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I Am An Artist

I am taking a coffee break today to knit, greatly enjoying a cushy chair at an Global Conglomerate Coffee Chain Shop, watching the rain splat against the window, chuckling schaudenfreude-like at people behaving like a combination of ducks, wet dogs and angry cats as they come inside, and the hiss of the coffee machines transposed over the mellow 1930s jazz playing.

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A lady next to me had her hair clip resting on the table, and I chatted with her as she too uses the same, unusual brand.

When I pulled out my knitting she exclaimed,

Oh, you’re an artist!

No, I just like to knit, and i do a few other crafts.

But you are an artist, what else do you do?

I told her about the embroidery I finished last night and she asked to see a photo, then she saw my needlepoint pillow on the couch at home and remarked on that.

I made that, it’s petit point in Persian wool. It took me 6 months to stitch while I got over a breakup.

I could never do that, it’s beautiful, you’ll have it forever.

Suddenly I saw myself in her eyes, a stylish lady wearing unusual glasses and jewelry, an artist, living in a home filled with unique and colorful things. An artist!

I guess I really am. The world looks and feels different to me somehow, now.

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Stitches West and a Gentle Return to Knitting

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A weekend ago or so was Stitches West, the giant yarn, fiber and notions conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. For quite a few years I have been attending with E___, my friend and knitting mentor (and also my fellow baseball buddy), and lately with my artist and crochet sisterfriend L____ and A____ have been joining us for shopping and ramen afterwards.

This was my first real weekend post flu and post ankle surgery where I felt almost like a normal person. Walking and standing is still cranky but we scheduled lots of tea breaks and the gals brought lots of snacks to keep our energy from flagging.
20130302-080226.jpg(tiny chocolate mushroom cookies!)

This year the convention center seemed rather quiet, we went on a Sunday, which is the last day of the conference and perhaps people were done for it but the crowd was thin and the shopping was even thinner. It might be a sign of the tightened economy, or perhaps because it was nice weather out but there wasn’t much going on that day. We all were on tight budgets and that never helps with shopping, but we enjoyed being able to visit every booth and have time for breaks.

E____ and I both found some great sock yarn for the San Francisco Giants games, a cutely dyed sock yarn from Miss Babs in a colorway called Pumpkin Apocalypse. E___ might be making a shawlette but I am going to make socks.

There was a very pretty pattern for a Cedar Leaf Shawlette in a green silk and wool blend but sadly there was no yarn anywhere within the convention center that was right weight with a little silk in it and in the right verdant green. I will need about two to three skeins to make the shawl and will save this pattern for when the budget allows more yarn shopping.

We spotted a simple sweater by Olga Jazzy, the Sakasama Jacket. I would like to try this pattern since I have boatloads of kid mohair but the booth was out of the pattern. I can get it online however.
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At another stall was selling mink yarn in jewel-toned colors at mink-like prices, but ooh, so very soft and lovely. All animal fiber yarn is from animals where they are either shorn or combed for their hair/fur, how does one shear a squirmy mink? It doesn’t bear thinking about overmuch.

This stall also had a sample scarf by Alchemy using their paper yarn which is surprisingly soft after washing. The scarf is combined with Alchemy kid mohair yarn that I’m obsessed about but the scarf is felted or washed vigorously after knitting to shrink the mohair part. I’ve seen it before at the Interweave Knitlab marketplace. I am still tempted to try this someday. The coir palate is pretty on me and they have a longish bolero which would be very nice to wear over all my inevitable black wardrobe pieces.
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(the ubiquitous Feather and Fan pattern again!)

It was always great fun to see Tina Whitmore of KnitWhits and I snatched up a ball of her Freia ombré yarn that changes from a deep grey-black to an Aegean teal. Tina explained it was a new color direction for her ombré yarns. She had only made a little for the New York show she attended and they were snapped up, I wish I could have seen all the colors she had made! Hopefully, in future, she will make more. The winking green-blue eye for this yarn really called to me and I couldn’t wait to make something with it.

20130301-203106.jpg(the hue of the grey truly is much darker than captured here)

We putzed around for a little while longer and then went out for dinner at Ramen Club. This is the second best ramen I’ve found in the Bay Area.
20130301-204400.jpg(tonkotsu ramen, a bowl of heaven

It was a lovely, full day!

The moment I got home I pulled out my two purchases plus the pretty pattern and I did not resist the incredible urge to start knitting.

Happily a quick search on Ravelry led me to the adorable Elk Tooth pattern by Caitlin ffrench. The talented knittingnurse on Ravelry had made up this pattern in Freia yarn in the same weight and a slight modification to use up one ball of yarn. I am about halfway done now and simply love the look and feel of this yarn. I can’t wait to wear this scarf.

Can Knitters Save the World

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Think of all the people you know who create things with their hands. For the most part they are peaceful people who add value to the world’s beauty.

191(Me at Calico, knitting)

I found out today that there is a world-wide call for knitters to submit their work to an art project:

A WORLD WIDE CALL FOR KNITTING

Cirkus Cirkör’s performance, Knitting Peace, weaves together questions about striving and knitting with breathtaking feats of circus artistry. Can striving in itself make a difference? Is knitting our way to peace possible?

To highlight these questions we literally want to knit our way around the whole world – 40 075 km (24 900 miles). And to succeed we need your help! To connect people from the four corners of the Earth, we are collecting white knitted pieces from all over. Many little acts of warmth and kindness can create the awareness necessary to making a difference.

Send your white knitted pieces to Cirkus Cirkör, and please take a moment to answer the questions below! Your contribution may be displayed in connection with one of our performances.

– Why do you knit?
– What are you striving for?
– Is knitting our way to peace possible?

Please send your piece to:
Fanny Senocq, Cirkus Cirkör, Rotemannavägen 10, 145 57 Norsborg, Sweden.
Don’t forget to include your name, address and phone number as well as your answers to the questions above. And we’d love it if you included a picture of yourself knitting!

 

What a fun idea, do you want to participate?

It is a nice thought, gathering knitters from around the world and having them focus on peace. Ravelry had over 2 million members a year ago, there are no doubt more people registered now, and even more who knit and crochet who don’t use this site. Imagine harnessing this creative power for peace.

I don’t have anything white to contribute now, perhaps I can make up one of my mini sweaters over the weekend.

20130301-201325.jpg(one of my favorites)

Whatever you do creatively this weekend, please think of peace while you do it and visualize over 2 million creative, talented people doing the same thing on our little blue marble we call home.

Here’s to peace on Earth.

A Sad Month with a Revelation

January has been a sad month because I came down with the flu. Have you ever been too sick to knit?

Well, that is me this month, too sick to even do the one thing that provides me peace and comfort. I just lay there in a heap with mounds of tissues, cough syrup and bottles of over the counter remedies, unable to read or even focus on television. With the ear and sinus infection I didn’t even want to hear the tv or music. Yuk!

I didn’t even want to look at yarn.

I did, however, greatly enjoy my lovely knitted creations. I wore every pair of my colorful socks, kicking them on and off as the fever ebbed and swelled. The beautiful Oakland shawl kept me cozy when I was shivering and was a pillow when I wasn’t. At one particularly bad day, I was curled up like a cashew hugging the shawl like it was Linus’s security blanket. I twined my super long Santa Fe scarf around my sore throat when I had to go out.

The whole time I was wearing my knitted things, even though I felt awful, I felt like I was taking care of myself. I felt like I had a good dose of self love, in knitted form. My friends and family know that everything I make for them is a fuzzy expression of my love for them. One dear friend even calls her shawl “Heather love”.

It never occurred to me that I could apply this and feel love for myself from my own creations. Usually I feel like I am being selfish when I knit for me. I enjoy knitting because of the yarn or the design or the mastery of a technique but I never think, “you deserve something pretty like this”, or “you are going to feel so great when you wear this”, or “this is special, just for me, I am so lucky”.

My revelation was that I can knit for me, just because I want to and not feel selfish about it. I too deserve the love I knit into every stitch and should revel in it.

I am putting aside the mound of knitting that I feel obligated to do and am going to focus on just making myself happy for a while. If I get bored I will switch to my ongoing projects for others and enjoy them, instead of feeling burdened by them.

Now that I am finally starting to feel better today (in fact I made soup and pie just for me!) I hope to finish a pair of socks I started last fall and start a new pair with my bacon striped yarn.

Here’s to a new year filled with good things, for me, and without guilt.

A Sudden Halt

Sometimes life throws you a curveball, sometimes that curveball is the size of Texas. Right before Thanksgiving I found out that my wonderful stepfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This is the most cruel and horrible disease. It came on very quickly, and seems to be progressing also very quickly.

I pretty much dropped everything, got an okay from the physical therapist to drive a car and drove up to the foothills to see my family. It was such a shock.

It was my mother’s birthday and I tidied up a bit and cooked them a nice dinner. I got to see firsthand how rapidly this disease that erases many parts of my stepfather. I stayed there for five days and cried myself to sleep every night. I marveled at the courage of my mother who is an incredible woman. She is really shown me the true meaning of love. They got married when I was 18 and he’s been the best thing that’s happened to our family.

I brought things to knit up there, but I didn’t even open that part of my suitcase. I just cleaned the house, did other chores and just let my mom get some rest.

I still don’t feel like knitting but Christmas is coming, and I have a deadline for my sample knitting. Yesterday I cast on again the Mobius scarf and restarted that just to keep my mind off the sad feelings in my heart, It really does help a little.

I talk with my mom almost every day, and things are moving along for her as she tries to get her network of support care set up and I am doing what I can from here to help. I hope to get time off work to go visit them for Christmas, and find a way to get up there since I can’t afford to rent a car again.

We are going to focus on doing things one day at a time, enjoying the good moments, enduring the bad and just keep carrying on.

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(Me and my stepdad, before breakfast, being silly)

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