Category Archives: Knitting

I am feeling guilty…

…not because I’ve neglected to post in a couple weeks…although that would certainly be valid, given my goals.  No, I’m feeling guilty because I’m having a…well, an adulterous relationship.

Okay, you can all start breathing again…especially you, Mom. 🙂  No messy  confessions about my personal life are about to be revealed. This is, after all, a stitching  blog…a G-rated stitching blog.  So, suffice it to say, stitching forms the crux of my confession tonight.  To whit… my relationship with my needlework has changed.  How? Well, for many years, I have been faithful to my world of linen, canvas, silk and floss… monogamous as it were.  I did anything and everything that could be done with a blunt-tipped tapestry needle:  needlepoint, Hardanger and counted thread.  Happily unaware of other temptations, I plied my art (pun intended).

Then, along came the world-wide web and with it a world of gifted artists who shared their work freely. I started finding websites on quilting, crazy quilting, freestyle embroidery and knitting. Suddenly my familiar…and dare I say it…mundane tapestry needle and linen didn’t seem to be enough. I wanted excitement, I wanted new colors, new textures, new….new…va-voom!

So I caved.  I tried a new technique here, bought a little crazy quilting kit there. But up until now I’ve just dabbled.  In the last year, things have gotten a bit worse.  A bit more quilting here, a jot of knitting there, a class in Japanese embroidery (sharp! needle) and even one ill-advised (for me anyway) foray into the art of tatting. Still, I figured it was no big deal.  I could walk away any time if anyone began to get suspicious.

But now I’m afraid I am too badly smitten to continue to live a lie.  I’m in love…with knitting!  I love that I can see it when I’m tired. I love that I finish things the same year I start them.  I love that I can augment my wardrobe and the wardrobes of others (without muttering invectives at my sewing machine).  I love that it’s a texture and color fest every time I walk into my local knit shop. And, come to think of it, I love my local knit shop.

Could this be infatuation? Maybe but since I am still in love with a lace scarf that in the last 72 hours I have ripped out at least  7 times….it’s unlikely. I think I am well and truly besotted.

Anyone of certain age may remember a top 40 song from the late seventies; ‘Torn Between Two Lovers.  Yep, that’s me right now. I haven’t picked up my tapestry needle in almost a month.  At retreat last weekend, I did nothing but knit.  So…my stitching stash is calling to me…and I feel guilty because I am listening only to my cables and yarn-overs…and the sweet nothings they are whispering in my ear.

So, tonight what I have to share with you are photos of my new love. My beloved knitting…

My first finish for 2009:  A baby blanket for a very special young man named Colton:

Colton's Blanket

Close up

This was my first attempt at knitting with two strands of yarn held together.  I really enjoyed it and I feel pretty pleased with myself, as I’m very much a beginner. 🙂

Second, I am working on a sweater that involves cabling. I LOVE CABLES. I feel totally rocked when I look at this project and realize I did it.  Okay, so I wasn’t as rocked when I had to pull out several rows to correct a mistake and, yes, I did need help.  But ripping out in knitting, as in counted thread, seems to be part of the process.  The only problem is, I am much better at finding and correcting my mistakes in counted thread projects. Now, with mistakes corrected, I want to share my cable vest back. Notice the lovely color…my favorite color…never mind that I will probably look like a giant walking lime. 🙂 The shade on the first photo is much more true.

Cabled Gillet-started 2/2009

Cabled Gillet

I am almost finished with the back panel and plan to take this project on vacation with me.

And finally…just because I wanted a project on the other end of the yarn and needle size spectrum that would teach me more new knitting techniques, I started an ‘easy’ lace shawl by Sunflower Designs.  I’ve been working on it for 3 days and I’m now on the 14th row or so, but I’ve done those 14 rows oh, about seven times. (See above).  Still, I love the pattern, I love the yarn and I WILL GET IT!

Sunflower designs

Sunflower designs

By the way, if you want to try lace knitting or even just look at some gorgeous examples, go to Susan’s website.  She sells her patterns, her service is fabulous and her creativity is…well, incredible.  Treat yourself to this blog…it is a beautiful, calming experience. (Not to be confused with aforementioned experience had whilst ripping above pattern out for the seventh time! :-))

Deep breath…my dirty little secret is now out in the open. I am…yes, I AM a knitter!  I freely admit I have played the field and enjoyed it. But the truth remains,  I am also a stitcher and I will continue to be a stitcher. How could I give up my love of so many years? I can’t, therefore  I have to learn to multitask.

