Thursday, 29 January 2009

Knitting content carries on

Knitting continues apace. I am going to finish the sleeve today, block and assemble. I plan to cast on the hood first thing in the morning, but I don't think that I am going to have the button band and buttons on before SS comes to visit.

Has anyone ever tried the rice bread from the store, the kind with no wheat and therefore gluten content?

We tried some Tuesday, toasted with butter, dipped in a stew. It was unbelievably dry and tasteless. It was like eating fine pea gravel. I *let* son 1 try some, and we started laughing. We decided that rice bread is actually those little concrete ready made sidewalk blocks without the water added so it is lighter weight for shipping.

If I want a good gluten free bread, I think I am going to have to make it myself. Good thing I enjoy bread making.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Extreme cuteness alert.

This lovely green is SS's sweater back on the go. I'm sure I have said before how much I like this yarn. I have waxed on and on about how nice this yarn is, but, I'll say it again. This is really nice yarn. Here is the last sleeve in progress, with the correct amount of increased stitches. The yarn is the now discontinued FilTweed. As I work with this yarn, I ponder how did this nice stuff get set aside?

Why did this nice yarn and a project that was working out very well get set aside?

Parker and FordFinley

And then there is Kylie, whom I can't figure out how to post the picture of but trust me, she is cute.

These 4 babies were all born in a 30 day span from late September to late October to nephews, nieces and children of very close friends. I knew they were coming and yet, I was not prepared. Not with the knitting or crochet, and certainly not for their extreme cuteness. I was felled by the cuteness.

Among all this cuteness, it is hard to focus on anything but babies and easy to leave a perfectly lovely yarn and sweater behind. I was overwhelmed by the urge to knit baby things, then I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of baby knitting I needed to do, then other things got in the way and well here I am, with a bunch of unfinished projects.

These babies will get their due, but first SS's sweater, in a perfectly fine yarn, which is now zooming along, to which I will attend yet a little more this morning before work, to which I will attend at Wednesday knitting, to which I will attend on for the rest of the week.

I am hoping to have the sweater done by Friday, or at least done enough that all that is left is the finishing. The fronts and back are done, and it is only this part sleeve, hood and button band to be done. Wish me luck.

I might just have to start keeping a baby sock or two on hand for the next time I am felled by cuteness.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Won't be doing that again

Ever feel the burden of too many WIP's? I do, and I really meant to get it cleaned up, to clear things out, to put time in on them in January or put the yarn back into stash. Here it is, the end of January and I have not done with January tasks, which was, to clean up my bag to prepare for new spring knitting. Instead, I started and knit 4 small fan neckwarmers, started and knit on wristwarmers, and baby things and even 2 new pairs of socks (which are very close to complete).

Starting new projects with good yarn like hearing a sirens song and becoming as a sailor, shipwrecked upon the rocky shore. Starting is easy, seductive, fun. Who doesn't love a project when it is new.

I could handle it when I had two pairs of socks on the go, and one big project. That kind of amount is the sort of thing that I have always done. 2 or three of whatever I was working on, embroidery or crochet, or tatting, and so on. I think I could handle two socks, one big project and a scarf in knitting without a problem.

What I can't handle, what really is starting to bug me, to overwhelm me, is this amorphous pile of unfinished stuff. I forgot some of the things I found when I cleaned out the big workbag this morning and let me tell you, it's a crying shame.

So, my vow to me, as of this minute is to draw a line in the sand, and keep to two pairs of socks, and one other project at any given time. I will finish one before I start another. I will stick to big thing till it is done, I will stick to the socks till they are done. Heck I might even go down to one sock at a time.

Too many things on the needles at once can becoming a burden. When things become a burden, it becomes easy to avoid them. It is only the blink of an eye, till avoiding things is all that is happening even when there is a lot of pride taken in accomplishment. While you are so busy avoiding, you loose your start, you loose your finish and heaven help me, sometimes you even lose yourself. I've been there before, and I am not going back there, not even in simplest smallest way.

First, I have to rip back these various projects in various fine yarns, and put them back into stash, OR decide if they are going on the finish me pile. If they are going to the finish pile, then I really ought to finish them, oldest to newest. So today I started on SS sweater. Should not take more than a day or two and I have a lot of time scheduled for pure unadulterated knitting. I am going to find a place where they will keep the coffee coming so I can just knit.

Then, I will attack the things in my bag that are not socks. The wristwarmer set is going to be completed. The baby sweater is going to be completed, maybe not in time for the shower, but in time for the baby to fit into it. (I can only work on it a few hours at a time. Those colours are sucking the eyeballs right out of my head)

And the dreaded black socks which are so close to being done it hurts, are going to be finished before I pick up a single new piece of yarn.

Things were getting just a bit frenetic, and I'm just not going to put up with that no matter how much I want, maybe even need to move forward to the stranded colour work.

I will focus on how it feels to start a project in a clean 'house' with a clean slate of projects, and a clear conscience. It might take me a bit, but I have a feeling, I am going to love yarny things all the more.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Not what I thought

Here it is, a fine Monday morning, and this last week did not proceed as I thought. I planned on finishing these. I planned on finishing a nice little cowl, on starting the swatch bag for the colour work vest. Lo and behold life got in the way. Nary a stitch was done on anything I intended this week.

Two days, I went straight to bed after work. I think I was coming down with a little something, but the extra sleep seems to have helped. I'm still as hale and as hearty as I will ever be. One night was knitting and all I could manage was sock knitting and a promise to have one sock blank far enough along to show everybody how I do the after thought heels (I use Elizabeth Zimmermann's afterthought pocket instructions rather than putting in a piece of waste yarn).

There were no other nights. Any other nights that should have been there to get these small projects done, just did not exist. Saturday morning found me with company coming for Sunday, and the knitting I promised them, undone.

The promised knitting was this. A plain and rather small Calorimetry (She'll have to use the ties. This one was just too small to put a button on for closing.) and a properly fitting one. These knit up in a couple of hours and are a great primer for short rows. The first is Rowan Pure Wool Aran and the second uses some of the Pure Wool and Zitron Loft. These are Calorimetry 4 and 5 for me.. All were made with very different yarns than the recommended weight. If you are using a heavier yarn, just cast on fewer stitches. You absolutely must calculate gauge to avoid a too small hat. (Obviously, I didn't take my own advice) In each and every case, the important thing about the yarn is that it needs to be able to bounce back to hold its shape.

While getting ready for dinner, I found a small card on the dining room table addressed to me. It was an invite to my sister's first grandchild's baby shower. I purchased yarn for a sweater for the babe way back in October. I haven't started yet. Insert mild panic here.

