Category Archives: Online Teaching

March Madness

This has been the busiest late Winter of my life, the craziest March so far, and I’m not seeing any signs that Spring will be any less of a Payday bar than the rest of the year (payday = nutty? Get it?)

Entrelac On A Bike

Entrelac In My Blue Tulip Bike Pannier Bag

I’m tired. Mentally I’m tired, and physically I’m just now catching up on rest I missed in January and February.

I can sometimes ‘create’ energy for myself by exercising wisely. For me that means Yoga (when I can get my sorry butt into downward facing dog) or cycling (which I’ve been able to do quite a bit this week – YAY for a warm spell in MN!)

I’ve learned, though, that with an energy-draining condition like fibromyalgia it is difficult to catch up on rest and impossible to store it up for hard times ahead. I can only try to build up my stamina. Ride, fat girl, ride!

However, the excellent thing about working on one’s own business is that hours are fluid. Except for scheduled events like teaching engagements and fiber shows (of which I’ve had many this Winter) I can choose to rest when I need to, and work when my body is rested.

This works well for me as far as dyeing goes – I get up early and dye while I have physical strength.  Then as the day passes and my body becomes tired, and pain sets in, I withdraw to the most comfortable chair in the house and get ‘paperwork’ – computer stuff, pattern writing, emails, etc. – done.

The work I do is hard, physically and mentally, but I’m so fortunate that I’m able to compartmentalize it and work on each piece with the best part of my working self.

The Nut of an Idea

The Nut of an Idea

Right now I’m working on two new online classes for Interweave Press, Knitting With Wire and Charted Entrelac. They’re two of my favorite classes, two techniques that I return to over and over when I just want to unwind with some FUN knitting, and I’m excited to be able to offer them as online classes.

This means, however, a butt load (technical term) of previously unplanned work before Yarn Fest in Colorado April 14-16 (we’ll be recording the classes the day before Yarn Fest opens)

Step Outs for Entrelac

Step Outs for Entrelac, worked in ModeWerk Bulky

There is a lot of planning, writing scripts, and working up “Step Outs” (step by step samples of the project to be covered in the class)

I enjoy this kind of work. It’s perfect for a Virgo, a chance to try to organize what could be a chaotic TV shoot into comprehensible steps.

Today is devoted to step outs and script writing and physical resting.

Tomorrow, the world!

Attention West Coast Knitters!

“Not much meat on her, but what’s there is choice.”
– Spencer Tracy, Pat & Mike

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not teaching a LOT these days, but the teaching I’m doing is CHOICE!

I’m picking my venues carefully, and with an eye to my energy levels and the quality of the entire event.

I’ll be at Interweave Knit Lab once again, and I’m proud and thrilled to be there!

The dates are Oct 31 – Nov 4, and this will be the last time for a few of my classes (I’m working up new ones and plan to take some of my older classes out of rotation…)

You can click here, or on the small calendar to the right for more information on specific class times, descriptions and dates, but suffice to say that I find the Interweave Knit Lab to be an amazing place for a knitter to grow their skill set!

For those of you who can’t make it to San Francisco, I have some great classes up at my own online classroom,, and I have a few classes up at Udemy (see the list to the right).

More are on the way, as with everything else it’s a question of time and energy!

Comparisons, Joy & Jealousy

I read a comment recently that “Comparison is a Joy Killer” and I agree.

I spend way too much time comparing my growth as a designer, my abilities, my time, etc., to other folks, and I expect that all of us do that to some extent. Since childhood my most fervent wish (prayer at times) has been that I don’t fall short of others.

I came to the conclusion that the only cure for this was to try – and succeed – to drown out the loud sounds of the comparisons.

My own personal ‘voice of comparison’ sounds a lot like my Aunt Lorraine, a truly sad woman who found joy only when others were sadder than she.

Twitter, Facebook and social median can be hard for this reason – I’m constantly reading about other folks doing great things. And I’m happy for them, and send along my “Go you!” and “Congrats!” messages whenever I can.

I realize that my natterings about my own successes can be causing the same grief, so I try to keep them circumspect and not too braggy. We all deserve our moments in the sun, and we shouldn’t hide who we are and what we’ve accomplished. But we also have to be aware of our luck, good fortune and the fact that the sun may not be shining in someone else’s yard today.

So that’s my job – perhaps for this week, this year or the rest of my life – to celebrate ALL successes, without falling victim to a comparison trap. It’s a game no one can win. Maybe I’ll just run away and join a carnival.

My dad briefly ran a carnival after WWII. My dad did a lot of things, few of them entirely sober. I think he was, in no small part, escaping the judgement of his sister – the aforementioned Lorraine.

There’s been a recent spate of questions posed to me, in person, via email or on Twitter, about how folks can find my Craftsy classes.

I don’t have any.

Stefanie Japel is a designer I admire, and a personal friend. When she started with Craftsy she asked our design group (Stitch Coop) if anyone would be interested in submitting a class, but I had too many other irons in the fire and begged off.

Later they asked me again, and after some negotiation on a topic at TNNA last year, we decided on an intarsia class (not my first choice, I wanted to do a plaid knitting class…)

The first producer assigned to me was very nice, and dealt with my oddities (I can’t speak – or rather, hear – clearly on the phone. I get confused very easily when someone calls me, especially if I don’t know their phone voice – I’m in the process of acquiring hearing aids, which is just – odd.)

But then my producer was changed and the new producer had no patience with my lack of phone ability, and with lightening speed (or so it seemed to me) I received this email, which broke my heart a little.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 10.15.38 AM

So, the answer is that Craftsy won’t have me.

It makes me sad, and the week after I received this email I flew out to Denver to shoot a video for Interweave on Double Knitting (which has been doing really well in sales – yay!) That was a bit of a boost to my bruised ego.

My own online classes continue to do very well, although I’d love to re-shoot them soon with a higher resolution camera so they’re better to watch. A project for future! And I’m in the process of offering some classes via Udemy (right now I have a free how-to-knit class up at their website)

So when I see all of the news about Craftsy, the classes my friends are teaching, the Twitter and Facebook posts, I’m both very happy for my friends whose classes are doing well, and very sad that I’m not in their ranks.

I’d hesitated to blog openly about this, but so many questions have come to me (“Why can’t I take a class from you at Craftsy?” is the most popular query) that I thought I should try to explain. I hope I’ve been fair in my post!

And you’re always welcome to contact craftsy directly to let them know if you would like to take a class from me via their website.

I don’t honestly think it would make any difference, but it would have more of an effect than writing to me to tell me “You should teach a Craftsy class.!”


Busy is Good, Right?

Jared Flood's "Shelter" for a Spencer

Sometimes it feels like the world is a metaphorical maze, and I’m running at such a high speed that I can’t help but hit a wall at every turn.

Run, run, run, [screeech! Thump!] Run, run, run, [screeech! THUMP!]

Louet "Euroflax" for an Apron

This time it corresponds with the finishing week of a class Gerry’s taking.  He’s been working on classes at St. Paul college through a program that allows disabled folks to take courses to get them back into the working world, in a less physically stressful job than they previously had.

Madeline Tosh "Tosh Sock" for Mitts

Since Gerry can’t do TV production (well, not like he USED to) he’d love to move into more web/computer video stuff.  So he’s finishing up a class in Dreamweaver, and he’s feeling a bit in over his head.

He’s nuts and frustrated and overwhelmed; I keep running into walls, so neither of us is much help to each other.  It’s like a slightly snarky sitcom with very little house cleaning happening.

Handmaiden "Double Sea" for a Tank Top

Right now I’m finishing up 2 projects for The Knitter (a GREAT British knitting magazine), 3 pieces for Interweave’s Jane Austen Knits, a sweater for Knitting Today (on size 5 needles, with a TON of lace & cables & ruffles – but it’s pretty!) and a sweater for the Aussie knitting mag YARN (that’s not due until Sept – HUGE sigh!)

Add to that tech edits for HoTN, pieces for a new pattern booklet and various other projects due sooner than I’d like.

AND I’M TEACHING!  I’m setting off in a few weeks to drive through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa to teach at various lovely yarn shops, guilds and libraries!  A full list (with contact and registration info) is available at my Upcoming Gigs page – check it out!

