Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pardon our Interruption

As we mentioned last week, Tinking Turtle is in the midst of some pretty major changes.  We are moving the business as well as moving to a new website.  As such, postings and information may be a bit sparse over the next several weeks, but rest assured, we haven't gone anywhere!  You can refer to our previous post linked above for any FAQs, leave us a comment here, message us on Ravelry (JenniferRaymond), or email us at!

We'll keep this post on top during our move.  We'll post as we are able below, but be sure to get out there and enjoy Spring!


The Tinking Turtle team.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Idea of Thirds for Online Content

This is the next edition of a semi-regular series From the Business Desk I am writing to look at some of the important factors in running a Small Fiber Arts Business.  This feature revolves around some ideas and concepts that you can use when posting content online and via social media.

Driving content to any website or blog isn't easy.  Especially with the proliferation of social media and so-called link aggregation sites like Buzzfeed or Tumblr, online viewers are faced with an overwhelming amount of content to sift through.  How can you, the publisher, rise above the noise, and provide your audience with a healthy variety of content to keep them engaged and continuing to return to your site?  Social Media giant Facebook has some analysis from their experience, much of it is good advice: ask questions, vary your style, and keep up your volume.

In terms of content, however, there's a quick little memonic that I've always believed in to help you not only have varied style and volume, but different topics as well.  I think this is particularly apropos for the fiberarts industry, where so much of the culture and community is derived from sharing new ideas and teaching others' new tips and techniques. It's called the Idea (or rule) of Thirds for Online Content.  It goes like this:

1/3 of your content should be Informational
1/3 should be Instructional
1/3 should be Personal

Here at Tinking Turtle, we try (and emphasis on try given life's challenges as mentioned before) to come up with a monthly posting schedule and theme, and then break down the posts based on these buckets.

This is our Posting Schedule for last November.  Note the other topics for me at the bottom... I'm just now getting to writing about the Idea of Thirds!
Each of these buckets can engage a different set of readers, or engage frequent readers in different ways.  The Informational grouping for content can encompass topics such as reviews of new patterns, new yarns, new books, or other knowledge based topics that you the poster want to share with your audience, for example this post you're reading!  Instructional topics are pretty straight forward, and engage the folks' who peruse your site hoping to learn something new (like Jen's Embroidering with Crochet piece) or with a question to be answered.  Instructional topics can also lead into a more active offline engagement with readers, as once they have learned a technique or style they may want to pursue that with you through one on one interactions or even taking an in depth class.

Personal topics are topic matter most commonly associated with blogs; they are stories, experiences, and musings of the poster (such as my German Restaurant post about the origins of the Tinking Turtle name from last year) and add a human element to a website.  Readers want to know they are dealing with people, not robots, and having this down to earth content helps drive that connection to keep them coming back.

There are any number of ways you can break down posting content to achieve variety to provide engaging and provoking content.  The Idea of Thirds is one great concept to keep in the back of your mind when contemplating your online content, whatever the platform, going forward!

~ Mr. Turtle

Friday, April 11, 2014

Changes Afoot

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by mattcornock
You might've noticed I've been a little distracted lately - and it's been for a good reason. Michael and I will be moving to Ashland, Virginia (just north of Richmond) during the month of May.  It's actually multi-step move, as Michael's new job with Capital One starts at the end of April, but my obligations (and the end of our lease) hold us in the area until late May.

Now, I'm sure that you might have several questions in relation to this change, which I'll do my best to answer here.

What will happen if I'm signed up for a class with you?
Any classes I have planned now through the end of the summer will happen as usual.  I'll be traveling to the area regularly to teach the classes - Ashland isn't too far for me to make the trip!

Will you be continuing to do finishing?
I will!  While the details are still be ironed out, I'll be traveling frequently enough to the DC area that there will be regular pickups and dropoffs of work.  I'll also be rolling out a modified pricing list that will better represent time estimates for your benefit.

Will you still be teaching in the DC area?
Yes!  For those of you who love to take my classes at Fibre Space and Woolwinders, I will be maintaining my relationship with both stores, and coming up to teach at regular intervals (at least once a month, with the exception of some summer months.

