Friday Truths

Friday Truths

They say the first thing to go is your mind… and apparently, mine is well on its way.

Truth #1:

Yesterday, I confessed to being 57. However, as Steve so kindly reminded me yesterday:

Okay but, really – how the hell do you forget your own age. Well, because I do not have any issues admitting when I make mistakes – it is true, I am only 56. And, I really feel so much younger today because of it! LOL

Truth #2:

After a week of temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s – winter has decided to return…albeit gently which is greatly appreciated.

Truth #3:

My chives are very confused as to what season it is! (as are all the singing birds!)

This was taken this morning…

Truth #4:

I am so insanely glad that it is Friday – it seems like this has been the longest week ever – the cocktail hour cannot get here fast enough! I am thinking Margarita’s today to toast President Peña Nieto – that is if I can convince Steve to make them!

Truth #5:

Next week clue numero uno of Kirsten Kapur’s Sock MKAL arrives (on Wednesday, in case you still want to join in!!) My yarn is ready and I am eager to begin. Yarn choice? Deep stash diving (see above!) I am not sure who the brown yarn is from, but the lovely golden-yellow is some very vintage Kim Kaslow aka The Woolen Rabbit sock yarn in the Tupelo Honey colorway. Now, are you wondering how I can remember that tidbit but not my age – I am giving you some real insight into what is important in my life – yarn is obviously taking up LOTS of brain space! Haha!

Truth #6:

The LINKS are back! The LINKS! The LINKS!

That is all I have for this week – have a truth-filled weekend and I will see you back here on Monday!

Filling the Creative Well

Filling the Creative Well

“You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Last year I had high hopes of creating these incredible stitching projects – yet when it came right down to it, I was my own worst enemy. I did not like what I was creating. I had high expectations and, sadly, my own critique was just as high. I spent more time removing the previous days stitching and my internal criticism soon shut down any creativity and the stitching went in its box and was not opened again.

Enter 2017.

This year I decided on a new approach – I am giving myself permission to fail. Seems simple, but trust me it has not been. There have been many days that my stitching did not seem right. But, I ignored that voice and left the stitching in the piece. Sometimes the next day, the previous day’s stitches seemed a bit better to me, and sometimes they did not – but over the course of days and after adding more stitches something incredible began to happen. This awkward stitches now seem to fit. Or maybe that small quiet voice of creativity is gaining confidence and my “creative eye” is figuring out how to – well, be creative!

I have gotten many questions on Instagram about how I am doing this and what am I using. It is a challenge to give all the information there, so I thought it would be nice to share it here. I am not accomplished in stitchery – I have done some counted cross-stitch, and some quilting – neither of which were ever “free form.”

My inspiration came from Bonnie Sennott – who stitched last year and shared via Instagram. She is stitching again this year, but now is only sharing via a Patreon account if you want access to see her work. I was also greatly inspired by the Slow Stitch book by Claire Wellesley-Smith – and really, reading this book was the GREATEST inspiration. It has been out a while now – and I would check with your local library, but I recommend this book as an excellent addition to your library!

So, what am I using to my stitch work – really, the simplest of things. I got my fabric from Joann’s – it is linen (I got a remnant which I washed in the washing machine and then air dried) I divided this remnant into three sections – I will get more linen when I need it.

I have several embroidery hoops, but the one I like best for my daily stitching is a small 5″ hoop. The goal is to not stitch all day, but rather spend a few minutes each day and this small hoop keeps me mindful of that.

Now, let’s talk about thread – could you use embroidery floss? Yes, you absolutely can – you can use whatever you’d like! I am using DMC Perle Cotton size 12 – which I also got at Joann’s. The color choices are extremely limited in stores, but they have good basic colors – white, ecru, black, red, darker red, and navy. I had in my “stash” some Valdani threads – I do not remember where I got them but, as Mary shared with me, Amazon has a good selection and at very good prices! The Loopy Ewe is also carrying some Perle Cotton in size 8 and Valdani threads as well. As the season’s change, I will be adding in more colors.

I have a local stitching shop – but they are mainly focused on needlepoint and cross-stitch, however I have picked up a few bits of thread from them – they range in sizes from slightly smaller to slightly larger diameter than the Perle Cotton but I like that diversity in the stitching.

Needles – I am using DMC Chenille needles in size 22 and 24 depending on the thread I am using. I find a needle threader extremely useful as well.

Stitching has become something I look forward to each day and I will be sharing my journey as the year progresses.

I hope you find this helpful – here is to a year of un-stifled creativity!

In which we give thanks for wool

In which we give thanks for wool

When winter arrives in Pittsburgh, it arrives with a vengeance. I was greeted this morning with the stellar temperature of 8 whole degrees. (although they are forecasting for it to be well into the 50’s by next Thursday so this cold will be short-lived – which is just insanely crazy and if I was not already coming down with something, you know I would by this time next week!)

But, when it gets this cold – I am so thankful for wool! And, as my slippers from last year have a hole in one heel and I have not tried to darn/mend it yet – I cast on a new pair of my “go to” slipper yesterday. I have one done and am onto the second – it should be done shortly and my feet will be so happy.

Once that slipper is done, I will be working on swatching for a sweater. I have some incredible CVM yarn from Sheepspot and this will be something work related (I mean really, how great is it having a job that requires you to knit!!) Anyways, I have two sweater ideas that I think might work for this yarn – the first is a simple cardigan from Yellowcosmo and the second is Kathleen Dames latest knit along sweater – Basic Cable. I will be swatching for both this afternoon and we will see which swatch wins! Either way, you will find an article about my swatching journey later this month on the Sheepspot blog.

Last month, Caffeine Girl Creates asked me about the size of my Peace Cowl and I wanted to share with all of you my thoughts on how the finished cowl wears. My cowl ended up 8″ x 68″ – so it is BIG! I went up a needle size because my handspun was a bit thicker than fingering weight and I did not want a dense, heavy fabric. Would I want this cowl this big if I were knitting it out of a worsted spun yarn? No, I do not think I would, so I might reduce it a few inches, however in my woolen spun Columbia, I simply LOVE it! It is light but so incredibly warm! I put it on yesterday morning and I wore it all day long. For not having a project in mind when I spun the fiber up, I’d say this was an excellent match of yarn and pattern!

I have some Dorset Down handspun that I was trying to use in another project which has been languishing on the needles as it is not a good match for a couple of reasons – my spinning was not very uniform and I am not sure I have enough yardage to complete the project. However, I think it might work well in the Peace Cowl pattern, so you can look for that to be repurposed in the coming month as well.

Now how about some links?

Tomorrow is Saint Distaff’s Day! So, if you have not used your spinning wheel in the New Year (or in a while…) this is the perfect opportunity to do so!

I am completely smitten with Selbu Norway. (And Selbu Mittens too!)

The OA and The Oa – I love them both!

Field Guide No. 2 is coming!

Water

Alien Trail

If 2017 is your year to try double knitting the Om Shanti Cowl is the perfect little project!

I love these Night Creatures Mittens!

That is all I have for this first week in January – I am off to have a bit of hot tea and to finish those slippers! See you back here on Monday!

Doing Something!

Doing Something!

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. – Neil Gaiman

When I look back on my goals for 2016, I had some winners and I also had some losers:

My goal to stitch daily fell by the wayside and a large part of why it did was because I did not give myself permission to make mistakes. I wanted my stitching to be perfect without acknowledging that this is a new craft and as with all new things – there is a learning curve, and making mistakes is part of that process. It is certainly true that I am my own worst enemy with my inner drive for perfection – and if it can’t be perfect, then I won’t do it. But, this year I am going to work on that and give myself permission to make mistakes, to learn, to make new things, to push myself, and GROW! I will also move beyond my desire to only present what is perfect and share the process – mistakes and all.

Thanks to Honoré, I spent some time at the end of 2016 rethinking my daily schedule/routine. I have reworked it allowing for a few moments each day to learn something new about stitching and to implement what I have learned. As the year progresses, I will have a collage of stitches that will reflect a daily snapshot similar to Bonnie Sennott’s journey and by this time next year, I will have completed a grand stitching journey where, I am hoping, there is visible growth and immense pride in my mistakes and accomplishments!

Organization also got left behind in the dust of “doing other things” – I blocked out Marie Kondo’s calls to focus and I am paying for that in spades as 2017 starts. Again, Neil Gaiman gives a gentle invitation to live, to push myself, and to change myself – and this is an invite I am going to embrace wholeheartedly!

2017 will be my year for being more organized in so many things. But, one main organization task will be to give some semblance of order to my digital and physical photos. This is something I have procrastinated about far too long and I am ready to get to work on this!

I want to continue in my desire to weigh less and to move more! I did well in 2016, but I still have a long journey to go – and after basking in Holiday Cheer for a good portion of December – this month I will focus on getting back on track.

I also want to use more of my handspun yarn, so this will mean doing more intentional spinning. I look forward to spending time sampling and planning for projects rather than just spinning with no plan in mind!

Finally, I set a challenging reading goal for this year and I look forward to working through my “want to read list” as I hope to exceed my goal!

Here is to a year of pushing myself, changing myself, changing my world, and doing things!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas Knitting, still?

Christmas Knitting, still?

I hope not. I have a few more inches of Christmas Knitting to complete, but the end is in sight and it will be done later today.

That is a good thing because I am ready to do some deadline free knitting.

Well, sort of…

There are some KAL’s coming in January and February that could be fun:

Last year I did 12 Days of Casting on with the now closed Natural Stitches, but I am not aware of any group doing this during the 12 Days of Christmas (there is a group that started before Christmas which was bad planning IMO) But, if you are interested in 12 Days of Casting on – rules are simple, cast on one new project every day from Boxing Day to Epiphany. End result – 12 items for your knitter’s gift basket… Or perhaps 12 items to jump-start your 2017 FO list… The goal is not in the completion, but rather the casting on. Last year, I cast on multiple mitts and a cowl or two and had things to gift most of the year. If you need some ideas – Gale’s Trip Mitts are super fun and a fast knit!

Now on to the KAL’s:

Kathleen Dames is leading a KAL for An Aran For Frederick. If you want to knit a sweater, or you want to knit cables – this is for you!

If your sock drawer is lacking, here are two quick MKAL options for a couple of pairs of socks in the first quarter!!

1 – MKAL – Kotukutuku Solid Sock’s – 1 clue a week beginning January 1st

2 – MKAL – On January 1st Kirsten Kapur will announce her winter MKAL Sock knit along. Knitting will begin February 1st – you can sign up for her newsletter here.

Need to ramp up your shawl wardrobe? Winter’s Whisper might be what you are looking for and this is free until the MKAL begins on February 1st.

Are you looking for a challenge? Want to learn something new? You can join Louise Tilbrook in her January Brioche Challenge!

And, last – although this is not an official KAL – I would like to invite you to join Juliann and me as we knit Thea Coleman’s Rob Roy together in a mini-KAL. Who does not need another hat? And, if you don’t – you could always add it to your gift knitting for next year!

And, finally – I would like to wish all of you a most blessed holiday weekend. See you back here on Monday!

P.S. A huge thanks to my friend Karen for her assistance with some of this linky goodness!

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