When I was getting ready to go to Rhinebeck, I realized that I had nothing to wear. I’d designed a bunch of sweaters in 2013 and 2014 but I didn’t have any of them! Some knitters may not know that when you design for a publication you don’t always get your samples back and, when you do, you often don’t see them for a long time. (It’s kind of a funny surprise to get a sweater you made a year ago in the mail.)
I found out that I might be able to get Ilsa back in time to wear for the big event so I was pretty excited to show her off. But I got an email that basically said, “Vickie Howell would like to wear your cardigan for an episode of Knitting Daily TV that’s shooting just before Rhinebeck. Sorry that we can’t give it back!” And I was like, “If Vickie Howell would like to wear my design on TV, I will find a hat to wear to Rhinebeck.” This is not something that happens to a girl every day!
And she really did! The Ilsa Cardigan is featured in Episode 1402 “Thick of It” and Vickie looks great in it! It was styled so well. I love the way the bunched sleeves make it look over-sized and casual. It’s a really fun piece and I’m honored to be part of her show! Check out the trailer:
I haven’t seen the episode yet. Vickie Howell’s show for Interweave airs on your local PBS station! If you don’t get that channel or you’re too cool or cable, you can get a DVD of the complete season here. I’m going to get one for my mom so she can be proud of me forever.
Have you seen this episode of Knitting Daily TV? Were you like, “I wonder where I can find the pattern for that gorgeous cardigan”?
I hate year in review posts!!! Nostalgia is my biggest weakness and anytime I look at photographs that are older than six months, I feel incredibly sentimental and even sometimes melancholy for hours on end. (I can’t be the only one, can I?) The end of the year always feels like a tough time for me because of this constant recapping (song of the year, biggest news stories, etc) and this one is has me feeling even more wistful because of some big changes that have happened.
In spite of that, it’s essential to take inventory. I love seeing how much I was able to do in twelve months and I like thinking, “that was this year? It feels like I made that forever ago!” I always feel like I didn’t make as many things as I wanted and while that’s true of 2014, I have accomplished bigger things.
First of all, I had four original designs published this year in Knitscene and Pom Pom Quarterly. That was really exciting because I’d worked for a good part of 2013 on some of the things that I was finally able to reveal this year! While I have a hard time thinking of myself as a designer (there are so many amazing designers so much more worthy of that title than I am!), it’s amazing to have my patterns included in some of my favorite publications. Secondly, this year I started a new job working for Lion Brand Yarn Company! It’s been a big change but I couldn’t be happier. I’ll be sharing a little more of what I’m doing there in the New Year but, for the most part, things will stay the same around here.
So there are other pieces that I didn’t blog about. I’m kinda realizing that now. Oops! I guess 2015 will start with a bit more recapping. Between the big projects this year there were a a bunch of small ones like hats and mitts, some little gifts here and there. They felt like cheating but they were a nice way to relax from marathoning sweaters. But, alas, they slipped through the cracks and my camera broke so expect to see lots of accessories in the new year!
Well that’s my year. I guess I’m not feeling as nostalgic as I thought I would be. I’m mainly excited for what’s next!
Are you looking forward to next year? Do you feel like you accomplished everything you set out to do this year? Does New Year’s Eve make you super nostalgic?
I like to think that I’m a pretty expert knitter. But my great-grandmother’s work was something I can’t even describe. I never met her but I have always admired her skills.
The family story goes that Grandma Lena would knit sweaters for the soldiers during the war. She’d take whatever was given to her in the kit from the Red Cross or wherever and throw it aside in favor of smaller needles and thinner yarn. She’d make them entirely on tiny needles claiming that this would keep them much warmer than that cheap stuff. Then she’d go about making beautiful sweaters that everyone agrees probably never ended up with any privates but went straight to some lucky officer.
My parents still have a few pieces that she made for various family members and they’re absolutely gorgeous. You have to take a look. I can’t imagine this was knit on anything bigger than a size 1 needle. My wrists ache just thinking about knitting a whole vest at such a fine gauge. I’m obsessed with the way the cables decrease at the shoulders for a gorgeous neckline shaping. Isn’t that fantastic?
