If spring hasn't reached you yet, we hope it does very, very soon. In the meantime, here's a few (very unprofessional) photos of the Yoshino cherry tress on the University of Washington campus. Enjoy!
My daughter is taking Japanese for her foreign language in high school. Today, she taught me the word "hanami" which means "flower viewing" but it almost always refers to going out and looking at the cherry blossoms. Apparently, it's a custom, and very popular to do. Since the weather was absolutely beautiful in Seattle today, and to celebrate the first full weekend of Spring, we decided that "hanami" was the perfect thing to do.
If spring hasn't reached you yet, we hope it does very, very soon. In the meantime, here's a few (very unprofessional) photos of the Yoshino cherry tress on the University of Washington campus. Enjoy!
Crafty creativeness is not always about knitting around here. . .
Sometimes, it's about cleaning out drawers and finding long hidden handmade treasures from people you love. . .
(Belgian linen tablecloth and napkins hand tatted for us as a wedding gift by my grandmother, Loretta)
You just sit back and appreciate it.
Sometimes, it's about cooking something new, like mochi pancakes (sakuramochi) for a Girls' Day celebration in the daughter's Japanese class. . .
(She is stuffing the pancakes with sweet red bean paste here. This was all kinds of yummy fun!)
There is so much more out there to explore!
Crafty creative living might also include a little bead embroidery now and then
Or taking silly, junior-highesque selfies with your friends at the art bar (yes, that means art and booze) before taking a painting class.
(I'm on the left)
Crafty creative living can be so many different things! For me, it is always being engaged with whatever I'm doing. It's being willing to explore and challenge myself. It's translating what I learn from other crafts and art forms into my knitting and spinning. It's also just plain fun.
What's crafty and creative in your life? I'd love to hear about it!
It was one of those weeks. Y'know. . .the kind where things just don't go as planned.
Almost nothing I thought I was going to get done got done. Some of it was the weather. The PNW has had an incredibly mild winter, which means my garden needs working on now. The week started off all nice and sunny, but every time I went outside, it started raining. Not the light drizzle one can sort of ignore, but big big drops of rain. I promise you that at one point there weren't even any visible clouds in the sky and it was pouring. So. . .garden work has to wait for a while longer.
Some of the week's "blah" was contributed to by a difficult day with my father. He kept thinking he had plugged up his toilet (even though he hadn't) so he kept messing with it until something finally did plug it. Six times. I'm sick of plunging toilets. My arms are still soar. It was just kind of a bad memory day all the way around. After the whole bathroom experience, I'm pretty sure my dad has the beginnings of a UTI, which can really exacerbate dementia symptoms ( Yes - he's on his way to the doctor). I know that might be over sharing, but I'm really hoping to find someone else out there who can empathize. I don't need sympathy, and I wouldn't change my situation, but sometimes it just helps to let it go by getting off my chest. The whole situation really upset and worried my dad, and it took a lot of work to keep him calm. He can't judge a big deal from a small one anymore, even if I act super happy and silly about it. My poor father feels like he has to apologize for everything - which he doesn't - and it just makes me really sad sometimes.
This week my dog decided he wanted to give chasing cats a try. We have three cats. This idea didn't go over well with them. I think we've got it taken care of now, but ugh. I really think half the problem was the rainy weather. We couldn't go for our usual outdoor play/ walks. A giant, energized dog is a handful. My solution was to run up and down the hallway with him and his stuffed toys playing tag. This is how the game goes: I run down the hall with a stuffed toy (none of which are cat shaped) and he chases me. He grabs the toy after I toss it and runs the other way. I chase him and get it back once he drops it, then we start all over again. We're both ready for naps at the end, but at least the cats are spared. They like to watch.
My son, who usually has the dog sleep with him, is house sitting. That means the dog is sleeping with us (mastiffs don't do well alone - they get very, very sad when they get lonely). He snores. Loudly. And it shakes the bed. He's sleeping great. The rest of us - not so much.
I accidentally ripped a needle out of a lace project. What a hot mess of dropped stitches. Good news is that it got fixed.