I pulled out the yarn I had socked away, stopped the endless debates about how am I going to do this sweater, and cast on for a Baby Surprise Sweater. The brilliant fuchsia pink is Merino Soft. The eye poppingly brilliant multi colour is Socks That Rock Lightweight Sherbet.

Eeeep, I just spotted a flaw. I hate when that happens. I'll go down and fix that on the next round.

I know some people have trouble with the way Elizabeth writes her patterns, but if you read and use her books you will come to see that she wants to put you in the drivers seat, put you in charge of your knitting. The directions are spare, but complete. You just have to be paying attention (Ask me how I know you have to be paying attention) .

I may not have gotten anything done on my planned projects and my hands will continue to be chilly on the way to the store, but I am knitting an EZ pattern. Fair trade, I say.

Friday, 23 January 2009

A Friday Book Post

I'm working very hard to make it one novel read for each week of January (it is still January, right?) for NaJuReMoNoMo.

This time round, something completely different. I'm reading Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brien. I'm just barely off the first chapter and it is bounding along very smoothly. It reminds me of the adventure novels I read in my youth, that just carried you along. There are 20 novels in the series, so this 'could' be a candidate for my new favourite novelist. At least it would take me a while to run out of his books.

I also picked up an Amy Tan novel, The Hundred Secret Senses. Buying books at a used bookstore does limit my choice of authors, but it cuts costs wonderfully and I came up with two things I think will be great. The Tan will be my 4th book, if I make it past the third.

Along with these, I came a cross a history book of the popular readable variety (directly opposite to the usual dusty history tome), How the Scots Invented The Modern World. It is always a delight when you can find a history book which is readable, and very enjoyable, and this one looks like it will be. Time enough for it in February.

The bookseller said my taste was pretty eclectic. I suppose when I look at the things I've read over the course of my lifetime, my selections can be viewed as eclectic. How can you grow both as a reader and a person if they are not? There will always be reading that will be safe reading, reading like the Laura Ingalls Wilder books of my youth, that are a comfort to read rather than an adventure. There will always be reading for safety when my real world feels a little off kilter. But I hope that at least some of my reading is just to learn, just to know, just to go somewhere different.

If it wasn't about learning and growing, it would be like knitting with only one yarn, year after year, never tyring something new. Eclectic reader, eclectic yarn person. Good enough for me.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Busy week

I'm working extra days this week, helping cover for vacations. this week is going to be all about small projects. I was hoping for more, but small projects it is.

I'm not sure if it is the season, but a lot of people I know are digging into their bin of UFOs. It may be that this after holiday lull, makes us just want to tidy up, clear out the courses, swab the deck (My next novel is Master and Commander. Beware gratuitous and poor usage of naval terminology)and be ready for the new season ahead.

I finished up a couple of oldies but I have two big things to go. I really have to get SS's sweater finished and then there is the much sadder need to fix my sweater. When I worked the bottom band, I knew there was a problem. You can see how it pulls up. One of the store ladies pointed out the problem. Closed yarn overs. Just after vacation I tried a plan for short rows to fix it, but found that did not work. I really meant that the next thing I would do was to see if I could drop down stitches to solve the problem. I planned to do it before doing anything else, but here it is, 3 weeks, and I have not even thought of it, much less touched it or even moved it around. It has once again been placed out of sight out of mind. Only I'm not forgetting it. I really must get this moving so I can go forward.

Once I finish up this next week or so worth of small projects, I am going to do it. I'll work on the sweater struggle and alternate with the play I will get working on the swatch bag for the fair Isle Vest. One good project, one bad project, one happy, one sad, one old, one new.

I've been working on finding a better balance in my life. I just never thought balance was going to leak into my knitting.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mille Colori

Long ago, I had some fanciful thoughts about Mille Colori, and it would seem it is a seasonal thing. I find myself once again with Mille Colori that spoke to me and is now waiting to be knit.

Mille Colori is a yarn I am always in danger of buying for no reason but that I like it.

I really enjoyed knitting the little Fan Neckwarmers and as cold as it was over Christmas, I resolved to make one just for me. The bitter cold made me want a good pair of handwarmers to wear over my leather driving gloves too. While restocking, it came to me. Mille Colori.

Mille Colori has softly waving colour. The colourway I'm using is shades of rose brown taupes with a little blue and green (though the green looks brown here) and purple thrown in for good measure. The change between colours is much more dramatic than with Noro's long slow shift, but it is not sharp by any means. There are none of those long stretches where everything is that dishwater brown that you get with some Noro colourways. It isn't an understated yarn though the colourway I have chosen is. Some of the colourways are quite brilliant, shocking even.This is not a pure wool. It is a 50/50 blend of wool and acrylic, but it has a lovely lovely hand. I have a real affinity for Langs bouncy silk and wool blend, Silk Dream, and in a lot of ways this feels similar. It is smooth to the touch, warm exactly when you need it to be warm, bouncy in all the right ways, dramatic where you might need just a little drama. How they do these things with yarn, I don't know, but I have a feeling that somewhere within the spinning mills of Lang, there is a master at work, making all sorts of yarns feel good.

My variation of The Maine Morning wristwarmers (made larger to accomodate the yarn) and Fan Neckwarmer are small projects, easy to carry with me, no complicated stitch pattern. It is going to be a change from socks to knit while knitting with friends, lest they think socks are all I ever knit.

I'm looking forward to having a pretty pair of wristwarmers, and a nice little scarfy neckwarmer for my very own. There is a lot of winter left, and to ward off the chill is good.

(And if anyone is keeping track, I finished Burnning Bright and I am moving on to a third novel. There is plenty of time to finsih another up before the end of the month!)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A Wonderful Day

I look at this continent of North America as a great big neighbourhood. We might be very different nations, the three of us, with very different histories, very different national personalities, but even so, we get along pretty well in the big scheme of things.

Just south of me is a really nice neighbour who, sadly, let his yard become just a little shabby lately. The neighbour was really under stress, some bad things happened to his house and we sorrowed for him. Some things got left outside in the rain, the fence has a couple of boards loose and some things are looking just a little worn. The garden got a little weedy. The occasional weed seed blew over the fence, but that is OK, some of mine blew his way on occasion. It happens.

Today the neighbour got some really good news. He has a lot more energy, and you can already see some bits and pieces have been picked up. When you see the neighbour, there is a bounce, a certain jauntiness in his walk. You know this good neighbour is going to get things ship shape but being a gardener yourself, you know it is going to take some time.

