Off the Needles

I am woefully behind on sharing my most recent finished objects.  You know they aren’t really finished until someone wears or takes a photo of them, right?

One morning this week before opening, I did a little photo shoot inside Stash.  I can only imagine what people thought as they walked by the window and saw me laying back on the sofa taking photos of my feet.  Oh well; knittas be crazy.

Then I played around taking photos of my reflection in all the mirrors in the shop.  Also crazy fun!

This was a really fun project, and it has sort of started me on a hat kick.  I’m thinking Slable next.

Hope you’re having a fun weekend, perhaps even finishing up a project of your own!

This Week

This is the week! The much-anticipated, long dreamed of week that my new yarn shop opens for business! Deep breath…

I’m feeling a lot of excitement, a little bit of anxiety when I look at that seemingly endless list of to-do’s, some vulnerability about putting my dream out there for public consumption, and a whole lot of gratitude that I get to live that dream.

Last week I hosted a sneak-preview stitch night for some of the Ravelry knitters in the area. It was a great turnout, full of the friendly faces and excited yarn shoppers. This was the first time Stash had been open to non-family members or close friends, and it was exciting and humbling to receive such an enthusiastic response.

This blog is going to remain a chronicle of my personal knitting life, though I’m sure some business talk will creep in now and then. To stay in the loop about the happenings at Stash, check out the new shop blog, website, Ravelry group, and Facebook Page.

Have a great week!  I’m hoping to be back here on Wednesday for Yarn Along.  I have some knitting (a very little bit) and lots of reading to share.

Yarn Everywhere and Not a Thing to Knit!

As some of you wisely pointed out to me recently, during times of change, busy-ness or stress, something has to give.  And yes, housework has been low on the list of priorities to be sure.  Blogging, cooking, crafting, and knitting have also fallen low, which makes me a little bit sad.  I reassure myself that this is a temporary state, and try to enjoy these things as time allows.

Over the weekend I made a trip to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival to pick up some orders for Stash.  It was a lovely day of meeting with the dyers and artisans that will be making up a large part of the shop.  It’s so exciting to see these lovelies in person after all the planning and ordering.  Finally, there is yarn in the shop!

There are so many pretty skeins and a ton of great patterns, and yet I find myself paralyzed when it comes to choosing my first project from the shop’s stash.  Not a bad problem to have, I know!  But seriously, one of my concerns about opening a yarn shop was that it would take the shine off my cherished knitting, make me lose interest.  I’m not saying that’s what is happening, but I do need to remember this as I go forward:

Make Time For the Thing You Love Doing.

A good reminder, no?

This week I’m going to focus on my personal knitting, and will decide on a sample knit for the shop. What do you need to make more time for?

Change

When life seems to be feeling a bit stagnant, I crave change.  Small changes or large, shaking things up a bit can have an invigorating effect.  Usually this manifests itself in a spontaneous rearranging of furniture, or joining a new knit-along.  Too much change at once though, and I risk getting lost in a swirl of to-do lists, packed calendars, and feeling uncertain of everything.

We’re walking a fine line these days.   The changes are coming swiftly now, and so we are doing our best as a family to be thoughtful, pragmatic, and proactive in our actions.  Opening a yarn shop has created waves farther out than I initially imagined, affecting people and activities in ways I hadn’t anticipated.  I have a certain level of guilt and grief about taking on my own big project outside the home and changing our lives so profoundly.

Becerra Photography

These days, our rhythms as a family are taking on an entirely new tone.  Where once I was a stay at home mama and felt no sense of rush at the beginning of a new day, now I am a working mom and wife with a lot going on outside the home for the first time in years.  While I am thrilled to be creating my own dream job, it’s also painful to let go of another dream job.  For that is just what staying home has been for me, challenges and all.  I have loved staying home with PB, witnessing every moment of her young life in a very intimate way.  And next week, PB goes from stay at home little to an enrollee at a Montessori morning program for toddlers.  More change.

