September 22, 2006

I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

I want to thank all those knitters up and down the West Coast who helped me to assemble a trunk show for my presentation at Guild. Packages started arriving from California, from Oregon, and I came away with an armload of stuff from my local Feral Knitters this past Monday.

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Starting with the hedgehog and moving clockwise --

a Huggable Hedgehog, knitted by Wendi Lewis (Seattle) who's a current Feralite and who formerly served as SKG president while I was newsletter editor;

Celtic Pillows, designed and knitted by Janine Bajus, who's the Ferals's founding den mother (the pillow tops made it up from California with Janine in her most recent jaunt in this new period of her life where she's dividing her time between the Bay Area and Seattle);

pink Meilenweit cotton socks, and self-striping Meilenweit turquoise/chartreuse cotton sock, knitted by my friend Jewel Miller (California);

black beaded wristwarmers, designed by Susanna Hansson (Seattle), and knitted for me as a gift from her;

a stack of sweaters, bottom to top:

a Jamieson's Shetland Heather Aran sweater knitted by Anne Berk (Oregon);

a Sandness sweater knitted by Feralite June Dickinson (Camano Island, Washington);

an Elfin sweater knitted by Anne Berk from Kidsilk Haze;

a Northwest Sunset vest knitted by Anne Berk from Jamieson's Spindrift;

topping off the pile o' sweaters is June Dickinson's Floral Fair Isle gloves in Spindrift;

and, reclining on the couch, is Anne Berk's Panel Party pullover, a Sally Melville design knitted in Jamieson's Double Knitting.

When I was preparing my presentation, I knew that I would have only a couple of finished things of my own that I could show as examples of the kinds of projects that you can knit with the kinds of materials you can buy at Two Swans Yarns. When I asked friends if I could borrow some of their finished objects, they very graciously agreed, and very generously shipped things to me or hand-delivered things to me. I think everyone who attended Guild that night will say that this trunk show was one of the highlights.

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What I was most thrilled about that evening was picking up the patterns for the "I'm a Little Teapot" Fair Isle Tea Cozy! Yes, the printer (who, in his other life, is my brother) met what ended up being a very tight deadline. He did a beautiful job of printing the patterns on some gorgeous, heavy cover stock, scoring and folding them -- these just could not look more professional! I picked up the patterns from his print shop in Edmonds, and driving all the way to Seattle that evening, I had one hand on the steering wheel and in the other hand -- one of these patterns. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road, I was so entranced by the finished product. Fortunately, I took some back roads, and traffic was light.

So, the Two Swans Yarns line of knitting patterns got launched, on the occasion of my presentation. I'm really tickled that I met that goal.

June Dickinson, designer of the tea cozy, seemed tickled, too. It was a very sweet scene: People were purchasing patterns, then handing them to June for her autograph.

One question that I was asked, at the end of my presentation, was, Where do I advertise Two Swans, and how did I choose them? Speaking off the top of my head, I said that I advertise in Interweave Knits and in the Tigard Knitting Guild newsletter. In my best judgment, Interweave Knits publishes patterns that most closely fit the "traditional knitting" theme of Two Swans, of any of the knitting magazines out there, and I think the magazine's demographic most closely aligns with my shop's. I believe in supporting guilds (and isn't that obvious, after all the volunteering I've done for SKG?), and the Tigard Guild is a nearby guild that accepts advertising in its newsletter.

What I failed to remember, answering that unexpected question, are two other places where I advertise: Janet Szabo's Twists and Turns newsletter for Aran knitting, and Bonnie Franz's Stranded newsletter for color stranded knitting. These newsletters are intended for knitters who are keeping the traditions alive, and I definitely want to support these publications. If you haven't seen these newsletters already, I hope you'll check 'em out. I know that publishing these newsletters is very much a labor of love for each of those women -- and now that I've gotten the tea cozy pattern back from the printer, it's especially fresh in my memory how very labor-intensive it is to put together a publication like this.

* * *

Here on the knitting front at home, inspired by all of the hedgehog photos I've been sent recently (from Sheri, from Kate, and others), my eldest daughter Jennie wanted to make one, too. Here's a shot of hers after she's knitted the belly and paws, and is a few rows into knitting the back:

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I want to echo something that Kate wrote in the comments: While the hedgie is a well-thought-out, easy-to-follow pattern, it is probably not well-suited to beginning knitters. It takes a lot of short rows, of the wrap-and-turn variety -- although, so far, you don't need to pick up the wraps or any such thing. The eyelashes in the yarn can obscure the stitches of the wool that you're knitting, making those stitches difficult to count (you're knitting with a strand of a 10-ply wool and a novelty yarn simultaneously). On this project, Jennie has learned not only short row wrap-and-turn, but also how to increase by knitting into the front and back of a stitch. While it is proving to not be a one-day project for her, she's having a lot of fun knitting her little hedgie. And she gets by with a little help from mom - tinking and teaching.

Posted by Karen at 02:55 PM | Comments (3)

September 18, 2006

SHE BLINDED ME WITH . . . BUBBLE GUM . . . ER, SCIENCE

Allegra came home from school the other day wanting to do the 5-point extra-credit assignment for her science class. The prompt went like this: Design an experiment to test which of 5 different brands of bubble gum is the best for blowing the biggest bubble. Well, there's designing an experiment - - and then there's Designing an Experiment.

At the store, Allegra chose 5 different kinds of bubble gum from the 7 (only 7?) that the store had for sale. Here are the gum pieces, after being weighed on the Two Swans postage scale and trimmed so that all samples were .2 ounces (part of her Design being that all pieces should weigh the same in order to have the best basis for comparison):

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Experiment in progress:

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Subject A measures the size of the bubble blown by Subject B.

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Subject B measures the size of the bubble blown by Subject A.

Allegra spent over three hours designing this experiment, running it, and recording her results. Running it -- did I mention that each Subject chewed and blew 3 samples of each of those 5 kinds of gum? You should'a heard them complaining about sore teeth and tired jaws, as the evening wore on. (I remember from my days as a teacher how some kids would bust their butts for the extra credit. And I'd think, Why can't they put that much energy into their regular classwork? Fortunately, she also got her regular homework done that evening, too.) The science teacher was suitably impressed, and awarded her 8 points. Whew!

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Allegra applying what she has learned. Hubba Bubba brand was the clear winner.

In Two Swans Yarns news, I've been busting my butt (inelegant phrase as that is) to get the Two Swans Yarns line of knitting patterns off the ground. I've always meant to get around to publishing patterns, but this month I have an excellent motivation -- I'm to be the speaker at the Seattle Knitters Guild this Wednesday evening. What better time to launch these patterns?

Yes, I'll be publishing the pattern for my Fair Isle vest, and for a pair of cabled socks . . . soon. Very soon. But first off the press will be the Fair Isle tea cozy designed by my friend and fellow Feralite, June Dickinson:

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Taking the photos, laying out the pattern, checking and double-checking everything -- these tasks consumed my time last week. Laying out the knitting charts, in color, was the most complicated layout I've ever done -- and I've prepared a lot of things for printing. But, once I've figured it out for this first pattern, future charts should come together more quickly. I hope.

I delivered the files to the print shop at the proverbial crack o' dawn this morning. And . . . keeping fingers crossed . . . they will be printed in time for me to bring them to sell at the Guild meeting.

And I leave you with this, Dear Readers: One of the most fun parts of my job is getting e-mails and pictures from customers showing off their FOs. Last night, late last night, while putting the finishing touches on the above-mentioned pattern layout, I received an e-mail from Kathryn, directing me to her blog to see her finished herd of hedgies. It was only, like, 10 days ago that I mailed the pattern to her . . . take off two days' time in the mail . . . and it must be that the hedgies are a quick-to-knit project and that Kathryn is a fast knitter.

Posted by Karen at 10:28 AM | Comments (5)

September 10, 2006

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Posted by Karen at 04:44 PM | Comments (9)