Christmas Reading, New Year Reflecting, and Fiber-y Apps

Maybe it’s all the online Christmas shopping I do, but I seem to have been doing alot of browsing online lately and coming across things right and left that I bookmark to go back to later. Usually I share the links I thought were the best of the best, and most of these are, but I have one in particular I am not sure about and I am sharing to solicit your opinions.

For whatever reason, it seems to be hard to find knitting/crocheting apps that seem useful and worth downloading. I came across this link and if any of you have used these apps, please leave me a comment and let me know which one, and whether you loved it, hated it, or what you found it most useful for? If you use apps not on this list, feel free to comment your suggestions too. Many thanks! 🙂

Debbie Macomber posted this on her Facebook page, and it makes me want to curl up and read some holiday-themed books and cuddle with my pets and a cup of hot chocolate.

You can never go wrong surfing around a site celebrating creativity and the creative process, and I am very interested in reading her book, Creative Strength Training.

I will probably save this to work through after Christmas, but every year after Christmas, I love to spend a little time reflecting on the past year and to think ahead to the new year. I’m not as much about setting resolutions as I am about clearing out mental space and just reevaluating what is important and what I want to focus on in the new year. This is a free workbook, and I am looking forward to filling it out and using it to write everything down! Enjoy!

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FO: Gradient Flight

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Nymphalidea (Published in Knitty)

As mentioned in previous posts, I had quite the pile of FO’s to do finishing on. I decided that this was the month for it – no finishing will be following me into the new year. I worked on and off on this shawl for about a year, finished it during the summer, and realized it was high time to get some use out of it.

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Even though its folded, you can still get an idea of the size and color changes
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Laid flat so you can see the size and shape
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It is hard to photograph large shawls

This pattern is so much fun to knit. I used an Apple Tree Knits cake yarn with long, gradient color changes with a gray Sundara yarn as my MC. My version of this shawl is much larger than the original pattern – probably about twice the size. But that is what I love about this pattern – you can just keep knitting until your yarn runs out or until you have your desired size without doing resizing calculations or complicated math.

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I love a good, snuggly shawl that you can wrap yourself in!
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A whole lotta silk and merino to cocoon myself in
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A photo reflecting the designers name choice for her pattern… this pose does sort of make me look butterfly-ish, right?

Gifts of Short Rows

rescue dog and knitting
A rescue dog always makes the knitting look better! 🙂

As previously mentioned, I want to make every pattern in this book. So I decided to start at the beginning, because, why not?

Top view of the short row construction
Side view of hat, showing earflaps, which were also done with short rows after picking up stitches around.
With my fellow model. I need a rescue dog to help a hat look good on me! 🙂
So you can see what it looks like on the head…

The book was my gift to myself, but I made this hat as a gift for a dear friend (who looks so much better in hats than I do!). I don’t make many hats, because I don’t generally wear them, but this one was alot of fun and I’m happy with how it turned out. There is some seaming and some picking up of stitches, but I enjoyed the pattern very much and I am looking forward to continuing my way through the book.

I hear alot of knitters complain about short rows, and if you’re one of them, this book will spell it out for you and dispel your fears of them! They are so much easier than you think, and I love all the shaping tricks and design elements you can add with them.

Firing Up My Creative Urge While Avoiding Finishing

I have a new design, two shawls, a hat, a jacket, and soon to be a cowl and a scarf (both new designs also) sitting on my work table waiting to be finished. I know, I did it to myself. I used to ALWAYS do finishing when I bound off, and I wouldn’t start a new project until the ends were woven in and the piece was washed and blocked. I am not sure how I fell into allowing FO’s to pile up when all that is left to be done is finishing, but here I am.

Anyway, while I have been procrastinating, I have been getting more and more inspired to keep designing and starting new things, and as usual, this happens when I am reading other blogs, browsing Instagram, and going through magazines. So while I hunker down and get my finishing done so I can finally show you photos of all my FO’s, here are a few rabbit holes to jump into just for fun… or to procrastinate. 😉

  1. This makes me want to just start organizing my house in gradients, and I am definitely following her Instagram!
  2. I love the idea of setting a Thanksgiving table with these as decorations – just to mix it up!
  3. This artist does such beautiful imagery in such vibrant colors, especially considering alot of her works are in watercolor, which sometimes tends to be more washed out.
  4. I could just sit and browse these photos exploring color in nature. Such a perfect mix when you are seeking inspiration!

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

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
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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.