a tax-time knit for comfort

Aah, tax time.

With our anniversary on April 14th, taxes are filed early. Some years we rejoice; some years we pay. This was a year we had to pay.

When I first saw the Comfort of a Friend Shawls for a doll and girl I wanted to begin knitting right away! The shawl isn’t sexy, but it’s practical and I really like practical garments that I can wear. When I learned that Laura Ricketts also designed an adult version and that, this lovely shawl* (sized xs-3x!) would be the first Knit-a-Long after the book release, I was definitely excited. Then Heather told me it was planned to start on April 16th… because we all need some comfort that day and I knew I would be knitting along. Will you join us?

comfort shawlSince the tax-man received my check, I went stash diving for a yarn I adore and I know brings me comfort, Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Why Wool-Ease? It’s a work yarn. It’s a yarn for wearing and living in. It will hold up to the abuse I give my clothing. This particular batch of Wool-ease was destined to become a blanket for the house and was purchased long before we made any interior decorating decisions. Over the winter I finally proclaimed defeat (as I snuggled into a store-bought blanket) and ripped that project. I love the colour and it will provide nice contrast to my daily uniform of black. I will be able to wear this around the house and will not stress about if the cat cuddles a little too closely and we get tangled up or if I spill coffee everywhere. Again. The yarn holds up through repeated washings and dryings that in a year or three I could even still wear it out in public without fear of it looking overly worn. Is it a sexy yarn? No, but I love it.

Since my taxes are filed and paid and I needed a traveling project, I cast-on last week. Yes, I broke the KAL “rules” but we’re a low-stress bunch.

The designer recommends beginning the ribbing with a long-tail tubular cast-on for a lovely, smooth, seamless, and elastic edge.

I enjoy working different cast-ons, but I also have a known love affair with Judy’s Magic Cast-on (aka JMCO). It’s not just for sock toes! I keep turning to it in my designs and love it for provisional cast-ons. I’ve enjoyed using it in a few projects for a tubular 1×1 rib and decided to give it a go on this for a 2×2 rib.

What?! Can you turn knitting started in-the-round into ribbing knit flat? Yes.

How? First, watch this youtube video by Lorilee Beltman. You set up this cast-on by knitting one round, then fold the work in half to create the ribbing which will be knit flat. It sounds more confusing than it is. Just trust me. Is this as stretchy? I don’t think it works as well for 2×2 rib, but I still like it. Will this pull on the bias? Yes, a little. The instructions below are modified from how I did my setup, I believe beginning with a larger needle will both increase the stretch and reduce bias pull. I’ll test it when I knit my second shawl, because yes, I will be knitting at least two!

Using JMCO cast-on the desired number of stitches onto 5 mm (US 8) needles (This is easiest with two circulars or magic loop. Remember: half of the total is on each needle.)
Round 1 – Knit around.
Row 1 – Next, as demonstrated in the video, fold the work over (as if you were to do a three needle bind-off). Change to a 4mm needle. Knit two stitches from the front needle, purl two stitches from back needle, repeating this pattern until all stitches are worked.
Row 2 – Continue in established 2×2 rib (beginning with a k2 or p2 as appropriate) as per pattern instructions.

comfort shawl ribbing unstretched

comfort shawl ribbing stretched

I promise not every post in the foreseeable future will be about the book! Assisting with some of the coordination of all the many pieces has meant this book is something I think about constantly and it has seeped into all parts of my work and life.

* note: The adult version of the shawl was offered as a special thank you pattern for those who pre-ordered. It is not available in the book and is a separate pattern available for purchase. Thank you.

books! let there be books!

I tried to read through my eyelids over pesach. I slept more than I read, but that was a good thing.

Ben Weatherstaff' FriendFirst: The Book, What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? will be released tomorrow!
Please pre-order and join the mailing list to receive release day goodies (many for free).
This book includes my design, Ben Weatherstaff’s Friend and 28 additional beautiful patterns, including one for weaving. This book really is special and I hope you enjoy it!

One book I managed to finish reading was Red Thread Thinking by Debra Kayne.

Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable InnovationsKayne has written a deeply researched book on how to change one’s thinking habits to increase creativity. She shows how the innovative thoughts we all desire to take our businesses and work to the next level are actually not-so-elusive. By drawing on experience with her clients, research into traditional literature, exploring what other innovators are doing, and looking into many other sources (including Strunk & White, pinterest, and other modern technologies) Kayne proves that it is possible to methodically produce innovative thought.

What is innovation? It is the braiding or weaving together of core areas (developing new ideas, engaging in challenging tasks, broadening knowledge, and interacting with stimulating people and places), areas which when specifically worked on, enhance people’s ability to innovate.

I also appreciated two aspects of her book. First, reminding us to sleep on it. When I’m trying to solve a sticky issue, I try to do one (or all!) of the following: go for a trail run, knit something, take a nap… this time taken for mediation, me time, or sleep has been shown to help boost creativity. Second, and this should come as no surprise, the inclusion in the appendix of “Discussion and Question Guide for Cat Research” found me head over heels in love. First that it is for cat research, second because of how detailed it is and how by not being just a bland and irreverant focus group but an in-depth interview that includes a request to allow the interviewer to see the owner interact with their cat reminded me that this is a well thought out book.

This book is not for the faint-of-heart. It is not one of those super quick light reading business books that crowd the shelves. It is a valuable resource if you wish you thought a little more differently or you wanted to more systematically refine your approach. I highly recommend it.

I received my ARC of this title through Net Galley.

five reasons why W(e)WMDfK? is special

I’m excited to be able to finally announce that I have a design in the soon-to-be-released* What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit?, the second volume of the What Would Madame Defarge Knit? book series.

I love this series as the books and designs draw on the spirit of Heather Ordover’s successful Craftlit Podcast by combining classic literature with crafting fun. Further, Heather paired with Shannon Okey‘s Cooperative Press to create a unique and fair compensation model for designers. I will receive royalties instead of just an upfront fee for my design. This is fascinating as it encourages me to be active in promoting the book. I promise to try not to be icky, but I do encourage you to check this book out, I would be recommending even if I wasn’t in it.

keyFive key reasons why I believe W(e)WMDfK? is special, and not just because I have a pattern in it.

  1. W(e)WMDfK? is special because of its designer compensation structure.
  2. W(e)WMDfK? is special because the essays and designs are drawn from characters in classic literature.
  3. W(e)WMDfK? is special because this title continues the tradition of the first volume with beautiful illustrations that accompany the essays and patterns.
  4. W(e)WMDfK? is special because it will continue to be printed in the US.
  5. W(e)WMDfK? is special because this time there are photographs! And they’re in colour!

* When will it be released? Very soon. We’re weaving in the loose ends and double checking everything now.

Do you want to stay in the loop? Please sign up for the mailing list to learn of special pre-release goodies and when the book is released.

Can’t wait? You can pre-order a copy of your very own through Cooperative Press.

You can learn more about my designs at Little Acorn Creations.

Can you guess the book my design is based upon?

Disclaimer: I now count both Crafting A Life, Inc. and Cooperative Press as clients. They were not when I submitted my design proposal.