Category Archives: FYI

On ALL my needles

When I really started getting serious with knitting, back in college, I scoffed at knitters that I thought had “poor self control.”  (As a straight-A’s, honor roll over achiever-type, I scoffed at anyone who I thought had poor self control.  Not one of my more endearing character traits.)  I would never have more yarn in my stash than I could use.  I would never start a project and not finish it.  And, I would never have more than one project going on at once.

Never!

Well.

Maybe not never…

18-year-old me would be horrified with 30-year-old me.  I’ve got a room half-filled with boxes of yarn that “I will definitely use… some day.” I think I’ve got 4 or 5 projects on the needles right now, and about half of those are somewhere between hibernating and I-just-need-to-frog-this-but-I-can’t-be-bothered.

In fact, I now carefully plan my multiple projects.  I always have a big knitting project (sometimes it’s for work, sometimes it’s a gift) that I work on at home.  This is usually something awkward or complicated, something that’s just easier to keep by the couch and not worry about dragging all over town.img_3860I have a simple project- something that’s just a lot of stockinette or other mindless knitting.  I use this project for keeping my hands busy when my mind is doing something else- playing a game with friends, watching a tense movie, or something with subtitles.  (My bears are great for this!)img_3934And, I always have something small in the works, a project that I can keep in my purse and work on when I have a few minutes.  Waiting in line to get into a museum? Knit.  Got to work a little early? Knit.  Barber running a bit late? Knit.  In my opinion, there’s nothing better for purse knitting than a pair of socks (one at a time, of course, to leave more room in my purse for chocolate and a sketchbook).img_4679Do you work on multiple projects at the same time, or are you a one-and-done kind of knitter?

Help!!

I don’t know if you do this, but every time I finish a big project (especially if it’s a big project that I had to finish on a deadline), my mind goes entirely blank.

Like, it’s just static. *bzzzxzxzzxbbxbxzzz*  Nothing happening in there.

My brain is buzzing right now (and not in the good “I’ve got a million great ideas” way).  I just finished a big, purple, stockinette thing for a design I’ve been working on for the last month, and now I’ve got a couple weeks to knit something “for myself” before my next work project comes along.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3I think it must be something about pouring all your focus, attention, and  creative drive into one specific project.  Focusing so intensely that you don’t think about your “next steps” as you go.  I used to get the same feeling after finals in college.  My mind would totally empty for a day or two after, and I’d just bounce around campus, trying to find something to do.

I’ve spent the morning looking at Ravelry, but nothing is sticking.  Maybe I’ll look through the craft books I got for Christmas- maybe I’ll find something cool in there?  Or maybe I’ll just spend the day glaring at my yarn, and hoping it develops the ability to speak and tells me what I should make next.img_4518Am I the only one?  (Probably not- if you ask that, you’re not the only one, as a rule.) What do you do to break through the “just finished a project” zone-out?

Smashing the Patriarchy, One Stitch at a Time

You guys.

Last weekend.

Holy cow.

Last Friday was my birthday, so my husband and I had planned to visit friends in Los Angeles for the weekend.  (Mostly because I knew I’d get depressed when you-know-who was sworn into office, and you can’t really be depressed when it’s warm, sunny, and you get to eat lots of great food with your friends.)  When we made our plans, we didn’t know about the marches planned for Saturday.  But, when we did find out about them, we all immediately knew my birthday weekend wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of civil disobedience.

And knitting. (Natch.)

We talked about the Pussyhat Project last week, and it certainly seems like we weren’t the only ones.  Look at this picture I found on their website- Look at that sea of pink hats at the DC march!  Amazing!14851386614901In LA, there weren’t quite so many hats, what with the warmer weather, but there were still a bunch! (It was so hard to get a picture of the whole crowd- Downtown LA was so full of people, we spread out across blocks and blocks!)wp_20170121_12_30_06_proI brought a bunch of hats from Seattle (knitting two while we traveled on Friday).  I gave away one to my husband and one to our friend, Will.  (Jenny made her own, because she’s a badass knitter, too!).  And, I gave away five to people I met on the street!img_3413I even brought my yarn to the march with me (because I am a goody-two-shoes who likes to follow rules, so I get a lot of nervous energy at things like this).wp_20170121_11_26_41_pro(I actually finished this hat on the train back from the march, and gave away the one I was wearing as we left downtown!)

It was an amazing day, and I’ve really been enjoying all the coverage of the marches around the world- it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, we’re going to be OK.

