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Right As Rainbow: In Which I Am Slightly Behind

18 September 2013

Those of you who check the Right As Rainbow discussion thread on Ravelry with your morning coffee will have noticed that my partner-in-crime, Catherine, has finished her cardi – and so has Rachel of Porpoise Fur. Curses! Here is where I am:

Sleeves and Hem at the JC

Sleeves and Hem at the JC: Photographed these at our favorite coffehouse in Oxford, The Jericho Cafe.

And lucky to be there, I have to say, because the last couple of weeks have just gotten away from me. All good things, but suddenly fall is so busy! Do the rest of you find the same? Part of it must be the fall season – knitting starts to look more appealing, and there’s that old back-to-school thing as well. At any rate, yesterday I spent the day at a conference for those of us interested in 18th century miscellanies (only in Oxford, right), which culminated in an evening entertainment that included a sewing lesson. If you guys are really, really good, perhaps I will show you the results of my efforts. [Note: I am not a seamstress. Results sure to be hilarious.]

But back to the knitalong. There are photos of some beautiful works-in-progress up on Ravelry, including Sally’s and ScattyParis’ –

S&C ScattyParis

ScattyParis has joined the arms and body – and she only joined us last week! There’s still time, people.

SallyWool's sleeves are gorgeous.

SallyWool and I clearly had the same idea – add a little colour to the hem and sleeves.

And over on Catherine’s blog there are photos of her FO and also some wonderful hints on both joining the arms to the body and finishing. She found herself on a Greek island (darn the luck!) with no buttons, so…she made her own with a crochet hook, some yarn, and those pesky 1¢ pieces no one likes to have weighing down their bag anyway. [Seriously, I might make all future sweater buttons this way, just to get rid of loose change.] I feel so lucky to know Catherine and get to read her blog. She is like the MacGyver of knitting, or possibly the Jeeves (so smart, so well-informed, and always has a solution to the knottiest of problems).

In sharp contradistinction (as we sometimes say in the academy), I have been kind of blundering along trying to figure out the correct way to highlight the colors of my sweater. You’ll notice that I took some liberties with the colors on the sleeve edges and in the garter stitch hem:

S&C Colors

Note the odd-sock colors on the sleeves. I *think* I like what I have done there…My photos are not as pretty as Catherine’s, but then not all of us have a Greek island as a backdrop!

Spent longer than I should have fiddling around with the color combination in the hem…and still think I could have done better. Indeed, I might just change it again…perfectionism kills, people.

I have a lot more time this week than I have had, and I am off to the Great London Yarn Crawl on Saturday (any other purple route-rs out there?), so there is plenty of time (right? right?). As inspiration, of course, I have Rachel and Catherine’s sweaters, which are both so beautiful, and show off the versatility of this pattern so well.

Catherine Finished!

Catherine Finished!

Rachel Finished!

Rachel Finished!

Knitty! Alternate Colors for the Sophia Loren Pullover

13 September 2013

Something rather incredible happened to me: I submitted a pattern to venerable knitting website Knitty, and they accepted it. The Sophia Loren pullover is inspired by a photo of Loren from the movie Woman of the River, and is knit in The Fibre Company‘s beautiful yarn Canopy Worsted.

Sophia Loren Sweater, available in Knitty's Deep Fall 2013 issue.

This pattern will appear in Silver Screen Knits: Volume II, which is coming out next spring (Volume I this fall!). But I digress.

As sometimes happens (sadly…sadly) two of the colors used to knit this sample of the sweater have been discontinued. Chicklet Tree and Cat’s Paw are no more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t knit the sweater. Here’s one combination, which I’m modeling in the D size (37.25″ bust).

Sophia Not A Model

I am not a model. But, hey, here’s the sweater! Photo by the divine Lynn Ainsworth.

This also gives me the opportunity to talk about ease in the sweater. The models who are wearing the green and yellow version are wearing it with very little ease. In the photos here, I’m wearing the blue and black sample with 1.25″ of ease. You can see that more ease gives you a slightly different look.

Cozy Sweater, Cozy Cup of Tea

Cozy Sweater, Cozy Cup of Tea. Photo by Lynn Ainsworth (still divine).

