Week One of #HomeSaleFixUp Down!

It’s been a crazy, busy week; on alternative days I’ve been dyeing buttloads of yarn, skeining yarn, knitting up yards and yards of fabric AND scraping, spackling, painting and cleaning up the house, room by room, to ready it for sale.

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

When I look back and the work I did this week, I’m astounded.  It did NOT feel like that much, which makes me so relieved because I was terrified that I’d be so exhausted and pain wracked that I wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING.

As I wrote in my last blog post, I think my return to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has been an extremely positive change in my life, and I DO understand that this isn’t the route that is right for everyone! It works for me, though, and I feel like a new person!

Wulfentine Flow

Wulfentine Flow

My goal this week is to finish Max’s room (I left it half-finished on Wednesday to work on the hallway and kitchen/bathroom) and to make a sizable dent on the basement dye area (I have a CRAZY cool idea for that space, which I won’t write about until I try it, to see if it works!)

And I have a dyeing goal this week of at least 80 balls of FLOW in addition to other dye finishes, we’re gearing up for our Spring/Fall shows and I remember from last year how quickly we ran out of our popular yarns (the first show!) We can’t let THAT happen again!


Lucky, Lucky Susan!

SA_GiftThe winner of Sock Architecture is SusanKnits! Congrats to Susan!!

I LOVED reading your comments, every one got me to thinking about how much I learn from other knitters.  Folks often show me their knitting shyly, with the implication that I’m a ‘professional knitter’ so I must be SO much better…

NOT SO! I’m an above average knitter, but not by much.

We each have our gifts, we each do different things well, and other things not so well. There are a LOT of things that I don’t do so well. So many, many ways to improve, all of them fun in their own way!

For me, the whole point of knitting is threefold:

  1. to spend time with something you love
  2. to love the process and the challenge
  3. to learn stuff (when you feel the time is right.)

Most of all, my mantra is:

We don’t knit to make THINGS,
We knit to make ourselves HAPPY!

So CONGRATULATIONS Susan! Enjoy your eBook, and for the rest of you – you can find the book here!

AND – I’ll be reviewing a new book in a few days, this one for the DYERS out there!

Here’s a thought… Perhaps you’ll want to share the link to this post to that person who’s been asking, “What can I get you for the holidays?”

A Sunny Day In Amsterdam

Bicycle Built for FOUR!

Bicycle Built for FOUR!

Most of the past two days has been taken with meetings and work (I can’t discuss it, plans for future… I really hate being cadgy, but if it works out you’ll all know about it!) and while I’ve been busy Gerry’s been sightseeing (and resting – love that canal boat sight-seeing!)

We’re both exhausted, but tomorrow’s going to be an “US” day and we’ll go to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I (perhaps foolishly) pooh-poohed purchasing a MuseumKart because I just didn’t see us going to so many museums.

Tulips at the Hermitage

Tulips at the Hermitage

I’d hoped to use our time together for some day trips to see the Tulips, go to Delft and visit knitting friends in Swalmen, there are just TOO MANY things to do (and at €60, the MuseumKart is a bit pricey…)

In my journey’s I visited a beautiful, well stocked yarn shop (amazing for such a small space, it blew me away!) near our digs called DeAfstap and met a lovely designer there named Hanneke Bezem who’s written a book of knitted handbags (see it on her blog!)

New Blue Tulip Bag

New Blue Tulip Bag

We also took advantage of the bikes that come with our room and rode a bit today (after a brief stop to repair Gerry’s tire and raise the seat on my bike)

I discovered a beautiful, very well made vinyl pannier bag which I snapped up, and I cannot wait to use it back home in St. Paul! It will be perfect for shopping and running errands!


We have a set of tickets for 8pm at the Anne Frank Haus. We purchased them before I realized we be away on Saturday, so we can’t use them. They’re non-refundable, but I’d love to see SOMEONE get some use out of them! If you’ll be in Amsterdam on Saturday evening and would like them, leave a comment and I’ll gift them to the first commenter who can actually USE them! (See what I mean about being foolish not to get the Museumkart?)

Business Milestones

When starting this adventure it was important for me, personally, to reach two milestones;

  1. I needed to be able to match previous colorways pretty closely. Because I’m rather organized, I keep clear notes of how I achieve each color, and so far the matching up has been pretty much on the nose from dyelot to dyelot.  There are differences, of course, but the general tone and depth of the hues is on target.
  2. I needed to be able to dye medium sized amounts quickly.  So far we’re not doing huge dyelots, no more than 900gr at a time, but I need to be able to dye several of those lots in a morning or else this business won’t be successful.  I’ve proved to myself that I can do that, and more importantly, that I can show others how to do it so we can keep the quality at the level I expect.

