My December socks are sailing along, thanks in no small part to the addictiveness of knitting those stripes. It's so fun to see another stripe emerge and so easy to think "just one more." The yarn is Tokyo Underground by Quaere Fibre; I've been missing Japan lots lately, so this is a small way to remember my times there and tide me over until we can afford plane tickets back. All that's left now is to knit the second toe, which means I should be wearing new socks by the weekend (or sooner).
This is my third pair of socks for Liesl's Monthly Sock Challenge. I'm still taking it month by month, but I'd love to complete a year in socks. I've already lined up my January and February socks! (A heads-up if you're interested in that January sock pattern: Dianna Walla is offering 25% off all her patterns through the end of December with this coupon code.)
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I've been reading Yokes before bed the past few nights, meting out a little at a time so it will last longer. I bought the print version specifically for reading in bed, and it's definitely worth it. This book combines my love of anthropology, history, and knitting, and it's accompanied by beautiful patterns. My favorite pattern is Cockatoo Brae, the cardigan on the cover with the Shetland tree and star. I'd love to knit it someday--maybe next year!
I didn't notice how similar the colors in my socks and the book cover were until I saw this photo. Unintentional, but it makes me smile. Also, I can't help but hope maybe I am the one in Louisville, Kentucky who inspired Kate to sing. Either that or there are other Kate Davies fans around here that I need to find and befriend, pronto.
It's coming on Christmas, and I've got a go-to red sweater to keep me warm through the holiday festivities. It's my Larch Cardigan, which I finished knitting last year and then promptly stashed away, unable to bring myself to sew the pieces together. Like a lot of knitters, finishing feels like a chore to me. The knitting's the thing. All I want is that sweet click of needles in hand and rows of tidy stitches manifesting themselves from a simple twist of yarn. Pull out a sewing needle and things get wonky (and whiny--I turn into Paul Rudd so fast).
But--and I wish I had realized this sooner--I don't have to sew up seams to finish things. I can crochet the seams! I like crochet, and it doesn't feel like a chore at all, which makes it my ideal finishing technique. I didn't actually look up how to crochet seams (see Paul Rudd attitude above). I just pinned the pieces together with stitch markers and seamed them with single crochet. It took a while to get right (maybe an hour per sleeve), but in the end I have tidy sleeve seams and, best of all, a finished sweater.
This cardigan has become a wardrobe staple and has made me want to be more intentional with my knitting. In the past I've made things just because I feel like making them, but moving forward I want to consider how the finished product, particularly sweaters, will work with my existing wardrobe. I'm interested in the idea of growing a minimalist wardrobe, and I want to work toward that goal through my knitting. If I'm going to spend hours and hours (and hours!) making something, I need it to be a piece of clothing I can wear for years to come. I think this cardigan fits the bill.
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Do you have any handmade wardrobe staples? I'd love to hear about your tried-and-true pieces.
This coat will be etched in my memories of my boy's childhood. I finished it in time for our trip to Michigan back in October, and he has been wearing it on every outing since. Now that it's winter we layer a jacket and hat underneath for extra warmth, so he looks like that roly-poly kid in the snowsuit from A Christmas Story.
My memories of him will be as a bundle of navy wool with an elf hood pointing jauntily toward the sky. I follow that little elf as he races to the dogwood, then the maple, and back to the gate. His hands poke out from garter stitch sleeve cuffs as he scatters sunflower seeds for the neighborhood birds (and squirrels and rabbits, he tells me, indicating this by sucking in through his teeth to make a squirrelly noise and then saying "hop, hop").
As soon as we are back inside, this coat comes off. He rushes to hang it in his room, shouting, "Hook, hook!" And then he requests a snack because that's his favorite thing. He loves chocolate and clementines ("little oranges," he says) and cheese because that's what mice eat. He's enamored with mice these days, so I knitted one up for him. He loves carrying it around, and it fits perfectly in his coat pocket, so it can tag along on all his adventures.
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Do you have any special clothes etched in your childhood memories or in memories of your children?
I had a some red pajamas--a matching shirt and pants--that I got when I was three or four years old. I remember thinking I was so grown up with my matching pajama set. My parents called me "Big Al" (my childhood nickname) when I wore those pajamas, so obviously the pajamas meant I was a big kid. ;)
The days here have been gray and cold, and it has been tempting to stay inside all day to be near the cheeriness of multicolored Christmas lights and the warm oven, which I've been filling with cinnamon-y baked goods as often as I can.
We are in the thick of Christmas activities around here. It's all Advent calendars and countdowns and elves hiding. But I am most decidedly not elbow-deep in any Christmas knitting because I've sworn off it this year (thanks to the Knitmores' grinchalong). Instead I'm knitting for myself, just for pleasure, not out of any obligation, and without any finish date in mind.
I've actually found myself actively knitting on only two projects: my December socks and a Marin shawl out of naturally dyed marigold yarn that I'm testing for Liesl. I've knit the Marin shawl before, but I gave it away, so I decided to make one for myself in this sunshine-colored yarn that brings much needed light to these winter days.
I'm devouring Delancey. I love Molly's voice and the way she tells a story. I've been reading her blog for years, and while I often find myself hungry after reading a post, what I've found more lately is that I feel inspired to write (and read). Her post "I got to go back" particularly got to me. I created a reading list based on it and in the last month read About Alice, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem. So it seemed only natural to follow those with Molly's own book, which has me thinking about career plans and travel adventures (and of course her book makes me want to fly to Seattle and eat pizza).
And now it's past noon and I haven't washed my face yet and I spent a good hour this morning with my boy on and off the toilet as he learns to use it and still we ended up with an accident on the floor, but at least the house is warm with the scent of cinnamon and cloves, and my feet are clad in beautiful socks. That's the holidays, right? Overlooking those things that drive you crazy and reveling in those things that make you smile, laugh, love. Or maybe that's just life? Either way, I hope you're finding those good things too.
My Camilla shawl has been off the needles for a month. I immediately wrapped it around my neck and there it has stayed, keeping me warm on snowy days when my boy and I dash outside for a quick snow fix and then hurry back inside for hot chocolate, and keeping me cozy while I sip tea and listen to podcasts. Camilla is not really a shawl at all in my opinion but instead something along the lines of a shawl-style scarf. It's thick and cushy and those scallops add such a pretty detail.
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There are so many good new podcasts these days.
Melody's new video podcast is so sweet and calming. It feels just like visiting with her, and I love to pull out my knitting and tea and spend time with her.
The first episode of Woolful was so captivating that I can't wait to hear more. I loved listening to (and learning from) the interviews with people in the fiber world.
Of course, go listen to Serial right now if you haven't already. It's a podcast that tells one story each season, and this season they're re-investigating a murder. My husband recently caught me listening to a podcast about Serial (that is, a podcast about a podcast) and said that was too much, but I don't think so. ;)
I've been knitting away on my November socks during nap time. After I put Jude to sleep, I rush through any chores that must be done and then hurl myself into bed to work on these socks. That brilliant pink offers a warming contrast to our increasingly gray days here. Today we heard on the radio that we might get a few snow flurries, and Jude squealed! He has been enamored with snow books for most of this year, and just last week he tried on his snow boots and toddled clumsily around the house on his suddenly heavy feet. He is ready for the snow!
At night I've been getting lost in Not That Kind of Girl. I've been wanting to find a book to fall into. You know that feeling you get when you become so absorbed in a book that you forget about everything else and just keep turning pages late into the night? I wanted that. I used to get that feeling all the time as a teenager. I'd live in books then, identifying with characters as much as my friends. As I get older I find that kind of escapism harder to achieve, so anytime a book does that, I let it take me. Not That Kind of Girl, though nonfiction, lets me escape to New York for a few hours each night. My favorite quote so far speaks to the inability to be completely absorbed in a moment:
"A night of carousing never passed without me stepping outside the experience to think, Yes, this must be what it is to be young" (p. 184).
I read this and immediately thought about the time in college that some friends and I ordered Avon. The whole time we were discussing lipstick shades and which nail polish to buy, I couldn't help feeling like I was doing anthropological fieldwork. "So this is what college girls talk about," I thought. I just wish I'd made some field notes.
These are more photos taken in Hunt Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the final stops on our Michigan road trip a few weeks ago. We started in Mackinaw City, visited Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula, then made our way back down to a yarn mill in Frankenmuth, and finally hung out in Ann Arbor for a few days, drinking lots of coffee and eating Japanese food.
I love these photos of my boy, his toothy smile, and of course how sweet he looks in his mama-made cardigan. Gramps is a timeless sweater, and that shawl collar keeps my boy cozy. When the wind picks up, we flip up the collar to keep his neck extra warm. We've been rolling up the cuffs this fall, which I think means he'll be able to wear it again next year. And after that? I'll just have to knit another one.
