The need to knit

This weekend, we decided to take the kids to see the new Planes movie. About an hour before we were going to leave, I realized that I didn’t have any movie theater knitting, and I was feeling like I REALLY wanted to knit during the movie. We don’t go to as many movies as we used to, and when we watch movies at home I can generally knit or crochet on anything I want to, since the room isn’t dark.

You know when you have those moments when the act of knitting or crocheting is a necessity? I was happy to see the movie and spend time with my family, but I really needed to knit, too. I can’t explain quite why, it was just a very strong urge.

That doesn’t mean that it is unusual for me to knit at family activities, but often I do it when the projects I have on the needles mesh well with the activity. It is only occasionally that I will start a project just because nothing I have on the needles is a good fit for our plans.

So I cast on a sock. This is sort of momentous, in that I can’t remember exactly when I last knit myself a pair of socks. I love my handknit socks and I have a nice array of sock yarns in my stash, but for whatever reason (baby gifts, designing, having a week’s worth of socks already) it has been several years since I have knit any new pairs.

I forgot how incredibly fast a plain stockinette sock can be! I knit the toe during our drive to the restaurant and dinner…

And the whole foot during the movie…

Actually, I knit so much that the foot was too long and I had to rip back about 8 rows that night!

The yarn is Wendy’s Sunrise in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. This is from their Color Commentary series…from 2009. So I went into deep stash for this one. I love the colorway, which is saying a lot for a yarn I purchased 5 years ago. I must really love it, if I STILL love it after all this time.

I am trying a Houdini sock construction for the first time. I admit that I didn’t even read Cat Bordhi’s pattern, but I have heard the Knitmore Girls describe it enough times that I understood how it worked. So far I seem to be getting a very nice looking sock that fits well! And though I will need to return to some design samples soon, for the moment it is nice to have something easy to pick up and put down when I can squeeze in a few stitches.

I am knitting a bit on it at lunchtime today, and I’m now about 3″ up the foot. I will have to decide if I want to use all of the yarn up or stop when the leg is as long as the foot so I can make matching socks for my daughter. We’ll see if I’m feeling generous…

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Well then…

Look at that. It’s July. Time seems to be moving faster than a speeding bullet around here, and I am assuming it is doing the same wherever you are.
 Two and a half weeks ago I took photos to share with you here and on Ravelry. They are still sitting on my camera. I feel like they are taunting me each night as I fold the laundry, or lay in bed, too hot to do anything.
 I showed off my next design a couple of weeks ago on twitter when I bound it off.

 It is now blocked and the pattern is off with my editor. I’ve started a second sample, and my mom is making one, too. I am thrilled with the result, and I can’t wait to share more!
 For now, an underlit, unprocessed blocking picture…

 (For those paying close attention, my next design was supposed to be those crocheted mitts. I have not given up on them. It is just that the shawl does not involve grading, and gave me the boost I needed to get back into design mode. The mitts require a few hours of concentrated effort. They’re still coming, I promise.)

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Class with Sivia

For a number of years, I had a personal policy: Anytime a nationally known knitting or crochet teacher taught in my vicinity, I would do my best to attend a class that they took.

Lucy Neatby, Melissa Leapman, Robyn Chachula, Nikki Epstein, Sivia Harding, to name a few…

There were a few missed opportunities due to late notice or having a newborn. But for the most part I stuck to that goal. At least until I started to teach classes myself. It turned out that teaching took up so much time (the act of teaching plus the time for preparation), that I didn’t feel like I could take those classes anymore. It killed me not to take a class from Lily Chin this past spring at the Pittsburgh Knit & CrochetFestival…but really, I only could have taken her Sunday morning class and I desperately needed to sleep in that day to survive such an intense teaching weekend.

So, one of the benefits of not teaching anymore is freeing up the time to take classes when special teachers come to town! Last weekend, Sivia Harding taught classes at Natural Stitches and I can’t say enough good things about the class I attended. I took her Sunday class on sideways lace design, and it was great. She was so willing to share her experience and her Japanese stitch dictionaries! (I know what will be on my Christmas list this year…) This is the first class I’ve taken about design, and it was helpful to hear how she approaches her process, and to get tips on getting lace stitches to work together. Also, the chance to look at her designs up close was instructive on it’s own.

I highly recommend taking a class from Sivia if you ever get the opportunity. I left the class with a completed swatch and a nearly fleshed out design. I’ve started a sample based on what I learned from the swatch, and I’m anxious to work up more of the sample. So add one more design to the list that I hope to publish later this year, and since the class I’ve sketched several more ideas…so much for my goals to finish things on the needles and designs in process…

Swatch in the intense sun we had this weekend

Swatch in the intense sun we had this weekend

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Ten Years

Around this time, ten years ago, a good friend taught me to knit. And the rest, as they say, is history. :-)

In the months after our wedding in fall 2003, I continued to read and post on a message board that had been a resource during the wedding planning process. Part of the reason that I stayed active on the board was that I wanted to give back to the group and share what I had learned. Part of it was that I had made actual friends on the board, and I wanted to keep “hanging out” with the people there.

In January, someone posted to the board that she was tired of knitting alone, and wondered if anyone wanted to get together to knit as a group. I had met this person in real life one time and she had seemed nice. At the time, most of my friends were people I had met through my husband, and I was not a knitter, but I did cross stitch and asked to join in. One Sunday afternoon in January 2004, the group met for the first time (just four of us), and over the next few months more knitters joined our ranks.

After a few meetings, I became intrigued by the books of knitting patterns being passed around and the cool tools that the knitters were using. (I’m a sucker for interesting tools.) I was working on a wedding sampler, and I decided that I shouldn’t learn to knit until it was done. (In hindsight, the was an EXCELLENT choice because I have barely done any cross stitch projects since I started playing with yarn!) 

At the May meeting I was done with the wedding sampler, and I asked the instigator of the group to teach me to knit. She did and the obsession began. 

I feel like I should do something interesting to celebrate the fact that I have been knitting for a full decade. We could pretend like all the yarn I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool was an anniversary present? ;-)

(Yes, I still intend to write a MDSW wrap-up post. It is in the works.)

Thank goodness for my friend, blogless Erin. She has enriched my life in many ways, but teaching me to knit was priceless and life altering!

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Out of Area 51

I’m just going to keep posting here as though there are loads of interesting fibery things going on. In truth, I haven’t even knit the past two nights before bed. I’m still feeling exceptionally tired, and I’m trying to be a mature adult who goes to bed early to fix the issue. Trying.
 But in the vein of finishing, as I talked about yesterday, I used my available knitting time over the weekend to work on a present for me that has been on the needles for a very long time.
 According to ravelry, I started the project on my birthday in February of 2013. And according to this post, I finished the first mitt in October 2013.
 I probably shouldn’t point out that this is the second time I have made this pattern, and I made the first pair in under a month.
 Anyway…at some point in late 2013 or early 2014 I cast on for the second mitt and finished the cuff. I would guess that either I was distracted by a design, or was just unable to muster the focus for the set-up round for the cables. No matter. The mitts have been pulled from hibernation, and have been a perfect project for the knitting time I’ve had available.

 Behold, I have knit up past the thumb opening on mitt #2! With a little dedication, this can be ready just in time for the annual washing & summer storing of all of the knitted & crocheted things!

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Finishing and Organizing

Right now, all of my available brain power, time, and energy that is not allocated to my job and family is going toward finishing and organizing. Finishing projects in progress. Organizing my spaces in the house and my stuff. (I always seem to do the shared spaces or the kid stuff first, and run out of energy for mine.)

A couple of years ago, I got my grandmother’s desk and her dresser. The desk spurred me on to start setting up an office on the third floor. But I couldn’t put together the consecutive time needed to complete the set-up. The dresser is bigger than what I had before, and it has the space for what was in my dresser and my vanity. This would allow me to use my vanity as a sewing table and free up space in our dressing room*.

So last month when I had a couple of days to myself as a part of the job change, I started the re-organization process. The office had become a dumping ground, so the first task was to deal with the mess. Other than sifting through my stash, that process is mostly done. I still need to move all of my office supplies into my desk and put the stash back on the shelves, but most of the materials up there have been gone through and have found a home.

This past weekend I worked on the dresser and cleaning out the vanity. Visible progress was made, though there is still a pile on top of the vanity to finish sifting through, plus a few boxes on the floor to deal with. I wish this wasn’t such a long process, but I realize that part of the reason it is so daunting is because I have put it off for so long. It was easy to ignore and work around. So I did. And for a number of years I had a good reason (aka infanthood and toddlerhood), but the time has come to deal with my crap and make my spaces the useful areas that I deserve.

This is the short (or not so short) way of explaining the lack of designing at the moment. The designs I have in progress require some serious computer time that I am not making time for at the moment in order to get my physical space in order. Hopefully, I will have all of my areas in order before the summer heat hits…at which point I can use my computer under a nice fan or next to an air conditioner. ;-)

*I call it this because I don’t know what else to call it. It is a room adjacent to our bedroom where we have our dressers, my closet and where we dress. Originally, it was a 4th bedroom, but it now functions as a part of our room since the bedroom doesn’t easily accommodate dressers.

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Product vs. Process

In some circumstances I am a product knitter/crocheter, and in other circumstances I am a process knitter/crocheter.

The desire for a knitted sweater and a 10-color crocheted afghan were part of the reason that I learned to knit and crochet in the first place. I have always been motivated by the desire for certain products of my crafting as motivation to learn new skills.

That said, now that the muscle memory of knitting and crochet are well established, there are times that I need to knit or crochet just for the sake of doing them. Either as a part of relaxing my brain at bedtime or to give me something to do with my hands in the car or to give me a purpose at the park other than watching my kids ride their bikes in circles. These are times when the process is more important than the product. (Though I admit that I have trouble crafting with no end product in mind…)

The past few months I’ve needed the process more than anything else. I have been making second samples of a few designs and I finished a few things that were already planned out. My brain has been so occupied with job change issues and our full family schedule that there just hasn’t been time for me to spend 2-4 hours working out a design.

This past weekend I desperately needed something to work on, and all of my designs are in the state of needing time for thinking and planning. There is one shawl that I have knit on and ripped out three times already. Our weekend and my tired brain didn’t accommodate planning/thinking time.

So I used the leftovers from the second sample of my Stitch Pattern Sampler blanket to make a hat. So fast, and exactly what I needed to work on at the soccer games, in the car, at the park, and before bed.

This coming weekend has few plans on the calendar, so I hope it will allow me the time to think and plan out a few projects. Otherwise, I see more hats in my future.


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