Category Archives: Work / Office

Two Weeks of Marathon (no, IRONWOMAN!)

Oy, what a two weeks I’ve had!  Perhaps the hardest two weeks in my professional career, and also the most satisfying!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

First, this was preceded by a few months of hard graft; one show after another, one teaching gig after another, personal trips that don’t bear mentioning (but were a bit fraught) and LOTS of yarn dyeing.

The two weeks started with the final touches of readying yarns for Interweave Yarn Fest, last minute dyeing and skein making.  Work, work, and more glorious work!

Then the drive out to Colorado.  I love driving, I was thrilled to drive out. It’s something I do well, and I really enjoy the feeling of the wheels on the pavement. I think it’s my own type of meditation.

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

But it is a bit tiring, that long, hard focus. Especially across the high plains – lots of trucks, lots of tumbleweeds, and almost an entirely uphill drive.

Once in Colorado the shift to upper altitude didn’t kick in immediately, which was great because my first day there Kathleen, the other half of ModeKnit Yarns, and I had to set up our booth in the Yarn Fest Marketplace.

The following day Kathleen womanned the booth while I taped two classes for Interweave Craft Daily.

Interweave's AV Guys

Interweave’s AV Guys

It’s always a lot of fun to work with the IK video crew, they’re sensational guys!

A morning off, which was necessary because by now the altitude had caught up with me and I needed some reset and hydration, then full-on teaching for four very full classes, LOTS of selling in the marketplace, and general fun with other yarn folks!

2015-04-16 12.01.56We tore down the booth on Saturday night, packed up, and after teaching one last class on Sunday morning we started our drive back to MN.  I drove, because I love it, and we were home in St. Paul by Monday afternoon.  Huzzah!

I slept for half a day, much needed, then Tues, Wed & Thurs were dyeing days.

Yarn Fest was sensational – we sold out of several of our yarns (we returned with only FOUR balls of ModeSock Flow!) so I was trying to fill up our yarn coffers before the wonderful Minnesota Knitting Guild’s yearly event, Yarn Over!

Yarn Over has a very special place in my heart.  It was at Yarn Over in 2006 that I began to hatch my plan to move my family out here to MN. It’s a move I’ve never regretted, and I feel I owe a great deal to Minnesota (including my husband’s continued health – thank you Mayo Clinic!)

The kids have thrived here, life is very good for families here, and I think all of us felt less pressure to live up to a certain perfection of appearance and lifestyle we may have felt in NJ (which we also love!)

Today was Yarn Over, and once again it didn’t disappoint!

Mini Skein Sets

Mini Skein Sets

What an amazing gathering of fiber and yarn loving folks, crossing all skill levels, ages and genders. And we sold out of several of our yarns again. We return home with all of our 221B and Dragon Dances miniskeins sold out, with just a few of our Caledonian Colors, Knitting Dead and Midwife Speaking left.  And a TON of orders to fill in the next few weeks.  This kind of busy I’ll take any day!

This feels amazing.

2014-10-25 13.11.17We have had good fiber shows in the past year (ModeKnit Yarn’s first fiber show was actually 2014 Yarn Over) but these last two weeks have exceeded all our expectations. SO much work, and SO much reward!

THANK YOU to all of our customers, to everyone who took the time to stop by our booth (even if you just looked or commented!) and THANK YOU to the staffs of Yarn Fest and Yarn Over. Your own hard work is GREATLY appreciated by this fledgling yarn dyeing company – we’re very grateful!

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!

I must have been VERY bad

In a past life I must have REALLY pissed off someone – or maybe in this life – because the pain I’ve had the last few days is crazy.  A sore back sent me to bed early on Tues, where the pain became SO bad at 3am that Gerry said we should go to the ER.

Test, test, test.

Test, test, test.

Apparently I had had a kidney stone. Different tests showed that there’d been one, and the fact they couldn’t see it on the scan led the doctor to say that I’d passed it. “The pain should go away now, just rest for a few days and make an appt to see your own GP.”

But the pain didn’t go away, it got worse.

And added to this pain was an incredible skin sensitivity (think of how your skin feels during a bad flu, then add poison ivy pain to that) and I had a lot to talk about with my doc on Thursday. As she was examining the part of my back that hurt the worst, in the general location of my right kidney, I half joked, “It couldn’t be shingles, could it?”

Yes, yes it could.

My constant companion

My constant companion

I’m on the watch for shingles all the time, but for Gerry, not for me. Because of his stem cell transplant and various drugs he’s on, he’s more susceptible to develop shingles. There has been at least one time when I caught the symptoms on him just in the nick of time (earning raised eyebrows and a smile from our oncologist) At the time it was taken care of with a quick course of Valtrex.

But these shingles had a bit of time to settle in, and they are intense.  Everything you’ve heard in those TV ads is true. I have so much pain that I’m nauseous.

The nausea makes it hard to keep the pain meds down. It’s a vicious circle, and I’m in the center of it.  I haven’t had this kind of out-of-control nausea since my first pregnancy.  I can’t wear anything but the loosest cotton dress, anything touching my body is cause for agony.

In other words, I’m not a good date.

In fact, if you asked me what was going on with my body (and if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy and wasn’t 52) I’d say, “Obviously I’m in labor!”

