Posts categorized "Musing"

Targets

Last weekend I went axe throwing for the first time. It turns out throwing axes at a target while drinking delicious Woodhouse Stout is pretty fun. It’s not so much about strength, but rather technique and intention.

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Obviously, it’s more fun when you hit the target and the axe sticks. And it’s seriously fun with the big axe that you use to break a tie. I was kinda good at the big axe, but there’s no video proof. 

This whole thing had me thinking about targets. I’m a project manager by nature. I like concrete goals. I love a good work plan. That’s great for my professional life because I have to work on several things at once and manage a team working on their projects. 

For my fibre crafts it’s tempting to plot and plan completion of projects. Sometimes it’s because there’s a deadline for a gift and I need to prioritize what I’m working on, and be realistic about what I can complete by a deadline. 

But I find the target setting creeping in to other projects. On the positive side it keeps me from casting on everything I see and never finishing anything (I like the process of knitting/spinning/weaving, but I REALLY like finishing stuff). On the negative side, I start thinking about how long a project will take and get a bit stressed? miffed? unsettled...about it.

I encountered this last weekend when I dug my The Shieling blanket out of the credenza and got back to it after a long hiatus. Nine squares done and blocked, some of them assembled. Not bad, only 21 more squares to go. At a week a square, plus two weeks to assemble...

You get the idea. Then I started thinking about whether I could do two squares a week and then it started to sound like work rather than enjoyment. 

That's when I reminded myself that the target is to knit/spin/weave stuff I enjoy. Some days colour work isn't going to be enjoyable or possible (because I'm tired, or watching TV with subtitles, or at a dimly lit bar) and I need other fulfilling fibre pursuits instead. The blanket will get done. I like knitting it. That's the target I need to aim for.

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I'm definitely going axe throwing again.


Jumping in to 2020

Lots happening in And She Knits Too land since the new year:

My niece, Josephine was born January 3rd! She’s beautiful and healthy and big brother Mitchell seems quite enamoured with her. I got to meet her last week and she’s so tiny and wee. Luckily I finished her blanket (but didn’t have it washed) in time for her birth. It dried quickly and I hope she likes it the same way Mitchell does. He uses it so much it needs Auntie Steph to make repairs.

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Emma and I took a quick visit to Peterborough to visit my mom and mémère. We took a quick four-generations selfie to update the one on Mémère’s fridge. Emma will be 21 this week, mémère 94 February 2nd. Time flies. 

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I finished my advent calendar shawl. Despite a bobble at day 10, totally my mess up with math, it was really fun to knit. Yarn by Indigodragonfly, pattern Match and Move. I could knit this one again in two colours. I love me some garter stitch knitting. Hopefully it’ll be sunny out at a time when I’m not looking a mess (or in pjs like right now so I can do proper photos).

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I’m having fun with my Electric Eel Nano spinner. It was a silly impulse purchase this year at Rhinebeck, and while it is taking some time to get used to, it’s a fun little addition to the spinning farm. I will do a full review soon. 

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Last one: Me today would like to thank December me for booking a one hour massage appointment yesterday. The perfect way to finish my first week back at work. I booked again next month. Monthly massages seem like an excellent habit to cultivate.

 


Happy New Year - 2020

Last month a colleague remarked that 2019 was a crappy year for me. I was a bit taken aback, probably because I’m naturally optimistic, but also conceded it wasn’t my best year.

I keep thinking about that conversation and contend that 2019 wasn’t any better or worse for me than other years. There were some definite challenges: sciatica was really messing with my body and my outlook, I had to parent through some tough times for one of my kids, I had two bike accidents and I worked a lot more than I planned.  

But there were lots of great things too: I knit lots, got to play ball hockey despite the back stuff, got a great promotion and raise, went to PARIS with my sweetie to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and really, things were pretty great. Life is good.

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This year will probably be the same. I’ll do stuff I expect and get hit with some things that are unexpected.

I am making a few resolutions:

  1. to keep at my core exercises at least 3 times a week to keep that sciatic nerve under control,
  2. to get more sleep and,
  3. to spend less time on my iPad killing time (those last two are probably related).

Writing here is also a possibility. Especially if I finally pull the plug on Facebook (I haven’t logged in for months) and cut back on Twitter. Let’s see what happens.

