May the next year, and all your years, be filled with beautiful color, wonderful yarn, and knitting that comforts you in all the right ways. May your minds be content and your hearts full. May 2017 exceed all expectations. And be filled with stacks and stacks of hats and the best binge knits! Thank you all so much for sharing this space with me! I appreciate you all and thank you for the inspiration you provide on a daily basis! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! L, C
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, it feels weird to just show up like this. But this is January One and it IS January 1st and I would feel even worse if I didn’t show up! I’m still here and I’m still knitting up a storm and every day I blog in my head and every day I don’t write it down. Some of my shit is so damn good it’s gone viral! Hahaha! I know a lot of you have found me over on Instagram (I’m january_one) and I feel really at home over there. It’s like a mini blog and I enjoy the short format – especially for sharing knits and kids and quick pictures I like. I do, though, have much more to say and I miss the long format of the blog. I say this every year, but I will get back to it. I will, I will, I WILL! I’m not done over here yet, and I hope you aren’t either.
Happy New Year my friends! I miss you! And I wish you all the best in 2016 – the best for you, the best for your families, the best knits, the best books – just THE BEST!!
Reposting this because I found out today that a beautiful cedar chest I was supposed to inherit from my grandmother has been mistakenly lost. Trying to remember that the true gift is the knitting, which irrevocably altered my life and my heart. Thank you Grandmom. Thank you for my forever gift.
This is an excerpt of a letter I recently wrote to my grandmother, who taught me to knit. I had been thinking about it for awhile, and finally got off my ass to write it. I’m posting it here because I think many of you share my feelings about the gift my grandmother gave to me. Thank you for reading.
September 14, 2013
I’ve been wanting to write you a thank you note for forever, and finally, on this Yom Kippur, I’m taking the time to thank you properly.
I want to thank you for the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I don’t remember the exact date, but that rainy day after lunch when I asked you to teach me how to knit is a sacred day in my life. I was in a very bad place, my anxiety was overwhelming me and I wasn’t sure I would ever find peace. Who would have thought that neon orange acrylic yarn and slightly crooked aluminum needles would deliver that peace? You taught me to knit and purl that day. I don’t think that either of us could have predicted that knitting and purling would also show me how to live a more balanced and contented life.
Here are some of the invaluable blessings that knitting has given me in my life: I’ve learned that no one is perfect. Through my knitting I’ve come to accept that everything I make, by virtue of being made with my own two hands, will bear some mark of my humanity and therefore be imperfect. Oftentimes this has been a difficult lesson to accept, and on many occasions I have ripped out yards and yards of knitting to fix a mistake. But no matter how many mistakes I’ve made and fixed, there are always more coming, reminders of what’s important and that my knitting is beautiful because of the mistakes, not despite them! There are many traditions that specifically suggest that you add mistakes to your handiwork so you don’t offend the gods. Humans cannot be perfect – that’s the realm of the gods. Perfectionism and feeling like I need to be perfect in my life has caused me a good deal of anxiety. Learning to let go of that, especially through my knitting, has been wonderful.
One of the pioneers of the modern knitting world, Elizabeth Zimmermann, said: “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.” This has been true for me on so many occasions, it’s impossible to count! I will recall for you one time – George had been diagnosed with Melanoma and he was being operated on to remove the growth. I had sat in the waiting room through countless of his orthopedic surgeries by myself and didn’t even think to ask someone to wait with me for this surgery. I was wrong. It was dreadful waiting – the hospital specialized in treating cancer and the waiting room had an unbearable life or death pale over it. I was alone and scared, but I had my knitting. I worked row after row of a sweater and the knitting helped calm me. Counting the stitches and following the pattern kept me in the moment and prevented my mind from wandering too far into the unbearable places my brain likes to linger.
It’s not just in the life or death moments that knitting helps my monkey mind. On a regular, easy afternoon, anxiety lurks in me, ready to ruin the day and knitting is there for me then too. It keeps me grounded and in the moment. My love of knitting is so strong it can pull me back from the brink of despair. Another example: During my pregnancy with Cali, when Meli was so small and we had only been in our house a few months, I was sick from all the hormones and knitting was the last thing on my mind. I tried here and there, but it wasn’t doing it for me. Fast forward to the next winter, Cali was about six months old, the days were dark and I was in a bad place again. Besides being exhausted, anxious and on the edge of postpartum depression, I felt like I had lost all my creativity. Someone gave me advice to go out and get it back and I took that advice to heart by pulling out a huge pile of brightly colored squares I had knit to make up a blanket years before I had kids. Every day, a little bit at a time, I seamed those squares together. All those stitches I had knit so long ago in a better time, came alive under my fingertips and ignited my love for knitting again. Soon I was sitting in my parked car while Melina was in school and Cali napped, listening to the radio and knitting for a couple of glorious hours. Peace was mine again. Even if the world was chaos around me, I knew that for a couple of hours I could knit and catch my breath.
Besides helping me through the bad times, knitting has expanded my capacity for joy and friendship! Infertility really hurt my ability to write fiction – I was too preoccupied. But I stumbled upon a different community – online diaries that talked about knitting! I started one of my own and was back to writing every day. Through my knitting blog, I have met people all over the world that share my love of the craft. I have learned new techniques, been exposed to new yarns, but mainly I have been welcomed into an amazing community. Through the seemingly simple act of knitting and purling, I have found best friends that will be with me throughout my life. I have cried with these people, been lifted up by these people, been made better by these people. Most of all I have laughed with these people – deep, healing belly laughs that make my world a more peaceful place.
Knitting has also given me a wonderful link to my past. While you are a good knitter, you’ve often told me that it was Nana who was the real knitter in the family. I sadly don’t remember her knitting, but I do remember the fisherman sweaters and ponchos we all had when we were kids. Sometimes, while I knit, I think of her and like to imagine that my skills as a knitter have come from the Frankel women – it’s in my DNA. Sometimes I like to imagine that really I have no choice in my life but to be a knitter. Knitting is my destiny.
She’s wearing the shawl I gifted her.
It may seem like a tall order to expect from wool and sticks, but knitting has had a tremendous impact on my life. Thank you Grandmom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching me to knit. Thank you for everything.
I love you with all my heart.
Sue, your prize is on its way!
Thank you all so much for playing! And thank you for the fantastic birthday wishes. I hope you all had a lovely and wonderful happy new year and that 2015 is filled to the brim with lots of fibery, crafty goodness!
Happy New Year from my family to yours!
Six months without posting?! That’s got to be a record for me. And not one I’m proud of. I would tell you that time flies when you’re having fun – but it’s more like time flies and disappears when you have kids!? Between strep, two bouts of pneumonia (same kid!), two musicals (one each), two holidays and a myriad of school volunteer activities, I’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone blog. I’m not making excuses. This is not how I want it to be – I wish I could go back to writing everyday – hell – even once a week would be fantastic (and right now I’d clearly settle for once a month!)
I have been knitting. A lot in fact. And I have a ton to say about it. But that will come in the new year. I’m making a resolution to blog my knits – any and all knits – not just the finished ones. When I wait to have a finished knit, I wait forever and then don’t blog it. I am fairly active over on Instagram (see link in the sidebar.) I seem to be able to do that on the fly and I really like the knitting community over there, but it doesn’t replace blogging. I PROMISE! I will be here more often!!
In the meantime, I have a birthday coming up in a couple of days. I will be 45. That seems really old to me. I even had to get my first pair of progressive lenses last week! See: OLD! And it occurred to me the other day that my blog had a birthday – a BIG birthday and it blew right by while I wasn’t paying attention. So I turn 45 and my blog turned TEN in October! That’s some major milestones right there!
