Tag: blanket

The Knit Together Project: Ode to the Hemlocks 20

Things have been so busy that there’s probably been less knitting in my life over the last month than at any other time in my adult life. The irony of this isn’t lost on me. This blog is called Knit Potion for a reason. I truly believe you could substitute knitting for meditation in the old Zen proverb that advises, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Alas, I know it, but I haven’t managed to do it. I knit, but instead of finishing projects, I finish rows. The simple Hitchhiker I started weeks ago is still on my needles. My argyle pillow is still an idea. My Inlet cardigan, sans sleeves.

Enter Shirley Yeung, the incomparable maker, thinker, and writer behind Handmade Habit. In an absolutely enchanting blog post, Shirley talked about the Knit Together Project and shared the story behind her own beautiful blanket square. She also encouraged others to participate.

The requirements are that the 8”x8” square be knit from fiber that has special significance for you and then mailed to the project’s mastermind, Melissa of Knitting the Stash. Melissa will be seaming the squares together into a blanket that will eventually go to one of the people who’ve contributed a square.

On some level I must have known that participating in a project like this would be just the dose of knit potion I needed. It made me start thinking about the extra special yarns in my stash, and that got me thinking about all of the incredible fiber friends I’ve made since we moved to Tennessee four years ago. Among these is our dear friend Marcia Kummerle. I’ve written about Marcia many times, including here and here. She’s also known as Good Fibrations.

Besides being one of the nicest people I know, Marcia is an inspired dyer with a direct link to the color gods (check out the red yarn at the bottom of this post). Last year, she created two new colorways, “Deep Forest” and “Ode to the Hemlocks.” The story behind them struck a deep personal chord, and I’d like to briefly tell you why as a way of telling you about my blanket square.

The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) grows everywhere in the Smoky Mountains. We live on close to 35 acres of forest, and they are thick on our property. These trees can grow to be over 150 feet high and nearly 6 feet around. Some of the ones in our area are over 500 years old. Many species of birds nest in their branches. Flying squirrels live in and feed around them. And they help keep the forest floor and mountain streams cool. The day we moved into our house, I hugged one. I didn’t know what it was then, but it called to me, and I loved it.

I’ve since learned that this amazing tree is in trouble. It’s being attacked by a non-native insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid. An article on the Scientific American blog, “Hemlock Extinction Looms Over the Tennessee Forests,” offers a succinct account of the situation. The New Yorker’s “A Death in the Forest” takes a more in-depth look at things. It’s not good.

So Marcia’s yarn . . . A year-and-a-half ago or so, Marcia visited a favorite hiking spot for the first time in many years. She couldn’t get over the sense that something was strikingly different. It took her awhile, but by the end of the hike, she had come to realize that what was different was the light. There was too much of it. The hemlocks that had earlier blanketed the forest floor in cool deep greens were gone, and the new forest appeared as shades of brown. The character of the visible forest had entirely changed. It was in response to this experience that Marcia created the colorway “Deep Forest,” a memory of the forest that was, and “Ode to the Hemlocks,” an acknowledgement of the forest that is increasingly becoming the norm in this area.

Because this yarn comes from Marcia’s goats . . .

Because Marcia created the colorways as a testament to the shocking change that is taking place in our forest, literally outside my door . . .

Because I believe that somehow noticing and telling and creating in response to this event means something . . .

I decided to knit my blanket square in Marcia’s yarn. Viewed head-on the square is stripes of then and now.

Viewed from another perspective, the deep green of the hemlock forest remains intact.

I’d originally planned to have the green show up as a tree shape, but in the end it seemed more fitting to knit a circle. My thought was that though we might not see it now and we might not know the exact shape it will take, nature will find a way back to wholeness. So far at least, it always has.

Thank you so much, Melissa, for thinking of this project and shepherding it along. And thank you, Shirley, for brining it to my attention and encouraging me to participate. Here’s to knitters. And to the hemlocks.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Check out woollythoughts.com for lots of great info on illusion knitting! My circle is a modification of one of their simplest patterns. Many of the others are stunning in their complexity.SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

What I’ve Got For Today 8

So you know I’ve been knitting, but I don’t have much to share in the way of photos. The best I can come up with is today’s car knitting. The weather was rainy and surprisingly cold for May.

But the stripey blanket did me right. It kept me entertained AND cozy!

To distract you from the lack of exciting knitting photos, how about some baby goats? We got to see these precious angels last weekend at our friend Marcia’s. It was heaven.

These are angora goats. Their fiber will make to-die-for roving and yarn when it’s blended with a bit of wool.

Blackberry here is the mother of the little black baby and his brother. Twins!!

In the spirit of further distraction from the lack of knitting excitement, I’ve been meaning to share some interesting fiber related links with you. Here’s some good stuff I’ve stumbled across online recently.

