Tag: dogs

Still Yarning Along . . . 8

Despite the sad demise of the Yarn Along, knitting and reading continue as always here at Casa Knit Potion.

It was cause for celebration when Anne Lamott’s new book arrived on my doorstep the day before yesterday.

Here’s the quote from the back cover:

I’m not sure I even recognize the ever-presence of mercy anymore, the divine and the human; the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy. But I have come to believe that I am starving to death for it, and my world is too.

This.

My knitting is the English Mesh Lace Scarf I started at least a year ago. I think it’s going to be a favorite when I finish it in about 2050. I do a pattern repeat once a month or so. It’s the Kidsilk Haze. I don’t love knitting with it.

What I am loving knitting is this Dog Sweater. I started it last night and should finish up this evening while I’m catching up on The Americans. I’m making it for my cousin’s precious, little, one-eyed dog, Bandit. My track record with dog sweaters isn’t the best, but I’m ever hopeful.

I took this picture while we were waiting for dinner at our local Thai restaurant. Paul and I went there after an evening walk. We both needed some fresh air, so we drove over to a very pretty, hilly trail that winds around above town. The National Cemetery sits down below.

And the redbuds are in bloom.

It was nice.

In other news the #yarnlovechallengeapril is underway on Instagram, and the prompts are inspired. Today’s was “hands.” These were a couple of my favorite photos.

 

Things I’m Loving On This Monday 8

Since the ability to write meaningfully about ideas, even knitting ones, has apparently left me, here are some miscellaneous things I’m loving on this Monday.

These Chilean Men taking their needles to the streets:

 

 

The February #yarnlovechallenge happening on Instagram. I blogged about Lola’s short-lived sweater here:

 

 

 

Meryl Streep’s comment about knitting:

Streep admits that she spends much of her time on set knitting and finds the hobby to be therapeutic: “For me it was a place to gather my thoughts and understand the contemplative (life) … it’s a sort of clearing out place.”

 

This leftover Beef(less) Bourguignon I had for breakfast:

 

 

And most of all, my pink pussy hat, made with love by my wonderful Cari:

 

 

Wishing you peace, love, and lots of knitting, my friends!

 

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. 🙂

 

 

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

Randomly, on a Thursday 8

Finns Hat

This has been a banner week for communication. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish anything when it involves appealing to far-away people I don’t know for a response. It can feel like my phone calls and emails are just wafting off into the void. The last few days have been different, though.

One communication success didn’t have anything to do with knitting, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. I wanted to express my views on a particular situation to the mayor’s office. I couldn’t find an email address and so resorted to calling, thinking I’d either reach an administrative assistant who’d just mark down my position on a list or, worse, that my call would be routed into voicemail hell. As it turned out, I did have to leave a message, but to my huge surprise, the mayor himself called me back not twenty minutes later! Can you believe it? I was blown away. We talked for about ten minutes. He gave me some suggestions about additional people to contact, and I walked away a happy citizen. Imagine that.

There have been a number of other minor communication successes, but the really fun one you might actually be interested in has to do with knitting. I’m teaching a class on double knitting at the upcoming Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat on Roan Mountain. I’ve been enjoying poking around trying to figure out how the popularity of the process evolved in recent times, and I kept running into a significant gap.

Double Knitting

There aren’t a ton of resources available on double knitting, but up until the late 80’s, it seems like everything out there proceeded on the assumption that the technique must be accomplished in a particular way. If you know about double knitting, the “way” is with the knit or purl one and then slip one method. This allows you to do things like work a tube with two straight needles or to make a piece of flat knitting that has two layers. It gets the job done, but because it takes two passes to complete each round, it’s slow.

The modern way of doing things is to knit each side (of the tube or of the double-thick flat piece) simultaneously. It’s much quicker and more efficient. I learned this method from Alasdair Post-Quinn. His book and his Craftsy class are amazing resources.

DK Books

Anyway, as I perused some of the earlier explanations of double knitting, I started wondering if Alasdair was the first to use this modern method. Before his book, the most comprehensive examination of the topic was Beverly Royce’s book, Notes on Double Knitting, and she does things the old way.

So I sent Alasdair an email last night via his website and figured, not that that was the end of it, but that it would be at least a week or maybe even a month or more before I heard back. The man has a full-time, non-knitting job, plus he writes and travels all over the place to teach classes.

Well, guess what. First thing this morning, I had an information packed response from him that was just as helpful and nice as you could ever hope to get. It absolutely made my day.

In case you’re still following along with the technical end of this and are interested, the short version of the answer he gave me was that he wasn’t the first to use the modern method, but that the earliest source to which he could trace it didn’t present it with the sort of fanfare you’d expect to accompany a true innovation. This makes him think that someone, somewhere must have introduced this technique before. The other things published around the same time as the article Alasdair mentions and those that immediately precede it all seem to teach the old method, though, so it appears we’ve still got a missing link. But thanks to Alasdair’s terrific response, it’s a little gap in my understanding of the timeline now rather than a massive, gnarly one.

