How do you measure a year? I remember the first time that question was posed to me. It was in the form of a song, Seasons of Love from RENT. The light above my middle school head flicked to life. How do I measure a year? At the time, I would have answered in grades or successes. My formative years were spent competing in academia. The competitive nature in me had served me well thus far. Once I became involved in the fiber world, however, I grew to realize that mindset wasn't what I should be basing my yearly trip around the sun on.
Two years ago I had just barely found my way to the crochet and knit community through Instagram. Up to that point, I had been sat in my room for years, crocheting granny squares and single crochet beanies just for the love of crafting. I had never even interacted with another person online who crafted, let alone in person. Finding this community was a serendipitous moment that I will never forget. I tend to have little moments that are gifts from the universe to let me know my current path is true. This was one of those and I am ever thankful. It seems that my craft grew overnight. Gone were the days of only granny stitch and single crochet rectangles. I began reading patterns, working on increasingly complex projects, and designing as well. The only real explanation I have for this is that I was so eager to share what I was working on with the community who had opened up their arms to me.
I recently looked back at my "goals" post for 2018 on Instagram. In reading my post, I had to laugh. At the time, my goals were intentionally vague. My biggest goal was to collaborate more, and even that seemed like a grandiose vision to me. I believe wholeheartedly in one thing. Some call it the universe, some call it positive thinking or the Law of Attraction, but the principle remains the same; your thoughts become your reality. I thought of a year full of new beginnings and friendships and was given them back tenfold. I would be remiss if I didn't take the time now to reflect on these mile markers of my time in 2018. For all intents, this is a love letter. To myself, to my friends, to the universe, and to my latest year on this earth.
There is so much of the year to unpack, and I know I will not have the time to go over it all in detail. If I fail to mention something or someone (which I am sure will happen), know that my heart is still full of love and gratitude for the positive impact they have had in my life.
The beginning of the year saw two big things happen simultaneously. Firstly, my good friend Ali decided to run a feature article on me and my craft in our school paper. It was a beautifully written piece that I will fondly look back on for years as the first publication that fully tied me to the fiber arts. Funnily enough, the day I was interviewed and photographed for the story, I received an email from Red Heart. Sometime before that, I had submitted a crochet pattern to see if they would be interested in having me freelance for them. Truth be told, I didn't expect to hear back. I had two patterns to my name and was green as the day is long. They saw potential, however, and that email was an acceptance. With that, I began designing alongside America's Favorite Yarn. I’ve since worked on quite a few projects with them, and can honestly say that they live up to their namesake.
I found time between my hired design work and school to begin my La Vie Boheme Shawl. What started as a small kerchief grew to an oversized wrap shawl who’s conception in and of itself could be an entirely separate blog post. In summation, the design to me was more than an accessory pattern. It was a symbol of my flourishing friendships within this community, particularly with three dear crafters; Anna of Moontower Dyeworks, Alex of Alexcreates, and Claudia of Crochetluna. All had sent separate skeins of yarn that I had incorporated into the first shawl. This is not the time or place to get into my background, but it was certainly rocky at times. I will one day talk about those times, and how crochet helped me find my way out of them. The throughline that can be drawn, however, is that I have always been looking for my tribe. The ambiverts, the polymaths, the bohemians who march to the beat of their own drum. Through the shawl, I understood that I had found some of those people, and I felt my light get brighter.
My newfound freelancing, feature article, and friendships gave me the confidence that I needed to take the next leap in my career. I knew that the next logical step for me was publication, whether in craft magazines or my own book. I also knew that in order to reach that goal, I would need insight into the designer world. I spent the time to find people within the fiber community who’s path I could look to as a blueprint, and titans of the field to model myself after. I quickly realized that the perfect representation of that to me was Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby of The Shibaguyz. I sent an email in March to their contact page asking for any pertinent advice. Like Red Heart, I wasn’t holding my breath for an answer. Within the week, though, I was on the phone talking with them. Any of my most fanciful ideas of their response to my email was blown out of the water. Through our first phone call, they mentioned the idea of mentorship and I was shocked, to say the least. I was unsure if I was ready, or even talented enough for something of that caliber. That is when the universe gave me another nudge to help me along my path. It was a few words from Shannon that sealed it for me, “We think you could be a part of our tribe.”
For the summer months, I stayed hard at work fine-tuning my craft, working through quite a few freelance commisions and personal patterns. One day I got a message from The Guys that an opportunity to go to Stitches Midwest had presented itself. Needlepoints West, a yarn shop out of LA was interested in having me work in their booth and showing my La Vie Boheme Shawl on the Stitches runway. I was a healthy mix of honored and nervous. The entire experience was truly amazing and went by in a blur of yarn and kombucha. That isn’t an exaggeration either, I always had my hand on a skein of yarn, and drank my weight in kombucha. Make of that what you will. The highlight of my trip was not only meeting Shannon and Jason in person but also meeting Joanne, the owner of Needlepoints West, who had opened her arms to me and given me an amazing opportunity. It was at this Stitches convention that I also discovered my love of instructing by means of demonstrations on the Playground floor.
I began fall classes at college shortly thereafter and again was called into the Needlepoints West family for Stitches SoCal. SoCal brought along many other amazing experiences. It was there that I met another person from the Shibatribe, Arica of Skeinsnsticks Designs. I was fortunate enough to room with her and to say that we hit it off would be an understatement. By the end of our time at that convention, I felt that I had gained a sister.
The final segment of 2018 that needs mention happened the weekend after I arrived home from LA. The East Texas Fiber Festival was nothing short of magic. I spent the weekend at the Moontower Dyeworks booth and had an absolutely amazing time with Anna and her niece Whitney. I also got to spend time with a handful of familiar faces from Instagram like Anna of Pasely Ducky, Logan, and Jose of Leon Alexander Yarns, and Joanna of Potion Yarns. I also had the pleasure of meeting new people like my new friends at Savvy Skeins or Shipwrecked Sheep. The weekend was topped off by my first ever class where I helped Debra of Diary of a Physicist Farmgirl navigate crochet cables as a leftie. The festival was much smaller than either Stitches Convention but had the same amount of heart. I left with my suitcase full of fiber, and a bright, fresh outlook on what I and others were building.
There is so much that this year has given me in way of food for thought, and amazing experiences. This long post honestly only scratches the surface. So where does that leave me? The biggest lesson that the universe has brought me this year is being open to the unconditional love of others, and giving my love freely in return. To not be so guarded, and embrace the fact that people still give out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s something that has been made abundantly clear over the course of this insane year, and something I know I will still be working through in the future. 2018 marks the first year I measured in love, and it feels so damn great.
Let’s go get a Slushie. Of all the teenage cult classics, Heathers remains one that stands above the rest. It was truly a trailblazer, far ahead of its time and still remains poignant and modern to this day. One of my favorite things that have happened in recent years is the revival Heathers had with its Off-Broadway musical namesake. There has been many a film converted to the stage, with varying degrees of success (looking at you, Spiderman: Turn off the Dark). The Heathers, however, is what the other companies wish they could achieve. The newest adaptation of the series (I’m not even entertaining the notion that the TV show counts) is the best case I’ve seen of an adaptation capturing the essence of its source material. Honestly, I like it even more that the Mean Girls musical and you KNOW how I feel about Mean Girls.
One of my favorite songs from Heathers is Freeze Your Brain, a ballad performed by Mr. No-Name Kid himself; JD. In it, he explains his struggle to fit in, suppression of his feelings, and his safe place (any 7-11 gas station). That song is teen angst at its finest, and we’ve all felt like a JD at one point or another.
Enter the Mr. No-Name Kid Cable Scarf! If you’ve been following my designs for a while, you’ll know that I had this pattern sitting around for a while, patiently waiting for its time to shine. This pattern was made to highlight the endless possibilities of color working crochet cables! Two colors of cables is possible, and within reach! Even if you have never attempted cabling before, I would recommend this pattern. Especially because every technique used is available in video tutorials on my YouTube channel! Need to learn cables? What about colorworking cables? Or colorworking with two or more colors? I have you covered!
Also- Today (Thursday, Dec, 6th) and tomorrow, this pattern is available to you for FREE on Ravelry! Input the code TWENTY1 at checkout to grab you a copy! It’s my gift to you in celebration of my 21st birthday! What are you waiting for? Click the photo to snag the pattern now and get to hooking!
As the end of the year draws nearer, I find myself in awe of the amazing opportunities I've been presented with in 2018. I will have a year in reflection post next month, but suffice to say it has been a magical experience. Part of that experience was attending two fiber related events back-to-back! At the beginning of this month I flew out to L.A. for the first ever Stitches SoCal Convention in Pasadena California. I met a few Instagram friends, like my longtime pal Claudia of the CrochetLuna Podcast (who gave me an amazing set of buttons I forgot to show off), or Arica of Skeinsnsticks Designs. Along with my old friends came some new ones, like Will of The Budget Knitter Podcast. How did I celebrate? Buying fiber. Like, a lot of fiber.
After getting home I had about two seconds to admire my acquisitions before I started prep for the East Texas Fiber Festival. The week went by in a flash and I soon found myself in Lindale Texas waiting in line for the doors to open at ETFF. The first smiling face I saw was my dear friends Anna and Whitney of Moontower Dyeworks. There was hugs galore as I made my way around the grounds and greeted each of my Instagram friends, like Johanna of The Color Cauldron Podcast. I spent most of the two fiber-filled days at the Moon Tower, ogling the expertly dyed yarns. On Saturday I taught a crochet cable (featuring a custom colorway by MTDW) and was delighted to find out my student, Debra was the podcaster behind Buckthorn Farms.
All in all, both shows left me with a heart full of love and reminded my why I've decided to pursue a career within this amazing community. Now on to what I got! If you've watched the video above, you will know that it was quite a haul. We aren't going to even talk about how much ramen I'll be eating to make up for my shopping sprees. Just know it was totally worth it. Here are some links to the things I purchased or was gifted, so if anything caught your eye, give these small buisnesses some love!
East Texas Fiber Festival:
Paisley Ducky Bags
DJ's Classic Alpaca
Leon Alexander Yarns
Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Red Heart Yarns
Shaky K Fibers
Forbidden Fiber Co
Fancy Tiger Crafts
Leading Men Fiber Arts
Happy I Love Yarn Day! As a celebration of all things yarn the third installment of my tutorial series on crochet cables is live! In it I dissect the process I use to create colorworked cable patterns where cables are more than one color. The steps gone over in this video are what I used to create my Wicked Little Towns Cable Scarf and the Mr. No-Name Kid Scarf which will be released soon! Use this technique in those patterns, or my Melchior Cable Scarf, which is free on my blog!
"If you've got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town."- Stephen Trask
It's time to release my newest cable pattern! The Wicked Little Town Cable Scarf is already a favorite of mine. I had the pleasure of meeting the guys over at Leading Men Fiber Arts at Stitches Midwest, and they kindly gifted me a couple skeins of their Show Stopper base to run wild with. This cable scarf was the result.
For this project I had a few distinct characteristics I wanted to play with. Firstly, I loved the fact that it was fingering weight, and knew that I could have a semi-complex pattern repeat that wouldn't make a finished scarf so wide or bulky. I also knew that I needed to make this pattern colorworked and as long as possible. In the winter, I love layering my scarves underneath my jackets for a pop of color and texture, so a long thin scarf would work perfectly for wrapping. After my swatches checked off every box on the qualification list, I was off!
How will you work your Wicked Little Towns Scarf? Will you be daring and try to make a fingering weigh version, or stick to worsted? And what about colorworking? I recommend you give it a try! For a colorworking cable tutorial, see my video here. I'll also be filming and publishing a follow up tutorial about working with two or more colored cables this Saturday for I Love Yarn Day! Until the video is released, pick up the pattern here and enter code TRASK for 20% off.