I’m Back!

I’m not dead! I just sort of wanted to be for a bit there. If you’re wondering why I didn’t post at all last week or respond much to comments it’s not because I forgot about you, it’s because I had a migraine that lasted for 8 days. It’s really hard to write anything remotely coherent when the room won’t stay still. Thankfully it’s finally stopped and now I can tell you about the very interesting thing that happened in the knitting world while my brain was trying to eat me. Brace yourselves though, ’cause it’s basically going to be an essay. There will be annotations and everything. Stay tuned!

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Felt-A-Thon: Tiny Bits

The penguin is nearly finished, all it needs now are eyes! That was a bit of a stumbling block for me though. From all the pictures I have seen of Emperor Penguins, their eyes seem to be invisible. Google it. I dare you to find those elusive penguin eyeballs.

Even so, leaving the penguin eye-less looks a little strange. I had a black ball left over from my first attempt at shaping the head so I decided to practice a few eye styles on that.

First I decided to ditch realism and try for some cartoonish eyes. I made a white oval and stuck a black pupil on top. That turned out…odd.

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Then I tried just adding a tiny white dot, like a glint of light. Also weird-looking.

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There was an illustration of a penguin in the Google image search that had the eyes colored red, so I took a dark red and tried making an eye-shaped dot with that. No dice.

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Then I thought maybe I could outline the eye area with navy just to indicate that something was going on there. The navy I had was so dark that it didn’t even show up against the black.

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So, as a last resort I decided that beads are the answer. I have some black seed beads I can sew into place, I just need to find a needle small enough to fit through them.

In the meantime, I have started on my next project: Ducky from The Land Before Time.

image from TV Tropes

image from TV Tropes

Something I learned from the penguin is that there is a limit to how small and skinny I can make things. Considering how much detail is involved in the character, this one needs to be much bigger than the penguin. I decided to start with the smallest parts first and scale everything up from there.

I started by making fingers.

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By very carefully laying small wisps of cream over the ends of the fingers I was able to color in the finger…tips? nails? claws? I’m not a dinosaur animation expert, so I’m not sure what to call those…

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Once I had all eight fingers finished, I felted them together into a hand shape. I also made two tiny balls for the ears and that nobby thing for the top of her head.

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Next I started on the toes, which given their size I decided was best to do separately in the cream color rather than overlaying the color on top of the green.

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And then my hand started cramping from all the tiny-ness. More later!

 

Not How I Intended to Spend My Day

I just spent nine hours cropping photos. Nine hours. NINE. HOURS. I had other plans for today, but no. Cropping happened. The good news is, I managed to do this without the slightest twinge in my hands! I’d tell you all about how I did that, but I’ve seriously had way too much computer time today already. Later.

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: The Black Hole

Ok, so I admit to procrastinating on the blog a bit lately. I had good intentions, honest! I kept telling myself “Hey wouldn’t it be great if I typed up my next WIP post early so I don’t end up forgetting about it when Wednesday rolls around?” So I would try to think of what WIPs I have going at the moment that might be blog-worthy. Then I realize that the only WIPs I haven’t covered yet are in THE BIN. IMG_0081

This is THE BIN. It’s my WIPs bin. It lives next to my chair in front of the TV which is where I do the majority of my knitting. Perfectly logical, right? Well, it would  be except that not all of the projects in there are at the knitting stage of development. In fact, many of the things in there are no longer projects at all, but the last remnants of projects past that I have failed to clean up. THE BIN has become a black hole of sorts into which all manner of craft-related things might end up if I’m too busy/lazy/tired to put it in its proper place. It’s really full of things that aren’t WIPs at all, and every time I try to find a WIP in there I’m reminded that I really should clean this thing out instead of work on another WIP that will only end up contributing to the chaos that is THE BIN. Then I end up NOT working on my WIPs because I really should be cleaning, but I don’t want to clean right now, so I just avoid the whole thing until the next time I happen to encounter THE BIN.

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So, this week instead of digging through THE BIN to try to find a WIP to blog about, I figured I’d just clean out THE BIN so I can work on my WIPs in peace.

First I emptied it.

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Once empty, I noticed it had a fair amount of cat hair and glitter in the bottom. The cat hair was obvious – with four cats in the house it’s bound to get everywhere – but the glitter? Seriously? My mom is a belly dancer, so she has glittery crap on her all the time, but I had no idea it had infiltrated my WIPs bin. It’s probably coating our lungs too for all I know.

