Tag: books

Yarn Along: Sweater and Coates 11

Here I am posting just under the wire for the Wednesday Yarn Along!

This week I’m knitting the Tea with Jam and Bread sweater for Paul and reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Both are substantial and important in a million million ways.

 

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.

 

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.

Yarn Along: Can’t Go Wrong with JK and MJ 10

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.

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.

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.”

 

 

“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.”

 

Something New 10

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The mountains of Northeast Tennessee are wildly alive. Every single day, some new face of nature shows itself.

In the beginning I wanted to know about everything, immediately. Which tree was the hemlock that was used to build our house? Which were the tulip poplar and the sourwood the bees love? Where could I find the plantain? We might need a  a poultice!

It’s been a process, but tree by tree and plant by plant, we’ve been getting acquainted. For the most part, I’ve learned to be patient and take the lessons as they come. But every now and then, something happens, like the goldenrod this year. It’s been insane. Fabulous, blinding yellow! Everywhere!!

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I knew the time to try my hand at natural dyeing had come.

 

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I decided it would be fun to throw several different types of fiber into my dye pot. I wanted to use some of the Border Leicester top that was a Christmas gift last year from my dear friend, Pam. I also wanted to try dyeing some thread, so I ordered some Dye-lishus cotton from New World Textiles. I had some Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool and some Plymouth Galway Worsted yarn on hand, so I grabbed those, and I even tossed in a piece of cotton dish towel, just to see what would happen.

The first step was to scour everything and then to mordant all but the Dye-lishus thread. I used alum as a mordant and just followed the directions in Chris McLaughlin’s A Garden to Dye For.

The best part was making the dye bath.

 

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You’re really not supposed to do this in your kitchen . . .

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I’ll figure out a better plan down the road.

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Something about working with plants growing just a few steps beyond my door made the whole experience feel kind of magical.

Here’s how things looked straight out of the pot.

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That was last night.

Here’s everything today after having time to dry.

 

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I’m in love with the Border Leicester top. It took the color beautifully.

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The yarn is a little lighter than I’d like, and there are some spots where the dye didn’t take as well as it did elsewhere, so I’ll need to work on that.


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I’ll also need to figure out how to get better results with the cotton thread. It ended up a dull, tan-ish color–okay for some things, but not what I was hoping for.

Bottom line: this was big time fun and an excellent jumping off point for a new project I’m anxious to begin!

I’m going to be doing a stitch along with Bradie, whose Healing Handcrafting blog has become one of my absolute favorites. Bradie has written beautifully about the process here and here, and I will be posting about my own progress soon. In the meantime let me recommend the book we’re using for inspiration. It’s Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith. Both the writing and the photographs are something to be savored.

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That’s my little hank of hand-dyed thread on top.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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

In honor of the first day of Autumn . . . 6

In honor of the first day of Autumn, I made blackberry buttermilk cake for lunch. It was this recipe, but with blackberries. It was very good.


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I was out of town for awhile. There was knitting and beer drinking in a hotel.
 

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There was knitting and coffee drinking in a couple of different airports.
 

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There was knitting on airplanes.
 

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There’s been some reading.


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I’ve also learned a few things. Did you know that the poet Marvin Bell has a son who’s a song writer? His name is Nathan. One interesting (if not particularly well written) article claims he “may be the Woody Guthrie we need in the age of globalization.” More research is definitely in order.

I also came across the work of Lisa Anne Auerbach. Who knew?

The well is a little dry at the moment, so I’m trying to fill it up. Hopefully, I’ll have more to say soon. In the meantime, thank goodness for knitting. Be well, my friends. Knit on.