Here’s a detail from another sweater vest. Do you see how tiny these stitches are? I can’t even believe this was made by a human being. I’m not sure about whether she worked from a pattern. I have a sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t, though.
The cable running up the center (which you can see on the bottom of this detail) is actually one of my favorite cables. (I’ve used it on these socks.) It’s nice to know we have similar tastes.
It’s so inspiring for me to know that I come from a family of talented knitters! I’m not sure I could ever attempt a piece as detailed as Lena’s work. I’m just not patient and, frankly, I’m a little sore. But it definitely makes me want to challenge myself!
I know it’s tough to tell from my crappy iPhone photos but any guesses to what size needles she was using? Who keeps challenging you when it comes to craft?
I’m a sentimental person but I hate the obligatory “What are you thankful for?” that happens this time of year. I’m not really spiritual so I don’t know who I’m thanking for some coincidences in my life. At the same time, I’m well aware that I can’t take credit for all of the happiness that’s come to me. I really like to refer to the way I feel as lucky. Somehow the stars have aligned and things are good. That being said, giving up knitting last week was really difficult for me. By Thursday, I was having dreams about binding off intricate and gorgeous color work sweaters. Reading blogs or looking through knitting books made my heart heavy. But at the same time, sacrificing a little bit made me think about a lot of things and, in the spirit of the season, I am pretty thankful.
First of all, I’m thankful that knitting is in my life. I’m not sure I’d have the little sanity left in my without it. After I picked up knitting ten years ago, I went back and forth, sometimes not making anything for long periods of time. Over the past three or four years, knitting has become a huge part of who I am. I know I kept returning to it because I’ve always loved making things, be it with pen and paper or words or lights and film, I’m a maker. This is the best way I can make things and I’m so grateful that I’ve found it.
I’m thankful for how amazing and supportive everyone is. That means you lovely readers and all of my knitting friends. I’ve been complaining up a storm on Twitter (sorry, I’m Jewish. If something hurts, you’re going to hear about it) and not only has everyone tolerated me but they’ve given great advice. It really feels amazing that people I haven’t met in real life are asking how I’m feeling. You’re all fab. Of course, my family is always making sure that I’m not pushing it and Jon has been really strict so I don’t re-injure myself. As much as it’s driven me crazy, I’m grateful for that too.
And, as always, I’m grateful for my health. I’ve got plenty of issues when it comes to health but I’m really glad things aren’t worse. I’m so thankful that I’m not still having to take a knitting break. And if my wrists were still bad, if I had to get surgery or something (oh lord, knock on wood times a million), I’m thankful that I have healthcare and all of those things above.
I’d really be lost without my needles. And, as always, when times get tough, I know my friends will be there to help me through! I love the knitting community and I if it weren’t for you, I’d just be a crazy lady complaining about socks.
What’re you thankful for? (I mean, I have to ask.)
It’s hard to help every time disaster strikes around the world but hearing about the enormity of the damage done in the Philippines is really shocking. The knitting community is always one of the first to jump in and make a difference. Often times it means monetary donations but we love making things for those in need. That’s something that I really love – we’re givers.
I just wanted to take a minute today and shout out some ways that knitters can donate to typhoon relief. There are a lot of wonderful people donating their profits for fundraising and I love that.
Osprey in Storm
First, Quince and Co is donating 10% of their profits today to NAFCON. I would definitely get in on that today if you’re not on a yarn diet. Apparently the wonderful people at Ricefield Collective suggested that charity so I’m sure they do great work.
Speaking of Ricefield Collective, if you’re not familiar with their amazing work, you should check them out. They are already doing great things helping women in the Philippines earn money by selling gorgeous (I mean seriously gorgeous) hand knit accessories. According to their blog, the storm missed them but Ricefield will be donating 10% of sales through Thanksgiving to send aid to the effected parts. They are also collecting toys which they plan to distribute through their networks in the Philippines.
Finally, Romi Hill is donating $5 to Doctors Without Boarders for each Brandywine and Sakaki pattern purchased. She’s used these patterns in the past to raise money for DWB after the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan and has already donated over $20,000 from the sales of these patterns. Pretty incredible.
Of course, there are many other ways to help. Donating money directly to reputable charities is always an option that I know a lot of people feel most comfortable doing. Unfortunately, in times like these, it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s doing the best work. That being said, it warms my heart to see how knitters are all coming together to help in the ways they know best.
Feel free to post with other fundraisers in the comments!
First off, I am in no way a medical professional so if you’ve found this blog post because you’re Googling pain associated with knitting, go talk to your doctor.
As I mentioned last week, my wrists have been pretty unhappy for a few days. I’ve been having some awful aches in my wrists, elbows, and sometimes a bit shooting into my upper arms. When I tweeted about my plight, I was immediately met with calls to rest, ice, and stretch along with a dose of Advil. I take after the stoic women in my family who refuse to see a doctor unless something is definitely bleeding or has been broken for three weeks so it is all the more reason to take care of myself.
I think it’s important to address this here because it’s something that I haven’t dealt with so seriously up until this point and something that less experienced knitters don’t tend to think about at all. We have to take care of our little mitts. These are the only wrists we’ve got. Knitting is a full contact sport and can cause long-term damage.
I’ve been in serious denial that I was having pain related to knitting until I had to give myself time off. I was under the impression that I hadn’t knit very much last week so I didn’t know what caused all of this trouble. I stopped knitting on Thursday and was feeling better Saturday afternoon. I decided that I’d knit a little bit but, big mistake, the pain was at its worst Saturday night where I couldn’t lift a glass of water without wincing. I often sleep wrong and pull muscles in my neck and I have a job that requires heavy lifting of cumbersome pieces. I like to think I’m always lifting with my knees and being careful but other people have been injured and I’ve definitely come home sore on more than one occasion. That being said, I do spend a lot of time with my needles and many designers have given me the side eye when I tell them this is definitely not a knitting injury. Whether it is or not, maybe I’ll never know but either way, it’s time to treat this the way it deserves.
In my research and reading, here’s my best suggestions for avoiding any wrist pains ever:
1. Posture – I knit after a long day at work. I knit on the couch, sprawled out while watching a movie. Sometimes I knit crammed on a packed rush hour train. It’s really easy to forget proper posture when I’m tired but that’s the first step down a long road to permanent wrist pain. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Having good posture is important for life outside of knitting, too. Sitting up straight at work and having a chair that is the correct height is a good start and will help keep knitting from exacerbating the situation. (There are great posture tips from a physical therapist here and here!)
2. Stretch – There are so many stretching guides for knitters. You know what to do, stretch your fingers out and push them back towards your wrists lightly. Squeeze your elbows down to your wrist. (Here are some great stretches to keep your fingers limber. Thanks for passing those along, Linda!)
3. Relax – Knitting all day isn’t good for you. It’s really tempting and, let’s be honest, sometimes you have to finish a sample in time or you haven’t had time to knit all week and Sunday is free of plans! Be careful! A lot of you have suggested switching between projects with different gauges but more importantly, just put the needles down. Give yourself nice breaks to stretch and relax. Go outside or eat a sandwich or read a goddamn book. I’m going to go ahead and say don’t switch from knitting to cruising Ravelry. Typing is not going to give your wrists a break.
Now, in addition to the top three suggestions, here’s how I’ve been treating my sore wrists:
1. Support Gloves – I was wearing my Lion Brand wrist support gloves (pictured above) after the pain initially started. They’re tight and feel like your wrist is getting a hug. Some people say that if they start to feel pain, they can continue knitting after throwing a pair of these. Now that the pain’s been with me for a few days, I decided to get some more serious gloves that are a bit rigid. I invested in these Futuro gloves that are very comfortable and seem to be helping me heal.
2. Serious rest – I’m not talking about a break here and there. I’ve stopped knitting for as long as I need. It’s really difficult. I don’t know how to sit on the couch without doing something. Non-knitters must live awful, boring lives.
3. Advil – My tolerance for pain is about zero out of ten. Research says that gingers are more sensitive to pain so it’s either genetic or I’m a gigantic baby. Either way, Advil brings down any swelling and I can at least go through my day at work without wincing so hard. Don’t forget that just because you’ve now forgotten about the pain that it’s gone. Don’t over do it!
REMEMBER, tingling or numbness is bad. You’ve definitely got to stop and see a doctor then.
Speaking of doctors, I should probably be visiting one myself. Not being able to knit is one of my biggest fears being realized over the last few days as being a complete possibility. I know that is very dramatic but even just having to put my needles away for one day has made me so sad. Knitting is the one thing that I look forward to every day. It makes me rush out the door at 5:00 and I spend every spare moment tweeting to knitter friends, reading craft blogs, and looking at Ravelry. You can’t realize how precious those moments of meditation and relaxation and fulfillment are until you’re without them even for a short period of time.
So I promise, knitting gods, if my little hands heal up quickly, I promise that I’ll never treat them badly again. I’ll keep the knitting spirit all year long. That’s a promise we should all keep.
What do you do when your wrists start to ache? Have you ever had any bad knitting injuries?
ps. Happy birthday to my mom! A wonderful knitter who knows a thing or two about over-doing it and hurting herself. <3
I’m afraid to talk about perfectionism and knitting. Because it involves me admitting that I’m not a perfectionist in other aspects of my life. I feel like it’s not good to go around telling people that you don’t care about getting things absolutely right, it makes you sound lazy. But perfectionists can be insufferable micromanagers. So maybe it’s ok to not be one. Either way, I suppose it’s time that I come clean. I am not a perfectionist.
When it comes to crafting, though, I’ve had a tough time deciding whether or not I’m a perfectionist. I always used to think that I was one. I mean, making is my raison d’être. I’ve ripped out days and days of work on sweaters and agonized over finding the perfect shade of yellow merino. But then again, how many times have I picked up however many neckline stitches that I wanted or allowed my stripes to jog in the round? How often have I said, “It has some ease so it’ll be fine” or “Blocking will fix that weird part” or “I’m just going to do it this way and I’m sure no one will notice”?
Despite these things that I let slide, I don’t think that the quality of work is lacking. While I believe that hand-made garments turn out as good if not better than their store bought counterparts, I don’t expect my work to be spot on all of the time. And I’m ok with that. I’m not a machine so there are bound to be little things here and there that are not right. So maybe I’m not a perfectionist?
I used to think that getting things absolutely right would be more important to me as I got better at knitting (we all tell beginners not to worry about making something gorgeous) but I haven’t found that to be true. For me, knitting is a balance of doing things well and letting things slide. I’ve definitely been working on precision when it comes designing (thank goodness for tech editors) but at the same time, sometimes you have to just move forward and trust that everything will come together in the end.
Do perfectionists make better knitters because they are exacting? Or does perfectionism make knitting harder because, well, we’re only human? Can you be detail-oriented without being a perfectionist? Are you a perfectionist?
Alright, I’ve held out on you long enough. It’s time to show you what I snagged at Rhinebeck!
I was a really good girl this year. I think that looking my stash directly in the face (that’s for another post) the week before Rhinebeck along with the pressure of numerous deadlines really helped me put things into perspective. I really love yarn. But I seriously need to be careful about what I’m purchasing lest things get more out of hand. (I’d also had my hopes that I was getting a big bonus at work the Friday before but that got postponed so my budget was a little tighter. Probably for the best! Custom couches don’t just pay for themselves, you know.) On top of it all, I felt like I was chatting and catching up so much on Saturday that I hardly had time to shop. Shopping was not the goal for the weekend, as I mentioned before, I felt super pumped after spending the day with all of my friends. I was literally still browsing through what was left at Into the Whirled when they announced that the fairgrounds were closed and I didn’t have to go home but I couldn’t shop for more yarn here. So I only bought two skeins of yarn for myself!
