Thursday, December 27, 2012

Challenge - Accepted

Good afternoon, everyone!  Well, for me it's good morning, and for everyone else it's good afternoon.  I was just watching the dogs play outside in the first big snowfall of the year, and thinking about next year as most people do in the week before Christmas and New Year's.

So last we spoke, Knot Just Knits was collecting items for the community of Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook school shooting.  Here is the article I wrote in case you didn't read it:

http://www.examiner.com/article/free-knitting-patterns-for-items-to-donate-to-victims-families-newtown?cid=db_articles

Well, the article got over 5,000 hits on its own before it was posted again last night by Vogue Knitting magazine...I may not have even noticed, were it not for the fact that my inbox started blowing up all over again.  I scrolled down and saw 71 new "likes" on it and another 26 shares on facebook.  BAM.

The flipside is that Newtown is so overwhelmed with donations, that they are not accepting new ones at the moment.  This is okay with me...here's why.  My wheels started spinning.

If the Red Cross is on the ready at all times, then why can't smaller groups be?  We actually shouldn't have a call to action, per se...there should be a group to just BE there at times like this.  There are, obviously, but I want a piece of that sucker.  Here I have this great platform in the media, catering to the most charitable of all crafters (in my humble opinion), and a day job where I literally have six months off every year.  Yes my schedule has a bit to be desired, but I should be doing something positive with my spare time.

In comes my idea for a non-profit organization...Monsters Anonymous.  I'll design a few pocket- or backpack-sized monster patterns, and both sell the patterns to defray the cost of distributing them and accept donations of already-made pocket monsters.  They would go to kids who recently lost a parent, sibling, or classmate.  Either I will see stories in the news of people to whom I can send some love, or people will be able to request a monster through a website.  Something like, "My next-door neighbor died, and the surviving spouse has three kids aged 8, 7, and 5.  Can you send a few monsters their way?"  Sure I can!  I know I can't offer counseling services or anything that requires a license, but I sure can bring a little community of knitters together to make monsters for kids who are afraid of death or violence.

I can start early next year...I'm still waiting on a real estate deal to close so it will be a couple of months, but I think I can totally do this.  I figure I'll need a few things:
1.  Support
2.  Test-knitters
3.  Media help
4.  A website
5.  An outlet network to help distribute in cities other than Chicago (that can come later)
6.  Business or organization registration of some sort

I know I will need MUCH more than that, but most importantly, I need feedback!  If Newtown can't take the donations we're collecting, there are still plenty of people out there who can and Newtown may need something like this in a few weeks or months as well...their hurt will not stop just because the story is not at the forefront of the news.

Please share your thoughts, shoot this blog post to others and ask their thoughts as well (or...you know...just verbally ask if you want to interact with humans in 3-D).  Thanks!  Here is the first donation Knot Just Knits received, on Christmas Eve...from a lovely woman in El Paso:


This is exactly...EXACTLY...what I had in mind.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Call To Action

Good morning, everyone.  I'm so, so proud.  So proud.

Knitters are the best ever at giving.  They just are.  So when the Connecticut school shooting happened, I got an email from examiner.com expressing their sympathies, and stating that if we write a story about the tragic shooting, tag it with "Connecticut School Shooting" so it gets promoted.  My second thought (after the pool of first thoughts that EVERYONE had, including "Who?", "Why?", "How could this happen?" and the like) was "Is there anything that I can do to help?

So here I am, this little petty reporter who writes about knitting, and this major tragedy happens, and I joke all the time about how my dozens of readers would be pleased about this or that.  What kind of difference can I make, really?  So below is the story I came up with...I called my friend Elizabeth and asked if she would be willing to help.  It was a no-brainer...she promotes charity knitting more than most of the stores in the area:

http://www.examiner.com/article/free-knitting-patterns-for-items-to-donate-to-victims-families-newtown?cid=db_articles

Next thing I know, Amy Singer from knitty.com retweeted it.  Then Knitting Fever, which is the company that distributes great brands like Louisa Harding and Noro, did the same thing.  Then I looked on the examiner.com home page, and there my story was.  Since 9pm on Friday night, over 3,000 people have read about the three yarn stores collecting items for donation, including Knot Just Knits in Oak Park.

Here's the REALLY fun part:  I put Knot Just Knits' phone number in the article, and then I didn't think of the consequences.  My email address is in there as well, and thankfully most charitable knitters seem to be emailers.  I received an email from a woman in Richmond, Virginia who runs a knitting group, and she wants to get the local media and all of the yarn stores in her area involved in donating.  I asked if I could write a story about what she's doing, so hopefully she will call me next week.  I also heard from a woman in California who asked what items are most needed, and if crocheted items were okay as well.  I told her the whole point was to donate items to make kids feel safer and to comfort the families and friends of the victims, so really, anything was good to donate.  We were concentrating on little pocket- and backpack-worthy toys, however.

So there you have it.  I am so proud of the knitting community, stepping it up as they (well, WE) always do in a time of need.  My voice isn't very big, but I am very proud to be one of several voices in this industry that tries to make a difference because even though we can't bring the victims back, we can bring comfort to the living by shipping our handmade wares to a town whose grieving doesn't end when the news picks up a new story.

In other news, I'm going to spend today thinking up a name for my new LLC.  It's just going to be a real estate investment company, so it's not like people will need to search for it on the internet and track me down, but I think that "Amy Kaspar LLC" is just plain stupid if I have the chance to name it anything I want. Here are some thoughts...feel free to chime in with suggestions:

Chicago Condos and Bungalows
Fiberhouse Investments
Kasparhouse Investments
Keith's Bitch LLC (although I already told Keith that he's really MY bitch if I call him at one in the morning to tell him Laporte's heat is out, and HE is the one who gets out of bed to go there)
Northwest Dwellings

Thank you all so much for your support in ALL of my endeavors, but mostly the knitting one.  The pocked-sized bunny takes about ten minutes to knit, and another ten to attach the ears, eyes, and tail.  Totally worth making a bunch of them!  Be well and keep everyone grieving in your thoughts as you go about your beautiful day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tag! You're It.

Today, I have awakened to a husbandless house, accident-prone dog, and the need to sign paperwork.  I think I need to knit a bit.

Tried the sleeping thing, tried the writing thing, and was only marginally successful at either.  The first one involved me on the couch with Bluto.  The second one involved a book review...take a gander:

http://www.examiner.com/review/heart-felt-knits-book-review?cid=db_articles

I of course picked up on the fact that actress Tamara Mello was a knitter when I saw this book arrive at my doorstep, but I had no idea about Christina Hendricks.  I love hearing about celebrities who knit...makes me think that the crazy-cat-lady myth does, in fact, have a chance at dying.

So while I flit between awake-ness and asleep-ness, I watch the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, loaned to me by my friend Elizabeth.  I can't say I'll ever be a fanatic about it, but I SOOOO get why people jump on this series.  Backstabbing!  Bribes!  Misallocated money!  Cheating!  Suicide!  Yeah...I get it.  The dogs are not interested, however.

Since it's close to the end of the year, I've done a fair amount of reflecting and planning, finding hope in the future and seeing what I can do to make my plans come to fruition over the next twelve months.  Turns out I don't have enough spare time to get everything finished that I would want to finish...hmmph.  I either have to make time or cut the list a bit...I'm going to strive for making time.  I also have vowed for the 37th straight year to be more organized (that vow was SUPER-awkward those first couple of years, when I was still colicky and pooping into a diaper).

There are patterns to design, templates to create, people to interview...and like I said, paperwork.  I'm closing on a property over the next couple of weeks, and the list of documents that underwriters request nowadays is a bit ridiculous.  Like a lease agreement on a property I don't own yet.  But whatever.  Time to bust out the needles.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Giddy-ness!

Hello, everyone!  So, I am getting more and more excited about my growing audience.  It means two things to me:  1) I'm relatively knowledgeable and getting noticed for it, and 2) I'm gaining a voice of respectability and getting noticed for it.  Not bad.

Here is today's story...if you are looking for some great hand-dyed yarn, here you go.  I think it's SO cool that she runs this operation out of her three-bedroom apartment:

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-wool-dispensary-is-small-square-footage-big-on-potential?cid=db_articles

And then, remember a few days ago, when I thought maybe I'd send my Malabrigo cowl pattern to the company?  Well, I did.  Six hours later, I got a message from them which read, "Your pattern is now available from our website.  Thank you."  So I ran like I was in a timewarp to a device with internet access that's larger than my new iPhone, and found this:

http://malabrigoyarn.com/patterns.php?pattern=pattern_free

How cool is THAT?

