Tag Archives: knitting

creative-hours

hi, perfectionism. thanks for coming, but i’ve got knitting to do. can we talk later?

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I had the opportunity to teach last week (in a creative journaling series), and although I didn’t feel excited to teach, the students and the creative process gave me a huge gift (I don’t know why I’m still surprised by that; teaching is always a gift): a reminder that perfectionism is the enemy of good work, of learning, risk-taking, exploration, and quite frankly the enemy of happiness & fun.

I taught papercutting! This is my fancy M.
I taught papercutting! This is my fancy M.

It’s good to have high standards and good taste, but putting your inner critic into place – not powerful enough to derail you, but not so weak that you produce crappy work – is such a huge challenge. It’s a challenge that I’m starting to understand might be a thing for the rest of my life, something I might never outgrow.

And it’s funny, as a parent, to see how early the struggle can start. For example: my son knows how a particular puzzle is supposed to go together. But getting all the pieces in is difficult. Some days he’ll work at it patiently until he figures it out. Some days, he’ll turn a piece around just twice before crying and running away.

Knitting is (one of) my puzzle(s) right now, and I’m trying hard not to lose my temper with it. My current recipe for success? Er, recipe for not crying and running away? Start again on something easy, and focus for a while on how satisfying it is to have inch after inch of knitting drop away from my needles.

creative-hours

Baby Sweaters x3

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Malabrigo in color Impressionist Sky (pretty sure)

Let me tell you which baby sweater pattern has been getting a lot of use at my house lately: Tiny Rocky Coast by Hannah Fettig.

Now that the baby shower is over, I can show you the finished products! I knit one for each of my sisters-in-law, and one for a good friend. I knit one each month, in fact, in October, November, and December, from Malabrigo I had in stash (pretty proud that this is in line with my Make More with Less theme for the year).

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Malabrigo color Stonechat

The buttons, it turns out, are what makes a tiny sweater unbearably cute for me. They can make it look pretty or professorial. Tiny Rocky Coast doesn’t call for buttons, but for a 3-month-old, I really feel that it is more practical to have them.  ErikSweater1

Let me also say that I am sick, exhausted, and can’t think of anything else relevant to say about these projects. So here are some more pretty photos, and I will see you on the flip side (of whenever I feel better). CharleneSweater6 CharleneSweater2 CharleneSweater1

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Malabrigo in color Eggplant

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Little Bit of Good

I was standing in the check out line at the grocery store last night. A cookie pack in my hand was my contribution to the lock-in at my local yarn store (Stitching Memories).

Lock-ins occur one night a month and consists of  knitting, eating, laughing, and sharing – while knitting with fellow knitters, of course. It’s a great time to escape the grind and connect with fellow pickers and throwers.

As I was waiting to pay for my pack of cookies, the gentleman in front of me was getting ready to pay for his groceries. When the total cost of his groceries was tallied, he was short. I looked away, thinking that by looking away I would ease his discomfort at having to go through his groceries and figure out what to leave behind and what to keep. Inside I was thinking “I’ll do this man a favor by acting as if nothing is happening. This will make him feel less uncomfortable.”

The process of picking out one item at a time and re-tallying his total went on for 5 or 6 items when the lady behind me spoke up and said “Excuse me, but how much are you short?” The gentleman said “about twenty – two dollars” at which the lady replied “I’ll pick it up.” The gentleman expressed his thanks and the lady picked up the rest of the tab. I could have said things like “but you were buying chips and lemonade mix and things that aren’t essential, so why should I help?” or “everyone has hard times and you have to learn how to live with whatever is given to you,” but honestly… the lady behind me got it right.

She showed compassion without judgment. Every time I think of compassion lately, I also think of all the news stories of so many refugees fleeing such horrific living situations that they are willing to risk their lives to escape. That’s a fast track to becoming totally overwhelmed with the needs of so many. So the subject of charity has been swimming and swarthing (that’s a made up word, by the way) in my head and heart.

I have come in contact with so many knitters that knit for others, out of pure compassion.  Making hats for preemies, for instance. I recently ran into someone who knits blankets and outfits for stillborn babies in the hospital. Western Michigan University has a special scholarship program for kids who have graduated from foster homes. That may sound great, but these kids are basically too old for foster care and have not been adopted – so a local group knits items to give to these young adults for Christmas each year. There are so many ways for knitting to touch the lives of others.

I have been knitting several items for a nonprofit organization that provides coaching and support to missionaries. This organization (Coaching Mission International) has a fundraising Christmas Bazaar each year. I have a lot of time to knit in the evenings so why not use some of my knitting time to turn yarn into items to donate for this cause? So here are a few of the items that I made this year:

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And as I keep stitching and shopping and moving through my life, I’m going to keep working on this compassion thing and hopefully get it right more often.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

creative-hours

in progress: first magazine submission!

Remember when I told you I had a new pattern in the works, my first submission for a magazine (the super adorable Knittin’ Little)?

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Here is the yarn – Sueno from Skacel. It’s extremely springy & soft, with a 20% bamboo viscose, and the rest superwash wool (perfect for Littles!). I enjoy knitting with it in the extreme. I have a hunch it would make beautiful cables, too.

There is a little problem with the colors as a group – have you spotted it yet?

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Yep, the blue and purple are actually pretty close in value. It’s a lot more obvious in grayscale.

bandwblue-yarn-1bandwpurple-yarn-1My design incorporates these two shades into a stranded colorwork band, and the two colors just aren’t different enough to look good. When you get yarn support from a company, you don’t always have full choice of what gets sent to you. This yarn, while a very pleasant surprise in terms of how it feels and knits, meant I had to do a bit of trouble-shooting in order to meet my submission deadline.

Turns out, I love that part, too. An excuse to sit on the couch and knit for six hours straight? And watch movies? And think about stranded colorwork variations the whole time? It’s my jam.

Oh, wait? Are you curious about the solutions I came up with? I hate (love) to leave you in suspense, but… I’ll tell you soon. Same time, same place.

creative-hours

slow fashion October: WORN

I just wrote the words waist-boob problem? in my sketchbook, which is newly full of sweater ideas, some of which may be suffering from bad proportions at the moment. So, yes, my friends, my experience designing a pullover for Knittin’ Little has energized me.

Also, my beautiful, wonderful, amazing toddler has decided to start sleeping through the night again (knock on wood). So, while I’m feeling like an energetic mother, let’s talk #slowfashionOctober for kids. Karen‘s prompt this week is basically my manifesto for my son’s wardrobe:

second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

As much as I hate a top 10 list, I really, really love handmade things in a little kids’ handmade wardrobe, and I have made a lot of terrible mistakes in taking care of those things. I hope a list saves you a little time and trouble. Here are the things that are dead simple, make my life easier, and enable my habit of #slowfashionbabies:

1. In the summertime, let your baby eat while wearing just a diaper. Or, at the very least, take off the handknit sweater before feeding.

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2. If your baby is prone to spit up, just keep a bib on him when he’s wearing a handknit sweater. A friend made some like these adorable ones for her kiddo, and they are, well, freaking adorable. And can be easily made from thrifted t-shirts or scraps or whatever fits your slow-fashion mandate.

3. If you suspect your baby has a blowout poopy diaper… take the handknit sweater off and place in a safe place before changing. Do not ask how I know this.

4. I don’t worry about superwash v. non-superwash when knitting for my Little. I look for yarns that don’t pill and will be long-lasting, regardless of fiber content. We just have a house rule: all sweaters for all ages are washed by me, because my superpower is remembering which things need to be hand washed. I have also started to make the effort to use these labels in every finished piece to prevent disasters. Or, you could order your own custom labels. I keep intending to do that, but, you know… toddlers/work/etc.

5. When do I handwash things? It sounds onerous, right? Actually, no. I have one designated day when I bake bread and do laundry and sweep, etc. I keep a pile of sweaters to be washed (usually quite small, because if you take care, you don’t have to wash wool very often), and each week plop one into a sink of Soak right before I mix up the bread. By the time the bread is ready to rise, I can pop back to the bathroom and spread the garment out to block/dry.

6. Lengthen things. When I’m knitting a baby sweater, I add 1″+ to the length of the sweater body and sleeves. I can always turn up the cuffs until he gets older. So far, that’s meant he can still wear most of the 6-month sweaters at 21 months – he’s growing taller a lot faster than he’s growing wider. And knitting stretches beautifully to accommodate all kinds of widths. (Full disclosure: my tiny one is at the very bottom of the growth charts, so I’m not sure how much the success of this strategy is dependent on having a slow-growing babe.)

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On second thought, let’s call this my top 6 list, OK? If slow fashion can be about bucking trends, surely my post structure can follow suit.

Any other good ideas you want to send my way? I welcome them all! Especially as I’m mapping out my Christmas/winter wardrobe making!

creative-hours

Queue Review*

*idea of a queue review stolen from… Karen of Fringe Association, I think?

I’m entering that stage of the summer. You know, the stage of the summer where even thinking about knitting seems kind of… strange. So I thought maybe a queue review (queue is an awfully hard word to stop typing, don’t you think? queueueueueeue….) would bring back a little inspiration.

You know what, though? All my working through the Wardrobe Architect series makes me look at that list and feel… bored. It’s full of items that I’m not sure I will love love love.

