Spring is here. At least according to the calendar. It snuck in yesterday and it was a mild day. I think there might have been some rain. I was out doing grocery shopping while battling a bout of sciatica which has me moving and feeling way outside of my age.
Inside, I have two orders to complete. One is for a prayer shawl, like this one draped across the chair. The color is called herb garden and I am due to have it in the mail today, despite the discomfort. I enjoy knitting prayer shawls because they seem to have a purpose other than being a shawl. There are times I get the back story when someone orders a shawl. I don’t have the story of this one but it wasn’t rushed so I am feeling fairly tender thoughts when knitting it.
This is a simple knit, garter stitch all they – and using multicolored yarn lets the fiber to all the work. That helps in making this a calming knit but it’s also knowing most people order this shawl to get them closer to the spirit or to help ease someone else’s discomfort. That means something.
I didn’t do as many prayer shawls in 2018 as I did in 2017. Perhaps folks are feeling more hopeful. Maybe the prayer shawls in 2017 did their work so there weren’t so many needed in 2018. They will return to the shop in 2019 and I am adding another prayer shawl to go with them. The shawl I talked about in the last post. It is being made with a different yarn that changes colors and it is a big, triangle shawl. The pattern will also be available.
Spring brings new promise. The flowers are already breaking through the ground and the days are longer and lighter and will get warm. Knitsville folk will put down their needles and hooks – periodically – to go play in the dirt and plant colors they can only dream to knit with. Spring Come to Knitsville – it’s welcome. There are no bad days to knit; but we do like spring around here. We can knit outside.
It’s raining today. It could be worse, it could be a few degrees cooler and we would be having snow. We’ve had enough snow. I’m not even complaining. Earlier this month, it was in the 40s and 50s and that definitely should not be happening in February in Chicago.
But a rainy day means no photography. We take our photographs outdoors here in Knitsville. Even in February. If it had been merely cold, I would have taken the WIP I have to show you and taken a photo outside. I could have shown you the shawl I’m working on – an original design.
I could have also showed you the poncho I am making for myself. First, I don’t make things for me. But this yarn – which happens to appear in the photograph – bottom left, is no longer made and the company is all out of it. There was nothing to do with the skeins I have and I purchased a pattern years ago for a granny square poncho. I am not, of course, following the pattern exactly but I am looking forward to wearing it.
I could show you the ten inch, wooden crochet hook that belonged to my mother-in-law probably made for her by her brother who was very good at that kind of woodwork.
I might have been tempted to show you my yarn haul. Back in November, I purchased yarn from JoAnn, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Herrschner’s. A fair amount went to orders – I was very busy during the holidays – but a better chunk is here for future use. I wasn’t supposed to get any more yarn until May but I also received gift cards from JoAnn for my birthday and I had another yarn haul a few weeks ago because I needed two balls for two orders I had and Cat and I went to the big JoAnn store with a huge yarn selection and they were having a sale and…well, I know almost exactly what the yarn I bought will be used for so it won’t just sit there and be pretty. Besides, I did mention gift cards didn’t I?
The good news is, the poncho is going to take a while to get done. I’m only working on it in the office. The pattern will also get done and the final object will have to be recorded and the yarn haul isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so it too, can have it’s photo taken at another time.
So, we have Rainy Days in Knitsville. But the rain will go leaving behind a freshened earth and some flowers that are beginning to poke their heads up above ground. A worthwhile trade off.
There is a lovely place in Knitsville called The Yarn Barn. It is filled with fiber. Mostly acrylic but every once in a while there is a lovely wool blend, even some silk and camel’s hair. But mostly acrylic. It used to be quite organized but it no longer is. Marie Kondo would jump for joy at the sight of this room in our house.
I have more yarn than I can use in a year. I think I could go a couple or three years using one ball a day before I would run out. Even so, I still have to pull myself back from buying more.
I love the stuff. I like looking at and thinking of the possibilities. But even I know I have too much of a good thing. I have sold some of it and there is an idea running inside my head of doing a KonMari on the lot and bagging some of it up to sell at a craft show. I believe this is the year I will make that idea into a real thing. The craft show is already in the planning stages in my head.
Having this much fiber has also changed the way I will run my business. I am going to concentrate a great deal more on my Ready to Ship section so I will be buying only the fiber I need for those custom and made to order fibers. Right now, most of the shop is made to order and this year, I hope to make at least 25% of it Ready to Ship.
That satisfies on several levels: I won’t be buried in made to order orders and I will be able to use some of the yarn that has been looking at me from their cages. They will fulfill their destiny and become objects of art and usefulness. Isn’t that what we all want from life?
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and I can remember when it wasn’t an observance or a holiday. History has done to King what is had done to most of history – it has turned him into a romantic notion.
We think of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech as the ultimate King. He gave a rousing speech to an almost endless sea of people and the next day, racism died in America.
Except it didn’t.
As much as I love the speech from the March on Washington, my favorite MLK speech isn’t a speech at all. It’s A Letter from Birmingham jail.
Knitsville is snow covered and peaceful tonight but there is a single light in the town square as a reminder that a single light can cast away far shadows. I did not and do not have the courage at my age today that MLK had at 39. I don’t know that I will ever have that much courage. But as I enter this last phase of life, I find I have, at long last, The Courage to Dream for Myself. There are things I want and can now think about getting which is a step towards getting them.
That is a good thing. Knitsville is not more reality than dream but there’s more to go with it than where it is right now. I believe I will get us there.
I have no doubt MLK was not thinking about knitting when he wrote that letter but he was thinking about life and the right to create the life we wanted without being encumbered by other folk’s notion of who and what a black person could be. So he wasn’t thinking about knitting but he was thinking about me and I think about knitting and the spiritual blessing it is and the joy it brings to my life and it is part of that dream I have of what a perfect day in a perfect life would look like.
If you haven’t read past the typical observances of Dr. King, I encourage you to read about the last few years of his life when he was vilified by blacks and whites alike, Republicans and Democrats too. He had begun a new focus on poverty and war and he wasn’t appreciated because he didn’t ‘stay in his lane.’
I have a greater appreciation of what he did and how he did it. I may not be as brave but I am just a little braver than I was yesterday and not as brave as I will be tomorrow. I have dreams for myself and that includes making the entire world better.
I love going to Knitsville. In my head, it’s a place that’s kinda like Stars Hollow but without all the Stars Hollowness. It’s quaint but still manages to have some hustle and bustle. Everyone knits or crochets and a few of us do both. We love to laugh and dance. There’s a church on the corner – the only one in the whole town. But it has two drug stores.
Knitsville is the place I go everyday to work, play, pray and join with the spirit. Knitting is a spiritual thing here. It comforts and soothes and it can also excite. It is a source of learning and a source of pride. Crochet also belongs here and most of the time when knitting is said; it means both.
It would be hard to explain what knitting means to me as a way to keep my mental health at its peak. It is an important aspect of my life – more than I ever knew it would be. And at the end of it, there are pretty things.
Naturally when one knits (crochets) for hours at a time, one ends up with…something. A hat, or a scarf or blanket or something. And if one knits (crochets) for hours at a time every day; you get a lot of somethings.
When one has a lot of somethings and one has an Etsy shop, then one needs to create a section called ready to ship so those somethings can go to new homes and be used and loved.
There are several items which can and should go to new places and meet new people. There are hats and scarves and shawls.
I make pretty things. I make useful things. So, I guess I make pretty useful things as well. That’s the blessing within the blessing. It’s the act of knitting I love and it’s an additional blessing that things turn out so well.
But it does make for a house filled with finished projects and there are just so many that can be given away. I do give some away. My search serves as a station for people between housing and I give some items there. I have given each of my brothers and sisters an afghan. Various other places, too. Yet there is enough for a section in the shop.
I suppose I would feel differently about knitting and crochet if there weren’t such lovely things at the end of it. I would not be content doing what I did when I first learned, which was ripping out my knitting and starting again. I did because I didn’t have any more yarn. I now have room filled to overflowing so I can knit to my heart’s content.
All of it works together, I suppose, though it is still the doing and not the having done that brings me the most joy. But that’s symbiotic. I get to do the knitting. You get to do the wearing of it.
I don’t know that I was bored when I first learned to knit. I know I was fascinated by it and really took to it. But I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know to change colors on the same side and gauge was a term unfamiliar to me. My fascination quickly died because I only had one lesson, learning to knit with pencils. I didn’t even know about the purl stitch. There was no YouTube so I’m not certain how I figured it out.
Crochet, too, for that matter. Don’t remember when I learned it. I liked knitting better but I went without both, off and on, for almost thirty years after I learned in grade school.
I picked it up almost fifteen years ago and it has let me go. We haven’t let go of each other . I knit or crochet at a career choice and I’ve gotten into designing pieces for beginner and advanced beginner knitters and crocheters.
Opening the shop on Etsy was a necessity because there were too many items clogging up the house. Opening the shop did not solve the problem as there are still finished objects in the house. They are now joined by more than 800 skeins of yarn. Most of it in a 10×10 room of the house that also holds two desks, two bookcases, two computers and a laptop. Yarn is in every room of our house – including the garage and I’ve never knit in there.
There is something magical about all things made by hand. I admire people who can paint and draw. Those who have the gift of words and can pull together narratives and images in ink. I see some of the work of my fellow needle arts artisans and I am in awe.