THEN...I got two more subscribers in the past two days.  Might not sound like much, but I have upgraded from dozens of readers to scores of readers...ha ha ha.  Maybe one day I'll be able to do this for a living...it seems so silly to say out loud, but writers on knitting DO exist, and they DO make a living.  Why can't it be me?  Maybe five years down the line I'll be doing this 100% of the time.  If it's sooner, then that just means I'll be as pleasantly surprised as I have ever been.

On a separate note, I was eating a Honeycrisp apple today and of course thinking of CJ, who once rolled his eyes at me and said, "Jonagold?!?!  I wouldn't eat anything but Honeycrisp."  As if my apple weren't worth the twenty cents less per pound that I was paying.  Anyway, I was knitting up December's pattern, which I STILL haven't finished but have made a ton of progress on in the past three days.  I realized something...next Thursday is the anniversary of his death, and for the past two years, this is right around the time he starts speaking to me on a regular basis.

For those of you who are freaked out or think I'm nuts, I'm fine with that.  Believe what you believe, and I will do the same.  Respect, please.

So no sooner had I thought that when I received a text message from someone that said, "You just needed to get beyond my bullshit."  I just found that horrendously funny (for those of you who know the situation with CJ and my gift with the angels and guides, you will also find that horrendously funny).  I went back to knitting the December pattern...here it is so far (and I have apologized about a hundred times to my subscribers for being so late, but I think they get it):


All in all, these past few days have been pretty darn productive.  I'm getting there, albeit slowly.  But dammit as long as my life is in at LEAST first gear, instead of Park, Neutral, or Reverse, I'm good.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tides Are A-Turning

Good evening!  When last we spoke, I was talking about how I was having a banner month on Examiner.com and how I hoped it would continue.  Well, continue it did.  I finished out the month with a story that was not meant as an obituary, exactly, but whatever it was, it pretty much got a life of its own:

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-death-of-knitpurlgurl-demonstrates-the-use-of-internet-for-comfort?cid=db_articles

So I slept during the day, after posting the article.  Then I went to work, and when I came home, I checked my stats for the month.  I had over 600 hits on that one story alone, and it put me well over my best month ever.  Then, for the first week of December, it was the gift that kept on giving.  That one, the "It Takes Balls to Knit" article (which got picked up somewhere), and Kelly Fleek's article (which has over 480 recommendations on StumbleUpon) all brought enough traffic to my pages where I'm now ranked Number 4 in the country for Hobbies Examiners.  I'm up to Number 11 in Chicago, which means that Pop Culture Examiner is in my sights!

I've found that with my new schedule, I have to stockpile my stories and send them out one at a time.  I get home at nine in the morning, and leave again at six the next night.  The problem is that I'm having trouble sleeping, so on most days I wake up at three in the afternoon if not sooner.  Then, I feel like a bona fide zombie until I go to work...it's not conducive to writing.  If I spend my days off writing multiple stories and release them on different days, I have the entire general public FOOLED.

But of course, now that cat is officially out of the bag...ha ha ha.

Over 100 people have downloaded my free pattern to date.  That feels nice, but I actually like the fact that FINALLY someone posted a photo of their progress on the pattern...it's always a relief when you see that someone else makes something that looks like what you designed.  Maybe I'll send the design to Malabrigo and see if they are interested in putting it on their website.  Hmm...

This month, I currently have nine stories in the hopper.  I also was sent a second book from Chronicle Books to review...

Oh, and I'm going to Vogue Knitting Live New York.  With press credentials.

So while my life isn't exactly "fixed," it sure is headed in the right direction.  I see a business venture or yarnie entrepreneurship in my future.  I might not ever be the Yarn Harlot, and I might not ever be Debbie Macomber, but maybe I could just be The Fiber Friend and be perfectly happy.

Of course, I still haven't finished the December shawl sample.  Pattern finished, sample not.  Every moment I'm not writing, I'm knitting.  It's just a bit more involved than your typical around-the-neck-once scarf.  I don't mean to be a tease, but it's more like a Winter Wonderland Lacy Stole and I didn't anticipate the knitting time involved with such a thing.  Duh.

I have direction!  Yay!  Thank you as always for your support, and of course, please let me know what support you need from me in return.  I'm so grateful for what I have, and even more grateful I'll have much more now that I've started to pull my head out of my tooshie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Links, Links, and More Links

Good morning to you!  I have finished my stretch of six straight days working overnight for my day-job, and of course after coming back from Seattle and Vancouver, I have this ridiculous clarity that's riding me through the rest of November and December and hopefully into January.  So here are a bunch of links I want to share...a few have been previously shared, but just choose what you want to see and skip over the rest...I'm not a snob about my shameless promotion.

First, if you have a Ravelry.com account, go ahead and download my free pattern for something quick and warm.  This is the "I bought a ball of super-bulky yarn, and now I don't know what to do with it" pattern.  I used Malabrigo Rasta and it's heavenly...when I took pictures of Sarene wearing it, I decided it looked so damn cute on her that I just gave it to her.  There have already been 79 downloads since I posted it one week ago...yay!  Now I hope people start posting photos of it when finished...I love seeing other people's knitted things, whether or not they are making my pattern:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/interrupted-cable-cowl

Then, I've moved up two spots in my Examiner.com ranking, but I'm having a pretty darn awesome month so I'm just hoping it continues and my next ranking will be even better!  So here are the last few articles I wrote, with a bit of background.  The one from today is about a guy named Steve Malcolm, who lives in Vancouver and I met him at VKLive.  When I was going on my mini-sabbatical and settled on Seattle, I thought to myself, "What knitting things should I...wait!  There was an artist from the Pacific Northwest and the It Takes Balls to Knit guy!  Maybe I could interview them?"  So I did.  Ladies, prepare yourselves...if you open the article about Steve, you get a nice teasy photo of him naked but for a scarf draped over his shoulder.  MEOW:

http://www.examiner.com/article/it-takes-balls-to-knit-entrepreneur-steve-malcolm-proves-it?cid=db_articles

And here is the article on Artist Kelly Fleek.  I published it, went to sleep, woke up for work, went to work, came home, and checked the stats on the article.  Normally, I don't do much with StumbleUpon and I'll see two or three recommendations per article.  To date, this one has 476 recommendations on StumbleUpon:

http://www.examiner.com/article/artist-kelly-fleek-shares-knitting-as-a-form-of-fine-art?cid=db_articles

Then, I wrote an article about Vicki Twigg, who invented TwiggStitch.  It's not too often that something new gets invented after 1,500 years of a craft, but Vicki sure did do it.  And this was another (relatively) viral one...I went to sleep and woke up a few hours later to see over 50 "likes" on facebook:

http://www.examiner.com/article/twiggstitch-turns-a-twist-on-two-color-knitting?cid=db_articles

And finally, my book review on Vickie Howell's new book, Step It Up Knits.  It's great, seriously...teaches you every intermediate technique on the planet, and the projects are both cute and quick so you don't have to worry about packing sixty balls of yarn with you on that vacation.  Of course, I'm assuming you're going on a vacation to a place with no yarn shop, so it's not like you have to leave room in your bag for the yarn you're purchasing:

http://www.examiner.com/review/step-it-up-knits-book-review?cid=db_articles

My readership is up, my subscriber list is up, my unique visits are up...the plan is working!  Yay!  I just want to thank all of you who read my stuff...it means the world to me when I see something I write about gaining popularity.  I support all of my topics, and it's nice to see that others find them interesting as well.

And now...I'm still finishing up the December scarf pattern for my Scarf of the Month club.  I already warned everyone that it will be late...this work schedule has me passed out at the weirdest hours, and it's cutting into my knitting time!  But again...there's a plan in place for that as well.  It's just a long-term plan so I will probably have to continue figuring out how to circumvent my time.  Right now, I write a bunch of articles on my off-days and release them on days I work, so they are published in a more even and organized (and timely, if the subject matter is time-sensitive) way.  Beyond that, I'm walking the puppies in the afternoons, praying to the lottery gods so I win enough money to buy the NHL and end the lockout, and I'm just being me.  Not a bad life if you can get it.

Thanks again!  PS...if anyone knows someone who wants to adopt a puppy, my tenant is looking for a forever home for this girl...she's eight weeks old, and she currently lives in a house with two dogs and four little kids so she's being socialized and obviously approachable and non-aggressive.  She is a little sweetheart.  Contact me if you know anyone who is interested...I have enough spare time to coordinate transport, and if someone would like her for a Christmas gift (to a RESPONSIBLE home), we can keep her until then for sure.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stepping It Up and Interrupting Cables

So today is all about the writing and the knitting...I have to get my crap together because I have to work tonight. And the next five after it.  That's right...six nights in a row...78 hours on the schedule in one calendar week.  If I fall over, then all i can hope for is someone friendly puts a ball of yarn under my pillow.

