Thursday, March 31, 2011
This post is from galloping horseback! If you haven't been following my chaos from Facebook, I am putting my house up for sale and to do that I am painting and fixing up what I can. That means that instead of having knitting needles and yarn in my hands for the past month, I have had trowels, sandpaper and paint brushes.
I'll soon be in fine form to move outside to work in the gardens, but there's more painting to go before I get to that.
Bear with me. I promise I'll be back.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Today has been a marvellous day. Not only is the light finally returning to our northern skies, but today has been sunny and WARM. Like 14 degrees above zero warm. Astounding. I threw open the windows for a while are shocked all the spiders who I'm sure were hanging on with all eight legs as they swung in the breeze. I know this because I've been picking up bits of web ever since.
It took me a little longer to get back to you about the Gathering Sunlight socks for a couple of reasons. A couple of different Muses came rampaging in and left the place a bit of a mess. My Writing Muse arrived unannounced and declared a 2 day writing and editing spate on a book I've been working on since I was 13 years old. This threw off all sorts of things like tidying up after myself and eating. I'm talking about 9 hours at the compute desk at a stretch. (And judging from how my body felt, there wasn't enough of that going on either!).
And when she decided it was time to go, again unannounced, I found myself left with a head cold and very little will to do much of anything at all!
So, it was after this had all passed that I started to write the pattern for my new socks, which, by the way, were warmly accepted and I believe they've been worn just about every chance the recipient has had to wear them.
Now, to write a sock pattern is a series of interesting bits and pieces. The cuff isn't the standard 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing. Not for these socks. The cuff is the foundation for the pattern that follows, so a whole paragraph is dedicated to it instead of a line. Then the pattern is a great back and forth of increases and decreases that create a multitude of little suns marching up (or down if your suns are setting and not rising!) the leg and top of the foot.
I purposely chose to use very simple increases and decreases for this because I wanted it to be easy to memorize and fun to knit. And the balls do slide diagonally around the leg instead of forming lines and phalanxes down the leg. (It's not every day you get to put "phalanx" in a blog post!)
So once you get churning out the pattern down the leg, then you have to get other people through the heel portion of the sock. This is pure voodoo magic. To take a single piece of yarn and change directions 90 degrees so that you can continue down the foot. Amazing. Stunning. And downright confusing as Hell until you've made about 20 pairs of socks.
So then once the heel is done, all is good until you want to finish your sock off. The explanation for the toe is a piece of cake after navigating through the heel stitches. But if you've never done one before, you're back into uncharted territory!
So all in all, socks are super fun to knit, but they take a whole heap of words to explain.
All that said, I hope you like the pattern. It's available for $5.00 CAD at my Ravelry store. If you're a member of Ravlery, you can just click here and see for yourself.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I have posted my first pattern for sale on Ravelry. The Inside Out Surprise Neck Warmer was an excellent gift knit for many people this Christmas. When I first knit it, I was super surprised that when I turned it inside out, I liked the pattern on the inside even more than the one on the outside. You get to pick which one is right for you. All the details about this design are available on Ravelry.
It is on sale for $5.00.
Friday, January 14, 2011
It seems I’ve always made gifts for friends. I remember when money was tight just after graduating from university, I went to White Rose (does anyone else remember them?) and bought materials for stencilling Celtic designs onto t shirts for everyone to have for Christmas. That meant buying the paints and brushes, the plastic material to carefully cut out the intricate patterns I was taking from a Celtic colouring book.
I worked for hours over a couple of weeks on those shirts. Painstakingly smoothing out the fabric and sweating over the way the paint spread into the fibres of the cloth. Mostly, I thought about each person as I worked on their design. You see, I didn’t just make one stencil and use it for everyone. There we a number of couples who would receive these gifts. They were people who were really close to me and it mattered that they each had something that spoke of their interested and desires. I know that sounds funny, but the more personal a gift is, the more it will be appreciated and how much it cost is immaterial when you have put heart into the making.
Over the years I have practised the art of mindfulness in each of the items I have made. Every Christmas, the gift basket fills up with things just waiting for an owner to come and claim them. I don’t just think about any one person while I’m stitching away on them (unless I know the gift will find one particular person and sometimes the gifts choose who they should be going to all on their own) but I do think positive, warm and loving thoughts as I make each stitch. I like to think I am imbuing the article of clothing with the warmth of love and that when the person wears the hat/scarf/mitts/socks that I’ve picked just for them, they’ll be warmer and remember they are loved no matter what is going on in their lives when they wear them.
The socks I’m working on right now are very special socks. A couple of years ago, I designed some socks for a night at the Ottawa Knitting Guild. It was for one of their mid-winter challenges. I don’t know about you, but once the Christmas rush is over, I like to pick up sunny, happy yellows and oranges and greens to help me remember that the light is returning and eventually the snow will melt and be replaced by lush green grass. So I knit sunny stuff in the darkest time of the year. Thus it was with these socks. And as I knit them, I told people that I was knitting back the sun with every stitch.
This statement captured the heart of one of my friends and when the socks were finished, they went to her and she has worn them just about every day after working on her feet and putting up with way too much. She calls them her comfort socks. She says they make her feel safe and warm and loved, so I think the little bit of white magic must have worked because I put love and warmth in them.
This friend of mine turned 60 in December, right smack in the middle of Christmas Knitting Hell Chaos. I asked her what she’d like from the gift basket, thinking a nice neck warmer would be perfect, but she told me her Comfort Socks were in sorry shape from so much loving. They’ve practically become furry they’ve been worn in so many slippers and tucked into bed so often. So I started to make her a new pair of sunny comfort socks.
They are knit with Turtlepurl sock yarn in the colourway Koi and they’ll be done this weekend. I’m writing up the pattern and will have it for sale on Ravelry. I’ll let you know here and on my website when the pattern is ready. For now, this is what they look like.
So my question for you is this: when you knit gifts, do you put love and well-being into your stitches, and if you do, do you think your recipients can feel it?
Friday, January 7, 2011
I have launched the All 9 Muses website where you will be able to see my new designs as I get them posted to Ravelry. If you would like to go straight to Ravelry to see what I'm up to, my username is All-9-Muses. I have one posted already for free. Actually, until recently, you could get it here, but now it is available as a down-loadable pdf. More will be posted soon. I feel the need to knit socks and arm warmers this winter in anticipation of Spring!
I will be posting from here again as I was unable to integrate a blog into my website. Cross-references will be available at each site. I hope you'll visit often to see what I'm up to now. There's lots to hear about.