Thursday, October 31, 2013

Indie Designers Giftalong on Ravelry

A couple weeks ago, an idea was born in one of the Ravelry forums where designers hang out. What if we all banded together for one big pre-Christmas/Chanukah/Festive sale and knit/crochet-along? Like many great ideas, it snowballed, picking up speed and participants by the minute (not hour or day!). And so was born the Indie Design Gift-along.

What it boils down to is this: hundreds of independent designers are offering patterns at a 25% discount between Nov 1-Nov 15, 2013.

To make it more fun, we're having a knit/crochet-along for participants between Nov 1st-Dec 31st (because you know a few of us will be knitting well into the wee post-holiday hours trying to finish up those wooly gifts).

And no gift-along would be complete without prizes. And woah Nelly, do we have lots of prizes! And lots of ways to win those prizes. Prizes for progress pictures, random prizes, Guess the Designer prizes.

I'll have 6 of my patterns discounted. You'll be able to tell which ones are participating because the main pattern picture will have golden "gift-along" sales tag on it:

You'll see the gift-along tag on the Ravatars of participating designers. You can even grab your own snazzy Gift-along Ravatar to show the Ravelry world that you're knitting away on your holiday gifts (or treating yourself to something!). 
Maroo Mitts by Ambah

Personally, I want to make a pair of Maroo Mitts. I know the recipient will just love them.  
PS. I'm the recipient! ;-)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blanket Fort Sunday

It's overcast and chilly this fine(?) Sunday morning. The kids have the right idea:

PS. The laundry basket in the lower left corner? That's what I get to do today.

Friday, October 25, 2013


”Miss Marple pulled down the mass of pink wool that encircled her head, a pink wool scarf of the same kind that she had once worn in the West Indies.
‘One of my names,’
she said, ‘is Nemesis.’
- from Agatha Christie’s novel, Nemesis

Nemesis, with a pink wooly scarf.
 I love the way Agatha Christie incorporates knitting in her novels, especially the Miss Marple series. The pink wool scarf mentioned in the quote above actually features in two of the Miss Marple stories: A Caribbean Mystery and Nemesis.

Nemesis is also the name of my newest sock pattern, which was just released yesterday. It's a fairly straight forward cabled sock pattern. The cables are 1/1, which means it's a perfect project for those new to cabling or for anyone wishing to practice cabling without a cable needle. The stitch pattern is a 12 row repeat and only 4 rows have cables in them.

Sale: Oct 24-26th, Nemesis is only $1.50

E-book Details:
This pattern is part of an e-book series, The Agatha Christie Series, Volume 1. Follow along as I create designs inspired by Agatha Christie novels.

There are currently 5 patterns included in this e-book: 4 sock patterns and 1 shawl pattern. One more sock pattern will be added by December 1st. When you purchase the e-book you will automatically receive the new patterns when they are released and added to the e-book. In total, there will be 6 patterns in the e-book.

This e-book represents a significant savings over purchasing the patterns separately. And the earlier you buy, the more you save.

Buy in October 2013: $14   ($2.33/pattern)
Buy in November 2013: $16  ($2.66/pattern)
Buy in December 2013: $18  ($3.00/pattern)

Currently published in the e-book (in addition to Nemesis):
The Vicar's Wife
The Man in the Brown Suit  (photo courtesy of Holly Isaac)

Styles Court

Joanna Lymstock

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NMO and a chance to win yarn, patterns and socks

The internet, and more specifically Ravelry, has brought me in touch with so many lovely people. People I would never have met in real life.

Occasionally I get overwhelmed by all the negative stories in the media, on blogs or which people share in the various forums I read on Ravelry. That's when I try to think about the good people I've met and heartwarming stories I've read. People who have persevered through personal trials and survived, even thrived sometimes. People who've come together on Ravelry to help out a single mother or victim of domestic violence. Sometimes the support is a stream of encouraging words, sometimes it's clothes or toys (for the kids), and sometimes the support is monetary.

I've sent money and clothes to Ravelry community members. I do it because I've been very fortunate in life. I have a well paying job (as does my husband. I have a house, a healthy family, great friends and I live in a country where health care is free (although paid for with taxes). So I pay it forward when I can to people or causes which I find worthwhile. I want to know my resources are helping people directly, not funding administrative overhead.

To that end, I share with you some information from one of my Ravelry friends, Stacey. Stacey has NMO and is raising funds for NMO research. Even if you don't or can't contribute, I hope you'll at least find the information about NMO interesting.

From Stacey:

NMO stands for  euromyelitis optica, originally known as Devic’s Disease. NMO is a rare, incurable autoimmune disorder. (There are an estimated 4,000 cases in the United States and a half million worldwide) The body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells, most commonly in the optic nerves and spinal cord. It can cause temporary or permanent blindness and/or paralysis, and may have periods of remission and relapse. 

The Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation ( was started when Bill Guthy and Victoria Jackson's daughter was officially diagnosed with NMO in June 2008. Because NMO is considered an orphan disease, there is little or no research funding available. The Guthy Jackson Foundation puts 100% of donations into research. That's right 100%. They even "pay back" the paypal fees that they incur with donations out of their operating budget.

How do you get a chance to win?

Click here to go to the Guthy Jackson donation page, choose “Memorial Donation” and put Stacey Pope in the “purpose” section.  For every $10 you donate, you’ll get one entry. If you share this contest on Facebook, Twitter or wherever (and let me know), you’ll get another entry.
Deadline to enter is November 1, 2013 (12 noon Texas time) and I’ll be announcing the winners on November 2, 2013.
  • Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Green w/Envy and any one of Maureen Foulds patterns (left)
  • Approximately 2310 yards of Cash DK (merino/cashmere/nylon) in the Superhero Collin color way. (center)
  • Beaverslide Dry Goods 2 ply sport/sock yarn in Hidden Lake and any one of Maureen Foulds patterns (right)
  • A pair of hand knit socks from Maureen! Even better, they will be the prototype for her next design! (measurements will be needed by 11/8 and socks will be sent in late January/ early February)

PS. I asked Stacey what she meant by an "orphan disease". Here's what she said:

Orphan disease: a rare disease that only affects a small percentage of the population(i.e. only estimated at 4000 people for NMO). It's a nicer way of saying there is a lack of treatment and resources because it's so rare.

Basically: "A condition for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available in the United States a drug for such disease or condition will [be] recovered from sales in the United States of such drug"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Toe up socks for everyone!

Back in September I announced that I’ll be attempting to make my sock patterns available in toe up versions as well as cuff down.

I’m pleased to share that the first two of my toe-up conversions are now available.

The Man in the Brown Suit was easy to convert. The chart can be worked from the top or bottom. It was ‘just’ the toe, heel and cuff instructions which needed to be modified.

I picked Styles Court as the next pattern to convert for two reasons. It is one of my most popular patterns (after appearing on the Yarn Harlot’s blog), and I was working with a technical editor to fix the errors in the cuff down version. So it seemed to make sense to convert it into a toe-up pattern at the same time.

Styles Court required a bit more back & forth with the tech editor. Due to basic differences in heel construction, we decided to scrap the small amount of detailing in the heel. We had a choice between complicated instructions to create the exact same look on the heel, or simple instructions for an unpatterned heel. I opted for simplicity since the impact to the overall design of the sock is minimal.

If you have purchased the cuff down version of the pattern you should receive an update notice and your Ravelry library should be automatically updated. Updates will also be available on Craftsy and Patternfish.

Happy Knitting!

Tickled pink!

I get a thrill from hearing from people who have knit, or are knitting, my patterns. I've 'met' some really nice people that way.

I heard from someone who had been really nervous about trying toe-up socks for the first time. They tried my Swirl socks and after a few challenges, typical of learning any new skill, loved the process and was thrilled to have learned something new.

Someone else learned a new, simpler heel.

Many others have commented on the Agatha Christie series, about how much they enjoy the novels. I love connecting with other people over a love of reading. Audiobooks have allowed me to combine my love of reading with my knitting, so I don't have to choose between the two.

Today, I was tickled pink to get a message from someone on Ravelry. She'd seen my pattern The Vicar's Wife, named for the characters in the first Miss Marple novel, The Murder at the Vicarage. She is a vicar's wife, a sock knitter, an Agatha Christie fan, and lives in a town in England which has a strong link to Agatha Christie.

How serendipitous is that?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I couldn't have said it better - Lace

Once again I've found a blog post which says exactly what I would have said about a certain knitting technique. This time it is Robin Hunter, talking about knitting lace in her post: 20 Tips for Knitting Lace.  Excellent tips for those new to, or nervous about, knitting lace.

Coincidentally, just like Robin, I too spent some time this summer working on some lace shawl designs. In fact, I'm knitting one right now for my mother. On our recent trip to British Columbia, we stopped in at the Sweet Georgia headquarters. Mom spotted a lovely skein of Cashsilk Lace in a soft lilac color.

After Mom subtly commented it would go perfectly with her winter coat and asking if it would make a good scarf, I offered to knit her something with it.

The Cashsilk Lace is 45% cashmere and 55% silk. With 400 yards in a 50g skein, I should be able to make a nice triangular shawlette for Mom to wrap around her neck and keep her warm this winter.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tips and Techniques: I couldn't have said it better myself

On days when I ponder what to blog about next, I think "Add value!", "Demonstrate techniques!" - all stuff I see well-known knitters doing. It's the logical thing to do from a business perspective. You need to keep providing content that keeps people coming back to your site, because presumably that's how you sell them things. Or something.

