That awkward moment…

I see these “awkward moment” statuses on my Facebook feed and I find them amusing, mostly.

Today, I had one myself. Here’s my awkward moment…when you finally find (and buy) the yarn you wanted for the pattern you bought last summer, and you finally have time to get going on the project…but you can’t locate the pattern, and even worse, you’re not sure if you’ll recognize it when you find it. It could have been Minimalist Cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum

simple knit cardigan with seed stitch trimmed in stockinette for the front band forming the collar


or this..


or this


And before you know it, there are a dozen new ideas for that yarn! Should have called this post, why I need to clean out my knitting/shopping bags more often.

Hope you are finding plenty of wonderful projects to start and a few to finish, too!


Knitting and waiting, in the meantime

Today, after I visit an “end of summer yarn sale” at my LYS, I’ll be heading to the hospital. My 82 y.o. mother fell this week for the second time in 9 months. Luckily, she didn’t break any bones or hurt herself in any serious way. She’s weak, though, and her arthritis is causing her to suffer, so getting her pain under control has been a priority. This afternoon, if all goes to plan, we’ll be moving her to a skilled care/rehab facility.  After that, she’ll want to return home, and we’ll have to see if that’s feasible.

Times like these are when knitting and spinning give me comfort and focus. I’ve had my knitting with me, as well as my little drop spindle with the beautiful green fiber, (BFL if you must know.)  Without something to do while we’ve waited for everything, (and there’s a lot of waiting in a hospital visit) I’d get more worried and it would seem like an eternity. Instead, I can focus on my handwork and calm my mind. Decidedly, this keeps me from acting like a lunatic when something doesn’t go well. I’m sure the staff would kiss my yarn, if only they  knew!

Too bad the hospital had to close the yarn shop when the economy tanked. With what the nursing  staff does day in and day out, and all the cranky people they help, I should teach them how to knit or spin on their breaks!

So for now, that’s it from me. I’m off to score some sale yarn, load up some endorphins, and make that move with Mom. Wish me luck!

I should have gone to the UFO lock in!

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I don’t know about you, but I have a few pieces that are minutes away from “finished”. UFO= un-finished object in knitting world. That Vesper sweater for the summer (check and sew the pleats), Allie’s birthday bag (attach i-cord and magnetic fastener), and that sock where I’m going to fix the toe. Probably something else in this category that I’ll find when I’m looking for stuff.

In short, I need a finishing session. Since I’m heading to Stitches Midwest 2012 in Chicago next week, I could use the space in my knitting bags, and a place or two on the project queue for any irresistible, exciting and breath-taking pieces which might inspire me! I should have gone to the UFO lock in!

While I was in Virgina I visited a cool shop, Nature’s Yarns. When I walked in, I was greeted immediately and invited to sit with my knitting since I explained I was a visitor. My sis and I had fun looking at all the pretty yarns, yarn tasting in goblets on the table, samples and other goodies. My sis had purchased some silk caps and an art batt for me at this shop about a year prior, so I was glad to see the spinning supplies. I met a fellow spindle fan, Susi (waves!) who is one of the instructors at the shop. As we browsed and chatted, the place was a beehive of activity. I felt very welcomed, and was so excited to “find my people”!

So, as I was having my yarn wound for a new cowl project, I noticed a flyer for an event at the shop. It caught my attention, because these people were getting ready for their “very first UFO (Unfinished Object) Lock-In evening!” including a potluck, and instructors to help with questions. What a fun idea and a great way to push through those finishing details that trip us up.

Makes me wish I’d be back in Northern Virginia to join them on Saturday. They say space is very limited, so call ahead if you’ve a mind to go.

Meantime, I’ll be rounding up my UFO’s and making a plan! Anyone up for a SE Michigan version?

Where have I been?


two women seated at spinning wheels listening to woman instructing at front of room. Shelves of raw fleece line the wall behind them. All are smiling.
Oh my! It’s been so long since I posted.
And I have so much to share, I hardly know where to start.
Between those unexpected “life” moments, and the beginning of summer weather, I’ve been out and about every day instead of writing. I’ve traveled, knitted, spun, fretted over family members, solved problems, held hands, wiped tears, given hugs, been to the beach (twice) and tried to stay cool.
Plus, in late spring, I had my whole fiber thinking process challenged in a great way by Abby Franquemont. I will never be the same…more on that later. By the time I came up for air, summer was in full swing. I suppose it’s part of our life cycle in this Michigan climate. When spring arrives, we jump at the chance to get outside and do stuff while we can.
So now, I’m jumping back for a quick visit in between summer adventures. Got some spinning and catch up time with friends planned this week. Will upload photos of the great places I’ve been this month. Look for a page for LYS around the country which I love to visit in my travels. “Local” yarn shops in the sense of wherever I’m resting my head at the moment! It’s so fun to go places and “find my people”…people who speak gauge, stash, spindle, breeds, patterns, texture, cast on, frog, social knitting, and a bag for every project! One day, I should post my bags, and the work in progress. I have been doing my share, no fear.

What’s in your bag? Post your project (and bags) as I’d love to see what you’re making!


“Tropical” Island Retreat

Poe Reef Light with SailThere’s an island in my heart where I love to go. I’d been inhaling the fresh air in my imagination ever since my visit last fall. I could hardly wait to return. I knew I’d see the trees sway, and the crystal water shimmer and hear the birds calling. We’d take the ferry ride to the landing and drive down the dirt road to our secluded destination. And be greeted there as if we were family. A little slice of paradise has become a home away from home. And this time, we were in for a surprise. Let me explain…

In the Straits of Mackinaw

Located to the southeast of its better known cousin, Mackinaw Island, our destination was the beautiful Bois Blanc Island in the Great Lakes. Part of the Mackinaw State Forest, mostly undeveloped Bois Blanc Island has one restaurant/general store, one tavern, private residences and a handful of places offering lodging. We were headed to the island’s only Bed & Breakfast, Insel Haus, for a weekend  knitting retreat organized by Heritage Spinning and Weaving.

Fourteen knitting affectionados had the run of the place for three days. Our gracious hostess, Christa Newhouse, provided instruction and access to her knitting patterns to all takers. So we knitted. We talked. We ate. We laughed. We spun and plied yarns. We ate more. Watched the hummingbirds and waited for deer. Enjoyed our beautiful surroundings and the company of like minded spirits.

We had beautiful weather with clear blue skies and the fresh cool breezes I’d been imagining. And then, Sunday. Hot. Humid. No breeze. None. We’d been transported to the Doldrums. Out came the fans, and the vats of cold drinks. Off with the sweatshirts and sweaters. Ninety-one degrees F!

Wow! Bois Blanc, in northern Michigan, gone (temporarily) tropical! An island of surprises in my heart.

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He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. Ps. 23

The Knitter’s case for public transportation–in art

Interior of an English "coach", a luxury bus between cities in the mid 20th century. 3 rows of seats, each with a passenger. In the middle row, a woman wearing a head scarf is knitting away.

Felixstow to Ipswich Coach

Stitches in my finger and typing, not so great combo

Hey, just in case you were wondering, I haven’t posted this week (yet) for a couple of reasons. First, I was goofing off on a knitting retreat last weekend. And second, when I got home, I had minor surgery on my left “long” finger to remove an old blood blister. Darn thing wouldn’t go away and was in the crease of my finger joint where I hold my knitting needles. Luckily it was an easy fix and I have some very lovely knots under my band-aid. My typing has suffered along with my knitting for a couple of days. Never fear, I have my drop spindle and a good supply of wool to keep me company, along with a good book or two. It won’t slow me down for long. I might even get the photos from the weekend uploaded today.
Meantime, have a wonderful holiday weekend. Stay safe and cool. And remember those who serve(d) our country!

Who’s Irma? Ten knitters, ten stockings, ten unique creations

Two colorful Christmas stockings in greens, white and red, knitted with four different patterns, starting at the cuff, and separated by knitted braids. Heels and toes knitted in red. One says Noel with Green fir trees above. The other has a band of holly and a band of people.

In the Ethnic Socks workshop, two wonderful teachers, Mary Germain and Sandy deMaster, introduced us to traditions, methods and patterns of two-stranded knitting inspired by the socks made by Irma Mezeraups Ciganovich, a Latvian knitter. Irma’s socks and others knitted by our instructors practically danced through our hands as we heard about skills and beliefs of the Latvian knitters. Before we knew it, we had opened our materials, grabbed our yarn and started to make the first of many design decisions for our own stockings.

As we worked over the next two days, we learned knitted items in these villages reflected the beliefs, skill and industry of their people. How pattern covered every visible inch for fear of empty space. And colorful costly dyed yarns indicated the prosperity of the wearer and their family. Through the stories, we knit and considered our own choices of pattern and color. Making Irma proud, we hope. Ten knitters, ten stockings, ten unique creations.

