That Was…A Week.

Darkness: Victoria Schwanke

Phew, that was a week. It has been a roller coaster. Between some really random but good graphic design opportunities popping up here and there to soaking up all the time I can with my close friends who are moving away (or have moved when this post goes up), I have been keeping busy. Sleep…what is sleep? And they say that you only get this extreme sleep depravity during exam weeks…I don’t even have those anymore. Honestly, I got better sleep during my senior thesis project for my BFA last year than I am getting right now. Needless to say, it has been crazy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I spent most of a day taking one of my friend’s engagement photos in a lovely spot out by Lake Superior. I’ve had heart to heart talks with my friends. received some wonderful life-changing news (more on that later), and have never looked back. Life has been go go go, and my fiber crafting has been…well it really hasn’t.

Beach Rocks: Victoria Schwanke

That’s not exactly true. I have worked on my socks that I cast on and am almost done with the ribbing on the first sock. They are afterthought heel socks so the heel isn’t done either, but for my moments of quiet or when I need to destress during my breaks at work, these socks have been my friend. I have also actually knit a few rows on my Splitstone. Besides all of that, I have been absorbing all of the details in the books I got last week, as well as powering through the most recent episodes of the Knit Girllls (they get mentioned around here a lot, don’t they, haha). My spinning wheel has been calling to me, we’ll see if I get there. On top of it all, I baked some yummy bars for a charity event (complete with fancy packaging), have spent more time with my DSLR in manual (gasp!), and have playing around in Adobe Illustrator, just messing around.

It’s a busy hive of activity around here, but I’m working and creating here in the almost Spring weather of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

~Stay Inspired

Book Haul!

Book Haul: Wooly Mastadon

I was a bad, bad girl this past week. I was looking at my book wish list and realized that I didn’t own any books on knitting sweaters. What an oversight! I’ve been trying to get into knitting sweaters and really like the process thus far, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy a few books. Originally I was going to get them with a gift card I had, but ended up buying them from Knit Picks instead because, hello, book sale! I wanted to get free shipping as well so a few (read two) other books just leaped into my cart (seriously, I couldn’t stop them, they wouldn’t let me). On top of it, they had a promo where you could get a set of size 8 Caspian interchangeable needles with the cable for like $7 as a promo (no idea how long it’s going on or if it is only with certain purchases), but I decided to go for that too. You can see where this is going, can’t you. I ended up with four books and a set of needles at the end of the night with no regrets…none.

So here’s what I got. For starters, the non-sweater books. I had been eyeing up Crochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford since it came out. I have followed her blog for a while now (read a few years) and actually went back and read all of the blog posts when I discovered her. Thus, I knew I wanted to get this book. I love her style and the patterns in the book are just so stinkin’ cute. That camera purse is going to be mine, yes it is! I also got Knitted Woodland Creatures by Susie Johns. I have seen this book reviewed in a few places as well as featured in ad spots and just knew I needed to get it. My main reason for buying it: the rabbit pattern looks just like the Velveteen Rabbit from the children’s book, I just have to knit it. There are a lot of unique patterns as well: the mole stands out. They are just perfect.

For the sweater books, I ended up getting Knit to Flatter by Amy Herzog. I have been stalking this book since it came out. I knew I wanted it before all of the reviews started coming out but now I am so happy I purchased it. I have already skimmed it and am reading it cover to cover. I think I may add my review to the never-ending mix soon, but for now let’s just say it is as amazing as I thought it would be. It’s the perfect book to add to my library.

The last book I purchased was a bit of a whim. I had heard a review on it done by the Knit Girllls and realized that I had seen the book elsewhere but it had slipped my mind. It’s No-Sew Knits by Kristen TenDyke. I have only just glanced at it but I know already that it will be a good resource and pattern book. I hope to glean some great info on sweater knitting from this book, not necessarily the basics but just a few techniques I have been curious about. All in all I am excited about this book too.