The silver lining, as it were, to these colors being discontinued is that you have lots of room to imagine other color combinations for yourself. [Did you know that more than half the people who knit a pattern do it in the color in which it’s pictured?] So now is a time to play with the beautiful colors in which Canopy is available and see what’s right for you.

I could also see this sweater knit in Wild Ginger, Laguna, and Sarsaparilla, which are highly contrasting the way that the blue/black/white sweater is:

Canopy Worsted: Wild Ginger Canopy Worsted: Laguna Canopy Worsted: Sarsparilla

Or River Dolphin, Purple Passion, and Crocus, which sort of merge into each other the way the original green/yellow/white combination does:

Canopy Worsted: River Dolphin Canopy Worsted: Purple Passion  Canopy Worsted: Crocus

What color combination might you use? Three contrasting colors, as in the black and blue version, or three that slip into each other, as in the green and yellow? Hop on into the comments and make suggestions!

Her First Mistake

7 September 2013

I blame it on the move.  I do!  It’s got to have been the move.  Just a few miles north, but still. The pressure! Moving! Boxes! Ikea!

Or maybe I’m just a little dopey.

I forgot to cast on in the border color for the Right As Rainbow baby cardi. I was probably also a little hasty in starting, because I am excited about the knitalong. You know how it is.

RAR Cast-On

What’s missing here?

Anyway, you guys will notice in this photo from Wednesday’s post that the contrasting yarn that should be at the edge of this sleeve is not there. Those of you doing the knitalong were kind enough not to mention it to me, but I eventually noticed the difference between my sleeve and, say, Catherine‘s.

As I ripped out the entire sleeve, I cheered myself by humming Lyle Lovett‘s Her First Mistake. Hey, you have your thing and I have mine. Did I tell you guys about how Mr. Trask and I went to see him at South Shore Music Circus this summer? I didn’t? You haven’t lived, people. You haven’t lived until you have seen Lyle and his band in concert on a rotating stage. But I digress.

S&C Ball

Let’s try this again…

At any rate, I could have just skipped the edging, but the contrast color looked so nice on Catherine’s sleeve. I decided on purple as the edging color, partly because it’s dark and the edges of a toddler’s sweater are bound to get dirty. I’m making slow progress:

Looking nice, right? The purple is still difficult to photograph.

Looking nice, right? The purple is still difficult to photograph.

Meanwhile, I wanted to show you a sweater I’ve been waiting for Little Miss Feisty to grow into for more than a year. Friend and former student Consuela knit it for her our of (what else?) Spud & Chloë Sweater and mailed it to us here in Oxford. I was blown away when it arrived – I always am when someone knits a gift, let alone mails it internationally, but look how cute this one is, and check out the buttons. The pattern is the Little Coffee Bean Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith of The Brown Stitch, and I am thrilled that this sweater finally fits LMF.

Lately, when I try to take her photo she has ideas of her own:

Too Early For Photos, Mommy.

Too early for photos, mommy.

Give me the camera!

But not too early for cameras. Give me the camera!

I finally had to pull in reinforcements; friend Heather took these shots of LMF and me outside a coffeeshop in our new neighborhood.

I'm walking! On the street!

I’m walking! On the street!

I still would like to have the camera.

I still would like to have the camera.

The winner of the Silver Screen Knits updates list giveaway was Claudia! There will be another giveaway for subscribers next week, but I won’t be posting about it on the blog, so do subscribe if you have any interest at all in a book about knitting and the movies (or, I suppose, in free yarn). I’ll be doing giveaways here as well, of course, but must admit I have saved some of the lusher yarns for subscribers.

Meanwhile! In her latest post, Catherine rightly warns us to pay attention to the modified pattern that Stephanie put out last week – the sleeve increases are different – so you’ll want to check your Ravelry inbox, which should have an update link. Post on the Ravelry thread, the Facebook page, or in the comments below about how your sweater is coming along. Are you still on the sleeves, like me? Or, like Catherine, are you almost ready to knit the body of the sweater?

Right As Rainbow: At Last…

4 September 2013

…the day has arrived. We’re casting on for the Right as Rainbow cardigan knitalong!

Catherine is blogging from Greece (ooh! aah!) and I am blogging from…our move. We are moving just a few miles away, but with a kitty and a one-year-old baby and perhaps a little bit too much yarn any move is kind of crazypants. Do send good vibes, won’t you?

I’ve started the first sleeve:

RAR Cast-On

Ta da! I used the long-tail cast-on, as I generally do. What did you use?

It took 10 rows for me to get 1.5 inches of ribbing. This pattern asks that we increase every fifth row until we reach a certain number of stitches, leaving up to the individual knitter what increase she uses and where she places the increase. I am using the knit-front-and-back increase, and placing it one stitch from where I joined to work in the round:

Bar Increases

Can you see the bar increases (knit front & back) in the right edge of the sleeve?

If my sense of the pattern is correct, this will put the increases under Little Miss Feisty’s arms, out of sight. You can see the increases by the little bars that appear two stitches in, every fifth round. [Indeed, sometimes kfb is referred to as the ‘bar increase.’] This makes it easy for me to know where I am in the pattern, too – I count the number of rows from the last bar to see how many I have to knit before the next increase. This also makes it easy for me to know how many total rows I have knit – I count the number of bars and multiply by five. If you need help with kfb, check out this video from or the one below:

You’ll see that I am using the magic loop method for the sleeve, rather than the DPNs that Stephanie recommends. I actually love working with DPNs, but in this case I know that I’ll be carrying this project around with me as we complete our house move over the next week. So I can’t risk losing a DPN (or breaking one, as I did last year). Magic loop it is, then, and I do enjoy it:

Now, that said, Stephanie has provided a very helpful collection of photos showing you how to join DPNs without a hitch. [I’m really impressed with the way she presents this pattern. Anyone else?]

So – which are you using, magic loop or DPNs (or even two circs)? Have you settled on your colors? Tell us all about it on the discussion thread or my Facebook page, or in the comments below.

Finally, giveaway news. The winner of the Alpaca Silk was Eva – congratulations! And don’t forget that you have until Friday to sign up for the Silver Screen Knits update list and be entered in the drawing for the Fyberspates Sparkle Silk.

Something Else: Silver Screen Knits, Volume I

3 September 2013

The Right As Rainbow knitalong begins tomorrow, and we’ve got some new kids signing up over on the Spud & Chloë discussion board. Hurrah! Catherine has blogged already this morning from her fabulous Greek vacation (check out her knitting chair!), but today I have something else to tell you guys about. Are you ready? Deep breath…

Audrey Hepburn Cardigan

The Audrey Hepburn Cardigan by Veera Välimäki, modeled by Lisa Boggs and photographed by Brandy Crist–Travers.

I’ve written a book. It’s been a couple of years in the making, between gathering designers and bringing yarn companies on board and getting the right photographer and art director as well.

Silver Screen Knits is a celebration of the glamour of classic Hollywood movies, and includes patterns inspired by movies and movie stars, introductions with notes on iconic scenes and lines from those movies, and all kinds of tidbits about film history.

Lana Turner Top

The Lana Turner Top by Kathleen Lawton-Trask, modeled by Jessica Quillin and photographed by Brandy Crist-Travers.

I feel really lucky to have gotten some incredible designers to contribute to the book: Volume I boasts patterns by Ann Weaver, Veera Välimäki, Karida Collins, and Danielle Romanetti as well as patterns by me, and Susanna I-C and Tanis Gray are among those joining us for the the crazy adventure of Volume II.

The book will be available for electronic download and paper pre-orders in a few weeks, but right now I wanted to let you know about it and tell you how you can learn more.

Meryl Streep Cardigan

The Meryl Streep Sweater, by Ann Weaver, modeled by Anna Crow and photographed by Brandy Crist-Travers.

If you’re interested in the book, I hope you’ll subscribe to the Silver Screen Knits update e-mail list. I’ve set this up so that I don’t just flood the blog with information on my book, and so I can send designer interviews and other exclusive content to people who I know are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the book. There will be outtakes from photo shoots, trivia about the movies, and advice about both knitting and wearing the garments I designed.

Because it’s me, you know there will also be some free yarn in there. I’ll be setting up stash giveaways just for subscribers to the list, to thank them for letting me into their inboxes. Indeed, the first one begins…right now.

Fyberspates Sparkle Lace

I took all kinds of photos of this yarn in different locations, trying to capture the sparkle of the stellina in there. This shot doesn’t quite make it, but Fyberspates Sparkle Lace is 75% merino, 20% silk, 5% stellina. I promise you, there’s glitz.

