Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Pattern Release: Elodia Mitts

I realize the great irony that is publishing a pattern for fingerless mitts when it's so cold outside that frostbite can happen very quickly, but nevertheless, here it is!

It's amazing how little changes can make such a big difference: I originally used this stitch pattern in a sock design. When that was released, I heard nothing but crickets. Perhaps the yarn I used wasn't ideal for showing off the lace; perhaps there were more popular patterns released at the same time that were grabbing all the attention. Whatever it was, the socks have never sold well or gotten much love, but I still love the stitch pattern. I thought it might make sense to use it again on an item that would be more visible, and you can imagine my surprise at how popular my teaser photos were on Instagram. (My tech editor joked that perhaps the socks might've sold better if I'd modeled them on my hands!) I like to think that this gorgeous yarn has something to do with it. This is Murky Depths Deep Sock in a colorway called Salted Caramel -- a colorway that can look so different depending on the light. It had an almost greenish tint when we took the photo above in the dining room, but it's more of a caramel brown in our bedroom:

See? I think it's a bit magic.

These mitts come in three hand sizes, roughly a woman's small, medium, and large. You'll need 170 yards/155.5 meters or less (depending on the size you make) of fingering weight yarn, plus three stitch markers, a yarn needle, and a bit of waste yarn. The lace pattern is both written and charted, and the whole thing has been tech edited. You can find all the details over on the pattern page on Ravelry.

Eventually I'm planning a hat to match the mitts (that will likely be the next new project on the needles), but for now you can get this pattern on its own:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Comfort Spinning

I was promised a snowstorm this weekend, and I made plans to pretty much hibernate indoors while it lasted. What was forecast, however, didn't quite end up happening. We got a ton of rain yesterday afternoon and then evening, and then overnight the temperature dropped and it turned to snow. We woke up to cold and messy roads. Unfortunately we had to go out in it to do our weekly grocery shopping, but we've been staying inside since then.

My spinning wheels are set up in the corner of our bedroom that's right next to our radiator, so between that, wool socks, and a thick sweater, I've been staying nice and toasty. And I'm making good progress on the second skein of my combo spin!

I finished up the first bobbin earlier this week:

And over the past couple of days, I've made it about halfway through the second:

This evening I've got some knitting to do, but I have another day off tomorrow and plan to spend at least part of it at the wheel!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Three on Thursday

It has been a long week that seems to be dragging by, and I'm very much looking forward to the long weekend (all of us are off on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day).

I've continued to spend a little time here and a little time there on my WIPs. My socks are moving right along, thanks to some bonus daytime knitting. I usually only work on them during my lunch break, but thanks to a webinar and a conference call this week, I was able to sneak in some extra time (my door is closed and I'm paying attention, and no one is the wiser).

I also have a new WIP, a hat I cast on Tuesday night with the hopes of replacing the brioche hat I've been wearing this winter. It's a hat I like but that has turned out to not be too warm when it's been really cold here, so I decided something with stranded colorwork would be a better option. I am knitting my friend Fay (aka UkeeKnits)'s Alder pattern using two skeins of Knit Picks Swish Worsted, one skein leftover from the Mister's sweater and one that I ordered for making charity hats.

The photo isn't great (thanks, gloomy weather!), but I think it's good enough to see that the contrast isn't great. If I finish and I'm not wild about it, then this'll go in the charity pile and I'll knit something else for me.

My third WIP of the week (if you can call it that) has been my reading. Toward the beginning of the week, I finished up The Ragged Edge of Night, which I'd bought on a whim thanks to an Amazon recommendation. I actually really enjoyed it. It's a World War II story from a perspective I haven't read very often, that of a German citizen who opposes Hitler. While the writing is beautiful, I thought the story was a little far-fetched until I read the author's note at the end and found out that it is largely a true story. I ended up giving the book five stars.

Now I've moved onto some more difficult, thoughtful reading, in the form of Michael Eric Dyson's What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America. I saw that Kat had recommended it in the wake about the discussion of racism within the fiber arts community, and my library hold on it came up surprisingly quickly. I'm hoping to finish it later today, though I expect it will take me longer to fully digest what I've read. I'll admit that there are many sections in this book where I haven't felt smart enough to fully understand what Dyson is saying, but I feel like I've expanded my understanding and gain some much-needed perspective.

We're expecting a big winter storm to hit us this weekend, so I plan to curl up with my reading, my knitting, and my spinning and relax. If you're in the storm's path as well, stay warm and stay safe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

WIP Skipping

While crafting mojo is high these days, project monogamy is not. I've been skipping from one WIP to another lately -- not so much because I'm bored but because I like the variety.

Over the weekend, it was all about small circumference knitting. First, because there was such a great response to the first one on Instagram, I knit up my second fingerless mitt to finish the pair.

Obviously they are not yet blocked, but that will happen this evening, and then a proper photo shoot (in real daylight) needs to happen. These are my own design and are already with my tech editor, who has promised to get the pattern back to me ASAP as she wants to knit a pair herself! I don't think I mentioned when I discussed my intentions for the year that my goal for my designing was to reach 100 published patterns by year's end. I'm currently at 87, so that means 13 new designs or roughly one a month. If the timing works out, these mitts will be my release for January.

On Saturday, we had the great luck/good fortune to be able to go see a performance of Hamilton here in Pittsburgh. As excited as I was to see the show, I know that I am not able to sit through anything without something to do with my hands (without knitting, that inevitably means I end up biting my nails), so I took a sock in progress with me. This sock is the one I started on the way to Florida back at the end of December; I hadn't touched it since finishing the gusset decreases on the flight home more than a week ago. It turned out to be the perfect project to bring along, and by the end of the show, I was only half an inch shy of being able to start the toe. I finished up the rest of it during my lunch break yesterday (so please excuse the industrial carpet backdrop):

The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Dyer's Favorites 2018; the stripes are the colors Lisa used most often in her dyeing last year. The skein came with a mini skein of white with speckles of the same colors used in the stripes, and I opted to use it for the heel and toe. The second sock was cast on this morning.

Finally, I'm still slogging away at my Floozy, and I've come to accept that it's just going to be a long-term WIP that will get finished someday. While the knitting right now isn't terribly exciting, it is easy and mindless, so I put in a few (long) rows last night while reading.

I've still got quite a long way to go on the body, but that's okay. It will get done when it gets done, even if it's the middle of the summer.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Spinning Thoughts

For once this post isn't about my thoughts about my spinning; rather it's about the thoughts that have been spinning through my head the past few days.

I know we like to think of the fiber arts community as one in which everyone is kind, helpful, and accepting. Sadly, as many of us have discovered in the past week, that is not the case. Just as it does everywhere, racism exists in the fiber arts community. Many BIPOC who are fiber artists have spoken out in the past week about their experiences and have called out racism where they have seen it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest you start by googling "Karen Templer India blog post" and see what comes up. There's a lot to read and a lot to take in.

I've been thinking about how to respond, if at all, to this discussion and to the larger issue. On the one hand, I am a white woman, with all the privilege that entails, and in a general way, I am part of the problem. It doesn't feel like my place to say anything because it's not my story to tell. On the other hand, I also feel like it is my duty to use the privilege I do have to raise up and amplify the voices of those who don't have it and who are hurt by racism, intentional or not.

What it comes down to for me is this: I want to live in a world where everyone is respected for their inherent value, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, who they love, or what they believe. And part of respecting people is believing them when they say they feel victimized, discriminated against, or upset. It is not my job to lead or steer the conversation; my job is to listen, to take the words to heart, to learn, and to grow. I didn't earn the privilege I have, but if I do have it, at least I can use it to help those who struggle to get their voices heard, who are taken for granted, who are misjudged and mistreated.

I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about this situation or that I am without fault. I'm sure I have unfairly judged people based on some aspect of who they are, whether that is their skin color, how they speak, or even what yarn they use. I am constantly working on myself and trying to be a better ally and advocate. So please do call me out if I do or say someone that is offensive. Please do tell me what I can do to make our community more inclusive for all. Please do suggest books or articles or blog posts I can read to continue to educate myself. And please do continue to share your experiences if you've been a victim of racism in our community. We can only change if we are honest and open and if we are actively seeking the change. And I truly hope we will be.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Knitting Season

I woke up this morning to a cold, snowy day. Though earlier in the week we had unseasonably warm weather and, if you can believe it, thunderstorms, it seems nature has remembered that it's January and returned us to winter. My skin has remembered as well, so I'm back to slathering on the lotion multiple times a day after getting a brief reprieve thanks to the humidity in Florida. (As an aside, I was complaining the other night about how dry my skin was, and the Mister asked me if there was a pill I could take to fix that. If only!)

While I don't enjoy feeling cold, dry, and itchy all the time, this weather is very good for my knitting mojo! I'm really not content to just wear my handknits during the winter; I also want to have a lap full of wool whenever possible. And I've been working on my WIPs and casting on new projects as a result.

I'm closing in on a finished mitt thanks to my lunchtime knitting at work this week, and I'm very pleased with how it's turning out.

I cast on a new project on Tuesday night that unfortunately I can't show you (it's a new design for a third-party publisher, so it has to stay secret until it's been released), but it's moving along rather quickly, too.

Then there is the sock in progress that got a good amount of attention on the flight home last weekend but hasn't been touched since. It will get a fair amount added to the foot this weekend, though, because we are going to see Hamilton!

Some of the knitting this week has happened while reading, and as a result, I managed to finish Warlight last night. I'm still processing my feelings about it, but for now I'll say that while I thought it was good, it was nowhere near as good as I expected it to be. So it's back to Michelle Obama's Becoming for my bedtime reading and a new book, The Ragged Edge of Night, for when I'm out and about.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Back to Work

I am back to work in my full-time job and back to work at designing. Though I took two skeins of yarn meant for future designs on vacation with me, I never did anything with them beyond unpacking and then repacking them. So on Sunday night, I finally pulled one of the skeins out and cast on for the next pattern sample, and I've been working on it during my lunch break at the office the last two days.

This pattern is for a pair of fingerless mitts, and I've adapted a stitch pattern from a previous design. I'll be making a hat to match as well. The yarn is from Murky Depths Dyeworks, a new-to-me dyer. Debbie contacted me last year on Instagram to see if I would be interested in using her yarn to design with. I looked at her Etsy shop and fell in love with this colorway. It's called Salted Caramel and is much prettier in real life -- and pretty much impossible to capture accurately on camera. The above picture was taken in the middle of the day when it was sunny, but not in direct light. Here's what it looks like in full sun:

I'd describe it as a golden brown with greenish undertones. It's delicious, quite frankly, and I'm very pleased with how this sample is knitting up so far.

Before we left Florida, I did manage to finish the yoke of my Floozy cardigan and split off the sleeve stitches, so now I'm in the long slog of the body. I've spent at least a couple hours on it since the split and only have a little more than an inch or so of fabric to show for it, so I may have to designate this my 2019 Rhinebeck sweater to ensure it'll get done.

Though I haven't had much time for reading the past few days, I finally did get to the top of the wait list for Warlight at the library and am about 10% in. I'm not yet far enough along to evaluate the story itself, but the writing is lovely and I'm certainly enjoying it. I just hope I can squeeze in a few extra hours to read this week so I can get through it before the library snatches it back!