Friday, February 27, 2009

Bring Out the Big Sticks

Big. Chunky. Easy. Fast. Instant Grat. That's what I'm craving right now. So for the time being, I've banished all those socks - all those small yarns and size 0 needles. Bring on the Size 13. Size 17. Size 19. How's that for the big sticks?

At the stress level I'm at right now, just PLEASE give me easy and mindless.

Now let's discuss books to inspire in this Big Knitting. Starting with Big City Knits. I know this book was out in 2007, but I didn't discover it until recently, after talking about it with a couple of people at The Studio Retreat. This is a book of 31 Chunky Yarn Weight designs by the designer Wenlan Chia, maker of Twinkle Yarns. I notice that Knitpicks has the book on sale right for now 34% off and I'm debating whether I should buy it now or wait until they have another 40% off sale. The copy I've been reviewing this week is one from the library, but I definitely think I'll try to make a couple of things from this book, as well as Loop d Loop, another great source of big chunky projects that I'm craving right now.

One thing to be forewarned about if you consider getting this book (Big City Knits) is that the bust sizes range from 22" - 35." There has been a well-discussed "sizing issue" with folks wondering why the size range doesn't expand to larger women. From what I understand, though, the patterns are made out of huge stretchy yarn, so perhaps if I make the size Large, the 35", that it might fit my 38" actual size. We'll see how that goes.

Also, the designer, Wenlan Chia, had a live discussion chat over on the Vogue website this week. You can read the transcript here.

And finally, before Vogue's Winter issue leaves the book stands, if you are drawn to these bigger knits, go out and grab a copy of the Winter issue of Vogue, which features "Bold and Beautiful" designs, including Michael Kors, Wenlan Cia and Tom Scott. The good thing about the designs featured in the mag this month is that they DO include larger sizes, not just designs for the skinny minnnies, so it's definitely worth checking out. I like these designs very much and am thinking of making one . . . or two . . . or maybe all of them. How big is my Ravelry queue getting these days?

Have a great weekend everyone. For me, it's Big Knits time. And I'm still trying to track down the jumbo needles.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Blessed Day AT HOME

"Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again,

It's so far and out of sight.

Snow is cold

Rain is wet

Chills my bone right to the marrow." Carole King

One of my favorite albums of all time - Carole King's Tapestry album and in particular, her song "Home Again" rings through my mind today. I've been listening to it a lot lately for comfort, or maybe trying to draw a part of my long ago (teenage) self back into existence so that I can better understand my own teenage daughter, who knows! But that sense of quiet desolation and chill is filling me right now, and I'm knitting like mad to try to warm myself, inside and out.

We haven't had a SEVERE winter (nothing at all compared to LynnH and Kim's Michigan winter this year!!!) but it seems to be dragging on forever. We haven't had extreme snow or ice here this year, but we've had just an enduring cold/damp chill in the air, and biting winds. So even on a sunny day, like today is supposed to be, the air is just COLD and it feels too cold to do anything at all outside.

In fact, for the past two weeks, I have felt "chilled to the bone." Today I'm staying home from work for an extra day off (Yay!!!) and guess what? I'm not going anywhere. It's HOME day.

I can't remember the last time I just had a day to stay home, get warm, mess around and not do anything. Well, maybe the dishes and laundry, but that's it. I swear. I'm hunkering down and being a total homebody today. It sounds just like what my soul needs to revive. I'm knitting, reading, taking a long relaxing bath with a face mask. I'm treating myself to a total hedonistic day of relaxation in my favorite place, HOME.

Today I'm knocking on my own door, and that seems like the best place to be and the best person to see.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm Not Religious, But I Believe in Prayer

I've always been a little bit DIFFERENT spiritually speaking, a bit eclectic you might say. Born and raised as a member of the RLDS church, then embracing metaphysics, meditation, agnosticism, later Unity, and sojourns Zen Buddhism and eventually converting to Judaism, but then not really adhering to ANY of those schools of thought. In short, I'm a spiritual hodge-podge and tend to make things up as I go along, believing what I believe.

But at any rate, I do pray (in my own way), meditate, think good thoughts for people, the leaders, and the world in general.

And when they discussed the power of Prayer Shawls at The Studio retreat a few weeks ago, I became inspired because I've been wanting to do some charity knitting and this seemed to interest me more than any other project I've heard about in a long time.

It's good that I can give to an organization such as House of Menuha which is where The Studio prayer group's shawls are being donated. Women who receive these are usually at some crossroads in their life and can use a bit of spiritual shoring up.

