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!

Tools of the Trade

20140605-122812-44892962.jpg Have you ever debated for way too long about adding a tool to your supplies? You know, one of those things that seems like it might be awesome but you just don’t want to spend the money on it? For me, it was the skein winder. I can’t begin to tell you the countless hours I’ve spent winding yarn. Countless. And now I’m thinking differently about it because my kids are grown and I can’t coerce them into helping me…I love thinking about the hours they spent with their arms the width of the skein, squirming and trying to be patient.  Quality bonding time..that’s what it was.  20140605-123149-45109203.jpg It was this picture that pushed me over the edge. I wanted to warp my loom but couldn’t get motivated to wind the yarn. There are just so many other enjoyable things to do with that time. So, I bit the bullet and got the winder. Oh. My. Gosh. Game changer. Why did I wait so long?? Skeins wound in less than five minutes! In fact, I was so tickled, I texted this video to my (now grown) kids. Their response? Daughter: I see how it is….. Son: First giving my room to the dog and now this…. I feel replaced…. I love it. Seriously. Money well spent! Spin on!

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!

 

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!

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!

Spinning for the sake of spinning..

20131120-134200.jpgI love sitting at my wheel and filling a bobbin. Honestly, it is just as enjoyable if it’s a lace weight, art yarn, standard two ply worsted..there is just something really beautiful about a full bobbin of freshly spun yarn.

In fact, one of the more difficult parts for me is deciding what technique to use for the final product. For the skein above, I was going to do supercoils..but at the last minute I decided it needed to be a Navajo ply.

Then there’s these skeins:

20131120-134409.jpg I wanted to spun a really even uber thick single, which requires a steady zen-like spinning technique..at least for me.

I’m taking an online course to dig in deeper to art yarns, and the initial phase is all about exploring what types of yarn you like to spin the most. I’m having a hard time deciding because depends on what is inspiring me at the moment.

I rarely spin a yarn for a specific project…the idea will come to me while I am in the spinning process. And, sometimes it’s just yarn for the sake if making that be the “something beautiful.”

How about you? Do you spin for a purpose or for the yarn as the final outcome?

Spin on!

First report from my “pay it forward” Etsy shop!

Hi everyone! Been a crazy month with work, travel, and flu..but good news to share! A month ago, I opened my Etsy shop, with a pledge that the profits would go to Awamaki a nonprofit that supports women in Peru. Because I use so many local or raw products, my material expense is pretty low. So…drumroll.. Based on October’s sales, I was able to donate $106 to Awamaki. Two items were sold–the “Outrageous Cowl” and my “Merino a Bobble Cowl.”

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I have a custom order in progress for November..and it’s so exciting to see this little dream come to life. The joy in all of this for me is the ability to create art from nature. Knowing that someone is wearing and enjoying it and that the proceeds are going to an organization that I truly believe in makes the whole thing come full circle.

Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement while I have been launching this! 🙂

In other bloggy news..I just signed up for an online class to learn new techniques for spinning art yarn. It starts in a week, and I can’t wait to get going on it! I promise to post progress pix..even the ones that are kinda crazy!

This is one of the first items to be sold for November, my Sea Glass Yarn, so I already know I’ll have an update for you at the end of the month!

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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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