Blog Hop Around the World!

Ok, this is fun!! Valerie, from Intricate Knits was asked to post in a Blog Hop Around the World, and then she passed the baton to me.

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The photo above is just one example of her beautiful work. I’ve been intrigued with her style and the beautiful complexity/original nature of her work. Needless to say, it’s pretty awesome to follow in this blog chain after her! Please take time to browse her site..it’s one to linger on and be inspired!
So here are the questions:
1. What are you working on?

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At the moment, I am on a break between sweater designs and knitting the beautiful Arabella Sweater. I love Brooklyn Tweed yarn and designs, and I also enjoy picking up great knitting tips from designers who have been doing this long enough to come up with amazing new ways to do simple things. I’ve also got a scarf on the loom from yarn that I picked up from Jamie at Cooke Creek Sheep Company. She sells beautiful fleeces that are skirted and washed and are wonderful for spinning. I’m working with some yarn from her farm to create a scarf pattern for her to use..let me tell you, the yarn is amazing for weaving and would also make incredible socks. And.. I’m starting to design a cabled cotton sweater for my husband..we will see how that goes! The photo below is my inspiration for his sweater..warm, cozy grey.

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2. How does my work differ from others?
In the sweater design area, I’m just getting my sea legs. One design is self published, my Alki Beach Sweater and the second will be published and launched any day now (stay tuned..squeeeee!) When it comes to spinning, I love, love, love spinning from a fleece I have washed. Sometimes carded, sometimes straight from the locks. It’s like free form art to me..and I am highly inspired by nature. While my work is unique, I think my motivation is also different from others. I work at a large non profit global relief and development organization, and I have a passion for organizations that take us beyond our own spaces…and into areas and lives that are so very different from our own. A few years ago I ran across an organization called Awamaki which is one of the best examples of sustainable development work in Peru..that happens to focus of women who are weavers, knitters, and spinners. All of the items I sell on my Etsy store go to support this organization. It’s one small way I can share my love for creating with my passion for helping others.
3. Why do I create what I do?
Like many fiber artists, I am very moved by the beauty of the world around me. I try to create based on the emotions and impressions that I’ve experienced through nature. That’s why so many of my blogging pictures involve hiking, camping, and kayaking. I see that, feel it, and want to bring it to life through another medium. I think that’s reflected more in the yarn I spin than anything else, but I’m starting to develop that ease of association with my designs.
4. How does my creative process work?
This depends on the medium. For spinning yarn, it’s often a burst of inspiration that comes from a scene outdoors. Walks in the forest, wild flowers, madrona trees, and unexpected bursts of color. For knitting, it’s a combination of trying to create a design that resonates with a place and then expresses that in a way that is unusual. In other words..I’m looking for something that I’ve never seen before..and then I add a twist. It doesn’t always work..I have a piled of designs that “seemed like a good idea at the time..!”
So now I get to pass the baton to a blog I love to read, Local and Bespoke. Here we go from Seattle to South Australia! Here’s a clip from her “about” page: “I live in Adelaide, South Australia. This blog is about making useful, one-of-a-kind things, mostly from local and recycled materials. It’s about growing plants, natural dyeing, spinning, knitting, sewing… and anything else that takes my fancy as the story unfolds.”
Come with me to check out Local and Bespoke as we blog hop around the world!

Spin and knit on!

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.  In fact, labels in general make me nervous when it comes to creative work.  

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?

Are you a monogamous knitter?

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I think I’m getting my groove back..and it feels good. One of the consistent things I’ve had to help me process my recent loss has been my Channel Cardigan . (I’ve just got to attach the collar and front band now. Full report when it’s a real FO). During the past several weeks I’ve realized I am much more of a one project knitter than a “mix it up” sort of girl. In fact, having several projects on the needles stresses me out, and I usually end up not liking one of them.

I do have a running wish list in my head though..of what to do next, and that choice is a constant battle! I’m really smitten with Arabella from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 7. What’s not to love?

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I am, however…NOT a monogamous fiber artist. Here’s the list of what’s going on in that world..Yoinks!
1. Two fleeces a-washing..
2. Spinning said fleeces…
3. A pattern in my head that needs to get out..
4. Warping the loom for a special project…

How about you? Are you monogamous in your creative pursuits or do you thrive with more projects going on?

Spin on!

My visit to Cooke Creek Sheep Company!

  

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     Most of you know that a year ago I started a quest to get my yarn as locally as possible and them learned how to wash it and process it, which led to this epic tale.  In the process of this, I really wanted to connect with a local farm that I could get to know and trust so that I could share stories about where the wool came from. I had some disasters along the way, because just showing up at a farm isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. I would research different farms, and look for ways to get a sample if their wool. All the things that you need to do when you live in a small two bedroom condo. I had sheep fleeces that were shipped to me that weighed more in poo than they did in wool, fleeces that were just low grade quality, and fleeces that were really nice. I learned that for the urban lifestyle, washing a full fleece at once can put your marriage on shaky ground. (just kidding, my husband is super supportive, but I do think he winced the first time he saw a murky brown mess in the bathtub!)

     All that to say, I finally found an amazing farm about two hours from where I live, so I visited last weekend to see where this awesome wool was coming from. 

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     Cooke Creek Sheep Company is run by Jami and her husband Larry and they are amazing, welcoming people who are passionate about what they do.  They are in lambing season right now, so as you can see from the top picture, (my favorite picture in the whole world), I got to hold a 4 day old lamb. I posted that pic on Facebook and one of my friends immediately added the thought bubble..which as quite appropriate.

     If you are looking to do the whole fleece thing, I can’t recommend them highly enough. And, if you are more of an urban spinner, I’m going to create test spinning packages for my etsy shop, so stay tuned. I’ll do it at cost and anything I add on for labor will go to support Awamaki like the rest of my products on the site. 

I’ll be starting that project with wool from this sheep..meet “Socks.”  He’s a Border Leicester sheep and I just started washing some of the 10 pounds of fiber I bought! 

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     As a final lovely picture, Jami also has yarn that she has from their sheep. It was from a similar fleece that I spun up last summer, and I was thrilled to see that the millspun looked like mine! Definitely a good confidence booster. It’s quite sturdy yarn, so I dyed it to create a weaving pattern for the farm. Here’s a sneak peak at the dye job:Image

     So, that’s a full post with tons of fun info! If your interested in learning more about the urban spinner packages I will be assembling, let me know below. 

     Have a great weekend and spin on!

 

When Knitting Meets Weaving

The other day I ran across a very cool book, cleverly named Kismet by Hill Country Weavers. I love my rigid heddle loom, and I have been looking for more ways to use it besides scarves. Kismet has it..here’s a pic of my first project (not a scarf, but a cowl!) which is a morph between two projects in the book (how kismet of me)!

20140113-200335.jpg So the body is woven, then after securing the ends I picked up and knit off the end to give it some stretchiness, which is perfect for a woven cowl. Finish the edges with a single crochet border (first time crocheting, mind you..there might have been a few bad words) and you have a Kismet Cowl!

And..then..I made some hats.

20140113-200633.jpgAll in all, January has been busy but productive. Next post..more adventures in spinning!

Spin on!

Oliver, spinning, weaving…so much going on!

So…my blogging has been a little slow because of this sweet distraction.

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Can you blame me? Oh. My. Gosh. Meet Oliver, my new little sidekick. He’s 5, a rescue, and a mix of Shitzu and Maltese. He’s like a cuddly teddy bear. I confess I have missed a few spinning evenings because he’s brand new to us and I couldn’t stop holding him!
Stay tuned for more Ollie stories… But for now, back to spinning, knitting and weaving!

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Fall colors…and a cabled yarn.
If I had to choose my favorite type of art yarn to spin, it would be yarn with beads in it. I’m fascinated with the combination of yarn colors and textures with various beads..and the possibilities are endless! This yarn is a 4 played cable, which was tons of fun, but I worked beads in like this:

20131118-184252.jpg It’s a pretty simple technique and I love having the beads spun directly onto the yarn. I’ll write up the pattern soon–it’s a very simple cowl that makes a sweet neck warmer–and with the beads, who needs a necklace?
My other big project was a shawl I wove for my mom..she requested one large enough to wrap around while sitting on the sofa watching a movie or reading, but not a bulky as a blanket. I think she’ll enjoy it! I do love weaving..it’s such a different stride from spinning and knitting. I just have to get over the whole warping thing..not my favorite part! But still..a fun project! Spin on!!

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