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 mayoclinic.org 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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FOs: Colorwash Scarf, and an Item of My Own Devising

Yesterday was a day of finishing some items that have been on the needles for a while – and it felt very good!

First-up: the Colorwash Scarf

This was a super simple pattern of basic lace with changing of yarns every couple of rows. It grows and grows, and midway through it I realized that I am drowning in beautiful shawls – so this should be a gift. One of my staff is always wearing shawls and oversize scarves, and she just graduated so viola! I made it bigger than the pattern because my staffer is tall, and short doesn’t work:

The colors worked really well! Project details here.

I also managed to finish the shell I had been working on – remember that I used some cheap cone yarn – linen and cotton – from Colourmart – that you have to wash either before or after you knit it.

In this case, I knit it with the oils in, and then threw into the washer in warm water. This pattern follows a version I did before and liked. All in all, it came out well – although I’d put in a small gusset at each of the underarms that I did for the first version, and didn’t for this one:

I wore it today – it’s a tad tighter than I want (but I need to drop some pounds, so that works out), but a great fiber choice for summer!

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