I’ve decided to offer 20% off my patterns on Ravelry and 20% off everything in The Yarn Office to celebrate my upcoming birthday (May 3), Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (May 7-8), and Mother’s Day (May 8) – just use coupon code HBD2016. This is the first time I’ve offered a discount and I’m hoping it helps spur some sales and then some projects from my patterns.
I managed to post about the sale all over Facebook while leaving out the coupon code. Oops. Facebook doesn’t make it easy to track down your own posts in groups, or if it does, I haven’t found it – editing those four group posts was clunky and slow. I wish FB had something similar to Ravelry where you can see your latest posts in groups.
Sale experiment #2: instead of posting a picture of what I’m selling to Instagram, I hand wrote info about the sale and took a picture of that. Here’s hoping that catches people’s attention and gets them to check the shop out and maybe even buy something.
This week I stumbled on two new sources of inspiration: a thread in the Designers group on Ravelry which has some really interesting designs, many from one knitter who has a really interesting story and fabulous super bulky sweater designs. I’m glad I read all 297 posts in the thread, but if you’re not up for that, you can just browse through the pictures instead, a shortcut I learned while perusing super long threads showing dye and knitting FOs.
The second source of inspiration I found is the Fiber Artists and Yarn Spinners Facebook group, which actually has intelligent people with really interesting posts, unlike many of the other groups I joined to help promote my etsy shop. I know that sounds terrible, but I won’t spend time in a group that’s full of spammy posts or posters who don’t use spellcheck/autocorrect (or both). Also, FB groups aren’t really that easy to use, IMO – posts shift around too much and it’s still difficult to find things even with the Search function. So Fiber Artists and Yarn Spinners is full of actual fiber artists posting about their work, which is fascinating to me.
For a while I followed HandEye magazine‘s Textile section for the same reason: interviews with artists & craftspeople and in-depth looks at their process. And that also reminds me of the PBS series Craft In America, which I’m happy to see is producing new episodes. I may actually rewatch some of it today while I knit (probably the Threads episode); they are fascinating interviews and peeks into artist/craftspeople’s journeys & processes.
I hope you have a fabulous weekend with lots of inspiration!
I’ve been working on another cowl, this time in herringbone stitch. I tried herringbone stitch a long time ago, in 2008 or 2009, and had a lot of difficulty knitting it. I think I was using right-sized needles for the yarn which was too tight; this time I used much larger needles than what’s called for (US size 15 for bulky yarn vs. 9-11 recommended by the Craft Yarn Council) and it’s much much easier to knit.
I posted a progress picture of the first cowl last Wednesday, finished the cowl on Friday, wrote the pattern up & sent it to my tech editor friend on Sunday. My project pictures & notes are on Ravelry, of course. Anyway – to make a long story short: the pattern is ready, but I’m not. The cowl is knit like a regular scarf, from end to end (rather than long side to long side), so to finish it and make it a loop, it has to be grafted. I just used regular kitchener stitch to graft the first cowl and if you know where to look, you can see what looks like two rows of stockinette breaking up the herringbone pattern. I want to see if I can graft it in pattern somehow, which I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around. I should probably be practicing on a swatches and working it out on paper instead of starting a whole new scarf.
But I couldn’t help myself – I needed to try this yarn. It’s Cherry Tree Hill Bunji, a chained tape yarn that’s so elastic it’s like knitting with soft, silky rubber bands. I got it in a stash sale on Ravelry along with the Noro Akogare I’ve been using; both are bulky weight and both are discontinued, which probably isn’t the best yarn to design patterns around but I enjoy the challenge of using the yarn in a way that highlights its best qualities. And buying yarn from a stash sale makes me feel like I’m helping the seller and I know I’m getting a good deal on the yarn.
Bunji is bulky yarn but so thin & stretchy that I swatched it on size 10 needles, which was too tight. I upped my needle size to 13, which was better but still not right. I ended up with size 15, which is what the pattern calls for and will make a better example of the finished cowl, and I’m knitting unnaturally loosely for me so I don’t stretch the yarn too much. I’m still not getting gauge, but it’s close. And it’s only a cowl – gauge isn’t quite so important for sizing and fit of a scarf or cowl.
The finished fabric is super stretchy but loose and still dense enough when it’s slack to not too look lacy. It’s very soft, much softer than I expected considering the texture of the yarn. I posted a macro of it last night to Instagram; I like that it shows the chain ply & color transitions in detail. One of my friends said it looks like something from the sea, which I hadn’t thought of before. The colorway, according to the seller on Rav, is rose reds – that doesn’t really suggest the sea to me. But it does look like coral or an exotic underwater plant. What do you think?
That’s my youngest son in 2004 sporting my first sweater. Isn’t he sweet? I wish I could squeeze his cheeks and tickle his toes today (I could but he’s old enough for that to be awkward). The pattern is Sweetheart Pullover by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas from their book Knitting for Baby: 30 Heirloom Projects with Complete How-to-Knit Instructions. It was a great pattern to use as a first sweater and gave me lots of confidence.
Not long after, I took a big risk and made my second sweater: the Rogue hoodie by Jenna Wilson, which I don’t have pictures of. Rogue is intricately cabled and technically complex but it’s a really well written pattern and because of Jenna’s pattern-writing skills, I was able to make it. I’m curious about first projects; for anyone reading who knits or crochets or weaves or does something else fiber art-related, what was your first project involving a particular garment?
Today is a blah kind of day. I woke up before my alarm but then after the kids left for school, I climbed back in bed and fell sort of asleep for an hour – a bad habit I started this winter on days when I just couldn’t face the day. I’ve had major depression at various points in my life, but last year was diagnosed with bipolar II, which looking back on everything, fits me better than major depression. But until last month I was in denial, thinking/hoping the doctors had gotten it wrong, not wanting to be bipolar anything because of the stigma around bipolar I, which is so much different from II. One of my best friends in high school had a really rough time when her mother tried to kill herself (again) – she was finally diagnosed with manic depression/bipolar I. And the things I do are a lot less extreme than similar things she had done, but still similar. I just didn’t want to be that. Accepting the diagnosis has helped me recognize the patterns of my moods and handle them better – it’s been easier for me to deal with depression and hypomania (which I definitely cycled into this spring) when you recognize the symptoms and can batten down the hatches. I also know to carefully evaluate my thoughts to see whether or not what my inner voice is saying is true; in depression, I think I’m a terrible worthless person undeserving of anything. And in hypomania, I start projects I’m not capable of finishing or get really irritated with everyone and everything for no discernible reason.
I usually have a knitting project going so I’ve got a creative outlet & something tangible to work on other than my domestic engineering/housework/stay-at-home-Mom duties. Starting this blog and breathing life back into The Yarn Office were are also supposed to be projects that give me a creative outlet, accomplishing something, and moving forward. My therapist would say that I’m not giving myself credit for my accomplishments and that I need to remember that I’m raising/have raised 3 really good boys, keeping them fed & the house clean, and that my marriage is good, et cetera. I’m working on changing that mindset that I fall into when things aren’t going as well as I want them too.
Today I’m in between projects and although I treated myself to Barbara G. Walker’s first 3 treasuries of knitting patterns, I’ve been more likely to check Facebook, blog stats, etsy shop stats, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and cycle through them just in case I missed something. I need to come up with a new project though – my knitting group meets tomorrow. Maybe design an ouroboros scarf? Ravelry only has one in crochet. That’s what I’ve come up with so far in rifling through my Pinterest boards. Or I may just continue my search for a better WP theme and (maybe) pay the $ so I can customize one. Or maybe I’ll get lost in tumblr.
It’s Monday so why not post some knitting memes? I saw the first one last week on Facebook and couldn’t stop myself from making the rest. Of course I think they’re all funny and giggled to myself the whole time I was making them; I hope you LOL too – it’s a great way to start the week.
(Although the end of that last quote is a tough one for someone with a mental illness – it’s impossible for me to smile and be carefree sometimes and I try not to blame myself/beat myself up for not being able to while still striving to smile & be carefree. It’s complicated.)