So please don’t give up hope…there will be more photos of stitching to come. And in fact, I have an idea of something that might help speed up the process:  Are there any patrons out there that would like to support me as I learn how to maintain relationships with multiple significant others?  (DH, if you’re reading, this is a metaphor…so don’t fret…you are still number one in my life! :-))

Sigh…I didn’t think so. So it’s off to work in the morning and both knitting and stitching will languish…left alone and unloved…as I satisfy the tyranny of the urgent (aka: the house payment, groceries and yes, even stash money.) But even as I grumble a little, I consider myself so blessed to have a job and to be well enough to work.  Nuf said…

Whew! I am so glad to have this confession off my chest. Now it’s back to my size 4 lace needles.  I hope this finds each of you well, happy and in stitches…knitting or otherwise.

Blessings,

Julie

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I am soooooo…

…ready for spring! We had a gorgeous weekend here but the last two days the temps have fallen back below zero. I guess I’m getting old. I love winter, but weeks of weather this cold is a pain.

Well, enough whining. It is time for me to respond to the comments left here yesterday. First of all…at the beginning of the year I ALWAYS think my goals are doable. 🙂 I am the incurable optimist!  I have to be the incurable optimist…because as those of you who have seen my stash know…I have a lot to accomplish in this life.  So…onwards and upwards.

Second, hi mom!!! Thanks for stopping by. As I recall we are going to be doing a lot of lunching in the warm, soft breezes of the Caribbean in just a couple weeks. But be prepared, I am bringing stitching! After all, I’ve got goals. Maybe you’ll even catch the bug. Maybe?

So, yesterday. What did I do? I worked a bit on getting the studio/sewing room habitable and I knitted about 4 inches on the baby afghan I hope to finish by the end of the month. Good progress.  I don’t have a photo because DH has the camera, but I love the way this little blanket is coming out. It is double knit (holding 2 colors of yarn together) in a beautiful soft white and soft blue.  I’m a little afraid because it’s time for me to change skeins and the last one (white) proved a nightmare of epic proportions, involving two people and about 3 hours untangling it to a point of usability. (Thank you Paula and Ray!) I hope this one goes better.

In addition to my needlework I exercised for 45 minutes and saw my doctor. Things are looking pretty good, given the way I started my year. In January I only missed three days of exercise, after I got permission to start (about the 7th), I lost 11 pounds and halved my insulin usage. I feel much better.

One exciting non-needlework goal is to ride the Minnesota Ironman Bike Tour (30, 62, 100 miles on a bike). This is an annual ride at the end of April and I, of course, will be riding the 30 mile loop…this year anyway.  I need to get my nether regions prepared for the the ride as well as making sure I have the lung capacity to suck in that much air. But it’s a good way to get started on conditioning. DH and I used to enjoy long trail rides together and I am looking forward to getting back to those this summer.

Since my bike is over ten years old and has seen better days, I bought a new Trek cross bike last weekend. It will be coming home at the end of March and I am really looking forward to riding it. It has both front and post suspension, so I’m hoping those nether regions will be standing in line to thank me. 🙂 Or is that sitting in line?  Whatever.  It is also my very first step-through bike since I was very young. I like that feature, especially as I seem to be getting older.  It’s…are you ready?  It’s purple.  All I need is a red helmet (I have a gray one right now) and I’m ready to go!

And right now I need to get ready to go in a different way. It’s off to work, then to work out and then…ah, then…I get to settle in with my stitching.  What a great incentive to keep moving through my day.

Here’s hoping you all have a productive, wonderful and stitchy day!

Blessings,

Julie

Where, oh where…

…did July, August and September go? At least from a stitching standpoint…well, it was pretty much a bust.  But in those ninety days I had a wonderful visit with my mom here in Minnesota, Dan and I moved into a new home (new to us), celebrated 25 years married and went on an adventure weekend together, I designed, wrote and brought up a new website for the store, I unpacked aforementioned new house…well mostly unpacked, don’t look too closely :-), I hosted two stitching get togethers and in the process discovered the best margarita in town, I went to two knitting gatherings at the local store (fun, fun, fun!), had a very dear friend visiting for a few days, went to Needlework Guild retreat and had a great class with Kay Stanis, went to the State Fair, found a new church and started Bible study. So…all in all it was eventful three months if not terribly stitchy.

