So Many Ideas

A lack of knitting over the summer combined with finally feeling a rhythm to my new life has led to a flurry of knitting and designing that I can’t seem to control.  The people I interact with on a daily basis have been a well of inspiration for the things that can be born on my needles, and when I’m not sketching out designs, I’m working them up.  I’m afraid to stop knitting because I don’t want the designs to float away.  They have to be made NOW.  So, when I’m not in the air, at the coffee shop, or at the computer working, I”m knit-purling away at a new design.

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I’ve been inspired by necessity.  The trapeze boots that I made (and currently in their test-knit phase), were created out of a need to have my shins and ankles covered for my ankle hangs on the trapeze.  Other sketches include shorts, rib warmers, legwarmers, cowls, sweaters, and costume accessories.  My only problem is that I can’t knit it all at once.  I have dozens of sketches, but not enough hands.  Also, the stash busting of the past two years means I am starting to scrape the bottom of my stash.  I don’t have enough of what i need for some of my designs.  I’m still trying to knit through what I have, so I’m sticking to the designs that can utilize what’s available, while devising plans for the other things.

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More designs are coming!  My main goal at the moment is to compile enough to put out a short e-book, so you may not see finished items until that point.  I’ll give you teasers when I can!

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And, if you’re interested in test knitting anything, head on over to the Little Green Pixie Rav group for updates!

This is What 2014 Will Be

When a friend shared this trailer with me, my eyes went wide and I thought to myself: THIS.  This is me, to the core, and everything I am aspiring to become.  This.

And Tom Waits Plays on the Radio

It’s the last day of 2013, and I alone in a house that is filled with music to drown out the silence, and the heater is blasting to try to keep me warm, even though it never quite reaches my bedroom.  I am sifting through the paperwork that has spent the last year growing on my dressers and inside drawers.  I’m unwinding forgotten knitting adventures and putting away the stray knickknacks.  This is the first time, in the all the years I have been in this apartment, that it did not feel like home.  Today, it feels cold, quiet, large, and cramped.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff and the lack of connection I feel suddenly.  Maybe it is simply that I have been alone since I returned on Sunday, and that in itself was a shock after being completely surrounded by people and conversation, whether or not I had decided to engage, for the week prior.  And maybe it is getting to the time I move on.  Right now it’s hard to tell.

But I am looking back at the year and marveling at how intense it was.  Looking back over the posts, and I’m amazed at how quickly everything happened.  I jumped from adventure to adventure.  Perhaps it is simply the bitter cold that is making me restless.

I taught aerial as much as possible and pushed myself to my physical limits.  I have so much inspiration to help me focus on my work now.

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There are plans.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how my main goals are going to turn out because of my shoulder injury.  I am still healing and it bums me out very much.  The key here is patience.  I must have patience.

I traveled to Seattle:

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And Boulder for the Aerial Dance Festival:

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I went to Lakes of Fire:

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And I hope to find a way back to each in the next year.  Plans are in the works for Lakes of Fire, Burning Man is much more expensive and requires a lot more time off work, so it’s still up in the air.

I did reduce my yarn supply, but not nearly as much as I wanted to.  And on the designing front, I did not complete much.  I have a couple patterns in the testing phase right now, and a couple that just need to be written up.

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I’ve been staring at this for awhile now.  I left to think and work a bit more, and just returned to it.  I’m not quite sure what else to add.  I don’t quite have NYE plans and it’s the first time in years.

2013 – a wonderful year.  I grew more than I thought possible.  I went on many lovely, and sometimes frightening adventures.  I met dozens of beautiful souls throughout those adventures.  I’ve healed my broken heart (and don’t feel jaded, either).  I’m a lot stronger, wiser, and ready to take a leap.  Now I face a new year, different challenges, and some of the same, and I’m excited.  So many more adventures are coming up.

