Where You Been, Girl?

Well hello there!  It’s been a minute, huh?  I’ve been “off the scope,” working through a bit of a funk, and with the change of seasons, have touched bottom and am on the way back to the surface. There has been a lot of knitting project finishing, stitch marker making, project bag making, and yes, yarn dyeing!  There have been stretches of self-doubt followed by some great inspiration too, all making for some great things popping up in my shop.  I managed to do a few shows, and found myself exhausted, inspired, happy, sad, disappointed and ecstatic too.  It’s been a busy bunch-a months!

 

 

Running a small business is a challenge, which we all know, with it’s good days, and it’s not so good days.  When you are going it alone, it can be hard to keep up the motivation needed to drive the business forward, add in the distractions of social media, a very needy dog, a husband who needs clean clothes and daily dinner, and it really gets serious.  I had fallen into a bit of a rabbit hole, and can finally see the daylight (kind of like Alice of fiction).  There are still days where I’m happy to stay down in my little comfy hovel, digging in to force myself to finish a project, or dye up some new yarn.  Then there are days where I’m outside of my comfort zone, where I’ll try a new knitting technique, try a new way of dyeing yarn, or maybe just use colors I usually would not.

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This is from one of my favorite mini-series, Alice, a great nerdy telling of the Alice in Wonderland tale.  I’m down here in the rabbit hole, and not too upset to be here, usually!

Earlier this year, I began The Great Webb Sock Project, which includes a pair of socks for each member of what began as my immediate family, and has morphed into some extended family and in-laws.  I made a great dent in that list (I have a HUGE family), and will continue until this year’s is done (at this rate, it’ll be early 2018 when it’s done.  I still need to do Kevin’s, Keith’s, Mariya’s, Dorien’s, Seth’s, Duane’s, and another pair for my husband. . . not too bad, I’m sure I can do it!

 

So, to answer the question, “where you been?”  I’ve been here, paddling around, doing my thing.  Let’s see what the rest of 2017 holds, shall we?

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A New(ish) Sock Obsession!

As I work to get my rear back in gear, I have been dyeing yarn when the inspiration hits, and knitting more again.  I have been a sock knitter for years, and have pretty much worked my standard pattern that I learned and modified from a German pattern back in the 90’s.  I have always used US size 2.5 (3mm) needles, two circulars – my poor busted Addi Turbos, they take a knockin’ and keep on rockin’!  That said, I decided to make this my “Year of Socks,” with a number of facets, including the following:

1 – Work some other patterns, not just my Big Foot Socks!  Now, this was probably the hardest hurtle for me because, frankly, I love my Big Foot Socks.  I love they way they look; I love they way they wear; I love the way they work up (honestly, if it ain’t broke. . .)   So I chose a few patterns that appealed to me, including Tootsie Rolls by Lisa K. Ross, Smooth Operator Socks by Susan B. Anderson, Rose City Rollers and Jelly Rolls by Mara Catherine Bryner, and finally, Afterthought Everything by Erica Kempf Broughton.  Needless to say, I’m totally digging other peoples’ patterns 😬 and have been cranking away and getting happier every day!  Who’da thunk it?

Clockwise from upper left:  Tootsie Rolls, Smooth Operator Socks, Rose City Rollers, Jelly Rolls, and Afterthought Everything Socks

2 – Work with some smaller needles and see what happens!  I approached my first “smaller needle” project with some trepidation, having dreams that I would have horrible hand cramps that could only be relieved by long hand massages and ibuprofen. Boy was I wrong!  I broke out my Tootsie Rolls pattern, and got to work.  The needles (Chiaogoo Red Lace in US size 1 (2.25mm) were a dream to work with, made for a nice dense fabric, and best of all, NO HAND CRAMPS!

3 – Find a different use for my yarn leftovers – NO MORE MONSTER SOCKS!  I needed to find a better use for the bits, and thanks to a wonderful Scandinavian woman in a Facebook group I’m in, I have been able to adjust my eye and see other possibilities.  Below you will see a hybrid sock I’m working on that melds two entirely different yarns to make one incredible sock!  I am also blending two (or more) yarns by alternating rounds, and that works up some socky magic, lemme tell ‘ya!

On the left, I’m calling these my Nordisk Socks. . . me likey!  On the right, my Big Foot Hybrid Socks. . . me likey too!

4 – The Great Webb Family Sock Project!  We have a bunch of us in the family, and everybody’s getting new socks this year!  Not all will be Big Foot Socks this year, people, I need to be entertained too!

