Sunday, November 04, 2007

From Me to You

I always loved that Beatles tune, "From Me to You," from way way back; simple rock'n roll and always about love. That's why I love knitting.

Because it too, is about love. About giving it the best you have, and knitting something up which is just spectacular! Knit my English Scarf, and you'll know what I mean.

I knit this in electric blue, Patons Astra, 2 to 3 skeins, depending on how long you like it.
Size 8 needles and a cable needle, and the finished size is about 60" long. This time I didn't fringe as
my scarf was for a man. (Just my preference.)

Cast on 42 stitches.

Row 1 (WS) K2, P2, K2, P6, K2, P2, K2, P6, K2, P2, K2, P6, K2, P2, K2.
Row 2 (RS) K4, P2, K6, P2, K2, P2, K6, P2, K2, P2, K6, P2, K4.
Row 3 repeat row 1.
Row 4 repeat row 2.
Row 5 repeat row 1.
Row 6 repeat row 2.
Row 7 repeat row 1.
Row 8 (RS) K4, P2, C6F, P2, K2, P2, C6F, P2, K2, P2, C6F, P2, K4.

Repeat these 8 rows to desired length, ending on row 7. Bind off.

C6F = Slip 3 sts onto a cable needle and hold to front of work, K3, then K the 3 sts. off cable needle.

And just to let you know how the world goes round, and I found this very interesting also, pretty neat too, (!) my friend lives in the UK but was in Germany for a concert gig, so I mailed my scarf to Germany from the USA along with a card which had a French sentiment on the cover and was advertised as "American Greetings" on the back. So, it just goes to show you, you never quite know where or who you might be knitting for as the years go by!!

Enjoy, and you have plenty of time until Christmas to knit at least, oh, a dozen or so for family & friends!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Late Summer Musings

Summer takes a funny turn after Labor Day. Oh, it's summer still; yet feeling as if it's slowly slipping away.
That full, lush green of high summer has passed by, and now we are left with a slower growing season. Ferns
are dying, red is the new leaf color peeking through the trees, and darkness covers my front yard by 8:00 p.m.

School begins anew, football takes off again, gardens start looking a little skimpy, and that heavy fog which draped itself over everything in muggy August has settled into the river ravine and most mornings lets us gaze full-on at the sunny hills and mountains in the upper Delaware valley.

Stopping indoors seems more and more the thing to do and scrounging around for new (or old) patterns is one of my favorite knitting past-times.

I love knitting for people who mean something to me! Over the years my family has enjoyed lots of my knitted creations, from scarves to afghans to little bags to placemats and well, just anything!

This scarf I'm currently knitting is very pretty, if you ask me. I'm knitting it for a new-found friend who lives in Bremen, Germany. She will be visiting at the end of this year, but I can't wait to give her this, and with her birthday coming up in November, this will be a perfect gift!

I like to call this my "Falling Leaves" pattern, perfect for this time of year.

Multiple of 12 sts plus 1.
Row 1: (RS) P1, *p3, k5, p4; rep from * to end.
Row 2 and every WS row: Purl
Row 3: P2tog, * p2, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, p2, p3tog; rep from * to end, end with p2 tog.
Row 5: P2tog, * p1, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, p1, p3tog; rep from * to end, end with p2tog.
Row 7: P2tog, *k2, yo, k5, yo, k2, p3tog; rep from * to end, end with p2tog.
Row 8: Purl.
Repeat for pattern.
Easy and pretty. I make scarves about 60 " long and then fringe. They always look so professional.

No one will believe it! Least of all you.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Knitting Your Way to Happiness

Life just comes at us, doesn't it, in a million differentways. Every waking minute of our day, it seems as if there isalways something waiting for us. Some of it imminent; most of it pertinent; a little of it of no consequence.

Yes, life can be so complicated. Yet, it is in the midstof our daily frenzy that we can find the best solace.

How, you may ask? How, when life's daily expectances,simply look to overwhelm us. How then, do we make life simple again? How can what I do, any day, every day, allday long, ever begin to make a difference?

Good questions. There are good answers awaiting.

