December Yarn Calendar

Two Advent calendars

A few years ago when I first became aware of yarn companies selling Advent calendars of mini-skeins for hundreds of dollars, I thought, what a brilliant marketing scheme. And I used to feel left out. Until I finally did something about it this year and made little bags from my stash yarn as a gift to myself and other(s). I’d seen a few on social media post about this idea, but dagnabbit, I’m done with sitting on the sidelines.

While making 50 little balls of yarn took me longer than anticipated, several evenings this week, I now have one for myself and one to share. Wanted to post and pass along this lovely idea of a beautiful way to gift yourself and others by using whatever supplies are in your own stash, in case anyone should care to make their own. The cool thing about these inexpensive, nylon bags is, you can reuse them year after year, though finding a more sustainable material – like knitting one’s own bags to put one’s own balls of yarn in – would be super cool.

I’ll be starting a linen stitch small blanket or wrap by pulling and knitting a random yarn ball each day from the 1st through 25th. I grew up with the tradition of lighting an Advent candle each Sunday before Christmas without being religious, so I will post a photo of my progress each Sunday with the candle(s) of that week on this blog. To me personally, any ritual where we bring more light to the darkest season is helpful and healing. If anyone else wants to join in, let me know what you are making in the comments, or join on social media the #ciastashcal.

Excruciatingly Slow Building

A winter pattern in process – a tube cowl with half white on black, half black on white, of nature elements found on Whidbey Island

I had been on a mailing list for over a year for SWATCH Studio, a wonderful online network for knit designers, new and not so new. September, a note popped into my inbox that new members were being accepted for a brief window. I thought there’s no way I can manage this now. But noticing scholarships were available changed my mind, so I applied and graciously was accepted for a year access. I worked ten, 14-hour days to afford the fee, and walked in the door.

I’ve found many folks who are as busy or with more commitments than I managing to do the work and creating gorgeous things. What is absolutely brilliant about it is, everyone is encouraged to commit to 30 minutes a day. That’s it. Because my job relies so heavily on my arms and so does knitting, I end up doing an hour one day, skip the next, but averaging any given week 30 minutes a day in one of the following activities: Reviewing educational masterclasses, going through instructional videos on specific topics of design, tech editing, math, pattern writing, publishing software. One day a week I participate in a Zoom accountability group of three Pacific Northwest designers.

On the one hand, I’m finding myself amazed at how much it is possible to get done by committing to 30 minutes a day on anything. On the other hand, it feels excruciatingly slow with my pace of working seven days a week to pay bills. I have three patterns in the works, but honestly, because there are so many steps to professional pattern writing, at this pace I question whether I will get my first pattern published before next September.

My pattern goals: A light shawl based on a flower/leaf, a capelet based on turkey tail mushroom, and this cowl here by winter 2020, unless I decide to forgo all the steps of setting up my brand format, tech editing and test knitters, and just get it out there post New Year. Probably not a great way to start a second income stream.

Everything I create will be grounded in elements from the natural world around me, and once I get a platform set up, a big part of my mission is to support groups involved in restoration & regeneration of our ecosystem and soil, like global tree-planting groups, organic farm schools, and like-minded programs local to me. When possible, I’m using wool from local to me sources from local animals, like Abundant Earth Fiber’s cinnamon Merino/Targhee in the cowl design.

Today a little daydream of a scenario popped into my mind. Since to meet my current needs requires me to work daily without weekends, and since 30 minutes a day is great but frustratingly slow for absorbing coursework, teaching oneself software, sketching, designing and creating samples, I wondered what it would feel like to have 30 days of my bills magically covered to give me one solid month to devote to getting my infrastructure in place.

Pondering whether it crosses some ethical no-man’s land to do crowdfunding for a month’s living expenses with a clear schedule outline of what you intend to get accomplished with your time. I’ve seen people do such a thing for travel with a purpose, so why not creating with a purpose? I’m considering this.

Vignola – Top wool on steep sale, Oasis from Expression Fiber Arts,
bottom cake from Fidalgo Artisan Yarns Radiant DK as payment for test knitting

Always need to have a piece of on-the-go knitting I can take anywhere, something more mindless than chart work or design. This is my second Vignola, the result of a two-week love affair with mauve that no longer calls me so much. I intend to make this larger than the pattern with a third ball of charcoal gray, since most shawls are expandable and never seem quite large enough to stay on the shoulders for warmth. I’ve given away all but one of the more than 25 shawls I’ve made for this reason, something I’m keeping in mind for design.

I’m not so into Christmas whoo-ha, but this year I decided to create my own little advent calendar out of stash yarn, where I am wrapping tiny bundles of different colors, one for each day from Dec 1-25, with the intention to build a linen stitch blanket with the random colors, knitting one bundle each night. I’m making an identical “calendar” to give someone else as well. Great way to use up yarn available to me in a methodical, joyful way before anything new comes in the door in 2020.

Thanks to Ciasbod Poddar for the idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWW-zbcwE2g