Jan 31, 2011


We're a month into the new year. . .How're you doing on your resolutions for 2011?  Did you make any?  Officially I didn't.  Unofficially?  I'm in a group on Ravelry called Knitting Everest.

My goals for 2011:
Prepare and submit 4 items for publication
Weave 11 items from stash
Complete Level 2 of the Master Knitter program
Knit 11 pairs of socks
Have UFOs in single digits

If you know me in real life, you'll know I'm a pretty competitive person. I enjoy pushing the limits of my own ability and seeing how much can be accomplished by hard work and dedication.  That said, I don't compete against friends--especially with knitting and creativity.  We all come to the table with our own skill set and can all stand to improve our abilities.  That's what I think is so amazing about knitting in general.  Every time I turn around I see someone "unventing" a new technique or way to accomplish something, or someone else challenging themselves to move to the next set of skills.  But holding each other accountable to achieve what we set out to?  Two or more friends pushing each other to their goals?  I'm all over that!

In 2008 I participated in Summer of Socks to see how many pair of adult socks I could knit from the end of June to the beginning of September, in 2009 I tried to knit twelve adult sweaters in a year, in 2010 I was a slacker without any real goals.  I taught classes, went to camp and the BSKG retreat, knitted samples for PK, and mostly knit from stash, but overall, I was somewhat aimless.

The Everest group is a pretty quiet one. . .and I'm not really sure why.  Do knitters set goals and then abandon them? I don't think so, given the amount of finished objects are posted in Ravelry and on blogs all over the internet. . .

So on this last day of January 2011, I'm asking you to put it out there in writing. . .what are your goals for the next few months?  As a special ed teacher we constantly write new goals and objectives for our students.  As you consider your crafting goals make sure you write S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself.  And post them somewhere for reference.  What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?  I'm so glad you asked!

S.M.A.R.T. goals are this:

Results oriented
Time bound

To say you'll knit from stash?  not so SMART. . .How much stash?  When will you know you've achieved it?  When do you want to have achieved it?

To say you'll knit all of your stash?  is that SMART?  can you actually achieve that worthy pursuit?  Will you really stay on a yarn diet for as long as you hope to?

What is your SMART goal for the year, or for the next few months?  I hope you'll consider posting it in the comments so that I know that as I push my own creativity to the next level you'll be beside me pushing yourself too.  What great knitters we'll be if we keep on learning. . .one stitch at a time.

I have a few submission deadlines looming. . .so I'll be working on proposals for the next month, and have plans to move a loom to the basement to begin my weaving practice.  Here's to two completed and submitted proposals and two finished woven objects by the end of February!

Jan 29, 2011

Bev Galeskas

While searching the internet today, I came across the news that Bev Galeskas died last month.  Did you know Bev?  She was the founder of Fiber Trends, one of the most popular knitting pattern companies around.  If you’ve knit a pair of felted clogs, you’ve knit one of her patterns.  Bev was a talented designer in her own right, but also published and distributed many independent designer’s patterns under the Fiber Trends name.  She may have been the first independent designer, as the majority of the patterns published prior to Fiber Trends were published by yarn companies to promote their yarn.

The news of her passing made me sad.  As a new knitter, I was intrigued by the felted clogs pattern and was discouraged from trying it by a LYS owner.  She told me the pattern was too challenging for me.  Perhaps she hadn’t knitted one of the Fiber Trends patterns before, or perhaps she underestimated the power of desire.  She had to know that knitting happens one stitch at a time, and when you are eager to have the finished product, you’re willing to persevere. . .I wish I’d taken the challenge and ignored what that shop keeper told me. . .it took many more scarves and hats until I was willing to attempt the slippers on my own.  When I did, I was surprised to learn that Bev included stitch counts after nearly every row.  While there were techniques that were new to me, the directions she wrote were clear, and guided me stitch by stitch to a perfectly executed finished object.  Actually, many finished products.  I think I’ve made about a dozen pair of these in adult sizes, and at least two in children’s sizes.  It's too bad that I let someone else's judgment of my skills keep me from such a brilliant pattern.

Later, I cast on for the Pacific Northwest Shawl.   

The graphs coupled with written instructions helped me learn to read graphs with confidence.  The Fiber Trends' Sheep Shawl is in my pile of UFOs, but has the same appeal—I just can’t seem to find the time to sit with a graph and do some “thinking” knitting.  Both of these shawls were designed by Evelyn Clark, but have the same attention to detail that Bev's pattern's have, the quality that so many of us came to expect from Fiber Trends.

I knit a pair of clogs today in Bev’s memory.  I hope she’s looking down and approves.

Jan 27, 2011


I posted my first "for sale" pattern on Ravelry last weekend, and it's been met with a warm response.  (A special thanks to those of you who have made the purchase!)  I named it Woden.  Woden's Day in Old English is our Wednesday. . .Woden being loosely connected to Mercury--a speedy sort of god.  I liked it.  Wednesdays are good days for me.  Every Wednesday for about 18 months, I've had dinner with friends, and have knitted.  When we started talking about the things we want to learn this year, and the things I'm teaching at our guild, it seemed a beginner's fair isle hat needed to be designed. Enter Woden.

This hat is great for beginners to begin working with two colors at a time.  It truly is a speedy knit.  The bits of the chart seem to fly by and before long, you're at the snowflake, and then beginning the decreases for the top. The colors in the initial hat are perfect for Joanie, and since she's already laid claim to it, I guess that's a good thing!  Wanting to have one for my own, I cast on another in colors more suited to things I like to wear.  I began the facing on Monday during some social knitting at a local restaurant, and before long I was past the point of where I should have joined the facing to the body of the hat.

I know I'm a speedy knitter, but hadn't planned to make it quite so far.  I was stuck with a choice.  Rip back and install the facing as written, or keep going and sew the facing up differently.  I kept knitting.  The idea behind the provisional cast on in the pattern is to allow the cast on edge to be lose and stretchy (raise your hand if you cast on tightly!)  and to allow it to move with the body of the hat when the stitches are knit together.

I finished the hat last night, and attached the facing this evening.  Here are some pictures of how to hem your hat if you too knit past the point of no return. . .

First, remove the provisional cast on for about ten stitches.

Then determine where the hem will land on the hat once sewn up, and take a lose stitch into the back of the stitch in that row.

Following the color on that row will help keep you lined up and have a neat hem, put your needle through one live stitch from the facing. . .

And back into the body of the hat. . .Obviously, I'm using a shocking color choice so it will show up in the pictures, but with a color that actually matches, it blends in nicely.

Be careful not to pull so tight--remember you want this to be somewhat elastic.  Once the tension is eased in around the hat, you barely see it--even in a color you wouldn't typically use. . .

. . .even on the right side of the hat.

It's soaking and will be blocking overnight.  Pictures of the finished hat tomorrow.

Jan 25, 2011


My first, and only, hand spun socks.  Rats.

Hope your day was better than this.

Jan 24, 2011

New Beginnings

One of the things I love about my job, and about knitting, is that we get to take things in small bites, and begin again whenever we want.

It's the beginning of a new semester here at my high school, and students are setting new goals for themselves, prepping new folders with promises to stay organized, and reveling in the fact that they all have 100% in my class for at least one day.  The school year has such a comforting and predictable cycle.  Students rev up for the beginning of the semester, work hard through the term until they get to a hard unit, or forget to turn in an assignment.  Each of them deals with the increased stress in different ways.  Some give up.  Some ask for help.  Some buckle down and put forth one extreme effort.  But one way or another, the semester comes to an end with one stressful week filled with tests asking them to sum up their knowledge in a 90 minute final exam.  This week, our exams are over, and we have a few different faces in our classes just to change the dynamics up a bit.  Honestly, I love this.  In what other job can you start fresh with a clean slate?   Even with the snow flying today, Hope is poking her head up and giving me new enthusiasm for working with my students.

Isn't knitting like that sometimes?  You fall in love with a yarn, or a pattern and knit with great gusto until you hit a hard bit.  Often I choose projects for social knitting, and when I get to the shaping, I need some quiet time at home to work through the counting parts. . .Sometimes I stall out when I make a mistake and am loathe to rip it out.  Other times, I'll leave projects sitting without buttons for months. . .dreading the final finishing work (It takes minutes!  What am I thinking?).  Or a sleeve can my undoing at times--I've been known to have multiple sweaters done but for the sleeves.  Blocking, seaming, repairing, all of these take me away from the project I once loved; but with knitting, I don''t have a teacher encouraging me to muscle through to the end.  Don't you think our finished objects a bit like our final exams?  When we wear a new scarf or shawl, or slide into that new sweater, we know that we've finished.  We've gotten to the end of our "semester" and can proudly (or in the case of some of my students, humbly) say to the world, "Look at what I did!  Aren't I clever?"

What final exams haven't you taken yet?  A friend is waiting to spend a gift certificate at her LYS until she finishes all of her UFOs.  Another must complete two objects before she can cast on one.  Yet another promises to have less than three UFOs by the end of 2011.  Our guild promised no casting on during Lent for a few years in a row in hopes of clearing away the rubble in our knitting baskets.  We all find ways to create intrinsic motivation for pushing ahead to the final exam.  Or avoiding it.  My UFO pile is somewhat staggering.

I finished a design this weekend and posted it on Ravelry for sale.  My mittens have thumbs.  A sweater and hat made it to completion, and I frogged a small project I know I'll never finish.  I'm eager to start my new semester and find out where my quest for knitting knowledge takes me. . .but instead, I think I'll dig into the UFO pile and finish up at least one final exam first.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Jan 23, 2011

Mitten Mojo

I love to knit mittens.  Love.  So when I encouraged members of the Black Sheep Knitting Guild to join me in a knit along this month, I thought there would be no problems.  I suggested three patterns of varying complexity, and figured I’d finally make myself a pair of Hedgerow mitts.  (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve printed that pattern, and contemplated what yarn I’d use to knit them!)  Eagerly, I finished the sweater I was working on, and dreamt about the mittens I’d be knitting.

Black sheep were casting on mitts left and right. . .Harriet has several pair completed already.  Kelley is making a beautiful pair, and I have yarn to match hiding in my stash! Several knitters began talking about Meta Mittens, a pattern  I purchased this fall, and have yet to cast on.

But instead of beginning my mitts, I cast on another sweater.  I’m eager to burn through some stash yarn this winter.  And after all, there is a pair of mittens that matches the sweater.  That counts, right?   

Also, knowing I’ll be teaching next month at our guild meeting, I began doing some color work designing.  I knit one mitten with black sheep on it, and as you can see, the sheep don’t look so much like sheep as they do black blobs with blobby faces.

As the sweater got heavier, I tried to move on the mitten KAL, it would be embarrassing if I didn’t get a pair knit this month, after trying to ramp up everyone else’s excitement.  And after all, the sweater wasn’t such good social knitting any more with its weight.  I chose two skeins of sock yarn and prepared to cast on my Hedgerows last Monday.  Suzanne convinced me that my dark hand spun sock yarn would not be the best choice, so I cast on in a bright yellow.

After a bit of work, the color and pattern just didn’t seem to be a good match.  I pulled the needles, chose a new yarn and went back to my sweater.  And began work on a hat design. . .The Hedgerows? In a new yarn (Rowan Felted Tweed), but hibernating for a bit.

The sweater is done.  A matching hat is done.   

The Fair Isle hat pattern is nearly ready for publication.   

And a pair of chunky mittens to match the sweater?  Waiting for thumbs
Perhaps my mitten mojo is back.  It just took knitting other things to find it.

The podcast is up. . .if you're interested in listening, the link is here.  Let me know what you think!

Jan 22, 2011


After a long absence, is it necessary to explain where you've been?  Sometimes I wonder how time gets away from us, and how things pull our interest in different directions.  Suffice it to say that I've been engaged in knitting lots of wonderful things and learning plenty about life.  How about you?

I've spent some time recently thinking about how to best use my knitting time.  In the last six months or so I've knit a lot of samples, developed several patterns for workshops at my LYS, and prepared things for gift giving.  I've swatched, knit from stash, and have been busy learning how to use some new design software.  All of these activities have sparked my imagination, pushed my skills, and had me dreaming about the future.  I've begun to label myself differently, both in my head, and out-loud.  Where once I thought of myself as just a knitter, I'm now changing that definition of myself.  I'm a teacher.  I'm innovative.  I create things.  I'm artistic.  I'm a designer.

I've been vision casting a bit, and dreaming about what my life will look like in 5, 10 and 15 years.  What do I want to be doing?  What do I want my life to be like?  Who do I want to be surrounded by?  I have some things written down, and things still percolating.  I'm not sure how this oft neglected blog will figure in to those plans, but I hope to be spending more time here. . .but I think I say that every year, and then beat myself up about not posting as regularly as I "should".  Several new patterns will be posted to Ravelry soon, and one will hopefully be up on the Knit Michigan website sometime in February.  I have a couple of design proposals I'm preparing for some publications--so keep your fingers crossed!  And will be featured on a podcast this weekend.  Listen in, and let me know what you think.  I'm a bit anxious about it, but you can be honest and tell me if I sound like an arrogant boob or a bumbling idiot.  Hopefully Lara will edit out the stupid bits.

Two sweaters have recently made it to the finished object pile, and several hats and mitts are on their way.  Interested in having a peek?