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.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 3: Finding Your Tribe

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I recently shared on social media about something I was facing:  The challenging side of maker world. I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the supportive messages I have received. It reminds me that it is too often that we allow others to dictate our self worth and how we feel. In an instant, the person(s) driving this situation had knocked me down. Sure I am human and have feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. But more importantly - it got me thinking.

Lots of prayer, quiet reflection and more prayer has gone into this post and what is the message of my experiences. What can these experiences not only teach me but can sharing about them possibly help others as well? I think it can and after receiving such an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these challenges, I decided to expand on that social media post and talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World that have come from this recent experience:

Weighty stuff to be sure, but important stuff I think. So I hope that by splitting this up into 3 posts it has been a process for you to evaluate and dig deep in your own world.

Find YOUR tribe. It sounds magical right?
Love Your Tribe: It is more than a slogan but a command that gives the warm fuzzies right?
It can be magical and it can be amazing. If it IS truly Your Tribe!

When we were kids it was easy. Here you go little human. This is your class and these are your playmates now. Boom. Instant friendships formed and the "finding" and "seeking out" of our kindred and like minded folk was nary a factor. As we got older we tended to lean toward some relationships over others and small groups of similar interests are born but this all stems form that initial set up of instant connection.

As adults with busy lives, and especially artisans with a passion, this task of deep connection is much harder. While we seek out those who are like-minded, we may also find ourselves developing trust issues and finding it harder to be vulnerable. We've been burned. We've got the scars of a life lived. We have experiences that shape our view of others. And we have our passions and needs; a determined set of criteria we need from those we give our trust and vulnerability too. Ah yes, it has become much more complicated than those days of here you go class and these are now your friends. 

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This new adult version of friend making and tribe finding can be quite a weighty challenge. Especially if you are like me. I am an extremely socially awkward human being, which is probably why my fiber world is so important to me. I feel at home with my fiber.  But we all have that instinctive need to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Part of a group. It is human nature and rightfully so. The key is to find where we fit. Where we ADD value. Where we can lift others up and be lifted ourselves.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
— Gal 5:13 (NLT)

What I have learned in all of my experiences is that we must first DEFINE our tribe!  This can be a painful process. But is so important.  This gives us the freedom to know when it is safe to take risks and know when we are truly supported.

To me, this is a layered approach and not simplistic in any way. My inner circle is so small I can name those in it on one hand and not use all my fingers. It is my circle of trust. It is my tribal elders for lack of better comparison. No questions asked and I have no doubts about trust and am free to be me and vulnerable. The good and the bad and all in between. I KNOW that anything my inner circle says to me is truly because they have MY best interest at heart. There is no other agenda at play.

Then there are other layers to your tribe. You can name them if you want, I don’t. I just know they are there. People who support me in one specific area or another. People I am friends with on various level and speak into my life. People who contribute to my journey. These are all people in my tribe and who add value. People who allow me to speak into their life and add value to them are also an important part of my tribe.

Then there is my own community and the community of this blog. These are also part of my tribe. I don’t care if I have ten followers or ten thousand. I care about the people behind the accounts and connecting with them.  I care about what value I can add to other people's lives, even if it is just this blog as a place to get some free patterns. Whatever it is, ADD VALUE.  

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown, undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe a certain pricing method or doctrine or business approach or whatever). They serve a purpose to be sure, but may not be a good fit for all. The journey to discover this for myself did hurt, but I got it now. And it is essential for those challenges to shape and help us grow. And oh I have grown and in the process DEFINED MY TRIBE.

And defining your tribe will help you find your tribe and help them find you. Be your authentic true self and the right people will stick around. And they will love you.

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In wrapping up this series, I want you to know this:  There are parts of the community that work for you, and parts that won’t. And that is OK!  It's important that you find & stick to your own voice, and find your own tribe.

I hope sharing this experience and the lessons from it encourages you. I encourage you to be a source of kindness and adding value and let the rest take care of itself.

7 Crazy Days & Nights of Yarn in New York City - Part 2: The Big Show

Ah yes - I am still sort of taking it all in... and that is why it has taken me so long to blog about. That whirlwind trip home was more than enough fiber food to feed my soul for many moons. And it has been non-stop since, causing a delay in even time to share it all with you. But I am here to say Vogue Knit Live (VKL) NYC 2018 was by far one of the best things I have ever done in my life.

I was already on fiber cloud nine from a week full of pre-game fiber fabulousness but that was nothing compared to the next 3 days. 

I had never been to VKL before and truly did not know what to expect. I was a little hesitant when I first registered because I was going a lone. Sure, I am a natural loner, but it can be intimidating to go to these big events solo. And this felt HUGE to me. This is VOGUE. I was there for myself to learn but also offered a press pass for my blog. I felt an unspoken pressure to measure up to that honor. The pressure wasn't real. It is what we do to ourselves right?

So I just dig deep, pray and be brave.

Well, from the minute I stepped off the elevator, for the first time in my life, that weight was lifted. I truly did not worry about being there "alone" or by myself. I was home. I was with MY people. It all felt just right. I felt confident and welcomed all at once by thousands of fellow fiber enthusiasts. It's funny how we build things up to fear then when we do them it is like.. wait... THIS IS AMAZING... why was I scared?

I had nothing to worry about - It was like instant knit happiness the minute I walked in. The energy in the whole building, heck on the block entering the hotel was tangible. It was elevated and incredible. I knew I was in for a fab few days.

I kicked things off with an all day designer intensive course with Josh Bennett. It was great to have already met him and connected so I felt a bit more at ease. It was truly something special to be in a solid full class with other designers, sharing ideas, talking about ways to elevate. Learning from Josh on how to grow and improve in our own design path. He also took time to meet with EVERY STUDENT one on one about our work. I did not see that coming and it was quite impressive to have an opportunity for that kind of feedback and learning. I can tell you that I left that class with so much gained and so much to think about.

I truly think of all the workshops or classes I took, that one left the biggest impact to my design work. Not just because of the lessons taught. But also the thinking that class inspired me to start doing about my work and my approach to designing is a game changer. Josh's class is what I would call disruptive AF and in the best way. It is a big part of why I changed my plan for 2018 and decided to take a 6 month step back and slow down April - September. To feed my soul and grow and enjoy every stitch and design with intention. AH SO GOOD!!!!!

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After class I hit the marketplace with my new BFF Kristy Glass for a bit. That was quite the scene I tell you. The market was a bit of sensory overload. ALL the people, ALL the fiber, ALL the color, and that was just the entrance! We did our first perusal but barely made any headway because we had to keep stopping to touch all the yarn lol. Like ALL. THE. YARN.

We popped over to the cocktail party the Dover Publishing was having to celebrate the launch of the new book Glamourie. Yummy food, unwinding after a crazy first day and hanging out with fellow fiber folk. Yeah - that was my kind of evening. Not quite sure what time I left or it ended but I know I was looking at my watch thinking, whoa nelly better get some sleep for tomorrow.

Guys - that was just DAY ONE!

Woke up super early for day two because I was taking Brioche 101 with Nancy Marchant. You know, only the queen of Brioche Knitting herself. It was one of those things where you want to learn and soak in as much as you can of both the person AND the lesson. She is the real deal y'all. It is a beautiful and magical stitch so I can why it is hot and on trend and everywhere right now, but, as a fairly new knitter, brioche scared the bleepers out of me. Nancy made it so simple. So easy to follow along. I was able to SEE how to do the stitches. I learned also that I learn better that way. I am primarily self taught and this type of instruction was incredible to have someone, a pro, THE pro, sit and show you stitch by stitch is quite something. Now I want to make all the brioche things. Can I? Please?

I even got myself somehow inducted into Team Brioche with Nancy, Stephen West and Lavanya Patricella, so it is official now y'all.

Having done my first walkabout and Marketplace preview Friday, Saturday was my day to shop and truly dive in. I had noted  a few booths I definitely wanted to come back and spend time at and get yarn from. I mean, even now I think back and I am certain I only got to half of the booths. Check my Haul recap for more on the Marketplace of awesome.

I took a market break for the Fashion Show but have to tell you that it was hard to get a good spot. Definitely making note to get a seat early next year. Though at the same time, if you don't mind missing the show, that is prime time to shop as booth traffic is light in that area.

I had every intention of going to the VKL Gala Saturday Night, in fact I paid a hefty ticket price to be there. But I didn't feel like getting gussied up to go solo to a dinner. Because the truth is that I wasn't solo anymore. I had made fiber friends and was with my peeps and that was a far better choice than hitting up a fancy dinner solo.

So I hung with Stephanie from Asylum Fibers (you MUST check her out) and her fab group of indie dyers for dinner then spent the rest of the evening knitting and chatting away with my new bestie Chantal, also known as The Flying Yak. We sat, we had snacks and beverages, we knit, we chatted, we sat in silence at times.. it was in fact my idea of a perfect Saturday night. Eventually the bar closed and we were forced to face the fact that while yes it is NYC and we could relocate, we should probably sleep to prep for that one last day of VKL.

And the most hilarious part is how almost at every turn Kristy and I would run into each other. As if by design this was meant to be our VKL experience. Even when we closed the place down on Day TWO!

Day 3 started with more of a workout than I had planned. The elevator at the hotel broke and that gave me a 32 flight climb and descend just before class. OYE! I was worried I would be late to class (and I was) but all in good fun and plus it was some extra cardio for the day for the win right? This class was interactive, exciting, fun and truly unexpected. You can read more about the amazing Yarn Bomb class here.

One last post class Marketplace perusal, a bit of time with new friends who are like family already and then it was time to say goodby. It was a whirlwind. I am glossing over a few things because I would have to write a book to cover it all thoroughly.

All in all, my first Vogue Knit Live was superb. Lots of things I will do different next year, and some I will only hope and pray are total repeats of awesome. This event is worth every minute and every penny. Knocked me to a new level and could not be more grateful. I do want to leave you with some solid takeaways from my first VKL. So here we go:

1. DO IT! If you have never done it but always wanted to - GO!!! It is worth it.

2. Watch out for the over registration. It all looks good and makes sense on paper so I spent money I did not need to registering for things I never went to. So when you are planning your VKL experience, be intentional with what you sign up for. I signed up for 3 lectures and a Gala dinner I never went to. That money could have bought YARN!

3. Wear comfortable shoes. Good gravy please wear comfortable shoes.

4. It is A LOT. Give yourself grace to miss it all. I will definitely slow down next year and spend more time taking it all in rather than trying to fit it all in. Those are distinctly different and I beleive makes for different experiences.

5. The best thing about VKL Live are the people. Period. Instructors, staff and attendees all included. THESE are my people. And I can say without hesitation or doubt that it felt like home. I made lifelong friends and was inspired by human connection through love of fiber and nothing, NOTHING, is better than that.

Stitch Up Chicago 2018 - HECK YEAH!

Was it a dream? Did that all just happen? Oh my goodness Stitch Up Chicago how you are the most beautiful amazing days of the year. I am filled with so much gratitude and love from two days of amazing connections through fiber.  For me it is so personal, and so very special because when I started this blog it was all about giving back freely, sharing what I know and inspiring the fiber (and maker) community. Stitch Up Chicago was born as an extension of the blog to bring those online connections together and grow in community off line. I had no idea the reward would be so grand. So tangibly amazing. Words cannot describe it so let's just relive it all one more time in a fabulous recap.

And you can bet I am already dreaming ahead and planning Stitch Up Chicago 2019!

We kicked things off with a little pre-game afternoon tea and snacks at one of my FAVORITE places, Nina Chicago LYS (local yarn shop).  This was super cool because Nina has a new owner, Hilary, and I just LOVE HER and she was such a great host. The gals did some (a lot) of shopping and we definitely got into the Stitch Up Chicago mode.  Hilary has done a pretty amazing job since taking over Nina Chicago and if you are in Chicago definitely go say hi and check it out. Also - they make a mean cuppa ;-)


Back at the Virgin Hotel for the second year in a row, things got off to quite the start Friday with the Wool And The Gang Tau Zion Lion Beanie Knit Kit and a super yummy dinner. And of course, cocktails. It was pretty fabulous to have people there who had never met but share a love for all things fiber. The energy was just INCREDIBLE. I cannot put it into words because IT WAS AMAZING and even that in all caps doesn't cut it.

