Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Episode 16: How we Connect

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

My question for you:

Have you ever used knitting, or crafting, to cross cultural or social barriers in order to connect with another person?

Stuff I mention in Episode 16:

Intuition shawl by Stacy Elstone:

in her Stress Knits Squishy base, Eliza colorway:

Your wool blend recommendations for summer:




Knit One Crochet Too Elfin Tweed:

Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed:

Tegna by Caitlyn Hunter:

Floozy Cardigan by Libby Jonson:

Kit in FloozyYarn:

There's a FloozyKAL:

Summer Sweater KAL:

Our combined "Next sweaters" list:

Guthrie by Caitlyn Hunter:

Meg by Junko Okamoto:

Jelly Donuts by Teresa Gregorio:

My Annie Lupton Driftwood and Seaglass Test knit:

in Knit Picks Hawthorne Multi in Nob Hill (discontinued color):

and Stroll Tonal Pearlescent:

Ready for Fall by Isabell Kraemer:

Mix and Match by the Knitting Expat:

O' Keeffe by Bristol Ivy:

Piper by Libby Jonson:

Wool and Honey by Andrea Mowry:

Timely by Libby Jonson:

and something... anything... Junko:

Thoughts on Connecting via social media:

Melanie of Braid and tinker Podcast:

and Melanie on Instagram:

Just one of many articles about social media protest:

People skills by Robert Bolton:

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg:

And connecting through craft:

Katinka of Aknitak Creations Podcast:

and Katinka on Instagram:

Day One Journal App:

Emilie on Instagram:

and her plastics graphic:

What the heck are soap nuts?:

Lovebird Lane Yarns:

Our Junko Patterns:


The Twigs:

Lee Beret:




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Episode 15: Honey Extraction

Hillbillly honey gathering and lots of Fall knitting talk:

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry:

Questions I have for you, these are easy ones:

What wool blends have you used and enjoyed?

What is your next sweater project going to be?

Stuff I mention in Episode 15: Honey Extraction

Junko June and July KAL

Plum by Junko Okamoto:

Knit in Moeke Yarns, Elena base:

Igawa by Junko Okamoto:

Rug by Junko Okamoto:

Lee Beret by Junko Okamoto:

Giveaway donation by Lovebird Lane Yarns:

Book, Podcasts, App, Song, and Site recommendations:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:

Also, Gretchen's Happier Podcast:

Book stand for knitting and reading bliss:

Ice Cream for Breakfast:

Recommended by Melanie of the Braid and Tinker Podcast:

Day One Journal App:

Muzzle of Bees by Wilco:

AKC Rally competition for dogs:

And someone's video of a Rally testing:

Backyard Beekeeping:

Knit for Peace:

Fantastic CBC Radio episode on Sagas of the Icelanders:

The Sagas of Icelanders:

Dagmar's 28th Great- Grandfather, Egil!!!:

Test Knit: Intuition Shawl will be released soon by Stacy of StressKnits Yarn:

Stress Knits Yarn Squishy Base, Eliza colorway:

My Muddlings Podcast:

Warm Weather Knitting:

Mae by Andrea Mowry:

in Berroco Remix Light:

PomPom Quarterly Issue 25:

Judoka byLia Moya:

Herrera by Paula Pereira:

Bayadere by Lori Versaci:

to be knit in Classic Elite Song:

My Julia sweater was knit in a 50/50 Classic Elite yarn too:

Dana does lots of projects, even stranded colorwork, in summer weight yarns:

In thinking about the Summer Sweater Knit-along in Very Shannon Forum:

Guthrie by Caitlin Hunter:

in Wool of the Andes Sport:

and Spincycle Dyed in the Wool, Mississippi Marsala:

Great Northern on Ravelry (though not all the patterns have been entered in the data base yet, they are all in the ebook):

Based on styles from Twin Peaks (season 1 is my favorite) here's a blog post on it:

And another post:

Lonely Souls by Teresa Gregorio:

Cherry Pie by Teresa Gregorio:

From Another Place by Leah Coccari-Swift:

Jelly Donuts by Teresa Gregorio:

Stag Wall Hanging by Teresa Gregorio:

Friday, July 20, 2018


After a while, it gets hard to express how much I enjoyed a knit without sounding repetitious.  I say a lot of the same things, especially if it's a favorite designer- and Libby Jonson is one of those.  But, I don't want you to become desensitized to my exuberance about a project, because this was anything but run-of-the-mill.

So I will get the usual, but very true, stuff out of the way:  I did love it!  I found it interesting, even challenging.  And I like to have at least one knit that requires some focus on me at all times.  I also can't wait for the slightest breeze to throw this around my neck.


Some other things I thought as I worked on Zida:

Libby seems a little closer, not halfway around the world, as I knit on Zida.

I feel like I know a designer a little better after knitting several of their patterns.  It's like having a peek into their brain and seeing that it's your kind of place.  And since you know you'll like all of their stuff, it starts to feel like every design is put out there just for you.  I know, such ego.

I took this to a few coffee dates and a couple of restaurants and enjoyed the soft clicking of my wooden needles as an accompaniment to our conversations.  I wonder if my children will remember that sound, subconsciously, and if they hear it later.  Will they be overcome with a sense of dejá vu, like when I smell lotion that makes me think of my mother's blue Deep Magic bottle.  Deep Magic would be a great colorway name.

The color I began with was Gentleman.  No matter how beautiful a solid is, I tend to be impatient to get to the variegated skein and I was impatient with this first garter section... until I hit the gathered bit.  The gathered stitch was something new for me.  There are a lot of things I haven't tried, but the list is shortening as the years go by.  I always enjoy varying combinations of familiar stitches, but when I get to try a completely new one, that's special.  Suddenly Gentleman was hard to leave as I transitioned to the Soft Romance colorway for slip stitch.

The slip stitch section is such a smart, graphic way to tie the lace to the garter.  It was my favorite. Plus, stripes, you know? The fact that each of these striped little sections was small made it like a mini dessert.  You know how restaurants serve those little mini desserts in cups and you order it all demure and seemingly moderate, but you really want a big hunk of chocolate mousse?  It was like that.  It drove my knitting and made me want to hurry to the next bit. With slip stitch stacked on top of garter ridges, stacked on top of gathered welts and connected to variegated lacework- the whole thing feels like garment architecture.

I think I am a texture person.  You know how everyone has a favorite element of knitting- color, shaping, intricate lace, etc.  Well, mine must be texture and lines.  That's why I loved the Rattan, Zelda, We were Seeds, and Marley so much.  All have an element of texture and strong line (so Project Runway).  The thing is, I wouldn't expect a large, lace shawl to be so toned down by those elements, but I love that it is because I don't normally gravitate to lace.

Then there was an aha moment with the slip stitch section when I knew I could do it without relying on my pattern so much.  I love when that happens.  I think I was re-watching Lost with my son when it happened.  It was right when things on the island were getting intense, during season 1, so that's lucky.  When I really "get" what I am knitting I feel like I accomplished something, even if the meat hasn't thawed by seven and if I have a dozen things still undone.  It is something I can hold up to the family and say, "But look, I did this!"  Of course, they're all looking down at devices, but I can say it all the same.

Every time I think of these colors: Gentlemen and Soft Romance, I think of Scarlet and Rhett.  Why? He was the best, but he wasn't really a gentleman and their romance was anything but delicate.  Maybe it's just the fact that I hear them in a southern accent.

I read Gone With the Wind the summer I graduated.  Then I re-read it when my first child wouldn't nurse unless I was laying down (I know. Weird.)  So I spent a lot of the first few months of her life laying down and I mowing through several good books like Imperial Woman.  Gone With the Wind was the best of them, though. Then I read the sequel.. yuck. and a Margaret Mitchell biography...meh.

Details: I knit Zida with US size 4 needles, I think.  I used Red Sock Blue Sock Yarns' Singleton in the beautiful Gentleman and Soft Romance colorways, which seem made for each other and for me.

That's that.  I made no modifications, but I did find the edge of this shaw very forgiving as far as stitch count is concerned.  If I was off by one stitch, once in a while, I would just fiddle with it to avoid having to rip back.  I can't tell at all.

Ramble's done. Have a lovely weekend, friends!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Episode 14: Running the Gamut of Topics

This took a little longer than expected due to computer issues, so if I don't show your Junko June and July project or mention a timely comment, I'm sorry.  I spent every night last week on the phone with Apple Care sorting through my tech problems.  It was like being a teenager again, spending all evening on the phone with that special guy, only it wasn't a rotary phone with an extra long cord, and he was 20 years younger than me, and lives across the country from me, and is not romantically interested in me, or even remotely interested in me, and I will never talk to him again after this.  But, there was a lot of that awkward small talk as various things uploaded.

Episode 14: Running the Gamut of Topics

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
@mysocalledhandmadelife on instagram:
mamatronic on Ravelry:

My Questions for you:

1) What are simple, daily things you can do to grow your happiness?
2) Do you ever not knit something you want in an effort to practice intentional consumption, as in this article? 

Stuff I mention in Episode 14:

Summer Sweater KAL on the Very Shannon forum:

Walk the Block MKAL by RizzaKnits:

My Walk the Block:

Mobility Justice on Nutritious Movement:

Ted Talk with Enrique Peñalosa:

My blog post on Movement in the community:



Moeke Yarns:

Plum sweater:



Flax Sweater by Tin Can Knits:

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman:

Zida Shawl by Libby Jonson:

Juniper Shawl:

to be knit in Julie Asselin Fino:

Intuition test knit for Stacy Elstone:

to be knit in Stress Knit's Eliza colorway:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:

@beginswithac on instagram:

The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne:

and her blog, The Paleo Mom:

Bible Study Fellowship International, my other people:

The Sagas of Icelanders:

Berserks are creepy:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Mystery Knit-along and Thoughts on Walking My Block

How often do you walk your city block?   I walk daily, multiple times, either blissfully in my own little world or looking harried while being dragged behind the hounds.  It's a commitment that is a constant challenge in my neighborhood.  This KAL got me to try knitting while walking and though I probably won't do that too often, it did translate to higher knitting volume while doing all sorts of other stuff like watching pots on the stove, sitting in a dark theatre, and stretching in front of the tv.

More than that, it added some oomph to my commitment to move more.  It brought to mind my grandmother's stories of her family parking downtown on a Sunday to people watch and walk around, as a social outlet.  That is something so lacking in my town, other than one restaurant with a patio bar.  I do see many more runners in the last ten years, but they have earbuds and don't make eye contact.  Maybe it's us that we are in an awkward place between the community vibe of a big city and the natural beauty of a rural environment, which leaves with neither.

But first: The mystery of my Walk the Block MKAL Wrap, by Cassondra Rizzardi, is revealed: yes, it is very cool.

I didn't have the time or spare cash to get the mini skein set from Six and Seven Fibers that was used for the sample knit.  They were really great.  I love Rachel's color sense.  I would happily buy all of her stuff if I could.  However, I was relegated to my leftovers bag, which is actually pretty great.  I found 12 little balls of yarn that looked good together.  I tried to place them in line with the same sort of shared color relation as the mini set, though they are completely different colors.  I just hoped they would compliment each other similarly.  I laid them out in order from top to bottom, just like the skeins Cassondra laid out for the KAL.  So when she picked skeins 8, 9, and 10 from her lineup, I did the same from mine.  This added to the mystery of what shape each section would take.  The only time I changed the order of yarns was when I went with a lighter shade yarn on the third from the last section to avoid having three very dark colors next to each other that obscured the cute pattern made by short row shaping.

The whole experience was very different for me.  I've never done a MKAL and I have never used so many colors for a garment.  It was a big question.

Details: I used US size 2 needles and 12 bits of leftover yarn whose names you can find on my Ravelry project page.  I didn't deviate from the pattern at all except to substitute a color I had used earlier for the third from last short row on the scarf for more contrast.

I knit a good bit of this scarf barefoot and outside.  It was surprisingly easy to knit when distracted, even without looking.  Cassondra was right: you can feel the short row turns and lace wraps and get accustomed to knitting without having to look down.

I have a queue a million miles long, but I wouldn't mind making another one of these.  I'd be interested to see what color combo I could come up with now that I know what the finished product will look like.

Back to the Jack Handey portion of this post.  It's connected because one of the points of the MKAL was to get out and move within our communities.  THat's something I've been thinking a lot about since reading Move Your DNA.  A podcast viewer recently recommended we listen to a Ted Talk with Enrique Peñalosa about how his city, Bogotá, transitioned from mostly car traffic to using city buses in order to reflect a more democratic notion of transit equality.  His goal was to see that the space and movement needs of each citizen were seen as equally valid.  It got me thinking, and reading other things, about how the little amount of time we spend outside, has a lot to do with bending our lives to fit around transportation.  I don't even live in a true urban sprawl area.  There is a grocery store, hardware store, school, doctor's office, park, and church within the distance of a 15 minute bike ride from my house.

A short distance doesn't necessarily mean a safe one, though.  There are certain hours of the day that aren't very safe for me to walk out of my little block.  I have to use highways or roads where drivers speed and try to pass, when they shouldn't, if I am to get anywhere.  It is very unsafe at night and even during school pick up hours.  Just yesterday I saw two cars narrowly avoid colliding on a sharp curve right next to where I had just been walking.  Had it been a moment sooner, and had they crashed, I might have been hurt.  This happens so often.  If I am going to be outdoors, I have to be alert.  Seriously, I have almost been hit more times than I can count and twice it was by a school bus- and only one time did the driver apologize.  People do not expect pedestrians and even give angry gestures and glares, as if to say, "Quit hogging the road with your body width, you nut!"  It seems that the streets are just for cars and loose dogs- the other bane of my existence.

Of course, I can get behind Peñalosa's ideas about green spaces and more streets designated as car- free. But I haven't thought much about urban planning for the future, so his idea that an 80 passenger bus should be given eighty times the space of a single passenger car was interesting.  In other words, he made a bus lane in his city and it encouraged less vehicle traffic while giving those who didn't own a car the ability to travel without grid-lock.  He also asserts that building and maintaining car-free roadways and regular roadways that have less car travel is much more affordable for a city than the usual highway and road repairs, another thing that has never been on my radar.

This led to another Ted Talk with Peter Calthorpe about city layouts that could be equally attractive to political, housing, and environmental interest groups, while being better for a community.  They involve semi-high density neighborhoods with mixed, street-level shops that allow a person to get what they need within a walkable radius.  He also emphasized costs, but goes into the savings per household and in agricultural resources, too.  His ideas sounded great, but it is only a 14 minute talk and just a cursory search online landed me at this article that makes it seem more involved than that.  Here's another article on cities  combatting urban sprawl, if you're interested.

All of this is on the heels of considering the concepts of mobility justice and our failing health, due to sedentarism, which I've discussed some on Episodes 11-13.  These concepts are the ones that have impacted me the most, though I only mention them here.

I don't have strong conclusions to draw about all of these points.  I have always leaned more towards a solitary cabin in the woods kind of life.  We talk a lot about moving one day and cutting costs by living in a place where we definitely wouldn't need multiple cars and, maybe, not even one.  That's even though my husband's job is dependent on the auto industry.  But I am planted where I am, at least for the next few years, so how can I be part of making my city more inviting, equitable, and healthy?  If the opportunity ever came to move toward public transit or walking more, I'd take the bus.

I could also get more involved in city council meetings, though I shudder as I type that, to be a voice in favor of sidewalks, shade trees, and walking paths.

I have also made a commitment, now that I am not driving and sitting all the time out of necessity, to never return to a sedentary way of life.  I'm trying to work lots of practical walking and movement into every day.  It is a challenge in my neighborhood, but even if it is without destination, I am still going to do it.  This really only helps me, but it is an example to my family, at least.

One last thing I can do to make a difference in the community aspect of my city is to make efforts to talk to people I see when I'm out. All kinds of people, unless they've got earbuds in and are in "the zone."  This is not something I could have easily done when I was younger and very shy.  I want to make others feel at ease in my presence when waiting in a line or passing on the street in the evening.  To linger a bit beyond, "How are you?" and, of course, to extend myself to everyone, equally.  We can always be a bit more inviting.  To this end, I am training my dogs (yes, still) so that it will be easier to take them out without too much ridiculous barking at everything with wheels and I carry the bopper (rolled up newspaper) in my pocket.  Hmm, maybe that doesn't look quite so inviting.

(more on Ravelry, Kollabora, Instagram, and Flickr)

How are you contributing to a healthy, equitable, sense of community in you town? Are you vocal in town hall meetings?  Are you chatty?  Give me ideas.

Another post on this wrap is here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Simple Watchman's Cap

I am rarely asked to knit for other people.  It is even rarer that I know the recipient will actually use what I knit for them.  And rarer than that I agree to do it.  There've just been too many unused, donated, trashed, or ripped out (?) gifts for me to waste my time on that.

This hat is the rare kind.  I knit one for my grandfather over ten years ago, but he never wore it because he liked to make a big fold in the brim of his hats when he walked in the winter and I think he felt like it was too small to do that comfortably.  Also, you know how wool/acrylic blends can have little give and kind of inch their way up and off of your head?  Of course, he never told me this, he just laid it on the shelf in his closet with his other hats because it still mattered to him that I made it for him.  Later, my uncle inherited it.  He found it perfect because he didn't roll his beanies and would never have remembered to hand wash a 100% wool hat.  It had the perfect hipster fit for him.

Last year, he asked if I would knit him another one in black.  This is a knit-worthiness moment, guys.  I planned to make it for him for Christmas.  I was going to see him shortly afterward and bring it to him, but my gauge got weird and it looked like something Dumb Donald would be embarrassed to wear.  I planned to immediately re-knit it but he was in and out of the hospital, soccer season started, my son graduated...  Long story, short: I finally finished it... 6 months later, then mailed it... a few weeks later.  I know.  I'm the worst.

(Look!  no eye holes!  See more on Ravelry, Kollabora, Instagram, and Flickr

Details:  I used the exact same pattern as before: Channah Koppel's Ribbed Watchman's Hat and the same yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease, since he liked the fit so much.  This time I used worsted instead of two strands of sport held together.  It felt wrong to buy an acrylic blend for a Christmas gift.  I knew it would be most appreciated, but I still felt dirty when I left Joann.

The whole thing knit up in about two days worth of knitting time.  If I were to make another one for myself or a family member I actually lived with, I would go with real wool.  But unless I'm here to offer to wash it for someone, it needs to be washer and dryer safe.

Basic, inexpensive, and relaxing to work on, and very appreciated- not much more to say about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Honk if you like knitting.

What's the deal with all the walk-knitting talk?  It stems from a recent commitment I made to move more, combined with Cassondra Rizzardi's Mystery Knit-along called Walk The Block MKAL.  That KAL began at just the right time to add motivation to my movement endeavor.

This commitment isn't to "exercise daily" or even to walk, necessarily.  I have always enjoyed getting out for a walk with the dogs in the evening or going on runs, but this is about moving more in between all of that stuff.  A couple of years ago, I learned how important it is to not sit for long periods of time after I injured myself lifting and flinging 50 pound bags of soil (a new 4-H/ crossfit  hybrid class).  The injury wasn't terrible, but it was followed by a time in my life of great stress and lots of driving and sitting around and waiting.  It created a deep pain in my hip that became almost unbearable.

After my grandfather passed away and my grandmother's affairs seemed settled enough, I took 8 weeks to recover from it.  This involved seeing my chiropractor, not riding in a car unless I had to (something about the tilt of the seat really irritated it) and rarely sat on the couch.  That's what it took to overcome what began as a simple pull but was facilitated, by sedentarism, into a full blown ordeal.  And chiropractic isn't cheap.  It is insane how busy a person can be while still being sedentary.

I've been reading Move Your DNA, by Katy Bowman, a book that has cemented my understanding of what happened to my body during that stressful time.  Since I began the book, I started sitting on the floor, whenever  I do sit.  She has this great illustration done by an anthropologist of all the ways he had seen various people sit.  It gave me the idea to vary my positioning every few minutes.  I'm also stretching a lot while sitting and knitting on the floor.  You ask if it's helping? Well, I had really tight adductors in one leg since that aforementioned injury.  After two weeks of floor sitting and stretching only when I knit, I can almost do the splits again.  And the muscles of both legs seem equally relaxed.  No, I don't do the splits while knitting.  That would just be weird.

Look, if it weren't for knitting, I probably wouldn't be sitting at all.  I'd stay busy standing and moving around to do stuff until I collapsed into my bed.  I am that ODed on sitting.  Then Cassondra's MKAL started.  I'd already started standing to knit when, and if, my back felt stiff, but the idea of walking around while doing it seemed like a great way to add variety of movement to my day.  But it also seemed like it would be really hard.

First, the pattern called for 12 little balls of yarn from my stash.  12 color changes doesn't sound portable to me.  Secondly, I live in a place where I have to have my wits about me when walking or running outside.  People drive really fast around the curves and everyone has a loose pit bull to guard their crack.  I'm kidding.  I don't know that it's crack.
So, this pattern would have to be pretty easy to memorize if I were to set out walking with it, and that's just what it is.  Each section of color involves the same stitch pattern repeated for a time.  That time fits perfectly with a nice 45 minute walk. If I remember to alternate the direction in which I turn the project to do each side, the yarn doesn't tangle up with the wrap.  Each section only requires one or two of the little balls at a time.  So, I can toss them in a wrist handle bag, throw the growing scarf over my shoulder, walk out the door, and make a spectacle of myself.

I actually felt kind of inconspicuous.  It looked like I was walking with a little purse and I wasn't having to go super slow, either.  I was surprised that I got a few honks, since I wasn't even doing the splits, but whatever.

This is a funky little scarf, my friends.  It will be a fun wear in the winter.