A Girl Named Leney

THE JOURNAL

Posts in Knitting
On Hiatus

going through an alpaca fleece // photo by Meagan Abell

on hiatus. ⁣
that’s the current state i feel some parts of my creativity are in. not for a lack of passion, but simply because i cannot do everything at once. ⁣
depending on how long you’ve followed me, you might not even know that i’m a fiber artist and knitwear designer. ⁣

i started an Etsy shop in 2011 which was part of my full time work until about 2015. it grew into a very successful side of my business. i designed seasonal collections of knitwear centered around themes of inspiration (examples: On The Road, Gypsy Soul and OOAK pieces inspired by my travels), i was on the front page frequently, became a featured shop, interviewed in a book, had pop ups with the likes of Madewell and Quirk Gallery, was featured in various publications and by all appearances had “made it” in the Etsy scene of success. ⁣

but it didn’t feel like success. i was overworked, staying up until 4am knitting to fulfill holiday orders, warring with the desire to remain small so as to have my hand in all of aspects of my business and wanting to create each piece myself but unable to keep up with the demands alone. not to mention still running my photography business which entailed primarily shooting weddings at the time. and then Etsy went public and i quickly grew frustrated and disenchanted with a platform that used to be exclusively for handmade and vintage wares and was now blurring lines by allowing factories in China to open up shops and claim their mass produced goods as “handmade”. (this is a simplified rant of the many complicated changes that have happened at Etsy over the past few years but it was definitely an element in my frustration and stress of maintaining my own shop)⁣

and then of course too there was the realization of not knowing how my yarn was made that led to my pursuing sustainable knitwear. learning how to process wool on my own, spin it into yarn, dye with natural dyes and plants and create pieces that felt like true representations of me as an artist and embodied my ethics and beliefs. ⁣
(which is what these woven pieces are—all yarn i hand spun from a wide array of fibers and some i even processed from raw fleece!)⁣
⁣but other than a few custom orders, i never fully went all in with that venture. perhaps because i was hesitant to grow it to the size of my previous endeavor, or because it was too different of a market for my current customer base, or because it simply became an art form that was just for me-and not something i had to monetize and sell. ⁣
or perhaps because it just wasn’t the season for this dream. who knows?⁣

my Etsy shop is technically still open, i’ve slowly been letting the listings expire and i plan to close it fully after selling all of my extra inventory this fall. ⁣
but this type of creating is still such a huge part of me. ⁣
until recent years i knit almost every day from the time that i was 8 years old. ⁣
i still want to work on a sheep farm to learn a more in depth way to incorporate the whole “from sheep to sweater” idea in my fiber art. ⁣
i still am so turned on by textiles and meticulously study sweater construction.⁣

but as a person with endless interests and passions, i am learning that each have their season. just because i am not full-time pursuing one doesn’t mean that it’s any less a part of me or less valid because it isn’t recognized by others and in the public eye. ⁣

i’m a little all-or-nothing with most things in my life, so this isn’t always easy for me. but it’s a lesson that’s good for my hands to learn how to hold.

A New Direction
www.agirlnamedleney.com

so i meant to post this the same day i announced the new website being up, but wouldn't you know it i blinked and it's already over a week later...
but then i ended up wanting to share my New Perspective post first anyway. which i'd love for you to read, if you haven't already, to grasp a better understanding of where A Girl Named Leney is heading and what my heart for it is.

but yes friends, superb news. the new website is up! 
i wrote and deleted twice (or maybe three times) the following words, but i truly don't know how else to say that: i could not be more excited to finally share this new direction with you guys! 

today i wanted to go over some notable changes within my business to help you better understand where it is i'm going and what all of these new changes mean! 


Ventures


ventures are what i am calling the different components and pursuits that make up my business.
these will undoubtedly change and evolve as i too change and evolve as an artist.
(you can read about these on the ventures page here, but i wanted to give a little bit more in depth explanation of each one!)


