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:

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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

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?

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!

 

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!

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!

Where’s Your Space?

20140116-074028.jpgThis subject has been on my mind a lot recently. Most of us have the “essential things” that we have to do each day–work, family, etc. while those are often wonderful things, those actions can be very outward facing.
When I think of people I know well, all of them have things they do that allow them to be more introspective and/or creative. But how do we honor that space for ourselves within the busy routines of our day?
The other day, a very close person in my life was overcoming a challenge to get to her space, her place to just “be.” I realized that even though my husband and I live in a pretty small condo, I have my place for reflection and creating in our guest room. But in my hurried moments, I allowed the space to become cluttered. The result of that was that I felt cluttered.
I spent a few hours last weekend doing a big sort through and brought my space back to life. Freshly spun yarn hanging on the wall, organized shelves, and room for yoga without fear of falling on my drum carder and impairing myself.
Sometimes seeing another person’s challenge and how it’s overcome can be the kick in the booty to look inward.
Do you have a place that’s just “yours?” Away from TV, tasks, electronics, and responsibilities? How do you honor your own time..or us that something that’s still on your to-do list? Take it from my lesson. The time to step back is rewarding in ways that you don’t realize until you are there.

Peace out and spin on!

Final Awamaki Update for 2013

Wow! December flew by with tons of Christmas knitting, spinning, and creative work. My etsy shop was buzzing with lots of custom requests, so first..the update for giving to Awamaki. After I took out supply costs, this months giving landed at $242!! Total that with November and the year will close out with $354 going to support an amazing organization. Here’s the “Thank You” video they made for their donors this year. Take a look and you will see why I love this organization so much: Awamaki Thank You Video

More soon, but here’s a few pix of my recent productivity.

Rustic Swirl Yarn:

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Funky Handsun Hat for my daughter:

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And a peaceful spinning morning for me:

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Spin On!

Thank You!

It’s the early dawn of Thanksgiving on the west coast, and I’m quietly having coffee and reflecting on all abundance of things I have to be thankful for in my life. I’m so grateful for my family, the fact that my mom is still with us despite her battle with two kinds of cancer. We’re all gathered at a house on the beach, and I just feel overwhelmed with gratitude–and it doesn’t take a holiday for me to feel like that, but that does give me a reason to write about it.

But, I am also so grateful for all of you who read this blog. You are all around the world, from the US, to Canada, to Saudi Arabia, to Africa, to the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand…it’s crazy awesome!! You encourage and motivate me. I learn from you when I read your blogs. This spirit of companionship connected through art has changed me this year. You’ve given me the courage to start my etsy shop AND make it not-for-profit, which is a dream I had years ago–to celebrate art and use that passion to give back. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s GOOD crazy, and you are all a part of it.

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You are people who see handspun yarn like this with (pearly beads) and think of possibilities. Who stop by to comment on color or technique and give me ideas as to what to make with it. You inspire me with your own pictures/stories and how you spin, knit, or weave your life moments into your art.

So, thank you. From the depths of my creative heart, I appreciate you all! May your sunsets be as amazing as this one…Spin on!

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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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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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