I vacuumed the inside, which got rid of most of the glitter but didn’t seem to make a dent in the cat hair. I got out one of those sticky roller things to try to get the cat hair off, but it still wouldn’t budge. The cat hair seemed to have woven its way into the fabric. I went to fetch a more heavy-duty cat hair removal implement, but when I returned I found this:

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Right. Never mind then. Moving on.

Here is all the stuff I had crammed into THE BIN.

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A good portion of the contents were the remains of past projects.

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Some of them were truly WIPs, though not all were at the knitting stage.

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Then there was the random assortment of tools, books, swatches, etc. that managed to get sucked into the black hole.

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First, I put away the obvious outliers in the bin. The books were re-shelved, the extra fiberfill was stored in my bedroom, and the bag of scrap yarn went back into the other black hole in my bedroom. We’re ignoring that black hole for now.

Then I started to tackle the ghosts of projects past. I emptied out each project bag and updated my project notes on Ravelry based on whatever jogged my memory.

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I weighed the remaining yarn so I could update my stash. Some of the bags were pretty ripped up so I had to re-bag some of the yarn before I put it back into my yarn bins.

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Here are all of the yarn remnants I had floating around in that bin:

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I took all of the pattern print-outs from the old projects and put them in my pattern notebook. I take a lot of notes on the pattern pages as I work, so I always like to keep the working copies of the patterns in case I need to refer to my notes.

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After going through all of the old project bags and pulling out all the needles, I gave them a quick wash before putting them away – I always try to wash my needles after finishing a project to get rid of any built-up residue that might make it harder for the yarn to slide across the needle.

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I also liberated quite the pile of notions!

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I came across some scraps in the old projects bags of varying lengths.

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Instead of throwing them away, I donated them to my sister’s Never-Ending Frankenscarf. They should fit right in.

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There were lots of swatches floating around in the bin – some associated with past projects, and some for future projects. I’m still not quite sure what to do with swatches…I feel like I want to keep them, but I haven’t figured out an orderly way to store them yet…for now they’re going into the other black hole.

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Next I turned my attention to the actual WIPs, and I found this:

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One of the cats had gotten into the bin and managed to snag a shawl through the bag. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Upon closer examination it appears that a single ply of the yarn was snagged and snapped in two. Naturally, it’s on the front of the shawl, though it is near the bind-off edge. I could unravel the edge, cut out the damaged piece and re-knit it, but it’s a very looooong edge and that would be a LOT of re-knitting to do. Does anyone have any idea how to fix this without ripping back?

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I set aside any projects that were past the knitting stage and was left with a much more manageable pile of WIPs. I put all of my Beekeeper’s Quilt stuff in the fabric project bag, there’s a single sock that will need to have some swatches frogged in order to produce a mate, the felted baby booties are going to be cut up into fun shapes when the mood hits me, my long-abandoned cross-stitching project is going to make a valiant attempt to compete with the knitting projects, and there’s a cowl, pair of mittens, and a pair of gloves in progress.

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See? Now it’s not a black hole anymore! I can actually find things!

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To prevent any future snagging incidents I put a folded rug over top of the projects in the bin.

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The rug was supposed to go out in the blocking house so I could wipe my feet when I came in the door, but the second it entered the house one of the cats claimed it as a kitty bed.

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She swears she didn’t have anything to do with the snagged shawl.

Now I can get back to knitting.

You know, there was a time when I thought carrying around a fully stocked pencil case would be impractical. Now I carry around a makeup bag full of emergency personal supplies (nail clippers, mirror, chapstick, etc.), and another makeup bag full of knitting notions. Why not add a pencil case to the mix too? Or better yet, just get a slightly bigger makeup bag and combine the pencil case supplies and the notions. I frequently have to go searching for a pen, a highlighter, or a calculator when I’m knitting!

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I fully admit to being the type of person that carries around a fully-loaded pencil case. I should also admit that I have graduated from college. Having a pencil case probably doesn’t exactly help my cool factor, but when a friend is desperate for a ruler then I am the person to call. Whether you’re just entering pre-kindergarten or the medical program at a prestigious university, having a well-stocked pencil case is never a bad thing. Here are a few of the essentials that I think every pencil case really needs.

Pens in Every Hue

Because most people reading this probably are not in second-grade, you’ll want pens of every different hue. Make sure to at least have the standard black and blue ink pen to cover for all possibilities. If you’re a teacher, an editor, or someone else who likes their writing to stand out, you’ll probably also want…

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I’m giving thanks a day late this year.

While most people will be out participating in the bloodsport that is Black Friday, I will be knitting. There is a Black Friday KAL in the Canon Hand Dyes group on Ravelry, and I am planning on making two pairs of socks. One pair for me, and one pair for my boyfriend.

