Nice Cuppa pattern now available!

Nice Cuppa hat knitting pattern
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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
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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
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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!

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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
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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! 🙂

Making time for making

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Felicia’s latest post, Craft as “a little space to collect oneself”, on The Craft Sessions hit me today. I wrote a comment in response, but I realized as I posted it that it probably would have made for a better blog post than a comment.

In a nutshell, her post is about having lost a private, physical space to craft in and how it’s affected her. There are more interruptions to her craft time because she’s out in the open and available. And sometimes she feels guilty about taking craft breaks since everyone can see her taking a break. She’s basically lost all craft time because she lost the privacy.

One of my current WIPs - Granite and Clouds Wrap - with my cute incense holder >^_^<

One of my current WIPs – Granite and Clouds Wrap – with my cute incense holder >^_^<

My circumstances are a bit different than Felicia’s. While I’ve never had a private space for crafting, I do have private time. It’s me that’s holding myself back from taking time out to craft, not someone else. This is what resonated with me from Felicia’s post:

“I may be voicing a universal longing for enough space to breathe and put things in perspective…… More and more we’re challenged and unsettled by it in part because I think we’re more and more addicted to our busyness. ”

— Pico Iyer – Dumbo Feather Issue 46

And Felicia’s feelings of guilt for not filling her time with busy things…

“But thinking about it I’m not even sure the judgement I’m trying to avoid is external. I have the feeling some of it, might be coming from me. My feelings around what I should be doing.”

— Felicia from The Craft Sessions

I have been struggling with this lately. I don’t have a full time job anymore, which clears up so much space. I had hoped to make room for crafting and design as a freelance career, but it seems that I have filled every nook and cranny with my old job (web design), just on a freelance basis. I think I’ve done this because I swear that everyone around me thinks I’m sitting at home just drinking a cup of tea. (They really don’t. If anything, they imagine me doing magic with two wands as I knit up a project, since most people I know don’t know how to knit and think they never could.)

Shawl

The process of crafting from scratch is slow. Web design is much faster, so I think I’ve filled my time with it as a way to show those around me that I’m being productive. I’ve been saying “Yes” to so many things I don’t even really want to do! I’ve been valuing my worth by how many ‘things’ I’ve accomplished.

As Paco said, I seem to be addicted to how busy I am. Ticking off small, quick items on my to-do list. Forgetting about the bigger goals, like becoming a knitwear designer. (Well, not forgetting… More like anguishing about it while I do other things that aren’t moving me toward my goal.)

I feel like I have to earn my time to craft.

It’s good to consider how well we’re treating ourselves. We’re not robots. To me, life isn’t about how hard we work, it’s about family, friends, compassion, growing, enjoyment…

Knitting needles and crochet hooks in a holder made by Carly

All my knitting needles and crochet hooks, waiting for me in the holder Carly made

How do you give yourself permission to do what you really want to do, even when it doesn’t pay? Even when you already have enough money?

Emma Mitchell touched on this during her interview on A Playful Day. She quit a well-paying, high-power job to craft because it felt better. It’s a great interview, give it a listen!

I’m going to get a little Buddhist here, but I think it has to do with remembering that our human lives are precious. Yes, we need money for food and shelter, but if you’ve got that covered, it may help to remember that you’re lucky to be here, alive, as a human.

In Buddhist views, you could have been born a cat, doomed to nap all day! No thumbs to knit with!

Black kitten

Yes, like Binx here.

The fact that you’re able to craft should be celebrated! Take the time for yourself to do what makes you feel alive. Everyone and everything else can wait 5 minutes. (Or 30!)