When I’m at work, I worry about what I’m missing in PB’s day, and when I’m home, I struggle to stop thinking about the shop.  Being present in the moment is taking a little more effort on my part than usual. The good news is, I have a very family friendly boss who understands all of this and is willing to make certain sacrifices to spend as much time at home as possible.

Becerra Photography

Along with not being a being a stay at home mom anymore, I will no longer be a stay at home wife.  This means the structure of our domestic life is changing, too; job sharing, meal prep, laundry and errands will all be divvied up in a new way.  I’m sure that this will take some time to iron out as we both get used to letting go of old expectations and adjusting to our new normal.

Folks, this is a lot of change.  It keeps me up at night sometimes, worrying about what I’ve done by deciding to start my own business.  In my heart, I know it is right, that to pursue this dream is something I couldn’t not do.  I have watched my own mother pursue her dreams independently of being a mother, and I admire her for it.  And yet, in the pit of my stomach (especially late at night) I worry that this is all a huge mistake that could irrevocably damage our little family.

Becerra Photography

Change is swirling around me, and as I reach for an anchor to hold onto, I have to remember to be patient and gentle with myself.  To find time to add rhythm and fun to all the schedule changes.  It takes time to adjust to new routines and expectations, but it will happen.

Working parents, how do you do it?  What are some coping strategies or rhythms you’ve found to be helpful in times of great change?

*Photos are from a recent shoot we did with Chris of Becerra Photography.  It was a wonderful experience!  If you’re in Oregon, check him out!

Stash Update

After looking at nearly every available space in my community’s downtown district, I have found a home for Stash.  It had to have the right combination of space, character, natural light, and potential.  I believe this spot has everything I was looking for, plus room to grow. And look at that window!  Can’t you just imagine the wonderful display possibilities?!

exterior before

interior before

This whole opening a yarn shop thing is really cutting in to my knitting time.  I had to take advantage of this moment and get a few stitches in on my around town sock!

Now that the space is secured, I am moving pretty quickly in an attempt to open at the beginning of October.  My mind is abuzz with ideas for the layout, including a seating area, gallery space, learning space, storage, and display.  The vendor list is pretty exciting, and I’ve started placing orders and receiving shipments!  And soon there will be the not so small task of cleaning this place up (oh, the dust!), painting, and putting in all of the fixtures.

This is a very exciting time, indeed!  I can’t wait to show you the transformation as it unfolds.

 

Good Company

Going to a yarn event is so much more than the sum of its parts.  Sure there’s yarn, classes, events, and a whole lot of knitters.  And those are all wonderful elements, but what I’m talking about is that intangible feeling, the collective excitement of its attendees, the electric frisson that happens when you’re in a room full of people who just get it.  We all love yarn and making thing with it, and there’s no need to explain why we do what we do. There is both a thrill and a peacefulness brought about by being with your people.

Marketplace line, day 1

Blog/swap friend Carmen!

PDXKnitterati, soon to be featured designer at Stash!

Sock Summit was just this sort of place, made even more exciting for me when I kept running into people I know, either in real life or through blogging.  These connections are very real to me, and I always enjoy filling up my knitterly cup, so to speak.  In addition to getting to spend gobs of time with Stripedsocks who flew out from Connecticut for the event, I got to connect with Michelle, Carmen, a few blog readers (hi again!), and of course Cookie A. and Stephanie.  Yeah, we’re like this.  Especially after Stephanie accidentally stepped on my foot and said “Sorry, sweetie.” I mean, we’re practically best friends now.

