Random Thoughts about Knitting

I am doing it again…knitting…really and truly this time.  Following instructions, ripping out (think the lingo term is “frogging”), and trying again…but still, “getting it”.  It is a bit thrilling.  (Keep in mind, it is January here: too cold and too treacherous to go out…so thrills are few and far between.)

Kate talked me into doing this “mystery knit along” with her…every Monday, my mail has two clues (two different sets of instructions).  I pick one or the other and knit it.  The following four Mondays, the same thing: two clues, pick one, and knit.   In the end, I will have knit a shawl.  You can see how this could get very interesting. (The designer, Ysolda Teague must be a bit of a math whiz…no matter which clue one picks each Monday to knit, the instructions work!)  A choice between two clues each week,  five weeks…32 different variations…and then there is the choice of using one color or two…Many doing the knit-along post their photos on ravelry (the “go to” place for knitters, and others who play with yarn)…it has been fascinating.  Sharing it all with Kate has added to the fun of it, for sure.  I am still on clue one…but almost done…so, am continuing undaunted.  Feeling a bit cocky about it all, actually!

Although it is dangerous to think and knit, I have found that it just happens and I have learned a few things.  Am thinking knitting is a lot like life.  Here are some of my (very) random observations:

Mistakes happen.  Mistakes have consequences.   (Dropped stitches, in particular!)  One can fix a mistake and move on.

It is ALWAYS best to “do it right” the first time.  (One can really learn how to knit, while ripping out, though.)

Pay attention to details…(especially those very little, but very mighty,  yarn overs).

There is more than one way to start.  (so many ways to “cast on”…and why would one want to start out with a knot, anyway?)

If one is counting stitches, it is impossible to think (worry) about anything else…(ripping, ripping…what row is this? right side? wrong side?)

Lifelines (see that bright green thread in the photo?) are very good things..(ripping out rows and rows–lace? eek!, reloading stitches…with the right twist, mind you, and then figuring out just where one is…how to count rows???…don’t ask how many times it happened ’til I got wise.

Effort pays.  I think I am going to really make a shawl!  I will be so proud of myself!

Knitting is a lot like life.  I am liking it.

 

Stubborn to the Bone

 

I DID get them done…just under the wire…am about to pack them away:  this year’s Christmas  ornaments.  Usually, I have devised a clever title, and a way to date and sign them…this holiday, I was happy to just FINISH them…  Now, on the other side of all the chaos of packing and moving, they make me smile!  YES!  I won!  Chaos lost.

Constructing them was a very simple process.   I began by beading the brass bells, using a fine gauge wire and small beads, “sewing” in and out of the perforations.  Some were vintage seed beads; others were not.  All were from my stash (hooray!).

I then strung series of beads on 26 gauge wire, trying to create sets of each combination.  I generally made as many in any one series as my pile of any given bead would allow.  (Using up the stash!  Points for that.)   As the number of sets grew, I began to “wire” them together with a short piece of scrap wire to keep them all together.  They were so lovely.  And, it turns out, this was probably the only kind of project I could have done given everything else going on.  I carried them back and forth between houses, laid them out wherever I was and just worked on them as I could…strand by strand, set by set.

When I was “done”, i.e. tired of stringing and getting close to “the DEADline”, I laid all the sets of different combinations out on my table, undid the scrap wires and just played with combinations of bells and beaded wires.  In the end, I had about 15 “ornaments”.   To finish, I joined them together with a large wire link, and added the final silver bead collar and string.  Victory.  Still smiling.

 

 

Rising to the Challenge

I would be lying if I said I was “back to work”…work being that which is done on a table, in a studio, usually involving some creativity and lots and lots of color.  Such a place doesn’t exist here, just yet.  But, I did manage to carve out the time, energy AND, the necessary flat surface (the hardest part) to do the step-outs for my upcoming article in PAGES…just in the nick of time…clock was ticking, ticking…It felt good.

 

Looking Up

January 1, 2014, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

For the past few years I have been looking up and seeing some gorgeous skies.  My new house in particular has a front row seat to spectacular sunsets…nearly EVERY DAY!  I am thinking I would like to take more “sky pictures”, that it might be an interesting way to make a diary of my year.  This is not a new thought…but, each time I see a sky “worthy of a photo” (and is there really any other kind?), I let myself off the hook by telling myself that such a diary should start at the beginning of the year…well, here it is.  I am not making this a resolution to take a picture every day; I am just declaring the intention to carry my camera with me more often, to look up, and see what happens.  The photo here was taken yesterday…and seems a fine way to launch this endeavor.

