This is the last issue before we break for the summer vacation. A big thank-you to everyone who has helped to keep the newsletter going (a special thanks to Marian for her prolific pattern-writing!). - Avital
Keeping a record of one's daily life is not something new. Some people's journals become historical records, like the journals of Samuel Pepys, some diaries become the basis for literary works, such as the "Little House" series. Regardless, most journals were written by the author as a place for their own private musings without any thought of having someone else read them, let alone comment on them.
Enter the Information Age, when journal writing has taken on a whole new aspect. With a greater number of people having access to the Internet, online journal publishing has taken off at light speed. All you need to get started is some Web space, a means of publishing and, if you are interested in providing a means of immediate feedback from your site visitors, some sort of commenting system. (Resources provided at the end of this article.)
The more interesting question is why keep an online journal in the first place? For many people, "blogging" is their preferred way of keeping long-distance family and friends in touch with the daily events of their lives. Additionally, there are "specialty" Web logs, such as the Knitting Bloggers, who share details of their works-in-progress and thoughts about their fiber experiments. There are "Celeb Blogs," Web logs kept online by celebrities for their fans. My favorite blog in this category is written by Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." NYC Bloggers decided to get organized and are now listed by subway line.
Some members of Israeli Bloggers have been recording this latest Intifada and the effect it has on their personal lives. The events of 11 September 2001 created an entire niche of first-person accounts of the events of that horrible day (some of which you can find links to at NYCBloggers), which gave birth to the "War Blogs," in the aftermath. Best known of this type are Glenn Reynold's Instapundit log and Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs. I was most amazed when I read that blogging gave a voice to Iranian women who couldn't talk about certain things in public, according to a BBC News Online article.
Nobody really knows exactly how many blogs there are right now. Blogging has become so popular that there are entire indexes devoted solely to keeping track of them. These include the Pepys Project, a Globe of Blogs, the Eatonweb Portal, and the biggest index of them all, Blogdex.
What draws so many people to Web logs is that blogs bridge the gap between the daily news and someone's personal insights. Indeed, many print-media journalists, such as Andrew Sullivan, who writes for the National Review and the New York Times, also keep an online diary.
Personally, I enjoy reading private blogs. Granted, very few blogs in this category are Pulitzer prize-winning material, but they do give you a window into folks' "backyard" and make the global village even that much smaller.
So, now that you've read about blogging, are you interested in starting your own online Web log? Here are a few resources to get you started:
Where to get web space for online journals:
My "real" work up until now has been as a graphic designer and children's book illustrator. These skills have come in very handy when designing the materials, including my web page, for Fiddlesticks Knitting. The freelance graphics business can be very up-and-down, with busy times and much less busy times, and it was in one of these down cycles that I decided I needed another means of income, preferably something I could do from home. I had realized for a few years that knitting was becoming more and more important to me, and thought I would like to have a go at making a business out of it. I took a year to develop my first six designs, knitting them, having them tested, researching yarn supplies, and developing my web page. Instead of creating more income, I was spending it!
My husband came up with the name for the company, since he likes to make silly puns. When I approached him with my idea for a knitting business, he said, "And you can call it 'Fiddlesticks'!" I couldn't think of anything better, so it stuck. I launched my Web page in March of this year, and that was the "official" beginning of my business. Someone posted my URL one one of the lace lists on the Internet, and I was immediately swamped with orders! It was all rather overwhelming as I thought I would just putter along, and maybe in a month or two, someone would find out about me and word would start to spread. The response I got in the first month convinced me that I had a viable idea and that the business had the potential to actually make money instead of just sucking it up.
My most popular designs so far seem to be Creatures of the Reef and the Flirty Ruffles Shawl. I came up with the idea for Creatures of the Reef after knitting the Pacific North West Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. I liked the thematic possibilities, and enjoyed knitting each section--here are the mountains, there are the waves, and so on. While thumbing through a Barbara Walker treasury, I saw her lace panel of a rocking horse, and thought, "With a little tweaking, that could be a seahorse. I could do a shawl with sea creatures." It was as simple as that--just a flash of inspiration. Then came the perspiration. It wasn't simple at all to tweak the design and I swatched and charted many versions before I was happy with it. Then I invented the starfish and the crab. I spent days swatching! When I was finally happy with it and had knit up a sample, I thought that people would think it was too weird and I wondered if it would sell. Well, you've all proven me wrong!
