Bonus!

It’s official: we’ve gone nutty.

And now it’s Monday, and the last contest isn’t even over yet, but we’re doing it ONE MORE TIME! Because we take holiday madness quite seriously over here at Knitty.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, December 29, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask? It’s a kit for the gorgeous Cuckoo Mittens from the current issue!

we are cuckoo for these mittens. no, really.

Cuckoo mitts kit

contains this gorgeous yarn:
The Loopy Ewe Solid Series Fingering [100% Superwash Merino; 220 yds per 55g skein]
MC Robin’s Egg Blue; 1 skein
CC Blackberry; 1 skein

Retail price for kit: $20.50

We’ll choose the winner at random, which means anyone has the same chance  to win as anyone else! So enter, and good luck to you all!

*Spread the joy!*

Ninja strikes again! Another contest!

What is this…Thursday contests every week? Not even close. We just feel like giving away stuff and it happens to be on a Thursday again this time! I know, we’re out of control. It’s fun.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Monday, December 27 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask?

this loveliness is the Emerald City colorway

1 skein of Lisa Souza Superwash BFL sock yarn
Fiber: 100%Blue Faced Leicester Superwash wool hand dyed
4 ounce skeins/ 465 yards
Needle size for socks 0-1 US /2.0-2.25mm  suggested
Care: Machine wash and dry
Value: $18 US

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Lisa Souza herself has given us a special discount to share with you: Free Shipping through January 6th, if you mention KnittyBlog when you place your order.

Good luck everyone!


The lucky winner of the Briar Rose contest from last Thursday: Nancy H, comment #6176. Congratulations, Nancy! Happy knitting!

You didn’t win? Well, at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share with all our readers: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

*Spread the joy!*

Kamikaze ninja surprise contest!

Virtually out of nowhere comes another contest! We know…we think it’s pretty cool, too!

Leave a comment to this post by Friday, December 17 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random and post the results on Monday’s blog.

What’s the prize?

Briar Rose Sonoma...will you be the lucky one?

1 skein of Briar Rose Sonoma: Content: 100% wool
Yardage/Wt.: 460 yds/437 m, 8 oz.
Retail price: $32

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Chris at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

Good luck to you all!

*Spread the joy!*

Have you ever clicked the needles in the Knitty header?

You might want to today.

I’ve lived in Canada since I was 6 [aka a long, long time]. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October when it’s usually barely cool outside, with leaves on the trees and jackets optional. I’ve never gotten used to it.

My first 6 years imprinted Thanksgiving time into my brain as what it is now in November in the northeast: a real bite in the air and leaves on the ground. Winter is definitely coming. So I’m feeling very Thanksgivingy today, even though it’s business as usual over here in Toronto. Everything’s open, airports only crowded on the way out of town.

Thanksgiving also means family, and to me, one particular family member. My Grandma, Lillian. When I went to college, I moved 2 hours away from the family to Toronto, home of cheap airfare [at the time, anyway]. I started my own ritual: fly to LaGuardia on Thanksgiving morning, right before the Macy’s parade started. Cab it down to the Port Authority [cabs were cheap then] and take the bus to exit 8A on the NJ Turnpike. Where Grandma lived.

We’d spend the next 4 days just being together. Of course she cooked for me. That’s something that she’d had hardwired into her…she cooked for all of her kids, grandkids and associated partners, no matter how she was feeling or how many of us showed up. She made great turkey, which we continued to enjoy for the rest of the visit in different forms — turkey salad sandwiches, turkey chow mein. She made cholent and rugelach. I never left without a care package to keep me alive until I made it home.

Grandma’s been gone since 1999, and every year, this day makes me miss her more than any other.

*Spread the joy!*

The rest of the trip

When last I blogged, I’d caught  you up about halfway on our recent trip to the UK and France. The first half was a real treat, being driven around in a luxury coach with really nice knitters and a tour guide I’m still crushing on.

One of the bonuses of this trip was that it took us right across the path of our good friends Brenda and Tonia who live in West Wales. So we planned to stay with them for a few days after leaving the group. We haven’t seen each other since the Sea Socks cruise in 2008, and we missed them! Here they are in Tenby, one of our favorite places on the trip.

Brenda + Tonia in Tenby, attractively windblown

I love these women. They rock. And yes, that’s the Brenda you think it is — she does this, and  does it very well. We spent some lovely time together walking around in Tenby.

Tenby is mighty pretty

And then off to the Welsh Wool Museum, where I could touch very little, but had lots to look at.

wool being spun onto bobbins. lots of bobbins.

I was most envious of the lucky bus trippers who chose beautiful wool blankets to take home with them.  Ah, sigh.

the hub and his seaside Ploughman's Lunch and pint.

The four of us parted from the tour after much hugging and waving, and it was weird all of a sudden to be responsible for getting our own selves someplace. Thankfully, B+T were on the job and soon we were at a lovely pub enjoying the afternoon by the seaside. Oh, where they live is heavenly, let me tell you. Here’s my favorite picture of our walk on the beach with Truman.

Truman never runs out of energy. Hub, not so much.

This is one of the beaches where B+T walk the new pup. Must be hard, eh, this life of theirs? We fell in love with Wales pretty much instantly and never wanted to leave.

how's that for a view from your back door?

Unfortunately, right around this time, hub started to show signs of a cold. A bad one. Which he left behind for Brenda [we’ve already apologized]. My body decided to rebel against being in heaven by having a massive allergy attack. So there was much tea made for us and gratefully consumed.

We had short day trips, including one to Narberth, where this was our motto:

yes, it means what you think it does.

Finally, it came time for us to leave, so we boarded the train for Cardiff and spent a very sniffly night there. We managed to stumble across Jamie’s Italian [yup, THAT Jamie — Oliver] and had a nice dinner which hub mostly could taste through his cold. The next morning, we were off to London.

And then on to the Eurostar, which was the super awesomest way to travel ever. Travelling with a sick hub, it made things much easier. Very comfortable, quick, painless way to travel.

Poof, we're in Paris!

By this time, hub was getting worse. Our hotel was a nice pitstop, and we tried to go for a gentle walk, but he was not doing well. By 7 pm, he asked to go to the hospital [and yes, he’s that kind of man who would never ask unless he was very sick].

The hospital staff were awesome, and they took very good care of him.

poor sick hub

The cold had turned into something more serious, and they were great about not brushing him off as a whiny tourist. They found the problem and told us what to do about it. [And since we’ve gotten home,  he has seen his GP, gotten further treatment and now is pretty much himself again. Whew.]

Not fun, but if he had to get sick, Paris clearly was the place for it.

Hub spent the next two days in the hotel room  [good patient] and I went for short wanders around the city. A little Bon Marche…

The yarn department. I purchased nothing, but it was fun to look!

a little Droguerie…

des petits fleurs

a little Samaritaine…

but sadly, it was closed for renovations.

I got to visit L’Oisive The, which was awesome [no pictures, too busy having fun]. And then hub pulled himself together for a visit [via cab, no metro for him] to the Eiffel Tower on our last night.

proof.

happy 20th anniversary to us!

And then we were home again.

It was a great, fun, exciting, exhausting trip and a great way to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We went to Paris on our honeymoon and then again on our 10th, so it made sense that we should return during this trip. It would have been nice for hub not to have been sick, but at least he was well taken care of and comfortable. And he got to walk to our favorite cafe every day, because we chose a hotel less than a block from it. I’ll leave you with a picture of Le Nemrod, our Parisian home.

Ah, we miss it already.

*Spread the joy!*

I was on a trip

There’s much more to the story than this video of our favorite tacky tourist souvenir, but I’m still recovering from it all. Watch for an update on Thursday. With pictures. And everything.

*Spread the joy!*

KNIT CamBRIDGE

KNITcamBRIDGE progress Sept. 9

photo courtesy Annie Bee

The KNIT CamBRIDGE project is the brainchild of Sue Sturdy, an fiber artist based in Cambridge, Ontario.  Cambridge used to be a major textile production and manufacturing hub in Ontario, and her project was designed to mark and remind residents of that often-forgotten history.

The idea was simple: cover Cambridge’s historic Main Street bridge with textiles – specifically, knitted textiles.  (Although some crochet did sneak into the project, the vast majority of the thousands of pieces were indeed knitted.)

The work started in April of 2009, and was completed on September 11, 2010, when 16,000 zip ties were used to wrap the bridge in knitwear.  Over 1,000 knitters from all over the world contributed – from the Cambridge area, from further afield in Canada, from the US, and from as far away as New Zealand.  The oldest knitter participating was 103, the youngest 5. And it wasn’t just women, as some expected – a significant number of contributions came from men.  Bob Miller, a retired lawyer, proudly contributed his first completed knitting project.

Some of the knitting was new, created especially for the bridge; other pieces were repurposed.  Marg Grapes contributed pieces of a fireplace cover she knit (but never got around to assembling) in the 1960s. Another knitter contributed an unworn scarf she had knitted for her then-boyfriend when she was a student at University of Toronto in the 1970s.

Bill Wellsman, a local resident who used to walk the bridge every day, was memorialized by his wife with a contribution, embroidered with his name.

When we spoke by phone, Sue told me she is thrilled and amazed by the way the larger knitting community came together to complete the collaborative work of art – and not just in the knitting, but also in the assembly and mounting.  She stresses that everyone deserves to share in the credit and accolades she is receiving.  A list of contributors is here.

photo courtesy Sue Sturdy

And the community has wholeheartedly embraced the project – one resident commented that it was like the bridge had been given a hug. Visitors to the city are loving it – they are utterly taken aback by the collaborative transformation.  Sue says that even the few who voiced doubts at the start of the project – about its feasibility, its practicality, and perhaps even her sanity – have all taken their words back.

Even after the installation and official unveiling, pieces are still being contributed.  A colleague of Sue’s proudly gave her a pair of socks to be added just this week.

KNITcamBRIDGE progress Sept. 9

photo courtesy Annie Bee

The bridge cozy will be in place until September 27th.  At that time, the pieces will be taken down, cleaned, and refashioned into scarves that will be sold to raise money for charity.  Other pieces will be shaped into blankets to be donated to shelters in the Cambridge area.

If you’re in the Cambridge area, do make a point of going to see it, and if you’ve got time on the 27th, volunteers are needed to help take down the pieces and prepare them for cleaning and eventual donation.

*Spread the joy!*

Amy’s coming to the UK!

It's almost time!

This trip has been in the works since before Sock Summit ’09 — aka more than a year. And finally, it’s almost here!

It’s the brainchild of my friend, Craftlit host, Heather Ordover. I almost fell off my chair when she asked if I would be her co-host! It’s extra-exciting for me, because this trip also coincides with hub’s and my 20th anniversary and he’s coming with me. Yes, twenty years. Insane. [There are rumors we were married in the womb. I will neither confirm nor deny.]

Anyway, I’m not posting this to brag about the trip. I’m excited because our brilliant [and super-professional] tour organizer, Dianne, has given us two opportunities to have meetups with UK readers and listeners while we’re there!

London:
@ I Knit London, Sunday, October 3 from 3-4pm

Cardiff:
@ Rummer Tavern, Wednesday, Oct 6, from 7-9pm

If you can make it, please do! I’ll have Knitty shwag with me, and both Heather and I are really excited to meet all of you!

*Spread the joy!*

Attention non-woolly sock knitters!

The day has arrived. Sock Candy, the non-woolly version of Blue Moon’s Socks That Rock, has returned in beautiful hand-painted glory! Says Tina, “We are offering our Sock Candy for a very limited time as a hand paint. It is not our intention to continue to hand paint this yarn. Instead we’re venturing into having it mill dyed in multicolors.”

One last chance to grab the most beautiful hand-painted cotton sock yarn ever!

Sock Candy, hand-painted by Tina. YUM.


[Yup, Singer was made for me. Literally. How flattering, and irresistible, is that? No worries, I placed my order before I posted this. Because I know what you knitters are like. Because I’m one of you. :)]

*Spread the joy!*

Bonus: have you met Shannon Okey?

