Tour-de-Sock: We’re half way there!

Tour-de-sock is well underway. Stage three of six is about to close and mark the half way point of this sock knitting competition. As I have mentioned before, this competition is a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders. It’s a great opportunity to knit some gorgeous patterns that you might not have otherwise knit. And for me the part I love is that each round usually gives you something new to learn.

As was the case last year, we started the tour with a warm up sock. This year’s warm up sock was Miriam by Eeva Kesäkuu.

Miriam

 

I personally love to knit stranded colourwork. This pattern was a treat. The unusual heel and gusset made it interesting to knit… in a good way. At first when I saw how the sock looked, I questioned whether the fit was going to be any good. But when I put them on, I was pleasantly surprised. They hug my feet beautifully. I used OnLine Supersocke Graffiti yarn with Cascade Heritage Sock yarn for these. Here are mine:

 

Next on the Tour we knit Adrienne Fong’s Plan A socks.

Fong’s Plan A Socks

I don’t usually bother to knit a test swatch for gauge when I knit socks, since most socks knit up great with any old sock yarn. This pattern recommends a “light fingering” yarn. Note to self: yes, there is a difference between fingering and light fingering. I used Admiral Cat yarn for this one. I wanted a bright and happy yarn to knit. If I had really paid attention, I would have knit the ribbing as I did and then switched to finer needles for the leg. Mine came out quite large and slouchy. They fit around my feet well, so after I submitted my completed sock, I frogged them back by two pattern repeats, reknit the toes and “Ta dah!” they fit me now. These were a fun and relatively quick knit. I enjoyed them very much. Here are mine:

 

 

Stage two was a gorgeous cabled pattern called Odensjön by Suzanne Sjögren.

Odensjön

 

Having learned my lesson about light fingering yarn in stage one, I chose my yarn carefully for this round. I used CoBaSi Hikoo, a light fingering yarn that I wrote about a few weeks ago. First of all, I’m in love with this yarn. The results are just so pretty… what can I say? I’m hooked. This pattern was a perfect blend of interest and memorize-ability of the pattern repeat. It still took some focus, don’t get me wrong. The resulting sock is impressive without it feeling like I gave birth to it. (Hey, if you knit enough different sock patterns, you’ll stumble on one that will make you understand what I mean!) I enjoyed this pattern enough that I can see myself knitting it again and again. That’s saying something. After all, there are enough gorgeous sock patterns out there that I could knit a different pair every week, never knit one twice and yet never run out of new patterns for the rest of my life! Here are my completed ones:

And then there was Stage Three! I talked about these last week. Heidi Nick’s Bicycle Race.

Bicycle Race

These ones felt like they took me forever to knit. However in all fairness, my work  schedule really did get in the way of my knitting time for these. That having been said, I was able to work on all of the previous socks and still be social or pick them up and put them down mid round without it being a problem. Knitting these ones demands your full attention. They are absolutely stunning. I think as finished socks go, these may be my very favourite socks I’ve ever knitted (other than the Bintje knee socks I gave my daughter). I absolutely love them. I won’t knit a second pair of them, but I will wear them with pride and delight for as long as I can. Here are mine:

 

And now, I find myself anticipating the next pattern drop. I love not knowing what we will be doing until the stage officially begins. Three more stages to go… On the forums there can be a lot of chatter in anticipation of each new round. Photo hints are given, yet they really don’t tell you anything until you see the pattern itself. It can be fun to read people’s guesses about what we might be doing next. I don’t get too caught up in that, because it’s too easy to get worked up over what technique might come up that I know nothing about. I would rather just take it as it comes and figure out what I need to when I need to. I’m excited to see what will be next!

Are you excited to knit some socks yet?

Happy Knitting!

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In Pursuit of Balance

There’s no doubt that building and running a small business is a lot of work.

Anyone who has done it knows that if you aren’t careful, the business starts to run you, instead of the other way around. Without maintaining a constant pursuit of balance, burnout is tough to avoid.

Over the past 3-1/2 years, my business has taught me a lot about myself. I knew coming into it that the first 5 years would be a lot of hard work. I knew it would take about 5 years to really establish the business. Knowing it and living it are two very different things.

When I first started, I had a part time job in a neighbouring community one day a week. I set up my store schedule around that job and for quite a while I kept doing both. I remember the day when I realized that there was enough demand for my services that I was better off to let go of that part time job and use that time to sew for my customers. It was a benchmark moment. At the time, since people were accustomed to the store being closed on Fridays, I kept it that way and I used my Fridays to catch up on the work that accumulated over the week. The pursuit of balance had begun.

As my business grew, I was busy enough during the hours the store was open that it was getting a little tougher to keep up with the sewing. Between trying to do paper work and sewing on Fridays and Sundays,

there was no continuity for me on the days when the store was closed.

I would get to a point on Friday and have to leave it all hanging to be open on Saturday and then pick up where I left off on Sunday. The frustration this generated motivated me to do something different. So I changed my hours and opened on Friday but closed on Sunday and Monday to allow better flow on the days I was working uninterrupted. And that worked pretty well for the better part of a year. Except that the growing needs of the business meant that those two days became absolutely packed with work. There really wasn’t any room for me to recover from the pace of work. The pursuit of balance continued.

Revelstoke is a gorgeous small mountain city.

We are tucked in the mountains and no matter what time of year, it is an outdoor lovers’ Mecca. My husband and I love to ski and with Revelstoke Mountain Resort less than 10 minutes from our door we consider ourselves lucky to live here. Last year, in spite of having season’s passes to RMR, we skied a total of twice all winter… because I needed to keep up with the work in the store. So the pursuit of balance moved along.

My MIL helps out in the store with what she can and that has taken quite a bit of pressure off me.

We get along great and have become very close.

Even though her stamina limits how long she can help out each day, I’m very happy and grateful that she enjoys helping out. I thought long and hard about hiring someone to help with the sewing. You know, there’s only so much you can charge to fix clothing for people. And what with the nature of Revelstoke, a lot of what I fix is outdoor gear. It’s not the sort of thing that the average sewing enthusiast would want to do, or have the skill to do. It definitely requires the power of heavy industrial sewing machines. It’s a lot more physically demanding than a lot of people would expect. And once you hire someone, you have to be able to keep them busy.  Yeah, there’s a lot of work, but not enough to justify hiring someone. At the end of the day, you have to have the cash-flow to pay them. And after all the work you put into your business, you kind of want to be able to pay yourself at some point too.

As the winter settled in this year, I vowed that our season’s passes would not go to waste.

Yet, when my husband and I had the opportunity to ski, I was so tired that I was afraid for my safety on the ski hill. We have had a lot of snow this winter. Powder days have come and gone, without us skiing yet. I am very aware that this is a direct result of the success of my business, and even as I work toward a solution, I’m deeply grateful for it. Isn’t it interesting that it takes being uncomfortable enough, long enough to be motivated to change things up? So DH and I began batting ideas around as to how I could shift things to create the space for us to be able to get out once a week; and yet still accommodate my customers and the work I need to get done.

In the pursuit of balance, in the ever-changing landscape of my business, I have decided to rearrange my store hours. I have allowed for one day off a week for myself: Sundays. Mondays and Tuesdays the store will be closed to allow me to work uninterrupted on sewing jobs and administrative duties. I will be on call for visitors to Revelstoke who find themselves with a sewing emergency (yes, there is such a thing as a sewing emergency) on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I’ll open up at 8:30 am and close at 6:00 pm. My hope is that this will accommodate most people’s schedules. Saturdays the store will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Social Saturdays will be extended accordingly. I will be taking an hour break (MIL will cover me) from 1:30 to 2:30 each day. We won’t offer any fittings or consultations during that time. In the event that I have to be away (which doesn’t happen very often), my MIL will hold down the fort and the hours will be reduced to: 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. I’ll make an announcement on my website, on Facebook and on the door any time this is going to happen.

It is my sincere hope that these new hours will shift things around enough that I’ll be able to maintain a healthier balance while still serving my customers’ needs.

 

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Summer Hair-Band #1

I have a new pattern for you today. I got tired of doing dishcloths so I thought I would shift to something different. I have long hair and it is always coming loose and getting in my face when I’m trying to work. I thought I would make a series of hair-bands out of 4-ply yarn for summer. I wanted the first one to be super easy so it can be knitted up in front of the TV once the pattern is established.

The hardest part about this pattern will probably be choosing the buttons to coordinate with your yarn. It features a staggered eyelet pattern that will allow you to adjust the size to your needs. It does tend to curl along the long edges, although blocking helps with this.

This is a great project to use up little odds and ends in your leftovers bin.

I had some self-patterning cotton sock yarn leftovers that I used. I’m very happy with the way it turned out. As a summer item, I’d suggest using cotton, linen, bamboo or any combination of those fibres. Obviously you can use wool if that’s what you have. I used sock weight yarn (4-ply/fingering) but you could use thicker yarn if you like, it would just come out wider. You work the patterned section to your head measurement and then add a section to sew the buttons onto. Because of this as long as you are happy with the width you get with a thicker yarn, you can absolutely make it work. If you use a thicker yarn, the amount (weight) of yarn you need will be different than what I have listed.

What with finishing up projects, gardening, work and the upcoming sock competition, I don’t know how many patterns I will be able to create this summer. I will play it by ear and see how it goes. I want to have a variety of hair-bands for myself, and that may be what motivates any new patterns that I come up with. 😀 I have a few ideas in mind; it’s just a matter of the time to do them up.

I hope you have fun with this pattern.

And here is the pattern!

Merry Christmas

I want to send out a “thank-you” today.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my loyal customers, my friends and my loved ones. I am resoundingly fortunate to have your support.

It’s been a year of growth, of learning curves, hard work and challenges, and a whole lot of connections built of yarn, friendship and laughter.

However you celebrate, whatever you celebrate I wish you love, peace, joy and abundance. For those who are lonely and missing loved ones I wish you comfort and love. For those who are struggling with overwhelming challenges I wish you strength and support. For those suffering health challenges I wish you healing and a vibrant recovery. For everyone that I connect with, whether in person or through technology, I wish you all the very best of the season and a wonderful, prosperous and love-filled 2017.

I will be closing the store over the holidays from December 24 through January 2. I look forward to serving you again in the New Year. I will take a respite from my blog next week. See you in January.

Merry Christmas!

Sincerely,

Judy

End of Summer Sale

It’s the “End of Summer Sale” at Judy’s Designs.

 We need to make room for new yarn.

 From August 15th to 31, 2016

 Nako Vizon; Nako Baby Angel; Uptown Worsted; Knitca Wool Slub;

Knitca Superwash Merino; and Himalaya Denim are 25% off.

 Self patterning sock yarns are 30% off

 Fantasia Bacio and On Line Balu are 50% off

Welcome to Social Saturdays

I’m Judy and I love to knit.

I also love to sew, quilt, cross-stitch, needlepoint and do a whole lot of other creative activities.

My love for creativity is only dampened by the fact that there are only so many hours in a day, several of which I have to work. As a small business owner, my work doesn’t finish when the store closes  At the end of any day, it takes a whole lot of motivation to pick up a project to work on.

I started Social Saturdays at Judy’s Designs as a way to carve out a scheduled chunk of time to consistently work on those creative projects that mystically call out to me between the verses of the songs on the radio… “Judy, knit me! You know you want to!” My hope was that others would choose to join me with projects of their own.

So here’s the scoop.

Continue reading “Welcome to Social Saturdays”