As a gardener, you know that it is going to take some effort and time to clean away the weeds, and you know that your neighbour is going to have to be right there when those weeds pop up again, as weeds will do. You know that before all this is done, the garden may look a little different. There may be roses where there were petunias before. That sunny spot might have orange sunflowers and russets and reds beside the ordinary yellows growing there. There may be new walks among the crisp green lawns.

You might not do things exactly the way your neighbour does them. You might tend to pop in a wild flower or two while your neighbour might prefer to give more over to the vegetables. Its possible that over time, the newly planted crab apple tree is going to drop way more crab apples over the fence than you would like, but you're not going to worry about it now. Time enough for pruning when the tree is bigger.

You're just glad that your neighbour is feeling better about things. Its nice to see him with a smile on his face, and a skip in his step and his heart full of hope. The neighbourhood feels just a bit more welcoming this morning, as if the clouds have blown away and the sun is going to shine again.

Its the kind of day when I hear James Blaskette in my head singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, and know that this time, he really, really means it. 'My oh my, what a wonderful day'.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Red Things

Everybody has a favourite colour. For some of us, the favourite changes as time passes, as we are influenced by the surrounding world. Not me.

My favourite colour is red. I wear it sparingly, I don't have any of it in my home, and yet is is without a doubt my most favoured. When I was small, red was the colour I ran out of first among my crayons. Not wine, or purple of any of the greens, just red. All the other colours in the box played lip service to red.

I knit a pair of red socks a while ago, and I am cheered every time I wear them, but this is the first red I have knitted since. I can't wait to wear it. I'm looking forward to more work with Garn Studios Silke-Tweed. A really nice yarn, and my looking forward to it has nothing to do with the fact that right there before me on my table are two skeins of blue and two of golden yellow.

I like it for the feel as it knits up. Its has a fair bit of silk in it, 52%, so the first thing you feel with this yarn is the silks dry texture. The silk is not the smooth Georgette feel, it is the dryer tussah feel, reminding me most strongly of the slubby goodness of raw silk fabric. 48% of this yarn is wool so beside the goodness of the silk, there is the stretch of wool. It doesn't have the bounce of an average wool fibre, but the wool quality show up in subtle ways.
I tried to get a good colour photo, but the red keeps turning orange and it just sucks light and definition into itself. The black and white shows off the project better. I'm quite pleased at the way the texture and the tweed work together.

The rest of the weekend was devoted to knitting on the black socks. I have only an inch or so of cuff left to go, then heels on the pair. I'm so close to done I can taste it. There will be celebrating when I finish these puppies.

I spent the rest of the weekend checking out stranded colourwork patterns and thinking about how I am going to make the vest. It did strike me that maybe the vest needs to be plain on the bottom, and patterned on the top, as many Norwegian sweaters are. That would ease the problem of the pocket somewhat, but it will complicate the knitting in and around the sleeve.

There is lots to think about, and I can do some of that, while I am working on getting my gauge for stranded and unstranded knitting on a project. So pattern choice first, then the practise bag / gauge swatch and then onward to vest knitting.

And socks. I'm really looking forward to knitting socks that are anything but black. A nice green perchance? Perchance.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Looking for a new favourite writer.

I'm still reading Burning Bright, by Tracy Chevalier. It just isn't the same captivating read that her others were. I have a couple weeks to go, and I am over half done with the book, so I do expect to easily pass my dismal record of one measly book in last years less than epic attempt. My goal is one a week to meet my National Just Read More Novels Month quota for this year.

Maybe what I need to read more novels is a new favourite author. All my life, there was a favourite author who was relied upon for something to read when I finished all the new stuff I had. Sometimes there were two favourite authors whose work I could not put down, whose work I searched for seriously, and who usually did not publish often enough.

I used to find my new favourite author simply by picking something of theirs up and beginning. It was almost accidental, but before I knew it, I had to read everything they wrote. Pretty soon I had all the books they wrote in my own library in paperback, and then began the cycle of waiting for the next book.

The simple truth is that I have not read enough lately to have a favourite fiction author. I was really enjoying Edward Rutherford, but he has not had anything new out for several years, and I have all his others. Tom Clancy is still publishing but its a consortium now and the books are just not the same. I loved reading the Jack Ryan and John Kelly stories. Without the backup of a current favourite, I seem to be adrift.

I probably ought to try Amy Tan. I read The Bonesetters Daughter, and found it disturbing in a way. The first copy of the book was an airport buy, and I gave it away before the end of the trip. But the book never left my head. I had to buy a second copy so I could read it again, and have read it several times since. Each time, I find more. It is probably a sign that I should read more of her work, and her current book, Saving Fish From Drowning sounds very interesting.

In truth, some days, I am enjoying knitting so much that it is very hard to make myself go out to find new books. I confess that the knitting is fulfilling in a way a book could not be unless I wrote it myself. Knitting is coming from my soul. It is coming from a place deep inside me that just wants to touch the souls of all the others in time and history, to all those who did these things before me, and who will continue to do them after me, by participating in an old and noble task.

It isn't that I'm not a reader anymore. I am still a reader, its just that right now in this moment, I have these other things to learn and do and there are not enough hours or enough clear eyesight to do it all.

Friday, 16 January 2009

I like socks

Its been a while since I wrote about socks. That is not strictly true, OK it isn't true in any way shape or form. I constantly write about socks. Here and there in almost every day, no matter what else I am knitting, no matter what else I am thinking, no matter what else I am writing about, hand knit socks are right there woven in around and through everything else I am.

Here I am with some delicious yarns recently under my belt, with some fantastic yarns soon to come ( Alpaca with a Twist Lace, Handmaiden Sea Silk), projects where I can use exciting new knowledge, and here I am, thinking about socks.

I am still thinking and working on the black socks, but I digress.

This morning as I put on my socks, you know what thoughts went through my head?

I thought, 'I love these socks.' It just flashed into my head and stayed there waiting for me to acknowledge it. More than just 'I love these socks', I thought about how I love the weight of this yarn, how I love the way this heel fits made from this yarn on this unique pair of socks, how they fit nice and close around my foot, how the toe hugs just so. In the milliseonds after that first thought, there, laid out in my mind, were all the individual things I love about these socks.

Everytime I put on this pair of socks, these thoughts go through my mind. It could brand me as a nut case to the vast majority of the world, but here among us knitters, I feel safe to shout it out. These are really, really nice socks, they feel good on my feet, they machine wash and dry and I made them.

Other knitters probably have a sweater they knit that accompanies them through their life, the sort of sweater that they made years ago, and that they wear when they need to be warm and cozy and safe.

I have socks. I'm cozy. I'm safe. I'm warm. I love these socks.

These socks are made of Big Fabel yarn from Drops. They are a heavyweight sock yarn, wool and nylon, and are machine washed and dried at least once a week. They just keep getting better. You should try some. Your feet would be warm.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Getting my head back into colour work.

Since Knitted Lace of Estonia arrived in my house, it is very hard to work on other things. Its an interesting read. If I didn't have the nice red scarf, I would be hard pressed to knit anything that didn't come out of this book. I really could use that red scarf and darn it, I am going to finish it first.

So, to get my mind off lace, and right back to stranded colourwork, where it belongs (the upcoming vest, etc.) I will tell you about my interesting day at work.

On occasion people come in with articles knitted by others. Yesterday a mom and daughter came in to wander through the store for a while, had a great time and left. The mom was putting her mittens on and turned right around again to show us her mittens. She thought we might be interested.

She was right.

Her gloves were beautifully worked Latvian mittens knitted by an elderly relative. They were a series of large snowflakes bordered by smaller snowflakes, worked in a soft brown wool and cream natural colour wool. They had the looped fringe on the wrist edges, and braids separating a small border pattern on the cuff, and a traditional thumb.

The customer was interested to know if we had ever seen anything like these before. Though I had not had the pleasure, we do have the book Latvian Mittens in the store. I pulled the book from the shelf and showed them.

They looked at the book while we looked at the inside of the mitten, and at the braiding and the looped edge. The mittens were much more substantial than I expected, heavier, denser. I'm not sure what I was expecting but boy oh boy. These are not namby pamby mittens of a single layer. They are businesslike things, knitted for practical warmth and beauty in very cold nations. It was just wonderful to have my hands on a pair, to see them with my own eyes.

They were just as entranced by the book. They loved the photos, and then realized that the history part of the book and the patterns were in both English and Latvian. They both speak Latvian and can read well enough to translate. They were just tickled to find a book right here in Canada that both they and their relative could read. They bought the book.

There is a elderly woman from over the seas who is going to be delighted to see that Latvian is alive and well and lives on book cases all over Canada and the rest of the world.

And me? I'm deeply impressed by books like Knitted Lace of Estonia, and Latvian Mittens, with their intertwined history and patterns. They add richness and depth to our knitting experience. They illuminate the ties we share time with skilled men and women through the ages. Nancy, Lizbeth. You've done good.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Red Things

In the last few days, I talked about many other projects, but I did not talk about this one. That was because I had not started it yet. Yesterday morning, among all the things I am working on, I found nothing to inspire me.

On the top of my 'next to knit' pile I had some Drops Silke Tweed. I have three different colours 2 balls of each. The gold and blue go back to a previous episode of 'I don't feel like knitting my stuff - I want something new' but the red is special. The red spoke loudly to me.

Red is becoming the Winter Windows scarf from 101 Luxury One Skein Wonders. Its a nice little pattern with a little lace and a lot of texture. It is pretty basic, but it's simplicity is its brilliance.

The original is made with Tilli Thomas Disco Lights, a worsted weight yarn with sequins scattered through it. My first go round with the sport weight Silke Tweed was double the number of stitches, and rows before changing patterns. It looked fantastic, but I was halfway through the ball before I knew it, and at that rate, with just 2 balls, the scarf would have been something less than I was looking for. I'm looking for something I can tie, or fold in half and loop, or otherwise wear to work out of this yarn. I am looking for summer flair, not winter warmth. I want something that can be flash when I need to look dressy and casual but classic with jeans.

I know that this is winter knitting season, but this place right after Christmas has always been about spring to me. This is the time of year when the seed catalogues come, when I dream of plants and gardens and what will be outside. All fall we contemplate knitting ourselves into warmth with cozy sweaters, and wristwarmers and toques so it feels right that while contemplating a season of lazy afternoons, basking in the sun sipping iced coffee, I'm knitting me a little summer.

I like winter, and there is much winter knitting to come, but there are days when the long stretch of February just wears at a person. A little summer knitting is good for the soul.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Book Day and more.

Yesterday, my much desired book arrived. I have been obsessing about Knitted Lace of Estonia since the July/ August issue of Piecework Magazine featured a shawl from Nancy Bush's new book.

It was worth the obsessing.

Knitted Lace of Estonia. What an absolutely lovely book.

It begins with the history of lace knitting in Haapsalu and Estonia. Next up the pattern section, I could sit down right now and make each and every one of these shawls. They are a masterwork of delicacy, beauty and clever knitting. I can't think of a single book I have ever seen where I loved every single pattern, but this one, I do. For those among us who need just a little more to take us over the edge, Nancy included a stitch dictionary so that we could all sit down and design our own Estonian inspired lace shawls. There just isn't much more a soul could ask for.

The book is so full of good things, I have to give this one a double treble. If you are a normal lace knitter, and not an obsessive book collecting lace knitter like me, you still should buy it. It is that good. And you really ought to run, not walk to do so.

To clear up the unfilled pre-order of Nancy's book at Chapters, and since Chapters initially declined to give my funds back to me but for a store credit, (I was unable to find my receipt showing exactly how I paid for it), I decided to clear it up by choosing a different book. Though I am still miffed at Chapters, I may have to forgive them. They may not have been able to supply Knitted Lace of Estonia in a timely fashion, but they did carry this book.

'101 Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders'. If you'd like to give someone a book this coming year, consider this book. If you need just a little treat to lift your spirits consider this book. If you come across this book on your travels, pick it up. It is funds well spent. There are so many good things in it. There are lacy things, baby things, simple things, complex things. All sorts of big things and little things done with those precious skeins of truly beautiful yarns, the cashmere, the quiviut, the silk- sea cell blends we love so much and buy only very sparingly. I have not really paid attention to the previous two volumes, but if this is what they are like, I'm missing out.

I don't know if this book is a must on anyone's knitting bookshelf. Really, which books are? But if you are looking for a lovely book, you might want to consider this one. My copy is going to be very very well used (projects are lined up already) and I consider it a strong double crochet.

Now, on to things far more important, much more important than a book or two, way, way more important than even these two really good books.

Some fifty years ago today, my mom and dad gave my brother and I something new. They gave us a baby sister to play with. I don't think I appreciated it at the time, since I was only 1 year and 9 days old myself (my brother was not yet 3), but mom, dad, if I ever forgot to mention it, thanks for my sisters.

For my next to me sister, for the best friend a girl could ever have, Happy Birthday!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Wait a second, wait a second. Was that a weekend? Who took a day and made is disappear? I know there was a Saturday, I know there was a Sunday so maybe it was Friday that went AWOL. I don't know about anyone else, but these first few days of January have moved like lightning speed.

Friday, I visited with the ladies I started knitting with almost a year ago. I haven't seen some of them in months and it was great seeing them again. Even after all this time away, it was a very warm welcome. Knitters are the greatest people. I hope to visit on that side of the city a little more often now that fuel prices are a little lower, and I am off the day they meet.

I finished my Fan Neckwarmer project but photos are going to wait until I get them delivered. Maybe one of my glamorous sisters will model for me.

With those done, I am moving on. Well to black socks to be more precise. I have been contemplating the foot of the first finished black sock. Mr. Needles tried it on and since it is loose on his leg, it is going to have to be re-worked. Son1 has even narrower ankles. It would be positively baggy on him. I have been contemplating how to salvage the good parts and I think what I am going to do is to keep the calf, and re-work the bottom. Though the second of the pair is toe up, this one can be top down, since a tube is a tube is a tube. Then the heels and I will be done these painful socks. I can't work on them more than an hour or so a day. It pulls my eyes right out of their sockets. Never again black.

To get the black socks off my mind I am working on cheerful things. The first is a pair of socks in Trekkings new 6 ply yarn.

The slightly heavier weight yarn is making for very fast knitting. Sock one of the pair was completed when I wasn't knitting Fan Neckwarmers. I did this bit last night in under an hour. The first sock feels great on my foot. I'm not generally a big fan of working with Trekking yarns. It isn't the softest yarn on the market, but one of the oldest pairs of socks around here is made from Trekking, and I can vouch for the sturdiness of its wear when it is machine washed and dried. They just keep getting better each time they come out of the machines. This 6 ply has a lot more volume in the strand, so it is a little bit more fun to work up and I can't wait to see how these perform over the long haul.

Next up, this eye-popping version of the Shape It scarf from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch. I originally bought the yarn for my mom. It is Louisa Harding Impressions. I ended up not using it for mom because it feels a little more scratchy than I wanted it to be for her. Its going to be great to wear as an accessory to work.

Every colour of the rainbow is in this mix and a few that were not invented in nature are in there too. It has a brilliant jewel toned flair and is going to brighten up everything I own. Just the right thing to work on in January in Canada.

Even as the other projects are on the needles, this is what I spent most of my time on yesterday. I have 3 skeins of Socks That Rock 'Smoke' It is a wave of rich tones, deep blues, warm rich russet and a good dose of a black toned, almost metallic looking taupe. The blend is quite simple breathtaking, and I really wanted to show it off. There really isn't a stitch pattern to this. It is just open eyelets every 4th row. The sad part is, this is my goofing around sample. Now that I have the stitch count worked out and know how the pattern performs on what I hope will be a horseshoe shaped shawl, it is going to be ripped back and restarted, so that the patterning is through the entire shawl.

I anticipate a quick knit, since the body is going to be medium sized only. There will be a wider, more flamboyant, openwork border to finish it off. I like the idea of the more solid ground of the project to show off the colour patterning of the yarn, and the open lacy like finish. No point making an accessory too sombre.

January is moving like lightning so far, and yet, this part of winter, this settling down after the holidays should seem like winters dark slow days. Since I took up knitting, time feels like it goes too fast and I catch myself wishing there was just a few more weeks in January than there are.


Yes since I took up knitting, I find myself wishing there was just a few more weeks, just a little more time. I'm not really wishing for more winter. It only looks that way.

Friday, 9 January 2009


I participate in National Just Read More Novels Month. The blog sponsor refers to this as a a 'lower threshold alternative' to National Novel Writing Month.

The lower threshold alternative is right up my alley. I used to read a lot. I used to read every spare moment. My atrocious kitchen history is in part, because I'd be too deep into my book to smell the smoke, or hear the pot bubbling over. There were years when I could not wait to get home and pick up my book again. These were the years where my yarn work was reserved for in front of the TV like normal folk.

The last several years my reading was cut dramatically. By the end of a work day, my eyes were too tired to focus in on the tiny letters in a book. On weekends when I did read, the end result was a page before I fell asleep. I went from many many novels a month to one or two, and finally down to 1 or two novels a year. When I did read, I tended to read history and biography.

In my first year participating in the contest, I read, completely, just one novel (but I knit a lot) This year, in the first week, I read one novel, and am on to the second. I am hoping to do one per week.

The first book I read this year was 'The Year of Wonders' by Geraldine Brooks. I'll be reading this again. And again. I have always read good books over and over and this is a very, very good book. It takes you right into the life of the heroine, into her sorrows on losing her children and seeing her village decimated by plague. In the epilogue you sit, resting as surely as she does, and rejoice that those sorrows are over and that she is in a better place.

My second book is by Tracy Chevalier, "Burning Bright'. I loved 'the Lady and the Unicorn' and 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' is a better book than movie (and it was a wonderful movie). My biggest problem with the book is that I have not read William Blake. Or if I have, I'm not putting the poet and the poem together. I really ought to fix that though if the book is good, the book will inspire me to fix it. It may yet be a compulsion to know this poet.

I'm well on my way to completion on the last of my series of Fan Neckwarmers. Much as I enjoy the knitting of them, its going to be nice to move forward. I have a sweater to finish, I have a ribwarmer to finish. I have colourwork to play with. There is the ever present desire for lace. I don't want to give up my knitting time for reading, but I miss my reading.

This may be the year I leave my Luddite tendencies and get an Ipod and buy books to 'read' while I knit. It makes sense. I'll never be able to focus on knitting while reading. It is enough eye strain to just knit some days. But knitting while listening to a kind soul read? I think I can do that.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


I seem to have forgotten the blog this morning. But I have a good excuse.

I went into my study this morning, and started working on the blue scarf again, and well, I put on a movie, and knit, had a coffee, had a little snooze and another cup of coffee and knit and knit and , well here I am, way late, but the scarf is done.

In the rest of the world, I am pretty sure this would not sound like a good excuse, but here, where it is mostly knitters and string thing people, it sounds reasonable. Well at least to me.

I'm just about to make another pot of coffee and cast on the Jitterbug for the last in the series of scarves.

It comes to mind that I forgot to mention one of the differences I am making in the original pattern on these little Fan Neckwarmers. The original is a fairly large fanned out end, and is quite dramatic. Mine are much less so, but these are meant to fit under the collar, or just at the collar of your basic parka with just enough fan to keep the ends tucked nicely close at the neck. To have too much scarf end tucked under your coat adds to the general discomfort of being swaddled up like Ralphie's brother. Trust me (and everybody's grandmother), to keep warm, you really do have to tuck those ends under.

When this scarf is done, I will be working on black socks. The gloom and doom from these darn things is going to leave me in short order. And when the gloom is gone, I get to play with colour work.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Blue on Blue

Blue on blue, heartache on heartache...

No heartache here among these blues, just scrumptious goodness.

If you took this photos colour as absolute truth you would wonder at my blue on blue header, but the first of the yarns is more purpley than the red so vibrantly displayed in the photo. It is the blue edge of red. And if you took this ball of yarn at photo value, you would say that every colour is represented and how could it possibly be blue. Well it is. It is what binds the purply blue, with the royal blue. When I had the bunch of yarns piled together, I swear it worked. Just a pile of delightful blue tones.

I'm playing with a series of little scarves this week and it is giving me the chance to play with delicious yarns.

The first yarn, the rose purpley end of blue, is Manos Silk and Wool. This lovely soft yarn has the most amazing feel as it runs through your fingers. The silk gives it crispness and the lightly spun loft of the wool gives it the most amazing spring and bounce. This yarn is the sort of thing that would make a wonderful little top to be worn right next to your skin, or a shoulder caressing shawl, but this yarn is meant to be close to you.

The second yarn, the sapphire blue, is Tupa from the Mirasol Collection. It is a softly spun two ply yarn, also a silk and wool blend, but this blend seems to glow from within. Its tighter spin and two plies make the play of light a real feature of this yarn. It does not have the same lofty bounce as the Manos but the smooth shine more than makes up for the small difference in loft.

The third yarn, the true blue, is Cash Iroha from Noro. Noro yarns are all about colour. In some it is about shading and variation but this one, the colour is about the depth. How deep can a blue be, how intense, how warm. Blue is usually assumed to be a cool colour but I swear this blue is so intense there can be naught but fire at its blue, blue soul. It is a blend of silk, lambs wool, cashmere and nylon and is spun in Noro's signature single. It is a little bit thick and thin, but the finished knitting has a wonderfully handspun feel to it. On the hank, this yarn was deliciously soft and drapey. I wondered if it would be a good choice for a ribbed scarf, but like all Noro yarns, the Cash Iroha has wonderful stitch definition.

The last untouched yarn is Colinette Jitterbug. Jitterbug, if you have not had the chance, is a gorgeous yarn. The colours are masterfully dyed so that each section of colour is only 3 or 4 stitches wide, and once knit, form lovely little bits of colour. This yarn is sock knitting at its bouncy best. It is such a good little yarn that it really deserves to be taken out and shown a good time in a more splendid project. It would make wonderful wrist warmers, or a fantastic little hat and I could see me wearing a sweater of it. (It is a small fingering weight yarn. A sweater is unlikely, but it would be a great feeling sweater.) It is bouncy, flouncy and fun, fun, fun, fun fun (a little Tigger influence).

Each little scarf is taking 250 m (approx) in the medium weights and 1 ball of the sock yarn is all you need. I'm midway through the Cash Iroha scarf, and I might go into a third ball, but at only 90 metres a skein, I am not surprised.

If I had to pick which is my favourite among them, I don't think I could choose. I love them each, the Manos Silk Wool for its soft loft, the Tupa for its dramatic glow and satin smoothness, the Cash Iroha for its soft drape and its homespun look. They are all marvelous and I would love to use them again.

Most of the gift knitting is done, and now is the time to treat yourself. These yarns are all great choices and with a lot of winter left, you could use one of these nifty little Fan NeckWarmers from the Bonita Knitting Shop too.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Thinking about colourwork

Do you follow your horoscope? I do, but not seriously. The advice it gives is so generic that it stands anyone in good stead no matter what day you were born. I'm going to follow mine today. It says:

"Set your goals early on and then get to work, for you have been given cosmic clearance to have a very productive day. "

In the spirit of setting goals early, I am going to talk about my project for my husband. Some time ago, he mentioned he liked the vest his dad had left behind. It had a Fair Isle like design over the front with a plain knitted back. Since then, I have spent a fair bit of time, pondering exactly what sort of things my husband will need in a vest and how best to accomplish it.

He is going to need serious pockets. None of the namby pamby little pockets that are only as wide as the opening. He needs real man vest pockets, the kind that would allow you to carry the kitchen sink and the tools to fix it with. They need to be deep and firm edged so that none of his stuff falls out.

The sort of pockets I am thinking about are like the ones often found on bunny hugs (what the young people are calling hoodies - they must be too manly to call them bunny hugs). I am a little worried about the slanted opening, though. A straight across pocket would be easy. Snip one thread, pick up the stitches on one side (thank you EZ)) and knit the pocket. Pick up stitches on the other side knit a flap. Easy Peasy.

But a slanted pocket in a stranded colour work piece? I don't know. I'm getting a mite unsettled just thinking about it. I have even been thinking about ways to get out of doing my first stranded colour work, and cutting a complicated pocket in it, by thinking that what I should do is knit a plain vest and make only the pockets carry the colour work. If the pockets were overlaid on the rest of the vest, it would be extremely simple. And thick. Too thick. It would look nice, but it isn't what I set out to do, so no short cuts. I will set that aside.

There should be at least one breast pocket. It can be a more average sized pocket, but access has to be easy. He prefers to carry his cell phone in his upper pocket when he has a choice.

A knitting friend recently made a bag out of a cable she was working on before starting a sweater and I think that is a capital idea. I'll knit up a couple of samples large enough so they can be used as a bag of some sort later. The swatch will be knit in the round exactly as I plan to knit the vest. I want the colour work on the bottom 1/3 of the vest only, so I need to figure out what different needles sizes are going to give me gauge in the stranded colour work and the plain knitting. Then I'll practise cutting and inserting pockets.

Another great reason to knit a large swatch is to play with colour. I have some yarns picked out that I think will be right, but I worry that my colour choices don't contrast enough. Playing with similar colours of yarns as I worked up the hats taught me that I needed to insert black between some of my colour choices to make the changes pop. Since you really need the colour to pop in Fair Isle, the large sample swatches will be a great place to play with the colours till I get it right.

Big swatches are going to give me the chance to play a little with design too. I have not made a final decision of the design of the colour work sections. Some ideas are floating in my mind from a Dale of Norway book a friend gave me, and I have all sorts of samples in the traditional pattern book I have. The swatch will tell me if the designs I choose are going to work together when they are in front of the world.

The bag is probably going to be on the fugly side. It is practise and I do intend to massacre it till I get it right. I'll hope that it falls on the sweet side of fugly.

These are the things I am pondering while I knit today. And that is what I am going to go do right this minute. I have now set my goals and given myself some space to think through some details. According to my horoscope, I have cosmic clearance for a productive day. No point in letting that cosmic clearance slip away.

