Saturday, June 26, 2010

mini market bag

Since we have been frequenting the farmer's market this year, the girls have been bickering over who got to carry the miniature market bag that I knit a couple of years ago. Time to whip up another one! So I dug around in my gargantuan plastic bin of yarn and found the only non-wool to be found, which happened to be "cotlin" from knitpicks. This stuff was buried pretty deep, and one of the colors has been discontinued (replaced with a similar green), but I think it is a useful and fun little item to knit up so I am writing the pattern up and putting it on ravelry.

The design is very basic, no seams, just knit sts, k2tog, and yarn overs. The pdf is all set to go, if you are interested in testing it let me know!

The ladybug sweater has been set back by the business trip J had to take this week. I did not get much done last weekend, and the rest of the week wasn't much better, but at least the sweater is done now, and I can (fingers crossed) get the pdf ready to go now. I have testers already lined up for this one thank goodness!

Friday, June 25, 2010

corrugated ribbing demo

I made another little video that should help with the other sweater bit that I was worried people might have trouble with. It has the same high quality production values obviously, (*snicker*)  and will obviously become widely disseminated as the go-to instructional knitting video of all time. (I could not possibly make this drip with more sarcasm, just pretend you can see me rolling my eyes and smirking as I say this.) I know someday I will be able to tell the kids to shut the hell up, but I may have to wait until they are actually living on their own to have a quiet studio space so in the meantime everyone gets to participate and enjoy the kid noise.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Knitting Demo!

I put some clips of Armenian Knitting together and they are now available as a little demo of sorts on YouTube! I am hoping this is a helpful thing for anyone interested in this technique and that it dosen't confuse people or make things look more tricky than they are b/c some parts are blurry. I also hope people have a sense of humor b/c if not my starwars theme title sequence is not going to help with the already awesome presentation...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Life is a bowl of....

Rainier cherries? Why yes! We went to the farmer's market today after a nice Father's Day breakfast at the local diner. I almost didn't take the camera because the girls were being pretty whiny and difficult, but James insisted and got them into the stroller so I could relax and walk around just wearing Ben and shooting photos to my heart's content.

As expected I did still have some of the anxiety that I talked about before, but it was much less and I am wondering if part of it is general stress/anxiety that I feel constantly when out and about with the kids. I don't really notice that I am feeling anxious or whatever just b/c I have the kids at some event or location, but I think the general, below awareness level of "ok, keeping an eye on Maggie, oh wait, gotta call Sophia back from running too far ahead, uh oh, is Ben getting fussy, oh Maggie, hold my hand, I know you tripped lets get a band-aid at home, gah Sophie, watch where you are going! Don't mess with that...." that is running through my head seems to keep me from really relaxing and focusing (hah!) on other things.

We saw lots of gorgeous produce, but only bought a few things because I DO NOT plan on doing much cooking this week. James is going to San Francisco for a work trip and it is going to be hard enough keeping us all fed and clothed (in non-squalid clothing) and diapered and take care of the dogs and chickens, etc, etc. Oh yeah, also have that new pattern that will (if I can finish what I need to do tonight) be being tested and worked on. SO. We picked out 1 pound of Bing cherries that will mostly be eaten today,
a small bunch of Kholrabi to go with James Father's Day dinner (ribs slow-cooked in the oven all day with dry rub, then grilled with a light coating of sauce late this afternoon) and

Garlic Scapes that I will very quickly saute in good olive oil left from MIL visit last month.
 Oh! And some leafy stuff for eating with the above mentioned olive oil, lemon juice, and we'll see what else. (leftover asparagus?)
We also got some Snap Peas,

and Gala apples (it was a local stand, how is that possible this early?) for snacking.

Well, I better get working on those charts before grilling time is upon us! Will try for more knitting pictures next time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

yarny goodness

You know, it is still really thrilling to get a big box of yarn in the mail. I worried that by committing to knitting something in a contractual/business way I would lose some of the joy that wool and (sharp) slick metal needles bring to me, but if anything the opposite is true. I find myself ever more compelled to stretch my skills and learn more (in related areas as well as knitting skills) in order to satisfy the "next step" in this business, and each area has it's own pleasures. Ripping open a package full of yarn spells new inspiration and exploration, possibilities. The fact that I no longer carry guilt for spending $ on knitting "stuff" makes the whole thing that much better. (not that you should necessarily feel guilt for spending money on your hobbies, I just tend to have issues with money and worth, etc...)

I have gotten started on the first of a series of children's sweaters that I am pretty excited about. I am working them all in Armenian Knitting, which seems kind of unknown even though there was a really great book put out about it a couple of years ago by Schoolhouse Press. The first is a ladybug sweater that I hope to finish this weekend so I can get the charts and patterns sent out to test knitters.

I may put up pictures of the others as I work on them, but I am still thinking about how I am going to publish so I may keep my cards close to the vest so to speak...  ;-) This ladybug sweater will be published by Knitpicks so a little extra publicity is not going to hurt.

I am thinking about putting all or several of the sweaters and caps that go together in this theme as a book/let (don't know how long or involved a project this could be) that is instructional in nature, in case someone enjoyed the schoolhouse press book and is looking for more patterns that use this technique, though I am not sure how to go about researching this in any more detail than Meg Swansen already has. I mean, it isn't as though I will be able to delve into some museum's basement supply of knitted antiquities very well. (as if such a place existed, hah! wouldn't that be a joy?) I think I may put out some message online looking for anyone who may have more info or family/older relatives who were around when this was a big fashion deal. Anyway, I am pleased with how the first sweater is coming out, I had some concerns but everything seems ok.

Because of the way the yarn is trapped and carried along behind the knitting, I have found on a previous Armenian knit garment that the "jaquard weave" look was too much, and the weird ease made the thing really unattractive. I ended up felting that project and it made a quite nice handbag, which I won't show here right now b/c I am waiting to hear back from someone if it will be in a handbag book. I will put it up if/when I find out. So far, I have found that keeping the "traveling" yarn really quite loose (seems perhaps too loose, but it isn't) is the key. So long as you avoid this trapped yarn pulling the outer stitches in the fabric is very nice. Time will tell though as to how the fit works out and everything lays. I have my fingers crossed that it doesn't end up too tight on Maggie. My gauge calculations with this have been a little tricky.

I think I might be well served to put up a video on youtube or something for people to see how this "trapping" can be done, otherwise I am afraid the general knitting public will be put off or daunted by the idea of a new scary technique. It seems that the simpler patterns far outsell the more complicated ones so I better make sure these sweaters are clearly explained and show how simple they really are once you get the yarn carrying.

(Anyone a youtube expert? I've never done this before and am concerned...)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Have you met my (other) new baby?

Why yes, yes that is an incredibly cool new dslr! My darling husband gave it to me for our recent wedding anniversary, and I cannot express how much I love using this amazing camera. (Best gift EVER! probably, though J has given me some pretty great gifts...) Anyway, I had been saving my "knitting money" for this and was not really anywhere near the astronomical price tag, (I think I had enough for one lens) and James came to the rescue. I wasn't entirely sure I was happy with not doing this on my own, but then I got to take some pictures, and my mind was changed  ;-)  I mean, really, I needed a better camera to take pictures of the kids, right?

So, I was never especially interested in photography, possibly stemming from my mother chasing us down as kids to make us pose in embarrassing situations in foreign markets, etc, but I had been noticing more and more how crappy my pictures for patterns were coming out, and it was a problem. I spent a lot of time studying our old camera and experimenting with it to see if I could make do, but really, unless I was shooting in ideal circumstances things just were not coming out great. (Have you tried getting a 4, 2 & 0 yr old to hold still lately?) I think especially for online sales, knitting patterns are sold by their accompanying photography, "yarn porn" if you will. (yes, J takes a lot of pleasure teasing me about my "porn camera") So I researched and planned, and in the process I have become involved in a surprising new interest! I really love taking photos with this thing, I have some amazing shots of the kids, like, photos I never expected to be able to get, so yeah, apparently I am now totally into another hobby.

If you are interested, a helpful site for me has been which I must admit I have been frequenting as much or more than ravelry lately. (I know!) I learned everything I know about photography so far from that site, and there seems to be new articles or "challenges" (assignments for photos to get critiqued, etc...) constantly so I won't be running out of stuff to learn. There is even a used equipment forum where more experienced photographers sell their stuff when they upgrade, so you might be able to get yourself a deal.

My camera is a Nikon d5000,  and I have been almost exclusively using the 55-200mm lens rather than the 18-55mm kit lens b/c I get much more satisfactory shots with it. The slight downside of having to be a bit further from the subject is more than compensated for by being able to zoom in and get interesting bokeh with a larger (I think that is correct, the reverse numbers applied to aperture for depth of field are still a bit confusing to me) depth of field. I am actually thinking about selling the 18-55mm to fund a 50mm f1.8 (called a "prime" lens b/c it doesn't have a variable length, but seems to give fantastic close shots, and has a really low f# for the price) which I think would give the most wonderful close up yarn/sweater shots.

I still feel weird taking pictures in public places, something really makes me uncomfortable doing this around people. S loves to mug for the camera (too much really, it's hard to get shots of her not making funny faces) so I always have (more than) willing participants for impromptu photo sessions, but I worry that I am bothering people or otherwise doing something inappropriate at the farmer's market or playground. It's bad enough that I missed several really good (important for the market bag pattern I am finishing now) shots this past weekend. Plus I am totally freaked out that I might get other kids in the picture when I am taking pictures of S or M playing on slides, etc. As a parent I would not be ok with someone getting pictures of my kids, so how do I handle this? It's not practical to ask every parent at the park if it's ok to shoot and possibly get their kid in a picture. Anyway, these are the things I have been thinking about lately. I think I will find my way as I go with this, and taking the camera out and using it a lot will be key. I need to get used to/find a better way of carrying around this heavy thing! Do any of you have a favorite case/carrying system for dslr cameras? The kit case is designed for the camera and the 18-55mm lens w/space for other stuff, but I can't figure out how to configure it to work for the equipment I actually use. I want something padded, compact, and handy for the camera and 55-200mm lens and possibly the 50mm lens as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Digital publishing part 2

So I got an email today with a comment on my previous digital publishing post from Shannon Okey herself! Anyway, after I got over the momentary adrenaline rush and stopped grinning and wondering if it was a bad idea to call J at work to shriek at him that a famous knitter commented on my blog, I started thinking again about this whole mess.

Shannon made the point that it was simply too time consuming to make every pattern and book into an app, and I have to say that at this point I agree. I had high hopes for the adobe app packager that would allow for graphical design that would just "work" on apple devices. Fantastic for people like me who have no hope of figuring out how to write pages and pages of code, but it seems "Darth Jobs" (my husband is not a fan of the Apple "ecosystem" and how closed it is) has quashed that and will no longer support apps coded in using the adobe packager.

So there go my great hopes of a new paradigm for "Craft Publishing"! I had this vision of really small indy publishers (graphic designers) who specialized in various craft genres and would take on patterns, tutorials, cookbooks, etc, and put the info provided by the knitter/chef/crafter into a glossy app package taking say, 20% royalties and possibly a fee for the work depending on how many moving parts were involved, etc.

At any rate, I will keep chugging along learning as much as I can about digital publishing options, pod publishing, polishing my computer skills as much as possible, and get on with actually writing more patterns and getting designs out there.