In the Shadow

 

Participating in a dialogue about race and equality is one of the hardest things a community can do. Understatement aside, the effort it takes to just get everyone in the same room can be a monumental effort, getting people to actually speak is even harder.

Me? I like to be quiet, often falling into the mindset of “I believe what I believe and that is enough”. I am often cynical about whatever good town meetings and potlucks will do and I’m even more cynical about the power of my own voice and opinion. So, when an art gallery in my college town invited me to be apart of their Black History month event, I was taken aback at first. I said yes, and immediately regretted it. What do I have to say? Well, nothing. I have a lot to knit though.

For my part, I wanted to knit several pieces that explore the anxiety of being an ethnic minority in America. The works will have a historical focus and use a variety of knitting techniques to make the art…well, art. Thursday was the first night of the month long event, and though I sadly couldn’t be there, my first four pieces were. Here’s a sneak peak!

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Photo credit: Sarah Burch

Later in the month, I’ll be bringing down my statement piece. For this, I wanted to really challenge myself. I decided to try my hand at illusion/shadow knitting.A lot of it.

I’ve never tried Shadow knitting before. Up until recently, I only understood it to be useful for creating subtle color change effects in knitting, which can be striking in a shawl or table runner. I felt compelled to pursue this new technique and master it while also creating a statement piece for the gallery! I did a few small test knits and then dove into my project. For the past few months, I’ve been learning to use a new charting software in order to chart my art piece. Steve Plummer of Wooly Thoughts, a prolific illusion/shadow knitter and designer, has been an invaluable teacher and support throughout the entire process. You should check out his website here.

My first illusion knit! Plus a hand drawn chart for practicing with Inkscape software. 


When I cast on for my Illusion Knit project- one swatch of the Illusion Circle pattern by Steve Plummer! It was very difficult to conceptualize the method of Shadow Knitting at first. Basically, shadow knitting uses purl and knit rows to create peaks and valleys. When the peaks and valleys are lined up correctly, they create a negative space between them. Because every ridge (shadow knitting is done in ridges, with two rows of knitting being one ridge) is one color all the way across, when the work is looked at straight on, it appears to be simple vertical or horizontal stripes. When the work is tilted, you see the negative image appear. Hence the name “shadow/illusion” knitting.

I’m keeping the design that’s hidden in my shadow piece hush hush for right now, but I can’t wait to share when it’s all done and mounted! This entire experience has been so surreal; now that it’s finally February, it feels totally unreal to be talking about my work to others and inviting people to view it in a gallery of all things. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to not only share my opinion, but also  help facilitate a productive dialogue on racial relations within my own community. Thank you for listening.


 

 

 

 

Spill

Spill

I’m new to the Word of the Year challenge. I found out about it last year and started following the hashtag on Instagram. It’s so fascinating to see how a word turns into a theme that lasts the entire year. I finally decided to commit to a word, and to be open to the interpretation of it in every part of life. 

Of course, I started with knitting. 


Nuvem. A 2,000 yard lace shawl is good company for a year long theme. I actually cast on way back in October and carried it with me everywhere. It’s enormous now, nearly 1,000 yards of lace on a US4. I have it on my 80in. interchangable cords. The amazing Maria hand painted yarn by Manos gives so much depth of color to the knit. Sometimes it just looks like a puddle of color.  I’ve spent a lot of time sitting with this knit and casting my thoughts and feelings into the endless waves stockinette stitch. 

 

I decided on the word ‘spill’ because I have a terrible habit of bottling up everything. A pretty typical problem, but at some point it has to come to a head right? Right! How long can anyone go being bottled up and stressed out? I don’t really want to find out, so once again I’m turning to my knitting to therapy me into a new headspace, or at least the start of it. 


It was such a comfort to have this project with me during the holidays. To be able to knit when the people around you are being insufferable is like taking off in an escape pod. To be able to discreetly pull out a project and quietly click away at it while everyone else shouts? Yes please. Pretty soon the rythm of needles and soft fabric allows you to totally tune out. But it’s not just about tuning out (or else I’d pull out my phone) it’s about pouring your frustration and hurt feelings into something beautiful despite being in the midst of ugliness. In the moment relief. 


