Design Inspiration and Works in Progress – OMG Yarn (balls)

Design Inspiration and Works in Progress

Quick Crochet Tutorial: How to do a Standing Double Crochet

July 5, 2017




You know I love to do ALL things fiber arts, right? That includes crochet.

I’m always knitting and always crocheting and sometimes things don’t always work out how you like them to, so you learn to fudge it, scheme it, or just plain make it work.

The goal of the site is to help cut out some of the scheming to make your projects look better by actually teaching some of the complicated stitches you might come across in your patterns.

Standing Double Crochet: A Brief Tutorial

I came across the standing double crochet while working on a cute little crochet sweater for Sharky two Christmases ago.

Even with almost two decades of crochet experience under my belt, I had never heard of this stitch which was being used to start rows of stripes along the front of his sweater. Sorry, I just remember what pattern I was using.

I initially shared the short tutorial on Instagram back in 2015, but it’s time to put this all in one searchable place that both you and I can come back to for reference. So, here we go:

Using the photograph above as a guide, complete these steps…
1. Yarn over hook twice. 2 loops on hook.
2. Insert your hook into the stitch, draw up a loop. 3 loops on hook.
3. Yarn over and pull through two loops on hook. 2 loops on hook.
4. Yarn over again and pull through two loops on hook. 1 loop remains and you’re done!
5. Once your next stitch is completed, your tail is tucked into the work.




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Gritty Photography, Free Spirits and The Oversized Sleeveless Tunic

June 28, 2017




 I like photography that stands out. I also like yarn that stands out and speaks for itself. When paired with the perfect project, photography and yarn can certainly make indie dyed yarn into a work of art.

The idea behind the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic design was to have a simple, oversized top that I could wear anywhere AND show off my yarn in a way that doesn’t take away from the speckled colorways I have been dyeing lately.

With the photography, I got adventurous in every way.

iPhone Photography

I use my iPhone for photography these days. Gone are the days where I had the time to grab my camera, take photos, download photos, edit photos, and then choose the best to go into patterns.

I take photos and edit them right in Instagram, send them to myself, and they get done in a much more streamlined manner (if that’s not another blog post, I don’t know what is…haha). The results are more unique photos and way less time is spent fighting with computer software to do what I want it to do.

The photos from the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic were purposefully grittier. They’re a throwback to when photography was new and a bit more of a raw art.

They’re also an homage to my favorite cinema director Tony Scott who experimented with older hand cranked cameras in the movie Man on Fire. The raw cinematography contributed to the die hard emotions of the film and was a way to draw the audience in to the wild spirt that comes alive when avenging the apparent death of a loved one.

I got a little adventurous and took the short walk to our lakefront in order to get a unique backdrop from the Lake Michigan shore. The free spirit in me has always loved looking out onto the lake and seeing nothing but endless skies and, of course, endless possibilities.

Showing off what gorgeous fabric that OMG Rushmore and the new color Newsprint is Dead can do, I created the Oversized Sleeveless Tunic.




Newsprint is Dead

The colorway wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my three-year-old. I was playing with an idea (I’ve been looking for black speckled yarn that looked like newspaper EVERYWHERE) and layered grey and black together. My toddler snuck up behind me and asked, “What you doing?” half-jokingly, because he knew what I was doing.

I asked if I should add another color to the yarn and he said, “Yes! Pink!”

The result: A page of newspaper that looked a little bloody before the dye set. It almost looked like a murder scene. Perfect.

Oversized Sleeveless Tunic

As the pattern description says, as a mom of three young kiddos that are always on the go, I need to wear comfortable, loose clothing that allows me to keep up with all the fun. One of my go-to clothing items is a tank top or sleeveless shirt that I can layer under a cardigan or over a t-shirt.

The Oversized Sleeveless Tunic is designed to be a go-to knit that you can actually wear, be comfortable, and stylish at the same time. Pair this with solid color yoga pants, layer with your favorite tank tops and/or cardigans and knit it with your favorite sport weight, hand dyed yarn.

