Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On the Yarn Train to Portland

Up at 3:30 a.m. to be on time to my friend Keisha's house by 5:15 a.m., so that we can get the bus to the light rail to downtown Seattle King Street Station, so that we can catch the Amtrak Yarn Train to Portland.

This was my first foray on the yarn train and my trusty navigating sidekick was with me (Keisha - who I don't know what I would have done without her) so I knew I was going to have a good day.

We arrived at King Street station and ran into knit-buddy Carrie and her friends who were also taking the 7:25 a.m. train to Portland - FUN TIMES!


After arriving in Portland (Union Station), Keisha mapped out our travel for the day. And off we went.

First stop was Northwest Wools. Nice little shop and I bee-lined it to the big display of Madelintosh - I didn't buy any but it was nice to just feel the softness of the yarn and see all the beautiful colors. I did end up buying some Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton in red and orange and a discounted notions bag by the Knitting Bee.


Next stop, Pearl Fiber Arts. Really liked this shop, ended up buying some Cotton Classic Lite from Tahki Yarns in white for the penguin bag charm/keychains I'm making.

Lion Brand Amigurumi Penguin

Next stop, Knit Purl. I bought a new knitting bag, which I love, but it was more out of necessity than wanting a new bag - the bag I brought along to carry my belongings was on the verge of ripping, so new Knit Purl bag it is! Also, here I was eyeing this really beautiful yarn that was super soft (Alpha B Yarn - Sexy B) I didn't see any colors that I was in love with, so I noted the yarn and decided I would maybe buy some at a later date.


Last stop, Dublin Bay Knitting Company. I talked myself out of buying the Cascade Superwash that was going to use for a gift for my brother and his wife who are having twins. I really liked this shop. It was very quaint and I really loved their displays.

We made it to 4 out of the 7 shops on the tour, because I was just too pooped to go any further, so we went to Powell's Books instead. And this is what I call a bookstore, we didn't spend too much time here because we wanted to make sure we made it back in time to catch the 6:50 p.m. train home.

So on our way back to the train station we thought we would stop for some doughnuts - Voodoo Doughnuts of course!


But after seeing how long the line was we decided it probably wasn't a good idea, we didn't want to miss our train. We walked back to the train station and settled on ice-cream instead, yes I know, not the same as a Voodoo Doughnut but what could we do. No sooner did we sit down to enjoy our ice-cream, we both received a text message on our phones that the 6:50 p.m. train was delayed to 7:30 p.m.! We were so upset, we could have totally waited in the line at Voodoo and got a doughnut instead - Oh well maybe next time!

Our train left and we headed home - I didn't reach my lovely bed until 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning! All-in-all a great trip, I can't wait to do it again next year....with my trusty navigator Keisha of course.



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting Down to the Wire

It's only 7 days until Christmas and I haven't finished hardly any of my gift knitting. I will definitely be late again this year.

I'm currently working on a pair of socks for my niece. They are the cutest socks I've made so far:


I Heart Toe Up Socks by Wendy D. Johnson

My list includes this year:

Washington:
Sister - hasn't decided what she wants & Boyfriend - purple beanie
Nephew - black hat and scarf
Niece - socks (above)

Maryland:
Sister - cowl
2 Nieces - maybe socks or slippers
2 Nephews - hats

New York:
Sister - scarf
Nephew & Girlfriend - stockings (personalized with names)
Grandniece - matching stocking
Grandnephew - matching stocking

Virginia
Brother & Girlfriend - matching stockings (personalized)

Texas:
Sister & Husband - socks
2 Nephews - Texas Longhorn headband and socks

As you can see my list is long and I've only started on a pair of socks for my niece last weekend.

I did see this cool wrapping paper of a knitted Santa, that is being shared on Facebook which is only sold in the UK. I liked it so much I made my own chart from it and I'm sharing it with all of you. I hope you can get some use from it. I think I will be making some stockings with it.


 

I'm jealous of all of you who have finished your gift knitting, for those of you who are still knitting, good luck, I hope you get done in time!

Happy knitting, and if you get a chance come share your gift knitting here or on my Facebook page.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Giving Handmade Only This Year

I've decided to go all handmade this year. I pledge to not buy any store bought gifts this year. All my family and friends will get a knit or crochet item from me.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I made my list of who I'm giving gifts to and ideas on what I could make for them. I'm finding it fun to try to figure out what would be a good gift for each. I'm trying to base my selections on the person's personality and what I know of them from what they wear or shown interest in when I post on my Facebook page.

I've gotten a few orders from a few friends and co-workers, like four hats for my friend Judith who needs them for her three boys and husband. Two co-workers want a Seahawks 12th Man hat that I designed.


Another co-worker wants a pair of the Pocketbook Slippers for her son. I made a pair as an example to see how they were made and how they would fit and brought them to work to show off to friends and immediately got a request for a pair. I really liked the ease of which these are made so I've decided to give them as gifts this year.




What are some of your handmade items this year? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Where has the time gone...the holidays are here again!