It is simple, quite simple. Just take your passion out.Whatever burns a fire in your heart, whatever soaks throughthe layers of your life and is sustained in and of itself, when all else makes no difference. Whatever you go back to timeand time again; that talent your mother told you you had manytimes when you were growing up.

Aside from my writing, it is knitting, which has woven its very threads into my being. I can't live without it! I love everything there is to know about being a knitter. The patterns, the creations, the yarns, the needles, the blogs, the websites, the books, the magazines, the shops, the camaraderie of others who share my passion.

But, more than anything else I love the way knitting makes mefeel!! It is in the quiet moments, when I hear my needlesclicking, and the very best thoughts, which I suspect are beingthought by someone else way out there in the universe and pickedup by my thoughts floating out there too; just like those wispy dandelion heads which we blew apart as children and watched fly away into the world. Somewhere out there they don't merely fall apart into nothingness; no, they find other wispy seed heads to join up with, to stick to, and become whole wispy dandelion heads all over again.

Whole, from a part. That's the secret to passion. Knowing thatyou, or I, are only a part of the puzzle. We are not the entire thing!And we never will be. We can only give what we have, and that will dojust fine, thank you!

But, there is so much to give! Just take knitting, for instance. In knitting's pleasures are found its treasures. Where can you caston one sole stitch and when completely done, behold a masterpiece evenyou didn't think was possible?! Where can you get to know other knitters,some across the street, others across the world, who know just what you know, who think just as you do, who hold the same passions inside just like you?

If your desire is to help people, here we are! Any yarn, any color will do.Caps for preemies, afghans for Afghans, blankies for little ones, shawls forthe sick, pretty scarves in furry colors like cotton candy and sapphire blue,to dazzle eyes that never see such fun. Of course, there is always Christmas,birthdays, and don't forget weddings. Nothing makes me feel nicer than to hearall the "ooh's" and "ahh's" when a beautiful wedding afghan that I knitted comes out of its gift box and everyone exclaims all round! Want to make your cat or baby dog extra cozy this winter? We do that too!

Then there is knitting to see my way beyond sorrow and grief. Tell me, who doesn'tknow that song? Yet, it's ending can be upbeat, or at least, a metered measurecloser to feeling better. Or in helping another to find their way through thedark. Because to knit, you have to be in the light.

Don't ever think you don't have what it takes to be the next helping hand, the next inspiration, the next big idea, because if you live and breathe and have your being in this world, then the possibility is there!

Because you are there. Because you are here. Because you have a passion. And the world needs your passion. Because with it you will never go wrong. Because with it is your key to happiness. And that is the only way, isn't it, to open thedoor to your heart!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hot August nights

I have a friend who lives in Bremen Germany and she has a wonderful little saying on her website.

"Life is simple -- it's either cherry red or midnight blue."

Don't you just love it?! It really is so simple.

We do tend to terribly complicate our worlds and one of the worst ways we do that is by looking at all of life's options.

Walk down the cereal aisle in the supermarket or stroll into any shoe store in the mall, if you don't believe what I say. How about choosing a nail polish or trying to decide which shower curtain or bath towel to buy? And never mind about brands of soda, potato chips, or even birthday cards or flowers. We just have too much.

Choice is great but excess makes us crazy!

And, then there's yarn. You didn't think it was any different for crafty people like you and me, did you? If you are like me, then you really look forward to the latest edition of favorite yarn supplements, what with all the newest yarns, new accessories, and pretty patterns . Yet, start turning the pages and before you're done there will be at least 15 different projects that you want to knit!

Not two of them will use the same yarn! So there you are, looking at all this yarn for all these patterns and pictures and information, and all of a sudden the dreaded overload syndrome starts to kick in.

Just for a "for instance", do you like Beehive Baby Yarn, or Mellowspun Sport; how about Aran Irish Twist, or Softee Chunky or Titan Bulky or Satin Yarn. Maybe, Iced Iris Glacier Yarn, or Pretty Striping Yarn or Marble or even Camouflage yarn???

So, the next time "yarn hysteria" hits, remember, life is simple. It's either cherry red or midnight blue. Or with us knitters it's "Satin Stardust" or "Sugar 'n Cream." After all, anything sweet will do!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Knitting Around the World -- Denmark

Whenever I think of Europe, certain countries always seem to come to mind. There is France, of course and Germany, and Italy, but never Denmark.

