Meet the Animals + Something Special for YOU

As I mentioned in my post about all of this year’s changes, we went from living on a small rental in Los Angeles to a 5-acre property in Tennessee. By far, the most FUN part of this entire process of change has been adopting and raising farm animals. I will leave the birds for my next post (although to my great surprise, the birds give us more entertainment than even our house pets).

We started with 5 wool sheep, and then, for my birthday, added a pair of Nigerian dwarf goats. I will not write too much in this post, as I am sure you’ll find the photos much more entertaining. The important things to know are that the sheep are a Bluefaced Leicester/Shetland/Cotswold mix, which my spinning friends tell me is going to make some lovely yarn, and were about 6 months old when we got them and are now, as of this writing, nearing their first birthday. Sheep are not easy, and if anyone is interested, I can do another post about all the things we have learned so far about raising them, but I really do enjoy our new life. Despite the hard, and often dirty work, going out to the barn to take care of the animals is one of my favorite parts of the day.

5 lambs having a little snack after arriving at their forever home
Front row, right to left: Freckles, Roman, and Nona. In the back – a little black sheep named Molly and Mr. Percy, a proper English gentleman …when he’s not begging for grain that is.
It took us awhile to get paddocks set up and to learn how to herd the sheep where they need to go. At first, there were days we had to pick them up and carry them – just a little morning workout.
The horned ones… I always thought it was just rams who have horns, but ewes can have them too. Molly and Mr. Percy just wouldn’t look the same without them!
If one takes off running, most likely they will all follow. Sheep love to be together. A sheep thing that is sometimes annoying, and other times, super helpful! 🙂
Enjoying the summer pastures. Truly a sheep’s happy place.
After shearing. Yes, we did it ourselves, and yes, it is SO HARD! My husband and I were quite proud of ourselves when we finished Mr. Percy and Roman.

And the goats… what can I say except that they are as people-loving, cuddly and fun as they look!

Happy birthday to me! Graham really does love cuddles and being held.
Leia loves cuddles too, and if I’m sitting down, will jump right into my lap.
One day when we were out and about, we left them to roam in the yard. When I came inside a few minutes to cool off, look who showed up at the front door!
My baby nephew thinks the goats are pretty funny too.
Leia is our female – and she’ll be a good mama some day. She doesn’t tolerate nonsense.
Graham: the sweetest, most lovable little goat I’ve ever met! He does try to eat my clothes however…
It’s true: goats really do love a nibble of just about everything!

This has all been a huge learning process for us. We did lots of reading and research before buying our animals so that we’d know how to keep them healthy and happy. It has been so fun and rewarding, but I always feel like I have so much left to learn. Next up is learning to process wool and spin it. I hope you enjoyed meeting our ruminants, and I will do another post soon about our birds.

I can’t yet sell any of my own fiber, but if you’re in holiday shopping mode, I do have a little treat for you. Lovecrafts.com gave me a discount code for my blog readers: Use EKB2019 to get 15% off orders over $10 (excluding PDF patterns, sale items & value packs). One use per customer, valid until December 31, 2019.

(And if anyone is wondering, I don’t make commissions from any sales, this is just a treat they are letting me offer you!) Please enjoy – their site has goodies for knitters, crocheters, quilters, and cross stitch and embroidery.

#WhyIMake

Earlier this week, LoveCrafts.com asked me to participate in their blogger awards (The Crafties) by writing about #whyimake. At first glance, it seemed like there are so many reasons why I’m a maker, so how to condense them into one post? But after looking back over how I became a maker and thinking about why I’m still doing it, I realized why I make is actually quite simple. Here is my story of how I started and why I will always be a maker.

I have always been a creative person. As a young girl, I loved to draw, and then as a teen, dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. My sketches of dream outfits from that time are still tucked away in my studio. When I was in high school, I got serious about taking art classes, drawing, painting, and preparing my portfolio for art school. I ended up going to school for graphic design and loved my college courses.

But graphic design in college is not the same as graphic design in the corporate world, and I have to be honest and admit that after graduation, I was not happy as a working graphic designer. I felt chained to my computer all the time, and so many days it felt like there was no creativity or making in my day at all. I would come home from work feeling drained, read fashion magazines, or just go shopping. This was not fulfilling at all, but it certainly filled the house with stuff and drained my bank account!

After I became a stay-at-home mom, we moved to Los Angeles when my son was 9 months and my daughter was two, and as you can imagine, it was a hard adjustment. A year later, I was still feeling lonely in the large city, and then my father died very suddenly. I found myself in the lowest, most painful time in my life to date. I felt trapped at home with the all the challenges that come with mothering two toddlers, a continent away from all our family and closest friends, and of course, the shock and grief of losing a parent. When someone from church asked me if I’d like to come to her little fiber group and learn to crochet, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying, so I went.

It sounds dramatic, but it was a life-changing night for me. I went home from that first meeting and stayed up until the wee hours practicing because I desperately wanted to make sure I wouldn’t forget how to do it by the next day. It is hard to put into words how important it was that I didn’t forget how to do it, because a whole week until our next meeting felt like such a long time!

