When to let go of a WIP (and how to decide)

Too many WIPs!

This weekend, the gals and I are getting together for another Lost Projects Club. So I’m took out my WIPs (works-in-progress) to get a good idea of what I might want to work on while sipping tea and chatting.

I have 9… and then I walked out of the room to get some coffee and noticed another one not organized with my stash of WIPs.

So I’m wondering “When do I give these up and use the yarn for something else?”, “Why haven’t I finished these when I obviously felt like I wanted to knit them in the first place?”, and “What can I do to spark some interest in these again?”.

One thing I’m noticing here is that 3 of the projects that I’ve stopped working on are scarves. I think it’s because it’s hard to keep my knitting mojo up for a garment that I will only get to wear when we go on vacation. Or I go on a walk at 5am in January. Maybe.

That jewel-toned, striped scarf at the top is my weather scarf, started in 2013! The scarf is already 8 feet long and I think I was a little over halfway done with it. For as much time as I spent on this, I could have created a Doctor Who scarf! It’s time to cast this one off and just call it finished.

There are two cross stitch WIPs there too. I stopped cross stitching because I feel like I’m not very good at it. I didn’t think there would be much technique to making neat Xs with thread, but there is! It seems like I end up splitting my thread with each stitch. But my new motto is “Done is better than perfect!” so I’m going to finish these. Plus, I have 4 more cross stitch kits waiting to be made after these!

Because it’s not entirely enthralling, I’m not going to give a synopsis of every WIP, but I have figured out whether or not I want to keep each one by answering a set of questions.

Do you have a ton of WIPs collecting dust? Want to do something about them?

Get them all out. Notice what types of projects they are, what kind of yarn you’re using, even what needles/hooks you’re using and ask yourself:

Is there a certain garment I always quit working on? Why?

Try ripping out your yarn and use it for something you think you’ll use. Or get someone in mind for the current  project – think of how happy they’ll be to receive your item and start working for them!

Is there a certain type of yarn I quit working with? Is it too soft? Scratchy? Thin?

Maybe give this yarn to someone else and try your project with something new and more exciting!

Do those needles, that crochet hook, or whatever tools you’re using just suck?

Maybe it’s something as simple as a stitch marker that just kept getting caught on your work, annoying you to no end. You’re gonna hate me, but dammit, go splurge on some awesome tools! Treat yourself and get excited about your project again!

Is it the stitch pattern?

Do you find it too difficult? Try a new pattern with a more TV-friendly stitch pattern. Too boring? Get some lace on those needles!

Has it been 10 years since you started the project?

It may just be time to let it go…

Maybe none of these issues applies – you still love the pattern, the yarn, the needles are fine… but you just put down your project and you’re not sure why. My best advice to spark your interest in the project again would be to go on Ravelry and look for other finished projects using the pattern you’re using. Get jealous of what others have completed and tell yourself, “Self, I don’t have to be jealous! I can kick butt and finish this project so I too can have this garment (or whatever)!” Find the inspiration that led you to start the project in the first place, keep it fresh in your mind, and pick that project back up.

I hope these questions help you figure out what to do with your old WIPs. If you have any advice for what you usually do with WIPs, I’d love to hear them!

Nice Cuppa pattern now available!

Nice Cuppa hat knitting pattern

For your knitting pleasure, let me introduce my newest pattern, Nice Cuppa!

This is a stranded colorwork beanie, knit up in primary colors, with a bit of vintage style that was inspired by a friend and her teacup. Read about my inspiration here.

I used O-Wool’s O-Wash Fingering yarn because the primary colors are deep, the yarn is organically processed to be a superwash wool, and O-Wool produces their yarns with a concern for animal welfare and the environment. The big bonus is that they also sell their fingering weight yarn in smaller mini-skeins, which is perfect for colorwork!

The hat is made to fit adult heads with some wiggle room. I’ve included measurements for the pattern repeats so that you can alter the circumference and the height if you need or want to.

You may want to have some colorwork experience, since this pattern uses 3 colors to a row in places. But hell, I’m all about challenging yourself, so go for it! Some tips on colorwork: Trapping long floats in colorwork by Paper Tiger & Three Color Stranding video by KnitPicks

The Nice Cuppa pattern is available on Ravelry, where you can find more details about the pattern and purchase it for download.

How I got out of a creative slump

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.' - Vincent van Gogh

You’re slogging through life when you realize you haven’t made anything for months. Haven’t picked up your needles, a pencil, a paintbrush… whatever tools you use for your usual choice of creation. Or maybe you’ve been picking up that pencil, but nothing happens. You knit for like 5 minutes a day but just feel bored or discouraged.

Something is holding you back but you have no idea what. You lost the spark for your craft.

I’ve been feeling that kind of slump lately. (Could you tell? Seeing as how I haven’t updated this blog since April.)

A few weeks ago, on a day where I was trying to pep-talk myself into working harder on my next knitting pattern, my sister called me to ask for a new website for her new business as a life coach. We decided to trade services instead of paying each other in money. Three weeks into working with her, I’ve gone from feeling like a creative failure to a rockstar.

Hello kitty

Playing with paint and shading techniques

So what happened?

In our sessions, we talk about goals, what I need to do to achieve them, why I want to achieve them, what might hold me back from achieving them and what I can do about that. Because creativity is such a big part of my identity and is tied directly to my being able to successfully create more than one knitting pattern in my entire life, that’s where we have been focusing.

I had been dragging my feet while trying to finish up my latest pattern. I used to write a lot but I hadn’t had an idea for a blog post in forever. And drawing and painting – lawl. What are those? I had actually given up that part of my identity in my head.

I realized my problem wasn’t only with being creative when it came to knitting, it was an issue in all aspects of my creativity. The solution I decided to test out was to just start creating for the sake of creation. I figured I could make a “creativity habit” to get my brain to start thinking creatively every day.

Wish fulfilling jewel

Painted to remind myself to be mindful and compassionate

But what was the block? Why wasn’t I just doing all of the things I loved to do, like knitting, painting and writing?

Stories we tell ourselves

Our actions are often based on the stories we tell ourselves. Stories about who we are and the world around us. They can stop us from doing the things we want to do and from becoming who we want to be. By identifying these stories, we can start to notice when they’re holding us back and work to change them.

What are some of the stories that hold me back?

  • I tell myself that I’m not a productive member of society if I’m just playing around and creating things for the sake of creating.
  • I tell myself that the only things worth doing create something useful. This is probably the reason I began crocheting and knitting in the first place.
  • I tell myself I can no longer draw or paint, so there’s no reason to waste the money on materials.
  • I tell myself that creating for the joy of it should only be done as a reward after doing ‘real work’.
Intuitive painting

More intuitive painting on days I just didn’t know what to paint

The Plan

I would get up an hour early (I’m a morning person), get to my easel and paint whatever came to mind for an hour.

I imagined what it would be like to stand in front of the canvas, how it would feel when I was done and got totally psyched about that feeling. Initially, I imagined I would just paint a bunch of strokes on the canvas with no end goal, mostly because I was still afraid I ‘couldn’t paint’. It was something I hadn’t done for a long time, so there was an excitement to it, but also an old comfort. I imagined I would feel like I was coming back to myself.

Before starting, I worked through a few issues I had with painting – like wasting materials on a crappy painting. “If I enjoy myself, it’s not a waste. I can always paint over it.” I was also just afraid to create a bad painting in general – what if someone saw it? “So, what if someone did? What would happen? The world wouldn’t end and I still would feel good knowing I at least showed up.” If only masters of a craft practiced the craft… well, there would be no masters to begin with.

Intuitive painting

Toxic waste? Or intuitive painting? 🙂

I have been showing up for the past three weeks. I have started 5 paintings (some good, some not so good), miniatures (nerdy and creative), and bought supplies to dye yarn because playing with colors on canvas made me realize I would really love playing with colors on yarn. I started following whatever got me excited, or to steal a line from Tara Swiger, I was ‘exploring my enthusiasm’. Oh, and also, my pattern is ready for tech editing.

Painting every day helped me feel like I was getting back to my old creative self – the teenager who would draw and paint because she wanted to, not worried about whether she was being productive or not. And that feeling gave me a spark of energy I hadn’t had in a while.

Half-finished painting of trees

Not quite done

So what can you do if you’re feeling not-so-creative?

First, try and identify your stories.

What are you telling yourself either consciously or subconsciously that is stopping you from practicing your craft or being fully invested in it? Pay attention to your thoughts for a few days and see what comes up.

Create counter-stories

Once you’ve identified them, come up with some counter-stories for each one.

For example, for my first story, “I’m not a productive member of society if I’m just playing around and creating things for the sake of creating“, I have created a counter-story:

“I value art for art’s sake. I value artists and designers and all they create whether it is practical or just beautiful, so I value my own time to create practical or impractical things.”

I also know that story has something to do with what I think others might think of the way I spend my time. So I add a little “eff everyone else” to the end of that story. My values, my time. Please don’t waste your time on what you think others think. They probably don’t even care.

Then become aware of when you’re telling yourself these stories so you can actively counter them with your new story. Believe your new story. Repeat it often and let it become your story.

Start acting, pick your craft, pick a time, go for it!

While you’re working on identifying your stories and coming up with counter-stories, start imagining new or old ways you’d like to work on your creativity.

Kate from A Playful Day goes on a walk with her camera to spark her creativity.

Maybe you like to bake, so commit to baking every few days while altering the recipe in some new way. Pick up one of those fancy new coloring books for adults. Watercolor. Try sculpting. If you’re a knitter, maybe challenge yourself to some small, quick knits – hats, chunky scarves, etc…

If nothing comes to mind, what kind of crafts did you do as a kid or teenager because you thought it was fun?

Are there crafts you know nothing about but really want to try? Give yourself permission to buy the materials and get started. Follow your enthusiasm!

Imagine yourself doing this craft, where are you going to do it? How does it feel? What time of day is it?

Is there something that can get in the way of practicing this craft every day and if so, what is it and how can you remove the obstacle. Work out those obstacles and get to it!

But what if I’m still stuck?

Hopefully you just go for it, start creating and feel super awesome about it. But if there’s something still holding you back, start to think about why you want to be creative. Is there an end-goal? Or is it more about being your true self? Really think about it and imagine yourself where you want to be. Get excited about being there and your actions will follow.



I’ve been published! Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Knitting Pattern

As I mentioned in my 2015 Year in Review, I was finally brave enough (or crazy enough) to submit a design idea to a knitting magazine last year.

That idea became Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers and they have just been published in the latest issue of Knit Now!

Designing and knitting a sample for a magazine within a month was a little hectic… As seen below, you can see how stressed I am, filling every second of my day with knitting.

Mandy knitting on the beach

I’ve never knit so much in my life! We took a trip to the beach while my mom was in town and I knit while we walked. (Thanks to my mom for the pic.)

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers were inspired by ‘slow moments’. I imagined sitting in my favorite arm chair, knitting a project with the softest yarn on a chilly, spring afternoon (which don’t exist here in Florida, but I tried). Oversized, snuggly arm warmers came to mind. I sketched them up, made a swatch, and the rest is history!

The sample was knitted with Erika Knight’s British Blue Wool and it is lovely to knit with! Erika Knight has created beautiful, subdued hues for this yarn.

The sample shown is in the Fawn and Boho colorways.

I’d also recommend combos of Pretty and Milk Chocolate, Milk and Leaf, Sea Fret and Dance, Sea Fret and Mr Bhasin, and for some nice contrast, Mouse and Boho.

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Color Combo Suggestions

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Color Combo Suggestions

Check out Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers in issue 59 of Knit Now! If you knit some of your own, please share them with me (leave a comment or tag me on Twitter or Instagram @mandybee)!

Stress Less – Knit or Crochet!


Saw this super cute Instagram post from Lion Brand and thought I’d share it! Cute little lemon stress balls! 🙂

Stress can be a killer and what a great little reminder to take a break and stitch a little.

Free-Spirited Knitting & Crochet Patterns

Free-spirited knitting and crochet patterns

I sometimes dream of putting on an outfit that brings out my inner hippy. I love the white lace that always seems to be front and center in so many bohemian outfits. It’s also the only style I know of that has so much crochet!

I went on a hunt for knitting and crochet patterns that feel bohemian and free-spirited to me.

Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin (Free!)

How adorable is this?! I want to make 10 of them… but first I need to learn how to braid my hair like that.

Yoga Shawl by Andrea MowryYoga Shawl by Andrea Mowry ($6)

I love Andrea Mowry’s design style. The things she designs are simple in a way that I could imagine wearing all of them with my own, current wardrobe. Like this yoga shawl. Can I just wrap up in it?

Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio ($6, picture of Mamatronic’s project)

This top looks so comfy. I love the way that it’s open and oversized.

Cancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate ArcherCancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate Archer (Free!)

I think I may have gasped when I saw this and then to see that the pattern is free…! I love that this is knitted, as it has a different look than a lot of the boho tops you see (crocheted in white). Super cute, though I couldn’t get away with wearing a crop top.

Bohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya KuzmanBohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya Kuzman ($5)

I can imagine so many different color combinations with this bracelet, or maybe making it a bit smaller using thinner yarn and a smaller crochet hook. Also, sitting at a computer all day, I find hard bracelets to be a bit cumbersome, so a soft bracelet like this seems like it would be rather comfortable.

Den-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora YangDen-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora Yang ($6, picture of Malviina’s project)

Is it a skirt or a poncho? A soncho? A spirt? No… I’m glad Flora didn’t try any of that for this pattern name. This crocheted skirt looks perfect for the beach!

View all of these patterns and more on Ravelry: Free-Spirited Bundle

I’ve put together some extra inspiration on this Pinterest board, not all pointing to patterns, but eye-candy nonetheless! Enjoy!

Follow Mandy’s board Inspiration: Funky, Free-spirited Knitting and Crochet on Pinterest.

**All pattern photos are copyrighted to their original owners. I’m claiming nothing here! 🙂