But, not anymore.

Denmark may be small, sitting at the very top of continental Europe, but it's power is not to be under-estimated.

Looking for castles in the air? Or do you love golf, or biking, or hiking or water sports? Love clubbing, or staying in pretty bed and breakfasts? Then, Denmark is for you.

Copenhagen is a must-see. From the Little Mermaid to the Tivoli Gardens, to canal tours to the Amalienborg Palace to the Stroget, the world's longest pedestrian street for shopping (now we're talking!), there is something here for everyone!

Not too far away is Fredericia. Here you can see the "Landsoldaten" a giant hand in the grass, dedicated as the world's first memorial to the common soldier. One of the best things about Fredericia is the music, music, music. Like cozy and intimate, love jazz, or want to be a part of the musical academy? Then this is the place for you! Theatres and exhibitions abound, as well as beautiful shops and lots of arts and crafts, too! Not to be missed!

Besides, all that, there is the knitting. Some of the sites I came upon have such beautiful knitted creations! One of my favorite sites is Hanne Falkenburg Hand Knit Kit Gallery.
There is something for everyone here, I think, and some stunning colors as well. From Spinning Wheels in Copenhagen to Ebeltoft where you find Balleby Art & Knitting, to every little, cozy knitting studio in between, Denmark offers a fabulous array of beautiful knitting patterns and yarns, many of which are Scandinavian and unique to us here in the States.
For some delightful Danish yarn, drop into Garn Studio's where there is something for everyone. Or go to the Sirri store and learn more about the Faroe Islands and how yarn is made there.
And, hey, while your traipsing around Denmark be sure to check out the Olstykke Festival this coming Saturday August 11 at 8 p.m. One of my favorite groups, the Tremeloes, are appearing and they are fantastic!

And for a wonderful Danish welcome, please go to Visit North Sealand; you'll be glad you did!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

There are flowers and then there are knitted flowers..


The deep greens of summer don't get any deeper than now.

Driving along the long rural road from my house to Rt. 6, it's a foliage explosion. The road is a narrow, 2-lane affair with a one-lane bridge across a wandering creek about a mile from my
house. Houses peek out all along the way, but it's mostly woods and fields and more woods. Up and down and all around, the road twists and rolls, with sweet summer's lavishness so perfected it even spills out onto the street.

Low-flying birds of every variety soar crazily; sometimes coming within a hair's breath of my car. Flitting and floating in the air as if under an avian spell.

Through all the deep greens of grass and leaf, beyond the totality of the season's perfection, reflected in towering canopies of leafy naves, cathedral-like, in their glory, lie summer's crowning desire.


They are nature's jewels. Iridescent, multi-colored, dotting the landscape in sapphire, topaz, opal, ruby, amethyst, even ebony, protruding around corners, poking through fences and old outhouses, trailing along ditches, swaying boldly on the medians, usually always in bunches and bevy's, as if safety is in numbers.

Wild daisies with creamy faces, happy black-eyed susans, puffy cornflowers , golden yarrow, the occasional lupines, pretty purple coneflower, snowy yarrow, lush salvia, swaying tall green grasses, stately columbine, fields of wild lavender and pretty primroses, everywhere they are, and they are everywhere.

So, before I go off to Denmark, (my next knitting world stop), I'll post a few pics this weekend of my knitted flowers.

But, in the meantime, walk down the road and see what I mean!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Americans are a lot like knitters

Americans are a lot like knitters.

Yesterday was a typical summer Sunday in July in New Jersey. Hordes and hordes and hordes of cars, suvs, rvs, and motorcycles choking up every conceivable road to the Shore. The Jersey shore. That infamous, low-lying, other-worldly place over the Barnegat bridge. Ocean County sits there all week long, but it's not until Friday or Saturday morning that most of NJ, NY and PA decides to invade it.

Due to the fact that we lived in Ocean County for over 25 years, we're no tourists, only re-visiting what was once home.

