New pattern: Waverley

This is Chad. He’s a knitting and crochet designer and teacher who loves cephalopods and the color teal.

In 2019, I was approached by MDK editors to contribute a pattern to their book of KnitStrips — knitting patterns written as if they were in a comic book or graphic novel. Further limitations placed on the request were that the pattern had to be gauge and yarn-agnostic, and (unbeknownst to me) I’d have to actually lay out the graphic novel pages myself (their artists would take my layout and “art-ify” it). This was all well beyond my comfort level, and I struggled quite a bit — first misunderstanding the nature of the request, then missing the whole thing about doing my own graphic storyboard for it. I ended up working up a whole sample (seen above on Chad) that didn’t even meet the initial requirements, and had to rework another sample later that year. I was pretty done with the pattern at that point, and ended up making a Moebius cowl that was a bit shorter than it should have been.

Fast-forward to 2021; I had heard nothing throughout the pandemic but finally I got a message from the editors that they weren’t using my pattern and that the rights were reverting to me. I got the sample in the mail a few weeks later. The original sample was also one that had survived the fire, so I now have both samples available, and the pattern was mostly written. Rather than trying to shoehorn such a non-traditional pattern into my usual format, I kept most of the formatting I had worked up for the “storyboard” and added a series of instructional pages in the middle.

Waverley is a pattern that differs greatly from my usual “engineered” style. Aside from a mention of the yarn used to make the sample (Elemental Affects Cormo), there’s no mention of specific gauge, needle size, or yarn weight. This is due to the original pattern requirements, but also because the pattern does work in almost any combination of those things, depending on what you’re trying to get out of it. I have a simple formula for the cast-on which allows you to approximately work out the width of a piece without measuring it. I have a number of ideas which you can use to get the kind of garment — worked flat or in the round — that you’d prefer. Aside from that, it’s a pretty basic intro-level pattern with one extra trick (grafting) as an option depending on what you choose to create.

The return of this pattern to my stable is also a bit of a blessing because it gives me a leg up on my next collection of topological knitwear. As you may remember, I got my start knitting Moebius cowls before I had even heard of double-knitting — and yet, I have never made a double-knit Moebius cowl (until now). This pattern will be the framework on which I build two different Moebius constructions (only the simple one is available now).

Get the pattern now on Ravelry — or join my Patreon before Oct 18th and get it (and any more patterns that come out while you are a Patron) for free!

In other news

My new workshop format (in which I will be recording workshops for future viewing by any who enrolled) seems to be taking off, or maybe it’s just the season. Today’s workshop on Multi-color double-knitting has sold out — and more than sold out, because anyone who marked “No” on their plans to come to the class vs watch it later meant I could open another seat. In the end, I have 20 “actual” seats filled and 5 more who intend only to watch later. So I can sell more enrollments (yay!) while still keeping a number of “live” participants at a comfortable level.

Next month I continue the experiment by adding some weekday evening workshop slots. While these slots won’t work as well for some people, I am curious if people will still enroll (at least at the base price) to get access to the recording. These October workshops still have space, so enroll now before they don’t! November and December will be announced soon.

Also, if you’re excited about getting recorded workshop access and expect to take more workshops in the future because of this, consider joining my Patreon at the Extreme tier, where you’ll get (among other things) a free workshop of your choice from my BuildingBlox virtual series each month (subject to availability).

Next weekend, I head to Amherst, MA to take part in an even grander experiment: an in-person show (the WEBS Retreat) for the first time in almost 2 years. My in-person chops may be rusty, but we’ll see!

Finally, the Wuxing: 5 Elements collection is almost complete. The pattern for the Bocote hat is done; I’m just working up the sample for photographing. I hope it’ll be ready for consumption next month. You can always grab the collection now, and when the new pattern is released, it’ll drop into your library automatically.

Survey Results … and lots more

Fallingblog Podcast #5 is now up!

Last time I posted, I was trying to get you to take a survey I was running to try to determine current levels of interest in my virtual workshops, as well as many other facets of Fallingblox Designs. The survey was up for about a month and closed with 216 responses. Today, I’ve got a new Fallingblog Podcast where I talk about some of the results of the survey and what they’re going to mean for Fallingblox Designs going forward.

I’ve also lived up to the promise I made to split off the “technique of the month” segments from the podcasts, and I’ve released two more Youtube videos on double-knitting single decreases and troubleshooting your double-knitting.

One of the big takeaways from the podcast might be a game-changer for my virtual workshops. I had a number of people respond that they were frequently unable to get to the workshop during its time slot, due to schedule conflicts or time-zone issues — but that they’d be interested in recorded workshops. I also had plenty of people request to be able to go back and rewatch parts of the workshop. I had been resisting recording my workshops because of the cost — I had tried it once, and the resulting file was about 1gb in size, which takes up my entire Zoom cloud storage. But I figured that if this made the workshops more marketable, it might just mean that I’d get enough extra monthly income to make the cost of extra cloud storage worth it.

So I’m going to be recording my workshops in the future — the recording will be accessible to all who enroll, whether or not they attend! And I’ve got some other big plans but will hold off on announcing the next steps until I’ve made sure the first steps work. For now, I can tell you that I scheduled my first Fall 2021 workshop as a Multi-color Double-knitting workshop (the most popular according to the survey) about a week ago, let folks know about it, and it’s technically sold out already. Also, the number of students who paid over the minimum is much higher this time, which I think indicates greater perceived value in a workshop which can be accessed later. I have added a few more slots, so it’s not completely sold out yet.

I’m also experimenting with weekday evening workshops, per the survey results which show significant interest in those times. I’ll be interested to see if signups are higher for those, again, due to the recording.

So, without further ado, here are the September/October BuildingBlox virtual workshops. I am currently not scheduled to teach workshops with any other show during this time period, except the WEBS Fall Knitting Retreat, which is (so far, anyway) going to be taking place in person! All times are in Eastern Time:

To see what else is coming up (virtual and in person), visit my calendar.

In other news

The Bocote hat (the final hat from the Wuxing: 5 Elements collection) has hit a snag but is still on track for release this Fall. This will complete the collection, and I will then work on putting the whole thing together as an ebook rather than 5 separate patterns. If there’s enough interest, I may also consider printing the booklet, similar to the Parallax collection.

Patreon patrons in the Modern and Extreme tiers got another advanced double-knitting video recently, and I’m hoping to have another announcement for Extreme-tier patrons soon. If you’re interested in getting access to those perks and more, consider becoming a patron today.

Finally, if you didn’t fill out the survey but still want to get an email when a workshop you’re interested in is scheduled, visit my new workshop interest signup form!

Thanks for your continued interest, stay tuned, and I’ll post again soon(ish).

Alasdair Post-Quinn, “Softwear Engineer,” Fallingblox Designs

Help Fallingblox Designs Grow!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have had a chance to fill out a survey I posted around this time last year. A lot has happened since then, and many of you have had chances to take virtual workshops with me. As we approach a relaxing of pandemic restrictions here in the US (whether or not that’s a good idea right now), you may be wondering whether the BuildingBlox workshop series is about to encounter the chopping block in favor of a return to live events.

Rest assured, I will continue to run virtual workshops. It has become clear that this is a viable medium, as well as a great equalizer — many people who are not able to travel to the big shows where these workshops are ordinarily taught are now able to learn these techniques, and my sliding scale enrollment fees make it easier than ever to learn them from the comfort of your own home.

But I am also looking toward the future, and as I think about the evolution of Fallingblox Designs, I want to make sure you have a chance to weigh in on that future. Are you interested in virtual workshops? What kinds? What about books? Should I keep making those in this increasingly digital age? Answer these questions and more on my 2021 Survey!

In other news

I have been delaying scheduling of June and July workshops because I’ve been waiting to hear about a couple of events (including a wedding) which I needed to schedule around. Now that my non-knitting schedule has solidified, I’m free to offer some workshops, so here’s the current list for June and July (including Stitches and Fiberworld!). Links for the Stitches workshops are not yet live but will be soon. Check my calendar for updates.

If you are a member of my Patreon at the Extreme tier, remember that you are welcome to attend one of my BuildingBlox workshops per month for no charge; simply contact me to request the one(s) you want. If you are not a Patron yet, or are supporting at one of the lower tiers, and would like to have an easy way to take a lot of my workshops (in addition to all the other perks), consider joining at the Extreme tier! Thank you!

Wuxing and Workshops

The Wuxing: 5 Elements collection has been at 2 out of 5 patterns since October of 2020, when Honey Locust came out. Since then, I have struggled with the Metal-themed hat (now called Spinneret) and could not release Pluvium (the water-themed hat) until Spinneret was released (due to the progression of the elements). Both hats are finally released and have been added to the collection. If you have already bought Wuxing: 5 Elements on Ravelry, you should have received a notification when the patterns were added. If you have not, the patterns will all be available for you whenever you decide to take the plunge.

By the way, if you’re interested in getting this collection as well as any upcoming patterns I release for free, join my Patreon! Higher tiers also get access to a growing library of double-knitting videos that go well beyond the basics, and more.

There is one more hat to do, and I expect it to take rather less time to design and knit than the Spinneret. The Wood-themed hat will be done in three-color off-the-grid double-knitting, a combination of techniques not yet attempted but very much anticipated. I have already begun the planning and am liking the direction things are going so far. I hope to have it completed and released before the Fall. When all five patterns are released, I plan to combine them all into a single eBook which will have detailed photo instructions for all of the techniques involved. If there is sufficient interest, I may do a limited print run of the collection as well.

Also, better photos will be forthcoming in the final eBook, if not sooner. Due to the pandemic, I have had to use Philip (and his post-fire successor, also named Philip) to model the most recent hats.

In other news

I have scheduled a couple of BuildingBlox workshops for May, as well as a couple of intro workshops for the May VKL. I also have two workshops coming up this coming weekend, so if either of those interest you, please sign up soon. For all of my upcoming appearances, please visit my Calendar. Without further ado, here are the workshops coming up in the next 30 days:

If you are interested in taking my BuildingBlox workshops on a regular basis, here’s another plug for my Patreon. For only a little more than the minimum fee on my workshops’ sliding scale, my Extreme-tier patrons get access to one of my workshops per month for free (subject to availability), along with many other perks.

New Podcast episode and more

Hello and thank you for your patience with me as I worked out some technical limitations on my podcast. In the end, I had to step back and not let the attempt to fix the technical troubles delay me, but find a way to move forward despite them.

So without further ado, here’s Fallingblog Podcast #3. In it, I talk about my workshops (and the difference between taking a workshop with me at one of the big shows vs through my BuildingBlox series), two new/newish patterns and the first look at the completed Spinneret pattern (the Metal hat from my Wuxing: 5 Elements collection), a pattern focus on the Heartbound Again hat and headband, and a how-to on double-knit single decreases.

For those curious about Spinneret and Pluvium (the water hat, completed months ago but unable to be released because it was out of sequence), I have test knitters finishing with it and shortly thereafter I’ll be releasing both patterns simultaneously. Then all that’s left is to finish the Wood hat, the last in the collection. As always, with this collection, you can buy into it whenever you want, and when the new patterns are released, they’ll be added to your Ravelry library.

In other news, I wanted to update you on some of the workshops I mentioned last time, but now with counts of how many spots are left. The only one in danger of cancellation is currently the VKL Multi-color session.

Stitches At Home:
Fri, Apr 9, 2-4pm: Intro to Double-knitting (8 spots left)
Sat, Apr 10, 2-4pm: Double-knitting Off The Grid (15 spots left)
Sun, Apr 11, 2-4pm: Two-pattern Double-knitting (11 spots left)

Virtual Knitting Live (cannot link to individual workshops):
Thu, Apr 15, 2-4pm: Intro to Double-knitting (7 spots left)
Thu, Apr 15, 7-9pm: Multi-color Double-knitting (25 spots left — may be cancelled)
Fri, Apr 16, 2-4pm: Texture in Double-knitting (20 spots left)
Sun, Apr 18, 7-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting (22 spots left)

BuildingBlox Virtual Workshops:
Sat, Apr 17, 10-5pm: Double-knitting Entrelac (10 spots left)
Sat, Apr 24, 1-4pm: Marling with Double-knitting (16 spots left)
Sun, Apr 25, 2-5pm: Intro to Double-knitting (19 spots left)

I am also teaching at FiberWorld 2021, but registration for that opens on May 15th.

If you’re itching for in-person workshops, I am still expecting to be teaching at Red Alder (Tacoma, WA) in February of 2022, but I have also received an overture from another event in September of this year which is trying to go in-person. More updates on those as I have them.

More workshops and two “new” patterns!

I have two exciting announcements and I don’t know which is more so — but an announcement about workshops is more time-sensitive so I’ll put it in first.

