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Happiness and sadness

15 Apr

bonnet

I write for a living. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that on this blog before, but I feel like it’s important to mention right now, because it partially explains my absence from posting recently. I’ve been sitting here in the snowy mountains, continuing to knit up a storm while winter sort of petered out prematurely around me.

I’m a public relations writer at a university, the same one where I graduated four years ago after receiving what I believe is the best journalism education in the country. I write a lot of different things, including articles, magazine features, simple newsletters for campus, etc. I love my work and I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to get paid to write, but lately it’s left me with little interest in writing in my spare time, even on this blog, which I also love.

But I knew I’d come back to it eventually, when I had something to say. Sadly, today I do have something to say.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for the past couple years, you’ll know that I knit a lot of baby stuff “just in case.” I finally have a real little person to knit for now, because my husband an I are welcoming a nephew into the world this summer. I’m extremely excited and I’ve been planning very special little knits for the new man in my life, even though he’ll live in Southern California, where knitters dare not tread.

Over the weekend I knit this Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap, a pattern I’ve been in love with for years. I used a dark blue cotton/acrylic and some self-striping sock yarn to make what I think is the cutest little bonnet ever. It’s incredibly soft and light, but feels cool and luxurious in your hand. I took this little bonnet to work with me today, partly because I wanted to take some photos in nice light at my office, and partly because I just hadn’t finished fawning over it yet.

As a former journalist and someone who still works with the media, I keep a news tab open on my computer pretty much all day. This afternoon one word took over my news and Twitter feeds: Boston. I’m a big fan of running, so I was paying attention to the marathon, but my world kind of stopped today when I realized the gravity and horror of the bombings that took place at America’s oldest, most prestigious race.

I have been saddened lately that every time I read the news or turn on the television someone is talking about another mass shooting, stabbing, bombing or other attack. But, I’m sorry to say, I’ve become desensitized to it over the years. I was 14 when 9/11 happened, even younger during Columbine. I’ve grown up in an America of mass violence on a horrifying scale, and although it is sad, it’s become the America I know.

But today something snapped. I’m always saddened by tragedies like this, even if I’m not shocked. But when I read the news about Boston, saw the photos, watched the videos and heard people crying in terror, I instinctively reached over to my desk and grabbed this little bonnet.

I suddenly became scared that my nephew and the my future children will be born into this America.

Many people have said today that the good people always outnumber the bad, and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that I found myself crying at my desk today as I thought of the happiness of the runners, their families and the bystanders who were enjoying the Boston Marathon, and then the sadness and fear that overtook the event and always will mar our memory of this day and the race.

I now live in a country were you can’t safely go to a movie theater, watch a race on a street, go shopping in a mall or even attend school, not only as a teenager or adult, but as a small child.

I can pour all the love in the world into these tiny stitches and hope that my new nephew will feel it, but I am helpless to protect the people most important to me from the extreme violence that has overtaken us.

My brother-in-law, the little nephew’s father, is a sheriff’s deputy in a dangerous county in California. He goes to work every day to protect people and make his community a safer place. I vote for politicians I believe will work to help us stem violence in our country. I listen to my stepdaughter and try to help her work through her inevitable emotions of angst, isolation and disappointment. We keep no weapons in the home, so if talking doesn’t work, no options of mass violence are readily available to express those emotions.

I feel my family does all that it can to prevent these tragedies from happening, but nothing changes the fact that this morning that little bonnet made me happy, and tonight it makes me sad.

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Bessie’s Kitchen Hat

19 Jan
This easy chevron hat only took about two days to knit.

This easy chevron hat only took about two days to knit.

I’ve had my eye on the Ida’s Kitchen pattern by Kristen Kapur for a while now, so when I picked up some Debbie Bliss Ecobaby on clearance recently at my LYS, I gathered up some other odds and ends of sport-weight yarn and cast on this adorable hat. See my project here.

I have a small head, so I sized down the needles and used US 5 for the brim and US 6 for the body and crown. This pattern is a great way to bust sport and DK yarn ends from your stash. Each color only uses about 40 yds, and you can experiment with so many different colors.

The pattern calls for seven colors. The ones I used were:

  • A: Brown (KnitPicks Simply Cotton Sport)
  • B: Blue (Debbie Bliss Ecobaby)
  • C: Orange (South West Trading Company Terra)
  • D: Taupe (Debbie Bliss Ecobaby)
  • E: Green (South West Trading Company Terra)
  • F: Purple (Debbie Bliss Ecobaby)
  • G: Yellow (South West Trading Company Terra)

The hat only took a couple of days to knit and the pattern is very easy to memorize. This hat was a great way to work out the chevron love I developed while knitting my Chevron Stripes Baby Blanket.

