It’s the last square of 2016. I get really mixed feelings this time of year. On the one hand, it’s sad for me to see the GAL year come to a close. The Geek-A-Long has become such a feature in our daily lives that the month without it is weird. On the other hand, it’s not really a month without it. It’s probably more appropriate to say that it’s a month of build up and anticipation for next year’s blanket. We’ve got things well underway for 2017, and there are some exciting curve balls that we’ll be throwing your way in the coming month. We have a theme every year, first it was fandoms, then science, and now video games. There is a theme for 2017, and we’ll reveal it soon (not today!), but we’ve been joking that the real theme is “The-Year-That-L&L-Bets-The-Ranch.” But I suppose that’s spoilers, so we’ll talk more about it later.
There was a lot of contention around the office over what the final square this year ought to be. Should it be one of our favorite games? Should it be the game that got the most votes during the Fight For Your Fandom rumble? In some ways, choosing the first and last square is the hardest part about putting the blanket together. We want to come in and go out with something special. So, after much consideration, we decided that for the final square of the year we wanted to pay homage to the road so far*.
Jac and I took a big gamble when we walked away from otherwise promising careers to focus our full attention on Lattes & Llamas. After years of work, sleepless nights, and MCAT angst, I left medical school because I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t living my best life. It was incredibly scary to tell my family and friends that I’m not going to be a doctor, because yarn. I was doing what made me happy, but people outside of the fiber community really do not understand what it is that I’m doing with my life. I think any serious knitter has had that moment of someone looking at you like you are from another planet when you casually mention that a sweater took two months to make or that you need special wool wash for your socks. At least once a month, someone tells me that they know I’ll go back to school or that obviously I’m at least planning to get a PhD. And sometimes when that happens I have a moment of doubt. Am I doing the right thing? I love it, but the life of a yarn dyer/pattern writer is not an especially glamorous one. Every major decision we’ve made for the company carried the risk of totally bankrupting one or both of us. Both of us have had to make big sacrifices on what our families could do/have in order to keep the dream alive. We could play things a little safer, but what would be the point of that? We’ve got an all-in attitude no matter what we’re doing. And in those moments of self-doubt, I always go back to my photos of when we were selling FOs in church basements to scrape together enough money for textbooks and knitting.
This is Jac for years ago, wearing her Meowy Chri$tmas sweater. We both have one, and still wear them regularly. We were either getting ready to go to, or just coming back from a craft show. It’s weird to me how young she looks, even though that was only four years ago. But for a real blast from the past here’s a photo of our first “big” craft show. It was outdoors, and the table cost about three times more than we usually paid. I think we sold one thing all day. And it was to my friend Maria.
Back then we weren’t even Lattes & Llamas, we were Knerdy Knits. (We’ve always loved alliteration.) It’s strange now, when we’ve become such perfectionists about these things, but we were so proud of that booth. We had humble beginnings in the world of professional knitting, but we thought we were hot stuff. Which is why we kept going, and I’m beyond glad that we did. In three years, we went from making this:
Jac and I have been in buisiness together for almost seven years, and the last three of them that we spent with you doing the Geek-A-Long have been amazing. We’ve had some huge successes and some pretty big failures. And now we are about to take another huge risk that we think is going to be amazeballs. This is from about seven years ago. It’s the first full garment I designed. I sold it on Etsy a few years after I made it.
I was going for kind-of a Space Invaders meets Pac-Man meets Wesley Crusher on it, and I think I succeeded in that. Sorry the photos are blurry. Phones were much crappier back then. But looking at these reminds me why we take risks, and put up with the commentary on how we will certainly get real jobs at some point. We were always headed here. Seven years ago I was knitting space invaders motifs onto stuff, and here I am today knitting better space invaders motifs onto better stuff. I’m really proud of all we’ve done as a company, as sisters, and as a whole community here and on Ravelry. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Whether you’re knitting, crocheting, or cross stitching this square, you can download the Space Invaders pattern here. Instructions for both knit and crochet are listed in the pattern. When you’re finished making it, don’t forget to tweet or instagram your squares at me @Doctor_Llama and Jac @jac_attacking or with the hashtag #geekalong!
If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and a tutorial on crochet here. Want to hang out with other people making the blanket? You can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here.
*…we are in dad’s car. Saving people, hunting things. The family business back in swing. Going down the road so faaaaaaaaaaaaaar.
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