Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Necessary Mulligan

Good morning!  It's early.  Like, not even six yet early.  The dogs are outside, the cat is outside, and I'm literally looking at my knitting.  I'm not even ready to actually pick it up yet.

I think my knitting juju is tarnished at the moment.  It started last Thursday, when I cast on what I thought was going to be some sort of twisty cowl with this one ball of Noro Taiyo that I have.  It's the prettiest yarn when it's knitted up, but after about four inches of it, I realized it's not going to be big enough for what I want, so it's time to rip out and start over.

Then, on Friday I was working on the seaming and edging for the store sample.  Thankfully, the shoulder seams turned out nicely, and I was sitting across from the recipient so I could just throw it on her and make sure there were no bumps or bruises on it.  When I went to pick up and knit the edges, I used the number of stitches the pattern told me to, but it was obvious that it was too many.  I was binding off and looking at the shoulder edge, thinking it looked like something that belonged on Soul Train.  Not a compliment.

So I ripped that out as well.

The good news, though, is that after finishing Agnes' scarf, I saw how pretty it turned out and how well it blocked, so I decided to throw the pattern up on Etsy after all.  I am also sending it for free to everyone who has made a purchase from me, and it will come free with the Scarf Pattern of the month series.  That's thirteen patterns for...right now, with the discount applied...thirty bucks!  Not a bad deal in my humble opinion.

A woman sent me a message on Etsy the other day, saying she can make really pretty things just knitting and purling, but liked the Side Salad Scarf and asked if I thought a new knitter could make it.  I told her that ABSOLUTELY a new knitter could make it, and I sent her a video link about how to make cables.  I then asked her if she would like me sending her name to another person who had purchased it, so she could get an honest (and unpublished...Etsy has its share of praisers and bashers who write things solely because they can do it anonymously) opinion on the difficulty of the pattern.  I gave the woman's name and user ID to a girl in England named Emma...she is about halfway through the pattern and the cables were what made her apprehensive as well.

The next day, I had an email notification that the first girl bought the pattern.  Ahh, customer service.

So yeah...that's on my list to do this morning...finish the pattern to give out to customers and post up on Etsy.  But it might get pushed back to tomorrow, due to the lost-juju factor.  We'll see.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October is the BEST MONTH EVER

So, I suppose you're wondering why I say that...

Well, I'm okay with people not believing in signs, or thinking I'm nuts because I DO believe in them, but here is what I know.  I went to watch the Blackhawks opening game at a sports bar near here, and I ended up getting free chips and salsa (which means I had a tab of zero, since I don't drink).  I was there for over three hours, but my server forgot about me after the first period.  Then, I went to Starbucks the next day and ordered a latte, which I NEVER do because their green tea is so fabulous, and I walked away with a latte AND a free tea.

A fee days later, I got a title refund check from the mortgage company in the amount of $1,577.60.  So I'm now starting to look around, a bit suspiciously, because apparently my dad is up there giving me his Chicago Cubs playoff-ticket refund (he did, in fact, die hard as a Cubs and Red Sox fan) a little bit at a time.  Again...make your fun, because I don't care.

What's really nice is that business is booming at the Etsy shop...I have sold more individual patterns than I did all through September, and the month is just two-thirds over.  Then, just in case I couldn't get any cooler (in my head...understand that Planet Amy is a rockin' place in my humble opinion) I get an email from Twitter that says @MalabrigoBuzz is following me.

A major yarn company is following ME on Twitter.  ~~sigh~~  Both the Stove Stack Hat and the Side Salad Scarf are made with their yarns...they just knit up beautifully.  For any of you interested in browsing the Etsy shop, here it is:


Here is my article for Examiner.com today...sometimes I'm glad to not be a REAL reporter so I can get away with innuendo.  Examiner.com actually put this article on their banner page!


I have about fifteen yards of yarn left for Agnes' scarf and I'm not going to bed until it's finished.  Then, I have about thirty rows of the main body of the last shop sample, and I may not go to bed until it is also finished.  And finally, since there are no corrections for the lacy hoodie I was knitting, and Sheryl and I couldn't find the problem within the pattern, it's time I ripped that sucker out.  Heartbreaking, but true.  The good news is that I'm left with over 2,000 of Cascade Cherub Aran to do with what I want.  Might just have to design a different hoodie...

Thank you for your support, and if you have any questions about the patterns in the Etsy shop, please let me know...I'm a fairly accessible knitter!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Back To Work Time!

I wanted to write yesterday to update people on where I was with my vaycay-knitting progress, but I had the wind pretty much yanked from my sails before it happened.  All is well, though.

While dreaming up scarf patterns (I now have five of them brewing in my head, but of course need at least two knitted and written up by Christmas so I can tease people), I started to sell my series to...you know...some people who DON'T actually know me.  I appeciate the business regardless, but it's nice when a stranger sees your stuff and likes it enough to buy it.

Then, through the wonders of social media, a guy who has thousands of Twitter followers decides to screen me, and then follow me, and then post my listing on his underground newspaper:


And then I realized something a bit horrifying.  I have a signature panel on the bottom of my gmail address, since that's where I contact people about the examiner.com stuff:

The Fiber Friend
facebook: The Fiber Friend
twitter: @TheFiberFriend
Etsy: TheFiberFriend
Ravelry: TheFiberFriend
I just figure if someone wants to reach me over the six thousand different ways and means, they should know where to look.  My...ahem...dozens of followers are loyal, but you never know when someone else wants to hop into the circle.  Again...fine.  Problem is, the gmail address is my "normal" email address...I don't feel right applying for jobs and such through my yahoo address.  Sometimes, I do something boneheaded.  You know...like reply to a higher-up about a promotion at work and not delete my signature panel.  Like...this week, or something.
But all is well...I haven't alienated anyone lately.  So I have one more panel on Store Sample Number Two, and Miss Sheryl tells me that people are buying the linen-stitch kit after they touch Store Sample Number One.  I didn't design the thing, but I'm still glad I knitted it well enough to inspire others.
Of course, I realistically know it doesn't have much to do with me.  Sheryl and Shop Amy are the best enablers in the world without being inappropriate...it's like a jedi-mind-trick.  I was walking around the yarn store on Friday, muttering "I don't need any yarn, I don't need any yarn..." but SHEESH.  The Universal Yarns Papier was a dollar a ball.  What the hell was I supposed to do?
Anyway, Agnes' scarf has three panels and the final triangle left to knit before the sucker gets dumped in the water for some shaping.  Then it's time to bust out the scarf yarn, knit knit knit, and start writing down the ideas swimming around in my head:
I stand by my contention that my series would make a good holiday gift for a knitter in your life, and I will continue to shamelessly advertise and promote until I'm a multimillionaire, rolling around in my platinum microspun super-bulky rasta-style yarn in any shade of platinum I request.  Oh, and the needles will be 24k white gold, just to confuse people.
I have a bunch of photos I have to yank off the camera...stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Four and a Half More Days

Good afternoon!  Odd of me to blog in the middle of the day, I know, but basically I just ate a piece of chocolate cake because insurance companies depress me.  I sing, so smoking is an incompatible addiction for me, and I don't get chocolate-cake-depressed enough to worry for my mental health.  So all is well.

I am now full on into Shop Sample Number Two, and the first one, everyone agreed, was much nicer in person than the picture would indicate (although the picture does make it look pretty, it's unattainably gorgeous in person).  I also wrote an article about National Coming Out Day today, because I wanted to give simple pattern ideas on Gay Pride Weekend and missed the boat completely...it was a mere ten days after I started writing for examiner.com.  So if you need simple pattern ideas, here they are...


The single-panel entrelac for Agnes is actually working out QUITE well...she deserves it, considering the gas money and research she spent on ME.  But then I have to sit down and do all of the administrative stuff...write out a few patterns and then go back to knit them.  Does anyone want to be a test-knitter?  Let me know, and I'll see if I can work something out!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Good morning!  Despite seven hours of driving, yesterday was WAY more productive than I thought it would be.  Kathleen and I took a field trip to Comfort, Texas, where I had given a yarn-shop owner my Side Salad Scarf pattern to give away to her customers.  Both the store, The Tinsmith's Wife, and the people who are a part if it, are lovely.  We met customers that were instant friends, in addition to the most accomodating owners on the planet.  The pictures on the website don't do this place justice...it's hand-painted and art-yarn as far as the eye can see, combined with some mainstream brands as well.  All you want to do is touch EVERYTHING.  Kathleen and I had to remind ourselves that the face is NOT the place to rub yarn that does not belong to you.

Then I came home, and I took the linen-stitch scarf off of the board...just like the picture that comes with the pattern, I couldn't take one that indicates just how stunning this is in person:

What's even better is that A BEGINNER CAN DO THIS!!!  It involves no purling whatsoever, and the pattern is so easy that it could be a good second project.

And, of course, Bluto had to make an appearance.

Kathleen had never been to Buc-ee's, so taking care of myself sort of went out the window yesterday, but that's okay.  One day won't make my pants too tight.

I am also almost two feet into Agnes' scarf, and the yarn looks great when it's knitted up...I have never used the yarn before, so there's always that moment of "What if it was just the yarn ball that was pretty?"  But all is well on that front, too.

The second store sample is plowing right along...I hope to be finished before the end of the week before I go back to being a Walmartian on weekends.  Also, over 160 people have viewed the Scarf Series package...let me let you in on a few secrets:  Some of the yarns that will be used are Louisa Harding, Lion Brand, Cascade 220, and Halo.  There...I hope that tidbit tied you over.  Please keep sending the link on to your friends and family...everyone has a scarf person in their lives!

I don't know what to write for the Examiner.com site this week, but I have two stories in mind, so I might just write both.  Oh, and the super-secret project?  I can't talk more about it, but it turns out that speaking of Cascade, they have pretty much every color I need in the weight I'm looking for.  EEEEE!

Have a good week!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Almost Halfway There!

Okay...so here is the update.

Shop Sample Number One will be finished this morning.  I was going to finish it last night, actually, but I called this sports bar down the street from our house, and it turns out they were televising the Blackhawks game.  So...you know...travel became necessary.  And in case anyone needed more proof that I attract the nutballs:

I am sitting at a table by myself, with my chips and salsa (which I only paid a tip for, since the waitress who was helping me forgot I was there and another waitress comped them) and knitting during commercial breaks and intermissions.  I'm wearing my Cam Barker jersey...for those of you who don't know the story, Cam Barker gave me the jersery off of his back after the last game of the 2008-2009 season.  It still has his blood on it!  But of course, it's the size designated for a 6'3" man with a bunch of equipment under it, so it's huge.  Anyway, I'm also wearing a green headband and my camoflauge cargo shorts, and black flipflops.  If Bert is ever concerned that I go clubbing behind his back, just picture THAT.

Of course, though, a guy comes up to me.  I can't escape it...the last time I was in a room where no strangers approached me, I think, was two weeks ago at the Katy Library when I was looking at books on CD in complete peace and quiet.  This guy is bald, hammered, and of course says to me, "I don't recognize your shirt.  Is it a sports shirt?"

Err...why yes.  It's a "sports shirt."

I tell him it's a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, so he proceeds to tell me how hockey is the greatest game on earth because the puck moves so fast, and everybody beats the shit out of each other.  Now, when a so-called hockey fan tells me that all they like is the fighting, that's usually when I tune him or her out.  But this was even better.  "Honey!" he yells.

A large, overly-made-up woman with big hair and a sequined belt (including the buckle, dontchaknow) approaches.  Welcome to Texas.

"This girl is a hockey fan.  And she's knitting!"  He looks at me.  "This is my wife, Teresa.  You would like her."

So he's assessing my personality, and hers, with a compatibility factor to boot, after five seconds.

"Ooh!  My Aunt Sally knits!"  Of course she does.  And just like that, they were waving goodbye and heading toward the door.

Anyway, Shop Sample Number Two will be done next week, Agnes' scarf should be done around the same time, Kathleen and I are visiting the lady in rural Texas tomorrow, and the taking-care-of-myself thing is going well.  Also, I have had over a hundred views of my scarf series in two days...I still say it makes a good holiday gift for a knitter.  Everyone knows someone who can benefit from a scarf:


So there you have it.  Have a good weekend...I think I'm going to crash Yarntopia today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day Three: Stash Not Busted

Good afternoon!  So, I am almost...ALMOST finished with Shop Sample Number One.  I hope to finish it by this evening, even if it involves fighting off the dogs who think that Schaefer hand-painted yarn has the lick-equivalent of a roasted pig ear.

So I have that going for me.

I also finally...FINALLY joined the Windy City Knitting Guild.  It's twenty bucks per year, and you get to do awesome things like get a newsletter related to knitting and get discounts at yarn shops.  That sucker will practically pay for itself as I'm passing my first "WELCOME TO CHICAGO: RAHM EMMANUEL, MAYOR" sign.  In terms of education and networking, I think it has already paid for itself.  I was so excited, I decided to make it the subject of this week's examiner.com article:


I even have the FREE pattern written out...if you go to my examiner.com page and hit "Subscribe," forward the confirmation email to amy.e.kaspar@gmail.com and I'll send you a free knitting pattern.  It's that easy!

Then...I added something to my Etsy store.  Here is the official listing:


Oh, I'm doing it.  I already have four scarves in mind of all different shapes, sizes, yarns, techniques...I am addicted.  It's funny because after knitting two side-to-side scarves in a row, I would have thought I would want to burn my entire scarf collection just so smell the ravenous whiff of lamb, but not the case.  Please share with any and all who may be interested...it would be a great gift for any knitter as well as yourself.

And finally, save for a baked good here and there, I have in fact been finally...FINALLY taking care of myself.  It's all about the green tea and plant products.  The one piece I have yet to address successfully is the stressed-out one...I need to calm down.  I need to take charge.  And as goofy as this may sound, my biggest fear right now is my hair falling out due to stress.  Hey...I don't have a thyroid and it has happened in the past.  To such a degree, in fact, that I finally shaved my head and donated the hair to Locks of Love.  I also donated all money raised from a "Who Wants To Be The Lucky One To Shave Amy's Head?" auction to the American Hearing-Impaired Hockey Association, a charity near and dear to my heart.  Here is the proof, taking the Friday after Election Day, 2004:

I'm getting there, slowly but surely.  For now, I'm headed to HEB, where my husband made me tofu parmesan (proof that he's totally in love, since he eats enough meat for the two of us so my veganism gives balance to the universe), and then I'm heading straight to the yarn store to finish the shop sample.  Watch me go!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eleven Days of Stash-Busting

One of the few great things about my job is that if I am off for a weekend, I am really off for a week and a half.  My normal days off are Tuesday through Friday.  I am off next weekend, Saturday through Monday, and then of course off Tuesday through Friday of next week again, so one work-week of vacation equals eleven days off.

While not EVERY plan I have for my time involves yarn, yes...most of them do.  I have too many ideas pouring out of my head right now, and it's about time I got this little side-business of mine off the ground.  So here are my plans:

1.  Finish the two shop samples.  DAMN I can't wait until I don't read that sentence again.  But what's funny is that I sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not.  Linen stitch is like college...it's long, it's tedius, it's fun every now and again, but the long term end-result is freaking fabulous.  So there you have it...I'm enjoying every knit and slip I make.
2.  Work out the details of a "Scarf Pattern of the Month" series.  For 2012, I wanted to design twelve scarves and sell the package as a series, emailing a new scarf pattern on the first of every month.  If you buy all twelve, you get a discount of course, but I will still have all twelve scarf patterns available for purchase online.  See, if you are like me, you're either a scarf person, or your know a lot of scarf people so you always have someone to make something for.  Feel free to email me at amy.e.kaspar@gmail.com for more details...I'd love to know if anyone would be interested in this project.
3.  Write out the Montana sweater pattern.  I may have to buy more yarn and make a size small so I can test my math (as my brother starts cracking up at the idea that I would ever NOT trust my math).
4.  Drive to rural Texas to meet a lady I promised to meet.  Hey...don't judge.
5.  Get more work done on my super-secret project that I know will take me three months to complete.  I have actually set a goal of Thanksgiving for this one, but I don't know how likely it is...I may have to recruit test-knitters to finish on time.
6.  Take care of myself.  I have done just a knockout job of driving my body and mind into the ground, so it's about time I did a U-turn on that one.  Yesterday was the perfect end to that cycle...I sent my employees home early because basically, there was a problem of galactic proportions and for the first time since I got there, it really wasn't my fault.  I'm not sure I'm ready to bike-commute yet (although I'll feel better about it when I'm in Chicago full-time), but I may just go crazy and go to the gym.

There are a couple of other details in the plan, but these are the main ones.  I may have to take a super-duper-long road trip, though...financial details of THAT will be working themselves out in the next day or two.

You don't have to comment publicly on the blog if you don't want to, but either join my facebook group or send a note to the email above to tell me what you're up to!  Blogging isn't nearly as much fun if there isn't a random conversation or two to be had.