Thursday, July 30, 2020

Community Matters

Where to even begin?! These last two days have been an absolute rollercoaster. I believe it was in "Alice in Wonderland" (Disney cartoon/movie, not the book) that someone said: "Start at the beginning and when you come to the end, well, stop." Here goes!

Yesterday afternoon, I saw KatieBea* tweet a screenshot of an email that they'd received from Cassidy. I then saw someone else tweet a screenshot of a very similar email from Cassidy. Needless to say these created a lot of buzz, and for quite good reason! Telling people who've contacted you with feedback on accessibility that they need to consider sources before spreading lies is a mighty big load of bullshit. I quote retweeted the first person's tweet with my own take on this, and yes, I did use the word bullshit to describe it. But here, read it yourself: 

Screen shot from twitter: text "Síle @knit1dance2 This is beyond anything I ever imagined coming from Cassidy. It's also utter bullshit. I know what I experienced (very mild compared to others) and absolutely believe what people are saying about their own experiences. #ravelryaccessibility". There is a narrower section of text that makes up the quoted tweet. It reads: "KatieBea @ktb38 Ravelry is now sending out a form letter. Saying there are no problems with the updated design. Everyone who has problems is lying. The disability community is lying, according to ravelry. Share this. Tell everyone what ravelry is doing. #ravelryaccessibility #ravelry"

Now this afternoon, Jessica, aka Ravelry's other cofounder, made a new blogpost. And not from an only-accessible-if-you-can-log-into-Rav channel! She actually addressed yesterday's emails from Cassidy and several other points. Some are hoping this spells a new more communicative response. Others have said it's a case of "too little, too late", which for the record I don't blame them for saying. It's been 6 weeks and this is the first real point of actual communication we've seen. 

And at least one person who received an email yesterday has gotten an apology today. I, for one, want to see a public apology made to KatieBea for the targeted bullshit she's been on the receiving end of since this all broke open. 

Where does this leave us? I'm glad to see an actual response instead of another pompom waving for one thing. But there are still issues with the migraines/seizures/screenreaders not able to access the site not being afforded more, or even equal, weight with people not liking the twee icons (And for the record, one can be on both sides of that comparison very easily waves both hands in the air). Quite honestly, I don't know where this leaves us. I had planned to close my Ravelry shop today after seeing the portion of Cassidy's letter to KatieBea. Jessica's blogpost is gave me a brief pause. All of my patterns are in my Payhip shop, including my 3 free ones. Love Crafts has all of my paid patterns and one of my free ones. I had set Ravelry to only be hosting my paid patterns a week or so ago. Now they're listed in the database but they aren't open to Ravelry sales. I just can't with everything. 

I will continue to work on getting my patterns integrated with this blog and I will continue with my designs. Ravelry may have afforded me the chance to start designing and getting my patterns seen but I control how and if I continue. And I really want to continue. This blog serves as my hub; links to any social media I use and any platform where my patterns are found will remain here, although they might move to a different setup than being in the sidebar.

My hope is that this post explains what has been happening and where my decisions are coming from. I like being honest with people. As always, you can respond by comment or email if you prefer; I value your input.

I'm really hoping my next post will be a fun one!

Til next time,

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Fake Poutine and Other Rainy Day Musings

A green bowl is pictured from above, showing it is completely full of hand cut potatoes awaiting their turn in the fryer.

I peeled and cut up a good amount of potatoes this evening. A late supper of fries, mozzarella, and gravy, aka fake poutine, is in the works (Proper poutine has cheese curds so that's why I call it fake poutine). Yummy!

In Ravelry news, there's an open letter from current, and former, designers that have/have had patterns available on the site to Cassidy, Jess, et al. 

Don't be surprised if you notice things changing here on the blog or other pages. I'm trying to make sure things are accessible for everyone, and making adjustments with things. If you have any suggestions, comment below or email me at the address in the right top corner. Blogger's contact form doesn't work properly; I never received any of the test messages so I removed it, and posted my email instead. 

