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 …

New Pattern: Heartbound

As we approach my Spring teaching season, it occurs to me that I’m teaching a number of instances of Double-Knitting Cables — but nobody has a reason to take the class because there’s a sum total of maybe 3 double-knit cable patterns out there. I have a double-knit cabled hat that I’m working on, but it’s not ready for primetime yet — so I decided to make a slightly foreshortened version of it in the form of a headband.

Heartbound headbandHeartbound is a lovely continuous-cable design that looks something like interlocking hearts — hence the name. The opposite side, of course, is the same in reversed colors. You can see it modeled the other way around here — and a sample shot of it here. It’s worked in Jaggerspun Green Line and Heather 3/8 sportweight, and the hat will also be done in that yarn. Don’t know how to do double-knit cables? No big shock. The methods I use are different from those I’ve seen before and I document them to some degree in this pattern — although there will be much more complete explanations for the technique in my new book (but that’s still some time away). I also plan to release some videos for double-knit cables with and without a cable needle but that’ll have to wait until I have time. In the meantime, I’m teaching double-knit cable workshops at Stitches West, Harrisville Designs, Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, and Interweave Yarn Fest this Spring.

I really want to do a shout-out here to Andi Smith, who’s a fellow Cooperative Press author currently working on two-color cables. Hers aren’t reversible, of course, but there are obvious similarities. From looking at her charts, I realized that the way I had originally set up this pattern was not the cleanest possible way, and using techniques adapted from Andi’s charts I was able to get the cables looking and acting the way I wanted. The caveat: not many rest rows. But the end result is stunning, and I look forward to using the techniques more in the future. Andi is also the author of Big Foot Knits, a sock book for people with normal human feet.

Speaking of Cooperative Press, we (my fellow authors and I) have been working on signal-boosting each other’s work for the 2 weeks from the beginning of February to Valentine’s Day. It’s called the #shareCPlove promotion and if you follow me anywhere else you may have seen it. There’s not much time left in the promotion, but if you like indie designers and want to help us succeed (in general, not with anything specific), you can still give us a hand by using that hashtag and joining the CP mailing list. You can check out more about the promotion here. You might even win some cash.

Cookbook Challenge: Slow-Cooker Channa Saag

Today on my way out of work, someone stopped me and said “I heard you like to cook Indian food, and you have a blog …” Well, yes — both of these things are true, but for the past several months they haven’t necessarily been related. I can fix that …

You may (or may not) remember the cookbook challenge — my wife challenged me to make one recipe out of each cookbook in my library before the end of 2014, or forfeit the cookbook. The challenge is done and I have not been as diligently recording it as I should have. However, I have this old post that I had meant to make back in July when I cooked it last.

indian-slow-cookerChanna Saag is the dish I credit with getting me to eat spinach. I don’t like spinach. The smell, the bitter taste, it’s just not something I enjoy. However, when it’s pureed with spices and garlic and ginger and cream, it’s delicious. Perhaps it’s not so important that it’s spinach at that point. It could be any dark leafy green. Heck, it could be cardboard (well, maybe not). Indeed, while most Indian restaurants will have you believe that “saag” = “spinach”, this isn’t strictly true. Saag is a method of preparing greens, and a dish made that way. As a matter of fact, the saag I like to make in my slow-cooker is half spinach, half mustard greens. Also, you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s a healthy dish, so loaded with greens and garlic and ginger. But most of the time, it’s sauteed in ghee and finished with cream. It’s a fairly decadent dish, really. Which is why the prospect of making it in a 6-quart slow cooker is kind of terrifying.

Oh, and channa? Those are chickpeas, garbanzo beans, whatever you call them. In India, they use a slightly different species that’s smaller and darker — but it’s easier to get the canned ones for this purpose.

As much as I like decadent food, I also know that I can’t afford to eat too much of it at one time. Which is why I love The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. See, here’s the thing about slow-cooking. Sure, it takes longer — but you can get the effects of frying things in butter and oil without the butter or oil. The saag recipe I used is vegan, for heaven’s sake. Not that I care about that, but it does make it easier to take to potlucks.


Sad to say, I don’t have any photos of it after it’s done. But you can imagine a mottled deep green paste with little flesh-colored balls floating around in it. Not the most appetizing image in the world — but so tasty!

Channa Sarson ka Saag

  • 1 lb mustard greens
  • 1 lb spinach
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2″ piece of ginger, chopped
  • 15 cloves of garlic (or 2.5 Tbsp minced garlic)
  • 7 Thai or Indian green chilis
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander seed
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 29-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Put all the ingredients except the garam masala and chickpeas in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Puree the resulting “mush” with an immersion blender (or dump it in a heat-tolerant blender with a little extra water if necessary, puree and return to the pot). Add the garam masala and the chickpeas and cook on low for 1 more hour.

That’s all! Add salt to taste (I’ve never found it needs any more than this) and enjoy over rice, cornbread or with fresh-made rotis. If you give this a shot and love it, I highly recommend you grab the book and try some others!

Charts & Graphs & Bears, Oh my!

It’s been a month (to the day) since my birthday, and you may remember that I put out a code that was active for that day only to allow anyone to get one of my patterns for free. Today, I’m posting the results of that craziness.

WIH-sale-piechartThe code only applied to patterns which are fully “mine” — i.e. patterns owned by Cooperative Press as part of Extreme Double-Knitting didn’t apply (except for Falling Blocks, which was released before the book). This meant, however, that all of my most in-demand patterns were free during that one day. Each customer could pick one and only one — although I don’t doubt there were people who used devious means to get more than one.

I posted only to a few places — my own Ravelry group, my Facebook page, and my mailing list. I did, however, ask people to feel free to share/forward the message elsewhere on their own. To this day I still have no idea where the posts were shared, although I suspect someone posted to /r/knitting.

I expected, given typical post/email engagement rules, that maybe a few hundred people would use the code before it expired. Boy, was I wrong. At the end of the day, the total according to Ravelry stood at 2,469 individual uses of the code. I was shocked — but also excited. There was a good chance that among all those people, there were a good number who were new to me and my work. So I emailed them all (or as many as I could) and invited them to follow me. I got a lot of happy replies and a bunch more followers/subscribers on all my social media sites.

For those so inclined, here’s the “winterishere” promotion by the numbers:

The graph above shows how many of each pattern were acquired. In the lead, unsurprisingly, was the Parallax eBook — showing that people are practical about their free patterns, since this one is actually 5 patterns in one. More surprisingly, the next most popular were Spring Willow and Severn Thicket, both mid- to low-priced patterns. The least popular was the kClub edition of 52 Pickup. I blame the fact that I have not knit a full scarf out of that pattern so it’s hard for people to visualize it.

The total “value” of all the patterns taken, if they’d been paid for, would have been $20,130.20. That’s a big birthday gift! I take solace in the fact that the vast majority of the people who took a free pattern would probably not have bought the pattern at full price. It is, of course, my hope that they will buy full-price patterns from me in the future :>

Of the 2469 people who used the code, 21 of them bought another pattern along with the freebie.

Since I sent out my email blast to the 2212 people with legit email addresses, I have gotten 132 new subscribers to my mailing list, 79 new members in my Ravelry group, 122 new likes on my Facebook page, and some new followers on Google+ and Twitter (it’s harder to see dates there).

So when I sent out my announcements about Victorian Raffia, a pattern I was finishing around the time of my birthday, I was excited to be able to tell an even larger number of people about it. Imagine my surprise, after posting around to my usual places plus a couple of FB groups: the original post is approaching 26,000 views, over 400 likes, 149 shares and almost 60 comments. But those are metrics for another day.

Well, thanks for staying through this whole post! As a reward, here’s a sneak peek on a new pattern that should be coming out in the near future. Sorry for the questionable quality of the CO and edges; the final piece will be perfect (within reasonable limits).