Friday, June 29, 2012

Silver Linings

Well, I heard back from Knit Picks and unfortunately my design was not accepted. They had over 400 submissions and could only choose a few, so competition was pretty fierce. I'm a little disappointed but not too much because there's a call for submissions for Knitscene magazine that I think my design would be perfect for. Here's the description for one of their themes:

"Drawstrings, I-cords, laces, and all kinds of ties. Cinch a neckline, cuff, or waistline. Lace up a
corset-style vest or a shaping vent in a skirt, fitted tee, or the back of a knee-high stocking. Knit the
cords or use ribbons, braids, etc. Overall look is feminine, sweet, but with some mystique, some
edginess. Think about layering items--hoodies, cover-ups--as well as pullovers and accessories."

Some magazines/publishers create mood boards to describe what they're looking for, others write out themes. This theme happens to exactly match what I designed, so I'm hopeful. We shall see!

Additionally, I finished my Comforting Alpaca hat:
Catalina Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky
The Fiasco already claimed this one for himself, which is appropriate since he does look rather dashing in it.
His patented "sexy eyes" look. Hands off, ladies! ;)
I guess I'll just have to knit another for myself! I like how this pattern knit up in the bulky alpaca, very soft and warm. Also, I kind of think Hawaiian shirts and woolly hats should be a new fashion trend. :) Somebody else on Ravelry already knitted up their own Giving Comfort hat, which just warms my knitterly soul. She used two strands of worsted weight yarn held double for her hat because she didn't have any bulky yarn and it turned out great. I love seeing projects made from my patterns!

This weekend I'm heading off to visit family. I haven't been home in over 6 months, so it will be nice to see everybody. I think I'll bring my Color Affection shawl for take-along-knitting, it's great for travel because the rows are long and easy. I'm looking forward to making some progress. I also need to bring my spindles since nobody at home has seen me spin yet! Hope you all have lovely weekends!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #1

Seeing as it is indeed Wednesday and I (always) have a ton of WIPs, I thought I'd play along with the other blogs listed on Tami's Amis WIP Wednesday  and tell you all about what I'm working on. In order to not overload my blog with every WIP I have (I don't think I can even count them all, if we're being honest), I'll just list the ones I've at least physically touched in the last week or so.

Comforting Alpaca:
Catalina Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky
I just started this version of my Giving Comfort hat pattern yesterday. Since I sent the originals off for the Afghans for Afghans project, I wanted to make another sample. This time I'm using a 100% alpaca yarn and wow is it soft! Merino wool is crazy soft, but not in the same way alpaca is. It produces such a different fabric: denser, with more drape. I'm interested to see how the hat will turn out when it's done. It's been a while since I've knit with anything other than wool, so it's been a nice change.

Color Affection:
The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga
My Color Affection shawl is chugging along. The short rows still feel like they are moving along quickly, which is really nice. It's easy to see how this design went viral. The pattern is a bit sparsely written, but the design is fairly simple and the results are striking. I'm loving the addition of the third colorway, too.

Lillypad Socks:
The Verdant Gryphon Bugga, colorway Yellow Fringe Doris
This is my soon-to-be-next sock design. Please excuse its rather tattered look at the moment, I promise it will be pretty. :) Frogging happens! I didn't like what was going on with the heel, so it had to go. I unfortunately had to run somewhere after ripping back and haven't had a chance to get everything back on track again yet. No worries, all in good time.

Super Secret Swatch:
Malabrigo Yarns Chunky, colorway Mariposa
I was struck with inspiration for a new design and swatched and frogged and re-swatched like a fiend yesterday after work. I submitted a pattern proposal to Malabrigo Yarns for their Malabrigo Quickies series where they team up with an independent designer and promote a new pattern every two weeks or so. I heard back already: they're all booked up with designs until the end of the year and will begin thinking about designs to be released next year soon, so they'll get back to me next month or so. I'm super excited that I heard back already and that they are willing to consider my pattern idea later on, but I fear the suspense might kill me, haha. Not really, but you know. I've never been great at keeping the cat in the bag when it comes to things I'm excited about, and I'm pretty excited about this design.

I'm also counting down the days until the end of June when I will (hopefully!) hear back about my Knit Picks pattern submission. Is it weird that I get such a rush out of this whole thing, the submitting and the waiting and the hoping? I wonder if that changes as you publish more designs?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Giving Comfort

Remember these hats I knit to donate to the Afghans for Afghans project via Cephalopod Yarns?

Malabrigo Yarns Chunky, colorways Mariposa and Bobby Blue
Well, I decided to write up the pattern and offer it for free for anybody in need of some last-minute donation inspiration. If you still intend to send some knits to Cephalopod Yarns, remember their deadline is June 30th. The hats are knit with bulky weight yarn on size 10 (6.0mm) needles so they work up in a flash. I knit both of those hats within three days. The pattern includes three sizes: small (child-teenager), medium (average adult), and large (larger adult) and the resulting fabric is nice and stretchy so there is plenty of leeway in sizing. The stitch pattern is simple and the purl ridges provide a nice textural interest. The crown of the hat is shaped so that it is nicely rounded, not pointy as can sometimes happen. I hope you enjoy, and I'd love to see pictures of any hats you make with it!

Giving Comfort

In other news, Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne over at Mason-Dixon Knitting are starting a campaign to supply Stephen Colbert with a lifetime supply of knitted socks if he covers the Ravelympics controversy on his show. How crazy would that be? You can read the blog post about their scheme over here and join the Ravelry group here, if you're interested. I haven't signed up, myself, since man-sized socks are not my favorite thing to knit but I do think it is a hilarious idea.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Punch in the Soul

I just saw Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World last night and it was, in short, amazing.

Photo from here.
Steve Carrell's and Kiera Knightley's characters are neighbors in an apartment building that never interacted until they find out that an asteroid is heading to destroy the planet in three weeks. Three weeks until the end of the world... what would you do? I thought it was done very well, I could see events unfolding much like they were depicted. It has that indie/quirky feel to it where subtle things matter a lot, so if you don't like that in your movies you might want to avoid this one. And it's much more serious than it seemed from the previews. The movie is quite like a punch in the soul. I'm talking weeping here, at least on my end. There are funny parts, for sure, but if you're having a vulnerable day it's going to affect you, and that's probably a good thing. It's one of those perspective-giving stories, motivating you to say and do the Important Things now and stop putting them off. And for goodness' sake, do not go and see this movie alone. I'm all for going to the movies solo, not a problem with that in general, but not for this one. You'll want someone there to talk about it with, just someone by your side. In my opinion, any movie that makes me feel so much earns the description of fantastic, and this one is. It's intense, but definitely fantastic. It also features a couple of nice crocheted and knitted blankets.

Crocheted blanket.
 I can't find a photo of the knitted one but it looked something like a log cabin blanket. It made me really want to make a knitted blanket myself, which is (of course) perfect for the middle of the summer! (Not so much.)

I'm a bit of a movie junkie, before I knitted my biggest hobby-related-expense was my collection of DVDs. Here's my list of top 15 could-watch-over-and-over-forever movies:

1. Finding Neverland: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Peter Pan, brilliant scenes, imagination, cute kids? Made for me.
2. Dead Poets Society: Robin Williams + poetry + touching story = awesome.
3. The Fall: Lee Pace is amazing, the story is inventive, and the cinematography is stunning.
4. Dogma: Kevin Smith and company totally rule.
5. A Knight's Tale: I have such a thing for Chaucer (Paul Bettany) in this movie.
6. Hook: Robin Williams (again) and Peter Pan (again) and Julia Roberts!
7. Little Miss Sunshine: Such a feel-good story.
8. Notting Hill: Julia Roberts (again) and Hugh Grant and quirky British-ness. Love.
9. I Love You, Man: I love Jason Segel and Paul Rudd too much not to include this one.
10. Beauty and the Beast: Representing Disney animated films in this line-up because it wouldn't be complete without one.
11. Pride & Prejudice: That moment at the end when Darcy strides across the field? Yeah.
12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Serious Jim Carrey really works sometimes. I also love Kate Winslet.
13. Stranger Than Fiction: I'm down with Serious Will Ferrel, too. And Emma Thompson is great.
14. Benny & Joon: Sweet little movie featuring Johnny Depp at perhaps his most adorable.
15. Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp at his most swashbuckling (duh).

I really had to try hard to stop myself at 15. It was just going to be a list of 3, then 5, then 10... There are definitely some recurring themes, the same actors and actresses tend to pop up. They really make or break a movie for me. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World might end up on this list someday, I'll have to watch it a couple more times first, to be sure. What are your favorite movies, the ones that make your desert island list?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Still Alive!

I have so many blog posts to catch up on, but I survived my last week of field sampling, yay! No more boat for me. While it was a fun experience and I enjoyed getting to knit during the downtime on the water, I'm glad it's over. No more 13 hour days! I've missed my me-time.

I have made some nice progress on my Color Affection shawl, though:
I finally added in the third colorway (SG Bugga, Fierce Snake). Yay! Short rows are fun. Right now they're still tiny short rows, too, so I feel like I'm making a lot of progress, which is always nice. Soon they'll get super long, though.

Also, have you guys heard about the whole Ravelympics controversy? Apparently the US Olympics Committee sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Ravelry people for the Ravelympics event they organize online. They said:

     “We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf  hockey and sweater triathlon, among anothers, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games... In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

Kind of harsh, but understandable since the name is their trademark. Anyway, knitters have gotten quite up in arms and the committee sent a couple of apology letters... the whole thing seems mightily blown out of proportion. But then again, I don't participate in the Ravelympics nor do I watch the Olympic games (no cable TV or time for TV anyway) so I suppose it isn't relevant to me. I just hope the knitters who are getting all angry remember to try not to give the Muggles a bad impression of what the rest of us knitters are really like. Knitters are nice people, don't be obnoxious! You can read more about it on the New York Times blog and on the Yarn Harlot's blog as well as the Craftsy blog, and elsewhere, I'm sure, if you google it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I feel like celebrating my freedom, so I foresee a lot of sunshine, outdoors time, relaxing, spinning, knitting, and perhaps an adventure or two.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Playing Hookie

No boat today, and we were given the option to go in to just work in the office if we wanted, which I fully intended to do... until I woke up this morning and went "naaaaah." Yay for days off! I think I'll go for a nice long hike somewhere after doing some job searching and other random bits of business that need doing.

Like mailing out the package of knitwear I'm donating to the Afghans for Afghans collection organized by Cephalopod Yarns:
Malabrigo Chunky, colorways Mariposa and Bobby Blue; STR Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill
It's crazy to think that these wee woolens will go farther around the world than I've ever been. I hope they keep some people very warm.

In other news, I've been reading The Principles of Knitting and never realized how many different ways there were to hold/tension your yarn and knit! I used to just hold my hands like this:
I would hold the yarn near the needle, with it sort of channeled through my palm but not wrapped around anything. Imagining, of course, that my picutre-taking-left-hand is supporting the needles, I would then lift my whole right hand off the needle, curl my index finger around the yarn, and wrap it around the right needle tip, usually twisting my wrist to do so. Sometimes I would use my middle finger to grab the yarn and wrap it when my index finger got tired.

Now, after reading about this method, I've started knitting like this:
That's a bit exaggerated, my index finger is usually closer to the knitting, but basically the yarn is looped around my pinkie, goes across the palm, and then out and over the top of the index finger. Then, when I want to make a stitch, I just sort of flick the finger and move the whole hand up a bit to wrap the yarn around the needle tip. No twisting, curling, or bending of anything required. It lets me go quite a bit faster and doesn't make any of my joints hurt at all.

Now, the real question is: why did it take me so many years to learn this?!

Also, how do you hold your yarn?

In case you're wondering, that lovely stripey-ness pictured above is my Color Affection shawl, which looks much the same as it did before, just with a few more stripes:
SG Bugga, colorways Nude and Common Emerald Moth
It is going to be oh so exciting when it's time to start the third colorway!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Giving

Have you heard of the organization Afghans for Afghans? From their website:

Afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends
hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered
people of Afghanistan. This grassroots effort is inspired by Red Cross volunteers who made afghans,
socks, slippers, and other items for soldiers and refugees during World Wars I and II and other times
of crisis and need. Read about the Red Cross knitting tradition.

It began after the war started 10 years ago and is still going strong. Currently, they are collecting hats, mittens, and socks for children age 5 and up to adults. And amazingly, Cephalopod Yarns is putting together a box of handknit items to send over. If you send CY a new handknit item, they will give you a gift certificate equivalent to one skein of Bugga yarn ($32!) and for each item included in your package you will have your name entered into a drawing to win a $200 gift certificate! I think this is an incredibly generous collection effort that I encourage you all to support, if you can. The catch is that they need to receive your items by June 30th. I know that isn't a lot of time, I just found out about this, too, but you can definitely whip out a pair of child-sized worsted-weight socks or a couple of bulky hats in a few days and send them along. Please read the guidelines here about what they can accept. Most notably, the items need to be knit in natural fibers, preferably wool, and cannot have any depictions of animals or people on them, nor can they be camo-colored. 

Soon-to-be-worldly hats!
I will be sending my Gone Fishin' socks along with the 1.2 hats shown in the photo above. I whipped the blue one out in 2 days and hope to have the multi-colored one finished by tomorrow. They are knit with Malabrigo Chunky on size 10 needles, so they go quickly. The stitch pattern is based on my Ribby Holiday Socks because it is quick, easy, and breaks up the monotony of plain stockinette. I might write up the pattern after I finish knitting the second hat (priorities!) if there is interest, but it is pretty basic.

Even though it's not entirely selfless (hello, free Bugga!) it still feels really good to knit something for others who could really, really use it. It's the perfect gift knitting: you get to use up some of your stash for a good purpose while knitting quick and gratifying objects that the recipient is likely to love because they don't have many possessions to begin with  and can always use the extra warmth. Knitters: changing the world, one hat at a time.

Mail your items here, with a note including your email address so they can send you your gift certificate:
Cephalopod Yarns
1547 Ridgely St, Suite B
Baltimore, MD 21230

And I'd love to hear what you're knitting/donating, if you decide to do so!

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Adventures

I'm pretty excited, I just submitted my first official pattern proposal to Knit Picks (which is apparently having a giant sale right now, fyi). They are putting out their first collection of late winter/early spring designs and the deadline was today. I should know in a couple of weeks whether my design was accepted or not. I'm trying not to get my hopes up because I know the competition for this will be pretty fierce and my design, while pretty, is rather simple. But it would be pretty cool! At the very least, I have a great     (secret knitted item)    and a new pattern I can submit elsewhere or self-publish if this doesn't workout.

I've also been busting a move on my next sock design:
VG Bugga, colorway Yellow Fringe Doris
I love love love how this design is working out. The cable is much better than my first attempt an I'm really digging effect of the twisted stitches and lace lines. This will be the second pattern based on a character in the TV show How I Met Your Mother. Can you guess which one was the inspiration?

And final bit of exciting news: I sold my first pattern to a stranger! haha Someone I actually don't know bought my Fiasco socks pattern and it really made my day. Nothing like external validation! That little rush of people liking my designs enough to purchase/download/knit/favorite them feels reeeeally good. I love knitters.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

In the spirit of randomness and crippling indecision, I'm going to let my lovely readers choose my next work in progress! (Because, really, what's one more WIP?) I have this fantastic 400 yard skein of Cephalopod Yarns Nautilace which I envision as a lacy, lightweight, uber-stylish long cowl... but which one?

There are three top contenders at the moment:
Photo from pattern page.
This is the Jeweled Cowl designed by Sachiko Uemura. It is a beautifully simple design that lets the beads shine. I have some pale blue beads that would work well. I've done a couple of beaded projects in the past, beading isn't difficult but it is rather a pain in the tuckus and definitely slows one down. Yet I do love the look.

Photo from pattern page.
This is the Thundercloud Cowl designed by Snowden Becker. I like the all-over lace of this one and am intrigued by the beaded fringe action, which I haven't seen before. I just hope the lace pattern is easy to remember because I need my projects to be portable in order for me to ever actually finish them.

Photo from pattern page.
This is the Hunter St. Cowl designed by Glenna C. This one seems less airy than the others (more tightly knit) but I really love the lace inserts an think they are set off by the plain knitting nicely.

So, which do you like best? Least? Which would you most likely enjoy knitting or wearing? Please leave a comment below and help me choose between cowls 1, 2, and 3!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SS: Black Jacob

I've finished another ounce of fiber for my Spinner's Study!

I really like how the Finnish fiber spun up. It drafted smoothly and you can see the resulting yarn has a nice sheen to it, almost silky-looking. Here it is side-by-side with the first yarn I finished, Polwarth:
The Finnish has a smoother feel than the Polwarth, which has a snugglier, fuzzier feel.

 Now, on to the next breed: Jacob.
Image from the Jacob Sheep Breeders' Association
What I think is probably the coolest thing about this breed is that the sheep are polycerate, or able to possess multiple sets of horns! They are also piebald, or spotted. Their fleeces contain white, brown, grey, and black natural colors. The Yarn Harlot made a beautiful gradient shawl from a Jacob fleece that she spun herself which you should check out. According to the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (see end of post), they are a conservation breed present in both Great Britain, where they are larger because they are bread for meat as well, and North America, where they are smaller and more traditional in appearance.

The sample I have is just the black portion of the fleece. It smells sheepier and feels greasier than the other breeds I've spun so far. The fiber has very little crimp and feels more hairy than wooly, in fact you can see long white kemp hairs in the fiber, which gives the spun yarn a rougher feel when those prickly ends stick out.

One important fact about Jacob wool is that it can vary wildly in quality both within and between fleeces. According to the FFSB, staple length ranges from 3-7 inches and the micron count can be anywhere between 25 and 35 microns, so the wool definitely reaches the coarser end of the spectrum. While spinning it drafts fairly easily, though sometimes the longer staple length of the fiber makes it difficult for me to pull it apart smoothly. This one doesn't rank near the top of my favorite breeds to spin but it has still been fun to spin something that isn't white for a change. :)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Boat Bloggin'

In case you guys were curious, this is where I spend my field days (see below 1). All those buckets are for different species of fish that we catch, sort, measure, and count. It is interesting to see the diversity of species in Long Island Sound, and how our catch varies depending on where we are.
But the days are long and the boat can feel pretty cramped, so it was really nice to come home to this yesterday (see below 2): new 'happy anniversary' yarn from the Fiasco! :) I've been itching to try this new base from Cephalopod Yarns, it is a laceweight mix of baby camel and silk. I'm thinking a long lacy cowl is in order, since there isn't much yardage. What would you make with it?

Edited to add: sorry for the crap-tastic phone photos! Dunno what happened there...

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Siiiigh... these goal lists... why do I even make them?

Because I'm Type A and love lists, even when they just highlight my lack of accomplishments. I prefer to think of them as motivation for reaching higher standards... yeah. That's it.

May June Sock Goals:
  • Maia socks (80% 85% done)
  • Gone Fishin' socks (DONE!)
  • Lunacy! socks (1% 25% done)
  • New Sock Design (0% 10% done)
As for my To-Do-Before-Going-Back-On-The-Boat-List, things didn't fare much better. I did manage to rewrite and update my Beribboned Wrists pattern, finish and publish my Fiasco sock pattern, work out (most of) the design for the next sock in my How I Met Your Mother series, and design/knit up most of the secret project I'd like to submit to Knit Picks. However, I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish that and submit it by the 14th, that depends a lot on how long my boat days are this week. As for the rest of the list (job/apartment hunting and planning camping trips)-- epic fail. For now, anyway.

Edited to remove excessive whine:
I'm getting a bit tired of this research boat, not going to lie. I think I've officially outgrown my capacity to be a research assistant. I need to be in charge, need to use the ol' noggin more rigorously. This puts me in a tough spot, though, because for most of the in-charge jobs you need a PhD, and for a PhD you need time and a willingness to be 1) broke and 2) all-consumed by your work for the next 5-6 years, and those are tough pills to swallow. All that said, I know I'm lucky to even have a job in this economy, plus this is the last round of sampling, so after the next few weeks it will just be 7 hour office days for the rest of the summer. The office days are pretty boring, but at least they're half as long.

Just keep swimming,amIright?

P.S. I added different pages to my blog in the tabs above. Now you can see my designs, my spinning in progress, my socks in progress, my other works in progress, and my finished socks on their own pages. Yay for procrastination through digital organization!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Get Out And Knit!

It's World Wide Knit In Public Day (more like week) from TODAY through next weekend! Get out and knit!

Me, out, knitting!
Here's a website where you can go to find knit in public (KIP) events going on all over the world this week. There's one at Six Paca Farm in Bozrah, CT I'd like to try to go to tomorrow, we'll see how things go. Anybody have any special KIP plans?

A big thanks to Lisa over at Wicked Artsy for nominating my blog for a Sunshine Award. What a fun way to be introduced to other people's blogs! The rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the 10 questions on your favourite things.
3. Nominate 10 blogs to receive the Sunshine Award and let them know they've been nominated. 
  1. Favourite animal: Cats, horses, sheep.
  2. Favourite number: 7
  3. Favourite non-alcoholic drink: I'm boring: water.
  4. Facebook or Twitter: Can I please pick Ravelry? I have a facebook page and twitter, also.
  5. My passion:Yarn. Knitting. Talking about yarn and knitting. Making other people knit.
  6. Getting or giving: Giving... unless it's yarn.
  7. Favourite Pattern: Whaaaat? How am I supposed to pick a favorite? I think one of my favorite finished projects is my Rock Island shawl, designed by Jared Flood.
  8. Favourite day of the week: Friday, I love the anticipation of the weekend.
  9. Favourite flower: I've always liked tulips and carnations and hydrangeas (I don't seem to be doing well at just picking one thing!).
  10. Favourite country: I've yet to visit anywhere outside the US but I've got my sights set on Ireland someday.
Here are 10 blogs I really enjoy reading in no particular order:
  1.  The Yarn Harlot -- Canadian knitter and knitting humor writer extraordinaire who needs no more introduction than that!
  2. We Do Not Have A Knitting Problem -- Carrie (Irishgirlieknits) is a designer of lovely socks and shawls and other accessories.
  3. Mason-Dixon Knitting -- Kay and Anne write public knitting-related letters to each other... I really should get around to reading their books because I enjoy their blog.
  4. SouleMama -- A mother of 5 living a sweet, handmade, homespun life in Maine.
  5. needled -- Kate Davies blogs about her gorgeous designs and Scottish landscape inspiration.
  6. The White Noise of Ice -- From her handspun yarns to wood turning to running goals, there is always something inspiring to read on Tracey's blog.
  7. Violently Domestic -- I adore Hunter's designs so much, I look forward to reading tidbits about them here.
  8. Too Much Yarn -- Christine and I have similar tastes for luxury yarns, though her stash is much larger and more enviable than mine!
  9. SoCalAmity --  Though not really a knitting blog, Erica (who is a fellow knitter) writes amusing and poignant snapshots about her life.
  10. Dull Roar -- Alex is a designer, works for Malabrigo Yarns, and has a fun and funky blog in which you can often find interesting inside tips about the yarn industry.
I'll admit I'm a little shy about telling some of these people about the Sunshine Award but you should still check them out anyway!  :-D

Got any other must-read blogs I should be checking out? How about Twitter feeds?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Exotic Tastes

Question: What do tomatoes, ginger, peanut butter, and chickpeas all have in common?

Answer: They are all in my stomach... at the same time--on purpose!--as part of this crazy soup I just made.

Oh yeah, and don't forget about the curry powder, cayenne pepper, scallions, onions, or cilantro... Talk about sinus-clearing! This is the African Peanut Soup from the Weight Watcher's New Complete Cookbook and it is quite tasty. The recipe made a lot but I fear the Fiasco won't like it. He's not much into Indian/Thai/curry-flavored foods and that's almost exactly what this is. Woops. I like it, but I'm not sure I eat-for-dinner-for-the-rest-of-the-week-like it. But you can't hate a recipe that pretty much goes "open some cans, chop some things, put them in a food processor, cook for 5 minutes in a pot". Love 'em like that. The cookbook is actually fantastic. The recipes are tasty and varied (obviously) and it really helps to have all of the nutritional information broken down. Between tracking everything I ate and getting 1-2 hours plus of exercise every day, I lost four pounds this week! I've been very on-again-off-again with keeping track of food for the past several months but this last week's results has convinced me to give "on" the old college try... again. Sigh.

In other news, look what arrived in the mail today?
All hail the giant knitting tome!
It's a good thing I like textbooks because damn this thing is huge! (Yarn cake with my next sock design shown for scale.) There has been a lot of hype about this book, apparently it was hugely popular and out of print for a long time. Now the auther, June Hemmons Hiatt, has revamped the entire thing and I honestly can't wait to read it. I'm fine with winging things if it's for my own knitting, but now that I'm writing patterns for other people to follow I want to make sure that I'm Doing Things Correctly. I know, I know, "there are no knitting police", but there are efficient and clever ways to do things and I want to take advantage of any resource that I can to make sure I'm familiar with them. I'm unfortunately not lucky enough to have a sweet old grandma who's been knitting for decades and has all sorts of tips and tricks filed away. I must research to learn such things and this book seems like the ultimate primary source. A more in-depth review will follow just as soon as I can get beyond its pretty cover and giant size.

Oh yeah, I've also added my patterns to Craftsy! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Craftsy is an online community for all sorts of crafters: from sewing to knit/crocheting, jewelry-making to baking, home decor to paper cutting. Not only is there a pattern store but there are also a bunch of online classes you can take. I haven't dug too deeply into it just yet but it looks really, really cool (although I do feel a little bit like I'm cheating on Ravelry!). Has anybody else used Craftsy? What do you like best about it?

And two more things in blogland I'd like to tell you about:
1) Julie Matthews over at Knitting At Large blogged about a huge "hurt book" sale going on at the Interweave website starting tomorrow. Sounds like a good opportunity to enhance the book stash!
2) and there is HANDSPUN BEAR FIBER over at Fleegle's blog. C'mon, you can't not click.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Midnight Release!

I didn't intend to be releasing this pattern near midnight but, well, that's just how I roll. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet my brand spankin' new sock pattern: Fiasco.
STR Heavyweight, colorway Drop Dead Sexy
These socks are the first in a series of (forthcoming) patterns inspired by one of the greatest sitcoms of all time: How I Met Your Mother. This design is based on Ted Mosby, the adorable, luckless-in-love architect who refuses to give up on his hopes and dreams despite all the twists and turns life throws at him (and who can tell one heck of a long story).

