Updates and Planning

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s fucking cold here. I’m one of those people who generally like the cold but the last few days have been kind of ridiculous. There’s ice crystals on the inside of the car windows, the heat’s been running constantly, just now the cat pulled a blanket down from the arm of the couch to lay under. I’m grateful that the sun is shining through the windows and I’m actually awake in the day time to see it, but it’s too damn cold.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday, I know ours got to be a little stressful this year.

I actually managed to finish all the things I set out to make this year as gifts. I ended up making two pairs of socks, a cowl, a pair of pajama pants, and some little stockings were extra and just for fun. Everyone seemed really happy with their gifts which always makes me happy. My sister put her cowl on as soon as she opened it and aside from going to work or the grocery store, K hasn’t taken the pajama pants off.

I think those were the first garment that I actually completely finished sewing. I’ve made a few quilts and little pouches but I’ve never actually completely finished a garment before. He split his favorite pajama pants right up the back seam this fall and we never got around to buying him a new pair so I figured I could make him some new ones for christmas. I ended up cutting the old pair at the seams to draft a pattern. They turned out so well, I’m a little jealous I haven’t made a pair for myself. The hardest part was probably the dang button fly. Since I wasn’t using an actual pattern with instructions I ended up watching a handful of youtube videos trying to figure out the best way to do it. I eventually figured it out, but it turns out he doesn’t even use the fly. I don’t even have a picture of the pants for you, but he wore them on christmas and everyone seemed quite impressed with them.

I’m not working on anything specific right now, just the shawl I’ve had sitting around since summer. It takes about half and hour per row now so I’ll probably finish it sometime in the next twenty years. A friend has asked me if I would knit her pet rabbit a little sweater (and offered to pay in the same sentence!) so I’ve been thinking about the best way to do that. K has also noticed the lack of hand-knit items in his wardrobe so I’m gonna work on that for him. He needs gloves – he’s been wearing big work gloves to drive because that’s all he has – and I know he wants a bunch of socks. I’ll probably start with a bunch of basic socks and then make some really cool gloves for him in the next week or so, we just have to go buy more yarn.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 11.48.15 AM.pngThis one got pretty long, but one more thing! Currently, all of my patterns are on sale for 25% off through the end of the year! I know lots of people knit a special project for themselves after all the gift knitting they did so check ’em out if anything catches your fancy.

Thanks for sticking around on this blogging adventure with me.

Life Long Maker

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 28

Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?

These kinds of prompts are fun for me because I get to spend half an hour digging through all the photos on my computer (wishing they were actually organized..) and relive a bunch of memories and shitty hair cuts.

I have been creative from very early on in life. I spent a lot of time playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos and was lucky enough to get piles of art kits as gifts for most of my life. I was also fortunate enough to go to a Montessori school where my creativity was not only encouraged but fed with new skills. We were taught to make crochet chains with our fingers by age three (what an excellent way to build fine motor skills while also keeping a group of preschoolers quiet), we also learned to do basic running stitch embroidery by age 4. From there I hit the ground running. IMG_0061My mom tells this story of me around age 4 that I vaguely remember; she walked into the kitchen to find me sitting at the table where I had traced, cut and was now sewing an entire outfit for my doll by hand without help. I remember not being able to get the shirt over her giant doll head so I cut up the back of the shirt and used yarn to lace it back up for an edgy and decorative and reusable closure. Textile things have always come easy to me, and I’ve always enjoyed them. Lanyard keychains and friendship bracelets were basically my shit in the late 90’s.