And, to keep the spirit of the Women’s March alive, I’ve been putting on my Pussyhat every morning and calling my Congresswomen (and trying to call the Whitehouse- though their phone system seems to be down most of the time).  I’m not great at talking to strangers, and talking on the phone gives me anxiety, but I’m doing it anyway.  If you want to join me- you can find your Congresspeople here.  (Or, email me your address, and I’ll find their numbers for you!) Call them!  Let you know what you’re thinking!  Wear your pink hats with pride!

Give me a K!

Give me an N!

Give me an I!

Give me a T!

What’s that spell?

Knit!

What are we going to do?

Knit!

img_4420I’ve got my pom-poms out, and I’m cheering you on (sure, they’re not cheerleader pompoms, but you get the idea)!  You can do it!  You’ve got 4 days left (5, if you do your gift exchange in the evening) for your Christmas knitting!  And you’ve got this!img_4433Knit! Purl! Yarn over!  Drink that extra cup of coffee so you can stay up to “just finish this section.”  Your boss won’t mind if you’re a little late for work, I’m sure they’d understand you just had to get to the cuff.  And, remember that red lights and grocery store lines are really just wasted time, unless you bring your knitting with you.

I believe in you!

Dear Christmas Knitting,

img_3557Dear Christmas Knitting,

Hi.  It’s me.  We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately, and I think I need to get some things off my chest.

When we started, almost six months ago, everything was great.  We got along great.  It felt like we had all the time in the world.  Everything was easy, fun, even.  I enjoyed spending time with you, and planning the projects for everyone on my list.

But then, something happened over the course of months.  It was a slow change.  Instead of looking forward to spending an hour or two with you every evening, you became a chore.  I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but that’s what happened.  You know it, and I know it.

And now, this close to Christmas, we’ve been spending every free moment together, working hard to make our deadline.  I’ve been feeling the crunch as the due date looms closer.  Of course I’ll stick with you to the finish, but then… I think we might be done.

I don’t think we’ll be doing this again next year.  I think I might just go shopping for Christmas gifts, or possibly some nice gift cards.    Sure, I’ve said this before, but this year I mean it.  For real.  I promise.

Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll see you next year.

-Allison

Bulletin

I make a lot of swatches.  I’m not religious about it when I’m working someone else’s pattern, but swatching is an absolute must when designing.  I think of them sort of as a sketch, a way to get my ideas out into the world.  Maybe I’ll have a really great idea, but it ends up looking really bad when knit up.  Or maybe the swatch will reveal a design flaw that I didn’t foresee.   Or, I start swatching, and I come up with an idea that is even better than my original one.

Long story short, I have a big stack of swatches.  Several dozen at least.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away, and they’re too varied to be sewn together into a blanket or anything useful.  All different sizes, shapes, and weights.  Some have been turned into fully-realized patterns, and some never got out of the planning stage, but I like them all.

And I can’t throw them away.

For a long time I had them strung up on the back of my closet door.  But it started to look messy (actually mess, not messy-on-pupose in a Pinterest-y kind of way).

So, I got some great big bulletin boards, and have started pinning up some of my swatches.  And, you know.  I think it looks pretty good.img_3951It’s fun to see all my ideas laid out like that.  Some of these are only ever going to be swatches, some are patterns that have been published already, and some turned into patterns that are going to be released in the future.  (Don’t ask me to tell you which are which!  It’ll be a surprise!)

I think Ollie likes my bulletin boards, too.  (HA!  He couldn’t care less, but he did like the box the boards came in.)img_3957What do you do with your swatches?  Do you keep them? Unravel them? Throw them away?  Or, do you not bother with swatches to begin with?

Knitting with Kids

I’ve mentioned my job before- I teach kids’ arts-and-crafts classes after school at local elementary schools.  Mostly, I teach classes where kids learn to use a sewing machine (hopefully safely), and learn basic construction.  It’s pretty great.

But from time to time, I get to teach something else.  This summer, it was jewelry making.  Last spring, it was quilting.  This semester, it’s knitting!

I love knitting (obviously), and teaching kids knitting is kind of the best.  I have nine kids in my class, and I’d say three-quarters of them are actually really into making stuff with yarn.  (The other quarter is really into making pompoms and trying to see how big of a mess they can make.  But that’s kind of par for the course of teaching elementary-aged kids.)

I love seeing how creative kids can be.  You’ve seen one of my student’s pumpkin.  (I still think it’s possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.)wp_20161025_16_28_22_proBut we’ve had all sorts of stuff made in this class!  Tiny blankets for dolls, bracelets, mini scarves, a stuffed bunny, and even finger-less gloves.

We’ve even had a couple kids make hats, using a knitting loom (a fantastic invention for little hands who have trouble wrangling needles and yarn).  One girl made a hot pink hat that ended up being a little too small for her head because she has amazingly curly hair, so she’s making another one, bigger this time.  Too cute!

