While I was away, I wrote long posts with few pictures. Thanks for sticking it out. We got home last night, so I thought I’d do something I rarely do: a photo essay.
Over the last several years, I’ve spent a lot of time doing emergency knitting. I’ve knit at the vet while one cat or another was having an emergency exam or procedure. I’ve knit in hospital rooms, while visiting with a friend or family member. I’ve knit at home or in the homes of family members, while keeping a quiet vigil during a loved ones’ last days.
Managing during difficult situations is one of the oft-cited benefits of knitting. Knitting is the perfect thing to keep your hands and, depending on the project and what you need, your mind occupied. The repetitive motion of the needles is soothing and the quiet click the needles make as they slide past each other is a white noise. You feel like you are doing something, which helps stave off the desperate realization that sometimes there is nothing that you can do. Knitting takes off just a little bit of that edge and allows you to be more present in whatever challenging circumstance you face.
Yesterday, I found myself picking out emergency knitting projects. We got the call that we knew would come sometime in the not too distant future. My mother-in-law passed away. We were able to find a flight for late in the day and we flew up to New Jersey. We don’t know yet how long we’ll be here.
This is a little bit different than the other times I’ve picked out emergency knitting projects. I had a little time to contemplate which projects to bring — I didn’t have to just grab whatever WIP I could find on short notice. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, so I don’t know how much time I will need to fill with knitting. I expect that most of the knitting I get done, will probably be done in the evening or other down times, as a way to relax. I won’t be knitting while exhausted or knitting in dark spaces, so I could bring more complicated knitting rather than a plain stockinette project.
All of this added up to lace. It takes a while and is perfect for occupying the mind when you need a distraction. Plus, I have several lace WIPs in varying degrees of difficulty, so I can make progress on reducing my pile of WIPs and account for different levels of concentration. I ended up bringing 3 projects, all of them lace shawl WIPs.
The first project I packed for this trip is Begonia Swirl. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve knit this before. A friend of mine borrowed it and accidentally felted it. A few months later, I bought the yarn to reknit it. I’m not sure exactly when I cast on, but according to my January 15, 2016 blog post, it was months before that. I’ve done significant knitting on it since then, but it has been months since I picked it up. Here’s how it looks right now.
This project was a good choice under the circumstances. It’s a straightforward pattern, mostly stockinette. I do have to count stitches as I knit, since I did not put in stitch markers to separate sections, but if I mess up it is easy to figure out where I am.
This shawl is one that I have never blogged about and I never created a Ravelry project for it. I cast it on in August 2015, knit about half of it and haven’t looked at it since. The pattern is Morrigan by Beata Jezek (Ravelry link) and I’m knitting it with Nerd Girl Yarns Stellar, a laceweight yarn that is 75% Merino, 20% Silk, and 5% silver-toned Stellina, in the Colorway Merlin. I picked the pattern because Morrigan and Merlin are both part of the King Arthur mythology. It’s not a difficult lace pattern, but of the projects I brought with me, this is the one that requires the most focus to knit because it is not a primarily stockinette pattern.
The final project is a shawl I started in mid-2107 and I have neither written a blog post about it nor added it to my Ravelry projects. This one is Linea by LaVisch Designs (Ravelry link). I am knitting it with Baah La Jolla (100% Superwash Merino) in Brazilian Emerald.
I sometimes test knit for LaVisch Designs and she earburns me to her Ravelry group whenever she has a new test knit available. This pattern is not one that I test knit; I bought the pattern after it was released.
Linea is a pretty basic knit and certainly the easiest of any of the projects I brought with me. One of my goals for 2017 was to knit some larger shawls. Linea is written for one skein of fingeringweight yarn, but I plan to use two skeins. I will increase the number of repeats of the body pattern until I think I have just enough to do the large border and bind off. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through the first skein.
I’m taking a time out from packing to write a quick post. Last November, I registered attend PlyAway, a spinning conference hosted by PLY Magazine. My friend Lorelle was planning to go too, but by the time registration came around, she knew she wouldn’t be able to attend. “I’d love to go to fiber events with you,” she lamented, “but work and other financial obligations keep me from going. Why aren’t there any local retreats?”
