Some other stuff I do

If you follow me on Instagram, I’m transitioning to two separate Instagram profiles — one for Twisted Yarns and one for my personal Instagram account. Both are public and I invite you to follow both accounts.

Little known fact:
Years ago — before I discovered knitting, I was designing and selling my own rubber stamp designs. I was journaling daily, and creating new stamps to use in my journal and on my handmade cards. In 7+ years of stamping, I made hundreds of cards and filled many journals. However,  a move from North Carolina to Texas in early 2003, meant packing away most of my supplies until we could transition from temporary apartment housing to our home. My craft supplies didn’t make it out of boxes for months and when they did, I had no room to spread out and work. It was frustrating to have lost a fulfilling creative outlet.

As the holidays loomed that year, I was getting really antsy to make things and I found, which led me to dozens of inspiring knitting blogs. Within a few weeks, I had purchased yarn and knitting needles to teach myself how  to knit dishcloths and found new homes for some of my stamp supplies. I licensed my stamp designs to an online stamping site and devoted myself to my new knitting hobby. I still continued journaling and using my stamps, but on a much smaller scale. By the end of the following year, I was working at Twisted Yarns and had officially adopted my new obsession. Knitting was portable, and I could meet with other knitters and take it everywhere. Most of my time was spent driving kids to school and waiting in long car rider lines. Knitting was essential!

It was about this time last year when Instagram Explore led me to creators and makers who were using stamps in many different applications (Project Life, Traveler’s Notebooks, Art Journals, and memory keeping in general) — and it came back in to my life on a much smaller, more focused scale, not so product-heavy this time. I know what I like and I’m back to journaling daily, keeping things portable and requiring a smaller footprint for the pockets of time that I find to spread out my supplies and create things. AND. There are new stamp designs in the works that I can’t wait to share!

Ironically, this new focus and engagement has helped kickstart my knitting mojo — which, for me, has always been more about the process and the possibilities rather than the end product. You can expect to see more variety on my personal Instagram.

Returning with knitting

Alexandra's Airplane Scarf

Last week, I  remembered that writing helps me to organize my thoughts and chart my life. I also remembered that upheaval of this routine means creative chaos. And creative chaos creates anxiety. So, this one area that I’ve neglected — blogging — has been very crippling and it’s spilled over into everything.  My first tactic is to begin posting on Mondays again. Writing on Monday sets the tone for my week and allows me to look at what I’ve done in the past week and what I’ll do THIS week.

I started this scarf intending it to be a mindful, relaxing knit — something easy to pick up and put down. Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf is knit in the round on a larger needle than the yarn typically calls for (in this case, Kidsilk Haze Stripe — but can be used with any lace weight yarn and a 5.00 mm circular needle). Although I started it when nights were cool and having the scarf-in-progress on my lap made me cozy and warm, I finished it during a hot, humid Houston July. I love it.



Outline Shawl : Progress

My latest project: Outline Shawl, designed by Beata Jezek of Hedgehog Fibres. In spite of my legendary short attention span, this project is nearly complete. I’ve rushed downstairs every morning to squeeze in some knitting time before work. Those minutes have added up — only about a foot more to go. Color sequence is Villain, Teacup, Whisper, Cinder, and Pollen – more details on my Ravelry project page, linked above.

Outline Shawl

Almost a year later . . .

Almost a year later, and every single day, you think about how much you miss blogging here in your little space. And yet. You haven’t carved out the time for it, which is what you do when there’s something you miss.

But. Deep breath.

Turn it around and think of all that you managed to accomplish while you silently acknowledged those things that you missed.

Ah. I have missed you.

Focus on the GOOD

As of July 1, I am the new owner of Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas. I’m thrilled to be working with my friends and spending time with customers I’ve known for years.

Twisted Yarns

Life threw a lot at me the past four months, but I’m learning that I can survive really hard things — and that I can choose what to focus on and celebrate and appreciate the things that give me hope. Over the years, Twisted Yarns has been haven, escape, and inspiration for me. It was the vision of the previous owners, Eve and Shelley, to create a welcoming community of fiber lovers. That will remain my core focus and goal, with the added imperative to have fun!

March Socks : Embossed Leaves

Did March sneak up on you like it snuck up on me? I hardly feel like I got to enjoy February — or find much time to knit. I didn’t get to choose my March sock of the month until last week, and while I knew the pattern I wanted to use was Embossed Leaves, I wasn’t inspired by the yarn I had initially matched it with. I also didn’t have the right size double pointed needles for the other possibilities. In my search for a substitute, I fell in love with a skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 from the Art Walk Series (“Iris“).  I can usually resist most of the  beguiling yarns that arrive at the shop where I work, but the idea of a yarn being a limited edition edition colorway can be irresistible. Ultimately though, when I cast on with the DPNs I had, I knew the Serenity 20 wasn’t going to work. Because I was committed to using Embossed Leaves, I did some quick rearranging of sock of the month projects and cast on with Colinette Jitterbug (“Vincent’s Apron”) instead:

Embossed Leaves

I am SO pleased with this combination and it’s been a very quick knit (helped along by marathon viewing sessions of Scandal).

There was also another potential sock option in the wings, however, because I wanted to reacquaint myself with Magic Loop. So I cast on for yet another sock — different yarn. More on that soon (and if you keep up with my Instagram, you might already know which yarn I am using).

February Socks : Marilinda

It’s time to reveal my February Sock of the Month:

February Sock of the Month

I’ve had Cookie A‘s Marilinda sock pattern in my queue since August, 2011. I love her sock design sensibilities and own both Knit. Sock. Love. and Sock Innovation. Do you have those knitting books that you always keep handy for inspiration? For me, that’s usually sock books. A worthy volume usually has a good combination of patterns that are easy to execute, followed by a majority of patterns that are slightly more challenging and require close attention to charts, and finally, at least one pattern that would represent a huge challenge. Marilinda falls in the middle group.

Because I’ve always pictured this sock in a bright pink or red, I chose the “Raspberry” colorway in Cascade Heritage Silk. The model in the book was knit with regular Cascade Heritage — sans silk — and I really felt like I wanted the slight sheen you get from the addition of a little bit of silk (mulberry silk, in this case).

Cascade Heritage Silk

Stay tuned here and on Ravelry! My loose guideline (notice: not a “rule”) is that I finish just one Marilinda by the end of the month.

Random notes:

Other Sock of the Month blog entries

If you have a minute, read this post written by a knitblogger whose sock knitting thought processes (and rationale for purchasing yarn and needles!) I could identify with. Here are her finished Marilindas.

January Socks : Shur’tugal

Alice Yu’s sock designs are wonderful. They’re just challenging enough to keep me enthralled, with familiar elements for a sock knitter like me who prefers to knit her socks one at a time, cuff-down, with a heel flap, on DPNs. (However, all of her sock patterns can be used with the Magic Loop method or knitted in the round on two circular needles). I purchased her book, Socktopus, when I realized that she didn’t offer her patterns as individual Ravelry downloads. Fair enough though, because there are already several of her sock designs in my queue, and the book is a better value than buying several individual patterns. I knit Shur’tugal with Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20, in one of their One-of-a-Kind colorways. While this isn’t going to be my hardiest pair of socks (what with the cashmere and all), they are luxurious and warm. And super soft.

Shur’tugal was my study break sock last semester, and I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to finish the pair. But then it got cold, and I knit the second sock in record time so I could wear them! That’s when I realized that having a finished first sock in the bank (so to speak) gave me instant motivation — finishing just ONE sock is far less daunting to me than starting and finishing TWO. This dovetails perfectly with my sock-of-the-month plan. I’ve designated a second bin as my Sock Bank — where single socks wait patiently for their knitter to decide to knit them a mate. I have loose guidelines about this, but one thing remains inviolate: everything related to the project has to be intact in a labeled (project name and date) plastic zipper bag — yarn, pattern, notes, and needles (if practical).

With my tendency to find starting a sock most appealing when I’m stressed, I have some lovely single socks ready to go in the Sock Bank. I’m not worried about deadlines (well, when am I ever when it comes to knitting?) because handknit socks and having warm feet in the winter are always in fashion.


Not going anywhere

Despite all evidence to the contrary, and for those who have wondered and sent thoughtful emails, I am not going anywhere — and neither is my blog home! The blog break was unintentional, but I leaned in to it. I recently decided that I’m taking this semester off from school and am not enrolled in any classes. Instead, I’m really looking forward to spending quality time with my yarn!

Sock planning session

Last week, I had a fun planning session related to my sock knitting queue. I love knitting socks, and I want to honor that this year, because time and knitting opportunities are precious. Since I already have (and continually seek) more sources of sock knitting inspiration than anything else (books, individual patterns, Pinterest, Ravelry), I am excited about my idea. (Obviously, I also have the stash to support it). I am not ashamed to admit that I focused on a plan that works out in my favor:

Sock of the Month plan

Short version of my plan: I get to start a new sock on the first of every month. To make the decision making process easier, I am working ahead to match patterns to stash, printing out hard copies of patterns (or referring to the book or digital source) and placing yarn, pattern, and related notions in a plastic zipper bag. I can choose one bag every month, and leave the bin undisturbed till I get another “turn” the following month. (Hat tip to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who had a similar idea a few years back). Eight months later, she updated that the system was really working out for her. The main difference between her plan and mine is that I don’t have to intend to complete a pair before I start a sock project on the first of the month. (After all, it’s my plan and I can do as I want, right?) Also, my rules are loose enough that I’m not going to blindly choose a bag — I’ll decide when I open the bin which project I want to knit.

Guess who’s looking forward to February 1st?

Ann Norling #35: Feather and Fan

I started this blanket over a year ago and the intended recipient is already one year old. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter to have ever done this, right? My kids all loved blankets well into their grade school years and my daughter still has her favorite blanket, so I think it will still be well received.

It was my first time using Cascade Pacific, a machine-washable blend of merino (40%) and acrylic (60%). As soon as it was off the needles, I washed it on the delicate cycle with a small squirt of Soak (Lacey) and dried it in my dryer — it laundered beautifully. It’s a great choice for baby afghans.

The pattern is a classic and I’ve used it before — Fantastic Eyelet Crib Blanket.

Purple Feather and Fan
Feather and Fan with Cascade Pacific

What about you? What are your favorite blanket patterns for babies?

Even though I had it on the needles for over a year, it’s actually a quick knit. The pattern is easily memorized and it’s great TV knitting. I don’t knit much while I’m in school, so I’m catching up on my WIPs now that it’s summer. I have a lot to share (and not all of it is knitting — think jewelry!)

Feather & Fan
Feather & Fan with Cascade Pacific