14 March 2019

life happens

so it's march!  when looking at my blog, it appears as though i lost a whole month which was completely unplanned but i got myself into a project and found it hard to pull myself away from it until it was finished.

earlier  this year i had pulled out some almost finished sweaters that i really wanted to love but didn't.  it was time to unravel and move on which is precisely what i've done.  one of those sweaters were made with some brooklyn  tweed shelter in a lovely evergreen (artifact).  at some point the pattern and the yarn came together in my mind and it was decided that it would be a perfect fit.

the pattern is hedgewitch and the textured design reminds me of an evergreen forest.  it only made sense to couple it with some brown (nest) for the dirt that nourishes the trees.  looking at them both together in one piece makes me think of the woods which is my most favorite place to be.

i did a lot of thinking while knitting this:  about the sheep that produced the wool, the farmers that  took care of the sheep, the people who handled it during the dyeing and skeining process.  then i found that my thoughts ran a bit deeper, which is what caused me to be absent from the blog.  any available moment i had, i was knitting on this shawl and working through my thoughts.  it has been very cathartic.

eight years ago i had a mental breakdown.  i realize that is not an official medical diagnosis but my doctor used that term several times with me to get me to realize the seriousness of things;  it's just a term that we are all familiar with.  no one outside of my immediate family is aware of it although i'm sure my work colleagues  figured something serious was wrong.

looking back, i'm not at all surprised.  i now can see clearly how anxiety ridden my life has been, but from about age 39-42, it was absolutely crazy.  recently i worked through the dartmouth university life change stress index scale just out of curiosity.  they state that if you score 300+ you have an 80% likelihood of serious illness in your future.  my score for 2010 was 632.  for 2011 it was 656.  it has only been in the lower 300 range for the past two years and i don't multiply the number (as recommended) when an event happens more than once for that year.

things need to change.  yes, there are life events that we have no control over, but there are also many that we do.  i have 'recovered' from that breakdown, but i never really processed it all.  i just continued on with life the best i could.  i've always been the 'go-to';  the one that is to fix and take care of everything.  externally, i may look like i've got it all under control, but on the inside it is a whole different story.

late last summer i started to see some familiar red flags.  thankfully i made the decision to step back a bit and just take care of myself.  it meant cancelling a trip that i looked forward to immensely, but it was the right decision.  i need to take the time to work on myself.  to let go of so many insecurities, fears and responsibilities that aren't healthy for me.  it's a difficult thing to do when life doesn't stop throwing things your way, but i believe that i'm making good progress.

my handwork plays a huge part in this process.  back in 2011 i lost the desire to make quilts.  i would repeatedly force myself to work with the fabric but there was absolutely no desire.  that was extremely hard for me to accept because working with my hands and creating was my 'therapy'.  it's what i could do to try and work through life stuff.  it took three years for me to get back even a small urge to create.  it's something that i will never take for granted again.

heavy stuff, yes.  but it's part of who i am and the journey i'm on.  i thought it was important to share.

next week i hope to share a big finish!

29 January 2019

51 yarns::january

i bought my first spinning wheel in october 2014 and taught myself to spin with the help of online spinning videos.  i found spinning so thoroughly relaxing and really put very little pressure on myself to produce which was also very nice.  almost 12 months later i sold my first spinning wheel and bought myself my 'dream wheel': a cherry schacht matchless.  again, i continued to spin but no pressure.  the act of just mindlessly guiding wool while treadling away was wonderful.
somewhere along the line my spinning activity got placed on the back burner and other things took precedence.  life got hectic and free time got more limited and my spinning wheel (along with other things) started to collect dust.

last fall, after returning from vavstuga, i really focused in on what it is that i wanted to do; what really made me happy and brought me joy, not more stress.  spinning was high on that list, but i decided that i didn't want to spin just to spin anymore.  i wanted to learn to create those yarns that i love to work with; yarns that 'feel' alive, have some slight imperfections and are full of character.  since i have a large portion of the tools needed to do just that, it all comes down to practice....lots and lots of practice.  and that is where the book 51 yarns comes into play.

51 yarns is a book with the intention to spin with a specific purpose and to learn while you are doing it.  you spin your way through different classes, structures and color designs.  there are helpful hints and history for each yarn type you are working on.  i decided that i would do at least a couple yarns a month starting from the beginning of the book and just make my way through.

for the month of january i spun 4 different yarns:  targhee, rambulouiett, jacob and romney.  i spun each one into a 2 ply using the same technique and then knit up a sample for each one.  i felt it was important to keep notes during the process so that i could look back and see progress as well as observe the differences between various breeds all spun in the same manner.

i can't tell you how much i've enjoyed this process which has really surprised me.  i was afraid that spinning wouldn't be as enjoyable if i placed 'rules' on it but i'm loving every part of it. i use to hate sampling but  i've never knit anything with my spun yarn before and it has been so satisfying!   i think i'm onto something here, folks.