But today, I finished the review on Vickie Howell's new book, Step It Up Knits.  The book is worth every penny for not only yourself, but any knitter in your life...Vickie did a great job at capturing the simplicity of each technique through every pattern.  Here it is:

http://www.examiner.com/review/step-it-up-knits-book-review?cid=db_articles

I also finished the pattern from Seattle and posted it to Ravelry.com.  Here is the text of it, and the photos can be found on the Ravelry page...hope you like it!


Interrupted Cable Cowl

I spent the entire year making scarves for my subscribers enrolled in my Scarf of the Month Club, and then after fourteen prototypes, I went to Seattle and forgot a scarf.  Or rather, I forgot all of them.  I made a bee-line to the nearest local yarn shop and whipped something up in a few hours.  It’s only a ten-row pattern, and you can get any cute buttons you would like to jazz it up!  Not bad for an afternoon walking around Seattle.

Difficulty:  ●●○○○ (If you can knit, purl, and do cables, you can do it)

Size: 
Approx. 6” x 29” (one size)

Materials:  
Malabrigo Rasta (90yd/150g skein), color 96 Sunset, one skein
Size 15 (10.00mm) straight knitting needles
Large-eye tapestry needle
Cable needle
3 cute buttons

Stitches:
K – knit
P – purl
C8L – Place next four stitches on a cable needle and hold in FRONT of work, (K1, P1) 2x next 4 sts, then (K1, P1) 2x stitches from cable needle

Gauge: 
10 stitches = 4 inches in garter stitch

Pattern:
Cast on 16 stitches.

Rows 1-3:  Knit all sts.
Rows 4-6:  K4, (K1, P1) 4x, K4
Row 7:  K4, C8L, K4
Rows 8-10:  K4, (K1, P1) 4x, K4

Repeat a total of eleven times, or until you are almost out of yarn.  Bind off after Row 3.

Finishing:
Weave in ends. Sew three buttons, evenly spaced, on one end.  Buttons should be small enough to fit through stitches, but not so small that they can’t catch on the stitches.

If you look for me, I'll be trying to sleep, trying to knit, trying to write, trying to catch up...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Busy Busy Busy Busy Busy...

Good evening!  I am sitting in the red chair with my favorite seatmate, Penny.  See, Bluto doesn't crack the list because he just takes up too much freaking space.

Here's what's on the agenda...well, first, here's what I wrote today.  An article about Black Friday and the local yarn shops:

http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-yarn-shops-prepare-for-holiday-shopping-season?cid=db_articles

In the hopper:  an article about Steve Malcolm and his calendar, which raises money for prostate cancer research; an article about Kelly Fleek and her knitted art; a review of Vickie Howell's new book (sent to me by the publisher, along with another title she said she thought I would enjoy...how cool is that?); a story on String Theory and their annual scarf sale and bazaar; and an article on Vicki Twigg, inventor of Twiggstitch.

I'm tired just thinking about it.

BUT...I am feeling lucky.  My trip to Seattle and Vancouver gave me clarity like I never expected...a few walks and chance encounters made me realize just what I need, what I need to bury and forget, and the direction I need to go.  It's not a perfect plan, but there is a heck of a formula brewing in my head.

As you can see, the column is picking up a bit of speed.  Steve has actually asked me to design a pattern for next year's calendar...I tried to sound all non-chalant and, "Oh...sure.  That would be great."  But even in the month he's known me, I'm pretty sure my face told him, "EEEEE!!!  Really?  Yay!  Score!  Thank you thank you thank you!  I think you're awesome!  I think I'm not as awesome but yay anyway!"

Kelly, also, was lovely.  Knitters are such good people...and yes, there is a bad apple or two.  And yes, women sometimes gossip when they get together...it's the nature of the yarny beast.  But in general, I haven't met a knitter I really didn't like...the common theme of people who knit is their warmth.

I've moved up the ranks by one at examiner.com...please do like me on facebook, follow me on Twitter, subscribe to here and my articles on examiner.com, and encourage others to do so because I want to kick the Pop Culture Examiner's pedestal over.  The links are below...

And finally, I'm donating 15% of the proceeds of my pattern sales this month to Movember, an organization which raises money and awareness for male-related cancers.  Knitting patterns make GREAT gifts...get in there before November!  I'm happy to hold a pattern you've purchased and email it to the recipient on Christmas if you'd like.

Be well!


The Fiber Friend
facebook: The Fiber Friend
twitter:  @TheFiberFriend
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Ravelry:  TheFiberFriend

Monday, November 12, 2012

Seattle-ing

So here I am, decompressing in Seattle on my friend Miles' couch, looking at a blank TV screen (because I wouldn't know what to do with one even if it was on), and feeling the Malabrigo Rasta on my leg.

Why?

Because despite the fact that I've made a scarf a month for an entire YEAR, I neglected to bring one with me on this trip.  That's why.  So I found the local yarn shop.  While there, I also purchased a pair of size 2 circulars because I am going to make a toe-up pair of socks out of a Crazy Zauerball, and I was able to dig into the middle of the ball and pull out both ends.  So far, knitting-wise, this trip has been a success.

Here is the article I wrote today for examiner.com...it's about knitting for charity and what drop-off points are located in Chicago:

http://www.examiner.com/article/charity-knitting-abounds-november

After zonking out on the plane while sitting in between a guy with zero humor and another guy who was literally 6'7" tall, I was up all day yesterday and then slept for ten hours last night.  This morning, I walked downtown and stopped at a breakfast place.  This is what I love about Seattle.  The woman asked if I wanted coffee, and I said of course.  She asked if I wanted cream, and I asked if she had soy milk.  Then SHE said, "Of course!"  Vegans are the majority here.

I also walked down to Pike Place Market, did some wandering around downtown, and sat at a coffee shop for a bit to cast on the Rasta.  Basically, I have spent the last...depends on who you ask, but...between few weeks and few months on a downward spiral.  I'm miserable.  And I'm tired of being miserable.

The good news is that I'm not hopeless, having suicidal thoughts, not getting out of bed, or anything else that would indicate I need medication.  I'm just in a really crappy place.

But every once in a while, something really cool happens and it reminds me that my lot in life isn't exactly horrendous.  Yes, I've had my struggles, but big deal...I'm here, I have a job and a family, some spare cash, and an upwardly-mobile attitude.  A woman bought one of my patterns today...she met me at a yarn shop and enjoyed our chat enough to buy one of my patterns.  That's trust, in my opinion.  Some of you may not see the connection, but I do.

Anyway, tomorrow I am interviewing a woman named Kelly Fleek...she is an artist who uses yarn as her medium.  How fun!  And she is a vegan so she is picking a place for lunch that I'm guaranteed to enjoy.  Of course, if I had known my audience, I would not have said the following:

"Just so you know, I'm a vegetarian, but I'm not one of the crazy vegans that will throw red paint on your fur coat or anything."

Her response?  "Well, that's okay because not only am I a vegan, but I'm ethical too, so we'll find a good place to eat."

Damn...I hope she gets to know me well enough tomorrow to realize that I meant no disrespect.  If not, then I guess our hour will be the only one I spend with her...ha ha ha.

Other than that, I was thinking of going to Vancouver for the day.  I have access to a car, and ever since I saw the movie "Cousins" with Ted Danson and Isabella Rosselini, I have wanted to see that city.  Best line from that move...everyone should live by this philosophy:

"You've got only one life to live.  You can make it chicken shit, or chicken salad!"

Don't forget, I'm also donating a portion of my pattern sales this month to Movember, an organization which raises money for testicular and prostate cancer research.  You can buy my patterns either on Ravelry (thefiberfriend) or Etsy (The Fiber Friend).  Please share with others...it's for a good cause and my patterns are super-cheap and not too challenging.  Yay!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get Me to NUMBER ONE!

Hello, everyone...I have been bogged down by my ACTUAL job this month, but I have hopes I'll get used to it.  Now...onto the knitting.  Here is my most recent article for examiner.com, about a knitted-art exhibit at Northeastern Illinois University:

http://www.examiner.com/article/woman-s-work-a-knitted-art-gallery-opens-at-neiu-today?cid=db_articles

I'm working overnights now, and while I'm horrendously miserable, there are a couple of factors at work there.  In the meantime of getting me un-miserable, I have a plan.  Or two.  Or even a few.  First one is knitting-related.  After Vogue Knitting Live, I...wait.  I didn't tell everyone about VKLive.

Let me get to that.  First, I'm currently number 23 of the 1,569 Chicago Examiners.  For knitting!  Can you believe that?  I can probably name the people ahead of me...celebrity, sports, weather, current events...blah blah blah...and then knitting.  How awesome is that?

But I hate being number 23 (even though it's not only Michael Jordan's number, but also the classiest of the classy...Ryne Sandberg).  I want to be NUMBER ONE.  I need your help.  Please help me out...subscribe to my examiner.com articles by clicking on the link below and hitting "Subscribe":

http://www.examiner.com/knitting-in-chicago/amy-kaspar

You just have to click on the article once it reaches your inbox, get the info you want out of it, and POOF.  I'm that much closer to NUMBER ONE.  Phase Two:  please share this with all of your friends, family, local yarn shops, blah blah blah (that's the phrase of the day), and get them to subscribe as well.  I will never retire on my examiner.com income, but how awesome would it be if I was beating out the weather guy on an expert-driven website?  For KNITTING?

Please help me out.  Subscribe, share, and badger your friends.  Get the word out.  Get me viral.  Whatever you have to do so I beat out the Pop Culture guy.  Thank you.

So check this out.  I wrote my three articles about the event, but now is my time to totally geek out and tell people what I saw there.  First thing is this...I was walking to the line at Starbucks when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, otherwise known as the Yarn Harlot, walked by me.  I dropped my jaw a bit and subliminally pointed at her.  Then I laughed at myself...most people have that reaction when they see Julia Roberts.  I have that reaction when I see a knitting goddess.  But whatever...I'm fine with it.

The experience was fantastic...my photos are WAY behind but a bunch of the designers and lecturers were absolutely lovely.  My press pass was like the Golden Ticket...people were being shut out of doors, and I just flashed my badge and it was like, "Oh, ma'am.  My apologies.  This way..." So I got to see some behind-the-scenes stuff I wouldn't have seen otherwise.  One example is that I got to worm my way into the very front of Nicky Epstein's fashion show...too cool for words.  That woman, as far as I can tell, just never ever sleeps.  She may doze off for a few minutes, but all it does is temporarily slow down her circular or double-pointed knitting needles.

I also met Vickie Howell, who was exactly what you would expect from a southern-belle-slash-crafty-moefoe.  She was adorable.  And classy.  And she was willing to pose with Teeny Jesus, which makes her that much more awesome.  She suggested I contact her publisher to get a copy of her book, so I can review it.  Really?  Yay!  I will do that...

Just as soon as I accept the fact that this column is going national before my very eyes.  What fun!  Again...I most likely won't make a living at this, but damn if the number of increasing clicks doesn't increase my yarn budget, and subsequently the design whirlpool in my head.

I told Deborah Newton, who designed my favorite sweater in Vogue Knitting's 30th Anniversary Issue, that the only thing keeping me from making it was the fact that it requires three gauge swatches.  She laughed and suggested that if I got the stockinette stitch one down pat, I should be fine.  Done.  Then, of course, I bought yarn for it at the event.  Duh.

So between that, and running into a bunch of my knitting friends (I'm talking to YOU Sue, Karen, Maureen, Lynn, Beth, and all of the LYS owners who were there), it was a fantastic weekend.

Sorry I've rambled so much...coffee is the only thing that currently gets me out of bed, and I've drunk a LOT of it.  Back to the needles!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The October Blahs

Good morning, everyone...I sit in my living room, watching Bluto destroy his rope toy (this is constant, actually), listen for Penny (and get concerned when I don't hear her), and wonder what the heck I should do today.  See, I have a list.  It involves getting a new lease to one of my tenants, calling a mortgage guy, following up on a few key documents, and maybe cleaning or something.  Or not.

But I'm feeling blah.  Tomorrow night, I flip to the overnight shift and I'm not very happy about it.  I was joking with my friend Elizabeth yesterday that the good news is that my days are now ALWAYS free, but I'm just not sure I'm cut out for working overnights.  I thought I was; I spent a week doing it at the beginning of the month.  But now I'm questioning.

The good news, and this is relative, is that I finally have a knitting project to leave in the car.  After the washcloth was done, I have been staring at an empty passenger seat while waiting for the Bensenville train to pass at 8:34pm every evening I left work.  Now that I'm on overnights, I'm likely to catch that f***ing thing TWICE.  But all is well...I'm going to make baby blankets out of acrylic yarn and give them away!  Here's how you do it:

Cast on 8 stitches to a set of four double-points.
Rnd 1:  K1, yo, K1
Rnd 2:  Purl
Rnd 3:  (K1, yo, K to last st on needle, yo, K1) 4x
Rnd 4:  Purl

Repeat Rounds 3 and four until you need to graduate to a circular needle.  Place a marker at the beginning of the round, and then three other markers in a different color than the first one to mark the end of where the needles had been.  Then repeat the following two rows until your blankie is the size you want:

Rnd 1:  (K1, yo, K to last st before marker, yo, K1) 4x
Rnd 2:  Purl

I haven't bound off yet, obviously, but I'm thinking a normal knitted bind-off would be find.  It's a garter-stitch blankie, for crap's sake.

On the other hand, the edge could be the most interesting part of the blankie!  Crochet picot?  Ruffle?  Scrap yarn with a Victorian lace motif?  Whatever!



I also have all of these Teeny Jesus photos to upload...I'm going through a phase where I only do what I need to do to get through the day, and then I THINK about all of the stuff that needs to get done.  Not very productive but I do think it's making me smarter, no?

So I'm feeling positive some days, and damn-near hopeless the next (don't call an intervention hotline...I don't mean it that way).  Today I'm feeling hopeful.  And...this coming weekend is Vogue Knitting LIVE.  I wrote an article about it and got a message back from their PR person saying "Great article!  Your press pass will be at Registration..." I'm so starstruck it's not even funny.  Dorky, I know, but this is like a Who's Who in the Knitting World, and I'm incredibly fortunate to be a part of it.  Even got my new business cards!

Have a good day...please shoot me an email with what you're working on in the changing weather...as an inquiring mind, I want to know.  Or is it enquiring?  I'll have to look that up.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yay and Double Yay!

Good morning, yarners and blog followers!  I'm sitting on the chair, Penny is sitting on the other chair, Bluto is passed out on the couch, and the husband is upstairs.  So I'm basically alone.  Big deal in my house, considering the dogs like to act as cardigans.

So anyone who followed my "anatomy of a sock" series on examiner.com saw photos of my socks, made in a yarn called Lorna's Laces Solemate.  It's lovely.  Colors are also lovely.  I can't think of a bad thing to say about the company's yarn...it's worth every penny of what you are paying and then some.  So every year, the Ravenswood ArtWalk happens the last weekend in September, and the only year I was able to go was 2008 with my friend Ellen and her mom.  Even this year, I was scheduled to work this weekend until I arrived at work yesterday.

Turns out, we are embarking on a big project this week, so I offered to work overnight from Sunday to Thursday.  This means that suddenly I have today (Saturday) off, and suddenly...I GET TO GO TO LORNA'S LACES BECAUSE THEY ARE LOCATED SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ARTWALK.  Yes, that was me screaming from the rooftops.

In case you're curious, here is the article I wrote about it for examiner.com.  I of course get paid by the click, so make sure you share this with your friends, family members nearest neighbors on the bus via Samsung Galaxy SIII click, whatever:

http://www.examiner.com/article/lorna-s-laces-opens-its-doors-during-the-ravenswood-artwalk?cid=db_articles

Now, I respect the fact that people will think I'm geeking out in a way I don't normally geek out.  But two things to consider:
1.  I have no Chicago Blackhawks preseason to speak of
2.  You all have your ComicCons, Live Action Role Play, World of Warcraft, Coffee of the Month Clubs...

So yeah.  I'm there.

Also, I am getting press credentials for Vogue Knitting Live, something that STILL has me geeked out.  I was asked if there was anyone I would like to interview, and I didn't feel right by responding with, "Umm..how about everyone on the docket?  I can do that, right?" I chose one of my favorite designers.  It will be a surprise, but if this person is free, I already have my rapid-fire interview ready.

This has been another good month on the writing front...it started out with the Red Scarf project, which to-date has 52 "likes" on facebook (click here if you didn't get a chance to read this...it's a fantastic organization).  This has also been a good month on other fronts, as I had an epiphany in the middle of a training class.  The first voice I heard was CJ's, which figures, since I was only a few blocks from his house (in fact, Teeny Jesus made an appearance in his front yard).  Then I heard a woman's voice, telling me basically, "I told you so."  It was in a very nice way, and I couldn't figure out the voice, especially since only ONE person had dissented on the particular I-told-you-so decision. Come to find out that the voice I heard was the person who originally dissented, and she had passed away that morning.

