Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interweave Knitting Lab and visiting home

The Interweave Press Knitting Lab event took place last week in San Mateo, and I was glad to be sent as the representative from Stitch Heaven and The Art of Knitting. Unfortunately Barbara Walker was not able to attend and they apparently replaced her lecture with a panel of six people, one of whom was Meg Swanson.

It was a small show, but going by myself was still a challenge. Luckily my mom was able to come help out for two of the days, to keep me company and man the booth while I took breaks and made the rounds to talk to folks. The DVDs don't sell as well as we'd like them to, even though they are really great resources, they are not the most popular thing for knitting. Beginners are the ones who benefit the most, but they are not the ones to invest in resources like this. Something I have to work to change.

The Knitters Market that Interweave put together was probably the smallest market I have ever seen at a knitting show. I overheard a few vendors telling the gals in spiffy white lab coats that they thought it was a mistake for them to limit the space available. In contrast with an event like Stitches West, which takes place in the Santa Clara Convention Center in a room probably at least 10 times the size of this one, this market was unable to take as many vendors as possible. I knew there were only 36 booth spaces (even fewer vendors, as some of them had double booths) but I didn't know how that would affect the feeling the market had until I got there. The biggest problem with the room we were in was probably the electrical wiring boxes that people kept tripping over. Luckily only one woman actually fell (that I witnessed) but it was a big hazard. While XRX has been hosting Stitches events for years, this was the first Knitting Lab ever, so I'm sure Interweave will respond to feedback for next time.

It is harder to attend these events for work than I expected it to be; it really is work to be there for the entire time the market is open even though I love it. Vogue Live was easier, because it was in LA so my boss and predecessor were both in attendance. This one was all my responsibility, and I feel pretty good about how I did, but in the future I am definitely going to make sure to get tickets to some of the lectures. The keynote speaker was Alice Starmore and it feels like I missed out on an awesome experience!

Coming back to LA and back to work after this show is proving difficult. Finding the best way to market the DVDs for The Art of Knitting is a challenge. One I thought I was going to tackle without a hitch, but moving away from my friends and family is a much bigger challenge than I expected. I was really glad to get to visit my boyfriend and parents during this trip up to the bay, however spending time there makes it even harder to come back and accept that LA is home now. I can't really explain the source of my feelings of loneliness and uselessness, I just know I am more than a little overwhelmed. Some things are really helpful like knitting, spinning, coffee, reading books by Rachael Herron, but I have to be getting work done here, not just distracting myself. I have to be a marketing machine and deliver numbers in order to be fulfilling my job duties. Not only have I never worked full time before, I have never had to be so results oriented. I didn't realize when I took this job that it would be this difficult and that there would be some time and the need to prove myself as a PR professional before I was able to create content for the knitting industry. Needless to say I have never had a job like this before. Being a nanny has its difficulties, but I love kids and it's easy to just get through the day in that kind of job.

Now I need to learn to pour myself into this job 40+ hours a week. I have been a nanny or babysitter for way too long and I need to learn how to maintain my self worth outside of being there for others. I need to learn to be self driven and work hard regardless of who is paying attention and appreciating me. I need to learn to direct my feelings into the right place instead of complaining that the help and support that I do get isn't enough. I feel ridiculous being this candid about it in a blog, but I think it's the best way to deal with my feelings about having moved to LA. I have never been good at long distance relationships, or having several different friends I spend small amounts of time with. I may have been a little more co-dependent than I was willing to admit. I have also been lazy and unaccustomed to working hard at anything that isn't novel and therefore interesting. Being a college student was easy and probably fostered this short attention span, especially since I had new classes every three months.

I lived in Santa Cruz for a year after graduation and I was definitely spoiled. It's hard to tell, but that picture has hundreds of butterflies... one of my favorite things is the Monarch Butterfly habitat where you can see them clumped on the trees between October and February every year.

I had more than enough time to feel at home in Santa Cruz. I am trying to remember how I felt and how I dealt with getting accustomed to life in a new place when I first moved there. It was definitely easier because I lived in the campus bubble for the first two years. The comments I have gotten from nearly everyone I have talked to about moving to a new place have been only somewhat encouraging. The jist of most people's advice is positive, that it will get better and the way I feel is normal, but people who have described their experiences with similar challenges have said they felt lost or miserable for 6 months to a year before their new home began to feel like home and the homesickness went away.

In fact, my co-worker Danielle came over to ask how the show was as I was writing this. She moved here from New York, broke up with her boyfriend when she moved and has only been home once, which makes me think, "what the hell do I have to complain about?" She said the third month was the hardest for her but it's been 5 months now and she seems happy. I am slowly making friends here so I really should not be complaining but be working hard and being optimistic. Writing about it helps a lot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nicole's Beret

The Nicole's Beret pattern is finally here! This is months in the making... mostly I have been painstakingly testing and testing it.

But now it is up, and available for purchase on Ravelry!

Nicole's Beret is a silk/merino beret with cables that grow out of the 
brim and into a tangled braid crown. This is a fun and 
challenging knit, with alternating cables that grow and 
change. Three sizes are achieved with the same 
number of stitches by changing yarn and needle sizes.
I originally made this hat for my friend Nicole with Malabrigo Silky Merino (not pictured) which makes a small. The Green hat pictured is a large, with Malabrigo Worsted in Moss. The Blue is a medium, with The Sanguine Gryphon’s Codex in Spiel im Morgengrauen. The Red is also a medium but unfortunately the yarn, Madelinetosh Eyre, is discontinued. :(
Yarn suggestions: I designed this hat with single ply, especially silk/wool blends in mind, but any worsted weight yarn will work, just make sure you get gauge :)

Visit the pattern page to buy it now!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vogue Knitting Live! Belated Recap

Better late than never for a recap of Vogue Knitting Live! It took place in the Hyatt Century Plaza, a beautiful venue. In my opinion the only thing it sorely lacked was coffee carts for VKL attendees... but I did find ways to occupy myself while I was waiting for my caffeine fix, it was fun to take pictures of the ridiculously long line.

The Stitch Heaven booth was fun, not as snazzy as some, but I think we did an awesome job of displaying our stitches, projects, and the DVDs.

Notice that poster on the left? That's the eVbook, a groundbreaking new publication which is gonna be the future of craft publishing (at least we think so)

The Vogue Live people did an awesome job of decorating the show floor with interesting knitted and crocheted oddities. 

The knitted brain is my favorite!

Is this a beautiful booth design or what? It belonged to a foursome of stores that teamed up to make a booth that was pretty much as large as a real yarn store. They were full of beautiful (the birdies wouldn't say cheeeap!) yarns, patterns, and kits. 

Probably the highlight of the weekend was meeting Franklin Habit. He is so incredibly nice :) 
I also chased Shannon Okey down so I could be a fan girl. :) Told her about the eVbook... and that TriCoast would be more than willing to share video production prowess if coop press wants to publish any enhanced e books.

Overall the event was a success, even though it was much smaller than many of the shows I've attended before. I can't wait for the next event!

Monday, September 12, 2011

First week in LA with TriCoast and StitchHeaven

My first week of work at TriCoast Studios is coming to a close and it feels pretty great. 

To say the last month has been crazy would be an understatement. I don't even know if I can accurately describe the whirlwindy, crazy, state that life has gone into lately. I have been moving a million miles a minute... finished up my internship with Helen as best as I could, but not before I got an amazing job offer! One day I was thinking, I guess I can continue this internship as a job, but it's rather tricky to be over 2,000 miles away from my boss, and I don't like working from home nearly as much as I thought I would. The upside of that was I totally over my living situation, and with an online job the possibilities are wide open. 

We began bravely and carefully "city shopping," considering San Francisco, Monterey, Portland, and LA with some reluctance. Then one afternoon I got a call from Marcy Hamilton, my friend from my flight to Columbus for the TNNA tradeshow, which made the decision for me. She had heard about my internship, had told me she was interested in hiring someone like me and I never thought she was so serious. But three weeks later here I am, with an amazing job, and a new apartment in LA. 

The studio here at TriCoast is a pretty easy place to get acclimated to. Marcy and Strath and all the staff are amazingly friendly and have welcomed me well during my first week. It was a challenge to get here, but I already know it was beyond worth it. 

We're working on getting ready for Vogue Knitting Live, and most importantly anticipating the release of Knitting Video Stitch-Alongs Vol 1; StitchHeaven Salutes Barbara G. Walker, the first ever video enhanced ebook. Having the first eVbook on the market is hopefully going to make TriCoastONline and StitchHeaven household names in the knitting industry, which if you know anything about me, you know that floats my boat over the moon...

The StitchHeaven Salutes Barbara G. Walker DVD is an amazing resource for knitters, and it's very exciting to be working with an idol such as BGW. On top of that we're going to have the first ever eVbook! It's going to make DVDs old news; now you can carry the stitches and patterns around with you and reference them on your iPad or phone whenever you want. The format is just awesome. 

Enough gushing... what I really want to share are some photos from my journey and introduction to the city of Los Angeles: 

As you can tell from Bea's expression, it was a bit exhausting, but such a blast! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's coming, it's coming soon! The FIRST EVER eVbook, presented by StitchHeaven!

The excitement is bubbling over here at TriCoast Studios....
We are days away from releasing a groundbreaking new type of publication; an eVbook! It is the first video enhanced eBook EVER, and it should be up on iTunes very very soon! I am ecstatic to say it is an amazing resource for my favorite activity: knitting!

You may have already seen the awesome new DVD: StitchHeaven Salutes Barbara G Walker. Now, we are anxiously anticipating the release of the eVbook that includes 5 stitches from the DVD.

It's a video enhanced eBook, with 5 stitches and 5 new project patterns included. The stitches demonstrated are from the DVD, but the eVBook offers the ability to view the videos on your iPad or smart phone, and gives you the video and the text instructions on the same page. The videos are integrated into the book, with a clickable index/table of contents, making the viewing experience SO convenient and fun!

The eVBook includes 5 new patterns designed by Betty Balcomb, one for each stitch demonstrated. It will be for sale on iTunes soon for $9.99, and we are hoping it will become a go-to resource for knitters of various skill levels. Keep your eyes on iTunes for the release of this groundbreaking new publication!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friendship Color Stories

I got a little too excited when I saw Ruth of rock+purl's latest blog post about the friendship bracelet swap she's putting on. I got right up and went to my closet to pull down my box of miscellaneous rarely used craft crap. I rummaged through the fat quarters, pushed aside the beads and found the ziplock bag full of embroidery thread. TONS of it!

Enough for several embroidery and cross stitch pieces, many of which I put down sometime after the first ten stitches and never picked up again. Sharp needles aren't really my thing. I swear I almost lost a pint of blood to my blocking pins between yesterday and today. 

 I quickly realized that I have more color combinations than I could possible make friendship bracelets, so how to choose? After a few minutes of matching them up, then re-matching them, I decided I needed some way to document all of my possibilities. So I got out my camera and proceeded to take way too many pictures. 

I loved the tutorial from Purl Bee, especially how they say to do the ends. When I made these as a kid they usually were a one-time deal where once you tie a knot in in and wear it 'til it dies without ever taking it off. This makes it so I CAN take it off. :)  Now we'll see how many bracelets I actually get around to making. I gave one to the roommate already and am halfway done with one for the swap! Keep on knotting... 

Friday, July 15, 2011

First pattern on Ravelry

I've just uploaded my first pattern!

It's free (as it has only been tested by myself and my mom) and in the process of being edited by the very generous Jenn Wisbeck of Midnightsky Fibers, who already spotted an error and offered to fix it. So if you make it before the errata is posted, make the medium :P

This hat design is one that I came up with years ago, and has sold more FO's than any of my others, so it seemed like the perfect one to be my first published pattern.

Download it Now!

There's a lot more to writing a pattern than I realized before I set out to do it. I have been making hats in a "make it up as you go" fashion for years, but actually writing it down is a whole other animal. Having it all be mathematically and technically correct is so much harder than just designing something that someone wants to make. *light bulb* Maybe this is why they invented tech editors. Before attempting to publish this pattern, I was sure I could do it all myself. Hah. First error found within an hour. Think again Kelly.

The process of submitting designs to publications is still something I have to wrap my head around. Knitty wants a finished pattern, Twist Collective wants a sketch and a swatch. Print magazines seem to have the same divide: one says send us a generous swatch, one says a completed garment. In all cases I know they have people who are experienced in sizing or "grading" or whatever you wanna call it. I obviously can't submit a sweater pattern in S-3X when I can't get the sizing on a hat right...

But people have been telling me, and I have been telling myself a whole bunch... Nike agrees: I need to just do it. It's hard to deal with making mistakes, but it's even harder if you don't get around to making them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prayer Shawl Blessing Ceremony!

Over six months ago I started a Prayer Shawl Group at my church, the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz. Since then the group has come together every few weeks to create shawls and other prayerful objects to be given to people in our community to provide comfort to those in need. 

