All things new and bright

The winter holidays are upon us again, and as the days get darker and colder we snuggle up and fill our lives with as much light and joy as it’s possible to soak in. (And a happy Hanukkah, to those who are celebrating tonight!)

yay-hanukkah-2

yay-hanukkah-1

yay-hanukkah-3

And to those of you who are still gift knitting, hang in there! You’ll totally make it. No panicking – take some deep breaths and solace in the fact that Lauren’s there with you:

lauren-featherweight

(She’s almost there on the Featherweight gift sweater!)

I’m celebrating two things in particular today. The first is that I finally got around to weaving in those final ends and wore my own CustomFit Featherweight out tonight:

amy-cf-featherweight-1

I love it fiercely – the set-in sleeves help keep this worn-open style anchored on my body, the fabric is wonderful (I used Quince and Co. Tern in “Barnacle”), and I just adore the design. Hannah did such an amazing job of pulling together simple elements to make an incredibly classic piece, with this sweater.

The second celebration is that this site has gotten a much-needed overhaul! If you’re reading via a feed reader or your email, please click on through and poke around. We’ve re-organized things around here to make key posts and design info easier to find, and to be (much) prettier. We’ll be making more additions to the site throughout the next couple of months, too, but I’m already so thrilled with how things are looking.

A new sweater, a new look, light, and warmth. Bring it on, winter!

Comings and Goings

I’m writing this in the midst of our very first “AHD Summit”, which is our fancy way of saying that this usually bi-coastal company is working together for a whole week.

co-workers-1

It’s been pretty glorious, I gotta say! And in between working like crazy on lots of sweater-related goodness, the team has been unwinding and chit-chatting over yummy baked goods and football. It doesn’t get much better, truly.

yom-bread-1

(I’ve been so thrilled to get back into baking since we moved. It’s one of the many passions I just couldn’t reliably keep up in the bustle of our Boston life. I feel so grateful that I’m able to manage it, again.)

The prizes for the FFKAL have been mailed, Thanksgiving was a glorious mix of family and warmth and music and laughter, and knitting has been plentiful. I have a number of sweaters I’m dying to share with you all…


blog-fodder-dec-1 blog-fodder-dec-3 blog-fodder-dec-2 blog-fodder-dec-4

…but until they’re a bit further along, I wanted to give you an update on the CustomFit Featherweight KAL – remember that? It was theoretically supposed to end on November 30. I had my sweater pretty much finished by the deadline:

blog-fodder-dec-6

But that one-month time period wasn’t really sufficient for a “featherweight” sweater! So we’ve extended the deadline for the KAL through the end of the month – join us in the Rav group if you’d still like to participate! Hannah just completed a lovely version in Quince Owl, and Lauren’s joined the fun, too:

Photo Dec 04, 11 06 25 AM

I’m working on some modeled shots for my own Featherweight, which I hope to share with you before the week is out — along with some practical tips on swatching for gauge.

Until then, the entire AHD team says: Happy knitting!

Sweater Week: Featherweight Fabric!

It’s the final day of Sweater Week (to go back to the beginning, click here), and today I want to talk about fabric – specifically, fabric as it relates to the CustomFit Featherweight cardigan.

Since CustomFit builds your Featherweight specifically to suit your gauge, you can make your CustomFit Featherweight in any yarn, and any gauge, that you like. Which is fantastic! But it begs the question – what would you like? How will your chosen yarn translate into an entire garment?

This post is about a few different directions you might take, and how the fabric could behave in each.

Speaking personally, the thing I loved most about the original Featherweight is the whisper-light character of the fabric. To create something so wispy with my needles was an enticing and unusual idea, when the pattern was first released in 2009. I grew up in Maine, knitting with thick, scratchy (I’ll admit it) wool because the outside wanted to kill me and wool kept that from happening.

Featherweight, on the other hand, was part of this growing awareness (for me) of sweaters being more than… well, more than just weather protection, I guess. Sweaters as garments, that I wanted to wear. Which sometimes meant something a little more lightweight, a little less heavy.

I’m keeping to the spirit of the original with my own version, while giving a nod to my intense love of drape. Quince and Co.’s Tern fits the bill perfectly: A fingering-weight blend of wool and silk, it will give me a whispery fabric that hangs well and has fluidity and a bit of shine.

