Tag: blogging

Instructions for living a life . . . * 2

I’m trying to live deliberately these days. There’s so much to be swept up in. I know you know what I mean. World things, family things, living life things . . .  It can be overwhelming. I’m looking for solid ground.

Knitting is solid ground. I’m slowly making progress on the sleeves of Paul’s sweater. I love thinking of his arms wrapped in these stitches I’ve put together, one after another, so carefully.

sleeves

Recently, I was with some people dear to me, and the situation was stressful, tense. There was waiting involved. I picked up these sleeves and started to knit, and the effect was remarkable. The energy in the room changed for all of us. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it first hand, but my knitting was like a spell that suddenly allowed us all to relax. I was aware of the change as it was happening. We were all watching my hands knit one stitch, and one stitch, and one stitch, and we began to be soothed. Knitting has that power.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits are also solid ground.

biscuits

Baking these required just enough focus to make the demands of the moment more powerful than all the other places my mind wanted to go. Eating them reminded me of my grandmother. Sharing them with Paul made me happy. That was enough.

Another thing I think will be grounding is starting to do some natural dyeing. I’ve been anxious to try this for quite a while. The process interests me, and I like the idea of becoming more intimate with the plants and trees that are everywhere around us on the mountain. The goldenrod is practically insisting that the time is right. It’s in full, crazy bloom at the moment and is everywhere.

I ordered some books last week.

dye-books

And today we went to the flea market to look for inexpensive, non-reactive pots and other tools I’ll need.

flea-market

It must have been my lucky day because I found three pots, two stainless steel and one enamel, along with some tongs and a stainless steel colander.

dyeing-equipment

Dogs may be the most solid ground of all. How can you have any doubt about where you stand when you’re with a dog?

dulce

In many ways blogging is also grounding. It’s what I thought of when I read Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life”:

 Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

If you have any suggestions for staying grounded, I’d love to hear them. Please post a comment or email me at melinda@knitpotion.com.

 

*From “Sometimes” in Red Bird: Poems by Mary Oliver

Rabbit Holes 16

Since things are feeling a bit insane around here workwise, I will make no mention of my own knitting projects today. Instead, I want to tell you about the explosion of blog serendipity that happened yesterday.

I was catching up on recent posts from my favorite blogs and intending to keep a tight rein on my habit of following links down rabbit holes, but darn it if Fiber and Sustenance didn’t draw me in with a picture of stripey socks and desert boots. I accidentally kept reading and was reminded that she and a friend were doing a hap KAL and that I’d wanted to check out said friend’s blog over at Rosalind Craft Supplies.

Well . . . Kate of Rosalind Craft Supplies posts lots of pictures of books and knitting against which, it just so happens, I am powerless. Ten or fifteen happy minutes later, I got ahold of myself but fortunately not before I’d discovered this awesome video that Kate shared in a post about her pick for the Top Nine Television Knitters.

I LOVE this guy. And it turns out he actually did finish the bow tie!

So anyway, determined to avoid future detours and stick to the essentials, I stopped by alexand knits. I had several posts worth of catching up to do, and wouldn’t you know it? There’s this post about how Alex’s friend Carol of knit equals joy gifted her a sock pattern. That led to my checking out both Carol’s terrific blog (awesome, awesome photos!) and the sock pattern, Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks.

Well . . . it just so happens that there is a KAL starting for the Smooth Operator Socks in Susan B. Anderson’s Ravelry group, itty bitty knits. You know what that led to, right?

Moving on . . .

But not really. See, in the same post where Alex mentioned the Smooth Operator Socks, she talked about a Wolfberryknits post and said it was really worth checking out. Oh. My. Heavens. Check THIS POST out! It’s the best thing I’ve seen on a blog in ages. It’s about taking local fleece and dyeing it with dyes made from local plants, and spinning it, and knitting it into a glorious pair of 100% Australian socks. There are tons of pictures, and the socks are insane.

