Even though this is the week during the year we are supposed to focus on being grateful, I have to admit I haven’t particularly felt grateful this week. Both of my kids have had stomach flu, so I’ve pretty much spent the week helping them recover from that. There are other things this week stressing me out as well, and let’s be honest, life is full of stuff that just does not generate grateful, happy thoughts. Today, while we are all home recovering, I happened to be catching up on some of my yarn-y reading, aka Vogue Knitting, Interweave, etc., and came across a number of inspiring, charitable knitters and organizations that craft for people in need. Reading about these people who are going through way worse things than I ever have, and the kindness of those who are working to help them, made me feel much more grateful. My life is indeed good, even if a particular week is not. In celebration of Thanksgiving, and of cultivating gratitude year-round, here’s a list of people and/or companies who are doing good in the world. I hope you enjoy browsing this list and feel grateful and inspired to help also! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
- Debbie Macomber and World Vision’s Knit for Kids is perhaps the most well-known, but worthy of support nonetheless. Debbie seems like the patron saint of charitable knitters, and if you haven’t read her books, you should definitely relax a few hours after your turkey and enjoy one!
- More than 50% of the employees at Skeino are challenged. This is a group of people who are often overlooked, and Skeino aims to give them a place in society and a way to make a living. And they’re doing a good job – the Arabella Shawl is gorgeous!
- This generous soul gives free patterns and information on knitting chemo hats.
- Ancient Arts Fibre donates to a cause particularly close to my heart – helping stray animals. I have two rescue cats, and as any animal lover knows, for every two you take in and adopt, there are 200 more that still need help. Dog lovers, they donate to help stray dogs too. And I do think it’s just plain cool to dye yarn based on cats and dogs – who doesn’t want a skein of Meow or Woof Yarn?!
- Ten places that need crocheted items.
Here’s a little something you probably don’t know about me. I don’t think I’ve posted anything that would have made anyone guess, but I really LOVE Star Wars. I blame this on my brother. I hadn’t seen the movies or paid much attention to it until he became a fanatic. He begged me for weeks to just watch one movie, and of course, once I did, I binge-watched them all.
I am not as geeked out over it as he is – I never bought and traded thousands of the collector cards like he did, but I did go see the re-releases plus all the new ones in the theaters. And every summer or Christmas break, I get in the mood to have a Star Wars marathon, and enjoy them each time. I think this is one of THE coolest things I’ve ever seen, so I am excited to share it! I have no problem admitting that I am definitely enough of a fan to make and wear this! And any fellow fans should seriously send this person a thank you, because I doubt George Lucas would be giving it away for free! :)
Not too long ago, I posted a holiday gift guide of sorts. Please allow me to respectfully add one more item of my own design to the list. This scarf, which was claimed by my daughter about 5 minutes after I started working on it, is super fast, even though it involves intarsia, and is the perfect gift for a young girl. My daughter is 9, and it is hard to find patterns for kids that age. Most of the books only take kids’ sizes up through 6 or 7, and even stores seem to skip age 9. Style-wise, kids, especially girls, that age are at a difficult stage. They’re done with the Disney princesses, but not quite ready for all the stuff targeted at teenagers.
My daughter went to a birthday party a few months back and came home with a polka-dotted gift bag. The bag sat around our house staring at me for a few weeks before I finally threw it out. But when our shop got a shipment of Zumie, I had a jolt of inspiration. Polka dots and chunky knit seem to fit the bill for 9 year-old girliness crossed with a move toward growing up. You can have your own fun picking out the colors, as I did, or you can ask your little lady what her favorite colors are.
Aside from my new free pattern, I offer one more little goodie. I have, up until now, been posting all my patterns on Ravelry, as it is the only place I’m able to process transactions on patterns for purchase. Other freebies, such as the Doubles Remix cowl have simply been blog posts. I thought it would be helpful for everyone if all my patterns were in one place. Starting with this new pattern, plus all others, you may now visit the newly created Patterns page. For now, all of my for-sale patterns are on the main page, and the free patterns are separated into the dropdown. As I continue to design and add patterns, I will do my best to keep it easy for you to find what you want. For instance, once I add a few more crochet patterns, there will be another dropdown for those. In the meantime, I hope this new page makes it easier to find things. Enjoy browsing my little portfolio of designs, and I hope, enjoy crafting them! Many thanks to all of you who read my blog, make my designs, and support me as a designer! Please share your photos of finished objects on Ravelry with me, because I would love to see!
Back in the summer, my friend and I went to see this exhibit at LACMA. I am in the mood to revisit the museum again, but unfortunately, this exhibit has closed. So I decided to revisit all my photos instead. I have always loved the Expressionism movement, and Wassily Kandinsky has long been a favorite artist of mine. But this exhibit was great because it introduced me to a number of artists in the movement I was not familiar with, and works that I’d never seen. I took as many photos of the exhibit as I could, but here I’m sharing my favorite ten. Enjoy!
And now, three paintings I loved, even though the pastel color palette is a bit surprising, considering how so much of the Expressionism movement was all about bold color.
A week or two ago, I realized as I was sorting through my yarn stash, that I have always been a collector. The object of my collections has changed over the years, but I’ve never lost my tendency to collect. I suspect this is an issue for most knitters and crocheters, as well as craftspeople in general. Our tendency to collect yarns and notions is necessary, at least in part, because our materials and inspirations are central to our work. Just as fine artists need to have their materials and inspirations on hand, so do we. Grocery lists are very cut and dry, but I’ve found shopping for materials to do creative work is different. If you see yarn that speaks to you, you MUST buy it when you see it, and in enough quantity to complete whatever you’re making with it, as you might not be able to match the dye lot later if you run out.
Necessity aside, I realized I do just like to collect. I like having complete series of things, or for instance, as with Lorna’s Laces, I like seeing the collection together. She does such gorgeous colors, I don’t want to miss any. Of course, this is the downside of collecting, and if you’re not careful, you will start feeling like a hoarder, even if your friends are gracious enough not to accuse you of being one. Since this is an issue for most of us creative sorts, I decided to put together a little list of things to consider when it comes to collecting. This list is based on what I’ve learned over the years in trying to manage my collecting tendencies.
Know What’s Special
My first collection started when I was 8 or 9 and became fascinated with stamps. I had a few penpals in different countries. We exchanged letters regularly, and the stamps from their countries fascinated me because they were so different from ours. It started small enough, but when my dad told people in our church what I was doing, the next thing I knew, my bedroom had an avalanche of stamps from kind, well-meaning people who just wanted to encourage a little kid. I started soaking them all off the envelopes and putting them into books. I gave up about 1/10 of the way through however, when I realized I had about 500 of the same, exact, US Flag stamp. And all these stamps didn’t excite me! I didn’t realize what made me quit at the time, but now I do: I didn’t want a collection of stamps. I wanted a collection of UNIQUE stamps that were all different and inspiring! The truth about collecting is that it’s very easy to get a huge collection, but it’s not so easy to build a collection that excites and inspires you every time you look at it.
Curate, Curate, Curate
Knowing what’s special leads to the very important skill of curation. My next phase of collecting was with fashion magazines. Honestly, I still struggle with this one. I love to read them, and I love having some sitting around the house to page through when I need a break or inspiration. However, before I had my kids, I didn’t realize how out of control my habit of keeping all the old issues was until we had to convert my studio/office into a nursery. Let’s just say the 6-foot high piles of fashion magazines had to go, and it was the family joke for a long time. Aside from a few particularly memorable issues, I didn’t miss most of them, and I learned lesson number two about collecting: to have a good collection, you MUST curate! I have put this into full practice when I’m buying yarn. For instance, I really love Lorna’s Laces, and I buy alot of her stuff. However, I do NOT buy everything of hers, even if it’s limited edition. I only buy the colors that I fall completely in love with. Whatever you add to a collection, make sure it is something you really love, and if something no longer excites you, don’t be afraid to eliminate it, even if it “belongs”.
Ask Yourself What You Want
A collection is supposed to be a grouping of items around a theme that you find particularly interesting or inspiring. It is meant to be something you use, and more importantly, enjoy. It should not take more money than you can afford or stress you out. Another of my collections started when I was in high school and got obsessed with a few celebrities. I bought every magazine with their photo (bonus if it was on the front cover!), poster, and any other items I could find. And then I started getting stressed. I was living at home, and really, how many huge posters can a girl put up in her bedroom? It frustrated me to have all these things and then not be able to use them. When I got older and wiser, I realized that I was collecting all these images because I had a fantasy of what the celebrities’ lives were like, and I wasn’t very fulfilled in my own life at the time. If you find that your collection is stressing you out or frustrating you, reevaluate what you’re expecting from it, especially if it’s something that’s taking up alot of space and money.
Don’t Be Afraid to Edit
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to be wasteful, and throwing things away makes me feel wasteful. However, a truly great collection only stays that way if you keep it that way. When something is no longer useful or no longer inspires you, then it no longer belongs in your collection. Don’t be afraid to edit. You can always donate things you don’t want, or if you have friends with similar interests, do some swapping. Most collectors do trading with each other, and this is a great way to avoid feeling wasteful but still keep yourself surrounded only by things that truly inspire. However, as in the case of my magazines, sometimes you really do need to just throw things out. You will be glad you did!
And one last thing: when you are truly passionate about what it is you’re collecting, you don’t need to worry about time. You can build it very slowly and carefully, and will probably enjoy the process much more than say, having an avalanche in your living room overnight! Whatever it is, however long it takes, enjoy the process!
I somehow missed this being published on Business of Fashion, but now that I found it, I wanted to share. If you missed the first installment, feel free to catch up! The whole point of being a designer is getting from the sketchbook to the sales floor to sell the finished piece, and of course, the part in between is the part some of us have always found intimidating. I really appreciate this series and wanted to share it in hope it will be helpful to more than just me! Enjoy.
Over the weekend, I was working on a design and hitting a creative block. After ripping it out for about the tenth time and changing stitch patterns multiple times, I decided it was time to take a break. As I was doing research, I kept coming across all kinds of beautiful yarn bombings. There are the standard cozies on a light pole of course, but I love it when the artists and craftspeople execute a concept so artfully and beautifully and completely that it takes your breath away and kind of makes you not care too much about whether it was actually legal. I hope you will enjoy these!
It doesn’t always have to be yarn!
There’s a piano, and then there’s the Piano Dentelle!
A little something special for Star Wars fans.
MUST SCROLL DOWN. The Helsinki, Finland stairs are worth seeing, but so is everything else you’re scrolling through!
And in honor of my home city Pittsburgh…