Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sad News About Yarn Forward

Well, this is a bummer, especially after my previous post about how satisfied I am with my digital subscription to Yarn Forward: they just announced that the company who operated the digital version has suddenly and unexpectedly gone out of business. :( A disappointment, to be sure. Because the subscriptions are paid by the issue, no one is out any money, but I had really been enjoying the convenience, the price, and the paperless-ness of the digital version.

If they find another solution to the situation, I'll pass along the information. In the meantime, I suppose I'll buy the hard copies so I won't miss an issue. Thankfully, their most current issue just came out last week, so it will be several weeks before the next one.

And in answer to a couple of comments on my review:

The link to the Eden Shawl does work, but the shawl is not labeled in the picture. It is the first image shown after you scroll down below the cover shot.

My digital subscription began with Issue 13, and ended with Issue 14, which is the current issue on newsstands. I purchased Issue 11 (with the Callie Bib Tee pattern) off of eBay from this seller. I received it from the UK in less than two weeks, and in perfect condition (and paid less than I would have if I purchased it here in the States!). They have more copies, if anyone else is interested.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yarn Forward Review

As promised, here is a review of my recent digital subscription to Yarn Forward magazine. I received my first issue immediately upon signing up and downloading the special reader software. I have to say that I am very happy with the magazine overall and I would definitely recommend at least looking through the project previews for the type of projects they have.

The magazine has all the typical things you would expect: articles about techniques, events, and people in the fibery world, book reviews, advertorials, etc. Because it is a UK publication, the articles and ads concentrate on that region (as can be expected). They are not of much immediate use to me, but it is still quite interesting. They did a two-part (so far) article about formal knitwear/design education opportunities in the UK that was quite interesting. They also seem to do an article in every issue which highlights the fiber climate in other parts of the world. In the issues I have so far (13 and 14), they wrote about recycled silk yarn from India, and about knitting in Prague. Each of these articles has a handy sidebar with information on key terms from the article, key words and phrases, and even local yarn shops! It's pretty neat to see the different facets of knitting around the world.

In addition to all their articles, there are also the patterns, of course! There are 13 in each issue, primarily women's tops, but also one guy's sweater, one children's article, and a couple of accessories in each issue. My favorite projects so far are Niamh and the Eden Shawl (scroll down: it's the first image below the cover...kinda scarf-like) from Issue 13, and Morning Echo and Siena from Issue 14. I almost cast on for the Eden Shawl (they call it a "scarfwrap"...I thought that was cute) right away because I have some Malabrigo lace in my stash that has been looking for a project, but decided to use it for something else instead. I don't even know what attracts me to it: it's a reaaaaaaally long lace scarfwrap with the ends grafted together so it forms one giant loop. It's just...completely impractical (in San Diego) and would be a snooze to knit, but...it's one giant, removable cowl and who doesn't love that! They even seem to be doing some kind of mystery KAL, revealing new clues in each issue. As far as I can tell, though, it's just going to end up being a giant block afghan with different stitch patterns and colors. Hmmm...not for me.

They do something cool with the patterns though: every one has a size and yarn guide chart in both centimeters and inches, in which they lay out the bust size it is intended to fit, the actual size of the garment for each size, and the length of each garment. It's the same thing as a schematic, but in an easy-to-read table. And yes, they do have schematics too. They also include a chart that shows how much yarn the pattern will take for each size. For instance, if two sizes both call for 8 balls of Rowan Silk Wool DK, they will tell you that the smaller size takes 790 yards, and the larger size takes 870 yards. LOVE THAT! It makes it so much easier to substitute yarns! Another thing I really like is that they give you three yarn alternatives for each pattern, in three different price points: Save, Spend, and Spoil Yourself. I think that is so flipping cool!

I was a little disappointed with the photography because they didn't have many angles available, at least in Issue 13. They seem to be doing better in Issue 14 by showing the back of sweaters, detail close-ups, etc. But overall the photography is very good and of the quality you would expect of a professional publication.

Some good points about the digital version: the table of contents is linked to the page you're looking for, so there is no need to scroll through to find what you want. (Hmmm...except that the scarfwrap isn't even listed in the contents.) Any website mentioned inside the magazine is linked too, including the little "advertorials".

Some downsides: It is very difficult to size the reader to make it easy to read. It seems to have two settings: one so small you need a magnifying glass, and the other so large you have to scroll up and down and over just to read one page. I did manage to find an in-between setting, but then it doesn't let you shrink it back down. Also, the pages can be a little sluggish to turn at times, but that is expected with any digital publication.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the magazine. I only wish I had started subscribing earlier. I did end up ordering Issue 11 off of eBay because I like the Callie Bib Tee so much and I didn't bother to snag it while it was still in stores.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Impressions

Whew! What a whirlwind couple of weeks! Shortly after my last post, I finished up one of the secret projects I have been working on and sent it off to its new home. It was a sample sweater done on behalf of a designer, for publication later this year. I don't know a better way to say it, but I was just tickled to have the opportunity! I'll let you know when it comes out.

My other, larger, secret project is still on the go and still taking up SO. MUCH. TIME. But it's good and fun (and a little nerve-wracking) and I'm learning a lot. Hopefully I can reveal more about this in the next month or so.