What’s a big birthday/blogiversary without a CELEBRATION! Let’s have a THANK YOU FOR READING ALL THESE YEARS CONTEST!!
You can win this AWESOME PRIZE PACKAGE! What’s in it you ask? How about an Offhand Designs Ursula Bag in Sahara and Limited Edition Velvet! Not good enough? How about I throw in two skeins of Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering in Bashful and Garnet Martini? More you say? How about a Lantern Moon birthday cake tape measure and some Floops stitch markers? Still more? I’m going to finish it off with some beautiful note cards made by me! FANTASTIC, no?
To win, leave a comment telling me what you hope to accomplish in your crafting life in the new year! Please leave only ONE comment per person. I will pick a random number and choose a winner. You have until Wednesday, December 31st at 11:59 EST to leave a comment. I will announce the winner on Thursday January 1st. Good luck and thanks for reading! I can’t wait to hear from you!
Good luck! Happy New Year! And, as always, thanks so much for reading and hanging out over these past ten years. There are no words to tell you how much I appreciate it!
About a month ago I found myself in the enviable position of knitting two gorgeous shawls simultaneously! How lucky was I?! Here’s the story, morning glory:
It was really hard to settle on what I wanted to knit after finishing my Miter Madness Blanket. Sure I had a million projects on the needles, but I wanted something new and fresh. Something that wouldn’t take forever to finish. Then I fell in love with Romi Hill‘s Red Rock Canyon Shawl and started dreaming about it. Should I buy new yarn? But there is SO MUCH YARN in this house. I decided to stash dive and lo and behold I found a bunch of semi-solid colors of my beloved STR Lightweight. PERFECT! I actually settled on three colors, because much of my STR is older and my skeins only had about 360 yds and the pattern asked for at least 385 for both colors. I am so glad I went with three!
I used Passive Agressive Green for the main color, alternated stripes in Pond Scum and Sweet Pea, and did the lace sections in Sweet Pea. The three colorways worked GREAT together!
The Sweet Pea has a touch of yellow/green running through it and the Passive Agressive Green plays nicely with the Pond Scum. I love it! The shawl was also a very enjoyable knit. Do you like to purl? Then this shawl is for you! It’s a very textured shawl with lots of purling through the back loops. I personally love to purl so it worked well for me.
About a week or so after I started Red Rock, some old time knitbloggers started talking about doing a mystery shawl – you know the kind where you get a clue each week and you know vaguely what the project will look like – triangular shawl or whatever – but you don’t know until you knit it what it will really be? Yeah. One of those. Not only were they doing the mystery shawl, but most of the bloggers involved were doing it in Black Trillium Fibre’s Gradient Yarn – which I’ve been wanting to use for a while. You can guess what happened next – I cast on Kirsten Kapur’s (Through the Loops) Mystery Shawl in the Tidewater Gradient.
It was my first mystery knit, but it won’t be my last. I’m not one to knit stuff I don’t really like, so it was definitely a step outside my comfort zone, but I trust Kirsten implicitly and I absolutely LOVED the yarn. Add to it I was knitting along with some of my oldest blogger friends and it was like I was transported back in time. While I love Ravelry for what it can offer you in terms of knitting tips and tricks for patterns, there’s nothing like a real time knit along where everybody screws up and rips back and figures out how to get through the pattern together.
When I was done with a clue for the week, I would hop back over to my Red Rock Shawl. It worked out really well going between the two. There wasn’t as much confusion as I feared – as long as I didn’t mix up the charts I was good to go.
The tidewater colorway – a definite blue/green/teal sea color, has turned out to be kind of hard to photograph. Every picture came out too blue, and then adjusting it made it too green, but I think this is pretty accurate. I alternated between mini skeins (you moved onto the next color with each clue) for a row or two and when I was knitting it, there was a pretty well-defined stripe that I did not like, but now that it’s done and blocked, you can’t really see it. I’m very happy with how it turned out!
