Posts for : May 2016

Happy Friday! 0

WorkKnitting-sm

Since the current state of knitting here at Chez Knit Potion is mostly my looking longingly at my WIPs while I remind myself to get back to work, I thought I’d take a page out of last week’s book and share some of the  fun links I’ve come across online over the last few days.

The number one best discovery has to be The Secret History of Knitting.

 

 

I found this documentary by reading a post on Little Golden Notebook (another new-to-me knitting blog that’s full of interesting stuff). If you’re a knitter, the film is big fun to watch. It’s loaded with great visuals, and while most of the knitting highlights are things I was familiar with, there are a few surprises. There is actually a pretty convincing explanation of the origin of the Kitchener Stitch, one with more detail than I’d heard before (would love to know the source of their info), and there is a fascinating section on the secret codes women stitched into their knitting to pass along details of railway activities to the Belgian Resistance during WWII. In addition, there are interviews with knitting superstars and a satisfying overview of the ups and downs of knitting for the last thousand years or so. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.

The number two interesting thing was a post on the UK Hand Knitting blog about scrap yarn. Apparently, it was the thing the most knitters absolutely wouldn’t be without in their knitting kits. I’ve used scrap yarn for all of the things mentioned, but it was fun to see the run-down and, of course, the yarny pictures.

And in the news . . . I enjoyed this article about how a run on handknit Icelandic woollen sweaters is causing a knitting wool shortage in Iceland! And this one about a jaw dropping, knitted field of poppies created for the Chelsea Flower Show in the UK.

Finally, do you know about Twiddle Muffs? This is the article that sparked my interest. Twiddle muffs (or twiddlemuffs) are hand muffs with interesting textures and attached bobbles, and they are said to have a soothing effect on people suffering from dementia. It’s apparently common for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions to need something to do with their hands. Having a plush muff with buttons, ribbons, zippers, and other small points of tactile interest to run their fingers over helps keep their hands busy which makes them more at ease overall.

I had never heard of such a thing, but it makes a lot of sense, especially in light of what I’ve seen myself in a few people close to me. There are a number of free patterns online including these:

http://www.rdehospital.nhs.uk/docs/trust/pr/2015/Twiddlemuffs_Instructions_24-01-15.pdf
http://www.knitforpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Twiddlemuff-Pattern.pdf
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/twiddle-muff (crochet)

For anyone who’d like to knit for charity but hasn’t found the right project or for those who have someone close to them who is in need, this might be just the thing. I will definitely be making a few.

In the meantime, it’s back to work and fitting in my knitting where I can.

DoctorKnitting500

Happy weekend, my knitters!

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Home 0

Lola

I’m back home after a longish trip to Texas. The visit with my family was really, really good, but nothing beats getting back to my guys.

I did quite a bit of knitting while I was away although I don’t have much to show for it other than the big rectangle that the Easy Folded Poncho is becoming.

Plane-Knitting-3

Airport-Knitting

My best knitting moment happened with the English Mesh Lace Scarf. On the first leg of the trip last Monday, I opened the project bag and saw that the super slick Kidsilk Haze stitches had all slid right off the needles. After a moment of mortification, I started to think my way through the issues.

Plane-Knitting-1b

I figured ripping back was out of the question because the yarn is so grippy it’s pretty much impossible to end up with anything other than a knotted mess. Since I’d only knitted a couple of inches, I could have tossed what I had in the trash and started over, but I decided to see what I could do with it. I got all but three stitches back on the needles with relatively little effort, but finding out where the missing stitches fit in was a challenge. Fixing mistakes in lace has always been hard for me, and it was evident that one of the dropped stitches extended a few rows back through at least one set of decreases.

But I did it! After about half an hour of head scratching and delicate reworking, I got everything back where it was supposed to be. I was so happy I hadn’t just started over, even though I’m sure figuring out the problem and putting everything right took me longer than re-knitting the couple of repeats would have. The whole thing was incredibly satisfying. I just can’t tell you. And it must have made the knitting gods happy because the very next day I was rewarded with the most incredible tip.

