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.

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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.

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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

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 🙂

 

 

Yarn, Colors, and Friends

This past Saturday I went to my first ever yarn dyeing class.  I have been itching (not dying, avoiding bad puns here) to do this for a long time.  In the last few months as a part of my knitty, fiber-loving journey I decided that this was the next stop.  As I watched podcasts and explored the many and wonderful online shops that sell hand-dyed yarn and saw all the amazing colorways and creative and intriguing names I knew that this was something I wanted to do.

My lovely pussy-hat wearing and proofreading friend Jen knew Sonya, owner of City Stitch Yarn Shoppe  who teaches a variety of classes and she arranged one to teach us how to dye.  Jen and I were joined by our friend Maggie Orr.  Maggie is a designer on Ravelry with numerous beautiful patterns both free and paid.  You can find her patterns on her Maggie Menzel page.

The day of the class was beautiful day and only a 30 minute drive to the location (music blasting).  Sonia, our teacher, was the ideal instructor, full of experience, sound information, and with a personality that kept things both calm and fun.

While the skeins of undyed yarn (100% Merino) were soaking in hot water on the stove to prep them for taking dye, we chose our colors.  Since we were working as a group we had to agree on 5 colors between us.  We settled on Gunmetal Grey, Teal, Orange, Purple, and Dark Blue.

Sonia had set up a screen laying over plastic containers for each of us.  When the skeins were ready each of us laid ours in a long oval donut on the screen just over the containers. We needed to work while the yarn was still hot so each of us began selecting the colors which were in squirt bottles, like the ketchup bottles you would see at a diner, and began applying the colors.  We would apply a color here or there, another color, step back and contemplate the look and then chose which color was needed next.  Once we were satisfied with the look, we carefully flipped the skein over and repeated the process on the other side.   We checked for sections that had not been reached by the dye and “filled in the blanks” with more color.

Once we were happy with our products we carefully squeezed the yarn with our fingers to help lightly blend colors that were adjacent to each other.

The next step took us to the sink to rinse our yarn with hot water until it ran clear.

Then Sonia said, “This is the part where the neighbors look at you funny”.  We all trooped outside and, right on a busy street, swung our brilliant lassos of yarn to spin out as much of the moisture as possible.

Jen, who lives near the shop, offered to take them all home to hang and dry and bring them back to the shop for skeining before Wednesday Knit Night.

We were all so excited to begin dyeing that none of us thought to take pictures of the class.  But we did capture the end results.

Here is a pic of mine in the drying stage:

handdyed

Now keeping in mind that, while we each chose different colors to work with, we were still drawing from the same pool of 5 colors.  Here are each of our works in the skein:

3skeinsI love how the very different results show the creativity and personality of each one of us.  So amazing the endless variety and artistry that each of us can create.

We, of course, had a great time selecting fitting names for our colorways. The top skein is my “Galaxy Dust” since it has a darker tone but with pops of color.  The middle skein is Maggie’s, it hinted at a green pool inhabited by goldfish.  This became “Koi Dreaming”.  Jen’s with its deep blues, greens,  and grays made us think of the colors of the deep ocean.  So it was christened “Mariana Trench”.

After bringing it home I caked it up and then knit up a small swatch to see how the colorway knit up.  This was my result:

cake

This lighting is not ideal, but I can say I’m really pleased with how this is working up.  It is a fingering weight yarn, but has no nylon, so I will not be making socks with this one.  I’m considering a Space-themed shawl to touch on both the name of this colorway as well as my recent shawl knitting streak.  But I’m going to sit and admire it for a while before deciding just what it should become.

I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into the art of yarn dyeing and exploring the variety of colorways that can be created.  To that end I’ve purchased :dyeingbook

I can’t wait to read, learn and experiment.  Soon I expect to see strands of color hanging from my back porch as they dry.  Oh, the joy.

In other News:

For those of you who enjoyed Yarn, Spring, and All Good Things and are wondering how our chicks are doing.  I am happy to report that they all seem to be thriving.  They have graduated from brooder to coop but have not yet made their first foray outside.  I check on them regularly and while I hope they will become more accustomed to my presence, right now I am still a big, scary monster, it seems.

Things are greening up around the homestead and I’ve been doing a roll call of herbs to see what has come back this year. So far Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Balm, and Mint have shown themselves.  I’m considering what will be revived or added to the herb garden.  Today I potted Basil, Cilantro, and sowed some German Chamomile for tea.  There will definitely be other additions, but I am still choosing just what those will be.

Since I’m still reveling in the joy of the creative process my wish for you is that you will thoroughly enjoy whatever creative outlet you claim as your own.

Peace,

Jamye