I think I am having the most fun knitting I've had in ages. Fearless knitting is phenomenal! I love every second. I love searching for fearless patterns and I love knitting fearlessly. I'll admit, it is hard and time consuming. That's why I haven't been writing at Knitting: A Love Story as much as I used to. It's not that I don't love writing, it's that right now I love knitting fearlessly more. In March, I found an on sale basket of sock yarn at Ann's By Design and one of the balls didn't just speak to me, it sang to me. It had all of the colors I love; red, purple, green and black. As soon as I touched it, this picture popped into my head.
I've had Optical Delusion for quite a while. So long in fact, it has gone through a couple of updates. I never found the perfect yarn until that fateful day in March at Ann's By Design when I saw this.
Isn't that perfect!?!? I decided to start Optical Delusion while we were at the condo in April. I thought it would be the perfect time to be fearless. Before I go any farther, let me show you the pattern.
There was beautiful background information about the scarf that got me in the mood to set out on this new adventure. I love patterns where the designer describes the thought process that went into the design of the pattern, tips on making the pattern easier and whatever else they want to tell us. For me, it is like going to an author interview where they talk about their writing process, tell something about the characters and the story behind the story. I enjoying hearing from both the designer and the author equally. Kim McBrien Evans told her story, said cast-on 25 then said refer to Chart A. There are 6 charts Fire Chart 1, Fire Chart 2A, Fire Chart 2B, Fire Chart 3A, Fire Chart 3B and Fire Chart 4. After I realized there were no words to work from only charts, I said, "SHAZAM! This is really fearless knitting." I redid Fire Chart 1 several times until I got it, then I was on my way (or so I thought.) I had to find a way to determine what row I was on. When I got to Fire Chart 3A and Fire Chart 3B, I had to repeat them 11 to 13 times, so I had to find a way to know exactly how many times I had worked each row in each chart. Oh, by the way, the front and back look exactly alike. I did find myself moving along.
I usually use sticky notes to tell me where I am in a pattern but humidity in North Carolina made the sticky note less than reliable. Basically, Optical Delusion is done in many, many, many short row flame patterns. I learned very quickly, you do not stop in the middle of a flame. Always complete a flame before you stop. I also learned very quickly that wine and Optical Delusion are not a good combination. I also determined very soon into the knitting, this is not travel/car knitting for obvious reasons. When I got to Fire Chart 3A and 3B, I had an ingenious idea. I found a set of multicolored pens. I used a different color pen for each completed Fire Chart 3A and 3B! I not only knew exactly where I was in the chart, I knew exactly how many times I had completed the chart! It was all there in living color. Color Coding was my solution and it worked like a charm. Let me show you the story that was Optical Delusion.
I had to take a picture of Madonna (my hot mama steamer) because she is a little jealous that Lydia gets all of the attention. After all it is Madonna who makes all of my treasures go from craft to art.
Lydia does show off Madonna's and my work to the fullest. I love this scarf so much, I have decided it is mine for ever. I have a green top exactly this color, a purple top, a red top and a black top. It was meant to be. Mosaic Mania and Optical Delusion tell me my year of fearless knitting may go on for more than a year. I LOVE IT! I hope you love it, too. I must admit I have a very simple, mindless piece of knitting that I use to decompress when I need to or when I want a glass of wine. I think it is a must to those who are seriously considering Fearless Knitting. I just have one last picture of Optical Delusion to share.
Thursday was Tess's second birthday. I thought there wouldn't be a better birthday picture than Tess wearing Optical Delusion. I was right.
I love Fearless Knitting! I love the challenge, the excitement, the learning, the expectations, the problem solving. What I didn't anticipate was the massive amount of time a project that can be described as fearless takes. I have been working on something that was to be my next post. After all, how long can it take?!?!?! That was 3 weeks ago and I'm not there yet. I realized "YIKES!" I haven't written on Knitting: A Love Story in a very long time. Then I started to panic, "What am I going to write about? How am I ever going to finish this in a week?" That week has stretched into more. Then I had a thought. . .
