Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why Is Making By Hand Important to You?

This seems to be the year of re-discovering my knitidentity. I've been answering these questions of for whom, what, where, when, and how do I knit almost instinctively this year. I am usually the kind of person who does things first and figures out why afterward, so it makes sense to me that I would dig into this now, 10 years after I started falling in love with this craft.

When I saw that Melanie Fallick was writing a book on making things by hand and wanted quotes for the book (see her blog post here) it made me stop and think.

Why is making things by hand so important to me? It's never been something I asked myself. Growing up I was attracted to art. I colored, I drew, I made latch hook rug things. My father's mother used to collect shells or coral (before we really knew that it was a bad thing to take coral from its natural environment) and she'd bring these back to us when we were little. I don't quite know how or why it started, but we began to color the shells with markers. My father's sister used to create pottery (we had her wheel for quite a while. I always kind of was hoping to get to use it but didn't get a chance to before my parents did something with it), and my grandmother used to love to draw.

But I suspect my mother's side is more where the compelling drive to work with my hands comes from. My mom dabbles in many fiber crafts, but hasn't really gotten obsessed with any the way I have. My grandfather worked in textile mills in Massachussets (In Lowell? Near Lowell?) before going to the Korean War and then school on the GI bill. My grandmother, though, has always seemed to me to be an expert in all fiber arts. She knits, embroiders, sews, weaves, and crewells as well (those kits are HARD to find these days!). So I've not only had an example of handmade around my whole life, but I've always had some sort of creative influence flowing through me as well.

I make things with my hands because I need to. Making with my hands is, I would say, such a part of me that it almost defines who I am.

I am a doer.
I am a creator.
I am a maker.

I'm not honestly sure what I would do with my hands if they weren't working on a project. As it is, when I'm at work or driving anywhere I pick at my fingers, the nail (unless they're painted), the cuticle, the skin around them. I destroy my fingers when they aren't otherwise busy. They sometimes bleed and get painful.

TL:DR: I make things with my hands to prevent auto-canibalization.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tropical Knitting

It's taken me several years, but I think I finally understand how to choose a project for a tropical vacation.

2009 - Hawaii
I know I checked the weather before I left. I think I even knew it would be hot. I brought a shawl project because I figured I'd have a hard time finishing a whole shawl in a week. I started a Seraphim out of some beautiful Briar Rose Angel Face. I did not complete it in a week. In fact, it was rather gross to knit with in Hawaii. Don't get me wrong, I love the shawl and the yarn. But Alpaca yarn, even lace weight alpaca yarn is not the best yarn to knit with in 80 degree weather. I pretty much only knit in the room before bed or on the plane.

Knitting by the pool

2011 - Cruise to the Bahamas
My needles were almost taken from me. Not just any needles, all of my Addi Clicks! At the last minute a different TSA officer came over, realized what they were and let me get on the boat. I brought all of those with me because I was planning on knitting an Ishbel with beads. I think I did manage to get all of the beads threaded onto the silk/cashmere yarn, but I think that might have been all I accomplished on that trip

2012 - Orlando, Disney World
Honestly, I know I brought a knitting project with me, but I don't even remember what it was or even knitting on it.

2014 - Jamaica
After our wedding, I was really excited to go to Jamaica and to do absolutely nothing. I remember reading a book on the beach, and I think I tried to finish knitting a pair of wool socks, but had the same experience as in Hawaii. It's pretty gross when your fingers start sweating.

2015 - Jamaica
This year, I got a bit smarter. I knit a sock of wool, silk, and a strand of sparkle. It made my fingers sweat a lot less, which was good. However, I guess they don't really need socks in Jamaica because the cabana boy was completely confused when I told him I wasn't knitting a bag!

In the lobby getting some knitting done while waiting for the bus back to MBJ.  :( #Jamaica #sandals #vacation

2015 - Orlando, Disney World
Yeah, there was a lot of travel last year. I brought a hat with me to knit and really enjoyed knitting it, but finished it rather quickly. I also brought a sock with me this time, so i was fine. I managed to knit quite a bit while waiting in lines. It didn't seem as though we waited in as many lines in 2012. I could be misremembering, but I think it was busier there this past year than in 2012. I feel like I would have remembered knitting more.

Not a hat for Stan, but for the Seaman's Church Institute. #knitting #charityknitting #seamenschurchinstitute #vogueknitting #northlightfibers

All this leads to...

2016 - Jamaica
We're about to head back to Jamaica tomorrow morning and I think I've figured out the perfect project to knit on while there. This past summer I knit a couple of tees. I really LOVE the Flex I knit. The Kestrel from Quince and Co is so breezy! So instead of just bringing it with me to wear while I'm there, I thought I'd bring yarn and knit another to wear this summer. Kestrel is a knitted linen yarn and is rather affordable. I remember this to be a rather quick knit, too, so with any luck I'll come back with a whole new shirt (unless I get distracted with comics and Clara Parkes' Knitlandia...

Ooh!  Look what arrived today!! Yarn for a second Flex from @quinceandco !

Monday, February 22, 2016

How Did I End Up With So Many Green Sweaters?!

How do you choose the colors you want to knit a sweater from?

While I start choosing a shawl based on the colors of the yarn and how much I love the yarn, when I choose a sweater project I tend to start with a pattern I love and a yarn I think would work and choose a color of that specific yarn. This has lead to the following stats:

I've knit...
  • 3 green sweaters
  • 3 red sweaters
  • 2 purple sweaters
  • 1 1/2 white sweaters (I have one in progress)
  • 1 blue sweater
  • 1 brown sweater
  • 1 gray sweater

I don't think I look particularly wonderful in yellow, so I don't mind that I've skipped that part of the color wheel. I have been thinking of what my next sweater should be. I'm thinking either Jean from Pom Pom Magazine. I have some orange DK weight from Ellen's Half Pint Farm I bought in 2007 at Rhinebeck. It might be nice to use it before it will have been in my stash for 10 years. And you'll notice that orange isn't a color featured on that list of colors!

Ellen's Half Pint Farm Falkland wool- one 1500 yard hank!

I'm also contemplating a yoke sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman that I've been thinking about for several years now. In my head, this sweater is navy blue and has a ring of white stars around the yoke. I think they'd be hand drawn stars, though, not perfect ones. I got this idea after seeing someone with an EZ Yoke sweater the first time I went to Rhinebeck. Hers had a yoke that had a kind of Greek wave pattern on it. At some point after that I started thinking about this kind of sweater (I feel like it was very close to having met that woman, actually, on the benches of the food court part of the fairgrounds). I've thought about this sweater quite often throughout the years, and I think this might be the year it becomes a reality.

At Rhinebeck in 2014 I bought some worsted weight blue yarn and white yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery. I'm just not sure if I actually have enough white to accomplish the stars as big as I'd want them. I might need another skein of the white, which due to dye lots, I'd probably have to buy two more and add the first to the PILE of white yarn I have on hand for whenever someone decides they need a bouquet of white pom-poms again.

All the talk this year seems to focus on Icelandic yoked sweaters, but that cabled sweater is so pretty and I already know I have yarn for it that would work. What do you think I should do first?

Also: How do you choose the colors you want to use to knit a sweater?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

How I Feel About Shawls

I love to knit shawls.

I don't, however, love to wear shawls.

Very few of the shawls I've knit have actually been worn, I'm sorry to say. Why am I thinking of this now? I've been reading that book everyone else is reading, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it's somewhat at odds between my desire to create and my burgeoning desire to liquidate my items.

You see, I really want to cast on for a Doodler shawl after seeing so many on Instagram. I have some rad yarns picked out to knit it in!


But when I started thinking of casting on, I realized that I rarely wear any of these colors. I don't even think a shawl with these colors would match any of the coats I own (I actually don't have a plain black or navy coat because I find them boring and hard to pick out from a pile at parties). I have outfits it would go with, to be sure. But since I'd rarely wear it with any of my coats, it's unclear if it would actually make it to my destination for me to wear it.

While I've always realized I am mostly a process knitter, I think this kind of project really brings it home. If I won't wear this shawl that I really want to knit, who will? Also, there must be a shawl that I will actually wear that I can knit instead. What does that shawl look like!?

I thought I was knitting that shawl when I started Lida. I thought I'd wear it at my wedding, but then it was 58 degrees (never thought that would happen in Rhode Island in early March!) and wearing a shawl was not in the cards.

Lida Shawl Blocking

I thought I was knitting that shawl when I was knitting a Stripe Study Shawl. I wear those colors all the time. But the shawl ended up to small to be anything other than a scarf.

Stripe Study Shawl or: how I wait for FiOS. #knitting #knitstagram #intothewhirled #madelinetosh #piningforthefjords

The only shawl I consistently wear is a Rhodochrosite I knit from some black cashmere (that I don't even have a completed photo of).

Maybe I should just set up an Etsy shop for shawls I knit but won't wear so that I can continue knitting ridiculous items for fun.

Or maybe I should just shift my focus to color-work yoke sweaters as seems to be happening naturally. Maybe the lesson here is that when I get an itch to knit a shawl I should just wait it out.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote this on Monday and while typing it up today I had to enter all the stash into Ravelry and while I'm still rather focused on color-work yoke sweaters, I'm also now still feeling the Doodler shawl so maybe that Etsy shop is a good idea...

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Christmas Challenge

My brother issued a challenge. He might have even said the words "you can't make that." But of course I can make that! I am a fearless knitter! The hat in question is the reindeer hat from Home Alone. I went right to the internet to refresh my memory of the hat. I haven't seen the film in quite some time. I found this image using a Google search.

I made a few assumptions based on this image.
  1. there seem to be about 6 reindeer on the hat altogether
  2. it's a rather loose gauge
  3. there's no ribbed cuff
I cast on with size 5 needles and went for it. And it's huge. You could fit two of his heads in there. So back to the drawing board. Maybe it's tighter than I'd originally thought. The cuff looks a little smaller than I'd worked. Maybe there's only 4, or 5 repeats of the reindeer pattern. What do you think? I'm going to give it another go. Size 4 instead of 5s. And I'm going to eliminate at least one reindeer from the pattern. Think I can make it by Christmas?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bad Girl Yarn Ready for Fun!

Flirty lace-weight yarn seeking knitter for just a little casual fun. Interests include looking beautiful, creating those pills while being knit with and self-tangling. Seeking that perfect knitter to fight with Taylor Swift-style so you can write about our torrid affair on the blogosphere. No pets please. Pic below...

BAD yarn! No donut!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Knitting To Dos

I write myself a to do list at the beginning of each work week. It helps keep me organized throughout the week, and is there any better feeling than crossing something off of a to do list?!

I try not to have knitting to do lists. I rarely pay attention to my queue on Ravelry because by the time I'm ready to knit the thing on the top of my queue, I've already got my heart set on something altogether different.

This year is a little different. All sorts of life changing events are happening to myself and people I'm close with. What better way to mark these events than to knit? How best to keep myself busy before my March 2014 wedding than to DIY a bit of it? To keep myself sane, and on track, I put together a to do list:

I am pretty close to finishing the Essential Cardigan. After knitting all those Christmas balls a month ago, I really wanted to knit something for ME. I knew there would be a lot of selfless knitting this year, so I thought I'd get a jump on something selfish. I have to finish sleeve 2, block all the pieces, seam it, and work on the collar with buttons. Not too bad.

I'm, at heart, a 1 project at a time kind of knitter. Sure, I'm working on a shawl too right now, but that's really a backup project for when I can't cart the bigger cardigan project around. This year might force me to break that habit.

I really have to get going on the Super Secret project. You can see there that I have set an imminent deadline for myself. Reachable, sure, but not without multitasking.

And then there are the real self-less projects. A project for a baby, and 4 shrugs so my bridesmaids don't get cold during my March wedding. And the sort-of selfish pom-poms for bouquets and table decorations. I have yarn for the baby project, and yarn for the shrugs just shipped. I think I might be in a good place with the bouquets, I have an interesting configuration ready, and I should be getting some help from my bridesmaids on the pom-poms for the centerpieces/table decorations.

Still, I somehow feel stressed about all these projects. Maybe it's the fact that hey all have deadlines. I realized I left a wedding shawl for myself off of the list unintentionally. I just can't handle thinking that so many of these projects are due around the same time.

Most of all the big wedding details, believe it or not, are pretty much nailed down. We have a venue, a date, an officiant, a DJ, and a photographer all lined up. So I guess the stuff that stresses most brides out is more or less complete. I fully acknowledge and admit that I've taken these projects on myself. That I've said I would do them and get them done on time. I guess I'm just a little worried that the me that executes stuff is going to somehow fall short and not follow through on it all.

I've got plenty of time, though. Right?