Favorites: Knitting Blogs

Jul 29, 2010

I love finding new knitting blogs, and with more and more cropping up every day I know there will always be new knitting content for me to discover. What I forget sometimes is that I may be following {stalking?} knitting blogs others of you out there have never visited!

With that in mind, I’m taking today to share with you some of my favorite knitting blogs. These are the ones I have eternally in my Google Reader, the ones I’ve gone back and read all their archives, and the writers of whom I follow on Ravelry. These are the ladies – and gentlemen – I would love to sit down and form a knitting circle with, if just for one day.

Brooklyn Tweed - Jared’s knitting photography is to die for, and his original designs have quite literally made me swoon. I’m knitting up his Cobblestone Sweater pattern for my brother before he heads to London next Winter/Spring, and have worked up several of his hat patterns for the One Hundred Hats project. His blog is understated, but he shares just enough of his life and his design process that I can’t help but head back for more. I’ve been known to go back through his archives when he hasn’t posted in awhile, just to be reminded of my love for his blog!

Wooly Wormhead - Her minimalist lifestyle astounds me {she lives in a bus with her husband and child!}, and her patterns are phenomenal. Several hats for the One Hundred Hats project have been made using her patterns, and she consistently practices what she preaches with her lifestyle and her knitting.

Soulemama - I’ve followed Amanda since her darling Ada was just about to be born, and have marveled as I’ve watched her gorgeous life unfold. She knits. She sews. She home-schools four rambunctious little ones. And she does it all with grace and beauty and sharing! Recently Amanda has been knitting her way through some EZ patterns, and it’s been a treasure to watch – not to mention all the gorgeous photographic eye candy! Honestly, even if you’re not a knitter you’ll love Soulemama’s blog for the photography alone!

 Yarn Harlot – The “great one” of knitting, Stephanie is this generation’s Elizabeth Zimmerman. She infuses humor into every post, shares her process and finished knitting projects, and pushes knitters around the world to improve at their craft.

Flint Knits - Updated a few times a year, mostly when she’s got a new pattern to share, but I love to read anyhow! Great pattern design coupled with great stories.

Knitting School Dropout - Snippets into the new patterns Melissa is designing, along with bits of her new book!

Ysolda - Ysolda features not only her designs and process, but shares where she’s at and what she’s doing while at home, as well as sharing blog space with her assistant Sara.

+  +  +  +  +

What are some of the knitting blogs you read on a regular basis? I'm always on the hunt for new yarn-friendly finds!

#88 - Shroom

Jul 28, 2010

Continuing kid's week here, I've got a fun little hat - Shroom! It looks strange, I'll admit - almost like it shouldn't be cute. As I don't have a kid to model it, I'm going off the original Shroom pattern photos when I say I think it will end up super cute on some little girl's head!

Because of the gauge I got with my Cascade held double, this hat will more than likely fit a toddler rather than a bigger kid like it was intended, but no matter. In truth, I didn't so much enjoy knitting this hat as I enjoyed the way I hoped it would turn out. Chalk it up to my gauge being too tight I guess - the hat was a pain with all those K3tog stitches every fourth row! Now that I see it finished, I'm betting it looks ridiculously cute on any size head, but I'm not sure I'd want to go through the effort to make another one to see.  

Specs: Shroom, by Lee Wood Juvan; knit using Cascade 220 Heathers in pink held double, with size 10 needles

Review: Inside-Out Simplicity

Jul 27, 2010
A week or so ago, Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist put out the call on Twitter – he was about to finish work on his latest e-book Inside-Out Simplicity** and was looking for some people to read/review it.

I jumped at the chance, of course – I loved Joshua’s first book Simplify**, and knew that I could expect more great things from his sophomore effort. {Can you tell I’m getting all “NYT book reviewer” on you? Sorry.} I knew that I could expect great writing and challenging topics from Joshua.

What I didn’t expect were frank discussions on how generosity and learning to desire less could impact a simple life, or realistic views on how people treat marriage ties in with a minimalist existence.

My first trip through this book yielded two typed pages of notes – I read e-books with a document-writing program open on my computer so I can take notes as I read. Much of what I noted involved phrases like “impact of wanting less: less poverty, less war” and “stop viewing your stuff as your own – we’re all in this together!”

Through much of the book I was reminded of the late-night conversations I’d have with friends over coffee when I first moved to Omaha – big-dream talks about how we could impact our little corner of the globe by sharing lawn mowers and driving people to the grocery store, killing our televisions and what it meant to truly live in community.

Personal nostalgia aside, this book is the perfect reference for someone looking to go beyond the “pare down your stuff, stop shopping so much, and head outside on a bike” mentality that the minimalist movement seems to be adopting. To get beyond that, you need to look inside, and to start making huge changes {via small, daily steps} to how you look at and interact with the world around you. This book is a great place to start.

Thanks to Joshua’s book, I’ve got a few small steps lined up for myself in the next few weeks, and am excited to see how his words impact the community! If you’re interested in learning more or purchasing the book, Click here to visit Becoming Minimalist.**

**Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase Joshua’s book through this link, I earn a small commission, thanks to his affiliate program.

Minimalist Knitter's Handbook

Jul 26, 2010


DOWNLOAD NOW

In early 2010, surrounded by yarn I didn’t knit with and needles I never used, I took a stand, declaring myself a minimalist knitter. I did not use or need much of what I had accumulated in the many years of my knitting hobby – in fact, I found the greatest joy from the simplest of tools, the most basic of yarn, and the same patterns used repeatedly to make items for charity and others.