The thermometer was showing 97 degrees -- a typical day with haze, and that shimmery heat glazing over the roads while you drive. Everywhere, activity. Roads heavy with traffic, parking lots filled to overflowing with cars, long lines at every stoplight; a sense that all of us are on our own important missions, visiting, beaching, shopping, eating, recreating, whatever; groovin' on a Sunday afternoon.

Still, with all that going on, there was the frantic, hurried, frenzied feel to the day. But, on a steamy July Sunday in NJ that's just how it is. The pulse throbs, the atmosphere is electric, and there isn't a storm in sight.

Each car, each vehicle, is a part of the whole; yet we are all separate and only in a world of our own making. It's funny, really, how we all go where we're going, passing each other, only paying attention to the rules of the road. So there we were, scores of us, hundreds even, cruising along on Rt. 6, Rt. 206, Rt.15, I-80, I-280, the Garden State Parkway, Rt. 70, New Hampshire Ave, Rt. 9, and every side street in between; seemingly a part of a greater whole, but with the feeling of complete anonymity.

That's why it made no sense watching the black BMW coming straight at us, rolling in a crooked line towards our Saturn. On second glance we realized the driver was slumped unconscious, his left arm hanging out the window, his head, black hair, completely down on the open window ledge. The front of his car was badly smashed and all along the driver's side as well. Then, looking past this wrecked vehicle, we caught sight of an suv on its side at the intersection of New Hampshire ave. and Rt. 70.

Instantly, we drove into the Exxon station on the corner and Bob got out and ran to the overturned suv. I, too, stepped out. Stepped out into a world full of people; no longer in their cars, but hurrying, scattering, immediately stopping their cars so no more traffic came through. Running to the BMW, running to the suv. Instinctively I dialed 911, like, I'm sure, so many others did. I was able to tell the operator exactly where I was, and when she asked "is it a bad accident?" I replied, "a very bad accident."

Within a few minutes we watched as Bob & about six or seven other men righted the suv, for underneath was the man who was driving in the vehicle with his wife and 2 children. He lay there on the road, bloodied, not moving, then turned on his side. The other man was still unconscious in his BMW and a woman was cradling his head in her hands while others stood around her as if for support.

We didn't wait for the ambulances to appear, but, the images stuck in our heads all the way home.

Then, it occurred to me, that all of us driving around, anonymous to one another, will, in an instant, come to each others rescue, will put our own safety on the line, if necessary, to help each other out if we need to. All different ages, sizes, colors, religions if you asked.

All different. All the same. All Americans.

You could liken all of us to yarn. Cotton, wool, chenille, acrylic, mohair, ribbon, specialty, worsted, sport, baby, fingering, lace, and on and on. Some don't seem to go too well with others; some are a natural pair, some once you put them together, you are surprised indeed at how well they look together.

No matter the yarn, whichever way you knit it, they all produce the same look, really, they will give you the same sweater or scarf or socks, or afghan; just a different variety, that's all.

We are all different looks, aren't we, just variations on a theme.

So, the next time someone says to you, "America isn't so hot, it's not that great a place", agree with them. And then proceed to tell them, "America is not a great place, it's the greatest place there is."

The good Samaritan would agree with you.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Yarn On Needles....Stones In Water.....

The last 5 years have been transformative for me. I think it happened when I looked at a claim today, here at work, and the street address said 'Brandon Road.'

If I was still living on Brandon Rd., I most likely wouldn't be having any money challenges and I could satisfy an inner itch for shopping by constantly going to the malls or online to buy. Every day something new, every day something else, every day more and more, fill the rooms of my house with more color, re-decorate, re-furnish, re-align, re-do, re-make.

To what end?

Indeed. How much "stuff" do we need? If I already have 40 pairs of shoes why do I need another? And what about the 50 books I want to read, but haven't gotten to yet? Fifty books; I'm not a speed reader, so that's going to take some time.

In 2002, we went out of the box, Bob & I did. We put our 4-bedrm suburban home up for sale, left good-paying jobs and bought an Inn. We moved to New Hampshire, took on a business we knew nothing about and excelled at it; loved taking care of all the particulars, all the business of the business. Yes, it was scary, from the moment the 'for sale' sign was planted out on the front lawn, through all the paperwork and phone calls, in getting financing and finalizing all the legalities, right down to getting used to a new state and new town and new people.

