Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Would Be Your Story?

This is a story of a lady that I had never met. I want to paint my own picture of what her craft world might have been. How did she come into my life? Well, I went to a house sale. The lady unfortunately had passed away and this man was selling her yarn. She was a little bit of a hoarder because she had, let’s say, 100+ bins of yarn. Yes, you are reading this correctly. I went to see what I could buy, but when you went through the bins (and they were not all out), I also saw some unfinished items.

I went to the sale with a friend of mine and she made a comment about how sad it was that there were a number of unfinished projects. We were admiring her work as we went through the bins. After thinking of that comment, I thought about my own projects and then when I was talking with her again, I said that if I was to suddenly pass away today or tomorrow that I would have a number of unfinished projects. That's when I thought of how I would like to think that this woman lived through her hobby.

She was in her 80's and you could just see by the number of bins of yarn and unfinished projects that she had a deep passion for the needle arts. Looking at her unfinished projects I could see that she focused on crocheting. I'd like to envision her sitting in her favorite chair and starting on one of those projects in hopes of giving it to her grandchild, a charity, or a gift for a baby shower that she never got to attend. I'd like to think of her opening her bins and searching for that certain color of yarn that she wanted to use. She used all acrylic yarns and mostly in the traditional baby colors, such as pink, sky blue, and white. But she did have some violet, medium blue and variegated colors. You could tell that she loved babies.

Of course she had enough yarn to open her own yarn shop, but I'd like to think of her getting excited to go to her local craft store to shop for yarn for a new project. Even though at home she had all the yarn she could ever use but that wouldn't stop her from going to the store yet again to pick up some of the same yarn. I want to think of her as happy and content at being over 80 years old and able to enjoy her passion and share it with others as her gifts spread across to the people she came in contact with.

Also, I'd like to think of the expression on the faces of the new mothers to be that received a gift from her. Or that new grandchild and in her case it could have been great grand or great-great grand that received that special gift from her. How pretty or handsome they must have looked in their new outfit or wrapped in their new beautiful handmade blanket. I'm sure many of her gifts made it to baby showers where that the mother got to her present and opened it – then the oohs and ahs started as they looked upon a baby gift made full of love. And I can just imagine how her face would light up with joy and how proud she must have felt. Her face would show the biggest smile as she recapped the hours she put into that gift just to be able to enjoy the appreciation and excitement from all in attendance.

The unfinished projects spoke out that she was really good at what she did and she took such care at how each one came out. Did she go by a pattern or was it from her head? We'll never know. She would have had lots of stories to share of all the years of joy she spent making little gifts of love for some special person in her life. Or maybe she did a lot of charity work for hospitals for the preemie babies.

All I know is that every time I use one of those skeins of yarn from that sale, I will think of her, even though I didn't know her. She was a fellow crafter and that commonality connects us as I continue where she left off using what she loved the most - her yarn.

As I thought about this lady, I thought about myself. What is my story? Well, no doubt the needle arts is my passion. I love teaching, I love working on my projects, I love yarn and everything else that goes with it. My story would show how much I love the needle arts. My passion would ooze out of each and every unfinished project. It would show that I ate, slept, and went everywhere with my needle arts as each recycled bag packed with a project would reveal. I loved to talk about what I wanted to make and I have enjoyed writing about it and uploading pictures of all my projects on And some of my UFO's that are still UFO's I'm proud of because I learned from them and I always have that 'one day' they will be finished in my plans. I've accepted who I am and what I love even though I can be a little crazy about it. But I compare it with all the other types of passions out there. If it is your passion, you live it as fully as you can. And if I was to pick one thing to be passionate, crazy, and addictive to I would choose my needle arts.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I know you can relate. So what would your story be? Send me a comment or write me an email. I would love to hear your story also.

Have a great day.

© 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Tackled My Knitting Fear - Will You?

I came out of my box and comfort zone recently and started my very first fair isle technique project. The pictures are showing the front and back of my project. This is not one of those traditional fair isle sweaters but a fashion forward caplet. I was so excited to start, yet scared. I don't know why I have been so intimidated to start a project like this. Every time I would see one of those fair isle sweaters I said, I'm going to make one of those one day. At one of the local libraries I took out the book "Wrap Styles" and saw on the cover what I wanted to make. But it still sat as a 'wanna be' (one day) pattern in my pile of wish list future projects.

Because the pennies have to be counted carefully, I was looking for a house sale that included yarn. I found an estate sale that had a lot of yarn to get rid of with lots of colors. Well, come to mama. And I said the time is now to get rid of the fear and tackle it head on. Now that I started it, I don't know why it took me so long. Oh, you think that us teachers don't have fears just because we teach knitting we are suppose to know everything. Not in the least. There is so much to learn in the knitting world that it is hard to keep up with all that you want to learn and do.

I want to encourage you that if you have something that you have wanted to try and you have put it off, then the time is now. If it is within the needlearts like a stitch pattern or technique, break it down. Do a small sample to get comfortable with it. Then put it in a larger project so that as you repeat the task within the project it becomes second nature and you conquer those fears. But a word of caution, remember to pick something out that is attainable to finish, not something so complex or big that you get frustrated and put it down.

I asked myself what took you so long. At the Stitches East Convention I had taken two classes; the chart reading and writing class and the fair isle purse class. With classes it is so important to put it into action in a project right away before you forget or your fear creeps up all over again. Of course your fear does not go away, it is just hiding in wait for that next time to say, 'you can't do that.'

Don't hurt your progress by putting yourself down before you have tried. You will stunt your growth and your ability to learn. My post dated April 17th talks about how to build your skill level. There are suggestions and a link to a chart I found to be very helpful. I think you would like it.

"He who says he can and he who says he can't are both usually right." Confucius

Is this statement deep and so true or what? Think about it. Which one do you say more often?

Happy conquering your fears.

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Our Health

My blog is about my journey with yarn, what I do with the yarn (my projects), also because of the yarn, where it has taken me (knit groups for the social aspect, knit outs and conventions (traveling). But it is also the beyond aspect that is important. A life journey includes the struggles, disappointments, fears, joys and accomplishments. There is one other part of life that is important - our health. Without a measure of good health I would not have been able to enjoy my journey as I have.

Sometimes we take our health for granted and we feel that our bodies will always work. We feel we don't have to take any conscious thought or do anything special for that to happen - but we do. And then one day our bodies had enough abuse or neglect and they rebel. Our bodies give us warning signs because it is beautifully made and constructed where that it will go on and on and on until it can't anymore and it says, 'I quit' and the health problems begin to take over.

I don't know about you but I can't let that happen. I have too much knitting, crocheting and beyond to let that happen without a fight.

Don't get me wrong, I struggle with this daily because I don't like to cook. But the long end of it is that I want to have limber hands to do my hobbies, working legs that can get me to the yarn shops or knitting/crochet conventions. I want to attend my knitting groups and other events. I need to maintain a good vision so I can see my stitches and read my patterns. That equals taking care of my body as a whole. I want to be determined to get back up when I fall and move on when I don't want to.

I would like to propose that for this moment on that we start, if we haven't, taking steps to change what we do for a healthier tomorrow.

The simplest change in our lives can make a world of difference. Make a few and see for yourself. The question is what can you do today that will help you feel better tomorrow?

I'm not finished talking about this subject, so tune in on my health goals as I continue to fight to be healthy and hope that you are doing the same.

Good health to you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free As A Butterfly

If you click on May 11th posting you will find a pattern for the potato chip scarf. It's a great accent piece and you can make it in several colors to go with different outfits. I got the pattern from one of the women from the knit group I attend. She was having difficulty with it and so I helped her. In the meantime, others wanted to make the scarf and had similar questions, so I thought I would post the pattern on my blog and explain it more clearer.

As I was starting the scarf, so that I could measure how far up you go before you start to see it curl, I measured the piece and put it aside. Later I was looking at it and I thought butterfly wings. I also had a piece of crochet I-cord that I had made as a sample. I thought body of a butterfly and the wings could be made out of the sample I made starting the potato chip scarf. I just added a thinner knitted I-cord for the antennas and walla a butterfly. You never know what can come out of just playing with pieces of something and a little visionary creativeness.

Think about that the next time you make a sample or you are starting something. You just might see what else can come out of it. Be creative. That is where the excitement comes in when you are involved with the needlearts. My de-stressing happens not only when I am working on my projects, but also when I am looking at things in a creative way trying to see what can come out of it differently. Do that and see. Think out of your box and view your project as your creative tool and try changing one thing on it to get a different look. Start small and expand. As always, have fun.

"Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Speaking of beauty and fascination, have you ever visited a butterfly house? If you haven't had a chance to go to a butterfly house then try to go to one. It is worth the trip. It is such an enjoyable experience to view up close and personal the beauty of a butterfly as they flicker around your head and sometimes land on you. I've been to about seven butterfly houses or places that featured a butterfly exhibit. Only once has a butterfly honored me by landing on my head. The colors and sizes of the butterflies are amazing. There is such a calmness you feel as you walk around viewing the different butterflies. I had forgotten all about what I saw at some of these places and I took out my video of my trips. All I could say is WOW! I was just in awe as I re-caped seeing these beautiful creatures that don't even live long.

I love photography. This is another form of freeing your mind as you peer into the lens, well it use to be for me when I had a 35mm camera. Now I have a little digital that has an LCD screen so no lens. I guess I could have a big digital with some of the bells and whistles if I did not have such an addition to yarn. You know where I am going with this one if you are into the needlearts as your hobby. I love taking pictures and butterflies make great subjects. Your picture background when you are shooting butterflies could be a flower, which brings more beautiful colors out or a pretty bush or the sky which brings the colors of the butterfly out even more. If I can find my other pictures I will post them at a later date.

I love to see the display of cocoons because they are like little surprise gifts of life. When you don't know which cocoon is for which butterfly, then the end result for us non-lepidopterist (study of moths and butterflies - I had to look that one up) is a surprise package. And what beautiful surprises they become as the one in the picture shows.

There are a lot more butterfly houses and places that feature butterflies for the summer than when I last went. Some zoos have a butterfly house now so check them out also. It is an easy find through an Internet search. But I am listing the ones that I visited so that if you live near these areas or are visiting these areas you might want to put one on your list. Call or visit the website since butterfly houses or exhibits can be seasonal depending upon where it is located.

Stony Brook-Millstone WaterShed Association, Pennington, NJ

Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens, Niagara Falls, Ontario, CN

Magic Wings Butterfly, South Deerfield, MA

The Butterfly Place, Westford, MA

Museum of Natural Science (Cockrell Butterfly Center), Houston, TX

American Museum of Natural History, NY, NY

Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY

Happy creating and having fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Airy Yet Warm - Free Knit Scarf Pattern

I can't believe that I am saying this, but we are fortunate to have the four seasons in this part of the country where I live. So it is inevitable that it will change from summer to winter in the very near future. I am not a fan of the hot, hot nor the cold, cold.

Guess what? It's time to think about that accent piece that brings in the color and style for this fall. If you haven't read my post on July 3rd, then you can go back to it and get the links to the 2010 fall fashion trends. You can get on board with this red bulky knitted scarf pattern.

The scarf that I am featuring will put you in style for the fall. It is in the color red, which is one of the main colors for this coming season. I made it with large needles, two strands of yarn which made it bulky, and it is a longer length and that is another feature for this fall.

This pattern uses three different pattern stitches; seed stitch, stockinette stitch, and openwork stitch. It is great for all levels, but especially for those that have not as of yet stepped out of their comfort zone and mixed pattern stitches or are unfamiliar with these pattern stitches.

The seed stitch pattern is used at the bottom and top of the scarf, as well as the beginning and end of each row to prevent the scarf from curling in. The curling occurs when you only use stockinette stitch with no border. The seed stitch pattern is also a very nice decorative stitch.

2 - 8oz skeins of worsted weight yarn (I used Red Heart Super Saver) or 8 oz of bulky weight yarn

1 pair of size US 15 needles

Stitch markers (optional - can be used between the border stitches and the main body of the scarf to remind you to begin row and end row with 4 stitches in seed stitch pattern)

Size shown: approx. 11 1/2 x 66

Stitch Pattern Guide:

Seed Stitch Pattern

This is a pattern stitch that you switch between a knit stitch and purl stitch. On the next row you do the opposite stitch that you see on the row below. The seed stitch can be worked on either odd or even number of stitches. For both the top and bottom borders of the scarf pattern, the seed stitch is worked across the entire row of an even number of stitches. Because I am using a couple of stitch patterns together in the body of the scarf, the seed stitch will not come out the same for an even number count. This is one of those exception to the rule. If you go by the pattern that I wrote you will be fine.

Any odd number

Row 1: k1, * p1, k1; rep from *
Rep this row.

Any even number

Row 1: *k1, p1; rep from *
Row 2: *p1, k1; rep from *

Stockinette Stitch
Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl

co - cast on
k - knit
p - purl
k2tog - knit 2 together
yf - yarn forward
bo - bind off
RS - right side
WS - wrong side

Gauge: not necessary for this project


Bind off in pattern - when you are using a specific stitch pattern (in this case the seed stitch pattern), you bind off using the sequence given for the pattern stitch.

Yarn forward - move the working yarn to the front of the work, such as to work a purl stitch


Using two strands (if you are using worsted weight, if not one strand of bulky yarn)

CO 26 (I used the long tail cast on)

Row 1 (RS): *k1, p1* repeat from *.* ending with p1
Row 2 (WS): *p1, k1,* repeat from *.* ending with k1

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you have 8 rows total and ending on a wrong side row. This completes the bottom border.

Body of Scarf:

(Note: the first 4 stitches and the last 4 stitches on each row will be the seed stitch pattern and you can mark the two places with stitch markers)

Row 9 (RS): k1, p1, k1, p1, k across to the last 4 stitches, k1, p1, k1, p1

Row 10 (WS): p1, k1, p1, k1, p across to the last 4 stitches, p1, k1, p1, k1 (this is a combination of the seed stitch pattern for border stitches and stockinette stitch for middle of scarf)

Repeat rows 9 and 10 three more times giving you a total of 8 rows

Note: on the next row you will start using the openwork stitch

Row 17 (RS): k1, p1, k1, p1, yarn forward (the yarn is already where it needs to be since your last stitch was a purl stitch),k2tog, *yf, k2tog*, repeat from *.* to last 4 stitches, k1, p1, k1, p1

Row 18 (WS): p1, k1, p1, k1, p to last 4 stitches, p1, k1, p1, k1

Row 19 (RS): k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, *yf, k2tog repeat from * to last 5 stitches, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 (note: the last 5 stitches includes the last stitch before the stitch marker and the 4 stitches after the stitch marker that make up the side border)

Row 20 (WS): p1, k1, p1, k1, p to last 4 stitches, p1, k1, p1, k1

(note: Be aware that when starting the diagonal openwork stitch on row 17 it starts with yarn forward and row 19 starts and ends with k1. This shifts the stitches over one to make the diagonal stitch. I am only talking about the diagonal stitch pattern and this does not include the 4 stitches on either end for the side border. They remain throughout as the seed stitch pattern.)

Repeat rows 17 thru 20 once more. This is a total of 8 rows of the openwork stitch pattern.

For the rest of the scarf pattern you will be alternating between 8 rows total of rows 9 and 10, switching to rows 17 thru 20 repeating once more to equal 8 rows.

This scarf can be made in any length. But if you would like it to match the beginning of the scarf, then end with the 8 rows total of rows 9 and 10.

Note: Use the picture as your guide as to how the pattern should look.

When you have come to the length of the scarf that you desire, or the length that I used, you will repeat rows 1 - 8 of the seed stitch pattern to end scarf for your top border. This is worked the same as the bottom border.

Bind off in pattern (see definitions).


Weave in ends.

Any questions please feel free to write a comment.


© 2010 All rights reserved

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Life Happens

Losing my job taught me about the unexpected. We live in the unexpectedness of life. We can't look for it; we just have to continue our lives. But when it happens, and it will, we have to sometimes stop, step back, assess then go forward with a plan to fix, change regroup or accept.

I had technical difficulties. Computers are wonderful things, but expect the unexpected. Dealing with customer service and the waiting to get the solution can be a little unnerving. But in the meantime of waiting on the phone and the couple of days I had to wait for service, I worked on my projects. No time lost except for what I needed to do on the computer, including my blog posts.

I also had to take care of stuff. We all have that stuff that needs to be taken care of and it can take up our time.

This could be a long story but you have no time to read it and I have no time to type it. Moving on. I'm back.

I posted some new pictures of my finished projects on flickr. Check it out.