In the Shadow

 

Participating in a dialogue about race and equality is one of the hardest things a community can do. Understatement aside, the effort it takes to just get everyone in the same room can be a monumental effort, getting people to actually speak is even harder.

Me? I like to be quiet, often falling into the mindset of “I believe what I believe and that is enough”. I am often cynical about whatever good town meetings and potlucks will do and I’m even more cynical about the power of my own voice and opinion. So, when an art gallery in my college town invited me to be apart of their Black History month event, I was taken aback at first. I said yes, and immediately regretted it. What do I have to say? Well, nothing. I have a lot to knit though.

For my part, I wanted to knit several pieces that explore the anxiety of being an ethnic minority in America. The works will have a historical focus and use a variety of knitting techniques to make the art…well, art. Thursday was the first night of the month long event, and though I sadly couldn’t be there, my first four pieces were. Here’s a sneak peak!

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Photo credit: Sarah Burch

Later in the month, I’ll be bringing down my statement piece. For this, I wanted to really challenge myself. I decided to try my hand at illusion/shadow knitting.A lot of it.

I’ve never tried Shadow knitting before. Up until recently, I only understood it to be useful for creating subtle color change effects in knitting, which can be striking in a shawl or table runner. I felt compelled to pursue this new technique and master it while also creating a statement piece for the gallery! I did a few small test knits and then dove into my project. For the past few months, I’ve been learning to use a new charting software in order to chart my art piece. Steve Plummer of Wooly Thoughts, a prolific illusion/shadow knitter and designer, has been an invaluable teacher and support throughout the entire process. You should check out his website here.

My first illusion knit! Plus a hand drawn chart for practicing with Inkscape software. 


When I cast on for my Illusion Knit project- one swatch of the Illusion Circle pattern by Steve Plummer! It was very difficult to conceptualize the method of Shadow Knitting at first. Basically, shadow knitting uses purl and knit rows to create peaks and valleys. When the peaks and valleys are lined up correctly, they create a negative space between them. Because every ridge (shadow knitting is done in ridges, with two rows of knitting being one ridge) is one color all the way across, when the work is looked at straight on, it appears to be simple vertical or horizontal stripes. When the work is tilted, you see the negative image appear. Hence the name “shadow/illusion” knitting.

I’m keeping the design that’s hidden in my shadow piece hush hush for right now, but I can’t wait to share when it’s all done and mounted! This entire experience has been so surreal; now that it’s finally February, it feels totally unreal to be talking about my work to others and inviting people to view it in a gallery of all things. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to not only share my opinion, but also  help facilitate a productive dialogue on racial relations within my own community. Thank you for listening.


 

 

 

 

Spill

Spill

I’m new to the Word of the Year challenge. I found out about it last year and started following the hashtag on Instagram. It’s so fascinating to see how a word turns into a theme that lasts the entire year. I finally decided to commit to a word, and to be open to the interpretation of it in every part of life. 

Of course, I started with knitting. 


Nuvem. A 2,000 yard lace shawl is good company for a year long theme. I actually cast on way back in October and carried it with me everywhere. It’s enormous now, nearly 1,000 yards of lace on a US4. I have it on my 80in. interchangable cords. The amazing Maria hand painted yarn by Manos gives so much depth of color to the knit. Sometimes it just looks like a puddle of color.  I’ve spent a lot of time sitting with this knit and casting my thoughts and feelings into the endless waves stockinette stitch. 

 

I decided on the word ‘spill’ because I have a terrible habit of bottling up everything. A pretty typical problem, but at some point it has to come to a head right? Right! How long can anyone go being bottled up and stressed out? I don’t really want to find out, so once again I’m turning to my knitting to therapy me into a new headspace, or at least the start of it. 


