Just growing through a fence. Like their beauty is no big deal.
Sigh. This was a sweater knitted from the collar to the armpits, and most of a sleeve.
On the bright side, I love the yarn and I get to knit it again.
I love top-down sweaters because you can try them on as you go and see how they fit. This one, I am sad to say, was not going to fit in a way I liked. The collar just didn’t work for my face and proportions, and I never would have worn the sweater if I’d finished it.
Now the yarn gets a nice warm bath and a second chance to turn into something I will actually wear.
They live in the neighborhood. Their calls are as a grating as a construction site, and oh man are they LOUD.
But they groom eachother. Seeing the white flash of their feathers as they fly over lifts my heart.
We are so blessed to live near these old and new trees with wild figs and palm nuts for them to eat.
Unless it’s a sweater quantity, everything is sorted by color. It makes my heart sing.
Ever wondered what gives Chanel #5 its sultry scent? It’s these green curly flowers.
Oh my was this a project.
I found a crazy good deal on partial cones of cashmere and cashmere-silk blend yarn. The cashmere silk was cobweb weight, the cashmere a light fingering weight. The colors were irresistible.
And then there was the work of combining the yarns so they would be a weight I was willing to knit with.
And then there was the tangling.
It took nearly an entire day, but eventually I created this gradient:
It’s a little splitty and a slow to work with, but darn is it pretty.
He or she is there in the upper left, large head, long beak.
Their plumage has beautiful flashes of impossibly brilliant blue. I hear their “piew! piew!” calls more often than I see them.
I once saw one in a tree, listening, then suddenly dive and fly a hundred yards, catching a monster of a beetle in its mouth and swallowing it in one gulp.
I’m weaving to make weft.
There is a very cool process for making your own giant chenille that is decidedly scrap-friendly. You set up your loom with your warp thread in very tight groups, weave tightly, and then cut long vertical strips which are help together by the warp threads. You then weave the fuzzy stuff to make a rug.
I’m really hoping this works, because darn do I have a lot of yarn invested in this project.
Once you start looking, you’ll see them everywhere.
This is a quilt I’ve been working on for several months now using recycled vintage sheet fabrics from Kelly at Vintage Fabric Studio.
Kelly’s fabrics are gorgeous, fun to work with, and entirely upcycled. Combined here with indigo fabric from China, they really pop if I may say so myself.
As much as I love creating quilts from quilting cottons, there is something exquisite about making quilts the old fashioned way with recycled materials
When I was seven or eight, one of my “jobs” was hunting snails in our yard for a nickle a pop. I’d wander through the plants for what seemed like hours, each tiny victim making a satisfying plunk as it went into my empty milk jug. I don’t remember any guilt at the time, but I feel it now every time I see a standard North American garden snail. Those poor snails! Packed into milk jugs, on their way to oblivion.
Luckily for me, the snails here in Singapore are a different thing altogether. They are massive. The big ones are three or four inches from eye stalk to shell tip, and they continue to be a visual surprise, even after almost three years of living here. There’s something really fun about seeing the conical shell shape I associate with marine snails on a terrestrial creature.
Thanks for your hard work, big guys. I promise not to drop you into a milk jug.
I have a new batch of Dyer’s Choice Sweater Quantities posting in this week’s shop update. There are four lovely greens, plus yellow and orange.
It’s the best kind of problem to have when you run a small business, but I’ve been hard pressed to keep the full rainbow in stock.
If you’re in the market for a sweater quantity, please watch you inbox for this week’s newsletter!
Almost three years ago when Better Half and I were discussing moving to Singapore, one of my concerns was there is no sweater weather EVER outside of over-cooled movie theaters.
I did not expect to discover hot weather knitting mojo, and it has been a blessing.
I’m part of BostonJen’s Splash Pad Party this summer, and I’ve dyed up a series of cocktail-inspired sock yarns for the summer-long KAL - Socktails!
I hope you’ll try one (or more) of them! They’re guaranteed not to give you a hangover.
