Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Falling Down

       End of Summer.  The time when I find myself reflecting on all I did not knit.  Once the air turns cooler I will eagerly dig out earthy wool and sweater patterns, but for now, as the last few days of Summer slip away, I see the skeins of linen and cotton, bamboo and slubby silks sitting on the shelf and I sigh a little sigh of defeat.
       These were meant to be tanks and tees and camis by now.  With Spring in full bloom I scoured the local yarn shop for just the right materials to inspire Summer knitting.  I dreamt of lazy days watching the children play while lacey socks flew off my needles and Christmas knitting was barely a glimmer on the horizon. 
       I forgot there would still be a tiny new baby who would want to be held, nursed, changed, and bathed.  I forgot there would be three meals a day to cook for children home on vacation, plus snacks, laundry, the finding of lost things, and the refereeing of fights.  In short I forgot that life has a pesky way of eating up my paltry bit of free time and I don't have a full time nanny or personal chef.  Oops!

       Realizing these beautiful materials will still be staring me down through a long, cold New England Winter would in the past have been a reminder of knitting opportunities lost, but I'm trying to just be grateful for such an abundant stash.  I'm telling myself this means I'll have less yarn to purchase next Spring....Yeah, I'm not buying that last part either.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


My life right now is a series of stacks and lists. Stacks of books waiting to be read. Lists of tasks waiting to be checked off. Stacks of laundry waiting to be put away. Lists of groceries waiting to be bought. Stacks of clothes waiting for my postpartum body to deflate. Lists of movies waiting to be seen. Stacks of boxes waiting to be unpacked and thank you notes waiting to be written. And of course lists of of knitwear waiting to be knit, but something else has been demanding my attention. Namely keeping this little "finished object" content.

  This is a relatively easy task as he happens to be one of the most serene and easy going babies I've ever met, never mind given birth too. Maybe it's being the product of two experienced parents who spend much of our time together being generally serene and content. Maybe it's being blessed with so many hand knits at an early age. Either way, he's beautiful and mellow and worthy of the abundance of attention bestowed on him by all members of the household.

If I've been quiet here in recent months it's in large part due to my desire to not post until I've chipped away at my list of WIPs. That and the fact that I was newly married and taking part in blending a rather large family and moving house and having a baby. Or as a friend recently noted, basically cramming every trial by fire for a married couple into one year. Hey, we're late bloomers and time's a tickin'!

Sooo....what's off the needles? Let's start small. plain jane toe up socks based on Wendy Johnson's formula posted at the Wendy Knits blog. The most significant part of finishing these? They're all for me! I haven't knit socks for myself in about 5 years and I was only inspired to cast on these because I discovered a hole in the heel of my favorite pair. I also dyed the self-striping yarn myself using good ol' Koolaid and vinegar as a mordant and couldn't bear to part with it.

Next up, I finished the Vitamin D cardi which does exactly what I hoped it would, worked nicely over a pregnant belly and also provides some drapey coverage for a nursing Mom. It also reinforced my affection for Silky Wool. If this yarn is ever discontinued I will hold a candlelight vigil.

  And then I finished Cobblestone for my husband.  He immediately announced that I had finally presented him with his first sweater and we were at last officially married. As anyone familiar with "the sweater curse" can tell you, he's not that far off.

Then I decided to conquer my lace-phobia and cast on Ishbel in Twisted Fiber Arts Octarine. This was a Mother's Day present for my Mother In Law which had the added bonus of saving my sanity while on partial bed rest in the last few weeks of pregnancy. I couldn't do much, but I could count rows and stitches!

  Last, but not least came phase 2 of conquering my fear of lace.  I finished the Monkey Socks designed by Cookie A and available online at Knitty.  I have for some reason been calling these Pomotamus Socks which is a completely different pattern.  Sorry, mommy brain in effect.  In fact I completed these in the hospital a day after giving birth.  My husband joked that I would now have to go home a day early as I had run out of knitting.  We laughed, but I was home in my own bed by the next morning, due in part to my aversion to hospitals and...I needed to cast on some new socks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Silencing The Screamers

There's been many debates through the years that have played out in the knitiverse.  Circulars or straights? Seamless or seamed? Organic or acrylic? Is your knitting art or craft?  Do you knit for love of the process or product? Does declaring your work "Not your Grandma's knitting." make you hip and progressive or a short sighted ingrate? (In the interest of full disclosure I would have to say circulars, seamless, organic, craft for me, art for a rare few, both, and the latter.)

The Land of Lost Knits
On the matter of how many WIPs (Works In Progress) are acceptable and how one decides which WIP will become a FO (Finished Object) first, the choices are left largely to the individual knitter without judgement or condemnation.  Even the most monogamous of knitters can come down with a mild case of Startitis on occasion.  Years ago I was listening to a podcast, I believe it was either Craftborg or SSK, I confess I'm not sure which, and the co-hosts were discussing how they like to work on "the screamers." They defined screamers as those projects which demand your attention and cry out to be worked on at any given time. In the past I've heard of knitters who only have one project on the needles at a time, but I don't believe I've ever actually met one. I've also heard of knitters that keep a log of their WIPs with a set schedule of which projects will be worked on certain days of the week. Neither option sounded like much fun to me.  I fully embraced the concept of giving my fickle attention to the squeakiest wheel in my knitting bag, casting on whatever and whenever.  No limits. No deadlines.   So here we are all these years later and how's that working out for me? Have you seen my updated sidebar of WIPs? I'm sure what's most amusing to my husband is how incomplete it is.  I've left off all the small unfinished objects still lurking in drawers and cupboards.  He knows where the bodies are buried.

Two recent events have caused me to reconsider.  First was my decision to cast on a pair of socks for a friend and let her know that some lovely, silky, stripey socks were forthcoming. Do you know what happens when I knit a pair of socks with even a flexible self-imposed deadline?  I finish a pair of    *$%#  socks, That's what happens!  Brilliant.  The final confirmation came for me shortly after this...
The most important work in progress

Sublime Yarns, Little Captain
Cableman from book 8
The hubby and I began day dreaming and planning even before the wedding, but thought, "If it happens it happens and if it doesn't... life will still be wonderful, but wouldn't it be nice, but let's not get too excited.  I mean we're no spring chickens and it probably won't happen...can't happen, but if it did....can you imagine?"  Then whammo! Two months of trying and convincing myself that we were just setting ourselves up for disappointment and there it was.  Two faint lines on a home pregnancy test and life changes in an instant.  Here comes the son.  All of a sudden I had a brand new deadline.  A certain amount of time and blue yarn to tackle with all these cute little baby knits just flying off my needles. They're quick, they give me the chance to tackle new techniques on a small scale and I am focused. I had forgotten how helpful that last piece of the equation can be.

Newly inspired I pulled out all those lingering FOs.  I will finish these off one by one.  I have declared socks and travel knitting exempt, but I will tackle the rest one at a time and I will take back the knits!!!  In the spirit of a previous KAL (Knit Along) of several years ago, "Naked Sticks by 2006" I tried to come up with a catchy title for my belated New Years resolution, but the best I could do was "WIP it out in 2012" which,  A) doesn't rhyme and B) runs the risk of attracting a very different following than the one intended.  I guess I'm just going to put my head down and get this done.  If you'll excuse me I must tend to my knitting.

Vitamin D Cardigan in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Casting On

So what else have I been up to?  Let's see....
Ah, yes.  I got married.  After saying never again I found someone who made me reconsider.  Or rather, re-found someone.  Our Mothers were coworkers and friends when we were still in utero.  I arrived first.  He showed up six weeks later.  We went to each other's birthday parties, Halloween parties (I was Princess Leia.  He was C3po) and we stayed aware of each other's lives via our Mothers.

                                                                            Something transformative can happen with time, maturity, hard life lessons and years of reflecting on what's missing in life and what you wish it looked like.  If you're very brave or blissfully ignorant and naive or a bit of all three, one day you wake up and life looks something like this.
In anticipation of this day I decided to cast on something special.  Something delicate and ethereal.  Something complicated that would keep my hands busy in the days leading up to our wedding, but if you've ever planned a wedding you know there is PLENTY to keep you busy.  Especially when you and your beloved are also blending a family and raising eight children together.

Needless to say very little progress was made on what was supposed to be a wedding shawl.  The pattern is Kiri by Polly Outhwaite from All Tangled Up and the yarn is Aloft from Knitpicks in the color Sky.  I've wanted to knit this pattern for so long and I do love it, but the process is far from relaxing.  At least at this point in my life.  Every time I vow to take it up again I live in dread of that moment when someone distracts me or bumps my chart keeper or just looks at me sideways and suddenly my stitch counts are off.  I'm lace phobic.  I'll work it out and overcome my fears and this may be finished in time for our fifth anniversary.    
In fact I have a strategy to move beyond my lace phobia.  Five years ago when the baby who is no longer a baby was born, I posted about my affection for self-striping sock yarn hand dyed by Meg at Twisted Fiber Art .  At that time she was selling through Etsy and with one of my orders she included a sample skein of superwash sock yarn in a colorway called Octarine.  I fell in love with the colors, but then life happened.  We moved house, money was tight, calamity struck and as it turns out I am not one of those people who can heed Elizabeth Zimmermann's advice to "Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."  Still, I held onto that sample Skein.  So here we are in better times and a quick search turned up Meg's new site.  Lo and behold she still offers Octarine in many more styles.              

I ordered the colorway in Evolution which is made up of very long, gradual transitions in a fingering weight silk/merino blend. I think knitting up something lacey in a heavier weight than Aloft is going to build a little confidence and set me on my way.  I had already purchased Ysolda's Ishbel pattern before ordering this yarn, but was inspired after seeing Pearl Power's Ishbel in the same yarn posted on Meg's site.  Can yarn bring you closure?  It may sound hokey, but having this yarn turn up on my doorstep after all these years was symbolic for me. It took us a long time to finally come together and I wish it could have been sooner, but timing is everything.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aaaaaannnnd We're Back.

Life is funny and not always “funny-Ha! Ha!” It’s been far too long since I last posted, but in that time I’ve learned so much and life has changed so much since that inaugural post on April 21, 2005. After a difficult marriage, painful divorce (a phrase which now sounds ridiculously redundant,) time as a single mom of seven, the long illness and eventual death of my Father, and
now, miraculously, finding myself in a happier place it’s time to review what we’ve learned class…

1. It’s a cliché, but it’s true, time goes faster as you get older.

2. Children have their own path in life which they generously let you be a part of for a time.

3. You never fully comprehend how horrible your circumstances have become until you come out the other side and look back on it from a safe place. This is probably for the best or you’d never find the strength to push on and get to aforementioned safe place.

4. If someone you love continually tells you in word and/or deed that you’re worthless and can’t do anything right, at some point in the journey, no matter how strong you think you are, you start to
believe them.

5. If someone you love tells you you’re worthless and can’t do anything right it’s probably time to find someone else to love….like yourself.

6. Among friends and family who truly love you, no one will be harder on you than you. They
just sometimes have an easier time being honest with you than you do with yourself.

7. Sometimes when a wrecking ball hits your life it clears the way for something beyond your wildest dreams.

8. Men who know how to cook AND do laundry and are happy to do so without complaining or expecting a medal- They do exist.

9. It’s possible to love someone and wish them all the best and not particularly like them very much.

10. I have given more than I should have, put up with more than I care to admit, but received far more than I deserve. It all balances out in the end.

11. I am blessed.

12. I am blessed.

13. I am blessed.

Well that was heavy.  Now that we’re all caught up, How about some knitting???

