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July 26, 2009

I got back on the horse that threw me

. . . the horse called "Knitting"

Some of you more astute Ravelers (as well as a few of you on Flickr) might have noticed that I cast on and started a new project last week -- and I was really struggling with it. The struggle was entirely due to my choosing a pattern that would highlight the negative qualities of my knitting. While I was sharing my issues on Flickr and Ravelry, the designer contacted me with helpful suggestions (which I followed) but my unhappiness with my knitting persisted. Each time I sat down to knit -- fully intending to see it through to the end, I would feel a wave of nausea and dizzyness. So I decided that I was far too invested in it emotionally (and not in a good way) that I needed to completely unravel it, wind the yarn I'd used and return the unused balls. Continuing the project would have taught me nothing -- and it wasn't at all FUN.

I bought a new pattern and new yarn and I'm playing it safe. Even the pattern -- from Knitting Pure and Simple -- promises to be just that. I even chose a natural-colored yarn, demonstrating an uncharacteristic lack of adventure. I did, however, choose the buttons that charmed me the most:

Buttons.jpg
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

The yarn, if it was edible, would be delicious; the color is even called "Ice Cream"

Summer_Cardigan.jpg
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

It's Spud & Chloë Sweater, a wool and organic cotton blend. I absolutely LOVE it. It's a true worsted weight too -- not too light or too heavy. I'm already to the point where I will separate the sleeves and join the front to the back. I just have to buy the rest of the yarn -- I had no idea I'd knit this far in less than a day. My gauge is perfect and I've compensated for my rowing-out issue (see another blogger's illustration of "rowing out" here) by purling with a smaller needle. That is, I'm knitting with 4.5mm Addi Turbos and purling with 4.0mm Denise needles. There's still a good portion of this current project in which I used the same size needle for both knitting and purling and it's noticeable -- but it doesn't bother me that it's there.

Last week, I got to have lunch with SoKnitpicky; we discussed knitting, food, and some of my drama. It was during our lunch and her talking about her latest knit (the one for which she'd just purchased yarn less than a week earlier and was already nearly finished knitting!) that I made the decision to frog my own project that spurred this blog entry. She was wearing this top at lunch and like everything else she knits and wears, it looked great on her. It's become for me a visual and a goal -- to knit something I'll wear that will be that flattering and stylish. Since nothing in my closet currently fits well anyway, now's the right time to consider knitting for my true size and body shape -- the one I am now and will likely be from now on.

April 06, 2009

Next steps

My new potted Rosemary


It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work.
And that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.

Wendell Berry

January 02, 2009

Wishes for 2009

To learn
To teach
To reach up and reach out
To be mindful of meaning
To give
To forgive
To release
To seek
. . . to enrich others

Sunflower Lit by Halogen

Happy New Year to my friends and friends-to-be

September 26, 2008

Acting on decisions

Paint_Choices_Sherwin_Williams.jpg

Before the hurricane, I was in the process of getting quotes from painters for painting a significant portion of the interior of our home. We have a 2-story foyer that would have required one or both of us to scale a ladder or scaffolding to paint. I don't do so well with ladders . . . or heights in general. When we got back, I was excited to learn that the painter was available and could paint this week. His three-man crew was here yesterday and painted a huge portion of our house in less than four hours. They moved the furniture and returned everything back to their original locations when they were finished. My plan for the common areas of our home is to keep things neutral. Adventurous color will be confined to the smaller bedrooms and bathrooms.

Acting on this one significant thing that's been on my mind for a couple of years now has helped build some much-needed momentum. For the first few years we were here, I had this vague feeling of needing to not make plans or decisions regarding this home, but after over five years in the same house, it was just time to act. Next on the list? The front yard.


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September 22, 2008

Safe and sound

We're safe and sound after our Hurricane Ike "Aftermath Evacuation." Last week, we chose to flee 200 miles north to stay with friends of ours in order for my husband to continue to work and communicate via email and conference calls with his team. When we left, news reports were cautioning that it could potentially take 2-3 weeks to get full power restoration in our community. And still . . . MANY communities here (including Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula, obviously) are without power. We're grateful to have power back and to have only lost a couple of trees.

Here's my Hurricane Ike slideshow

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All of the photos were taken by my husband several hours after the hurricane. We lost power at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning and left town Sunday afternoon. During our time with friends, we had some unexpected things happen, but thankfully, we're blessed with friends who will drop everything and help. I'm just humbled by their example of mercy in action.

There is a silver lining though -- this lovely Anne scarf crocheted for me by Stacey (pattern by M.K. Carroll) - Ravelry link here:

Anne_Scarf_Crocheted_by_Stacey.jpg

The yarn is Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran in "Granite" (2 balls for the scarf).

And in my mailbox when I got home was this lovely sock yarn that I won:

PippiKneeSocks.jpg

I love the colors! Thank you, Karin! Karin blogs at Knitting by the Falls.

To summarize, we're home safely, we fared well during and after Hurricane Ike and we'll recover just fine from all the unexpected stuff that hit us while we were away. Having spent time with Stacey last week has proven to me that as wonderful as online friends are, there's something about being face-to-face over coffee and fiber crafts (her crocheting, me knitting). I miss that and I hate that it took a hurricane to take advantage of that opportunity. Lesson learned.


July 13, 2008

Second annual summer blog vacation begins

I've decided to take another summer vacation from my blog and devote summer to completing things and renewing my commitment to pen, pencil and paper:

Moleskine_sketchbook_inside.jpg

I've been blue. Not scary-blue, but a subdued blue. I think it has a lot to do with how much I anticipated this summer break from my normal daily driving and the kids' school activities. I absolutely want to make the most of it. With the loss of my cable internet at a critical time a couple of weeks ago (I'm still recovering from that), I've been tackling some revitalizing tasks. I decided I want to ENJOY the summer before it fades and the school routine begins all over again. I plan to knit, write, draw, sew, embroider, clean, paint, declutter, re-evaluate, focus and create.

Moleskine_Sketchbook_Pocket.jpg

I'll try to share the evidence on Flickr and Ravelry and I'll be back to my blog in August. Meanwhile, if you're so inclined, please share in the comments whether you plan take some time to indulge your creative side and what you might be doing in the next thirty days.

See you in August!


June 22, 2008

The issue of worth

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Pashmina Cowl (Ravelry link) from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, 2006
Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight - 3 Skeins Eggplant

I knew I would think about the issue while I was on my trip -- the fact that each one of my sisters is pursuing a successful career and earning income of her own. While my job working part-time at the yarn shop is rewarding and carries with it opportunities to see my friends and commune with knitters (and crocheters), it's pretty safe to say that my net earnings each year are canceled out by my purchases. And I'm proud of my sisters. They each have an incredible sense of duty and work ethic. I know that my sisters are also proud of me and they constantly tell me so -- and point to my parenting, my relationships and my skills as evidence. Whenever I've been given the opportunity for more (in the way of a career and a larger paycheck) in the past decade, I've respectfully declined.

So when I see things that I've knit being passed around the room and worn -- or I spy them in suitcases, it provides a little more clarity for me. The issue of worth begins to be resolved when I see proof of how I've invested my time and energy and how lucky I am to be able to do what I enjoy nearly every single day.

June 16, 2008

No longer in pieces

Coffee at Lola Restaurant in Seattle

For the last several weeks, my sisters and I had been making plans for a trip to Seattle to see our mom, who recently suffered a really bad fall and month-long recovery and rehabilitation. In the midst of the phone calls and updates and last-minute travel (for my youngest sister), we realized that we've not spent enough time together -- that is, just us sisters, free of emergency visits and drama. And while being with sisters is always good for a no-holds-barred reality check, it's also valuable to get the insight that only a sister can provide.

And for me, it was timely. I celebrated my 44th birthday almost 2 weeks ago and I did it quietly because it's the first birthday I've struggled with a little bit. It's not the numbers that bother me, it's the fact that the last few years have been difficult. I'm so grateful for all of you for reading the non-knitting bits here on my blog as I've used it to work through some of my thoughts. It's your comments and emails that have kept me going as I uncover old photos and history. As I dealt with some of the missing pieces, I realized that I was a little bit in pieces myself and that's not like me. I would rather have a long-term vision and a plan in place. My daily path doesn't have to be linear, but the vision is what keeps me anchored. And for the last few years, I've not had that. Or . . . perhaps have had too many. That is, I've been listening to what others have told me my vision should be and I've been distracted by too many choices and opportunities. No more.

This weekend gave me what I needed. The effort in getting to Seattle was monumental but I'm glad we all made it happen. Once or twice I was confronted with the internal question of what I'm here to do -- in the existential sense. I've always known that I've got the potential to do any number of things and I have so many wonderful people to encourage me no matter what path I'm on, but I didn't have that growing up. I had to rely on books and a lot of reading to help me choose the right attitude, how to make goals and how to achieve them. And you know what? I don't need to read any more books about those things. It's time for me to write one.

May 13, 2008

Need your opinions

To my readers:

I need your opinions.

Do you read the "About" pages on blogs? I read them when I am new to a blog but beyond that initial read to get to know the blogger better, I don't read them again.

Do you find it helpful when a blogger provides contact information beyond the comments section? Again, for me it's rare that I use the "contact" option (outside of leaving a comment) but I can see that it might be useful to some of my readers who want to ask me a question but not necessarily leave me a comment.

If you are reading this at my blog (and not through a feed reader) you can see that I'm preparing to decide whether I want to include these additional options - but right now, it's not linked to anything. I'm also working to make sure my avatar is the same throughout the places I frequent online.

On the knitting front, I'm going to frog the triangular shawl today because I think I need to go down a needle size. I committed to experimenting with the book, the yarn and the concept but didn't officially make it a project. So I don't feel guilty about starting over. I do love the yarn and the color.

And among other things on my needle right now, I felt like casting on a sock:

Noro Silk Garden Lite Sock

It's NORO Silk Garden Lite, a DK-weight version of Silk Garden. I've got mixed feelings about it so far, but I love how quickly a DK-weight yarn becomes a sock!

April 30, 2008

Back in business

MacBook.jpg

I'm back in business. I got a new MacBook last week but had a family emergency and wasn't able to fully engage myself in learning this new and different operating system. But the little I've been able to play with it since then? Awesome.

Some of you wanted to see the nearly-complete Lizard Ridge blanket for which I knit two of the squares:

A.M. seaming Lizard Ridge


Lizard Ridge during seaming

Details: This is a group project -- a knit=along of sorts -- for a gift. I surprised myself by completely changing my mind about the Lizard Ridge by the time I finished the first square. Had I not HAD to do my part for this gift by knitting two squares, I would have given up. However, I adore this pattern now and I'm looking forward to making another one.

April 11, 2008

Spring in the Suburbs

Spring in the Suburbs - Hot Pink Geraniums

I have no new knitting to show; we've been planting, painting, and cleaning. It must be a spring thing. It's also heralded by the annual arrival of ants in my kitchen. I know that if it rains a lot (steadily) and the next day is sunny and warm, a colony will have formed somewhere and they'll begin invading. Oddly, it's also about the same time I start to think about baking cookies. I believe I'll wait until I get rid of the ants* to get out the brown sugar.

I've swatched several things this past week and so far, nothing is as promising as I thought it would be. I decided this was a sign to step away from the knitting (that is, knitting-as-blog-fodder) for a brief pause, so I've been listening to the Yarn Harlot's audiobook version of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting. I highly recommend it. It's entertaining without being too cutesy or cheesy. (And, yes, I know I'm one book behind and she has a new one out now . . . at this pace, I'll probably get to that one next year).

And smack dab in the middle of this blog entry, I want to share Laurie's blog entry today. One thing jumped out at me:

I'd wasted all that energy on one thing that was past and something new that hadn't even happened yet.