In the months that followed, I pared down my yarn stash, got rid of all but the most essential of knitting needles, and even knocked out all of my WIPs! Through it all I’ve learned a lot, and am excited to share these lessons with you!

I believe that any knitter can join my ranks: knit through their stashes, pare down their notions and supplies, and become minimalist knitters. While not an easy journey, the process is well worth the final product – and isn’t that what we all love most about knitting, after all?!

The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook: Knitting More With Less is a full 50+ page e-book, packed with information every knitter needs to pare down their stash and start knitting in a new way – creating more finished knits with less surrounding them!

FEATURES: 

10+ ideas for paring down your knitting stash.

Suggestions for living as a minimalist knitter.

Three patterns included, each of which are perfect for charity donation knitting, stocking up your hand-knit presents drawer, and busting through your yarn stash!

Half a dozen suggestions for living as a minimalist knitter.

DOWNLOAD NOW

#87 - Brangelina


This week's hats are all about kid-sizes, for the most part. I found myself with some worsted weight yarn and a bunch of patterns that called for bulky weight, and even with the yarn doubled, the hats ended up a tad bit too small to photograph on my head - but they also ended up very much kid-sized hats, so that's what I'll say they are!

First up is the Brangelina hat, a pattern shared freely by Crazy Aunt Purl. I love Laurie's blog, and have knit this hat before in the given adult size, and am glad I was able to make a kid-version. Simple construction and chunky ribs make this hat one I love to knit and share - perfect for a fast, last-minute present!  

Specs: Brangelina hat, by Laurie Perry; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in pink and size 10 needles.

The Minimalist Knitter Handbook

Several months ago, surrounded by yarn I didn’t knit with and needles I never used, I took a stand, declaring myself a minimalist knitter.

I did not use or need much of what I had accumulated in the many years of my knitting hobby – in fact, I found the greatest joy from the simplest of tools, the most basic of yarn, and the same patterns used repeatedly to make items for charity and others.

In the months that followed, I pared down my yarn stash, got rid of all but the most essential of knitting needles, and even knocked out all of my WIPs! Through it all I’ve learned a lot, and am excited to share these lessons with you!

I believe that any knitter can join my ranks: knit through their stashes, pare down their notions and supplies, and become minimalist knitters. While not an easy journey, the process is well worth the final product – and isn’t that what we all love most about knitting, after all?!

The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook: Knitting More With Less is a full 40+ page e-book, packed with information every knitter needs to pare down their stash and start knitting in a new way – creating more finished knits with less surrounding them!

** download The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook now **


Inside you’ll find:
  • 10+ ideas for paring down your knitting stash

  • Suggestions for living as a minimalist knitter

  • Four patterns included, each of which are perfect for charity donation knitting, stocking up your hand-knit presents drawer, and busting through your yarn stash!

  • Three appendixes – one full of charity links, one full of knitting terms, and one full of great knitting links I love!

Who Should Read This Book:
  • Anyone looking to pare down their yarn stash, but unsure of where to begin.

  • Knitters stuck in a rut with their knitting, and looking for some inspiration.

  • Those looking for a “new way” to approach their knitting.

Finally: The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook isn’t a quick-fix to the global knitting problem of too much stashed yarn. And yes, I truly believe this is a serious problem – one that speaks to the over-consumption lifestyle so many of us in the Developed World have grown accustomed to.

Achieving a Minimalist Knitter’s lifestyle will take work and dedication. You will spend months knitting from your stash and have to fight off “new yarn temptation” repeatedly. If you are willing to apply the strategies laid out in the e-book however, you will have Minimalist Knitter success! If you have any questions about the Handbook not answered here, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.

** download The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook now **

Thing A Day Challenge – August

Jul 23, 2010

Now that I’ve pared down my yarn stash to a mere 40 items {photos of that coming next week}, I’ve been looking around asking myself “what next?” This journey over the last few months to pare down my yarn stash has opened my eyes to the amount of other stuff I own.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have any other grand hobbies or passions that I can attack with the same fervor I attacked my knitting life. Probably a good thing, because I’d imagine figuring out the ins and outs of living as a minimalist knitter will occupy a lot of my brain power for the next several months!

I do however, own lots of other stuff - notebooks and books and paper and clothes and makeup – all the junk that occupies space in most American homes. And the more I’ve pared down my knitting life, the more I’ve realized I love this minimalist life so much I’m ready to take the next step and begin paring down the rest of my life!

Enter the “Thing-A-Day challenge” from Unclutterer, wherein a group of blog readers gathered together and agreed to get rid of stuff for a set amount of time. From Unclutterer:

“The challenge is about getting rid of one object a day, for … a month? A year? It’s up to you how long you want your challenge to last. Whether you give away, trash or donate the object is immaterial, but it must be gone from your life and space. Putting it into storage doesn’t count; though you are allowed to, say, collect the things in a box to donate them at the end of the month.”

This sounds like something that’s right up my alley, and I’m excited to say I’m going to jump in with both feet for the month of August! For 31 days I will get rid of at least one thing a day, boxing everything up that’s donation-worth and dropping the boxes off at the Goodwill as they get full. Want more details? Here you go:

  • I can get rid of more than one thing each day, but I must get rid of one thing each day. No getting rid of six things one day and then taking most of the week off.

  • This is not about things that should be thrown away or recycled – this is getting rid of the stuff that I no longer use, but that someone else can use – hence the Goodwill trips.

  • Also acceptable are items I have borrowed from friends, but have yet to return. They are not mine and are cluttering up my home! {not counted – stuff that needs to get mailed!}

  • I can keep items in a box until the box is full. At that point the box should be taken immediately for donation.

  • I will document what I’m donating each day on my Flickr account – this way I’m not cluttering up the blog with everything I’m giving away, but I’m keeping a record of it all.

I’m excited to see how much stuff I can actually get rid of in a month – at least 31 things, but I’m hoping to double, or even triple that! {photo: some of the last batch of yarn that I donated, before it was sent off}

Announcing The Minimalist Knitter Handbook

Jul 22, 2010
Next Monday an amazing thing is happening here at Minimalist Knitter – I’m releasing a free e-book out into the world! A few months ago I re-released the pattern book Three-Season Mitts, and this time I’m shaking it up a bit by publishing a book that shares my Minimalist Knitter journey!

If you’ve been following along with me as I’ve worked to become a minimalist knitter, and wondered just how I’ve done it, or even perhaps thought about jumping on board but were unsure of how to start, this next e-book launch is for you.

The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook: Knitting More While Owning Less is packed full of helpful tips to becoming a minimalist knitter! Following my journey over the last three months, this e-book will give you everything you need to help pare down your stash, cut through your notions and knitting accessories, and figure out what it is you truly love to knit so you don’t keep buying yarn you won’t use!

Added to all that info, the book will also include four patterns that are perfect for using up those single-skein balls and some of the leftover bits you’ve been holding onto!

Look for the book to become available starting next Monday at 8am sharp!

And just for fun, here's a list of eight reasons to pick up the e-book.
  1. You’ve been looking at your growing stash with dismay, but are unsure of how to quell the yarn tide. The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook will give you practical and concrete steps to keep the yarn from coming in while you work to knit it out of your stash.

  2. There are four patterns included in the book to help you jump-start the process!

  3. You get to learn from my story, and hopefully by-pass some of the mistakes I’ve made.

  4. I’ll help you figure out which yarn from your stash you’re most likely to actually use.

  5. You’ll learn how to figure out which yarn will most likely stay buried in your stash forever, so you can weed it out easier!

  6. You want your yarn to work for the good of the rest of the world through charity knitting, not just languish in your closets and cupboards.

  7. Over twenty pages alone will help you figure out how to get started and work towards life as a minimalist knitter!

  8. You’ve made the first steps in paring down your knitting supplies, but are unsure of how to LIVE as a minimalist knitter! I’ll show you how!

#86 - Simple Charity Hat

Jul 21, 2010

With all the cables and baubles and stripes that have been adorning my hats as of late, I was craving something simple and easy - knit knit knit all the way around was in order! Thankfully, I have been working on an e-book about minimalist knitting {to hit the Minimalist Knitter blog on Monday!} and had a hat pattern in mind for it that was perfect!

This simple charity hat is written for all sizes, and is the perfect "first hat" for any knitter - once you've got it working in the round, all you have to worry about is knitting and binding off! Plus, I love the little ears it gives - just a bit of whimsy for any age person!  

Specs: Simple Charity Hat by me (from my e-book Minimalist Knitter's Handbook); knit using stash yarn and size 8 needles.

Minimalist Knitter's Handbook

Jul 20, 2010

In early 2010, surrounded by yarn I didn’t knit with and needles I never used, I took a stand, declaring myself a minimalist knitter. I did not use or need much of what I had accumulated in the many years of my knitting hobby – in fact, I found the greatest joy from the simplest of tools, the most basic of yarn, and the same patterns used repeatedly to make items for charity and others.

In the months that followed, I pared down my yarn stash, got rid of all but the most essential of knitting needles, and even knocked out all of my WIPs! Through it all I’ve learned a lot, and am excited to share these lessons with you! I believe that any knitter can join my ranks: knit through their stashes, pare down their notions and supplies, and become minimalist knitters. While not an easy journey, the process is well worth the final product – and isn’t that what we all love most about knitting, after all?!

The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook: Knitting More With Less is a full 50+ page e-book, packed with information every knitter needs to pare down their stash and start knitting in a new way – creating more finished knits with less surrounding them!

FEATURES:

  • 10+ ideas for paring down your knitting stash.
  • Suggestions for living as a minimalist knitter.
  • Three patterns included, each of which are perfect for charity donation knitting, stocking up your hand-knit presents drawer, and busting through your yarn stash!
  • Half a dozen suggestions for living as a minimalist knitter.[/list]

GET THE E-BOOK!

Download the Minimalist Knitter's Handbook for free. DOWNLOAD NOW

On My Needles Lately

While I share all my finished knits at the end of each month, I love sharing in-process shots and mid-month finished knits as well! With that in mind, here's a few shots of what's been on - and off - my needles in the past week or two:

Five finished hats in a weekend, and more on the needles since! As I work my way towards the finish line of the One Hundred Hats project, I'm excited to see so many skeins leave my stash and become finished hats that will keep people warm this coming winter! {snuck in there - shots of the Red Velvet Hat pattern that's now for sale, along with a shot of a hat pattern that's going to show up mid-August in the e-book I've been working on!} What has been showing up on - and off - your needles lately?

Red Velvet Hat

Jul 19, 2010

Red Velvet is a hat that can be worn by men or women throughout the year. The hat features cables that cover the hat from brim through the decreases, and looks good in wool or acrylics.