Should I mention that as I was reading the comments on the Wolfberryknits post (I told you it was bad) I came across this sentence: “I have always been attracted to shiny things. I am a life experience magpie who wants to know how things work and who collects processes like other people collect random paraphernalia.”  You know I had to find that person.

Turns out, that’s narf7, and her blog is Serendipity Revisited. And yes. It’s an extremely cool blog.

That’s it. Back to work. But first, the final stop on yesterday’s out-of-control coffee break: Woman Sentenced to Five Months of Knitting for Road Rage Punch. Yes–she did, and she was. Here’s the scene of the crime:

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.49.58 AM

(Picture: Cascade)

 

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

Flatlining 2

I may be brain dead. I can’t think of a single interesting thing to say. Here are some pictures.

Rye soda bread:

Rye Soda Bread

This was amazing! I looked at a couple of recipes and then just ended up winging it. It’s basically plain old soda bread with rye flour. It was exceptional.

Ratatouille with a fried egg:

Ratatouille

I used this recipe, and I will definitely be using it again. If you like eggplant, make this. Really. It’s savory and filling in all the right ways.

Ripples:

Ripple Recon

I might be fantasizing about a ripple afghan. Who knows why . . .

And no pictures for this, but I’m reading The Historian. What a book! As soon as I hit “post,” I’m diving back in.

And blogs! I’ve added several new knitting blogs to my daily reads list. I’m still getting to know these bloggers, but so far I’m liking what I’ve found. Check ‘em out!

Hopefully, brain activity will resume at Casa Knit Potion soon. I’ll keep you posted.

“I love people who harness themselves . . .” 6

AugieI was enjoying a post on building a handmade wardrobe over at kariebookish.net this morning when I came across the following comment by someone named “jackiemania”:

This is something I’m trying to work on (slowly but surely) too. Last week I was sick and I felt so much better because I had on a hand knit cardigan <3 I once wrote in my blog that wearing something handmade made me feel like I am wearing a talisman against the vagaries of the modern world, and that I’m convinced that objects we make with our own two hands are imbued with integrity, magic, and soul.

Of course, I had to immediately find out more about this person who describes wearing handknits as “a talisman against the vagaries of the modern world” because clearly she is someone who knows what’s what and is out there talking about it.

It turns out that Jackie has two blogs. One of them, jackiemania, is all about books and what she’s been reading. It’s no longer updated regularly, but oh, my goodness . . . if you’re a reader, you absolutely must check it out. She’s spent several years posting about what she was reading at the time, and her comments are seriously interesting. It’s like finding a great knitting blog but about books. You get the feeling that it’s almost as much fun hearing her talk about something she’s read as sitting down with the book yourself. I had to stop myself after ordering the third one of her recommendations on Amazon this morning!

In case you’re wondering, I got The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’ll report back.

So anyway, Jackie’s active blog right now is called Life During Wartime Challenge. I need to spend more time with it to really get a sense of what it’s like, but the farewell entry on jackiemania, describes the new blog as having a focus on “sustainability, frugality, making, and doing.” I think the last part of her comment on the kariebookish.net post might be representative:

Finally, I am obsessed with the concept of verum factum: The principle states that truth is verified through creation or invention and not, as per Descartes, through observation: “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giambattista_Vico#The_verum_factum_principle). So, I feel like you can’t really know something until you try and make it yourself. If I’m interested in something, I want to make it to understand it.

This!!!!!! So much THIS.

And guess what! Jackie has a very active twitter feed where she not only tweets about knitting and books and making things but also posts pictures of extremely cute kitties! And cooking. And trees. . . .

View

On a day when work has been especially worky, it’s nice to have found someone who loves a lot of the same things I do and spends time talking about them online.

Sock 2

The line in the title is from Marge Piercy’s poem, “To Be of Use.” It’s featured in this post at jackiemania.wordpress.com.

