Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

We all know Mondays can lag and drag ... so why not make sure to start the week right? My gift to you and help spread the fiber love. So Check back to the Free Patterns Section every Monday morning to start your week with a fresh new pattern to create and make the week FIBER FABULOUS!

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Travel Season Is Upon Us... Grab Your Fiber & Let's Go!

Travel Season Is Upon Us... Grab Your Fiber & Let's Go!

Summer travel season is almost here. Road trips. Plane trips. Hiking and biking and all the good stuff. It is no secret that I bring my yarn EVERYWHERE. Seeing me at the airport with yarn in hand is a shock to no-one! Here are some fiber friendly travel tips. Never leave your yarn at home.

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Mama Makers Are a Special Type of Maker

I don't have kids. I have poodles. Just how God designed my life. And knowing how busy my days are, I am constantly amazed at the Maker mama's I meet who seem to have super powers to do it all. 

My friend Stephanie of Triple Knot Studio constantly impresses me.  She is the dynamo of Mama Makers. She has 3 tiny humans, who I love and adore, a job as a scientist and still manages to make beautiful things, run her small business and be an amazing friend. It is why on the Mother's Day I am extremely excited that we have launched Stephanie's Summer Vest Kit.

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Another Mama Maker I adore is Kathryn of The Stitch & Hook. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Kathryn and teaching her how to knit when she came to Stitch Up Chicago this year.

Getting to know Kathryn has been fabulous and feeding into her creative journey is such a gift for me. But the real gift is her Maker mama story. I invited Kathryn to share with us, to celebrate Mother's Day. And here's to all you Maker Mama's out there. You are so special!!!


The day begins at 6 am. As the alarm buzzes, and I open my groggy eyes, I spy the growing pile of crochet and knit projects that need to be worked on.

I need to get that sweater finished before the baby wakes up. And this blanket needs to go out by the end of the week. I’m already behind on that pattern deadline. And don’t forget this dress that needs to be completed by next week…

Coffee in hand, I make my way to my craft space and begin working on the last sleeve of the sweater that was supposed to have been finished two days ago. I am determined to at least finish this project before my toddler wakes up.

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I settle in, take a few sips of coffee, and get started.

Suddenly, as if on cue, a howl rises from the next room. “Mamaaaaa!” My heart stops. My eyes widen. “What?! NO!” I silently scream to myself. “He’s not supposed to be up for another hour! I only got 3 rows done! I need more time! Whyyy?!”

“Mamaaaaa….” The wail continues in the next room. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, say a prayer for patience, and put down the unfinished sleeve. I take off my Maker Hat and replace it with my Mama Hat, and head into the next room to start the day with my toddler, hoping that today he might take an afternoon nap, and praying that I might be able to finish that sweater before dinner time… but knowing full well that I’ll probably just be up until after midnight again, trying to play catch-up.

Welcome to the life of this Maker Mama.

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Life is full of tightropes we have to walk – at work, at home, in relationships. And perhaps no one knows this better than Mamas.

A Mama’s job is a full-time, nights-and-weekends, always-on-call kind of job. Mamas don’t usually {ever?} get to call in sick. You won’t find these synonyms in the thesaurus, but any Mama can tell you that other job titles that can be used in place of “Mama” include:

- “cafeteria lady”

- “janitor”

- “mediator”

- “professional cheerleader”

- “event coordinator”

- “caterer”

- “chief inspector”

- “head chef”

- “nurse”

- “pharmacist”

… You get the point …

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So when a Mama adds a side hustle to her plate, like a little maker business, it really is a “hustle”. It means less sleep and more juggling; less down-time and more tight-rope walking. It means having more ideas than time allows. It means almost never being “all caught up”. And it means working double-time just to stay in the game.

So Mamas, how do we to try to stay sane when we are feeling overwhelmed by being a Mama and a Maker? Here are a few things I try to remember to do:

1. Stay in Community

It is so important to be surrounded by people who are like you – who struggle with the same things you do. Nothing helps that crippling burden of loneliness like hearing someone else talking about the exact.same.struggle. When you find out that you are not alone in whatever it is that you may be struggling with, you can learn to laugh about the struggle instead of feeling overwhelmed by it.

 

2. Stay away from Social media when it gets too overwhelming

I love how huge the maker community is online. I love that there are a million people out there doing the same nerdy thing that I am doing, and that we get to share our creations with each other. But sometimes I just have to put the blinders on. Sometimes I have to just focus on myself, my capabilities, and my little successes. I have to stop comparing my feed to other amazing Instagram or Facebook feeds. I have to see myself for what I am worth, and not in comparison to anyone else.

3. Be Fully Present

Sometimes I can wear all the hats all at once. I can be a totally awesome mama and a super productive maker at the same time. But most of the time, I can only do one thing at a time. And that means putting away the hooks and the needles and the yarn and being completely present with my 2 year old as he uses his newest toy to destroy my flowers beds. Then, when I get to return to my craft after my child is in bed (or at least contained in his jail cell of a crib), I can return 100% with a renewed purpose and energy and be totally present with my craft.

Whatever you are doing to make it all work, know that you are doing your best, and that your best is all you can do in this season of life right now. Know that behind many of those gorgeously curated Instagram pages you admire is another mama who has also been pulling her hair out trying to simultaneously take the photo AND keep grubby hands from messing up that perfectly posed set-up.

As one of my favorite crochet/knitwear designers and mamas, Justyna from @ladyjaycrochet, posted a few months ago: “No matter what stage of life you are in, give yourself grace. It’s called #slowfashion for a reason.”

So here’s to all the Maker Mama’s out there, hustling and walking tight-ropes. You’ve got this. We’ve got you. And you are not alone in the struggle.

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I’ll leave you with one last quote that my own mama told me constantly while growing up:

“Do your best,

And leave the rest,

It will all come right,

Some day or night”

-Black Beauty

Get Ready For Summer With The Summer Vest Kit!

I am so excited about this next Kit Shop exclusive collaboration that I can hardly find words. This is really a tale of two Stephanie's and a creative dream.

You know how sometimes you meet people and it is instant connection, inspiration and creativity abound? Well i have been fortunate enough to have that happen a few times and it is such magic. Then when you get to bring some of those relationships together for a collaboration - well then it is purely spectacular! This is one of those magical moments.

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Stephanie of Triple Knot Studio has been my crafty friend for a few years now. We met on Instagram and a long lasting friendship quickly formed. It is funny how that can happen and I love it. We have had the chance to hang out many times when she came to Stitch Up Chicago and it is so much fun when we get together. So when she had an idea to design a Summer Vest lightweight cover up I was so excited and all about it!

Bring in yarn dyer extraordinaire and Stephanie number TOO....

So when Stephanie and I were thinking about what yarn would make for a fun Summer Vest I immediately thought of another Stephanie, the brilliant Stephanie behind Asylum Fibers. I met Stephanie when I went to Vogue Knit Live in NYC and it was an INSTANT connection. I was in love with her wit, her humor and her creativity. She came to my big birthday celebration in NYC last month and I KNEW I wanted to collaborate with her. I HAD TO MAKE IT HAPPEN! And we DID!

Stephanie creates Asylum Fiber colorways that make me want to make all the things. So I knew it was perfect for the Summer Vest collaboration and the tale of two Stephanies in an email thread was born.

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Once we got going it all came together so fast and I loved working with Stephanie of Triple Knot Studio on her first garment design. Bringing her idea to life was challenging and fun and all the things you want it to be when taking on a project like this. On a personal note, it was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever been part of.

There were late nights. Long emails. Tears. So. Many. Tears. Working with Stephanie, such a good friend, on her first garment design really was an experience I will cherish forever.  It is what this blog is about - feeding into the creativity of others. And to have the chance to help feed into the creativity of someone I care so deeply about was a gift in and of itself. OK... back to this AMAZING VEST.....

The Summer Vest is the perfect accessory to your summer wardrobe. It is ideal for over a swimsuit or to dress up a tank top for a night out. This one item will be all you need to pack for vacation to hit all the notes. It works up super fast and has a great pattern stitch for beginners.

In the Limited Edition Kit you get all you need to make this vest: The pattern, stitch-work chart, custom hand dyed fiber from Asylum Fibers, hook and a special handmade project bag. Or you can get the pattern and make one in the color of your choice from Asylum Fibers

We are so excited to feature this collaboration in the Stitch & Hustle Kit Shop!!! Can't wait to see all your summer vests!

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Spotlight on Louis Boria of Brooklyn Boy Knits

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably one of the over 31 million people who has seen Louis Boria's Brooklyn Boy Knits 60 second documentary. It is fantastic and what it is doing for the fiber community is even more fantastic.

While I was in NYC last week for a variety of events, fiber meetings and activities, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Louis and chat about all that inspires him and all that has happened in the whirlwind last 3 months.

What is incredibly striking about Louis is his humility and his passion for growing the fiber arts community for the next generation. Having been given the gift of loving creativity being introduced to fiber arts by his grandmother, who was a crocheter, it wasn't long before he found himself following his own fiber path in knitting.

Now, with his newfound instant fiber fame, he is continuing to spread the love for fiber arts by launching programs to teach young kids to knit.

Faced with such instant fame what would you do? Think about it. How would you use such instant viral fiber fame? Louis is using it to develop not only the next chapter for his brand, but next generation of fiber enthusiasts by teaming up with a New York City Public School and Lion Brand to create a fiber arts program. Talk about ambition and spreading fiber love!

It was my honor and so incredibly inspiring to co-host and event and spend the day with him at String Thing Studio yarn shop in Brooklyn. Seeing him talk about and share his passion for knitting is remarkable. It reminds me a lot of the vibe we have at Stitch Up Chicago and that joy only fiber arts can bring when it connects people. Here are a few snaps from our event and scroll down to be inspired and watch our whole interview. It will set your passion on fire. I promise!!!!


While in NYC I had the pleasure to sit down with Louis Boria of Brooklyn Boy Knits to chat about his recent experience going viral with over 31 million views of his Knit video, we find out about the launch of his new partnership with Lion Brand, what inspired him to launch this journey and so much more.

Say Hello to CoCo Crochet Lee

When I started this blog I had a vision of how it would look and what it would be. In the two years since launching, it has evolved into so much more than I ever could have imagined, truly becoming a resource for inspiration, patterns, information and most of all: a growing community. My heart is so full every time I get a note or message or email from you guys who are helped and encouraged by this blog. One part of the Stitch & Hustle evolution is that I've had the privilege of connecting with so many beautiful human beings. And now, am incredibly honored that one of those people will be sharing her voice with us.

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Say hello to Lee Sartori, known as CoCo Crochet Lee!

Lee is one of my favorite humans. She is kind, creative and has that perfect blend of sass and sweet. When she is not mystifying us all with her Instagram game (her photo skills are ridiculous), she is leading the WIP Wednesday on the Happily Hooked Facebook Page.  And now... she will be sharing inspiration and her voice to our community taking over the Stitch & Hustle Instagram page one week a month! I am so excited about this because she is truly one of the most creative and lovely people and I cannot wait to see what she shares with us all. So follow along on instagram and get to know Lee with these 10 Random Facts below:
 

Hey there! Here are 10 random facts about me:

1. I'm the Assistant Editor of Happily Hooked Magazine - which makes me a tech editor, blogger, writer, designer, and social media guru.

2. I love to crochet, but I also really love knitting!

3. I once crocheted a detailed 3 foot tall pink Eiffel Tower and gave it away.

4. I went to University for Visual Arts and Communications.

5. My dream is to travel the world, I was able to visit Japan a few years ago.

6. I'll be appearing on Annie's PBS Show called Knit and Crochet Now this fall for 5 tv episodes as a crochet expert. I designed all 5 designs for my appearances.

7. My work name 'CoCo Crochet Lee' is because I called my son Conan 'CoCo' when he was a baby.

8. I'm an avid reader, though I wish I had a bit more time to dedicate to my favorite books.

9. I have 3 designs publishing in Salena Baca's new book releasing next year.

10. My designer bffs are @divinedebris, @rohnstrong, @evelynandpeter, @bysincerelypam, @jms.handmade, @144stitches and so many others. My friends keep me motivated 💜.

 

 

Say Hello To Spring & WIN BIG with Our Stitch Up Chicago Sponsors

It has been a month since Stitch Up Chicago 2018 and I am still feeling all the warm fuzzies from so much fiber awesome. As we enter into spring I thought why not carry that fiber love on with a giveaway! So read on about our event prizes, our sponsors and enter to win one of the Swag Bags from Stitch Up Chicago along with some other extra special treats below.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a giver by nature, my pastor says it is my Love Language. So I am always excited when amazing artisans, small businesses and big businesses want to join in the giving and help make the Stitch Up Chicago prizes so awesome. This year's grand raffle prize had me wishing I could enter to win. Maybe I should have bought a few tickets!

We did the grand prize drawing on the last day just as we started the yarn bomb party with London Kaye. And of course, London got to pull the winning ticket. It was super fun because with a raffle you just never know.

