New toy for color creativity

Here’s a fun app my photo-app-mad husband just shared with me today: Color ViewFinder. You can walk around without actually snapping a photo and basically multi-sample colors in a given space, then click to save the palette. It’s kind of like Design Seeds but with your own environment as its inspiration! Here are some colors from the flowers on my office desk…

Conveniently, it gives you the hex codes and RGB values for the colors, too.

Well, I know what *I* want for Christmas now

Denise has new colored cord sets! I’m making good use of Amazon’s “Add to Wish List” function this year. Tamas and I know better than to deviate from each other’s Amazon lists — there’s a reason this house has more bookshelves than any other type of furniture — but for non-book items, the 3rd party functionality of Add to Wish List is awesome, and it’s allowed me to add stuff from local vendors like Lilly Chocolate, or the massage place down the road.

So. How’d you all do with NaKniSweMo? I’m going to come right out and admit my utter and complete FAIL. However, I did get two items knitted for a new pattern booklet I’m working on, so that was good. The repeated fail (and necessity for frogging) on my NaKniSweMo sweater, which is currently consigned to the Naughty Bin, depressed me far too much and sent me screaming in the other direction to my first love, hats.

Mmmm, hats. 1.75 down (1 totally, 1 half-done, 1 1/4 done) and 9+ to go. I pulled out all the unusual, fantastic single skeins I had sitting around — Sanguine Gryphon, Schaefer, Bijou Basin Ranch, Yarn Love, etc — and I started making plans.

Here’s two of them. The one that’s completely knit, at top, will be felted. The one below, whose tentative name is Brocade, is maybe half done and is driving me slightly crazy because apparently I am very tense right now and it is showing up in my yarn tensioning, so I had to rip it out entirely after its first few hours of life and start from the beginning. I hate that. But it’s a beautiful piece so far, and that makes up for a lot.

Another new concept in knitting clubs

In recent months, a lot of new club-type things for knitters have come on the scene (Chrissy Gardiner’s super cool Indie Socks CSK, and Lee Meredith’s Quick Knits club, for example). They’re wonderful ways to support your fave designers + form community with your fellow knitters. All of this is great, in my opinion.

Designer Samantha Roshak is now offering a really cool sweater pattern club. You can read more about it here and here, and sign up for it here.

Since I asked, Samantha herself told me she thinks the coolest things about the club are — direct quotes

1. The sweaters will be the same construction and gauge so you’ll be able to mix and match elements to make new versions. Your very own sweater without requiring a math degree. Good stuff.

2. Videos! Each patterns comes with links to videos of me showing techniques and giving tips.

3. Knitting a sweater that actually fits. It’s top down so you try it on as you go, I’ve added a bunch of tips to help, and there’s the Rav group for support.

4. 10% coupon! If you use all four coupons, the club pretty much pays for itself.

The first club pattern, Flint is a basic, flexible piece with a little bit of flair, knit in a gorgeous Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. Interesting to knit, totally wearable and with a lot of nice details (sewn hem, cuff detail, front borders look good inside and out). Samantha says: “that’s pretty much always my goal with a sweater and absolutely my goal for the remaining patterns. If you’re going to put in that much time and money, I think you should enjoy the process and be proud as heck to wear the finish product.”

If you’re thinking that it’s a big gamble to sign up to do something for a year without knowing how it will all turn out, I have to say that I think Sam’s a fantastic designer, and I am quite positive that like Anna Dalvi’s lace shawl KALs, you’ll not only enjoy being in the club, but also know that you’re supporting independent knitwear designers…ok, ok, that’s a total pet cause of mine, I know, but it’s the pet cause of many other people, too.

And speaking of that — there is an eBay auction underway to raise funds to pay the teachers who were not paid in full by UK Knit Camp in August. Many (oh hell, let’s be honest, MOST) knitting teachers live paycheck to paycheck, and are expected to front a lot of the expenses for their teaching engagements. Not getting paid, or not getting paid in full, creates a serious problem. Every time I hear about a yarn store who’s refused to pay a teacher, or shortchanges them, I cringe and then I think “I could be next.” As much as you try to vet the stores or events who ask you to come, there’s only so much you can do. I want to give a shoutout to the wonderful people on Ravelry who are coordinating the fundraising effort to lessen the blow for those teachers affected. I love this community of ours so much. 99% of the time, people do what’s right…it’s the other 1% you have to keep an eye on…

Big and exciting and amazing news!