This design is beginner-friendly and perfect to show off a speckled, variegated, or even solid colored yarn. There’s six inches of ease, so your top will have a gorgeous drape to accentuate almost any figure shape.

It is constructed from the bottom up and in the round. The front and back are worked flat and there is a faux seam on the side that tapers to the under arm.

The day that I photographed this, I walked down to the lakefront and back, and it was just so comfortable that I left it on ALL DAY. I ran to pick up my boys from their dad’s house, I took all three kiddos shopping at Target, and then came home to rest. Mom clothing needs to feel un-impeding of the process of caring for kiddos and this did just that.

It also will go perfectly with a black cardigan I just bought, so it’ll likely get put into the rotation of my mom wardrobe aka the mom uniform.

The pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry store and my Etsy shop as well. See links below.

Limited time only: The pattern is free in my Ravelry store until July 4, 2017, no coupon code necessary.




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Healing with Fiber Arts: Why I’ll Never Put Down My Yarn

March 24, 2017

I have always been intrigued by music and art therapy. In fact, as a former classical musician, my mother suggested that I become a music therapist and incorporate my talent into helping others. I never chose that career path, however, it wasn’t too far off from what drives me to be a part of the fiber arts industry now. Rather than just tell you a bunch of facts about how the fiber arts heals the mind, body, and soul, I thought I’d add a little personal touch and incorporate a little bit about how the fiber arts have helped me personally.




So what is art therapy?
Art therapy is defined as expressive therapy using the “creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being”.

I didn’t know it when I was younger, but my passion for the arts was keeping me whole. I was a bundle of nerves, insecure, and anxious all the time, but when I played the flute, my troubles just melted away. Playing an instrument was all about breathing control, expressing one’s self through notes scrawled on a page, and becoming one with a piece of music. Nothing else mattered.

How could you not feel powerful when Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 in G left you in control of the orchestra behind you? They backed me up. They slowed down when I slowed down. They paused when I paused. They quieted when I quieted. They flourished when I flourished. I overrode the conductor with every note that escaped my instrument.

I was quietly confident when I was on stage, but only when I was on stage. For the decade or so that I played the flute on a semi-professional basis, that’s all I did was live my life to be on stage where I felt the most comfortable. I went chasing that feeling, but did not think I could find that serenity without a flute in my hands…until I discovered the fiber arts.

What’s so special about the fiber arts, anyway?

Sharky’s Rainbow Blanket is ongoing. He loves rainbows and I love mindlessly crocheting this design of mine.

There are many benefits to the practice of fiber arts. According to the article 6 Unexpected Benefits of Knitting, the repetitive motions of knitting (or crochet) can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. A lot of times, depending on the mental health issue at hand, cognitive behavioral therapists recommend meditation. The act of knitting or crochet mimics this meditation as we count stitches, focus on written instructions, and repeat the same stitches over and over again.

Early last year, The New York Times published an article about the health benefits of knitting. The fiber artist community passed the article around online, thrilled about the positive press that the craft was getting. Knitting was not for grandmas and cat ladies anymore (yea, I know we all hate that stereotype…), it was therapeutic and healing for so many people. In fact, I had a few people encourage me to come and volunteer to teach knitting as a part of addiction recovery therapy at a local shelter, because there were proven benefits to this type of art therapy.





Reaching Nirvana Through Stitches

The different textures of knit and crochet fabrics can stimulate the release of happiness hormones.

I recall my littlest (and favorite) customer, an 8 year old boy who had learned to knit at school and would drag his mother into my shop periodically to buy “the good yarn” for another project. His mother would comment about how it was a brave new world once he had learned to knit. She, herself, didn’t knit or crochet, but something about her son eyes lighting up every time they walked into my studio made the trip worth it. I could see the universe turn into a haze behind him as he focused on each ball of yarn that he ran his fingers across. It was as if the tactile experience brought him to a place of nirvana.

