Monthly Archives

December 2015

Knit In the New Year

Knit in the Near Year!

It has been such a crazy, busy, fantastic year! I am equal parts saddened that the year is (nearly) over and giddy, brimming with dreams for the New Year, now just days away.

Here’s the kicker: I totally forgot to grab champagne at the grocery store this afternoon!

Mercy!

This wouldn’t be a big deal for most people, but I live in the middle of nowhere. The grocery store is an hour away! It is a catastrophe of epic proportions, not unlike running out of yarn in the final rows of a sweater that took eight months to knit.

Sigh.

I tried so hard to squeeze the life out of each day this year. Some days I did better than others. I tried to knit as much as I possibly could, and I learned a lot in the process (about both knitting and blogging). So many great projects came off my needles, from baby hats to sweaters, some of which didn’t exactly fit.

Of course so much of my year had little to do with knitting and much more to do with parenting, gardening, working, and plain ol’ housework and grocery shopping. Aw, the toils of the modern woman.

The end of the year is always a bittersweet time, when I am able to reflect on the past year and take stock. Acknowledging all that I achieved. Treasuring adventures. Accomplishments. My growing (talking, thinking, willful) child. But I also can’t help but feel a twinge of sorrow at all I had hoped for myself but didn’t quite manage. I was distracted. Or tired. Maybe there just simply wasn’t enough time.

How can a whole year not be enough time?

I will put those things on the top of the list for next year. At least as best as I possibly can.

I did manage to release four designs this year, all of which I really love. I have to admit the Twist Shawl is my favorite. I had hoped to finish many, many more designs, but gift knitting and selfish knitting (Can knitting really ever be considered selfish? I don’t think so…) got in the way. Not to mention all the socks.

And the need to sleep.

2015 was a beautiful year. So many stitches (but of course never enough). A few tears. Lots of laughter. In the end, I am blessed. I am healthy. My family is healthy. And I have a reasonable stockpile of yarn, in case of emergency. There’s not much more I could ask for.

Wishing you the happiest of New Year’s!

Andrea

 

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams. Reading a little Yarn Harlot on the side.

Blueberry Waffle Socks (Pair No. 4)

Free Blueberry Waffle sock pattern. Off the needles. The last of the holiday knitting. My fourth pair of Blueberry Waffle socks. Even though I technically haven’t finished Pair Number Two.

Our little secret.

I used Madelinetosh Sock in Chicory. One of my favorite colorways (THE favorite Mad Tosh colorway yet, quite possibly). One could get lost in the rich purple-blue-grey depths. Very tonal. (I like that word: tonal. It has a nice sound to it.)

I was tempted to hoard these babies for myself. I really loved them, and I knit my soul into each sock, stitching frantically to finish for Christmas giving. It was close, and I whimpered a bit as I wrapped them. (The way a mother mourns when she sends her first child off to school.) I had made them longer than my own (itty bitty) feet, so they would have been too big for me.

Keep them, I could not.

I am going to take a rest from sock knitting for a while (i. e., two days). I was up to the wee hours swatching a new cowl, giddy with the ease of worsted weight yarn and 4.5 mm (size 7) needles. A welcomed change. All seems possible. The (knitting) world is my oyster.

With holiday knitting finished, I am bursting with new ideas for fresh projects, motivated to finish old projects, and generally just itching to knit something exciting and different. Break the mold. Be brave.

Using anything other than sock weight, that is.

Merry Merry

image image imageA rare treat for Gardening Zone 8 this year: snow! Apparently we can grow subtropical fruit and enjoy a white Christmas, too.

I managed to finish two out of three stockings…final sock still in progress. I haven’t quite lost my mind yet, so all is well.

Wishing  you all the brightest of holidays, full of fresh yarn, new needles, ideas to the brim, and more!

Merry Christmas,

Andrea

Free Blueberry Waffle sock pattern. I love!!!

 

 

Blueberry Waffle Socks (Pair No. 3)

 

 

I have been knitting so many itty bitty sock stitches of late that I think I have officially lost my mind. As in, I drove away from the grocery store in the middle of a full blown mother-toddler meltdown (it was ugly) with my wallet flying!!!! off the top of my car*.

