Each morning a smidge of peace arrives in my mailbox; just a click away from a longer meditation. From December 1-21, in addition to a wonderful knit-a-long pattern, Christina Campbell shares daily reflections on her 2020 theme “peace in place”. Her creative writing, landscape photographs, and peace building challenges are inspirational. I am writing more and reflecting on her definition of peace “…cultivating right relationships with self, others, and the Earth”.
While Phoenix is not our stay-in-place place in these Covid times, I remember a quiet walk through the Desert Botanical Garden. The trails wend through flora exotic to my Midwest field and forest eye. The garden offers brilliant pops of color against the subdued desert backdrop, as well as sculpture placed so artfully so as to merge with the landscape. Certainly what Chihuly intended with his Glass Towers. In another era we might have asked: Is it live or is it Memorex?
I consider myself a fastidious Ravelry user. I have taken pictures and recorded new yarn in my motel room within hours of visiting a yarn store and project pages are a must. Maybe there is a secret cataloger lurking in me that desires to keep an orderly record or it could be that with 154 projects (to date) my memory can get a bit fuzzy about what I have knit when and with what yarn.
Not surprising with over 13,000 Ravelry groups some so small they only include 2-4 people and others with memberships well into five figures there is a discussion forum for bloggers. A Year of Projects blog-a-long offers a framework to keep track of what can be a chaotic mix of actual works-in-progress (WIP) and those that are only dreams; while encouraging writers to write all with the added bonus of a built in audience among the participating bloggers.
Having just re-joined the blogging sphere in May, I have yet to suffer from prolonged writer’s block and who knows if Knit+ Librarian will continue beyond this pandemic sequester but A Year of Projects could be useful as an online writers’ group. As I am joining the group mid-year, my list of projects yet to be tackled (with or without an accompanying blog post) includes:
During the hazy days of August, The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends, discussed the practicality (or lack thereof) of fingerless mittens. And, eureka – a winter gift idea was born. Just as autumn arrived, I cast on the first of five pairs of mitts with colors and fibers selected for each recipient from my stash. The Mitty pattern includes three repetitive rib rows so I propped up my iPad with enlarged font and read Elizabeth Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries while knitting. Although I did have to pay close attention on the fourth mock cable row. With today’s official arrival of meteorological Winter, each friend has a pair with which to experiment or re-gift.
While my Ravelry project page certainly records sweaters, specifically nine before 2020, sweaters were not my go-to knitting project. The amount of work and time required coupled with horror tales of projects gone wrong with elephantine results kept me working on lots of shawls and scarves. Items where gauge and size were less crucial. Then I found Marie Greene and her 4-day sweater challenge. Admittedly, my Foxtrot took over two months to complete but I was so pleased with the results that I selected another of Marie’s patterns, Houghton, to knit a sweater for Mom using a lush English merino-mohair blend. Then, thinking ahead to fall travels (in pre-Covid times) I knit the same cardigan for myself using the same yarn in the same color and even the same buttons. This became the first of my 2020 sweaters. Soundtrack, another 4-day challenge completed in 22-days, was sweater #2.
Now, just off the needles and the blocking squares is Happy Hour. Designed around the pre-Covid memory of outings with friends for happy hour, the sweater includes a colorwork yoke with a 3 PM, 4 PM or 5 PM pattern repeat, as well as a fanciful repeat on each sleeve. I opted for three pattern repeat with a nod to an early toast at the end of the work day.
In this very strange year when daily wear is almost exclusively comfy casual clothes with only an infrequent ZOOM meeting to show off three new sweaters I have transformed 4,397 yards into three sweaters all within 41 weeks. My far flung Knit Camp buddies have offered encouragement and instruction making it all happen, as well as another 18 smaller projects for family, friends, and fundraising service auctions. Happy knitting!
Only three-plus years in the making but I finally knit a Lego Blue replacement hat for John Lac. He had graciously donated his hat to be re-purposed as a toe cozy for his Mom (2017) which I cropped and added elastic to snub it up tight since a Wisconsin winter is a bit chilly for open toes, even if her fuchsia cast was very fashionable.
During a week of rollercoaster emotions but definitely a big add in my positive column, is the news that Christina Campbell will host another Project Peace knit-along. Since 2016, I have joined her and knitters from around the world by picking up my needles and conscientiously focusing on peace during hectic December days. What started five years ago as a unique idea to conduct a knitting “peace-along” after the electoral dismay of 2016 has continued each December. Every year Christina shares a new themed pattern and daily meditations. Project Peace 2020’s theme is “peace in place inspired by the need to connect with place during the pandemic and find peace in the now.”
My Ravelry project page is built and I am anxiously awaiting yarn suggestions (November 18) and the pattern drop on November 30. I am already imaging the fiber loveliness that will become an elongated, textured shawl since Christina’s previous patterns gave me these crafted beauties.
You can even follow everyone’s progress on Instagram: @thehealthyknitter by checking the hashtags: #projectpeace2020 and #knitforpeace.
