Friday, December 18, 2015

What's In a Name?

A collection of Rodeo Knits finished projects
Today I grabbed a hat a recently finished and a favorite scarf on my way to work. The temperature finally dropped below 40° and forecasted to stay there. You don't know how long I've been waiting! It's the end of December and I should have been wearing hats and scarves already!

This new hat... oh, you're going to love it. I used Miss Babs' Kunlun DK in Coos Bay, an awesome light gray/blue color and it shines. It's all knits and purls, with some twisted knit stitches for textural contrast. The silk content in Kunlun DK makes the twisted stitches pop even more because they catch the light differently.

But the biggest problem is what the heck do I call it? Everything has to have a name!

Names are super important. You have a name, I have a name. I have several names really, depending who I'm talking to. Fortunately, I haven't had to name anything as important as a pet. Or a kid. I mean, that's forever and they might resent you later. Especially the kid. A knitting pattern is a little easier to name but for me, still super complicated.

I guess I could call it "DK Weight Hat With Knits, Twisted Knits and Purls" but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Several years ago when I decided I'd get more serious with designing, one of my favorite knitters suggested a series of names that I've since expanded on and adopted for all of my patterns. If you look back through my catalog, you can almost pinpoint exactly when it started and when something is designed by me but published by a third party (they don't follow the same "rules).

So for most of my patterns, the naming goes like this:
  • Scarves/cowls/shawls/miscellaneous neckwear accessories: West Virginia streets and city districts
  • Hats: West Virginia state and national parks
  • Sweaters: West Virginia rivers and lakes
  • Other knitwear: randomly West Virginia related name

Do you see a theme? I officially adopted West Virginia as my home state when I finally decided I'd probably live here for a long time. The size and speed is just right for me. Culture could use some work but if you abandon everywhere for a bad culture without working to change it from the inside, you'll never settle anywhere.

So the new hat will definitely be something state or national park related. It may be a feature in the park, a peak or lodge or ski run. It's also a way to share West Virginia with knitters from around the world.

On a side note, after I decided to take this type of naming convention, I learned that one of my favorite retailers does the same thing! Check out all about IKEA's names in this post on Buzzfeed. (Also, I love gifs of people showing emotion. They make me happy!)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Finishing Is the Worst!

Action shot: weaving in ends
(Knitter needs a manicure)

I was fortunate to get a vacation last May in Napa Valley, California and visited a great little yarn shop, Yarns on First. Such a friendly and fancy store with an amazing yarn selection. One thing I love about vacations is finding a yarn store and seeing what kinds of yarns and products are popular in different parts of the country/world.

Also, I always look to see if any of my patterns are in the store, or any of the books I'm in are in the store. I don't know what I expect the store owner to do, though. I guess I'm still a little weirdo.

I didn't see any of my patterns/books in Yarns on First, but that doesn't stop me from buying yarn. I bought some wool blend that was local to the area. I love local yarns. A couple skeins of Shibui Knits yarns also found their way home with me

Luckily, I wasn't the only person buying yarn. A friend went shopping with me, yarn enabling friends are the best, and she bought a couple skeins of yarn (one ITO Kinu and two ITO Sensai) and a pattern (Unemizo Capelet). Actually, she doesn't knit so I said I'd knit it for her if she bought the supplies. Win-win!

You know I'm a bad blogger when I don't have before/after pictures of the yarn. Let me just say - I hadn't worked with yarns like those much, a silk noil and a silk/mohair blend and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The pattern calls for a larger needle than you'd generally use with either of those yarns as they're both very light, but the resulting drape is amazing. It weighs next to nothing and is so soft.

I almost didn't deliver the finished project. The silk/silk/mohair blend is awesome. I wanted it for myself. Nevermind that I'd never be able to wear it like it was intended. As a cowl, perfection. But no, that's now why it languished on my coffee table for so long after I finished knitting.

Knitting is the most fun part. Then comes the finishing. I guess there are some people who say they like it. I don't like it. They say it's part of seeing it come together, the whole process, they lovingly play with the seams in their finished sweaters or show off how delicately they darn the ends in. I just want to be DONE.

Lies! A picture exists of Rodeo Knits wearing
Unemizo Capelet!
It took a couple weeks of not-full-time knitting to finish the capelet. It took several months to get all ends tucked away. But I finally finished and gave it back a couple weeks ago. Again, no pictures. Sorry. (Except sometimes the knitter, like gauge, lies.)

I knew the time was coming -- by "the time" I mean "winter" -- and the capelet could be put to good use so I buckled down and finished tucking away ends. It really took about 20 minutes. Here's a secret: if the yarn is fuzzy and light weight gauge, don't worry so much about how tidy you are at weaving in the ends. Tie a few neat little knots, trim up the ends and fluff it a bit. Of course, any knitter will be able to find the ends, but chances are you're gifting to someone who isn't a knitter and THEY'LL NEVER KNOW!

Don't tell anyone I cheat.

Sometimes I don't even weave in the ends at the top of a hat. I tuck the ends inside, tie a knot and trim it up. As long as they're not long enough to fall out of the hat when I'm wearing it, what do I care?

On a side note: this trip to Napa Valley also gave birth to another infinity scarf/cowl pattern that I released this summer called Beazley. In my own (not very) humble opinion, it's a great option for anyone who deserves a warm neck. The one I worked on used two skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. I've got another on the needles with Stonehedge Fiber Mill Crazy that I snagged from Fresh Stitches. It's a bit of a "luck of the draw" kind of thing picking the yarn out but I'm very pleased with my selections and I hope to have a finished project to show off shortly.