New Post at CreativeLive

I was pretty chuffed to be asked by the folks at CreativeLive to write about how posting about our trip on social media has affected my feeling of online community (hint: it’s been pretty amazing to connect with people about something so different from the usual).  (I don’t think you can comment on the CreativeLive blog (or maybe I can’t see comments on my phone), so let me know over here what you think about such things, eh?)

Werkers on the Road: Dispatch the Second

I can’t believe we’re already over two weeks into our trip. This past week has been a whirlwind of theme parks and family visits (and also having to replace the brakes on our truck and the door handle on the trailer), and now the whirlwind is over and we’re heading back on the road, camping in our wee trailer for the next few weeks. National Parks, here we come! 

duct tape wallet

Before we left San Francisco, my ten- and thirteen-year-old cousins taught us how to make duct tape wallets. I can’t wait to make more!

  

On our meanderinf drive down the California coast, we loved stopping to see the elephant seals.

  

This display at Legolamd was thematically appropriate, don’t you think?

  

I was so excited to take this photo with my Instax camera that i didn’t even think to take a digital one.

  

We went to Disneyland California Adventure in epic rain. YOWZA.

  

And we went to Disneyland in gorgeous weather. Phew.

  

We’ve discovered that Owen is a total thrill-seeker! This is what four rollercoaster rides and three times on Splash Mountain looks like.

I don’t know when I’ll have reliable wifi again, so I have no idea when I’ll be able to post my next dispatch. Follow along on Instagram for quicker updates when I have cell service!

My New Craftsy Class is Live! Learn More Crochet with Me!

class image

Teaching at Craftsy has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my crochet career, and I’m so excited that my second class is now live!

It’s called Next Steps in Crochet, and it builds directly on my first Craftsy class, which is a straight-up introduction to crochet for beginners. So this is pretty much an advanced-beginner class. In it, I’ll teach you how to build on your basic crochet skills to make classic fabrics like shells and ripples (AKA chevrons or zigzags), textured fabrics like bobbles and popcorns, and I introduce the basic concepts behind cables and lace, including how to make post stitches and why math is important (and not scary). I also spend a fair bit of time outlining how sweaters are constructed, so you’ll feel comfortable and confident choosing your first sweater pattern to follow, and making it amazing. Along those lines, I also cover basic seaming and edging, how to make buttonholes, and how to block your projects.

image of crochet swatches

If you know how to make a few crochet stitches and are ready to tackle more, this is the class for you. And since we cover so much, it can serve as a great source of information you can refer to again and again as you do different kinds of projects.

image of crochet baby sweater

Included with the class is a pattern for a very simple baby sweater in one size, which is used mostly for instruction but would also make a totally adorable sweater for a baby about three months old.

If you aren’t familiar with Craftsy, it’s a fabulous platform for learning new skills. Students can ask questions at any time, and instructors (and other students) answer. I love chatting with my students, and I love that with all Craftsy classes, you get access to your instructor on an ongoing basis. You can easily share photos to show what you’re having trouble with, and to show off your successes. You can slow down or speed up the video to your taste, and set a 30-second segment to repeat over and over again while you practice a particular technique.

All the links in this post are for half-off the class price. I hope to see you there!

 

Werkers on the Road: Dispatch the First

If you get my weekly digest, you know we’ve made it to San Francisco, the first major stop on what we’ve been calling our Superlong Camping Trip (where a “major stop” is defined as somewhere we sleep for three nights). Contrary to every trVel experience I’ve ever had, this trip has been both exciting and relaxing, tiring and invigorating all at once, with almost no bickering. It’s kind of been magical so far, really.

Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to since we left home last Sunday:

 

quilt

Here’s the one photo i have of the quilt i made for the camper trailer. It’s my first completed machine-quilted quilt!

 

vintage caravan camping setup

Our first night camping, just south of Portland in Champoeg State Park. if you have a chance to camp here, take it!

 

Make It Mighty Ugly at Powell's Books

Owen found a copy of my book at Powell’s. <3

 

Spruce Goose

Driving to the coast from Portland, we stumbled upon the (absolutely amazing, must-see) Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. This is the ACTUAL Spruce Goose!

 

Atop the Oregon Sand Dunes

When inposted this photo on Instagram, more than one person made a comment involving Tatooine. Totally appropriate!

 

Redwoods

The Redwoods are humbling and awesome.

Cabe car

And here we are in San Francisco, riding a cable car. After visiting family till Sunday, we’ll start making our way further down the coast!

 

Quirks of Our Creative Minds

If I hadn’t spent most of my life denying myself the feeling and pursuit of creativity, I’d have understood myself in a way that would have allowed me to flourish when instead I floundered.

What I mean is, I found this through Meighan O’Toole, and it (mostly) fits, in very helpful ways.

Of course, I know and accept all my quirks now, so I no longer try to force myself to be a round peg instead of a square one.

But it’s a good reminder to just accept who we are and what we need, yeah? And to let others know we’re legit in how we operate.

A Happy Review, and a Chance to Win Make It Mighty Ugly

cover of Make It Mighty Ugly, by Kim WerkerThis book review by Rachel over at Adventures in Making totally made my day.

Reading Make It Might Ugly was such a comfort, learning that I’m not alone in combating creative demons. Until I read Kim’s book, I never really considered that there are ways of ‘making friends’ with and overcoming them either. I had just accepted that they were there to stay, sitting in the shadows of my brain, haunting me.

The biggest thing I learned from Make It Mighty Ugly is that you CAN quiet those mean voices inside your head. You know the ones, telling you how stupid you are and that your creative ambitions will never amount to anything. Creative demons don’t have to rule over you. We all have the ability to tell them to sit down and SHUT UP. All you need is the courage to acknowledge them and with the help of Make It Mighty Ugly you can face them head on. And the next time they start to chime in with their ugly negativity, you’ll be ready to take them down in a constructive, and creative way.

And while we’re on about the book, Stefanie over at Craft Gossip is giving away a copy (to someone in the U.S. or Canada). Enter by April 30th!

 

Shop Closing Tuesday (Back Open Mid-Summer)

In preparation for the road trip, I’ll be closing my shop (also Etsy) for anything but digital sales on Tuesday, April 28th. So if you’ve been wanting to buy a signed book or bookplate, now’s the time to do it! I’ll reopen the shops sometime in later June or early July, once we’ve settled back in at home.

(The Year of Making ebook will remain available in both shops, since those purchases are fulfilled automatically. Technology!)

Finishing Touches (a Bit of Productive Procrastination)

When I was preparing to release the Year of Making ebook last December, I realized I needed to use a different WordPress template because the one I’d been using didn’t have native support for the shop plugin I’d decided to use. So I did a bit of a redesign on the site.

“Bit” being the operative word, because what with the ebook prep, setting up the shop, and all the rest, I never actually managed to finish the redesign.

Until now. What better time to fiddle with one’s website than when one has too many tasks to complete to get ready for a six-week road trip, right?

So. You’ll see a new header up there at the top of the page (you’ll see a very similar one in my Friday newsletter, and on the Facebook group I started yesterday [more on that soon!]. And I finally made the font size big enough to, you know, actually read. I fixed a few CSS problems, too.

Do you do this? Have a daunting pile of work in front of you, only to divert your attention entirely to do something almost utterly unrelated? Productive procrastination is what I called it in Make It Mighty Ugly, I think.

Crocheted Rag Rug (and How to Crochet a Perfect Circle)

By far the most straightforward project I’m making to outfit the camper for our road trip is a crocheted rag rug. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages, and am glad I finally committed to making one for the very small amount of floor space we have in our tiny home on wheels.

First thing I did was wing it without either a) measuring the space I need to fill, nor b) redoing the problematic parts of the rug once I realized it looked funny.

So I’m calling it a useful experiment, and we’ll use this small rug outside the door to collect mud and dirt when we take our shoes off before going inside.

crocheted oval rag rug photo

Problematic things? First (this is for the crochet nerds), I started the rug with a row of foundation single crochet rather than a chain, because I wanted the very centre to have as much thickness and heft as the rest of the rug. But when I actually stopped to look at the thing, I was not pleased with how there’s that one lone loop of each stitch hanging out at the centre. But did I rip it back? Oh no. Like the not-perfectionist I am, I soldiered on.

And as I soldiered on, I increased around the ends of the oval at very regular intervals. Like you do.

But, (again for the crochet nerds), as you know, when you increase at regular intervals whilst crocheting in the round, you don’t actually produce a circle; you produce a straight-sided shape with the same number of sides as stitches you began with in the first round (like this). (For example, if you started with six stitches, you’d eventually end up with a hexagon, not really a circle; with eight stitches, an octagon.)

In yarn as thick as that made from cut-up t-shirts, the increasing at regular intervals bit in an oval-shaped rug did not make me happy.

So, you know. Eventually I went out to the camper and measured the floor, so I’d know how big I should make the next oval-shaped rug.

And you know what I discovered? That wee patch of floor is 36″ x 40″. So, uh, what I actually need is a circle rug.

Well. So much for prototyping for a project that’s actually less finicky than I’d anticipated.

So this is what the inside rug looks like, about 3/4 of the way to a diameter of about 34″:

circle rag rug photo

You may notice that it’s not a straight-sided shape pretending to be a circle. That’s because I’ve spread my increases out instead of lining them up one on top of the last. I’ve gotten some questions about how to do this in my Craftsy class, so I figured I’d write it out in a bit more detail:

How to Crochet a Perfect Circle

To crochet a proper circle that doesn’t have corners where the increases pile up, vary the number of stitches you make at the beginning of the round before you make your first increase. Once you’ve made your first increase at a different point than the first increase of the previous round, continue to crochet the round by counting as you need to to space the rest of the increases evenly. Perhaps that’ll be clearer with an example.