If you are a subscriber to the list on Friday, September 6 (noon GMT), you will be entered to win this fabulous skein of Fyberspates Sparkle Lace. This means you need to subscribe to the list before Friday at noon (and not unsubscribe until after Friday at noon!). One lucky subscriber (selected, as always, by the Random Number Generator) will win the skein of yarn, and the rest of you will have chances at other skeins in the coming weeks.

Yes, I’m bribing you to sign up to my list…but I’m hoping that the content will convince you to stay.

–> Note! Do not comment here for the giveaway! Instead, please sign up for the list!

I hope to see some of you over on the list. If you have any questions about the book or the list, don’t hesitate to contact me or to comment below. Thanks for reading!

Marilyn Monroe Sweater

The Marilyn Monroe Sweater by Kathleen Lawton-Trask, modeled by Lisa Boggs and photographed by Brandy Crist-Travers.

Right As Rainbow: The Prizes!

30 August 2013

There’s exciting news on the Right As Rainbow knitalong front: Spud & Chloë have agreed to let us tell you about the prizes. And they are lovely: patterns and yarn! Ooh aah.

PRIZE ONE. For casting on – if you cast on and create a project page tagged with “rar-knitalong” on Ravelry, you will be entered in the drawing for this prize. The randomly-selected winner will receive their choice of either the Buga Baby Bunting pattern or the Leaf Blanket pattern, PLUS yarn in the color of their choosing to knit the pattern.

Buga Baby Bunting

Buga Baby Bunting: So Cute! Look at the ears!

Leaf Blanket

Leaf Blanket: Yawning baby not included.

PRIZE TWO. For finishing – each sweater you knit earns you one entry into this prize drawing (knit five sweaters, get five chances to win). This lucky winner will receive their choice of the Lucky Number Pullover or the Lovey Dovey Top pattern, with yarn to knit the pattern in colors they choose.

Lovey Dovey Top

Lovey Dovey Top: Can be a dress when she’s small and a top as she grows.

Lucky Number Pullover

Lucky Number Pullover: Enough to make me learn intarsia. You?

PRIZE THREE. For creativity – selected by the designer of the Right As Rainbow Baby Cardigan, Stephanie Lotven. This creative genius will receive the pattern for Cat’s Pajamas, a stuffed cat with a pocket in its back for PJs or other doodads, with yarn to knit the cat, again in colors they choose. This is an adorable pattern in Spud & Chloë Sweater, and I really want to knit it next for Little Miss Feisty. Maybe whoever wins will join me!

Cat's Pajamas: Stripes!

Cat’s Pajamas: Stripes!

Cat's Pajamas: Pocket

Cat’s Pajamas: Pocket

Remember the rules:

1. We cast on Sept. 4 – this coming Wednesday! You can start after that, of course, but please don’t cast on before. [Gauge swatches don’t count.]

2. You must create a Ravelry project page and tag it “rar-knitalong” for us to be able to find you and enter you into the prize categories. [I’ve given instructions on tagging here.] We’d love it if you’d also include the pattern and yarn information on your project page.

3. The last day to create and update your project pages will be Sept. 25 – so if, for example, you would like to be entered in category 2, you will need to have your sweater(s) finished, and your project page updated to indicate that fact, by Sept. 25.

4. To be eligible for the prizes, you must include one (1) color of Spud & Chloë Sweater in your sweater. Please join the knitalong even if you don’t use the yarn – we want to hear both your yarn and color ideas and your technical questions! But since S&C are sponsoring the prizes, we have to take care of them. 🙂

Meanwhile, yesterday Catherine received the yarn I sent her, and (like me) she is mulling which colors will look best in her cardi. What do you think? I may post some photos of different color combinations here on Monday, just to complicate my decision making process further.

Don’t forget that I’m giving away three skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk on Monday – comment on this post before then to be entered to win. I do love to give away yarn. It just feels right.

Do you have any questions about the knitalong, or the Right As Rainbow pattern? Pop on over to the Ravelry thread and let us know – or put them in the comments below, on the KLYMI Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Right As Rainbow Knitalong: Tagging Your Project

29 August 2013

Cast-On Day for the Right As Rainbow knitalong is still a week away (Sept. 4; mark your calendars!) and Catherine has updated us on her progress in the gauge arena. She even shows us some pretty striped swatches. Ooh! Aah!

