Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Have I Done!

It's official, I've posted a request for test knitters for my dishcloth pattern on the Ravelry site Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Test Knitters/Crocheters.


I'm very hopeful that there will be some brave and daring soul that will be willing to invest their time and materials to make this dream of mine come true.  (I currently have crossed my fingers, toes and eyes.)

I'll write more as details follow-wish me good luck.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wanna Be Designer

It's been awhile since I posted to my blog.  I'm not sure whether it's because I don't have much to say or whether I feel that what I have to say is unimportant; however, I decided that if I could post at least once a month I might become more inclined to get into blogging.  With that in mind, here goes.

After an extremely frustrating time at work, I decided to get off my duff and work on designing a few knitting patterns.  In truth, owning a knitting shop, teaching people to knit and designing knitting patterns has been my dream job for a number of years.  But as with most adults, sometimes the dream gets put on the back shelf - you raise a family, build a career; and in general, just go through your life one day at a time.

This week, I started working on my first knitting pattern.  Yes, it's a no brainer-or I thought so.  It's pretty evident that the creative side of my brain hasn't been used for a very long time.  When I first started knitting, graphs were not something that most knitters used just pages and pages of written instructions all detailed row by row.  Now, knitters are using more graphs to represent knitting patterns and since my brain evidently doesn't have a working visual perceptual cell in it, this has proven to be a challenge.  Let me try to explain, when I was a kid in school and the standardized tests showed a flat "box" with the folding lines and you were to determine which shape it would be-my brain decided "all of them".  That's the challenge.

So I set down at my computer, opened up a Excel sheet and started putting the vision in my head on a screen.  Stepped away and voila-what appeared to be a pattern emerged.  Next step, trying to determine if the graph would actually turn into a finished product.  With yarn, hooks, needles (this is a knooking pattern-knitting with a crochet hook) in hand, I started working with the graph-can you say oops.  Yes there were mistakes; yes, I had to go back to the drawing board several times; but, I have a working graph and a potential project.

The next big challenge is converting those little squares on my graph to written instructions for those knitters who prefer the line by line, stitch by stitch instructions. (I know that this is going to get ugly.)

After that, locating some poor willing soul to "test" knook/knit my pattern to see if it actually produces the same product.

I have to admit that the whole process has been wonderfully frustrating.  By that I mean, that it has challenged me in a very unique way, made me feel a little bit better about my abilities to design a more complex pattern in the future and given me a sense of satisfaction that my normal every day job hasn't done in a very long time.  Could it replace my current job?  Who knows.  I'm sure that one little small town woman currently living in a large city has a minuscule chance of being found-but what's that old saying--No Pain No Gain.

So if you are a knitter or knooker and are feeling the desire to take on a challenge of testing my new pattern, leave a comment.  I promise I'll get back to you.

Now, back to the drawing board-just had another visual pop into my head and I need to get it down on paper before it disappears.  Talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Spinner's Dream Fulfilled

It's been many months since I posted.  Not sure why I  didn't have much to say; but sometimes life is just like that. 

This past month, I was able to achieve a lifetime dream.  When I was a young mother living in a small town in Missouri, I had a desire to  learn how to spin.  But as with most young families, the price of a spinning wheel was out of the budget.  Throughout my life this dream was put aside from raising a family to establishing my career, it was always placed on the back burner.

Several years ago, I learned about drop spindles and I was finally in spinning heaven.  Even though the process was slow, I began to love the feel of the wooden spindle and fiber in my hands.  I saw the results of my spinning in the lovely yarn that I learned how to ply and later knit into gifts for friends and family.

Finally, on June 1st, my dream came true.  I purchased my lovely spinning wheel. 

The wheel is made by an entrepreneur in Cleveland, Texas by the name of Jerry Hillman and his company is called Bluebonnet Spinning Wheel Company.  I wanted to spend my money with an small company.  I read how the wheels were made from solid wood by an owner who had learned how to work with wood from his family.  A true artist.  I purchased my lovely wheel a model called the Bumblebee from this gentlemen.  All I can say, is that his customer service was exceptional.  He shipped the wheel carefully packaged with instructions on how to finish and assemble, answered any questions I had through email or personally on the phone.  It's very rare that you find this kind of customer service now days.

The minute that I knew that I was going to order this spinning wheel, I began to look for an appropriate name.  The name had to be some version of the word bee.  After all, Debra also means the bee.  So I started my search.  Much to my surprise, I found an Old English word that meant bee - Dumbledore.  How appropriate, one of my favorite characters out a series of books I adore - so my wheel became know as Dumbledore long before he arrived on my doorstep.

I remember my excitement the day the wheel arrived.  I couldn't wait to begin applying coats of wax to preserve the lovely grain of the wood.  I waited with anticipation until my next day off work to begin assembling my spinning wheel.  

It took me a few days to coordinate my feet, hands and head in the spinning process.  It's much like talking, walking, chewing bubblegum,  patting your head and rubbing your stomach all at the same time.  So after a few "bad" words loads of grumbling,  it finally came together.  I was sitting at the wheel concentrating so hard that I didn't even notice until my husband walked into the room and said "looks like your spinning".  Imagine my surprise.

So now that I have bent your ear about my new love, let me share a few photos.


Friday, April 8, 2011

The Knitting Lesson

Do you remember the first time you learned to knit?  Do you remember your first teacher?  Can you recall the frustration?  Remember the pride of completing your first project? 

I remember my first knitting lesson.  My mother was our Blue Bird leader and she decided to teach her little group how to knit slippers.  I'm not sure how she did it.   But by the end of the lesson, we could cast on, knit and purl - what an accomplishment.

The first knitting lesson my grandchildren was in August of 2005.  If you remember, Katrina was hitting New Orleans full force and my family had come to stay with us in Tennessee.  Well, needless to say, they were a very confused and stressed so grandma pulled out the "kid" size plastic needles, the inexpensive "Red Heart" yarn and started teaching the knitting stitch.  We had the typical pitfalls of new knitters:  more stitches that we started with; big holes where stitches were dropped and the occasional knitting needle falling out.   By the time they returned to New Orleans a few days later, they were not exactly knitting but were definitely having fun.

This past week, I returned to New Orleans for a visit.  It has been nearly 6 years since I have seen my grand kids.  The first thing they wanted to do was knit.  Of course the previous lessons had been forgotten.  But grandma had yarn, knitting needles and 3 days for wooly fun.

Katie was the first to start.  Katie is 14 and very tall and slender.  Her hands are very delicate and can always be seen sitting quietly in her lap.  She is soft spoken and kind.  Since I have been trying to learn Portuguese style knitting, I cast on a few stitches and got her started on the purl stitch.  Within a matter of minutes she was breezing along. After a few minutes, she had developed her own "variation" of Portuguese knitting was was engrossed in her project.  By the time I left, she could cast on, knit, purl, cast off and sew a seam.   You could see the pride in her face. 

Lindsay is the baby.  She is short, petite and has very tiny hands.  So we got her started the same way as her sister; but, because her hands are so small she struggled.  Then I had an "ah ha" moment.  So we stuck the left needle between her knees and started worked with the right needle.  Similar to the process used when knitting with a knitting sheath or pouch.  She looked up and said "look grandma, I can do it to".  So off she went to find her "comfy" space on the sofa dragging her ball of yarn on the floor.  Lindsay was able to cast on, knit and purl and with the help of her big sister could cast off and sew a seam. 

Finally there was Kody.  Kody has a tendency to give up when things get hard and for him knitting was hard.  Too many motions, too many steps, too much distraction.   He expects perfection the first time - so much like his dad.   So we went back to the "throwing" style of knitting.  He immediately said, :grandma this is how I learned it in Tennessee, I remember this".  He was still knitting in the typical Kody way.  Knit for 2 minutes-go outside and throw the basketball.  Play with the dog.  Play his Game Boy.  Pick up the knitting.  It appears that his specialty is multi-tasking. 

So there we sat, grandma, three kids in our own  private knitting circle.  For 3 glorious days, we laughed, knitted, cooked, joked around and had a great time.  When I left to go home, I was the proud owner of 3 wrist warmers.

For me, the chance to pass along knitting to them was a privilege and an honor.  The time spent was one of pure joy.  I hope that someday they will fondly recall the time when they learned to knit as I do.  Maybe they will even take it up again when they are older and tell their friends of how they learned to knit.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coming Unraveled

Every once in a while, I have to unravel my knitting.  I'm sure that others have had that "experience" as well.  This week, I experienced unraveling on a different level.

While my husband and I were out to dinner, we were approached by an elderly gentlemen.  He was neatly dressed, clean shaven, caring a walking stick.  He had a pleasant smile and a very pleasant manner.  He sat down at our table and asked very simply.  "I need a to get home."  Needless to say, this threw both of us for a curve.  First of all, we didn't know this gentlemen.  And since we live in a large city with a reputation of being one of the top 10 most dangerous places in the U.S., we were leary of him. 

As I watched him and listened to his conversations, it became apparent  that he was lost on many levels other than physically.  He spoke of leaving the house that morning to take a walk (it was now 930 pm) and how he had taken a wrong turn.  He knew his address; however, we were not familiar with where it might be located.  As he continued to ask for help, he became a little bit more agitated.  Exactly like when I start to unravel a knitting project and my frustration begins to rise to the surface.

Our first response was to contact the management of the restaurant and ask that they contact someone to assist him (like the police).  Unfortunately, they didn't get the subtle message of him being confused and disoriented; and just continued to ask him silly questions like did he know his address.  

So, just like with unraveling a knitting project we began to untie the knots and untangle the mess.  We asked several individuals in the restaurant if they knew where this street might be.  A lovely young woman came up to say she knew where his address was and that she would take him home.  The lovely gentlemen was very excited and rose to leave with her.  A few minutes later, he came back in the restaurant to shake our hand and thank us.  In that short moment of time, he again was lost...couldn't remember which young lady in the restaurant was going to give him a ride and started approaching individuals who had just come through the door asking where their car was so that they could take him home.   Again for him life was unraveling.

On this day, I saw a life unravel a little bit, the threads of sanity become tangled, the knots of fear start to rise; but I also saw the strength of kindness and caring of a young mother who took the time to untangle this little life that was unraveling just like I'm sure she does in her daily life.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Junk Mail Junky

Am I the only person in the universe that looks forward to junk mail?  Not just any junk mail of course, but any catalog or brochure that is related to wooly bits.  I love to look at the patterns, colors of the yarn, the titles of new books.  I lust after the floor weaving looms.  (Even though the place I currently live couldn't hold one.)  I drool over spinning wheels, drop spindles, niddy noddies, and skein winders.  I consider how long it will take me to save for the one ounce of Qiviut, Buffalo, or Yak.   Maybe it's the possibilities that I find so intriguing. 

My love of junk mail and the possibilities has me wanting to order more catalogs.  But I can justify this.  I'm keeping my local mail carrier employed.  Okay, sure, I'm killing a few more trees--unless of course the paper is being recycled.  But those possibilities are so hard to ignore.

Has my problem become serious; is it impacting my family, career; do I need a twelve-step program or an intervention; do I care?  No not really.  Got to go, hubby just brought in the latest Knit Picks catalog....must check out the newest possibilities and plan the upcoming and future WIP.