 

Explore Chicago: Hanging Out With Lorna’s Laces

I didn’t realize this could be an Explore Chicago post until I came face to face with that word at the top my screen that demands “Title.”  I thought about it – how do I sum about my awesome weekend in a few short words that makes you want to continue reading?  What did I really do and what do I want to share with you?  This weekend was actually a large exploration of Chicago, from it’s quaint and quirky neighborhoods to the suburbs and a vast exploration of the public transit system into the Loop, it was strange and colorful and chilly and wonderfully inspiring.  Honestly – a little terrifyingly inspiring, as strange as the concept may seem.  To sum up what I mean – I have been face to face with some amazing, beautiful, creative, and ambitious people doing fantastic things.  And I’m faced with the ability to be a part of it – and it blows my mind.  I feel like I’m standing on the edge of everything I have want to do and all that is required is to take that one last leap of faith, and to be perfectly clear – it scares the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of me.

But, I digress.

Saturday saw a most wonderful opportunity realized.  I teamed up with the gals from Windy Knitty and we went to the dye studio of Lorna’s Laces – a most lovely, colorful, wacky little yarn dyer that is based in Ravenswood, a neighborhood here in Chicago.  Take a look at that website – go on, I can wait.  Pretty stunning, yes?  The color combinations, the quality, and if only you could feel the amazing cloud-like substance the yarn actually is – you would be head over heels and “accidentally” swiping your credit card (I may or may not speak from experience).

The coolest part, besides seeing the hole in the wall where the magic happens and standing inside hallways of beautiful, colorful, tempting skeins of super soft merino…I got to dye my own yarn.

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We started with a base.  I had a skein of superwash merino fingering weight, as did a majority of the others there.  This was her famous Solemate – ideal for sock yarn because of the 15% nylon and 30% Outlast.  It is deliciously soft and has a lovely sheen to it.

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We then picked out colors and watched Beth mix the pigments.

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She took a skein of the same base yarn and showed us what each of the colors was going to look like.  Once the 8 colors were ready, she let us have our fun.  There were 3 of us working on the tables at once, laughing our butts off as we spilled dyed across the table, played around with colors, and explored the studio.

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Seriously….color explosion everywhere.  I couldn’t help myself.

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And then we found this – a table of mill ends and one-of-a-kind skeins.  All of the samples they work with while they are trying to come up with new colorways – sitting right here on the table at ridiculously cheap prices.  I couldn’t resist.  I really couldn’t.  I keep wandering to the table, digging through the pile and finding all of these amazing little treasures.  I came away with a bag full of colorful pretties, and I have plans.

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In contract to the hanging skeins pictured above, our trial skeins hung in a row drying, but were no where near as stunning.  Granted, we all adored each others handiwork because it was a lovely surprise when they were finished.  We weren’t quite sure how everything was going to turn out, and each skein was beautiful.

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This is my Solemate.  It seems to reflect the icy chill of winter that is settling over us, with that lovely splash of color and beauty that you happen upon on those cold days.

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And then I couldn’t help myself, so I bought another base – this time a Superwash Worsted, and had another go; this time inspired by the autumn colors on the table.

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I can’t believe how lovely they turned out, and now I am racking my brain to think of suitable projects, because at this rate, my stash has an awful lot of souvenir, one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime finds that I really, simply, should not keep stuffed in plastic baggies inside of drawers.  They are meant to be admired.

Aerial Dance Festival 2013

Oh boy, I was expecting to blog while I was away, but when I pulled out my laptop and charger to begin, I realized I packed the wrong charger.  *doh* So, I aimed to take a lot of pictures to share with you as soon as I got home.  Here is my photo dump update!

 

I got to Boulder on a rainy weekend.  There were clouds everywhere, it was drizzling, and I couldn’t really see much.  I kind of enjoyed how the mountain peaks (or foothill peaks) would poke their heads through the clouds.  The temperature was a little chilly, but I enjoyed walking around and exploring.

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Towards the end of Sunday, the weather picked up a little, so that I could see the mountains better.  I had found the green sock yarn I needed just before leaving, so I cast on my second sock for the trip.

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Monday morning dawned, and classes began.  I was enrolled in Duo Static Trapeze, Cyr Wheel, Advanced Static Trapeze, and Aerial Burlesque.  Each class had something new to offer me, and the energy and enthusiasm was infectious.

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The people were all interesting, supportive, and talented.  There was a significant amount of trust and camaraderie that was created in a short time, which is important when you are hanging off of someone’s feet.

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The Cyr Wheel – a large steel/aluminum circle (similar to a hula hoop, only huge) was a fantastic class.  Shayna, the instructor, did a fantastic job with teaching us, laughing with us, and encouraging us to keep going.  The last couple days were hard for me.  I felt myself getting the movement, which meant that I was throwing myself into it.  This worked wonderfully, until I fell.  I was so committed to getting right, that I frequently ended up on the floor.  I’m totally addicted, and very glad that Shayna teaches Cyr at Aloft here in Chicago.

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I think aerialists have a tendency to brag about the amount of abuse their bodies take during training.  My hands were especially sore and forming blisters and callouses, but my thighs, knees, and ankles were also getting bruised.  This is an indication of our commitment to training, and how hard we are working.  It is a matter of pride, in a way, that are so focused on training.  I really pushed myself beyond my limits, physically, mentally, creatively.

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But it wasn’t all training.  I had one girls’ night.  I was too tired for much more than that.  We went out for dinner and drinks, and found an absinthe bar on a rooftop and enjoyed the experience.

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I found a cute little yarn store where they dye their own yarns.  I love the advertisement!!

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On Saturday morning, before leaving Boulder, I wandered around the farmer’s market, had delicious chai, watching slack rope walkers and bubble blowers, and found a nice spot by the river to relax.

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There are so many faces of Boulder, I think, and they are all jumbled into a small space.  It was fantastic feeling the crush of people and socialization, while being able to walk a block and find silence and solitude when I needed it.

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I wrapped up my stay with a cold micro-brew at the Walnut Brewery and a bit of knitting. I would have had much more done than this, except that when I checked to see if the foot was long enough, I noticed that it was 4 stitches wider than the other one.  Being a perfectionist, I ripped it back to the toe and started over. A flight delay due to weather conditions gave me ample time to catch up, and I was on the cuff by the time I landed in Chicago.  Last night, I cast off the sock!

I met some really amazing people and learned many fantastic things.  I am looking ahead now with a shiny new perspective on what is possible for me, and I am eager to realize it.  The callouses and bruises are fading a bit, and it kind of makes me sad.  But the friendships and connections are still there, and that is the important part.  Thank you, all of my instructors and classmates, for all of the hard work and support you put into the week!  See you next year!

That Feeling of Safety

Giving away the little cream pelisse and casting off a secret project (but still needing to do the finishing up) made me feel like I made a dent in my works-in-progress.  I am looking at my Ravelry page and seeing a dozen things that are still on the needles, or awaiting finishing details, but the feeling of calm before a storm.  Also, my upcoming trips (Colorado in a week and Burning Man in 4) has led to a rush of inspiration and the desire to have an entire wardrobe knit before I leave.  That means, I am writing up my designs, hammering out the math, swatching, and trying to knit it all, before August 24th.  We all know it just ain’t gonna happen, and no one agrees to that more than me, but I still had the nagging itch to cast something on and make it my one and only.

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At least it is a rather portable project that has taken up residence in my purse.  I am enjoying the design so far, and right now gauge isn’t detrimental.  It will be once this happy little band is completed, but for the moment, I am grand.  I am hoping to have this at least blocking before I leave for Colorado next week so I can start an all new project (also mapped out), as well as bring along the cardigan for Jeana (60% complete) and a pair of socks (50% complete).  (Again, you don’t have to tell me how insane this all sounds.  I am perfectly aware of the warping of the time vortex required to complete all of the tasks I’ve laid out).

Maybe after my Burning Man meeting tonight I will try to force my way through the finishing up for the two projects that need it.  That ought to make me feel better, right?

 

Right?

White Knight Syndrom

In designing this chess board, my goal was to make each piece as close to the “traditional” pieces as possible.  For the most part, this was easy.  The pieces are fairly simple – bulbous and plain.  My challenge came with the knight, which is most often represented as a horse.

