Books, books, books!

Sometimes I think to myself I was always headed for this life. As a kid, I took out WAY more books from the library than anyone else. I remember a librarian, wide-eyed, looking at the stack of books I was carrying (arms straight out, filled all the way up to my chin), saying to my mother “is she going to actually READ all of those?” and my mom saying yup, she’ll be back in a week for more. And she was NOT exaggerating!

Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in the books that Cooperative Press publishes that I have trouble finding time to work on my own. The cobbler’s children have no shoes, and all that. This past weekend I went to the American Library Association show in Philadelphia to scope things out before we exhibit at their big summer show in Vegas. Larissa Brown, whose novel Beautiful Wreck was just published by CP, came along with me. (More on that in another day or two. There are big promotional plans afoot!)

BOOOOOOKS. So many books! I started to get dizzy after a while, it was glorious. And what a trip it was! In addition to the show, I got to see several good friends, visit places I love in NYC and Boston, and just generally recharge. The best part of these big trips, for me, is long loooong hours alone in the car. Thinking time! I need thinking time where I am nowhere near a computer and can let my brain wander around. I got inspired to finish up this one book I’ve been working on FOREVER, and I made plans for a new knitwear collection that I’d like to shoot when we’re on vacation this fall (spoiler alert, I’ve FINALLY convinced my husband to go to Orkney and Shetland, and I know he means it because he’s started stocking up on new camera gear — the man loves his photography).

So here’s a question for you, since I think I have a tendency towards doing big big things like sweaters — would you like to see a mix of project sizes and types, or should I just go full tilt garment crazy? I’m leaning towards a mix, but part of that is practicality, since I’ll need to get them all finished before we go!

The other long-neglected project is coming together, too. More on that soon. I am starting to come out of my usual winter slump, so look out!

Oh, and meanwhile, come hang out with me on Pinterest — I’ve really been keeping a lot of inspirational photo ideas tucked in over there.

One last thing, and it was a pretty exciting honor from out of nowhere — I was recently included on this fabulous list of 49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art. So consider me guilted into blogging more, I know I’ve been slacking of late!

New year, new classes

It’s been a while since I offered classes on my online site but given that I won’t be on the teaching circuit in 2014 as much as I have been for the past 18 months, I thought it would be fun to teach this way again!

I like teaching online because we can get even more in depth, there’s no fear you’re going to forget something or not get a chance to ask the right questions during a short 3-hour class, and I think people learn even better when they have more of a chance to interact with their fellow students.

Joining me in the relaunch of online classes during this session is Andi Smith, author of Big Foot Knits and one of my best friends / knitting gurus. Her first class offering is based on her book (It’s not just for those with big feet like me…we really should have called it All Foot Knits!), and her second class is crochet.

I’m offering just one class to start, but may add additional classes in January after I get back from the American Library Association show!

Class sizes are limited. (And hey, it’s digital. Desperate for a last minute holiday gift? Just sign up using your payment info and send us a note at admin at knitgrrl dot com and we’ll get it sorted).

Classes are starting after January first. We’ll answer questions if possible in the comments here but note that I’m out of office til then so may not respond to email immediately.

Here’s the scoop on how it works. The classes are held online, in an asynchronous format (in other words, you can log on and work at your own pace from wherever you are in the world!). All you need is an internet browser to access class materials, no webcam or special equipment. You have access to class materials, etc even after class ends. Live chats, Google hangouts and other types of communication can be scheduled at teacher’s discretion / as needed.

(Apologies for the third-party-pronoun-ing below, I wanted it to match up with Andi’s descriptions so she could cut and paste to her social media as well!) 😉

Get Published (Shannon Okey)

Cost: $70
Length: at least one month; may vary based on class enrollment and assignment completion speed.

An extended version of the class Shannon has taught at STITCHES and elsewhere for knit designers and other creative people who would like to publish their own work!