I always stop by Strings and Things when I’m in Texas for a visit. It’s my awesome hometown yarn shop. This is a picture of the “sit and knit” area.

The-Knit-Shop-b

And these are the super cute socks Ms. C was knitting.

The-Knit-Shop-Socks

I ooh and ahhh over the new yarns and the projects they have on display and end up spending an hour or so just soaking up the good vibes.

Well, I was telling my Kidsilk Haze scarf story, and Ms. C had the BEST suggestion. She said when she has to rip back mohair, she puts the project in the freezer first. Freezing hardens the loose haze of fibers and makes the yarn much easier to rip back. It’s genius! I wouldn’t have thought of it in a million years, but it absolutely makes sense. If you did have to rip back, this would actually give you a fighting chance of ending up with yarn you could still use afterwards.

Anyhoo, besides knitting in the airport and on the plane, I got to knit a lot while I hung out and visited with my mom.

Patio-Knitting

I had the services of an excellent assistant.

Abbie

When we were at my aunt’s one day, I snapped a picture of the hilarious print she has hanging in her coffee nook. It’s kind of hard to see through the reflection off the glass, but the lady being dragged out by her feet is desperately trying to knit one more stitch before her friends pull her away to something else. I love it.

Knitting-Picture

I’m going to have to squeeze in my knitting where I can this week. I’ll be playing catch up with work. The Easy Folded Poncho should come in handy for conference calls, though, and hopefully I’ll get back to my Geek-A-Long square in the evenings.

Hope you have a great week!

Plane

My Best Companion 2

This video interview with Kaffe Fassett is absolutely wonderful. I came across it on My Sister’s Knitter and am so thankful I did. It’s been around since 2012, so I don’t know how I haven’t already seen it, but I’m thinking it’s one of those things that just came up at the right time, when I most needed to hear someone put into words the power of knitting.

My favorite part comes up at 8:13. The interviewer has asked Kaffe how knitting makes him feel, and this is his answer:

“It’s very easy to sort of lose the thread of life, and somehow the thread of knitting puts you back in touch with who you are, so it’s one of those extraordinary things. It’s my best companion when I’m traveling and when I’m in alien worlds . . . often dealing with the press, sitting in a hotel room, having an interview with somebody . . . if I can just knit a bit before and after those kinds of experiences, it just makes life more livable.”

I’m in Texas this week doing LOTS of knitting. Hope you get to do some too!

 

Heading Out 2

theater

Last night, we went out to dinner for the first time in ages and then went to a play. A friend had one of the lead roles, so it was a special occasion. I had a fancy cocktail:

dinner 1

What? You didn’t think I’d leave my knitting at home, did you?

And when I pulled out the phone to snap a picture, I realized I was also wearing a handknit, so here’s to handknits in action!

dinner 2

That’s my Travel Shawl. It’s turning out to be a favorite. I wasn’t planning to take it on my trip to Texas, because heat. But I’m rethinking that.

I’ve finally narrowed down my trip knitting. I’m back to working on the Geek-A-Long squares, so I’m taking the square in progress. I worked on it for a little bit this morning while I had coffee and did my beginning-of-the-day things:

breakfast

I also cast on the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho. It’s going to be the official when-I-can’t-pay-attention-but-really-must-be-knitting knitting.

The other thing I cast on was the Churchmouse English Mesh Lace Scarf. I’ve been wanting to knit this for awhile, and since it only takes one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and that weighs exactly nothing, it seemed like a good way to give myself another knitting option without its adding too much weight or bulk to my carry on.

I leave tomorrow and will be gone for a week. My plan is try to blog from the road at least once, but we’ll have to see how that goes. Even if I don’t manage to post anything, I’ll be reading. Now that I’ve found so many great new knitting blogs, I don’t want to miss anything!

Blog Love 15

sweater-in-pieces

Since all I have to show you today is the Crystal Palace yarn sweater in pieces, how’s about a list of cool knitting blogs?

I’m forever in search of great blogs. I love following along with other knitters and seeing their projects and how they do things day by day. It makes me feel like we’re all in this whole figure-out-the-world thing together. Plus, on days when I’m uninspired or need a fresh perspective, I can always count on a knitter to deliver.

sweater I’ve mentioned Jean’s Knitting lots of times. I check in there every single day. I thought it might be fun to share a list of some of the blogs that are new to me, though. Some of these bloggers have quite a following, but for whatever reason, I’ve just discovered them in the last few months. All of the blogs are currently being updated at least fairly regularly (a must for me), and each one has something about it that makes it unique or especially interesting. I’m going to present my list in alphabetical order with one exception. The exception is Yards of Happiness.

If you enjoy seeing lots of finished projects and following along with someone who is constantly pushing herself to learn new things about knitting, then Yards of Happiness is for you. Dana usually posts about three times a week, and in addition to the knitting, you get to see quite a bit of her fabulous dog, Cher. I read every post, and I’m never disappointed.

The following are blogs that I’m just getting to know but that have been compelling enough to make me actually sign up for email alerts about new posts or at least bookmark them so I can check back regularly.

  • alexand knits The “about” page says that she is a “queer, married mom of a toddler and two stripey kitties” and that, like a lot of us, she has a stash problem. The toddler and the kitties are all seriously cute, and she’s a particularly engaging writer. Her blog posts talk a lot about the nitty, gritty details of knitting (she knits a bunch!) and feature excellent pictures. Plus, she just went to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, so you can get your festival fix if you head over there right now.
  • Knitting in France The Knitting in France blog is written by an Icelandic knitter who currently lives in Normandy. That would be enough of a draw for me right there, given my fascination with all things beyond the U.S., but she also chronicles all of her fiber exploits, which are extensive. She knits, spins, dyes, and she has an Etsy shop. It looks like she also does contests and giveaways periodically which is kind of cool.
  • FogKnits If you hurry over to FogKnits right now, you’ll immediately see why I’m recommending it. Enough said. (If you come across this post sometime in the future, here is the specific post I’m loving at the moment. It’s called “Stuff on my Cat.”)
  • Knitters and Hookers Aileen from Glasgow, Scotland, writes the Knitters and Hookers blog. Aside from having what we all know is the best obsession ever and living in a super cool place, she’s a clinical psychologist in real life. This is relevant because sometimes her professional insights carry over. I found this post and this post about depression especially worthwhile reading. At the moment Aileen has a new baby, so she isn’t posting as regularly as usual. Here’s hoping she’ll be back before too long.
  • Spin a Yarn Paula says on her “about” page that although by day she is an Instructional Designer, by night, she is “an obsessed knitter, crocheter, cook, baker, and reader.” Those are the things she writes about. She doesn’t post a ton, but when she does it’s often about sock knitting . . . which, of course, is excellent. And she has a terrific blog roll! Don’t peek until you have about three hours to be lost in blog exploration.
  • The Shameful Sheep The subtitle of this blog is “Shit Storms, Shame, and Stories That Make You Cringe.” If that doesn’t pique your interest, I can’t imagine what would. Blair is hilarious. Go see for yourself.
  • The Sock Monkey Here is the beginning of The Sock Monkey “about” page: “Hi! My name is Josiah Bain. I’m a junior in high school, blogger at this blog that you’re reading, and knit designer under the label, The Sock Monkey. There isn’t much to say about myself besides the fact that I’m an introvert who will talk to people only if I’m forced to or if they are knitting.” I don’t know about you, but I can totally relate. Josh only posts a couple of times a month, but what he does post is unusually thought-provoking, and it’s always accompanied by incredible photographs. He has an amazing eye. Josh’s blog is a departure from run-of-the-mill knitting blogs because he’s thinking about the big issues—creativity, boundaries, beginnings and endings . . . I’m looking forward to following along as he continues his knitting and philosophical explorations.
  • Unsophisticated and Jejune Hannah is a knitter as well as a sewer and quilter. And she’s been to art school. That combination says something about her sensibility and the general vibe you get from her posts. One day she’s talking about how grafting sock toes is “a load of bollocks.” Another day she’s exploring fabric design. And yet another day she’s telling you about the time that she and her mother volunteered to help with archiving at the 18th-century home of Lord de Tabley. There are tons of great pictures, and you learn a lot. What’s not to love?
  • Yarn, Books & Roses One of the best things about Yarn, Books & Roses (besides the knitting and the cats) is that Marilyn seems like such a great person. When I’m reading her posts, I think: Wow, we should hit the local yarn shops and then have lunch while we talk about all the great stuff we found! She knits and spins and weaves and cooks and gardens and just seems to do all the stuff that’s fun to hear about. Oh, and she’s also managing a chronic disease. Check out her blog. I bet you’ll like it.

