Review of Creativebug – fun friendly quick online learning

Creativebug feels like Pinterest come to life. Short, bite-sized snackable tutorials, curated and quick. This makes it feel fun, friendly and light.

Creativebug_-_Craft_Classes___Workshops_-_What_will_you_make_today_

Most of the creative online learning platforms I’m reviewing in this series have the same features: video players, shared student projects, downloadables, etc. So it’s worth it to focus on what makes them different. For Creativebug, I think the biggest defining feature is actually the pricing and payment model. That payment model even affects their catalog, how people use the service, and it affects the relative “size” of the courses.

There’s a sort of false economy with online learning. People may tend to think “Hey this course long, great value!” But within our attention economy in full effect (oldie but goodie Wired, 1997), we have limited time to devote to anything, much less online learning. From my experience making screencasts, it takes much less time to make a 20 mins screencast than a 5 mins screencast. That compact-ness requires careful scripting and editing. Less really is more. Online learning is moving to shorter formats, and personalized environments. In fact I think for Creativebug, moving to personalization would make a big impact in their experience. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Quick tour of Creativebug

What’s in the Creativebug box?

The Creativebug platform includes:

  • Video player
  • Note taking and bookmarking capability.
  • Downloadable PDFs

Interactivity includes:

  • Student projects

Tips to get the most out of Creativebug:

Overall impressions of Creativebug

I first heard about Creativebug on Crafts from the Cwtch. As Sarah pointed out, the tutorials are mainly product-based.  I almost feel like Creativebug is Pinterest come to life. The topics are often so specific as to fit in a little Pin. But instead of images, you have a friendly instructor with step-by-step activities. The projects seem specific enough that you could conceivably watch a little class, and finish a project in that afternoon. Invite your friends over to make Painted Canvas Pillows or Watercolour Silhouettes! That is sort of how I see Creativebug being used.

“CreativeBug also seems more sort of hip and artsy, while Craftsy is more traditional/crafty,” as Tiny Rotten Peanuts observed. That’s pretty spot-on. I think if you want to build crafts skills, you’d turn to Craftsy but if you want to just make a decoration for a party this weekend, you’d go to Creativebug.

Creativebug seem to work closely with sponsors, such as Michaels which is a craft store in the US. If you’re not in the US, many references about shops, products, etc aren’t relevant. For example a class on dyeing with Kool-aid may leave you wishing you could get technicolour foodstuffs in your country.

Let’s look at the catalog in more detail.

The Creativebug catalog

You can watch quick tutorials for a little decoration, or get absorbed in a longer course to build a specific skill. The Drawing and Illustrations basics course with Heather Ross is over 3 hours long. Sketchbook explorations is another in-depth class. These might be worth the subscription alone.

However it’s the fact that it’s subscription based, and more like a magazine that you’ll feel enticed to maintain your subscription. Check out the calendar when you visit the site.

Creativebug_-_calendar 2

You can see there will be more courses coming up, and you can set up reminders.

Creativebug_-_calendar

They have a range of instructors on Creativebug. They have attracted recognizable talents to their platform. Though the bulk of classes aren’t by those experienced instructors, so the quality can be variable, as one reviewer commented. My main issue is that I don’t find many of the courses enticing. Do I need a tutorial on making a silhouette picture? I think if you’re stuck for ideas though, there’s so much inspiration. I could imagine checking out the catalog when I want to add a hand-made present to a gift. So in that sense, my comparison to Pinterest stands here.

My real issue is that I find Creativebug hard to navigate. I feel like I can’t find things or browse. If I find a class I’m interested in and don’t book mark it, I’d be worried I wouldn’t find it again.

They use the “load more” option at the bottom of each page, and I’m like: when does it end? Am I seeing everything? Again, with a Pinterest comparison, they have a seemingly bottomless pit with a similar grid-style gallery. But my strategy for browsing on Creativebug is very different from discovery and collection on Pinterest. So it seems a strange model to copy, if that is what they are doing.

I think a huge step would be if they included a powerful, faceted search to the platform. In the future, if they included personalization and better browsing capability, their wide ranging catalog will be easier for people to find the value in. Unless the mystery meat navigation was done on purpose?

Creativebug’s special sauce: The Creativebug pricing model

I think the pricing model is generous and attractive, and it’s hopefully going to pay off for Creativebug in a large user base. Currently their pricing is $4.95. Apparently a few years ago, it was $9.95 Creativebug is least expensive outlay in comparison to other platforms I’m reviewing. They also give you one credit per month which allows you to “save” a course you really like. So even when you no longer subscribe, you still have access. This seems to me the most generous of all the platforms.

Free to try: I signed up for the free Creativebug subscription to review a few classes. It’s one of the only learning platforms I am reviewing in this series that gives you full access during a trial period. FREE, for real. Credit card required, but still, that displays a lot of trust in their viewers and the model.

Because they are enticing subscribers to stay, there is a drive on their part to continue to publish new courses and tempt subscribers with the upcoming catalog. They are not bound to try and get higher price tags on their courses, they can fill a special niche with shorter courses. This means the environment seems ever-changing and evolving.

I’ve also reviewed and Craftsy and Creativelive if you’re curious!

Review of CreativeLive – social creative learning

At the most essential, all of the online learning platforms I’m reviewing in this series have similar features: Online videos, some student interaction, a way to share projects – these are all common features. Most of the courses also follow a formula where the outcome is fairly clear. Such as “Learn to do X”, where the instructor starts with a clear “Here’s one I made earlier” example. The sizzle of the spontaneous learning experience that arises from interaction among students and the teacher is lost. It’s very hard to replicate that experience online in a self-paced asynchronous environment. Craftsy manages this by inserting comments at various timecodes, so you see others’ comments in context. But that doesn’t feel spontaneous.

CreativeLive is the most unique platform in that the first time courses are run, they are done so in front of a live audience, both in the studio, and sometimes online. This means you as a live viewer can influence the content of the course. As a viewer watching the recording you also benefit from the fact that people are most likely asking for the same clarification and extensions that you would like to know. The “Live” aspect of CreativeLive is what makes it truly unique.

Video tour of CreativeLive

I’ve recorded a quick video tour so you can see what CreativeLive courses are like.

What’s in the CreativeLive box?

The CreativeLive platform includes:

  • Video player – streaming only
  • Note taking and bookmarking capability.
  • Downloadable PDFs (depending on the course).
  • Sometimes discount codes for services and software.

Interactivity includes:

  • Live Q+A – if you attend the course live.
  • Chat rooms – both a casual lounge and on-topic chat room.
  • Student projects and peer feedback.
  • Sometimes Facebook groups or off-site groups run by the instructors.

Tips to get the most out of CreativeLive:

  • CreativeLive accounts are free, but you pay per course.
  • Pop into the live listing to see what courses are rebroadcasting right now.
  • Watch sample previews to get a sense of the instructor and the content to see if it’s worth investing.
  • RSVP to Join the upcoming/live courses for free. Click “Chat” to join the chatrooms for the live course.

Overall impressions of CreativeLive

Of all the platforms I’m reviewing, CreativeLive does the best job of connecting learners with each other and with the instructors. The social aspects to this platform are some of the most valuable. They seem to encourage plenty of off-site interaction too.

For example a course on Ditching your Day Job also includes a Facebook group you can join. While many online learning platforms may dream of being the all-in-one solution, the problem is that “The Conversation” has moved off of membership based sites and on to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. The ubiquity of Facebook for example, cannot be beat. If you don’t work with it, learners will work around you and create Facebook groups themselves.

Instructors on CreativeLive seem to know this very well. It also means that CreativeLive doesn’t have crusty old message boards – which in terms of community vibe is a real killer. facebook-group In addition to reducing communication barriers, they also make it easier to connect emotionally to the content. I noticed that CreativeLive instructors, even when they talk about fairly straightforward topics, they tend to dig a bit deeper into what drives you as a creative person. In the live course I attended on using  YouTube for marketing the instructor, Whippycake, zeroed in on the thing that is holding many people back. For many it’s not for lack of technical knowledge, it’s having the guts to get in front of the camera. She brought out emotional aspects to engaging your audience to the heart of the course topic. I was actually bowled over with her honesty about her own struggles. Somehow Whippycake manages to create her videos in a home-studio, with four kids running about the place! Many topics in CreativeLive are sort of like that. Let’s look at the catalog next.

CreativeLive’s catalog

CreativeLive does have some straightforward step-by-step types of practical courses on specific techniques for crafts, photography, etc. If they were just competing on those craft techniques courses, then I don’t think it would be very competitive. One thing you might notice as you browse CreativeLive courses is that are a little more expensive than the snackable prices of other platforms such as CreativeBug (at $4.99 a month) or Craftsy which has courses sometimes for $9.99. They are also longer (1 day or 2 day courses) and more in-depth. What makes the CreativeLive catalog special is that there are more courses which could inspire you to take action on your dreams; enhance your job prospects; or help you build a business by determining your market, your pricing and optimize marketing and production.

For this reason, I assume CreativeLive would appeal to an audience who was taking their craft a little more seriously – as in: They can justify the prices because it’s a business expense for professional development. And when you compare the cost of these courses against similar in-person courses, the pricing is pretty reasonable. Michelle Ward charges over $3300 USD for her coaching services; and she also offers CreativeLive courses. In comparison to either her own coaching services or even a local career counsellor, her online classes such as Ditch your day job ($99) or Create your dream career ($99) look like pretty good deals. While it’s not going to be the same as having a career counseller working 1:1 with you, it might be a good first step to get you in gear.

CreativeLive’s special sauce: The live buzz

When you attend as live online class, you can join in a live chatroom at the same time. I found the ongoing live chat is fun. Sometimes it descended into back channel chatter, so I preferred to watch the “on topic” chat room. The facilitators do a great job of monitoring consensus and bringing the questions forward in the classroom. I was amazed in the class when a remark I made was mentioned in the class and the instructor responded(!) That really opened my eyes and I understood the value of having a live event. creativelive-chat Just one tip about finding the chat room: I was watching the class for a while before I realize you have to click the “Chat” link, which opens a pop-up window. creativelive-chat-questions And after that, there are two tabs in the pop-up window. Monitor the Lounge for random chatter, or click the main tab for on-topic chatter. creativelive-chat-tabs

Tip: Get the most out of CreativeLive by attending the free live broadcasts

Look through the list of upcoming, live courses. RSVP for a course and attend the live online class to participate in a discussion. creative-live-rsvp The fact is, attending a course for hours is going to be tricky for most people. The times for the course I attended was 5pm-midnight in my timezone. It went well the first night, but the second night, I received multiple family phone calls which lasted for a long time, and this meant I couldn’t attend the entire class. Of course, you always buy the course! And that is clearly why they allow participants to try before you buy. As one reviewer wrote, “I did try to tune in for the free streaming but I had technical issues and missed most of it. I ended up buying the Optimize Your Online Store workshop and I’m so glad I did.”

No good deed goes unpunished of course. I was amazed some viewers still expected more for free. During the second night of the class I took, I was a bit annoyed by a viewer who complained a few times when the facilitators would remind viewers that the class they were viewing (FOR FREE, mind you) was also available to purchase. The viewer complained that the facilitators were pushing the class purchase. What?! Um, guys, they are a business. And isn’t it nice they let you watch for free? I think they are building great good will within their learner community by offering so much for free, with no credit card required.

I’ve been pleased with the quality of the courses and content, and I’m certainly going to be taking advantage of the current 30% off sale.I think that ends July 27th!!

Have you signed up for any CreativeLive courses?

Review of Craftsy.com – online crafty classes

As mentioned in my introduction post in this series of reviews, I want to take a close look at a number of online learning platforms which focus on the niche area of creative and crafty pursuits. First we’ll look at Craftsy.

Video tour

Here’s a quick video tour showing some of the features mentioned in this review.

Multi-mode for everyone

I wanted to start off by confirming the myth of “Learning Styles” has been soundly debunked. So PLEASE stop saying you’re special because you’re a visual learner, or an aural learner. You’re not special. (OK you’re special, just not like that.)

Two things do hold true for all learners:

  • We all learn better when we learn through multiple modes.
  • The highest bandwidth learning experience is always going to beat out the less rich experience.

Therefore, live, in-person will be better than online, and video will be better than paper. And providing the same content in video, as well as in printed text and images will always beat out one single mode. However, learning tactile hands-on activities while watching a two dimensional recorded digital video is likely to pose challenges.

So any of the online learning platforms I’m reviewing in this series will need to work around this problem if they are to teach creative and making activities. How they do so and to what effect is what makes them different.

What’s in the Craftsy box?

My_Craftsy

The Craftsy platform includes:

  • Video player for online streaming.
  • Apps for Android and iOS for offline viewing.
  • Note taking and bookmarking capability.
  • Downloadable PDFs

Interactivity includes:

  • Comments and questions marked along the timeline and appear as you watch the spot.
  • Responses from instructors and students.
  • Project sharing, comments on fellow learner’s projects.