Taking a Look Back

What a difference a year can make.  This time last year, I didn’t have a clue what changes were looming!   I am not sure I want to ruminate much on the good changes versus the not-so-good ones.  I think it is simply the time to settle into this fresh start.  And, it truly has been one.  We had lived in the same house for almost 24 years.   I didn’t realize how little attention I was giving to the passing time.  The days just went by.  (I am old enough for that to be a very scary prospect!)  At the moment, every thing at the new house is a challenge…including finding it!  I did that for the very first time (with no wrong turns) just last week!  Direction-challenged, a not-so-smart phone…those are my excuses, anyway…

We are all here at the beach, which tends to suspend the worries of the day or week until the return “home”.  Since we have managed to reclaim some significant square footage from the box piles (with lots of help) AND, now have a place to sit and prop our feet up, AND, have hosted the family Christmas dinner (put the extra leaves in my table for the first time in 25 years), the new house is feeling a bit more like “home”.  The kids seem to like it, which helps.  We have ventured out into new territory, checked out some of the local sights, and landed some good pizza…

I have written my article for PAGES and sent it off.  Doing the step-outs might be a challenge…those boxes again…just where is that gesso?  But, that is the worry for a different day.  My daughter has talked me into joining a mystery, choose-your-own-adventure knit-along…even though I don’t really knit.  But, the idea of doing it together, even by long distance (along with a lot of other knitters on Ravelry), is appealing.  I ordered a watercolor palette from Daniel Smith which will be waiting in my mailbox when we get home.  Am thinking to improve my drawing skills with some (almost)-daily practice…playing with my watercolors at the same time might be just rewarding enough to make it happen.  Bought the most beautifully variegated string at the yarn store yesterday.  It is blue.  Kate asked me why I bought it.  My answer was “hair”.  “What?”   I could see the doll in my mind as plain as day…with the prettiest blue hair…and then, there are the miles and miles of walls to paint…

Who knows what the new year will bring?  I’ve got some plans, which are a good thing, I think.  I will go along as if I were really “in charge”…but, if I have learned any thing from the past few months…it is that it is all a bit of an illusion (that I might be in charge, and once again, be able to have a plan).   Making the best of it, and getting a little work done on the side has to be good enough for now.  Hope your new year is as full of promise as mine seems to be.  For the most part, I think that it might be all about how one chooses to look at it.  Reality check at some future date…

The Thought-Filled Gift

My daughter says that I taught her how to give gifts.  If that is so, then she has certainly learned the lesson well.  She sent me a package which arrived about ten days ago.  How do I know the exact date?  Well, it is was box of presents!  One for each day in December!  And, I opened No. 10 today!  In my previous, ordinary life this would have been a wonderful gift.  In the life I am living at the moment (packing, sorting, packing…more sorting, packing, packing, packing…), the day’s gift has been THE shiny, bright spot in my day.

She started out gently with some chocolates…two…just enough for a bit of a treat. Since then, I have gotten a package of wildflower seeds for my new “meadow”, a beautifully hand-knitted rose…so soft…I am munching on some cinnamon honey roasted almonds (No. 5) as I write this.  They are from the farmers’ market.  Not only are they delicious, but they remind me of the sunny Saturday I last got to wander through it.  Sun shining, yummy things to sample along the aisle, gathering stuff for a great dinner…  Today’s gift was an ornament (an ear of corn) for my “fruit and vegetable” tree…a bunch of branches stuck into a large cobalt blue vase (but, not this year…couldn’t find that vase among the boxes if my life depended upon it…)   As the collection grows (now expanded to include anything edible), it gets ever more challenging to find something “new”.

Two days ago, the gift was a donation in my name to send an Afghani girl to school for a year.  Thoughtful gifts.  Thoughtful daughter.  Fourteen more to go.  A bright spot for every single day.  She has promised to deliver the last one in person…that will be the best gift of all…that “in person” part.

ps:  This moving thing is getting serious now.  Most everything is in boxes.  The furniture lined up, empty, ready to go.  Rugs rolled up.  Dishes down to two; forks and knives, the same. The truck comes Friday.  The kids, a few days after that.  They are hoping for beds, dinner and Christmas cookies…probably not in that order.  So, I am taking a break to savor all of these good things.  I hope you will too.  I will be back mid-January…take care.

 

 

Being Thankful

I will be the first to admit, my life lately has been a roller coaster ride.  There have been the high spots and the low ones.  We have just taken a second truck load of stuff to the new house (not yet referred to as “home”, one might note…)  Got lots of hard (and, heavy, very heavy) things this time.  It took us nine hours to load the truck (always trying to fill in every single cubic inch) and about half again as long to unload on the other end…hours and hours.  We squeezed in an essential (and much postponed) side trip to the beach to finally clean up after summer tenants who seem to have far more “fun” at the beach than I ever do…not going there…  Let’s just say that in our family, the week of clean-up is called “hell week”.   Totally, self-explanatory.  If you can imagine it,  I have cleaned it up.  Dancing on the roof…really?  Believe me, it has been done.

But, this year, in an odd way, the few days away have been good.  My re-set button has been pushed.  And, though we are “home????” alone this Thanksgiving, and every place we might call home, is in a complete state of disarray, I HAVE found a flat surface to do a bit of work:  still, trying to finish this year’s ornaments.  Motivated by sheer stubborness, I am sure, this unexpected chance to work has been good.  Sort of like the life I knew and loved.  Soon.  It will all be coming soon…presents, carefully chosen and lovingly wrapped for kids coming to stay for a while, some colored lights, lots of family, a new year, a fresh start…and flat surfaces galore, lots of flat surfaces are in my future…wait til you see…the ornaments this year are richly textured, totally unexpected…and in that way, sort of like my life right now.

Lots to be thankful for. May yours be as rich and full…but, take note, the moral here is that sometimes, you have to take a fresh look at your life to find the goodness in today’s day.  Look and be thankful.  This is my wish for you.