Within my first fifteen minutes, I’d already gotten a lovely compliment on my sweater (oh, Rhinebeck, you always know how to make a girl happy) and fallen deeply in love with this skein of DK BFL dyed by Jan Marek Raczkowski. It’s a gorgeous pink with just a little bit of red. I didn’t want to buy anything until I’d made my rounds so I waited until the end of the day to pick this up but I was thinking about it all day. It’s soft and squishy and the color has me swooning. I’m planning on making the Hierro mitts from Pom Pom’s Autumn 2013 issue and I had my eye out for the right yarn. This is it.
I’m really excited to start those mitts and I’m already thinking that I want to get more yarn from Jan Marek Raczkowski. Apparently he only sells at shows, nothing online! Although a little birdie did tell me that I could email him to order. I’ll definitely be thinking about that!
The other skein I bought is by Into the Whirled. Now, I was a little bad. After going through my stash, I realized that I have enough sock yarn to last me a hundred winters (possible slight exaggeration but it’s serious). I’ve said again and again that I love buying sock yarn because it’s a great way to purchase yarn without worrying about having the right quantity for a random project- one skein of sock yarn is enough for a pair of socks. I love knitting socks! But, alas, I’ve seemed to have followed my own advice a little too closely and now I have a billion skeins and zero minutes to cast on socks. Then Lisa showed me these yarns and there was just no turning back.
But when I saw this color way, I just really couldn’t say no. It’s Inara and it’s in the SW merino/nylon base. It’s just so pretty. I might make socks for Jon with it. I think that is what I say every time I buy a skein of sock yarn. And he only has one pair of socks that I ever knit him. Poor thing.
The more I think about it, the more I’m regretting not also picking up a skein of Bigger on the Inside because the colors are just gorgeous and who doesn’t want Doctor Who-themed socks?! Maybe next time. I really was trying to be good!
Did I do good? Or should I have really broken the bank this time? What did you buy?
ps. Happy Halloween! I’ve been so busy, I’ve forgotten to be festive. Last year I wrote this Halloween poem so check that out.
At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in the film, at least, it’s been ages since I’ve read the book!), as the three heroes board the Hogwarts Express after defeating evil for the first time, winning the House Cup, and hugging Hagrid goodbye, Hermione says, “Feels strange to be going home, doesn’t it?” With a bit of schmaltz, Harry replies, “I’m not going home. Not really, anyway.” When I headed for the parking lot at Rhinebeck, after it had been announced that the fair grounds were closed, that’s exactly how I felt. Although I could only come out for one day (I’m not sure if I have the stamina for the whole shebang but I’d love to stay the weekend next year), I was really touched by the magic of the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival this time around.
I always get butterflies before arriving at shows like this. I get really overwhelmed (Sorry if we talked about meeting up but it didn’t happen! I literally ate two apple cider doughnuts for lunch I was so busy!) and shy (Sorry if we made eye contact and then I didn’t say hello. I’m awful at these things!) and I never know where to start (Sorry if you’re an alpaca! I started with the sheep). I hardly took any photos, a combination of forgetting the memory card for the camera I schlepped all the way up there and being too frantic to stop for pictures. After wandering around the sheep and goats, I went to the Ravelry meet up to try and find some familiar faces. It always amazes me the shear amount of people that show up to the festival. I found myself creeping around the edges of the crowd, sheepishly looking for my friends until the lovely Bristol Ivy saved me from complete awkwardness. I got to have a solid chat with her, Maria of Subway Knits, Dana, Ashley, Threadpanda, Redhead Knits, and even Amy Christoffers (I’m probably forgetting some wonderful ladies, too!) Later I had a meeting with Roman Hills and Vo0lenvine (we have big semi-secret plans).
I bought some yarn (that’s for another post) but this year was really about connecting with my friends. It really felt magical being surrounded by people that are all so talented and supportive of eachother. It’s not to say that my non-knitter friends aren’t those things, it’s just that after long stretches of time surrounded by muggles, it’s really invigorating to talk with people that know what you’re saying. On top of everything else, I got to meet some readers (Hello! You know who you are!) which just basically made my whole life. I feel like Saturday was just full of love!
