@whatshouldiknit Twitter-bot is live + other important things

11225723_10156184240180654_3404618327157633361_nI have to admit, this is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a while! I created a Twitter bot (find it at @whatshouldiknit) that automagically tweets knitting project suggestions once an hour using a defined series of variables including colors, stitch types, pattern types, yarns, and pattern sources. The older I get, the more fascinating software technology is to me, and I am making baby steps towards learning to write proper code. I hope you’ll enjoy this!

What else is going on? Oh, the usual SO VERY MUCH, as you can tell from my lack of blogging. (I hate it, because I love the blog, but I find myself spending a lot of time on other social media as a result of my work obligations, and there are only so many hours in a day).

I’ve been working on reconfiguring how Cooperative Press runs so that I can spend more time writing and running events such as Cleveland Bazaar, which has grown into a business that happens to provide the majority of my personal income these days. I have to tell you, reading this post by Woolly was a massive source of encouragement, because there is nothing that can make you feel more guilty than a business that isn’t going the way you feel it should be.

I have been taking counsel from many wise friends and colleagues, and prioritizing my own health and sanity in the face of many challenges over the past year. If I had a dollar for every person who has confided in me that they are considering leaving the yarn industry, I wouldn’t have to change anything about what I’m doing, because I would be SO VERY WEALTHY. The publishing industry is often much the same. And guess which two industries I’m straddling? Aiyi.

It’s funny. You can flat out insult me directly and it won’t make me blink, but make me question my own judgment in how my businesses are run, and I am suddenly a sodden wreck.

(I recently told a good friend about an ex-friend-with-benefits who told me he’d take me to the Caribbean as a reward if I lost weight…she was flabbergasted and I was just laughing because COME ON, THAT IS HILARIOUS. He wasn’t throwing me out of bed for eating crackers, as the saying goes. Wait… what do you mean it isn’t hilarious? Ok, I think it’s hilarious, and I know the place he was coming from as the child of a mother with health problems exacerbated by her weight, but… oh… yeah. I’m learning to rethink my former ability to blow off comments like that, and call people out on their bullshit).

So that’s where I’m at these days. I’m trying to make a lot of improvements both personally and professionally in the face of what can sometimes seem like insurmountable odds, but I’m taking comfort from my wise friends, and really internalizing what they’ve been telling me for a while now:

  • You don’t have to be a martyr.
  • You have already done so much.
  • You should be proud of your accomplishments, not focused on your failures.
  • Your “failures” were all made in good faith, in an effort to succeed, and there’s no shame in that.
  • Don’t envy the picture-perfect you see on Instagram and social media; you don’t know the full story

So those are my lessons to keep repeating until I really, truly can believe and act on them.

The publishing house will continue, both books and magazines, albeit in new sales formats. There isn’t enough money available to support the level of service I want to see for the old way of doing things, but we are working on creating systems that can continue to pay the higher royalty structure while cost-cutting on the me side.

The events will continue, and even expand.

I will continue to work on my own health; migraines and other problems are no picnic but with the allergy diagnoses I finally got earlier in the year, I’ve been able to remove or at least lessen some of my triggers. Fingers crossed it holds up all winter, usually my worst migraine series come around February.

Things change. It’s the only thing that never changes.

The most boring person alive

I try not to have too many aaaaaagh I am swamped aaaaaagh posts here (seriously, who needs that?), but it has just been that kind of year so far! We’ve got an immense Cooperative Press photoshoot next weekend, so I feel like the only things I’ve done for weeks on end are:

  • planning for photoshoot stuff (honestly, it’s the worst part, and super-detail-oriented, which fries your brain)
  • working on taxes (I have not one but two accountants working with me now…TWO…one’s done my business taxes for ages, the other is a friend-turned-CPA who’s gotten our my accounting system up and running)
  • trying to get a new shopping cart setup done for CP that has some new features (which a programmer is working on)
  • trying to figure out how to accomplish all the stuff listed in the previous post

…and all while continuing to run the day-to-day business stuff of pattern sales, class sales, customer service, shipping, editing books that are going to press, la la la. Even with help from the sainted Elizabeth, it’s a lot!

So last night I said the hell with this and volunteered to help out my friend Dott at an event at SPACES, an alternative art gallery here in Cleveland that does a lot of very cool things. I needed to get out of my own head for a while. For five whole hours I got to forget my daily to-dos, because it was so crazy busy (the event had dozens of artists creating art live in front of a packed gallery, which then had to be bagged, tagged, put on the wall and sold — I did some of that, and also staffed the front desk for a while).

It was intense, but strangely, calming. Exit my overthinking brain stage right, you know?

Remember Baltyka?

She’s been languishing for a while waiting for more yarn (which I now have), so I’m hoping to get her done in time for the photoshoot…hey, a girl can dream. And besides, there will be models at the ready to wear it!

LOOK! KNITTING! on a knitting blog. It’s a miracle! I’ll stop whining now.

I’ll stop whining, and I’ll also point out that for those of you with tax refunds on the way (sadly I am not among you), the Cooperative Press sock/mitt club is still taking signups.

Pajama day!

After an overly full week (houseguests, giant dinner party, family holiday dinners with both his family and mine, running one of two big craft shows this season here in Cleveland), I woke up with a horribly sore throat and a sense of dread, since both the mister and his best friend who was here Wed-Sat have had the sniffles. ARGH.

Solution? Pajama daaaaay!

I finished knitting a second Stacked, am weaving in the ends on a Malabrigo Rasta cowl, and started swatching with my Brooklyn Tweed Loft. Later? More knitting on Nebula. Also? Turkey soup and a ton of tea. But absolutely, positively no real pants.

That’s what Pajama Day is all about.

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Note my resolute refusal to leave the couch. Also, awesome pinecone jammies.

Help indie publishing flourish!

Cooperative Press, my publishing company, is doing a month-long campaign to raise capital for our Fresh Designs series and other upcoming projects. They say you have to “spend money to make money,” and nowhere is that more true than knit-publishing. Every little bit helps, so if you can spare the cost of a latte (or a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn) towards supporting indie publishing, we — and by that I mean not only me, but also everyone who works on Cooperative Press books, from authors to models to tech editors to photographers — would really appreciate it!

Thanks so much! See the main project page for details on rewards and more for project backers.

Guess who got a new bike basket?

Inspired by crocheted tablecloths, Swedish designer Marie-Louise Gustafsson designed the Carrie bike (and shopping) baskets:

The best price I’ve found (for US shoppers) is here. The shopping basket and bike basket are the exact same size but the shopping basket costs less, FYI. They also come in white and green. I have a limited edition silver Kronan, so I thought the black would be sharp. Also, my dad inadvertently got paint on my bike, so I’m considering having it repainted sparkly black or silver. Girl bike city!

(I used to have a banana yellow 3-speed that got stolen in college. I miss that bike!)

You can thank Mercedes from Kitchen Sink Dyeworks for posting a link to this today and kicking off a round of “Pimp My Bike.”

And one last shopping tip for my thrifty North American friends: if you like Selvedge magazine (and who doesn’t?) you will want to click here.

Need fashion inspiration?

Do I have the site for you. Lookbook.nu is basically a bunch of people from all over the world posting cool outfits they’ve put together, which you can sort through in a number of ways such as by country, by designer, etc. I was curious to find out if Prague girls still wear miniskirts all winter long. (They do). Meet Hanka, who is wearing a spectacular minidress handknitted by her grandmother.

(For the record, at least as it was explained to me when I lived there, Prague girls wear miniskirts and high boots all winter long because boots are easier to clean than pants hems covered in street gunk, especially back then, when having a washer in the house was somewhat of a luxury).

Another site I like for this sort of thing is Hel Looks. Who knew Helsinki was full of such quirky, fun fashionistas?

And on the yarn side of things — I am currently swatching up some of J.C. Rennie‘s new handknitting yarns (I have fabric samples, too…swoooooon). Love it so far. Planning a design for a fall issue of Yarn Forward with it, now comes the tough part — deciding among all the luscious colors.