  • No Wool, No Vikings  This is a fascinating article about a high school program in Norway where the students spend nine months learning what it might have been like to be a Viking. The fun part for us fiber people is that it involved LOTS of wool. In particular, the Viking ships used woolen sails. To outfit one boat required a thousand sheep or more! And the amount of fiber work involved was insane: “Building a boat might take two skilled boatbuilders a couple of weeks . . . but creating its sail would take two skilled women a year.” Crazy! (Thanks to Dorothea, dear friend and captain of my awesome Tour de Fleece team, for turning me on to this article!)
  • The mystery of knitting . . . remains a mystery  Just hilarious.
  • Yoga for Knitters and Crocheters  Did you know Lion Brand Yarn has a whole playlist on YouTube focused on yoga for knitters and crocheters?
  • Why Farmers and Knitters are Fixated on Icelandic Sheep  Are you sensing a theme? I think this might be another of Dorothea’s recommendations. Love me some lopi.
  • Stitch by stitch, a brief history of knitting and activism  Pretty much like it sounds with some cool pics.

That’s what I’ve got for today . . . except for this sweet picture of Frankie sleeping.

What kind of knitting goodness is going on in your neck of the woods?

Yarn Along: Bees and Blanket 15

I’m joining in for another week of the Yarn Along today with a book on bees and a return to blanket knitting here at Casa Knit Potion.

A lot of the reading I’ve been doing lately has been pretty heavy, but I’ve just started Dave Goulson’s A Sting in the Tale. We have been keeping bees since we moved to Tennessee and are more amazed all the time by their industry and abilities. The current weather situation is especially perilous for them, so I’ve been casting around everywhere with the hope of learning about anything we might be able to do to help. I’ll keep you posted on the book.

On the knitting front, I’m back to knitting on my zigzag blanket, at least until the yarn for Paul’s new sweater arrives. Dana over at Yards of Happiness inspired me to knit him a Tea with Jam and Bread Sweater, and I can’t wait to dive in. I’m still loving the zigzags, though, so it’s all good until the mail person gets here with the box o’ yarn I got on super sale from Alpacas Direct.

If you’re looking for a mitt pattern, be sure to consider Raw Honey. I finished these yesterday, and the fit is perfect! This pair is for a friend, but I’ll be making some for myself soon. This is another Yards of Happiness inspired project.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the best card I’ve gotten in ages. This came in the mail earlier this week:

On the inside are words from Johnny Cash:”I walk the line.” For me, it should probably say, “I see the line over there somewhere in the distance and do my best not to lose sight of it entirely!”

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.

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.

 

yarn-along-2016-11-23

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.

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

3-porch-knitting

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.

1-dinner-knitting

Paul’s sweater is ready to be finished.

checks-and-balances

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.

teddy-2

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.

2-fiber-guild-knitting

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.

books

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.

knitting-in-the-car

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.

knitting-and-football

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

Picking each successive stripe color is definitely spurring me on.

cascade-220-stash

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.

fall-trees

Fall Is In The Air 12

goat

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.

knittig-and-driving

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.

goats

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?

fall-woodpecker-tree

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.

fall-plants

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.

beautyberries-2

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

firewood

And they’ve made me pull out the crockpot.

lentil-minestrone

And start another blanket.

zigzag-blanket-co-3

Oops.

Knitting and Erranding 12

So I didn’t win the 1.6 billion dollar Powerball jackpot. Shoot. I had big plans. I took heart when I heard that one of the winners was from Chino Hills, CA. That’s where my cousin lives. I sent her a message. She didn’t win either.

I’m finding solace in the Geek-A-Long.

Pong Knitting web

Here’s my first finished square.

Mario Kart 1

The tablet on the right gives an idea of the size.

I’m almost embarrassed by how much fun I’m having with this. I’m knitting along, doing my thing, and then I turn the piece over, and wow! The colors have switched places! Magic!!

Mario Kart 2

The whole dimensionality thing is pretty neat too. Just by knitting and slipping, you can make a tube or a pouch. Or a pocket! I love pockets. Here’s Augie playing with a tiny little test pocket. He thinks it’s his, so I guess it is. Not sure what he’s going to keep in it.

Augie and Pocket web

Today was errand day which meant we got to visit Miss Lucy at the feed store.

Lucy

To keep things somewhat knitting related, here’s a handknits-in-action shot.

Handknits in Action

This is my 28thirty cardigan. It’s easily my most worn sweater. The weather was cold and wet today and got worse as it wore on. Having a handknit sweater on made me feel fortified against the elements. Paul actually said without any prompting from me that it seemed like “wearing a hug.” That. He’s next in line for a sweater.

Here’s what the weather was like. That’s my current double knit square in the corner.

