A Wool Gathering

Hi! I went to A Wool Gathering with my friend Mystic Llama Shop (Sara) and brought home some new yarn. This llama loved having his photo taken and would pose like this for you when you raised your phone. He really needs a bow tie.

I found this gorgeous locally hand spun merino in my favorite color. It is a deep blue with specks of violet. I’ve already cast on for Purl Soho’s Sweatshirt Sweater.

Another local yarn, this gorgeous red Targhee is for a Carbeth. I may go ahead cast on for that too. I love starting new projects!

And this linen and cotton is for a simple shift top. I’ll wait until spring for this one.

I recently saw a post on Instagram about being a monogamous knitter. I thought, that’s nice. I wish I could do that. And gleefully cast on my second sweater.

What about you? Are you a monogamous knitter?

Life Is What Happens…

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It is Sunday, and it is time for my weekly blog post. This is my version of “Never Give Up! Never Surrender!”

A lot has happened in my life the last few weeks. All good things, to be sure, but they are getting in the way of my knitting progress and this blog. I don’t mind, but I need to readjust my expectations. I can’t blog about what is happening, but I hope to be able to soon.

I haven’t worked on my hat design. I haven’t knitted anything except Harald’s Plain Grey Sweater, so I give to you a photograph of beautiful ribbing and stockinette in Manos Maxima Kohl, being very close to getting divided for armholes. I still haven’t decided if we will go drop shoulders or raglan, so I guess I’d better make up my mind.

What do you do when life happens while you are busy making other plans? Do you power through with your plans and give the finger to life? I used to do this, and honestly, it was fine but didn’t really get me to where I wanted to be. This year I am practicing some turtle medicine: how to go with the flow. Downstream is looking pretty good from here.

New Year’s Day Round Up

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I finally get to hang up my Goats of Anarchy calendar. I’ve had it since September!

I didn’t blog every day between Christmas and New Year’s, but I did knit almost every day. Here are some project updates.

My J&S swatch is coming along. It’s time to experiment with the cables. I was pleased I could jump right back into 2-color stranded knitting, although my tension was a little off on the purl row back. Luckily the sweater should be knit in the round.

Here is a tip. If you want to manifest something into your life, put it on your blog! Look what I got for Christmas!

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One of my presents from Bob was also to sign me up for Kate Davies’ West Highland Way Club – patterns only, but I will certainly be saving my pennies for some yarn as well. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait for it to start!

I did swatch the J&S Shetland while watching Shetland a second time. (I had to for tongue-in-cheek purposes.) I tried to take a photo but couldn’t get one worth sharing. In the first episode, one of the characters is wearing Kate Davies’ Peerie Flooers hat. When I saw that, I remembered I was introduced to Kate Davies Designs through the show the first time I watched it. I think that moment was the spark that rekindled my love of knitting last year. (Hmm… that hat is knit with J&S jumper weight… Hmm…)

Although, I will probably knit the Goats of Inversnaid hat first. What can I say? I really love goats. And so does my youngest. He might get a goat hat, too.

I’m off to make a digital vision board for 2018 full of knitting hopes and dreams.  Happy New Year! What are your aspirations for 2018?

Swatching Shetland for Christmas

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If the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a sign of things to come for 2018, I’ll be working on a lot of new projects next year!

I was very excited to get my hands on some J&S Jumper Weight yarn. I’ll admit it. I became fascinated with the idea of knitting with shetland wool yarn after binge watching Shetland on Netflix. I couldn’t order it directly, or find it online, until Ravelry pointed me in the direction of Lost City Knits. The fact that she is in Oklahoma City (I’m a displaced Okie) sealed the deal for me. I only ordered enough to swatch, though.

My first idea was to knit a simple navy blue pullover for myself. That is the type of thing I enjoy wearing: basic and neutral. It’s a gorgeous yarn, a little smaller gauge than I normally like to work with, but the fabric is perfect.

Now I have more ideas, and this swatch will hopefully help me flesh some of them out. I ordered an additional color to experiment with, and will probably introduce some cabling as well as 2-strand color knitting. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on both sweaters in the coming year. The big question is, of course, funding for yarn.

I see some bingeswatching Shetland in my immediate future.

We had a nice, low-key Christmas with mostly-grown kids coming and going. My Christmas cactus bloomed again because I locked it in the root cellar for a month. It is beautiful but it bothers me that I have to deprive it of sunlight to bloom. Why is it that some of us only perform under pressure? I’m hoping to change that for myself in the coming year and become the kind of person who can succeed without trying too hard.

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Nostalgia, Fun with Words, and Family Legacies

Lately I find myself conundrumming (what a great verb that noun makes) about what to do with keepsakes – both those left to me by my Mother and Grandmother, and those I have kept to pass on to my children. Since I plan to retire into a tiny home, I won’t be able to keep these… sakes, and that’s okay, I guess. I’ve never been overly sentimental.

I asked my boys if they would like to keep these sweaters I knit for them when dey were just wittle babies. They responded, “Why?” like when they were 5. I guess they can’t see any reason why they would want to hang on to these:

The blue one is the first sweater I ever knit! for my oldest. It is from superwash! lamb’s wool worsted! (ironic exclamation points.) This was all the rage back in the day during Y2K. It was next to the skin soft (they claimed) and you could throw it in the washer and dryer! (Uh huh.) Okay, maybe the over-zealous yarn shop clerk is to blame. She really talked it up.

It proved to be too itchy for him to wear as a toddler, but he did wear it once or twice over a button down (because I made him.) The blue matched his eyes (for real.) I don’t remember where I got the pattern.

The top right design may look familiar as it is the quintessential Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Thank you EZ for teaching me how math and knitting work together to show you how the universe was created. Did I add that hood myself? I may have. I’ve always been a maverick. This was for my middlest when he was fresh outta the oven, from some combination of wool and hemp, because I was am a hippie and I love the earth.

Bottom right is what I think may be a pattern from a Debbie Bliss book for my youngest. The fiber content is cotton and wool, and I think it may be O-Wool OR it may be Cestari 3 ply cotton and wool heather. I still have a photo of him wearing it on my discs of old blog photos. He is at the zoo mesmerized by a turtle behind glass… in a really great sweater. (Are you now imagining a turtle in a really great sweater? I am.)

Both of these hooded baby sweaters prove that babies have huge heads in relation to their body size.

What to do with these handmade treasures? I considered donating them to a drive for underprivileged children, but found I couldn’t part with them. I also have stacks on stacks of quilts, handmade by my Grandmother. I would never dream of giving them up, even though several of them are starting to fall apart. My Grandmother’s quilts are a family legacy. I guess I think of my knitting as being the same thing.

Today I started reading Hillbilly Elegy. It was like going home to my Grandmother’s house. Although my family isn’t from Appalachia – they are from the foothills of the Ozarks – my maternal Grandmother’s family are Kentucky Vances transported to Oklahoma around the turn of the last century. (Whether they are of Scots-Irish or German descent is up for debate.)

This book is about other kinds of family legacies. I can relate to the proud hill people culture – although my Grandmother identified as “country folk.” I can also relate to the less healthy cultural attributes, though not from my Grandparents who were the same for me as the author’s Grandparents were to him – love and stability.

We didn’t grow up calling ourselves hillbillies by any stretch, and we weren’t poor. My Mother – who shares memories of her childhood trying to sweep a dirt floor clean, taking baths outside in galvanized tubs of rainwater, and walking to the outhouse in the middle of the night in winter – did her best to ladyfy her daughters. (She didn’t wholly succeed. I’ll admit, the things she experienced as a child sound kind of fun to me.)

The quality of life my Grandparents could offer (as ranchers and homesteaders) over the years improved, but it sounds like times were tough when my Mother was little. My Grandparents worked odd jobs and as seasonal migrant cotton pickers to make ends meet.

My Grandma could really stretch a dollar. Don’t throw your used foil away. Roll the pieces in little balls and string Christmas tree garland from it. It’s pretty! And free!

So my Grandparents were poor, even when they weren’t. Because they survived the depression and only escaped the dust bowl because they lived in the southeastern part of the state. Yet they left a legacy of love, and quilts made from feed sack and old pajamas.

So I’ll hang on to these sweaters because, as the tag clearly states, they were made with love. I have an idea to make each boy a care package of his sweater and the Christmas ornaments I made for him when he was younger. I will vacuum seal it together and we can call it a “care chip” – a new tradition! At some point, they may be discarded, and then later in life they may wish they still had them. That’s been my experience of how these things work, anyway.

Word Origin and History for keepsake. n. 1790, from keep (v.) + sake; on model of namesake; thus an object kept for the sake of the giver.

What Have I Been Knitting?

I was going through the old images of knitting I have been posting and dating them, and I thought geez these sure are old! I have knit a little bit in the last few years. I decided to share these things, and I would be all caught up and ready to move forward! Because in the words of Ziggy Marley – lesser known than his father Bob, but still no slouch in the wisdom department –  “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future.”

Not that there won’t be some flash backs down the road, I’m sure.

 

I finished this gansey for Husband Bob. The pattern is Old Way Gansey by Ann Budd. The yarn is Cascade 220 from stash. When I posted it on Ravelry, Ann Budd stopped by to say hello and added me to her Ravelry group. I was really geeked out.

Le Smoking

I finished Le Smoking from A Fine Fleece, in Fingerlakes Soft Wool 3 ply from stash. This design is pretty but it isn’t super wearable on me, or maybe it’s too small. Or, the shoulders are too shallow? I’m not sure what’s wrong with it exactly, but I’m not wearing it, so there’s that. I’m a little sad because I love this color.

 

I knit a slew of hats, no patterns, just measurements and gauge. The one on the left is a slouchy hat in Berroco Vintage from stash, and the one on the right is a straight beanie in Manos del Uruguay Clara, from Yarn It and Haberdashery.

There were a few other hats in there, mostly beanies knit for kids in straight up stockinette in whatever yarn was laying around. I do get a little bored knitting in stockinette, but it’s so mindful and mindless at the same time. Very meditative.  Plus I can watch a show or a movie and knit and not worry about making mistakes. Mmm… yards and yards of stockinette. So healing.

 

Speaking of stockinette! Right now I’m knitting Plain Grey Sweater for Harald from Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Kohl, also from Yarn It and Haberdashery. It’s my pattern, which is to say it is yards and yards of stockinette: so just measurements and gauge with drop shoulders and ribbed finishing. It is what he asked for, although at one point he thought it might be nice to add some cables. I had already started so I told him no. Maybe next time, after I knit sweaters for his brothers, of course.

Manos del Uruguay yarns are some of my favorite because not only are they natural fibers, they are also single-ply and wearably soft for wool, kettle-dyed for delicious colors, and Fair Trade! I work for a fair trade organization, and ethical sourcing is really important to me. It’s something I hope to get into more on this blog.

Word of the day: Stockinette. Runner up: Slouch.