January: a month of knitting

I’m back!  As promised!  This year I decided to embark on a Year of Making and I am already one month down.  Can you believe it’s February?  I am planning on blogging once a month to share some of the things I worked on throughout the month.  But honestly, if you follow me on Instagram, most of the pictures will be familiar.  I’m mostly documenting my projects there.  I aim to post a #yearofmaking pic every day, but I know there will be days I miss.

Anyways, about once a year I get sucked back into knitting.  And I usually make one thing and then put down the needles until the following winter.  Well January was kind of the month of knitting for me.  It just feels seasonally appropriate and all the knitters are posting their gorgeous hand knit creations on Instagram and it all looks so lovely and warm and delicate and perfect.  Last year I wanted to make the Schwimmen hat but I had already made one beanie and then gotten distracted by something else.  I had bought the yarn and everything but never got around to it.  So that’s the first project I picked up at the start of January.  It’s my big finish for this month, though it’s not the only thing I did, it’s definitely the one I feel most proud of.

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I’m not much of a knitter, so this lace design was a huge challenge for me.  It wasn’t the kind of project you can just zone out and methodically knit while relaxing to a TV show.  I had to count and use markers and look up stitches on YouTube and check off each round I completed so I didn’t lose track.  I made a ton of mistakes too.  The first one I noticed was a little petrifying.  I couldn’t go back the rows to fix it and I couldn’t rip it out because I was afraid I’d never be able to pick back up all the stitches.  I think I put it down for a few days not knowing what to do.  But finally I pushed on and just accepted the mistake, added a stitch to fix the count and it was freeing!  Every mistake that came up after that I just shrugged my shoulders and moved forward.  It’s definitely a forgiving pattern in that sense – I doubt anyone will notice the mistakes unless they are an experienced knitter and staring at my head trying to find the mistakes, right?

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So I finished it recently and it’s currently being blocked on a balloon (I’ve never blocked anything before)! I’m excited to wear it AND I’m excited to make more beanies!  In fact, I finished another beanie last month.  It’s the Northwoods Hat from The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar.  And not only did I knit this hat, but I actually dyed the yarn first and then knit it!

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It was part of The Modern Natural Dyer Work-along hosted by A Verb For Keeping Warm.  I got the kit from Hideko for Christmas which is awesome because it came with all the materials I needed for the project, pre-measured and ready to go.  I won’t walk through the process because the book does it so well and the ladies of AVFKW have been doing it throughout the month on their blog, IG and Periscope (my newest obsession) and I talk about it a bunch in my IG posts, but let’s just say it was quite a lengthy process!  There were many steps, but it was totally doable, fun and I definitely want to do it again!

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I used madder extract to dye my yarn red and I wrapped and tightly tied string around the yarn every 3-5 inches to get those white/undyed spots.  I like the way it knit up with little flecks randomly scattered throughout.  The knitting pattern is really simple and because the yarn is bulky, it was a super fast knit.  I think I finished it in a day and a half!

Also in the knitting realm, I asked awhile back on IG about teaching kids how to knit because my 5 year old had been asking.  Some people suggested starting with a knitting loom, so I bought a set to try.  Unfortunately, the 5 year old doesn’t quite have the patience to do more than one round at a time and hasn’t finished a hat yet.  I tested out the two small sizes and made a hat that fits a baby doll and a hat that fits a baby (I was hoping it would fit my petite 2 year old, but it’s too small)!

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I’ve really enjoyed knitting this month and I think I might actually continue!  I want to make the Diode hat that Jen posted about.  And I might even try a sweater for one of my kids.  Do you know of any cute and simple patterns?  And then maybe one day I’ll make a sweater for me!

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Besides knitting and natural dyeing, I did a little bit of drawing and watercolor painting this last month, and I hope to continue to practice more of both throughout the year.  I love the videos and challenges they have on Creativebug.  It makes a whole lot of new crafts really accessible!  It also makes me want to do EVERYTHING.

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In January, I also did some arts and crafts with the kids and at work and I baked a cake and made dinners. 🙂  It is interesting to see just how much making I do regularly.  Sometimes I have to make the effort to squeeze it in at the end of the day, and other times I make 5 things in a day without really trying.  The one thing I DIDN’T do practically any of this month was sewing!  But I’m pretty sure that’ll change in February.

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Thanks for all of you who left encouraging comments on my last post.  And thanks for coming along with me on my year of making.  I decided to use the hashtag #cheriesyearofmaking (original, I know!) on IG to document my year.  If you have any ideas for crafts or projects you think I should try – let me know!  And please also share what you’re planning on working on this year or this month!  Happy making 🙂



Year of Making

Hello!  Happy 2016!  Is anyone still out there?  I’ve fallen so out of touch with blogland, I don’t know what’s going on anymore!  But to anyone reading, hello and happy new year.  I hope you’re well.

Last year I took a big intentional step back from blogging and it was pretty wonderful.  As much as I loved sharing things I’d made and the community I felt here, I just wasn’t getting enough out of it.  I’m an extremely slow blogger and I always had other things I would rather be doing besides taking and editing photos and writing and editing blog posts and then trying to share and promote the post on social media.  I couldn’t keep up with everything, so I decided to let this part go and I did continue on sewing (though it felt like a lot less).  And I shared a lot on Instagram and took part in a wonderful community there.

Best of 2015 // you & mieSome of my favorite makes of 2015

I also had the goal to simplify my life, to have, consume, buy, do, want less.  I won’t get into how it all went, but I’ll say that I failed and I succeeded and failed again and it’s an ongoing goal.  My life isn’t dramatically different, but I do try to make conscious efforts and smart decisions to move towards a simpler life and though we’ve got a loooong way to go, we’ll continue to do what we can.

One thing that I thought about over the last year as I continue to grow and maybe even establish myself creatively is a desire to find “my thing.”  You know how some people have a specific thing that they are really good at and they find themselves becoming known for that thing and then they go on to teach that thing and write books about that thing and become professionals and wildly successful and get to do that thing all day long?  Or they have a project with a cool hashtag that really puts them on the map and gets them noticed.  Well I want a thing!  But I’ve never been able to come up with my own original thing.  They all seem to be taken by people who are actually really good at them and have been working on it for years.  Until other awesome creative people come up with new ideas and I’m like, shit, why didn’t I think of that!?

Year of Making // you & miePicking knitting back up.  I do this once a year.

Anyways, I don’t really know what I want to do but I am feeling like I want to practice being more creative and explore different crafts, see if anything sticks and just have fun trying new things.  Last year I started following Meighan O’Toole on Instagram and she was challenging herself to a #yearofmaking, where she committed to doing some creative practice every day for at least 30 minutes for a year.  I think she got the idea from Kim Werker and the original idea traces back to Miriam Felton, as far as I can tell.  Well Meighan learned a lot from her experience and it was really inspiring to me too.  I decided that committing to a year of making might be what I need to stay out of creative ruts, learn new things, meet new people, maybe open new doors.

Year of Making // you & mieTrying my hand at natural dyes during The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along

I made a list of things I want to try this year.  There are like 13 things on the list right now.  Some of them are things I’ve done before and just want to explore more, like knitting or quilting and some are new and just seem interesting like watercolor painting or embroidery.  I don’t expect I’ll get through all of the things on the list and do expect that some of the things will change as I get distracted by the latest crafting trend.  (Ooh, weaving?  Sure!)  Some days I’ll paint a portrait and other days I’ll just doodle.  Or maybe I’ll make a cocktail.  Hell, last weekend I counted painting my daughters’ faces as my creative practice for the day!  And hopefully I’ll still sew!  I’ll always go back to sewing.

Year of Making // you & mieWool yarn hand dyed with madder extract

I don’t plan on posting to instagram every single day, but I will document my creative practices as much as possible and share them there.  I’m still trying to come up with a hashtag for all my pics so I can have them in my own pool.  And I’m going to try and write a blog post at least once a month to share the things I worked on that month.  So towards the end of this month I’ll share what things I focused on in January.

Year of Making // you & mie

Watercolor painting with my daughters

You guys, this may last like 2 months.  I’m kind of a slacker like that.  It’s probably why I don’t have my own “thing.”  Or maybe it’ll stick and be amazing and awesome, supportive people out in the interwebs will help me stay motivated.  Who knows!  Hopefully it’s the latter.  I hope that publishing this post will be enough to light a fire under my ass on nights that I just want to watch Netflix or go to sleep, ’cause, you know, I told everyone on the internet that I would do it.

Wish me luck!  Maybe you’ll join me?  Regardless, I can’t wait to see what comes out of 2016!