2.27.2015

What I'm Reading/Watching: February 2015

I did pretty good with the book reading/listening again this month!

Once I started Gone Girl, I couldn't put it down. I blasted through the second half of the book in one day. I will definitely be reading more of Gillian Flynn's books in the future. So good.
I also read The Great Gatsby.
Why The Great Gatsby? That's not the typical kind of book I've been reading! A few weeks ago I was cleaning the book shelves in our living room and I was looking at all these books I still have from high school and college. And I'm not even going to lie about it - a lot of them I never read. I was very good at faking my way through the English classes in my academic career. :) Anyway, I decided that this year I would like to read a few that I was assigned and never actually read or finished, along with some of the books that are typically assigned in school but for whatever reason weren't required reading for my classes. I think it will be a fun little challenge!

So, what did I think of Gatsby - 20 years after I was assigned to read it? It was alright. I started to like it when I was about 70% of the way through the book (thank you Kindle book all fancy with your percentages). I'm glad I read it finally, but it's not one I will be reading again. So what's next on "Jen's Required Reading?"  To Kill A Mockingbird. I seriously can't remember if I read this book, was assigned to read this book, or never had to read it. But anyway, whether I read it or not sometime in my youth, I'm reading it now. :)

As for audiobooks, with the solo drive to Fargo last week, I listened to a book on the way there and another book on the way home. It definitely helped pass the time!
I picked The Rosie Project because the audiobook was pretty short (around 8 hours) so I knew I could probably listen to the whole thing in the car. I LOVED it! So much so that I decided that for the drive home I had to listen to the next book in the series, The Rosie Effect. I highly recommend these books. They were sweet and funny and made for easy listening.

I'm doing pretty good on my reading challenge of reading/listening to 50 books in 2015. I'm up to 9 for the year already! What have you been reading? I want to hear about it!

Wonder what I read/watched last month? Check out this blog post.

2.26.2015

Saffron

Earlier this week I released the second pattern in my new Gradient Shawl Collection. I'd like to introduce you to Saffron:
$6.50

Saffron
is knit from the top-down. You start working the shawl as a half-circle shawl, then switch to a wedge construction, similar to a top-down triangle shawl. I love this shape - there's so many ways you can wear it!
Like Bandwagon, you can buy it as an individual pattern, or get the eBook, which is discounted until the third pattern comes out in early March.
$8.50 (until next pattern release)

I designed this shawl so that the charts can be repeated until you run out of yarn. The final chart in the pattern could be stopped at 4 different spots and would still make a great looking edge. Perfect for when you have that precious ball of gradient yarn and you want to use it all. For this shawl I used Twisted Fiber Art Muse - that's definitely a yarn I want to use up!


$6.50

Hope you enjoy this next shawl in the collection! There's 4 more to come, so stay tuned.

2.25.2015

WIP Wednesday: Flower Power Edition

I'm declaring baby shower season is now in full swing! I'm making all the baby things for all the babies. Currently I'm working on a Pastel Petals Afghan from Stacey Trock's lovely book, Modern Baby Crochet:
I am having so much fun working on this blanket. It's easy enough that I can watch tv or listen to a book while working on it. A win for me!
I love the double-crochet "flower petal" detail. I can't wait to add the rest of them. And I love the look of single crochet through the back loop.
I've made a couple mods to the pattern, which you can see on my Ravelry project page. The pattern is perfect, but I'm using a thicker yarn for mine so I made a couple changes as a result.
I love this blanket and hope mom and baby will too!