Meet Ted! Who wouldn't love that face? Photo from here.
Some of Ted's more admirable qualities remind me of my dear Fiasco (a.k.a. fiancé), for whom these socks were knit, and since 'fiasco' is a good way to describe Ted's dating life, I thought it was a fitting name for the pattern. :)

The socks are knit cuff down, with the garter stitch cuff knit sideways and joined together. The pattern includes a photo tutorial detailing the steps for the cuff. The rest of the sock is a mix of textured ribbing, slipped stitches, cables, and a garter stitch heel and toe. Because of the garter stitch, these socks are extra squishy and cozy. The cables provide some structure to the fabric while the garter rib allows for stretch. As you can see from the photo, the pattern works really well with variegated yarns, especially in the cuff where the change of direction causes some neat striping effects.

I have to thank my dear Fiasco for being such a good sock model and grateful recipient of these socks. I also have many test knitters to thank (Angelina13, GayleP, KnattersKnits, NanaMamah, and MaggieD on Ravelry) for their wonderful work and great feedback on the pattern. I'm excited to let this pattern out into the world! It is available for purchase for $4.50 in my Ravelry shop or you can click on the button below to pay directly through paypal.

I really really hope you like it!

Monday, June 4, 2012


twit·ter·pat·ed   [twit-er-pey-tid]  


excited or overcome by romantic feelings; smitten.
Fun fact: the word "twitterpated" originated in 1942 from the movie Bambi. Who knew?
I've joined Twitter to promote my patterns and stay in the loop on the whole yarn and knitting front. I never ever thought I would, but as a vehicle for making quick connections and getting the word out about things, it makes sense. I'm still a bit confused by the whole hashtag thing but I'm sure I'll get used to it with time. I am, however, completely lost as to who to follow and how to find people so if you have a Twitter account or know of some interesting people to follow, please let me know! You can click on the button to the right to follow me, if you'd like. 
I've also created a Facebook page for Shoelaceswitcher Designs which you can go 'like', if you'd like. :)  This blog is still going to be my main point-of-contact as far as social media goes since, let's face it, I generally have more to say than can fit in a 140 character Tweet or a random Facebook status update. However, I am happy to reach people through whatever methods they prefer, so if Facebook or Twitter are you're thing, I'm there!

I'm also on Pinterest, which is a pretty fun site if you haven't checked it out yet. It's basically a virtual pinboard, kind of like visual bookmarks, where you post photos that link to stuff you like and people can see and then repin and share as they like. I have a board for knitting, spinning, recipes, and wedding ideas. I've also added one specifically for my patterns, which when you click on the photos link back to Ravelry. Useful! Let me know if you're on Pinterest, I'd love to follow you there.

In other news, I'm getting things set up to publish my next new pattern and I'm getting all jittery about it! I think because this is going to be my first paid pattern it's making me a little nervous. The pattern testers loved it, which reassures me, but the perfectionist in me is still wringing her busy little hands. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hours and Hours

This post is coming to you from a bleary-eyed knitter who has spent hours and hours reading and writing about knitting and zero time actually knitting anything! However, this knitter is also triumphant because she fixed the Major PDF Problem that has been plaguing her since she first tried uploading patterns to Ravelry six whole months ago. The issue was that the deviously simple-seeming "save to PDF" option from Microsoft Word did not work for her. It worked, but when Mac users or some Ipad users tried reading her pattern, it came out looking like a rabid raccoon with an anger problem smeared virtual ink all over the virtual pages. It wasn't cool. So then she tried pdf converters like CutePDF and PrimoPDF and they did ok for creating a readable pdf file, but the files also were gigantically huge or had photos that were pixelated and gross. So then she changed her entire pattern-writing system to use PowerPoint instead (easier to manipulate text boxes because the new Word is weird) and tried various photo editing software to get her pictures to look better in her pdfs. Failure after failure occured and she NEARLY GAVE UP, nearly accepted having slightly crappy photos in her patterns when she tried to google it in a slightly different way-- and found her answer. Microsoft products cannot embed Open Type fonts into pdfs, only True Type fonts, and one of the fonts she was trying to use was Open Type. (Not that she has any idea what that actually means.) But this intrepid knitter loved her font, it was on her blog, she didn't want to change it, she loved consistency and prettiness far too much. So, she went on an epic World Wide Web quest and at long last found a True Type version of her beloved font. A few clicks later and her Beribboned Wrists pattern was updated and looking gorgeous.