The Tau Zion Lion Beanie was the perfect kit because we had several new knitters who were so excited to learn. I mean how cool is that? Sign up and register for a Knit intensive event and not know how to knit! That is right because at Stitch Up Chicago you will learn. And they did.

One of the most magical things that happened Friday night was Nancy. Nancy was a guest at the Virgin hotel, in town for a completely different event over the weekend. On her way to the restroom, she noticed all these laughing, smiling, knitting people. She popped in and asked.. "What is this? Some kind of knitting party?" You bet it is! And within 15 minutes Nancy had a kit in hand, pulled up a spot on the sofa and was fully immersed in Stitch Up Chicago Knit Party. Her husband even came down a few hours later to see what was going on and where she went off to. lol. The magic of fiber!!! And the best - Nancy won the raffle for the day including a London Kaye Kit from Lion Brand. She was even a double winner because London was there knitting with us and signed the Kit for her. Truly could not have been more perfect or more magical.

And super fun bonus - Yes, we made two new knitters and I taught London how to knit. Friday night went way past the designated 7pm end time. And no one was shocked by the wee hour end of our knit hang.

Here are just a few snaps of all the fun and pardon the blur - we were having too much fun to worry about it. I have to tell you it was truly a night of smiles, laughs and kits. Yummy eats and a few cocktails too.


Saturday started off with so many yummy eats, new faces and surprises. We were working up the Betta Knit Adela Kit and it was super fun to see so many new knitters get in the action.  Betta Knit sent some really fun colors and perfect for that chill Virgin Knit vibe we had going. (The fine team at Betta Knit is giving you 25% off through March 2018 with code 144XBK17 if you want to try some too). Saturday morning definitely went by too fast.

Something new this year was that we added workshops to really feed into our fiber souls and maker hearts. First was the Yarn Tasting sponsored by Universal Yarn. Now, I am a fan of Universal Yarn and in fact they are my selected fiber for the Stitch & Hustle Kit Shop. But I know that many are not familiar with them. So this was super exciting for me to introduce these fibers that I love so much to everyone. It is something special to see someone's face when they discover a "New Fiber".  Universal sent some of my favorite fibers along with samples for everyone to see how they work out and lots for everyone to swatch and play with. Based on the feedback I can tell Universal Yarns has some new fans. It was quite a success.

Another workshop series we added was the Photography Series led by my photographer Hannah Weiss. This was special because no matter if you are sharing photos of your fiber for your business or for your passion to friends and family - you always want to show them in the best light (pun intended). And let's be honest - nothing is more frustrating than spending hours upon hours to create something beautiful then having to spend TWICE as long to photograph it!

Hannah led a hands on workshop and Q&A covering everything from at home hacks, how to find the light, filters and apps to help you edit and be true to your own voice and look and how to develop your brand look. It was really fantastic to see so many picking up tips and tricks to improve showing off their creations


As if that wasn't already an amazing event - we closed things out with the most phenomenal Yarn Bomb Party EVER! I had the opportunity to meet and connect with London Kaye, at Vogue Knit Live in NYC and when she said she wanted to come yarn bomb and lead a workshop at Stitch Up Chicago I was beyond excited. In fact, I could hardly contain it. And to top that off, she had just launched her yarn, hooks and kits and the amazing people at Lion Brand joined in the fun and sent us SO. MUCH. YARN. that I could not even count it all.

It was incredible to see so many fiber loving humans come together to make fiber pieces that would become one big PEACE (see what I did there?). London shared a bit of her history and how she found her passion for yarn bombing and developed her ergonomic crochet hooks on a 3D printer. GENIUS! Every grabbed some yarn and moments later there were smiles, creations and it all started to come together.

