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Answers to your questions

In a survey to my mailing list, I invited you to ask me any questions about knitting that you'd like. Here are some of your questions with my responses.

Are you a process or a product knitter?

Definitely process. Yes, I like having the finished project, but for me, it's all about the actual moving of the needles and yarn and creating stitches. It's the knitting itself that I love most.

Do you keep track of which projects you intend yarn purchases for?

Yes, I use my Ravelry queue for that. If I have a specific project in mind for a yarn I buy, I add that pattern to my queue and link it to the yarn. That way, if I'm looking through my yarn stash on Ravelry to find something for another project, I know not to use yarn that has been earmarked for something else! And when I'm wondering what to knit next, I look at my queue first and see if something jumps out at me.

What’s your favorite weight of yarn to knit with? To dye?

I would say fingering weight yarn for both, mostly because it seems to be the weight that is most common and the one that has the most options for fiber content. I also feel like I can always find something to do with a skein of fingering weight yarn and can have options. Whenever I stash something like a skein of worsted weight, it always seems to eventually become a hat, which is great, but giving myself more options is nice.

What does a day in the life of Karen look like?

I wake up sometime between 5 and 6 (usually because my cat is trying to get my attention) and go make a cup of coffee and sit and knit for an hour before my son wakes up. (The other cat usually curls up in my lap during this time.) I get my son off to school and then empty the dye pots from the day before, rinse the yarn and hang it to dry, and get new dye pots going for the day. (On some days, that process is broken up by a workout after dropping my son off at school.)

Then, my day can vary a bit depending on my to do list, but usually I am doing one or more of the following things:
- reskeining and labeling yarn that has dried (I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while doing this)
- doing work for PLY Magazine (I'm the managing/copy editor)
- doing other editing work (I also edit books written by indie authors)
- writing this newsletter
- planning the next round of dyeing or yarn club or other thing
- taking and editing photos and other graphics
- updating the website with new yarn listings
- checking into Ravelry and Facebook for my groups

There are more things, but those are the ones that popped into my head as I was writing this. Once I pick up my son from school, I try to not do too much work in the late afternoons/evenings, but sometimes that happens. But if I've had a productive day, once he's in bed, my husband and I watch TV and I knit. (So I start and end my day with knitting but don't do much knitting during the day.)

Do you knit many items for gifting?

Not really. I have done a fair amount of gift knitting and every few years I do focus on knitting Christmas presents for a number of family members (mostly lots of hats, a few cowls, and some doll clothes for my nieces). I do knit my mother-in-law quite a few gifts as she is extremely knitworthy and loves and wears everything I've given her. (She's a quilter, so I think that helps her both appreciate the gift but also understand that the best compliment is to actually use it.)

But for the most part, I find knitting for others to be somewhat stressful, especially if it's for a holiday like Christmas as that means there are deadlines. And as a process knitter (which I mentioned last time), I find myself really disliking that process when I know that I have to work on a specific project and have to have it done by a specific time. I prefer to knit what I want in whatever timeframe works best for me. And if it's something that I feel might be perfect for someone else, then I might gift it then.

What do you like knitting best?

I think I go through stages of what I like to work on (we probably all do). A few years ago, I was in major hat mode and worked on tons of hats. Then I focused on cowls. (I think the quick one-skein projects were the thing that mostly called to me.)

Then there are shawls. I've made so many shawls and don't seem to tire of making them. They're a great way to use a single skein of precious yarn or multiple skeins for a larger shawl. Or I get to have fun picking out color combinations for a shawl that uses more than one color.

Lately, though, I've been feeling drawn more toward larger projects. I've done some sweaters over the years, but maybe just one a year (or sometimes even none). That's changed in the past couple of years and I've made more sweaters these past two years than I did in my first decade of knitting. Cardigans, short sleeve sweaters, and pullovers. That's what really seems to be getting my attention these days. So I see myself doing more of them.

And there's always brioche, my latest love! (Yes, a brioche sweater/cardigan is on my list of projects I want to make.)

What is the most important part of pattern design?

This is a really big question, and I think that the answer could go in a lot of ways. I also think the question could be read in a lot of ways. So I'm going to read it in two different ways and then try to pick my most important while also simple answers.

So, if by pattern design it means the actual writing of the pattern, I think the most important part is making sure that the pattern is as easy-to-read for the knitter as possible. (That doesn't mean it needs to be an easy pattern; just easy to comprehend.) Using a tech editor and test knitters can be helpful in making sure that happens.

If by pattern design you mean the actual creation of an idea for a pattern, I think experimentation is the most important thing and not being afraid to try something outside the "rules" of knitting (or crochet). One of the most fascinating online classes I watched was Stephen West's Shawlscapes class (on Craftsy). He basically just explained his thought process behind some of his designs, and a large part of that boiled down to wondering what would happen if he added an increase here or another one here. In doing so, he was able to take a basic triangular shawl shape and make it something else entirely.  

So I think one of the most important qualities for a designer to have is curiosity, wanting to know what might happen if you do something this way vs that way. After all, if it doesn't work out, it's easy enough to rip it out and try something else!

 



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