By the way, I don't care if you agree, disagree, believe, or think I'm nuts when I say things like this.  But if it's true to me, just respect that.

So anyway, I heard the signs loud and clear.  I need new direction.  I see the new direction.  It's just a matter of getting there.  Next month's pattern is ready to be shipped (via email of course) to my subscribers on the first of the month, I get to drool at Lorna's Laces this afternoon, and basically all is well with the world.  Or something.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rat Extraction

It's past eleven at night.  Everyone is asleep except me, and possibly Axl (who is not in my field of view at the moment).  I was at work until almost three in the morning so I really have no business being awake right now, but whatever.

After living like a zombie for the first half of the day, I finished the second Sunday Swing sock...for those of you not privy (and why wouldn't you be, since this is a knitting blog), these are the socks I making for the examiner.com tutorial.  I also wrote an article about Second Sock Syndrome, that horrible affliction that overtakes you when you are about to knit your second sock, and you get a case of the fuckits.  So here is the article...

http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-area-knitters-advise-on-second-sock-syndrome-remedies?cid=db_articles

And here is a photo of Teeny Jesus blessing my new pair of socks:


Otherwise, my day was spent flipping through the new Vogue Knitting 30th Anniversary issue, and perusing the Knitty.com 10th Anniversary issue.  In other words, the whole day consisted of yarn and journalism, and for some reason, my brain isn't full enough to let me get to sleep.

At the very least, I wanted to celebrate my sock victory, but the dogs started freaking out.  I went to the back door to let them out.  I waited a minute.  I looked outside to make sure they weren't digging.  I see Bluto cradling and cuddling something fuzzy.  Of course.  F***ing Bluto.

So I go outside.  Call the dogs back in.  And this is what I find, curled into the fetal position on my back porch.


Now, I'm pretty sure Bluto didn't mangle the guy...I think he was like that for some other reason.  On the other hand, I'm praying he is just stunned and spooked and gooey from afterbirth so he can wake up and scurry out of the yard on his own power before I have to let the dogs out to pee one last time.

I think it's time to go back to Vogue Knitting.  Nobody needs THAT as their last image of the night.  Or I could start on those slippers.  Or finish the kimono sweater.  Or the scarf.  Or...

Friday, September 14, 2012

GORGEOUS Knitting Weather

Good morning, everyone.  So here I am, coffee in hand, dogs in lap (as much as 125 pounds of dog fits into ONE lap), laptop on armrest, getting ready to continue my day.  I started thinking about Life In General, and there have been about zero noteworthy observations to share.  Zero.  Seriously.

So apparently, I should be knitting.

Here is a roundup of events going on in the Chicago area this weekend...yarn-related, of course:

http://www.examiner.com/article/this-weekend-a-fun-filled-fall-full-of-yarn?cid=db_articles

I have asked for the help of knitters to tell me how they combat Second Sock Syndrome...any other suggestions would be appreciated.  It's for Tuesday's article, so there is still time, baby.  My last five weeks of Knit Tips Tuesday have been dedicated to making a sock; I now am about halfway done with the second sock and I'm literally talking myself into finishing because I don't want to have a random sock just hanging out there.

Last month, I finished having over 3,000 unique hits on my examiner.com articles, and this month I'm on pace for more of the same.  Yay!  This is causing more traffic to my Etsy site (I've sold six patterns this month), and I'm now to the point where I'm hoping I can get a good second-income thingie going.  It would be nice to retire a year or two early, just because I write about colored string and all things heavenly that go with it, no?

This next few weeks, I'm trying to figure out what I need to change.  Getting organized is at the top of the list, but I'm still just not feeling it.  I built a desk, bought a drawer tower, and have effectively at least looked at my tax paperwork.  So that's a start.  The thing is I really need to finish what I've started, before the mess overtakes the house to the point where I'm going to be on an intervention television show.  Sadly, I don't even watch TV so it's not like I'd see it when it airs.

Anyway...so, one of the stores I mentioned in the article above is Sifu Design Studio.  Lisa opened her fabulous store over two years ago and has so many kitchy and awesome things going on there, I don't have the space to write about it.  She has a weekly caption contest where the winner wins the pattern in the caption photo and a $5 gift certificate to her store.  This is the picture from last week:


  1. Photo: Congratulations to @Amy Kaspar for winning last week's caption contest. This one made me giggle!!  

I was SO hoping you'd say "Yes!"

    Well, my caption won the contest last week:  "I was SO hoping you'd say 'Yes!'"  I'm a horrible crocheter, but I do collect vintage patterns and like I said, I can't think of a single bad thing to say about Lisa's store (or herself for that matter).  The energy there is just fabulous.  So yeah.

    Okay...it's time I showered and actually...you know...did something today.  I am hoping to plow through the sock, as the October scarf pattern of the month is already finished and I'm not ready to start on November's yet.  I also have to meet the roofing guy, deposit some checks, wear clothes that don't give off the vibe that I actually DO spend all of my spare time at the employer's address...

    Have a good day, everybody!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Saturday Saturday!

Good afternoon!  That title was done in the voice of the NHRA guy who tries to make Sundays sound like the most awesome day of the week.  I was at work until midnight finishing a spreadsheet, following up on little notes, blah blah blah, and this was the week of tears and snot bubbles so I was ready for my three days off after the first day.  The last customer I encountered reeked of alcohol and stopped to tell me I had to fire someone for giving him the finger.

Now granted...had one of my associates given this guy the finger, with witnesses, maliciously, because of something unprovoked, then sure.  But by all accounts of those around these two people (and there were a lot of witnesses), the only truth is that the guy reeked of alcohol.

Chicago has a new yarn store which opened today.  It's called Knit Nirvana and was opened by my friend Sue Jaffe, who used to work at two yarn shops in the near western suburbs.  I'm very happy for her that she can see her dream realized and share it with others...there is no other feeling like that.  I also took a bunch of pictures so I can write about the store.

Today, though, I wrote about the fact that September 1 is the first day the Red Scarf Project accepts donations.  Who's with me?

http://www.examiner.com/article/september-1-kicks-off-red-scarf-project-donations?cid=db_articles

So then, just in case August wasn't affirming enough, I got the loveliest email from a reader from another part of the country:


Hi, Amy …

I don’t know if you’re still doing this (below) or not, but whether you send me a free pattern or not I wanted to e-mail anyway and tell you how much I enjoy reading not only your examiner.com articles but also your Fiber Friend blog posts.  For a full six months I commuted by air from Charlotte, NC, to Phoenix, AZ, very early each Monday morning, then put in 60 hours, and flew back late every Friday night; somehow I feel kinship beyond knitting with you!  8^)  By the way, I’m also (name withheld) on Ravelry.  Thanks again for the enjoyment you bring with your writing and designing …

Georgia

How nice was that?  I of course sent her a free pattern...if anyone forwards me the email of the subscription confirmation from examiner.com, I send them a free pattern.  The warm and fuzzy feeling I got from reading her message is just a bonus!

I am currently taking a break from putting the finishing touches on the photos from September's pattern...I have until 11:59pm...ha ha ha.  My subscribers, hopefully, have given up on scheduled emails because of me, so this month's pattern (and the last three after that) will be sent out the old-fashioned way.  I actually can't wait until the 20th to share this pattern with everyone...it's one of those that gets noticed because the yarn does all of the work for you.  Pretty darn easy pattern to turn out so pretty!  I may send a teaser later in the month, but not today.

Then, there are still two more posts on examiner.com for Knit Tips Tuesday regarding sock-knitting.  I have to show the heel-turn and gusset this Tuesday, and the foot and toe the following week.  The sample sock is super-pretty...makes me actually want to make the second one...

Have a great holiday weekend!  By the way...don't text and drive.  I was at a stop sign earlier today, waiting for a freight train so I was actually in PARK because there was a wall of about fifty cars before me that were also parked.  A woman scared the bajeesus out of me by...wait for it...banging on my window when I wasn't looking and yelled, "Hey!  Don't text and drive!"  Duly noted, lady.  I believe in safety as well.  However, banging on my window could have caused me to freak out and take my foot off of the brake...good thing I wasn't in gear.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coffee, Slideshows, and Yarn

Good morning, everyone...here is the third installment (of five total) on how to knit a sock:

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-all-about-socks-part-3?cid=db_articles

If you missed the first two articles, they are embedded as hyperlinks in the first paragraph of the above article.  Moving on from THAT...yesterday, I barely moved from the couch, despite my list of crap to do, which kept getting longer and longer.  It resulted in me starting about five projects and completing zero of them.  But for some reason, I got a ton of knitting done.  I can see the headline now...Crazy Cat Lady found next to a four-page To-Do list, surrounded and covered by six hundred finished projects and five unfinished projects.

Okay...maybe that's too long for a headline.

Anyway, I think I just got so giddy over having three days off in a row that I threw my life away and went for the relaxing tasks.  It's not exactly a sin if you look at it that way.

This month, I have gained almost forty subscribers to examiner.com, including a couple of the local yarn shops.  Yay!  Separate from my knitting life, however, Bert bought the dogs a new rope toy and a new oversized tennis ball that squeaks.  Here is a video which illustrates how gifted the dogs are (keep looking for Penny's snout at the bottom of the video...she's pacing back and forth the whole time):

video

It's barely past nine in the morning, and the two knuckleheads are exhausted.  But they TOTALLY look like killers from the window.  It's all that matters.

I have September's scarf completed with just a few tweaks I have to make to the pattern, October's scarf started, the sock over a week ahead of the articles (so I'm not knitting the last row of whatever I'm talking about that morning), and the kimono sweater that I have to rip back a few rows, so I can re-do the bind-off on the sleeves.  I'm oh-so stressed (that was irony).

So yeah...I think I'm going to postpone anything important for one more day and go off to knit the afternoon away.  I may also eat junkfood.  And wear bluejeans.  And I may even take pretty pictures of nature (and Teeny Jesus, obviously).  Be well!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Month of Success

You know, I'm having a good month.

Today is the first day of three days off in a row...this hasn't happened since mid-July.  Sometimes the retail industry flat-out sucks for that reason.  But whatever...I made it, and that's all that matters.  Okay, first thing's first:  here is the news coming out of Frankfort, Illinois, home of Yarns to Dye For and More.  Sale sale sale sale!  Obviously, I have enough yarn.  But Cascade 220 almost never ever ever goes on sale, because it's sort of the Frito Lay of yarn.  Good stuff.

http://www.examiner.com/article/blowout-sale-at-yarns-to-dye-for-and-more?cid=db_articles

My month started with me having the stoopid idea of knitting a pair of socks, and teaching the examiner.com-reading public how to knit them as well.  I posted the story.  I went to work.  I came home and was reading through my facebook feed when I saw that editor-in-chief of knitty.com, Amy Singer, had blogged about my article.  Poof.  Instant fame.

For a Chicago-based knitting journalist, anyway.

So then, I had the Chicago Yarn Crawl, and of course my pattern got distributed to probably 200 knitters (not to mention the number of people who shared the pattern, since it was free) in a week.  I then got to meet Trisha Malcolm, editor of Vogue Knitting Magazine, and of course Teeny Jesus was photographed with her (although she may not know that just yet).  Finally, today's story was retweeted by Jim Kerr.

Big deal, right?  Some Irish guy picked up my story.

Except he is the founder of Orbitz.com.  I had three brushes with fame this month and I still have five days to go!  Maybe one of them is hiring and will be interested in throwing some money and benefits at my skills.  I just have to figure out which god needs to receive my prayers.

I started the October scarf today, and I also finished the heel flap for next Knit Tips Tuesday.  It's been a knitting kind of day.  I also saw "The Campaign," which was horrendously amusing if you can handle jokes that are so inappropriate that your ears flush every time someone talks.

Time to get back to knitting.  I need two free hands for that.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Pit Bulls and One Chair

Good morning, everyone!  Today is my only remaining day off this week, so I'm taking full advantage by knitting, possibly getting out of my pajamas (I make no promises), and maybe even going outdoors because it's so lovely outside.

Here is my Knit Tips Tuesday, the second in a series about sock-knitting:

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-all-about-socks-part-2?cid=db_articles

You are certainly not too late to jump on the bandwagon if you would like to start knitting socks with us...the pattern is fairly simple, the yarn is stunning, and the point of the series is to break down each step so you know why you are doing what you are doing.  Simple, right?  I'm all about the simple.  And wordy.  I can't help it...I have a ton of coffee that has gone from the pot to the gullet to the bloodstream, so I'm typing as fast as I talk.

Somewhere, my friends in Texas are trying to get a word in edgewise.

Anyway, next week is the first time since July 12th that I've had three days off in a row.  I plan on getting things done that I've avoided, like putting away the laundry and getting the damn papasan chair out of my car.  I ran into my friend Colleen yesterday, and she pointed to the papasan.  It dawned on me that the last time I saw her, I was having dinner with her a month ago and that same chair was in my car.  Time to break up with my procrastinatory (it's a word) side.

Oh, and speaking of knitting...which I always am...the designer of the pattern I chose for the knit-along is truly lovely.  I asked her a few questions about her pattern, and I even get to quote her in the article.  I picked through her designs on Ravelry, and MAN does she have her stuff together.  Really gorgeous pieces...I highly recommend going to her page on Ravelry and checking out her patterns.

Other than that, I am just trying to make it through the next four days and then relax a bit for the following three.  I often don't realize how much I need days off until I don't get them, and then it's like that scene in Young Frankenstein:  "I don't know, but his face rings a bell! (BONG!)"

So last night, I was knitting and listening to Pandora (first the Grateful Dead, and then Journey...I try to challenge Pandora).  Penny decided she wanted in on the action, so she climbed into the chair with me.  Bert took pictures.  Then, this morning she did the same thing, only I and my yarn were only interesting to her until the garbage man showed up. Then, she practically ran over my shoulder and the back of the chair to the kitchen, because she knows if she can get outside, the garbage man has treats.

Off I went to the kitchen.  Off the killers went to the back yard.  And out flies the treats from the garbage man.  See?  Everyone is having a good day off!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Internet is a Powerful Tool

Hello, everyone...what a fun knitting week this has been!  Quite honestly, it's been a fun week in general.  I mean, I started the week by winning seven bucks in that $352 million PowerBall lottery.  Might not sound like a big deal, but dang if I could not win most of my money back from the tickets and feel awesome about it at six in the morning.  Free Chinese food!

So then, on Tuesday I decided to finally do my multi-week Knit Tips Tuesday I have been dreaming of doing.  I am not a sock-knitter, as all of you know...I mean, I DID complete one sock.  The thing is that a lot of my readers ARE sock-knitters, and another large handful of them WANT to be sock-knitters.  I thought it would be fun to break down sock-knitting for the timid, the meek, and the ADHD who need to compartmentalize.  I wrote an article for examiner.com about the components of a sock, and then stated that the following week, we would be starting a tutorial knit-along.

Here is the article:

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-all-about-socks-part-1?cid=db_articles

I posted the article on Ravelry, Twitter, and Facebook as always, and then something truly interesting happened.  I was scrolling through my feed on facebook when I ran across the following post on Knitty.com's profile:

http://knittyblog.com/2012/08/never-knit-a-sock-join-the-sunday-swing-along/

Big deal, right?  Only that the editor of the premiere online knitting magazine got wind of what I was doing, with a pattern that appeared on her website, and told everybody about it.  So my number of subscribers literally doubled overnight.  Oh, and 1,100 clicks later, I'm making money on examiner.com this month.

I usually hit that threshold on about the 26th of the month or so.  To hit it before the month is half over, well, to me it's a bit of a big deal.

Well, then I went into panic mode and realized...sheesh...that now I had to knit a pair of socks!  The good news is that my plan was to make it a five-week tutorial, so I don't have to finish it by Tuesday.  I did, however, start it.  The pattern I'm using is the Sunday Swing from Knitty.com's summer 2009 issue.  I bought a skein of Lorna's Laces Solemate during the Chicago Yarn Crawl at one of my favorite yarn stores, Windy Knitty.  It's just fabulous, no two bones about it.

Ooh, AND...now that I'm an expert (meaning, I've done it more than once) at making a slideshow on examiner.com, I will be putting together a slideshow every week so readers can see what the heck I'm doing.  I am holding this big fat hunch that at the end of a month, I will be seeing photos of a bunch of knitters' finished Sunday Swing socks...sweet!

Hopefully, mine will be one of them.  Here is proof that I have casted on and am all set to indulge in this gorgeous stuff:


Oh, Lorna's Laces, how I love thee.  Also, thank you for your support, Ms. Singer!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Chicago Yarn Crawl

Good day, everyone!  I have been super-busy at my day job, and of course it cuts into my knitting time (who do those big corporations think they ARE, anyway?).  But this is the last week of hell for a couple of months, and it's time to say hello again!