And of course, my favorite part of the event was teaching people to knit & crochet. Over the course of the event, I taught 5 people to knit and 2 people to crochet and can honestly say that might very well be my favorite part of it all. And we got those pieces worked right into our yarn bomb! Sharing my fiber love is the greatest gift of all.

Truly magical. And the result of us all coming together was so symbolic of what Stitch Up Chicago and this blog is all about: COMMUNITY. This awesome fiber Community. It was in fact the perfect - and only way - Stitch Up Chicago 2018 could have ended.

I am so humbled and so grateful to all who came out and all who supported this event. THANK YOU!

Let's rest up and do it again next year!

 

Have a scroll through our Yarn Bomb Slideshow and look at all the amazing creative fiber contributions, smiles and laughs as we prepare and then yarn bomb the Virgin Hotel. You can visit our installation all through the month of March.


Special thanks to Hannah Schweiss Photography for capturing the true magic and joy of this event.

A very BIG THANK YOU & HUGE shout out of gratitude to all of the
Stitch Up Chicago Sponsors. Could not have done it without them. Please check them out and stay tuned for more about each of them.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright: Just Do YOU!

Hi Everyone.

I little off the topic but in relation to my most recent series to Shine Your Light Bright, I want to encourage everyone to please go read VanessaKnits Instagram post from yesterday here.

I’ve shared that I had recently experienced some really poor treatment and drama from Social Media and I have been trying so hard to understand it.

I realized that I have (unsuccessfully) been trying to find a way to remind people not everyone has to make this a business and not everyone has the same path. It’s about what’s right for you or me or whoever. Your fiber journey is YOURS. And some will be a business and some will be a side hustle for a few extra dollars and some will be just to love fiber. NONE will have to be the same.

It’s part of what I feel is the core of so much of the “Maker Community” nonsense and drama I see and hear about and have experienced - and why I’ve had to really step away from it all.

I feel like there’s an unspoken pressure through social media and all these groups to make these big businesses or design this or make that or work with this brand or use that yarn - and all of it is unnecessary - because it’s really ok to just love to knit or love to crochet. It is ok to be on YOUR path and still celebrate or share someone else's.

I work hard and yes this is my full time job but this is MY path. I do not expect it to be the same as anyone else.  I will continue to share ways to help your fiber journey and this blog because I feel that is my calling and part of my fiber journey - to encourage others. You can coem for the free patterns, come for the tips on markets or come for the fiber finds. Whatever your reason you are welcome here and i am glad to have you.

But the thing I want to encourage most is this: I want to encourage every single one of you to follow your path and if you feel that unspoken pressure brush it off, turn on some music and dance. Or make something. 

JUST DO YOU!!!

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And thanks to Vanessa who i have had the pleasure of meeting and working with and gotten to know to remind me and all of us about this important truth.

7 Crazy Days & Nights of Yarn in New York City - Part 1: The Pre Game

This post is a bit of a scrapbook entry and homage to an amazing week. A bit of a humble and deeply grateful "I cannot believe that happened" and a bit of wow... I AM DOING THIS! For the 5 Minute recap version, watch this Episode on my YouTube Channel here.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a proud New Yorker. Born and bred. NYC to the core. I remember when Times Square was where you went to get a fake ID and hope you didn't get caught, not where you went to get a picture with Elmo! My city and I have both been through a lot of changes over the years. So this trip was extra special. This is the first time, since leaving New York that I was going home on my terms. Not for a contract, or a show, or a job. I was going home for my passion - yarn.

Sure I had been back many times over the years since I left in 2002, but that was for work in my former job or social visits. Something about this trip, going for MY FIBER JOURNEY was so special. That my fiber love and work has brought me home, well it is something I am having a hard time describing in words so I hope I am explaining it well as I get a little choked up just typing this.

I had wanted to go to Vogue Knitting Live in New York for a few years now. Previously I didn't go because I was only a crocheter and couldn't knit so I was so super intimidated and also my career and small business wasn't in a place to go to a yarn party in NYC for a weekend. Until now. So as I was planning to head home for Vogue Knitting Live (VKL), I decided to head to town a few days early to see friends, check out the NYC yarn scene and take it all in.

