Friday, December 2, 2016

Decembers Quote

"there is no need to be perfect to inspire others...Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections."
-Robert Tew

I actually had another quote all typed up and prepped for this post, but I saw this quote on the Solly Baby Wrap Instagram feed this morning, and just knew it was what I needed to hear going into this holiday season. Maybe it's what you needed to hear too..?
Happy December! 

PS. Snow is from last year. We've not had any yet, but a girl can hope right? 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

ebb & flow and creative mornings

Fall is by far my most creative season. Every year when September rolls around I'm riding high on the flow of inspiration and way too many creative ideas to put into action. This usually lasts all through October and into the beginning of November. 

And then. Mid- November hits and I start thinking about (and planning for) the holiday season. The trees are mostly bare and the daylight is rapidly decreasing. And (as can be witnessed by the number of blog posts I had for October compared to November) I inevitably start to run out of steam.

I used to get stressed out about this. I'd feel overwhelmed by all the half finished projects, started in early Fall that end up sitting in boxes and drawers, waiting to be pulled out at a later date. I'd feel discouraged by all the ideas I didn't have time for, the creative endeavors I'd hoped to get to that inevitably wind up forgotten as the year draws to a close. 

But creatively comes in ebbs and flows. Neither lasts forever. All we can really do is respect that flow when it's here and do what we can while it lasts. Knitting, just like any creative endeavor is a process. 

One thing that's been helping me this year to keep that creative spark is my weekly creative mornings. Once a week, Waldi takes Caleb for a few hours so I can get some good quality time to work on a few projects. Usually I set myself up at home, with coffee and candles but this month I also spent one morning in my favorite cafe, updating my design notebook and swatching with some lovely yarn. 

It's true that I still have way more ideas then I'll ever have time or motivation for, but instead of letting that overwhelm me, I'm trying to glean inspiration from it. There is so much to learn within this craft, so many possibilities of what we can make with just our hands and some sticks and string. It's actually a wonderful thought that there will always be something new to make.

And so, I'm just embracing November in all it's quiet gloomy-ness. I'm working on some Christmas gifts for friends & family and not worrying about how often I've got a new blog post up, or if it's been almost a week since my last Instagram post. 

After all, I'm doing all this because these creative pursuits give me life. I don't have time to waste worrying about when that creative flow will return. There's just too many other things I could be doing.

And I hope this post encourages you to embrace the ebb and flow of your own creativity, in whatever season you currently find yourself in.

related: I recently stumbled across this post from 2 1/2 (!) years ago. Time to take some of my own advice I suppose...

Friday, November 18, 2016

here & there

once again, it's been ages since I shared a little list of fiber related links I'm enjoying. so today, I thought I'd change that. 

this video from the Mandarines' Youtube Channel was so fun to watch! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way :)

this post from my friend Fran about spinning in the early days after her baby was born is just so inspiring. 

this yarn is so interesting looking and has such an interesting story. I'm sure it would be pretty fun to knit with!

this interview with Amy from Madeline Tosh is really fascinating- I could have listened to her talking about color all day long...

this pattern is beautiful and though I don't normally knit triangular shawls, I just might have to make an exception

this knit along is just starting up and I'm so tempted to join. any of the kits would make excellent projects but I specifically love the winter mittens.

Slow Fashion October is now long over but there is so much good stuff in the archives. I must admit I've not read a ton, but I'm slowly making my way through Karen's blog posts

and in connection with SFO: this post from Julie really hit on something that many of us can relate to and addresses an important element of this conversation.

and also, not fiber related but: 

this video is my cousin (who I interviewed here) announcing his world wide bike trip. you can also follow along on Instagram here or here and see a video about their first week in Washington state here.

PS. that fiber in the photo above was inherited from my auntie. she traded veggies from her garden for it back in the 70's and I'm excited to card it and start spinning!
AND in case your curious, that is my Lila sweater which I made almost two years ago now.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Scotland Yarn Crawl

Today I'm excited to finally share with you a little bit more about the yarn shops that we visited on our trip to Scotland. One thing I really love about yarn tourism (is that a real term? I feel like it should be...) is how you end up visiting places you otherwise never would. I feel like we saw some less touristy areas of Edinburgh especially by visiting the neighborhoods where these yarn shops were. And of course, what could be more special than knitting with yarns brought home from an amazing trip? I can't wait to work on the projects I have planned for this yarn. I just know that I'll be reminded of all the best parts of our trip as I do.

