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Yarn Along: Can’t Go Wrong with JK and MJ 8

I’m joining in for another week of the Yarn Along with detective fiction by J.K. Rowling (a.k.a. Robert Galbraith) and a stranded hat by Mary Jane Mucklestone.

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first of J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels, the series she writes under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym. I was in the mood for something especially readable and engaging, and since this had been on my list for awhile, I thought I’d give it a try.  It’s definitely fitting the bill. There are tons of reviews online if you haven’t read it and are interested, so I’ll just say that at a hundred pages in, I’ve already got a soft spot in my heart for Cormoran Strike and his trusty assistant, Robin Ellacott.

The hat is Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Weston Beanie. It’s like a drug, absolutely hypnotic knitting. What else can I say?

Be sure to stop by Ginny Sheller’s Small Things blog for links to what lots of other people are knitting and reading this week.

Synchronicity 2

 

If you haven’t read Kate Davies’ blog post today, I highly recommend it. The whole post is excellent, as always, but one detail blew me away. Kate is interviewing Mary Jane Mucklestone, and she asks if MJM has a favorite piece of historic Fair Isle knitting. MJM goes on to describe a fair isle sweater that a soldier named Ralph Paterson was wearing when he was taken prisoner in Hong Kong during World War 2. It had been knitted for him by his wife, and he wore it for the entire five years of his captivity.

There’s a photograph of the sweater in the blog post. And if you become obsessed like I have, you’ll be happy to know that Susan Crawford apparently spends a lot of time on it in her forthcoming Vintage Shetland Project. Aaaand there are good number of additional pictures of the sweater on Tom of Holland’s blog here.

I titled this post “Synchronicity” because I spent quite a bit of last night watching a documentary on what the slow declassification of military documents from WW2 has revealed about the almost certainly avoidable bombing of Pear Harbor. We’re coming into a strange kind of omniscience relative to that time, and the knowledge is frightening. It was a comfort to me this morning to read about Ralph Paterson’s sweater.

The picture at the top of the post is one I took in response to Dana’s #widn tag on Instagram last night. Knitting and snuggling was clearly the thing to do. 🙂

 

 

The Yarn Along 6

 

Do you know about the Yarn Along? It’s a project started by Ginny Sheller, creator of the blog Small Things, and it speaks to the fact that many devoted knitters are also passionate readers. I’m not sure how to account for this, but my own experience bears it out.

And it’s not just that we love to knit and we love to read. It’s that we love the idea of knitting and books together! There’s something about a photo of a work in progress next to a book someone’s in the middle of that absolutely warms my soul.*

Whatever the reason, it’s a wonderful thing, and a visit to the Small Things blog on any given Wednesday serves up a whole lot of wonderful. It takes you to Ginny’s own picture of what she’s knitting and reading and to links for what lots of other people are knitting and reading as well. On November 16, there were 83 links to book and knitting photos.

Until now, I’ve enjoyed the Yarn Along without actually participating, but I’ve decided to join in the fun. So here’s my first Yarn Along photo.

 

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You won’t be surprised to see my zigzag blanket. I’m just about halfway at this point and still loving every second of all of this color. The book I’m reading, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, looks at the philosophy of yoga alongside the insights of Western psychology. It’s fascinating, definitely one of the most interesting things I’ve read in a long time. Both the blanket knitting and the book have been helping keep me hopeful and grounded lately.

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing everyone a peaceful Thanksgiving doing at least a little of whatever it is you love to do.

 

*I wonder if it might have something to do with mirror neurons.

Junebug Farms Yarn 18

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If you’ve read even a little bit of my blog, you know about my friend Cari. We met online back when Paul and I were planning our move to Tennessee. I had questions about chickens, so of course I turned to Ravelry. I searched for someone in NE Tennessee who’d posted about chickens, found Cari’s blog, and the rest is some of my happiest history ever.

Over the years that Cari and I have been friends, Cari’s fiber genius has exploded. She knits, spins, crochets, dyes like a crazy color savant, and along with her hubby, Jay, has started a small fiber farm. With goats!

Here’s a picture of Cari and Jay that ran in the local paper.

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They started out with two female angora goats and early this year added two boys. This is when they were bringing the boys home in their car!

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It’s all been big fun to be part of and watch develop. And now! Oh, my gosh! The yarn!!!

