Preparing for the Games, Knitting-wise.

In a little less than two weeks, the winter Olympics will begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As a super fan of figure skating, this is an exciting thing, and as a knitter, I need to make preparations for plenty of knitting while watching the skating.

Ravelry has been sponsoring what has now become known as the Ravellenic Games (aka knitting olympics but don’t say that too loud or the USOC will come to take all your money). I’ve participated in every one of them, and have the pins to show it:

I not only know my quad lutzes from triple axels, I also know that finding inspiration is important for a short-term deadline project like this.

This time, I had trouble at first finding the group on Ravelry – totally weird – but now I have (Ravellenic Winter Games 2018) and am making plans. At first I was going to add in a pair of socks for a friend, but I have a business trip ahead of the games, so I think they will be the portable project that I can take with me. They are mens’ big socks, so they should hold me for the days I’ll be away.

The yarn will be fun:

It’s called Whose Sock from Purl’s Yarn Emporium in Asheville NC. The color is creatively called “eighth.”

But that is a digression, since they will be started before the games begin. It got me to thinking about a sweater I had started back in July – a shawl-collared sweater from Knitty called Wisteria.  At the time, this seemed perfect – I love shawl collars on sweaters, and the pattern was free I bought a bunch of Miss Babs Yowza yarn in the Franklin color way, and began:

And then it was put away, because July in Fresno is not the time to knit a big woolly thing. Since then, I’ve seen comments that there might be fit issues with the sweater, and then I realized I was basically re-knitting a version of my Dark and Stormy (seen here with the Custom Fit gals at Rhinebeck):

which is in perfectly good shape, so maybe I don’t need another one.

There’s a book on my knitting shelf called Top-Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Sweaters that I bought a while ago, and there’s a beautiful open cardigan called Copperplate – with a big traveling stitch pattern on the front bands, and lovely shaping. I checked yardage – yes, there’s enough! I checked gauge, and this is spooky – I have the exact gauge for the sweater!

The copying of the pattern is done. I have the directions for an even better way to do the top-down sleeves from Vera Sanon (check her stuff out – she’s great. She raises horses on a ranch and teaches in public school, so she’s not doing the expo circuit, but she’s every bit as good). The project is entered and tagged in Ravellenic games.

Now the waiting and anticipation begins!

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With the major gift-knitting season behind me, I’m feeling the gratification of knitting for those in my life who are “knitworthy” – which for me means one is appreciative of hand-knitted things.

This year, there were several appreciative responses to my knitting. I made dishcloths for all of the staff, and one of them came into my office, and he said, “You made this, didn’t you?!” Why yes I did.

Others provide responses without words. My cousin Allison immediately put on the cowl that I had knit for her. Another friend wore the shawl I made her to her father’s memorial service.

Sometimes friends respond with their own handmade gifts – some brave ones will knit for me (I can be intimidating with that, I know), others give me homemade jellies and jam, and this Christmas, a colleague gave me her homemade cards with special photos from her trips around the world.

Other times, it’s a small note that makes your day. Another friend, Curtiss, always sends me a note after getting his hand-knit pair of socks, which have become an annual Christmas present for him. Emails, etc. work as well, and of course, the actual photos are really appreciated. My friend Nhien sent this:

Here’s another example. My friends Wil and Aimee loved the hats I made them:


The striped hat is a basic beanie with some ribbing and a pom-pom. The one on the right is Koolhaas by Jared Flood – knit in Shelter from his yarn line Brooklyn Tweed.

When I visited them, we had a great time and they took me to visit local sites, like this;


[After we saw this, we took a horribly described walk that should have been flat walking for a couple of reasons: for me, my leg was giving me issues some after spraining my ankle a few weeks before, for their dog ET, who is blind and has a bad hip. Let’s just say it was a tragically funny  kind of experience. We now have a code phrase “it’s an easy walk.”]

Wil admired my hand knit socks, so we chatted about how wonderful handmade socks are (because they are amazing!). Will has worn his hat pretty much about every day (I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of that!), but he had mentioned that socks sounded pretty interesting to him, I sent him a gift note, saying that I could make him either a hat or socks, depending on what he wants. Aimee says that he’s all excited about thinking about the options. I await his response!

In the meantime, Aimee sent along a photo of her wearing the fingerless mittens (the pattern is Dendritic, a free pattern on Knitty):

See, this is how you remain knitworthy – it is a positive reinforcement kind of thing.

So, what kinds of responses have you appreciated when you gave something you made?

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What I knit in 2017

Ok, I’m back to the blog. In truth, while my last post said I was on knitting rest, I actually did start knitting small things for Christmas presents. Like these:

The Holidays went well, and as the new year started I had a bit of vacation attending the US National Figure Skating Championships – and I had fun with friends joining me and meeting some other highly dedicated fans from years past and made friends with fans who came from Japan (!).  My seats were right near the NBC broadcast booth with Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, and Johnny Weir among others. There was a fun exhibit with life-size standing posters of some of our highly talented skaters:

2017 in Review

Each year, I like to review my Ravelry notebook projects to figure out what I knit in the past year. Hint: this is easier to do when you tag each project with the year tag “2017”, and so on.

2016 was a relatively low yardage year: I knit 12,640 yards of yarn, and I’m happy to report this year that I’m closer to my average output at 15,020. Considering that I only knit one sweater with sleeves this year, that’s not bad. There weren’t many socks (only 3 pairs), partly because knitting for Afghans for Afghans is on hiatus, but overall gift knitting was high because of my knitting for Knitted Knockers, and dishcloths for friends and employees.

Socks –  3 pairs, two of which are shortie socks for bed for me, and a pair as a gift. I frankly wasn’t wearing them all that much in Fresno, so most of the sock knitting will be for others in the near future.

Shawls – 5, 2 for me, and 3 of them for others.

Hats – 8, a few as gifts for charity and a couple for friends

Knitted Knockers – 55! I have a bunch more that will be donated soon. Check out the Knitted Knockers website.

Dishcloths – 19, and my favorite one is probably the Eiffel Towel – which I gave away and now need to make one for me!

Sweaters – 2. Wow, only two this year, a shell using Colourmart yarn, and a cardigan that I really like!  I said last year I wanted to knit more sweaters, which I didn’t do, obviously, although I do have one on pause in the WIP bin.

Fingerless mittens – 2 pairs – one pair for my cousin and another pair for a gift

Miscellaneous – 1 scarf (to practice brioche knitting), a poncho from a knitting retreat project, and a prayer blanket for a sick family member.

There will be more to show shortly because there is a lovely thing I am making for a special family member, right now, I’m only doing to show a little bit:


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On Knitting Rest

I moved about a month ago, and in the middle of moving stuff around (as one does), I tweaked my elbow, and since then, it hasn’t gotten better. So in looking a reliable websites is one of my favs), I figured out that I have what is often called “tennis elbow” or elbow tendenitis.

The good news is that I didn’t injure my arm by knitting, but the truth is that I won’t heal unless I dramatically reduce my use of it, so stopping now is a better plan. So I’m stopping my knitting (and trying to reduce my keystrokes on the computer). Cue the sad face.

The good news is that I managed to knit most of the knitting gifts I really wanted to.


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Knitting Memories

There are many kinds of knitting memories. There are the knits you remember giving because you loved the person for whom you knit it. Like this sweater, long since felted by a careless caregiver for my mother: 

And then there are the knits that you knit with special yarn that you got from a special place. This yarn came from a trip to Black Mountain, North Carolina, and knit for an appreciative friend:

And then there are knits that will help you remember a special trip by the design itself. Last week I was reminded of my trip to Paris by a knit that appeared on the Mason-Dixon website (which you should totally check out), and had to knit immediately, it is called the Eiffel Towel.

That trip a year ago was a trip of a lifetime. It was a lot of fun, I got to see amazing sites, and eat incredible food. And one thing I didn’t know ahead of time was how close my hotel room would be to the Eiffel Tower, nor that it would flash and sparkle at night.

Now, it feels like a long time ago – I’m in a different city and at a different job. But I can see the memories in my head and now in my kitchen!

The Eiffel Tower from the River Seine


Monet’s Garden at Giverny



Gardens at Versailles

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New Locale, FOs

Last month, I moved from the Great Central Valley of California to Silicon Valley – to San Jose, to be specific.

I’d say I’m about 80 percent unpacked three weeks later, although I am hoping by Sunday that percentage is down signficantly. I’ve done 95 percent of the kitchen, office, bathrooms and master bedroom. The living room has a ways to go – in order to function, you don’t really need to get access to all of the cd/dvds/books and knickknacks, and apparently the cats do not consider this very important either:

I am serving a downtown church, San Jose First United Methodist Church, which is literally across from City Hall, which this week, due to the sad news in Las Vegas, has the flags at half-mast. The folks have welcomed me, and I’m about 80 percent unpacked in my office as well.

Along the way, I kept knitting, although for a few days, it stopped completely due to moving. Here’s what I’ve been working on.

First up, a prayer blanket for a family member facing a tough diagnosis:

It’s the Colorblock Bias Blanket with adjustments on the color part, and I’m planning on using pompoms instead of the tassels, due to the heavier weight of yarn. Funny anecdote: he thought I would not knit this fast enough to be of use – LOL! Seriously.

I also worked on a lovely lace shawl in a stunning blue yarn in Wollmeise. The color is called Blue Curacao.

It’s Ianthine by Hunter Hammersen, and I’ll be a little sad to give it away to a dear friend, but it will be appreciated! Project details here.

I also had some comfort knitting in a pair of socks for a Christmas gift:

And Brandy did a full feline inspection:

And then I used some leftovers to make bootie socks for myself. Yes, I could have matched the heels precisely, but that didn’t feel like much fun to me. What can I say, I enjoy quirky!


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Saying Goodbye and Hello

This past Sunday I said goodbye to the church where I’ve been the transitional pastor.

Twenty-six months of service.

Three beautiful stoles received.

Cards representing the connections we’ve made.

Goodbyes and hellos are a frequent part of my ministry – and while I learn how to do it better each time, it’s still having to say goodbye to people with whom I’ve walked through intense and sometimes painful events, people who have encouraged me when I was down, people I have grown to love and ways of being church that I will miss when I leave.

The Goodbye in the Hello

Coming to Fresno was an accident. I knew I was going to take that job in Southern Oregon but I thought I’d interview with the Fresnans and help them know more clearly what they were looking for. And as it happens with God, the surprise was that I was really taken with the Fresno folks in a way that led me to overlook the really hot summers and all the trash-talk I heard about Fresno – most of which wasn’t not true or decades out-dated.

The last twenty-six months had highs and lows, but on average, looking back, it evened out to above-average. I grew as a pastor out of the down times, and I hope that my ministry helped this congregation, the saints at University Presbyterian Church, to walk through a time of hurt onto a road of grace.

One story: a member of the Fresno church, serving on the council, was not happy about me being the transitional pastor in my first months there. It seemed that everything that I did upset her (not intentionally). She was on the list for an organ transplant, and we all celebrated with her when she got the new organ. Yet only a few weeks later, she took a turn and died quite suddenly. It was heartbreaking.

Only afterwards did I learn from one of her dear friends that she had been secretly working on a quilt for me – as a way of saying sorry for her unwillingness to let me be me and not the pastor before. I was stunned. Even for a skilled quilter, even a small-sized quilt is the work of many hours. And it has  a cat theme. See?

The quilt is unfinished, because of course she was taken from us quickly. I will need to have a border applied, but in it are the memories of how grace comes in all forms.

Saying Hello

And where will I be going to next? The saints of San Jose First United Methodist Church – I am back to being a Methbyterian. It will be a good time – I already am impressed with their journey and willingness to walk into the future. On the personal side, it will be closer to friends and family in the Bay Area, and I’m grateful for that reduced distance. Oh, and the summers will be cooler.

Brandy says “whatever you say.”

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Out of the leftovers

I’ve been collecting a lot of fingering and sock yarns over the past couple of years. It’s probably about 2 pounds worth – all beautiful and lovely yarn, most of which, on its own, is not enough to complete a project.

So, over the past few months I’ve been examining different patterns to use up this yarn. There’s the sock yarn blanket, and the beekeeper’s quilt – aka, the hexipuff throw. But I really didn’t have the mojo to do something that big. One runner-up was Paula Emons-Fuessle’s Magic Cake Ruffle shawl – I still may make one!

Then I saw the Scrappy Bias Shawl,  which is a basic garter present shawl, with the idea of using up scraps, and I went through the big bag of scraps and got about 300 grams of scraps together, knowing I’d use somewhere between 170-200 grams. This is the pile:

Color choices

It’s mostly greens and blues, but I specifically included some other colors for pizzazz – yellows, gold, orange. When I took a color class at Stitches a couple of years ago, a couple of the lessons I learned were that the colors that catch your eye need to be in smaller proportion than the other colors – so I should use more of the mid-range colors than the hot or especially light or dark ones. The other tip was to put in a couple of very unexpected colors – colors that might not appear to go — and will add life to the scarf.

I also made the decision to use repetition along with the unexpected colors. I had a lot of the kelly-green color at the top, so I decided to use that more than once, along with some others, to give the shawl more coherence.

The blue stripe below shows an unexpected difference in the middle of the shawl, and the narrow stripes of orange give another pop.

Of what will we be makers?

When I was up at Zephyr Point, I did a message on knitting and ministry, and used the leftover pile as an example of how we often view folks in the congregation. But with a little help and seeing more deeply, things that seem useless and ready to throw away can actually turn into something beautiful:

There were audible gasps as I had been wearing the shawl, and took it off to show them how it had come about.

This is what makers do – we take ordinary things of the world, things that other people don’t see as valuable, and make them into a beautiful creation. It’s what God does too – people who think their life is over because of mistakes discover that a gracious God and communities who follow her find that out of the ashes, something new can happen.

This shawl I love because of how it came to be – it has a story. And these kinds of stories are worth sharing.

What stories does your knitting tell?

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Christmas in July (and August, and September…)

As long-term readers know, I am a pastor who is typically quite busy in the month of December, so I don’t try to pull a lot of last-minute gift knitting off – that way lies many tears and no sleep. Instead I begin thinking and planning my Christmas knitting in the summertime, when there is plenty of time and I’m not usually trying to get my own knitting done – especially this summer, in which the forecast as looked like this for the past four weeks:

Yes, that is about 6 weeks of weather that is constantly above 100 degrees. No, I do not like it. But this will probably be the last month I need to worry about (news next week on this!). On top of that, there’s the long-haired cat that doesn’t seem to get I’m not all that interested in her on top of me at this time of year:

That’s how I feel with her hot furry body on mine!

Planning time is going ok. I’ve got one project underway with stash knitting, and the yarn came for another one, and I went to the yarn store today for another knitting project, and bought yarn for one more. There’s a cowl, a shawl, and a pair of socks all ready to go, and a ponchette is kitted up if I get to that. That leaves a few projects yet to work out, but all will work itself out in the coming weeks (or not – that’s ok too). It feels good to have some projects ready to go, because I got to the point where I didn’t have much on the needles.

What is your knitting looking like at this time of year?

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Go Forth (and Fourth!)

Having finished all my knitting projects that are active, including some Knitted Knockers for a total of 23 that I need to submit:

Today was the day to figure out the 2nd half of my knitting year, just a start of course. I’m shawled out (for myself), and while there are a couple of repairs to do, I really needed to figure out something for me, and also it came to me – Christmas is coming. Yikes! Now, let’s be clear, I only knit for Christmas way ahead of time because I am a pastor and doing the last-minute knitting does not work for this lifestyle. The most recent Knitty just got published, and I have a couple of ideas from that.

First up will be the Scrappy Bias Shawl by Emily Clawson.

I have a very large bag of sock/fingerweight leftovers, so that this is a no-cost project. This is about 300 grams of yarn, plenty for the project.

Plus the pattern is free. Even though I need to switch colors, I think it can be a traveling knitting project.

The lovely Martina Behm has a free Ravelry pattern for a cowl that will work for a lovely warm and light cowl. Check out Wolkig in the First Fall Knitty issue. I’m going to use this yarn, which should have some drape with it:

Knitty also published a sweater pattern that is almost perfect for me, Wisteria, a cardigan with a shawl collar and set-in sleeves, along with some small cables for interest. Showing absolutely no self-control, I immediately bought some Miss Babs Yowza yarn for the project, and that will be my “big” project for the next while.

So, the second half of 2017 knitting has begun. In these hot days, what is holding your knitting interest?

Have a great fourth, everyone!

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