10391654_1190185527029_8038564_nI majored in art in high school, mainly paintings and print making but I did crochet myself a full human spine out of plastic bags which was pretty cool. From there I went to art school and fully developed my love (obsession) with all things fibers and textiles. The main philosophy of the school was to teach you from the ground up. So for textiles we learned to dye our own yarn and fabric, we learned to make our own yarn and fabric and from there we basically could do anything we wanted. I really really liked weaving. The meticulous threading process, spending hours hunched over the back of the loom threading hundreds of threads through the reed and heddles. During my weaving course I taught myself how to knit (we didn’t really have a knitting course at that time, and by the time they added one I far surpassed the knowledge range of the teacher on that particular subject). I also learned to quilt at the end of my senior year. This class was only offered once a year and each year I never seemed to have time for it in my schedule. I’m so grateful I was able to fit it in, but I wish I could have learned sooner, if I had my trajectory might have been very different. These are some of my favorite pieces from the end of art school. The top two are from my senior show in which my partner and I studied the duality and dichotomy of silk moths and wool eating moths. One moth is lauded for created fiber and one moth is loathed for consuming it. (Top Image is a silk grid on a silk screen with a projection of silk moths spinning cocoons, middle image is a woven wool screen with handspun wool grid covered in different food stuffs used to encourage different larva to eat the screen – we were NOT ALLOWED to bring wool moths into a fiber department for obvious and disappointing reasons).

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This image is of a very large quilt I made and cherish. It’s a lone star quilt with a hand dyed gradient and hand quilting with hand dyed matching thread. My sister still has the actual  images she took for me but I’ve never seen them.

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Since then space has been a little limited, so its hard to produce large works and life gets in the way of spending 200 hours laboring over one project. IMG_1275I’ve made some smaller wall quilts and other little things, but mostly focused on knitting. My new house has a tiny extra bedroom that I’m using as a sewing/craft room but my loom is definitely not going to get in there. We have a mud room with great light that I might end up using once we get the giant couch out of there. I would love to be able to weave again. I do have some quilting and sewing projects lined up in the mean-time.

A Year of Making

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 24

Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out?

About three years ago I started to get bored with making other people’s patterns. I think it came about from having mostly weird sized yarn and not very much money to buy more. I designed a few mitten patterns for holiday gifts and just kind of whipped them together. Over the next few years I started making a few socks and baby sweaters just based on gauge and measurement standards.daisy_sock_medium2 Nothing too fancy, just the basics. Then in the summer of 2016 I made these Daisy Socks and the rest, as they say, was history.

I got a lot of positive feedback on instagram and tumblr so I figured why not write up a pattern for them, how hard could it be? I already had the charts and the construction really isn’t that difficult to explain. I even found someone who wanted to test knit them (it only took her like five months to get around to finishing). I didn’t publish this pattern yet because I was hoping my test knitter would finish knitting, but in the mean time I was already working on another pattern. I ended up publishing two different patterns that October and decided to just go for it and publish the daisy socks without the test knitter in November.

It’s been about a year since I started and I now have 13 patterns available on Ravelry. I honestly can hardly believe it- people I don’t even know making things that came directly out of my jumbled brain garbage. There are definitely aspects I need to improve on this year as I take designing into a more and more professional realm, but I’m learning things with each pattern and always working to get better.

Once I make it through the holiday knitting rush I’ll have time and hopefully be bored enough of vanilla-ass socks to start designing patterns for next year. I also have every intention of maybe getting an etsy shop up and running. Lucky for you guys, you’ll probably be the first to know all the new things.

 

Long Weekend

I sorta fell off the face of the earth for a few days there, sorry everyone. I’m back now. I switched my sleep schedule back to normal for the holiday and that tends to result in both K and I passing out on the couch at 7:30 pm and waking up at 2 am with sore necks. I’ve been struggling a bit with staying up all night lately, I’m trying to decide if the benefits are worth the troubles. Anyways, hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, or regular ol’ weekend for any readers not in America (as most of you are not).

It was in the 50s on Friday which is unseasonably warm but a most welcome reprieve. K had some secret Black Friday/Birthday shopping to do so I stayed home to rake all the leaves out of the front yard. Not an entirely un-enjoyable task, at least the weather was nice, but my hands hurt so bad from rake. Even now, three days later, the bones in my hands feel like they’re bruised. That didn’t stop me from knitting though. I knit an entire pair of socks these past few days – all that’s left is the kitchener toe and to weave in the ends. It’s my first of five (???) holiday gifts this year.