“We can make our own retreat,” I responded. And so we have. This weekend, six of us our staying in a condo on the beach. One or two others are driving in for the day on Saturday. I’m the only one who knows everyone going. Everyone else knows no more than two others and some (including Lorelle) don’t know anyone other than me. We have no firm schedule. Everyone’s bringing their projects. Via e-mail, everyone shared what they are bringing and what they’d like to learn. Fredi’s bringing unwashed fleece and will show us how to wash it. She’s bringing her drum carder and hand combs so we can make rolags if we wish. I’m bringing all my acid dyes and equipment for dyeing, including bare yarn. Dawn’s bringing bare fiber. Dawn, Nancy, and I are all bringing our rigid heddle looms. Shellee and Lorelle have never woven before and want to try it out. Everyone except Shellee spins; she’s going to try the spindles Nancy and Dawn are bringing. Everyone else is also bringing their spinning wheels. Shellee will show us her unique method of knitting. She speeds along so fast, her hands are a blur.
So now I’m packing, and I must consider the first question — the one a fiber crafter always asks before she packs anything else — which projects shall I bring? How many is too many.
I’m definitely bringing the current project on my rigid heddle loom.
I’ll bring yarn to warp the loom again, in case I finish this project. I have at least 3 spinning projects in progress, but I’m only going to bring the Three Feet of Sheep with me.
I really run into trouble with the knitting projects. Shall I bring the Bubble Baby Blanket that I haven’t worked on in months, but is part of my Detention OWL for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC)?
Or the Begonia Swirl Shawl that I started months ago to replace the one that was accidentally felted?
Of course I’m going to bring the Cloisters Shawl I only started working on a week and a half ago!
I need to bring some crochet. Because I must have all the things, right? I’ll probably just toss some cotton and a hook into my bag so I can whip up some quick dishcloths.
Maybe 2, no 3, who am I kidding 4, better make it 5, seriously 6 skeins is the limit.
Am I bringing enough? Better toss in just one more thing — I don’t want to run out of projects.
Oh! Shellee is bringing blocking mats and wires. I need to bring the 3 shawls I have laying about that just need blocking!
I have not yet written crafting goals for 2016. November and December were pretty crazy around here! First was my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. Then there was the Weavers of Orlando Annual Sale, followed the next weekend by the Holiday Party. Then we had Christmas festivities with my family. On December 28, I flew to Indiana to play matron of honor for Stacy’s wedding on January 2. Chris flew up on December 31 so we got to spend New Year’s Eve together. We just flew home this afternoon, to a cooler and wetter Florida than I left last Monday. Stacy’s reception was held in a building at the same fairgrounds that hosts The Fiber Event. It was so strange to be in that building without seeing rows of lovely fiber, yarn, and tools for sale!
This past week has been busy as the wedding preparations including baking 680 cookies and a 5-tier wedding cake! Stacy, her mother, her aunt, her sister-in-law, and I baked the cookies last Wednesday. Fortunately, we had the use of Stacy’s parents’ church kitchen, which had a commercial oven that could fit 150 cookies at once. We baked all 680 cookies in only 3.5 hours!
After baking cookies, we started on the cakes. I was the lead decorator and giver of orders, as I have been decorating cakes since I was 12! I made the cakes and the lemon curd. Stacy made the chocolate ganache and all the buttercream and mixed lemon buttercream and raspberry buttercream.
Her mother and aunt cut out fondant Christmas trees and painted them with powdered food coloring. I showed Stacy’s sister-in-law how to pipe miniature Christmas trees and she cranked out 250 of them, while Stacy’s mother went behind her putting the little stars on top of each tree.
Stacy’s brother cut the dowel rods that help support each tier (using a pipe cutter borrowed from a cousin) and her father cut and sharpened the dowel rod that goes from the top to bottom through all the tiers. When it came time to stack all the cakes, Chris helped me line up my edges correctly. At every step of the way, Stacy and I discussed colors and placement of pieces. This is the first time I’ve made a cake in such a collaborative fashion. It was so much fun, and I love the result!
Now that the wedding is over and I’m home, it’s time to look ahead and lay out my goals for 2016.
Before I start making ambitious plans for myself, I wanted to look back at 2015, to see what I finished and what remains unfinished. I’m working on a slide show of all the projects I finished this year, and I will publish that later this week. Today, I’m making a list of all my WIPs. It’s a scary list, even though it only includes projects I’ve actually started, not everything in my mental queue!