Do you find yourself wondering where the time went? I do, I feel like I was just enjoying the long hot summer and now already we are days away from Thanksgiving and a few short weeks away from Christmas! It's amazing how fast the time flies.

I did a lot of knitting this year, but I only signed up for a few shows. I'm hoping next year I will be able to get into more holiday shows. After taking a year off from the craft show and farmer's markets, I think I'm ready to get back into it. I will spend the next few months knitting/crocheting even more so that when spring and summer roll around I will have a nice selection of items to sell.

For this holiday season, I participated in the outdoor Renton Fall Festival in October, and it got completely rained out within a few hours. The rain and wind was so bad, I thought my canopy was going to blow away, even with the weights holding it down.

I also participated for the first time this year in the Emerald Downs Holiday Gift Festival on November 14th and 15th. It was a good experience considering it was my first time there. I didn't make as much as I thought I would, but I figure I'll try again next year and see what happens. My biggest seller were my lip balm key chains. I made a few in the Seahawks colors and I sold almost all of them.


On Saturday, November 21st I will be at the 6th Annual Pre-Black Friday Holiday Bazaar at Renton Technical College from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Some items you will see at this event are:

Skull and Crossbones Headband 100% Acrylic 




Flower embellished headbands
Grey 100% Acrylic
Maroon 75% Acrylic, 25% Wool

Hat & Fingerless Mitts Set
100% Merino Wool
Pint-Sized Pine Cone Ornaments
Holiday Ball Ornaments
So come on out and get your holiday shopping done early, there will be handcrafted items that will make wonderful unique holiday gifts. Check out the list of vendors that will be there. Also, go to the Facebook page for more information at Pre-Black Friday Holiday Bazaar.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Holidays are over, what are you knitting?

The holiday season is over and what are you knitting? Usually around this time, I'm taking stock of my inventory, but since I didn't do any production knitting last year I really don't have much stock to inventory.

A few weeks before Christmas, I sent out an email letting friends and family know that I had product that I wanted to let go of and so I let them pick through the items I still had on hand and let them take whatever they wanted so they could give them as gifts to their friends and family. Whatever was left over, I decided I would give to charity. I spent a few hours scouring the web to find charities that would take hats and cowls that I didn't sell. I found one on twitter that actually contacted me last year, called Emily's Hats for Hope. Emily is trying to reach a goal of 25,000 hats this year and I am happy to help her with her goal.

Now I'm starting fresh with my inventory and I've already began stocking up again with new items:

Hat/Cowl 2-in-1. Made using Lion Brand Heartland
in colorway called 126 Sequoia
Malabrigo Neck Thingie and Malabrigo Hand Thingies by
Anne Sahakian. Made using Lion Brand Landscapes
Baby Set (0-3 mos.) Apple Blossom Cardigan by Sarah Franklin,
Fleegle's Seamless Saartje Booties by SusanGlinert Stevens,
and Eyelet Baby Hat, by Brigitte Lang

These are few of the types of new items I will have available in my Etsy store. I'm looking forward to this coming year because I am also gearing back up to get into some new shows. I have been checking online to find local shows that I can sign up for. Once I have my applications submitted I will announce here and on my Facebook page where I will be for 2015.

Leave a comment to tell me what you are working on now that the holidays are behind us. And here's wishing you a happy new year and happy knitting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Staying focused and getting the gift knitting done

The holiday season is upon us. Well if you pay any attention to the store displays, ads, and TV commercials, the holiday season was upon us over a month ago in early October. It amazed me that stores were setting up for the holiday before we even made it to Halloween. But I digress, this post isn't about how the holidays creep up faster and faster every year, its about, how do you stop yourself from getting knitting sidetracked during this time of year.

For me, I find myself surfing Ravelry and AllFreeKnitting.com for patterns to knit for gifts or for myself. I get so excited about all the patterns that I want to try that I can't stay focused on knitting the actual gifts. Every year I struggle with this dilemma. This year I took time off from product knitting because I got really burned out trying to keep up with shows, farmer's markets, and trying to figure out what will sell and what people will buy (this is an on-going process, I still haven't figured out). It was also to give me time to get back to making gifts for my family and friends, which I've neglected over the past few years because I have been focused on product/custom knitting.

How do you keep your knitting on track? What tips and tricks can you share that help you to stay focused and get the gift knitting done and not end up sending Christmas gifts after the new year (which has been my trend for the last few years, which usually are not handmade - which is frustrating and disappointing).

Some ideas I've been using this year to keep me on track are:
  1. Once I'm home for the night, fed and taken out the dog, and I've had my dinner, I turn on my DVR'd shows and watch them back to back, which for me could be anywhere from 3 to 6 hours of shows, depending on when I decide to watch them. I totally unplug, I stay away from my phone which is a total distraction with apps like Pinterest, Facebook, email, etc. I totally engross myself in the shows that I'm watching and the needles just fly and before I know it I have a fingerless mitt done, or I'm able to get quite a few rows done of a cowl. I find this to be very rewarding and it keeps me motivated to go to the next project and get it done.
  2. At work when I'm on my lunch break, instead of browsing Ravelry like I normally do, I plug in some ear buds and listen to some music while I knit away, tuning out all that is going on in the office around me.
  3. I made a list of the items I want to give as gifts this year, I prioritized the list by difficulty and time it will take to complete. Once I've completed the item on the list I cross it off, this gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  4. And of course I reward myself when I complete an item on my list, by giving myself permission to browse patterns, check my Facebook or Pinterest page, or just giving myself my favorite piece of chocolate.
I'm finding that sticking to these simple little tricks have made it possible for me to get more done this year than I have in previous years. I'm also not feeling so overwhelmed with how much I have to get done.

For me one of the hardest parts of staying focused  and completing the tasks I set out to do, whether it's knitting, work, studying, etc. is keeping myself motivated. But I found that if I remind myself why its important to complete the task it helps me to stay motivated and focused on getting the task done, which for me the importance of completing my gift knitting is to give handmade gifts to my friends and family as well as get my Christmas gifts out on time this year.

While I was thinking about what I do to stay focused and motivated I did a search on the web to find some others tips and tricks to help stay focused and motivated and this what I found:

From How to Stay Focused at WikiHow.com:  

Make a to-do list. Making a to-do list at the beginning of every day or week can make you feel more focused and motivated to continue your work. If you make a list of all the things you have to do, no matter how small, you will feel more accomplished when you check those items off your list and move on to the next task. This will also keep you focused on one task at a time.   

Find your purpose. Having a purpose to finish your work will keep you motivated and will therefore keep you focused.Part of the reason we lose focus is because we can't see the point of whatever task we have to get done and would rather be doing something else. Once you find your purpose, write it down, or repeat it to yourself to keep your energies in the right place. Your purpose can be the key that unlocks the door to your focus. 

Pinpoint your goal. What is your goal for completing your task? The goal can be the carrot at the end of the stick that makes the task worth doing. 

Repeat your "focus mantra." When you know exactly what your purpose and goal are, you can create a focus mantra that you repeat to yourself whenever you get distracted. It can be just a simple phrase that you repeat when you're getting sidetracked that helps get you back in order.

Don't procrastinate. Procrastination is the thief of time. Avoid delaying any of your activities by leaving things to be done for tomorrow, next week, or next month. Rather have them done now and move on to the next project. 

From How to Stay Motivated at WikiHow.com

Remind yourself of your goals. Usually before devoting time to any specific endeavor, we tend to make short and long term goals. If you start to lose sight of your goals, then you may be less motivated than if you were always checking to see how much closer you are getting throughout the whole process. Keeping track of your goals and checking your progress can help keep you motivated day in and day out. 

Make weekly checkpoints to track your progress. Everyone needs to see how they are keeping up with their goals if they want to stay motivated. If you see that you are on track or even excelling every time you check your progress, you will be motivated and happy that you are getting there. If you see that you are lagging on your goals, it may be the kick start you need to help get you back on track.  

Make sure to reward yourself every time you achieve your weekly goals. This could be as simple as a bowl of ice cream after a long, hard week of working out. Or as rewarding as a trip to the spa for all your hard work. Whatever rewards will keep you going are the ones you should be giving yourself.

Give yourself breaks. Sometimes even the most determined people get overwhelmed. You may be burning yourself out, and a much needed break might be just what you need.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone falls short sometimes. If you fail to meet your goals for the week, don't get too emotional. Let yourself take it as a lesson. It's not always how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving. Don't dwell on failure, just accept it as a human occurrence, and continue working towards your goals. 


I hope some of these tips and tricks are helpful to you as well and they can be used for any task you set out to do. But if you have tips and tricks that help motivate you and keep you focused that weren't mentioned here, I'd like to hear from you. Tell me what keeps you focused and how you stay motivated when you have 10 more pairs of fingerless mitts to finish before Christmas!!!


Happy Knitting!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If you haven't started your holiday gift-knitting...now is the time

I've been slowly getting some holiday knitting done, in between a few custom orders. I recently finished two custom orders for owl hats with matching owl fingerless mitts.

Made using Kenzie by Hikoo by skacel
 50% wool, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% alpaca
using Kenzie by Hikoo by skacel
50% wool, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% alpaca

I'm currently working on a cowl that I've designed myself, with simple stitches like 2x2 ribbing, garter stitch, k2, p2 then p2, k2; giving the cowl some texture. I'm in the home stretch with it and I can't wait to see how it turns out after blocking. I'm using a yarn called Dolcetto by JoAnn Sensations. A bulky weight yarn that is 54% wool, 24% nylon and 22% cotton, this combination gives it a nice smooth feel and drapes really well once you block it.

I was very excited when a co-worker handed me a sandwich bag full of wine corks! Now I can make enough Pint Sized Pines for just about everyone on my holiday gift-knitting list. And no sooner than I posted the finished trees on my Facebook page, I got an order to make two of them right away.  A few days later I got another order to make four more! Good thing I got another bag of corks, I couldn't possibly drink enough wine to keep up with the orders!!!


I'm looking for more ideas for this holiday gift-knitting. What are your projects this year? What do you make to give as gifts? I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Knitting.