I also got to see my best friend and her family this weekend. My town is situated conveniently between her Husband’s family in Illinois and her family in Wisconsin. We were able to meet up for breakfast in between baby naps and catch up. Saturday we took a lovely little hike at Glacial Park. I basically spent the weekend trying to soak up as much sunlight as I can for the last couple weeks of Autumn.

I’ll go back the knitting posts tomorrow and finish those off over the next few days.

Holiday Knitting Rant

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 21

Do you knit gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays?

I used to do this a lot more than I do now. One year I think I made like ten things as gifts and I don’t think I bothered to start until at least Thanksgiving. I’ve cut down a bunch in the past years for various reason’s that I’ll probably get more into tomorrow, but mainly it ends up being so stressful that it takes the fun out of it. There are certain people that I’ll happily knit gifts for. I know they’re going to appreciate them and I know that they’re going to take care of whatever I give them.

I knit a few things for my best friend when she announced she was pregnant. I love making baby items – they’re so fast and they’re just so stinking cute. Knitting baby items is basically like making sample sizes. I can experiment with new techniques or make dumb adorable stitch patterns with a lot less time and a lot less yarn. She loved the little things I gave her, and sent me pictures of her little guy wearing them which is basically the greatest thank you I could ask for. She then told me that anything else I make for them she’s insisting on paying for. At first I was a little hurt by this but she explained to me that what I make is worth a lot more than I give myself credit for. This has kind of been simmering in the back of my head for the past year or so. Yes, knitting is my hobby, but it’s also my passion and I’ve worked really hard to become very good at it. It goes back to discussions my studio had over and over again about the value of “art” and “craft” practices and how they’re both perceived by people in the art world and everyone else. I’ve always felt like the craft world is highly undervalued by most people and I know there’s conversations all over the internet that basically boil down to people expecting crafters to make things for free or for material costs – like it’s something we’re going to do anyways so we should be overjoyed that someone is willing to buy us yarn.

Sorry for ranting but this is where my brain is at as the looming holiday deadline approaches and I internally debate what and for whom I should be knitting. I know most of my readers are knitters and crocheters and crafters in general, what are your thoughts on all this? Do you knit for everyone or just a select few?

#FridayFavorites

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 10

Do you have a favorite pattern or designer?

This prompt conveniently lands on a Friday, so I think I’ll do a little Friday Favorites round up of a few of my favorite patterns I’ve personally knit.

Pine Bough Cowl by: Dianna Walla

I made this a few years ago (mine is the image on the right) It took almost ten skeins of yarn but was really fun to knit. The pattern was easy to memorize and it had never occurred to me before this to knit a scarf in a tube so that all the WS would be hidden away. I don’t know how “in” infinity scarves are anymore but it’s something I will continue to wear regardless.

Water For Elephants by: Yvette Noel

I’ve been a big fan of elephants for a while now and when I saw these socks I knew I had to make them. I believe these were the first pair of colorwork socks I’d ever made and if I’m being honest, probably spurred my obsession with making them. I had some cones of camel weaving yarn in my stash so I wound a big skein and dyed it black to have a contrasting color. I didn’t really check my gauge with these and they unfortunately are too small for my giant ass feet. But lucky enough for my mom, they fit her just fine. Less lucky for her – she has to hand wash them.

Dinosaur Jr. by: Katie Boyette

I’ve made this little cutie twice now. The first time was a gift for my best friend and her soon to be born little guy. It was so fun to see him take shape while I was knitting. He was so cute in fact that another friend of mine asked me to make one for his niece’s birthday. I added the purple foot pads and button eyes the second time around. I might even make this a third time because damnit it’s so cute I want one.

Salt by: Sylvia McFadden

The second I saw this pattern on Instagram I went and bought it on Ravelry. I knit this thing obsessively. The stitch pattern is so addicting the whole thing just unfurled from my needles. I couldn’t wait for winter to get here so I could wear this shawl. Mine came out a bit smaller than the pattern indicates but that’s hardly a shock considering how tightly I knit. I was so excited about this pattern that I even splurged on some Wool of the Andes yarn from Knit Picks. It’s definitely already one of my go too scarves this winter.

Thoughts from a reformed yarn snob.

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 9

What fiber or yarn do you love working with?

As with most things certain yarns and fibers work better with certain projects. I’ve been really lucky to be able to work with lots and lots of different materials over the years. I’ve raised silk worms and spun from silk hankies and silk roving. I’ve been to a few sheep sheering events, one alpaca sheering, and an angora bunny sheering. I’ve washed very poopy fleeces and have been able to turn them into workable material. I’ve also been able to learn quite a bit about dying different fibers with mx, acid, and natural dyes. It’s really really hard to pick a favorite.

For a while I really enjoyed weaving and knitting lace with very very thin tencel yarn. It has a silk like quality and dyes beautifully, with the added bonus of being a plant fiber and much more cost effective.

I have also been lucky enough to have had access to a lot of 100% merino. I know a lot of people who don’t really like wool because it’s always scratchy or whatever but merino throws all of those ideas out the window.

That was all in school though. Outside of school I’ve mostly just used things I can get at chain stores and every once in a while I’ll splurge on something really nice. Most of my yarn now is mixed with acrylic and is super cheap. But honestly it gets the job done just fine. I can throw my socks in the washer because who the heck wants to hand wash a bunch of socks every week? It certainly isn’t me. I think with the things I make the most, which seem to be socks and the occasional mitten or baby sweater, functionality, durability, and ease of care out-way the yarn snob in me. Fancy yarns seem too precious some how. There’s a lot of pressure in my brain to make THE BEST PROJECT with THE PERFECT PATTERN with fancy yarn and it just kind of takes the fun out of making. I also think acrylics have come a long way from the stuff my grandmas would crochet afghans with in the 70s. I have a few blankets from them and you can literally see the strands of plastic hanging out but bonus points for still being warm and cuddly, totally washable, and not eaten by moths.

It’s not a waste of yarn if you’ve learned something

Life is really weird when you stay up all night and sleep during the day. That seems like an obvious statement but trying to plan things for say a Wednesday evening is really hard to wrap my head around. It’s hard for my brain to conceptualize time right now. Like right now, Tuesday at 6 am is basically Monday night. Dinner is breakfast, breakfast is dinner. I don’t know when to shower or when to eat lunch. I’m getting used to it, but it’s weird.

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 7

What is your least favorite piece that you’ve knit?

Going through my Ravelry page today trying to figure out what my least favorite project is. I don’t know that I could pick one specific project out. Sure I’ve had my fair share of failed projects but I’ve also learned something from each of them. Scrolling through I can remember making most of them. I remember what the yarn felt like. I remember who I gave the project to. And I remember what things didn’t work with each one. There are things that I definitely don’t need to make again and there are things I would make differently if I made them again. I picked out two projects that should have been made differently.

IMAG0529_mediumThis first one is a lace hat I made for my mom. I remember buying the yarn and I think my first pair of bamboo needles. The yarn is so silky and has such a nice drape which is exactly what went wrong with this hat. It’s way too floppy, even for a slouchy hat. The pattern called for wool which would definitely hold up a little better and actually be warm. On the other hand, this was the first project I knit that incorporated short row shaping – so I learned something. And my mom stills wears it even though I think it sucks. tumblr_nk16u9ojC41qhxvzyo1_540_small2

 

 

 

 

 

The second project I found is this pair of socks. I had been coveting a mitts pattern for a while but at the time I didn’t want to make mitts. I tried to make mittens with this lace pattern which did not work after several tries. I decided to try and make them into socks. Things I didn’t understand at the time of this project were ankle shaping and negative ease. The picture really makes them look a lot better than they are and it was not an easy picture to take. Besides the obvious mix ups in the lace, these are super slouchy and end up making my legs seem much bulkier than they are. I don’t hate the idea of frogging them and starting over. I would probably use the yarn to make the mitts as they were intended in the first place since the wool is really quite scratchy. If I made socks like this again I would use the sock yarns I’ve been using for my other projects and change needle sizes down the leg for shaping since I think adding stitches into the calf would be rather obvious in these.

