Friday, January 25, 2008


I've sold two copies of Ruffles! I'm so excited! A huge Thank You to the folks who've bought it!

The Eco-Farm conference was a lot of fun. When I found out that it's been going on for 28 years, I felt the same way I did when I learned that Spanish has two forms of the verb "to be." That is, how could I not have known that? As far as fiber-relatedness; I went to a session on The Wonderful World of Sheep (and Goats) where one presenter talked about her Miniature Babydoll Southdown Sheep, which she rents out to weed vineyards, since they're so short. They sound really cute. She also has cashmere goats, but no fiber yet. The other speaker was a homesteader in Santa Cruz who raises Romeny crosses and just got a Wensleydale, which she's very excited about.

This last person handspins the wool and sells it at the Westside Santa Cruz farmer's market. She's not interested in ramping up any kind of production, which I respect, given her reasons for choosing this lifestyle, but it reinforced an idea I've been kicking around in my head for a booth at Stitches next year for small scale organic yarn producers who don't have any kind of big distribution. I haven't got much further with it than merely writing the previous sentence, but I do know multiple people who have experience with booths at Stitches, so I have a next action to take on this.

And I got a lot of knitting done. I'm making something that's probably too bizarre to write up as a pattern, but maybe not. And there were lots of knitters there. I freaked someone out in the exhibitor tent by asking about her fingerless gloves, "Oh, are those Fetching from knitty?" You could see her reevaluating the current paradigm as she switched gears from cheese samples to knitting. She was flattered that I had noticed them, though. Lots of hand-knit and -crocheted hats on wet farmer heads, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning for a conference on farming, of all things, but I forced myself to finish editing, formatting and uploading a new pattern, Ruffles. This is a top-down, seamless, crocheted pullover or dress with set-in sleeves. It was ably test-crocheted by Michelle, aka milobo of ravelry, and so it's making its debut in the rapidly-growing selection of patterns off to the right.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I'm not really what could be described as an anal-retentive personality, but I do not like having multiple knitcheting projects lying around. The fact that I made a ravelry WIP for my oddball project has meant that every time I look at my projects page (to quietly enjoy how many have been marked as favorites by other people; There! I've said it.) it's right there at the front of the queue. And now that I've finished the Afghans for Afghans blanket (my other, somewhat long-term WIP) it's what comes up in the little popup one sees when one's mouse lingers too long over my avatar.

So I picked it up again yesterday, after finishing Quietude, and was immediately unsatisfied with the crochet square I'd made before. It's called the Russian Square in the Harmony Guide, and it's a granny square with alternating 3-stitch columns of front and back post dc. But the corners, where the stitches are added, are done in plain dc (since you can't make a post stitch if there's not already a dc to work into) and the row gauge for post stitches and plain dc is radically different. Which means that the corners pooch out something fierce.

So I had been thinking about Joan Schrouder's Great American Afghan square, after knitting a little one for the Pratchgan, and hunting up my old knitlist patterns, and I got to wondering how one would do the same thing in crochet. It's not hard; instead of working (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in each corner, just work (4 dc, ch 2) instead. Changing colors every round makes the twisting a bit more subtle, but it's certainly visible.

I had toyed with the idea of doing the whole coat in dc, but I think I'm going to pick up and knit out from the square. The sleeves will somehow happen while I'm knitting; I'm trying to decide between knitting the body and picking up a normal-style sleeve cap, knit with short rows, or working a sort of dolman sleeve up over the shoulder. I'm not a complete believer in seams' providing the necessary structure of a garment, but this is going to be a longish coat, and I don't want it to stretch out too much. We'll just see.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I've finished my second pattern for sale! It's available off to the right, just over there. It's the first one I've done having download sales in mind before starting it, so it's something of a milestone for me. There are more patterns crowding my brain, waiting for their own chance, so I feel much more like a Real Designer.

Quietude will appear in the Stitches West 2008 fashion show on Friday night, 22 February. Yarndogs will have kits assembled, probably in multiple colorways.

I'm pleased at how it turned out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ghost in the machine

Way back when, innadawnatime, as Gaspode would say, I was an active member of the knitlist. It's funny how long it took for something cyber-fiber related to come along that I found as compelling (that something being ravelry, of course) but at the time, it was like a new world opening up. I had learned to knit 10 years previously, but it was the onset of my first pregnancy that really kicked up the knitting hormones. I used to read the page "What's new with NSCA Mosaic" (imagine the world where a single page tried to keep track of new websites with a list updated once per day!) and one of the sites I saw (Emily Ocker's page) led me to the knitlist.

I met Joan Schrouder, Sally Melville, Leigh Witchel, Janet Szabo, Amy Detjen. I got all psyched up to go to Stitches West when it moved from Portland down to the Bay Area. I met my wonderful knitting group. I hopped on bandwagons like Bergere de France, Webs, the Enchanted Forest Aran, Wool-Ease socks.

Then, as happens with mailing lists, the messages that came to my in-box contained more and more repeats and downright spam, and, after a couple years, I unsubscribed. But by then, I was (as Knitting Daily would have it) a Fearless Knitter, and continued to "knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."

And I also continued to design, as I have from the very beginning. (Ask my former grad school officemate about the vest I knit him, with no decreases for armhole shaping. Spaceman shoulder flanges in grey and purple tweed Martha Hall wool!) The knitlist sponsored gift exchanges, which took the email-friendly form of submitted patterns and recipes (Nanaimo bars!) And an actual mitten exchange, where I received a beautifully-knit pair of tvåändsstickning mittens big enough to fit Hagrid.

So there are three patterns of mine that still live their independent lives on the interwebs. One is for my own entry in the mitten exchange, Mittens for Lise. One is for a pillow cover I made as a wedding present for a long-divorced cousin. And one is a baby pattern that makes a hood, a hooded cardigan, and a hooded bunting, depending on how far you want to go. I used to get the occasional email asking questions, especially about the bunting. But it's been a long time.

I'm still proud of them all, and now that ravelry is going to host PDF downloads, it's time to reformat them and put them there. I should make a new bunting, too, although my best friend may well have the original that I could photograph.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

the end is nigh

There are 71 pages of bag patterns on ravelry. That's a lot of bags. I saw a really cute purse at a restaurant yesterday, and immediately started thinking of how I'd recreate it in knitting, but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing like it already out there, at least for the easily-accessible "out there" I have available to me. Just two designs that are something like, and both are much more clunky than I'd like to make, although felted knit is a difficult medium for delicacy. Leather handles would help; that's my main dislike of felted bags for my own use as a purse, the fuzzy, stretchy straps.

I can think this way, because Quietude is almost written (I have to write the word-for-word lace instructions, for those who won't read charts) and the baby blanket is on its very last round. I have a huge number of design ideas, all clamoring for attention, as well as a renewed interest in things I made for myself (with long-unavailable yarn) that I now think would be good to write up. I wish I were a better photographer. I took photos of Quietude on my dressmaker's dummy, and, well, it could look nicer. Say, with a model. And someone who could actually take photos. I'm hoping that exposure at the Fashion Show will drive sales at Stitches, but it would be nice to have a better photo for later on.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mr. Gumby

Today, I forced myself to start grading my babydoll top pattern. I started designating Thursdays as days to concentrate on original designing, but I've been filling them mostly with Christmas knitting. I did work a round on the A4A baby blanket, since that leaves only 3 more to go. I'm not a multi-project knitter; I like to finish projects before starting new ones. So writing up this pattern, which I've decided to call Quietude, is something I have to get past before I can start on any of those other projects I posted about a couple weeks ago.

I would love to write up patterns the way that I think about them, which is "Cast on the stitches for the width of the back, knit down 2/3 of the armhole depth, then do the last 1/3 with increases for the armholes every right side row..." but I know from direct personal experience that the knitters who buy patterns want stitch-by-stitch instructions. But I also want to provide a reasonable array of sizes (although this pattern is only going up to a 40 inch bust) and I'm not all that happy with the way I handle the row numbering. For online download sales, it would probably work to write up each size individually, but I'm also selling this pattern in hardcopy at the store I work in, and the owner is not going to multiply the number of copies she buys by 5 sizes.

I got through the armhole shaping on the back and right front before my brain started to hurt too much, but I should be able to finish it tomorrow. Then I'll have to photograph the piece. The friend I wanted to use as a model didn't end up coming down for Christmas, so I may have to use my dressmaking form. But it's a deep magenta color, which won't show up the lace patterning very well. I will look for a big white t-shirt to pin over it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

You load 16 tons, and what do you get?

Sixteen double crochet stitches doesn't seem like all that much. I can do that many in about 30 seconds. So the baby blanket I'm crocheting for Afghans for Afghans is the simplest, potholder-type square, and it increases 16 stitches every round. But these increases happen on 14 rounds of green, 13 rounds of blue, 12 rounds of magenta, and I'm in the middle of the 11 rounds of orange. That's 712 stitches on my current round, which takes me significantly longer than 30 seconds.

I didn't finish it at the retreat, although I did finish the first square for my Tunisian CAL afghan. No one has stepped up to volunteer a square yet for February, although I'd love to have an entrelac square from one of the other group members. I may end up designing this afghan myself.

I have nothing to add to Lisa's account of the retreat, except that I only realized on Saturday that several people had tried to get through the mysterious Sequoia conference center (Why is it so big? That's the mystery to me) on Friday evening. I had somehow convinced myself that they were all staying in Scott's Valley because the road from Felton was closed. I wish that I had tried to call them after we got there.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Orderly Retreat

It would be the heaviest storm in two years, wouldn't it? The NWS was uncharacteristically hysterical this morning, using double exclamation points not once, but twice in the forecast. And so I'm getting ready to drive to Ben Lomond, which has already received 4.75 inches of rain in the last twenty four hours, just so I can sit around and crochet. I could crochet at home! But, no, this is my yearly knitting retreat. My dad has already called to tell me to be careful. The only thing that really worries me is the 45 degree slope up the to Quaker Center.

Back Sunday, with any luck.