Swants

I’ve been giving very careful thought to my next projects. Inspired by Stephen West, and my recent fun at Stitches with him, I decided to try my hand at swants. Harem-style pants are really fashionable right now, and I realized out of all the garments I’ve made, I’ve never knit any bottoms.

If you are interested in making your own, Stephen gave an excellent tutorial on his blog.

He also, just for fun, did a Youtube video of dancing in them.

There are many reasons to make swants, but the best one I can think of is putting a sweater you’re sick of to different use. There are lots of tutorials for doing it, and I would suggest doing a quick search on Youtube to watch a video if you have a hard time following the blog tutorials.

Yes, I saved the best for last. Steven and Stephen.

The two who can pull off everything, including swants!

So….you all don’t really believe me, do you??? April Fool’s! :)


Colorful Photography and DIY Ideas Are My Fave

As you all know, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration, and I just happened across a blog I thought was particularly full of both! You Are My Fave is full of DIY ideas, fun, colorful photography, and actually, some of my favorite things, such as abstract art. Good things are meant to be shared, so I hope you’ll enjoy browsing it as much as I did!


Grace Coddington

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!


Making Time

The writer of this blog calls it minimalism. I call it making more time for the things you truly love to do. Regardless of label, I seem to be feeling a theme this week in terms of wanting routine, organization and simplification. I thought this site was so soothing to browse, plus I love the ideas in the 30-day challenge and couldn’t resist sharing. The wardrobe and styling ideas are also indepth and worth the read, especially considering that us crafty types spend so much time making special pieces for ourselves. If you’re feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed, perhaps it will speak to you as it did to me.


Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread

My apologies for not posting on my usual schedule. Like everyone, I get a bit swamped by the end of December. I am very grateful for all of you who follow me and take interest in my work. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and I wish you all the best in the new year! Thanks for being here.

Everyone has their special ways of celebrating, so for fun, I wanted to share some of mine.

FOOD

  • Over the weekend, I baked cookies with my kids and a few of their friends. I find that once we get through the last school week before Christmas, I am anxious to simply be at home. But there is no time to lounge, so baking with the kids is a good way to feel more relaxed and festive while still getting something off my to-do list. Our favorites are gingerbread, peanut kisses (peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s kiss in the middle), and the traditional sugar cookie cutouts.
  • My absolute favorite treat, which admittedly is sentimental because it was also my dad’s, is lefse with butter and sugar. It is a Norwegian food, and although we are not Scandinavian, it somehow became a tradition in our family over the holidays. My dad grew up in North Dakota and always talked about eating lefse in the winter and seeing the aurora borealis. Los Angeles is of course much too far south to ever see the northern lights, but I still love my lefse!
  • On the other end of the cuisine spectrum, I usually make our favorite Venezuelan meal. It’s beans and rice, which is simple enough, but the main course is a delicious shredded chicken which is not so simple. It’s not necessarily a holiday meal in Venezuela, but it’s become a holiday tradition for me because most of the time, I don’t spend that many hours preparing a meal.

CELEBRATING

  • For me, the holidays would not be complete without going to church Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. My kids are usually in a program, and we all get dressed up and take family photos.
  • We open our gifts on Christmas morning. All of us make a list of things we want around Thanksgiving time so we have time to shop, but my husband and I also try to be imaginative and have a few things under the tree that the other is not expecting.
  • Of course, the holidays are also not complete without people to celebrate with, so we have dinner and a gift exchange with our dearest friends on Christmas evening.

RELAXATION

  • Between Christmas and New Year’s, we usually behave a bit like hermits. Los Angeles is warm enough we can enjoy being outdoors, so we usually have an evening in our backyard around the firepit. It’s nice to just sit with a drink and periodically throw pine cones on the fire.
  • Of course, I spend time working on a project. At this point (hopefully!) I’m all done with holiday knitting, so it’s a fun time for me to pick something new to work on for myself.
  • This year, we are hoping to go up into the mountains for a day or two. My kids have been begging to see snow, and it’s the perfect time to change our scenery for a few days.

I would love to know, what do you do to celebrate and make the holidays special? Please share your fun with me on here or Facebook, because I’d love to hear!


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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