Finding Peace

Today I want to revisit just why I call my blog Knitting in the Apocalypse.  In my very first ever post Knitting In the Apocalypse I discussed this in detail.  But I want to touch on it again briefly.  I find knitting and other artistic and creative expressions to be not only satisfying for their own sakes, but they are also very important to me as acts of self-care and healthy outlets when I am facing stresses or challenges.  The things that we all face personally are challenging to us.  These are the “small a” apocalypses, only because they impact fewer people.

But there are the larger events, the “big A” apocalypses. These are the ones that happen on a larger, sometimes global scale.

In spite of the name of this blog, I like to keep this a safe space, it is more about what I do to stay in a good, happy, and centered place and less about what issues are causing me concern.  Yes, there are large issues at play.  Yes, I feel strongly about them.  Yes, I do take action as I’m able that reflect my convictions and values.  But in the current climate I feel there is enough screaming going on, so on this blog, I just want to talk about yarn, knitting, chickens and all the good and happy things.  I want there be a place, however briefly, of calm in this spot on the web.

flower

I cannot, however, fail to acknowledge the big A events without seeming apathetic. This is not a word that describes me.

This week, like most people, I have been following the developments related to North Korea.  No matter where you fall on the Left-Right political spectrum the potential for dangerous, even disastrous outcomes here is something that will concern most reasonable people.  Hard on its heels were the events in Charlottetown ,VA.

Before I continue on about the things I am doing, the projects I have finished or begun, and share with you the pictures of my newest hand-dyed yarns I would like to say this:

Every now and then turn off the news and spend time on the things that keep you in that good place.  There are few things most of us can do that will impact the unfolding events.  However, we can build into ourselves strength and resiliency so that we can face and affect how our circle of friends and family, our communities, and cultures continue to grow and move forward.

As for me, I will make more time for making, even if the housework waits another day.  I will sit by the campfire and leave my phone inside.  I will go out and laugh at the antics of my chickens. I will read stories to my grandson.  I will discuss storyline scenarios with my son. I will talk to my daughter and share her excitement about her upcoming wedding.

I encourage you to do the same.  Need some alone time to meditate?  Need to just go out with friends and just have fun?  Need to plant something? Make something? Get lost in a book or entertaining movie?  Do it.  You will come back better able to face whatever things you still need to face.  Build your own peace and strength. It will serve you well to have it in good supply.

banner.jpg

Ok, now, enough with Apocalypse portion of this blog, on to the Knitting portion.

This week I have an FO!  For those unfamiliar with knitting (and other crafty) lingo that stands for Finished Object.  I have completed the Hitchhiker Shawl I have been making for a friend.  I still have have to weave in the ends, but there are only two, so not too painful.  I was able to use  some lovely Malabrigo Rios that I picked up at a recent sale.  It is a tonal green with subtle touches of light browns and yellows and it is just beautiful.  I had originally started it as a Christmas gift but there are a couple of problems.

One, I am not good at all about waiting to give a gift once it is completed.  I get so excited to give it I rarely wait for the event it for which it was intended.

Two, I like Christmas just fine, but Autumn (!) is my favorite time of year and since most of the things I make are hand knitted items made of wool, well, they make great Celebrate Autumn gifts.  In this way the recipient can enjoy them as soon as the weather reaches appropriate temperatures.

I have a good amount of leftover yarn and I am most likely going to knit some fingerless gloves from it.

I am still working on the pair of  Hermione’s Everyday Socks that I began this past week, but I had to pull them out and begin again.  As I was working on the cuff of the first sock it seemed a bit too big for me.  I had cast on the required number according to the pattern, but I felt they needed to be smaller.  As I looked through the pattern I didn’t see what number of stitches I could decrease and still maintain the pattern.  But serendipitously I was watching an older episode of Inside Number 23, “Orange on the Brain (39) to be exact, and she mentioned she was working on this same pattern.  Just like me she mentioned she needed to decrease the size and as she discussed how she was adjusting it I learned that sets of 4 were how I could decrease on this pattern.  So I am going to reduce my cast on stitches and begin again.

The bright side is not only do I now know this information and have added it to the printed pattern for future reference, but I’m getting quite good at the German Twisted Cast on method since I’ve had to practice is quite a bit during this process.

It seems very fitting that I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the very first time (I know, I know. lame!).  So it seems especially enjoyable to work on a pattern related to the characters I’m reading about.

As I have made a habit of in the last few posts I will leave you with these shots of my most recent skeins of yarn coming out of my kitchen.

and my first attempt at repeating a colorway and the only one posted today with a name:

darkandtwisty
Dark and Twisty Road

Peace,

Jamye

Flirtatious

In one of my early posts One for the Road I talked about how I like to have around three projects on my needles at a time.  I like to have projects going that help advance my skill set and proficiency.  I also like to have projects that I don’t really have to think too hard about and can relax while watching a movie or having a conversation without having to worry too much about keeping focused attention on my work.

So for the most part, I am not a monogamous knitter.  Recently, however as some projects were completed and others were “frogged” without casting on new ones, I have dwindled down to a single shawl project that I’m working on as a Christmas present.  I’m not saying for whom. Spoilers.

I really hadn’t realized I had gotten to this state.  Life has been very, VERY hectic lately.  I’m slowly turning my property into a homestead.  I have chickens, vegetable and herb garden and plans to expand.

My beloved younger daughter is getting married next month and guess who is baking the cakes (plural) for it.  Yep.  Scary.

I wrangle 2 boys and a pit/lab mix 3 days a week.  Adorable, fun, exhausting.

I could go on, but I think you grasp the idea.

Because of all the busyness my mind is in constant “what’s next?” mode and the time and mental energy to sit and consider what else I wanted to be working on was just not there.  But pendulums swing.

pendulum

Now I’ve gone from being monogamous to downright flirtatious.  I would use the word Harlot (nods to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee ) but that’s taken.

I am very, very close to finishing the shawl so it was pretty urgent that I start deciding what else needs to be cast on.

First of all, I picked up the project bag to a pair of socks that had languished and after considering for a bit, I chose to start fresh and frog the project back.  I still want to continue on my journey toward confident and skilled sock knitter so I took the same yarn and cast on Hermione’s Everyday Socks,  still being as busy as I was before I am still working on the cuff of the first sock, but, it’s a start.

Secondly, I spend 3 days a week with the aforementioned boys and dog.  I am not really willing to take any knitting projects with me because if young mister or the pup got ahold of it, there would be tears.  Mostly mine.  But to not have ANY projects to work on while I am there is not to my liking. So I decided to dust off my crochet hook and do some stash busting by starting a simple granny stripe blanket to take with me.  I am far less concerned about having to pull back a bit on a crochet project than I would be to try and repair tangles or damage on a knitted project.  I’m still working on the foundation row for this since I decided to learn how to do the Foundation Single Crochet Stitch to begin it.

I should have this ready to travel in the next day or two.

I also received the gift of some nice hemp yarn.

IMG_0551

I’ve wanted to try out this fiber for some time now, so I was delighted with the gift.  Because it is a stiffer texture than the fibers I usually work with I’m leaning toward a nice farmer’s market type shopping bag. It is a little less than 200 yards so it would have to be a medium sized bag.  I’m still perusing Ravelry and Pinterest trying to decide on a pattern.  Suggestions?

Finally, this seems to be the month for reviving old skills. As I mentioned, my daughter is getting married next month.  I have found the perfect cross stitch pattern that I would like to make for the event.  I feel safe posting about this here.  She is a busy working woman, preparing for a wedding and NOT a knitter, so my secret should be safe.  However, I will save the details and the photo of the completed project until after it has been given to the new couple, just to be on the safe side.  This would be the ONE time she decided she needed to read Mom’s blog.

So, the current tally is:

2 knitting projects on the needles

1 pending project

1 crochet project

and a cross stitch project.

I think that pendulum may have swung just a bit too far.

Before I go, let me just share a few of the new colorways that have been coming out of my kitchen:

This party’s just getting started.

Cheers,

Jamye

First, There’s Mud…

There’s a quote from the movie “Shadowlands”, which is a peek into the life of C.S. Lewis, that comes to mind from time to time:

“I’ve always found this a trying time of the year.  The leaves not yet out, mud everywhere you go.  Frosty mornings gone.  Sunny mornings not yet come.  Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time, not this waiting room of the world.”

One of the things I mentioned in a previous post, A Reason to Celebrate,  is how much I love the changing of the seasons.  I like to do something to celebrate each one of them as they arrive, even if it’s nothing more than a new set of flannel pajamas and a pumpkin spiced latte when Autumn arrives.  So I love each new season as it arrives but, as Lewis recognized, there is that in between point that leaves a lot to be desired.

In the past several weeks I have begun diving into the world of hand dyeing yarn and it has been fun! I have been dreaming and building toward this for some time now.  It all started with stalking various Indie Dyers on YouTube and Instagram whose colorways could bankrupt me for decades if I bought all that I would like to own.  I blogged earlier about the experience of buying from the very popular Kristen of Yarngasm Podcast in my post, Yarn Buying: Bloodsport. 

I have a Yarn Bucket List page in my Bullet Journal of different folks I want to buy from.

Countess Ablaze

Gnome Acres

Invictus Yarns

Just to name a few.

I’ve been reading books, I took a class, I have watched numerous YouTube tutorials, and picked the brains of local friends with experience. I was on a mission!

During this time I was also slowly gathering the supplies I would need to launch into this new (to me) art. Finally, I decided it was time to get started.

I don’t know about you, but I always want to be a prodigy at a new venture.  Always.  When I get started I want it to all come naturally, as if I was born to do this.  When I show my work I want to hear the “ooohs” and “aaaahs” as folks look wonderingly at my work and wonder why they bother going to art museums.  🙂  Perhaps, that is too much to ask?

Not to worry.  In most cases, any new art or craft will quickly give you a reality check.

As I prepared my dye pots and undyed wool, oh so carefully, referring back to notes or tutorials I began my process.  One of the very first things I learned from this is that I had to “Surrender the Outcome”. You can be careful and focused, you can refine your technique but, to some degree, the dye pot’s gonna do, what the dye pot’s gonna do”.

First attempts:

darkandtwistyroad

and

paintedmessaBoth turned out well and I was happy with the colors, but there was a lot more blending than I was originally going for.

Just like the first small eggs from my backyard chickens, not bad, but we can do better.

So I asked more questions, gathered more info and soon I was getting this:

This was the “Persevere” part of the lesson.

I’m planning on doing a lot more colorways and I have more plans in the works.

But here’s what I want to leave you with today: When you are learning, growing, or doing whatever to build toward the life you want, remember it is part Surrender and part Persevere.  How can you tell how much of each?  Everyone discovers that for themselves.  That is why there are no two works of art just alike.

Here’s to colorful journeys that go from mud to flowers,

Jamye

Retreat, retreat!!

I have a very brief post for you today.  But I have a very good reason.  Mark, my beloved, decided we needed to escape for a bit.  So that is precisely what we did.  He made all the arrangements and it was a lovely, relaxing, enjoyable weekend.

We stayed at 1875 Bed and Breakfast Homestead near Nashville, IN (not TN!).

1875

 

Nashville, IN is a charming little town with an artist colony and all manner of cute shops and great food.  Did I remember to take pictures? No I did not.  Sigh.

But we had a great time.  I will admit to being a bit predictable in my acquisition of souvenirs.  I bought some books from a thrift books shop and stopped by The Clay Purl and bought a skein of yarn just for meeeeee!!

souvenir

The Bed and Breakfast was beautiful, spotless and very comfortable.  I actually sat down for an extended time in their library and fireplace rooms just to read for a while.  Something I have not been able to do in a very, very long time.  Blissful.library

 

 

I would like to say I got to spend some good knitting time, however, there was a problem.  As my readers know, I have begun dyeing own yarn.  I enjoy the whole process and find using the swift relaxing and meditative as I skein and re-skein the yarns I’m working with.  But just this past week, for some inexplicable reason one of my most recent skeins got badly tangled.  It was a mess, but a nice yarn and a pretty colorway and, to those who don’t know me, I’m really, really stubborn when it comes to not letting something conquer me.  This tangled mass was NOT going to win!

I started detangling Thursday evening.  This was continued on Friday evening.  We had a 2 hour car ride to Nashville, my car knitting sat quietly to one side as I detangled.  After spending the afternoon in Nashville we stayed in our room to relax and watch a movie, still detangling.  We got home last evening and at long, loooooooooonng last I won!! Bwahahahaha.  Sorry, but that made me a little crazy.  I didn’t take a before picture of this mess but here is the skein now beaten into submission:

untangled

You can’t really see the pops of darker blue or purple in this picture, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’ve been contemplating colorway names and after the aforementioned experience in getting it to this stage I’ve been considering such names as:

  • Victory or Death
  • Dye Sucker Dye
  • To the Victor Go the Spoils
  • Cackling Maniacally in Victory

Thoughts?

Peace,

Jamye

A Reason to Celebrate

Can you ever really have too many reasons to celebrate?  We all have our favorite holidays.  Personally, I like Thanksgiving more than Christmas although I enjoy Christmas very much.  Some folks prefer winter holidays like these, others look forward to the fun and energy of July 4th or Labor Day.

Almost everyone loves a good holiday.  Scrooge didn’t, but he had a change of heart.  The Grinch didn’t, but he had an epiphany that changed him as well.  There are those (pre-change) that just don’t enjoy such things but most of us are ready for a good reason to have some fun together.

A few years ago I started recognizing that there were certain things that I loved so much and certain days that were so meaningful to me that I felt they deserved a holiday of their own.  I looked forward to them every year. I decided that just because they weren’t cultural or religious events to the degree that they had become National holidays didn’t mean that couldn’t celebrate them in whatever form seemed good.

So I started a still growing list of things I wanted to celebrate.  Here are a few:

I love the changing of the seasons.  I always have.  I have lived in places that didn’t really have 4 seasons and I missed the turning of Winter into Spring into Summer into Autumn.  So somewhere during the week of the first day of those seasons I will do something to celebrate it.  I don’t throw a lot of parties but there will be a meal with seasonally appropriate foods.  One year I bought a wind chime for my back porch with metal sculpture of the sun for the first day of Summer. And yes, I do indeed have a Pumpkin Spice Latte when Autumn arrives.

Pete Seeger on stage 1960I thought of the birthdays we celebrate.  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr.  This gave me an idea.  I decided that Pete Seeger’s birthday should be celebrated.  He is a personal hero of mine.  I admire his courage and his tenacity and the longevity of his convictions.  He was in Civil Rights Marches in his younger days and in his 90’s made an appearance at the Occupy Wall Street Marches.  He seemed gentle, kind and inclusive and  he had a lot of chutzpah.  On his birthday I add another song either written or performed by him to my playlist. I might buy an appropriate poster to add to my very hippy-esque studio.   In case you’re curious, his birthday is May 3.

One of my very favorite personal holidays is Banned Books Week.  In the US it’s usually celebrated in late September.  This year it is September 24-30th.  I don’t only love to read Freadom(something I very decidedly do love) but I love the library itself.  I love its mission of not only making literature available to people no matter what their socio-economic status, but their core value of intellectual freedom.   So for this week, I gift myself with a new copy of some book that has been previously banned or challenged.  Those books get a shelf of honor in one of my bookcases.

Today I got to celebrate an event that I look forward to all year.  If the phrase Christmas in July weren’t so overdone, that’s probably what I would call this.  Today, was the first day of the annual Library Book Sale.  Now, I always love a good used bookstore.  But this event is massive.  We have a very large library system here, for which I am deeply grateful.  I once tried to get a job at the library, but I think I may have come on too strong with my love of books during the interview and I didn’t get hired.  I suspect they were concerned I might frighten the patrons with my exuberance.  Oh well.

The sale is held at a local mall and there are tables from one end of the mall to the other heavily laden with books, DVDs, and audiobooks.  Everything is in decent to excellent condition and cheap.  This was about the 4th time I’ve gone.  Appointments and events get rescheduled to make way for this day.  I have a system.  I go early, I wear good solid running shoes and, no kidding, I take a large rolling duffle bag style suitcase.  For around $30 I can fill that thing up.

I’m a bit of a prepper.  My pantry and freezer are usually reasonably well stocked.  I have a garden and I preserve the produce and I buy what I don’t grow and preserve that.  As far as my knitting is concerned the phrase “Winter is Coming, Knit Faster” is more than just a meme.  This book sale is kind of my way of stocking up for the year.  I love the mental image of a winter storm outside and me with loads of books to choose from inside.  It is a cozy thought.  cozy

As a knitter, I always scope out the Arts and Craft book table.  At a previous sale I got 6 FiberGatheringreally nice knitting books with lots of information and patterns. This time I only came away with one. Fiber Gathering by Joanne Seiff.  It is a books inspired by the Fiber Festivals held around the US and boasts 25 projects related to knitting, crocheting, spinning and dyeing.  Score!

It was a good and satisfying day.  An enjoyable ritual that accompanies this particular holiday is deciding where the new books will be put.  I have a system understood by no one but me, but I enjoy stepping back and feeling wealthy seeing the abundance of books before me.

Do you have special traditions or off-the-beaten-path things you celebrate?  I’d love to hear about them. Or if  you don’t yet, if you were to start that, what would it be?  Please comment and tell me about them.  This could be interesting and fun.

One of the best things about these small personal holidays is that it can be as big or small as I want it to be.  There isn’t the pressure of having to host Christmas, for example and all the stress that can accompany that.  If no one else knows it’s Pete Seeger’s birthday, no biggie.  If I have everyone over for campfire on the first day of Autumn, it’s up to me.  The less pressure, the more fun.

As I have mentioned  in previous posts I have begun dyeing yarn and trying a number of experiments #playinginthedyepots.  Next week I’lll be talking about what I’m learning and include a photo timeline to show how the process is evolving.

Here’s a teaser photo till then:

dyedyarn

 

Go celebrate something!

