My New Habits (New Year’s Resolutions)

make art every day
My desk with the inspirations for making art every day – do you see a theme? 🙂

Happy new year everyone! I know I’m a bit late to the party, as we are already almost at the end of the month, but as this is my first post in 2018, it seems appropriate.

I had major changes in my life toward the end of 2017, and so as we were heading into the new year, I put alot of thought into what I hope to accomplish in 2018. I am feeling very optimistic (which wasn’t the case for much of 2017), and I think it has to do with taking more time than I usually do to make plans for the new year.

My major focus in setting resolutions, if you want to call them that, was thinking about what HABITS I wanted to either break or form. I didn’t want to set short-term goals like “Lose 10 pounds” or “Run a 5k”. I wanted to focus on forming habits that would help me accomplish long-term, ongoing things like “Get better at drawing” and “Be healthy and more energetic”.

To that end, here are the habits I am working to form and maintain for the long haul (hopefully long past 2018!):

Daily Creativity
I bought this book over a year ago, but when I started it last New Year’s, I had to give it up because I didn’t feel inspired by the exercises AND it was taking up too much of my day. But a few months ago, when I was browsing the clearance section at Hobby Lobby, I found this book about mandalas, which have always appealed to me. I realized that mandalas would be the perfect theme to use to work through the daily art book.

I realized that what I need to do is form a habit of daily creativity, not stress about creating 365 pieces of finished work in a year. I decided to set aside 30 minutes a day to sit down and focus on making something. Because it sometimes takes me more than a day to finish a mandala, I am allowing myself to skip the exercises that don’t inspire me. For instance, I LOVED making something inspired by my favorite animal, but was not inspired by the exercise that said to make something out of paper without drawing on it, cutting it, or gluing it. (Anyone have any ideas for this one? I didn’t have much luck making a mandala simply by folding, and to be honest, origami has never been my thing!)

The result is that so far, I have spent 30 minutes daily practicing creativity simply for the sake of enjoying it but will not have a finished piece every day. I am focusing on what inspires me in the book and skipping over what doesn’t. You can see what I’ve produced in my updates here once a week, but if you would like to keep up on a daily basis, follow me on Instagram!

Being Healthy
This is also about habits. I have a few habits I’m trying to break for this one, namely, consuming less alcohol and sugar. Sugar is just bad all around, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give up chocolate. But being more controlled about it and eliminating added sugars in food will help.

And alcohol… what can I say, I love a good glass of wine with dinner at night. But I noticed that it affects my sleep patterns, and all the articles I’ve read lately about health and having more energy, losing weight, etc., all say that alcohol is to be avoided. So I am trying to form the habit of drinking more water and saving a glass or two of wine for the weekends.

The other health-related habit I’m working on is exercise. This habit is already partially formed, but I would like to cement it in as part of my lifestyle in 2018. I used to be a runner but have had alot of pain when running after breaking my ankle a few years ago. I have tried a number of different workouts – circuit training, which makes a huge difference but is such a CHORE, and Zumba, which is cardio all the way but is the most fun I’ve ever had exercising.

I’ve had a hard time sticking with anything since I stopped running, so I decided to do the same thing I did with creativity – commit 30 minutes a day to exercise and not worry about getting “in shape” for anything. So far, I’ve been able to maintain the habit, although I have to admit it is always in the back of my mind to be able to run again.

Reading
And my final habit is reading for an hour a day. Committing an hour has been difficult on some days, and so I have broken this one a few times. But 30 minutes to get into a book didn’t seem like enough time, which is why I set the goal at spending an hour a day, minimum, for reading. An hour is usually doable, and is a long enough timeframe to get through some of the book. Again, I am focused on setting the habit of reading, and so I am trying not to put too many parameters on the habit. Some days I feel like reading a novel or a fashion magazine, and other days, when I’m not exhausted at bedtime but reading earlier in the day, I study a knitwear design book. I don’t always look forward to, or enjoy, exercising, but this habit is pure enjoyment for me, regardless of what I’m reading.

So let me know, my friends, what are you doing in the new year? If you have resolutions, share them in the comments, and if you want to join in doing something creative every day, whether it is cooking or drawing or whatever else, please post your photos on Instagram to #createwithelizabethkaybooth. Happy 2018 to you all!

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!

FO: Gradient Flight

nymphalidea knitty
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.

nymphalidea knitty
Even though its folded, you can still get an idea of the size and color changes
nymphalidea knitty
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.

nymphalidea knitty
I love a good, snuggly shawl that you can wrap yourself in!
nymphalidea knitty
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
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