Thursday, December 26, 2019

Knitting Journals

Hello. I hope you are enjoying the after glow of Christmas. I love these days between Christmas and New Year's when the kitchen is full of leftovers and the Christmas mugs are out on the counter. Today the sky is heavy with gray clouds and the air is damp. The forecast is for precipitation of some variety and the birds are feeding like crazy - even a white breasted nuthatch. After I post this, I plan to make a cup of hot tea and thumb through several new books.

Juliann asked me to write about my knitting journal so here I am with my less than glamorous record keeping and probably more than you want to know. I am not a scrapbooker, nor do I keep a bullet journal but I do like journals and notebooks. In the 1990's and early 2000's, I kept a quilting and knitting record in a Steno notebook. As I spent less time quilting and more knitting, I began taping yarn labels into the back pages. In 2014, I created the first of three knitting journals from a half-sized notebook. I have used the same methods in all three. The current notebook has an envelope inside the front cover where I stash labels until I have time to tape them on to a page and write accompanying notes.

I divide the notebooks into two sections. Under the first tab divider, I keep track of projects. If I have it, I tape in a label and jot down needle size, pattern name, and date of the finished project. Additional details go on Ravelry. The "Notes" paper is a little heavier than generic lined filler paper. I used to buy it at Office Max in the section with papers for my work planner. I don't know if it is still available but I am about to find out as have come to the end of leftovers from my work days.

In the second section, I keep notes on a few techniques, like knitting without a cable needle, so I don't have to look them up on websites. Interestingly, the more I knit, the more techniques I memorize so I need these notes less often. This section also contains a page with measurements and/or sizes for gift recipients, for example the length of sock foot for my daughter. When these notebooks fill up and they do because yarn labels take up space, I transfer the second section into a new notebook.

I used to keep a yearly count of yardage of yarn in and out. Yardage out was a combination of yarn knitted into projects and skeins donated to a new home. Yarn in was the yarn I purchased. It was interesting to track that information and prompted me to make some changes in the way I buy yarn. Last year, I decided I didn't care about the numbers so I quit keeping that record. It took up time that I'd rather use for something else.

Last winter I added a second journal. When I ordered it, I did not realize it had lined, unlined, and graphed pages so I decided to use it for knitting. Why have one journal when you can have two? It has become a workbook for knitting without a pattern. Last summer, I used it when I knit the lace scarf by choosing stitch patterns from a stitch dictionary. I also charted a lace pattern for a shawl that I later abandoned.

In both journals, I found lists for possible projects. I knit about 50% of these ideas. This doesn't bother me in the least because knitting is one area of my life I choose not to be bound by hard and fast rules. I store both journals in the end table next to my favorite knitting spot on the loveseat where they are handy.

Thank you Juliann for prompting this trip down memory lane. What about you? If you journal about your knitting, what works for you?

On this Thursday, I link with Kat and the Unravelers because these journals keep my knitting life from unraveling.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A New Season

Happy Winter Solstice. Although light will be in short supply today, the sun streams in my windows. Today is as good a day as any to begin a new season.

Everyday Miracles *
December 2019

Orange berries feed the robin.
Leaves release Autumn's grace.

Junco returns to bare branch,
fragile nest visible once more.

Chickadees fluff against the cold.
Light and shadow dust early snow.

Come, let's walk together. Step
by step, shoulder to shoulder.

Hand by hand, heart by heart, let's
craft a new season of hope and love.

*I sent this poem out in my Christmas cards and now I share it here. Please respect my copyright.
Copyright 2019 - Jane A. Wolfe

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Week Before Christmas

Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house, the knitter is not knitting not even a mouse. However I am dreaming about the next projects. My sister and I spent a day together last week and visited Knit.Paper.Scissors, a local yarn shop. I picked up this skein of Rowan Felted Tweed. I plan to knit something in the round to see what kind of gauge and fabric it produces. It comes in many beautiful colors.

Yesterday I baked pistachio shortbread. The drizzled white chocolate and chopped nuts made a delicious mess. The recipe suggests cutting the shortbread with a fluted pastry cutter, a gadget I don't own. Thinking dough is like doh (flour, salt minus dye) I used a clean playdoh cutter but it wasn't sharp enough. So much for my clever work around. The cookies have unique shapes. As a friend once said, "presentation is not a strength." They taste good though. Baking is one of my favorite holiday preparations so I am grateful for the baking time this week. When I was working, the holidays often went by in a blur. Chocolate cappuccino slices and Gram's Spritz round out my list. Maybe I'll try one new to me recipe. I usually take a small cookie plate to a few neighbors.

I knit a few rows on the textured shawl but not enough to photograph. I did finish the autumn socks. They are a nice addition to my sock drawer. The alpaca, merino, nylon combination is warm and long wearing. Ribbed socks from this yarn (five pairs over the last decade) do not lose their shape anymore than any other of my hand knit socks. Classic Elite yarns has gone out of business so this is the last pair I will knit from this yarn. I think Personal Threads in Omaha may still have some stock but I am determined to knit the last three untouched skeins of sock yarn into socks before buying more. No worries about running low in a snowstorm as I have plenty of leftover scraps of sock yarn!

I read Island of the Mad, a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery by Laurie King. Although the story includes some interesting history about Venice Italy, I enjoyed it less than others in the series. The plot didn't take off until midpoint in the story, or so it seemed to me. I am rereading Where The Crawdads Sing and loving it. I find rereading a way to notice more detail and think differently about a book. In this case, I'm not sure if the difference is the format (audio versus hard copy) or that I slow down to savor the prose because I am not reading to figure out the ending. Perhaps some of both. This book is the January selection in my local book group. The group discussion will be an added bonus.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you the hope and peace of a gentle holiday.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Good morning. The sky is bright and the blue jays' feathers are ever so blue as they reflect the sunlight. The outdoor temperature is cold. I am sitting in the living room with my wool-clad feet in a patch of warm sunshine. The sun streams in our rather streaked windows. My husband fell once this fall and required stitches. He is fine but we are not climbing extension ladders to wash windows. Next Spring I will hire someone to do the job.

This morning I left my shopping and errand list on the counter to make space for a few deep breaths. Today and the past few days brought annoyances, all of them minor. The dishwasher can be repaired and the bungled return of a new but defective iPhone will eventually sort itself out. I can return two skeins of yarn because they have little red dye specks that don't belong on the solid neutral color. I can reprint the ink edged pages of the little chap books I am making. If the Christmas boxes are mailed tomorrow instead of today, they will arrive in time and my life is still darn good. Next week I will bake cookies, one of my favorite parts of the season. Breathe. Perspective and gratitude for resources to put things right are the keys and, for me, so is knitting.

After blocking, I wove in the ends of this sweater. It fits and I like it. When knitting a top-down raglan, I often think the raglan line isn't long enough and adjust. I may have added a few too many rows to this sweater as I have a little extra fabric under the arms. I made a note in my knitting notebook for future raglans. I don't dislike the sweater enough to shorten the yoke and reknit the body and sleeves. I made it to wear like a warm cozy sweatshirt and it fits the bill. I love the color and overall I am pleased with it.

I am enjoying these socks. Breathe. Knit. Breathe. Watching the colors pool just a bit over the heel flap and gusset is fun. This kind of pooling in socks doesn't bother me. While knitting, I listen to The Dutch House. I hope the book lasts for the rest of this second sock. The audiobook was worth the Overdrive wait. Sometimes a family story set in contemporary time becomes overwrought with drama but (I think) Patchett writes real characters. They are not perfect but not overdone with angst. Tom Hanks as narrator is just right.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope you are enjoying your holiday preparations. All together - breathe. Breathe again. All is well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Stepping into the Season

This week the sun shines and the sky is bright blue. Walking in a mid-weight jacket, cowl, and mittens is glorious. My plan is to finish my small amount of shopping in the next few days so packages can be mailed next week. We will see - the best laid plans oft go astray. Today I am cleaning before getting out the nativity set and Christmas stockings.

In the meantime, I ponder how to step into this season. How will I hold kindness, grace, hope, and peace at the same time? This week I gather with two longstanding groups of friends to celebrate the season and our friendship. Although the dates happen early in the month by chance, the gatherings are a good way to begin. One group came together through our work as educators and makers, the other group over books. I treasure the fellowship in both groups. No matter our differences, we have each others' backs.

Over the weekend, I finished the raspberry sweater. I am pleased with it. I knit it for warm casual wear and it is comfy. I don't have a photo today because my photographer is not home, my hair over one ear is sticking out six ways to Sunday, and I am wearing housecleaning duds. There is real life and then there is life that is just too real.

I pulled this shawl project out of hibernation. Every now and then I try to create a project with yarn and patterns on hand. A few years ago, pattern sales on Ravelry were a siren call. I am trying to do better. Last night I knit the color change for the third time. Color change in the moss stitch was awkward. I shortened that panel in order to change color in the garter stitch ridges. Then I tried the white yarn but the contrast was a bit jarring. I went back to the darker shade of blue. Just getting my money's worth out of the yarn.

This shawl is meant for wrapping up at home and I enjoy this yarn so I'm going to let the slow easy knitting carry me into the season. I have two more non-knitting projects this month, jelly in the kitchen and a little bookmaking. Then I'll bake a few cookies and write cards, two of my favorite things to do.

I am listening to The Dutch House. I wondered if Tom Hanks' narration would be a distraction but it is not. His emotional expression is subtle but appropriate. For some reason, the way he enunciates the chapter numbers makes me smile. Patchett is one of my favorite writers so I am enjoying this novel.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you an early December full of promise and peace.