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So I knit. And I think about knitting. I think about those who knit before me. The lore of knitting and the lure of knitting. It is all about how I knit in my life and what knitting means to me.

Sunday
Jun242007

What to Knit?

So, I have recently taken a small break from knitting. Not intentionally or because I am fed up with not finishing things. It is just because I am not sure what I next want to start. Also, I think my hands are tired. They need a small break from knitting to miss it so that when I go back it will be all the more exciting.

I can feel the lure of the yarn and needles pulling me back in.

I have promised George that I will make his "soft blanket" larger, since he grew out of it. He can still fit wrapped up like a burrito, but really, his feet poke out and who wants that on a cold winter night? Initially, I was concerned that he wouldn't want me taking away Softie to add to it. Then I realized, I can just knit Softie II and sew them together. George still isn't sure how that is going to work, but he has agreed to the plan. But The Softie Expansion is not what is calling me.

I need to decide upon a project that I can take on vacation with me to Greece. There are several key points to consider: First, it must be a manageable size. I cannot be overwhelmed with a giant project while on a plane when baggage space it so limited (on a side note, isn't it lovely that I think I am going to knit during an eight hour plane ride to Greece with my three children in tow).  Second, it must be a large enough project to last the entirety of my trip. No quickies here. The last thing I want is to bring yarn for more than one project. No thank you. Third, it must be simple enough that I not require assistance from the women at Arcadia Knitting or the Knitting Workshop. Let me be perfectly frank here: I do not speak Greek, so seeking advice while in Greece, well, obviously, its all Greek to me.

Somewhere my project exists.  I am just not sure what it is. I need to take stock of my massive amounts of yarn and the patterns I have collected and decide where I most being pulled. What is that one thing that needs me the most right now? Where will my heart be content -- at least for sixteen days and two plane rides?

Where am I going? 

Monday
May072007

Back From the Dead

My list of knitting carnage has been reduced...by one. Hey, its a start.IMG_7125_edited.JPG

Lovely little Tigger, the guy who was stuffed into a plastic bag (perhaps to never see the light of day), has indeed been completed. And now rather than being stuffed into something, he has had stuff stuffed into him. He is done. 

Thank goodness. He was really starting to feel like a huge monkey on my back, which I haven't even started knitting yet. George loves him. At least for now. I think he wants him to be some sort of rough and tumble tiger, which, I don't think that he is. He doesn't even have eyes right now, and truth be told, he looks more like a mole than a tiger. I'm not really sure eyes are going to help him out. His tail is nice and strong, but other than that, he is kind of floppy.

Not too long after George took possession, he told me he would have rather had a butterfly. I don't want to make him seem ungrateful. He was very happy that I made something for him, it's just that a butterfly is his favorite animal. He was a butterfly for Halloween and he has a lovely butterfly umbrella. He really wants the matching boots for his birthday. A tiger just doesn't fit in with his current mood. 

IMG_7127_edited.JPGThe curlicue blanket, which never reached carnage status, has also been completed. It is almost as beautiful as I thought it would be and Evangeline Kay really seems to like it. She has tried to bring it downstairs a couple of times, but other than that, she likes to hide under it.  The blanket is so soft and all the kids love to sit on it.

George was so excited to see it complete that he wanted to present it to her. He folded it up quite nicely, much nicer than I thought he would have been able to do, and then wrapped another blanket on top of it. He and Alexander beckoned her into her bedroom and were positively giddy with anticipation. I think she may have known what the surprise was and that she was feigning excitement. She was a good sport at least.

The thing that gets me is that the blanket is her. It is a pattern I bought before she was born, and is made of yarn that was not my original choice. I had something entirely different picked out for this blanket. Something a little less practical but that I once thought would have made the blanket so much more beautiful. But one day, when I was at the yarn shop helping my mother pick out something for her project, I walked past this yarn and it caught my eye. I asked for all they had - 20 skeins in all (don't judge me, they totally could have discontinued it). 

That yellow, it captured me and completely took me in. There was something so perfect about this yarn and that blanket. I buy a lot of yarn (see entry number one), but most of the time when I buy yarn, I have no idea what I am going to do with it. There was nothing else to do with this yarn. I was meant to make this blanket  for my daughter. Evangeline Kay was meant to  have this lemon yellow hug from me as she drifts off to sleep every night.

I did put so much love into this blanket. My fingers touched every single inch of the yarn. Out of a thin piece of cotton, I created something warm, soft and comforting. I hope she knows or feels how much I loved making this blanket for her. And I hope she knows I have put my love for her into this blanket and that she can feel my love through the blanket.

Someone once told me that knitting was nothing more than pulling a loop through a loop. Technically, she was correct. But there is so much more than loops to my knitting.

Wednesday
May022007

Sigh Of Relief

The blanket has been completed. Evangeline Kay wraps herself in it on a nightly basis. And, happily, Tigger is on his way to being fully stuffed. I am still not sure if I have it in me to get to dear little Zebby. Perhaps Alexander's zebra love will soon pass. Three year olds are quite fickle little beings, aren't they?

There is such relief in completing a project. When I am working on something, it always takes me longer than it seems like it should. Perhaps that is a byproduct of living in a rushed environment. It isn't just that it takes longer than I believe it should, it is the fact that I actually take the time to calculate how long it should take.

The blanket is a perfect example. I calculated that it would take me about two days to complete each section. There are 15 sections, therefore, it should be done in 30 days. Seems simple enough. But somehow my calculations don't take into consideration 1) my desire to knit for a specified length of time on any given day, 2) the time available to knit on any given day and, 3) the time wasted in calculating how long it would take me to complete the project.

Why do I put such pressure on myself? Knitting is for me, and I am sure for so many others, my escape. It is my relaxation and time for me to not think. It also often provides me with a challenge, since knitting isn't always as simple as knit and purl. But what is it that I cannot escape my own pressure? I cannot simply relax and think of nothing. Why does knitting have to have a goal (other than to simply complete the project) in order for me to take to it? 

Each project, in some way, becomes a burden. In truth, I often become bored with what I am knitting, and cannot wait to be done with it. That is when I seek other projects. Sometimes I believe my knitting ambitions are too lofty. I want to make the most beautiful sweater -- which requires way more skill than I currently posses.


When I  first started knitting, I was in love with cabling. I loved how I could make a simple scarf so unique just by pulling the stitches out of the way and then moving them right back into place. Everything I made had a cable in it. Then, out of nowhere, it happened. I got bored with cables.

I moved on - to laces (one shawl), then sweaters (three for my children and the aforementioned sweater carnage), poncho (completed, but I think the fad is over).

But where do I shine in knitting?

Blankets. Not little rinky-dinky crib blankets that babies use. No. Big ones. Ones that grown-ups and kids can use. Ones that my kids can use when they are grown-up. I know it seems strange. A project so large. It takes so much time. I made Alexander a mitred square blanket that was meant to be small and easy to carry around. It turned into a giant of a thing. So heavy under its own weight that I had to have a back sewn onto to it so that it wouldn't just stretch away. And even though it didn't start out as anything other than a little blanket, and even though I calculated how long each square would take me to make (about an hour), and even though I was ready to be done with the thing at the end, I was so excited the whole time to have something that I knew my son would never outgrow. Something that I knew would keep him warm and wrap him, literally, in my love, every night of his life - or at least until he moves out of my home.

So after all that, I know that the reason I don't finish other things and have so much carnage, is that I have put my heart into blankets. Everything else, well, that is just fluff. Something I do until I get the itch to start another blanket.  

Poor Zebby. He may never know love. Maybe I'll knit him a blanket. 

Wednesday
Apr182007

The Carnage of My Knitting

I am sure we all have it. But I think I may have slightly more than the average person. Or at least it feels this way. The unfinished project basket. I call it my knitting carnage. Those things that have died due to lack of completion. I can't get rid of them. But there they sit, in some sort of container waiting to be completed. Waiting to be enjoyed. Some need to be knit up, perhaps a sleeve or a collar. Others merely need to be sewn together. It is sad really.

IMG_7008.JPGLet me first start with the sweater project. So simple really. The Sweater Scarf from Blue Sky Alpacas knit in Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky Hand Dye yarn. So soft and wonderful for the cold winter days in Chicago. And with the scarf built right in, it was supposed to save me a step in the morning as I made the mad dash to my son's school.

It was so quick to knit up. Just a few days after my kids went to bed. A couple of hours here and there. And before I even expected it, all the pieces were knit up. I  sewed the front to the back. I decided I would try it on and when I did, was so pleased to see that it looked just like it was supposed to.  I thought about adding a little something to the bottom of it to lengthen it out, but otherwise it was great.

And then it was time to sew on the sleeves. I must admit, I was nervous to be sewing up these sleeves, but I looked in my numerous knitting guides and decided upon what seemed like the best technique. A backstitch. Strong and sturdy. Perfect for a stressed seam like the shoulder.  But something happened when I started to sew the first sleeve on.

The seam was just too bulky for me. I knew it would be uncomfortable to wear, and well, it was March (of 2006)after all and sweater season was almost over. I probably wouldn't wear it until next year anyhow. I'd just put it in the basket in my closet for a few days until I finished some other project I was working on and take it right to the yarn shop for some great advice on sewing un-bulky seams.

