Knits & Purls

Knitting as Meditation

Lately, when I wake up, I grab a cup of coffee and I sit down with my knitting.

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I don't check my email.

I don't look at the news.

I don't even refer to my plan for the day.

Or my to-do list.

I just sit and knit.

(I do feed the dogs first, though.  Because that's how we roll here.)

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I find that knitting in the morning is a perfect way to center myself and prepare for the day ahead.

Except when I'm knitting a complicated pattern (lace or tricky cables, for example, or anything involving a lot of counting), I find knitting to be a form of meditation.  The stitches on the needle are much like . . . rosary beads or mala beads . . . one after the other after the other.  Matched with my breathing.  Letting my mind quiet.  Calling for a peaceful heart.

(With the added bonus of watching a sweater emerge right under my fingertips.)

I am participating in Project Peace again this year, although I've decided not to cast on for the actual project this time.  Instead, I'm continuing with my current sweater project.  I am following along with the daily peace prompts -- but knitting my own project instead.  Someday I may knit the actual pattern for this year's Project Peace (I did purchase it) -- but not right now.

What AM I knitting?

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This sweater.  I'm much further along now than I was when I took this photo outside.  But it shows the actual color of my yarn - and the texture - much better.  Now that I've divided out the sleeves, the knitting is going much quicker.

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Maybe I'll have a new sweater before spring . . . 

Whatever the timing, I'm enjoying my morning knitting-as-meditation!

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See what other knitters are up to today over at Kat's!


Practicing Gratitude: Gifting with a Side of Poetry

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It's that time of year when knitters (and makers) everywhere get really serious about creating handmade gifts for people they care about.  

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(Yes.  That's a sock.  But don't get excited about it.  I finished it over a year ago, and haven't even cast on for its mate.  This post just needed a sock picture, so I dug it out of the drawer for just long enough to snap a photo.)  (It's back in the drawer now.)

I'm not knitting-for-Christmas this year, myself (although I do have one gift recipient who desperately needs a hat, so there is that), but I thought I would share this gratitude-related poem about receiving the gift of socks to inspire all of you gift-knitters and gift-makers out there.

Ode to My Socks
         by Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.

Nevertheless
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.

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Happy gift knitting, my friends.  And if you'd like to read other knitting tales today, hop on over to Kat's for Unraveled Wednesday.


Go Your Own Way

(Here's a soundtrack to accompany today's post.)

(Yeah.  I know you're already humming it.  But click and watch.  It's vintage Fleetwood Mac.  1977.  And it is kind of awesome.)

So.

Yes.

Arrows is finished.

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And I really, really love it!

First, I just loved the concept of the design when I first heard about it.  Woman Must Make Her Own Arrows.  Not a mystery . . . but an adventure!  Second, I loved digging through my yarn stash and choosing colors that would work together.  (I had this funny notion that I'd use up a lot of stash-yarn.  But, nope!  I still have PLENTY left. . . )  Seriously, I pondered the colors for a couple of weeks before I even started!  Next, I loved the knitting.  Pretty basic and simple (although you do need to count and keep track of rows) (a challenge all by itself, for me at least), but soothing and relaxing and always interesting.

But what I loved best was the deciding HOW, exactly, I wanted to make my own arrows!

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I loved the . . . unfolding.  The process.  The making-it-up-as-I-went-along.

It was powerful.

And creative.

Like I was the boss of my own knitting!

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Open up.
Everything's waiting for you.

Go your own way!

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Click here for Ravelry details.

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I want to thank all of you for weighing in and sharing your thoughts about my Border/Not Border decision.  In the end - as you can see - I opted for . . . Not Border.  After blocking, it just didn't seem to need one, structurally.  And the edges are naturally quite nice, thanks to a slipped stitch at the beginning of every row.  And - probably most importantly - I decided Not Border because the lines of the shawl are already very strong -- and a border would actually pull the focus from those already-strong, directional lines of the shawl itself.  

So.  Not Border.

And also Not Tassel. 

I did make some lovely beaded tassels.  They looked so cool and I thought I'd love them.  But I didn't.  It took only 5 minutes of wearing the shawl-with-tassels before I cut them off.  I guess I'm not a tassel person after all.  (Kind of like I'm not a pom-pom person. . .)

 


A Re-Raveling Tale

Several years ago, I knit a cardigan (this one) using Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.  It wasn't fancy.  Just a regular old throw-it-on kind of cardigan.  As in . . . throw-it-on over your pajamas when it's chilly in the house in the morning.  Or throw-it-on to go wander in the garden on a fall afternoon.  Or to walk the dogs.  You know.  That kind of cardigan.

But, while Shelter is a lovely yarn -- rustic, light, warm, comfortable -- it breaks easily.  And I had made the mistake of seaming with it.  When I went to throw-it-on last fall, I noticed several holes in the seams where the Shelter had just given out.

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So I did what I often do with mending projects:  I folded it up and stuck it on a chair in my guest room.

To fix.

Later.

(And let's just say there was no throwing-this-on last year at all.)  

As the weather started turning cooler last week, I decided I didn't want to go another season without this cardigan.  I broke down and got out my mending-tools.

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And set to work.

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And in less than 30 minutes . . . 

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we were back in business!

Let the throwing-it-on commence.

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(And just in time.  Because it is suddenly cardigan season.)

As for what I'm reading?  In print, I have Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland (my latest book group selection, and - surprise - I'm really enjoying it).  In my ears, I have The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish . . . and it is excellent!  It's quite long (almost 600 pages/24 hours), but well worth the investment of time.

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Today's post is part of Unraveled Wednesdays.  Head over to Kat's to see what everyone else has to say!


Ready-Aim-Fire: An Unraveled Post

I'm happily knitting away on my "arrows" project . . . 

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After a summer of knitting that included lace and mosaic and beads and all the attention and counting that kind of knitting entails, I'm just thrilled to be working on a projet that is free-form and open-ended and not restricted in any way at all.  (It's kind of like knitting dishcloths, but with much nicer yarn.)

I love just being able to follow a basic recipe . . . while just riffing with color and texture.  This kind of project is very forgiving.  If I don't like what I see, I can just . . . end it.  Try something else.  Grab a different color instead.  Throw in a garter ridge or two.  And if I make a mistake of some sort?  Well, I can just work it into the project and no one will ever be the wiser.

I also like creating such a colorful, bold accessory for myself.  Because I love looking at the bright and the wild . . . but I don't really like wearing it.  Unless it's an accessory!  So perfect, non?

Finally, though, I have always love the symbolism of arrows.  Movement.  Direction.  Strength.  Grace.  Power.  Give me an arrow anytime!

So, basically . . . this is just what I need to knit right now.

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As for the reading, I've just started Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (one of my favorite authors) (this one was on the Man Booker long list).  Over the weekend, I finished Autumn by Ali Smith (another of my favorite authors) (this one made the Man Booker short list).  I loved Autumn, although I'll readily admit that it won't be to many readers' tastes (so be warned if you like your books strong on plot with few holes by the end of the book) (just sayin').

How about you?  What are you knitting and reading?

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This post is part of Kat's Unraveled Wednesdays.  To read more knitting and reading posts, click here.


Back in Business

After a summer of rather uninspired knitting, I picked up my needles again last weekend. . .

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and started making arrows!

For many reasons, this seems to be the Perfect Knit for me right now.  Mainly, it allows me to wander.  Following a basic recipe, I can just dabble.  And do what I want.  With any colors; any stitch patterns.

It's wonderful.

And freeing.

And meditative.

(I'm also considering sweater patterns and doing a bit of swatching.  More on that another day.)

As for reading . . . well.  I'm suffering slogging through another of my book group's selections - Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden.  I know many people who consider this a beloved novel, but it's just . . . not me.  (Too long, too dramatic, too predictable.)  It's particularly sloggish right now when there are so many great books (books that I am so excited to read) being released this month!   Oh, well.  Only 3 hours left to listen (thank goodness for 2X narration speed. . . ).

How about YOU?  What are you knitting and reading?

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Today's post is part of Kat's Unraveled Wednesday.  Click here to read what other bloggers are knitting and reading.

 


Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

(Click here for today's soundtrack -- and a throwback video.)

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Way back in June, I cast on for Kirsten Kapur's 2017 Mystery Shawl . . .

a shawl with no name

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Knitting just hasn't been much of a priority for me this summer. This was the only project I worked on all summer,* finally finishing about a month ago -- and blocking just this week.

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain

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I kind of love it!  And . . . just in time, too.  Because it is suddenly feeling very fall-ish here.

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In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la la...

(Ravelry details here.)

