Friday, January 03, 2014

Snow Day!

So Winter Storm Hercules came to visit. There is a fair amount of snow - 5" or so - but nothing those of us in the Northeast haven't successfully lived through several times before.

LL had no school today which is awesome because neither one of us are morning people by nature, and we tend to go feral during long school breaks by staying up until 1 or 2 am, then waking up at 9 or 10 am. At least now we have the weekend to try to get back to school schedule. For six more months. I cannot believe she is getting ready to graduate from high school. What a big year for changes 2014 will be!

Other than that though, it's amazing how my brain works on snow days. Snow Day! I can sit inside and drink hot chocolate and knit and crochet and write patterns all day! Yay! The thing is, I work from home - so other than the unreasonable hot chocolate craving a snow day isn't really all that much different from any other winter day. It's not like I commute anywhere on a daily basis. A snow day just means I don't have to wake up early, and I can't run out to Staples for printer ink.

But still - Snow Day! Yay! I think it's a response ingrained from childhood. You folks that grew up in warmer climates will never know the joy of that instant holiday feeling. Sorry about that...

Be safe and enjoy the breaks that Mother Nature gives you!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Crabby New Year!

I find myself generally annoyed at this time of year - every year - and I haven't quite figured out why.

Christmas overload? Unhappiness with progress during the year that's about to end? Twenty million emails about sales before Christmas, followed by twenty million more advertising post-Christmas sales? Not sure... but I am ready for it to be January already.

Coming up? TNNA and CHA. I am not sure whose bright and shining idea it was to schedule both trade shows the same damned weekend in the same damned state but a two hour drive apart, but there you have it. At least I don't have to fly to California twice? So I will be in California from 1/19 - 1/15, toodling back and forth between Anaheim and San Diego. The upside I am looking forward to is that all of this driving time increases the likelihood that I will be able to eat In N' Out burgers, with any luck more than once. It does cut into my hanging out with friends and talking about yarn time, but I am trying to be very good about scheduling this time so I don't miss too much.

Are you a yarn/craft/distributor/catalog type and need to see me? Please email me and let me know so I make sure we can do that!

Most recent magazine placement? These luscious crocheted plaid pillows in Knit Simple, Winter 2013 issue.
Photo Credit : (c) Jack Deutsch

I am pretty pleased with myself about how they came out. I have been experimenting with various ways to make surface crochet easier for people to do, and the plaids (there were three - maybe one fell off the bed?) take advantage of cleverly placed ch-1 sps so your lines are perfectly straight, and your stitches are perfectly even.

Most recent Hooked for Life pattern? Actually there are a few more coming out soon but the one that seems to be getting the most buzz is Mosaic Tile Wrap. (that's a link to the Ravelry page, nothing scary!)

Photo credit: (C) Mary Beth Temple for Hooked for Life

Mitered squares, tons of richly colored Koigu KPPPM in five colors, and it's currently gracing the cover of the December update of the Patternworks catalog. I am pleased by this for two reasons - one, cover; two - crochet on the cover! I am much less of a crochet activist than I used to be but I do get my hooky jollies on every now and again when I feel like crochet has made an inroad or two into the gen pop.

Can you believe that's Little Loopy modeling? She is going to college in the Fall of 2014 - wow, right?

2014 Resolution #1 - If your book is not for the benefit of a charity I support, or you aren't a close friend, I will not be contributing anything. Life is too short for multi-author books.

2014 Resolution #2 - I want to get my mailing list/newsletter back up and running. Stay tuned to see if I make any progress!

Wishing you and yours a Happy (not Crabby) New Year!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Knowledge is power

There has been a fair amount of activity over on the Designers forum at Ravelry.com, tossing about the idea of a union. Again. The last time I posted on that forum it lead to death threats. That is not hyperbole. I do not post on that forum any more. But I have a few things to say on the issue (ok a lot of things but I will try to edit down to a few) so here they are, in no particular order.

I am pro-union. I grew up in a union household, and I was a proud member of TWU Local 764 for many years, where I was honored to be selected by my peers to serve as a shop steward and a member of a contract negotiating team. I am not tossing around the words 'proud' and 'honored' lightly - my union years were an important part of who I am today. I do not think a designers' union is a good idea for a variety of reasons, which if listed would take me well out of the edited post ballpark so I won't go on and on. But here's the biggie.

When I was a union member, the people who spoke on my behalf were people that I trusted, people that my peers and I had elected to speak for us, people that had gained the respect of the people on both sides of the negotiating table by acting responsibly, even through disagreements, even through the occasional scream-fest. There are several people posting on that thread who I would not trust to give me directions to the corner grocery store, let alone have a voice in how I run my business. No I won't say who they are - and they probably aren't who you are guessing. That's not the issue. The issue is before you follow someone into an endeavor that will take a lot of time and money and brain-space away from your own business and your own life, make sure that person is worth following. Do some research, don't just skim the threads and think you are making an informed choice. Follow who you like, but know who that is. Your name and reputation are at stake.

OK well maybe it's not a union, it's an association or guild or society. I have a little experience there too. I am a past member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Membership there is something that one aspires to - the barrier for entry is high. That's as it should be. It was not formed to educate aspirants (although there is a lot of education that happens once you are a member), and it was not formed to bring new people into the industry. It was and is a membership organization that self-selects to high standards, for people who are working professionals, who can then interact with either other and the industry at large to the betterment of all.

That's not the kind of society I see being talked about. I see a society or guild or union or whatever that pretty much anyone can join so it doesn't seem 'elitist', and that whoever screams the loudest - or has the most free time - will wind up leading. How do you think an organization like that will benefit the design community? More to the point, how do you think an organization like that won't actively hurt us as a whole by making us look like a collective of excitable idiots?

But back to the knowledge is power theme of this entry. I have heard over and over again that established designers don't share financial information because they are afraid of retribution from the big bad publishers. I call bullshit. I see people, new people trying to run a business in the needlearts industry and I tell them all kinds of things. I overshare. I'll tell you anything you want to know if I think you are running or trying to run a legitimate business, whether full time or part time, whether focused on traditional publishing or indie publishing. I worked hard and spent a lot of money and time acquiring my extensive network of contacts and information. I am not posting the results of that effort for all to see - but I am happy to share with those I look forward to working with as colleagues. If that's elitist I can live with that.


Anyway, believe it or not I DID edit this post down! And I hope that discussion on Ravelry and here and wherever else leads to some interesting discussions. All I am asking of anyone in this business is to look before you leap - then leap away!




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Back in the saddle!

Trying to get back in the blogging habit. I know I have said this in the past, but as Twitter (where I am @Hooked4Life) is getting me back into communicating with like-minded people mode, I find that sometimes I have things to say that 140 characters - or even 280! - can't quite cover.

In today's news, it is officially official that I will be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago, November 1 - 3, 2013. Here is a link to the save-the-date flyer - as you can see, I will be in great company.

I am very excited by this - I have had many great teaching experiences in the Chicagoland area and am so pleased to be going again with the Vogue crew!

Look out for my newest class offering - and all day Irish Crochet workshop, aimed at finding modern uses for traditional techniques. Allergic to thread crochet? Come anyway and work in yarn - it's really going to be a joint exploration and a judgement free zone.

Speaking of Chicagoland - I was there last weekend and all I did was eat (well, and teach - hello to Northern Illinois CGOA!). I tried local legends Walker Bros for pancakes, a fabulous Tapas place,

for deep dish pizza and a really terrific salad, and
for Chicago-style hotdogs. My hosts were greatly amused that I kept pronouncing the latter in the manner of someone who speaks Spanish, Por-tee-yos, instead of how it's spelled, which is what the locals call it. Of course I have issue with people who call the basketball team the Boston SSSSSSeltics, when it should be KKKKKeltics for God's sake!

See you soon?
MBT


Thursday, February 16, 2012

New year, new patterns.




Ok, it's February but January was a bear of a month with tons of things to do - like Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, closely followed by TNNA which was in Phoenix this year.

For VKL, I designed a pair of luscious fingerless gloves in Tosh Sock, in a beautiful colorway called Midnight in Manhattan which is only available via The Yarn Company in NYC. They are beaded and embellished with silk ribbons, but the actual stitching is fairly simple so don't get put off by how complicated they look! The lovely Tavy from The Yarn Company had a great time wearing them at the show - they got quite a bit of attention.

The Fanciful Gauntlets pattern is available via your local yarn store (if you are a local yarn store, you can order from Bryson Distributing!) Patternfish or Ravelry , $6.00 retail.


What else is going on? Working on trying to blog more regularly, again :-), hauling LL around to every Irish dance event within a million miles now that she is back in fighting form, and working on a million magazine projects now that the book is done. And oh yeah, now that the book is done I have to start thinking about PR for it! It won't be in your hands until September but I promise you it is worth the wait! I saw the cover at TNNA and it looks terrific. If you wanted to see the cover too, you should follow me on Twitter as @Hooked4Life . Even when I am slow about blogging and don't do new podcasts anymore, I am a pretty prolific tweeter.

OK, lots more to say but I am going to pace myself. My first blog post back in a month should probably not be the size of my last book! Later 'gators!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

First project of 2012!


On New Year's Day I took up the challenge issued by crochet supporter and good friend Laura Krzak, and spent part of the day making a chemo cap to donate. I chose Halos of Hope because the president, Pam Haschke, had done a really interesting episode of Getting Loopy with me - you can hear it here.


I grabbed a skein of pretty blue LB Collection Cotton Bamboo from the stash and a G/7/4.5mm hook and went to town. I also used an F/5/3.75mm hook for the single crochet edge.

For those of you who asked when I tweeted pix (I am @Hooked4Life), I didn't use a pattern but quick made one up. Here it is, in one size. If you wanted to quick size it up, you could use a bigger yarn and hooks, or add 1 sc to the first rnd which would add several stitches to the finished brim as you increase for the crown.

I got about 3.75 dcs to the inch in dc, the cap as 17" around unstretched (I wanted it small since bamboo grows and Pam said smaller is better than larger) and about 6" in height from the end of the crown increases to the edge of the brim. I used well under one skein of yarn. I don't know that I could get two whole hats from one skein but there is a lot left over.



Halos of Hope Chemo Cap

Ch 4, join into a ring with sl st in 1st ch.

Rnd 1: 7 sc in ring. Join rnd with sl st in 1st st. 7 sc
Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same sc as sl st, 2 dc in each sc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 14 dc
Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same sc as sl st, 2 dc in each dc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 28 dc
Rnd 4:Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in next sc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 42 dc
Rnd 5: Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in each of next 2 next dc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in each of next 2 dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 56
Rnd 6:Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in each of next 3 sc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in each of next 3 dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 70 dc
Rnds 7 - 19: Ch 3, dc in each dc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 70 dc.
Rnds 20 - 22: Change to F/5/3.75 hook. Sc in each st around. I did not join the rounds but worked in a spiral so it would be neater. End off.

Flower:
With larger hook, ch 6, join into ring with sl st in first ch.
Rnd 1: Ch 1, work 12 sc in ring. join rnd with sl st in 1st sc. 12 sc
Rnd 2: Sc in same st as sl st, ch 3, * sk 1 sc, sc in next sc, ch 3. Rep from * around, join rnd with sl st in 1st sc. 6 ch-3 loops
Rnd 3: (Sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc) in each ch-3 loop around. Join rnd with sl st in 1st st. End off.

Attach flower to hat carefully so that your stitching is mostly on the outside of the hat - we don't want bumps inside! Weave in all ends. If you have pets or the yarn is as all musty, wash it in UNSCENTED cleaner like Soak before you send it!

Happy New Year to you all - enjoy this pattern, and please consider making one to donate to the charity of your choice!

This pattern is my New Year's gift to you, but please don't steal it, sell it, print two billion copies, or generally be a jerk about it. You may absolutely link to this post from any blog or forum. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bits of thoughts

But here I am with time to blog, and no camera to hand, so I am going with the fact that it's probably better to get a post up than not, despite the lack of eye candy.

Oh wait - a crappy picture is better than none, right?


Look! It's my thumb, but also LL holding a first place trophy! Woo-freaking-hoo LL! If she earns two more of those before May 1 2012, she will be eligible for 2012 North American Nationals in Chicago in July. Here's hoping!

In other news, may I introduce you to some chocolate that is perhaps the most divine chocolate I have ever eaten, ever? And I have eaten a lot of chocolate! It is raw, gluten- and dairy-free, ecologically sensitive, and screw all of that, it tastes divine. The name of the company is Gnosis and it gets the MBT seal of approval. I tasted it at the Chocolate Expo at the Meadowlands about ten days ago and wish I hadn't cheaped out but had bought some more. It is not a bargain by any stretch but it was so delicious a square at a time was enough, so the smallish bar I bought lasted three days which is practically unheard of at my house. I had the Fleur de Sel flavor but am looking forward to trying more.

We went to Chocolate Expo so LL could meet Buddy Velastro of Cake Boss fame. She did, he was charming, and I will talk more about that when I am near the camera because I actually did get some good pictures of them together.

In other news, in case you hadn't heard, I decided to stop producing new episodes of Getting Loopy. I am at peace with the decision, but last night I didn't quite know what to do with myself around 8:00 PM on a Monday night. I kept feeling like I was missing something - that I should be somewhere else! But I will get used to it. You can still download all the archived episodes at ITunes, now and forever, but I will be dismembering the GL website and premium account at BTR shortly before the end of the year.

Working hard on some new submissions, waiting to hear on the fate of some others, and have many many new patterns coming out in the Hooked for Life pattern line soon. Sometimes change is good!