Unboxing video blog – Gradient yarn and Beads

I have always wanted to be a better blogger, but somehow I have a difficult time thinking of things that I feel are worthy to be committed to writing. Imagine my surprise to learn that I have no such mental block about talking (this will come as a surprise to precisely no one who knows me). With the new video format I have been playing with I am having a much easier time keeping up consistent communication. And there are so many advantages of being able to show you things as opposed to trying to describe them.

Take this new video. I am working on another collaboration with The Unique Sheep and Earthfaire (the same team that helped me cooked up BitterBlue) and I just received the box brimming with lovely yarn and beads. With my webcam I was able to do what is called an “Unboxing” video, so you can watch me pull the goodies out of the box and get the same awesome surprises that I do.

I mention in the video that the inspiration for these color ways came from my Pinterest board (I think I mentioned it) if you are interested in seeing said board you can check out Color Combos for Color Work. Two of the three combos came from my inspiration stash one is here and the other (which is actually from a different board) is here. I am linking them instead of embedding the photos because I do not want in infringe on the artists copyrights. So click away!

This talking-to-the-camera format is kind of unsettling for me, I have always been camera shy. But I am gonna try and keep it up. Please let me know if you like this approach and if you have any requests for something you would like to see/hear from me I am all ears!

Cabling without a Cable Needle

I love wee cables. Something about the texture and sinuous nature of only a couple of stitches wrapping around each other just makes me happy. Possibly it is just part and parcel of a general attraction for cute little things, but whatever – I own it.

Tiny cables on the edge of In Uffish Thought, a shawl by Barbara Benson.

The cables on the edge of In Uffish Thought are a perfect example.

What I don’t like is doing lots of small-ish cables using a cable needle. All that picking it up and putting it down? I end up with it in my teeth, or jammed into my hair, or stuffed in my cleavage … you know how it is. So I don’t. Use a cable needle that is. I cable without a cable needle, seems like an obvious solution, eh?

And you know what? It isn’t hard or scary and it is the subject of my latest video. If you would like to learn how to do it yourself (or just see if how I do it is different from how you do it) check it out!

If you have a technique that you would like to see me demonstrate, please drop it in the comments of the video or this here bloggie blog.

Pattern Video Tour – In Uffish Thought

There has been brainstorming going on at Casa Benson with regards to what I can do with the video format. Tutorials are great, and I will continue to do them, but what else can I do? The video format offers me the ability to convey information differently than in either written words or still photographs so I really want to take advantage of its strengths.

I have a list of ideas that I keep adding to as they come to me. Some of them will take the acquisition of more technology and/or skills, but some of them can be accomplished with what I have on hand. Yesterday I filmed my first attempt at what I am calling a Pattern Tour. Which might make you do the head tilt, huh?

For every pattern I do a photo shoot and upload still photos to the Ravelry page (and here) and I try my very best to communicate all of the things that a knitter needs to know about a pattern. But things slip through the cracks. There are subtle elements that don’t quite come through. So I figured that I could shoot a video with me showing off the finished piece and babbling a bit about what you might have missed in the photos.

For my first swing at this format I decided to use In Uffish Thought. It is a fun, easy pattern with some subtle details that I think are not adequately conveyed by the photographs. Hopefully the video will show you more about the piece and maybe it will be a good fit for a yarn that you have been wanting to knit up. I tried to keep it short. Based on what YouTube tells me is the average viewing length of the previous videos – I need to keep them at 2:30 or less. Which makes sense, everyone is busy in this world!

My plan is to make this style video for all of my new releases (to add to the laundry list of other things I have to prep for a new pattern – why do I do these things to myself?), but I also want to go through my back catalog. If you have any of my already published patterns that you would like to receive this treatment, please do not hesitate to nominate them in the comments. It would be awesome to be able to prioritize my efforts.

Any feedback on this concept is also welcome. Was there something I did that didn’t work for you? Is there something you wish I did that would be great to add in the future? This is an evolving concept so I can try new stuff in subsequent videos.

Luidia and the Sandpiper Stitch

My first new pattern of the year is a two color slouchy hat that ended up being named Luidia. Luidia is the genus of starfish in which you find the species Luidia ciliaris, the only starfish with seven arms. I thought that the top of this hat evoked thoughts of starfish or urchins, well you can judge for yourself:


Isn’t it cool? This hat was a collaboration between myself and the awesome Lindsay who is the owner/dyer of The Fiber Seed, a small yarn company based out of Tampa, FL. A really cool thing about them, other than the fact that they dye beautiful yarn, is that their yarns are all American. American wool spun in American mills dyed with American dyes with low environmental impact. How cool is that?

But truly, all of that is just icing on the cake because the colors are so fabulous and the yarn is all sproingy … I love sproingy yarn.

See, slouchy

See, slouchy

I wanted to keep this piece on the simple side and ended up developing a fun new stitch. I started playing with the classic lifted stitch pattern called the Gull stitch, but of course I had to figure out a way to mash it up with slipped stitches. Poof, a new stitch. I decided to call it the Sandpiper stitch (LOL, Sandpiper = seabird = Gull, I crack myself up) because the slipped stitch looked like a little leg. I always love watching the little sandpipers standing on one leg on the beach. In total the hat used about half of each skein of yarn, so I have leftovers. I am considering designing a short pair of finger-less mitts to complement the hat. Anybody think that is a good idea?

The view from a different angle

The view from a different angle

The stitch is not hard, but it involves a maneuver that is non-standard (imagine that?) so I was able to use my new found video skillz to make a little tutorial on how to work the two slightly tricky elements of the stitch. I also learned from my last two videos and think we are well on on way to getting it under control. I improved the lighting set up with fancy new bulbs and changed the background from gray to white. Keep watching for a wee bit after the stitch demo is over, there is a little surprise with a swatch of a different color.