Tips to get the most out of Craftsy:

  • Watch the entire course all the way through while you craft or in transit.
  • Add bookmarks and take notes.
  • Return back to the class when you’re ready to tackle the tasks and you have your materials ready.
  • Use the browser to skim to specific tasks and steps.
  • Challenge yourself to complete classroom activities, take photos and share your work. The feedback from other students can be a great motivator.

Overall impressions of Craftsy

Craftsy videos are very well produced, well lit and usually at good angles to see all the action. However, there are limitations to the studios. In videos which require information about soaking knits or yarn for example, they don’t have a sink or show a real situation. I’ve noticed more on-location shots in Interweave videos for example. So in that sense it is limiting.

Some criticize the pace for being too slow. Another way to say it is: it’s thorough.  I appreciate that instructors don’t skip over things. If an instructor says you need to continue on a row, they show that again step-by-step. If you think it’s slow, do something at the same time you’re watching.

I like to knit or spin while watching the videos, though I don’t necessarily follow along at first. I return later and work on specific tasks or techniques when I’m ready. For example, in the Shetland shawl course, I have watched all the videos, but go back to watch techniques when I’m working on a specific part.

The “Improve your knitting” class with Patty Lyons is one of the classes which was great to do right along with her. I paused, rewound, played back and inspected her actions to learn new methods for forming knit and purl stitches. If you thought you knew everything about knitting, that is a great course to go in depth on techniques to save you time and improve ergonomics.

Read reviews of Patty Lyons courses

Craftsy’s catalog

craftsy-_catalogThere is a massive and growing catalog of craft-focused courses. Mainly the courses would appeal to beginners and experienced amateurs.

That is one consistent criticism I have come across: good for beginners, not too attractive for more experienced learners. I think this is one of the issues of per-class purchase. They can’t assume any prior knowledge or experience so beginner, redundant topics will be covered again and again. While that is fantastic for beginners, an experienced learner with feel like they purchased something they can’t make use of… ‘why do I need to see how to spread fondant *again* in every video’? Still each instructor will likely have their own tips for even beginner skills.

As Craftsy has introduced new areas, they tend to start out with the more essential and basic classes. Later they seem to expand those topics with content which will be appealing to those with more experience. For example, in the topic of Spinning they started with one basic handspinning class about using a Spindle and then they added more well-known authors and instructors with more detailed exploration of methods and techniques.

More than crafts?

The Craftsy courses focus almost entirely on crafts, baking, and photography. There are some courses for budding businesses, mainly in their Art & Photo section and cake sections. Baking is big business!

Craftsy also sell craft supplies alongside their classes business. Some classes come with bundles where you can purchase a specific kit. Be warned though, some courses don’t come with the same exact materials the instructors used in the course.

Craftsy’s special sauce: Their app

Most of the creative learning platforms I’m reviewing only offer live-streaming access. That limits where and how you can learn, which is an unfortunate limitation for a medium that is attempting to increase accessibility.

The app for Craftsy is stellar. You can select and save videos to watch offline. So if you’re going on a long journey, or away from your nice fast wifi, this is an excellent option.

You can also add bookmarks and notes for future review.

Tip: Keep an eye out for discounts

Craftsy is dangerously addictive. I notice people mentioning they “stock up” on courses when a sale comes along. It’s a very clever marketing tactic on Craftsy’s part.

The classes are easy to watch and the marketing incentives are enticing. Sure, you might not have considered that course at the full price, but at 50% off it suddenly seems pretty attractive. When the price gets down to around the mental $10 or £10 mark, you might start comparing to other small purchases and then they look down right affordable. It seems that many Craftsy fans tend to rely on the sales and discounts to come around, and then pounce. The learners feel like smart shoppers and Craftsy still earn great income at scale.

So – to play the game right, make sure you’re subscribed to their newsletter and keep an eye out for discounts before you buy.

Also, if you’re going to make a purchase, consider going to the instructor’s website or blog. They often have their own affiliate code which allows them to extend a discount directly to fans. The instructor also gets hopefully a little bump in their commission, which is nice too. You might have noticed I linked to Patty Lyon’s website (http://pattylyons.com/online-review-improve-knitting/) to refer to the craftsy course. From her site you can save $20 by using her referral link.

Have you used Craftsy? I’d love to hear what your favorite class is, or which class would you not recommend?

Comparing online learning sites for creative people

In my soon-to-be former life I created learning materials, classroom guides, live webinars and instructional videos. I can appreciate a good learning experience, and look at it with a critical eye as well. After studying learning and technology however, I concluded the best thing technology can do to facilitate learning is to get out of the way. The best technology focuses on communication and access to help people connect to each other and the content so learners can socially construct their understanding of a topic.

My opinion about over-programmed multi-media “all in one” learning management software is pretty strong. Building the equivalent to a CD-ROM nowadays doesn’t make much sense. Even selling DVDs is likely to cut off markets soon, “I wish this had been a Craftsy course. My new laptop doesn’t even have a DVD player,” as one reviewer pointed out.

In fact, after seeing my nephew teach himself programming through YouTube, I think YouTube has been one of the most effective learning platforms. However at some point – sifting through cruft on YouTube can be a hassle and you might be willing to pay for higher quality instruction. I’m fascinated with the range of online learning freely available now. From Udemy, Khan Academy, Udacity and Coursera, there are new platforms popping up to offer instruction at a range of prices from providers who might be experienced educators, or even enthusiastic amateurs. And now more and more subject specific platforms are rising to the top.

Comparison of creative skills online learning platforms

The range of platforms available specifically for teaching creative skills from photography, cooking and sewing is amazing. Sometimes they also delve into related skills around entrepreneurship, inspiring people to branch into new income streams.

How do these creative learning platforms compare?

They all have a few things in common:

  • Instructor led classes with a trusted, credible, experienced guides.
  • Video player in browser, some with an offline player for tablets or phones.
  • Downloadable extras such as worksheets, step-by-step instructions, patterns and reference materials.

Some have unique differentiators built around their community of learners.

Some platforms are subscription based, where you lose access when you no longer subscribe. Some allow you to purchase life-time access to per-course. Skillshare allows you to earn free credits through referral. (Go ahead, click my referral link to pop me a free month!) Creativebug has a unique hybrid model. This allows you a low-cost subscription of $4.95 USD, per month. Each month, you can earn 1 credit per month to select forever-access to your favorite courses. That’s a great way to encourage loyal subscribers.

I’ve summarized some essential information about popular platforms below. This isn’t an exhaustive list. For example, I considered but didn’t include Interweave. I love their catalog of videos, but there is no platform included. You can’t pause the videos, bookmark or save notes, etc.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll review these learning platforms listed here. I’d love to hear if you’ve tried these out and what you think. Are there any platforms you love that I’ve missed?

