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

Presentations
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.

These hats were lost in the fire … but they may be making a comeback

TL;DR: sign up for my “Design your own Double-knit Hat” workshop series, starting next weekend (Oct 3) at Stitches at Home.

I posted last time about what I was able to recover, in terms of samples, from the fire. There’s a whole lot more that I didn’t recover — more than I could list (not actually true, as I did have to list it for the insurance, although I’m sure I missed some things). I had some old hats that were stored along with my stash, not with my other samples. And since the stash was lost, so too were these hats.

At the time, I wasn’t too broken up about it. After all, they were relics of a workshop I hadn’t taught in about a decade — and isn’t practical to teach while traveling due to the necessity of scheduling two separate weekends to do it. They were also all done in twisted stitches (as much of my work was at the time).

Then the good folks at XRX got in touch and offered me a workshop space at Stitches At Home, a show where we’re teaching on … get this … two separate weekends.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could resurrect this old workshop for the virtual teaching world — but yes, it’s ideally suited to a teaching environment where nobody needs to travel.

It’s also the only class I teach that’s specifically project-based. Especially during the winter gifting season, many people are interested in projects rather than learning new techniques.

So, without further ado, I’ve got 12 slots left in my “Design your own Double-knit Hat” class, taught across three 2-hour sessions on Oct 3, 4 and 10. If you already love double-knitting but want to get into designing, this is a great first step. If your double-knitting is a little rusty, this will help you get the muscle memory you’ll need for it to feel natural. And you’ll learn some decreases to boot!

I do feel bad that I wasn’t able to take better photos. Even if I had the hats still accessible, I could have done some better photography. But if I’m going to be adding this workshop to my (virtual) knitting roster, I could begin revisiting some of the hats for eventual release as standalone patterns. I’ve got plans for one of them already, which I’ll use to teach the upcoming sessions. We’ll see which others get revisited if there are further iterations of this class.

Stay tuned for more about workshops — there’s a lot in the works right now, and I’m trying to sort it all out! Thanks for your patience!

Finally, closure.

It was almost 2 months from the day of the fire, but the demolition finally began on Tuesday, July 21st. It’s taken me this long to post about it because … well, it’s a lot to process. This is going to be a bit of a long post with a bunch of photos, so if you just want to hear how you can help, jump down to the bottom (and thank you).

We hoped for some notice, but in the end, we received only half an hour’s notice that the demolition was about to begin. We’re lucky (in many ways) that we’re now living about a half-hour’s walk from our old home. I got there as quickly as I could on my new bike (as I’d long since given up getting my old one back), but I still missed the first “chomp” of the excavator claw.

We had been told that they’d be moving back-to-front, which gave us hope as many of the things we wanted to save were toward the front. But in fact, they went right-to-left, demolishing the three levels above our unit first. As they got down to our level, we watched them use the claw like a fist, punching through our ceiling and dumping debris into our unit. I understand why — they had to keep the debris largely within the footprint of the building, and (as was soon clear) they needed a platform for the excavator to roll around on so they could reach the front.

We began to be less optimistic about our prospects for recovering anything. Friends stopped by with camp chairs, snacks, and drinks. We called it “the worst beach party ever”. Aside from the smell of burnt debris, they also had to demolish three kitchens to get this far (with 5 more to go before the end). The stench of a month and a half of rotting refrigerator contents was almost enough to keep us out of the worksite.

But I was committed. Not only to getting what I could from my unit, but to watching for salvageable items that might be important to the other residents. Almost nobody from the building was there that first day — just us and Roselene. One of the renters showed up later in the day and was able to rescue a few things from his unit. But we watched for anything that looked valuable, got the excavator operator (his name was Matt) to toss things like that toward the back where we were waiting. We tried to connect items to owners but in the end we got precious little.

I stayed for four days. I missed some early mornings and I regret that I was not there when they began excavating my unit. But I got there before they got to the back wall of the living room, where my knitting library lived. This was destroyed, of course — but underneath it, on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, was my computer. The excavator, unfortunately, is not a subtle tool, and Matt was able to retrieve the bookcase and computer — but it was badly crushed. Still, I picked apart my knitting library, taking photos of books I had not already added to my list, and I got the crushed computer, from which I was eventually able to retrieve the hard drives and SSD. The drives are too badly damaged but I am only short about 2 months of backed-up data, so it may or may not be worthwhile to send them for data recovery. The SSD, in a testament to the resiliency of such things, not only still works but was able to boot my newly-built computer. I backed up the last bits from that, cloned it to the new drive, and saved it in case I need it later.

