Self-Publicity. Awkward!

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For some reason, self-publicity is about the hardest thing for me to do. Sometimes I get so nervous that I end up giving the impression that my work should be avoided like the plague. It’s an unfortunate ailment for an individual who is the sole owner of a small business.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a small knitting shop near my place of residence. I’ve visited several times to purchase some much-coveted yarn, and each time I feel that this would be the perfect place for me to make myself known to the knitting community. Not only is this wonderful place choc-full of yarns of all colors and textures, but they also sell coffee and have an open-knitting table, where knitters can take a cozy seat, swap projects, and bring their creations into being. I took some covert pictures there on one of my visits. Afterward I noticed a small sign that cheerfully recommended that I “Smile! Entire store under video surveillance!”

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I visited the place in the company of my dear mother, not a knitter herself, but apparently astounded by the fact that people can create so much with a handful of small sticks.

Another charming feature of the little shop is the presence of sample projects scattered among the yarns. I’m not talking about those 3 by 5 rectangular swatches that usually appear in yarn stores. I’m talking full-blown, gorgeous projects! Shawls and scarves and entire sweaters, each knit with yarn from the shop. I’ve wanted to be employed to create some of these samples ever since I stumbled upon the place.

Strongly opposed to “inserting myself unbidden,” I have been to this place several times, wandered around, and tried to strike up a conversation with the cashier:

“Er, good morning. How’s your day been?”

“Wonderful, dear. How sweet of you to ask! Your total is $14.62. Have a wonderful day yourself.”

“Er, thanks a million.”

I would hover for a moment, then flee.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday I struck gold. Or maybe… nickel.

The first thing out of the cashier’s mouth was, “Do you knit?”

“Indeed I do, yes.”

My dear mother plunged in with characteristic enthusiasm, “She’d love to knit for you!”

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Subtlety abandoned.

The woman we conversed with happened to be the owner, and she quickly snapped up my information.

I mentally pumped my fist in triumph.

“My Arm is Complete Again!!!!!”

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While studying abroad in Austria these past four months, I really came to miss my army of knitting needles, which due to packing space I had been compelled to leave at home. I had at my disposal one pair, which served my purposes to a certain extent, but if you happened to read recent posts, Irish Knitting and Knitting on Trains you would have noticed that I had to resort to some very unusual substitutes.

While I was suffering from this separation anxiety, I happened to watch Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It’s a movie by Tim Burton about a barber and his wife… and she was beautiful… and he was so unutterably creepy that I can’t imagine how anyone could muster the guts to sit in his chair and bare their throats to him!

Anyway, the barber spends fifteen years in prison, and when he returns he digs his box of razors out of the floorboards. They are reunited at last, and he sings a song to them. I found myself chuckling as I watched it, because I could totally imagine myself singing this song to my army of needles when I returned home.

For your viewing pleasure:

My Friends-Sweeney Todd FULL SCENE – YouTube

Anyway, I will now become a hopeless recluse and spend my time alternately striking dramatic poses and gazing adoringly at my needles.

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Yep, this song pretty much applies to my reunion with my needles, except for Todd’s assurance that his friends will “Drip rubies, precious rubies.” I’m not capable of plotting schemes quite so devious, unless you find yourself struck to the core with horror by the fact that my friends will soon “Knit booties, baby booties.”

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Summer Knits

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The past few days have been spent preparing the shop for summer. Summer has always been kind of a dead zone for me. Well, it depends on what you call a dead zone, and if continuing to blunder through the jungle of Etsy counts as a dead zone, I’m still struggling to escape. We artisans (or at least, this artisan, I won’t be pretentious enough to apply this to all of us) have a great ability to create fun new products that we’re really excited about, but when it comes to selling them online, we tend to flail around a bit, not sure what to do. It’s what I call “boring business stuff.” I sell more products to friends of friends of friends than I do to strangers online.

That actually doesn’t surprise me too much. To a stranger online I must seem like, well, a stranger online. Although I like to think I get to know my customers a bit, especially when they custom order. The first sale I ever made was a pair of gloves to be sent to the buyer’s sister with a lovely hand-written note. It was a lovely experience, and I was honored to be part of their Christmas.

Anyway, preparing the shop for summer includes brainstorming what I could possibly knit that people would want to buy and wear in the summertime. Even I don’t feel inclined to wear my products at this time of year.

So I’ve started off by whipping up a couple of headbands. These are totally one-of-a-kind, since I just free-knit them and made up the pattern as I went along:

Dark Blue Gypsy Headband

Dark Blue Gypsy Headband

Pastel Grey Gypsy Headband

Pastel Grey Gypsy Headband

These headbands were modeled by a young woman with a striking resemblance to me. It’s almost frightening! Well, she was the only one around at the time…

Fortunately I found some other models to drape fabric upon. My pet creation is pictured at the top. I found a lovely little store near where I live that sells a wonderful display of yarn.