And then there was the yarn.  Goodness, there was so much lovely yarn it was difficult to know where to go first.  Fortunately, I had a list of dyers for the shop that I wanted to talk to face to face, so that’s how I stayed focused.  Mostly.  After conducting the yarn business, I was a little stunted as to what yarn to buy for personal use.   I needed to pick out three colors for the Westknits mystery knit along. Then I saw the Catkin shawl on a knitter and knew I had to make one, which led to a handful of skeins from Hazel Knits.  Everyone was wearing beautiful hand knit shawls, by the way.  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was Shawl Summit. There were the odd moments when a certain someone dared me into buying a wee turkish spindle.  Guess I’ll just have to keep practicing my drop spindling, eh?  Fairly restrained purchasing for me, but I also know there is about to be a whole lot of yarn coming in to the shop, so I didn’t want to go too crazy.

A Verb for Keeping Warm booth

Hazel Knits swatch towers

All in all, Sock Summit 2011 was a wonderful experience.  Soaking up all that knitterly energy, taking classes and hearing industry legends like Tina Newton and Clara Parkes speak, eating good food and knitting as much as I wanted; all were wonderful ways to spend a weekend.  Now it’s back to life, back to reality, which I am all the more ready to embrace after a delicious retreat like this.

 

Stash Enhancement

I’ve been keeping a secret from you.  Well, not a secret so much as a tender, fragile dream that has slowly grown stronger and bigger over time.  My dream?

To own a yarn shop.

Thanks to the encouragement of my incredibly supportive friends and family, as well as that of my online family (Kathy, I’m winking at you) I am now ready to make the big leap into the unknown.

I am opening a yarn shop!

Stash will be opening in Corvallis Oregon this fall.  The shop will feature yarn, accessories, and artwork created in the Pacific Northwest.  In addition to the retail yarn business, the store will also be part gallery and part gathering space where classes, knit nights, gallery openings, and special yarny events will be held.  It is my intention to create a community gathering place (family-friendly, too!) where people can come together to share knowledge, celebrate each other’s work, and just have a good time in the presence of other creative spirits.  And, yarn.  Lots of beautiful, soulful yarn from talented spinners and dyers from our neck of the woods.  To quote the Contessa, “How bad can that be?”.

There has been a lot of business happening behind the scenes these last couple of months, as well as much navel gazing and contemplating the enormous shift in lifestyle from stay at home mama to entrepreneurial mama.  We have been working closely as a family to come up with a business model and childcare/playschool opportunities that offer flexibility and maximum time together.  It’s important to me to remain very much a part of PB’s daily life, to be able to take her to some of her favorite activities, and to welcome her into my new workspace. I think we’ve about got it figured, which is a huge relief.

And now I’m at a really fun stage in the process: looking for a location and selecting vendors.  I’ll be at Sock Summit taking a peek in person at some of my potential vendors’ newest yarns and colorways.  This is the biggest stash enhancement expedition of my knitting life, and a dream come true!

Look to this space for updates on the progress of the shop.  If you’re so inclined, join the Stash Ravelry group.  And, if you are one of the talented, soulful spinners, dyers, designers, artists, or crafters making beautiful things in the PNW, please email me at sonia AT stashlocal DOT com.  I’d love to take a look at your work.

Let the adventure begin!

Conundrums.

When working within the confines of one’s stash, certain accommodations are often made. Material choices are limited and quantities are fixed. This can make the search for the perfect pattern and yarn combination all the more thrilling and challenging. I thought I had lit upon another good pairing with the Little Sister’s Dress and my Cascade Luna. Indeed, they go very well together. But something went awry…could it have been that wicked beast Gauge?

I decided to knit the 12 month size to accommodate for the reported roominess of the pattern, figuring it would be just right to fit an 18 month PB this summer.  After separating the arms and body, however, I had a feeling that this might end up being too big.  That’s okay, I thought, she’ll grow into it. In hindsight, I realize this was the precise moment I should have listened to my knituition and ripped back.  Would have saved me a lot of time.

Then there was another issue.

