Happy July 4th!

  1. Pendant Stole
  2. Garden Shawl
  3. Fountain Pen Shawl

 

I don’t have anything special planned for today, and it has been a particularly wet weekend here, so I haven’t joined any of the community outdoor activities either.

But I began watching the “John Adams” miniseries, and while I don’t often feel particularly patriotic, the luxury of living in a free nation I suppose, it makes a big difference to watch a version of history that makes it real.  I feel more connected when I can connect to historical figures through their characters as they are represented on the screen, and to understand the reality of their daily circumstances in the months and years leading up to independence from Britain.

Of course, every account, especially one presented on the screen, is biased and fictionalized to some extent, but I believe that we can learn a lot from fiction, too, and many fiction writers write to teach and to convey a message.  In this case, it is to understand in a way that allows me to put myself in the shoes of some of these historical figures the reasons that they needed to express in a document the truths they held to be self-evident.

Having lived in countries in which people are less free, I know the struggle is important.  In this day and age, we as Americans are still struggling to ensure that these truths, about the rights of humans, that our forefathers held to be self-evident, are manifested in each citizen’s reality, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

So it seems a little disingenuous to me to say “Happy” July 4th, but perhaps “July 4th observed and the struggle continued” is more appropriate to echo my sentiments.  Not as catchy, I realize…

Are you celebrating the 4th?  How are you connecting with the historical significance of the day?

 

Dew Drops Shawl in Freia Handpaints Ombre Lace

Process knitter is the term people use for someone like me, I guess: I love to knit, but sometimes the finished product is not the motivation.  So, at any given time, I have 5, 10, or 20 projects on the needles, all in different stages of completion.  Over the past few months I have not been very disciplined in completing projects that were not intended for special events or holidays, but I’ve been on a tear recently to make some projects that had reached the bind-off stage actually wearable.  This past week has resulted in the blocking of four projects already, and there is a fifth underway.

Today I want to show you the project that made me fall in love with Freia Handpaints laceweight.  Originally I saw the Dew Drops Shawl worked up in the lichen colorway at Looped DC.  Sadly for me, Lichen was not available, so I chose South Beach instead.

 

Ravelry project link

I really love how this turned out.  The yarn feels magnificent, stretchy and cozy all at once, but also substantial: I’m not worried about wearing this shawl out and about because I know it can stand up to the wear.  It won’t have to be a special occasion item.  There was so much stretch that I could have taken the top border beyond the edges of my blocking board if I’d had the space.  As it is, the top edge is about 68″ across, and the point of the triangle is deep enough to cover my back, which will be fantastic for any trips to drafty or high-AC restaurants.

As I was knitting, my cat spent a lot of time with me.  I would gaze into his eyes to reassure him of my love – because after 11 years, he’s still a little insecure at times – and I realized that this colorway mirrors his face.  He has an orange-pink nose, blue-green eyes, and light- to medium-grey stripes.  People often comment on his beautiful markings, but he hasn’t let it go to his head because he’s the sweetest cat ever.

IMG_0645

Sharing the family stash

Over the winter I was recovering.  The past three years were stressful and traumatic for reasons I won’t go into now.  Suffice it to say, recovery for a knitter involves an awful lot of time in the kitchen or living room starting new projects.

I worked on some lace, including a feather-and-fan throw blanket, one of the few projects I picked up consistently while binge-watching whatever I could find on Amazon Prime, and knitted till it was done, unlike the pile of WIPs in my basket.  There were no seams or buttons to stymie me, so it was an easy win.

Ravelry project link

This blanket came from a batch of yarn my mom’s cousin sent me.  Like many of you, I don’t need any help collecting yarn, but I know her good taste and couldn’t refuse when she offered to send me two boxes of her stash.  There were six pairs of wool and mohair skeins, which seemed like they were destined for a specific project, but she could not recall what.  The yarn was familiar to me: we had purchased some together in New Hampshire ages ago to make these longways garter stitch scarves with fringe automatically included:

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Ravelry project link

It didn’t click until I was halfway through the throw that each yarn pairing was intended for a scarf!  I have about half the yarn remaining, so maybe P will get a rainbow throw one day as well.

