amanda

Favorite Projects & Books of Summer (so far!)

Here is what I love about summer:

  • extra daylight
  • iced drinks 24/7
  • sunsets
  • ice cream
  • napping

Here is what I don’t love about summer:

  • fire season
  • heat
  • feeling sweaty
  • heat. have I mentioned heat?

I made this insane goal that before the temperatures get cool (which is like…November) I want to have a little wardrobe of new knit goods to wear.

I want:

  • a hat
  • a cowl
  • a shawl
  • a pair of fingerless gloves.

I’ve accomplished one! I finished the cowl this weekend, I made Zuzu’s Petals from Madelinetosh DK Twist in Modern Fair Isle. I thought the pattern was fun and well written and I know I chose yarn that doesn’t do the pattern justice (I’m forever picking yarn that doesn’t show off lace…eek!), I’m looking forward to wearing it!

I started knitting the fingerless gloves. I’m using zombie ViXen by Susan Claudino and it’s been REALLY fun! Have you ever looked through her patterns? She is so good at knitting creatures, she gives them freaking eyebrows. That detail kills me! I forgot how great cables are to knit. The yarn is from Spun Right Round and it’s called Combat Boots & Babydoll Dresses. Totally 90′s and I *love* it. It’s kind of a pale oat-y color with tiny flecks of orange, aqua and mauve.

I have no idea what I’ll do for a hat or a shawl. I really love Moonraker, it’s super unique and looks like it would be a really fun knit!

One of my favorite projects from this summer so far is my Quilt to Read Under. The pattern is ModBlocks by Johanna Masko. I had literally ONE weekend to make a quilt. My sewing time is super limited so when I have time, I want to make the most of it and get something great accomplished. I *love* Joanna’s patterns. They are direct and to the point. Really clever. Easy to understand. Sometimes I just want to read the directions and end up with a great quilt with zero math or thinking on my part. It drives me nuts when I buy a quilt pattern and it has a ridiculous amount of waste and strange cutting instructions.

I picked a bundle of colors that I normally wouldn’t go with but this year I’m crushing on lilac REALLY hard. Patchwork is always a very special thing to me, I like to take my time picking fabric to tell a story. I really wanted a new little lap quilt to take on a road trip to Modoc County we went on and I knew I wanted it whimsical and a tiny bit edgy. It has some silk. Some chambray. Linen. Double cotton gauze. Some old favorites and some new. I wanted the size to be small but the fabric to have a big impact. And maybe have a little fairy tale sweetness without being too saccharine. I love this quilt. FIERCELY.

I named it a Quilt to Read Under because I like dragging it to my chair and having it in my lap while reading. And this summer is alllllllllll about reading.

Here are my very favorite books I’ve read this summer. You should read them. Seriously. They are all very different and very good!

  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before- Jenny Han It was quirky and sweet!
  • Sinner by Maggie Steifvater I’m a huge fan girl of Maggie Steifvater and I went into this knowing that it wasn’t meant to be part of the Shiver series but more of a stand alone and wowowowow. With each book she writes, she just gets better and better.
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson I was so confused for the first 1/2 of this book trying to put the name to the character. Who was the prince and who was the assassin. Just when I thought I figured it out…nope. This was a fast read for me, one afternoon! I just was super into it! And it’s an excellent cliff hanger.
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen I went into this book knowing nothing about it, only that I wanted to read a fantasy with a strong female lead. This is one of those books where you watch the character go from UGH to YAY. I love good character development.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr This book. If you read just ONE book this summer, make it this one. Truly. What a beautiful and haunting story. It took me about two weeks to read this simply because it’s lushly written, I didn’t WANT to stop reading it but it’s such a HARD subject (WW2) that I’d find myself having to pause to catch my breath. It’s incredibly paced as well. Marie’s story is going to stay with me for a long time.

We have about A MILLION new patterns in the shop. Truly. So many people asked about my scissor fob that Ashleigh made me last summer that we did the pattern for it. And The Mysterious Halloween Town club is now two clues in and I LOVE IT! Once Upon a Time is growing and it’s insane! It feels like just yesterday we were stitching January’s block! My birthday is next month and we always pick our favorite things for our birthday month, mine I think will surprise people and I super hope everyone likes it! And speaking of birthday months! It’s Ashleigh’s birthday today! We always have a BIG promo code on her birthday- this year it’s 26% off your entire purchase with promo code BIRTHDAY

Print

It expires on Monday, July 28th at noon PST. Also, Picture This Plus has a huge fabric sale on July 25th so it’s a good opportunity to stock up on patterns + supplies!

