Vogue Knitting Live 2014: Day 2

VKL NYNY

This post contains affiliate links.

My second day at Vogue Knitting Live started off with no hot water at home (and who doesn’t love showering in cold water when it’s sleeting outside?).  In the rush to get out the door, I forgot to take the ceremonial pre-show picture of me in my handmade goodies.  (I was wearing my 2013 Temperature Scarf, which is perfect for cold weather.)

My first stop was an interview with the delightful Kate Atherley from Wise Hilda.  I should be posting it in a few weeks.  I asked her to pose with her two books, Beyond Knit & Purl and Knit Accessories.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Kate Atherley

Then I walked through the fashion and art exhibits.  I’m planning a separate post about these, so I’m sharing just one picture today.  This is a crocheted piece by fashion designer, Gabriela Serigatto.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Gabriela Sarigatto2

My next stop was the Marketplace.  I learned a lot from Rosemary Drysdale‘s Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting, and she was signing books at the Vogue Knitting booth.

VKL NYC 2014 Rosemary Drysdale Autograph

From there, I snuck over to the Leilani Arts table.  You see, they sell this Soft Donegal yarn, which has become the favorite amongst the men in family: soft but charcoal (with a little tweed to keep my interest).

VKL NYC 2014 Studio Donegal

I promised my dad I’d make him a version of this cabled hat, so I needed another skein.  Melissa Leapman rung up my sale.

Then, I went to the Knitty City booth (it’s always a treat to see your favorite local yarn shop at an event) to get my copy of Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits signed by Shirley Paden.

VKL NYC 2014 Shirley Paden autograph

Shirley was really quite friendly and we had a nice chat about her class on Craftsy, which is a companion to the book, as well as the We Love Shirley Paden group on Ravelry.  (Shirley assures me she didn’t name the group!)  The group sounds like a lot of fun and they have even hosted three Design-a-Longs.

I had a few minutes after the book signing to watch the beginning of the Fiber Factor Fashion show.  I learned there will be KALs throughout 2014 and the next “season” will begin in 2015, but I missed the announcement of the winner.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Fiber Factor Rachel Henry Gates of Dawn

This stunning felted dress, Gates of Dawn by Rachel Henry, was one of my favorite Fiber Factor projects on display.

Believe it or not, I had time for two more quick stops before reaching my final VK Live destination.  I took a picture of Virginia from Yellowfarm (interviewed here), who I met at last year’s event.

blog VKL NYC 2014 YellowFarm Virginia

And, then I visited the Full Moon Farm booth, to snap a picture of Laura.  My interview with her will be coming up soon.  We met last year, too.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Full Moon Farm Laura

And then I headed off to the Michelle’s Assortment booth.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment Michelle

I helped out in Michelle’s booth for a few hours in the afternoon, so she could stretch her legs and walk around the Marketplace for a bit.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about her creative process.  She’s sponsoring two months of prizes for my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long, so it was great to meet her in real life and see all of her awesome shawl pins, bookmarks, and stitch markers.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment circles

I particularly like Michelle’s round shawl pins.  It was also great to see her collaboration with other indie business owners.  Michelle had several samples from Ash Kearns on display to show off her shawl pins including Havelock (left) and Everton Lace Wrap (right), along with the print versions of the patterns.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment Ash Kearns samples

Of course, I couldn’t spend all that time in Michelle’s booth without falling in love with some shawl pins.  I was initially drawn in by the circles, I ended up choosing two straight pins for myself.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment goodies

These will definitely need to be re-shot in natural lighting because you can’t see the beauty in this picture.  I’m off to get some rest before Day 3!

2013 Temperature Scarf: Lessons Learned

I’m excited to say that I did finish crocheting my temperature scarf this week.  The 113 remaining rows just flew by.

blog Temperature scarf folded roll

I ended up using 8 different colorways for this project.

Temperature Scarf Yarn Collage

 

Four of the skeins (Dream in Color Classy in Spring Tickle and Happy Forest and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Fragrant and Cove) were purchased at my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City; two others (Miss Babs Yowza–Whatta Skein! in Violets in the Grass and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Midnight in Manhattan) were picked up at another local yarn shop, The Yarn Company; and I bought the two remaining skeins (Molly Girl Chart Topper in Anastasia and Aella) from a local dyer at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.

2013 Temperature Scarf outline

My original plan called for the use of just 7 yarns, but since 24% of the year’s dates fell into the same temperature range, I ended up running out of yarn for one of the temperature ranges and adding another yarn.

Since I was crocheting at a significant lag (I recorded the temperatures throughout the year, but ended up crocheting most of the scarf after November), I was able to make a substitution.  If I were to make another temperature scarf, I’d use a shorter range of temperatures, perhaps 8 degrees for each color.

blog Temperature scarf folded detail

Of course, this would mean that some colors wouldn’t be used at all.  As it stands, the Spring Tickle (representing the coldest temperature range) was only used for two rows.

One thing I’m happy I didn’t do was assign colors based on their association to the temperature.  Many of the temperature scarves I’ve seen use blues for lower temperatures and reds for higher temperatures, for example.  I just arranged my colorways in an order that was pleasing to my eye when I first started this project, and then assigned the temperatures in that order.

blog Temperature scarf folded flat

Another thing I would do differently (though I LOVE how the Violets in the Grass colorway looks in this scarf) would be to only use yarns with a very similar thickness.  The Miss Babs yarn is much thinner than the rest, and I used a larger hook for those rows to keep the gauge similar.

Now that the scarf is blocked, I’d really like to add some buttons.

blog Temperature scarf folded top

 

The stitch pattern I’ve used for this scarf sort of naturally forms a row of button holes at the edge.  But with all of these colors, it’s hard to pick a good set of buttons.  Naturally, I dug through my collection first.

blog Temperature scarf button ideas

I’m leaning towards using the blue square buttons at the top left and maybe the black and white polka dots.  I don’t want to seal this up permanently as an infinity cowl/circle scarf, but I think I’m less likely to wear it as a scarf, so buttons seemed the perfect solution.

Or, should I just go out and try to find buttons specifically for this project?  What do you think?

Overall, I really enjoyed my first conceptual crochet project. It was interesting to give away control of the striping and to create a project that I absolutely couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.  I think my next conceptual crochet project will be a blanket of some kind – but that’s not until I work through more of my remaining stash!

And, on that note, I’m pleased to say that I used up 873 yards of yarn with this project.  My scarf measures about 8.5″ (21.5 cm) by 79″ (200.5 cm), which is pretty long for me since I’m only 5’3″ (1.6 m).  It’s gorgeous though, and perfect for the next cold spell.

Ice Age

Temperatures are dropping in New York City.  Yesterday, it was so cold I could barely stand being outside for even a few minutes – which I did anyway, just to take pictures for this blog post (and to buy cat litter).

I bundled up with my current favorite cold weather scarf, my sample for the Bobble Diamonds and Posts Scarf.  This is one of my first designs, and I didn’t actually plan the size so much as fall into it.  It happens to be perfect for wrapping around 3 times and tucking, for when it’s so cold you don’t even want one little bit of wind to touch your neck.

Bobble diamonds and posts selfie

I took a little selfie on the way out so you can see what I mean.

My biggest crochet goal for the next week is to finish my 2013 Temperature Scarf (free pattern here) by Monday.  The reason: the scarf tracks 2013 in temperature and I want to finish it in one year.  (According to my Ravelry notes, I started it on January 13 last year.)  I have high hopes that this will be my new favorite cold weather scarf.

Temp scarf 2013 revised through 2013-09-08

Believe it or not, this picture, which doesn’t even include the entire scarf, is the best shot I could get.  The winds kept curling up the edges and it was just too cold to stand outside much longer.  The scarf is currently 54″ long and about 9″ wide, and I’ve crocheted one row for every day through September 8.

When you last saw this scarf, it looked like this.

Temperature scarf thru 2013-09-06 from end

I ended up running out of the yarn I was using for 75-87 degrees.  (It turns out there were 88 days with a high of 75-87 degrees in New York City last year, or about 24% of the year.)  I went through a few different scenarios – switch to a new yarn when the other colorway runs out; start from scratch and split the 75-87 degree range into two ranges (75-80, 81-87); etc.  In the end, I decided to buy another skein of special-to-me yarn.

In November, on Small Business Saturday, I stopped into one of my local yarn shops, The Yarn Company, and bought a skein of madelintosh tosh vintage in their exclusive colorway, Midnight in Manhattan.

Small Business Saturday haul

(Of course, then I also had to stop into my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City, to get a set of ChiaoGoo bamboo needles, also pictured above.)  I liked the yarn because it’s an exclusive colorway, so it seemed very personal to my neighborhood, and it’s blue, so I thought it would work with the other colorways pretty well.

I ended up taking a middle ground.  I ripped back 37 rows to the point in August where there had been 44 of those 75-87 degree days.  So the first half of those days were crocheted with Molly Girl Chart Topper in Aella (formerly known as Yarn Monkey Productions Supersaki), and the next half will be finished with Midnight in Manhattan.

Temp scarf 2013 revised through 2013-09-08 midnight blue detail

Although now I’m wondering if the Midnight in Manhattan is too dark/too much contrast compared to the other yarns…

At this point, I think I’ll just continue.  After all, I need a really warm scarf – it’s freezing out.  And I’d like to make a matching hat with some of the leftovers, so I’ll need to see what’s actually left before deciding on my hat pattern.  Plus, one of the reasons I decided to make this scarf was to experiment with color.  And, in case I still need more reasons, I really, really don’t want to pull out rows again.

2014 reading challenge

This post contains affiliate links.

As for reading, I fell (slightly) short of my 2013 Reading Challenge goal, finishing 63 instead of 65 books.  I decided to keep my 2014 goal the same, at 65 books.  I already finished my first two books of the year, including The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I understand the criticisms of the book, but I found it really compelling and ended up staying up late (quite a bit late) for several nights to finish it.  However, I now feel the need to take a break from 700+ page novels examining the human condition, so I’ve started reading Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits by Shirley Paden.  I’m not sure what book will catch my fancy next – possible one of the many already waiting for me in my Kindle Fire…

For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

2013 in Review

YOP3 dates

Last week, I finished my last Year of Projects post of 2013 with a cliffhanger: how many more projects could I complete in 2013?

I ended up finishing just one more project, a baby blanket for my cousin’s newborn.  (My cousin was in labor when I wrote the post, and has since delivered a healthy baby girl.  Yay!)

Ava car seat blanket detail

I originally had a plan for a symmetrical blanket.

Ava blanket planEach square was made holding two skeins of yarn, with the colors blending into each other.  I planned to have an “x shape” of hearts radiating outward from the center.

Unfortunately, my yarn calculations were a bit off, so I had to move on to Plan B – an asymmetric design with an “L shape” around one edge – to work with the colors I had left.

Ava car seat blanket

I like how it turned out.  I should mention that the yarn that looks brown in the picture is actually purple, and the colors look much brighter and more attractive in real life!

And with that project, I came to the end of my yarn usage for 2013.

Overall, I worked up about 1,700 yards less than in 2012 (which is no surprise, since I made many fewer projects in 2013), but I knit a lot more (about 19% of my total yarn usage, compared to about 4% in 2012).  That trend will probably continue this year, since I’m planning to make up a few extra samples of my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long blanket.

My plans for the next half of the Year of Projects are to:

  • Finish my 2013 temperature scarf.  I love this thing so far, and I can’t wait to wear it during the impending cold front.  I crocheted through September 6, so I have 116 more rows to go.  I’m not sure if I’ll join it as an infinity scarf, or add buttons so I have the option to wear it as a scarf or cowl.  As you can tell from the photo below, it clearly needs blocking and a massive weaving in of ends before it can be worn.

Temperature scarf thru 2013-09-06

  • Take pictures and finish formatting the five patterns I have that are ready to self-publish.  (What can I say, it’s tough to find models willing to stand outdoors in the New York cold in exchange for baked goods!)
  • Keep working on the projects for the e-book I plan to release in March.  I have one in progress to finish, and 2 more to make.
  • Come up with something exciting to do for the Ravellenic Games.  I would like to come up with some kind of mystery crochet-a-long, but I’m not sure if I have time.

I’m keeping my goals a bit fluid because mainly I want to keep working on using my stash and getting more patterns ready for publication.  My original goals were all about developing patterns and self-publishing, and I plan to keep on moving in the same direction.

What are your plans for the first half of 2014?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Small Business Holiday Shopping Guide

In the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of reflection and gratitude.  The holiday is supposed to be about being thankful for what you have and spending time with loved ones (and let’s not forget eating favorite foods), but it has also become the official start of the winter holiday shopping season. I dislike crowds and rampant consumerism, so Black Friday sales and doorbusters are pretty much the total opposite of my idea of a good time.

Especially during this time of year, it’s important for me to support small businesses.  Here’s my version of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping guide highlighting some great small businesses I’ve encountered with over the past year.  (Oh yeah, and there are some discounts, too.)

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ll start by saying that I’m offering a 25% discount in my Ravelry and Etsy shops with coupon code shopsmall13 through 11:59 Eastern on Monday, December 2, 2013.

Underground Crafter pattern collage

In my Ravelry shop, you’ll can purchase any of my self-published patterns for instant download.  All of these patterns are included in the Indie Design Gift-a-long on Ravelry, where you can win great prizes from indie designers and yarn companies.

 

Underground Crafter hooks Collage

You’ll find the same patterns in my Etsy shop, along with bamboo Tunisian crochet, crochet, and “knooking” (knitting with a crochet hook) hooks.  If you’re looking for a fun crafty gift, I sell a Tunisian crochet gift set with 5 Tunisian crochet hooks and my Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet all wrapped up nicely with a gift card.

 

Other Gift Ideas for Crocheters and Knitters

Sistermaide hooks

 

Molly Girl Chart Topper

  • Earlier this year, I spent the day at the farm of the Long Island Livestock Company, which was amazing.  (I’m still working on writing up a blog post to do my visit justice!)  If you’re in the Long Island area this Sunday, you should absolutely check out the open house at the farm, where you can buy her gorgeous llama yarns, rovings, and skin care products.  (And don’t forget the cat toys, which my cat gave 5 stars.)  You can find more details on her Facebook page.  Click on the flier to enlarge it.

Long Island Livestock Company open house

 

  • I recently finished reading Sweater 101, an amazing book by Cheryl Brunette that is produced by an indie/small publisher.  If you have a friend who wants to try out knitting (or even crocheting, because there is a lot of general information) their own sweater, this would be a fabulous gift.  You can find more knitting and crochet books that I’ve reviewed here.

sweater101

  • And if you’re looking for other ideas for the knitters and crocheters in your life, check out Marly Bird‘s frequently updated compilation of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales on her blog here. You can find links to discounts on patterns, yarn, needles/hooks, bags, and all sorts of other goodies there.

 

Big Ticket Items

And in case you’re in the position to splurge (as a gift, or for yourself)…

Jenny Hall

Last year, I injured my back and spent most of 2013 in constant discomfort.  A few months ago, I was referred to Jenny Hall, a Licensed Massage Therapist. I always thought massage was a frivolous luxury, but Jenny’s approach to massage isn’t about spending a day at the spa to pamper yourself, but being aware of your body and working on it as part of a long term plan for your health.  Visiting her office has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and is truly money well spent.  For those of you in the New York City area, Jenny offers competitive rates, including discount packages.

If you live elsewhere, Jenny recommends looking for a reputable massage therapist through the American Massage Therapy Association, or by reading reviews in a local Yelp search.

Creativity Yenta

My long time readers already know Carlota Zimmerman, the Creativity Yenta (interviewed here).  Carlota is a creativity coach, and was instrumental in helping me make a career transition this year.  With the New Year around the corner, booking a series of appointments with Carlota for yourself, or as a gift for a loved one, may be the inspiration needed to kick off a career or other creative transition.  And Carlota’s offering a special discount for my readers!

Get. Started. Now.

Ready to make 2014 the year you achieve your goals? Ready to start creating a life you love? This package is for people who are looking to change their lives, but are not exactly sure how to get started, given how overwhelming the process can be. Many people have very manageable goals, but they find that the actual mechanics of starting something new are, frankly, terrifying.

Terrifying… unless you hire a coach with a Type-A personality who loves to create detailed, step-by-step plans to get people started, and is comfortable holding clients accountable.  (Oh, you lucky people.) Over these six weeks, we’ll organize your goals, and craft a realistic strategy based on your personality and experience, allowing you to start creating the life you’ve always wanted.

Get. Started. Now.

So many people find that the hardest thing is knowing where and how to start. I’ll get you started, and then I’ll help you create the long-term habits necessary to maintain and grow your success. At the end of six weeks, you’ll have an exit strategy to keep moving forward, as well as the skills necessary to keep creating the opportunities you need. $575

This package is specifically for friends of Underground Crafter. It will expire on December 31, 2013. To take advantage of this package, please email me at carlotazee AT gmail DOT com, and become a fan of my business Facebook page.

 

Please remember to shop small throughout the holiday season, and to think about buying (or making) creative gifts that inspire the recipients!