Saturday, August 04, 2012

Growing Pains

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally taken the plunge to move to a new e-commerce company. The old company was inexpensive and did the job, but only just. As my sales incrase, not being able to do something as rudimentary as export sales data to Excel, or even print a sales report, has become too cumbersome. The old site forced me to enter each order individually to get info like individual items purchased, purchase price, shipping charges, etc. Eek!

Plus, as technology over the past few years has grown by leaps and bounds, my old e-commerce company didn't make a single improvement or offer a single new feature.

So...I've researched different options, settled on one that I think I'm going to love, and have signed up to transfer the whole shebang over to them. I'm guessing just the transfer will take a few days, and then I get to start from scratch, adding products and making everything pretty. I have no idea how long this will take me! lol Etsy site will still be going strong during this process. If you're wanting products I'm not supposed to sell on Etsy, like those oh-so-lovely bamboo tools by Karatstix, just contact me here or on Etsy and I'll get it all set up for you. Easy peasy.

AND...know that the new Dot Com should be amazingly better than the old one. I hadn't updated in awhile, knowing this inevitability was coming...and that I'd just have to start over anyway. Frankly, I lost motivation...which is all the more reason to get this done now!

With any luck, I'll get it all transferred very quickly and be back and open for business soon. Best to get it done before the busy fall season at least, right?

Thank you for all your patience, your understanding, and your support!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giveaway Time!

A couple weeks ago, I launched a new pattern. I did so fairly quietly since I was on my way out the door to a show. Now it's time to share it with all of you! And why not give a few away while I'm at it, right?

These socks were inspired by The Hunger Games. Aim True features an arrow pointing forward down the toe. They'd not only be great for your favorite Hunger Games fan, but also for a graduate or anyone else taking a new direction in life. Let these socks lead the way!

Want to win a pattern (PDF version) for yourself? Here ya go...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Join In The Round, Being Careful Not To Twist

Anyone who has knit something in the round has seen these instructions before, right? "Join, being careful not to twist." And we've all thought, "Duh!" Until we get overconfident and realize that we have, indeed, twisted it. (I can't be the only one.)

A blog reader asked me about joining in the round and not twisting your work in my Hermione's Cable and Eyelet Hat post. Rather than give a lengthy and boring text answer in the comments, I figured I'd give a quick and dirty tutorial on joining in the round.

Let's start by working with circular needles.

1. Cast on the desired number of stitches.

2. Spread those stitches out along the length of the needle and turn your work so that the bumps all fall to the center of the needles when you lay it down on a flat surface. (This is MUCH easier to see than trying to point them all down while holding your work up in the air.) This helps you make sure that nothing is twisted. If the nubs wrapped around a needle like a candy cane, you'd have a problem that would need to be fixed before the next step.

3. Make sure your working yarn is on the right-hand needle as you look down on it.

4. Slide a stitch marker onto your right needle to mark the beginning of the round.

5. Pick up your work carefully, being careful not to accidentally twist your work at this stage. Knit the first stitch on the left needle. Pull this new stitch close to the last stitch on your right needle to close the gap.

6. Knit the 2nd and 3rd stiches on the needle, pulling each stitch nice and snug after working each stitch. This is the crucial step that helps avoid ladders in your work.

7. Continue working around, per your pattern, slipping your stitch marker as you pass it on each round.

Note: You may notice a gap forming in the first couple rounds where you joined your work. Just take care to pull those stitches snug each time you pass them and that gap will close. When you tuck in your ends, you can further close any gap that remains at the cast-on edge, if necessary.

Now, on to double pointed needles (DPNs). The concept here is the same, so I'll abbreviate the steps further.

1. Cast on the desired number of stitches. I usually try to do this all on one DPN, if at all possible. If not, I'll cast on as many as I can, then transfer some of the first cast-on stitches onto a new DPN. Or, you can cast on to a circular needle and then transfer them to DPNs when you're done.

When you transfer stitches from one DPN to another, make sure you slip the stitches purl-wise. This keeps all your stitches seated appropriately.
2. Spread your stitches across at least 3 DPNs, forming a triangle with your bumps towards the inside.

3. Make sure your working yarn is on the right-hand needle as you look down on it.

4. There's really no need for a stitch marker when using DPNs since the beginning of your round will begin with a new DPN. And a stitch marker would just slide off the DPN anyway. Your yarn tail will tell you which join is the beginning of your round.

5. Pick up your work carefully, being careful not to accidentally twist your work at this stage. Using a fresh DPN, knit the first stitch on the left needle. Pull your working yarn snug to tighten the first cast-on stitch, the stitch you just knit, and the stitch you're about to knit all nice and tight.

6. Knit the 2nd and 3rd stiches on the needle, pulling each stitch nice and snug after working each stitch. Do this every time you switch to a new DPN on every row. It will become second-nature and will help you avoid ladders.

Make sure you check after your first and second rows to make sure everything is progressing as it should.

And there it is. It can be fiddly at times, but a little extra care at this stage can keep you out of trouble.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New RS/WS Stitch Markers

We've all done it. We need to remember which side is the right side (rs) or wrong side (ws) of our work, so we've clipped on a paperclip or tied on a bit of yarn and moved on with the project. Or, we're convinced that we'll remember which side is which, right?

Yep, that was me until my latest project. I never really marked anything. Often, a pattern is distinct enough that I can figure out which side is the right side or wrong side. The right side has the pretty side of the cables, right? Easy peasy.

Photo - copyright Ashcroft-Hempsall

But now I'm working on Beautiful Cobweb, a gorgeous shawl by Ashcroft-Hempsall. I love the youthful scarfiness of this shawl. It seems so versatile and sophisticated. I absolutely cannot wait to finish it!

Look at how gorgeous that is!

But here's the problem. You begin by knitting a large garter stitch base. And both sides look almost EXACTLY the same. But on one side you do special increases that you don't do on the other side. Eek!

I definitely needed to mark my sides, and mark them well.

Not only that, but you increase in the middle on one side in 2 different places. So as you get wider and wider, your markers get further and further away. So TWO rs/ws markers are essential. At least, for me they are!

I don't know why I never made these before. Maybe because I only make things I'll use and I'd never needed these before? But that has all changed.

Here's my work so far.

(Like the brick pile? They're ancient (okay, probably 50 to 100 year-old) granite bricks from a local quarry. We're fixing our very screwy basement/foundation and have unearthed a little over a hundred of them so far.)

A close-up. If you look just to the right of the RS marker, you'll see the diagonal line where increases have been made. If I miss an increase, it'll show!

I move the RS marker up as I go, so it's easily visible as I work without having to search for it.

(Owl stitch marker available here.)

And, of course, now this product is available in my Etsy store. They're simple and practical, but sooooo much nicer than a yarn scrap, no?

If you need a set, here ya go.

And I'll keep you posted on my Beautiful Cobweb.

Oops, the Easter Bunny is here! I'd better make sure he gets the bunny picture Miss Kate colored for him!

Happy Easter all!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Time For A Giveaway!

I've been playing with Rafflecopter and it's just so fun that I felt the need to have another giveaway!

How would you like to win $25 in JLYarnworks' Etsy Store credit? That's enough for free yarn or a couple sets of those cute Fimo stitch markers!

Entering the giveaway is pretty easy with only one mandatory entry...and that's just answering a question! Get extra entries for things like becoming (or confirming that you are) a Facebook fan or pinning JLYarnworks blog posts or Etsy items (get daily entries!) you're on your way to winning.

So what are you waiting for? Quit reading my blather and enter!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Yarn Stash

I posted this picture to my Facebook page yesterday. And it has me thinking. How big should a yarn stash be? Obviously, the bigger the better is the most popular answer! But for those of us with limited space, money, and knitting time, what's ideal? 

For me, this means: What do I need to keep on hand to allow the creative juices to flow whenever they strike? How much is more than I can find suitable space for? I mean, if I have too much, will I be able to find it when I want it? Will I *gasp* forget about something luscious?!?

My answer to this question has evolved over the years, and while I'm happy with my current answer, the stash is still a bit out of hand. Especially when you add in all the hand-dyed yarn and yarn blanks I have on hand for JL Yarnworks!

However, here's what I currently have:

1) Worsted Wool: Worsted weight wool can be used for sooo much that I always keep an assortment of colors around. I like Patons Classic since I can get it easily at 3 different stores in town, it goes on sale often, and comes in a nice variety of colors. It's good for a quick hat or just about any felting project.

2) Dishcloth Cotton: I have way too much of this stuff. It's cheap, dishcloths are mindless (sometimes needed when using knitting to unwind), and dishcloths are good for lining gift baskets of other handmade gifts like soap or jam. I also end up giving a lot away to knitting or crochet students.

3) Laceweight: Thankfully, I don't believe I've gone overboard in this category. Especially since lace takes so long to complete and I don't knit it nearly often enough. But I like to keep 3 or  4 skeins (or batches) of 800 yards or more in both solid and variegated.

4) Sock Yarn: This is my absolute favorite category. I really don't think you can have too much. :) Sock yarn doesn't count as stash anyway, does it? hehe. I love having a nice variety of socks yarns so that my girls can head right to my stash and pick out the color of their next pair of socks. Needless to say, my assortment of sock yarns is heavy on the pinks and purples. ;)

5) Awaiting their assigned project: This is stuff I bought with a specific purpose. The project they belong to is either in progress or in the queue. Since I currently have 3 afghans in the works, a lot of it is for those. This is a category that is overflowing at the moment. Mostly because I have an INSANE number of UFOs. I really need to get some of them wrapped up!

6) I just loved it too much not to buy it (or I couldn't pass up the sale): This is actually a fairly well-controlled category. Most of it is alpaca/silk. This is my ABSOLUTE favorite fiber. It's so soft and smooshy and I can never pass it up.

7) Soft Acrylic: Yep, I have acrylic. Acrylic has its place. Really! I like it for amigurumi toys, for teaching, and for projects where color selection is really important. Sadly, cottons and wools are often limited in color range. So yes, one of the afghans I'm working on right now is acrylic. Afghans get really expensive quickly! So if you're looking for a good range of color and an affordable price? Acrylic can't be beat.

I think that's just about it. I really think that if I get #5 under control, the rest will fall into place. It's the one that's truly taking over all my knitting space and spilling into other spaces. Guess this needs to be the year to tackle those UFOs and maybe even send some to the frog pond.

Tell me about your stash! What does yours look like? Is it ideal for you? What would you change?

We'll talk about organization some other time. Really. This is NOT the time. *Looks nervously around yarn room.* No, definitely not the time.