Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dear friends...

Sending holiday greetings to you, and best wishes for happiness, good health, and fortitude in 2017.

Today is Christmas, and this is what it looked like at sunrise in Woodville, Rhode Island, USA:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Square deal

Here's the start of the famous Zick-Zack scarf on a #5 squared circular needle. Pattern is highly recommended, and it's free!

Over the past months I have been wont to complain about a hand problem that unhappily impacted my ability to knit. In fact, I wrote a piece for Lion Brand about my struggle and how it led me to trial a table loom they sell, with positive results. Perhaps the most interesting part of this is a general understanding I've gained of how woven patterns are designed and implemented. I'd never understood that before, but experiential learning--simply by warping and wefting a very small loom (11" x 11")--has clarified a great deal of the process.

This is actually two 11 x 11" looms joined.  It's the Martha Stewart Crafts DIY Weaver.

But weaving is weaving and knitting is knitting. The prospect of a life without knitting wasn't an option for me. Finally, with the correct diagnosis--because my symptoms were atypical, the full diagnosis took two years, yikes!--I've figured out ways to knit comfortably and often. While I continue to study small-scale weaving (with table looms of various sorts), I've developed compensatory measures that allow me to knit in the manner to which I was accustomed, so I've let the Portuguese Knitting gyrations drop.

Google-aided research shows that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is rampant among knitters, and Digital Tenosynovitis (inflammation of finger tendons) only slightly less so. Those are my two bedevilments. For those of you who suffer from one or both, or from arthritis in your hands, here are my recommendations.

First, discover the Magic of SQUARE NEEDLES. These are much easier to grasp than cylindrical needles, and therefore more ergonomic. Kntter's Pride Cubics and Kollage Square needles come in all forms--straights, dpns, circs, interchangeables. These are the two brands I've found that are readily available, and you can get them in metal or wood. Since my experience with them is limited, I don't know if one brand has advantages over the other--and would like to hear from my readers, if you have good information about this--but I can say one thing for sure--they are a great relief to work with, and I can't see myself returning to cylindrical needles ever, even if my hand problems should completely resolve! You can buy all of these needles on Amazon and through other websites. I tried buying some first, at Webs in Northampton MA a few weeks ago, but they were sold out of the sizes I wanted. I think it's more efficient to order online.

I bought two wooden-tipped circs, 5 and 7, and a set of metal interchangeables in sizes from 6 to 11. I generally hate interchangeable needles, and had recently chatted with my Knitting Cabal about how frustrating it is to use them (we all agreed on this point), mainly because they seem to untighten quite regularly and often the tip separates from the cord, releasing a cascade of stitches (HORRIBLE!). However, I've been using my new square interchangeables for a few hours and that hasn't happened...yet. Dare I dream?

The other aid to my knitting has been an over-the-counter soft-ish brace for CTS. I ordered mine from Amazon; it's made by Mueller, but there are several manufacturers of these braces, and I think the style and fit are up to the individual. In other words, what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. Trial and error time, my friends! Knitting with one of these braces on your hand is awkward at first and slow, but it also protects your wrist from damaging motions and provides much soothing support. It's really not hard to adapt if you just relax and take your time.

This brace is made by Mueller; it's relatively inexpensive and tightens with velcro straps. I bought it on, source of all things. Other good brands are Futuro and Imak.

Well, gentle knitters, that's the scoop from Woodville, Rhode Island. I embark on a Pacific Ocean foray next week and will be away from my computer for many days, so do not despair if your emails aren't answered in a timely fashion!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Desperate measures....

After the election, Pepto drank the Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid had the desired effect. I joined Pepto and hope to stay in the koma until 2020. Perhaps by then....

(An aside:  today's Kool-Aid is not what I recall from days of yore. Rather than being packaged in paper envelopes that contain granules meant to be mixed with water, it now comes pre-hydrated and in individual pouches. This makes it harder to add cyanide.) 


In the wake of the election, there's been a lot of kumbayah chat in knitting circles about how we must accept the reality of the Slash and Burn promises of the incoming administration with grace, how we should not move to New Zealand, and how we should infuse our daily lives and those of others with kindness and respect. As a lifelong proponent of civilized behavior, I find this to be old news. Yes, by all means, we should continue to operate like rational, decent humans, but/and we should also think about becoming defenders of those in the cross-hairs of the Make America Hate Again movement. Please consider upping your donations to organizations that defend civil rights, women's rights, immigrants' rights, reproductive and sexual identity rights, and environmental causes, since the government is about to increase their workloads and in some cases eviscerate their funding. And of course we should think about upping the time we spend knitting, whether for ourselves or charitable causes, because EVERYONE is going to need warm and fuzzy really soon, even if they live in a hot climate.


Seeking solace, my knitting cabal and I forayed to western Massachusetts last weekend to visit a truly beautiful yarn shop, Colorful Stitches in Lenox. This is one of the few yarn shops anywhere on the planet that has adequate natural light, so that you can actually see the colors of the merchandise. There's a second-floor loft that provides workspace as well as lovely things to buy, and offers a panoramic view of the calming environment. It is a pleasure to be there.

The shop's Command Central basks in natural light!

Everything in the store is luxe and inspirational. There's a superb selection of yarns, notions, books, accessories. Bonnie Burton, the proprietor, designs and knits amazing window displays (naturalistic pumpkins, Indian corn, autumn leaves, and other seasonal flora) and is a great source of knowledge about knitting, weaving, and all things needlecraft. Interestingly, late fall and winter are the off seasons for businesses like hers in Lenox, home of Tanglewood, Kripalu, The Manse, Shakespeare & Co., neighbor of Jacob's Pillow, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and many other stellar attractions that see warm-weather tourist traffic. So I'd recommend a trip there at this time of year, as you will feel relaxed and untrammeled in the shop. There are excellent restaurants within a stone's throw, and you can easily make a day of swanning around this lovely town on foot, or if you are so motivated, you can drive on to Northampton, home of Northampton Wools and Webs, about fifty miles eastward on the Mass Pike.

After a few hours in this dreamy part of New England, we all felt somewhat less battered by the aftermath of November 8th.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pre-apocalyptic knitting

Gentle knitters,
Apologies for the long absence. Since founding this blog in 2009, I have usually posted at least every month and often more frequently. So much has happened in the past few weeks, including knee surgery (with great results!) however, that I've not been able to do much creative work.  Well, I did knit a pink pig, whose color--as a friend noted--evokes Pepto Bismol. The pattern's from Sarah Keen's Knitted Farm Animals, a lovely book for those who like to make toys. 

I doubt the baby for whom this pig is destined will care much about its medicinal associations. Perhaps I unconsciously chose this color because the lead-up to tomorrow's presidential election has been so nauseating and stomach churning.  In fact, I could guzzle a bottle of Pepto right now.

Before speculating about the impending changes to Life As We Know It attendant on the election's results, I will offer a short discourse on the welter of knitting books I've been asked to review in the recent past. They just keep arriving, and I've become increasingly pickier about my choices.

First, I don't review most of them because either they don't appeal to me, or I don't think they offer much to knitters in general.  I also don't feel like taking time to write negative reviews.  I don't see my mission as guiding knitters about what not to buy or read, although I do like to talk about useful or enjoyable books from time to time (see A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, below).

Second, from time to time when a book appeals to me, I try one of its patterns before writing about the entire book. I did this a few weeks ago with a book by a Major Knitting Eminence that seemed really adorable and was right up my alley--knitted toys--and the first pattern I tried was SO FLAWED that I thought I must be going crazy because the instructions were completely impenetrable. Then, by way of reality check, I asked the Knitting Goddess to try it and she couldn't deal with it either. So scratch that from the list of potential reviews. I suppose that I should tell the publisher they need to offer some errata, but then that my mission? Maybe, when I'm in a less anxious state of mind, but right now there are more important things to consider. 

Third, even though books that are underwritten by yarn companies to promote designs that feature their yarn often do contain good patterns, I'm not usually interested in providing yarn companies with free advertising, so I tend to ignore those books.

Hey, sourpuss, are there any good knitting books out there?

Well, of course. I enjoy technical instruction books, stitch dictionaries, knitting history, ethnic knitting, and niche knitting patterns (toys, for example) the most. But that's me, and as the French say, chacun a son goût. And thus spake Zarathustra.

