Merry Christmas Eve!!

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Hello Friends!! It’s been a while since I blogged, but most of you know it’s been a year of healing for me after losing my mom…and I am starting to feel like “me” again. A slightly different “me” but good, nonetheless. In all this processing time, I have still been very fiber busy. Here’s a few updates from finished products. The pic above is my newest muse..free form tapestry weaving. I. Love. It. Here’s another:

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And a knit/woven scarf:

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A hoodie for my nephew for Christmas:

IMG_8255.JPGAnd a sweater I made for myself:

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And, probably one of the biggest decisions I have made..in January I’m starting the process to become a certified Holy Yoga Instructor. In a nutshell, it’s all the benefits of yoga but connected to the Christian faith, which is how I have been practicing anyway. I love the idea of helping others discover that path. And I have mentioned before how much yoga and knitting are such a great combination..I truly believe that yoga has saved my wrists and improved my posture. So, you’ll be hearing more about that adventure on this blog as well.
I hope you all have an amazing and beautiful Christmas!
Leah

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?

Hey Urban Spinners!

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I have been doing a TON of knitting recently, mostly due to a crazy travel schedule. Last weekend though, I got some good wheel time in and it was so refreshing! I’ve spun my way through several fleeces this year and I’m on the last bit of my remaining one. The pic above is dyed with ferns from our local park, and the fleece is from a farm about two hours away. Talk about local!
On Sunday, we’ll be driving back from Oregon and will stop by the farm I order from for the first time. It will be great to see the sheep and pick out the fleeces first hand instead of ordering. Here’s a pic of what I have left:

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I have a plan, too..for urban spinners like me, so if you are interested in learning more about fleece processing, stay tuned. I’ll make the announcement next week!
In the meantime, I’ll be posting pix of the farm visit after Sunday. I heard a rumor some lambs have been born..can’t wait to see!
Spin and knit on!

Saturday Morning Daydreams

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It’s hard to believe I was at Vogue Knitting Live a week ago. The experienced itself was worth every penny, and now I am just thinking through all that I saw and learned. I really didn’t know what to expect, since I haven’t been to one of these events before. My motivation for getting there was the design class I took with Josh Bennett, which was outstanding. That was nine hours of the weekend, and I’ll share more about it in another post.

In the meantime, here were some highlights:

The yarn above. One is Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter. I was happy to buy it in person because I really wanted to see the colors and get a sense of the texture. It’s. Amazing. I also literally turned around and bumped into Jared Flood, the owner/founder of Brooklyn Tweed and an amazing designer. What a neat guy..very fun to meet in person. The other yarn is an Irish merino that’s tweedy, textured, and soft. I totally fell in love with it…and the color.
And then there was the gallery. Inspiring and weird! Check out this glasswork art:

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And this crazy thing..I think it scares me.

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But wait, there’s more. I’ll leave you either this short video. Watch ing people looking at this display was just as fun!


Have a great weekend! Spin and knit on!

Aisance Cardigan

20140317-140021.jpgSo much to update on the blog! I have stories from Vogue Knitting Live (it was awesome..) but today needs to be a FO day, because I think Mondays need that. 🙂

I had two cross country flights in in the span of 8 days which meant tons of knitting time that looked like this:

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20140317-140352.jpgbut I ended up with this:

20140317-140450.jpgAnd I love it! It was blocked and dried in time to wear to day 2 of Vogue Knitting Live and tons of people asked about the pattern. Here’s the scoop and why I liked it. Link to pattern: Aisance Pattern and I used cascade 220 heathers, which I really like in terms of affordable and wearable yarn. Not much pilling and the drape is great on a size 8 needle.

The design was awesome because you knit the ribbed collar along with the top down raglan, so it was interesting and I had about four ends to weave in when I was done. The long part in the front is short row shaping and the sleeves were simple and fast..and by then I was ready to be done.

Really enjoyable knit, but I gotta say..one of the most fun and practical cardigans that I have made! Definitely one of the longest cardis, that’s for sure!

What’s on your needles? Anything that’s a marathon project like this one?

Knit and spin on!

Confessions of a first time swatcher..

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A few days ago I posted about going to Vogue Knitting Live this coming weekend (yeah!!!!), and I am excited to have prepared the first two parts of what I need for the class I am taking on sweater design.

