1

The Lowdown on Slowdown

I saw Passengers the other day with my super knitty pal Troy. Having not seen any real trailers about the movie beforehand, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really really liked it.  It doesn’t hurt that Chris Pratt is pretty dreamy in an old-fashioned, boy-next-door kinda way. As a six degrees of separation side note, my sister-in-law went to high school with him (!). I sure don’t remember any guys at my high school lookin’ like that…… (Sssshhhh… don’t tell R. Darling I said that – we went to high school together!). Granted, lots of dudes get better with age ;)

Anyway, daydreams aside, I was struck by a particular scene in the movie and have been thinking about it ever since.  Jim Preston (Pratt’s character) is asked why he would choose to spend 120 years in hibernation in order to start a new life on an unknown colony far from the life he knew on Earth. He thinks about it for a moment and then says that back on Earth, when something breaks, it is replaced instead of being fixed. As someone who works with his hands for a living, he implies that he wants a simpler life where we value what we create. When I think about what a life like that would mean, I envision a place where people would live more intentionally. We would care more about the things we were doing and the people with whom we chose to populate our lives. Mindfulness, I believe it’s called.

Top to Bottom: Chrysanthemum, ?, Bellini

Top to Bottom: Chrysanthemum, ?, Bellini

I have been stuck on this thought ever since.  And not just because of the pretty face and slick Hollywood film that brought it up. It’s not a new thought, and certainly not unique to my existence.  It’s easy enough to define, but more difficult to apply to every day life. But I know I need it.

I was listening to The Minimalists‘ Podcast the other day and they described an exercise they have asked people to do in the past that allows them some clarity when reflecting on what’s important in their lives and what would really make them happy. On a sheet of paper, you write “Today” and list all the things you need or want to do today.  All the stuff that feels important at this moment.  Turn the paper over and title that side “Someday”.  Write down all the things you want to do someday. Now, what would happen if you switched the titles of the two sides?  If “Someday” became “Today”? Would your life be richer, more-fulfilled, and have more meaning?  I think yes.

So I am finding ways to make “someday” into “today”.  I dyed yarn 3 days this week and developed 3 new colors for the Etsy shop.  Normally that would have fallen under “someday” but I made the choice it would be today and I am so much happier for it. And people, happy is really where it’s at.

4

Let It Go

 

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in Colorado Hairstreak

I have not {gasp} seen Frozen. Yes, there might be a big rock somewhere that I just crawled out from underneath. Even so, I’ve heard the “Let It Go” song a lot of times.  I mean a lot. Usually belted out off-key by preschool girls twirling around in tutus. Ugh.

I mean the song, not the girls. The girls are totally adorable.

But even though I pretty much despise the song, the whole “Let It Go” refrain keeps bouncing around in my head every time I look at this yarn I pulled out of my stash the other day.

A few years ago I was all nerdy fan-girl wacked out over (the now defunct) The Sanguine Gryphon. The obsession was a little over the top to put it mildly.  I was constantly checking for updates, cruising Ravelry destashes for rare colors, and doing my best to bankrupt myself collecting every color I could get my grubby little paws on. If they’d stayed in business just a little longer, I’d probably have sold a kidney to keep the collection going. Can you spell hoarder? Yes, you can. It’s spelled K-n-i-t-t-y-m-u-g-g-i-n-s, thankyouverymuch.

My Sanguine Gryphon stash has long been classified CDH, i.e. “cold dead hands.” As in, you cannot even pry this from my cold dead hands. I will come back from the dead and school your butt if you even try. But the other day I was looking for some purple yarn to knit a gift for Uptown’s Kindergarten teacher and, shockingly, I decided to use a skein of my precious, limited edition, SG Bugga! When I pulled it out, I tried to look at it objectively (for once). It was a beautiful color, but it wasn’t a color that suited me all that well.  I didn’t buy it for a special project, and it had been sitting in my stash since 2011.  What was I waiting for?  The apocalypse?  I’m pretty sure none of the Four Horsemen need shawlettes or socks in lavender.  Neither was I going to need them after I died. So why not use it?  There really wasn’t a single reason I could think of for keeping it around.

So now my beloved SG Bugga! in Colorado Hairstreak, will become a Frisson for an end of the year teacher gift. I’m finally letting it go.

11

A Knitter in Crisis

On November 7, 2015 I uttered the words I thought I’d never say: “I think I need to stop knitting.” And I was dead serious.

Earlier that day I had picked up the sweater I finished this year for Loopy Academy, Freshman Year, Semester 2: Slipped Stitches and was stunned to find a small moth hole in the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater. Don’t believe the hype – they DO ABSOLUTELY eat new yarn.  I only wore this sweater for a few minutes to take photos. That was it.

Suck Factor: infinity.

As I looked at it I thought, well, maybe I could repair that small bit.  It was only a couple stitches, I caught them in time, and any knitter worth their salt should be able to fix something like that, right? Thinking I’d catch those motherf*&%^$ing moths while they were sleeping, I decided to soak the sweater first to drown any remaining munchy perpetrators. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Modest Sweater with more holes the size of reindeer. It’s probably good I gave it a bath and saw just how much damage was caused, or I might have tried to repair it first and realized later it was a lost cause. I wasted enough time knitting it, I didn’t want to waste any extra time repairing it.

After the sweater debacle in the morning, I was decidedly (and deservedly) down. What was the point of it all? Why should I continue to knit if this kind of thing is going to happen (it’s happened on a smaller scale before)? Why why why? What a waste of time and effort.  There were tears in my voice when I told my husband I should just quit knitting. He looked at me with as much sympathy as a non-knitter, non-hand-knit-wearer could muster and said, “But you love it.  It’s not about finishing things for you. It’s about the process.” Does this man know me or what? Everything he said rang true.

I haven’t given up on knitting, but I am taking a small break to regroup and fortify my spirit against the evil moth hordes. I am …gasp… crocheting with perle cotton and purchased acrylic (ick) for two projects. There are reasons for those things not entirely related to the wool hell I’ve been in, but there’s definitely a correlation. I’ve been burned.

But like a moth to a flame…. or more like a moth to wool….. I’m sure I’ll be back.

In the meantime, please answer me this: Why do you knit/crochet/create? I absolutely need to know the meaning of (knit)life!

4

A Three Hour (LYS) Tour

Sunday, the last day of the LYS tour, dawned with appropriately sunny glory.  Perfect for a three hour (or so) tour. I know I am completely dating myself with that reference, but I couldn’t help thinking about “…The Professor and Maryanne…” going out for their three hour tour.  We only went to three shops and somehow it felt like a bit of a whirlwind to me, though a fun one.  How do people do the whole tour?! 5 days, 26 shops. Fun, but crazy exhausting.  You know you’re old when that much running around sounds like a lot of fuss instead of a great excuse for a party.  My friend Troy (pictured in front of NW Handspun Yarns on the far right) and I, with our monumental stashes, conferred ahead of time and decided that we would not buy anything unless it was supremely special or something needed for a project.  I’m proud to say we stuck to our guns and were pretty successful, not that I wasn’t tempted by all the Madelinetosh gleaming from the stacks.

First stop after a sensational breakfast at The Calico Cupboard was Wild Fibers in Mt. Vernon, where I was sorely tempted by the Trapper Cowl sample knit in buttery soft Manos del Uruguay Maxima.  Luckily, I couldn’t find any color combos that needed to jump into my greedy little fingers, but I’ll admit to some excessive fondling occurring while in the shop. Repeatedly.

After that we headed back north to NW Handspun Yarns where my steely resolve crumbled in the face of more Manos; bargain bin, silk blend, a good contrast color for some other yarn I’d been gifted. Realistically not good rationalizations, but perhaps I was feeling woozy from a lack of specialty coffee and the profusion of yarn fumes.  Did I need it? No.  Did I like it? Yes. No sense dwelling on it now. Time to put that yarn to work!

Our last stop was Apple Yarns, where we were greeted by a flurry of activity and friendly faces.  This is the shop I frequent most often and here, they actually know my name. On the other hand, they know Troy at all the yarn shops :)  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t make the rounds (or chat much).  Too much temptation.  Plus, it’s been clearly proven that if you talk to me while I’m shopping, your interest in me will result in my feeling it necessary to spend money in your shop.  I’m a sucker I am. And a good one to boot! Anyway, I did pick up two bargain bin skeins of Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Coral Rose for a future somethin’ somethin’. Best part? I had a gift certificate from last year’s Stash Buster Sale at the shop and I only spent a whopping 30 cents on my two brand spankin’ new skeins of awesome.  Not too shabby.

I’m too lazy to photograph the acquisitions; sorry but you’ve all seen yarn before.  The big news now is that Stash Dash 2015 starts tomorrow!  And unlike my friend Knitting Up North, I have not really sat down and laid a plan for my Dash success.  I assume I’ll be working toward a 5K (5,468 yds) though there is potential to push it to a 10K (10,936 yds) if I’m really motivated.  But with only 1.5 weeks of school left, I’m assuming knitting time will be greatly reduced as I adjust to the summer schedule and trying to find ways to fill our time.  Then again there are karate lessons and park visits which, so far, have resulted in extra knitting time. We shall see.  Stay tuned for some Stash Dash updates to come!

2

Swatcha Doin?