Partway through the increases on the skirt I realized I was going to run out of yarn before it was actually a length befitting a dress. A conundrum. I could certainly purchase a 3rd skein of the yarn and finish it off according to the pattern. But I’m trying to knit from the stash and not buy new yarn, so that didn’t feel right (although isn’t there is a loophole where yarn acquired to finish a project does not technically add to the stash?). Instead, I decided to test my luck and modify this to be more of a tunic. I did less increases and started the purl ridges for the bottom hem a few inches sooner than suggested.  Then I knit faster so I wouldn’t run out of yarn, as one does, and bound off with about a yard to spare.  I felt quite triumphant until I popped it onto PB; the armholes are way too big.

I don’t think she was very happy with it, either.

Is this the elusive "smize"?

Now I’m left with deciding what to do with this piece.  Rip back and reknit? Wait and see if she grows into it? Either way, it’s going to a quiet place to think about what it’s done, and hopefully a little time apart will do us both good.

Planning and Knitting and Sniffling, Oh My!

I spent most of the weekend fluctuating between excited bursts of activity and sniffling in bed as I tried to fight off a spring cold.  Fortunately for me, it’s not an incapacitating cold, so I was able to get a little knitting accomplished.  I am pleased to say I’m almost finished with my first warm-weather knit of the season!

As always seems to happen when I round the corner into the home stretch of a project, I start dreaming about what to cast on next.  I like to dangle a little wooly carrot in front of myself, something to motivate me to keep on knittin’.  It’s an attempt to maintain focus while still allowing myself to feel that rush of excitement that comes from browsing patterns, shopping the stash, and putting the two together.

I have a small collection of summery yarns I purchased last spring that I never got around to knitting.  There are a couple I picked up for PB and a couple I picked up for myself that I am motivated to use this season.  Cotton blends are the name of the game, and I have these lovelies to choose from: Rowan Purelife Revive, Be Sweet Cotton Candy, and Cascade Luna Paints.  I have enough of the Revive to make myself a top or large shawl of some sort; I’m thinking thisthis or this.  The other two are for PB and her soon-to-be-born cousin, and I’m still browsing patterns. Ideas?

Of course, I couldn’t neglect a couple of the newer wooly additions to the stash that keep calling to me from behind the closed doors of my yarn cabinet: Becoming Art’s Agave worsted will be Windschief, and the String Theory Caper sock yarn is for a Cookie A. sock club pattern.  Neither is in the most seasonal of colors, but I think that’s what makes them good counterpoints to all that aqua and purple cotton.

And finally, because I have been wanting to knit a high-contrast Stephen West shawlette for some time, I’ve been playing around with my sock yarn, creating color combos.  I think I’ve settled on knitting Chadwick with this peacock-blue and raspberry red, out of Shu Bui and Plymouth Happy Feet, respectively.

The best part of all this planning is that the yarns are all from my stash!  I made the informal commitment to myself that I wouldn’t buy any new yarn between February (after my Stitches spree) and the end of July when I plan on going to Sock Summit.  With all these goodies lying around, it shouldn’t be a problem.

What are looking forward to knitting this spring and summer?

Letting Go

I’ve been trying to get to this space for two whole days now. My mind has been swirling with things to write about here: various lists, knitting updates, a finished object, and more. I’ve felt a little rushed and behind for days, mostly because we are leaving for vacation soon, and that always sends me into a bit of a frenzy. What to pack? What to knit? Do we have arrangemtns for the cats? Is the fridge/trash emtied? I have this strong need to clean house before we leave, so that we can come back everything in order. Some of that has to be let go in favor of taking some queit moments, making it to knit night, or going on toddler outings.

So, my eloquent and on-time blog posts regarding the aforementioned FO, a fun yarn swap I went to over the weekend, and a painting project are just going ot have to wait. Something has to give, and this little blog is getting the shaft this week. I hope you understand and will join me back when the dust has settled and the bags are unpacked.  For now, enjoy these progress shots of my weekend sock/lace yarn reorganization.  It’s so good to see things in a new way!