What if I want to take a private lesson with you?
I love teaching private lessons, and will continue to do so at both Woolwinders and Fibre Space.  If you are interested in taking a private lesson with me specifically, drop me a note, and I'd be happy to schedule you around my group classes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sea Cap a Beanie No More

This evening Michael was throwing his clothes from SEA in the wash - as they stunk to high heaven.  One of the things was the SEA watchman's cap that I knit for him after he went through the program the first time.  As he was getting ready to put stuff in the wash, we had a conversation that went like this:

Me: You know, I think that's wool.
Him: No, I'm fairly sure it's acrylic.  You wouldn't make something for me that was wool after the socks I felted.
Me: *Dubious* Well, okay, if you're sure.

You know what's going to happen here, right?  Just in case it isn't obvious, this was our conversation about an hour later.

Him: Sweetheart, guess what.
Me: *wary* What?
Him: The hat felted.

Turns out that when I said it was Wool, Michael thought I meant it was washable wool, like my socks (which go in the wash, but not the dryer.  We had to have a conversation between super-wash and normal wool.
I don't think this hat really fits anymore...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

KAL and Other Things

The past week has been a rather rough one, hence my radio silence.  My grandmother, whom I'm very close to, has gone on hospice, and I am up in Massachusetts spending some time with her and supporting my mother.  If you email me, message me on Facebook or Ravelry, your response might be a while in coming, as I don't have that much time to spend on my computer.

On a quick other note, Dragonfly and Tinking Turtle have an Octopodes KAL running from now to the end of April.  What is a KAL you ask?  A KAL is a group of people knitting the same project together.  We help each other out - in this case, I'll be doing a series of blog posts on techniques having to do with Octopodes, and there will be contests and prizes for the winners.

Check it out!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Attack of the Yan Snatchers!

Yesterday a Michael was getting ready for work he told me that he had a dream about the cats getting into the yarn.  After he was finished telling me about the dream, I commented how long it had been since the cats had gotten into the yarn - I'd gotten good about making sure to put things away at the end of the evening.  He laughed and headed out of the bedroom as I began dragging myself out of bed, when suddenly I heard, "Sweetheart..." and the note in his voice made me very nervous.

"The cats got into your yarn."

Michael must have heard the cats running around in his sleep and realized what it meant.  The cats had really gotten into my yarn this time.  500 plus yards of yarn were spread throughout the main room of our apartment, threading themselves through chairs and tables, around the couch and the rest of the room.

The cats had a really good time.  Somehow Peake (and I know it was Peake, as he looked entirely too smug) managed to push open the zipper of my backpack and get into my knitting bag from there.

The last two nights have been spent untangling their mess, but I'm happy to report that no yarn was lost to their play.
It's a good thing these guys are so cute.  I'm nearly over being mad at them.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Post Mortem Part 1: Octopodes Socks

Back about a year and a half ago I had an idea for a pair of mittens - a cute little pair with an octopus on them.  So I printed out some knitting graph paper and sketched out a design.  I thought I wanted to either self-publish these or submit them to Knitty (because what other publication would want octopus mittens? - they seemed pretty niche), and then I wrote a proposal for yarn support and sent it to Dragonfly.  It went like this:

I could have fallen over when Kate, from Dragonfly, said yes.  Since Dragonfly is not even a 10 minute drive away, I went to them to pick the yarn up.  When talking to one of Kate's employees (who were helping me with the color choices), she advised me toward the Silver Fox and Poseidon.  I'd been looking at Kelpie and an Orange that I liked - and she mentioned that it might not be such a good idea, as there was already a pair of blue and orange octopus mittens on Ravelry... which were also done in similar yarn.

I quickly settled on the Silver Fox and Poseidon after that.  And then I went home to Ravelry to look up the mittens - titled Octopus Mittens.  They were lovely.  Amazing.  And I couldn't believe that Emily Peters had gotten to the idea first.

I was devastated.  I'd really loved my idea of Octopus Mittens, and I didn't want to give it up... but I was so rattled by the similarities I didn't know what to do.

