Category Archives: Current Projects

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?

Garden Spot of Alberta!

A lovely gift from a student!

A lovely gift from a student!

So, until I was approached by Olds College, I wasn’t aware of Olds Fiber Week.

I feel silly – after all, I should know about these things – but there it is.

And boy, I’d been missing a lovely week of fiber fun!

The Olds Fiber Week is small, not a huge extravaganza, but the folks here are PASSIONATE about spinning, weaving, dyeing and – perhaps with a foot in the door this year – knitting (?)!

Ground Transportation from Calgary Airport

Transportation from Airport

I taught three full day classes, I was able to get deep into the topics (always delightful) and my students were SO wonderful! Excited, unfailingly pleasant and polite (a highly underrated skill set) and hard working.

Well, they were Canadians, so that goes without saying.

A happy student & her mini Kraken

Student & Mini Krakken

The staff of the show is all new this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups (which EVERY event has) they did a really wonderful job of allowing the students to enjoy their week of fiber fun with very little worry about the change in show management.  Everyone worked SO hard, and the hard work paid off in very happy students.

Olds Pergola

Olds Pergola

Olds Irises

Olds Irises

The show is held at Olds College, in Olds, Alberta (about an hour north of Calgary) and I was totally unprepared for how beautiful the campus would be.  It’s essentially an agricultural and animal science school, lots of equine information and farm courses available, and the gardens throughout the campus reflect a commitment to healthy, beautiful botanical specimens.

The walk from my rooms to my classes was a LONG one, and because of various external triggers (temperature, exhaustion) my fibro has really flared up this week. I’m ashamed of how hobbly I look as I meander back and forth, but if one has to walk slowly, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll!

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

Tomorrow I fly back to St. Paul, which is about a month ahead of the plants here.  It’s been wonderful to experience tulips and lilacs again (they’re finished in late May back home) but I’m pining to see my husband, my pooch and my own not-very-exciting garden back home!

The kids are at their various camps; Andy’s canoeing in the Canadian Arctic, Max is attending Debate Camp at Augsburg in Minneapolis, so when I get home Gerry and I will be temporarily child free!

Writing Less, Dyeing More!

It may seem to those of you who read my blog that I’ve been abducted by aliens, biked off a cliff, or lost the use of my fingers.

None of those are true, but I HAVE been abducted by a dye pot!

ModeKnit Yarn is doing extremely well – we’re having a hard time keeping up with demand (getting easier every day as we figure this thing out) and we’re planning for our next big show in Illinois (the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair)

New colors, new inspirations and ESPECIALLY new ways of dyeing yarn is on the horizon. We hesitate to offer the newest items online because my personal preference is to only sell things online that I know I can duplicate (for future, follow-up orders)  So in order to see our latest colors and dye methods, catch us at the fiber shows.

To see a list of ModeKnit Yarn fiber shows, and where I’ll be teaching, click here.

BOOK

This weekend will be the final photography for my newest book (due out Spring 2015 with Stackpole Books) and I’m finishing up the patterns. It’s been a VERY fun book to work on, all of the pieces are small items, boleros & armery pieces and head-wrap/scarf types of things.

Once that is out the door I’ll have MUCH more time to devote to developing pattern support (and having samples knitted) for ModeKnit Yarn. There are SO many ideas I have, I cannot wait to share them with you as this Summer stretches out before us!

ModeKnit FLOW

Some of our earliest Semi Precious colors, as interpreted in FLOW

Our earliest Semi Precious colors in FLOW

We’ve been toying with methods to create long gradient color changes, and I believe we’ve hit on an excellent method.

You’ll be able to read more about this over at the ModeKnit Yarn Site as the colors are available online (as noted above, before I offer them online I want to make certain I can reproduce them faithfully and in quantity)

But here’s a taste of what I’m dyeing up these days! That’s Spessartine, Lazurite, Mercury, Tanzanite & Ametrine, all anxious to be knit up!

Health

I think I’ve figured something out, and I’m a bit chagrined that it’s taken me so long to come to the following conclusion; my fibro is strongly affected by synthetic sweeteners.

This Spring Vickie Howell expressed surprise when she saw me drinking a diet coke. Her own mom has Fibromyalgia, and the aspartame in DC is a trigger for her flare ups.

I laughed it off, saying I’d never noticed a connection. And I took a long sip of my Diet Coke.

The truth is, the only time I generally drink Diet Coke is when I’m traveling, on the road, and there are so many variables that when I have a flareup while I’m on a trip I hadn’t put two and two together.

When I’m home I drink water (a LOT of it) and unsweetened tea (hot and cold).  I generally don’t add sweetener to anything (when I do have sweetened foods, it’s a cake I’ve baked myself or a piece of candy, not drinks.)

But this weekend was Andy (Hannah’s) graduation party, and we’d stocked up on Diet Coke for the festivities. It was also, coincidentally, one of the worst flare ups I’ve had in almost 3 years.  As I was lying in bed for the 2nd straight day, not able to do much besides write in agony and play 2048 (damn you, Adina, I will best you yet!) I was befuddled as to what was the cause of this latest flare. And I sipped another Diet Coke.

Was it the pressure of finishing a book, the stress of having in-laws visit and Andy’s graduation? The financial working-out of paying for college? The party? The work of dyeing? The fact I hadn’t been for a bike ride in over a week? I couldn’t put it together.

http://easycooking4one.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/aspartame_artificia.jpgAs soon as I was feeling slightly better I went out for a long ride. Only instead of my regular water I took some vitamin water in my bottle, not realizing it was sweetened with a non-sugar substitute. The effect was immediate.

I rode 19 miles, but I felt like hell by the time I got home. That’s NEVER happened to me—the bike is where I go to escape flare ups!

And then it hit me. The common factor in both my major flare up, and my mini one on the bike was the imitation sweetener.

So I’m off the aspartame. I only wish I’d listened more clearly to Vickie when she suggested the cause/effect her mother experienced! I’ll keep track of how I’m feeling, and I’m hopeful that this will make travel a bit easier, too (no more on-the-road diet cokes!)

Archer Mitts

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

If you get my newsletter, you received a link for the Archer Mitts last week.

If not, here’s your link now!

They’re fun mitts, and — unusually for a free pattern — this involves techniques that are a bit beyond basic.

Provisional cast on? ICord Bind Off? Short Rows? Grafting? Creating a Thumb Gusset?

These are all techniques that you can try out with this simple pattern. Note that I said SIMPLE, which is not the same thing as EASY!

IMG_0810I’ve fallen in love with mitts; they’re not just fun to knit, they’re warm and allow full movement for your fingers. These are worked up in ModeLuxe, but to be honest you can use any worsted weight yarn (although ModeLuxe IS killer soft and delicious to knit up…)

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been dyeing up HUGE amounts of yarn, it’s selling like crazy, and I have more yarn waiting for me at home to dye up when I get back.

IMG_2406Where am I? I’m in Cleveland, preparing to tape a few segments of Knitting Daily TV tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing old friends!

I’m excited, but this evening is devoted to sitting still so my nail polish can dry, and figuring new ways to suck in my chins.

And now, MORE pictures of the lovely Archer Mitts (I can see Daryl wearing these during one of these Georgia snowstorms, right?)

The Rush, The Crash

Perhaps starting a new yarn company immediately before a busy holiday season wasn’t the brightest of ideas, but it wasn’t a bad one, either!

We were crazy busy, we sold out; more yarn arrived, I dyed it, now it is in the store.

That one simple sentence contains so much joy, fear, hope and hard work. It seems it should be a full paragraph, but one sentence will do!

$5.50 Flat Rate US Shipping / $15.50 Flat Rate Int’l Shipping

We’ve heard from some of you that shipping costs can be a deterrent, and we really want to get our beautiful yarn into your hot little hands, so we’re offering flat rate shipping on all orders!  No matter how much you order, you’ll only pay $5.50 for a US Domestic package, $15.50 for an International package of our fine yarns!

Etsy Shop

We’re trying new stuff, hopefully in a seamless way which will not cause undue stress for our customers!  Up to now we’ve had a gallery setup on our WordPress page allowing folks to buy our yarn directly from the ModeKnit Yarn website. I’m trying something new with the ModeSock yarn – an Etsy shop!

If you click on any of the ModeSock links on this site, they will take you to our Etsy shop where you can purchase our sock yarn using their shopping cart system.  The reason is to create a better way to manage our inventory and reach a broader audience – stay tuned, we’ll see if this works well, or if it’s not as helpful as I hope!  I’d love to hear your feedback on the ease of using the Etsy storefront vs. the Paypal shopping cart we’ve been using on our site!

