It’s the New Year, and I Always Get Super Reflect-y.

Four years ago, I was only dreaming about a beautiful life. I wanted to make lovely things that served a purpose, and purposeful things that turned out to be lovely. I wanted to develop satisfying skills. I wanted to make fresh bread daily, write letters, and longed for my best friends to live nearby. I wanted to make art telling stories that helped people recognize the world around them.

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Screenshot! See? Almost those exact words. (incidentally, that was also the year I completed my first hand-knit sweater!)

Now, I do make lovely things, and useful things that are lovely. I’ve learned a lot of satisfying skills, from letterpress to papermaking, from designing knitting patterns to changing blowout diapers. I make fresh bread weekly. I forgot about writing letters, but I spend time with my baby and my husband outdoors every week. We’ve made some incredible friends nearby and are intentional about seeing those who are far away. I not only make art helping people recognize the world around them, my actual job is to provide resources for those who want to make their own art, so the love is spread even further.

I’m so grateful. I’m so excited for the next year, even the daily grind type of thing, like trying to keep the floor underneath the high chair clean (good luck, future me).

And I’m wishing you a wonderful, satisfying year. I hope it’s the best (and most knitting-filled) year yet.

purpleandyellowshawl

Chocolate Chai

While Mackenzie is using her acute night vision to work on her lace and bead shawl, I have created a new beverage – well it may not be new but it’s new to me and I thought it up this morning when I got out of bed: Chocolate Chai.

bengalspice

I bought some Bengal Spice Chai tea and found that if I heat up milk in the microwave and steep a chai tea bag I have chai tea made easy.  When I woke up this morning, I thought “why not add chocolate to the chai tea?”  So I mixed up some powdered sugar with a little cocoa powder and added it to the steeped chai tea.  Voila!  My tummy was very happy this morning.

My brain is always thinking of ways to change something.  I never follow a recipe, I try recipes never tried before on company (they are, of course, improvised out of the gate). This also holds true for my knitting.

One example is this Color Affection scarf I knit for Mackenzie.

purpleandyellowshawl
Color Affection by Veera Valimaki in sock weight yarn

The pattern called for changing the colors every other row, but I found that my colors were similar enough that they blended too well and the striping effect was lost. I knitted 4 rows for each color before changing to make the stripes more distinct. It was a small change that made a big difference.

Flexibility and learning skills that help the execution of my ideas are my latest goal. I just finished watching a Craftsy class that was fabulous: Sweater Surgery. I feel so excited to think that the sweater that I have almost completed for my son Aaron will fit him in the end – regardless of how it fits him initially.

blockingsweater

The problem with knitting for others is the fit issue. I took measurements prior to starting the project, but failed to obtain all the ones I needed – part of the learning process. Because of this class, I now know how to lengthen or shorten, widen or narrow an item after it has been completed. When I finish assembling this sweater, I will post the pictures of how it fit initially and then keep you posted on the adjusting event. Now I can look forward to Christmas, and the anxiety cloud that follow me wherever I go is much smaller. I think another cup of chocolate chai is in order.

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Intoxicated

I thank my daughter, Mackenzie, for allowing me to be part of Rain and Moon. I’m not sure if I’m the rain or moon, but I am, with great pleasure, part of the environment.

My knitting life was born three years ago. I had completed a stint of 22 years of homeschooling my three children while working evening and weekend shifts in the hospital as an RN. Those years were packed full of teaching, nursing, being a wife and mother with no time for the development of hobbies. My one side interest was flower gardening. (I found this very therapeutic since the children soon discovered that if they came out in the garden to ask a question or need help, they were put to weeding. Thus, small amounts of quiet time were captured in my too-busy-life.)

When my youngest son , Avery, was a Junior in high school, I realized that I could think beyond hospital work and imagine going into other avenues of medicine. This brought about 2 years of nurse practitioner training in my early 50’s. This in turn took me to an 8-5 Monday through Friday job with evenings and weekends free. I had no hobbies other than gardening. I felt many losses but also joy – children in college or graduated and doing well. My son, Aaron, said “Mom, you need a hobby.” I joked and said the first hobby I had in mind was developing a tolerance for alcohol. (I am proud to say I can now drink 1/2 beer with success.) My daughter, Mackenzie, said “I think knitting is for you.” She had decided to pick up knitting, and through watching you tube videos  became an accomplished knitter. She knit this pair of mittens for me and I found them truly enchanting.image image(1)

They are the warmest mittens I have ever owned. Their intricacy and beauty are beguiling. Every time I wear them I think of my daughter.

Learning to knit a pair of socks was my ultimate goal. My first project was a pair of felted slippers for my husband. These were a grand start because the felting hid all failures. A pair of socks was my next conquest with much assistance needed. Then lace knitting? Sure, why not? The Leda scarf followed.

Soon I found myself knitting this sweater for my mother – with massive revisions, of course. (I wanted to desperately make something for my mother, as she had devoted and still devotes so much time making quilts and food for others.)

Jali Cardigan by Pam Powers Knit with Sublime baby merino silk dk. 75% extra fine merino, 20% silk, 5% cashmere.
Jali Cardigan by Pam Powers Knit with Sublime baby merino silk dk. 75% extra fine merino, 20% silk, 5% cashmere.

Every evening now finds me anxious to get home from work and start on my next knitting project. The feel of the the yarn, learning about fibers, figuring out which one works best for the project at hand, and the feeling of my hands moving and swaying with yarn: slipping, looping, sliding….. the finished project, the smiles when something is given away…. I am intoxicated! Thanks Mackenzie – you were right. Knitting is for me. And my knitting tolerance far exceeds my alcohol tolerance.

I swear by my Clark's. You probably shouldn't wear your Gangnam Style socks to work, though, no matter how comfortable the shoes are.

Career Advice You Could Have Gotten From Your Mother

At my non-knitting workplace, we have a fabulous intern. She’s smart, motivated, and (best of all) she has no concept of what is possible and what is impossible, which means she gets a heck of a lot of big things done.

In any case, I found myself giving her ridiculous career advice last week.

“The important thing to remember is… always wear comfortable shoes.”

I swear by my Clark's. You probably shouldn't wear your Gangnam Style socks to work, though, no matter how comfortable the shoes are.
I swear by my Clark’s. You probably shouldn’t wear your Gangnam Style socks to work, though, no matter how comfortable the shoes are.

There was context. It makes sense to say it explicitly in a world that often disproportionately values how things look. But it was ridiculous, too. So I thought I would seize the momentum of feeling like a mom and introduce you to my own mother.

She knew the basics of knitting long before I was born, but has really started to find her feet in the last few years. She is also an adventurous knitter, and has the blessing of beginner’s mind. She’ll be joining us every few weeks, and I hope you enjoy her words as much as I do!