 

 

 

 


Knitters: Who do you love?

It’s Valentines Day and while it's not something I celebrate beyond eating some chocolate and cinnamon hearts, it got me thinking about all the knitterly things I love.

I love the generosity of knitters. Knitters donate to important causes and teach others their craft in schools, prisons, community centres and well anywhere someone asks for their help. Yarn dyers like Kim and Ron and the Minions of Indigodragonfly give back to their community and knitters in a number of ways. My friend Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot, reminds us that our small contributions lead to big things. I love that generosity.

I was the recipient of that very recently when a knitter I interact with on social media, Maureen, sent me her too-warm-for-her fiddlehead mittens because she knew I was so sad about wearing out mine. I offered many things in return and all she asked was that I pay it forward. I love that act of kindness and love my warm hands in mittens that fit me so well. (Maureen has some lovely designs--go look!)

Knitters also love the people they knit for. That’s clear. It’s also why we decline when coworkers or acquaintances ask us to knit for them. And when they press us we offer to teach them to knit or quote them a market rate for our work. Knitting for others is a true act of love.

Then there's Ravelry. What an amazing place it is! I love all of the usual things about it, how it keeps me organized and offers a bunch of communities and patterns and space for fibre enthusiasts. It's a fantastic online resource.

But I also love how Casey and Jess and their team have created a purposely inclusive space and how they consciously and openly promoted these principles. And, when they realize they can do better, they open things up to their community and figure out ways to do better. I have so much LOVE for knitters who do the work of promoting equity, diversity, inclusion and understanding. 

And I love this year's Ravelry Valentines. I've been sending them to knitting friends today. Showing some love.

All of this love also makes me think about who might be left out of this love and who might feels unloved in the knitting community. Those who might be doing great work but be relegated to the margins. Those who don't see themselves represented in the knitting community, modelling the designs, or teaching the classes.

There has been an emerging dialogue about white privilege and knitting appearing in the online spaces that I inhabit and I'm glad to see it. These debates about racism, equity, inclusion and privilege are not new to me and were part of my scholarship and now my administrative work. I already recognized that knitting can be an economically privileged space but didn't really consider how white it is.

I need to do more to topple that structure. I need to boost BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Colour) knitters and their work. To request BIPOC knitters as teachers for classes, speakers at events, and vendors at shows. To buy patterns from these designers and to ask designers who hire models to ensure they're not always featuring white people in their work. 

I also need to continue to call-out racism and white privilege when I see it and consider other ways to be a better ally. 

Time for me (and you) to show some more love. 

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2019 Knitting Resolutions

I took some time to update things on Ravelry yesterday and it was sort of like doing my finances, or shopping for a bathing suit. It made me take a moment to reflect and consider changes for the future.

Really, there's nothing wrong with my knitting life. It's foundational to my social time--I knit with friends, talk about knitting online, blog, hang out on Ravelry, do knitting related travel, and generally knit every day. It's more about the stuff of knitting and how much of it I have. 

It's a lot.

What I notice is that over the last few years, I tend to knit what I buy almost immediately. Like Russell Street--the kit was purchased at Rhinebeck in late October and I was wearing it by December. It never became stash. 

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Some of this feeling is likely a function of having more disposable income and some of it is knowing what I want to knit--I'm a self-actualized knitter :) . Having a stash is great. But adding stuff to the stash doesn't hold much allure. Knitting from stash almost feels like an obligation, albeit a nice one. We won't even talk about my fibre stash and my non-existing spinning time.

Resolution One: I will only knit what I have on hand until Rhinebeck 2019. If I somehow encounter a knitting emergency, I will sell or get rid of equal yardage from the stash. 

The other thing I realized I need to do, is keep notes about what I'm knitting. I'm really bad about this. Like, having to forensically investigate sock one, to knit sock two, bad. This is part of the reason I decided to join Kate Davies' Knitting Season Club this year. I was lucky enough to snag the full club with all the yarn (see Resolution One) and the journal. I rather like journals, but am not a journal keeper. I have them at work for rough notes and to-do lists, but tend to use my iPad and pencil for work notes. 

I use my iPad for PDF patterns and do annotate them, but not often enough and usually too cryptically to understand if a lot of time has passed. I think the tactile nature of knitting demands the tactile act of writing on paper. Or at least that's what I'm going with for now.  

