Existential Blog Questions

I’ve had a glorious summer, and I hope all of you have as well!

Last week, I was sitting with a friend, and she asked me “do you read blogs anymore?” and it made me think about my blog reading habits and my blog writing habits.

My reading habits: I read some blogs casually, mostly when I see them pop up in a Facebook feed. But, there aren’t any that I subscribe to and read religiously. I’ve become more accustomed to listening to podcasts on my commute and getting short snippets on Instagram. I will also turn to blog information if I need to learn a new technique, and one of the google results happens to be a blog.

My Writing Habits: I’ve found myself writing blogs about things that I don’t necessarily go to blogs for. I tend to write about current projects, yarn acquisitions, and other fiber related stuff. I enjoy exploring the political aspects of crafting and making, but that can only provide so much content.

My Question for readers: How often do you read craft-related blogs? Why do you read them? Would you be more interested in the type of content that I offer in another format (podcast, just IG or FB)? Would you be interested in more instructional content (e.g. sharing techniques that work/don’t work for me)? I don’t think I’m ready to let this space go completely, but I think I am ready for it to take on a new shape.

And now, just a few photos of some of the things I’ve been up to this summer:

I’ve been knitting shawls, I’ve taught myself to embroider and crochet, and I’m diving into more weaving. Lots of exciting things!

 

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Knitting, spinning, dyeing and whatnot 

Spring has, seemingly, finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. The winter was very wet and very long this year, and making really helped carry me through. I am, happily, continuing my making trend as spring rolls in. 

Spinning – It is hard to explain how much I’ve been enjoying my spinning over the past few weeks. It is giving me such a sense of relaxation, and I’m just loving these yarns that I am creating. 

This yellow roving is seriously like knitting up the sunshine ☀️ 

I picked up 2+ pounds of alpaca roving from a local farmer who is retiring. It was a bargain, but now I’m wondering what on earth to do with all of this alpaca! 

I finished my Hitchhiker Beyond scarf/shawl out of handspun. This process was so incredibly satisfying, and I’m so happy with the result. 


A little more handspun…

A 3-ply Corriedale cross that I spun and dyed in logwood. (Etsy listing here)


Dyeing – I’ve been dyeing up a storm. Mostly, I’ve been listing on Etsy, but I’m also keeping some for myself. 

Roving dyed with logwood 

Madder dyed yarn 

Acid dyed roving 


Knitting – Nothing big on the needles, but lots of little things. I’ve been in production-mode; I’ve been knitting for a local mill owner to sell finished items at the farmers market. 


And just for fun, some snapshots of the garden/homestead 


Find me on Instagram and Facebook @yarnbob 

Baking, spinning, sewing, and knitting, oh my!

I am continuing to experience a great deal of making-mojo. 

I finished 388 yards of handspun from a braid that I bought from Three Waters Farm.  The colors are outside of my usual comfort zone, but I really love it. 

I have been more motivated to explore bread-making recently. There’s something so satisfying about being able to make bread. I used the recipe for challah from the latest issue of Taproot Magazine, and I am so happy with how it came out. I’m looking for more recipes to try, so any suggestions are totally appreciated. 

Little One was on spring break last week, so I took a few hours while she was relaxing to sit back down at my sewing machine. The pattern for this is the Lil’ Knot Bag. The top stitching around the handles was a little tricky, but I’m pretty happy with the result. It was nice to sit back down at my machine, and this project was a good one for working on some skills. It was much more manageable than some of my other endeavors at the sewing machine have been. After a little more practice, these might appear in my Etsy shop. I’m still developing the direction I’d like to take my shop in, but I have some ideas in the works. 

I’m working on some mitts from handspun. Working with handspun has been hugely satisfying for me lately, as well. 

I also found these super cute little charms at the craft store the other week, so I made some stitch markers. I bought some extra, and they’re available on my Etsy shop. I’m getting ready to do some yarn and fiber dyeing, so keep an eye out for updates! 

My word for the year & making goals for 2017

As I have the past few years, I am setting out some general making plans and goals for the year. I’ve also noticed a growing trend of people choosing a word for the year, so I think I am going to jump on that bandwagon as well.