Hamster, Herron, Herring 0

Did you know that the Oxford Junior Dictionary no longer includes the words hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster and panther? The Guardian and The New Yorker both published articles about this in January, but I was apparently doing something other than reading the news that month because I’ve just learned about it.

The New Yorker makes the reasonable point that it’s not the job of the editors of the Oxford Junior Dictionary to shape children’s thinking; their role is to reflect what is, not to enforce or prescribe a particular worldview. Still . . . this feels sort of huge. It feels huge the same way the decline of cursive writing feels huge. I get that things change, but no hamster? Really? I’m pretty sure my dismay is more than simple nostalgia.

We live through language. What does it mean if seven-year-olds now need cut and paste, broadband and analogue to get by but not acorn, almond, or blackberry? Yikes.

Over the last few years, I’ve begun to realize the degree to which my academic and professional striving have taken me away from so much of what matters, from paying attention to the world around me, from doing things with my hands, from participating in the practical aspects of my own nourishment. . . . from walking, knitting, gardening, cooking, listening to the birds and looking at the stars. I know that life is better with these things, but for some reason it takes real effort to keep from losing sight of this. I’m afraid it will be even harder for people in the future, people whose childhood dictionaries didn’t include the word buttercup.

Dogs are the ultimate antidote to disembodied living. Thank goodness for them. And knitting helps. I think that’s one reason I hold onto it so tenaciously. It’s turning out that this blog helps too in that writing it gives me a good reason to slow down and pay attention and reflect. So thank you for reading. It makes the process feel worthwhile.

Now, how about some dogs and knitting?

I was working on Gramps last night when the weather started to get crazy outside. Rasta was lying in my lap sleeping, but the wind and the beating rain started to make him a little nervous. Pretty quickly, this:

Stormy Night 1

Turned into this:

Stormy Night 2

Then into this:

Stormy Night 3Sweet boy.

Here’s a progress shot of Gramps.

Gramps

I’m liking it. I’m not opposed to pooling, but in this case the fact that the color is staying random seems good.

I’m off to the dentist now. Hope things are safe and dry in your neck of the woods and that life brings you plenty of hamsters, herons, magpies, and newts. And knitting.

Ugh . . . 4

Sick day 3

I brought the creeping crud home with me from my trip. I’ve got a miserable cold. It’s nothing that won’t pass, but it makes me not want to do anything but sit around and feel sorry for myself. Know what I mean?

There is no shortage of work stacked up, though, so I’m trying to persevere. As I was sitting at my desk this morning, I looked over at this.

Sick day

Yes, I had ice cream for breakfast. And yes, I was using periodic rows on my BFF sock as a negotiating tactic with my sick self. I actually managed to make some progress on my editorial project this way.

Augie had promised to help, but the yarn and ice cream were too much for him. It wasn’t so bad when he just wanted to sniff the ice cream, but when he started chewing a knitting needle, he got himself demoted from his position as number one office assistant back to kitty who doesn’t get to be on the desk while work is going on.

Here’s a question for you. If you had to choose, would you prefer that a blog be updated every day, even if that meant that some of the content was nothing more than a picture or two and a quick shout out, or would you prefer that it be updated every few days and that the content be more substantial? I actually think I prefer the former, but the only blogger I read who actually does this is Jean Miles. When I myself start to post for a second day in a row, I usually end up stopping myself because it’s just more of the same . . . knitting, reading, cooking, working, hanging out with cat and dogs. But then, that’s what this space is all about, right?

There are definitely times like today when I don’t have much to say, but I’m thinking about knitting, so it seems nice to pop in and mention that. At the same time, I don’t want to bore readers with content that is even more inane than usual. If you have an opinion about this, I’d really appreciate your sharing it with me—either by leaving a comment or by emailing me at melinda@knitpotion.com.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of today’s mail delivery.