The first was sketching the design. Check. Not a masterpiece, but an ok concept sketch. Second was doing a swatch. I am not joking when I say I have never swatched. Ever. That’s dumb, I know. But for the class I knew it would be necessary.

My yarn arrived the other day:

20140310-190109.jpg I knew I needed to go for it. I cast on for about six inches so I could test the plaid pattern. Within a few minutes I was so glad I did. I intended on the purple being the horizontal stripes and the green bring vertical. However, the purple all but disappeared into the grey as a horizontal stripe. I started over and did the green as the horizontal. In the picture at the top the purple is actually way more vibrant looking than in real life. So, I ordered another skein, one shade more intense. (I wish the camera was more accurate so you could see the shade I am actually dealing with.) Even my husband said it was a shame the purple got lost. But the photo shows what my intent is, so that’s good!

And I know my gauge. The pattern is reverse stockinette, and it’s cool how the purple doesn’t show on the stockinette side. My gauge was loose, compared to what the yarn skein said. Mine = 16 per 4″ and the label said 18 per 4″.

Final learning is that the hand sewn vertical stripes add a bit of tightness in the length of the swatch. Again, good to know before designing!

Almost ready for Saturday! I want to re-sketch the design and do my second swatch with the new purple.

But in between I have one more business trip, so I will have done serious plane knitting on my Aisance Cardi.

More soon! Spin and Knit on!

WIP Wednesday

20140305-163113.jpg I love this cardigan..called Aisance from Quince and Co. And I am so excited to be going to Vogue Knitting Live in a week and a half that I decided I needed a highly motivating WIP to get me through the next few days. I’m also traveling for work for the next week so I have tons of airport and flying time. Not worth the Jetlag..but hey, at least I will be productive with my travel time!

I’m a little bit farther than this photo shows:

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Wonder if I will be closed to finished by the 15th…any bets?

What’s your current favorite WIP?

Spin and Knit On!

Tarian Sweater DONE!

I don’t know whether to start with the “wooooot!” or the photo! This has been one of the most engaging projects I have ever done. Friends..meet the Tarian Sweater:

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I started it in December, then took a break. Not a super fast knit, but I learned some new stuff..like:

1. I can hang with a pattern that has single cables crossing at every stitch. (There was some doubt about that when I started).
2. I do not have second sleeve syndrome..I love sleeves!
3. I LOVE textured knits. I was not ever bored..at all.
4. My favorite new skill..short row capped sleeves!!! It’s a bit time consuming (think like turning a heel, but shoulder sized).

Yarn: Quince and Co: Lark, color: honey, skeins: 8
Pattern: Tarian Sweater This was published in Twist Collective, Winter 2013

Notes:
1. Quince and Co yarn is lovely..and it grows a lot after blocking. The sleeves alone are about 3 inches longer than what I knit. I knew that and planned for it, and the fit is perfect.
2. I did not do the waist shaping because the single cables have a stretchy rib effect. Clearly it doesn’t need it!
3. My dog was a tad jealous and wouldn’t let me photograph it! I can forgive him because I hadn’t washed it yet and he’s so dang cute!

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Spin and Knit on!

Mo’ Mojo please!

20140128-145434.jpgSo here’s the scoop. I am not one of those bloggers who takes amazing pix of beautifully perfect FO’s. You know, the lovely blogs we all look at for inspiration..things that remind us why we love knitting so much. Nope, mine’s the real life, dropped stitch, “oops that seemed like a good idea at the time” sort of blog. This is one if those real life moments.

I have been so excited about this sweater! It’s all been planned in my head, I wove in the ends as I went along, I even told my husband in a quiet, confident whisper..this could be the coolest thing I have ever made.

I had to knit the start of the sleeves to see how it would fall on my body. Then I tried it on. Oh. My. Gosh. Not enough words or awkward pauses to say how yucky it was looking!! I put it down for two days..but not away. Away means “to the place of objects that will never get finished but I can’t throw it out.” No, “away” is not good.

I put it on the floor this morning. Determined. I frogged the top, down to the sleeves, did a three needle bind off for the shoulders and started an arm. There’s hope..I tried it on and the fit was soooo muchhhh better. I think it has been saved, but now I will need to add a collar. Once I finish the sleeves, I will post it and ask for collar ideas. But here’s where we stand now..and imagine that it’s blocked.

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So yeah..welcome to my world of trial and error! And thanks for the mojo!