Daddy’s are done, and Mommy’s are working! (man, that’s a pointy heel 🙄 blocking will fix that noise)

Yeah, it’s all about the socks for the moment, and I’m having a blast.  Summer vacation will have me finishing Mommy’s socks, some socks for The Hubs, some striped socks from a sock blank I dyed last month, and a pair for my sister, Tracey, and I just can’t wait!

Working Through Loss

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Ssssooooooo, yeah.  It’s been a while.  Long story short; not long after my last entry, my youngest sister, Chanel, passed away rather suddenly after fighting Leukemia for 15 years. I won’t go into how hard it has been, the trauma my entire family suffered, the personal battles I am fighting, or the incredible depth of loss we are facing without her.  Everyone faces this shock and pain at one time or another, I know, but the reality for me has been a humbling experience that has made me dig deep to find a way to accept a new reality.

Once I was able to focus on ‘knitterly’ and ‘dyerly’ things, I found that my thoughts would drift back to my sister, but over time, morphed into inspiration of a sort.  A kind of gentle sadness seems to literally color my work these days, with more greens and browns winding their way into my head.  I decided that I would just go with it and let it be what it is, this process.  As spring does it’s yearly dance, I would normally be thinking about pale pinks, greens, yellows and blues, but I find myself wanting to dig into my yak yarn colors, which are deeper, darker and richer (see the picture below).

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I have found that I’m only working when the inspiration truly strikes, and not sticking to a strict schedule, as I did before.  This really bothered me until a few weeks ago, when I forgave myself, and again, just let it happen.  It’s been almost 8 months, and I am beginning to think that I just might climb out of this fog and be able to accomplish. . . something.

This week I have added minis to the shop, and some semi-solids, which you will see more of (I have found that not everyone loves variegated yarns, and want to include them too!)   Here is a pile of a recent shop update:

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In any case, watch this space, because that last thing Chanel would have wanted, is that I would freeze in my shoes, lay down, and stop my life.  I have a bunch of ideas for future posts, new designs for my shop, and LOTS more yarns!

Thank you all so much for hanging with me!  Have a groovy!

Knitting in the Summertime

Summertime. . . . and the knitting is easy.  Yeah, it’s hot out there, and my needles are smoking of late.  While it may seem odd that hot sticky weather makes me want to drag out my worsted weight wools and get to work on some yummy concoction, there is such a calming, and almost cooling effect on me when I do.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love to work up some nice lightweight shawls and ankle socks, or something else out of fingering or sock weight.  There is, however, a real comfort in looking ahead to when there’s a foot of snow, sub-zero temps, and my ankle is killing me because of the cold.

That said, here are a few yummies I have worked up over the past few weeks or so:

Super soft, cushy baby blanket (bulky weight, baby!)  Mind you, I did have the fan in my face as I worked on it – Djfleesh Blowing Sands Baby Blanket (Knit Picks Billow)

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Next up, check out my little Bonbon Bunny (hit Ravelry for the pattern by Susan Claudino) – djfleesh handknits yarn DJ Fit Prime Original in “Toes on the Glass”

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How ’bout some of those ankle socks and regular socks?  (I didn’t need the fan for these.) –  Patterns are all my own, (clockwise) djfleesh handknits yarn DJ Prime “Git on the Flo’”; Opal Sock Yarn; a wool/cotton/nylon blend I picked up in Germany years ago and can’t remember who made it; and finally, djfleesh handknits yarn DJ Prime “Jeans Beans.”

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I also had the fan running while working on this baby pullover!  (so sweet 😊) – Djfleesh Little Head Pullover (Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Merlot Heather)

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I have finished a number of other things, but these are just a few of the highlights.  I normally crank out MUCH more, but I have been dyeing yarn as well, and a show-off session will follow in another post.  In the meantime, celebrate Summer with lots and lots of knitting!  Come late fall, your cold feet will thank you!

Thanks for stopping in, and knit on!

-djfleesh

A Knitter’s Gotta. . .

. . . step back every now and then.  . . . knit.  . . . ask for help. . . . then knuckle down and get it done.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere for me over the past few weeks.  Lemmie ‘splain.  I knit for a living, so I have been working the needles pretty much every single day since I was about 18.  In my little world, there is pleasure knitting, there is knitting for customers, there is pattern design knitting, there is knitting my designs, and there is knitting from other designers’ patterns.  Each has it’s pros and cons, which the latter landed me into a bit of a sticky wicket.  There is a lovely pattern for a child’s hoodie, which I found on Ravelry, and have made before, right?  Well, I needed to work up another, and approached the project with a pro’s mind, thinking “I don’t need to read through the pattern like I did the first time.  I know this stuff, I did it before.”  Well. . . pro that I am, I didn’t read it through (big mistake, since the pattern’s designer’s writing style is not like mine, so I assumed things I should not have).  So, I got mad at the project and had to step back from it for a couple of weeks.  I had to.  It sat there on the top of my Next Project Pile, looking at me all sad and forlorn.  I could see it trying to guilt me as I worked on some other things (see the photos below).

So as you can see, I did a whole lot if ignoring – there were hats to make, socks to finish, and plenty of yarn to dye.  Anyway, I finally let the little-pink-hoodie-guilt get to me, and picked up the project, AFTER re-reading the pattern fully, and that’s where it got cu-ray-zee!  I had to rip out one particular section about 4 times (WHICH NEVER HAPPENS TO ME), thus teaching me a great lesson in knitter’s humility.  I actually had to throw up a lifeline, and ask for some help, in the form of my favorite knitter’s 911 resource, Vicky Square’s “The Knitter’s Companion.”  Well, long story short (too late), I finally cracked the knitter’s whip and got that thing done.  I can tell you that I am happy to send it along to it’s intended, vowing to either 1) never knit the hoodie again, or, more likely, 2) knit it again, but read the stinkin’ pattern first!

If you would like to try your hand at Lisa K. Black’s Twisted Trails, click here to purchase the pattern on Ravelry.  In the meantime, here’s the first one I made, and the problem child that followed:

 

If you would like to take a peek at my hand dyed yarns (no pattern reading involved), click here to visit my shop.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

-djfleesh

Inspiration Strikes When it Will

Thank you very much for dropping in for a look around!  I know it has been a little while, but I have been quite a busy bee, working on a number of things both dyeing and knitting, and enjoying an early spring here on the East Coast.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on her Facebook feed, of a stunning white leopard with pale green eyes.  When I saw it, I was immediately struck, and just knew I would have to dye up some yarn to match it.  I got to work on it, and the result (if I do say so myself) was more than I hoped.  I had been in a bit of a blue/self-doubt period, and the response was most overwhelming, as it has continued to sell out of my shop ever since.  Since I tend to be a positive person, I usually try to see the lesson in things, and, although it was a real struggle, I have learned quite a bit about myself and how to handle these feelings when they pop up again (and they will):

Lesson 1:  Inspiration strikes when it will – I can’t force inspiration, it will show up when and where it does, so just be ready to take it and run.

Lesson 2:  Trust your creative instinct – Don’t doubt your art and ability, continue to grow and learn, but never question yourself as to what is driving you.

With my life lessons in my pocket, I have plunged forward, not looking back. . . well, maybe peeking over my shoulder with a smile every now and then!

 

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The Great Binge Watch of January 2016

Welcome back to my world, party people!  So, the past couple of weeks have been a busy time, over here in the Djfleesh Knit Shack.  I’ve been knitting like a fiend, and working on hand dyed yarns for my shop.  For a while, my KADD (knitter’s attention deficit disorder) had me down, but I pushed through and got quite a bit of work done.  But I was still looking for that. . . something. . .

Then Netflix announced that they would be dropping Doctor Who from the line-up next month (and a great sadness fell over the earth).  Now, I fully know that I am “Fleesh-come-lately” on this, but I am a closet geek at heart, and had only just cracked Season 2.  As I read the announcement, I got this little icy finger of fear that I would miss out, so, needless to say, I have been on an unhealthy diet of Who, ever since.

The only down side to this whole thing is that I JUST CAN’T STOP!!  Picture this.  It’s the middle of the night, (and I am a night owl, so we are talking waaayyyy late) and I’m thinking I’ll just finish the last 8 minutes of this episode.  Then something really dramatically intriguing happens, which leads me into the next episode and a half.  By then it’s really, really, late (now mind you all of the time I have been working on some project or other), and my eyelids are on the floor.  This is usually when the hashtag #justgotobedalready flashes on the inside of my eyelids, and finally, it’s up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire.

Then, it all begins again the next day – and I’ve been at this all week, by now.

The lessons learned?  Even a good binge leads to inspiration, and for me provides a soundtrack for a whole lot of work (I made 4 of those sweater vests pictured above)!

Now I leave you with a little music selection for your listening pleasure (these are from one of my favorite iTunes playlists):

Nick Drake – Northern Sky

Pablo Nutini – White Lies

Rickie Lee Jones – On Saturday Afternoons in 1963

Shawn Colvin – I Don’t Know Why

The Sundays – Wild Horses

 

Thanks for dropping in and have a great couple of weeks!

 

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