Friday, October 3, 2008

Therapy Knitting

Ciao! Io sono una studentessa a di Università Dallas e studio italiano. As you can see, I am busy learning Italian for our upcoming trip to Rome over the Christmas holiday. In an effort to squeeze in more knitting time as well as do my homework, I find myself counting my stitches in Italian. Uno, due, how do you say 64 again? If nothing else, I will be fluent in my numbers!

My knitting friend and mentor is taking Italian with me and she found a pattern for a short sleeved sweater from Crystal Palace Yarns called "Italian Tee Shirt". We are both currently knitting our "la mia maglietta italiana" with the hopes that they will be finished in time to wear for our final. (Hopefully our professoressa will be so impressed with our knitting skills that she will grade on the curve.) We are using Jaeger Roma yarn and if you have never knitted with this yarn before, BUY some today. It is lovely to work with and very, very soft. Melissa's is in a gentle shade of green called "leaf" and mine is in a reddish-pink shade-reminiscent of stawberries- called "summer berries".

Last night, my knitting friend and I went to Thursday Therapy at Yarn Heaven. While both of us have visited the store and purchased yarn, this was our first foray into a group therapy session. Cherie and I learned to knit at the same time (not quite a year), and I was a little apprehensive about going to an established group knitting session with seasoned knitters. I took my felted footies to work on and Cherie was working on her 2nd pair of socks. We had so much fun. Everyone was very friendly! Several of the women were working on a sweater that was knitted top-down, others were working on scarves and various projects in different stages of completion. Knitting is very therapeutic and as I heard the soft click of needles and let the ebb and flow of several conversations wash over me, all my fears vanished and soon I was joining in. As we knitted away, I realized that we were joining our stitches with theirs in a warm blanket of friendship that allowed the outside world to fade away and we became one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Silence Descends Once Again

Silence has descended once again in our home. Our oldest son has returned to Norman after a quick visit and our youngest has returned to the seminary. You would think that I would be used to it by now but I'm not. I find myself walking down the hall to ask a quick question or share a thought and then find the empty rooms. Doing the last load of laundry is bittersweet as I find myself folding their clothes and taking them to their rooms. Yes, the laundry is finished but their rooms are empty. Children are a gift from God and He has blessed my husband and me with two wonderful sons. I give thanks every day for them and treasure the moments we have together. Two of my friends are experiencing these same emotional moments this year. My oldest and dearest friend has just delivered her youngest to begin his freshman year at college and one of my newest knitting friends dropped her daughter off on her first day of kindergarten.

We are all finding solace in our knitting. Somehow the gentle click of needles and the textural sensation of fiber is helping to ease our sense of loss. I have cast on a new cardigan jacket as I want to learn how to make sleeves so I can knit sweaters for my sons, Fran stopped on the way home from college to buy yarn to make sweaters, and Cherie is also knitting away. Knitting our children a garment created with love is our way to hold on to them even when we're not there. With each knit and purl, we knit our love, our hopes, and our dreams for our children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Impressionists and Knitting

This past weekend, my knitting friends and I had a fun-filled art and fiber ladies only outing. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is holding a special exhibit featuring 92 paintings from the Impressionist Period. One of my all time favorites is Renoir's Two Sisters. It's one thing to see this painting in art books and quite another to actually see it in person. The vibrant colors leap off the canvas and literally take your breath away.

After a quick sandwich lunch, we stopped at our first yarn store. Words can't describe the dizzying array of yarns that met our eyes when we opened the door to Yarns Ewenique. Every square inch of space is devoted to yarn and we oohed, aahed, and fondled our way through every delectable skein. Cashmere blends, silk, wool, cotton and sock yarns in every color combination begged to be stroked and there were many cries of "oh my gosh, you have to feel this yarn." As our next knit-along project will be to learn how to knit socks, we each purchased colorful sock yarn for our stash. All right, I confess that I also bought 7 skeins of Rowan's Soft Tweed in a beautiful shade of blue as well as a pattern in addition to the sock yarn.

Our last stop for the day was Jennings Street Yarn. This store is also in Fort Worth and has a large selection of yarns. They arrange their yarns by color regardless of the type or manufacturer. This took some time to get used to as I personally find strolling through a shop and dipping my hands into the different yarn bins part of the fun of visiting a yarn store. I enjoy the melange of jewel like colors that visually stimulate my senses and encourage me to explore rather than being steered to a particular color range.