Platform A-Z list
Payment model
Price range
Offline?
Notes
Craft Daily
https://www.craftdaily.com
Main topics: Beading, Crochet, DIY, Jewelry Making, Knitting, Mixed Media, Quilting, Scrapbooking and Paper Crafts, Sewing, Spinning, Weaving
Subscription $19.99 monthly or $199.99 annual Streaming only Focus on crafts, subscription to Interweave video library. Run by Thought Industries who also run craftonlineuniversity.com

Free? No free option or trial option.

Craftsy
http://www.craftsy.com/
Main topics: Sewing & Quilting, Cake & Cooking, Yarn & Fiber Arts, Art & Photo, Home & Garden, More (jewellery and paper)
Pay per course £9.99 – 35.50 Offline with the app Focus on crafts, some entrepreneurial topics. Discounts and frequent incentives entice purchases.

Free? Selected Free course give an idea of how the platform works.

Creative Bug
https://www.creativebug.com/
Main topics: Work-alongs, Sewing, Paper, Yarn, Quilting, Jewelry
Subscription OR pay per course. $4.95 a month with options to save courses. Offline with app Both brief tutorials, and courses made of multiple lessons written together.

Free? You can try out the platform for free for 14 days. No credit card required.

Creative Live
https://www.creativelive.com/
Main topics: Photo & video, Art & design, Music & audio, Craft & maker, Money & life
Pay per course $49-$150+ USD Streaming only Longer form courses, and downloadable materials. Live students in the class and online. Lecture-style teaching with live Q+A.

Free? Live streaming of selected courses, and re-broadcasts of courses. Usually a class has a free preview.

Skillshare
http://www.skillshare.com
Main topics: Design, Photography, Business, Film, Technology, Fashion, Music, Gaming, Culinary, DIY, Writing, Crafts, Other
Subscription $9.95 a month or
$96.00 a year
Streaming only Wide range of well-known educators. Broader than just crafts. Range of video quality.

Free? You can try the premium level for free for 14 days, credit card required.

What does creative identity mean to you? 

I think I’ve heard people ask “what is creativity?” But when I read A Playful Day and saw her question: What does Creative Identity mean to you? under a pretty still life of lace, yarn and buttons… a quick answer didn’t come up. I felt so detached from a world where such questions could even be posed.

The question rang in my head though and I felt a pang that I know I’ve lost my creative identity. I’ve swapped it out for some defeatist broken sob story of burnout. I’ve become afraid to make mistakes, afraid to take action. How did this become ME? I used to work with joy and excitement and creativity. Why am I so broken?

Identities and mythologies

I think each person seems to have some personal mythology and a story they tell themselves. The story can change of course. Shit happens. And keeps on happening.

I know a man at the centre of a large community who identifies with a Myers Briggs “Marshal” identity. He sees this great honour and duty before him, and I think he loves the role, especially the idea that it’s rare and unique. And the community loves him for it. They see him as a benevolent dictator and trust him implicitly. It’s a perfect match of self identity and situation. If he didn’t resonate with his surroundings, he would be a tyrant or frustrated and unfulfilled.

This is what we want, to have our self-identity resonate with our situation. 

I know a woman who pits herself against all odds. To hear people talk about her is to think it’s a constant battle in all her interactions. Her versus the world. And her shouting and microagressive actions play this story out. It’s the story she creates from a self-perception and its the story others tell about her.

In this way we could say a personal mythology is self-fulfilling. 

I want to reestablish my creative identity. I want it to resonate with my situation. And I want it to be self-fulfilling in a positive way.

I don’t believe creativity is the sole domain of artists and musicians. Creativity comes in many forms to produce solutions to all kinds of problems. Creativity thrives in structure, boundary and challenge.

Doing something creatively does imply beauty, delight and joy.

When I saw these little flowers today growing in this stone wall I knew immediately that was my vision for creativity.

IMG_3649
I need to start telling myself a different story.

I’m listening to a book called “The Accidental Creative“. In it, the author tells of challenging circumstances I can relate to and he gives specific strategies for how to maintain the creative rhythm. The modern corporate structures aim to make creativity predictable and consistent. He addresses how you can work within that system to improve your personal productivity and creative energy and avoid burnout. It makes me reflect on my recent weeks in my current job and wonder just where in the hell have I gone wrong? The book is certainly positive in that it’s giving practical strategies you can follow to work on yourself. What he doesn’t talk about is, how can we do things differently? I feel like there’s a bigger picture.

Anyway, I’m sick of my own sob story. I’m hesitant and halting.

At this point I need to reclaim my creative identity and change my story.

And be like these lovely flowers. And get back to working joyfully.

IMG_3648

Where is my Father?

For my Dad’s funeral my sister wrote a beautiful tribute to his life as a caregiver. I wrote the vision of the afterlife we all share. I wanted to post it here, one month after he passed away. We read at the graveside. 

Where is my father? 

No seriously. Have you seen him? 

I feel like we’re all suffering a bit from the missing limb syndrome. An amputee may consciously know they’ve lost a limb, but the mind is slow to realise. They reach to scratch a missing knee, they put their arm out to lean, and falter. 

We’ve all been doing that recently, faltering. We turn to ask my Dad a question, and he’s gone. He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone. 

And each of us is left wondering, where is my father? Where did he go?

My father knew loss. He was so young when he lost his dear brother Donny, who lies here today. In an accident that forever altered my father’s life journey, he and his family were devastated by losing Donny. No sense could be made of it. And there was no question, where was Donny? He was gone. His father Jesper died as well from a long illness, and it was sad to find my father still mourning and unresolved. There was no explanation. They were gone. 

More recently, Dad lost his brother Larry and his mother Marion is such a short space of time. We all had to wonder: Where did they go? This time, my father had an answer: They’ve sat down to dinner together. 

My father explained a vision, which we all began to share. Of Nana’s dining room. Her flower-patterned wallpaper, cloth covered dining room table, with plenty of room for everyone.  All laid out for the nicest dinner ever. Her blue and white china, the crystal stemware, the silver polished and ready. 

Even recently, as he was in hospice, we had the time to ask him what he thought would happen. He told us, “I picture I’ll be with my family in Nana’s dining room.” 

They are all waiting at the table for him. Everyone, healthy, in their prime, happy and joking – there were always lots of laughs at the James table. Nana played the straight man to her son’s shenanigans. 

Meals were served in beautiful serving dishes, never casual, never taken lightly but always enjoyed.  A meal together was a warming ritual, to bring the family together. Good food was always a central part of the James home. 

And of course there were candles lit. Always candles. After my father lost Larry and Nana, he lit a candle for his missing family when he would eat, and when we would eat together. At even the simplest of meals, no matter breakfast, lunch or dinner, my father lit a candle to invoke that vision of The Dinner. Perhaps it could connect these two worlds at that point- in lighting that candle we were together with them. Lighting the candles reminds us that they are gone, they are gone, they are gone. 

We all share this vision of The Dinner. 

When Uncle Arthur died suddenly recently, I was struck terribly. I was unable to return home for his memorial because I was also ill at the time. I was crushed by the loss of the person I called My Ankle (he called me his Knees). This was more than the missing limb syndrome.

I would wake from nightmares sobbing, and Ronan would hold me. I was having the same dream each night, leading Uncle Arthur carefully by the arm through Nana’s house. Coming into the dining room, I told Uncle Arthur, sit, here, this is a good place. There was a piano! I was surprised and he was delighted. But then I’d wake realizing Uncle Arthur was gone.

I think we’ve all internalised this vision of The Dinner. We all know where Dad is now. We know Dad is with Donny, Jesper, Larry, Marion and Arthur.

Our minds have been slow to realise in these last couple of weeks, we’re struck with his absence over and over. Groping a bit, the mind incredulous: but he was just here a minute ago! 

We like to think now that, when you turn to ask Dad a question, to talk with him, and realise he’s gone, you know where he is. He’s with his family, sitting at The Dinner, together, having the best meal ever. 

  

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Knitting

This started off as a comment on Karie Bookish’s blog post, Knitting as Lifestyle Brand? But it got so long I had to put it here! I wanted to touch on two points in her post: Why I knit, and also the “staged sweetness” idea. We’re not just performing ourselves online, we perform ourselves all the time. In the spirit of debate, I thought I’d post my thoughts. (I should say if she felt like this is career limiting to talk about this, then that sucks.)

Why I knit (and spin)

I don’t knit and spin because it’s a way to protest cheap labour, or even to customize garments for my bat wings. For me, nustling down into the warm, lanolin-soaked fleece of the fibre world has given me some context to learn about farming, food security, history, economics, mechanics, manufacturing and traditions. I love so much about it. And I’ve met some really amazing people and enjoyed some fantastic events.

But the truth is I’m not a product knitter or spinner. It’s all process. If I get a finished item, then that is a bonus.

When I don’t knit, I knee bounce wildly, I fidget, I peel labels off bottles, I pick my scabs, I literally pull my hair out, I worry napkins into twisted little sculptures, I distractedly get a low hum of anxiety goading me: you should be DOING something Heather instead of just sitting here. 

When I knit, I not only assuage that worker bee in me, but I also do something productive with my hands which isn’t anti-social, like reading on my phone. I try not to use my phone when I am with people. There is some urge in me to fidget and multitask. Sitting still is hard. Though I’m not someone who gets bored, I’ve never been bored, but I always make sure I have something to do.

When I was in school (about 9 yrs old) I doodled so much I was punished for it. While doodling and notetaking actually help me digest and comprehend what is going on, my down turned head was off putting for my teacher. She made me bring ALL my sketchbooks into the principle’s office where they were locked up until the end of the school year. It turned me into a REBEL. NO one was going to stop me doodling. HA! I could draw on ANYTHING, I didn’t need sketch books and fancy pens. I hated that cruel teacher and that school and counted each day until I defiantly reclaimed my sketchbooks at the end of the year.

I have a theory why knitting works better: When I wasn’t knitting in the years prior, I kept doodle notebooks to sketch and collage in. I noticed that people found that if you were read/writing/drawing, it’s a little off-putting or anti-social, I think because it looks like communication, and people may feel, ‘why aren’t you paying attention to me?’ in communication settings. Whereas knitting is not competing for “communication-attention.” It’s handwork and some puzzle-solving.

I mainly take photos to record what I’m doing and share insights as I go. It’s easier on Instagram, but I do try and take some time to journal on my blog. If I am sharing it is because I’m trying to connect to others, and also get inspired, get advice or sometimes, just as a retreat from the day-to-day.

Staged sweetness? But it’s all a stage!

Since I think Karie was keen to start a debate, I’m going to stick my neck out right here and boldly say I’m kind of annoyed about this idea that I’m not ‘being true to myself’ or ‘not being authentic’ because I don’t write about the horrible illness, failures, fears and sadness in my life on my blog. Hmm… if I “had to be myself” as Karie suggests, I don’t think I would participate online.

We facet ourselves in all situations, it’s a normal human thing. (Example: My family know I swear like a sailor, but I’m not going to swear in a client call or when I’m sitting with a friend I know who’d be offended.) In fact, when people don’t properly facet themselves online, we see it as really strange. Ever see someone post on someone’s Facebook wall something that should be in a direct message? Some people have no online social filters, or don’t know the mores or online etiquette.

Please read the awesome book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by E. Goffman. Karie’s suggestion that this is “staged sweetness” fits within his notion of a Dramaturgical Framework. We have a Front stage, Back stage and Off stage of our self presentation, and we behave according to social scripts, stages and performances. This doesn’t make any one performance more or less authentic, because these are all facets of yourself.

Conflating an individual’s staged sweetness with the targeted marketing efforts of product companies is a little unhelpful and not useful. How can we compare someone’s knitting blog or Instagram feed to Goop? If someone is selling sweatshop products and trying to pass them off as hand-made it certainly should be called out. Though I also feel that if someone is promoting sweatshop craft supplies to help westerners to sate their need for self-expression, well that sucks too. I digress… Knit British writes about this better than I can.

At any rate, I think even the most active lifestyle blogs are presented by people with plenty of personal challenges. There is a person behind that presentation, we just don’t know them. Listen to Meighan’s  “What’s your Story” podcast interview with a Doyenne of Staged Sweetness SF Girl by Bay, where they discuss depression and the “candy-coated, curated world of social media.”

My old blog is gone, but I had posted something similar in “Craft Blog as Domestic Fantasy” (june 2006) because of discussion on some blogs saying pretty much what Karie is saying in her post. As I said in my response: “If anyone has read my blog and thought I was projecting some kind of domestic fantasy, I promise I didn’t mean to.” There were over 40 responses, because on top of all the challenges of life and the little spare time you spend to share, post and connect: you get told you’re doing it wrong? Life is hard enough.

Who’s watching?

I actually wonder if Social Media hasn’t made it actually harder to facet ourselves, and control which aspect of ourselves and identity which wish to share in an appropriate situation. Sharing on a blog is a big unknown. Is a future employer reading? Is my current employer reading? Is an ex-boyfriend reading? Is a stalker reading? (If you haven’t been stalked or censured yet, maybe you haven’t been online long enough.)

In other ways I also think: Who cares? The people who are close to me know about it and that is where I talk about it.

On my instagram feed I literally wrote in my profile: “wooly fluffy, knitting and good things.” I wrote that around the time I decided not to continue my #photo365 for the time being. Not because I wasn’t taking pictures, I was. But it wasn’t something I felt right sharing then. I was in the hospice with my dad, taking pictures of him, for him, with him and my family. And it was too painful to even look at, let alone share. So I stopped posting photos for that time and I didn’t pick it up again. I’d love to write about how technology helped us through this experience, but just not right now.

On a quick review, I see my instagram feed is mainly travel, wool and cats, it’s focused on things I’ve learned and a lot of screw ups and mistakes I’ve made in knitting for example. Even my blog is like that: A learning log. I’m not trying to stage any sweetness, but if you want to know about death, death, death, death and death, you can talk to me in person about it. I’m very open 1:1, not so much in a group, and not so much online, unless we’re friends on Facebook.

I’m not “hiding” my sadness or suffering, but I don’t want to put it in my learning notebook. I keep a lot of note books and this one is for my fibre adventure. I try to make the pictures clear, but many are poorly lit (I knit at night) and yeah, I’m in my PJs probably. I’d love to learn some better product photography actually.

If someone peruses it and thinks that my life is all happy fluffy kitties and pretty things, you’re part-right. There’s that, but then there’s also fear, sadness, doubt; messy stuff, sad stuff and crappy stuff. I try to assume the same about everyone I see and meet. Getting closer to illness and death has actually made this easier to comprehend and keep close on my mind:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren

A page from a doodle book of mine.

A page from a doodle book of mine.

Yarn review: Lyonesse by Blacker Yarns a linen-wool blend

I was very pleased when Sonja of Blacker Yarns offered to send me sample skeins of their new Lyonesse yarn to review, and I’m delighted to share a review with you. I was given two samples to play with: One icy blue Aquamarine in DK and a shimmery Ruby in 4 ply.

Blacker yarns - linen wool blend yarn

I have to say right off, I’m a massive fan of Blacker Yarns, so this review might be biased! I credit them with getting me into learning more about sheep breeds and eventually learning to spin. However, I’m going to stick to the facts so you can get an idea of what it’s like to work with.

In this review I take a close look at the yarn to give you an idea of what it’s like.

  • The theory
  • In the ball
  • Swatching and knitting with it
  • Washing
  • Wear testing
  • Overall Impressions
  • Pattern ideas

Theory: For a state of constant transition

Here’s the theory: The worsted spin of this squishy soft wool blended 50/50 with linen means this will yield a drapey fabric that would hold its block. It might even wrinkle or loosen with wear, but the wool will give it that bit of elastic spring back. Exactly what I’m looking for.

I love the idea of transitional clothing which is warm but cooling, light and easy to layer. Spring or autumn, seasonal transition might mean warm and balmy in an afternoon, and cold in the evening. Where I live, we’re pretty much transitional weather all year round, and you rarely get balmy weather at all. And with air conditioning and heated building, you need to dress in layers to adjust to the transitioning temps all year round.

Intuitively, I’ve wanted to use linen/wool blends. Though I’ve never spun or knit with pure linen before, but I’ve spun with a flax/wool blend from Hedgehog Fibres recently and I was truly amazed at the benefits of both fibres. You’d be surprised to find there aren’t actually that many wool/linen blend yarns on Ravelry (12 in DK weight.) I was delighted to know hear Blacker have a new wool/linen blend launching soon!

In the ball

If you judge a yarn like this in the ball, you’ll be completely misled. It doesn’t yield when you squeeze it, with the strong linen fibres pushing back. I suspected it was going to be fun to swatch and discover the transformation.

This is a very well-blended combination. You can see little errant flecks of linen here and there, so it’s not so blended that you can’t see the distinct fibres. The sheen of the linen does come through, as does the way the dye is take up differently by the fibres.

  • The 4 ply yarn has two plies, and it’s not tightly plied. I’d expect this to take lace very well and for the stockinette to be a bit nubbly.
  • The DK weight yarn has three plies (the same singles in the 4 ply weight), and it’s nice and round. I’d expect this to work well with lace and subtle textures.

Swatching

I decided to start my experimentation by making two flat swatches in each yarn, one in the suggested needle size, and one in the needle size up. Going up a size could emphasise the drape, and it’s often used for adding a little swing to a project such as a tee or tunic, which are precisely the types of garments I have in mind.

The yarn was really nice to work with. It’s a bit grabby, so I used metal chaigoo needles. I didn’t find it rough in the hand like I’ve heard reported about pure linen yarns. It was easy to work with.

You can see in my unblocked samples that my knitting suffers from “rowing out”. I do a lazy purl which means my purl rows are shorter and use less yarn than my continental knit stitches. I know that linen is meant to show every tension problem you have, but I was curious if the wool would be more forgiving.

  • 4 ply: As I said, I have a funny way of purling which sort of unplies the yarn, so I did notice some splitting with the 4 ply. I still loved knitting with it.
  • DK: I expected some splitting, but I didn’t have any trouble with that with this 3-ply DK.

Here you can see I swatched with garter stitch edges. Unwashed, the swatches curled at the ends. I was curious if I was going to need to pin them after washing.

Lyoness 4 ply yarn - curling before washing

Washing

This yarn didn’t melt in the water like some silks and merinos do. It held its own. I gave it a good 30 mins soak in warm water with a tiny bit of wool wash. Overnight, they dried perfectly flat with no pinning needed.

And sure enough, my wonky stitches and rows looked more even after washing. Yay for wool!

When I picked up the swatches I found them crispy to touch. They weren’t floppy or squishy, but had quite a lot of body, like new linen. I was sort of disappointed that they didn’t have the drape I expected: but my test wasn’t yet finished! After wear-testing, the yarn was transformed.

Wear testing

On first squeeze, the swatches get wrinkled and hold a shape!

Wear testing

But as soon as I flattened them out, the wrinkles smoothed out instantly. Literally, just after smoothing out, the wrinkles were disappearing as you can see in this pic. With more wear later, they even got smoother, the wrinkles are gone as if I had pressed them.

lyoness-post-wash

Wow! I roughed up the swatches vigorously, rubbing them together and generally abusing them. I saw some blurring with individual strands of flax giving way, but no pills whatsoever.

