twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

We all need a hug… November 13, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 8:20 pm
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…Oh God. I’m watching the coverage of the terror attacks in Paris right now, and my heart is so very heavy. It’s like 9/11 all over again. I ask you, dear friends, to please pray for those poor innocent souls. God bless them and send their families comfort. My heart is aching for them.

I’m sorry to take my light-hearted knitting blog to this place, but I feel like I’m watching pure evil run loose in the world. And it’s not just in Paris. What about the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East—and few are reporting about it because it’s not, well, politically correct. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before the terror comes here again. I’m not saying there aren’t problems in this country, but I am saying we need to stop dividing ourselves from one another and find reasons to unite. To love one another. Forget about opposing religious or political views. Some of my very best friends have different political views than I, and I love them dearly. They are unique and special to me in so many ways. We can all find reasons to unite if we open our eyes to them.

And hey, like Todd Rundgren says, “Love is the answer.”

There, that’s said.

And I do believe we all need a hug. A great big one. And if it’s a long distance hug you want to give, little is better than a shawl. And best of all is a shawl made with 3 skeins (or better would’ve been 3.5 skeins if I’d had them) of Malabrigo Worsted.

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Recently, a dear, sweet friend of mine has been taking on more of life’s tough times than she can handle, and honestly, since she’s thousands of miles away, I felt that she needed a good long-distance hug. I pulled out one of my favorite patterns, Stephen West’s Glacial Sweep.

This is a much better representation of the color

This is a much better representation of the color


I started it last Saturday, and am just finishing the contrast I-cord bind off. I love this shawl for so many reasons, not the least of which is it features lots of garter stitch and clever short rows in those garter stitch sections. And even though I ran out of yarn halfway through the final section(I know, but I was using Stash, so, I’m not being hard on myself), it didn’t much matter. Not at all. This isn’t one of those lace shawls where stitch count isn’t critical. Plus, though the pattern is written for fingering weight or worsted/aran weight yarn, I am fairly certain that you could be successful with any weight yarn.

Another wonderful shawl I’ve made for sending long-distance love is also a Stephen West shawl (just love his inventive, architectural constructions), and also a terrific shawl for giving to men, and that is his Boneyard Shawl.

Yet another fun shawl to work up for a hug is one designed by my Squam cabin mate Heather Classen called “Shuffle.” It’s lots of fun to knit. You have to check it out.

All of these work up relatively quickly, and all are wonderful hugs to send to well-loved friends. Especially now.

Knit some love, friends.


How do they do it? October 20, 2015

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Seriously–how does a person knit a long, lacy sweater in just a couple of weeks?

C’mon, I know I’m not the only one who notices a fellow Ravelry knitter’s gorgeous project, and then trolls through all of their projects, flabbergasted to find that many of this person’s complicated sweater projects are done in a mere 2 or 3 weeks. Wha–?

Now I’m not going to call anyone out on that. But if you’re on Ravelry, you’ve surely seen folks who knit that fast and have hundreds of projects.

Actually I have to chuckle. Whenever I see something like “437 projects” in someone’s profile, they usually fit into one of four categories: Knits Like The Wind, Can’t Resist Casting On Another Project, Knits Accessories/Toys, and, Local Yarn Store Owner.

I could certainly put myself into that “Can’t Resist…Project” category (although I only have 150ish projects). I admit to having a short attention span when knitting a cardigan. I rationalize that a quick little shawl or pair of hand warmers will be easy to cart around and will make a little dent into the sock yarn stash (Oh that prodigious sock yarn stash). It doesn’t help that I enjoy making sweaters in one piece, top down or bottom up. At some point the thing is impossible to take around with me because it’s just too large. Though that in itself should be a good reason for me to stick to my diet, haha. So I cast on something new, something small fairly often.

I also can’t resist knitting gifts–some which don’t even make it into my Projects List because I finish it and give it before I remember to take a photo.

Still, this category always manages to make me smile, especially when the knitter has nearly as many WIPs (works in progress) as finished objects.

The “Knits Accessories/Toys” category is an interesting one. Even though I myself knit lots of accessories (mitts, shawls, and hats, mainly), I also knit many sweaters. But then there’s toy knitting. Don’t get me wrong–I love knitted toys! They’re adorable. But now that Bug’s nearly old enough to go to college, I don’t bother much with them, though frankly I have quite a few “I’ll knit these someday” toy patterns. Still, there are many knitters who mainly knit toys. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that they have many little ones–kids or grandkids–who’ll enjoy them.

The LYS owner with their dozens of WIPs always makes me wonder if these poor folks ever have time to enjoy finishing a project. Of course I see lots of these projects around their shops, so they must finish them. Guess they’re just too busy to update their Project pages, which is, IMO a good thing. If my LYS is too busy, that means business is good, and that means I’ll have someplace to lurk and pet yarn. ;)

It’s those who Knit Like The Wind that make me feel both in awe and inadequate.

This is "Darling Emma" by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

This is “Darling Emma” by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago, I decided to pick up an old WIP that I really loved and “finish the dang thing already.” There wasn’t anything wrong with it; I loved the pattern, adored the yarn, and had been steadily working on it–for about 2 years! I just couldn’t seem to find a chunk of uninterrupted time to make substantial progress. Seriously, sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win the race. You’re just slow. I think it requires steady focus to finish the race.

And because I wanted to wear the sweater to a wedding (two and a half weeks from then), and it was only 30 percent finished, I certainly had a reason to focus.

What I really needed was uninterrupted time. Ha. Ha.

I worked on that puppy every single chance I got, mostly ignoring the housework and barely feeding my family. And though at times I wondered if it actually would be possible to finish, I did it!

Which lead me to the very unscientific conclusion that someone who can knit a huge, and/or complicated sweater or shawl in just a couple of weeks has either a housekeeper and cook, or is just plain fast as hell. Mad Skills!

This little cutie shawl's been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag...;)

This little cutie shawl’s been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag…;)


Where do I begin? September 12, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Yep, it’s been a while. A long while. I know this hasn’t been the first time, but it was the first time I considered stopping the blog altogether.

I don’t know what to say other than in the past few months, my life feels like that spare room/closet/out of the way corner/basement/attic in everyone’s house…you know, the one where you open the door and pitch stuff inside and tell yourself that you’ll get to it later. That’s about the best way I can describe it all.

At the start of the summer, I was just back from Squam, refreshed and filled with ideas. Then the reality of the everyday forced its unwelcome self into my life, while the practical part of me insisted I need to finish every last thing I’d started in the past year.

There were stories that needed editing. Those were high on the list. Then came the knitting UFOs (unfinished objects) I was itching to finish. Next, there was a test knit to finish, yarn to dye, rosaries and jewelry to finish, photograph, and list on Etsy. There were new knitting patterns I was anxious to start. Gift knitting for new babies and brides, and friends who’re not feeling well filled that space. I wanted to use my dang PMC kiln already. A course in the “The Artist’s Way” was repeatedly started and put on hiatus. I was going to teach myself screenplay writing. I wanted to sew project bags and learn how to use my new serger. There was berry-picking with Bug and making jam. I wanted to start to look through college guidebooks for Bug (I know, right?). The bedroom and bathrooms needed painting. The roses needed work, and one of these days I was going to finish transcribing all my recipes written on scraps of paper into the new recipe binder I bought when Borders was going out of business.

Phew. That was just the stuff I’d written down at the beginning of June. I know,  I have that “eyes bigger than my stomach” syndrome. But also, I feel that part of my problem is I feel life passing so fast, now. It’s a blur. And in considering what I want to do each day, I become nearly paralyzed with the choices that I end up doing something mindless like cleaning out the medicine cabinet. It’s so frustrating.