Overall I am happy with my new books. If anything new books are always a good motivator to get more knitting and crocheting done. So, are you interested in reviews on these books? I think I may share my thoughts on a few of these. Until later.

~Stay Inspired

Random Ramblings: My Knitting Story via Yarn

My Yarn Journey: Wooly Mastadon

When I found the weaving piece I shared with you yesterday, I started thinking about yarn. When I was younger, I thought that yarn was stupid. I thought it was the most useless craft material known to man, and the only yarn I owned was some depressing acrylic from a thrift store that occasionally was used for sock puppet hair. Then, in fifth grade I was introduced to weaving on a cardboard loom. I actually enjoyed it and ended up putting that thrift store yarn to use. I started many of those weavings but never finished as single one. Fast-forward just under two years and my Aunt decided to teach me crochet on one summer vacation. My Aunt, Uncle and Cousin met my family at my Grandmother’s house for a week to visit, swim in the lake (Grandma lives on a small lake) and do chores to help out. For whatever reason, my Aunt was kind and patient enough to teach the snotty child that I was crochet. I don’t even remember why she decided to do it. All I remember is my Mom asking if I’d be interested shortly before we went on vacation and I said sure, not having a clue what would be started that summer. When I arrived a small crochet care package (yes my friends, that was my first knitting bag, and it was my pride and joy…I love Scooby Doo to this day) awaited me along with hand-written instructions and samples all prepared by my loving Aunt. I caught on quickly, much faster than she expected and only got stuck on the crochet chain (my Grandmother ended up showing me how to do her method to create the chain and I was set). By the end of that trip I had created 9 blanket squares which I shortly joined into a small baby blanket. That vacation I hardly ever put the hook down. From then on I created everything I could.

The following summer my Aunt taught me how to make a granny square, and many more projects followed. That Christmas she gave me a big box of yarn, knitting needles, and a how to knit book. I attempted to knit, but struggled to follow the book’s instructions. My Grandmother couldn’t stand watching me strugggle and taught me how to cast-on and the basic knit stitch. After that I never looked back. I learned the Continental method of knitting as opposed to the American method taught in the book, and have knit faster because of it.

All it took was a few days one summer to completely flip my opinion of yarn. Now I have so much yarn that I don’t know what to do with it. It is such a blessing, but I always look back to the days when I thought yarn was the most stupid, useless craft material on the planet. If only I knew what I would get sucked into. If only I knew fiber crafting/art was in my blood.

And I’m not ever going back.

~Stay Inspired

Looking Back: My First Floor Loom Weaving Sample

First Weaving Sample: Wooly Mastadon

I was going through a bunch of my fiber related creations today, especially the weaving samples and surface design samples I had created during my fiber classes in college. I happened to stumble upon this beauty which happens to be my first ever sample of fabric woven on a floor loom, or any real loom for that matter. The most weaving I had ever done before was that fancy method they teach kids in grade school to weave on cardboard, and I’d never actually finished one of those (although I started many).

Seeing this sample brings back good memories. Part of my weaving class involved finishing several samples of different types of weaving on different floor and table looms. I would go the the fiber studio early (normally before 8 am when only the maintenance men were there) and just weave for an hour before I had to go to classes. It was so nice to be able to unwind that way, starting the day with a calm, positive activity. I miss that actually and it has made me consider trying to spin every morning to get that feeling into my day.

But back to weaving. This sample was creating using the overshot technique. My professor just told me how it worked and told me to get some yarn to go with the blue/purple warp. I had no idea what I was doing, but in order to get the correct thickness, I mixed several colors on my bobbin and went to work. Apparently others had not thought of mixing colors and that really took off, but I just kind of intuitively went for it. I didn’t follow any of the patterns but just went for it, making my own sequence and design. When the piece was completed and off the loom, it was completely unique and all mine. Later in the class, I realized that my professor had put me on one of the hardest weaving structures first, while everyone else started on slightly more beginner techniques, and I did just fine. I guess fiber is in my blood and a part of who I am, regardless of whether I embrace it or not. This sample isn’t amazing: the selvages are terrible and there are a few stray wefts, but I love it, and it reminds me that you can tackle a more difficult technique if you put your mind to it.

