FO Friday: more cozy warmness

Blythe is in for some more cozy warmth, this time in the form of an over-long pullover with a cozy big collar.

Sybil Sweater for Blythe

I designed this one with a longer collar so that you can fold it over or leave it unfolded for a taller collar.

Sybil Sweater for Blythe

This deep blue colorway just makes you want to dive in, doesn’t it? I would wear this sweater around the house with some fleece-lined leggings if it were my size.

Sybil Sweater for Blythe

Blatant self-promotion: this pattern is available on etsy and Ravelry

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Be the Knope you want to see in the world

Have you read this terrific article about Liz Lemon, Leslie Knope, and the significance of their characters in the realm of TV and in the world in general? If you haven’t, go read it now.

I identify a lot with Leslie Knope, especially as I look at the earlier days of my professional career. I also identify with Liz Lemon in some respects, though Leslie’s loves-the-smaller-town, public-service-oriented, hyper-organized enthusiasm is definitely more like my own outlook on life.

One of the points that stood out to me in this article was this:

To be likeable as a woman, it seems, you have to ensure that you’re also non-threatening and slightly useless. You have to point loudly to your “flaws,” but not your, you know, actual flaws.

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I have run into this over and over and over! In the past few years I’ve been striving to get better at accepting a compliment sincerely and at recognizing my own talents (FYI: just because you were too lazy to do actual work in math class in high school does not mean that you are not good at math. You might discover that you are actually really good at it when you look around and notice that a ton of the work you do every day requires significant math skills.) but I still find myself making dumb self-deprecating remarks on occasion.

So, ladies, I’m asking you: What are you awesome at? How do you inspire yourself? How do you do feminism?

you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older

I was at a local craft group meeting this week and, as I was sitting there, I noticed just how many of the heads nearby were completely grey or white. Now, I’ve got my share of what I like to think of as silver hair, but seeing so much of it all around me made me stop to think. I wondered, why aren’t there more young people here, like me? Which of course led to a less petulant but more alarming thought: WHAT IF I AM NOT A YOUNG PERSON ANYMORE?!

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I am 40 now, much as it might not seem possible to me, and most I bet demographers will not classify that as a so-called young person. Throughout the meeting I tried to assess the ages of those around me – were any of these folks close to my age? I decided that a few of them were, but overwhelmingly the group is comprised of retired women*. Most of the group’s focus seems to be on classes and projects that (a) are relatively expensive and (b) require a pretty generous amount of free time. I’m sure that for most of the membership this is fine since they are retired or semi-retired and don’t have 40+ hours/week of time sucked up by working for a living. The group also seems to have a great history with one another, which is awesome, but makes it more difficult for newcomers to find a place. No one has been anything like rude to me or directly unwelcoming, but neither has anyone sat down next to me and/or made an overt attempt at striking up a conversation. I think that everyone is just super happy to see their existing friends so they don’t think about it.

ANYWAY. As I sat there, I thought – well, the group isn’t going to get any younger if younger people don’t join, so if I just give up on it as not for me, that’s not helping. I’m certain that the group wants to be sustainable into the future and that means consistently adding new members. BUT, how much time and interest do I have to give to a group that doesn’t seem that interested in me? THOUGHTS TO PONDER. I’m not giving up yet.

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*I am 100% not saying anything against retired women. If I could be one right now, I would totally do it.

Review: Knitting Block by Block

Knitting Block by Block

Knitting Block by Block is Nicky Epstein’s latest book of knitting stitch patterns. Knitters will recognize Epstein‘s name, as she has written numerous books and many, many patterns. I’m admittedly already a fan of her edging books and was excited to see a new stitch pattern book from her.

Since I’m increasingly writing patterns of my own, I love books like this where I can get inspiration for stitch patterns. The projects and stitch patterns here are beautifully photographed, which also provided me inspiration for improving my own photography skills (always a work in progress!). As many of you know, K and I are hoping to buy our next home in the near future and I have dreams of setting up a nice photography spot with great lighting and space to do photographic justice to my larger knitting and sewing projects.

The basic building blocks here start with the most simple and work from there, but even the most basic garter and stockinette stitches look gorgeous. Each block is listed with a color photograph of a sample, written instructions, and a chart. It’s one of the best designed stitch dictionaries I’ve seen and it’ll be a pleasure to use as a reference. There’s plenty of white space on each page, so it doesn’t feel as cluttered and claustrophobic as many stitch dictionaries do.

One of the goals I’ve set for myself this year for knitting is to practice my colorwork. I’ve already completed one project (it’s a swap-package secret until the recipient has it in hand!), but I’m super looking forward to trying some of the neat designs in this book.

In addition to the stitch pattern blocks, there are also a baker’s dozen of full patterns for projects including bags, hats, toys, and more. I’m very happy to have added this to my personal library of knitting books!

Full disclosure: reviewed from a complimentary copy provided by Blogging for Books.

FO Friday: Mittens!

This winter has been fairly chilly, though not as painfully cold as last year (so far, *knock on wood*, etc). Still, the supposedly super-warmly-lined gloves I got this season have not been cutting the mustard so I decided to finally knit myself some mittens. I’m so glad I did!

Purple Mittens

I actually made two pairs of these mittens so I could use the second pair as a lining for the first. I altered the patterns slightly to make the inner pair just a hair smaller and it worked really well.

Purple Mittens

This pattern is really easy to use and the formula/chart layout is a nice way of laying out a multi-size pattern like this. There were a couple of times when I found it a little confusing, but only mildly and it wasn’t difficult to figure out what was needed.

Purple Mittens

I’ve been wearing these for about a week now and I’m so pleased! They’re plenty thick and warm and my fingers no longer feel like they’re going to fall off during my drive to work in the morning. They are, for the record, a bit bulky for any kind of fine motor coordination, but I don’t really have much need of that while I’m out and about in the winter. If you rely on using individual fingers for tasks, a double-thick pair of mittens like this is not your best choice. I can handle my keys, though, and that’s all I need!

FO Friday: Blythe Sweaters galore!

Over the holiday break, I finally made time to write up a bunch of Blythe sweater patterns that I’ve had drafted for quite some time. Hooray!

Violet Sweater for Blythe

This is the Violet Sweater. It has a wide cable down the front and features my trademark slightly-too-long sleeves.

 

Daisy Sweater for Blythe

Here we have the Daisy Sweater (are you sensing a theme in the names yet?). This one has a busier cable and I made this one from a slightly different yarn (it’s an alpaca/silk blend and the stitches are slightly less defined). I’ll likely make it again soon in a fiber that shows more definition (this stuff is SO SOFT, though – had I the patience I’d totally make one for myself out of it).

 

Anna Sweater for Blythe

Now the Anna Sweater (if you’re a fan of a certain TV show, you should be catching on to the name theme now). This one has another, slightly different cable pattern. I really love the colorway of this yarn.

 

Edith Sweater for Blythe

Here is the Edith Sweater (you’ve got it, right?). This sweater is a bit fancier – it has a double cable on what’s shown above as the front, but it is actually reversible to be worn cardi-style and has cables on either side of the cardigan opening as well. It also has extra-long sleeves, which I like with the fitted cardigan look.

 

Mary Sweater for Blythe

The Mary Sweater. This is my first design for a pullover sweater for Blythe. As she has such a huge head, it pulls over her body instead, but still counts as a pullover. This is another sweater I’d totally wear if I made it for myself.

 

Edna Sweater for Blythe

And the Edna Sweater (REVEAL if you didn’t get it). Another pullover, but shorter, more fitted, and less oversized.