I consider learning to crochet to be when I truly became a maker. It was the first night since my dad had died that I was able to get my mind engaged and enthusiastic with something. Crocheting made me excited, and it didn’t even matter what I was working on. I was as excited and energized to work on that first hole-y, uneven little dishcloth then as I am to work on a beautiful, complicated shawl or sweater now. I would sit and crochet anytime I was feeling sad or when I couldn’t sleep, and sure enough, after working on a project, I’d feel worlds better. To me, this is what it means to be a maker – enjoying the process of learning and of creating with your hands. The end result is just the cherry on top.

I’m a maker because I love to explore and learn, then translate what I’ve learned into a beautiful piece made by hand. People love to ask designers where their inspiration comes from, and I know I’m only one of many when I say, “Everywhere!” That may sound vague, but it is a true statement because there is always something new to learn or explore. The endless possibilities are what keep it exciting and fulfilling. There are so many studies about the the great mental benefits of knitting and crocheting, but I think those things are the side effects of what is really going on, which is experiencing the joy of learning and creating. Whether it’s focusing on a new stitch pattern or technique, or listening to an audiobook or podcast while I’m meditatively stitching a simple pattern, I love that feeling of having my mind engaged. It energizes me just thinking about what new project to start or what country’s textile tradition I can explore next. It’s exciting to buy a different fiber or even just use a color combination I’ve never tried before.

I have also realized that being a maker leaves me fulfilled and satisfied, and being a consumer, whether of things or entertainment or both, does not. I no longer have the craving to constantly shop and buy new things all the time because I am satisfied with the process of making. (Except for yarn and books – but you saw that coming!) Advertising doesn’t lure me the way it used to either because as a maker, I’ve learned to appreciate true value. I am also much less inclined to waste time getting sucked into Netflix or social media (and then being angry at myself after) unless I am working on a project. If I spend an evening watching Netflix while knitting or crocheting, my mind has still been engaged with my hands, and it still feels fulfilling. (So no judgment here on a good Netflix binge, but please let me have a project in my lap at all times!)

I love that this competition is not called “why I’m a knitter” or “why I’m a crocheter”, but is focused on why we are “makers”. You can always enjoy being a maker, even if you get tired of a certain craft or medium for a time. I’ve discovered that if I’m feeling bored or out of the mood with my craft, it is usually because I’m no longer learning, and once I fix that problem, the excitement returns. Since that first night I learned to crochet (and to knit shortly thereafter), there have been very few days I don’t spend at least a few minutes working on a project.

I still want to learn to needlepoint, to quilt, to spin, to weave…let’s be honest, that list will probably just keep getting longer! But whatever my craft of the moment is, I will always be making because it fulfills and excites me. I am a lifelong learner, and therefore a lifelong maker.

All of us have our own stories about how we became makers, and I’d love to hear yours. Thanks for reading mine, and please leave yours in the comments. If you want to keep up with what catches my eye, as well as my latest works in progress, check me out on Ravelry and Instagram. Special thanks to Lovecrafts.com for nominating me to participate in their blogger awards contest!

Facing Down an Old WIP

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace WrapThis project is probably one of the oldest WIPs I had sitting in the back of my closet. I started it 4 or 5 years ago, and knitted far with it. As in, it calls for 3 skeins of yarn, and I knitted through 2 before I quit working on it.

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace Wrap

This was one of those projects where I loved the pattern, loved the yarn, and because I loved them both so much, I wanted perfection. I’m sure you know what is coming. I made a mistake pretty early on, but didn’t notice it until I had knit several more inches. I pushed myself to just live with a mistake. Then I made more mistakes, and the whole thing just started to annoy me by the time I started the second skein.

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace Wrap

By the time I was finishing that skein, I was majorly irritated with myself and wishing I had just frogged it when I noticed the first mistake. But of course, being 2/3 done with it, at this point, I REALLY didn’t want to frog it, so I did what most of us do in such situations and decided to just shelve it for awhile.

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace Wrap

You know how it is, we always think if we put it aside for awhile, our mistakes will disappear by magic, or at least not bother us so much when we pull it back out after awhile. It turns out in this instance “awhile” was 4+ years, and when I pulled it back out over the summer, the mistakes were still there and glaringly obvious.

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace Wrap

Of course, there are two ways this can go when you’re in this situation: you can frog the whole thing and start over or you can frog it and repurpose the yarn for a different project. It really comes down to how passionate you feel about the pattern at hand. I decided to do the first because from the start, I loved THIS yarn with THIS pattern.