Pounce

Tinkle and Glint

Can you even believe the gorgeousness??! I got this in two separate destashes. I’m in love with the colors. Hello Yarn fiber is always beautifully dyed, but these reds and pinks absolutely slay me. Spinzilla is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I’m planning to dive into this then.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day, and happy knitting!

Walking The Walk 4

Barefoot Rooster posted this in January 2010.

Barefoot Rooster Jan 2010

I think I’ve probably mentioned before that every now and then I find a blog I like well enough that I go back and read it from the beginning. I did this with Jean Miles, and Franklin Habit, and Crochet with Raymond, and right now, I’m doing it with Barefoot Rooster.

There are all kinds of things I like about the Barefoot Rooster blog, but the main draw for me is seeing knitting and spinning integrated into someone’s life in a significant way. It makes me happy to see these things sustaining someone else like they sustain me. There’s a kind of camaraderie in it. And there are pictures. I love pictures.

In addition to the post above, a couple of nights ago, I came across a post where the Rooster is talking about selfies that show off her handknits. She says:

I feel sort of weird taking pictures of my outfits in the mirror, but these are the photos that I really like to see on other people’s blogs and on ravelry—how they actually wear the stuff they make. Sometimes seeing a handknit incorporated into someone else’s wardrobe convinces me that I could/would wear said handknit.

Hear, hear! I couldn’t agree more. I get the feeling weird part. But everybody loves pictures!

Then, yesterday, I was talking with my friend Spinfoolish and mentioned how much I love seeing the occasional pictures she posts on Facebook of her daily tea and knitting (her fabulous Mummy is British—tea is a thing). She seemed surprised and said something similar to what the Rooster had about feeling strange posting pictures.

Now, I must protest. I get it. But I protest! We seriously need to see more knitting in the world.

Even Science says so.*

How is it that in one day I came across the same sentiment from two knitters I deeply admire? I’ve decided to take it as a sign from the universe.

I already post a lot of knitting pics, and I intend to keep right on doing that. But I had another thought. What if, in the spirit of Barefoot Rooster, I were to post more pics of myself wearing my handknits? Aaaand what if I were to appeal to my knitting friends to send me pictures of themselves wearing their handknits? (If you’re reading this, you KNOW I’m talking to you. Are you excited? I’m excited!)

What I have in mind are not the professional looking shots where all the pieces are arranged for a particular effect. I like those too, but as knitters we’re at least adequately represented in that department. I want real people—you and me and our friends—walking the walk and wearing our handknits in the course of our real lives in our real spaces, carrying out what we all know and that Barefoot Rooster’s Midnight’s Children quote expresses so beautifully:

Reality can have metaphorical content; that does not make it any less real.

Knitting and wearing handknits are about much more than sticks and string and avoiding public nudity. We knitters know this, but we’re often shy about saying it and acting on it. I want to show handknits in action here on this blog as part of celebrating all the things that knitting is.

If you’re reading this, please consider it my personal appeal: send me pictures of yourself dressed for your daily routine in your handknits. I’ll post them. And we can all take heart from seeing knitting doing its literal and metaphorical thing to keep us warm.

Believe it or not, I can’t find a single candid photo of myself in something I’ve knit that doesn’t also show someone else (I try to be careful about that). I’m on a mission, though. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s the Shetland I’ve been spinning—soaked, dried, and ready to go!

Minerals

*”Mirror neurons are one of the most important discoveries in the last decade of neuroscience. These are a variety of visuospatial neurons. . . . Essentially, mirror neurons respond to actions that we observe in others. The interesting part is that mirror neurons fire in the same way when we actually recreate that action ourselves.”  — “Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain,” by Sourya Acharya and Samarth Shukla, in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine

Keep on bloggin’ in the free world . . . 1

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I made it through my crazy weekend of work and am happily back in the regular groove. I actually finished earlier than I’d expected on Sunday, so I had some time for weeding the garden, going for a walk (where I saw these beauties):

Blackberries

Making my first ever PIE with some of the last remaining blackberries from 2014 (It was SOOO amazingly good!):

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie 2

And doing a little sock knitting, cuddling, and napping with these guys:

Sunday Knitting

Yesterday, BOTH of my sock club shipments arrived, so I got to oooh and ahhhh over this lusciousness from Into the Whirled:

ITW June

And more fun stripes from String Theory Colorworks! The complementary heel/toe color gets me every time. So does the little stitch marker that always comes with each month’s yarn. See it there on the right?