:):)

 

Summer Reading

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2014 is the Summer of the Book around here at Casa de Porkchop.

I’m just sitting over here, reading & obsessing over books. 24/7.

I want to visit my local bookstore that Saremy introduced me too and pick out books based solely on their covers, pretty much EVERYDAY.

I’ve become obsessed with taking my Studio Calico bits & bobs and making bookmarks with cross stitched pieces from our Summer Sampler. I think frappuccino is going to be next because it’s adorable. I’m also slowly but surely working on sewing a book cover because my books keep getting smushed in my backpack.

Here is my summer reading bucket list:

  • Read a classic I’ve never read before! I started Jane Eyre this morning and I bought a super pretty copy of Sense & Sensibility
  • Read more YA! Favorites have been: We Were Liars, Sinner, Ruin & Rising and These Broken Stars.
  • Tackle unfinished books! It’s very, very, very rare for me to not see a book through. I was slagging along with the first Game of Thrones FOR TWO SUMMERS NOW and I can finally say not only did I finish it but I loved it!
  • Finish trilogies! I am the worst at loving the first two books in a series and being afraid the final book will make me hate the series so I just don’t read it and then inevitably I get spoiled and super annoyed. Terrible right? But I’m also the girl who (spoiler alert!) once I saw Mary & Matthew get married, stopped watching Downton because to me- that was the perfect ending! I finally finished Hunger Games with Mockingjay (loved it) and Immortal Instruments with City of Fire (blah!). I have 3-4 more series that I have to finish up.
  • Read more physical books! This is a big one for me. I’ve owned a kindle since they started selling them and I *love* e-reading. But I do think a lot about indie vs amazon so I am buying more locally and supporting the library. Also, we are house hunting and I heard a rumor that Chop is going to help me build some bookshelves so clearly it’s my job to buy more books ;)

I’ve been going back & forth about updating my blog this summer. Part of me wants to take the summer off and part of me feels like I shouldn’t. We (The Pumpkins) have a ton of new patterns (and some are limited edition!) and have been super busy getting stuff ready for this winter so I feel like I have a LOT to say but at the same time, I don’t want to sound like an ad 24/7!

In knitting news, I’m working on Zuzu’s Petals in Madelinetosh DK- the color is Modern Fair Isle (it’s the project that isn’t a sock in these photos!) and it’s pretty! One of my summer goals is to make a “fall wardrobe” of knit goods. I want to make a cowl, a shawl, a hat and a pair of mitts. I have until about November because that’s when it starts to get cool-ish here. I’m just knitting away slowly but surely, a few rows here and a few rows there. It’s nice!

Also, I find myself listening to this concert over & over through out my day. It’s funny because I technically think of them as a winter band (do you do this? think of certain bands and albums for different seasons?!) but I just love listening to this! I also recently got the audio version of my favorite book, The Raven Boys and o m g. It’s read by Will Patton and just fantastic, so if you are looking for a new audiobook, pick that one!

:):):)

Verilux Lamp Review

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I was *really* excited when Verilux contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their lamps!

I typically do *not* knit or stitch at night because I find it really hard to see. I wear glasses with bifocals and while we have good overhead lighting in our home, I still struggle with evening crafting. I’ve stitched entire chunks of projects with the wrong color, accidentally thinking dark brown was black! Worst! I recently knit my mom a dark purple shawl and knitting lace with dark yarn at night?! Not so much fun.

My stitching space is in front of a small window so during the day I pull my chair up to my table and stitch, using natural light as much as possible. During the winter it’s a little rough because the days are so short and gloomy.

I’ve been wanting a full spectrum lamp for a really long time. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews of Ott-Lite’s. One of our sample stitchers bought one this December and has found the light to be really harsh. I always look when I visit JoAnn’s & Michael’s and I can never decide if I want to spend money on one! Even with coupons, they are expensive. Also, their marketing kind of kills me- if you can offer something to me for 50% off constantly, I want to know HOW & WHY. I also am picky and I don’t want a craft lamp that looks chintzy or when you look at it you think “CRAFT LAMP”! I had NO idea there were other lamp options out there so I’m really glad they contacted me. They’ve been in business since 1956 and they also sell lamps for light therapy and sanitation!

