Sunday, January 27, 2013

Money for nothing, kicks for free

I just posted a new sock pattern on Ravelry for free two days ago.  I made a deliberate decision to give this pattern away.  My decision was based a a few factors:  I used a technique that I’ve not used before in a published pattern, it was not test knit, nor did I hire a technical editor.  There was another consideration as well.  I was curious to see how many people would download the pattern because it is free. 

Other than writing a blog entry about the pattern’s availability, I did not announce that it had been published.  Within an hour of putting the pattern in my Ravelry shop, it had been downloaded 10 times.  As of this afternoon, it has been downloaded close to 100 times.  I find it fascinating that I can give away so many copies without promoting.  What would happen if I actively promoted the pattern?  Perhaps several hundred more downloads? 

Which leads me to a question.  A serious question about knitters.  Why are so many unwilling to pay for patterns?  I understand that for some $4 or $5 many be a financial stretch.  Yet many of us (and I include myself) willing pay the same for a large latte and several times a week at that. 

Which leads to another question.  Do knitters expect free patterns to adhere to the same standards as patterns that are available for purchase?  In other words, do knitters expect the pattern to have been tested by others, edited by a technical editor, and offer multiple sizes?  

And a final question.  If you download a free pattern from a designer that also sells patterns, do you consider purchasing one of their patterns? 

I am not trying to start a war here.  I realize that we are motivated by many factors, including our financial means, our desire to support designers--well-known or not, our desire to see our craft thrive, etc.  I ask these questions because I am genuinely interested in the answers. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

New sock pattern (and it's free)

I just added a new sock pattern to my Ravelry Shop and it's free.  It's a quick little knit called Zig Zag Road.  The green yarn--Koigu  KPPPM--I used reminds me of the colors of the trees in the hills in the Bay Area. The socks are knit toe up, which is a new approach to sock design for me.  They have a heel gusset but no heel flap and are finished off with twisted stitch ribbing. 

The sweet little lace pattern zigs and zags, thus the name.  But Zig Zag Road is also the name of one of roads used in the 2012 Summer Olympic Cycling Road Race.  The day the women raced the landscape was a lovely, lovely green.  It was absolutely dreadful with rain though.  Zig Zag Road lead up to the big climb on Box Hill.  Since I was somewhat watching the Olympics, I needed a knit that was engaging yet not so complicated that it required all of my attention.  So Zig Zag Road socks were born.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

For the love of bread

Today I am torn between editing a sock pattern which has been languishing on my desk for a few months and making focaccia with sourdough starter.  Plus, I have an eye doctor appointment.

Obviously, the focaccia dough can be made now and set aside to rest and rise.  But in order to make the dough I have to make an adjustment to the recipe because my sourdough starter is wet.  The recipe calls for a starter that is more dough-like.  This is always a conundrum for me.  I want the math to be simple, as in a simple ratio of flour to water.

Flour to water ratios are rarely simple, usually involving decimal points.  In the US, we are allergic to decimal points.  Our weights and measure system can't be bothered with units of 10.  My solution is to round up or down as the case maybe in the flour to water ratio and then adjust based on the feel of the dough.  Too sticky, add a bit more flour.  Too dry, add a bit more water.  All measurement is cast out the window in these situations.

The other thing that the recipe calls for is unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably organically grown and stone-ground.  I don't have any of this in my kitchen at the moment.  Instead of running down to Whole Foods (which I'm avoiding at the moment for soft political reasons) and buying such flour, I will settle for Trader Joe's unbleached all-purpose flour.  Besides, it is raining.  Otherwise, I have all the exact ingredients called for.

So here’s the plan.  Make focaccia dough with half the additional yeast called for to allow for a slow rise to bring out more flavor.  Edit the pattern.  Go to the eye doctor.  Check on the dough to see how much it has risen.  Continue to edit the pattern.  Check dough; prepare it for  shaping and second rise.  Finish editing pattern.  Check dough and prepare it for third rise.  This is the fun one because you get to poke it all over with your fingers and drizzle it with olive oil.  The oil will pool in some of the dimples, looking a bit like golden ponds.  Bake the focaccia and eat while still warm.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fighting the tofu revisited

Back in February 2008, I was fighting the tofu.  Then knitting and spinning were fighting it out in my head and I'd lost my interest in both.  I spent most of 2012 engaged in a similar fight.

But this past year was different than 2008.  The 2008 tofu fight was insignificant compared to 2012.  I lost my job in January as the result of a merger.  The business side of my brain completely understood that the acquiring firm would keep their own people.  I worked for the acquired firm.  I was offered the option of staying on with the acquiring firm for an additional month to assist with the transition.  I accepted the option because it meant a larger severance package. 

This is where my head started fighting the tofu.  The "rational" side understanding that being laid off was a business decision and had nothing to do with me per se.  The emotional side taking it all very personally, feeling very kicked to the curb.  Soon enough the rational side stopped talking and the emotional side took over completely by fighting itself.  I, for whatever reason, stayed on the rough, jagged edge and went for a wild ride, pulling myself--and sometimes others--down the rabbit hole of despair.  Just about everything was painful.  And I wallowed in it, rarely bothering to peek over the top to see that maybe, just maybe, there were pleasant things outside of my hole.

This, of course, made looking for a job difficult and the tight job market didn't help matters.  I've worked professionally in a niche market for a very long time.  For too long, I defined myself by that role.  So what am I now?

If I follow Natalie Goldberg's advice about fighting the tofu, I need to go deep and discover what I really am beyond the narrow view of who I was professionally.  So I'll start here.

I am (among many things)
  • creative
  • a mother
  • a knitter
  • a spinner
  • a girlfriend
  • a cyclist
  • educated
  • intelligent
  • curious about the world and other cultures
  • a pretty good cook
  • an avid reader
  • a survivor
Oh, and I am a librarian.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Been gone too long

I wish I had a better reason for not posting for such a long time. I don't. My consulting job in Napa ended in October. I thought I'd get in a lot of bike rides. I didn't. I worked as a substitute librarian at a few law firms in November and December. It was fun.

I spent time baking cookies in December as well. I just started with one recipe one morning and in two days I had baked five different kinds of cookies. It was relaxing and the kitchen--the whole apartment actually--smelled homey. It was comforting.

I put out a new sock pattern in late November. It's called Calaveras after one of my favorite bike rides. Calaveras Road winds up to the Calveras Dam, which is a reservoir serving San Francisco. Even though the road is between Livermore and Milpitas, you know you are in the country. The shades of green from the oak trees and wild grass as well as the many different kinds of birds I see when out there confirm it is country. In the spring, there are a few more people up near the head of the dam because there are at least one pair of nesting eagles.  Anyway, back to the sock.  I used Pigeonroof Studios Siren 2 sock in a beautiful green.  The color of the yarn and the lace pattern combine to reflect what I like best about this ride:  the greenery and the winding road.

Speaking of Pigeonroof, Krista is working with new base yarns and Siren 2 will probably be discounted.  I am confident that any fingering weight base she uses will work with patterns I have designed using her yarn.  And, if you haven't visited her new online shop, go there now.  It's really lovely.

I have another sock pattern in the works called Zigzag Road.  The name is also cycling related.  Part of the 2012 Olympic cycling road race was on Zigzag Road.  I was working on the pattern during the Olympics and the name seemed appropriate.  I hope to finish writing the pattern by the end of the month.

One last thing.  I hope that 2013 brings you much joy and happiness!