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?