But the real question (and the one you are most likely eager to hear about) was in the next room: our bedroom. I told Matt about what we were looking for — a set of weathertight plastic bins underneath a bed. So when he got down to the floor and didn’t find a bed, let alone a set of bins, we were dismayed. But then my wife called from the front that she saw my samples, and I rushed to the side of the pit and looked as hard as I could. I saw the edge of Waterford Crossing in a bag under some rubble and called to Matt, who obligingly used the claw to push a bunch of bricks to the side so I could clamber down and start digging. I found the wreckage of the bins, and underneath them, the dozens of Ziploc bags of knitted samples (and even some yarn). I began pitching them up onto the ground outside the foundation.

In the end, I was able to rescue about 60% of my samples in fair to good condition. Another 25% were recovered but too badly damaged to repair — soaked, moldy, leaking dye, etc. The other 15% were simply not recovered.

I think that the damaged ones had their bin compromised early on — the seal was not good enough or perhaps there was a crack in the plastic. They sat in water for a month and a half, and if their bags were not also watertight, they took on water themselves. The ones that were a little damp I think took on water during the demolition process itself — only a couple of days rather than weeks. Those ones I spread out on the lawn at the Meeting House and let the sun do its best to disinfect and dry them out. Some will still need a washing but their ailment is more dirt than smoke or mold.

I’ve packed them all into fresh bags and gotten them new Iris bins (<–affiliate link) similar to their previous ones. I’m overall happy with the performance of the bins, even though they were packed this way to stave off moths, not water. I also managed to recover two bags of cloth project bags, which were fine after a run through the laundry.

In addition to the knitted objects, I managed to save a few other small items and all four boxes of my CD collection — a total of over 1700 discs, housed in ProSleeves. Unfortunately most of them are damaged beyond recovery; I will be evaluating that collection soon (it’s moldering, literally, in a storage unit) but I fully expect that it’s mostly heading to the trash.

So what didn’t we recover? It’s almost too much to even contemplate. Aside from countless books, clothes, kitchen stuff, etc, my wife and I both lost precious family heirlooms. I lost all of the art I ever produced in college, high school, and earlier. We both lost childhood photos which we never properly digitized. I rescued a pile of them, but since I just had them in a shoebox, most of their colors had run off (who knew that could happen?). We lost birth certificates, social security cards, passports (although what am I going to do with a passport these days?). We lost two aquariums full of freshwater fish and shrimp. I lost all of my knitting library, all of my yarn stash, and all of my works-in-progress. And more. But more to the point, we lost our stable life. We had everything lined up, all set to weather the pandemic in safety and comfort. We’d just paid off our condo in March. I’d just taught the first of a series of (hopefully) successful online workshops. Life was looking up. Now we’re facing an unknown amount of time in uncertainty, unable to properly isolate, and I’m about to have to head back to work.

So, what can you do to help?

If you’ve been following this saga for the past two months, you’ll know that we haven’t asked for much. We managed to find a good place to live thanks to our Quaker community. We got some basic furniture and kitchenware from local f/Friends, but we have been slowly replacing things with non-temporary replacements. We haven’t asked for money except for our neighbor Roselene, who was in a much worse situation than we were. We appreciate the help from my coworkers who did set up a GoFundMe on our behalf. Largely, we were waiting to see what we could recover. Now that we know, it’s time for us to ask for some help.

First, if you are able and willing to sample-knit for me, I will need very good double-knitters to help me replace some of the samples which were lost. In addition, I will be reaching out for support from the companies/dyers whose yarn I used, but if you have any clout with the relevant companies, please help out if you want. Also, three pieces will need new yarn since the yarn used is no longer in production; if you have suggestions for what I might use instead, please let me know. In general, if you want to be of any help with this, please contact me.

The pieces I need replaced are:

I also lost one set of Footsies, the original Sierpinski baby blanket, the original Four Winds hat, the original Atyria hat, almost all of the cards from the 52 Pickup kClub edition (if someone feels led to do a scarf version of that for me, I would be ecstatic, but it’s not necessary), the Moosalamoo hat, the Fir-cone sachet, and one “double-knit beanie #28”. However, I am not planning on replacing any of these at the moment.