This Spring, Junebug Farms got their first batch of processed fiber back from the mill. It is crazy gorgeous. Cari gave me a skein of the natural color that I’ve been saving instead of knitting with (I know, I know), and then she started turning out these glorious colors. I had to jump in.

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I’ve had the Fetching pattern in my queue for ages. It seemed good for trying out a new yarn since, with a little cabling, some stockinette, and a picot edge, I’d get to see how it behaved with a number of different techniques.

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So I can’t figure out how to photograph the squish (which is OUTRAGEOUS), but hopefully the photos at least show how beautifully the yarn knits up. The stitch definition in the cabled areas is nice and crisp, yet there’s still this lovely bit of mohair haze that just kills me.

I couldn’t stop with the mitts. I mean it. I just had to keep going. So I came up with a matching hat.

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This hat and these mitts make me so happy! I’d love them even if the yarn weren’t from Cari and Jay’s precious goats and dyed by Cari herself, but those things make them extra super special.

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I knit the first mitt the night the Cubs won the World Series (!!!!), and I’ve been wearing them ever since,  even though this is the most un-winterlike November I can remember. Now, all I can think about is what I want to make next with Junebug Farms yarn!

Checks & Balances 13

Talking sweaters today, not government.*

Paul’s Checks & Balances sweater is off the needles!

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I wrote about the Good Fibrations yarn I used for this in an earlier post, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Knitting with it made me think back to one of the first sweaters I ever made.

That sweater was a cardigan, and the yarn I was using was a worsted tweed of some sort. The feel of it was full and soft and sturdy, all at the same time. It was like a lullaby in my hands, and it carried me off to a sweet, sweet place whenever I picked it up. Honestly, I think knitting with that yarn, all those years ago, is one of the reasons I became A Knitter. And this yarn is like that. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The colorway is called “Soft Suede,” and it goes with just about every pair of pants Paul has.

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One consideration when I was choosing a pattern was that the sweater needed to be sturdy and not prone to losing its shape. Paul is pretty hard on his clothes, and I wanted this to be something he could wear without having to worry about stretching it out or messing it up. I decided to go with a design knit in pieces and then seamed, hoping that the seaming would add a little more structure to the sweater than it might have otherwise, and that definitely turned out to be the case. He should be able to knock around in this day in and day out without any worries.

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It makes my heart swell to think of my honey wearing the sweater I knit for him, with all the love and care that went into it holding him close. I don’t do a ton of knitting for other people, but every time I do, I’m reminded what a special gift a knitted thing is. The person who gets it and the knitter who knitted it both come away with so much.

I have one other random picture I’ve been meaning to show you–the Mystery KAL Shawl in the wild! A friend took this snapshot of us at a wedding recently. The shawl was perfect because the wedding was in the evening, and it was held outside. The temperature was in the seventies when we got there, but by the time dinner and dancing wrapped up, it was in the mid-fifties. I started out with the shawl over my arm, but by the end of the night, I was using it to keep me warm. Hooray for handknits in action!

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*Just one thought–I loved this article on npr.org about working toward a fuller understanding of where others might be coming from by reading “the book that’s not for you.”

 

 

Things I’m trying to remember this week . . . 2

My goal is to send good vibes out into the world this week, or at least not to send out crazed ones. These things are helping.

Mary Oliver’s wise words:

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And, as always . . . knitting.

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Namaste, my friends.

“Time is contagious . . . Everybody’s getting old” 3

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Hello, my friends. If we were standing face-to-face, this would be one of those days when we just looked at each other, shook our heads, and then burst out laughing. Know what I mean?

The only thing that makes a lot of sense in my life right now is the zigzag blanket. I’ve been knitting on it constantly.

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Paul’s sweater is ready to be finished.

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I intend to seam it up and add the neck any day now, but there keeps being the world and the work and the million stressful things, and I just keep needing to knit the zigzag blanket.

Happily, there was fiber guild last weekend, so I was able to socialize with the zigzag blanket in tow. In addition to seeing my people, I got some excellent blanket knitting advice from Teddy.

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He was so tired by the time he finished wedging himself between Cari and me to offer his views on color selection that he had to collapse on Cari’s lap and take a nap.