The first blessing ceremony for the shawls that my group has made took place Sunday June 26th. At the end of service the Pastor introduced the group, I gave a shpeal, and then he said the blessing while we held our shawls. It was nerve-wracking... public speaking always has an uncontrollable effect on me. I swear I'm shaking the minute I wake up on the mornings I have to talk in front of the congregation. But overall I think it went very well, my constituents are happy and it attracted some new attention, so I think I can judge the ceremony a success. 

The group is made up of about 12-14 ladies, some of whom have never knit before, some who used to knit, and a couple who don't need much direction on my part at all. I worked around their schedules and held meetings at various times, since there was half the group that would not be able to attend daytime meetings and the other half that could not attend evening ones. As a result I have gotten to spend a lot of more individualized time with each of the members.

This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know these members of the congregation, as well as work on my teaching of basic knitting skills. After having been the Sunday School teacher for three years, mostly everyone knows my name but in many cases that's all they know about me, so I am thankful to have an excuse to spend a good chunk of time with the adults. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Life is busy... and then you croak.

I'm aware (painfully aware) that the last time I really updated was before TNNA...

I had an amazing time while I was there. I'm so lucky that I was able to go, and that my travel was surprisingly easy. Every single one of my flights landed early, layovers were short, and of course I had plenty of knitting to do.

The hotel I stayed in the first night I was there was snazzy, and my accommodations at Sherry's house were quite cozy and stocked with good company.  I enjoyed the people I met and I left with an impression that all of the people involved in TNNA, as well as the general public of Columbus, are all incredibly nice.

The geese in Sherry's beautiful backyard were very nice... from afar. Her yard is HUGE and her house is nonchalant from the outside and gorgeous on the inside.

The weather... well it was weather. That snazzy hotel and their pricey parking garage made it so I didn't have to go outside at all when it looked like that! Hah! I will pay $12 for parking if it means I don't get my $12 flats wet, cuz those are not comfy while soggy.

Said snazzy hotel also had a lobby cafe and bar, open late, which provided a surprisingly satisfying meal. It certainly made being alone and nervous about tomorrow a little more tolerable. That, and Beatles on my ipod.

I met an awesome lady named Marcy Hamilton, who is a movie producer and knitting teacher from LA. She struck up a conversation with me the second I sat down next to her on the plane on the way there.
    "You're a knitter..!" She happily informed me as I sat down with one completed sweater in my arms and one halfway knitted sweater sticking out of my purse. I laughed and said yes; instant recognition and fast friendship. We chatted for the majority of the flight, I'm sure driving the man in the aisle seat completely nuts, and she taught me a few valuable tips about how to hold my yarn in a more effective way.

And what a teacher to have, she disclaims master knitter status, but she is responsible for the production of this beauty. A DVD of stitch demos with an interview with Barbara Walker. Marcy gave me a signed copy, and I have to say it's fabulous. I got her and her partner in crime sample skeins of Helen's yarn, I plugged her to the Interweave marketing rep who came by... felt like a huge networking win and hopefully they were just a sample of the wonderful people I will get to meet in this industry.

Before the show I was actually, really, honest-to-god, BORED. So much so that now I find myself referring to things in a before and after sense. Like, "before I went to Ohio I would have done xyz, but now I'm doing zyx."

Before TNNA, I knew I was interning for Helen but I had barely spoken with her yet so it felt as if I was on the outside looking in. There was a lot of time spent initially pouring over the website, trying to tell how I would be able to help her. Since I was able to meet her and help out in her booth at TNNA, my internship duties have exploded. For the past two weeks she has been cramming my brain with suggestions on building skills to become a professional designer, finding inspiration, and her need for marketing and administrative help. As I write this, there are people I should be calling and lists I should be updating. 

So despite the fact that I am just now writing this blog because my head has been in a flurry, I am enjoying this internship and I feel know I'm in the right place, finally. The year since graduation has been interesting, debating if I want to go to grad school or get a "real job" or... what. I think (I hope) I'm starting to get over my naivety about how to follow my dreams. There is no pre-determined path, everyone has a different story.

Definition of the "real world" as I see it now: nothing is defined or outlined for you... nothing is what public school prepares us for it to be. In the real world I can't bitch about other people's tardiness, but I can blame my tardiness on the frequency of their tardiness. That's how things work here in the real world. Nobody gives you detention for being late three times, and if you're good at your job you don't get fired either. In fact, showing up on time might mean you have to wait for your boss. I've been complaining about the electrician for months but I'm starting to understand the reason why he says he'll come at 10 and he shows up at 2:30: he lives in the real world.