a pair of socks!

Once upon a time I knit socks quickly. As in weeks (or a weekend for footie socks). This pair for E was started on November 20th … 2016. I finished them on November 25, 2017. I think that’s a record and not one that I hope to repeat.

What took so long? The first time I knit them I inadvertently sized them to fit me. So I ripped out the heels, knit additional foot length and tried again. E reports that they fit perfectly.

They incorporate Amy Detjen’s Favorite Toe-Up Socks and my normal toe, which I think is from Miriam Felton’s Footie Socks.

What’s next? I’m knitting a pair of gloves from Kate Atherley‘s new book, Knit Mitts: Your Hand-y Guide to Knitting Mittens & Gloves. They’re the Houldsworth Glove and I’m making them in Anzula Gerty. Well, I’ll knit them if Buddy ever lets me!

shift shawl, stronger than ever

The greatest compliment I receive as a knitter is when an item I gifted is worn, loved, and now in need of repair due to use, not neglect.

That is the story of this shift shawl, designed by Larissa Brown. This photo collage is of the shawl back in March 2014 when I completed it.

I gifted it to my mother and she wore it constantly over the past three years. She wore it around the house, she wore it walking the dog, and I believe she wore it when out on the town. As we collected her things to begin her new chapter, I discovered the shawl needed some TLC. It sported a big hole and several other smaller issues that needed repair.

Shift Shawl - hole Shift Shawl dropped stitch

mending

My initial intent was to be sappy and patch this large hole with a heart.

In the end I decided to work with my Purl & Loop Minute Weaver and create a more durable patch for this particular hole. It feels somewhat fitting given my mother’s new hip. As she slowly regained strength, I worked on the patch. After sewing it in, I embroidered back in the chain of the center back to provide some visual continuity.

It’s not perfect, but I have confidence that it will hold up well.

Shift Shawl - patched

mended

I love the renewed shawl and thankfully so does she.

Shift Shawl - fully mended

It has a place of prominence in her new room when it’s not draped around her shoulders. It’s one of the first things she points out to anyone who visits her.

Shift Shawl loved

love is love in hidden rainbow

Earlier this month I finished making something for me, a handwoven cowl. Shadow and Buddy both were helpful cats and enjoyed helping me work through the project.

In December, Buddy helped me to direct warp onto the loom.

Buddy cat helps warp a rigid heddle loom.

Buddy helps me direct warp.

If you would like to learn how to direct warp, I urge you to check out any or all of the resources provided by Liz Gipson:

After warping Buddy watched me weave each week.

He started as an attentive and helpful cat, reminding me to beat evenly and to take my time so there weren’t skips.

Buddy Cat and rigid heddle loom

But after a while he wondered if I was done yet.

Photo of Buddy cat yawning while facing loom

Are you done yet?

And the moment I told him it was just about ready, he started to try it on.

It’s mine, right?

Of course, once it was completed, Shadow wanted in on the action. Moments after I cut it off the loom, he claimed it for his own.

Shadow cat asleep on folded woven fabric.

Everything is his.

After I finished the fabric and laid it out to dry, Shadow provided it his highest honour. It met Sock. Love is love.

woven fabric laid out to dry with cat toy touching.

love is love.

I hemmed it on my sewing machine with a short zigzag stitch and the walking foot. I then stitched the short ends together and have worn it many days since.

Woven Cowl

Project Details

Warp: fiberstory FAVE sock in Putty (a blueish grey)
Weft: Julianna’s Lucky Star Sock in Hidden Rainbow
12-dent rigid heddle
Ravelry project page.

(mostly) daily sketches

As a child, I learned that the most straightforward way to develop mastery was through regular practice. It doesn’t need to be for hours, 5 minutes most days will lead to improvement. Taking breaks are important too!

While I’m not spinning or weaving every day, I now work on both crafts regularly. That has lead to improvements in what I spin and what I weave (even when I make mistakes).

However, there’s one skill I’d hoped to be more confident with by now. I realized why I wasn’t is due to lack of practice. I want to be able to doodle and sketch Shadow, Buddy, and the foster kittens. Taking photos is one thing, but I really want to be able to draw them.

I have a style when I doodle my tea and the weather in my planner. That style feels right for those items in that context and is straight forward. I can even draw them while still mostly asleep.

The few sketches of pets to-date that I feel are successful have a different style, one I’m not even sure how to describe other than it feels right for them.

However, when I attempt to consciously use that style, they turn out stilted and not at all how I want.

I know I need to turn these sorts of sketches into something I do frequently so that the sketching is muscle memory.

Emboldened and energized from the lessons I found in Dare to Sketch, I purchased a $5 sketchbook. As an added reward (sometimes I reward myself before I begin) I also upgraded my mini paint set to a nicer 12 half-pan set. This tiny splurge has incentivized me to keep practicing!

my 5 steps for building a habit for daily sketches

At this phase of mastery, for me, it is actually quantity over quality. I need to keep working on it no matter how each attempt turns out. Each session will teach me something, even if it’s not the lesson I expected when I started.

  1. I schedule 15 minutes for 5 days of sketching out of every seven. Sometimes it’s easier to sketch late at night on the weekend than it is at any other time during the week. The goal is to try to be flexible within a framework. Sometimes I only sketch 3 days out of 7. Sometimes I feel the desire to sketch multiple times in a day.
  2. I’ve lowered every barrier I can to make sure I sketch that day. I have a cheap sketchbook I don’t stress about using nor am I embarrassed to bring it out in public. The first marking tool that comes to hand is the one I to make the day’s sketch; sometimes it’s a 4H pencil, at others it’s a felt tip pen. My worst case scenario is an app on my tablet and I draw with my finger. It’s surprised me at how easy and free those sketches feel.
  3. I have a chart with the goal of not breaking the chain. I’m currently using an app to help me manage the 5 out of 7 days criteria. I enjoy filling out a habit checklist either digitally or on paper (some inspiration).
  4. Each session is approached with intention to learn something. Even if it’s “write those pens dry as they don’t play well with watercolour!”
  5. Rewards help! In this case, I rewarded myself before I even began this new habit with the watercolour set upgrade.

Other lessons

I’m taking other lessons from Dare to Sketch and trying not to go in order through the pages. Where the book opens I try to use that page. It’s very hard to skip around. That said, the first pages include a table of the colours of my paint set and some of the mixing combinations that I tend to forget. I’m also trying to use whatever is at hand to sketch when it’s time for the day’s practice session.

What have I learned? It’s reinforced that I’ll need lots of practice to draw cats! It’s easier for me to draw signs and flower pots! I’ve borrowed even more books so I can work on perspective (something I used intuitively as a child) and general feline shape. I know the theory and am not always diligent to draw in preliminary lines to guide me to a successful sketch. I often draw myself into an impossible corner.

I’m trying to use less watercolour, which sounds counter intuitive at first. It’s very tempting for me to cover every part of the page with paint. Some attempts go better than others.

Favourites to date:

Maggie at her dinner bowl wins as my favourite so far. I had a kitten trying to climb my leg as I drew.

I love the freedom I felt as I sketched and painted the sign at the train station though wish I had stopped before the ink ran.

The digital sketch of a cat from my brain makes me happy and reminded me to stop overthinking and to step back and simply draw. It was late at night, I was tired.

Additional Thoughts

While there is a time and place for the best tools and supplies I can afford, for me there is something incredibly beneficial to practicing with those that I’m not stressed about using up or ruining. I think this is what gives me the freedom to experiment, to play, to learn.

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God.

Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired. ~Martha Graham, 1953

Additional Resources

#yearofmaking, the third year

I decided that this, my third year participating in the #yearofmaking creativity challenge is my final year. I have loved every minute of it and see significant growth in my ability to create. However, taking the photos and sharing to social media has begun to be a drag.

I don’t doubt I’ll continue to make every.single.day. It’s a part of who I am.

I just won’t necessarily post daily.

That said, I don’t see myself stopping from some of my themed days anytime soon, the #tuesdaysareforspinning, #wednesdaysareforweaving, #psgswatches on Saturdays, and the watercolouring I post on Fridays, but I might not do them every week and if a week or more goes by, a week or more goes by.

I’ve thought long and hard how to organize this post as there are almost 1096 photos to sift through. Therefore, I decided today to focus only on the fiber & needle arts. It was hard to leave others out, but these photos spoke to me those most.

I love cooking and cook almost every meal we eat. However, I have not made much progress on the art of photographing food and would rather not make you loose your appetite.

If you want to view the image larger than the gallery view, please click to see the attachment page.

Test & Sample work

Being confident enough to post my work on Instagram made me confident to take on more testing and sample work.

Spinning, Weaving, Swatches

Thanks to #tuesdaysareforspinning and Spinzilla, I gained enough confidence to take on sample spinning work! Those swatches are still my favourites to date.

Weaving is a new way for me to enjoy yarns and fibers in different ways. With my rigid heddle and swatchmaker looms I’ve finally begun to feel the rhythm of weaving and I’m in love.

Doodling and Painting

This was a surprise. I discovered I was unable to doodle in my notes or while on conference calls. This was paralyzing to me. I undertook a special 30 day project to draw and doodle and during this learned I loved watercolouring. It’s wonderful to have a creative hobby.

If you want to learn more about the #yearofmaking project, I highly suggest checking out Kim Werker’s ebook. Kim took Miriam‘s brilliant idea and nurtured and grew it. I highly encourage you to participate in this or some other challenge. I know I will reap the benefits of these three years of deliberate daily practice for a long time to come.