FOLKLING — i have been a life-long thrifter. my mother took me when i was young and i remember the excitement of finding treasures of varying kinds to give a new home to.
she's truly the one who's taught me the value and beauty in giving things new life
it was also my first introduction to shopping and learning to spend my money wisely.

as i've found and made spaces of my own over the years, one of my favorite things has been curating their vignettes. i love photographing my home and the pieces of it i'm always rearranging. it's something i shied away from for a long time, as my space is something that's very sacred and private to me, but i found so much unexpected joy in sharing it.

in addition to vintage homewares, i have an affinity for vintage clothing.
do i risk sounding like a broken record by saying that they just don't make things like they used to? well, it's true. there was nothing that educated me on this front more than watching this film and reading this book.
again, i grew up thrifting, and so have always had a fairly unique and eclectic wardrobe because of it. however, in my early twenties, i started shying away from secondhand and got caught up in the fast fashion industry and excessively consumed and over-bought, until my closet door and dresser drawers weren't able to close.
it was sometime in 2015 that i finally recognized the problem and started getting back to my roots.

i've been exclusively buying secondhand and handmade clothing for two years now and i feel so proud and accomplished in being able to say that! 

and so, because of my passion for adopting and curating unique things to give them new life, i want to help educate and pass that love onto others.
shopping small, locally, secondhand, sustainably and ethically are all elements of consumption that are incredibly important to me.
for it's not necessarily consumption that's bad, it's how we consume and why.
so i want to encourage others to examine the ways in which they're doing that and give them more options and promptings for an alternative lifestyle.

you can follow Folkling on Instagram and Facebook.
 



SUSTAINABLE KNITWEAR — i've been knitting for about 17 years. i didn't fully understand patterns when i first learned, so i started making up my own and have essentially been designing ever since. i started my etsy shop in 2011 and have had 6 knitwear collections released and sold on that platform, with smaller batches of "unofficial" bodies of work sold on commission and an as-i-made-them basis, before that. if you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane with me those were:

Sartorially Inclined: A Mens Knit Lookbook
Sartorially Inclined: A Ladies Knit Lookbook
On The Road
Gypsy Soul
The Classics Collection
OOAK Knitwear

it's amazing for me to see how far i've come in my work and watching my style and aesthetics change over the years.
similar to Folkling, in 2015 i had a "come to God moment" in regards to how i was living, what i was putting value in, knowing the origins of what i bought, having more of an appreciation for the process of products and making things from scratch.
my knitwear didn't escape these revelations.
i realized that i had no idea how the yarn i used for my pieces was made or where it came from. was it made sustainably? were the animals used in making it raised ethically?
when i started looking into it, the things i found along the lines of factory pollution, harmful chemical usage and animal abuse were troubling. 

as i changed other aspects of my life in regards to how i ate, dressed and shopped, it was bothering me that this aspect of my business wasn't fully aligning with my values as well.
so after two years of studying and learning the art of processing, spinning, and naturally dyeing wool, i'm going full steam ahead with this new kind of knitwear!

from now on, all of my pieces will be made from yarn that i've either: 
1. fully, from start-to-finish, processed and then spun myself from fiber i've sourced from a farm that i've built a relationship with and, when possible, visited myself. 
2. spun myself from roving that's been made and processed by a trusted source. 
3. bought from another like-minded fiber artist locally or during my travels. 
4. recycled.
 

additionally, some pieces will incorporate natural dyeing (something i'm still learning the vast art of!), furthering each pieces story and one-of-a-kind-ness.

i'm really excited to fully pursue this path of creating. it feels really good to have this align fully with who i am as both an individual and an artist.

sustainable knitwear will be available through my Etsy shop as well as the Folkling instagram.
you can watch a video on how i process wool here.
p.s. i don't know how to shear sheep yet, but just know that element of sustainable knitwear is in the works. ;)




THE TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER — i've been "the traveling photographer" for some years now, but i want to refocus that aspect of my business in three ways.

but first and foremost i want to be honest with you all in saying that in over eight years of doing photography as a job, six of those full time, i have experienced some burnout.
the rush, stress, and keeping-up-with-the-joneses mentality that is in a significant part of the digital photography industry, has put me through the wringer on more than one occasion.
i want to be true to my heart and the passions i feel that i was given for a reason, and right now the below is how i feel pressed to chase after them.

