Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where's me?

My apologies for any of know...tens of you who wait on the edge of your seats, wondering what I am going to do next.  Here's my story in a nutshell:  after leaving Midway Airport practically in tears last week, I realize that for the next month or so, I don't have enough time to do everything I need to do.  I am not even sure I can crack the 75% mark on that list, at least in my head.

So...anyone that knows me would know what's coming next...I made a list.  Heaven forbid I make it a week without getting reorganized:

1.  Write scathing letter to person's boss
2.  Call utility companies
3.  Finish two shop samples
4:  Start Agnes' gift
5.  Verify Primerica got my fax
6.  Wire money to B of A for cashier's check withdrawl
7.  Format coupon

That, up there...that's about a third of the list, and I have until Friday for most of it.

In the meantime, I'm watching Penny outside, just chilling with the bone fragment she stole from Bluto.  And that stubby little fat-f()(k is currently leaping around the backyard, trying to catch flies in his mouth.  My dogs are nothing if not totally gifted.

Anyway, the good news is that has opened up the field a bit, and I can now write ANYTHING I WANT about knitting for my column.  It doesn't have to be Chicago-focused!  So because I'm busy doing other things right now, my columns (with their permission) may, in fact, be more generally- or nationally focused while I try to put all of my pieces together.  So please do share this blog with others and send me more suggestions as to what knitters (and non-knitters, I suppose as well) would like to read.  I get a fair amount of suggestions to my gmail account, but any way any how is fine with me!

If you look for me the rest of the week, I'll either be on a mad cleaning frenzy with one hand and on a phone in the other while knitting with my feet, or the feet and hands will be opposite and I'll have a phone between my toes.  Next time I come out to the backyard to blog, I'll bring my camera so you can all see how big of a goof Bluto really is for chasing down flies with his mouth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Free Pattern Update (if there needs to be one)

So yesterday, I gossiped with the biddies at a local yarn shop and bought a ball of Cascade 220 Heathers, one of my favorite worsted-weight yarns.  I whipped out my old-school size 8's (stainless steel, AND they have a ruler on them!) and started casting on.  I made almost half of the sample of the pattern I'll be giving a way.  Not a bad day.

Oh, and I also made another foot of the Lace Tutorial scarf...Lion Brand liked my submission but I'm sure there's some sort of board approval and editing process that has to take place before the Lion-Brand-Reading world will read it.  I'm okay with that.

And finally, the linen-stitch shop sample is turning out stunning, but it put me to sleep on the plane.  Or perhaps, I was already exhaused from not sleeping for a few days, and I was just due.  Either way, I only did three rows of that one.  But in my defense, three rows of a 400-stitch pattern isn't so bad, is it?

I need coffee...excuse me...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome to William P Hobby Airport!

Good morning,'s sort of odd to be writing this anywhere but the white plastic chair in the backyard, watching the dogs act like idiots.  I have a plane to catch, however, and it's sort of a pivotal trip so I'm willing to compromise on my adherence to the Rain Man rituals now and again.

This weekend, I sold two more patterns for the Side Salad Scarf (seen here, along with the other available patterns) this weekend, and it got me to thinking.  Incongruently, of course.  I need to increase readership of the column for two reasons:

1.  Because knitters need to know what is going on in the knitting world
2.  Because I need to know what is going on in the knitting world

So based on that, here's my idea...let me know if you're game, interested, in support of...whatever.

I'm told...and understand I don't have any subscriptions on, since I read pretty much anything I find interesting on it...that if you subscribe to my column, you get an email which says something to the effect of, "You are now subscribed to Amy Kaspar's Chicago Knitting Examiner articles" or something.  So while I'm tying together a few loose ends this week, I thought I would go to the local yarn stores with a stack of postcards/fliers/leaflets/semaphore signals to ask the owners to give to their customers.  It will say something like, "Subscribe to's Chicago Knitting Examiner!  Forward the email to and receive a free pattern with your's THAT easy!"  I'll probably jazz it up with glitter and sequins, but the message will have the same meaning.  The offer will...starting when I can write up a pattern, so I'm thinking next week or so...apply to ANYONE who subscribes.  If you are subscribed, forward me any of the emails from with the link on it as proof, and I'll send you a free pattern.

And get your knitting friends to do it, too.  They don't have to live in Chicago...the articles are just generally Chicago-based, but sometimes they are more nationally- or generally-focused.