Louisa Harding Amitola, Herringbone Lace Wrap

I am happy to say that when a project has had such a long timeout, it is much less painful to just frog the whole thing and pretend you’re starting something brand new, which you almost are. When I picked it up again, I had all the excitement and drive that comes with starting a new project, and I made the most of it. The bonus to restarting is that it does go much faster the second time around. I knit the entire wrap in the course of a few months, mistake-free, and I am very happy with the results, which you can see in these photos. I hope you enjoyed reading about the process, and that you’ll be encouraged to face whatever projects have been hiding in your closet for the same reasons. It really won’t be as bad as you think! 🙂

Pattern
Yarn: Louisa Harding Amitola

Short Row Slices

I love the shawl shape!

Awhile ago, I mentioned I am working my way through a book about short rows. This shawl is the next project from the book, and was a very fun and fairly quick knit. I chose to do it in cotton, but you could use any worsted-weight yarn you wish.

Closeup of the design details

I love how the pattern uses the short rows as a design element, and because of this, you don’t need to pick up and hide your wraps.

Back view
The shape allows for nice wrap and drape

I am thinking it would be fun to do this pattern again in a variegated or gradient yarn, but I am also very happy with the solid tomato red. Fall is not particularly cool in Los Angeles, but this color is very fall-ish while the cotton makes a cooler shawl than wool would have.

I also really love the jagged edge of this shawl – great shape when you wear it wrapped around yourself!

Daily Creativity – February 2018

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am practicing a daily creativity habit this year (loosely following the book mentioned in that post). I am not completing a piece of art every single day, but I am spending 30 minutes a day being creative. I didn’t get that many mandalas completed this month, as some of these took me a week+ to complete.

I’ve been posting my projects on my Instagram under #createwithelizabethkaybooth if you want to see them all in one place. I love having a theme because it is more relaxing completing the challenges in the book knowing that I just have to translate them into a mandala. It gives focus and allows me to just sit down and get to work instead of feeling overwhelmed with the proverbial blank canvas.

makesomething365, mandalas
A manadala made with my non-dominant hand. It was very tiring to work with my non-dominant hand – some of the sloppiness in here came from the awkwardness, but more of it came from just getting tired!
makesomething365, mandala art
A mandala that took me a week+ to complete. The idea was to make something that blended into the background. I usually love color and rarely work in black and white, but I thought maybe just leaving it all in linework would assist with the blending in part of this project.
makesomething365, mandala art, makingarteveryday
Mandala inspired by a dollar bill. Pen and marker. I’ve never examined a dollar bill so closely before!
makesomething365, mandalas, dailyhabit
The challenge in the book was to write a love letter and illustrate it. I decided my project would be to crochet the heart mandala out of the book I mentioned.

Daily Creativity – January 2018

mandala art, createwithelizabethkaybooth
Day 1 in the book – make something with whatever materials you have on hand. My first ever mandala – colored pencil and pen.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am practicing a daily creativity habit this year (loosely following the book mentioned in that post). I am not completing a piece of art every single day, but I am spending 30 minutes a day being creative. So far, I’ve done pretty well sticking to the goal.

I’ve been posting my projects more regularly on my Instagram, but I thought it might be fun to post a monthly update here. I have to say, making mandalas is so enjoyable, I look forward to sitting down to work on them. They take me awhile, especially the first two, which took me an entire week of 30 minutes each day to complete. But I can already see the benefits of this habit and it is relaxing to be focused on enjoying the process instead of racing toward a finish line like I do with work things.

createwithelizabethkaybooth, mandala art, dailycreativehabit
Day 2 in the book – week 2 for me. Create something inspired by your favorite animal – if you can tell which animal this is inspired by, PLEASE leave me a comment, just for fun!
Colored pencil and pen.
createwithelizabethkaybooth, mandala art
Day 4 in book – Day 15 for me – take a 5 minute walk and make something with whatever materials are available where you ended up. It was POURING rain, so I walked 5 minutes TOTAL and got very wet setting up this little beauty, but I love this photo. Such a great color combo!
createwithelizabethkaybooth
Working with something I collect. No secret there about what I collect. 😉 Even though this was working with my favorite thing in the world, this is my least favorite mandala from the entire month.
createwithelizabethkaybooth
Look in the kitchen and work with the first fruit or vegetable you spot – which was my basket of citrus. Biggest trick here was to keep the lemons and limes from rolling around.

I attempted Day 3 in the book, which was to make something out of paper, but don’t use scissors or glue or draw on it. I tried, friends, I really did, but have you ever tried to make a mandala this way? If you have successfully, please share, because all I ended up with was a crinkled up piece of paper. I was annoyed, and decided to just let that one go. There have been other prompts in the book that I found equally uninspiring and also decided to let go.

My biggest takeaway for the month: if you want to establish a habit of daily creativity, you need to be focused on enjoying the creative process and not on following rules or the quantity of what you’re producing. I hope you enjoyed the update, and if you want to create with me, use #createwithelizabethkaybooth to post your creations.

 

Design Seeds

A truly inspirational site that I am currently using for a few projects. This graphic designer found a great way to play with color and photography. There was not one page on this site that I didn’t find helpful and inspirational. Many thanks to her for providing an ongoing supply of beautiful color palettes!