Friday, January 20, 2017

a little bit plucky

If you haven't heard of The Plucky Knitter, it's time to look around your living room. Do your walls feel cool to the touch? In order to leave your home, do you need to lift a boulder or crawl for miles underground? Is it possible, maybe, that you've been living under a rock?

I'm just teasing, but in all seriousness, this dyer has been around for awhile. The Plucky Knitter is a staple of indie fans, and their yarn routinely sells out quickly at events, during their frequent online updates, and in Ravelry destashes. In the 'indie dyer' world, Plucky is near the top of the heap - they've got their own app, special events for Plucky fans, and routine pattern releases that frequently go viral.

If you've been wanting to try The Plucky Knitter's yarns for awhile and feel like you can't get a hold of them, I really encourage you to go diving into Ravelry destashes. Plucky fans tend to buy lots and lots of the stuff and then maybe have a little buyer's remorse, so there's almost always a good selection for sale. In fact, you can even be pretty lazy about it, because I did a stash search for you - just click here.


The residents of Nashville recently had a bit of Plucky luck when Haus of Yarn (arguably one of the best stocked yarn stores I have ever visited) arranged a multiple day trunk show with The Plucky Knitter. They had a wide range of bases, including Primo Fingering, which I have heard good things about. I went hoping to pick up some Oxford or Scholar, and they did have Scholar 2.0, but I decided that two skeins of sock yarn in colors I know I could use were a more manageable stash acquisition than a sweater lot. I picked up one in 'Into the Woods', a rich olive green, and the other in 'Melba', the perfect coral-mauve.

When I first began knitting seriously, a little over 10 years ago now, I was gifted the Interweave book Favorite Socks. The first pair of socks I ever knit were the Cable Rib socks from this book by Erica Alexander. I made them in Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway 'Strange Harvest', and really enjoyed the process, but found that the DiC yarn wore out very, very quickly, and that the gauge (or maybe just my gauge) was a bit loose, resulting in the socks falling apart after about three wearings. After getting these two skeins of Plucky home, I realized that the 'Into the Woods' colorway was just similar enough that perhaps it might be best to make it into a replacement pair.


While I don't know that Primo Fingering will hold up very well to socks long term (and certainly doubt that it will hold up as well as handspun socks with heftier wools do), I think that I know how to better pamper and repair my socks now. I still have guilty moments thinking about my Strange Harvest socks, which surely could have been darned and kept having years of wear, but instead ended up in the trash because I didn't know what to do with them.

I cast on while visiting Miami this week for business, and I'm already almost completely done with the leg. Instead of the recommended US 2 for the leg and US 1 for the foot, I am going to give it a shot with US 1 all the way through and see how it changes the density of the sock. I may even switch to US 0 on the foot, if I can bring myself to buy a set and knit with toothpicks...




Monday, January 9, 2017

new year, new goals

Without fail, I always seem to return to this space at the beginning of the year. Along with everyone else, I tend to offer a list of goals, hopes, and wishes for myself. I promise to share them here, but I often let my day to day life and work pull me away from writing here. This year, I've got a little more resolve and self discipline than the last, but it still took me a whole week into 2017 before I could sit down and draft this post.

This year, I turned 29. That means that 2017 will be the year that I turn 30. Sometimes that number feels old, and other days it feels young -- I wake up feeling like I have done so much living, but then turn around and meet so many people who have done so much more than I have. Here are some of my meager accomplishments in 2016, and an idea of what I'll be doing in this year to come. 

2016

I wrote a book. This is probably the biggest thing I completed in 2016, although it really began so much earlier. I submitted the proposal for my book, Slow Knitting, to Abrams back in May 2015. The contracts and everything were solidified closer to August and September, and then I got that first terrifying advance check (you know, the one that means that things really have to happen, or else you owe someone with lots of lawyers a lot of money), in the mail. I bought a new computer (not a Mac), hired designers I admired (I still can't believe that so many of them said yes, and I can't wait to tell you who is involved), and spent every Saturday and Sunday, and many weekday evenings, trying to write something that somebody would like to read. 

What nobody will tell you about writing a book is that the whole time you're working on it, you're also re-reading it. When you re-read something about fifty times, it seems much less poignant and interesting than when you originally wrote it -- it's a very quick way to make yourself feel like a fraud for even having such ridiculous thoughts in the first place. You also notice that you have horrible repetitive tendencies, and you're not as original as you first believed. I would recommend making friends and family read things through for you, but honestly, if the book isn't their cup of tea, that's pretty much assuring that they won't come to any of your signings or speak to you about the project past the first three months. I have no idea how my editor did it, but she is amazing and I should really get her some flowers. The book comes out this Fall!

I moved to Nashville, TN. Nashville has been getting a lot of attention lately, and it's easy to see why after being here a short time. There are new businesses opening constantly, the food is great, and the weather is a breeze. While I miss the snow and wintery days, I am thankful that there are fewer of them, and my summer-loving self is grateful for more sun and heat. If anything, the shortened Southern winters have helped me truly appreciate the days that are coldest, where I can break out my knits and snuggle up.

I got engaged. Andrew and I have spent seven years (!) on this planet in the company of one another. We live together full time and while he certainly has plenty of habits and tendencies that drive me bonkers, he is really the most tolerable and wonderful person, and my very dearest friend every day. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes, but only after the book was done. We haven't done any wedding planning yet, but I'm sure we'll get around to it. Maybe in the next seven years.

I had a great job, then I left it. No, it's not the one you were thinking. I left Yarnbox in September 2015, after working there for three years as the Creative Director (which meant doing everything except ordering the yarn and shipping it, more or less.) I enjoyed my time at Yarnbox for the most part -- the subscribers and community I worked to build up were very hard to walk away from. Other parts were easier. 

I worked for the next year at a company called Studio Calico, which then morphed into Inked Brands. I honestly can't give a complete account of what I learned in this place -- time somehow warps around that office and you end up learning more in a single year than you could have learned in a similar job in five. I explored overseas manufacturing, got an inside look at how big companies handle social media, graphic design, and marketing, and got to work first hand with some amazing brands run by ultimate girl bosses: Studio DIY, The TomKat Studio, and A Beautiful Mess. I got to dream up some cool stuff and run it by people who know more about it than I do, and at the end of it all, they were really gracious and wonderful when I announced that I'd be making an exit in favor of working from home, freelance, again. I love my quiet little fast-paced yarn industry days!

Now, what's up for the new year? 

2017

I joined a quilting bee. This year, I really want to pick up a few new skills. I have dabbled a bit in quilting in the past, but mostly wasn't consistent about learning things correctly: cutting accurately, piecing neatly and measuring twice weren't really strong suits for me. Now that I'm working part-time at Craft South on the weekends, I found myself wanting to improve. What better way than the Low Key Quilting Bee my friend Hadley is hosting on Instagram? A group of 12 women, completing one block per month and shipping it off, seemed like the perfect way to stash down, learn, and get inspired. My month is March. 

I resolved to spend more time and less money. One of my goals this year is to pay off more of my personal debt. We're taking a Dave Ramsey class, courtesy of Andrew's parents, and I'm hoping to finally get ahead of my pretty substantial student loan and IRS debt, but also tackle my meager credit card debt. It would be great to end 2017 without so many payments hanging over our heads, and at the end, we're going to try and reward ourselves with a trip somewhere amazing. To help accomplish this, I'm diving in more to projects at home, crafting with a purpose (more on that soon) and expanding my client base. I'm hoping to actually hire a part time assistant in 2017!

I'm spending more time with people. I am the biggest homebody. I honestly leave my house maybe... two or three days a week. I took on a job at Craft South to force me out of the house and socialize me, but I'm also trying to say yes to more events, meetups, coffee dates and knitting groups. Haus of Yarn has a knitting group that meets weekly that I still haven't attended - going to try and go this year. There's a spinning meetup locally too, I've penciled that into my calendar. If someone invites me to something, I'm going to work against my mode of operation involving sweatpants, binge-watching episodes of shows on Hulu. This might mean I get less knitting done, but I think it will also mean I have more friends. Friends are good.

I'm living my truth. I wrote Slow Knitting last year, and while I was writing it, I realized that despite believing a lot of the bits and pieces I was putting into it, I was doing a pretty lackluster job of actually living the principles in the book. I loved writing, and yet this blog was pretty empty for several months. I love knitting, and prefer to knit with yarns that I can take a close look at (sourcing, sheep breeds, processes), but I really wasn't posting here. This year, I want to write more, both here and elsewhere, and I want to share more thoughts, even if nobody is listening.