Monday, July 3, 2017

Up and Down


Summertime is in full swing. We're all very ready for Daddy to be home, but we're trying to make the most of the longer days with as much fun and adventure as possible. (This includes more regular visits to our favorite ice cream shop, since they moved recently and expanded their vegan flavor line up.)



June is a birthday month for two of us, so that was celebrated with cupcakes for her and sundry adventures for me - coffee, knitting, alone time, a "love local" scavenger hunt coordinated by a long-distance friend...


...and a delightful weekend on a mountaintop with a group of ladies from our church. The retreat was lovely, but I'm back down now, and attempting to use these last few months of solitary evenings as best I can.


We've discovered bookstore story times, so that's a thing now - fewer people than the library has for story times, and also something to do on a Saturday because I'm usually out of ideas by that point. We're still going to the library so they can sticker their little reading logs, but that's a midweek excursion, bracketed by trips to various grocery stores. (Why can't one store have all the things we need?!)


I finished a nice stack of knits last month, and I have a long queue for this month. Since it's all the sort of thing that I can carry around and work on, I'm going to try only working on one thing at a time and see if that gets me finished any faster. Despite my dislike of doing socks two at a time (I find it demoralizing and slow), I generally move back and forth between multiple projects at a time. I've got a semi ridiculous goal of completing a project every 7 days, but two of those are baby sweaters and another one is over half finished, so we shall see.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blessing...


As an introvert, I prize my time highly. I don't like to waste it with trivial interactions, and after awhile even meaningful conversations become draining and I have to go off by myself to recharge. When I get that alone time, I have a set list of things that I do which provide the highest return for the least input, and knitting is one of them.

For years I was a selfish knitter - which is simply the term for someone who does not knit for others. So much goes into it, and there are so many more things I'd like to make than time in which to make them, that it just made sense. If you want something, I'll teach you how to knit it for yourself.

But lately I've seen a shift in my perspective. It started when I was destashing (sorting through all the unused yarn that I had/have stored in boxes in my closet) a couple of months ago. I made a nice list of projects that I could do over the summer that would use up the yarn I already had, and actually made the first few things on it.

And then things started to come up. Mother's Day. A birthday. A charity project. A friend in need of encouragement. The list was laid aside, and while I was still using up yarn that I already had, the motivation had shifted from making space so I can buy more to I already have this, what's the maximum positive impact it can have?

So even though I spend my evenings alone, I'm still using that time to cultivate a sort of community - and seeking to be a blessing to others, with the gifts that I've been given; both the ability to knit, and the supplies to do it with.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday!

Give It All Away



June has been a month of knitting for others. I've finished two baby sweaters to donate {using this pattern}, and have yarn for several more. They've been taking me about a week to do, so I still have time to move my stash out of my closet and onto a baby. Knitting for babies is great - they improve everything they get close to.



So that I don't risk burning out (which is a thing that I've learned about through experience) I took the end of the month off sweaters and focused on finishing unfinished things. First a Brazen for a friend undergoing chemo this summer - I worked on it in the movie theater a couple of times, and managed to keep track of what row I was on by crossing my legs strategically (right over left - first row; left over right - second row; legs apart - third row; repeat) since I couldn't actually see what I was doing. Nevertheless, it turned out nicely, I think, and I hope she likes it.



I had started another Dotted Rays a few months ago for travel knitting when I went to see my Bear, and then set it aside when I got home. I got it out for a weekend retreat and made lots of good progress - I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I can't wait until it's cold again and I can wear it with my pink coat! I am keeping this one, but it gave my hands something to do while my heart was taking in some fairly intense stories and adventures.

I'm going to use the last two days of this week to make as much progress as possible on the Modern Nymph I started awhile back with leftover linen from various other projects - and then it's back to baby sweaters!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Worth...


Whenever I post a photo of something I've just finished knitting - especially if it is large, difficult, or time consuming - one of the first reactions is either you should sell those! or can I buy it? I know they mean well, and I have gifted some knits, exchanged them for whatever the other person is good at that I'm not, or (less frequently) sold them.

But it's rarely worth it. A color called to me - it asked to become a specific item, which I either found or created a pattern for - and then every inch and every mile of the yarn slipped through my fingers, stitch upon stitch and row upon row, until it became a Thing. By the time it's finished, I've developed a relationship with it, and it's generally a positive, healthy one. Regulating any part of that process (I love it! Can you make it pink? or fuzzy? or bigger? or..?) disrupts the joy.

Knitting to me is art and expression - and it's also worship. It's how I process things, and it's how I give. I'm happy doing charity knitting or making something for a friend (both of which define current projects), but if it's forced, it's not a gift anymore. It becomes an obligation, and the wrong kind of sacrifice. The "laid across a stone and had your heart cut out" kind, instead of the "bringing the best of what you have to give" kind.

Because I firmly believe that thoughts and feelings get tangled up in the work. They certainly do in a literal sense - tension creates tight stitches, inner turmoil creates uneven ones - and I can't help thinking that the frustration I process while I knit ends up a part of the finished piece. I want to create beautiful things, not toxic ones, and that sometimes means saying no to people - people who don't understand, and sometimes people who do. But I want the things I make for others to be filled with love rather than resentment, a beautiful thing worth admiring as the gift that it is.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

52 Lists: things you would change if you could

For me, the best place for a fresh start or to begin a new project is on my birthday - the beginning of my year. So the year I was 21, I did a photo a day project (that ended up including an internship in Cleveland, meeting/dating my now-husband Adam, and going to New York to work for Vogue Knitting - so I'm retrospectively glad that I committed to documenting that particular year!), and the year I was 24, I knitted the sky (one row on a scarf each day in the color of the sky). So for 27, I'm doing lists. I'm going to roughly follow along with the book The 52 Lists Project.


A list of the things I would change in my life right now if I could


1. This question.

But really. If it's something that needs to be changed, that I can affect change toward, then I'm doing it. If it needs to be changed but I can't, then there's no point speculating. 

Yes, I'm an INTJ, why do you ask?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Four





Leader, artist, reader, beauty-chaser - happy birthday, Brooklyn, I can't wait to see the magic you continue to make!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Expect...


There's a funny thing that happens when you're a known knitter. I know that mechanics and photographers, among other professions, experience this as well: people expect to benefit from your skill, for free (or at least at a greatly reduced cost). It's my favorite backhanded compliment. Wow! That looks amazing! You're so talented! Will you make me a [generally complicated, time-consuming, and/or expensive item]?

We've been conditioned to expect things to be handed to us freely. I give you money or praise, you give me Thing. But that's not how it should be. What if we all recognized the abilities that we each have, instead of dismissing our own talents as worthless, and also extended a greater level of appreciation to other people's? I think that both of those are important factors. Because if I don't see the value in what I can do, how can I value someone else's work? If I'm constantly putting down my own abilities - oh, it was nothing, really - then I will unconsciously do the same to others.

I find that I'm most attuned to beauty in others when I am most secure in my own - and the same applies to my particular art. When I can recognize the practice and talent that goes into my skill set, I am also more attuned to it in others. Gratitude and appreciation wash away entitlement when I realize that while I may not be able to paint or cook or any number of other things that I'm interested but not proficient in, I do have something of value to offer in exchange.

Really, we all do. That thing you may consider weird is the more valuable in its uniqueness - and that skill which comes so naturally that you consider it commonplace may not be so common as you think.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday!