Scraps to Joyful Shawl

What began on 1st of December as 25 small balls of leftover yarn from years of big projects has made my December a bit more mindful, a bit more creative. I am proud to have completed the first wearable thing I created as I went without any plan and “painting” with scraps, texture and color. Turned out a good 75″ wingspan and 36″ depth.

I took it to the labyrinth to photograph on a nearby mossy log. Walking the labyrinth as is my New Year tradition, (give or take – I know it’s not quite New Year’s Eve, but I’m a working gal) I asked for and received auspicious signs for my 2020 dreams. Labyrinths always allow me to come away with clearer mind, even if walked in the gently dripping fog as today.

Wishing you a joyous New Year, decade, everything, rest of our lives, tomorrow.

My word for 2019 was Welcome, and boy did I let go of a ton of stuff: 15 years of belongings, reminders of past traumas, housing, grown daughter, self-image, and welcomed in some change by the end. 2020 is shaping up to be a year of Create. It’s really the only word that fuels my fire at the moment. Create, create, create. Create new way of working each evening after finishing up old way of working to pay bills. Create new designs. Create stable living space. Create collaborations. By end of 2020, I want to be transformed by creating.

How about you?

Thanks to Molly of Buddha Doodles, whose work has inspired me for almost a decade
Cannot begin to describe how every page of this gift from my daughter fills my soul and heart, because I live it.

Advent Yarn Calendar Week 2

Experimenting with increases created a feathering effect at the top before I reverted back to triangular structure. Seems half my scraps are in the red/yellow category and half in the blue/purple. It will definitely be a funky, one-of-a-kind shawl, but possibly not as ugly as I first thought, once washed and flattened. With different yarn weights, I’m doubling up the thin ones.

Yesterday got notice there is a planned power outage all day Friday where I live, forcing me to be unable to work. It’s hard for me to miss more than half a day out of 7 and still make bills, and Saturday is already scheduled for a family holiday gathering, so I was a bit nervous. But as luck would have it, a large amount of work came in to allow me to make up for it by working late nights. Someone’s watching out for me. : ) Looking forward to a day of hanging out knitting gifts somewhere that’s warm.

Normally I don’t have a Christmas tree. I never really wanted one, since I worship trees where they are. But this year, I got a potted miniature red/white rose instead. I enjoy it!

My spirituality is nearly inexplicable to anyone else, but I’m happy with it. I don’t consider myself Christian but grew up loving Advent calendars and lighting a candle each week leading up to Christmas. I practice Buddhist meditation, have studied Buddhism quite a bit, but don’t belong to a group or particular branch of Buddhism. I believe in angels, love Tarot and oracle cards as divination tools and feel close to spirit realm daily. I literally never feel alone.

For years, I’ve appreciated the practices created on Zen Habits blog. Whenever I can, I find it helpful to sign up for a month or two of the Sea Change program to focus on a specific topic or habit. This month it’s the Sacred Bow Challenge, and it’s allowing me to do a year review in an entirely new way. If anyone’s looking for an affordable program to methodically review your past year and set intentions for the new, it’s fun and enlightening.

Nature’s art during forest bathing – walking in the woods is my favorite medicine

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