An Artist’s Insecurity..

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I am an artist, loving and honing my craft. And I was given an amazing gift at Christmas and last night. I am covered with goosebumps right now ~ and that is a very good thing.

My brother-in-law has shared his love of music with me over the years and has introduced me to some amazing artists and music that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. And along with his gift of music, I received an added gift. He gave me the CD The New Basement Tapes , which the music itself is incredible, but the backstory is even more so. As luck (or Serendipity) would have it, the Showtime special documenting this collaboration was on last night. That and what I took away from it was my added gift.

It was very interesting to me to see how these amazing artists working in the same craft, came to the collaboration with such diverse ways of creating. Some of them came with several songs already written. Some of them came with maybe only one. Some of them worked better within the group and others, Marcus Mumford in particular, worked better on his own, perfecting the song before he would share it with the group. This is where the words insecurity and fear come in to play. I love this quote from Marcus and his words really made me think. “I think it’s really good to have the fear, the fear of failure and the fear of not being able to do your job properly. In this career I think it’s good to be close to the edge all the time. I think it keeps you somewhat fresh and hungry. I think when people stop getting hungry, especially with songs, then they start writing shit songs, you know.” He also said “there are some insecurities that may never go away and I guess your question is whether, as an artist, you need to have insecurity, I don’t know. Maybe.” And something Rhiannon Giddens said struck me “I fully admit that I bring a lot of my own baggage, but I can contribute. It’s amazing what the difference in having somebody believe in you – will do.”

That made me look at my own insecurities and fears. And made me appreciate them. It made me realize there is a place for both of those things in an artist’s process. I know I am a great knitter and I know that I am growing and becoming a better designer/engineer. The fear and insecurity keeps me reaching for more. They keep me searching for better techniques and cause me to rip out a neck edge three times until I get it just right.

Being paid as an artist is an interesting thing. It is amazing and I am still in awe of the fact that I get paid by Shibui Knits to do what I love. But it is a job and I have strict deadlines and strict guidelines that I work by. There is so much more to this knitwear designing than I ever imagined and I love every aspect of it. We as a team are creating approximately 20 pieces a year – a Spring/Summer collection and a Fall/Winter one. We have multiple yarns that need to be represented. Each piece has a multitude of deadlines that have to be met, from design concept and approval, to knitting it and writing the pattern, through photography and pattern design and layout. I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty details, but you get the idea.

I get nervous every time I submit a design idea for approval to the team. I get even more nervous when I submit a finished piece to the team. But I now appreciate those nerves and my fear, because they cause me to strive to create the best design with the best techniques possible that will represent Shibui Knits in the best way possible. We adhere to a very specific aesthetic. We strive to produce pieces you will not only enjoy knitting but will want to wear for years to come. We also strive to provide you with the best fibers and yarns available.

And when we nail it, I get goosebumps, and that is a very good thing.

Happy Knitting!
Shellie

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On The Needles…

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I am enjoying a really nice, quiet weekend, filled with lots of knitting, cooking, some cleaning, some writing, some bird watching. I’m loving every minute of it.
This is what’s on the needles this weekend: #’s 3, 4 and 5 of the Shibui Knits FW15 Collection, a swatch for one of the next pieces and a piece for me.

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Like my self-made Shibui bags? :-)
As one of my co-workers at Shibui pointed out this week, I will be creating 20 garments in a 12 month period. Holy cow!! You wonder why I always have yarn and needles in hand?!?! I love every single stitch!

I’m trying to keep one piece going for me personally at the same time and this lovely yarn will be adorned by me in the not-too-distant future. Shibui Maai and Staccato in colorway Velvet. Love this combination of yarn. It’s my new fave. The lofty, airy, extremely soft texture of the Maai blends beautifully with the silky sheen of the Staccato. This combination creates a really interesting fabric with great stitch definition and depth.

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And as for the cooking, I’m going to make this beautiful Fall soup.

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Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

And my hummingbirds are back at the feeder. Love these little guys.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend as much as I am.
Happy knitting! (and cooking, and writing, and bird watching and whatever else might make your heart sing!)
Shellie

Maai Is Here!!

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The wait is over. Maai yarn is here and available for you to enjoy. And enjoy you will. I am in love with this yarn.

As described on the Shibui Knits website:
Maai ~ [mah-ah-ee] n. Japanese for interval, break or pause.
Maai is an entirely luxurious blend of 70% superbaby alpaca and 30% merino in a springy chainette construction. The plush intervals of chain bloom to create light, cushiony knits with incredible softness – perfect for next-to-skin garments and accessories. Maai’s elegant fibers, smart construction and remarkable bloom lend this DK weight yarn to a range of needle sizes. Create defined stitches with a soft hand, lush cables, and sumptuous stockinette.

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Along with the release of the yarn, we released the Solo M.1 pattern. It is offered in two sizes, using either 3 or 4 skeins of Maai and is free with purchase of yarn or can be purchased online through Ravelry

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It’s a really fun knit with an interesting yet easy to follow and remember pattern, using slipped stitches, garter stitch and I-cord edgings. I’m actually making one for myself right now and it’s my throw-in-my-bag-take-with-me project for those times when I can get a little extra knitting done while I’m waiting for something.

I also just finished a new sweater design using Maai held with Pebble. OMG! Yum, yum, yum! I’m going to have to make one of these for myself also. I can’t give you any details and you’ll have to wait until the FW15 collection release, but you’re going to love this combination. Here’s an idea of what the combination looks like. Both yarns are in the color Tar.

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Maai is absolutely divine by itself, held double or mixed with many of the other beautiful yarns Shibui offers. I’m really excited to be working with this new addition to the Shibui family. I know you will be as well. So head over to your favorite LYS, pick up the free pattern and start falling in love with Maai!!

Be sure to post your projects on Twitter, Instagram or our Facebook page. We love seeing what you’re creating!

Happy Knitting!
Shellie

Exciting New Things…

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Some pretty exciting things have been transpiring in my knitting/designing life lately. I apologize for not being more consistent in my writing. I am making it a priority to keep the blog updated more regularly.

I am currently working 3 days a week for Shibui Knits on the design team, designing, engineering, writing patterns, knitting samples, etc. Can you say “dream come true”??? I love everything about it and especially the amazing, creative people I work with. What a team!

Since a lot of what I am currently working on won’t be released for several months, (I’m currently working on designs for Spring/Summer 2015) I can’t give you a lot of detail on current creations, but there are a lot of other things I CAN share.

There are new yarns and new exciting patterns coming out soon and I will elaborate more on them in the near future. If you’re able to make it to TNNA in early May, be sure to stop by the Shibui Knits booth. Our new yarn will knock your socks off!

In the process of creating new designs, I’m also honing my knitting skills and learning new techniques. My plan is to share these discoveries with you as they occur. One of the many things I love about knitting is I will never know every technique. I want to learn more about English Tailored shoulders, so I just started knitting Cocoknits’ Lulu sweater, using Shibui Knits yarn of course. I’ll go in to more detail in a future post, when I’m further along.

I guess I just wanted to give you a quick update and let you know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been a bit busy living my dream. I was able to spend a very restful week in Maui in March to celebrate my 50th birthday. I’ll leave you with a glimpse of my time there.

Happy knitting to you and I’ll be back soon!!
Shellie

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Living My Dream

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Knitting for me is like breathing. It’s something I have to do everyday. No exceptions.

When I embarked on this journey of mine a few short years ago, I had no idea, not in my wildest dreams I would be where I am today. I had no idea I would actually be doing on a daily basis, what I am so passionate about, and that I would be getting paid to do it. For me that is the icing on the cake.

When I started this journey, when I had a glimmer of an idea to become a designer, another little glimmer shot through me. That glimmer, that little idea was “wouldn’t it be cool to work for a really awesome yarn company and design for them?” I guess I just put that idea out there and let it go for a while. I mean, really? What are the chances of that happening? Most of the yarn companies I was aware of at the time weren’t anywhere near me geographically. It just didn’t seem like a possibility to me.

Well, as my Mom has always told me “never say never”. I know Mom, I DID become a bookkeeper :-)

As it turns out, THE COOLEST YARN COMPANY is right in my backyard, so to speak.