Since I’m a wool-silk blend kind of girl, when I went diving in my stash bucket, I came up with a few different yarns that would make a very similar garment:

swatch-fabric-3

(From gray swatch, clockwise: Tern, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Luscious Silk, Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Fine, and Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play, Hat Box.)

A fairly thin wool silk blend is (in my opinion) a great option if you’d like to keep your own Featherweight close to the original. The fabric will be fine, the silk adds glorious drape to the mix, and your sweater will feel light-as-air.

An alpaca blend would be my next suggestion for drape-seekers: Alpaca-based yarns and blends will be warmer than the yarns mentioned above, and might produce a sweater that’s a little less “Featherweight”, but the fabric will still have good drape and motion. Hannah is using Quince and Co.’s Owl, which I think is a glorious option. Her CustomFit Featherweight will be warm, snuggly, and still hang beautifully.

I went poking in my stash bin again, and found a few different alpacas that I think would be nice:

swatch-fabric-4

(From purple swatch, clockwise: Blue Sky Alpacas Royal, Shibui Baby Alpaca held together with Staccato, and Rowan Lima.)

Or maybe you’d like a Featherweight that’s a bit more, shall we say, “instant gratification”? If a fingering-weight garment isn’t your thing right now, there are plenty of larger-gauge yarns that can produce a nice light fabric.

swatch-fabric-1

Two that I want to mention in particular are Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri, which produces a gorgeously floaty fabric in a bulky gauge. You can see from the picture how light and airy this is – despite being 3 stitches to the inch! The other swatch pictured, in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, would make another larger-gauged but lofty alternative. Since Shelter is woolen spun, it produces a warmer, thicker sweater that is still very lightweight for its gauge. (Please note that since it’s low-twist as well, the yarn tends to be more delicate.)

Finally CustomFit opens up options for making Featherweight in an entirely different sort of fabric, too. Here are a few less-traditional yarns I’d love to see the sweater in:

swatch-fabric-2

The dark green yarn is Shibui Knits Linen, a chainette-construction linen that’s futuristic and crunchy. You can see from the swatch how wonderfully the fabric moves, and I think it’d make a lovely Featherweight.

Moving around clockwise, the next in line is Harrisville Designs’ Silk and Wool, a nubby, rustic-looking but lightweight tweedy yarn. I love this yarn, and have used it for a couple of sweaters. The fabric is light and has nice motion without being fluid; I think it would make a really interesting spring Featherweight. (Next year’s Cardipalooza, perhaps?)

Finally, I think Blue Sky Alpacas Techno would make a really interesting version of Featherweight. Techno is a bulky yarn, but its construction – super-light alpaca fibers blown into a fine netting, almost like a luscious yarn sausage – make for an incredibly light and warm fabric. There’s so much air in Techno that it doesn’t produce a drapey fabric, but I think it would make a really great variation on the original.

Not sure what kind of Featherweight your yarn will turn into? Here are a few things you can do to test the waters before creating your own Featherweight pattern.

  1. Swatch. I know, this hasn’t been the most fun thing in the world, in the past. But remember: You can’t get the numbers wrong. So make a nice big swatch, enjoy knitting with this yarn, and then wash the swatch as you would wash the sweater. Let it dry thoroughly without pinning.
  2. Play. Play around with the fabric. Move it around, stretch and squeeze and poke and prod it. Try to imagine a bunch of it all together.
  3. Consider another swatch if you’re unsure of the fabric. Go up or down a needle size, and see how things change.

And then share here in the comments or in in the Ravelry group! What are you using, and how does your fabric feel?

Updates for all!

The last sun-splashed days of summer are slipping by here in New England, complete with leaves falling and chilly nights. I’m soaking up knitting on the patio as often as humanly possible, which makes for good knitting progress but pretty mediocre updates here. So I have a bunch of updates to share with you today! To make the inevitable list less boring, read through to the end to get a chance to win some yummy yarn!

The first updates are to our Maker plans.

We got lots of great feedback right off the bat about the new Maker plans — thank you so much for all of your honest and thoughtful comments, and your patience as we worked to make these plans better match what you want from CustomFit. Thanks to your feedback, the plans have now changed!