Til next time,

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Low Vision Update

I have a happy announcement to make: I uploaded the low vision pdf for my Treble Jig Legwarmers today on Payhip and Ravelry. This link goes directly to the pattern on Payhip: Treble Jig Legwarmers

That's all my paid patterns, with the exception of Rínce Fada, that now have two pdfs: the standard one with written and charted instructions, and the low vision one. I want knitters to be able to knit my patterns whichever way is best for them. Going forward my patterns will have both pdfs on their release. 

Which brings me back to Rínce Fada. I presented it as charts only after the basic gauge, materials, and note sections; 11 charts make up the pattern for Rínce Fada. I felt it would be too unwieldy to have line by line instructions on top of them. It's the written sections and line by line instructions that I turn into my low vision pdfs. In larger type, Rínce Fada would likely be over a hundred pages. For now I'm going to leave it as it is. That doesn't mean I won't change my mind in the future. 

In blog news, I'm trying to figure out how to set up photo links so that my patterns are available here instead of sending you over to Payhip. I'm not tech savvy at all so this is definitely a learning experience! I used the advice and CSS notes that Sarah from posted to make my Payhip shop more accessible last evening. I'm so grateful for this sharing of knowledge to improve accessibility. 

We're no longer under a heat warning! Yay, back to comfortably warm temps! I was able to knit a few rounds on the worsted weight wool shawl last night (the purple one in my collage) without melting, so now that I have my existing patterns updated I can get back to new designs. I'm really excited to be able to share new behind the scenes photos again soon. I'm aiming for one, possibly two, new patterns to come out this year.

Til next time,

Monday, July 20, 2020

When It's Too Hot to Knit

Heat Warning. Not exactly two words we see together here on the island of Newfoundland very often. But we're under one until at least Wednesday! Yikes! Also thank goodness for the fan my Mum mailed me last year!! 32C* is not the kind of temperature you want to deal with without a fan. Most homes here don't have A/C, odd as that may sound to a lot of people. It isn't often that I reach the point where I'm too hot to knit but I gotta tell ya, that's exactly where I'm to. (*89.6F) 

What do you do when temperatures soar? Knit in air conditioned comfort? Work on small projects, like socks, that don't rest in your already too warm lap? Say "forget it!" and lounge somewhere in the shade with a cool drink? 

Til next time,

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Someone Else's Numbers

Today is a misty rainy type day. And along with yesterday, it's a pain and inflammation flare up day. To say I'm taking things easy is probably an understatement. 

So today is a day of knitting someone else's numbers, not trying to crunch my own.

I'm knitting a pair of Fire & Ice Fingerless Mitts by Roz Harmon. I find the cables soothing. I'm almost done the thumb gusset so this one (the left mitt) will be done soon and then onto the right one! I'm trying to get these finished before Sunday ends; they're my entry/score for a game a group I'm in is holding. It's fun to find patterns and/or yarn you've had for a bit and not tried yet. I'm finding these games give me a chance to get to those patterns that otherwise would've probably sat in my library for ages before I found them again!


And to be honest, it's nice to just be able to just knit without needing to decide whether 9 sts of moss st overwhelms or accents a particular cable, or whether the new lace edging repeat is going to work out to cast off all the shawl's body sts, or ... You get the idea.

Dr Jakey is on the case, so there's no worries about me going anywhere; he's literally on the case, ie Me! There is nothing so determined to thwart movement as a comfortable cat. 

What's on your needles today? Something soothing? Perhaps a pattern you've knit before? Or maybe a new pattern that you just had to start? 

Til next time,

Sunday, July 12, 2020

All the Jigs & Reels

I thought maybe some of you might be interested in how my series/ebook came about. What started my knitting-Irish dance "mashup" patterns?

It happened in a dream. That sounds a bit silly but it's exactly what happened! I woke up in the wee hours one August morning in 2016 with the idea of a basic cowl with rope cables and moss st, because rope cables can be 4 stitches wide (each strand being 2 stitches) and crossed every 4 rows/rounds. 4x4 or 4/4, which is the time signature for reels. And the first solo learned in Irish dance is the light reel. By this point I'd grabbed a pen off my nightstand and started scribbling on a sheet of paper. I chose moss st to show off the cables because it shares the 4 rows/rounds repeat. And if I did 7 pattern repeats going around the cowl, that would be the perfect tie in with 7s aka the basic side step in Irish dance...