After my toe-up Ruisseau Socks, I swore off knitting this particular clothes item. Too fussy. All that work to complete just one and, of course, one is not enough so you are done but not done. Then the September Knit Camp project was (you guessed it) SOCKS. So, ever the practical person (after all why pay for classes and then skip them) I tackled another pair. Designed by Marie Greene and dubbed Milkshake Socks because this is “An old-fashion recipe for plain socks that you can shake up with your choice of colorful yarns. … Think of your yarn choice like adding flavor to your milkshake.”
Gauge for Ruisseau required US #1 needles. My first time working with something that small and my sock learning experience was to continue as Milkshake necessitated a #0 based on my tension and this yarn. To get a sense of size – pull out a ruler with metric measurements. A #1 needle is 2.25mm in diameter and the #0 a fraction smaller at 2mm.
New socks. Two socks. Whose socks? Sue’s socks. Who sews whose socks? Sue sews Sue’s socks.
No new yarn was purchased for this project as I did a stash dive for this orange-turquoise-gray self-striping skein called Enceladus (one of Saturn’s ice moons). The color combo was unique to Northfield Yarns and purchased during the 2015 YarnVenture shop hop. At the time I had yet to knit a pair of socks or even add them to my project queue. I picked up the exclusive hand dyed skein solely because as it was featured by what I now dub my local yarn store (LYS).
With my Milkshake Socks complete, I think I may really be done with socks – – – Thank you Dr. Suess and Fox in Socks [or not!]
After years of attending library conferences that were defined by long days, lots of sessions, vendor meetings, networking and tasty meals shared with colleagues, as well as visiting unique locations – Wrigley Field, Independence Hall, or walking the Golden Gate Bridge, I am experiencing conference life – Covid style.
Just this month, I participated in restful meditations while knitting my Repos Hat with Solène Le Roux, a French knitting artist whose work I love. Her Zoom and Facebook Live sessions featured daily themed meditations in French and English, as well as stitch instruction that complimented her most recent five part mystery knit-along (KAL). (French to English translation: repos – rest)
After those quiet days, I joined the exuberant Marie Greene and her Olive Knit team for the inaugural beach and camp themed Knit Camp at the Coast. I joined hundreds and hundreds of knitters from around the world. (Although, I was in a couple of breakout groups with people from Carver, Rochester and Zumbrota, Minnesota – small world!) I learned new techniques for socks and stranded knitting which I can incorporate into current projects on my needles, tackled my first Brioche sample (that is going to take a lot more practice) and even took restful breaks led by Yoga for Knotted Knitters – great for my tense shoulders.
My comfort level with traveling in this time of Covid is very low (non-existent actually) so while I hope to join others in real places for future workshops and tours, the virtual learning and crafting opportunities are just right for 2020. Happy knitting!
I know the answer to the Danish prince’s question; “To be or not to be…” Sadly it is not to be. I should be packing not writing about not traveling. The big trip of my 2020 travel itinerary (as planned pre-pandemic) was to be a “fiber adventure in Copenhagen & the Faroe Islands” with Rowan Tree Travels. My Danish nine days was to include the traditional highlights of Copenhagen (the Tivoli Gardens and the Amalienborg Palace) as well as visiting local yarn stores and enjoying a smørrebrød before flying to the Faroe Islands. And, in case you need a geographic reference (like I did) here is a quick Wikipedia fact … “a North Atlantic archipelago, about 200 miles north-northwest of Scotland, and half way between Norway and Iceland”. I would have spent five days touring the Faroe Islands visiting sheep farms and studying with fiber artists to learn traditional pattern work. All with a small group of 12-14 knitting enthusiasts. Now my international knitting escapade must wait for safe times in 2021.
When you begin knitting and, even after years of experience, there is a dread of dropped stitches unraveling your hard work. After a decade of projects (145 complete or in-progress currently listed on my Ravelry page) I am finally comfortable picking up dropped stockinette stitches or correcting a mistake in knit-n-purl ribbing. However, the intricate subtleties of stitch structure still elude me and, if the mistake occurs in a well-loved cable project or (heaven forbid) on lace work, I frog back. So you can imagine my trepidation when the August theme for Knit Camp was: Streeking.
Not familiar with that word? Neither was I. The primary definition of this transitive verb is to stretch or to extend, coming from 12th century Middle English, chiefly Scotland. As a modern day knitting technique, steeking is a multi-step process that involves preparing, cutting, and finishing the streeked item. And yes, I did say “cutting” as in taking a sharp scissors to a perfectly good item and cutting something knit in the round and making it flat. Right?!? And I wanted to do this why?
Having committed to a fun year of Knit Camp with Marie Greene and approximately 1,000 other intrepid knitters, I thought why pay for classes and then skip the work. So I knit the Soundtrack Cowl, a variation on my Soundtrack Sweater, crocheted two steeked columns, added extra back-stitched reinforcement since my HiKoo Sueño is superwash, cut a specifically planned purl column (yikes!), added a decorative binding on each side to seal the raw edges, picked up left and right side stitches to add a Knit 2 – Purl 2 ribbed button band and, finally, added eight remainder buttons. While I am satisfied with the finished project, I am pretty sure streeking will not become my new go-to knitting technique.