Most of what she sent was too fine for her to knit, since she has struggled for a long time with rheumatoid arthritis.  There were a few patterns included, so I have offered to knit some up and send them back to her, including this Cable and Lace Raglan from Willow Yarns.

The yarns from the scarf and blanket are from Ward Brook Farm in Candia, NH.  I couldn’t find a website for them, but the Seacoast Harvest Local Food Guide website says this about them:

Sheep farm with a menopausal flock of retired laid back ewes that give wool. The wool is used for spinning supplies, yarn, dyed and spun. Dyes yarn in rainbow colors – the kind you can’t get in a yarn shop.

Hah!

One skein of Freia Handpaints Ombre Sport will get you…

I’ve knitted a shawl and a couple of diagonal scarves in Freia Handpaints that will appear here post-blocking, and now I tried the Ombre Sport for the first time with the Lunar Eclipse pattern.

I think this is the sixth version I’ve knitted so far, and the first one with shifting color.  The arc gives it the familiar stripe going in one direction, shifting from top to bottom, and the edging turns that perpendicular so the shifting color direction is more side to side (sort of – with a crescent shape, all bets are off, as anyone that has tried to drive around New Orleans without a map can tell you!).

Here is a gallery of photos of the hottest off the needles Lunar Eclipse!

 

 

 

Dyeing a little inside

The other day I attended a workshop at The Scrap Exchange, with artist Katherine Soucie, who specializes in (among other things) acid dyeing pre-consumer industrial waste.  I wasn’t sure what all that meant, but essentially we ended up with a giant pile of white nylon hosiery in various manifestations that we tied, scrunched, clamped, and otherwise threw into dye pots of all colors of the rainbow.

We learned how to mix up our dye solutions from powder and water and a little bit of Synthrapol (industrial soap), heat up our dye pots, and watch the magic happen in a no-waste method including re-using dye pots multiple times for different colors.

Fortunately other workshop attendees were experienced creative types that pulled out PVC piping and tie-dyeing techniques to produce some really interesting results!

 

The artist dyed a wall full of industrial waste fabric in the week leading up to the workshop and used it to create an exhibit in the Scrap Exchange’s Cameron Gallery.

I’ve been intrigued by her use of this material as fabric from which she has created amazing patchwork fabrics that have been sewn into wearable fashion.  Check out some of her fashion portfolio here.

So what if I never finish?

Something finished:IMG_1925

This weekend, someone in my life asked me to face one of my demons. This was not an intentional discussion, and I suspect that if this person knew me better, the conversation would have gone in a different direction.

So much of knit blogging discusses stash, Flash Your Stash, Latest Stash Acquisitions, photos upon photos of the endless stuff that we all collect. I even did this in the last post, but mainly to show off a yarn dyer that I like who runs her own business and was raising money for charity.

The consumerist nature of most of it fatigues me a little, but on the other hand, it IS exciting to have all this potential at one’s disposal.

I said something along these lines recently to Mel over at Purling Plans: What is important to me about having a wheel, fleece, a camera, needles, yarn, even dye, is the potential for creation that exists within each of these sets of tools. We combine them to not only create beautiful materials, but eventually produce a garment, which we like to photograph and stick up on the blog. Not all of my materials are used. A lot of them currently sit by the wayside, waiting to go to Good Will or be selected for a project. I’m a self-proclaimed packrat, and I have a hard time getting rid of anything, even those ugly, lonely skeins that I bought way back when, before I knew how to plan my yarn purchases. (Back when I was utterly astounded to read that Eunny kept no stash at all. How was that possible?)

But, this post is not so much about stash. It is about the value of finishing things.

The day after the conversation I haven’t yet told you about, I opened my Interweave Spring 2009 to work on the Fountain Pen Shawl. Pulling out the shawl was a direct result of a previous conversation about finishing things – I picked up a UFO and started working toward finishing. In the magazine, there is a one-pager by Vicki Square that encourages us to start as many projects as we like. The idea is that finishing just for the sake of finishing doesn’t feed the creative juices. There are many other aspects to the type of knitting we do now (compared to the utilitarian fare of my grandmother before, during, and after WWII for example) besides just binding off and sewing on buttons.

My intent is not to just start a million projects and never finish any. But I suppose I have different levels of investment in each object’s finished status. If it’s cold and I really want to wear it, I’ll finish. If a baby is coming along, hopefully I’ll finish! When my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, I knit three hats in no time flat. Socks – I wear ’em lots, so I finish. Holiday gifts? Usually.

If there is a hard deadline, of course I finish. Not a problem.

But for me, knitting is a state of being, a constant activitiy, and part of that state wants meditative repetition, creating a tendency to put something down when I reach a hitch in the work. Another part wants experimentation, which leads to seeking out new patterns, new yarns, new techniques, new visual experiences. So, sure, many times I stop before finishing. This doesn’t mean the project is doomed, but frankly, it bothers me not a bit if it takes three years to complete. Not a bit.

The other day, I was confronted by someone completely confounded by this approach. I was told that I should not start so many things. I was told that the time I spend on knitting could be spent on other activities (Like what? -work. Work!). Sure, I suppose that’s true. I could clean more, read more, watch more movies, exercise more, cook more, pick up another hobby, or simply finish more knitted objects.

I’m content to ignore the advice, because I find that I’m interested enough in finishing. Most of us are more interested in starting, and I find no problem with that, unless you’re broke or there’s no more room in your house.

The aspect of finishing that is not so interesting is the elimination of potential. I know I keep using that word, but I find it’s the essence of why I collect stitch and pattern books, why I swatch, why I like having skeins or bumps hanging around and imagining their final destiny. Once finished, they’ve met their fate, and there isn’t so much left to the imagination.

Maybe my projects are more like large swatches, with the potential to actually become something one day. Would anyone wonder about finishing if all I had were a big box of swatches instead?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a great sense of satisfaction once something is finished, when we wear it around and someone asks about it, even knows that it could be handknitted. We all know that bashful pride when we say, Why yes, I DID make this myself.

In the mean time, I’ll keep plugging away on anything and everything that catches my fancy. This is my pastime, which feeds my need to create, to have color and texture in my life. I see my (slightly disorganized) collection of materials in my living space as a studio, in which I am responsible only to myself.

So what if I never finish?

Taking my knitting to new levels

Hey what do you all think of my idea for a knitted pillow? Only, an image of knitting on a throw pillow! This cracks me up for some reason. I think I’m going to send my mom one for Christmas. And I’ll probably get one for me!

knitted pillow
Knitted throw pillow!

If you have to have one, too, click the link. There are some other items I pasted this image to, like tiles, totes, and Siggs. If you want a t-shirt of some sort, let me know and I’ll put one up!

[The photo is of my Parker Cardigan stitching.]

[Additional update: I won the photo contest yesterday! Thanks to everyone that voted!]

Handmade

Guess what! This Thursday is going to be the inaugural meeting of the Kinshasa SnB! I can’t wait! I don’t know that we have many knitters, but I have two more friends interested in learning, and it should be educational to have other types of stitchers there, too.

I meant to do some photography over the weekend to update some of my Ravelry project descriptions, but, well, I guess I worked on knitting instead. And I was talking to one of my non-knitter friends about knitting, and I got so excited I pulled out a plastic bin of knitted goods, and we took every one out of the bin and tried it on. That would have been a photo opp, socks on hands, hats and scarves and sweaters piled on.

She said, you have a LOT of knitted things.

We sat in the AC with sweaters on and drank tea and talked about Shetland yarn (she’s Scottish), and I knitted. It almost felt like fall on the east coast.

These photos are from the Fells Point fest in Baltimore the weekend of October 3rd, some other types of handmade items instead of my own.

bonobo!
Is it a bonobo?
Who else was obsessed with these 20yrs ago?
Who else was obsessed with these 20yrs ago?
Makes me want to buy some eggs
Makes me want to buy some eggs

Also, thanks WordPress, I hadn’t used the “caption” function before but I like it.