My October socks remind me of an overcast day in Maine when my husband and I walked a short trail at the top of Cadillac Mountain in grayed out conditions. A cold mist settled over the mountaintop that morning, and we were the only ones crazy bold enough to be out walking on such a dreary day. Droplets gathered on my eyelashes and dripped mascara down my cheeks, and the wind tangled my hair. At some point our walk became more of a frenzied hunt for the car so we could get out of the cold, wet weather. We headed back to Bar Harbor smelling of wet wool and looking like wild animals. Lucky for us, there were plenty of warm coffee shops for us to dry off in, and a shop selling this pretty gray yarn that I bought to commemorate the day.
I'm joining in Liesl's sock challenge to knit a pair of socks a month for a whole year (though I'm taking it month by month). Find more notes on my October socks here.
I've had in mind to make gray socks with cream heels and toes, so when I saw Ine's Drizzly Day socks, it felt like a daydream come true for me. I've already got yarn lined up for a pair, but I keep wondering if I should throw in a little colorwork pattern on the leg.
Casey finished her October socks in a dizzying five days! Now that's motivation.
A Shaelyn shawl, rich and red, kept me cozy for an impromptu breakfast picnic with my boys. We sat on a bench and watched the leaves fall as we spooned yogurt straight from the carton, took giant bites of fresh baked bread topped with almond paste, and sipped hot coffee with milk. It was one of those moments I could just live in: the sun still rising, the air cool with morning dampness, the trees ruddy with fall, the three of us together.
All photos taken in Hunt Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we last visited four years ago. I wouldn't at all mind making an annual fall pilgrimage to that bench.
I bought this yarn nearly four years ago when I was a freshly minted knitter determined to knit socks. I remember walking into the knitting shop shyly, as I always did then, because it seemed everyone there knew one another--I was forever interrupting the jovial shop conversation by being a stranger among them--and even more importantly, they all seemed to know what they were doing. I had only this semi-abstract notion that my knits and purls could somehow form socks. Of course I pretended I knew what to do and picked from among the few skeins of sock yarn I could find, which were in the sale bin, and now I realize there were probably whole shelves full of the stuff if only I had known where to look or, you know, just gotten up the courage to ask. I picked this blue variegated yarn, which is not my style at all, so I must have been pretty desperate to make socks to have picked it up in the first place.
I took the yarn home and excitedly cast on a sock, but being a new knitter meant that even though I wrangled those double-pointed needles, I had no idea about laddering, so I ended up with tell-tale loose lines down my sock and had to rip out the whole thing.
I tucked the yarn into my stash and forgot about it until earlier this year. I decided that even though it's not my style, I wouldn't mind it if I toned down the variegation, so I paired it with a dark blue yarn for the heels, toes, and cuffs.
These socks were months in the making, simply because I tossed them aside for other things and then when I finally finished them I couldn't be bothered to weave in the ends. They sat in my knitting basket* until my knitting frenzy, when it became an urgent matter to finish these before the cold weather set in.
I'm glad I finally did finish them because they're warm and I actually do like them. Sure, they aren't really my style, but the yarn tells the story of the knitter I once was--unsure and shy but daring enough to try--and I'll wear that as a badge of honor.
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What yarn tells your story?
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*I imagine it's somewhat like the Island of Misfit Toys in there, only a basket of almost-finished things.
Inspired by Liesl, I decided to harvest my marigolds to try some natural dyeing. The marigolds were ready just before we were to leave town, so I picked them to freeze for dyeing at a later date.
The harvest was a thing of beauty in itself, with those oranges, rusts, and yellows all heaped together. I enlisted the help of my son, who loves to pluck marigolds from their stems and sprinkle petal confetti all over the garden. He was less enthusiastic about harvesting marigolds than I thought he would be, though. Turns out that part of the appeal to him is doing something I tell him not to do. It seems as though I have a little rebel on my hands. He did join in once I'd filled a bowl with marigolds. He just couldn't resist emptying the bowl for me!
We are still enjoying the garden here for a little longer. We planted some sunflowers late and they are just now blooming. Jude has been pestering me about the box of bulbs on our dining room table, so this week we'll plant tulips, daffodils, and irises for spring. I'm excited to have his help, and I think these bulbs will be just the right size for his toddler hands to hold. Let's hope he agrees to help!
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What have you been doing outside these days? Planting, harvesting, hiking?
I'm hoping to have a few fires in our fire pit soon. The smell of woodsmoke and wet leaves is one of my favorite parts of fall.