In which I attempt something I’ve never done

This is the Christian season of Lent, or, as we church professionals like to say, “relentless” because although it is supposed to be a reflective season, when you are the church staff, it means there is more of everything.

Easter ends the season of Lent with a celebration of new life and there are lovely symbols of new life: eggs, and lilies and butterflies. And that brings me to my latest fiber challenge from our arts director at the church : create a butterfly in the fiber arts that can be installed on Easter Sunday. Gulp.

While I have knit all manner of things with many kinds of techniques, I’ve never done art installation kinds of things. The word “art” actually makes me a little nervous. My dad, Tony, was the artist:


but not me. My drawing skills are at the elementary school level, if that.

But back to the butterfly. Having been given this challenge, I started to put things into steps. For the butterfly to be big enough, it needs a superstructure – so our facilities manager, Daphne, found me some wire, and I roughed out a shape for the butterfly – just the wings at this point:


Next, I rummaged into my almost a yarn store’s worth of yarn modest stash and found a lot of colorful scraps of yarn:

along with some shiny things:



and I’m going to look at Pinterest to find some crochet and knitting techniques. I mean, really, this shouldn’t be that hard, right? Right?

Relentless indeed.

Project reports:

The autumn fusion shawl is now knitted and in blocking. I’m trying to decide whether to add I-cord edging in the contrast color. Izzie has opinions, apparently:



I also began and abandoned a baby blanket for our Knitting Guild’s contributions. The only reason I started it was because the charity committee gal urged me to, and then I went and bought acrylic yarn that I hate to knit with. I gave up partway into the first skein, and will give the yarn to a staff member at church. Just not my cup of tea at the moment!

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33 years

Warning: not much knitting content.

I am not a luddite. I own a Macbook laptop, iPad, iPod and an iPhone. I listen to podcasts, have Bluetooth, blah, blah, blah.

But around pieces of technology, I tend to be conservative – my cars and my TV. I’ve only bought two cars, and inherit one.

With TV, it’s even worse. When it comes to them,  I have been absolutely Neanderthal a little behind the times. At first it was because I really don’t care about TV all that much. I was fairly happy with what I had.

Then, as the options for TVs seemed to multiply, well, I just didn’t want to spend all that time to figure out what kind to get. Plasma this, HDMI inputs, the TVs got smart, while I still remained dumb, like my 1984 Hitachi solid state TV.

No, that’s not a typo. I own my first and only TV, and it is 33 years old. And it still works! The picture is just fine – those Japanese factories really knew how to build something to last. It’s been ok until finally I realized that I wasn’t seeing everything on the screen, and that my TV couldn’t get hooked up to Netflix and things like that.

It hasn’t hurt that at work we got a new TV for classes, and I realized that these smart TVs aren’t all that complicated to figure out. Then there was the kind elder on my church board who took pity on me and printed out a bunch of TV recommendations from Consumer Reports.

This weekend I did my taxes and I managed to get a good enough refund to easily decide that it was time. I went to the the Big Box store and had a great salesperson (Thanks, Carlos!) who thought the fact that I had a TV older than him was merely amusing. He didn’t oversell me anything, and even got the TV to my car.

O Brave New World! (This is a scene from The Crown – on Netflix – so beautiful in HD!)

Now I have to find the right table/stand for things, and move out the old bulky entertainment center.


The brioche scarf is done! Well, except for weaving in a couple of ends and mending the mistakes. I’m not sure whether I should block it – apparently that can make it really flatten out.

And the new yarn arrived, just in time! I don’t think I mentioned the name of the color way. The name comes from Downton Abbey – Lavinia Swire, who was a rather plain Jane and died in the flu epidemic after  World War I.

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Last summer, I helped to lead a yarn crawl over to the East Bay Area with some local knitter friends. We had a good day!

One of the projects that I saw on my trip was a beautiful shawl called Autumn Fusion.


and for a change, I wanted to knit exactly the same colors – I wanted to knit the store sample, just as it was. Just my colors, and perfect as a summer shawlette, it’s bright and fun! Ann, who was along on the crawl helped me take a photo of the shawl – and shows why her hand should be in the photo and not mine:


On the day of the crawl, I was able to snag the varigated yarn, Lunapurl yarn “Binary Star System” in a 75/25 blen of BFL wool and nylon, but the other yarn from Canon Hand Dyer was out.

For a time, I was thinking of making something else with this yarn – lot’s of folks have made cute socks, for example, but I never found anything that I wanted more than the shawl. Then, I tried to find something else to go with the Lunapurl yarn, and even bought some lovely Anzula yarn, but it didn’t really go.

So, this last week I went on the Canon Hand Dye Etsy site, and bought the yarn in the correct colorway. I was fearful it might take weeks to come, but yesterday I got the email saying it had shipped. I’m all ready to start!


Brioche Update:

The scarf continues apace. It’s getting boring to knit, by which I mean that I am making fewer mistakes, I don’t need the chart, and I can fix the mistakes that I am making. I’ve finished 7 repeats of the total of 10 that I plan for this – so I should be finished knitting this about the time that my yarn for the shawl comes!


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It Gets Worse, Then It Gets Better

The learning curve on the brioche stitch continues. I was cruising along, feeling like I had figured things out, and then I decided to count my stitches, and realized that a bunch of rows back, I had missed a double increase stitch. So I went ripping back. Then I knitted some more and discovered another big mistake, and ripped things back, although less this time. I knit some more, and then had to rip out two rows. Progress was a little slow last night.

So it goes. I’m realizing that I have to stop and look at things about every 4-8 rows to see if I’m on track, because my ability to transfer what the chart says to my needles and yarn is not so good.

But then things changed, for the better too! On this last repeat, I began to follow the pattern without checking the chart so much. I’m learning to read the knitting and understand the overall logic. Overall, I have about one mistake-I’m-not-going-to-fix per full repeat, and for this project that’s ok.

Lesson: it gets worse, and then it gets better.


Whew! Four repeats done, about 22″ long.

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Begin Imperfectly.

When we are beginners at something, we are going to make mistakes. There’s often a lot to learn at once, and we don’t do it so well. That’s ok. We can have the “beginner’s mind.” What you don’t know, you don’t know. You can mostly learn it, in time. In the meantime, begin imperfectly.

Some beginning knitters cannot handle their mistakes – they constantly rip out to make it perfect. I am so sad when that happens, and often I want to simply say – this first project is not something to keep – toss it out. Seriously, I do not have the first thing I knit. Mercifully (it was over 40 years ago), I do not remember.

Nope, I am beginning quite imperfectly, thank you very much. Now, mind you, I had done some brioche knitting before.  I made a few baby hats using the basic technique (super fun!). The pattern is Brioche Baby Hat (rav link)

But in these hats, the changing colors of the yarn were doing all the heavy lifting.

Here, I’m learning how to manage two colors with shaping and a new charting system. I decided to ramp up slowly. The first time through the stitch pattern (24 double rows), I followed the line-by-line instructions – which I rarely do these days because I’m pretty good at reading charts now. But there are new symbols that to me didn’t feel obvious, so line-by-line I went.

Once I was confident that I understood how the stitches worked and interacted in that first full repeat, I marked up  (with different colors of highlighters) the chart I had enlarged to make it easier to find the information that would keep me on track:

and highlighter tape, don’t forget that!

My little sample will be a short scarf with some lovely yarn I got at A Verb for Keeping Warm – in two colors of a Fibershed one-of-a-kind yarn with wool, alpaca and mohair. The colors, a neutral and a green, are  not that different from each other. Here’s where I am now:

If you look closely, you’ll notice this is not a perfect knit:

— Those two little green lines toward the bottom of the knitting – they are yarnovers that came to the front instead of the back by mistake. On the back you can see the other problems.

–Those locking stitch markers are holding together stitches that will otherwise unravel. But they can be “fixed” to hold together, and since I’m a farsighted girl, the fact that these colors don’t have a lot of contrast turned out to be a good decision

— Other minor issues are that I messed up one part of the repeat on the same side – twice

But do I care? No, the answer is that I am perfectly willing to be imperfect with this project. I am shouting out loud to everyone – I am messing this up, yo! Because the truth is that in trying to be perfect I would be slowing down my learning. I am making all the mistakes there are to be made, so that I can learn how to do it better on the next, more perfect  project.

Oh, and I can read my charts now – win!

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A Knitting Challenge

The theme for our Sheeper Than Therapy knitting guild in 2017 is Challenge. Each month we are working to build a new for many of us, so that by the end of the year we will be stronger knitters.

I’ve decided to take on a knitting challenge for myself now: two-color brioche knitting with lot’s of shapes:

I’ve got all the supplies: the book, the knitted chart blown up on my copier, and hand-dyed yarn from my fall trip to France:

It turns out that the charts consist of almost completely new-to-me symbols for the brioche stitches! So that is going to be interesting.

My thought is to do this more simple chart in some yarn to get the hang of the stitches, and then move onto the big project.


I finished a couple of more hats for the Operation Gratitude project that the guild is working on (yet to be washed). We’ve already got more than 20 hats done. We hope to have anywhere from 200-500 hats completed by the end of the year.

I also finished a bunch more Knitted Knockers, ready to take to the yarn shop:

Finally , a photo of the Tilt Shift Wrap (Ravelry project page):


Many thanks to Ann B, who took it for me at our guild meeting on Saturday.


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FO: Tilt Shift Wrap

Since I last wrote, I’ve been to North Carolina and back – and even got to see the Super Bowl this year – because I went out and visited my friends Aimee and Will who’ve bought and renovated a house just outside Asheville. I delivered the two hats that I knit for them, with the promise of a photo with them wearing them. Even though they were still moving in, the guest room was all set up for me:

And I got to wear my new Sara Lace Cardigan some, which was nice, and there was plenty of time to knit and I made great progress on a poncho project from my knitting guild retreat called the Tilt Shift Wrap. It’s a fun stitch pattern with some elongated stitches, and it’s basically a big rectangle that you sew up some to make attractive diagonal lines that make it better than a usual big poncho. Here’s the final photo – I hope to get one with me wearing it soon!

I also decided to make an activist hat – I’ll be honest and say that the pussy hats  were not my cup of tea, even though I agreed with all the issues at stake. However, Donna Druchunas just came out with an e-book called Knitting as a Political Act, and there was a color chart for a hat saying Knit the Resistance. And I had some amazing yarn that my lovely roommate Martina bought for me in Paris – called Lil Weasel – a DK weight bouncy merino – so lovely. I made some modifications, and I really like how it came out:

If you’d like to get connected, you can join the Ravelry group Fans of Donna Druchunas and join the discussion in the thread “Knitting as a Political Act.”

And now I’m onto a few Knitted Knockers (apparently there was a Dear Abby column about them, and all the chapters are getting a lot of requests), and hats for a couple of more charities, including Operation Thank You  which go to our military folks and their families, as well as an amazing Double-Helix stitch-patterned hat for the Science March in Washington, DC in April. More on those soon!

Tomorrow I head up into the lower Sierra Mountains – we are getting a lot of rain, and the ground is saturated, so I hope I get up there ok! Hopefully it won’t look like this when I went up a month ago:


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FO: Sara Lace Cardigan

If you check my Ravelry project page for this sweater, it says that this cardigan took me over 11 months from start to finish. Which is true because I frankly did start it last February, but then it sat when I realized I had messed up the lace chart. I finally came to terms with the fact that I need to snip the old project and start over, which I think I did either December 27 or 28, so I really knit the sweater in less than one month.

I love the color (you’ll see below I did complete the other sleeve):

and it looks pretty good on me too:


The total yardage for the sweater is about 1,300 yards, and that’s with doubling the yarn for the neck/front bands and the wristbands.

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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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