More S&C Sweater Swatches.

More S&C Sweater Swatches, these labeled with handy-dandy tags. What do you all think of the radiator as backdrop? Nicely neutral, or boring?

I finally got gauge on US 4s (3.5mm), which is two sizes smaller than called for in the pattern. I was miserable as I cast on for the swatch on 4s; I thought the material would end up being too dense. But instead it’s still drapey and lovely, AND I have finally gotten the correct gauge. Victory!

If you’re joining us, please do pop over to the knitalong thread on the Spud & Chloë Ravelry board, or post on the Knit Like You Mean It Facebook page, or in the comments section here. Catherine and I are really excited about getting to know all of you.

I received a beautiful package of lengths of yarn for my stripes from Catherine today. You’ll see that she actually sent me a length of yarn in a color I already had, due to a miscommunication…but I will use it anyway. I’m thinking of repeating the green in the stripes (since I don’t have seven colors). We shall see… I would love to hear your opinions. The very dark yarn in the middle is actually purple (grape jelly).

Pretty S&C Colors

Possible colors for my Right as Rainbow cardigan. Some, or all? Which?

A question has come up: should your Ravelry project be tagged? Yes, please do tag your projects on Ravelry, with tag “rar-knitalong.” To tag, go to your project, click “edit,” and the tags field appears right under the “size” and “craft” fields. Please also fill out the “pattern” and “yarn” fields, so we can see the different yarns and colors we are all using.

The happy winner of the brown Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn is (drumroll please) Andrea. And I forgot to announce that Lisa won the lovely green yarn from a few weeks ago. All of the mini skeins are on their way to those who volunteered to yarn-bomb, as well. I’m ooking forward to hearing what happens to all that fiber!

Last but not least, another stash giveaway. Comment on this post by Monday, Sept. 2 at noon GMT for a chance to win these three skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas alpaca silk:

Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk

Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk: It could be yours!

So tell me what you’d do with the color options I have. Which would you definitely use (other than the green, which I must use)? Which would you leave out?

Right As Rainbow: Choosing a Size (and a giveaway)

26 August 2013

The Right As Rainbow knitalong continues, and I have now knit my fourth gauge swatch:


My gauge was larger than I would have expected in the teal blue yarn, so I decided to knit a swatch in the green that I actually will be using for the body of the cardi, and without the eyelets I was using in the last swatches to indicate needle size. Just, you know, in case either of those things might make a difference. I may be losing perspective here.


While I am feeling unenthused about swatching this morning, this photo does give me an opportunity to talk about the Susan Bates Knit-Chek, one of my favorite knitting tools. It seems to go into and out of favor (and stock) over the years, but for my money it’s an easy way to count stitches. It gives you a 2-inch (5cm) space both horizontally and vertically in which you can count stitches and rows. [For those new to gauge swatching, each V is one knit stitch in stockinette. I tend to follow the little vees with the tip of a needle while counting, because otherwise my eye jumps around and I count incorrectly.]

Gauge Woes!

You’ll see from the swatch above that I am still at 4.5 stitches per inch, rather than 5. So I am in the middle of yet another gauge swatch. Some days, I tell myself that I will sew all of my swatches together into blankets, and that helps keep me from lying on the floor and weeping.


Meanwhile, as a distraction, I measured Little Miss Feisty for her sweater:

Alex with Tape Measure

Warning: your baby may well wish to play with your tape measure. Who knew?!?

The designer helpfully gives three measurements for her sweater: a chest measurement, the body length, and the sleeve length from cuff to underarm. So rather than looking at the size that’s given (and I personally find that Little Miss Feisty eschews traditional sizing, much as she does so much about modern life), you can measure your little one and be sure your sweater fits.

In our case, LMF’s chest circumference is 21 inches, so I’ll be making the largest-but-one size (18 months), which has a chest measurement of 23 inches. This gives some ease for her to move around in the sweater, and room for her to wear a t-shirt or onesie underneath it. [Both body length and sleeve length can be adjusted in this pattern, so the chest is the one to pay attention to here.]

Remember that all you have to do to be entered to win one of the Spud & Chloë prizes is use S&C Sweater for one of your colors (of seven)! Hop over to Catherine’s blog to see her progress, or join us on Ravelry or Facebook.

An Interim Prize!

The Spud & Chloë prizes are still under wraps (ooh…aah…the mystery!), but I have a little giveaway for you all today. You may recall that Catherine and I are swapping some Sweater so that we each have enough colors for the stripes. [You can find a pal on our Ravelry discussion and do the same, if you like.]

This means that I am not going to use the brown skein that you see in this photo:

S&C Sweater

S&C Sweater: Win the brown yarn!

Which means I am offering it to you kind people. Just leave a comment on this post by noon GMT on August 28 (Wednesday) and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win the brown yarn. I use the Random Number Generator to select people; other information is on my stash giveaway page.

So! If you were to knit this sweater, what yarn would you use? What colors would you choose? And do you have any advice on choosing the right size in a pattern? Tell us all about it, in the comments.

Exciting Knitalong Update: Spud & Chloë!

23 August 2013

The Right As Rainbow Knitalong! Thank you to all of you who have written me about this – it seems like we have a good core group, and I have some exciting news that I hope will please you as much as it pleases me. [And thank you for your patience this week, as we worked out that exciting news.]

Right as Rainbow Prizes

Prizes! [Photo courtesy and © Tellybean Knits.]

Spud & Chloë have offered to help out with our knitalong by hosting discussion of it in their Ravelry group and…giving us prizes! This means two things:

1. Ravelry Forum! If you have any questions about the pattern, or want to connect with other people who are making the cardigan (or even want to find out about the modifications some people are making), you can pop over to the S&C group and chit-chat with all of us there.

2. Prizes! The chance to get something because you knit. What’s not to love? S&C have asked us to keep them a secret for now, but rest assured that they are real.

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

Without further ado, the prize categories…

I. Starters! The first category is for anyone who starts the sweater. Just cast on and create a project page by Wednesday, Sept. 25 and you’re entered to win. This category is near and dear to my heart, since I am sometimes a starter-not-finisher. One lucky starter will be chosen at random to receive a spiffy Spud & Chloë prize (details on prizes next week).

II. Finishers! anyone who finishes a sweater and posts it (tagged, etc.) by Wednesday, Sept. 25 will be entered into a drawing for this prize. Easy peasy: finish a sweater, let us know about it, and you’re entered to win. The more sweaters you finish by the deadline, the more entries you will have in the drawing. Knit five sweaters, get five entries.

III. Creatives! This category will reward creativity in all areas of the knitting: yarn choice, modifications, etc. and it will be judged by the designer herself, Stephanie Lotven.

The Fine Print (which we have put in regular-sized print to facilitate your reading of it):

1. In order to be eligible for one of the prizes, your cardigan should use at least one color of Spud & Chloe Sweater. This doesn’t mean you have to knit in S&C to be part of the knitalong – please join in the discussion no matter what. But, if you would like to be entered in any (or all) of the three categories, one of your yarns must be Sweater.

2. We also need to know about your project. No hiding your light under a bushel! We can’t enter you if we don’t know you’re knitting. So to be eligible you must create a project on Ravelry (check out the handy-dandy Rav tour if you need help), link to the pattern Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan and your yarn (including the Spud & Chloe Sweater you’re using), and mention the knitalong in your project notes.

Again, though, those rules are just to be entered to win the prizes – not to participate in the knitalong. So I hope all of you will keep posting about what you’re knitting and how it’s coming along.

The knitalong will begin on Sept. 4. The last day to post projects to enter the giveaway is will be Sept. 25.

S&C Sweater: Green, Brown, Cream

S&C Sweater: Green, Brown, Cream

Me, I’m still swatching. Catherine has ordered some Sweater from Mrs. Moon in Twickenham and we’re doing an exchange: some of my teal, light blue, and cream yarn for some of the yarn she’s ordered. If you’re thinking of doing the pattern but need more colors, consider collaborating with a friend. Above are the colors I have so far.

Can’t wait to see what Catherine sends me in the mail!

So, how are your swatches coming along? What colors have you chosen? Here are Joanna’s colors:

Joanna's Frogtree

Joanna’s Yarn for the knitalong – Frog Tree Pediboo in gorgeous muted colors.

In her post on the KLYMI Facebook page, Joanna says they are “the colors I see from my bedroom window – trees and sky.” Lovely!