I’m sure my word will apply to many more aspects of life beyond knitting, but I can’t think of a better way to begin working it in. 

 

 

 

 

Resolutions in Yarn

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I really am not fond of New Year’s resolutions. To me, it seems a bit backwards to wait until the dead of winter to start “the game changers”, especially if your goal or resolution has been something that you’ve been mulling over for months. I’m the sort that when I realize I need to make a drastic change, I start immediately, or at least try to. This is how my “New Year’s” resolutions ended up being way back in August. High summer and high energy for introspection.

One of the goals I set for myself was to start stash busting in a meaningful way. Key word being meaningful. I didn’t want to just give away my yarn (or sell it for that matter), nor was I satisfied with the idea of arbitrarily whipping out hats and shawls from my stash just to say I used the yarn. I realized it might be best to start from the bottom up, per se. Instead of grabbing those ten skeins of worsted weight yarn and charging through a sweater, I figured it would be easier to deal with all the bits and scraps of leftover yarns first.

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I’ve never been able to do away with leftover yarn. Need donations to your sock blanket or a West Knits stash busting sweater? Don’t look at me; all my leftovers are locked away and jammed back in my closet with the idea of being “repair yarn”. But after a while, the pile grows and grows (unknit yarn takes up so much space!) and the little balls of yarn are left to cry in the corner, begging to be knit into something, anything. Ok, it may not be that severe, but does it really bring anyone any joy to have plastic bins of half used yarn taking up shoe space in their closet? Nope.

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I decided to start one of those wonderful sock-weight blankets. Most of my stash is fingering weight and lace so this is a great way to manage a huge section all at once. Since stash busting is so hard for me, I wanted this to be a very fun and sentimental project. As much about the recording and preservation of knit memories as it is about making room for new yarns.

The 5* Year Blanket

I’m using Shelly Kang’s Sock Yarn Blanket pattern.  All of the yarn will be leftover, fingering weight yarn. I’ve been keeping notes on all the details about every square!

My goal is not to finish the blanket this year, but it would be nice to make it through all of my pre-2017 fingering weight yarn leftovers  This might end up being the 6 or 7 year blanket before everything is sewn together.I’m excited for a new long-term project though! Yay for stash busting! #5yearblanket

Do you have a blanket cast on? How long have you worked on it?

Check out these amazing Sock Yarn Blankets below!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Scitchr/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/MinervasBliss/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/dekleinewolf/sock-yarn-blanket

Cloud Escape

I decided to really get into winter knitting this year. I usually only manage one or two sweaters every winter, and I don’t have a chance to enjoy them for more than a few weeks before it’s time to pack them away. This is due to me being so dead set on doing Christmas presents for *everyone* and their mom. Like, actually. It’s always so stressful and I’ve done it four times in a row now. I think this year I’m going to take a break. I’ve decided to do no more than four presents. There shall be store bought scarves and coupons all around this year! And Walgreen’s Christmas cards, soooo many cards. This year, I deserve Escape.

IMG_2322.JPGIn the beginning of August, I cast on for this beauty. An oversized, split side, bi-color sweater. The yarn was a total impulse buy. I walked into my LYS in Arkansas and the yarn was nestled together on the shelf *screaming at me* to take it home. Before I even knew what was happening, I was handing over my credit card and signing my name in blood.

IMG_2323The yarn is, of course, more Dream in Color. I think they should sponsor me. This time I’m using the Jilly Cashmere. I love the halo that the yarn has while also holding sharp stitch definition. The blue, ‘Forget Me’, is to die for. Actually impossible to forget (see what I did there?)I love how it has splashes of brown and green in it. I only have one skein of the ‘Brownie’ brown, so I’m a little nervous about having enough to do full sleeves, I hope that them being tight, clingy sleeves will mean I can make a little yarn go a long way. If not,some stripe work might be in order. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m officially ready for Fall to touch down.

