Product or Process?

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Before I start with this string of thoughts..I have to say I am convinced there is no right or wrong answer. Ā In fact, labels in general make me nervous when it comes to creative work. Ā 

But recently, I have been thinking a lot about the creative process and what my reason is for doing what I do. I think I fall more on the process side, but let me explain how I got there.

“Product” knitting, spinning, or weaving is motivated by the finished item more than the time or journey it takes to get there. I am very much a product weaver..I don’t love warping the loom, and I enjoy the weaving part but I love, love, love the moment of unwinding a piece from the loom and looking at the fabric I made.

For spinning I am mixed. If it’s art yarn, I love the process. More utility yarn becomes a zen like process, but I still want to get to the final yarn so I can make something from it. On the other hand, I love washing and preparing a fleece to spin..and there’s nothing efficient or quick about that.

Knitting is a mix as well, but I am more of a process knitter. For a long drive, flight or TV show I have to have knitting in my hands. I like detailed patterns..I would rather have an interesting challenge than a fast knit. In fact, my channel cardigan took several weeks, but as I wrote earlier, it carried me through a difficult time.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on designing sweaters. During that experience I have realized how much of a process knitter I am. I like details, and I like changes. If it begins to feel routine, I don’t enjoy it as much.

When I took Josh Bennet’s design class at Vogue Knitting Live, we had 1:1’s with him at the end, and he have me a piece of advice that was probably the best I will ever get when it comes to design. I was debating between two techniques for the front of my sweater. One idea involved a lot of weaving in ends and I was concerned people would consider that tedious. He said “Don’t ever dumb down your designs to make them easier..it doesn’t honor you or the people you are designing for.” Simple advice, but golden.

So how about you? Are you a product or process maker?

Knitting in Pieces

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Okay, this is a strange thing to admit. For YEARs, I thought I didn’t like seaming. I avoided patterns that weren’t knit in the round. Big flat cardigan pieces were okay too..especially if the sleeves were drop shoulder, picked up stitches and knit in the round to to cuff.
Then I took a design class at Vogue Knitting Live, and we focused on based set-in sleeve (gasp) crew neck sweaters. I have avoided set-in sleeve patterns like no one’s business. Then I tried it and realized there are many cool advantages I have been missing.

1. Smaller knitted pieces fit better in knitting purses/bags for travel. (Like my “knitting on the ferry on my way to camping” picture above!
2. Smaller knitted pieces give a faster sense of accomplishment..
3. Seams are not hard. šŸ˜³šŸ˜³šŸ˜³ Check out this great tutorial
4. You can weave ends into the seams. I really liked that trick.
5. Seams provide a little more structure to the finished garment.

So there you have it..I’m converted! Still like my top down raglans, but this opens a whole new world of knitting fun!! How about you? Do you prefer knitting in the round or seaming?

Spin and knit on!

Fiber Friday: Little Giant & Moss Stitch

20140131-101055.jpgI am traveling this week, so I took an easy sweater for the trip, and since it’s SUPER bulky it’s moving along very quickly. The pattern is another Wool and the Gang pattern, Little Giants. I’m already done with the front and the back, and I can’t wait to do the sleeves and seam it up! Cozy!!! Plan on wearing it for the Superbowl! Go Seahawks!!
Until then, here’s a lovely pile of knitted goodness:

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Spin (and knit) on!

Send me some knitting mojo!

A while back I posted that I wanted to make a sweater out of handspun, preferably out of wool that I have processed. I’ve done a vest that way, but somehow a sweater seemed daunting.
Then I had a serious “aha” moment. I was focusing on spinning just one type of yarn for a sweater, and I realized that I have lots of single skeins from one-off spinning moments and experiments. And.. I had enough of one similar color family to go for it.

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Then I decided I wanted a simple, free form, artsy fartsy make it up as you go sweater. So I did a gauge swatch with size 13 needles to get a good drape (all the yarns are approximately Aran weight) and cast on!
I’m making a rectangle cardi. I’ll split for sleeves soon, then finishing off the back and sides, and do the sleeves as drop shoulder in natural cream colored yarn.
I processed and spun all of the yarns from raw fleece (except the one at the top of the pic with the shell beads spun in-I bought that roving and spun the beads in) and added sari silk and sparkle into the light purple one on the bottom.
Here’s a better close-up:

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So I’m thinking I can crank out the rest of the back this weekend. Can ya send me some love? A full cardi like this will be a major milestone for me!!

Happy Friday and Spin On!

I love flying..

20131004-084149.jpgAirport knitting rocks. I always get there to the airport early, get my coffee, and have a travel project cued up. Knitting with a paper pattern means I can knit during take off, taxiing, etc., and I honestly don’t care how long it takes.
I’m not a chatty flier, so I tend to put earphones in even if there’s no music šŸ™‚ because I like being in my own space. But I have had two knitting and flying stories worth repeating.
The first was hilarious. I was knitting a shrug with some handspun I had made that had about 20% angora in it. The guy next to me started sneezing, but I didn’t put two and two together until he opened the window shade and the sunlight streamed across my lap. I was sitting in a cloud of angora fluff that was floating around me as I knit peacefully away! I did apologize..but wow. How do you recover from that???
The second was a sweet story. The woman next to me was also quiet, but at the end of the flight, she asked what I was making. We chatted for a few, and then she got teary and said “My mother used to knit like that, and watching you brought up such good memories of her.” It warmed my heart to see her smile like that.
So, you never know the blessing you can be passing on..even when you don’t mean to!
Spin (and knit) on!

