Another winner

Well, I honestly couldn't have planned this if I tried but the trusty random number generating site not only picked someone I think is a great person, but it also picked a cringe inducing story, to boot. The winner of The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design is none other than Julia. Congratulation, my friend!

To everyone else, thank you so much for brightening my week with hilarious stories. I laughed through my cringing and cringed through my laughing. It is reassuring to remember that almost everyone has at least one of these stories under their belt.

If you are interested in getting your own copy of the book, you can go to this site. Thanks again to everyone who left a comment.

Shannon Okey's new book, The Knitgrrl guide to Professional Knitwear Design, is available and if you aren't already hearing some of the buzz, well, you don't spend as much time online as I do. Search around and you'll find plenty of high praise for good reason. This little treasure is a comprehensive look at how knitwear design happens; good, bad and everything in between. For designers and aspiring designers alike, there are tips, tricks and insightful interviews to more than cover the cost of admission and for those of you with no intention of ever designing but who love to see what happens behind the scenes, this book delivers there too.

So are you dying to crack open this book? Shannon has graciously offered a copy to one lucky winner and since the last contest was so much fun, I thought I'd carry on the theme. Details at the end of the post!

But before that, I wanted to throw a few questions Shannon's way.

Marnie MacLean [MM]: This book is broken up into two broad sections; the informational part which is based on a lot of your personal experience as well as some input from other people in the industry, and then an interview section in which you talk to a great range of individuals in the industry. Did you have any big “AHA” moments from the interviews that shaped the way you wrote the first section of the book?

Shannon Okey [SO] :Most of the first portion of the book was written before the interviews took place, and is based on both my experience and observation, so there weren't any "AHA" moments so much as "mmmhmm, mmmhmm" when someone confirmed something I'd been thinking or had said.

MM: Have you made any changes to the way you run your business based on what you learned creating this book? And if so, what?

SO: I have, very slowly, come to the realization that it is OK to ask for help, and more specifically, to hand off things you don't like as much or aren't as good at doing to someone who is. It frees up more time to do what you love more. So, for example, I don't particularly like to grade patterns, and I am NOT a tech editor by any stretch of the imagination. I would rather hire someone who loves the math aspect, who delights in being nitpicky and crossing all the t's. Karin Strom's interview answers really made me feel better about doing this. I always felt that I SHOULD do every single bit of work on my patterns in order to be a "real" designer, but you know what? Karl Lagerfeld's not out there hemming dresses. The "petites mains" (specialist stitchers for the big couture houses) all have very specific skills, whether it's beading or stitching or whatever. They're not expected to do everything themselves: why should I? And with the exception of summertime, when I'm fortunate enough to have TNNA interns most years, I'm a one-woman show! So with all that in mind, I've come to accept that doing this will let me design more, not less, and make a better income for myself. I'm stubborn -- it took a while to convince myself this was ok!

MM: This book is so current that it has stats from a couple months ago which makes sense, because the industry is in such flux that what was true a year ago may be irrelevant now. What do you see for the future of this book? Do you imagine releasing updated versions every few years keeping what’s relevant and ditching what’s not?

SO: With the state of both the knitting and the publishing industries being what they are, who KNOWS what's going to happen a few months from now, let alone a few years? One of my projects this week was looking at online subscription-based models (akin to the ones some knitting magazines are using to make their titles available on the web), and thinking about how that might work for craft books, too. O'Reilly and technical publishers have already caught on to this -- tech books tend to have a very short shelf life, and being able to subscribe to the book on a virtual bookshelf makes more sense than spending $20-40 on a dead tree version. If you only like ONE pattern in a book, you're not going to buy the book, but you might be willing to pay $x to have access to the book for a short period of time, or to have access to just that pattern.

Two things we're looking at here at Cooperative Press (and by "we" I mean "royal we + anyone I draft in to help," such as my dear boyfriend, who did the typography on this book's cover) are the subscription model discussed above and also custom publishing. You, the end user, would be able to select specific chapters, sections or content from our books and blend them all together into an on-demand PDF or print book. It's not a new idea: one of the old school internet-gold-rush companies was doing this for travel books 10+ years ago at It's a question of applying the right technology and the right pricing to the model.

Also, I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. Someone else with deeper pockets than me will probably run right out and do both of those things. You heard it here first, kids. (Though the one advantage of DIY is that you can usually move faster than the people copying your ideas can!)

MM: Ok, so for our contest, I’m going to be carrying on the embarrassment theme from my last giveaway. To close off this interview, would you be willing to share a most embarrassing / head-deskery type moment from your crafting/authoring career?

SO: The knit-burqa. Oh man. I was doing a pattern for the Harry Potter knitting book (Charmed Knits). It was a knitting bag for Hermione. I'm a very experienced felter, and I should have known better. Imagine knitting a giant tube of Cascade 220. A tube so big (and black, for that matter) that I could fit inside it. I am 5'7" and I am NOT SMALL. So we started calling it the "knit burqa," that's what it looked like. I was SO HAPPY to have the damn thing finished that I resolved to march right down to the washer and felt it immediately. Never mind it's late and I'm exhausted. Never mind machine felting probably wasn't a superfabulous idea. I wanted it DONE done right this very moment. You can guess what happened, and it wasn't pretty. I had to cut it up in order to make it resemble my original plans and reverse-engineer the written pattern to suit. Doesn't matter how good you USUALLY are...doing anything that nearly destroys months of knitting in less than 30 minutes is not just head-deskery, it's earthshatteringly dumb.

MM: Thanks so much Shannon and thank you for including me in your book. It’s been a real pleasure.

Contest Rules

Leave a comment with some face-palming, head-desking, foot-in-mouthing embarrassing moment you don't mind sharing with the world. I will pick one person at random, so even if you can't recall one, you have an equal chance at winning if you leave a comment. But where's the fun in that? Comments must be sent by end of day on Thursday, July 15 and I will pick one random winner to receive a print copy of Shannon Okey's The Knitgrrl guide to Professional Knitwear Design.

And in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I'll share one of my many many embarrassing moments in life. I was, perhaps, 14, I lived in a small New Hampshire town, where everyone knew just about everyone. There was one boy, we'll call him George since I don't recall and Georges from my grade. I had a fantastically unrequited crush on him. I was walking around the drug store picking up a few things, when I realized he was in the store with me. I gave him an enthusiastic wave, a giant smile and called his name. He turned and looked at me, with a polite smile and then vague discomfort, which is the moment I realized that in my happily swaying hand, straight above my head, was the box of tampons I had just picked up. Go me!

To order copies of the book, you can go here. And be sure to follow Shannon's entire blog tour by visiting her site and checking the blog tour sidebar.



As far as comments go, this has been the most entertaining week ever. You guys have some pretty cringeworthy stories of all sorts and I loved every last comment. Call me crazy, but I think that much like having one's heart broken, embarrassing families are sort of a right of passage. I think they give you perspective, and a sense of humor and generally build character. (Note to my parents: this is not you cue to ramp up the embarrassing behavior, I'm bubbling over with character, thanks so much.) Though, I think new parents can also take heart that quite a few of my commenters think their parents have always been awesome, even if some only discovered this in hindsight.

Successful Lace Knitting

My random number generator picked julietn as the winner of the book, which is wonderful because she was one of the people on my rather expansive list of possible winners for best comment. Juliet, I've sent you a note requesting your address, if you don't see it, you can contact me with the Contact button up on the top of this page.

And here's her fantastic story:

My parents are wonderful, and my mom is a bit of a free spirit and says almost anything that pops into her head, which I now love. Not so much when I was younger, though. The first moment that comes to mind of her embarassing me was when she dropped me off at college for the first time. There were some sophomores and juniors hanging around as everyone was unpacking, and my mom took one look at this one guy, marched up to him (she's about 5' 1", this guy was easily 6'), poked him in the chest and snapped up at him "You stay away from my daughter! I know what you're doing here!" I was just about ready to drop out of college right then. The best part is, though, that she was right--the guy turned out to be notorious for going after younger girls. Her methods may have been objectionable, but she's a good judge of character!

Your mom sounds awesome. I just love this story and yet, I can completely see being utterly mortified by the whole situation.

Twist Collective Gift Certificate

Picking just one story to win the Twist Collective gift certificate was a more challenging process. I decided to set a few criteria for determining a winner. I think as a general rule, there must be non-family witnesses who are your peers, to hold the event over you for the rest of your life. There must also be some breech of normal societal protocols; something that would get you kicked out of a nice restaurant. Your parents' junker or poor fashion choices are indelibly etched in your mind, but are probably mostly forgettable to anyone who may try to blackmail you later.

So with those rules in mind (and knowing full well I eliminated some fantastically horrible stories in the process) I was able to narrow my list down to 4. Like picking only a single chocolate from the Godiva box, it was no easy feat, but for the sheer quantity of pain for all parties involved, I decided on Meredith's story.

Meredith C.:
Marnie, your story really made me cringe. Just the crocheting or the hammock would have been bad enough for a kid, but to combine them and then take it all public? You poor child.

My story is another about fun in the sun. When I was a kid we had a pool in the backyard. In the summer, my friends would come over to swim, and my mom would sit in a lounge chair smoking cigs and drinking ice t. She was a woman well endowed in the breast dept, and I kept thinking that eventually I'd get big boobs too, but I never did and that's another story anyway. She would wear those terry cloth rompers, held up only by boobage, while she was lounging. So my friends and I, all about 11 and very self conscious, were swimming and goofing off, and my mom fell asleep in the sun. With her boobs out. She had thrown up her arms to shield her eyes and her top slipped out. Her boobs were fried with sunburn. It was awful. I think hers were the biggest boobs my friends had seen, as there moms were more average sized, and they were embarrassed, and left as quickly as possible. Stories were told about my mom's enormous lobster-red boobs. Still not as bad as the banana hammocks though!

Meredith, I've sent you a note, though if you don't see it, feel free to write me from the email address to which you'd like the gift certificate sent, by clicking the Contact button at the top of this page.

Thank you, sincerely, to all of you who made me laugh and cringe and who reminded me that all families are weird. You guys are the best. Trust me, it was not easy to pick a best/worst of the bunch.



You know what I think is really useless? Blogging that you haven't blogged for a while and then apologizing. But you know what I think is cute? Posting a picture that captures that same sentiment.

Manzanita June 18, 2010
Contrite dog is contrite*

But how'z about I make it up to at least two of you out there.

Successful Lace Knitting

A little while ago, I posted about Donna Druchunas' new book, Successful Lace Knitting, to which I contributed the cover project. Well I recently received my copy and one extra copy, both of which are signed by the author. That means I have one more copy than I rightfully need.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below answering the following question.

What is the most embarrassing thing your parents/guardians ever did in front of your friends?

Here's my answer:
My biological father used to crochet his own banana hammocks and wear them in public to swim at the local country club. I'm from a small town, and people I grew up with still talk about it. It's memories like that, that make me all the more thankful for the upgrade I got a few years back. (Speaking of which, a very happy father's day, dad2.0!)

Here are the logistics of the drawing. Get your comment in by the end of day Friday June, 25, and I will pick one comment at random to receive the signed copy of Successful Lace Knitting. I will also award one gift certificate for a Twist Collective pattern (you will be able to pick from any that they offer) to the person who makes me laugh and/or cringe the hardest with their comment.

*Note, no dogs were actually made to feel contrite to produce this blog post.

Everyone has a talent


My brother won "Crowd Favorite" for Partial Beard in the World Beard and Mustache Team USA competition.

He has clearly put that double-major in physics and philosophy to excellent use. Congrats to my rather hairy baby brother.

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