Perfect Match

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

Yes this is Asian yarn, although it is Japanese, not Chinese, like the photo that inspired the pairing.

Yes this is Asian yarn, although it is Japanese, not Chinese, like the photo that inspired the pairing.

I just finished a big project for a friend over the weekend, plus a sock. My reward to myself was to go through my yarn, magazines, photos, etc., and find inspiration for a new design. I didn’t have to look very long or hard before I realized that I just posted LA County Fair inspiration a few days ago, and have yarn that relates perfectly to one of my favorite photos from the fair. What better day to begin work on a new design project than Monday!

By the way, if you find yourself in the same position of finishing up projects and not quite sure what to work on next, I highly recommend taking a few hours to pull out your stash, look at photos or magazines, and see if you find yourself making a match you might not have thought of otherwise! Just make sure you are in a relaxed state of mind and give yourself a little time to play. Have fun!


LA County Fair Surprises

Typical SoCal view: mountains, pine trees AND palm trees.

Typical SoCal view: mountains, pine trees AND palm trees.

Whenever a famous designer or artist is interviewed, it seems like the interviewer always asks them where they find their inspiration, and they always say the same thing: “Everywhere!” I went to the LA County Fair last week on a field trip with my son’s class. I am not really a fair person, especially not on a week when Los Angeles was having 105+ degree weather. I don’t particularly enjoy walking around eating junk food in the heat, and I always think of fairs as dirty places with lousy food and rides where the safety is in question. So with that mindset, you will appreciate from these photos my pleasant surprise at finding quite a bit of inspiration! Plus, even when it’s obscenely hot, can you ever really have too many photos of baby animals? I think not!

We walked through the barn so the kids could pet the animals and I could take photos of sheep and baby calves to add to my collection. :)

We walked through the barn so the kids could pet the animals and I could take photos of sheep and baby calves to add to my collection. :)

The Chinese Flower Garden, Pavilion, and Atrium would have been worth the drive to the fair all by themselves. I could have stayed there all day long taking photos. Asian art has always been a fascination of mine. I love the style, the use of color and of course, Westerners have spent lots of time trying to capture the distinct look of it.

Painting of a peony - these flowers are so lush!

Painting of a peony – these flowers are so lush!

I tried to capture the overall view of the atrium when you walk in.

I tried to capture the overall view of the atrium when you walk in.

Another view of the atrium. I love the dragon. Dragons are used alot in Chinese art, and I love the way their artists depict them.

Another view of the atrium. I love the dragon. Dragons are used frequently in Chinese art, and I love the way their artists depict them.

I loved the textures of this engraving.

I loved the textures of this engraving.

This atrium was filled with so much lush color and foliage, artwork, etc, I had to keep taking photos!

This atrium was filled with so much lush color and foliage, artwork, etc, I had to keep taking photos!

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

This 3-week old calf had the most beautiful face I've ever seen. I hope my photo does it justice.

This 3-week old calf had the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. I hope my photo does it justice.

And last, but not least, for all my fellow fiber enthusiasts, yes, just for you, I took a photo of the sheep! I love sheep and alpaca, and if there had been alpaca there, I would have taken photos of them too.

These sheep were friendly - maybe since it was so hot, they were hoping one of us was there to shear them? :)

These sheep were friendly – maybe since it was so hot, they were hoping one of us was there to shear them? :)

Little side note to anyone who is in the LA area – if you are interested in going, the fair closes this weekend, but you will have GREAT weather! Whatever you do and wherever you are, enjoy your weekend!

 


Why We Do

Much has been written about how to answer the common non-crafter question: why do you bother taking all that time to knit or crochet when you can buy a scarf (or whatever it is) for much cheaper at (insert chain store)? The Yarn Harlot always has hilarious answers for these sorts of questions, but I came up with my own list of reasons the other day when I was madly trying to finish a gift for someone and asking myself the same things! Of course, the answer to these sorts of questions is always personal and individual, but if you need a quick comeback for someone, here’s a potential list to pick from.

1. Learning to knit and crochet teaches you not only the skill, but also appreciation for an art form. It’s like taking ballet or music lessons – you never truly appreciate the talent and beauty of the masters until you’ve experienced first hand the effort it takes to get there.

2. There is a huge trend toward artisan and handcrafts, and in my opinion, this is because the general public is sick and tired of the Walmart mentality of “Buy 20 because it’s cheap!” In our hearts, all human beings are individuals, and we appreciate individuality. Knitters and crocheters just have already known for a long time what the rest of the world is starting to figure out! And when you make a gift for someone, you certainly don’t have to worry they’ll receive 10 more of the same.

