color up

May 9, 2012

after turning in my final papers on monday,
a combination of
poor diet,
lack of sleep,
and caffeine overdose
reduced me to a bedridden shell of a man.

so of course i got up at the crack of dawn on tuesday
and drove forty minutes for a knitting class
with the yarn harlot.

i knew my knitter buddy melynda was going to be there
and that she was bringing friends.
so i re-upped my starbucks dosage,
hid my raccoon eyes with sunglasses,
and headed to howell.

while i learned all about color knitting techniques
(fair isle, stranded, intastia, slipped stitches etc.)
my favorite piece of info was how colors are put together
and how we are instinctively drawn to put certain colors together
unless, of course, one is color blind*.
(can you guess which block belongs to me?)

more than anything,
i was happy to hang with melynda

and make new knitterly friends.(erica is an excellent colorer)
(and knitterella can put away more burrito than you think she can!)

as usual, beth harassed me,
telling me how i needed to be a better spinner and knitteri retaliated with my camera.

most of the day, we all laughed hysterically;
i had the best table mates!
i have dubbed us
the heathers.

our one table mate, kelly, is actually a reader!
(i never, ever get used to the fact that people read my blog)
she called us the “knitterati”, and had us pose for a photo.(photo courtesy of knitterella)
while i would never put myself on their level
it was flattering of kelly to include me.

memorable quotes from the heathers’ table
that are probably only funny if you were there:

“it’s a different green!”
“i’m just going to make it done”
“sucking on a scone”
“something’s sucking something”
“i blew the blue”
“owl pellets”

as you can see, there was an . . . oral theme at our table.

after all the color hilarity and stress bombs,
i returned home to some neutral heaven.

*no, i’m not colorblind

on dec 1,
at midnight,
the bitches get stitches world aids day project will go live.

i could never have pulled this off without the help of my gracious sponsors. they run the gambit from big yarn companies, to independent dyers & designers, to some of my favorite knitter/friends.

with their help, i have gathered an amazing array of loot to give away to raise money for the pittsburgh aids task force.

make sure to be here on december 1 to find out how you can enter to win one of these amazing prizes.

***you will only have the 24 hour window on world aids day to enter, so make sure you’re here on dec 1***

below is just the list;
there will be a gallery of photos for you to drool over later.

dah loot!

1. 5 e-patterns
sponsor – spillyjane

2. 3 e-patterns
sponsor – jane richmond

3. 2 braids of gradients merino/silk top – 1 in the ‘bitter lime to rose’ color way & 1 in the ‘copper to verdigris’ color way
sponsor – fiber optic yarns

4. 2 skeins of kashmir sock yarn – 1 in the ‘blood moon’ color way & 1 in the ‘pomegranate’ color way
sponsor – fiber optic yarns

5. 1 skein manchester sock yarn in the ‘kimuru’ color way & 1 braid of 80/20 merino silk top in the ‘pasch’ color way.
sponsor – into the whirled

6. a pair of herrevott man mittens, hand-knit by misa erder & a copy of her original pattern, vagabond fingerless mitts
sponsor – misa erder aka craftivore

7. 3 skeins of handspun yarn – 1, 2, & 3
sponsors – yarn old kim, sarah aka paknitwit, and natalie servant designs

8. 1 sock pattern of your choice and one skein of sock yarn to knit it
sponsor – blue moon fiber arts

9. the mothership, handmade by yokoo
sponsor – yokoo scarves & accessories

10. 1 skein abstract fiber hepburn in marionberry color way
1 skein abstract fiber picasso in smith rock color way
2 patterns from fibre isle international, suitable for dk weight yarn
3-1 oz packettes unicorn power scour
1-2 oz jar woolen rabbit hand cream
3 jul pedestal buttons
1 stonewall bonnet pattern, plus the yarn to make it, snuggle, from the alpaca yarn company
sponsor – yarnsuperhero llc

11. 1-7 small shawls ebook, 1-7 small shawls y2 subscription, 1 pattern only subscription for the pins and lace club x1
sponsor – designs by romi

12. 1 skein hand-dyed serenity 20 sock yarn from zen yarn garden, in the exclusive ‘go pittsburgh’ color way
sponsor – natural stitches

13. 2 skeins of tess designer yarnssuperwash lace
100% Merino, approx 500 yards each
sponsor – yvonne a.k.a. knitnat