One thing I want to say before I dive into this post is that I am aware that we missed some major places here. In case you are planning a trip to Scotland anytime soon, I wanted to make sure and mention a few places I would have loved to get to but that we just didn't have time for. In Edinburgh that's Be Inspired Fibers. On Skye I'd have loved to stop in at The Handspinner Having Fun in Broadford and both Dragonfly Studio and Island at the Edge. Some more reasons to return one day! 

Alrighty. That being said, here's what we DID see (the bold headings are links, if you want to find out more about any of these amazing shops):

Ginger Twist Studio (Edinburgh)

We walked out to this little shop on our first afternoon in Edinburgh. It's tiny but chock full of fun, vibrant yarns with a colorful & vintage-y feel. There was a great selection of hand dyed yarn (unique to the shop itself) as well as plenty of patterns from designers such as Claire Devine and Emily of Tin Can Knits. Jess, the owner was so sweet and helpful. She even recommended a great bakery just around the corner, which we headed to for coffee and a treat after we'd finished. 

what I got: one skein of hand dyed sock yarn (dyed by the owner herself) and a skein of West Yorkshire Spinners Blue Faced Leicester. The WYS yarn will hopefully become a pair of mittens. With the hand dyed yarn, I'm hoping to cast on the Winding Way socks by Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits- they were inspired by Edinburgh Old Town.

Kathy's Knits (Edinburgh)

We almost skipped this spot, as I was feeling pretty beat by the second afternoon but in the end I am so SO glad we made it. Kathy's Knits is a lovely shop and so very different from Ginger Twist Studio. I would say that this store had a more classic (rustic..?) feel to it, though there's still plenty of color. Kathy herself was there to assist with all queries (she had just returned from Shetland Wool Week!) and she really had a great selection. There were English and Scottish yarns galore and patterns/books from well known designers such as Kate Davies and Ysolda Teaque. 

what I got: two skeins of New Lanark DK in a lovely tweedy green for the Woodland Tales mitts and two skeins of Blacker Yarns Tin II. The first was a planned purchase (I'm considering ordering more in different colors at some point) but the second was a total impulse buy. As soon as I saw these two gorgeous skeins I knew that they just had to come home with me. If you don't already know of this yarn, you can check it out here. Though I don't have any specific plans for it, I'm thinking a shawl, or perhaps a lovely two toned cowl (like this or this). 

Shilasdair (Isle of Skye)

Where to even start? What to say about this amazing yarn store... This was by far the most remote and enchanting yarn store I've ever been to. We drove down the road and to the bottom of the driveway and I literally felt like I had arrived at the end of the world. And then we walked in and the magic just continued- the walls were lined with lovely hand dyed yarns in such a vibrant mix of colors. Each skein was labeled, showing which plants had produced that color. In the back was a small room with a little more information on the dying process- there were books and posters detailing the color wheel offered at Shilasdair (and the dyestuffs used) as well as a video explaining more about the process. We had such a great time looking around and taking our time to carefully make our selections. 

what I got: one skein of Luxury DK dyed with Indigo & tansy to make matching hats for Waldi & Caleb, and some lovely sock yarn dyed with Marigold & onion skins which I'm sure will turn into a very lovely pair of socks. 

so there you have it. I must say, this post was a blast to write. Hopefully I'll have more yarn-related travels to share at some point but for now, if you're interested you can read about my Vancouver yarn crawl I went on with my mom last summer here

Thursday, November 3, 2016

creative chat: Andrea of Create Share Love Blog

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have been thinking a lot lately about memory keeping. For this reason (among others) I am very excited to share the next installment in my creative chat series! Today I'm talking with Andrea from Create Share Love Blog about blogging, goal setting and of course- memory keeping! 

I've been following along with Andrea both on Instagram and her blog for about a year and a half now and I am always so inspired by not only her projects but also her entire approach to blogging and documenting. Her scrapbooking spreads and mini books are absolutely stunning and have me seriously debating starting up scrapbooking myself. I was so excited when Andrea agreed to chat a little more with me and share about her work and creative process.

You can connect more with Andrea over on Instagram and check out her blog here. But for now, grab a cuppa and come join us for this inspiring chat! 