Maker-ScreenShot-3 Maker-ScreenShot-2 Maker-ScreenShot-1

(From left to right: Screenshots of Maker Central, the recipes page, and the designs page.)

We definitely heard that people were interested both in:

  • Allowing everyone to knit all of the designs we build into the site, and
  • The Maker plans being a way to purchase patterns at a discount.

So, here are the new details for the maker plans:

  • All Makers will still get exclusive access to Maker Central
  • All Makers will still get free access to (all) AHD recipes

And the pattern details are now:

  • At $4.99/month, Makers now get 8 patterns per year (placed automatically in your account on the original Maker Plus dates), plus one free sweater credit at sign-up
  • At $7.99/month, those at the Maker Plus level will now enjoy unlimited patterns. (Please note that this is intended for personal and individual knitter use only.)

Everyone at any level (Basic, Maker, and Maker Plus) will have access both to the currently-featured designs and the full design archive. See the ever-growing list of sweaters that are built into the site on our designs page.

We hope you like the new Maker terms! We’re all really, really excited about CustomFit, the changes we have planned, and are definitely working very hard to make the site even better. Please also know that we’re also a tech startup in our first year, and CustomFit (at this point) is pretty far from being able to pay for itself. This means two things, really: First, thanks for your continued patience and support, and for inviting us along on your sweater journeys. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Second, the best way you can help all of the fun CustomFit improvements happen is to tell others about the site, and become a Maker yourself if you’re so inclined.

*****

Second on the update front: Where’s Amy going to be this fall?

If I’m distracted from updates in general, I’m downright lousy about letting you all know where I’ll be, and when! Here’s a quick list of where I’ll be over the next couple of months:

*****

Third and finally, on the update front: My SSKAL sweater.

Despite plenty of knitting this summer, my poor SSKAL tank has languished!

blog-tank

In fact… even though I’m still really excited about the concept (relaxed fit, casual silk tank with a mesh front), I’m clearly running out of hot, summer days on which to implement this whole wardrobe plan. So I’ve been thinking:

What if I added some sleeves?

I have the yarn, they’ll be quick to whip up in Stockinette, and will give me a piece I can wear further into the coming season. On the other hand, they change my original vision. So I thought I should ask you!

Should I keep the tank as originally envisioned, or make it into a sweater with sleeves? Which would you wear more?

Please leave a comment letting me know which option you’re more excited to see by Thursday August 28. On Friday, August 29, we’ll draw a random number out of a hat and send someone a fall sweater sampler pack:

blog-giveaway-1

This is just a collection of one hank each of a number of different sweater yarns, to play around with. They range from fingering to bulky, include a variety of fibers and constructions, and should offer lots of fun sweater daydreams. Swatch them up and see what you think! Included are one hank each of: Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, Harrisville Designs WATERshed, Shibui linen, Blue Sky Alpacas Techno, Quince and Co Tern, and Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on what I should do with my sweater – and stay tuned later this week to see who won, and my first fall design release!

Go, team!

I tend to think of myself as a fairly cautious, reserved person, in general. I like to observe, think, consider, and weigh options before I act. This summer, when I left my day job, I was taking an exceedingly rash plunge (at least for me). All through the whirlwind of the fall, through the insane launching of (essentially) a tech startup, and the post-launch shrinking of that startup to the teeny-tiniest of teams, and all of the trade shows and classes and CustomFit LYS launches, I subconsciously but steadfastly refused to think about what was actually going on: I was starting a business.

A very very small business, to be sure. But here we are, in 2014, coming up on 6 months since I last sat down at a corporate office desk. And while things are definitely still fledgling and fragile, I’m firmly planning to stay. And, hearing myself say that out loud, it seems past time to officially introduce you to the rest of the AHD team. You’ll be hearing a lot from them – in email, newsletters, here on the blog, in various other places. I want you to know a little more about their awesomeness.

jackie-alpha-8

Jackie: When I first started “getting serious” about this, Jackie had her own small business consulting practice. We met one other through knitting. I knew that before her current gig, she’d worked in big places like Andersen and Bain. So when I started thinking about maybe sort of kind of trying to devote my life to this field, I talked to her first.

I’m so glad I did. Not only is Jackie heart-and-soul instrumental for making all of this actually happen, working with her has given me a whole new perspective on our craft. Her craft experience – so different than mine – has taught me how “modern” knitters learn and explore their craft, what’s out there in terms of resources (and what’s not), what it’s like to decide you want to make things… …and then to go about learning how, with none of the resources I took for granted. Her observations on refining our craft are some of the things I’m most looking forward to sharing with you.

lauren-twinsies-7

Lauren: First and foremost, Lauren is a dedicated sweater knitter. She’s knit tons of them, diving into modification-land with enthusiasm and skill. She also has an infectious laugh, social media and customer support experience, and a history of working within her passions, including running. (I wish I’d known myself half as well when I was in her place in life!) If you’re writing us with a question, chatting us up on Facebook or Twitter, or (heaven forbid) having a problem, you’ll likely talk with Lauren first.

She’s inquisitive, bright, and enthusiastic. She’s so enthusiastic about our craft, so enthusiastic about knitters, and is such a pleasure to work with. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Lauren – and her fabulous sweaters – either in person at events, or electronically. So please, reach out and say hello! (And look forward to a bunch of fabulous sweaters from Lauren in the year to come.)

andromeda-by-molly-color

Andromeda: I’ve known Andromeda since college, and have always been impressed by the breadth and depth of her curiosity. From classics to chemistry to her current passion of library science, Andromeda is interested in everything. I knew she’d recently taken up programming again and was considering consulting, so when we needed a top-notch developer to help us get CustomFit off the ground, and then continue to work with us on a much less intense basis, she was a natural choice. It’s tremendously fun to work with her. Though she won’t be as visibly present here, if something awesome is happening in CustomFit there’s a decent chance it’s because of her excellent work.

So, there’s our team–finally, belatedly introduced. As our fledgeling group grows, we’ll be sure to make proper introductions. And whether here or elsewhere, you’ll be hearing a lot more from all of them. We’re honored that you include us in your own craft journey, and can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store.

Incoming

Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m really excited about 2014. 2013 was such a tumultuous year for our family, one of such massive change. Through it all, I managed to knit rather a lot of sweaters. And now after a lovely few weeks focusing on family and soaking up the time with my kids, we’re all ready to get back to “normal life”.

Of course, I’m sure there are changes lurking in the coming months, too, but for the moment it feels great to just pause, know the shape of the next few months, and dive into a wonderful, woolly pile of work. I love the New Year holiday every year for this reason: Somehow, I always start the year in a place of optimism, hope, and a readiness to dive in.

Naturally, I have a lot of travel coming up. Want to find me? I’ll be here over the next couple of months:

  • Jan 9-14: Winter TNNA show in lovely San Diego (which I will probably not see even a little bit of, so don’t get too jealous!)
  • Jan 16-20: Vogue Knitting Live, NYC
  • Jan 31-Feb 2:The Studio Knitting Retreat
  • Feb 19-24: STITCHES West – we’ll have a CustomFit booth in the marketplace!
  • Feb 28 – March 2: Classes TBA at Windy Knitty in Chicago
  • March 13 – 16: Vogue Knitting Live, Seattle
  • March 23: Stitch House, Dorchester
  • March 31: Iron Horse, Natick
  • April 10-13: STITCHES South – I’m the keynote speaker and will teach all weekend. Hope to see you!
  • April 30 – May 4: TNNA Summer show in Indianapolis
  • May 16-18: AR Fiber Festival
  • June 5-8: Squam!!!

And if you’re going to be any of these places, I’d love to see you. The next book is full-steam-ahead right now, too. Which is exciting in its own chaotic, inspiring, messy way.

book-midway

(Ever wonder what a book looks like, mid-way through? There you go!)

Normally, this would make for a pretty crazy couple of months and you’d see me again in May…

…but I’m going to try to avoid a repeat of last fall and spend more time doing things that recharge my batteries and my creativity. I expect more knitting, more time soaking up great conversations with friends, and more time here on the blog. I’ve missed you all.

One of the by-products of this is that I’m likely to change my pattern releases to be more collection-based rather than one at a time. I think there’s something exciting about the promise of a group of sweaters, and I’m excited to share the first set with you. I think it makes sense to do the same thing with CustomFit Recipe releases. For future sweater collections, there will be an option for a “Recipe collection” at the same time.