As the last post about workshops ended with March 7th, it’s about time I updated the list. So, without further ado, here it is:

Saturday, March 13th, Sunday, March 14th and Saturday, March 20th, 3-5pm: Stitches at HomeDesign your own Double-knit Hat (3 2-hour sessions) (yes, this starts tomorrow so get in now if you want to!)

BuildingBlox workshops (3 hr sessions)
Saturday, April 17th, 10am-5pm: Double-knitting Entrelac
Saturday, April 24th, 1-4pm: Marling with Double-knitting
Sunday, April 25th, 2-5pm: Intro to Double-knitting

Virtual Knitting Live (2 hr sessions)
Thursday, March 18th, 7-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting
Friday, March 19th, 7-9pm: Multi-color Double-knitting
Saturday, March 20th, 7-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting
Sunday, March 21st, 2-4pm: Two-pattern Double-knitting

Friday, March 19th, 4:30pm: Swatch What Happens Live at VKL with Lucy Neatby and Josh Bennett!
Tuesday, April 6th, 7pm: London (Ontario) District Weavers & Spinners Guild
Wednesday, April 14th, 8pm: Fox Valley Knitters Guild

A few items of note:

Double-knitting Entrelac is the highly-sought-after 2-session workshop that I almost never get to teach. This will be my first time teaching it in the virtual environment, so I hope it’ll be a success.

Marling with Double-knitting is a brand-new workshop which I have taught for Stitches but never to “my own” audience. It’s an intermediate-level workshop which is easily done having only taken the intro class.

Patrons of the Extreme tier of my Patreon now get their choice of one BuildingBlox workshop per month (alongside all the other perks), so keep that in mind if you’re interested in taking a number of my workshops!

Now, to the patterns!

By a coincidence, both of these patterns are based on the classic Falling Blocks hat from 2010. One is a pattern I designed in 2013 for the Willow Colorwork Club; the other is a new design which is a simpler rendition of that pattern. They are both “new” (in quotes) because one was previously available through Willow Yarns but I have reformatted and updated the pattern slightly; the other is merely a derivative pattern of an even older one.

Falling Blocks Redux simplifies the two patterns of the Falling Blocks hat to two colors rather than three. It occurred to me, while I was doing a workshop on two-pattern double-knitting, that all of the samples I had to show in two colors used lettering to show off the two-pattern properties of the fabric. I have three-color patterns that use two-pattern concepts for more complex patterning, but not in two colors. So Falling Blocks Redux fills a gap in the world of two-pattern projects — and is a great place to start for people who loved the Falling Blocks hat but didn’t want to deal with three colors. The crown on this is just stunning, so have a look at its pattern page on my website. Thank you to Holli Rossum for knitting up the sample!

Shadow Boxes further simplifies the tumbling blocks pattern; there is no second pattern on the other layer — it’s just standard double-knitting — and I’ve removed every other diagonal strip of cubes to create this shadow effect. Due to Covid and the shortage of available models, I’m making a rare selfie appearance in this pattern. Thanks to Denise Palmer for knitting up the sample!

Stay tuned for more news soon!

Workshops abound this Winter!

(sadly not in person, sorry!)

As we look forward to Spring, there is still quite a bit of Winter (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) left and many virtual double-knitting workshops to teach! Without further ado, here’s the list of my upcoming workshops so far (all via Zoom):

Sat, Jan 23, 2-5pmDouble-knitting Lace (7 spots left – yes, this is THIS Saturday)

Stitches Expo at Home (all workshops 2 hrs long):
Fri, Feb 05, 11am-1pm: Intro to Double-knitting
Sat, Feb 06, 11am-1pm: Double-knitting Cables
Sun, Feb 07, 2-4pm: Marling with Double-knitting

Virtual Knitting Live (all workshops 2 hrs long):
Thu, Feb 11, 7-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting
Fri, Feb 12, 7-9pm: Texture in Double-knitting

Sat, Feb 13, 1-4pmDouble-knitting Intarsia
Sat, Feb 20, 1-4pmDouble-knitting Off The Grid

Sun, Feb 21, 12-3pm: Intro to Double-knitting via Plymouth Harbor Knits

Sun, Mar 07, 2-5pmDouble-knitting Cables

Looking further forward, I will also be speaking at a virtual meeting of the Big Apple Knitters’ Guild on May 8th, and will be teaching at FiberWorld 2021 in July. For more info on those and more, visit my calendar!