This week, I have two store samples to finish, a sample to make for a free pattern (if I'm reading two paragraphs up correctly, anyway), and the Trekking Hands shawl which I just need to buck up and finish already.  Oh, and the Lace Tutorial scarf...hopefully, Lion Brand will agree with my musings and post at least part of what I wrote on their page.

That's all for now...thanks for your support!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good News Good News Good News!

Many of you know that when I'm emphatic about something, I will utter a phrase in triplicate.  For instance, "Amy, do you want to have buffalo wings with a side of pulled pork for dinner?"

"No, no, and NO."

Well, I actually get to exhibit that trait in the positive today.  I got an email from a woman named Margaret Dunham, whose first word was "Congratulations."  Of course, this can go both all of you, I sometimes get an email that belongs in my spambox which starts out congratulating me, only to find that I won an international lottery in the amount of either a million pounds or a million euros, which I can't collect anyway because it's against the law for Americans to collect international lottery earnings.

Anyway, Ms. Dunham works for the Lion Brand Yarn Company, and she was congratulating me on being selected as...wait for it...a guest-blogger on the Lion Brand Notebook!  It was  my OH EMM GEEEEEE moment of the evening!  Lion Brand has 201,260 "likes" on facebook, 10,939 followers on Twitter, and let's face it...however many millions of people worldwide who visit their website for free patterns (and purchase-ones, as well).  One of the patterns I sell on Etsy is made with Lion Brand Vanna's Choice (it's the Waves and Warmth Shrug, in case you were wondering), and one of my current projects is on Lion Brand.  I just can't say enough nice things to say about them, really...sure I love my ridiculous luxury yarns, but in towns where there are no yarn stores, there is most likely a Walmart or a Joann Fabrics and a ball of Homespun with my name on it at either place.

Click here to read their most updated blog...I'm so excited and honored to be a part of their site for a post!  Now all I have to do is choose a topic.  Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Right now, I'm doing two shop samples.  Well, one...the other one is in my car, and it's not fair to say I'm doing it until it's actually cast on.  But in keeping with my big-needle-knit phase, it requires size 11 needles and I'm actually thinking of taking a break from the Schaefer scarf to finally (after four days, I am using the word "finally") start it.

But I can't seem to break up with the Schaefer long enough to do it.

I will probably update this blog tomorrow...there will be a new article in the website that I'll be posting, plus maybe I'll just knit with lightning-speed and finish both shop samples within the day.

Not likely, but picturing me move that quickly is pretty darn funny.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Need to Get My Hands on Free Stuff

Now that my life is at this weird, in-between-identities crossroads and everything is costing me more money, I have realized that free stuff is WAY better than paid-for stuff.  That said, here is the math on the knitting patterns, money-wise:

I pay xxx dollars for yarn.  I then design something.  If I have more than one size, I have to knit two things.  Then I write up the pattern, save it to a .pdf, and email it to anyone who buys it from me.  The overhead is the cost of the yarn, and if I REALLY wanted to start a business, I could charge for the time it takes me to write the stuff out or to knit the samples.

Well, maybe not the time it takes to write stuff out.  I get distracted way too easily, so I would end up charging someone thirty bucks for a pattern that didn't seem complex, but took me forever to write down because celebrity gossip was much more interesting at the time I set out to write the pattern.

Anyway, I don't have a brick-and-mortar store, employees, and all of the insurance and fun stuff that comes with owning a business.  I rely on the internet, which generally is seen as a free tool, to promote my designs.  I then rely on the generous sharing of you fine folks to get the word out.

It seems to be working...the Side Salad Scarf has become the most popular pattern to date, largely because of promotion on Etsy and a local yarn store.  So I thank all of you.

This holds true for the articles I write for as well...this week, asked us to push stories about September 11 and the anniversary of the attacks.  I thought, "How the heck am I going to be able to find something related to 9/11?"  Seriously...I googled everything.  "Knitting for 9/11, stories 9/11 knitting"...blah blah blah.  Then I had my off-center thought of, maybe someone designed a knitting pattern that was inspired by the events of 9/11.  Voila:

This may seem like a story about a nice woman in suburban Denver, but go ahead and google Ann Budd.  I have the highest respect for her, and was completely flattered that she agreed to speak with me regarding an article for an online newspaper on which...let's face it...probably dozens of people read my stuff.  So to me, this is a huge deal.

But back to the free stuff...the more money I can make (no matter how limited...I am pretty sure I won't be quitting my day-job) doing all-things-knitting, the longer I can knit and enjoy and fuss around and make stuff up and hopefully entertain some of you in the process.  So after doing a shop sample for Yarntopia this week, I picked up two more.  One of know who you are...ended up being a mutual challenge of sorts, and I look very forward to seeing the progress a week later.

The other one...well...I'm still on my big-needle-knit kick, and it called for size 11 needles.  Reason enough to knock the sucker out.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Pattern Alert! New Pattern Alert!

Here is the listing for my newest pattern, found on Etsy.  If you purchase before MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, you can take 15% off your order of this pattern plus one more of your choice by using the coupon code "NEWKNITS".

Eeeeee!  Also, I have a very exciting interview for an upcoming article.  She is famous in the knitting world, and I'm very honored she is granting me an interview.  Stay tuned!  Please pass on my Etsy page (or the articles on, for that matter...ha ha ha) to any of your yarny friends...I am happy to convert a pattern for gauge for a small fee if anyone needs it.

Oh, What To Do

It's dark and...dare I outside, despite the fact that there is a wildfire burning 150 miles west of here.  I was up at 5:30am because one of the several beasts in the house was stirring.  So here I am.  My natural inclination in this situation is to knit.

However, I think writing up the pattern to Bluto's green scarf is a better idea.

The next store sample I'm making for Yarntopia is on size 15 needles, so I'm hoping to finish it in lightning speed.  Maybe even faster!  It's a beautiful pattern, and the yarn is just plain fabulous.  See, I really enjoy knitting for myself, but two things make that concept take a backseat to other projects:  the first is that I am a sucker for great yarn.  Yes, I do my share of knitting with Lion Brand and Bernat and other acrylic-based yarns, but there is nothing like an animal fiber that's been groomed by the processing-plant version of a high-end spa and salon to make an alpaca hair feel like heaven through your fingers. 

Other than that, it's about time I finished the three larger projects I have.  One of them is sleeveless, and it is getting to the time of year where it will have to either be worn over a turtleneck when it IS finished, or it will have to be packed away for the year (which, any knitter can tell you, is pretty much no fun at all to finish something and then not get to swing it over your neck or head right away).  The lacy hoodie will obviously be useful, but I have to feel motivated and every time I look at it, I think "Is there something else I'd rather knit?"  It's even an easy knit and I'm STILL not feeling it.  Then, there is the shawl.  That is at least useful year-round when it's done, but it the colors and style of it will probably be no longer fashionable by the time I cast off.  That would be just my luck...the 2011 version of puffy sleeves coming off the needles JUST after 1984, the year people stopped wearing them.

I think I'm just going through an instant-gratification phase.  Ooh...I should look on the bright side!  Maybe I can finish a billion little projects before Christmas and slowly but surely knock my stash to a respectable size!

Although, a note on THAT concept:  go ahead and ask your fellow knitters what a respectably-sized stash would be.  I know two camps of knitters.  One camp is of the philosophy that if you have too many choices, you have too much yarn.  I actually have a friend who buys yarn for the project which she is working on that day, and then she buys more when she finishes.  Essentially, her "stash" consists of remnants of yarn balls, that is until she can think of something to make small enough to use up that little ball.  She is a model of efficiency.

Then I have another friend who claims to have a yarn-room...I have never seen it, but I am assuming everyone gets the same picture I do:  the third bedroom has no bed for guests, but it sure does have a chair and four walls stacked with yarn.  THAT is a stash.

But these two camps could, if they were of the mindset and not docile beings to begin with, rumble like the Greasers and the Socs from "The Outsiders" over the respectability of the stash:

"THAT's not a stash!  That's a couple of half-balls of yarn!"
"What about YOURS?  You have a ROOM!  You can't even hide YOUR stash from your husband!"

On the contrary:  the husband can probably hide in the stash and never be found.

Have a good day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Any Smokers Looking for a Way to Quit?

If so, then check out my latest article for  Turns out there are people out there who ARE successful, and in my humble opinion, he did it in the best way possible:

I finished the Malabrigo is a preview of the pattern, courtesy of Bluto:

Clearly, he doesn't like modeling knitted wares NEARLY as much as Penny does.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I picked up another shop sample to knit for Yarntopia.  I'm literally looking through the available samples, and saying OUT LOUD, "I don't need any more yarn...I don't need any more yarn..."

But I actually just couldn't resist trying my the Rowan Chunky Alpaca.  Who could, I ask you?  So hopefully since it's a big-needle knit, I'll plow through it before next week's end.  I am also hoping to write up the pattern for Bluto's newest accessory by Tuesday or Wednesday...let me know if you would be interested in purchasing it (or testing it for me).

Thanks as always for your support!