It's Wednesday, what are you working on? :)

2.23.2015

Prairie Yarns

Last week, I was in Fargo visiting my brother, sister-on-law and niece. What a great time! I always love going to Fargo. It's a great town and I had a wonderful visit (and it turned out to be a good week to be there...my brother broke his leg in two places the weekend before so I could drive him around and stuff). I've been to Fargo a few times, but never had time to check out a yarn shop until this most recent trip. It was suggested to me on Twitter that I visit Prairie Yarns, so I decided that was the one to check out.
I had so much fun wandering around the shop. Of course I had to check out the sock yarn selection:
I was excited to see a large amount of Done Roving yarn there. Lots of DK Gradient yarn available for making Beddington shawls!
They even had a small quantity of KnitCircus yarn. Of course I had to pick one to take home with me!
The selection of buttons was impressive:
In the end I came home with these beauties:
I'll be back in Fargo next month for my niece's first birthday. I hope I have time to stop into Prairie Yarns again!

Do you live in the Fargo/Moorhead area? Do you have a favorite shop in the area?

2.20.2015

FO Friday: A Valentine-y Christmas Blanket

Last November, when my brother told me that my niece, Roz, really wanted another blanket from Auntie Jen for Christmas I was so excited! I ordered some Brava Worsted from Knit Picks and was ready to get started.

Except I didn't. Things got a little crazy and I didn't work on the blanket and it wasn't ready for Christmas. Bad Auntie. Fortunately, Roz is only 11 months old now, so she didn't know. :) Anyway, I've been up in Fargo this week for a visit so I knew I wanted to bring the finished blanket with me. And, maybe it sort of worked out....the blanket is very "Valentines-y."
I originally bought the yarn with a different blanket it mind - one that was done in intarsia. But, the thought of handling several balls of yarn at once scared me away. So, I decided to go with a classic ripple and used the Neat Ripple Pattern instead. I predetermined how I was going to add the stripes based on the amount of yarn I had of each color. You can see the sequence on my Ravelry project page.
I love this blanket. It was so very fun to work on. I definitely will be making another one in the future. I'm thinking maybe one in Chicago Bulls colors for my Bulls-loving mother-in-law.

Do you crochet? Do you have a go-to blanket pattern? I want to hear about it! 

2.19.2015

More Baby Hats

Recently, my friend gave birth to a wee babe that came a couple weeks early. I made an Upside-Down Daisy Hat for her, which mom and baby love, but it won't fit her for awhile. Then the new mom sent me a message asking for a favor - the hand-knit hat they received while in the hospital had gone missing. She really loved it and wanted to know if I could make her a new one. She sent me a photo of the hat and I got to work. I took the photo with me to Joann's on the off-chance I could find the same yarn. No luck, but I did pick up some yarn in the same colors! I love these little hats:
I'm not typically into the novelty-ish yarn, but I couldn't resist the pom-pom yarn:
I hope mom and baby enjoy these new hats!

2.17.2015

The Swift

Last week I was using my yarn swift and was thinking about how I loved it so but never talked about it on the blog. So it's time to share! :)

A few months back I hit up Twitter and told the Twitter knitters I was looking for a new yarn swift. I received a suggestion to look into Hornshaw Wood Works. The swifts cost more than what I have spent in the past so at first I wasn't sure if I wanted one. But then I started thinking about it. I have long been fighting with my inexpensive swifts. Whether it was a table-top or umbrella swift, after awhile things start to breakdown. It was why I was in the market again for yet another one. Sometimes it's better to spend a little more if it's going to last, you know? Hornshaw had good reviews so I went for it.
And I'm so glad I did. I have been using this swift for months now with absolutely no problems. Winding yarn used to mean me stringing together every expletive I know in various combinations.  I actually like winding my yarn now!

The one I purchased is the Padauk yarn swift. I love the color! I also purchased the swift bag to keep everything together. I really like how the swift folds flat with the handmade screw to keep it in place.
It comes with the adjustable pegs so your yarn will fit on it just right.
It's so easy to set up you'll be winding in no time! Action shot:
I'm glad I finally have a swift that I know I will be able to use for years and years to come!

2.16.2015

The Pattern Checklist

Last week I posted this photo on Instagram after releasing Bandwagon and someone asked if I had posted it anywhere. I hadn't - until now. :)
When I was working in the lab, I was the queen of checklists. I had one coworker who could remember everything in his head. Not me. I had a daily checklist of reports to send, bottles to prep, tests to do. But when it came to my design business, there were no checklists. When I would release a new pattern I would try to remember everything I had to do or wanted to do and, of course, things got missed all the time. When I left my lab job last April, I started forming some checklists for the business, but it really came together after reading this post from Tara Swiger. After reading that, the pattern release checklist was formed!

My new pattern checklist has been a total lifesaver. While it's always evolving and I'm finding ways to make it better, it saves me from having to think - which I like. :) Just follow the checklist and everything will get done!

Here's what goes on my checklist:

  • Post Pattern to Ravelry 
  • Import to LoveKnitting
  • Add to Ravelry forum threads
  • Tweets
    • When Pattern is Live
    • 6 hours later
    • 18 hours later
    • 3 days later
    • 7 days later
    • 21 days later
  • Facebook
    • When Pattern is Live
    • 6 weeks later, on a Saturday
  • Blog - post within 5 days of pattern release
    • Tweet blog post
    • Optional (check social media calendar)
      • Tweet  blog post 3 days later
      • Tweet blog post 2 months later, on a Monday
      • Facebook blog post 24-48 hours later
  • Instagram - Post Photo
  • Email list - schedule email blast
  • Coupon Code or Discount?
    • If yes, set up coupon code and add info to Rav pattern page
    • Add to Calendar when to remove coupon code info from pattern page/change price
I allow myself some wiggle room on the social media stuff. Because I have other things going on besides the self-publishing, I might already have something scheduled to post that day, so I just adjust a bit as necessary. I like to have things scheduled, but I don't want too many things on one day.

That's it! Are you a designer? Is there anything else you add to your pattern checklist?

I've printed several copies of my checklist and added them to my arc planner. They are ready for use when I have a new pattern. Laura got me hooked on the arc planner and now I'm getting very addicted to it. Here's mine:
I have a few dividers in there to keep track of stuff:
If you're a designer or blogger who wants a checklist, I hope this helps you develop one of your own.

2.13.2015

FO Friday: Another Daisy Hat

I have a confession. I'm addicted to knitting Upside-Down Daisy hats for babies. It's a problem.

Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the evidence. I blogged about this hat here and here and here and here. I think there might be one that I made but didn't blog about based on my Ravelry project pages.

I mentioned on Wednesday that I was probably going to make a daisy hat for that upcoming baby shower. And I still plan to do so. But then last week when I was talking about knitting hats for a friend whose baby arrived a few weeks early? I decided she needed one of these adorable hats too. So I made this one:

I'm sure in another week or so you'll be seeing yet another post for yet another daisy hat I made for the baby shower! :)

2.11.2015

WIP Wednesday: Baby Sophisticate

In a couple weeks I'm attending a baby shower for a knitter. My favorite kind of baby shower - it's the one where you get to shower the knitting mom-to-be with all sorts of knitting and crochet baby things that she will appreciate it a way only a fellow fiber artist can. I don't knit and/or crochet for most baby showers/kid's birthdays/etc. these days. Only for those that I know will really, really love it. Handmade things aren't for everyone and I completely get that. But the handmade things are perfect for the knitting moms, so a Baby Sophisticate sweater had to be cast on:
I've been trying realllly hard to knit from the stash lately. I didn't have enough of one color in the bin of random Knit Picks yarn to do a whole sweater, so I decided that the sweater should have stripes and got knitting!
I'm adding two more rows to each purple stripe as I work down. My plan it to do the same thing on the sleeves when I get to them. I'm hoping I'll have enough to do the collar in brown. We'll see. It's an adventure!

I've made this sweater pattern before, but there's no record of it on the blog or in my Ravelry project page, but I swear, it happened. It's so cute and easy and fun to knit that making another one just seemed right. I'm hoping to also make my standard Upside-Down Daisy hat as well. Because all baby girls need one!


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