Tag: shawls

Unraveled Wednesday: Summer Reads and the End of the Fade 13

School here starts on Monday, and this week is full of orientation week events. It already feels like things are in full swing, so before I get totally swept up in the current of a new academic year, I want to tell you about a few things I’ve read since my last Unraveled Wednesday post.

The biggie is Les Miserables.* This book is huge in every way. I almost feel like if I keep reading it I’ll eventually find all the answers to everything. The “digressions” are insane–we’re talking thirty, forty, fifty pages. But just about the time I’d start to feel frustrated with the side path Hugo was taking, I’d realize that he was heading toward the absolute heart of everything. He talks about the “spectacle of the human soul,” the “infinity that each man carries within him,” and he digs into the details. The way Hugo manages to put so much of life that seemed beyond language into words is staggering. I can’t begin to describe here the experience of reading this book, and I won’t go on about it. For the record, though, it will be alive in me forever, and I plan to read it again, and again, and probably again after that.

The other notable book I read was Joseph Cambell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This is one of those books that it seems like everyone has read bits of but that not that many people have actually taken the time to read cover to cover. Having read it cover to cover, I can see why. In a lot of it, Campell’s focus is on giving examples to flesh out his idea of what he calls the Monomyth. In many cases he doesn’t explain the logic by which he chooses which myths to include in his analysis, and it almost feels like he’s picking the things that work to support his idea and ignoring the things that don’t. That said, there are parts of the book that are downright, bedrock, life-changing interesting! I’ll just give you one example.

The first chapter includes a fascinating account of how psychoanalysis now does what myth and ritual did for people of the past. Campbell points to Freud’s conception of the Oedipus complex as the main cause of our “adult failure to behave like rational beings,” and he says:

The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind–whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin’s caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. . . . They are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry the keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self.

Riveting stuff!

Finally, I wanted to mention Charles Frazier’s Varina about the life Varina Davis, wife of confederate president Jefferson Davis. I didn’t like this book well as Cold Mountain, but I’m glad I read it. It was not what I expected, and I learned some things I didn’t know.

Now, on to KNITTING!!

I have just added the last color to my Find Your Fade shawl.

My plan is to join Dana over at Yards of Happiness for her Tecumseh knit along. That starts after Labor Day, so I’m setting September 2nd as my Fade deadline. Normally, that would not seem at all difficult, but with the craziness of school’s starting I’m not so sure. Wish me luck! I cannot WAIT to wear this beast!

Be sure to head over to As Kat Knits to see what others are reading and knitting this week!

 

*Julie Rose’s translation is incredible. Unless you’re reading this in French, I can’t imagine a better way to go.

Caffeinated 12

Remember six months ago when I finished the Caffeinated shawl? No? Well, I’m not surprised. I didn’t say much about it and didn’t even get around to photographing it until today. Blame it on this crazy year.

Despite the delay, I am stoked about this shawl. The minute the pattern came out I knew I had to knit it. I love the graphic elements and the combination of double knitting and brioche.

The pattern isn’t the easiest to follow, but once you figure out what’s going on in each section and get into a groove, it’s a lot of fun to see the different kinds of stitches build on each other. Besides the double knitting and the regular two-color brioche, the designer has included a big section of alternating brioche stripes. You can see it in between the caffeine and dopamine molecules above. For this part, you work one whole row (right and wrong side) with one color and then switch to the other color. I really like the effect.

An added plus is that I think this shawl is going to be exceptionally easy to wear. I wondered about this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it seemed like the double layer of fabric might affect the drape and make the shawl feel bulky and unmanageable. Add to this the fact that the FO isn’t particularly big so you don’t have long ends to wrap and tie to get the adjustment just right, and I had the tiniest suspicion that this might be something I enjoyed looking at more than actually using.

I’m so happy to be wrong! The asymmetrical crescent shape hugs my shoulders beautifully.

I threw this on with no mirror and didn’t adjust it once before Paul took these pictures about halfway through our day. It stayed put with one little flip of the ends.

In other news, this has been quite a summer. The minute school was out, we left for Texas to spend some time with my mom. While we were on the way down, we learned that a dear friend had suffered a massive heart attack on vacation and passed away. I still can’t believe it.

After we got back to Tennessee, I dove into teaching at an intensive summer institute, and the day before that was set to wrap up, my sweet Daddy had a stroke. Thank heavens, he’s doing better than ever now, but there was a week or two when things were pretty scary.

