Meditative Rituals: Take the time to feed your creativity

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In my last post, I encouraged you to take the time you need to take care of yourself. I realized, though, that it might be nice to have a little reminder to take with you! That’s why, at the end of this post, you’ll find a FREE download: a list of suggested ideas for self-care, and a permission slip to remind you to make self-care a priority.

You don’t need my permission; you have it within you. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.

You may be thinking, “Sure, Francoise, that sounds great. I’ll just pencil in the time on my calendar for regular self-care. Except, there isn’t any free time on my calendar!”

If that’s how you’re feeling, I can sympathize! We’ve all been there, when it seems like we’re stretched to our limits. So here are a few tips to help you find the time you thought you didn’t have. The goal here isn’t that you fill every minute of every day with something to do, but rather that you open yourself up to the possibility that you CAN take care of yourself and still meet your obligations. That you CAN make time for yourself, even when it seems like you shouldn’t. That you DO deserve to give yourself the time and space to breathe.

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Tips to Find Time for Self-Care:

Start first thing

I don’t know about you, but the more exhausted I get this time of the year, the more likely I am to hit the snooze button on my alarm clock. The end result is that I’m often just lying there in bed, dreading the next round of beeping or music, for about 15 minutes a day. If you’re in a similar situation, try to give yourself those 15 minutes to do something really enjoyable and indulgent, like making a special breakfast or applying a skin-care mask. I bet you’ll look forward to getting up on the first alarm after that.

Get on your feet

Movement is energizing; it helps get the blood - and the creative juices - flowing. If you have a schedule that keeps you seated for most of your day, one simple change can make a big impact: stand up more often. If you work at a desk, get a standing desk or even just set your laptop on a stack of books to help get it to standing height. Or, work for 45 minutes and then stand up and stretch for 5. Take a lap around the office at lunch before you sit down to eat. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Though at first you may have to force yourself (begrudgingly) into this new routine, you’ll soon start to feel the positive effects, which will be all the motivation you need to keep going.

Unplug

We all know that staring at a screen all day is bad for our health, but does that actually cause us to put down the phone, turn off the laptop or TV, or just unplug from technology in general? Probably not! It’s just so tempting to pick up that device when we’re bored. What if, instead, you picked up yarn and needles? You’d have a new pair of socks in no time, and your brain would have been able to use that time to sort through worries and ease away stress. It’s a win-win!


Want some more inspiration? Download this FREE checklist of quick and easy self-care tips, with a bonus permission slip to remind you to schedule them into your routine! 



And don’t forget, the Mystic Issue of the Fibre Muse Quarterly will be live on May 25! Between now and then, you can save $5 on this collection if you click here to pre-order.

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You Don’t Owe Me a Cent: Making a Living in the Fibre Industry

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This blog post was inspired by “The Cost of Knitting Patterns” by Thread and Ladle and Hanna Lisa’s posts on Price Transparency. Definitely take a moment to read through them as they offer unique and valuable perspectives on this topic!

First of all, yes, there are definitely paid-for patterns that have not gone through the proper channels of editing and testing, resulting in a sub-par product. So designers, new and veteran, please take the time to at least get your patterns looked over by another set of eyes. Shoddy products only hurt our industry and the work of designers who do put in the time, effort and money into ensuring that their work is ready for publication. If you’re a new or aspiring designer and you want to make sure your pattern goes through the correct steps, I offer a course on how to create publish-worthy patterns, SWATCH Studio. You can learn more about it [here].

For the purposes of this post onwards, I will be only referring to patterns published via Aroha Knits or the Fibre Muse (basically, my work).

Finding the balance between valuing my work and what the market can bear is a tricky line. And finding the intersection between creating art that I want to make and creating something that my audience will care about is another.

Making a sustainable living in this industry is tough, and even more so when one has a team that helps run the business (but it does result in warm fuzzy feelings when your business gets to help contribute to other small businesses by paying them for their work).

After much discussion and feedback, while I believe that many of us are undervaluing our work, the solution is NOT to raise prices to what the “true value” of a pattern is. Based on your responses and feedback on my social media posts, it seems like the sweet spot for digital patterns if $5-$10, depending on the type of design. I agree with that and feels good to me, so you won’t see my patterns exceed that amount.

So what is the solution? Or a solution?

Well I'm not going to be able to answer that question in this blog post, that's for sure, but based on my (three) years of running a business and brand, here's what I've learned:

I believe that it is solely the responsibility of the designer to communicate to their audience why their pattern matters and how it can benefit them. Sure, it’s nice that I designed a pattern and published it, but why should you care? Why should you choose this pattern over the thousands like this one? The reality is, just because I put in hours and hours of time and effort to make something pretty, still doesn’t mean you owe me a cent.

If anything, it’s me who owes you.

I owe you a well-written, clear, complete and concise pattern, that has been edited and tested beforehand.

I owe you a pattern that provides an enjoyable, engaging and relaxing knitting experience.

I owe you a pattern where all your questions and objections have been anticipated beforehand. How do you do this stitch? Video tutorial is already at your fingertips. I like both written and charted instructions. Already there. I like to measure my progress throughout and make sure I’m on track. You like stitch count tables? Has this been tech edited and tested? I can provide you some numbers.

I owe you a pattern that you give a damn about. How will this pattern help you make an impact in the world?

If you’re going to spend $5-$10 on my pattern, I owe you the best of my work.

It’s only by your support and contribution that Aroha Knits is going into its fourth year. I definitely work hard to make sure my patterns are accessible and communicate their value, but because of YOU I’m able to continue my passion. That's why I pour so much time, energy and money into my pattern production, because you are worth it.

(And for new/aspiring designers, here’s a tip for you! Get your patterns edited and tested. Put out one or two patterns for free so people can get a sampling of your work. And if you want to be extra generous, set up an initiative in your brand to gift your work to those who can’t afford to purchase patterns).
 

[Giveaway] Yarn Love Featurette

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Katie has had an interest in textiles since her childhood:

At the age of 8 my mom taught me to knit and crochet. I absolutely loved it. During my childhood, I was either reading a book or doing some sort of fiber arts…..friendship bracelet making, sewing, knitting, or crocheting were my top favorites.

This strong introduction to Fibre Arts carried over into Katie’s adult life and into the lives of her family, “I taught the girls in my college dorm to crochet, and my first job out of college was teaching sewing classes. Before starting Yarn Love, I actually ran a long-arm quilting business. For me, working with textiles is an essential part of who I am. Now that my own children are growing up, you’ll find various knitting projects and balls of yarn adorning every corner of our house. On the weekends, you’ll find us lined up on the couch in a tangle of various yarns and projects.”

Katie’s drive behind dyeing yarn comes from her desire to bring more color and joy into the lives of her customers, “Life is busy—for me, a beautiful skein of yarn offers the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the joy of everyday moments. A spark of color, a hand crafted sweater, the joy of brushing cashmere across your cheek…these are the moments that come together to craft a creative life.”

Yarn Love, Katie’s hand-dyed yarn business, offers a curated collection of artisan dyed, luxury skeins of yarn, “Each skein is dyed with love and attention to detail. My collection is designed to transform a commodity into an opportunity for delight. It’s my hope that when you unwrap a skein of Yarn Love, the color will sing to your soul and add joy to every stitch.”

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Website: http://www.yarnloveyarn.com
Email: katie@yarnloveyarn.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/yarnloveyarn/

 

GIVEAWAY

Want to win the "Rainbow Top" kit? Entering is easy. First, follow Yarn Love on Instagram. Next, leave a comment with your Rav ID below answering the question "When did you learn to knit?" Giveaway is open until May 18, 2018 at 11:59pm. The winner will be announced along with the release of the Rainbow Top next week!

 

Knitting as a Form of Self-Care

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Taking the time to knit, even when it seems like there isn’t any left

It’s springtime, and for some reason, it seems to be a time of the year when we as a human race decide to compete with one another to see who can be the busiest. Whether you’re getting ready to wrap up a quarter at work, or you’ve got school-related obligations for yourself or your children, or you just feel the pull of spring cleaning and gardening -- it’s a time of craziness and chaos for so many of us.

This is the time when we often put aside our knitting. It’s the first thing to go when the calendar starts to fill, because there just isn’t time for everything. Might as well cut out the “frivolous” hobby of knitting in order to cram in a few more appointments and engagements, right?

Except, then we start to feel differently. Depleted. Deflated. We start to cut corners in other places, too, like eating healthy (who has time to chop all those vegetables?) and exercising (no time for a run, we’re too busy running around!), and nurturing relationships (we can’t find time on ONE calendar, let alone two, to get together).

If you’ve already started to feel the weight of all the hustling and bustling, I’m here to give you a big dose of permission: to pare down. To back off. To say NO.

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To say, “enough is enough!” To take the time to do something that feels selfish, because you know what? You deserve it! You can’t take care of all these other people in your life if you run yourself ragged in the process. You can’t be your best self if you haven’t taken the time to nurture your spirit. You can’t be creative if you haven’t recharged your batteries.

I know you, knitters of the world. I know that you care deeply about other people, and the world around you. I know you’re working hard to transform that world, and to be your best self. Which is why I also know, without a doubt, that you deserve some peace.

I encourage you to take the time for your knitting, now more than ever. Maybe it isn’t convenient, or easy, but it’s so very necessary. Knitting is a way of giving yourself the time to relax, to do something creative, to think through your problems and release them, stitch by stitch. When life starts to fill up your To Do list, take a step back. Add a line for self-care. Give yourself some time, before you give it all away.

You deserve this. You are worth it. You have permission.

What will you knit next?

Need some extra inspiration? The Mystic issue of the Fibre Muse Quarterly releases May 25, and it’s full of patterns, featurettes, and articles to inspire you to take the time for knitting as a form of self-care! Click here to preorder the issue and get $5 off! 

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Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series: Stephen West

Interview with Stephen West

The Yarn Alchemist Spotlight series on the Aroha Knits blog was started up by Ash Christine. She wanted to use the Aroha Knits platform as a way to shine a light on the hidden gems in the community and give them the opportunity to share their story.

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Stephen West Iceland Day 1 (Marled Magic Sweater)

- Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in knitting.

I'm originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I moved to Amsterdam when I was 21 to study choreography at an arts school and I've been based out of Amsterdam since then. I travel the world teaching workshops and presenting my designs at shops and festivals. My friends in high school taught me to knit and I've been knitting non-stop for 13 years.

2 - What type of Fibre Muse are you? ( https://thefibremuse.com/discovery-quiz/ )

Dreamer Fibre Muse (note from Frenchie: I KNEW IT).

3 - How did you decide to jump from knitting other designer’s patterns to designing your own?

I began by modifying patterns and then gradually started designing my own. I tried to learn new skills with each new pattern I knit. Once I became comfortable with constructing shapes and working with different fibers, I couldn't stop designing. Ravelry has been an enormous help by presenting designs in a clear way, connecting it to all the yarns and projects that people upload onto the site. Now, I only knit my own designs, because I have so many ideas for new sweaters and accessories.

4  - What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

I'm obsessed with yarns and color, so most of my designs start with an inspiring color palette. I have dozens of proportions and silhouettes in my head that are always changing, so when I start a new design, I latch onto a shape or texture fascination and just start knitting. Most of my designs are worked on the needle. I improvise and make decisions, while I knit, so I usually have to make a second or third sample of each design to finally write the pattern. Working this way brings many surprises like unusual shapes that I could never imagine from the beginning. I love to improvise and be in the moment while I knit.

5 - How was Stephen and Penelope born?

Stephen & Penelope was started by Malia Joseph in Amsterdam as Penelope Craft. I joined the business a few years ago, and we offer all of my exclusive kits and KAL events and clubs through the shop. We are situated in the heart of Amsterdam at Nieuwe Hoogstraat 29 and specialize in hand dyed yarns from talented artists all over the world, as well as rustic wools for traditional techniques like stranded colorwork. Malia and I represent a broad range of styles, so our shop represents an eclectic mix of colors from subtle and neutral to wild and splashy. We have knit nights each Thursday evening, so if you're planning an Amsterdam trip, make sure to come to knit night!

6 - How do you see your work making an impact in the knitting and fibre community?

I've seen a tremendous change in knitting throughout the past 10 years. I notice more people embracing their own style and color choices. It used to be wild to mix two or three colors together, or make a shawl that wasn't a triangle shape. back when I started designing. Now, I see knitters confidently combining interesting color combinations using four, five, or more colors into a project. I hope my work inspires knitters to make knitting their own, by using more specific color choices and feeling free to modify a pattern to make it their own. I like to bring joy and inspiration to people's lives through vibrant colors and unique style. 

