Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – performed by The Irish Tenors

I’ve never read the lyrics for When Irish Eyes Are Smiling until today, and feel like I’ve been cheated of something my whole life! How has this song not been a forever favorite? Reading the lyrics reaffirms that I love all things Irish:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.
There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile, sure a stone you’d beguile,
So there’s never a teardrop should fall,
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be.
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
And now smile a smile for me.
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long.
Comes your laughter so tender and bright.
For the springtime of youth is the sweetest of all,
There is ne’er a real care or regret.
And while springtime is ours, throughout all of youth’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

I joke on St. Patrick’s Day that I’m a total Irish-WannaBe. Things like, “kiss me, I’m the only one NOT IRISH in my family” or “I love an Irishman”.

It’s true, I love all things Irish. I enjoy good Irish beers. I make a mean reuben always paired with a mint shake. I watch Irish dancing, and feel that clogging was probably my former life’s work. I swoon at the sound of an Irish brogue. And Irish melodies melt my soul. And yet, I’m not Irish. Good thing I married an Irishman, though; to pass on these lovely traditions to my own children is a delight.

I spent the morning perusing green and orange patterns on Ravely. I don’t remember the last time I simply sat down on Ravelry and just looked. Usually, I go to ravelry looking for something specific and don’t have the luxury of just looking. What a treat this morning was! So many beautiful creations. So many fun things to knit. My inventive juices wished I had hundreds of people knitting for me, as the visions of new creations flooded my mind! Instead, I happily skimmed pages and pages of patterns, and watched as green and orange jumped out at me. Here’s what I found:

Red_red_wine_2_small2 Rob Roy by Thea Colman. I was not surprised one iota to find that Thea had designed this great hat. I’m not certain I’ve seen one design by her that isn’t beautiful. The spiced orange decorated with the contrasting poof is brilliant. Great color combination. The slouch is ideal in my book, and I’m a sucker for wider brims. It’s perfection in my book.

003_small2 Three Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli. Again, not a surprise to find that this was again designed by Joji. I knit a great hat by her a few years ago and loved everything about it. This cowl jumped out at me due to the color and stitch combinations. It’s really a brilliant piece – something I like to call knitting ADD. Really, so often I get “bored” with larger knit projects, because it’s often the same stitch pattern over and over again. Which is great for mindless knitting, and not having to be married to a pattern for what seems like an eternity. This seems ideal to me. Just when you might be getting bored of the color or stitch, she switches it up. And the end result is a great piece full of texture and color. The green may not be exactly what I’d call Kelly Green, but it caught this IrishByProxyGirl’s eye!

Rossbeg_small2 Rossbeg by Carol Feller. This just melts my heart.  A great Irish Cable sweater for a lil’ swee pea. Beautiful color, interesting movement of cables, looks like a top-down one piece (easy knit). Love the choice for closures. I’d love this in a big-girl size!

 Leighton by Alison Green. Socks seem to be popping up all over my radar. I haven’t knit socks in, well since I knit this exact pair (these were my first sample knit for Berroco). Sometimes they took on a blue tinge, other times they were defintiely green. But again, a great accessory to show off delicate and intricate Irish Cablework. They scream to be paired with a great skirt.

 Finally, The Fisherman Stocking by Mary Thomas b1934. This is a pattern I found over 10 years ago and began knitting for our family Christmas stockings. It’s an heirloom pattern and a pleasure to knit.

Can’t wait to continue creating…Éirinn go Brách!

 

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!

 

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!

Uff Da…

Ja Vi Elsker – Norwegian National Anthem
Ya, ya, don’tcha know. Life gets busy! A great idea quickly found itself squashed by the flittering of snowflakes and near freezing temperatures. Syttende Mai (May 17th), a celebration commemorating the signing of Norway’s constitution declaring their independence, brings excitement to our little Westby each year. My excitement heightened not only in anticipation of our family favorites: the kiddie parade, the kiddie pedal tractor pull competition, and the kiddie bike race, but this year I finally knit up some goods. I looked forward to having a small table in our yard filled with my makings , kids crafts, and scrumptious sea salt/chocolate chip cookies. Then. It. Snowed. Yes, small snow flakes flurried through the air on May 17th this year and we wore long underware, hats, and mittens. I did not have a table in my yard. The kids did not make bracelets. I did not bake chocolate chip cookies. Instead, we bundled up and braved the unseasonably crisp air for only short minutes at a time; retreating periodically back home to warm our cheeks and sip hot chocolate.

Since then, I completed another Berroco project.

Such fine fiber, and quite a delicate pattern. Not something I enjoyed knitting, but appreciative for the experience. 

I hope to begin knitting Kai sooner than later. I don’t have a local vendor who sells Indigo in store and find difficulty buying yarn online if I haven’t yet worked with it. In this case, I have worked with Indigo and surprisingly adored it’s loveliness. My hesitation; however, is color ambiguity. I can’t settle on a color. I’m torn between “cutt-offs” and “flare”. I’d love some thoughts on color from anyone who has experience with either?!

Creativity remains stagnant at the moment. May seemed to rob me of”me time”. And with that, I feel a bit removed from the usual. Perhaps this is a good thing, though, as I found myself in constant query: “What now?” “What do I want to be when I grow up?” “How can I make dreams reality?” Baby steps. I anticipate these small steps bringing great future endeavors.

And now it’s June. I have beautiful newborn baby hats knit cutely packaged. Perhaps a fall yard sale is in order…

You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar…

“You hear my voice, you hear that sound. Like thunder gonna shake the ground.” – Roar by Katy Perry

So much excitement surrounding today! Never before has my excitement for an election ever superceded my excitement for anything else. Not even knitting. Until today. 

Before today, I checked the newest poll reports. I would read the political blogs and the news headlines. I attended the local rally. My lawn signs waved front and center. I even ran after a motorcade, IN MY SLIPPERS, thinking it was my favorite candidate passing through town! All in anticipation for today.

And today, I still checked the latest polls (the favorability of my favorite continues to rise!), I still read the blogs and news headlines (chuckling at the interesting pronounciations of places like Waukesha, Sheboygan, Oconomowoc), and I still have my lawn sign blowing in the breeze. The big difference between yesterday and today, I voted!!! Excited about my civic freedoms and responsibilities. Excited about feeling for the first time that my vote actually counts. Excited that I have a candidate whom I can proudly support; someone who represents honesty, integrity, and social justice amidst a deeply broken political system. 

All this excitement is only magnified by the resurrection of The Baby Butterscotch. Syttende Mai festivities in Westby begin just over a month from now. Every past year, I wished I had a small lawn table set up with knitting gifts for passerbyers to peruse. Our location couldn’t be more opportune for something like this. And so this is the year! Baby hats will make an appearance for certain. Perhaps pattern sets as well? Maybe even something patriotic and Norwegian. Time will tell…

And in a few short hours, you just might hear enthusiastic bursts of excitement coming from Westby. You’re gonna hear me roar!