The next step in video land will be really nailing down the sound and then I think we will have it. I would love to hear any feedback you have on the videos. What might you like to see? Is there anything I am doing well or not so good? I have many ideas bubbling up and I think it is a really complementary form to help me communicate better about knitting. It really is such a visual thing and since I cannot come to each of y’alls house to show you stuff, I guess this is the next best thing.

The Norwegian Purl – Watch me knit

As promised, I have managed to upload a video on how I purl.

It went live this morning at 8:00 am because I wanted to make sure I understood how the “scheduling” feature of YouTube worked. You know, on the off chance I ever get really motivated and get ahead of myself. Yeah, yeah, you can stop laughing at me.

Back in the day, when I was first learning how to knit, I really despised purling. It was slow, cumbersome and it broke up any flow I had going. It was so frustrating that I was getting to the point where knitting wasn’t fun anymore. Anything I was working on was languishing and I was on the verge of moving on to something different. But before I could abandon knitting altogether I stumbled across a mention on Ravelry of the Norwegian style of purling.

Of course I then went off to search the web and watched a dozen different videos on YouTube on how to do the Norwegian purl. One of them finally clicked and I found it much, much easier than a traditional Continental purl. I don’t think it is particularly “better” per se, there is a great deal more movement and I don’t know that it will increase your speed – but for me it is easier.

With this video I figured out what was going on with the black bits along the edge and I addressed that problem. In the next video (whatever that turns out to be) I think I am going to try and add some subtle music. Not for the whole time, I don’t want it to be distracting. But I thought that at the beginning and end might be nice.

Any requests for what you would like to see in a video?

Do you YouTube?

Guess what? I do now!

Yeah, I know I am crazy – but it is fun. I have decided to start a YouTube channel for knitting stuff. The name of the channel is Watch Barbara Knit and if you would like to be notified any time I upload a video all you need to do is subscribe (well, and make sure your settings in YouTube are such that it sends you notifications).

Of course, if you read this blog you will find out because of course I will be blogging about putting up a YouTube video whenever I do so, it is kinda the thing you know? But hey, subscribing doesn’t cost anything.

Yesterday I uploaded my first video just to make sure that I have it all figured out. And I do, mostly. The video is a longer version of the #howIknit video I uploaded to Instagram because all of the cool kids were doing it. When I Instagramed the video it auto-shared to my Facebook and someone asked for me to do it slower – so I thought hey! that would be a good first video. And so it became.

It is simply a video of how I knit in the Continental style. I have follow-up video that is on how I purl in the Continental style which I will be uploading in the middle of this week. It is a bit more interesting because the way I purl is a bit on the funky side. There has been a bit of a learning curve with the movie making software, this first video has some small issues with black bars appearing on the top/sides – but I have figured out what went wrong there and it shouldn’t happen again.

I have a whole list of ideas of things that I can make videos of, hopefully y’all will find some of it entertaining and/or informative. I don’t really have plans to do basic instructional videos, mostly because that kind of tutorial is already out there aplenty. What I am planning as far as technique videos is new and interesting stitches that I either cook up or stumble across and then use in my patterns. (You should see the brand new Japanese stitch dictionary I just got!).

Also on my list are possible reviews/overviews of yarns, knitting tools, books, magazines … I love the stuff that surrounds knitting and thought that could be fun to share. Maybe I could do some interviews? Do something like a pod-cast only with visuals? Who knows? This will definitely be an evolving process.

And I would love to have input as to what y’all might want to see! All YouTube videos have a place for comments and I will be reading them all. If you have thoughts or ideas or requests you can put them there or comment here or heck – email me. One of the great benefits of all of this inter-connectivity is that I can be responsive, all I need is your feedback.

Happy New Year

This first week of the new year has been sneaky. Somehow it sidled by without me even realizing it, so I decided I wanted to type up something all quick like just so I don’t let things slide too badly. I am knitting like crazy (as always) and will have something to show you soon. I promise.

I don’t know if y’all know it, but I have an Instagram account – if you are on there you can find me under tumpedduck I post things like this there:

Totally Unplanned

Totally Unplanned

I was knitting steadily along in the passenger side when I realized that my outfit matched my kitting. Out comes the ole iPhone and I snapped this little gem. Of course, this is one of the things I am working on that I should be able to show you soon. I have about 1 1/2 repeats left and then a wee bit of ribbing to go. Blocking and stuff will ensue and of course tech editing, photographs, yadda, yadda, yadda …

It takes time. I wish I could just snap my fingers and it would be instantly available for y’all – but it doesn’t work that way.

Before the above pictured stole comes out I will have a new hat up for sale. It is currently making its debut at TNNA in San Diego this weekend. I had the opportunity to work with a new DK weight yarn coming out from The Fiber Seed and it was lovely. If you would like some hints, the hat is two color with some slipped stitches – but not my normal slipped stitches. Something new.

Other than knitting , December was crazy. Pretty much everything after Thanksgiving was a blur. My son’s birthday is in mid-December and we try to keep all of the holiday stuff to a minimum until after we have celebrated his special day. So I spent the first half of the month planning his birthday and then the second half of the month trying frantically to get everything done for Christmas. Add to the insanity that this year I am the “class parent” and had to plan his 3rd grade holiday party – well, kinda partied out.

But it is a new year and I am raring to go! I would love to hear what exciting things y’all have planned for the New Year in the comments. Any knitting resolutions? Any new patterns you would like to see from me (like specifically you want a headband or some such thing)? Stash enhancement, stash down? Inquiring minds want to know!

Looking forward to spending a great new year knitting with y’all!