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If it’s a Wednesday night there’s only one place you can find me – T-Bone’s Records & Cafe. Why? Because it’s Stitch ‘n Bitch night! My favorite night of the week! Do you have a group of friends that you knit with regularly? If not, you should! Knitting (and crafting of any kind) is always best when shared with others. And if you can’t find a local group to join, then create one! That’s what I did!

When we were living in Columbia, SC I had a group that got together weekly for coffee, stitching, and shared stories. For those with kids, it was a break from the chaos. For those in school, it was a break from studying. For all of us, it was a break from the constant buzz of busy lives and something we all looked forward to. We even caught the attention of the local newspaper!


When we made the move to Hattiesburg, MS I was leaving behind not only a lifetime of friends and family (I had lived in Columbia my entire life!) but I was also leaving behind my crafting community. A community that was built on shared interests and a love for the handmade and grew to become a family of sorts that rode the peaks and valleys of life together. I knew NO ONE in Hattiesburg. Not a soul. How was I going to survive?

But you know what? Knitters are EVERYWHERE. And it turns out I didn’t have to venture any farther than my front yard to meet my first one in Hattiesburg. Her name was Heidi and she lived just a few blocks away! She was walking her dogs and stopped to chat. When she asked what I do for a living I sheepishly (ba-dum-bum!) said that I used to be a librarian but was now pursuing knitwear design. I expected her to go “huh?” but instead, her face lit up! “I’M A KNITTER, TOO!” she exclaimed. And BAM, in an instant, a friendship was born.

After that, it seemed like Hattiesburg knitters and crafters started coming out of the woodwork. But it wasn’t until I met my friend, Sam, that the idea to form another knitting group became a reality. Sam knew other knitters/crafters from a group that used to get together regularly and mentioned that she missed the camaraderie. It was then that Hub City Crafters was born.

Every week we descend on the local record shop/cafe, eat some great food, drink some great beer and coffee, and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We are an eclectic mix of ladies and gents who knit, crochet, embroider, make jewelry, and more! These gals (and guys!) have seen me through each of my pattern releases and are my best cheering section when the self-doubt creeps in. They are also my best “idea-bouncer-off-ers” when it comes to the look (or the name!) of any design I’m working on.

What would I do without them? I don’t know and I don’t want to find out. I can honestly say that ALL of my closest friends here in Hattiesburg I have met through my knitting group. What started out as a handful of people has grown to two (sometimes three!) tables full of laughter (and sometimes even some stitching). We’ve made coffee cozies to sell in the cafe for Habitat for Humanity. We’ve yarnbombed downtown Hattiesburg. Who knows what’s next on our crafty agenda!

So take some time to create with others. In my opinion, it is a requirement when it comes to your own creative growth. And thankfully, with websites like Ravelry and Craftsy, even if you live in a place where getting together in person is not an easy task, you can still be part of a community that can nurture and help grow your own creative side. If you are looking for a crafting community in your area to join, there are two great places to search! If you are on Ravelry, you can browse their groups by location to find a group near you! There is also a directory of local Stitch ‘n Bitch groups at stitchnbitch.org.

By the way, all of YOU are part of my creative community, too, and for that I say Thank You. xoxo

 

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Hello 2014!

Yes, I know it’s February and we are well into 2014 but I feel like I’m still getting acclimated to it. So it still feels like the start of a new year to me.

I haven’t posted since October! Yikes. I got completely sucked into the chaos of the holidays. My grandmother passed away in November (at the young age of 102!) so between that and Thanksgiving and Christmas, we fit in three road trips to South Carolina (600 miles one way) in the span of about 5 weeks. I seriously felt like I was living in our car. I am thankful to be home and able to stay put for a while.

In my last post about my Halona pattern, I mentioned how I had designed it to use in lieu of a winter coat since winters down here in Mississippi “are really not too bad.” Oh boy. By uttering those words I had unknowingly sealed our fate. This has been the worst. winter. ever. Apologies to everyone in America! It’s all my fault! Even as I write this, it’s doing some sort of combo snow/sleet/rain thing outside. I’m wearing wool socks, two pairs of pajama bottoms, three shirts and a scarf. Layers, people. It’s what’s keeping me alive right now.

Just last week it sleeted for probably 18 hours straight. The roads were a mess and walking outside was done at your own risk. Our front yard looked like a winter wonderland except that it wasn’t snow! It was pure sleet. Gross.

So I did the only thing I knew to do! I hunkered down with plenty of knitting and kept myself warm with copious amounts of coffee… 

Those are my marigold socks that I started two years ago. I was going through my hibernating projects and decided these need to be finished. That’s true for a lot of other projects. Maybe 2014 will be my year of finishing stuff.

I did start (and finish!) several things over the past few months! Since practically everyone I know had a baby, there was a lot of baby knitting and crocheting, including several hats and this blanket, which was my favorite, by far…

The pattern is Girasole by Jared Flood and I really loved knitting it. I hadn’t knit lace in a long time so it was great to get back to it.

I also designed a cowl that I just need to tweak a bit and then write up the pattern! So hopefully I can do that soon! Then I’ll need test knitters! {hint hint}

I hope you are staying warm where you are! And if you’re reading this in the southern hemisphere, please send the warmer seasons our way! I am D-O-N-E with winter.

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Changing Light

changinglight

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Fall is probably my favorite season and that transition period between summer (my least favorite season! SO HOT!) and fall just puts a permanent smile on my face (and a little spring in my step!). My first hint that fall is coming is the changing light. Have you noticed that? The shadows get longer. The color of the mornings and evenings is different. It’s hard to explain how it’s different but I notice it. And it gets me very very excited! Of course, the Mississippi heat has not relented yet but I know that’s coming soon because the light is changing!

This time of year I start thinking about weekends watching football, chilis and stews simmering on the stove, pumpkin in everything. Concerts in the park, open windows, chilly mornings. And of course knitting. It’s the start of knitting season! My hands start itching for a new, warmer project. Maybe a sweater. Maybe a blanket. It’s like unwrapping a gift! Ahh… fall… I’m glad you’re (almost) here.

This fall will be extra special because I have a new pattern coming out in early October. It’s the perfect shawl for this transition to colder days. Like a warm blanket to wrap yourself up in as you head out the door (but it’s not a blanket, it’s a shawl! So you won’t look like a homeless person!). It’s currently in the hands of my trusty test-knitters and I can’t wait for its debut. And it’s a fairly quick and simple knit. A good project for those evenings spent curled up on the couch watching TV. No concentration required.

I hope you’re as excited about the change in seasons as I am. Look for the changing light!

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So I guess the title of this post could have two meanings. The first being Yay! Spring is here! The birds are back! The flowers are blooming! The second being the *chirp-chirp* of crickets as this blog has been very very quiet lately! Well, as for the latter, the past few months have been filled with ups! And downs. One big “up” (and my main timesuck the past couple of months) has been the planning and implementation of a yarn bombing in downtown Hattiesburg that we successfully pulled off this past weekend for the Spring Art Walk. The yarn bombing deserves its own blog post so stay tuned for that! It ate up a lot of yarn and I drank up a lot of coffee!

A big “down” happened in February as an F-4 tornado came through Hattiesburg and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings (on my 36th birthday, no less!). Thankfully, no one was killed.

Taken Feb. 12, 2013 – two days after the tornado hit. This is at our local Red Cross (just 1/3 of a mile from our house). It was completely destroyed.

These were taken April 11, 2013 – two months after the tornado hit. Still a lot of clean-up and rebuilding left to do.

I think I went into a bit of a funk after the tornado. I didn’t really want to do anything! I didn’t knit. I didn’t crochet. I had gone out the morning of for a”birthday run” but didn’t lace up my shoes again until more than a week later. I wanted to limit my exposure to all of the devastation. It had wiped out most of the old beautiful trees in front of the university. It changed our city. But, life is really starting to move forward here in Hattiesburg. We are busying ourselves with outdoor concerts, art walks, festivals. Yarn bombings! Spring is definitely bringing new life to our city!

And of course, once I started running regularly again, my mood started to lift! Go figure! That, coupled with the warmer temps, made me long for my knitting needles and crochet hooks. It even made me crave a bit of sewing!

So I decided to embrace this newly awakened sewing urge and finish some quilt blocks I had been slacking on for a quilting bee (before really buckling down for all of my yarn bombing projects).

Spring also gifted me with a nice surprise this week! I received Patternfish’s April newsletter and was shocked to see that my Flower Market Shawl pattern made the Prime Minister’s list of favorite patterns for 2012! She narrowed her original three page list down to only 18 patterns! Her kind words about my pattern were the icing on the cake (and a bit of a “pinch me” moment)! It was definitely a great start to my week!

I hope that Spring has brought you a few lovelies as well! And maybe inspired you to pull out your sewing machine, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or that project that’s been languishing. It is definitely my most favorite season of the year. I just wish it lasted longer down here! It’s starting to feel like summer already!

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Endings and Beginnings

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Scenery on a run at my parents’ house on Lake Murray in SC

I love this time of year. When one year comes to an end and another begins. It’s like getting a clean slate. My energy level increases. My “to-do” list gets longer (and I get excited about it!). I always wish that I could bottle this feeling of excitement, hope and motivation and partake of it whenever I’m feeling uninspired.

This is always my time to make lists. Resolutions. Goals. And I take time to reflect on the lists of last year.

My two main goals for 2012 were to become a runner and run a 5K. I’m happy to say that I did both! I really fell in love with running and I love being able to compete with myself and see improvements every day. And the new friends I’ve made through running have been invaluable!

Another goal I had was to release another pattern. I didn’t do that! I have a few things that I’m working on but never got any of them out there. I guess 2013 will be their year!

My goals for 2013:

  • Run 1,000 miles. This one may be tricky since I’m averaging about 3 miles per week right now due to the lingering effects of bronchitis. But hopefully I can quickly make up for lost miles.
  • Get completely organized. This is a lofty goal! Some aspects of my life are organized and some are not! It’s only made more difficult by the fact that we are still finishing renovations on our house. Hopefully we will finish those soon and everything will have a place once again.
  • Have more time for crafty things. I feel like my craft time was sorely lacking in 2012 and I want that to change. I need that to change!
  • Learn something new. I think I’ve already taken about a million Craftsy courses but I’m already scoping out more. Perhaps the Artisan Cheese Making Class or the Jam and Marmalade Class? I want to learn it all! (by the way, if you haven’t signed up for Craftsy, you should! The classes are really amazing and you can take them on your own schedule and your access to them never expires! And you have access to the instructor to ask questions along the way. Want to learn to knit? Maybe learn to crochet? They have everything from quilting to cake decorating to jewelry making and more! Can you tell I love them?)
  • Eat healthier. More fruits and vegetables! I’m going to do my best to have a successful garden this summer. I don’t think of myself as having much of a green thumb but I’m hoping that will change. I’m currently taking the Garden Fresh Class and I’m learning a lot. (The instructor’s garden is AMAZING. Very inspiring!)
  • Release another pattern. Or two… Or three… I seriously need to get my butt in gear on this one. Perhaps my goal of more craft time will result in more patterns. I sure do hope so!
  • Give more handmade gifts at Christmas. I always want to make people gifts for Christmas but my problem is that I think about it in November when there is NO TIME to get it all done. So someone please remind me of this in July so that I can actually make it happen!
  • Spiffy up this blog. I’ve been wanting to transfer this thing to a self-hosted WordPress blog so that I can have more “creative control” of the look and feel of things. And I’m hoping that this will be the year I take the plunge and do it. Has anyone out there done this before? Gone from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? Recommendations on hosting? I’ll take any and all advice!

I hope I’m able to meet every one of those goals this year! What are your goals for 2013? I’d love to hear them! I hope that 2013 is your best year yet!

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End of Summer

The summer ends and we wonder who we are… ~Dar Williams

So, yesterday was Labor Day and I guess that marks the end of summer (although the weather here in south Mississippi did not get the memo).

I would say that out of all of the seasons, summer may be my least favorite. I love the longer days but I hate the heat! (Like seriously, I have NO LOVE for the heat of a southern summer.) I feel like I go into hibernation during the summer (I’d never make it as a bear). I slow way down (probably because movement will just make it feel hotter). My creative juices dry up. And my motivation takes its own summer vacation. But once I start to notice tiny glimpses of Fall, I start to stretch and slowly wake from my slumber.

So what have I been up to this summer? Well, let’s see… I’m still running! You may remember I hired a running coach in January and he’s been a fixture in my life ever since (whether I like it or not!). No really, it’s been a great experience and I’m actually feeling like a “real” runner. I still haven’t actually run a race yet (I’m waiting for the cooler weather to arrive) but I’m definitely logging some miles. This week I’ve got 18 miles of running on the schedule! In the high heat and humidity! Good times! Again, if any of you are on dailymile please add me as a friend so we can cheer each other on! I swear it’s the words of encouragement from my dailymile friends that keep me going some days!

Have I been knitting? Crocheting? Yes. A little. If it weren’t for Knit Nite every week at my local cafe/record store, I definitely would have gotten a LOT less done. (Again, I blame the summer heat!) Have I actually finished anything? Yes. I did finish my Aidez sweater just in time for the hot weather so I don’t have a finished pic of it yet. And I’m this close to finishing my Ruffle Rose Pillow. I just need to do a few more rows and find a pillow form. And of course, with Fall coming, I’ve got a bad case of startitis. I want to make ALL THE THINGS. I can’t look through a knit/crochet magazine without at least five projects jumping into my queue. I also have a couple of new design ideas floating around in my big head that need to be put down on paper.

We’re also starting to make strides in finishing the addition to the back of our house (that’s been going on now for THREE YEARS, people). One of the pieces to that puzzle has been put into place. The landscaping! Our poor backyard had been forgotten during this whole construction process and it turned into a bit of a jungle. But now it is a beautiful oasis!

You can click here to see an entire album of before, during, and after photos. We are so happy to have a great outdoor space in which to relax and entertain! And the pieces are falling into place for the completion of the addition itself so that will be a welcome project for the Fall. (This blog may turn into a home renovation blog for a little while.) Will I finally be able to unpack all of our moving boxes? Stay tuned!

Well, wherever you are (in the northern hemisphere) I hope that your summer was wonderful and that you’re getting ready for Fall. I know I am!

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Spring Has Sprung!

I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. Spring has definitely sprung down here and I am loving it! I get to open up the doors (and the two windows in the house that aren’t painted shut) and enjoy the warm breeze. Of course, Spring always inspires me to do some Spring Cleaning so I have been doing more of that and less of the fun stuff like knitting. Also, the house across the street from us burned last month (thankfully everyone got out safely!) and it really got me thinking about all of the “stuff” we have accumulated over the years and how important it really isn’t. So there has been this overwhelming need to purge purge purge. It’s also kicked our butts into really developing an inventory of the items we have (that is, those that survive the big purge) and make sure our insurance is up to par! While our neighbors lost pretty much everything, they were fortunate to have great insurance and the rebuilding of their home started TODAY! Lots to be thankful for!

In between spring cleaning and purging I have been doing a bit of knitting! I’ll give you a peek into a couple of projects I’ve started since we last spoke. One is a pair of mittens. I know, just in time for Spring! But seriously, at the rate I’m going, they’ll be finished just in time for Winter. They are the Potpourri Mittens from the Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting.

I’ve also started a Chevron Scarf for myself (again with the cold weather knits as Spring arrives!). It’s my current “mindless knitting” project and I’m digging the funky stripes.

And I have a little sweater for a baby that just recently made her debut into the world. I don’t have any good pics of it “in progress” but I’ll finish it soon and hopefully get some good ones then!

I’m also gearing up to teach an Entrelac class at my local yarn shop next month. I haven’t taught a knitting class in SO LONG and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got to get my butt in gear and knit some class samples soon! Time is whizzing by! Those in the Hattiesburg area interested in taking the class can call Teresa at The Yarn Basket to reserve your spot! 601-582-7272 Saturday, April 16 11am – 1pm! Just $25 per person (plus materials – 10% off)! Come join the fun!

Happy Spring, Everybody!

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