And now I have two new shawls – and a new way to wear them! For whatever reason (like I’m clueless sometimes) I didn’t think to wear this small-ish shawls like a cowl. I love cowls! So now I can’t wait to wear my new shawl/cowls. Bring on the cold weather! (Yes I said it. This summer hasn’t been so bad, but I am definitely more of a cold weather girl.)
Red Rock Canyon Shawl (raveled here.)
Knitblogger Reunion Shawl (raveled here.)
You know what’s funny? The Red Rock Canyon Shawl was originally one of Romi’s mystery shawl patterns! And I loved knitting these shawls so much, I started Germinate, by Kirsten Kapur, which was also one of her mystery shawl patterns!
I ask you, who doesn’t need a little mystery in their lives? Hope your Summer is filled with knitting and MYSTERY! Thank you for stopping by!
PS – Click on the pictures to see them bigger. They look so much better that way!
Not the end, but definitely an end. In fact, lots and lots of ends. But really, the end of something very special.
I have finally, FINALLY finished my miter square blanket – Miter Madness – that I started so many years ago. And when I say finished, I mean every seam, every border, every end.
It’s hard to say anything more about it that hasn’t already been said really. I knit all 120 miters in a six week period using 85 different colors of Tahki Cotton Classic way back in the Spring of 2007. I knit so much I put a hole in my finger. And then those miters sat in a box.
While those squares were sitting in a box, I had two babies and moved into a house. In the old days, I had all the time in the world to knit, blog about it, and do a bit of work on the side. I spent many hours a day by myself – glorious, wonderful ALONE time. I’m rarely alone these days and time to myself is a luxury.
The Back Side
The Winter after my second daughter was born, I was really struggling. I won’t say I was full blown PPD, but I was not in a good place. It was during this time that I pulled out my box of miters and decided THIS WAS THE TIME. I wove in all the ends and blocked all the miters then started seaming the squares. I seamed and seamed and when it was all together I knit the border. Sadly I didn’t really blog any of this, but by the Summer I was done. I had a dozen or more ends still to be woven in, but otherwise it was done. And then into another box it went. Seriously.
What pushed me to finally finish it? It’s kind of funny. My daughter was doing a science module in school on fabric and we were encouraged to send in some fabric samples. I thought how fun would it be to bring in all my knitting swatches (I have a ton) and my spinning wheel and show the kids in her class how fiber becomes yarn becomes a finished object? So much fun! And I thought they would love to see the blanket. So I wove in the rest of the ends and cut them all and in a couple of hours – voila! THE BEST FINISHED OBJECT EVER!
You have to know I’ve been dreaming about the FO shoot for this blanket for a long, long time. I knew I wanted to hang the blanket the way I’ve seen people hang quilts, so I hung a laundry line across my back yard and took the pictures above. But I also wanted to take some arty, cool pictures. I channeled my inner Vicki and the greatest FO shoot of all time, and set to work.
This is by far the best thing I’ve ever knit. I’m so ecstatically happy with how it turned out, but I’m also sad that it’s finished. This knit wasn’t just a lot of fun to knit, it was important for me to knit. Once or twice while the miters languished in their box, my dear friend Kay, Queen of All Things Mitered, offered to seam the blanket for me. As touched as I was by the offer, I knew I needed to do it myself. The WHOLE thing. And I finally did. I finished it. ALL of it. And I’m a better knitter and dare I say mother, because of it. I cannot wait to see where my knitting madness takes me next.
Thank you, dear readers, for coming along on this journey. If you missed any crazy, mad part of it, you can read the project archives, from the first square to the last and all the silly stats in between.
Three words that strike fear in the OCD/Perfectionist who happens to be obsessed with color. CREATE YOUR OWN! In my lately never-ending pursuit of self-striping sock yarn, it was brought to my attention that the fantastic Jessica of Yarntini offers a Create Your Own Self-Striping Yarn Club. WHAT?!?! YES! You get to create your own custom designed colorway from her 21 semi-solid colors – a rainbow on steroids of possibilities – not once, not twice, but THREE times! Dude. SIGN ME UP!
And I did. I got in and we had to quickly pick colors for the February skein. You can choose to do a 2-stripe, 3-stripe, 4-stripe, 5-stripe or 6-STRIPE skein and I’ll give you a second to guess what I picked. I went with the 2-stripe and picked a nice blue and red for a simple striped sock. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course I went for the six striper and promptly panicked. How was I going to choose? I was paralyzed with the possibilities (have you seen her gorgeous colors?)
I ruminated a bit and decided that I definitely wanted to use the dark gray and light gray (charcoal and smokey). But that left me with four more colors. I had no idea.
And then I was driving home from Bar, past the same houses I drive by every single day, and I saw this:
GRELLOW!! I loved the door on this house! How did I never notice it before? But here it was, a bright spot in an otherwise dark, dreary and depressing winter. I had my third color! (Lemon Drop)
Now to choose the others! (This is the part where my OCD takes over in a kind of scary way. There’s a possibility that some might think I went too far. And there are others, thankfully, who will know I didn’t go far enough. You know who you are and I love you.)
Not long ago, on Instagram, I was exposed to a game app that will suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. CONSIDER THIS A WARNING! I cannot be held responsible for how many meals you miss, or how many times your kids have to literally knock you on the head to get you to pay attention to them, or whatever priority you completely ignore while playing BLENDOKU! For those of you who’ve never heard of Blendoku, it’s a puzzle game app (available for Android and ICrap) that has you put colors into their color wheel order. You really have to know your colors and it’s addicting and fascinating and a MUST for anyone who loves color. I can imagine knitting whole garments based on this game. Fair isle, miters, stripes – it’s all there!
It turns out that I started playing Blendoku around the same time that I needed to pick my colors for the Create Your Own club. My brain was on color overload. So I did the only thing I could and printed out all the photos from Jessica’s gallery so that I could shift and sort the colors to pick my last three.
After looking at the color cards, and playing endless hours of Blendoku (RESEARCH!) I had FOUR colors picked out – Charcoal, Smokey, Lemon Drop, and I knew that I absolutely HAD to have Deep Gin in my mix. I thought I might have an inkling as to the last two colors, but shifting around the printouts wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I had to pull in the big guns.
I stole some time away from the family and activated Photoshop. I downloaded all the pictures in Jessica’s gallery and started making stripes. I needed to see what the colors would look like stacked on top of each other and I needed an easy way to move them around. Not only was I picking colors, but I wanted to pick the order of the stripes as well. I put together a file with 21 rectangles and filled them in with all the colors.
Now I had my template! And it would work fabulously for any all other skeins I decided to create. YAY! I set to work: mix, match, scrap, mix, match, scrap. I had it!
WHEW! It’s the perfect combo of dark and light – each light stripe is followed by a dark stripe – the values are spot on! I sent my colors off to Jessica and waited with bated breath. She was nice enough to indulge me a little and tell me that YES INDEED my choices were wonderful. (She may very well regret the day she let me in this club.)
Today my ACTUAL yarn came in the mail! I could not be happier!!!
It’s EXACTLY what I was hoping for. Here’s a close up:
It’s hard to capture the colors with my phone (I’m actually getting a NEW REAL camera this week – stayed tuned for LOTS of pictures) but the blue is much more teal than blue. But you can see the grays and greens and YELLOW and I love it. Thank you so much Jessica! It’s PERFECT! (It’s taking everything I have not to cast on immediately, but I want to finish my Super Duper Boogaloo socks first! It’s just Yarntini all the time around here.)
I can’t wait to start on my next skein!!
Unfortunately sign ups are now closed for the Create Your Own Club and Jessica probably won’t be offering the club again for awhile because she and her family are embarking on a big move, but follow her blog for up to date information. Her yarn is gorgeous!!