Sunday, January 26, 2020

Ferociously Funny Socks from The World Knits Collection

Available on my website here
and on Ravelry here

Number 4 in The World Knits Collection are my Ferociously Funny Socks. Sock knitting was not much of a thing back in 1992 but I could feel a trend coming on. This pattern includes 4 different versions of the Ferociously Funny Socks. You can see them on the cover of the booklet below. 

They don't seem very revolutionary now but back then, these socks were something quite different. Knit in Classic Elite's Tapestry Wool/Mohair, they were colorful, very fun to knit and quite addictive. They each begin with my favorite two color corrugated ribbing edged in reverse stockinette stitch ridges. Each design adds a bit more difficulty to them culminating in the sock you can see all the way to the left with Fair Isle Patterning and duplicate stitching. 

Sadly, my sample socks disappeared 25 years ago so I can't share them with you. It seems a world away from these first socks after all the twists and turns of the yarn industry, people going in an out of business, hand-dyers making sock yarn, me having a line of sock yarn with Regia (that's gone now). I'm not sure if knitters are making as many socks as they once did in the early 00's with those little needles.

Me, I will happily make a sock on size 4 double pointed needles just like the ones featured here. Classic and as easy or difficult to make depending on your wants and skill. There is also a pattern for a back and forth simple sock included. 

You can purchase the PDF Download for the Ferociously Funny Socks on my website here and on Ravelry here. There is a pattern page now for this design on Ravelry if you have an older pair that you would like to post as a project. Or put them on Instagram and tag me so I can see what you knit. 

Spread the word about The World Knits Collection. Thanks everyone! 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Outlandishly Happy Gloves from The World Knits Collection

Available on my website here
and on Ravelry here

Back in 1992, I had never knit a pair of gloves before. Mittens - yes - lots of them. Gloves - no. I had always been scared off by all the fingers. After making the pair of Andean inspired Eclectic Ethnic Dolls, I felt like I could attempt 10 fingers on a pair of gloves. I had no idea how to size the fingers. I found a book in my library from the early 80's by Belle Myers called Knitting Know-How. There was a rough plan for gloves. I cast on and made myself a pair. I charted out a flower motif and planned to embroider details on the Fair Isle design. You can barely see one of my gloves on the lower right of the photo. 

The gloves featured 2 bands of corrugated ribbing in different colors split up and edged with reverse stockinette stitch ridges. The idea was to mix a bunch of different colors together. Each finger would be a different color and they were tipped with reverse stockinette stitch in another color. 

I found several knitters who would do their very own version. For the photo, we grabbed a whole bunch of people and laid them on the ground in a circle. The photographer stood over them and directed the hands which way to move. It was quite a sight. 

These gloves have totally stood the test of time. Here is a second pair that I made (my first pair somehow sadly disappeared along with all of my projects from the World Knits Collection). As you can see - they were well worn and loved. I have had to reknit the fingers a few times with other colors of yarn. 

I hope you will give them a go - glove novice or not. They are a very fun knit and won’t take you as long as you think. Maybe you have a pair that you knit long ago. I invite you to add them to the Ravelry page that is now up

Available on my website here
and on Ravelry here

If you want to keep the pattern in your Ravelry Pattern Library, make sure you order through the Kristin Nicholas Ravelry Store (not my website). 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Andean Inspired Eclectic Ethnic Dolls

Available on my website here
and on Ravelry here

Number 2 in the World Knits Collection are my Eclectic Ethnic Dolls - a man and a woman originally knit in Tapestry Wool/Mohair, Caravan Camel Hair/Wool and Mouton Boucle for the hair. 

When I started perusing Cynthia Gravelle Lecount’s Andean Folk Knitting I was drawn to photos of small knitted dolls. I am assuming that many of these were made for the tourist market. They were such fun. Each little guy had their own quirks (see the little guy on the left with only one leg). 

With a little more research, it turns out that the dolls were originally made as little bags to carry coins and valuables. The women used to carry them with them and they took the form of animals and little people. How sweet. Here is a photo of a Bolivian monederos (that is what they are called) from the Jeff Appleby Collection at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. You can read the article about how the construction was documented and see the sample knit by the volunteer Jean Scardina at the DeYoung. Fascinating. 

I was inspired to try to knit my own pair of dolls but at a friendly gauge of about 6 stitches per inch. I knew it was a crazy idea and I had no idea if anyone else would want to make one. 

First I knit the girl doll and I named her Lindecita. She needed a mate so I knit her Alejandro. Sadly, L & A disappeared many years ago. Last year, I got a note from a woman named Noreen that she was downsizing her home. She wanted to send me her set of Eclectic Ethnic Dolls. Did I want them? Oh yes I did! because mine went missing 25 years ago. Here are her dolls sitting happily in my library now. Thank you Noreen! 

I can’t tell you how fun the Eclectic Ethnic Dolls are to knit. You will have to see for yourself. as they grow on your needles and you design their clothing. You can become as creative as you want with the clothing. There is graph paper included so you can design your own charts. If you knit your own and take photos, tag me on Instagram and upload the photos to Ravelry so others can see. 

Available on my website here
and on Ravelry here

If you want to keep the pattern in your Ravelry Library, make sure you order through my Kristin Nicholas Ravelry Store (not my website). 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Hat Design - An Andean Inspired Ch'ulla

Available on my website here

Let's start at the beginning of The World Knits Collection. In 1991, one of the most inspiring knitting books was released - Cynthia Gravelle Lecount's Andean Folk Knitting. Although I have never traveled to the Andes, I did purchase a lot of yarn from the commercial spinners in Peru. This book was mostly in black and white with a few photos in color of the author's collection of knits. It took her over a decade to write and is full of her own illustrations, B/W photos and some knitting patterns and lots of charts and history. It is a treasure and is out of print and goes for a good $ now used. My first copy fell apart so below is my newer copy. There is much history and explanation about the knits of Peru with some technique thrown in too. I was in love with the book. Too bad it isn't being published now because I can't imagine the color that would be on its pages. 

Andean style hats with ear flaps were quite popular on ski slopes and college campuses. When I began the World Knits Collection, I knew I had to develop one of these hats at a friendly knitterly gauge of 6 stitches per inch. This pattern is what I came up with. It is sized for kids and adults and features an easy to knit ear flap. 

Available on my website here

Cynthia has just had another book published called The Textile Traveler's Guide to Peru and Bolivia

She also has a new name - Cynthia LeCount Samake.  The Textile Traveler's Guide to Bolivia and Peru is gorgeous - full color and besides a guide to travel there are lots of photos and stories of textiles. It is published by Thrums Books (a newish publisher of books by the former owner of Interweave Press).  Cynthia runs textile tours all over the world with her company Behind The Scenes Adventures and you can check them out here

Here is a lovely video of people knitting and sheep in Peru. What a feast for the senses. 

You can order my Peruvian Ch'ulla patterns now via PDF Download.
Available on my website here

Introducing The World Knits Collection By Kristin Nicholas

In my life, January is for catching up on projects that I never have enough time for -- projects that take a lot of intense concentration and hours and hours of work. Last January, I built myself a new website using the Big Cartel platform. It was a ton of work and I learned a lot. 

This January I have been tackling another enormous project. It is finally done and I can tell you all about it. For those of you who have been following me for years, you probably know me as a knitwear designer. I worked for Classic Elite Yarns as the Creative Director for 16 years. CEY closed up shop in 2018. I wrote about that here

Back in the 1990's I developed a range of patterns and kits for Classic Elite Yarns. It ran over 4 years and was super popular. There were four new booklets and kits each fall season and they were sold in LYS. The booklets were packed in wicker baskets with six assorted colors of yarn and then shrink-wrapped. They were sold exclusively through local yarn stores. This was before the internet, before Ravelry and before so much in the yarn industry began to change. There was no such thing as an indie dyer or designer back then (there were probably those folks but those names had not yet been coined). 

I called the collection of these 16 patterns The World Knits Collection. They were inspired by my love of traditional cultures, costumes, and handknit, handmade, embroidered folk costumes. You can see the little booklets that I wrote and produced in the photo below. 

I would write and knit the first sample of the project (sometimes I knit them all depending on the project and time I had). Then I would find talented knitters to make the rest of the samples. Each little booklet had several versions of the projects in it. I would give the knitters the Tapestry Wool/Mohair yarn in the colors I knew would work nicely together. They got a typed out pattern and many charts that they could pick from for their project. They would make the project I needed and put their own spin on it if they felt like it. The projects would come back to CEY and we would photograph them. The projects would travel to trade shows and then find their way back to the knitters. 

I met the most amazing knitters through this project - many who became friends who I miss. I have sadly lost track of most of them now since I haven't been as involved with the knitting world for several years. These 16 World Knits Collection booklets really helped to cement my place as a knitwear designer in the industry. Several of the projects morphed into projects in my two most recent knitting books Kristin Knits (2006) and Color By Kristin (2009).

Over the years, the industry has changed so much. The little booklets were stashed in knitter's homes or thrown away. Knitters don't buy books so much anymore so all my designs have been locked away in my books that people don't read or reference anymore. My books are still in print but they are basically just taking up space in publishers' warehouses. It really is a very sad situation.

This past fall, I was able to purchase the rights to my World Knits Collection. I then had the opportunity to publish them on my own. But finding the time to do that was impossible with all the stuff I had on my plate with my pottery and our farm before Christmas. I decided to take January to get these things in order and so I have. 

I'm sure some of you still have these booklets or perhaps knit from them in the past. I'm hoping I can inspire some newer knitters to try projects from the World Knits Collection. Over the next few weeks I will be introducing each one here on my blog. The patterns will only be available as PDF Downloads, not printed. You can print them out yourself though. 

If you can and are interested, please help me spread the word in your knitting world. All the patterns are available for sale on my Ravelry store and on my website HERE as digital PDF downloads.  

Friday, January 17, 2020

#100DayProject - What will yours be?

I'm trying to decide upon another 100 day project for 2020. It will hold me accountable to my ceramics work or whatever and help me to keep moving forward. There is something about making a statement to the world - even if it is to my following on Instagram - most of the people who I do not personally know.

There is an official 100 day project which you can learn more about HERE. From what I see, the official project begins April 7, 2020. Check it out if you want to stretch your creativity and take on a project such as this. There is another 100 Day Project that begins January 22nd and ends April 30th. You can see that site HERE

I don't think it is necessary to belong to either of these projects - you can begin a 100 day project of your own anytime - that's what I did. I gave my project its own tag #100daysofvases and now I (and anyone) can look at that project on Instagram. It's incredible to look back to see what I accomplished. 

It's a big commitment and maybe you don't have time for it. You could also do a 30 Day Project and see how that goes. Let me know if you do one so I can follow along. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

"Your Storage is Full"

The other day I got an automated email from Google. It said that I was almost out of the free storage on my account. They wanted $1.99/month for me to purchase extra storage. It seemed reasonable and then I looked into where all this storage was being used. It turns out that most of the info that was hogging the space was emails from "promotional" accounts that I have never even read. Every day I trash emails but unbeknownst to me, they weren't really going away - they were just being moved to a different location on my account. I've have now tried deleting them from my account following Google's directions and I'm not sure it worked. It looks like I've got a bit more space on my account - depending on where I look. It's all a big mystery to me - and maybe you too. 

What I have done is un-subscribed myself from lots of the junk mail I seem to get DAILY from the same companies. Geez - how do those people keep sending me stuff? How could I possibly be interested in opening every single email from companies selling things I will never need and political candidates asking for money and my vote? I suppose it is a law of numbers and that someone will open every 5th email they send. But seriously.

With my on-line business I feel like I am bothering people by sending a newsletter every week or so. Obviously I don't know what I am doing because I don't send enough emails. 

What do you think? How do you deal with all the promotional emails?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Thinking On This New Tile Project.....

Looking forward to this year, I'm thinking about this....

I want to make a tile backsplash for the wall behind my stove shown above. Last year my 18 year old propane powered stove/oven finally could not be repaired. I had to get a new one that fit into the same spot. I had a beautiful Thermador tank that I loved but this time around, could not afford the price of a new one. The stove I got is okay but nothing like that Thermador cadillac. I'm used to it now but it is "tinny" feeling and I know it won't last as long as the old one. I will say, it has good power -- even more than my tired old stove. The last one had amazing insulation and the kitchen didn't get hot in the summer. This one's insulation stinks and in the summer I barely used the oven because it really raised the heat in the kitchen. I'm not a fan of hot kitchens - except in the winter like last night when it was 16 degrees outside. 

I'm not sure what the tile backsplash is going to be yet but these photos have got me thinking. I will probably use purchased bisqued tiles and decorate them with underglazes. I will not put them on the wall permanently but will mount them on cement board and attach that to the wall somehow - like I did on the tile surround in our library. (Photo by Rikki Snyder from my book Crafting A Patterned Home available on my website at a 2 for 1 promotional offer now.)

Hope I can get to this project soon. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Me on Knitting and Books

I've hinted on my newsletter of late (sign up for it on the sidebar at the top of the blog), that I've got some new knitting content coming. It's actually not new but rather old but so old it may look new again! Yikes - how did that happen. I'm in my sixth decade of life. We have lived here on this farm for almost 21 years. How did it all go by so fast? How much time to I have left? Am I still relevant to anyone?

I'm in the midst of building PDF files for a rather large amount of work. I will be launching this project in the very near future. I'm hoping it all catches on but time will tell and I may be too much of a dinosaur to get any traction in the knitting community again. 

As I have been preparing the files, I've been looking back at some of my designing history. I haven't published a new knitting pattern since 2014. It was this cute Easy Aran sweater modeled by my little friend Emme who is now almost ten. 
I thought I was going to make a fortune. This was one of those patterns that used to do extremely well when I worked at Classic Elite Yarns. We'd sell tons of copies of designs like this. I was wrong, so wrong. 

I've sold a total of 29 of these PDF patterns for a grand total of $174 since 2014. This failure was what kind of turned me off to developing any new knitting patterns. Too much competition out there... who can find me.... I'm not relevant anymore.... nor am I feeling the knitting love and passion..... 

This break from knitwear design and the knitting world has been very good for me. I've moved beyond what I was known for and stretched my boundaries. I can't say I am any bit of a huge success but I feel good about the things I have done -- including writing two interior design/crafting books and republishing two embroidery titles. 

I pretty much feel that I am done with writing books for now. I've said what I have to say and until I find a new passion that I think the world needs in book format I will be working more on physical projects that I can share with my community on-line.

What are your thoughts on knitting and where do you buy your patterns? What are you looking for?  What are your thoughts on books? Do you even buy them anymore? Do you read anymore? All things to ponder as the world changes. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Main Street USA in Brattleboro VT and Greenfield MA

Sadly, one of my favorite stores in the world - Delectable Mountain in Brattleboro VT - closed its doors on December 31st. You can read an article about it here. Julia and I made our last trek to the store on the 29th. The place was filled with other fabric lovers trying to find their one last piece of incredible cloth to add to their collection. Over the years, my needs for cloth have changed as I wear clothes that are more serviceable than fancy. I have helped keep the store going with my addiction to beautiful Indian shawls, sparkly earrings and beautiful buttons. I looked forward to my yearly Christmas gift of a gift certificate from The Farmer. As I walked out the door the last time with my treasure bag, I couldn't help but tear up. Such a wonderful place full of beauty and lovely humanity. I am going to miss it so much. I hope I run into Jan and her employees again. She did give me hope that she may run some pop-up fabric events. 

Greenfield, Massachusetts is the largest town in our area and where we go to do the things that need to be done. In the very center of town, Wilson's Department Store has been the anchor for 137 years. Walking into Wilson's is like walking into a time warp. When I was a kid, we shopped at a similar place in Morristown, NJ called Epstein's. "Progress" moved faster in NJ than here. Malls began wrecking the retail landscape in the 70's down there. Sadly, Wilson's is closing its doors after all those years. Their survival was possible most likely because the closest mall to Greenfield is a half hour away. People here in Franklin County are also ferociously loyal. I am not surprised that Wilson's is closing -- the retail environment is so difficult for brick and mortar stores now. I can't say I have helped them survive much -- I wear old clothes and make lots of the things I wear. I did love their housewares and kitchen departments and always tried to find what I needed there before going to a big box store. *See below.

All this closing of businesses though gives me cause to think about the future of the small town. How is it going to survive? What is it going to look like? Is this a generational shift of businesses? What is the next generation of local business owners going to do and be and develop? I have never wanted to have a retail business in a town with fixed retail hours. It just isn't for me - I like to be free to come and go and not be tied down to a schedule. I never minded having a job in an office but retail never wooed me. Funny though that I sell things on-line and that doesn't bother me. I like it because I am not beholden to certain hours and corporate overlords. I can do what I want and when I want. 

What do you think about the future of downtowns? What's going on in your downtown? Do you even have one anymore? Do you only shop on-line? Do you not know how to order something on-line. Would love to hear. 

Have a great day everyone.  
*Here is some good news. Our local food coop -- Greenfields Market -- is looking into moving into the Wilson's space. You can read about that here. Greenfields Market is a great little store with a nice bakery and they also sell our lamb! I think it would be a win for our Main Street if this did happen. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Meeting and Greeting and Selling In Person in 2019

We will be doing the Amherst Common Saturday Market again this year. We had a great season in 2019 and it worked out very well having both Mark and I in the booth and selling both our farm raised lamb and my artwork. I started bringing my artwork to the market when I had to take over when The Farmer was involved with surgery, etc. I figured if I had to stand there, I might as well try to sell my work as well as our lamb. We reached far more people because there is a limited number of folks who purchase lamb at farmers markets. There is another whole group who are interested in pretty handmade things. It was a good move and I've got to design some new tea towels to have ready for the upcoming 2020 season. 

In late September I did my first "show" with my ceramics at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. It was a fun time. Here's the sign I made for my booth. I will apply again this year. 

This past December we had an extremely successful Holiday Open House here at Leyden Glen Farm. I'm not sure what it was that made it so successful. Was it the snow and the chance to visit a farm in the country covered with fields and surround covered with white fluffy stuff? Or was it my 100 day project that got people interested enough to come here? Whatever it was, I am thankful for those who came and I'll try to do make next year's just as exciting for those of you who choose to come. (Secretly though - I'm really hoping there won't be snow because it made me crazy with worry and complicated everything - as huge snowstorms are wont to do). 

Ferociously Funny Socks from The World Knits Collection

Available on my website here and on Ravelry here Number 4 in The World Knits Collection are my Ferociously Funny Socks . Sock kn...