~Stay Inspired

They’re Back!

Socks: Wooly Mastadon

Oops. It looks like I inadvertently took a week’s break from blogging. I definitely didn’t do this on purpose, but I think it worked out anyway. This week has been a fun one, with a road trip, some design work, and some not-so-fun hours at work. The weather has been great, so lots of outdoor time has been in order. Needless to say, the week got away with me, but trust me, I was knitting.

As you may have noticed, for the past two-ish months I have not knit socks. I hadn’t even started the toe of a sock. I had lost my momentum and figured I’d pick up the pace again when the time was right. Well, I sure went a while without socks, the one thing I was sure I wouldn’t get sucked into, and I am back. I just can’t go without my beloved socks on the needles as a travel project. In fact, travel was what spurred this project. This week I went to a fiber artist’s weaving studio to see her work and learn about her process. I was lucky enough to be invited to go on this trip with a class from my University as an alum, and boy was it fun. But enough on that for now. You want to know about socks.

For the past couple months, the projects I have been bringing with me as travel projects have been hats and dishcloths. Both are basic and easy to travel with, but both get bulky. When I knit dishcloths, I prefer my bamboo needles and I only own those in straights, not circulars. Thus they are slightly more unwieldy to pack. Hats just have more yarn attached, so they take up space. During the winter, I had a little extra in tow when going places so it wasn’t quite as bad (winter gear takes up space people!), but now as spring arrives the bulk has to go. I feel the need to bring a smaller, more compact project with me, one that will keep my attention and take a decent amount of time to finish, but that I can bring with me and not worry about. This is especially essential for day trips and long car rides where I am not driving. Socks, you are no longer on my break list, we are friends again.

So the specs on my current pair of socks on the needles: I am using a skein of Opal yarn in their ever-continuing rain-forest line. The color is #8465 Ecuador Elly and I am knitting these on size 1 needles, magic looping for security of stitches in transport. It hasn’t even felt like I stopped knitting socks. I checked my sock recipe cheat sheet for reference (I keep it on a 3*5 card in my project bag for brain fart moments) and I was on track. Socks just feel right on the needles, the stitches moving smoothly from one needle to another, knitting, knitting, knitting a tube and putting in the heel later. Alas, perhaps I will take another break from sock knitting at some point, but for now I really am loving socks once more.

~Stay Inspired

Blanket Squares, Dishclothes, and A Sweater, Oh My!

Project Progress: Wooly Mastadon

For starters, I almost forgot that Friday was coming, and that today was it. Because of my highly varied work schedule, Mondays feel like Saturdays and Fridays feel like Mondays, but that is for another day. Needless to say, when I realized I had yet to take progress pictures of my work, the lighting was crap and I either had to scrap the whole thing and forget about a Friday post or plow blindly on into the abyss that is known as bad photos. Alas, I decided that a post with slightly interesting photos would be better than no post at all after no Friday post last week, so bear with me. We’re all growing. As for this week, I have had bursts of activity, followed by bursts of nothing. I have had a lot to think about considering where I am right now in my career and life as well as some additions (an offer to a masters program at a University was in the list). Needless to say, it has been a roller coaster. For whatever reason, that roller coaster was all I needed to start up my scrap ‘ghan and Splistone once more. Who knows, strange motivators abound.

Project Progress: Wooly Mastadon

So, perhaps I shouldn’t be so happy, but I have a few FOs to share. I finished yet another dishcloth for starters. These are a bit wonky, but I’m not too worried since they are meant to be workhorses and blocking would be pointless. These have been coming with me to work everyday and I have been able to make decent progress because of it. I have some pink variegated yarn to use next, as my recipient likes pink… a lot. Hopefully these will be nice.

Project Progress: Wooly Mastadon

In the FO list I am also including some scrap ‘ghan squares. Yes, this may be cheating but I’m doing it anyway. I realized I had to put borders on these circles to revert them back to what was supposed to be a hexagon originally. They seem a bit wonky but once they have the weight of a whole afghan behind them all will be well (I hope).

Project Progress: Wooly Mastadon

Finally, I have picked up my Splitstone once more. I was puttting it off because of some waist shaping mods that I knew were coming but once I just decided to dive in really wasn’t nearly as hard as I was building it up to be. I have got around 8 inches done and am happily plodding along. Perhaps some of my motivation came from watching December – January’s Knit Girllls podcasts, since it was sweater city and Project Sweater Chest craziness during those months. Regardless I am happy with how this is working out and am excited to keep going.

I have also been doing a bit of spinning, but not enough to show a progress photo here. Next up on the needles will be a pair of socks because I am anticipating a day trip next week if my time-off request was accepted. We shall see. It’s been a heavy project week around here thanks to some languishing WIPs. How are your projects going? Are you into sweater knitting? What are your favorites?

~Stay Inspired

Almost One Year Out of College: My Wandering Thoughts

One Year Out of College: Wooly Mastadon

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as of late. Part of this is because two weeks ago I signed the paperwork to go full-time at my job at the grocery store. Part of it is because a few of my friends are moving away to make lives of their own, getting married, and beginning families. Some are landing jobs with really neat companies. Others are forging their own paths. I however, am where I started, with a job but not a creative one, at home trying to figure things out. This got me thinking: when you graduate from college, everyone says that when the fall semester rolls around, you will really feel confused, perhaps even depressed, and lost. The thing is, I really didn’t have these feelings, or at least not strong ones when the fall semester arrived. Yes, I was kind of confused and I missed my art family as it had been when I was in school, but honestly, I was pretty distracted trying to figure out what I thought life was. Late fall rolled around and my Mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent immediate and life-threatening surgery. My life was turned upside down and I just didn’t have time to think, especially not about myself and my future. Now however, much of the storm with my family, and with my jobs has cooled down. I don’t have a design job, not even an internship, and I have select few clients for graphic design and photography. I do small things and work with my local community arts center, but other than that I work at a grocery store.

And I have time to think. I have realized that many people get to the point where I am now: a full-time job in retail, some community projects, and a side hobby, and they stay there. They get comfortable. Nothing changes. I am terrified that I will get stuck. Yes, I am thankful for my now full-time job (and health insurance: you know you’re an adult when health insurance makes you happy), and yes I am so glad to have the clients I do and be able to work for the community. I just don’t want to be stuck; I want to be free. Yet, I also realize this: what I thought life was 11 months ago, is not what I thought it was 4 months ago, much less what I thought it was yesterday. I understand I by no means have anything figured out, and I have a long way to go. I know that my feelings will change, that things will be different and that I might find a balance.

I just have to get through the part where I can get comfortable and lazy. Just comfortable enough to stop reaching for my dreams, and lazy enough to not make a change. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth and I truly am thankful for the jobs I have. I just don’t want to be stuck. I am in a creative rut, I don’t have a design schedule, and I don’t have lots of new work to add to a portfolio. I feel all the insecurities I had when I graduated but magnified, because I did not follow what society considers the successful path. I didn’t land a dream job out of college; heck, I didn’t even land a job that could lead to anything in my field out of college. I didn’t decide to take a year and travel. I didn’t decide to take a big risk and start a business. Instead I did what some artists and 20-somethings (and part of society) consider selling out. I got a basic, everyday job, stripped of all glamour, and started working.

