Monday, May 6, 2013

Mystery Shawl Knit-Along


I went over daughter Erica’s house yesterday in order to begin knitting her Minerva knit-along mystery shawl. The first clue actually came out Friday, but since I've never followed a knit pattern before, I was seriously scared. I tried to look the first clue over, but it made my eyes spin around and my head start to hurt -- it looked a bit like hieroglyphics. (On her KAL discussion group I likened it to taking a test in my old high school calculus class with a bad hangover. That same sinking feeling of I can't do this.) Afraid to even try without someone making sure I did the correct stitches, I waited until yesterday to start so I could go over Erica's for a bit of start-up guidance. Since I'm a fairly new knitter, I really don't know how to do many stitches either. Erica kept telling me to practice, but I wasn't even sure how to go about practicing. The closer the start date came, the more Erica kept eyeing me, asking if I was sure I wanted to try this.
But I went to her house and, although it took me a few hours, I finished up the first row after the cast on. So … I DID it!!! How can you be proud of yourself after only the first row, when there are a zillion more to come? Well, now I'm not afraid to try row two, so that's something.
On the first row -- maybe other rows, too, but I haven't gotten there yet -- the pattern was in groups of three stitches. I was still pretty close to the beginning of the row -- like maybe only stitch #11 in -- when I saw that I hadn’t done it quite right. I said Erica, ummm … can you fix this? All she had to do was rip back a few stitches. Then another few stitches later I messed up and, again, said Erica…? She was probably ready to hear me say that every few minutes, but then she came up with a brilliant tip and gave me a visual for what I should be seeing: knit, bump bump. I looked at the stitches and thought, hunh, whaddya know! So I started counting 123, 123, 123, 123, like a mantra, and after every third stitch, after every "3,"  I would stop and look at the stitches to see if they went knit bump bump. I never made another mistake and got all the way to the end of the row. And, believe me, that was one loooooooong row. 
That was it for me because I’m very slow and that one row took me almost two hours.
Day one of my Minerva mystery shawl KAL
The shawl was cast on using KnitPicks Sunstruck interchangeable needles (my very cool Christmas present from Erica), but after I messed up so close to the beginning, Erica thought I might do better with her Kollage Square needles with the soft K-Kable. Wow, what a difference. Maybe that’s why I never made another mistake. I love my KnitPicks needles, but this made doing all that back loop stuff so much easier. The tips are so pointy and the needles just slide through the stitch's loops. Switching needles made me feel more relaxed, so I guess it helped in that respect, too. I have to switch back before she comes over in a few days, but she assured me that the rest of the shawl would be easier. Usually just row one after the cast on is a little tighter.
Erica took this photo of me as I was partially through row one. You can see that the cast on stitches are on my KnitPicks Sunstruck interchangeable needles and that I’m working row one onto the Kollage Square needles. 

Fingers crossed as I go attempt the next row!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Jumping the etsy ship


I am in the process of closing my etsy shop and moving over to Storenvy. I might be biting off my nose to spite my face, as the saying goes, but I am doing it in support of Rick.

From December 2007 through April 2013, Rick maintained two shops on etsy.com. Once I knew I was losing my job, exactly one year ago on Mother's Day, I looked forward to opening my own etsy shop with great anticipation. And I had almost instant success. I sold several shawl pins in the first few days and was thrilled. As Rick said, it seemed like such a warm and fuzzy place to be. And I felt so much less worried about the loss of my job, because, hey, I had a new "career" selling my handmade items on etsy. We would be okay, I thought. We would be able to pay bills and eat. 

My own personal etsy shop lagged some, though, because Rick got so busy with his Navajo spindles that I had all I could do woodburning my original designs on the spindle whorls. But that was okay, we were a team. We work together well, complementing each other with our different skill sets. 

Neither Rick nor I participated in any of the social media type activities etsy provides, nor did we ever research them, so we were both unaware of any negativity toward etsy. However, Rick recently ran into an issue that required what he calls "intelligent human interaction, sound reasoning, rational thought, and a little good judgement." He got none of that from etsy. You can read more about his trials and tribulations in dealing with etsy on his blog. 

After some more research, Rick found Storenvy. He has a list of other online selling sites on his blog, but this is where he landed. He spent the last few days moving all his items over. His shop looks awesome. And, of course, you can also still visit his Web site, Roosterick.com, direct.

I'm not sure Storenvy will get me the traffic that etsy did. Is it worth staying there, then? Well, maybe. I don't know. I'm of two minds about it. I was appalled at their treatment of Rick's issue, and everything he discovered online about them was quite illuminating, including this etsy rant with a cute cartoon to boot. But I'm afraid to lose what small business I did. I think people did find me on etsy, although folks complain about their search engine. I'm not sure how many people know about Storenvy, and those that do probably aren't searching for shawl pins. So the thought of moving off etsy is a tough decision. Do I stay knowing how terribly they treat their Sellers (along with a lot of other not so nice stuff that they do), or should I start over in a new spot and hope for the best? Well, guess it looks like I'm leaving, although even as I do it I'm feeling torn. But I really can't stay in all good conscience. My Storenvy shop looks nice. As I type this, I have nine items moved over. I'll do the rest a little at a time over the weekend. Once it's done I'll heave and sigh and feel better. So long etsy.