I’m originally from Texas. Did I ever tell you that? I never lived anywhere else until I was 20 years old. The only other states I had ever seen up till then were brief visits in Oklahoma and Kansas.
So you’ll understand what I mean, when I say that the images coming out during the onslaught and aftermath of Harvey were very real and personal to me.
Fortunately for me, the family members I have still living there were not affected by the storm. But I have been to many of these cities and towns. I know these places and although I don’t know these specific people, I recognize these faces.
I don’t have a regular blog for you today. There are a large number of things going on in my life right now. The chief of which is my daughter’s wedding that takes place THIS month, but other things as well, that will brook no further procrastination.
I know my friends and readers will understand that until the end of September my blogs will be brief, even sporadic as I pare down to essentials to meet the demands of this month.
But I didn’t want this week to pass by without being another voice to bring attention to the current and ongoing needs of the people who have been affected by this event. I have been very, very heartened by the outpouring of response from the rest of the country and the world as we have reached to embrace those who are suffering and who will have a long road ahead in rebuilding their lives.
I want to share these links with you and ask you to consider what you can do to be a part of the long distant offer of love, care and friendship to the people who are having to start over.
Autumn is teasing me right now. As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, Autumn is my favorite season. I know people get tired of all of us lovers of this season going on about it. So sorry, but that’s not likely to change any time soon.
Autumn is teasing me by acting as if she had decided to come early this year. The temperatures have dropped a bit just after a week of sweltering weather. In the early mornings and in the evening there is a slight nip in the air. I’ve gone from needing iced tea to my much preferred hot tea as my comfort drink of choice and very likely I will be lighting up a campfire in the next day or two. An evening campfire is one of my all time favorite things to do and I am fortunate enough to have a spot for it just out back.
But I have grown wise to Autumn’s whimsical ways. She has fooled me before. Shown up for a week or two, prompting me to happily break out my flannel shirts and cozy socks and start planning some really nice recipes fitting for that season. And then, like the flirt she is, she disappears and it’s back to heat and humidity.
But having learned that this is a somewhat regular occurrence I’ve decided to treat this week (if the forecast holds true) as the movie preview just whetting my appetite for the actual release date. I AM sipping my freshly made cup of Earl Grey right now. I am NOT unpacking the flannels and socks just yet. I MAY start a list of eventual cool weather meals to make when Autumn arrives in earnest. It will come. It will come. I just keep saying that to myself.
I have some previews of my own to share. I’ll start with my HO (Half Finished Object) that I am making good progress on. I recently cast on a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks and have been working faithfully away at them. I am knitting with Hiya Hiya 9 inch circular needles. This past spring I learned the magic loop method and I did successfully complete a pair of Mercury Socks with this method, but I am not as crazy about this as many others are. Dealing with a long cable is just too fiddly for me. So I purchased two pair of the 9 inch circulars to see how I felt about this approach and it gave me a chance to try out the Hiya Hiya brand for the first time, which I’m really enjoying. I’m knitting them in tandem, do the cuff on one, then the cuff on the other. Do the leg on one, then the leg on the other. This is how I avoid the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome” that plagues many knitters. I am very close to completing the leg on the second sock and THEN I will have to begin the heel. <Insert Scared Face here>. Since I am a very new sock knitter this is the part that intimidates me most. Every other step to sock knitting is relaxing and enjoyable. But I tell myself:
And, I actually know that I can. I have books, YouTube videos, and sock knitting friends who will cheer me on through the process. I just have to kick past my own internal resistance and just start. Since I’m way behind on my goal of having several hand knit pairs of socks by the time cool weather hits, it’s time to put on my big girl panties and push through.
Here is my progress so far:
I already have several skeins of really beautiful sock yarn waiting in the wings for the next pair. I’m thinking of using the Coven by Voolenvine Yarns that I purchased a few months ago. (See Yarn Buying: Bloodsport)
I may even do another pair of Hermione just to build my confidence. It really is a great pattern and having a few pairs in various colorways would suit me just fine.
Next up is a project I started just this morning.
A couple of years ago a friend of mine gifted me a lovely skein of Noro yarn. To be honest, I often stall on starting projects with especially nice yarns I’ve received since I really want to find a pattern that will do them justice.
But this one had sat for a while and I really felt it was time to begin something with it. Since it is a single skein of just over 100 grams I had to choose a smaller project. I already have some yarn set aside to make some fingerless gloves with. It doesn’t really seem suitable for socks, so I decided to find a nice basic scarf pattern and chose the Bunter Hund it will feature the colors already present nicely I think. I will most likely have to adjust to make a shorter length since I only have one skein, but I think, once finished it will look nice tucked around my favorite denim jacket.
Here’s the progress from this morning:
So in keeping with my theme of previews, if my socks are the “feel good, comfort” movie and the Noro project is the “fun, colorful” movie then next is the Epic preview.
This is a project that is going to take some time, hence Epic. I have decided to make a Geek-A-Long Blanket based on squares from Lattes and Llamas. These are the squares I have made so far:
If I do the full 52 squares I only have 49 more to go.
To all my readers may YOUR season and projects of choice give you immense pleasure. I’d love to see some pics of the things you are working on or thoughts on your favorite seasons.
Today I want to revisit just why I call my blog Knitting in the Apocalypse. In my very first ever post Knitting In the Apocalypse I discussed this in detail. But I want to touch on it again briefly. I find knitting and other artistic and creative expressions to be not only satisfying for their own sakes, but they are also very important to me as acts of self-care and healthy outlets when I am facing stresses or challenges. The things that we all face personally are challenging to us. These are the “small a” apocalypses, only because they impact fewer people.
But there are the larger events, the “big A” apocalypses. These are the ones that happen on a larger, sometimes global scale.
In spite of the name of this blog, I like to keep this a safe space, it is more about what I do to stay in a good, happy, and centered place and less about what issues are causing me concern. Yes, there are large issues at play. Yes, I feel strongly about them. Yes, I do take action as I’m able that reflect my convictions and values. But in the current climate I feel there is enough screaming going on, so on this blog, I just want to talk about yarn, knitting, chickens and all the good and happy things. I want there be a place, however briefly, of calm in this spot on the web.
I cannot, however, fail to acknowledge the big A events without seeming apathetic. This is not a word that describes me.
This week, like most people, I have been following the developments related to North Korea. No matter where you fall on the Left-Right political spectrum the potential for dangerous, even disastrous outcomes here is something that will concern most reasonable people. Hard on its heels were the events in Charlottetown ,VA.
Before I continue on about the things I am doing, the projects I have finished or begun, and share with you the pictures of my newest hand-dyed yarns I would like to say this:
Every now and then turn off the news and spend time on the things that keep you in that good place. There are few things most of us can do that will impact the unfolding events. However, we can build into ourselves strength and resiliency so that we can face and affect how our circle of friends and family, our communities, and cultures continue to grow and move forward.
As for me, I will make more time for making, even if the housework waits another day. I will sit by the campfire and leave my phone inside. I will go out and laugh at the antics of my chickens. I will read stories to my grandson. I will discuss storyline scenarios with my son. I will talk to my daughter and share her excitement about her upcoming wedding.
I encourage you to do the same. Need some alone time to meditate? Need to just go out with friends and just have fun? Need to plant something? Make something? Get lost in a book or entertaining movie? Do it. You will come back better able to face whatever things you still need to face. Build your own peace and strength. It will serve you well to have it in good supply.
Ok, now, enough with Apocalypse portion of this blog, on to the Knitting portion.
This week I have an FO! For those unfamiliar with knitting (and other crafty) lingo that stands for Finished Object. I have completed the Hitchhiker Shawl I have been making for a friend. I still have have to weave in the ends, but there are only two, so not too painful. I was able to use some lovely Malabrigo Rios that I picked up at a recent sale. It is a tonal green with subtle touches of light browns and yellows and it is just beautiful. I had originally started it as a Christmas gift but there are a couple of problems.
One, I am not good at all about waiting to give a gift once it is completed. I get so excited to give it I rarely wait for the event it for which it was intended.
Two, I like Christmas just fine, but Autumn (!) is my favorite time of year and since most of the things I make are hand knitted items made of wool, well, they make great Celebrate Autumn gifts. In this way the recipient can enjoy them as soon as the weather reaches appropriate temperatures.
I have a good amount of leftover yarn and I am most likely going to knit some fingerless gloves from it.
I am still working on the pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks that I began this past week, but I had to pull them out and begin again. As I was working on the cuff of the first sock it seemed a bit too big for me. I had cast on the required number according to the pattern, but I felt they needed to be smaller. As I looked through the pattern I didn’t see what number of stitches I could decrease and still maintain the pattern. But serendipitously I was watching an older episode of Inside Number 23, “Orange on the Brain (39) to be exact, and she mentioned she was working on this same pattern. Just like me she mentioned she needed to decrease the size and as she discussed how she was adjusting it I learned that sets of 4 were how I could decrease on this pattern. So I am going to reduce my cast on stitches and begin again.
The bright side is not only do I now know this information and have added it to the printed pattern for future reference, but I’m getting quite good at the German Twisted Cast on method since I’ve had to practice is quite a bit during this process.
It seems very fitting that I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the very first time (I know, I know. lame!). So it seems especially enjoyable to work on a pattern related to the characters I’m reading about.
As I have made a habit of in the last few posts I will leave you with these shots of my most recent skeins of yarn coming out of my kitchen.
and my first attempt at repeating a colorway and the only one posted today with a name:
In one of my early posts One for the Road I talked about how I like to have around three projects on my needles at a time. I like to have projects going that help advance my skill set and proficiency. I also like to have projects that I don’t really have to think too hard about and can relax while watching a movie or having a conversation without having to worry too much about keeping focused attention on my work.
So for the most part, I am not a monogamous knitter. Recently, however as some projects were completed and others were “frogged” without casting on new ones, I have dwindled down to a single shawl project that I’m working on as a Christmas present. I’m not saying for whom. Spoilers.
I really hadn’t realized I had gotten to this state. Life has been very, VERY hectic lately. I’m slowly turning my property into a homestead. I have chickens, vegetable and herb garden and plans to expand.
My beloved younger daughter is getting married next month and guess who is baking the cakes (plural) for it. Yep. Scary.
I wrangle 2 boys and a pit/lab mix 3 days a week. Adorable, fun, exhausting.
I could go on, but I think you grasp the idea.
Because of all the busyness my mind is in constant “what’s next?” mode and the time and mental energy to sit and consider what else I wanted to be working on was just not there. But pendulums swing.
Now I’ve gone from being monogamous to downright flirtatious. I would use the word Harlot (nods to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee ) but that’s taken.
I am very, very close to finishing the shawl so it was pretty urgent that I start deciding what else needs to be cast on.
First of all, I picked up the project bag to a pair of socks that had languished and after considering for a bit, I chose to start fresh and frog the project back. I still want to continue on my journey toward confident and skilled sock knitter so I took the same yarn and cast on Hermione’s Everyday Socks, still being as busy as I was before I am still working on the cuff of the first sock, but, it’s a start.
Secondly, I spend 3 days a week with the aforementioned boys and dog. I am not really willing to take any knitting projects with me because if young mister or the pup got ahold of it, there would be tears. Mostly mine. But to not have ANY projects to work on while I am there is not to my liking. So I decided to dust off my crochet hook and do some stash busting by starting a simple granny stripe blanket to take with me. I am far less concerned about having to pull back a bit on a crochet project than I would be to try and repair tangles or damage on a knitted project. I’m still working on the foundation row for this since I decided to learn how to do the Foundation Single Crochet Stitch to begin it.
I should have this ready to travel in the next day or two.
I also received the gift of some nice hemp yarn.
I’ve wanted to try out this fiber for some time now, so I was delighted with the gift. Because it is a stiffer texture than the fibers I usually work with I’m leaning toward a nice farmer’s market type shopping bag. It is a little less than 200 yards so it would have to be a medium sized bag. I’m still perusing Ravelry and Pinterest trying to decide on a pattern. Suggestions?
Finally, this seems to be the month for reviving old skills. As I mentioned, my daughter is getting married next month. I have found the perfect cross stitch pattern that I would like to make for the event. I feel safe posting about this here. She is a busy working woman, preparing for a wedding and NOT a knitter, so my secret should be safe. However, I will save the details and the photo of the completed project until after it has been given to the new couple, just to be on the safe side. This would be the ONE time she decided she needed to read Mom’s blog.
So, the current tally is:
2 knitting projects on the needles
1 pending project
1 crochet project
and a cross stitch project.
I think that pendulum may have swung just a bit too far.
Before I go, let me just share a few of the new colorways that have been coming out of my kitchen:
There’s a quote from the movie “Shadowlands”, which is a peek into the life of C.S. Lewis, that comes to mind from time to time:
“I’ve always found this a trying time of the year. The leaves not yet out, mud everywhere you go. Frosty mornings gone. Sunny mornings not yet come. Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time, not this waiting room of the world.”
