Tuesday, February 21, 2012


For many years now, I've been working on health. This work came, as it almost always does, from being unhealthy.

Health isn't an instantaneous switch. It is a gradual understanding built over a lifetime. It is learning to adjust and heal your body as best you can when inevitable problems crop up. It's biology. Ultimately, it is taking care of yourself. Health-care providers of any type can go only so far.

And that's where the going gets rough. It often goes against the grain to take care of ourselves. Sometimes it means resting when we're not sick. It means feeling empowered to say no to sugar and cheesypoofs (when you never really wanted them anyway).

It means getting out and moving, which I still do not do.

I'm working on thinking about that.

The point is, anything you do takes a long, long time to develop. There's no endpoint. Expertise is always cultivated, and it shifts with your current knowledge and the knowledge of the people in the world around you.

In the end, however, when things work the right way, they just kind of click into place. Right now I'm eating better than I ever have--and the food is the best food I have ever eaten in my life. I look forward to meals and snacks. Brown rice with ghee and sea salt, fresh avocados, raspberries, and blueberries--what could be more delicious?

The same is true of crafting. It always starts out rocky, and you don't understand what you're doing. Gradually, you accumulate expertise: You know what the instructions in the patterns mean, and you can execute skills without a blink. "Slip, slip, knit"? Bring it on, baby.

In the meantime, however, as you learn, there is the struggle--going to the Local Yarn Shop again and again with questions, searching through technique books, surfing YouTube. It gets embarrassing sometimes.

Owning a LYS, I have watched the struggle many times--and that includes my own struggles with reading instructions. I have to say that I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the distressed knitter trying to figure out what the pattern is saying. From the very beginning, it drove me into writing patterns.

At this point, writing patterns is in my blood. I know how to explain knitting. And I love to explain it so that knitters understand. I want my patterns to make knitting feel healthy to the knitter--he or she might be learning new skills, but there is no struggle with things that need not be a struggle. No one wants to puzzle out decreases in rows; we all just want to knit.

In my patterns, I try to explain why you are doing what you are doing, so that when you get to a pattern that is a bit more ... shall we say ... pithy, you know what to do.

I want to show you why you might want to make certain choices. That way, when you get to a pattern without options, and the instructions aren't working, you know how to forge ahead on your own. And, in the end, if you don't follow my advice because you want to do something differently to make it work better for you, then fine. It's knitting.

Knitting should not be something that raises your blood pressure. You can go to work for that. If you are knitting with patterns that make knitting a pleasure, then the knitting is not frustrating and stressful, but healthy and fun, like eating a bowl of blueberries. And that's the whole point. Knitting: It's supposed to be fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three New Patterns!

This is the time of the year when I am working hard knitting. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. I have been working especially hard on a few new designs and have printed up 3 new ones. Let's take them one at a time, shall we?

The first is called "Alice Bee." It is named for my friend Alice, who loves stripes; and as I was putting the colors together, I was thinking of her as well. Alice Bee is shown in the photo as a cowl, but I've included instructions in the pattern for a scarf and a shawl.

The next one, "Kimmie," is named for my business partner, Kim. She was trying to figure out a way to use Zing String, a carry-along yarn, in some knitted item other than a scarf. Zing String has beads attached to a thin thread, which you hold with another, heavier yarn. Kim thought of a hat. I told her that the problem was that it was knitted in the round, all the beads would go to the back. So she suggested using reverse stockinette with some rows of stockinette, and sketched out what she was thinking. "You design it, work out all the numbers, and name it after me," she said. Okay then.

Kimmie uses slip stitches to make the stockinette rows pop. We have many kits available with this pattern at Stitch Your Art Out. It was fun matching the beads to the yarn!

And finally, it's a project I've been wanting to write up for years: The pattern for a beginner's Fair-Isle headband. I call it "First Fair Isle."

I spent a lot of time working on this one, not so much with the Fair-Isle pattern, but more with the fit. I was tired of headbands with ribbing that stuck out funny. So this one has those issues worked out. In the pattern, I also give suggestions for color combinations so that you're sure to have a headband that looks great every time, no matter which colors you use. I also give details on how and why to block Fair Isle. It's a great little stash buster--or even a way to accumulate more stash! (Did I mention that I own a yarn shop?)

All of these patterns are available on Ravelry or at Stitch Your Art Out. (I'm happy to wholesale via either Ravelry or directly with paper copies as well.) I have more designs in the works, which I hope to release over the next month or two. I'm trying to keep my writing caught up to my knitting, but somehow that isn't quite working. (It seems that it's more fun to knit than to write about what you knit. Who knew?)