It’s Good to Have Goals

When I decided to lease a studio space for the coming new year, I made a commitment to myself to set creative goals. One of those goals is to start designing knitting patterns again.

Although I never had much success selling my patterns or kits, I did have some success in making, showing, and selling my designs and artwork, and in teaching sewing, knitting, and felting classes. At the time, it was my way of trying to build a career for myself in the arts while also staying at home raising our young children.

Life happened while I was busy making other plans. I needed to earn an income – fast – and I started over, building another career in business. I am grateful and I feel fortunate to have been able to support myself and my kids, and wholeheartedly love my work in fair trade. I recognize how lucky I am to be able to earn a living wage while helping others do the same with handmade goods.

One of the boundaries to creating my own knitting patterns is the plethora of patterns out there. If I want to knit something, all I have to do is search for it on Ravelry, and there is usually something that fits the bill. This year, however, I’m not going to do that. My challenge to myself is to sketch what I want to make, take the measurements, swatch, do the math, and knit it (if I still want to make it.)

It doesn’t mean I’m not going to knit other designers’ patterns. I have a whole list of knits I want to make that will last me well into next year, and I’m sure there will be more! But when there is something that I am envisioning, I am challenging myself to create my own pattern for it.

I’m also setting goals to sketch one design per week, and create a pattern draft for one design per month. That doesn’t mean I have to knit it. But I do hope to knit at least four of my own patterns next year. I will also make patterns available for free to people who would like to test knit them for me.

In order to meet these goals, I am dedicating 8 hours each week to studio time: 3 hours on Wednesday evenings, and 5 hours on Sundays. This is a lot on top of a 40 hour work week, family time, Haven Herbs time (5-10 hours per week), gym time (1 hour per week,) hiking, phew! There’s so much I want to do! Luckily I’m one of those people who wakes up at 5AM and is finished with half my work before breakfast!

I also still need to fit in art making time at my studio, as I need to create work for another group show taking place in July 2019. I have old artwork on display in my studio, and another fear I have is of going down the artmaking road more than the design road. So I’ve got to be sure to balance these things if I really want to create my own designs.

Wow, thanks for reading all of that if you are still with me. Here’s your reward, some photos!

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Here’s me being impatient to try on my Carbeth sleeve. I’m ready to start sleeve number 2.

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Here’s my favorite 10 year old being creative with glitter. I love how scientific her approach is to creativity.

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Here’s my Christmas gift to Bob. He’s lived in the US so long, he does not have a passport. If he leaves the country, he can’t return. So I put together a little kit of (almost) everything he needs for his Canadian passport. The only thing I didn’t do is fill out the form for him. We are hoping to travel to Nova Scotia in October to visit his family.

Here’s a Q&A for you, my first! You can answer questions in the comments or post them to your blog. If you post them, please leave a comment so we can go read them!

  1. Do you set New Year’s Goals or Resolutions for yourself?
  2. Do you have any creative goals for the new year?
  3.  Some people like to set a goal for a certain number of things to make for the year. For example: 18 in 18. Do you do this? If so, what is the number? How do you decide the number of things to make?
  4. Do you have blogging goals for the new year? If so, what are they?
  5. What is your favorite thing you’ve made in 2018? Post a pic!

Now I have to answer my own questions.

  1. Yes, I do.
  2.  Yes, I listed them above.
  3.  I did create a number of designs I want to create in the new year. I came up with the number by trying to decide what was realistic, but still challenging, based on the time I am setting aside.
  4. My blogging goal for 2019 is to blog two times per week, although I hope to blog more.
  5. My favorite thing I’ve made in 2018 is my Birds of Blendon Hat!

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Knitting Friends

Nothingbutknit graciously offered to participate in a holiday swap with me. It all started when I wanted to send her some shea butter lotion chips made by local women. The challenge was to send a skein of local yarn.

Here is a photo of the beautiful things she sent me. (Except for the candle which I made with a pottery cup gifted to me and handmade by my stepson.)