This is the first year where I have felt like choosing a word for the year, and it is the first time when I have felt like a single word fits with what my priorities are. My word for this year is going to be grow. I chose this word because it encapsulates what I’d like to focus on this year when it comes to my making, creative projects, and career goals. I want to build and grow my relationships with some of the artists and makers that I have come to know locally and on the internet. Being a major introvert, growing relationships that feel fulfilling and comfortable can be a big challenge. I want to expand my handmade business and develop some more concrete goals for how to successfully mesh my full-time career with a side passion project. Growing our homestead is also a major goal; I’d like to become a more successful gardener and continue to prepare to bring more fiber animals onto our property. Continuing to build and gain confidence in what I do and what I have to offer is another area that I hope to focus on, and it is something that I have really neglected in my career, personal life, and passion projects. I suppose my aim overall is to grow my skill set and expand my knowledge-base across my many interests: knitting, weaving, sewing, spinning, gardening, homesteading, and speech-language pathology.

Specifically, related to making my goals are to:

  • knit/spin/weave/sew from the materials that I have accumulated — making from both patterns and materials that I have in my stash is always a lofty goal
  • make items that I will actually use and wear; I’d like to knit at least four sweaters for myself, and I’d like to sew most of my summer wardrobe
  • make knit and sewn clothes for Little One
  • plant a dye garden and become more familiar with plants that can be foraged for dyes in my area to continue to develop my natural dyeing skills
  • take the time to watch and learn from the classes that I’ve queued on CreativeBugCREATIVELIVE, and Craftsy

Feel free to share your goals for the year in the comments or link to your posts. I love to hear what others are focusing on as they enter into a new year of creativity and making.

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Reflecting: 2016 Knitting/Making Goals

At the beginning of the year, I set out some knitting and making goals for this year. I thought it might be fun to look back and see how I did. Here were the goals:

  • Knitting a sweater for my husband
  • Knitting a pullover for Little One
  • Knitting more sweaters, shawls and hats for me!
  • Spinning some natural colored fiber and experimenting with natural dyes (from plants around our property) – eventually I hope to put some of this in my Etsy shop
  • Spinning alpaca, and some other fiber types
  • Repurposing the yarn from a thifted sweater
  • Sewing functional, well-fitting garments for Little One
  • Repurposing fabrics from old garments to make new ones

 

I managed to knit a sweater for my husband. I knit the Slade sweater, which is a Brooklyn Tweed pattern. I was happy with the result, but I’m not sure that I love seamed sweaters.

I didn’t get a pullover knitted for Little One. She and I have talked sweaters, so I think one will be happening early in 2017. I’m thinking the Harvest Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.

This was a great year for knitting. I finished a lot of projects and have really enjoyed the items I’ve knitted. I found a lot of inspiration in the podcasts I’ve been listening to. My commute, which includes a ferry wait on most days, has also ensured that I have at least a little time for knitting each day. I have a few sweaters that still need to make their way off the needles and some big shawls that I’ve started, so I’ll have some good FOs to start 2017 with too.

This was also a great year for spinning. I have played with a lot of different fibers, including alpaca and a bamboo/merino blend, among the wool types. I’ve also ventured into working with both natural dyes and acid dyes. I just recently got a new wheel that is much more versatile, so I anticipate doing a lot more spinning and dyeing in the coming year as well.

I took a class on repurposing sweaters in November. Since then, I’ve found a few thrifted sweaters. I have deconstructed one and knitted several hats from the yarn so far. I think this will be something that I’ll definitely continue into next year.

On my final two goals: my sewing did not really take off this year. I had a few minor successes, but I am still trying to figure out how to better fit sewing into my routine.

I think the biggest development was a surprise one that I did not expect. I have had the great fortune of beginning to sell some knitted items at a local shop. That development has led to some great connections with other local makers. The end of 2016 has left me feelings of great promise for the coming year.

I hope everyone had a productive 2016. I’m looking forward to continuing making in the coming year and seeing what others are exploring as well.

Reflecting: on being “busy” and “finding the time”

Over the past year or two, I have made a conscious effort to stop describing myself as “busy.” I am still quite busy with a full-time job, school-aged daughter, and just life, but I’ve stopped allowing being busy define how or who I am. It was my default for a long time, and I realized it didn’t make me sound happy, fulfilled or balanced. Consequently, I don’t think I ever really felt very happy, fulfilled or balanced. And, let’s face it: everyone is busy in their own way, so it just doesn’t mean much to describe yourself in that way. 