When we had our flood Labor Day weekend, Dick and I frantically threw things into tubs and that included knitting and yarn. Just maybe there was something in one of those tubs.
I climbed my stairway to heaven to the Stash Studio to see what I could find. I took a deep breath and walked through the tubs and skeins and balls that haven't been organized in a very long time. I've got to get to that. Just when I think I've got a big chunk of time to begin work, life crawls into my chunk. I can't even tell you what a huge job I have up there! I began going through tubs and I found it. A tub full of almost finished projects and I found the perfect treasure to finish and write about. It's called Fever Dreams and I bought it from Kitterly one of the online shops I just can't say "no" to.
This was so much fun to knit and the yarn was so amazing. The yarn is from Spincycle Yarns. It is yummy to touch and the colors are amazing. It has kind of a Roy G Biv thing going on and you know how much I love rainbows. Well, are you ready for the unveil!?!?!?!?!
It's not exactly Roy G Biv. It's more like Roy G T (red, orange, yellow, green, teal). If you think this looks great, wait until you see it on Lydia.
Lydia does make everything look better. My old boss just passed away. I decided to give his widow a treasure from my treasure chest. Well, it's really a shawl from a tub but who would quibble over that. I know Barb will love this and I feel good about sharing. This is kind of becoming a tradition with me, giving a friend a piece of me when she becomes a widow. I think I like that.
Opening this tub so brightened my world, I think I will open one tub a week and see what I find. Get ready for some surprises!
We're home from our glorious 10 days at the Coastal Condo, and I was just reflecting on how different things are from the way it used to be there. "How," you think, "can this possibly have anything to do with Knitting: A Love Story?!?!" When we decided to purchase a condo after 6 years of renting the Coastal Cottage, we made a list of what we wanted. I know, I love lists and just had to make one. After much discussing, feeling a sense of community became our first priority. So really we were looking for a 3 bedroom condo on a golf course where you can see water that feels like a community. Each of our criteria eliminated properties off our list until we had only one, Sea Trail in Sunset Beach, NC.
This was one of our reasons for purchasing the condo we did. This wonderful room is perfect for reading, knitting, playing bridge and listening to nature. Almost immediately we found bridge groups, that made us both happy. Of course, Dick had already experienced the wonderful golf courses. I had discovered Knit 'N Purl as my local yarn shop. But something was missing. I still felt like a vacationer, a visitor. Then this January, I found it.
I found friends at the big knitting table at Knit 'N Purl. In past years, I've knitted at the big table in that social way that knitters love but I was a stranger. I didn't know anybody's name and nobody knew mine. I was searching for that feeling I get when I knit with Linda or Thea. I was craving that push knitting friends give to each other to buy that yarn when you don't need it, just because you love it. I was missing the conversation that goes something like: "Have you seen this pattern." "No, I haven't but it spectacular." "It looks hard, but let's try it." "Ok, why don't we knit it together." I've had that conversation hundreds of times with Linda but not with someone at Knit 'N Purl. This year it happened. I found two knitting buddies and then a third that run with me to the edge. If we don't jump, at least we peak over.
I finally got to the place at Knit 'N Purl to quote Cheers "Where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came. You want to be where you can see that troubles are all the same. You want to go where everybody knows your name." This time at the condo I heard an audible click, and things fell into place. I have a place to go to feed the yarn hunger, where staff greet me by name and remember what I was knitting the last time I was there. That would be you Molly and Martina. I have friends I look forward to seeing. Friends who encourage when you need it and discourage when appropriate. Ok, Jane and Viv and Linda, you know I'm talking about you. Thank you for helping to make a condo a home.
We have had a glorious week at the Coastal Condo except for my Spartans getting beat in the Final Four. Dick and I have gone to many Final Fours but this year we decided to celebrate in peace and quiet at our favorite home away from home. Well, to be honest, I'm not too sad. After all we beat Michigan 3 times AND beat Duke to get into the Final Four. I have been very busy here knitting for a very special person. Michelle is a knitter at Ann's By Design. Two years ago she taught herself to knit and there has been no stopping her. She is a regular at the round table of social knitting on Fridays. In the fall, Michelle told us she was pregnant and due in March. March seemed like such a long time into the future. When we were at the Coastal Condo in January, I decided I needed to find the perfect yarn for a baby cocoon. This is what It found.
I fell in love with the yarn then found the pattern for the cocoon.
Then I fell in love with it more and decided to do a headband.
Then I fell in love with it even more and decided to design a baby blanket. My last trip to Knit 'N Purl in January was to purchase enough of the Comfort and Baby Bamboo to make a baby blanket. I got the Comfort but they didn't have enough Baby Bamboo AND IT WAS A DISCONTINUED COLOR!!!!!! Martina came to the rescue. She said she would go through her distributor to see what other shops had purchased that color and maybe she could find enough. We left the Coastal Condo, winter started and I decided to finish Mosaic Mania. I forgot all about the Baby Bamboo and the beautiful blanket I was going to make for Baby Rose. One day a package came. I wasn't expecting anything but there is such a thing as backorder. I looked at the address; it was definitely a yarn shop but not one I'd ever heard of. I was flummoxed to say the least. I opened the package and there was Baby Bamboo. Out of the blue, Baby Bamboo. Remember how much I love literation and rhyming? I really did get side tracked from Baby Rose's gifts. There was Mosaic Mania and the Dissent Cowl. But Michelle wasn't due until March. All of a sudden, it was March and Michelle was having a baby. I decided I better get to work. We had an impromptu baby shower the first time Michelle and Rose were able to come in. What a great surprise! The blanket wasn't finished but the headband and cocoon were. On the way down I pretty much finished the baby blanket. After we were at the Coast I hid the ends. And this is what it looked like.
I started in the corner with five stitches and added one stitch on each side every other row. The pattern is a simple mosaic: 2 rows of baby bamboo in garter stitch, 4 rows in Comfort with K 3 SL1 across. When it was as wide as I wanted I began to decrease 1 on the left side every other row. When it was as long as I wanted I decreased 1 on both sides every other row. When I was finished I decided I wanted fufu around the edge and the remedy was to pick up stitches around the edge then bind off in picot bind off. Wait! What if I got my stitches picked up and bound off only to discover I had too few stitches and it pulled or too many stitches and it bunched?!?!?!?! I love to create my own solution to knitting puzzles. I also was concerned that one small ball of Baby Bamboo wouldn't finished the picot bind off and I'd have to add another ball. A join on the edge of the blanket wouldn't be a good thing. My solution was: I picked up stitches along one edge, attached another ball and did the picot band off. After I was done, I spread the blanket out to see how the stitches looked. To quote the three bears, "They were just right." I counted the stitches and went onto the next side. I picked up stitches, did picot bind off and checked how it looked. Now I knew exactly how many stitches I needed to pick up on the other two sides. WaLa!
Now that my gift giving knitting is done, I can go back to my Fearless Knitting. Wait until you see what I have been working on! I can't wait to see Baby Rose tucked in her cocoon, wrapped in her blanket with her headband.
I think of myself as a strong woman. I grew into womanhood reading Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Erika Jong and many more. I love women who go where no woman has ever gone, who use our unique leadership style and break the glass ceiling. I've written before about my friend Toni (may she rest in peace) who was the strongest woman I have ever known. It seemed only right to celebrate strong women by knitting an object honoring one of our strongest women, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
I found this pattern (probably on Pinterest) and immediately fell in love. It honors RBG and her famous Dissent Collar. To quote the pattern designer Carissa Browning, "This top-down cowl was inspired by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's famous (and infamous) collar, worn when she dissents from a decision by the Supreme Court." There are also Dissent Pins. Their blurb says "The standard Robe is made for a man because it has a place for a shirt to show and a tie, so Sandra Day O'Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we include as part of our robe something typical of a woman." I love it.
After I found the Dissent Cowl, I decided I not only needed to knit it, I needed to develop a class for Ann's By Design. I want our ABD knitters to celebrate strong women and honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I began searching the yarn at ABD for the perfect yarn. The pattern calls for DK and I really didn't see anything I thought was perfect, something that would adequately honor the Dissent Cowl and RBG. I did find Happy Feet Sock Yarn but it was way too light a fiber to knit to gage. I didn't want the Dissent Cowl to be a doll or pixie accessory, so I began to plot. Somewhere in a knitting class I learned how to combine light yarn to create heavier yarns. Finally, I found it. Two strands of sock yarn may knit to DK gage if you are lucky. I think I would call this a "Yarn Hack." I took my 2 strands of sock, combined it with Cascade 220 Superwash which is a lite worsted and set off to see if it would work. After experimenting with different needles, I GOT GAGE! That sounded a lot like YOU'VE GOT MAIL. What I did perfectly exemplifies "knabbling" which is my word for dabbling in knitting. But to move on to the actual product of my plotting and knabbling, TA-DA, here it is.
Notice the top of this cowl. After that notice how perfect my double strand of Happy Feet works as a DK. Now watch this.
The polka dotty top folds down inside to form a lining. Genius! You never see the wrong side of the kitting. I love that. When I wear this, I will think of all of the strong women I admire who led the way for me and hope I am in my own way doing it right.
Knitting: A Love Story is five years old! It's lasted longer than some marriages.
Because this is my Year of Fearless Knitting, year 6 is going to be the best ever.
I will end with the very first words I wrote on March 20, 2014. "My heart races with excitement at the thought of it. I catch myself thinking about it through out the day. When I think about it I smile, Even when it's boring, even when It's hard, I can't imagine not having knitting in my life. If that's not love I don't know what is."
Here's to a fearless sixth year.
If I'm here, you know that Mosaic Mania has been finished. It is ready to unveil to the world. As I was closing up shop (so to speak), a couple of things popped into my mind: 1) If Mosaic Mania just zoomed to the top of my favorite things, what other knitting projects would be there and 2) what besides knitting are a few of my favorite things? Here we go! I think I tackled question #2 first.
This picture shows three of my favorite things: knitting, books and the Detroit Red Wings. It really isn't just knitting, it is everything that has to do with knitting, fiber, accessories, steaming. I love it all. Now here we go. In addition to all things knitting, books and the Detroit Red Wings, I love my Spartans, bridge, earrings, playing with colors, Miss Tess and cooking and making up recipes. I try to get as many of my favorite things in to each day as I can. A couple of years ago golf would have been right at the top of the list, but an angry back made that impossible. There you go! Now let's get on to Mosaic Mania.
This is really Part 2 of the post from January 21 called The Fearless Knitting Begins. I won't repeat the description or the fabulous tips I gave. If you need to refresh your memory of the amazing Mosaic Mania pattern, just look back. I reread that and it got me excited all over again. Finishing something I've fallen in love with produces very ambivalent feelings with the contrasting feelings being very strong. I felt excited and sad, proud and empty, exhilarated and drained. I do know from past experience my next knitting won't be quite as satisfying or special when juxtaposed to Mosaic Mania. Let's see some more pictures of my Marvelous Mosaic Mania.
Lydia and Madonna make everything I knit look more beautiful. Madonna takes it from craft to art and Lydia shows it off.
That is the complete amazing, gorgeous, over the top, I can't believe how beautiful, knock your socks off Mosaic Mania and me the very proud Mama. Now let's look at the four other treasures that are in my "Top Five All Time Favorites."
Who was I trying to kid! I started going through my pictures and kept saying "in the top 5, in the top 5, in the top 5" until the top 5 became 9. There could have been more, but I stopped. Notice anything about these treasures? They are all multicolored. Not a one color item to be found. I wonder how many 1 color items I have actually knit. Then also, all most every one has black or grey as part. I guess I am pretty predictable. Is it possible to be predictable and surprising at the same time?
I must say this treasure and this post have put me in a very happy, upbeat, exhilarated mood. That's just what color does for me. Now on to find my next Fearless Knitting.