Isn’t this red yarn festive and lovely? It’s also soft enough to wear around my neck, so I think I want to knit a “hap” with it. (Props to Kate Davies for reintroducing the word to our vocabulary.) I didn’t know a small shawl or wrap had a name, but sure enough, if you look it up, the third definition is “clothe, cover.”

Here is my favorite “hap”, which was the start of a lace shawl that I cut short because I’d had enough of knitting it many years ago.

I wrap this around my neck once or twice, and it’s the perfect scarf. This is knit from Jagger Spun Zephyr Wool Silk, which has really withstood the test of time.

But back to the red! Aren’t the gold flecks lovely on this Campfire Knits yarn? The hand dyeing really stands out too. This is “Winter Cranberry.” I’ve already cast on a simple eyelet increase triangle scarf, but I’m not sure how I feel about the garter stitch.

And I love these stitch markers which were included in my package, made by her husband. So festive! They make me crave peppermint.

My issue with lace is I prefer for my knitting to be intuitive. I like to memorize the pattern so I’m not constantly referring to the chart or instructions. And because I’m old have short term memory challenges, I need the repeat to be about four rows. So I am looking for a simple, all over lace pattern. I’ll keep looking! Maybe my fabulous red hap will be done in time for Valentine’s Day!

Thank you, nothingbutknit! I’m grateful for your friendship. It is always encouraging knowing someone is reading and paying attention. Thank you for the beautiful things and for being willing to participate in a gift exchange with me. ❤️

Say Yes

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Although November ended on a sad note, I have to say I’ve had a really great year, and December has been the cherry on top.

  • I went back to the gym.
  • I secured a studio space near my house.
  • I sold two of my art pieces.
  • I signed up for two 2019 knitting clubs.
  • Not only did I finish the work budget, but I also pulled together our household budget and got it all entered into Quicken. Yay, financial literacy!

As mentioned, the Blendon Woods I pair of photo and felt painting were sold today. It made me very happy, and I can use the funds to purchase a work table and pair of comfy chairs for my studio space.

At the beginning of 2018, I chose my words for the year. They were, “doing it all.” I worked hard to be promoted to Executive Director at work. I started knitting in earnest again, and even managed a successful design. I made art and participated in an art show. I started a cooperatively owned business with two other women. On top of taking care of kids and being in a relationship with my spouse, that was a lot, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull it off.

I chose to take the same path that I had been taking with my work over the last few years, which led to the success of our new store. That path is, “say yes whenever possible.”

I know saying yes too much and too often can get you into trouble. It’s important to know and respect your limits. I’m not going to pretend this approach didn’t take a bit of a toll. I worked my ass off, and it’s not something that can be sustained forever. But this year, whenever possible, I said yes and reached out and grabbed with both hands whatever opportunities came my way, and it really paid off in a multitude of ways.

candles and knitting at preserve

Here I am at my side hustle, knitting and selling my aromatherapy candles for Haven Herbs! Look how happy I am! I look a little dorky, and I am a little dorky. I can own that and still be happy. Also, check out my great earring game.

My Christmas Cactus is blooming with gratitude as well.

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Decisions, Decisions

I am making progress on Kate Davies’ Goats of Inversnaid hat for Hans. I won’t have any trouble finishing it by Christmas if I stay on task.

I wasn’t sure if the Milarrochy Tweed yarn would work for the crisp design, but I kind of love it. I think it gives a more grown-up look to it. I’m also thinking about changing the hearts at the crown to a star, because Hans is 15. I don’t need to say anymore than that, right?

There are two knitting clubs I want to participate in for 2019, and I can’t make up my mind.

Kate Davies has an upcoming club that looks to be more design oriented, and includes an awesome journal.

Knitspot is offering the School of Wool where you learn about American sheep breeds and fibers, and you get undyed yarn to play with.

I want to do both. I can do both, right? Can I afford to do both? (Can I afford not to do both?)

wovember 2018, Day 26

I’ve noticed Daughter of a Shepherd sharing #wovember2018 posts on Instagram. I didn’t realize it was something anyone could do.

Today I joined in with pics of the oldest wool thing I own: my Mother’s boiled wool coat:

I also have a mohair shawl, cashmere sweater, and tartan scarf and tam of hers:

I believe these are all from around the same period, early 1960’s?

I have worn all of these things from time to time. The boiled wool coat is gorgeous and comes in handy on below zero days, but we don’t get too many of those.

I wore the sweater in the 1980’s when the 1950’s were back in for a bit. We used to have 1950’s dress up days, and I would wear this sweater with a pencil skirt and a black beret, and go as a Beatnik.

Both the coat and sweater are too small for me now. I can wear the coat, but the shoulders are tight.

I think I wore the shawl once when I lived in San Diego in the 1990’s, but the mohair is so itchy, I never liked it. But it is beautiful to look at. You can see how fine and sheer the fiber is woven.

I wore the scarf a lot in high school, and there is red spray paint on it from when we painted the streets my senior year. (Yes, that’s something they used to let you do.)

I can’t find the tam for a photo, but I never wore it as it is very sit atop the head with a big pom on top type of tam. I have often joked that if I learned to play golf, I would wear that tam.

All of these treasures are beginning to look a little shabby, truth be told. I should probably wrap them up carefully in tissue and put them in my cedar-lined drawers.

Are you participating in wovember2018? Do you have any favorite wool heirlooms?

These Long Dark Nights

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My Christmas Cactus is blooming, and I didn’t starve it of light this year. I moved it from the kitchen to my office, and fed it. I so much prefer this to punishing it in the coal chute. (We live in an old house with a basement that has a root cellar, which used to be a coal chute back when people used coal to heat their homes.)

Sometimes I think we do things that aren’t necessary because it was done once and we got the result we wanted, so our proven scientific method becomes the norm and the expert opinion. When, really, we could take a different path and get the same result.

We’ve had our first snowfall today, just a sprinkle. I’m trying to decide if I should go for a walk in it. I would, but I went on a six mile hike on Sunday, and my body is still recovering. I may do some yoga instead.

Look at this gorgeous pattern on Ravelry:

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(Photo copyright Crissy Jarvis. I hope it’s okay for me to post as long as I give credit.)

I’m in love with this pattern. I can’t decide if I want to knit it, though. I love the finished product, but will I enjoy the process? I didn’t used to ask myself these questions, but as a more seasoned knitter, now I know what I am willing to suffer for the final result.  I will think about it.

The days are getting shorter and I get to enjoy more of my favorite time of the day, which is twilight. I love early morning twilight best, because I’m a morning person. I still love the evening twilight, but that’s when I start to get sleepy. I find twilight beautiful and quiet, and I think I blogged about this last year when I started that bobbledy tam in the in-between twilighty color of St. Claire. I decided to rip out the yarn and save it for a cowl that I hope may be inspired by our meandering walk on a mountain biking trail on Sunday.

I wish I were a better Raveler. I love to look at the patterns and like how it helps me stay more organized on projects. It’s also a great place to share. But I’d like to spend more time on the forums. It seems like a great place to go for knitting camaraderie when you don’t feel like leaving home.

Are you on Ravelry? Do you use the forums regularly? What’s your favorite thing about Ravelry?

Taking Myself Seriously

After the bobbledisaster tam, I am reminded I should never follow a pattern blindly. As I was decreasing for the crown, I thought, “It seems too early to be decreasing.” But I carried on, thinking the pattern knew what it was doing.

This happens to me in art, in life, and at work, that moment when I stop and think, “This doesn’t seem right.” There’s a reason for that feeling, and the reason is because I know better.

So from now on, I do solemnly swear to take myself seriously (but not too seriously) and to listen to my inner voice when it graciously sends a red flag my way, and to heed it with caution, calm, and clarity, and to reassess, and reimagine if necessary, the way forward, amen.

On that note, I am taking a studio space starting in January for my fiber arts. I need the literal space and the headspace in order to design and create. This is me taking myself seriously.

That bobbledybabbity tam is going in the bin. Bobbledybin tam.

Edited to add: I’ve decided to rip it out and make a cowl.

Glorious Fall Sunday

Bob and I had a wonderful day today. It started out visiting our kid at the bakery where she works.

Everything is gluten-free and nut-free so we could eat everything! We had a tough time narrowing down our selections, so we didn’t. We each took one bite out of everything.

Then we went for a long hike at Mohican State Park. It was wet and rainy, but we were enjoying the trudge and took a break under a rock ledge.

I love to pore over the carvings in the rock. The oldest (dated) one we found was from 1871.

I brought coffee (an idea I got from stgeorgeknits) and what was left of the blueberry muffin. I may have been stalling a little on the climb up these stairs, too.

All the fall yellows were out in full force.

As you can see, I brought my Birds of Blendon Hat along.

We even got to walk across a covered bridge!

It was a charming day, and I made some progress on my sock while in the car.

And I got a thrill when we arrived back home. Kate Davies left a comment on my Instagram saying my hat was lovely! What a great topper to my day.

How was your Sunday?

Wooly Woods

I made two felt paintings for an upcoming art show. They are based on two Instagram photos I took last winter while walking in one of our local metro parks, Blendon Woods.

Photos:

Felt “paintings”:

Right now I’m in the process of framing them. I like how they turned out, and am planning to do more work like this. I’m also framing the photos to show with them, but as it’s a group show and I’m not sure how much space I’ll have, I’ll have to wait and see about that.

I am also hoping to include my Birds of Blendon hat which I am almost done with! I’ll post when completed (hopefully tomorrow.)

Are you glad it’s Friday? I worked on a budget all day. I’m glad it’s Friday.

Knitting Q&A

You know I can’t resist a Q&A! This one is from nothingbutknit2.

Q. You’re given a magic yarn bag that will supply one skein at a time as needed. You reach inside and pull out a skein. What is this yarn? Be specific or not.

A. Cerulean Wool DK. It’s similar to a yarn I’m working with now. I almost said cashmere, but cashmere is too limp and floppy. I like my yarn to have some body. Also I prefer a local yarn. So maybe Targhee, although I don’t know that much about sheep. And maybe a tweed with some flecks of navy, olive green, and burnt orange.

Q. When you enter a yarn store how do you work the space? Does it vary if it’s your regular store or a new to you store?

A. I will head directly for the worsted. Then I will backtrack and go up and down the rows. If it is a new-to-me store I will stand in a place with a good view of everything for a minute to assess the layout, then do exactly the same.

Q. Have you ever knit or crocheted something that you swore you never would? What was it? Why did you never want to make it and why did you?

A. Yes, big knitting. It was that big knit ruff/cowl. I think that big yarn is absurd and not fun to knit with. But that particular yarn was so scrumptious I really wanted to make something with it. Also, I really wanted to knit something for my favorite then nine-year-old and I didn’t have much time.

Q. What is your next project going to be? Do you have a planned queue or do you make whatever strikes your fancy at the moment?

A. I’m going to cast on for that Carbeth in the red Targhee soon. I also have socks in blue Knitting Goddess yarn that I haven’t started. I was going to make them plain but now I think I’m going to use a pattern from this Hunter Hammersen book that feels like it was created specifically for me:

Knitting and plants and vintage botanical illustrations! I haven’t picked a pattern yet.

I’m also going to knit another Brassica hat out of the same yarn as before, but in green:

I over-edited this photo in Snapseed in an attempt to make you feel as in love with this color as I am.

As you can see, I mostly plan my projects, but sometimes I linger over the planning stage because the fortuitous unexpected will happen, like the Hunter Hammersen book. That’s fun to say! Hunter Hammersen.