A Few of My Favorite Things

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

I love it when people give you something that has special meaning, but can be incorporated into your daily living. Apparently, I’ve been knitting and crocheting just long enough to have developed a reputation with my family and friends. Lately, come every birthday or holiday, a new crafty-related item appears somewhere in our house. These are my top three favorites – deserving of their priority because I use them ALL the time.

First is my Namaste Poppins bag. This was meant to be my master project bag, I swear. But it’s turned into the handbag I carry everywhere, all the time, and just happen to throw projects and notions into when I need to transport them with me. I can’t count the number of compliments I’ve received on this bag, and take it from me, raspberry is the new black. Somehow, magically, this bag just goes with everything! For those of you who may not like the fact it’s $89, let me wish you the best of luck in finding a Dooney & Bourke bag for anywhere near that cost!

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

I will be so heartbroken if anything happens to this mug! It was a very thoughtful gift from my husband a few Christmas’s ago, and the only days I’m not drinking my morning coffee out of it are the days it’s sitting in the sink waiting to be washed. He gave it to me right around the time it became apparent that knitting was not a passing hobby, and our house would be keeping a yarn stash on a permanent basis.

Look closely!

Look closely!

The most recent yarn-y related gift – earrings for my birthday. These earrings have received so many compliments, and I wear them all the time. I like them better than studs, but they’re small and tasteful enough they go with everything, and if I fall asleep in them, they’re not bothering me all night long. My husband said they weren’t expensive, but they are precious to me because I thought it was such a thoughtful gift.

If you have favorite craft-related items you use in your daily life, I would love to see.


Crafty Bombings

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!

If you’re going to yarn bomb a tree, do it right!

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


Gifts to Make

I like to do a little holiday crafting for my closest loved ones. I learned the hard way to be selective so I don’t overwhelm myself and turn something that should be fun and loving into added holiday stress. I’ve moved away from seeing how many gifts I can crank out toward picking one or two stunning projects to give to the most special people in my life. But however you like to plan out your gifting, a word to the wise: START NOW!

Aside from the giving, the most fun part (in my opinion) is figuring out what to make! So for all of you who support me and read my blog, here is my little holiday gift to you! A list of the coolest patterns I’ve been bookmarking all year! I hope you enjoy browsing the list, and if you make any of these, please share your photos of the finished pieces because I would love to see!

  1. Being the art lover that I am, and Op Art being one of my favorite movements, this blanket speaks to me even though I don’t currently have anyone to make a baby blanket for! But I’m thinking it could also be a pretty awesome throw. Check out the pattern on Ravelry to see what other people came up with in color combos!
  2. This sweater is something a teenager with a forward fashion sense would enjoy. Big prints and images on sweaters and sweatshirts are very popular, so if you are looking for something for the hard-to-please teen category, this is definitely NOT grandma’s knitting!
  3. A classic go-to gift, fingerless mitts with a twist!
  4. Socks are so much work, but such a lovely gift for someone truly dear to you who is worth all the knitting time! For an extra-special pair for your extra-special someone, I recommend anything from Ravelry’s Tour De Sock, but I especially love Fields of Flowers.
  5. Technically, Minion things would be listed as children’s gifts, but I know plenty of adults who would enjoy having these too. Crocheted items usually work up quickly, so if you need a gift in a hurry, or a fun gag gift for a white elephant party, Minions are a fun option.
  6. I’ve never done Tunisian entrelac, so I have no idea how complicated (or not) this project would be, but it is so fantastic, I had to include it! Plus, I would love to learn how to do this, so I consider it a gift to myself AND the person who gets the FO. However, just given the size, I would recommend starting this gift this year in preparation for gifting next year.
  7. A tote is always useful! I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have a use for this bag!
  8. Shawls are always a lovely gift, and this designer has a beautiful variety.
  9. And last, but not least, the classic holiday gift: a scarf. But not just any scarf – why do boring rib when you could explore the magic of illusion knitting?

I hope you enjoy the ideas I found. I tried to link to the original source of each pattern, but if you would like to see color ideas or projects other people have completed, these can all be looked up on Ravelry. Happy holiday gifting!


I Love Yarn Day

Closeup of the Bubbles

Closeup of the Bubbles

In honor of I Love Yarn Day (which is everyday in my house, by the way), here are some photos of my most recent yarn love affair. The pattern is Kieran Foley’s Camino Bubbles, done in Lang Yarns‘ Jawoll Magic. I hope you all have a great weekend, filled with your favorite things, including yarn!

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley


My Favorite Knitwear Artists

Nothing gives me more excitement than finding a new designer to follow. Or learning about a well-established designer that I hadn’t heard of before! The best designers are the ones who constantly pursue creativity, and their dedication shows. They’re the ones you watch with anticipation to see what they will release next. Here is my personal list of favorites, but I would LOVE it if you share yours with me! I’m always on the lookout for someone else to follow. Enjoy!

IrinaShabayeva

Irina Shabayeva

Irina Shabayeva is a fashion designer whom most people probably know from Project Runway. She is a great fashion designer, but I love it when the fashion world takes a few minutes to appreciate the knitwear world. Knitters may remember her patterns being published in Vogue Knitting – her fabulous welted coat has been on my list to make for a very long time! The photo above is one of my first-ever knitting projects, made as a gift for a dear friend.

I have not yet knitted up a Galina Carroll design, but I think she is also an incredible artist with a good eye for fashion. When her autobiographical book was featured in Vogue Knitting, I ordered it and devoured it from cover to cover. She even wrote a very nice personal note to me when she shipped it.

Stephanie Steinhaus

Stephanie Steinhaus

Yes, this is my boss. However, she is also a designer who has an eye for things that will pop into your wardrobe and go with everything. I’ve knit alot of of her designs, and they always end up being go-to pieces that I end up throwing on at the last minute when I don’t know what else to wear. Plus, I have learned a great deal about writing patterns from her personally, but also just from working through her pattern instructions. I also appreciate her ability to create something practical with yarns that I might not even consider buying otherwise, such as this poncho I’m wearing above.

Lori Versaci

Lori Versaci

She caught my eye when this sweater pattern was published in Knitty. At the time this was published, I was just learning to knit, and this pattern seemed totally out of my league. It sat in my queue for a LONG time, but her design stayed in my head, and after I started feeling more confident, I knitted it. It is a complicated pattern, and I was very proud of myself when I finished it!

No list from a color fanatic like me would be complete without Kaffe Fassett! I did not realize until I started reading his biography that he is a local artist! He now lives in England, and it seems everyone thinks of him as English, but he was born and raised in California. He is a very long-established artist, but his knitwear in older books is still very striking and inspirational color-wise, even though many of the sweater silhouettes are now out of fashion. He is truly a master of color, as well as all different media. If there is one person in the universe who could make me want to abandon knitting and take up quilting, it would be him!

I’m very grateful to the friend who introduced me to Kieran Foley. I just finished knitting one of his designs for a friend’s birthday. She is celebrating a milestone birthday, so I wanted to do something extra special for her, and his Camino Bubbles fit the bill. It takes a special skill as a designer to design a pattern that looks way more sophisticated and complicated than it actually is to knit.

Stephen West

Stephen West

What can I say about Stephen West except that I love him! His patterns are some of the best written out there – very clear and easy to follow. I met him and had him sign books for me at an event our shop held a few years ago. He was extremely polite and so nice. And I am always amazed when he releases new patterns how creative he gets with just simple Stockinette and garter stitch. He is a designer who truly understands how to take the basic elements of design and turn them into something innovative! Even though I have a good eye for color and usually pick my own, I think it’s very generous of him to take the time to put together color palettes for other knitters when he releases designs. But then again, if you have the chance to meet him, I think you’ll agree it’s not surprising!

Crocheters, lest you think I’ve ignored you, no worries! I am saving my list of favorite crochet designers for a separate post!


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!


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?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers