A very happy weekend to all of you! As promised, a few photos from my previous happy weekend at Stitches West. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy sharing them!
As mentioned previously, I went to Stitches West this past weekend. All weekend long, my friends and I were commenting how fun and relaxing it is to spend time with “our people”, and that is the best description I can think of for how much fun I had over the weekend. It is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to attend a Stitches event, and I thought I’d share my highlights from it, in case any of you wonder whether or not it’s worth the money.
- First, yes, it’s worth the money because it only costs $2o (or less, if you find a coupon) to get into the marketplace for the whole weekend! There are lots of familiar yarn companies, but also lots of indie people to explore. I’ve heard complaints that there are too many big names, but my thought on that is that if you have a particular company you really love, it’s a treat to be able to explore their full line of yarns and colors. Typically, yarn stores pick and choose which bases of yarn to carry, and then colors from within those. If you really want to see the full range, this is the place to do it!
- Yoth (Yarn On the House) seemed to be the most popular booth in the entire place. Every time we passed by, they were selling out entire shelves of yarn, and the next morning, a new stock magically appeared. I had not heard of this company prior to the weekend, so it was a great discovery!
- Being the color fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to see lots of gradient kits on sale in various booths. I don’t know if this is necessarily a trend, but I’m glad to see they’re still popular. Playing around with mixtures of colors is half the fun for me, and to walk past booths with lots of color-coordinated kits hanging on a wall is a visual rush. Neighborhood Fiber Company and Abstract Fiber were my favorite stops for these kits because of their extra-rich, saturated colors.
- As far as designers go, is there any better a pair than Steven Be and Stephen West? “Dynamic Duo” is such a well-suited title for them. In a future post, I will share the photo I took with them, but suffice it to say, they make an entrance and there’s no mistaken identities with them! However, aside from their inclination to dress to be noticed, they have equally fun personalities and are the most pleasant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of asking for autographs. I was very honored they complimented one of my designs, and I will keep the photo forever.
- Apple Tree Knits wins my award for prettiest yarn cakes. I had to revisit their booth a number of times before I could pick which cake of yarn I wanted because the truth is, I wanted them all! It’s on my list to learn how to dye and wind yarn into a cake to look like these!
Most of us can’t afford haute couture, but the skill and attention to detail is something any crafter will appreciate. I can only hope that one day I will have developed an equal skill with knit and crochet. Enjoy!
I am honored for a second year to be designing a pattern for Unwind for LA’s 2015 Yarn Crawl. This is one of my favorite yarn and fiber related events, and it is exciting to be asked to design a piece that is guaranteed to be seen by people from all over. Of course, there are specs to the project – I don’t get to simply choose whatever colors and yarn I feel like. It is up to my boss to decide which yarns she would like to promote during the event, and I have to work a design around the colors and yardage I’m given. Of course, this is the difference between working as a fine artist and working as a designer.
I have to admit that the colors she gave me – purple and yellow – did not speak to me at first. Despite the fact they are complementary colors, I didn’t feel inspired to put them together. When up against creative block, I’m always grateful for all the hardworking fine artists out there, both past and present, who produce work purely from inspiration. As I browsed through books and magazines looking for inspiration, I realized that Piet Mondrian’s colorblocking and other color field artists were the perfect jumping off point. I can’t wait to show you the results, but until then, I hope you enjoy browsing through the art that inspired my latest project!
Over the holidays, I read Grace Coddington’s memoirs. In case you are not familiar with who she is, allow me to give you what you need to know for the purposes of this post: she is Vogue’s creative director, which basically means that much of the imagery you see in Vogue is directly related to her. In her book, she recounts her growing up years in Wales and how she entered the world of fashion, as well as her working relationship with Anna Wintour. I read the book out of curiosity, but I found myself relating to her much more than I expected. She talks in great detail about how she grew up feeling extremely shy, and how, even today, she still struggles to deal with crowds or having to speak in front of people. She says there is nowhere that makes her happier than being at home with her cats and she has no desire to be running to glittery parties and fashion events.
My daughter struggles a great deal with being shy and doesn’t like to be in front of people. Both myself and my husband have always been “backstage people” too. In fact, this seems to be a common trait with lots of creative people. It is unfortunate that most of the time, kids are constantly being told they need to overcome their shyness, and that society seems to expect everyone to want the spotlight. The truth is, everyone is born with their own personality, and while we do have to work on our weaknesses so that we can succeed, we shouldn’t ever be trying to change ourselves into something we’re not. It is OK to be shy, and in my opinion, a good thing to learn to be happy without needing to be in the spotlight.
For this reason, I try very hard to respect my daughter’s feelings. I don’t push her to be the star of school plays or choir, etc., and I try to be careful to not even imply that she should want the solo parts when she’s just simply happier not being on a stage at all. The funny thing is, I’ve never heard a complaint from her about having to stand in front of her class to deliver a book report or similar things, so I am confident that her shy personality is not to her detriment. It is too bad that in general, society seems to condemn quieter personalities, because the truth is, some of us shy people are way stronger than anyone thinks.
I admire Grace Coddington very much for being at the top of her game, but especially for not trying to change herself into someone else while she was getting there. What a great message for all artists and creative people out there! Celebrate your creativity, put in the hard work, and you just never know where you’ll end up – even if you’re painfully shy!
I am currently designing a sweater/coat, meaning it’s a cardigan shape, but I wanted extra ease so I could throw it over jeans and a top like a jacket. It has been a very long, involved project because it involves color charts which I developed completely from scratch based on my inspiration photos. (More on all that later.) As you can imagine, I’m feeling lots of project fatigue at this point
As usual, the sleeves are the last part to be done. Unfortunately, I completed one entire sleeve only to realize upon bindoff that there was no way it would ever fit into the armhole. My efforts to incorporate added ease resulted in it being entirely too large altogether. But since failure is the opportunity to learn, I took the opportunity to evaluate what I missed in my calculations. Happily, I now have a much more promising-looking sleeve in the works. Below are my top three important factors to consider when you’re doing set-in sleeves – whether you’re adjusting an existing pattern or designing your own.
- Sleeve Length – you need to know the measurements from where you want the sleeve to end to where you want it to stop under the arm, as well as all the way to where it will be stitched at the shoulder. Of course, if you’re making a garment, you should swatch anyway, but this is extremely important for sleeves! Also, after you knit the swatch, WASH IT! Let it dry, and recheck your gauge. I made another sweater in which my gauge was consistent and accurate, but when I blocked the sweater, the sleeves ended up way too long because the fabric stretched by several inches.
- Cap Length – This length is calculated on a number of measurements, but it’s vital that you are accurate! (See Shirley Paden’s book to get in-depth information on calculations.) Essentially, the cap is what will extend past the under arm and cover the appropriate section of your upper arm and shoulder. It should be a curved, bell-shape and must fit the armhole of the main body of the sweater.
- Match Bindoffs - For a set-in sleeve to fit perfectly into the armhole, you need to match the armhole bindoffs. This is easily done, as you can simply refer back to what you did at the armhole bindoffs of the front and back of the sweater.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide to making sleeves, but if you are having trouble with set-in sleeves, perhaps a check of these three things will help you sort out your problem. I’m always happy if I can help someone avoid the same mistakes I made!
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.