Where Do you Find Inspiration?

20140120-061706.jpgRecently, Christina from Feel Good Knitting wrote a great post about something we all go through as artists…inspiration.  Which inspired me to think through that process a bit more.   For me, 80% of my inspiration comes from being outdoors. When I get too wrapped up in color wheels and techniques, I find freedom in watching how all the “rules” are out the window when it comes to beauty in nature. Random color schemes, uneven light and dark, diagonals mixed with solids..I feel completely free when I take in that kind of beauty.

But as we all know..freeform creativity does have an element of structure, but finding the balance between unplanned and something you would actually wear is a little trickier!

So…here’s a little inspiration sharing from my top five “go to’s” if I am looking for inspiration and ideas. There’s many more, but my hope is that you will share a link or two below as well. Here we go!

Pre #1. All of the blogs on my reader list, which is pretty much the same as my followers. I LOVE scanning my reader list and seeing what all of you are doing!

The next five, but not in order of preference…

1. The blog at Wool and the Gang  Why? They get it. They have an awesome ability to make simple become uber unique and edgy. They also support knitters from Peru and bring in their Crazy Sexy Wool from there. It’s a neat story..you should check it out. (Plus, any yarn that has “sexy” in the title has my vote!”

2. Quince and Company Blog  I go here when I just want to be captured by an updated version of classic beauty. Their wool is locally sourced from the US, and the colors and textures are just awesome.

3. Do Stuff! Lee Meredith (Leethal Knits) I intentionally linked to her recycled reconstructed sweater because it’s a perfect example of how brilliant and unique she is in her creative approach. I’ve done several of her patterns and have always enjoyed the way she puts them together.

4. Spin Artiste  LOVE this site for spinning inspiration! So much so that I am enrolled in her “Fibery Goodness” online course. Arlene highlights indie spinners front around the world and I am always filled with inspiration when I read those stories/interviews.

5. Fringe Association  Another beautifully put together that celebrates the amazing possibilities with knitting. Great subject variety filled with inspirations and current knitting trends.

Okay..one more! I just can’t help myself.

6. Knitted Bliss  I love her “Modification Mondays” as well as her blending in snippets of real life to her posts. It feels very personal, genuine, and inspiring. Great patterns too–a few have been on Knitty and her overall style is awesome.

Wow–was a fun share out!! Your turn, and Spin On!

Priorities…what are your top five?

20131022-162233.jpgSometimes life can get crazy. Not just out of balance, but cuh-razy. Seems like everything hits at once. When I have those compact moments (like the past few weeks), I like to pull it all back and think through what matters the most, and then my craziness slows down.

For me, it looks like this:
1. Faith. I can’t imagine life without it, and starting my day with quiet time and prayer grounds me.
2. Family. Moments with family and friends are the things that make life real. And joyful. And sad. But oh, so….real.
3. Exercise. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I enjoy the rest of what life has to offer?
4. Art. For me, that’s knitting, spinning, weaving, creating. I come alive..or get introspective. Both are great.
5. Work. Yes..in my top five. But, it’s the last on the list, and that makes me happy. For years, it would have been #1 or 2.

Here’s the deal. Last weekend, my mom came to visit. She’s ill. Two kinds of cancer, and the liver one is untreatable. So I love the moments I get with her. We went to the beach and she took pix of the knitwear that’s on my etsy site.

We. Had. A. Blast. We laughed at the really bad pix, at the cold, and enjoyed the fall leaves. I’m no model, and she’s not a photographer. But somehow..it all came out good.

I’ll leave you with a few moments of fun…and I am off to my wheel.
Spin on!!

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Celebrate Life & Dare to Dream!

yarnTime to share a dream.  On the eve of my 45th birthday (halfway to 90!!), I am stepping out to do something that started as an idea almost 10 years ago.  I had just started spinning, and I knew down to my core that this was a form of art for me.  I would dream patterns, yarn colors and styles, and I taught myself how to weave, knit and clean/card my own wool so that I could create things that are as close to locally sourced as possible.

All the while, I was wondering that the true value of this is.  Yes, it brings me joy, and Yes, I love to give people things I have made.  But was there more?  I started reading about alpaca farmers in Peru, and local artisans around the world and I suddenly felt incredibly blessed to be able to create for the sake of art while others do this to survive.  So, I had this idea…

What if I created a business model that meant I would make what I wanted, sell it for the value it was worth as a handmade item, recover the costs for my supplies..and give the rest of the $$ to an organization that was helping other people around the world?  Honestly, my friends thought I was nuts…but I couldn’t shake the idea.  A few years later, I ran across Awamaki, an amazing cooperative for women in Peru that was started by an awesome woman who lives in the Seattle area.  The dots started to connect, but between work and family things, the time wasn’t right for me to dig in.

scarfI’ve decided the time is more than right, right now.  My new SeattleSpinner Etsy Shop opened tonight.  I’ll keep adding to it to my heart’s content, knowing that what I am making will serve two awesome purposes.  People can buy handmade items that also support local U.S. farms and know that the proceeds will go to benefit women in Peru.

So, that’s my birthday present to myself.  Dare to dream…and even more…dare to do it.

Spin on!

Fiber Friday! A week focused on new techniques.

What a great creative spinning week! It’s funny how the time goes by and it feels like you haven’t done much until you stop and take a look.
First: I sold my first yarn!!!
Wheeeee! This was uber exciting!

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Here’s a progress photo for the rest of the week:

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1. 400 yards of singles. 70% wool, 30% silk.
2. Coreless tailspun yarn: 50 yards, local lamb locks and mohair locks
3. My best ever supercoils and the project from them.

