Monday, January 26, 2015

Pocket Unicorn

At the start of last year, I was a little down about my business.  Christmas had been good, but I hadn't reached my goal of 200 likes.  I had lost a couple likes in December, and I missed 200 by 4-6 likes.  But I still made the goal of 300 likes for last year.  It felt overly ambitious.  It would mean two new likes almost every week.

Then all of a sudden things picked up and I hit 225 by March, less than 25% through the year.  I hit 250 before I was 50% through the year.  I hit 300 in October, I think.  I was so busy I couldn't get to the 300 Like Giveaway till mid-November, with the choice between a cupholder mitten or a Pocket Buddy.  On November 18, Meg picked a name from a hat and the winner turned out to be the sister of one of the photographers who's bought from me a lot.  She had already received  the two beige Pocket Bunnies, but thought a Pocket Unicorn would be a nice gift for her daughter who had a larger unicorn and needed a baby.

Sure!  I was already working on the purple Pocket Bunnies and about to start the Pocket Dalmatian, and had the two Toothless  stuffies to had to wait a bit.  I felt bad, but  a free reward just couldn't take precedence over existing, paying, orders.  And there was the question of the unicorn design.  A lot of questions.  White, obviously.  Gold horn.  Standing like a horse, or floppy like the bunnies?  Standing was the answer.  Ooohh.  Lots of time on Ravelry.  There are not too many standing, small, knit, unicorn patterns.  I wanted the perfect blend between realism and cutesy.  I realized after making the Dalmatian, that perhaps one of the dog patterns would work well, with some head modifications.

I used the same pattern, which was actually for the German Short Haired Pointer.  It starts with the back legs, which I knit in the round, and lengthened a bit.  Then, you knit the front legs.  Then one side of the body, then the other side of the body.  Then you join at the nape of the neck, and work the neck (back and forth--there is a chest/tummy piece done separately.  I worked on the neck and onto the head.  Then I left the snout on a holder and worked on the belly.  Then I grafted the top of the back together and propped him up to take a look.


Those front legs look a little short compared to the back legs (the pattern did have them be a few rows short).  He appeared rather goat-like, not majestic unicorn-like.

I pouted for a bit.  I did not want to rip out everything I had done, even if it had just been a day and evening's work.  He would need two frontal leg amputations, followed by a double leg lengthening procedure and reattachment.  Work not for the faint of heart.
 Step 1:  Determine amputation row and snip carefully.  The leg was made and then stitches left on a holder to be joined when doing the side.  I snipped the last round on the leg because I wanted to make sure I did not disturb the body stitches at ALL.  They became "live" and went on a holder.  I then had to rip back the front leg to the straight part before the thigh increasing, and add in a few rounds.  This was tons o' fun, since the legs had already been stuffed and supported with a pipe cleaner.  I left one leg attached while working on the first leg.  Once lengthened, I grafted it to the live body stitches.  Then I repeated for the other side.  What a pain in the butt it was, working little rounds, round and round and round, with the rest of the unicorn dangling along for the ride.
But I think the result was worth it.  I might have actually made the front legs a round (or two) too long, but I was not repeating the procedure!

The head was interesting.  I reknit it several times.  I sewed the tummy/chest panel on, so I could work a bit of one, then the other.  The snout was too long, the skull too big, the snout was too short, too wide...etc.  In the end, I think it could have been a row longer, but sometimes, you just have to let go.

I wasn't sure how to attach the tail.  There was a seam up the bum and I thought I could knot the pieces and have them come through the seam...but how to ensure that they didn't pull back in?  I ended up just knotting in the seam.  Each strand had to have both ends knotted as well, so the gold filament in the yarn didn't unravel.

The mane was a simpler issue, I just knotted, or did a know the simple knot where you fold your strand in half around a rod or tree branch, and feed the two ends back through?  Yeah.  I did the mane like that.  One column of stitches from the top of the head to the bottom of the neck.  That wasn't very thick, so I did a  column on either side, but only every other row, alternating one side to the other.  Then I did a dab of Fray Check over each of the knots.