So, given these two milestones, we’ve changed up the way we’re offering our yarns for sale, and I think it’s VERY exciting!

Any Yarn, Any Kit, Any Time!

Instead of only offering for sale what we currently have dyed in our stock, you can now purchase any yarn in any color and if we don’t have it available we’ll dye it up for you right away and have it out within 3 days.

This allows us to offer our growing line of kits (as of today we offer TWO kits!) in ANY of the colors on our website


spinny_chullo_pink_sideAnnouncing the newest in our line of kits, the Spinny Chullo Kit!
This is in addition to our exceptionally popular Slippy Cowl Kit (now available in ANY two colors you choose!)

The observant among you will recognize this pattern as similar to my free Chullo pattern, but it’s slightly different in the number of sections in the hat and added tips and how-to hints in the Spinny pattern.



We’ve been testing a new yarn, and later this week we’ll be unveiling a wonderful yarn in two weights which is a true workhorse fiber! It’s a superwash merino with a tight twist which has amazing stitch definition, softness and amazing drape! This fiber washes and dries beautifully (making it perfect for baby and children’s clothing) and takes color like nobody’s business!


We’ll be unveiling this new yarn this week along with a TERRIFICALLY FUN adventure which you’ll want to be a part of!  Here’s a hint:



So we gave – and continue to give – our Etsy shop a try.  But in the short week that we’ve had the shop up it’s become clear to us that so many aspects of the Paypal experience (99-item dropdown menus, for example) are necessary for our own type of small business. We’re reinstating the paypal buttons on the ModeKnit Yarns website, but retaining a link to our Etsy shop for folks who like to shop there!

Well, I SAID I was a Heretic…

I recently recorded an interview with the KnottyGirls Podcast, and we had an absolutely AMAZING time! I twirled around my backyard in my Sky Chair while we talked about many things.

Chief among them was my irritating insistence on using non-traditional knitting terms. On good days my odd thoughts are the sand in the oyster shell. On bad days, they’re just poison ivy.

In the early Summer I finished a marathon session of designing, which meant a marathon session of tech edit conversations back and forth this month.  I think I must be the average tech editors worst nightmare — a designer who uses different terminology, and has (what she thinks) is a logical reason for doing so!

It’s true, I do use some unusual terminology, but not in a stubborn or non-thoughtful way.  If a publication is set on their own style, I’m happy to back down and have their terminology laid over my design.  But I feel it’s incumbent on me to mention to editors some of my reasons for using a more logic-based approach to knitting terminology.

The first thing is to divorce tradition from useful definition. I know, I know, knitting is full of tradition, and much of it is fun and cool and quirky.  I don’t want to change every oddball thing that knitters do, but I DO feel that a few well chosen technology updates could make knitting more intuitive (and thus more joyful) for every knitter!

Some folks will cling to the terminology they’ve grown up with, and that’s fine. I’m not demanding that anyone change, but be warned that when you purchase a pattern from me, I may use terminology you’re not used to (always with an explanation of the term, and how it relates to a more traditional term if necessary).

I began using these alternative terms because in my classes I realized that different knitters will achieve techniques in different ways. Most knitters are Western, some knitters are Combination, a very small number are Eastern.

Combination Knit Stitch

Combination Knit Stitch

Here’s what I mean when I mention the following two terms

Western Orientation Eastern/Combination Orientation
A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the front loop. A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the back loop.

Note: You’ll know the stitch “wants” to be knit a certain way because when the needle is inserted that way the stitch opens up big and fat and wide.

Within these basic styles are then further differentiations in how a knitter holds their yarn, their needles, and how they actually form their stitches (wrapping, picking, scooping, etc).

For the most part I find labels more divisive than helpful, although they are sometimes necessary. I prefer terminology that is universal — more democratic — and can apply to ANY knitter regardless of their chosen knitting style.

In short, I prefer to describe the outcome of a knitting technique, rather than insist that the knitter get there in a specified manner. Here are a few examples of terminology I’d love to see changed.

Traditional Term What Is Meant Alternative Term
Knit 1 Tbl (knit 1 through back loop) Twist this stitch as you knit it Tw1 or Twist 1
How To Achieve This
Basically knit so that the stitch is "unhappy" – doesn't open up fully – so that the little legs of the stitch are twisted as you enter the stitch.
If you knit Eastern or Combination knit into the front of the stitch; If you knit Western knit into the back of the stitch.

