Knitting Love

Edging Two-Thirds Completed

Originally uploaded by fireflowerknits

The shawl edging is two-thirds of the way completed now. I’ve been able to pick up the pace on it somewhat by placing a marker through the last repeat I worked the day before so that I can see just how much I’ve knitted each day. I feel much more motivated if I can see some indication that I really am making progress. At this point it is an act of knitting endurance. I have to stay focused and make steady progress, day after day, in spite of the lure of other projects. It was encouraging to spread it out across the floor for this picture and see that it is really coming together as I envisioned.

I’ve started thinking about why I feel the need to embark on epic projects to mark significant occasions. This one is in part a tribute to my parents endurance, to their determination to hold together even when things were tough. To me it represents the beauty and symmetry of their relationship, burnished by decades together. To see them together, so happy, is a profound gift to my brothers and me. It has taken work, and courage, and faith. They have given us something rare these days, a family that extends unbroken through multiple generations.

Somehow when I go to express my deepest feelings for people, it comes out in knitting. Words don’t seem enough, they seem too easy. I’m not good at keeping in touch by phone. I can be flaky at times. But from time to time I make something for a loved one that they can always keep with them, so that a piece of my love for them is there to wrap up in even when I’m far away from them. When my youngest brother went to college in Chicago I made him a steady stream of knitted and crocheted gifts as my way of keeping him warm, even though he was now all grown up and definitely past wanting my big-sister protectiveness. On his own in the Windy City, he was happy to receive my knitting and I was happy to send it. I was both pleased and horrified last fall to find he was still wearing a scarf I had knitted from bargain acrylic (at least it was soft bargain acrylic) in my earliest days as a knitter. I promptly made him a new scarf, although that was before Knit Picks had come out with its superwash line, so a nicer wool-acrylic blend was the best I could do on my budget at the time. I was almost sad when he and his wife and son moved back to Arizona, since they hardly need my knitted love living in the desert. However, I have found that keeping my two children supplied for Pacific Northwest winters (and falls and early springs) has kept me with plenty of outlets for my knitting. And of course, I’ve discovered epic lace knitting, which is good for sending knitted love to desert-dwellers (at least the female ones). I seriously considered coming up with some separate anniversary gift for Dad, but I realized that really he has everything he wants already, and whatever makes Mom happy is what pleases him most.

Knitting for the people we love is a natural way to find the intersection between our creative pursuits and the other people in our life who may not share them.  It is a tangible way to express our feelings to loved ones who may be far away.  Thoughtful handmade gifts can be more meaningful than storebought ones because our loving intention goes into the working of them, and carries through to the person who recieves them.  A family friend recently mentioned that when she was visiting my sister-in-law on the east coast she was asked to repair a bear I had crocheted years before for my niece.  It had been literally loved to pieces.  Few storebought gifts live long enough or are loved enough to be repaired after years of use.  I certainly don’t knit every gift, but for certain people who I know will appreciate them, a knitted gift is the best way I know to communicate my love.

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Trendy Accessories (and Free Pattern Links) for Fall

My camera has gone sadly AWOL, so no picture today.  I have about half of the edging knitted onto the Pi Shawl.  it moves slowly because the edging has patterning on both sides, and also because my nearly one-year-old son doesn’t like to let me knit much these days.  Not to mention being busy getting ready for the move to Vancouver…

Anyway, I’ve been noticing a couple of trends in accessories in the stores and online, which I thought I’d share with you.  The first is newsboy caps.  I am seeing lots and lots of newsboy caps.  These are really cute for almost any age person who cares to wear one, and they would make good gifts as well.  I have found a number of patterns online, mostly crocheted, but a few knitted as well.

Also, pashmina-style shawls.  Pashminas are traditionally made from cashmere or a  blend of cashmere and silk, but any soft fiber would be nice.  They usually measure 12″ x 60″ (large ones measure 28″ x 80″).  Traditional pashminas are woven, but there is no reason you couldn’t knit one.  The size is very versatile, as it can be worn as a scarf, a shoulder wrap, or a head covering.  Many rectangular scarf or stole patterns would be adaptable to typical pashmina dimensions.  Ideally you want something ranging between laceweight and sport-weight yarn so that it drapes nicely and can be worn single or double thickness, depending on the weather.  Now, this might sound like a lot of knitting, but you could make something really beautiful out of a few ounces of lace or sportweight luxury fiber yarn on size 6 or 8 needles (4 or 5 mm) in plain garter stitch with a lace edging or a fringe at either end.  In garter stitch, it could make mindless knitting for watching TV, listening to a compelling audiobook, or even while reading or studying if you were to prop your book open on a table in front of you.  Of course, using one of the many gorgeous rectangular shawl patterns available, it could also be an interesting challenge.

Here are some pattern links:

Knitting for a Good Cause

Bunny with Mother Bear Project Bear in-Progress

Originally uploaded by fireflowerknits

This is Bunny, holding one of my present projects. Bunny was my favorite stuffed animal as a small child, and followed me all the way to college. Bunny listened to my girlish secrets, comforted me when I was upset, dried my tears with his floppy ears, and kept me company all through each night from the time I was around three years old until well into my teens. By college I could sleep without him, but I brought him along from Arizona to Texas as a familiar presence in my institutional-feeling dorm room.

Bunny is holding a work-in-progress, a bear for Mother Bear Project. Mother Bear Project provides hand-knitted or crocheted teddy bears to children (mostly in Africa) who are suffering from poverty, AIDS, and violence. Sometimes the problems of the world can seem overwhelming, but knitting for Mother Bear Project is a small, tangible thing I can do to address the suffering of these children. The pattern, available in exchange for a small donation to Mother Bear Project, is very simple, and calls for scraps of worsted weight washable yarn. I use odds and ends from my acrylic stash, you could also use washable cotton or wool. There are many worthy charity knitting projects out there, and I encourage you to check out this list of knitting charities on Interweave’s website and consider knitting something for a cause that you care about. There is really something for everyone. I find it a definite stress-reliever to work on something which I know will be a comfort to a hurting child. Charity projects can also be a great stash-buster. Many charities are seeking small projects like afghan squares or caps or baby clothes which are quick to knit and do a lot of good for the recipients.

Our latest news is that after a whirlwind trip north for interviews last week, we have accepted a job in Vancouver, Washington, just over the border from Portland, Oregon. We will be moving at the beginning of October. I will probably not have a lot of knitting or blogging time in the interval but I am really looking forward to getting involved with the vibrant knitting and blogging community in the Portland area.

Starting the Edging

Starting the Edging

Originally uploaded by fireflowerknits

Bear has an interview next week, and if they are as excited about him in person as they are over the phone, it means we will be moving within a month. On the one hand we have to be ready to move if he gets hired, on the other hand, there’s no guarantee of that, so we have to be ready to stay where we are, too. Stressful. I have been researching schools, and looking for reasonably priced apartments in nice neighborhoods with good schools, walking distance from public libraries. All by internet, because all this is in a city several hundred miles away, and we have to check out neighborhoods and apartments while we’re there for the interview next week. My brain is swimming.

I have managed to make some progress on the shawl. Here you can see the finished rose lace motifs and the start of the edging. I felt like I was close to finishing until I did some math and figured out that if I continue at the rate I was knitting on the roses, the edging will take 19 days to knit. Ah well, it’s pleasant knitting, and I like the short 11 stitch rows after weeks of working in interminable rounds. I’m feeling somewhat smug about the edging because after swatching quite a few edging patterns and not finding anything I particularly liked, I just made up my own. Basically, I pulled out some graph paper, combined elements from a few edgings I liked, and voila! There it was. A charming little edging with the right row repeat and all the elements I wanted. Sometime I’ll have to make a chart of it for all of you and post it here. Of course, right now it all looks pretty homely, because it hasn’t been blocked, but I feel like it’s coming together pretty much as I envisioned it. It’s a satisfying feeling. Definitely a good way to unwind from the stress of long-distance apartment hunting.

I had a lovely package arrive from Fleecemaker’s Fibers Etsy shop. It’s some pretty Romney roving in her Warm Blues colorway and it was quite a bargain, only $10.50 including shipping for 4 ounces of fiber. I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, but it’s pretty and very soft. If you’re in the market for fiber, go check out her shop.