I've been there -- I've wasted energy and THOUGHTS on things that were completely unfruitful. And I've wasted precious brainpower having imaginary conversations with people I was angry with at the time. I'm now 100% sure that the other person involved didn't give a second thought to maintaining that same conversation in his or her head. Obsessive thoughts like that are very close to the classic definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I wanted to bring this to my blog because it relates to why I began knitting. About four years ago, I was getting and staying so angry about perceived slights and injustices that totally didn't concern me; often I was angry or incredulous about something that was happening to a friend or family member. One night I left the house in a huff over something I had been reading online and I ended up falling in the garage and requiring a trip to the ER for stitches and a tetanus shot. Less than a month later, a friend of mine mentioned trying knitting and I was tired enough of myself that I decided it was time for a new hobby. Knitting helped me gain some emotional equilibrium and has kept me out of the ER (I learned that I am really accident-prone when I'm angry). And this is why I still knit. These days, if I feel that I'm starting to be competitive (with anybody other than myself) over knitting or anything knitting-related, I step back -- and maybe away -- for a while. Ironically, if I don't step away on my own, then some external force will exert itself -- computer problems much?

If you're stewing, perhaps step away and ask yourself why your expectations are so high or . . . radical thought . . . maybe you should dig even deeper -- why are you a knitter? For me, it's a meaningful and productive way to engage my hands and my mind so that I remain emotionally balanced and stay out of trouble. The huge bonus has been my gaining some great lifelong friendships in the process.

* Products to help eliminate the ants


Continue reading "Spring in the Suburbs" »

March 08, 2008

Places I don't go

NYCView.jpg
NYC skyline - photo taken from the Affinia Hotel in Manhattan

My husband has to travel a lot for his job and I stay here and run things. Somebody asked me once if I was envious of his business travel and I'm really not -- traveling WITH my family is a lot more appealing to me than traveling without them. I know my husband was sincere when he said that he wished I could have been at the Waldorf Astoria when Martha Stewart was being honored at the "Go Red for Women" luncheon. And while I do have a list of yarn shops I would have visited if I'd been in NYC, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun if I'd been alone.

That's not to say that I don't have travel in my future. I'm making a list of places I would like to go and hope to update our passports soon.

These past few weeks, I've really felt the loss of my laptop but I've deferred the purchase of its replacement for a few more months. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from other knitters about Macs vs. PCs. If you used the one and are now using the other, I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I'm most concerned with portability, battery life, ease of wireless connection and your experiences using a Mac with Flickr and Ravelry (i.e. the browser). I won't be using Photoshop or graphics software -- I'll be using it for long-term writing projects, blogging, Flickr and Ravelry. I like to knit while I read blogs and obviously prefer something very lightweight.

I've been working on some gift knitting and am almost finished with the simple knitted shell with the RYC Cashcotton DK (Ravelry link here, but no updated project info yet). On Thursday, I got to meet up with another local knitter at Starbucks and knit for a while on my take-along sock. Earlier in the week, I stopped by Twisted Yarns and bought the leather straps for the Noro bag. I chose the longer (large, rolled 25") leather straps in dark brown. I might have also bought another skein of Online Supersocke 100.

I've continued to work on some of the genealogy research I started a few weeks ago. One of my aunts has helped fill in a lot of missing information and another aunt and a cousin have gotten in touch with me after my not having talked to them in over 34 years. This time last year, Sallie found most of my American family's ancestry information and I wouldn't have had such a good start without her. Lisa and one of her good friends has been helping me with the Japanese side. Of course, I now wish I had learned to speak and write Japanese (and no, it's not too late) as that would have helped immensely!

Here's another photo of my sisters and me that I don't think I ever saw before last week:

sisters.jpg

It was taken the same day as this one.


March 01, 2008

Off-course, of course

This weekend, I had that unsettled feeling of having veered off-course. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I have to stop and remind myself of my mission and goals.

There's been knitting, but nothing much to show yet (it's a shop sample) - lots of stockinette in the round and you saw a preview a few entries ago. The knitting sets the stage for the thoughts that are the true undercurrent of my writing and blogging here. Knitting helps me think -- it's mind- and heart-expanding. I couldn't write if I didn't knit.

I'm still organizing all the data regarding my family ancestry -- both the Japanese side and the Irish/Scottish/German side. I have two stacks on my desk and they're separated: the "H" side (my maiden name) and the "F" side (my mother's maiden name). I work best from stacks rather than files, so I'm doing what works for me, but if you were to visit right now, I'm sure it would look like clutter to you.

The most overwhelming part was sensing all the stories that want to be told -- I can pick something out of either stack and tell a compelling story based on what I know or what I've learned - hence, that off-course feeling. To get back on course is to focus on my OWN story. I'm the only one who can tell it. I'm the only one who can share my own experiences - the people I've met, the places I 've visited and loved. We four sisters grew up with very different experiences due to our age differences and having lived all over the world. My younger sister and I are only 22 months apart so some of our memories are shared, but we don't often share the same point of view. I don't think that's uncommon, but it's part of what made me realize that I need to focus on my own unique perspective.

The Patons Merino hat that I blogged about last week was finished that same day.I used to think it was so odd that others could knit a plain (or fancy!) hat in less than 24 hours, but now I can too. When did that happen? (And oddly enough, it's almost cold enough here today to NEED a hat).

Patons Merino FO :: Basic Hat

Finally, to wrap up this post, I finally figured out the handles I want to use for the Noro Kureyon Scraps Bag I knit in 2004. (Ravelry link here). I used the leftover Kureyon from the Booga Bags I knit that year plus some additional single skeins I had acquired to knit a large project bag.

Felted Noro Scraps Bag

So it's back to the knitting for a while.

February 28, 2008

Subversive :: Yarn and yarn shops

Due to my involvement in a school fundraiser, I've been going to Michaels a lot lately. Each time I go, I stop by and look at the yarns and patterns -- and I'm no stranger to the needlecrafts aisles at my local Wal-Mart, Joann's, and Hobby Lobby either. In the last few weeks, it appears that Michaels has revamped their yarn section and decreased the selection of novelty yarns and increased the quantity of garment yarns in Lion Brand and Patons brands. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and demonstrates a responsive shift toward what knitters and crocheters want. I found quite a bit of fresh stock of Patons Classic Merino and since it's the 2nd most popular yarn on Ravelry and the only one of the top ten brands I hadn't tried yet, I threw caution to the wind and dropped less than $5 on a ball to try. I've since swatched it (that is, I'm knitting a hat with it) and it's awesome to knit with and delicious to the touch. It's slightly softer than Cascade 220.

Patons hat in progress
Basic 80-stitch hat, ready to start decreasing

So . . . I'm clearly happy with the yarn, the way it knits and the value. What I don't get is why some knitters and crocheters refuse to cross the threshold of a local yarn store in favor of ONLY shopping at a craft chain or Wal-Mart. I do understand bad service and unpleasant experiences at yarn stores, but I don't think they're the norm. Anybody can have an off day (and I know that I have had those days in the past and probably unintentionally alienated a few customers). But at Michaels (and the other stores I mentioned), I'm never greeted, never helped while I'm at the back of the store in the yarn section, and nobody ever looks me in the eye when I check out. Conversely, when I go to the yarn shop (as a customer, not an employee), I'm greeted, helped with my selection and sometimes get quick instruction with something I have on the needles. The modest amounts of money I spend at local yarn stores help local families and small businesses. THAT is value.

I understand there are many people for whom yarn shops are NOT local geographically and have no other options -- but when there ARE options, why do you not go and experience what a local business has to offer? Is there just a general desire to be anonymous, faceless and completely divorced from who benefits from your purchase? Do you think that if you darkened the door of a yarn shop, you'd be assaulted and forced to use your grocery money to buy cashmere? Do you not trust yourself in the face of friendly people and a variety of merchandise? Educate me! I don't get why there are still so many people who do not think it's worth their time and energy to patronize a local business.

If all I had was Michaels or online shopping, that's how I would buy yarn - and I'm VERY likely go back to Michaels someday to buy more Patons (in a sweater quantity IF they have matching dyelots) - but I'll never believe it's a delightful experience to walk in a shop unnoticed and navigate my way past plastic flowers to the back of the shop to look at yarn.

Continue reading "Subversive :: Yarn and yarn shops" »

February 25, 2008

All about eyes and a little about yarn

all about eyes
30 ml of AMAZING

My under-eye puffiness has now been resolved. I love this stuff -- and I just have to use a tiny bit so it's likely to last a while. On Friday, I stopped by the Clinique counter at Macy's to pick up some foundation (One tube lasts three months). One of the ladies there asked if I would like a complimentary makeover and although I always (always) politely decline, I decided to indulge this time. Earlier that morning, I'd had a traumatic 3-hour ordeal at the dentist's office, so some pampering sounded nice. She used the All About Eyes on me with a little bit of concealer and even though I couldn't see it, it FELT amazing and very lightweight. She also used a nude shade of lipstick on my lips (anybody who knows me knows I do not wear nude lipsticks!) and I loved it: Metallic Sand. Because I haven't run out of lipstick, I didn't buy anything other than the eye cream and foundation. I have incredible self-control when it's not related to yarn -- to wit:

The Patons Classic Merino caught my eye today at Michaels, so I bought just one skein to try:

Patons Classic Merino

Until I can do a proper update on the state of things around here, I want to thank you for all the comments and emails on my previous entries. By the time I post this blog entry, my mom should be happily back at home after a week in the hospital. Her going to the hospital was just what she needed -- her medications have been tweaked and next steps are underway to help her with pain management. She will be fine!

I have a million serious topics I want to blog about, but this frivolous one makes me the happiest.

February 14, 2008

Processes unrelated to knitting

I'm experiencing heightened intuition and perception, along with feeling extremely empathetic (to the point of weepiness sometimes) and strange maternal and nesting urges TOTALLY unrelated to pregnancy (no chance of that). And these are the GOOD parts of this female aging process. I'm not sad to be starting to experience pre-menopause, but I am a little unsettled. The skin changes and grey hairs don't bother me, but the forgetfulness and anxiety DO upset me a bit.

And to be quite honest, I wasn't going to mention this particular process at all on my blog. Then I remembered my goal of having a blog as a record for myself -- and also my desire to use this blog as a way to capture some things in REAL time that might help my daughter twenty years (or more) from now. I know that my mom doesn't remember anything at all about what she went through and I wish she did.

Knitting helps. I am able to focus and concentrate on knitting when I can't focus on anything else. On some days I feel incredibly sharp and focused and others I feel like I'm in mental quicksand. But the heightened perception -- I'll take that any day. With unexpected surprises (both physical and mental) around every corner, successful navigation requires that I have an optimistic attitude. Pollyanna? You bet.

I wait until I feel sharp enough to tackle demanding tasks and this past week has included working on our income tax returns and organizing some historical family documents and vintage photos. This one of my mom and her brothers was taken in the late 30's, presumably before the death of their father (my grandfather). My mom was nine years old when he died, so I'm fairly certain that this was taken before then:

Valentine Vintage
Keiji, ??, Michio, my mother

When a bit of time opens up and I'm able to organize my stash, frog hibernating projects or wind yarn, if I get an urge, I'll allow myself to indulge in a quick project. These two one-day projects have been enjoyable and entertaining. Oddly, they're both Malabrigo:

Drawstring Pouch 3 - LMKG
click the photo above for more information

compelling

So go ahead . . . indulge yourself.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 03, 2008

Thoughtful awards and more

Calla Coaster :: Purl Bee
Click the photo for project details

I took a brief hiatus from project monogamy (I almost typed monotony -- so what does THAT mean?) in order to knit a few gifts last night (while watching the first two episodes of the Sarah Connor Chronicles). The only finished object I can show right now is the Calla Coaster from the Purl Bee.

Calla Coaster :: Purl Bee

I should mention that I've had some serious love for Purl Soho since I first started knitting seriously (obsessively?) in 2004. Back then, when Purl Soho was just a website and not yet a book, a blog or Purl Patchwork, I would visit the site a few times a day just to see the colors and the exotic fiber. And when their book was published, I had to have it -- and it remains the book from which I've knit the most patterns. I'm pretty sure that it's Joelle Hoverson's love of color and exquisite yarn that keeps me inspired.

Meanwhile . . . I just got some happy news that my laptop is ready. I got the news via a recorded message so I don't know if "ready" is synonymous with "fixed," but I'll find out soon enough.

And even more good news: I got a couple of awards! Here and here, from Brenda (Molecular Knitting) and PJ, (And Sew It Is), respectively.

excellent2baward.jpg


YouMakeMyDayAward.jpg

Now it's supposed to be my turn to spread the love and nominate more bloggers for these awards. It's going to be tough to name just ten twenty of the blogs that I think are excellent and/or make my day, but I'll try.

The A.D.D. Knitter - Heather has some great stash and her taste in yarn is quite similar to mine -- as well as her lack of self-control. (I mean that in the most endearing way, Heather).

A Friend to Knit With - Leslie shares her Cookie(s) of the Week and some super-accomplished knitting, cooking and photography skills. Plus, she's always incredibly encouraging and generous with her feedback.

Berlin's Whimsy - a brand-new addition to my sidebar, and I think her blog, photos and projects are a treasure. I don't even remember how I found her blog, but I love reading her.

Black Dog Knits - Nora's back! I get a ton of inspiration from Nora and her constructive feedback always helps me figure out the pesky details. (I'm not so naturally good with the details -- but I count on others who are).

Cherry Blossom Hill Studio - Fabulousness - I love peeking in and seeing the knitting and the sewing - and she makes me glad I have a colour (heh) monitor.

Chronic Ennui - I go see what Kim's up to and usually feel that I couldn't possibly measure up to her knitting skill or speed, but I can't stop going to her blog. Doggie photos are a bonus!

Coiled - Kat's tagline is "some knitting and drawing and other stuff too." She's a MAJOR inspiration.

Crimson Purl - Stacey is comprehensive in sharing project notes and details -- so much so that I can usually count on her to knit something I have in my queue and help me decide if I want to attempt it myself. She and I share an addiction a love for Malabrigo.

Gotta Knit - Debbie is usually up to something fun and never fails to make me laugh. When I think of Debbie, I think of steel magnolias.

Kent's Craft - I think I found Kent via Flickr back when he was posting some great vintage photos and about the same time he was working on his lovely v-neck. He seemed to disappear for a while, but now he has a shiny new laptop and camera. Surely he'll post more now. :-)

Knitsane :: Hannabirke - My favorite adventurous experimenter turned street photographer. I love the details in her posts.

Knitting Underway - Theresa is my sock-knitting hero!

Lekkercraft - Knitting interspersed with bits of everything else I love.

Lollyknitting Around - Lolly is probably the nicest, hardest-working knitblogger out there. Community building? Lolly defines it.

Molecular Knitting - I would have given her this award even if she hadn't given me one. Even though I know that she sometimes has to make the time to blog, she never gives the reader the impression that she's too busy to do it well. I love her photos along with her taste in fine sock yarn and M's cocktails.

Stumbling Over Chaos - Yet another hard working blogger. Chris works full time and has two delightful kitties to take care of and I don't know how she finds time to knit, blog and leave such nice comments.

Superstarra - A somewhat new-to-me knitting blog - I enjoy her knits and project photos and I've been reading through her archives to find those little gems I might have missed.

V's Blog and her Flickr too - she's a Midwesterner turned Pacific Northwesterner and I love following her adventurers with T and Miss Trixie.

Very Pink - Staci's a knitting superhero. Here's a quote from her Ravelry profile: "The most unusual thing about me as a knitter - I’m a one-project-at-a-timer, and I’m STASHLESS." She's a rare species.

Zebra Knits - Another blogger I've been reading less than a year but I am hooked. Every post is a treat, and the photos are awesome. Here's one of my favorite knits of hers.

Now excuse me while I spend the rest of the day feeling anxious about forgetting those blogs that I love and read regularly but forgot to mention. Everybody in my sidebar is excellent and inspirational.

January 31, 2008

Shiny :: Happy

Signature Needle Arts
Click the photo above for more information

I got these knitting needles earlier this week and am in love with them - they're pretty and functional. You can design your own based on your tip and length preferences. While the prices are higher than most retail superstore knitting needles, they're in line with the finer straight single-point needle prices such as the Lantern Moon hardwood. * If you love knitting with straight needles, put Signature Needle Arts needles on your wish list.

Green :: Grey

I got a wonderful surprise gift from Nora in Australia. She made this wonderful accessory bag to match my favorite Mama Llama Forest green/grey colourway. So that settles it -- the next sock yarn I cast on will be my Mama Llama sock yarn.

My laptop is still not home but it's still in the safe hands of the local Geek Squad for a few more days. I love those dudes though -- and have trusted them with other computers in the past. Meanwhile, I've had to be creative about doing the things I used to do without thinking -- like checking emails and updating my calendar. I'm feeling a little cut off from my friends, family and my Outlook calendar. I woke up anxious and fearful that I might be forgetting to do something important. I can access new emails through my webmail program, but nudge me if you haven't received a reply to something important.

Continue reading "Shiny :: Happy" »

January 28, 2008

Lipstick and yarn

Araucania Ranco Multi
Araucania Ranco sock yarn (click the photo above for more info)

Thanks to the ongoing computer woes, I've been spending a lot more time with my yarn and my knitting. While my son was waiting for his turn at the computer yesterday (I have to compete with the kids for computer time now), we talked about how we would each spend our first million (a purely imaginary windfall). I asked him what he would buy first if he had a million dollars -- he said he'd buy a scooter and then a house. When I asked him what he thought I would buy first, he said, "Lipstick." He predicted that after that, I'd buy yarn and "yarn books." He knows me too well.

I've been swatching (i.e. starting a new sock) with the Araucania sock yarn I bought several months ago. I fell in love with all the warm colors on the cool blue base. The only downside to this sock yarn so far is the yardage is on the low side and it's not as soft as I'd like. However, it's still a good knitting experience -- the stitches are even and smooth.

Araucania Ranco Multi

And, finally, a book purchase I put off entirely too long. Thanks to a nudge from Borders in the form of a 30% off coupon and a $5 gift certifcate, I now own The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd:

Finally . . .

I put off buying it for so long because I thought there wouldn't be "new" information in it -- but I've already highlighted several helpful things -- I should have purchased this book long ago.

Edited to add: This entry at Tiennie Knits, demonstrates how the Ann Budd book can inspire an already-accomplished knitter. Awesome.

January 16, 2008

But will I wear it?

I've been taking a long hard look -- a very critical look -- at my list of garments I intend to knit for myself. Usually something will make it on to my list due to my falling in love with a particular yarn. It's the yarn that attracts me first; then color next and design last. It's very rare that I buy yarn without a project planned but there are some yarns that have aged a bit in my young stash whose originally-intended patterns are really not that stylish any more.

So I've evaluated the store-bought sweaters I've loved and hated through the years and aside from the unfortunate intarsia phase, my favorite sweaters were solid colored -- usually natural colored, gray, red, or white, ribbed or plain stockinette and close-fitting. The sweaters that were the least flattering were loose-fitting cabled sweaters. I look best with some shaping, but an oversize sweater can be flattering on me if the proportions are right. Most surprising was that nearly all of my favorite sweaters were either 100% cotton -- or linen, viscose, ramie, and silk blends. Nearly all of them had some cotton though. I can remember owning only a small handful of 100% wool sweaters (one of which I still own after 15 years). Finer gauges predominated also.

My conclusion for knitwear for myself? Simple is best -- but it probably won't make good knit blog fodder or Flickr photos. And I'm okay with that. I want to knit what I'll wear. Chic Knits patterns seem to represent the style I envision for myself (Ribby Pulli and Cardi, Arianne, Cece) -- along with Knitting Pure and Simple cardigans and the Hourglass Sweater (Ravelry Link) in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Accessories are another story -- I'm much more adventurous with scarves, socks (sometimes), and hats.

For future socks for a family member, a planned 2x2 or 3x1 ribbing:

Passionberry :: See Jayne Knit

It's "Passionberry" -- a blend of merino and tencel from See Jayne Knit, an Etsy seller. Last week, I also received a set of sock blockers from Fearless Fibers. I love them and how they've infused my socks with their cedar scent. (And a quick thank you to Sallie, who has hooked me up with somebody we know who has darning eggs for sale).

I also finished the first of a pair of socks knit with Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn:

Pigeonroof Studios - Cinnamon

I love her dye job. The superwash merino she uses as her base is very nice -- the yardage made me a bit nervous, but not nervous enough to become a toe-up sock knitter. I like living on the (sock-knitting) edge. I've knit up all but two of my single socks-in-progress. I'm down to just one unfinished single sock and then will finish their mates. My Gesta vest front is almost finished and then I'll seam the sides and shoulders and crochet an edging.

There are a few changes in the air here and I can't share many details about them, but they're positive changes. While I anticipate how this will affect some of my plans, I've made some decisions about some of my former goals -- the ones unrelated to knitting. I'll share those as soon as I can. For now, I'll be in list-making mode.

Peace.


January 01, 2008

Happy first day of 2008

Family 1970s
Family photo from the early 1970's

I went to sleep with some big questions last night and woke up with the answers. The big questions have to do with a goal of mine -- something I want to complete this year involving a family story.

I love this photo of my family. Due to the age difference between my oldest and youngest sisters, it was rare to get all of us in a photo together. This is how I remember my Dad. I'm startled now when I see photos of him with white hair and his thinner, smaller frame. During most of my childhood and the years I lived in Oklahoma, he was stocky -- and looked like he did in this photo.

Longtime readers know that I don't "do" resolutions, but I do evaluate what's working for me and what's not. In 2008, I'm taking some steps to enrich my life -- I'm excited about the things I'm considering. And because the most effective method I have of dealing with unresolved issues is to write through them, I'll continue to do that and will probably share more of it here on my blog.

My knitting goals for 2008 are rather vague, thanks to a refreshed point of view and a desire to be true to myself -- I will knit what I enjoy knitting and do what I enjoy doing. Because I don't struggle with discontent or disappointment internally, I'm going to take full advantage of the absolute freedom I have to just BE.

And now, for the winner of the hand knit socks . . . congratulations to Susan at KitKatKnits. I'll be contacting you to get your color preferences and shoe size!

Look for more fun contests and giveaways in 2008.

December 21, 2007

Unfinished posts

I occasionally have a blog entry in draft mode and sometimes I get so stuck I can't finish it or post it. There's one in here now, unpublished. It's not because it's a difficult or unpleasant topic -- quite the contrary! I attempted to go back and find all my favorite 2007 blog posts written by other knitbloggers. It's turned out to be a huge undertaking because I have SO many favorites. I'm going to keep working on it and might eventually post it. But surely you know my TRUE fear -- that there will be that ONE that gets left out -- that one that I should have included and failed to do so.

So instead, I will tell you about my haircut yesterday; I won't show it to you because it's too dark to shoot a photo. I went in wanting what I got this past August -- a concave bob (an inverted v- or inverted u-shape in the back), but I got what I most feared getting -- a PLAIN bob. I've HAD those most of my life. And even a TRUE concave bob eventually grows out to be a plain bob after a month or so. And do you know what a PLAIN bob looks like on me? Anchorwoman hair. Pageant hair.

At least it's better than country singer hair.

For the record, I've never been any of those things. The first photo was for an author bio in a magazine in which I'd had an article published. The second photo has never been seen by anybody except Paul (when we were dating). First he laughed . . . then he forbade me to share them with anybody. I think 15 years is enough time and distance and I hope you all can laugh WITH me. (And, yes, there are more cheesy poses and more bad outfits).

Since my recipe request post, I've been able to try a few of the recipes I've linked to -- and one of the recipes in my comments. I can't take good food photos so I have none to share. But I was very happy with the recipes I've tried -- the Minestra di Lenticchie (quite good and it makes A LOT!), the Salsa Mexicana (I'll add more Serrano peppers next time - I just used two) and the Macaroni and Cheese (though my Vermont sharp cheddar was TOO sharp). All of them were quite good! Thanks for sharing, ladies!

The holiday party with my son's fourth grade class went well -- we had a blast! Nine year olds know how to party! We played holiday-themed Pictionary, made an ornament, decorated some cookies with icing, red hots and M&M's and had a fun book exchange. It's his last year in elementary school which suddenly feels quite strange now that I typed it. The second grader had a similar celebration and between the two of them, they were quite sugared up and we have two new ornaments for the tree. It signaled the official start of our holiday break.

I was just sharing with my family how I'm looking forward to December 26th and some serious relaxation and knitting. I have a lot of lovely yarn to play with too . . .

Malabrigo - Silky Merino


Cinnamon - 2 skeins - Pigeon Roof Studios

What will you be working on when you have no more holiday knitting deadlines?

December 08, 2007

Happy holiday knitting

S'more knitting?

The holiday knitting at Chez Twisted Knitter doesn't include gift knitting -- there are no deadlines here this holiday season. Last year, I sent my sister her first pair of handknit socks. We talked last night and she told me that she's worn a hole in the heel. I reminded her that it's the highest compliment that can be paid a sock knitter -- and that they were meant to be worn! Guess who's likely to get more handknit socks?

Last week, I got some new double-pointed needles to test:

New needles to try!

My fellow Pretty Posie, Elizabeth of Trailing Yarn, sent them to me. She also sent circular needles and challenged me to convert to Magic Loop. But where would that leave me with my wonderful collection of DPNs?

I'm intrigued by the Hiya Hiya needles and can't wait to give them a try (today?) and will share my feedback here. Thanks again, Elizabeth!

December 06, 2007

This knitter's story

I want to thank all of my readers for being so encouraging, affirming and receptive to the personal stories I've shared here. Each time I've extended myself even a little bit and given you a glimpse into my non-knitting world, you've been so accepting. However, if you all hadn't dared share your lives first, I probably wouldn't have had the courage to share mine. So thank you.

Next week will be the 4-year anniversary of when I picked up knitting needles to knit some dishcloths for my mom. Four years later, I'm surprised -- not only that I am still knitting but more excited about it than ever. There's just always more room to learn something, to challenge myself and to grow -- those things that I love to do anyway. And a couple of days ago, a timely e-newsletter arrived from Ali Edwards (have you signed up for it yet? You should!)

I'm going to share the quotation that she posted as part of #3 (she gave five points for working through creative fear):


"Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: be intensely yourself. Don't try to be outstanding; don't try to be a success; don't try to do pictures for others to look at - just please yourself."- Ralph Steiner

There always seems to be an undercurrent of competitiveness during the holidays but I try really hard not to make it about what I'm doing vs what others are doing. I am not trying to be the most organized or have all my shopping done by a certain date; my genuine effort is to give my time and my focus to others -- and to make absolutely sure I am not too busy to really BE THERE. I think it's important not to demand more of ourselves during the holidays than we typically do throughout the year. Do what brings your families, friends and loved ones JOY.

Simply wrapped

I have a lot to share over the next several days, but this is meant as a big thank you to those of you who stop by and read my little knitting blog and take the time to comment.

November 30, 2007

Maybe

Maybe when your day, week, month has a been a difficult one and you can't beg, borrow or steal some time to knit, maybe what you're needing most is a manicure (OPI "Suzi Loves Sydney") and an eyebrow wax.

While the knitting time hasn't materialized, the ideas are flowing. I now have a better vision of the direction of some unfinished business. I'm learning to make the RIGHT connections (literally and figuratively) and going with my gut rather than embracing each new thing. With rejection comes refinement. I always seem to skip that step, but now I'm tuning in to the inner voice that tells me when something is not right. There's not enough time or energy for the "not right."

It's exciting and rewarding to see my clothing options shrink (yes, you are reading that right). Until the right things come my way, I'm okay with my limited options because I'm feeling good about what I have! I'll just knit the accessories as my options increase. One of the gifts I'm giving this year is permission (to my loved ones) to do the things for themselves that they wouldn't normally do -- the things they sometimes do for me as an act of generosity. Really. Do them for yourselves. You deserve it. Buy that amazing handbag for yourself -- or the perfect shoes. Your sharing with me how good they make you feel is the best gift.

I went to a baby shower last night and got to meet the sweet baby for whom the "Strawberry Latte" hat was intended (but alas, no photo of the recipient -- just this bear):

Baby hat on bear

I decided at the last minute not to add a pom pom It's still a little bit big for Malley, but she loved it (if sleeping through a baby shower is a sign of approval, she approves!). And I loved knitting it! Heads don't come in pairs like feet . . . or hands . . . so you knit one and you're finished. You don't have to knit a matching "other hat." I've knit a lot of hats, but this epiphany -- it is just now coming. Apparently I'm slow.

Erica leaves Sunday to go back to Florida and a job at Toni & Guy. It's exciting and very "her." My mom leaves shortly after that. I'm feeling prepared for the holidays and excited about my purchases and decisions. Bring it on.

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

RussellFamilyMealVintage.jpg

Even though this vintage photo wasn't taken on Thanksgiving, it's always been a fascinating photo to me. It's my husband's family, but only the men appeared in the photo (even though the women were responsible for the meal).

I try to be thankful everyday -- not just this one day set aside as an American holiday. So whether or not you celebrate this holiday, I wish you a wonderful day.

October 23, 2007

Sneaking by to post

Thank you all for being so kind about my new pattern. I have a lot to learn, and I appreciate the great suggestions and tweaks. It's not too late if you have suggestions - I'd love to hear them.

I've been wrestling with a cold since late Saturday and I think I've finally beaten it into submission with Airborne, Sudafed and ibuprofen. However, the last time I checked, I can't call in sick to my day job. People around here still expect to eat, wear clean clothes and get to school on time. But my "bosses" are cute and entertaining, so I can't complain. My cold has made me melancholy and nostalgic though -- I miss my sister. I miss ALL of my sisters but especially my younger sister. I'm going to share some OLD photos of us -- the rest of the post might bore you, but at least the photos might distract you:

Blog_JJ1970.jpg
Karamursel AFB, Turkey, 1969

blog_sisters1971.jpg
I kept that pink bear till I was 22

blog_JJShowalter.jpg
This photo was taken in 1971 - the year we moved to Oklahoma

The main reason for my sneaking by to post is my wanting to talk about some of the thoughts I've had due to the ongoing dialogue at Hannabirke. I'm linking to the entire blog because I think I'd do a disservice by just linking to bits and pieces. In a nutshell, it's caused me to think more about my role and my clothing and how my clothing reflects my life. Since I became a (mostly) stay-at-home mom in 1997, I've relished my freedom from the tyranny of pantyhose and fully embraced my daily uniform - jeans and knits. I no longer need to dress to impress (professionally) but am focused more on function, utility, comfort. But I've decided to kick it up a notch and get rid of anything that doesn't reflect my style or color preferences. There are "reasons" but it's not all that deep to anybody but me -- and it relates to my desire to look closer to my chronological age. I'm thankful for my genes and my genetic predisposition to having good skin and hair and lack of "smile" lines, but I don't know that my choice to dress so much younger than I am is making me feel the way I want to feel. The changes are likely to be imperceptible, but when I walk into a room, I want to feel a certain way and carry myself a certain way . . . for ME. And although I can't control the impressions people form when they meet me, I can control some of my own details and choices. And I'm not fishing for compliments or feedback, but I am writing things down so that I follow through. It's always been my choice NOT to wear "mom" jeans and not to be "frumpy." I do those things for myself out of self-respect, and you wouldn't believe the things people feel that they can say to somebody who takes these pains -- they treat me as if I'm forming a revolt against womankind's right to be frumpy. I am not. It's my own choice and my own decision -- one that I made many years before it was even close to being an issue. NO FRUMP. EVER. My choices don't mean I am judging you. I would put on make-up every day whether I see anybody outside my home or not.

So if you've read this far, you're probably wondering how I extrapolated all that from somebody's blog entries and why I suddenly felt compelled to ruthlessly rid myself of half the clothes in my closet (already a sparse collection) -- it was because I couldn't move forward until I released what I didn't want. You've heard "don't think about what you don't want," right? There were several things hanging in my closet that were still making me think of what I didn't want. Basically, there are emotions attached to some of my things and until those things are released, I can't release the emotions.

It's also changed my mind about things I "thought" I wanted to knit. All of this is related, believe it or not. That's why I'm releasing stash - so I can move forward. And nothing is escaping this filtering process right now -- the knitting, the projects, the way I spend my time. The blog is here to stay, however -- I love writing here; it's not going anywhere and there will be no sudden disappearance. Thank you for hanging in there with me, for reading me, commenting and sharing.

October 17, 2007

Be selfish

I worked today so you don't get an in-progress photo of the Leaf Lace scarf. I'm about one third of the way into it now and still at the giddy-romance stage. I don't get tired of knitting it and often have to put it away before I'm ready. Projects should always feel this way, don't you think? I'm finally listening to myself (heart and gut) and figuring out what I enjoy knitting and wearing. Knitters - just be selfish. Knit what you love. Avoid the pressure and the bandwagon unless you see something you really want to knit. Figure out what your "style" is. And have fun.

Pumpkin dishcloth
Click on the photo for more details at Flickr


October 07, 2007

Did you see?

My sister's newest reality show: I Wanna Look Like a High School Cheerleader Again

And she's the producer, not a contestant :-)

October 05, 2007

Feeling like Fall

Socks with Crocs
ONline Supersocke 100, Holiday - Color 90

Earlier this week, I shared my Socktoberfest 2007 goal of knitting socks for my family. My husband already has handknit socks, so I'm focusing on knitting socks for each of the kids -- and using yarn in their favorite colors.

My youngest son loves orange -- he even chose orange Crocs this past summer. His older brother chose a safer color -- blue Crocs. They'll each get socks to match their Crocs. My daughter loved the Madeline Tosh "Lettuce Leaf" sock yarn so I'm going to knit her socks with those. Can I knit three pairs of socks by the end of October? We'll see.

I also recently finished a basic ribbed beanie with leftover Cascade 220. I've got another hat on the needles but it's a "practice" hat for my son. For a number of reasons, his learning to knit hasn't been our focus this past week, but we have a long weekend coming up and I hope to take advantage of the extra time.

Basic Beanie

The thought has kind of crept up on me that I need to knit more for my family. I love the idea of knitting for charity, but I want each of my kids to each have useful things that are handknit by their mom. How shameful would it be if I knit hats (or socks or scarves) for others when my own kids don't have them?

Thank you very much to those of you who've helped me release some of my stash! I've figured out that the "stash" number on Ravelry is static regardless of whether a yarn has been moved from the main stash page to the "for sale/trade" page. I'm trying not to obsess about that too much. Part of me would like the overall stash number to decrease. Most of what I've released are yarns I've had for two or more years -- some are yarns I purchased as a new knitter. And there's a bit more to come if you all are still interested. It's very empowering to think about the future "dream" projects and figure out what I most enjoy knitting and what I get excited about. Socks. Scarves. Shawls. Hats. I'm learning that I like simple, classic clothing best on me. It's just all very enlightening and I hope to be able to work through some of my thoughts and put them here soon.

Last but not least, I put together a lovely bracelet based on some inspiration about the meaning behind turquoise gemstones. I had enough gemstones and closures to make two bracelets, so I'm keeping one and selling one:

Turquoise

If you're interested, the bracelet is $39 and includes postage and handling (now spoken for). As before, the first person to express an interest will have priority.

September 23, 2007

This train has flown off the rails

Friends, I'm starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed and out of control with my luck and my ever-growing stash. I've been trying to be honest in the recording and photographing the stash but (ahem), I've realized recently that not everybody photojournals their stash.

Ravelry Stash

So my secret's out -- I'm not a stashless knitter (yet). However, rather than knit it all up right this minute, I'm going to have a stash sale here on the blog (stay tuned). BUT . . . if you're on Ravelry, you can check out the "sale/trade" section for "TwistedKnitter."

For what it's worth, I'm a bit of a fanatic about updating my projects. I love the visual evidence that Ive finished over 60 things! I'm still missing photos and project notes on a couple of dozen items, so I could easily be close to 100 completed projects by the time I'm finished updating.

Ravelry Projects

I can't stress it enough -- if you're not on Ravelry yet, start photographing your finished objects (and stash, if youre so inclined). For great digital photography tips, check out Lolly's Weekend Photography Workshop. My own recommendations for shooting yarn and projects include:

1. Turn off the flash - you shouldn't ever need to use it for photographing yarn
2. Use natural light but not strong sunlight (pick a spot by a sunny window)
3. Get familiar with your camera's "macro" feature and use it

Those are just the top three EASY tips for ANY type of digital camera. In the past, I've failed to do all of the above -- but now you don't have to.

September 22, 2007

Yarn Harlot (Post 2 of 2)

Harlot_Visit.jpg

I wanted to wait to post part two of the Yarn Harlot's Houston Visit because I knew that several others would end up with more entertaining stories and photos than I have (and now many of you know why I don't have a publishable photo with Stephanie). I wasn't disappointed! I've really enjoyed reading all of the accounts of her visit and viewing others' photos.

Here are a handful for your reading (and photo viewing) pleasure, in no particular order:

Twisted Yarns
Plum Texan, Post 1
Plum Texan, Post 2
Sea Anemone Knits
Twisted Texan
Big Pink Cookie (of Pointy Sticks' podcast fame)
Sweater Project
Knitivity / Knitterman
Knit RN
Everwhelming Liz

One of the highlights of her book signing at the shop was when she picked up Heather's in-progress "sweater of many stitches" (on straight needles) and started knitting -- I got a good look at her method of hooking one needle under her right arm while she knits. Although I know that many people knit this way (including Deb Stoller), I had never seen it in person.

Perhaps to some of you who don't read her blog regularly, the reaction to her visit seems a bit overblown -- I think you'll get it if you go see her when she visits your town. And to Debbie in Georgia, I just have to say that I was equally as impressed with your blog entry about her Atlanta visit and loved getting a glimpse of your yarn store and southern hospitality.

September 20, 2007

Yarn Harlot (Post 1 of 2) :: Cosmic Twist

By now you've heard a bit here and there about the Yarn Harlot's visit to Houston (Spring), Texas -- hosted by Twisted Yarns. I had a great time -- Stephanie was wonderful and gracious and VERY funny. The whole night almost made me forget that I had a dentist appointment the next morning -- for what was supposed to be a routine cleaning. Yikes. Nearly two hours in the chair, nitrous oxide and many shots later (and a sore jaw today), along with a much lighter bank account, I still feel too loopy to properly post the details of Stephanie's visit. It deserves a detailed post.

I really thought she would be funny JUST about knitting - and that perhaps she'd say a lot of things about stash and yarn that were kind of funny. Wrong. She's funny about everything -- things totally unrelated to knitting. And though I would like to share those with you, I don't know how. Just do go see her if you get a chance.

So instead of writing about my evening with the Harlot, I'm watching funny movies trying to get back in a writing and knitting mood. I emailed two people yesterday who I knew would get a laugh out of the one photo that managed to turn out okay of me and Stephanie (taken while she was signing my book). And I can't post it. (But if you're nice and I know you and you have a wicked sense of humor . . . leave a comment and we'll see).

Monday night I was really tired and my seven-year old son asked me to teach him how to knit so he could knit ME some socks. For me. From him. Soft socks, he said. I cast on some scrap yarn on huge needles and was sweating profusely trying to show him how to do a knit stitch. He ended up transferring stitches from one needle to another without wrapping them first. Because I was tired, I promised him I would teach him soon and help him, but it seemed difficult for me to figure out a way that he could grasp the idea of knitting -- because he REALLY wants to knit me some socks. All day Tuesday while he was at school, I agonized over it and he mentioned it again in the car on the way home from school. But I had to leave him ALL NIGHT to go see Stephanie speak. And you know . . . in the middle of the funny, she gave me the answer (and it's in Knitting Rules too). You teach a beginner to knit by casting on for a hat and YOU knit several rounds before handing them the needles so they can knit. By the time they're tired of knitting, it might be really close to time for decreasing. She doesn't mention purling -- instead it's "the opposite of knitting" (perhaps paraphrased). And I thought it was brilliant. So in case he brought it up again, I thought I'd have a hat "ready" for him to knit. I cast on last night at the boys' bedtime. My oldest son just wanted to be tucked in and my seven-year old was still a bit too wiggly. He sat up in my bed and watched me cast on and yawned and said, "I still want to learn how to knit," and fell asleep.

Here are the photos I've uploaded so far -- in slideshow format.

September 15, 2007

I've been here before :: Doldrums

I'm in the knitting doldrums and since I have no progress to show in spite of doing what feels like a lot of knitting (Habu scarf, Fleece Artist sock, swatching for a Renee Baby Blanket), I'm going to share some belated thanks for a wonderful gift I received from Nora last week:

obi_nora.jpg

I was so humbled to receive it -- I had already admired this very scarf on Nora's Flickr so I was very surprised when I opened the package. The details, the fabric, and the texture are so difficult to describe, but she has generously posted instructions so that you can make your own.

For those of you who might be wondering if I'm working on logging my 5400 minutes, yes, I am:

earrings_30.jpg

I've been averaging more than 30 minutes a day because my goal is to be able to FINISH what I've started during a given block of time. Beading and jewelry is a perfect thing to do during a 30- to 45-minute session. It won't replace knitting, but I'll have actual results to show for the time I spend. I've been making bracelets and chandelier earrings -- once the items are gifted, I can share more photos. My "practice" earrings in the photo above are in L.A. right now but I already have plans for more of them -- each pair different than the ones preceding.

And for the local knitters, I'm sure you've heard who's coming to town next Tuesday, right? Stephanie Pearl-McPhee -- the Yarn Harlot. My co-workers and I will all be working Tuesday during the event, helping things run smoothly and assisting with the book signing afterward. Please say hello if you're one of my readers! I'll be taking photos before and after and might be juggling a few cameras, so I might want to take YOUR photo too. AND after this event is over, I'm going to have to figure out a way to go see Laurie in mid-October! Wanna go with?

Listening: WOXY Vintage on itunes

September 07, 2007

Imaginary blog entries

It feels like I posted blog entries since last week, but I guess I only wrote them in my head.

I have some overdue thanks to post and one of them is for an impromptu Back2School swap I joined at the last minute. My swap partner was Stacey of Crimson Purl. Even though this swap was open to anybody (not just knitters), I was glad to be paired with a knitter anyway. I had a great time picking "supplies" for her and was delighted with what she chose for me:

Back2SchoolSwap.jpg

She included a cute hand-stamped card and everything was packed inside a plastic pencil box with a lime green lid -- there were yellow and orange star-shaped Post-it® notes, Post-it® tape flags, orange highlighter tape (knitters -- are you using this tape?), mini mechanical pencils, highlighters, a spiral-bound notepad and a book cover. I love the thoughtful touch of her having color-coordinated everything. Thank you, Miss Stacey!

August 28, 2007

De-ruffled and redone :: SURSA

De-ruffled and Redone:

sursa_redux.jpg


Yarntini.jpg

I knit my first Sursa in my favorite NORO SIlk Garden Colorway (84) and loved it and wore it many times. Since knitting my second Sursa, I decided to take off the green ruffle on my first Sursa. I love it both ways, but the de-ruffled version weighs much less and the ruffle won't be the most prominent thing about the shawl any longer. I had forgotten how much of the Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky I had used -- nearly 100 grams. Probably not the best idea to use that particular yarn, but I loved the green so much. And now the wonderful reds in the Silk Garden seem to pop so much more.

Are you on Ravelry yet?

Ravelry has proven to be a wonderful resource for project management and planning. It's delightful to get reacquainted with my finished projects and my wonderful stash. When I dig through my yarns to take photos, I find that I am the happiest when I play with my sock yarns. (Do you think my stash is trying to tell me something)? I probably wouldn't have taken note of it had I not just read this entry on Grumperina's (Kathy's) blog: A Complete Knitter. I'm not ready yet to say I'm not a sweater knitter -- I think I still might be. But I don't get as excited about my sweater yarns as I do my sock yarns. And also . . . while I love the *idea* of lace knitting (and have the lace patterns and yarn to prove it), the reality of lace is that my lifestyle doesn't lend itself to the intense concentration that's required. And the message from the knit-universe seems to be that simply ASKING lace knitters for help will likely be met with an incredulous, "Oh that's so easy," (not for me) or "you should be able to do that" (I'm not). I no longer have anybody nearby who is willing to help me with my knitting -- lace or otherwise. I'm supposed to figure it out on my own. But I know that I know socks -- thanks to good friends and the internet.

And did you hear? I won something! I commented regarding the lovely sock yarn Brenda had on her blog and -- I WON THAT YARN!! How generous of Brenda (thank you!) to enable my shameful commenting and greed. It's a wonderful colorway that I think was meant for me and I said so. Thank you, Brenda! Go check out her blog, Molecular Knitting, and add her to your reads. She posts great cocktails made by her beloved "M." I rarely drink, but now I know where to go if I want to try to mix something fun. And there's knitting too . . . and sometimes beading.

Speaking of blogging, I came across a great entry regarding blogging: Remedies for the Small Blogger Blues. Some background: I had unwisely allowed myself to get sucked into reading what became an unpleasant thread on a message board regarding blogging. This blog entry was a refreshing reminder about where my focus should be. Read it and then go ahead and click over to the one about "branding."

I'm still trying to get in to a groove now that school's started. I don't have as much open-ended time as I thought I would, but I am making an effort to work on my goals -- even if it's just thirty minutes a day. During the school year, that will add up to 5400 minutes of FOCUSED effort towards something I want to achieve. I don't know if that's as interesting to you as it is to me . . . but, WOW . . . 5400 minutes.

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August 17, 2007

Ripple Blanket

It started innocently enough -- an email exchange regarding NORO Kureyon vs. Patons SWS vs. Plymouth BOKU and ideas for which yarns might yield the best end result for a felted bag. Less than two weeks later, after a swap that worked out much too well in my own favor, I received this from my friend Stacey:

Stacey's Ripple

I love Ripple Blankets but I can't crochet anything beyond a chain. And there's no "sort of" mentioning something to Stacey without getting a gorgeous blanket delivered to you in exactly the colors you had in mind. I mentioned wanting an afghan for my oldest son and while there's currently an ownership dispute between the two boys about this ripple blanket, the intended recipient loves it!

Thank you, Stacey!

August 10, 2007

Two worlds and a new knit

It’s been a quiet time – my mind is quiet, my environment is quiet. I don’t know whether to attribute that to having spent a lot less time online, but I suspect that’s a large part of it. I’m not as distracted. I see more.

Last night while we were watching a movie with the kids, I started something I could knit in the semi-dark. I’ve re-purposed the yarn I was using for the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl – a dark green Cascade 220 worsted – to knit the Turtleneck Tube Vest in Fitted Knits (Stefanie Japel). The heat and the yarn have me anticipating cooler weather and autumn.

FK_TTV2_Blog.jpg

And . . . I happened upon something yesterday that I feel explains who I am. Two grandfathers, two lives and two desperately different men. On this continent was a man who worked in a West Virginia coal mine. Across the ocean, there’s another man who wasn’t a laborer – he worked in the insurance industry. Both of these men are where I’m from. And until yesterday I had never seen a photo of my paternal grandfather and it was completely by accident that I found it in my Dad’s things:

John, 1945:

john1945.jpg

I can’t describe how these photos answer questions for me, but they do. Pieces suddenly fit and I understand everything.

Ryokichi:

Ryokichi.jpg

August 08, 2007

More Random - 8

My friend Kat tagged me for the 8-Random meme making its rounds on knitting blogs and since she was kind enough to tag me and I had the time to think and write, I’m going to oblige.

1. I try to be a good listener and I make time if I need to for my family and friends. It amazes me how often people are enormously “too busy” (and self important?) for others.

2. I believe that one of the things that has made me emotionally strong is growing up with my 3 sisters. Thanks to them, I can handle criticism, brutal honesty and insults without internalizing it. I love nothing more than a good argument, but I can’t handle drama queens, divas or whiners.

3. I generally tend to avoid large groups of people (either virtually or in real life . . . see #2). In situations where such groups are inevitable, I will gravitate toward an older or less-contentious person.

4. When I find something I love, I always want to share it. I find it hard to keep a secret about something wonderful and I generally don’t like surprises. Don’t ever assume I would love a surprise party – I would hate it.

5. I use Bloglines but I don’t have more than 136 subscriptions at any one time. If I get close to 136, I start unsubscribing from feeds.

6. Material possessions don’t impress me. Good character, integrity, and a quick and quirky sense of humor are rare – and those are the only things that truly impress me.

7. I used to be a compulsive worrier – I would lie awake all night and worry about things (i.e. imaginary tragedies involving my friends or family). The only thing that broke the cycle was the book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” by Dale Carnegie.