It all started while hanging out at my favorite LYS – Knit Purl – (check out their beautiful new website. It rocks!) They needed some bookkeeping help, so I started “filling in”. Well, about a year and a half later, I’ve handed over the bookkeeping duties and am now working three days a week with the design team for Shibui Knits. If you weren’t aware, Knit Purl and Shibui Knits are sister companies.

That’s right. I get paid to knit, design, engineer, sketch, swatch, calculate, collaborate, rip out and swatch again, dream, turn those dreams into reality, write patterns, and knit and knit and knit. I get to knit and create with the best yarn on the planet. I also get to work with some of the most creative and genuinely caring people I have ever had the honor to know. I feel like I have come home. And it’s true when they say “Home is where the heart is.”

I am truly living my dream. I am one of the extremely blessed people that realized my passion in life and was able to find a way to enjoy it every day.

Dare to dream. Have the courage. Take a leap of faith. It doesn’t cost you anything. It may not seem remotely possible at the time, but you never know. If you truly love something, spend time with it. Nurture it. Encourage the dream to grow. You might just surprise yourself and one day find yourself living smack dab in the middle of that dream.

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As always,
Happy Knitting!
Shellie

Pebble ~ Pure Luxury

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Shibui Knits launched their new line of yarn this week and it is pure luxury. It is currently my favorite yarn. With a 48% silk, 36% wool and 16% cashmere content, it is a dream to knit with. It’s a beautiful lace weight yarn that knits up like a dream single, or when used double, has great body. I was fortunate to be able to design a couple pieces for the launch. The Cliff Sweater was done using a single strand, and the matching hat was done using two strands held together.

Cliff Sweater:

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You can see in these gorgeous photos the bloom, or softness of this yarn. Please don’t let the light weight of this yarn intimidate you. I know a lot of knitters shy away from lace weight. This yarn is pure bliss to knit with and you will literally want to sleep in any garment you knit with it. It’s so soft and light and drapes beautifully against your skin.

Cliff Hat , a free pattern on Ravelry.

There are three other super cool patterns released with the launch.

Peak Hat and Peak Scarf designed by Susan Lawrence, and Ridge, designed by Lidia Tsymbal.

As always, I have several projects on the needles right now, and funny thing, they are all being knit with Shibui Knits yarns. I started a Pebble color block, short sleeve crew neck sweater last night. I think this is going to be one of my favorite little sweaters to wear. May have to make it in a couple different color combinations.

Do yourself a huge favor and get your hands on some Pebble. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!!

Shellie

Mixin’ It Up

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Since I started designing, I haven’t knitted many pieces designed by other designers. However, I saw a sample of Julie Weisenberger’s (of Cocoknits fame) Lindsay coat while taking a finishing class from her. Phenomenal class, by the way. I instantly knew I was going to have to make one (or two) for myself. The pattern was recently released and I have started mine. The original version was knit in Habu Textiles Shosenshi, Tsumugi Silk and Fine Kid Mohair held together. The version I saw was done in Shibui Knits Merino Alpaca and Silk Cloud, I believe. I decided my version would be done out of Shibui Knits Cima, 70% Superbaby Alpaca and 30% Fine Merino Wool, Silk Cloud, 60% Kid Mohair and 40% Silk, and Staccato, 70% Superwash Merino and 30% Silk. I’ve chosen Abyss (Cima) and the new gorgeous color Tar (Silk Cloud and Staccato). The second one (yes, I’m planning the second one :-) will be done in Ivory and Ash.

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I have one sleeve done and about half of the second one.

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I love the stitch pattern. It’s an 8 row slip stitch pattern which is really easy but fun and keeps your interest. The ribbing and edgings are done in seed stitch.

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The combination of these three yarns held together is pure buttery softness. I will be spending a lot of time in these coats. I’ll post finished project photos later.

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And so my obsession with Shibui Knits continues.
My other new favorite yarn, Pebble, will be released mid September, along with a couple of my latest designs. I’ll share that with you when I can.
Happy Knitting!

Shellie