5.31.2016

What's in my teaching bag?

I'm packing up my teaching bag to head out to Strings Attached Yarns in Dayton, Ohio, this weekend. I visited this shop last summer and had a wonderful time - I'm thrilled that I've been asked to come back and teach again this year!

I talked on Periscope a few weeks ago about what's in my teaching bag, but hadn't shared here on the blog...so I took a few photos as I was packing.

I start with my rolling tote bag (I bought it on Amazon).
Then I add my 'class kits.' I came up with this system after watching Gwen Bortner's How to Teach It class on Craftsy. I bought small plastic bags (the kind you would put toiletries in while traveling) and labeled them with the class name. I stick my swatches in there and anything else I might need (yarn & needles for a specific demo, for example). This has probably been the biggest time saver when packing to go teach. Just grab the kit or kits I need and go!
I have another larger, clear bag I also take with me. This one has extra yarn, needles, stitch markers, post-it notes. I can use these things for demos as well and it's nice to have in case someone left their notions bag at home and needs a stitch marker in class.
The next thing is my bag of markers. This is key. Especially when teaching at a convention, the markers are often missing or dried out in the classroom. No worries - I have my own. :)
 
I have some permanent markers for paper and a few white board markers too. I'm always sure to double check that I've pulled the correct ones out before class (don't want those permanent markers on the white board).

Then there's the samples:
I load up my reusable bag with shawls and whatever other samples I want to bring with me. I like having them in their own separate bag just to keep them from getting snagged on a random zipper or something.

Next is the file folder:
It's a plastic file folder that you can get any office supply store. I keep a copy of each of my books in there and the handouts for my classes. Any other paper I need for my teaching event is inside as well (printed invoice for the shop, parking pass if driving to a convention, etc).

Finally, there's the little things I keep in the inside zipper pocket of the tote bag:
Those are necessities! That Advil has saved me more than once. haha

I will also bring 1-2 large water bottles and put them in the side pockets of the tote bag. Hydration is key. Depending on my schedule and where I'm teaching, I might throw some snacks in the bag too (squeezable apple sauce, nuts and granola bars are my go-to teaching snacks).

Since buying a dedicated 'teaching bag' and having my little bag system, packing for any teaching event is a breeze!

5.24.2016

Lace Stricken

Last week I received some very good happy mail. It's my book - in German!
It's a dream come true. I'd been hoping that my books would one day be translated into German. I sell a good chunk of my self-published patterns to knitters in Germany and I've had a few of them join my Ravelry group and share projects they've knit. I'm happy that now my book can reach even more German knitters!
This translated book is actually Sock-Yarn Shawls and Sock-Yarn Shawls II combined into one book. The book has 30 patterns. Only Demeter from Sock-Yarn Shawls II was left out.

It's been fun flipping through the book, seeing if the names of the shawls have been changed or not. And while I can't read it, it's interesting to see how things are formatted a little different in German patterns.
 
If you have friends or family in Germany (or you are a knitter in Germany), you can order the German translation of the book online here.

It's so awesome that I can bring sock-yarn shawl knitting goodness to knitters around the world

5.20.2016

It's a Birthday Sale!

Today I'm celebrating completing another trip around the sun - it's my birthday! In addition to eating all the birthday cake, I'm having a pattern sale - on everything.
Knitting Like Crazy: Sale (One Day Only)

For today and tomorrow (Friday, May 20 & Saturday, May 21) you'll get 36% off all my individual patterns and self-published eBooks in my Ravelry store. No coupon needed - discount will automatically be applied at checkout!

Today is going to be a pretty low-key birthday (which is how I like it). It's a regular work day here at the Lucas house, but tonight Alex & I will be going out for dinner (and wine)! I might treat myself to a little online yarn shopping today too. I have a couple non-work projects in mind for this summer, and it seems like a good day to shop for yarn.

I hope everyone has a great day and a fabulous weekend! Happy shopping and knitting! :)


5.19.2016

Design Inspiration

Where do you get your inspiration?

As a designer, this is another question I get asked a lot.

Lots of designers will tell you they get inspired by the world around them. They see something in their everyday world and they want to turn it into a stitch pattern. Or maybe they see someone on the street wearing a cool store-bought sweater and think, "I could design that."

While of course the things around me inspire me from time to time, I tend to work a little differently.

Usually I let the stitches inspire me.

I'll start with a basic idea with what I want to design (like a shawl of a certain shape or size). Then I'll hit up my stitch dictionaries and see what strikes me. I have a lot of stitch dictionaries.
Knitting Like Crazy: All the Stitch Dictionaries!
 Knitting Like Crazy: All the Stitch Dictionaries!
 Knitting Like Crazy: All the Stitch Dictionaries!

From there I'll chart out a few ideas. Maybe I'll swatch. Sometimes I'll change the stitch pattern or combine my favorite features of a couple of stitch patterns to make something a little more unique.

A lot of my inspiration also comes from what I'm currently into knitting. I'm really on a cables and lace kick right now, and that's how Milton was born. I wanted pretty cables and lace on a sideways-knit asymmetrical shawl, so I made it. :)
Knitting Like Crazy: Milton Shawl
 Knitting Like Crazy: Milton Shawl

You'll be seeing lots more cables and lace in coming months!

My system for coming up for designs works great when I'm working on self-published or book designs, but when I'm submitting to magazines and yarn companies, there's often a mood board to work with. I find this a fun challenge and it's one of the reasons I love submitting to magazines and the like!

When working off a mood board, I'll often be hung up on one or two photos on it. Almost always the photos that inspire me are photos of something geometric - something that I could imagine being lace on a shawl.

Whether it's the world around them, the things they see online or the stitch patterns themselves, every designer finds inspiration in a slightly different way. That's one of the many things I love about the job - we can all go about things in our own way.

5.10.2016

Cozy Stash-Busting Knits is Here!

I'm excited to announce that today is the day - Cozy Stash-Busting Knits will start shipping to a yarn store or bookstore near you!
Cozy Stash-Busting Knits by Jen Lucas
I'm so excited to bring you my first "not sock yarn" book. Every project in the book uses thicker yarns - DK-weight up to super bulky. It's the perfect book for the knitter that wants quick projects!

Here are some of my favorites:

Damsel is a DK-weight shawl with a knitted-on border. You all know my love for lace borders is real.
Damsel by Jen Lucas
Cheyenne is another DK-weight shawl. It features half-pi shawl shaping and is super easy to adjust in size.
Cheyenne by Jen Lucas
I don't know what it is about Lacon, but it's my favorite cowl in the book. Maybe it's the inter-twining cables. They were such a blast to knit.
Lacon by Jen Lucas
Then there's Merope, slipped-stitch cabled fingerless mitts. The Fiberstory Core DK yarn is a dream and was a perfect match for this pattern. I've bought myself another skein from The Loopy Ewe so I can knit a pair for myself!
Merope by Jen Lucas
With 22 patterns in the book, you'll find lots of fun things to knit! You can check out all the patterns and details on Ravelry.

I'll be hosting a Cozy Stash-Busting Knits KAL in my Ravelry group starting on June 20th. It's going to be a ton of fun. I hope you can join me!

Image from Cozy Stash-Busting Knits by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2016; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

5.04.2016

Book Review: Lazy Sunday Knitted Socks

Recently I was chatting with fellow designer, Jane Burns, about her new self-published book, Lazy Sunday Knitted Socks. I took one look at the photos of Ravelry and knew I had to share it with you. You're going to love it!

Lazy Sunday Knitted Socks: 5 Simply Indulgent Socks to Knit is the perfect book if you love socks or beads or lace or cables or any combination. Jane has done a wonderful job putting this book together. You can tell from the very first page that she has a passion for socks and adding beads to her knitting. In the introduction she says she's "created patterns that really show off how beads accentuate lace, cables, eyelets and twisted stitches, as well as including instructions for [her] favourite method of beading."

I love every sock pattern in this book. They are all expertly written and contain sizing notes on how to best chose the size to knit. The patterns are all written for multiple sizes - a minimum of 4 sizes is included in each pattern (some of them even go up to 6 sizes).

Here are the highlights:

Sitting in a Rainbow is the perfect sock if you're new to beading or new to sock knitting. They are simple top-down socks, with a small eyelet pattern on the cuff where the beads are added. This pattern is written for 6 sizes and includes a small chart. Lovely.
No Room for Ravers features my new favorite combination - cables and lace. A small number of beads are added to the pattern to highlight your beautiful stitches. This pattern is written for 6 sizes and includes written instructions for the charts.
Drift Away might be my favorite pattern in the book. Cables, lace, beads, twisted stitches - this sock pattern has it all. This pattern is also written for 6 sizes and includes written instructions for the charts. Oh the twisted, cable-y goodness!
You can check out the other two patterns, Nothing to Say and No Mind to Worry on Ravelry. They are equally as beautiful as the ones I've featured here.

The book goes beyond just sock patterns. Jane has also included great information on choosing beads and substituting yarns. As someone who is totally new to bead knitting, I was very pleased to see this included in the book. There's also great illustrations on how to bead with a crochet hook, Jane's preferred method of bead knitting.

You can get the eBook on Ravelry or purchase the physical book from Jane's Etsy shop. I'm sorry if you have to call in sick and stop cleaning your house so you can knit all of these right now. :)

Photo copyright Jane Burns 2016. Used with permission.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it. My review is 100% my honest opinion. I did not receive any payment for this review nor did I agree to publish a positive review. You can read my full disclosure policy here

5.02.2016

Oh the Planner Stickers

Several weeks ago, I took this photo:
At the start of the week, I set the goal to make it to boot camp all five weekdays. I did and it was awesome. That one little hand-drawn tracker in my planner has since sent me down a new road...the road of planner decorating.

After that week I got to thinking. I wonder if I can buy a sticker for my planner to track my workouts and how much water I'm drinking? Turns out you can. And you can get an infinite amount of other planner stickers.

What has happened to me is much like when I first started knitting. I've thrown any sticker budget out the window, I'm learning all I can about planner decorating (There's tons of YouTube out there. Of people simply putting stickers in their planners. And I can't stop watching.) and I'm looking into going to a planner conference (there's a convention for everything!).

I bought myself an Erin Condren planner (all the sticker shops sell stickers that fit perfectly in each day's box) and now my planner for next week looks like this:

Seriously, the cuteness.

I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up. I'll admit, there are some days that the decorating gets in the way of writing down the stuff I need to do. But, I'm enjoying it as new, kind of weird creative outlet.

The best part of this new hobby? The yarn stickers! I thought I'd share the ones I've found so far.

I found these adorable from Sweet Kawaii Design. I love that she had both knitting and crochet themed stickers!

Thumb Prints Co is quickly becoming one of my favorite shops. Did you know you can get planner sticker kit clubs like you can with knitting and crochet? It's true and I've started getting the Thumb Prints Co club each month. I also found these yarn balls with knitting needles on her site:

Last but not least is PlannerNation. My friend Jenny pointed me towards this shop and I'm so glad she did - these skeins of yarn are awesome.
 
I love using my new yarn-related stickers in my planner. Perfect for days where I have a ton of knitting to do or I'm heading to knit night.

If you decorate your planner I'd love to know what kind of planner you have and where you love to get your stickers!


4.28.2016

Sometimes You Need Something New

Since finishing the Green Bay socks, I've been itching for a new pair of socks. I'm still working on the Emerald City socks, but I needed something new. I felt like I'd been knitting on the same two pairs of socks for a year (which I pretty much was). So, I dug deep into the sock-yarn stash, and got to work.
 The yarn is Patons Kroy Socks FX in the lovely color 57210/Cascade Colors.

I'm knitting these socks in my typical manner - toe up with fish lips kiss heel.
Sock #1 is almost done. Based on my current rate of sock knitting, you'll probably be seeing the pair finished in mid-2017. :)

4.26.2016

Regolith

Last week I released another pattern using Done Roving Yarns' Frolicking Feet Transitions. Say hello to Regolith:

I know how many of you love this shawl shape. It uses the same shaping as some of my other popular patterns:

(from left to right: Saffron, Savanna, and Sparrow)

It really is a great shawl shape! Lots of options on how to wear it, and very easy to adjust the size.

I'm especially tickled with the lace in this new pattern. I love the chevron action and how it affects the color changes in the transitions. Those peaks and valleys are my favorite part of the shawl.

$1.50 off with coupon code 'roadtrip' at checkout thru May 7th.

 I hope you enjoy this new pattern. Happy shawl knitting!

4.25.2016

What's in my notions bag?

I recently switched over to using a MayBeaCrafted bag as my notions bag. I thought it'd be fun to share with you everything that's inside!
 I can really cram a lot of stuff into this bag:
I've got a notebook, which I use for taking notes. Even when I'm making simple socks, I like to jot some notes about stitch count and length to starting heel and stuff. These days it takes me a long time to finish personal knitting and crochet projects, so the notebook is crucial. This one above I got at the Madison Knit-In last month. It has little post-it notes and page flags inside too!

I have a random variety of double-pointed needles (usually there's a bunch of crochet hooks in there too, but I cleaned them out recently). I also have a stitch holder. Not really sure why....I think I was using it for a sweater or something.

There's a pair of scissors, some pens and a pencil, a tape measure and a couple of those ruler/needle gauge things. Again, not really sure how I ended up with two needle gauge things, but I know I'll lose one eventually so I've left both of them in there.

Finally, I have a small hard-shelled notions case from FreshStitches:
That's where all the tiny stuff goes. What's inside:

  • Stitch markers
  • Nail clippers (can be used to cut yarn if your scissors get taken away while flying and/or get lost)
  • Some bobby pins (you can use them for Japanese short rows...or your hair)
  • A magnet pattern thing
  • Stylus
  • Cute little octopus snips from Hiya Hiya
  • Tapestry needles
  • The key thingy for the Knit Picks interchangeable needles 
  • Point protectors, which I never, ever use
That's it! I'm so glad I've started using a little bit of a larger notions bag. I like knowing that everything is in one location.

What's in your notions bag? Anything I should add?


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