The thing is, none of what I did is bad. I got a job, right away. I think I was without some sort of income for at maximum of a month before diving right in. I started this space here (which is my baby and a huge part of my day to day life). I did get some clients, had an internship, and learned a lot. Yes, I live at home, but I am working more closely to pay off my student loans that I would have been able to do in almost any other scenario. I was where, and am where, I needed to be to help my Mother through her battle with cancer and my family as well. Even thought I do not have a lot of free time, I can spend that free time, not worrying about how I am going to afford food, but rather about how and what I can create/design/make next, who I can help next.

Perhaps the path that I am taking, one that is considered a failure in much of what society believes, is really the best for me. Perhaps it is what I need to grow, learn about life, and build a foundation that will help me into the future. Perhaps this is the first step on a long journey to my dream. I don’t have to get stuck, I can use these years as a springboard to grow on my own, in the lovely life that is one of a nobody. I realize, deep down, that the fact that I am having these feelings is a good indicator that I won’t get stuck.

So for now, I think I need to just be. Life is a journey, thanks for listening.

All that because I signed a piece of paper.

~Stay Inspired

New Projects

New Projects: Wooly Mastadon

Friday has come and gone, and you were still left without a blog post. Alas, it has been a wonderful Easter weekend, going into an impromptu additional two days off after the Easter Sunday I requested (the two extra days were not requested, this was just how I got my schedule). My Grandmother came to visit and is staying into Tuesday (yay for bad weather, haha. It forced her to stay an extra day…no one, not even her, regrets this). I have eaten way more candy than I probably have consumed for all of 2015 and perhaps even the Christmas season of 2014. I’ve been keeping busy, taking the photos for my university’s student and alumni fashion show, as well as continuing on some graphic design jobs. I have had some life changing offers, which I felt were not the right fit. I’ve rested, I’ve worked, I’ve been busy. Life is good.

However, I have been knitting up a few small things as of late. Case in point, the dishcloth. I found the pattern for a Double Seed Stitch Washcloth by Laura Doty. Since my Aunt has been requesting dishcloths for some time now, I decided to cast one on. My first one is complete and I am ready to cast on another. Lately, simple projects that can travel have been all I have been wanting to work on. I am burnt out on hats, and this was just something completely different. As for my next sizable projects, I am working on finally adding borders to my scrap ‘ghan motifs so that I can join them together into a blanket eventually. I also need to pick up that Splitstone…it’s making me sound like a broken record, but hopefully it will sink in soon.

All in all, that is the state of things around here. What are you working on?

~Stay Inspired

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

He is Risen! It’s Easter, and in my family, that does include bunnies and lambs and lots of candy and baskets, but more importantly that means celebrating Christ risen from the dead on that Easter many, many years ago. My parents, Grandmother and I (and my pooch as well as my Grandmother’s pooch) are all together to celebrate with a church service (the dogs don’t come for this of course), family time, and a special Easter dinner. Hope that your day is filled with blessings.

~Stay Inspired

P.S. Can you tell I may or may not have one too many sheep stuffies? Alas, they are the best and some of those in the picture are from when I was really little and still called them ‘lambies’. Ah well, perhaps I knew I was going to love fiber arts from an early age.

It’s Finally Done! Rejoice!

Pink Hat: Wooly Mastadon

That hat? The one that stalled my fiber crafting mojo? Yeah, that one; it’s finally done.

Pink Hat: Wooly Mastadon

It took me writing Monday’s post to get my butt in gear and work on it. Who knew all I had left was a half inch of pattern and then the crown decreases. I bit the bullet and finished those yesterday and today I now have a hat for my Mother. Perhaps it is a few weeks overdue (it took me almost three weeks to knit a hat, and that is all that has been on the needles now for a while that I have actively knit on) but it’s done so that is what matters. My new dilemma, what to cast on next. I’m thinking of starting another pair of vanilla socks if I don’t find anything else, but we’ll see. What do you suggest? I need something to slowly nurse my knitting mojo back to life. I’m also feeling the urge to get back to my scrap ‘ghan as well as my sweater in the near future. My wheel is feeling neglected as well. Let’s see how this goes. Do share your ideas for good travel projects as well.

~Stay Inspired