But we did it!

Challenges are the best things in life, they can be just as heart-stopping and exhilarating any other heady elixir. I remember a blue and white placemat I did up in needlepoint probably 20 yrs ago, and how HARD it was, how difficult to follow the pattern, yet I was absolutely determined to get it done and I did! How in recent years I've taught myself the particulars of "lace" knitting, and love the daring-do of figuring out how to create this wispy, delicate pattern which is beginning to take shape.

It is in the stepping forward, coming out of our comfort zones, enduring risk, thinking for my self, stepping up, being brave; Nike is right, just do it!

Here is my latest knitting project:

It's not exactly challenging, it's easy, in fact, something I've done many times before, combining stitches which, if I had a dollar for everytime I've knit them I'd be a billionaire! It frees my mind, though, to think up new projects, new knitting ideas, while at the same time, I'm creating something as well.

And I need the time, the space to knit "mindlessly", if you will, because there is so much else which has entered my life. There's my website, The Knit Stitch, the writing of this blog, My Space, my monthly newsletter, creating a new ebook and getting my "other" book set for publishing.

Publishing! Me? Am I sure this is right, me? Shouldn't I be just sitting here, at a low-paying job, satisfied with what I've got and leave it at that? No, I'm learning it's no fun to be on the straight and narrow, because you miss out on life while you have your nose to the ground.

How does the song go again? "I wanna live forever, I heard you say, But never say forever That ain't the way 'Cause I don't wanna live life by design So never say forever It's such a long, long time." From "Never Say Forever."
(For one of the best CD's I've heard in ages, go see the SweetLife. )

Safe is not good, it's only easy.

And to get where you want to be, can be a many-layered road; just defining your goals is only peeling away the initial sheen -- then it's on to the very heart of the challenge, seeing all the details, doing all the chores, checking them off your list as you go and having the satisfaction that they are now accomplished. And isn't THAT a nice word!

The Inn didn't work out. Not the way we planned, anyway. How many others can say the same? What has come and gone in 5 years for you? We have found another house, other cars, new friends. My nephew has died, a trusted Internet mentor met an unexpected death, my mom has passed away. Big blows, hitting hard, coming at you from the side and from behind; intended for creating great upheaval and unhappiness.

At first, it does. As time passes, though, as the fog slowly lifts away, you should be left with something you probably didn't possess previously; a clarity, as to what is most important, a luminosity on making your life count for something.

It's quiet at the center, quite like throwing a stone in still waters -- do it just once and watch what happens -- ripples move the water, one, then two, then three and more, outward, larger, stronger as thought creates action, which creates more action and creates new thought. If you are progressing in ways amenable to you and you alone (this is life's keystone), then thoughts and actions oftentimes lead to metamorphosis; to a "you" who never could have been "you" even five years ago.

I could still be living on Brandon Rd. My life could be ordered, secure, on track. Or I can be where I am, knowing not what tomorrow will bring, yet believing that those ripples in the water will touch others.

That will make all the difference.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Flavor (or Flavour) Of The Day

Synchronicity. A work, an action, an impulse, that when it works right, it works to perfection.

There are days, rare jewels, in all our lives, where the flow of life sifts over and through all the dynamics, all the free-spiritedness which make up our days, our ordinary, routine, mundane existences, and turns them into that which we never expect, yet truly forever anticipate.

It's only through the grace of God that I write these words, that the thoughts which crowd into my head all day long were determined by a power unlike anything we can possibly imagine. That what we know here, what we see, what we think, how we perceive our world, is a mere sliver of a glimpse, into the powers on the other side. It is as if we've opened the door, but just barely; our hand actually, is on the door handle, a slight pull to reveal what is there, yet we have barely rattled the door lest we believe it has actually opened before us. Sometimes, our arrogance precedes us in every way.

