Naming Your Photo Folders to Find Things

I take lots and lots of photographs. Let’s face it, in the digital world, “film” is cheap, so I convince myself to take multiples to make certain I get the best possible shot. However, I’m only moderately good about going back and sorting through them and I’m jealous of my husband who somehow manages to get this done (it takes me hours because I fixate on fixing them and deleting the bad ones).

We recently (April 2015) moved to Orcas Island and I have loads of pictures from when we were house hunting as well as just kayaking with our friends from Body Boat Blade who were some of the first folks to tell us (you should live here!).

I was looking for a specific visit—after we moved, but fairly early. I opened my folder for 2015 to find the shot in question. Instead I found a folder naming structure which used to serve me well when I traveled the world for work and hardly ever visited the same place more than once a year.

Year Day Month Location or for longer visits Year Month Location so for a visit to the Isle of Skye it would be 2015 05 Skye and that would be perfectly identifiable.

Living in a picturesque place has rendered the system less than ideal. When I went photo hunting I found in since 2015 I have more than 20 folders all named “Date – Orcas” and even that I have them as subfolders under year, was not as helpful as I’d hoped.

Oddly this does not happen with knitting projects that go into named, rather than dated folders—like “Watson Shrug” or “Fabulous Fuchsia Funnelneck”. In those cases, I rely on the date of the photo to remind me when it was taken because knitting takes time. One folder for several dates of photos make sense—especially if you pick it a project and put it down again as I often do because of my busy working schedule which no longer includes much travel.

So today I spent the morning going through those photos and adding little descriptors like “Funny Nick” and “Lovers Cove”.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Lover'sCove
Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

6000+ Pullover Possibilities? Not quite.

When I toy with the idea of being a fulltime knitter I’m always reminded of what Nicki Epstein said to me when I told her I was a budding designer. “Don’t quit your day job!” This was not in response to my skill as a designer—she hadn’t seen any of my patterns—her point was that anyone trying to make a living of it would starve unless they had another means of support these days.

Though Knitting is now mainstream, and I credit Ravelry with being one of the bigger catalysts of this movement among the Internet savvy, making knitting your job would be hard in spite of the moving stories on various podcasts and blogs of people that have gone down that road. The fact is, most of them do have another means of support.

But I digress.

If you’ve read this blog before you probably know the only thing I purchase in larger quantities than yarn is patterns. Literally my Ravelry library is considerably larger than my stash–4200+ patterns at last count. I have books and magazines dating back to Vogue Knitting issues from the 40s. I collect patterns.

This might seem odd, given I can and often do create my own patterns. And despite being in high-tech and spending a lot of time (in the past) writing code, I do not use sweater designer software. Instead I prefer the creativity and error prone method of graph paper and swatching. In part, I attribute this to having inherited most of my stash.

I saw Melissa Leapman’s book 6000+ Pullover Possibilities, as a way to have my cake and eat it too. Firstly I love her designs—such attention to detail! I thought I could use her book to make my pastime a bit less frustrating—leaving more time for garment making and less time for scratching my head over pattern design and math. And I was half right.

On the positive, this book contains great sizing charts—so if I were to ignore Nicky’s advice and decide to become a designer—this would be a VERY helpful guide indeed. From XS to 4X they are completely spelled out and even over different gauges. Wowza! These charts alone make the book extremely helpful to folks on a stash reduction diet.

6000 possibilities-2

What this book doesn’t contain is 6000 sweater possible sweaters. There are 3 sweater silhouettes, four sleeve styles, 6 collars and some “treatments”. If you do the math you could say you have 72, but these are all so similar and completely classic that the “possibilities” are closer to 4-5 actual designs.

Is it worth the $24.95? I’d say so. Especially for reducing the trial and error of stash busting. But I am just slightly disappointed that there aren’t a few more silhouettes—especially for more fashion forward designs, to really make this a “must have” book.

When I compare that to Sequence Knitting, which I turn to as a great reference guide, I’d have to say I stack rank it a bit higher. But perhaps that will change the more that I use it.

Basket Rib Socks – The Finish Line

Well, they are done. And given how much work they took, I consider this the completion of TWO projects. With this being the third pair, it is surprising it was harder—especially since I used the same guide—Socktacular! by Knit Picks. This time I chose the Basket Rib Socks.

