be another celeb that probably knows all the best new bands or books the cool kids are enjoying before the cool kids even know about it. (And if Tatiana doesn't want a handknit thing, her costar

What I'd knit: funky cool lace and cables beret or slouchy hat

That's the list so far. Or mainly, just celebs I think are neat and doing neat things. ("Neat" is a little lame, but that fits with me.) If you know how to get in touch with any of these celebs, or one of you famous people reads this and wants something knitted, just get at me: email or Twitter. I can't promise I won't tell anyone about it but I don't really know anyone so.... it's basically like a secret.

Who would you knit for? And what would you knit?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holiday Weekend

Guess what I did this weekend. Yes, I almost overdosed on a marathon of "Arrested Development." Except I didn't watch the much-anticipated new season on Netflix because I, ashamedly, had never seen any of the series. I started at the beginning and made it through the middle of Season Three by the time the holiday weekend ended. It's very funny and I approve. The family is terrible. I wonder what it says about me that most of the shows I like to watch are about terrible people/families. Oh well.

I also worked on the collection of knitting patterns called "The Vandalia Collection." They're all available online on Ravelry or on the blog page here. Making a foray (is that a word?) into long-format desktop publishing, I am combining all of the patterns into one book. It's 36 pages long and I've ordered one copy. (I know - one copy? Crazy!) I want to see what it's like before I think about ordering more. If anything, it's a good experiment to see how I like to see my name in print.

Speaking of "in print", watch for a special announcement on Friday this week. (Rodeo Knits may have been seen speaking with a certain newspaper reporter.)

What are you knitting? I've got another Brawley on the needles with a new yarn from Quince & Co. called Owl. I like the yarn a bunch. It's soft and easy to knit; the colors are muted but current. Big fan.

I'm also using square needles from Kollage. They're - uh - needles. At this size, US 9, they're a little odd. I feel like the squared off edges are like speed bumps. I've used smaller needles, US 4, and they were a lot easier to use. I think I'll probably stick with my regular round needles. Next, I want to try Karbonz by Knitters Pride.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Follow Up: Pay If You Want

"I believe my knitting pattern has value and worth. I believe that you will enjoy knitting this pattern so much that I'm willing to give it to you to prove it."