The other good news is that the week has ended better than it started. The weather is still rainy, but I know I'll be grateful for that in August when it's hot here. The dog snored a little less last night than the night before and we did get him out for a good walk yesterday. I also got to step outside of my normal crafty ways and try something new: painting. A couple of my favorite people and I went out to a place called The Drunken Easel. The evening involved wine, a fun group of strangers, loud music, paint and canvas. It was awesome. I'm not going to be the next Picasso or Jean Michel Basquiat anytime soon, but it was sure fun.
My problems aren't as big as other people's, I know, but weeks like this are still a drag. I'm glad it's over.
Here's to next week.
I've been working on a draft of this post for about two weeks now. The weather has been grey, gloomy and rainy. I just haven't been feeling it, if you know what I mean. Rain doesn't make me feel sad - I enjoy it - but after a few days, it does make me internalize a bit. All I've wanted to do for days now is stay curled up on the couch.
Fortunately, I had plenty of supplies to curl up on the couch with.
One day, I did take a break from all that couch sitting and went out to lunch with this guy. This is my father. I spend at least one full day a week with him. Frequently more. He's young, but he has vascular dementia and sometimes my mother just needs a damn break. The good news is, he is physically healthier than he was before the event that caused this, and even though he can't remember anything for more than a couple of minutes, he is really funny and fun to be around. More so than at any other time in my life. The irony of that really sucks. Time with him is grief and joy bundled into the same day, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. His three favorite things to do are: go out and get a latte, go for a ride and have lunch, and feed my dog treats. So that's what we usually do. We take the dog everywhere with us, because my dad really loves my dog. Roy loves him too. Dad's memory is a bit more stable when the dog is around. Pets heal. I'm convinced.
Most of the rest of my time has been spent back on the couch knitting and binge watching TV: Castle, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Dr. Who, Sherlock, and a few others. I might have thrown in all the Harry Potter movies, too. Sometimes, that's just how we roll.
The only thing that bothered me while knitting Dendrology, was that I used Hazel Knits Sock Yarn and my label said I had 425 yards, which is more than enough for the shawl size I was knitting (the smaller one of the two sizes listed), but I ran out ON THE LAST TWO ROWS. AAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH! I did check my gauge, but. . .whatever. I had some leftover sock yarn that coordinated well enough and it looks nice. Great pattern. Now I'm working on a dog walking cardigan called Common Ground by Elizabeth Smith. Okay - it's not actually called a dog walking cardigan but that's what I intend to do while wearing it. I'm using handspun Black Welsh Mountain Sheep that I spun from fleece my friend Sam gifted to me years and years ago. I'm so close to being done that I'll save that for another post.
Today, the sun is up and shining for the second day in a row. It's almost springy warm outside, which I find very energizing. I'm going to go process preserved lemons with my mother (we're on a make it yourself kick) and spend the day with Dad so she can go run some errands for a bit.
I hope your day is lovely, and that you get time to sit on the couch and knit too.
With warm and woolly thoughts,
Rainbow looms! How cool are those things, I ask you??!! Jen's daughter (aka Favorite Child) has one. I recall watching her whip bracelets out right and left with one of these looms at Knit Night sometime last October. I have to admit that I've been mildly fascinated with them ever since. They kind of remind me of embroidery thread friendship bracelets that we used to make when I was FC's age.
My mother came bearing two as gifts the other day. TWO of them!! My mother will often do this --she is a very generous person. When she sees something she thinks we will enjoy (her/me/ my kids), she picks it up and surprises us with it. We are all very crafty people in our house, you see.
I thought my mother did this out of love. Then, I tried to USE the Rainbow Loom. Now, I think she may be trying to kill/ blind me for life. I've spent the last few days trying to figure out what I could possibly have done to piss her off so badly, but nothing. . .NOTHING that would warrant the Death Device that is the Rainbow Loom comes to mind.
The issue isn't the complexity of the toy/ weapon of mass destruction. It's fairly simple. Comes with great directions, cautionary safety tips, and plenty of supplies. It seems well crafted, is interesting to look at and nothing smells like funky plastic toy.
