Matthew’s Shawl

I am extremely proud to announce the release of my newest pattern: Matthew’s Shawl.

You’re probably saying to yourself, nice shawl… but who is Matthew, and why is this his shawl? Matthew isn’t actually a person… more of an idea. Sure, I have met plenty of lovely characters named Matthew in my life, but this shawl isn’t really inspired by any of them. Like I said, Matthew is an idea.

So what is the idea of Matthew? The idea is the gift of giving back.

Everywhere we turn, we see news stories about the horrible things going on in the world. School shootings, racial profiling, natural disasters… and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the political climate in our country right now. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with how horrible and scary the world is. So what do we do? We start giving back and making a positive impact wherever we can.

How I do that, is by donating a portion of proceeds from pattern sales to various charities. Now, I’ve got my own circle of charities that I can (and do) choose to donate to… but lets open that circle up a bit. This year, I’m partnering with several fantastic and inspiring dyers to embark on this venture.

Dizzy Blonde Studios is the first dyer of this year that I’m partnering with, and a portion of all sales of Matthew’s Shawl as well as the Katie Dragon Cowl will be donated to Leashes of Love, LLC.

Leashes of Love Rescue, LLC. is an all-volunteer, foster home based, 501(c)3 dog rescue organization based in Southern California.  The majority of the animals they rescue come from high kill animal shelters throughout Southern California, where overcrowding and overpopulation lead to the euthanasia of millions of healthy, friendly pets every year. For more information on Leashes of Love, check out their website at www.lolr.org

I sincerely hope you love Matthew’s Shawl as much as I’ve loved creating it.

Until Next Time!

Find the Light

Waking up this morning, I wasn’t sure WHAT I was going to write (but I knew I felt compelled to). This election season has been more divisive than any other that I can recall, and the outcome is proving to be more of the same. I’ve got friends threatening to move out of the country, others protesting the fact that the electoral vote is not a reflection of the popular vote. My own nephew, is being taunted and ridiculed at his school because of his stance on things in this election. All of this… ALL OF THIS, is not okay.

Do I wish the outcome of this election was different, absolutely. AB-SO-LU-TE-LY! However, this is the PERFECT opportunity to be the bigger person. When they go low, we go high… remember? I emplore you, do not respond to this election with more hate, more vitriol, and by all means more violence. I don’t care which side of the line you fall on, we’re in this together, and we have to remember that. Yes, its scary… terrifying really, to be where we are at. There is still much work to be done here, and if we abandon this great country… the work will NEVER be done.

I encourage you to find the light. Focus on the things in your life that bring you happiness… and dive deeper into them more fervently than ever before.

Knowing that this election was going to be a nail-biter, I pulled out my table loom yesterday and got to work. Four balls of Freia Fibers fingering weight yarn, and twelve hours later… I had a scarf. A beautiful scarf that embodied everything I felt about this election cycle, and through creating it… I felt better about the world, it wasn’t going to end. Yes it sucks, but we’ve gotten through worse and come out stronger. We’re America, its what we do.

The New Normal/Finding Your Footing

The New Normal: A previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual or expected.

Thus can be said about life these days. It has been an interesting year of twists and turns: working 40-60 hour work weeks, to moving (twice in the last year), and finally the end of an era at Purlescence Yarns, there have been a ton of changes. Thankfully the dust has begun to settle, and I’m rediscovering my crafting mojo.

About two months ago, I looked around in my new space and made a realization. I call myself an artist, but I literally have NOTHING adorning the walls of my personal space. The realization consumed me, and I quickly began the task of analyzing why that was. The conclusion I came to, was that with all these changes over the past year, I lost sight of my voice. Not LITERALLY my voice, as I’m still singing every chance I can… but my creative voice. I sat down and thought about the last time I had knit, crocheted, woven, or even spun… and I couldn’t recall when that was. Heck, I couldn’t remember the last time I sat down with a pen and paper and just doodled. I determined that this was a problem, and I needed to fix it as quickly as possible, and here’s how.

I first assessed my current pile of unfinished objects:


Knitting

  • Twisted Rib Sock from Sock Madness 2016
  • Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West in Malabrigo
  • Chilkat Cowl by Romi Hill in Panda Pearl
  • Self Striping Sock in BCY self striping sock
  • Duke Socks by Cookie A. in Malabrigo  Sock
  • Cassavettes Cardigan in Cascade 220 Heathers
  • Lady Eleanor (Lord Ellesmere) Stole in Noro

Crochet

  • Mini-Skein Madness Crochet Ripple Stitch Cowl

Weaving

  • A San Jose Sharks inspired Table Runner

Something about sorting through these projects, gave me the urge to DO something again. So the next step was to figure out a game plan: new projects can be started, but if I work on a new project I need to spend an equal amount of time on an existing project. Since this analysis, I’ve managed to finish a sleeve of my Cassavettes Cardigan as well as complete a new spinning project (448 yards of 3-ply worsted spun pin-drafted merino fleece), and I found the urge to blog! Woot!

Change happens, and is inevitable. (Insert every cliche about change you can possibly think of here).  The trick is to take it step by step, day by day… then soon enough you’ve gone miles since that big change, and you look back and look at that path you’ve ventured down. In essence you find your footing, dig in, and really start to enjoy the new normal and all the possibilities it brings with it.

Happy Adventuring!

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Finding your Voice, and Cherishing Your Doubt.

One of the things I’ve learned thus far in this whole “becoming a designer” thing… is that you have to find your voice. The problem is, that can often be easier said than done.

Do I want to be known for beautiful lace patterns?

Do I want to design items for men, women, children?

Do I want to be known for a creative use of colour and texture?

Do I want to try and re-invent the wheel?

So many questions to ask yourself, when embarking on this journey. So many different paths to go down, but how does one pick the BEST one? How do you turn this into something profitable?

Sure, there are strategies… and heck, I totally recommend doing your research (and even taking a class or two if you can!).

But here’s a gem of wisdom, that might help…

Ready for it?!

JUST BE YOU!

Pretty simple, right?  Funny how the simplest of things can prove to sometimes be the most difficult to figure out. No matter what you are doing, regardless of the situation… be authentic, and have confidence in that authenticity. No one knows you better than yourself.

I think Elizabeth Alexander may have put it best in the piece Cherish Your Doubt.

Without a doubt, our hearts and minds would never grow,
Without a doubt, our dreams would have nowhere to go,
Without a doubt, we’d never change the status quo.
Yes, without a doubt, we’d be hanging on
To notions that are better gone,
So try to love the questions,
Those thorny, thorny questions.
Trust your intuition, and cherish your doubt.

Get those creative juices flowing!

Alright, so things have been fairly quiet on the design front since I got back from Stitches West in February (WOW! That was like almost 6 months ago!)

Needless to say a lot has happened in those six months. Organizing the stash, packing up the stash, moving to a fantastic new apartment. Crafting kind of got shoved to the side to accommodate life, which is totally understandable.

The great news is that now that the dust is finally setting from the move last month, crafting is happening! More importantly designing is happening!

I can’t say much right now about this brand new project I’m working on, but I can tell you to keep an eye out for a new e-book to be released on Ravelry very soon! I’ve got my test knitters chomping at the bit, and the colors and designs are coming together, so keep a look out for updates on  Facebook and Ravelry!

Until next time!

-YM-

Once More into the Fray!

Well, after 2 months of not posting…. once more into the fray!

Designing has been… well… stalled for the moment. About a month ago, I made the decision to pack up and move about 20 minutes down the road, and needless to say… designing while trying to pack all the things and move all the things, is well… difficult. Not impossible, but far beyond the bandwidth I’ve had the past month. This also means that my awesome organization of yarn from April, is now back in boxes waiting to figure out the next iteration of how I will be organizing it.

July is here, and Tour de Fleece is starting… so I’m almost certain that my blog posts this month will probably be more spinning related than knitting. HOWEVER, in light of the recent Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage being legal nation wide, Capuchin Designs will be offering the Coronet Cowl pattern for free for the remainder of the month of July, so go get em!

Until next time!

-YM-

Organization-a-go-go!

One of my biggest personal frustrations since learning to knit four years ago, is that my stash has always ALWAYS lived in some sort of container. Now, I’m not saying that yarn doesn’t BELONG in a container, because honestly… that has more often than not been the one thing that has saved my yarn when the occasional pet problem occurs (Note: Cats and or Dogs playing with stash yarn do not make for a happy YarnMonkeh.)

So boxed stash, or stash in drawers… no big deal right? Wrong! I’ve been careful about being deliberate in picking yarns that I truly love…yarns that inspire me, the ones that are just begging to be crafted into something awesome. However, having that yarn live out of sight in boxes in the closet, or in a drawer somewhere in the house, does not in fact inspire me.

Now that I’ve explained my predicament, let me tell you about my solution. Last week, I was feeling a bit “done with people” and decided it was the perfect opportunity to stay home and do some well needed reorganization. The primary focus was going to be the boxes of stash sitting in my closet that had been unloved and uninspiring since I moved into my current residence in October/November of this past year. After some discussion with my cohorts at Purlescence Yarns, I had a plan! Get that yarn out of the closet and up where I can see it! With a bit of 50lb test line that we usually use for brake bands, a couple of eye hooks, a couple of metal shower curtain hooks, and a pencil… I set to work on what I hoped would be the awesome solution for my issue!

I placed an eye hook on either side of my room against the far wall, which houses a few cube units but nothing much else. Sixteen inches away from the wall, and an inch and a half from the ceiling. Marking the spot on either side of the wall, I set my eye hooks, tied my test line onto the shower curtain hooks and started placing my yarn! After a bit of modification (adding a couple of extra hooks on the ceiling in the center to help stabilize, and ensure that I wouldn’t hit my head on the yarn)… I had a static art piece of delicious yarn just waiting to be knit! Now I should mention, that the only yarn I placed on the line was in hanks, so that if I wanted to get it off the line, I wouldn’t have to take everything down. I simply just untwist the hank and off I go with the yarn!

Happiness is walking into your room and seeing your yarn magically floating in mid-air above your bookcase.

Until next time!
-YarnMonkeh-

Reinventing the Wheel

One of the struggles I’ve been facing at the moment is the age-old problem of trying to re-invent the wheel. Being a new designer who wants to use menswear as his primary focus, because… honestly there isn’t enough fabulous men’s knitwear. When it comes to men’s knitwear, it all pretty much breaks down to 4 categories (and variations thereof): 1) sweaters, 2) hats, 3) socks, 4) cowls/scarves. Men don’t generally wear (nor should they, in most cases) knit tanks, tops, or shorts/pants.
The problem with this, is that…well… sweaters are sweater shaped, hats are generally hat shaped, socks are sock shaped, and cowls/scarves are long pieces of flat fabric which I more often than not find intensely boring to knit.

So, how do we spice that up? Add some sort of color or textural feature! Place some accent buttons somewhere on it! Cables… Cables are always interesting (in my opinion)! Perhaps a bit of intarsia , or some fair isle, or a stripe, or a million other possibilities! Whatever you choose, men’s garments are typically the same cookie cutter garment with a little bit of pizzazz. Why is that? Well, the idea is that men are all about the simple, classic look. A three-quarter sleeve would look great on some guys, but unfortunately it is often not worn by any male who isn’t a couturier. Generally speaking, men don’t wear: ruffles, lace, cowl necks, beaded garments, shawls (unless they can double as a fantastic scarf), kaftan, shrugs, ponchos, or head bands.

So yes, the above comes off as a bit of a rant (and frankly… it totally is). But here is my point in all of this… try something different! If you’re a lace knitter, who hasn’t ever tried knitting intarsia… give it a shot! Or perhaps you’re a hard-core sock knitter who has never tackled a sweater…why not try it? Instead of thinking of the million and a half reasons why you CAN’T do something… why not just try? Why not be the guy in the office who dares to wear a cowl neck sweater to work next Tuesday? Why not be the fabulous Tenor in rehearsal who decides to show up in a kaftan next time? The bottom line is…. why not? Instead of limiting yourself to what you’re comfortable with right now in this very moment… why not step outside of the box (it doesn’t have to be that far outside of the box, even!).

Progress is progress is progress, and in the end… people will remember you more for daring to be different, rather than playing it safe.

So, I guess here is my personal challenge to you this week… try something new. To quote one of my favorite quotes that I picked up from my mother a few years ago:
“When was the last time you tried something for the first time?”

Until next time!
-YM-

The Wonderful World of Color

So this week has been all about more swatching, sketching, and figuring out color palettes for existing sketches.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I tend to gravitate towards blues, greens, and virtually anything in that spectrum. That being said, I’ve actually been trying to push myself to explore other options for palettes… keeping in mind that there is more to this world than the various shades of blue and green. It’s been a fun week of playing with reds, purples, the occasional yellow, and then a whole set of neutrals. I find it amazing that sometimes the most il unlikely of pairings might wind up working out to be the best possible outcome. It’s also amazing that with just a click of the mouse, I can change the color palette of a design and experiment. 

Finished Objects since my last post: Sidewinder Slouchy Beanie by Johnny Vasquez in Sweet Georgia Yarns Trinity Worsted (colorways: Riptide, Silver) 

On the needles: Cassavettes Cardigan in Cascade 220 Heathers, and Vanilla Socks in Shalimar Breathless. 

 

  

  

Finding Inspiration!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending 3 days rehearsing with a local Men’s Chorus I sing with, so not much knitting/designing/crafting was completed.

However this week, its all about finding inspiration and writing down ideas. It always amazing how much PLANNING has to go into this crazy world of design. There’s the sketching, the swatching, the bouncing ideas off of your mentors and friends… but the most important thing I find is to stop and look around you every once and while. Life surprises you sometimes, with where you draw inspiration from. Some gather inspiration from nature, some from classic cinema, and some from experiences. For me, I find that some of my best ideas come to me through music. A bit odd, I’ve thought at times, but it seems to work. Perhaps it is the fact that music has always been my muse. It’s just always easier for me to focus and get the job done, if I have a pair of headphones or earbuds on, and am just rocking out… regardless of the music.

Whats on the needles this week: Yoked Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (a shop sample for Purlescence Yarns in Frog Tree Pediboo; a Sidewinder Slouchy Beanie by Johnny Vasquez for myself (I hope) in Sweet Georgia Yarns Trinity Worsted;  and I’m still trucking away on my Cassavettes Cardigan by Veronik Avery in Cascade 220 Heathers.

Until next time!

-YM-