3. The biggest reason (for me at least) to take the time to make things by hand is because it is the ONLY time to sit down and breathe. I learned right after my dad died very suddenly, and I don’t know how I would have recovered if I hadn’t been able to turn to crocheting and knitting. I couldn’t focus on reading a book, had no interest in anything on TV because I felt like the world didn’t understand my grief, and I couldn’t sleep. When I learned to crochet, I could sit down for an hour or two and have my mind completely focused on what I was doing. I was creatively involved, my hands were busy, and at the end of a project, I had something useful (even if not beautiful, since I was still learning!). Thankfully, I can now remember my dad without feeling all that grief and pain, but crocheting and knitting are still what help me manage stress and those times in life I feel overwhelmed with too much to do. Even half an hour of working on a project makes me feel calmer and more focused.

4. Working with yarn teaches you so much besides just working the hook or needles. When I used to go shopping and buy clothes, I never paid any attention to fiber content. I never knew anything about it, and didn’t realize I needed to know! Now that I’ve learned so much about different fibers, their properties in terms of how they react to heat, water, etc., I’m so much smarter about what clothing I buy! Knitters and crocheters learn all the nuances of their materials hands-on, which is usually the most thorough way to learn anything.

5. And finally, when asked why you bother to craft, there is the old standby question of WHY NOT? If you’re going to sit down and watch TV, why not have a project in hand? Anytime in life you have a chance to learn something new or do something creative, why not?


Pantone on Fashion…and In General

If you haven’t figured it out already, let me just say, I LOVE color. When I was working as a graphic designer, color was always a major part of my work, and as a knitter/crocheter, it still is. Color is probably the first thing I respond to when picking yarn, and I very often find that even sub-consciously, color is at the core of my design work. Of course, I try to pay attention to line, texture, shape, etc., but color is the design element I always seem to have the most immediate and strong instinct about. It follows then, that I really enjoy Pantone. I enjoy their color forecasts, and my husband very kindly bought me this book for my birthday. Twenty years ago, when I was starting out as a designer, the Pantone books were the gold standard of matching colors in the printing industry and Pantone was strictly business. The swatch books were super expensive, but they practically guaranteed that your design would translate well from computer screen to the final printed item. I love how the company still produces useful things for design professionals, but has developed more products for the general public to celebrate color.


Among Cool Jobs

One of the things that keeps me motivated and working at the yarn shop is having random interesting people come into the shop. Last week when I was working, a fellow knitter came in to match yarn samples. Matching yarn to exact shades is no small task, and thus we had plenty of time to exchange pleasantries while he was looking through books. He is in the highly specialized business of doing replications, which I find fascinating. I’m sharing his blog with you all so you can read about his projects for yourselves. Prepare yourselves for a new twist on Dr. Who knitting, and enjoy!


Fiesta Week

Every year at the beginning of September, we have a week of celebration. My birthday and our wedding anniversary is in the same week, and we have a week of randomly eating cake and celebrating life. Here, a few photos I hope you all will enjoy as much as I did being there to take them!

My constant source of inspiration and place to clear my head - and my allergies when needed - THE OCEAN.

My constant source of inspiration and place to clear my head – and my allergies when needed – THE OCEAN.

Another photo of our favorite place in the world taken a few weeks ago during the high surf. I wish my photography skills could do its beauty justice!

Another photo of our favorite place in the world taken a few weeks ago during the high surf. I wish my photography skills could do its beauty justice!

Is there anything better than seafood with an ocean view? I think not!

Is there anything better than seafood with an ocean view? I think not!

Homemade. Well, the guacamole is anyway. :) LA has been having temps over 100 degrees, and nice cold beer and homemade guacamole is a perfect way to celebrate.

Homemade. Well, the guacamole is anyway. :) LA has been having temps over 100 degrees, and nice cold beer and homemade guacamole is a perfect way to celebrate.

I haven't figured out yet which is more inspiring - the ocean or flowers. My husband gave me these for my birthday, and I would love to have some yarn dyed based on the colors in this bouquet!

I haven’t figured out yet which is more inspiring – the ocean or flowers. My husband gave me these for my birthday, and I would love to have some yarn dyed based on the colors in this bouquet!


A Solution to a Common Problem

I LOVE these ideas for what to do with yarn scraps! Most of the time, I throw mine away, but I always hate doing it. It goes back to that whole, I-Hate-being-wasteful thing. Check out a tutorial, save your scraps and share your photos if you like. I’m going to have to find a special spot to start saving my scraps from now on. :)


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