Goals! :-o

People who’ve known me a long time know these things: I have a problem saying “no.”

My eyes are too big for my stomach.

I take on more than I can handle.

I’m still working on this, but still…I’m reminded of this occasionally.

August is one of those times.

A while back I joined a group that helps me set goals and keep them in terms of taking LSSLuscious Knits to the next level. It’s a great source of information, resources, and feedback. There’s also a lot of advice on how to make my business better. Of course, I joined this group in order to take that advice and use it – and it’s been working for me!

Then, I signed up for a five-week course on how to improve my writing for my business, (which I plan to use for my new and improved website, which is going live on September 1st). This course not only requires writing, but it requires thought-process, brainstorming, time in which I need to focus, as well as getting feedback.

Oh did I mention that I’m driving my daughter downstate to college in a few days? (See last week’s blog post).

And…I had my first outdoor show (one of my goals). That happened yesterday – the Sheridan Park Arts Festival in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. I went, I sold, and it was literally the most gorgeous day – EVER.

A scene from the Sunnyside Mall, location of the Sheridan Park Arts Fest held on August 12th, 2017.

I also joined an accountability group (two, actually) to help me stay on top of my health goals. I started running in July. Still doing both of these things, although I’m dealing with an annoying cramp in my right calf.

Then of course, there’s the new website. Last week I promised all of you a FREE knitting pattern when you sign up for my weekly newsletter – this is still happening, don’t worry! Just read on!

The thing is, I had planned to do an amazing, beautiful landing page for my new website, so when you all arrived there – you would see it, be awed by the powerful writing, and then, of course, sign up for the newsletter. Well…because the pattern itself (my free gift to you) took longer than expected, I didn’t get the time I needed to create that perfect landing page.

In the end, I just said,

You know what? I promised you a pattern, and that’s what I’m going to give you.

So in exchange for a gorgeous landing page, I’m giving you what I promised.

By the way, did you know that LSS Luscious Knits is a one-woman operation? And this is not my only job. I actually have a part-time office job at a caregiving agency!

The big kicker was that I had to have a biopsy last Wednesday. I won’t find out the results until this Wednesday. The waiting game for something like this sucks, people. It’s not right. Luckily, I’m very blessed, with a lot of really wonderful friends and family around me, who are praying and passing along the good vibes, that all will be well.

And in my heart, I have a strong feeling that yes, everything will be all right.

But at some point, you just have to admit that you’re doing the best you can.

And some of those goals just have to wait.

Prioritize it. Do the most important thing first. Get *something* out there (like that free pattern eh?!), and just go down the list. But remember to take care of yourself, because those tasks will still be there when you’re done. And you’ll do a better job when you’re feeling rested and ready to work.

So I invite you to visit this place – a home that’s still in progress (like life).

Sign up for my weekly newsletter, where you’ll get previews of my upcoming blog posts, information for where I’ll be selling live, other free patterns, how-tos, coupons, and specials. In thanks for doing this, you’ll get a free knitting pattern in your mailbox.

A word about the pattern: I had originally called it something else, but because I received the much-needed help of a dear, dear friend – at almost no notice at all, I changed the name of the pattern, and I think it’s much better.

Because, at the end of the day, you just want to thank your friends, your family–any loved one–for just being there for you when you needed them. That’s the stuff that makes life so amazing. That’s what LSS Luscious Knits is all about. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit http://www.lsslusciousknits.com today – sign up and get a free knitting pattern!

Ten Rules for New Knitters

Good afternoon everyone! It’s almost August, and since fall is near, I thought I’d write a whimsical list for all the new knitters out there. It’s getting close to gift-giving season, and if you have the itch to learn how to knit, I want to give you some good advice, just as I was given when I started (but some of it I didn’t follow very closely, and I should have).