14. 2 skeins of wabi sabi yarns trumpet vine dk in magenta hibernating colorway, & three patterns: lilas cardigan, gemma, & cloudy sunday
sponsor – hilary smith callis

15. 1-4oz braid of yarn hallow mixed merino top in the ‘red rocks and spruce’ color way
sponsor – the spinning loft

16. 6 e-patterns – french press felted slippers, breckenridge cowl, montebello texture cowl, aravis, 3-in-1 felted baby booties, and legacy
sponsor – french press knits

17. ebook subscription for knitspot’s upcoming “bare naked club”
sponsor – knitspot

18. $15 gift card for knitspot’s online pattern store
sponsor – knitspot

19. $15 gift card for knitspot’s online pattern store
sponsor – knitspot

20. 3 skeins of kolláge yarns’ luscious in the ‘cherry’, ‘walnut’, ‘color burst’ color ways
sponsor – kolláge yarns

21. 2 skeins of roxi in the ‘signature red’ color way by the grinning gargoyle & 1 copy of schmetterling
sponsor – the grinning gargoyle & mushroom knits

22. HizVest e-pattern
sponsor – stephen hizknits houghton & blue moon fiber arts

23. 1 pair of hand-knit socks knit with silkie socks that rock, hand dyed by me.
sponsor – yours truly

24. 15 balls of cashmere trend in red
sponsor – skacel

25. 1 addi click set in your choice of bamboo, turbo, or lace
sponsor – skacel

whew! now that’s a list, bitches!

let’s just get this out of the way: i finished my sweater.
and i hope to never be put in that position ever again.

i knitted almost the entire drive from pittsburgh,
and had to pop pills to dull the pain in my hands and continue.
i could never have done it without the support of my travel buddies
kelli, lisa, and especially andrea who had the needles i needed.

around 11 p.m. friday night
with pits to kitch
and ends to weave in,
i bound off

too tightly and my sweater wouldn’t fit over my head.

i kinda wanted to die.

rather than commit suicide,
i decided to work on finishing.

when midnight rolled around,
my underarms were well closed
and most of my ends were woven in.
but i knew i couldn’t go on.
i’d have to finish in the morning.

as soon as the alarm went off,
before i even remembered my own name,
i found my chibi, and finished weaving in my ends.

i then ripped out my collar
borrowed a bigger needle size
and knitted like the wind.

in the parking lot of the dutchess county fairgrounds,
i bound off for a second time,
and pulled that bitch over my extra-large cabeza!


and walked through the gate properly attired.
(which was good since i didn’t really bring a coat and it was pretty cold)

the rest is a blurred happy memory.
there was yarn. there were sheep.
there were several nips of whiskey from my flask.

here are the highlights:
i met the pocket wheel

and now want one.

i ran into adrienne martini, a new old friend from the blogosphere,

and clara parkes who knew who i was! really, she knew the hotpants from maryland and i told her i was the one who knitted them.

i also ran into beth hansen who i met back at the silk retreat. she was selling the lovely miniSpinner.

i now want one of them as well.

there was this crazy wheel that i do not want.

i saw bobsolda and casey at the ravelry meetup.

it was kinda more creepy than cute.

(also i totally have a crush on jess aka frecklegirl aka mama rav’s brother.
what can i say? i love me a ginger beard.)

the lovely melynda of french press knits spotted me and my sweater, and we finally got to meet in person. i got to feel the baby bump and meet her husband too. she was so beautiful in every sense of the word. i loved how michigany she was, her accent and demeanor. she made me miss home.

of course i was so caught up in the moment that it didn’t occur to me document the moment. *sigh* curse this blond hair!

between nips of whiskey,
andrea and i hung out at the beer garden.

there was this guy who was apparently very into carbs.

i spun on my future wheel.

it was brand new and heavily discounted.
they wanted cash, didn’t take plastic.
shady? i thought so.
and kept walking.

i headed back to the motel to rest and get ready.

on my way out i saw uma fucking thurman get out of her car
with an unidentified homely gay man.

she was smoking what appeared to be a parliament light.

the lady directing traffic asked her, “aren’t you in the movies?”
uma replied, “i used to be!” and kept walking.
then i snapped this shot.

i was too chicken to be a real papparazzo.
but andrea can back me up that this was in fact her.

after dinner, it was time to party ravelry style.
i slipped on the hotpants,
grabbed my tuxedo jacket,
and off we went.

the highlight for me was finally meeting ms. helloyarn herself.

i’ve been stalking. . . er. . . befriending her online ever since i started knitting.
i spotted her earlier at the ravelry meetup,
but was too apple juice* to say hello.
plus i didn’t have my gift for her.

i decided the rav party would be the perfect time.

i stood right next to her at the bonfire but didn’t see her.
she couldn’t see me either but couldn’t miss the hotpants.
those shorts saved my ass!

she gave me jam.
i gave her booze.
it was perfect.

i had an emotion.
i posed with the ladies of the sanguine gryphon

who are both beautiful and fabulous.
(but i really love the rabbit-eared photo bomber in this shot!)

i spotted melynda again, and made up for my earlier absent-mindedness.

and yes, blondes do have more fun.

when i met the smoking sheep puppet

i knew it was time to get the hell outta there.

but before i left,
i swallowed the last of my apple juice,
and asked mary-heather for a photo.

you know how, people online can be totally different in person?
like they seem super sweet and nice online,
but are really a complete bitch?

this is so not the case with mary-heather.
she comes off not only as sweet and nice,
but beautiful and intelligent.

she is all good vibes folks.

here we are

blurry and fabulous!

after freezing to death waiting for the bus,
i headed back to the motel and slept like a christian.

the next day was a bit lower key.
i hung with yvonne and kim,
bought some loot
and just tried to take it all in before i had to head home.

i had a lovely time.

but the absolute best part was the handful of people who came up to me all geeked out telling me they love my blog. that seriously made everything worth it. to those readers i say thank you so so much for making rhinebeck for me!

if you spotted me i’d love to hear it.
and if you took my photo, i’d love to see that too!

oh yeah,
hear’s my loot.

socks from lisa.
sweater from me.
jam from hello yarn.
two skeins of sunna by spirit trail fiberworks.
two skeins of bugga by the sanguine gryphon.

see you next year!

*apple juice is our term for losing all sense of intelligence in the presence of a celebrity of some sort.

project ten: take one

July 22, 2010

welcome to the first installment of project ten!
when i first came up with the idea of these mini-interviews,
i knew exactly who i wanted my first participant to be.
like many of you, she first hit my radar when everyone and their mother started making her charming felted slippers.
months later, she and i became online buddies,
reminiscing about meeting the yarn harlot at the detroit public library.

my dearest bitches, i’m thrilled to present to you
up and coming designer and fellow michigander,
the beautiful melynda of french press knits!

thanks so much melynda for being here.

You’re so welcome- so excited to be your first project ten ‘guinea pig’

are you ready to go?

Yup.

nervous?

Of course!

let’s get started then.
here we go ladies and gents!

10 questions for french press knits

1) i’m going to start with what could be the most important question any knitter can ask another. its answer immediately places you in one of two major camps, and the repercussions can be devastating. are you ready? english or continental?

Starting with that?! I know I have offended others by admitting this in the past. Primarily Continental. I taught myself English for fair Isle purposes but don’t even use it for that.

2) i would argue that it’s your felted slippers that put you on the map so to speak (and you’re free to disagree with me). what drew you to felting?

Honestly, before the slippers, I hadn’t done much felting. I liked the idea of having a manufactured looking product that was actually handmade. Also, I wanted a new pair of slippers, so, like most things I want, I figured there would be a way for me to make it. Sometimes I have a hard time finding exactly what I want in stores, I like the satisfaction of making exactly what I want, and with a cheaper price tag.

3) as a follow up, why do you think your felted slippers became so popular?

I think other people thought they were cute and were drawn to the design. At the time, there were no others quite like them, so they stood out. The other big events were the fact that they were at the top of the ‘New and Popular’ list on Ravelry, followed by the postings from the Yarn Harlot. These things came with many more blog posts, Ravelry projects, and word seemed to spread. As a new designer, it was a dream come true!

4) creating a persona that reflects who you are is so important, especially with the advent of ravelry. in many cases, it’s vital to one’s success in crossing over from enthusiastic knitter to successful designer. how did you come up with the name french press knits, and how does it reflect who you are as a person? as a designer?

Well, the story behind the name is not all that exciting. In February ’09 I decided to open an Etsy shop. At the time, I was in a big work-out kick (they don’t happen all the time, I need to take advantage of them when they come!) and was training for a race. During the training I discovered that a bit of caffeine an hour before my run seemed to help things along. Because of this, my french press coffee pot was always out on the counter.

My husband Joe and I had been trying to come up with a name for my shop for a few weeks. His suggestions were always better than mine, so it’s no surprise that he came up with “French Press Knits” one night. The idea is this- it doesn’t make much sense, we just wanted it to be catchy. I do think it sounds classy and timeless, which is what I want to reflect in my designs. I do get a good laugh when Joe’s friends refer to it as ‘Fresh Prince Knits’ though!

5) can you describe how you made the jump from knitter to designer?

I have always enjoyed making things, creating a tangible product for my work, and my day job really didn’t provide that sort of satisfaction. This is why, a little over a year ago, I thought it sounded like fun to start an Etsy shop. I read in some places that you can’t sell finished products from patterns, and decided I wanted to honor that (especially when designers requested it on their patterns). I started coming up with simple, quick designs that would not take much time to produce. I aimed for projects that required less than two hours of work. I work full time and as much as I love crafting and creating, my time is limited.

So, I started selling my cowls, felted baby booties, and French Press Felted Slippers in my Etsy shop. Before too long, I had knitters contacting me and asking if I was on Ravelry and if I sold my designs there. I had never heard of this mysterious land, so I went to check it out. I’m not going to lie- I was baffled by the empty screens and never thought I would actually take the time to upload pictures of my projects on to the computer. I left and didn’t sign back on for a while.

Fast forward to summer where I took a month off from producing slippers to make my first adult-sized sweaters for myself and realized what an amazing resource Ravelry is. I posted some pictures of finished slippers and many people commented and asked if I would come out with a pattern. I had considered it in the past, but never thought it would be so rewarding. I have published most of the designs that I orginally used in my Etsy shop, and am now working on other patterns.

6) and how has the transition from hobby to business affected your relationship to knitting?

In so many ways I love it- I wouldn’t trade this for the world and I never dreamed I would be so busy writing knitting patterns. It does make it hard when I see something I would love to make and know that I would never have time to make it. I will be working on a cardigan pattern soon that will be for myself, and I can’t wait to wear it!

7) i’m a pretty consistent reader of your blog, and i’m completely jealous of your studio. how’s it coming along?

Well, I announced on my blog a couple weeks ago that I am actually expecting my first child in November. We found out at the end of March when the basement was *almost* finished. Although it seems we are working on it constantly, we are still *almost* finished. Who knew that stage could take so long?! Now that I have my energy back, things are moving again. I have my first baby shower mid-August and it will actually be down in the newly-finished basement, so now I have a deadline. At this point it’s finishing touches and furnishing. I think it will be quite a while until the studio is ‘done’, I’ll probably be filling it for years to come!

8 ) growing up in my area of michigan, i was pretty oblivious to the fiber arts. partly because my family wasn’t into them but looking back, i don’t remember a strong presence in what was my neck of the woods. what’s the fiber arts community like in your area?

Well, I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, but there seem to be quite a few great shops right around me. Even though it is not the most ‘local’ shop to me, I consider Center Street Knits in Northville my LYS. It has the most lovely interior and is located in a great downtown area. If you are ever nearby, you must stop in!

9) while knitting arguably gets the most attention, it’s certainly not the only fiber art. what is the one branch of the fiber arts you wish you were better at and why?

I feel I should brush up on my crochet skills. I learned to crochet before I learned to knit, but I never really did much with it. There are so many edges and finishing techniques that I could learn if I just worked on the basics.

10) if you could interview one person for project 10, who would it be and what would you ask them?

A new designer that I love is Hillary Smith Callis of The Yarniad. You may recognize her name because she was the designer behind the famed “Citron” in Knitty this past winter. I would just want to know how she comes out with so many great designs so quickly!

thanks again for being the first project ten participant.
i can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Thanks so much for making me a part of this- can’t wait to read the interviews with the other designers!

*melynda and her husband live across the street from the house she grew up in in hartland, michigan. both her and her husband’s family live close by, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. there’s a little french press on the way so get out your baby patterns! you can find melynda on ravelry, facebook, etsy, twitter, or read her lovely blog here.

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