In other news

My first Fallingblog video podcast is up on my Youtube channel; the second is in the works but may be a little delayed due to a last-minute change in my day job’s schedule. I’m hoping to have one out at the end of each month but until I get into the groove, it may not be totally regular. Stay tuned on my channel to be informed as soon as a new episode comes out!

During the next podcast, I will show the new hat in progress from the Wuxing: 5 Elements collection; in the meantime, if you want to see more progress shots of this and future patterns, consider joining my Patreon! Patrons of the “Modern” tier also get access to a (slowly) growing video library which now includes a new video on an esoteric technique which will be used in the new pattern!

Stay tuned for more news soon!

Start 2021 with a bang! or at least a new double-knitting skill

2020 is almost over, and I’ve settled into the virtual workshop space where I should have been comfortably situated months ago. I’ve reworked many of my workshops and will be able to offer more of them in the 2-hour windows used by the big virtual shows like Stitches and Vogue. But I’m continuing to run my standalone workshops as well, under the BuildingBlox name again. Because I don’t need to share the fees with anyone else, I can afford to make these workshops less expensive (although they are pay-what-you-want above a modest minimum), with a smaller number of students and a longer 3-hour format. I also get to choose which workshops I run, so you’ll be more likely to see the advanced workshops in the BuildingBlox format.

For a quick view of what’s coming up, always check my calendar! But if you want to focus specifically on the BuildingBlox workshops, you can visit their page — and if you’re looking for the next time I’m teaching a specific workshop, you can visit each workshop page for a workshop-specific calendar. Keep reading for a list of the January workshops, though.

I have two exciting workshop-related announcements:

  1. It’s been a long while since I released a new workshop, so if you’ve been waiting for something that’s not quite the same as the others I’ve run before, you’re in luck. I’m offering my new workshop “Marling with Double-knitting” to the Vogue Virtual Knitting Live show in January (normally I would release a new workshop to my followers first, but I needed to offer them an alternative to what they really wanted which was my two-pattern workshop).
  2. My two-pattern workshop has been the hardest of all my workshops to execute in the virtual space, primarily because it requires a pencil and paper for the worksheet, and in this day and age I cannot guarantee that everyone has access to a printer. So I needed to come up with an online option that would maintain the interactive element that is the key to this workshop. Enter George, a programmer and knitter who offered to write the software that will let me run this workshop again! I wanted to offer this to my folks first to make sure everything is working before I let the big shows jump on it.

Without further ado, here are the workshops I am teaching so far in 2021. All times are in EST/EDT:

Stay tuned for more in February and beyond!

In Other News

Tomorrow (Dec. 18) is the last day you can order books and patterns from my online store for delivery by Christmas — although, with the state of the USPS right now, there is still a risk. I will do everything I can to get you your stuff quickly. If you are not in a rush, I will be turning on Media Mail as a shipping option again after the holiday rush is over.

If you have been on the fence about joining my Patreon, you should consider it. I’ve got some new perks coming soon for all three tiers, and you’re going to need to be there to take advantage of some of them. You can read more about it or just go straight there. Thank you so much for your support!

If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for my video podcast, I did some preliminary filming but didn’t like the way it came out. I know that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” so I will try to get something out before the end of the year, even if it’s not as polished as I’d like it. However, I did finally put out the bind-off video I’ve been promising for the past several years. Subscribe to my Youtube channel to get notifications when I post new stuff (including the podcast)!

If you’ve been waiting for the new installment in the Wuxing: 5 Elements collection, thank you for your patience. I have been hitting some designer block on this pattern, but I think I have made a breakthrough and should be under way on it soon.

Thanks for your continued interest!

Alasdair Post-Quinn, “Softwear Engineer,” Fallingblox Designs

Alasdair in Video

If you’ve been following me for the past … well … any amount of time, really, you’ve probably heard about (or seen) some video content of mine. I put out Youtube videos to support the Four Winds hat for Twist Collective, and have had a Craftsy class since the early days of that platform. Since then, I’ve done a handful of other videos and recently started a series of Facebook Live videos every other Friday. I kept those up through the fire and demolition of my home, but in recent weeks, live viewership has dropped off (with most viewers tuning in later).

I have, for the longest time, planned to do more with video, with little success. During the process of writing Double or Nothing, I shot a number of videos of the techniques which were covered in the still shots in the book. But because I went straight into the rework of Extreme Double-knitting, those videos just sat on the back burner. The livestreams were kind of a pilot for an eventual podcast, but the fire knocked me back to zero, technologically, and I had to rebuild my video setup before I could consider taking that route.

My video setup as it stands today

In addition to the basic technique videos that I already have on Youtube (and others I plan to produce), I also have or will have a number of videos which are in support of more advanced techniques. These videos need a place where they can live without, frankly, being given away for free. They’re videos in support of techniques that I’ve done a lot of development of and teach in my books, patterns, and workshops. Many people will be fine with learning from those static or transitory sources, but I have had many requests for advanced technique videos when it became clear that Craftsy and other major instructional video platforms were not interested in any more of what I had to offer.

As I researched ways to offer my advanced videos for a fee, a number of people suggested I use Patreon. I know a number of other independent designers/creators who use this platform, and it seemed a reasonable solution.

In addition, it will allow me to test the waters for a major leap that I have been putting off for years — the possible transition to a full-time knitting design career. In order to do that on my own terms, a Patreon is a commonly-accepted method. I expect it will be slow going but I am not in a hurry. I hope that people will find it worthwhile in the long run. There is also a lower tier which gives you access to all of my digital pattern/book output while you are a patron, and a higher tier which gives you access to my one-on-one Zoom “office hours”. As with most Patreons, higher tiers also get all the perks of lower tiers.

So here’s my plan for my video presence, which will be considerable, over the next year or so:

  1. Transition from a biweekly Live format to a pre-recorded video podcast format. This will initially be a once-a-month affair, posted on my Youtube channel. If I can make it biweekly in the future, I will.
  2. Get more technique videos shot and/or edited, and sorted between (free) Youtube videos and (paid) Patreon videos.
  3. Continue Zoom workshops for Vogue, Stitches, etc, but increase my standalone workshops as well.
  4. Periodically run a FB Livestream for major events/announcements.

In Other News

Since I talked about virtual workshops, I wanted to mention a few I have coming up, as early as next weekend. The first two are with Stitches Expo at Home; the other two are my standalone workshops. At the time of this writing, there is only one space left in the intro workshop on Nov 14th; the others all have plenty of room. All times are in ET.

Also, tomorrow (Halloween) night, join me at 5pm at Virtuwool Fiber Festival with Bead Biz. I’ll be part of a designer and dyer design panel there.

Thanks for your continued interest and stay tuned!

Tragedy upon Tragedy

Friends, I apologize in advance, on a number of levels, for this post. First things first, this is not about us — our personal tragedy is largely over for 2020 (knock on wood), but we keep getting touched by terrible news and I have been remiss in not posting about them.

Partially my failing is that these things just keep happening, so just as I’m emotionally able to think about how to address one, another one happens. The overload has kept me from properly addressing any of them. I regret that I was unable to say anything meaningful when I learned of one death while still processing another, and so on. I also regret that I am failing to honor each of them with the time they so deserve by compiling them all in a single blog post. But the alternative is to do several posts, which will require me to wait even longer to honor the memory and the struggle of people who deserve more timely attention.

I am also struggling with the order of operations — should I start with the most recent and most pressing tragedy, or go in chronological order? If the former, I have a better chance of effecting change for those to whom it may still make a difference — but the latter honors people who should have been honored sooner. So please, if you want to help me honor the dead, read on from here. If you want to help those still living, skip to the end. Apologies if that sounds macabre or something.

Rev. Dr. Avery D. Post, 1924-2020

The first tragedy (aside from our home burning down, which is now months in the past) that I have been processing is the passing of my grandfather, Avery Post, on Monday, September 7th. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you can see the post I made in the wake of that event. My family, in concert with the UCC leaders, is organizing a memorial for him in Norwich, VT on November 1, but due to Covid restrictions, it will mostly be attended over Zoom. Our family will have a memorial in 2021 when it is safer to gather, at the family plot in the foothills of the White Mountains in NH. You can read his obituary in his local newspaper, and/or the one on the UCC website.

I was able to visit Grandfather in hospice care in NH, a few days before his passing. I held his hand and read Robert Frost poems to him — our shared favorites — and Marcus and I said our goodbyes to this wonderful man who I’ve been so close to throughout my life, who Marcus grew to know and love, and who (as a UCC minister of some renown) married us a decade ago.

Cat Bordhi and a host of guys at the first and only Men Knitters’ Visionary Retreat in 2010

The second tragedy was the passing of one of my knitting mentors, a woman who helped me get my start as a professional knitting designer, the visionary knitter Cat Bordhi. I knew of her work in moebius knitting, and had even tried some, but I didn’t meet her until the first (and only) Men Knitters’ Visionary Retreat in Friday Harbor, WA in early 2010. I was already well into the creation of my first book, but a friend had nominated me to attend this event for aspiring self-publishing knitting authors, and I did. After my presentation to the group, I remember Cat’s words well: “I know 3 knitting geniuses currently working today; I’ve just met the fourth.”

Cat (and by extension, her network of Visionary Authors) has helped me immeasurably over the past decade, as I cemented my place in the world of national-circuit knitting teachers and authors. As she had focused more of her physical presence in South America, I had fallen out of regular touch with her, so news of her illness was a surprise. But, as with so much in her life, she took her impending death with so much grace and humor. She passed away on September 19th, 2020, while we were still raw from the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a tragedy less personal but with wider-ranging effects that you definitely don’t need me to go into here.

Clara Parkes of the Knitters Review has written a lovely memorial post about Cat. I recommend you read it, whether or not you knew her, and you will know her a bit better.

Annie Modesitt, Knitting Heretic

The third tragedy occurred less than two weeks later with the passing of another titan of the knitting world, Annie Modesitt, on October 1. Annie and I were kindred spirits, of a sort, with unconventional and irreverent viewpoints on knitting. Her company, Modeknit, frequently vended my books and patterns when I was traveling to her area for the Interweave or Yarnover shows. She was one of the earliest presenters for the guild I co-founded in Cambridge (the Common Cod Fiber Guild, now defunct), and was always unstintingly supportive of my creative work. Cancer had struck her family before and she was no stranger to loss and grief, but she kept her spirits up and her outlook bright. Her struggle with cancer was also well known and this was the expected outcome — but the loss of one of the leading lights of the knitting world is still difficult, especially for her children who lost their father to cancer less than two years ago. They are using Annie’s Twitter account to keep people updated on the memorial etc.

Andrew & Andrea from Fruity Knitting

I learned of the fourth tragedy today. You may have seen me on the Fruity Knitting podcast back in the early days of Covid-19, and perhaps you saw their outpouring of support and the KAL they started when they heard of our house fire. Andrea and Andrew were struck with a tragedy recently when they discovered that Andrew has an inoperable brain tumor. The future of the podcast is unknown but they are committed to continuing it as long as they are able. It is currently their only source of income, so please consider joining their Patreon at the highest level you are able, or donating to them via Paypal so that they can afford their living and burgeoning medical expenses.

A panorama from Ughtasar, on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, taken on our trip last year

The final tragedy is ongoing, and hardly visible to people in the US as our news cycles are overrun with our insane national election. As you may or may not know, Marcus is half Armenian and half Austrian Jewish, descended from survivors of two different genocides. Culturally, she is more connected to the Armenian side, and we visited Armenia for the first time last October.

Armenia is bordered by hostile countries Turkey and Azerbaijan on two sides, and friendly or at least cordial countries Georgia and Iran on the other two (much smaller) sides. Just over the Azerbaijan border is a large territory the Armenians call Artsakh, but which the rest of the world knows as Nagorno-Karabakh. It is populated with ethnic Armenians and has been for thousands of years. However, it lies within the borders of Azerbaijan and has been the target of conflict in the past, as has the Eastern border of Armenia proper. Recently, Azerbaijan has resumed aggression against civilians in Artsakh — with the backing of Turkey, who perpetrated the last Armenian genocide and still has not taken responsibility — and war seems inevitable. Learn about some of the history by watching this RareEarth video and/or reading the Armenian President’s statement.

Marcus is working with her coworkers at Google to make the biggest difference in fundraising for humanitarian aid for Armenians affected by the current struggle by pushing for donations to the Armenia Fund before November 1st, when Google’s employee donation-matching policy will change. If you have any compassion for the inhabitants of that beautiful and ancient country, please consider donating to one of Marcus’ coworkers’ fundraisers, or if it’s maxed out, the Armenia Fund directly.

If you’re still with me, thank you. I hope to have some knitting-related news for you soon.