After a Prayer Shawl Meeting with Deb, who coordinates The Studio's Prayer Shawl Group, I decided to set to work on one. Following the general guidelines: fast, easy, acryllic or washable yarn, size 13 needles.

I used the Easy Triangle shawl, a free pattern on the Lion Brand website. It's so easy and fast, it's amazing. I knit this whole thing up in just over a week and hardly spent much knitting time on it at all. It uses size 13 needles, and I used Deborah Norville's new Chunky line of soft acryllic yarn approprately called the "Serenity" line. Colorway: Chocolate and it took only 4 skeins, costing me $2.99 X 4 - about $12 for the whole thing. The finished shawl is a roomy 65" X 31". This yarn is amazingly soft and best of all, it's beautiful and washable. She has several gorgeous colorways to choose from.

Not being a particularly GOOD prayer, and being kind of fast and scattered by nature, I tried to get in a peaceful frame of mind when I worked on this project. It actually made me feel good myself. So making things for others has an added benefit in making me feel better, not only by giving but just the process itself. Very gratifying!

Another kind of neat thing I did was have several people who ARE good prayers and who I consider to be really good spiritual people to touch the shawl in progress and to say some prayers over it for the recipient.

So I already have started doing some charity knitting, and I'd like to do a lot more of it this year.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sweet Valentine

Well I had a rather busy but wonderful Valentine's Day weekend. I didn't realize how much more FUN Valentine's Day can be when you have a whole weekend to celebrate it, instead of it being crammed into a busy work week as it normally happens.

Anyway, I came home from work Friday night to find this lovely bouquet on the table and a sweet note from my husband. Then we went out to a crowded but delicious dinner at Outback. Saturday we spent the morning looking for vanities for a bathroom remodel we hope to eventually do - my husband will do the work himself. He's handy that way.

I spent Saturday afternoon with the knitting group, something I haven't been able to do in recent weeks. A day of "no overtime" is a blessed one in my book!

Saturday evening we went to Paradise Playhouse - a fun little dinner theatre that is in Excelsior Springs. We've gone there for years, since 2000 when they first opened. The cost of going to this out-of-the-way theatre is only about half of what it costs to go to an upscale one here in town. Since I rarely dress up anymore, there is something so romantic about dressing up and going out together.

Also, something funny happened at the beginning of the play. The curtains opened, we were watching the first scene where an actress placed a picture of her beloved film star up on the mantle of the fireplace. She was speaking about how she loved and admired this starlet and was so proud to have the picture there in a prominent place of her home. Another relative came by moments later and snatched the photo down, burying it in the closet and saying it was tacky and she wouldn't have it there.

Suddenly from the first row of the audience, a very conservative, mousy looking man shouts out, "There you go, honey, now you know how I felt when you took down my gun!" At first I thought it was part of the show, but no, it was just a fellow audience member upset over his wife's removal of his beloved rifle from over the mantle. Somehow, Bob and I started picturing that we we couldn't stop laughing. It hit other audience members in a similar way, and there was a wave of laughter temporarily disrupting the regularly scheduled play. It was a really cute moment.

I've been married a LONG time, and it is weird, funky moments like these that we will look back on and continue to laugh at years later. Those moments of "private jokes" are a treasure.

One last note about relationships, and particularly romantic ones. A man called into my favorite radio talk show the other day. The topic was relationships and how you stay happily married etc. An older man who'd been married forever said, "Just remember, there's no joy in being right."

I thought it very sage advice. So I leave you with, "There's no joy in being right."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Invincible Summer

One of my favorite quotes of all time:

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

When I was in Junior High School, I cut that quote out of a magazine, posted it on a piece of dark blue construction paper, along with a photo of a bright summer day. Every day, I struggle to find that invincible summer and try to grab on to at least a few strands of inner sunshine.

How about you? What makes you feel sunny inside?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Getting My Knit On

Whew! I'm back. Did ya miss me?

I had one of the most physically relaxing and creatively stimulating weekends that I've had in a long time. I decided not to take any classes, but just meet knitters, sit, knit, relax and talk to people. Get inspired. Boy, did I!

The setting (Elms Resort) became the perfect setting for a bunch of fiber obsessed women (and one brave knitter man). The market was great, the people were wonderful, and the projects - amazing.

The market featured da da da DAHHHH - Kay's Dome Hill Sock Yarn:

I mingled with old friends . . .

Met some fascinating and fun new friends . . .

Became empassioned to buy a "Trashy Bag purse" - besides being environmentally friendly, it's very cute . . . . now have a hankering for "taffy" yarn . . . and prayer shawl knitting is in my future, inspired by some very special people who have benefited from them, and whose lives have grown richer by making them for others.

Definitely a weekend to treasure.