All in all, a great week. How about you?

Spin on!

Fiber Friday and Real Life

Last week, I left you all with a happy post that started with the pic on top and made its way to the pic on the bottom.

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Which then became this:

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But in between, there was this:

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And this:

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Followed by this:

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My sweet daughter, who is 24, was driving her motor scooter and was hit by a car who backed out too fast. Her right knee was shattered and she went in for emergency surgery.
Things happen in life that we can’t predict. I’m so grateful that her injuries weren’t worse. That her love of snowboarding caused her to instinctively tuck and roll when she was flying off of the bike. Her head, neck and spine are fine, as is her attitude, despite the fact that she won’t walk on her leg for three months.
Today is her birthday. Mostly, I am grateful beyond words that she is here to celebrate it and continue to grow into the amazing woman she is only now discovering that she is.
Spin on, and hold your loved ones close..

Yello! (And a free sock pattern)

Like most of you..it’s been a crazy busy summer! In the Pacific Northwest, we had an incredible stretch of beautiful weather, which tend to keep me outdoors a lot. And..the salmon are running now, so I get beach knitting time while hubs gets tries to get dinner.

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These socks have been fun, but I think I am over my brief “spin for socks” phase. I will return to that, of course, because I am a total ADD artist 🙂 but now I am distracted with a new fleece dying project:

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(That is a teaser for my next post!)

For now, here’s the completed socks and a cliff notes version of the pattern:

Stitch pattern:

Rows have 25 stitches, so each row starts and ends with 2 plain knit stitches with 21 pattern stitches.

Row 1: K2 (k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1) repeat 3X, k2
Row 2 & 4: knit
Row 3: K2 (k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk) repeat 3X, k2

Cast on 8 with figure 8 cast on a size 1 circular needle.
Increase to 50 stitches with kfb (that means on the last increase row, only do the first increase on each side)
Knit foot bottom plain.
Knit top of foot with stitch pattern (above)
Fleegle heel
Resume knitting in the round, complete 2 full pattern repeats before starting pattern in back.
Knit to desired length, finish with double bind off (no ribbing)

Bam! Easy lace socks!

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Celebrate!! First “fleece to garment!”

I am so excited to have gone from this:

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To this:

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This was the buttonbox pattern from Knitty, and I am so pleased!! I frogged three other items before landing on the pattern that was meant for this yarn, and it was a fun one to knit. The fit is perfect, but I confess my swatch ran large so I knit for the 31″ instead if the 36″ and am so glad I did! The needle size felt right for the yarn so I didn’t want to mess with that.

So, I did it! Bought the fleece, washed, carded, spun, dyed and knit my first “directly from the local sheep garment.” I am hooked.

Spin on, and happy Friday!

I am a Frogger..

Wow. I have to admit this publicly. I can commit to a project, but if I don’t LOVE it, or something doesn’t feel just right, I will rip it out with no regrets.

Anyone else like that?

Take my current quest, for example. A few weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on going from fleece to sweater. I thought that with the first bag of wool, I would do something smallish, like a vest or shawl. Then, with the lamb’s wool locks (which is so soft it’s amazing) I would do the sweater.

On my trip to the UK, I started the Hiker’s Waistcoat. Hated it. After about three inches, rippit..rippit..you get the picture. Then I decided just a simple cabled vest. Made it to four inches. Yup. R-I-P.

Then I started the shawl from Lee Meredith’s site, got to the last part..literally the trim..and out it went, to the knitted WIP graveyard.

I saw this vest on Knitty. LOVE…

But I didn’t want grey. By now, I had spun the right amount for the vest, right gauge, so I dyed it a beautiful cobalt blue. I’m in. No more frogging.

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And while I knit this I will be spinning my lamb’s wool..enough for a sweater that I don’t frog, right?

Spin on!

Adventures in Fleece, Pt 2

So, I went from this…

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To this.

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With very little pain but a lot of learnings!! I am über excited to have washed, dyed, carded, spun and knit my first actual fleece!! It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn awesome.

Notes to self:
I’ve been spinning a lot of art yarn, so bumps and slubby bits are pretty.
Short fibers (less than 2 inches) are not the best for my first few attempts.
Less fiber at a time might give me better QC.
Drum carders have lots of pokey bits.
I LOVE the process..it’s very gratifying.
Lanolin is kinda cool.

Can this fiber be saved?

Heinous.  Yep..that’s the word that came to mind when I looked at one of my recent dye jobs.  That thought was followed by a word salad of images that represent screaming orange. Coast guard. Creamsicle on speed.  Blast area.  Lifesaver. Clockwork Orange. Ugly.  Can’t deal.

I entertained two schools of thought.

1. Overdye it.  Risk felting, but just try..it can’t get worse.  Unfortunate, I’ve tested that theory.  It can.

2.  Trash it.  I’ve spent too much time working on projects when it went wrong in the beginning because I’m stubborn.  I don’t like waste.  And, this was six ounces..more than my normal four ounces for dye jobs.

I left it hanging in the bathroom, partially due to denial and partially because I love watching my husband try to say something nice about it.  He was quiet.

However, this weekend, I discovered hand carding.  I have a totally different project I am working on, and Orange Heinousness kept hanging out, appearing to get brighter with age. I decided to try carding it…and much to my surprise, it shifted from bold and blinding to the salmon color I had been aiming for.  I have a lot of carding to do, but the color is more subtly vibrant (that’s today’s oxymoron, in case you are wondering).

Wish me luck..off to card some more!