Maybe that’s because it has an embarrassment of riches (87 items) on it?

Maybe it’s because none of the projects have pockets?

Maybe I feel I should be working on putting out my own patterns right now? Since that is, ostensibly, why this blog exists?

It did inspire me to do 2 things, though:

1. Cast on Hitofude in this lovely silver Cascade Heritage Silk

2. Finish the Deco cardigan. Yes, I know, I’m the one who made the decision to frog and re-knit a different size. But damn, knitting it a second time is just not as fun.

deco_cardiganI’m going on vacation soon, and so help me, the Deco Cardigan will be done and in my bag (the bag of things to wear, not the one of things to knit).

 

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The projects just kept flowing (pun intended)

Artesian: relating to or denoting a well, drilled perpendicularly into water-bearing strata lying at an angle, so that natural pressure produces a constant supply of water with little or no pumping.

Synonym: flowing  (Google search)

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Yes, Romi Hill’s Artesian shawl is just that:  flowing asymmetrically off the shoulders to points.  What a brilliant pattern and yet so simple and quick to knit – just knits, yarn overs, and short rows.  Time from start to finish?  A neat 10 days of evening knitting.

So much fun… I knit three in a row. A knitting record!

The first creation, intended for my sister Diane, was knit from Madelinetosh lace weight, color Spectrum (the blue above).   I tried it on, wore it to a dinner …. I LIKED it a lot!!!  I never considered myself a shawl-bearing person but its beauty and simple elegance captured me.

The shawl insisted on staying with me.  We had multiple discussions – it was supposed to be a gift! – but the shawl would not relent.

No sweat. I had purchased 2 skeins of Spectrum and used only one.  I could just knit a replica for my sister.  But where is that other skein you ask?  Hmmm…. if only I could find it.  BUT… 2 partial skeins of Madelinetosh Wicked (the deep purple above) peaked out from my stash so…  a second Artesian was born.

Then the missing Spectrum reappeared on the floor behind my knitting chair while vacuuming (yes, cleaning does have some benefits).  The first Spectrum shawl was so lovely and I knew my sister would love one just like it.  I checked in with the original and indeed, it was adamant about remaining with me.  So a third Artesian shawl was born.

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New technique learned:  Russian splicing.

When I first started knitting with lace,  I joined new yarn by knotting it to the last of the old yarn.  I couldn’t figure out how to hide the join – with heavier weight knits I would knit the 2 yarns simultaneously for a while, then weave in the ends. Hiding the ends in an open lace pattern is much more difficult.

Then I came upon Russian splicing.  This method looked a little unnerving at first, but I bought  a sewing needle with a sharp end and a large eye and found that if you slightly untwist the yarn as you thread the needle through the strand, you end up with a fabulous, strong join that is imperceptible.  Nice! You also have to make sure you thread a long piece of strand through.  If it’s too short, then it is not strong and gives way. Give it a try!

For visual learners:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0103qC6GH8I

For written instructions:

Increases- Techniques with Theresa: Knitty Spring+Summer 2010

http://knitty.com/ISSUEss10/FEATss10TT.php

creative-hours

the calculus of a naptime

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Packing the stroller – 20 minutes
Walking to the park – 30 minutes
Playtime at the park – 30 minutes
Snacktime at the park – 20 minutes
Walking home – 30 minutes
Filling each little belly with blueberries and scrambled eggs when we arrive home – 30 minutes

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Time each child napped after our marathon morning? 2.5 hours, my friends! I cleaned the studio and managed to start cutting out a new tunic/dress/thing. And then I knit a little. I’m not sure what kind of calculus I would need to figure out the mental value of that creative time, but boy, that number is high.

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Deco Cardigan – designed by Kate Davies. Silky Wool from Elsbeth Lavold.

 

A baby sitting in a pile of fall leaves holding a rake, wearing an argyle sweater and wearing a handknit hat

Smells Like Fall Spirit

Good morning, knitters of the world. I am very excited to make my first post on my fancy new website. At the moment, the smell of wood smoke is drifting across the yard, and the breeze this morning was bitterly cold.

So, of course, I layered up in multiple hand-knit sweaters and a hat before I left for work.

Hendreary (by Ysolda Teague) knit in Madelinetosh Graphite and Thoreau
Hendreary (by Ysolda Teague) knit in Madelinetosh Graphite and Thoreau

What’s better than an Acer covered by a super-chunky Aidez, and topped with a Hendreary in Madelinetosh?

Maybe a cute baby in a pile of fall leaves (wearing a hand-knit hat, of course).

A baby sitting in a pile of fall leaves holding a rake, wearing an argyle sweater and wearing a handknit hat
Pebble | Cliff Hat knit in scraps of sock yarn