Liking my job

…even though it leaves me no chance to hang out in front of the computer and blog.

Last week I went to Limerick (where I nearly died) and Galway (where I did not). Tomorrow is Waterford, then I come back, sort through pictures, and blog like a maniac. I have in the meantime added another data point to my theory that beginning knitters can start with whatever techniques they want, provided they are interested enough in the results.

For now, I will leave you with another free pattern I released in a flurry of work a couple weeks ago, Ho(o)t Coffee (Ravelry link). You can download the pdf straight from here, even if you’re not on Ravelry. It’s a mug cozy based on the super-popular Owl cable, and it was my toss-off contribution to the local Owls knitalong. (The cable appealed to me, the jumper did not.)

Of the people who’ve knitted it so far, no one’s been absolutely thrilled with it. I don’t think I’ll be rewriting the pattern, but the lessons I’ve learned from reading people’s comments will certainly guide me with future projects.


Knitting Tour: Athlone

The Four Seasons B&B just outside Athlone offers guests complimentary tea and coffee in the sitting room “upon arrival.” John and I made it before Kevin did, so we chose our rooms then settled in to the sitting room to enjoy tea (for me), coffee (for John), and biscuits (for both of us). We checked mail, watched TV, and practiced sitting around for a while.

The next morning we got another fabulous B&B breakfast and headed out for Athlone IT. It was foggy and cold, but I had a lot of wool. This is what Athlone IT looked like to the sock:

Our space for this college was the best so far. We were tucked into a corner of the canteen, which resembled a smallish food court. We had lots of space and lots of light, and the result was lots of knitters. Nearly everyone in Athlone knew how to knit, and once word of the giveaway got out packs of women would come by and knit their two rows to enter into the competition. A few people stepped up for lessons, and I think at least one person is a Knitter, but just didn’t know it yet.

We had extra help with the promotion, Hannah, who knits “just scarves” and chatted about knitting hints and tips while we packed up at the end of the day. She also agreed to pose with the sock:

The drive back to Dublin was quick but quiet. John and I took the van (with all the setup stuff) rather than the jeep, but it was a powerful van and we made great time. I worked a couple hours at the shop once I got back, then headed home to sleep before working over the weekend. The sock got finished on the way back to Dublin, and the second sock begun. The next adventure will be Limerick/Galway, and I hope to finish the pair by the time I get home after Galway.

Knitting Tour: Sligo

By the time we’d reached Sligo, I knew a lot more about this promotion thing. My “driver,” John, and his van-driving counterpart (Kevin) were not merely drivers but actually a promotions crack-team, doing everything the promotion needed except the knitting. We’d set up in local colleges, and the guys would don their red Vodafone shirts to pass out leaflets and cookies to students and other passersby. They also offered deals for people who wanted to switch to Vodafone — customers would keep their phone number and enjoy a bucketload of free phone credit. The primary goal of the campaign was not to get people to switch (though that’s certainly important), but more to be seen as a friendlier, happier phone company. Which is where I came in, “bringing knitting to life” in the instant living room we’d set up in each location.

I woke up bright and early at the cozy and lovely Mount Edward B&B in Sligo, enjoyed a fantastic breakfast, and snuck a few tourist-style pictures of the view:

I showed the jeep to my sock:

I’m still not sure how the Yarn Harlot manages to get everything in focus at the same time, but I will learn. I have a lot more of these trips to do.

Sligo IT was a paradigm shift from Dundalk. We were placed in a wide corridor across from the Book Nest, and managed to see many more people. We’d been authorized to give people more of an incentive to sit and knit, so we entered knitters (experienced as well as beginners) into a drawing every hour to win €100 free Vodafone credit. People definitely came out of the woodwork then. Many of the students already knew how to knit, but many didn’t. (Also, there were many “mature” students — older people coming back for new qualifications. They often knew how to knit.) I brought several more people into the knitterly fold, and had some lovely conversations.

I love Sligo. I didn’t get to stay there nearly as long as I’d have liked, and it seemed like just as we were getting into our stride, it was time to pack up and drive to Athlone.

Knitting Tour: Dundalk

Things have been moving fast this month. I kicked off the new year by teaching an X-Factor celebrity and 130 Dubliners to knit. Then, just as I was recovering from the lovely response to my pattern releases, I was asked to follow the Vodafone promotions events and teach knitting. This was scheduled on Monday, I was awaiting my chariot at 7:30 AM on Tuesday and gone till Thursday evening.

My chariot is an ad-wrapped jeep:

Climbing into this thing and meeting my driver, John, was the first of many surreal experiences for the week. I also cast on for a special, travel-only sock while I waited.

We drove straight to Dundalk IT and started setting up. We’d been offered the student’s common room, which ended up being kind of small and crowded, but we made the most of it. We met some of the Vodafone marketing higher-ups, and discussed the campaign, the day, and possibilities for the next few days of promotions in Sligo and Athlone. I also taught a few people to knit. The most important thing we learned was that no matter how much Vodafone wants people to come and knit at their displays, even people who can knit will usually refuse to do so when it is a corporate sponsorship thing. I can understand this. I wouldn’t have done it in college either.

I learned that the original idea for the campaign came from a couple guys in the marketing department who read something about urban knitting. If you’re not in Ireland, you might not know: Vodafone, one of the larger mobile service providers, has knitted graffiti as the centrepiece of their new campaign. Their TV ads show young, trendy people learning to knit so they can cover trees and fenceposts with knitting, as a way to cheer up their surroundings. I learned the central idea of the original pitch was how the craft could empower individuals to transform their environments.

This interested me because when I think about the transformative power of knitting, I think about the power of the knitter to turn string into a three-dimensional object, often with usefulness and warmth. It was almost as if someone had read something a knitter wrote and took it in a different direction.

After Dundalk, we packed up and headed off to Sligo, travelling as directly as we could across the country. The best path took us through Northern Ireland, and it was the first time I’d ever been over the border. (Which is a little disgraceful; I should have been to Belfast before now.) Once we found our B&B up a mountain just outside Sligo, I met up with a friend (Mary!) for late coffee. The next morning came way, way too soon.

Behold, the zombie blog

The results of my experiment are in: I am a lazy blogger.

As it turns out, I am only a slightly less lazy knitter. While the blog slept, I designed, knit, and wrote up three patterns. I’ve also taught over a hundred people to knit and been interviewed by a celebrity. And that’s just the knitting stuff.

For now, I leave the blog with the first of my free pattern offers: the Lava Flow Cowl. This started life as an idea for a möbius cowl with reversible cables, and grew from there. It’s written for the luscious Mirasol K’acha, but could be worked in any single ply yarn. Choose something soft so it feels nice against your neck.

My attempt at a mobius strip.

As written, this uses two and a third balls. You can use slightly larger needles and probably still squeeze a cowl out of three balls without having to go into a fourth. You can check out the pattern page on Ravelry, or download it directly from this link. You don’t have to be on Ravelry to download directly — how cool is that?