1. If we were having this conversation in person, in a cafe what would you be drinking? are you a coffee or tea person?

I usually start with a good cup of black tea or green tea (preferably with loose tea) and then drink either an espresso or cappuccino. What I love about tea is that it takes longer to drink it and therefore you don't have to order something new so fast. I still like my tea when it's cold, but I don't like cold coffee.

2. Tell us a little about what you make/do. What got you started on this creative journey?

I have always been a crafty person. When I was younger I loved to draw and paint. My grandfather is a fantastic watercolor artist and I always wanted to paint like he does. My favorite subjects in school were the ones that involved painting, drawing, knitting, sewing and playing with wood. But then, as a young adult (around 20) I lost my interest in crafts and also had no time because I was working (almost full time) and studying at the same time. But then, after a few years I needed a hobby again. There was this feeling that I just had to create. I started with painting, then picked up sewing and knitting again. In 2012 I got introduced to memory keeping (Project Life®) and started to make mini books and traditional scrapbook pages. Today I can say that I simply love to make and also am really interested to try new things. I recently started my first embroidery project and it is so much fun.

3. On your website you say "There is always something going on in our life and we forget all those little moments that make our life valuable too fast. Life is not all the big events, life is small everyday stories. And I want to collect them." This really resonates with me! Can you talk a little bit more about how both blogging and scrapbooking play a role in this?

With scrapbooking (making traditional scrapbook layouts, mini books, Project Life®, ...) I tell stories of our life. Stories that most people think aren't worth documenting because they are too "everyday life". But I LOVE to take photos of what we are eating, what I'm wearing, who we are inviting over, how we spend our Sundays, what we watch on television. There are so many small things in our life that make our life our life. That describe who we are and what we value. What we love and what we don't like. These small moments are the ones I want to document. Yes, there are also bigger moments like a wedding, a birthday or a vacation where I take photos and have a story to tell. But most parts of my life are small moments. With scrapbooking I am telling all those big and small stories.

The main reason why I started a blog is to have a place for all my projects. There I can collect everything I make. It's so much fun to look back through my archives and see how much I am doing. Crafting is a big part of my life and I would easily forget all those projects if I hadn't documented them on my blog. But the blog is also a space where I don't share everything. Projects that aren't that awesome won't make the cut and you will never see them there. Or there are projects I finished, and I shared them on my Instagram account but never had the time to write a proper blog post for it. In the end I'd say, the blog has the purpose to collect my crafty projects that were a success.

4. How does goal setting fit into what you do?

In 2014 and 2015 I had a Birthday project called 27 handmade items. The goal was to complete 27 new crafty projects in the year I was 27. It was a time where everyone had a Birthday project going on. Although I didn't reach the goal, it helped me to try new mediums and learn new techniques. 

At the beginning of this year I set myself two crafty goals: to make 6 mini albums and to sew/knit 10 garments. I set these goals not because I am not doing enough already but because I want to take more time to do projects I really love. And I love making mini albums, sewing and knitting. But with all the other projects I am doing, I didn't do much of these three things. I picked sewing and knitting because I want to improve my skills and making mini albums because I love to hold them in my hands and look through the pages.

I subscribe to the Story Kitand Story Stampfrom Ali Edwards. The goal I set there is to always watch the video in the classroom and to make at least two scrapbook pages every month with the contents from the kit. The main reason behind this goal is also "taking time for me". Taking time for me and my projects.

5. I'm so inspired by the way you share and document your creative projects. How do you find that balance between creating and sharing- finding time to make and also time to document what you're up to?

Good question! I guess that taking photos during and right after I completed a project is second nature by now. Whenever I finish something I grab my camera and take a few photos. This doesn't mean I'm sharing it right away, but at least I already have the photos. Taking photos is like the last step of finishing a project.

When I started blogging I shared three posts per week, then I switched to two posts per week and now I have one blog post up every Monday. I had to learn that although I don't work on Fridays, I don't want to spend all my time on this day working on my blog. With one blog post per week I spend 1 to 2 hours on a Friday for the upcoming blog post. This includes editing the photos of the project I already finished and photographed, writing my text and uploading the photos. 

For Instagram I like to share photos of a project in progress. This doesn't take long. I just put down my project while working on it, arrange it a bit and snap a photo. Then I edit it on my phone and share it with my followers. This whole thing takes about 5 minutes, which is nothing.

