Friday, February 25, 2011

Scarfing Down the Yarn




Back when I first started knitting, like a whole lot of beginners do, I began with a scarf. Actually, I started knitting twice-- the first time in 1986, when the scarf I made was so tightly knit, so unrelaxing to make, that I quit for FOURTEEN YEARS. Ah, but the second time I started, for that scarf I made sure to take my time (what an understatement-- boy was I a slow knitter initially) and to remember not to make it too tight. The result was this humongous cross between a scarf and a shawl, long enough for an NBA player, and made of the finest purple acrylic. I'll swear I still have that around here somewhere, though it has had the good sense to hide from me. I imagine one day it'll turn up.


For a long time I only wanted to make scarves. I had good reasons for this. I was both terrified of learning to purl (seemed so complex) and also understood that if I did learn purling, I would feel obligated to learn to read patterns. I predicted this would counteract my original goal which was to knit to relax. Well, I was right and I was wrong. Once I figured out purling, I did move on to projects like socks and sweaters, and yes, they required more concentration and, often, less relaxation. But then I figured out the pleasures of keeping two projects going at once-- one easy enough to work on in a dark theater or while talking to friends, and the other reserved for knitting in solitude and concentration. I enjoy both very much.


Lately, without really planning to do so, I've found myself back to making lots of scarves. My mom asked me to make her one-- and my mom hardly ever asks me for anything so of course I was glad to whip her up a little something. When she told me she likes "all the colors" I knew I had to go with Noro. I made my son a scarf for Christmas (finishing it up late in the day on Christmas Day, while he patiently waited, as if he was in no hurry to escape his mother and run off with his friends). And I made an optometrist friend a scarf to thank him for his help with some recent eye issues I was having. For him I decided to try out Brooklyn Tweed's new line of Made-in-the-US yarn: SHELTER. It's very classic yarn, and knits up beautifully. Now, once again, I've got a scarf on the needles-- super massive needles, that crazy yarn from Buenos Aires I mentioned in my last post. I figure that'll be done this weekend and then it's on to some socks-- I'm ready for something smaller and more challenging. And then, I swear swear swear, I am going to finish the sweater I started last year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Keep Calm and Knit On!



Hey Y'all,
So Lisa and I have been talking and we decided that, in addition to telling you all about the official adventures of Knitting and Yoga Adventures, that I, Spike, aka The Termiknitter, will share with you my own knitting adventures. Now, this is hardly a one-way street. I would also like to hear your knitting adventures, any goals you might currently be working toward, any obstacles in the path, any knitting triumphs.

As for my current state of knitting affairs, as you can see above, I have acquired some new knit stuff as I continue to attempt to transform my house into one big informal hands-on knitting museum. You'll see I got a swift (plus a ball winder-- not in the picture), a gift to myself. Just looking at the swift excites me-- it is a reminder of the days when I had no idea what a swift was (or a purl stitch for that matter). It is also, I discovered by mistake, a very big magnet for kids and for grown men. I do have some men knitter friends, but most of my men friends don't knit. Yet when I demonstrate the swift for them, invariably they get VERY excited. I guess it's due to the mechanical element. Or maybe, like the kids, they just get mesmerized by all that rapid spinning.

On the swift in this picture is some really kooky yarn I picked up in Buenos Aires last year. It's barely spun-- practically just roving-- and worked into it are all these weird felted balls that a nurse friend of mine refers to as organs. Seeing that in the picture, I'm reminded of my commitment this year to knocking out a couple of UFOs and trying-- no really, I MEAN IT-- to work through my stash before I start hoarding more. I started a scarf-ish project from the "organ yarn" last year and, though the temp here in Texas is mostly in the 70s these days, I am determined to finish it before I run up to the Northeast to visit my mom. Hopefully it'll be chilly enough to take the organ scarf out for a spin.

I love the Keep Calm and Knit On sign, a gift from a couple whose wedding I performed. I really want to write a book called Keep Calm and Knit on. I also want to always remember the CALM part of knitting. The downside to working on UFOs and also tending to a long list I have of knitting requests, is that sometimes this puts me in Deadline Head where I start associating the knitting with work. Mustn't do that. Mustn't mustn't mustn't-- for I cannot allow myself to ever forget I took up this knitting stuff in an effort to try to relax more.

The other stuff in the photo-- I received that little wooden figure, mostly used by sketch artists, as a gift and instantly had this great idea. I like to fancy myself a knit designer and/but those who have seen my "designs" know that... well let's just say I'm probably never going to make a fortune selling my stuff on ETSY. Also, no way do I have time to knit up all the designs in my head. So I decided I'm going to use this little model like a sort of generic Barbie and make it all sorts of groovy knitted outfits. I picked up some Habu toward that end, and some impossibly tiny needles. Let's see if I actually meet this goal.



And finally-- that cone of yarn? That's some alpaca from a nearby ranch. Ever since we visited Romney Ranch and Markings Gallery in Maine, after last year's Monhegan Island Retreat, I have become stubbornly determined to, as often as possible, use fiber from animals I've met, or at least from the people who raise them. Part of this is so that I can know the animals are well cared for. But mostly it's just pure whimsy-- how exciting to be able to say: "This sweater? Oh yeah, I hung out with the goats the yarn was spun from."

So, any other avid fans of know-your-sheep out there? Thoughts on UFOs? Feelings about deadline knitting?

Do tell.
Spike

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quechee, Vermont Adventure November 10-13, 2011


Hey Y'all,
Spike here. For those of you new to our blog and to Knitting and Yoga Adventures-- welcome, I'm the team blogger. For all you regulars, you already know who I am and, to answer the question that I'm sure is burning for you, YES I am currently wearing every single thing I've ever knitted and no I don't think these items clash with each other. In fact, I'm looking forward to demonstrating just how fashionable I (still) am during the next weeklong Monhegan Island Retreat in September AND... oh yes... the new addition to the retreat menu: a long weekend retreat-- November 11 - 13-- in Quechee, Vermont. My goal is to knit at least six more sweaters between now and Vermont so that I can layer them simultaneously, sort of like I'm a Russian nesting doll.

Lisa and I have been chatting a lot lately, and we've come up with a plan to stay in more frequent touch with y'all. Hopefully by now you've seen the beautiful new website. We've also got a fan page at Facebook, and you can follow us on Twitter. We're in the process of revamping our Ravelry page and as soon as we have that taken care of, I'll let you know so you can stay in touch that way, too. And, one more thing-- my favorite part: I'm going to start posting regularly here at the blog. I'll mention on FB whenever a new post goes up and, of course, you are also welcome to subscribe.

This is my dog Rebound modeling some handspun from New Zealand.

Now if that's not enough ways to keep up with us, well, just give me a couple of more weeks and I'll have my fleet of courier pigeons trained and ready to fly out to your individual homes and drop off notes.

I'd really like to hear from y'all-- what you're knitting, if you're going to be at one or both retreats, and any other news you'd like to share. You can email me stories and pictures at spikegillespie@gmail.com.

More real soon,
Spike