Not up for knitting at the professional level just yet? I’m also looking to replace a number of things that were central to my business — books, tools, etc. I’ve set up an Amazon wish list for these things (I’ll add to it as I think of others that might apply). I want to be clear: mostly, I’m not asking people to buy stuff for Fallingblox Designs unless you’ve been itching to support me in that way. What I want is to see if you’ve got a spare copy of this, that, or the other book that I need/want, or a set of Hiya Hiya bamboo interchangeables or Sony E-mount camera lenses that you don’t use. Eventually, insurance will likely take care of all of this but I guarantee we won’t get everything we’re hoping for from that. If I can help you by taking something off your hands that you’re not using, and you can help me by replacing something I lost, then we both win and I can save the insurance money for something else.

Another way you can help: when I do finally start teaching my online workshops again, tickets will be “pay what you want” above a certain amount. You can always pitch in more than you normally would, or “toss a coin to your stitcher” in my Tip Jar.

Finally, the most abstract method of helping me: keep working for positive change for your community/state/province/country/world. I feel like a lot of things have been happening and I’ve had opportunities to step up and make a statement or make a difference in some other way, but I’ve been absorbed in my own relatively small problems while the world burns around us. I feel like making posts on these matters now is too little too late, but that won’t stop me — it’s just that this post has gone on long enough as it is. It’s heartening, however, to see so many other people actively working to help. Keep doing it, whatever it is: protesting, getting out the vote, helping in the battle against the Coronavirus, etc — I’ll step in as soon as I can.

Thank you for all the offers of help, condolences, etc, even if I haven’t been willing or able to accept. The offer is received in the spirit in which it is given, and appreciated regardless. I feel blessed to be part of such a loving community.

Alasdair Post-Quinn, Fallingblox Designs

Fire Update #3

It’s been nearly a month since the fire took our home and my studio. The demolition still has not happened, so we are still in a kind of limbo. With no way (aside from the increasingly emotionally draining compilation of our property loss spreadsheet for the insurance company) to recapture the past, we are starting to look toward the future.

Our Quaker community has been of immense help; we thought we’d stay in the Friends Center guest room for a couple of nights while we sorted out our next moves — but they offered us a small unused private apartment for a couple of months. While staying here, they extended a further offer of a larger apartment, once it was vacated by its current tenant, for the span of 9-14 months (depending on a number of things). We’re glad to be nearby our old neighborhood, and staying in a place that already feels like home (considering how much time I spent here pre-Covid). The neighborhood is peaceful, green, and quiet.

We decided, once we had the lease in hand and approval from our landlords, to make an addition to our family. Meet Longfellow, our seal-point Siberian kitten. He’s about 3 months old, and (while he’s not eating, pooping, or rocketing around the apartment) is a complete snugglebug. At the encouragement of several people, we made him an Instagram account to chronicle his adorableness as long as he lets us stick cameras in his face. We hope that, once social isolation is over, we can introduce him to some of our local friends.

Now, to business (literally). Fallingblox Designs has 3 main divisions: Sales, Education, and R&D.

  1. Sales: The books I had in the apartment were destroyed, but I keep most of my books off-site. I picked up a box of each, plus some shipping envelopes. I ordered some new copies of Victorian Raffia and Bipolar. I’ve got a scale, printer, label printer, labels — technically everything I need to begin shipping. The issue is that I simply don’t have the space to set it all up. I’m going to need to wait until we’re in the new space in a few weeks. In the meantime, Wall of Yarn continues to drop-ship for me, so feel free to order stuff on my store as usual. As always, you can follow my pattern links to Ravelry as well.
  2. Education: I had to pay 150% of list, but I did re-acquire my high-end webcam for teaching virtual workshops. The laptop I had ordered for workshop streaming arrived a few days after the fire. Now the only bottleneck is that the Meeting House only has 50mbps internet. We are in the process of upgrading that to full gigabit service. When that happens, I’ll run some tests and then open the workshop books again.
  3. R&D: Unfortunately, patterns that were in development are on hold until I can acquire new yarn for them. Projects in progress were in cloth drawstring bags in a crate in my living room. The chance that any of them have survived is nil. Just to keep my hands busy, I am working on a new pattern unrelated to the ones I’ve been posting about thus far. As soon as I’m able to restart work on previous patterns, you’ll hear about it here.