IMG_2325Also, Jon and I have welcomed a new member into our family. A little ball of fluffy kitten that relentlessly plays and mews at us all day. Kora. I’m totally in love. I mean, look at these paws


Look at that tail


Look at that FACE


A deep and insatiable affection has been stirred up in me, and I can’t get over this kitten. She loves to crawl all over me, and cuddle, and play, and basically all the things Luna is too cool for. Don’t worry, Luna is happy, and adjusting well to the newcomer. I think she appreciates that I no longer harass her for photos. And I think she likes keeping Kora in place with head bops and swats.

 Expect to see much more of this little kitten, and if you (like me) can’t get enough of her, follow my Instagram for endless pictures!

Until next time, daydream on my lovelies!

(Just one more picture)

Knitting Pays the Bills

Knitting Pays the Bills

Part 3 of From the Other Side: Knitting in the Mission Field to come soon!

Before I moved to KC, I decided that I had to continue working at a yarn shop in some capacity. I loved the work too much not to seek it out. I called around to several of the yarn shops and offered my services for knitting commissions. Too busy to knit up a shop sample for the next season? I’m your girl.

I’m currently working for one shop and I hope to be able to work for another nearby one as well. I’ve already completed one commission that I neglected to photo, and this weekend I picked up more work.
The blue one is a little baby sweater that needs to be seamed up. Simple enough, the grey one however…is a bit of a doosey. Rocky Road, a worsted weight, winter coat. A customer had an accident and hurt her shoulder, but still wants the coat finished, despite warming weather.

   
 I’ve got about a thousand yards of grey wool to knit through. I’m pretty grateful that I’ve been given 8-10 weeks to get it done though. This week, I’m going to focus all my energy on finishing my Waterlily this week and seaming up the baby sweater. Then I’ll dive into this sweater.

15″ down, time to divide for the yoke!

I don’t want this coat hanging over my head for too long so I want to devote a lot of energy to it, but I can’t stand the idea of not knitting on something for me for 8 weeks. That’s summer knitting time! I’ve decided to knock out a few pairs of socks on the side and hopefully cast on for another summer top while working on this. I haven’t picked a top yet, but I know I’ll be making myself a pair of Skew socks with this fun Blue Ridge Yarn

  
I feel so grateful to be able to knit for a side income. Not only does it loosen up our post-move budget, but it serves as a great way to stay close in the loop of all the knitting goings on in some sort of professional capacity. Once a yarn shop girl, always a yarn shop girl. I’m going to savor this next week of personal knitting before I dive into this commission. However, despite the 1000yds of grey, I’m feeling pretty great about saying knitting is my job. 

how luna feels about my artistic photos.

Guilds, Waterlilies, and Endless Sweaters

While I work on part 2 of “From the Other Side: Knitting in the Mission Field” I decided to throw out a little update on my other knitting pretties.

I’ve discovered the knitting community in Kansas City, it is prosperous and delightful. Specifically, I’ve tapped into the local knitting guild, Sunflower Knitting Guild. There were many crafty guilds back in Arkansas, but they often met at times when I I had to work or they were located in other county’s. If there was any sort of knitting guild in Fayetteville, I feel like it was my LYS . All of the crafters from the Farmers’ Market and the local knitters would meet there. It was (is) an amazing community and I was very eager to find a new one here in KC.

Queue a few google searches and a phone call and I was invited to a knit night at Hy-Vee!

Side note: Guys, have you heard of Hy-vee? Grocery shopping AND a restaurant upstairs? Are you kidding me? What is this magic…

When I walked in, I had a pretty wonderful pang of nostalgia from my Thursday night knit nights. A huge crowd of knitters of all ages crowded around tables, glasses of wine, loud laughing, and an overflow of hand knits. I ended up meeting quiet a few members of the Sunflower Guild including the president, vice president and editor! Everyone was so nice and they invited me to their monthly meeting on Monday. It was epic. Guys, they just take over the bottom level of a restaurant. My whole heart, they have it. It was exciting to see a guild meeting. There was a quick discussion of finances and updates so that we could get to the meat of the meeting, Show and Tell. Everyone had the opportunity to have center stage and show off recent knits, share patterns, and applaud wonderful work. When the mic came to me I tried to pass, but they insisted I talked about  my Leaf and Trellis shawl. They applauded me, I nearly died of giddiness. I’m very excited to attend the next Knit Night!

In the mean time, I’ve cast on for Waterlily as my first spring knit! After being bogged down with wedding and Christmas knits all of last year, it felt so so good to cast on for a seasonal knit! I’m using Ella Rae Lace Merino and I’m in love with this delicious raspberry colorway with flecks of white. Makes me crave a plethora of raspberry desserts…


  
And in the corner….crying out to be finished…is my NaKniSweMo. *Sigh*, maybe this year I’ll actually finish NaKniSweMo IN November. To be fair,though, I also knit ten Christmas presents and had them all under the tree on time. I secretly knew there was no way I would finish. I’m inches away from being done with the collar of this baby, though, due to an error in the pattern, I’m going to have to rip back about five inches first. It’s only about 40 stitches at this point though, so not a huge blow.


Then I have to steak (not talking about it) and weave in all the ends, and block, and sew in a zipper….as I said, endless sweater. I keep it sitting out in the living room, much to Jon’s chagrin, so hopefully it won’t disappear down the void of WIP’s. But honestly, wouldn’t it be a bit of naughty fun to whip this out in October, finish in a week, and flaunt it? I’m thinking yes….


Spring is exploding here and our apartment is finally starting to feel like home. I have the itch to start painting walls and find new picture frames. But for now, in my down time, I mostly just want to swing on our balcony and watch the trees bloom.

Wednesday WIPS- Woven Together

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The past few weeks I’ve been knitting away at these Entrelac knee high socks knit out of Rowan Fine Art and Dream in Color lace. As the weather has cooled, I’ve gotten a bit of fall fever and am lusting after all the sock yarn. I love Entrelac. I love how it looks like sections of fabric woven together in a basket weave like pattern to make a colorful and textured finished project. In reality, there are hundreds of stitches that have been meticulously knitted together to form a much bigger picture of unity.

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This past month has been full of unity. In a few days Jon and I will have been married for two months!

Since the big day, we’ve moved in together, manged to completely unpack and decorate our new place, I’ve gotten a job at my church, and successfully pulled off a birthday celebration (there were tears involved, it was a kinda big deal). Since wedding chaos is finally done with, I’ve had a lot more time to get my knit on, just in time for sweater season! Jon even got a Forever Ribbed Rimu DK  scarf for his birthday.

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I only used three skeins of Rumi DK New Zealand possum yarn with US7 needles. The scarf really bloomed and formed an amazingly soft halo about it after I washed and blocked it. I put it in a lingerie bag and threw it in a cold wash with a couple of jeans then blocked to dry.

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Married life has been an adventure. All anxieties of bugging each other to death melted away after I realized that we’d be spending most of our time apart at work.Oddly, I’m finding more time to spend with friends and Jon and I count on dinners, evening Scrabble, and Sundays to really connect. And here I was afraid we’d want to run away from each other after a week of living together. Instead, finding unity takes effort, despite living under the same roof.

During our ceremony, we braided a cord of three strands, each cord represented Jon, God, and me, with God being the silver cord braided into the middle. I think it takes a lot of effort to put God in the middle of everything. Your personal life, your marriage, your knitting :). I’m hoping to find some more clarity on exactly how to do that, but I have a feeling that it’s a meticulous detailed process that takes much prayer and thought.

I’ve started a knitting ministry at my apartment. A come for the knitting, stay for God sort of thing. We had eight people show up and three of them are new knitters. The knitting fever spreads and I can’t wait to introduce these ladies to the wonders of merino and silk yarns. Despite competing with the holidays and finals, I feel that this is the perfect season to try and form a new community. Cold weather calls for knitting and tea! I hope that despite all the running around, these ladies find some delightful community in my tiny living room. I look forward to the upcoming weeks!

Ready for the first knitting ministry meeting #godisgood #knittingministry #biblestudy

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