Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gathered Around Me

I'm still working on my Marley shawl, but my Gather, another Andrea Mowry design, is now complete.  It isn't easy to stand outside in a wool/ linen shawl right now.  It's not easy to stand outside, period.  I toughed it out for these pics, then ran in the house flinging the shawl from my body as if it were on fire.  Obviously that's not a reflection on Andrea's pattern.  That, I love.  It is so cool in the Madelinetosh Optic colorway, paired with a black tonal.  This shawl also saw me through a hard time.

Knitting is just knitting, I know that.  But there aren't many things we do today to distract ourselves from hard times that are creative and positive.  Even going for a run can be stressful for my body, if I'm already under a ton of stress.  Subconsciously checking my phone every few seconds wouldn't be super healthy either.  I mean, talking to someone can help... up to a point.  There comes a time in the grief process where there is nothing left to say and you just need to get through the day.  So, to have a distraction that produces good things, both physically and mentally, is a gift.

Details:  I used US size 3 needles and 3 skeins of Madelinetosh Dandelion in the Optic base, along with 2 skeins of Hawthorne Fingering Kettle Dye in Blackbird.  The difference in fiber make-up of the two yarns doesn't hurt a thing.  The linen/flax content of the Dandelion just adds more visual interest to the garter sections.  I've been wanting to use an Optic colorway for so long.  I stalk the Madelinetosh website looking at all of the various versions, often on sale.  The Hawthorne in Blackbird did rub off on my hands a bit while knitting.  I didn't bother putting vinegar in the soak bath with it, but that would have been the more adult thing to do.

There were no modifications, just hours of garter stitch, with a little lace here and there.  It was the low-key thing I needed to work on when my brain and heart hurt.  I worked on it like a robot for a week after the funeral.  If you make things regularly, you know how therapeutic this can be.  I am feeling much better, by the way.  The initial shock of unexpectedly losing a loved one has passed and the sharpest pain has dulled some.

I appreciate all of the kind and loving things you, my friends, said to me here, on Ravelry, and on Instagram.  And this got me thinking about something I'd like your input on.  We had a conversation in Bible study Sunday about comforting others, based on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7, where Paul tells the new church in Corinth that sometimes we suffer like Christ did, but one good outcome of it, other than drawing us closer to Him for comfort, is that we can then comfort other people with the level of comfort we received from Him.

The question I posed was do you feel we are so disconnected from the people around us, due to our connection to the internet and busy lives, that we aren't available to be there as much to offer true comfort to hurting people we know.  I asked this after watching most of the young adults enter the room and immediately look at their phones.  Their heads down and engrossed, unless someone spoke to them, as they sat beside one another in a large circle.  I'd never really noticed that before.  It seemed like a ritualistic way to avoid the awkwardness of confrontation.  Or maybe it's just ritual when our bodies stop moving, to check Twitter or whatever.  I suppose sitting beside people you know and have grown up with at church could feel confrontational at times.  Hmm, this makes it seem as if we are less aware of the people around us, and so would be less likely to comfort them.

There were a few opinions offered in the group.  Some thought that we are too busy to really be there for other people.  Most didn't answer at all- they are a quiet group.  Someone else said that we pursue online friendships as if they are real, then when we are in need, those people can't comfort us because it's not true friendship. That's what I wanted to ask you guys about.  I think that could be true, depending on how genuine we are online, but is it always?

In my experience, online friendships have been very meaningful.  Most of the sympathy shown to me when I lost my grandmother came from online friends, not the real life kind.  Don't get me wrong, the people in my real life who were there for me, were truly there for me.  There were several phone conversations, when I was feeling shocked, guilty, and devastated that I wouldn't trade for anything, and seeing them at the funeral was so encouraging.  All of these sweet people made me feel very loved.  But, the compassion shown to me online, though it is from people who didn't know my grandmother, seemed no less heartfelt.  These friends offered words of sympathy and love that surprised me when I sat down, the day after the funeral, and lethargically pulled out my phone.

There is power in words.  If our connectedness with the world steals some of our focus from the world around us and makes it difficult to relate to people up close, then at least one benefit is that we can be friends to people we wouldn't have otherwise have been able to befriend when we are online.   But certainly we can manage to be mentally present for both.

I don't consider loneliness a big problem now, but there was a stretch of years where I was definitely lonely at times.  It was post-Ravelry, pre-instagram, if you need a reference.  Caring for elderly people who felt bad, raising teenagers,  and having a husband who likes to work a lot can be lonely.  I am very into nurtured relationship.  It's the best part about being in a family and, at that time, it didn't easily happen.  There were lots of tasks for me, but often very little  communication or even eye contact.  I know, the housewife's lament, right?