The yarns are different that when I first learned and now they can do a great deal of the work by being self striping, having texture or mixing plies. There are some knitters who won’t work with acrylic yarn but I am not one to forego it. It is economical and has come a long way from the stiff, rough yarn that used to be commonplace. Today’s acrylics have softness, texture and beautiful colors.
Along with a huge stash of yarn, I have a collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks. Some come from the legacy left from my mother-in-law who crocheted and knit. None of her kids or grandkids have the knitting gene. Her needles are in the office in a couple of mugs. I don’t use them. They are part of the atmosphere.
I never would have imagined this would be my living and now I cannot imagine being without it. Knitting and crochet are cornerstones of my life and faith. Being able to do it as my work and as a way of connecting with the world is a bonus and a blessing. I am grateful every day.
Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you. – Jacques Prevert
One of the best feelings I get is when I go to bed and first snuggle under the covers. I feel warm and safe and embraced and shortly after that moment, I feel my husband’s body next to mine and everything is right with the world.
Since I can’t carry my comforter with me all day, I’ve created a very nice substitute in the knit accessories that can be worn to provide that coziness and safety. The Wearable Embrace collection are those hats, scarves and wraps that are meant to be pulled close to the body or are cozy and warm because they are made with bulkier yarns that invite the snuggles.
They are cozy knit accessories that hug you.
Fingerless mitts go where full on gloves can’t. They keep your hands warm and your finger free in offices where you can’t always control the temperature.
Headbands, along with messy bun bands, snuggles next to the skin to provide protection and warmth without needing a full sized hat
The Wedding Day shawl makes a wonderful keepsake for the bridal party, including the mothers of the bride and groom. They can be made in theme colors or to match in law dresses.
There are a variety of cowls and scarves that can wrap around your neck, head and shoulders to keep out the cold while complementing your fashion style and sense.
And, of course, a comforter that can be used on the sofa or the bed to snuggle under with someone you love – and there’s nothing wrong with loving yourself and not sharing with anyone.
Wearable Embrace items are already in designbcband range from $21.00 to $215.00.
“He wanted just to stand close to her, touch her hair that was white as glacier milk.” – Oleander
It almost makes no sense: white in the winter. You can almost see why there was the rule not to wear it after Labor Day – if that was the reason instead of the snobby way it was meant. Wearing white, or not wearing it in this case, was a way for the old money snobby people to distinguish themselves from the new money snobby people. As if the new money snobs couldn’t pick up on the trend and just stop wearing white after Labor Day.
In any case, Memorial Day the white clothes came out; Labor Day they went back in. Labor Day no less. A way of old and new money snobby people to distinguish themselves from folk who do the 9-5 errday.
But fashion rules were meant to be broken. Some laws are needed to keep us safe and to provide justice for all. But when it comes to clothing, sometimes fashion rules are just plain silly.
There’s no reason not to have some tactile, soft and cozy white knits to see us through the cooler days of fall and the frigid days of winter. Temperature notwithstanding, wearing white in winter can be hot. Pair it as an offset to a coat with a bold color, and cause your very own stormfront.
One great thing in have a color as the focal point, is that I get to play with design and texture. I can see a man knit beanie, an african inspired scarf that has bold color accents, a wearable embrace cowl, a thick and textured throw to cuddle under while watching the t and v.
So far, the white cowl has made it to the needles but it won’t take long for some other white knit accessories to come along and help smash the fashion rules. Look for them in the
“I have loved no part of the world like this and I have loved no women as I love you. You’re my human Africa. I love your smell as I love these smells. I love your dark bush as I love the bush here, you change with the light as this place does, so that one all the time is loving something different and yet the same. I want to spill myself out into you as I want to die here.”
Graham Greene – The End of the Affair
I have always been a little obssessed with Africa. Though I have no desire to get on a plane for more than 3 hours at a time – and that’s pushing my limits – I might do it to see Africa.
Until that moment comes, I am making do with creating Africa inspired accessories for body and home. I did a little research on Kente cloth and pulled the colors from there and have kept them in mind as I began work.
The first item that will come out is an afghan. It’s a beautiful geometric with blocks of bold color. I made one years ago and gave it as a wedding present. I don’t have a photo of it but this version is new and improved because I am knitting it to be reversible!
The colors I’ve chosen for this one: black, gold, cranberry, olive green, medium blue and deep purple. Each color has a meaning in Kente cloth colors:
Blue: Big spaces
Green: they symbol of life
Black: spiritual energy
I am enjoying it immensely. It will take about 6 weeks to make as a custom piece but I believe it to be worth the wait for such a bold piece.
The africa inspired knits will be available at designbcbin the fall of 2018.