One element was the yarn–Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool in Shades of earth. It had unexpected knots and anomalies (the size varied from light fingering to worsted). That variation resulted in one sock being slightly shorter than the other—despite being the exact number of rows. It also had MUCH more color variation than it appeared, so my idea of knitting a sock with individual skeins means that the sock almost look as if they don’t belong to one another—except by texture.

The mitigation would have been to alternate rows as I’ve done on other projects. And this was one project I was NOT going to tear out *another time* in spite of the $65 price tag for the yarn. See How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock? for details.

On the upside, I did manage to perfect purling via continental style, whereas before I was really only good at knit stitches, with purls being a bit loose. So as always, there is a silver lining! I’ve added another skill to my tool belt. 🙂

Added any new tools in your took belt lately?

Where’d It Go? or Seller’s Remorse

My stash is prodigious. It’s mine and my grandmothers with a few of my friends’ grandmothers thrown in. There was a time, in the not too distant past, that knitting was a dying art. So when people saw me knitting, I would get given all the spare yarn that hadn’t been used up.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

One Fall when I was on sabbatical I took to photographing and cataloguing all of my yarn—at least the small portion of it that remained after I donated most of it to charity—about 75%. But don’t let that fool you, I’ve still got an immense supply which grows every time I go to a knitting event—much faster, I might add, than I can possibly knit it with a very busy full time job that never seems to end at the end of the day.

To second the Ravelry post on January 6th by MaryHeatherB “Tip: 3 Things to do on Ravelry in the New Year”, Tip #1 is to catalogue your yarn on Ravelry. I highly recommend that you go through the exercise. Now I tend to shop at home because I know what I have and in what quantities. And now that you can “slurp” in photos you won’t have the added hassle I had in photographing 200 yarns.

I’ve been knitting things for the women members of my team and trying to pick up a few new skills along the way leveraging free patterns on Ravelry. One didn’t go so well. I attempted to give Aran Cabled Shrug in Kaya Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns a more modern look by switching the ribbing to garter and adding increases to compensate for the lack of give. I love how it came out, but feel it is a bit too misshapen to give away—not to mention way too small for its intended receiver. I’m still trying to work out a closure for it that helps hide the underarm “bump”.

Next I turned to a different project that I ended up falling in love with—a Bias Scarf by Shelby Dyas. It came out so pretty (and heavy) that it hard to part with. I bought some Lion Brand Homeland in Bryce Canyon and paired it with an unidentifiable yarn in my grandma’s stash—a slick, nylon, ribbon yarn in burgundy by Malibu Mark which reminds me a lot of Anne Blatt’s Antique.

That’s when I got the idea to make a shrug from the pattern—a square you can wear. If it were wider it would be perfect and I knew of just the yarn to pair up with a bit more ribbon yarn—but this time of KNOWN origin, Lane Borgosesia Diamante in a variegated black-taupe-white and/or solid black. On the hunt I went and I came up empty. I searched by stash and it was not to be found. Where was it? I sold it!  And no doubt now these two beauties are probably knitted up, possibly together, in some gorgeous creation.

And there was this VERY old Berroco Glace variegated cotton-blend ribbon yarn which barely deviated from white in the palest of pinks and blue. I was purusing Ravelry, as I often do on weekends, and found a great summer top to use it up with, feeling so proud to be shopping in my stash. Firstly, I couldn’t find it in my stash, but I was certain I still had it so I went to my storage rack… Gone! Well, it wasn’t my color, I rationalized. Er, um. *sigh*

I’m happy to have them get used and there was no telling when I would have used them, so it’s for the best, of that I’m certain. What it did get me to do was “rethink” my trade or sale portion of my stash on Ravelry.

Brioche in Plain English

I’ve struggled with two color brioche and for someone that has been knitting brioche for many decades without a hitch—both in the round and flat—this is a huge source of frustration. I decided to take multiple classes until I could master it. The upshot is that this approach did not work, so I hope to save you the trouble and expense and hopefully a lot of angst.

The problem isn’t you, it’s the lingo.

Recently there has been a largely unnecessary adaptation from standard knitting terms which might sell books and patterns, but stymies people that just want to do these techniques without having to learn new terminology, take classes or buy books.

*deep sigh*

I was bewildered when a member of my guild said that Nancy Marchant “had to invent new terms” because there weren’t any, the only thing I could think would prompt such a remark is that she wasn’t aware that brioche knitting is technique had been around for centuries. And while vintage patterns use multiple methods of description (the rational for creating a new “standard”) each of these ways is easily more comprehensible to me, but most lack the colorwork I want to learn.

At no small expense I flew to Colorado for YarnFest to take my second (and third) class on the topic from Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark (the first was 4 years ago from Nancy herself at Vogue Knitting in Seattle). Once again I failed to learn the technique.

Admittedly part of the problem was I sat next to a tardy 20-something “troll” who had taken the class before and poured scorn in a loud whisper on other attendees who failed to grasp it. She had lots of fodder since that happened to be the majority of the ladies there—all of whom were knitting veterans with decades of experience looking for a way to bridge this unnecessary gap. Needless to say, I left early just to get away from her competitive, obnoxious behavior.

I’m not the type to give up, especially when it is something I know well, like brioche. So I immediately turned to the web to uncover a solution—right there in my hotel room—knowing I was going to have the follow on course the next day and would need to know how to do two color to move onto increases and decreases.

If you’ve also struggled, I want you to know that I’ve discovered that others are still willing to use the standard terminology to teach these fairly basic techniques and give you equally good results—at no charge.

That evening I came across a YouTube video by a lovely young lady, Stephanie of Milk Shed, and learned, in ten minutes, exactly what the first 2 hours of the class covered. And the lingo? Good old fashioned slips with yarnovers and knit/purl to togethers. There is also a written tutorial that comes with a free cowl pattern. Even Jo-Ann’s is getting into the plain English act with their online tutorials—not a BRK (brioche knit) or a BRP (brioche purl) in sight!

And not to worry if you want to knit a newer pattern. I found that once I mastered the techniques it was fairly straight forward to work in reverse. All you have to do is to map normal knitting terms onto the newer patterns.

*deep happy breath*

My First Crochet Project

My Gadabout Bag
My Gadabout Bag

I know somewhere in the distant past I made a few granny squares in Junior High. So you might argue that this isn’t my very first crochet project. So perhaps a better way of describing it is that I’ve just created my first ever *usable* object.

The not-so-little Gad-about bag (I used 64 stitches instead of 48), designed by Dot Matthews, is my newest project bag. The Seahawks colors are unintentional. This is just what I had lying about of similar weight and composition. Though it could be that I’m subliminally drawn to the local sports team colors. I like to think I already liked this combination and that the correspondence is a coincidence.

The bottom of the finished bag inspired my wish to see what more
The bottom of the finished bag inspired my wish to see what more “mistakes” might look like.

My LYM (local yarn manufacturer) is Warm Valley Orchard (WVO) on Orcas Island. When I’ve bought a sweater’s worth of yarn I’ve been allowed to make a free selection from a hank ends pile. So between leftovers from various projects and these hank ends, I was building up quite a stash of unstashable yarns. I find WVO yarns to be stiffer than other yarns. Perfect for a sturdy bag.

I didn’t follow the directions exactly for the bottom, but I followed pretty closely for the top. And though it is clearly too tight in places, I must admit, I prefer the fabric from the not followed section better than the followed. The coil outward reminds me of a Panamanian hat. I wondered what it would look like if I just kept on going…

Bottom of the bag in progress
Bottom of the bag in progress

I was so pleased with my mods, I decided to immediately start on another bag. However I stopped work quickly after the bottom section because I really am anxious to get on with my next big project—a cardigan for me. Finally!!

You might also notice that the colors match fairly well the first project I put into it—my Woolful Summer knit-a-long Home and Away project, which is a combination of a Georgetown and a Hancock sweater from Hannah Fettig’s Home and Away book.

Georgetown-Hancock from Home and Away
Georgetown-Hancock from Home and Away made from Tosh DK in Worn Denim

If you’ve seen this beautiful book, you’ll know that Hancock calls for a sport weight yarn and Georgetown calls for worsted. One is cropped and the other is hip length. One described as a bottom up knit and the other top-down (though directions are provided in both styles for each). About the only thing they have in common is they are cardigans. I love design elements from both, so onward I go.

And as for the yarn. I’m officially madly in love with Tosh DK in this colorway.

Fitting Knitting

One of the things I loved about Knitters Magazine was that when Rick Mondragon first took over as Editor-In-Chief from the photographic genius David Xenakis, was the mandate to do more fitted designs. In one stroke there was an uptick in both fashion and complexity in women’s knitting. In honor of Rick’s transition from boxy to brilliant patterns, I wore my own extra-fitted version of the Knitter’s Design Team’s Lilac Top to Stitches West in Santa Clara, certain in the knowledge Rick had a hand in designing it.

IMG_4115 (2)Craftsy Knit Lab: Fit your Knits, taught by Stefanie Japel (the handouts are fantastic!), is where I got the gumption to use two fitting techniques: extra needle size changes and seam edge reductions. The pattern needed loads of modification because it calls for a bulky weight yarn and I used a sport weight (Peruse in Sea Bright) hand spun yarn from the sadly defunct Art Fibers Studio. I was looking for yarn for a different pattern in Knit Scene, but in the end I went back to my standby of Knitters, remembering a pattern I’d always wanted to make. Needless to say, lots of math and swatching was required.

Modifications

To create a light fabric I used size 6 needles as called for–I simply added more stitches to reach the right garment width. For reductions I first dropped to a size 5 needle earlier than the pattern called for and dropped to a size 4 needle for one inch at the waistline. Because of the skinny fiber, I had to also decrease at the edges to get the same width reductions a bulkier weight yarn would give in order to hit my measurements at the waistline. I decreased five stitches on both sides every other row from high hip to waist and then increased at the same rate until I hit the bust line.

Rolled Hitchhiker Scarf
Rolled Hitchhiker Scarf

I knitted it about 2 inches shorter than the pattern so it would fit under my suit coats and it does, perfectly. Not only does it hit my just above the jacket length, the sport weight yarn is less bulky and cooler. The bright color is perfect for spring and summer looks. I love everything except the color which would look great if only I were a brunette. Since this pattern require much less yarn, I had plenty left over to make a hitchhiker scarf for my Husband’s ex-partner who has lustrous chocolate colored hair.

Beaded End of Hitchhiker Scarf
Beaded End of Hitchhiker Scarf

There’s nothing new about fitted garments. Women’s patterns were highly fitted in the 1940s and 50s. But with the 60’s when loose flowy clothing became de riguer knitting pattern never seemed to recover. There was the occasional one in Vogue Knitting, but usually it was something I felt I wouldn’t really wear. In retrospect, as I look back at old issues (I was a subscriber of both) and I think how forward-looking those Vogue and Knitters were. They remain a go-to source for patterns—despite my habit of buying more books lately.

Interestingly Rick seems to be a fairly understated guy—though he’s riot when he takes the stage or teaches a class. He seems intensely private as evidenced by an interview with Faina Goberstein in 2010. Very much ‘just the facts, ma’am.’ And yet in person he’s larger than life. So is his design sense.

Speaking of Faina, I’m knitting one of her patterns right not for my husband (a blog for another day) called Simon, with all the modifications that accompany my knitting projects. In case you love her patterns like I do, she’s just launched a new website on March 22nd here.

I haven’t figured it out yet…

I haven’t figured it out yet.” Such a hopeful phrase! It suggests two very important things:

  1. That there is more to learn
  2. That I will learn it 🙂

I’m still here in Santa Clara at Stitches West and I’ve come to another realization. I signed up for too many classes—the same mistake I made my first time as Stitches West 14 years ago when it was in Oakland.

In my defense, it’s been 10 years since I was here. That said, I’ve loved every class and will likely love the two (!) more I have tomorrow. The issue is making sure I really learn what I’ve learned.

So far I’ve picked up many new ways of closing garments and making the chains, buttons, etc., in a class with Margaret Fisher. She even taught me how to sew in a zipper! I also learned two stranded color knitting with a designer from my neck of the woods, Lorilee Beltman. I can’t wait to try out her designs! Today was continental knitting with the fabulous Leslye Solomon, who I remember from her classes when I was first going to Stitches West all those years ago. This is when my brain started to fry a bit.Created with Nokia Smart Cam

When a neighbor would get stuck in class and lean in to ask me how to do something—because I tend to plow on even if I don’t know what I’m doing—I would answer, “I haven’t figured it out yet, but here is what I’m trying.” I didn’t feel bad about that, I felt energized!!

After class, this being my only half day of classes, walking around the market I felt a bit dizzy. Yes, that is a sensory overload place too, but it was more than that—I WAS TIRED. So I hoofed it back to the hotel to rest. ZZZZzzzz.

After my nap I picked up right where I left off from class while I was waiting for dinner and there it was. No, it wasn’t smooth (not yet!) and no it wasn’t pretty (not yet!), but this will come. I know it!

And now I must gird my loins for the two classes I have tomorrow—before I get on a plane and fly home.