Friday, May 29, 2015

WIPs: A Sweater; A Sock; A Plan

Untitled UntitledUntitled Untitled

First off, thank you for your kind words and well-wishes on our house news! It been so wonderful to read your lovely comments, especially after long days of scrubbing, painting, and moving. You guys are the best. <3

But back to knitting! In between everything else going on, I've been trying to focus on just a few knitting projects at a time: sneaking in a few gusset decreases on a plain but sprinkle-tastic pair of socks in Knitted Wit Victory Sock here; knocking out a few rows of my long-suffering Custom Fit blouse there.

Last, I've been scheming a new project to get on my needles: a Robin shawl by Lee Meredith, using butter yellow, soft grey, and neon pink stash yarns - Shibui Sock, Baah! La Jolla, and Tosh Sock, to be precise. I think the weight and twist on these yarns will play very nicely together, and I've already sketched out a few different color variations and hit upon one I really like.

Now, I just need to finish something...! With a studio to finish painting and a whole house to move, I'll have plenty of time for that, right?

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We Bought a House!


Two days ago, Blake and I turned the key to our very first home.

In all of my notes from the last two months, I call it the pretty blue house: a petite Craftsman from 1925, carefully remodeled over the years into a small but beautifully detailed modern home. It is the reason for all of our duck-wrangling and stuff-sorting, and it has been a long and stressful journey to get here.

But in the end, it's all been worth it. Because this house? This house is special.

Untitled    Untitled

In each room, there is a moment of magic: in the color of tangerine paint slanted with afternoon sun; in the parallel grains of wood floor and ceiling that catch your breath as you walk into the kitchen. In the oft-forgotten, tucked away places, too: in hidden closets, and bright, small tiles, and windows whose very presence is carved into the walls. The heart and care of this house is everywhere.

In our two years of looking, this was the first house that we walked into and felt immediately at home. At the end of the open house - completely unprepared for the possibility of making an offer, in every way but enthusiasm - I had begun to feel a deep pull to the place, so much that I almost ached at the thought of leaving. And now, months after the initial sparkle has rubbed off, even as I scrub away crayon from the walls and wipe down cabinets and vacuum away layers of dust, I can feel the life of the house humming through my feet - and it is just as warm and inviting as it was the first time I set foot there.

So the weeks and months to come are going to be an uphill journey, as we continue to sort and clean and move from our house of two years into the home we'll share for years and years to come. But the promise of this house - our house - is just wonderful enough to make it all seem achievable.

Happy Wednesday, friends.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

(Free!) Pattern Release: Camas


My contribution to the 2015 Puget Sound LYS Tour, the Camas hat, is now available to everybody - and this one's a freebie!

I had an awesome time on the yarn tour - thank you so much to all of you who came to say hello, and to everyone who shared their positive feedback about my hat. It was really exciting to have my design so well-received!

I had such a fun time designing this pattern, so much that I knit up a second version for myself in Jam Session, another gorgeous colorway from Hazel Knits. This was one of those designs that just sort of fell in my lap, creatively - it was easy and fun from start to finish, and I think the result is quite fetching! It's also a pretty simple knit, with just a touch of lace to keep you occupied in between bands of garter stitch.

Untitled UntitledUntitled Untitled

The pattern is available as a free download through Ravelry, and local folks can still mosey over to Fiber Gallery for the free print version.

Happy Tuesday, and happy knitting!

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Quick Update!

Untitled Untitled

I'm working the LYS Tour again today, so no full post - just a quick update  & sneak peek for the Camas hat pattern release next week. You may have noticed in my recent photos: I cut my hair off a few weeks ago, and I love it. So light and easy and laziness-friendly - and so, so fun to wear hats!

Happy Friday, friends.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fiber Gallery 2015 LYS Tour Pattern - Camas

Untitled UntitledUntitled Untitled

Today kicks off the 2015 Puget Sound LYS Tour, and I'm super excited to report that one of my designs is the featured free knitting pattern at The Fiber Gallery!

It's called Camas, and it's a slouchy garter and lace cap knit up in one of my current favorite yarns, Hazel Knits Cadence. I designed the sample in the colorway Phinney Ridge, an exclusive Hazel Knits colorway developed for us, just for this event!

The pattern will be available exclusively at the shop from today, Wednesday, May 13th, until Sunday, May 17th - after that, I'll be releasing it as a free download from indie.knits on Ravelry.

