Blog

Happiness is . . . 6

There’s a new baby girl in our clan, and you know what that means. Green light on all the tiny handknits! For starters, I worked up a little Abernathy Cardigan. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but it has an eyelet yoked collar that ramps up the sweetness big time. The yarn is Knit Circus Greatest of Ease Fingering in the “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy” colorway.

Our new baby girl has an older brother who I’m sure is much more interested in things that come in the mail at this stage than she is, so I knit a little elephant for him. I turned to Susan B. Anderson’s Wee Ones Seamless Knit Toys for the pattern and used Cascade 220 Superwash because I had plenty of colors on hand to choose from and it’s washable.

Look at his precious tail!

And the tiny sweater! It absolutely undoes me. I want to knit a whole tiny elephant wardrobe!

While we’re on the topic of happy-making things, Knit Potion now has a logo. I really have no idea what I’ll do with it, but I love it so much! What do you think?

Finally, an FO!!!!! 16

Woohoooo!!! I finally have an FO to share. The Tecumseh sweater by Caitlin Hunter is such a great knit! There is just enough colorwork to keep things interesting; you don’t have any seams to fiddle with; and the pattern is well written and easy to follow.

This sweater got my attention when it came out. I liked the look of it and loved all of the color variations everyone was coming up with. At the same time, though, I wasn’t sure how I’d like wearing it. The boxy shape with the deep armholes seemed like it might be awkward to move around in and not very flattering on. What got me on board was Dana’s knit along over at Yards of Happiness. I love everything she knits, so I took it as a sign that I should go for it.

I ordered some Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK in Filey, Rose Window, and Endeavor and cast on. I knitted on airplanes, in the ICU, in hotel rooms, and even at home on the rare nights I happened to be there.

I finally finished a week or so ago. And, you know what? Besides being fun to knit, Tecumseh is ultra wearable! I put it on the day I finished it (before I even blocked it!) and wore it all over the place. It was like my best hoodie, only wool! It’s perfect. I seriously want to knit about a hundred more sweaters in this exact same style.


Lead the way! 14

Hello, Knitting Friends! I sure have missed you!

Work kept me extra busy this past year, and then in November a cascade of bad, sad things happened in my family. They are things people face every day, but it’s taken a bit to get through it all.

Life is different on this side. My mother is now living in an assisted living facility near us here in Tennessee. My work has taken a back seat to other things. And I’m trying to get reacquainted with the knitting, reading, spending-time-with-friends routines that keep me sane.

The last time I posted, I was working on the Tecumseh sweater. I still am, but there is finally some real progress. I expect to finish the body today and then be on to the sleeves.

The most important thing I have to say now that I’m back in this space is Holy Moly! Have you seen the discussion going on in the knitting community about diversity? If anyone were ever going to argue that the online world of Instagram and other social media platforms was superficial or disconnected from real life, the last couple of months have put the lie to that.

Some important, challenging, maybe even life changing conversations about race and what inclusion looks like are going on. It’s overwhelming to see the number of people participating and engaging as they try do better–speak more openly, listen more carefully, take risks, be exposed, fall down, get up, move on, and keep going in an effort to build a better community. It’s turning out to be a messy, painful process, but it is beyond way overdue and is essential if we are going to call ourselves any kind of community at all.

Besides doing a lot of listening and thinking, I have been working through a program that many on Instagram have recommended called the Me and White Supremacy Workbook. Its creator Layla F. Saad describes it as “a first-of-its-kind personal anti-racism tool for people holding white privilege to begin to examine and dismantle their complicity in the oppressive system of white supremacy.” If I thought I was one of the good guys, that I wasn’t part of the problem, that I didn’t really have a role to play in this fight, this workbook is making me think again.

The book Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving has also been eye-opening. Irving walks the reader through her journey from well-intentioned fool to the point where she finally begins to realize that when it comes to racial bias, “there’s no such thing as neutral: either I’m intentionally and strategically working against it, or I’m aiding and abetting the system.”

This was echoed for me when I read a post by @antigonanyc on Instagram. Yamil Anglada says it feels like those who have the option of talking about race would

. . . rather be able to read our stories as though they’re pop novels you can put back on a shelf and forget about in a few days or weeks. The fact that they moved you makes you feel good about yourself and how big of a heart you have.
But that’s weak. Anyone with a morsel of human decency can sympathize with accounts of the experiences of BIPoC. It takes a bigger and much stronger person to be moved into action, to say, “not anymore—not on my watch—what do you (BIPoC) need me to do? Lead the way!” That would require humility. It would require work. It would require courage. It would require frequent discomfort.

Link to post on Instagram

Let that sink in.

This work has already made me uncomfortable. I cringe to think of so many things I didn’t know I didn’t know. It’s embarrassing and worse. But here I am. I am realizing that as Irving says, “Color-blindness, a philosophy that denies the way lives play out differently along racial lines, actually maintains the very cycle of silence, ignorance, and denial that needs to be broken for racism to be dismantled.”

In addition to the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve begun following the Instagram accounts of people like @antigonanyc, @su.krita, @knitquiltsewstitch, @tina.say.knits, and @heartbunknitsandmore. I’ve joined the Solidarity Swap being hosted on Ravelry. I’ve started to actively seek out designers and vendors who are Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPoC) and People of Color (PoC).

Do I think these small gestures will change anything? Not right away. Am I worried I’ll not do enough or that I’ll say or do the wrong thing? I am. Is it worth those minor risks to stand up and be counted? Absolutely! And so I say, and for the record, “Let me be moved to action, let me be one who says loudly and clearly, ‘not anymore—not on my watch—what do you (BIPoC) need me to do? Lead the way!’”

“I just knit.” 3

I love this article from the Hartford Courant.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby Alvarez says, “When I knit I don’t think about anything. I just knit. It helps me relax. When I’m sad and feel down I knit. It just makes me feel better. I recommend it to others that are going through issues and stuff.”

Dennis Henderson, 16, from left, Nathan Awuah, 16, and Ruby Alvarez, 16, spend time knitting together during their weekly knitting class at New Visions Alternative School. The school recently started a knitting class that helps students to relax. 

The article by Patrick Raycraft (praycraft@courant.com) and the accompanying photo appear in the January 11, 2019, issue of the Hartford Courant.

Lo scialle della dissolvenza è finito! 11

Okay, so sadly I don’t speak Italian. I just thought the post about my finished Find Your Fade shawl called for something special. Because it is! I LOVED knitting this pattern.

On one hand, so many people have said so many things about this design that I feel like all I can add to the chorus is yes, yes, yes!!

On the other hand, I want to say that this shawl saw me through a long summer of travel back and forth to Texas; of shock and sadness over the loss of a dear friend; of worry after my precious 86-year-old father had a TIA, found out that his carotid artery was almost completely blocked, and then had to undergo major surgery (he’s doing great now, thank goodness); of work stress and life stress and more trying details than I can list.

Through it all, I just kept knitting.

 

 

Choosing the colors, watching each one fade in and out, seeing the character of the shawl change with each new section, working the pattern that took just enough concentration to keep things interesting . . . all of this picked me up, over and over and over again.

And now, I get to wear this beast in all its hugeness!

I’m so convinced that it is one of the best knits ever that I bought the yarn for another one, this time in the original colors. I actually purchased most of these skeins some months ago but had to find three stand-in colors for the ones that were no longer available. Then, to my great delight, Hedgehog Fibres rereleased the three original colors I didn’t have. Joy!

As my BFFF Cari would say, I can neither confirm nor deny that I bought a second full set of these colors in Skinny Singles.

Unraveled Wednesday: Knit this Sweater, Read this Book 8

Woohoo for the Tecumseh sweater!! I’m knitting mine with DWJ. Check out Yards of Happiness for details and pics of Dana’s amazing progress, and join Dana’s Ravelry group for lots of great Tecumseh chat.

I’m knitting with Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK. It’s the first time I’ve knit with this yarn, and I’m definitely a fan. I also absolutely love this sweater pattern!

And happily, it’s Unraveled Wednesday! I’ve been meaning to post about Educated by Tara Westover for ages. I give it my unqualified recommendation. It would be a phenomenal story even if the writing were ordinary, but the writing is masterful. I haven’t been so moved by a book in a very long time.

Other books I’ve read recently are The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee and On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks. I enjoyed both of these immensely.

It’s already late, and 5:30 comes early, so I’m going to keep things short and sweet tonight. I hope you are well my knitting (and book loving!) friends. I’ll be back with more details on Tecumseh soon.

Be sure to stop by As Kat Knits and see what others are reading and knitting today!

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!

Mary Lou’s Wheel 18


My friend Mary Lou died.

I would like to write about her here, about what a good friend she was, about all the things she taught me, about what a generous, beautiful, life affirming energy she was in the world . . . I’ve tried to write about those things, but so far, I haven’t been able to do it.

For now, let me just say that I miss her very much.

In looking for some way to adjust to life without Mary Lou, it occurred to me to ask her husband, Tom, about her spinning wheel. I can see her sitting at it, spinning and laughing and listening, barefoot, happy, at ease as only she could be with the wheel and the world. Seriously, she was so good at living.

Tom was kind enough to let me bring Mary Lou’s wheel home with me.

It’s here with me now, and it does help.

I am spinning on it for this year’s Tour de Fleece which started yesterday. My plan is to spin this glorious BFL top that for some reason makes me think of Mary Lou.

I want to use the 2-ply yarn to knit a pair of socks. I think she would like that.

She was extraordinary. I am so thankful that our lives intersected for awhile.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave