Episode 019: Designer Shannon Cook

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EPISODE 019 – SHANNON COOK

Today’s guest is Shannon Cook, a knitting and sewing pattern designer, author and publisher, and the writer behind the popular blog VERYSHANNON.COM. When she’s not designing knitwear or sewing patterns or writing books, Shannon can be found guzzling coffee, reading a great book, or playing at the beach on Vancouver Island with her husband and two daughters.

I first met Shannon at a VKLive event back in 2013 and we connected instantly. Her energy is vibrant and inviting, and she clearly has great enthusiasm for all that she does. Shannon has created one of the most vibrant online communities of creatives out there. With regular knit and sew-alongs, Shannon brings our creative community together in such an inspiring and genuine way.

In this episode we chat about her journey to finding creative balance, making time for making, even when you’ve got little ones around, her long-standing love of books, and much more. 

Shannon and I got a little carried away catching up, so this episode is a bit longer than usual. But hey, I figured you wouldn’t mind.  Besides, could’t you use the excuse to walk, knit, sew, fold laundry, or just linger for just a few more minutes…?

In this episode

Mallory Cowl

Shannon’s Making & Mothering post for Stash

Feyre Shawl + coloring page

Court of Thorns and Roses book series

Beehive Yarn Shop

Hinterland Collection

Marian Rae Publishing with Jane Richmond

Within by Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Lisa Lucia Knits 

Gilmore Girls KAL on Ravelry

Find Shannon Online:

Instagram
Facebook 
Twitter
Ravelry

Stash Fiber Friends tote

This Episode is Sponsored by Stash

We recently celebrated our 5th anniversary of the Stash brick & mortar shop. To celebrate, we commissioned local graphic designer and screen printer Oh Little Rabbit to create a custom design.

 They came up with the most charming trio of fiber friends for us! There’s a hand-drawn alpaca, angora rabbit, and of course a sheep, all hanging out around a set of vintage knitting needles. We have ladies tee shirts, recycled cotton tote bags, and organic cotton onesies. 

These would make the perfect holiday or swap gift for a fiber friend. And while you’re checking them out, be sure to add little something to the cart for yourself. 

Because we’re grown ups and you can stuff a little something into the toe of your own stocking if you want. Just saying’.  

You can view our curated selection of high-end yarn, quality notions, independent patterns, and Stash-exclusive merchandise over at shop.stashlocal.com

Until next time…

Head to iTunes and subscribe to Stash | Creative Conversations.  After listening, take a moment to leave a star rating or review.  Leaving ratings and star reviews helps the podcast rise in the rankings, making it possible for even more people to discover these conversations. And the more crafty folks and creative entrepreneurs that find these conversations the better!

You can also find the podcast on Stitcher  or your favorite podcast app.

Stay Connected:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Ravelry.

Episode 018: Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns

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Episode 018 – Felicia Lo

Today in episode 18 of the Stash podcast I’m speaking with Felicia Lo, the founder and creative director of Sweet Georgia Yarns. 

In this conversation Felicia shares her journey to figuring out and accepting her passions and how that led her to pharmacy school, competitive ballroom dancing, graphic design, a burnout, and then, finally: her biggest mission yet: owning Sweet Georgia Yarns.  

She speaks to how color can transform your mood and help express emotions, and how it ultimately changed the direction of her life. Color is not just part of her hobby or her job, it’s a true calling. Felicia is on a pretty big mission, and has a message you simply have to hear. 

She says:

Colour is power. Colour changes lives. Colour has the ability to change and shape your perception and influence your thoughts. 

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We also talk about how she created space in her life after having kids to make sure she had time to pursue her creative hobbies.  We all know on an intellectual level that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. But this can be SO difficult to put into practice in our daily lives, and it’s never easy or perfect. Felicia has a great idea for creating space for making and reports on how it’s been working for her.

Sit back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns.

In this episode

Find Felicia online:

Until next time…

Head to iTunes and subscribe to Stash | Creative Conversations.  After listening, take a moment to leave a star rating or review.  It will really help other crafty folks and creative entrepreneurs find these conversations.

You can also find the podcast on Stitcher.

Stay Connected:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Ravelry.

