Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sisterhood of the Stashdown Scarf – Part 1

As you know if you have been on the Bus Full of Yarn before, many of us have a commitment to using up some of the yarn in our stash.  We chat a lot about yarn, our stash, what we are working on…  We chat a lot.  One day, the chatter went back to our swap and how much fun that was.  First – a little history on the swap.

Twelve of us signed up in May of 2012 for a secret swap within our Ravelry group.  Patty was in charge of drawing names for us and sharing addresses.  Then pandemonium ensued.  We started a thread where we asked and answered random and not-so-random questions about the wants, needs and allergies of the group.  Then packages were posted and flew around the world and photos started coming in of the packages that people were receiving.

A collage of some swap gifts from the Super Secret 2012 Swap

As we were discussing the thought of having another swap next year, several of us expressed our disappointment in waiting until 2013 to do the swap again.  We came up with 2 ideas of how to get through until the next swap.

  1. A traveling project for everyone to work on
  2. A traveling finished object for everyone to take a picture with and pass on

Of course, we decided to do both.  The first to happen will be the Stashdown Scarf.  I had about 4 inches of a scarf that I started, but I don’t know what the pattern is and I have no intention of finishing it.

Stashdown Scarf

The beginning of something wonderfully hideous

Off it went this morning, this little bit of knitted softness.  It will travel the world for the next several months, visiting many friendly hands in various countries all over the world.  Its journey will be recorded here with photos as it goes.  I wish it safe travels and much fun along the way!

 

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Sziasztok! (means Hello)

I’m Klara, and I’m the new girl. New in this blog, but also roughly new to knitting – it started less than 2 years ago.

I am Hungarian, but my family moved to Belgium 3 years ago, and it was tough. I lived abroad before, but I didn’t know that having 1.5 children would make such a big difference. It’s just difficult to raise a kid in a country where you have communication problems and it’s very lonely to be at home with a baby when everybody you know has a job or is 1350 km away.

What saved me was a freshly organized mother-baby club, that provided new friendships and endless information. And God, I needed both of them. There was an answer for almost every question and there were lots of questions. Like where to find a creative hobby store around the city. Or a fabric store. And it turned out that there are a lot of creative moms; sewers, quilters, crocheters, all in need of company. So we made a sub-group, to share books, patterns and addresses. I was a passionate sewer that time, did cross-stitch, developed interest in quilting and still had no intention to buy anything but fabric.

But one February day one of the girls arrived to a club meeting with 6 pairs of needles and some leftover yarn and was willing to teach anyone how to knit.  I bought some yarn in a flea market and was ready with my first hats in 2 weeks (imagine 2 squares sewn together. I also attached some weird rabbit ears, so I was very proud. Yes, it’s the one below.) Then in March I registered on Ravelry and paid my first visit at my LYS. I cast-on my first dress just 3 weeks later. And since then I’m in. I’m deep.

Image

The Hat

I will never finish the quilt I was working on and I only sew when there is a specific need for it. Or when I make project bags. I haven’t touched my beautiful (also: enormous) cross-stitch project since. Instead, I knit. A lot. I’m a knitter forever.

Suprisingly, my sheep aren’t that cold

I thought this “going cold sheep” thing would be a lot harder than it is.  Do you know how much yarn I have?  (Well, yes you do – I posted a photo of my Ravelry stash count in Kelly’s Confessional.)  I am not going to experience a shortage of things to knit.

Unexpected bonus: “Hello creativity, my name is Kelly”.  I have been thinking differently, more broadly about what I might knit and which yarn I might choose.  I like it and I don’t feel compelled to buy more yarn.  I do know that I plan on purchasing a rich, heathery chocolate-brown for a cowl and legwarmers (yes, legwarmers – back off) as a gift to myself in early December.  But, I don’t feel rushed to do it now.

I had the notion to go into 2013 with the purpose of using reclaimed yarn.  I posted this thought in one of our (humorously failing) stashdown threads at the Back of the Bus and was surprised by the response.  Most of the gals said it would be too hard.  I don’t know if this comes from a place where they truly think I won’t be able to do it or an unfounded fear that I might ask them to join in.  I won’t.

I am in love with the idea of creating beauty from an unloved item.  We live in an age of toss-away consumerism that makes me sad and sick.  I love beautiful yarn as much as the next fiber-crazed addict and I don’ t plan to stop buying the pretty.  But, I do plan to take that thrift shop sweater and make it into the most amazing cabled hat you’ve ever seen.  My son will have some wicked cool sweaters knit up out of Goodwill dogs.

Just you wait and see.

Kind regards,

Kelly

Does This Test Require a #2 Pencil?

On Ravelry, there is a group called Free Pattern Testers.  The description tied to Free Pattern Testers is “This group is for helping budding designers and willing testers to come together and help each other in an open barter system.  Testers get the benefit of getting free patterns and designers get the benefit of free testing. ”  Isn’t that nice?  Shall we all join hands now and sing a few rounds of Kumbayah?

Leaf Peeper Cowl

Maura’s most recent test knit

The reality is that this group is run by very, very strict rules.  These rules govern the designers and the testers and heaven help you if you don’t follow these rules.  There is a system of strikes and if you get 3 strikes, you get banned from the group.  The demi-gods of FPT patrol all of the many current tests and verify that each detail is following the stated protocol.  I can imagine that this is stressful for the designers as much as it is for the testers.

Kelly Says:

Generally, I quite enjoy being a pattern tester, assuming it is something I would knit anyway.

  • I don’t (generally) have an excess of WIPS so I can usually focus on the test knit and come in ahead of the deadline.
  • I write training documentation for a living, so I can catch words/phrases/formatting which isn’t as usable as one might hope.
  • I usually take “okay” photos so the designer will have a FO (finished object) attached to their pattern which looks relatively nice, out of quality yarn at launch.  This is big in the world of Ravelry; people don’t knit patterns that haven’t been knit.

However, I fled FPT and I will not be lured back.  There is a vast difference between “running a tight ship” and “a ship run by control freak whackjobs”.  Okay, I (wildly) exaggerate.  But seriously… I once used bullet points and got a nastygram.  I once emailed back-and-forth with a designer about a pattern outside of the forum which resulted in a nastygram.  I forgot to link to a tester’s Ravelry profile (say it with me folks!) and I got a nastygram.

Quite frankly, too much nasty – not enough nice.

I will likely lose out on the opportunity to test some really swank designs, but let’s face it – my queue is huge already.  I don’t really need more to choose from.  And, I already have a full complement of control freak whack jobs in my life, I don’t really need more.

Maura Says:

I have not had any problems in the FPT group.  However, I am fairly careful about what I test.  I have done 2 tests for the same person because I like how she writes patterns and what the objects are.  I usually test only small objects, like hats or cowls.  Because I always have at least 5 projects on the needles (ouch!), one more doesn’t concern me.  Now, if I were to take on testing of a large project, I would probably fail miserably.  I can’t work on any one thing monogamously for any length of time.  I would definitely be kicked out of the group!

I am not a frequent tester, nor do I want to be.  I have run into some really poorly written patterns which makes me really cranky.  I like my patterns to be very clear, without spelling or punctuation errors.  I think that is fairly uncommon, though.  I will keep testing, but I will probably not do any large projects.  I know myself too well.  And I don’t deal with nastygrams well.

There you have it, two perspectives on ‘Free Pattern Testing’ within Ravelry.  Have you survived this group?  Do you bear scars and have tales to tell?  If so, we want to hear.  If not, we want to hear that too!

Repost: Virtual Friends

Here is a post from my personal blog about the ladies on the Back of the Bus. I could have said so much more…

WinterZenspirations

It is a brave new world out there.  As with most of my posts, I am going to go back to my childhood to recall what it was like then.  I am not old but things really were so different then.  Every year or two, we would take a vacation that did not involve going to Arizona to visit my grandparents.  A lot of these vacations involved camping in nearby states.  Camping was loading up the tent, coolers full of food, a wash basin, a couple of 20 gallon jugs of water.  We would go deep into the mountains and camp in ‘rough’ sites.  Rough sites are those that have a port-a-potty set up.  And that’s it.  You may have a fire ring left by the previous campers, but that is all.  Sometimes, we would be camping near other families and campers are a friendly lot.  We would share dinner…

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Process or product

Reading Maura’s last lovely post about the joys of yarn potential got me thinking about product knitting vs process knitting. Is the joy in knitting having a beautiful finished object, that’s just as you envisaged it, and that you (or the recipient) will treasure ? Or is it in the act of creating; the meditative nature of knitting; the thrill of learning? Or is both?

So which are we? Product knitters? Or Process knitters? And which are YOU?

Rachel
I’m a process knitter. I love learning new things and I love the physical act of knitting. It’s not that I don’t love having finished objects, but they’re not the sole motivation.  Here’s an example. I finished a lace shawl a couple of years ago. It was the most complicated thing I’d ever knitted, and I was ridiculously, crazily, unrepentantly proud of it.  Here it is:

Well, not that long after I’d finished it, my daughter, then aged about 5, was playing with it in the dining room.  She laid it out on the floor, and then she put a chair with thin metal legs on top of it.  And then she sat on the chair, and tried to pull the shawl up over her knees…  You can guess the rest!
I surprised myself by how NOT upset I was: I’d enjoyed knitting it, I’d learnt a lot, and I could live without the shawl.   So now I don’t fret too much about how many WIPs I have; I don’t despair if I have to frog something; and I don’t cry when the kids lose or destroy the things I make. I still love me a pretty FO but it’s not the be all and end all!

Carolyn

I’m still so new to knitting that I haven’t quite made up my mind about this, but I probably lean more towards the Product Knitter side. I feel like whether you’re a Process or Product knitter can better be described as which shade of grey are you? Where do you fit on the Process vs Product scale because to some extent we have to be a little bit of both right? (even 5% Product and 95% Process) if you’re as obsessed with knitting as we are, it would seem like that might be the only way you would stick with it for so long. Originally I was a 99% Product knitter. I took up knitting specifically to make myself a pair of gloves (seems innocent enough) but I have slowly transitioned to being about 60% Product and 40% Process. I really enjoy the process of knitting, obviously, and it has gotten a lot more fun as I have become more proficient at it. However, that being said, I LOVE finishing things. I never cast off an item and let it sit around for days  (let alone weeks or months) without the ends woven, and I HAVE to get it blocking as soon as the weather permits. Making things out of balls and strings and actually having them be loved and be useful is what it’s about for me. Being able to say I made that, Me! really makes it special.

Maura

I have to stick with the fact that I am pretty much in the process knitter group.  I remember being in college and my professor of Art, who was married to my professor of Drawing (a whole different story…), spoke frequently at great length about process versus product.  Are you creating Art for art’s sake or for Art for the audience?  Are you being true to the art and to yourself by making art to sell to someone who asks you to make something specific?  As you can imagine, I come to knitting (or quilting or home decor) as an art form.  I do it for myself – I am extremely selfish.  I only do that which brings me joy, that which feeds my soul.  Most of my finished objects are sent out to someone else and I usually don’t know who it will be until the item is finished.  Many times, I make something just as an experiment – to see how the pattern works, how a stitch works, how easily I can do it.  Then in the middle, the pattern and the yarn start telling me who needs to receive this object.  If the object has no home, it stays with me and I look at it with a sense of nostalgia – Wasn’t that fun to make?

Kelly

Well, I guess my little evil, greedy comes out again.  I am so far down the product scale it is scary.