Little ears took a few tries, but turned out nice.  The horn came almost last.  Tiny, tiny spiral, crocheted.  I had to stitch a crochet hook in it to keep it's shape as I crocheted around it, or it would roll inwards and I couldn't find the stitches.  I changed hooks as I went up, and then decreased a few stitches too.  Finicky, but very important!  Then came the eyes, finishing touch.

You can never have too many unicorn pictures :)  You can click on any of the pictures to go to the picture viewer and see larger images.
It was so nice to finish this finally.  Just over two months from when we made the draw.  If Christmas hadn't happened in there, it might have gone quicker.  The scale says the finished guy weighs 70gr, but that includes the stuffing and pipecleaners.  There were a LOT of ends that got trimmed off, many I used to stuff him.  I don't think he'll be a regular offering, but then again, now that I have the kinks worked out, I wouldn't object to doing it again.  I used one strand of Patons "Sequin Lace" and one strand of the Georga's BeBe that I had used for the Dalmatian.  And the smallest size needle in the KnitPick's interchangeable needle kit.

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 70gr + 944gr = 1014gr
Balance: 514gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/26 days = $0.82/day

Friday, January 23, 2015


After I finished that last (earless) teddy hoodie, I had a small amount of the yarn left.  I didn't want to ever make another one of those hoodies in that colour and it really wasn't enough to bother trying to work in with another dyelot anyway.

I decided to make another infinity scarf.  The colour looked really nice with my coat!  But it wouldn't be nearly enough, so I search through my stash and pulled out this great yarn that had been repurposed from a sweater.  

I started with the same idea I had done before--chain enough for 5-7 double crochets.  What I quickly realized is that I would have to do two rows of each colour--though I had several balls of the rose, so I could have one at each end, but that didn't help.  Doing two rows of the mushroom quickly showed that I really didn't have much of it and this was really awkward anyway.

I ripped it out and opted to do a circle instead.  I sort of guesstimated and made a chain in the rose, based on looping around the neck twice.  Did two rows in rose, and one row in mushroom, two in rose, one in mushroom, two in rose.  I didn't have enough of the mushroom left to repeat this, but I still wanted a bit more width.  I did a third round in the rose, then went back to the original chain, and did another round.  This did two things--balanced the outer strips, and hid the sort of uneven starting chain--because of the thick n thin nature and the large hook, sometimes it was hard to go under both chains in that first row.  So this hid that and made that edge also match the other edge.

After I had been into the scarf for a few rounds, I realized that if I had made it a cowl instead, I probably could  have had "more" mushroom stripes.  Half as many stitches, means twice as many rows for the same length of yarn, plus what I had left might had done one more round.  Oh well, next time.  I like the scarf done long though because you can wear it long if you're going for a fashion look or if you're tall, wrap it twice for warmth and still look good when you take your coat off, or wrap it three times for super warmth, or wrap around the head for ear coverage.  But the cowls look nice too and can be pulled up over the head to protect the ears without messing up the hair.  Nothing sucks more in the kindergarten class then trying to get a toque on a girl with a ponytail!

For the hat, I simply started at the top, doing double crochets in rounds.  Got to the length that felt good, then switched to single crochets.  It feels snug, but there is stretch.  The green angora crochet slouch hat I made last year moves all over my head so I don't wear it much.  Some single crochet would probably have fixed that.  Maybe I can find a contrast yarn and create some interest....

Hat took 72gr and scarf was 93gr for a total of 165gr.  And of course, right after I finished, I got a request from a friend of the lady that ordered that last hoodie...for the exact same one in a smaller size...

I posted this set on my Monday Madness, and although it got a lot of likes, there were no takers.  So, it's still for sale :)

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 165gr + 779gr = 944gr
Balance: 444gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/23 days = $0.92/day

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Little Kitty

Back in mid-summer, I took Lucy (who was still 11 back then) to the library while I was looking for a knitting book.  She found this book on knitting your own cat.  She was determined to knit her own cat.  All she had knit so far was some garter stitch--I don't think she actually finished anything.  The pattern looked overwhelming, but I told her that she just has to do one instruction at a time.  The first step though, would be to learn the purl stitch!

