Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Miss May!

I couldn't let January pass without wishing my baby girl a very happy birthday. On Thursday she turned 7 and seems to be standing just a little taller. Happy Birthday Miss May!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Birthday Front Page

If you recall, I had a product featured on the front page of on my birthday.

Today, another product was feathered on the front page of time, on Miss May's birthday!

So that's 2 Front Page Features in one month....after almost 4 years on Etsy, which not a single appearance on the front page. Pretty darn nifty! A special thanks to Spazzy for creating the treasury that was picked for the front page.

I'll have birthday girl pictures for you very soon. :)

Casting on the Traveling Woman Shawl

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A few people in our Twitter KAL are having some problems casting on their Traveling Woman Shawl, which is a triangular shawl. I took a few pictures today with some random yarn and needles in the hopes of demystifying the beginning cast on.

1. Cast on 3 stitches and knit 6 rows.

2. Pick up 3 stitches along the edge. I just grabbed my left needle and picked up 3 pieces of stitch from the sides. Note that my working yarn is still attached to the last stitch I knit in that 6th row.

3. Knit those stitches. Note that the leftover cast-on yarn (if you use a long-tail cast-on) is right under the last stitch you knit.
4. Now, pick up 3 stitches from your cast-on edge. Again, I just nabbed 3 bits of cast-on with my left needle. My working yarn and my leftover cast-on yarn are both between my needles. The work is also a bit tight and awkward since there's only one "raw" or unworked edge of the original rectangle.
5. Knit these stitches. You should now have 9 stitches on your needle.

6. This is the back of your work now. Your leftover cast-on yarn is in kind of a strange place. But once you tuck it in, you won't notice. You are now ready to begin the stockinette portion of your shawl.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Correcting Mistakes in Knitting: Lifelines

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How to correct mistakes in knitting is a subject that comes up every time I teach someone to knit. Too often students admit that if they make an error, they feel their only recourse is to rip out the entire piece. How frustrating! When I started to learn how to fix my knitting goofs, my knitting soared! I felt so empowered and in control. And, being the teeny tiny control freak that I am....

So here is Lesson One of the "Correcting Mistakes in Knitting," which is Lifelines.

A lifeline will save your (knitting) life! When you're drowning in missing YOs and k3togs, you'll be begging for someone to throw you a line!

What is a lifeline?

A lifeline is a string that is threaded through a row of knitting. As you continue to knit, that string will stay in your work "just in case." If you make a blunder so big that you can't fix it through other, less dramatic means, you can frog (rip out) your work all the way down to your lifeline and try again. Note that this is better that ripping out your entire project. Especially when you're working on a shawl that contains over 68,000 stitches (like the shawl in these pictures).

When should I use a lifeline?

You can use a lifeline whenever and wherever you want. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How comfortable am I with this pattern?

  • How often do I make mistakes when working a pattern like this?

  • How devastated would I be if I lost half my work? 10 rows?

  • If I had to rip out half of my work, would I lose motivation to continue with this project?

If you're prone to make mistakes, are working a new sort of pattern, would be devastated or lose motivation if you had to rip out too much, you'll want to use lifelines more frequently. If you're not likely to make major mistakes, are comfortable with the pattern, and wouldn't mind it if you had to rip back 50 rows, then you can use lifelines more sparingly.
Lifelines are most often seen used in lacework. Lace is the most finicky knitting to try to fix without ripping back. When you drop a stitch in stockinette or garter stitch, it's fairly easy to dip down, catch your stitch, and run it back up (another blog post on that soon). If you drop a stitch in a lace shawl, and it drops down through yarn-overs or increases or decreases...this can get trickier, and it may be easier to just rip down to your lifeline and try again. You can certainly use a lifeline in a stockinette sweater or hat though. That's the beautiful part of're the one that gets to write the rule book! Do what works for you.

Also, lifelines will be easiest to place in a plain knit row, but can be placed in any row if needed.

What kind of string do you use for a lifeline?

Again, this is personal preference. And it's going to depend on what type of yarn you're using, what size needles, and the type of project. Scrap worsted weight yarn won't work well for a dainty lace project for instance, but may work just fine for a project made with bulky yarn. As a general rule, your lifelinen should be the same thickness as your yarn or thinner. You should also use a color that will show up against your working yarn. Don't use a black lifeline if you're knitting a navy blue project. Don't use white if you're knitting a cream project. You want to be able to see your lifelines easily. Trust me on this one. When you drop back down to your lifeline, you will have to pick up each stitch from the lifeline and get it back on your needle. The contrast will help immensely.

When in doubt? Dental floss! Waxed and unscented, though I personally haven't had any problems with  mint-scented. White dental floss doesn't work all that well with paler projects, but for most things it works just great. Because it's nice and slick too, it will pull out of your work pretty easily. I used waxed, unscented dental floss for the photos in this post. As you can see from the top picture, generic works just fine!

So how do I put this lifeline in anyway?

There are 3 ways to put a lifeline into your work. The easiest way is to put one in the row you're currently working on.

First, take a length of string longer than your work. Thread it onto a tapestry needle. Run it through the active stitches on your needle from one side to the other.

If you have a stitch marker in your work, DO NOT run your lifeline through the stitch marker! Go around it. Then continue on the other side. If you go through the stitch marker, you'll anchor it in place and will have to either go back and pull out your lifeline or cut out your stitch markers. Not pretty. Don't do it.

This is how your lifeline and stitch markers should look. Notice that the lifeline is on the OUTSIDE of the stitch marker. I cannot emphasize this enough.

I didn't put in a lifeline and now I'm in trouble!

This brings me to the second way you can put in lifelines. You can put them in after-the-fact. This is a bit more time consuming that the first method, but it's doable.

Start a couple rows under your blunder. Thread your tapestry needle the same way and start on one end or, if working in the round, at the beginning of the round if possible. Pick up the right leg of each stitch in that row with the tapestry needle and thread the lifeline through it. If you can't easily pick up the right leg, that's ok. (You can pick up the left leg, but be very careful later on that you twist those stitches back when you pick them up with your needles so that you don't twist the stitch when you knit it. If at all possible, stick with the right legs.)

This method takes awhile, but can be very helpful in a pinch.

What's the third way?

If you use interchangeable cable needles, they probably have a hole in the needle itself that you use to help you tighten the needle on the cable. You can thread this hole as if it's the tapestry needle. Then, knit your next row as usual and watch the lifeline almost magically insert itself into your row. When you're done with the row, unthread the needle and continue as usual.

A word of caution though: if you're using closed ring stitch markers, your lifeline will also go through them! As we've already discussed, this is bad. Options? Remove your SMs while working that row or use removeable stitch markers.

So what do I do when I make a mistake?

Well, first, try other methods to fix your mistake if possible. Ripping out your work should always be a last resort.

If you've exhausted all other possibilities, then take your needle(s) out of your work, and rip out your work to the row just above the lifeline. Then, with your knitting needle ready, slowly pull out this last row as well, catching the row with the lifeline as you go. Take your knitting needle and slowly pick up these stitches one by one, putting them back on the needle. For now, leave your lifeline in place.
Go all the way across. If possible, make sure the stitches are positioned correctly, with the right leg of the stitch to the front. Count your stitches to make sure you have them all.

Once you're sure that everything is positioned correctly and that you have all of your stitches, you can take out your lifeline. BUT you probably shouldn't! Why? Because you might need it again? If you goofed once, you may goof again. Leave the lifeline where it is, just in case.

When can I take out my lifelines?

Even if you have several lifelines in your project, leave the earlier ones in just in case you find an error below the newer lifelines.

When your project is completely done, you can safely remove your lifelines and block your project.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twitter Knit-A-Long

For those of you on Twitter, have you heard about the upcoming Knit-A-Long spearheaded by spazzyyarn? I, personally, can't wait to begin!

Want more information? Here is Spazzy's initial blog post. Ignore the pattern options though. The *real* list is HERE, and you can VOTE on your favorite. Voting ends Friday, so hurry over there to cast your vote.

And if you're not already following me on Twitter, please do so! This KAL would be a great way to get to know all of my readers!

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Freshwater Pearl Stitch Markers

Introducing a new line of pearl stitch markers now available in both my Etsy Store and on! These are made using a ring that will fit up to a US10 knitting needle and come in a set of 8. They currently come in 4 color varieties, but more are coming! Click the above picture to be wooshed to the right page to see all of your current options.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thanks Emi Craft In Japan!!!

I'd like to extend a HUGE thank you to the Etsy store, Emi Craft In Japan.

Once upon a time, I found the cutest sheep fabric in an Etsy store from Japan. The cute little white sheep on the pale pink background made for absolutely adorable magnets. I ordered the fabric twice, but when I ran out again, the store shelves were bare. *sniffle* I thought for sure that this sheep fabric, like so many others before it, had been discontinued out from under me. What would I do?!?

Months passed and I began to sell the very last of my little pink sheep magnets. The lone survivors looked so sad and lonely, awaiting the day that they too would leave home forever.
Weekly, I scoured Etsy for the fabric. Even going so far as to email the major shops out of Japan that carry fabric. No one was able to help.
That is until one day, I found my pink sheep fabric!!! Emi Craft in Japan had some! Oh happy day! Wait, what's this? The item description says it's also available with a blue background?!? Can this be??
Without hesitation, I send her a "convo" as they're called on Etsy. "How much do you have?" I asked. "I think I want all of it." She writes back that she has pink, blue, AND TAN! She tells me how much of each she has. "Yes, I want all of it." We messaged each other back and forth several times, she worked out the exact shipping costs, and even went into town the very next day to get it mailed to me....using MY choice of shipping method. Talk about customer service! And shipping speed? I ordered it on December 28th and received it on January 7th. From Japan!! Not too shabby.
I will definitely be back as long as she carries some sort of sheep, rabbit, ruler, button, fiber-related-in-any-way fabric I can use for my magnets. I know she'll take care of me. If you love fabric, and enjoy the cutesie Japanese varieties on the market, I know she'll take care of you too. Show her some love.
Oh, and if you see the fabrics below in any color variations, let me know? They're also Japanese fabrics that I can no longer find. And I'm nearly out. BUT, watch for new blue and tan varieties of the cute pink ones to make their appearance in my shops very soon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Front Page!

Wouldya look at that? After nearly 4 years on Etsy, one of my items FINALLY made the front page.

Isn't this the cutest collection you ever saw? (Top row middle, magnets, are mine.)

And The Winner Is....

As promised, I just tallied up the entries in my birthday blog giveaway!

By my calculations, I had 68 entries. For this, I'm giving away ONE Scrabble Tile Pendant. Again, the winner gets to choose which style they want, I will not be able to make this a custom order, and they may have to wait up to a few days for me to get it shipped out if I'm out of their chosen style.

Are we ready?

Heading over to the random number generator...

And the winner is...


Congratulations Kim! I'll be messaging you in just a moment so you can tell me which pendant you want and where to send it. :)

Thank you so much to all who participated! This made my birthday great fun. :) Your gift to me was doubling my blog followers, increasing my Facebook fans by 30%, and giving me lots of great new people to Tweet with on Twitter!

Thanks too for all of the birthday wishes here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. My husband was out of town this weekend and all the well-wishes really cheered me up. I'm grateful for you all!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Birthday Contest!!!

My birthday is Sunday and I want you all to celebrate with me!

It's my birthday and I'm giving YOU the gift! Well, I'm giving the winner(s) a gift. So what do you need to do to enter? And what do you win?

Well if you haven't guessed from the above collage, you'll win the Scrabble Tile Pendant of your choice. There will be one winner for every 100 entries!
How to Enter:
  1. Follow my blog. (See all the little pictures of people on the right under the ads? Click "Follow." Leave a comment here letting me know you're following my blog. (Must be a public follower.) Get one entry.
  2. Follow me on Twitter. Tweet this: "Enter to win JL Yarnworks' Scrabble Tile Pendant Giveaway! ." Leave a comment here letting me know you've done this. Get one entry.
  3. Become one of my Facebook Fans! Leave a comment here letting me know you've become a fan. Get one entry.
  4. Blog about this contest, linking back to this blog post. Leave a comment here with a link to your blog. Get TWO entries!

Yep, that's 5 potential entries per person. If every entrant gets 5 entries, then everyone will have a 1 in 20 chance of winning a pendant! Those odds are pretty good, don't you think?