I look forward to the LYS Tour so much every year - it's a great opportunity to visit all the wonderful shops in the Seattle area, and there are awesome prizes and free patterns to be had! And I get the bonus of meeting yarny folks from further afield than usual, which is always really fun. If you're local, I do hope that you'll come say hello! 

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three Fates Design Challenge Part I: Swatching


What ho, friends! Is it time for another Design Challenge with the lovely Stariel, knitter, designer, and sock knitter extraordinaire? I do believe it is!

A while ago, we chatted about the idea of doing a similar design project to our Rastita Design Challenge, and although it got waylaid by ballgowns and the usual life stuff, we connected recently and made a game plan for the new challenge.

I really enjoy Ariel's work as a designer, and she's such a fun, inspiring and engaging collaborator! It was really interesting to see our processes in parallel throughout the Rastita challenge; although we both started with similar materials, our creative brains and resulting workflows are very different, which takes us each down different and wonderful paths. I'm really excited to start working on this new project!

Untitled projects7

For this challenge, we'll be working with Aquae Fingering, a luminous single-ply with amazing yardage, dyed by Stephania of Three Fates Yarns - who is not only a talented fiber artist, but also an Oberlin alum and friend. I'm using the colorways Netarts (turquoise) and Mt St Helens (coral), a bright and summery combination that cheers me up every time I look at it.

So for the first post of the new challenge, we wanted to change it up a bit from last time. I've already covered my conceptualization process - which includes both concept development and sketching - so instead I wanted to talk a little bit about swatching and its role in my design process.

(I can practically hear the chorus of groans and sighs from here, but it will be fun, I swear!)


It's a funny thing, because as a knitter, I'm not much of a swatcher. I've come to realize that I am a lazy, lazy maker, which often makes me resistant to swatching for my usual projects; however, this is an advantage as a designer, as I'm always looking for simple, elegant solutions to complex problems - and I'd rather do it on a tiny swatch than on a whole project, because, y'know, lazy.

As a homeschooled kid, I learned how to be fastidious in this kind of process from my mom, a mathematician and teacher; from my dad the engineer, I learned how to make an educated guess, then glue stuff to other stuff and see what stuck. Both practices are extremely useful in swatching (and design in general): through fastidiousness, I'm able to focus on and change small details that can really kick a design up a notch; through educated guesses coupled with seat-of-the-pants experimentation, I'm able to create a yarn 'sketch', then let the materials express themselves as I work.

Because of this, sometimes my swatches end up... well... really, really ugly. And that's something I've had to work very hard to embrace. As a perfectionist, it's easy to become paralyzed by imperfections right at the beginning of your process, and to judge work before it's fully realized. And so, I've had to learn how to not only push through the imperfect part of the process, but also to really sit with it: to reach through the anxiety and discomfort of creating something objectively bad, to listen instead for the things that the work is trying to teach me.

It's a constant challenge, and one that I'm only just starting to get a firm hold on.

Untitled Untitled

So what of this design? Well, this swatch was actually surprisingly easy to execute, and done a pretty long time ago. I was originally planning to have this piece - a lace-edged, striped cowl - be completely reversible, with different stripe combinations on the right and wrong sides of the cowl. The lace edge pattern is almost perfectly reversible by virtue of its construction, and I thought it was a cool element to take advantage of.

And although I still love this idea and might explore it later, I realized after working this swatch that the doubled fabric would not give the piece the lightness and fluidity that I wanted so much - even though it does look cool. It's a prime example of swatching as a rich source of information, as well as the importance of understanding the character of your materials.

And so, with slightly less muttering and cursing under my breath than usual, I swatch on.

For Ariel's take on swatching, take a gander at her post on the subject over here. And stay tuned: we will be posting about this challenge again in a few weeks, and there is the sweet, sweet promise of a giveaway at the end.

Happy Monday, friends... and happy swatching!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pattern Release: Fireweed


The seed for Fireweed was planted on the pages of my sketchbook over a year ago. Fed by color and time, it grew into a leggy little thing: its spine long and slanted, a thicket of lace growing off its edges. I imagine it growing out of the rocks on some nearby shore, throwing its weedy fingers ever upwards towards the sun - a pretty but strong little thing.