I am frazzled. Frayed. Nearing the end of my holiday knitting marathon.

I may make it over the finish line. Barely. But it won’t be pretty.

This will be me: wavering to the finish line, like a drunk zombie, foaming at the mouth, stumbling those final steps, before I crumble to the ground and clutch my knees in relief/agony/insanity.

Or, you’ll have to drag me out of a muddy ditch along the final mile, clutching my needles, wrapped in yarn, mumbling gibberish.

It could happen.

In the meantime, there is this: NEVER AGAIN.

No more holiday knits using sock weight yarn. And definitely no lace weight. I made that mistake once before. The recipient received her Christmas gift for Valentine’s Day that year.

Hey, it happens.
Free Blueberry Waffle sock pattern. Perfect beginner (or expert) sock knit!

On the bright side…

Blueberry Waffle socks (Pair No. 3) are officially off the needles. Ends woven. Gift wrap awaiting. Destined for my mother. I can only hope they fit.

This is the third time I have used this free pattern (which has it’s own hashtag on Instagram no less). The pattern works for me. I have it memorized and know what to expect, at least when I knit with Madelinetosh Sock. I used the Thyme colorway, ordered online. For me, it was on the boring side of what I usually get from a Madelinetosh colorway…very subtle variation.

Free Blueberry Waffle sock pattern. Perfect beginner (or expert) sock knit!

The first sock of Blueberry Waffle No. 4 is also complete (destined for my aunt), but a mate is still needed. This means I have two days to knit a sock.

Heaven help me..

 

*I didn’t notice until much later when I couldn’t find it anywhere…then remembered. A good citizen returned it to the post office the next day…joys of small town living!

 

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams. Reading nothing. Just knitting.

My 2016 Knitting Bucket List of Must-Knits!

My 2016 knitting bucket list

As I wrap up my final stitches on my holiday knits, I promise myself I will never knit socks for Christmas gifts again amidst a barrage of under-breath-muttered profanity, tense neck muscles, and dark thoughts, calmly allow my mind to wander to the future with poise and patience not unlike a Buddhist monk. My next knitting chapter. The 2016 chapter. AKA the chapter where everything goes perfectly, not a stitch is dropped, nothing is frogged, and finished knits fly off my needles like chocolate flies into my mouth.

It will be perfect.

(Queue angels harking, thank you very much.)

Oh, and yarn companies will discover how fabulous I am and suddenly started sending me unsolicited, free yarn of the to-die-for variety. It will start appearing in droves in my post office box. We will have to build a climate-controlled addition to our house just to store it all.

Hey, a girl can hope.

In all seriousness, this is my 2016 Knitting Bucket List:

Finish What I Started in 2015

This includes the mate for my too-small blueberry waffle socks (pair Number Two), finishing my Waterlily Tee, and knitting the final installment from my 2015 Must-Knit list before moths eat the yarn I purchased especially for the project.

True, this will probably take me through the end of March. Apparently I am going nowhere in a hurry.

Ponchos

I must have been abducted by aliens and then returned to Earth in an altered state because I suddenly want a poncho. And not because they are seriously everywhere. That’s just a coincidence. I think.

I even tried one on at Target a couple months back but it was HUGE despite being (mis)labeled as a size small. So yes, suddenly I feel inspired to walk around in a knitted sack. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to the cause (one of my more active boards, no less).  My only strife will be to decide WHICH ONE to knit!!! I also see some design work in the future for ponchos. I aspire to come up with a pattern that works for petite frames (and others) so I can ware a (soft, fluffy, sexy) sack but not a sheet.

Tunics

Related to my new wardrobe inclinations for pieces that are comfy, tunic patterns have also been catching my eye of late. Like a sweater. But longer. More stitches, yes. But…you can wear them with leggings, which have an elastic waist and thus do not complain when you ate too many chocolate brownies paired with too much Merlot. I have been pinning all lots of tunics to my Sweaters and Tops board.