Currently, I’m getting ready for a show in August, but I’m also revamping my website. I will soon have my own domain name, as well as a weekly newsletter so you can get all sorts of good information about the shop, what I’m doing, where I’m selling, as well as fun things like free knitting patterns, ice dye how-tos, and shopping coupons and specials! Next Sunday, I’ll be able to give you more specific information about the new site.

It’s a very exciting time for me and I want to share all that good stuff with you too! Follow me so you don’t miss a thing!

In the meantime, enjoy my top ten rules for new knitters. You’ll notice that there are a lot of “always” and “nevers” throughout this post – but it’s all sound advice. Read on…

1. Try a new project.
If your first project was a scarf, don’t knit another scarf. Pick something a little more challenging. My knitting mentor – Marcy –who taught me how to knit, told me this and she was right. If you knit another scarf, that’s all you’ll end up knitting! Try a hat. Then try a pair of mittens. Then try a pair of socks. Then try a sweater. Then try stranded work. Then try lace. Keep upping the ante with each project. You’ll learn new skills along the way, and you’ll become a very accomplished knitter in no time!

2. Do whatever style you like.
Some people think you HAVE to knit using the English method. Some people prefer the Continental style. Some prefer the knitting loom. Some prefer the machine. A famous knitting pioneer, Elizabeth Zimmerman, said she hated doing the purl stitch. So she knitted a vast number of garments in garter stitch just to avoid purling! She was a wonderful person who had an attitude of “doing what suits you.” And it’s absolutely true. Do what you like! The world isn’t going to go into a panic if you prefer not to put a rib stitch at the bottom of your sweater. As long as you’re creating something and it makes you happy, you’re golden. As John Lennon wrote, “Whatever gets you through the night…it’s all right!”

3. Always, ALWAYS swatch!
OK, even I am guilty of this. You don’t want to “waste” your time making a swatch. You just want to get to it. But believe me, you’ll be wasting a lot more time if you make a hat that doesn’t fit or a sweater that is too small. Every pattern designer in the world will tell you, and for good reason: Swatching is serious! It’s the only way you’ll know for sure if your final project will fit you properly.

The Fiber Universe in Peoria, IL

4. Watch your budget
New knitters (me 14 years ago) can get really excited about the millions of different yarns out there. Seriously, you will walk into a luxury yarn boutique and drool over everything. There are so many different fibers; from cotton and hemp to wool, alpaca, silk, yak (!?), even paper and metal! And don’t even get me started on the gorgeous colorways. They’re all very tempting, and most of them are very expensive. Sure you can TRY to discipline yourself to only buy the yarn you need for one project, and not buy any other yarn until you’re ready to start a new project…but that’s not very realistic is it? Most likely, you WILL end up with SABLE* (stash acquired beyond life expectancy). Just try not to go completely broke. Oh…and yarn conventions? You’ll probably go to one. You’ve been warned.

Highlighting different cables in a pattern really helped me keep track of everything.

5. Read your pattern BEFORE you begin.
This is a pretty important step. It’s one thing if you’ve looked at the glossary and understand what k2, p2, yo, psso and k2tog mean, but it will help to understand how your project is constructed…especially if it’s something more complicated like a sweater or a lace shawl. Make sure to read through it and try to get a general visualization of how the garment (or accessory) will come together. If there’s a part of the instructions you don’t understand, you can ask for help first and then move forward. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of getting halfway through the project and realizing you made a mistake. This is particularly crucial when working in cables, lace, or any area that has mirrored increases or decreases, like sleeves and collars.

6. If you see a mistake, don’t try to keep going. Either fix it or start over.
This particular rule can be up for debate. It really depends on what kind of person you are. If you’re more of an organic, “mistakes are beautiful surprises” kind of person, then this rule probably won’t apply to you. However, if you’re quasi-OCD like me, then a mistake is going to plague you so badly, that you won’t be able to complete the work without hating every minute of it. And if you do complete the project, trust me – you will always see that mistake. It could be a gorgeous Norwegian-style stranded cardigan, but if you messed up on a few stitches, you’ll notice. Your best bet is to back up and fix it before you go too far.

7. Always check the direction of your stitches before you join the round!
This has happened to just about everyone who knits. Please check your stitches before you join in the round. Make sure the stitches are all facing in the same direction, otherwise you will have the unpleasant surprise of a twisted row. And you can’t untwist it unless you unravel it and start over.

8. Feel the yarn before you buy!
Once you’ve been knitting for a while, you’ll know what your favorite yarns are (c’mon, you can’t just have one favorite), and many well-known manufactured yarns are pretty consistent (Cascade, Knit-Picks, Brown Sheep, etc.). But until that time, it’s best to go to the store and touch the yarn first. Especially when it comes to wool, you do NOT want to buy the cheap, scratchy kind. That kind of yarn will make. You. Miserable. Remember there are all kinds of wool out there, and depending on how old the sheep that the wool came from, what kind of sheep it was, and how processed the wool was, will vary greatly in texture and softness. My friend Marcy (whom I mentioned earlier) told me that if you rub the yarn against your neck and your cheeks and it feels good, you’ve got a winner.

9. Make YouTube your new friend
If you’re ever completely stumped on how to do a certain technique, and it’s 2 am and you can’t sleep and you just want to knit in front of the tv, there are literally thousands of tutorial and tech-help videos on YouTube. Some are long, some are short, all are good. One of these videos will have the answer to your question. And if not, then it’s too late and you need to go to bed and wait until morning to ask your knitting guru friend.

10. Never, ever, ever knit a sweater for your boyfriend.
I’ve been told that it’s a mistake to do this. Even though you love your boyfriend so much and you want to make him something special. So you spent months knitting, undoing, knitting again, seaming, toiling away your nights, using the most luxurious (and expensive) alpaca-wool blend that came from Peru. And your boyfriend never wears the damn thing. This is the beginning of the end of your relationship. You’ll never forgive him for not appreciating all the hard work you put into this labor of love. Save yourself the headache and make him a watch cap, since that’s all he really wants.

Me with some of my knitting bitches!!

11. Bonus Rule: Don’t Knit On An Island.
I included this rule because again, this may not apply to everyone, but sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone can yield amazing results. There are SO MANY knitting communities out there, both online and in person. My guess is that every town in every state in every country of the world has at least two people (men or women) who love to knit. Get out of your living room and join them at the coffee house, or library where they meet. Or if you don’t want to leave your living room, invite them over. I’ve done it! Knitters are not dangerous people. Oftentimes knitting boutiques have knitting groups that meet weekly. They’re very informal, and every one of these groups has knitters who are willing to help. Every knitter has a different skill set, and you can learn so much from each one. You might have something to teach as well! Knitting groups are great places to have conversations, and you never know—you might end up meeting your future best friend!

Now you are armed with knowledge! Next week I’m going to offer a free hat pattern for you to create for yourself, or a loved one! Have a good week!

* The term, “SABLE” was coined by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, who has written many books, spoke at many engagements, appeared at many conventions and written many a blog post on the subject.

Meeting My Customers

You know that feeling you get when you’re nearing the end of a season? Some people feel trepidation, like when school is about to start, and all the busy months are practically on the doorstep. Maybe some people get irritated because they don’t like summer.

Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like summer. Bad example.

A lot of people get a quiet thrill from the change of season.

Maybe they’re excited about learning new things at school…
or entering football season…
or anxiously waiting for their favorite TV series to return (mine is the Walking Dead)…
or thinking about shopping for the holidays!

I’m feeling a few jitters, but mostly excitement and motivation! Starting in August, I’ll be participating in at least one market each month through December. It’s a lot of hard work ahead, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a step in my journey to build on LSSLuscious Knits. Just making my way towards realizing that life-long dream of making a living as an artist.

One of the greatest things about doing markets and fairs is that I get to meet my customers in person. It’s wonderful to correspond with them online, but seeing them live is a very different animal! I learn a lot more about them; where they’re from, what they do, whether or not they have pets or kids. They’re all interesting and have a unique story to tell.

Last year, a nice lady bought a whole bunch of mittens from me. She wanted to give them as gifts to a number of relatives who were visiting Illinois at the coldest part of the winter…and they were from California.

I used to do maybe 1 or 2 shows per year, always in the winter. This year, I promised myself I would step it up. I wanted to do shows that spanned more seasons of the year, and take myself out of my comfort zone. Selling in person is hard. It’s difficult for me to talk to strangers, but when I’m in a market, that’s exactly what I have to do.

The good thing is, I know my stuff. So it’s easy to talk about it with just about anyone! And…even though I may be a little nervous about “putting myself out there,” I basically love people. I think most people are pretty cool.

One of the things I like the most about my customers is that they always encourage me to “go with it.” They give me a very simple guide…like a color or two that they love, and then they tell me to just take it from there.

I love the artistic freedom customers give me.

This tells me that they trust me, and I cherish that, truly. It’s hard-earned and can be easily lost. Trust is one thing I’ll never take lightly.

It also tells me that my customers have a deep appreciation for all things handmade. They enjoy original art and the often-unplanned happenings that go into the process.

They’ve have had good experiences with my work in the past, or they enjoy the work they see so much, that they’re interested in what I can do for them specifically.

To me, this is an amazing thing: having people from all over the country, requesting something as personal as a handknit pair of mittens – completely my own design, or an ice-dyed t-shirt, with no real knowledge of what the outcome will be.

If you’ve ever commissioned anything from me–thank you. I’m honored that you chose me to make something for you! If you haven’t, I hope you’ll have a chance to visit one of the markets where I’ll be selling. I’d love to meet you!

Have a good week!

18 in 1987 vs 18 in 2017

Last week, my daughter turned 18 years old.

 

Some of the things my daughter understands at 18, as opposed to things I understood at the age of 18:

  • She is painfully aware of the internet and its permanence. For this reason, she posts cautiously, carefully and thoughtfully. She always considers the consequences tomorrow for the things she posts today. When I was 18, I did what I wanted, said what I wanted, wrote what I wanted, without any thought for the future. I wish I had that discretion, as many photos and diaries remind me (cringe…).
  • She knows when a boy is texting her and another girl at the same time. When I was 18, there were no cell phones, no texting. I don’t think we even had call waiting on our landline. I was so clueless that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if someone was talking to me and anyone else at the same time. Ever.
  • She understands the importance of regular exercise and working out. I, on the other hand, didn’t even have exercise on my radar.
  • She loves music. She loses herself in music, and it brings her solace and peace, yet it also makes her feel energized and inspired. I can definitely relate. When I was in high school, music pretty much saved my life.
  • She knows when she’s having an attack of anxiety, and she knows what to do when it happens. She recognizes when she’s been feeling down for a while, and knows that she can talk to me about it. Or someone else. When I was 18, I had those same feelings but didn’t have a name for them. It was impossible for me to get out of the moment and look at the big picture, to realize what was going on. I didn’t talk to anyone when I was going through these times.

When I was 18, I looked at any kind of mental illness as something to be…shunned. I felt sorry for anyone who suffered from it, but deep inside I also considered it a sign of weakness. Something shameful. I never thought that mental illness might be something that existed in my immediate family. Somehow, I was led to believe that if something was bothering me, I should either exercise, get busy, and basically snap out of it.

It took many, many years of education, therapy and eventually, a small dose of Wellbutrin, for me to realize that there is no shame in anything like depression. It’s not a sign of weakness. In my case, it was clear that a good diet, a walk in the woods, and telling myself to be happy wasn’t working. And it turned out, to my surprise, a whole lot of other people I cared about and admired suffered from some type of mental illness, in a wide variety of degrees.

What did happen after I started accepting and treating depression was that I was able to think a little more clearly…

Over time, I was able to get out of my head a little more and see the bigger picture. I was able to look at things not only from my own point of view but through other people’s eyes. And if I couldn’t see it through their eyes, I could at least understand that what others went through was real, and valid, and a struggle in which they were all too aware. My relationships with friends and family improved, I was able to build a strong community of friends through work, church and even hobbies…life just improved all around.

My husband walked with me through all of this. I shared these experiences with my parents and they eventually understood. More importantly, I shared this with my kids. Not only are they aware of the necessity of resources for mental health, but they know those in their own peer groups who need these resources too. I know we as a society still have a long way to go to remove the stigma of mental illness.

Mental illness…even now, those two words still evoke a list of negative images and connotations, but at least we’re talking about it.

We all know that it exists and it’s almost ubiquitous in all of us. We also know that help is out there, and it’s available to us. My daughter knows this, and her college knows it because they offer many resources to their students.

Everyone suffers from time to time. Everyone will suffer again at some point, for any number of reasons. But I am so thankful that some things have changed since I was 18.

The Versatile Scarf

I spent some time this last week starting a fall collection of knitting accessories, including fingerless mittens. I also spent a few weeks experimenting with different types of cotton fabrics. A new item I’m adding to the repertoire is…the scarf!

Did you know that the scarf started out with a purely functional purpose? It began in Rome and was used as a “sweat cloth” to keep people clean. Back then they called it a “sudarium”. Over the years, its purpose evolved to that of an identifier – whether it was a military rank or a university affiliation. It wasn’t really until the early 1800s that the scarf became a fashion accessory. Good thing too, because a sweat cloth sounds boring.

The scarf itself, really nothing more than a flat piece of fabric, can be reinvented in a multitude of ways. It can be made of any fabric, any texture, color or pattern, and provide the wearer with a distinct and individual look.

I started with traditional rectangular shapes, and then progressed to larger sizes. After my cotton research a while back, I chose cotton voile as my fabric. This thin, airy cotton is great for absorbing dyes. The results are just beautiful.

I’ve been researching different sizes, and how they can be folded in different ways to serve different purposes. For example, those $2000 Hermes silk scarves which are about 55″ square can be tied as wraps, head scarves, vests, bags, and a wide variety of different tops. Whoever thought of these different ways to fold a scarf was a genius.

Today the scarf is completely adaptable to all purposes.

As a necessity, no one can argue that a nice handknit alpaca scarf will be as soft as butter, and keep you cozy warm as if you’re sitting by the fire. As an accessory, a scarf can very simply tie a whole outfit together.

It’s versatile because depending on the size and shape of the scarf, it
can be folded into literally dozens and dozens of ways. There are tons of websites out there that show you all the ways to tie a scarf. One of my favorites is Hermes Scarf Knotting Cards…check it out!

If you wish to have a lovely, handmade ice-dyed scarf – completely original and one of a kind, and you wish to spend less than a grand on it, visit LSS Luscious Knits . Custom orders accepted.

Our House, Our Home

When I was young, I always imagined living in a Victorian home, with gloriously decorated rooms, matching curtains, Tiffany lighting fixtures, beautiful table settings…wood trim, wood floors, wood staircase.

Yeah…that didn’t happen. The reality is I live in a typical Chicago-style bungalow, with carpeted floors, and a whole lot of clutter.

My husband likes collecting things. He’s not a hoarder but he does have a lot of stuff (all which has been useful at the appropriate time). I told him from the beginning that all of his “collections” must reside in the basement. Even so, I look at my house and see shelves of books, CDs (who even listens to CDs anymore?), knickknacks, picture frames…and piles of paper in various places (the piles of paper are mostly my fault). It’s clutter.

I feel like that’s one subject in our marriage where we never fully met eye to eye. I always admired minimalism. Simplicity. But truthfully, minimalism and simplicity aren’t realistic in my life. It’s not possible. Yet I still aspire to cleanliness and tidiness, with everything in its place.

But I also love color and life – like house plants and paintings and soft places to sit.

