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December 2009
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February 2010

A Case of the Smalls


After living in the land of giant knits (sweaters after sweater and then a large shawl) the need for smaller projects has taken over. Nutkin has been tucked in my purse, safe and cozy in one of Kim's darling (and useful) bags (my bag, however does not match my project). Poor little Nutkin is always ready for any amount of attention I can give, which only a little here and there. For some reason, the first leg of a sock seems to drag on and on, but after the heel is turned the sock seems to fly off the needles. Before you know it, the second sock has been started and is well on its way.


I'm still on the first sock, enjoying the pattern and the beautiful yarn and I've just started down the foot. The rest of this pair will go quickly now that Frida is finished. I'm not crazy about short rows for socks and Nutkin has a short row heel and toe. I'm doing my own thing and using my favorites. I do like heel flaps.

Many new (small) shawl patterns have crooked a finger, drawn me in, and with so many wonderful yarns at my disposal (stash!), it has been hard to decide which to knit first. The list is long, but I've narrowed down the next two.  

Casbahfromrachel TeresaC posted about Blue Monday which gave me the idea of having one blue project on the needles throughout 2010. A grrls gotta have something to shoot for and this sounds easy.  The first shawl, and first blue project, will be Milkweed in luxurious Casbah. I love the shades of blue in this yarn, a special gift from Rachel. It will feel so good, so warm, and so soft around my neck. Since I wear shawls year round and love small, lightweight shoulder shawls, this design should be a perfect project . Hopefully the pattern won't be too complicated for my brain to handle and I can cast on this weekend. 

Did you know you can sort your stash on RavelryRav_linkredyarnball by color? After I saw how much of my stash was blue I knew I could keep up with the challenge (and not buy much more).  But, I do love red, pink, brown and many other colors, so don't worry...I'll leave the total blue knitting to Teresa.

There is very good news from my cardiologist.  He said my heart is in excellent condition and the surgery was a success in all ways. After having valve and rhythm problems for most of my life, my heart is better than ever.

Too Much?

The meditative, almost hypnotic rhythm of garter stitch has proved to be restorative.  Going back to basics was a good way to feel good about my knitting, a good way to build confidence in my skills and a good way to let the process flow.

As happens often when I near the end of a project, a feeling of fear creeps in and I start second guessing what I'm doing, what's been knit.  Confidence dips, hopes fade and dread takes over.  Usually the feeling passes quickly as I look back at the many  successful projects knit over the years, but this time I nearly panicked. My emotions are often near the surface, worn on my sleeve, and sometimes it isn't  easy to calm down, abate the fear and move on.


Saturday afternoon, as I worked on Frida the fear struck because she looked like a huge, bigass blob in my lap.  The second skein of Turquoise Shepherd's Wool was almost gone.  OMG, do I need to buy even more yarn, is this shawl going on forever, are the tails more like tentacles, is this thing big as a blanket, (will it eat me alive)?!?


After pulling all 750+ stitches off the needles and trying it on, I thought it might be okay, but the fear was still strong.  I folded it up and tucked it into my knitting bag (it fills the whole thing up) and decided to asked the best knitting consultation group in the country, the SnB grrls.


Each grrl is an accomplished knitter and they all have large portfolios of finished projects. But, above all they are caring, honest, good friends. I knew they'd tell me what to do.  Shelley tried it on and I had to admit the shawl looked great. To a person they said it was perfect, it shouldn't be any smaller, and to finish it as it was. Later that night I put all the stitches back on the needle and knit to the end of the turquoise ball. Tonight I'll bind off while watching the movie Frida.  It will be the perfect ending for my trip back to the basics.

Smith and I thank you for the warm and heartfelt good wishes.  We feel very blessed to have many good friends and each other.



If we hadn't attacked the "best dessert ever" the minute it hit the table, you would see the raspberry sauce heart more clearly. This incredibly good flourless chocolate cake topped off a delicious dinner.  It was a wonderful meal, and a very special evening, to celebrate 30 years of being together. 


It's a wonder we made it this far, but we know we were meant to be together. From my point of view, through all our ups and downs (and we've had many), it has been a wonderful thirty years. Here's to 30 more!


Inspiration comes in many forms, whether pictures, words (written or spoken), patterns, or ideas from friends. Everything mixes together, bit by bit, like a good recipe, and with a dash of this and a handful of that, not too much effort is needed to create a one of a kind project. The biggest ingredient is time.

One piece of inspiration, which spurred my choice and helped named this shawl, was Barbara Kingsolver's new book, The Lacuna. Frida Kahlo is a large player in the story and the description of colors, textures, and art, along with Frida's spirit, fueled my imagination. The day before the "meltdown day" I visited Shelley in the LYS and told her of the imagined project. I just couldn't justify the purchase of more yarn, but knew the idea would eventually come to fruition.


But, once the meltdown, and the resulting intervention, come about Shelley, Cheryl and Smith urged me to follow through. They decided the best way for me to make it through this challenging time was a return to the basics and what better way than an elegant, simple garter stitch shawl?


Cheryl suggested a shawl inspired by Mustaavillaa, and her many beautiful garter stitch shawls, and since the yarn and colors had already been planted like seeds in my brain, it was easy to water and fertilize the new idea and make the first steps on the journey of renewed discovery, new pathways for my brain to engage in the process.