Traditional Term What Is Meant Alternative Term
K2tog (knit 2 together) Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the RIGHT K2tog-R

How To Achieve This
Insert the needle into the 2nd stitch on the LH needle; then into the 1st stitch on the LH needle and knit these two stitches together.
If you are a Western Knitter your stitches should already be seated to receive the LH needle without twisting. If you're a Combination Knitter you'll want to re-orient the stitches so they sit on the needle in the opposite direction THEN knit the stitches together.


Annie’s Hint:
The tip of the working needle will be pointing to the RIGHT when making this decrease!

Traditional Term What Is Meant Alternative Term
K2togTbl or Ssk or Skp (knit 2 tog through back loop OR slip slip knit OR slip knit pass over) Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the LEFT K2tog-L

How To Achieve This
Insert the needle into the 1st stitch on the LH needle; then into the 2nd stitch on the LH needle and knit these two stitches together.
If you are a Combination Knitter your stitches should already be seated to receive the LH needle without twisting. If you are a Western knitter you will want to slip the first two stitches (either knitwise twice; or knitwise then purlwise) and then knit these two sts together as an Ssk.



Annie’s Hint: The tip of the working needle will be pointing to the LEFT
when making this decrease!


Traditional Term What Is Meant Alternative Term
Wyif Hold the yarn toward you WyRS if the Right Side of the work is facing; WyWS if the Wrong Side of the work is facing.
Wyib Hold the yarn away from you WyWS if the Right Side of the work is facing; WyRS if the Wrong Side of the work is facing.


How To Achieve This
In some techniques (Double Knitting) you will want to hold the yarn toward you while working on the Wrong Side of the piece. This can be confusing when the term is "With Yarn in Front"; I've had many students email me with questions about this. Using the RS/WS as the point of reference seems natural and more clear.


Knitting In The Round / Knitting Garter Fabric

When Working as a Combination Knitter

When knitting in the round, or back and forth in garter, you must do one of two things:
1) Either knit through the front loop of each stitch (the tip of the working needle will point to the RIGHT as it enters the stitch) in the traditional Western Style, or
2) As you wrap each knit stitch, wrap it in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION than you normally do.  This will cause the stitch to be seated in the Combination manner in the following row/round and will set up the stitch to be entered through the back loop, in the Combination Style.

At this point I hope I haven’t confused you too much! I just want folks to THINK about their knitting logically, not be slaves to outdated or inexact terminology which makes full comprehension of complex techniques more difficult. I am the G.B. Shaw of knitspeak.


After writing this piece, inspired by some questions tech editors had for me, I discovered the reason that I’ve been receiving emails from folks trying to knit my Paisley Shawl from Jane Austen Knits.

Well, the reason was that the tech ed on this project decided they didn’t like my own chart, so they rewrote it, making significant changes that make knitting up the edging of the chart practically impossible.

If you’ve tried to knit this up and have failed,

Here is the IK Jane Austen Knits chart (changed from my original)Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 4.55.02 PM

…and here is my own chart,

annie paisley chart


Symbols aside (I never expect anyone to use my own symbols, these are just what I use when writing up the pattern to send in to the editor) there are some significant changes.  All of the ‘non stitch’ sections were removed – but these are NECESSARY to create the lace the way I designed it.

Also, the VDI’s were removed and some VDD’s were changed to K2togs.  I don’t know why, but there it is.

The faggoting between the green and blue sections won’t look the same, either, as in my chart they’re worked as a kind of lace/garter, but in the IK chart it’s St st, and thus not as sturdy and the holes will collapse easier.

Below are some of the terms I use for those of you who may not be familiar with them:

  • St st – Knit on RS, Purl on WS
  • Rev St st – Purl on RS, Knit on WS
  • Sl 1 wyRS – Slip 1 stitch with yarn held to Right Side of work
  • Sl 1 wyWS – Slip 1 stitch with yarn held to Wrong Side of work
  • YO – Yarn Over
  • K2tog-R – See above (aka k2tog)
  • K2tog-L – See above (aka Ssk)
  • P2tog-L – Purl 2 together so the dec slants to Left when viewed on the RS of the work (same as K2tog-R when worked on WS of work)
  • VDD = Vertical Double Decrease: Sl 2 sts as if to work k2 tog-R, k1, pass slipped sts over (decrease of 2 sts)
  • VDI – Vertical Double Increase: K into front of st, YO, k into back of same stitch.
  • Inc 1 Right: Knit into st immediately below next st on needle, then knit next st on needle, creating a right-slanting inc.
  • Inc 1 Left: Knit next st on needle, then into st immediately below that st, creating a left-slanting inc

Remember Me?

I haven’t posted for a while because we have been battling various pressures, none of them terrible alone , but together they create a firm barrier which I’ve been alternatively digging under and leaping over.

It’s curious how we underestimate a smooth, level, unobstructed path, huh?

Various recurring health battles (both for Gerry and myself) have reared their ugly heads, made bolder by the non-Spring weather, which kept me from cycling (which has slowly worn away my health resources.)

Nothing fills all my reservoirs like a good, long bike ride. As a matter of fact I was SO hurting for a ride that I borrowed Ysolda’s prop bike from her TNNA booth and rode around the show floor for 10 minutes.

Not near enough, but it was fun while it lasted. I got the idea when I saw Cat Bordhi doing it, so haul us both off to convention center jail!

Yes, I went to TNNA. I wasn’t going to go. Between Gerry’s returning health issues and my own recurring pain and exhaustion I felt as if it were too much. About Gerry was insistent – he said something to the effect of “if you don’t go to TNNA and have a bad year, design-wise, I will feel responsible.”

I didn’t want to drive alone, I haven’t driven long distances for several years, (not since I took out a construction barrel on a highway in Illinois and scared myself silly) and I wanted to take Max with me. But I didn’t want to leave Gerry home alone, and he was up for the ride!

So we did the drive there over two days, stayed a day at an extended suite type of place (good for everyone!) and while I was at TNNA doing the necessary schmoozing, Gerry and Max slept in, then went to CoSi and had a terrific time (Gerry’s dreamed of taking Max to this great science center for years!)

Hannah (who would like to be called “Andy” for the present) is already up at Menogyn working as an engage for 2 sessions, then late in July she will head out on her 32 day Nor’wester canoe trip up into Canada with 4 other young women. I’m alternately bursting with pride, and terrified for her.

I’ll be teaching a two part lace class at a FABULOUS yarn shop in Stillwater, MN, Darn Knit Anyway!

Lovely Laces: July 17th 6-9 pm and July 27th 10-1pm.
We will cover the basics of lace knitting, charts, and how to go about memorizing a repeating motif to make lace knitting more enjoyable and intuitive. ANYONE CAN KNIT LACE!!

It’s been a crazy busy few months of designing, which I love and which is good work for me as it doesn’t require a lot of movement (I move we’ll many days, but sometimes those unmovable Fibro days coincide with a teaching engagement, and all hell breaks loose…)

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt both so useless, and also as if so much is depending on me. It’s a bad feeling, but there’s really nothing for it but to keep my mind on my work and do my best.

I’ve just finished 16 designs for various magazines and knitting pubs, all places that pay fairly and offer good terms for designers to retain their rights on their designs. Look for my work in Jane Austen Knits, Downton Abbey Knits, Interweave Knits and Interweave Crochet, Twist Collective and in Austrlia in Yarn Mag and in the UK in The Knitter.

I have 6 other designs I’ll have completed by mid-July, also for publications that deal openly and fairly with their contributors, so I’m actually very fortunate, all things considered.


I had a chat with a sister designer at TNNA where I was warned not to “burn my bridges” and I laughed. Some “bridges” are little more than zip lines, they only work in one direction.

Other bridges may be burning, but I didn’t set them on fire, I simply balked at the high toll.

I know I have carved a well deserved reputation for someone who will speak her mind about fair working conditions for hand knit and crochet designers and teachers, and that this has perhaps made me persona non grata with some entities.

There are still publishers who still insist on retention of designers rights after publishing a pattern, will only pay 10% of online pattern sales to a designer (50% should be more like it in my book!) or won’t cover the full hotel and airfare for a teacher at their functions (another designer told me this weekend she makes NO money teaching at TNNA for Offinger, but she does it to get at least part of her airfare covered.)

To me this remains unacceptable.

I think I was a little afraid I’d go to TNNA and begin to regret decisions I’d made to avoid/openly discuss corporations that make money off of the fruit of designers and teachers, yet treat these same designers and teachers as if they’re doing THEM a favor by hiring them.

But, happily and surprisingly, I found myself comfortable with decisions I’ve made, happy to continue to work with old friends and eager to forge new relationships with other yarn companies.

There is room for MANY different opinions in our business. If holding a position outside of the mainstream means I’ve burned a bridge, that might not have been the right path for me, anyway.

Now, off to get a good LONG bike ride in so I can start rebuilding my health and grow my strength for what lies ahead. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if hard work and fair dealing cannot provide me an income in this industry, it may not be right for me. I’m not going to change that by underselling myself or working on the cheap.

