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!