When I taught Lucy to knit a few years ago, she came to the conclusion that the yarn should be held with the left hand.  It made more sense to her, and  although it didn't make her faster, it works for her.  The first thing she needed to do was learn to purl.  Now, if you've ever tried to purl with the yarn in your left hand, there's two ways to do it.  An awkward way that leaves the stitch in the right position for the knit row, or a quick way that twists the stitch and means you have to knit through the back loop.  She found the quick way easier (it really is), and had no problem now knitting through the back loops on the knit row. It's fine until you come to specific instructions like "knit into front and back".  We both had to figure these things out; kfb becomes kbf.

So, once her stocking stitch was going well, we started on the cat.  It's a busy pattern, with stuff  going on almost every row until the upper leg and then body.  The first leg took her maybe a month?  It got faster after that.  She's not an "every day knitter", she will go long stretches without doing any, and then spend a long time at one go.  She was determined to get it done by Christmas though.  I was doing the sewing up for her, and although it's not hard, I was quite busy with my Christmas orders.  And I knit the tail.  And ears.  I got it all done and put kitty in the tree late on Christmas Eve.  I don't think she found it till about Dec 27 LOL.  It still doesn't have a face though.  I suggested that leaving the face off adds to the abstract feel of the kitty.

Her and her brother got a little rough with kitty though, and the pipe cleaners in the legs have risen up.  Wish I had known this before I sewed together the unicorn I'm working on!  One day sooner...

She got the book again and bought some colourful yarn to make another one.   She had thought she'd make one of each cat in the book, but she's picked the same pattern again.  Bit by bit, she's moving along :)
The yarn amount was included in the 2014 totals.  It took 18gr!  I wonder if my scale was off?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Earless Bear

I got a call from a woman who had seen the 5 bear hoodies I had done, and wanted one for her daughter.  Also aged 6.  Also the same mushroom colour.  And even the same button.  Which I couldn't find, so I used a similar one.

Don't have much to say about it, but I thought this time I might write down the actual details so I don't have to do another swatch and math again.

9mm hook (for me, it's the one with the black dot on the end).  Cozy Wool.  Chain 46.  Single crochet 45stitches, for 14 rows, decreasing down to 41sc on rows 13 and 14.  Cut yarn.  Find middle stitch, and start yarn again one stitch beside it.  Work around, single crochet, joining the two halves at the back and working around to that centre stitch, leaving it.  Work these 40sts for 12.5".  Sew the top seam, loosely so it blends, and steam.  Sew the lower back seam, leaving the bottom inch open.  Don't forget the button and your tag.  283grams means THREE  balls of Cozy Wool for size 6-8.  Luckily, I had some left from another ball, and I worked it into the main part of the hood.  I really could not see a difference in the dye lots.

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 283gr + 496gr = 779gr
Balance: 279gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/19 days = $1.12/day

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Toothless #3

I was supposed to knit three Toothless stuffies for Christmas orders, but only got one done, and that was actually for Jan 2 (already shown), and the client for #2 and #3 said she'd just take one for Jan 11, her daughter's birthday instead.  Not much new to show by now LOL.

There's not a whole lot of ways to pose him, and it's cold outside!  Maybe next time, if it's warm, I'll take him out front or to the park.  There's also no way to make each one unique.  He is who he is!

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out:  200gr + 263gr + 33gr (donation) = 496gr
Balance: 4gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:  $21.19/17 days = $1.25/day

Friday, January 16, 2015


I wonder how many posts I've titled "Ooops!"  LOL!

I made a nice black infinity scarf back (scroll down) in the fall.  I wear it a lot.  I figured it was time to wash it.  I carefully put it in the mesh lingerie bag and washed it, and dried it.  I had used a variety of chunky black yarns.  I assumed they were mostly Patons "Shetland Chunky".  Well, I guessed wrong!

See that bit in the middle, how the stitches have no definition and it squishes in a bit?  Yeah.  Apparently some of the yarn I used was wool and felted.  It goes in bands like this around the scarf.  Basically two rows fine, two rows felted.  I stretched it out a bit while damp so it's pretty much the same length now, just a bit shorter.  The new texture is kind of neat, and I'm okay with that...but sometimes accidental feltings do happen and the results aren't so easy to deal with.  Always wash an item with multiple yarns as gentle as the most delicate of the yarns says to.  And if you don't know the yarns, treat it as hand wash, or at least gentle cycle.  This would have been washed on a cool setting too, so some of the felting happened in the short time in the dryer.

Then, I noticed that the cream coloured scarf I made for myself (and a match for my mom) seemed to be stretching and getting longer.  Now, I KNEW the one yarn had wool content, so I put it in with a fairly hot load and checked it a few times to make sure it wasn't matting.  And wouldn't you felting!  It's a bit longer than I'd like for two wraps around the neck, but three wraps are a little snug.  Whatever.  They're quick and easy to make and fun and easy to wear.  Made another one tonight :)

Stay Tuned

I've been having trouble getting my computer to read my BRAND new memory card.  It did the first time, but not since.  However, it didn't like any of my other cards either, so who knows.  I have photos from a unicorn surgery to share, but I took them on the iPad, just have to see if I can blog from it now.  And another Toothless!  I had two "in stock" hats go out this week, thanks to an online auction hosted by another crafty WAHM, and I have another teddy hooded cowl to go out tonight--except it has no ears, so it's just a beige hooded cowl :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Division

This year, I'm going to keep track of the yarn I get out of the house by donation/selling.  I'm curious to see just how much yarn I use up for actual projects and how much of my total is by donating.  I don't often get yarn donated to me, but once in awhile I do luck out.  Every time I see my stash, I think--I need to thin this.  Then, I try (or try to find yarn my daughters can use) and every single ball in my stash has a potential purpose.  Crazy.  I have a bin of odd balls of worsted weight yarns, for when I'm doing little hats, or stripes, or characters that need a small bit.  I have a bin of mohair type yarns, a bin of "textured" yarns, a bin of "good yarn" (ie--will never give away or sell but will probably never use cause it's too good), a bin of Paton's "Divine", a bin of cottons, and another bin of assorted.  And, a garbage bag of more, a cone tree, two six-cubby units, and cones on top of those units.  I really thought being in business would mean I get to use up my stash.  When I started out though, I got a little excited and did buy up lots of odd balls of textured and mohair yarns for newborn props.  I haven't done much new born props lately, but that yarn isn't good for a whole lot else, except scarves and trims.

Anyway, collected up 33gr of brown yarn for a fellow lunch supervisor's daughter who's doing a school project :)

Donated Out:  33gr
Donated In:  0gr

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sideways Mittens in Garter Stitch

I have an Mon Tricot magazine.  Part instructional book, part stitch dictionary, part pattern library.  There is a sideways knit mitten pattern that I always thought looked neat.  Megan is wanting to expand beyond dishcloths, but I didn't think she was ready for purling.  She's done increases and decreases though.  I thought if I wrote the pattern out in a better format, she could follow it.  However, the pattern just says DK wool, needle 3.25mm, fits size 7 1/2.  Meg has big hands, but I don't know what 7 1/2 equals, and with no gauge given, it's impossible to figure the sizing.  I asked for pattern testers on a couple sites on Facebook, but got no response.  I figured we'd just wing it and see what happens.

Well, they're obviously too long and were getting too wide so we eliminated a bunch of rows for the width.  Then the thumb placement--done by short rows--was not right.  Tried to fix that, but the thumb is still too low and long. I'm re-writing the pattern to fit her properly, now that I have a gauge to work with (and she got 19st/22 rows in garter stitch.  It couldn't be 20st, could it?  LOL). I'm not sure how to adjust the thumb gusset.  The short rows went by 4 stitches, I'm thinking of doing three stitches, or even two.  But I just don't have time to test it out.  I feel bad for her, that I'm so busy and it's hard to find a pattern for something nice, usable, and easy to follow.  I know there's math--how many rows needed to go around the thumb, and how many stitches difference between the start of the thumb gusset and the longest part...but there are times that knitting math lies.  I searched Ravelry, but there doesn't seem to be an equivalent pattern.  We're going to rip this mitten back to the start of the thumb and hopefully get it placed right.  There was a bit of shaping issue with the top of the hand, it didn't come out symmetrical, but maybe it'll block out LOL.  Stay tuned for updates.  I also think DK yarn for mittens, in Ontario, is silly.  This would go a lot quicker if it were worsted weight, and be warmer.  I see the need for a few different mitten patterns :)

