Here is the fourth episode of the Fiber Sprite Podcast! On this show, I'll talk about projects I've been working on and my visit to the Taos Wool Festival.
Last week on the podcast I shared that I was starting a sweater with some of the yarn I purchased at the Sneffels and Taos fiber festivals. First, I'm working a border for the sweater, and then will knit the body of the sweater and seam the border on.
I started the project when I was traveling, and didn't have all my stitch dictionaries handy. Plus, stitch dictionaries are really a jumping off point - there are infinite numbers of possible stitch combinations, and stitch dictionaries can only give you a fraction of what's possible. I knew that I wanted an antler cable, so first I looked on Ravelry for other patterns that had antler cables.
Since I didn't find any sweaters that were exactly what I had in mind, I decided to design my own. (More on that later!) I found a basic antler cable pattern chart from the free Antler Toque pattern by Tin Can Knits. It is a sixteen-stitch wide cable with six rows:
This is a pretty standard antler cable - like you might find in many stitch dictionaries. However, based on my gauge swatch, I felt like this cable would be too narrow for me. Rather than hunt for more cable patterns, I decided to modify it. First, I added two stitches to either side of the pattern, making a 20-stitch wide cable pattern. In order to continue the pattern, I also needed to add two rows. Then, I added in the cable crosses in the pattern that had already been established.
I felt like this still wasn't wide enough, so I added another two stitches on either side of the pattern, making the cable 24 stitches wide. Instead of continuing to add height, I added these cables at the bottom of the chart, so that the beginning and end of the stitch pattern nest together:
Lastly, I added a ribbed border of 5 stitches on each side, for a grand total of 34 stitches. The ribbed border sets the cable off in a subtle way, keeps the cable from curling, and will give me room to seam the band to another piece of knitting.
Modifying stitch patterns can be daunting at first, but it's really just a process of tweaking an existing pattern until you have something that works for you. For more information about modifying cable patterns, Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook is an unbeatable resource.
Here is the second episode of the Fiber Sprite Podcast! On this show, I'll talk about projects I've been working on, sources of inspiration, share tutorials, and more.
Recently, I reorganized my bookshelves, which included a total overhaul of how I organize my fiber arts books. Previously, there were a couple of knitting shelves, a spinning shelf, a weaving shelf, and a bunch of other books crammed in wherever they could fit. Then there were even more books all over my house...what can I say? I like books!
Organizing reference books has always been a bit of a challenge for me, especially when it comes to textile books. I want to be able to quickly locate garment design books, for example, or my stranded colorwork books. Some books clearly fall into one category, while others could fit into two or even three categories.
With my recent reorganization, I used new and bigger bookshelves (these), so there was space to split books up into the following categories and sub-categories:
And those are just the books! In the cabinets at the bottom, I've stored some of the more unruly-looking things, like magazines, binders, and notebooks.
So far I have been using this system for a couple of months, and it feels a lot easier to use. Not only are books easier to find, but they're more likely to get put away when I'm done with them. Plus, because there's a little bit more space than I need, it just feels more organized. And because the system is modular, it's possible to move, add, and adjust shelves over time.
Do you have a ton of craft books? How do you organize them? Let me know in the comments!
Today I want to share a different kind of "link love." I want to talk about our hands, and how we can take care of them. But first, a little bit about why this is so important to me:
Did you know I have a whole 'nother business? It's over here. Or, if you prefer Amazon, we sell there too. In 2016, we quit our full-time jobs to work on our business. In February of this year, my husband was asked back to his old job, and he accepted. (Health Insurance! 401(k)! Adulting!) Of course, that has meant a lot more work for me in our business. There has been all sorts of new stuff to learn that I hadn't really needed to do before. Paperwork. Emails. Navigating the different selling platforms. Figuring out the post office. The hardest part? Packing boxes.
All those products that come from Amazon or our website or even eBay? They're packed by human hands. From February to July, they were packed by my hands. I knew right away that this was no small task for me. All of the motions were small and simple. I rarely spent more than two hours packing boxes. I knew I was generating a lot of income for my business every time I packed boxes. I knew this should be easy.
But still, my hands were sore. So sore that knitting was almost impossible. I'd hold knitting needles in my hands for about five minutes before everything froze up. At one point, the pain in my hands was so bad that all I could do was clutch a mug of hot tea, because the heat was the only thing that felt good on my hands. One night, I was in so much pain that I laid down in bed with a mug of hot tea in my hands, balanced on my belly. I woke up soaking wet and cold after having rolled over and spilling the now cold tea all over my bed. I lived in a constant state of worry that I would develop De Quervain's tenosynovitis, something that has bothered my mom's hands for years.
Unmoored from fiber art as a refuge, I had to figure out how to keep my hands healthy so that I could work and play with my hands.
The biggest thing that helped me was to hire someone else to do the work. Seriously, if you have a task in your business that's causing you pain (mental or physical), it's so worth it to hire the work out. My employee is much faster than I am at packing boxes, and has even come up with several innovations to make it faster and easier. I can still jump in and help if I have to, but most days, he's got it covered, and I have more time to work on other bits of our business, plus write to you all!
So - I promised links, and here they are:
This video helped me a ton. And I wish I had incorporated the exercises from this video a little bit sooner.
Esther Rodgers (aka Jazzturtle) has a great Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. Don't let the title of the class fool you - she shares lots of ergonomical tips and exercises for taking care of our most precious equipment - our bodies.
We Are Knitters has this handy infographic. It moves! (Is gif-o-graphic a word?)
If you're more into the written word, Carson Demers is the expert on ergonomics for knitters. He has this fantastic book, and he's written a few great articles for Ply Magazine, too. He also has an interview on the Fruity Knitting Podcast. (Interview starts at about the 41 minute mark)
Everything we do with our bodies has a cumulative effect, which is why I love "spoga," aka Spinners' Yoga. Also great for knitters, weavers, crocheters, rug hookers...basically anyone who sits down and uses their hands to craft.
I'd love to know if there are any other resources you find really helpful for keeping your hands in tip-top shape!
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