One of the things I mentioned in a previous post, A Reason to Celebrate, is how much I love the changing of the seasons. I like to do something to celebrate each one of them as they arrive, even if it’s nothing more than a new set of flannel pajamas and a pumpkin spiced latte when Autumn arrives. So I love each new season as it arrives but, as Lewis recognized, there is that in between point that leaves a lot to be desired.
In the past several weeks I have begun diving into the world of hand dyeing yarn and it has been fun! I have been dreaming and building toward this for some time now. It all started with stalking various Indie Dyers on YouTube and Instagram whose colorways could bankrupt me for decades if I bought all that I would like to own. I blogged earlier about the experience of buying from the very popular Kristen of Yarngasm Podcast in my post, Yarn Buying: Bloodsport.
I have a Yarn Bucket List page in my Bullet Journal of different folks I want to buy from.
I’ve been reading books, I took a class, I have watched numerous YouTube tutorials, and picked the brains of local friends with experience. I was on a mission!
During this time I was also slowly gathering the supplies I would need to launch into this new (to me) art. Finally, I decided it was time to get started.
I don’t know about you, but I always want to be a prodigy at a new venture. Always. When I get started I want it to all come naturally, as if I was born to do this. When I show my work I want to hear the “ooohs” and “aaaahs” as folks look wonderingly at my work and wonder why they bother going to art museums. 🙂 Perhaps, that is too much to ask?
Not to worry. In most cases, any new art or craft will quickly give you a reality check.
As I prepared my dye pots and undyed wool, oh so carefully, referring back to notes or tutorials I began my process. One of the very first things I learned from this is that I had to “Surrender the Outcome”. You can be careful and focused, you can refine your technique but, to some degree, the dye pot’s gonna do, what the dye pot’s gonna do”.
Both turned out well and I was happy with the colors, but there was a lot more blending than I was originally going for.
Just like the first small eggs from my backyard chickens, not bad, but we can do better.
So I asked more questions, gathered more info and soon I was getting this:
This was the “Persevere” part of the lesson.
I’m planning on doing a lot more colorways and I have more plans in the works.
But here’s what I want to leave you with today: When you are learning, growing, or doing whatever to build toward the life you want, remember it is part Surrender and part Persevere. How can you tell how much of each? Everyone discovers that for themselves. That is why there are no two works of art just alike.
Here’s to colorful journeys that go from mud to flowers,
I have a very brief post for you today. But I have a very good reason. Mark, my beloved, decided we needed to escape for a bit. So that is precisely what we did. He made all the arrangements and it was a lovely, relaxing, enjoyable weekend.
Nashville, IN is a charming little town with an artist colony and all manner of cute shops and great food. Did I remember to take pictures? No I did not. Sigh.
But we had a great time. I will admit to being a bit predictable in my acquisition of souvenirs. I bought some books from a thrift books shop and stopped by The Clay Purl and bought a skein of yarn just for meeeeee!!
The Bed and Breakfast was beautiful, spotless and very comfortable. I actually sat down for an extended time in their library and fireplace rooms just to read for a while. Something I have not been able to do in a very, very long time. Blissful.
I would like to say I got to spend some good knitting time, however, there was a problem. As my readers know, I have begun dyeing own yarn. I enjoy the whole process and find using the swift relaxing and meditative as I skein and re-skein the yarns I’m working with. But just this past week, for some inexplicable reason one of my most recent skeins got badly tangled. It was a mess, but a nice yarn and a pretty colorway and, to those who don’t know me, I’m really, really stubborn when it comes to not letting something conquer me. This tangled mass was NOT going to win!
I started detangling Thursday evening. This was continued on Friday evening. We had a 2 hour car ride to Nashville, my car knitting sat quietly to one side as I detangled. After spending the afternoon in Nashville we stayed in our room to relax and watch a movie, still detangling. We got home last evening and at long, loooooooooonng last I won!! Bwahahahaha. Sorry, but that made me a little crazy. I didn’t take a before picture of this mess but here is the skein now beaten into submission:
You can’t really see the pops of darker blue or purple in this picture, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’ve been contemplating colorway names and after the aforementioned experience in getting it to this stage I’ve been considering such names as: