after ‘burrow’-ing comes…

my word of 2016 was ‘burrow’. remember?

‘to dig in’,

‘to reach down deep’,

‘to surround myself with the things that make me feel safe and warm’,

‘to sort out the stuff weighing me down and emerge lighter and ready to rumble’,

and i did that

week after week in 2016, until i felt energized

and inspired. until i maybe even felt a little bit antsy for the next big thing.

then 2017 hit in all its political turmoil and dissension

but, along with that came new experiences,

new friends,

new freedom to explore,

new-to-me ideas and options.

it’s taken me nearly two months into 2017 to find the right word

but, here it is:

‘leap’.

yup, ‘leap’.

because it is time to jump into the things

that i want, but keep telling myself i am not ready for.

ha.

the ‘not skilled enough’ ‘not brave enough’ ‘not strong enough’ headgame

is something that i always have to ‘leap’ over to get anywhere.

do you?

i love old school toys,

especially the classic fisher price and playskool things.

as i poked about 2nd hand stores, i used to pick them up for my ‘future kids’

and now my actual kids love them

(it would have been ok if they didn’t-because i love them-but they do!).

my youngest was playing with this wooden mailbox the other day.

he carried it over to me and said,

‘there’s mail for you mama’.

i looked inside

to find my ‘mail’ which was this drawing:

do you know what it is?

i didn’t, so i had to ask. my youngest said,

‘it’s you, mama. you’re a bunny.’

normally, his pictures are much clearer, so i said,

‘why am i so blurry, baby?’

and he turned to me, tipped his head to the side a bit and said,

‘because you’re leaping. bunnies leap!’

and there it is, the word of 2017 is ‘leap’. you ready?

let’s do this!

‘leap’ taken from 22:29-31 of 2nd samuel.

cobalt blue

timing is so key.

just as the custom doll from threadpluslove arrived,

so did a skein of new cobalt blue gems fingering from louet!

now, my friend knitecochic

calls me ‘vibrant blue’ and the doll was designed to have short spiky hair like me…

so i knew immediately that this yarn would be a hat for her

(she is still nameless, btw,

if anyone has name ideas, feel free to comment below).

i’ve not always been a fan of fingering weight yarns.

my pinkies, of all things, always cramped up when i used thinner yarns,

but it turns out it’s the needle size that was the culprit,

not those beautiful fine yarns.

the color alone, was enough to draw me to the gems,

but turns out that the stitch definition is fab-u-lous as well. since i had a still model to try it onto (as opposed to a squirming child),

and as i was making the fit up as i went along,

i tried it on her many times and was continually impressed by the spring of the yarn

and how nicely it retained its shape.

soon as the hat

was finished, i packed it and the doll up and returned them to my mum

(the doll was to be a Christmas present from her to me).

when it finally was time to open the box and have her be mine for real

(oh how badly ‘she’ needs a name, guys),

the vibrant color of the yarn struck me as gold all over again.

it also occurred to me that perhaps some tiny little

bracelets should be next … right?

‘shape’ taken from 17:28-29 of acts.

note: a little of the nitty-gritty.

i was given this skein of louet gems fingering to review,

but, you know me, a free skein of yarn

isn’t ever going to make me say that i like what i don’t.

i am much too pig-headed to act anything like that. ever.

mystery solved

admittedly,

i am easily distracted.

this will come as no surprise to any of you.

so when i was driving down the road and saw this new, unexpected, sun spot

it grabbed my attention.

i actually had to pull over to keep from watching it dance and bob

instead of responsibly watching the road.

and i sat there a few minutes

twisting and turning myself about trying to locate the reflector until

the idea of reversing my i-pad camera came to me.

so i reversed and took a quick pic. lo and behold:it was my new magpie fibers Christmas necklace.

it is so cool.

and oh so functional since it opens up releasing

all those little metal circles which are useable stitch markers.

clever, right?

june cashmere

on small family farms

in the mountains of kyrgyzstan

nomadic shepherds tend to the elite goats

whose soft cashmere undercoats are used to make yarn.

and what a yarn this is!

it’s an example of the world’s harshest environments

producing the very softest natural fibers.

img_5911cashmere is, of course, known for it’s softness.

what surprised me about this yarn is its amazing stitch definition.

just look at how the cable motif

from amy van de laar’s

”beeswax mitts’

pops!

img_5922i’d rank this new to me cashmere yarn

right up there with my leslie wind cable necklace

and indian lake artisans’ hexagonal wooden needles

(and if you know my taste at all, you know that’s high praise).

want a skein for yourself?

follow this link and enter to win.

i’m ending here, as this lovely yarn is just begging me

to hunker down and knit a bit more before bed…

note: now for just a little of the nitty-gritty.

i was given this skein of june cashmere dk to review,

but, you know me, a free skein of yarn (even if it’s cashmere)

isn’t ever going to make me say that i like what i don’t.

i’m much too stubborn and pig-headed for things like that.

‘soft’ taken from 65: 9-11 in the psalms.

me, not her

i read a lot as a child.

reading was easier than the give and take of conversation,

where thoughts i had mustered up the courage to speak could be interrupted at any moment.

i think this fear of losing my train of thought

(because i had to take in someone else’s thoughts on my thoughts)

was one of the things that led me to write songs

and perform on stage.

you’re not supposed to stop

and listen to the hecklers when you perform.

i found that concept a very attractive one.

back to what i started with:

i read a lot as a child

and yesterday’s writing prompt

from jordan elishiva (who is running a #31poems challenge for the month of october)

was ‘drawing inspiration from books’.

so, i thought i’d pull the one

that inspired me most as a child off the shelf and reread it.img_5774

this was my absolute favorite when i was 9 or 10

and i had thought that i’d sort of ‘stole her style’

when i decided how to present myself

on this blog and in my writing.

rereading the now yellowed pages this morning,

i realized for the first time that i sound nothing like ann kiemel.

it was a big surprise to see how different my voice is from hers.

exciting to have found my own creative expression,

but scary, too.

there was something comforting in thinking

that i was only a shadow of her,

there is something very exposing in seeing

that i am just me

out here on

my own.

and it’s a good thing, i think,

it’s just gonna take a little time to wrap my head around.

thanks for sticking with me

while i suss it all out!

‘world’ taken from 19:1-4 of the psalms.

1+1=100% friends

i got so excited as i started reading

about the new ‘encounters’ capsule collection

that i asked of marie of olive knits and

brittney-jean of b.woolens if i could review

this newly released collaboration of theirs.encounters collage

although so many good points pull me into these pieces,

it’s their chosen theme of friendship

that holds my attention.

the designs themselves are based on what each of these two talented designers

feels, or thinks, or remembers about their friendship and its beginnings.

like marie’s ‘eavesdrop

and the reasoning behind the stitch patterns of brittney’s

conversate‘ and ‘palaver‘…

but, they tell the stories best in their own words

on their respective blogs here and here.

besides the common threads of friendship, all four pieces are made

in shibui knits yarns.

the rich muted colors speak volumes.

linen, alpaca, merino, flax, and silk are all in the mix here.

what great transitional fibers for gliding into this fall, no?

i’ve saved the pattern i like the very best

for last here.

simpatico‘ is done by choosing a color and a friend to knit it with.

then, near the end, you use some of your friend’s color

and they use some of yours.

isn’t that clever?

the way good friends

become a part of who you are yourself.

ooh, the symbolism (which you know gets me every time)!

i do so like this little capsule collection.

off to find a friend who’ll swap

their leftover with me

for ‘simpatico‘…

‘speak’ taken from 13:3 of proverbs.

travel ready

let me tell you a little story

from vacation with the cousins last month

that involves maine, and yarn, and math, and della q…ready?

after putting a pile of dirty clothes and the right number of quarters

into one of the big washers at the local laundromat,

i drove up the road a bit to

‘stone soup artisans’ on main street in saco.

this is a collaborative of maine artisans who all take turns manning the register

and being in the shop to fill the hours it’s open.

inside is photography,

jewelry made from beach rocks,

carved wood, pottery, sea glass, baby gifts,

and one basket filled with beautiful handspun yarns.

this is the wall hanging that is right behind the cash register:IMG_5664+

so true! when i asked the woman behind the counter if i might take a picture

(she obviously said ‘yes’), i noticed that she was

knitting a little baby sweater.

we started chatting

and it turned out that the lovely handspun yarn i had chosen to buy

was her yarn. she raised the sheep. she raised the alpacas. she spun it herself.IMG_5199sq

having lingered to talk to her about life at ‘ewe & i farm’ a little,

i was even more excited to get

back to the cottage and

cast on.

except, i had vacation brain. you know.

now i had the yarn, i knew i wanted a big squishy ribbed hat for me,

and my brain was refusing to do the arithmetiic.

so i did what anyone on vacation with my family would do,

i walked into the next room and asked my dad and my uncle jim to do the math for me.IMG_4985sq

they were a bit baffled by the parameters of what i wanted,

but they did the math anyway. thanks guys!

now all i needed was needles.

the exactly right needles.

normally on vacation i would not have had them with me.

normally i would have grabbed whatever was needed,

for the specific yarns i was packing,

and brought no more.

but, just before vacation my tri-fold circular needle case from della q had arrived.

i was so excited that i packed it up with my favorite needles

(from indian lake artisans) nestled inside.

i don’t have nearly enough of the lovely hexagonal needles to fill the case,

but now i can see clearly where the gaps in my collection are…

and i did have the exactly right 16″ 10.5 circulars that this new handspun needed.IMG_4980-1sq

i can’t really say strongly enough how convenient i find this case.

it packed well, it traveled well,

and it meant that i got to cast on asap

which every knitter knows always feels like such a good thing.

when the temps drop significantly below the upper 80’s,

i’ll get a pic of the hat in action for you.

for now, and in case you were wondering, let me say

that i did remember, with my new yarn snugly under my arm,

to pick up my laundry on the way back to the cottage,

but only because i had to drive right by the laundromat

and, i may have had to do a bit of a u-turn as well.

i did, never-the-less, remember the laundry.

‘travel’ taken from 13:21 of exodus.

note: now for just a little of the nitty-gritty.

i was given this circular needle case to review, but

i loved it so much that i went back and bought the matching dpn case asap.

and you know me,

a free case isn’t ever going to make me say that i like what i don’t.

i’m much too stubborn and pigheaded for things like that.

connecting

i continue to be surprised

in this day and age that holds such a plethora of ways

to connect.

by all the different ways getting to know people

happens.

i ‘met’ margaret

of little gidding farm suris via instagram.

she was posting pics of such vibrant yarn!

i commented and we started a little conversation…

that pretty quickly led to

gorgeous yarn in the mail headed my way.

this stuff is so soft and yet manages to have excellent stitch definition.

i started knitting with it and hardly put it down

until two new hat patterns were born.

szlak & szlakow, in ‘suri delight’

szlak and szlakow collagespeaking of ‘born’,

check out ‘lgfsuris’ on instagram to see the farm

and to ooh & aah over the adorable little baby suris.

i’m talking about seriously adorable here.

‘talking’ taken from 29:9 of genesis.

photo of ‘szlakow’ by blueeyedcrafty photography.

leslie of blueeyedcrafty photography wears ‘szlak’ above. 

ducks in a row

i like working

with double pointed needles.

i’m not a fan of magic loop, so i want to grab dpns quite often,

but mine are always in a bit of a jumble.

my dpns, on a typical day, look like this:IMG_4738sqit’s so frustrating to have the sizes worn off.

even though i used elastics to keep the sets together,

i’m still wasting time hunting for

what looks about right

sizewise,

and having to use the needle gauge to check.

so much ugh.

but, then i found dpn needle rolls by dellaq.

i’m not a girly girl,

and i’d seen other fabric needle holders before, i just didn’t like them.

too flowery, too cutesy, too much for me.

so when i saw this, i knew this was the one for me.IMG_4715sqcool pinstripes, dark buttons

and a stretchy elastic cord that adjusts to be

just the right size no matter

how many or how few dpns i load it up with? very, very cool.

when i did load it up, suddenly my dpn mess made some sense.IMG_4749sqwell, sort of.

except that i seem to have just one lone size 9?

and my five 7’s are different sizes?

no idea why.

still,

remember that first pic of my barely controlled dpn box?

(scroll back up if you want a refresher)

because now it looks like this:IMG_4769sqand looking like that, while all the while being fully functional

and ready to travel at a moment’s notice

is pure gold.

bring on the next project that

requires double pointed needles. i’m raring to go!

‘look’ taken from 35:5 of job.

woodlands scarf

it is always so interesting to me

to see where an idea started and how it ends up.

today, swan’s island company released their fall 2016 collection.

my ‘woodlands scarf’ is one of the pieces.

if you like the ‘behind the scenes’

part of stories, here

it comes.

i thought that swan’s island was looking for patterns for their bulky weight yarn.

i was wrong, but that’s what i thought at the time.

i love chunky yarns and that attracted me.

so, i sussed out a new cable swatch and sent it along to be considered.IMG_2115sq

and they wanted it in the collection,

but in worsted weight yarn.IMG_1474sq

submitting designs is funny like that.

i once had a super bulky weight design accepted,

but was asked to rewrite the idea for a dk yarn

and you know what? i couldn’t picture it, but it looked great.

creative directors have visions for things that

i can mostly not even begin to imagine.

i just love the woodlands scarf stitches all done up in worsted.IMG_2116sq

in natural colors merino worsted,

both the yarn and the stitches shine, but

i never would have thought to try it without a little

push in that direction.

the photo above is the center back of the scarf.

you knit from both ends and wind up in the middle

where you graft the two end lengths together

so that the cool cable happening occurs right in the very center of it.IMG_2114 up2as a perk for designing it, i get enough yarn

in the yarn and colorway of my choice,

to knit one to keep.

i chose the same yarn the original is in, because it was so nice.

now, how well do you know me? can you guess which of these

gorgeous colorways i chose for my own?

and which one would you choose?

‘keep’ taken from 18:28 of the psalms.