That evening I told Michael (now Mr.Turtle) about my dilemma.  His response?  "Put them on a pair of socks.  Socks are the same as mittens, right?  I mean, one has thumbs, the other has heels.  Both only have one hole."

That bit of common sense broke my panic.  Emily's octopus was completely different from mine.  Mine was a little cutesy, and hers was definitely more tentacle-ly.  Hers had bubbles and the design moving onto the palm, mine did not.  And now we were even working in different colors.

And I had chosen sock yarn for the mitten pattern - so no problems there.  Socks they would be then!  So I began knitting on the socks - not realizing there'd be a lot more to this design.  Stay tuned tomorrow for Post Mortem - Part II!

Did you know that Dragonfly and I are running a KAL, starting on the 24th?  Pick out your yarn and get your needles ready (or even get a head start!) for an epic KAL.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Official: Octopodes, my pattern in Knitty, is out!

I can finally share the exciting news!  Octopodes is my latest pattern, published in Knitty.  I am so excited to share the news - I've been holding onto it for what feels like forever!

As a thrilling addition, there will be an Octopodes KAL starting on March 24th, hosted in Dragonfly Fiber's Ravelry Group (they're the ones who provided the delicious yarn!).  There are going to be prizes!  I'll be doing a series of blog posts and tutorials to go along with the KAL (and there may be some other exciting things in regards to the KAL coming up)!  Stay tuned for more information, or sign up for the newsletter and get the information delivered straight to your inbox.

If you love the design, please share it on Facebook, Ravelry or Twitter - spread the word!

The Details:

by Jennifer Raymond

Craft: Knitting
Category: Feet / Legs → Socks → Mid-calf
Published: March 2014
Yarn weight: Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi) Information on yarn weights
Gauge: 36 stitches and 36.5 rows = 4 inches in In Stranded Colorwork
Needle size: US 1 - 2.25 mm
Yardage: 226 - 442 yards (207 - 404 m)
Sizes available: XS[S, M, L, XL]

 This pattern is available for free.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

PPST.... it's almost time!

This weekend I was kept hopping with exciting stuff in the background, and a set of really
wonderful classes both Saturday and Sunday.  So much fun!

This week some exciting things are happening (I want to share more, I really do, but you'll have to wait with me - so hard!), and I'm nearly beside myself with anticipation.

So, for those of you who are up late, you'll get a special treat: a little sneak peek.

Because I can never resist giving hints!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Post Mortem: Larkin

Larkin is the story of the design call that could.  Just like the iconic train saying "I think I can," Larkin was a design I believed in from the beginning, but one that just had to keep plugging along until it got accepted. Larkin started out as "50's Flame" - a vintage inspired top for a design call for Three Irish Girls nearly 4 years ago.  It looked like this:

It got rejected.  I also submitted it to Knitpicks, Interweave Knits, and a handful of other design calls.  Each time it would come back, a few months later, unchosen.  Which happens.  I knew the design was a good one, but it just never was quite what the editing team was looking for.

So I'd wait until another design call came along where this pattern would fit, repackage the pattern, and submit again.

Until last year, with Classic Elite.  Over time the design layout had been updated, I'd gotten a new logo and a new company name. The wording had changed (a little) and the name had changed.  It was now called Flaming Mamie, after a great swingy song I used to sing at camp.
Let's be frank - not much changed.  But this time it was the right time, right place, right design, and CEY picked the design up.

So let's compare the sketch to the finished product:

Puffed sleeves, flame motif, same neckline, scoop neck and false neckline.  The flames in this yarn are a little squatter and slimmer- I made them slightly smaller to accommodate sizing.  The ribbing along the neckline went away, because I thought the more rustic neck matched the yarn, and I wanted to keep that area a little less busy.  But otherwise?  Not much changed.  The things that made me believe this design was a keeper in the first place remained the things that I love in the finished product.

I love how the sleeves are slightly pleated.  I love how the ribbing runs seamlessly into the pattern.  I love how the design is slightly retro and oh-so feminine.  I love the figure-complimenting look.

I just kept pitching the design until someone saw it's potential.  Thank-you CEY!

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