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

The Mountains Are Calling

The Mountains Are Calling

Picture heavy post! Knitting photos near the bottom!

Last week Jonathan and I went on our one year anniversary trip! We decided to take advantage of our anniversary’s proximity to Labor Day and delay our trip until September. Thursday night, after work, we jumped in the car and drove west as long as we could (three hours!) That made the remaining six hours to Boulder, Colorado much more enjoyable. We’d heard a lot of people mention how boring the drive from KC to Boulder was; I’m not sure what they were talking about though.

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I find windmills facinating

We loved the entire drive! It was amazing to see all of the farm land, cattle, and windmills going on and on for miles. The most delightful part of the drive was undoubtedly the sunflowers. Kansas is the sunflower state, after all. We had to take advantage of the fields of flowers along the interstate.

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Is it illegal to stop on the interstate like this? 

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Of course, the interstate sunflowers had nothing on the flowers alongside the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. This was one of the most breathtaking views of our entire trip, and we’d only just arrived!

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While we were driving, I pulled out my unfinished NaKniSweMo from last year. I figured that the mountains in fall would be a great opportunity to wear the sweater for the first time! I managed to finish steeking the sweater before hitting the road, and the entire drive up was spent weaving in ends, knitting on a border, and sewing on buttons. Phew.

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On the second day of our trip, we decided to do a day hike up the FlatIrons to the Royal Arch. What was supposed to be a two hour morning hike turned into a four hour, five and a half mile, strenuous hike at extreme elevation (my sweet husband didn’t check the map). It was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done before, but Jon and I stuck it out together! We took hundreds of photos and drank two liters of water while going up, up, up. Near the end, I started to wonder if the view at the top could possibly be worth the pain, but we pushed on anyways!

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So close to the top!

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Top of the arch, I’m sitting inside of it. Yes, those are knitting needles in my hand. 

Sadly, by the time we made it to the top of the mountain, storm clouds were rolling in, we were starving, and the sun was setting. We had no time for photos so we rushed down (which was surprisingly more emotionally trying than going up) and finished off our night with a fancy dinner and lots of drinks.

The next day, we decided to drive back up the trail and do some laid back sightseeing. I was pretty exhausted, but the pictures were so so worth it. I present my Oranje sweater!

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The Knitimg_2538

This was my first ever fair isle project. I go big, right? This yummy sweater is knit on a US6 with sport weight yarn. I used Debbie Bliss’ Fine Donegal which is technically a fingering weight yarn. However, the single ply wool is rather heavy and I managed to hit the same gauge on the sweater as if I’d used a true sport weight. img_2537

I’ll be upfront, this sweater has some of flaws to it. The armpits have little give to them, so when I lift my arms, the whole sweater comes with me. And seeing as this was my first time working fair isle, the yoke is a tad snug. I’m re-blocking the sweater and am going to re-seam the armpits again in hopes of having a bit more give. I think this will ultimately be a success. I have faith since the first time I blocked the sweater (before steeking which I highly recommend) it went from frumpy to fabulous. The collar could also probably stand to be blocked a little higher as well. img_2536

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I really love the brown button border of this sweater, but honestly, it’s a little finicky. It takes a day and a half for me to button this up proper, and the mass of buttons leads to gapping (though this could possibly be remedied with blocking). The fair isle often doesn’t line up if my buttons are askew-as you can see in the photo above. A part of me wishes I’d been patient and waited to get home to put in a zipper, but I wanted this to be done so so badly! And I love the brown highlights too much to not have them.

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Tucking my floats

Overall, I adore this sweater. The flaws in it are small fish compared to the amount of effort and time I put into this. I learned a lot while knitting this, like how to “tuck my floats” on the yoke so that there’s not a mass of loose strands inside the sweater waiting to be snagged. I did my first steek (you can check out the video here on my instagram) and I learned how to do a proper steek column so that you aren’t terrified while cutting!!! After hiking up a mountain, I feel safe in saying that this is an epic sweater that is worthy of the Dutch knitting traditions Ann Weaver based the design on. I would totes heard sheep while wearing this sweater, up a mountain even.

I’m so glad that I decided at the last minute to finish it on the car ride to Boulder. This will be a wardrobe stable for my first winter in KC. For me, this represents a new benchmark in my knitting. I learned so much while making this. I was so careful to get gauge and make size adjustments as needed so my effort wouldn’t be wasted. This makes my old work feel like child’s play, and I think I’ve finally kicked down the door to “a knitted wardrobe” instead of just lacey accessories, sorry Darling Emma. I’m ready to take my knitting to the next level. I still have a painful amount to learn (like seriously how to get more ease into these armpits). But I’m happy to learn from my mistakes and enjoy the journey, but right now, I’m just gonna wear my sweater and feel baller.

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Yes, It IS your grandmother’s knitting.

Winter Stash

Hi, lovies! Jon and I just got back from our one year anniversary trip! I have so much to tell you! But after a 16hour round trip drive, climbing a mountain, and all the laundry, I’m still recovering. Until then, here’s a post about my winter yarn stash!

Since moving to KC, I’ve made a lot of effort to get my yarn stash under control. Post-moving finances aside, I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I had. It was no longer something to delight in, but a burden to haul through. I mean, seriously.

When one organizes a yarn closet, one must first pull everything onto the floor #realtruth #knittersofinstagram

It would appear that six garbage bags of yarn is the thin wooly line between abundance and overstuffed. I’ve indefinitely tightened the purse strings on my yarn budget. I’ve bought 12 skeins of yarn in 9 months. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but considering I used to spend hundreds of dollars on bags of yarn (I’m talking entire paychecks and half the sale’s rack) this is an amazing feat. I also have to throw in, three of those skeins were a birthday present for myself, so they don’t count. Mhm.

Buying less yarn, though a good start, did little to reduce the absurd amounts of yarn I already had. After a few teeth gritting sessions of self restraint, I’ve become a monogamous knitter. One project at a time, get it done and on to the next. I’ve also relaxed my expectations on what is humanly possible to knit in a single season. When I stopped expecting myself to knit 20 pairs of socks and 1,000 sweaters in a three month period, I was able to better focus on the knitting I actually had going on and could just get it done. I used to spend my “knitting” time browsing Ravelry trying to assign projects to all of my yarn and create a queue. All the while I would have about 8 unfinished projects languishing in the corner. No more of that

I think what’s helped the most, though, is dividing my yarn up by seasons. This spring and summer, my winter yarns were packed away in the back of my closet while my “summer” yarn (lace weights, bright pinks, silks ect ect) lived in a large wicker basket under my desk. This made everything seem more doable. I diligently worked at knitting down this basket, while neither thinking about the winter yarn in the closet, nor expecting that I could knit through all the spring and summer yarns. This week, with the undeniable scent of fall in the air, I unpacked my winter yarns and placed the summer ones in the back of the closet. Until next year, my pretties!

It’s so exciting and refreshing to cast eyes over all of this delicious yarn that I haven’t seen for months! And what a delight to see so many piles of sweater yarn! And all in worsted and aran weight. Bliss. I’m itching to cast on and it feels like I have a clean slate for the cold weather season without having all of my yarn mixed in together, haunting me, judging me. Check out my winter stash!

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Camino Bubbles- Fire and Ice

I have a lace addiction. Truly. I believe most of my stash is made up of lace and fingering weight yarn. I have a sweater’s worth or two of worsted weight yarn, but if you close your eyes and take a random draw from my stash you’ll most likely pull out a 500yd skein of kettle dyed lace. I can’t help it. It’s so rewarding to knit an entire shawl or sweater out of one skein of yarn. And the way light shines through lace? Mm, to die for.

img_5308After finishing my commission, I was really excited to cast on for a “quick knit”. Though, after that sweater, anything could be considered quick. The Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley is only 89 stitches wide though, so it seemed very inviting. This was a glorious knit and the drop stitch bubbles were addicting!

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The Yarn

I used two skeins of Jilly Lace: Dream in Color. I’m completely sold on this brand. This will be the fourth project I’ve knit using their yarns. The blue is ‘Blue Fish’ and the brilliant orange is ‘Great Pumpkin’. The skeins are 880yds each and 100% merino wool. Yum. There’s actually enough yardage on these skeins to knit two Camino Bubbles! The yarn is a touch sticky/grabby because it’s single ply, however, the bubble stitches were easy to drop. The colors of this yarn are so vivid and saturated that I was terrified they would bleed (especially the blue) from even wet blocking. The yarn claims to be machine washable though, so I went ahead and soaked this shawl and pinned it down. There was no bleeding and I didn’t notice any color leaking while it was in the sink. Nevertheless, I don’t think this shawl will ever be thrown in the washing machine, dab clean only!