***'s an adorable book, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016), by Michelle Edwards (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) that will ultimately end up on my grandkids' bookshelf (along with Knitty Kitty by David Elliott, which they know and love), but before that I'll tell you why I like it and why it's great for readers of any age. Briefly, it captures all the best there is to say about knitting, and casts it into picture-book format.  So, it's not a knitting book per se, but a book about knitting, about why people knit, how they learn to knit, and what motivates them to knit--and to give their knitting away. Any knitter will identify with it, insofar as all of us learned to knit somehow, and whether we taught ourselves or were taught by someone else, it's a skill we value and think is worth transmitting and preserving.

If you know a child who doesn't knit, she or he will enjoy the story, which contains lessons about kindness, reciprocity, creativity, perseverance, and loving one's neighbor. After reading the book many times, a child may well be inclined to learn how to knit, or at least the seed of that inclination may be planted. And if not, said child may simply enjoy the book for its sweetly presented story.

If you know an adult who knits or doesn't, she or he may also enjoy the book. It's one of those transcendent fables for all ages and all times, like The Velveteen Rabbit or Charlotte's Web. It provides a hopeful message to those of us who struggle with the crudeness and crassness of today's world.


So, tomorrow we in these United States elect a new President. Watching the campaigns, as I have since they began, has been (as noted above) a gut-churning experience. The violent language, the ceaseless barrage of abject lies, the fear-mongering, the demagoguery, the despicable sexism, racism, and religious intolerance, the extreme hatred evinced by candidates starting from those in the race before the primaries to the present moment--these are unparalleled in our history, and these expressions are antithetical and repugnant to those who believe in democracy and the promises of American society. This is a shameful time for our country. 

The fascination of the abomination has kept me glued to the TV news and to a range of print news sources. Even if my preferred candidate wins the election, the campaigns have nonetheless highlighted the sulfurous miasma created by those who run our political parties, which seem to be concerned mainly with fantasies about American dominance and power, rather than with the realities besetting American citizens.  

I am afraid, because I see only a very bad outcome (in the worst case scenario) or a very frustrating outcome (in the best case).  
Tomorrow I'll be watching the election results roll in, knitting in hand, as well as libations. Which, dear knitters, will you be drinking?

Sunday, September 11, 2016


On the whole it's been a semi-rancid summer, except for the tomato harvest, still rolling in. As we ebb into autumn, my favorite season, I'm hoping for many resolutions of problem situations such as sweltering, semi-tropical humidity in New England, pesky health issues, and feelings of inertia and lassitude prompted, no doubt, by climate change and personal decrepitude. (And the death of a dearly-loved pet--Molly, the silver-cream Persian, just last week, of cancer--and the constant regurgitation of election 2016 news...that's so...completely...depressing....)

Is it any wonder that I can't decide what to knit just now? Should I commit to a large project, like a sweater, or continue to enlarge my wardrobe of scarves, hats, and mittens? These are the existential questions I ponder and fail to answer.

So, betwixt and between, I've taken to knitting faceless little gnomes. They are stash-busters, and just as appealing is the swiftness of their creation--approximately the length of two Masterpiece Theatre episodes.

When I first discovered the pattern it was gratis, but now its author, Tonya Gunn, sells it on Ravelry for $1.99--an eminently fair price.  Most decent candy-bars these days cost at least $2.00, except if you're buying them at an airport, where the price is more like $5.00.

I prefer to think of these gnomes as elves. Gnomes seem somewhat gnarly to me.

The facelessness of these elves/gnomes is what gives them character.  Arguably one could embroider features, but that would probably inhibit the elves' emotional repertoire.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let's not...

I've sometimes gotten assignments about summer knitting, wherein I was supposed to show readers how much fun it is to knit when the temperature and humidity levels are insanely high. Hello? Obviously this tack runs counter to reality, not to mention common sense.

I do understand, however, that the knitting-addicted allow their obsession to override sanity. I think of my job, in such situations, as that of a practical abetter:  a friend who says, in effect, Look, I know it's ridiculous to knit under such conditions, but I understand this is about being possessed by a knitting demon.  In these cases I tend to recommend very small projects done of lightweight or non-wool yarns.

Here in New England the temperature and humidity levels have been disgusting for the past two weeks, with little rain (we're talking drought conditions), and small prospects of immediate relief. Truthfully, gentle knitters, it has been an ordeal for me to knit anything at all, even with the benefit of air conditioning. If you, too, are suffering in a similar way, I'd like to propose a brief vacation from the act of knitting. Admittedly this sounds horrifying, but you can feed your lust by reading a knitting book! A good knitting book can be almost as enjoyable as knitting the most beautiful cashmere yarn on the planet.

Photo credit: Carrie Hoge.

So, here's one to start with--new this month from Lark Crafts publishers.  I reviewed another Carol J. Sulcoski book not too long ago, and I own an earlier volume of hers that I purchased in 2012, SockYarn Studio. Ms. Sulcoski is a writer of merit, with many interesting patterns and projects for your delectation.

Self-Striping Yarn Studio might be my favorite book of hers so far, because it contains an engaging and informed discussion of the properties and quirks of self-striping yarn, acknowledges the fun of knitting yarns that change colors randomly, programmatically, and gradiently, and offers useful ideas about how to manage the layout of a particular yarn's dye patterns.  In addition, there are quite a few inspiring designs for cowls, sweaters, blankets, baby jackets, hats--really anything you'd enjoy knitting.

Photo credit:  Carrie Hoge.

I think this "Damask Iris Cowl" pattern, by Barb Brown, particularly beautiful. The majority of the volume's twenty-five patterns (designed by contributors as well as Ms. Sulcoski), arranged according to yarn weight, are equally lovely, so they offer much food for thought. And that's what we're aiming for right now as a way of getting through all the heat--food for thought, a.k.a. knitting in the abstract.

Next post I'll be raving about Deborah Newton's recent awesome volume, Good Measure:  A Perfect Fit Every Time.  This came out about ten months ago and I've been waiting to talk about it for ever so long, but really needed a while to digest it.  (Plus, someone--you know who you are--has borrowed and not yet returned my volume of the prequel, Finishing School:  A Master Class for Knitters, and I've wanted to look at the books that's also been causing the delay.)

Well, I would be dishonest if I didn't undermine my opening disquisition by confessing that I actually have been knitting a little bit...another toy, this for a baby who was supposed to arrive several days ago, but who obviously hates HHH weather as much as everyone else.

He's the second sheep dog I've made, and the design is from Knitted Farm Animals by Sarah Keen (2012).  For a free copy of the pattern, courtesy of Lion Brand Yarns, check out one of my articles about knitted toys.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Family matters.

Lola--her name means "Grandma" in Tagalog! Like several grandmas of my acquaintance, she wears a skirt that rides up at the hem, and carries an overly large bag stuffed with knitting. Her raglan cardigan is removable.

Here's my latest knitted critter--a grandma!  Theoretically she's my proxy, and except for the hair color, I'd say we're a pretty close match. Later this week we're going to LA to visit the wee grand-bairns.

I'd planned to leave her there, so that the bairns could have an eternal reminder of moi, in case our video-chats weren't enough to incise me into their memories, but then the question of affiliation, of community, of belonging, arose. It's almost an existential dilemma:  where does Grandma belong?

The Community, left to right: Pippi, Sheepdog, Grandma, William Hedgehog, Babar.

The rest of the family came down resolutely in favor of the east coast.

Given that our household is a democracy, majority rule prevailed. Grandmama will return with me next week. I shall, however, photograph her, in the interim, in quintessentially Californian settings, and these photos will go into her deluxe album. Stay tuned.

Would you like to knit a grandma for yourself or someone who might need a grandma? Her name, as I've already mentioned, is Lola (not to be confused with Lola the Portuguese Water Dog). Here's the free pattern, courtesy of Lion Brand Yarns. With only minor modifications you could turn the prototype into any number of historical figures--George Washington, W. A. Mozart, J.S. Bach, Queen Elizabeth II.  It's the hair that's so inspirational.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hello, summer!

