Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Old Favorite Soon to be Revisited

Late last year, I knit this shawl, the Rose Heart Shawl, for my grandmother's Christmas gift. My mother bought her a gorgeous shawl pin to go with it. She absolutely LOVED both the shawl and the pin.

Unfortunately, my Grandmother has been moved to a Care Center this month. During the move from her apartment to the Care Center, the shawl was lost. I don't think it's going to be found.

Therefore, I promised to make her another to replace it. She wants the exact same pattern. Exact same yarn (Malabrigo). Exact same color.

What can I say? Yes! I will do it. I hope she likes the second attempt as much as the first. It may take me several weeks to get this done, but I'll do my very best. I've already ordered the yarn.

I usually don't like to ever knit the same project twice, and certainly not in the same identical yarn. But knowing how very much she adores this shawl, I realized that it will be a pleasure revisiting this shawl because when has anyone ever treasured my knitting so much as Grammy? That kind of total appreciation is rare and she means more to me than all the yarn in the world.

Love you Grammy. Now get to feeling better so you can get back to your computer, you hear?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Presenting Nightwatch Shawl

There's a song that sings something about wishing for "Someone to Watch Over Me." Over the last 8 weeks, I've been trying to create a Shetland Triangle Shawl that is large enough to envelope and comfort my friend Margo and make her feel cherished while she continues to mourn for the loss of her oldest son.

I've knit on this thing all summer. Changed shawls once when I didn't like the way the first effort was turning out. And now, after finishing it yesterday and blocking it out tonight, I realize that a shawl really CAN be too large. I did 12 repeats on size 7 needles, which is 4 more repeats than the pattern calls for. But guess what? It's H-U-G-E. In fact, before blocking, it was 63" wingspan and AFTER blocking, it is a 110" wingspan. Before blocking, the spine was 31" long, after blocking, it is 40".

I hope it's not literally too large for her to even use. Argghh!!! Once it dries, I'll reassess the situation. Right now, I'm pretty irritated with myself for not stopping at least 2-3 repeats earlier.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad News On the Doorstep

Is anyone else out as scared as I am?

I try to avoid talking politics on here, but seriously, with all that is happening financially in this country, on top of everything bad that has happened for the last eight years under this administration, I feel nothing but sick in the pit of my stomach.

I feel powerless and frightened - beyond anger now, I am really scared.

When my favorite nightime show, Coast to Coast radio, begins to play out in real-time news, I feel as if daily reality is a bad dream.

I want to wake up now (please).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clean Up Time

In anticipation of Aunt Eve coming to visit last weekend, I was motivated to clean out my knitting room which also doubles as the guest room.

It is really gratifying to go through my yarn and projects and find that most of the yarn in my current inventory is really good stuff that I love. Having done a culling of what I don't need these past few months, I've gotten a grasp of what's important and I've kept those yarn treasures.

Now that there is talk of economic crisis in the whole country, it makes me feel strangely secure (emotionally) to know that even if I couldn't afford to buy any more yarn for 2 years, I probably have enough yarn and projects to keep me busy that long.

So while I continue to sort and assess, I'm also feeling satisfied with what I have in terms of fiber.

I have enough, quite enough, to do what I want and need to knit, plus there's a bit of free space now in my knitting life for discovering new yarns, new projects, and adding a bit of newness without feeling bloated and overwhelmed. That's a nice feeling.

What do you most treasure right now?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just Ten Minutes a Day . . .

For spinning, that is. I just found a new Ravelry group where the goal is to spin just ten minutes a day. I think that spinning a little bit each day would bring a small bit of pleasure and relaxation to my life, which has been too tense and stressed-out lately. I've been looking for a larger block of time in which to spin, say an hour or more, and that just isn't possible at the moment.

This reminds me of my former writing life, when I used to look for chunks of 2 hours or more in which to work on my stories - and then finally ended up being much more productive by grabbing 10-30 minutes of time in smaller chunks. Only then was I actually able to get some writing done.

Now as far as spinning is concerned, I have both a drop spindle and an Ashford wheel but haven't really been spinning enough lately. I think I'm held back by one very unsuccessful attempt I made at plying my singles a few weeks ago. That turned out - yuck! But I have been reading more about how to improve my plying, and hopefully have found a few ideas of how to make that better.

For the past several weeks/months, I've been doing long, time-consuming projects, such as the shawl and the vest, that I am craving a chance to work on my spinning again - ah bliss!

Did you know that Knitty now has published KnittySpin online? I've heard that this has actually been out for a while, but somehow I didn't hear of it until I just stumbled onto it a few days ago.

While I enjoy reading about, learning about, and dabbling in my newfound spinning hobby, the important thing is to keep this spinning all about FUN and not pressure myself too soon to produce the type of fancy, beautiful yarm that I envision in my head. Wouldn't that be so gratifying to actually make your own yarn and knit it up? But I need to take it one step at a time . . . one baby step, cause I'm really at the baby spinner stage and enjoying every minute of it.

If you're not into spinning, what activitity could YOU commit to for just 10 minutes a day that would add enjoyment and happiness to your life?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This is My Biggest Purse

Everyone who knows me knows that I have a love affair with purses and bags of all kinds. But my husband pointed out, quite some time ago, that I use my car, particularly the TRUNK of my car as my biggest purse.

Sometimes, like every purse, it needs sorting out. As you can see right now, my purse, errr trunk is a mess and I need to declutter it. That's on my "to do" list for today, along with many other things I've been putting off.

Luckily today is a cool, lovely though a bit cloudy autumn day. We've had rain for days and days, but today that Autumn aroma is in the air. It feels really refreshing this morning to open up all the windows of my house and let the breeze blow through. Ahhh!!! Appreciate the small joys, they are the best.

And speaking of enjoyment, no one is loving this more than our little dog, Domino.

I'm still trying to finish up the Shetland Triangle Shawl. I finished the tenth repeat yesterday and probably need to do one or two more repeats before knitting the border. I can't wait to finish that up, get it off my needles and onto Margo's shoulders just in time for the chilly weather to set in.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ravelry Reflections

It's hard to believe I've been on Ravelry an entire year now.

For the most part, I LOVE Ravelry. It has put me in tune with so many people, both live and virtual, that I NEVER would have met in real knitting life. I have now reached the point that I have over 100 Ravelry "Friends" - of course, the term "friend" for the most part over there just means I like to watch their work and am interested in their projects etc., I follow their knitting in some respect.

I am a member of over 20 Groups. The Groups thing is much more changeable for me. There are a few groups I've kept the whole time, such as the KC Groups and the Lace Group, Shawl Group, Sock Group, etc. but overall, the Groups I participate in regularly really change as my latest areas of interest change. I join and leave groups fairly often, especially the Knitalong things. I've recently joined in several Spinning groups, because I'm trying to learn to spin.

I'm absolutely AMAZED that I've posted over 600 messages in various Forums and Groups. The Forums are one thing I didn't expect to participate in much. But I find myself drawn in. I still avoid (like the Plague) any areas of controversy or non-knitting related stuff, because I just am not there to get involved in a flame war.

Personally, the most useful thing about Ravelry are: 1) The Notebook where you post your project information. That is a blast. I've found myself getting excited when I'm nearly done with a project, because I can post it on Ravelry - and I also REALLY enjoy following other people's projects as well and seeing the modifications they've used on yarn selection, pattern changes, errata and most of all, how the projects fit on "real people" when the knitters are nice enough to try the garment on and post a photo of themselves modeling it.

2) The pattern finder - being able to search for specific patterns, finding the source and reading about how it is playing out among the knitting public. Also giving me ideas that I never would have thought of or been exposed to on my own.

3) Knitting Queue has been Great! I love keeping a little live, ongoing list of projects that I'm wanting to knit and to be able to shuffle the order as my mood changes. Very fun!

The only downside to Ravelry is the time spent on it - but even that part I'm managing better now that I have my Notebook set up and the novelty of it has worn off enough that I'm able to jump on and off quickly without getting lost. The only danger is time like tonight, where I get a bit too much free time frittering away on dreaming of future projects instead of knitting on present ones. Which reminds me, I need to get back to Margo's shawl . . . . right now!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Rest of Year For Finishing Up?

I got to thinking the other day that because I HAVE been in a production knitting and stash-busting mindset, it would only make sense to spend the final third of the year on FINISHING things.

First up, I have the Shetland Triangle Shawl for Margo - that's my current project, and I am on the 8th repeat. Not sure how many repeats I'll do on this, maybe twelve or thirteen? It's a fun shawl and I really need to finish it. She could use it, especially now that the cool fall approaches and she rides on her boat to relax.

Also, I want to finish two pairs of socks that were started earlier in the year and have been languishing.

And then there is the Wrap Me Up, which has been sitting around for a year and deserves to be finished.

And there is an Einstein coat that I need to totally frog and restart adding a carry-along yarn to make it thicker, warmer and more unique.

So that's a full plate for 2008.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Musing on the Bigger Questions Again

When I was young, I was very philosophical, even more so than now! And I used to think that the goal of life was "happiness" although I would have found that difficult to define. If one is to define happiness as "a general pleasant outlook on life and a satisfaction with the state of one's circumstances in life" then I would argue that you probably can control the first part - your attitude (at least somewhat) but if you're waiting for the circumstances to all fall in line, you may never be truly happy, because I no longer think that is an achievable state, or at least not for long. Circumstances are often in flux and out of one's control. There are a lot of unplesant things to deal with, and many of the problems are more complex than your minister or rabbi, your President, or your favorite self-help guru will mislead you to believe.

At the stage in life I'm at now, middle age, I'm much more cynical and frayed. At times, I chide myself for being so negative, but honestly, I'm less inclined now to give up than ever before. Why? Not sure, but I'm savoring the islands of peace and CONTENTMENT in each day. When youg, I viewed being "content" as boring and quiet. But the older I get, the more I seek out the small islands in each day - the routines, the rituals. Things like not rushing through brushing my teeth - things like writing a journal entry, no matter how short, savoring a small bit of a book with just the right words to touch my thirsty soul, knitting a single row of lace.

Yesterday I took great pleasure in laughing out loud while listening to a Dorothy Parker essay in my car. During a particularly difficult time in her life, the phone rang. She turned to her companion and asked, "What fresh hell is this?"
Being able to laugh at circumstances somehow makes them more bearable and rich.

Most of all, as I gain more life experience, I realize that whatever problem I or my loved ones are facing, however complex, it really will work itself out somehow in the end. Maybe not the way I envisioned the solution - but it really will be okay. There will be lessons learned, bonds deepened, relationships grown more precious, and character strengthened. Most of all, each day has value - no matter what it brings.

Now go have a day - and experience it the way that you will, but within that day, find an oasis of peace that you can fully appreciate and soak in what you've experienced.