These two projects (and a few days of migraine-ish headaches) have sort of slowed down my personal knitting time. Ironically, I was able to distract myself from my headaches by working on very complex lace. I know, right! (Dear god, I am officially a Californian. I just wrote out "I know, right!" Shoot me now.) ... (Not that being a Californian is a bad thing. But I try to maintain a level of dignity and sophistication, and uttering things like "I know, right!" or "That's the way I roll" - which you may remember was the phrase I chose to use at a job interview last spring to impress upon the interviewers my ability to handle complex emergency situations - kind of thwarts any attempt to convince people of these aspects.) ... (Come to think of it, I do A LOT of things that make me look like a fool. In the past two days I have: tripped on a sidewalk because I was looking at a tree instead of the ground in front of me, and only saved myself from a very public face plant by grabbing onto a picket fence for dear life; rolled over my own toe with the office chair I was sitting on at the time, and managed to get said toe jammed up in the wheel well; discovered, as I was getting ready for bed last night, that I had been wearing my underwear inside out all day without realizing it. Oh, and I guess now you can add "publicly shared my embarrassments to anyone with internet access" to that list.)

But I was talking about lace, right? Behold, my latest project: Laminaria. I'm only two rows away from the bind off. I'm going to miss this knit once I'm done! I wasn't expecting it to be quite so complex, but I can honestly say that it is the most complicated thing I have ever knitted. That's not to say that it was hard, but it definitely required concentration. I tried not to watch movies while working on it, and listened to podcasts instead. And speaking of podcasts, why has no one ever recommended Craft Lit to me?!? I know, I have no one to blame but myself. Craft Lit is one of those names that I hear all the time but for some reason never bothered to check out. Well I'm glad I finally woke up! I love it! In case there is a reader out there who is not familiar with Craft Lit: it is a podcast created by a former English teacher named Heather Ordover. She talks about knitting and crafting and so on, but then also plays a few chapters each episode of a book from LibriVox. She gives wonderful background on the authors and the settings and it is all so lovely and professional and I am so excited that I have 131 episodes to listen to! I know, obsess much?

Well, this post was supposed to be a review of Yarn Forward but it looks like I got off-track (was I ever on the track?). Next time, I promise!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Guess What I Did Yesterday???

I finally got the last few rows of Little Birds finished, and I steeked it! I didn't bother to secure the stitches first...I was feeling lazy. And anyway, this yarn (Jamison's Shetland Spindrift) is like knitting with velcro. Those stitches aren't going anywhere!

I seamed the shoulders shut, and now all I have to do is six rows of garter stitch around the edges for the border. And hide those ends. Oh yeah, and buttons. I'm really bad about buttons. This sweater may never get finished. :-P

I also finally broke down and ordered a digital subscription to Yarn Forward magazine. At less than $4 an issue (with the current exchange rate), how can you go wrong? I really like the patterns that they show in their previews, and I'm hoping the articles are just as good. I'll let you know. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Catch-Up Posting

I have a lot to catch up on in this post, so I hope you're ready! Here goes...

First off, the fabulous Leann of See Leann Knit nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award! Thanks, Leann! I love reading Leann's blog because her stuff always comes out looking professional and lately she has started spinning and dyeing up some very beautiful stuff, which she sells in her Etsy shop. Very pretty - check it out!

I guess I'm supposed to pass the award on to five other blogs that I like. Leann is on that list, but I think it would be cheating to pass it back, so here are five other noteworthy reads, in no particular order (I'm trying not to repeat blogs I have given some love to in the past, so don't feel bad if you're not on the list--I still love you, really!):

1) A Mingled Yarn - I originally found this blog through some of Elizabeth Klett's fabulous designs on Ravelry, and continued reading it because she creates some fabulous FOs. She sews too! Plus, she is an English prof so she's a smarty and gives good book reviews. :)

2) Shut Up and Knit! - This blog CRACKS. ME. UP. She says the things that I think but never say out loud. It's a good read. 'Nuff said.

3) The Yarniad - I originally started reading this blog because I saw some photos of her fabulous FOs on someone else's blog. I continued reading it because she continues to crank them out! Check out some of her original designs. I have plans to make my own Trina soon.

4) Sassy Does It - Another very funny blog written by a smarty with good taste. Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy smart blogs? One of my new favorites.

5) Knitting With a Y - Yes, another shameless plug for my little brother. He's just like me, except he's a guy, 10 years younger (10?!? Really???), and his FOs are always perfect. Oh, and he's a fabulous writer too.

I wish I could report that since my last post I have been a workout fiend, lost 10 pounds, and now have butt cheeks of steel. But...that post will have to wait. A long time. I have been working out, although no more than once or twice a week. But thank you to everyone who commented to let me know I'm not alone in this! Still very busy. Still can't talk about it (yet!). I know, it's obnoxious to say I'm working on stuff and then not talk about it. I hate it when people do that! Why bother mentioning it at all?!? I guess I just wanted to see what it's like to be one of those people who are always doing "secret knitting" and stuff. Umm...it's not really as much fun as you would think. :-P

But I did manage to find a sunny day and a photographer and get some photos of some FOs. Yay photos!

First off, my Flutter top, by Norah Gaughan. You may remember that the neckline is waaaay too tight, and that the armholes are bordering on cutting off circulation (see photo). I debated ripping it all back and loosening things up, but a few of you mentioned that the cotton should stretch out some, and frankly: I'm always willing to listen to people who tell me what I want to hear. So I'm considering this one done.

Secondly, I finally got some modelled shots of my Cassidy hoodie by Bonne Marie Burns! Not much to say here, I just wanted to post the pics.

And lastly, my Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark. I don't think I ever blogged about this. It was a super quick knit and I only did it so I could use up some of my old stash yarn. Love the Malabrigo Silky Merino, love the simple pattern, and I love the stash busting! It took less than two skeins and now I have a cute little shawlette/scarf.

Speaking of stash busting, I cheated a little and put some yarn up for sale that I knew I wasn't going to get to. I was amazed at how quickly most of it disappeared! If I had known it would be that easy, I would have done it a long time ago! :)