Thursday, September 29, 2005

Everybody's Doing It

I was feeling left out. As I visited blog after blog, I kept seeing it. There were chat rooms, discussion groups, and knitalongs all abuzz with questions about it: Which yarn should I choose? How many repeats should I knit? Which needle size makes the nicest fabric? Like a lemming, I had to cast on and knit it for myself. Here it is, almost done, just a few repeats and blocking to go. And isn't the prettiest Branching Out you've ever seen?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Kiss Your Cat

Yesterday was a sad day for me. A close friend of mine lost their father. Since my own father passed away very recently, this death sparked fresh feelings of loss enveloping me in waves. There were a lot of similarities between his father and mine - both were stubbornly proud men, battling terminal illnesses with a determined sense that they were capable of cheating the odds. Yet as days passed and turned into years, the endless struggles with the day to day reality of their situations changed each of them, a little at a time. Death furrowed it's lines, laying claim in grooves and trenches, etching its presence across their faces and their souls, where no wrinkles had been. I was not there the night my father died, so I did not see this with my own two eyes. But those that did observed a blessing that will stay with me forever...Those deep valleys marching across my father had gone, smoothed and filled with peace, at last.

I knit through the death of my father. 3:00 a.m. frequently found me tearful, hunched over double pointed needles wishing I could embrace him one last time. But for some strange reason I couldn't knit yesterday - Tom's death is affecting me in ways I don't fully understand. I know I feel older, introspective, and more conflicted by truth today. Is having lived a good life, enough? I don't know. What I am sure of, is that all life plays out moment by moment, and that you can't take for granted that you'll get another one. So, today, right now, make this very tiny moment huge - STOP, and hug and kiss your spouse, your partner, your family, and your friends...and don't forget your cat.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Are the Chairs Comfy?

My husband is a trooper. We just got back from a vacation trip to the Pacific Northwest and he cheerfully agreed to visit almost all of the yarn stores on my list. And the ones we didn't hit were because we ran out of time, not because he ran out of tolerance. He trailed after me as we browsed through three stores in Seattle, calmly waited reading knitting books in a great shop in Kent, tiptoed with me through a very odd store in Tacoma, sipped his coffee through a terrific store in Portland, and encouraged me to go back and buy that expensive scarf kit in a Victorian house in Eugene. He watched patiently as I endlessly compared yarns and answered sincerely when I asked for his opinions on colors for the millionth time. One of the measures of being a truly lucky woman - a husband who's reponse when told of another yarn store is to merely smile, haul out the map to navigate our way there, and ask...."Are the chairs comfy?"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Whoo Hoo!! It's Secret Pal 6 Time!!!!

1. Are you a yarn snob? I must confess, I am. There. It's out. I am sensitive to some wools, so usually try to stick with 100% merino or a wool/silk blend. I love alpaca, as well.

2. Do you spin? Crochet? I don't spin - yet. I can crochet, but I definitely prefer to knit.

3. Do you have any allergies? No real allergies, but some wools irritate my skin, so I have to do the "neck test" on them first before I buy!

4. How long have you been knitting? About two years.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? No, but the things that would be on it are: Knitting on the Edge, A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (B. Walker), and any books about lace.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Rain, vanilla, lavender.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? I love hard candy, especially anything sour. Chocolates, too!

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I enjoy pretty much anything crafty. I work with various metals forming jewelry, and also do stained glass as my main hobbies. I love beads and also am a scrapbooking junkie, although I don't complete very many pages. I just like to fondle all those neat papers and embellishments!

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? I love music, and listen to a variety of things. I enjoy mostly alternative, pop and new wave instrumental. Pretty much anything except hip hop/rap or country. Yes, I can play MP3s.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? I am always drawn to the earthy colors of nature - reds, golds, browns, olives and eggplant. I shy away from most primary and pastel shades.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I'm married to my high school sweetheart; currently no children. I have a Maine Coon kitty who's constantly proving that no matter how old he gets, he'll always be a two year old in terms of behavior.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know) If money were no object, I'd plunk myself down into an artist's community so I could be surrounded by creativity every day. I'd also love to travel more - there are so many places I want to see!

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? Koigu, Lorna's Laces, alpaca, silk, wool....almost anything! I am always on the lookout for new yarns from smaller distributors/farms.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I prefer natural fibers, so I stay away from acrylics and most novelty yarns. Although I like the finished product, knitting with cotton tires my hands, so unless a project strongly calls for cotton, I usually substitute another fiber. I'm also not a big fan of self patterning sock yarns (I never can get those patterns to quite line up!), although I do like some self striping yarns.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? Lace - scarves, shawls, etc.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Socks - small and satisfying.

17. What are you knitting right now? I have a lot of projects on the needles right now.... Branching Out, Opera Scarf and a felted Fair Isle bag are the three that immediately come to mind.

18. What do you think about ponchos? I've never knit one or worn one, but I am open to the idea.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? For me, it depends on the project. I am comfortable with either.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I'm not a big fan of metal needles unless it's sticky yarn (they're too slippery for me). I love rosewood, ebony or bamboo. I've never tried plastic needles.

21. Are you a sock knitter? Yes! Oh, I forgot to mention above, I've got Little Shell socks on the needles, too.

22. How did you learn to knit? I took a class at my LYS.

23. How old is your oldest UFO? Two years. A Fun Fur scarf started before I decided that I hated synthetic yarns.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? I'm a sucker for anything cat-related.

25. What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving.

26. Is there anything that you collect? Blown glass (Radko style) Christmas ornaments.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? None right now - I can't seem to choose!

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on? See Amazon list.

29. Any patterns you have been coveting, but haven't bought for one reason or another?? There are too many Fiddlesticks and Fibertrends lace shawl patterns I want to list - since I'm new to lace knitting - I want them all! ETA: I just saw Silvia Harding's Diamond Fantasy Shawl pattern - so pretty!

30. What are your foot measurements, and what kind of socks do you like? I wear a size 6 shoe, and prefer socks with at least a 6" cuff (rather than the short anklet variety).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

How Come It's Not Getting Any Longer?

Every knitter has that know the seems like you knit and knit and knit and there just doesn't seem to be any significant progress. On my needles right now is the
Opera Scarf from Blue Sky Alpacas. The alpaca & silk yarn is so soft and has the most beautiful sheen to it. And, the gals at Summer of Lace inspired me to try adding beads to my knitting, so I've jazzed it up with some delica beads.

I like how it's turning out, but between counting rows and counting s
titches to make sure my seemingly random pattern of beads stays exactly that random, this scarf is taking a very long time to complete. The pictures don't show the beads well - the finished product is wonderfully glimmery (is that a word?). It's a gift, so I hope ***** will love it!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It IS divine…

  1. of soul: relating to the soul or spirit
  2. temperamentally or intellectually akin: connected by an
    affinity of the mind, spirit or temperament

My first attempt at working with yarn was a disaster. I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet, so in my usual fashion, I signed up for a class. Sadly, I came home from that first class frustrated, dejected, and with hands so badly cramped they hurt for days. The yarn I’d so painstakingly chosen went into the back of my closet where it sat, forgotten for almost two years. I don’t really know what made me decide to give it another try. I think stubbornness, most of all. So, with newfound determination, I sat down and taught myself to crochet from lessons on the internet. Alas, even as my skill (and confidence) grew, my interest in crocheting waned. A fuzzy novelty scarf in a LYS came to my rescue – yes, Fun Fur inspired me to learn to knit. And much to my surprise, my first knitted swatch was lopsided, uneven…..and absolutely beautiful.

I’ve been knitting now for almost two years. I’ve graduated from novelty yarn scarves to intricate lace patterns crafted from luxury fibers. For me, knitting has grown from a mere hobby to a spiritual addiction. Some people remember where they were when significant events happened in their lives. I remember what I was knitting. As I knit, my emotions travel through my fingertips, across the needles and burrow themselves into the plies of my yarn. Each stitch hides a secret, holding fast its tale of how it was knit while I joyously waited for my nephew to be born, or while I couldn’t sleep charged with anxiety over a life changing decision, or while I wrapped myself tightly in memories after my father passed away. Each project tells a story of who I was at that moment and what was important to me, as my soul tangled with the stitches. Is knitting spiritual? For me, absolutely. In fact, it’s divine.