Say I started with six stitches in my first round, so need to increase six times evenly spaced on every subsequent round. It would look something like this:

Round 1: 6 sc.
Round 2: [2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 3: [Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 4: [Sc in each of next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 5: [Sc in each of next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.

This is the formula that ends up stacking the increases one on top of the others, resulting in a hexagon rather than a true circle.

To stagger your stitches to achieve perfect roundness, try something like:

Round 1: 6 sc.
Round 2: [2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 3: [Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch] 6 times.
Round 4: Sc in next stitch, 2 sc in next stitch, sc in next stitch, [sc in each of next 2 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 5 times, sc in last stitch.
Round 5: 2 sc in first stitch, [sc in each of next 3 stitches, 2 sc in next stitch] 5 times, sc to end of round.

You can see that the formula is the same, it’s just that starting with Round 4, I began to offset the placement of the increases so they don’t all pile up. Note that in Round 5, I didn’t just continue the pattern I set up in Round 4; instead, I made sure the increases were offset from where they were placed in the fourth round. You’d just continue in this manner, increasing evenly around each round, but with the placement of the increases staggered.

Crocheted Rag Rug Resources

I’ve gotten loads of comments from people expressing interest in crocheting their own rag rug, so here are some great resources: Cal Patch teaches a super Creativebug class on how to crochet rag rugs, including lessons on circle rugs and also oval ones. I used this tutorial for how to make yarn from old t-shirts.

If you’ve crocheted a rag rug, share a photo in the comments! If you want to, let me know if you have any questions!

Adventure in Self-Publishing: Lithuanian Knitting

Lithuanian Knitting book cover

The most ambitious book I’ve had the pleasure of editing is, hands down, Donna Druchunas’s and June Hall’s Lithuanian Knitting. Born of a mutual fascination with and personal dedication to the knitting traditions of this Eastern European country, the book is equal parts memoir, historical overview, and celebration of folk craft, and of course it contains a trove of knitting patterns and technique-related information.

In addition to releasing an ebook version, as per the usual self-publishing path, Donna and June want to have a hard-cover version printed in Lithuania, to support the local economy of the place so dear to them. To accomplish that expensive goal, they’ve recently launched a Pubslush crowdfunding campaign.

It’s such an unusual decision – to have a book printed in a faraway place not known globally for printing (like China is), and to crowdfund a book (which has certainly been done before, and after all it’s what Pubslush is entirely dedicated to, but it’s still not common practice) – that I asked Donna if she’d answer some questions about it. Here’s what she had to say:

KPW: First, tell me a little bit about the book.

DC: Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is a travel-memoir-history-knitting book! Together with my co-author June Hall, I’ve created a book that tells our stories of traveling around the country were some of our ancestors were born learning about the people and culture all through knitting. We both have been to Lithuania many times and over the years have made many friends who have helped us find amazing information about traditional and contemporary knitting, textiles, sheep, wool, and folk art. It’s been the experience of a lifetime working on this project. Along with all of the stories, there are 25 projects to knit, including mittens, gloves, wrist warmers, and socks.

Why did you decide to use Pubslush instead of self-publishing in a more traditional manner (print-on-demand, etc.)?

I’m publishing this book in partnership with Double Vision Press (Anne Berk) and will be having the book printed in Lithuania with the funds from Pubslush. Pubslush is simply a crowdfunding tool like Kickstarter, but it’s only for books! I don’t use print-on-demand because for the various options available either a) I don’t like the quality or b) the cost per book is too high. By working with a regular book printer, I can keep costs down per book and get the best possible quality. I am having this book printed in Lithuania with a very Eastern European style of design, and cover. Our art director is also in Lithuania.

What’s your experience with Pubslush been like? Do you find the platform easy to use? How are people responding to the campaign?

It’s great. The folks at Pubslush are so helpful and I’ve had a great response to the campaign so far. It’s only just started today and I’m thrilled by the early contributions and feedback in the comments.

I know the campaign has only just launched, but do you think you’ll use Pubslush again? Is it better suited to certain kinds of projects over others? Would you recommend it? And if you would, to whom?

I’m not sure. I mean, I would definitely recommend Pubslush. But the books I’m working on right now for the future are either with a publisher or they’re part of my Stories In Stitches series, which has a different cycle. If I ever did another big self-published book, I would definitely go with Pubslush for my launch.

I learned so much editing this book. Whether you’re already interested in Lithuania or Lithuanian knitting or not, I think you’ll enjoy it too. Check it out!