Obviously, sweater season has come and gone. There is sits like some dismembered, flat, pink half-person. With guts hanging out, no less.

Shall we move on to perhaps the more disturbing of my knitting carnage? That's right. It is a tiger. And a zebra.

Attacked in the wilds of Africa? No. Neglected.

The poor little tiger shoved into a zip-lock bag for crying out loud - fully zipped! There is no way he can breathe in there. This
IMG_7010.JPG Tigger, as it is called by RYC Classic Babies, is so cute when completed. But now he looks like some miniature rug skin used in Malibu Barbie's ramshackle house. He is sewn together down the back. And part of his little underbelly has been sewn on. Just waiting for the rest of his tummy to be sewn on. Waiting for his little tiger ears and mouth to be put on. But for some reason, he was never completely sewn and stuffed. This was to be a Christmas gift for my son George.

Tigger is perhaps hibernating.  But there he is, just waiting so patiently to be sewn and stuffed so that he can be loved by my little George.

Does it get any more pathetic than that?

Yes. Yes it does.

IMG_7009.JPGMeet Zebbie. Zebbie was to be a Christmas gift for my son Alexander (do you see a pattern here?). Anyhow, through no fault of my own, there were several problems with Zebbie's pattern. Many, many hours of frustration. I even started him over -- twice. Once because I was sure I had made him wrong (I hadn't - the pattern was wrong), and a second time because my sister thought that the colors I was using didn't look very zebra-like. I switched to your traditional black-and-white zebra.

The uncompleted zebra is so sad because Alexander decided sometime in the summer of 2006, that a Zebra was to be his favorite animal. This was of particular importance because it was one of the few words he said clearly and frequently. He was a zebra for Halloween. He has zebra socks. He is essentially zebra boy. I really wanted him to have this zebra. I imagined him loving this  zebra  like there was no tomorrow. Telling stories to his children about how when he was two he loved Zebbie so much and slept with him every single night.Halloween 102.jpg

All was going as well as it was going to go with dear little Zebbie, until I saw in the pattern that I needed to knit four hooves. I can't really say why, but for some reason, this just pushed me over the edge. It seemed excessive. It seemed not right. I shoved Zebbie into my Lexie Barnes tote (needles and all) and put him right at the side of my bed. I figured he would sit there until I calmed down and got the urge to finish him up. That was October. The urge has still not hit me.

Maybe next Christmas. 

There is more knitting carnage out there. It is just stuffed in other places. There is a knit knitting bag that simply requires a handle be sewn onto it. The hat I made for a friend which needs to be re-knit because it didn't fit her. The blanket, full-sized, which I made for George using needles that were too large for the yarn and unfortunately, the blanket is now a strangulation hazard for the poor boy. It just needs to be re-knit. But with so many projects waiting on the back burners, when do I have time to get to them?

Maybe next Christmas. 

 

Saturday
Apr142007

The Lure of Yarn

So, here I am, creating a blog. What? I must admit, I am sort of embarrassed to be doing such a thing. I mean, who wants to read about knitting? And perhaps more importantly, who wants to read about my knitting? But, I think eventually you'll see that perhaps it is more that lure of the yarn that draws me in.

When I started knitting, I thought I'd make sure to always complete a project before starting another one. To only have one project on the sticks at a time. To only have the yarn for the single project I was working on. You get the gist, right? Well, it didn't take too long for me to become frantic about that beautiful yarn I saw. What if it fell off the face of the earth before I completed my current project and would never, ever be able to find something as wonderful. Of course, when you think about it like that, who wouldn't buy the yarn? You'd be crazy not to.

Well, that was only two and a half years ago and I have enough yarn to weave the world a blanket. Warm, comforting wool and alpaca for the frigid climates of northern Canada and all those wonderful Alaskan men. Soothing, cool cotton (my latest addiction) for those who live in more tropical climates. Cashmere for those who prefer something a little bit fancy. Angora for the fussy. Believe me, I have a blanket for you.

Currently, I am working on a blanket for my daughter, Evangeline Kay. It is a wonderful lemon yellow from Blue Sky Alpaca, cotton. A lovely pattern from Oat Couture, the  Curlicue Coverlet

Even though I am not nearly done with this project, already I am thinking about my next. I am getting anxious to be done with the blanket, and yet, feel guilt for not loving every moment of knitting this for my daughter. I mean, if I knit and am bored, or annoyed with the project, won't she be able to feel it when she wraps herself in it? Heaven forbid I knit while angry - she might feel smothered by the blanket. So, I try to always knit with love in my heart. Hoping that she'll feel all the love I put into the blanket.

Crazy, right? 

 

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