Feb 26, 2016

Who's Your Community?

I have a handful of students who join me in a knitting class on Thursday nights.  We’ve evolved a bit from being an instructional group into being a group of women who care about one another, who also knit.  I’m still a support to them when they get stuck, but our group has become less instructional over the years.  And while this doesn’t really bug me, I do miss the problem solving and watching the lights go on as people figure out something they have never done before. 

One of the things I truly love about knitting is just how clever it makes me feel.  There is no end to the delight I feel when I turn the heel on a sock, or figure out a particularly difficult stitch pattern, or put together strange colors and create something that is truly amazing.

(Sock is a plain ole stockinette sock in 64 sts on a size 2.25mm needle, and the yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight in Bait-a, acquired at Erica's de-stash sale last year.)

I love that part of knitting.  But I tend to see it more in my own work than in others lately.
I posted earlier this week how much the comments from others about Saint Padraig meant to me.  I am genuinely humbled and excited by how much people have enjoyed that pattern.  Often, I’ll send something out into the world and never hear back about it.

I teach at a metro Detroit high school during the day, and one of my colleagues has sponsored a knitting club for many years.  My students know that I knit, but a different club that I sponsor has always prevented me from participating in the knitting club.  Knitting club attendance has waned and she was looking for a depository for the supplies. . .and I agreed to take them on, thinking that maybe next year, I’ll sponsor the club and be all set.

It was a LARGE box of donated yarn, needles, books and goodies that showed up one day.  “These are from Ms. Hearne,” I was told, and then the student disappeared.  What was I going to do with all of this?  Where would I find room for it?

The box sat on my counter for a week as I pondered.

And then one student said she’d like to learn to knit.  She pulled a book of instructions out, found a yarn that she loved the color of, and I showed her how to cast on during passing time one day.  She tells me she knits obsessively at home.  (Oh, how I can relate.) However she hasn’t brought anything in to show me, so I’m not sure where she’s at with her obsessing. . .

Another told me she was into felting, and asked if there were felting supplies in the box.  There weren’t, but I brought in some roving donated by a Carla, and a few needles and a block of foam.  This student tells me she has been painting with yarn, and creating some lovely images. . .and was so thankful for the supplies to encourage her along.  I haven’t seen evidence of this, but I trust that it’s true.

And yet another told me that she learned how to knit when she was little, and asked if I could help her a little.  She shows up to see me every day or so to show off her progress.  She chose a carmely-tan yarn for the scarf she wanted to make, and never expecting her to be so committed; I didn’t put her off by telling her that it probably wasn’t enough yarn for what she wanted.  I just helped her cast on, and sent her on her way.

So often, I feel like that’s what I do as a learner.  Take a chunk of information back to my quiet space and then try to figure things out on my own.  Sort of like the first two girls.  I’ve got this, I think, and sometimes I actually do.  Other times, it’s a bit less successful.

What I’ve admired about girl three, is that she keeps showing up.  Every few days she’ll show me where she’s at.  I’ll give her a tip or two, and she’ll keep motoring on.  Then one day she told me she wanted to try something different.  I thought that meant she was giving up on knitting, and scrapping the scarf project.   (Aha!  I was RIGHT! or so I thought. . .) 

But what she wanted was to learn a new stitch.  Her vision for her scarf was that it would be a sampler.  She wanted to try out new stitch patterns that would help her feel more confident, and learn more.  What a smart girl!  She’s moved through garter stitch, 2x2 ribbing, moss stitch and is now working a 1x1 rib.  I checked in with her about length and colors and coached her to turn it in to an infinity scarf when she’s done.  I think that the 220 or so yards in her skein will be perfect for that application.

She has dodged the boring first scarf, and turned it in to something that she can learn from.  Something practical.  Something that’ll make her feel clever when she puts it around her neck.  All that knitting should be.  She likes the undulating width of the project, and thinks it's going to look smashing when it's done.  I agree.

All of this made me curious.  What was YOUR first knitting project?  What do you use as a teaching tool when someone you love wants to learn to knit?  And what are you doing NOW to keep growing your skills?

If you’re looking for a sampler-like project, I adapted Danielle LaFramboise’s windmill bag pattern a few years ago into a multi stitch sampler bag called the Sassy Summer Satchel.  It’s  a fun knit, and you can use colors that make your heart sing, and choose the stitch patterns that are most intriguing.  Best of all?  It’s a free download on Ravelry, and well tested by the 1,841 of unique downloads it’s had over the years.

If you do decide to cast on, don’t be afraid to let me know about it.  It’s a great bag.

And if you're struggling with your knitting?  Show up.  Ask for help.  Knitters make for great community, and your LYS or community center is bound to have classes--and if they're full and you live locally?  Let's chat.  It'll be fun to grow my community again.  You can never have too many knitting friends in your life.

 P.S.  I just saw that . . .Have You Any Wool? in Berkley has added another Fair Isle class if you're still itching to try casting on a Saint Padraig before St. Patrick's Day!

. . .and if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, here's a link!

Feb 23, 2016

It's nice to be loved!

When Erica and I re-released Saint Padraig last Monday, we expected that some of our customers would be thrilled, they'd been asking us for the update for a long time.

What we didn't expect was the overwhelmingly positive response we got.  You guys!  Thanks for the love!

Knittingally says: Thank you so much - I love the cowl!

 Don't you just love the pink edge that she's included  on the hat that she's working on?

 Janedu says:  SO excited. Completed the hat this a.m. and LOVE it. Cannot wait to make the cowl for myself.

IndoMary says:  I love this hat pattern I have made 2 baby 1 toddler 1 small adult and 1 large adult. Easy pattern to follow and so cute. Can not wait to try this [cowl].  

SharonRoseZ says:  Thanks so much; I have yarn left from my hat so may make the cowl as well!

And she's right. . .if you start with two full skeins of Cascade 220, you can make an adult hat, and reverse the colors for the cowl, and might still be able to sneak out a baby hat with the left overs.  When we were knitting the samples last year, we had a skein of Bare Naked Wools Ghillie that we couldn't believe how many hats we were able to knit with!

Take a look at how cute Sharon's hat is!  It's just about to be sent off to the recipient. 

I think if you poke around on Ravelry for a bit, you'll be inspired by all of the yarn and color choices you'll find. I'll bet you even have the perfect yarn just waiting in your stash.

I talked last week about what a great pattern this is for a beginning fair isle knitter, and it truly is.  My local yarn shop, Have You Any Wool has used the Saint Padraig pattern as a intro to color work class more than once.  Even if you've never knit with two colors before, you'll still have time to cast one on and get it finished before the holiday.  I swear.

If you've got one on the needles, or one you'd like to share on Instagram, tag us with #saintpadraig or #maybeacrafted so we can seek you out.


You don't have the pattern yet?

I'll make it easy.

Feb 19, 2016


I'm at CraftCon in Columbus this weekend, but before I left town, I added quite a few items to my Etsy shop.  If you're looking for a new knitting bag, or a fun key fob to keep you organized, there are many to choose from if you head over there to take a look.  I've added both sizes of Poppins bags, but the colors are limited, so act quickly if there is one that you think you've got to have. 

Remember, these bags aren't just for knitters. . .you can keep your small bits organized in your larger bag, backpack or luggage too. . .My wife has about six in rotation and she keeps all sorts of goodies from landing at the bottom of her work bag.

The key fobs make great teacher gifts, and conferences are fast approaching in our district.  What a nice way to show your child's teacher how much you appreciate the work that they are doing.

Also, if you take a look over to the right of the page, you'll see a link to sign up for a newsletter.  I promise to only use the list for sending out updates when new things are happening--and there are a lot of new things that are ready to explode!  I've got a handful of patterns that are being updated and re-released, and there are new fiber shows being added to the calendar, and there might be a coupon or two hidden up my sleeve.  Sign up to stay in the loop.  I promise not to share your information with anyone!

Picture me learning a lot this weekend. . .I plan to come home inspired, enthused and excited to take on the next bit of my adventure with MayBea Crafted.  I hope you'll join me.

Feb 15, 2016

Saint Padraig

Last winter, Erica Owens and I spent many a frantic night test knitting, photographing, reknitting, revising, and rewriting what has turned out to be one of MayBea Crafted's more popular patterns on Ravelry.  Saint Padraig is the perfect knit for someone who is itching to try two color knitting, but has a little bit of fear standing in their way.

The hat starts out with a contrast cast on, and moves into simple ribbing that will feel familiar to anyone who's knit a hat before.  Easy.  Peasy.  After switching to a larger needle you head to the chart, only to learn that you're only adding a contrast stripe.  Totally doable.  Before you know it, you'll be knitting one stitch of the main color and one of the contrast. . .and just when you're ready to let your brain rest, the chart adds a little bit of rest in it for you.  By the time you get to the shamrocks?  You're ready for them.  They move quickly and have easy to memorize repeats.  Your confidence is soaring by the time you hit the crown, and the quick decreases have you finishing a hat before you know it!