7 - What’s your favorite thing to do while knitting? (example: watching television/movies, listening to podcasts, playing certain music albums, etc.) 

I love to knit in cafes, because I'm always traveling. I occasionally watch tv and movies while knitting, but mostly I prefer to knit in public or knit quietly at home, because my head is always buzzing with ideas.

8 - What’s in store for the next year of West Knits?

We are offering my annual Westknits Yarn-a-Long through Stephen & Penelope this spring. It's a yarn and pattern club with exclusive colors dyed by the most talented hand dyers. I design a custom shawl/scarf pattern for each month's colors. I will also host my annual Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL later this year. Follow Westknits on Instagram and Facebook and www.stephenandpenelope.com for all the latest news and announcements.

Where can we find you and your work?

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/westknits/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Westknits
website - http://westknits.com/


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GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the fun of knitting, I'll gift a copy of one of Stephen West's patterns to one lucky reader! To enter you just need to leave a comment on our Patreon post with which of Stephen's designs you would love to knit (and perhaps what yarn you'll do it in!) along with your Rav ID and give Stephen a follow on Instagram or Facebook (which I'm sure you guys already do!).

You have until May 11, 2018, 11:59pm CST to enter! I'll pick and announce the winner on Patreon. 

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[Giveaway] Lain'Amourée Featurette

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We have a special guest on the blog today: Lain'Amourée! Pauline is a dyer located in France, who infuses her work with her love of yarn in order to bring a touch of magic to our customers' needles. She draws inspiration from Greek Mythology and historical events (and sometimes waxing poetic when it comes to naming her colorways - my type of gal!) to create pastel colors to help turn bad days into beautiful moments.

Take a moment to get to know Pauline and her brand, Lain'Amourée! I'm sure you will fall in love with her magic.

1. How did you get into the Fibre Arts?

I learned to knit when I was 15. And I really began when my Grandpa went to the hospital. I just needed to think about something else, so I knit all the time. Like a lot of people I began with some acrylic yarn, and I discovered beautiful yarn a little bit later. And I fell in love with beautiful textures.

When I created my brand, it was just for fun. I was studying law and I just thought, “Why not”. If people like my yarn, great, if not, that's ok too. And after two years I quit my job to devote my time to my brand. We are currently working with my husband on Lain’amourée. This brand is like my baby, I created it and I watch it grown up. And yet we are two in this wonderful adventure.

2. Why do you create for the Fibre world? (What’s your mission?)

Behind our brand we want to share our love of beautiful fibres and colors. We are always searching the best high quality, and the best for our customers.

I am the one who dyes the fibre, so every skein I dye is to share my love of yarn and to put magic on the needles of my customers.

I think that everyone may have a bad day and when this person comes back at home and knit with our yarn, she can feel through our work that life can be beautiful! That is our mission: to turn a bad day into beautiful moment!

3. What makes your brand/work special?

We love Greek Mythology so every of our bases is named after a Greek figure. Our Baby alpaca, silk, cashmere base is called Aphrodite (for example).

And after, every color has a name too that relates a history or to explain the color in a poetic way.

For example, we have 13th November to remember this tragic and terrible terrorist attack in Paris (that happened November 2015).

And of course, we have some prettier history (hopefully) like "Un éléphant dans un magasin de porcelaine" that means A bull in a China shop’. Or "Une cerise dans mon Gin Tonic" (a Cherry in my Gin Tonic). Or "Une ballerine dans un champ de paillettes" (A ballerina in a sequins field).

Our bestseller is Caramel au beurre salé (see image below). We want to tell a story through every skein of yarn.

When someone buys a skein, we want to bring her/him a great story, a dream.

We are a brand with pastel colors, and that is because we want our yarn to be soft and reassuring, just like blankie...


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Giveaway

We are giving away TWO skeins of yarn from Lain'Amourée - meaning two winners - Du corail aux lèvres in Aphrodite and Caramel au beurre salé in Athéna (see the lookbook to view colorways and yarn info).

To enter, please follow the rules below.

1) Leave a comment (with your IG handle) sharing your favourite Greek figure (if you're not a fan of Greek mythology, you may chose another Mythic figure!).

2) Follow Lain'Amoureée on Instagram (we will be checking!).

You have until May 4th to enter. The winner will be announced here and on IG via IG stories.