But then I look at all the content that's already out there, at one's Google fingertips. And I think - what can I really say about knitting that hasn't already been said in many ways, in many places - and said very well already. Why add to the "noise"?

I'm a trained technical writer. As part of my training I learned a few guiding principles of writing that I apply to all my writing (and life in general, sometimes). The one I always come back to is this:

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Just because you can write something in a fancy or cool looking, blinky font - doesn't mean you should. Just because you can add neat effects to a photo in Photoshop, doesn't mean you should. You need to think about what is going to be visually appealing, clear, and understandable for your audience. You don't need to distract them with cool things just because you can.

So, just because I can talk about knitting techniques, I keep telling myself I shouldn't re-invent the wheel when others have made such darn awesome wheels.

Like Tin Can Knits. They've put together The Simple Collection - a series of free, simple patterns designed to highlight basic knitting techniques. Each pattern is gorgeous, yet easy enough for beginners. And TCK provides wonderful tutorials for the techniques used in each pattern.

Today, their Rye Sock pattern is featured on their blog, along with the perfect step-by-step explanations of sock anatomy, techniques and tips for knitters new to socks. Their photos are beautiful. Their sock schematics are clear and easy to understand. And they make it easy for people to learn to knit not just socks - but anything.

So, if you're looking for the perfect entry-level sock pattern go check out Tin Can Knits' Rye Socks here.

As for me, I'll be over in my corner trying to reconcile myself to the fact that while I enjoy designing, want to be successful at at, and know that I should be emulating successful designers - my personal style is different. I want to share my love of knitting (socks), I want to share the great resources which have helped me over the years, and I want to create designs that are fun, beautiful and enjoyable to knit.

But I don't need to present myself as an expert with new & definitive things to say. I'm pretty sure wiser people than I have already said it and said it well. I think my personal style is more of an aggregator and sharer of useful information. And coincidentally, this is what I've always done in my professional life in the tech industry. I've always said, "I may not know the answers, but I know how to find the people who have the answers and connect you with them."

So go connect with Tin Can Knits' Simple Collection - they've said everything beautifully.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New sock pattern

I'm finally home after my week in the lovely and very green province of British Columbia. I had a wonderful visit with family and shopped at some lovely yarn shops (more on that later).

I can't believe it's October already. It certainly didn't look or feel like Fall in BC. Everything was so lush and green, with flowers still in bloom. Here in Ontario, the leaves are approaching their peak colors. The drive to work is filled with yellows, oranges and rich reds.

And being October 1st, it's time for the 4th pattern in my Agatha Christie Series: The Vicar's Wife.

This pattern reflects the age old May-December romance seen so often in 20th century (and earlier) British novels. The leaf motif which trails down the front of the sock reflects the blooming youth of May: fresh, energetic and hopeful - Griselda Clement in Murder in the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie. On the back of the sock is the bare Winter tree of December: the aged and sensible Vicar Leonard Clement, her husband.

Add a whimsical touch by duplicate stitching one of the leafs on the front of the sock. Will it be green – vibrant and alive, or the yellow, orange or red of Fall as winter approaches?

This pattern is available for $1.00 until Sunday, October 6th. Then it goes up to the regular price of $3.75. Or, buy the e-book for savings on more great patterns.

E-book Details:
This pattern is part of an e-book series, The Agatha Christie Series, Volume 1. Follow along as I create designs inspired by Agatha Christie novels. There are currently 4 patterns included in this e-book: 3 sock patterns and 1 shawl pattern. Two more sock patterns will be added over the next 2 months. When you purchase the e-book you will automatically receive the new patterns when they are released and added to the e-book.

This e-book represents a significant savings over purchasing the patterns separately. And the earlier you buy, the more you save.

Buy in October 2013: $14
Buy in November 2013: $16
Buy in December 2013: $18

The pattern instructions are provided for four sizes, small, (medium, large, extra large), with an 7.75” (8.5, 9.5, 10.5”) leg circumference, blocked.

Skill level: Advanced Beginner, some lace and simple cabling

  • Approximately 400-450 yards (399-411m) of Squeaky Elliot Yarn, Squishy Merino sock yarn (1 skein= 399yd/365m per 100g), or any yarn of similar yardage. This pattern will look best in tonal or solid colors so as not to obscure the pattern.
  • 1 set of 5 US #1 (2.5 mm double-point needles, or size needles required to obtain gauge.
  • Tapestry needle
Pattern notes:
This sock is knit from the cuff down. However, experienced knitters can easily use the charts to knit toe up socks using their favorite toe, heel, and cuff methods.