If you’re not interested in double knitting, this is probably a pretty boring blog post. But maybe the take-away can be that, every now and then, reaching out to someone in the public sphere for direction or information can actually produce real results.

Checks and Balances

In other news, I’m still working like a maniac and just getting my knitting in where I can. I’m almost finished with the front of Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater, and then I’ll just need to do the sleeves and join everything together.

I also started a double knit hat for my godson who left for his freshman year at TCU this week. That’s it in the photo at the top of this post. Since there’s about a 101% chance Finn doesn’t read the blog, I’m not at all worried about spoiling the surprise.

Poor Alice is moulting.

Alice

Augie is pretty much living in this blanket pile because of the crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having . . .

Augie

Everyone thinks they’d feel better about the weather if they could mooch some homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream

The garden is winding down.

Bounty

And there were peanut butter cookies.

PB Cookies

That’s it for now. Knit on, my friends!

When you walk through the garden . . . * 9

knitting 3

Things are overwhelming.

Cancer is the devil. Since the last time I posted, I’ve learned that two people dear to me will probably die from it in the next days or weeks and that one precious friend is facing it again, after fighting a long, hard battle to beat it once already.

And work. I’m so grateful to have it, but the stress is huge.

And the world. Ohhh, the world . . . I’m trying to remember to breathe, do yoga, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, love on the dogs and Augie, take at least a little time to touch base with the wise people in my life, and of course, knit.


Augie

This morning, I was in serious focus mode: “This 45 minutes, in between all of these other things, will be spent dedicated to making progress on this particular work thing.” During the 45 minutes, I got two separate texts about two new and complex obligations that have to be added to a schedule that feels like it’s already unworkable.

For a second I was teetering on the edge . . . but then I put the texts out of my mind as well as I could, finished out my 45 minutes of work, and like I was reaching for a life raft, picked up my knitting. I actually set an alarm for ten minutes so I wouldn’t have to keep looking at the clock, and I knitted on the  Smooth Operator socks I’d cast on last night. 

Smooth Operator Socks CO

It helped.

I’m saying this here because it’s been six days since I posted, and I didn’t want to just disappear. It’s also a note to my future self: knit. I can’t imagine I could ever forget that, but just in case . . .

The other thing I’d like to mention for the record is this huge life lesson: Cut everyone you’ve ever known a ton of slack. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Assume people mean well, and hope they will know that you do too.

This is such a cliche, but I’m understanding it in a way I never was able to before. My younger self somehow felt on top of everything, all the information, mine, yours, theirs. If I didn’t know, it was just that I needed to find out, think more about it, ask some questions. I didn’t even realize I thought this way. But now, as I face new challenges and I see people I love face challenges that my younger self just flat didn’t have the wherwithal to imagine, I realize how much every single one of us needs a break.

 

*Way Down in the Hole

I love you, summer . . . 6

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a lovely window of down time for a couple of weeks. I’m in between summer classes, perched on the dash in the middle of the crazy long sentence that is my current editorial project. The timing couldn’t be nicer.

The weather is fabulous, and this past week, I’ve gotten to do all sorts of decadent things including taking my wheel to the creek to spin.

Spinning-4web

I also went hiking with my friend D. We like to trek out to this little waterfall.

Falls

The going is strenuous at times but not overly so, and the reward is this pretty spot at the end. Plus . . . you almost always meet a dog or three. Today, we visited with this sweetie. Her name is Cocoa. She’s eleven years young. She’s apparently been hiking with her dad and her two human sisters since she was a puppy, so she’s kind of a pro.

Cocoa

She approved of my handknit socks.

Handknits In Action

Other things I’ve gotten to do this week are work in the garden:

Garden

And do yoga on the deck:

Yoga

Snuggle with Augie in the mornings:

Augie Paw

And watch the sun set in the evenings:

Summer-Evening

Isn’t summer wonderful?

On the knitting front, the big blue rectangle is finished. Pictures of that next time. Be well, my friends.

 

this fresh morning 8

seaming-4

Someone is stealing weeks. It has to be that, or how it could be June 13th?! Yikes!

It turned out I wasn’t quite fully healed by the peach. It helped, but it took until the end of last week for me to feel like I was totally back on track. As a testament to my improved condition, I returned to the Crystal Palace yarn sweater I left in pieces before my trip to Texas and started the seaming.

seaming-1

Lola swears she put snuggling on the calendar for that time slot.

seaming-2

We finally worked out the details.

seaming-3

I finished the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and I’m hoping to do the rest today. Then, it’ll be on to the neck, and that’ll be it. I’m kind of excited.

In other news it’s my favorite time of year in the garden.

tomato

squash

beans

Everything is looking hopeful and healthy.

All of this means so much, especially today, as I think about all the people closely affected by the horrible, horrible events in Orlando. The words that keep running through my mind are Mary Oliver’s lines from “Invitation,” one of my favorite poems in her collection Red Bird:

it is a serious
thing
just to be alive
on this fresh
morning
in this broken world.

 

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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