Fun Studio Updates

I occasionally get in moods where I want to switch up my studio. The truth is, I’m not an overly organized person, and when I’m working, I’m very messy. I have books and yarn and supplies out everywhere, not to mention notebooks and sketchbooks because I take extensive notes about everything I do when I’m writing patterns. It doesn’t bother me when I’m working, but when I stop and look around me, I get the urge to reorganize and clear the decks. I love those magazine photos of artists’ studios in which there are pretty displays of markers and pencils, stacks of neatly folded and color-coordinated fabrics, and shelves of yarn that look as beautiful as a yarn store. A girl can dream, yes?

My problem, which is a problem for many others too, is that I don’t have dedicated studio space. I work in my living room, which must be shared with the whole family. So when I buy things for my “studio”, I have to be mindful that they are fun for me, but still suitable for a living room. If you are looking for some fun little updates, check out this site and do a search for one or all of these terms: yarn, crochet, knitting and have fun choosing. You can thank me later. :)


Crochet Innovation and Tradition

Sorry my posts have been a bit sparse, but I am finally getting recuperated and back to work. Many of you have asked me to recommend crochet artists and designers. I just read about this guy in Vogue Knitting, and I hope you’ll agree with me that his work was worth the search! He does tapestry crochet and truly turns it into art. I have never done tapestry crochet, but after seeing Diego’s work, I am inspired to learn. I hope those of you who have been searching for something innovative with crochet will find your inspiration here. Of course, the best innovation often happens with a new twist on an old tradition, which is the case with this work. Enjoy!


Reading Material

Reading-Material

In keeping with flu season, I am sick, and today is the fifth day I have a fever and pretty much have to stay in bed. I know it really is time to rest in bed when I’m too sick to even crochet or knit, as there is usually never a day that goes by I don’t pick up a project to work on. However, no matter how sick I am, I can’t sleep round the clock, so for me, reading is the next best thing. Here is my reading list, all of which is light reading, easily picked up again if you doze off in the middle. Take care of yourselves, and if you’re not sick, I think you will enjoy these anyway! Happy, and I hope, healthy reading!

Tory Burch: In Color – Lots and lots of gorgeous photos and color inspiration. Bonus for sick people – not a whole lot of reading, but beautiful browsing!

The Gentle Art of Domesticity – One of my absolute favorite books ever! Read a chapter, read it cover to cover, or again, just browse all the beautiful photography! The best word I can think of to describe this book is “soothing”.

The Knitter’s Life List – This book could also be interesting for crocheters – alot of the ideas about exploring the world of fiber apply to crochet as well. When you’re out of commission in bed, this book will help you dream up new projects to start when you are back on your feet.

Pom Pom Quarterly – I have my boss to thank for introducing me to this lovely little British publication. It covers knitting, crocheting, as well as a variety of related interests, and is a magazine I always look forward to receiving and reading from cover to cover.

 


California Inspiration

Mountain sunset - taken while we were stuck in loads of traffic.

Mountain sunset – taken while we were stuck in loads of traffic.

I am back at work on new designs, and I realized as I was flipping through my sketchbook, how much inspiration I’ve been taking from where I live. This is certainly nothing new to artists, but many of the big name fashion designers talk about taking expensive, exotic “inspiration trips” before they work on their next collection.  I don’t believe in waiting for vacation to find inspiration, as I think it is everywhere if you look for it. And in my opinion, one of the best skills you can develop creatively is to find inspiration in your daily life and surroundings, not just when you’re travelling. If you have this skill, then you can pursue your creative passions even if you don’t have the means to travel.

I have loved life in LA practically from the minute I stepped off the plane. That isn’t to say it wasn’t hard relocating here – I was terrified the first day I woke up in our new apartment and realized I didn’t know a single soul, left behind everyone I might have been able to go to coffee with, and didn’t even know where the local grocery store was. It was hard work to get established in a new place, and almost 8 years later, I still get weary sometimes of being the “new girl”. But I did (and still do!) love the overwhelming sense of having a new world to explore. So many different cultures, a huge city to explore, all the sights and scenery that are nothing like where I moved from. And when I travel, I am always reminded when I come home of how happy I am to be here.

PalosVerdes

One of my favorite parts of the coastline. I could walk here for hours, I can’t get enough photos of it, and I will probably design multiple things with this as my inspiration!

Snowcaps

Snowcapped mountains on a beautiful 75-degree LA sunny day. Yes, this is taken from inside the car, on the freeway, as we were driving. Hard to believe it was probably only 20 degrees if you were actually standing on that mountain!

Southern California is quite a dichotomy – my favorite things are the mountains and the ocean. I realized as we were driving home the other day what a special thing it is to be able to take my kids up into the mountains to experience winter and snow, but to also be able to leave all the slush and 10 layers of clothing behind and come back to the balmy 70 degrees in Burbank to work. The day this photo was taken, it was about 75 degrees in the San Fernando Valley, and yet, there are beautiful snowcapped mountains visible from the freeway.

As for food, of course a huge city like LA has practically anything you could dream up. We have always loved alot of ethnic food, so that is not particularly new to us. But one of my favorite discoveries here has been fish tacos. I’m sure other places have them, so I don’t know why they weren’t on my radar before, but for whatever reason, they are one of my favorite LA foods.

Then there are the things that are just backwards compared to everywhere else. If you ever move to LA, don’t get rid of your umbrellas! Yes, it’s true that rain is scarce, but umbrellas are apparently multi-functional. We use them to shield ourselves from the sun when we attend our children’s softball games or other such events. I showed up to my daughter’s first softball game, and the other moms sitting there seemed shocked I didn’t bring my umbrella. But of course!

I have a design in the works based on this photo. The kelp forests are unique to CA, and I want to get my scuba license this year so I can see them in person. I have seen them from an underwater boat - they are like shimmering towers of waving leaves.

I have a design in the works based on this photo. The kelp forests are unique to CA, and I want to get my scuba license this year so I can see them in person. I have seen them from an underwater boat – they are like shimmering towers of waving leaves.

I hope you enjoy seeing my inspirations. If you have moments of feeling uninspired, take a day off to explore where you live. Keep a camera and a sketchbook with you, and consider what makes your surroundings unique. What is your favorite food, what are your favorite plants or animals, or your favorite spot to be outdoors? Usually if you take a moment to look more closely, you will notice things and your inspiration will revive itself.


Wild Fibers

There is a good reason besides the obvious why those of us who work in the yarn industry take great pride in our work. If you craft with natural fibers, there is no faking the process. You can’t mass-produce animals or fleece. It is one of those few processes left in the world that is still heavily tied to tradition and custom – in the best possible way. I have always enjoyed reading Piecework, which does an excellent job of researching and presenting traditional techniques. But I just found this magazine, which I am adding to my Christmas wish list. Aside from the fact I can now live vicariously through these world travellers, I think it’s wonderful to get firsthand knowledge of where the animals are raised, as well as the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the people who raise them.


The Finishing Touches

Whenever I knit or crochet a gift for someone, I always find myself finishing the project with barely a moment to spare. And then comes the question of how to actually gift it. Do you just write out the care instructions with a Sharpie and tape it to the front of the package? Do you just tell the person you made it and how to take care of it and then hope they remember so all your hardwork doesn’t get felted the first time they wash it? It has always seemed to me that given the time and work that goes into handcrafting an item, it deserves a beautiful presentation. This artist/printmaker seems to have thought so too. In the last minute hustle/bustle of the season, I hope this will help save you time in figuring out how to present your gifts!


Marsala

Did you know there is a wine called marsala? My husband and I love a glass of wine with our dinner (the European in us?), and every time we shop to replenish our cabinet, we usually buy a few bottles we’ve never tried before. But despite the huge variety we’ve tried, I had never heard of marsala until this morning, when my Facebook told me Pantone has announced their 2015 Color of the Year. Of course I had to immediately read about it because I like knowing these things and I’m always curious to see why they chose a particular color. After reading their description of marsala, I am certainly going to be on the lookout for a bottle to try with our next homecooked meal.

Be sure to scroll down to see all of Pantone’s ideas for gorgeous color pairing. While not necessarily helpful for figuring out what to eat with your bottle of wine, they will certainly spark ideas of how to pair up yarn colors! I’m very excited about this color in terms of crafting because I think it is much more flattering to wear than 2014’s Radiant Orchid is.


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