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! 🙂

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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!

 

Reflections of Summer

I imagine if you have kids, they are all back to school, or perhaps you attend school yourself. My kids started school this week, which is later than most of my friends and family in other parts of the country. It is hard to believe summer is over already, although admittedly, this one went particularly fast for me. It started with my trip to Washington, DC for TNNA and ended with another trip back east to spend time with family, and of course, the mad rush to prepare for school that always comes in August. If you are like me, and always feel a little sad when summer is over, I suggest doing what I just did and downloading everything from your phone and enjoying the memories. Here are my highlights:

Boo On Legos
Have to take time to clean and sort the kids’ rooms. We sorted my son’s Legos, and only a cat would find it comfortable to lay on a pile of Legos! More proof that my Boo is special. 🙂
Ronald Reagan Airport
I snapped this photo in Ronald Reagan airport on my way back to Los Angeles (from TNNA). I thought this was one of the most beautiful airports I’ve ever been in.
HeinzHallGarden
Downtown Pittsburgh, as seen from the Heinz Hall garden before a Pittsburgh Symphony concert. Wine and the company of my longest, dearest friend optional. 🙂
MyGirls
Time with my extended family is always too short. I adore my nieces, and I wish they weren’t a whole year older every time I see them! Unfortunately, one of them is not in this photo, but take it from me, she is equally adorable!
PittsburghCreek
PIttsburgh is as beautiful as California, but in a totally different way. I had to take a photo of this creek because we don’t have creeks in California and this looks just like the one that flowed behind the house where I grew up.
YuenlingBlack&Tan
This, my friends, is a Pittsburgh thing. To my knowledge, you can’t find it anywhere else, and so whenever we are in Pittsburgh, we drink quite a few more than just one! 😉
Perfect summer day
This captures a perfect summer day at home. Although when my husband and I join the kids in the pool, it’s usually with a glass of wine in hand.

Cheers to summer – I hope yours was happy and full of all your favorite things too – even if it went by way too fast!

What Will Make Me Stop Knitting

I’m the furthest thing from an athlete, but I am more than happy to drop my entire life to watch the Olympics. The general joke in our household is that I don’t watch TV, I just listen while I knit or crochet. The Olympics are the exception to this. I will sit mesmerized for hours watching gymnastics, swimming, water polo (which, while fun to watch, looks horrible to me – treading water constantly and swimming back and forth constantly after a ball? I’d drown from exhaustion!), and any other sport that happens to catch my fancy.

My favorite sports are the running and hurdles (because I am a runner, albeit a 5ker, not a marathoner), gymnastics, and swimming. It is hard to believe Sydney McLaughlin is only 16. And I admire Ashley Spencer for leaving the college she was attending to follow her coach to the U of Texas. I think a good teacher/mentor is hard to find and worth such a big move. I even let my daughter stay up way past her bedtime to watch the American gymnastics team perform, and we were never disappointed!

But I don’t just enjoy watching the sports themselves. I enjoy watching the interviews, and I’m embarrassed to admit, the commercials. My favorite commercial:

Who knew we all have 0.2 mg of gold in our blood?!

The message that we all have something good in us and can strive for excellence is why the Olympics are so popular I think. It’s inspiring, no matter what your career path or goals in life. I’ve heard not only Olympians, but other people at the top of their field say they got to where they’re at by competing only with themselves. Eventually they might compete against the other “bests”, but in their own minds, they are always focused on beating their own best. They believe they have that gold in their blood, and it motivates them to keep working.

What are your favorite moments from the Olympics? Please share with me or tell me what I might have missed.

And if anyone is wondering about my athletic abilities, this video illustrates my level of skill perfectly. Enjoy!