I am extremely thankful that I will be able to knit these socks, because a few weeks ago it wouldn’t have been possible. All of my sock-knitting needles were in the computer bag that was stolen. That meant I couldn’t knit socks, hats, gloves, or any other small circumference item that required small needle sizes. When I posted about the theft in the forums on Ravelry, other knitters really GOT IT. I received a lot of moral support, which was very appreciated, but a few people went above and beyond words of comfort.

Two separate people messaged me offering to send me some of their needles! One had a stash of DPNs she was planning on getting rid of, and another had some circular needles she hardly used that were perfect for Magic Loop – a technique for knitting small circumferences in the round that I have never tried, but REALLY want to. Between the two of them, those wonderful Ravelers have replaced every single needle size that was lost, and I CAN KNIT SOCKS AGAIN!!

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, one day a surprise package showed up in the mail containing a set of 2.25mm Signature DPNs – which is the super expensive brand of needles that were stolen! Amy Lee Serradell, the talented dyer of Canon Hand Dyes, had sent them to me!

So, out of gratitude for the wonderful people who have restored me to full knitting capabilities, I will be knitting socks out of Amy’s yarn. One pair will be knit on the lovely Signatures from Amy, and the other will be my first attempt at Magic Loop using the circular needles.

My boyfriend requested his socks to be knit with the Aragorn colorway, which is a self-striping yarn in black and a woodsy brown. The smaller skein in black will be used for the heel and toe of the sock so the striping pattern doesn’t get interrupted.

Mine will be knit with a self-striping Canon Hand Dyes yarn too, but I’m having trouble deciding on a color…

From left to right:
Canon Hand Dyes William Self Striping Sock – “The prince of darkness is a gentleman” – King Lear
black heel/toe skein
Canon Hand Dyes William Self Striping Sock – Zombie Hello Kitty
black heel/toe skein
Canon Hand Dyes Lewis Self Striping MCN Sock – “The course of true love never did run smooth” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Canon Hand Dyes Oscar Self Striping – “I will believe that there are unicorns” – The Tempest
gray sparkly heel/toe skein

On the far left is “The prince of darkness is a gentleman” which is a lovely blend of deep blues and purples with a black stripe, and I have a black heel toe skein next to it that I could use. Next in line is Zombie Hello Kitty which looks exactly like you would think a zombified hello kitty should.

There’s the light green zombie flesh with a healthy amount of blood, striped with a super dark green. I’ve seen socks knit with this color using black for the heel and toe which turned out great, so that’s what I would do too.

After that is “The course of true love never did run smooth” which is a lovely gradient stripe that transitions from black to red to pink and then starts over again with the black with only a few rows of each color. There’s a black heel/toe skein to go with that.

The last two skeins on the right are “I will believe that there are unicorns” which is a pale gray striped with light purples and pinks and came with a gray heel/toe skein. It’s a sparkly yarn too, cause you know, UNICORNS.

I will be casting on at midnight on Friday while the rest of the population is busy re-enacting scenes from Fight Club in the aisles of Best Buy, so you have until then to vote.

 

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Room

In pursuit of a more yarn-centric life I knew space would be an issue. I live in a very small bedroom, contained within a very small house, which I share with my mother, sister, and four cats. I had been trying to keep all of my possessions contained within my own room as much as possible, but as more and more yarn entered the house this was becoming problematic. Let me show you what I mean.

What a cramped mess

This was my bedroom. I did what I could to keep it clean and maximize storage space, honest! I had my bed on risers so I could store more things under it. Unfortunately many of those things were NOT MINE. See, I moved back into my mother’s house several years ago in somewhat of a hurry. My previous living situation had rapidly become intolerable and my mother kindly took me in. My bedroom had been used as a storage area since I left for college and not everything could be moved out when I returned. It was supposed to be temporary until I found a place of my own, but we didn’t know at the time that this would be financially impossible on my salary. So here I stayed…with other peoples’ things in my room.

Welcome to my non-functional office.

I bought a desk so I could manage my grown-up life as best as possible. I had a filing cabinet to keep all my grown-up paperwork in, but it got too full and files started piling up on the desk. Once a pile starts it tends to consume everything around it, like books, games, knitting projects (both finished and in progress) and even clothes. Those plastic drawers next to the desk were primarily for knitting supply storage, but those drawers were overflowing too.

Nice, cozy death-trap

Of course, once the desk went in, things had to be rearranged for it to fit, so my bed ended up underneath a shelf. There wasn’t anywhere else to put my reading lamp besides right above my head, which is a totally logical thing to do in earthquake-prone areas. While you’re at it, how about storing a ton of magazines above the bed too? Due to a distinct lack of wall-space my earring storage ended up on the wall above my bed, which is super easy to get to if I’m in bed, not so much if I’m already dressed and ready to head out the door. I had some super klassy decorations thanks to my sister, who enjoys collecting alcohol paraphernalia for unknown reasons (she’s not old enough to drink, nor does she have any interest in doing so…strange girl). The dresser was stuffed so full of clothes that the drawers were hard to open. I had extra plastic drawers for more knitting storage that I arranged in a step-like fashion for my cat to access her bed and food. At least she enjoyed this set-up.

Floor space is overrated.

After my cat had an injury she decided she’d rather spend most of her time in my room than outside, so I had to add a scratching slope and litter box to my already crowded floor. This meant I had to get rid of the extra bookshelf I bought to make room for the litter box. The scratching slope ended up in front of my dresser, blocking the bottom drawer. I figured it couldn’t hurt since my bin full of photo equipment was already blocking it (you can only see the edge of the bin past the corner of my bed in this picture). Also, there was a giant red stability ball looming over the room. There really isn’t an elegant way to store a stability ball I’m afraid.

Seriously, how many things can I put on the floor?

I have an air purifier/fan thingy that I like to have pointed at my bed because I get really overheated at night. It had to be elevated in order to reach me since my bed was on risers, so I put it on top of haphazardly stacked bins full of yarn. This was always a pain to move out of the way when I needed to vacuum or, you know, access my yarn. My laundry basket didn’t have any place to go really, so I ended up just sticking it wherever I wasn’t walking at the time. My sister’s bookshelf (yes that’s right, my sister’s, since MINE had to go to make room for the cat) contained mostly my sister’s books, but she was able to make room on two shelves for some of my books. The rest of my books had to be stored in the garage. My knitted shawls didn’t really have anywhere to go, so I just hung them up on my door with my purses out where any moth could get at them.

Don’t go in the closet. There are monsters.

I also would hang shawls on my necklace rack for lack of anywhere better to put them. “Why not put them in the closet?”, you say. Because there wasn’t any room. I didn’t photograph the inside of the closet, but trust me, it was a mess. I did have a closet organizer installed back in high school, but you can only do so much with such a tiny space. Just imagine the racks so stuffed with clothes that you can’t move the hangers, the shelves full of haphazardly placed belts, hats, and other accessories, hidden under the hanging clothes, along with all of the other crafting supplies I had nowhere else to put. In fact, I’d say at least 50% of the shelves in the closet were taken up by random crafting supplies that didn’t have a home and were difficult for me to get to (or find).

My bedroom was not the only non-functioning space in the house though. There was also the dining room.

Stella firmly believes she is the Queen of the Universe and all cameras should be pointing at her.

The dining room table really didn’t get used for dining. Mostly it was a catch-all for whatever mail/random crap we’d bring in with us when we got home and whatever flotsam and jetsam we might churn up in our daily lives within the house. Several times a month though, it would all be cleared off and turned into my photo studio! This table has the distinction of being The Only Table in the house that my lights are able to clamp to. We have several folding shop tables in the garage, but the sides are too thick for the clamps. I bought a folding card table in hopes of using that, but the frame is made of rounded metal that the clamps will not cling to without the use of shims, and it’s too shallow to hold the frame of the light box. So, with this being The Only Table that will work for my photography, I have had to set everything up in the dining room. With the cats. Three of our four cats – all of the Ragdolls – are not allowed in my room unsupervised because they mess with everything. As you can see (that’s Stella in the picture), they like to be all up in your business whenever you’re doing ANYTHING in the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom….anywhere really. Usually it’s adorable, but not when I’m trying to do photography. I have had cats leap from their cat tower on top of the light box. I have had cats leap into the light box on top of whatever I’m taking pictures of and scratching up the poster board background. I have had cats knock over lamps and break my not-cheap light bulbs. I have had cats try to electrocute themselves by trying to chew on the extension cords I use to plug in the lights. Usually when I needed to take pictures I would just lock the cats in a room and listen to them cry for the 3+ hours it took to get through my photo sessions (which I would procrastinate on and let my photo list build up because it was such a pain to get it set up and manage kitties). Aside from the dining room table, that area was basically a storage area. Drinks that we didn’t have room for in the fridge yet would go in the corner. My sister’s guitar (which she doesn’t know how to play and has no intention of learning…strange girl) lived in the corner. The giant turtle shell (don’t ask) lived in the corner. The cats’ basket of toys and smaller scratching post were stored next to the table. Then there was my sister’s second bookshelf, full of her books and her My Little Pony figurines, which housed some of my overflow yarn.

Stella strikes again.

My boyfriend recently found me this GIANT cedar chest to keep my knitting in, but as you could see from the previous pictures there was nowhere to put it! It lived in the living room for a bit until I made room for it elsewhere.

Obviously it was time for a massive rearranging. More on that tomorrow.

Announcements!

First off, thank you so much to those who have contributed to the Indiegogo campaign to Save The Knotty Narwhal. So far $190 have been raised! I’m still quite a ways away from being able to replace my stolen computer though, so keep spreading the word!

Secondly, you will all be hearing much more from me in the future. I am participating in National Blog Post Month and will be posting EVERY DAY in November no matter how painful my sister’s computer makes it. (Seriously this typing lag is driving me nuts, and her photo editing software does in 5 clicks what mine did in one. Argh.) This probably means some posts will be short, some might have crappy pictures, and some may not have pictures at all, but you’ll forgive me right? Wish me luck!

The Case of the Stolen Blog Post

I had a lot to blog about. I had notes typed up, outlines made, pictures saved and the whole bit. I was going to tell you all about how I rearranged my room and about how awesome Knit City was. I was going to show you loads of pictures from Vancouver, BC and tell you all about this cool new knitting technique I learned. Then my laptop was stolen.

All of the notes and outlines I had saved, and all of the pictures I took in Vancouver were on that laptop, and it’s all gone now.

We were all packed up and on our way out of town when we stopped to get something to eat. While we were gone someone broke into our car and stole my laptop bag. That bag contained:

  • my laptop
  • my iPod, which I bought 3 months ago and was right in the middle of a good audio book
  • all of my DPNs from size #1-#6 including 4 sets of Signatures (knitters will know what this is and scream in horror)
  • ALL of my knitting notions, including the 100+ unique stitch markers I got in the stitch marker swap at the Sock Summit
  • Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns (the first book in a series of THE BEST stitch dictionaries out there – a must-have for designers)
  • my graphing calculator – granted I don’t really use it for graphing these days, but it was really nice to see everything I was typing in long calculations and to be able to go back and edit if there was an error instead of having to type the whole damn thing over again.
  • Small Time Operator – the book I was reading to get a sense of what all I needed to do to set up my business (I went out and got a new copy of that IMMEDIATELY)
  • and the real kick to the gut…my blue ribbon winning fingerless gloves, Barmaids Are Tasty

RIP – I really hope someone found you and you aren’t lying in a dumpster somewhere

I’ve ordered yarn from indigodragonfly to make another pair, but it still won’t be the gloves that earned a blue ribbon.

Aside from that sadness, I am now missing a computer and a crapload of my knitting tools. This makes starting an online knitting business…tricky. I’m limping along on my sister’s computer, but it’s so old and buggy it’s practically impossible to use. Some interesting things I’ve learned about my sister’s computer in the last week:

  • YouTube videos are a no-go. They just won’t play. Weird.
  • PDF files are also a no-go. It simply refuses to open them. This means I can’t look at any knitting patterns or online forms for business applications, or ANYTHING.
  • Sometimes (frequently, really) the keyboard likes to lag, making typing extremely painful. It’s doing it right now. If there are typos in this post, I’m not backing up to fix them. It’s just not worth it.
  • If you want to save anything, like a document or a picture, you HAVE to save it to the desktop first. The computer will not file it anywhere else until it has been stored on the desktop. Guess how many things are on the desktop?

I need a new computer NAO. Basically every asset I had to start this business with was in that bag, so I’m desperate. I have spent the last week scrambling to get a business plan together ASAP.

I now have a name! Knotty Narwhal

My sister designed a logo! Here it is:

That’s as far as I can get right now without your help!

I have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to replace my stolen computer and tools and start my business. There are many amazing perks for you to claim in return for your contributions. You could get cute kitty thank-you emails, or buttons, stickers and t-shirts with the Knotty Narwhal logo! I could needlefelt you anything you would like, and since I am a Brony (I refuse to be called a Pegasister, that’s just silly), that thing could totally be a pony – any pony at all! You could get an exclusive color copy of the concept sketch of my first design, and a free copy of the pattern! If you’re extremely awesome and donate a lot of money, I’ll even knit for you! More perks may appear if I reach certain milestones in my funding too, so keep spreading the word!

You can contribute to the Indiegogo campaign here: Knotty Narwhal needs YOU!

You can “like” Knotty Narwhal on Facebook here: Knotty Narwhal has a cute face

You can follow Knotty Narwhal on Twitter here: Betcha didn’t know a narwhal could tweet

Please help me spread the word! I will try to recreate some of the lost blog posts in the following weeks, so stay tuned!