For more about Ethnic Socks and Irma’s story, check out these two articles; “Messages in Mittens: The Story of a Latvian Knitter” by Sandra Messinger De Master and “Irma’s Christmas Stocking” by Mary Germain in Knitting Traditions, Fall 2011

Becoming Intrepid

class workbook with sample stockings and a just-started stocking on double pointed knitting needles using white, red and blue yarns.Even though I’ve called this blog and by extension, myself, The Intrepid Knitter, I wonder if the title fits. Intrepid conveys a certain bold fearlessness, and while I go forth with new projects and techniques like a kid in a candy shop, I can find myself in a sort of “knitter’s remorse”. Case in point, I signed up for the Ethnic Sock weekend because I hoped it would be fun, I would try something different and a weekend away would do me good. Even so, as I was packing, my thoughts stuck on a certain line in the class description.The little part of me which wants to follow all the rules, get everything right and be pleasing started to obsess:

You must know how to knit circularly with double-pointed needles and have two-color knitting experience.

The “circularly with double-pointed needles” part was okay. I’ve done it and like having 3 or 4 needles sticking out every which way. It looks pretty cool. Yeah, that part was fine.

What gave me pause was the little phrase “two-color knitting experience”. Did I really have any? or enough? Did that two-color Norwegian Sport hat which I “frogged” (“rip-it, rip-it” out) because it was going to fit some guy named Gulliver, and not my son for whom it was intended…did that count? What about the legendary Bi-color Cabled Brioche* hat? Surely, since it was bi-color which means, well, two colors, it would qualify. But, I was pretty sure the type of two-color knitting called for in our stockings was would be more like the hat I ripped out. There I was setting off to spend two days doing some pretty fancy two color knitting! Really?

Just when I was ready to bag the whole idea, I asked myself what was it? What was I afraid would go wrong, because this had to be about more than a couple of strands of yarn and some sticks. And there it was. The real worry sprang right to mind. Not that I wouldn’t be able to do the project (although that was a possibility.) Not that I would make mistakes (not too fond of that either). Really, I feared might be in over my head and too slow or far behind the rest of the class. I didn’t want to cause a “problem”.

As you might surmise, I can be my own worst enemy. I have learned to question these worries of mine. I make myself get realistic and consider how I’d treat a friend who was having these doubts. And I came up with “plan B” for the worst case workshop scenario. I packed my spinning, my knitting and a notebook, so if I wanted to bail on the class, I could do something else. After all, I was going to be spending a couple of days in a yarn shop located in a big barn with comfy chairs, access to food and drink, tons of colorful yarns and fiber in plain sight, a fabulous collection of inspiring books, plus llamas and alpacas and big friendly dogs, and best of all, a group of knitters who would support and encourage, no matter what.

So, bright and early on Saturday morning, I sat down, took up my needles, introduced myself and began my first two-color stranded stocking. Step by step, and stitch by stitch. Laughed and talked. And made mistakes. And ripped them out. And asked questions. And got help. And learned. Boldly or timidly, with or without worry, I created that stocking! Because for me, becoming intrepid is not about doing things without fear. My intrepid-ness comes from facing my fear, and going forward in spite of it.
Green toe and heel, red and white patterns in three different combinations, and green, white and red cuff bordered with a green and white braid.

*Ed. Note: Someday, they assure us, the Intrepid Knitter will be able to tell the story of her Bi-Color Cabled Brioche Hat. Just not yet. (The hair is still growing back in that little spot.)

Packing for the road trip?

Sign hanging at the driveway to the farm with llamas feeding in the distanceThis weekend, I am heading to Pendleton, Indiana, for a workshop about “Ethnic Socks” at the Trading Post for Fiber Arts. Thus the question, what to pack?

You might think that’s a simple question. I can throw a couple of changes of clothes and personal care products in a bag and call it good. But that’s only part of the equation, and the simple part at that. The tricky part is choosing which knitting and/or spinning projects to bring. It goes like this…

I’m pretty sure I need to bring

something to knit in the car (hope driving will be shared)

something to knit while talking (something at a point not requiring full attention)

something to knit “in case” (road delays, weather delays, or I finish something)

small project to knit in a restaurant (start new socks? no, it’s a sock workshop, silly!)

something to spin if the mood strikes (spindles or wheel? both? spinning tool basket?)

needles and knitting tools for above (plus spares “in case”)

-all of the items on the class materials list

camera for photos of class, yarn, fiber, alpacas and llamasclose up of a llama looking into the camera with curiosity
snacks and water for sustenance in the car
lunch so we don’t have to leave during the workshop
maybe some wine for the end of the day

Yeah, that might cover it. No TSA regulations to consider. Thank goodness this is a road trip!

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