Where have 14 days gone? I sort of have this commitment in my head that I must update "Knitting: A Love Story" every week. When I first started and I was very geeked, I wrote twice a week. How did I do that ??? When I finished the post on Secrets and Storms, I began finishing my next piece of fearless knitting. I love it so much!!! I love it so much that when it is finally done (Madonna and Lydia need to do their magic), I will include it in my top 10 treasures and write about all. What has happened is that I have hit "Steamer's Block." It is like Writer's Block but is has to do with, well, steaming. For the past 5 days I have said, "I will steam it tomorrow and post it on Knitting: A Love Story." All I can say is. . .
. . .it is magical and wonderful and it will be worth the wait. At least I hope you think so. Until this masterpiece is finished. . .
. . . I leave you with my last masterpiece. It doesn't compare to the Sistine Chapel, but in my mind it is Jan's equivalent.
This is very exciting! Last night I released my first piece of fearless knitting from the steaming board and the 2019 Year Of Fearless Knitting has begun! The process for this project has been creative, serendipitous and completely, well, fearless. It has been everything I could ever hope for in a knitting project. It challenged my sense of color, my sense of style and my problem solving abilities. Let's go back to the beginning.
I started out buying Concept Silky Lace (a discontinued yarn I got for 1/2 price at Knit 'N Purl) in an amazing plum color and Queensland Urulu in an equally amazing variegated on separate trips to Knit 'N Purl with no thought of putting them together. Then I did this. . .
While playing around with my Knit 'N Purl discoveries, I discovered that Urulu and Silky Lace looked perfect together. I just had to find the perfect pattern to showcase this amazing combination. (I just realized that I may use "amazing" a little too much but sometimes things are just AMAZING!) After discarding many patterns for various reasons, I settled on Secrets and Storms.
It had everything I needed to make this Fearless Knitting. I substituted yarn weight, changed the pattern a bit, had to keep track of the number of stitches on every row AND it had a stitch I had never tried. The stitch was called the Aster Stitch and as the name implies, it looks like a little flower.
Aren't they adorable! Did you notice I didn't say amazing!?!?!? The only thing I didn’t like about the pattern was that you start with 3 stitches and end up with 219. When you are excited and enthusiastic you have short little rows that seems to fly by. When you are starting to get bored and wishing it would be finished the rows take a very long time. But it was Fearless. Now let me show you the finished scarf modeled by the amazing (sorry but there is no other word) Lydia, my mannequin.
The Lydia color is more accurate than the bottom picture. (OMG! I just had a brainstorm! After all of the years of ok pictures on Knitting: A Love Story, I think I need to take an Apple photography class. Why didn't I realize this years ago!) Even though steaming is not my favorite phase of the knitting process, there is something very satisfying about pinning your piece, steaming it then watching it magically turn into a piece of professional knitting
I have decided to teach a class at Ann's By Design using Secrets and Storms. There are so many things to learn. During this class participants will learn about: 1) yarn substitution and appropriate substitutions for Secrets and Storms; 2) changing a pattern; 3) 2 ways to keep track of stitch count on Secrets and Storms; 4) the Aster Stitch; and 5) hiding ends as you go. I have decided I am going to borrow from Knitter's Stash (love that book) and always have tips along with every class. Just think, it may be a book in the making.
As you can tell my first Fearless Knitting project has gotten me geeked for the next. On to Mosaic Mania!
I've been texting with my new knitting buddies from the Myrtle Beach area, Viv and Jane. I love it. Jane has started reading Knitting: A Love Story from the beginning. I was so honored when she started and then something else happened. By Jane reading KALS from the beginning, I began reliving the stories. It was amazing. What a joy! Jane got to the post about The Jan Bag and was interested in the pattern. That encouraged me to pull out one of my very favorite knitting books. Knitter's Stash: Favorite Patterns From America's Yarn Shops.
How many of you have this magnificent book? Let me tell you how I discovered Knitter's Stash. Seventeen years ago, Linda and I went on a Yarn Tour to the northern suburbs of Detroit. This area was one of our favorite to cruise LYS. If Linda still lived in Michigan, it would still be one of our favorite areas. We regularly made the 2 hour trip making a day of it. Our favorite (all though at different times depending on what we just purchased, they were all our favorites) was Crafty Lady in Macomb which has become Crafty Lady Trio since Jan the owner retired. We always left early, often had breakfast at Barry's Bagel in Ann Arbor and usually arrived just after the shop opened. On this particular day, like steel to a magnate, my eyes were drawn to an amazing felted bag. I knew I had to make it. That bag was My Constant Companion by Janet Scanlon and it was part of the fabulous Knitter's Stash. Let me reshow a few of the Jan bags.
This is the first Jan Bag. It wasn't even a Jan Bag then. My friend Amy gave it that name. I learned a lot from this. Kureyon is definitely the best yarn to use. Don't do the funky, knot button. It doesn't hold. I also made up my own technique to pick up stitches from the bottom of the bag.
Remember the Jan Bag? That is Amy and Jan Bags aren't just for knitters. They are wonderful carry-on bags for airplane flights. I've made many and given most away. I love them. My Constant Companion may have introduced me to Knitter's Stash but that isn't the reason I love it. Knitter's Stash has a copywrite date of 2001 but I just bought one before Christmas so they are still available. Knitter's Stash is a celebration of the Local Yarn Shop. There are 33 projects featured in Knitter's Stash from LYS all over the country. The introduction describes a LYS better than anything I've ever read. "Your local yarn shop. Maybe it's just down the street, maybe it's only in your mind. It's a magical, colorful home away from home where you can go to touch, to scheme, to dream. There you find friends who share your obsession, who speak the secret language of K1 P2, who understand your need to stash. There you find yarn and more yarn, patterns to make your fingers itch, possibilities that make your pocketbook cry uncle." That says it all.
After that beautiful introduction comes the 33 projects. Each section has a little story about the LYS who submitted the project, a pattern with complete explanation, pictures and diagrams and tips to make your knitting better. Knitter's Stash reminded me what I miss when purchasing single patterns online. It is the story each book provides in addition to the patterns. It is the feeling of actually knowing the writer when you have read through the book. It is the love, pride and creativity that comes from a designer putting together many pieces of their heart (thank you Janis Joplin for that beautiful phrase) and giving you the gift of themselves.
When I first opened Knitter's Stash, I discovered the yarn shop honor roll, the 85 LYS who submitted projects to be included in Knitter's Stash.. Unfortunately, only 33 could be chosen. I would have liked to not only see all of the projects but hear the stories about each LYS. In the honor roll, I found several shops I had visited many times with Linda. Ewe-Nique Knits in Royal Oak, MI actually had a project in Knitter's Stash. Crafty Lady in Macomb, The Knitting Room in Birmingham, Earth Guild in Asheville NC, La Lana Wools in Taos NM, Rochelle Imber's Knit, Knit, Knit in West Bloomfield, Threadbender Yarn Shop in Wyoming MI, and The Yarn Shop in Glen Arbor MI. As I read through the 85 shops, I wished I had discovered more. The Constant Companion was submitted by My Yarn Shop in Coos Bay OR.
As I was reading through Knitter's Stash Monday, I reread the tips and was pleased and surprised to see how much a Knitter's Stash improved my knitting. That is what a pattern should do. Over the next few months I will share tips from Knitter's Stash in Knitting: A Love Story. The first you will recognize as something I have incorporated into my knitting techniques. This is from Yarn Haven. "Knit the first three rows of your gage swatch in garter stitch, as well as the first three stitches on either side. It keeps the knitting from rolling and makes it easier to measure your swatch for true gage." For seventeen years, I have been using this technique and until I read this I'd forgotten where I picked it up.
Knitter's Stash is still available for purchase. If you want to reminisce about what knitting books used to be like, pick up a copy and "Take A Walk Down Memory Lane."
This blog is dedicated to Mary Helen Growt my first knitting teacher and the woman who changed my life. The mission of Knitting: A Love Story is to preserve, share and promote the love of knitting.