No One Gets Out Alive


Thursday, October 6, 2011
By Rick Levine

You may run into unexpected delays as your key planet Mercury conjuncts karmic Saturn. You won’t likely get what you want unless you’re willing to work for it.

On the other hand, you’ll surely be disappointed if you don’t give it your all. Today’s lesson points out that achieving your goal isn’t the only reward.

Showing up and playing the game passionately, whether you win or lose, is where you can find the most joy.

Wow, is this fitting today, or what?  Find the joy TODAY in what you’re doing, even if it’s restocking a shelf or mailing books [raises hand] because YOU are responsible for discovering joy wherever it’s hiding.  Life is terminal.

Two Beautiful Things

I want to write about two things that have crossed my path recently, both beautiful and both something for the shopping lists of the crafty (and perhaps nice gifts, too?)

Knitting Scarves From Around The World

Editor: Kari Cornell
Publisher: Voyageur Press

This is an absolutely lovely book!

Northern Handspun Cowl - London Nelson

I remember when Scarf Style came out a few years ago  Folks who had pooh-poohed “another scarf book” sat up and looked closer, and Pam Allen’s great book became a classic.

This is another one of those landmark books.  The scarves in this book are beautiful pieces in and of themselves, but they’re also jumping off points for more in-depth knitting projects (very large swatches?)

Pendleton Scarf - Lucy Neatby

The patterns in this book will encourage many knitters who only think of themselves as “beginners” or “scarf knitters” to move beyond their self-imposed boundaries and move to new knitting pastures!

There are great techniques in the book for double knitting, cabling, working with color, lace and shaping – all in a relatively stress-free “it’s only a scarf, you CAN do this!” presentation.

If you know a knitter who’s ready to move beyond their first rectangular projects, this may just be the book for them!

Beautiful Fabrics

Sewing Green by Betz White

Those who sew are familiar with Betz White.  My own sewing doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, mostly due to the pure laziness that keeps me from opening up my sewing machine and setting up my ironing board as often as I should…

Stitch by Betz White

But recently at the Creative Connection in St. Paul I ran into Betz as she was talking with her editor, Melanie Falick, and I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a few quarters of her impeccably whimsical new line of fabrics to be produced by Robert Kaufman.

Stitch by Betz White

I was lucky to escape with these three magnificent prints, which are available here and at fabric shops locally (how’s THAT for helpful…) and I’m off to get myself MANY more yards!

I am in LOVE with how she uses knit/stitch motifs in her woven fabrics.  Way to go, Betz!



Ta Da!

Amanda’s wedding dress is FINIS and I’m SO happy!

I love to sew, and this has been a pure labor of love, but I had forgotten how physically draining sewing can be.  I’ve become used to the wonderful, sedentary world of knit design (with bike breaks) so standing over an ironing board, a mannequin, leaning over a sewing machine or cutting table are skills I needed to strengthen.

But it’s all worth it – the dress has come out beautifully, and the removable over-skirt will allow Amanda to walk down the aisle with a LOT of impact, then remove it so she can dance and chat and move among the guests without knocking drinks off the tables (unless she wants to.)

Cats Love Tulle

Amanda looked SO amazing in the fitting of the dress 2 weeks ago, I can only imagine how great the whole thing will look when it’s on her and ready to wear!  I’m shipping it off today via UPS, I need to find a BIG box so I don’t crush the tulle too much.  Don’t you just LOVE that amazing purple tulle?  Amanda found it online, it’s just divine!  Shiloh the cat loves it, too!

My only regret?  I won’t be able to be at the wedding.  I’m shattered by this, but I had agreed to teach at Shepherd’s Harvest on the same day over a year ago, so I can’t back out now!  And, I adore Shepherd’s Harvest.

Obviously I need to make myself a similar dress and wear that at Shepherd’s Harvest that day!

Actually, I did just buy some fabric for myself.  I’m going to make a simple linen dress with a full skirt that I can wear teaching and biking.  I found some really lovely fabric over at Treadle (they’re a bit pricey, but you can’t beat their eclectic selection, and they’re 10 minutes away by bike!) so I’ll be working that up later tonight after I get some knitting / designing work done.

Change From The Inside?

It’s been no secret that I’m committed to changing the current mindset at some magazines about fair compensation for designers, rights to pattern ownership & online sales compensation.

I feel that as designers we should have the freedom to negotiate a contract that will allow us to:

  1. Earn a respectable fee for a design & providing the sample
  2. Retain pattern rights (if the designer desires)

  3. Control whether patterns are sold online
  4. Negotiate a fair percentage of online pattern sale fees to go to the designer

Setting minimums for these goals isn’t a bad idea, and it wouldn’t lock the designer into a low fee as much as allow a starting point for negotiations.

Interweave has been absolutely BRILLIANT in their response to the knitting community.  They provide excellent quarterly reports of online pattern sales (much as Patternfish, Twist Collective, Ravelry and other online pattern sales entities do).

Vogue Knitting’s been a hold out, but I’ve felt it’s just a matter of approaching whoever makes the decision in a realistic way.  I stopped submitting to Vogue because, as a friend once advised, “Don’t be a party to your own hanging.” And I’ve heard from many designers who feel the situation should be changed.  But how to change it?

I don’t represent anyone but myself, so I can’t make decisions for anyone else.  I’d thought about trying to arrange some kind of a meeting with the folks from Vogue (much as the Interweave folks and I did 3 years ago) but I’ve been hesitant.

Then I was asked by Vogue Knitting to teach at an event here in St. Paul in September.

I thought hard about it, weighing a lot of different variables and I’ve decided I’m thrilled to be teaching at the Creative Connection / BlogHer event on September 15

Here’s my reasoning:

  1. From all accounts the VK Live event was a VERY positive experience for all participants (students, teachers, shoppers & sellers)
  2. I feel perhaps I can effect a change if we can open the dialogue.
    Teaching for VK seems like a good way to do this.
  3. They’ve offered very fair terms for the teaching fees.
  4. I’m teaching at Knitting Lab for Interweave Knits in November (in San Mateo), and it seems fair to give both of these events a good look from the inside out.

I’m INCREDIBLY excited to be part of the Creative Connection – I’d actually written to BlogHer last week asking about speaking or teaching at the shindig, so this may be in part due to that.

The knitting classes / portion of the program will be handled by Vogue Knitting, which makes a lot of sense given their recent VK Live success.

So what do you think?  Grown up decision, or sell out?  Recently I’ve had a flood of requests for me to teach, I think the planets are all in alignment or something, but this is – in some ways – the one I’m the most excited about.  I think it’s because it’s nearby – just 3.5 miles from my house (I can bike!)

I feel that this may be the first step in starting a dialogue, so we can find ways around some of the stumbling blocks I’ve hit in my quest for fair internet pattern compensation!  VK reached out to me, I’ll reach back to them, and we may find a nice middle ground down the road!

Making … Love!

Atelier Amanda

It’s been SUCH a busy week – lots of work combined with lots of family time (kids were off school last week), throw in a road trip to Chicago (12 hours of driving in 2 days) and the resurgence of the Chest Infection Of Death, and you have a small idea of why I haven’t blogged for a week.


Some cosmic gig-switch seems to have been flipped and in the past week I’ve received more invitations to teach around the country, and sold more designs to publications than I did in the previous three months.

Why?  Well, Spring is here, there’s always a bit of buzz in the Spring.  And I feel the knitting / fiber world is having another swell of interest (happy to ride that wave!)

I’ve also been putting myself out there more, letting folks know that I’d like to teach again and that I’d like to design more – it doesn’t hurt to let folks know I’m open for business!

Short Row Garter Collar

I just finished up a garment I’m calling a “Multidirectional Kimono” which is put together almost like a puzzle.  I’m hoping the instructions I’ve written will be clear, and will also inspire folks to work through the garment step by step.

The yarn I received for the project was a bit thinner than I’d anticipated (I swatched in a worsted/aran weight) and it proved to be one of the more unforgiving yarns I’ve worked with (any misstep and the yarn let me KNOW how unhappy it was!)

I did a good amount of ripping out before I realized that no matter HOW carefully I set my tension, the yarn was just going to pout every now and then.  And garter can be unforgiving sometimes…

But now that pattern’s been written, I’ve emerged from “math hell” (oh, crap, I have an article on “Math Hell” that I need to write!) and I wanted to poke my head up just long enough to post about a cool dress I’m creating.

Amanda finds her fabric in Minnesota

Wedding Bright

Last October my friend Kathleen was married, and I made her dress.  It was my gift to her, because I like to sew and because I like weddings.  When I learned my friend Amanda (of Lorna’s Laces fame) was going to be married, I offered to make her dress, too!

Here’s my blog post about it.

En Route, Pinned Together

Amanda’s a singular woman, individual and unlike any other person, and she loves green.  SO her dress will be individual, one-of-a-kind, and it will be GREEN!

It’s going to be in two parts; A sleek, fitted under dress, very “Mad Men”, with a square neckline and curve accenting darts.  When I fit the dress on Amanda this weekend (that was the reason for the Chicago road trip) I squealed with delight – it fit, and it fit WELL!

The second part of the dress is a very full partial over skirt with a few layers of rich, deep PURPLE tulle to give it oomph.  Amanda can wear the over skirt, or take it off – she has that option throughout her big day.

Hannah accompanied me to Chicago and while I sewed she and Amanda did touristy things and had a great time running around.


Derek, Amanda’s squeeze, is currently in a play but although I seriously wanted to go, I was just TOO exhausted (the onset of the cold?) so I stayed home and knit while the kids ran wild and visited a diner.  Go on, I’ll be fine here…

While I wait for yarn to arrive for my new projects I’ll be working up a mitered stole for my own purposes.  Hmmm, what could those be?