Thursday, May 31, 2012

Garter Stitch - A Love Story

Different Lines by Veera Valimaki - An asymmetric garter st shawl

Garter St - the quintessential beginner stitch.  When we first learn to knit, garter st is where it's at for most of us.  Our knitting instructors, grandmas, moms, aunts, or friends hand us 2 straight needles, some horrible worsted weight yarn, and teach us to perform the most basic of all stitches, the knit stitch.  So enamored are we with the knit stitch, that we practice and practice by (oftentimes) knitting several rectangular, flat pieces in just the knit stitch.  As we become familiar with tension, gauge, and keeping st count, we create numerous, if not oddly shaped, garter st items.  (For those of you new to knitting: garter st is when you knit every st in every row in a flat piece of knitting.)

Transverse Shawlette by Wendy D. Johnson - a garter st shawl with lace border

But because we are eager to learn, young, and naive in our knitting, we quickly cast aside the garter st to upgrade to the very saucy, stockinette st.  It's not long after that, we believe a Herbert Niebling design will likely be next.  ;)  We peruse Ravelry and see lace, cables, entrelac, and more... and then it becomes inevitable (we believe at the time) that we've outgrown the childish garter st.

Wingspan by Maylin Tri'Coterie Designs - a garter st shawl knit in short rows

This was the case for me. In my haste to show my knitting chops, I cabled, knit up Nieblings, tackled entrelac, and made socks - never looking back and certainly never knitting that horrid, toddler st, the garter st.  Then one day, I was browsing the online book store and saw Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knit One Knit All, a book chalk full of knitwear designs, all in garter st. I felt my face squish up as if I was talking aloud to EZ and saying, Elizabeth! Garter st?  Aren't we past this?  You, certainly, are beyond garter st!  I listened in disbelief as knitting podcasters and bloggers hailed the book as another EZ masterpiece.  All I could think at the time was, What the hell are these knitters thinking?  They must certainly be the kind of knitters who enjoy cheap acrylic. Why would anyone knit such a simple, ugly stitch on purpose?!

Rustic Autumn Shawl by Karrie Steinmetz - a garter st triangular shawl with diagonal rib

It wasn't until about a year later when I needed to knit a simple gift for someone, that I picked up my needles and knit a garter st washcloth.  I figured the recipient wasn't a knitter and wouldn't know the difference, wouldn't know that it's the easiest of all stitches.  I also figured that since it was such a small item, I wouldn't get too bored with knitting garter st.  Then I started knitting and something happened. My snobbery of garter st disappeared.  As I sat one lazy afternoon on my porch, washcloth in hand, something occurred to me - I like garter st.  Perhaps it's the simplicity that I admire so.  The simple act of sitting, meditatively, knitting in the same motion over and over again, nickel-plated needles click-click-clicking in a rhythmic unison with the movements.. Or perhaps it was the simple discovery of the beauty of the stitch.  It's simple, textured  appearance is rustic, but not sloppy.  The fabric has tremendous potential for stretch and bounce.  And there is a certain beauty in the landscape it creates. Although it could be any one of these, I suspect it was the combination of all of these things that transformed my opinion of garter st.

Crosswords at the Coffee Shop by Karrie Steinmetz - a garter st crescent shawl with lace and garter border

Today, I am enamored with garter st.  I don't feel the need to knit Nieblings for every project or involve myself in intricate patterns to show my knitting chops.  I knit for peace, tranquility, relaxation, and fun.  Does that mean I only knit garter st now?  Heck no.  But I dearly love it.  I think coming full circle from excited about garter st, to sick of garter st, to hating garter st, back to loving garter st is proof of my growing as a knitter.  And like all things I've learned in knitting, growth is good for the soul and certainly for shawls! ;)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Home is Where the Yarn Is

It's official!  The KPG fam is moving to Southern Vermont! I'm sure you all have noticed that I've been notably absent from the Rav group and podcasting.  My blogging and social media have waned as well.  Well, this is one of the reasons (along with a death in the family).

Hubby accepted a wonderful position with a pretty terrific company in VT!  Last weekend we toured the area to scout out neighborhoods.  And although we could've lived in Mass. or NH as well, we chose VT because of their NUMBER 1 Ranking in the US for Developmental Disability Services (ie.. our son's Autism).  If we thought PA has been great, VT will blow us away in terms of special education and (free)health services for our son. In fact, the school our son will attend is SO pro-active, we've already begun the process of them reviewing his IEP (even though we haven't officially moved yet - they are on top of things!).

Also, DH is in love with the company he'll be working for.  He knows many of his future co-workers already from the industry and is very excited to join the team!  And I'm excited for him!

As for me - I'll go wherever DH goes. :)  Home is where the heart is.  And certainly, home will be wherever the yarn is. ;)  Now it's time to scout out the local knitting scene!!! :)

So hang on, loyal KPG fans!  I'll be back to socializing online and podcasting this fall when all of the dust has settled and the kiddos are in school.  I'm excited to come back to podcasting and look forward to it!!

Knit On!


Monday, May 28, 2012

FO: Clownin' Around Socks

Who says airplane travel has to be boring?  While sitting in airports and on the planes, I finally completed my Clownin' Around Socks!  I used Wendy D. Johnson's Gusset Heel Basic Sock for this pattern.  As stated previously, I nixed the ribbing at the top of the socks and did a picot bind off instead.  I used Three Little Crows Fibre Arts' Crazy Stripes Sock Yarn in Clownin' Around colorway on a 40" Circ, US Size 1 (Magic Loop - one at a time).  These fit like a glove and are so super cute!  I love them! 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Update: Ben's Outlet

In my last post, I ranted about my disappointment with my laptop dock order with Ben's Outlet.  Since writing that post, the social media team over at Ben's Outlet took up my cause and talked to the CSR in charge of my case.  It took a little doing, but they were able to resolve the issue for me.  I got an email today from Ben's Outlet to let me know that they've located a laptop dock and were shipping it overnight to me.  I just checked my tracking number and the item is, indeed, on it's way here!

I wanted to be sure to update you all so that you know that Ben's Outlet Social Media team worked hard to make sure the problem was resolved and satisfactorily so.  I'm so glad they did.  Companies could ignore a single consumer's complaints, but Ben's Outlet decided to take my complaint seriously and work out a solution!

I'll be sure to post pics of my laptop doc when it gets here!!

UPDATE 5/22/12:
My Laptop Dock arrived bright and early this morning, as promised!!  In fact, I'm typing this update on it right now!  Thank you, Ben's Outlet for taking care of this issue for me! :) 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Not a Happy Consumer

What is it with these larger companies?  They have completely killed customer-driven business.  You all read what a horrible time I had with Dell and their outsourced customer service.  Today, I have 2 more companies I'd like to rant about.

First up: Ben's Outlet
I have a Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon).  When I bought the phone last October, I had the option of buying the laptop dock accessory for an additional $300.  I turned it down.  I wasn't about to pay $300 for a laptop dock, when for $300 I could buy a laptop!  Well recently, Ben's Outlet was offering Moto Droid Bionic Laptop Docks for $79 and then again for $89.  At that price, hubby told me to pick one up.  I missed out on the $79 sale. They were sold out before I could get one.  So when they went on sale for $89, I nabbed one. I received an email stating that my item had shipped.  The email included the UPS tracking number. I kept checking the tracking number and UPS continued to report that while a number had been created for the package, they had not received the package yet.  After a week of getting this same message from UPS, I tweeted about the odd delay on Twitter @Ben'sOutlet. Their social media department contacted me via DM and took down my order # to check on it.  A few days later, a customer service rep contacted me to let me know that their warehouse was behind and that I'd have to wait a little longer.  A few days passed & I tweeted again. Ben's Outlet SM Dept. DM'd me again for my order # and assured me that they would check on it. A customer service rep contacted me and said that they were updating their warehouse and that was the reason for the delay.  A few hours later, the same customer service rep refunded my money via paypal and contacted me to say my item was lost in transit and there was no way they could replace the item since they don't routinely stock the item.  I will never shop there again.

Next: Verizon Wireless
I've been a Verizon Wireless customer for well over 10 years.  About a year ago, Verizon announced that they would no longer provide loyalty discounts to their customers.  So those of us extremely loyal customers would no longer get a discount on buying a phone with new contract. Then Verizon Wireless did away with unlimited data plans, but assured us loyal users, that we'd be grandfathered in and our unlimited data plans would remain intact. NOW Verizon Wireless has announced that those of us who were grandfathered in will be forced into a data share plan - having to share our data usage with our family and pay for a limited amount of data.  Bad form, Verizon.  You have no more carrots to hang in front of loyal customers like myself.  With the onslaught of large carriers and small carriers alike, I can take my business elsewhere if there is absolutely no incentive for me to stay with you.  And while big name phones used to keep customers coming back to their fave carriers, that is no longer the case.  Most manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, and Apple have begun to offer their phones to all carriers.  HTC and Motorola just rename their devices depending on the carrier.  And with the news that many manufacturers may get in on the Nexus craze, tech-savvy consumers don't have to be loyal anymore.

Bottom line: my pennies are precious. Consumer loyalty is at an all-time low because companies just don't care to cater to the consumer any longer.  They outsource. They cheapen products and services. And they don't reward those who continue to patronize their establishments.  It's time that those of us with a voice speak out.

And to Ben's Outlet, Verizon Wireless, and Dell: you could learn a thing or two about how to treat your customers from small businesses.  You could take a page from the sellers on Etsy.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Sock HO


As the Stockinette Zombies say, I have a HO!  (Half-finished Object)  This is a vanilla sock (my absolutely favorite socks to knit), meaning it's a plain, stockinette st sock.  It was knit toe-up, using Wendy D. Johnson's pattern, Gusset Heel Basic Socks, from her book, Socks From the Toe Up. It's knit using Magic Loop on a US Size 1, 40" Circ.  I've knit it in Three Little Crows Crazy Stripes Sock Yarn, Clownin' Around colorway. 


I followed Wendy's pattern until it said to rib the last inch. I omitted the ribbing and used a 2-st Picot BO instead.  I thought given the fun, funky colors of this sock, a cute edging would be appropriate.  As you can see, the sock is not blocked (nor the Picot BO) and the ends aren't yet woven in (I don't weave in ends until BOTH socks are completed).

To do the Picot BO: *CO 2 st using the Knitted CO, K2, BO 4, slip the st from the right-hand needle back onto the left hand needle*   Repeat between the asterisks until all st have been BO.


'Nothing to Sneeze At' Promo

UGH! Allergy season is upon us.  I awoke this morning sneezing and sneezing. 'Though I take allergy medicine year 'round, it's not enough to ward off the horrible allergy season we're having. 'Know what makes me feel better? Buying myself a new pattern!  So I got to thinking, maybe I'll give y'all a promo code to take 20% off of any of my shawl patterns!

Take 20% off any of my shawl patterns 5/14/12 - 5/21/12 11:59p EDT. Limit (1) per person. Only new purchases apply. Discount good at my Ravelry Store only.  Use coupon code: SNEEZE20


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Discount!

TODAY ONLY - 50% any of my shawl designs (on Ravelry only) in celebration of Mother's Day. This discount only applies to new purchases, limit (1) per customer.  Use coupon code: KPGMOM to receive your discount.  Promotion ends 5/13/12 at 11:59p Eastern Daylight Time!!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just keep learning..

Alrighty - y'all know I've been taking the Craftsy Tunisian Crochet Class with instructor, Jennifer Hansen. Well, I completed 2 plain Tunisian Spa cloths and (1) 3-color Tunisian Spa Cloth. Now I'm starting the Tunisian Multi-Garment. This is a challenging project for me given my slow progress with crochet in general. Thankfully, despite (me) having many brainless moments, Jennifer Hansen has been very patient and quick to answer my questions. I dare say she may be sick of hearing from me. ;p

In her garment, she is using a gorgeous silk. Here I'm using Berroco Vintage DK in Mochi, Cracked Pepper, Cast Iron, and Sour Cherry colorways and an extended Tunisian Crochet Hook, US Size K. I just finished Row 7 and started the forward pass of Row 8. I need to rip the FP of Row 8 back because I'm off 1 stitch.  But so far, this project is very enjoyable. I'm learning SO, SO much!  If ever you wanted to learn Tunisian Crochet - TAKE THIS CLASS!  (I'm not a paid spokesperson for Craftsy, FYI.)

I hope to get a few more rows done today. I can see how this project will be addictive. Already I want to move on to the next row to see how it's shaping up. You can't tell much from my picture, but once blocked, the fabric won't be dense. Silk really shows off the drappiness, but I didn't want to shell out the cash for 7 skeins of fine silk until I knew if I'd like Tunisian Crochet and could do it or not. If this project turns out well, I'll likely make another in silk.

Hook on - and just keep learning!

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