Jamye

P.S. I’m thinking of adding some sort of free floating holiday so I can do it whenever I want.  Like “I successfully completed all the tasks on my to-do list! Day”.  That won’t come around too often, but at least it will be random 😀

celebrate

A Moment in the Sun

I had an interesting experience just over a week ago.

But first, a little backstory.  I started this blog in February.  There were many reasons for doing this.  I love knitting.  I. Really. Love. Knitting.  And anyone who has known me for 5 minutes knows that if there is something I love or feel strongly about you will hear me talk about it.

My love of books.  An issue of injustice.  Raising backyard chickens.  Knitting. China. Dyeing yarn. Gardening. Ad infinitum.  To most people it would seem like I get carried away by a lot of things (true) and that I feel compelled to go on and on about them (also true).talk

Starting a blog was a good way of getting to verbalize my passion abut fiber and knitting without exhausting the patience of family, friends, or even random strangers.(True story)  Not infrequently I looked up mid conversation and realized that the eyes of today’s victim had already glazed over.  I was becoming the proud grandparent that whipped out the family photo album before you had a chance to escape.

Something had to change.

The nice thing about writing a blog is that it gives me a chance to express my delights without inflicting them on the unwilling. The people who land on this site and read my exuberant ramblings at least do so by choice, not by coercion.  The one exception being my faithful editor (Hi, Jen.  Thank you once again for your sacrifice 🙂 ).

So, although I would love to attract a nice, faithful audience.  You know, people who just hang on my every word and wait impatiently for my next post to come out.  Writing a blog is more about getting it out of my system than about the numbers.  Also, I knew as a new blogger it would be a while before I attracted an audience of any size.

So the other night, just over a week ago, I was winding down for the night.  Part of my routine before turning off my laptop for the night is check all the things one last time.  Facebook. Email. Instagram. I clicked over to my stats page just to see how many people had come by for a visit.

I looked. I paused.  I looked again.  Those numbers can’t be right.  Refresh the page.  I’m looking at high double digits here.  What happened?!

I was thrilled, delighted…confused.  surprise

Finally, after looking over things carefully, I understood what had happened.  I recently posted an interview with Maggie Menzel (Maggie Menzel: Knitwear Designer) who had her sock pattern Vinculum featured in the most recent issue of Knitty.   Almost as an afterthought I wrote a short email to Knitty giving them a link to the interview.  They in turn put a link to that post in their blog and BOOM! Traffic!

Each day I would check in more eagerly.  I would watch the numbers climb.  I would look at the wide array of countries represented in the visitors to my page.  Dance break!

To be sure, in the back of my mind, I knew that this was short-lived.  I do hope to have this on a more regular basis and that at least some of these visitors will return, but I also knew that not everyone who stopped by to read this post was going to instantly fall in love with my style or turn of phrase.  But I decided to shush the voices of reason and logic for a little while and just bask in the joy and the glow.   It has been a lovely and gratifying feeling.  I can almost swear I could hear “Ode to Joy” playing in the background.

elvis

I experienced a similar, albeit smaller bump when I wrote about the newly formed Tri-State Fiber Arts Guild in last week’s post In Real Life, when the link was posted on their Facebook page.

The happiness is less about cold numbers and more about the warm feeling of connectedness with the larger Fiber Community whether online or in real life.  It was less than a year ago that I discovered the knitting podcasts on YouTube (a bit late to the party) and dove in.  I subscribed, watched and listened, and enjoyed the personalities, the projects and just how very much I felt I had in common with so many of them.  Once I discovered it I had to join in somehow.  This blog is one of the ways I decided to do just that.  I never even bothered with Instagram until I discovered all the Yarn Porn available there.

My yarn stash has grown, my bank account has diminished.  I regret nothing. yarn

For many years the things I wanted to do were pushed further and further back to make space for all the many “ought-to’s” in my life.  Some of them legitimate, but a good many external pressures that really weren’t necessary.

This is what blogging, knitting, dyeing, and raising chickens has done for me.  These things have taught me to go ahead and make room for what I love and to let some of the pressures and expectations go.  If I only do the “have-to’s” I find myself reduced to a bread and water kind of existence.  A good question to ask is:  Do I really have to?  Or have I just been conditioned to think so?  Maybe the answer to that question is yes.  But it never hurts to ask, and I’m quite sure there are a few, even more than a few, to which you could say no.  Let that go, put down the water, and try a sip of wine instead. wine

Pardon me while the dishes wait and I go dance in the rain,

Jamye

P.S. I’m currently negotiating for an angora rabbit to start raising my own fiber.

