Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Search of a City

We here at the Right Out Loud Household are deep in the middle of a city search. In reality it's more of a job search because mostly we'll go wherever the job is, and more accurately still, we'll go wherever The Boyfriend's job ends up being because all I do is this knitting, teaching, designing gig and I can do that from anywhere. Although some places are better suited for a knitter for sure.

While it's true that the job search includes Austin and while it is also true that we may end up staying here, it is seeming a little less likely, and researching new cities and places to live is sort of fun. Again, we'll ultimately go where the job takes us, but there is a small but growing list of cities I would be perfectly jazzy to call home.

What does it take for me to be jazzy about a place? Seasons for one - and this is a big one. I miss Fall most of all, and I even miss Winter some. I also need a few quality yarn stores, a safe place to run, friendly folks, a thriving farmer's market, and at least one Indian restaurant. The Boyfriend needs a job.

At the top of the list of cities I've grown fond of is Portland, Oregon, followed closely by Eugene, Oregon, which I know are totally different, but for speculative city searching purposes they are sort of the same and fully merged in my mind - I say Eugene, I could just as easily mean Portland, and vice-versa. They have seasons, you can grow anything there, and they are a crafter's paradise. I could wear socks and sweaters at least part of the year, and the farmer's market looks superb. The downside; the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, and everyone of The Boyfriend's contacts seems to be saying "there are no jobs". Sad but true.

A return to Minneapolis is on my list of definite maybes. Minneapolis is a great city, and it's also home. My family is there, they've got the biggest farmer's market I've ever been to, there's a yarn store on every corner, and miles and miles of scenic safe running paths. Unfortunately, it's not high on The Boyfriend's desirable list for one reason, and one reason only; Winter. And I suppose it's true that while I miss snow and socks and sweaters it would probably only take a Winter or two before I'd be wanting out again. Minnesota Winters are extreme. Extremely extreme. And they are why we left there in the first place (that and the job, the job that brought us to Texas, the job that doesn't exist anymore).

Santa Fe and Taos New Mexico are a fiber fiend's dreamland. When I visited there the folks seemed friendly enough. And again with the mountains, and the socks, and the sweaters, and the farmer's market. But again the job market seems weak and The Boyfriend's contacts aren't all that hopeful.

Salt Lake City, Utah has made a surprise appearance near the top of our list. It has seasons, and yarn stores, and a farmer's market. It also has mountains, and green space, and according to my BFF in Mpls., Sara, the people have a nice Midwestern sensibility and attitude. Sara also says it's clean and that I should move there and that I might just feel right at home there. I trust her. There also seems to be jobs there, and so it lingers near the top of our list.

My point is this; we're searching for a city, for a new place to call home, and while it remains a little unnerving to have so much uncertainty in my life, it has also become a little fun to speculate and research and hear what other people have to say about the cities they love.

Tell me, what city do you love? I'm searching for a city.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Pattern, Three Hats, and Handspun Yarn

I've just released a new pattern - A Trio of Wooly Toppers.

This pattern includes instructions for three stylish winter hats. The common thread running between them all is the use of handspun yarn. I've always got a plethora of mini skeins of handspun that I couldn't resist in my stash, and I designed these hats specifically from them. Each hat uses less than 50 yards of handspun worked with another worsted weight wool yarn.

Each hat is a slight variation of the others. It's like taking a great idea and playing with it to see what you can create.
Highly textured, colorful, and oh so unique, these toppers will be a much admired winter accessory for yourself, or a treasured gift for someone else.

My patterns offer clear instructions, photos, and several suggestions for yarn alternatives. This pattern is suitable for an Intermediate Beginner, you must know how to knit, purl, work in the round, decrease and increase.

The Trio of Wooly Toppers pattern is available in my Pattern Shop.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recommended Books for Felting

As promised, here are the six books I would recommend to people interested in exploring felted knits, and felt making.

Again because Leigh Radford is one of my favorite designers her book tops my list AlterKnits Felt: Imaginative Projects for Knitting & Felting

And one of my other favorite designers is Beverly Galeskas and I love her book Felted Knits It was the first book I had on felting your knits.

I love the design aesthetic of Felt Forward: Modern Designs in Knitted Felt

I recommend Felt Frenzy: 26 Projects for All Forms of Felting because it not only includes felted knits it also offers a great introduction to wet felting and needle felting.

For those who want to take their exploration of fiber and felting further I recommend Shibori Knits: The Art of Exquisite Felted Knits

And for pure inspiration I recommend Felt to Stitch: Creative Felting for Textile Artists

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recommended Books for the Brand New Knitter

I spent this morning updating the handouts I use for my knitting workshops, including the list of suggested books for my Get Your Knit On! workshop. I decided to share that list here on the blog as well. Of course this is not any where near a complete list, it is only representative of the books I recommend to the brand new knitter.

The top of the list is The Knitter's Companion: Expanded and Updated (The Companion series)
It is the perfect resource for new knitters as well as more experienced knitters, offering instruction on everything from your basic stitches to seaming. I keep my copy in my knitting bag and refer to it all the time.

I include One Skein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit or Crochet because Leigh Radford is one of my favorite designers and I would recommend any of her books. But also because the projects all require only one skein of yarn making them perfect for the new knitter - manageable and fairly simple.

I include One-Skein Wonders Again one skein means something approachable for the new knitter, plus 101 projects is a lot of projects.

I recommend Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook because of the wide variety of patterns - everything from super simple hats to great first sweaters.

I included Knitting in Plain English, Updated Edition because it's a classic, and it's funny, and in terms of helping a new knitter troubleshoot and fix things it can't be beat.

And finally I included Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time because I love the concept and the world of charity knitting can be inspiring for the new knitter.

I'm also updating the suggested reading list for my Knit This and Felt It! workshop and I'll share it with you as well, just as soon as I've finished.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The New VIP Club

I'm starting a new VIP Club. Here's how it will work:

Members will be notified via email each time I publish a new pattern. They will also be given a discount code good for 50% off its purchase.

To join all you need to do is send an email to with "sign me up" as the subject line. It's that simple.

I promise not to spam you, not share your email address with anyone else, and not to abuse you in any other way.

As an added incentive, all new members who join before Friday September 25th at 6 PM central time will receive the PDF version of either my Coy Felted Cloche or my Notorious Felted Tam pattern free. Just send an email to with "sign me up" as the subject line and specify which pattern you'd like in the body of the email.

Thanks so much!

Monday, September 14, 2009


The uncertainty in my life still looms large and I've developed a twitch in my right eye. I'm not joking. For four days now my right eye has had an intermittent twitch that is disconcerting to say the least.

As of this moment we still have no idea which city we will be living in in the coming months. I suppose that even if there is a new job in a new city it will take a few months to get moved, and so it is safe to say we will still be in Austin for Halloween. But what of Thanksgiving? And New Year's? I just can't know for sure. I wouldn't hate a white Christmas. In fact I might love it a little bit.

But the right eye is all a flutter.

Here's a taste of what's not happening; I'm not registering for either the 3M Half Marathon or the Austin Marathon. I did 3M last year and would love to do it again -- it's a great race. Austin would be new to me, and it just so happens to be on my birthday. On October 11th I will officially start my training schedule and train as if I'm running both races. But I won't register until I know for sure that I will actually be here to run.

I'm also not applying for the Cherrywood Art Festival, which I would love love love to do again -- it's a great show with good crowds. But again, I can't say for sure if I will be around to actually do the show, so I haven't applied. Just as soon as I have even the slightest indication that I'll be around I'll apply, although the deadline is fast approaching and I may miss out all together.

And I haven't sent those queries, or scheduled those workshops, or ... or... or...

And all the while the right eye twitches and sleeping for more than 5 hours in a row eludes me.

Here's what is happening; I'm knitting some. I found solace in The Urbanity Vest by Amy Swensen -- it's straightforward and uncomplicated, and round after round of stockinette leaves my mind available for worry, which is, as I have said, what I do in times like these. This is progress.

At least some of the design work has moved beyond half-baked to just not done. I've got yarn ordered for several new projects, and have made real strides on a trio of hats. Here's the teaser: one pattern, three hats, the common thread is itty-bits of hand-spun yarn.

Again, it's progress.

I read Into the Wild -- captivating enough and more difficult than third grade. I also read Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac -- a pithy, and smart little number that every knitter should read.

But the nuno felting remains untouched. And the embroidery goes slow. And the house is still really clean. And there's not a speck of laundry left to do.

And the uncertainty looms large. And my right eye has a twitch.


Friday, September 4, 2009

A Rather Ambitious Embroidery Project

Awhile back I posted about a workshop I was taking -- Artistic Embroidery -- and the project I had chosen for the class. The idea behind the class was to experiment with three different methods of printing and/or transferring an image to fabric and then using that as your pattern for embroidery.

One method of transfer we worked with involved acetone and carbon based black and white copies. I made several attempts, but was never able to get results I liked with this method. I'm pretty sure that it's the advanced technology of photocopiers to blame, but can't elaborate with any certainty on the science, so enough said.

The other two methods both involved ink-jet printing -- printing on an iron-on transfer material, and printing on fabric, either silk or cotton. These methods gave me results I loved and was enthusiastic about. The materials are relatively inexpensive and readily available, and it puts my archival ink-jet printer to good use.

I had decided to create a set of pillows with New Mexico as the theme. No real reason other than New Mexico has been on my mind a lot lately -- it was one of my most favorite vacations, and Taos Wool Festival is coming up the first weekend in October and once again I won't be attending but am wishing I was.

I used this photo for the iron-on transfer, cutting out just the niche, and applying it to a piece of linen. I have a healthy collection of vintage maps in my stash and as luck would have it I found a lovely old map of New Mexico which I printed onto the silk and attached it to another piece of linen with Wonder Under. My plan is to approach both of these pieces with a minimal amount of stitching-- maybe a stitched boarder around the niche and highlight a few details on the map with stitching.

The third piece features this photograph of the Santuario de Chimayo. I printed it on cotton and started stitching. My plan was to stitch over the image pretty extensively working to interpret the colors and textures of the image without being too literal.

I've been stitching, and stitching, and stitching. I've put a huge amount of time into the embroidery. But I don't love the results. I love the image, and the idea, and even my embroidery. But I don't love the cotton, and I wasn't sure how to approach the 8"x10" rectangle.

The other day I officially declared a do-over. Despite all the hours I have invested. The silk is just so much nicer, and Wonder Under is my new best friend. I've re-printed the image onto the silk and attached it to the linen with the Wonder Under. All that remains now is the embroidery.