1. to focus (no pun intended) on primarily, if not exclusively, doing travel related work, because that is where my heart and inspiration are most in sync.
2. i am not a smile-at-the-camera-and-point-and-shoot kind of photographer.
i need you to know this if you want to hire me to work with you. this isn't to say i will never take photos of people smiling at the camera! but the way i document is a little bit different than most.
you can read more about what that means here.
3. i have fallen in love with film over the past few years and am presently undergoing a more intensive pursuit in educating myself on this medium. i have both film and digital on my portfolio page, and you can see some other film work under the film tag on the journal, but until recently this has all been more or less for personal documentation.
i think at it's essence though, it's the "slow living" aspect of film that i've fallen in love with.
i would really love to start branching out into working with film more in my sessions and collaborations with people. so if that's something that appeals to you as well, say so in your inquiry!




TUMBLEHOME — those of you who have been long time followers are familiar at this point with my self identification as The Daughter of A Sailor. 
most often conveyed by way of my hashtag on instagram.
this story became one that a lot of people really loved reading about and were intrigued by. so i decided, along with my father, to share more of our adventures through a separate platform in the way of creating Tumblehome! in addition to sharing our adventures on the water, and our somewhat alternative lifestyle pursuits in the way of living more slowly, intentionally and mindfully, we both really love making things with our hands. after realizing a lot of people loved the things we make, we decided to start offering them to a wider audience.
which also feeds back to my aforementioned desire to surround myself with well-made things and cutting down on the need for over consumption by buying quality vs. quantity.

you can follow Tumblehome on Instagram and Facebook.


all of that being said, i am also pursuing writing more, which isn't officially listed under ventures right now, but that's something i might change.
i've been honored to be a part of several publications in the way of magazines, books and online articles over the past few years and conveying my heart through words has been such an amazing experience and way for me to connect with people. the conversations and various relationships i've had a chance to engage in as a result have been truly life giving at most, and thought provoking at least.

i'm pursuing refining my writing skills and being more consistent with putting out new content that is writing based, whether here on the journal or on instagram (a place i frequently share thoughts and musings).
if you want to learn more about this you can read Writings From A Would Be Beatnik.

in conclusion: all that i am pursuing is fueled by, what i call, the art of slow living.
you can read more about that here, and on posts on the journal under the slow living category

speaking of slow living, i'm starting a newsletter!
i technically have had the newsletter around for a while, but i think i used it... once? twice?
yea. not very much. 
i have some new ideas for it including a bi-weekly email that contains a sort of roundup of various slow living, mindful, and intentional things i've come across around the web and found value in.
what do you think?
it's still an idea in the works, and i haven't sent out the first one yet, but if you think you'd want to at least check it out sign up for it here!


whew!
we made it to the end friends! i know that was a lot all at once.
all of that has been inside of me for so so long, upwards of a year now, and being able to convey it to you now, fully as a whole, feels good.
i hope it all made sense! 

essentially: before now, i was primarily focusing on my knitwear and photography. now i have two new ventures i'm pursuing as well as a little bit of tweaking to my current ones with a few extra strings (or strands of yarn??) in between that tie everything together.

i appreciate you taking the time to read this. 
i've been having some wonderful and thought provoking conversations with you guys lately (over email/instsgram direct messaging especially) and i just want to say how grateful i am for you.
i'm grateful for your insightful comments, your encouragement, your engagement, your positivity, your beautiful minds, all of you.
thank you.
i wouldn't be anywhere close to getting all of this off of the ground if it weren't for you.

if i had the time and ability, i'd knit you all sweaters from 100% leney-processed-and-dyed wool. 
over all, i want to thank you for giving me grace as i pursue these new ventures and navigate their newness and working-out and chase after that every calling dream of living a fulfilling and passionate and purpose filled life using the gifts and abilities i was given.

xo

p.s.
i want to work with similar minded people who align with the values and lifestyle that i am working on pursuing! 
so if you feel like that's you, come say hey (even if it's just because, i love having conversations about all of these things).

A New Venture
Photo by Gray Breeden

Photo by Gray Breeden

I shared over the weekend that I will be having a trunk show at Quirk Gallery on October 1st.
I wanted to share a little more about what this trunk show represents for me.

I've been working intentionally over the past year or so on my education in regards to my knitwear designing and being more involved in the process and construction of a garment.
I've been going on various visits and tours of farms (which you can read more about in Farm Days posts More coming soon!) and learning about shearing, processing, and spinning wool into the end product (yarn) that I'm used to working with.  
It's been such en enlightening and gratifying experience. 
To know that I'm able to take a natural and God given resource and within my own abilities and resources, turn it into something that's able to be enjoyed and used by others for (hopefully) generations to come is really satisfying. 

The idea for this new venture into this kind of knitwear came from my pursuits and interest in recent years into the art of slow, mindful and intentional living

What was I consuming? What was I allowing into my life? What was I saying, unknowingly or otherwise, with the things that I used and wore and bought on a daily basis?
I not only wanted to practice more mindfulness in these areas in my every day life, but also find a way to embody that in my art. 

I’ve been knitting for about 17 years, and designing collections for a living for four of those years. However it wasn’t until I started pursuing a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle as well as educating myself on fast fashion, that I thought about how my knitwear played into that. I realized I had no idea how the yarn I used for my collections was made, where it came from, what effect it had on the environment or even whose pocket my dollar was going into when I bought it. 
That, along with attending a local fiber festival and learning how to spin yarn, set into motion my pursuit of being involved in every phase possible of the construction of a piece of my knitwear.
If I don’t personally source the wool from a farm I’ve visited during my travels or built a relationship with, take it to the mill to be processed, process it in my own home or spin it into yarn myself, I take great lengths to make sure the yarn is sourced and made by a similar minded fiber artist.

While it’s my dream to one day learn how to shear sheep myself and maybe even own a few, I am content with being as much involved in the process of the “sheep to shawl” idea of my knitwear as I can be in this current season of my life as I live in the city. 

I’ve also been experimenting and learning about the incredible art of natural dying and will occasionally add that as an element to a special piece. Collecting flowers, lichen, moss, plants, and other found materials to form dyes that only add to the beauty that can be created when using natural resources.

As a result of this process, each piece is one-of-a-kind and a work of art in and of itself. 
Each carries with it a story that has many chapters, each of which is very much apart of me and my journey as not only a knitwear designer but a traveler, photographer, and an artist.

I'm excited to share this next phase with you guys. So many of you, my dear family and friends, have been such a huge part of this becoming and evolution in these pursuits and passions of mine.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I couldn't do it without you.

xo

P.s. I've been working on a video to showcase the story of processing a fleece start to finish at the fiber mill so keep an eye out for that coming soon!

One-Of-A-Kind
OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

So last week I released The Classics Collection, which was part 1 of 2 in regards to the new direction I'm going with my knitwear. Many of you might have been thinking, "part one? What does that mean...?" Well today I get to tell you.

This part, part two, is an aspect of my business that's been in the works for some time now. One that I've had in the back of my mind as a dream and a possibility for so long I don't really remember how or when it started.
I would mention it off handedly to those closest to me, trying to curb my over enthusiasm for this idea I had that I just couldn't shake, wanting to give it my full attention but needing to let it marinate for just a little bit longer.
To say I've been over-the-moon excited about sharing this is an understatement. 

It starts with the phrase: One-of-a-kind.
AKA: OOAK.

OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

These pieces are inspired by...
the places i’ve been,
the people i’ve met,
the words i’ve read,
the images i’ve created.

All of which are unique, to themselves, their own, one-of-a-kind. 
Much like you are.

OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

I believe that your clothing, what you wear, says a lot about you.
It adds to your story, your make-up, who you are as an individual.

And so, shouldn’t those pieces in and of themselves hold a story all their own?
I think so.
That’s why my knitwear is one-of-a-kind. 
Each design is a piece of art.
Each piece tells a story. 
Of a person. A place. An experience. An idea.
When you own one of these pieces you are the only one to own it.
Aside from me, the creator, you hold it’s story. 
You are now the caretaker of it’s story. 
And it, in turn, becomes a part of yours.
The Stories The Things We Own Tell.
I think they're terribly important, though often overlooked. 
I find that the things we invest in are the things we cherish and value most. Which in turn speaks to what kind of individual we are. What we put stock in. Who we want to be.
At least so is the case for me. 

OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

This is not a new concept for me. 
At least not in the story telling aspect. My designs and the pieces I create often come with their own story. 
"I was knitting this when..."
"I got the idea for this piece from this photo I shot here in..."
"I picked up this yarn there during my travels and I made a..."
"I was on the road and day dreaming out the window and all of a sudden..."

My travels bring together, for me, my two biggest passions: Knitting and photography.
I'm rarely anywhere without knitting in my bag, or a camera (even if it's just my iPhone), everywhere I go I find some yarn to add to The Travel Blanket and the places I see, stories I hear and people I meet always seep into my work in one way or another. 

OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

There's value in scarcity. Individuality. Uniqueness. 

OOAK Knitwear By A Girl Named Leney / www.agirlnamedleney.com

So in addition to The Classics Collection, there will be a rotating selection of OOAK knitwear.
As inspiration strikes, as my suitcase become filled with yarn from far and away and as I find new stories to tell.

Stay tuned for the first piece hitting the the shop soon.

Photos by Meagan Abell

Shop Update
   The Diana Dress | Photo Cred:  Meagan Abell

   The Diana Dress | Photo Cred: Meagan Abell

So today I have an announcement to make in regards to the shop!
The current lines, On The Road and Gypsy Soul, are going to be pulled from the shop come the beginning of October to make way for an exciting renovation and new direction for my knitwear! I'm really excited about where I'm going with this and I can't wait to share more with you guys. I will say it is defintely going to be very different from what I have going on with my knits now though. 
So, all of that to say, if there's been a piece you've been eyeing (like maybe this one? Or this one? Or even this one?), now's the time to get it because it won't be available come fall!

And if you live in RVA you can actually head to Pop Secret, a pop up shop that Bizarre Market is putting on over at Big Secret during the UCI bike races the 17th-27th of this month! Some of my knits will be there as well as a bunch of other cool local designers pieces! So definitely check that out if you're in the area.
Otherwise, head to the shop to check out the knits there and get your hands on some before they're discontinued. And I mean hey, Christmas is right around the corner, you could get some shopping done early! Or, you know, just treat yourself. ;)

A Commissioned Piece

A few months ago I was commissioned by a bride to make some free form art pieces to be a part of her wedding decor. I loved working on this commission so very much and completely fell in love with the final pieces. I have some plans for expanding upon these in the future, so we'll see where that goes, but for the record I'm open to any further commissions along these lines!
Feel free to shoot me an email for more info. 

Christmas In July Sale

This is a post just to let you know that for the rest of July I am offering 20% off all orders placed in the shop with the code: CHRISTMASINJULY

So head on over and treat yourself to something pretty! Like maybe this, or this or even this.
Or maybe get an early start on buying those Christmas gifts?
Never hurts to plan ahead... It'll be here before you know it. ;)
 

The Travel Blanket

The Travel Blanket is a project that I started sometime in 2011. 
It's one of my most treasured possessions. I love this thing more than... well, a lot of things. 
I can be rather materialistic.
Not so much in the way that I'm constantly shopping, getting the newest and next best thing or even hoarding stuff (though I have my moments), but there are some possessions I have that just mean the world to me. Things I love that have become a part of who I am in a way. The things we own tend to tell stories I think. Those stories are often of us. Who we are, where we've been, what we like doing, what we deem important at various points in our lives. 
This is intrinsically true of The Travel Blanket. 


I have purchased yarn from almost everywhere I've traveled to over the past 4 years or so. With some exceptions of course, I'm often in a place too short of a time, or the nearest yarn shop is too far away. But that's rare, because buying yarn wherever I go is a priority that's topped only, maybe, by eating. And that's probably mostly only because I'm often with other people during my travels and I have to be considerate and realize that, you know, they might want to purchase lunch before driving an hour to the nearest yarn shop.... 
In fact, whenever I have a trip planned, one of the first things I do is google yarn shops. I find the most popular one in the area, or one that just looks interesting to me, or the one that I can walk to. 
So yea. It's a priority.

People often ask me how I choose yarn for the blanket.
For starters, I always go to a proper local yarn shop, not a craft store. Craft stores just don't know what they're doing in the way of quality yarn. The Travel Blanket demands a more one-of-a-kind (and often 4x as expensive...) sort of yarn. I often find something unique, hand dyed, hand spun and/or exclusive to just that part of the world. 
And from there... well, I choose a yarn that reminds me of the place I'm in. The things I saw there, the people I met, the things I did and experienced.
I sometimes have company on these little field trips, and they often think "oh, you just need like one skein right? We'll be in and out in no time". 
They quickly learn.

Of course, anyone who's ever visited a yarn shop with me once usually doesn't opt for accompanying me a second time. I don't know if I've ever spent less than a half hour, at minimum, in a new yarn shop. Heck, who am I kidding, even an old yarn shop I've been to heaps of times. It's just physically impossible for me. You can bet that if you drop me off and leave me with no time constraints or places I have to eventually be, I will pretty much just stay there until they kick me out. 
But yea. I don't usually know what I want until I see it. And seeing it can take at least a good half hour if not a full hour. 
I mean, I have to touch everything and hang out with it for a good long while obviously. And I almost always befriend the shop owner, and/or the other customers (who are generally about three times my age. What can I say, I'm an old soul) and we can talk about all kinds of fiber goodness for absolute ages.  
Not to mention I rarely buy yarn just for the blanket. I usually pick up a few other skeins that always end up catching my fancy (much to the dismay of my credit card). Besides, there's quite a shortage of good quality yarn shops here in Richmond (which is pretty much the biggest tragedy ever. I've watched about three or four now slowly close one by one over the years) so when I come across a good one I take advantage of it. 


Anyway.
That's pretty much how it goes. 
I'm not really sure what I'm going to do when it gets too big to even be classified as a blanket anymore... I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Maybe I'll make a more elaborate twin. The Travel Blanket 2.0

But I don't know if it could ever really be as good as the original.
This blanket has so many memories and stories woven into it.
It's a different kind of scrapbook of my travels. A tangible and collaborative ongoing souvenir from so many of my wanderings.

I think I mostly love it simply because of that to be honest. 

Photos by the talented Meagan Abell

For The Brides

The Oversized Chunky Knit Sweater Shrug was one of my most popular designs from my first knitwear collection. Additionally, over the past two years, I've been so pleased to find that there have been several brides who have wanted to wear it on their wedding day! 
So I finally just decided to make a special listing for just that. For all you lovely gals who are newly engaged and soon to be married, this one's for you.  

You can now purchase The Wedding Shrug here!

Photos courtesy of Dylan and Sara from Liz and Jonny's stunning wedding.