Episode 017: Kathy Dixon of Despondent Dyes

Episode 018 of the Stash Podcast: Kathy Dixon of Despondent Dyes

Episode 017: Kathy Dixon

Kathy Dixon is the dyer behind the brightly colored and tongue-in-cheek named yarn that is Despondent Dyes. With colorway names like He Kept the Dog, The Color of the Marriage Counselor’s Rug and Lipstick on His Collar, you know this yarn has a story to tell.

Her path to becoming a popular yarn dyer didn’t happen overnight, though. In fact, Kathy’s path has taken her from art school to motherhood, cake decorator and real estate investor to yarn slinger at Stash, and more.

Kathy Dixon of Despondent Dyes.

Kathy likes to knit. A lot.

It might be an understatement to say that Kathy has had a very colorful and creative past.  Whatever she does, Kathy brings an incredible amount of passion and curiosity to the task.

She tells us about attending the dye workshop that changed her future, and the legwork that had been done before hand to help starting her own business fall into place.  We talk color way names and the inspiration behind them, and her process for developing colorways.

Kathy also tells us her secrets to “doing it all”. You might just be surprised by what is at the top of her list.

In this episode

Find Despondent Dyes at Stash in store and online, and at Despondent Dyes Etsy shop

Find Kathy on Instagram

Kathy’s knitwear designs on Ravelry 

We’d love to hear from you:

What role does creativity play in your daily life?  What does it mean to you?  Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

Until next time…

Please go to iTunes and subscribe to Stash | Creative Conversations.  After listening, take a moment to leave a star rating or review.  It will really help other crafty folks and creative entrepreneurs find these conversations.  You can also find the podcast on Stitcher.

Stay Connected:

You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Ravelry.

 

 

Guest Designer Lee Meredith: Class & Special Event

We’re so excited to have Lee Meredith at Stash for No Pattern Hat Knitting & Game Knitting! Lee’s patterns are innovative, playful and help knitters step outside the box with their knitting.

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From Lee’s website:

Lee is a maker of things, doer of stuff living in Portland, Oregon, with a main focus on designing orginal hand-knit accessories. She spends her time writing, designing, making, teaching, spinning, photographing, brainstorming, and creating. With a background in photography and art, and a love of color, puzzles, and experimentation, she brings all these elements into her creative work, as well as into her writing.

Lee will be here on November 20th teaching a class on knitting 3 types of hats without a pattern and will be hosting an evening event that will be great fun! Read on for all the details.

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No-Pattern Hat Knitting: 1-4pm 

How does knitting a hat without a pattern and without a gauge swatch sound? It sounds like a fun way to use those single skeins of yarn in your stash! Imagine being able to grab any skein of yarn and create a hat without having to swatch or search for the perfect pattern.

Learn the basic construction concepts and techniques needed to make three different types of hats, in any gauge.

You’ll learn how to make hats from the top down, bottoms up, and using short rows. All of these basic hat-knitting styles can be used as blank canvases onto which you can try out your own stitch pattern ideas, colourwork, etc – or even using special yarns!

Materials: a basic yarn in your choice of weight, needles sized to match your yarn – if you know the magic loop method, then bring a long circular needle, if you do not use that method, then bring a set of double pointed needles and either a pair of straight needles or a circular of any length (which will be used to knit flat), a crochet hook approximately sized for your yarn weight (exact size doesn’t matter), a blunt yarn needle, measuring tape. Feel free to bring more than one weight of yarn!

$60

SIGN ME UP! 

game-knitting

Game Knitting: 7-9pm 

Join us and Special Guest instructor and designer Lee Meredith as we make a completely one-of-a-kind item by turning the act of knitting into a game! This is an informal event where you’ll learn how game knitting works to create a random stitch pattern in any project, and we’ll all game knit projects together to the classic 90’s movie Empire Records.

Come join us and let Empire Records make your project unique! Popcorn included, of course!

Materials:

Yarn and needles of your choice to knit a small simple project, like a dishcloth, wrist cuff, headband, or anything super basic, in any gauge you want.

$12 in advance/$15 at the door

SIGN ME UP! 

We hope you’ll join us for this unique opportunity!

Yarn Story Collection : Sweet Georgia Yarn

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Sweet Georgia Yarn in Lomo Love for the Yarn Story Collection

We’re pleased as purple punch about this month’s Yarn Story Collection yarn from Sweet Georgia.