I. Want. The. Thing.

I choose patterns because I think they are pretty/comfy/fun/cute/wearable/useful/gorgeous/popular.  I can’t think of even once where I have chosen a pattern to learn a skill…  Oh, that is sad.  This should have been immediately apparent to anyone who knows me, and how hard it is to give FOs (finished objects) away.  Only the truly knitworthy…

Genevieve

I adore the process of knitting but I think ultimately I’m a product girl.  Sometimes it’s only knowing what is awaiting me at the end of all the hard work that really keeps me going when I’d rather just stash the item somewhere and forget its very existence.  Like Kelly, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a pattern simply to learn a new skill, learning new skills is simply a result of having to have that particular item. Now.

What can I say, I’m a little bit of a material girl! (see what I did there? Ahem)

Obsessing

Today, I am supposed to be putting together photos of my stash and my WIP’s that I took yesterday.  I should be declaring my devotion to finishing the projects on the needles and to not purchasing any new yarn until such a time as I have a) finished some of the ongoing projects and b) gotten some of this yarn out of my living room.  Well, that is just not happening.

A portion of the stash

Instead, I have chosen to go a little to the right… or left… or whatever… in true Back of the Bus style.  (I never could turn any homework in on time in high school either.)  What happened is this.  I was taking lunch in my living room away from my office in my kitchen and knitting the band of a hat.  I have several episodes of the podcast Cast-On in my iTunes library.  I am a recent convert to listening to Cast-On and have been doling them out like lemon drops – one over the course of a couple of days.  I am now caught up to 2006.  Today’s lunch listening was Episode 41 with a hilarious conversation between Brenda and her sister Pam.  But then there was the guest essay about when did knitting become an obsession.  I found myself nodding along with the essayist and thinking about my own fall into fiber obsession.

I like to blame Sue, my sister-in-law, as she is the person who taught me to knit.  However, my knitting bug has far surpassed hers.  What is different between her and me?  Why is knitting to her a hobby and to me a full out passion to Knit. All. Things?  I have a theory on that.  It is that knitting was waiting for me.  Stalking me.  Standing back patiently until the time was right.  I can remember being exposed to fiber craft as a child.  My mother made many, if not all, of my clothes when I was small and continued until I got married – making all of the bridesmaids’ dresses.  She did macrame when it was popular in the ’70’s and I knew a little bit.  I started young, sewing and embroidering, playing with string, yarn, beads.  In college, I drew and painted, getting my degree in Art.  In my 20’s, I taught myself to quilt.  It came to me as if I had been doing it my entire life.  In quilting, art and fabric combine in a very logical and mathematic way.  But I stopped when I had children.  Quilting with 3 small kids is not practical or easy.  So I stopped.  And I did nothing artistic for several years.

Kyle's Quilt

Kyle’s Quilt

Then along came Sue, with yarn and pointy sticks.  This knitting – it was fun, it was portable.  I could make gifts for people, hats, scarves, mitts.  And one project may take less than seven years!  Once I got on Ravelry, though, the game was changed.  I found people like me, smart, creative, funny people who had the same hobby.  Ravelry gave me friends with things in common from around the world.  People who knit things I had never thought of knitting.  They made me think … could I do that?  People who weave, who spin, who crochet.

I find myself looking at my stash laid out on my living room floor, posing for photos.  I do want to knit it all.  I want it all to be finished objects, but first I want the fun of choosing what it will be when it grows up.  Because before it can be a finished object, it has to pass through me.  And that, my friends, is where the fun is.  It is the middle part – not the yarn on my floor and not the gift given, but the part where it is on the needles, where I get to see it as it is something in between.  More than mere potential and yet less than useful.  It is, if anything, a dream – so real you can touch it, feel it.  But it is not yet reality.  And so, I find that my obsession is with that middle part.  And I give myself the freedom to have works in progress, to savor that middle part.  And obsess about what will go into that limbo next.  I am unrepentent.

Crest of the Wave Baktus

In the middle – more than potential, less than useful