Friday, January 09, 2015

Let There Be Light!

Okay, this hat isn't self-lighting, but it looks that way when the light hits it!

It was totally NOT the hat I intended to make.  I started on Boxing Day with some cool multi-coloured yarn (in the Earth Mix), and I had first wanted to add reflective orange stripes--but the orange in the yarn is not as bright.  I don't have a brown reflective yarn, and the black was a little harsh, so I thought the dark grey reflective would work.  The cuff started off with the plain brown part, and I did two rows, then two rows grey, two rows brown, two rows grey, two rows brown...two rows grey...two rows brown...and I got really bored of the brown!  How long was it going to go for?!  So I ripped back to the top of the ribbing and found the next colour in the yarn.  Here, I discovered that it's not a gradual change...they cut one yarn and overlap the next pattern, and sew the ends together!  Huh?!  I got a little creative with doing 2 rows of the coloured (I mean: 2 Boston, 2 Reflective, 2 Boston, 2 Reflective) and then changing to a different section of the Boston Mix.
But the kids hated it.  They don't often hate something I make.  They might not like it, but don't care.  But while Grandpa is not a slave to fashion, they still thought it was ugly.

So, New Year's Eve I changed gears.  They wanted me to do bright orange with black reflective.  I thought that looked a little too Halloweenish.  He has a black and yellow John Deere jacket, so I went with that, though I didn't want to do the same 2 row stripes because it might look like a bee costume.

I cast on using the alternate cable cast on from Monste Stanley's book.  As I was doing the ribbing I was worried about the size, and that once stretched, it seemed rather open...not sure how to describe it.  So, I used larger needles and picked up all the knit stitches from the cast on row, then increased in each stitch on the first row, and made a stockinette band for the inside.  Then, at the top of the ribbing, I knit both bands together to join (if I had had some fleece material, I would have sewn a strip inside for more warmth, but by this time, we were on the road to my parents).
 I think I used the larger needles for the body part (6mm) but I can't be certain.  I did two rows reflective, 4 rows yellow, two rows reflective, then about 10 rows yellow, repeat the stripes while doing the decreases.
I finished it off and duplicate stitched his name during the Christmas/birthday party (I had been working on Toothless too).  Stuffed it in a bag and handed it over.  I had thought the cast on might not be stretchy enough so I was trying to loosen it off by drawing the long tail I had left, through the stitches.  It was tedious and if I set it down, it was hard to tell what direction to go seemed two steps forward, one step back.  Might have been because of the alternate cable cast on.  I did maybe two inches worth.  But then the join was a bit wonky, and in my haste, I didn't pay attention when I started duplicate stitching his name, and somehow, ended up there :(

Do you think it needs a pom pom?

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out:  63gr + 200gr = 263gr
Balance: 237gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:  $21.19/9 days = $2.35/day

Thursday, January 08, 2015


I bought myself some yarn on Tuesday.  So, I lasted six days into the new year.  I was shopping for yarn for an order, and at a little yarn store.  There was a great ball of baby yarn in the sale bin!  Then I realized I didn't have any cash and didn't want to put $5 on debit at a small store.  I didn't want to walk out either.  Then I found the cubby with some Patons "Divine".  I love this yarn.  I knew I had some of the other colours but that I was pretty much out of the ivory. The other yarn is Cascade Yarns "Pinwheel", in blues.  A  white and striping blues, twirl.  So, I got three balls of ivory.  $21.19, 500gr.

