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.

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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

100 Sweaters

In Los Angeles, it’s generally about 100 degrees (at least!) until at least the end of September. Sweater weather doesn’t start until mid-to-end of October, and sometimes later. But, depending how fast you work, now can be the perfect time to start a sweater project because by the time you finish weaving in ends and blocking it, you will be able to actually wear it.

I came across this post with 100 sweaters, and it spoke to the designer in me. But even if you’re not a designer, you will find this helpful if you’re not sure what kind of sweater you’re in the mood to make. You have 100 options here for different silhouettes, sleeve styles and necklines, so you can either choose what you like to help you decide what sort of pattern to buy, or if you’re designing your own, you have helpful visuals to help you decide which combo of necklines, sleeves and stitch patterns would make your perfect sweater. And this will exponentially help narrow down a Ravelry search, which will yield you 115,394 choices if you just type “sweater” into the pattern search.

Have fun, and happy making!

Summer Movies and Books + the Coolest (FREE) Knitting Pattern Ever

Anyone who reads my blog for much length of time knows it’s very hard for me to tear myself away from knitting and/or the beach. But summer is never complete for me without some lazy afternoons spent reading or going to the movies.

I just finished reading a real-life Indiana Jones story, which fascinated me and basically meant I couldn’t carry on with life until I finished the book. Parts of it were very technical, but overall, it was an interesting read and amazing to me that there is somewhere left on earth that is relatively unexplored. However, the author also gives a dose of reality about the risks taken to go trekking through dense jungle, and just so I don’t spoil anything, let’s just say that Indiana Jones remains more fantasy than reality.

Next on my reading list is an art heist true story… if you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts, spoiler-free of course!

On to movies:

I don’t know if there’s an exploration theme going on with me, but I have always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean movies – especially the first one, and the last two. I just took the kids to see the latest last week, and it didn’t disappoint!

But, there is one movie that is at the top of my wish list to see:

A number of people I know are so excited about this movie they went in costume to see it. Not sure I will go in costume, but, if I did, this would be my cape. Seriously the coolest knitting project ever! And this is why I think our community is the best ever – where else do you find such cool stuff for free?! Enjoy!

Summer Inspiration and Entertainment

I really love the start of summer. Three months in front of us that we can fill or not fill as we choose. During the school year, it is hard to immerse myself into projects because I have an hour here and an hour there, and in between have to run my kids to one activity or another. Summer days are so much more relaxed, and it is nice to have longer blocks of time when I can “lose” myself in a project. I have been catching up on emails, podcasts, and blogs and debating what projects I want to tackle this summer. I am still deciding, but in the meantime, here are a few links to inspire you, and even if you already have your summer projects laid out, to entertain you. Enjoy!

To listen to while you work: Talks for the Fiber Lover

One of those lovely projects that isn’t hard, but looks impressive: Make A Statement

And to shop, get inspiration or summery DIY home ideas: Kailo Chic

FO: Faith

charity knitting for Alice's Embrace

Most of you probably think I’ve disappeared, so I’m sorry for the lack of posts! I have done alot of knitting, including knitting for another designer, and also had to get through the end of the school year, which is always as busy as the week before Christmas.

charity knitting for Alices Embrace

I finished another piece for Alice’s Embrace, and this one is particularly close to my heart because I made it for the husband of the friend I lost.

charity knitting for Alices Embrace

The pattern is Faith, and I love both the name and the pattern. To see it in photos, however, it has to be viewed from an angle, almost like illusion knitting. I am very happy with how this turned out.

alices embrace
The entire prayer shawl, viewed from the top.

elizabeth kay booth knits for alices embraceIt is not one of those patterns you can memorize very easily, but is so pretty I definitely want to make more. I paired a brighter green yarn with a more muted olive green strand, and I love the effect. This is definitely a trick I will use again in the future.

Please share in my Ravelry group if you have been doing charity knitting – I would love to see your pieces!

FO: KAL Blanket + A Peek of New Project

Alice's Embrace blanket

Thank you all for your support of Alice’s Embrace. When I started this KAL/CAL, I received lovely messages and encouragement, so thank you! It was much appreciated. I am going to do this as an ongoing thing – I always need to have a project going for when I want to relax and not do the work of designing.

You are still welcome at any time to jump in and knit or crochet shawls and blankets with me. If you do, please stay in touch, and post photos in my Ravelry group or on Facebook so we can cheer each other on.