It just so happened that Lion Brand Yarn, who I have had the incredible honor of working with, was hosting a blogger bash the same week of VKL so many of my fellow blogger friends were going to be in town as well. Bonus! So we teamed up to take on Knit Night at Club Cumming hosted by Josh Bennett (yes, I fan-girled a bit). It was a pre- VKL extravaganza of knitters and yarn and awesome and so much fun.

We staked our claim to some road cases for the DJ over by the coat check area and made ourselves what we dubbed Hookerville. Oh yeah - a corner of hookers at Knit Night at Club Cumming in NYC. It was a blast. What a great way to get this trip started!

Since we were all in town we decided to host a Sip & Stitch to bring our online community together offline for a little yarn fun at the Flatiron Hall.  I encourage you to read Stephanie's incredible documentary style recap of her trip here and Alexi of Two Of Wands here. It was an incredible honor to spend time with them and host our event. Connecting through stitching is something so special. Since I live in a very rural area and am a total introvert it was awesome to have this opportunity to connect offline with so many of our community. I was kind of blown away by how many came out for this get together and it gave me all the warm fuzzies. I got to meet people I truly felt like I already had known for years.

On our way back to the Airbnb Jess had us stop and we just took in the architecture and the Flatiron Building lit up. It was one of those special moments and the perfect way to end the evening. I was also so excited that I  was not the only who loved and am inspired by architecture. You will be hearing more about the Flatiron soon. I promise. Anyways...

Side note - as I am writing this post and looking at all of our fabulous photos I am realizing...I had worn my new Mammoth Poncho that was hot off the hook in so many of the pics - because yes I pretty much lived in it lol. I really do love it. Back to the trip...

It was such a gift that our trips overlapped and I got to spend time with my fellow bloggers. We often speak a language all our own and being part of a group of gals who so inspire me is just so special. I have to say that some of my favorite moments from the trip were those late nights back at the airbnb with the gals.

Another pretty amazing part of this trip was getting to spend time with Brandi of PurlBKnit. She is such a source of constant inspiration for me and her vibe is infectious with joy and light. She was being featured on an Etsy segment for NBC and invited me to join her.

Etsy HQ is so full of light and color and inspiration and creativity.  Being there to support her was a real treat and they didn't mind my natural inclination to goof off a bit and bring the laughs.

As if this wasn't already yarn awesome overload I had to remember, I had only been in town 2 days! Things were just getting started!!!! I took some time to visit some old dear friends and have a mini glam sesh of pampering. I cannot even tell you how much fun that was. These are friends I have known for 20 years! People who have been there for the good the bad and all the many stages of life in between. Such a special and important part of the trip and also a great way to regroup in the midst of all the yarn happenings.

I hit up Knitty City for a quick shopping minute (more on that later) and then if was off for dinner with Kristy Glass and the fiber fam. Kristy pulled a few of her knitty fiber friends together for a super yummy dinner at Max Brennar Chocolate.

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Now I have to pause for minute and tell you that when I got the invitation I had to check twice. I am a new knitter and still knew as a blogger and designer. Could this invitation really be for me? These gals really want to get to know me? I was humbled. Overwhelmed. Grateful. Blown away. All the feelings. In fact this face Kristy made when I said something outrageous was pretty much the same face I made when I was invited.

Max Brennar was pretty awesome and the gals at dinner were the real deal. All the yummy fiber feels being in the company of gals who get it. As an outsider most of my life this feeling of "family" was so special and I will never forget it. It made me not even mind that they forgot to bring us our chocolate pizza.

Full hearts. Full bellies. Full fiber feels. We then hightailed it ove rthe the mYak launch party for the Michele Wang capsule collection. Michele Wang is the real deal and her designs always inspire me and blow me away. This was super cool because we got a chance to learn more about mYak Fibers, hear Paola Vanzo (co-owner of mYak) talk about their new NYC space and the history of the fibers and what the company is working towards and to hear Michele talk about her design process. I was taking as many mental notes as possible while celebrating this beautiful collection.

I have photos of me talking with Michele Wang and you can literally see on my face I am hanging on her every word. I don't mind admitting that I was both a fan and a student in that moment. It is so incredible to work in an industry where the designers and people who inspire us (me) are not only real but available and welcoming. Knitting is truly the only place I know that is like that. I have yet to encounter someone who has inspired me or who is super successful who has not taken the time to share, encourage and empower my own journey. Michele is just another example of the awesomeness knitwear designers represent.

And I digress. Back to the trip...

And if you can believe it, the VKL Pre-Game festivities were still going so Kristy & I hightailed it uptown to the Love Knitting blogger party. Though we arrived late, I could tell the festivities were still in full swing and we joined right in. I loved how the entire space was decorated in British Themes and meeting the Love Knitting & Love Crochet team was so awesome. 

I got to meet several bloggers I had not known as well as hang with my gals. One blogger I got to meet who really made an impression is Wilma Westenberg. She came all the way from Netherlands and is such a doll. Her NYC recap is also really fabulous and you can check it out here. And that is what is so special about these events. It goes way beyond the cool swag and free stuff (though we all know that is super awesome and fun), but it is about really making those connections with fellow fiber folk. Love Knitting party and team was pretty fantastic and since I have only recently started working with them, I was very humbled when they invited me to their party... And I got to learn about their new yarn programs! Winning!

 

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This was truly the most perfect way to cap off all of the VKL Week Pre-Game Festivities.

I was incredibly inspired by every minute. In fact - wait until you see the new collection coming later this year inspired by this trip and my NYC roots! But I barely had a minute to rest up because Vogue Knitting Live started in just a few hours!

Stay tuned... Part 2 coming soon

Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone with London Kaye at VKL NYC 2018

One of my favorite parts of Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2018 was that they had a London Kaye Yarn Bombing Workshop. I was excited because I knew this would be a highly interactive and extremely fun way to learn more about London but also some tips and techniques to achieve my own Yarn Bombing aspirations.

The day started off with a bang. The elevator at the hotel broke and that gave me a 32 flight climb and descend. OYE! I was worried I would be late to class (and I was) but all in good fun and plus cardio for the day for the win right?

The class and London were amazing. She gave us a brief overview of her background and it was super fun to learn so much more about her. I had no idea she was on Amazing Race. HOW DID I MISS THIS FACTOID???? She also talked about how her art, crochet, started and I loved her organic journey. I won't act as her biographer but I highly recommend you get to know her story if you get a chance.

Then we got our hands dirty and by dirty I mean it was PLAY TIME!!!! We not only yarn bombed a chair together but London brought a lot of her scraps from previous yarn bombs for us to play with and create something new. It was magical.

Working with London was super fun and inspiring. It really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and I think that was what I liked best about the workshop.  As primarily a garment designer, math and dimensions and measurements are a huge part of what I do. Shapes and sizing and all the detail are essential. I love it. It drives me and makes me work to do better and improve. But that was a challenge when I want to yarn bomb because I am always too hung up on precise stitch work and detail to every millimeter.

London's workshop really taught me how to throw caution to the wind and just make art. Not that my fashion and garment designs aren't art but this is different and really pushed my thinking and approach. It is more about the overall art. The joy of adding yarn and color and texture or a message.

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Truly the class turned out to be more than I hoped and I am so glad I signed up for it. It pushed me to get out of my comfort  zone of charts and schematics and graph paper and into the world of free form and who knows what will happen if I skip  stitch (OH MY GOSH DID I JUST SAY THAT?!) and the beauty of not knowing what stitch may be next.

I also found out London is launching new Yarn Bomb kits with Lion Brand Yarn!!! That is so exciting because now you too can try it out and start to think outside the box. Or even better why not come Yarn Bomb with London & Me! Yup...



To celebrate her new Kit Launch with Lion Brand Yarn,  London is coming to host a Yarn Bomb Party at Stitch Up Chicago!!!! So yes -  you too can come and get outside the box and learn some fun tricks to bring fiber art to the world and join us as we yarn bomb in Chicago. Register Here.

And check out all of London Kaye's new Kits with Lion Brand here!!