Acquaintances often ask me how I “have the time” to create and make as much as I do. Sometimes, it feels like I am being judged, but when I think of the people who are asking me this, they are the first to describe themselves as “busy.” Making and creating is how I maintain my sanity. But, that is not the case for everyone, so I often think they view it as something I must stress out over. It is a major priority for me, so I make an effort to engage in something creative every day. So, here is how I “find the time” 

  • I bring my projects everywhere with me. If I have a wait (which I do every day since I commute on the ferry), I knit. 
  • I am fortunate to have a husband who is supportive of my craft. But, in general, he does not leave all of the household chores for me to do, so I do get more time to work on projects
  • I have taught my daughter to knit and do some of the things I enjoy, so she participates with me, and we connect around making together. 
  • If we are watching a show at night, I spend the time knitting — I very rarely just “veg out” 
  • I am a major introvert, so I don’t go out much or hold myself to a lot of social obligations. 

I’d love to hear how others find the time for themselves to engage in what makes them happy too. 

Slow Fashion October Week 1: you (well me) 

For all the details on Slow Fashion October head over to the Fringe Association blog.

The theme for the first week is “you,” and we are supposed to introduce ourselves, our craft(s), and how we got interested in slow fashion.

So, me…

I live in the Pacific Northwest, but originally come from California. I am a speech language pathologist by day. I have a fabulous husband and daughter, who are often the recipients of my handmade items.

I first learned to knit when I was in college at the University of Oregon. I was a linguistics major, but I was able to take the class through the craft center. My first project was a hat for my boyfriend (who is now my husband).

I knitted on and off, and I mainly made hats and accessories through college, my year off and grad school. During that time,  I often knit things that I wasn’t even sure I’d wear or that would suit me (I once knit a cabled tube top – I’ve never worn tube tops).  I also didn’t pay much attention to what kinds of yarn I was using. Being a lowly student, I had a tendency to shop based on price. I also had a bad habit of buying yarn when I didn’t have a specific yarn in mind. These things led to sometimes dissatisfying knitting experiences. I kept on, and knitted a lot for myself, my daughter, and husband.

I also took a sewing class through the craft center while at UO. It was hard for me to get into it as much because it is such a production, and you can’t take it everywhere with you, like you can with knitting. The other thing about sewing is that seems to much more permanent. Measure twice, cut once…I love that with knitting when I make a mistake, it is almost always fixable (and when it’s not, you can always frog, and then yarn is still usable). In any case, my sewing skills are emerging. I have a sewing machine and a serger. I’ve made a few things for myself (maxi skirts mostly). I have also repurposed some old shirts into new clothes for Little One. I’m great at straight lines (most days), but I’m still working on becoming a better sewist.

Recently, I also learned how to spin, and I purchased a spinning wheel. Making my own yarn is amazing! I love getting closer and closer to the source of my fiber. My hope is that eventually, I will own my own sheep and be able to go from farm to sweater. We got one step closer this year by buying a 5 acre parcel on Whidbey Island, WA.

Me & Slow Fashion

My interests in slow fashion have developed mostly over the past year or so. A lot of it has been due to embracing the community of makers more. Instagram, Ravelry, blogs, and podcasts have had a big influence in my considering my choices more closely. I now choose patterns, yarns, and fabrics for items that I will wear and love. After thinking more about where my clothes, fabric, and yarn come from, I realized what a positive or negative social and environmental impact my choices could have. As tempting as it can be to pick up that $5 shirt from target, I try to remember that there is a high social, economic and environmental cost to buying that shirt.

There’s also a huge amount of pride in making clothes for myself and my family. My daughter is always pleased with the unique items I make for her. I am fairly fortunate that store bought clothes seem to suit me well enough. But, it still feels good to be able to make what I like in the color and style that I like without feeling like I’m a slave to a store.

Me & Slow Fashion Month 

This month, my hope to tackle a few sewing projects. The Lou Box Top is first on my list. I’m participating in a few knit alongs, so I have a cowl and a cardigan that I’ll be working on as well.

I also hope that by participating I can continue to become more active in the community of makers around me.

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