I’ve had the Verilux Lamp for about a month now and I’ve used it every.single.night. since I got it. I wanted to really test it out before I said anything about it because I genuinely don’t understand when bloggers have an item for 5 minutes and are praising or cursing it from the roof tops. Real life experiences here folks!

Initial thoughts:

  • I picked the Nickle Heritage Natural Spectrum Desk Lamp. I chose this one because it doesn’t look like a craft lamp and it’s adjustable.
  • It has three settings all with the same energy use.
  • It was easy to put together.
  • It was well made.

I’m sharing with you four photos taken two consecutive days in a row. They have all been taken with my iPhone with zero editing except to add text over lay.

You can see my first photo I took at 9 am in natural light in my usual stitching area. The colors are normal and true- this is my ideal crafting light. I let my stuff just hang out, I didn’t touch anything (I had errands all day, lol) and at 9 pm I came back to take another photo and stitch for an hour before bed.

The second photo is of the same materials, same spot on my table but with NO other lights in my room on except the Verilux in the *low* setting. The lamp has three settings: low, medium and high. I’ve never used medium or high. I’ve found I just don’t need it. Low provides ample light for me personally.

For stitching, this lamp is so awesome. I like that I’ve been able to stitch in the evenings on 32 ct linen and can see perfectly fine. I don’t find the light bulb hums or buzzes. Quite simply: it’s a lamp and it’s doing it’s job!

For knitting, the following day I laid down my sock in progress on my table, took a photo, again with my iPhone with zero editing except to add text over lay and left it there.

9 pm, my sock looks the same! You’ll notice glare spot on my table, this is my tables typical behavior (can tables behave? idk!). It has a really glossy surface and I wax/polish it. You’ll rarely see this table in photos that I take with my DSLR because the stabilizing light causes spots in the photos. I think what this photo best shows is I’m knitting with white based yarn and the lamp keeps it white! It’s not cream. It’s not yellow-y. It’s still white! Cool huh?

I’m pretty pleased with this lamp. I told Chop that when we buy a home, I want one of the floor lamps in this style to keep next to the couch. I’m pretty curious about the light therapy lamps as well!

Verilux generously is offering 25% off with promo code PORKCHOP and is letting me giveaway a lamp! AWESOME! Just comment on this post and on Tuesday, I’ll close the comments at 12 pm PST and use a random number generator to pick a winner!

:):)

Sock Yarn & Book Covers

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Things I love:

  • reading!
  • knitting socks!

So today I thought it would be fun to sort through some of my stash and see if I could find yarn that matches book covers! The kind of yarn that even though the dyer didn’t set out to create book cover themed yarn, they totally did! There are dyers who dye yarns inspired by books, t.v. shows, pop culture, etc but these are just skeins from my stash that reminded me SO much of book covers! Sometimes you finish a book and you don’t want your time with the story to end…so socks inspired by books?! YES!

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(sorry this cover is so tiny!)

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  • The Selection by Kiera Cass!
  • Plucky Knitter in All Spruced Up!
  • You might just have to trust me that this color is an exact match to America’s dress on the cover- this yarn was super tricky to photograph. Plucky always has the most rich and full of depth solids. Also- the name! All Spruced Up! Yup. I went there. ;)

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  • Teardrop by Lauren Kate!
  • Hedgehog Fibres in Dragonfly!
  • Oh yes. This is the skein that sparked my curiosity of yarn+book cover matching. I saw Beata post a photo of this skein on facebook and I was instantly like TEARDROPPPPP! And it nails it! The ethereal water-y background of pale blues, aquas and pops of pink. So, so, so PRETTY!

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We launched a new pattern today- Cherry Blossom Sampler and as we were working on it I kept thinking about this Opal yarn I bought that reminds me of sushi. It’s not a book cover but that’s ok ;)

So how about you? Can you think of any skeins in your stash that might match book covers?!

WIP Mermaid Hair Socks

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The light tonight was just too pretty not to share with you!

I debated blogging but I feel like I have absolutely nothing exciting to share with you!!! But that’s ok right?!

Glitter/Sparkle yarn! Have you ever knit with it before? I have a few skeins in my stash and this skein of Mermaid Hair by Squirrel Stash Yarn was just begging me to cast on. Her yarn has the cutest names, the sparkle base is called Hazelnut Glitz and my order came wrapped all sweet with an adorable stitch marker. It definitely didn’t hurt that my yarn came the same day as my new DPNs!

I’ve been hemming and hawing about these needles, double pointed needles, trying a new way of sock knitting etc for months. Seriously. How many times have I asked you guys your thoughts on them? A million times. My very first sock was knit on DPNs and it was…rough. I knit the second sock on circular needles and it was like a light bulb went off in my head but lately it just isn’t working for me, especially two at a time.

For comfort reasons, I thought I’d try a pair of short DPNs and so far, I love them. Like, LOVELOVE. Also, I’m not sure how it’s possible but I’ve cast on for these 6 days ago and I’m already an inch above the heel. What?! That is SO fast and I’ve barely had any knitting time, this was a project just in my purse- meaning I work on it in the car, waiting at appointments and while looking at tumblr at Starbucks. If you’ve never knit with circular needles, as you knit you have to adjust the cord but it’s totally no big deal, I’m not sure if it’s the lack of cord adjusting, the crazy sharp points or what but I just feel like these socks are FLYING. I am *not* a fast sock knitter at all and I’m definitely enjoying each stitch of these. We’ll see if this keeps being awesome, I’ll definitely report back!

I do find purling to be tricky so I need some practice on that. This is definitely not the neatest sock I’ve knit but I’m enjoying it. It also happens to match the cover of a book I’m starting tonight, Plus One so that’s exciting.

:):)

The Mysterious Halloween Town!

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It’s Mysterious Halloween Town Club Time!

Thank you all so much for saying YAY to more sneak peeks! Today I thought I’d share with you just a tiny bit of my Mysterious Halloween Town!

If you maybe don’t know me or have never visited my blog, you may not know about my obsession with Halloween. I *love* it. I start decorating in August around my birthday. I’ve made 5? 6? Halloween quilts, ignoring the fact that it’s too hot here for quilts in October. I got married on October 30th. I think it’s pretty much the best holiday. Also: candy.

Last year we launched a super pretty and super special pattern, Halloween Spooky Sampler! Ashleigh & I were very nervous, it was our first time designing a pattern that used both hand dyed floss and hand dyed fabric. Plus it had that big lace-y border! But it turned out you guys REALLY liked it, it’s one of our best selling patterns. I’m glad you like Halloween as much as we do! Seriously.

We listened to your feedback, we always do! You wanted more time before the holiday to work on your project and you wanted colors with more variegation.

While Ashleigh & I can’t control each individual skein of floss (remember- they are hand dyed, making each skein unique which is super cool!), we did pick colors that are very, very, variegated. And we decided to start the club in June with four monthly installments released around two weeks after Once Upon a Time so if you want to make both projects, it’s totally achievable! It also gives everyone over a month to source supplies, including our international friends! The timing is also so if you are like us and want to work on your project leading up to Halloween, the last PDF goes out in mid-September! We also decided instead of sending monthly emails that occasionally get caught in spam, we now provide a direct link for you to access your pattern each month in the introductory PDF. I *wish* we could work out something like ravelry’s pattern delivery system for the future but we are trying this for this pattern and we’ll see how it goes!

The colors are *super* unique in this pattern and we wanted to make that clear from the very beginning. Bubblegum pink! Lavender! Moldy and acid-y greens! Lots of black! It’s a very bold palette of colors and super fun to stitch with. We are also using two brands of hand dyed embroidery floss, both Weeks Dye Works and The Gentle Art. If hand dyed floss isn’t your thing, the pattern does include the DMC/COSMO conversions but keep in mind that your project won’t look the same as the sample! The fabric we picked is a new Picture This Plus color called Wren! We are using it in the Crystal Cashel base which means it has opalescent thread woven in it. Opalescent = Sparkles!!! It’s a very pretty warm gray that white looks really neat against.

Sooooo what will you be stitching? Oh just the cutest Halloween Town EVER! It’s 11.4 inches long and 5.2 inches tall, so a long landscape! It has two buildings including…a BAKERY. And it has some trick or treaters- including Frankenstein that I’m sharing a photo of! See how neat that floss looks? His hair is Carriage Black and it looks so cool! The little owl was my favorite part to work on, he’s stitched in Bubblegum & Lavender Potpourri, it was kind of tricky to take a photo of but one of his ears has two very dark purple stitches that I *love*. It has a few little Quaker elements, a lot of Kawaii elements and basically…it’s adorable!

And I’m still stitching my personal project! I’ll try and sneak in more photos but I don’t want to spoil it too much for anyone, I know a lot of you like the mystery and guard it fiercely!

In addition to stitching, I’m also in the process of re-reading The Mortal Instruments series because City of Heavenly Fire comes out later this month! eep! eep! I’m both excited and nervous to read it but I’m sure I’ll share those thoughts with you later on!

I hope you liked these peeks of Mysterious Halloween Town Club and have a good Friday!

PS: It’s 90 degrees out and all I can think about while stitching a Halloween pattern is having a hot chai latte! lol!

Once Upon a Time Sampler: May

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How is it already May? My brain is still stuck in February and I have no idea why!

I realized earlier last week that I didn’t blog about April’s Once Upon a Time block! I’m not sure why, I love those bears so much!

This month is Jack and the Beanstalk! The cow just about kills me. I’m so glad Ashleigh designed the little bird- we are currently experiencing an epic spring migration and every free moment I have I’ve been out bird watching. I’ve been able to add 4 new birds to my life list. High 5!

It should come as NO surprise that we are launching a Halloween Club tomorrow. I’ve been working on it for the past few weeks and here is something I’m currently struggling with and maybe you can share with me your thoughts!

When we started TFPS, we just built super cute simple little charts and had computer generated covers. Now either Ashleigh or I stitch a version, plus two other ladies stitch for us as well. I *want* to share more photos of my personal projects but I’m afraid it’s confusing to you guys! I’m afraid when you see my WIP, it might make you think that the pattern isn’t finished or fully designed yet.

Last year when I was stitching Woodland Sampler along with you guys, a few people asked if we were just designing each month as we went which is/was definitely NOT the case. Since our business has grown, we have so many small elements that have to be completely spot on before we even release the pattern! For example: thread quantity! For huge projects like Once Upon a Time, that pattern had to be completely stitched before we told shops like The Cottage Needle & The Workroom which colors and quantities of floss to order. Which means, even though in my photos you see blank spaces, that chart is completely done and has already been stitched up twice!

I definitely want to share more photos with you guys because I *love* WIP photos. I love taking them and I love watching someones project grow each time they post. But I don’t want to be redundant and explain “Yes, this pattern is finished. This is my own personal project” in every single blog post because I’m afraid the handful of regular readers will think “Amanda! We already know this!”

For the past month or so I’ve been working on my Mysterious Halloween Town Club and I’ve been wanting to share lots of photos with you but it’s tricky deciding how much to post, when to post it, etc! I’m the *worst* at marketing and definitely need a class on it! I don’t want my blog to become a giant ad but at the same time…GUYS IT’S A FREAKING HALLOWEEN CLUB AND I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU A HUNDRED MILLION PHOTOS.

So what do you guys think? Photos of cross stitch WIPs, are you into them?! Does it confuse you or does it make sense that I’m sharing my own projects?!

Making Project Life Work For Me

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I got caught up on Project Life this past weekend and finished my pages yesterday. Woo!

If you aren’t familiar with Project Life, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what works for me:

  • Printing my photos at home! I used this video tutorial to learn how to print two photos onto one page. I have this little printer and I *love* it.
  • Studio Calico Project Life Kit. This is the big one for me. If I spend money on a subscription, I have to use it. If it arrives in the mail, I’m SUPER excited to get home and use it. Each month is different so my book doesn’t look like all one theme which I really like. It’s also gotten me to try to use the filler cards more- they are just cute! And I like the journal cards, it’s hard for me to not use a million photos. Photos are awesome but if I just did them…it would be way smarter to just have an album printed at the end of the year! This way I can add more “real life” stuff to my book with out relying on photos to tell a story.
  • Smaller size. I use a Snap! Binder I bought in December at Michael’s on mega clearance. Sadly they don’t have any left and mine is now full! I’m debating buying a different binder type for May but I want it small. 12×12 is super overwhelming!
  • Printing photos every other day (because I use one sheet of photo paper for two photos). I tried once a week, once per month and once every two weeks. Every other day works for me, especially now that I’m using more journal/filler cards. I can share my thoughts super fast. I have a phone timer set on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to remind me. Once a month was SUPER tedious for me, I couldn’t remember half of what I’d done or the dates. Which brings me too…
  • I don’t date my cards. I have a first of the month card and an end of the month re-cap card. The re-cap card I talk about stuff that happened, books I read, food I loved. The first of the month card I usually write things I want to try or events happening. I don’t date my cards because sometimes there just isn’t ANYTHING to share or maybe one day was so neat that I have 4 photos.
  • If I’m not sure what to add somewhere or I’ve tucked away a movie stub somewhere special (aka now I can’t find it) I’ll add a little sticky note with what is supposed to go there.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Using a core kit. I bought the 5th and Frolic (I think that’s what it’s called?!) kit from Michaels. I used a 50% off + 10% off total purchase coupon in December which was awesome but by mid February, I was sick of using the same papers over.and over. And I was barely into the project! That was when I was *super* glad I joined Studio Calico, it freshened things up and made it less cookie cutter-y! Also, the S.C. paper is much better quality and more sturdy.
  • The Becky Higgin’s corner rounder. It hates the photo printer paper and kept chomping my paper. Super sad because part of my album has rounded corners, part doesn’t.

What I want to try in the future:

  • Adding text over photos in photoshop!
  • Making more layers of stuff on my cards. Right now they are pretty simple, sometimes I add a sticker, sequins or washi but I want to add more cute layers.
  • Make one page one photo!
  • More paper ephemera. Add more receipts, little tokens from events, etc.

Who’s projects I admire & finding inspiring:

In reality my Project Life kind of looks like a 14 year old with a brand new glue stick made it, I think I’m ok with that. I practically use up every little sequin or sparkle that comes in each monthly kit. My layouts aren’t fancy, they are fast and get the point across. I’d *love* to have a book like the ladies I linked too but…they are legit scrapbookers! I’m not so much or even remotely at that skill level! YET!!! BUT I am glad that I’ve kept up to date and my book is totally me. I like that I took so many photos when I was working on Follow Your Arrow because it documented the whole thing! I like printing silly things like cat memes. I like printing book covers and including them. I like jotting down daily thoughts- even though my penmanship is awful. I realllllly like knowing that at the end of the year I will have documented all of 2014!

How about you? Are you doing Project Life this year? How’s it going?

Let’s get cozy.

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First off, thank you for all your kind words and emails on my previous post. It was amazing how many friends reached out and said “YES. The joy of creating isn’t there anymore” or  ”Let’s all share MORE little things”. I have a few more thoughts to share on this subject but I’ll save them for another day k?

Second off, can I just share with you guys some stuff that is inspiring me lately?

Tubularity! Whyyyyy is Martina Behm so dang CUTE? This is such a neat little pattern, it’s something I can see myself wearing a ton. Also: I’m drowning in sock scraps. A quick dive into my scrap tub revealed these leftovers that I thought looked neat together. I probably will need to buy yarn or break into other full skeins today which I’m a-ok with! I’m not 100% sure I’m doing the increases correctly (she has a video but mine aren’t looking *exactly* like she shows them) but I like knitting it. I’m looking forward to moving from yarn blob to yarn blob. That’s a technical term k?

Ashburn! This is my summer knitting goal. I bought four skeins of Candy Skein Savory Fingering in Honey, Oyster, Grape Fizz & Plum. I got to meet Tami at Stitches West and she is just awesome! I can’t decide which combo of colors I’ll use but I’m excited to wear it next fall. This is one I’m really looking forward to just enjoying the process and relaxing with. I think it’s going to feel similar to Multnomah, that is my current shawl that I keep it in my purse.

Bertie Bott’s Yarn! Um WHAT! I was digging through my yarn bin and came across this cutie that Chop bought me…in 2012. WHY HAS IT NOT BECOME SOCKS YET?! Both pairs of socks on my needles right now at two at a time, which is totally fine but I want to have a single sock to keep in my purse. This is so sparkly. And Harry Potter themed. And a present from my favorite dude.

Reading. Reading. Reading. No seriously. I can’t stop. This is my Goodreads in case you are also into reading. Which I hope you are.

The reading frenzy started when I discovered BookRiot. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to look at book related blogs/websites but I fell down the rabbit hole and I AM SO INTO IT. Then I learned tumblr has a ton of YA book fandom. Now I’m using tumblr again and loooooving it.

My main reading goal this year was 75 books. But I wanted them to be REALLY GOOD reads. None of this “self published 100 pages stuff”. Don’t get me wrong, there are some super talented self published authors but I feel like the majority I read last summer/fall just weren’t for me.

Here are five of my favorite books so far- also, I’m the worst at explaining why I like books so just pretend this is super eloquent k?

  • These Broken Stars. I’ve never read anything space related before and I reallllly liked this. Only the first bit takes place in space and I liked the world building. I hope the rest of the series involves space ships because they just seem really neat.
  • Cress. Oh oh oh. This is the online fandom I stalk the most. It’s just such a unique series and it’s beautifully written.
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters. This is my second favorite online fandom. Taylor very boldly inserts new characters and details into this book- the last in the series. Full confession- I rarely read the last book in a series. Especially if it’s one I love. I’m always too afraid the author is going to kill it for me. I was satisfied with this ending. I’m looking forward to re-reading the entire series again from start to finish.
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. This one surprised me. The writing is just DREAMY. Poetic. Haunting. Strange. I liked it because it was just really unique.
  • Half Bad. I read one person say that this book could have been the childhood story of Snape. I’m not sure about that but it is also a really unique read. White Witches vs. Black Witches and White Witches…aren’t the greatest. It’s a dark story, I think it would be a good October read.

I’m currently reading The Name of the Wind, good friends suggested it and I’m looking forward to a long meat-y read. Speaking of meat-y reads- I decided that this summer my goal is to finish Game of Thrones. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m 59% through this book and just ARGH about it. I read it and I keep waiting and waiting and waiting for SOMETHING GIANT to happen but it’s a about a MILLION little stressful events CONSTANTLY happening! I’d find myself reading until 1 or 2 am just waiting for it (I don’t even know what it is!) to happen. It’s just super suspenseful but also not at the same time. Does that even make sense? Probably not. But I follow a few fandom blogs on tumblr about the books and it’s just a fascinating culture to me that I’m genuinely mad at myself for not just reading it! Also: 59%! That’s a ton. But now I can’t decide if I should start again or pick up from where I left off or WHAT!

Also, I’m currently cross stitching a new club pattern. And it’s awesome. It’s so kawaii and based on my favorite holiday EVER and I can’t wait to start sharing photos with you. We have everything ready to go and I don’t want to make any bold claims but this just might be the best thing Ashleigh has ever designed for me. Yes, for me. Because IT’S MY FAVORITE FLIPPING HOLIDAY IN MY FAVORITE COLORS. Granted, it’s her favorite holiday and favorite colors too but…I request CAKE and there is CAKE. I said OWLS and received OWLS. I said PUMPKINS WITH ONE TOOTH and…yup. It’s going to be good.

I’ll be back hopefully soon to share my million photos of Once Upon a Time Sampler & Tea Time.

One last thing, Tracey suggested I try Young Living Deep Relief roll on essential oil blend. I’m pretty excited to give it a try.

<3

 

Quietly Creating & Missing Pickle Chips

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tinybirds

Hi!

Happy Sunday!

What are you up too?

Yesterday Chop & I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel! We very much loved it. As always, it was like an amazing visual feast.  I’m always such a sucker for his palettes and details.

I’ve been slowly but surely working on my Romi Hill Mystery Shawl.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “purposeful” & “quiet” creating. The kind of projects where you focus a lot on the process and not so much on the end result. I’ve also been thinking about seasonal flavors of potato chips.

2014 is turning out to be my year of purposeful creating. Everything I’ve done so far has been a slow journey.

Part of this is because my hand gets cranky if I knit or stitch for long increments of time. Part of this is because I literally don’t have the energy to do a million things. And part of it is because I work full time on Pumpkin stuff- my personal crafting time is limited, therefore I want to make it count and be special.

Here is what I’m doing differently:

  • Love it or leave it! If the project I’m working on doesn’t give me 100% satisfaction- it’s a goner. I’ve always been pretty ok with this part, I’ve frogged countless knitting projects and taken apart many quilts but now I’m being more diligent than ever. See you later lame projects!
  • Use materials that bring you joy: Special yarn, special fabric, favorite sewing machine. Let’s use all the favorites! I’ve been debating destashing stuff I no longer love because it stresses me out to have a ton of things that I’m not using. I literally put 95% of my fabric stash into storage because I felt like a jerk.
  • Make the process count. My knitting time is limited (my left hand gets sore) so I make it special. Favorite music or an audiobook, cup of coffee, new project bag, cute stitch markers, etc. I’ll knit uninterrupted for an hour, rather than “knitting” for three hours but really I’m not knitting, I’m looking at  facebook or getting distracted by other stuff. This is the hardest one for me.
  • Figuring out which part of crafting brings you joy and focusing on it. I personally do not enjoy full sized quilt making. At all. I never have. We sleep under a down comforter, not a quilt for this exact reason. I enjoy it even less if I’m making the same block.over.and.over.and.over. But I *love* fabric and I love small patchwork, especially if it tells a story. So this year I’m taking traditional blocks and making a sampler. Just from scraps. When I have time. I don’t have a giant master plan, I have some loose ideas. That is how quilting brings me joy: handfuls of scraps, loose plan, favorite small blocks.
  • The WHY. I think the number one question I get when I’m stitching or knitting in public is why? Why craft? Why create? Can’t you buy socks at Target for like, a dollar?!  WHY DO YOU DO THIS?! Example: Why am I knitting a shawl? Because I absolutely love these two yarns. Because I want to support the designer. Because I wanted to support two indie yarn dyers. Because I like getting a little piece of the puzzle each week. Because I love taking photos of WIPs. Because my favorite feeling is watching something newly finished floating in bubbles of Soak Wash & anxiously tapping my fingers because I want to see how GIANT it gets. Because I absolutely want a navy & purple shawl to wear next fall. Because it’s cozy! Totally cozy!  Because I hate being cold! Each project I’m asking myself WHY. But this doesn’t mean “justify yourself”. That’s totally different and you should never have to justify your creations. Ever. Which brings me to the next part…
  • Enjoying the result. I have a confession to make. (I’m making my “serious Amanda face right now”) I don’t share many of my finished projects because it makes me uncomfortable when people ask me things like “do you sleep?!” “how do you knit so many socks, you must not have kids!” “do you even make quilts anymore or do you just knit”? or comments like “you are a machine”! It makes me feel almost ashamed about how much I do and don’t create. And then I feel like I have to justify how much I create, why I spend my time/money/etc creating and well…that sucks the joy right out of it! I recently talked about this with a few online friends. They shared similar stories about how they’ll finish a quilt, take DOZENS of photos but only share three because they are afraid of people commenting about the mistakes or asking why they chose certain fabrics instead of more “matching” prints. Or the fear of “overgramming” a project.  One knitting friend said for every finished sweater she shares, she’s actually knit two but she’s embarrassed  to share them all after someone added up the cost of her finished sweater collection! Who even does that?! RUDE! I *hate* feeling like social media makes me not want to celebrate my finishes. I *hate* that my friends don’t share 9 million photos of their finished quilts. I hate that I’ve only seen like, 5 of my friends finished sweaters when I now know she’s knit a dozen! I’m not sure if this sort of negativity happens offline, I only have three local friends and so far none of them have been like “AMANDA WHYYYYYY ARE YOU MAKING HALF A DOZEN PINK QUILTS!!!!!” (correct answer: Why WOULDN’T you?!) The things we create we SHOULD celebrate. We should be proud. Technically, in the age of $1 Target socks, we don’t HAVE to create. But we do. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I truly feel so inspired when I see someone do something like turn handspun yarn into a sweater. Or switch from aida to linen and *get* it. Or make a quilt and share their favorite block, even if it’s not perfectly pieced. There is something WAY more inspiring to me to watch a project grow and turn into something than see three photos of a finished quilt with the pattern name, fabrics used and that’s it. I guess I want to see more of why we create and more of us enjoying the things we make!

This year I’m probably going to create less. But I’m definitely going to try and enjoy every single second of it!

And I’m also going to throw a mega hissy fit if the Safeway in town doesn’t bring back pickle flavored Lays potato chips.

SO! to summarize!

More creating with less pressure, enjoying the process, sharing more, more favorite stuff being used and hopefully pickle flavored chips being consumed while doing all of these things.

<3