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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Morning Rituals

Awakened by a rumbling cat and a delicate dog lick on my left cheek, it has been a good day so far. Coffee first, -- okay, like most mammals, I find the bathroom first, but that’s hardly glamorous, now is it? -- then a good twenty minutes outside in the cool morning sunlight as the dogs tromp around the yard and be dogs. (See what I mean? All mammals look for the bathroom first thing in the morning!) Inside, more coffee, time writing on the computer, a few phone calls to arrange transport for the next couple of days, and the open acknowledgement that I’m going to have to load the dishwasher before the day gets too much older.

I’ve started working my way through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way again. This program is an interesting way to go about staying in the present and nurturing your own life – whether you engage in creative hobbies or not – as long as you don’t become militant with it. I got the hang of the “morning pages” pretty quick, but granting myself and actually KEEPING my “artist play dates” has been a bit of a challenge. I’ve plenty of things to play with, but finding ways to interact with creative outlets with the enthusiasm I had as a child proved to be a bit more difficult.

Well, Saturday, I think I found the key to my creative freedom. I bought myself a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons! Do you remember the way a fresh box of crayons smells? The easy glide of the newly molded wax?

The amazing names for all those rich colors? Well, some of the names have changed – I can’t find “Burnt Umber” or “Raw Umber” – and I love the chestnut, mahogany, and other new names in the 64-pack. But now I may need to save my pennies for one of the even BIGGER boxes! Anyone else remember when the 64-pack with its own sharpener was the be all and end all? Do YOU have your own box of crayons? This can be a very relaxing exercise.

A bunch of sites offer free coloring pages now. You can find a list and some evaluations of the sites here at Home School Kid Lit. My favorite so far is the list to the government site. They have a collection of coloring pages of wild flowers, complete with Latin names and color instructions for accurate descriptions. I'm fascinated!

I have a friend who used to credit her crayons with having gotten her through her PhD exams and classes! Repetitive, soothing, with low stress and multiple sensory stimuli – isn’t this a great rationalization for doing something childish? The colors remind me of why I love walking into yarn shops. All the colors, all the textures, even the slightly industrial smells of the dyes and the sharp tang of wool and other animal fiber.

In addition to coloring this week, I finally made a decision and started back to work on some big projects.
I chose to work on the orchid cable top from the cover of the last Spring IK. But a trip to Eunny’s webpage had me digging through my stash for the yarn to make this lovely bit of early spring apparel. Late March and early April usually go back to being wet and damp and miserable here, so if I get it done quickly, I may get to wear it this year. If not, it will be wonderful for fall and winter.

Digging into my back issues of IK brought back many patterns and projects that re-struck my fancy. That “oohh – yeah!” moment was happening so often, I quit saying it out loud. I also spent some time trying to figure out how to free up the cash to pick up the little things I’d like – I need to purchase the Hidcote Garden Shawl pattern. I’d LOVE to try a set of the new Addi lace needles, and I’m still avid about acquiring a copy of Nature Knits. I’d have gotten it through JoAnn’s with my discount coupons, but now I don’t get the fliers and when I HAD the fliers, I didn’t have the cash. [sigh] I’ll need to wait until my stars are aligned.

I’ve also gotten started on the baby hats I’m doing for the local hospital. The yarn they chose is rough and not the greatest color, but I’m following the rules!

My second set of socks from Sensational Knitted Socks is whirling along. I like the “denim” colored Paton’s Merino Classic Wool and doing the second set of socks makes it much easier to enjoy the pattern. I dug out some lighter sock yarns to get started on knitting socks for summer. And I’ll have to decide what to do with the three skeins of dark blue KP Gloss that I have. I’d planned socks, but there’s enough there for thigh-highs if I want to get adventurous [grin].

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Adrift! -- Knitting Priorities

Reorganization is in order. It IS spring after all. Yes, yes. Spring for me usually involves much cursing of green plants and snuffling, shutting windows, grabbing at Kleenex, swallowing of allergy concoctions, etc. All that is still happening. Some forces of nature cannot be changed -- and "The Blooming of the Trees" has most certainly begun.

HOWEVER, I have a bigger problem. (stop laughing!) Having finished "the big sweater" AND having managed to get in a couple of wearings before the weather got too warm -- what to knit now?

Materials are not a problem. Projects are not a problem. Priorities and prospects -- THESE are the problems. The second red sock is keeping me busy for the moment -- but a crisis is immanent. I'm going to have to make a decision.

Items on the Needles

1. The orchid bobble-free "Bobble Blue" sweater from the cover of IK last spring. I finally managed to get the back completed all the way to the collar shaping with the pattern correct in all its parts. This took ALL SUMMER! I was frustrated and set it aside. I was new to cables, much less complex cable designs. It's lovely, and I'd like to get it finished to wear this summer. I've even found a skirt that matches!

2. The charcoal gray wool shawl from Folk Shawls. I've a significant chunk done, but now I wonder if I want to use the cream for this shawl, and use this lovely dark gray for a wool sweater -- maybe a cardigan with a shawl collar? A fitted pullover with a shawl collar? I've plenty of the cream for the shawl, and I'm more likely to wear the gray as a sweater than the cream. Hmmmm.

3. The long fiddled with Frog Tree cotton-silk camel-coloured leaf shawl (trailing vines I think, from Walker's Second Treasury) for which I plan to make the dangling leaves from Epstein's Knitting On the Edge in multiple fall colors. This is lovely to work with -- and seems to go on forever! It's been on the needles for two years now. [frown]

Projects on My Mind

4. Two or three summer/spring tops from Elizabeth Lavold's "Spring Breezes".

5. The bright orange Mandarin Petite cotton cable tank.

6. The Yoga mat bag from Inspired Cable Knits.

7. My purple alpaca sweater that "bloomed." Another IK pattern. This one is the Wear Everywhere sweater I think -- something like that. Anyway, a twisted rib pattern. Interesting and soothing to knit. AND it's the alpaca!

8. My tea cozy from the Noro. Lovely colours in that stuff!

Ah, the list could be endless. Now that I'm actually knitting from my stash -- I'm having a hard time picking and choosing. I'll start another pair of socks, of course. Gotta have socks going. But I'm taking votes on the others. Any ideas?

Oh -- my Hidcote Garden Shawl -- planned and the yarn chosen, but not yet started. There's another for the possibilities pile!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Knitting and Thinking – Much Accomplished!

Well, I FINALLY found the usb cord for the camera, so I can catch up on the knitting adventures of the last six or seven weeks. I’ve been taking a class four afternoons a week from 3- 7p.m., so I’ve had large blocks of time in which to knit to keep myself busy and focused.

To begin, I’ll review a few things. The blue baby surprise jacket for my two year old niece turned out very well. I love the flecked buttons that match the Sindar yarn.

Both the class in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and the knitting have been very profitable. It feels like a very long time since January. [grin]

The second baby surprise is for a new baby – born in January – to friends and is made of KP’s Shine in apricot and cream.

The little guy should look great in this – and I couldn’t resist the bumble bee buttons!

The stars will look pretty fine on the flip side, too. I love the colors, the yarn has become a favorite, and the whole experience of making this was just great. I really love making a second "something" since the second time around, I already understand the pattern! This jacket needs some finishing work, but should be completed shortly.

This red sock is done in Paton’s Merino Classic Wool. I’m really enjoying the patterns in “Sensational Knitted Socks.”

This is an eyelot pattern called "Elongated Corded Rib." Not only is this my first sock with a stitch pattern, but it’s my first attempt at the heel recommended in the book with the rows of garter stitch before the turn. I love the feel of this heel and will be giving it more use in the future!

I also completed a set of socks in “Victorian Violet” Highland Wool from and “Daffodil” Wool of the Andes from

They are wearing well – but in the wash, so no pictures yet! The yellow stripe on the foot makes me think of the crocuses my mother loves at Easter! I used the charts from “A Knitters Handy Book of Patterns” to make this pair in plain stockinet stitch with the more traditional heal turn described in that book. The two different yarns have worn and washed well together – no awkward looking differences between them.

Next is my favorite. I’ll try to get a picture of the sweater “on” this afternoon, but here it is!

Green Raglan Sweater

Knit in the round, this is a short-sleeved V-neck sweater in 2-1 rib with a moss-stitch collar. The yarn is a dark pine green llama-wool 50-50% blend from Classic Elite. I got this yarn several years ago on sale for less than half price at a local shop. I’ve enough in black and in cream for similar sweaters – I just need to plan the variations I want and get started.

The whole sweater is knit in the round with raglan sleeves. My chief “innovations” occurred at the neckline. I did several rows reducing one stitch on each side of the V, then several decreasing two stitches slip one, ssk, slip stitch over or slip one, k2tog, slip stitch over. This gave me a nicely curved “sweetheart” neckline.

As I approached the top of the sweater, I stopped decreasing before getting all the way down to the sleeves. This gave me two small “corners” sticking out from the rounded head opening before the V started. I accented and extended these corners into a soft collar that can be pinned into a “key-hole” neckline or left open to stand slightly or drape flat in a wide open neckline particularly useful in warmer weather.

The weather here in MidMO cooperated and dropped from the high seventies yesterday to the fifties today, so I’ll get to wear my sweater to my last class tonight. Since I started the sweater in the class, my mates have watched the whole progression and are interested in the results!

Now that the camera is transferring pictures again, I’ll get caught up on pups and cats soon too. All are well, though the Dalmatian is grumpy about all my time spent away from home. He’s getting used to the change however, and is much more interested in playing fetch now that the warmer weather has arrived!