We have one customer who recently wrote that she's casting on number four in the past ten days.  Four hats in ten days?  Yup.  And she says she's not ready to stop anytime soon, St. Patrick's Day is a few weeks away and she's hoping to have a hat for everyone in the family in a rainbow of greens in time for the special day.  She's unstoppable.

Honestly, that would be enough to love the pattern.  A quick, easy entry into fair isle knitting, with fantastic results.  Oh, did I mention that it's sized for babies through adults?  It is.  A size for everyone.  But we didn't want to stop there. . .

This weekend Erica spent some time adding what we'd always hoped we could add to the pattern, but somehow hadn't found the time to add.  A cowl.

How adorable is this?  You can show your Irish pride without getting hat head!  We think the addition of the cowl makes this an even better value at $6, and once you try your hand at knitting with two colors, a whole new world opens up to you.

If you've already purchased the pattern, check your Ravelry library for the update.

If you haven't bought it yet?  What are you waiting for?

Here's a link to help you out.  We;ll be looking for your projects on Ravelry and Instagram.  Tag us with #saintpadraig or #maybeacrafted so that everyone can find you!

Feb 8, 2016

The Upside of Social Media

When I first created a Facebook account, it was primarily to be able to check in on others who were more active on the site.  I did the same with Twitter, and then eventually, last year, succumbed to Instagram.  I’ve slowly begun to add personal posts to each of those accounts, punctuated sporadically with MayBea Crafted photos and updates.

For many of my friends, near and far, they’ve enjoyed seeing the posts of the piles of Poppins bags that I’ve made, and learning about the patterns that I’m working on and sending to publication, but I suspect for others of my friends, it’s been a bit annoying to be spammed with news of the craftapalooza that is my personal and sometimes professional life.

Today, Facebook reminded me of a hat that I remember knitting, but that I thought I didn’t have any nice pictures of.  I knit it and gave it to a friend so quickly that I never added it to my Ravelry page.  Honestly?  I had forgotten how beautiful this hat was, and now I want to knit a similar one for myself. 
This comes at a pretty good time, as the I Heart Fair Isle pattern is set to be revamped with a new layout, new name (Hart, Michigan is in the running) and added notes.  Until it comes back from the tech editor and layout team at Stitch Definition, it’ll continue to be sold for $4 on Ravelry.  (Get your copy now, and the newer version will be sent your way when it is uploaded.)

I’m hopeful that by the beginning of April, my Ravelrypattern page is going to see a lot of action.  I’ve got a dozen patterns that are either being refreshed or added to my portfolio.  I hope you’ll stay tuned and see what is new. 

I’ve also added a MayBea Crafted Facebook page to hopefully engage those who want to be engaged, and keep my friends, well, friendly.  

Feb 1, 2016

Knitting Just Got Geeky

Guest Teacher!
Jeanna Parks has been experimenting with adding conductive thread to her knitting.  Since we've all got questions, and can't wait until the summer to see her table at the Maker Faire at the Henry Ford, she's offered to teach for us in Berkley this spring.

Light Up Your Knitting:
Fiber fun got you down? Want to electrify your geek friends with your recent technologic advances? Join us and electrify your knitting! Don't phone it in - making tech gloves is fun, but let's go light years beyond...LED light years! Our session will include some soldering basics, as well as some experimenting in the basics of adding LED lights to your projects.

Some homework prior to class is required.  Bring a WOOL stockinette swatch 6"x6" to the first class, and we will choose a simple hat pattern to knit for your second class project.

Class meets from 6-8pm on Wednesday, March 2 and Wednesday March 15 from 6-8:30pm  $55 includes materials fee.

Techie Gloves:
 You just knit an amazing pair of gloves! You chose the pattern, shopped for just the right yarn, knit for ages. And now? Now you can't answer your phone without taking them off. What??!? Inconceivable! Don't worry...we have you covered. Come learn how easy it is to incorporate conductive thread into your knitting project, and next time you can make your own tech gloves and wow your fiber friends!

Knit all but the fingers on your chosen gloves prior to class.  A pattern with simple stockinette or garter fingers will give you the best results.

One class meets on Wednesday, March 9 from 6-8:30pm  $30 includes materials fee.

To register for classes, send an email to Tanya at MayBeaCrafted dot com to register your space.  You'll receive an email with an invoice and confirmation upon receipt.