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.

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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

Stitches West 2017 Photos and Highlights

Hotel signage just for Stitches West

Stitches West 2017 went very fast for me, but was very satisfying. I am still working on a design I started while there, and it was so much fun picking out photos to share with you all.

Knotted Treasure Booth at Stitches West 2017
The Knotted Treasure booth

I went with one of my knitter friends, whom I used to work with at the shop, and who is also a jewelry designer. This was her first year exhibiting at the show, which was exciting, and I had to snap a photo once we got her display set up.

Stitches West 2017 - Hotel signs
One of many little signs posted around the hotel for all the Stitches West attendees

The hotel had these cute little signs posted all over just for Stitches West, which I found very entertaining. I couldn’t get photos of them all, but I enjoyed stopping to read them. It made me happy to see, because they are obviously aware of our presence and considered our community well worth taking the time to add in these little “extras”.

To prevent my own personal pile of yarn from getting too much bigger, I spent most of the weekend in classes. Although be warned, Steven Be makes it quite convenient to shop even while in class.

Steven Be posing with yarn
Steven Be posing in class with a table of very tempting yarn for purchase

Shopping aside, I enjoy Steven Be very much, and being in one of his classes was like taking a lovely trip back to art school, minus the tight project deadlines and all-nighters. He has a very creative energy that’s contagious, and shows you the value of experimentation and just playing with yarn and color.

Steven Be class
Steven holding up my knitting and being his usual fabulous self

I am currently working on this design, which I started in his class. And yes, the yarn sitting there was purchased in class, for this project. But once you have a design sketched out and planned, it goes a long way toward helping you match the perfect yarn to the project. I probably wouldn’t have purchased this yarn if I hadn’t already designed the garment. Note to self: this is how one SHOULD shop for yarn.

After draping class with Lily Chin
Selfie with Lily Chin after her draping class

Apologies for the lack of quality in this photo – it was very rushed. The class I was most anticipating to take that weekend was draping with Lily Chin. She is an incredible designer, and also a very good teacher. I am very grateful I got to meet her and learn from her, and have been practicing at home since. She gave us many tips and tricks for draping, especially as it applies to knitwear. If you have ever watched Project Runway and wondered how to drape on a mannequin, a draping class with Lily will get you off to a running start. If anyone is interested, please leave me a comment, and I can do a separate post about what I learned about how to do draping.

Sunset on the way home
Sunset on the way home from Stitches West

I can’t resist a beautiful sunset, and I watched this gorgeous example unfold as we were driving home. If you went to Stitches West and found any cool new yarns to check out or took any classes you’d recommend, please leave me a comment so I can keep it in mind for next year.

 

2016 Holidays and Happy New Year!

December was a whirlwind month (as it is for most of you, I imagine), and I can hardly believe we are already in 2017. Instead of explaining in words what’s been going on with me, here’s a little recap in photos before I return to “regular programming”. I hope you enjoy.

burbank
Thanksgiving time in Burbank
california living, thanksgiving
Ready for a family Thanksgiving celebration. Yes, it is outdoors – and I am grateful for that good California living! 🙂

20161127_164134 20161127_165315

20161127_165527
The perfect ending to a long Thanksgiving weekend – walking through the Enchanted Forest at Descanso Gardens with a dear friend. Descanso means “rest” in Spanish – and it was truly restful.
Volunteering at the animal shelter is part of our life all year - but it seemed like there were alot of puppies and kittens during the holidays this year, and I cant resist taking pictures of them all.
Volunteering at the animal shelter is part of our life all year – but it seemed like there were extra puppies and kittens during the holidays this year, and I cannot resist taking pictures of them all.
minion christmas decoration
One of my favorite Christmas decorations in the neighborhood
christmas eve 2016
My son being his goofy self on Christmas Eve
transyberian orchestra
The stage setup for Transyberian Orchestra. They make my favorite Christmas music and are my favorite group to go see live. Awesome show – and I recommend to any of you who love their music and have not seen a concert yet.
On our way to see Transyberian Orchestra - we only get to see snow-capped mountains when the snow comes to low enough elevations. But it never gets old.
On our way to see Transyberian Orchestra – we only get to see snow-capped mountains when the snow comes to low enough elevations. But it never gets old.

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descanso gardens los angeles
More scenes from Descanso Gardens – my friend and I got to go again between Christmas and New Years
new years sunset
Sunset in my neighborhood on New Years Day.
happy new year 2017
Happy New Year from us to you! Taken at the birthday party of my best friend, which happens to be on New Years!

Happy new year to all of you – may it be a good year!

Sunshine Blogger Award

Little Golden Notebook nominated me for this, and so before I start, I just want to say thank you! If you haven’t checked out Little Golden Notebook, I recommend you do. I am especially enjoying the 30 day knitting posts, and loved the piece on Bohus sweaters!

Not sure if this is really an award, but I like these sorts of things because it’s a chance to answer questions or share things I might not think to otherwise. 

So here’s the Sunshine breakdown:

The Rules
1. Thank the person that nominated you.
2. Answer the questions from your nominator.
3. Nominate fellow bloggers you follow.
4. Give them 10 questions to answer

So without further ado, here are the questions I was asked, and my answers. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

1. What is your favorite word?
Lush. There’s a cosmetic company with this name, but I just like the word on its own. It makes me think of water and plants and flowers and visually speaking, it’s the kind of images and art I love.
2. What is your least favorite word?
Blah, bleh and all variations of it. It’s the word that people seem to use when they’re in a bad mood, can’t think of anything nice to say and want to make sure we all know it.
3. What turns you on?
Starting new projects/learning something new. Love that creative energy I feel at the start of new projects!
4. What turns you off?
Doing taxes and other tedious paperwork. Can I go to the dentist instead?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
Salsa! Marc Anthony’s my man! 🙂
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
Nails on a chalkboard and the kids arguing with each other.
7. What is your favorite curse word?
Pendejo chingado.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Well, no serious plans on this, but I LOVE a good mystery, and when I was my daughter’s age, I was hell-bent on becoming the next Nancy Drew. My siblings and I got into alot of mischief playing Nancy Drew and looking for secret passageways. There are things we still probably haven’t told my mother. 🙂
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Being a telemarketer, going back to corporate work…I really have a very low tolerance for monotony.
10.If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

I would like to nominate the following people:
JemArrowsmith
Ever the Crafter
Kit Dunsmore
The Twisted Yarn
Hookabee
Glenna Knits

If I didn’t include you but you want to do this, please comment and tag me and go ahead. I’d love to see everyone’s answers.

Here are my questions:

  1. What is your favorite craft?
  2. What do you hate to do (craft or otherwise)?
  3. What is your favorite music genre?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. What food do you absolutely hate?
  6. What is your favorite way to spend a Friday night?
  7. What is your dream job?
  8. What job would you not want to be stuck doing?
  9. Do you like to dance?
  10. If you had unlimited time and money, where would you travel?

Have fun, and don’t forget to leave me a comment when you answer. Thanks for reading this far!

The Year I Tried to Make All My Presents

UnfurledHave  I ever told you about the year I decided to make all my presents? I was very new to knitting and crocheting, but totally in love with doing it and imagining all the great things I could make for my loved ones. I really don’t like shopping, but I absolutely hate it during the holiday season. The malls are crammed, it’s hard to find what you want, and to me, at least, it’s just plain stressful. And let’s be honest, I don’t much like anything that takes time away from making and being creative. With that said, you can understand why making my gifts was so appealing.

But if you aren’t laughing at the absurdity of trying to make ALL my gifts, you probably will laugh at this: I made this very ambitious decision after Thanksgiving. Yes, you read that correctly – AFTER Thanksgiving.

You can imagine how the rest of the season went. I started on my first gift with lots of excitement and started pulling yarn for others. Come December 10 or so, I realized I was only starting on my second project. I figured if I really put on a hustle, maybe I could make the next few quicker. Then it was December 20 and I realized I would need to prioritize what I could finish, plus make room for the dreaded shopping…I’m sure you know the rest of this story. The next year, I didn’t make anything and ordered all my gifts online before Thanksgiving.

Since then, I’ve learned to balance it out. For one, I only make things for people that value the handmade aspect and whom I know will treasure it and keep it for years to come. Second, I only make one or two items a year as gifts so I can enjoy the process but still produce something I’m happy with that hopefully the recipient will be too.

In that spirit, I wanted to let you know I just opened an Etsy shop. I was able to team up with Colinton Australia to offer kits of yarn with my Unfurled shawl pattern. Colinton’s yarn is completely pure fiber, and I designed this shawl with this exact yarn. These kits are extremely reasonably priced (this yarn was over $20 a skein when our shop carried it). I am really proud that Colinton was willing to work with me to sell it so much cheaper in my shop. Their colorist also picked out a number of color palettes, so if you don’t want to make it in the colors I chose, you have options. I’m posting this now because this is the perfect sort of project at the perfect price to make for the sort of person I mentioned – someone who appreciates the handmade and having an heirloom piece. All the details are on Etsy, but if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear!

For those of you who are not knitters but would like to have one of these shawls, please let me know as I do take commissions to knit. But a girl can only knit so fast, so if you want it for the holidays, the same timing principles apply!

Whatever you choose to make for your loved ones (or yourself!), now is the time to start. I’d love to see your finished projects in my Ravelry group if you don’t mind sharing.

Also, I was thinking of doing a knit-along for this, so if this is something any of you would like to do with me, PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know! It would be the first knit-along I’ve ever hosted for one of my patterns, so lots of fun for me, but first I need to know if any of you want to do it with me! 🙂 Happy knitting!