We’re very glad to welcome Shannon Okey to the KnittyBlog on this special edition of What’s What Wednesdays! Shannon has recently published The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design: How to Keep Your Knits About You through her company, Cooperative Press. In addition, Shannon’s a long-time friend of Knitty, having helped us find our tagline when we launched: Little Purls of Wisdom.
Jillian Moreno got to talk to Shannon — the successful author of more than a dozen books — about the business of knitting. Take it away, Eric the Orchestra Leader Jillian!
[ed’s note: Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.]

J: First off, thank you for writing this book! It is the finest resource I’ve ever read for a knitting designer. Invaluable if you are starting out or if you’ve been in the business for a while, it concretely makes sense of the ‘mystery’ and shifting sands of the design business.

We love that you love Knitty. Talk about why Knitty is important to the industry and how best new designers can utilize it.

S: In my opinion, Knitty really raised the expectations bar early on in terms of helping designers who were new to the business to establish a standard format, create really great photos and all the other good stuff that’s essential to putting one’s best designer foot forward, so it’s easy to love! (In fact, I know that I’m not the only one who has recommended Knitty’s style guide for pattern formatting to those who have no idea where to begin!)

New designers can use Knitty as a beautifully-edited example of What To Do in terms of pattern presentation and collection-building – look how each issue of the magazine makes sense, how the patterns relate to each other, how there’s a great mix of pattern types and techniques…and then, in the archives, see how things have changed over time.

J: What benefit do you see Knitty providing to established designers?

S: For established designers, using Knitty + Ravelry is a marketing research exercise in itself – each time an issue comes out, a handful of Knitty patterns immediately shoot into the stratosphere in terms of the “New and Popular” list. What is it about those patterns (and not one of the others) that made people sit up and notice? Are there trends? Is there something you could adapt for your own use when designing your next pattern? It always pays to watch what knitters are choosing to knit if you want to make sure your next pattern will sell well.

J: Lots of blogs and newsletters have recently changed their approach into “sell, sell, sell” with little useful or interesting content. How do you keep the balance between authenticity and selling in social media?

S: 90/10. That’s how I see it… 90 is me, personally and 10 is “ok, buy my stuff, please” (Maybe even less than 10%!) I try very hard not to post a million “I just put out a new X and you should buy it” tweets or Facebook updates, I’d much rather just be me, talking about the goofy stuff I personally like to talk about when I’m not discussing business.

So, for example, of the 17 tweets I’ve posted today, one was “I’m not above using my cute dad to sell a few more patterns. http://twitpic.com/2azzqa” — which, technically, is a businessy tweet because I’m showing off my dad’s photo on the Ravelry featured pattern page wearing my latest design. But notice I didn’t say BUY MY PATTERN JASPER NOW. I pointed out that making my dad be Mr. Male Model is kind of funny. The majority of my tweets today were me moaning about my webhost screwing up my email service, and responding to people who either a) suggested new hosts for me or b) said my dad was adorable.

I personally am much more likely to click through on things that offer me information instead of just a sales pitch. Useful content makes you useful, which in turn leads to trust, which in turn leads to sales. You have to be in it for the long haul.

J: What is the bare minimum for social media for a knitwear designer?

S: Pick one account and stick with it. Better to just be on Twitter or just be on Facebook than do a horrible job of both. (Of course, you could also use one of the services that will update both for you and therefore capture eyeballs in either place.)

J: Not all budding knitwear designers can or want to make it a full-time job. What advice do you have specifically for part-time designers?

S: Establish expectations for your customers. For example, if you can only respond to email after 5:00 p.m., put a disclaimer on your webpage/Ravelry profile/etc. Some customers expect you to get back to them immediately, which isn’t always possible even for full time designers, and they will tar and feather you if you don’t. Then, if anyone gives you grief, you can politely point them to the disclaimer. Most everything else will be the same for a part time designer – keep it professional, make sure you can meet any deadlines set by magazines or whoever else you’re working with, etc.

J: Once you’ve had some success in designing, it seems like opportunities come out of the woodwork. What should a designer keep in mind when choosing a project to take on?

I’d like to just flat-out quote myself from a recent interview with Kim Werker that was held live on Twitter: “You take a project for 1 of 2 things: money, or publicity. Sometimes you get both, but if it isn’t worth just ONE, don’t! I have taken projects where I wouldn’t have made ANYTHING after paying the sample knitter/etc, but was great PR. However, it was MY CHOICE — anyone touting a project solely for publicity or “exposure” should be immediately suspect. Our hilarious friends @Ravelry got it right.”

In addition, you should take projects that will challenge you – why do the same thing 15 times in a row?

J: How do you manage your time with so many projects happening simultaneously?

S: My computer is my backup brain. I never delete emails (well, except spam!), so I can always look up what’s already been said about an ongoing project, etc. I am a compulsive list-maker, too. I have a ton of “things going on” textfiles sitting on my desktop that I can pull up and work from, reminderwise. I’ve been trying to find the perfect project management software but nothing has really fit the bill 100% without costing an arm and a leg, so for now it’s lists upon lists upon lists.

J: With so many outlets for designs, patterns run the risk of looking alike. How do you keep your design ideas fresh?

S: I like themes, because I’m a very visual person, and it helps me categorize all my ideas. So, for example, I’m working on a fall/winter pattern collection that’s inspired by 1920s Vienna, carnivals and one particular artist I like. I started with one particular pattern I wanted to design, figured out what would go with it and provide a broad range of pattern types, and then went backwards from there. I use style.com, Ravelry and other sources to see what’s out there but when it comes right down to it, it’s the circus in my head + what I want to personally knit + what yarn is calling my name.

J: What about burn out? You have 70,000 things going on all the time — do you ever lose sight of the dreamy part? How do you find your way back to being/feeling creative?

S: I’m, to quote my boyfriend, “Amish on weekends” because I turn the computer OFF. I sit around and knit and watch TV and do housework and stare into space and play with the dog and pet the cats and make elaborate, ridiculous foodstuffs…everything but work work. It helps. Some of the ideas for the new collection came about, for example, as the result of watching a terrible, terrible movie about Klimt on Netflix. It was seriously one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, one of those movies that’s so awful you can’t turn it off because you’re worried there might be something even worse to laugh at in the next scene. But it did make me re-examine some of the things I knew about that era, and remember pieces I’d liked at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and start to think hmmmm, these things would go together, and this yarn would work, and and and… In short, don’t be afraid to “waste” time doing something that seems silly because you never know when inspiration will strike.

J: How do you create a design style that is unique to you? – the best examples are Norah Gaughan and Ysolda. Is it even important to have a style?

S: I think so, yes, if only because it helps drive repeat business. If someone likes the way you do X, then it only stands to reason they will like X1, X2 and X3. You have to be careful not to get stuck in a rut, though!

J: What did you learn about your designing self and your business writing this book?

S: I really need to outsource more of the things I don’t do as well or as quickly. One example – I’m a much slower knitter than my test knitters. If I want to keep up, I need to outsource more of the sample knitting, and rework my patternwriting process. It’s a lot harder for me to write the pattern before I knit the sample, but in order to outsource the knitting, I’ll have to do it in that order. It takes away some of the serendipity, but serendipity doesn’t always pay the bills. I wish I could just sit and knit all day and make someone else write it all down, but that’s not how it works at this level.

J: What’s next for you?

S: More books! Cooperative Press is publishing over a dozen books by other people in the next 18 months or so, and I could not be more excited. I’m also co-authoring a book on tech editing with the fabulous Alexandra Virgiel that will fill a major hole in the market for both pro designers and knitters who just want to make their work better. We’re going to keep pushing the envelope with technology in particular, which is exciting and scary all at the same time. (I love technology). I plan to keep teaching online as well, because it’s an amazing way to reach people all over the world without leaving the comfort of my desk!


BONUS CONTEST POST!

Shannon has very generously offered to give one lucky commenter to this post a copy of her new book. PLUS, to get you jump started on your design career: the choice between one of her online classes OR an one-one consultation with the pro herself.

To win, just leave a comment to this post telling Shannon why you want to win this great prize. Comments will be closed Friday, July August 13th at 5pm EST, and the winner chosen by Shannon, and announced in the WWW post next Wednesday. Good luck!

*Spread the joy!*