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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Home sweet home..

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Spinning in public in the town of Looe..awesome memory.
But wow. Jet lag + work + travel for work = really interfering with my blogging! I still have so much knitting and fiber stuff to write about from this trip. But after the cleaver situation this week, I am glad not to be in London. My condolences to my new British blogging friends..what a difficult thing to process.

I loved my trip and time in the UK. The English countryside really is magnificent, and I loved walking through the streets of London. I found this amazing book when I was in Polperro that had local guernsey designs, and that is part of my inspiration for a new knitting project.

We also flew through Iceland and has a short amount of time in the airport to wander through the shop that sold sweaters knit from Icelandic wool. Again..I fell in love with local design.

So with all that on my mind, I couldn’t decide where to start, but I wanted to be knitting, so I started knitting a shawl pattern from one of my favorite indie designers, Lee Meredith. She has a great eye for creativity and patterns that have very clever construction. I am cranking away at this with my grey handspun until I can decide what sweater to begin. I got such great advice from all of you and I am totally in for “fleece to sweater!”

But now..four ounces of peaceful spinning when I got home last weekend.

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Off to Cornwall!!

Today is the beginning of what I think will be an amazing adventure. It’s our 5th anniversary…and these part five years have been unbelievably wonderful. Seriously. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

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We’ve been saving for a vacation to celebrate, and this afternoon we are off to the UK for a seven day walking tour along the south coast of England. I am so excited I can’t stand it!! 78 miles (or so) from Falmouth to Plymouth, with a few pubs, castles, and churches in between.
I’m ready for the adventure, and have prepped and packed 5 ounces of wool + spindle + 3 ounces already spun for the walking and traveling part. Our plan, if the weather is nice, is to stop along the way and hubs will draw while I spin. I am aiming for some crazy fun spinning in public pix! (Seriously, best husband ever).

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And..thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement for my first “fiber to sweater” project. I bought Amy King’s “Spin Control” to read on the plane. When I spin this wool on my spindle I get a very steady worsted weight. On the wheel an Aran weight comes me naturally. I’ve spun three ounces on the spindle and am taking five with me, so my first project will be the Hiker’s Vest (which seems appropriate, dontcha think? And when I come back, I think I might take on the Honeymaker sweater. It’s a bold call, I know…but when I saw the pattern, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. You know that feeling?

Anyway, my updates and posts will be SeattleSpinner on the road!! Hope you enjoy the adventure with me!!

Spin on!

Fiber Friday!! Today’s thought, “Slow down…”

Today’s post is largely inspired by this post on one of my favorite blogs “Suzy Sells Sea Shells.” After reading her post, I found myself thinking more and more about how amazing it is to slow down and enjoy the process of what we do in our fibery worlds.

Slowing down gives us the ability to see what is transforming before our eyes. A concept of fiber to finished project that most people don’t really comprehend (you mean yarn doesn’t just come off the sheep?)

The last batch of fiber I processed caused me to think through this very thing, because I realized I was trying to rush the process. Small moments of truth came to light.

If I rush this, I might not get all the dirt out..gritty yarn, not so great!
If I am impatient, I might not get the lanolin out..stiff, sticky fiber? Tough to draft..
If I hurry, it might felt..shame to have the sheep give up his coat in vain!

And slowing down means:

Really feeing the texture..
More time to dream of possible projects (or solve all the world’s problems)
Less tension…need I say more?
Spindling by the ocean…

I love the transformation process and the fact that I am knitting a beautiful hat from lamb’s locks.

I’ll leave you with these pix of my peaceful journey. What’s your Fiber Friday moment?

Spin on!

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Stress and creativity

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Car spinning. Road trip to Portland. Much needed break. (P.S. Hubs is driving)

So, I am curious. When I am stressed, especially with work stuff, I tend to go into a mega creative zone. Other that long walks or running, my creative outlet is very much my stress therapy.

I some senses, it’s thinking time. In others, it’s a chance to have control when other areas feel a little out of control.

But here’s the thing. Not only is it therapeutic, but I truly enjoy it. I get into a really happy place and my creativity goes on hyperdrive. Yesterday I took a day off work, carder some art batts and spun my heart out! Here’s a look 7.5 ounces of fiber in different stages:

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The batt in the middle is the 5th one I carded yesterday, all at about 1.5 ounces each. Here’s the recipe: BFL, recycled gold thread from a thrift store sweater, silk, merino, and alpaca from a local farm.

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So how about you..does stress hinder or help your creative process?

Spin on!

Spinning on Hood Canal

Amazing weather and a beautiful reason to take my Sidekick out for a spin!

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I love camping, and this is the first trip of the year for us. When we arrived Thursday night, this is what we saw:

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And I couldn’t help but think how cool it was, on the eve before Good Friday, to see a sign that reminds me of God’s promise to us. Wonderful way to start the weekend!

Peace..