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The Pattern

Oh, Keiran Foley, what a beautiful mind you have…I’m constantly amazed by how he uses dropped stitches and lace to create amazing shapes in negative space. If you haven’t already, check out his website and blog it is very drool worthy. Camino Bubbles is a very simple charted pattern. It includes written instructions, but I truly think it would be harder to knit this if you only follow the written instructions. The chart is much easier to use. You have one set up chart(A), chart B is repeated as many times as you want, then a finishing chart(C). That’s all!IMG_2361

The Knit

I was delighted to find that after doing a few repeats of chart B, I didn’t need the pattern anymore. It was very easy to see where dropped stitches needed to go and the only thing I really needed to keep track of was how many rows I did on each repeat.I carried this shawl around with me everywhere and whipped it out if I ever had a minute or two to knit. I could stop in the middle of a drop stitch row and pick it back up an hour later and know exactly where I was! The pattern is very repetitive and self explanatory, which I love. Dropping the stitches was so fun. There was a primal satisfaction in finishing the last chart repeat and pausing to pull and stretch the shawl, watching as the yarn unraveled to reveal a perfect bubble. I goofed a few times and dropped the wrong stitches or one stitch too many, nothing my handy dandy crochet hook couldn’t fix. I would absolutely recommend “popping” the bubbles as you go, to make sure that you don’t have any stray dropped stitches.
As far as alteration go, I  knit this shawl longer than the pattern sample. I believe the sample had 7 repeats of chart B, I did 9.5 for a post-blocking size of 72″ long. I think it goes without saying that this is a must block project. It’s all scrunched up and awkward after casting off. I blocked this to two times it’s size after casting off and the length of the shawl took up my entire balcony. After drying, it settled to a very comfortable size. I love shawls that are at least 60″ wide. I feel like 72″ is just enough extra length to really work with the shawl style wise. The pattern also has an option for a 130st wide shawl.

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This is an A+ pattern, and I highly recommend it! It’s a brilliant use of dropped stitches and the shawl is very dynamic in lace weight. A perfect summer shawl that I will absolutely make again. Also, “Finding Nemo” colors 😉

Fall is fast approaching (see the dead leaves in the background?) and I’m eager to cast on for fall knits. Despite a few more weeks of heat, I’m already in an autumn mindset. I can smell pumpkin and chilly nights on the wind and my fingers are itching for wool and textured oversized sweaters. Have you cast on for fall yet? Or are you hoping to complete one more summer knit? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, knit on!

 

P.S I have a new guest in my home…

A Note on Commissions

I think when you make an agreement to do a project for someone, you should prioritize that project. I believe it to be a sign of maturity and professional courtesy to place personal projects on hold and attempt to finish your customer’s project as quickly as possible and with your very best of effort. Especially if you’re being paid.

For the past three months I’ve been working on a commission for a LYS. A customer injured her shoulder and wanted her sweater completed for her, the LYS asked me to do it and I happily agreed. I had ten to twelve weeks to complete the work and I was told I would make a certain amount of money for making it. We had a verbal agreement. The sweater, the grey thing, was two thousand yards of various moss stitches in a size extra large knee length jacket. In grey. The instructions were beyond convoluted (if you have to say “at the same time” 5 times for one part of your sweater, you need a pattern rework ) and I had to start over three times just to get past the yoke. But I finished it. Here it is:

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Yep, I wouldn’t even do a photo shoot for that. Blurry instagram with me looking like I’ve been awake for four days is all you’re getting.

I took the sweater in to the LYS and handed it over. Three months. Almost all of spring and summer that could have been spent knitting cute tops and headbands. She hands me a check. I almost fall over. It is significantly short of our agreed on price, over $100 short. We discuss this and come to find out that they have a ceiling on how much they pay for commission work. I ask why she agreed to pay me more if she wasn’t actually going to, she gives me a rambling half answer. I’m a bit dumbfounded and realize there isn’t much I can do. Hold the customer’s sweater hostage and demand more money? That wouldn’t be fair to the customer who had no part in our financial deal. It would also be unseemly for me to stand there and argue. I wouldn’t win even if I did. I took my check with a smile and walked out, ignoring her offer for me to work a few Saturdays a month if I ever wanted to.

I was angry. I feel cheated and used and like an entire season of knitting was stolen from me. I sulked over this for an entire day. Now that I’ve had time to process this whole affair, and cast on for another project, I have a few notes to share with fellow knitters who might be new to doing commissions.

  1. Communication is a must

To be honest, this was not my first experience with this LYS. I previously did a commission for the shop and was paid the amount I asked for. However, when we first set up the deal, she informed me that she paid on a sliding scale. $.25-$.75 a yard based on the difficulty of the project. When I finished the project, I asked to be paid $.35 for the 1,000 yard project. She informed me that the maximum they pay for commissions was $250. I reminded her about the sliding scale. “Mhm, yeah…we usually only pay $250 though. I’ll pay you what you want this time though.” She never explained to me why she told me I would be paid on a sliding scale if she obviously had no intention of doing that.

Whenever I did work for this shop, it took me weeks to be paid after I’d already dropped off my finished item and we had terrible communication. It took her nearly three weeks to pay me for my first commission job. I called the shop multiple times, had to give her my address three times so she could mail me a check, and I went to the shop twice to pick up payments and she’d forgotten to leave the money for me. I once went to the shop to try and be paid, she stayed on the phone for twenty minutes with me standing there waiting and I finally had to leave, without payment, to make it to an event on time.

All this to say, if you and the customer you’re working for have terrible communication, don’t agree to work for them. It was stupid of me to persists in working for someone who would never answer my calls or have the courtesy to have my check waiting for me in a timely manner. If you can’t even have two minutes of the person’s time to ask questions or be paid, don’t bother.

2. The faintest ink is better than the strongest memory

As I said above, there was a lot of back and forth about what I would be paid for my work and I really had to go out of my way to get my paychecks. In hindsight, I can’t believe I never just had the gall to ask her “So, before I start, how much are you paying me for this?” It is not rude to confirm before hand how much the person thinks your time and energy is worth. If they think it’s rude to ask, don’t work with them. Take a few minutes and type up a simple contract for the both of you to sign. Nothing crazy, something simple will work fine as hard documentation of your agreement.

“I, so and so, agree to pay so and so x amount of monies for the completion of such and such by this date.” See? Simple.

Discuss  the yardage of the project you will be doing, the difficulty of the work and the amount of time it should take before agreeing to anything. Get all of the information about the project you need  while face to face with the person, it wouldn’t hurt to include these things in the contract as well. You’ll seem like a true professional if you do this; it’ll be an accurate reflection of the fact that your time and effort is valuable and you take your job seriously. If the person is turned off by this. Don’t work with them.

3. Be honest

Be honest with yourself and your customer. Tell them how much you think your work is truly worth. Don’t undersell yourself to get more work or overcharge to bleed your customer dry. This is a business transaction, not a blood sport. It should be pleasant and simple. If you really hate the project and think it’ll be a drag to do, let the person know upfront and ask to be paid accordingly. Don’t agree to a price that won’t make up for all the grumbling and complaining you’ll be doing while knitting on the project. If the person isn’t willing to pay you more, request to have a longer amount of time to complete the project or simply decline to do the work. You aren’t a slave, your time and skill are valuable. There is no shame failing to come to an agreement and simply declining to do the project.

4. Work hard

There is shame, however, in taking way too long to do a project and not doing your best. The grey thing was knit for a customer using the LYS to get her work done. In other words, me slacking on the sweater, not making it just right, or deliberately taking way too long to finish would be totally unfair to the customer. She had nothing to do with my failure to do business properly or the LYS underpaying me. If you’ve agreed to do something, do it. Don’t back out half way because you don’t like it anymore, or argue over payment after the work is already done. Have all your ducks in a row before even picking up your needles

Honestly, I know there is a lot of contention over knitting for pay. There is a plethora of knitters who are underpaid for their work and it is often very difficult to find a happy medium. I’m glad I’ve had this experience, though. I truly believe it will help me do business better in the future and have a more discerning eye for the work I’m asked to do and how much my skill is worth. Knitting should always bring joy, even commissioned work, but it’s not the responsibility of the customer to ensure your happiness and satisfaction. You must stand up for yourself and not be afraid to say ‘no’. Will I work for this yarn shop again? Probably not. Will I do more commissions? Totally. Will I get burned again? Maybe, but I’ve learned to take my work more seriously now, and hopefully I’ll be better prepared to deal with a transaction in the future.

I really hope my inexperience helps a few of you out there who are exploring the world of knitting for pay. Please don’t make the same silly mistakes I did, but more importantly, stay happy with your knitting- no matter what you get out of it.

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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