The cowl took shape in my dark room without any yarn or needles in hand, a first for me. 

After I'd gone back to sleep and woke up properly for the day, I looked over my hastily scribbled night time notes and the idea still had merit. In all honesty, my Light Reel Cowl pattern never changed from that original burst. 

After making a more legible and coherent plan for the cowl, I wondered if I could turn the light jig into a pattern. Jigs have a time signature of 6/8. I took the 6 as 6 stitches, which is 3 strands if they're 2 stitches each. What does 3 strands say to you? To me it was a braid. Braid cables are some of my favorites. What could I make that would highlight the braid(s)? I decided a tam with 8 wedges, using the 8 from 6/8, was the right idea. I played with the placements of both the braids and the decreases. At one point, the lines of the decreases were fighting with the braids; not what I wanted! But what if I flipped it? What if I start at the top and increase each wedge?... That turned out to be exactly what I was looking for! Funny how turning a chart in a different direction can make all the difference. 

So there I was with designs for a light reel inspired cowl and a light jig inspired tam. Could I come up with something for a single jig? Again with the 6/8 time signature. Ah! What if 6 were the number of strands in the cable? There's a classic 6 strand cable that's been published in many stitch dictionaries and patterns, sometimes called "Saxon Braid", "Celtic Braid", etc. Everyone has probably seen it somewhere.

I decided on mittens, with the 6 strand cable traveling the back from cuff to fingers. And if I used the ribbed palm and thumb a lady from the town I grew up in used to make her mittens that I swear every child in the area had a pair of, maybe they'd invoke that woolly hug I remembered from putting hers on. I had the basis for my Single Jig Mittens.

At the point I was coming up with these ideas, I was still waiting to get into physiotherapy for my injury and was using a cane to get around. Because I was also dealing with neuropathy, my hands often felt cold no matter the temperature. Using my mitten idea as a jumping off point, I knit a pair of fingerless mitts, I call them mitties, using DK weight yarn in place of worsted. I really liked them and they made a difference for my hands, especially when going over to the store or post office, so I decided I would release them alongside the mittens. In the actual timeline, the mitties were knit before the mittens!

If I was going to keep going, and it really looked like I was onto something, I needed something for the slip jig. Slip jigs are a completely different animal to the other jigs. First off they have a time signature of 9/8, unique to every other tune/dance the world over! They tend to be a bit... ethereal. Floaty and light. How could I represent that??

I took inspiration from Riverdance, in particular the slip jig "Countess Cathleen". I had wanted to knit a cloak with cables for quite awhile. I decided to knit a cloak that the Countess might wear when she's in hiding. I designed a 9 strand cable to run down the center back, and decided to start at the neck and increase as I worked down...

I started knitting and discovered this was going to take far too long and hold up the rest of the project. In the meantime, I had decided on what I'd do for the treble reel (return to rope cables and moss stitch in a toque/beanie but with short rows to shape the ribbing like I'd done on one I'd knit Dad long before) and treble jig (legwarmers with braid cables and trinity st), and was narrowing down how to look at the hornpipe. I needed an "easier" option for the slip jig!

Somewhere in the back of my mind a word popped up and floated to the surface: lace. Slip jigs are light and floaty, sometimes ethereal, all qualities that describe lace. My first idea was to knit a shawl with increases between panels of a sort of interlocking lace design; sort of like if cables were opened up really wide. At first I was thinking 9 panels in a sort of circular shape. I even tried to draw it out: a circle cut in 12 with 3 slices blacked out. What I eventually settled on is a hexagon missing one piece, so 5 wedges. 

And now you're thinking "5? Where did 5 come from?!" Going back to the slip jig's specialness, that 9/8 time signature means the count for dancing isn't counts of 8 as with the other dances, it's 5. Listen to the song "Rocky Road to Dublin", it's a slip jig and the count is clear in the chorus: "1 2 3 4 5 Hunt the hare and turn her down the rocky road, And all the way to Dublin...". So my using 5 sections makes complete musical, and dance, sense. 

I've had nothing but trouble with the edging for the shawl. I think I've finally stumbled onto the solution but believe me, this is the last time I try designing something with a limited amount of yarn in a discontinued colorway. I digress.

I decided to make a scarf with the basic lace pattern from the shawl so that I could keep the series going in learning order. I knit my Slip Jig Scarf using a gradient dyed yarn in a DK weight, as opposed to the light fingering weight I'm using for the shawl. Two very different looks and feels from the same lace patterning. The shawl will be the last pattern of the nine released.

I've already given you my idea behind the Treble Reel Toque. That was nice and straight forward, and knit up pretty much exactly how I envisioned it. I ran into a bit of trouble with the trinity stitch paired with the braid cables for the legwarmers and after a good deal of swatching (and truth be told, swearing) I came up with what I called a waffle stitch that sort of resembles the bubble (or poodle) socks worn by dancers in competitions. That was originally why I wanted to use trinity stitch but it just never looked right to me.

This brought me up to the last dance, the hornpipe. Hornpipes are another tune with an interesting time signature, most often they're in 2/4. This gave me some trouble because I kept thinking in terms of cables or lace, like the rest of the patterns. Ah, but what if 2 were represented by 2 colors? And 4 were 4 sides? Hmm...

I enjoy double-knitting, which is a method of making 2 "right" sides at the same time, with the colors reversed. For example, a scarf with red flowers on a blue background on side A, and blue flowers on a red background on side B. That's basic double-knitting. There are ways to go about knitting non-reversible things like letters or more complicated things like lace or cables. I recommend checking out the patterns and ideas of Alasdair Post-Quinn (link to his website is in the sidebar) for further exploration. My own design, Rínce Fada, uses these more complex methods. I digress, again.

So hornpipe: 2 colors, 4 sides, double-knitting; what can I do with that? What if I took a basic type Celtic knot, and worked a square in d-k, and then picked up around the edges and worked the sides of a bag upwards in the round? If I made eyelets towards the top, I could thread I-cords through and it would be a drawstring bag!

I had this started and then realized I'd completely goofed by not paying attention to gauge. Knitting is most often wider than it is tall. So if you knit something, for example, 20 stitches x 20 rows, you'll have a nice rectangle not a square. If you've ever put a design on graph paper and then tried to knit it you'll have seen that it looks much flatter or shorter than the graph. This is why there's what is called knitter's graph paper, most often in 18 stitches and 24 rows to 4"/10 cm. I paid no mind to gauge though and charted a knot on standard, square, graph paper. And my bottom square came out as a predictable rectangle. Oops. So now I need to rechart not only the base but the bag sides as well. And then, and only then, can I reknit it properly. But I have a solid idea anyway.

Thus ends the tale of how my series of All the Jigs & Reels patterns came about. We have numbers around us in a lot of our interests, why not use them in a different medium to inspire or teach others? 

Yours in yarn & trebles,

Thursday, July 9, 2020

I should've done this before

"There are few knitting problems that will not yield to a blend of common sense, ingenuity, and resourcefulness." - Elizabeth Zimmermann "The Opinionated Knitter"

An excellent quote to keep in mind right now as things continue to go unanswered on the R*velry front. The new readability survey is a cruel joke upon those experiencing vision troubles, migraines, 10 reported seizures now, and a case of retinal bleeding! The Epilepsy Foundation has issued a warning about the site, and sent a letter to them. Will it help? Sadly, I can't be positive about it as I once would've been.

As I mentioned before, I have listed my patterns on Payhip and LoveCrafts, while still having them available on R*velry. Unfortunately, they're a leading force in the industry and I'm too small of an entity not to use them. The resources for designers, especially smaller ones, housed in the group pages are a wealth of information.

And it's a page in the Accessible Patterns group that my post title comes from today. I have witnessed a lot of discussions about the needs of knitters with vision difficulties overtime,  and am sad to say, I always put it to the side as "something I'll get around to". That's not good enough. This is me saying I need to do better. I started on Tuesday and so far have 4 patterns with an additional low vision pdf included with them. These are available in my Payhip shop and my R*velry shop (yes, I completely see the irony of having them available on R*v); as near as I can tell you can't have more than one pdf to a pattern on LoveCrafts. I need to see if that means I can have a duplicate pattern page set up for the low vision version. The 4 patterns with the low vision option, so far, are:
The links above take you directly to the Payhip individual listing for that pattern. The links to my whole portfolio on each platform are in the sidebar. I'm working more or less in publishing order, starting with my older patterns.*

Going forward, my plan is for every Knit Dance Repeat Designs pattern to have a low vision pdf included with the standard one. This meshes well with my previous plan of offering both written out instructions and charts so each knitter is able to choose what suits them best.

What's the difference between my standard pdf and my low vision ones? My standard pdfs have the title and all headings in Pacifico, title in 26pt, headings in 16pt underlined; the low vision pdf has Calibri in 24pt for the title and Calibri in 22pt in bold type for the headings. Standard print of my patterns is Cambria 12pt; for my low vision pdfs I've used Calibri 22pt. I use some italics and underlining for definition in my standard pdfs; I've either used bold type or parentheses for definition in the low vision options. Almost all of my standard patterns include charts and fully written out instructions; I don't include charts in the low vision pdfs. Lastly, my standard pdfs have the page number/title/my name/Knit Dance Repeat Designs on the bottom right side of each page; in my low vision pdfs I have left justified everything including the page number, etc.

Update: ‪The Light Reel Cowl has its low vision pdf now.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Introducing: Treble Jig Legwarmers

It's new pattern release day! 

The Treble Jig Legwarmers are available now. They are the seventh pattern in my series, All the Jigs and Reels. Only two more patterns to go!

Legwarmers in July? Seems a bit odd doesn't it? But legwarmers are small and portable projects. They're like socks without needing to remember where/when to add the heel or start shaping the toe. I took mine on a walk on 2019's World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIP Day).

Easy and portable, what more can you ask for in a summer knitting project?

What's coming next? I'm working on both Hornpipe Bag and 
Slip Jig Shawl with Hornpipe Bag most likely coming out this fall, possibly October. I'll keep you updated on that.

In case you're wondering, yes that's me modeling the Treble Jig Legwarmers. I'm fortunate to have a photographer for a roommate and after moving things around in the dining room, we were able to have a photoshoot. It was nice to put my hardshoes on and do a few trebles and attempt a click, though I have to say the floor was more than a bit slippery! And as usual there were way more great photos than I needed. I put a few favourites into a collage to share with you.

And now I've spent more of the day on my phone than I intended (completely normal for a new release day!) and Jakey is demanding attention, so I must heed the feline overlord:

Friday, July 3, 2020

Crochet Cast-on: not just provisional

Most often used as a provisional cast-on, I use the crochet cast-on a lot with any garter stitch based patterns I knit. I like how it matches the standard cast off and also how it fits nicely with the fabric. I've specifically used it for a few of my own patterns, in particular Slip Jig Scarf (released February 2019), as well as the upcoming Slip Jig Shawl, and Hornpipe Bag.

To give it a try you'll need the following:

  • about 5-10 yds of single colored yarn

  • appropriate needles for your yarn weight

  • a crochet hook at least one size smaller than your knitting needles

I'm using a worsted weight yarn with a 4.5mm/US 7 circular needle and a 4.0mm/US 6/E crochet hook in the photos.

1 Make a slip knot and place it on the crochet hook. Hold the crochet hook in front of the knitting needle and the yarn behind the needle. Sort of a knitting needle sandwich.

2 Wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it down through the slip knot.

That's one stitch on the needle.

3 Continue adding sts in this manner. That is: hook in front of the needle and yarn behind the needle, wrap the yarn around the hook and pull down through the loop on the hook.

Here you see 7 stitches on the needle, the 8th about to be added. Continue until you have 1 less stitch than needed for your cast on. In my example, I needed 23 stitches total, so I continued until I had 22 stitches on the needle.

4 Transfer the loop from the hook to the needle…

And voila! Your cast-on is complete.

To continue your project, start knitting at the first row of your pattern.

As you can see, the cast-on blends nicely with the garter stitch fabric. 

This cast-on can be used with any pattern that doesn't call for a specific cast-on.

I hope this photo tutorial was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please enter them below or I can be reached through the contact form in the sidebar.