I’ve been dyeing like… well, like a wool purveyor in September. A lot of yarn has gone through the dye pots. It’s been worth it because this new beauty is out in the world after more than a year in the making:
What’s more, there are two versions:
I finished a quilt because my cat threw up a purple hairball on it, and the hairball saved the quilt.
Let me back up.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I have two cats - Rufus and Vesper. Rufus is the orange three-legged one, Vesper is the little black one with amazing green eyes.
Vesper has a horrible habit of eating my finished knitted objects. To placate her chewing hobby, I let her keep some of her chew toys (formerly my knits) so that maybe she’ll be content with the one she’s currently chewing and not start eating a new one. Hope springs eternal, right? The chewing of the knits means that the hairballs in my house are technicolor beyond belief.
Back to the quilt.
The reason I hadn’t finished it and didn’t want to work on it is that I realized I made a poor fabric choice. I believed my fabric store when they marked a product “quilting cotton,” and that’s not at all how I would describe the fabric. It softened while I sewed it in a way that makes me concerned it’s just not going to hold up, and I have little hope for a long life for this quilt. It’s really depressing to put a huge amount of time, effort, and money into a project and then not feel good about it because of one crappy material - and of course it’s the material I used for the sashing AND the backing. Harumph.
So there I am, with the quilt on my machine table, trying to get around to doing the quilting, and then Vesper turns it into a day bed. Now it’s covered in cat hair, and I want to work on it even less. And then, dear thing that she it, she gacks up a hairball consisting of yarn from a former favorite shawl made from funky yarn I bought in China, and BAM! Giant purple stain.
At this point, I’m pretty sure the quilt is going to have a purple stain forever, and I think to myself that there’s nothing to do but finish it and wash it and see how bad the stain is. So over the course of a week, I finish the quilt.
Lo and behold, the stain comes out. The sashing and backing fabric is doing about what I thought it was going to do - it’s tracking and generally making a nuisance of itself invisible to everyone but me. But you know what? The (slightly crappy) fabric makes the quilt so soft and cozy - perhaps the lightest, softest quilt I have ever made. It’s like a well-worn tee shirt that you enjoy wearing all the more because it’s coming to the end of its life.
The purple hairball saved the quilt because it helped me see it through a new lens - the lens of utility. I was so caught up in what was wrong with the quilt as an art project that I lost sight of the point of the quilt as a household textile: to be used.
And rather than being the magnum opus of my quilting career, it is doing what it should be doing, namely collecting cat hair and baby drool. It may not last forever, but it’s here for now. At least until the next purple hairball.
Last week, I had the chance to speak with Gary and Christine of the We Talk Fiber podcast - a new audio podcast covering more than just knitting!
It was a really fun and far-ranging conversation, and you can listen to the episode here:
Thanks, Gary and Christine!
I'm feeling about as pleased as the cat that ate the proverbial canary.
I love it when I can find exactly what I'm looking for and do what needs to be done in a way that feels effortless - and I just had a whopper of an effortless experience.
Last year was the first year I committed myself to keeping good notes and entering my projects into Ravelry. I entered (almost! So close!) everything I knitted, including my own designs. Because I had the information at my fingertips, I was able to complete both of this week's StashFit Exercises in under 20 minutes. Woohoo!
My total knitted output for the year is around 8600. This does not count a few things I frogged. I thought it was going to be more, but hey, that's life.
Even if you don't have the information at your fingertips, I hope you will find the time to capture as best you can what you remember about the projects you worked on last year.
Next week we're going to be doing a deep-dive on what the results mean, and how to interpret your past knitting to make the most of your future knitting.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure!
Part 2 of the Walk Down Memory Laine exercise is to capture the words and phrases from part 1 of the exercise that feel the most significant to you. This step is important because it helps you home in on what your best knitting memories have in common.
Here's my work, based on my best knitting memories.
Key Words about Place:
- Dorm room (i.e. home),
- Trains in Japan,
- SnB at Mick's house.
Key Words about People & Purpose:
- Knitting with friends,
- Selfish projects.
Key Words about Emotions:
- Excitement, mastering new skills
- Quiet satisfaction, appreciating a project.
- Laughter with friends, even at my expense.
Key Words about Projects:
- Socks, twice
- All on bamboo needles
- Two brightly colored projects, one neutral project.
Distilling all of this down to five words or phrases:
Next up, we'll continue to analyze knitting from the past with an exercise to looking at the highlights and lowlights of your output from last year!
I hope you're as excited about the StashFit adventure as I am!
it seems only fair to share my responses to the exercises I'm asking you to do, so look for my work on the exercises here on the blog on Fridays.
Without further ado, here's are my best knitting memories:
One of my first powerful knitting memories took place in my dorm room in college. It was after dinner, I was on my own and I was wrestling with my needles. I'd discovered sock knitting about three months before. Having knit one pair of very basic socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks and primed with the over-confidence only a teenager can muster, I'd bought a copy of Fancy Feet by Anna Zilboorg. I was determined to knit colorwork toe-up socks (having never done colorwork or toe-up socks before), and nothing was going to stop me - except the %^(*% figure-8 cast-on! I could not figure it out. This was before videos on the internet, and it was just me and the book and some very bedraggled yarn that had been knit over and over and over. Finally, it clicked - a tiny little square of a toe-nubbin emerged, and I knew I had it! I was so excited I yelled out loud and did a victory lap of the common room.
Another favorite knitting memory involves trains and Japan. I was traveling to Takayama, a snowy northern town, with my husband and two friends. We left Osaka in the morning, and were hurtling along at high-speed through snowy forests and beautiful countryside, with the entire scene bathed in clear winter sunlight. I was working on a zip-front hoody-style sweater with a fun snaky-cable pattern on the front. The yarn was dark chocolate brown, and while I loved the color, the sweater was taking forever because I hated working on it at night or in low light and I was starting to doubt the wisdom of my color choice. Seeing the rich brown in the natural light of the sun, I could finally appreciate the natural simplicity of the color - it matched the trunks of the bare trees going by, and fit perfectly into the landscape.
A list of favorite knitting memories would not be complete without mention of the Shanghai Stitch and Bitch group. This was a group that called it like they saw it, laughed hard, swore like sailors, and could put away a bottle of wine before you could say Bob's-your-uncle. You did not bring anything complicated to SnB, nor did you bring anything which couldn't handle a wine stain or a chocolate smear. The specific night that comes to mind involved a pair of socks I was knitting in Noro. In order to get the socks to match, I had fussy-wound the skein into two similar balls. This left pink and bright pink yarn left for the toes and heels. I was also attempting a round toe for the first time. I thought everything was fine, but the socks were eliciting highly suspicious giggles. It takes true friends to stage a knitting intervention to let you know your socks resemble... Well, you can look at the photo, imagine the socks partially knitted from the toe up, and fill in the rest.
I hope you'll consider sharing your favorite knitting memory in the comments!
Hello out there!
Since it's January, the pressure of New Year's resolutions is upon us.
Social media is full of images of freshly-cleaned homes, and reorganized offices. If you follow a lot of knitters (and oh boy do I follow a lot of knitters), you'll also see that people are working on their stashes, declaring yarn diets, and generally trying to figure out how to manage their yarn and other fiber-related goodies.
While I whole-heartedly support going through your stash, it can be a truly daunting project. As someone with a yarn company, I basically manage stash for a living. After five years of watching my inventory (read: professional stash) with the enthusiasm and attentiveness of a Border Collie, I've learned a few things, and I'm excited to share them with you via a new e-Course I've developed called StashFit.
StashFit is designed to help you discover where you find your knitting bliss, discern the kinds of projects that make you happiest, define your goals as a knitter, and use this information as a guide to help you organize, manage, and even (gasp) develop your stash to deliver maximum knitting happiness.
The first exercise of the program is live in the shop here, but if you sign up for my newsletter, you will get a download code to get a copy for free!
I'll be sharing my work on the exercises here over the next few weeks. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments!