Begin again.

 


Here we are about 1/2 into the first month of 2017, and the knitting has gotten going pretty well. I’ve restarted the Sarah Lace Cardigan and have one sleeve to go:

I’ve finished a couple of hats that will be going to deserving friends.

The one on the left is a simple 3×1 ribbing, with a clover 2.5″ pompom in both of the yarns (Brooklyn Tweed shelter in Soot color way, the other is Cascades Alpaca L’ana del Oro in Teal (I think).  The other is a Koolhaas hat in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the Almanac color way. I knit the large size,  because the small is pretty small in this pattern. I had just enough yarn with one skein.

While helping out a friend of my cousin’s who knits over the holidays, Marie requested some fingerless gloves, and then took me to the local yarn store in Santa Rosa – now a multi-craftual store called Castaway Folk. Such a great strategic move, right? I found a lovely skein of Tosh Sock in the Shire color way, looked in my library of patterns on Ravelry, and found the lovely Beadless Fingerless Mitts by Marji LaFreniere in Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. I knit them without beads, as I think my cousin was planning to use these on walks, not indoors:

 

I think I’ll still have some sweater yearnings when I finish the cardigan, and now I’m reviewing stash to see what I’d like to knit. This sweater that I knit for Afghans for Afghans (with my own small cable design on the front) is still calling to me, and I have the yarn – Cascade Eco:

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What I knit in 2016

Lunna Voe Shawl pattern by Ysolda

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 “2016”, and so on. This past year, Ravelry tells me that I knit 12,640 yards of yarn, down from 17,340 yards in 2016, which is closer to my annual average. There was a self-described “knitting trough” in the middle part of the year. I think that is in part to knitting fewer sweaters and shawls this past year. I’m not one to make things a competition, so it is what it is. I did do a fair amount of both charity and gift knitting, and this year, I think I’d like to make myself some sweaters, including one that I restarted over the holidays.

Socks –  12 pairs, most of them as gifts.

Shawls – 5, a couple as presents, but 3 for me. This is down from 9 last year!

Hats – 5, mostly presents

Necklaces – 11 beaded ones, all gifts and charity knitting

Knitted Knockers – about 50, but I didn’t count. I have a bunch more that will be donated soon. Check out the Knitted Knockers website.

Sweaters – 2. Wow, only two this year, one for my cousin, and one for me. As noted above, this needs to be rectified in this coming year.

Fingerless mittens – 1

Miscellaneous – 1 pair boot toppers, 1 dishcloth, 1 cowl, a few kitty fish toys

The knitting for the new year is productive already – I’ll post in a  day or two what’s been worked on at Casa del Revknits!

 

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Christmas Knitting

I do like to knit for Christmas – because it is a way of showing concretely my love for friends and family. But I learned a long time ago that putting myself on a treadmill of knitting (which for some, spills over into the New Year), is no fun at all. A couple of these were not specifically for Christmas, but given in the season, so I think it counts!

So I usually begin by August – because then I’m having fun with the planning and the doing. This year, after I had made a lot of my plans, I heard from my cousin’s family that instead of all of us giving each other gifts, we were drawing names. This is an idea I can totally get behind, mind you, I am not opposed in the least, except that, you know, I had already made a lot of gifts. So I asked for an exemption and continued on.

Most them were smaller – socks, cowls, shawls, etc. And the bonus was they were all done in plenty of time for Christmas!

One piece of positive feedback was from the fiancé farmer – I had been wondering if he liked the hand knit socks, and the verdict was very positive, so I’ll keep knitting those – no matter whose name I get next year!

 

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Restart

I started a sweater last February, with the intention of having the opportunity to wear it in the Spring – but I got completely stalled when I realized that my stitches were off for the lace sweater on the back of it. For a while, I indulged myself in the illusion that I could figure out how to make the pattern work. But then, the day came when it became clear that it was not going well.

It sat in time-out for quite a while. Because this sweater is knit top-down, and in one piece, ripping some of the rows to find a place to pick it up again seemed daunting. Were there no other options?

There were – this is a sweater knit in lace yarn, and I have plenty, as in, almost enough to knit another one with shorter sleeves. So, I simply snipped the yarns, took off the WIP off the needles and saving the stitch markers, and it looked a little sad:

But the thing is, I was free – and freed – to restart from the beginning, without a single mistake put into the project. It relieved me of trying to fix the other mistakes, and allowed me to take the learning from those mistakes and apply them to the new attempt at the sweater.