Resolution Two: I'm going to crack open this lovely journal and use it as my knitting log. I'll make notes on my projects (which I might type into Ravelry later), write down what freaking row of the pattern I stopped on, note mods or issues and generally make notes about my knitting and spinning. 

The rationale for my last resolution is my next post. But here's the teaser:

Resolution Three: You don't like bracelet length sleeves even though you always wear a big watch and a lot of bracelets. Knit your damned sleeves long enough for the love of all things wooly. Ask Emma if the sleeves are long enough if you're not sure. Her arms are way longer than yours and she despises too-short sleeves.

 


The Blanket

The simple facts: Emma asked for a hand-knit blanket. I like to knit blankets (they're simple comfort knitting and always fit the recipient) so I started knitting in January. It would be her take-to-university-blanket. Nothing to see here.

The longer story: We decided on a pattern. Chose the yarn. Bought more yarn when I miscalculated how much Eco-Wool I would need (6 skeins in case you're wondering--this blanket weighs more than 2 kg).

I knit on this almost exclusively for six months; panicking a bit when the weather got warmer and wondered if I could get it done on time (there was some target setting--can you tell I'm a project manager?).

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Emma did her things: school, homework, friends, cello, piano, a lead in The Drowsy Chaperone, movie watching, prom, teen stuff. She also chose a university and decided her "what's next". Science (probably majoring in Physics) at Western University.

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She finished high school with honours. I finished the blanket shortly after. The pieces were stitched together. 

Metaphor? Maybe.

Or just how a knitter does things. Stitching beautiful objects that bring warmth and comfort.

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I'm getting teary--which is probably why I haven't pronounced the blanket complete on social media... 

Emma leaves on Sunday. She has her blanket, her determination, her smarts and her sense of adventure. She's ready (mostly). I'm ready (mostly). Time for the next big project.

 


Submersion

I have been playing with all the yarn.

The last two weekends I have spun, knit, wove, finished some handspan, finished something for my nephew, finished a sock, started the second sock, started new handspun and made significant progress on my Occam scarf. 

I feel like I'm back to my old crafty self and I feel great.

Here's what I've been up to...

Fitzcarraldo Knee Sock number one. It's *almost perfect. After what felt like months of knitting the twisted ribbed cuff, I think the part just before the cuff is a touch too tight. 

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I'm putting it in the time out corner while I work on the second sock.

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I will tackle the problem on both socks at the same time. This is mostly because I can't face ripping out all that ribbing. Maybe my calves will slim down or I'll get taller or something.

It will totally be worth fixing; these socks are a thing of beauty.

I also finished something for the wee baby Mitchell for Christmas, but wish to avoid spoilers so no photos yet. Trust me, it is the height of CUTENESS.

Occam is almost done. I really like it. I decided to do the medium width and the longer length and I'm going to run out of blue yarn, so I'm modifying. If you notice, don't say anything okay ;)

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Last weekend I also decided to weave. Check out this fabulous pooled warp (Indigodragonfly Wingenhooven in Dminion Unhinged). I ran into a bit of trouble by warping the loom backwards (which took some fixing, let me tell you...) so I'm not sure how pooled it'll be when it's done. I think the merino, yak, silk around my neck will solve any issues with the colour.

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And lastly I've been continuing with Spinning Sundays. Last week I plied the last of a big project using beautiful Lisa Souza BFL I bought not long after getting my first wheel. The yarn is big and fat and squishy. It's drying now and looks amazing. Photos to come. 

Today I pulled out a 4oz braid and set to work on making some worsted spun yarn for mittens.

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The colour is Captain Tightpants, fibre is yak and merino from Into The Whirled and nothing about this project is bad.

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Distracted

I've developed a bad habit. It's not like biting my nails or eating chips while I make dinner (I only do that once in a while, I swear). Instead it's a retreat into a cycle of doing a whole lot of nothing which fills time when I could be doing something else.

Here's how it plays out: I have a few moments to relax or I need second to unwind and I flip open the iPad and start looking at Twitter. Then I get engrossed in whatever is on my feed and it eats a ton of time (it could be anything like some great science story, a knitting discussion, a string of funny things (love Swear Trek) or well, that orange spectre who is consuming almost everyone's attention right now). Then I might check my email, play Two Dots or just tap around on the screen and I realize I've wasted time I could have used to knit, read a novel, tidy up, run,  watch TV and I get angry at myself about it.

