How a Giant Ball of Yarn Came Out of a Sailing Class

The first thing that happened is that I read a post on the Classic Elite blog about making a magic ball of yarn.

The idea is to make your own variegated yarn by tying different yarns together. They suggest that you get a bunch of friends together who bring their yarn leftovers and odd balls—they called it a “magic ball party”—and swap out yarns.

Introverts don’t need parties or believe in magic, but I liked the idea.

The second thing that happened is that I had bunches of lengths of yarn from the zillion projects I’ve knit over the past few months. I snip them off, then pile them on the table next to my knitting loveseat with the intention of walking them over to my kitchen trash can at some point.*

The third thing that happened is that I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. I’m not very good at sailing, so we’ll skip over that part.

After all the talk of sheets and lines, jibs and jibes, and tacks and booms, we learned how to tie a few knots—a cleat knot, a figure eight, a bowline, and a square knot. I was especially interested in the last one because you can join two balls of yarn using a square knot.

Well, most people can join two balls of yarn that way. I tried a few times, but could never get the hang of it, so I usually do a spit splice.

After the class, though, I’m a master square knot tyer (tie-er?).

And 1+2+3=

200g of yarn.

After crossing and re-crossing my left and right brains while designing my Icelandic sweater, I needed something mindless to knit, so I picked up some US9 needles, cast on 50 stitches, and started the most mindless of all knitting: a garter stitch scarf.

I hope this looks better when I’m finished.

I’ll have to leave the ends poking out for the simple reason that there’s no way I’m going to weave them all in.

*See? Sometimes good things come from procrastination.

To Ponder: We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life. |-Joshua Glenn Clark-|

Submission: Sweaters to Interweave Knits

Yesterday was the deadline for Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue.

From the call for submissions:

For the Winter issue, we want to see traditional, iconic sweaters. That is the theme. Give us your best Arans, Fair Isle pullovers, ganseys, Nordic ski sweaters, Icelandic yokes, Bohus yokes, and more.

I’ve been hankering for a big colorwork design, so I started a new one from scratch. I had the idea for an Icelandic pullover, but it turned into a Norwegian sort of design, which I then rolled back over to Icelandic.

I was specifically designing the lopapeysa style of Icelandic sweater, which has long jaggedy graphics in the yoke. The Norwegian graphics are smaller and tighter, and tend toward snowflake-type motifs.

How about a picture?

Worth 1,000 words.

My design uses three colors, sometimes in the same row, which, I tell you, was quite the challenge until I got the hang of it. It wasn’t the knitting so much as the stranding, and just to make sure I could do it, I knit a full-size yoke.

Wrong side showing some decent stranding, if I do say so.

Interweave Knits has changed their submission process, having you email a proposal with photos rather than the actual swatch, which has sent this procrastinator over the moon.

So, I submitted my Icelandic sweater.

And then I did something really dumb gutsy and submitted The Sweater. (Knitscene didn’t want it.)

I’m not sure I want IK to accept both sweaters* as I would have to finish designing and then knit two major projects on deadline.

*Just kidding. Of course I want to have two designs in the same issue of Interweave Knits. Please send up good thoughts and prayers.

To Ponder: We all start off looking for love, attention…to achieve in music, make a contribution, make a million bucks. These are all great and honorable things. They’re great. But while you’re working for them, you have to set your own goals to work your ass off. All the time. Every time. |-David Lee Roth-|

Diamond Dave workin’ it.


Counting My Blessings: February 2015

I never forget that heat, running water, health, clothes, and yarn are daily blessings, but my life is blessed in so many specific ways.

1. A customer from the farmer’s market—a gal who has bought a few things from me to give as gifts and who bought my Voussoir hat for herself—came up to me saying that she had lost her hat. She hoped I had another one in the same color, but I didn’t. I had some of the same yarn, however, and told her I would knit another one for her. I don’t normally do custom work, but she told me, “I love that hat and wear it all the time.”

Aw. How could I refuse her after a sweet compliment like that?

2. I have friends, who, after six months of listening to me fret about my psychotic neighbor, will still listen to me.

Why do paranoid people think that foil helps?

Some friends—the ones with money who think I should have just moved already, as if it were that easy—make a flippant comment and change the subject, but some understand the daily torture I endure. They can’t do anything, but they listen, and that is a true blessing.

3. A couple of weeks ago, I got a lead on a house out here in a really nice neighborhood that I wouldn’t be able to afford except that the owner was asking half the tax value of the house. It’s about 1,400 square-feet with a 650-sf detached garage on .61 acres surrounded by an 8′ deer-proof chain link fence. It wasn’t listed with a realtor, but the owner is the cousin of a friend.

That upper deck used to have a view of a lake until the trees grew.

It needed work, but nothing insurmountable, and it was livable in the meantime, and I was blessed by so many friends offering help and advice:

  • Angie looked at the house with me and agreed that it was awesome, and said she would help me update the inside.
  • Letty, a friend I’ve known since fifth grade, who has a serious career and rather a lot of money, was willing to let me borrow some so I could buy and move into this house before I sold my current one.