Weather

Here’s a better picture of the square.

Pong in car

It’s Pong! I actually remember my dad coming home with the first version of Pong a million years ago and setting it up on the TV for us. We loved it. Had we only known what today’s video games would be like! Ha!

Speaking of interesting pastimes, I’ve been meaning to mention an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal just before Christmas. It’s about people who love to untangle tangled yarn. Apparently, this is a thing—as in, there are a lot of people who do it, and they actively compete for the most tangled of the tangled messes. The worst cases end up being mailed from person to person around the globe, each detangler making as much progress as she can and then mailing it on to the next person. I feel no kinship whatsoever with these people, but it’s strangely comforting to think they’re out there.

The other piece of knitting news I’ve been meaning to pass along is that the Mason-Dixon Knitting ladies have come out with a knitting coloring book!! This feels like a big deal. Doesn’t it? Release the mouse, Cari. I’ve already ordered one for each of us. 😉

Don’t Ask, Walk! 0

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

I came across this wonderful bit of insight from Neitzsche in a post on the Brain Pickings blog this week. It had a special resonance because it so perfectly describes a woman I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about. The woman’s name is Fukuko Katsuura, and weaving is her obsession. She is 88 years old. She started weaving at 60.

For decades the world said, “No, Fukuko Katsuura, you do not get to weave.” And she said, “Yes, I will weave.” And despite the restrictions of culture and geography and age and all kinds of other things, she did. She is. I’m making a list of unconventional role models, and she is at the top of it right now. There’s a juicy article about her here with lots of photos and interesting details. Coming across Nietzsche’s words at the same time as I’ve been thinking about her is one of those coincidences that makes me think I should pay attention. I mention it here mainly because the article on Katsuura’s weaving is a fascinating read but also because this idea of living authentically has been on my mind. It’s not easy, is it?

Knitting . . .

Weekend errands included a haircut with a few minutes to knit while I waited my turn.

Hari Salon Knitting

And here’s where I am with my first Geek-A-Long square!

Mario Kart Square

It’s absolutely every bit as fun as I thought it would be. There is something ridiculously satisfying about seeing the image appear in reverse on the opposite side. And the squish is insane. The idea of a whole blanket with this level of squish boggles the mind.

The weather here has been dramatic.

Weather

We’re in for the coldest night of the winter tonight, so I made soup for dinner. I used my new Christmas pot and made Hot and Sour Vegetable. Oh, my goodness. It was very, very good. I used this recipe for inspiration. Definite yum!

Hot and Sour Soup

Despite the way it appears, this is actually enough soup for days. The pot is huge!

Sublimation 5

Elvis

Where to start? (Please ignore Elvis the Rooster for the moment.)

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m fifty or five. I’ve been in an absolute funk for days because yarn I ordered to start my Geek-A-Long blanket seemed to have disappeared in transit. I placed the order at the end of December, knowing it might be a day or two into January before I got it. But you know when it finally showed up? Yesterday! January 6th!

It wasn’t like there weren’t other things to knit. I could have worked on finishing Gramps or the Travel Shawl or cast on something new. I have gorgeous yarn for a sweater for Paul. But those things just wouldn’t do. All I could bring myself to work on were double-knitting swatches while I waited until time to go to the mailbox again and be crushed by no yarn . . . again.

I was a little surprised at my own petulance. It makes me wonder what’s really at stake for me to be so caught up in the idea of a particular project that having to wait felt like torture. Sublimation, for sure. But that’s knitting, right?

The yarn:

Black Yarn

I’ve never been so thrilled by black yarn. It doesn’t look like much, but the second color in every blanket square is black. No black . . . no blanket. 

Here’s the fun part:

Loopy Ewe

I got the colors from The Loopy Ewe, and along with the Cascade I ordered, they sent all these other fun things—sheep calendar, fun Della Q project bag, a little magnifying ruler, a button, candy, and a free skein of Malabrigo(!!!!!). I’m apparently a “Loopy Groupie” now. Not sure what qualified me for that unless it’s the embarrassing amount of money I’ve spent there, but I’m not one to look a yarny gift horse in the mouth, ya know?

Of course, I started my square immediately, and I’m loving it. I realized late last night that I’d made two of what are apparently the most common double-knitting mistakes, a bar and a stitch knit in the wrong color. My first knitting task today will be to work on correcting these things. I don’t even mind since it will be practice for fixing this sort of mistake going forward. 

One of my knitting goals for 2016 is to finish a blanket, something I’ve never done. As soon as my pesky day job is out of the way, I’m on it! Woohoo!!

Sidenote: While waiting for the black yarn, we ushered in the new year with Elvis the Rooster, one of the best gifts EVER (pictured above), and playtime with friends. Happy 2016, dear knitters!

Playing