*The title for this post must be read in Isabella’s sing-song voice from Phineas & Ferb to achieve maximum effect (if you don’t have a 5 year old boy in the house at the moment, check out this link).*

Yep, you guessed it.  I’m swatchin’. Swatchin’, and dreamin’, and hopin’, and prayin’.  O.k., not really prayin’.  If all does not swatch well, there are always more fish in the yarn stash to choose from.

Yarn & Patterns from Left to Right:

  • Misti Alpaca Worsted in “Berry Melange” for Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot)
  • Jakobsdals Bahamas in Red for the Conestoga Tunic by Heather Zoppetti (in Everyday Lace)
  • Laines du Nord Mulberry Silk in “Sky” for Green Apple Tank by Amy Palmer (in Knitscene, Summer 2015)

And there’s more in the works (it’s going to be a long summer of swim lessons & karate lessons!).

But what about you?  What new projects are you excited about as the days turn towards summer?

2

Fresh Beginnings

IMG_1741My garden doesn’t look like this (yet). But this explosion of spring-y goodness seems to be popping up like little floral treasure chests wherever I look around town. I’m so ready for it – the colors, the cheery flower faces peeping at me, a warm welcome back to my garden and the rich smell of wet soil being turned over.  Good thing  Loopy Academy (presented by The Loopy Ewe) is back in session with a bunch of new beginnings to look forward to! I’m ready to start my second semester as a freshman  and I think I have the perfect pattern picked out for the striping project challenge.  I’m planning on knitting a Duotone Cowl and though I’d originally intended to use Malabrigo Silky Merino for this project, I’m treating myself to a new (to me) luxurious yarn: Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag. I chose Creme Fraiche and Golden Butter for my contrasting colorways and the thought of them together brings a smile to my face, just like the sweet little Tete A Tete daffodils in the picture above.  I can’t wait for both to arrive at my house!

1

I’ve Got Magic Balls

Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! I was here first.

What is it about the word “balls” that sends me into giggles like a silly little third grader? We use that word as knitters. Alot. You would think I’d be over it, but every once in a while it just gets me in the giggle trigger.

Have you heard of these yet? I’ve been seeing them around in the blogosphere and noticing knitalongs for projects utilizing them, as well as people selling them on etsy. As someone who finds themselves physically incapable of disposing of even the smallest shred of yarn, magic balls are incredibly appealing. Here’s a way to use up all those little wooly bits that are really too small to make much out of, yet have a way of sitting around indefinitely staring you in the face and reminding you you have WAY too much yarn.

2015/01/img_0075.jpg

For an embarrassingly long time now (we’re talking years here, people!) I’ve had an afghan in my care that I received from a college friend. Her grandmother (I think) had knit it and it had been passed down to her now teenage daughter. They’d noticed it was starting to show some wear and asked me if I could repair/fix it for them. They weren’t sure if it was knitted (turns out it was) or crocheted and since I was the only person they knew who did either, they asked for my help. I was honored of course, but being the Queen of Procrastination that I am, I kept putting it aside. Early this year I decided it was high time I fixed it and sent it back. There are just too many of these unfinished things dragging me down and stressing me out with guilt. Anticipating a long extended repair effort, I was surprised and sheepish to discover that it took me only about an hour to fix the few small spots that needed work. Oy. But one of the things I’d hoped to do when I first received the blanket was to try to decipher the pattern so that if, in the future, one of the panels (it’s knitted in panels which are then crocheted togetther) disintegrated, I’d be able to replace it for them. Now that the repair job had gone so quickly, I felt obligated to put just a little extra time in to try to accomplish this. These are dear college friends, in case you haven’t figured it out :) The blanket owner is the daughter of my college boyfriend and my college roommate. How’s that for sounding awkward? Totally isn’t though. I even went to Maryland for their wedding many years ago!

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Enter magic balls. I wanted to try my hand at making one, and I needed yarn to experiment with for my reverse engineered blanket project, so it just seemed like it was meant to be. I used these instructions to make my first magic ball and spent a couple days working out the pattern for the blanket panel. After lots of trial and error, I came to realize that any knitwear designing dreams I might have harbored have absolutely no chance of realization since it’s obvious I’m not cut out for it. Two days to figure out a simple lace pattern? Yeah, no talent here. But yet, part of me is proud to say that I actually did it! And I’m happy with the results, so I see a blanket made of magic balls and this reverse engineered pattern in my near(ish) future.

The first strip is completed and it looks like this:

2015/01/img_0076.jpg

All the blue shades remind me of mimeographs from when I was a kid (yes, I’m dating myself with that comment!) so that’s what I’m calling my nascent blanket. Can’t wait to make my next magic ball and next blanket strip! The yarn is already picked out and just waiting for me to get my yarn needle and winder out.