And then there was blogging.

Let me start by saying, though little of what I have to say is of much consequence, I do love it. I especially love the connection it provides with people I might never have the chance to meet otherwise. It’s a sharing space, a place of reflection and community.

That said, this past summer, every time I pulled up the “New Post” page, I admit I was just stuck. I felt pulled in so many directions, I couldn’t seem to make a coherent string of words come out of my head. Some of it made it to Instagram, but mostly it just swirled around in my head.


So, here’s a quick recap of summer stuff that actually happened (the photos have jumbled themselves all up, but I think you’ll be able to figure out what’s what. Sorry):


IMG_3394Berry-picking with Bug and jam-makingIMG_3400

I finished a number of UFOs and about 5 gift-knitting things (here are just a few)IMG_3414IMG_3737










Yarn-dyeing! (Oh yes, and a pattern for mitts to make with some of the yarn, too!)










A girlie road trip with my sis, niece, and Bug to check out Grinnell College.











A new short story was finished and many recipes written into new binder, too.

So, there’s still a lot to accomplish…just gonna chip away at it all a little at a time. Makes me feel a little like Sisyphus, though.


Perhaps if I hijack one of these bad boys, I’ll get it done. Eventually



Oh my Garters! June 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 11:08 am
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Magnificent Oyster shawl by WeaverKnits in  Stonehedge Fiber's Crazy mill ends.

Magnificent Oyster shawl by WeaverKnits in
Stonehedge Fiber’s Crazy mill ends. The colors are really interesting and unusual. 

Recently, I find myself at work on two different shawls, both featuring the homey-looking garter stitch. For those readers who don’t dabble in fiber and string, garter stitch is when you knit every row back and forth on a piece of flat knitting, instead of stockinette, which is alternating knitting one row and purling the next. Overall it looks rather bumpy instead of smooth.

Garter stitch is fluid, relaxing. Some say boring, and though I partially agree with that, I also find garter stitch to be a bit like meditation practice. The chattering, annoying mind that won’t be still in meditation is to me similar to the nagging thought that garter stitch is tedious. Recognize it, but keep knitting. Once I accept that this repetitive stitch is so simple it can be uninspiring, it becomes a non-issue. Simply knit on.

I knit in the continental style which means I only need to make very small movements with my hands to produce a stitch. The yarn flows easily through my fingers. Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit…it becomes soothing, not really mindless, but rather, intuitive. Peaceful. It is a good break for my mind.

Many folks claim knitting is relaxing, however I must add that, in my opinion, the only time knitting is relaxing is when the project is working out the way you want it to.

To me, garter stitch is restful, and I’ve decided that if I’m wise, I’ll be certain to have some sort of garter stitch project on hand to work out the stresses of life (BTW, also it’s proven to be a good knitting choice for social knitting that includes wine, or for foreign film watching).

Shuffle shawl by Heather Claussen--Test knitting this clever design by a new Squam buddy.

Shuffle shawl by Heather Claussen–Test knitting this clever design by a new Squam buddy.


Was it all just a dream…? June 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Squam Art Workshops, that is. (warning: picture-heavy post; not sure how the type will wrap, so, sorry in advance.)

The entire experience seemed to flow past me so very quickly that I was swept away in it all like a leaf in a stream, riding along, taking it all in until I was deposited at last on the shore.

Breathless. All of it.

I cried when I finally arrived, Elizabeth greeting every person with a hug (unless you were a hand-shaking sort of person); I cried a bit when I left.

I must be honest: I was rather scared of going to Squam alone. I wouldn’t know a soul there. Not face-to-face “know,” anyway. I’d have a roommate I’d never met before and stay in a cabin full of ten other women with one shower and 2 bathrooms. There would be nature. Like spiders and mosquitoes and mice. There would be designer/artist luminaries–people whose work I’d knitted or “queued,” or blogs I’ve read. But they’d be here…going through the dinner line with me.

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

But from the moment I got into the shuttle at Manchester Airport, and serendipitously met one of my teachers, Kerry Lemon, I felt welcomed.

So, Kerry…I felt I knew her a wee bit already as she was a “guest speaker” via a video she made for Elizabeth’s online class, The Magic of Myth. And she was even more delightful in person. I felt like we had an instant connection, full of “right, me too!” moments, the entire way on that ride in. I couldn’t wait to take her class, since I love her art, and the ride into Squam made me even more excited. And also in that connection, I felt a bit calmer about my decision to go.

And silly me to worry about the cabin situation…I felt welcomed in that amazing cabin as a stumbled through the creaky door and met my roomies. Elizabeth and Forrest–so wise, those two–set up this cabin with half of us newbies/first-timers, and the other half, women who’d been there before (one, seven times, if I recall correctly) and helped us find our way. I began calling them our Squam sages. They knew how to rearrange the furniture so that we could all sit around the fire at the same time. They knew to bring lots of wine. They were fun, and friendly, and patient, and generous–and knew how to have a really good time. Really good…

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

The back porch...

The back porch…

The shower thing worked itself out just fine.

And my roommate was sweet, considerate, and all-around delightful.

There was nothing to worry about at all.

And all of it was as wonderful, or surpassed my expectations (I know we were warned not to have any pre-conceived notions, but that is nearly impossible, you know?). I loved my classes: Drawn Together, with Kerry, and Found Poetry, with amazing poet Sarah Sousa. Lovedlovedloved. Both teachers put so much thought and preparation into their classes. Both classes challenged me and nurtured me, and I went away from each feeling a bit more confident, and more inquisitive and thoughtful regarding my drawing and writing. Really inspired. (Both of them have wonderful blogposts about their own experiences at Squam–and a little picture of one of the things I made is in Sarah’s blog. Go look.)

I found myself sitting down at tables to have lunch with complete strangers, and very comfortable about it I might say, too. In fact, the day I asked to sit down with a woman who was sitting by herself, we found ourselves spontaneously joined by several other women, including knitting designer Amy Herzog (her website is in my blogroll, BTW), and she asked to join us!

So you knitters who are on Ravelry will also likely know some of these other names: Clara Parkes, Ysolda Teague, Kate Atherley, Gudrun Johnson, Thea Colman, Bristol Ivy, Ravelry’s own Jess and Casey with their adorable baby son, along with artists like Kerry Lemon, Ann Wood, and Colleen Attara, to name just a few. Not all were teaching; some were speaking, and some were there just to be there. I wanted to snap photos of them, but it seemed weird. It was hard not to fan-girl, though, let me tell you.

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators…plus a story about a skunk. ;)

And then there was the always welcoming “hostess,” Elizabeth Duvivier who floated through the dining hall sprinkling faery dust and sunshine and smiles on everyone.

Okay, at the risk “woo-woo”ing the whole experience, I just have to tell you what I told Elizabeth on the last day there…I felt all filled up inside. Like nurtured and recharged. She responded by telling me that it was because I found “my tribe.” She was right. No matter what our ages were, or where we’d travelled from to be there, we had a common link: we all were driven to explore and be creative, and most of all, encourage one another.

And now, even though the days spent at Squam seem rather like a dream now, I am even more focused on making every day creative.

I cannot wait to go back next year.

And now, a little of my photo album…

Check-in and everyone's in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

Check-in, and everyone’s in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.



All the views were as spectacular as these...

All the views were as spectacular as these…

Kerry's class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone...

Kerry’s class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone…

We passed the journals through the class and everyone worked in everyone else’s journal for an interesting exercise in color and technique

An example of one of Kerry's own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

An example of one of Kerry’s own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse...

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse…


And to the Art and Craft Fair

And to the Art and Craft Fair

My fav new bumper stickerMy fav new bumper sticker


Decisions, decisions. Again. May 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merono light

Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merino light

What to bring on a trip always gets me in a dither. Here’s one of the places in my life where being organized is key to not making my head explode. I admit it—I start a list of what to bring the moment I make the plane reservations. It’s a list that has a hallowed spot on the little table beside the “chair,” a pencil alwaysalways resting at the ready on top. Oh yes, and I check the weather at my destination twice daily using my Yahoo weather app. I love to be prepared.

You can’t imagine the cranial chaos that ensues for me when Captain Romance suggests a spur of the moment overnighter. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be able to throw a few things (usually all black), makeup, some not-sensible shoes, and some fabulous earrings into a weekender and flit out the door. I blame motherhood.

After Bug was born I learned that if I wasn’t prepared for all diapering/clothing/hunger/thirst/boredom/stuffed animal emergencies and had diapers & wipes/a complete second outfit/cheerios/water/crayons, paper, chunky picture books/blue puppy and “beanie baby of the day” in my backpack, I would pay, and pay dearly for my foolish forgetfulness. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ve probably seen the parent in the restaurant/plane who didn’t prep for this and the sad consequences that occur. And unfortunately everyone in the vicinity has to suffer share in the experience. But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry.

As a knitter, this crazy “what to bring” list takes on a whole new dimension. I will confess to having some 600+ items in my Ravelry queue. But in my own defense, my queue consists of what I’d love to knit, not necessarily what I will absolutely knit. I tend to “fave” lots of projects because they’re lovely or helpful, and if I put those pieces I’d really like to knit in that favorites list, I’d never remember which ones they were.

Anyway, since I’m headed off to Squam (!!!), I must decide what to bring. It must be the sort of thing that can be knitted during lots of conversation(no lace), something that can be started and stopped easily (again, no lace), but not something that requires I drag lots of yarn along, like all the cardigans currently in my WIPs (works in progress). This narrows the field considerably to the following items: plainish shawls, mitts, socks, scarves.

Well, let’s knock the scarves right off the list to begin with. Scarves—unless they’re knit from something bulkyish—just bore me out of my brains. Well, except for that “mini mania” scarf. That’s one I’m dying to make…but I think not for “in public knitting.” I’d screw it up!

Can't wait to play with this!

Can’t wait to play with this!

So after scrolling through the list and going through the prodigious stash, I’ve decided to do these two things: Quill, a lovely shawl that’s a huge chunk of garter in the center—practically perfect for knitting and chatting. But a wise knitter knows to bring a spare project, just in case: using this amazing knitting algorithm idea by Statnerd on Ravelry, and this lovely basic arm warmers/mitts pattern from Fairieisle on Ravelry, I’m gonna attempt (attempt, mind you) a planned pooling project with this gorgeous Miss Babs Yummy “Cleopatra.” I’ll have to play with a swatch, first, but it’ll be a fun experiment, and perhaps if I’m lucky, there will be some “planned pooling” experts at Squam.


It’s Glittery! April 30, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , , , ,
This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don't need to return it to redeem it!

This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don’t need to return it to redeem it!

Wow! Would you look at the beautiful certificate I got in the mail yesterday from Elizabeth and Forrest?! I will treasure it forever!!

It’s so special!! Pictures just don’t do it justice—it’s hand painted and glittered, and look: my name is on it! Joy! and smiles! and so much gratitude. And peace. So much peace. The fact that I was able to communicate my feelings and have them understood brings me personally so much peace and joy.

I am so filled with gratitude right now for all of you, my dear friends. Thank you one and all for your kind words and encouragement. The little girl deep inside feels very nurtured right now. Thank you.

Edited to add: I just found out that this lovely piece of art was created by Forrest! He is so very talented—you should see some of his beautiful photography, too! Oh, I am so excited to soon be able to spend time with so many dear and creative people at Squam!

See the sweet card, too?! Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

See the sweet card, too?!
Even the packaging was soooo pretty!



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