In fact, the more I roughed up the swatch, the softer and more supple it got.

lyoness-dk-drape

Now the drape of linen and the worsted spun wool was coming through! I love the old linens my mum has given me. They are soft and supple like nothing else. As linen ages, the fibres break down and get softer, while still staying very strong. Overtime I’d expect a garment knit in this yarn to get softer and softer.

I’m super excited about the way this yarn wears. I think you could wear this all day and still look pretty sharp.

What surprised me was the elasticity of the swatches. Cotton or Linen yarns are known for not springing back, but I don’t think that is a worry here at all. The wrinkles smoothed out instantly, and looked so sharp and nice. I found myself thinking “tailored” as I look at the swatches.

Overall Impressions

In this pic, left is DK, right is 4ply. Top is recommended needle size, bottom is one size up, both after washing and wear-testing.

For the 4 ply yarn:

  • 3mm – 27 sts x 39 rows. 4 mm – 22 sts x 32 rows.
  • I liked the yarn in a needle size up, 4 mm, as compared with the 3mm needle. It’s light and airy feeling.
  • The 3mm fabric was intriguing though, it wasn’t stiff, but it was firm, almost had a tailored feel to it.
  • This is the same singles in the DK yarn, but in two plies. This indicates that lace patterns will show up well. I even noticed that the simple yarn overs I created to mark my needle size stayed nice and open. And yes, the stockinette does have a slight nubbly look it it, but I really like that.

For the DK yarn:

  • 4mm – 21.5 sts x 30 rows. 5mm – 17.5 sts x 24 rows
  • I noticed I liked the recommended needle size for 4mm more than the results with 5 mm. At 5mm, the fabric was a bit slack, whereas the drape was great on the recommended 4mm needles and it has a nice plush squish to it.
  • This is the same singles as in the 4 ply yarn, but in three plies so texture is going to show up well, as would any twisted or mock cable patterns. Lace patterns would hold a strong block, and for that reason it would suit all sorts of shawl patterns which need drape rather than squish.
  • The stockinette is so smooth and sharp.

Here you can see the crepe-like surface of the two plies in the 4-ply weight yarn at the bottom. And the smoother surface of the round three plies in the DK weight yarn.

Pattern ideas: Transitional knits

I have trawled Ravelry recently gathering up 74 tee patterns and 50 tanks in my faves list. I really love tees and tanks, I layer over a cardigan or hoodie and feel comfortable, whereas I feel a bit locked-in with a pullover. Eventually I’d like to replace my collection of free tech tees with handknit ones.

One of my favourite garments to wear is a grey knit linen tunic, with large matte metal beads on it. It’s drapey, and it’s gotten softer overtime. I wear it all year round, layered under various weights of cardigans, and over a tighter tank top. I’d love to knit another beaded tunic like it, or a lace tunic.

Another of my favourite items of clothing is a boxy tee, but its bright white and coral scream “summer” so I usually let it rest over winter. Because of the drape you can choose boxy patterns and they’ll look pretty not bulky.

  • 4 ply: Because of the two plies this would be lovely for lacy garments.
  • DK: I think the DK weight would be a perfect open cardigan. Patterns which have waterfall sides would benefit from the drape and sheen of the linen.

Get your hands on it!

Lyonesse will be available May 1st. You can stalk Lyonesse yarn on Ravelry here.

You can order the colour cards here. My default is usually blues and greys, and I certainly love the Aquamarine, but what’s interesting is that the deeper Ruby tone shows off the linen contrast more. I really like that flecked look which would be more visible in the darker colours.

I think I’m zeroing in on stripes using Lyonesse 4ply in Ruby with a natural contrast stripe on on 4mm needles. This would be nice in a boxy tee like Vasa or tank like Saco stripes.  The Vasa tee would need 1 skein natural and 5 skeins in Ruby. At £5.75 a ball, that’s £34.50 for a large sized boxy tee, and hours of knitting fun.

Love your blog: Community and interactions

I love this idea from A Playful Day: Love your blog challenge! In the month of April A Playful Day will post a prompt for writing. This week it’s Interactions and Community. In my post I’m setting out some rules of engagement for myself to get more connected within the community in person and online.

A Playful Day

1. People first: Shrug off THE SHIES

P/hop stall

P/hop stall – This is Travel Knitter with version 2 of the stall layout. It changed all weekend!

I made a mistake at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I didn’t follow my own rules:

  • People first
  • Experiences over acquisition

I had been volunteering at the P/Hop stall on Saturday when I wasn’t in a workshop. Time flew, but by Sunday at 12:00pm the urge to shop was insane. I went all around the stalls and had a grand old time. But I didn’t talk to many people. I got a bad case of THE SHIES. I even saw A Playful Day in a stairwell and didn’t even stop to say “Thanks for all those podcasts”, or maybe I did a nervous squeak: “hi” as she passed. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME? I went all that way and spoke mainly to people I know.

I did meet Louise from Knit British, but I could hardly form words because of the disconnect between a familiar voice and an unfamiliar face. I wanted to talk w her as one of my priorities for the weekend. Never happened.

I look at the photos I took at the event and wondered: Why didn’t I touch that? Why didn’t I ask about that? I sort of held myself back and poked around a bit. So sad and silly. A little close-up of my life. I made some great purchases, but at the end of the day, I felt like I’d spent the day shopping instead of meeting people. I totally missed the podcast lounge too.

I think there is some truth that no matter the apparently easy to access online interaction; it pales in comparison to in-person interaction. But in person interaction is hard. Hard stuff. I’m awkward and wonder if I’m saying the right thing. So I get THE SHIES and I keep to myself. That really has to stop. I know I’m not going to stop being shy, but I need to put myself in more situations where I will have the chance to interact.

2. Bridge the online generation gap

I think The Internet World has a sort of amnesia. If it’s not on the internet, then it’s forgotten. or – Did it even exist?

I nearly laughed recently when I listened to an interview with a young weaver, I don’t want to call it out, but it was a young weaver who said she couldn’t find anyone who weaves. There are buttloads of weavers. They aren’t online! They are in guilds, they have their own magazines, they meet at events, etc. Just because they aren’t online doesn’t mean they aren’t THERE or don’t exist.

Most of the people in my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guild don’t seem to be online. Maybe a few use facebook, and one just joined facebook! But they don’t blog, they don’t use twitter, they don’t post pics of their work to Ravelry.

I think as a generation, if I’m in the first online generation, we need to connect to the previous generation of fibre folk.

Very few people are online and live their lives in social media. It would be nice if more people did. It would make it easier to communicate and promote events for sure. Maybe in bridging that gap we can help the previous generation get connected too.

3. Get out there

Having just gone through my stash, I mentally calculated how much I’ve spent on yarn in the last year. I can’t write the number down, but holy moley. If I had that money I could hop over to most of the yarn and fibre festivals this year without question. Travel Knitter keeps a list of the yarny/fibre events in the UK, it’s massive!

So – I think I need to apply my own rules: choose people and experiences first. Get out there, meet more people locally, go to events. Speak to people! Be brave and say more than a squeaky “hi”.

I’m looking forward to this summer. My guild does spinning demonstrations at sheep festival events. They sell a few wee things and show people the wonders of spinning fibre. I’m super looking forward to going to those events.

4. Get connected – virtually

Something totally crazy happened as I was writing this blog post. I began drafting the blog post, and I was originally whining “why is blogging dead, waaaa!” and started feeling like “what’s the point, who’s going to read this? why do anything ever!”

In the comments on A Playful Day’s challenge post, Estella said the same thing, ” is anyone out there listening? The efforts of bloggers and podcasters are sort of getting lost in the flow of detritus online. Had we all missed the boat??

I erased the whining first draft and thought: right what am I going to DO about it? This prompt was about “An Inspired 2015″ not a whiny moaning “I missed the boat 2015, so don’t bother doing anything 2015.”

So I wrote my rules of engagement here, and came up with AN IDEA. I imagined a hub where I could gather all sorts of interesting people and things together: and host virtual gatherings to talk with others online, particularly fibrey spinning folks.

I could curate content from people blogging and podcasting and help them get readers. Marketing is something I love to do in my day job. And I was sort of badgering Knit British about Google Hangouts on Twitter a few weeks ago. She didn’t seem interested… So – Maybe I can try and set it up myself?

And boom: I literally just set up The Drafting Zone: An online zine about handspun fun yesterday morning.

Honestly don’t know why I started this right now, but there ya go! Well maybe I do know… I don’t blog about sad things here, because I want this to be a happy place. I think with the amount of illness and death happening in my family right now, I need a change, I need inspiration, and a purpose. And I think connecting to other people would help immensely.

Good on ya, A Playful Day, and thanks for the podcasts :)

Tips for anyone embarking on YarnKonMari

I started writing what was going to be one blog post and I decided to write it all out. So this is part 3, wherein I warn the gentle reader if they are about to start on their YarnKonMari project. You can read Part 1 or Part 2 of this epic cull.

stash-odd-ball

You need time and space

I planned this originally thinking I had time off in April for Easter, but I have to go on a sad trip. So I had to wrap things up quickly last weekend. As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to photograph the yarn and I thought I’d queue it (ha no!) And even on the day, I tacked BOTH books and yarn. Don’t do what I did. Start KonMari early in one category. I wish I’d had the whole weekend, but I was booked.

A sound track helps!

I think it’s really helpful to hear people TALK about organizing and decluttering while I organize.
And a special Google Talk by Marie Kondo.

You need a vision

I think in the end I have a KonMarieFail. I did eliminate a good bit of yarn, but I feel like I just pushed stuff between boxes. I certainly know better what I have now, but I didn’t even get photographs as I had planned.

I think KonMarie says you should start with a vision of the lifestyle you want so you can work towards it.

I do want a lively, big, fun stash. But do I want it all out in the open exposed to dust/air? I think if I maintained a small stash then it would be easier to keep out on the open and enjoy it.

I don’t think I looked into how people store and display yarn. And that is why everything pretty much just ended up in boxes again. I think if you have a vision, you also know when you’re successful.

Danger zone: Don’t wake sleeping yarn dragons

After clearly eliminating the joyless yarn, I looked at the rest, and decided to sort it further. I had a “Hall of Fame” of yarns; I had “spark joy” yarns and I had this whole pile of “moderate joy” yarns.

I sat down with this moderately joyful pile, and organized it by colour. I woke it all up. I found I was surprised by the sparkly joy that the scraps and leftover yarn bits had. Suddenly they seemed like some exciting materials to play with freely without fearing using up too-precious yarns.

I wanted to try combining them immediately, to hold them together multi stranded. I made a quick swatch. Clara Parkes talks about it in her Craftsy class on stashbusting. (Follow the link in her newsletter for a cool discount!)

I decided to combine 2 neutral with one pop of colour, and use up some bits with texture.

I know I'm supposed to be #sorting #stashbusting #accidentalswatching #Marled #knittersofinstagram #procrastinating

A video posted by Heather James (@nearlythere) on

But my husband caught me and we had a discussion about the whole project. It was clear I wasn’t making progress. Of course, first I finished and cast off the swatch. Then returned to business.stash-swatch-combine

This might be the yarn equivalent to reading a book while you’re doing konmarie on your books. I really should not have started knitting! I love the swatch though and I think this would be a really fun project. I can picture it in a jacket: which would like being thick and heavy. I love Stephen West’s Marled Madness coat.

stash-swatch

I think this is the “magic” part of the process. You open up your ideas to what you have around you, and then you are less likely to accumulate mindlessly. (hopefully!)

Reflecting: Was I successful?

Though I didn’t start out with a vision, I started to develop one. I would like to achieve a state of active, live, exciting stash.

Clara Parkes calls this “slow stashing“, which I mentioned in the previous post.

“At its core, slow stashing involves being mindful of every skein we own, and only bringing in new skeins that are truly deserving of our time, our attention, and our resources.

Slow stashing starts with an unblinking survey of our stashes. Pull everything out—including deep in the closets and attics where yarn tends to congregate. Remove it from cover of darkness, take it all out into the bright open air, and study what you have…. You are seeking yarns that inspire you, yarns made from noble fibers and by good people, yarns that are truly worthy of your time, your attention, and your dollars.”

I think in terms shaking up the stash and getting familiar with what’s in there, I know what I have now. But the problem is, will I remember?

I really like Hanna Fettig’s advice about organizing your stash.

TIP FOUR. Take a a few hours to organize your materials in a pleasing manner.  I’m not a big fan of storing things in ziplock bags inside plastic bins.  I like to have everything out, sorted by color or coordinates, so it can inspire me on a day to day basis.  I shuffle everything around from time to time to give me a fresh perspective.

I have put the yarn back in plastic bins because that is what makes sense for the amount of stuff I have in relation to the space. However I have pulled out current projects into a basket so I can see what I’m working on. A spinning project and a few WIPs.

stash-next-projects

What I should do is take out yarns from time to time so I can just enjoy them, play and wake them up.

And I still have fibre to sort through!