Since Tuesday. This sucks.

Work Continues…

Our newest design, Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

The worst part is that I can’t get much work done. I finished up some schematics for my new book and got that out the door, and yesterday I wrote up a simple plaid pattern for a multi colored cowl (in our new Caledonian Colors) but my concentration is poor, and I can only knit for a few minutes before pain causes me to change my position into a non-knitting one.

Thursday evening we had to reshoot three sweaters for my upcoming book, and I KNEW that if we didn’t do it, it would be BIG TROUBLE. Andy goes off to college next Thursday, and I really needed to get front shots of 3 garments.

My photographer (Lara Need of Math4Knitters) is amazing, and she did most of the work. The models (Andy & our friend Lydia) were beautiful with great attitudes, so it was as stress free as a shoot could go.

I consider it a huge success that I was able to wait
until we got home to be sick. We all have different yardsticks.

I haven’t been able to ride my bike (the idea makes me break out in a cold sweat) and that makes the fibro pain grow in unwanted ways.

Well, what doesn’t kill us… right?

I find myself SO hesitant to write about this (I’ve actually been rather hesitant to blog at all these days…) because I know that someone will pop up to say, “Stop whining about your pain, just work through it!”

And they’d be right in a sense. The best thing to do with pain is to find a path through it, and sometimes talking about it isn’t the best path.

But the last 3 days have been overwhelming. I gave birth twice, to two big babies, the last one (11lbs) with no medication. This pain is worse. And it doesn’t seem to want to end.

Having said that, the pain does seem infinitesimally better since yesterday. I think the meds are working, but the nausea is as bad as ever.  But even that small change for good is reason to hope.

The cowl, down Jasper gets around

The cowl in it’s down position.
Jasper gets around

Your Reward

For reading my long tale of woe is that I’d like to gift you with the cowl pattern!

Lanark Plaid Cowl To download click on image of pattern.

Lanark Plaid Cowl
To download click on image of pattern.

Bear in mind, it’s been written by a woman in pain, and the tech edit was pretty quick and dirty. But the pattern is crazy simple [notice I didn’t say EASY, just SIMPLE] and if you want, you can consider it a fun test knit…

And (because I’m not in my right mind) I’ll pick ONE name from the comments of a person to receive a ball of ModeWerk Bulky. This is soft, beautiful yarn – it knits up like a dream – AND it’s super wash. I so hate making a gift for someone, then attaching a “care instructions” card to it.

Just leave a comment below, I don’t care what it’s about, and your name will go in the hopper for the drawing!  I don’t want to restrict this to US folks, so if you want to participate and you’re in a foreign country you’ll have to pony up $10 for shipping (I’ll cover the rest, and all of the shipping costs if the winner’s from the US) Leave your comment by midnight on Sun, Aug 17th (US Central Time) and we’ll pick a winner on Monday.  Good luck!

So go, leave a message, and make me laugh.  Please.

“Nonnatus House, Midwife Speaking…”

You’ve probably noticed how quiet I’ve been – I apologize for that! Believe me, it’s all because of work, and that’s a good reason!

We just shipped our first wholesale order, which was huge (to me) and this adventure will NOT be duplicated until 2015, when we’re set up to seriously seek wholesale accounts.

All those things you read about businesses growing too fast are actually true,
and this first huge order gave me a glimpse of how easily that might happen!

NEW ‘NO SPOILERS’ COLORS!

Peace Rose Colorway

Peace Rose Colorway

If you’re as big a fan of Call The Midwife as I am, you will be SO excited tonight when Season 3 begins on PBS stations all across the US!  Our friends are back, and the art direction and costumes in this season are absolutely amazing! The Midwives and Sisters are moving into the 60’s in London, with all the color, light and edgy fashion that entails (Jean Shrimpton hair, anyone?)

Mid Century Industrial Extravaganza!

Mid Century Industrial Extravaganza!

They’ve moved into a new location (still in Poplar) with a new Community Clinic where new ways of dealing with the pain of childbirth are taught, along with many other new lessons.

Sadly, as we bring in eight new colors, we will have to say goodbye to six of the 221B colors (we’re keeping A Study In Pink and Bristol Pool! Huzzah!) 

I hate to say goodbye to colors that are selling so well, but the truth is that I just cannot dye so many different colors all at the same time – so for my own sanity we’ll only have two NO SPOILERS color sets going at any one time, and will keep a few colors from each set if they prove to be good sellers!

So, ladies and gentlemen, here are all eight colors of our newest NO SPOILERS collection, “Midwife Speaking”, which I’ve based on characters and incidents of the upcoming season of Call The Midwife.

I’ll not give any secrets away, and the color names are neutral as far as plot points,
but this is going to be a TREMENDOUS season.

I’m releasing all 8 colors tonight so folks can get the mini skein set at once. Besides, I’ve been SO overwhelmingly busy with the dyeing (good) and the designing (also good) that having time to do eight separate days of blogging for “Midwife Speaking” isn’t going to be happening!

But I promise to try to be better about writing. Believe me, dear readers
(and yarn customers, and well-wishers, and all my knitters and crocheters)
I love to connect with you via my blog and newsletter –
I really do miss you when I’m too busy to write!

 

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


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