This time, I marked the pattern more clearly, and have gotten through all the exciting and potentially crazy points in the pattern. Izzie is giving her approval:

 

And it makes me think: what else might I need to give myself permission to restart in my life? The turning of the year is a helpful marker and reminder that we don’t necessarily need to carry into our lives all our past mistakes.  God gives us grace when we screw up. We can let them go, and keep the learning with us for new things, and new adventures.

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Yarn Adventures

One of the fun things about coming to Fresno is the Sheeper Than Therapy knitting guild that I joined. These gals know their knitting and like to learn – a lot. Now they meet at the church I’m serving:

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and it’s even more convenient for me.

This past weekend we went to St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Three Rivers (just outside Sequoia National Park) for a weekend of fiber fun, wine, community sharing and delicious meals.

There was knitter swag waiting for in our rooms – notions, cute scissors, a project bag and a yarn container and so much more.


We had an outside teacher, the marvelous Michele Lee Bernstein (aka pdxknitterati) who flew in from Portland to join us.

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Michele worked really hard – she taught four classes over the three days – and hung out with us for the social times as well. She is a lot of fun! Her patterns are simple with a cool twist – so there is something to learn along the way.

First we worked on Log Cabin squares as our appetizer class. They looked pretty good all together!

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Then we were challenged by a class to make Braided Wristers with various incarnation of Latvian braids. I picked some pretty bright colors for mine, but so many were really interesting.

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Then we worked on a project of a poncho called the Tilt Shift Wrap (and one that shorter folks can wear!) with a cool stitch in the middle:

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And finally she taught us some basic photography lessons and a few apps that are helpful, including a Layout app for smartphones that I love:

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Michele’s patterns are definitely worth checking out, and check her her most recent adventure of meeting “The Boss” who actually called her “a dangerous woman”!

Saturday evening we did gift exchange game. I am always fretting about what to bring – is it enough? The right thing? Ack the worry of it all. Luckily, this time I brought something that was “stolen” so it there was at least one person who wanted it. I came away with some Wollmeise yarn and a few more notions (!):

Consider this foreshadowing, as I am off to Europe and will be in a city where there is a Wollmeise store! Woo-hoo!

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A Trip, A Wedding and an FO

Time to catch up on the happenings at Casa del Revknits. This is a post in three parts: The trip, the wedding, and an FO.


The Trip

In late August I had the fortune to travel to the hills of Western North Carolina to teach at an event there – and it was very green! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one’s point of view) for my fiber plans, the local yarn store was closed for the week as the owners were on vacation. Good thing I brought projects to work on!

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I was able to visit my friends Aimee and Will that I met through social about 7-8 years ago as the economy was collapsing and we started using this new platform called Twitter! They are renovated a house outside Asheville and I was their first guest – we ate takeout on the porch which has a killer view:

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Toward the end of the event, Hurricane Hermine was threatening and I took an early flight out of Charlotte to make it back in time for a family wedding.


The Wedding

Allison and Eben are delightful couple, and I happen to be related to the bride. They had a smallish wedding in the backyard of a restaurant – and it was charming, full of laughter and tears. I got to preside over the ceremony, and it was such an honor!

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The FO

All along the way on these trips and events, I had my knitting with me. The Fraxinus Cowl by Ysolda Teague is party of her @2016 Ysolda club, and it’s the first one that I just knit the way that she had designed. I loved the Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering yarn in a color way that shifts between green and gray depending on the light,

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and the pattern is fun too! All done and ready for gifting at Christmas.

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Nothing here is promised, not one day

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The title of this post comes from the playwright and actor Lin Manuel’s poem that he read to/about his wife and the shooting in Orlando when he accepted his Tony for Hamilton.

These words have rattled around my head constantly over the weekend. On Friday, I learned that a dear friend’s husband, Mike Oliver, has been diagnosed at age 56 with Parkinson’s disease. He wrote about this experience for the paper he works for. It’s good: you can read it here. The same day, I learned that a colleague that I had just taught with in North Carolina a week before, Ted Hickman,  a gentle giant with a heart of gold, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 51. He will leave behind a huge number of holes in the Presbyterian Church where he was the moderator of the New York City Presbytery and a lay pastor, and at New York University where he was a medical researcher.

I also did a memorial service Saturday – see the theme here people? Yeah, but it was great. Dorothy Sinclair lived a great life, she got married at the age of 70 to her second husband and found true love. Her whole family looked up to her and she was wise. She had a lot of years, but she used them very well.