It was such a comfort to have this project with me during the holidays. To be able to knit when the people around you are being insufferable is like taking off in an escape pod. To be able to discreetly pull out a project and quietly click away at it while everyone else shouts? Yes please. Pretty soon the rythm of needles and soft fabric allows you to totally tune out. But it’s not just about tuning out (or else I’d pull out my phone) it’s about pouring your frustration and hurt feelings into something beautiful despite being in the midst of ugliness. In the moment relief. 


I’m sure my word will apply to many more aspects of life beyond knitting, but I can’t think of a better way to begin working it in. 

 

 

 

 

Resolutions in Yarn

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I really am not fond of New Year’s resolutions. To me, it seems a bit backwards to wait until the dead of winter to start “the game changers”, especially if your goal or resolution has been something that you’ve been mulling over for months. I’m the sort that when I realize I need to make a drastic change, I start immediately, or at least try to. This is how my “New Year’s” resolutions ended up being way back in August. High summer and high energy for introspection.

One of the goals I set for myself was to start stash busting in a meaningful way. Key word being meaningful. I didn’t want to just give away my yarn (or sell it for that matter), nor was I satisfied with the idea of arbitrarily whipping out hats and shawls from my stash just to say I used the yarn. I realized it might be best to start from the bottom up, per se. Instead of grabbing those ten skeins of worsted weight yarn and charging through a sweater, I figured it would be easier to deal with all the bits and scraps of leftover yarns first.

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I’ve never been able to do away with leftover yarn. Need donations to your sock blanket or a West Knits stash busting sweater? Don’t look at me; all my leftovers are locked away and jammed back in my closet with the idea of being “repair yarn”. But after a while, the pile grows and grows (unknit yarn takes up so much space!) and the little balls of yarn are left to cry in the corner, begging to be knit into something, anything. Ok, it may not be that severe, but does it really bring anyone any joy to have plastic bins of half used yarn taking up shoe space in their closet? Nope.

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I decided to start one of those wonderful sock-weight blankets. Most of my stash is fingering weight and lace so this is a great way to manage a huge section all at once. Since stash busting is so hard for me, I wanted this to be a very fun and sentimental project. As much about the recording and preservation of knit memories as it is about making room for new yarns.

The 5* Year Blanket

I’m using Shelly Kang’s Sock Yarn Blanket pattern.  All of the yarn will be leftover, fingering weight yarn. I’ve been keeping notes on all the details about every square!

My goal is not to finish the blanket this year, but it would be nice to make it through all of my pre-2017 fingering weight yarn leftovers  This might end up being the 6 or 7 year blanket before everything is sewn together.I’m excited for a new long-term project though! Yay for stash busting! #5yearblanket

Do you have a blanket cast on? How long have you worked on it?

Check out these amazing Sock Yarn Blankets below!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Scitchr/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/MinervasBliss/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/dekleinewolf/sock-yarn-blanket

Slow Fashion October- Week 1- Intentionality in Fashion and Life

 

Yesterday, I expressed how the philosophy of Slow Fashion factored into my closet. It meant higher quality clothes, more hand made, local, ethical…but what does Slow Fashion mean for my personal life? I certainly don’t spend all day standing in my closet (despite the temptation).

In life, I have to ask ‘why’ a lot. The question begins with acknowledging a desire, and I dig deeper to inquire “but why this desire?” It usually reflects heavily on who I think I am and who I want to be. When I ask myself “why” to Slow Fashion, the answer (and more intimate desire) is made clear. “I want to be a person who is responsible, considerate, self sufficient, and ethical. I want to carefully consider all things and take the appropriate actions”. This desire goes so far beyond my wardrobe!

In my day to day habits, I would like to be a more responsible, considerate, self sufficient, ethical person. When I clean, I would like to do so responsibly. When I cook dinner, I want to be considerate of those around me and my own health, when I complete tasks and manage my household, I want to be self sufficient. Most importantly, in all my dealings with people and the planet that contains us, I want to be ethical and genuine. This transformation, very sadly, does not happen overnight and is often easier pondered than applied. For me, slow fashion is practice for the ‘real thing’. Because what is fashion and creativeness other than a reflection of the interactions with our world and the sensibilities of it?

When I consider how my possessions are made, I become more aware of the lives around me. Do I want this item cranked out in a textile factory overseas, where the only goal is quantity over quality? Or do I want an item that is intimately made, in someone’s home or work space where it is given full attention to detail, and the entire process -from concept to sold product- is filled with joy? Numbers be damned! It’s about the love.

In the same way, I can’t help but care for the person/peoples making my items. They spent so much time and care crafting a very useful and utilitarian item for me (I mean, we are talking about clothes here) how could I not respect them? How could I not treat them well? Slow Fashion encourages me to see people, not just items around me. I see faces and names and long cultivated brands when I look at my “sustainably made, vegan, local” dresses and shoes.When I look at my handspun yarn, I see Kat, the 60-something-year-old spinner who has a passion for dyeing her hair green and sipping pumpkin soup during cold Farmers’ Market days. She shears her rabbits herself after working all week to clean strangers’ houses, and I always have an open invitation to visit the bunnies. I don’t want cheap, impersonal, meaningless relationships, in the same way I don’t want cheap, impersonal, meaningless yarn/shoes/sweater/jewelry/dresses/makeup….it’s all very relevant.

 

 

Therefore, Slow Fashion teaches me to work with intention in all things. Including my craft and day to day life. For the month of October, I’ve moved my office out of the corner of my bedroom and into our small apartment’s living room. All my tools, my referential materials, my yarn, my alpaca carpet, everything is taking up half the living room. I now have a studio that I walk into as soon as I get home instead of a chair in a dark corner by my bed(though I do love dark corners, really) My aim is to bring my love for my personal craft and my love for an entire community to the forefront of my mind and personal space. At the end of the month, my living room will be returned for its intended use, but for now, it will play host to:

My Special Projects

This month I hope to complete quite a bit of work. In an effort to take myself more seriously in my work not play lifestyle not hobby, I’ve lined up a lot of goals to devour in 31 days.

First on the list is my Cloud Escape sweater, which desperately needs to get done and on me. I believe it’s the longest sweater I’ve ever made? We’re coming up on 2,000 yards of fingering weight. Either way, I’ve worked on it for far too long, I need to finish it so I can focus on

Nuvem. A 2,000+ yard, lace weight, hexagonal shawl. Right now it’s a babe, but it’ll turn into a staple piece of my wardrobe when it’s all said and done.

I’m also working on my first two designs. I actually finished knitting my socks, but the pattern needs to be tech edited (any volunteers?) and nice photos must be taken. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this Shibui Pebble mohair, so against better judgment I sketched out a design for an infinity cowl and I’m well on my way to having it off the needle.

Finally, as I discussed in my last post, before I began my journey to Slow Fashion, I “purged” my closet, throwing away many items of clothing with hopes to donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, my church,  or I just threw them out into the dumpster. I was really proud of myself at the time, it felt so good to release old, frumpy clothes that I felt terrible in. Shame, shame on me.  Karen Templer of Fringe Association has some amazing articles about why NO ONE WANTS YOUR OLD CLOTHES. She makes it very clear that streamlining your wardrobe does not need to include a purge or adding to the dump waste that already exists. In fact, her sources show that “Only 0.1 percent of all clothing collected by charities and take-back programs is recycled into new textile fiber.” Even fewer donated clothes make it to the hands of those “in need”. Fast fashion has outpaced charities’ ability to sort and donate, as a result, its cheaper to burn the clothing. And by cheaper, I mean about 20.4million annually.

My point being, long before the local Goodwill or dump is an option, there are so many ways to successfully re-home or re-purpose every item of clothing. My final challenge, that will last the rest of my Slow Fashion journey, is to never throw away another article of clothing, or use a third party to  “donate” it. What I have is what I have, I will build on this foundation and repair, resew, cut, trim,dye, ruffle, add on, and cinch up as needed. But there will be more of that in Week 2 of Slow Fashion October when we discuss “Long-Worn”.

Until then, please continue the conversation over on Fringe Association’s comment section and #SlowFashionOctober’s Instagram

 

 

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Slow Fashion October. A Celebration of Slow Fashion Week 1

Hello! I’m Morgan, the 20 something behind Daydream Knits. This month, I’m participating in Slow Fashion October hosted by The Fringe Association. This month will be a celebration of the spirit and mindfulness behind the resurgence of ‘slow fashion’. Each week has different themes and a series of daily questions. The Fringe Association will host both interviews and community discussions on every aspect of slow fashion. It will be an exceptional opportunity to meet new creators and read about how the movement towards sustainable clothing manufacturing aligns with modern fashion and creatives. This first day serves an introduction to me, personally, as a creator and as a maker in the slow fashion movement. 

I learned to knit about 7 years ago, but did not pick it up seriously until 4 years ago when I moved for college. There, I found a wonderful L.Y.S whose owner became a mentor in my fiber passions. I worked there for 3 years and was soon addicted to the idea of having my closet full of hand knits. During my college stay, I became very involved with the knitting community and other makers and artists throughout the area. I was soon a regular at my neighborhood farmers market, rubbing elbows with a vendor who taught me to spin yarn  in exchange for company, an alpaca and bison farmer, and a Nepalese seamstress.

The paradigm shift was jarring. I’d come from a world of quick, factory made clothing, moved to hand knitting, and now been invited to see how the suppliers of my craft lived. Spending three weeks knitting a sweater? Awesome. Spending two months spinning up yarn from your own fiber animals then knitting a sweater? Mind blowing.

To me, slow fashion is hand crafted and labour intensive. It involves many hours to finish projects and the materials are viewed by a fast-fashioned world to be exorbitantly priced. As I branched  into the world of fiber prep and animal husbandry, I discovered that the makers of supplies (the back bone to all fiber craft) had an even more intensive job. Here was where the decisions to be sustainable, vegan, ethical, or otherwise ‘slow’ were made. It was so easy for me to order international made yarn (which is beautiful) or even US made. However, after seeing the amount of care and effort people in my own community put forth to make quality materials, I became a dedicated ‘buy local’ advocate. Once I’d spun my own hank of yarn, I had a higher appreciation of where my store bought yarn came from. Once I learned how intensive animal husbandry was, the more I admired my Farmer’s Market vendors who raised and cared for animals year round, so every Saturday I could have my pick of quality (processed) fiber. The dedication astounded me and I further integrated myself into the slow craft world.

Last year, I was married and moved away from my college town. Though physically removed my community, I remain in touch and visit often. I still call the vendor who taught me to spin yarn and email the bison farmer. The alpaca farmer’s son (who travels the world sheering alpaca) was at my wedding. My stay in the slow fashion community has been one filled with love and close working relationships.It also prepared me to expand my ‘slow fashion’ craft to the rest of my life.

After moving, I also felt a need to purge my possessions via the Marie Kondo method. Sadly, in my overstuffed closet, I found many items of clothing that I’d never worn and were in poor condition. Those were thrown away. To my dismay, I also noticed many pieces that I loved, but had been taken care of so poorly (or made with low quality materials) that they were stained or ripped. I didn’t know what else to do except throw them all away. I have so much guilt over this! All the bags of clothing to the dump, never to be seen or loved again. I took a second look in my closet and realized that the few items that remained were of a starkly different quality than the piles of clothing I’d thrown away. The clothes I kept where special. Three sweaters I’d knit the year before, hand knit hats, “expensive” dresses I’d bought from a local dress shop.

Actually, nearly all the items that survived the move were items I’d purchased locally. They were durable and beautiful and I’d always taken special care with them. I found myself able to repair or re-wear anything that was damaged. Not only was slow fashion something I could apply to new clothes that I made, but also to old! This has motivated me so much to not only make my clothing with care and love, but also to buy my clothing with care and love. Local, hand made, personally loved, and then sold to a customer.

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This is where my  desire to to rebuild my wardrobe sustainably, with hand knits and responsibly sourced clothing has come from. This is why Slow Fashion October is so exciting for me as I anticipate all the other makers and crafters sharing their stories. Please, go to Fringe Association to view the weekly themes. There will also be daily prompts to guide conversation as well as many other makers posting in the comment section and on Instagram. Join the conversation!

 

The Mountains Are Calling

The Mountains Are Calling

Picture heavy post! Knitting photos near the bottom!

Last week Jonathan and I went on our one year anniversary trip! We decided to take advantage of our anniversary’s proximity to Labor Day and delay our trip until September. Thursday night, after work, we jumped in the car and drove west as long as we could (three hours!) That made the remaining six hours to Boulder, Colorado much more enjoyable. We’d heard a lot of people mention how boring the drive from KC to Boulder was; I’m not sure what they were talking about though.

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I find windmills facinating

We loved the entire drive! It was amazing to see all of the farm land, cattle, and windmills going on and on for miles. The most delightful part of the drive was undoubtedly the sunflowers. Kansas is the sunflower state, after all. We had to take advantage of the fields of flowers along the interstate.

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Is it illegal to stop on the interstate like this? 

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Of course, the interstate sunflowers had nothing on the flowers alongside the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. This was one of the most breathtaking views of our entire trip, and we’d only just arrived!

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While we were driving, I pulled out my unfinished NaKniSweMo from last year. I figured that the mountains in fall would be a great opportunity to wear the sweater for the first time! I managed to finish steeking the sweater before hitting the road, and the entire drive up was spent weaving in ends, knitting on a border, and sewing on buttons. Phew.

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On the second day of our trip, we decided to do a day hike up the FlatIrons to the Royal Arch. What was supposed to be a two hour morning hike turned into a four hour, five and a half mile, strenuous hike at extreme elevation (my sweet husband didn’t check the map). It was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done before, but Jon and I stuck it out together! We took hundreds of photos and drank two liters of water while going up, up, up. Near the end, I started to wonder if the view at the top could possibly be worth the pain, but we pushed on anyways!

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So close to the top!

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Top of the arch, I’m sitting inside of it. Yes, those are knitting needles in my hand. 

Sadly, by the time we made it to the top of the mountain, storm clouds were rolling in, we were starving, and the sun was setting. We had no time for photos so we rushed down (which was surprisingly more emotionally trying than going up) and finished off our night with a fancy dinner and lots of drinks.

The next day, we decided to drive back up the trail and do some laid back sightseeing. I was pretty exhausted, but the pictures were so so worth it. I present my Oranje sweater!

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This was my first ever fair isle project. I go big, right? This yummy sweater is knit on a US6 with sport weight yarn. I used Debbie Bliss’ Fine Donegal which is technically a fingering weight yarn. However, the single ply wool is rather heavy and I managed to hit the same gauge on the sweater as if I’d used a true sport weight. img_2537

I’ll be upfront, this sweater has some of flaws to it. The armpits have little give to them, so when I lift my arms, the whole sweater comes with me. And seeing as this was my first time working fair isle, the yoke is a tad snug. I’m re-blocking the sweater and am going to re-seam the armpits again in hopes of having a bit more give. I think this will ultimately be a success. I have faith since the first time I blocked the sweater (before steeking which I highly recommend) it went from frumpy to fabulous. The collar could also probably stand to be blocked a little higher as well. img_2536

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I really love the brown button border of this sweater, but honestly, it’s a little finicky. It takes a day and a half for me to button this up proper, and the mass of buttons leads to gapping (though this could possibly be remedied with blocking). The fair isle often doesn’t line up if my buttons are askew-as you can see in the photo above. A part of me wishes I’d been patient and waited to get home to put in a zipper, but I wanted this to be done so so badly! And I love the brown highlights too much to not have them.

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Tucking my floats

Overall, I adore this sweater. The flaws in it are small fish compared to the amount of effort and time I put into this. I learned a lot while knitting this, like how to “tuck my floats” on the yoke so that there’s not a mass of loose strands inside the sweater waiting to be snagged. I did my first steek (you can check out the video here on my instagram) and I learned how to do a proper steek column so that you aren’t terrified while cutting!!! After hiking up a mountain, I feel safe in saying that this is an epic sweater that is worthy of the Dutch knitting traditions Ann Weaver based the design on. I would totes heard sheep while wearing this sweater, up a mountain even.

I’m so glad that I decided at the last minute to finish it on the car ride to Boulder. This will be a wardrobe stable for my first winter in KC. For me, this represents a new benchmark in my knitting. I learned so much while making this. I was so careful to get gauge and make size adjustments as needed so my effort wouldn’t be wasted. This makes my old work feel like child’s play, and I think I’ve finally kicked down the door to “a knitted wardrobe” instead of just lacey accessories, sorry Darling Emma. I’m ready to take my knitting to the next level. I still have a painful amount to learn (like seriously how to get more ease into these armpits). But I’m happy to learn from my mistakes and enjoy the journey, but right now, I’m just gonna wear my sweater and feel baller.

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Yes, It IS your grandmother’s knitting.

Winter Stash

Hi, lovies! Jon and I just got back from our one year anniversary trip! I have so much to tell you! But after a 16hour round trip drive, climbing a mountain, and all the laundry, I’m still recovering. Until then, here’s a post about my winter yarn stash!

Since moving to KC, I’ve made a lot of effort to get my yarn stash under control. Post-moving finances aside, I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I had. It was no longer something to delight in, but a burden to haul through. I mean, seriously.

When one organizes a yarn closet, one must first pull everything onto the floor #realtruth #knittersofinstagram

It would appear that six garbage bags of yarn is the thin wooly line between abundance and overstuffed. I’ve indefinitely tightened the purse strings on my yarn budget. I’ve bought 12 skeins of yarn in 9 months. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but considering I used to spend hundreds of dollars on bags of yarn (I’m talking entire paychecks and half the sale’s rack) this is an amazing feat. I also have to throw in, three of those skeins were a birthday present for myself, so they don’t count. Mhm.

Buying less yarn, though a good start, did little to reduce the absurd amounts of yarn I already had. After a few teeth gritting sessions of self restraint, I’ve become a monogamous knitter. One project at a time, get it done and on to the next. I’ve also relaxed my expectations on what is humanly possible to knit in a single season. When I stopped expecting myself to knit 20 pairs of socks and 1,000 sweaters in a three month period, I was able to better focus on the knitting I actually had going on and could just get it done. I used to spend my “knitting” time browsing Ravelry trying to assign projects to all of my yarn and create a queue. All the while I would have about 8 unfinished projects languishing in the corner. No more of that

I think what’s helped the most, though, is dividing my yarn up by seasons. This spring and summer, my winter yarns were packed away in the back of my closet while my “summer” yarn (lace weights, bright pinks, silks ect ect) lived in a large wicker basket under my desk. This made everything seem more doable. I diligently worked at knitting down this basket, while neither thinking about the winter yarn in the closet, nor expecting that I could knit through all the spring and summer yarns. This week, with the undeniable scent of fall in the air, I unpacked my winter yarns and placed the summer ones in the back of the closet. Until next year, my pretties!

It’s so exciting and refreshing to cast eyes over all of this delicious yarn that I haven’t seen for months! And what a delight to see so many piles of sweater yarn! And all in worsted and aran weight. Bliss. I’m itching to cast on and it feels like I have a clean slate for the cold weather season without having all of my yarn mixed in together, haunting me, judging me. Check out my winter stash!

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