Science explains this phenomena pretty well, too. The happiness we get from playing with yarn or making it releases dopamine, the happiness/feel-good hormone in our bodies. This hormone can keep us fiber artists motivated to begin (and yes, complete) project after project and send us back to our favorite yarn retailers over and over.

Healing One Stitch At a Time

Knit and crochet can also help with motor skills, help prevent arthritis pain and mild cognitive impairment. What hits home the most for me is help with motor skills. A few years back, as the result of malnutrition from a severe illness, I experienced nerve damage in my left hand. For a few weeks, I had intermittent paralysis and pain from constant muscle spasms. I used knitting to retrain my left hand to function, thus eliminating my need for physical therapy in a clinical setting. Yes, yarn saved me money and time and healed me through knitting and crochet.

Fiesta Hat & Cowl

It started with figuring out how to hold a needle in my left hand, because my grip was so weak. Then, I could grip larger needles, and began designing patterns for weights of yarn that I was not used to knitting with. OMG Yarn’s launch would not have been possible without patterns like the Fiesta Hat and Cowl, which was the first pattern design I came up with after experiencing the loss of function in my left hand. Fair isle/intarsia knitting, plus Aran weight yarn and knitting the sample out of yarn I had dyed was a big catalyst to turning life around (someday, I’ll share the rest of that story). That process alone is why I’ll never give up my fiber fanaticism. Occasionally, I take breaks to reflect on life, but I always come back.

Well, I hope this is the start of a good discussion as to why yarn is awesome. You know I’m not just saying that too. I encourage everyone to share this article with anyone interested in art therapy or to help prove why your yarn habit is much more beneficial than having something warm to wear in winter.

References.

Brody, J. E. (2016, January 25). The Health Benefits of Knitting. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/the-health-benefits-of-knitting/?_r=0.

Harper, K. (n.d.). 6 Unexpected Benefits of Knitting. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.lifehack.org/314247/6-unexpected-benefits-knitting.

Locke, R. (n.d.). Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer and Happier Mentally. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.lifehack.org/319404/science-says-knitting-makes-humans-warmer-and-happier-mentally.

What is Art Therapy? (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.arttherapyblog.com/what-is-art-therapy/#.WNUwlWMdfVo.




Adventures in Sock Knitting: Join in on the Sock Madness

March 13, 2017

“Can you make something like that, mom?” My son constantly asks me if I can knit something he sees in stores. My response is the same every time, “I can knit anything, sweetie.” I usually say that jokingly, but as I cast on the socks for the qualification round for this years’ Sock Madness, I realized, I actually can knit anything, thanks to Sock Madness.

If you are a glutton for punishment  die hard knitter but want to challenge yourself in speed and new techniques, you need to join Ravelry’s Sock Madness group (like, yesterday). I first learned how to knit socks when Peanut, my oldest, was a baby. It took a lot of muddling through poorly written free patterns, but eventually, because I’d stuck with it, it became my favorite thing to make. If you check my Ravelry Project Page, you’ll see that I’m not joking.

But why knit socks?

There’s a good Craftsy article on that subject, actually, but I have a few of my own reasons too. When I ran Midwest Yarn, my yarn shop, I always explained the advantages of having handmade socks to my newbie sock knitters:


  • The properties of wool make handmade socks perfect for a wide variety of situations and wearers. I had plenty of customers making wool socks for their husbands (and one male knitter who learned how to make socks just so he could knit them for his wife) because they are hard wearing, warm, and can be worn several times before the need to be washed. Wool wicks away moisture, meaning your feet are not marinating in sweat (you’re welcome for that visual).
  • You can make unique socks for people of all ages and sizes. This is pretty self explanatory, but still, I mean, research shows that people who wear wild and crazy socks tend to be more intelligent (and have superior awesome-ness if you ask me). My boyfriend, Dennis, has HUGE size 12 feet, so I probably won’t be making socks for him, that’d be two 100 gram balls of yarn minimum!
  • They (usually) are very comfortable. I say usually, because, let’s face it, I’m picky about clothes. I don’t like wearing socks made from yarn larger than fingering weight, because I am sensitive and an feel each individual stitch digging into my feet. I know plenty of people, including my mother, who like thick boot socks. Dennis wears thicker (store-bought) wool socks for trudging through winter snow or below freezing temperatures all day (he’s a FedEx contractor, and those guys definitely don’t get snow days).