8. I’d rather know more about you than try to get you to know things about me, which is why these memes are so difficult – I’d rather read them than write them.

Thank you, Kat! Now I’m supposed to tag eight others but it’s going to take some time to figure out who I want to tag, so I’ll update this blog entry when I do.

If you came for the Habu Kushu Kushu progress, I've included a photo for you:

joined_blog.jpg

I have so much more knitting to do on this scarf. For the next one, I will stick to the merino/steel combo. There's plenty of merino left to have done much more. Lesson learned.


August 06, 2007

Be thankful for your connection

Be thankful for your internet connection. I’ve always been grateful for my speedy wireless cable connection, but apparently I took it for granted. It will be as much as a week before I have my speedy cable internet back.

My husband has generously allowed me the use of his wireless card and his work laptop, but I would feel a little guilty using his computer to browse celebrity gossip blogs. Instead, I limit my time on his laptop to reading my favorite knitting blogs and uploading images to Flickr. I use a dial-up connection (averaging a mere 45.2 kbps) when I need to download my emails. And yet – I can’t complain about how much more productive I’ve been since my connection fried. My Habu scarf has grown and I’m now on the portion of the scarf where I’m knitting solely with the silk stainless steel “thread.” I’ve not yet reached that happy state of knitting where knitting it seems to flow. I find myself wishing I was still knitting the combined merino/steel.

When I’m not knitting the Habu scarf, I’m organizing, reorganizing, and decluttering my knitting supplies. (Ravelry just isn’t very handy when you don’t have an internet connection). I’m reading a lot – catching up on some great magazines and books. And I’m writing – not just the blog entry kind of writing, but real writing. I’ve also baked a lot of cookies and gone to the movies (Bourne Ultimatum).

Right now I’m at the library after a failed attempt at going to my favorite coffee shop to score some free wireless internet. Look what happened:

Its_a_grind.jpg

This isn't JUST the coffee shop with free wireless -- it's the coffee shop where the knitters meet once a week.

So I'm here:

Library.jpg

It's cool, cozy and quiet. I was delighted to learn that they have free wireless and comfy chairs. I was going to finish working on my 8-Random meme (I was tagged by Kat), but when I sat down to re-read it, I didn't care for what I wrote. I obviously have some unresolved feelings about some things, so I'm going to deal with those rather than force my issues on my readers. I think I have to try to be a bit more random and a bit less . . . bitchy.

August 01, 2007

The way things are . . .

The way things are is just the way things are. I'm becoming well-acquainted with the fact that there are completely opposing emotions and circumstances co-existing -- grief and loss - joy and blessings -- all at once. Part of what had my stomach in knots last month was my dad's transition from a place he'd lived and loved for the last 36 years to a new place. In his former (pre-dementia) mind, he was quite reluctant to fly -- and hadn't flown for almost 25 years. (Astute readers will remember that he used to be in the U.S. Air Force and the irony isn't lost on his four well-traveled daughters).

We were able to go see him a few days before my youngest sister flew in to arrange for his move and accompany him on his plane trip from Oklahoma City to Yakima, Washington. Our anxiety, fear and worry were for nothing.

Look closely and you might see his smile:

dadflightblog.jpg

We weren't prepared for and didn't expect his delight . . . his characteristic smile gives it away. (As is the nature of dementia, he doesn't remember the flight now).

Mom & Dad 1951

All of us are adjusting to the way things are right now and while we're sad about this stage of their lives, we're grateful our parents are still with us. I have a bad habit these days of over-sharing about the details that go along with this transition and about their condition, but the fact is, we have so much to be thankful for. Last year I was clueless about elder-care issues, but I've since learned about Medicare, Medicaid, military benefits, nursing homes. And then there's the kindness of strangers -- people on the other side of the phone or behind a desk who are willing to help; friends who sense the desperation and the needs and drop everything to offer help or a hug; sisters who reconnect with each other and put their own lives aside in order to get things done. For that, I'm willing to go through this.

Of course, there is still knitting and much more, but I had to get all of this written down for myself. Tomorrow I'll share about the yarn stores I visited while we were in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

It is not length of life, but depth of life. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

July 22, 2007

Returning

Returning to this blog, the rhythmic routine of my life, will be a process. I've got a lot to share and haven't decided whether to manage that in one blog entry or spread it across several. I highly recommend a planned break from blogging. I'm renewed and refreshed. Thank you, readers, for hanging in there until I return.

NOROSilkGarden.jpg

Have you ever tried to chip away at something to uncover the REAL things? For me, it's been a process of doing this on my own behalf. I expose myself to so many visual treats and ideas that I have to force myself to stop and filter them for my own benefit. I reminded myself that I'm fortunate enough right now to be able to knit what I love with the yarns and materials that I enjoy. I don't have the luxury of large blocks of time (do any of us?) but I am blessed to be able to knit for pure enjoyment. So my returning focus is that I will be keeping that in mind (with a healthy dose of self-discipline) while I decide what to tackle next (whether knitting or otherwise) -- and doing so not out of guilt or shame regarding discarded ideas, but by aggressively pursuing what I love. With focus.

(I'm not officially back yet . . . but soon. I will be replying to older emails and comments in about a week)

July 01, 2007

Knitting :: Blogging

Workspace.jpg
This is where I"ll be for a while . . .

During July, I'll be knitting and taking photos . . . but not blogging. I'll resume normal blogging and photo posting sometime in early August. Meanwhile, some of you might notice that Bloglines is updating, but I'm just doing some housekeeping (fixing broken links and editing entries) throughout the blog.

Continue reading "Knitting :: Blogging" »

June 26, 2007

Orange

One of my favorite design blogs, Decor8, is featuring my current favorite color -- orange. Orange isn't just the vibrant color you see on my blog header* and in my background . There are other muted, subtle shades as well -- peach, pumpkin, persimmon, apricot and more. Lately, it's a color I don't tire of. Although I haven't found a way to subtly weave the color in to my living space, I'm trying. Slowly, I'm collecting the inspiration pieces that will help me display this color in my home without overpowering.

orange1.jpg

I love reading about the significance of different colors and why we're drawn to certain colors over others. Typically, when I wear a bold color, it's an accessory that I'm using to punch up a neutral or white; for me, orange means vibrancy, creativity, joy. I've found that most people feel strongly about orange -- they either love it or they don't.

* blog header designed by Fluffa!

June 25, 2007

Plymouth Boku

I'm going to share a blog I'm addicted to -- Color + Design Blog -- specifically, today's entry: Color Inspiration: Knit Socks of All Sorts. There's a lot there -- prepare to be overwhelmed.

I might end up having two blog entries today - one for a finished BOKU bag and a separate entry for the Blue Sky Alpacas project. Here's the bag knit with one skein of Plymouth BOKU:

BOKUBag.jpg

Here's the in-progress photo I took yesterday:

BOKUBag1.jpg

I had a few issues while I was knitting with the BOKU - while I love the colorways (especially this one - #8), I had some sort of adverse reaction while I was working with it. I was fine after I put it away and I think it's okay since it's been felted. It was such a quick project that I wasn't going to abandon it, but if I was knitting something larger with it, I would have had to stop.

Behind the scenes around here, I've been brainstorming some HABU combinations (for myself and other HABU fans) and also preparing for the arrival of the supplies I need for assembly of my Etsy wares.

Continue reading "Plymouth Boku" »

June 13, 2007

I'm not short on ideas . . . I'm just short

I'm not short on ideas or inspiration but I do sometimes lack focus and discipline. No surprise there! But having put some of my ideas and thoughts out there, I feel I have a responsibility to at least update on my progress.

First, I want to mention that there's nothing at Ravelry any of you are missing out on if you're not "in" yet. When you get your invitation, you'll catch up quickly if you're already taking photos of your knits and stash and uploading them to Flickr. It's a database and an organization tool. If there's one thing that Ravelry will give you that is currently impossible or unwieldy to do, is a quick way of figuring out who has knit something -- the Monkey socks, for instance. (And you won't believe how many people have knit Monkey).

All of this organization has tied in nicely with what I was already doing in preparation for my new Etsy venture. I always do a major purge and declutter right before I launch something new and this is no exception. It has helped to contain information somewhere in addition to this blog. (There's nothing over there that isn't here, btw). The backstory -- one of the most effective time management books for me is Getting Things Done by David Allen. Ravelry is a collection bucket. It won't replace blogging (at least I hope it doesn't make you all stop blogging) and it's not a social networking site (I thought it was a knitter's version of MySpace -- it's not). So don't despair if you're not in yet. You will be. And with that, I'll now shut up about Ravelry.

Much more importantly, I have a few things I want to share that have inspired me - this lovely project bag from Lisa L handmade by her friend from recycled kimono fabric:

KimonoPouch.jpg
(There's a Monkey inside)

and a Zakka Bag from Nora:

zakka.jpg

with some stitch markers:

StitchMarkers.jpg

And while you're clicking, please go see this lovely Kusha Kusha scarf that Kat knit. It was even beautiful before she felted it. Someday I'll knit my own Kusha Kusha

Finally, this fabric I've been wanting for the Amy Butler Cabo Halter (I bought the pattern from ReproDepot over a year ago):

Amy Butler Fabric

Tomorrow I'll have more lovely things to post. It's a blessing to have access to so much inspiration out there along with so much kindness and generosity of spirit. Thank you all.

June 11, 2007

We thought the blog was enough

We thought the blog was enough, the Flickr an enhancement, and the knitting journal de rigeur. And all of it is still good and necessary, but Ravelry is the cherry on the sundae. When you get your invite (and you will, I'm quite sure), plan to spend hours getting your projects added. It's all worth it.

(If you're a knitter or crocheter and you haven't already requested an invite, go to Ravelry.com and scroll down to the lower righthand corner . . . add your email).

The biggest surprise was how much knititng I have actually finished -- much more than I thought. And what I love most about Ravelry is that it is database-driven. It is something I would have loved to have hobbled together myself -- and yet, I couldn't have done a fraction of what they did.

I don't think it will change the way I blog, but I'll be linking to photos on Flickr more often. I'll be making it a point to shoot better photos of my finished knits also.

Rowan Soft Lux
Click photo above to see more on Flickr

And guess what else I figured out? I'm addicted to Rowan Calmer -- stashing it, that is. Although I haven't stashed any in 2007, I did buy a sweater's worth of Calmer in 2004:

Rowan Calmer "Joy"
For "Audrey" - Rowan Magazine 35

2005:

Rowan Calmer 2005 Stash
For Rowan "Soul"

and 2006:

Rowan Calmer 2006 Stash
For a future CeCe

Today I've committed to taking a break from entering stuff in Ravelry -- but that doesn't mean I won't be there scoping out what other knitters are working on.

June 05, 2007

More

I couldn't agree more.

Thank you everybody for the wonderful birthday messages. I've had a great birthday week so far.

About a month ago, I'd mentioned that I would officially open my Etsy shop on my birthday. I've decided to push that back a month or so while I work out the details and get some feedback on some of my ideas. Ultimately, I don't want it to interfere with what little knitting time I already have.

For over a year now, I've been working on being more self disciplined -- add to that a somewhat new fascination with a stashless knitting philosophy (and finding some stashless knitters out there in the blogosphere) and project monogamy -- i.e. sticking with one major knitting project until it's finished. (CAVEAT: socks are allowed to be started and finished at any time because there's always room for a sock on the side). When I first began to think in terms of seeing something through knitting-wise, it was so foreign (some insight into the scattered way I normally think). But I've noticed I'm more patient with myself than before. I know that when I make a mistake in my knitting, I have to fix it. I can't abandon it and start something new (ahem). If I want to move forward, I have to deal with my mistakes.

So, as you all know, I've graduated my first-born, and she's moved on (literally and figuratively) to the next phase of her life. She learned how to knit almost two years ago and is much more of a natural knitter than I am. She has a love for small gauge stockinette knitting -- something I never really mastered. Ironically enough, I wasn't the one who taught her to knit. Most of the credit for that goes to Mariann, who's also the one who taught me just about everything except the knit stitch.

There really is a reward to those who stick with it, face their mistakes and know when to ask for help.

3generations.jpg

EJJ2007.jpg


May 29, 2007

Leaning Bellini

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I've been waylaid by high school graduation festivities, but will be back with the drawing soon! Your patience will be rewarded with a few extra goodies added to the drawing -- there will be at least THREE winners.

Continue reading "Leaning Bellini" »

May 22, 2007

Random Seven

Two people tagged me for this meme -- Jennie and Cheryl. I'm going to TRY be a good sport for a change.

Seven random things about me.

1. I hate matchy-matchy things. I like contrast. I like color, patterns and texture. It's taken me many years to realize this about myself. I especially enjoy colorful accessories against a very basic, neutral palette.

2. Clutter doesn't bother me, but I am intensely aware that it bothers others, so I try to do something about it in my own environment. If I were to visit your home, clutter would be a positive sign that we are likeminded.

3. Almost 4 years ago, a neighbor and I were becoming friends. I invited her over for lunch one day and she mocked me when I shared my excitement about learning to knit. I never spoke with her after that . . . but I did keep knitting.

4. I believe that nothing is more important than sharing somebody's excitement if they've made an effort to let you in on what they're truly passionate about.

5. I abuse adverbs when I write. I often re-read my blog posts and take them out. Even after I edit, there are usually way too many.

6. My biggest pet peeve are bloggers who fail to edit their posts when there are obvious grammatical or spelling errors. If a reader tells me about a spelling or grammar error, I'll correct it and thank them. :-) Strangely, enough, however, I don't think I've ever emailed a blogger about spelling or grammar errors. I leave them alone in their ignorance.

7. I avoid people who overshare, are close talkers, and are one-uppers. Lately I seem to have all three of these annoying qualities myself. Avoid me.

Just about everybody I regularly read has already done the Seven (or Eight) Random Things Meme. I'm supposed to tag seven people and it's proving to be tough to find somebody who hasn't done it already. So I'd like to challenge my readers to answer the Seven Random Things here in my comments (if you don't have a blog) or link to the one you've already done. From those who post a comment, your name will be placed in a drawing for this:

Laceweight Malabrigo
Malabrigo Laceweight Yarn - Sealing Wax

This is the same yarn I used to knit the Dragon Scale Scarf.

May 15, 2007

Discovery

I've figured it out. It's more difficult to write an exciting blog entry about knitting when there is no NEW knitting to show. Could it be that project monogamy influences my blogging habits? I used to be predictable about starting something new whenever the work-in-progress began to be a little less . . . exciting. Now I stick with it through the boring parts and am more blog-silent because of it.

However, the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl continues to engage me. I'm at the point now where a row is over 170 stitches -- and still growing by 2 stitches every other row. And in spite of the craziness around here, I do have something delightful to share; it's a beautiful project bag made by Olga for an impromptu swap:

CHANEL Fabric Project Bag from Olga

It's large enough to carry at least one skein (but up to three skeins easily) of a sock-in-progress in addition to related supplies (needles, DPNs, even a knitting handbook if you need it). And she sells these cute commuter box bags in her Etsy shop. I love her touch of having the matching Swarovski crystals on the zipper pull. Thank you so much, Olga.

And the upcoming project I hinted at in my last entry? It's not the tank top, but the paper lanterns from Alterknits:

paperlanterns.jpg

These have been on my "must-knit-someday" list for a while but until last week, I didn't have the Shosenshi linen paper yarn or the Paper Moire from Habu. But thanks to somebody who graciously ventured into the Habu Textiles showroom for me, I now have exactly what I need to make the lanterns.

And following a theme that Elizabeth discovered a while back, I'm going to bury something important at the bottom of my entry. I decided that undertaking a podcast is too huge of a commitment right now. I don't have the time to listen to them, much less record my own. (Reality has set in). Instead, I'm going to indulge a different creative urge. I can't mention much or show you anything right now, but it involves Etsy, new domain registration and more. I'll give you more details on my birthday. I'm excited about it!

April 30, 2007

Transitions

I'm in a state of flux right now, but it's not a bad thing. It's just necessary.

My sister left yesterday and we both feel inspired and ready to reach for the changes instead of running from them. While our parents are making adjustments in their respective life stages, we're considering some changes to their care, and we daughters are continuing to work as a team. When we get on the other side of this, I might feel better about sharing some of the things we've been through. I know my blog has been quiet lately and that's why.

Thanks to Sallie, I have new information regarding my Dad's genealogy. My sister also found an envelope containing our mom's Japanese family history -- a certified copy provided by my uncle, circa 1988. Now all I need is a translator (we're working on that), to figure out which one of my ancestors was a samurai. My uncle had mentioned a long time ago that he was working on getting the family history together for me but I didn't realize he had sent it to my mom.

I'm almost finished (still) with the Dragon Scale Scarf and have chosen my next knitting project -- it literally came to me in a dream. It's a project I've had at the back of my mind, but didn't really think I'd actually KNIT it or wear, but I dreamed that I just needed to knit it and it's very plain and unspectacular. How do you like how vague I am?

Also in the works -- a design project. I'm hesitant to even put out there that I'm designing something -- but I am. It's something I'm hoping to teach as a class in the Fall for beginning knitters who are new to knitting in the round. Sometimes simple is best.

designpossibilityblog.jpg

April 11, 2007

Detoxify, Purge & Renew

I've stopped reading and watching toxic material and I've purged some unpleasantness in order to make room in my mind for new and better things. (The things that I find toxic might not be an affront to anybody else, so I'm not sharing my list here).

Since ridding myself of those things, I've been craving color -- vibrant, bold, energizing color. Things have been gray and neutral in my thoughts for far too long. It finally occurred to me that some of the things that I choose to watch and read have been contributing to that.

Color might not do for you what it does for me, but it injects energy into whatever I'm working through. For instance, collaging some big changes in 2003:

Print of 2003 Altered Book Spread

Exploring some possibilities in 2005:

Colored Brads

Taking some joy in something simple in 2007:

eggcolorblog.jpg

And for all points in between, there's knitting:

knitscolorsblog.jpg

I don't know if I'll ever get used to hearing bad news. Yesterday we found out that Sassy has heartworm disease (most likely she had it before we adopted her in late October). She's a young dog and otherwise very healthy. I'm sure the reason she's now a member of our family is so that we can be the ones to see that she gets the best possible treatment (which won't actually begin till November 2007).

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts regarding project monogamy vs. project A.D.D. I'm in both camps. I won't say that I'll always be project-monogamous, but for now, I see the value. If it's lace, there's a rhythm. You don't want to set it aside too long. If it's a garment, same thing. For lace, I'll definitely stay focused because there's such a wonderful payoff.

March 28, 2007

Are you a maker or a designer?

Today I gave up on a book I've been reading (received it as a gift a few years ago) because I just cannot reconcile some of the statements -- they don't line up with my own beliefs about what constitutes creativity and creative expression. Since becoming a knitter, I've realized that I love that somebody else has done all the work -- the designing -- and created a pattern for me to follow. Sometimes I don't choose the same color yarn that the designer chose. Often I will reject the designer's yarn choice in favor of what I am able to get from my local yarn store. Regardless, I still prefer to knit from somebody else's pattern. Within that structure there is plenty of room for creativity and many, many wonderful designers to support.

Background: I was reading this post a couple of months ago and it really made me question MYSELF as to whether I would call myself primarily a maker. More recently, I pondered this post (an interview with Alicia Paulson at Create a Connection) in which she answers the question about whether she considers herself a maker or designer. And she nailed exactly how I feel about being happy in spite of choosing to be a maker. I hope you read both blog entries.

I don't intend to disparage the book I was reading, but I'm happy to be free of it now and the concept that I should feel a spiritual responsibility to answer the type of creative inclinations referenced in the book. On the contrary, I've found that my highest creative expression comes in the form of nuturing my relationships (family, friends). Successful living means having the ability to enjoy something for its own sake whether or not there is any reward (fame, fortune, recognition, or a buying public) involved. Knitting, making things, and working with my hands helps bring peace to my little corner of the world.

Are you happy enough to be a maker or are you somebody who's haunted by a creative urge to be or do more? A designer perhaps? (There's more than enough room for both of us -- one can hardly exist without the other). Is it possible I'm missing another category altogether? Has anybody noticed that in the knitting world, we're at the point of having a happy convergence making it an excellent time to be both . . . or either?

Continue reading "Are you a maker or a designer?" »

March 23, 2007

Keeping it real . . . my loose purls

I spent some time with Montse last night and she confirmed what I already knew and have mentioned before -- my purls are loose. She says that I can prevent them in one of a few ways:

1. Practice tightening the purl and loosening the knit stitches
2. Purl with a finer needle than you knit. This only works with stockinette stitch
3. When purling wrap yarn under needle as in plaited purl stitch. On the next row, knit-back the resulting stitches to straighten them up. Again, only for stockinette stitch and a limited number of stitch patterns.
4. Adapt to circular knitting and avoid stitch patterns with groups of purl stitches on the right side -- the odd one is not likely to be a problem.

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Thanks, Montse. I typically use methods 1, 2 and/or 4 to compensate for my issues. And while I know from experience that all these methods work, it doesn't help right now when it means I might have to rip back to the joining round on the sundress I'm knitting (and go up a needle size from the joining point) if I want it to look right. Since it's a shop model, I'm toying with the idea of leaving it as is . . . as an example of what happens when a loose purler knits stockinette flat with a cotton or cotton-blend yarn. In the round, my stitches are tight and even. And I find that my stockinette knitting is fine when I knit with wool. I don't have issues with garter stitch, ribbing, cables or lace (most of the time), but there's nothing less appealing than my "rowing out" issue on cotton yarns. For what it's worth, it's method 2 that works beautifully for me -- I just didn't do it with this pattern.

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While Montse and I both agree that it's difficult to teach ourselves a new method of knitting, I have to say that this is beginning to look VERY appealing:

Continue reading "Keeping it real . . . my loose purls" »

March 22, 2007

The Autotelic Personality

An autotelic activity is one we do for its own sake because to experience it is the main goal. Applied to personality, autotelic denotes an individual who generally does things for their own sake, rather than in order to achieve some later external goal.

An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding.

Time stress has become one of the most popular complaints of the day. But more often than not, it is an excuse for not taking control of our lives.

From Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

March 21, 2007

Yesterday's treats

I treated myself yesterday (thanks, Jayne & Jerri!) to some "ME" time and rare indulgences. First, a trip to the store for two magazines - Home Companion and Dwell. Then, a Grande Mocha Frappucino and finally, a spa pedicure (color: OPI's It's a Doozi, says Suzi) and brow wax. It was a lovely way to welcome Spring.

The best part of my day? Knitting with friends at the coffee shop last night -- something I haven't been able to do in months!

All this, of course, put me a little bit behind in sharing the rest of the results of the impromptu contest I had last week. The lucky winner of this:

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is Isel ! Congratulations, Isel! To determine the winner, I had my husband choose a number between 1 and 31. He chose 17.

Okay, dear friends, I'm in the mood to finish something today. I've yet to reply to some lovely emails and comments I've received but I do want to let you know how much I appreciate your visits here. To those of you who de-lurked and left comments on this entry, thank you! I'm enjoying some wonderful new blog reads and the people behind them.

Finally, I feel compelled to mention that if you haven't had a chance lately (within the last few years) to pick up a copy of Home Companion, please do! There's a wonderful regular feature in there that I love -- An Artist's Life. The previous issue featured Kaffe Fasset. One of the things he said in the article stuck with me and I remember it (even though I gave my issue away so that it could inspire somebody else), "you don't have to abandon one discipline to take up another, [each discipline] informs the other."

It's Spring . . . think about creating a space for yourself (even if it's just a small corner in your room) -- a place to house your inspiration and your ideas. Write down your ideas and nuture them and stop thinking in terms of To Do lists, checklists, bullet points. It's more important to BE than to DO. Happy first day of Spring.

March 19, 2007

Music Mixes

Apologies in advance if this shows up in your feed reader:

March 14, 2007

What I already knew

I already knew that the creative act is not in the purchasing of supplies, it's in what I make with them and the activities involving the tools I have. Obviously I'm not reluctant to show my readers what I buy. I share because I love it when other knitters share in their blogs and on their Flickrs. It inspires me.

To expand on my earlier entry regarding limits -- while limits are a good thing for me, I don't believe ascetism is my answer -- something closer to simple living is my ultimate goal. I've shared all that because I just wanted to go on record that I'm not on a yarn diet and I'm not knitting ONLY from my modest stash. I'll be buying yarn and I'll be letting you know what I buy -- and if you stick around, you'll see me either knit something with it or release it another way. I'm not good at seeing what I need to work on unless I first get rid of the obstacles. In this knitter's life, my obstacles are the skeins of yarn I'll never use. I'll first remove those from the stash and prepare to release them somehow. I'll organize and take a harder look at the rest my stash (more so than I just did this past weekend) and decide whether I'll have the time or desire to complete the yarn's intended project. If not, those items will be de-stashed through my Flickr (first) or my blog -- either for sale, for trade or an outright gift to the first person who expresses an interest.

I also have a milestone coming up in my comments. I'm at 986 comments since beginning this particular blog in September 2005. The 1000th commenter will receive enough NORO Kureyon to knit a Booga Bag. As a consolation prize, I'll also give away one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock to one lucky person commenting on this entry even if I don't reach the 1000th commenter here. Do you feel lucky?

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The Schaefer Anne from the previous entry has been wound and I tried out a few different types of stitch patterns and ideas before I decided to knit a plain sock. In the photo, you'll also see two of my favorite tools for sock knitting -- my small bent-tip tapestry needles (which you can't REALLY see them because they're in their orange Chibi holder - a set of 3); they're small enough to graft tiny stitches on lace- or fingering-weight yarns. For the inevitable dropped stitches, I keep the Addi crochet hook (3mm) nearby (Yarn Market has some great info and photos here regarding the Addi crochet hooks). I'll share photos of my knitting notebook next week since a few of you have asked to see it.

Thanks so much for the get well wishes. I have a lingering cough, but I'm recovering.

Have you checked out the Project Spectrum Flickr Group Pool yet? What about Handknit Street Style?

March 11, 2007

Limits and structure

Early last week, my doctor put me on Tamiflu since one of my sons has had the flu -- his reasoning was that it would PREVENT me from getting the flu. I've taken it before, years ago, when I actually HAD the flu but I've never taken it when I was perfectly fine (and healthy). So I don't know if what happened in the middle of the night Friday night was related to Tamiflu, but I had a sudden fever and upper respiratory distress that ended up lasting through early this morning. Today, I can hardly talk and coughing is still painful. Enough whining though. I'm feeling better (no more fever) but don't try to call me right now because my voice is as good as gone.

Since I felt too awful to knit yesterday, I started going through my yarn stash to wind skeins of yarn and look over my knits-in-progress. I found some things I need to finish and rediscovered yarn that I'd purchased with projects in mind and now I need to rethink them. There were a handful of things in there I regret purchasing -- something from Suss in L.A., a few skeins of KnitPicks yarn, and two skeins of hand-dyed sock yarn purchased online. Even though my regretful things were few and not fatal, from now on I'm going to limit myself to yarn purchased at my local yarn store. Limits are good. Within the limits, I have plenty of freedom. And it just so happens, that's what works best for me.

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I love that there are so many choices and sources for fiber, books and tools, but it can be incredibly overwhelming. I could easily waste the better part of a day just looking at knitting-related websites. When I limit myself to a handful of choices , it makes my life simpler. I know the telltale feeling I get when I'm overstimulated by too much and need a break. Time and money ill-spent has a momentum of its own but I can make a conscious effort to stop. Limits.

Since today was another sick day, I watched Lost in Translation, listened to quiet music and made some decisions. The Schaefer Anne in the first photo is for a pair of socks I'll knit for myself (I haven't decided on a pattern yet). I have a basket of sock yarn that I'm going to cull and will keep in there only the yarns I love. I don't need to be burdened with something that doesn't appeal to me. The point is to see the basket and be inspired. It's also a way to limit myself with regard to sock yarn acquisition. If my sock yarn basket overfloweth, I need to either use the yarn I have or get rid of it before I can buy more.

The Lucinda Guy book is one I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself, but Erica wants to knit the Fireside Blanket (she wants hers to be bright pink and green instead of the red/pink combo in the book). I spent some time flipping through the other cute patterns and am drawn to the cute knitted animals. If you look closely, you can see a few in the photo I took of the book cover.

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes for Erica. She'll enjoy reading them!

March 06, 2007

The other side: digging deeper

(No knitting content)

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My dad was born in Deep Run, Ohio in 1927. He's still alive and his home now is an assisted living center. While his memories are fading, he can recall much of his military history and the places he lived while in the USAF. I've been having a difficult time lately facing the inevitable decline of his mental abilities. There's so much I still want to know.

Both my parents' pasts are mysterious to us as neither one of them talked much about their lives prior to meeting one another. My dad was likely to have become a coal miner like his father had he not lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marine. Of Irish descent, he once told me that his father's family fled Ireland during the potato famine and that his mother's family was from England. I also remember his telling us that we're distantly related to Zane Grey. (I've yet to confirm that, but I'm hoping to learn more from my aunt as she's been an excellent and reliable source of information regarding her and my father's past). So far, I know just enough about my parents to be incredibly curious. The more I uncover, the more I understand and the more I want to know. Quiet and undemonstrative, my father always seemed to have his thoughts and attention elsewhere. He was an accomplished printer, calligrapher, photographer, and gardener. Many of the photos I have of my mother exist because of him. Still, it's a complicated relationship. We've had few deep talks and none of the four of us daughters are close to him.

It's been the recent comments about my knitting journal that made me think of my Dad -- because my sisters and I all share my Dad's love of paper, writing instruments, stationery and mail. It's a happy realization for me that we have that link to him.

“People live for the dream in their hearts. And I have yet to know anyone who has not some secret dream, some hope, however dim, some storied wall to look at in the dusk, some painted window leading to the soul.” (Zane Grey)

February 22, 2007

What Color Red Are You

You Are Red Orange
You are a very genuine person, although it takes a while for you to show the true you.
A bit introverted, you desire respect and affection from those close to you.
You are quite empathetic, and you have a true concern for the well being of others.
Many people have warm, heartfelt memories of you - even if you don't remember them well.

February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

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Actual knitting content will resume soon. Meanwhile, here are some random blog entries I enjoyed recently:

Homesick Texan - Looking for Love Dip
Old School Acres - A Whole Lotta Love
Good to Be Girl - Silk Garden Socks
Bemused - Don't Be a KnitWit
Stumbling Over Chaos - Handknits for Youngsters
Decor 8 - For the Love of Red

January 20, 2007

Knitting and Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
and expecting different results.
Benjamin Franklin

(I agree).

I don't know if my readers have ever noticed that there are some knitting patterns that I've knit a few times. Rather than do the same thing over and over in the same way, I take what I learned from my first one and apply it to the second one (or third -- and so on). So although I'm a repetitious knitter, I'm not an INSANE repetitious knitter.

The Purl Bee Mohair entry reminded me of my first experience knitting with a blended mohair yarn -- Kidsilk Haze. I was instantly smitten. In May 2005, my sister and I visited Knit Cafe and she fell in love with this lace capelet (pronounced "cape-let" and not "cap-uh-let") on one of their mannequins. More of the story here.

I've since knit the third capelet (a much-improved version of my first one pictured in the photo on the blog post linked above) and am still planning to knit a fourth for myself in Kidsilk Haze "Jelly":

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Here's a photo of Capelet Three snapped last year (November 2005) in the same color as the too-tight Capelet One:

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This is a simple lace pattern knit in the round from the bottom up. The only tricky thing is to make sure you bind off loosely. There's hardly a way to redeem the project if you don't. And, I learned that even though I like the sharper tips of the Denise interchangeable circulars, my gauge was so off compared to the Clover bamboo circulars that I had to frog the entire nearly-finished capelet. Check your gauge after knitting several rounds. I'll be making my own next attempt after I finish at least SOME of my works-in-progress. I'll be keeping it for myself.

Earlier this morning, I cast on a sock. I'm waiting for a bit more sunshine to take a photo of it. I am LOVING it -- and what better way to break out of my knitting slump than with a gorgeous sock.

January 17, 2007

On ice

I've been out in it today and it's not Oklahoma- (or Oregon- or New England-) bad. The roads are wet, but not slick. We're just over 35 degrees, so unless it refreezes and stays frozen overnight, we're good to go. I hope I get to see some sunshine soon!

WIth all this weather keeping us inside, you'd think I'd be knitting. But no. I've got nothing.

Meanwhile . . . watch out for falling icicles.

Thank you for the emails and comments with the great podcast suggestions. You'll be the first to know . . .

And this is for my sister Jayne; virtual flowers (with Groovy Girl Oki) till I can send you some fresh ones:

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January 13, 2007

Buffeted

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.

So it feels like a bit of a slump right now, but I'm going to lean into it, go with it. It leads me to reassess, reaffirm.

I know I've been a bit absent and it's because I'm dealing with some . . . things. I'm not consciously or purposefully avoiding your emails, but I am a bit slow in replying. I'm still reading my favorite blogs and making it a point to try to really LISTEN to things. All of you inspire me so much.

Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals;
cherish the music that stirs in your heart,
the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness
that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will
grow all delightful conditions, all, heavenly environment; of these,
if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

In the past few days, I seem to have stumbled across more than a few blogs discussing consumption, acquisitiveness, dissatisfaction and stash-shame. I've been reading it primarily on knitting blogs (which really speaks to the depth and breadth of the knitblog community). I'd link to them, but I feel that they were meant for me to see and read. I have no judgment to pass on what others are dealing with in their own lives. I am not ashamed of my humble stash and I feel that I have remarkable self control when it comes to buying and acquiring yarn (and yes, it might sound lilke denial, but I am at peace with my well-timed acquisitions). I love when other knitters share their finds, their acquisitions. It's a rare knitblogger (in my humble opinion) who has an acquisition "problem." People are where they are due to their own choices and decisions. Dissatisfaction is not always a result of over-consumption.

A few of my readers have asked about my plans to podcast. I still intend to do a podcast, but placed it lower on the list for a while to allow me to focus on important family issues. It's begun to ease up and I'm ready to devote some time to a podcasting venture. I'd love to hear from you regarding what you'd like my podcast to contain. I'm curious about how you feel about a podcast's focus, ideal length, interviews, whether or not to include music. If you comment here, feel free to also let me know if you'd like your comment to remain unpublished and I won't share it if that's your preference. Thank you in advance -- you all are the best readers and commenters.

For those who've seen me in person (or have noticed my absence), I know I haven't been totally present in the moment. I do miss knitting with my friends and co-workers.

January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

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Happy New Year to all of you. May peace reign in your hearts and minds and may you be renewed and transformed.

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 17, 2006

Let Yourself Soar

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

Reinvent

September 26, 2006

Progress-less posting

I've tried to make it a practice to only post when I have progress to show but I realized something today and I just wanted to get it out and commit it to the blog. It hit me that I can't possibly knit quickly enough to keep up with the really trendy and cool knits out there. I still haven't figured out what I enjoy knitting most (socks are WAY up there) because there's a LOT I haven't tried yet. I'm always VERY tempted to try knitting all the adorable things I see in knitting magazines and on all your blogs but the reality is that by the time I *have* the time, it's completely and totally LAST YEAR. However, I can count on the fact that socks never go out of style.Today, I enjoyed wearing the socks I knit for myself (but oh my . . . they're slick on ceramic tile floors).

As futile as it is to figure out how to fit the endless "WannaKnits" in to my schedule, I can still visit a blog and be blown away by a design, a finished garment or a flash of fiber and just have to have it. Most of the time, I can step back and resist because I know that little something will be there when I need it and I'll remember where I saw it and can sleep on it. But when it comes to clothes, I've always loved a good sweater. I've been through decades of photos recently and most of the shots of me over the last 24 years since I started buying my own clothes have been all about the sweaters. I can't possibly own enough of them. So naturally now that I'm a knitter, what was I to do when I saw Ariann? (Note to knitwear designers: this is the most awesome form of instant gratification - thank you for making it easy). I purchased it, downloaded it and now I've printed it and am planning to take it to bed with me and . . . sleep on it. After all, I still have to choose a yarn.