You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

Well it is official — I am no longer going to be laid off in the near future, I resigned instead.  I have a new (not knitting related) job, and I will be moving to Regina next month.  I feel so happy that the ambiguity is over, and I get to move to  a new city which I love (I love new cities in general not Regina yet[?]).

I am absolutely smitten with the Golden Willow already and can’t wait to check out Hip 2 Knit.

(Knitting content to return soon)

I have started to exert more efforts to rationalize my life.  One of the steps has been to hire a sample knitter — it really doesn’t get any better than this.  I keep telling people because I am pleased as punch with myself, but I think they all think I am cheating.

I just find that I end up knitting two of everything as the sample always needs to be in different yarn from the original.  I can’t produce more than I am now, but I have more ideas than I know what to do with.  In my head I am always about five projects ahead of the one I am knitting.

It is wonderfully freeing, but I had the hardest time passing over the yarn for the first project.  It takes a big leap of faith.

Overall I am tremendously proud of myself; I feel I am enriching the fibre economy by ploughing some money back in.

I missed my flight yesterday.

That’s right, I missed my flight.  I have never missed one before.  I was at my sister’s and all packed in perfect time to get to the airport in time to eat lunch at the airport before my 1:00 flight, and I checked to make sure I had the exact time right, and my flight was boarding in about 10 minutes because I was off by two hours.

I was so hysterical I couldn’t see the paper because my hands were shaking so hard.  I called the customer service line and of course got put on hold.

In the end I went to the airport and walked up to the ticket counter, and all I had to do was change my ticket.  They didn’t even charge me for the price difference, just a change fee — she said that I was the only person all day who didn’t try to blame anyone else at all, just myself.

There are so many things that are so terrifying in advance, but in reality you just deal with it and move on.

While away I bought a whole bunch of yarn, if you are in Vancouver go to Urban Yarns they are having an amazing sale.  I also got to pick up my jumbo flier kit for my spinning wheel — I would like to warn you that airport security looks twice at sealed boxes with unidentified hardware inside.  They do seem to let spinning wheel parts through though.  She asked: “Is there a screw driver in there?” and I had no idea (a few seconds later I learned there isn’t).

Something that always interests me is the riot of production of crafts that must have happened in the Victorian period.  We are used to seeing the Victorian period through the lens of movies, and it looks so wonderful, but I think that if actually confronted with real Victoriana that many of us would think it was not in the best of taste.

If you don’t believe me, please walk through an antique store and really look at what was in people’s houses.  The thing that comes to my mind is a red and dark wood upright couch and chair set in an antique store close to my house that is really and truly hideous.  Mass production takes some of the variety out of choice in what to have, and crafting puts it back — you can really make anything you want within the limits of your imagination, available supplies, and skill.  Some of the things people come up with may not be as well conceived as others.  Mass production is mediated through professional designers of various sorts.

There is of course no reason for anyone to go around being the crafting police and making people feel bad.  Everyone should get to make anything that makes them happy, but I think there is a reason that William Morris said “Have nothing in your house you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — It’s because there were so many ugly things in people’s houses — like crochet/beer can hats.

There was such variety in crafting then — embroidery, knitting, crochet, hairpin lace, other laces or various ilks, sewing, rug hooking, patchwork, and many others that don’t immediately come to mind.  All  those women without jobs (though I would hazard that jobs overall may be somewhat overrated), all producing as much as un-idle hands could day in and day out.

Consider for a moment that the Victorian period saw the invention of artificial dyes, perhaps most notably mauve.  It is no wonder that people got a little over excited.

I am knitting up a storm on projects I can’t share, so I thought I would share a few projects I have made over the years instead.

First example (Ravelry project link):


This was about the fourth sweater I ever knit.  The pattern is by Adrienne Vittadini and was published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2003 (Ravelry link here).

The sample was knit in a lovely soft wool, alpaca, mohair blend, but I made mine in a cotton, linen blend, as I wanted a summer sweater.  I think the lace pattern read better in the softer yarn, and I was a little overly ambitious.  There is one glaring mistake in the lace, but overall I was and am happy with it.

I have had one of the grouchiest weeks of my life.  Everything seemed so hard — I couldn’t even bake right:


Then I got so mad I left the kitchen like this for three days:


My love did not get his favourite coconut cream pie on his birthday this year, but he did a few days later.

Cookie crumb crust is easier.   Four birthdays together and I still can’t get the pie right on the first try.

Hopefully change is in the wind.

I recently received a question from a reader about the possibility of making money knitting.  She said that she wants to make money, but she can’t find anyone who who will fairly compensate her for her time and skill.  I think this is a wider concern and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the subject with all of you as well:

I think this is a universal problem. I have known weavers for years, and they have never achieved making minimum wage from their work. I don’t sell many finished objects because of this. I basically make things I want to make and sell those or let them sit there and look pretty.

I figure it fleshes out my Etsy listings and helps sell my patterns. When I used to work in a craft gift shop I found that you need big expensive things to sell the small things (for more of a discussion on this see this post). A lot of the things on Etsy that sell well are things like wrist warmers, which are very small and inexpensive.

It seems to me that many people who produce handmade or local made clothing try to simplify construction to keep costs down — no linings, no finished hems etc. That brings me to other items that seem to sell well — bulky, loosely knit or crocheted items that don’t take much time.

If you really want to pursue knitting as a professional activity I would suggest starting to find some clients to do some sample knitting for designers or publishers — I think they pay a bit better, though they do demand excellent results. You could also see about knitting for high end boutiques or something like that, but I think you will likely need to design your own patterns. I think some people do well that way. I think people can make livings as designers, but that depends on another set of skills.

Depending on your geographic location and many factors you could look into producing knitwear for movie costumes etc., but you might need to design your own patterns then too.  I also believe that people can be well paid for producing knitwear for couture and other high end design houses, but that too depends a great deal on geography (New York as opposed to Los Angeles) and the ability to translate design sketches into finished garments.

I heard or read somewhere that Lily Chin made money (a living?) during college crocheting snoods for the ballet market.  If I recall correctly, she made basically every snood being sold in the United States at the time.   If I am wrong, I will be disappointed, because I love that story.  I wish I had thought of making snoods (or something else) in class when I was in university — it’s brilliant.  Then maybe I could be the world’s fastest crocheter (probably not, but I can dream).

I don’t know that any of these options pay particularly well, but they are options you can explore, if any of these options work, I would very happy to have you let me know.

Here I am sitting here in my living room knitting away after my breakfast of oatmeal and tea (yes, I have granny tenancies), listening to an older podcast from Craftsanity, and knitting up a storm.

In the interview with Lexi Boeger she mentions her spinning wheels (see the podcast about 43 minutes in).  I confess I want a wheel like her bulky antique one, but what really caught me was when she was talking about her Ashford Traveller, she says she uses a quill attachment, which allows her to spin more bulky yarns.  I didn’t know about this at all, so I Googled it and came up with this:


(From the Ashford website, here)

I have to say that I am quite unsure about what is happening with that and how it gets on the bobbin.  It looks like the yarn winds around that part that sticks out, but how you would ever ply it, without having to rewind it onto something else first, I really couldn’t say.

I have ordered a jumbo flier for mine, which I am looking forward to getting because I like the bulky yarns and regularly get them stuck in the orifice (how often do you get to use that word?).

If anyone can enlighten me on how the quill works, I would greatly appreciate it.  If not I think I may need to dig deeper.

Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter is being profiled in this week’s Berroco Knitbits newsletter, including a picture of my Tofino:


They have also included a free version of the Windandsea Sun Hat by Kristi Porter:

I have been reading and considering the viewpoints of the members of the Crochet Designers’ Group on Ravelry in this discussion thread.  They are discussing ways to help change the mindset of many crocheters who don’t like crocheting garments, but prefer to crochet housewares and other items.  I have been considering the discussion for several days, and while I completely understand how this could be frustrating for designers who would like to design other things, I think we should examine what we define as a successful design.

Specifically, I think we should examine the purpose of publishing fancy garments in fine yarns in magazines: in one of my jobs several years ago I used to manage a craft gift shop. The previous manager had focussed heavily on smaller items as those were what tended to sell, but I found that without the bigger expensive items the cheaper items didn’t sell as well — the big pieces sold the small pieces.

I haunt the local book and yarn stores searching for crafting magazines and books, and I will buy a magazine or a book for the masterpiece project that would take months to complete, and I will read it again and again. I may not make it, in fact I probably won’t, as I have more things to knit and crochet than I fear I will ever finish, but it sold the magazine – is that a failure of the design? Does every pattern written for publication need to be made over and over? There are so many other measures of success: it may improve your reputation, or make a fan, or sell the magazine that will sell yarn and help you get more business in the future, because you made that fabulous thing that people remember. All of these things are important and help your career, and I wouldn’t consider that outcome a failure, even if only two people ever make it.

Those designs are kind of like the wedding dress at the end of a fashion show — not many people are in the market for a wedding dress, but it can be over the top and designed for the most special day in a person’s life (whether the day is in fact the most special day is beside the point — the dress is designed for the most special day — I suspect that most most special days happen when you are naked, or in a hospital gown, or jeans, or pajamas, etc.).  Some designs are like that — they are designed to be masterpieces of the crafter’s art, and they will likely be made less than something more approachable that requires less expense, time, and thought — but that doesn’t mean they are not successes.

July 2009