With God's help, I found my way through that time.  I also started getting into knit-alongs and finding the warmth of community there.  We talked about all sorts of things from the mundane to the serious, all while learning to make stuff.  I knew people were listening to me because they were posting in answer.  And I was getting some of the back and forth of thoughtful conversation that I felt was missing in my life.  It was nice.

I think there are several online friends that I could call out of the blue and say, "I'm in your city, want to grab lunch?" and they'd be happy to do so.  I know of several who are hurting right now like I was in July and they are really in my prayers each day.  Sure, it would be great if we lived down the street from one another, but since I know few people on my street, this is at least something.  

Anyway, that's what my Gather shawl makes me think of.  Rather than the heartache of those days, I think of the kindness of friends gathering around me, virtually, and I feel blessed.

What do you guys think?  Are social media friendships as good as "the real thing" or do they fall short?   Or is it just a question of who you choose for friends- online and locally?

Other posts about this shawl are here and here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Orri Shawl

I am fresh from family vacation, where I had no connection with the outside world for about 2 weeks.   It wasn't the kind of vacation that's all about relaxing.  It was more the making up for lost time kind of trip,and it was really good.  I'm not sure if I needed to be so disconnected.  I did all of the things I usually do- read, cook, knit, care for my family, get outside- but with a lot more outside than normal.

Anyway, I'm pleased to finally be showing my Orri shawl, by Lee Meredith, that I loved working on and have had finished for a couple of months.  I just put off the FO photo because, guys, it is miserably hot here in the summer.  Getting dressed in a knit and putting on makeup or doing my hair in any way other than bun hair takes dedication.  I wear workout clothes and no makeup.  Sometimes I brush my hair before my husband gets home.  I'm thoughtful like that.

On top of that, it's been raining constantly.  And our Sundays, the day I usually try to take photos because I look almost like normal people, have been crazy.  Anyway, the point is, I brought 2 shawls and a sweater with me on vacation thinking, "Certainly I will get the opportunity to wear these for photos in the mountains."  Two out of three isn't bad.

Orri was a totally for fun project.  I worked on it when I didn't feel like doing anything else because I always felt like working on it.  The lace stitch took some time to memorize, but I actually took it to the movies and worked a row or two without screwing up.  This is the kind of project that's easy on my budget too because two skeins were indie dyed and the other two were bargain yarn.

Details:  I used US size 6 needles and Lovebird Lane's Fischer Dk in the One Sweet Love colorway for the lace stitch.  I already mentioned that this lace stitch is one that requires no purling and looks really good from either side.  And just like Lee said, it looks really great in a variegated yarn.  The solid grey balanced it nicely and made the One Sweet Love colorway seem even more special.  The grey is just Patons Classic Wool from my local hobby store, which is a worsted, but I found the two yarns worked fine together.

This is a great way to use up variegated skeins in your stash, friends.  You choose how large to make your shawl based on how many grams you have to work with.  The details for how to knit a weight based shawl are all in the pattern.  It could easily translate to worsted or fingering weight.  Personally, I wish I'd used a slightly smaller needle because my superwash yarn stretched some with blocking.  I still love it, but would've liked to see the lace at a tighter tension.

Lee has a lot of patterns out that I'm sure you've seen by now.  She is the queen of color and has even released a coloring book that seems to be a cross between coloring and paint by numbers.  The images immediately make me think of intarsia knitting charts.  Her knitwear is also constructed in neat ways, like the Tionne sweater, one I've had in my favorites for a while, is convertible- two tops in one.  Also, I need to get my Scribbled Lines Headband knit up because I have lots of cotton and wool I could do this with and... bun hair...

More posts on this shawl are here and here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hipster KAL

I knew I would be taking part in the Summer Sweater KAL, that's a given.  But when I heard Brooklyn Knitfolk's Jaclyn talk about how over "fade" projects she is and how she's starting the Hipster KAL for lesser known knitting designs, I had to join in.  The only requirement is that it be a substantially sized knit and that it have less than 30 finished projects on Ravelry.  You get an extra entry in the giveaway if you knit with a yarn brand you've never used before.

This is the Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Sport- not a new brand, but still really nice.  I'll be using it for my Heritage, which will work for both SSKAL and the HipsterKAL.  It was hard for me to believe it had under 30 projects at the time I posted that I'd be knitting it, but it did.  I have a feeling it's FO count will be rising, so I'm glad I called dibs before it hit the 30 mark. 

(Heritage image via Ravelry)

Remember how I wanted Feya to come right after Heritage.  Well, it has a low project number, too.  I don't really get why.  It's classic, plus oversized- which has a huge following again.  It's an Amy Christoffers pattern, for goodness' sake.  Anyway, I'm throwing it into this KAL, too.  Being bulky and stockinette, I might finish it in less than two weeks.  

My yarn is Cascade Tivoli, a new one for me.  The color is somewhere between a blue-green mixed with a grey.  It's a wool/ silk blend, so it might keep this from veering too hard into frump territory, a place I often visit.   

(Feya image via Ravelry)

Anyway, were I to knit like the wind and finish both before the KAL ends, or even if I don't, I've been wanting a Primo Sweater, from Wool and the Gang,  for a couple of years.  I actually have some of their cotton in grey and army green to knit it.  I can see this being a lot like my Julia Sweater, but cropped and with color blocking.  

Yes, I'm making the change to cotton blends more and more.  I've accepted that I won't be moving in the next five years... or maybe ever, so cotton it is.  

(Primo image via Ravelry)

Okay, now this one, below, is just awesome.  It's a rectangular shawl by Ann Weaver that is part shawl, part wrap, part throw, part stadium blanket.  It's the perfect thing for me to wear around my neck to football and soccer games this coming school year.

And my yarn combo, also madelinetosh, includes purple and white, which is our football-obsessed town's high school colors.  I'll look like the rest of the football freaks, but I'll secretly just be a knitting freak.

(Herbawi images via Ravelry)

Just look at it unfurled!  It makes me think of another incredible, graphic shawl I saw on the Hipster KAL thread: Wild Mystic.

(Wild Mystic image via Ravelry)

How, how can there only be four of these in existence?! This would absolutely make a fantastic throw or bedspread!  

So between this post and the last, the rest of my summer, and possibly my year, seems to be mapped out.  Do you have any hipster knits that are awesome, but not so well-known in your queue?  Tell me.  Let's enable each other.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Sweater Knit-along Plans

I'm so excited about the beginning of the Summer Sweater KAL!  I had a million things on the
needles in June, but now I'm down to six.  This is really good, my friends.  I expect 2 will be off the needles by the time I return from vacation.  Of course, all of this maturity has given me the urge to go insane planning more projects than I can possibly manage for this KAL.   And planning more road tripping knitting than will comfortably fit in my car.  And pretending I'll have room for two projects in my backpack on our hike.

Why don't you hop a ride on the Crazy Train and pretend with me.  All images are linked to their ravelry pages so you can go a little nuts too.

There's Journey, which may be finished before the KAL begins

Heritage will be what I begin with the group on Cast On day.  I'm knitting it in a tonal gray.

The Feya cardigan, by Amy Christoffers, will be my second cast on for the KAL.  This totally makes me think of high school.

Speaking of high school, Libby Jonson's Timely makes me think of cardigans I wore then, too.  I want a navy and white striped version.

I'm dying to try knitting a fingering weight yarn held together with a lace weight mohair, like in Soirée

The Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan needs no flowery description.

Then, I want a Quadrillion, but not a regular Quadrillion.  It has to have a neckline exactly like Alaina's (below).  Luckily she and other raveler's have detailed notes.

Then there's the classic Boxy sweater by Joji, the v-neck version.

Again, I want to copy Isabell.

What will you be knitting for your Summer Sweater?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Perfect Day

Here's what my perfect day in Galveston looks like.  First, you get in the ferry line early enough to eat brunch at Mosquito Cafe.  We like the walnut crusted brie and shrimp tacos.

Then, I piddle around on The Strand, checking out creepy dolls in the antique store and forcing my daughter to sit next to that nasty stuffed bear.  There's usually some chocolate from La Kings or the Chocolate Factory involved.

 Next, it's to the Seawall, where we park and walk or run down the beach for an hour or so.

 Then we lay on the beach an hour or so.

By early evening, we are a satisfying kind of tired from a day in the sun.  We climb the steps to the Murdochs deck to get a drink and watch the birds.  No matter who I'm with we always seem to be laughing at this point.  Last time, my daughter I got cheesy Galveston tourist shirts because we didn't know when we'd get a chance to go there together again.

 If we have time, I like to eat on a patio somewhere along the Seawall.  But if we're on a budget, it's back to the ferry.  My favorite thing is to stand at the front of the ferry and watch the sun set while feeling the spray.

 (more on instagram and flickr)