How to Make Good Crafting Decisions



Did you know I used to hate shawls? I've come around, obviously. My struggle was more with how to style them. Fortunately, my friends have taught me to appreciate the versatility and warmth of a shawl. And it's easy to love how shawls don't have to fit (no sleeves! no torso!).

Which brings me to my new pattern. It's a shawl called Caravanserai. Here's the blurb, or "pattern romance," about it:

For the travel-loving knitter, this generously sized triangular shawl packs down to nothing. Caravanserai’s bold color changes and geometric lace are just the ticket, whether you’re twirling the night away in your favorite little black dress, dining al fresco in Amalfi, or warming-up après ski. Built centuries ago in the desert regions of Asia and North Africa, a caravanserai was a roadside inn with a central courtyard where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Wherever you’re headed, toss a playful tassel across your shoulder and enjoy the airy drape of this fly-off-the-needles statement shawl.

Through the end of July 2018, I am donating 50% of Caravanserai pattern sales to RAICES, to support their work providing legal services for immigrant families. You can find more information about RAICES here:

If you knit, please consider picking up a copy of the pattern. And if you don't knit, please consider picking up a pattern anyway! I'm sure you can convince someone to knit the shawl for you or at least teach you how to do it for yourself. Also, please share this post! The more patterns I sell, the bigger the donation to RAICES, an organization doing really important work.


The yarn I used for Caravanserai is Cormo Fingering by Sincere Sheep. The moment I shipped Sincere Sheep my sample for their show booth, I began work on another version in the same yarn for myself. I'm working from my stash for this one. It has been surprisingly fun to mix and match colors I'd never have thought would work together. I have one row left of diamonds to do, then I'm on to the tassels. It's a good summer project--not too hot, easy to pick up and put down without losing my place, and super portable.

This summer, in and around craft projects, travel, and everything else, we've been talking a lot in our family about making good decisions as consumers. Plastic Free July and watching Blue Planet have been the catalysts for the discussions. Eliminating plastic waste wherever possible is important and so is thinking more broadly about other purchasing decisions. Fortunately, we all can address more than one issue at a time. What easier place to start than in our crafts? I mention yarn and knitting here, but these considerations apply to any other craft. They also apply to anything you want or need to buy. But sometimes it's easier to start new habits on something less daunting than every aspect of your entire life. Here are my thoughts so far.

Making Good Crafting Decisions

Use what you've got

  • Reduce waste by working from your stash whenever possible.
  • Consider giving previously knitted yarn a new life by knitting it into something else. Check out the Unraveling Club at Reunion Yarn.

What? You don't have enough yarn in your stash and lack the patience of a saint required for unraveling? I hear you. That's me usually me, too. Most often, a new project means shopping for new yarn. But before buying...

Do some research before you buy

I know. I'm so eager to get started on that new project, too. But remember that crafting is, compared to many things in our modern world, slow. It is also optional. If you're going to spend all those hours knitting that sweater, shawl, pair of socks or first hat, you can afford to spend some time doing some research to make good decisions about your yarn (and patterns, too).

When shopping for new yarn, go deeper than the basic questions of what's required for the pattern, what fiber you like, and what colors you prefer. Ask questions like, who's behind this company that makes the yarn I want to buy? What are their manufacturing and employment practices? Are those practices sustainable and fair? What are the company's values? The "About" section on most companies' websites will often answer many of these questions. if not, ask. Send the company a direct message through social media, drop an email to customer support, or buck the text/email/dm trend and call them on the phone.

Actions matter more than intentions

Remember that the answers you get about a company's values and practices may not match how a company acts. It's the actions, not the intentions, that matter. Pay attention to what a company actually does, call them out when they blow it, and let them know what (if anything) they can do to have a chance to earn back your business.

Speak up

Speaking up about your decision to take your business elsewhere is critical to raising a company's awareness and hopefully, encouraging them to do better.

For example, you can read here about an issue that Lady Dye Yarns experienced and shared regarding Madeline Tosh. Madeline Tosh's response to me and others on Instagram regarding this issue was so toxically dismissive that I plan to never buy their yarn or any other product from them ever again, and I let them know as much. Another recent example involves Brooklyn Tweed. You can read here about their "dick move." I have unsubscribed from their newsletter and told them why I'm not buying from them.

In short: Be resourceful, get informed, speak up, and support companies and people who deserve your business. Repeat.

You can find the Caravanserai shawl pattern in my Ravelry shop.

The Latest: News and Knitting

This week's blog post was going to be entirely about the knitting patterns I released into the wild late last week. But this weekend, white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, and through their acts of terrorism, they severely injured and killed people, including Deandre Harris and Heather Heyer. The president has, once again, shown us who he is by failing to immediately denounce the neo-Nazis and their actions. I wish I were shocked.

I've read great pieces about how we can respond to the events in Charlottesville, including this one, and this one, about how to talk to children about it.

But a "what happened in Charlottesville" conversation is a tiny part of the ongoing conversation we (and when I say "we," I mean white people, in particular) need have every day with our children. Hate mongers don't get to decide when I address racism (or any other societal scourge) with Wyatt. So today? We continued reading Rad Women Worldwide. We read about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. Sophie's story is inspiring, remarkable, and so worth your time. I hadn't heard it before this week. Here are some of the things we discussed in connection with our reading:

  • "Wait. So she JOINED the Nazis? Didn't she know they were bad?" (She joined because she didn't know what they were about. When she learned they were about hatred and inequality, she fought them.)
  • "I'm smiling right now because she was so brave making those papers and leaving them around--she could have been arrested for that!" (YES!)
  • "Do the people that hate always lose? Like in that war we talked about, the one before the enslaved people were free, and in this one, the Nazis lost. But if they lose, they don't always get killed, right? So there are still some of those kinds of people around." (Right. We've talked about them before. People who hate other people because their skin is a different color, for example.)
  • "Hang on. So those Nazi people liked people like them. And I'm white like them, so they'd like me, right?" (Ah. Good point. They might. But they don't like people who stand up for others, either. I know it feels good when people like us. But it's okay, and sometimes it's really good, not to be liked. You're safe. Your dad and I and other grown-ups keep you safe. There are a lot more people (like us) who believe in equality and fairness, and we win because we work together.)

We win because we work together. May it be so.


In lowercase "n" news, I published some patterns last week. (No, there aren't any good transitions from Nazis to knitting. Trust me. I've looked.) My Coastal Urban Trails Collection includes patterns for three accessories inspired by the rugged beauty (and fog!) of San Francisco’s beaches, parks, and open spaces. All three patterns include two versions: one for a bulky yarn and one for a lighter weight yarn.

There's a hat, Nest: Dove (in O-Wool Chunky Merino) and Hummingbird (in O-Wool Local).

There's a cowl, Strata: Mountain (in O-Wool Legacy Bulky) and Sand (in Sincere Sheep Equity Sport).

And there are also boot cuffs!  Footpath: Stroll (in O-Wool Legacy Bulky) and Hike (in Sincere Sheep Equity Sport).

Nest and Strata use a technique called helix knitting (or helical stripes) (like a barber pole!) in their construction. I have included how-to instructions and a link to a video, too. It's hard for me to believe I've been working on these patterns since the winter; no one ever said I was efficient or prolific in this new occupation. I am pretty excited to see how much people enjoy knitting and wearing them.

(If you're so inclined, each pattern is available individually in my Ravelry store, and the ebook containing all three is 15% off through the end of August.)