Every once in a while it is really nice to go off the grid. While I didn’t go to the jungles of the Amazon or Margaritaville (okay maybe once), it has been really great to take some time for me and reflect on what is important, why I blog and who I am in the big crazy blogosphere. Everything on the home front is great- teeth have been lost, Kindergarten started, Angus will be six in two weeks. Duncan started in the Primary classroom (they are going to a Montessori), he is behaving like a true three year old, complete with the lying on the floor having fits. Very effective birth control for Mommy.
I love autumn. Love love love it. Spring may mean renewal for some but for me, it is autumn. The smell of the air, the clothes and the colors. One way I know that autumn is on its way is that my birthday rolls around. A couple of days ago I turned 29 again. (38 in the real world) Apparently there was quite a bit of confusion when the boys were putting the candles on my cake. Angus looked at his father and said: “Mommy was Twenty Eight last year? I thought she was Twenty Nine.” The age thing started as a joke and I will have to set the boys straight. I love the age I am.
One of my local yarn shops gives a birthday discount. Shop within a week of your birthday and get half your age as the percentage discounted off your purchase.
The third week in August is a season all on its own in our household. As I said the 22nd was my birthday and next week is our wedding Anniversary. It is a time of assessment, reflection and excitement. There is of course the celebratory excitement and there is also the excitement of the upcoming change in season and the possibility it offers. There is also the excitement of having the kids out of the house and into to the yard more as it is really too hot and humid for them to be outside as much as they like during the summers here. Scavenger hunts, playing tag and general boyishness.
The lure of autumn seems to bring out the nesting instinct in our household, at least with the adults. We are cleaning out, hiring movers to rearrange the furniture in the house (we have some very large, heavy pieces), looking at paint colors and I have completely redecorated the house (at least in my head). Autumn crops are being planned, canning has been done with more to come. Some chutney was put up, which should be ready in the middle of November bringing the lovely tastes of summer to a leafless and chilly landscape. Recipes are being consulted and the pantry is being stocked. French canning jars were ordered. The biggest project currently is turning the sewing and knitting laboratory back into a tidy and usable space. My mind is reeling with projects and possibilities that a tidy well stocked space affords me.
Meet Mr. Figgy. He is only a two year old and I thought I had killed him last winter. Clearly I misjudged the situation. A good number of the figs are headed for this Nigella’s Figs in Rum Syrup. (Found in this book.)
Thank you for all your lovely comments about the log cabin blanket. Truly appreciated. Mwahh!
One of the great things about not knitting a garment is that when you have had enough you can stop. And I am D-O-N-E with Rowan Cork. Had I bought it in a store and not online I wouldn’t have bought it. Wait, what I meant to say was that is had I felt it, I wouldn’t have bought it. But buy it I did. And wanting to make the most of it I churned out this log cabin blanket. I still have Rowan Cork left but I couldn’t go on with it. Squeeky Squeeky yarn. Luckily it is the perfect size for a small child or an adult lap blanket. I might knit a couple of Dulaan hats with the leftovers. But for now I am happy to be done with it. (Oh and I should mention that I knit it on size 9 needles, not the suggested 11s, it is a very nice dense fabric.) And one more note- I thought I was imagining it- it seemed to me that some colors were squeekier than others, sure enough one has 5% nylon and one has 10%. Go figure.
I am so excited, I made a new friend. A knitting friend. Our kids are in camp together this summer and we got to talking. Turns out she is a knitter. And she is kind and lovely and lives in Seoul. Yep, like South Korea Seoul. Unfair! When she came over last week, I showed her Ann & Kay’s book and she was a goner. So I amazoned her a copy and she is in love. So we went to the yarn store this week and I thought she was going to faint. Vita (who works at the LYS) and I pondered what would happen if I took her to Sheep & Wool. We decided that she would need the cardiac team or at least smelling salts. So we are at the store and she whips out the MDK book and says: I want to make this, and this and this. A girl after my own heart. She wants to make the Joseph Blankie of Many Colors, the Baby Kimono and the Mitred Square Blanket.
When I saw her picking colors for the Blanket I caved. I knew it was coming, I could feel the KAL vibe coming on strong. I was so excited that we could have a Pacific Rim KAL. Then I remembered, I don’t live in Seattle anymore. So maybe it will be a Trans Continental KAL instead.
To distract from the heat and the fact that I have to order school uniforms for Kindergarten (eyes welling up, lump in throat) I will show you a child’s quilt I made. It is for a school mate of the boys who has had a great sadness this summer.
Fun and easy to make. Except the backing is giving me fits. There are a couple of things that are wrong with it, so I will need to un-quilt (rip-out) all the quilting I did. First, I did not baste nearly enough. Lesson learned. Second, the batting I used is awful, squeaky and you can see through the three layers. Not good, again Lesson Learned. In the interest of full disclosure I will show you the back, please don’t laugh directly at me-go around the corner first!
What do you do when it is the hottest day of the year (until tomorrow of course)? You get a swift kick in the arse from Norma, do some stash diving and make a hat for Dulaan. Cracks me up that the HEAT of Virginia has me knitting for Mongolian winter. Four (yes really four) strands of baby Alpaca brush/ Plymouth yarns held together. Man, I think this thing will make a yak sweat. I ended up with about a half of each ball left, so now I am making a scarf. Plus I have eight whole balls left which will hopefully turn into another hat & scarf. Or maybe a gator. Thanks again Norma for your swift kick. Love it. And maybe the best part? It took me all of 2 hours. I am going to put a big cardboard box in my sewing/knitting laboratory marked Dulaan. Let us see what I can do for next year, shall we?
Don’t we all love looking through pattern books, catalogs and of course the internet dreaming of projects to take on? Certainly, I spend far more time than is prudent partaking in this kind of dreamy state than I care to admit. Also included are cookbooks, garden design books and seed catalogs. Rowan long ago captured my heart. My first one, Number 12, was a revelation for me. I made 6 different pieces from my dear, dreamy Number 12. It is safely tucked away because I really would cry if something happened to it, and with the boys it is a strong possibility. Over the years, I have collected almost all of them. Sigh.
Now, I have begun to amass the Rowan/Kaffe quilting/patchwork books. I love them too, though the commentary takes away from the overall effect- reality intruding on my dreaming. I do prefer to let my mind drift and imagine things as opposed to having it all explained to me.
As with both sets of books, they rate the experience level a person should have to undertake a project. With the knitting books, this never really bothered me, I simply ignored it. But now as I spend more time sewing, I find I pay attention to the stated difficulty level more. This bothers me immensely on two fronts. First, it bothers me that I pay attention to them and hear myself thinking “Oh, that has THREE stars, I couldn’t make that”. It is maddening to me and I consider this a flaw in my character. Second, closely tied to the first, is why bother rating them at all? If you tell somebody that something is difficult, then it IS difficult. Why not let me have at it and see where I end up. Maybe I will learn something new. With the boys, I really try to limit my telling them something is difficult. I will absolutely tell them it is dangerous (which will not stop them), and shy away from saying something is difficult (which will stop them).
If they insist on a rating system, don’t you think they could come up with a more encouraging one? How much Joy will this bring you? How many generations of your family will get to enjoy your beautiful creation? How special will the recipient feel when they receive your gift? How much will you learn or better how much your confidence in your abilities will be boosted? That is the kind of rating system I am interested in.
And this little baby, is a ten out of ten on the How much Joy will it bring you scale. I am smitten.
A few days ago, when I picked up the boys from summer camp, I noticed the daughter of the Director sitting and knitting. She is a beautiful young lady of ten. As I approached, I noticed she was knitting chenille. Then I spied her knitting needles. Pencils. Two colored pencils – both white if you must know. And rust colored chenille. My heart began to sing. The drive, the ingenuity, the adorability of it all. It does in fact, get better…she was knitting a bracelet for her big brother. Ponder this for a moment. I strive to raise my children like this one. So, I did have the presence of mind to take a deep breath and not scare the daylights out of her, then I did the silliest thing in the world. I said “So, are you knitting?” Uh, no I am building a nuclear reactor – to her credit she only said yes, I am knitting and then she told me that her teacher offered free knitting classes last year. It was necessary to reign it in again as I was about to scar her for life with my excitement.)
Then she seemed to be having some trouble. Again, I took a deep breath and asked what she was trying to do and if she needed help. She said “I am trying to finish this off and could you help me?” So I showed her how to bind off. This was such a great experience. The next day I dropped off a little package for her to keep in her mom’s desk at work. Yarn, needles, a needle/stitch gauge and Kid’s Knitting. The joy that is brought me to give her more knowledge, for me they were not things but gateways to her self expression, was wonderful.
This is all part of the Food Chain. Many, many people over the years have taken the time to share their knowledge with me and I am much the richer for it. By taking the moment to share my excitement with a young lady, I feel that I am fulfilling my part in the Food Chain.
While I have been knitting for many years, and sewing for some years, I still consider myself a novice in both arenas. Not a beginner but a novice, and yes, I do think there is a difference. Part of me always wants to be a novice in many areas of my life, with my handwork, my husband, my children. How boring would it be if I learned all I could learn about these areas (or any area) of my life. To me, being a novice means being always curious, always wanting to learn more and trying to do better.
There are so many people that inspire, teach and guide me. It is amazing to me how lessons in one area of my life can inform a completely different area of my life. My father, an attorney whom I love more than anything, has taught me so much about creativity, the innate beauty in the world and being true to yourself. Really, his training and mine could not be more different and yet his academic training has informed almost all of my creative endeavors. The Food Chain in action.
Lastly, I wanted to show you a sketch made out of fabric. I have been sewing, pressing, sewing, pressing and making progress on the Awry Log Cabin Quilt. I am making samples/ sketches/blocks to see how they look. Here is a sample, laying on Frog, who is laying on a rain coat of the boy’s. I think these experiments might turn out beautifully.
Have a great weekend and thank you for stopping by-
I just said to Angus, “Someday there will be a girl you love, other than Mommy.” He said: “I will always love you best.” Oh my, how I wish it was true.
While I am not as precision oriented as some, I do love it. The joke is, okay the fact is, that I am the world’s most lazy ocd type person. I can see where every little thing is out of place and not do a thing to fix it.
A while back I wanted to plant some seeds in the garden beds around the house and the boys very much wanted to help. We have a saying in this house:”It is only help if the other person says so.” The help I wanted (?) was making holes in nice little rows and then covering them up. Not a chance. The boys did not want rows of any sort. To say this was frustrating is a total understatement. Going against every fiber of my being, I handed them about 3 seed packets each and instructed them to plant them “over there.”