Worse still, I notice it's become a family habit. We all have screen distractions and we have to consciously choose to put them down and interact, or do homework or play piano or just DO something. 

Yes, the screens are compelling and I like to know what's going on in my community (both actual and virtual) and around the world, but it's become so easy to retreat into that space and disconnect while connecting. I think the crappiness of the last year work-wise and the resultant fatigue helped entrench some of my behaviour. Now I'm trying harder to be mindful about spending my time before I grab my phone. Saying it here is one of those ways I keep myself accountable (and try, yet again, to blog more often!)

We started last night but watching a movie together (we rewatched Brave) and tonight I'm going to knit my never-ending Occam scarf and perhaps go for a run. 

It's not all distracted doom and gloom around here. I finished a blanket for my fabulous new nephew (I'm finally an Auntie!) Mitchell who is not yet ready for a debut on social media and am working on his woolly wardrobe. The kids are really great and parenting teens is just the right amount of challenging. AND I have a new job that is really awesome and even energizing. All are much better distractions.

 

 


Restored

A last-minute decision to take a longer-long weekend was just the thing I needed. This summer has been a different one for me. Due to some obligations at home (teens need a lot of chauffeuring to their commitments) and work (where I'm filling in for someone on sick leave) I just didn't get to do the things I normally do: Like swimming in a lake, relaxing on the weekends and beating the heat by doing more than hiding in my air conditioned house.

When my brother and sister-in-law told me that no-one was going to be at their cottage Labour Day weekend, I leapt at the chance to be by the lake doing those things I love. I took the Thursday and Friday off and up we went to just do a whole lot of nothing. 

I drank beers with my legs in the lake. I sat watching the water with my coffee and reading in the morning. I read a whole book. Xander and I hunted Pokemon until we ran out of cell signal.

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I finished the pieces on my summer sweater (which I wasn't rushing to finish because even a summer sweater was too much to wear this year) AND wove in all the ends on the baby blanket on the outside table with the lake in view to make the job easier.

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We played board games at night and I discovered Xander is a kick-ass Scrabble player. I ate PopTarts and too many Oreo Thins (which are delicious). And I went paddle boarding and didn't fall in the lake.

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Yesterday while I was in bobbing in the lake, it hit me. I feel good. I feel like my old self. It's been a while and I took a few seconds to lament how challenging the last few years have been and how much being in a bad work situation really messed with me. Now that I've been out of it for two months, I see how feeling down-trodden and angry all the time really colours everything including my time not at work. And while I'm fortunate to have a good-paying job in a great place, that's not enough to sustain me. 

Having this little rest (and another one coming very soon--we're taking a 3 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park next Friday) really have restored me. Now I need to work on my strategy to keep things this way.

 


Off Hiatus

I didn't mean to let the time go by like it did. I actually had blog posts in my head from time to time that I just never got around to writing. Some ended up on Twitter and others just filled my head while biking to work, or out on a run, or while quietly knitting but never made it here.

It's too bad. These posts were about my great friends celebrating a birthday together at a winery. My secondment to a revitalizing new (albeit temporary) role that is exactly what I needed. Our family trip to Montreal and my 46th birthday. The fabulous gradient batt I spun up.

I guess that's all to say that while no one may end up reading this and because knit blogs may have had their time but only the most popular remain, I get something out of posting and I enjoy this partial diary of my life. Even if I'm away for a bit, I haven't left forever.

With that, here are some pictures of the spinning because it really is nifty.

I plan to knit some sort of shawlette that capitalizes on the colour. I have 300 yards so should be fine.

Spinning Sundays are yielding great results for me. My current project is to tackle some Lisa Souza BFL I bought not long after I bought my first wheel--so a long time ago. I have a whole pound which should make a sweater. I'm spinning about worsted weight and will use Custom Fit for the garment because it'll generate a pattern to my gauge. I love that I can spin the yarn that feels right at the time and then make a pattern that fits my yarn and me.

I'm one bobbin in and it's gorgeous. Deep teals with some purples and greens. It's lovely and relaxing to spin.

Hiatus is over. I'll try my best to write more often, especially since I plan to have some (small) adventures in both yarn and life.