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!

You’re The Best Around…

Try to believe
Though the going gets rough
That you gotta hang tough to make it  – Joe Esposito

Once upon a time, I posted about hand salves and the annoyance of scruffy fingers catching on every passing of yarn. This spring has been no different, and as I worked with Berroco Folio, the most delicate superfine alpaca, I nearly mutilated every strand. My fingers couldn’t stay hydrated enough (perhaps a good indication I should drink more water), and it was a brutal project.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m in line at our local ACE Hardware store. Despite my three kids pulling at every gadget in the check out lane, a seemingly bright light found it’s way from the heavens and a choir of angels enchanted me with a harmonious D-flat Major chord. It was literally love at first sight. I saw the words “for dry hands that crack & split…for people who work with their hands” and grabbed quicker than my kids could say “Can I have a sucker?!” O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream is the best around and has won my long search for the perfect product. My hands (AND FEET!) are happier than ever and I’m certain my yarn is ever grateful. I don’t know what it is…they say it adjusts the pH balance to help retain moisture? Yes, it’s got some things in it that I can’t pronounce, but it’s great and it works! No fragrance. No greasy feel. And I had immediate relief after the first application. Might just be magic.

The Best Around!

I have been commissioned to design a giant chunky bed blanket for a friend. I’m only a couple days into the exploration and consulting process with her, and already a bit bummed. Lots of realizations that aren’t new, but unfortunate nevertheless:

  1. Wool is expensive! We were really hoping to work with a nice merino wool, or at least a blend. And no kidding, for a finished piece of that size, it would be well over $1000! Little by little, I kept researching into other yarns, and although I initially didn’t want to have this happen; I ended up in the yarn aisle at Michael’s. There was one super bulky wool blend option, Patons Cobbles. Love the stitch definition. Feel is good, but still $8 for a 41yd skein. And when you need roughly 1200-1300 yards for a king size project, that’s still alot of money in just materials.
  2. Synthetics are OK. I found another option, but 100% synthetic, Bernat Mega Bulky. Nice color options, soft, good loft. It actually knits up quite nicely. And for $1 less per roughly same size skein as the Patons, it’s a significant price point difference when you’re talking 30+ skeins. Not thrilled, but I’ve realized to get the “aesthetic” look, we might have to forgo quality, unfortunately. And I guess that’s similar in many things; perhaps IKEA lovers understand?
  3. I should start a yarn co-op. Wish I could be a retailer and purchase wholesale…Perhaps I should begin a yarn co-op. Partners together invest, and then reap the benefit of more cost-effective quality yarn
  4. Big bulky blanket patterns are not many. Trying to estimate yarn yardage isn’t easy when similar patterns don’t already exist. The jewel in this, however, is that I won’t be adding another design into the abyss of infinite hat patterns, or endless cowl creations. Perhaps knitters find US 35 and US 50 circular needles a bit impractical and hard to find? A GINORMOUS project calls for ginormous circular needles. Mine are en route from Ukraine!

And so the pattern designing begins. There may be cables. There may be the simplicity of classic stockinette. Less will be more, I’m thinking.

a sneak peek of my initial swatching

I’m envisioning less knitter-wrist and more knitter-biceps with this over sized project. A total upper body work out. I’m going to get buff!


I Have A Clue, Mr. Lemler…

This post goes beyond anything I’ve ever previously written. Not the typical yarn reviews or pattern how-tos. Not the whimsical song lyric inspired ponderings. Today’s thoughts break from fibers and melodies; from coffees and sweets. Today, this is me.This is nothing new or unheard of. This is nothing exceptional or rare. This is something that has shed light on my today, and perhaps will bring light to others…

With all the political heat, my Facebook has exploded with memes, sarcasm, some truths, and many hatreds. Perhaps my mistake was utilizing Facebook in the first place. Or perhaps, I should have simply withdrawn from political postings. But I didn’t. And because of it, I realized this:

Mr. Lemler is someone about whom I know very little. I could make a few assumptions based on his Facebook profile and brief available information. I do; however, know one thing: he supports Hillary Clinton. He made that very clear to me right before he so untactfully interjected upon a political conversation between myself and a friend, “Get a clue, Tara”. I responded with:

“I have a clue as well as the integrity and conscience to not continue to knowingly elect corruption into our presidency. I’m not willing to condemn others for their beliefs or throw out harmful meaningless words in order to solidify my own beliefs. I am solid in my understandings and although i don’t agree 100% with any candidate, I have my integrity. And this does not waver.”

Now, perhaps I should have been the bigger person and given him the satisfaction of typing the last word. That would have been the better thing to do. But I didn’t. In a medium where emotion, understanding, and compassion are masked, I needed to further explain  myself. As, I’m certain, Mr. Lemler obviously didn’t know me.

And that’s when the lightbulb emitted a piercing light:

You don’t know me, Mr. Lemler. You don’t know that I am 36 years old, born and raised in a small rural Wisconsin town. You don’t know that I have welcomed Catholic social teaching as the center of my being. You don’t know that I have years of educational experiences that have helped form my truths, opinions, and ideas. You don’t know that I have a lifetime partner who challenges me, encourages me, and respects me. You don’t know that I have given life to three amazingly bright children. You don’t know that I understand family and the importance of unconditional love. You don’t know that I desire to provide for those around me; especially my own family.  You don’t know that my heart hurts for the two 7 year old boys in my daughter’s class who each lost a parent this year.  You don’t know that I only wish I could wrap my arms around them and love them as my own.  You don’t know that I lay awake at night thinking about children in need. You don’t know that I hope for everyone to embrace integrity and goodness. You don’t know that my hopes are not hopeless. You don’t know that I will not fling hatred from my mouth. You don’t know that your words hurt me. You don’t know that I HAVE A CLUE.

We (the royal we) are so quick to judge, so quick to become defensive, so quick to speak. We have been given the power to fire our words as weapons upon people everywhere. To hurt and harm. Facebook is the perfect bunker, hiding us from knowing each other.  And without knowing each other, it’s become too easy, too tempting, to damage each other’s spirits. We’ve lost community.

Yes, there still remain gems of communities here and there, I’m certain. Our lovely Driftless community is a place where people still know each other. Where people stop on the sidewalk and talk to each other. Where people place fresh cilantro on your doorstep, and share newly budding tomato plants. Where people concern themselves with the betterment of the whole and not just themselves. Where new ideas are celebrated. Where thousands of people rally together to make progress for education, music and the arts. Where people are genuine. Where people love.

I’m convinced that community fosters love, or maybe love builds community? Either way, they go hand-in-hand and I am so thankful for my community – for those that surround me on a daily basis. Those that take time to converse with me. Those that take time to ask “how are you, really?” Those that share in my joys. Those that understand my frustrations. Those that encourage me in my endeavors. Those that love me. Those that know me. 

This is less a political statement, and more my pondering on insensitivity. Regardless of what happens in this election, we will be OK, right here in little Western Wisconsin because we will continue to be compassionate and care for others. We will continue to love in hopes that the way we act and the words we choose will cause others to do the same – All for good.

And so, Mr. Lemeler, I may not know you. But, you most definitely do not know me. Your words don’t break me. I have a clue.