STC June

The light was fading when I took these pics, but even with the shadows, the images without the camera flash are so much nicer than the ones I took with it.

I’ve rounded the heel on the first funky, pink stripey sock, so I should have some pictures of that to share tomorrow. I’m also making progress on the Pi Shawl although there won’t be much to see there for a looong time. As long as it’s on the needles, it’s just going to look like an increasingly big blob.

In the blog world, there was a very interesting post from Danny Gregory today. He’s the genius behind Everyday Matters, an online community of artists (of ALL skill levels) that developed around the first incarnation of Gregory’s blog.  Sadly, that original blog is no longer accessible. It was all the things I’ve talked about loving in a blog—idiosyncratic, personal, filled with glimpses of the way someone’s passion shows up in the details of everyday life. The “new and improved blog” has followed the path of so many wonderful things that succumb to the dictates of commerce. The entries became less and less personal, less real seeming, slicker, more like they wanted something from you. Today’s post reflects on all of this. It almost sounds like the funny, candid, un-retouched Danny Gregory from back in the day. Check it out if you have any interest in drawing, or in blogging, for that matter.

 

 

Why Blog? 4

Do you ever think about why people blog? I think about it all the time. I wonder what motivates people to do it, what they get out of it, whether blogging is a  service (an offering?) of some kind, or if it’s an indulgence, blog as verbal selfie.

Where there’s a business angle, I guess the reasons for blogging are obvious, but those aren’t the blogs that really interest me. The blogs I like are personal. One blogger I follow talks about wanting to be a documenter/reader of her life. That works out for me as a reader of blogs because I get to see lots of dog pictures and knitting and books, all of which make me happy. I think it must work out for her as a blog writer too. At the time she said it, she was posting almost every day and including tons of pictures, at least some of which she probably wouldn’t have taken if it weren’t for the blog. Fast forward six or seven years, and she’s got a kind of travelogue of that time in her life. She can track where she’s been, remember details she may have forgotten, reflect on her progress. . .

Of course, there is also the social aspect of blogging—no doubt about that. You get the occasional bit of feedback, and there is the sense of being part of a community, the pleasure of connecting with other people who share your interests. And there is accountability. Blogging makes you accountable in a way that private journaling  doesn’t. If people are actually reading your blog, there’s an occasion to rise to. It’s a nice motivator, especially if record keeping is one of your goals.

Some bloggers probably enjoy the feeling of being helpful. I sure hope TECHknitter does since she so totally is! Spinfoolish is. A Fisherman Knits is. Arenda Holladay definitely is.

Then there is blog as caffeine. Wake up! Turn on your brain! The main reason I decided to start a blog was to push myself to think. Even when the topic is straightforward, the blogging mind works where the non-blogging mind might not.

They say that the cardinal rule of blogging is, about each post, to be able to answer the question, “Who cares?” Sometimes I’m a slacker, and I think—my one friend who reads the blog cares, some knitter out there might care, my mom cares. . . But usually I try to have a better answer. In this case I’m hoping the topic is something other blog readers and blog writers might have thought about too. If you come across this post and you have thoughts to share, please let me know! My email is in the sidebar, or you can leave a comment.

In closing, let me just say that it brings me enormous pleasure to share a record of my recent yarn purchase. The Madelinetosh “Antique Lace” from Australia is HERE!! And it’s even prettier than I imagined.

Antique Lace ds

Happy knitting!