Book Countdown: Month 6

042516-cowlI had originally hoped to have all of the patterns in the new book finished — or at least knit — by the end of March. This lofty goal was thwarted by my teaching schedule — the last weekend of March (which was also the first weekend of April) was taken up largely by my crazy teaching weekend in Colorado and Tennessee. Now in case you were under the impression that knitting teachers have lots of downtime in which to work on projects between classes … we don’t. Most of the time, I’m anxious about my classes, or exhausted after my classes, or hungry, or just not feeling much like knitting after spending 6-9 hours in a day teaching it. However, I did get everything done about a week later. There is one pattern left to design and knit, and it’s not a huge loss if I don’t get it into the book, but I think it’s a possibility. If I succeed, I will model that one personally.

Speaking of modeling, that’s where we are right now. Due to some faulty but fortuitous scheduling (not on my part) I have 3 weekends in a row before my next major gig at Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena. Coincidentally, I have 3 models. As luck would have it, each of them has one particular weekend of the next 3 free. So while I can’t double up and save time, at least I have 3 chances to get the perfect shots. This past weekend, I was shooting with a model who is also a super-skilled knitter from one of my knitting groups. She was taken aback (in a good way) when I asked her to model for my upcoming book, and said she’s not really that photogenic. I was determined to prove her wrong. The photo above is far from the best shot I got of her, but it shows off the sample well.

Aside from the model (who will remain nameless, by her choice, for now), you’re probably wondering about this piece she’s wearing. This is the first look at one of the new pieces in the book. I don’t mind showing it now because it’s not really groundbreaking — it’s just a big cowl. It is, however, the only piece I have without a name. The original name is awkward and doesn’t really suit it. Care to weigh in? What would you call it? It’s in Dirty Water Dyeworks Petite Clara.

Next steps: More photoshoots and getting patterns together for tech editing.

In other news

As you may have noticed, my workshop in NYC this past weekend was cancelled due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict on the venue’s part. Lion Brand Yarn Studio has moved my workshops to September 25th. That would have been Stitches Texas except that I wasn’t booked to teach there this year (sorry, Texans).

My next gig is May 13-15 in Pasadena, CA — I’ll be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live there. I’m running 6 of my 7 classes there and there should be space in all of them.

I’ve also just signed a contract with the Big Apple Knitters’ Guild, so if you’d like to take a class with me on July 30th, keep an eye on this space.

Stay tuned — next month we’re going to start a new mailing list for the book and I’ll have some more news for you as we charge forward! Thanks for your interest — and your patience!

Book Countdown: Month 7

As I gear up to head to the first double-header weekend I’ve ever attempted (and probably the last), I feel like I’ve been out of touch with my adoring public for longer than usual. In reality, it’s been a month. But what a month!

032816-month7

I set a deadline for myself to get all of my projects done by the end of March. As such, it’s been an enormously productive month. All of my sample-knitters have returned their pieces. The magnum opus is finished and I’m currently blocking its nearly 8′ wingspan in the guest room. The newly designed Atyria hat is finished and looking fantastic. And the elusive double-knit intarsia hat is on the needles and well on target for finishing before I return from my long weekend. I may even restart the necktie, which I wasn’t sure about including — and which I knew I couldn’t do before my deadline anyway.

But I didn’t really need to. Why the arbitrary deadline again? It was so that I had a chance to take photos of the pieces while we still had snow on the ground here in Boston. But Punxsutawney Phil, that dastardly rodent, saw fit to end Winter early and Spring has sprung. To be fair, I’m not sure Winter ever really arrived. So the model shots will have to be done differently after all. Instead of going for a “winter in nature” thing, I’m going for “weird Boston architectural features” which actually does a fair bit to echo my design aesthetic anyway. The necktie I’ll probably model myself, and without concern about outdoor scenery.