So that’s my list. Let me know what you think! And let me know what I’m missing. Which knitting blogs do you follow?

Oh, and I do have one more picture. The 2016 garden is underway. Woohooo!!

garden

Knit, Read, Work, Knit, Knit 2

Being absolutely buried in work makes me want to knit and read more than ever. That’s a problem for obvious reasons. I do what I can. Sometimes, I even carry my knitting from room to room, just in case there’s an open moment for a row or two. That happened when I had to wait half an hour for my proctored online Anatomy final to start.

exam-knitting

I connected at the appointed time and then sat there waiting for the proctor to do her thing. Definitely not the smoothest test taking experience I’ve ever had. It meant progress on the Crystal Palace yarn sweater, though.

It’s coming along nicely even though I’ve just been able to work on it in fits and starts.


waiting-room-knitting

I went to a doctor’s appointment with my dad earlier this week and got to knit in the waiting room. I wore Gramps, by the way, and LOVED it!

And there’s been brain dead, end-of-the-day, knit-and-snuggle knitting.

kitty-knitting

On the reading front, I’ve just finished a short book called How To Stay Sane by Philippa Perry. I can definitely recommend it. It’s written in the style of a self help book without any of the hype or gimmicks. It’s a psychotherapist’s straightforward recommendations on the best way to live without either letting the world drive you crazy or shutting down in order to shut the world out. It has a plenty detailed but refreshingly informal presentation style that makes reading it enjoyable, like talking with a smart friend.

My favorite section is the one on self-observation. Perry says, “Even after our left brains have developed to give us the powers of language and logic, reasoning and mathematics, we continue to be ruled by the mammalian right brain. It turns out that we are unable to make any decision without emotions. . . .” She cites research to support this and makes the fascinating statement that while

We live in a so-called ‘age of reason’ . . . many of our ideas, feelings and actions come from the right brain, while the left brain makes up reasons for those ideas, feelings and actions retrospectively. Every war might only be the playing out of an old dispute that happened in the nursery, for which the leader concerned is still trying to find a resolution.

Perry’s point is that self-observation gives us the leverage we need to have some choice in the matter, to actually take responsibility for our actions. The book is only about 150 pages long, but it is well documented if you want to know more about any of Perry’s research, and it includes exercises to help you implement the strategies she describes. And guess what. The section on the importance of learning for combatting stress  includes an illustration of a man knitting.

Mihotich-Knitting-Man

  Illustration by Marcia Mihotich (How to Stay Sane, page 77)

 

Coincidence? I think not.

I’ll sign off today with a picture of our ridiculously cute house guest. She’ll be with us through the weekend. Happy Friday, knitting friends!

shanti

Ta Da! 6

Gramps-6 copy

So here’s my version of Gramps. The pattern calls for pockets and elbow patches, and while I’m usually a huge fan of pockets, I didn’t think this colorful yarn needed anymore busy-ness.

Gramps-2 copy

 

Gramps-5 copy

The Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted is incredibly soft. It feels wonderful against the skin, but I’m going to have to see how it works out in the wearing. I like at least a little bit of sturdiness in a cardigan yarn, and this might fall into the not-quite-enough category. Time will tell.

In other news . . .

Shanti copy

We have the cutest house guest ever! This is Shanti, and she’s staying with us while her mom and dad are on a cruise. Most of the pictures I take of her look like this one.

Dog-Days-2 copy

The only time she’s still is when it’s time to concentrate on the respiratory system.

Shanti-2 copy

She’s an excellent student.

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