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I left this piece for last, because I knew it was going to be rough and I thought that inspiration would strike while I was working on the others.  Well, I finished designing the other pieces and was left staring at a blank page and a ball of yarn as I thought about what to do next.  There was a terrible urge to stuff the black and white pieces into a bag and tuck them into a corner for another year.

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Do I knit it in separate pieces and sew it together?  Do I utilize short row shaping as though I were turning a heel?  How can I keep it relatively simple and understandable?  I started knitting, then ripped it out and started over.  I sent my notes to my tech editors and they tore it apart, changed things around, and tried again.  None of us were quite satisfied with the way our knights were looking, and, speaking only for myself here, I was getting awfully sick of staring at this knight.  It was the collective effort of the group that kept me knitting away on this piece.  If they hadn’t been bugging me for updates and providing words of advice and encouragement, this picture would never exist.

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I just finished the latest design, and I think I nailed it.  Increases on one side to create a muzzle, then short row shaping combined with decreases gave me the head and “ears”, and then the body follows suit with the rest of the pieces.  An I-cord is then knit and sewn to the back and head to create the mane.  It is by far the most challenging piece of the game, yet I think it is not too difficult and it is definitely interesting.

Now, of course, I have to make 3 more before I am officially finished with the frackin piece.  If you don’t hear from me soon, it is probably because I am lying comatose in a black and white pool of fiber. Please remove the double points from my hands and administer generous amounts of whiskey.

Dear 2012

You have been quite a rollercoaster year for me. I started the year with such high hopes for my future. There were so many things I was looking forward to, hoping to accomplish, new things to learn. I wasn’t expecting so many changes – or rather, these kinds of changes – by the time you were over.

This year turned into an exploration of love, overall. What love means, how it grows, and how it hurts us. I found myself nurturing new friendships and letting go of old ones. I started planning a future with the love of my life, only to have the relationship end abruptly – I still don’t understand what happened. Maybe it’s not really my lesson to learn, but his. Perhaps 2013 will be the year of discovery as well as healing. Today, this last day, I will let it go.

There is still much to look back on, though, and many good things to be thankful for. Many things have happened to spark creativity and inspire hope.

I did my fairs again – Janesville and Custer – as well as new ones. It was a difficult realization to make that wings just aren’t as profitable as they used to be. I blame Disney. Retiring them – except for special orders – is going to be rough, but so far I have enjoyed not worrying about them. My energy has been going toward more productive endeavors.

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Aerial, for instace. I debuted in May at the Actor’s Gymnasium’s “Circus in Progress” show. It was exhilarating, challenging, and incredibly fun.

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Again in October, we performed at the fall Circus in Progress. That was a clever trapeze act in which our characters were ones you would find in a midnight diner.

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I was the lonely old lady – a character I had much fun concocting.

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I have been pushing my levels of endurance and my threshold for pain as I train for this. I am hoping to turn it into a career – and that is what I hope the end result of 2013 will be.

In September, I started teaching beginning aerial arts, and in January, my daughter will begin learning.  This has been a wonderful experience, albeit stressful at times.  My students are amazing and talented, and I am excited to be the one inspiring them to push themselves farther, and even more so to be able to give them skills and confidence to do that.

Ellette in Lyra

I made a big push in the knitting world.  I participated in two challenges.  I did not succeed in one, but the other was fantastic.  The Ravellenic Games were a bit hard on me – I had too much going on at the time. The other was NaKniSweMo, and I adore the end product.

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I attended Stitches Midwest and took some wonderful classes, met amazing people, and bought too much yarn.

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I also released three new patterns.  The Tetris Afghan, Dragon Slayer Gauntlets, and Cascading Leaves Cowl:

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In June, we acquired our little Pygmalian.  He has been a fabulous addition to our household – goofy and loving and adorable.

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He is about three times that size now, and I still haven’t trained him to leave my yarn alone.  What a rascal!

There are more little things, here and there, that shine for me.  I run into bits and pieces as I walk through my house and go about my day.  With the recent relationship change, I have been working hard to clean my house and cleanse my soul.  Many things have resurfaced with this purge and my thoughts are filled with reflections.

This next year is going to be wonderful, if a little difficult and nerve wracking.  I am going to do some adventurous, dangerous, and hopefully clever things that shall be revealed throughout the coming months.  But that is in the realm of 2013.

For now, I am putting on a party dress and going to see friends to bring in this brand new year among people I love dearly, and who love me in return.

Goodbye, 2012.  I won’t be seeing you.

No longer yours,

Pixie

 

 

The Fairy’s Lair

Some time ago, I started showing you pictures of how I was revamping the fairy’s bedroom.  She has a queen-sized loft, which was one of the major pros to getting this apartment over something slightly less expensive (it was that and the ridiculously spacious awesome attic).  After a year of telling her repeatedly to clean up her room, because besides the loft, the room is tiny, and therefore always messy, I decided the best course of action would be to swap the “play area” with the “sleep area” and set to work.

Well, after a couple months of work, it is just about complete.  I am waiting on a storage bench in which to pile her dress up clothes and I picked up her bed frame on Saturday.  Then, it is stay clean or drive your mother insane.

These curtains were actually a bed sheet from when I was a teenager.  I know, crazy.  I had pastels in my room. (I shudder to admit).  I pulled them out to make Ellette’s bed one day and noticed a giant tear at one end.  Mourning the loss of otherwise perfect bed sheets and wondering how to salvage what remained, I climbed into her loft and did my favorite – eyeball measuring (do NOT try this at home!!  Measuring tape is your friend).

The purple lace at the bottom is something left from my grandmother’s craft room and went wonderfully with the butterflies in the fabric.  Ellette saw them after I got them situated and squeeled in delight (and I came to sudden realization that the squeeling will only get progressively worse as she gets older and I regretted making anything for her, for the sake of my eardrums.)

I was finally able to hang up the squat fairy tent a neighbor gave us as they moved out (and Ellette has been bugging me relentlessly about hanging up).  There is a purple beanbag tucked inside of the tent to allow comfort for her retreat.  She likes to lay up there reading.  It took two small carpets from Target to cover the floor.  We tried going with one, but it was too small and awkward for the space, so a second one was procured.  We moved her bookshelf up there along with some bins of toys and Ellette loves it!

Last weekend, Ellette had a friend over and the two of them spent the entire time hiding in her loft playing.  I would say it has been a success.

And now I get to tell her incessently to pick up her dirty clothes from the floor.

(PS: I realize I promised patterns for the Tetris afghan and the gauntlets, but remember that the charger for my laptop is broken and the battery is dead.  It has been a sad week.  The only way I have been able to update is by hogging the family computer.  All of my information for those two projects – notes, charts, photos – is on my laptop.  We tried to pick up a generic charger from the store, but the plug was too big.  I had to order one special – it should be arriving soon.  I appreciate your patience!)

Games in Q Basic

I have discovered that if I take my UFOs to knit night – the ones that only need the ends woven in, or something sewn on – I have a much higher chance of actually finishing.  For instance, the Tetris afghan has been lounging around my house for a solid two weeks, waiting patiently for the loose ends to be woven in.  I would make feeble attempts here and there, but could never bring myself to just get it over with.

After two hours and one beer at knit night, it is finished.  I was so happy, I had to show everyone as they walked by.

 

This morning, I took it to work with me, where I was able to package and meter it without leaving the office.  It is now on it’s journey to California to warm a friend of mine.

The construction is fairly simple – mitered squares that are worked together as you go along.  It makes for quick knitting, and the color changes keep it interesting.  It is almost fully reversible.  I would be interested in seeing the picked up stitches done in black, so that every square has a border.

And it is finished with an I-Cord edging which nearly made me strangle myself from frustration.

There have been several requests for a pattern, which will be out next week if everything goes right.  There may be another pattern coming out before March as well.

In the meantime, I rewarded myself with more yarn and have begun mapping out the next project in my head, although it is not so much a Spring project.  Some of the others are, so I may have to get through this one real quick to get on to the others.

I would damn the inspiration, but you never know when it will decide to leave you.  So I will offer it a humble thanks.

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