It is pretty cool to look back at the things you’ve made and see their merit even though they’re not up to your current standards. Having real physical evidence of things you’ve learned is really encouraging and I hope in a few years I can look at the projects I’m working on now and see how much I’ve learned since.

Do you guys have knitting duds? What do you do with them?

Blast from the Past

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 4

How did you learn how to knit?

I don’t remember exactly how I learned even though it was only five or six years ago, but the easy answer is that I taught myself from youtube videos. The tricky answer is that I have a degree in textiles and we covered basic knitting in several courses.

I picked up the basics from youtube videos – casting on and the knit stitch are all you really need to know to get started. I was in a weaving studio at the time so I was completely surrounded by yarn which was amazing, except it was all teeny-tiny weaving yarn and I had no concept of gauge for knitting. For whatever reason I decided to knit a tiny ass sweater to go with it.

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see what I mean?

It was a baby sweater pattern but I was using like lace weight yarn and US 1 needles – which in my defense I still do – but I didn’t adjust any of the stitch counts to make it fit an actual human baby. But this did spur an actual like “art” thing later so it worked out I guess. Anyways, I didn’t know about blocking or how to make button holes or anything so it isn’t really finished but I was so dang proud of it. It’s pretty wonky and phone cameras back then were pretty much garbage by today’s standards but I got all the parts right, and I effectively taught myself how to make a garment and knit cables. Screen_Shot_2015-02-19_at_9.16.41_PM_small2

From there I was pretty much unstoppable. That summer I tried and failed miserably at lace and figured out how to use dpns to knit in the round. A year later I had lace all figured out and knit a lot of miniature sweaters that I designed myself.

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Everything in my life is a WIP

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 3

Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)?

In my last post I mentioned I usually like to stick to one project. But that pretty much only applies to knitting.

I tend to keep a lot of creating things in my brain, in my studio, on the floor, on the coffee table, in my purse. They’re everywhere. I’ll just talk about some of the big things though.

IMG_1006I’m going to include this one as a giant kick in the butt to work on it. I honestly kind of forgot about it until now. My best friend got married in 2015 and I decided to make them a quilt as a wedding gift. I of course never finished it because I’m a garbage human and shitty friend and I never finish anything on time. I mean actually there were some major problems like a lot of white fabric being mislabeled so half of it was a slightly different color white, resulting in tearing out a lot of very meticulous seams. Then I got overwhelmed by a new very stressful job and my mother wanting her dinning room table back. So no it’s in a giant bucket in my studio. Maybe I’ll do something with it.

Earlier this week I started a Bullet Journal. I don’t even know why besides I had a dot paper notebook and a bunch of cool pens. I almost never keep up with a sketchbook or an actual written journal. But I’m kind of obsessed with the stupid thing. It’s basically like data collection porn to me and I can’t stop. I’ve filled like 20 pages in only a few days. There’s something satisfying about feeling more productive than I actually am.

The most exciting (for me) thing I’m working on is a Tech Editing course. I realized that Tech Editing for knitters is like an actual real job a few months ago and something clicked in my brain. It’s literally the perfect job for me. I won’t have to have children screaming at me or kicking me. I won’t have to come home covered in nasty coffee shop syrups. I can make my own hours, which works out great for my newly adopted third shift sleeping schedule, and I can do something I genuinely would be good at and give a shit about. I should be ready to start taking clients by the new year so stay tuned!