But then. . . then one loads the rubber bands onto the loom and tries to manipulate them with the crochet hook thingy and BLAMO!!!! - Rubber bands are flying everywhere-----around one's head, at one's cats, in one's eyeball. . . .
This thing is supposed to be geared toward kids in the 8 years or above bracket. Holy hell - really? What kind of magic powers do kids have that make them able to use these things????
Hmph. Well. . .my mother (in all honesty) is probably NOT trying to kill me.
I think I need Rainbow Loom lessons from Jen's daughter.
PS - Had a lovely day with Mel and my mom yesterday, warming up for Madrona. We made a road trip out to Tolt Yarn and Wool. Really can't say enough nice things about that place <happy sigh>. There were a few nice acquisitions made, but more on that later. . .
People start flying in today for the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I can't wait! I'm not taking classes this year, but I will go down to socialize; I'm lucky enough to live close enough to do that. It's one of the few events that I get to see so many out of state Beloveds at. I can't wait to give them hugs, see their faces, hear their voices, share projects, stories and experiences. There are a few who cannot be here this year, and they will be terribly, terribly missed. Hopefully, we'll be able to set up a virtual knitting group and all be together at some point. Still planning. Still daydreaming.
But just so you don't think that daydreaming about fiber events is the only thing that's been going on around here, I offer up this: the Schoodic Cardigan (I trust you will ignore the vacuum and boxes in the photo - it was 6am). The lovely model is my daughter, for whom the sweater was made. She loves it. I loved making it. Hannah Fettig writes a nice pattern.
Schoodic Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
size: between 36" and 40"
Yarn: Brooks Farm 50/50 Silk Merino Four Play
Took about 2 weeks to do. Raglan shaping, major skills include simple simple cabling (twisted stitches, really), SSK, K and P, K2Tog, light grafting (the collar pieces at the back of the neck). No seaming. My daughter falls between the two smallest sizes (see specs), which influenced my choice of yarn. I knit to a gauge that is pretty true for Hannah Fettig's patterns, and was able to choose a thicker yarn (the pattern calls for DK), and go up a needle size to get exactly what I needed. Swatches are where it's at, People. Knit your swatches! The only adjustment I made to the pattern was in the sleeve length. The Daughter wanted them to be a tad longer. That was it.
Have a wonderful week! I am headed off to drop off large dogs to visit with Grandpa, pick folks up and have a field trip kind of day. Hopefully, I will be able to find time to drop in and share pictures as we go along.
Oh happy Friday! On Fridays, I run a little thingy on the Facebook page called "flash the stash Friday." It was a good way to remain aware of what exactly I have in my yarn/ fiber stash, and what I might like to add based on my knitting queue in Ravelry (which isn't too outrageous, actually). One of the advantages to this little game, is that I've actually been using the yarn/ fiber I flash right after I post it. Yay me!
For example, this merino-tencel blend (Ashland Bay from. . . like. . . a million years ago) is now about half spun. I think I have about 6 ounces of it left from a project where I spun it up for someone else. I've spun about 2 oz. of the 6 so far.
Remember this Cottage Craft yarn? Also from a million years ago, and almost done being turned into the Peace Fleece Everyday Cardigan. A simple project, but enjoyable. I've been able to catch up on podcasts and news radio while working on it. I've been able to read a little off my kindle while knitting on this sweater!
This project has even inspired a little creative pondering! I may attempt to add some applique or other embellishment. The fabric is great and the color lends itself to being treated like a canvas. We shall see. I haven't decided yet. Anyway. . .
Here is the Blue Moon Fibers Silkmo that I posted today. I remember that when I bought it (about 8 years ago), I had intended it to become a shawl. I may have had a pattern in mind, but that memory is long gone. I'm searching for something new (got any suggestions??? - Leave them in the comments.). No big. That happens. I wound it up this morning anyway (because this stuff has been hanging around long enough where I worry the fibers are going to start to felt together).
I thought about how much I enjoy my stash while I balled up the skein. I guess it might be similar to how an artist feels about having a variety of paints and canvases available. Not that I consider myself an artist, but as my pal Tammy says "you have to have the supplies handy when you know that creating things is a regular occurrence!" I've never ever been a person who has felt guilty about having a yarn/ fiber stash, and this is pretty much the reason. Tammy just vocalizes things so well!
But. . .(there's always a 'but' isn't there?) a conversation we had a Knit Night last night did get me thinking a little more reflectively about my stash --especially in light of the Madrona Fiber Arts gathering ( a major learning and stash building opportunity) coming up in a couple of weeks. As I dug through my baskets, cedar chest, and boxes of lovelies I wondered. . .am I a stash maximizer, or a stash optimizer?
MAXIMIZERS would be people (in my mind) who likes to acquire yarn and fiber because of what people are using, what's trending, etc. Maybe there is a project in mind, maybe not; they've just heard the yarn is really nice to work with. Or because they like using what all their friends are using. Or they just like to collect a particular kind of yarn because they really like it. Kind of a 'get it while it's available' thing. OPTIMIZERS would be people who purchase yarns/ fibers with the idea that there is something new they would like to try (fiber breed or type, indie dyer, color theme, technique) and the goal is to create a diverse or versatile stash. Or maybe that isn't a stated goal, but that is what ends up happening. Most people are probably a little bit of both, with a leaning toward one or the other.
I think I lean toward being an optimizer. I don't often buy yarn or fiber because it's being talked about or showing up a lot on blogs or Ravelry. I've actually tried to shop that way and just can't. It is stressful and overly competitive to me. Once in a while I will succumb to a trend, but not often, and the yarn/ fiber is usually one that is noted for some sort of effect that sounds fun to try. When I succumb to a project trend, it's usually because there is a social benefit to it for me (group camaraderie, meeting new people, etc.) and I like it. When I was teaching hand spinning, I would buy fibers that were trending because I felt like I should know something about them if a student asked, but I guess that isn't the same thing as collecting. Things done for professional development probably don't count in either category.
Are any of you MINIMIZERS where you only buy yarn/ fiber per project and don't have anything other than what you are currently using on hand? I don't know anyone like that, so I'm wondering how often that happens.
There is no good or bad form of stashing or reason for having a stash. I certainly have no guilt about having one or adding to it. I just find it an interesting subject to consider because I am curious as to whether or not my stashing tendencies reflect other tendencies I have in managing the objects that fill my physical space. Does my stuff own me, or do I own stuff? How much does a person need? When does stuff become clutter or a soul sucking burden? When does it inspire? What causes creative people to feel guilt about having lots of creative supplies on hand? Why do we say "I should really knit from stash," and look like we feel so sad about it?
I am also curious as to whether or not my stashing habits reflect any truths concerning my beliefs and concerns about participating in a consumption oriented economy. It's a daily battle within me between the necessity of participating in an economic system I see as extractive (heavily reliant on using resources as a means for gratifying needs and desires) and my dream of living in a life supporting economy (where income includes what you put into the system in the form of returning resources for recycling, growing and making things, etc. as well as what you consume - a version of sustainability, basically).
I would like to think of myself as someone who resists buying things just to have them, or who uses stuff to develop status, but can I honestly say that? Does having a stash of any kind make that idea invalid? I would also like to think of myself as a supporter of small businesses, and protector of the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the creation of so many good things, but do I buy enough to say that? Is there a quantifiable amount that must be spent to be a "supporter" of small businesses or is it enough that when I do make purchases, they are usually from local, non franchised places? Does my physical and financial ability to have a stash (and the fact that I do) impact my credibility as I try to be a socially sensitive and responsible person when it comes to caring for others who do not have the same ability as me to meet their basic needs, much less intrinsic ones? How do I balance enjoying the privileges I have (de facto) with the moral obligation I believe I have to decrease poverty, illiteracy, and other impediments that limit access to opportunity?
Who would have thought that digging through piles of yarn would trigger such thought? Well, I am on sabbatical this year and pondering deeply on seemingly trivial things seems to be quid pro quo with the whole process of trading time considering one thing for another. But. . .is it really trivial to examine stash or is there really more there that can teach us about ourselves?
