Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

This past weekend I headed up to Canby for OFFF, the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  Saturday was sunny and hot.  I got to the festival a bit after noon and met up with my friend Amy and her son Lance.  We spent a while admiring all the adorable animals.

I'm not sure what breed this guy is
Scottish Blackface
This guy belongs to a friend of Amy's
 (that's Amy scritching his chin)

Alpacas are the cutest critters.  Amy and I discussed our daydreams of owning farms with fiber animals.  I don't think either of us really wants to deal with the reality of owning animals: the long hours, the day-to-day slog, the vet bills, etc.  But, oh, it is a nice fantasy.  A beautiful piece of land somewhere, with Alpacas, or maybe sheep, growing your own fiber.  Mind you, I don't even spin, so it's really a fantasy for me.

Curly Angoras

Recently sheared, but still pretty cute

The forecast called for rain Saturday night and Sunday, so Amy and her family wussed out on camping.  I debated it, but I'd gone to the trouble of getting my tent down from my hot, hot, hot, attic, so I danged well was gonna use it.  Plus while we'd looked at lots of yarn, I hadn't picked what I wanted to buy.  So I set up camp over in the Pine Grove area.  I knit and enjoyed the cool evening breezes. 

It did rain and get windy during the night, but my little tent kept me dry.  The wind was blowing through the trees, causing a steady stream of pine needles plopping onto my tent.  Once something bigger bonged into the tent and woke me up.  Probably just a pine cone, but in the middle of the night it sounded like something huge.

The rain had stopped in the morning but I had to deal with my packing stupidity.  I brought the Coleman stove, the french press, the coffee, the tea kettle to heat the water in, but I forgot the propane canister.  Oops, gonna be hard to make coffee.  Luckily the Old River Coffee booth was open early to sell me a cup, cuz you don't want to deal with me if I don't get my coffee in the morning.  The rain held off a while and I was able to get my tent packed up fairly dryly.

I wandered thru all the booths looking at all the pretty yarn and attended a couple demos.  While I was wandering, I met one of the test knitters for my Diamond Cap pattern, MystykDream on Rav.  She recognized me from the pattern photo.  The Testing Pool group on Rav is a wonderful resource - I found such a great group of test knitters and it was fun to meet one in real life.

There was so much gorgeous yarn, it was so hard not to just buy one of everything.  But I was good.  I ended up getting two Socks That Rock mill ends at Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and a beautiful purple super fine Alpaca skein from Dicentra

The photograph doesn't do the colors justice because the sun just doesn't want to come out here in Oregon.  The leftmost is a gorgeous blend of olive greens, the center one is a beautiful mix of teal and gray, and the right is sumptuous shades of purple.  I'm going to have to improve my photography skills.  I guess I'm going to have to get a good artificial lighting setup.  I live in Oregon, after all.  Natural light is low to non-existent most of the year.

The green sock yarn will be used for socks (since I foolishy signed up for Socktoberfest on Rav).  I can't decide if the teal/gray skein should be socks or gloves.  The purple alpaca will be some type of neckwarmer.  Shawl?  Scarf? Cowl?  Probably a small shawl, but I'm not sure.

It had been raining on and off throughout the day.  After I bought my yarn, it was just pouring down rain.  I waited for a brief lull to sprint to my Jeep and headed home around 3pm.  OFFF was a lot of fun and I'm definitely planning to go back next year.  Maybe with a bigger yarn budget :^)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My first pattern sale on Ravelry

Last Friday I released my first for-sale pattern on Ravelry.

Diamond Cap $5.00

I've had a hat something like this in mind for a while.  Last February I met my sister Monica in Portland for a few days.  She was on her way home to Alaska from a vacation in Mexico and, the way her flights worked, she had to spend at least one night somewhere on the West coast.  So she stopped in Portland for a few nights and I took the Amtrak up from Corvallis to meet her there.

We had a fun visit exploring Portland.  It turned out we were there during the REI end-of-winter sale, so of course we had to check it out.  They had some cute cabled caps with bills, kind of like this one, but in brown and with traditional braided cables, instead of my seeded diamonds.  Being good knitters, my sister and I looked at the caps and said "I could make that".

I found some Cascade 220 in my favorite teal color, on sale cheap at a local craft store, and in August I finally got around to making my cap.  I wrote it up, had it test knit in the Ravelry Testing Pool group, and released it last Friday.  And then I anxiously awaited my first sale.

I had fantasies of selling 100 patterns the first day, like most new designers I suppose.  I also had fears that no one would ever buy a single copy.  Worse yet, what if someone bought it and found a bajillion errors?  I spent Friday afternoon anxiously clicking on my Ravelry pro link to see if I had any sales.

The first time, I gasped.  10 sales already!?!  Oh, wait, I had ten test knitters and had gifted the finished pattern to each of them.  No actual sales.  Pooey.  :^(

I obsessively checked back.  Still no sales.  I tried to distract myself with other tasks and got depressed.  Obviously I was a failure as a designer.  It had been a whole 3 hours and no one had bought my pattern yet.

Then, late in the evening, after staying off the computer for a few hours, I checked my email.  And there was a notification from Paypal of received funds!  Huzzah!!!   Someone bought my pattern!  And now I'd learned that I didn't need to look at my Ravelry pro link to see if I had any sales.  I'd get an email from Paypal when I made a sale.

So now, every time I open my browser, I eagerly look.  Do I have any new emails to that account?  Ooh, I do!  Is it a pattern sale?  Pooey, just a library book due notice.  But every now and then there's an email from Paypal.  I expect the novelty will wear off, but for now it makes checking my email an exciting event.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yet another knitting blog

Yup, just what the world needs.  Yet another knitting blog.  But I'm going to start one anyway.

I'm beginning to sell my patterns on Ravelry, so it seems like a good idea to have a blog to update folks about new designs.


I learned to knit from my mom as a child, but didn't stick with it.  In 1995 I quit my career in electronics and moved from Texas to Oregon to attend graduate school at Oregon State University. That first dark and rainy winter I realized I needed an indoor hobby (besides TV and chocolate).  Over the winter holiday break, I checked out some books from the local library, bought some needles and yarn, and re-taught myself how to knit.

Being either ambitious or ignorant (or both), I decided my first project would be an Irish fisherman's sweater that I'd design myself.  I at least had the sense to do a matching cable scarf first.

I found a book in the library called Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.  It gave me some guidelines for a traditional raglan shape and I started knitting my sweater.  I didn't know a few basics like using a smaller needle and/or fewer stitches for the ribbing, so my ribbing flares out a bit, rather than drawing in.  And if I remember right, it took three or four tries to get the neckline anywhere near the right shape and size.  But for all it's flaws, I've worn this sweater into the ground and still love it.

I've been knitting ever since and rarely followed a pattern.  I've recently started writing up my designs for others to make and released my first pattern free on Ravelry a month or so ago.

It's a pattern for a knitted candy cane, made with Red Heart Supersaver yarn.   You can download the pdf from Ravelry

My first for-sale pattern, Diamond Cap, just finished test knitting and should be released any day now.