Debbie Bliss "Fez" for a Poncho

But it’s May – my favorite month of the year (next to October) and I’m moving quickly and well.  It’s stunning how more sunlight and the ability to ride my bike on a daily basis help my pain, confusion and other fibro symptoms abate.

All of this work is why I haven’t been blogging quite so much, I’m keeping my head down and knitting like a maniac, and I feel oddly calm that everything will work out beautifully.

Kitchen Sink Dyeworks "Eco DK" for a Pullover

Working in an assembly line fashion compels me to be more measured about keeping track of each step of the project, keeping good numbers and creating and updating the spreadsheets as I work.

Coats "Down To Earth Cotton" for a Fitted Top

This is the way I love to work.  I am at heart a Virgo, a Methodist, and someone who likes my path well marked.  This is both my greatest joy and my deepest frustration.

The laziness of freedom (or the freedom of laziness) sometimes keeps me from working as smart as I should, but with all of these due dates coming up so quickly, I don’t have the luxury of slothfulness.  I’m lucky!

I can’t show finished items because they’re all editorial, but I CAN show some of the lovely yarns that I’m using right now.  Enjoy!

While I’m Otherwise Occupied

I’m working through a few rather large projects right now, two of which will be discussed further along this week.

What I CAN tell you right now is that if you’re interested in my new ONLINE KNITTING MILLINERY CLASS, and are one of the first 50 folks to sign up, I’ll send you a FREE copy of the new, revised Knitting Millinery (a $15 value)

Knitting Millinery Class
Add to Cart

The class will be self guided, meaning you will be on your own to work through the videos, handouts and syllabus in the class.  However, I WILL be available for online chats (privately or in a group if more than one person wants to chat at the same time) and I’m ALWAYS available via email for questions and assistance.

As a bit of a come on, here’s a video I’m putting together for the Knitting Millinery Class.

Note: There’s nothing whatsoever about CREATING hats in this video, it’s just a look at some hats through history, to set the tone and get the juices flowing for folks who sign up.  It’s only partially finished, but it will give you a taste of the exposition portion of the class.

Cooling Down

I may be the only human being in Minnesota who’s too hot today.  I’ve been sitting all day with the window open, I swear if I went outside I’d melt the new snow off the sidewalk.

I have fever, baby!

This is something that comes on sometimes, now I understand that it’s part of the fibro, but for the longest time I just figured I had malaria.  Mid afternoon or so I start to get very hot, and by 7pm you could fry an egg on my shoulders.  Which sounds oddly cooling and delicious to me right now.

So today’s been my ‘sending out my email newsletter’ day, paying the mortgage day, and just tying up loose ends day.

Spencer & A Birdcage

Jane Austen…

This past week I sent in my submissions for Jane Austen Knits, a special edition of Interweave Knits.

You can probably imagine how excited I am to see this issue!  I’m even more excited and hopeful that I’ll get a piece into it, I’m crossing my fingers.  After all, this is my great love, this knitting-in-a-historical-style thing, and I’ve enjoyed creating these submissions more than should be allowed.

Over Christmas I signed us up for Netflix and I’ve watched EVERY period drama on my computer as I work through these designs.  Very inspiring!

I’ve also been using pinterest to keep track of the research for this project (and several others) and have found it to be a VERY exciting way to easily keep track of great visuals I find online.

More Designing!

Staying home, not teaching so much, has been good for the design and writing end of my workload.  I’m swatching a lot more, getting more sedentary work done and feeling good about where HoTN is right now.  That’ll last for a few days, at least

Max with a Bagel & Talit!

And I’m slowly moving my website,, to a wordpress powered site.  It will be glitchy for a while as I work the kinks out, but ultimately it will be better looking and easier to update.  Finally I’ll update my portfolio, and get some things done that have been hanging over my head for a while.

One pattern I’d like to get up soon is the very simple one for Max’s Tallit & Kipot which I made for his Bar mitzvah.  I’d love to get that up in the next week or so, we’ll see how that goes!

More Teaching?