I love that suspense. You can click through this slide show and catch the whole play by play. Our photographer Hannah Schweiss captured EVERY MOMENT of this awesomeness.

The grand prize... ok guys.... UM YEAH! It featured delights from each of these incredible contributors and the handmade wall hanging from The River Haze Shop was surely a fan favorite!

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THANK YOU SO MUCH TO OUR
Grand Prize contributors:


And since not everyone can win the grand prize, we put together incredible swag bags with the generosity of so many makers and fiber businesses so everyone left with some major fiber treats.


SO WE SEND OUT A BIG THANK YOU & HUGE SHOUT OUT TO ALL
Stitch Up Chicago Sponsors. Could not have done it without them.

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And now YOU can enter to win not only one of the Stitch Up Chicago Swag Bags, but an amazing Artisan Spring Prize Pack including a knitting hat pattern from Yessy Designs, a crochet top pattern from Evelyn & Peter, a pair of sea shell socks made by the sock master himself, Rohn Strong, a super fun summer clutch purse from Tea Pray Crochet, a yarn mug AND $25 gift card from Yarn Mamas, a Lakeside Cardigan from CoCo Crochet Lee, a hand crochet cactus from Triple Knot Studio and an amazing set of hooks and notions.

UM... YES THIS IS THE ULTIMATE!!!!!!!

So click all the sponsor links to show them love and check them out then enter below!

Vogue Knit Live: Chicago Recap

Ok now, I have to tell you that I am still reeling from fiber inspiration and energy and all the amazing experiences that were part of my first Vogue Knitting Live New York a few months ago. So when I heard about VKL Chicago I thought - why not carry that energy right along and keep the fiber magic swirling?

Plus it was my birthday weekend so I decided to make it a fiber celebration.

I actually didn't hear about Vogue Knit Chicago until after I got back from New York. I wondered why it was low key, but was still just as excited to attend. I later heard from a friend who owns a local yarn shop they planed it late, in December, and that could be why it was low key. Well, low key or not, it was still super fun.

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They had a variety of classes and many were different from the class offerings in NYC. I appreciated that it was not a rinse and repeat of thr New York class schedule and there were lots that interested me. I signed up for finishing classes with Keith Leonard because um... finishing is where it's at right? It was fantastic.

The man is a WEALTH of knowledge and tips and tricks. In fact, I took two classes and learned so much. My knits are already showing improvement! Sometimes it is that one little thing, that Ah-Ha moment of "that is how yo do that" and it all clicks. Even though Keith's class was full to capacity, he took time to go around to EVERY student and review EVERY technique. It was lively and informative and I cant wait to go back for his advanced finishing course.

I had signed up for an Intarsia class but had to skip it to prep for my Knit @ Nite event. That was a real tough decision because Intarsia is on the tops of my list to learn and master. I kicked myself for the poor planning of thinking I could squeeze in that class before my Knit @ Nite event. Next time I am ALL ABOUT INTARSIA!

Saturday after class I hit the Marketplace. It was much smaller than the HUGE two full floors of shopping that is the VKL NYC Marketplace, but still full of wonderful vendors and fabulous fiber discoveries.

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One vendor discovery was Knitcrate. Have you heard of them? I had not and was so excited to learn that they are a knit AND crochet based subscription box. They work with artisans, designers and really seem to have brought something new to the table of subscription services. Not to mention they are based in Miami so of course I took a trip down memory lane and chatted with them about all things sand, sun and beach. Ah... it was awesome. I expect I will be hearing a lot more from Knitcrate in the future!

 

There were a few other fiber discoveries and of course I had to stop by and see friends. I tried several times Saturday to visit and shop at my favorite Yarn Culture NY but truly could hardly get into the booth it was so busy. It seems the secret is out on how awesome the fibers they carry are. Yes, Rosy Green Wool is AMAZING!! Guess I will just have to order some. Across the way it was buzzing at Steven Be's booth also and it was nice to see so many shopping!

The fashion show was not as ramped up and energized as I expected, and in fact I almost missed it.  I was really excited to see they brought crochet along with the knits and I saw some pieces I definitely plan to make.

Sunday came quickly and it was all over in a flash. I missed my morning class (sorry Patty Lyons) but before I darted off to support Jen Geigley at her book signing I took one more pass through the market.  It seemed that several booths had already been picked clean or started packing early by the time 2pm rolled around. It was already getting those scarce load out and head home vibes.

