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!

Book Countdown: Month 14

082315-samples214 months to go, and I’ve had lots of time to work on designs this month. Sadly, no progress on sample-knitters — the one piece I had ready to go to a sample knitter is being returned unfinished and I will need to find another person who can do it faster to get to my (self-imposed) deadline. However, I’m coming along fast on the heels of several other pieces.

From the photo above, we’ve got a prototype chart and technique swatch for the three-color DK shawlette I mentioned last month. This is in Plucky Knitter Oxford, which has a similar fiber content to the Plucky Knitter Primo Sport I worked the off-the-grid piece in, but a completely different look and feel. The colors are très Kristin Nicholas, which I’ve had mixed reactions to — but enough positive that I’m going to stick with them. I am concerned that Plucky may not be able to provide any other colors right now (their site still says they’re sold out) so one way or the other I’m going to stick with it.

The one in the center is a snippet of the chart for the DK mittens in Rauma Finullgarn. This is a yarn I picked up at Interweave Knitting Lab from the guys at Wall of Yarn. I had plans to do a pair of mittens with it but never got around to it. Now I’ve got an excuse so here we go! They’re going to use my “Tibetan thumb” which is a great if unconventional way to grow a thumb gusset that follows the musculature of the hand more closely. I used this method on a pair of mittens I made for Willow Yarns some time ago, but the photos don’t really show it very well. I hope I can reproduce it well in double-knitting,

The last photo is another element of the DK lace shawl I’m working out the details on. In order to do this mock-cabled lace look, I had to make up some moves that would be considered weird in standard lace, and doubly weird in double-knit lace. I will be revamping some of this but for the most part it’s just in need of blocking before I can finish planning out the final pattern.

Stitches Midwest went off very well, and I look forward to visiting Schaumburg again next year. In September, I’ll be at Stitches Texas in Irving — class numbers are much lower here, so if you’re a Texan or know any who’d be interested in my classes, please let them know there’s plenty of space left in all 3 of my advanced classes. I’ve also got confirmation that Westport Yarns in CT will be hosting me for an Intro and a Multi-color double-knitting workshop on Saturday, October 24th. They might be adding a third class on Sunday morning but that may be contingent on levels of interest.

You may have heard that I’ve got a pattern in the upcoming Vogue Knitting fall issue. I haven’t seen it yet, but as soon as I get my hands on a copy I’ll make a post about it.

 

Book Countdown: Month 15

Week 15It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since my last post. I felt like I was going to just fly through things — but there have been so many distractions and I have not gotten as far as I’d like. Of the 3 pieces I showed last month, one is finished (but it was finished then too), one is about 2/3 finished, and one is with a sample knitter, progress as yet unknown.

One thing I have progressed on is in planning for the new book’s “magnum opus” — a full-size double-knit lace shawl done in a pattern I’ve charted from scratch. Granted, the inspiration came from one of the Barbara Walker treasuries, but I figured out that I really needed the pattern to be upside-down from the way it was charted, which is not a trivial thing to do in lace. Then I needed to enlarge it — so I just recharted it from scratch. I am still learning about lace design, so the pattern isn’t that sophisticated — but I hope you’ll enjoy the results. I’d like to thank Anna Dalvi for putting me on the right path. Once the prototypes are done and the charts are ready, this is also going to a sample knitter. I definitely don’t have time to knit this one myself!

For those who are interested, the yarn for the shawl is Galler Yarns Prime Alpaca. The colors shown above are not what it’s going to be done in — I am awaiting color cards for a final selection but the rather odd combination is what I had on hand to play/plan with.

The next pattern I need to work on is another necktie in BWC Sexy (also going to a sample knitter) and a pair of mittens which I’ll do myself. I’m also throwing around the idea of a 3-color shawlette but I need to flesh out the color pattern for it first.

Next weekend I am off to teach at Stitches Midwest and in September it’ll be Stitches Texas. I’ve got a tentative gig teaching at Westport Yarns in CT in October — stay tuned for more on that later. And for you California and Colorado folks, I’ll be back in Santa Clara at Stitches West and Loveland at the Interweave Yarn Fest in 2016. More dates to come, I’m sure.

 

Spreading Rainbows Around!

VR-Tree1-72 In honor of the recent US Supreme Court ruling in favor of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I’m spreading some rainbows around! From now until the end of June, Victorian Raffia is selling for half-price on Ravelry. Normally $7.95, it’s now $3.97 (just add it to your cart to see the updated price).

I’m not directly affected by this ruling myself, but I’m really happy that all my fabulous friends are going to be allowed one of the fundamental freedoms many of the rest of us take for granted. It’s a step in the right direction, America! Keep it up!

Thanks for your interest, everyone. This sale is now over, although the pattern is (of course) still available.

Book Countdown: Month 16

Hesperos, Heartbound 2.0 & HexworthOctober 2016 — put it in your calendar. If your calendar doesn’t have October 2016 listed, add it in, because October 2016 will happen. In unrelated news, my new book will be coming out at some point in October 2016.

Why so specific? Well, I figured that I have to have specific goals if I want to have specific results. Fall is a great time to get a knitting book out, so I’m shooting for that season. This Fall is too early, and I don’t want to wait too long. I think Fall of 2016 is a reasonable target.

To keep me honest, I’m going to try to post once per month to keep you updated on where I am in the whole process. Here’s a wide-angle view: I’m planning on finishing up the vast majority of my new patterns this Summer and Fall, so I can begin photography in the Fall and Winter. If I’ve got the patterns and photos done this year, then I can spend the rest of the Winter and Spring finishing up the technique photos, writing, layout, etc. in time to have the final product ready to be in your hands by October of 2016.

At the same time, while I have released some patterns which will end up in the book, I don’t want to show my hand too soon since, as it says in the title, we’re still 16 months from the target. I do, however, want to whet your appetite for some of the stuff I’m working on, so I’m going to take a cue from Nancy Marchant and post teaser photos of elements of whatever I’m working on or have recently finished. The 3 photos above are 2 scarves and a hat that are either in progress or completed. Next up: double-knit mittens! I have designed a pair of very nice mittens before, so I hope this will not take me too long.

In other news, I have made a few of my patterns available on MagCloud, which is a printing/distribution service. Now you can get the Parallax eBook as a physical book! Standalone patterns Victorian Raffia and Spring Willow are also up there as I was playing with reformatting other patterns. Of course, they come with PDFs as well.

Also, I just wanted to remind you that I am teaching at Stitches Midwest and Stitches Texas later this year. More granular info on my calendar or (of course) on the Stitches event pages.

See you next month — or sooner if I can!

Workshops Aside

Wondering where to find me in your neighborhood for the rest of this year? Here’s a handy list:

March 27-29, Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival — I’ll be teaching several workshops and signing books at the SpaceCadet booth. Oh, and I’ll be on the judging panel for the fashion show!

April 17-19, Loveland, CO: Interweave Yarn Fest — I’ll be teaching several workshops and signing books at the Bijou Basin Ranch booth

April 23-25, Nashville, TN: Stitches South — I’ll be teaching several workshops and signing books at The Buffalo Wool Co booth

August 6-8, Schaumburg, IL: Stitches Midwest — I’ll be teaching several workshops; book signing TBA.

September 17-20, Irving, TX: Stitches Texas — I’ll be teaching several workshops, book signing TBA.

For more specifics, please visit my Events Calendar! More appearances will be added as I schedule them …