Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of Where I Live

This year will be my first year participating the "31 Days Writing Challenge".  The goal is to blog every day during the month of October on a single topic.  For the past few years I have watched some of my favorite bloggers participate.   This year, I am in.

For my theme, I have chosen "31 Days of Where I Live".   Since moving from NJ to FL,  four years ago, Fall has consistently brought with it the worst homesickness.    This year, at least for the month of October, I am planning to pick one thing each day that I like about living in Florida.   There have to be at least 31 things, right?   Come back here each day and find out. :-)

Day 1: So, Where do I Live?
Day 2: Sometimes things just work out
Day 3: Happy Days
Day 4: Can't Beat the Beach
Day 5: Farmers Markets
Day 6: Ponte Vedra Beach
Day 7: My Favorite Restaurant
Day 8: City Coffee
Day 9: Rest
Day 10: It's Pretty Where I Live
Day 11: Fish Tacos
Day 12: Sew & Quilt Shop
Day 13: Not Happening

Come knit with me...

Have you tried my Simple Comforts Wrap?   Why not?   The pattern is simple (hence the name), but not boring.   With a one row, four stitch repeat, you will have the pattern memorized in no time.   If you can cast-on, knit and yarn over, you can do this.  The resulting wrap can be dressed up or down and is too cozy for words (all evidence to the contrary).   Best of all, the pattern is free (can't beat that) on Ravelry.

You can see a photo of the original Simple Comforts Shawl in my sidebar but, sadly, that one went up in smoke when my house did (more about that here).   This one is a sample in progress (Will I finish it before this Saturday?  Come on by and find out.)   This time I am using Skacel's SimpliWorsted (available at S&Q).   This is the first time I have used it and I really like it.   It was reasonably priced, is mostly natural fibers, is suitably soft and snuggly, and the drape is perfect for a comfort shawl.

If you live in NE Florida, have just realized that Christmas is only 85 days, 13 hours, and 11 minutes (as of this writing) away, and that a cozy shawl would be just the thing for Aunt Bess, please join me at the Sew and Quilt Shop, in Bunnel, FL, this Saturday (and another two weeks hence), for a Simple Comforts Wrap workshop.    I can help you pick the perfect yarn, the appropriate needles, and get you started on your way to cozy comfort.

Care to join us?   Here is all the information you need:

Simple Comforts Wrap Workshop
Location: Sew & Quilt Shop (directions here)
                 4601 E. Moody Blvd. #B-6,
                 Bunnell, FL 32110
Dates: Saturday, October 5th & 9th
Time: 10am to 12:30pm
Price: $15 per session
SuppliesSimple Comforts Wrap pattern (download here)
               - 800 - 1000 yards of worsted weight yarn (I can help you pick the perfect thing)
               - knitting needles that match your yarn (12" straights or 24" circulars)
               - 1 stitch marker
               - scissors/snips
               - yarn needle (for weaving ends)
Need to know - Cast-on
                        - knit stitch
                        - yarn over (increase)
                        - Bind-off

Please do call/email ahead and let us know that you are coming.

Note:   This Saturday, October 5th is also Sew & Quilts' monthly Knitting/Crochet group, described thusly:

"Creative Critters: Crocheter + Knitter = Critter - Seasoned beginner, almost professional, or wanna be crocheter or knitter join us for a few laughs and a bunch of tangled fun! Sit & Stitch...Don't miss Saturday, October 5th 2pm - 4pm or Monday, October 7th 10am - Noon!!"

Feel free to stay on for that (there are lots of great places to grab lunch in the area).   I am planning to.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Easy Peasy Knitting

Finally one of my "secret" knitting projects can be shown.   This is the shawl I whipped up for a friend who lost her mother.   The minute I heard, I knew that I would knit her a shawl.   This friend is a knitter from New England.   She understands the healing power of wool.   

A quick trip to the Sew & Quilt [and yarn] Shop, a couple of hanks of  Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky  and I was good to go.   The first time I finished it, it was too small.   I ripped it out and re-knit it on bigger needles.   The new size was good but boring.   Another trip to S&Q  some knitting, some ripping,  more knitting & a little crochet and I had a border I liked.   She loved it.   I am so glad.

The pattern itself was so simple as to not merit a "real" pattern.   

So here it is, easy peasy:

I used three hanks of Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky & US11 needles, but this pattern would work with any yarn.   Just remember to change your needle size to match your yarn.

Cast on 7 stitches

Row 1:   Knit front & back, knit to the last stitch, knit front & back.

Repeat row 1 (increasing in the first and last stitch) until you are happy with the size.   Remember to leave yourself enough yarn to cast off. 

PIck-up stitches along sides and bottom

Now, you have two choices, 

knit two rows and end with a picot bind-off

or you can do what I did:

using a corresponding crochet hook, crochet two rows and end with a picot edging.

Weave your ends & you are done.   I did not block it, but if the bottom curls, you may want to.

I started the first one at dinner on Thursday and finished it at dinner that Saturday.   The second took longer, but mostly because I had less attention to give it.   Even then, it only took a week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

If only it were so...

A very wise woman once told me that your ghosts never go away.  You just get better at dealing with them.   For our family, and thousands of others, the horrific events of September 11, 2001 are ghosts that will haunt us forever.   Twelve years on, we have gotten better at dealing with them.   You have to.  Insanity lies in the other direction.

Recently, a church speaker gave a talk on trauma and the strengths we can draw from it.    I would, and have, gotten out of my sickbed to hear this guy talk.   He is just awesome.   As I listened, rapt, to what he had to say (not all of which I agreed with), he did it.    He went "there".    Now I can deal with 9/11 when I know it is coming, but when it takes me by surprise, it is like getting the breath knocked out of me.    He said, "Now take September..." (At this point it is like time stops, while I think to myself, "Please, please don't go there.  Don't open that box").... 11th (Damn, he went there!)    My head is filled with memories of fear, grief, tears, & terror.   

Hubby squeezes my hand and I know that we are in this together.   Slowly at first, I am able to breath.   I do not stand up and scream.   I do not run from the room in tears.   I take each breath (and each stitch, I was knitting, of course) one at a time.   Another speed bump is gotten past.

Please show some respect on this day.   Please remember that for some of us "Never Forget" is more than a political slogan and/or a pithy bumper sticker.   Please understand that  "Just get over it!" may not be a viable option.  Please don't forget.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Knitting in Threes

It's pretty where I live.
Pontes Vedra Beach

Whether we acknowledge it or not the number three figures prominently in all of our lives.
Think about it, Christians (Father, Son, Holy Ghost),  Buddhists (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), Pagans (Mother, Maiden Crone), Taoists (Heaven, Human, Earth),  Hindu (creation, destruction, preservation),  Kabbalah (male, female, uniting intelligence), physiologists (mind, body, spirit), scientists (animal, vegetable, mineral) philosophers (past, present, future) all find significance in the number three.

At Disney we pay based on child/adult/senior.  With the "Serenity Prayer" we hope for serenity/courage/wisdom.  There are three phases of the moon.   The Chinese see three as a perfect number.   To the Mayans it is the sacred number of women.   The Japanese believe in three treasures truth/courage/compassion.   The Egyptians see the cosmos in it.  Three primary colors are at the basis of all colors.    

Rambling, I may be but bare with me for a minute, I really am going somewhere knitting related with this.

Prayer, comfort, friendship, these are just some of the names we give the shawls we make for friends who have lost (a loved one, their health, their belief in someone or something) and are grieving, recovering, hurting.   We want to give them a hug infused with our sympathy, encouragement, and/or empathy.

Perhaps for reasons already given, many of us prefer to work these "giving" projects on a multiple of three stitches.    For me, at least, it lends itself to the prayer and meditation that I like to practice while knitting these special projects.   My hope is that the recipient will somehow find comfort not just in receiving a handmade item but in the sincerity of the good wishes that are woven into each stitch.

So, here is my question for you:  What do you call your Prayer Shawls and what (besides your time & talent) do you put into them as you work?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Knitting Accessories

It is so very awkward that I cannot show you what I am knitting these days.   One thing is for an upcoming pattern.   The original sample went up in smoke, so I am knitting another (actually I am knitting three others).

The other knitting project I am working on is a gift from someone who reads the blog.   Not until it is in her lovely hands, will you guys get to see it.   In fact, no one but my BFF has seen it since I cast-on.   No spoilers allowed.

What I can show you are these very cool, very easy stitch markers.  Every time I see them on Etsy and Pinterest, I think to myself "I can do that", and then I don't.    Well, yesterday I finally did.   Why did I wait so long?   They are super easy.   The rings are "chain mail" rings found at Joanne's.  I bought these "silver" ones along with a package of multi-colored rings.   The beads were "2/0 Czech Glass E beads".   I opened the ring, slid a bead right on, and closed the ring.    I bought jewelry glue but did not use it.   Given time and use, I may change my mind about that.

We are still settling into our house.   In order to make it livable with-in the desired time frame, I not only gave up working on my office but I put every thing I did not know what to do with in there.   On move in day, our house looked lovely (except for my office which looked scary).   I considered taking "before" photos but decided against it.   I don't think I want to remember.    As of today, some order has come to my chaos.   I am actually sitting at my desk typing this and I could be sitting on my love seat knitting if I wanted to.   There are just a few more things to hang (including curtains) and the room will be ready for pictures.