Knit a Second Kitty’s Chemise (In the Correct Size)

I really liked the pattern for my Kitty’s Chemise. It used worsted weight yarn and thus knit up quick. Mine came out too small (unless I loose ten pounds, but…cough cough…let’s be honest: that’s not happening. Why diet and exercise when I can just knit a new one in the proper size?

Colorwork

This is a big one. I haven’t done any colorwork. None. At least none that I can remember. It’s time to put on my big girl knitting needles and Be Brave. I can do it.

A Toddler Sweater

I figure if I felt like Mom-of-the-Year for knitting Reed toddler socks, I will surely feel like Mom-of-the-Universe if I manage to knit him a toddler sweater. Basically I want to knit him one of every sweater in the Knittin Little Winter Collection. But I will probably pick just one. Although I might Be Brave and combine the project with my colorwork aspirations: colorwork toddler sweater. Ta-da!

Although this will inevitably lead to even more foul language when I botch the whole thing, failing on two counts. In the meantime, I will try to avoid self-deprecating thoughts and hope for the best. Stay positive, right?

Knit Everything in Home & Away

I promise to prattle on about this more another day.

But.

I want to knit pretty much every pattern in Hannah Fettig’s  Home & Away: Knits for Everyday Adventures. Every. Stinking. Pattern.

home & away

For me, this is an ambitious list. REALLY AMBITIOUS. Especially on top of all the design work I aspire to complete. Not to mention all of the projects I will end up knitting that aren’t even on my list (yet!). I know they are out there.

Better to be ambitious and fall short then aimless and…well…aimless. Yes, my year will likely be filled with profanity, tears, and too much wine as a result. There’s worse things (sheep plague, moths, actual illness, poverty…).

I think I will be okay.

What’s on your knitting bucket list for the New Year?

On Winter

I know winter isn’t technically here yet (really?!?), but it feels like it is here. I can tell when it is time to get up at 7:00 because the light finally starts peaking through the curtains. Just barely. Mornings feel slower, unless it’s a school/work day. There’s just no hurry to get up and go outside. All that California drought weather the past two winters had me so spoiled. Now, like normal, it rains for days. On these dark, short days, the time just….well, it just goes.

I don’t think Reed even stepped so much as a toe outside from for three solid days. Too wet. Too cold. Ick.

Instead, we pass our time playing Play-Doh next to the tree, building with Legos, doing puzzles, making art projects (and associated messes) of all kinds, and reading. Always reading. Plus a few cartoons sprinkled in the mix. And yes, I knit.

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I have been fortunate to sneak in knitting time whenever possible. Reed has been skipping naps more often, shifting my knitting time from mid-afternoon when he used to nap to night time, after an early bed time.

I managed to knit a solid six inches on my second holiday stocking while he was awake the other day. It was a miracle. Thank goodness for bulky yarn. I adorned the top of the first stocking with a bit of impromptu gold-threaded embroidery and quickly decided I will stick with knitting, thank you very much. I didn’t feel too bad about it though. Holiday stockings are as forgiving a project as a knitting endeavor could ever be. At least that is what I tell myself.

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With all the cold weather, Reed has been tolerating his knitted hat more and more. I think it is getting a bit small. His brain seems to be growing, as evidenced by the litany of questions that he continuously flings my way. Where does the sun go in the winter? Can we make cookies? What is ice?

To be honest, I think I mind winter less as a mother than I did before having a child. Even though I still mutter profanity every time I dash outside to care for the chickens, change a load of laundry, or some other such outdoor chore (I just can’t help it), I don’t mind being cooped up with my child. We have fun. Time flies. At least on most days.

I know brighter skies will be here soon enough, (I reserve the right to have a different opinion on this matter in late March when it is still raining!).

This does not, however, stop from my habit of Googling daily highs in warmer climates. Just in case. (Today in Palm Springs, 70 F. San Diego 62F. Hilo, Hawaii 74 F. In case you were wondering.)

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In the meantime, I am preparing to make (and give away!!!) holiday cookies for the first time ever. I won’t disclose here the inordinate amount of time I spent on Amazon selecting cookie cutters and coordinating sprinkles. Now all that’s left is researching recipes for soft-not-crispy gingerbread and sugar cookie dough. Perhaps icing as well. Why not? When we’re done with the cookies, I know Reed will have hours of fun rolling and cutting Play-Dough cookies, too.

Who wouldn’t.

Ten Knitting Lessons I Learned This Year (The Hard Way, Of Course)

Ten knitting lessons I learned the hard way.

As Christmas inches closer, I am madly trying to finish up some socks. Meanwhile, I have been thinking about all the valuable knitting lessons I have stumbled upon this past year.

To learn about knitting is to learn about the universe. We are the astronomers of wool (and other fibers). We owe the world our exploration. Our dedication. Our obsession. These are the TOP TEN knitting lessons I learned this year:

Practice Makes Perfect

Knit. Often. Practice makes perfect. (Practice just leads to more mistakes.) Athletes practice their sport. Linguists practice their languages. Knitters must also practice to improve. This is what I tell myself when I am compulsively sneaking in a few rounds of something or other during toddler bathtime: I am a athlete knitter, and I am training. Lots of training will lead to better knitting. Already I have found this to be true. This year alone I have learned new skills and techniques: grafting, sock knitting, the secret to counting large numbers of stitches, and how to be mindful of my gauge, among other important lessons.

Don’t Panic

It’s going to be okay. Knitting disasters happen. Often. For example, I learned how not to jump off a bridge when the lace yoke you spent weeks knitting explodes mid-three needle bind off (hint: Xanax).

How to Seam a Sweater

Or, how (not) to seam a sweater (hint: maintain sobriety and avoid water).

Watch Out for Yarns That Don’t Stretch

I also learned that linen yarn, like cotton, hurts my hands. Knit slowly. Pace yourself. If you end up with aching, sore, inflamed wrists and hands, you will be screwed. For a long time. Avoid knitting injuries at all costs. Even if someone else has to do the dishes while you “rest.”

Knit Around (Yes, That is a Sexual Innuendo…)

All that business about knitting slow with linen led me, for the first time ever, to knit more than one project at a time. Yep. My knitting monogamy flew out the window. It was amazing how quickly I transformed from a knitter with One Project At a Time to a knitter with tops, socks, and shawls all on various needles at the same time. It basically took a week. Maybe less.

Think Before You Begin

I learned the hard way when knitting a top or sweater, carefully select the size before you begin. Otherwise, even if you block aggressively, it will turn out too small. Don’t pick the size you wish you were (small). Pick the size you really are (large, in my case).

Sometimes Things Break

Watch out for broken needles. It happens. Always have spares. Always. Would you own just one fork? Of course not. (This leads me to a brilliant thought: maybe I can relocate my silverware and instead store my double pointed needles and other CRITICALLY VALUABLE NOTIONS in the silverware sorter drawer? Now, where should I put the forks and spoons? Under the sink perhaps?)

Sock Knitting is Pretty Awesome. Try it!

I like to knit socks. Who knew!  And, all that grafting of the final 16 or so stitches finally enable me to memorize How to Graft without having to rewatch a You Tube video every single stinking time.

Always Keep Your Knitting in a Safe Place (Locked with a Dead Bolt)

Never leave your knitting in an unlocked vehicle. You will fret over knitting thieves (they’re out there!) and nearly die of anxiety as a result. Trust me. Actually, never leave your knitting anywhere. Always keep it with you next to your drivers license and house keys. You are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and don’t want to carry a lot of weight? Fine. But still take your knitting. Just find lighter knitting needles. Mail yourself yarn along the way. Do not leave your knitting in the car. Ever.

Old Yarn Tells A Good Story

Cherish old (heirloom) yarn, even if it is scratchy. There’s probably a good story behind it, and you can always find something to knit with itchy yarn.

I enjoy reflecting as the year comes to and end, and I am proud of myself for all that I have learned from others (that’s you!) and taught myself along the way. In just one year, my own knitting has improved so much. I can only imagine what the coming year will hold (hopefully fewer tears, more yarn, and lots of finished knits).

A girl can dream.

 

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams.  In between books (again!)

 

Happy Birthday My Darling Child

 

 

 

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Dear Reed,

My perfect son. I can’t believe you are three. Already. So wise in the world. Just this morning you said aurora borealis and requested a trip to Alaska. You are already far brighter than even I. I should skip the ABCs and dive straight into Latin. Nothing gets passed you. Especially sugar. You know all my good hiding spots. This is genetic, I fear.

The good news is that, amidst the overwhelming sea of Legos and Play-Doh…even a shiny blue tricycle…you loved the socks I knit for you. They were one of the last gifts you opened and you squeaked with joy, declared your approval, and requested a second pair for Christmas (Yes, dear child, I will get right on that!). And, they fit. Perfectly.

This is the first time we have “matched” when it comes to clothing, both proudly sporting our hand knit pairs to Play Group yesterday, my own socks slightly faded from more washing…a reminder for mom to always adjust the water temperature from warm to cold, I suppose. I did note your socks slipped down toward your ankles as you zipped about (you do LOTS of zooming!). I blame the yarn…perhaps a stretchier blend is needed for the next pair.

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Socks aside, I am so lucky to be your mama. We have had such a fabulous year together. We have talked to no end, discussing all sorts of important matters. Lately you are fascinated by Bigfoot and want to know if he will be your friend (yes, he will). You also want to know what sorts of creatures live in the forest near our house (all kinds!), and you pretty much know every animal on the planet by sight, as well as the sound they make and related life history facts. Just an hour ago at nap time, you surprised me when you identified an allosaurus by sight in one of your books. Genius!

Currently you want to be an astronaut when you grow up, so you can fly a rocket ship. I told you I wouldn’t be surprised one bit, and you asked me if I wanted to come with (of course I do!).

You love fixing, fishing, and swinging. Flying kites and digging (dirt, sand, or mud will do). And I love you.

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You have been such good company this past year. We have had enjoyed many good adventures together, and you have grown into quite the car traveler (we do spend a lot of time together in the car), especially when we have cell reception and can listen to Toddler Radio or some such station on Pandora. I love listening to you sing along to all the silly songs, your voice so pure and joyful, breaking rhythm only to note a passing construction-related vehicle (you can identify them all and are quick to correct me if I ever confused a grader for a bulldozer, for example).

We often discuss our many future adventures together. All the places we hope to someday go (me: Italy, you: the moon!).

I can’t wait.

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In the meantime, I am so fortunate to be you mother and I am endlessly grateful to the universe for this wondrous privilege.  Although I do look forward to eating peacefully in a restaurant, sleeping soundly through the night, and going more than an hour without sweeping up piles of crumbs, Play-Doh bits, and discarded sticker scraps from the floor. In the meantime, stay safe, stay close, and stay forever mine.

Happy Birthday, Reed.

Love,

Your Mama

 

A Knitter’s Pledge

Knitters, if you haven’t had a chance to check out Monday’s post on tips to spruce up your knitting blog, please be sure to check it out. There’s a little something in there for everyone!


I never made a formal list (or spreadsheet, like some people do), but this was my original in-my-head knitting list for holiday gifting:

Oh, and I was going to finish one new design and start another. And I wasn’t going to start until November. Of 2015 (not 2014).

Plus I was planning to sleep.

I think the yarn fumes got to me. Or someone has been slipping a little something funny into my wine every evening. I wouldn’t rule it out.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I was going to turn this great big pile of sock yarn (Madelinetosh Sock in various colorways, by the way) into actual socks. And then some.

Hello insane asylum?

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So far, I have knit one sock that was too small, one pair of toddler socks, two pairs of mittens (one bright pink and one utterly undyed after the shock of the pink pair…), and one holiday stocking.

That’s it.

I am short seven pairs of socks, some toddler socks, two stockings, a couple of cowls, and a bunch of design work.

Here’s thing: I give up. Waving the white flag (hand-knit scarf).

I am going to finish the pair of socks below for my mom and a second pair for my aunt. I think that is doable by Christmas. Neither needs to be shipped. The other five pairs can wait until various birthdays toward the beginning of the year, which is much more reasonable anyway. My whole sock obsession hit hard and, honestly, got a little out of hand.

 

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I am not going to feel bad about it either. I have already finished a (relative) ton of knitting. I have been enthusiastically knitting my little heart out whenever I can, in fact. This is, after all, a knitter’s duty. That unofficial oath we all take every time we buy new knitting needles (you didn’t notice the fine print on the back of the package either?).

Thou shall knit thou’s heart out and make gifts for friends and family each holiday season.

And birthdays.

And basically anything that could be considered a Special Occasion.

Failing to do so will result in an infestation of moths.

I have met my pledge. And then some. Instead of fretting on everything I haven’t knit, I am going to marvel in everything I have finished, pour a glass of wine, and knit a little bit slower.

 

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams. Reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

Ten Tips to Spruce Up Your Knitting (Crafting, Sewing, Creative) Blog

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There are millions of knitters and almost as many knitting blogs. Over the past year, I have discovered SO MANY knitting blogs that range the ENTIRE spectrum. Some are more like personal journals and others take a more professional approach, associated with a designer, podcast, yarn dyer or other entrepreneurial outlet.

Are you thinking about starting a new knitting blog? Go for it!

Or, do you have a knitting blog you aspire to improve?

Me too! Let’s do it together.

It has been nearly a year since my very first post. As I look forward to this anniversary, I have been reflecting on all that I have learned over the past year, both in terms of blogging and knitting. There have been so many valuable lessons. I have a long journey ahead and many goals for the upcoming year that I hope to share soon.

In the meantime, here are ten tips that have been the most valuable to me over the past year.

  1. The basics. Hosting and blogging platforms. I have a self-hosted WordPress blog. This is what I recommend for any new blog. It is the best way to go, hands down for many reasons that I won’t go into here. Trust me. One of my favorite things about having a WordPress blog is that it is so easy to leave comments on other WordPress blogs once I am logged into WordPress. (I imagine this may be similar with other blogging platforms.) I notice a lot of my favorite knitting blogs use Blogger, but I find it MISERABLE to leave a comment on a Blogger-based blog (although I do go through the hassle for some of my favorites…) I feel like a Homeland Security background check would be easier. There is just so much clicking involved. Click how I want to comment. Type in my name and URL EVERY SINGLE TIME (although I did recently discover IPad keyboard shortcuts, which helps). Then I have to click a bunch of images before I can FINALLY submit my comment. Good grief. If you have a non-Wordpress blog, it is fairly easy to import your existing content over to WordPress. This post from WordPress has some helpful information for Blogger-based blogs, and  there are similar tutorials for importing other blog platforms as well (Typepad, etc.).
  2. Themes. Over the summer, I upgraded to a custom theme from Themeforest. Their themes generally seemed more affordable than comparable custom themes offered direct from WordPress. At first, I wasn’t sure it was worth the money, but I changed mind after I sent an email asking how I could enable a reader to leave a comment on my front page without having to click the post heading to navigate to a second page. (I am all about reducing requisite clicking for my readers!) They just took care of it for me that same day. I didn’t have to lift a finger (knitting needle?) It was like magic. Custom support like that is worth every cent.
  3. Read other blogs and meet other bloggers. I follow easily more than 100 knitting blogs alone, not to mention other genres. I definitely have my favorites. Over the past year, I have stumbled upon a lot of blogs shared on other sites. I love Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along for meeting new blogs. Monthly posts from My Sister’s Knitter have also been great for finding new blogs I enjoy. I am always challenging myself to keep all of these blogs (and the bloggers behind them straight). Who has a new baby and who has grown children. Who lives in New Jersey and who lives in England or New Zealand…South Africa even! I have really enjoyed meeting (virtually) so many talented and bloggers and knitters, and I am always so tickled whenever someone takes the time to leave a comment and say hello. It is almost as exciting as getting Real Mail at the post office (not a bill!).
  4. Organize. I organize the blogs I read into one spot (or two…). When you follow tons of blogs like I do, you have to be smart about organizing the feeds into one place. My favorite platform is WordPress Reader because it really streamlines commenting and “liking” features in the most time-efficient way. When you follow so many blogs, time efficiency is really key. Who wants to spend hours every day clicking and waiting for various sits to read? Not me! WordPress Reader really only works for WordPress blogs, and I find it works much better on a desk top, which I use much less frequently than my IPad for reading blogs. I most typically read other blogs on my Ipad during stolen moments of downtime (bathtime) via my RSS app Feedly. Up until recently, I have LOVED Feedly. There have been a few glitches lately, and I am not sure if they are attributable to an app upgrade or an IOS/Safari upgrade. Either way, I hope to sort them out soon or I might try another RSS app that makes loading individual sites and commenting more efficient.
  5. Take better photographs. Whenever I can, I take photos on my DSLR camera. Mid-year, I started using Adobe Lightroom, and it made such a difference. Auto-tune develop settings alone in Lightroom make an ordinary photo look SO much better. I try to take and process a bunch of photos all at once in batches. Sometimes I get caught in a bind and don’t have a suitable photo ready for a post so I use use my IPad and post-proces on Snapseed or Afterlight, both free apps. Lightroom is $9.99/month and comes with Photoshop. It’s worth the money, especially if you are trying to use your blog to generate income of any sort. As it was taught to me, not paying the ten bucks each month for Lightroom is like paying tuition to go to college and not buying text books. If you are investing the time and want your blog to succeed, spend the dough. I try to limit photos to a few per post. I notice some blogs really front load with a lot (dozen or more!) of photos. I live in a rural area that still has limited internet bandwidth, as I am sure others must. In my experience, posts with more than a handful of photos take way too long to load and suck up too much of my limited monthly data. Keep it simple. Pick a few of your best photos for a post and leave it at that.
  6. Content. This is probably the most important and most obvious. Aspire to write good posts that people might actually want to read. Find your voice. I have been juggling between posting twice or three times each week, which really has depended on how much time I have had available. It is probably better to invest the time to write two good posts each week than three (or more) lesser quality posts. I struggle with this myself, as often it is “time” to post but I haven’t had the time to develop  quality content. As a mother of a young child who isn’t yet ready to fully entertain himself while mom works on the computer,  I have made peace with the fact that some of my posts fall far short of my own standards. I know I will get their eventually.
  7. Canva. Even though Photoshop is included with my monthly Lightroom subscription, I haven’t felt like I have had the time to use it to “learn” Photoshop and develop some of the templates and graphics I have needed. I have found Canva to be free!!! and generally quick and easy. Very achievable (drag and drop) learning curve. Plus it’s fun. A bit of a wormhole if you aren’t careful. Canva has been great for generating side bar ads and even for snazzing up my pattern templates. I love it.
  8. Social media and Ravelry. Two of my big (little) achievements this past year were expanding my social media to Facebook and Instagram. I am still trying to get into the habit of posting to each and haven’t used either enough to result in any traffic. I held off on Instagram for a long time, but I actually think it is pretty fun and easy. Ravelry, as I am sure you know, is amazing for so man reasons. Super amazing, actually. When appropriate, linking posts to some of the higher traffic forums (Patterns, for instance) has resulted in a lot of new traffic for me. (Other forums don’t result in traffic but are INCREDIBLY HELPFUL.) I think one could spend eons of time in Ravelry forums, but I just don’t have the time at present. I haven’t started my own group for This Knitted Life, but I may explore that for the upcoming year.
  9. Take a class! Yes, there are classes to help you improve your blog. For years (AKA Beginning of Time), I have followed Christine’s blog Almost Fearless. She is a remarkable woman and offers a fabulous blogging course and focused workshops via We Create. I am slowing making my way through the course now. Christine often runs enrollment specials under $100 if you are patient.
  10. Pinterest. Before reading this post at House of Muses, I used Pinterest here and there to lull myself to sleep and look at pretty pictures of knitting now and again. Now I have a different strategy. I haven’t yet had the time or ability to develop a new routine that allows me to really engage in Pinterest like I wish I could, but my eyes are now open. It’s on the short list.

That’s my list! What tips and tricks have you used to improve your own blog? Please share!

Ten Tips to Spruce Up Your Knitting Blog

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