The Biz

Kathleen and I are feeling very good about the colors, our Marketing Department (Kathleen) has been meeting with the Purchasing and Shipping departments (Kathleen, Kathleen) to devise advertising strategies that will work for us.  While Research & Development (Annie) has been coming up with some AMAZING ideas for cool colorways that our Finance Department (Kathleen) and Accounting (Annie) hope will sell out like crazy!  All of this is keeping the Production Department (Annie) on their toes.

Designer Life

…meanwhile, back in design land, I’m sending off some finished garments to magazines this week, working up some new designs for the book, and have ideas for several projects using ModeKnit Yarn which I hope will send it spinning off of the shelves and into mailboxes across the US (and THE WORLD! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!)

MORE YARN!

We’re ordered, and we’re currently awaiting, MANY more kilos of beautiful undyed ModeSock and ModeLuxe for dyeing and loving!

If all goes well, it should be here mid-next week, and be up and for sale in our store by next weekend! Our first order of business; create the ModeLuxe in the colors of the Slippy Cowl so we can fulfill the wishes of the folks who want to make that same item!

Second order of business; knit a few samples in other colors so folks can easily envision different color combinations!

This downtime is perfect for upgrading the website (now each different yarn will be accessible through drop down menus under “ModeKnit Yarn” – try it!) and soon we’ll have different selectable menus for different colorways.

Right now we only show images of yarns that are immediately available, but we have to think of ways to show all the colors AND whether they’re available in an easy to update way.

I’m using a WordPress plug in called “Catablog” – which has much more power than I’m currently using – so the time is right to figure out how to use all that extra database goodness!

AND it’s a perfect time to get some projects for other books / magazines finished, and to begin sourcing yarn for my boleros & shrugs book! If you know of an indy yarn that you really like, I’m trying to use as many indy dyers in the book, and I’m always on the lookout for great new yarn sources!

IMG_0482I’m hopeful that all of you had a MAGNIFICENT holiday, and will continue on through next week (and BEYOND!) to celebrate the light and warmth that we can create in our own lives when it’s so dark outside!

And in that spirit, I’d love to give you a wonderful Crescent Cookie recipe, gf_crescent_cookies.

I’ve made this gluten free, but it’s incredibly easy to just trade out the GF Baking mix for the flour of your choice!

I’m afraid it’s very nut heavy, but has no eggs! It is rich (buttery) but has little sugar.

This is the cookie that always makes me think it’s Christmas!

Bum-bum-bummble Bee!

bumble bee jasper modesockIf you’re of a certain age and grew up on the East coast, then you know the Bumble Bee Tuna song.

I, myself, grew up in the Midwest (well, Ohio) and didn’t learn the song until I moved to NY in 1982 and friends would sing it whenever we made tuna sandwiches. Yes, I have always hung out with the wildest folk.

The song is IN MY HEAD like a – well, like a bumble bee – and it’s because I just worked up THIS colorway:

I like the golden yellow, the greenish overtone and the unexpected black that shoots through it.

We’re naming it BUMBLEBEE JASPER (which is really a thing) and it’s the newest color in our growing panoply of hues!

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 1.56.57 PMWhen I work up the colors I go one of three ways:

Semi Solid – A color which is pretty much just one hue in various degrees of saturation, lightness and darkness.

Color Blend – Two hues which are blended after the initial dyeing process, but to such an extent that it’s hard to tell where one color begins and the other ends.

Color Block – Three or more hues which are worked together after the initial dyeing process to produce a choppy, blocky color.

Sometimes it’s hard to determine if a color is a blend or a block, but Bumblebee Jasper is definitely a Color Block.

And now it’s up for sale in our store!  But it won’t be there long if it’s like our other colorways!

BUTTON FRUSTRATION

I apologize to anyone who’s tried to add one of our yarns to the cart and got a bad response. The truth is, the code for the buttons is crazy sensitive (and I’ve discovered that when used together with a lightbox plug in I really like it’s easy to screw it up)

From this point on I’ll be testing every button on a regular basis, but please let me know if you run into any problems ordering from our Modeknit Yarn online shop!

KEEPING UP WITH MODEKNIT YARN

Live Sales: We’re putting together a list of fiber shows we’re hoping to visit in 2014 with our yarns, if you know of one we should consider, please let us know!

If you want to stay up to date on our plans for selling our yarn live (at shows or in yarn shops) sign up for my e-newsletter for the latest news about that!

If you want to hear about our newest colors or latest batch of fresh yarns ready for purchase, follow me on Twitter or like our Facebook page and watch for the messages which start, “COLOR UP!” – that means something really good has just come out of the dyepot and it’s ready to purchase!

If you’re interested in our color inspirations, we have a board at Pinterest where colors that have passed the “can we actually DYE something that looks like this?” test are kept. All colors there may not be yarns yet, but we can always hope!

Preparing For Our First Dye Day

My basement dye 'studio'

My basement dye ‘studio’

After testing many colors and working hard to achieve a certain uniformity in color and depth, it’s time to move over to a large dye area for a day of FULL SKEIN dyeing!

My basement work area is pretty nice, it has all that we need (water, electric, microwave, a bit of space & a heater – very important in Minnesota in the Winter)

Plus it’s where my office is (in a separate room with a cat/dog/child proof locking door!)

The Yarn ARRIVES!

The Yarn ARRIVES!

Yarn arrived just before Thanksgiving, and it’s being skeined up as I write (well, I had to stop rolling skeins to blog, but I’ll begin twirling that swift as soon as I’ve posted this!)

As I’ve worked up colors I knit them because, to my mind, I can’t really tell what a color’s going to do until I see it knit up. Yarn can look remarkable on the skein, but then go a bit dead when knitted if there isn’t the right kind of depth.

I tend to be annoyingly organized so I’ve developed a database to keep track of how much dye I’m using for each swatch and how I’m working it into the yarn. That way when I wander onto a perfect combination, I’m be able to recreate it. Well, that’s the idea.

I’ve been working on dyeing some full sized skeins with mixed results. Some are tremendous, and some have fallen a bit flat (increasing dye amounts appropriately and ‘reading’ yarns in the dyepot to get an idea of their final colors are skills I am developing…)

I really want to be able to achieve a uniformity so we can market our colors as colorways, not just as ‘one-offs.’ Here are a few of my successes – I’m happy with the distribution of the colors and the depth.

I need to take some of the sample yarns to work into design samples so we can create some nice kits, that’s my job this afternoon while I’m waiting at the dentist office (and afterward, when I know I’ll be out of commission for the evening!)

Wednesday Kathleen returns from a week visiting family in Florida, it will be great to see her again! We’ll be packing everything up and heading off to a dye studio for a day of dyeing on Thursday. I’m thinking we’ll do red tones in the morning, blue/green tones in the afternoon, and we’ll see how that pans out! I can’t lie, I’m very nervous.

Even though I’ve had my own business for 12+ years, it’s been a sole proprietorship so I didn’t have to worry about vendors, etc. Because this is a larger undertaking, we’ve moved on to Quick Books so we’ll be investigating the ins and outs of that for keeping track of our expenses, inventory and (hopefully) profits.

So while I wait for my visit to the dentist today, I’ll try inputting our receipts for yarn, dye and supply purchases. I know how to make a day fun, don’t I?

New Horizons

First Batch of Colors

First Batch of Colors

I’ve been insanely excited for the past month(s) because I’m embarking on a new endeavor with a partner, and I can’t hold it in any longer!

IMG_0203We’re starting an independent yarn dyeing business!

I know, us and 450 other folks this week…

Why? As I have come to love so many independently produced yarns (and their dyers) I felt like there were holes in the market I’d like to try to fill – colors I have been searching for, but haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

And I love yarn, and color, and I love dyeing things.

And, most important, I’m continuously looking for ways to stay at home more, yet keep our household in the black.

Dyeing was my favorite part of grad school (hours over a hot dyevat, mmmm) Recently while working on some preliminary colors for ModeKnit Yarns I found myself going to sleep with the smell of dye on my hands and a big smile on my face.

IMG_0188Rubber gloves will help diminish the former,
real life will probably take care of the latter;
but a girl can dream!

My partner is Kathleen Pascuzzi, a phenomenal person who has business expertise that I lack. We’re in the process of doing all of the legal stuff, being adult about this, but our goal is to have some skeins available for purchase by the end of the year. We intend to take it slow, with a ‘soft start’, and move on from there.

