Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Knitting Inspiration

Where did September go? This morning, the day of the Fall Equinox, a thunderstorm is in progress, bringing a change in recent warm temperatures. The word equinox originates from two Latin words, aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night. Today the hours of day and night are equal but tomorrow the northern hemisphere begins the turn toward shorter days. Fewer hours of light cool the earth and bring winter to our doorstep. Word origin aside, I am ready to bite into a crisp apple from a local orchard. Autumn is my favorite season. I prefer crisp cool temperatures of sweater weather. I haven't worn any wool socks yet but I will be pulling them on soon.

I read a blog called My Sister's Knitter. I enjoy Andi's photos and notes on knitting and life in general. Last December, a knitter in her Ravelry group created an informal knit along challenge to knit a pair of socks a month in 2015. The idea was to put twelve different skeins of sock yarn into twelve paper bags. Then each month, the knitter chooses a skein to knit a pair of socks. The socks knit from a variety of yarns, patterns, and colors are great inspiration. While I don't knit a pair of socks each month, I usually have a pair in progress. The small project is a good way to fill travel or waiting time. Though I admire the intricate textures and designs, I knit repetitive easy to memorize sock patterns. Having my hands occupied in rote movement frees up my thoughts. I keep small notepads in my knitting bags in order to make notes about a project. Sometimes I set the knitting aside to jot down an idea or thought that becomes part of a poem or at least begin to solve a challenge in a piece of writing.  

Last Saturday evening while listening to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, I finished the Frosty Garden Socks. Inspired by Andi's blog, I took a photo of socks I have finished in 2015. Surprisingly, there isn't a blue pair in the pile. I will remedy that soon. Whether my finished objects are poems or socks, reading or looking at them often inspires me. I am not sure what that says about my working style but I am not going to fret about it.

I cast on Shallows cowl in a Hazel Knits yarn to celebrate the autumn season. The color way, henna, reminds me of pumpkin spices and is different from my usual color choices. I have always wanted to knit an autumn colored yarn in the autumn and decided to seize the moment. I also cast on a baby hat. We have another grandchild due in January. Here in Nebraska, that little one is going to need a warm going home from the hospital hat. Now I am off to find a skein of blue sock lingering somewhere in the yarn stash.  

What inspires you?


Friday, September 4, 2015

Creating from Scraps

I am a saver. Whether projects involve knitting, writing, bookmaking, or quilting, they generate leftover materials that I have a hard time throwing away. Some scraps inspire me to make something new and some do not. The trouble is, I never know what will be useful so I save papers from bookmaking, fabric pieces, embroidered table runners, sentences, bits of poems, and small balls of yarn. My husband is patient with me. He saves other kinds of stuff but that is a story for another day.

Recently, I wanted to make a backing for a queen sized quilt top that I finished last summer. I pieced the Apron Strings pattern from scraps and leftovers. While I have plenty of fabric from my quilting years, I don't have long lengths suited for quilt backs. Rummaging through boxes of scraps, I unearthed pieces of a Boston Commons quilt that went awry ten years ago. The quilt was to be made by machine piecing strips, sewing them together, cutting across those pieces to make strips of small squares, and then piecing those strips with others into a checkerboard of squares. I miscalculated the seam allowance and ended up with quilt sections that didn't fit together. I tried some solutions but nothing worked so I packed up and stored the whole frustrating mess. Last week I retrieved the project and removed large corner sections. Then with more joy than precision, I trimmed and sewed the larger and smaller pieces together into strips to use in the quilt back. I found one good sized piece that never became a quilt and sewed the strips to either side. My goal was to square up the uneven edges and create a sturdy fabric that would lay flat on the back of the quilt. Eventually, I succeeded. Next I'll have it machine quilted. When the quilt is finished, I'll have an extra blanket for my grandsons' sleepovers. I wouldn't even care if they used it to make an indoor fort on a winter day.

At the same time I knit what I am calling the Blue Yoga Shawl from leftover yarn. I think the simple garter stitch will make a good wrap for the end of yoga class. I started with the Diving In Shawl recipe pattern and added three rows of eyelet and a narrow border from Numinlintu, another pattern I had recently knit. Most of the yarn is Quince and Co. Finch although I had one small ball of a leftover variegated sock yarn that went quite well with the colors. I wish I had done the increases, one stitch in from the edges, like those in the Numinlintu pattern. They would be neater with a more finished look but I didn't think about it until I had finished my shawl. I considered ripping it out but decided this is a shawl from scraps made primarily for warmth and comfort.

Meanwhile, I have started completely over with the blue Sundara yarn. I fixed the edge of the Ishbel shawl only to knit too far in the stockinette section so I ripped out the extra rows. Then I did something goofy in the center increase on the first row of lace. I pulled the needle out and discovered the piece looked like a miniature sample so I frogged the project. Some years ago, I knit an Ishbel shawl in some yarn I bought from a dyer no longer in business. I really like that shawl and this blue light fingering yarn wasn't going to make the same kind of fabric. After muddling around in patterns, I chose one called Tympani from a knitting book on my bookshelf. Now, there is a novel idea, actually looking through a book I already own, right? The shawl is back on the needles and I've found the sweet spot of knitting that occurs when needles, yarn, and pattern play well together. I've had the yarn for several year and who knows when I bought the book. This will be the third pattern I've tried to knit with this yarn. It is holding up well which means any leftovers may be useful.

I hope your fabric or yarn, and patterns play well together on this Labor Day weekend.