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As the owner of Cooperative Press, which has published nearly 30 knitting books since 2010, the editor of Knit Edge magazine, and author of more than a dozen books herself, Shannon has experience in all aspects of the publishing process, from concept development through to editing and publication. She’s spoken at South by Southwest Interactive and O’Reilly’s Tools of Change digital publishing conference on niche publishing. Shannon knows what sells and how you can best get it out into the world for sale, whether traditional or independent publishing; digital, print or both, formats, procedures… everything you need to know to publish successfully. No prerequisites required — even if you haven’t fully thought through what you want to write about yet, we’ll approach this from the ground up and, using Shannon’s own techniques, take your ideas from your head to the page.

Big Foot Knits (Andi Smith)

(Create a custom fitted sock just for you)

Cost: $70
Length: at least one month; may vary based on class enrollment and assignment completion speed.

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Are you tired of knitting socks that fall down, leave red bands around the cuff, squish your toes, wear out too quickly, or just plain don’t fit? Then this is the class for you! With a multitude of handouts, worksheets and examples, Andi will share her methods to creating the perfect, well-fitting sock and you will end the course with a basic template for your own custom sock pattern. This class will cover:

Module 1: Introduction.
* Why we need fitted socks.
* Identifying individual sock problems.
* Overview of what we’ll be covering throughout the class.

Module 2: How to measure gauge.
* Why gauge is the cornerstone of all knitting.
* How to create an accurate gauge swatch.
* How to measure.
* What those measurements mean.

Module 3: How to measure your legs and feet.
* How, where, when and what’s important!

Module 4: Increases and decreases.
* What each different one does.
* When they are most effective.
* Types of shaping within the sock.

Module 5: Toe shaping.
* It’s not just trapezoids anymore!

Module 6: Heels.
* How to create heels that actually fit your shape.

Module 7: Cuffs.
* What stitch patterns to use.
* How to modify cuff shape.

Module 8: How to create your own custom pattern.
* Putting all the components together.

Crocodile Crochet Stitch with Andi Smith

NOTE: THIS CLASS IS CROCHET

Cost: $30
Length: at least two weeks; may vary based on class enrollment and assignment completion speed.

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In this class, Andi teaches you how to create the crocodile stitch and then takes it one step further with squares, circles and dragon scales and beyond.

Module 1: How to create crocodile stitch
Module 2: How to create other shapes in the same style
Module 3: Everything you need to know to develop your own stitch patterns using this method.

On Rhinebeck, and obsession

(The good kind of obsession, that is, and not the 80s song by Animotion, if you were wondering).

Another Rhinebeck come and gone, and I start to realize that everyone who is in this crazy business of ours, or who is a fiber person in general, is in it because they LOVE it.

On the business side there is often a lot of (resigned) grumbling behind the scenes about how much work it takes to make how little money, but I don’t think most of us are even capable of stopping. (Read this. Really. Everything we do, we do it for you. Oh, and I challenge you to not sing that in your head a la Bryan Adams immediately after reading it).

Team Cooperative Press shared a house rental with Team Cephalopod Yarns again because we love them. At the last minute our longtime friend Stefanie Japel got added to the mix (and roped into modeling for both Andi and me!). We cooked, we built fires, we had long dinners and plenty of the two cases of homemade hard cider I brought.

(You want obsession? Man. Try hanging out with homebrewing people. They are even worse than fiber people with the obsessive behavior and spendy gadgets. If your significant other gives you guff about all your fiber tools I highly suggest you get them into brewing. A rack of Addi Turbos and three spinning wheels will start to look positively DISCOUNT compared to plate chillers and special pots and fancy all-grain brewing systems. Thank me later).

Here are some photos from the weekend…

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That last one was there when we got to the rental, I swear.

Maize is FINALLY here

Oh, you guys. I can’t even. March 2009?!

This one’s been a long time coming. Meet Maize. This time for real.

Here, let me crib from the notes inside the pattern because whoa. My head is officially done in.

Also known as: the pattern that broke a thousand tech editors (this is only a slight exaggeration). Maize is a pattern with a STORY.

Have you ever knit something that—while incredibly easy to knit—is really, really difficult to explain? That’s Maize in a nutshell. I knit the first sample in gorgeous Malabrigo “Frank Ochre,” a golden color that jumps out at you in the dim light of autumn.

Knit from the bottom up, the cables that form the peplum bottom come together organically and create shaping that’s almost invisible. Ditto at the bust and armscye…and therein the problem! Sometimes I am terrible at writing down what I do as I go along if I am knitting something for myself, which was my original intention here.

I thought my trusty long-term tech editors would be able to help. They are way better at making sense of my scribbles than I am sometimes! They tried…valiantly. So, so valiantly.

Finally, to get a pattern that was not only correct but also available in sizes other than Shannon-size, Andi knit an entirely new sample from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, the green version you see here. We tested and recharted and fixed along the way. I cannot thank everyone who helped me with this pattern enough. In particular: tech editors Alexandra Virgiel, Kate Atherley, Andi Smith and Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, all of whom have poked it with a stick (sometimes beaten it with a stick) over the past few…years.

(This pattern took forever, but I’d rather it be right than not!)

Andi gets special thanks for knitting and taking notes on the second (green) sample, and working on the charts. Ruth is probably getting a life-sized chocolate statue in the mail soon.

Beautiful photos by Caro Sheridan, as modeled by Rebecca Patterson.

YAY!

(Shannon falls over, quietly, into a puddle of glee-induced, exhaustion-inspired mush).

Repin it on Pinterest, would you?

Bad blogger, no cookie!

I think I get a tiny pass because we’ve just gotten three more amazing books out the door over at Cooperative Press: Stitching in the Stacks, Big Foot Knits and Unique Feet. Oh, and issue three of Knit Edge (issue four comes out in September — use code AUG2013 for a discount if you haven’t subscribed yet).

And TNNA.
And I taught on a boat. (Carl from Bijou Basin Ranch is not going to forgive me for a while on that one, he said he’d carry my bags next time, he wants to go so much).
And Stitches Midwest.
And and and…

AND: this will come as no surprise to someone who knows me well. Me. Books. I like them…a lot. I’ve always wanted to expand and do more/different stuff but it’s been a challenge keeping up with the whirlwind as it is. Then something happens and you say I don’t care if I never have a personal life again, I have to do X. And in this case, X is publish more books. This time: fiction. So we’ve established a separate CP division for trade paperbacks. Fiction, you name it.

Shortly, we’ll be announcing another novel we’ll be publishing at the end of the year. This book kicked my ass, if you will pardon my French. I am not much of a novel reader, admittedly. My last “favorite novel” dates back to the early 90s. (Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, if you’re keeping score). But this? I started reading and I could not put it down. Assistant CP editor and generally kickass human being MK Carroll, who was in Ohio last week for a few days in the office + a friend’s wedding, actually took the (600-page) manuscript to bed with her each night and threatened to steal it if she wasn’t done by the time she left. (She was. She lost a lot of sleep to it, but she was).

This book is SO GOOD. I am jumping up and down like a crazy person because I can’t spill the details yet until the contract is signed. But trust me: you are going to love it. Even if you read the description and think “ok, no…weird and not my thing…” YOU ARE WRONG. It is so good. I haven’t been this excited about anything in a very long time. This book gave me my mojo back. This book is just stellar. And I could probably talk about it all day but I won’t tease you any more.

Stitches Midwest was great. There were some painful bits — my elderly dachshund came down with a terrible UTI while I was gone and my mom rushed her to the vet. She’s on painkillers and strong antibiotics now, and seems to be recovering well, but of course it’s almost as painful to watch her having a hard time as it would be to go through it yourself. I ended up hiding behind the curtain on the show floor and bawling my eyes out. Then, on the way to the bathroom to wash my face I ran into my dear friend Lisa from Roman Hills and proceeded to both cry and get snot all over her. I am CLASSY like that. A word of advice: be friends with people who have toddlers. Snot does not faze them one bit. Later, we went and had a lot of margaritas with jalapenos in them. It seemed like the correct thing to do, given the day we’d had.

Seeing Andi talking to people who loved her book (Big Foot Knits) was SO joyous for me. Due to a list of things happening that frankly you would not even believe if I told you, that book got delayed again and again. And I’m not talking “oh, small thing.” I’m talking multiple hospitalizations and more. It is so good. She is so good. She has been an instrumental part in getting both me and CP to where we are now and I do not know what I would do without her. I probably talk to her on the phone more than I talk to my own mother — and mom and I talk A LOT. It makes my heart sing to see her book getting the recognition it deserves.

On a slightly different tip — my non-knitting friends continue to feed my heart with their love. Man. You have no idea. Sometimes I just get the sweetest messages from out of nowhere, right when I really need them. It’s like THEY KNOW. I could squeeze all their faces a million times over.

Finally (for now): I bought a new sewing machine to replace my decrepit old ones and went on a QUILT FRENZY. I’ve done like, four, in the past month. It is ridiculous.

I sew like a maniac. They’re not perfect. I’m learning more with each one. But they’re mine and I have been rather happily cuddled under them almost every night so who cares about perfect? They’re good. Life is good. And now I have to go pack about eight zillion orders that are waiting, which is also fine. I hope your day is equally great.

Meet Haybale! (a new pattern)

Unlike its namesake, this is GUARANTEED non-itchy.

Sometimes in life you have to be open to a change of plans. This pattern is one example of that. Originally slated for a booklet I was working on, it’s been languishing here in the studio and frankly, I was starting to get sad every time I looked at it, so I’m releasing it. Pow! Done. Sadness conquered! Meet Haybale.

Knit in Alchemy Yarns Temple, in colorway Tea Party, this deceptively simple pattern has a few major things going for it.

One, it’s knit lengthwise, which makes it go MUCH faster. I learned long ago I don’t actually hate knitting scarves. I hate knitting scarves in the other direction! And if you start to run out of yarn, or get bored, or realize you have a lot more stash to kill off, it’s ok, just keep going!

Two, the stitch pattern is deathly simple BUT there are bobbles. You can try this fancy schmancy technique for perfect mid-row crocheted bobbles in a knit project from The Holocene, or you can do regular ol’ knit bobbles (directions included). The bobbles serve not only to break up the fabric and add dimension and texture but also to break up what is otherwise mindless TV knitting. Perfect for summer.

And three, the yarn. The yarrrrrrrn. Oh, this yarn is just TASTY. And Gina at Alchemy dyes such spectacular colors that even if this one doesn’t float your boat, you can surely find any number of others that will. Her new colorway Indian Paintbrush, for example.

(This would also be a killer stashbuster pattern if you have a lot of scraps hanging out in your knitting bin…just switch colors every row, or do the pattern in black and the bobbles in brights…it’s up to you!)

The pattern is available on Ravelry and if you’re on the Knitgrrl mailing list, check your inbox, there’s a special buy-Haybale-get-a-free-pattern offer waiting for you now.

We’re still prepping for the big TNNA tradeshow in (gulp) less than two weeks, so if you happen to be going, stop by and see me in the Cooperative Press booths, 355-357-454

Enjoy!

Aww, happy nostalgia!

I got emails about two new Craftsy classes this weekend, and the first one really had me smiling / tearing up a tiny bit. The BEAUTIFUL sweater by the name of Zelda that’s featured in the class photo for Joan McGowan-Michael’s new Feminine Fit class was originally commissioned by me for issue 15 of YF. It was the cover sweater, even, and I think I might even love it more now than I did then, which is saying something.

I am such a fan of Joan’s. This sweater of hers, Ruby, is sitting in my “knit when retired” pile at the moment because I’ve had the print pattern for years now and haven’t found the time for it yet. Sad, sad face. It is so gorgeous.

Then I got an email about Marcy and Katherine Tilton’s Ultimate T-Shirt class. Marcy was a fixture on the sewing show circuit several years ago when I was doing a lot of teaching for one particular show. She is so cool, and her patterns are, too. If you are a fiber artist, and particularly a felter, I have to tell you that some of her Vogue patterns, especially this one, are just MADE to be used with felt.

Also, if you live somewhere without a good fabric store or you can’t seem to find knit jersey you like, CHECK OUT MARCY’S WEBSTORE. You will have to lock your credit card away for a little while to calm down, trust me.

So many things to make, such little time. Sniff sniff.