8 Oct

Generally speaking I am not on the cutting edge of the new patterns that come out.  Occasionally I will finish something within a month or two of its release, but that is very rare.  This hat is not an example of one of those rare occasions.  “Shwook” came out in honor of the 2014 Shetland Wool Week event, so probably all the other Shwook knitters posted their goods long ago.  Lately Ravelry has been filled with the new 2015 pattern, which is adorable and features sheep.

I am thinking now that I should have looked up what a shwook is before posting this.  Any guesses?*


This hat is using overly-long-stashed yarn in colors that probably went out ten years ago.  At one point, I had an online sale problem and purchased yarn willy-nilly with no project in mind.  In time, with experience and a non-shrinking stash, my habits have changed.  But this yarn was still hanging around: Rowanspun 4-ply, in Sugar, Stone, Squirrel, Temptation, and Turkish.  The yarn was thinner than required, but the end result is a perfectly-fitting beanie.


I think this is only the second stranded hat I’ve completed.  And it’s definitely the first time I’ve blocked with a dinner plate.


How do you like that?  Makes the center cap portion look mighty fine, if I do say so myself!


More specs on my Ravelry project page.

I have almost 600 yards of yarn left (of around 810 total), so I’m now making a garter-stitch shawl that I’ll edge with feather-and-fan.  I’m using the lighter colors for the main garter triangle, and the purples for the edging.

* OK, my curiosity got the better of me and I consulted The Google.  If you want an answer before guessing, visit this link

Still knitting

7 Oct

I’m thinking about making a blogging comeback.  My last post here was over three years ago, and I miss writing and interacting in a deeper way than is possible through Ravelry.  My Facebook interactions are of a different nature, not really the place I feel comfortable waxing poetic about animal and plant fibers or cable and lace designs.

In the interim, many things have happened.  I met my husband; reorganized my life to go back to the international health focus I had recently left behind; moved to a French-speaking African country with him and his daughter, found out he was a narcissist (you may not have any idea how scary this can be – just click on any one link from a google search…), and struggled to separate my life from him while finishing an overseas contract.  The day-to-day of getting through life has meant a lot less energy for maintaining my blogging presence or social media contacts.

But I’m about to leave all that behind and relocate back to the U.S.  And I have missed posting here and carrying on discussions with you all.  Many of you may have moved on to Facebook and Ravelry forums, but I for one think the blog has some staying power and offers different opportunities for sharing and exploring.

Plus, I am definitely still knitting.  Of all the coping mechanisms to get me through relocating internationally (and returning), trading the single life for a nightmare marriage (and returning), and a generally high-stress professional situation, it is the meditatively healing qualities of a good knitting habit.  I can’t say I’ve been a great finisher, but I have maintained a steady increase in starting projects, learning or solidifying techniques, and I have also been teaching my neighbor to knit.

I’ve also tried some new yarns, and done a bit of dreaming, sketching, and designing.  One of my goals for the coming year or two is to complete the many half-baked designs in my sketchbook and knitting basket.  I would love to share some finished patterns with the world.

To leave you with some appropriate eye candy, a melange of African sensibilities and knitted design, here are a couple of photos of musician Stromae’s line of knitted clothing in graphic designs inspired by African print cotton cloth.  I guess this isn’t cutting edge news, but I’m into it!  Click to see larger versions.

Mosaert stromae-MOSAERT-clothing-line-capsule-2-polo-green-1

Smothered in hats. I mean love.

27 Jul

This post is not meant to be sad, but it is a result of my aunt recently passing away. She struggled with cancer for a couple of years, and was very brave in the face of the odds. I was away during much of this time, and all I could do was support her via email. And knit her things. I made her a purple lace shawl, and several hats. In fact, I did not realize how many hats I had sent her until I was up at her house this past month and came across them all. If you can represent caring and love through knitting, I loved her this much, and more.

Carrboro Craft Market – my first public appearance!

23 Jul

On July 14th, I participated in my first craft market ever – it was fun to run around getting ready, visiting local thrift shops for display ideas and items. I picked up a wooden sliding door with slats from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and some metal cubes from PTA Thrift, and I was on my way.

Thanks to Pinterest, I received a lot of comments on my business card display, which was fanning my MOO photo cards around a slinky. Great idea, whoever was responsible for that one!

The craft market took place this month at Open Eye Cafe, where it will also be on August 11th. We had some decent foot traffic considering it was a VERY hot day, and thanks to my friends that stopped by to support me! I had a few friend sales and a couple of stranger sales. Hopefully next month will be even better, with more vendors and more of the community out and about!


(Mel makes a guest appearance… checking out my African print cover journals!)

I also met Meli and Gina, fellow local Etsians, for the first time – Meli had a blog post up the day after!

African fabric collecting

27 Jun

More and more I feel excited to come home after being away. Traveling can be exhilarating, even to a place I already know, like Kinshasa. At the end of the day, though, I like my creature comforts, my routine, my home.

One of my goals while in Kinshasa these past few weeks was to collect some more African print fabric. This time, I visited three main places. One is a narrow alleyway near the Beach, which is the spot where all of the boats from Brazzaville (across the river), barges from up river, and vessels from Matadi (the main ocean port) land when they get to Kinshasa. The women selling the fabric in the alleyway must have first pick from vendors off the boats. My favorite find there was this lovely lavender and gold design.

Another pricier spot is Woodin, which has similar quality cloth but a sleeker and more coordinated selection of designs. They have a storefront a few blocks off of Kinshasa’s main boulevard, 30 Juin. Next door is Vlisco, which makes amazing fashion primarily from African print cottons, but is generally way out of the price range! This is a print I brought home from Woodin, in a similar color scheme as above.

We also drove down to the crazy and action-packed Avenue du Commerce, which you can imagine is the downtown center of commercial activity. After “honing in on it” for a while (my expression when I don’t know the exact location of the destination…), we finally located the Utex factory store, called Lambada. I love the strong, bright colors of many of their selections, such as this abstract floral.

But I will admit that some of my favorites are those you wouldn’t imagine wearing on a shirt or dress, such as chickens and spark plugs! (Not together…) The chickens will make a super shirt for my friend Ezra, who has grown out of the first one I brought him.

Ideas to Action

3 Jun


More and more I find myself discussing with friends online ways in which we can interact and structure our time around supporting each other’s creative and business endeavors. 

When I am not under undue stress from work and life responsibilities, my mind is a fount of ideas. The challenge I face is how to bring those ideas to fruition, how to lay out a plan and organize the work. I am constantly saying, one day I’m going to make a film, write a novel, build an installation project. The ideas are there, but the structure and accountability is not. 

Several methods we’ve identified recently that I think will motivate and give the proper push from idea to action include:

  1. Establishing a weekly meeting time to work on individual business activities with a like-minded friend. 
  2. Scheduling a weekly virtual writing group to alternatively write at the same time for 1-2 hours, checking in on FB/Gmail/Skype, or to vet our work with the group when we’re ready for critique. 
  3. Starting an Action Cafe like the one Claire Mulvaney describes. I love the notion of a semi-formal but mostly informal space for sharing ideas and challenges, and soliciting potential solutions from a group of relaxed creative thinkers. This approach can involve some gentle structure, such as brainstorming on giant paper with bright markers, giving the beneficiary something concrete to take home and work from. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that I’ll be able to join the Action Cafes taking place in Ireland any time soon, but perhaps I will work to evolve one in my neighborhood!

What ideas do you have to evolve from ideas to action? 


Integration of global and local

27 May


Yesterday, I met a friend of a friend that is visiting Kinshasa – a somewhat rare happening that Kinshasa is visited by a bona fide tourist! However, this post is not about who visits Kinshasa and who doesn’t.

Rather, it is about shifting priorities.

Meeting him in this environment, I’m surrounded by people that have foreign service careers, which is truly admirable, because to be an FSO, one gains a lot but also sacrifices a lot in terms of maintaining a relationship with one community long term. Instead, it can be very disrupting to hop around every two to five years, make new friends, and get reinstalled.

This person is only visiting, taking a jaunt to South Africa and Congo before returning to his life in the greater Chicago area. In Chicago, he has worked with a company that delivered fresh produce to local consumers. Now he is working part time with a small farmer to market some very specific goods, such as giardiniera.

The reason his story was interesting to me – in addition to receiving a very brief introduction to anaerobic composting to efficiently break down and produce methane gas that can be fed into rudimentary greenhouses to extend the growing season, to which I said, That must be like Compost +1, a term he didn’t realize I made up – is that he seemed to be in transition, shifting from previous priorities to a more local connection.

This need for connections is a notion I touched on in my last post on community, because I feel it acutely. Growing up in the first generation that began communicating via email, leading to numerous amazing means of staying linked in online, I’ve developed the skills to network internationally, find products I need and have them shipped from anywhere on the planet, work in other languages and cultures to mobilize public health resources to save lives, and keep myself employed.

But I miss certain experiences, like handwritten letters. I want that feeling of stepping into a new store in town because I noticed the changing facade of the block, or because my colleague or neighbor knows the owner. I want it to be personal, not sanitized or forced by Facebook.

This is not news, that many of us have decided to grow ourselves or buy as much of our food goods as possible from people that live down the road. I’m simply underlining its importance, the importance of knowing whether or not the process lived up to organic standards and being able to talk to the farmer about it, the importance of sometimes meeting the chicken that produced the eggs, seeing the hives that yielded the honey.

Yesterday, we also talked about community-supported agriculture (CSA) delivery companies. I discovered that in 2009, just such a company (and probably now more than one) was established in the Triangle area, the perfect solution to my inability to participate in CSAs when I only had a bicycle and couldn’t always make it to the pickup point and negotiate veggie transport.

So now the question is how does that process happen? What does the path look like transitioning from a life of global virtual networking to bringing it back to the local, and what does the integration of these two worlds look like?


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