Another finished sweater

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I have been a bit of a knitting fiend. But here’s the crazy trail that took me to this now-my-favorite sweater. A few weeks ago I wrote this post about knitting and yoga. I mentioned in the post that I looked around to see who else was making this awesome connection. That brought me to this article in The Guardian, which took me to one of my new favorite fiber addictions, Wool and the Gang.

Oh. My. Gosh. I love the edgy cool factor in their knits. The attitude. The clean designs that are appealing to both beginning and advanced knitters. The fact that I cranked this hoodie out in a week and a half was just a bonus. They have a really unique vibe that reminds us that knitting is a blast!

I’ve been doing a ton of spinning, so I bought the knit kit for the hoodie because it was cotton yarn–something I am not likely to spin. Ever. Now I just want to try a bunch of their other patterns. The only mod I will make to my next hoodie (because there will be another) is to knit the sleeves in the round and the body in one piece. Bam!

Happy Friday and spin on!

Why I love my Sidekick

Happy Friday! Wow. It’s been so busy of the past few weeks that I’ve hardly had time to post. That being said, I’ve been uber busy knitting during my car commutes and am almost done with a GORgeous cotton hoodie.

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But for now, this post has been on my mind for a little while. When I was looking for a smaller portable wheel, I didn’t see too much about the sidekick. There were a few good reviews, but now that I’ve had it for about a 18 months, I’m ready to lay it out.

First. I love it. I spin more than I did before because of how well it’s made and how easy it is to take places. I feel like I have had it long enough to give some decent feedback.

Size: Perfect. We live in a condo, so the larger wheel I had was really taking a lot of space. I can pick up the sidekick and sit anywhere without thinking about it. Balcony, bedroom, different spots in the living room..and when I don’t spin, it sits nicely against the wall. I’m also pretty tall, and I think the height for the orifice is great.

20130330-111729.jpgPortability. It rocks. I take my wheel all over the place. Usually by the beach, but I have taken it camping, visiting my mother (small apartment), on an airplane (fits in a 24″ samsonite), and to knitting meet-ups. The strap is a small bit of genius, IMHO. Pop the feet up, throw it over my shoulder, and I am out the door. I do break it down all the way for suitcase trips, and once you’ve done it once or twice, it’s really simple. Takes less than five minutes.

Upkeep. Very good. I haven’t had to replace any parts yet, but I have has two small issues. The first was totally my fault. I dropped the whorl on a hardwood floor and it broke. I emailed the company and they offered to send one out (I think it was about $24), but I glued it with wood glue and it’s stayed put–that was over a year ago. Can’t really even see the split. There’s also been a strange noise that I’ve never had on another wheel, but I finally figured that out too. It was making a piercing squeak….super loud, and I took it all apart and lubed, etc. I do travel a lot and process raw wool, so I figured it was gunked up. Well, what finally worked was to use the same degreaser I use on my bike and wipe it all clean. Then I re-lubricated it and the sound was gone.

Upgrades: I bought the bulky flyer and i love it. Art yarn is easy and the flyer rocks…it provides great versatility!

Parting shots? If you are looking for a durable, portable, smooth running wheel, the sidekick is well worth the money. You might not ever buy another wheel…

Spin on!

Sweater done! A few firsts for me..

Remember this?

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And I asked for advice on the sleeves, which was awesome! Based on combined feedback, I went for 3/4 length, and did one set of the lace, which made a nice touch but wasn’t too busy. So, here’s the finished piece:

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I love it. It fits beautifully, falls just below the waist, shaping where needed, and I do think it’s the perfect traditional sweat for late summer, early fall.

Here’s my firsts on this:
First full sweater of entirely handspun (weighs12 oz, which is also helpful info for the future)
First time spinning beads into yarn and using it in garment design.
First self designed pattern! (I know, it’s raglan, but still..gotta start somewhere!!)
First time asking for readers to help me sort though the last stages of design, so thank you!!!

Now we’re off for another camping weekend, and you know I’ll be wearing this in the chilly evenings! Here’s a pic from last week’s alpine backpacking trip:

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Happy Friday! Spin on!

Knitting and Yoga

What do knitting and yoga have in common besides tying oneself in a knot? Funny, I had that question and wondered if it was a unique thought (ha). I did a quick google search and found an interesting series of pages. What really fascinated me was that much of the conversation is about the relaxing and meditative quality of both…yet was drew me to the search is the physical biomechanics of knitting and spinning and how GOOD I feel when I counter those positions with yoga.

We do a lot of rounded-shoulder sitting both while knitting and spinning, and I’ve recently found myself trying to bring my upper body into a seated tadasana pose (basically better, more intentional posture) and it’s really helped me feel more comfortable at the wheel. Or..at the beach while knitting, which as you know, I tend to do quite a bit.

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I think it’s really important that we counterbalance these long seated postures with a little grace and spinal stretches. To me, it feel like the best of both worlds. One of my favorite sources for very good quality audio yoga classes is Yoga Download. (This is my own personal recommendation–no bennies to me for giving them a shout out.) But here’s the deal. They have tons of free 20 minute classes that are just perfect for a quick loosener or stretch. The paid classes are longer, but I have done both and find them to be very high quality.

So, Hubs and I are off for another backpacking adventure this weekend. A few nights in the middle of the mountains at an alpine lake with no reception (eek). Lots of hiking, fishing, reading, knitting, and yoga (also feels really great after a night of sleeping on the ground) in my future. I hope to come back with some great pics and maybe a project update!

Have a great weekend everyone and 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!