Monday, 5 January 2009

The After the Holiday Pile.

I had a lovely vacation/break/series of days off. I cleaned my study up, got laundry done, and cleared up a whole bunch of odds and ends that needed clearing. I am tired now, so it is time to go back to work. Well back to normal. After a while off, I just crave going back to normal.

(In case you are thinking that I did a lot of work, there was a lot of sloth involved too. The study now needs cleaning again, the laundry is piling as per usual, and if someone doesn't get to the hand wash glassware, there will be no room on the counter for anything else. Come to think of it, while the cupboard is empty, maybe I should clean that too. )

I finished up a few things. As I mentioned previously, I received several lovely yarns at Christmas from Mr. Needles. One was knitted up and this last couple of days, the shawl lay folded in the bag waiting. Yesterday, it was blocked, and this morning finds only the ends to weave in. The pattern is the Eye of Partridge Shawl from Not Another Knit Blog . The yarn is Woolie Silk from Handmaiden in a colourway she calls Straw and was knitted on 5 mm needles, a slight departure from the pattern. This shawl speaks to me of fields of wheat just as they are changing colour, just before they are going to be cut. It is absolutely the right sort of shawl for my farm girl roots.

I mentioned in one of the Holiday posts that I had picked up my Grand Plan Capelet, knit up way back in spring last year, when I was in the throws of lusting after the book, Wrap Style.

The capelet is now on the wear me today pile. I finished the neckline with tiny clasps in a antique pewter finish and I am pleased with my choice. They are nicely understated in size but they speak volumes about the piece. A capelet, with its well defined form is by its nature, not the kind of thing to fling casually about your shoulders. A capelet sits tidily, delicately on your shoulders. It is a reminder of days long past when ladies carried muffs for their hands, and bonnets were deriguer. The picot edged button band and little standup collar reinforce that image and make the closures and even better match. Dainty, delicate and refined is how it makes me feel to have this little luxury on my shoulders.

This project needs a good blocking, but I am wearing it right now(cold study). Blocking will happen tonight. When a project is knitted in the round like this, its a little awkward to block. The plan is to dampen it, put it on the dress form, and slip the blocking wires through the bottom. It will need just a little something to add just the smallest bit of weight to crisp out the lines, and the lace. Perhaps a skein or two of yarn would work. That should do the trick without bending my blocking wires.

I was so buoyed with the shawls, that I picked up another project that isn't quite up to snuff and tired option one of my plan to fix it. Option one is not going to work so I will try option two, which is to go down, row by row, on the single stitch, a yarn over, that needs reworking. If this cannot be done, the my last option is going to be to rip it all out and reknit. I really really don't want to do this. I don't want to even think about it, but the top is so nice, the fabric the 1824 cotton made is so good to feel, that I'd like to wear it before summer. And I want to knit up the cardigan to wear with it, gosh darn it.

With that bit of exploration out of my way, I finished the little scarf for my aunt this morning, I wound up a bunch of yarn and cast on another project. No point in the needles getting rusty.

Onward to the rest of my day.

(This is how I feel without coffee. Posting to the blog is always pre-coffee. I am riding the cusp of feeling good right now, of that I am sure. Maybe it would be safer for the rest of the world if I didn't have any coffee today, but what fun would that be?)

Thank you for the nice comments yesterday. I really appreciate your kind thoughts.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Finding Joy

A somewhat rare Sunday post today but today is my birthday and I have a hankering to discuss. Bear with me.

When I was a little girl, youngsters played with dolls till we were 12 or 13 years old. It was not delayed childhood, it was not today's childhood sped up by exposure to TV, and the very, very fast moving world we live in, it is just the way it was. When I was a child, Barbie was just at the cusp of massive popularity. She was the Cabbage Patch doll of her day, the Tickle Me Elmo of my generation of women. I wanted one so badly, but none ever came my way. Eventually, I got a fashion doll, a Barbie look-a-like, who was promptly named Suzanne. And I dearly loved her. One of the first things I did was outfit her with a full wardrobe of clothes from mom's scrap box. Recall the good old polyester double knit? Sew a slim tube, finish it nicely and voila, you have a dress that was stretchy enough to stay up over Suzanne's upper, while looking stylish over the dolls slim behind. I played along with everyone else, with our dolls going to college, with them having jobs, with them dating but what I did with the dolls most of the time was sewing and making clothes. It was all about dressing the dolls, changing their clothes. Ah those were the days.

Most girls stopped playing with Barbies when they were 12 or 13, but I was a very lucky person. I had little sisters, (one, one year and nine days younger, one 4 years younger and one 10 years younger than me), so I got to indulge in my delight in childish play till I was at least 14 or 15 years old. By that time, my play was building them homes. Well not homes, more like floor plans really. I would take an apple box of dads many copies of Reader's Digest and I would use the slim small magazines to lay out risers, and sunken spaces, to denote rooms. Our dolls had a conversation pit, before conversation pits were cool. (80's housing concept. Never heard of it? the fad for them did not last long). We finagled fireplaces and desk furniture and kitchens out of whatever we could find. We manufactured stoves and fridges and cupboards out of cardboard boxes cut to size. We used ordinary plasticine to make bread and buns and tiny plates of butter, and fruits a plenty. Grapes were a favourite to make as well as bananas. We could all make really superior looking bananas. My younger sisters kept me playing for years.

I grew up, and after my third son and the knowledge that 3 was enough for me, I realized that I would never have a daughter to do all these things with. Don't get me wrong. I loved my boys and I set them to explore the world of scissors and cloth and string, but boys play differently. When they wanted to play with small sorts of things, I would send them out to the bush to gather some small twigs, and grass, and a cup of dirt from the garden. When it was a really good year, they would gather moss. And stones. With boys, there always had to be stones. While they searched the outside, I found a box, and glue and we would create these fantastic dioramas, sometimes farms, sometimes forests, but always there were paths and roads and a wee house at the end. I loved doing these, but there was no setting up the homes for dolls, and He-Men, Thundercats and Transformers never needed clothing.

If I wanted to have these things in my life, I had to do it for me, not my children, just for me. And so, I developed a 'thing' for miniatures.

The last of these is my wee garden room. The garden is a dilemma. I have no plants and plants are tough to make from Fimo. Several years ago, I saw a book on miniature gardens made out of embroidered things. The good old french knot and its variations can be a basket overflowing with flowers in the blink of an eye. I never did get around to finding that book, so when I came across this one I just had to have it.

Its a knitting book to be sure, but even the most serious of knitters has got to be impressed or at least tickled by the idea of knitting these little friars to work the gardens, no? Who isn't thrilled by this basket of wee vegetables? Look at the carrots, the turnips, the little green onions.