There’s that song again 🙂

 

 

In Real Life

I love the lively, interesting and wide-variety of people I can find in the online Knitting Community.  Like many of you, I have my favorite YouTube podcasters, as well as some audio podcasters that I watch or listen to regularly.  I enjoy browsing through Ravelry or Pinterest to see what’s new or what some of my favorite designers have been creating.  There are also the bloggers who share the same love of knitting and writing that I do and show me something new every time I read their posts.

I genuinely love the Internet for it’s ability to give us such a large resource pool for the things we love and wish to learn more about.  It takes our ability to connect with people who share our interests to a literally global scale.  Pretty awesome, right?

KatieHowever, I cannot go for a walk with Katie and Rollie of Inside Number 23.

 

 

 

I cannot go to Knit Night with Shannon of Soxcetera in spite of the fact that we have a lot of things in common

.  Shannon

 

I won’t even get to spend time trying a new natural dyeing technique with Sara of Yarns at Yin Hoo even though she lives closer and lives in a Chinese Tea House!!  I lived in China for almost 10 years so I find that especially cool.

yinhoo

I just want to hang out with all the knitters. Everywhere.

 

So, a really great thing happened this week.  No, I did not get to hang out with the aforementioned podcasters.  I did get to meet one that I had only previously seen on YouTube, but more on that later.

The great thing that happened was a first time meeting of a newly formed group called Tristatethe Tri-State Fiber Arts Guild.  I had received an email more than a month ago about the meeting that was to be held at a local library.  This definitely sounded like my jam, so I made sure that night was cleared of ANYthing so I could go.

It’s not that I don’t have friends locally with whom I love to knit, but I’m always excited when I get to meet someone who shares a passion of mine.  Also, I recently learned that KnitWitts, the LYS that I normally go to for Knit Night each Wednesday, is closing its doors at the end of July.  This was unexpected and I am very sorry to see this happen.  But the forming of this guild at this time almost seemed like a “one door closing, another door opening” kind of moment.  So, silver lining.

I was the first to arrive, being the rather eager person that I am, but I was joined within minutes by one of the organizers.   By the time the meeting was in full swing there were around 25 + people and all quite as passionate about their craft as I am.  The thing that delighted me the most, I think, was the wide variety of fiber arts that were represented.  Most, of course, were knitters or crocheters.  But there were also weavers, spinners, dyers, tatters and rug hookers.  There was also a wide range of age and experience among those present.

The lone gentleman present, Mark, works on historical projects and with a local historical site on Abraham Lincoln.  He has been spinning since 1984.  Another woman uses a spinning wheel that has been used by 6 generations of her family.  I also met the host of Strong Girl Knits.  These are just a few of the people that were there.  I hope eventually to do some profiles on this page about some of my fascinating fellow crafters. stronggirl

The Fiber community being what it is, the knitting and crocheting projects came out before the meeting had even started and at least half present were working away on something for the duration of our time together.  This made me feel right at home.  For most people there are 3 items that are always present whenever leaving home.  Keys. Wallet (or Purse). Phone.  For those of us seriously addicted to fibers, the project bag is most likely to come too.

As followers of this blog already know,  I am learning how to hand dye yarn.  (See Living and Dyeing and Yarn, Colors, and Friends) I’m really enjoying learning about this, the small experiments I have done so far and the larger ones that I will be doing very soon.  So I am very happy indeed to connect with others who have already had experience with different methods of dyeing.  I can’t wait to learn about their experiences as I gain some of my own.  As I said before, I love the Internet for the community AND for the information.  However, sometimes I have such a random, even obscure question it sometimes takes me a while to track down that information.  I love to meet people with whom I can just put a straightforward question to and hopefully get a much quicker response or at least a direction, than the time sometimes spent wandering endlessly on the Web searching for an answer.  I can get lost in there, the chances for distraction are infinite.

We will be meeting monthly.  People are encouraged to come early and bring projects that need a fresh set of eyes to sort out a problem.  There was discussion of organizing a Fiber Festival (Oh, happy day!), day trips, and demonstrations of various crafts and techniques.

Next month, the spinners in the group are going to bring in some of their materials and equipment to demonstrate.  I believe we will have a chance to learn to spin on drop spindle and on a wheel.  I’m very much looking forward to that.  Spinning my own fiber has been on my list of things to learn for a while now.  I have been holding myself back because I genuinely want to learn how to make all the things!! and currently I’m trying to not add yet one more craft to my growing pile of projects just yet.  So this will allow me to dip my toe in the water but hopefully not get swept away.  That is a very real risk.  Fortunately both my husband and my bank account help me practice restraint.  Most of the time.

So, while I will continue to delight in the Knitting Community that I am linked to through technology, I am so happy to learn, share and connect to my fellow fiberistas in the real world.

 

Peace,

Jamye

 

The Need for Knit

When I started this blog last February my first post was a fairly detailed explanation of just why I call this blog  Knitting In the Apocalypse.  Please feel free to go back and read that first post.  But, put briefly, the premise is this:  We all face crises in our lifetime.  Those that are capital Apocalypse, the things that affect many people on a large scale and the lowercase apocalypse, the things that are mainly our own personal wrestlings.  I, like many people, find solace and therapeutic value in working with my hands.

In my recent interview with Maggie Menzel: Knitwear Designer she mentioned this very thing.  She said that she was often most productive in her knitting during times of great stress, that the very act of picking up her needles caused her heart rate to slow and her tensions begin to ease. There’s even a podcast on YouTube called Stress Knits for the same reason.  It’s a common theme.

There have been a lot of changes for me in recent years.  Moving from Asia back to America, working in fairly stressful jobs, and simply the ups and downs and frustrations of normal life.  Like Maggie, I find myself reaching my needles more often during those times of high stress.  Each and every time I do, especially during those times, it is as if I discover its benefits all over again.  I will reach the end of a day, I will find a comfortable spot, pick up one of my projects and as soon as yarn flows over my fingers and the fabric grows and moves across the needles I think to myself,  as if for the first time, “I really LOVE this!”.  It’s like magic.

Right now, there’s a feeling of lowercase apocalypse happening.  There’s nothing dire happening.  Everyone’s healthy and projects and goals I have are inching forward, often more slowly than I’d like, but forward is forward.  In fact, if there was something even smaller than a lowercase version of this, that’s where I’d be.  The only things I have to stress me are that my garden needs weeding very badly,  my chicken coop is still not built, and some unexpected car repairs came up.  Annoying to be sure, but really, really small in the grand scheme of things.

So I was a little taken aback with how stressed I was feeling.  My logic and intellect recognized the “ordinariness” of these things, but my nerves just plain didn’t care.  But then it slowly dawned on me, in dealing with all these things the amount of time I was actually spending with my knitting had decreased pretty drastically.  I am rarely without a project bag close to hand to be sure, but I just hadn’t been able to reach for it as often.

The epiphany happened during one of the times I actually did get to sit for a bit with the Taina shawl I Tainahave been working on.  As I began knitting and I had that “I REALLY love this!!” moment, as I always do, I suddenly realized just how little time I had been spending doing this.   Like anyone who requires medication to manage mental or physical health issues, I saw at once that I had gone off my meds.  I’m thinking my family realized it before I did :).  But once I did catch sight of it, I knew I needed to get back on track.

This was really good news.  It meant I had an easy, tried and true solution AND it meant some of my languishing projects were going to get the love they needed.

I currently have 3 projects on the needles.  Besides the Taina shawl I am working on my Vanilla Latte socks and a double knit square for a blanket I am making.

I would have to say that currently Taina is my favorite.  Other than having to watch carefully on the rows that create the eyelet patterns it is simple garter stitch and very relaxing to knit.  It is definitely a good go-to when you want something to help you just recenter yourself and breathe.

As I mentioned in One for the Road I like to have things that challenge me in my knitting skills.  While knitting the Vanilla Latte’ sock I have been learning to Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  This has definitely been a challenge, but I think that once I get the hang of it, it will be one of my favorite heels.  In fact, once this pair is completed I plan to make several more pairs using it to become confident in it before learning a new heel technique.  Perhaps I will try the Strong Heel since Maggie was such a fan of it.

In terms of progress I am about to close the toe on the first sock and preparing to start the heel on the second.  Since I am very close to finishing my shawl, I think this pair will get the attention it’s been lacking and will be completed very soon.

Finally, I’m working on a double knit square.  Here is where I have to be mysterious and covert.  This is for a blanket I am intending to give as a gift for someone who may or may secretnot read this post.  So I must deprive you of the details for today.  But once this blanket is finished, which will be quite awhile I’m afraid, I will post pictures and tell you about the fun and trials and travails of creating it.  I am so, so close to the end of this particular square, but I made some mistakes in the last row I completed and had to put it down and take a break before I went back to it with fresh energy to see if I can deal with them.  Because there is a knit stitch and a purl stitch for each stitch it takes a good long time to do make things in this style.  I am literally 3 rows away from completion of this square so I am dreading the thought of not being able to repair it.  I may have to call in extra help on this one.  But I have every reason to hope it can be rescued and I can look forward to beginning the next one.

Breathing and Knitting.  Knitting and Breathing.

My apocalypses shrink in size if I remember to make time for these things.

I REALLY love that.

Peace,

Jamye

P.S. Finished Object!!

tainaclosetaina

 

 

 

Just Start

You can learn a lot from chickens.

The first Saturday in April I bought my first ever flock of chickens.  We have been on a learning journey together.  In those cool early days I was a bit of a “helicopter mom”, always hovering over them, making sure they were all alive and well.

In a few weeks some friends came over and helped us build an inside pen in our Well House just a few feet from our back door.  It is large and roomy, definitely a good amount of space for my small flock of 9 growing chicks.

As much as I enjoy watching them and taking care of them, for them it was definitely NOT love at first sight.  For the most part I was the “scary monster”.  I would speak in soothing tones, handle them gently, bring them food and water.  But they all huddled as far as away from me as they could when I entered the coop.  Slowly (so it seemed to me) I evolved from the “scary monster” to the “scary monster that brings the food”.

Twice a day our routine consisted of me coming in to freshen the water and refill the food dish.  Whenever I had time I would crouch down near the food and wait quietly.  I wanted them to get accustomed to my presence and be less skittish around me.  At first they would give me the side eye (because that’s the only look a chicken can give) no doubt wishing I would go away so they could eat.  Gradually, cautiously, they would inch forward and start eating.  Any shifting movement or slight sound on my part would send them skittering away.

It wasn’t long before I began realizing their therapeutic value.  While I cannot yet enjoy the higher quality and taste of freshly laid eggs from my own backyard chickens, for me, they are already paying for themselves.  In ways I can’t explain, watching them, talking to them (yes, every time I go out 🙂 ) somehow helps to reduce the various stresses I feel.  I have begun calling them my therapy animals.

Somewhere, somehow, at some moment I didn’t recognize our relationship shifted from “scary monster/bringer of food” to “move over, human, I’m eating”.  I chuckled when I realized it.

They are of an age now where I can begin introducing them to the outside yard.  I would be willing let them simply be free range.  But we live not far from a very busy highway, on a fairly busy street, with neighborhood dogs that sometimes find their way over here.  So, an enclosure that allows them both safety and liberty was necessary.

Most people who read this blog will understand the all-too-common issues of not enough time and not enough money to do all the things we want to do.  In the the case of our chickens, that translates into our not yet having a good outdoor structure for them, although the plans are in the works.  We will be building it ourselves,  once we figure out how…we are new at this remember.

But lately they have been rushing to the coop door every time I came into the Well House.  It was as if they were saying “Can we go out today?! Pleeeeaasse!!” We knew it would be a while before we could build a proper outside coop, but I still had to find away to give them at least a taste.

To be honest, I overthink.  A lot.  I like to have EVERYthing figured out and situated before I do something.  Preparedness and excellence are fine.  But sometimes, I let it keep me from doing something, because I fear “doing it wrong”.

But in a desire to allow my flock to experience the outdoors I had to do something.  So this past weekend DH and I took the chicken wire leftover from building the inside coop, picked up a few supplies and hunted around for odds and ends in the garage, and hobbled together a small but adequate outdoor pen.  It is not ideal.  I cannot open their pen and have them walk right to it, like the permanent structure I envision will.  It is draped at one end with a tarp to provide some shade and bird netting at the other end to keep them from flying out or the hawk that sometimes frequents our back yard from making an attempt.  Because it is built on a slope we couldn’t get the chicken wire exactly flush with the ground.  This meant finding whatever materials we had at hand; cinderblocks, pieces of wood and board, to place around the spots that had gaps so they couldn’t make a break for it.  So believe me when I say, this will win no awards for design or beauty.

hobbledpen

We carried each one to the pen and placed them in.  They didn’t like this part at all, but once they were in the pen and could forage and scratch and begin to experience a life of air and sun, they seemed to think this was a big improvement.

As I sat in my chair watching them to see how they adjusted to this, they didn’t squawk indignantly at the patchwork design, or shake their heads disapprovingly.  They stretched their wings and explored and found, I know not what, as they pecked at the chickengrass.  The scene was a lovely, quiet rural scene.  In my own back yard.

My lesson from the therapy animals for that day is this:  You don’t have to have all your ducks in a  row (or a perfect chicken pen) to start.  Again with the overthinking, I can do all kinds of preparation and research to start a project or learn something new, but when it comes to the point of beginning, I hesitate.

I need to get comfortable with the idea that I WILL do things wrong!  I will also learn new and better ways as I go.  The joy of it is the learning and growing.

So, to myself and to you, dear reader, I say this:  By all means, do your due diligence as you lead up to something new, but in the end there comes a time to stop prepping and

Just Start.

Jamye

Updated shots of my studio.  Still a work in progress.  Just like me.