This vibrant, saturated colorway is called Lomo Love after Sweet Georgia founder Felicia Lo’s love of lomography. You’ll find an overall rich jammy purple with dark raspberry highlights in this hand-dyed yarn

You can buy this one of a kind yarn in store & online starting today.  Just remember: there’s a limited quantity available, and when it’s gone it’s gone.

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We love sharing not only the story behind the yarn, but the story of the people behind the yarns you love.  Today we bring you a conversation about the power of color, being passionate about your work, and reclaiming creative time with Sweet Georgia founder Felicia Lo.  Enjoy!

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When you were little, what did you want to be? Are there any activities or aspects of this you still enjoy as an adult?

When I was little, oh there were so many things I wanted to be. Fashion designer. Opera singer. Computer programmer. They seem like such a random collection of interests, but looking back now, they reflect exactly what I still continue to love and am doing today — crafts and textiles, fashion, art, music, and delivering it all through different online media.

What did you do before starting SweetGeorgia?

Before starting SweetGeorgia, I was a graphic designer and web developer. I designed and worked on everything from cookbooks to annual reports to database-driven websites. And before that, I worked as a community pharmacist. In university, my self-directed studies involved delivering pharmacy education through video- and web-based platforms.

Tell us about how SweetGeorgia began.

In 2004, I started a blog called “SweetGeorgia” because I wanted to write about my bread baking adventures. I wrote one post about baking bread and then proceeded to write for the next 12 years (and still going) on knitting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and a bit of quilting.

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Who’s Georgia, anyway?

Good question! Georgia isn’t a person. It’s a place. It’s a little reference to our Strait of Georgia which is the water between the Vancouver mainland and Vancouver Island. To me, it’s the heart of my little corner of the Pacific Northwest.

For people who haven’t played with your yarn before, tell us what makes Sweet Georgia yarns unique.

Colours have always been a part of my story. The lime green pants I bought for myself as a kid. The mustard yellow wool suit I sewed for myself in high school. The hot purple ballgown I made for myself during university. I believe the thing that makes SweetGeorgia unique is how we share our joy and our sorrow, our trials and tribulations through colour. We make more than 120 colourways for our permanent collection, plus 12 additional, exclusive Club colourways each year. I used to describe them as “stunningly saturated” and they did start off that way — vibrant, tonal, rich, and colourful. But now we have a truly complete palette of hues that ranges from light to dark, jewel-toned to sophisticated neutral. And each one has a story. Like one of our latest Party of Five mini-skein set colourways, Jellybean, is the merging and blending of my life (fuschia) and my husband’s (orange) as we celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary this past summer.

Why do you play with color and yarn? What does it do for your soul?

Colour is power. Colour changes lives. Colour has the ability to change and shape your perception and influence your thoughts. The vivid and golden yellow of a single skein of hand-dyed silk yarn changed the course of my entire life and redirected me to focus completely on SweetGeorgia. That’s why I play with color and yarn. It’s a practice that allows me to express my creative ideas, but like meditation, it gives me access to my intuition.

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Shop the Yarn Story Collection now.

Tell us a little bit about your Yarn Story Collection yarn and colorway.

This colourway is called “Lomo Love”.

Many, many years ago, when I took a sabbatical from dyeing and SweetGeorgia, I travelled to London to join a friend in the Lomography World Congress. At the time, I was suffering from creative burnout and exhaustion and just needed to rest and let myself wander. But a Lomo conference? What is Lomography, anyway?

Lomography is a photographic movement founded by Viennese art students in the early 1990s. Using small, toy, or analog cameras such as the Russian LC-A compact camera, Lomographers are encouraged to push the boundaries of their creativity by employing the motto, “don’t think, just shoot”. Cameras used for Lomography are deliberately low-tech. Some cameras don’t have the ability to control much more than the exposure of a shot. And other cameras were not much more than primitive pinhole cameras. The Holga camera is well-loved for its erratic performance and spontaneous light leaks. This is a plastic camera that is literally held together with black electrical tape.

Other favourite techniques used by Lomographers included using expired film stock to produce unexpected results. Another popular trick was using film designed for slides and “cross-processing” it using chemicals designed for print film. The results would be strong, almost harsh, contrast and increased vibrancy and saturation. The colours would just POP from the photographs.

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Of course, the aesthetic of this photographic movement are what you now see in your Instagram filters these days — the attempt to reproduce random and purely coincidental analog effects with the convenience of a digital medium.

Joining this group of passionate, colour and camera-crazy art students for a couple weeks in the early fall gave me a new way to look at my work. Sometimes you need to travel to the other side of the world, to meet people you need to meet, in order to spawn a season of fresh ideas and a new perspective. Looking back, that might have been the jolt of creative electricity that I needed to restart my journey with SweetGeorgia.

While I would never part with my Instagram filters and iPhone camera these days, I still have a deep love of my collection of plastic toy cameras.

Any patterns you’d recommend for people to use with this yarn?

I love that this colourway has gentle variation. It seems well-suited to something like a simple shawl. I tend to favor the top-down triangle, half-pi, and side-to-side shaped shawls since you can knit until you run out of yarn!

Where do you see your business heading in the next couple of years?

As I type, my nearly 8-month old daughter (my second) taking her late afternoon nap in a baby carrier, attached to me. These days are a bit crazy and there is still so much I want to do with the business. In the next couple of years, as I see our kids (now 3 years and 8 months) getting more and more independent, I want to lead SweetGeorgia to become a strong, vibrant voice sharing joy, inspiration, and education in the knitting, spinning, and weaving community.

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What’s a typical work day look like for you?

There aren’t any typical work days these days! Work gets done basically every time the baby goes for a nap, and much of that work gets done on-the-go on my iPhone. We have a great crew at the SweetGeorgia Studio in Vancouver who handle a ton of responsibilities and then we also have our knitwear design director, Tabetha Hedrick, in Tennessee who takes care of all of our pattern and collection development and also collaborations with independent designers. We are all connected through Slack, mainly, so my work day looks like me texting and taking iPhone photos.

How do you try to balance work and personal knitting/ spinning goals?

That’s an excellent question. Boundaries between making things for work or for fun… I recently started this mission that I call “Taking Back Fridays” where I take Friday afternoon and indulge in crafting completely for myself. I’m taking it as a time to focus on expanding my skills in knitting, spinning, dyeing, or weaving outside of what is necessary for work or for SweetGeorgia. For example, I’m experimenting more with a different type of dyeing altogether. It may or may never find its way into SweetGeorgia or our yarns, but it’s my personal goal to expand my knowledge and abilities.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?

The flexibility. No doubt.

The most challenging?

No boundaries. When you are so passionate about what you do for work and you enjoy it so much, it’s hard to know when to stop. Sometimes the hardest thing is closing the office door and saying, ok, it’s time to shut down for the day.

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Any current favorite colorways?

My go-to colourway right now is Bewitched and Mulberry. I’m stuck in a plummy purple rut, right now, but I don’t mind.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Re-organize my to do list, repeatedly. Or better yet, surf for new software to manage my to do list.

What are your non­-negotiables?

Everything is negotiable.

Who do you most trust to tell you the truth?

Definitely my husband. No sugar coating.

Fill in the blank:

When I need inspiration: I listen to music.

My guilty pleasure is: sour cream and onion potato chips.

Every knitter needs: good yarn.

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What is the best part of this knitting & yarn community?

The people. I’ve met the warmest, most thoughtful people through this work. People who have shared so much love and wisdom with me. I can only hope to do the same for others.

Any tattoos? If so, what inspired you to get your favorite tattoo?

Nope. But I vote for Grace Akhrem’s “knitting ruler” tattoo on her index finger.

What’s your current mantra?

Just keep going.

What is your favorite thing about Autumn?

Pumpkin pie.

What color are your nails today?

Sparkly baby pink with glitter.

What would be your fantasy animal mash­-up?

Panda and a Rabbit?

If all of your weekend plans suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend your days?

If it’s sunny, I’d take my family out to a live music concert in the park. If it was rainy, we’d paint pictures and play at home. I’d hopefully get 20 minutes to finish winding a warp.

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Shop the Yarn Story Collection now.

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Don’t forget to show us what you bought and what you’re making with our Yarn Story Collection yarns.  Tag us @StashLocal on Instagram and use the hashtags #YarnStoryCollection and #StashLocal so we can see what you’re making!