Hello! Wednesday already? This week is flying by for me. I hope it's treating you well.
I thought I'd pop in to show you a crocheted cuff I made for my sister. Last summer I let her look through Ravelry and mark her favorite patterns so that I could make her things she really liked. The Julie Cuff is one of the first things she came across. The girl likes cuffs. She has since emailed me two other bracelets she wants--a goddess cuff and a broomstick lace bracelet. Considering The Julie Cuff took me months to finish, I'm not making any promises about more bracelets.
The Julie Cuff was actually fast to crochet, but it took me ages to get motivated to sew on the buttons. Don't ask me why. I finally wanted this out of my in-progress basket so I bit the bullet and sewed those buttons. I got it to Julie in time for Valentine's Day.
This is one of those things that looks better on. Off, you can see the odd edges that even extra slip stitching couldn't smooth out. On, those edges disappear around the curve of your wrist.
The buttons that plagued and taunted me for six months? They're my favorite part. Tiny little champagne pearls from a downtown button shop that sadly closed a few years ago.
Julie loves her namesake cuff. I mailed it to her at college (and then had to repeatedly remind her to check her mail--she never does because she never gets mail, she says). She opened her package to oohs and aahs at the cafeteria dinner table. That sure makes her crocheting sister happy!
I also thought you might like to know that the crochet lessons I've been giving my friend Jennifer have been going great. Jennifer caught on quickly and now she's almost finished with her first hat! She shared her progress over on her blog. Check it out and show her some crochet love.
This weekend was full. I want to linger over it a little longer and take in each moment. There were so many good ones. Warm weather. Walking with K. Knitting class. Family game night with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Reading in bed in the afternoon. Cups of tea.
Sunday night with K. We spread a quilt out on the living room floor, played cards, ate caramel apple pie, and listened to bluegrass music on the radio. Maybe this should be a new Sunday night ritual.
the best homework ever--reading in bed on a sunday afternoon
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What moments from your weekend do you want to linger over?
I decided to dive into this knitting hobby, so I called my local yarn shop to sign up for a class. The sock knitting class piqued my interest, but I wasn't sure I had enough knitting skills to handle it. Here's how the phone conversation went.
Me: Hi, I really want to take your sock knitting class, but I've only knit scarves before. Do you think I could handle the class? (Yes, I said scarves plural--as in those rolled up stockinette scarves counted, too).
Lady at yarn shop: Let me ask. (To someone else at yarn shop) She's only knit scarves and hats before. Will she be ok for the sock class? (To me again) Sure, you'll be fine.
Me: (thinking--hats??? what hats? I was stretching the truth with scarves) Ok, sign me up.
I figured I'd just learn to knit hats before the class. I've always been a bit of a crammer before tests at school. So this week I learned to knit a hat. The pattern I chose is very easy because it's knit flat and then stitched up. I was so excited that I took about a million photos.
Lots of garter and stockinette practice
I learned the mattress stitch!
All sewn up and ready to weave in ends. I just needed a little tea break.
Yay! I've got a new hat!
I'm calling it Melon Head because the yarn is a lovely shade of watermelon (and really I do have a big head). I was reading The Blind Assassin when I went yarn shopping; the protagonist is usually wearing watermelon pink, so that influenced my choice. Just for the record, I've always been very persuaded by the books I read. In fifth grade the Anastasia books convinced me that giant owl-eye glasses were a good idea. My yearbook photo proves otherwise. Yikes!
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What about you--any memories about how books have influenced you in subtle or significant ways? I'd love to know I'm not the only one whose decisions are made based on whatever book I happen to be reading.
I dug through my yarn stash in a flurry new year’s resolution energy. 2011 will be the year of knitting! I thought. I had that frantic-crazy creativity vibe going. The kind of vibe that feels like a creative monster inside saying (imagine Cookie Monster's voice): Must knit. NOW. What I found in my bin of yarn were mostly strays —mismatched balls of yarn leftover from previous projects—and not enough yardage to start anything substantial. Then I came upon two skeins of pine-colored wool. The dark green strands were flecked with golden brown, reminiscent of evergreen branches and the forest floor in winter, covered with moss and dried leaves. I knew this yarn would make a warm, manly scarf for my husband.
I rounded up a pair of bamboo knitting needles, curled up on the couch, and cast on. My seat by the windows was cool, but the clear sunlight that poured in gave off the illusion of warmth. I knit through a Joan Rivers documentary before deciding that the scarf was too skinny. I ripped back two hours of work. So this is knitting. Hours of work undone in mere seconds. To be fair, I’ve had to rip back crochet work too, but as I’ve gained more experience with a hook my undoing has occurred less frequently. I began again. 32 stitches cast on. My fingers moved clumsily through two knit, then two purl stitches. I struggled to find a rhythm. In crocheting my fingers know what to do. I don’t have to think; they move deftly on their own to yarn over and move the hook in and out. With knitting I felt like my fingers and mind weren't quite working together yet.
I knitted the bulk of the scarf on a road trip to Knoxville with Korey. We stopped at a rest area near the Tennessee border and found out we were approaching a snowstorm. Twenty miles away it was clear, but we’d have to make it through the snow before we got to the calm. Back in the car, I clutched the wool and bamboo in my tight, unmoving fists as the road ahead disappeared. We followed the soft circles of tail lights ahead of us. We were tense, cursing, and scared. Just when we were about to pull off and wait it out, we realized the worst was behind us. Slowly my fingers uncurled as we passed out of the snow-filled mountains. Looping yarn around my needle soothed me and took my mind off the dangerous conditions we had made it through. Knit two. Inhale. Purl two. Exhale. We were both so relieved to arrive safely at our friends’ house. I spent many hours that weekend cuddled up on their couch, knitting in front of a Christmas tree fire that crackled as the pine needles burned.
I continued working on this scarf after we came back home. It took me a very long time to knit 200-something yards, but that made finishing feel even better.
That’s the story of the woodsy knit scarf, which is my first wearable knit item. I made scarves in stockinette stitch before I realized that they would curl up on themselves so much that they’d be unwearable. Even after I saw that they rolled up into tight cylinders, I still thought that I could block them flat. It took a girl at the bus stop to set me straight. I was crocheting. She told me that she knit and when she first started she made lots of scarves that rolled up “like little socks.” She said she thought she could block them or iron them out, but nothing worked. That's how I figured out that ribbed scarves work better!
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So, any of you knitters out there, do you have any advice for a newbie? What are the tricks you learned or mistakes you made when you first started out? I need all the help I can get!
P.S. Don’t worry about me and crochet. We’re still best friends. I’ve got lots of crochet projects in the works! And I'm very excited because I'm teaching one of my coworkers to crochet. Spread the love!
Do you see the faces made out of tiles? I love this building. As we passed it, Jules and I reminisced about meeting Muhammad Ali. i remember shaking his hand at the airport once when I was really young--maybe four or five years old--and then we met him at a restaurant when I was around ten. We both got his autograph then, and he did a magic trick for us. I kept his autograph locked in a small cedar box along with my Christmas money for safekeeping. Once our house was robbed, and the thieves broke the lock and stole my money. They didn't take my Muhammad Ali autograph, though. I was so relieved! I bet that scrap of paper with his name on it is still in that box at my mom's house, smelling of cedar. I'm going to have to find it again.
the start of something new
You guys, I haven't mentioned it around the blog for fear of jinxing it, but I've been knitting. As in, knitting actual things that people can wear. I'm so excited! I'll show you a finished object soon!
Every Sunday morning after coffee has been drunk and the newspaper read, I pull a few cookbooks off the shelf and make a menu for the week. K helps me choose which recipes to try. Together we make a grocery list and then head out early to shop before the store gets crowded. Lately we've ended up at the grocery at the same time that the firefighters make their weekly food run. It was really cute to see so many firefighters picking out Valentine's Day cards and buying chocolates today. It made me laugh to see the contrast of those tough guys in uniform holding such lovey-dovey cards.
This little phone nook vignette is a daily reminder to live this year with intent.
I love changing this shelf up to suit my mood. (You might remember my crafty collection). I was feeling pretty contemplative and wintry when I made this, but I'm ready for more color as I look forward to spring. I think my next vignette will be joyful!
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The photo is K when he was tiny. He looks like he's pondering something, doesn't he?
it has been so long since i've done a weekend snippets post! i've fallen into the habit of trudging into each new work week and forgetting the weekend all too quickly. not anymore. i'm here to savor those weekend days so that the good, relaxing feelings continue into the week.
this weekend i tried to convince myself that i enjoyed reading "mrs. dalloway." look how cozy it is with quilts and a cup of tea, i told myself. i was not convinced. instead i decided to watch "smokey and the bandit" with k and make heart garlands.
and look how productive i was as i watched burt reynolds and sally field drive from texarkana back to georgia with a load of bootleg coors! i made these three mini heart garlands as gifts.
then i saw how sweet the heart garland looks on my tea cabinet and realized that i've got to make one for myself.
i wrote out this week's menu on the board in our kitchen. there's a restaurant nearby that posts its menu on a chalkboard outside. it always looks so good. i thought posting the weekly menu would help me remember what we're making and get me excited to cook.
i spent some time yesterday working on a sewing project that involves buckwheat hulls. i'll post photos when it's done.
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what moments would you like to savor from the weekend?
What a morning. It's cold, dark, and rainy here, which makes me want to scuttle back under the covers and only venture out for cups of tea and yarn.
Yesterday when I asked my yoga teacher how she was, she answered: "Good on purpose." I like that. I certainly wasn't good on purpose yesterday. I was tired, cold, a little sad. Gray skies will do that to me.
So in an effort to adopt a good attitude in spite of dreary weather, I'm not curling back up. I've got errands to run and homework to do.
One of the errands is to get this little baby hat in the mail. I made it for a baby in K's family, his cousin's new daughter, Emma. I hope it will keep her warm on these cold winter days. What a winter to be born into. I bet she'll be hearing stories all her life of how snowy it was when she was born.
What stories were you told about when you were born?
My parents always said that I was born on such a cold January day. Dad had to miss a U of L basketball game the night my mom went into labor. When they arrived at the hospital their doctor couldn't be reached--he was at the game. I was born the next morning. My grandma Alice brought an Italian Cream Cake for my mom, whose birthday is only two days after mine. I like picturing my parents snug in a warm hospital room, eating cake while cold winds swirled outside.
I also like seeing all the snuggly things people made to keep me warm during the cold months. Mom still has lots of crocheted blankets packed away to pass on to my kids. I hope this hat will someday remind Emma that no matter how cold it was when she was born, she was warm.
This hat works up very quickly. The website has easy to follow photo instructions. This was my first time crocheting in a spiral. I really like the results!
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Also, there's a really cool giveaway I thought you all might like. Rachel of Smile and Wave is giving away a spot in her sewing e-course, Modern Patchwork. You can learn how to make gorgeous vintage-y quilts and pillows. Wouldn't that be fun? Go here for details on entering.