And a different girl made this hat for her little brother.  She did it all on her own, with no help from me.  Can you guess what it is?wp_20161108_16_40_50_proIt’s a frog hat!  Of course!  Isn’t it amazing? A six-year-old came up with the idea for this hat and managed to execute it all on her own. So impressive!

I’m going to miss this class when it’s over in a few weeks.

Do you eve knit with kids?  What kinds of projects do you work on together?

Something For You To Do Tomorrow

I went out to dinner with some friends over the weekend, and (because it’s November 2016) we started talking about the election.  I know, us and literally everyone else.  I said that I had already voted, and one of my friends said that, *sigh*, he supposed he had to vote this year.  To which I replied, “No, you get to vote.”

Which made me sound like a stuck-up civics-class Dudley Do-Right (who is Canadian, but the point still stands).th2w5nxwfkVoting and politics have always been really important in my life, and it’s always weird to meet someone who is apathetic about the election.  I suppose I can give credit to my parents, especially my dad, who has been a professor of Political Science since I was itty-bitty.  We always talked about politics and government at the dinner table.

For my 11th birthday, my dad took me on a road trip to Washington DC to watch Bill Clinton get sworn in.  DC is very cold in January, but it was still a pretty amazing day.  I still have the campaign victory button that dad bought me as a birthday gift.

Some of my earliest memories are going with Mom when she went to vote in our school gym.  I loved closing the velvet curtain, and Mom even let me fill in some of the bubbles for her, which may or may not have been a crime… oops!

In high school, I remember leaving school early one day to go watch Al Gore talk at a local university- not as an assignment or a class trip, just because I wanted to go with my parents. (Yes, I am a bit of a nerd.)

And, a little over 8 years ago, I was there (again in the freezing cold) when Obama announced his candidacy for president on the steps of the Old Illinois State Capitol Building.

I’ve voted in every major election since I turned 18, and a lot of the minor ones, too (especially since I moved to Washington, where they do all their voting by mail, so it’s super easy).  I even caucused for Hillary Clinton during the primaries this spring!  It was a very weird experience, to announce to a whole room of strangers who you were voting for after a lifetime of secret ballots.

af2c1e80-f14c-4d3e-844d-99287e77e5cbI won’t tell you how to vote this year (though my opinions are pretty obvious), but I want you to understand how important elections are, and how amazing it is that we live in a country that lets us vote.  I know it sometimes seems futile (“How can one vote matter one way or the other”), or that it is a pain to take time off work or wait in line at the polling place, but it really is a privilege.  So, please vote tomorrow.i-voted-sticker1(And if you’re not living in the US, sorry for all the election talk… I promise I’ll be back to knitting on Wednesday.)

Dolls with Arne and Carlos

Last weekend, I did something really cool.

I got to meet Arne and Carlos!

(Of course I didn’t get any pictures, because… introvert.)

Arne and Carlos were in town for the Nordic Knitting Conference, and my mom and I spent Saturday in their Knitted Dolls class, where they walked us through their ridiculously cute doll pattern.img_3561They were fantastic teachers, and really nice people who took time to talk to everyone in the class.   They even signed everyone’s books!  (If you read Norwegian, let me know what this says… based on my high-school German and context clues, I think it says something about knitting, but I’m not sure.)img_3564The dolls are worked from their toes up, and I managed to almost get my legs finished in class.img_3583And, I’ve been working on the rest of my doll since then.  She’s still missing most of her head (which is a little creepy), but she’s coming along well.  I ended up making her super girly, but that’s OK.  I love her little blue top and stripey tights.  And who doesn’t love a pair of bright red shoes?

img_3574I’ve got a big pile of yarn in almost every color of the rainbow for this project.  So my next step is to decide what color to use for her hair (do I want her to be blonde?  Red-head? Or maybe she should have purple hair?).  And, of course, I need to make some clothes for my not-so-little dolly!img_3557This pattern is so much fun!  It’s not as fast as I thought it would be- my doll is probably going to be close to 18″ tall- but I am having a great time knitting her up.  And the clothes!  Who doesn’t like knitting miniature sweaters in every color of the rainbow?

Have you ever knit an Arne and Carlos pattern?  What did you make?

Christmas Is Coming

Oops!  I totally spaced, you guys.  I was going to give you a 100-day warning about Christmas, but… I forgot.

So this is your warning.

81 days until Christmas.christmas-bmo[1]I’m so sorry.  I know it’s early- Halloween isn’t eve here yet.  But, we’re knitters, and Christmas Knitting is our Superbowl- you can never prepare for it too much.  So get out your Christmas giving lists, dig through your stash, and start trolling Ravelry for good gift ideas.

Good luck!