First of all, here is my latest Knit Tips Tuesday...who wants to join me in making socks?

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-all-about-socks-part-1?cid=db_articles

Okay...so here is my Chicago Yarn Crawl experience.  On the first day, August 4th, I started in the afternoon after the Mixed Nutz got their tune on for a few hours.  I went to Initially Ewe in Western Springs, a new entry in this year's Crawl.  CUTE store; in addition to yarn, they have children's gifts, personalized monogramming service, and a great Christmas stocking trunk show which I didn't get back to but at least now know where to go!  The two ladies who own the store are lovely; I walked in, asked for a passport, and they took turns showing me around and just generally keeping the high expectation of good moods in the air.  I bought one ball of yarn, and decided that throughout the crawl, I would buy one ball of yarn per store.

By the way, I worked out the math beforehand.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a tightwad about money, mostly because I want to retire before most people and still have a steady income from various sources to make it possible.  The money I was using for the crawl came from patterns I've sold, articles people have read, and that sort of thing.  This was yarn money going toward yarn; the perfect example of the circle of life!

Anyway, I bought a ball of Cascade sock yarn.  Then I moved on to Idea Studio in La Grange.  The three ladies who own that store were in great spirits, so of course I purchased a ball of Lamb's Pride bulky, in the hopes I would find it later at other stores as well.  To spoil the surprise, I did.  Idea Studio's free pattern giveaway was too cute for words...it was a little girl's skirt which incorporated ruffle yarn, so the skirt looks like a low-key tutu.

Then, I moved on to Knot Just Knits.  Elizabeth of course saw me walk in the door, and in a grand and exaggerated fashion said, "Everybody, we have a celebrity!  The author of our free pattern has just walked in the door!"  She asked me later that afternoon if I would autograph her copy of the pattern.  I asked her if backhanding was the same thing.

After working Sunday through Tuesday, and having to work around a doctor's appointment, I went to twelve...twelve!...stores on Wednesday.  You get entered into a raffle when you hit five, ten, and fifteen stores, in addition to each store's individual raffle.  Quite honestly, by the fifteenth store, I was tuckered out and didn't think I could make it to Number Sixteen even if I tried.

My fifteenth store was Sister-Arts studio in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, right around the corner from where I grew up, and across the street from the Burwood Tap.  The ladies who own/work there are horrendously silly, in the best way possible.  I actually bought two balls of yarn from them; there was this yellow silk laceweight that I couldn't put down, and then there was a replacement ball of yarn from when Penny decided to relocate a yarn ball when she was a puppy.  And by "relocate," I mean "take from the dining room table and into her crate, and proceed to treat it like a one-year-old's birthday cake."

These ladies also staged a photo-op with Teeny Jesus, complete with complementary yarn colors and a silly sign:


I ended the two days with two balls of Imperial Ranch Bulky Roving, the two balls from Sister-Arts, three balls of Lamb's Pride, two skeins of Malabrigo silky wool, some fun variegated scarf balls, a Zauerball, a ball of Regia, and Lorna's Laces Solemate.  This yarn will be used for the sock tutorial referenced in the article, above.  Jeez...I better get to winding and knitting!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Holy Exposure, Batman!

Good morning, everyone!  I have been up for four hours or so...not too long by my standards.  So far this morning, I completed a major money project, corresponded with a guy about a purple chair, exercised the dogs to collapsed exhaustion, and wrote an article about knitting.  Here's THAT...

http://www.examiner.com/article/register-now-for-wool-and-company-stitch-n-pitch

So one of the greatest things EVER, knitting-wise, happened this week.  One of the yarn stores participating in the Chicago Yarn Crawl asked if they could use one of my scarf patterns as their exclusive giveaway for their store.  Sounds like no big deal, right?  Well, let me explain the Yarn Crawl to you, then.

Basically, there are 28 local yarn shops in the Chicago area participating in this week-long event.  You go to one store and pick up a passport, and then during the event, every time you go into a local yarn shop, you get your passport stamped.  There are prizes for visiting five stores, ten stores, and fifteen stores, in addition to the route being broken up by region.  Every store is giving away a raffle basket valued at about a hundred bucks.  The event is sponsored by one of the yarn company reps, in conjunction with all of the stores.

Yarn Crawlers are a crazy breed (I can say this with conviction, as I myself will be a Yarn Crawler and can confirm my level of crazy)...they start out the week with a budget, and then of course see that with 28 stores' worth of yarn, there is just too much loveliness to stay within the confines of a pre-stuffed envelope of cash.

So I don't know how many hundreds of knitters there are who pick up a passport for the event (I suppose I could ask Joan, but I try to respect how busy she is), but all of them who stop by one of the stores will be receiving one of my patterns, complete with my contact info.

Meaning all of these people have easy access to subscribe to me at examiner.com, find me on Ravelry or Etsy to view other patterns, send me suggestions and news events related to knitting...

Super-duper win.  Seriously.  I'm honored.

For those of you who humor me and don't knit, I understand where you may be thinking this isn't a very big deal, but this is actually a very, very big deal.  And I can only hope there are no mistakes in the pattern...ha ha ha.

Other than that, I have actually made progress on the kimono sweater.  I'm on the second front, which means when I finish that, I get to attach everything as one giant piece and knit the body.  Woo hoo!  What I like so much about this sweater isn't just the shape of it...there are only two seams to sew.  I hate sewing.

What I hate about it is that...again...it's sixty miles of stockinette stitch.  But it will be worth it in the end.

I'm going to go to Starbucks and dance the afternoon away!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vacation Time!

Good morning, everyone...today I get to say this for the first time in six months (and even THEN, I was packing up an Aveo and driving 1,100 miles almost in one day)....I'm on vacation!

From what?

My job, which has taken an incredibly odd turn.  My personal relationships with friends and family both old and new, which usually get re-evaluated on my vacations and then I forget everything I re-evaluated the day I go back to work.  Giving a crap about laundry.  Oh, to sum up, watch this video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fztNCJy-GXI&feature=related

I think this will be a week of catching up.  Getting ahead may be asking a bit much, but catching up is reasonable...I'll get on the bike, I'll knit, I'll maybe get off the bike at some location where I have never been before, and maybe I'll knit some more.  I will get my financial affairs together, if there are any yet to get together (although I don't think there are any).  If not, I'll just get other people's financial affairs together!  Math...yay!

For now, though, I just watched my cat crawl into the couch.  Seriously.  Like a rat that can dislocate its shoulders.  Me seeing this live actually explains why I couldn't find him  for about six hours last week.

The Scarf Pattern of the Month for August is written and on the needles...one pattern repeat shouldn't take more than a day, so I'll know if the pattern works before shipping it off to Tiny E to test-knit for me.  I may write a few extra columns this month about knitting.  Go ahead and make your fun, but I LOVE yarn.  And being creative.  And the Chicago Blackhawks.  And these are just the THINGS I love!  I love people, too, but that's a conversation for tomorrow.  It's so rare that I'm shallow that today, I think I'll focus on things.

So yesterday, I met this cop who was patiently waiting for some lady to show up on a video, and we were basically small-talking while we waited.  Turns out he's the brother in law of a guy I knew about 17 years ago.  Because that's how small my world is.

Wait...I said I wasn't talking about people.

Anyway, also on my list this week is cleaning out my condo of history...the couple who are moving out I am sure have left an entire dog's worth of hair behind.  Not to mention a host of other substances I'd rather not think about, since they got me fined by the condo association for...wait for it...teaching their dog to pee off of the balcony and onto the building manager assistant's car.  By the way, the couple is double-college-educated and their combined income hovers around two-hundred grand.  I won't miss them.

Funny story...the guy who's moving out told me once he's not very handy.  He called me when I was still in Texas to tell me that the closet door was loose.  I asked him if he had a Phillips head screwdriver.  I told him to go ahead and place it on that top notch of the door, and twist it to the right.

Ooh!  Maybe I'll make some headway on the kimono sweater!  It's about six thousand miles of stockinette stitch, so it's not a very exciting knit.  But hopefully it will be cute.

Okay...enough rambling for the morning.  If you look for me over the next week and a half, I'll be somewhere.  Most likely thinking and doing and being.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thank God June Is Almost Over

Good evening, friends...I must say that while I am a big fan of my three on, three off schedule, this month has exposed just how exhausting an extra day can be.  I'm tired.  And I've done nothing of personal value.  Even things like grocery shopping have gone by the wayside.  Sheesh.

But it's pretty much over...I can look forward to July and my vacation during the week of my birthday, among other things.  Right now, the husband is out of town and the dogs, cat, and I are preparing important secret documents which will be used to rule the world.

Okay...so back to knitting.  The one sock I've knitted is about 90% done, and it's large.  Very large.  I made it to the biggest pattern size on the ball band, figuring there was enough yarn for it and I could just decide who gets the pair if they turn out okay.  I have the correct gauge and yet I still think this particular sock will be too large for...say...me.  And that there will not be enough yarn left over for the second sock.  But then I had this ridiculous brainstorm.

I have a friend named Michael...after his third motorcycle accident left him struggling to save his leg a year later, he has found God, found happiness and peace, and has this ridiculously large piece of hardware on his left leg.  I, believe it or not, will have a spare sock to donate.  He wears a flipflop every day, but my guess is that there are occasions...even when it's ninety degrees outside...where one sock is necessary.  So as I finish this sock, I am doing it with him in mind, and with the hope that he will feel the love that went into every stitch.  There is even personal love in the toe part, since that's what I have left!  Win.


July's scarf is complete, the pattern is almost complete (I don't know why I have let the business of work spill THAT much into everything, but whatever), and next month's pattern is already started.  Still ahead!  That is a victory!


With my vacation in July, I'm hoping to get so far ahead that I will be able to start a project I've had in my mind for about eight months now...if I can do it correctly, I could really open a door of opportunity with this whole knitting thing.  It would be a sort of perfect combo of the three things I adore the most:  yarn, living beings, and math.


For now, though, here is the pattern from June, finally made public today:


https://www.etsy.com/listing/103269229/the-draw-rugby-scarf-knitting-pattern


It's kind of a schizophrenic rugby scarf.  I'm a fan of it...ooh!  And it uses sport-weight yarn!  This is the time of year that sport weight goes on sale because LYSs are making room for the gushy fall stuff.  It's a very easy pattern, it comes with a chart AND written instructions, and the yarn gives it a bit of sheen.  Personally, I think if you're a knit-and-purl knitter and you have a spouse who owns a trenchcoat, this would be a great gift because it's the perfect trenchcoat accessory.  Just my humble opinion.


I used Cascade Venezia Sport.  Heavenly.  My boss smelled it (yes, she smells fibers...her passion is sewing and designing, so she's all about the fabric) and gave me her version of a thumbs-up.


Well, it's time for bed.  Thank you for reading...my column will be back in full force in July.  I think I only wrote four or five articles this month, but that will change now that the big work thing is behind me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Must Be Monday

So here I am, sitting on my kitchen counter while the fridge guy gropes all of the electronics that supposedly keep my food cold.  The weather is too nice for this crap...all it means is that I have to ride my bike to my old house later, instead of taking the car, which was the original plan.

Seriously.  Seventy degrees and sunny.

Anyway, next week is World Wide Knit In Public Day (yes...I said "week" and "day" like they are the same), so this week's article is a summary of all of the events in the Chicago area.  Tell your friends!  Or...you know...just tell one friend, and hopefully they will tell another one:

http://www.examiner.com/article/world-wide-knit-public-day-events-the-chicago-area

And in my advanced, proactive fashion, I learned how to schedule email deliveries in Febraury so I have been using my mad skillz to send out the Scarf Pattern of the Month on the first day of the month if I'm working that day.  Well, I did it twice.  And it worked once.  And then yesterday morning, I got a "cannot be delivered" message from Google.  So yeah...I was late this month, all because I didn't bother to verify that the email had been sent.

The good news...if you were looking for some...is that this month, I have two patterns written and I am trying to decide which one to use for July.  Not a bad problem to have!  I may just knit both samples and see which one I like better.  The problem, of course, is that if both of them turn out to be badly mangled balls of yarn, I have now lost the month and will also have to go back to the drawing board.  But seriously...I'm feeling lucky!  One  of them (and these are the two that are FULLY written...there is another one on the burner that's partially written) is lacy and mossy, and the other one is lacy and holey but not in a lace-hole way.  So we'll see.

In other news, I am watching my life flash before my very eyes.  I certainly don't think I am about to die, but I look back at the last few years and think, "What the f$%k just happened?"  And it's everything...not one event in particular, but there has been way too much change.  I don't know why this sort of thing hits me every few months, but when it does, I just want to cry and run around like a little kid.

Then, I watch the fridge guy struggle with yanking my refrigerator out of its teeny weeny space, and I remember that my problems can be way larger than worrying about what pattern I should knit next.  This guy gets paid to...you know...yank my refrigerator out of its teeny weeny space.  Through no fault of his own, he is unable to do it.  He is unable to do the very job he is here to do.  I just tried helping him roll the sucker...of course completely full of both food and ice...onto this plastic sheet.  No such luck or skill.

I think I'm going to knit the lacy and mossy one first.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is The Day Beginning Or Ending?

Good morning, everyone...I've been pretty mopey this month until about three days ago, when I realized I have things like deadlines that need to be kept.  And I should really bathe the dogs.

Anyway, June is a huge knitting month in Chicago.  Huge.  The only month that may be bigger is August.  So hopefully I'll be getting off my butt to write more about knitting.  We have World Wide Knit In Pubilc Day (well, week) coming up, the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, sales all over the local yarn shop world...it will basically be a very fun month to at least shop for yarn, even if it ends up being too hot to knit without air conditioning.

June's pattern is pretty well ready to be sent out to the Scarf of the Month subscribers, and I have about four ideas for July.  I should probably pick one, and go with it...

I'm open to suggestions.  One of them uses ribbon yarn and increases, one uses laceweight yarn, one uses twisted stitches, and they will probably all be released at some point throughout the year.  For now, though, I'm open to suggestions.  Anyone have a vote on which is the next scarf pattern you want to see?  Oh, speaking of which...I also published the blog post about making the knitting pins on Ravelry.  Why should my teeny weeny circle of readers be the only ones who can do something with ten yards of yarn?

http://thefiberfriend.blogspot.com/2011/12/two-more-days-before-road-trip-time.html

By the way, today's Knit Tips Tuesday is about yarnovers.  Because sometimes, you actually want to make them on PURPOSE (as opposed to me, who yarns over on pretty much every knit-to-purl change in the middle of a row):

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-yarnovers-1

Goodness...I should probably start my day.  I have zero words of wisdom today...just wanted to say hello to my knitting friends and family.  Oh, and go see "The Avengers."  Two hours of both Chris Evans AND Chris Hemsworth?  Sign me up!  Have a good day, everybody.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Knit Purl Knit Purl Knit Purl...

So here I am, groggy and exhausted from working too many hours and then getting a call at four in the morning (he's forgiven...I knew the call was coming but what makes me angry is that I was already awake), and of course not going back to sleep and waking back up at nine or so. that would have been ideal.  But whatever.

Nothing a spot of green tea can't fix.

So I took a hiatus from life last week, and today's Knit Tips Tuesday is about working with double-pointed needles.  Sometimes I curse them, and other times I adore them...it really depends on the day.  I guess it boils down to how fiddly I'm feeling; while I can sing like an angel, I can also fuck up with the best of them and slide pretty things right off of a pair of double-pointed needles.

Here is the article:

http://www.examiner.com/article/knit-tips-tuesday-double-pointed-needles?cid=db_articles

And then, I listed my May Scarf Pattern of the Month on Etsy.  It's named after a town in France, since it's sort of a French-girl scarf.  The feedback has been positive so far, including from our friends at Knitting Fever, who manufacture and distribute Sublime Yarns:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/100391299/lille-scarf-knitting-pattern

So there you go.  Today, I will be formatting June's pattern, drinking more green tea and eating bits of food my body can actually play with and digest (as opposed to chocolate sugar cookies, which was what my diet mostly consisted of yesterday), and maybe clip a coupon or two and save some cash at the grocery store.  I should also make an effort to try and finish the sample of the June scarf, even though the pattern is done, the blocking is half done, the yarn is still gorgeous...

Or I'll take a nap.  I'm not feeling very motivated.

But hey...the bright side is that I wrote an article, I posted a pattern for sale, I got in my car and drove across the county line for cheaper sales tax on hot water, and I have short-term ambition.  Maybe today will be lovely after all!

And finally, for those of you who  missed the photo of Bluto proving he is the most useless of all pit bulls, completely incapable of mauling joggers even if they were wearing Lady Gaga's meat dress, here is the proof.  By the way, we just looked over and saw him this way...it's not as if we staged the pillows on him:


Have a good day!  Make like Bluto.  Pile yourself between a bunch of pillows as if you are the creme filling of an Oreo cookie.