Look At This Stuff…

” look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?” –  Part Of Your World, The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is an interesting phenomenon – a Disney animated movie that stole my heart as a young 10 year old; singing Part of Your World over and over and over again as my fingers followed along on the ivories (literally – my parents had an old up-right piano given to them with original ivory keys!).  After 27 years, the piano hopefully found a home with another eager 10 year old,  but the book remains with me! The binding completely wasted away, but the pages found a new home in a folder among other very much loved music. Who knew years would pass and I would once again be captured by this same tale, this time; however, adapted by a composer that tugs at my Czech heart-strings: Dvorak. Dvorak wrote Rusalka around 1900, with it’s first public performance in 1901. My most favorite aria comes from this opera: Rusalka’s song to the moon. I haven’t had the joy of singing this over and over again at my piano, but perhaps someday I’ll find a time to do a recital performance of this piece. Bucket list.

And speaking of mermainds…knit mermaid tail blankets have popped up all over the internet. My girls somehow caught glimpse of one, and of course it found it’s way to their 2016 Christmas list. The yarn purchased months ago, and I’m just now starting to create something that will hopefully resemble a mermaid tail. I scoured images online, hoping to find something I could simply whip up and make from pattern, but nothing passed approval. Disappointing in one sense, but encouraging to know that I will hopefully introduce something new and unique to this exploding blanket phenomenon. I hoped for a quick-knit project, and although not exactly shaping up to be such, the stitch pattern is turning out better than anticipated! Slightly accidental?

Which leads me to construction techniques…I like to “plan”, draw out the project, calculating most likely steps while always leaving room for adaptations along the way. This project does not follow the norm. It is very much fly-by-my-seat. Knit along the way. Cross my fingers it turns out. It is a total experimental knit. Right now, I have no idea what’s going to happen at the tail, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

I just finished a fall preview piece for Berroco, and I always enjoy  knitting for them, as it’s a great opportunity to learn other’s design techniques, how pieces can be assembled and created. I’m intrigued… are you fly-by-your-seat, or calculate-to-the-last-stitch? Perhaps a combination of both? This is definitely a fly-by-my-seat, and much to my surprise, I’m OK with that! As proven with my AlexaRae mittens, uncertainties, and miscalculations often create beauty. I’m thinking this create-by-intuition technique, coupled with good knitting knowledge, is breaking down my “safe knitting walls” and expanding my knitting horizons. It’s totally neat.


Isn’t She Lovely…

Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

“What’s that fabulous bag in the background of yesterday’s post?” So glad you asked! It is rather wonderful and I’m more than happy to share with you how fabulous it really is.

This is a large project bag, created by Jennifer, the owner of Ellison Lane Handmade. Check out her Etsy sight as her products are just as wonderful as she is. He quality sewing on this product is top notch, something I’d expect to see in the stores. Her attention to detail is ridiculously fine. And the personal touches she adds to her shipments (handwritten card, cute decorative tape, etc) is the icing on the cake.

This bag functions wonderfully. And I appreciate the snap top, as my yarn doesn’t snag or catch on an open zipper! There’s plenty of room for everything needed to keep my working project tidy and in one easily portable place. And can I say, her fabric choices are superb. Love. Love. Love. 

Go support Jennifer at Ellison Lane Handmade. She does custom work too. Wink. Wink.

Shake It Up…

Shake it Up – The Cars
I began a project for Berroco only to realize that, due to my gauge, I must search through the needle stash for a US 5. Ummmm, I never use 5’s! And there, standing lonely in a corner mason jar, covered by yarn and past projects, is a set of US 5’s…STRAIGHT NEEDLES! Who uses straight needles anymore?!?!  Really? Must I succumb to this? The answer: I must (unless I want to drive to the yarn shop and spend money on needles I thought I never used). Ugggggh. And so I cast on.

Again, really? People still use these things? They insist on hitting my elbows, scratching my lap, swirling my yarn around their ends, and before I’ve finished my first row, I’m more than frustrated. I ask the question again, “Who chooses to use straight needles?” Often I’m able to see both sides of a situation and give equal effort to pros and cons. Not here. Does even one pro exist in favor of straight needles? For if there is a more efficient tool, a more practical tool, a more portable too, a more comfortable tool; how have the straight not become extinct? My conclusion: CHANGE.

Change frightens most. Change intimidates. Change is uncertain and uncertainty opens the door to discomfort. Perhaps then, straight needle knitters are simply content in their straight needle world? Do they keep the door to discomfort closed, and rest happily in the certainty of straight needles; unaware of how wonderful circulars are? I can’t help but believe that if they were exposed to the goodness that is circular needles; they’d immediately convert and be glad for it. If this assumption is wrong, someone please enlighten me. Share with me the unforseeable pros of these inhibiting tools.

All this leads to a broader contemplation of the human person and its innate resistance to change. I am surrounded by two very distinct peoples in my world right now: those saturated in the comfort of tradition, wanting to bring back what they know to be familiar and good; and those desperately seeking change for a greater good. You could liken them to the straight needle knitters and the circular needle knitters. Both types of knitters want to finish their knitting projects, with gauges checked, tensions not too tight and not too lose, and not a missed stitch. How we knitters go about getting to that end result; however, is VERY different. Better or worse? I have my opinions –  all based on experience with both types of needles. And so, my conclusion comes: I need to educate others on the WONDERS of circular-needles. Put my passions in action. And hope, just hope, that perhaps my small doings will bring about greater good – not for me – but for all knitters! Here’s to believing that doing small things with great effort, will bring about big changes. Let’s shake it up!

…and if anyone has a needle better than circulars, I want to know about it!


LIVE! With Ravelry

Elanor&Liam has gone live on Ravelry! 

Excited to share this extremely cute, lovingly inspired, and quickly knit project with you. This is a fairly easy project, great for even the newest of knitters. My favorite aspect of this pattern (aside from the adorable Pom-Pom) is the interesting  construction. If you’re an ambidextrous knitter, you’ll get to left-hand knit. I am neither a left-handed knitter (like my daughter) nor an ambidextrous knitter (although this may be my next venture), and so for this pattern we less versatile knitters must turn our work over and knit from the inside out. I guess we could just hand our work over to a left-hand knitter when needed and let them knit for a while. A collaborative knit perhaps?!

If Cascde 128 superwash isn’t in your stash of “yarns needing to be used”, any bulky yarn should do. I’d love to see new color combinations! Check it out HERE!

This “Post’s” For You…

To two “aunties” who delight in my delights and encourage me from afar…Aunt Marjory and Aunt Janet, this one’s for you! I have to chuckle that the first song that came to mind was a  beer jingle. Appropriate coming from Wisconsin, right?
The latest project is finally well under way. I spent hours knitting swatches, finding a consistent gauge, casting on and knitting 6 full skeins of yarn; only then to find that I completely disliked my design and my gauge was, of course, wrong (due to the stretch resulting from the weight of the blanket).  One stitch every 4 inches added on nearly 30 extra inches! Frustration, yes. Perseverance, of course. I tore out the hours of work (along with some head hairs I’m certain) and the result was something I’d never seen before. I’m not claiming world record size, although perhaps that should be my next venture. Not quite two full basketballs in size, and denser than my three year old Liam, this yarn ball was impressive! And why didn’t I take a photo???

Good news in all this is a larger gauge (4 stitches per 4 inches instead of 5 stitches) actually means less yarn and less yarn means less money. A win-win for both me and the buyer. And I have to say, I’m much more pleased with the design…

We’re smooth sailing now. Just 30 more skeins of yarn…

Hugs from Wisconsin to Maine, Aunt Janet and Aunt Marjory!

Here Comes The Bride…

Here comes the bride… – Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin

The tune is recognized by nearly everyone, and yet I’m guessing nearly everyone has little knowledge that this overly used wedding march actually comes from an opera! In fact, it comes from the hand of one of the most well-known opera composers, Richard Wagner. The familiar tune, “The Bridal Chorus” is tucked within a larger movement, and although you rarely ever hear the lyrics sung during a typical wedding processional, the chorus is actually sung by the women of the wedding party, AFTER the ceremony as they walk the bride (Elsa) to her chamber.  The full movement is worth a listen…

I’m not certain I’ve ever attended a wedding and felt such ease, such contentment, such joy…until this past weekend. My sister’s wedding came and went and was quite possibly the perfect day.  The entire celebration happened at Ecker’s Apple Farm; a beautiful family Apple farm near the banks of the Mississippi. Leah could have had a nice outdoor wedding anywhere, but the Ecker family made certain this was one-of-a-kind. Their complete attention to detail, their immediate response in times of need, their ability to forsee and offer suggestions before problems arose, their creative design…none of this went unnoticed. Such a wonderful group of people; looking forward to a return trip for apple picking, and beer drinking. 

Now that the wedding is over, and I can concentrate on things other than wedding flowers (if you ever contemplate doing your own flowers, do it! Super easy and financially worthwhile), I’m excited to get back to the giant king sized coverlet. I ordered my ginormous US 25 needles from KnitDesignStudio.

The wonders of modern technology – I was able to order these straight from Marina in The Ukraine. They made it to my doorstep in such a short time, all cutely tied with jute. Love supporting small business owners – even small business owners across the ocean. 

Although Bridget initially wanted a wool blend (top swatch), the synthetic (bottom swatch) won both our votes. The color, although tough to differentiate here, is a nicer neutral; has better stitch definition; better loft, thicker and heavier; surprisingly softer; just overall a nicer end result. Excited to start knitting this beast! Here comes the beast…here comes the bride!