But first — I recently posted some really cute photos from the Amy Butler book signing at my shop, Stitch Cleveland.

And now the exciting bit — guess who has a new yarn line coming out? I could just fall over, it’s too exciting. Too! Congrats, Véronik! One of my favorite designers in the world and she’s got a yarn, too? Yes, please.

(I have related news on this topic but cannot spill it yet. I promise I will as soon as I can).

Craft DVD rental

You know how sometimes there’s just something going on in the air and you can’t help but notice seeing an awful lot of mentions of it?

(And no, I’m not talking about the Watchmen movie. Don’t get me started on that, I live with an Alan Moore purist and we will not be going to see it).

Something I have noticed popping up a lot recently: Smartflix, a Netflix-style rental service for crafty- and superspecialized DVDs, as well as a trend towards LYSs renting craft DVDs for an upfront charge (usually around $5). But, if you don’t return it within a week, you are charged for the full amount less the $5 you put up front. This isn’t new — I can’t remember who it was, but in the pre-DVD era, some enterprising person rented craft-related VHS tapes, too.

My initial thoughts on services like these, especially the ones where you-forget-to-return-it, you-bought-it…

  • Pro: Good way to see if it’s actually useful to you before you buy
  • Con: Creator of the DVD sees none of that rental revenue and potentially loses sales (I’m not sure how the old-school movie rental places did it, but there’s got to be licensing or something in place, yes?)
  • Pro: Wider exposure for your DVD
  • Con: It’s not exactly difficult to rip DVDs if you know what you’re doing

Et cetera. What do you think? Does your LYS rent how-to knitting DVDs? Would you rather rent them for $5-10 dollars, or just have the ability to buy them upfront at a lower price? Most knitting DVDs I would want to purchase (cough! cough!) are in the $20-50 range.

If you had a choice between renting it for $5-9 and just flat out buying it for $10-15, what would you rather do? Or is $20 a reasonable price for a DVD of a class you’d pay $40 or more to take in person?

I’ve got a dear friend who is a filmmaker and we have contemplated making DVDs of some of my more popular class topics since I don’t teach in person as much anymore — too busy with the magazine and stuff! That said, this trend towards rentals is intriguing and a little scary. I hate to be crass about it, but if I won’t be able to make a decent return on the amount of effort it would take to create a really good quality DVD, then it’s not worth doing, at least not immediately.

The bonus, of course, is that I’d be able to reach a much wider audience than I would with classes — not everyone is local to where I teach, or easily able to get there, and if the cost of a DVD-based class or series is less than what a class generally would be in person, then that’s a consideration for the end user, too.


Look what I just ordered!

I’m having a bad day today, despite having just finished the Exploded View cardigan (new pattern, coming soon). So I bought myself a present — dig it:

It’s a new t-shirt from Stefanie Japel, and they’re for sale in her Etsy shop.

(My idea of retail therapy is somewhat different than most — after seeing the preview for that shopaholic movie last week, I’m thinking “shoes, hell — do you know how much yarn one pair of Manolos will get you?”)

Last minute gift suggestions

For the sewer:

Anna Maria Horner‘s new book Seams To Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing is a revelation — bright, colorful, spiral-bound to lay flat on the table as you work. Not an ordinary stitchery book in the least. From introductory info on sewing machines and useful-but-often-overlooked sewing-related items such as pressing hams and various cutting tools, Horner tackles everything you need to know if you’re a beginner, and provides a great refresher for even the most stitch-savvy among us.

Unlike other similar sewing books, Horner tackles handsewing in an entire chapter of its own, with tips on everything from sewing perfect circles to simple embroidery stitches. The projects are adorable — I’m particularly in love with the Pin Cushion Caddy — and extend over a large range of project types, from garments to accessories to home dec and — fine art created with fabric. Horner is well known for her art pieces made with fabric, and shows you how to create photographic-style images using fabric and more. There is a pattern pocket filled with 10 original patterns, too — given what her single patterns retail for, that’s a deal in and of itself!

Check out the Seams to Me pool on Flickr!

Want a signed copy for Christmas? Buy one here in her store. Otherwise, it’s available at Amazon and elsewhere.

So that’s a book review / gift suggestion for you. Some other ideas…

For the knitter or crocheter:

For the spinner or dyer:

For anyone:

For me:

Hopefully this will help you out of a shopping dilemma or two — I know I certainly waited until the last minute this year!