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December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

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“It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old.” (George Eliot)

December 22, 2006

Winners

Winners from THIS entry:

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Sallie & Stephanie

And the lucky winners will receive a knitted goody after the holidays!

(P.S. I'm keeping the names to draw from throughout the year . . . just because).

Happy Holidays everybody!

December 20, 2006

My 2006 in Images

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These images represent photos I took each month in 2006, beginning with the most recent month. Each photo is a symbol for me of something significant -- either something I've learned, mastered, felt, or experienced.

I've always thought it was more important to look at what was accomplished in the year than to make lofty plans as to what I'm going to "resolve" to do (or "not" do?) in the coming year. There is no way to predict what the future will bring and I refuse to make excuses for not achieving unrealistic resolutions at the end of the year. (Your mileage may vary and making resolutions might really work for you -- that's fine too!) If something's not working and I need to make a change, then I'll just do it . . . I won't have to ponder whether it will fit with what I've "resolved." I'll just DO it.

But, yes, I have some dreams for the future, and unlike resolutions, it's not in the form of a checklist; it's a rough map and I'm the cartographer. I believe that when you fix in your mind what you want, you will have everything you need.

December 19, 2006

Screw-ups

Yesterday I screwed up everything I touched. The last few days, I've been dealing with a lot of negative energy due to family issues. During times like that, I shouldn't try to post to my blog, upload photos or attempt to make plans of any kind. If you were on the receiving end of any of the massive screw-ups yesterday . . . I humbly apologize.

December 18, 2006

Future Knits - Cheryl Oberle Kimono Shawl

I've been intending to post this for over a month now and haven't had a chance, but blogging the phantom project list reminded me that I needed to do an entry for this future project. Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book is one of the first knitting books I purchased because I loved the Kimono Shawl pattern so much. I was a much less experienced knitter then and although I know that I don't yet have the skill (or patience) to knit even half of the shawls in this book, I might be able to do this one:

Kimono Shawl - Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls

Henry's Attic Cascade 100% Silk


Since I really wanted to use the hard-to-locate yarn specified in her pattern, I wasn't pushing this to the top of my "To Knit" list. However, I noticed that Spritely Goods carried other Henry's Attic products and Stephanie, the wonderful proprietor of Spritely Goods, notes on her site that she is sometimes willing to accomodate special requests. And, in my case, she did. (Thank you, Stephanie). The 100% yarn is amazing. I love the way the shawl in the photo drapes and seems to have movement, so there was no question I wanted a natural color 100% silk, although I fully intend to try other yarns with the same pattern (since I'm not one to knit only one of something anyway).

Check out some Kimono Shawls on Flickr

I'm recovering from a cold and feeling a little "off," and yet I'm oddly motivated to tackle a lot of unfinished business. I'm sure that my blogging over the next several days will reflect that.

December 17, 2006

Let Yourself Soar

We all have the power to reinvent ourselves at any time [via Keri Smith]

Reinvent

December 12, 2006

Finished Cowl (Last Minute Knitted Gifts)

It's an in-progress photo of a newly completed FO (finished object):

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I've wanted to knit the cowl ever since I purchased Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Sometimes the simplest things are the most classy and elegant. This cowl won't scream to be noticed, but it will be warm and luxurious.

Since it's a Christmas gift, I'm not modeling it for a photo. Right now it's blocking after a soak in Eucalan (some of the dye released, but not as much as I thought). I loved it before I gave it a bath but it's undergone an amazing transformation after its rinse-and-shaping session. I've shaped it into a taller cowl and it's amazing how magically even and pretty it makes my stitches look. Pre-blocking, my stitches looked uneven and scrunchy. I love the warmth and density of alpaca, along with the nice halo and the fine alpaca hairs that want to stick up.

For about an hour or so, I've been taking inventory of knitting projects that were gathering dust (literally) and rummaging through all my knitting bags to rescue stray projects. My swift and ball winder are getting some action today too.

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Everybody tells me that they would love to knit, but they don't have time. I look at people's lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding the bus each day? That's a pair of socks over a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl.
-Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

December 10, 2006

Why wool? And three years knitting

It was three years ago this week that I picked up needles and began teaching myself to knit.

December 2003


Three years ago, I checked out the knitting links a friend (and fellow knitting newbie) sent me. She pointed me to anything and everything online that I could use to teach myself to knit. At the time, I didn't know anybody who was a knitter and knew next to nothing about local yarn stores. (And, as luck would have it, the only yarn store I knew of at the time was going out of business). So I bought my first ball of yellow cotton dishcloth yarn and a set of size 8 straight aluminum needles at Wal-Mart. You all probably know the rest -- through the magic of the internet and the knitblog community, I was exposed to better tools and yarn; but it took the intervention of two longtime knitters (Mariann & Alisa) to convince me to branch out beyond garter stitch. After that, I fell even harder for knitting and grew to believe that I really *could* knit anything. By February 2004, Twisted Yarns opened and became my primary source for yarn, needles and notions. It was then that I discovered the joy of knitting with pure wool. I used to think that wool was old-fashioned and itchy, but in reality, it's nature's wonder fiber. Check these out:

Why Wool Doesn't Stink
"Wool is “hygroscopic,” which means it easily absorbs moisture. Although other natural fibers have this ability, none beats wool. Moisture passes through it and is released into the air instead of remaining on the skin"

Why Wool Still Works as an Outdoor Clothing Material
"Wool will only itch when you get to a certain temperature . . . If you're wearing wool in cold weather, you're not going to itch. It's only when the temperature rises that oils are released from the wool. That's what causes the irritation."

Why Wool?
"The high moisture and protein content of wool fibers gives wool carpet excellent natural flame resistance. Wool fibers will not support combustion and are difficult to ignite. In addition, they are self-extinguishable when the flame source is removed."

Why Use Wool for Diaper Covers
"At a microscopic level wool consists of a series of overlapping scales (called cuticles) which have a tendency to repel water droplets. This structure, in combination with a thin coating of lanolin (an oil secreted from the sheep's skin) causes water to run off the fibers."

Benefits of Wool
"Wool provides us with a personal environment that is health-enhancing because it is a natural fibre. Wool disperses moisture from our skin, provides even warmth and body temperature, resists flame and static electricity and helps to reduce the stressful noise levels that surround us every day."

Of course, I knit with and love fibers other than wool, but I lean heavily toward natural (animal and plant) fibers - silk, cotton, hemp, linen, alpaca.

After three years of nearly-nonstop knitting, I still consider myself a beginner -- an enthusiast rather than an expert. I would continue to knit even if I didn't have a blog, but I don't know if I'd blog if I didn't knit. Other than my passion for knitting, there's just not a lot to blog about. But on my three-year Knitaversary, anybody who leaves a comment on this entry through the end of the week will have a chance to win a special handknit prize.

WINNERS are HERE

December 09, 2006

Santa Fe Ruana

I was trying to make a decision about my Santa Fe Ruana when I came across this blog entry at January One. If you read it, you'll understand my reasons for abandoning the ruana. It wasn't the pattern (I still love it) but the colors I chose. While I love each of the colors of Manos del Uruguay individually, together they are not so compelling for me.

So yesterday, I exchanged the gorgeous multi-colored Woodlands colorway for the Brick that I am so in love with. The persimmon is amazing too, but I have tons of delicious orange in my wardrobe now.

Manos Del Uruguay

And, Ariann, I haven't forgotten you, but that unfinished ruana was weighing on me. Now I'm lightened -- excited! Ariann will be what I start before the year ends. Of course, there are many other possibilities for 2007:

Blue Sky Alpacas

KSH

December 05, 2006

Joyful holiday knitting

I'm allowing myself the indulgence of TINIEST little bit of gift knitting since I've made some progress on other things. Since I didn't set out to DO any gift knitting this year, it's turned out to be a sweetly relaxing activity instead of a stressful one . . . and somebody will have warm feet, another couple of people will have warm necks and perhaps somebody will have warm hands. It's a nice feeling to be un-rushed.

The tree is up and filled with our favorite ornaments and a couple dozen candy canes. I'm looking at it thinking it definitely needs some miniature handknitted ornaments and perhaps a cute garland next year. Right now a gorgeous yellow lab is asleep on her bed at the base of the tree. Tonight I'll be making my favorite guacamole for a celebration I'm attending where knitting is not only allowed but ENCOURAGED.

As a devastating 2005 flowed into a stress- and challenge-filled 2006, I'm thankful just to be here doing anything at all and I'm grateful for each deep, cleansing breath. I'm learning that I don't need to be crippled by worry (a former bad habit) and I don't need to question or excuse the good fortune that comes my way. I've noticed that most people go from one character-building experience to another and the only difference is the way we choose to approach it. So I've taken responsibility for my own perspective, my own choice to find the joy. In EVERYTHING.

And the knitting I've done this past year? It's been a blessing to be able to find calm and solace in it. What I hope for 2007 is that I can teach others how to knit and encourage beginners. I hope that's returned to me while I learn some new things of my own -- spinning, dyeing -- who knows what else!

Have any of you non-blogging knitters reading this right now thought about starting your own blog in 2007? Please do! Don't feel intimidated by what other bloggers or knitters are doing. It won't necessarily keep you from knitting, but it might make you think about it more and perhaps experience it differently. Try it.