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*  Except for that disaster-wedding-shawl.  But we're just going to let that one go.


Sometimes Mondays

Oh, man.  Sometimes Mondays look like . . . 

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letting go.

You can convince yourself that . . . it's just the laceweight.  (Because things always look wonky with laceweight.

But then it becomes all too obvious on the last row.  (That satisfying last row, y'know . . .  that really pulls everything together.)  
That there is Something Very Wrong.
Something you really should have caught (and done something about) 8 or 10 rows ago.

Because half-way through the final row, you can see that . . . everything is not pulling together anymore.

You apparently lost the plot.  Right there in the middle of a row.  8 or 10 rows back.
(Turns out it wasn't the laceweight.)

And so. . . it is not to be.
Not now.  Probably not ever.
Because you don't have the time.  
Or the energy.  
Or the mindset.  
To fix this.

I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere.

But I'm not going to find it now.

Sometimes Mondays . . . show you that letting go is the only way.
(And it's going to be just fine.)


No Regrets

I said I wasn't going to, but I did.

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Last Friday afternoon, I drove over to check out the Michigan Fiber Festival.

My strategy lately . . .  is to go on Friday afternoon.  The vendors are set up and ready, but the Fiber Festival isn't officially open.  (The workshops and competitive events are going on, though.)  It's perfect for me . . . no crowds, first pick of the yarn, nice time to chat with unhurried vendors, parking is a breeze, and you don't have to pay the entrance fee.  (The downside?  I miss the excitement of being with so many other knitters.  Plus ... the animals are just coming in and getting settled, so seeing them is not an option.)

I haven't been terribly inspired about my knitting lately, so I almost didn't go.  And god knows I don't need any yarn. . . 

But.

I bought yarn.  

I found some really lovely yarn that I am inspired to knit with.  So Win-Win!  (Just need to finish that beaded shawl for Erin first.)  

What I like best about going to the Fiber Festival is finding yarn-dyers and spinners that I'd never hear about otherwise.  This year, I found a spinner/dyer from Cincinnati who works with very unconventional fiber bases and creates absolutely beautiful color combinations.  (I nearly had a serious "falling down" in that booth.  I wanted every skein I touched -- and that doesn't happen much to me anymore.)  And another from Ohio that puts interesting and unexpected "bits" in her yarn (also some very unexpected color combinations).  I found a small Traverse City (Michigan) company that locally-sources every aspect of their yarn production:  local alpaca and sheep, local dyes, local everything.  Their colors are to die for -- and all inspired by Northern Michigan landmarks and Traverse City hot spots.  (Bought some of that, too.)  (I love their "farm-to-needles" approach.)

No pictures.  Sorry.  You'll just have to wait until I knit with it.

And knit with it I will!

I wasn't planning to go to the Fiber Festival this year . . . but I'm awfully glad I did.

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In eclipse news . . . we're busy putting together our old-school viewing boxes this morning.  And my dad scored a pair of official eclipse glasses.  Sadly, we probably won't be using any of our devices.  We're expecting heavy cloud-cover here . . . just around eclipse time.  Oh, well.  We can watch it live on the Internet here at the NASA live-coverage site.


No Time for Unraveling

My knitting has been very slow this summer.  A row here; a row there.  Some days, not even a stitch.

I finally finished this earlier this week . . . 

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That's Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Shawl 2017 -- in all its unblocked glory.  (I don't have a good place to block up north, and the well water is just kind of . . . well, smelly.  I will block when I get home.)  

And now, I'm working on this blob of lace weight . . .

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Because, really.  With less than 3 weeks until a wedding, shouldn't every mother-of-the-bride be working on a lace shawl with beads for her daughter?  (Like the title says, no time for unraveling.)

(If you hear maniacal laughter in the background, just smile and look away.)

Reading continues apace.  I may get a Bingo coverall after all, but it's hard to tell at this point.  Right now, I'm slogging through John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River (we'll just say . . . this one is NOT A Prayer for Owen Meany* - although it's every bit as long -  and leave it at that).  I've also just started Beartown (Fredrik Backman) -- which is, so far, everything you've already heard it is.  (Watch for a Bingo update post tomorrow for a more detailed look at my recent reading.)

How about you?  What are you knitting and reading today?

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Today's post is part of Kat's Unravled Wednesdays.  See what everyone else has to say here.

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* One of my top-5 favorite books Of All Time.