Apparently there are some people who vacation from knitting during the summer months. Mine not to reason why, but I do have it on good authority that during June-July-August there's a parallel downturn in sales at the few LYS that remain on this planet. Here it is, merry May, but yesterday the heat slammed in so it might as well be the dog days of summer. I'm still knitting and knitting and knitting large scale (my house has a/c), although I'm writing a piece for one of my employers on how you can make an afghan by knitting small blocks that ultimately are sewn together. That way, if you don't want to deal with dragging around a mess o' yarn in the summer heat, you can still knit and survive. Two of the afghan blocks are displayed in the photo far below--actually, the pink one is most visible. (The dusty blue one's on the needles, partly obscured by the chair arm.) It's a free pattern, designed by Irina Poludnenko for Lion Brand. I really like Irina's work, and recommend her website of patterns, Hats and Not Hats, to you. Her children's bonnets are completely adorable.

Portuguese knitting has been much on my mind, and somewhat in my hands. I taught myself how to by watching videos on Youtube, some of which are pretty amusing.


The advantages of Portuguese knitting are that the right hand's movements are minimal, and once you become adept you can probably knit pretty fast. Although you doubtless can't tell from the above-embedded video, in which the headless instructor is competing with ambient birdsong, the right hand simply stabilizes the needle. I hold my needle as if it were a violin bow; the left hand and left thumb do all the work. Tension on the yarn is maintained by the right hand and also either by looping the yarn around your neck (if you don't mind rope burn) or by using a little hooked gizmo (purchasable on that pins onto your clothes, somewhere between navel and sternum, depending on how you want to hold your needles.

It takes some getting used to, but the alternative--not knitting--isn't an option.

Foxy enjoys knitting al fresco, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The elephant in the room....

Gentle knitters, I've not been moved to write much over the past month as I've been preoccupied by some knitting problems, namely my right hand which is stricken with tenosynovitis, and a mohair cap-sleeved sweater that is almost finished but has assumed a disturbing shape, even though it's hardly shaped at all. I don't mean to sound cryptic, and perhaps I'll post about this tragicomic garment soon, but right now I question my sanity whenever I look at it.

Why was I on such a mohair kick about a year ago? I bought way too much of it, and still have a lot lying around. Yes, I like its ethereal qualities, its warmth without weight. But it is a bitch to knit, horrible to frog, and after all is said and done, it's slightly scratchy.

The good news, however, is that I'm teaching myself to knit Portuguese style, which is less stressful to my ravaged right hand than the standard American way I've used all my knitting life. Until now.

A while ago I promised to direct you to wonderful free patterns, and then I promptly forgot to do so. Well, check out King Babar!

His pattern is free on Ravelry, one of many gems in the treasury of Rabbit Hole Knits. He and other wonderful animalia are the brainchildren of Sarah Elizabeth Kellner, a creator of toys and whimseys. I love her work. You will recall her Henry's Rabbit design, which I realized in yarn and transported, in early February, to his new home in LA. He was intended to companion my granddaughter Adeline, but Max, her brother, co-opted him. I promised Max I'd make him any animal he desired, whereupon an order was placed for an elephant. Babar will accompany me to LA in July, and presumably then Max will return Rabbit to his sister. (Note to self: do not hold breath.)

I try to knit toys in acrylic yarns. Loyal readers probably know by now how intensely I dislike acrylics, but I also see their utility in the construction of toys and children's garments. Unfortunately acrylic can't really be blocked, and so Babar's regal cloak has a curling hem and his crown is in a permanent state of collapse. I may attempt shoring up the crown with pipe cleaners. If anyone has further suggestions, please feel free to advise me. If you decide to knit your own Babar, you may want to use superwash wool worsted, or something that will drape without curling.

Bumbling around Hartford, Connecticut last week, I discovered two paintings of knitterly interest in the Wadsworth Atheneum, by artists you've never heard of. The Knotted Skein (1870), by Seymour Joseph Guy (American, 1824-1910), depicts a young woman and her boy helper struggling with, yes, a knotted skein. Perhaps this is a metaphor, or perhaps it's an omen of an unhappy relationship (hinted at by the Brahmsian figure lurking behind the young lady?). Or perhaps it's simply a depiction of a knitter dealing with a familiar problem?

The Knotted Skein by Seymour Joseph Guy (1870) 
More cheerful is The Italian Straw Hat (1952), by Peter Blume (American, 1906-1992), a depiction of the artist's studio/bedroom, according to the museum label. Either he was a knitter or had a knitting visitor. And he was mysteriously fixated on the Italian straw hat.

Given the artist's attention to detail, one feels that this painting might just as well have been titled The Blue Chest of Drawers, or even more aptly, The Knitting Basket. But as the poet said, "a rose by any other name...." Altogether I find this a delightful, fiber-filled painting (note the rug, the drapes, the hat, in addition to the basket of yarn), and I enjoy all the non-fibery details too, rendered with such precision.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


A miscellany is a random hodgepodge of things, and knitwear designer (and lawyer) Carol J. Sulcoski's petite volume entitled Knitting Ephemera (recently published by Sixth and Spring) fits the definition well. Be warned: The print is minuscule and packed onto the page, so you may need your magnifiers. And, there is no Table of Contents (there is an Index) or organizing principle, really, other than factoids about knitting (and some about crochet). Disorientation is part of the process, but it's a temporary state, kind of a portal state, really, to render you receptive to the luminous yarn halo of knitting consciousness.

Reading the book is like walking into a messy knitter's house (not yours, of course), that nonetheless feels familiar and comfortable, chaos notwithstanding, because, and only because, you are a heavily-addicted knitter and therefore love anything to do with the craft, and also you have the type of mind that delights in such a random collection of informational tidbits.  You are in Knitterland! To mix metaphors somewhat (actually, a lot), the book is like a recipe collection that someone has put together over the years in a folder, a collection that consists of smeary words scribbled onto index cards, recipes ripped from newspapers, or cut off the backs of food boxes. It is very disjointed but you love fooling around in the kitchen, and you love culinary history, and you love deathless volumes like The Joy of Cooking--so you don't care about its disorganized state--in fact, it feels kind of good. You also enjoy books that mimic the conventions of nineteenth-century and even eighteenth-century publishing, and come with lovely red ribbon markers to hold your place. (Again, like The Joy of Cooking.) If you are such a person, my advice is Go for it!, buy this treasury, and also think about giving Knitting Ephemera to the Knitter Who Has Everything, before someone else does. Or before the volume becomes ephemeral.

I encountered the word "miscellany" as a child, and since I only read it--I think there was a column in Time Magazine of yore entitled "Miscellany"--I thought it was pronounced miss-SELL-a-knee, and for many years I couldn't figure out what it meant. Then, as a graduate student, I encountered Tottel's Miscellany, the first-ever published anthology of poetry in English (1557). Subsequently the term has proved useful.


Perhaps some of you, gentle knitters, convene occasionally with like-minded souls, for social as well as instructive purposes. My cabal, a group of exemplars styled K4TOG, meets as often as manageable for knitting-centric discussion and edification. Thus we inaugurated our 2016 agenda last week....Here you may observe one of us conscientiously winding yarn and conversing with the other knitters, while admirably ignoring the temptations of alcohol.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Worth keeping...

As has happened occasionally in the past, someone just gave me a trove of knitting supplies discovered while cleaning out a house for sale. This present included a large number of aluminum needles, and notes for projects like Christmas stockings and dolls, meticulously written and illustrated.

Pearl Tiffany, the author of this notebook, made her own graph paper! Patterns clipped from newspapers, folded into the envelope above, are dated 1954 (a stellar year, methinks).

I like looking at aluminum needles more than I like knitting with them, but I'll add these to my collection anyway. I love their karma, and I love having knitting hand-me-downs.

Speaking of which, here are sweaters I made around 1983 for my eldest son, then aged three. His brother wore them later on, and now they're going to my grandchildren, who will be able to wear them in a year or so. These were most definitely worth keeping. In a few days they'll accompany me to their new home in California.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Knit your own bunny

Kramer is not thrilled by his companion.

My latest venture into toy knitting was prompted by the discovery of Rabbit Hole Knits. Its doyenne, Sara Elizabeth Kellner, offers many clever, adorable patterns for animals and insects, and most are either free of charge or modestly priced. (Incidentally, if you happen to be attending VK Live in Manhattan this weekend, Ms. Kellner is supposed to be in the Marketplace.)  The bunny I made--Henry's Rabbit, it's called--is a free pattern, is easy to knit and was interesting to do in Lion Brand "Scarfie"--a gradient yarn that in the colorway I chose moved from Easter bunny cream to hare brown. My single modification was to do the tail in Skacel's "Woolie Bullie," an ivory bouclé that gave the tail a satisfying texture.