I’d like to teach more, though.  Right now I’m very glad that I’ve decided not to teach or travel in the winter months, but I need to begin setting up some engagements for the Summer.  If you know of a group or shop who would like to host me, please let me know!  I get my best leads from folks who read my blog or have taken a class with me.

I’m toying with the idea of having a small knitting retreat over Labor Day, my 50th birthday, here in MN.  I’m working out the plan to see if it’s feasible, but if it is it would be stellar!  I can move easily in the warm September, and I’d be close to home (yay!)  I’ll keep details posted on my blog and website about this, it’s mostly a matter of finding a location that will work well for a wonderful teaching & learning experience.

Imperial Ranch Poncho 1

Imperial Ranch Poncho

More Online…

I’m preparing two classes to start in March, Knitting Millinery and New Directions In Color.

Both classes will be self guided – meaning the students can move at their own pace and I’ll be available for one-0n-one chats as the students need them.  I’ve found this has been the best setup for the classes, as so many folks couldn’t make the group chats and then felt awkward about asking me for a private chat.

And some folks just don’t need the chat – they love working on their own, finding their way through the material, which is just great!  Whatever works best for any given student is what works best for me!

There’s been an amazing response to my Imperial Plaid Poncho, which I will use in my new Online Colorwork Class to demonstrate some unusual but inspiring techniques to get anyone comfortable with working with several different colors of yarn.  Aside from acquiring the pattern from the Imperial Yarn Company, this will be the only chance folks will have to get this pattern until I’m allowed to sell it next Christmas.

Silence is Golden!

I’ve been very quiet, but it’s because I’ve been working on a few various projects and have been nursing the tail end of a cold.  So here’s what I’ve been doing, for you lovely, patient folks!

MN Knitters Guild

Last night I gave a short talk at the Minnesota Knitters Guild about Standardization And Fashion History – or “Why I want to dress you like an Minoan” It went really well, it was very enjoyable (well, for me at least!) and folks laughed!

I had a chance to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and folks who had fallen off of my radar.  THANK YOU MN KNITTING GUILD for hosting me!

As part of my talk I discussed where I am with History on Two Needles and played a short movie that I’d made to show some of my research and back-work.  Here it is, for your eddification:

My projects thus far, some of the pitfalls, and some of the triumphs. No words, just images and music.

Plaid & Cables


I wanted to participate in Shannon Okey’s NaKniSweMo, so this year the planets were finally in alignment and I had a nice-sized project to jump in with.

I’ve just finished this lovely poncho for Imperial Ranch Yarns, I was inspired by their very colorful yarns and wanted to make a BIG piece of fabric.  Two, actually.

So I put them together in the time honored 2 Rectangle Poncho and added a bit of fringe.  I hope you like the colors – they’re pretty out there.  I like to think of this as my “Mondo Period”


The cable rectangle references the vertical strips in the plaid, with the yellow carried up into the cable.  I think this creates a through-line that makes the disparate sections make sense.  Between the cables are tiny eyelets creating a vine lace pattern that mirrors the cable movement.

Plaid Detail & Fringe!

The plaid is one of my favorites, a slip-stitch technique that I teach in my colorwork classes.   It’s not difficult, but it is complex.

Complex and difficult are two different things.  Complex can be broken down into a set of simple actions, and that’s exactly what this technique is.

I won’t say it’s easy, but I will say that even a very new knitter can get it by following the simple steps.

New Classes

I’m currently working this plaid technique up as part of an online colorwork class, and if all goes well I hope to have it ready to go live by December, or January at the latest.  I also hope to have a millinery (hat making) workshop ready to go at that point, too!

The Universal Mitered Bag

Until that time, my current Big 4 Class Roundup [Combination Knitting, Lace Bootcamp, Twisted Float Shrug, Universal Mitered Handbag] are up and running in my NEW classroom space – – and it’s going beautifully! 

Remember, you can easily access any of my online class information by visiting Tell your friends!

By the way, since the classes are ongoing with no specified start date, you can begin at ANY TIME!

That Universal Mitered Bag would sure make a terrific holiday gift for someone. Just sayin’
Hey, you know what else would make a good gift?  A class. Just sayin’

In Math We Trust

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