I credit my guild, the Downtown Knit Collective, with much of the incentive for starting my own business. When I joined the guild about four years ago, it was a fairly small group (around 30, I think) and it has since grown to more than 150. Being surrounded by all those knitters, seeing what other people were working on and designing, was and is very inspirational. We have quite a few members who have published designs, so it didn't seem like such a stretch to think that I could do it, too. I chose to start my own business, rather than look to others to publish my designs, because I liked the sense of control it gave me. I can design what I like without worrying if a magazine will buy it, and then scrambling to meet the publication deadline. I do enough of that in my graphic design business! Currently, I'm the newsletter editor for my guild, preparing the newsletter (we have a paper version), flyers, and announcements. I like this involvement, since I feel I'm really part of things and I can use my graphic design skills.
The other big influence in my decision to launch a knitting business was a workshop I took with Margaret Stove a couple of years ago. I had been knitting lace for a couple of years, really enjoying it, and finding more and more complicated things to do, but shy about designing for myself. I found the structure very mysterious, and couldn't figure out why sometimes the lace looked strange, or not what I had expected. Margaret Stove's workshop was like a bright light going off in my head. She made it all so clear. After that day of knitting and learning about lace, I felt confident enough to try to design on my own. The Creatures of the Reef shawl is the project I tackled, and it was a big learning experience in itself. I'm still learning more about designing lace with every new project.
The idea of a business specializing in shawls came after a discussion with Sally Melville. I really loved knitting shawls and wondered if there was enough of a market for a business that only sold shawl designs, or whether I should tackle sweaters and vests instead (I hated the idea of all that multiple sizing!). Sally said, "You should do what you love, and the rest will follow." What good advice!
Thank you for this opportunity to tell you a bit about myself and Fiddlesticks Knitting. And thank you to everyone who has supported me in the last few months. I'm extremely grateful!
I also met the Jewell: Janette Mana. She took me along on several guild meetings in Epping (Australia) and I attended an interesting workshop she presented on knitting techniques. I brought home lots of yarns and patterns and books. Many of the patterns are yarn-specific. I found some great yarns there that I had never seen before, and so I wanted some patterns to see how they are used.
I found a little leaflet in Christchurch, NZ, called "Sporting Fixtures," by a company called John Q. It includes some really fun hats like the Jester, and "dreads" (hats with plaits on top), as well as scarves, leg and knee warmers. There is an online store in NZ called Knit World, which probably carries it.
Robyn Earl-Peacock wrote a book called "The ABC for Kids: Book of Knitted Toys" (1992, Australian Broadcasting Company). This would be hard to find. It has lots of interesting toys using dk wt yarns. The toys are connected to a children's TV show. I fell for Inspector Gadget, but there are also teddy bears, Humpty, Jemina, Daisy, a purple cow, and something called Slush, etc.
I also liked "Storybook Knits" (1994, Murdoch Books). This might still be available. There are lots of lovely interesting children's sweaters. They were inspired by something over there called Cocky's Circle--lots of animals on the sweaters and even one that could be used as a Harry Potter sweater. Yarns used are 5- and 8-ply.
I also was able to purchase "Patterns from the Web" (New Zealand Spinning, Weaving and Woolcraft Society). These patterns are from the society's magazine, The Web, not from the Internet. It is still available for purchase in the yarn center in Christchurch for $10 Aust. I was very interested in a shawl using diamonds, which starts with one and then you pick up sts and work the following in progression. This pattern was done in 1980 and in the last few years there have been several patterns like this, but I hadn't realized that it was around back then in NZ. There's also a gorgeous lacey shawl in fine fingering wool. Close to 50 patterns in all, plus helpful tips.
I met lots of fine knitters and a few designers, too, so I got a pretty good idea of the knitting situation over there. While they are all complaining about closures of yarn stores, for me it was close to yarn paradise. I found several good stores and even a great sale right near my hotel. I also got to a factory outlet.
Skill level: easy
Finished measurements: chest 39", length 20"
Worsted wt cotton yarn (100 gram = 140 yds), 3 1/2 balls. Fantasy naturale from Plymouth Yarn (made in Brazil), col: 9942 Kool-aid.
Needles: 3.75 mm and 4 mm or size to obtain gauge
Gauge: 14 sts = 4" on 4 mm needles, 5 rows = 1"
With smaller needles cast on 64 sts.
Row 1: * k2,p2*, rep.
Row 2: work sts as presented.
Work for 2". Add ten sts to last row of ribbing. Change to larger needles and work in st st. Work to 12" from beg.
Shape underarm: At beg of next 2 rows, bind off 5 sts, then dec 1 st each edge every other row 5 times (54 sts). Continue to work in est patt until armhole measures 9 1/2" from underarm ending with a WS row.
On RS work 15 sts for 2 rows. Put sts on spare needle. Cast off center 24 sts. Work rem 15 sts for 2 rows and put sts on spare needle.
Work as for back until 6 1/2" above beg of armhole dec.
Row 1 (RS): knit 27 sts. Leave rem sts.
Row 2: p2 tog, p to end.
Row 3: knit. Rep until 15 sts remain for shoulder and length matches back. Leave sts on spare needle.
Bind off center 12 sts. Pick up rem 27 sts and dec eor on RS until front matches back shoulder.
3 needle bind-off for shoulders as follows: Hold sts containing shoulder sts parallel, with RS tog. With third needle, k first st on front and back needles tog. *k next st on both needles tog, bind off 1, rep from * until all sts are worked. Fasten off.
Armhole ribbing: with smaller needles pick up 80 sts around and k2,p2 for 1 1/2". Cast off in ribbing.
Neck ribbing: With smaller needles, pick up beg at back right shoulder 30 sts, 17 sts along left front neck, 12 sts from center, 17 sts from right front neck. Pm. ( 76 sts). Join and work 1 1/4" in k2,p2 ribbing. Cast off in ribbing.
Pm = place marker
eor = end of row
st st = stockinette stitch
st = stitch
WS = wrong side
RS = right side
dec = decrease
patt = pattern
rem = remaining
Finished Measurements: width 40", length 20 1/2"
Hook: 3.5mm. or size needed to obtain gauge.
Gauge: 4 dc = 1"
Materials: 4 ply cottons (50 gram= 125 m.) I used lots of leftovers One ball of each color is more than enough + 2 balls of black. Colors progressed from light to dark using 4 balls each of blue/aqua, pink/red and yellows.
Stitches used: Chain st (ch), single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc).
Pattern: Simple chevron stitch from Harmony guide to crochet stitches, p. 31.
Multiple of 10 sts + 1
Note: Dc3tog: (a) Wrap the yarn around the hook, insert the hook into the next stitch, wrap the yarn, draw a loop through, wrap the yarn and draw through 2 of the loops on the hook (2 loops left on the hook); (b) repeat this step into the next stitch (3 loops on the hook); (c) repeat it once more into the next stitch (4 loops on the hook); (d) wrap the yarn and draw through all the loops on the hook to complete. (add 2 for base chain)
Row 1: skip 2ch (count as 1 dc), 1 dc into next ch, *1 dc into each of next 3 ch, over next 3 ch work dc3tog, 1 dc into each of next 3 ch, 3dc into next ch: rep from * ending last rep with 2dc into last ch, turn.
Row 2: 3 ch (count as 1 dc), 1 dc into first st, *1 dc into each of next 3 dc, over next 3 sts work 3 dc3tog, 1 dc into each of next 3 dec 3 dc into next dc; rep from * ending last rep with 2 dc into top of ch, turn.
Rep Row 2 for pattern.
With black and hook, starting at bottom edge, ch 78.
Row 1: right side. End last rep with 4 dc. Turn.
Row 2: end last rep with 4 dc. Turn.
Placement of colors: 2 rows of each color moving from lightest to darkest; e.g., light aqua, aqua, dark aqua, darkest aqua, 2 rows of black, light pink, cerise, med dark cerise, dark cerise, black; etc. 2 rows of black separates each color family. Work for 11".
Armhole: Dec 2 dc on each edge. (71 dc remaining.) Continue working for 9 1/2".
Front: Work as for back until 17 1/2" from beg.
Neck: Work 24 dc in patt. Dec along neck edge 1 dc next 6 rows. Pick up last 24 dc in patt and dec along neck edge for 6 rows. Sc front and back shoulders tog.
Sleeves: with black dc around armhole, 71 dc and work in patt. 2 rows black, 7 rows in pink/reds and ending in black, with one row dc and one row sc.
Neck edge: Sc with black around neck opening.
Join sides from outside in sc with black.