As I mentioned to my friend Catherine about her husband’s diagnosis, “This isn’t the script that we would write for our lives.” Nobody wants a degenerative disease; dying at 51 is too soon. The same goes for all those lost on 9/11 15 years ago – lost due to evils beyond their individual lives. I know people who died in the attacks, as well as many, thank goodness, who escaped harm in both DC and New York. All were good people, working regular lives. It sucks.

We don’t get to fully write the script exactly the way we want to. But we do get to live as fully as we can in the one that God gives us.

So especially this weekend I am grateful – grateful to be alive, grateful for the ability to love, however imperfectly I do it, grateful for work that brings meaning, even when it’s hard, grateful to a God that I follow who brings to me grace and light for the journey ahead.

Here’s the end of the poem by Lin Manuel:

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day.

“This show is proof that history remembers

We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.

“We rise and fall and light from dying embers

Remembrances that hope and love lasts long

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love

Cannot be killed or swept aside,

I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story.

Now fill the world with Music, Love and Pride.

Next post, I’ll review the last trip I just took. It will be lighter, I promise.

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FO: Painted Windows Shawl

Back at Vogue Knitting Live! I bought exactly one skein of yarn by Yarn Love called Marie Antoinette. The colorway is called Unicorn Poop. For whatever reason, the bright colors with a bit of sparkle were what I needed:

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But figuring out how to use this yarn was a little harder. There is SO MUCH going on with this yarn that I wondered how I would use it. And then a pattern seemingly designed just for this Las-Vegas-inspired yarn popped up on Ravelry called Painted Windows. It uses a neutral base color with a brightly-multicolor yarn to maximum effect. So I went to one of the two local yarn stores here in Fresno and found a very neutral sock yarn to pair with it. I’m loving how it came out:

 

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I really like this one, and since I used less than 1/2 the Marie Antoinette skein in the shawl, I can give one away and make another!

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FO: Nesoi Tee

I’ve been in the summer knitting mode, and my major accomplishment has been a new tank top out of a lovely lace weight yarn by Anzula called Breeze – it’s a blend of cotton and silk. The pattern is Nesoi by Miriam Felton (rav link).

The pattern is pretty simple and has just a hair of shaping – and a draped neckline:


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It ended up a bit large, but wearable, and the color is quite good! Project notes here.

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An East Bay Yarn Crawl

A couple of months ago, some of my knitting buddies asked if I would organize a yarn crawl up to the Bay Area for them, since I know (some of the) yarn opportunities there. The answer was a hearty yes!

I immediately knew we had to trim down our area – the Bay Area stretches out quite a bit, so we focused on the East Bay as there are some great diverse places and it’s closest to the Valley. On a bright July Saturday we set out with wish lists and credit cards.

Our first stop was a new-to-me store called A Yarn Less Raveled. Mindy has created a lovely store!

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It’s no surprise that she and Sophie of the now-sadly-closed Bluebird Yarn & Fiber Craft are good friends. So many lovely things to admire, like this sample:

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We all dropped some change with store exclusives and lovely yarn just crying out to us.

Next stop was A Verb for Keeping Warm.

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I have known this store from its primitive beginnings in a very modest art studio set-up for natural dyeing fiber and yarn, and to see it now is pretty amazing. It is a combination dye studio, sewing store, knitting loft and even a tiny bit of spinning left. Unfortunately for knitters, the amount of space devoted to yarn and knitting has decreased. The store does carry yarns hard to find in the valley and generally: Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co, to name a couple, but everything feels squeezed. We looked more than we bought.

It was also time for lunch, and we had tasty things at the Actual Cafe just a couple of doors down from Verb. Yum!

Then we were off to the stop I was most anticipating – for all the years I lived in the Bay Area, I had never gone to Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Oakland.

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It’s really hard to describe this store, but safe to say that lace is a big deal here. Amazing lace insets, heirloom patterns for knitting lace tablecloths, doo-dads of all kinds. I went a little crazy here, buying a lot of things that I know I’ll use, but not when:

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Yes, I really did buy a book called What Would Jesus Craft? Wouldn’t you?

Our final stop of the day was one that I had heard about via the grapevine – a button store that has really limited hours, and we timed our visit perfectly. Exclusive Buttons in Albany is run by a senior lady who knows her buttons – and the crafters flock there. The signage is basic, the store tiny:

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We might have bought a lot of buttons of all kinds for future projects!

With that visit, we were done for the day – a variety of amazing vendors who value craft and curate lovely things for those of us dedicated to making things.

Postscript:

One of our group, Kera, might have forgotten to get all of her yarn out of the yarn acquisition vehicle when we dropped her off. The yarn when on a merry set of adventures, including a pool party and prayer time. I’m sure the yarn appreciated it!

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