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Babes in Toyland

Ah, the twists and turns of parenthood. Someone threw out the handbook and the road map and I didn't get the memo. It happened to fashion. Wear white whenever the spirit moves you and pajamas are now suitable outerwear. It happened to social discourse. The checkout girl can now ask me if the weather's still crap and talk my ear off about her equally crap boyfriend. But parenting? I have my common sense and gut maternal instincts to fall back on, but otherwise I'm improvising here without a net.

I've been parenting for just under two decades, but T. Berry Brazelton doesn't tell you how to maintain a cheery, festive environment for the first Thanksgiving when Mommy and Daddy have two households. Or how to entertain yourself on weekends that the kids are away visiting aforementioned daddy and you finally have a few hours to fall apart in private and maybe squeeze in a pedicure.

I had a long list of parenting goals during my first pregnancy at the ripe old age of 21. Some were lofty and slightly unrealistic. My children would not eat Happy Meals. My children would not play with Barbies or war toys. My children would have days full of nurturing teaching moments and never get a sunburn or need stitches.

Nineteen years later my parenting goal boils down to, I will not arse this up! Once upon a time I met the babysitter with detailed lists of rules and regulations. Now on those rare occasions when I find a babysitter, I leave emergency contact info, a bedtime and the direction that I'd like everyone to still be alive when I return and not in need of therapy, babysitter included.

A friend of mine recently told me that her therapist was helping her get in touch with her "inner goddess." This is a working mother of three that seems to hold it all together with poise and enviable ease. All I could think is that the carrot of feminine goddess hood has been crammed down my throat. Maybe I need to get in touch with my inner humanity? Maybe I need to roll around in the dirty laundry which threatens to overtake me and eat a twinkie and trust that there are other women within primal screaming distance that work just as hard to create a sanctuary for the ones they love more than life in this glorious, all too human, domestic maze.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ravelry Killed The Knit Blog

A few days ago on Ravelry I received an e-mail from someone asking me to please update my knitting blog.

Knitting blog? What knitting blog? I have a knitting blog??!

So I zipped over here to check my last posting date and was horrified to see "May 2007". I am dangerously close to one year with no posts, no pics, Nada.

The idea of covering everything I've done for a year is way too daunting, especially since it's all been lovingly cataloged over at Ravelry. Ah, Ravelry. Where I can search for a yarn in my stash and find page after page of patterns appropriate for it. Or better yet, new and ingenious modifications for patterns already on my shelves. *sigh*

Clearly, what little computer time I get has been eaten up by my new Ravelry obsession and if this is wrong, I don't want to be right. But the least I can do is offer an update from my last post. The somewhat cowl is frogged. I love this Andean Treasure yarn, but I know now from experience that 100% alpaca is deliciously soft to the hand, but itchy, itchy, itchy everywhere else. This is destined to be a cardigan at some future date.

The Greek Pullover is done, but no pics yet. I'll get right on it.

Marylin's not so shrunken cardi is done as well and it's by far a favorite. I love the Silky Tweed I knit it up in and would definitely use this yarn again. It wasn't the most exciting thing I've ever knit when it was on the needles, but it's a great, basic cardigan that I wear at least once a week. Again no pics of that. Sorry, I'll get right on it.

I do have a bonus FO. I finished Sahara.
Ta Da
I originally added short sleeves, but didn't like the way they flared out. I ripped them back and re knit the edging again with artyarns beaded silk. The body was knit in a Classic Elite cotton/tencel blend called Premiere. I knit the bottom edging in Premiere as well so I wouldn't end up with a big beige stripe across my hips.

Last, but not least, I'm still slogging through the Cathay Boat neck Aran. I say slogging, because the pattern requires more time and concentration than I can typically muster on any given day. How many years has it been on the needles now? 2? 3? I'm on the last sleeve and then I just have to knit up the neckline and seam. The only thing that keeps me going is seeing how beautiful it looks already in it's unfinished state. Well, that and Ravelry. Whenever I slow down I just log on and check out other Ravelers finished boat neck arans and take up my needles again.