Won’t you pop over to Facebook or Ravelry and share your colors?

…Like You Mean It: On Exploration

15 August 2013

A brief interlude. If you’re looking for the Right As Rainbow Knitalong, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, look for updates on Catherine’s blog, and pop over here tomorrow for more news. And do comment on the latest yarn giveaway, which ends at midnight GMT tonight.

Do you all know Tara? She’s the genius behind The Starship Adventure, a community for creative types who also own businesses. I’m not a member of The Starship, but I find what she’s done pretty inspiring. She’s figured out the sweet spot between what she likes to do and what people like to pay her to do, and made it into a business. And it just so happens that part of that is giving advice to other creative businesspeople. She’s helped a lot of folks in the yarn world through her book and the resources on her website, and I find myself referring friends there a lot. In particular, she has a free five-part mini-course, How to Be an Explorer, that I found both inspiring and practical.

Exploration Party Banner

Exploration Party Banner courtesy and copyright Tara Swiger.

This week, Tara is encouraging people (Anyone! This means you!) to talk about exploration: how it has worked in your creative life, what you are exploring now, etc. She’s already shared some of the posts that have come out of her Exploration Party, and they are pretty cool. Some people are writing about their experience

It got me thinking about how this blog became what it is today, and what the last few years have been like.

You all know that my mother passed away suddenly in late 2007. I won’t go into the details here, because goodness knows you all read enough of that when I write directly about Jane Lawton, but suffice to say she was a good, kind, friendly, hilarious, smart woman, and she died unexpectedly and way too soon.

Jane and Plane

Ready for flight! Mom’s the looker in the middle, with fellow staffers from Speaker Albert‘s office. I do wish I knew the story behind this picture.

I’ve written before about how I got braver after Mom’s death, and I don’t want to belabor the death motif, because, heck, this is a knitting blog. So I’m mostly going to write about what Tara asked about: exploring.

One consolation about my mother’s life was and is that she was happy at the time she died. She was fulfilled in her career and her life. I started to think about what would fulfill me, and in the next few years a lot of changes slotted into place. When my mother died, I had been relatively successful in a fairly safe career for about 8 years. Today, almost six years later, I am studying and living in a different country with Mr. Trask, Little Miss Feisty, and the long-suffering cat.

Gertrude Escaping

Gertrude contemplates a leap out a second-floor window. Sometimes it’s good to get outside opinions on our plans.

What changed? I got a lot more open about what I tried. I listened to other people’s ideas about what might work. I took advice, and then I basically just threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and waited to see what would stick. I changed what I did at work; I tried my hand at teaching knitting; I let myself really be an obsessed knitter. Danielle and Karida were really encouraging; I hadn’t realized until I met them that it was great to like to knit: that it was, in fact, great. I also applied to a master’s program in English Lit and then (two years after starting that) to a doctoral program, which is how we ended up here in Oxford. And I went through some false starts, which taught me what I am and am not good at / meant to do.

Corinne plus Pink

My knitting bag for our first flight to England, two years ago.

There’s an argument to be made that I wasn’t very sensible, or very adult. But I did what I did with a financial buffer and with a bit of a plan. Four years passed between Mom’s death and Mr. Trask and me getting on the plane to England. I got there by trying something new, seeing how it worked out, and assessing it to decide what to do next. A lot of that was instinct (and/or blind luck). Often, I just did what seemed to be the next right thing.

I am still in flux, still working out what the right path is. But then I suspect we’re all doing that, even people who seem to have it all together. We’re all works in progress, right? I guess my point is that I remembered about risk-taking after I lost my mother. Somewhere in my 20s I lost it, probably in that transition we all make from teenager to adult. But adults need to take risks, too, and I’m glad I started doing that.

Little Miss Feisty Walking

Little Miss Feisty is definitely a risk-taker.

The next phase of my life is still going to involve change and growth and surprises. With a baby and some serious deadlines coming up, I think the changes I make will me more intentional, less haphazard than the ones I made before (fingers crossed). I think I’m honing in on the career that is right for me; I just need to keep stepping out in faith, moment by moment. It’s exciting, it’s risky, it’s scary. But, hey, what else are you going to do, right?

What would you explore, if you had world enough and time? What would you change about your life?