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out:  200gr
Balance: 300gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:  $21.19/8 days = $2.65/day

So, I'll have to go without buying until about Jan 15 to get it back down to the $1.41/day range.  And I'm still looking for yarn for that order.  I have some, but just don't think it's quality enough.  But trying to find the right colour, and the right gauge (so I don't have to mess with the pattern), AND be very soft....difficult!!!   Especially since the pattern calls for Red Heart which is 17st/inch and a fairly stiff yarn, and most of the really nice yarns use 18st/4" as a standard gauge, and the soft ones might still feel too wimpy if he's looking for a thick hat.  

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

"How Much for that Hoodie with the Ears?"

Custom knitting.  Pricing your creations.  Copyright.  All these things have been written about before.  I'm just going to give a little insight into MY business.  This isn't going to be the same for all businesses, but it's what I'm comfortable with.

Custom vs Stock:  Some knitters (and please, remember, I'm including crocheters in this, and sewers, etc...) like to knit many items the same (or very similar) and have them on hand for when they see a post on Facebook "Who Makes Minion/Owl/Teddy hats?".  I have never been one to follow the crowd with knitting trends.  I haven't made an owl hat or a Minion hat.  I'm more of the "Oh, that pattern/yarn looks great.  I'm going to knit that and hope it sells". There seems to be two lines of thought on pricing "RTS" (Ready To Ship) items.  Some people price them higher because they don't know when they will sell, but when they do, the customer can have their item quicker.  Some people price lower because they've made it to fulfill their own crafting need, or maybe it was a test item, or an unclaimed custom.  Or they price lower because it's not custom.  I tend to price my RTS items a bit lower because they are just sitting in a bin, waiting for homes.  They're all unique pieces, mostly one of a kind ("OOAK"), done because I wanted to make them.  However, there's a couple items that I won't go low on, because they ARE OOAK.  It's really hard to market these items.  I can't have a standard price list, or size list.  I can just post pictures and say, "This is what I have".

 Originally, I thought I would be doing mostly this type of knitting.  I wanted to use up my stash knitting things I liked, and then sell them.  That's not what has happened!  I thought custom knitting was common place, and people were looking for RTS items.  Well, people who want it NOW usually just want to pay Wal-Mart prices.  But yet there are still lots of knitters doing this.  And talking to many, they don't want to do custom work.  I've talked to clients that have said they don't want RTS, they want custom.  Mmmm.

 Design Process:  When you purchase any handcrafted item, you might think you're just paying for the yarn and maybe the time to make it.  You know knitters knit while watching TV, on the bus, at kids' swim lessons.  Why should you pay for time spent watching TV?  Well, I could be doing something else, like exercising, gardening, baking...even other things that would pay me for the time.  But there's a LOT more to an item then the time and material to make it.  This applies to RTS and Custom items.

First, I get an email.  "I want this hat, in this colour, but very soft.  And for this size".  Usually, they've included a link that allows me to find the pattern quickly and easily.   If I found the original pattern, then I have to source that yarn, or a substitute.  If I can find that yarn, and the client likes it, AND it comes in the right colour---awesome!  But you know how often all that happens?  1 in 100.  Usually, the yarn doesn't come in that colour.  Or, it's not machine washable.  Or missing one other attribute.  These types of orders are quite stressful, because the client has already formed a picture of what it will look like.

In most cases, I do get a bit more leeway.  "A small, light coloured teddy".  I find a suitable pattern and use it as is, or modify as needed.  Or, I just wing it.  I have 20 years of constant knitting experience, with another 15  years of dabbling before that.  I have a large yarn stash and pattern collection.  I love these types of orders, although it's also a little stressful--what if they don't like it?  Most people who present these types of requests are pretty easy going and open to trusting me.  This is more like how I thought I'd be doing business.

In between those two are the "copycat" orders.  "Can you make me this sweater/newborn prop/hat?" Then they start adding qualifiers.  Must be machine washable, must be grey.  But not dark grey, and not pale grey.  Must be soft.  Must be longer/wider/shorter.  Here's where it gets really tricky.  I might find the perfect yarn--but it's not the right thickness to give the look in the pattern.  Or, it might not be the right shade.  Or, it's handwash.  I spend a LOT of time just looking and touching yarns, reading labels.  Looking on the internet for existing patterns for these items--if someone made it before, then maybe there's already a pattern.  But then, I'm still having to  match the yarn.

  If someone sent me a picture of a commercially made item it's often hard to find a yarn to replicate it.  The yarn section at Michaels is big....but not all encompassing.  I immediately stress with the initial inquiry that while I can often copy it closely, it's unlikely to be identical.  I ask the client what they like most about it, what they dislike.  I do like these orders--I find it fun (usually) to figure out the pattern without having to start the design process from the very beginning.

The Costs:  Such a hot topic!  Some people charge two times, or three times, the material cost.  But then there are the unseen costs.  Did I have to buy a pattern?  Will I be able to use that pattern again?  Did I have to spend time designing a pattern?  Did I have to spend time searching for a pattern or inspiration?  How much time did I spend at the computer, comparing yarns/patterns.  How many trips to the yarn store?  How long did it take to knit samples, collect sample yarns, photograph, email designers, email the client....While it might take me only two days to crochet a small hoodie, the whole process from that first message can take two weeks or more---if I have no other orders!  Do I charge less because all these other factors make it take longer than a RTS hoodie?  Or do I charge more because it's custom?

The Working Process:  In knitting, there are monogamous knitters, and non-monogamous.  I tend to have several items on the go at once.  I had a two hour drive recently.  When the kids are along, it's hard to focus, so I choose a mid-level project (having patterns on the tablet help, because then I don't need light to read the pattern at night).  I went to a movie recently and thought I took a good, simple project, but the movie was really dark and my yarn got tangled, and I couldn't even see if I had knit one or two rounds in the first colour.  Today, I have another Toothless being assembled on my couch.  Many pieces!  Also need to sew down pipecleaners to give it structure.  This is not a good project to take to my daughter's skating lesson!  So, I will likely take another project.  While it is a good time to focus on more complicated patterns, I don't like to lug around a bag filled with many yarns, patterns, supplies.  So, I might choose a simpler pattern.  This might end up meaning a more recent order gets their item before a previous order.  It's all about using my time most effectively.  And no, I don't expect to get paid minimum wage while knitting in the viewing area!  But, it is still my time.  I could actually come home and get dinner ready!  So, my prices generally seem to be lower than some knitters, and my times seem to be a bit longer, but I'm okay with that and so are my clients.  It amazes me that they are willing to wait two months for a custom item!  That's awesome.  So I put my best into it!  That just means it takes longer, LOL.

The True Tracy Way:  This is my tag line.  For years, my husband would say "Oh, gee, it's done in the true Tracy way!".  This would mean that when I navigated him somewhere, I would choose a route suiting me (scenic, easy to navigate, yarn store stop).  Or, somehow, I manage to turn a simple task into a more complicated one because of unexpected issues or my clumsiness or forgetfulness.  Or, a simple task turns complicated but ends up being way better than the original.  I rarely seem to take the easy path in anything I do.  Sometimes that's intentional, often not.  But it makes for an interesting life!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Sip Sip!

Back in mid-November, my cousin sent me a picture of a cupholder mitten for sale.  I had seen it before, but I`m not much of an outside drinker in the winter, LOL.  Looking at the picture, I thought, Hey...that would probably be quick to make in crochet, or on the machine--if I could figure out how it`s done.  By Dec 13 I had gotten around to searching for a crocheted pattern, and found a free one.  I got started late after my community band's Christmas concert.  Crochet is quick, right?  Well, maybe I should have done a simple single crochet instead of the "fancy" into front/back loop type thing.  It did go pretty quick (once I picked the yarn--I wanted this for the "girl" gift for a gift exchange game and none of my chunky yarns were really girly, plus I wanted it sort of neutral), but still not super quick.  I got the cupholder part done, then thought I might hand knit the cuff in ribbing for a good fit.  But I wasn't in love with it, especially once I realized there's no bottom.

So, I got to work on the knitting machine.  Digging through the stash, I was disappointed....I didn't think any of my washable wools were girly enough while still being neutral/basic.  Other yarns were "too good" for something I'm making to give away and I don't even know if the receiver will like it.  I finally opted to use Patons "Decor" in a dark, dark green and Bernat Mosaic in a colour with some pink.  The Mosaic is slightly thicker, but I hoped it wouldn't show.

 I crocheted the little heart in pink for the one mitten because there ended up being no pink in it's stripes.

I made the mitten first, using numbers from Ann Budd's "Handy Book of Patterns".  On the LK150, 40sts, I think T5.5.  20 rows of ribbing.  Then, I worked on the cupholder.  I did the cuff the same, then took half the stitches, and put two rows on waste yarn.  Then I continued over all the stitches for twice the length of the regular mitten.  Took off on waste yarn.

Sewed up the mitt.  It was a little big on me (could have been knit tighter too).  Fiddled with the cupholder mitten, and realized it was too long.  Sewed the long edges together (did the cuff, then skipped the few couple rows where the waste yarn was, then sewed most of the long side), then pinned the cast off to the waste yarn.  WAY too big.  I ripped back and tried again with a disposable coffee cup.  Still too big.  Ripped out a bit more, and it was perfect.  Grafted the open cast off to the two (half) rows on the waste yarn.

I wanted a bottom.  A while ago, I had made a newborn hat in this yarn, but it was a little small.  I ripped it back so I could use the yarn, and somehow, I had a crochet circle that was nearly a perfect fit!  I sewed it in along the seam line.  Added my personalized tag, and wrapped her up.

I made this on December 18/19.  I'm a member of the Yahoo group for Machine Knitting.  I wasn't really keeping up with the group digests.  Last week I got a chance to look through them more closely--especially one message that said it was a "surprise pattern" (and posted on December 14).  I checked the messages and someone had posted a picture of their completed surprise.  It was a cupholder mitten!!  I can't follow along her pattern very well just by reading it (my fault, not hers).  I will have to re-read it really well and try to visualize it.  If only I had read it right away--and knew what it was supposed to be!   The one thing I'd change with my pattern is to do some plain knitting after the ribbing and make the opening where the thumb of the regular mitten splits off (my opening was at the base of the thumb, and the ribbing gets pulled up to compensate).
Of  course, I didn't write down how many rows I ended up for the cupholder.  And I didn't weigh them.  And the girl that won them doesn't have a kitchen scale.  And now that I've remembered that some of the yarn came from a project already accounted for...bah.  I'm sticking with the 100gr estimate I already included in last year's totals.  I based that on there being 100gr left of the two balls, which were each 100gr.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Toothless #2

...AKA "Clawless".  Oops.  Didn't have him finished before we left for my family Christmas party, and I forgot to pack the crochet hooks to make his claws!

 Not the greatest pictures.  It was COLD and I wasn't really in the mood to go hunting nice spots to photograph.
 This time, for his eyes, I took a piece of the reflective strand from Red Heart's "Reflective" and made a line in his eyes.  When the light hits it, it glows!  I wasn't thrilled with the eyes in general though.  Rushing a bit.
One thing I did this time that helped was to carry a piece of contrasting yarn up at the start of the round and at the half way point (I was doing Magic Loop).  The start of the round is the belly.  I was hoping this would make lining up the wings and legs quicker, and it did, though one front leg is either higher than the other or maybe it was longer, or maybe I'm too picky.

He was very well received though, and that's what matters!
 See the glowing in the eye?

She hugged him for a long time :)

I don't have an exact weight on him yet.  However, the first Toothless weighed 150gr, so I'm going with that.  Edit:  I just made another one, the same, and it weighs 218gr.  I'm going to call them at 200gr. My mother says I should include his totals under 2014, since he was supposed to be done for Dec 27, but the party was delayed till Jan 2.  But he wasn't done...and by making this the first project of 2015, I start the year on the negative side :)

Yarn In:  0gr
Yarn Out:  200gr
Balance:  200gr more USED than Bought
Costs:  $0