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

18 Days In and 2016 Is Already a Big Year

I'm calling it now. 2016 is the Year of Steven. Any Steven. If your name is Steven, you're golden. (I might be tempted to allow "Stephen", too, but c'mon, you already get a "ph" so get your own year.)

I started 2016 in Las Vegas. I know. Crazy. It's not really the kind of city you think of when you think of me (if you think of me). I'm much more quiet beachside town, maybe on the coast of Maine or England. Actually, quiet beachside town in Maine is one of my goals. That's another story.

Las Vegas is big and bright and overwhelming and lots of brown and tan and .... I'm stopping there. If you give me a glass of wine or a beer, I'll definitely go into what I think of Las Vegas. But there was one major awesome thing in Las Vegas: Sin City Knit Shop. Oh man, that place is awesome. The owner, Debbi, was so welcoming and friendly. And excited to have a "designer" in her shop. (I use quotation marks because that's something I'm working on this year: seeing myself as a real designer.)

I picked up some great yarns there, but of course, no pictures. It's in a bag somewhere in my apartment. I'm such a bad knitter that I buy yarn I love and then stash it away and forget about it. Debbie surprised me on our 3rd trip (yes, we went to the yarn store three times at least, maybe more) with a request to design something for her store for a project they're putting together. I came home with some really amazing yarn from Downtown DyeWorks, a Las Vegas local dyer. It's dark and mysterious with a little sparkle of gold. Very different from what I usually knit with but, hey, you do you, Steven.

I received a very exciting email while I was sitting at a coffee shop in Las Vegas in response to a contest I entered. Hopefully I'll be able to give you even more exciting news about it shortly. I used a new product and designed a project and I'm one of 10 finalists for the grand prize. It was a really interesting design challenge and I enjoyed the process. I'll post about it when I hear the final results (even if I'm not the winner!).

Since 2016 is still so young, I feel like I still have time to set goals for the year. (You're welcome to give me a swift kick in the butt if I still feel like that in May.) I do have some things I'd like to try, though, some superficial goals:
  • I want to submit more designs to third-party publishers -- magazines, books, yarn companies, etc. I have to start believing in myself more and just rip that band aid off. The answer will always be no if I don't ask the question. 
  • I want to take my design life more seriously as a job. I want to set up my home studio to be more conducive to being productive and working. I already cancelled cable television so there really is no excuse to not use my office. (The old excuse being "I can't watch television in there.") I can watch YouTube and Netflix anywhere.
  • I want to meet new people and make new connections. I want this to be in person or online. I want to use Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Ello (you should try it, it's awesome) to make new friends and collaborate with people.
  • I want to do something to give back, or pay it forward, or something like that. Charity. I'm not sure if this is a big project I put together to collect knitwear or money or what. I'm still thinking about it.
That's it. Four things. I think that's a good basic broad list of ideas. Now I should sit down and make actual goals.

I'll do that tomorrow. Right now, I want to keep knitting this new hat.