Wednesday, October 28, 2009

big time quirkiness

I can't predict which designs will be popular. However, there are some things I sort of "fall for." I'm not in love with every design I do. Some are useful or creative but maybe wouldn't fit me personally or work in my household. That's ok! Designing allows my imagination to explore things that might not be my thing but they work well for others.

For instance...when I was a kid, I fell in love with the notion of Bermuda Bags. I loved that you could take off one cover, button on a new cover, and --wow--a whole new bag without having to take your stuff out of the actual hand bag! That seemed great and very matchy-matchy. When I found a new retro equivalent of these bags, I thought it would be super to design bag covers. I loved doing it...and the Pin Check Bermuda Bag in Knit Green is one of my favorites.

That said, I didn't use a purse consistently until I had to. Pockets also work fine and I like purses with long straps. I put them across my body like a messenger bag, and that leaves my hands free to hold dogs' leashes, grocery bags, knitting, etc. So, while the Bermuda Bag is still in my possession, at least for now, it's part of my trunk show and not part of my wardrobe.

Another "favorite" of mine is the Zafu cushion in the book. I loved designing and knitting this. Sourcing Navajo-Churro rug yarn was hard to do. That's because this rug wool from rare breed Navajo-Churro sheep is prized by the famous Southwest rug weavers and it's hard to find outside of New Mexico. However, I found some here and creating the project itself was a joy. The sample is too large for me to carry around to show off. I'd like to show it off in my home instead. I just haven't figured out yet where it will go so that it will be well appreciated by humans. (my dogs have been eyeing it; if I don't want it to be a dog bed, it needs to be placed carefully!)

All this is a weird preface. Yesterday, I checked the Amazon ratings and discovered Knit Green had made it to #55 on the "Knitting" list! Fiber Gathering hovered around #59, and although it's been much lower on the list in the past, it was a good moment. Like I said, I have no idea what will be popular, and for an hour or two there, well, my work looked popular! (that's compared to the day before, when the numbers were no where near so good and someone called my book "mediocre" in a review)

This book writing thing has been a big learning experience. I sometimes feel discouraged about having such public commentary all the time. It can be upsetting...and I can't figure why some people enjoy saying recreationally critical things about other people's professional work. (it's just not something I'd do if I could avoid it, it's part of the "when you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all..." school of thought.) Constructive criticism, ok, I get that, but otherwise? just not my thing.

On the other hand, I was at a dinner for the Manitoba Crafts Museum earlier this week and a kind person I'd never seen before said, "Joanne! Joanne!" because she read my blog, seen my photo and wanted to meet me. She invited me to a weaving guild event. I felt, very briefly, like a movie star. :)

In coping with this, most of the time I feel relatively quirky about it all. That's obviously the reaction I get when I tell non-knitters what my books are about. ("Weird!" is their reaction.) Sometimes, when a kind person pops a nice review up on Amazon, I'm very proud and grateful. I want to write those folks thank you notes! Mostly, though, I'm just a regular person, and this sudden launch into the knitworld's "public" has been bewildering. I can never predict which designs will be popular. I also could never have known what this would be like. It's nice to know the world keeps offering me new and challenging experiences.
I only hope my quirkiness rises to the occasion. :)

In the meanwhile, there's been a hiatus on the designing front. I'm blinking a bit, trying to find my place in a new city, and figure out who I want to "be" now. Plus, I have all this backlog of designs to finally talk about. A year ago, I was knitting the zafu and math mobile in Kentucky. (scroll down to the end of the post to see those "in progress" photos) Now I'm in Winnipeg and the book is done! Who knows what next year will bring?

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Blogger PghCathy said...

So glad you have heat again. Being cold is not my idea of fun.

My copy of Knit Green arrived Monday. I admit I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this; I recycle, but don't go to extremes. But I wanted to support you, so I got the book.

I am thoroughly enjoying it! Right off the bat, you say you're a moderate. I guess that's where I would put myself. I keep going back to the scarf pattern, then to the KnitPicks catalog. I see at least 1 long scarf in my near future. I enjoy the antecdotes, your honesty & the designs.

Now if I were just brave enough to wear that saffron sweater!

October 28, 2009 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

PghCathy, I am so happy you're enjoying the book! The big point I wanted to make--the most important thing to me--is that we think about small changes that align with our values. The small points--like a million gator gaiter scarves with pointy ends--should give enjoyment, too!!

Oh, and the sweater doesn't HAVE to be saffron. You can knit it in another color, of course!

October 28, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

No one could ever say that you live a dull and boring life! It amazes me how you have handled the traveling and the publishing of two books and moving to a different country and so on :)

I feel we should all do what makes us happy and brings us joy. In doing that, what we do will bring joy and happiness to others. I know you have accomplished that and you should be very proud.

I enjoy both your books and am glad to have them in my library. I have a project or two in mind to try when I have more time.

Can't wait to see what the next year brings :)

October 28, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

I agree with you Deb. I can't help but wonder what Joanne's going to write about next. It will be interesting & inspiring, I'm sure.

Joanne...I think you were talking about me on page 137...the knitter that focuses on the pattern, the yarn and even the color. Hmmm, maybe I should learn to expand my horizon & pick a color other than saffron! What do you think?

October 29, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Go PghCathy! You can break out of your mold! Try another color yarn!
(I will say that O-wool was very very nice to work with, but they do have other colors...:)

Thanks for all the kind thoughts. Right now, I am not at all sure what's next. I'm thinking hard though...

October 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

I know what it's like to move a long distance and 'start over'. It's exciting at first, but then you realize you need to find your place in the new environment and that just plain takes time. It was a lovely gesture for the woman to be so welcoming to you and appreciate your books. Doesn't that help to make you feel more at home?

October 29, 2009 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Great! Just found 'Knit Green' on Amazon UK! Should be here tomorrow. Can't wait!Is there going to be a book 3?

October 30, 2009 at 4:27 AM  
Blogger annmarie said...

Congratulations on both your books gettting so high on Amazon's list! With the plethora of knitting snd other 'fibery' books being published now, that's saying a great deal! :)

October 30, 2009 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Congratulations on the good ratings! And on the heat, I must add, remembering New Hampshire with a shiver. And congratulations on good books well written.

Now take some time to pick up your feet and relax. It's essential to take some time away from the pressures of the deadlines in order to keep it fun.

--AlisonH at

November 1, 2009 at 12:39 AM  

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