6. Where do you most like to create/make? 

In our house I have a craft room just for myself. I recently made a few changes and I really like the vibe of it now. I have a table where I can stand and work on paper projects and I have a table where I can sit and work on my sewing projects. I spend most of the time there when I work on paper and sewing projects. When it comes to knitting I prefer our living room, sitting on the couch. Or during the warmer days I like to bring my knitting outside. That's the great thing with knitting, you can do it anywhere. But when I work on paper projects it's easier to stay inside in my craft room.

7. What are you currently up to? Any exciting plans or projects to finish out this year?

Right now I'm working on several paper projects. There is my main Project Life® album, where I tell the story of our everyday life. I also keep a personal Project Life® album, where I document all the things about me and my projects. Then I have a few mini albums from past vacations I want to finish this year. From time to time I work on a few scrapbook layouts with the Story Kit. Then I also have this ongoing project called One Little Word® where you pick a word in January and focus on it throughout the year. I picked the word 'LIGHT' and document my progress and what I'm learning or changing. 

In December I participate in my favorite memory keeping project called December Daily®. This project is all about documenting our December with words and photos and then putting it all together to create a December album.

Fall and Winter is usually the time where I knit and sew more than during the Summer. I am looking forward to knitting a few hats, another sweater or pullover and I also want to try some new sewing patterns. I am in the beginning stages of creating a handmade wardrobe and now is the time where I'm making plans about what to make.

thanks so much Andrea for taking time to chat with me here! As mentioned above- to see more of Andrea's work and to follow along with what she's up to, make sure to stop by her blog and visit her over on Instagram.

note: all photos courtesy of Andrea. (in the top photo, she's wearing the Lucinda sweater, which she knit herself!)

This interview is part of my Creative Chat series, where I sit down for a virtual coffee or tea date with makers and creatives to talk about their creative processes, journeys and the inspiration behind their work. You can read other posts in the series here.

Monday, October 31, 2016

November's Quote

At the start of each month I pick a quote that applies to what I'm experiencing or focusing on at the time. You're more than welcome to join me on your own blog. If you do, please leave a link to your post so I can see the quote you choose!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming...
- Theodore Roosevelt

A bit of a longer quote this time around, and something that's been on my mind a lot lately. So many times, I let fear get in the way of putting myself out there, of trying something new creatively, of reaching out to make a connection. Of course, there are always those people just waiting in the wings to shoot you down when you do make the effort, but in my experience, the positive experiences are usually so worth it. So I'm trying to keep that in mind as I chase some dreams over the next few weeks & months. 

Also, if you're not familiar with this quote, I totally recommend looking it up and reading the rest. Inspiring for sure! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

pattern update: Dubliner Hat

So I have something very exciting to share with you today! This is my Dubliner Hat pattern. It was the first serious pattern I designed- the first one that wasn't a free tutorial via my blog that is. I worked so SO hard on this design and have always felt really proud of it. 

I originally designed this hat as a gift for my friend Simone. We picked the yarn together- a lovely green color that we both fell in love with. But the truth is that this yarn was not a good choice for the hat. From the very beginning, I never felt that it allowed the design to show through at it's best. 

Now let me make myself clear: I am not a yarn snob. While I love knitting with wonderfully, wooly yarns with a story (and would definitely hug a few sheep if I got the chance) I simply cannot afford to be always knitting with this kind of yarn. Nor do I want to be, if I'm honest. There are some big box yarns that I really enjoy working with (hellooo Patons Kroy sock!) and I'm not ashamed to admit this. Generally speaking, I quite like both the Lima and Nepal yarns from Drops but this hat was first made using Drops Alaska and I just gotta say... it wasn't what I'd hoped. 

Re-knitting this design has been on my project list for ages, and I had a skein of Cascade 220 Heathers kicking around in my stash left over from my Tamborine Cardigan. I decided to add a fold up brim to the design, but this is of course totally optional. At the very last minute, I decided to use the left overs of my Insouciant Fibers Jacob wool (after knitting a pair of baby Rye socks for C) to make a Pom Pom and I love the marled look of it! (I've seen online that there are marled versions of the Cascade 220 Heathers yarn that would also work really well for this, though I still love this hat without the pompom...)

So anyhow. I'm excited to let you know that the updated version of this pattern is now finished and available on Ravelry. If you've already ordered this pattern in the past, you should have already received your updated copy. And if you'd like to knit this design I'm offering 20% off until the end of October, just because. Use the code isleofskye16 (which is where these photos were, of course, taken) when checking out on Ravelry here to take advantage of the discount.

Happy Knitting!