#92 – JUMPING THE GUN

Yes, this photograph is pretty awful. And yes, this hat is still on the needles. But man oh man, when you’re excited about a work in progress, sometimes you just can’t wait to share it. I’m really loving this marled (undyed!) grey and cream colored yarn I scored a few weeks ago on a whim at Looped Yarn Works. This custom hat is all for myself with an extra-wide ribbed brim, a bit of slouch, eyelet decreases, and maybe a little loop at the top for fun.

In other words, the knitting jag continues…

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#91 – HOW RACHEL GOT HER GROOVE BACK

Getting myself back into the knitting mood has been a slow-and-steady process, but now my mind is raging with knitty ideas… and what is the reason for this rejuvenated point of view?

One word: HATS. I know. Hats, really? But hear me out.

A simple, slouchy, custom cap for my coworker.

  1. They’re quick to knit – and the gratification of cranking out a few FOs is a reliable way to get me back in the knitting mood.
  2. I don’t need a pattern – so, I get a chance to play around with the basics like texture, shaping, and stripes.
  3. I can try new techniques – and even if I don’t enjoy the process, it’s just a hat so it’s quick and painless enough.
  4. I enjoy making them for others – and since quite a few of the men in my life have been impatiently waiting for me to knit them hats (some for, dare I say it, years!), why not embrace the knitting jag and crank out a few more for my favorite gents? Well, and maybe one or two for myself, of course.

Recently, I’ve knitted a Rosebud Slouch for my mom (photographs forthcoming) and the custom cap pictured above. I have another simple stockinette number for myself on the needles, with plans in mind for another manly toque. By easing myself back into a routine, I’m remembering how soothing and relaxing knitting can be.

Have you been in the midst of a knitting jag lately? What pattern/yarn/style captured your heart most recently? Do you embrace the knitting frenzy or fight the urge altogether?

#90 – YEAR IN REVIEW

Say hello to the antique sheep who guards my knits.

The start of a new year is often a time of reflection, so it’s fitting that many of us (us being knitters, of course), like to look at our accomplishments and quantify all of the completed projects and miles of string used into tangible, hard numbers. Honestly, that has never appealed to me. I’ll certainly end up disappointed in some aspect, then creating even loftier goals for the year ahead. It’s a vicious cycle! But as I was scrolling through my blog posts yesterday evening, I came upon my proclamation for 2011 – and it actually made me smile.

I didn’t say I’d knit x-number of projects. I didn’t make a promise to quit buying yarn. And I definitely didn’t set a limit on the number of WIPs I could have at one time (thank goodness). My only thought was that 2011 would be the YEAR OF SELFISH KNITTING. I think I reached that goal heartily, and it’s changing the way I feel about knitting altogether. I quit focusing on deadlines, expectations, and obligations in my hobby and instead focused on the pure enjoyment. Sure, I watched plenty of my talented friends knit circles around me, and I am constantly enamored by their speed and prowess. I concentrated on doing my own thing this year – diving into my giant yarn stash and working on projects at my speed.

Yes, I realize this is common sense, but I am the type to take on too many projects and spread myself a bit too thin, especially at the request of my family and friends. Attempting a slower, more intentional pace with my favorite hobby was a reminder of why I love to knit in the first place.

Did you reach your crafting goals in 2011? What does this new year have in store for you?

#89 – BRAND NEW START

Scone, cappuccino, and yarn – otherwise known as a perfect morning.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I haven’t forgotten all of you. I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging, as well as knitting – and this is the first real, long-term, barren period in my knitting lifetime. Has my love for fibre or wooly beasts or knitting designers waned at all? Not a bit. Have I kept up with happenings on podcasts, blogs, magazines, and the like – yes, most definitely, and I’m gleaning plenty of inspiration. But for whatever reason, I had little to say here and little desire to make things, so I figured a radio silence was the best way to go about it.

Since we last talked, my knitting time has been erratic at best, and mostly nonexistent. I got in some sessions with @mizelissa, which always includes yarn in some capacity, even if only to show one another our WIPs before pouring another glass of wine. I spent some quiet days in coffee shops, alone and with friends, in Baltimore and the district, with needles and yarn. I’m aiming to make this a more regular occurrence – a little time with my needles and my thoughts can be a grounding and meditative anchor to my schedule.

What have I been focusing on in the last few months? Everything else. Like completely settling into my new place. Getting a handle on my job. Revisiting old books. Staying out too late. Improvising in the kitchen. Meeting new people. Making friends. Frolicking around the city. Now that DC is feeling like my home and I’m happy with my place in life, I’m finding myself ready to turn back to the needles.

So, the knits took a backseat, but all isn’t lost. I have a lot of works in progress, ideas for future designs, a yarn stash the size of a winnebago, and a queue backed up to the hilt – but what does it matter? I feel energized and ready to actively pursue the joys in my life… and I’m taking it one stitch at a time.

#88 – GIVE TO THE MAX

Miriam's Kitchen for the Homeless of Washington, DCMiriam’s Kitchen for the Homeless in Washington, DC

I try to live by one basic tenet – be good to one another.

As a knitter, often I’m encouraged and excited to work on charity projects – winter hats for area school children, helmet liners for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tiny caps and booties for premature babies, to name a few. But if you don’t craft or time is short, there are plenty of other ways to give directly to your community.

Tomorrow, November 9, is Give to the Max Day, a one-day regional online fundraiser that will unite local Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC communities to support non-profits serving the area.  I was contacted by Chris, a volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen, a DC non-profit providing a variety of services to the district’s homeless population.  I don’t typically respond to such inquiries, but this is an event that would be foolish to ignore.

There are 6,500 homeless men, women, and children in the district on any given night. Of those, nearly 1/3 are chronically homeless – meaning they have been homeless for a year or more, or four or more times in the past three years. Miriam’s Kitchen provides services for 4,000 homeless members of our community every year – through meals, case management, Miriam’s Studio, and Miriam’s Cafe.

As a new resident in the DC-metro area, I’ve been seeking ways to find community here. Engaging with your local non-profit organizations is one of many ways to do just that. I encourage you to get involved with your community, take a look at the amazing work that Miriam’s Kitchen has done, find more non-profit groups with missions that inspire you through Give to the Max Day, and donate tomorrow if you are able.

Happy knitting (and giving)!
xx

#87 – RETURNING TO RITUAL

(image via design studio 210)

A common theme ties together my recent posts – I’ve been an abysmal blogger lately, and nearly as infrequent a knitter. Needless to say, my life has felt a little off-kilter. When I found myself un/under-employed in Baltimore, knitting was my solace and helped stave off my eventual nervous breakdown. Okay, maybe I’m a little dramatic. What can I say? I don’t handle stress that well.

Now, I’m nearly two months into my new job. I’m living in a new place, a townhouse lovingly referred to as The Owlery, with some amazing friends. As I’m getting used to my new routine, I haven’t found a place for knitting. When I spend a weekend in Baltimore, I’m usually knitting up a storm. I go to my old favorites – Common Ground, Spro Hampden, and Bonaparte, to name just three – and find myself clicking away on the needles for hours. This was my ritual: stop at a cozy coffee shop and get lost for hours in my project. So why haven’t I found those places here for me to feel at home?

For the last few weekends, I’ve ventured out for exactly that. One of my main complaints that I make about the district is that I find the people can be very distant and unfriendly. Then again, I come from “Small-timore,” the land of talkative weirdos, so if you’re sitting still for over 15 minutes, someone has probably started conversation with you. But with knitting at hand, people seem to feel welcomed to come up and inquire, even in the least friendly, corporate coffee shop.

On Sunday, a roomie and I checked out Zed’s Cafe after Sunday errands. It turned out to be a strangely wonderful place, and upon leaving, the owner took a moment to ask about my knitting and share a story about his grandmother.

I knit not only because I need to create things, but because I love the community of people who craft. This outing reminded me that by knitting in public, I can also connect with the community where I live. I will be keeping this at heart as I revive the Sunday ritual that makes me feel most like myself.

Where is your favorite place to knit, craft, read, or do the things that make you feel grounded and content?

Happy knitting!!
xx

#86 – KNITTING DROUGHT

(via one sheepish girl, image from work.place)

As always, my urge to knit vanishes at times without warning. So of course, my KNIT ALL THE THINGS feeling has taken a holiday. I know it’s mostly thanks to my new job, and if you know anything about me,  you know that my anxious tendencies go into overdrive when I’m in a new situation. It’s no fault of my new colleagues, some of whom have already visited my blog. (And if you’re reading this now: hi, y’all!) In fact, everyone has been incredibly welcoming and friendly. I’m just bonkers. When I’m at all stressed, I want to get home, put on my hideous pajama pants, watch back-to-back episodes of Parks & Rec /Doctor Who/random BBC shows/The West Wing in bed, and envelop myself in a cocoon of pillows. Perfect example – the week I started work coincided with my birthday, and even then, I opted to spend the evening watching awful tv and eating takeout with my roomie instead of going out to celebrate.

This past weekend was actually more eventful for me, and hopefully this is a sign that I’m getting into the rhythm of things in the new job and will start having a life again. I had a good time catching up with family, actually knitted on my Imogen Cowl at one of my favorite coffee shops in Baltimore (and ate a delicious green tea mango muffin), and went on a random duckpin bowling outing which turned into a hilarious night.

Hopefully, this is the end of [bmore crafty] being a general personal blog and I’ll get back to documenting things I’m making. My head is full of ideas (new autumn cardigan, homemade tomato jam, papel picado project, making more pickled green beans, quick flip-top mitts, picking up the crochet again, sewing curtains for my room), but there are never enough hours in the day. Until then, tell me what you’re working on. I could use the inspiration.

Happy knitting!!
xx