Over the past year, I’ve been trying out a lot of new things and it really feels like it’s paid off. But I know I wouldn’t have even dared to try stepping out of my comfort zone if it weren’t for the amazing ladies that have encouraged me all along and helped me in so many ways. It’s crazy to think that last year at Rhinebeck I met Amy Christoffers for the first time and just a few days ago she was fluffing the shoulders on my first published sweater pattern.
I’ve probably babbled enough but, long story short, I’m still dreaming of sheep and yarn and hanging out with my fantastic friends. I’m already ready to get back to Rhinebeck because there’s a little piece of us there all year round, isn’t there?
What was your favorite part of Rhinebeck this year? How often do you get to hug your knitting friends?
Promise a post with my spoils soon!
In my ongoing efforts to live my life by the Gospel of Martha Stewart, praised be!, I’m going to build some furniture and it’s going to be adorable.
I don’t really talk about interior decorating because it’s not really something that I have time and money to invest in. But I have big plans. The last apartment that Jon and I lived in remained largely unfinished for the entirety of our stay there (13 months). We painted a few walls but we didn’t hang any pictures or shelves or even the mezuzah which literally required five minutes and a slice of velcro. We moved to the south side of Williamsburg back in February and, while the apartment itself is beautiful and new, we’ve taken a terribly long time to get everything the way we want it. We are about 25% there* which is disappointing but things are finally happening.
First of all, we framed and hung all of the artwork that was sitting in boxes for the past two years. Yay! I’m still in desperate need for more pieces but I’m at a place now where at least it looks like we’re trying. Second, we bought a new grown up person couch. Our last place was only big enough for a little loveseat from IKEA which is not so good for entertaining** and looks odd now that we have room for real furniture. Between you and me, I can go crazy in the IKEA marketplace but I’m way over their furniture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh, you just have to treat their stuff right and it’ll last a while.” I was lying to myself. And I think it’s time to invest in some furniture that’s not going to fall apart. The couch isn’t here yet because it’s being custom made by hand which is pretty awesome! Can’t wait to tell you more about that!
So since we’re being grown ups that will soon have a fancy couch, it’s time to we get our act together with a real table so we don’t ruin this thing. We’re building a dining table (I typed dining room table but that would require another room which does not exist). We checked out some vintage tables and the like on Etsy but I somehow convinced Jon that it would be way more fun and cool to build one from reclaimed wood. Groovy. But there are basically only three places within 50 miles that sell reclaimed wood and only one of which is open on the weekends. Which is how we ended up at Real Antique Wood.
There was so much lumber there, it was kind of incredible. Pieces of all kinds of buildings just outside of the city. They showed us to a room full of doors. It was incredible. Doors from inside and outside houses new and old with all kind of great fixtures and knobs and hinges. It was fun. The door idea was actually pretty smart because not only is it super cool to use doors as tables but it also means that you don’t have to actually put anything together besides the legs.
The lovely people at Real Antique Wood actually picked out the perfect piece for us before we’d even arrived: a hayloft door from an 1800s barn that had just been dismantled in Ohio. The hinges are original and handmade by a blacksmith. I love that because I’m a total nerd for history. And they also gave us a super price.
Once we dragged the thing home (it’s solid oak and about 4×4), we realized that it’s kind of a filthy mess and it’s going to need a huge amount of work. So there is a lot to be done and hopefully we can execute it before the weather turns too cold. But we’re about 25% into the process of making our apartment into a real live grown up place to live. Hopefully we’ll never have to move because that piece of wood is heavy as all goddamn! Can’t wait to share the door-to-table process with you!
Have you worked with reclaimed wood? Have you built any furniture? Do I have any idea what I’m doing?
* The other 75% includes a lovely pipe dream of building custom bookshelves with a custom computer desk, buying a giant photograph of a sleeping woman, hanging a mirror and little key basket by the front door, making a billion kitschy embroideries for the bathroom, figuring out an attractive way to store our shoes, and buying some dining chairs.
** By entertaining I mean the pile of yarn and miscellaneous craft projects that live on the couch with me.