Projects started in 2015
- TKGA Master Knitter, Level 1
- This week I will start working on addressing my gauge issue
- Splash Socks (started in April 2015)
- Tier Scarf (started in June 2015)
- Miranda Shawl (started in July 2015)
- Bubbles Baby Blanket (started in July 2015)
- Morrigan Shawl (started in August 2015)
- Begonia Swirl Shawl Redux (started in August 2015)
- I still have all the sweaters I got from S. They need to be seamed and blocked. I believe there’s 10 or 11 projects right there!
Projects started prior to 2015
- Dishcloth Advent Calendar
- I need to knit or crochet 18 each of 25 different patterns. This is a list of the knitted dishcloths I’ve finished.
- 18 leaves
- 18 tribble scrubbies
- 18 waffle stitch
- 4 brick pattern
- 16 illusion heart
- 4 random designs (1 each of 4 different patterns)
- Traveling Scarf
- Baby Blue Monster
- Granny Square Blanket (started in 2014)
- Skulls and Roses Scarves (started in October 2015)
- Dishcloth Advent Calendar
- I need to knit or crochet 18 each of 25 different patterns. This is a list of the crochet dishcloths I’ve finished.
- 18 hyperbolic
- 9 ladderstitch
- 4 or 5 diagonal (corner to corner)
- Camel Down / Silk Blend (started in September 2015)
- Three Feet of Sheep (started in August 2015)
- One pound of BFL (started in November 2015)
Since the only loom I’ve been using is my rigid heddle, I only have one weaving project in process! I started this scarf on December 5, 2015 while at the Weavers of Orlando Annual Sale, so that I could demo weave. I talked to many people throughout the days of the sale and did a fair bit of weaving. I haven’t had time to work on it since.
In addition to this project, I now have the storage unit full of weaving things to sort. This includes minor repairs to one loom (the 36″ Harrisville) and probably a complete refinish of a second loom (the 48″ Macomber). I’m hoping to the the storage unit cleaned out by mid-February, though the refinishing job will most likely take longer than that.
Dyeing doesn’t really have WIPs as something is either dyed or it isn’t. But this is a list of dyeing projects I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t.
- Dye Maple Leaf Shawls (pending since December 2014)
- Dye Triangles (pending since August 2014)
- water source / pH experiment (pending since early 2015)
I’m not sure if this is actually all my WIPs. It’s everything I could find laying about or listed in my Ravelry project pages, but I’m sure I missed more.
Remember the Begonia Swirl Shawl that I knit last year? Here’s what it looked like when I finished it.
I lent it to a friend to use as a head scarf, and she washed it before returning it to me. She’s not a knitter and didn’t know enough to ask about the fiber content before washing. She tossed it in the washer and dryer. The results were, for knitters, predictable.
I’m not sure that she intentionally put the shawl in the washer and dryer. It might have accidentally snuck into her laundry and she didn’t know until she was folding. We haven’t talked about it. I found the shawl in with some other things. I was heartbroken at first, and couldn’t bring myself to ask. I guess I don’t see the point of having this type of conversation. She didn’t do it on purpose. Hopefully, she’s learned to ask about fiber content before cleaning things. What else is there to say? Any time I start the conversation in my head, it sounds accusatory and guilt-inducing. I see no value coming from that. So I let it go.
My worse case scenario is that I get to knit this shawl again. I don’t have enough of the yarn left to knit it in the exact same yarn, but it’s not like I’m lacking yarn — I have a stash that is 63 miles long and contains many appropriate options for reknitting this shawl. The pattern was fun and not terribly difficult. It took me less than six weeks to knit, even though I had other projects going at the same time.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the felted shawl. For now, I’ve folded it and put it away in the drawer with my other shawls. When I took the pictures for this blog post, the shawl reminded me of a Colonial-era collar, though of course that would have been white and not this bright blue. I’m contemplating felting it a little bit more and drying it flatter or steaming to see if I can even out some of the wrinkles caused by the felting, then figuring out a way of using it as part of a costume. I’ve never made a historical costume, but I have at least two fiber events (a Spin In hosted by the Saint Augustine Spinner’s Guild and a Weavers Guild of Orlando demo as part of a Shakespeare festival at a local high school) coming up where costumes are appropriate or expected. Perhaps I’ll be able to find a way to use this shawl in its felted state!