YARN 

One skein I Love This Wool! solids (93% wool, 7% nylon; 219 yds / 200 meters per 100 grams)

NEEDLES 

US 8 / 5.0 mm 16” circular needle
US 10 / 6.0 mm 16” circular needle
US 10 / 6.00 mm double pointed needles

NOTIONS 

Darning needle for weaving in ends
Stitch Marker
Cabling Needle

GAUGE 

20 sts x 28 rows = 4" in stockinette

SIZES 

one size fits most adults

PURCHASE PATTERN HERE

#85 - Bella's Eclipse


Last week I went to see the movie Eclipse with a friend. And I spent a good five minutes freaking out in the theater over the hat Bella wears while in the snow, before the fight scenes. Like any obsessed knitter, I tried to count the rows while trying to also pay attention to dialogue, with little success. Thankfully, there are other knitters in the world just as obsessed, and who were sucessful!

I managed to find the pattern for Bella's Eclipse hat on Ravelry, and within hours of casting on, I had a finished hat! No, my version is not done in the exact colors as Bella's - I worked with the yarn I had, as I'm knee-deep in my minimalist knitter challenge and am not buying new yarn these days. The hat is pure wonderful, even in the blue/cream color scheme I knit it in - works up fast thanks to all the stockinette stitch, and fits like a dream!

I made one small adjustment, due to my running out of blue yarn - I added one small stripe and then made the top cream instead of blue, like the pattern called for. If you make sure you've got enough yarn, you won't have the same issues, however!  

Specs: Bella's Eclipse hat, by Rachel Bearse {Ravelry link}; knit using donated yarn on size 8 needles.

#84 - Blue Zissou

Jul 18, 2010

Last weekend I set a goal - to finish five hats in two days. I managed to complete my goal with time to spare, starting with finally getting my Blue Zissou finished. To be honest, while I love the way this hat turned out I hated every second of knitting it - over eight inches of 1x1 ribbing is just ridiculous to me, and I try to avoid that sort of thing at all cost. But the Zissou hat was too cute to pass up on, so I worked through my frustration so I could work this hat up. It turned out wonderfully, and if you don't mind 1x1 ribbing it may be the perfect hat for you!  

Specs: Zissou hat by Cheryl Niamath; knit using sport weight blue yarn and size 7 needles.

weekending

Jul 16, 2010
Here's to a weekend full of relaxing and spending time with the ones you love! We intend to fill our days with family time, thanks to my mom coming out to stay for a long weekend, and our nights with good food, fire pits, and bug spray.


What will you do with your weekend?

+   +   +   +   +

Look for the release of the Red Velvet hat pattern on Monday morning!

Red Velvet (#83)

Jul 14, 2010

I'd love to introduce you to Red Velvet! Not only a hat for the One Hundred Hats project, I'm going to be offering the pattern up for sale on Monday! I was going to wait to release this pattern until mid-August, but am done with all the edits, just need one or two more photos, and I just can't keep myself from sharing it! The Red Velvet hat pattern will be available for purchase next Monday. From the pattern:
"After writing a dozen or so patterns, I began to look back at some of the first patterns I wrote. Elsie stood out to me as one that could be improved upon, so I went back to the drawing board in an attempt to make her a bit more wearable. Instead of making a few smaller changes, she morphed into the Red Velvet hat pattern! With both a worsted weight and a sport weight version included, this hat pattern can be worked up with almost any weight yarn and for either a man or a woman!"
To knit this pattern, you'll need size 6, 8, and 10 circs and DPNs, a cabling needle, and a darning needle to sew in the loose ends. You'll also need to have a basic working knowledge of cabling to make it easier, but I bet anyone can cable through the pattern with no trouble at all, so don't let it stop you if you've never cabled before!

Selling Patterns On Ravelry: My Beginner ’s Story

Most of us look around at knitting patterns being sold on Ravelry, and we quickly notice a lot of the big names. Ysolda sells her patterns and books exclusively through Ravelry, and helped raise thousands for the massive Haitian earthquake a few months ago. Melissa LeBarre sells her patterns through Ravelry and earns a nice little side income.

And even though there are thousands more successful micro-business sellers on Ravelry than there are visible big-name pattern writers, it can be daunting for a first-time designer to write up a pattern and list it for sale. I know because I’ve done it.

The reality of my tiny pattern-writing business is that I haven’t sold thousands – I haven’t even sold hundreds. To date I have sold exactly 71 patterns, earning me less than $400. To me, this is totally rock star – that’s $400 I’ve been able to use for presents for family, on knitting patterns for charity donations, and so much more!

I may not be one of the big-name pattern designers, but 71 is a lot of people who have wanted to knit something I designed! Listing patterns on Ravelry, whether for free or for purchase, can be extremely daunting at first. They have great help centers to talk you through all the technical stuff, so I’m not going to touch on that in this article. What I will share are a few tips and tricks I’ve figured out along the way – some insights to help make your first pattern sales come a bit faster.


List your pattern between 9am and 5pm CST on a Monday through Friday. If you live anywhere in the United States or Canada, as long as you list it during daytime hours during the work-week, you’ve got a better chance of more people buying. If you’re outside of those countries, figure out the time difference and post during those times.

Per Ravelry threads, there are more people on during American work-hours than any other time of the week. There’s actually a noticeable dip in traffic both to the site and for purchases on the weekends, so to get the most initial sales, list it during business hours, during the week.


Add as many photos as you have of the item, and from many different angles. I’ve noticed that the patterns I’ve written that have more photos sell more frequently than the ones with only one photo. This is also the case with downloads for free patterns I’ve written!


Grab a model (or a photographer if you’re modeling the item yourself) and take as many shots as you can get. I don’t think it matters how professional the images are – just be sure they’re well-lit and you can see the pattern clearly.

With that in mind, when at all possible model the item on or with a human. If it’s a hat, model it on a real live head rather than on a dummy or just flat. Sweaters and shawls do better on human shoulders than on laundry lines or dress forms. The more people can see your pattern at work in the “real world” the more likely they are to buy it.

If you’ve got a blog, as soon as you post the pattern to Ravelry, post about it on your blog. Let those who read your blog know there’s a new pattern available! Include a direct purchase link {Ravelry gives them to you for free!} so that if a reader isn’t a Raveler, they can still purchase your pattern. Include photos and share as much as you can about the pattern, without giving it away for free.

Hold a contest for free copies! What better way to get people excited about your pattern than to hold a contest on your blog for free copies! I like to do this anytime I list a new pattern, and I’ve found that those who don’t win are always more likely to purchase the pattern anyhow.

While you’re holding your contest, offer up free prize patterns to other bloggers who want to hold contests as well. I always love holding contests for new patterns that other people have created, and I know there’s tons of other bloggers who do as well. By letting your circle know about this, you increase the chances that new knitters will find your blog and your patterns, and make a purchase.


Don’t forget to tell those you know about the pattern via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and more. Don’t count out social networking and your “real life” friends – there’s tons of potential buyers in those groups! I make sure to hit Twitter and Facebook, as well as send an e-mail to a group I’ve got set up in my e-mail specifically for new pattern notices. What are some of your tips and tricks for successful posting patterns to Ravelry that I may have missed? Share them in the comments!


{featured photo: the worsted weight version of Red Velvet, my newest pattern - which will be available on Monday morning!}

Tackling Your WIP Bin

Jul 13, 2010
This is a chapter from my book The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook. 
 


Once upon a time, I had myself fooled into thinking I was a one project at a time kind of girl. As I started to consolidate my knitting stash and work towards a minimalist knitting existence, I realized just how many WIPs [works in progress] I actually had on-hand. Part of my year-long goal has been to rid myself of all those WIPs, and hopefully end up as someone that has no more than one or two WIPS going at any given time.

I’ve been working through my WIP pile for a few months now, and I’ve come to a very harsh decision. There are really only two options when it comes to your WIP bin: you can either frog it or you can finish it.

Those half-finished sweaters and blankets, those single socks waiting patiently for a mate – they all ended up in your WIP bin for a reason. Maybe the pattern wasn’t as amazing as it looked, or you tired of all the edging the thing needed. Whatever your reason, you need to figure out if it’s a big enough hindrance to keep you from finishing the project or not. Sometimes the decisions can be hard to make, but if the goal is a pared down, minimalist knitting life, the WIPs have to go!  

Finish it up. If the project is one you still want to finish, or there’s so little left to be done you can power through before donating the item, let this be the next knitting project you finish. Yes, you will have temporarily created a WIP by setting down what you have been working on, and you can wait until that project is done if you like, but be sure this type of WIP is the next on your list. As you finish each WIP, be sure to decide immediately what to do with it. Is it becoming a holiday present? Then add it to your holiday present stash. Will it be donated? Then make up the envelope and get it into the mail. If you don’t have a home in mind for your WIPs while you’re knitting, they are more likely to fall back into the unfinished knits bin.  

Don’t be afraid to frog. We all have projects we started with the best of intentions, but didn’t finish for one reason or another. Examine each project individually, and decide if you really want to finish that project RIGHT NOW. If you do, knit on that until it’s done. If you don’t, frog it right then and there. The yarn that’s been sitting unloved can be re-purposed for another project, or it can be donated to someone else. Don’t simply wind the yarn up into cakes and toss them into your stash, however. If you’re going to frog your project, let that yarn become either the next project you cast on, or give it to someone who will use it and love it.  

No More Unfinished Knits. As you work through your WIP bin, keep this goal in mind – this will be the last time you have to tackle an unfinished knits pile. From this day forward, let no project languish unfinished. Apply these two basic ideas to any and every project you are knitting AS SOON AS you start to feel yourself straying to a new project. Stash yarn is still stash yarn until it’s been made into something useable!

Tackling Your WIP Bin

Once upon a time, I had myself fooled into thinking I was a one project at a time kind of girl. As I started to consolidate my knitting stash and work towards a minimalist knitting existence, I realized just how many WIPs [works in progress] I actually had on-hand.
Part of my year-long goal has been to rid myself of all those WIPs, and hopefully end up as someone that has no more than one or two WIPS going at any given time.

I’ve been working through my WIP pile for a few months now, and I’ve come to a very harsh decision. There are really only two options when it comes to your WIP bin: you can either frog it or you can finish it.

Those half-finished sweaters and blankets, those single socks waiting patiently for a mate – they all ended up in your WIP bin for a reason. Maybe the pattern wasn’t as amazing as it looked, or you tired of all the edging the thing needed.

Whatever your reason, you need to figure out if it’s a big enough hindrance to keep you from finishing the project or not. Sometimes the decisions can be hard to make, but if the goal is a pared down, minimalist knitting life, the WIPs have to go!


Finish it up. If the project is one you still want to finish, or there’s so little left to be done you can power through before donating the item, let this be the next knitting project you finish. Yes, you will have temporarily created a WIP by setting down what you have been working on, and you can wait until that project is done if you like, but be sure this type of WIP is the next on your list.

As you finish each WIP, be sure to decide immediately what to do with it. Is it becoming a holiday present? Then add it to your holiday present stash. Will it be donated? Then make up the envelope and get it into the mail. If you don’t have a home in mind for your WIPs while you’re knitting, they are more likely to fall back into the unfinished knits bin.


Don’t be afraid to frog. We all have projects we started with the best of intentions, but didn’t finish for one reason or another. Examine each project individually, and decide if you really want to finish that project RIGHT NOW. If you do, knit on that until it’s done. If you don’t, frog it right then and there.

The yarn that’s been sitting unloved can be repurposed for another project, or it can be donated to someone else. Don’t simply wind the yarn up into cakes and toss them into your stash, however. If you’re going to frog your project, let that yarn become either the next project you cast on, or give it to someone who will use it and love it.


No More Unfinished Knits. As you work through your WIP bin, keep this goal in mind – this will be the last time you have to tackle an unfinished knits pile. From this day forward, let no project languish unfinished. Apply these two basic ideas to any and every project you are knitting AS SOON AS you start to feel yourself straying to a new project. Stash yarn is still stash yarn until it’s been made into something useable!


{image is of Zissou hat, which languished in my WIP bin for far too long!}

Beanpole (#82)

Jul 12, 2010

Knitted up before the holiday weekend, this hat has been a long time coming! And while I loathe making bobbles, I love how they look - especially on this cute little number. From the cables instead of ribbing for the brim - such a cute detail, and one I want to incorporate into future patterns for sure - to the tiny bobbles and yarn overs that make this pattern so wonderful, this hat was pure joy to knit up!  

Specs: Beanpole Beanie (free Ravelry download) by Rachel Weaver; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in Rose, with size 6 and 7 bamboo needles.

Selling Patterns On Ravelry

Most of us look around at knitting patterns being sold on Ravelry, and we quickly notice a lot of the big names. Ysolda sells her patterns and books exclusively through Ravelry, and helped raise thousands for the massive Haitian earthquake a few months ago. Melissa LeBarre sells her patterns through Ravelry and earns a nice little side income.

And even though there are thousands more successful micro-business sellers on Ravelry than there are visible big-name pattern writers, it can be daunting for a first-time designer to write up a pattern and list it for sale. I know because I’ve done it.

The reality of my tiny pattern-writing business is that I haven’t sold thousands – I haven’t even sold hundreds. To date I have sold exactly 71 patterns, earning me less than $400. To me, this is totally rock star – that’s $400 I’ve been able to use for presents for family, on knitting patterns for charity donations, and so much more! I may not be one of the big-name pattern designers, but 71 is a lot of people who have wanted to knit something I designed!

Listing patterns on Ravelry, whether for free or for purchase, can be extremely daunting at first. They have great help centers to talk you through all the technical stuff, so I’m not going to touch on that in this article. What I will share are a few tips and tricks I’ve figured out along the way – some insights to help make your first pattern sales come a bit faster. 

  List your pattern between 9am and 5pm CST on a Monday through Friday. If you live anywhere in the United States or Canada, as long as you list it during daytime hours during the work-week, you’ve got a better chance of more people buying. If you’re outside of those countries, figure out the time difference and post during those times. Per Ravelry threads, there are more people on during American work-hours than any other time of the week. There’s actually a noticeable dip in traffic both to the site and for purchases on the weekends, so to get the most initial sales, list it during business hours, during the week.  

Add as many photos as you have of the item, and from many different angles. I’ve noticed that the patterns I’ve written that have more photos sell more frequently than the ones with only one photo. This is also the case with downloads for free patterns I’ve written!  

Grab a model (or a photographer if you’re modeling the item yourself) and take as many shots as you can get. I don’t think it matters how professional the images are – just be sure they’re well-lit and you can see the pattern clearly.

With that in mind, when at all possible model the item on or with a human. If it’s a hat, model it on a real live head rather than on a dummy or just flat. Sweaters and shawls do better on human shoulders than on laundry lines or dress forms. The more people can see your pattern at work in the “real world” the more likely they are to buy it.

If you’ve got a blog, as soon as you post the pattern to Ravelry, post about it on your blog. Let those who read your blog know there’s a new pattern available! Include a direct purchase link {Ravelry gives them to you for free!} so that if a reader isn’t a Raveler, they can still purchase your pattern. Include photos and share as much as you can about the pattern, without giving it away for free.  

Hold a contest for free copies! What better way to get people excited about your pattern than to hold a contest on your blog for free copies! I like to do this anytime I list a new pattern, and I’ve found that those who don’t win are always more likely to purchase the pattern anyhow.

While you’re holding your contest, offer up free prize patterns to other bloggers who want to hold contests as well. I always love holding contests for new patterns that other people have created, and I know there’s tons of other bloggers who do as well. By letting your circle know about this, you increase the chances that new knitters will find your blog and your patterns, and make a purchase.  

Don’t forget to tell those you know about the pattern via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and more. Don’t count out social networking and your “real life” friends – there’s tons of potential buyers in those groups! I make sure to hit Twitter and Facebook, as well as send an e-mail to a group I’ve got set up in my e-mail specifically for new pattern notices. What are some of your tips and tricks for successful posting patterns to Ravelry that I may have missed? Share them in the comments!

Focusing On The Essential – Ten Growth-Inducing Habits I’m Forming Right Now

Jul 8, 2010
Everett and Glen both recently wrote posts about what they’re NOT DOING in order to grow their businesses. While amazing lists, they got me thinking – what am I DOING in order to not only grow Minimalist Knitter, but to also grow my own minimalist life?

It can be easy to feature the “do nots” in lists – there is an entire show dedicated to what we SHOULDN’T be wearing, and entire networks dedicated to how we shouldn’t decorate or design our homes.

Whenever I read a list like this, my first question is: alright then, if this is what I shouldn’t be doing, then what SHOULD I be doing? I’ve taken some time to think this through, and this is what I’ve come up with – my non-definitive, always subject to change list of ten things I’m doing every day to grow as a minimalist and to grow Minimalist Knitter.

1. Writing down patterns as I come up with them. For several months, I would just assume that I could hold a pattern in my brain until I was ready to knit it. I’ve come to realize this just isn’t true – if I don’t write it down immediately, the pattern will be lost. So I’ve started writing the patterns down, as much of them as I come up with, and storing them in a “patterns” file on my computer. I’m excited to watch it continue to grow, and to know I’ve got tons of fun patterns to share for months to come!

2. Reading and following the blogs and Twitter accounts of a handful of inspiring people, both minimalists and knitters. A few weeks ago I clear-cut through my feed reader, paring it down to around 80 blogs I love and read every day. I don’t miss the hundreds that used to be there, and I love heading to my Google Reader a few times a day for a small shot of inspiration. Time suck? Probably. But it’s well worth it to me, creatively, so I’m fine with it!

3. Culling small amounts of stuff from my life. Daily. We’ve started to slowly pare down all of the stuff of our life to a more minimalist existence, and have agreed to take at least one load to the Goodwill each month. We’re finding one or two things a day and adding them to a pile, and it feel so good when that pile gets taken out of our home and donated! We’re figuring out together what we truly need in our lives, and it’s a wonderful process!

4. Knitting what I love. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends, to feel like you have to knit a pattern because everyone else loves it. I’m allowing myself to not be that knitter, instead knitting what draws me in – this tends to be clean lines without a lot of fuss and muss.

5. Connecting with knitters. I try to connect with as many knitters as I can on a daily basis. Whether this is commenting on their finished items in Ravelry, commenting on blogs, or responding to as many comments as I can {thanks to Blogger, that doesn’t seem to be too many … boo!}. To me, connecting with the knitting community is a must – fuels my creativity and reminds me that knitting is a group sport!

6. Focusing on my life goals. I try to re-read over my life goals and my 34@33 goals at least once a week. I tweak them if I need to, but mostly I read over them to remind me of where I want to go. Having goals written down, these big dreams and someday wishes mixed in with very tangible and attainable tasks, has helped me to move forwards on projects like Minimalist Knitter. Before I wrote down my life goals I just floundered – they are life changing!

7. Taking time to read. I’ve been trying to read during my lunch hour at work every day. Not only am I reading more books, I’ve found I’m much more calm when I head back to the dreaded window-less cubicle!

8. Drinking lots of water. I’m always amazed at how much better I feel when I drink more water. I now have a reusable water bottle at my desk at work, and I try to drink a glass or two of water before I go to bed at night. I wake up more alert – okay, I’m alert faster! – and I’ve found I’ve got less headaches and my super dry skin isn’t so dry!

9. Using what I’ve got. As I knit my way through my yarn stash, I’m finding myself using up the stuff around me in other ways as well. It’s nice to know that we’ve got tons of stuff we can use up instead of needing to buy new all the time, and our home is slowly becoming less cluttered as a result.

10. Sitting outside and relaxing. My husband built this AMAZING fire pit area in our backyard recently, and now that we’ve got it, we’re spending less time inside in front of the television and more time grilling out, enjoying one another’s company, and being in nature. It’s totally medicine for the soul – stuff that we didn’t even know we needed!

Let’s focus on the positive today – what is one thing you already do that is growing you into the person you want to be? For today, let’s focus not on the “here’s what I want to be doing” but instead stand up proudly and claim what we are ALREADY DOING!!{photo credit}

Purke (#81)

Jul 6, 2010

What a nice 4th of July weekend I had! Spent some time with friends at a cabin on a lake, got in tons of knitting time, and even began to dream about new patterns. The hat above, however, was conceived a few weeks earlier, at a baseball game!

 Purke is the young pitcher for the TCU Horned Frogs, and his wonderful story inspired me while watching him pitch his team to the semi-finals in their first-ever trip to the College World Series! Because I was at a baseball game I needed to make a simpler pattern, and as I knit and he pitched, this hat was born!

I've currently got some wonderful knitters test-knitting the pattern {with a few changes added in to make the hat a bit more fun, along with a few more sizes so it will fit just about any size head!}, and I'll be making it available for sale soon.  

Specs: Purke - my pattern; knit using Stitch Nation Alpaca love in grey and size 8 needles.

Ten Minimalist Knitting Choices You Can Make Today

One. Donate one skein of yarn. Everyone has at least one skein of yarn in their collection they wouldn’t miss – find that skein and get rid of it. You can gift it to a fellow knitter, sell it on Ravelry, or donate it to charity, but get it out of your stash and your home.
Two. Get rid of a set of knitting needles. We’ve all purchased a set of needles we’ll never use again. Put it in your “to donate” box and take it on your next trip to the Goodwill. You won’t miss it.
Three. Organize your pdf patterns. Divide them up by finished product type, who will end up with them {men, women, etc}, or come up with your own system. As you work, open up each pattern and decide if you still want to keep it. Chances are half of the patterns you’ve saved are ones you’ll never knit again.
Four. Knit a hat – and give it away. There are people all around you that will need warmth this coming winter, and you’ve got yarn and the skills to help out. Grab a skein of your workhorse wool and knit a hat you’ll give away – then go find someone who looks cold this winter and offer it to them.
Five. Clean out your notions bag – get rid of anything you haven’t used on your last ten projects. Notions bags are like purses; they collect crap. I like to clean out my notions bag a few times a year, and am always surprised at what I find inside. Most likely you’ll be able to lighten your notions load by almost half.
Six. Delete anything on your Ravelry queue that’s been there for more than a year. With very few exceptions, if you haven’t knit it by now, you most likely won’t knit it anytime in the near future. And with Ravelry’s amazing search capabilities, if you really want to find it again you’ll be able to. Lighten that visual clutter! 
Seven. Frog a WIP. If it’s been sitting in your “to finish knitting” pile for more than a year, you will probably never finish it. Whatever stalled you out the first time will continue to keep you stalled out indefinitely. Frog that project so you can use the yarn for another project. Better yet, once you frog it, give the yarn away! 
Eight. Finish a WIP. If it just needs a button band, cuffs on the sleeves, snaps sewn on, or the ends woven in, just finish it. Walk away from the computer, go grab what you need, and take the time to get it done and out of your WIP pile.
Nine. Knit outside. Connecting with nature brings a sense of peace and calm, centering you and helping you let go. It will get you away from your stash, all the knitting clutter you’ve accumulated, and re-focus your minimalist knitting mission. 
Ten. Re-purpose yarn from a thrift store sweater. There are dozens of sweaters in any thrift store that can be repurposed for new-to-you yarn. Find a tutorial if you don’t already know how, and help give new life to used yarn rather than buying new.

Ten Minimalist Knitting Choices You Can Make Today


This is a chapter from my book The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook. Image from Unclutterer.




Donate one skein of yarn. Everyone has at least one skein of yarn in their collection they wouldn’t miss – find that skein and get rid of it. You can gift it to a fellow knitter, sell it on Ravelry, or donate it to charity, but get it out of your stash and your home.  

Get rid of a set of knitting needles. We’ve all purchased a set of needles we’ll never use again. Put it in your “to donate” box and take it on your next trip to the Goodwill. You won’t miss it.  

Organize your pdf patterns. Divide them up by finished product type, who will end up with them {men, women, etc}, or come up with your own system. As you work, open up each pattern and decide if you still want to keep it. Chances are half of the patterns you’ve saved are ones you’ll never knit again.  

Knit a hat – and give it away. There are people all around you that will need warmth this coming winter, and you’ve got yarn and the skills to help out. Grab a skein of your workhorse wool and knit a hat you’ll give away – then go find someone who looks cold this winter and offer it to them.  

Clean out your notions bag – get rid of anything you haven’t used on your last ten projects. Notions bags are like purses; they collect crap. I like to clean out my notions bag a few times a year, and am always surprised at what I find inside. Most likely you’ll be able to lighten your notions load by almost half.  

Delete anything on your Ravelry queue that’s been there for more than a year. With very few exceptions, if you haven’t knit it by now, you most likely won’t knit it anytime in the near future. And with Ravelry’s amazing search capabilities, if you really want to find it again you’ll be able to. Lighten that visual clutter!  

Frog a WIP. If it’s been sitting in your “to finish knitting” pile for more than a year, you will probably never finish it. Whatever stalled you out the first time will continue to keep you stalled out indefinitely. Frog that project so you can use the yarn for another project. Better yet, once you frog it, give the yarn away! 

Finish a WIP. If it just needs a button band, cuffs on the sleeves, snaps sewn on, or the ends woven in, just finish it. Walk away from the computer, go grab what you need, and take the time to get it done and out of your WIP pile.

Knit outside. Connecting with nature brings a sense of peace and calm, centering you and helping you let go. It will get you away from your stash, all the knitting clutter you’ve accumulated, and re-focus your minimalist knitting mission.  

Re-purpose yarn from a thrift store sweater. There are dozens of sweaters in any thrift store that can be repurposed for new-to-you yarn. Find a tutorial if you don’t already know how, and help give new life to used yarn rather than buying new.

Boys Town Beanie

Jul 3, 2010

After hearing the Boys Town football team head coach speak at a work function, I was inspired to knit a hat for each member of their high school varsity squad. Needing a simple pattern that would work well for a variety of teenage boys, and without the benefit of sizes on hand, I came up with a super stretchy hat that should fit just about anyone's head.

This is a one-size beanie — it fits my head about as well as it fits my husband's. Made this way on purpose, you can give it to a wide range of people and ensure it will fit.

DOWNLOAD NOW

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • One size US 9 / 5.5 mm circular needle, 16"
  • One set US 9 / 5.5 mm DPNs
  • One skein Red Heart Super Saver Solids {100% acrylic; 364yds/333m per 198g} for main color (MC)
  • Five yards Red Heart Super Saver Solids {100% acrylic; 364yds/333m per 198g for contrasting color (CC)
  • Darning needle

GAUGE

17 stitches = 4"

SIZES

child (adult)

ABBREVIATIONS

CC = contrasting color
CO = cast on
K = knit
K2tog = knit 2 stitches together
MC = main color
P = purl
P2tog = purl 2 stitches together
Sts = stitches

DIRECTIONS

With CC, cast on 76 {96} stitches. Join for working in the round.

Rows 1 - 3: With CC, k2 p2. Repeat around hat.

Row 4: Switch to MC. K2, p2. Repeat around hat.

Repeat k2, p2 ribbing with MC until hat measures 7 {10} inches from cast on edge.

SHAPE CROWN

Row 1: k2tog, p2. Repeat around hat.

Row 2: k1, p2. Repeat around hat.

Row 3: k1, p2tog. Repeat around hat.

Row 4: k1, p1. Repeat around hat.

Row 5: K2tog. Repeat around hat.

Row 6: Knit all stitches.

Row 7: K2tog. Repeat around.

FINISHING

Break yarn, leaving a 10” tail. Weave through stitches on needles, and bind off. Weave in all ends.

SHARE

I’d love to see your finished hats! Tag your projects #shemakeshats on Instagram to share!
 
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