All in all, this was a fun outing. It doesn't get any better than friendship and fellowship with my knitting sisters.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Knitting

At long last I have fulfilled a secret dream. I AM AN OLYMPIAN! I am a member of TeamTexas in the Ravelympics. My event is WIP Wrestling and I have "wrestled" my shawl into a finished project. Cue the music as I walk proudly to the podium to join my fellow "wrestlers" and accept a gold.

Knitting should be an Olympic sport. After all, it takes athletic ability and strong wrists to wield two pointy sticks, it takes drive and dedication to push yourself to finish just one more row, and sometimes it takes years of practice to win the medal. Knitters of the world, I salute you!

I have one more WIP to wrestle into a finished project before the Olympics is over. I finally located all the lovely peacock blue Bam Boo yarn that I could find (a grand total of 7 skeins or 539 yards). I should earn a medal for the time and effort involved in tracking down these skeins. I found the first 5 skeins of this luscious yarn in Norman on clearance. I was sure that it would be enough to make something. Little did I realize that it was barely enough to make the front of a sweater. I immediately went into search mode trying to find at least 2 more skeins. I had friends looking in different parts of Texas, I called all the local yarn stores, my husband looked for it while on a business trip, and I emailed as many online yarn stores as I could find. A very nice shop in Minnesota "The Knitter's Palette" felt my pain and emailed that they had the yarn and it was even the same dye lot. I am now knitting my way to the gold medal platform with a nice sleeveless v-neck sweater. I have 14 days left to "wrestle" it into a finished project, that's 336 hours of total knitting time available if I don't sleep or eat. I better get knitting.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Adding to the Stash or Confessions of a Yarn Junkie

I have a confession to make. JUNKIE. Yes, that's right, I have become a serious yarn junkie! My stash is now overflowing three tubs and I still dream of acquiring more lovely skeins. I carefully plan my routes to include stores that carry yarn and I cruise the internet sites for yarn. My passion for yarn acquisition has even been pushed onto my husband.

My husband travels quite frequently for business and most recently it has been to Seattle. The first trip he brought me a present. Visions of yarn were dancing in my head when he handed me the brown bag. It was not to be, inside the bag was a package of Smoked Salmon Chowder and a chocolate bar. I ate the chocolate, gave away the soup, and tried to remind myself that it was the thought that counts. The second trip, I made sure to let him know that FIBER in the form of yarn was always a wonderful present. He had time on his hands so he visited Pike Street Marketplace. Pike Street is a wonderful place, full of crafts, flowers, flying fish, but no yarn or at least none that he could find. Oh well, he tried I said to console myself. He redeemed himself later that week when he called and said he was on his way to All Points Yarn in Des Moines, WA. He had discovered the ad for the yarn shop in the coffee shop paper and noticed that it was conveniently located near his favorite restaurant, Anthony's. Visiting a yarn store was a sacrifice he was willing to make as he could reward himself with fresh Copper River salmon and the knowledge he was earning brownie points in the considerate husband category. When he got to the store, he put me on speaker phone so I could talk to the owner about the yarn I was looking for. Unfortunately, they didn't carry it but I talked yarn with Morgan (the owner) and finally told him to show my husband sock yarns and help him pick out some yarn. They picked out a lovely Schoeller & Stahl Fortissima Colori Socka which has joined my stash where it patiently awaits the day I learn how to knit socks.

We went to Norman over the 4th to visit our son again. I had heard about knitting podcasts and thought they might be fun to listen to on the way up. My loving patient husband burned a CD with 2 hours of knitting podcasts of "Stash and Burn". He is a stamp collector so he also burned 2 hours of "Stamp Talk" and we alternated between them. Somehow, I don't thing either one of these would be the listening choice for our sons if they were in the car but it worked for us. When we arrived, this time I wisely fed the hungry males, dropped them off at the bookstore and went to L & B Yarn Company on my own. The last time I visited the store their electricity was off and I shopped by flashlight. This time, I was able to view the beautiful yarns, stroke the soft mohairs, and admire the silks, bamboos, and wool to my heart's delight. I added 10 skeins of Classic Elite Bam Boo in the vibrant shade of bougainvilla and 3 skeins of Wildfoote luxury sock yarn to my stash.

