Year in Review, part One

So, it’s already February and I’m just now pushing myself to look at the year of 2013. Whew, where the hell did it go? It was an incredibly rewarding year, and at the same time quite trying. I learned lots about life and business. My fingers flew across the knitting needles constantly. After putting my sweet black lab, Olivia to rest in the fall of 2012, Kirk and I adopted an adult yellow lab, Suzy this past summer. I traveled across the ocean for the first time, signed my first book deal, and signed a contract with my husband for our first house; lots of firsts! For your viewing pleasure, here are some snippets of the year 2013 in my life which you may or may not care about:

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TNNA, Long Beach, February 2013. Good times. My awesome boss, Yonca Ozbelli and I made our first trip together and got to know one another a little better. We got to escape cold Charlotte to warmer weather in admittedly seedy Long Beach. And when I say “cold” Charlotte weather, I mean, like, 50 degrees. In February. Yep, I’m from Iowa and I know that sounds ridiculous.

 

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In February, I finally unpacked my favorite xmas gift from my favoritest friend in the whole world, Sarah H: Zombie magnets. Highly recommended. But I don’t have children, so if you do, maybe you should stick with the poetry version. It feels kind of bandwagony to love zombies, but I don’t care. I just don’t.

 

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In March, I was treated by my employers to a trip to Cologne, Germany. It happened to be my birthday, so I thought of it as the best birthday present, EVER! Airports in Europe are friendlier to smokers which I really appreciated, especially after a gazillion hour flight with some not so great company. I found German bathrooms really odd. They have these weird push buttons to flush, or at least the ones in the airport did. There also happened to be a Starbucks just around the corner from our hotel, right next to the pretzel stand. Oh, happy days. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about feeling my spirits lift when I see a Starbucks in unfamiliar territory. Like a walking cliche. But I’m over it. Mochas rock.

 

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The point of the trip was actually not my birthday, but the annual Handarbeit craft and hobby show. That place was lousy with awesomeness, let me tell you. It was maybe half yarn, half fabric and other assorted crafty goodness. I’m not just a knitter and crocheter, but I also love to sew clothing and quilt. I wandered around for hours taking covert pictures and being incredibly inspired.

 

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When I wasn’t wandering around the show pretending to be an American LYS store owner so I could spy, I was busy tearing up clothing shops, touring the ugliest yet most magnificent cathedral you’ve ever seen (the Dom), and eating sausage chased with German beer out of a giant mug. The bad part about Cologne in March: it’s really freaking cold. Like, midwest in March cold. But who am I to complain, really?

 

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After I got back from Germany it appeared Kirk had done no grocery shopping. We had almost no food in the house, so Kirk made hot dogs with crescent roll buns, topped with chili and corn. They were actually pretty good.

 

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Aforementioned awesome friend Sarah H. visited in April. Our fun times included meeting this giant St Bernard and visiting the Mint Museum. The Mint has a great permanent craft floor. I’ve been there a few times and will continue to go.

 

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Kirk and I continue to develop our passion for the best thing about The South: Bojangles fried chicken. Seriously. It’s BO time!

 

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After having been in the NASCAR capital of the world for about a year in May of 2013, Kirk and I decided it was time to immerse ourselves fully. The best part: BYOB. Really! Aside from that, it was pretty much what you’d expect. There were very red necks, yelling, boob cleavage, the works. I’m pretty sure I scratched my NASCAR itch for life with that one trip. But if we do happen to be crazy enough to go again, I’m definitely springing for prime seating.

 

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My first batch of fingerless gloves ready to send to the photographer! Yay! More on this process in posts to come.

 

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In June, we adopted Suzy, a very energetic 2 1/2 year old yellow lab. A friend of a coworker was looking to adopt her out because she found out her young son was allergic to dogs. She’s a “dudley” variety of yellow lab features as we could see due to her lighter nose and eye features. Yellow labs usually have black noses and other features. But if they have chocolate lab in their background they can be dudleys. Dudley. I just like saying it. Suzy is not the cuddlemonster Olivia was, but she is much more athletic and outgoing which is refreshing. Before we finally got fed up with the pit bull attacks at the dog park, Kirk was taking Suzy several times a week where she was able to chase and be chased to her heart’s content. For now, she’s having to settle for two monkeys to wrestle with and walks in the woods instead.

