Something Fishy

As much as I’ve been enjoying designing this past year, I really miss my “free” knitting time. Don’t get me wrong, I like making money. And I love developing new ideas. But sometimes, I dig on the relaxation of picking up somebody else’s pattern, one that she or he spent many hours on crunching numbers and ironing out wrinkles, and just follow instructions. I know that most likely I will not have to bother myself with the pesky task of thinking. I can just focus on important topics such as, “What kind of pizza should I have tonight?”, or, “I really should focus on adding more clothing to my wardrobe that is not black.”

A few months ago, my mother in law asked if I could make another fish hat for a friend’s grandson. You know, the uber-famous Knitty pattern, Fish Hat (Dead or Alive)? I was finally between projects and had some spare time this past week to whip up Fish Hat #3. Fish Hat is an ideal fun knitting project. It’s small and uses worsted weight scraps. There are no charts to follow. You, the knitter, get to make design choices regarding stripes and/or patterning. It’s a fish. It’s a fish hat. Freaking awesomeness.

As you can see, Olivia has taken a real liking to this latest fish hat. (She was pretty upset when I took it out of snuggle-reach)

Just like thousands of other demented knitters, upon first discovery, I was instantly drawn to the fish-shaped hat with x’ed out eyes. I made my first one a couple of christmases ago for my niece, Madelyn. I was unsure at the time about the appropriateness of gifting a dead, mutant fish hat to a baby. After careful pondering, I decided it was really the perfect gift for a young child; kind of a first primer into the sick ways of the world. (Actually, in the year since, I’ve noticed that babies don’t pay attention to such oddities nearly as much as uptight grown-ups do.)

Madelyn’s cousin, Drew, reportedly had a serious case of fish hat envy after seeing it on a visit one weekend. Upon hearing this, it immediately became clear to me what Drew’s x-mas gift would be the next year. Drew is very hyper, so I decided the most appropriate version of fish hat would be the craziest I could muster.

Back at that time, when I was pretty new to knitting, I was using a lot of upcycled (fancy way of saying “used”) yarn. This was also before the time when I owned a swift and ball winder. My OCD tendencies really thrived on the time-consuming activity of picking apart seams of a thrifted sweater, unravelling, washing, and rewinding the yarn into balls. All by hand. Very time consuming; I loved it! But then, I discovered it’s actually much easier and more enjoyable to knit with yarn that has some twist in it. So I made a homemade drop spindle out of a dowel, a CD, and a hook, and started twisting my used yarn. Much better! And it only took, like, a thousand hours! So, yeah. That obsession didn’t last more than a year.

Um, anyway, maybe I’ll get back to the topic of reusing yarn at some point; I could go on and on. And on.

So, for Drew’s hat, I grabbed every crazy thrifted, unravelled sweater yarn I could find, and combined them all for the hat I called, “31 Flavors.” It actually has 31 different yarns in it.

Regrettably, there is no action shot.

And now, after revisiting the chronicles of the three fish hats, I’m having some pretty serious fish hat envy, myself. Next time I have a lull in knitting, I think I’m finally going to make one for myself.

And you-how many fish hats have you made?

Challenge: Dog-proof my coffee table

Meet my 8 year-old black labrador, Olivia.

In people years, that would be 56. But in black lab years, that would be right around…2. Olivia is the nicest, sweetest, most snuggly dog you could ever hope to have as a companion. But her comprehension and motor skills are, well, not especially well developed.

Meet my coffee table.

I purchased this table at the Salvation Army (or Goodwill, or some other thrift store) for three dollars about 15 years ago. The swirly mosaic design you see here is the second reincarnation of the table top. It used to be trees. I got sick of the trees, so now we have swirls. Anyway, see the legs, here? They’re simple and attractive and hold the table off the floor. See Olivia? Whose legs are drawn as though by a magnetic force to the space in between the open table legs? Yes? Then you see my problem. Olivia has an uncanny ability to get her legs stuck in the table legs, making her yowl in pain, and causing those around us scramble to free her, and hope there isn’t a huge vet bill about to be incurred.

I don’t want to get rid of the table, and Olivia is certainly not going anywhere. So, I need to engineer a fix for the table legs so poor Olivia doesn’t get stuck again; it upsets her terribly! I also don’t want to just wrap a bunch of duct tape around the legs, because that would be really ugly.

The challenge: Come up with an attractive, low-cost solution to above described problem.

Your reward: A free copy of my Tangerine Trifle scarf pattern and a skein of Ella Rae lace merino in your desired color

Leave your solution in the comments by the end of the day, Feb. 28. I’ll choose a winner and notify her/him by the first couple of days in March. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Also: no knitted table leg cozies. The thought did occur to me, but I already have enough knitting to last until the middle of next year!

So damn important, I finally started a website

Er, can you tell I feel a little weird about this whole blogging thing?

I’ve been doing knitting design for less than a year now, not too long. In March of 2011, I released my first pattern, Jailbird. It sold well, but I pulled it a couple of months ago because I decided I wasn’t happy about the clarity of a couple of areas in the pattern. I plan on cleaning those up and re-releasing it soon. Note to new designers: hire a tech editor. Just suck it up and do it! Even if your reading, writing, and general comprehension skills are top notch, believe me, you’ve missed something.

So anyway, it occurred to me at some point after that first pattern release, that I planned on doing this for awhile. It also occurred to me that nearly every other designer had her own website or blog, and that I enjoyed checking out my favorites. Then, last month, a tennis friend of mine who knits emailed me:


I could not believe when I saw you name – I know somebody famous! Will be looking for your patterns in the upcoming issues.


8 Designers to Watch in 2012: Knitscene’s Hot List

She had sent me this link to one of Lisa Shroyer’s (editor of Knitscene) blog posts, in which Lisa makes a list of people who are apparently totally awesome, and decided I was one of them. I still have stars in my eyes. Oh yeah, and every single one of the other 7 really cool chicks had a blog or website. So, here we are. I have conformed.

I honestly don’t feel it’s deserved. Since I’ve been on the knitting design scene, I have seen the number of knitting designers grow crazy fast. Most of these people are really freaking talented, too. I try to spend more time knitting and less time on the computer drooling over pretty sweaters. But once I start looking at all the fantastic, smart knitting designs out there, I find it hard to stop.

The differences in how people see the world and interpret them into knitting, words, or other ideas is endlessly fascinating to me. A younger, less mature version of myself would have been threatened being amidst all this talent! But I really love it; the camaraderie, inspiration, and encouragement I’ve experienced in the knitting design community has been a dear experience so far. I’m learning to focus on what I truly “see”.

I can’t tell you what direction this blog is going to take. I plan on visiting regularly and writing stuff that is hopefully interesting to you/us. I’ll try not to swear too much, and make a concerted effort to at least keep the swearing interesting. If I ever make a grammatical error, you should definitely point it out to me and give me a really hard time; I would do the same for you.