I hope you enjoy many new blessings this year. No doubt, you’ve come up with a few resolutions. I’ve come up with a few myself.
Near the top of the list is “no more unfinished projects”. I can’t even begin to count the number of unfinished projects I have growing in my craft stash. I can’t help it – I see a new yarn, a new stitch, and my fingers are itching to begin a new project.
The internet is a wonderful network of information. But to the craft primary mind it is a rabbit hole of wonder. Star stitch? Yes, please. Intarsia knit? I would like to try that. Pantone says the color for 2018 is purples? Let me get out my dyes and experiment. What goes with purples? Lavenders and lace stitches. How easily I can get lost.
But not this year. This year I strive to stay on task. Oh, I still plan to get lost in my craft – but I plan to schedule lost time in. I’ll start by setting a timer and search over my internet favorite pastime of Pinterest, and drool over every colorful and stitch-y pin. The hard part will be stopping when the timer goes off. But I can plan right?
Almost every knitter I know loves the Fall chill. Crunchy leaves, bit of a nip in the air, and something fun and woolly to wear. I’m a self-described hard-core knitter. If I have a spare minute (and even when I don’t) I have needles in hand, a little yarn bag on my arm, and the needles are clicking! While I’m standing waiting for the bus, boarding the bus, riding on the bus, etc.
For me, knit out in public day is every day. And FYI, it is a great conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many interesting people I’ve met over my knitting. People of all ages, and believe it or not young children are absolutely mesmerized by watching someone knit. I’ve even let random people knit a stitch or two just so they could experience the absolute joy of knitting.
In an age where everything is public scrolling on smartphones it’s becoming obvious that people want to be tactile. They crave hands-on creativity. If I have the tools in my hands and someone wants to knit a stitch or two, I am absolutely happy to help.
Welcome to the dark side. (Channeling my inner Darth)
Right now, I am absolutely cranking out the scarves – the more the merrier. I have big plans for the scarves – more on that later. Believe it or not, I have a Red Heart and Caron stash that is absolutely blush-worthy. I know, I have a yarn problem. Luckily, as a knitter, I also hold the solution on a pair of size 9’s.
After the first four garter stitch scarves, I decided to change it up a bit. It does get a little boring knitting a row, turning the work, knit a row, turn the work. So one day I stopped turning the work. Why turn the work when you can purl back the way you came?
The first couple of lefty passes were a bit of a challenge but it’s starting to become second nature. I hope to work on some left handed knitting techniques for more stitches but for now I’m content to practice this new-to-me method.
Now for the pattern. Knit and be happy!
Yarn: approximately 250 yards of worsted weight – get creative with your stash. A single color is good but mix your colors. Experiment with color combinations!
Needles: one pair of size 9
Crochet hook or yarn needle to weave in ends.
Using long tail method, cast on 28 stitches.
Knit every row until scarf measures 40 inches.
Bind off. Weave in ends.
It’s a quick make so you have time to get a few done for Holiday gift giving.
Need a quick and easy crochet project? How about a heart or two for Valentines? Use up your stash yarn on this cute pattern. Make up a dozen and create a ‘hearty’ bouquet (I’m hanging my head as I pun).
I love creating! New yarns, new fabrics, new designs – if it’s makeable without requiring a whole manufacturing plant on stand-by then I probably want to try it; at least once.
I’ve been enjoying new color dyes and new (to me) methods of hand painting. Twisting, turning, and coiling the fiber prior to dyeing is way more fun than I thought it would be. Initially, I wanted to experiment with more organic and less structured but I’m finding that waiting for the ‘big reveal’ is as much fun as waiting for Christmas morning present exchange. (I’m just a big kid when it comes to anticipation participation)
New items in the store!
I’ve begun adding new items to the store in addition to new yarn colorways and handspuns. Occasionally I take a quick break from yarn making and look for other creative projects. My latest extracurricular project is designing fabric and sewing up yarn totes. I’m absolutely hooked! You can expect more project yarn totes and more designs in the future.
Chances are you’re probably in that holiday craft twilight time – the mad dash to get all those projects finished that you have in mind for your handmade gifting this season. I feel your pain, I have a list myself. I am also fortunate in that I get to knit and crochet as a source of income – so that’s a lot of time spent with my hands and wrists in repetitive motion which could lead to repetitive stress injury or RSI. Even without the worry of RSI’s, working long hours on knit or crochet projects can make for some pretty sore and tired hands, aching shoulders and a complaining spine.
So what can you do to reduce pain and fatigue while you craft?