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Another happy thing is that three books I preordered forever ago have all come in the mail. People Knitting has incredible photos as I expected it would. I haven’t had a chance to dive into Mary Oliver’s Upstream or The Hidden Life of Trees yet, but it’s nice having them nearby for whenever that elusive free moment comes. I’m especially excited about The Hidden Life of Trees. I wrote about it here if you’re interested.

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One of the things I’ve wanted to share with you when I finally got around to posting is this article about Lars Rains. He’s a former New York cop who is really into knitting! He published a book called Modern Lopi last year, and the designs in it look incredible. I especially like Hildur. There’s something about the way the neck is worked that seriously appeals to me.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the Dyeing Now project. This is the coolest thing! The centerpiece is a book published in the early 20th century called Vegetable Dyes. It was written by Ethel Mairet who was a pioneering weaver but also did tons of experimenting with natural dyeing. The book is a catalog of all of this with instructions on how to duplicate Mairet’s results. It was apparently one of the first books on natural dyeing to reach a wide audience. The point of the Dyeing Now project is for contemporary dyers to prepare samples of dyed fiber using Mairet’s recipes. Anyone can participate! The instructions are on the Ditchling Museum website here.

Sorry for the rambling post. I hope to make more sense again some day. Today’s title is from Damien Rice’s song “Coconut Skins.”

 

Blanket Love 10

zigzag-blanket

I’ve completely fallen for my zigzag blanket. I don’t know whether it’s the change of seasons that’s made me so in love with knitting it or all the work I have piled up that it provides such a welcome break from, but all I want to do is knit this blanket.

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Blanket knitting and I have a history. I started my first blanket back when I was in grad school. It was a feather and fan pattern my aunt gave me. I can still remember the pleasing rhythm of working the stitches and watching the pattern emerge. I kept it in a pile by my sofa, and whenever I needed a break from reading, I’d pick it up and knit a few rows. I’m not sure what happened, especially since I so distinctly remember enjoying knitting it, but at some point I abandoned it and gave it to my aunt to finish.

There have been any number of crochet blankets I’ve started over the years. Squares for several of them are piled in one closet or another, still waiting to fulfill their destiny.

There is also the 2016 Geek-A-Long blanket. That one is actively in progress, but since I’m working it square by square and each square takes a couple of days, it’s coming along in fits and starts.

There is Vivid too. I love that one! One time when I was caught up in a frenzy of blanket lust, I started knitting Vivid squares. They are super fun squares to knit, but starting each one is fiddly, and I think that eventually slowed my momentum to the point that there is still no finished Vivid in my life.

So . . . I love blankets, I love the idea of blankets, I love starting blankets, I love working on blankets. But I don’t tend to finish blankets.

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I’m wondering if things might be different this time.

Picking each successive stripe color is definitely spurring me on.

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I have quite a few skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in my stash, and I treated myself to a small shopping spree at Eat. Sleep. Knit. earlier today. I’m claiming temporary insanity from having to work all weekend.

Who knows what will happen. At least for now, though, happiness is a zigzag blanket.

And this amazing October weather.

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Fall Is In The Air 12

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Are you feeling the fall where you are? We spent the weekend running around here and there and loving the nip in the air.

I bound off the sleeves for Paul’s sweater (finally!) as we drove.

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On Saturday, we got to visit this year’s goat babies at Good Fibrations. Their pals gave us the fiber I’ve been using to knit the sweater.

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You can see the leaves coming down in their pasture. This is across the border from us in North Carolina, and fall seems to be a little further along there than it is at our place.

I took this picture along our driveway during my lunchtime walk today. The leaves are just starting to turn. I love the woodpecker tree on the right. And can you believe the sky?

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Here’s more fabulousness from North Carolina. I can’t remember what the plant in the foreground is called, but I need to find out. That’s pink muhly grass in the foreground. It and the bush behind it with the purple berries made my heart ache they were putting on such a show.

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The bush with the purple berries is called a beautyberry. Look at the color of those berries! I’m wondering if it could be preserved in dyeing. I haven’t found an answer yet although I did learn that the beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a natural insect repellent, apparently comparable to DEET in effectiveness.

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The cooler temps have spurred Paul to start bringing firewood up from the shed.

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And they’ve made me pull out the crockpot.

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And start another blanket.

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Oops.

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