As of July 1, I am the new owner of Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas. I’m thrilled to be working with my friends and spending time with customers I’ve known for years.
Life threw a lot at me the past four months, but I’m learning that I can survive really hard things — and that I can choose what to focus on and celebrate and appreciate the things that give me hope. Over the years, Twisted Yarns has been haven, escape, and inspiration for me. It was the vision of the previous owners, Eve and Shelley, to create a welcoming community of fiber lovers. That will remain my core focus and goal, with the added imperative to have fun!
Adiri in Cascade Venezia
For the past several years, my fellow co-workers and I have each created handmade ornaments for the annual holiday gift exchange. This year, the focus was slightly different — we drew names for our secret “cowl pals” and each of us worked on a cowl based on the intended recipient’s favorite colors, stitch patterns, and/or techniques. When Julia at Mind of Winter Designs posted a new pattern set (pullover and cowl), I thought the design was perfect for Debbie G. — she loves cables and Adiri has an understated feminine design — the cables aren’t bulky. I had several great colors of Cascade Venezia to choose from but ultimately took the advice of a friend who chose the deep purple.
I reacquainted myself with knitting with Denise Needles and I was thrilled with how the yarn and needle combo worked well together. The Venezia would have been a bit too slippery for my Addi Clicks and a little too draggy for my Clover bamboo circulars.
While I have admired Julia’s designs for years, this might be the first time I’ve knit one — but it won’t be my last because I’m eyeing the Adiri pullover for myself (and definitely the slouchy Adiri hat)
Adiri Cowl – Stitch Pattern
The Instagram shot doesn’t do justice to the red yarn, but it’s stunning (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport – 200 yards). Included is a Fiona Ellis pattern for fingerless mitts in an interesting cable and diamond pattern. The nail color is “Poor Lil Rich Girl.” I can’t find a good swatch photo online, but it’s a classic plummy red.
My first day of school went well yesterday — only a mild amount of stress and difficulty (confusion regarding which of the published classroom numbers was correct). I had a great non-Starbucks latte (read: less expensive) and had time to enjoy it. Last week, I was feeling a little cowardly for having taken just one class last semester and only two this semester. But I’m now convinced that it was a wise move to continue with the slow transition. It will be challenging to keep up with all the writing requirements in both classes and keep up with my non-collegiate life.
Creative Writing (Speculative Fiction & Screenwriting) will definitely be my more challenging class. It’s been years since I’ve practiced writing fiction with any regularity or purpose and we’ll be writing (and sharing – eeep!) in class every time we meet. While I love speculative fiction as a reader, I’m a little timid about sharing what I write. Among other learning outcomes, we are expected to produce, share, and revise a body of original work and demonstrate an ability to prepare and format work for publication. (3 short stories, 1 screenplay adaptation, 1 original screenplay).
Texas History – a survey of political, social, economic, cultural, and intellectual history of Texas from the pre-Columbian era to the present. I’m very excited about this class and have completed some of the required reading already (Empire of the Summer Moon, Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History). It’s a brilliant book. There’s a LOT more to Texas than this former Oklahoman realized, and Quanah Parker figures prominently in the history of both states.
Knitting-wise, I’m trying to finish (or frog) some lingering WIPs. I have at least four projects close to completion and that will be my weekend focus for the next couple of months. I’ll also reward myself with knitting during my self-imposed study breaks.
I am so thrilled with my first woven scarf and I’m planning to start another one soon — in shades of purple and blue. I want to try to achieve a more even selvedge and a more balanced fabric. While I still have a lot to learn, I love that the process of weaving yields a wearable object fairly quickly! If you’re intrigued and you’ve been considering giving weaving a try, I highly recommend it. While an in-person class is ideal, Craftsy now has a Rigid Heddle Weaving class that looks really comprehensive and complete. She uses both the 10″ Cricket Loom (which is what I learned with — this loom costs less than a set of Addi Clicks) and also a larger 24″ loom. If you’re like me, however, and you prefer to read extensively about a new skill before trying it, the best weaving books to get are:
Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom and
The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom
(My local library had both books in circulation — yours might too!)
If you like to read about the history of your favorite fiber arts, weaving is one of the most ancient of skills. It’s part of many diverse cultures — look for it in your own ancestral beginnings.
Of course, I had all the reasons that you do for not starting yet ANOTHER hobby, but in the end, I just said “yes” to myself. I said “yes” to trying it because I felt that there was something about weaving that I needed. I’m still in that process of discovery, but I know enough to want to keep doing it. And a rigid heddle loom is definitely in my future.
Perhaps these Georgia O’Keefe quotes will give you the inspiration to say “yes” to yourself too:
I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
Cricket Loom and scarf in progress
Warp Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Worsted, 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool, “Grapefruit Mix”
Weft Yarn: Plymouth Gina, 100% wool, Color No. 5
For several weeks, I’ve had the idea that I’d love to learn how to weave, and had placed it on my mental list of things to try in the future. But I couldn’t stop noticing weaving being mentioned everywhere — and seeing beautiful projects on blogs and Ravelry. I was in the shop this past Friday, and checked to see when the next weaving class would be. There was one scheduled for the next day and nobody had signed up yet. (A sign?) Naturally, I had to take the class. I had heard so many people say how they were discouraged by how tedious it was to warp a loom, but I actually liked that part. I enjoyed the actual weaving too! The hallmark of a successful weaving project is planning — and then planning some more. Each row of weaving requires mindfulness and attention. I’d definitely call it meditative.
One of the supposed positive features of weaving (for knitters) is “stashbusting” — but I know myself. If I had a loom, I’d want to experiment with fibers that aren’t already in my stash. I certainly don’t want to be limited — and I don’t want to fool myself by saying that I’ll commit myself only to weaving from my stash! So that was the first hurdle — being honest with myself about how I’d use a loom and planning accordingly. I haven’t fully committed to buying my first loom yet, and I’m not in a hurry. My focus right now is on finishing what I started on the shop’s 10″ Cricket and then tackling the rest of my knitting projects. Advice and suggestions from weavers is appreciated!
And in the vein of learning and trying new things, SoKnitPicky and I got our hands dirty and tried this too:
It was a lot of fun and required a lot more upper body strength than I expected. I’d definitely do it again now that I know what to expect; I also want to try throwing a bowl that doesn’t have such an “interesting” design. I can’t wait to see what it looks like after it’s glazed!
So my first semester is over — and I got an A. The first week of class, I thought I was in over my head — it was so difficult and unfamiliar, but I didn’t miss a single day and I studied my butt off. The unexpected bonus? I discovered I really enjoy Biology.
This transition (back) to college wasn’t easy. Administratively, it’s not as smooth a process as it could be (for adult learners like me), and there was a lot of misinformation about which classes I need to take. But the good thing is that most of that is behind me and I know what to expect now. And I confirmed what I already suspected: I was a little out of practice sticking to something through the hard parts. The entire semester was a challenge — academically, administratively, and personally; life didn’t stop happening when I was at school.
In order to do well in my course, I didn’t spend a lot of time knitting (or cleaning, or cooking), so it became something to look forward to as a reward. As a result, I have a lot of projects in various states of completion, things I want to re-work, finish, or frog and I’m looking forward to finally being able to tackle that as well as reconnect with my favorite blogs and friends! And I found my camera (buried on my desk under two swatches), so expect to see more actual photos instead of iPhone photos.
In my last blog entry, I mentioned the Latvian Mitten class and my reasoning for wedging in a class during the weekend before my final exam in Biology: I really wanted to learn the skills to knit these mittens:
Knitting Traditions Winter 2011
Latvian Fingerless Mitts
I started them when I got home from the class. I don’t think I would have figured out the tricky bits on my own, so this class was indispensable. I’m at the point on my mitts where it’s time to knit the Latvian braid — and it’s one of the skills I had trouble with on the sample, so I set it aside until I could work on it uninterrupted. Here’s a link to an excellent video showing how to knit the braid.
If I finish all my mitts- and mittens-in-progress, I’ll have a full wardrobe of hand warmers for the (blessedly-short Texas) winter.
Two things I’ve missed: working at the yarn shop
and taking photos with my phone.
This month marked my third time working this month since having taken several weeks off. It was great to reconnect with co-workers and customers and . . . yarn! But several things happened today that reaffirmed for me that people don’t always come in for solutions with their knitting issues, or to just shop for yarn — but to have somebody listen and understand. It’s easy to feel isolated when we’re struggling with difficult situations, and I think it helps to seek companionship and to share what we’re going through.
Last week, I got my first iPhone and I’m thrilled to be able to take decent photos with my cell phone again! I was already familiar with the iPhone’s interface — I got a Touch last year for my birthday. But I never thought I’d want it all in one package — until now. I love that my calendar and contacts are perfectly in synch with what’s on my MacBook.
I have several posts in draft mode and so much to share with you all. Thank you all for sticking around and sharing my world.