 

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I was stuck in traffic one day in June with yarn and no knitting needles, so I was forced to discover the joys of knitting with pencils. I have this habit of tucking a pencil behind my ear at work and then forgetting about it until I get in my car to head home. So I have quite the stash of sharpened pencils in my car cup holder.

 

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TNNA, Columbus, June 2013. Apparently the most memorable things I had to take a photo of were my scallops and hotel knitting.

ADDD

Yes, you read it right: ADDD. Attention design deficit disorder.

Mostly, I enjoy designing garments. I love sweaters with an interest detail or two, but still very wearable. I want to enjoy what I’m knitting, but what I love most about hand-made items is function. First and foremost, it must be destined for use!

Oh, but I love a satisfying quick accessory project, too! Cowls, berets, fingerless mitts. And stripes, I can never have enough!

I like cables and fair-isle. I love to do intarsia and intricate lace. There’s nothing like interesting construction; inside out, sideways, picked up stitches off an edge. And colorwork-did I mention I love fair-isle? Embroidery, twisted stitches, dropped stitches, pleats and ruffles: bring it on! And texture, and, and…

It didn’t occur to me until just the other day, that I have pieces in 4 fall issues of different knitting magazines! I guess I was more productive than I realized about 6 months ago. These 4 pieces are all very dissimilar, and very much represent the kind of designer I am: ADDD.

The first of these fall pieces appears in Knitscene Fall, 2012.

Rizzed Raglan

Rizzed (“ribbed” + “zipper”), is a top down, seamless ribbed raglan, featuring a zipper at one of the raglan seams. It also contains one of my favorite details in clothing, the thumbhole. I am 34, and am pretty sure I’m not going to get tired of thumbholes any time soon.

Next up: Pirouette Gloves

One of the inspiration themes for this issue of Interweave Knits had to do with felting. I can’t tell you exactly how I ended up with this design. It doesn’t especially reflect my personal style, although the colors I swatched in were black and white, which would be closer to what I’d wear. I wanted to design a felted piece, but I had never actually felted anything! Certainly, I understood the concept behind felting, and that knowing gauge before and after the felting process is crucial. A small project of some sort seemed like a good bet. And, hey, what about a project that was both felted and non felted? What sort of item might that be? Oh, how about cuffs on a pair of gloves? Oooh, and they should have a keyhole! Ooooh, and the cuffs should be layered, and when you wear them, it’ll look like you have a miniature ballerina on your hand!

I love how Interweave ended up styling little Pirouette Gloves. As you can see, my original colors were changed to a more muted palette, and more in line with Interweave’s distinctive good taste. Per usual, when I’m working on a piece involving buttons, I took the finished gloves with me to purchase the buttons, spent an hour holding up a variety next to the gloves, and ended up leaving the store with at least 5 different options. I laid a different button on each glove, put them in separate rooms, and walked by them occasionally. After several days of this, the choice was eventually narrowed down to vintage orange round buttons. It kind of makes them look like they belong in a vegetable garden, picking turnips or something, no?

Coming soon, installment 3 of my exciting fall ADDD collection…

New Knitscene Stuff!

Another issue of Knitscene, and another two new patterns to show for it!

The new Knitscene Accessories (premier accessories issue) is jam-packed with shawls, mitts, hats, and loads of technique info. In addition to my two pattern contributions, I even wrote an article on Dropped Stitches! So, like, I totally can’t believe I’ve authored an informative article on a knitting technique; what a great experience! I do enjoy writing, although I do very little these days. I tend to be tersely spoken in real life, and getting things out in words on a page is therapeutic.

So, for the patterns:

Sideways Argyle Beret is, you guessed it, worked sideways! It begins with a provisional cast on and is shaped with short-row segments. The best part about the flat knitting, as opposed to standard in-the-round hat construction, is the ability to do colorwork via the intarsia method! Many, if not most knitters seem to be put off by the technique. I hope this small project encourages some folks who haven’t yet tried intarsia to give ‘er a whirl.

 

Next we have Deconstructed Mitts. Also worked sideways, these fingerless wristers feature a single dropped stitch that serves as a thumbhole and just general edgy coolness. It’s a simple, quick project that is a great way to practice a provisional cast-on, grafting, and dropping stitches.

This is a great project for using up a small amount of leftover worsted weight yarn, too!

A champagne lesson (with a small amount of knitting talk)

So, I’m in the process of moving cross-country. I’m already here in Charlotte (yes, as in North Carolina, the new anti-gay state–boo!!), but Kirk and Olivia are still back in Iowa City. Things are pretty chaotic at the moment; I’m now living in a rental house while we do some house hunting for something not quite so “subdivision” as the rental house is. I have no furniture, not even a single chair. I did splurge and spend 7 bucks on a camping mat so I’m not totally “roughing it”.

My set-up includes: coffee maker, refrigerator well stocked with beer, frozen burritos, and condiments; camping mat and suitcases upstairs in the bedroom, and temporary craft room in the dining area. I am moving to Charlotte for a yarn related job (yay, exciting!), so I have come well stocked with knitting books, all my needles and crochet hooks, plenty of yarn, my swift and ball winder, etc, etc. Because all my other stuff is still back in Iowa, I have no table on which to attach the swift and ball winder. Bummer! The kitchen counters are too thick for the clamps, but luckily there is a spare bathroom with a counter-top sink that is the perfect thickness. So I currently have a really awesome bathroom/yarn ball winding room. I could, like, wind a yarn ball, and then jump in the shower, and I’d only have to walk 2 feet; how convenient!

Anyway, back on topic. So, a couple of weeks ago, Kirk and were busy packing boxes. Moving is something I’ve done a fair amount of over the past 15 years, but every time I do it, memories are stirred; old photos and books, childhood stuffed animals, knickknacks…

Something I’ve been moving around with me for many years, is a bottle of Dom Perignon, 1985.

 

This was a gift from my old friend, Brendan Lynch, for my 19th birthday. (Brendan, are you out there?) It also came with a sweet Scottish tweed newsboy cap that I still wear today. As many times as I’ve been desperate for a drink of booze at 3 a.m. over the years (after 2 am when stores in Iowa stop selling), I never did break down and bust out the Dom. I think I wanted to save it for some sort of special occasion. Although I’ve had a few of those over the years, I have somehow managed to¬† refrain from opening this bottle.

It was a night or two before I was to set out on my 20 hour drive from Iowa to The South, that Kirk suggested we open the champagne. Just for fun, he checked online to see how much a bottle from the year 1985 was selling for; something like 200 bucks, he found out. Well, gosh, that was exciting! We were about to consume sought after, expensive beverages!

I let Kirk do the honors. Pardon the crappy pictures of our rental house, particularly around moving time.

Ooooh, we have foam. And bubbles! Vintage bubbles!

Now, unfortunately the photo chronicle ends here. If I had kept going as I should have, I would now insert a picture of Kirk with an unpleasant, scrunched up look on his face as he takes his first sip. The flavor experience from this vintage beverage is not what it should have been. It was sour and kind of rotten tasting. That didn’t actually stop me from trying several small sips, just to make sure this was actually happening. I’m not the classiest person ever, after all, and thought maybe people who actually drink this stuff prefer stinky champagne. But, alas, it was determined our lower class taste buds were correct in their assessment that this bottle of garbage was, in fact, trashed.

The problem, my friends, is bottle storage. Specifically, this bottle was stored upright at times, keeping the cork from staying wet. This is what ultimately killed the Dom. How was I to know? I’m just a vodka drinking simpleton from Iowa.

The one-liner of wisdom for the day: always keep your cork wet.