Incidentally, I didn’t post the matching bonnet that I made for the blanket:

bonnet

The bonnet pattern and my modifications can be found on my Ravelry page.

Hopefully my stripe addiction will be sated for a bit and I can get back to knitting my Damask shawl.

Where have I been?

18 Dec

Image

After finishing up the vest and shawl for my parents’ birthdays this summer, I was really burned out. I took a break from knitting heavily, and I took a break from this blog. I have to admit, it was nice to recharge my batteries and get ready to tackle some knitting projects full of love once again.

In the past few months I have completed a sweater for my husband, some hats, a pair of slippers and other small items. It’s been great and relaxing.

Since I’m now knitting more consistently, I’ll get back into posting on this blog as I go. Right now I have two projects on my needles. One, pictured above, is the Baby Aran Bodysuit by Eileen Casey, and another is the Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

Hmm… Those projects have something in common, don’t they? Well, the big reveal is:

I’m not pregnant!

Why am I knitting so much baby stuff (not counting the pile of finished projects I have tucked away in a box) if I’m not even pregnant? Call it wishful knitting.

If you’ve stuck around long enough to see me return to the blog, thank you. I hope to share some more pictures and stories with you in the coming months.

Whaaaaaa?

14 May

I don’t get a lot of messages on Ravelry. I don’t have many “friends” on the site, and my projects don’t generally make waves. So imagine my surprise when I logged into my account this evening for a little yarn browsing and I saw a new message.

From Ann Budd.

The knitwear designer Ann Budd.

She left a simple, nice comment on my farmer’s market bag (see below), which she of course designed: “Great job–I love it in cotton!”

I guess I knew deep down that knitwear designers are real people, and since they’re knitters they’re probably very nice real people, but I’m still amazed. It never occurred to me that someone as cool and talented as Ann Budd cruised Ravelry just like me, dropping in on people who knit her designs and giving simple encouragement.

It’s exactly what I needed at the beginning of a long week. Thanks, Ann.

Knitting up my love

26 Apr

In the past year, I have knit myself five pairs of socks and two half-pairs.

A year is not a long time, and that number seems high, considering that I also work, have a family, and knit other things. I could easily polish off those last two pairs in a solid week of concentrated knitting and give myself a pair of handknit socks for each day of the week, but somehow that feels a bit selfish.

I have people in my life – family and friends – who mean a great deal to me, and it’s important that I find ways to share my love with them, and give back the support they give me. This includes cooking, letters and cards, keeping in close touch, etc. But the best way I can think to show my love is to knit.

I have knit myself the better part of seven pairs of socks in the last year, and I have knit a complete nine pairs for people I love, not to mention sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens. When I cast on a new project, or I’m just about to finish an item for myself, I get the itch to create something full of love and then let it go. It’s not always socks, but most often it is.

What better way to tell someone how much you care about them than to give them not one, but two coordinating handknit items? Tens of thousands of teeny stitches, each one filled with love, and they get to wrap it around their feet, and have that love carry them. For their comfort, you are giving them 20-40 hours of time, attention and skill, and saying, “Here, please walk on these. Stick them in your boots, scoot them across your floor, stretch them, tear them, wear them until they fall apart. And don’t worry, I’ll make you more.”

I never feel sad about letting go of a pair of socks, but I do feel sad when the recipient doesn’t wear them. As sock knitters, we put our love into yarn and form it to the shape of a foot, and when it doesn’t go anywhere, all that love just hangs out in the universe with nothing to do and no one to support. We guard ourselves against letting that much love go without a purpose again, and some people don’t get more pairs of socks. It isn’t that we don’t love them anymore, it’s that we love them too much to let it go to waste, and maybe we need to build more trust and security before we can expect them to wear our love on their feet.

But the people who do walk around on their handknit love are rewarded with so much more. That’s why there haven’t been many updates on Sockilism in the past week. I’m putting my love into something new. My needles are busy and my heart is full, which is good because I have a long ways to go.

I want to leave you with a quote that has been on my mind a lot lately, and will hopefully carry me through this project and back to my own two half-pairs of socks:

“Let me think about the people that I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.” – Ze Frank

An early resolution

18 Dec

When I started this blog last spring, I really wanted to stick with it. I love knitting. I love writing. I love having a web presence that helps me share my newest knits and keep my projects organized.