Lindemann Center, Boston

For folks in VT and NYC, I’m going to be making a couple of short appearances here on my own coast before heading back to CA for VKL Pasadena. On April 17th I’ll be visiting White River Yarns for an intro workshop — and on April 24th, I’ll be doing a couple of workshops at Lion Brand Yarn Studio in Manhattan. There’s space in both; check out my calendar for more info.

In the coming month, when I’m not running around and teaching, I’ll be beginning to organize the book itself. I have finished 30-40 pages of text but that’s far from where I need to be. I’m going to need to take model photos, hand photos, and probably some videos. I’ve got writing and layout to do. I’ve got patterns to finish and get tech-edited. I’ve got some techniques to hone and probably a couple of small pieces to re-knit. In short, I’ve still got my work cut out for me, but I’ve got 6 months to do it in. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve finally gone part time at work to cope with all this? I’m officially a 75% FTE, which translates to Mondays and Fridays off, so there’ll be more time to work and more ease of travel.

Thanks for all your support! Stay tuned next month …

Craftsy National Craft Month Contest

032016-CraftsyI’ve been a teacher on groundbreaking online video workshop platform Craftsy for over 3 years now. I’ve only got one class there but I hope to change that in the future. I’m really happy to be able to get my techniques out into the world, and I’m equally happy that hundreds of other instructors are doing the same and making good money at it.

What you may not know is that when you follow one of my Craftsy links, whether you buy my class or not, I get a little kickback from Craftsy for anything you do sign up for. As a matter of fact, I get more when you use my half-price link than I do when you buy my class at full price or through a normal sale. Counterintuitive? I suppose — but true.

Why am I mentioning this now? March is National Craft Month, and Craftsy is doing a marketing push in all sorts of sectors, even running a commercial on TV. What they’re trying to do is drive new people to Craftsy, and they’re helping out their instructors at the same time. I get a little bonus for every 5 new Craftsy users I get to sign up — and anyone who signs up during this event (before March 16th) is entered into a drawing to choose a craft-focused charity to receive a $1000 donation from Craftsy. If they get enough participation, they’ll double the donation!

For this reason, I’m going to be posting daily on my Facebook page about workshops on Craftsy that I think deserve your patronage. I hope this will expose more people to new workshops they might not have seen, and I hope it won’t be too annoying. Help me out, learn something new, and maybe get a windfall for your favorite crafty charity! Thanks so much!

Book Countdown: Month 8

Stitches West 2016-TACI wanted to take this first-sentence opportunity to thank everyone who came out to learn from me at Stitches West earlier this month. According to the Stitches organizers, this was the second-biggest event they’ve thrown to date, and my class numbers definitely reflected that. People seemed by and large happy with the quality of the instruction and I made some other good connections. For those who missed me, I’ll be in CA again in May to teach at Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena. I know it’s not right around the corner but it’s closer than any other show I’ll be doing this year.

March is pretty full of workshops — FiberCamp Boston will mark my return to that event after a year away (I was one of the original organizers but the torch has now been passed and it’s doing better than ever); I’ve got a workshop weekend at Must Love Yarn in Shelburne, VT, and then the final weekend I’ll be beginning my crazy 8-class, 2-show weekend at Interweave Yarn Fest in CO. You can check out all my scheduled dates on my calendar.

This month has not seen a lot of visible progress on the book — I have actually made huge progress on the DK lace shawl I mentioned last month, and am only a couple of (very long) rows from finishing. The finishing, however, will probably mean another week or more of work, then we get to see what it’s like when blocked (if I can even find the room to do so). After talking with my step-stepmother (long story) who is fluent in Welsh, I’ve decided to throw caution to the winds and call it Adenydd after all. The pattern will need to come with a quick tutorial on Welsh pronunciation!

I’ve made some reverse progress on the DK intarsia hat I mentioned last month. The colors were just not as contrast-y as I wanted, and despite how excited I’ve been to work with that yarn I just couldn’t continue. I’ve chosen some new yarn from Yarn Carnival and will be swatching it soon. I hope it won’t require a rewrite of the pattern.