I’m really pleased with how these have turned out! I have a bunch more drafty patterns for different styles, but I’m just working my way through them as I make time. Blythe folks, what types of sweaters (or other clothing) would you like to see?

welcome to my lost valley

For xmas K gave me the latest Harvest Moon game, subtitled Lost Valley. It’s quite similar to most of the previous Harvest Moon games in many ways, but has some aspects that are brand new.

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The basic premise is the same: you wander into a community that just happens to require your talents to bring new life to this area that has fallen into disrepair and in this case, permanent (until you unlock the other seasons) winter. There are a host of stereotypical (in some cases, pretty close to racist) characters who help you in your quest to improve your farming skills – if you’ve played previous Harvest Moon games, you’ll recognize most of them.

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The new terraforming capabilities are pretty cool. You can dig down to create lowlands and build soil up to create hills. The rock areas can be excavated to expose hidden mines and to expand waterways.

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For the low-lying areas, the bits that are closest to or surrounded by water will be extra-green, which will help encourage the growth and mutation of certain crops and flowers. Speaking of which, there are a TON of different mutations of the various crops and flowers. There’s quite a bit less explanation of this than in previous games, which makes it a challenge to figure out how to grow the necessary mutations to fulfill the villagers’ requests.

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One big drawback to this game is that it is pretty glitchy. On a fairly regular basis, it glitches and the gameplay stutters. On a slightly less regular (but still TOO regular) basis, it glitches and freezes altogether, and the only way to clear it is to restart the whole 3DS. Of course you also lose all play since your last save (and this game does not, unlike most other HM games, automatically save your progress when you go to bed for the night).

Overall I am enjoying this game a lot, but it’s certainly not without its drawbacks. It’s also so new that the availability of online walkthroughs and tips is very limited, so there’s a lot more trial and error if you’re used to pseudo-cheating like I have been. I’ve played for far too many hours and so far I’ve successfully unlocked all the seasons and started my romance with the son of the ore-refining dude. I’ve unlocked all six of the primary harvest sprites and I’m working on befriending the wild animals so that I can unlock the seventh and final sprite. I haven’t made as much progress with crop mutations as I’d like, but I have been more focused on landscaping, so once that’s finished I’ll focus more on the crops. Supposedly there is DLC coming this year – I haven’t seen any solid info on whether it will all be paid or if some will be free. What about you? Have you played this game yet, or have you been playing anything else cool?

FO Friday: end-of-year wrap-up

I had a really long break from work over the holidays, which meant that I was able to do a ton of knitting, including designing/publishing a number of new patterns (some of these designs were in the hopper for quite some time and this break gave me the opportunity to get them ready for prime time). I was super lazy about posting, though, so here we are to catch up.

Chroma Scarf

This is the Chroma Fingering Scarf. I designed it to take advantage of this particular yarn‘s neat dye scheme. This pattern is SUPER simple and easy and knits up pretty quickly for fingering weight yarn. It’s also free!

Winter Headband (1)

Here’s another freebie! This is the Winter Headband – of which I made two for xmas gifts. It’s another quick and easy pattern and might be a good opportunity to learn a new technique if you haven’t done a provisional cast-on or Kitchener stitch before. Kitchener stitch is magical and will make you feel like a wizard, no joke.

Sea Monster Hat

Here we have the Sea Monster Hat. I made this one with a very stretchy rib pattern so it would be sure to fit the head of even my biggest-brained friends, but not be so huge as to give them the (totally incorrect, obvs) impression that I think they have a big head. I’ll definitely be making this hat many more times in the future, and probably for myself pretty soon.

Velveteen Hat

Although, I might make myself one of the Velveteen Hat instead. I am SO PLEASED with how this pattern turned out. I also love the yarn I used for this one – it’s a Merino/silk blend that is so soft and supple and really perfect for cold days when you want to feel cozy.

Okay! That’s enough for right now, though admittedly I have a bunch more Blythe-centric things that I will also post about soon. I hope that all of you are starting the new year off with cozy handknits to keep you warm, or at the very least the yarn and needles to make something for yourself!

Shameless self-promotion: With the exception of the freebies (only available on Ravelry), all of these patterns are also available in our Etsy shop!

winter thyme dreaming

I recently (finally) started reading the first book in Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series.

ladybug in the hyssop

They’re cozy mysteries, gardening-related, set in a cute small town, by the author of the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the main character is an avowed feminist. What took me so long?

Random notes:

  • I really like the descriptions of the protagonist’s herb garden. It makes me miss gardening and look forward to our future home where I can do that again.
  • The first book was published in 1992, and I don’t remember too many people (or book characters) overtly stating their feminism at that time (or showcasing it on their t-shirts, as this character does).
  • There are twenty-something books in this series, so who knows how far through it I’ll get, but it’s off to a good start.

New year newness (and some sameness)

Happy new year!

I feel like 2014 was a pretty okay year. We had a lot more stability in our lives, which was a refreshing change from last year. We did move again in the summer, but it was just a couple miles away and we splurged on professional movers who packed everything for us, so it was a lot less stressful and strenuous than our previous couple of moves. We’ve been pleased with our new digs and they’re a lot less expensive, so I feel happy that we’re actually saving a small amount each month now.

In terms of reading, Goodreads says that I read almost the same number of books I did last year.

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Except that their stats don’t count a lot of books including knitting and sewing books (many of which I admittedly skim or read only parts of) and picture books. If you count all of those, my number would be 397. I made a concerted effort to read more books by women this year, after noticing last year that my reading was ridiculously dominated by male writers. My fave reads from 2014 include: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, What If? by Randall Munroe, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert (this is actually an 8-book series, which I enjoyed more than I can say – it is cozy as cozy gets), Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling), and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

I also wrote and published 38 knitting patterns!

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They’ve been selling fairly steadily and people seem pleased with the clarity of my pattern-writing, so that’s pretty awesome. And I knit 96 things in 2014! That is a lot of knitted items. 23 of those were xmas gifts and 6 were craft-it-forward gifts made to help folks remember to be excellent to each other.

For sewing, I conceived and created my first art quilt, titled Figure and Flock.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

It was featured in the grand opening art show at the local Dreamer coffee shop, which was pretty neat.

Last year I made some resolutions, which have gone pretty well for the most part.

  • Blog regularly: I did this fairly well – I posted 94 times in 2014
  • Continue to attend yoga class once a week at OmBodies: This one I let go (consciously uncoupled from?) – I decided that having my Sunday mornings to myself at home was more valuable to me, and the cost of weekly classes felt like too big a sacrifice when we’re trying to save for a down payment on our next home
  • Take more photographs, especially of Coraline while she’s awake (this will require some effort): This one was middling – I took a good number of photos, but the ones of Coraline are definitely mostly sleepy-face photos
  • Go for more walks/explore Mount Pleasant (this may not happen robustly until spring): Success! Once the harsh winter abated, we took Coraline for lots of walks, especially once we moved into our current apartment where it’s more neighborhoody.
  • Create a couple of websites for folks who could use them: This one didn’t really happen, but only because the folks ended up not really needing them. However, I did create a site for the Blythe Swap Group, which helped us tremendously because we have avenues of participation on three different social media sites and it was getting really difficult to keep track of everything. I taught myself how to do a few new things with WordPress, which was cool.
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times: Done! I did the Baby Animals and Halloween swaps, both of which were super fun.

For this coming year, I’m setting some more goals:

  • Blog regularly (keeping this one)
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times (keeping this one again)
  • Find ways to be excellent to others on a regular basis
  • Write up and publish the remainder of the Blythe knitting patterns I have started working on
  • Complete my current art quilt project
  • Spend time with near- and far-flung friends more often

Feeling pretty good about 2014 in retrospect gives me a pretty optimistic view for 2015 (unsurprising, since I’m generally optimistic anyway). How are you feeling about the last year? And the new?