Different high schools couldn’t break up these freshmen.

  • Tina said she would loan me the money if she had it.
  • My brother, a man of infinite knowledge and talent, sent dozens of emails helping me find a way to make this work, and even offered to fix the roof and electric issues.
  • Kate offered her husband Eric, a full-time home inspector, to look at the house with a professional eye. They both came out on Valentine’s Day and Eric spent two hours going over everything. And he didn’t charge me! He’s getting a handknit hat, though.

There were many reasons I decided not to get the house, but the main ones were that a) I’m supremely lazy and would drag my feet on the DIY projects, and b) I wasn’t keen on the long-term costs of owning a property that’s three times bigger than the one I have now.

I was blessed a second time by everyone understanding my decision.

4. Kale is cheap and healthy, and dehydrates into The Best kale chip snack.

5. My Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts pattern was published in Knit Picks 2015 Spring Accessories Collection.

6. When I emailed my friend Sarah asking if I could live with her for a couple or three months in Tacoma, she wrote back, “Well of course!!” Just like that.

7. I have enough money to pay my bills, and a little extra to save.

What are you grateful for these days?

To Ponder: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other as though everything is a miracle. |-Albert Einstein-|

Submission: Fingerless Mitts to Knitty

It’s way past the acceptance deadline for some fingerless mitts I submitted to Interweave Knits (which I didn’t blog about), so I submitted them to Knitty.

I usually take my own photos in my backyard, but Knitty would be publishing these photos, so they had to be good and interesting.

These mitts have a 1950s Atomic Era feel to them, and my sweet friend Angie just so happens to have Atomic-inspired home décor, so I took my camera and tripod over to her house last week and we got to work.*

I can’t show you the mitts, but I can show you parts of our fun photo shoot.

We started out in her kitchen, looking for creative ways to display the mitts.

Grabbing a pack of Dan Dare cards from a shelf.

Pouring nothing into a shot glass.

Then we moved outside where the light was better, and where her two dogs totally behaved themselves and didn’t try to sneak into the frame even once.**

A cool drink of blue food coloring with Live Oaks and paper towels in the background.

All the blood rushing to my head.

After I checked and rechecked my pattern, charts, and photos, and made sure I didn’t miss anything***, I uploaded my submission package—a week early!

I think this is my 527th submission to them, so please send up 527 prayers and good thoughts that this is my first acceptance.

*After we drank some coffee while she cleaned her kitchen.

**Not even the littlest bit true.

***I forgot to include my headshot. Grr.

To Ponder: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. |-Thomas Edison-|

Voilà: Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts

Knit Picks released their 2015 Spring Accessories Collection.

And my Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts are in it. Second of 26 patterns, page 11.

What color will yours be?

One of their test knitters knit the final version, and Knit Picks photographed them on a darling gal who looks very happy to be wearing them.

Fingers are free so you can fix your hair.

More, please.

If there’s one thing I can design, it’s fingerless mitts.

Pattern Details: Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts Pattern by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

These fingerless mitts use an easy series of twisted knit stitches and regular purl stitches to create a highly textured ribbing that looks like square chain links (Kettenglied is the German word for chain link). Knit in the round from the bottom up, a few stitches are bound off and then cast on to form the thumb hole.

Pattern includes both written and charted instructions.

Skills: Knitting through the back loop, purling, working in the round, working from a chart, binding off and casting on in the middle of a round; researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

Finished Measurements: 5.5″/14cm long; 6.75″/17cm circumference, relaxed; stretches to 9″/23cm circumference.

Yarn: Knit Picks Galileo (50% Merino, 50% Bamboo; 131 yards/50g): Firefly 26101, 1 skein.

Needles: US 5 (3.75mm) DPNs, or size to obtain gauge.

Notions: Yarn needle, stitch markers.

Gauge: 28 sts and 32 rnds = 4″ over Stitch Pattern in the round, blocked.

To Ponder: Care what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. |-Lao Tzu-|


Inspired by Art

Jared Flood recently posted about the inspiration for his Agnes pullover.

(c) Jared Flood

He says that this design was influenced by and named after the artist Agnes Martin, and he goes into how and why he chose the neutral color palette and how the color palette of other artists inspired the high-contrast version.

I like a little Mondrian here and there, but I’m mostly not into Modernist art because of its self-conscious aspect, which is what makes it (and people) boring. Sort of like a tire wrapped around an Angora goat that I learned about in an art survey class I took as an adult a few years ago.

Robert Rauschenburg – Monogram – 1955-1959

After rolling my eyes at that pollution, the art world was redeemed by the work of Adolf Wölfli, one of the most famous Art Brut artists, if not the most famous, in the world.

You may not like his style, but you can’t deny his genius.

He worked with colored pencils and any piece of paper he could get his digits on. Mostly newspaper because he spent much of his adult life in the Waldau Mental Asylum in Bern, Switzerland, where he died in 1930 of intestinal cancer.

Inspired and inspiring.

The detail, the color, the raw exposure. There is so much going on in his pieces.* What must his thoughts have been like?

Jared’s post reminded me that I once had an idea to design something** based on Wölfli’s art.

The idea scared me then, and it sort of scares me now, but as I was recently reminded by a friend while discussing another project: all you have to do is take the next step.

Okay, next step is to pull out my collection of Wölfli books.

I can do that.

*They remind me of another small obsession I have with Joan Steiner’s Look-a-Like books. She does a much better job than Robert Rauschenberg of using found objects to create intricate dioramas where nothing is what it appears to be. Look closely and you’ll see that sourdough bread loaves are mountains, a grenade is a pot-bellied stove, playing cards and cinnamon sticks make kitchen chairs, and a dollar bill is grandma’s apron.

Not just for kids.

I have spent many an hour marveling at her creativity, patience, and precision.

**Whatever I create, you can be sure I’ll name it something more vigorous than Agnes.

To Ponder: Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. |-Rumi-|

Changing the Name of My Blog

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to A Texas Girl Sucks, and here’s why:

I made a ridiculous rookie mistake while knitting The Sweater.

Everything I’ve submitted lately has been rejected.

My truck stopped running for no reason at all.

Heck, I even ordered something from Amazon to be delivered 2nd day just so I could give my UPS guy the Christmas gift I bought for him weeks ago, and the package was delivered by FedEx.

Anyone else feel like it’s a good thing breathing is an automatic body process?

To Ponder: The real problem is most of us are idiots. We just like to think we’re not idiots because we use sh*t a bunch of smart people figured out. But how many of us understand that sh*t? If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an email? |-Joe Rogan-|



Decision: Kerchief Thing by Holla Knits

In keeping with my 0 and 438,000 record for 2015, Holla Knits doesn’t want my kerchief thing for their Summer Accessories collection.

However, out of the 438,545 rejections I’ve received the past few years, it was the nicest and most constructive.

I had designed the kerchief with a worsted weight yarn, and after telling me how cute it was and how she would like to have a kerchief for the summer, the editor suggested it might be too heavy and that a DK or fingering weight would work better. She’s absolutely right, but I think I’m done with this design for the nonce.

On the bright side, my own Ironheart Pullover showed up in my Pinterest feed this morning.

At least one of my designs is getting some love.

To Ponder: True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice. |-St. Francis of Assisi-|

Submission: Vest and Pillow to Knit Now

Knit Now is a knit and crochet magazine out of the UK. The magazine cover has a sort of Woman’s World vibe, but the patterns are cute.

These covers sell a lot of magazines.

Unlike most knitting magazines that publish quarterly with a special issue here and there, Knit Now publishes monthly, so their call for submissions is for three months’ worth. And also unlike most knitting magazines, they regularly publish patterns for babies and homewares along with women’s garments and accessories.

They put out an interesting call for their Summer 2015 issues, and by interesting, I mean that I already had a couple of things that would fit the call and I didn’t have to do any real work.

From the call:

City Chic – Relaxed garments and simple accessories are the order of the day. Concentrate on stylish pieces which would be just as home in the office as on the street.

Tempting Textures – This collection is all about creating tactile knits that you’ll love to wear. I want to see stitch patterns that just scream “touch me!”

Allotment Knits – This month we’re digging over the allotment. Will the structure of paths and potting sheds, trugs* and trellis tame the abundant fruit and veg? Add a touch of whimsy** with uninvited guests.***

So, I spent Game Day submitting my Welligkeit Vest (a.k.a. Adelante Tank and Petal Tank), that was previously rejected by Knitscene, Twist Collective, and knit.wear.

Just a photo that shows nothing.

I also submitted my Brookshire Pillow that Knitscene didn’t want.

A picture that shows a little more than nothing.

Because this is a British publication, I was extra careful to include both inches and centimeters for all measurements.

Their deadline is February 18th before 6:00 GMT, and since I’m too lazy to figure out exactly when that is, I submitted my proposals 17 days early.

They notify within a week of the deadline, so please send out good thoughts and prayers that at least one of my patterns will be published across the pond.

*From all the British TV shows I watch, I knew what an allotment was—a plot of land rented out to individual gardeners—but I had to look up trug. It’s “a shallow basket for carrying flowers, vegetables, etc., made from strips of wood.”

**What’s with the whimsy all of a sudden? Knit Picks was on about that too.

***Uninvited guests could mean anything from scorpions and centipedes to most of my family, so I just stayed away from that.

To Ponder: You just need to have a love for what you’re doing. It’s not about thinking that it’s the cool thing; it’s about really believing in it. |-Anna Wintour-|

Decision: Fingerless Mitts by Knit Picks

Remember those whimsical fingerless mitts I submitted to Knit Picks a couple of weeks ago?

I heard from them one day ahead of schedule, which gave me an ecstatic moment of hope before I opened their short email.


On the bright side:

  • I’m glad these mitts weren’t whimsical enough.
  • I can submit them to Knitty.
  • If Knitty rejects them, I can self-publish my desgin and get it into Knit Picks Independent Designer Program.

To Ponder: Start each week by examining where personal health is on your “to do” list. If it’s always on the bottom, rest assured you will never get to it. |-Andrea Holwegner-|