Worsted-weight version using SG Zaftig Bugga
The pattern has been updated to include a DK-weight version since the original yarn used was discontinued. It has also been substantially beautified and now includes an option to add thumbs so you can have fingerless mitts instead of wristwarmers, if you so desire.

DK-weight version using SG Traveller
The suggested DK-weight yarn is sold by The Verdant Gryphon, Cephalopod Yarns, and Dragonfly Fibers but there are many yarns that would do nicely, including Malabrigo Worsted or Malabrigo Rios (which knits up very DK-ish sometimes). Under normal circumstances, links would be included, but this knitter is bushwacked so please google those yarn companies yourselves to find their shops.

Quite frankly, this knitter worked so hard on this pattern that she is referring to herself in the 3rd person so you know things have gotten a little loopy. She hopes you all download it (it's free!), knit it, enjoy it, link to it on Ravelry or send pictures via email because she would love to see your creations and rejoice. Now this knitter is going to bed--and for the love of all that is good and woolly, please do not tell her if the pdf is not working. She might not be able to take it.

(Just kidding, you should definitely tell me.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Check 'Em Out!

I've been doing a bit of research into the business end of knitwear design and have a few exciting finds to share that I think are fantastic and wonderful ideas! (None of these thoughts/reviews were solicited in any way, they are all just my own opinions.)

(1) First and foremost is the Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey. The book is an easy and engaging read, with a lot of information about how best to get yourself established as a pattern designer. This is not a step-by-step how-to-write-patterns guide, but it includes tons of insight into the process as a whole, highlighting things like copyright, marketing, establishing a brand/presence, and different avenues for publishing. At the end of the book is a series of interviews with successful designers of all types, which I've found to be really interesting. You get to read about how they started out, why they've made the choices they've made, and what they think about how the industry is going. I think it's fantastic. The author is an established designer and teacher, even offering online courses in knitwear design which I hope to be able to take soon.

(2) Blogs are wonderful because they introduce you to all sorts of interesting new ventures. I was reading a blog post by one of my favorite sock designers, Hunter Hammersen (Violently Domestic), which inspired this whole post. (If you haven't checked out her patterns on Ravelry, you should, they are varied and impressive and lovely.) She linked to The Sock Report, a new online magazine (sort of like Twist Collective) dedicated entirely to sock yarn and patterns that use it. It is put together by Janel Laidman, another fantastic sock designer. I only got a few pages into it before I became so inspired that I had to stop browsing and start blogging about it! This is the pattern that stopped me in my tracks:
Photos from The Sock Report.
The pattern is Marigold by Susanna IC and you can purchase it individually or as part of the whole e-book. I love the simple leaf/flame design that makes up the central portion of the shawl, which is similar to something I've knit before, but then how it grows and expands into the larger lace detail and then the pretty beaded lace edging! So much prettiness inspired an instantaneous, greedy, I want reaction on my part, which I seem to experience with many of Susanna's shawl patterns. So, this is officially going to be the next shawl on the needles... someday. Many of the other patterns in the magazine are lovely as well, including the sock that Hunter designed:
Photo from Ravelry pattern page.
as well as this one by Laura Kanemori, which is knit toe-up but is so pretty I might forgive it for that and try it someday anyway:
Photo from Ravelry pattern page.
Beyond the gorgeousness, the price is excellent: $16 for 16 patterns! Plus the magazine utilizes a different royalty system that allows the designers to be compensated for their work more fairly than in the past. I'm all about that.

(3) Finally, also found within the pages of The Sock Report, is a book/collection of patterns by Chrissy Gardiner called Indie Socks. It includes 24 sock patterns designed specifically for use with indpendent yarn dyers like my beloved BMFA Socks that Rock and SG/VG/CY Bugga. Sometimes such uniquely-dyed yarns can be difficult to work with and shine only in certain stitch patterns due to their complexity. This book makes an effort to match those colorways with designs that showcase their beauty while not losing anything in the mix. I particularly like Pachinko, which is knit with (surprise, surprise) STR Mediumweight:
Photo from Ravelry pattern page.
What I think is extra-awesome about this book is that even though at first glance it seems pricey at just under $29.00, you are receiving 24 beautiful and interesting sock patterns for that price. When the average price for a single sock pattern is around $5.00 these days, that's quite a steal.

So yeah, that's how I spent my Saturday morning. Have fun clicking, and I hope you find something you like! Please share anything you've come across lately that you particularly love, I'd like to hear about it.