In addition, lots of prople have asked about recipes for my previously-published patterns. I’m in the process of creating those now, and will be releasing them in in collections of five pattern “recipes” each.

There will be three sets:

  • Collection 1: Adelina, Ayana, Beacon Hill, Nantasket (both options), Newtowne.
  • Collection 2: Aislinn, Arm Candy, Caulfield (both options), Petrea, Seamair.
  • Collection 3: Alight, Alta, Sebasco, Trimmings (both options), Wintry Mix.
  • The Sebasco Collection will also be available as a recipe collection.

The first is ready for you, and I’m excited to share it!

adelina-9-c-splityarn final (7 of 7) final-05173 nantasket-final-8

final-04736 nantasket-final-13

Please note that this collection is for CustomFit recipes ONLY. You will not get complete pattern instructions, and when you knit the sweaters an additional CustomFit pattern purchase will be required. On the up-side, the recipes give you instructions for creating these sweaters in your gauge, for your body, with no math required.

I hope you like the idea! You can find the e-book in my Ravelry store, and I can’t wait to share a whole new year of sweaters with you.

Intentions, Gratitude, Excitement

We’ve had a great week! Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful responses and conversations on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. You made this year-end social media party a blast.

Last week we asked you to consider your 2014 intentions for your knitting. Here’s what we came up with!

Lauren
Ask any of my knitting friends, and they’ll tell you: I hate 80% of what I knit. I’ve given away more sweaters than many knitters have completed. Here’s my problem: I get too excited about what sweater I want to knit next! Rather than taking the time to think things through and really plan my sweaters, I jump into something that, halfway through, I realize I never would have worn anyway (striped orange pullover … I’m looking at you). In 2014 I intend to be more thoughtful and take more time considering what my options are, and not choose arbitrarily based on which pattern is popular or what needles I have free.

Jackie
I’ve become so much more aware of how my clothes make me feel over this past year. I save the 20% of my wardrobe that I love for special occasions, and reserve my utilitarian wares for everyday living. But I don’t feel as good in my “everyday” clothes … they don’t fit as well, they don’t feel as good, and they don’t really represent who I am. (I shouldn’t cringe inside if I run into a fellow parent at the grocery on days when I don’t “see” anyone, right?) My intention is to make pieces that I’m happy to wear on any given day, and that make me feel great doing so. And since that’s a bit subjective, I’ll add that my specific, measurable goal is 1 sweater each month for 2014.

Amy
Working in a formal corporate environment, when combined with a modest clothing budget, means that your wardrobe tends to get fairly limited. I have suiting separates in somber colors, and some fun layering pieces, and jeans and t-shirts that I wear when I take care of the kids. When I left said corporate environment, I thought to myself: “I can dress how I want, now. How exciting!”

…and I haven’t really lived up to that opportunity and promise. I got a few pieces that I truly love, this fall, but they’ve mostly sat in my closet. Instead, I’m wearing (you guessed it) jeans and t-shirts most days. In 2014, I really want to change that. I love clothes, I love changing the way I think with some gorgeous sets of colors and a swishy bit of this or that.So in 2014 I want to take my hand-knits, and my purchased clothes, and really have fun with my own personal style.

*****

(Amy here.) I wanted to take a moment, at the end of 2013, to express my sincere thanks for all of you who are here, reading, and coming along on this journey with us. You all mean so much to our team, and we can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

I’m especially excited at all of the sweater buzz happening now that the holidays are over – here, in Ravelry, on Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook. (And yes, Lauren has convinced me to expand my curmudgeonly ways and now I’ll be trying hard to join the make wear love team and have some fun on Instagram, too.) So it felt fitting and right to end this year with a celebratory little pattern release. Something that helps me meet my own intentions for 2014, and maybe something that will inspire you too.

moscato-finals-1

Moscato is a simple pullover with a few playful special touches. (If you want to know more about the knitting, sizing, or other technical details of Moscato, you can find them all on its pattern page, here.)

It came about because of that skirt, actually. It’s exactly the kind of thing I want to spend more time wearing. I love skirts, because they are comfortable and a little flirty and they make my legs look longer. And (though this would surprise the heck out of teenaged goth-Amy) I love color. So when this skirt went on sale a couple of years ago I jumped on the chance and clicked “add to cart”…

…and then didn’t really wear it. It always seemed a little too bright. A little out of phase with my life. Eventually I decided I’d make a sweater, just for that skirt. Something fun, with a drapey bit of neckline, that made me smile as much as the skirt does. I’m such a button freak, I thought it would be nice to have an excuse to put a bunch of buttons on a pullover. I chose one of my very favorite yarns, in a very favorite color that would go well with the skirt, and had some fun playing around.

And here it is. I love it. This outfit makes me feel like I’m a different person, for a little while. Someone who goes to cocktail parties and dresses up to go to the art museum. Someone whose life has a little less laundry.

moscato-finals-4 moscato-finals-2 moscato-finals-3

Happy New Year!

Holidaze

Christmas is almost upon us, which probably means your needles are frantically flying through your last gift (or three). How are your projects coming? (Hint: If that question makes you groan, you still have plenty of time to give someone CustomFit gift certificates. Even if that someone is yourself!)

Personally, I’m considering giving away my Noanet Peak set instead of keeping it all for myself. There is never much holiday knitting around these parts–a side effect of being busy with designs–and that’s especially true this year. I have been traveling an utterly insane amount (I was away from home for 3/4 of November and early December) and kicking into high gear on the next book at the same time.

So most of my knitting looks like this these days:

photo

(These will hopefully be sweaters and swatches by the time I’m done with this trip.)

Thankfully, this set of projects is being completed on a different sort of trip. Back in September, when Jackie and I were planning out the fall and finally realizing exactly how crazy and intense the next year was going to be (in the best sort of way), we decided that when the holidays arrived, we would pause. Take a break. Spend time with our families. Remind ourselves what’s really important in this world. (In addition to the cashmere-silk blend, I mean.)

So that’s where we’ll be over the next couple of weeks. With our families, recovering from the insanity of birthing CustomFit and taking a deep breath before the winter/spring work travel starts, immersing ourselves in all that is important in this world. We’re still answering questions as we can (along with Lauren, we are the company at this point, after all)…

…but things might take a little longer than usual. If that winds up being the case for you, we ask for your patience and understanding, as we spend the season snuggling our kids and recharging our families. We can’t wait to share 2014 with you.

On knitting, gifts, and love.

I love the holidays for so many reasons. I adore the celebrations. The time with my family is the most precious thing in the world to me. I’m a huge fan of winter, and love the twinkly lights and evergreen smells that abound. There’s no better time to pull up with a warm mug of tea and some great wool.

But most of all, I love the gifts. I come from a family of gift-givers. There was very little to spare, when I was growing up, but we were constantly giving one another little gifts that we’d made, all the same – cards, little poems, bits of this and that we’d created with our hands.

At a very young age, I came to appreciate and understand what we’re truly doing, when we create something for someone else: We’re giving them the gift of love. We’re taking the wonderful feelings we have for that person and looping them through one another, creating an unbroken cloth of warmth and coziness. We’re giving time, and care, and thought, and love. It’s an incredible, powerful set of gifts for a person.

And when those gifts also happen to serve the purpose of keeping us warm on a blustery day? Well. There’s nothin’ better.

noanet-peak-finals-smaller-1

And if you’re in the mood for a last-minute holiday gift of warmth and love, I hope you find this hat/mitt set helpful.

The Noanet Peak set knits up quickly, is cozy warm, and has kicky stripes to keep you interested…

…while being easy enough to knit when you’ve got other things on your mind. It’s available in my Ravelry Store for US $5.00 or by clicking here:

Noanet Peak is worked in Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance, in Rosehip (MC) with Ceylon, Cream, Cappuccino, and Chai accents.

noanet-peak-finals-smaller-5

All pieces are constructed in the round, and offer a great way to use up small amounts of very special yarn. It’s also part of the Back Roads & Brownstones series of patterns that the wonderful Kirsten Kapur and I have been working on. (Wait till you see her final sweater!)

back-roads-logo

The hat and mitts are both intended to be just a little slouchy, just a little broken-in in feeling. They should give you a hug, rather than stretch sleekly over your skin. I wanted the fingerless mitts, in particular, to feel like legwarmers, but for your arms – so they’re shaped, with a long, slightly-slouched length.

noanet-peak-finals-smaller-2

I can’t say enough lovely things about the yarn. The Alpaca Elegance is soft, and ever-so-slightly fuzzy, and comes in a wonderful palette of colors. Can you imagine these in a lighter main color, with ombre stripes? Greens and browns? That beautiful blue, with red and tan accents?

noanet-peak-finals-smaller-3

All pieces are constructed in the round, and offer a great way to use up small amounts of very special yarn. And whoever you’re knitting for, they’re sure to be cozy and warm when they wear your gift. I’m thinking of making a couple of sets, this year.

Reflections

Thanksgiving is a reflective holiday for me even in a good year, and doubly so as we’re celebrating our first holiday without my father. So like always, I’m knitting. And thinking.

I’m so glad you like Morning Coffee, and I’ve been knitting like a fiend, lining up a bunch more:

courant-for-alison-5

reflection-1

But today, I want to take a few minutes and reflect. I’m in a small island of stillness, right now: The last 6 months are over, the next 6 months likely won’t get crazy for a few weeks yet, even if we’re supremely lucky. 2013 has been intensely surreal, as years go:

  • In March, I was looking ahead to the book release, and wondering if there was any way at all to eventually be able to pursue my passions full-time. Jackie and I first started talking about what that might look like. I thought perhaps, in a year or two, it might work.
  • In April, Knit to Flatterwas released. Nearly 3 years after we’d started the project, Jonathan and I finished the rough implementation of the first CustomFit Elf and I started guesstimating mid-fall as a possible release date for the site.
  • By June, I created a rough set of wireframes to show around at the TNNA summer show. Everyone we showed was enthusiastic, and on the plane ride home Jackie and I talked seriously both about what it would take to get CustomFit live, and whether I might be able to pursue this full-time around January of 2014. I think we both knew, at that point, that managing the rest of the CustomFit release was unlikely to play well with my other career.
  • In July, my father passed away, and like many tragic events it was somewhat crystallizing for me. What am I here for, if not to pursue the things I love? We stepped up our planning and got a temporary team (and the resources!) in place that would carry us through the site’s launch.
  • August and September were this intensely wonderful mad rush. I left my day job. We were able to get a good-sized team of people working on the launch, if not full-time then at least a little every day. The sweaters produced by our amazing beta testers were wonderful. We identified problems, and fixed them, and generally hurled ourselves full-speed to launch.
  • Just six weeks ago, CustomFit went live to everyone. The amazing programmers behind-the-scenes melted away a bit (as expected) to their own day jobs and other projects. We’re now a much smaller, very part-time crew that (a) we can afford and (b) can take care of the few bugs and issues inevitable in any software project of this size.

I packed my fall schedule to the brim with classes, trips, CustomFit LYS trainings, and such. It’s been a whirlwind, and fun, and very unlike my previous job. My whole life looks so different than it did 6 months ago. (Both in the awesome way, and in the terrifying way. We’re far from out of the woods, yet.)

The next 6 months promise to be just as strange.

A quiet, industrious time, as I knit like the wind for the next book, and keep up pattern releases and preparation for the new year and a return to teaching.

Early next year (with luck), a business that’s strong enough to hire a programmer, so that we can go beyond (bare-knuckled) maintenance and create new CustomFit elves, so that everyone’s sweaters are as fantastic as possible. Shows (I’ll be at Vogue Knitting Live NYC and Seattle, and STITCHES West and South), travel, new features on the site, finishing the book, and sweaters, sweaters, sweaters. On the personal crafting front, I have high hopes for sewing and crochet.

I don’t have any idea where I’ll be in 6 months, really. Not just because nobody never truly knows where they’ll be, but also because so much of where I’m going depends on others. I can imagine all kinds of exciting things, and fervently hope that our fledgling little enterprise grows strong enough to allow me to throw myself at them with open arms.

I do know that despite the hardship and the fear and the sadness the last 6 months have held, they’ve also held intense joy, and purpose, and a greater sense of rightness with my world than I’ve ever had before. I’m thankful for that, in the here and now.

kal-sweater-1

And whatever the outcome, I’ll keep on knitting.

If you’re in the US, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. And I wish all of you some quiet happiness with your needles, the chance to pause with your thoughts, before rushing onward into the season.