I’m always surprised when people compliment me on putting together cool outfits. Thank you very much for the compliments friends, they are appreciated, but I feel, undeserved. I’ve loved fashion since I was 10 or 11. My dad bought me Teen magazine for a long road trip, and I devoured it cover to cover multiple times on the road, and promptly subscribed when I got home so I would never miss another issue. I still love fashion magazines, subscribe to way more than I should, and read them regularly.
However, I don’t consider myself a very fashion-y sort of person. The only times I go shopping are with my dear friend C, which is more to spend time with her than because I’m really dying to go shopping, or when I absolutely need something. I’m not particularly trendy either, and am not one of those people who keeps catalogs of outfits. My main problem is time, and honestly, I am much more interested in the process of creating clothes than I am in being known for how I dress.
I tend to think of my clothes as a blank canvas to show off my knitwear. The two most important things to me are fit and practicality. Of course I like to look good, but I also need to be comfortable because I’m constantly working, and during the school year, running around for the kids. I thought I’d share are the building blocks I use, which of course, are there just to show off the stuff I’m truly proud of…aka, my handmade pieces! :)
I have a drawer filled with basic crew- or V-neck long-sleeved tshirts. I buy them cheap at Target, but I would advise trying them on at different stores to figure out which store makes a cut that you find flattering on yourself, and then buying them in multiple colors. I color-coordinate them with scarves, cowls, and shawls, or I wear a neutral color underneath my alpaca poncho in the winter.
I don’t think you can ever have too many tank tops or short-sleeve tshirts. You can layer them under cardigans or wear them alone with jeans or shorts and of course, whatever handmade accessories you feel like showing off. I also wear tank tops under looser knit sweaters, as I feel a tank top gives a cleaner look than something with sleeves. Black, white and gray are the musts – other than that, it’s open season on your favorite colors! I buy my favorites at Victoria’s Secret, but again, look around and find the ones you feel best flatter you.
Shoes. Oh, where to start?! Aside from my knitwear, there is nothing else I love more. In the summer, I live in sandals and flipflops because they are so versatile. Unless you’re going black tie, you can wear a nice dress and scarf, and sandals, and still look dressy enough to go out for an evening, but still wear them all day and be comfortable. For the cooler weather, you can’t beat comfortable boots. I wear the high ones over leggings, or with skirts, and the shorter ones with everything else. One caveat about boots – I advise trying them on before buying. I buy alot of things online just to save time, but my favorite, and longest-lasting, pairs of boots are the ones I took the time to try on and buy in-store. Unfortunately, boots are not something you can “cheat” – if they don’t fit perfectly, you’ll never wear them.
And last, but definitely not least, jeans and leggings! Aside from the hot months, when I’m forced to swap my jeans for shorts and dresses, I rarely wear anything else. I buy good-quality black leggings at WhiteHouseBlackMarket, and I buy my jeans wherever I can find a pair that I feel truly flatters me. Jeans are the other item I advise trying on. There are so many different cuts, and the only thing that really matters is how you feel and look when you put them on. I don’t pay attention to the size, as I am happy to wear a larger size than normal if I feel a pair flatters me. I also don’t care about brand. I do care about price, so I am not a proponent of the $250 dollar pair of jeans, but other than that, it’s all about fit and color. I like a good dark wash, but switch it up with white and colored pairs. The basics are your favorite blue wash, black, and white, but from there, it’s all about personal preference.
If you have favorite ways of showing off your crochet and knit pieces, please share! I’m always open to trying something new!
Sharing Louet North America’s Facebook post from this morning. I have not heard of this lady before, but am interested, as I believe very much in honoring the work and showing respect to people who pioneered the way for those of us to come!
“It is with a heavy heart that Louet North America announces the passing of our founder and creative director, Trudy Van Stralen. Trudy battled a Rheumatological condition for over 10 years which had slowly been deteriorating until mid-June, when she quickly became too weak to battle any further.
Trudy developed a reputation in the hand dyeing community in the mid 70′s, when she began dyeing with nature’s palette (natural dyes), creating wonderful color ranges of wool fleece, mohair fiber and yarn. She sold her handspun yarns and dyed fibers from her small shop, Hilltop Wools, in the same location that Louet North America now calls home. Trudy is the author of one of the most comprehensive Natural Dye books: Indigo, Madder, Marigold, a book that is still used today as a textbook for schools and a bible for dyeing by many new dyers. In addition to her written work, Trudy taught dyeing throughout North America in the 1990’s.
Trudy’s passion for fiber arts began when she learned to knit at a young age during the post-WWII years in Holland; in the 1970’s she taught herself to spin and weave (in addition to dyeing wool and yarn). Trudy created woven garments and was a frequent contributor to Handwoven and Spin-Off Magazines in the early 1980’s. In the late 90’s, Trudy began creating hand knitted garments and patterns, returning to her roots growing up in Holland. Trudy often joked that she knit in “Dutch”. Until 2009, Trudy continued developing knitting patterns with her team of knitters and designers and also designed new yarns for Louet North America.
Trudy’s legacy continues under the direction of her son, David Van Stralen; Louet North America will continue to develop new patterns, yarns and products for the knitting, spinning, weaving and dyeing communities guided by the foundation that Trudy so carefully created during her many years in the fiber arts industry.”
I had a special little designer moment last week, as you can see. As of July 1, I am officially a proud member of TNNA, and it feels like I reached a great milestone.
For those of you not familiar with this organization, TNNA was created to provide professional help to businesses in the yarn industry, as well as to create awareness. It provides data and statistics and hosts tradeshows, but also helps the industry create passion and interest from the public through programs such as Stitch’N’Pitch. However, TNNA is not open to the public, and since it is an organization for professionals, it requires some work to join. There are different categories for the different professionals in the business – retail, yarn companies, designers, teachers, etc. Of course, I joined as a designer, and to do so required me to obtain letters of recommendation from the yarn companies I’ve worked with. The point of these letters is to show that I am indeed working as a designer and contributing to the industry. I also had to submit a few of my published patterns.
From the day I started working at my local shop, I was naturally inclined to want to contribute because I felt privileged to be working there! It was the easiest interview I’ve ever been on, and to be quite honest, given that I was inexperienced and hadn’t been knitting all that long when I started, I was actually a little shocked at the time that I got hired. There are lots of people who work at yarn shops, of course, but in general, we’re a rare breed of retail. As a designer, my heart and soul are in my work, and whenever I publish a design, I’m hoping it is something that will inspire and excite. Inspiring patterns are part of what help keep shops up and running, as they help people focus on buying yarn that will get used for something they’re excited to make. Inspiring patterns are also what make people want to keep creating and working with yarn, and to keep learning.
I am incredibly privileged to be part of this industry, and being able to join TNNA as a professional designer is a proud moment for me. My thanks to everyone who supports me, and thanks for celebrating this little moment with me!
I love the story behind this site, as collecting knitwear ideas from random sources is something I’ve constantly done on my own. I love that there is a site to go to where it’s all in one place! These two friends also happen to be knitwear designers, and so their site is nicely curated to include helpful information as well as inspiration. Enjoy!
I’ve been going through a burnout of sorts. All creative people deal with block at some point or another. I’ve found that mine usually happens when I’m especially stressed or worried about something, which has been the case for a few months now. Apparently, it has caught up to me. The good thing is I’ve found that it usually does pass, and there are things to do to help manage it and reinvigorate.
My first solution is usually to take a break, which I did the other day. I took my kids to the beach and had a lovely day with them and my family away from family. There is something about watching and listening to the waves roll in that always clears my head. My absolute favorite thing about living in LA is being near both the ocean and the mountains. I was so happy to see that my favorite beach (Zuma in Malibu) got great grades! This site has a long list of cities, so if you need a break, perhaps you will find something equally helpful on this site!
This is a great list that I think applies very well to maintaining creativity. My usual second solution to feeling burned out is to give myself some time to read or draw, visit museums, or otherwise soak in some new inspiration and reestablish routines. I relate to most of what is on this list, and would recommend these ideas to any creative person.
And of course, there’s no better way to relieve stress than to just keep doing what you love, which in my case is to knit and crochet. I finished a bag as a gift for a friend (photos to come soon), and I realized I’ve never learned how to line a knitted item with fabric. I’ll be referring back to this Craftsy blog post as soon as I’ve had a chance to go pick out some fabric.
Have a lovely weekend friends!
Once you start knitting and crocheting, it doesn’t take long to build up a stash, both of yarn you haven’t started using yet, and scraps left over from finished projects. I tune it out for awhile, and then, when the mood hits and I find just the right project, I tackle it. Last week, I was in just such a mood, and found my perfect stashbusting project in Kristin Nicholas’ book. I wanted a project that would use up what I have around but also had a simple stitch pattern I could just power through. She says you can take years to knit up this project, and you can, but I was hoping to have it done by summer’s end, so I can have a cleared out yarn closet.
I’m enjoying this project so much, I may crochet another stashbuster and finally make myself the Wooleater, which has been sitting in my Ravelry queue for a long time. Both of these projects are especially good for stashbusting, because you don’t need specific amounts of any one color. You cann lay out all the yarn you’d like to use up, organize it by how you like the colors together, and get started.
What have you done to destash? Please share your favorites with me!
I realized the other day, as I was cleaning and putting things away around the house, that I have been saving up things I want to learn. I bought a few books that I haven’t worked through yet, and some supplies I haven’t touched yet. I decided to make a list of techniques and projects I want to work on this summer, and to start working on them, one by one.
- Sew a quilt. Ever since I first saw Kaffe Fassett’s work, then met him, then devoured his books, I have wanted to try quilting. I don’t need to make a masterpiece, but I do want to learn how to do it and to use the fabric I picked out way back when.
- Brioche. I’ve seen various magazines feature amazing work using this technique, but I have yet to learn how to do it and experiment with it. This is one of those techniques I have an unread book for, so I plan to work through the book and at least knit a few swatches so I can get the feel of it.
- Entrelac. Again, have the book, just haven’t cracked it open yet. Because I love to play with color, I have high hopes that both brioche and entrelac will benefit me as a designer.
- Yoke sweater. I really love the look of these sweaters, but have never made one. They are such a traditional piece of knitwear, and yet still look so modern. The tradition of knitting and crochet is one of my favorite things to read about, so I think it’s time I celebrated that by learning how to construct a traditional yoke.
- More Tunisian crochet. I finished my first Tunisian project last summer, but this is still something I would like to explore further. I’ve seen people do beautiful things with it, and I’d very much like to expand my familiarity with it.
- Knitting and crocheting with beads. This, for whatever reason, has been a technique that has eluded me. A few years ago, when my mom got remarried, I wanted to make her a beautiful Lily Chin beaded shawl. The crochet hook I had been using to try to pull the beads through the stitches was too big, and the whole thing became such a headache, I scrapped it and just bought her a present. (I know, that’s the chicken way out, but time constraints did me in.) I learned the most important thing, however, which is that you MUST have the right tools. You must also be willing to spend some money because beads aren’t cheap, and unless you’re only using a few as accents, you need alot. However, I am ready to try it again, and hopefully this time, I will at least end up with a completed swatch or two.
Tell me, what are your summer projects and plans?