I think the thing I find most disappointing is my failure to update here more than I have, something I now intend to remedy with a…gasp…stitching related post.  I plan to start updating my hours stitched again, I will set goals for October and generally get back down to business.

In accordance with that goal I have been stitching a bit in the last couple weeks…well, stitching and knitting.  So without further ado, let me post progress photos on a couple of pieces:

First of all, I started knitting a dishcloth.  Yes, I know I can buy them for a dollar or so on sale, but this such a pretty cotton yarn and it’s a great way for me to try some pattern stitches to augment my novice skills.  I am about 2/3rds of the way through this project.  I will be keeping this one because it does have one fairly big mistake, but my hope is to make several for gifts to give along with a pretty hand-made soaps.  That idea was NOT original with me…thank you, Janet. 🙂

Ravelry dish cloth

Ravelry dish cloth

I put the scissors on the cloth to give a sense of scale and also to show off my BEE-UUU-TIFF-FULLL new scissor fob and point protector.  What can I say…a moment of weakness at the Guild retreat market.

Since I started with knitting, I will continue with knitting.  I am still working on my Meadow Afghan by Collinette.  I have finished the second repeat and am on to the third, which is the last full repeat of the pattern.  I plan to have this done in October apart from the fringing. Are you laughing??????? I wish the photos could more accurately convey the colors and textures of the yarns. They are fabulous.  I want to do another one of these someday in a different colorway and using the mitered block pattern. These kits are an investment, but they are beautiful.

Meadow afghan

Meadow afghan

…and a close up:

Close up of Meadown afghan

Close up of Meadown afghan

Now, please don’t think I’ve deserted my first needlework love…stitching.  I’ve been plugging away on ‘A Quilter’s Garden‘ by Emie Bishop.  I finished the kloster block outline and have begun the cross stitching.  I have substituted purples for the pinks of the orginal.  Here’s my most recent in progress photo:

In progress garden

In progress garden

I know it’s awfully light, but it is hard to get a good photograph of a tone-on-tone piece.  The fabric is Belfast platinum.  I love the piece and I really want to do her Christmas version of this as one of my next hardanger projects. I hope it won’t languish as long as this one did.

And lastly…at least for today…is a small experimental piece I did one morning just to keep my hand in on some freestyle surface embroidery skills.  I’ve been drawn more and more to stitching pieces that are not on a counted ground and am starting Japanese Embroidery lessons a week from today. (Yes, I’m excited and a bit nervous!) so this was just a practice piece I worked on a small square of organdy.  As the title says, it’s comprised of shadow work and stem stitches.  I actually like the way it turned out and am toying with doing a small album of designs in different stitches.  The pattern is from the Waverly Honor book.

shadow work and stem stitch

shadow work and stem stitch

I also got one piece back from my framer.  This is Western Skies by Laura Perin (alternate colorway) I love how it turned out!

So…as promised a stitchy post.  My projects for the weekend are to start recording my stitching hours again and also to set goals for October, especially since Christmas and year end are coming up.

In addition, as I look to Julie’s near term needlework future, I still want to work on some Christmas Ornaments (just got my new JCS Ornie Issue-:-))) and I need to get cracking on the next phase of my ANG Master Needle Artist submission.  I need to get materials pulled together preparatory to doing my paper and developing a design for a needlework piece appropriate to my chosen era.  Apart from those things, I have a little shopping to do so I have all the materials I need to bring to my Japanese Embroidery class which is Friday through the following Monday of next week. Also, in October, I plan to work my way through the Artist’s Way curriculum by Julia Cameron. I have the workbook and have started reading the book which has some really interesting notions about creativity and how to put it to work in your life.  So far, I’d say it’s a worthwhile read.

And, less fun but also very important, I work on Saturday (and both Dan and I are so very grateful for the continued blessing of employment we both enjoy) and, of course, I hope to cheer my Vikings on to victory on Sunday after church.

So…that’s my world for today.

I’m hoping that this post finds everyone who reads it happy, healthy and in stitches.

Blessings,

julie

…It doesn’t take monumental feats to make the world a better place.  It can be as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in a grocery line. –Barbara Johnson