What's your opinion?
Wishing you peace for your weekend -
Sometimes, the most elaborately thought out plans--the ones that took hours to create, that were conceptualized right down to the last detail, were agonized over, and that included "contingencies" for any situation that might arise--- end up being completely off from what's really needed.
For example, I thought I would be using this yarn to create the beautiful Harriet sweater from Lisa Lloyd's A Fine Fleece. I am going to knit that whole book. I really am. But it turns out that Harriet is off the table for the moment. That is not what this yarn is going to be.
I had done the planning, the swatching, the washing, the blocking and the fabric was great. When I started to knit the actual sweater, however, it didn't look right. I don't know why. It just didn't.
So....I frogged it and sat there with a ripped out pile of yarn on my lap. And a cat, because none of my cats can resist a pile of ripped out yarn on a lap.
As I sat there, that pile of yarn became more than just a frogged sweater. It became a metaphor for how I have been feeling about life in general lately. I've had a big change recently, and am readjusting. The change was necessary and planned (elaborately, with room for contingencies) but has been more difficult than anticipated. I have felt depressed, displaced, alone, and a bit. . .unraveled.
While winding the yarn back into the neat and tidy ball I had started with, I wondered if I was stuck in this emotional cesspool because I had made plans that were too elaborate; too complicated, and tangled. It's really strange to say that because up until that moment, I had been following my plan to the letter, and been successfully meeting my goals. I shouldn't have been depressed or feeling displaced.
Inch by inch, my pile of yarn turned back into the tidy ball I had started with. The bigger the ball got, the more peace I felt inside. Winding a ball of yarn is such a simple thing. Very calming, really. While my hands wound yarn, my mind reflected and I realized that perhaps what was missing from my elaborate, new life plan was simplicity.
Even though I have been successfully completing everything I wanted to do, maybe that isn't what I really need right now. I think I have been fighting a battle of ego. As wonderful as success has been, perhaps it isn't the right kind of success for me. I'm ready to quit feeding my ego the superficial food it thinks it needs. It's time to go "unprocessed" and stop relying on external accomplishment for worth.
I've started knitting with my yarn again, but this time it's a simple pattern. It's amazing. The fabric is perfect. It looks right. It makes me happy.
Perhaps it's time to accept the lesson delivered through my knitting and simplify the plan. I think I will. I feel better already.
I have a spinning wheel that isn't just a spinning wheel. It's a piece of American Folk Art, and I can't believe I'm lucky enough to care for it.
This is it---the wheel that catches my breath every time I look at it. I reconnected with it this morning for the first time in 2 years (I had been away for a very long work contract and couldn't take it with me). Just touching the wood brought peace to my mind and warmth to my hands.
I'm going to be honest; it is kind of a monster to spin on. Let me rephrase that - SHE tends to be a little sticky in the treadle, is heavy, has a bit of a finicky double drive tension, and is kind of noisy. And I love her. I've owned many spinning wheels, and sold them as I've changed spinning styles, needs, or desires, but this one... this is the ONE despite her difficulties.
Her, you ask? Yes. My wheel has engendered itself. I'm not prone to the anthropomorphism of inanimate objects, but this one exudes personality---and femininity. She even has a name, and I'm pretty sure she gave it to herself; it's Larethia.
I think you need a closer look before you think I'm crazy.
Can you see them? The butterflies and wildflowers? Real ones. Collected from the wild areas around the maker's home. Preserved forever on cloth in resin set into wood. They catch my breath every time I see them.
The wheel is one of a kind, and I doubt there will ever be another one like her. She was made by an Oroville, Washington woman named Betty Roberts. This one started life out as a Black Walnut tree (Juglans nigra) in Betty's neighbor's back yard. In 1981, a storm blew the tree down. Betty salvaged the wood, and made the wheel as a gift for her neighbor, who thought she wanted to learn to spin. At that time, the wheel was known as the Riste Wheel, named after the neighbors. Jen fostered it for a while. I have adopted it now, and it won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Because this wheel is handmade, there are things about it that are quirky. It uses plain nuts and bolts where brass might have been prettier, and is extremely heavy. That bottom drive wheel is solid walnut. The complete wheel must weigh at least 50 lbs.
It spins like a dream. I can easily spin lace weight yarn. I can easily spin worsted and aran weight yarns. I would not spin boucle or artsy yarns on this wheel due to the maidenhead set up, but I rarely use those kinds of yarn anyway so who cares. I wish the bobbins were a little bigger because heavier yarns end up being smaller yardage skeins, but no big deal. My favorite weight to spin on her is DK anyway.
And did you see the butterflies and wildflowers???????
At the time the wheel was made, the maker was still experimenting--mostly for herself and a few others who heard about her via word of mouth. Betty has since gone on to make many other beautiful, unique wheels. Thankfully, she has been training an apprentice to carry on when she decides she is done. Betty is in her 80's, and although she is a fiery woman who shows no intention of stopping soon, one never knows when she will up and decide to retire.
There is a yahoo group devoted to lovers of Betty Roberts wheels called "Spinning Wheels by Betty Roberts." It is a restricted group, but the moderators are lovely people and genuinely interested in sharing their passion for these wheels. It is probably the best place to find one for sale, and definitely the place to see the other, very unique (and updated) wheels Betty has crafted.
If you are going to Madrona Fiber Arts this year, you are likely to see some of us spinning together on our Betty wheels. I will be there.
As for me, I am happy to be reunited with my wheel. Today I got her cleaned up, polished, oiled and reassured that my love for her remains true despite the Louet Victoria in the corner. I have gone back to spinning with Larethia in the mornings. We are working on some very special silk for a very special shawl. That project, however, is a post for another time.
Seriously. It is the decompress, get inspired, feel connected, just hang out and chill night. Everyone needs one. I finished the socks for Franck but no new photos because I wanted the ends to be sewn in first. Then he took them. And had the nerve to put them on his feet. BEFORE photographing.!!! Now they need washing. Jen and Sam had some exciting things in the works that managed to get snapped! Take a look. . .
Jen finished the Ashburn shawl by Melanie Berg. Doesn't it look gorgeous on her????
She used Plucky Knitter Bello and Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering. HOLEEEE COWABUNGA is that stuff soft!!!!!
I may need to place these yarns on my wish list for 2014 (seeing as I have no guilt about stash acquisition - ever).
The blues and toffee/coppery colors she chose remind me of turquoise. I think they make her skin glow and her eyes twinkle. What do you think?
Sam (who also has glowing skin and twinkly eyes) made more progress on the Sock Yarn Blanket by Heathen Housewife. Sam calls it "sock yarn madness" but the rest of us call it frickin' beautiful! She has tweaked the square size to be just a little bigger than Heathen Housewife's and figured out a nifty way to create a flat edge, unlike the original. Both versions are outstanding!
***my apologies, Sam, for the blurry pic of your face. I don't know what happened!
I've been so inspired by this project that I've started one too. No pics yet because. . .well. . . who would want to compete with that? (sideways glance). It's gotten to the point that I think I might be knitting socks just so I have scraps to use.
Tammy was knitting away on a hat for her husband out of a luscious color of something. . .Malabrigo, I think. Maybe Manos del Uruguay. I don't know how she managed to elude my camera phone. I'm usually so much faster than that! Better watch out, Tammy! I AM going to getcha!
I can't even begin to express the appreciation I have for these women who have been my close friends for a decade or more. I'm sure I don't tell them how important they are to me often enough. They ARE my knit country! Someday, I hope I get the chance to introduce them to the lovely gals and guys I got to know in Forest Park, IL at Knit Nirvana. It was the only group of people that ever came close to making me feel at home while I was "deployed" to Chicago. They probably have no real idea how much they helped me with loneliness and finding a work/ life balance. I'm grateful for the chance to publicly tell ALL of these folks how wonderful they are.
Who are your special people? Why are they special?
About the Author
Kimberly is a longtime knitter, spinner, sewist, and generally crafty person. She resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where sweaters are a good thing year round, knitting in public is normal and handknit socks with sandals are considered (almost) fashionable.