Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're cooking up some yarn and patterns

We're cooking up a storm, or at least some yarn and patterns.  To become yarn, fibers are cleaned, carded, dried and spun.  Because this yarn uses more than one fiber, the yarn is plied, then plied again

Then it has to be wound into skeins from the factory-size cones.  Those are tied and twisted - all by hand (unless Gary finished his hank-making machine).   Labels are applied.

Then we have to sell it.  We'll be showing the yarn and taking orders at TNNA (needlearts trade show) in a couple of weeks.  We're going to wear the aprons, because we're still cooking.

Patterns have to be completed after the knitters are all done with their knitting.  Jill and Kristen get them into format, *draft, edit; rep from *,  finalize, then the tech editor, then more editing and formatting.  Charts and schematics have been created.  Pictures need to be taken.  More formatting and editing.  Make PDFs for download.  Print some copies.  And so it goes.  This takes months.

Oh yeah, we have to sell all of this.  Emails, ads, Ravelry, Facebook, Tweets, blog posts, more emails, paper to hand out at TNNA, signs for the booth, aprons, ads, talk it up, dream about it, and so on.    We think you'll like it.  Off to knit.  I still have a pattern to finish and the sample to knit.  Knit like the wind, like a tornado.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Head for the Hills

Here in Western Maryland, we're having hot and humid weather this week, a sudden jump from cooler than normal spring temperatures.  As we struggle to acclimate, I thought about the sheep that just go up into the Big Horn Mountains outside Buffalo, Wyoming when it gets hot.   The air is clear, grass plentiful and temperatures cooler.  Then they grow the wonderful coat that makes the yarn we love. 

I love this picture of the sheep migrating up to the higher elevations.  That's them along the ridge.  This picture may have been taken in the summer as the grass is dry.  Right now I imagine the meadow flowers are getting ready to bloom.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Inspirational Lows--and Highs

I'm kind of at the illustrated point in the whole inspiration cycle right now. I have a million details to attend to and each one takes some thought and consideration. On one hand I know that soon I will have 11 finished pieces--5 garments, 2 home items and 4 accessories and I keep thinking I'll get to one more accessory but that remains to be seen. On the other hand, this has been a huge undertaking that, as always, could have gone just a bit smoother on my end.

Although the general concept and number of pieces hasn't really changed from January, there have been adjustments and modifications along the way. One or two ideas just haven't panned out and others have ended up taking more time than anticipated.

The one thing that has stayed the same throughout this process is how much I love this yarn. I love the color, I love how it looks in pattern, I love that it is pretty durable (I've reknit my yarn many, many times--reblocked it and knit it again!), and I love how it feels knitting it. Most of all I love that I haven't gotten tired of it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hop on this Train

While Jill is busy writing patterns and Karen and Valerie are spinning yarn and yarns, I've been spending lots of time with this picture, which Jill used as the beginning of the storyboard for the designs.  I've been busy working on marketing materials:  yarn label, ad copy, TNNA handouts, etc.  I love the picture: the angles, the color, the promise.

Most of us have some connection to railroad tracks.  I remember walking the tracks as a child.  Now I live near the "hub" city, an old railroad town.  I have a grandson that loves trains, so our outings involve visiting the train museum. 

Pictures of tracks, like in this picture, make a wonderful metaphor for our life stages.  There's the proverbial light at the end, though in this case I think that's a jackalope running down the tracks off into the distance, his future full of surprise. 

Artistically, the horizontal and vertical lines can be interpreted in so many ways.  The weft and warp of life.  A knitting design (bit hint right there).  I love that there's a sense of going somewhere, even though it's not clear.  I feel like that many days!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quality vs. Quantity

This is something I think we all struggle with. How do we justify spending that extra money when we can get [pretty much fill in the blank] so much cheaper? We have somehow traded the concept of "really great pieces" for "lots of pieces".

Knitting takes time. So my rule of thumb has always been to spend as much as you can afford because you won't end up regretting it. Of course, that means you actually have to finish the piece and we know how hard that can be!

I've been in a bit of a panic this week because I am attending a black tie event on Saturday--which I didn't get onto my calendar, so totally forgot about. I got reminded on Sunday and I spent some time avoiding thinking about it. I've taken some action, but the logical one--trying on what I had--seemed to elude me. So Wednesday morning at 7:45 I'm trying on the only long outfit I have. It is about 8 years old, but when I zipped into the skirt it still fit (whew!) and when I slipped on the knitted evening top--it looked great! So I know I'm not the same as I was 8 years ago, but I think I can pull this off. Not sure on shoes, and I need the right bra, but I think the money I spent 8 years ago is going to totally save me on Saturday. Needless to say, Mitch tried on his Armani tuxedo (bought twice as many if not more years ago) and it looked great. Shirt all pressed and ready to go.

Today I'm wearing another piece done several years ago. This got me thinking about how worth it is to buy the good stuff, spend the time knitting it and especially, spend the time finishing it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Frame of Reference

Although I am on the phone with Susan and Karen and Valerie every week, and we always check in on the weather in our various locations, I have to admit that I live in a climate that doesn't require a lot of thought to actually staying warm. San Francisco is mild, and we don't have huge temperature fluctuations for the most part. Once you figure out the quirks of the weather (it is always windy between 4 and 8 p.m. and it is possible to round a corner and be in a different microclimate--literally around a corner) it is pretty easy. I don't have to change what's in my closet much over the year--I do layers and might go from a wool tank to a cotton tank.

Yesterday I came up to Seattle for a couple of days. It was 70 degrees when I left the house in SF and the anticipated high in Seattle was 54 and rain showers. So I was a bit warmly dressed in a wool tank and wool jacket as I headed to BART and the airport. I arrived in Seattle perfectly dressed to catch the light rail from the airport downtown. By the time I got downtown it was raining so I pulled my coat out of my suitcase before I left the station and walked the three blocks to our hotel.

Today I'm wearing a sweater that I rarely wear at home, but it is perfect here. I sat down to work on Powder River patterns and while I thought I had done a good job creating a variety of styles to suit different needs, being out of my usual environment, it feels even more so. I'm also really pleased with how the design details are coming together and starting to feel excited to see how the whole thing looks together.