Tuesday, July 22, 2014

start again

Dear ace,

It is one of those perfect summer nights where red and gold fade to peach and violet, and the hazy lilac light lingers forever in the trees.  It is a comfortable 81F (27C) and thoughts of snow are far, far away.  

The cat is nosing around, looking for a cool spot.  The humidity is low and the night is quiet.  There is so much for which one can be grateful, including your not-crash-landing in Chicago. What a hair-raising experience!  I’m not ready for The Mindful Sheep - or the thread between us -- to end just yet. 

But how do I go forward now, with our long-dormant blog?  

Start again.

The knitter’s battle cry of never give up.  

Rip it, and start again.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do with the self-indulgence sweater.  Those stripes just have to be vertical!  Kaffee Fasset comes off the shelf, and pretty soon I will start on a side-to-side pattern.

Now here is a laugh --something I found at the supermarket in Germany! Someone thought this was a good idea. The customers did not agree, since these are already in the mark-down bin.  Maybe it’s the colorway the candlemaker chose, or maybe the whole concept of knitted candles.  I’d definitely start again!

Knitted Candles - Leipzig, Germany

For another mind-blowing knitting reframe, check out the photos my IG friend Simon sent me last April, around Easter -- yes, that is giant knitting, in the middle of the sanctuary of Renfield St. Stephen's in Glasgow. 

Now that summer is here, the congregation has a huge communal French-knitting project -- called Peacemakers -- going through August.  Simon sent some wonderful photos (I love the one with the person just entering the sanctuary) and a great video.  I really hope we get to see the end result! 

Simon says he works literally under the church, which sounds a bit weird and tomblike until you realize the building is a big complex which includes a conference center, a cafe, and is home to a number of outreach organizations, including Simon’s, Headway Glasgow.     Headway Glasgow provides information, resources, group support, activities and encouragement to brain-injured people, allowing them to start again.

A big, heartfelt thank you to Simon, and to Rev. Peter Gardner and his wife Heidi, for allowing us to post their inspiring work.  They literally weave the community together in so many ways,

We take so much for granted, ace, and we just shouldn’t. You certainly made that clear in your writing blog -- nothing like near-death to clarify one’s priorities!  So let us, too, start again.  I look forward to your next Sheepy post!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

time for a virtual coffee...

Dear DXZ,
It’s been too long since I picked up the virtual pen and got busy here at the TMS Central Office Location. For that, I’m sorry. As you mentioned in your previous post, things were hectic up till Christmas. And beyond, apparently.

I wish we lived closer to each other. Well, I always wish that, but today in particular.
If we lived closer together, I would invite you out for a coffee. As it is, I’ll invite you out for a virtual coffee. Please bring your virtual knitting project and we’ll make an afternoon of it!

Every so often it hits me that I live out here on the prairie with no family around. When there are no blood relatives around, we tend to make our own families, which I have done, to a great extent, but today I wish I had some of MY family around. It is a cold, rainy day – they say spring is right around the corner but it’s been a long, cold winter and I am doubtful. I am sitting in the CafĂ© at my local Barnes & Noble, watching the rain – having gotten a pardon from attending an outdoor High School Lacrosse game this afternoon. It would be nice if you were here.

This last week my Grandma passed away – she was 105 – and a half! A cool girl, in her day. I am that much closer to being the end of the line.
And as we come upon the anniversary of my Mother’s passing, the lack of family around becomes more magnified… March is a harsh month…

So, I guess I’m almost done with my actual coffee, some bookstore employees are eyeing me suspiciously (have I been here too long?). I’d best pull myself up by my bootstraps and get on with things. There’s laundry to be done at home, dinner to be made. But I will always make time to share coffee and knitting with you. Thanks for joining me on the journey…


Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The Mindful Sheep has been out to pasture for a couple of months, chewing her cud and ruminating. That is not to say she has been idle.

A bow of gratitude to ACE, my intrepid partner in line (both written and knitted) as The Mindful Sheep passed its one-year anniversary in October 2013.

Work for both ACE and me was especially hectic right up to Christmas. We both got colds. Bad colds.  In fact, The Cold that was sweeping the nation. We blew our way through the holidays, began to feel better, then got slammed again, both ending up on antibiotics. Nevertheless, gratitude was there: for our significant other, for our texting commiseration, and for the scientists who develop and the labs that manufacture, healing medicine.

As the holidays approached, I looked around my stash and was grateful to have so much fine fiber! Some of it became socks, some of it a one-skein prayer shawl keenly appreciated by the recipient.  But more than earthly abundance, I found myself dwelling on my lineage, the grandmothers and mothers and friends and web friends who have contributed bit by bit to the craft, each one teaching a small part of the pleasure that expands the mind, the creative eye, and the heart. For that, I am truly grateful.

Sheepy gratitude also abounded for handwork to keep us busy during the Polar Vortex, and for the courage to try new things.  For example: During some office space moves, several items belonging to my former boss (now retired) turned up.  Of course we would send them to him -- but knowing his sense of humor, I yarnbombed them first!

Essentially, I am a free-range knitter.  Patterns drive me a little nuts.  So it is with kudos and gratitude to Annie Modesitt that I mention her book Confessions of a Knitting Heretic .  Annie's book liberated me, particularly with this passage:

"You are not knitting wrong.  You knit better than you imagine! You can knit more beautifully than you ever dreamed.  The only thing stopping your hands is your mind.  Become a heretic.  Embrace the freedom of the knitting nonconformist.  Unleash your inner knitting heathen."

And so embrace the heretic I did.  I tossed out the pattern and frogged nearly an entire sweater body, sacrificing gladly the misshapen mess that the Self-Indulgence Sweater had become.  I worked up some measurements, and have started again, grateful for the freedom and relief I feel, forging my own path instead of punishing myself for not falling in line with the pattern.

So far, we are off to a great 2014.  It feels like a good year.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Do you ever browse for apps? I have to admit, I never had, until one day about a month ago when I ended up in the App Store for some reason and found the “best new apps” section. One small graphic caught my eye and when I read the description I was even more intrigued.
The app is called Lift. Here is a blurb from the Details section:
Lift works through positive reinforcement. If you can do something once, we can help you do it three times. If you can do it seven times, we can help you turn it into a habit. When you join Lift, choose habits that are most important to you and then set yourself the goal of making it through seven days. We’ll help you take it from there.
What the heck, I thought, I’ll give it a try. I’m not sure I’d say I need to change any habits per se, but I thought it would be interesting to use this to set goals to get certain things done. I downloaded the app and signed up.
You can set goals for yourself in Lift. You can search goals or activities that are already in the app (9,865 have the goal to “Make Bed,” 52,476 people have the goal of “Meditate” and interestingly only 18 people have the goal to “Knit every day”). Or you can add brand new goals. I made up “Write a 100 word story” and “Eat a piece of chocolate.” I added existing things like “Call my dad” and “Read the New Yorker” and also things like “Spend time outside,” “Write for 30 minutes,” “Zumba,” and “Stop and enjoy life.”
Another thing you can do is view recent accomplishments of other people in the Activity feed. You can give “Props” to people for their recent activity, and you can follow people if you have other friends on Lift or find random folks who seem interesting. (One criticism I have is that if you “follow” someone, you only see their feed and not the random public stuff anymore. I like the random stuff so I've not been able to “follow” anyone. Oh well.)
You can also see a summary of what activities you have accomplished and how many times you've accomplished them (I have been to the gym 16 times!).

Some observations about Lift:
  1. It’s actually interesting to see what people decide is important in their lives and how often they manage to accomplish it. Someone posted this 9 minutes ago: “Eat Fruit for the 33rd day in a row! (Pear).” Or this from 18 minutes ago: “Learn something about growing food for the 2nd day in a row! (“Look at them grow! And it’s only day 5. See that cress compared to yesterday!)” And this 19 minutes ago: “Sleep by midnight for the 25th time (11:59 whew)." Some entries are quite poignant – lots of people try to be grateful for something every day (I saw one earlier by someone who was grateful for his grandfather’s overcoat – so sweet!)
  2. Some entries are just TMI. I won’t point any of those out.
  3. You could argue that both points 1 and 2 are all just TMI. Is Lift just another forum for the self-obsessed culture we've become? Does anyone really give a damn how many times I sit down to knit?
  4. I'm not sure what my answer to #3 is. But I do know that when I look at my own activity, I am somewhat disappointed by the infrequency with which I accomplish things I consider important. Since I joined Lift, apparently I've only “Spent time outside” once (I don’t count going to the mailbox) and have only stopped to “Be grateful for something or someone” 7 times. At the very least this helps me see how I use my time and it does make me more aware of what I’d like to focus on. I’ll go have a piece of chocolate while I post this to TMS and then I think I can check off 3 more activities in Lift today.


Friday, October 4, 2013

get thee to a knittery!

Fall is upon us!

Leaves are turning color. Warm days give way to nippy nights. It is that time of year, when the itch to knit become irresistible – and our LYS is there to help us (but certainly not to cure us!)

This weekend, October 4, 5, and 6, East Coasters can participate in the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl 2013 (information here). Bushels of luscious colors and textures await, with some pretty nice discounts and special events at the 15 participating LYS!

My local LYS – The Island Yarn Company –  will have a prize jar, sample sale, free patterns, a teach-in (Gayle will demonstrate the Mobius cast-on and cowl), and local sourcerers:  designer Rachel Henry with A Hundred Ravens will bring out some gorgeousness on October 5, and October 6, Kate from Harrison Wheelworks will spin in-store as well as bring a stash of handspuns for the Crawl -- you'll get first dibs!  

For those of you in the Tulsa area, you absolutely must check out Loops – both Utica and South.  Rumor has it that this weekend the Utica store will debut the first skeins of Loops' own Private Label fiber.  And everyone has a standing invitation to come and pet the yarn!

While researching today's post, I scanned the back entries in The Island Yarn Company blog and ran across a moving ode to the community LYS create.  It is worth a read .  Sure, we can get cheaper stuff on-line – but when was the last time a website actually cared about your dropped stich or guided you through a sticky pattern?  LYS are the heart-blood of our craft.  They deserve our support.

So make the time this weekend and Get Thee to a Knittery, Go!

Recent Projects

Monday, September 9, 2013

who AM i???

Well… this summer didn’t go at ALL as I had planned. My initial thought is: Darnit!
I didn’t get to go to Belize. My Southern California vacation got cut short. And the worst part of all – I have had to stop knitting and crocheting!!
Oh this is just so frustrating y’all. I can’t even begin to tell you. It’s not like I have a lot of time to knit these days but a girl always likes to have the option, you know? And now…nothing.
I have tendonitis in my right thumb. I did it to myself by making a series of pen drawings and holding the pen too tightly. And then I made it worse by not stopping the repetitive motion of knitting/crochet before really messing it up.
I think there’s still hope that someday I might get it back to “normal” – but for now I can’t bend it and I’ve been banned from some of my favorite hobbies. 
I've visited the doctor and the acupuncturist. And like I said, I’m still a bit hopeful that someday I’ll be able to get back to normal stuff. But in the meantime, it’s caused me to reevaluate things, at least on a short-term basis.
I have defined myself as a knitter for a very long time. I am a knitter. A Yarn-Bomber. A Fiber Enthusiast. But now all I can do is look at my stash longingly and then glare at my immobilized thumb menacingly.

Who am I if not a knitter?

Being forced to ask myself this question over the summer has actually been beneficial. I have had to look at things a little differently – due to my injury, and due to the various family circumstances that interfered with my vacations. And here’s what happened.
1.  The Boyfriend and I have decided to move in together. This is fabulous news! Life is short and why not shack up with the most awesome guy ever. I am going to rent out my house, and move in with him, and then we’ll do some remodeling. I’m really looking forward to making a home with this person. The process has begun.
2. I recently remembered that I have a Cricket Loom in my closet. I bought it a few years ago and my Dad kind of showed me how to use it once, but I got frustrated quickly and it was at a time when my mom was sick and my attention span wasn't the greatest. However, I’m very interested in weaving some art pieces with all the weird scrap yarn I have (and Aunt DXZ gave me some fun things to weave with too – thanks Aunt!)
3.  I also remembered that I sort of liked sewing. Not clothes or anything – that stuff is too complicated for me. It’s like you need to know Geometry to sew clothing. I’m out. BUT – I’m interested in making some other practical things, like cloth napkins, or table runners and also I’m interested in the technique of quilting. I don’t want to make any granny-type traditional quilts – but rather more free-form things, or more modern designs with big blocks of color or something.
4.  Last weekend I bought a beginner’s Cross-Stitch kit. I kind of stink at cross-stitch to begin with, and the fact that my eyes are getting weird (read: OLD) and my “multi-focal contacts” still can’t get close-up focusing right – these things are not in my favor so cross-stitch might not stick, but I was desperate. Desperate for something yarn-ish.
5. I thought I had given away my mom's knitting machine, but I didn't! I did, however, accidentally throw away part of it... so I'll have to see if it's something I can order separately otherwise I'm still out of luck. But maybe a knitting machine can be manipulated even while wearing a thumb brace...!?

The amount of planning and coordination and time involved in Point #1 means I haven’t had time or space to really investigate Points 2, 3 or 5. But they’re on the radar! And Point #4 – well, we’ll see how that goes…
So, I have lots of things to look forward to and lots and LOTS of things to do. I’ll be careful not to make my thumb worse as I try to get all this stuff done.
It’s nice to know that even though things don’t always turn out the way I want them to, things can still be OK. Plus, I might just discover some more things that I really enjoy doing, But I’d still like to be able to bend my thumb.

And I may not have gotten to spend as much time as I’d have liked on the beach this summer. But that’s OK. Maybe I’ll take this Friday off and go to the Mall.


Thursday, August 8, 2013


It is easy to admire the great knitters of the past. They made all the warm clothing for their families, kept creative fires burning, invented all the great decorative stitches, and passed on the love from parent to child.
But some knitters just take the cake.  I was reading Social Life in Old New England and this story just lept off the page:
“Sammy Samples and Elizabeth Allen of Manchester, Massachusetts, were aided in their wooing by a dream, which came to him in Scotland and to her in her New England home.  She . . . was in “meeting” when her lover first clapped his eye upon her . . . . she made no difficulties. Later, when left a widow, Elizabeth married Colonel Crafts of Revolutionary fame and kept a thriving inn. 
"Even then hers was an adventurous and colorful life.  Once, when sailing on a packet to Boston for her supplies, and improving her time by knitting, the sail of her craft veered suddenly and she was plunged into the sea.  Tradition says she still kept on knitting and took seven stitches under water before being rescued.”
(Mary Caroline Crawford; Boston, Little Brown, and Company, 1914. Library of Congress http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001261680

Elizabeth Craft, no question: you win the Intrepid Knitter Award for all time!
Ms. Craft's story is an object lesson in focus, centeredness in adversity, and the fully female trait of having to get things done regardless of cost to self.  A word to the wise, Elizabeth: It is ok to call for help.
Willingly will I “improve” my time with knitting; but don’t count on me to do it underwater.