This little rabbit will travel with me to California soon, to meet my new granddaughter, the person to whom he is dedicated. I think that both Kramer and Molly will be glad to see him depart.

Molly says, "I shall pay him no heed."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hello, 2016!

Stoic? Disgusted? Resigned?

Molly's default expression since her well-documented adoption five years past just about sums up my response to the state of our Union and world affairs, except that unlike my semi-depressed pet, I seek consolation in knitting, not Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food. I was horrified to learn yesterday that adult coloring books are now toute la rage, and while I expect they provide the soothing benefits of light repetitive motion and help stressed people offload their anxieties or whatever, I wonder what happens when you go outside the lines? Could that actually make things worse?

At least if you knit away stress, you end up with something warm and fuzzy. Let me now extol the benefits of mindless, (in)terminable knitting:

Behold! Ted and the knitted mohair rectangle.

I am making this fabric on a #9 circular needle, and have almost finished using two balls of Schoppel Wolle Mohair Lady yarn, a nylon-reinforced semi-bouclé in a teal hue that causes innocent bystanders to approach me constantly when I'm knitting in public and gush compliments.  I cast on 110 stitches--that was the hardest part, because the yarn is very thin and extra-difficult to work on a fat needle--knitted a few rows of garter stitch, then began a stockinette. I'll probably knit at least two more balls of this yarn, until I decide it's long enough. That is the pattern. The shawl is somewhat too wide, I think, and in the future I will cast on fewer stitches, perhaps seventy-five or eighty, and I might even go up a needle size to make the fabric even lighter and more luminescent.

As I said, that is the pattern. I profoundly believe in the benefits (myriad) of mindless knitting, and I hope to convince you to experience it for yourself if you're not already with the program. This is the best kind of knitting for traveling or talking, or both, since you don't have to pay attention to anything except which side of the stockinette you're on.

Since the beginning of the year, six days ago, I've come across many knitting articles and blogs whose writers document their resolutions, most of which involve the failure to complete knitting projects in the past, and feeble promises to deliver a wealth of FOs in the future. Gentle knitters, these are boring and empty accountings, and I hope you aren't among the crew who beat themselves up for not getting things finished. If everything in life were neatly finished we would all be machines.

My new year's resolution, the inverse of the everyone's 'I will lose weight' fantasy, but one which made me incredibly happy, is to admit that I completely hate belonging to a gym and that it's a ridiculous waste of my money, time, and mental space. I walk into that den of ugliness, of metallic contraptions and sweaty, slobbily-dressed people glugging their water bottles between and during whatever bloated gizmo they're pounding away at, I see the ubiquitous TVs broadcasting idiotic sporting events, I try to block the hideous pop music with earbuds (encased in a knitted sleeve, of course), I grit my teeth and I do my diligence. To what end? I am no fitter than when I signed up two years ago. That's not the gym's fault--it's mine, in the sense that I find it so disturbing to be there that I avoid it as much as possible. Not a good situation. My contract expires in March, and so--goodbye! I can do my usual fitness things at home--walking with Lola, yoga by Youtube instructor, climbing the many flights of stairs in the house. Amen. And then I will have extra money for yarn.

With this post I've commenced a new blog feature--I'll be regularly linking to Free Patterns I discover or invent (moreso the former) that I hope you'll find inspiring. Some blogs do this fairly regularly, and they have nice alliterative handles, like "Free Pattern Fridays." I can't tie myself to a predictable day like Friday, because I never know when I'm going to sit down and write my little heart out to you, but I do plan to draw your attention to some excellent designs out there that may be accessed gratis. To me it's like foraging for mushrooms, which I have done (and survived, obviously), or better, wild asparagus. I know a place in a nearby conservation area where there's an ancient asparagus patch, the remnant of a long-gone farm, and I diligently monitor it in the spring so as to get the stalks when they're at peak. They are so beautiful and good, and it's such thrilling fun to reap a serendipitous discovery.

Sunrise, Wood River, January 6, 2016. 

Sending out best wishes to you for a good life and good knitting in 2016!