Use proper body mechanics
I know I’ve spent some time on my nice comfy couch with feet propped up and needles in hand, in front of my favorite show only to be terribly disappointed when I can’t move without pain just 30 minutes later. How is it I can spend hours in my craft room and barely tolerate the comfort of my red cushy leather couch? It all boils down to proper body mechanics.
Keeping your spine in proper alignment will help reduce pain and fatigue. Your grandmother was right – sit up straight. We all have three natural curves in our spine: the cervical (neck), the thoracic (upper back) and the lumbar (lower back). Proper alignment of the spine means keeping these natural curves lifted, not collapsed or held. Picture your spine as a gentle S curve, with each vertebrae stacked gently on top of each other. When you sit, you should feel your ears balanced over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips and your spine lifted. If you have a chair with a lumbar support, make sure it is in the proper position and uncross those legs! Crossing your legs while you are seated will cause the spine to twist in an unnatural position which will lead to an aching back and shoulders. Speaking of legs, make sure your chair is at the proper height for you. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle – no dangling feet and no knees pointing up. When seated, you should be able to have both feet comfortably on the ground while maintaining that 90 degree angle. I personally don’t use a chair with a back. My favorite crafting chair so far is a padded storage stool. It’s the right height, it’s comfy and it serves a purpose (it holds my spinning fiber). I make it a point to sit up into proper spine alignment while I work but when I notice I’m starting to slouch I move on to the next point.
Take frequent breaks
It’s important to take frequent breaks. If you notice yourself slouching or your shoulders are starting to squeeze in on your neck then it’s time to move around. Get up, do a few squats, or a few lunges. Gently stretch your fingers back, give yourself a mini hand massage, lift your hands up to the sky and stretch out your spine. Do anything that will gently stretch those muscles and joints and get the blood moving.
I save my dusting and vacuuming for some of my “break” times. And fortunately with two large breed dogs that like to shed a lot, it’s a daily break time opportunity.
De-stress your workspace
The quickest way to sit in a hunched or stiff position is to have a stressful workspace. Try not to have too many projects out at once, especially if you’re planning on them all going out the door at once! This is a visual cue of a pile of work that needs to be done. Pull out one project at a time, work on it for a while then put it away before pulling out your next work in progress. This will keep your workspace de-cluttered and will help you remain calm. Stress? What stress, I’m almost finished with this and I see nothing else that needs to be done right now. That’s my yarn zen mantra – it’s a little simplistic but it works.
I hope you get to enjoy your crafting as much as I enjoy mine.
Disclaimer: I am not a physician and can not diagnose or treat any condition. The advice given here is my personal opinion for my situation. If you are having difficulty, please consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
As a crafter you are also part fashionista so it helps to keep up on the latest trends. We have some amazing colors and textures coming up for the Fall/Winter 2016 season.
New hand dyed colors for the shop!
Some colors to keep your eye on:
Colors for the Fall/Winter season range anywhere from the traditional deep pumpkin and mulled wine to soft prism kissed pinks, purples and blues. And the yarns are just as wonderful. Soft worsted and woolens, shiny silks and fingering, beaded lace weights – it’s all beautiful.
I just finished dyeing up two new colorways for the store and of course it had to be Poe inspired – my little nod to the Halloween season.
Annabel Lee is a beautiful wool and tussah silk blend, hand dyed in soft shades of silver that blend into cool blue and purple before transitioning into a soft pink. Edgar is 100% polwarth in shades of rose, purple, and steel grey handpainted on a creamy background. Both are wonderfully soft and ready for your needles.
Accessories as always will run the gamut from hat to fingerless gloves. The wonderful thing about accessory patterns it that they are usually quick so it is possible to punch out at 5 on a Friday and have a neat new hat or cowl by 8 AM come Monday morning. The other thing that’s great about accessories is that you can splurge on a slightly more expensive yarn – always a fun thing to do.
There are so many things I enjoy about knitting – the patterns, the shapes, the history, the yarn, the community. And it never gets boring which is a huge bonus for me. I know it seems like I get bored for the amount of WIPS I currently have but the truth is I get so excited when a new yarn or a new pattern crosses my sights that I have to stop what I’m doing and cast on right that second. I do cycle back around to those less sparkly projects….eventually.
Right now I’m enjoying a Craftsy class (Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton) and you know what that means – more projects! And with any luck, more patterns for my shop. Right now I’m midway through a simple lace design scarf project. Ebb & Flow is knitting up in a nice rustic wool yarn in burnt orange. It’s going to be perfect for the autumn.
As I’m taking the course I can’t help but look through my handspun yarns. The worsted weights are nice but I’m still trying to decide how to incorporate some negative space in future knit pieces. There’s so many stitches, so many yarns and just plain not enough hours in the day. But that doesn’t stop me from absolutely filling as many minutes as I can with yarn. And you know what? I’m never bored. 🙂
This year I finally joined the Spinzilla event as a rogue spinner. For those that don’t know, it’s an annual global event to see how much yarn you can spin in one week. I thought about it in previous years but never did it – always with the excuse “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll wait until I’m good enough”. But then I read one of those meme’s: if you wait until you’re enough, you will never get started. So, with that thought in mind I signed up. I’m so glad I did.
I had set a goal of spinning a mile, I fell short at 1720 yards but I learned so much and the spinning exercise was worth it. The first thing I learned? I did not prepare nearly enough rolags for spinning. What seems like a mountain of fluffy, prepared wool is deceptive. The mountain disappeared quickly. But this did lead me to my second challenge: respinning my first ever spinning attempt into something nice.
The respinning adventure! To be honest, if I hadn’t stopped to do the respin I would have been able to meet my goal but then I wouldn’t be looking at a nice hank of burgundy BFL right now. Priorities? My first attempt was terrible! I gripped the fiber too tightly, my rhythm on the wheel was akin to Steve Martin’s in The Jerk and the result was a ferocious row of evil caterpillars. I left it hanging in my craft room as a reminder of how spinning should not look. But midway through Spinzilla I decided to see if I could save that beautifully dyed fiber.
Saving the BFL
As difficult as my first spin was, unspinning it proved to be just as difficult. At first I tried to unspin it on the wheel – I don’t recommend it. The poorly spun fiber was already unfriendly and it definitely did not like being twisted in the opposite direction running along the flyer hooks. Then I decided to use the drop spindle – much better. All I really had to do was let the spindle hang in mid-air and let gravity do its work. It was time consuming but after a few hours, I had all 180 yards unspun and waiting to be fluffed, drafted and respun. I did save a bit of that first attempt though – it’s always good to have a visual reference for progress.
My surprise of the week was the ‘crazy’ skein. I took all the odd bits from the previous plied skeins and put them all together. I love the end result, in fact it’s probably my favorite skein from the week. The mix of colors has me rethinking the way I plan out my colors for future yarns. I plan to play around with some more ‘crazy’ skein ideas.
The week was a huge success for me, not because I think I’m a great spinner….yet, but because I gave myself the opportunity to experiment and to grow as a spinner. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you challenge yourself – true for spinning, true for every day life.
The ‘crazy’ skein <3
If you’d like to see what Spinzilla is all about, please visit www.spinzilla.org. Fair warning though: once you get the spinning bug, it’s hard to get rid of (but really, why would you want to?).
The only thing better than surrounding yourself with yarn is surrounding yourself with yarn you’ve dyed and spun.
The Holiday season will soon be upon us so it’s a good idea to start your craft projects soon. Chances are you’re the crafty type who enjoys making a heartfelt gift for the special people in your life. And if you’re not particularly crafty then you probably either know someone who is or have local crafty people that operate a small business. Where you spend your money matters. If you are crafty, why not buy your yarns from your local yarn store or a local dyer and spinner (if not local, consider someone in your home state). Or if you make your own yarn, consider buying your spinning supplies from the market down the street. I know, why highlight what would seem to be the competition? Because small businesses matter and in the spirit of small business camaraderie I’ve spent some time searching online for local businesses (by state) you should consider patronizing for your holiday shopping needs. (NOTE: None of the businesses listed paid for advertising – I used a search engine and included the sites that appear to be in business at this time. I’ve also included notes for any business I have personally shopped).
I have spent the entire previous week doing my version of Spring cleaning. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve gone through and made things spotless! My version of the big spring clean is to clean out the old dull tired looking kitchen towels, pot holders, placemats, etc. Time to bring some of those bright spring colors in! (As I’m writing this, we are once again getting hit with another winter storm here in the north eastern US – I’m muttering “lovely” with as much sarcasm as I can muster)
The v-ribbed pot holder and the red and orange placemat were patterns I found in Vintage Crochet for your Home book by Coats & Clark. Again, you can’t go wrong with the classics, or is it vintage? Either way, I love it!
Now that my kitchen is a little brighter, the rest of the rooms seem a little dull. I’m now looking through the yarn stash and thumbing through my stack of pattern books and thinking about the possibilities that this week will bring. That’s one of the true gifts of crafting – we really can make our little bits of the world as bright as we need it to be.