We got to enjoy a wonderful visit from close friends we don’t see nearly enough of. There was even knitting!

 

And then the week before last, we got the sad news that my cousin Mark had passed away. He had been fighting Multiple Systems Atrophy for years, so it wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t make it any less sad.

Daddy and I drove to Memphis for the funeral, and I took this picture during one of the in-between times. Daddy napping, me knitting . . .

So life is life. As always, I am beyond grateful for the comfort and peace that knitting offers and for the wonderful community of knitters I’m so lucky to be part of. Thank you for reading, my friends. Though I have been behind with commenting, I have been keeping up with everyone’s posts. They have been rain in the desert. Thank you!

Unraveled Wednesday Update 4

Summer teaching is in full swing, so progress on both the knitting and reading fronts has been slow. My Fade is coming along, though, and what a fun knit! The pattern is easy, but you’ve always got the next color shift to anticipate, so it doesn’t get boring. I’m just about halfway through.

As for reading, I am inching toward the end of Les Misérables but will save talking about that for another post. Two books that I finished before summer school started but didn’t manage to tell you about are The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters, and Celine, by Peter Heller.

Peter Heller’s The Painter is one of my all-time favorite novels, so I read anything he writes. Celine is entertaining, but it’s no The Painter. I liked the characters and found the story compelling, but it was like watching an episode of Law and Order and trying to compare it to The Godfather. The two books are worlds apart. I’m glad I read Celine, but it’s not going to hang around in my brain.


As for The Little Stranger, I loved the “The House of Usher” vibe, and the story held my attention all the way through, but the ending . . . meh. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t go into detail. I’ll just say that with a stronger finish it could have been exceptional. As with Celine, I’m not sorry I read it, but I was hoping for more.

That’s it for me today. I’m off to grade papers. Check out Unraveled Wednesday over at As Kat Knits to see what other people are knitting and reading this week. Be well, my friends.

In the good things department . . . 22

Hello, my friends. I’m just popping in to share a quick update on my Find Your Fade shawl. It’s coming along!

 

We went down to the creek near our house today for a little summertime R and R. We took Django and did a bit of hiking and splashing around in the water, and I even managed to spend a few minutes knitting in the sun while we dried out.



I hope you are safe and well and happy and finding lots of time to knit now that the days are warmer and longer and a little bit more relaxed.

Unraveled Wednesday 7

Hi, Friends! I’m checking in for Unraveled Wednesday. It’s felt like I was one of the few people on the planet who hadn’t read All the Light We Cannot See, but no more. I’ve got just a few pages left, and I now understand why my mom and my aunt and my friends have been talking about it so much. It’s a great read!

I kept meaning to pick it up, but something in the back of my mind kept telling me the plot seemed contrived. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The blind girl and the model making father and the radio boy genius are presented and brought together so beautifully by the author that the narrative that results in their meeting seems like the most natural thing in the world. Plus, there are all kinds of fascinating details about life in occupied France during World War II, and there’s a mystery that plays out involving a hidden diamond. I absolutely recommend this book.

On the knitting front, I’ve cast on for Caffeinated. This is my first try at brioche, so I had a couple of false starts, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’m really enjoying it. Caffeinated includes both brioche and double knitting. I can’t wait to see how they come together!

I’ve got a ton of work to do to prepare for my marathon work Thursday, so I’ll keep this brief. I hope everyone is making it through the last of winter okay and getting in LOTS OF KNITTING!!

I Freed My Fade! 24

I finished my Free Your Fade shawl! I actually cast off the week before school started, but between the lack of sunlight and the craziness of the beginning of the semester, I couldn’t get pictures until today. Even this afternoon, the sunlight was a bit meagre, but I think it might be as good as we’re going to get for awhile. So . . . here’s my first fade!

This is a well written, fun-to-knit pattern. It’s absolutely straightforward, but the eyelet rows keep it from becoming boring. Plus, I love the picot bind-off. It’s one of my favorites, both in the knitting and in the look of the end result.

The one thing that makes me think this shawl won’t get as much wear as some of my others is the DK weight yarn. The pattern is written for both fingering and DK weight versions, but I opted for the DK. I didn’t realize how much I’d gotten used to wearing fingering weight scarves and shawls, though, and as it turns out, I really prefer them. Somehow, the DK works for The Rain Outside, so I’m not entirely sure what the difference is. I do know I’ll probably end up saving this piece for the super cold days when something bulkier seems like the way to go.


