Releasing and Rewarding Myself

I have finished a number of projects, am in the process of rearranging rooms in my house to accommodate my kids’ needs, as well as my own need for a studio workspace, and have had to be very disciplined to keep myself on track.

Now that I have accomplished my goals, I am releasing myself to start some new projects and find new inspiration. (Always energizing things for me!) When I get turned loose to surf the web, I always find way more things to do than I will ever have time for (we all have this problem when we look at our Ravelry favorites, don’t we?), and my Links to Inspire category was created for this reason.

Of all the cool things I’ve come across, here are my favorites:

  1. I love, love, LOVE a cool stashbusting project! And this one uses 3 strands of yarn at once, which would be really helpful if you have a huge variety of leftovers you thought you’d never be able to find a way to make work together. Just an idea: lay out your colors and pair according to light and dark, or warm and cool. Or you can do it according to color families – reds of varying shades together, blues, etc.
  2. A tried and true way to clear your head – plus, you get to buy a pretty notebook.
  3. A cool DIY project and a beautiful way to enjoy flowers.
  4. I am going to make EVERY pattern in this book. Doesn’t happen too often that I like every pattern in a book, but this one – YES PLEASE! Plus, by the time I make it through the book, I will have tried about every short-row technique there is.

I believe when you work really hard and meet your goals, you should release yourself from obligations for a specified amount of time and reward yourself, which is exactly what I am going to do over the weekend. Enjoy yours too!

via Release

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FO: Honeycomb Baby Blanket

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I am currently working on a series of designs using slip stitches in my own way. But this, my friends, is the project that started my fascination with slipstitching.

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There are the hard ways to do colorwork, and then there are slipstitch patterns that make it look like you’re a knitting rockstar without the bother of stranding, dealing with floats, etc. Gradate your yarn colors to make it even more impressive.

This baby blanket is for my youngest nephew, and I absolutely loved this pattern. The simplicity is cloaked in the awesome results. To be honest, I got very bored halfway through because it is so easy.

Stay tuned for my own slipstitch designs, coming soon. I’m on a roll! And if you want to see what my nephew thought of his gift, check out my Instagram.

via Cloaked

Photo Journal of Summer 2017

at the beach
A typical (and favorite) way to spend a hot summer day!

As promised, here is a visual journey of where I’ve been all summer. It’s alot of photos, but I hope you will enjoy scrolling through them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

hummingbird on a summer day
Look closely!

Summer always starts off with birthdays – both my son’s and my husband’s. We celebrated with a day at the Aquarium of the Pacific and a seafood dinner after. I especially loved the jellyfish (although ONLY when I’m looking at them, not when I’m in the ocean myself!). I think these photos look like paintings. But pinkie swear my friends, these photos are straight off my phone – no filters added!

Moon jellyfish at Aquarium of the Pacific
Moon jellyfish at Aquarium of the Pacific
Aquarium of the Pacific

Every summer includes a weekly trip to the beach for a full day of boogie boarding. The kids and I could live at the beach if we didn’t have to do things like come home and go back to school! I never get tired of Malibu, even when the surf is high and exhausting. These photos are from the same beach, just a few different days.

Zuma Beach seagull
A rat with wings (quote from Finding Nemo, and it’s true!)
boogie boarding
Yes, that’s my son riding a wave in on the board
sunset on the beach
Our parting shot of the day before I reluctantly left
high surf
A huge wave just before the break
huge surf at Zuma beach
Very high surf on this day – sometimes the surf changes throughout the day, but it never did. We got there around noon and at 8 pm, the surf was still huge
paradise cove
Sunset on a high surf day. This photo was taken at a beachfront restaurant and it is so misty because of the water in the air from such high waves crashing in
paradise cove
Same restaurant beach – different view
Malibu
View of Malibu from just before we drove through the canyon. I always love to look at Malibu from high up on the mountain before we drive back through the canyon.

Summer in LA did not have a very peaceful end however. As you probably already saw on the news, we had the largest wildfires in our history, and they were all the way in Burbank. These photos are of what I could see from my street. Thankfully, we have amazing firefighters, and there was minimal loss. To give you an idea of how fast fires start and spread, I am sharing my photos in order from when we all first knew there was a problem in the middle of the afternoon on the first day to what it looked like by that night. It was very frightening to realize how fast a fire can erupt and take over a mountain.

Los Angeles 2017 wildfire
First signs of a fire problem – taken around 5 p.m.
sunset
Sun going down – photo taken around 7 or 7:30 p.m. – you can already see how much smoke and ash is in the air

Burbank Wildfire 2017
The mountains in Burbank on fire – photos taken from my street at around 10 or 11 p.m.

I am amazed at how the entire mountain range where I live appeared to be on fire, and how they were able to contain it and put it out in less than a week. The good news is that once an area burns, it will be a very long time before it catches fire again.

Now that you have seen what was going on the week before my birthday, you can imagine how refreshing and lovely it was to go away to celebrate my birthday. We stayed at a CA Certified Organic Farm and spent most of our week hiking in the Sierra Mountains and in Sequoia National Park. I would try to describe how beautiful the Giant Forest is and how amazing those ancient redwoods are, but as they say, pictures are worth 1000 words. Enjoy!

Three Rivers
View from the farm
Farm donkey
One of the donkeys on the farm trying to get an apple from me. I loved the donkeys! 🙂
Sierra Nevadas
Driving through the majestic Sierra Nevadas – look WAAAYYY down there and you will see the road. Hopefully this gives you an idea of how far up into the mountains we were driving.
Sequoia forest
Celebrating my 40th birthday. 🙂
sequoia forest
Sequoias are so huge it is difficult to get the whole tree in the photo!
Giant Forest
My husband and kids walking through the Giant Forest

giant redwood
A giant redwood
sequoia grove
Even if you’ve never seen a sequoia before, when you enter the forest, it is obvious which trees are the sequoias

While we were up in Sequoia Park, we also took a tour through Crystal Cave. If you ever go, I will just tell you that yes, this is worth the trip, and the LONG hike down!

Sequoia National Park
Rugged terrain on our way to Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave
Inside Crystal Cave – and yes my friends, this photo is exactly what we saw. I don’t use filters on my photos, but this looks like I did! Some things in life are amazing all on their own! 🙂
Crystal Cave
A tunnel in the cave with water running through it. Curious minds would love to know where it goes…but Elizabeth is not the sort to leave a group in a dark cave to go find out…
Russian nesting dolls
Nesting Dolls straight out of Russia. This photo was taken at a local shop in Three Rivers. I have never seen such a huge collection of nesting dolls. She even had dolls that were stamped with the factory and year they were made in the USSR.

I hope you enjoyed this LONG post of photos. I always enjoy reading photo journal sorts of posts and thought it would be a fun way to document the last few months instead of writing. I hope you all had a good summer too and are enjoying the early fall.

I’m Knerdy and I’m 40!

I am very sorry my posts have been so sporadic, but as usual, life is moving way faster than I am capable of documenting.

My birthday was just a little over a week ago, and it was a big one (see title)! We only enter a new decade a max of 10 times or so in our lives, so definitely have to make each one memorable! But there are so many ways to make memories and only one 40th birthday, so our family spent quite a bit of time figuring out which memories to make. We spent a very lovely week staying on a certified organic farm (with donkeys, ducks, a horse, and a rooster) and visited a cave and spent many hours throughout the week hiking in a giant forest. But that all deserves a separate post which will be coming soon, complete with photos which I hope will make you feel as peaceful as I felt being there!

Here’s the thing about being 40 – you’re still young enough to go at the pace your kids are going at, but you’re old enough to have organized your priorities and developed the self-confidence to think for yourself and go after what you want. And what I want is to keep crocheting and knitting, to teach other people, and to keep on developing as a designer (new patterns coming soon!).

Those of you in the LA area may already be familiar with the Knerdy Knitters of the SFV. If not, you may want to check them out – they are a very active knitting guild. I joined their designer group, and am currently working on a book of designs with the other members in the group.

In the spring, I was asked to be on the Knerdy Knitters board. I didn’t realize knitting guilds even have boards. I usually think of boards as a corporate sort of thing, and I am not a corporate sort of woman. I spent 5 years working in a cubicle and less than a year into it, realized that was not the life for me. I have no business degrees, went to art school, and am a free spirit. But this is where my 40 year-old says yes, when my 30 year-old self would’ve lacked the confidence to jump in.

This is my first time being part of a knitting guild, and it has not disappointed. I am really honored to be on the board, and I can’t say enough good things about being surrounded by positive women. I had been part of a free meetup group before, but it all sort of fell apart when we all had different schedules and preferences about where to meet, etc.

For those of you not familiar with guilds, a few key points (based only on my limited experience in this one):
– There is an annual membership fee – ours is $25.
– There are bylaws and minutes (my job as secretary is to record the minutes)
– There are set meeting times and places, and events hosted by the guild are discussed and approved at the monthly business meeting

So far, my experience has been that even though monthly business meetings and bylaws seem more formal than random knitting/crocheting groups, they also keep everyone on the same page and allow the group to continue moving forward and being involved with fiber-related events around the city. For instance, we had a booth at the LA County Fair a few weeks ago. We have an annual holiday party complete with a fashion show and other fun. There are scheduled show and tell times, and it is an outlet for everyone in the group to share and get feedback.

Have you been part of a guild? Feel free to share your favorite and least favorite experiences being part of a guild, as we are always looking to make it better.

In Praise of Solitude

When you’re a parent, especially a homeschooling parent like me, you get constant lectures about making sure your kids have friends and meet “social standards”… whatever that means. I posted about introverts awhile back, after reading Grace Coddington’s memoirs and realizing how much I identified with her when she was talking about her creative process and how she prefers a relaxing night at home to being out at “glamorous” parties. Anna Wintour actually had to pull rank more than once to get her to go to certain parties.

Personally, I’m in favor of taking time to be solitary. This is not the same as being anti-social or unable to participate in society. It is actually something that only strong people are able to do, because it takes being comfortable with yourself and alot of independence to be able to function alone. I want to teach my children to get along with their friends, yes, but I also want to teach them that it is NOT good to get their validation from others, or to be unable to enjoy life unless they are surrounded by people.

I think this concept is especially important for creative types. I need to be solitary every now and then to recharge, to dream, to play creatively, and to maintain my independence and strength. There is a time to collaborate and absorb inspiration from the world around us, and there is a time to be by ourselves to process it and concentrate on our work. In my opinion, people who don’t know how to simply enjoy being by themselves, completely immersed in a creative passion, are missing some of the best moments in life.

As for my kids, here’s an interesting note – as homeschoolers, they are actually exposed to a much larger view of the world than they ever were when they were in private school. They have classes and social things at a variety of places, with a variety of people. They are more solitary in some ways, and in others, their entire world opened up when I started homeschooling them. For me, a very happy by-product of a decision made for other reasons.

I am posting about this because we don’t hear much praise for being solitary. We are pressured to always be “on”, and to force our kids to always be “on” too. Despite the fact that some of the most talented, creative, and successful people are introverts, being one still seems to carry a bad rap. So I am just putting it out there – there is nothing wrong with being an introvert, and if you want to be a happy introvert, don’t be afraid to balance your social side with a little solitude when you need it!

via Solitary

100 Sweaters

In Los Angeles, it’s generally about 100 degrees (at least!) until at least the end of September. Sweater weather doesn’t start until mid-to-end of October, and sometimes later. But, depending how fast you work, now can be the perfect time to start a sweater project because by the time you finish weaving in ends and blocking it, you will be able to actually wear it.

I came across this post with 100 sweaters, and it spoke to the designer in me. But even if you’re not a designer, you will find this helpful if you’re not sure what kind of sweater you’re in the mood to make. You have 100 options here for different silhouettes, sleeve styles and necklines, so you can either choose what you like to help you decide what sort of pattern to buy, or if you’re designing your own, you have helpful visuals to help you decide which combo of necklines, sleeves and stitch patterns would make your perfect sweater. And this will exponentially help narrow down a Ravelry search, which will yield you 115,394 choices if you just type “sweater” into the pattern search.

Have fun, and happy making!

Summer Movies and Books + the Coolest (FREE) Knitting Pattern Ever

Anyone who reads my blog for much length of time knows it’s very hard for me to tear myself away from knitting and/or the beach. But summer is never complete for me without some lazy afternoons spent reading or going to the movies.

I just finished reading a real-life Indiana Jones story, which fascinated me and basically meant I couldn’t carry on with life until I finished the book. Parts of it were very technical, but overall, it was an interesting read and amazing to me that there is somewhere left on earth that is relatively unexplored. However, the author also gives a dose of reality about the risks taken to go trekking through dense jungle, and just so I don’t spoil anything, let’s just say that Indiana Jones remains more fantasy than reality.

Next on my reading list is an art heist true story… if you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts, spoiler-free of course!

On to movies:

I don’t know if there’s an exploration theme going on with me, but I have always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean movies – especially the first one, and the last two. I just took the kids to see the latest last week, and it didn’t disappoint!

But, there is one movie that is at the top of my wish list to see:

A number of people I know are so excited about this movie they went in costume to see it. Not sure I will go in costume, but, if I did, this would be my cape. Seriously the coolest knitting project ever! And this is why I think our community is the best ever – where else do you find such cool stuff for free?! Enjoy!