22 January 2019

half a century


last year around this time, instead of happily celebrating my 49th year, i was more excited about the fact that i was 1 short year away from turning 50.  strange, isn't it?  i was already making plans in my head about how i wanted to celebrate turning that magical, elusive, wise-sounding half a century mark.  and in all reality, it is pretty darn amazing when you say it like that.  fifty years of life, my friend, is nothing to sneeze at.

 this past year i took some time to really ponder on things:  mistakes, triumphs, changes, and choices that i've made.  all of those big and little moments that grew me as a person.   i've gathered some ideas and accepted some hard truths.  i didn't come up with all of the answers to life but i never expected to.  my hopes and thoughts for 40 were far different than what i'm hoping for in my 50s-a quieter, calmer more peaceful life.

here's to 50!

15 January 2019

ioana shawl

i finished my ioana shawl near the close of 2018 and am really glad that i put other works in progress on hold to knit it.  i love the texture, the yarn and the finished product, plus the yarn has quickly become a favorite.  it's knit with moeke romanian merino and heritage, both in their natural color way. now that winter has finally arrived it has gotten it's share of use.

i have since continued on with a sweater that has been in progress for, uh, several months.  it's not that i'm not enjoying the knit or unhappy with how things are going but rather that i had to rip out a few times which is never fun.  i have persevered and am now happily onto the sleeves so a finished product should be wearable soon.

other happenings include unraveling of several projects that i knit but was unhappy with the fit.  even though i loved the yarn and pattern, i wasn't liking how they looked on me, which is nothing out of the ordinary.  i am a nightmare when it comes to clothing styles and fit.  i think that has improved some over the years as i'm (slowly) learning what i'm most comfortable in, but that is still translating (again, slowly) over into my knitting choices.  these items have been laying in a basket and growing over the past two or three years and i decided that it was time to clear them out to make the yarn available for other purposes.  it's been rather startling to me how satisfying that process has been.  who knew?

finally, i've started onto a somewhat different, but not new, path where my knitting is concerned. will share more next time...

08 January 2019

the magic of vavstuga

through the years i've been able to attend some workshops and retreats which i thoroughly enjoyed and gained some knowledge from, but i've always been left a bit disappointed to some extent.  i had eventually written it off as too high of expectations on my part and left it at that.

 it had been over 8 years since i had attended a retreat but had heard only positive reviews about becky ashenden and vavstuga.  last september i had the chance to make the trek north to massachusetts and experience a week of weaving with becky at her school of weaving.  i quickly came to realize that i was in for a whole new experience.

 weaving was explained and demonstrated in such a understandable way with an immense amount of patience but by the end of the week i came to realize that i had received more than just the know-how of looms, drafting and the act of weaving.  i got to witness hospitality at its finest from a hard-working woman who truly loves what she does.  becky is so talented in so many different things and freely shares her passion.  as one of my fellow roommates remarked, becky is authentic and true to herself.  we hear a lot of that being thrown around these days, but to actually see someone living that?  so very rare.

in the months that have passed i have come to realize that i received more than a strong working knowledge on the craft of weaving.  it has left me looking at and pondering different areas of my life, all in a very good way.

01 January 2019
23 September 2017

big star shawl using moeke yarn

for some time now i have been wanting to get myself some moeke yarn as i have been following ioana and the development of the yarn via instagram for quite some time.  this summer i finally acquired enough of the elena in a natural brown to make myself a big star shawl.  the yarn or the pattern did not disappoint.

the beginnings of moeke yarn is everything that inspires me:  keeping traditions alive, supporting individual craftsmen, and staying true to the nature of the product. it is a beautiful, rustic yarn that feels 'real', for lack of a better term.  the time and effort that ioana and her brother have put into producing this yarn is admirable and, for me, makes it all more meaningful.  for the past few years i have made it a point to seek out products that are from the individual craftsman.  i'd rather give them my money and support than a large corporation that mass produces things...but that discussion could be a whole other (long) post.  after working with this yarn for a short time, i quickly ordered myself enough to make a sweater.

if you aren't familiar with moeke yarns, take some time to check out the above links and/or look them up on instagram.

no affiliation with ioana or moeke yarn....just a happy knitter.