Cheryl Oberle's book Folk Shawls is full of basic, beautiful, elegant shawls, and Tehri used the Wool Peddler as the basis for her ruffled shawl. I also remembered seeing Kay Gardiner's Theri inspired shawl and searched through her archive to find it. The basis of Kay's shawls was Feather and Fan, a design to fit the shoulders more securely due to its longer tails.  Kay didn't knit the eyelet pattern, keeping the body in garter, but I went ahead and added the eyelet rows for a little interest. 


The original intent was for a ruffle in blue, but as I knit, I felt as if a little transition of color would be a good idea and three rows of blue were added followed by one last eyelet section.  The number of stitches has now been doubled to create the ruffled edge.  This shawl may now go on forever.

(More info on Ravelry)Rav_linkredyarnball

Year of Socks

After her favorite pair bit the dust, Kim declared this the "year of the sock". The horror of loosing a pair is inevitable no matter how many socks you have. Some yarns don't wear very well and even yarns that do wear out eventually. Over the last couple of years I haven't knit many socks…in fact, only six pair in total. The few have kept up with attrition, but since I wear hand knit socks daily, October through April, there could be trouble ahead.

Therefore, in solidarity with Kim, and being true to myself (simplicity and knitting in the moment), I'll be joining in. There will be no exact number, no deadlines, no must knit patterns--only joy in socks.

Alovely bagandnutkinsock

You'd think I'd learn, but once again I started something too complicated and quickly realized how impossible it would be to keep the pattern right. In self-preservation mode I made the switch to a pattern that had been in my queue for ever so long, Nutkin. It starts out with my favorite hemmed cuff and moves into an easy, graceful design. The pattern and the Fiber Optica sock yarn, Thailand, work together beautifully, with the bright bits of blue sparking up the olive brown background.  It makes for very entertaining knitting. 


While the Nutkin socks grow slowly (and the shawl more so -- details to come), I dream of the many possibilities residing in my fingering stash. After sorting and playing with the stash this weekend I cam across an already wound ball of Socks that Rock.  Long ago the tag was lost, but if memory serves, it is named for Cara's hubby, G.  The bright colors will brighten the dreary winter days.  The other two balls just might be Susan's Pieces of Eight baby socks for a co-worker who is expecting in June.  Thus, the year of socks begins.

At the Moment

If I made resolutions, my knitting resolution would be to follow my heart and knit what looks good at the moment. This year there will be no plan (at least I can't foresee one), no goal, no deadline. Whatever strikes my fancy will be the knit of choice.

Yarnformitts This philosophy was in action when I picked a new project from the stash. It wasn't long after finishing the first pair of Leafy Mitts, at the end of 2008, when a new colorway from Ruth enticed me to make another pair. Or, at least, purchase the yarn. The project had marinated for about a year, but had niggled at me often. I love the colors, and in this year of simple knits, I decided the time was right.


In the first attempt I made the mistake of starting the smallest pair. It was that discovery which put me over the edge and caused the melt down day. But, the next day, when leaving for work, I realized no portable project was on my needles. Not only do I like to knit for a few minutes at lunch, I believe in keeping a "just in case" project with me at all times. A small project in a pretty bag is tucked into my purse, ready at a moments notice. You just never know when you'll need to keep your sanity while in an unexpected waiting period.


With just a few minutes each day, and a couple of hours Sunday morning, the first mitt was finished. Loving the way the instant gratification felt I started the second mitt and had it finished before Sunday was over. There's something to be said for small project knitting.

Raveled HereRav_linkredyarnball

Melt Down Day

Last Saturday wasn't a good knitting day, nor was the day before, New Years Day. NOTHING knit in the last few months has been made without a major number of errors, without tons of frogging and redoing. Every little thing, even easy knitting has been hard won. After 5 restarts I finally gave up Beach Glass, frogged a simple mitt that was messed up, and in total discouragement kicked my knitting bag across the room. The only thing I have to show for it is a bruise on my shin. Smith was horror stricken when I vowed never to knit again.

The doctors had warned me, as had several friends, that healing from heart surgery was an emotional journey, and it has been just that. Some days I feel on the verge…the verge of tears, or anger, or frustration, or self pity, or depression and, usually, I let the feeling run its course and feel better by the next day. Saturday was a melt down day.

I left the house (in a bit of a snit) to do a little shopping and have lunch with Shelley. I knew she'd lift my spirits. After I left the house Smith called her, and in turn Cheryl, to let them know I was in crisis and needed an intervention. As I stood in Shelley's living room Cheryl called and, together, they sweetly, caringly offered the same advice…return to the basics, start simple and rebuild the pathways in the brain. It made sense, it renewed my resolve.  Shelley knew I had a simple project in mind and Cheryl suggested I follow MustaaVillaa'sRav_linkredyarnball lead and knit  a beautifully simple garter shawl.

While I didn't knit anything on Saturday, I did upright my knitting bag and reorganized it. The next day, after a little yarn shopping, I started the new shawl.  It's going to be really cool (and exciting), so stay tuned and see how it goes.