A surprisingly fast and simple knit, Fireweed is a playful, striped asymmetrical shawl that showcases the long, beautiful color changes of two contrasting colorways of Spincycle Yarns Dyed In The Wool. I hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I enjoyed designing it!

fireweedFO4 Untitled

The pattern is available for download for $6.00, or you can check out the details on Ravelry on the Fireweed pattern page.
Thank you to my lovely test knitters, who provided invaluable feedback and guidance, as well as some seriously gorgeous FOs. And thanks to you, for all your kind words and support of my work!

Happy Saturday, and happy knitting!

Friday, May 8, 2015

WIP: Blue Flannel

Untitled Untitled

A few months back, I made some socks for Lumberjack. And, much to my surprise and delight, he wore them - a lot! As in, I had to steal them from his sock drawer to wash them, 'a lot.' After a week of near-constant wearing of the poor things, I realized that one pair of hand-knit socks just wasn't gonna cut it for this guy. So I started more, this time in some old stash yarn in a bright, variegated blue. I knew the yarn wasn't quite my color, but he really liked it, so onto the needles it went.

Overall, I've been trying to pare down not just my clothing and yarn (I'm doing a pretty gigantic purge - stay tuned on that front!) but also my works in progress. I've come to the realization that I often knit things out of a sense of obligation or guilt, usually because I've fallen out of love with the yarn, but it feels wasteful to give it away. Too long I've been making myself work with materials that don't give me the sort of joyful textural & color experience that I value so much in my knitting life - and what's worse is that I'm perfectly aware of it, long before I start!

So my goal in the coming months is to focus on projects and materials that I adore, and to let go of the yarn that doesn't make my heart sing, to make space for a more positive, engaged relationship with both my process and the product it creates.

And at the moment, that's socks for my darlin'.

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creating Space, Part 5: Paring Down


It's hit that season again: when the sun comes out and casts light on all the dark corners around your house you've been passing by, thoughtlessly, all winter. When you look at your overflowing closet and the little bits of yarn strewn about the house and the books stacked carelessly on the floor, and you think, dammit, I'm going to put this into order!

Two days of cleaning and sorting later, sitting on the floor of your living room at midnight surrounded by a flurry of bank records and receipts for rat antibiotics and doodles drawn on tiny scraps of paper, you start to think that maybe this won't be so simple after all.

You think of the box of ten-year-old cards and school papers in the attic. You think of the garage full of camping gear and electronics. Then you look around at the mess you're embroiled in, and you start to have a mini panic attack at the center of this little volcano of your own making, the detritus of your silly, irresponsible life strewn around you like confetti.

But you forge on, that night and the ones that follow. It's not a pretty kind of forging on, either: the corners of your house, newly lit and dusted, become piled with boxes of papers to shred, bags of old shoes to go to Goodwill. The pack rat in you has a near-constant temper tantrum as you discard books you'll never read, clothes that never fit right, gift yarn that doesn't suit your coloring. (You feed it donuts with sprinkles to make it shut up.)

And at the end of each day, the house still looks like crap - but there begins to emerge a pattern of order and brightness, too: small pockets of color and space, where your newly unencumbered belongings can stretch out their legs and breathe a little.

And each night, you think of that cheerful and almost infuriatingly useful book with less resentment and more gratitude, and you plan another trip to Half Price Books, and you let it be okay that it's not done yet.

Because the journey is part of the experience... or some shit like that.

Happy Wednesday, friends! (Guess what I'm doing tonight?)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Design Notebook: Pink & Sparkles & Everything Girly


Yesterday, in between teaching gigs, I wandered into my friendly neighborhood big box craft store and got majorly inspired by all the sparkles. I've already written a bit about my conflicting feelings about stereotypically girly things, but thanks to some really interesting articles on the systemic devaluing of activities, objects, and people marked as feminine by culture, I've been reexamining those feelings. (A huge thank you to Sasa, who was kind enough to share those resources with me.)

So, in the past month, I've been trying to explore and embrace those more feminine aspects of my identity, by taking an open-hearted and clear-headed look at things that give my heart joy - no matter how girly or silly they might be. That, combined with an effort to let go of the paralyzing fear and perfectionism that often plague my creative work, has been a huge but extremely rewarding challenge.

So yesterday, on a complete whim, I got sparkly pom-poms, a grosgrain bow, glitter tulle, and pastel embroidery floss, and I'm making an epic, fluffy, sparkly pink and turquoise bow for my head. Who knows why? Not me!

But in the end, it's part of the process I'm discovering: the honoring of small things, the wonder of finding bright paths previously unconsidered.

Happy Friday, friends.