Also one of my pet creations, between you and me, this green half-shawl is a whole-shawl gone wrong! It’s one of my better mistakes, to be honest. Better than confusing Celsius and Fahrenheit on pie day, that’s for sure.

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Soft Green Half-Shawl

Blue and White Striped Flare Lace Scarf

Blue and White Striped Flare Lace Scarf

White FLare Lace Scarf

White Flare Lace Scarf

These two scarves have been in the works for a while. They are actually the twin creations of my English grandmother, and I’ve been holding on to them for someone special, i.e. you, if it doesn’t put you out, and if you don’t mind terribly.

I would almost pay you to buy something at this point.

Just kidding.

 

Soft Green Half-Shawl

Lacy White Flare Scarf

Dark Blue Gypsy Headband

Knitted Blue and White Striped Flare Scarf

Women’s Pastel Pink Spring Shawl

Knitting on Trains

An example of how comfortable train travel isn't.

A lounging effigy of an English monarch in Westminster Abbey. Just an example of how comfortable train travel isn’t.

Travel involves no lounging whatsoever. Sitting, yes, and fitful naps involving waking up with your face pressed against the window. To spend twelve hours in a city in Europe, say Munich, you most likely have to wake up at 4 in the morning, catch a bus, catch a train, catch another train, and another, and finally, after eight hours you arrive at your destination. How does the traveler occupy themselves?

Some sleep.

I knit.

I bought some yarn in Galway, Ireland, and during my excursion on the most hectic and delay-prone day of travel on the London train system, I could be found clicking away.

Not with needles, mind you. I hadn’t brought those with me, but two pencils sufficed for my purposes. There was also a terrifying moment where I needed to knit in the round to create a thumb for my mitten. Still, I kept my head in the face of this petrifying and found a tolerable, if not entirely worthy or aesthetically pleasing, substitute:

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And yes, those are Q-Tips.

I also gathered two more students into my flock. Student A actually bought a beginner’s knitting kit somewhere during our travels, so to my shame, she was more prepared for the craft than me. Student B’s willingness to learn was born from what can only be described as rock-bottom boredom as the result of yet another London train coming to a dead stop because of fire on the lines. I have to say, I was quite impressed by the depth of this maddening ennui that must have driven him to take up needles, since he also had to settle for a pair of pencils…

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Irish Knitting

A beautiful street in Galway, Ireland

Perusing the shops in Galway, the only thing that saved me from madness at the outrageous prices of the beautiful knitted sweaters, mitts, caps, and socks was the knowledge that upon my return to the states and my reunion with my full army of knitting needles, I will be able to make some of these gorgeous things myself, and I bought a few skeins of yarn from the shops specifically for that purpose.

How’s that for a Dickensian sentence?

My budget was limited in Ireland, but I still managed to buy yarn. That’s dedication, obsession, and an artist’s prioritization for you. Aka, the artist’s question to herself: “do I want to satisfy the cravings of my artistic spirit or the cravings of my stomach?”

Then she sits on a street corner during her spare time holding a tattered cardboard sign that says: “will impersonate PIXAR characters for food.”

I will impersonate Aardman animation characters as well. I do a pretty good Babs the knitting chicken, a decent LaFrog, but my Grommit impersonation is the best! You have to blink just right.

One little shop that gripped my fancy was a place called O’Maille’s that sold shelves upon shelves of skeins of Donegal Tweed yarn, and shelves upon shelves of hats and scarves and headbands and tea cozies and tiny baby boots:

Donegal Tweed

Donegal Tweed

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Tea always tasted better when it's cozy!

Tea always tastes better when it’s cozy!

The woman who ran the shop showed me around a bit, and I bought some of the Donegal Tweed. As soon as I got home to my needles, I began to knit a pair of mitts. And, yes, in the thumb gusset, holding the stitches in place, that is indeed a twig that I snapped off a nearby bush. I only brought one pair of needles with me to Austria…

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In the next couple of days I will be sharing more makeshift knitting tools…(Just in case I need to arrest your attention with suspense at this point).

Knit on!

-Hannah

Austrian knitting fashions- my observations so far

! Gruß Gott from Austria! This semester I am studying abroad, living in a campus in Gaming. (that rhymes with “bombing,”  just so you know). I have already visited Vienna on a weekend trip, and have also begun to sketch various places I’ve visited in Austria. These sketches can be found on “It’s Just Real Quick,” a blog that I am co-authoring for the month of January. It’s a self-challenging blog, in which myself and some other bloggers challenge ourselves to do a creative project every day in the month of January, adhering to a set of “guidelines,” which I have chosen to ignore.

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Anyway, those sketches, if you happen to be interested, can be found here and here. Enjoy the other posts as well!

here’s what I cam to tell you, finally, after a tangent and an awkward photo of pirates. It is cold in Austria. Das Wetter is kalt. And people here seem to be sporting knitted caps with ENORMOUS fluffy pom-poms on top. I call them tribble hats, because sometimes the pom-poms are made of imitation fur:

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