So much yarn available, so many places still to visit to buy yarn! I hear the siren's call and know that soon I will need another tub, but that's alright as I know of a store that sells tubs that's on the way to the yarn store....yes, I'm a yarn junkie and proud of it!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Electricity? No Problem! or Shopping In The Dark

My son called and said he would be in Norman for the weekend and with my husband out of town, I decided it would be nice to have a Mom & Me weekend with my 23 year old son. My ulterior motive besides having some quality time with my son was to finally visit the yarn store. This time I wasn't going to take any excuses so I planned ahead and baked a pie. That's right. I'm not above bribes. At his apartment I carried in my overnight bag, knitting bag, pillow and pie. As he inhaled the delectable aroma of peaches, apricots and cinnamon I mentioned the knitting store. His brain and olfactory senses were in overdrive so he just moaned a weak "okay." A trip to the hamburger diner and the further bribe of watching The Incredible Hulk later in the afternoon clinched the deal. After lunch we set off for the store. Filled with glee and anticipation I followed his directions but .... made one small driving mistake. I turned right instead of left and as I was turning I saw out of the corner of my eye "Do Not Enter - One Way" oops! My son was screaming ''look out'' as I shot across 3 lanes of oncoming traffic to scoot safely down an alley. What's up with one-way streets?!!! A quick turn and we were back with the flow of traffic. The parking lot was deserted and I knew from checking the website that they did have Saturday hours so in we went. After entering, I knew why the lot was deserted. They were without electricity. I didn't let the fact that there weren't any front windows to let in light discourage me. After all, I had driven 3 hours to get there and after my teeny tiny driving mistake who knew if I would get the chance again to visit again. I asked and received a flashlight which my son held as I went up and down the aisles oohing, aahing, and fondling the yarns. They had bin after bin, shelf after shelf of lovely yarns. Wool, bamboo, silk, cotton, worsted, ribbon....I was in yarn heaven. The proprietor mentioned the sale room in the back and off we went. I found some lovely Classic Elite Bamboo at 40% off. Whoo hoo! I've been wanting to try it and here was the perfect opportunity. I also bought some beautiful Alpaca for a stocking cap for my son. As I was paying, there was a hum and then the lights came back on! I swear I heard the Hallelujah Chorus as I beheld the dizzying jewel-like tones of all the yarns that I had only dimly seen by flashlight. Only the fact that our movie was going to start soon saved my son from another trip through the aisles. As we drove away he casually mentioned that now that I knew where the store was located perhaps I could do my yarn shopping without him. If you ever get to Norman, Oklahoma I recommend you stop in at L & B Yarn Company. It's worth a visit with or without electricity.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Old Friends and New Friends

Yesterday I got to thinking about an old friend of mine and sent her an email. Fran and I have known each other since 4th grade. Her youngest is graduating from high school this weekend and mine are in college. There are old friendships that stand the test of time. This is one. You know what I mean. You might not stay in touch as often as you like and you move away (me), but you just pick up the threads of friendship as if you were never apart. My new knitting friends are like that also. Treasure your friends, both old and new, I know I do.

You might have noticed the beautiful orchid on this post. Growing orchids is another passion of mine. Last year we added a sunroom onto our house and I have it filled with over 50 plants. Most of them are orchids in various stages of growth. I have a small table for 2 in the room also and this is where I love to sit, read, drink coffee, and knit. Currently I have 6 orchids in bloom and this is one of them. The exciting thing is that I am managing to re-bloom several of them which I never managed to do before the sunroom.