Note: if you see odd typos in this post, chalk it up to the fact that my computer has been out of commission for wifi use for 2 weeks, so I’m doing all of my online stuff with my iPad.  This is my first time doing a whole blog post on this tricky, disappearing keyboard!

Once Again, The Virgo Horoscope Speaks Truth

One again my Rick Levine horoscope is oddly on point!  We’re leaving today for a long trip, I’m driving, and in a more metaphorical way I feel I AM ready to take the bull by the horns (watch out, Taurus!)

Friday, December 21, 2012 – You feel at home now as the Sun moves through Capricorn — another pragmatic Earth sign. There are many things you need to accomplish in your life, and, thankfully, you’re ready to do them.

You feel quite confident today, especially if you have been preparing for what’s ahead. Let go of your fears, relax into the situation and have a little fun. Buckle up; it’s going to be quite a ride! by Rick Levine

Who’s a Good Dog?

This evening we bid farewell to one of the best dogs ever. Period.

Atticus had neural sheath tumors and his pain had grown to such a point that we  could not allow him to continue loving us with so much agony.  He would have loved us forever, with no complaints.

He will always be with us, because he wants to be.

And the winner of the Knit Edge Subscription is…

TOM!  Way to go, Tom!

Tom also had the honor of having the shortest comment, which in NO way affected his chances of winning!

It’s cool that the winner’s a guy (I actually had to do my random pick twice because I picked someone who’d won something a few weeks ago the first time around!)

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing a new crochet book, and giving away a copy of that, so tune in!

I’ll alert Tom so he can begin getting his subscription as soon as the next issues are hot off the press!

Remember, you can STILL get a little extra bonus if you subscribe to Knit Edge:

Use the code “modeknit” when ordering Knit Edge and receive $1 off a yearly subscription.  You have until July 31 to take advantage of this code.

Additionally, one other lucky person, also chosen at random, who subscribes to Knit Edge and uses the code “modeknit” when checking out, will have their entire subscription fee refunded.  Too cool, huh?

A Boost and A Book Giveaway

It’s been a busy few weeks since I’ve been home from TNNA.  I was SO wiped out and full of pain at the end of my trip, but I’m overjoyed at the positive effect my bike riding has had on my muscle and joint pain.  The heat here in Minnesota was terrible last week, but biking 10 miles in the heat works wonders on deep rooted joint and muscle pain.

Having said that, the heat wave’s lifted here in the Twin Cities with my full approval, and to celebrate I rode 25 miles on Saturday and 14 miles Monday.

If I’m not biking, I’m knitting.  If I’m not knitting or biking, I’m editing patterns for History on Two Needles or getting swatches together for the online class I’ll be shooting this Summer.  Life is extremely busy.

Monday, June 9th, was the last day of my Kickstarter Fundraiser for History on Two Needles, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the positive and loving reaction I’ve received from the knitting community (and the micro funding community at large!)

It’s such a boost to have the positive reinforcement, and gives me great push as I work through the details of the book.  When I look at all the work that is yet to be done I can get overwhelmed, breaking it down bit by bit makes it easier.  Support from friends makes it seem possible!

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a bunch of great books and items I received at TNNA over the next few weeks.  Knitting’s only made better by sharing, and the same is certainly true for books!

Knitters Curiosity Cabinet
(Chrysanthemum frutescens socks)

The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet
20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations
by Hunter Hammersen

This is a beautiful book.  If you love interesting, repeating patterns and gorgeous photography, this is a book you MUST have.

Dianthus Superbus Sock

The inspiration for the book is the Victorian ‘curiosity cabinet’ – repository of interesting little tidbits from the world at large – and botanical drawings of the same period which portray that same enchantment with nature.

Linaria Bipartita Sock

There are more sock patterns than anything else, which is absolutely fine.  I find the motifs themselves are worth the price of admission (which, I admit, was free for me…) but they’re engaging, fun to knit up (I already cast on a swatch of Chrysanthemum Frutescens just to try out the pattern used in the socks of the same name)

When I read the pattern names I half broke out in a cold sweat with a flashback to a failed botany final; Rubus suberectus, Rosa rubiginosa, Loasa lateritia are just a few of the pattern names that carry the natural history theme through the book.

Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus Sock

I was sent this book to review, and before it arrived I idly wondered, “Should I give it away, or should I keep it?”

I’m keeping this one!

But I’m giving a copy away to someone here on my blog – just leave a comment with the name of your favorite floral embellishment; it can be as simple as ‘rosebud’ or as complex as ‘gladiolus caryophyllaceus’, every comment will count and I’ll draw one winner at random on Sunday.