But of course, just like Vogue Knit Live in New York the most amazing thing about it all were the fiber friends. It was so fun running into fiber friends and making new ones and reminds me that whether big or small, it is the fiber family that makes these events so special.

I have to say that even though it is a much smaller event than VKL New York, Chicago Vogue Knit Live was still a fantastic experience and the Vogue team is top notch. It is hard not to compare because I was just in NYC at Vogue... they are so different and on its own I really enjoyed the Chicago event. I will definitely go back if Vogue returns to Chicago though I hope they will plan more in advance and bring more offerings.

I also plan not to skip any more classes! (sorry Patty Lyons)

Knit @ Nite Chicago Style

Oh what a night!

If you heard or read about my 7 Crazy Days in NYC earlier this year, then you know how much fun Knit @ Nite in NYC is and how much of a great time we had when we went. Hosted by knitwear designer Josh Bennett, it is a weekly gathering of knitters and revelers at Club Cumming in the East Village.

So when I heard about Vogue Knit Live Chicago, and knowing how much fun we have at Stitch Up Chicago I thought why not bring Knit@Nite to Chicago!

Genius right? 

I teamed up with my fave Chicago Yarn Shop - Nina Chicago and reached out to Josh to make the magic happen - and boy did we ever!

We took over the Two-Zero-Three cafe at the Virgin Hotel and turned into a social, evening knit hang haven. Cocktails, laughs, knits, and yarn ... it was a fantastic evening.

We were lucky enough to have so many gracious vendors contribute to over $1000 in prizes!  YES!!! OVER $1000 IN PRIZES!

It was so much fun pulling raffle tickets and seeing people get excited about all the amazing yarn and prizes. We even did a "Yarn for a question" version of the yarn toss! The Grand Prize for the night was quite the catch and the winner needed a tote to carry it all home.

Thank you to each of our sponsors who contributed (and I encourage you to check them out):



I think Knit@Nite needs to come to Chicago way more often and I am on a mission to make that happen. Though the venue had capacity limitations, we had a blast and if (WHEN) we do it again I know we will go bigger so more people can join the fun!I know I will definitely be there as host or just to attend!

And a special thank yo to our event sponsor Nina Chicago

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 4: Let's Just Talk

I was so beyond honored when Brittany of BHooked invited me on her podcast. As a fan of hers it was deeply humbling. As a designer it was incredibly flattering that she wanted me to share my thoughts on Garment Design with her audience. But scheduling was tough for me this year and it did not work out for that date and she was wrapping up her garment design series.

At first I was bummed. Then she asked me if I would like to be a guest on her Maker & Community Series.  Well, now this is some timing! I had just wrapped up my series of posts on community:

The minute she said the topic, I was instantly so grateful God had a plan better than my own and this message could be shared.

The outpouring of response and messages I have received since this aired has been incredible. So many have been touched and that is just so rewarding. I am re-sharing the podcast below and you can see all the notes, details and sign up to never miss and episode here on her page.

Oh Hey Jen Geigley!

I dare you to try something new. I don’t believe in mistakes. Trust your creativity and let your knits become what they want to be!
— Jen Geigley

It is easy to see why I just love Jen Geigley all wrapped up in this quote. It is so much what I am about - JUST CREATE!

The power and freedom in that quote as a knitter is just limitless. As a human in fact. Imagine taking on that great sweater pattern or idea you have been dreaming about and giving yourself permission to just go for it. Freedom from worrying about mistakes. Freedom to just trust the creative process and CREATE. Jen recently took that creativity to a whole new level and published not one, but two books of knitting patterns.

Visions takes her love for contemporary chunky knits to a new level infusing art and risks with each design. Not just in the finished product but the methodology to get there, Jen will lead you on a journey opening your creative doors. She shows you how to get there with a map but encourages you to chart your own course.

Visions Kids is an entire book of beginner friendly kids patterns that continues the inspiration and combination of knitting and art.

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She did a book signing at my LYS Nina Chicago and I got to sit down with Jen and talk about all the things that matter in creating and designing knitwear:

  • developing your look
  • staying true to yourself
  • taking risks and being bold when you do
  • get out on the creative ledge and JUMP
 

Stitch & Hustle Channel Episode 2: 

My very first interview and I am so excited! I am sitting down with Jen Geigley to talk knits, inspiration, taking risks and making art.