Month-8Similarly I’ve made some progress both forward and backward on the Atyria redesign. After combing my stash for sportweight, I found some lovely BFL that I’d picked up last year at The Yarn Company in NYC. I got in touch with the maker (The Woolen Rabbit) and expressed my interest in using her yarn for this pattern; she was initially excited but recently I have not been able to get a response via email or phone. Since I’m on a time crunch, I’ve selected a different BFL heavy-fingering from Seven Sisters Arts that I think will do justice to the pattern. I still hope to use The Woolen Rabbit’s yarn in some other project but honestly I just don’t think the colors I chose have the contrast I need for this pattern. Bigger blocks of color would be fine but the 1×1 color changes just get lost with these 2 colors.

In other news, I’ve had a little setback in a major publicity opportunity I had been keeping under wraps, but we’re not out of the woods yet. More on that when I’m allowed to talk about it. I’ve been in talks with some commercial printers on book printing estimates and timetables, and my current target is to go to press in early November so that I have the books in early December. I’d love to go live at Rhinebeck this year but it’s just cutting it too fine. This means I’ll have books ready to ship for Christmas. It also means that I plan to begin taking preorders in September or so. My mailing-list folks will be the first to learn of that, so if you want to be among those early adopters, please feel free to join my mailing list.

Finally, I wanted to do a shout-out to The Knitting Zone, the US distributor for Hiya Hiya needles. As you may or may not know, I have 3 interchangeable sets of Hiya Hiya bamboo needles that I do most of my work on. I had been having some issues with the tips moving around in their metal fittings, and an unfortunate seam on one of the new cables. I had been looking around at Stitches West to see if it was time to replace my needles with a different brand but I just couldn’t find anything that gave me everything the Hiya Hiya sets could. I checked out ChiaoGoo sets, Addi Clicks, and even the Signatures — but eventually I stumbled across The Knitting Zone’s booth. They saw the issues I was having with my needles and replaced them all, no questions asked. Now I don’t need to replace the sets again and I will (even more) heartily recommend Hiya Hiya for quality interchangeable needles. (I am not being paid to say this — indeed, I have paid them quite a bit over the years!)

New Workshops announcement

In the past couple of weeks I’ve signed 3 new contracts for workshops this season and I thought you should know about them! You can get more info on my events calendar, and read more about the workshops themselves on my workshops page.

Stay tuned for more, no doubt!

Book Countdown: Month 9

At the Craftsy Instructor Summit last weekend, there was much talk about “stories”. You know me from my work, which is really the part of my story that I felt was most interesting — the end, or the twist where it seems to end but keeps going.

I’m open to telling more of my story, but I have to do it in the right way. In a way, everything I’ve done and been and experienced up to now has shaped who I am today, but in a way I am not the same person who did and experienced all those things. It’s hard, even at my relatively young age, to look back and relive those times. Not hard emotionally, although at times it is that, but hard to remember clearly. I think by writing it down I’ll begin to remember more of it, and hopefully my older mind will make some meaning out of it where there may have been mere chance and happenstance before.

At a certain point, we’ll get to the present time, and perhaps I can keep the narrative going but I don’t want to devolve into one of those people who writes everything down as it happens and releases it to the world. You know — a blogger? Or at least, a blogger as they were in the early days of the modern web.

So for now, I’m going to stick to the present — and a bit of the future, since that’s where the Book Countdown is going.

Since my last “real” post, I’ve been a little overwhelmed. Earlier, I had 2 sample knitters bail on me, each of which lost me a month of time on their respective projects. I’m happy to say that one of the projects is complete and back in my hands and the other one is with someone who I’m certain can handle the work given previous work shown. I’ve been working hard on my last few pieces as well, and making good progress.

Month 9 Images 2

In the photo above, you can see that the final version of Ferronnerie has been completed. In the end, I decided to keep the color movement the same and have the S-shaped motifs move in a swirl toward the center. Each arm of the swirl (there are 7 in the size shown) ends (or appears to begin) with the elongated rectangle that moves, with its compatriots, into the star shape at the crown. The finishing move I did for the crown is something I have been wanting to try in entrelac for a while — and it turns out that it works really well. I expect I’ll play more with it in the future. The yarn is Quince & Co. Finch.

The second square is a snapshot of a cowl called Yingzao, which takes its name from an unlikely source: a treatise on Chinese architectural standards from the 11th century. As I charted it, the pattern reminded me of a Chinese wooden screen. The pattern is very complex but I’ve come up with an ingenious (if I do say so myself) way of simplifying it for mass consumption. The yarn is Dirty Water Dyeworks Clara. This is done by one of my loyal sample knitters.

The final square is, of course, Hexworth (or possibly Graphene?) from the other side. This piece was also done by one of my sample knitters in Bijou Basin Ranch Tibetan Dream. This scarf was pictured (in different colors) in the very first Book Countdown post.

Still to come

My huge double-knit lace shawl is the one I’m paying the most attention to. It’s called Adenyth (It’d be Adenydd, but nobody would pronounce it right), and it’s likely that it will be finished sooner than expected since, of the 4 levels of repeats I think I will only need 3 to get it as large as I want it, after blocking. If time allows, I may go for bigger and bolder, but I think my time is better spent elsewhere. The yarn is Galler Yarns’ Prime Alpaca Heathers.

I am working on a 6-color double-knit intarsia hat, but I am concerned that I may need to go down a needle size to get the fabric I really want out of it. This is too bad, but I only have a couple of inches done so it’s not the end of the world. It’s called “42 Skidoo”; it originally had a 42-pair repeat, but now that it no longer does I still like the name so I’m going to stick with it.

Finally, I discovered that my Craftsy class‘ patterns revert to my ownership after 2 years. It’s been 3, so the time is ripe for me to redesign Atyria for mass consumption (although over 10,000 people already have it from the class so that may not exactly be the right phrase). I have felt a little awkward about the way it’s charted and explained, and I’d like to see if I can do better. We’ll see.

Upcoming appearances

Just because I was at the Craftsy Instructor Summit doesn’t mean I have another Craftsy class in the works. Sorry. After talking with a bunch of people, I have some interesting ideas, and one of them isn’t even in knitting! But nothing’s been accepted (or honestly, even submitted) yet. Still, I’m teaching all over the country as usual. I just had my first Vogue Knitting Live appearance, which was excellent. I hope to be invited to their other events but nothing’s signed yet. Right now, my next appearance is next Thursday night (Feb 4th) in my own hometown! No, not Cambridge where I live, but Middlebury, VT, where I grew up. The knitting guild in the area has invited me to come and present but mostly to teach an intro workshop to a group of 40-50 people. This is more than twice my usual cap but I’m going to do my best. For those who can’t make it, keep in touch — I’m in talks to visit Vermont again in the near future to do a larger workshop series.

After that, I’ll be flying cross-country to teach at Stitches West — most of my classes there are sold out or nearly so, but if you’re up for some advanced double-knitting there are openings still available.

Then back to the East coast to hang out at FiberCamp Boston on March 12 & 13! I missed it last year due to my own scheduling oversight but this year I will be there. I’ll likely do a tasting workshop for intro to DK, but since the schedule is dynamic nothing’s set in stone yet.

At the end of March and beginning of April, I’m doing the craziest thing I’ve ever tried. I’m teaching two shows in one weekend, one in Colorado and the other in Tennessee. Interweave Yarn Fest scheduled me for Thursday and Friday only, so I’m flying there on Wednesday. On Friday night, I’ll be flying to Nashville to teach at Stitches South on Saturday and Sunday. So if you’re in either area, please think about signing up for workshops! Stitches South in particular could use some love.

Finally (on contract, anyway) on April 24th I’ll be teaching a couple of workshops at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC. I’ve got the possibility of another gig in NYC later this year so this will be 3 visits to that crazy city in a single year. I hope there’s enough interest to go around!

This has been a massive post. Clearly, I should post more often. But then I wouldn’t be knitting. More next month; stay tuned!

Book Countdown: Month 10

Happy birthday to me … sorry, nothing for free this year. Last year, as you may remember, I ended up giving away over $20,000 in free patterns. I can’t do that every year. As you can probably guess if you’ve been following my blog, this is a post I made much later than its timestamp. It’s here because it looks bad to skip straight from month 12 to month 9, which is actually what happened. I was out of the country for a month, and when I got back it was all holiday prep all the time, not to mention fighting off a cold I caught in Cambodia and dealing with 12 hours of jetlag. I just didn’t have the energy to make a post — and there wasn’t much to show.

Hexworth SampleWhat I do have to show is the first completed piece back from one of my sample knitters, the finished textured DK scarf called Hexworth. Or maybe I should call it Graphene. Anyone care to vote? Right now all I have is a low-res photo sent by my sample-knitter while the piece was in progress. I’ll block it and take a better photo soon.

In other news, I’ve locked down a couple of appearances in VT (at the guild in my childhood hometown) and NYC (at Lion Brand Yarn Studio), and I’ve got a second appearance in both places on the near horizon. More news on those, very soon.

Book Countdown: Month 11

Knitting in the tropicsI’m on vacation in the tropics. It’s really hot here. I’m not getting nearly as much knitting done as I’d like but then again, I’m on vacation. I’m trying not to think about my responsibilities in the real world but inevitably I think about the fact that when I’m done here I’ll be about a month behind on my knitting projects. I’ve emailed the focus group once, but the question was kind of disjointed and unclear, and I will probably need to clarify it further later. But that’s OK. I’m on vacation.

I wrote this and saved it until I could get the photos dumped down from my camera. Then, predictably, I forgot about it until much later. The piece you can see there on the porch of my cabana about 70 feet above the rocky, mangrove-riddled, cheap side of Railay Beach, is the beginning of the final version of Ferronnerie, which I prototyped back in 2014. When I got back, I ripped a level of diamonds out and chose two other colors instead. You’ll see a snippet of it in Month 9.

That’s all I’ve got to say about this month. More in Month 10 — maybe?

Book Countdown: Month 12

month12-103015I’d like to thank everyone who came out to one of my workshops or hunted me down on the market floor of one of the shows I did this year. It’s been a great year full of big shows finished up with a nod to my origins — a couple of classes at a great little LYS in Westport, CT. Honestly, I don’t quite know how we fit 16 people into a shop that size but we managed it. I was glad I brought the projector.

A little bit about the photos above:

The first is part of the crown of the textured hat in A Hundred Ravens Aesir. The hat is called Eureka, for reasons which will become obvious later. I am happy to have it finished, since Kate from A Hundred Ravens will be visiting the Common Cod Fiber Guild at their November meeting and I was hoping to show it off there. And I’ve got enough yarn in the skeins to do another hat if I want to! Also, now that I have this shining example, I have enough ideas to write up and teach a new class which I’ve listed on my website.

The second is a snippet of the magnum opus, the final pattern in the new book, a double-knit lace shawl provisionally called “Adenyth” — it’d be called “Adenydd” but nobody knows how to pronounce Welsh and it’d just be confusing. These are the final colors, a much more attractive pairing of very pale blue and turquoise in Galler Yarns Prime Alpaca Heathers. Star at Galler Yarns provided the yarn in exchange for me talking up her yarn online, which I have to say will come very easily. This is clearly not blocked but when it is, this will be a stunning piece and everyone will want to know how to make one. And one really neat thing about it? It’ll work just fine in standard lace if you just ignore the color changes and only work it in one yarn.

The last shot is small — this is actually finer yarn than either of the other two — because it’s very much in progress and there’s not much else to show. It’s the beginning of a double-knit intarsia hat — because as long as I’m teaching double-knit intarsia, I may as well teach it in the round — originally called “42 Skidoo”. But I’ll probably need to rename it because the 42-pair panels have had to change size in the final version. The yarn is Walk of Snipes in Dirty Rainbow by Alisha Goes Around.

I am not at all sure I’m on target here — in less than 3 weeks I’ll be traveling to Thailand for almost a month, and I’ll be unable to bring Adenyth with me for fear of losing or damaging it. It’s the piece that needs the most work but it may be a while before it’s finished. Nevertheless I am determined to have it in the book so even if I have to wait to photograph it until much later in the process, it will go in. Instead, I will be bringing 42 Skidoo or perhaps the second revision of Ferronnerie.

In the coming weeks and months, I will need to double down on my knitting work. For this reason, I’m going to be setting aside at least 2 consecutive hours each day for “office hours” — for knitting or otherwise working on my knitting business or the book. This will especially be necessary as I attempt to catch up on time “lost” while on vacation.

I’ve also had some good conversations with the focus group I created last month, and I anticipate many more to come.

Finally, for those of you who want to come and see me in person, I’m excited to announce next Spring’s appearances at the big shows — and there will be more, I hope, as the year goes on. You’ll find my workshops at Vogue Knitting Live NYC, Stitches West, Interweave Yarn Fest and Stitches South — and you can find more complete info on my calendar.

Book Countdown: Month 13

month13-092815Who’s got two thumbs and … uh … just finished a pair of double-knit mittens? This guy! A week ago I finished the second mitten in Finullgarn on a plane flying back from Stitches Texas (the woman in the seat next to me said “how tedious!” as I finished weaving in the ends, but she tried them on and loved them) and cast on for a new hat in textured double-knitting using A Hundred Ravens Aesir.

Good news on the sample-knitter front — I’ve got 3 patterns and yarn in sample-knitters’ hands, and I’m making good progress on many other patterns. I’m trying hard not to be distracted — I’m coming up with some other great ideas that I’m going to have to shelve until after the book is done.

I wrote Extreme Double-Knitting (and have been teaching my classes) using terminology and visual elements that were, as much as possible, borrowed from standard knitting. However, because much of what I was doing was not documented, I had to be creative about how I presented some things. Over the past 5 years, I’ve realized there are some flaws in my presentation which have made the book less accessible to many people. I have made many changes to my presentation in current patterns and in my workshops, but I am still working toward a cohesive, coherent and accessible way to explain double-knitting and all the weird things I do with it. The best thing I can do right now is to present my next book in a better way than my previous book — after all, I have developed significantly as a knitter and designer in the past 5 years; my book should reflect that.

Because I’m such a niche designer, my community means a lot to me. I want to make sure that the people who would be interested in making my patterns or learning the techniques I present are not turned off by some glitch in my presentation. I know I can’t satisfy everyone, but I can come closer than last time. Here’s where I ask for your help: As a member of the “extreme double-knitting” community, would you consider joining a focus group I’ve created?

It’s not going to be too much work. It’s just an email list, populated by people who are interested in making double-knitting more accessible to the masses. I’ll be posting “straw polls” once or twice a week for a little while (e.g. here’s a thing, do you like this way of describing it or that way). Feedback on the way I present things will be taken into account as I develop the book’s text. If this is something you’d be interested in helping with, please join. The group will get acknowledgement in the book — either individually or as a group, depending on how people feel about that. Of course, you’re welcome to leave at any time.

Update: Wow, folks, I’m humbled by the outpouring of support for my focus group. I’ve got enough people now to do a really good job, so I’m closing the group for now. If you want me to make an exception, email me and we’ll talk.

On the workshop front, I’m done with major events for the season but I have one appearance at a LYS: Westport Yarns in Westport, CT on October 24th. Visit my calendar for more info. After that, the next event on my calendar is Stitches West next February. I’ll be sending out my open dates to my workshop mailing list sometime in the next month, so if you want me to come to your LYS, please have them join that list soon!

See you in another month with another update … if not sooner!