Creation Hive Knitters

This week I’ve been at Creation Hive looking at products and talking product development. Today we talked woolens, and as I had suspected, they are accomplished knitters!

Jane, middle, and Jacqueline, right, picked up my Bousta Beanie in Milarrochy Tweed and carried on where I left off. Jane then cast on her own hat using locally produced wool yarn. They don’t have circular needles here, but we’ve found a source for them.

I have great faith in these ladies developing a line of Fair Trade woolens in Kenyan merino wool yarn! It will support their textile economy as well. It’s a great solution and I’m thrilled to have played my little part in it. I can’t wait to see their creations and to bring them to the US through Global Gifts!

Kenya Day 3: Hell’s Gate

Today we biked through Hell’s Gate National Park.

It was a stunner of a day. We saw zebras, warthogs, water buffalo, eland, impala, Kirk’s Dik-Dik (ok I had to look some of these up.) It was really spectacular.

After that we hired a boat to take us out on Lake Naivasha. If you look carefully at the little lumps in the water, they are hippos.

Most of the birds we saw we’re Cormorants but we also saw pelicans, herons, duck, and vultures! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vulture before.

On the way to Nakuru we stopped at a spinners and weavers workshop. There were some beautiful wool and cotton rugs and throws, but the looms were empty and I didn’t want to take any pictures because artisans prefer you not photograph (and copy) their designs. Fair enough!

I have been knitting away on what I hope will be a sample hat for our artisan partners. We’ll stop at the woolworks tomorrow to pick up more yarn. It is merino and super soft!

Black Friday Quiz

Karen at nothingbutknit2 posted a Black Friday quiz. You know I can’t resist a quiz.

1. Do you shop the sales on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and/or Cyber Monday? What is your favorite way to shop?

I do not shop on Black Friday. I’m not someone who looks for deals. I prefer to shop my values, which means paying a fair price for a quality item. I like the idea of shopping the day after Thanksgiving with family and friends to enjoy the season, but I’ve learned it is not enjoyable on that day. I may try to do a little shopping on Small Business Saturday to support our local businesses, although I try to do that year round. I do shop online but if it is related to a deal like Cyber Monday it is an afterthought so any discount is a bonus. My favorite way to shop is at our local small businesses. I enjoy browsing as long as it isn’t overly busy with people.

2. Have you started your gift shopping/crafting?

Yes, we are nearly done with our shopping as our children are mostly grown and we are still helping some of them get on their feet financially. We are also saving to buy a home. So this year we’re only filling stockings. My Christmas gift crafting is modest this year and I have started but not finished.

3. Are you one of those people who has all your gifts wrapped and ready to go early? Are you a last minute shopper and final moments crafter?

I am someone who has most of it done early. I am still looking for those final special items up to the last minute, though. I’m a thoughtful gifter and I like to take my time with it.

4. Do you have a tale from shopping trips past that you wish to share?

One year when we were terribly poor, I followed the conventional wisdom that I needed to go out and get items at a discount early on Black Friday. I needed to get coats and a couple of special toys for my (then little) boys. I was out at the crack of dawn and waited in line for hours to pay. It was a horrible experience and I realized the deals weren’t any better than on a regular shopping day. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday since then, except once when I nearly had an altercation in a mall parking lot over a parking space. Another reason to just say no to Black Friday.

I’m not a Black Friday hater, though. People should shop the way they like, although I saw this image on Instagram today and want to share it here.

I don’t want to act like I’ve got it all figured out. Shopping is something I struggle with as it is a way I nurture myself. You can see the problem there. So I am working toward saving more and spending less and being happy with the experience of shopping without necessarily buying something. This is tough when you work in retail! When I shop for myself I like to buy used when I can, and for new items I try to buy fair trade and/or handmade.

At work this weekend we have a coupon going out, but mainly we’re focusing on rounding up to help our artisan partners in Kenya buy a new kiln. We have a Small Business Saturday promotion with a tote bag giveaway in stores, and we’ll offer a Cyber Monday discount via email. This is a way to have some fun and reward our best customers. We’ll ask for donations for Giving Tuesday. As a small nonprofit, and as a fair trade organization, we can’t afford to offer deep discounts. Anyway, most of those deep discounts out there are just a discount off a steep markup. We don’t do that.

Before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the Today Show highlighted alpaca blend throws originally $350 going for $79 for Black Friday. At our store, alpaca blend throws are always around $79, often less.

So shop small this season, my friends. Shop fair trade if you can. Go to your local craft shows. Check out your local small businesses. If you have a small budget, make it count with a few good items.

I know when kids are little they have big expectations at Christmas time. I’m not suggesting you should make decisions that interfere with their happiness. I’m not sure where Legos are made, but I know there is probably a small mountain of Legos in a landfill somewhere because of us. No judgments.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

I’m still working on the doing better part!

The Just Craft Episode 1

I did it! The first episode of my podcast The Just Craft is available here:

https://thejustcraft.com/2019/11/11/the-just-craft-episode-1-wovember-welcome/

It’s a little rough, but I learned a lot! I am really thankful to Deborah Niemann for talking with me today.

My son Hans is making a logo for me. I still need to learn how to publish it via iTunes and Google Play, etc.

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, either there or here. Or just cheer me on! That’s welcome, too! 🙂

When My Worlds Collide

One of our vendors recently traveled to Puno, Peru to visit the artisans they work with, and they shared these videos.

I love the way the artisans carry the yarn around their neck, and how quickly they knit!

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On the home front, my Boost Your Knitting book arrived. I’m so glad they put everything in a book at the end of the club, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to complete all the lessons!

Happy Mother’s Day!

As you can see from this photo, I didn’t finish Cricket Hitofude in time to wear it for our ribbon cutting with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hobsett.

However, today is Mother’s Day, and I plan to sit on the couch all day and knit. I might not finish it today, either, but surely I will finish it in the next few days.

I wish all you Mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day, and all the rest of you a lovely Sunday.

Tea and Books, and a Swatch

I’ve noticed knitting blogs also have a tendency to run toward tea and books, so I thought I would share my new favorite tea.

I have been drinking Level Ground coffee for a couple of years, but this is the first time I’ve tried their black tea. It was on sale at work so I stocked up. It’s delicious!

I was worried about drinking black tea on top of coffee, but I notice I sleep better when I drink black tea. Bob says it’s the Theanine. I remember my ADHD psych telling me that if I’m not sleeping well, I’m probably undercaffeinated. I thought that was hogwash, but now I’m starting to wonder.

I am looking through stitch dictionaries to help me with my designs. Believe it or not I also owned the Vogue Knitting ones in addition to these -Interweave and Walker. I donated the Vogues to a knitting group for a potluck swap. The recipient was very happy. I got an Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches, so I was also pleased.

I do sometimes read non-knitting books, but not as much as I’d like. Right now I’m listening to Leviathan Wakes on Bob’s recommendation. Pam mentioned fandoms and I decided if I was going to have a “thing” I wanted to share it with Bob. So we’re trying to make The Expanse our thing and we’ve started watching the show. I’m a little disappointed with the show because I don’t feel it represents the diversity and social justice issues as well as the book, though I should probably give it more than two episodes.

I’m starting to wonder if we should make Godzilla our thing like Skeinherder. Honestly, I’m pretty sure horror is our thing.

I spent all of my knitting time yesterday working on this swatch in the round. I did a fair amount of improvising. I’m not 100% pleased but it’s a start.

If you have a holiday today, enjoy! If not, Happy Monday. 🙃

One and Not Done, and Lofty Thoughts on Fiber and the Environment

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First off, sleeve one is done. It took much longer than expected, and I knit like a woman obsessed while watching one after the other of Christmas horror movies (A Christmas Horror Story, Krampus, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – not a Christmas horror movie, but horrific in its own way, and you can only tolerate so much schlock in one sitting, after all. Although I would consider all of these movies dark comedies.)

I want to credit Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns for helping me through the armhole shapings. I should really know how to do this by now, as I have sewn clothing and drafted my own patterns, but it has been a while, and this is for my son and not myself, and I felt nervous about it, and this is why next year my word for the year is going to be “exercise.” This includes physical exercise, but also exercising my design muscles with monthly challenges. I look forward to blogging about it.

Talking to Henry about the environment has me thinking about how sheep farming and the wool trade effects the climate. While I am not vegan – I am not even vegetarian – I believe factory farming is unethical – so bad for animals, people, and the environment – and I think small, family farming is the way of the future, and we should eat much less meat than we do. I would be happy giving up all animal food products, but I will never give up my knitting wool. There, I said it. I do try to source my yarn ethically, although the supply chain can be deep, so sometimes you don’t really know. I am looking at you, Berroco Chunky Alpaca. My guess is that alpaca farming is pretty ethical, though. In general, I find small yarn companies to be very transparent, which makes it much easier. Knitters have always cared about the sheep, and I think yarn companies know that and make sustainability part of their ethos.

How sustainable is wool? As a fiber, it is very sustainable – long wearing, biodegradable. And as far as land use, wool animals (sheep, goats, alpacas) can graze on land that is not suitable for farming, so that’s okay too. Yay, wool!

Of course, we have so much plastic that now it is being recycled into fiber for clothing. Think about that. Plastic clothing that will never get dirty and never wear out, like The Man in the White Suit. Would that be better for the climate? I guess it depends on how it is processed. And what happens to the animals, who now rely on humans for their survival? So, no thank you to plastic for my part. Plus, I like my clothing to breathe.

If you are still with me, thank you for reading. I needed to get these thoughts out of my head before I start my very busy work week.

Here’s my question for you, dear reader. Do you see those stripes on Harald’s sweater? Those lovely stripes that say, “Hi. I am a handknit garment of fair trade wool yarn that is hand kettle dyed by women in Uruguay, which is why I went a little stripey here. Don’t mind me.” Should I vat dye this sweater and try to mottle those stripes out a little bit? This is totally within my power. Let me know what you think. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Say Yes

carbeth shoes

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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