And then there’s the fading. Why is this so much fun? It’s ridiculous how much I enjoyed watching it happen each time. I can see why the much larger Find Your Fade is such an addictive knit. As a matter of fact, while I was deep into knitting the Free Your Fade, Miss Babs was having their Annual Gratitude Sale where everything is 20% off. I went a little crazy with the Sojourn fingering.

Here’s what I ended up with.

 

Now I can spend a year or so changing my mind about which color combination to use. First. Since there’s more than enough yarn for two Find Your Fade shawls. Oops.

I’m feeling a little crazed so far in 2018, but having more time to knit is making a huge difference in my frame of mind. Be well, my friends, and knit on!

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More Rain Outside 15

So I’ve said this before, but The Rain Outside shawl has to be one of the most satisfying patterns I’ve ever knit. The long sections of garter stitch are perfect for finding that zoned out knitting groove, that “haven of refuge and sanity,” that knitting provides, and the lace short row panels act like little landmarks that keep things interesting and let you measure your progress.*

Plus, this time I was knitting with Hedgehog Fibres yarn, and the colors reach right down into my soul. “Poison” and “Ruin.” Lordy.

And look at the wrap and the drape. Every way I fling this shawl around myself it stays put. Some of the commenters on Ravelry mention that they don’t like the drawn-in top edge, but I think that’s one of the things that makes it so wearable. It gives it just enough structure to help it hold on around your neck and shoulders.

I’m not planning to knit a third The Rain Outside right away, but I’ve got it in my mental inventory now, and some day, it will be just the thing.

I’m thinking my next shawl might have to be a Find Your Fade. By the time I get around to it, I’ll be the last person on the planet to knit one, but oh well . . . It’s not a race, right? I still haven’t knit a pair of Hermione’s Everyday socks, and that hasn’t killed me. Yet!

On an entirely different note, I’m thinking about a redesign for the blog. What do you think? Do you like it when a blog you’ve gotten used to changes its look, or do you prefer for things to stay like they are? I’d be interested in feedback if you have it.

 

*This wonderful description of knitting is from Susan Gordon Lydon’s Knitting Heaven and Earth: “When I am knitting, I can withstand boredom, inactivity, even conversations that would normally make me squirm with restlessness. It is as though I have a little portable world of my own wherever I go, a haven of refuge and sanity.”

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Funtimes in Babylon 10

Life has been especially lifey lately. As a consequence I’ve found it necessary to cast on many things. Well, just three things, but that’s two beyond my comfort zone, especially since I still have a couple of UFOs in the wings.

The first cast on is something I actually mentioned a couple of posts ago but haven’t really talked about. It’s Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from the book Victorian Lace Today. Here is a picture, but you can’t tell much. It’s destined to look like a blob as long as it’s on the needles.

This is the most challenging lace project I’ve ever attempted. A couple of years ago, I knit Hilary Latimer’s Mystery Knit Along Shawl and loved the way the painstaking, careful work of knitting it actually turned out to be very relaxing. I had to pay attention so absolutely that when I’d come up for air it was almost like I’d spent the time taking a rejuvenating nap. My mind would be clear, and I’d be refreshed and ready for whatever was next.

I’m hoping the Spider’s Web Shawl will give me a similar experience, but I’m not quite far along enough to tell. The thing that motivated me to attempt this pattern was actually the yarn. The yarn I’m using is an airy, soft, almost luminescent, lace-weight, mostly mohair blend that came from a couple of very special goats we know.

We met Gracie and her brother Reuben when they were babies. They belonged to our dear friend Marcia who runs Good Fibrations. Somewhere I have a picture of Paul holding Gracie the day we met her. I think she was only a week or so old at that point. It’s insanely sweet, and if I ever find it, I’ll show it to you.

Anyway, Gracie and Reuben now live with our friends, Ann and Trish, over at Out in Jupiter Farm. Here’s Paul with Gracie at their place last year.

Ann and Trish took the fiber from Gracie and Reuben’s first shearing and turned it into an out-of-this-world laceweight yarn, and that is the yarn I’m using for my Spider’s Web Shawl. I’m hoping to do it justice. I’ll keep you posted.

So that was the first wild-hair cast on. Remember the Inlet cardigan? It still has no sleeves. I just wasn’t in a sleeve knitting mood, ya know? The Spider’s Web Shawl requires concentration, and it’s gotten too warm to work on the Zigzag Blanket, so there were some knitting opportunities cropping up when I didn’t have anything to knit!

And there was stress. It’s the absolute craziest time of the year for me workwise. So one night when it was very very late and I was still sitting at my desk, I decided the only sane thing to do was cast on a project I knew I’d love because I’ve knit the exact same thing in the exact same yarn once before. Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker scarf. In Malabrigo “Archangel.”

I know you understand.

Cast On #3. This one isn’t actually on the needles yet, but that could happen any second. I’ve got the yarn.

Look:

I’ve been dying to knit with some of the wonderful, speckledy Hedgehog Fibres yarn I’ve been seeing everywhere, and after I knit The Rain Outside for Cari, I knew the next one had to be for me and that I had to get myself some of that yarn. I chose “Poison” and “Ruin.” What do you think?

And just in case the cast-on frenzy isn’t over, I ordered the two skeins of “Sangria” at the top of the post. I’m so not sorry.

 

*Father John Misty’s Funtimes in Babylon has felt relevant lately.

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The Rain Outside 10

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed knitting something as much as I enjoyed knitting The Rain Outside. What a great pattern! I will be forever indebted to Dana over at Yards of Happiness for posting gorgeous version after gorgeous version after gorgeous version of this design until I could no longer resist casting on for one myself.

The lace short row panels provide the perfect amount of interest to keep the garter stitch from becoming monotonous.

And the shape of the shawl–slightly drawn in at the cast-on edge and stretchy and open on the outer edge–make it ideal for wrapping around your neck or shoulders and staying put.

The yarn I used for my version is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Crackpaca. It’s a blend of 45% Merino wool, 45% Alpaca, and 10% silk. It was lovely to handle while knitting, but I’ll have to wait for a report from my friend Cari to hear how it is to wear. I knit this shawl for her because sometimes life is hard, and I needed a way to remind her that I love her and am here for her even when we can’t be geographically close.

I’m going to make another one of these for myself. In fact, I went ahead and ordered the yarn–Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in “Wildflowers” and “Dove.” This seems like an ideal travel project, so my plan is to go ahead and wind the balls and put them in a project bag along with the pattern and needles. Then, the next time I need to grab something on the way out the door, I’ll be all set.

In the meantime I’ve cast on for my first epic lace project, Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from her book Victorian Lace Today. I needed something worthy of the incredibly special yarn I’m using. More about that later . . .

I hope you are enjoying the Spring weather and getting to do lots of knitting. I’ve been behind on commenting lately, but please know I’m reading and enjoying everyone’s wonderful blog posts!

Shearing Day and a Sneak Peek 10

Far and away, one of the best parts of living where we live now in Northeastern Tennessee is the huge fiber community. Yesterday, we got to help our friends Brad and Ruth Ann with shearing day. Their farm is called Two Roots Alpacas.

It was a beautiful day.

Here’s Ruth Ann providing a little moral support before shearing.

And here is Paul doing a little friendly herding afterwards.

These are some of the bags of fleece, set aside for processing later.

I spent the day drawing up injections but had plenty of breaks for knitting in between.

I’ll just note in passing that the “two roots” part of the name has to do with the vineyard that Brad and Ruth Ann run and that we were richly rewarded with amazing wine after all the work was done. You can see part of the vineyard here in the background.

And did I mention there was a baby?! Alpaca babies are called crias, and this one’s name is Storm. He was born last week during one of the recent bouts of crazy weather we’ve been having, and ooooh, my heavens! The CUTE!!!

It’s a busy week. Between work and the normal life things, there hasn’t been a ton of time for knitting, but I’ve always got something with me. This afternoon we’re going to be running errands, and I plan to work on a very special surprise project for my BFF. I don’t want to say too much, but here’s a sneak peek.

What are you up to this week? I’m loving all the shawls I’ve been seeing lately and am thinking there’s got to be a Find Your Fade in my future. I was resisting at first because there are so many other things I want to knit, but I’m pretty sure Marilyn’s slew of gorgeous Fades over at Yarn, Books & Roses has effectively decimated my resolve!