The Sock Knitter’s Toolbox

Here’s the basics of what you’ll need for knitting a decent pair of socks:

  • Double-pointed needles (wooden or metal, but I recommend Karbonz by Knitter’s Pride if you really get into it) or circular needles for magic loop method.
  • Good Sock Yarn. This may be a controversial statement, but you don’t necessarily need to get yarn with nylon in it in order to have a long-lasting pair of socks. I’m not just saying this to sell more yarn from my Etsy Shop, I’m saying it from experience. I have enough hand-knit socks to not ever have to buy anymore from the store and I wear mine for running, walking, around the house, etc. I have had wool/nylon blend socks fall apart on me, while their all wool counter parts hold up year after year. You want to find a yarn with a good, solid twist/spin to it, which helps reinforce the structure of the sock. Sock designers tend to incorporate a reinforced heel to help too, but with dozens of different heel techniques out there, that may not always be the case. The sturdiest pair of socks I own, made from OMG Calatrava Yarn, a fingering weight 100% Superwash Merino Wool. It has a very tight twist, but it’s soft, and I love it.

    Toe-Up Ribbed Socks, free pattern when you sign up for our mailing list (Knitters)

  • A good pattern. I recommend a good pair of vanilla socks to start. I have a good toe-up sock pattern that I wrote for my sock knitting students. Join our email list (sign up on the bottom, right hand side) and check the box that you’re a knitter, I’ll send you a copy of the pattern, free. If you’re more of an advanced knitter, or would like a new challenge, I would check out some of the previous Sock Madness patterns if you missed the qualifying round for the current competition.

Why Sock Madness?

I recommend Sock Madness and it’s not just because I’ve been a designer for the warm-up round a couple years ago (The Choose Your Own Adventure Socks are now available for purchase on Ravelry). I learned some of the more difficult techniques that I know now from biting the bullet and joining this competition.

German cast-on. Super-stretchy bind-offs. Zippers. Different cuff treatments. Buttons. Steeks. Fair-isle. Mosaic Knitting. They definitely know how to throw things at you for Sock Madness. If you join the group, you can see lists of the patterns from previous competitions and try them on your own.

My finished pair from the 2017 Sock Madness Qualifying Round. I’ve officially gotten the email, and I’m moving on to the next round.

The rules are pretty strict so that people cannot cheat in the competition. As long as you follow the competition rules and finish quickly, you definitely will go far in this competition. The farthest I’ve made it is Round 7, and that was an accomplishment in and of itself. The only reason I was slow that year was because of the birth of Sharky and some health issues that led to temporary paralysis of my left thumb and index finger (talk about a rough couple of weeks).

If you need a cheerleader, I’m happy to be there for you, because sock knitting is so incredibly addicting. That is, if you don’t catch a case of Second Sock Syndrome (the unfortunate reason only single socks get made, sometimes you finish one and aren’t feeling the desire to make the second one).

OMG Yarn Projects and Designs: Go Big or Go Home

February 14, 2017

Announcement: My Etsy shop is up and running! All my pink/rose colored hand dyed yarn is posted. Click here to browse and buy!

A Passion for Fiber Arts, Fashion, and Life

My mother quilted this mug rug for me and gave it to me for Valentine’s Day. She’s who keeps me motivated, gives me my pep talks, and taught me how to be a superhero and crafter. Yup, I even sew!

When I was in my twenties, I lived like I was the midwestern Carrie Bradshaw. I had a cute little apartment in Bayside, WI, wore my loud suits and coats, and kept a budget for piles fabulous shoes. As a mom, I’ve toned it down, but I still like to wear big cowls, sweaters, scarves, and functional hats to accessorize my new wardrobe of yoga pants and t-shirts. I dream of big chunky knit blankets, designing outrageous knitwear for celebrities, and living the life straight out of a shabby chic themed Pinterest Board.

 

I think I lost some of that in the hustle to make the yarn shop work for single motherhood (though I’m not single anymore). If the last couple years have taught me anything, it is not to apologize for who I am as a person. I am an artist; yarn is my medium.

 

OMG Yarn is supposed to be about putting myself into my work. Everything I knit, crochet, spin, design should leave me breathless and you saying “OMG” (hence, the name, right?).

 

How Pink Hats Led to OMG Yarn’s Revival

People who know me can tell you that I like to do things in a big way. I can’t just make a hat, I have to make 50 of them. Just ask Beth at The Big String. She and I spent a few weeks in pink

Pile of cat hats in various colors going off to a friend. Sizes from baby to Adult. Even a child/toddler version is in there too!

hat overload for the Women’s March on Washington. I have my own personal reasons for being dedicated to making hats for others who don’t knit or crochet. I think that we as women should build each other up and support each other, no matter what the struggle. The last count of hats sold between the two of us was over 100, not including our own family and friends who put in orders as well.

 

Why bring up this divisive topic? As I sat making hat after hat, the gears in my head started turning. This was what I wanted to do. Projects I could invest my soul in. Beth and I kept designing and re-designing these hats to make them quick and easy to churn out for the orders coming in. It led to designing a Groundhog Day hat for my parents’ Bed and Breakfast, because the pink hat design naturally makes cute little animal ears. From there, because my mom asked, I designed matching fingerless mitts. Then, I wanted different colors for hats and scarves. And the designs kept coming.

 

What’s next?

I’m a superhero, a mom, a fiber artist, and now a blogger. The goal is to basically live the fiber artist life in a big way. OMG Yarn will:

  • Keep the designs coming: All the accessories and clothing items I love to wear in the style I love. I prefer bohemian, shabby chic, somewhat modern, Soho, style with neutral tones highlighted with pops of color. The colors I like to add should be striking.
  • Keep the YARN coming: I am dedicated to all things fiber arts. So yes, I’ll still be dyeing yarn in limited quantities and listing them for sale on Etsy. I also have yarn from the shop that needs to go too, it’s taking up my entire craft studio right now.

    Sharky’s Rainbow Blanket is the first “Go Big or Go Home” project in the works. It features planned color pooling, so keep an eye out for some tips and tricks on how to do it.

  • “Go big or Go Home” projects: I keep saying that, right? Well, it either means that these projects are going to be simple but larger-scale, bring great joy to me, or something that I personally would want to wear and never take off. If I’m going to make something using planned color-pooling, it’s going to be larger than life. These may feature OMG hand dyed yarn, they may not.
  • Teach some knit and crochet techniques we all could use: Obviously, I want to keep some of the finer aspects of yarn shop life and teach people how to do basic, intermediate, and advanced fiber arts techniques that can be used in every day projects. I will be designing accessories and things you can wear, but learn something in the process. Again, if I’m working on a planned color-pooling project, you’d like to know how to do that and be successful at that first, right? (Hint: There’s going to be some planned pooling coming up in the near future)
  • Mom Life and Behind the scenes: I always love to share some behind the scenes action. In other words, how I make the work from home life happen for my family. Time management is a big one, obviously, but other little life hacks.
  • Other services: I’m also working on ways that I can help other fiber artists and entrepreneurs run successful businesses as well. I’ll soon be offering personal services like technical editing and business development (marketing, social media help, business and marketing plans, etc). I have a lot of knowledge and experience to offer, and I’m not selfish. I like to see others succeed.

Eventually, I hope to monetize the blog here as well, but that won’t happen until later.