My husband loves the look of a place that’s lived in…a place that invites people to come in and make themselves at home. A place that’s not intimidating, a place where it’s okay to wear your shoes or go barefoot – it doesn’t matter!

I think a major reason why my house is what it is…is because we had children. One year we bought the house, the next year, we had a child. We didn’t have time to focus on making the house our perfect little home that you’d see in Modern Architecture or Better Homes magazines. We had too many other things to think about, like changing diapers, doing dishes, working, paying bills, the list goes on.

Many have told me that when you live in a house, it’s a work in progress and there’s no need to rush the improvements. So we’re not rushing.

I remember one day we went to my brother’s house for a birthday party, or maybe it was a baptism? Anyway, what I remember were the napkins. My sister-in-law set up all the tables (big family – five kids) and each setting had its plate, drinking glass, utensils, and a cute little frayed-edge napkin for each. You could tell she sewed them herself with leftover fabrics, but honestly, it was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen, and it made everything look so…elegant! I never forgot that. I wanted to make some for myself. I remember going home and finding some scrap fabric and sewing my own napkins (before I properly learned how to use the sewing machine). They’re uneven, not seamed, and they’re all weird sizes but they did the job for a while.

Fast forward five years or so (who even knows?)…

My outdoor walks (and various world events) caused me to become a more environmentally-conscious individual. I looked for easy ways to be more environmentally friendly in my home. Those napkins came to mind. Obviously, I needed no convincing of how classy they looked. They instantly made my table look better. They’re charming, you know? They work for any setting whether formal or casual. This is one thing I could do to up the ante in my cluttered, lived-in house, and accomplish an eco-friendly goal.

Then, I realized how sustainable cloth napkins are. I mean, they last forever – practically. My plan for my first set of hand-dyed napkins was to sell them at a craft show. But my husband stopped me, “Those are awesome, I want to keep them for us!” A couple of years later, and we’re still using them. We use them every day, for every meal.

I must confess the feeling of no longer needing to buy paper napkins is such a rush. Paper napkins last…maybe two meals, if you’re lucky. I was glad to strike that off my grocery list.

Cloth napkins…such a small, tiny part of our lifestyle. But every time I set the table for dinner, I put out my ice-dyed napkins, and they make me smile. They’re colorful and beautiful.

I know our house will take a lot more work before it becomes our dream house, but it is our home – it is the picture of us, our lives, our love. It’s where we live and where we want to be – it’s part of our life journey.

You can find these and other delightful table linens in my shop. Click on the photo to browse and purchase!

How to Care For Cloth Napkins

• Because cloth napkins are really absorbent, (cotton napkins are made of cellulose fiber, which means more fiber per square (than paper) inch to pick up water or other liquids), they don’t get dirtied after just one use (barring the occasional spilled milk or messy bbq entree). I wash them with the rest of my laundry once per week.

• Always wash them in cold water. You can throw them in the dryer, or line-dry them in the warmer months to save further on energy costs! There’s nothing like the fresh scent of outdoor-line-dried linens!

• Want to take your eco-friendly ways outside the home? Take a cloth napkin to work with you on your lunch break, or anytime you go to a restaurant!

When Life Moves Too Fast

The other day I think I had what could be called an anxiety attack.

On second thought, rather than an attack, it was more like a wave. Something that had been slowly growing over a few weeks, and finally drowned me like an all-encompassing shroud of doom and gloom. It had me horizontal, on the couch. Just at that moment, when I started falling into the black hole, my husband texted me …

“How’s it going?”
“Okay. I’m a little anxious.”
“Ya? About the party?”
“A lot of things.”

There was a point in my life, maybe it was last summer, where I was in a groove. I exercised every day. I spent a lot of time outdoors, breathing fresh air, taking pictures, inhaling all the natural beauty around me, loving it all, thankful and content. I was able to wake up really early and drive out to a forest preserve, or just walk around the neighborhood while everyone else was still asleep. That hasn’t happened for a while. There’s been no time at all.

I guess it culminated this month – June…typically the time when all the big school events happen, like the choir concert, or the dance concert, finals, etc. Just getting through work, through church meetings, or volunteer commitments, while helping the kids stay above water during those last weeks without totally losing their minds.

This June was a bit more exciting though. My son graduated from middle school (8th grade) and my daughter graduated from high school. Grandparents visited. We went to other graduation parties.

And then there was our party.

That was the one thing my daughter hoped we would have –
not a graduation party – but a real, regular Steinhaus party, just like the ones she remembered as a child. Her earliest memories were of us in the back yard, hanging out with our adult friends, barbecuing, laughing. We all were so much younger then, we had energy. We still had a bit of the crazy animal in us.

Things are different now. We haven’t had a party in many, many years. We’re older. Some of us have to take pills to stay healthy. I can’t function without a pair of reading glasses, and I can’t eat dinner past 7 pm or my stomach gets angry. Many of my friends lost their hair, or what hair they had turned gray. I don’t like staying up too late anymore. We’re like…old!

So naturally, I believed I had lost my touch…or something. I thought people would be bored. I thought I would be a “Debbie Downer.” Honestly, it was an irrational fear. I think I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the energy it took to throw a proper party.

Finally, it occurred to me that I don’t have to have “energy,” or whatever it is I think I should have–at this party. I’ll just be myself.

Make a few good things to eat, and make a point of talking to everyone who arrives. Some of the people we invited we haven’t seen in years. Good parties do happen organically. Provide some food, some drink, some good music, friendly people, and it just goes from there.

Everything this month happened so fast. There were only a few days between the big events, and I was doing all I could to just show up – be there, get the pictures, make sure the grandparents weren’t dying in the heat, or getting lost in the throngs of people…remembering to behold that historic moment when our kids walked the stage.

I put the knitting, dyeing, sewing and the exercise on the backburner for a few. Maybe that’s why I started to panic. Those things I do, have become an integral part of who I am. When I can’t do them, I begin to worry that I’m losing myself.

But like everything else, days come and go, events come and go. And then you’re back to your daily life. This week I found the time to knit a hat and sew some scarves. The party was amazing. Everyone was smiling and laughing again.

One night last week, I walked with my son to his diving class, and glanced up at him, and thought, “How on earth did you get so tall?” I think he grew another inch just in the last month. How did he grow up so fast? Also that night, I thought about my daughter, who was babysitting to earn some extra cash for college. She leaves in only six weeks. Everywhere I look in this house, are reminders of her, and that she’ll be leaving. How can this be? How did we get here so fast? What will life in this house be like without her?

I guess it’s safe to say that a lot is going on right now. That’s okay. Life is like that sometimes. I should take to heart what my husband texted after I told him I was anxious about a lot of things:

“Trust.”

Work, Milestones and Dads

Father’s Day weekend is a busy one! In fact, the month of June itself has been a whirlwind of activity. Almost so much it made my head spin!

On June 9th, my son graduated from 8th grade, and he will enter high school in the fall. On the 16th, our family went to the Lyric Opera House to watch our daughter walk the stage to accept her high school diploma. Earlier in the week, I drove her down to Bloomington-Normal to attend a 2-day orientation for college. It’s been a year of many milestones, many ups, and downs – a rollercoaster ride of events, emotions and memories.

Many wonderful things are coming your way!

Taking a moment from cutting, sewing and serging new fabric.

New knitting patterns, new home decor, new garments, and a new website. Keep your eyes open people. Follow me on Instagram (@lsslusciousknits) or visit my Facebook Page (LSSLusciousKnits). I’m also on Pinterest (LSS Lusciousknits) and Twitter (@lilbee68).

Yesterday, I spent most of the day cutting fabric, ice-dyeing new garments, finishing a knit hat, and thinking of new ideas for blog posts. Today will be more of the same. I’m also in the process of revamping my website – so you don’t have to look at silly ads all the time!

Also being Father’s Day, I’m thankful. Thankful for my own dad, who will be 86 years old next week. I’m thankful for my husband, who is also a wonderful dad. I’m thankful for all the dads like him – who love their children unconditionally, make their children laugh, teach them what they know, let them grow at their own pace, attend their rites of passage, wipe their children’s tears, protect them from danger, and know when to let their children go. Happy Fathers Day to all the loving dads out there!

Me and Dad.

Custom Orders, Part II: Handknits

So…is it worthwhile for you to have something custom knit?

Storytime: Once, a client requested an all-wool cable knit sweater. There was a lot that went into this project: Picking colors, picking yarn texture, picking yarn fiber…then there was choosing of the pattern – what style of cable knit sweater did the client want? And of course, there was measuring. Pre-measuring, middle-of-project measuring, and final finishing. All in all, the sweater took about two months to make. Now, how much do you suppose a handmade, custom-fit sweater like this would cost? $1000? Sure, but who would pay that? Still, it would be an expensive sweater, and it was…I charged about $250 because that was the price that I was comfortable with, given the costs, and the time. Is it worth it to you to give your loved one a $250 handmade, custom-fit sweater? Or would you be more comfortable buying a manufactured sweater – albeit a REALLY NICE one for that much money? My client loved my work, and he trusted me, and it was worth it to make the sweater for his wife. It was literally, a gift of love. And she did love it. It fits her like a glove, and she wears it every winter. It’s made of some of the finest, softest wool I’ve ever knitted. I must add, that it’s the most beautiful sweater I ever made.

And although, that’s a good story, still sometimes it’s better to request custom orders that are smaller and more manageable. I knit hats and mittens for clients all the time,  which also requires the choosing of colors, textures, fibers, and overall design – but that’s the fun part – for both the client and myself! In addition, only one measurement is needed for such an item, and that number can be measured by the client and emailed to me.

Hats and mittens don’t take months to make!

However, they do take a little more time than the simplest ice-dying order. If I have the right yarn in stock, most hats take about a week. But again, add in a special order of yarn, then we’re adding on a week. And if we’re talking about a 75″ scarf, or a pair of complicated Scandinavian stranded mittens, a little bit more time is needed. After all, everything I knit is handknit, not machine-made.

There are literally thousands upon thousands of different types of yarns and their colorways, and the prices are that varied as well. What type of yarn you choose, and how much of that yarn is needed for the project – will affect the overall cost. So, to keep you in the loop, we’ll talk about your price range, what fibers and colors you like, and I’ll use my know-how to research luxurious yarn at the price you like. I’ll want to send you visual samples to choose from before we begin.

Just like in ice-dyeing, pricing depends on what’s in stock and the complexity of the project (such as a lace stole as opposed to a simple hat). For example, a client may want to order a handknit hat made out of 100% linen. The hats I’m showing in my shop range somewhere between $25 – $30. However, if you want a linen hat, I’m going to want to make you a hat with linen that’s in line with my high-quality standards (hey we’re talking about my reputation here!). So I’m going to find you GOOD linen, not scratchy, and spun well…but I’m also going to try and keep your final project at a realistic, but reasonable price. Again – communication is key – and I’ll always communicate my findings with you.

Custom orders provide something that is made specifically for YOU!

I guess that’s why custom orders exist. They give you something you cannot get at Target or even a high-end department store! You want something that is made specifically for you – for your body, your skin; something that suits your tastes. In what manufacturing world is someone going to stay in touch with you about colors, sizing, texture, and design throughout the process? If you’re still unsure, look at the reviews – look at testimonials in the shop. If they sound good, then give it a try!

That’s why people take the leap of faith and place that online custom order. And that’s why people like me LOVE to receive them! It’s my opportunity to let my creativity shine, and it’s your opportunity to purchase something made specifically for you –
something that will make YOU FEEL GOOD.

And that good feeling will show when you wear it!