Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Free At Last...

It may not seem as though I've ever censored myself when it comes to posting on my blog or on social media, but my job and career were always in the back of my mind as I wrote a blog entry or participated in a flame war on-line, thinking that one of my co-workers or bosses might actually read what I post.

Officially Retired (or Soon to Be)

I just gave my two weeks notice to my current  employer, and I couldn't feel any more relieved.

Have you ever felt as though you had a chance to relax for the first time in years, and didn't even realize it was missing until you experienced it?

I have a busy two weeks ahead of me while I finalize as much as I can, and then I plan on starting to plan a more leisurely part of my life.

The most common question I hear from people when I tell them I'm retiring is "What will you do?"

It surprised me that many people seem to be concerned when they asked the question.

Mostly, I plan on the following:
  • Adding a little more sleep to my schedule
  • Expanding my workout time at the gym three times a week
  • Adding yoga to my schedule of activities
  • Enjoying my deck and espresso machine
  • Enjoying the area where I live by walking and biking more
There are other activities I may pursue, but this is the list of items I will almost assuredly add to my schedule.

I will also enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about offending a potential employer with my blog or social media posts.

Current Knitting

I finished the pair of tangerine gloves and also finished another West Coast Watch Cap.

I had worrisome little yarn left over on the glove project...the pattern calls for 220 yards of worsted weight yarn...mine only took 219....

Someone once described this race to finish a project before the yarn ran out as, "yarn chicken"...it definitely has a similar level of anxiety involved.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Late to the Game

Every time I think that I'd like to finish writing a knitting book I started years ago, one of my friends publishing a book that makes me realize my attempts would be lame comparatively.


Kyle Kunnecke's latest endeavor is the publication of one of my favorite books on knitting patterns, Urban Knit Collection.


# Patterns: 18 (2 Wraps, 8 Sweaters, 4 Scarves/Cowls, 2 Hat,s 2 Gloves)
Writing Style: Technical, sophisticated,
Design Style: Combination of textural and color patterning, geometric and whimsical and very deco

I love Kyle's aesthetic eye for design and this book is chock full of all that I love in his work.

My three favorite designs in the book are:
 I'm struck by the color choice and the strong graphic of this sweater design.  The designer makes this a more simplified project by only adding the colorwork on the front (also known as a coffin sweater), and the designers choice of yarns (Rowan Felted Tweed) makes this a luxurious choice for a project.
Brandt Pullover
Ellington Mittens

Color choice for these mittens by the designer is perfect and still creates the opportunity to play around with different color combinations to make this design your own.

The Zephyr scarf caught my eye in multiple ways.  First of all  the drape of the scarf is perfect...using a Merino/Silk blend of fingering weight yarn on a US4 (3.5 mm) needle works perfectly with the stranded colorwork to create a fabric that is lofty, soft and warm.  The way Kyle used the yarn, allows you to experience the luster of the wool/silk blend as well.  And finally, I find the Art Deco graphic design to be a strong, masculine design for a stunning final garment.

If you haven't added Kyle's book to your knitting library by now (and I know a LOT of people have recommended it before me), I highly recommend that you make this book a priority to purchase.

In my mind, it will do two things...first, it will give you and awesome resource for future projects and project ideas, and second, it will encourage Kyle to keep designing.

Current Knitting

I've decided to try knitting up a few pairs of gloves for my craft show pursuits, and I'm happy with how long one glove has taken me to knit (less than 3 days).

This is Aaron's pattern (Choose Your Own Cable Adventure Gloves), modified in a few ways, but I love how fitted this pattern makes the glove.  It fits a human hand exceptionally well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Harshest Critic

It's easy for me to dismiss insults or harsh words from someone else, especially when I have little or no respect for the person doling out the criticism.  But when the voice is from inside my own head, it takes a little more analysis to determine if I'm listening to my conscience or old tapes of critical people in my life.

Words to Live By

A friend once told me to "Treat yourself as if you were someone you loved."

I really value this advice.

First of all, it presupposes that I don't always either love myself or minimally don't treat myself as well as the people I love.  Second, and more importantly, it advises me to esteem myself at least as much as those I profess to love.

I don't always live by this advice, but whenever I'm reminded of it, I go out of my way to make sure I judge myself in at least a generous way as my friends and loved ones.  I give myself a break from the sometimes harsh voice inside my head.  I allow myself to make mistakes without condemnation.

Even a brief break from self-criticism can be incredibly satisfying.

Interestingly enough, the times when I hear my inner voice being the most harshly critical are the times I'm most often reminded of this advice...it's almost as if I have a trip-trigger to reset the voice in my head when it gets too critical.

Current Knitting

I finished the latest biased scarf, and I'm hoping that craft show buyers find this scarf to be as beautiful and luxurious as I think they will.

Pictured also are the four latest West Coast Watch Caps and my meager attempts at merchandising display.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Concerning my comment about thinking there may be an error in the Brian Smith's scarf pattern, J. Price writes, "Maybe he decreases at the end to stop 'scarf splay' where the end of a scarf ends up much wider than the middle?"

I think you may be exactly right about this...mine don't splay out at the end, but on my next attempt at his pattern, I will try using his decrease row at the end and see how it works...I can always pull it out if I don't like it.  Also, by the way, I was wrong about the pattern...I used Cascade Scarf #4, not #5.  Sorry about that.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beautiful Yarn and a Perfect Tool

Yesterday found me at the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival in Ringoes, NJ. 

Great Time...Crappy Photos

I really only went for two reasons...to meet with knitting friends (Hayes, Carole Foster, Leslie and Janet), and to specifically buy some of Amber's yarn at the Taylored Fibers booth.

I met with Hayes, and got to see Carole, but I never ran into Leslie and Janet.

I also got a two bags full of Taylored Fibers super fine alpaca yarn in multiple colors.

Two other bonuses...first I found a rigid heddle orifice hook, which will make my next attempt at warping my rigid heddle loom MUCH easier.

And I also got to have lunch at one of my very favorite places which was only a mile down the road from the fiber festival...The Bee's Knees.

Current Knitting

I am almost up to the part of the Biased Scarf where I add in the colored stripes, and I'm also at the end of this hank of yarn.

I'm thinking about either:
  1. Starting the color stripes a little early so the scarf wont be equidistant from the center of the scarf,
  2. Starting the color stripes a little early and making the scarf a few inches shorter so the stripes are equidistant from the center
  3. Starting a new hank of the silver/gray yarn and weave in two additional ends, making the colored stripes equidistant from the center and making the scarf as long as the first one I knit. 

I also finished two more West Coast Watch Caps.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Julie writes, "...will you publish the pattern, please, for the bias scarf?"

It's not mine to publish...the pattern is Cascade Scarf #5 by Brian Smith, although I change to a finer weight yarn on US 5 needles and change the colored stripes.  I am also convinced his decrease row at the end of the scarf is a mistake, but he insists otherwise.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Closest Sheep & Wool Festival

I love attending certain sheep and wool festivals, and it's nice to have one of my favorites a mere 20 minute drive from where I live.

Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival

In Ringoes, NJ, the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival has been growing over the years, and this weekend will mark their 22nd annual event.

While the festival is primarily focused on the sheep and livestock competitions, it attracts a number of vendors selling yarn and fiber that keeps me coming back each year.

In fact the yarn I'm using for the biased scarves I'm making...

 ...comes from Amber at Taylored Fibers, so I will be stopping by her booth this weekend to pick up some more.  Her superfine alpaca is soft and luxurious and makes a beautiful product.

If Hayes isn't too tired from his West Coast travels, and his flights experience no unexpected delays, I'm hopeful I'll get to see him on Sunday for the event.

Anyone else planning on being there?

Current Knitting

With my first craft show scheduled in just over a month, I've switched from knitting scarves to knitting West Coast Watch Caps.

I have an inventory of over 50 scarves to sell at this point, so I figured adding a dozen or so colorful knitted caps that I can sell rather inexpensively, will help make the venture financially viable.

We'll see!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Does Anybody Know How To Create an Index Anymore?

Lately, I've noticed that using an index in a manual or reference book is practically useless.

Latest Example

Having recently bought a new car with tons of bells and whistles, it's sometimes nice to be able to find out exactly how to use a bell or whistle correctly.  Even though most car manuals are now available in soft-copy form and are electronically searchable (making the Index irrelevant),  I decided to order a hard-copy version of my car manual to keep inside the glove compartment...because I'm old-fashioned that way.

Recently Thaddeus was a passenger and asked me how the rear-view camera angles worked and what each of the three options meant.

So, in the alphabetical index, for the manual, what letter would you look up?

 - R? - rearview camera, rear camera, reverse camera
 - C? - camera
 - B? - backup camera
 - A? - angle of camera

No, of course not you idiot.  You'd look it up under "M"

Yes, "M" - for multi-view camera

I know this sounds picky, but I have tried to use the manual's Index four times now, and have yet to ONCE find what I was looking for in the Index.  Every time, I had to scan through the manual to find what I was looking for and try to reverse-engineer where to find it in the Index.

And this isn't the only example...another two books I use pretty regularly have one of the most useless indices I've ever used.

I know most people prefer soft-copies, but if you're going to include a fucking index in a book or manual, please make it a useful one.  Don't just settle on some automated index-generating software.

Current Knitting

Finished the Sock-Ease crochet scarf and now have to price and log it into Craft-Show Inventory.

I've very pleased with how the various colors of Sock-Ease have mixed quite quell in this scarf.  I may have to consider writing up this crochet pattern.

I also finished a Tweed Lace scarf that I started a while ago.

Simple stitch pattern that looks pretty good on both sides, although definitely better on the front-side.

And I haven't given up on the endless garter stitch Biased Scarf.

I put the first/finished scarf in the bottom of the photo so you could see I'm about halfway through the second one.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

A New Career!!

Well perhaps it's just an expansion of a hobby...or a new twist to an existing obsession.

Craft Show Knitter

In the past, I've dabbled with selling some of my hand knits at craft shows, but there was never much effort involved.  I've decided to dust off the DoublePointed Designs moniker and start participating in a very limited number of craft shows in my local area.

In preparation for displaying my wares to a public audience, I've been a little surprised at how much goes into just having a simple table at these established market fairs...or at least a display that I could be proud of.

Just to apply to be in some of these shows, I needed to send a photograph of my display...so I had to get together a display table rather quickly.  Here's what I've come up with so far.

It's really just a short 4 foot table with two display busts and a hanging rack for displaying scarves, but all that went into just deciding on those aspects of the display took a surprising amount of time.  And that doesn't go into the list of items I need, like purchase receipt books, price tags, charge card swipe apps, bags, etc. etc.

I obviously didn't want to spend a ton of money, in case I find out I hate attending craft shows, or that I hate knitting items for sale, but I also didn't want my display to look cheap.

I also figured I could use the display busts to have better blog photos!

I quite love this pair of these egg-head displays...one is considered male and the other female.

I've decided to only do craft shows in the last four months of each year, and this year, I have limited myself to two shows, so I can see how well I enjoy them:

Flemington Marketplace - Hunterdon Fair Grounds, Ringoes, NJ
Saturday/Sunday, October 22/23, 2016

The Fine Crafts and Arts Show - Prallsville Mill, Delaware River Mill Society, Stockton, NJ
Saturday/Sunday,  December 3/4, 2016

Come say hi and shop for holiday gifts at either venue!

Current Knitting

I have done a bit more knitting on the latest biased scarf/wrap, but I got a bit bored with all the garter stitch and started a new scarf project using up some of the leftover Lion Brand Yarns Sock-Ease yarn.

This one is actually crocheted, but has a somewhat similar look to the Cross-Stitch Scarf design.  How much would you charge for this scarf at a craft show if you were me?