IMG_0126We’re aiming for an initial palette of 10 colorways, grouped in 5 sets of 2 and available as kits for my Morse Cowl (a yet unreleased pattern, but you’ll love it, trust me!) 

Our inspiration for our colors are gemstones and semi precious minerals. Kathleen was the manager of a retail jewelry store for 17 years (I told you she had business savvy) and her great eye is immensely helpful!

I’ll still be designing – probably more than I currently am – but I’m hopeful that along with creating patterns that sell yarn for other companies, now I’ll be creating some patterns that will sell some of OUR fine yarn!

This end of the business is new to me, so I’ll be blogging about our journey in the coming weeks as we get our initial orders ready and begin our marketing – stay tuned!

Colors, Round 2

Colors, Round 2

Book Giveaway

The winner of the book, Crochet At Play, is ShellyD.  She’s been notified, and she’ll be receiving the book from the publisher.  Thanks so much for playing along!

Crochet At Play! Book Giveaway!

I have a great book giveaway, just in time to work up some fun items for your favorite Hannukah child (or any kind of holiday child!) Or for any kid for any reason!

The book is crochet_at_playCrochet At Play by Kat Goldin.

Her stated goal in writing the book was to “keep the fun-factor at the forefront of my mind.”

She strives to make the items in the book fun to make, fun to wear and fun to see.

I think for the most part she’s succeeded quite well, there are many items I would have loved to have worked up for my own kids when they were smaller!

Among my favorite pieces in the book are the whimsical ‘useful’ items, the sorts of thing that can be worn every day, but with a cute little twist.

I LOVE the Hedgehog Mittens – so adorable that a child might actually keep an eye on them and not lose one! They’re clever, simple, and absolutely delightful!

hedgehog_mittens

mermaidAnother delicious item is the Mermaid, which is so silly but so fun that I’m afraid I’ll be making them for new babies in my life for years to come!

I especially love the concerned look on the baby’s face in the picture, “Hello… I believe the tide is coming in!”

Kids grow up way too fast. This book will help a parent, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend enjoy many moments of magic in their young lives.

The how-to crochet section is clear, the instructions are well laid out and the models are absolutely adorable.

The projects run from rather easy to slightly challenging, I didn’t see anything that a committed and passionate new crocheter couldn’t tackle (some with a bit more effort than others!)

Another lovely piece is the Leafy Cape.  I can easily see someone working this up for a new baby, it could easily double as a favorite blanket until the child is old enough to run around the house in it!

leafy_capeSo are you enchanted?

Would you like a copy of Crochet At Play?

Simply leave a comment below telling me the MOST FUN ITEM you ever crocheted or knit. It doesn’t have to have been for a child, just something that was a blast to work up, something you thoroughly enjoyed!

Double Vision

I’ve had a lot of press lately with many items showing up in various magazines and books, which is always terrific!

I wanted to mention two sweaters I’ve recently done which have more than a passing resemblance!

2018.Dreamcatcher-Cardigan

Dream Catcher, Interweave Knits Winter 2013

My Dream Catcher Cardigan in the Winter 2013 Interweave Knits is getting a lot of attention – it’s a really fun knit, and it’s worked up in a chunky yarn (Brown Sheep Shepherd Shades) and it looks a lot like my Rose Window cardigan I’m currently tech editing and test knitting for release next year in my Stained Glass Knits collection.

Rose Window

Rose Window

Rose Window was actually the original inspiration for Dreamcatcher, but aside from a similar center back motif, the differences in the garments are greater than their similarities.

The shaping is different (Rose Window uses short row shaping to create an oval body) and the sleeves are worked differently (Dreamcatcher is straight garter, Rose Window sleeves are mitered)

But the largest difference is the yarn choice – Bulky for one sweater, worsted for the other, with all of the associated pattern writing differences.

I don’t really think of these as the same sweater, but as the same shape used in two different sweaters – rather like two Lopi sweaters with similar yokes, but which are entirely different garments.

I wanted to mention this here because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m trying to slip anything by the knitting world! These are similar styles, but very different garments! This is something a lot of designers struggle with, I know I do! We come up with a unique shape that we love, we want to see it worked up in many different ways, but we want to be original, too!

The basis for these designs has become so much a part of my ‘design language’ that I will probably use it again. Maybe not in the near future, though!