Monday morning (January 11th, 2010), whenever I get to the computer, I'll tally up the entries based on the comments on this blog post. If you don't leave a comment, your entry will NOT count! For every 100 entries, I will let the random number generator choose one winner. (If there are 158 entries, there will be one winner; if there are 320 entries, there will be 3 winners.) I will post the winners here and contact them (be sure I can reach you through Twitter, Facebook, or leave your email!). Winners get to choose which Scrabble Tile Pendant they want from the above choices. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do custom letter choices for the purposes of this contest. Sorry! Scrabble Tile Pendants come on a length of ribbon and can be transferred to your favorite cord or necklace. They will ship to the winners for free. If too many winners want the same pendant, or if I'm sold out of the winner's chosen pendant on Monday, winners will be allowed to either choose a different pendant OR wait up to 2 weeks for new pendants to be made.

Good luck to you all!

**If your'e observant, you'll notice that not all Scrabble Tile Pendant options are currently available in my store. I'll be adding more all weekend. Want one that's not yet available in the store? Just contact me!**

Friday, January 01, 2010


Happy New Year Everyone!

I thought I'd kick off the new year properly with some of my own resolutions. Honestly, they're the same goals I have pretty much year-round, but putting them in black and white helps make them real...and more likely to happen! So, in no particular order, here goes...

1. Get more sleep. Between late nights in the studio, losing track of time, and plain old insomnia, I've gotten really bad about staying up super late. Then the kiddos make sure I'm up before I want to be. This often means I'm lucky to get 5 hours of sleep a night. No good. Must. Get. More. Sleep! The new goal is to at least be in bed by 11:30pm nightly. If I'm asleep by midnight, I should get a minimum of 7 hours of zzzz's.

2. Finish more projects. I'm notorious for beginning a project. Then beginning a project. Then beginning another project. In knitting, I am the cast-on queen! But this isn't just specific to knitting. I want to wrap up some unfinished projects and get better about limiting the number of works-in-progress I have at any given time. It clutters the mind and I have more than my share of clutter up there! Time to simplify. To do this, I plan to spend most of January wrapping things up. Then I'll be more mindful of what I have going before starting new projects. I also think I'll use July as another wrap-up month.

3. Like just about everyone else, weight-loss and getting healthier also tops the list. I did so well between Baby #1 and Baby #2, but after Baby #2, things started going downhill. I couldn't exercise much during that pregnancy which led to too much weight-gain and getting out of the exercise habit...which only continued after she was born. She's now 3 1/2 and I *must* do something about it. My husband and friends at work plan to compete for 90 days to see who can get the most "ripped." I plan to join along at home by fixing healthier meals for the entire family and trying to figure out ways to incorporate exercise into my day. Not so easy in the middle of winter in South Dakota with two young children and no gyms with daycares close by. Looks like boring videos will be my best bet, though I'm not really looking forward to it. I just know from past experience (between the babies) that I have to be pretty strict with myself to see results. That means regimented meals and exercise 6 days a week with one free/rest day a week. So I must do what I must do. Wish me luck!

4. Get the house in order. Despite moving in 7 months ago, the house is still less than put-together. We still don't have dining room furniture (though we do have a table in the kitchen so we CAN sit together for a meal), there are still boxes only partially unpacked, and there are still systems in place that worked in the old house but don't quite work here. By this time next year, I want this house to be a well-oiled machine. Or, at least, much more functional than it is now.

5. Do more with my kids outside the house. Now that the girls are getting older, it's easier to find things they can both do and enjoy. It's time for some family field trips! I'd like to explore some of the local National Parks, visit Storybook Land, and maybe head to Minneapolis to the Mall of America and Underwater Adventures.

6. Finish the TKGA Masters Program Level One. I'm nearly done, it's just another of the many unfinished projects lurking around here.

7. Work on my book. I'll keep the details to myself, but it's been bouncing around in my head for about a year now and I have some notes and some writing, but the meat of it is still just in my head. I will say that it's knitting related, but the rest I'll keep to myself for now. I'd like to have the bulk of it done by fall so that I can start trying to get to the agent/publisher level.

8. There's one other item on this list, but it's information I can't quite share just yet. It's not knitting related. You'll surely hear more about this after this weekend.

What's on your list? Let me know if you have a resolution similar to one of mine. Would love a buddy on some of these! If you happen to be an agent that's looking for a knitting book to represent, even better. hehe.