I took my first psychology test last night and I got an 88. I'll take it! I've found that going back to school as an adult learner while working full-time is a challenge. I'm trying to finish up my bachelor degree so I can go on an earn my MLS (Masters in Library Science). Books are another passion in my life. I've found that I can combine both knitting and reading by listening to an audio book in my beautiful sunroom. Does it get any better than this? My christening afghan is coming right along and I'm a few short rows away from completing the back to my sweater. The afghan is definitely going to be bigger than planned. I think it will probably fit a youth bed!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not Yarn Shopping in Oklahoma

We drove to Norman this past weekend to visit our son. (He's pursuing his masters in geology and working an internship in Tulsa this summer) Before we left I carefully researched possible yarn stores to visit both in Norman and Oklahoma City. I found a shop in Norman AND in OKC. I made careful notes of hours, location, and driving directions. Who was it that said "the best laid plans of mice and men"? We arrived in time for lunch on Saturday and believing that a juicy hamburger for my starving husband and sons would "grease the wheels" so to speak, at the local hamburger joint I broached the subject of a visit to the yarn stores. Their eyes glazed and there was much hemming and hawing before my son informed me he needed some dress pants for work and besides there was a really neat used bookstore in OKC. Well, strike Norman's yarn store off my list but I was still hopeful for the one in OKC. We set off on what turned out to be a trip of Odyssian proportions. Never, never, I repeat NEVER set off to a city without a Mapsco. We had the address and phone number and the vague notion that it was off I-35. OKC is not that far from Norman, yet we managed to make a 30 minute drive turn into an 1 1/2 hour trek. We called that poor lady numerous times and begged for directions time after time. Somehow, through the grace of God we managed to find the store. After getting out and nearly kissing the ground in thanksgiving (until I looked down and saw the nasty wad of gum) we entered and made the owner's day by dropping a small fortune on books. I resisted buying anything (they didn't have any knitting books) and looking at my watch as we left I saw we still had time to make it to the yarn store. Anguished glances passed between my husband and sons at the thought of "yarn shopping" when they remembered we didn't have the mapsco and would get lost again. Besides, my oldest son said he knew where a Catholic bookstore was. This was music to the ears of my youngest son (the seminarian) and being a good "mom" I caved and off we went to drop another small fortune. Needless to say, no yarn shopping for me that weekend.

The weekend wasn't a total loss. I did start my Christening afghan and am happy to report that my pattern is working just like I envisioned. The size will definitely be a tad bit bigger than I had planned as I'm using a different yarn than I made my swatch with. I'm using a worsted weight instead of the baby weight and it really makes a difference. This is probably another "newbie" mistake (one of many) and although I did drop one needle size it wasn't enough.

I'm also almost finished with the back of my sweater. This pattern is proving to be more challenging than I had anticipated. My knitting mentor and friend, Melissa, is helping me interpret the pattern so there is hope.

Tomorrow is another early release Friday, but I will have to be good and go home and do my homework. I'm taking classes so I can finish up my bachelor degree. I'm taking Psychology, Communications, and Non-verbal Communications. Somehow I will manage to work knitting into my homework schedule.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Aaahh, summertime! From today through August I get off work 3 hours early every Friday. Today, being the first early release Friday, I celebrated by going yarn shopping. At Hobby Lobby I shopped to my heart's content. No husband checking with me every 5 minutes to see if I'm ready to go...just me and YARN! I bought 5 skeins of white (I know...boring) "I Love This Yarn." It's so incredibly soft and will make a beautiful christening blanket.

A friend of mine is having her first baby and I want to make something special. As she is a devout Catholic I know there will be a christening and I decided on a blanket/afghan. After a fruitless search of the internet with every possible combination on "knitting, knitted, cross, baptism, afghan, christening, pattern" I found a small jpeg of a filet crochet altar cloth with a cross. It seemed an easy matter in my mind to make this into a knitting pattern. This must have been the naive newbie knitter thinking this because the reality was quite a bit different.

Frustrated, near tears, and snapping at my patient husband for his polite inquiry "what's for dinner?", I was ready to concede defeat. As usual, the "right brain/left brain", "creative vs. engineering mind" differences became apparent. He immediately took on the challenge and in no time had taken my conceptual design and turned it into a graph. God Bless husbands especially mine! He printed it out on graph paper that he designed and I was able to write out the pattern so I could follow the chart.

I will post a picture of the design later but for now imagine a large white baby size afghan. It will have a large raised cross in the center and has 2 interlocking raised borders. I plan on using garter stitch for the raised sections and stockinette stitch for the flat surfaces. Hopefully it will knit together just like I envision. Her baby is due in September so I will have time to knit something else if this doesn't work out. (edited to add picture of project)

I had so much fun fondling yarn that I think next Friday I'll visit Yarn Heaven in Arlington.