I'm 51, which is no great age, and heaven knows I should have become a 'grown-up' some time ago, but there is a very large part of me that feels that we should look at the world with the unprejudiced, nonjudgmental eyes of a child. Maybe if we spent some time playing in this world instead of just being tired and worn out and weary by the stresses of trying to get by, maybe if we took just one infinitesimal moment to just pause and see the wonder of it, we would all be better off.

At 49, I used to worry that I liked these childish things. There is a bible axiom about putting away the things of a child (that line has, quite frankly bothered me for years.) I often wondered was my enjoyment of these childish things part of trying to avoid the real world. Is it a way of coping? Is it about hiding where I know I am safe and free? Was reading the same thing to me? Were movies? Is knitting? At 48, I did not have the strength to wonder about even these things, and at 49, I wondered if not wondering wasn't better.

At 51, I accept that I love little things, that I am thrilled when I can make a miniature head of cabbage or a plate of tacos and burgers that looks as if it is the real thing in 1/12 scale. I am absolutely tickled to the bottom of my toes when I finish a sock, or work out how to do that little lace pattern right or when I finally knit through a problem I made 3 times before.

At 51, I am pretty sure that knowing the answers to those questions doesn't matter a bit. At 51, I am pretty sure that putting away the things of a child is very wrong. I'm not much concerned at how it looks when I am having a good time, messing around with my own stuff. I am OK that I might be thought of as odd.

At 51, I have come to find, that joy is the important thing. That finding joy is a purpose just as sure and important as finding a decent job, and just as real as having 4 sturdy walls to live in. If I cannot look at the sky when it is blue and laugh, if I cannot see the flowers in the gardens among the weeds, if I cannot see the sunset and the gray skies and the lightning for the beauty and majesty they are, if I cannot laugh when a knit stitch turns unexpectedly red from blue, then I have missed the point.

At 51, I am content to play and I know that I am the luckiest person in the world.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The trouble you can get into

Ever wonder what sort of trouble you can get into if you have absolutely nothing better to do? Or at least if you pretend you have nothing better to do? I did that yesterday. I read a little, played around on the computer a little, updated my Ravelry projects with all the Christmas knitting (I have no photos of one project at all, drat it) and knit a lot.

In the early morning hours I finished my lovely new shawl. Woolie Silk from Fleece Artist in the colour straw.

Then I worked on getting another pair of socks on the needles emptied by the Aline pair (I have a plan for those. I'll tell you about that later). I dug through my vast quantity of sock yarns and found this bright fun little thing. Its a 6 ply Trekking sock yarn. If you like the regular Trekking, you are going to love this.

I had itchy fingers, so I started this little neckwarmer. It is going to be the Fan Neckwarmer from The Bonita Knitting Shop again. My aunt really loved mom's and I promised I'd make one for her. The yarn is Manos Silk Wool Blend in a DK weight. This is absolutely gorgeous stuff. I'm uncertain of my colour choice. I worry that the rich roses and eggplants might to too harsh for my very fair aunt. I may yet pick up the plain rose colour way, or perhaps the lavender mix.

By supper time, I was looking for something different. I was sitting gazing around my study, and realized my Grand Alpaca Capelet was sitting there, just waiting for me to please work on it. I'd love to wear this lovely thing as I sit and work in my chilly space. Its a pretty thing and is going to be so very nice and cozy warm.

So that is where I am now. Working on getting the hem, the placket, and the collar done. It feels like it is going to be finished knitting today. It is moving along so smoothly. Alpaca and steel needles are a team sent from heaven if you like steel needles and the smooth lush feel of alpaca. If I do finish today, this project will have been a 3 day project. 2 days to knit the main part, and one day to do the outer edges with many moths in between.

My hands were busy getting into trouble, that is quite clear. Today will be spent cleaning and getting things back in order. This second day of January is always the day the world goes back to normal. This first weekend in January is when the tree comes down, when the lights go out and things are tucked quietly away.

Besides all the knitting, January is the Fourth Annual Just Read More Novels month. Read the Foma blog for the rules, have fun, go somewhere different, and see what kind of new stories are out there waiting to be discovered.

I'm going to start with 'The Year of Wonders' by Geraldine Brooks. My goal is to double my reading from last year. I plan to read 2, yes you heard it right, 2 novels this month. Oh for the days when I could read much more.

But next year, I'm going to check out ahead of time if books on cd's count. Too bad knitting books don't.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Last year, I said small pleasures bring great rewards. How prophetic that was.

I have a few simple goals for the year. In 2008 I learned to spin, and I think 2009 is going to have to be about becoming a better spinner. I spent most of my spinning time fighting my wheel, but with the addition of the weights to the base, I am now in charge of the wheel. Because I am now firmly in charge of my wheel, I took the liberty to quite simply ignore it. I have got to get back to it. I hope to spin and make something from my handspun. Right now I am going to aim for a small scarf or shawl. I have some Shetland fibre in a couple of colours that I would like to knit in traditional Shetland patterns.

I want more socks in my life. Reasonable people would ask how could that possibly be a goal when a person has already knit so many this year. The thing is, socks energise me. They are so basic an article of clothing, so simple in desing and purpose and here I am making them. People have made their own foot coverings for millennia, and I am now counted among millions of the nameless army of people through time who did such a simple thing. I like being in their company.

I hope to make more scarves this year. Scarves are something I can wear everyday to work and toss aside if it is too warm, wrap closer if it is too cold. Scarves are a way to use fine yarns without breaking the bank. Scarves can be serious if need be. Nothing like a thick warm plain one in winter, but scarves can be an expression joy, of lightness, and air and spirit. They are an avenue of creation, of lace, of play, and fun.

I'd like to knit something from each of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books. Every time I look in these books its like going to knitting school. I have a modified rib warmer on the go right now, but that is only the beginning. There is so very much more to learn. and when I finish these, I am heading for Lucy Neatby's videos.

I knew knitting was changing the way I looked at the world, but I did not suspect all the marvelous people that knitting would bring into my life. The north side knitters, the Sherwood Park knitters, the Wednesday night knitters, the library crafters, my spinning guru and the yayas, to all of the wonderful people I have met over the computer, as I look back on the blessings that this past year has brought to me, I find myself richer than I ever thought to be. Knitting with you made my world a better place to be.

Each of you helped me to learn that small moves, done with consistency, and a tiny bit of diligence, over time can make great things possible.

May 2009 be a year of exploration and celebration. May your discoveries along the way enrich your hearts as you have enriched mine.