However, I failed. Despite my mild efforts, I slipped away from blogging, and the longer it had been since my last post, the less likely I was to sit down and get going again. It would mean acknowledging my failure. Which I am now doing.

So, on that note, I am kicking off a 2012 resolution early and restarting my blog.

To catch you up on some of the things I’ve been doing for the past few months, here are a couple photos:

Eugenia Mittens

These Eugenia Mittens have kept my fingers very toasty as the Montana frost gains ground.

 

The mittens above were a weekend project that has paid off very well. Montana gets cold in winter. Can you believe that? And even though it’s been a wonderfully mild winter, the mornings and nights are quite nippy, and these mittens have been my saving grace while scraping my windshield. The pattern is Eugenia’s Mittens (Ravelry link) and the yarn is Berroco Comfort Worsted in Coffeeberry.

I don’t have a ton of pictures of my knitting projects from the past few months, but I have been working on some very important Christmas knitting. Among which are some “Julekuler” – also known as Christmas Balls – from the Arne & Carlos book “55 Christmas Balls to Knit”. Arne & Carlos are Norwegian knitting dynamos, and this book features ornaments with traditional and contemporary Fair Isle-technique patterns.

Christmas Balls

Three of my Julekuler all in a row.

 

Some of these balls have stayed at my house (like the Griz ball, designed by me with the logo of my alma mater) and some have gone to other homes as Christmas gifts. I will continue to make these balls as the year goes so that many more can be sent to friends and family next year. Each ball takes an afternoon or evening to make, so they’re a great quick knit.

I have more pictures and updates coming in the next few days, including: Single socks waiting for mates, Christmas gift teasers, stash yarns and my devious plans for them.

To everyone who read my blog before, and everyone who is reading this now, thank you! I hope to be better this year!

Procrasti-knitting

30 Apr

I haven’t posted for awhile. This is because of two things:

  1. I have been doing lots of things besides knitting socks.
  2. The socks I have been knitting I can’t put up on here until Mother’s Day.

I feel bad that I haven’t posted on here, but I’ve been busy with life and knitting and even some sewing, and none of it really had me running to my computer to update the world.

The Mother’s Day socks I’m working on for my mom are a mixed bag. I have completed one sock, and it looks really great. On the other had, I hate the pattern. I think the directions are poorly written, I totally rewrote the charts for myself after struggling unneccesarily down the leg, and although they look very nice, I don’t think the point of the pattern comes across very well. They’re a bit gimmicky (in a good way), and although I see some nice lace on my finished sock, I have to really look to catch the gimmick. I’m sure my mom will love them, because that’s how moms are, but after waiting for the proper needles to come in so I could even work on these, I’m unimpressed.

I did cast on another sock to fill some spare time. I finished it in a day. It was a very small sock for my stepdaughter, with a very simple pattern, and as soon as I finish the other sock for my mom, I’ll make its pair – and post pictures.

I also cast on a baby sweater. Don’t get excited, I’m not pregnant. I don’t even know anyone I’m close to that is pregnant, but it seemed like a good planning measure. It’s knitting up kind of fast, and is great travel knitting I can crack some rows out on while waiting places. I carry it around in my new bag.

The front of my big new bag.

This is my nice new (big) bag. I sewed it all by myself out of Moda print cottons, laminated Amy Butler cotton and an old handle I had around the house. The button is a giant vintage mother-of-pearl number, courtesy of my mom.

The inside of my big new bag. Laminated Amy Butler cotton.

The inside of this bag makes it the perfect transport for knitting. Needles can be sharp, especially the tiny ones you use for socks, and I’ve had a few purses impaled by my hobby. I’ve been using this bag now for over a week and have yet to experience any impalement issues. And it’s pretty. Win/win.

One top of being a bit burned out over my mom’s socks, I’ve been wanting to use some of the knitting books I recently bought. A small, inexpensive project from Véronik Avery’s “Knitting 24/7” kept jumping out at me, so last night I started the Ropes and Ladders Headband, and today I finished it:

My nifty headband from Knitting 24/7

This was perfect weekend knitting and I think it will be a great accessory for work and play. The yarn was KnitPicks Simply Cotton Sport in Bittersweet Heather. I used about 30 grams from a 50-gram ball. With a couple of silver buttons in the back, this as a fun, fast knit.

I promise I’ll have some more socks on here soon. Damn secrets.