Sing the Song Blanket
Completed Sing the Song blanket

I really love the patterns and they work up very quickly, as they are all done on size 13 needles and use chunky weight machine-washable yarn.

And on to the next project…

Faith prayer shawl
Faith Prayer shawl

Please keep in touch if you’re making along.

Facebook.com/ElizabethKayBooth
Twitter: @elizabethkbooth
Instagram: @elizabethkaybooth

 

Slow Fashion, Quality over Quantity, and Why It’s Great to Be a Maker

With so many yarn stores struggling to stay open and designers having a hard time figuring out how to make a living off of $5 patterns, there is much talk about whether our industry is going to last. On the other hand, Etsy is filled with new yarn dyers, and it seems everyone who’s been a knitter or crocheter for much length of time has their own pattern or two up on Ravelry. We aren’t going anywhere!

It seems very timely that discussions about slow fashion have been popping up, and after watching this documentary (look for it on Netflix), I am completely on board with embracing the movement. If slow fashion is a new term for you (as it was for me), here are a few links that explain it better:

http://fashionista.com/2012/12/the-slow-fashion-movement-what-it-is-and-the-10-brands-that-are-doing-it-right

https://fringeassociation.com/2016/09/30/slow-fashion-october-week-1-introductions/

Can Slow Fashion Impact Fast Fashion?

When people think of consumerism and fast fashion, the first things that usually pop into their minds are the overseas factories with poor working conditions for women and children, and overstuffed landfills. These things are probably the two biggest problems with fast fashion today – especially with companies that churn out “collections” every week. When I went to school, there were usually only two, or maybe three seasons a year.

Speaking from a designer point of view, fast fashion has also destroyed creativity. It is not possible to produce entire “collections” every week that will be sold for a few dollars a garment and will probably be in a landfill a month or two later, and still maintain any sense of creativity or design. If you go to the mall these days, doesn’t it seem like everything looks the same? I don’t enjoy shopping anymore at all (well, except for yarn, but that’s another story!), and I realized when I was at the mall a few weeks ago that the reason is because I’m not at all inspired by what I see. And designers cannot just “produce” creativity – it takes time to absorb inspiration, time to experiment, and time to make if you want something of true quality.

I think the fiber community deserves a big credit for its role in this movement. We practically define what slow fashion is! When you buy yarn that has already received alot of by-hand treatment – such as being hand dyed and/or handspun – it just naturally follows you will want to make something special with it that you will keep and pass down to loved ones. The entire process from when the fiber comes off the animal to the finished project is the opposite of being disposable. Even if you are buying cheaper yarns, you are still making something by hand that has a personal touch and will be of value to you over anything you might buy at Walmart for a few bucks. We put thought into what we buy and make, and how we use it once it’s finished.

Speaking as a designer, I put alot of thought into my patterns. I DESIGN each one, from start to finish, which is so much work, but you can be certain I’m not working off of some template, and definitely not just churning out copies of whatever is “on trend” at the moment. Browsing through Ravelry, I am always amazed at all the creativity in our community. It is filled with unique, one-of-a-kind projects, and I hope that we will be the people to inspire the rest of the world to take a few moments to appreciate the unique, and value quality over quantity. And I am much more inspired to design things that I know will be lovingly made and cherished for a long time to come.

I hope we can inspire the fashion industry at large to return to a slower pace as well, and to putting more thought into creativity and design, and less into selling what amounts to quantities of junk.

Timely

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.

 

KAL/CAL Update

Alices Embrace
Charity blanket for Alices Embrace Week 1

As most of you know, I recently lost someone dear to me to Alzheimer’s, and learned about Alice’s Embrace the same day. I was inspired to knit for them, in my friend’s honor, and I am hoping you will knit and crochet along with me!

As promised, I am keeping you updated, and I’m happy to say despite alot of unexpected things going on this week, I made progress. Compare the photo above (from last week) to this one! 🙂

alices embrace
Charity blanket for Alices Embrace Week 2

I love this pattern – it is working up quickly, as you can see, and is relaxing to knit. It’s not complicated, and so it is a piece I can work on even at the end of a long day when my brain is too tired to deal with anything too complex.

I am doing this piece, but feel free to browse their site and pick a shawl or a different pattern to best suit whatever yarn you are planning to use. Please keep in touch with me by posting in the Ravelry thread or tagging me on my social media:

Facebook.com/ElizabethKayBooth
Twitter: @elizabethkbooth
Instagram: @elizabethkaybooth