Monday Monday. This day dawned absolutely beautiful. Cool. Not humid, chilly even, 55 degrees on the car thermometer. And this in July! In Pennsylvania! Driving along the road out to Route 6, all is sunny, green, lush, everything summer should be in its full redundancy. As I came to the stop sign here came the dump truck armada with what looked like at least five vehicles behind them, slowly snaking their way up the little hill towards me. With plenty of space to go, I pulled out and watched the line slowly recede in my mirror as the open road stretched out in front of me. How many times does that happen? Hand of God? I'd say.

Traffic was sparse and after I got gas, I pulled onto the entrance ramp to I-84, east. The ramp is long and bends uncomfortably when you drive it too fast, but to the melodic strains of Josh Groban singing the rhapsodic last bars to "Home to Stay", my car floated around the ramp as if seized by the rhythmic strains and in total conformity with its heartbeat.

As the ramp spilled onto the highway itself, the full, last strains to the song ended in perfect harmony to my driving as the empty lanes yawned ahead. It is here where Milford stays hidden in the trees except for the occasional horse farm or hill that appear now and then.

Celtic strains took over and the heavy drumbeat and bewitching sounds of The Sweet filled my car. Again, as I rolled through sun and shade, green and greener, as finally, my silver Saturn descended the rise and turned towards New Jersey, strains of "calling all the people of colour race and creed" created out of Picato Strings, Fender Squire, Korg Keyboards, Line 6 Pod, Soundscape/Sydec Digital Technology and Jeff Brown's delightful voice sounded through the Shure microphone. As the song drifted into its instrumental meditation, I headed east once again, where high hills surrounded me and the vista, here, is beyond extraordinary.

Three states meet at this juncture, NJ, NY and PA -- and nothing this impressive met my eye while living in New England where majestic landscapes seem, surely, second nature.

Nestled serenely today, abounding mostly hidden from our eyes is the Delaware River. Driving over the bridge into New York State, "SweetLife" gave way to "Hell Raiser", whose pulsating frenzy suits the trek up the mountain perfectly.

Four miles to the top and looking out at this most unusual of summer mornings, temps in the 50's, crystal clear see-for-miles tableau, I have my eyes peeled on I-84 going west.

Just before leaving PA a large tractor-trailer painted in the not-to-be-missed purple of "Crown Royal" whiskey passed me going the other way. It occurred to me then, that the race had just concluded in New Hampshire and that those who didn't depart yesterday were making the exodus today and looking for all roads south -- or at the very least, roads west, and then south. Another rig with "CAT" on its side passed by, must be Dave Blaney's (he & I share the same birthday), then something green with "Toyota" emblazoned all across the back, but not Jeremy's I could see, Mayfield being my favorite driver. Another rig with the "07" number of Clint Bowyer all over it, and another large rig all in black with fancy stencil-like logo's on it, which will remain forever lost to me as the trees got in my way.

From the top of the mountain, (Greenville, NY) the view through my rearview mirror is dizzying indeed; as PA seems to rear up at right angles to where I am driving. But, all settles down with the short descent past Exit 2 and then Orange County stretches out pasturally and verdantly with each passing mile.

Mal McNulty is screaming something about "x-ray specs", when the ultimate in RV living drives by going the other way; I see one, then two, then eventually count about 15 RV's in total, all custom, specialty-painted, state-of-the-art RV's, and I wonder which Nascar driver belongs to each one, with their big SUV's in tow behind.

Driving along towards my destination, it occurs to me how lucky we are in this country to just go where we want to go, over bridges, through tunnels, around mountains and down country roads without armed guards or tanks waiting for us along the way. On my drive home as I headed down the mountain toward home, I-84 stretched out like a winding ribbon away, away into the hills ahead.

This Monday was so much more than mere vanilla. Beyond anything blah, and ho-hum, it took on it's own distinct affectations; a little sweetness, some acidity within the workday itself, but, a bittersweet aroma as still the sun flicks off the tallest branches of the trees all around my house.

Right down to pulling into my parking spot at work, and having "Love Is Like Oxygen" stop on the dime as I put my car into park. Who could have ever guessed?

Someone is watching.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Besides knitting....................................

It was 37 years today
(and no Sgt. Pepper didn't teach the band to play)
but I met Bob...................................

Crystal Clear Stars

Crystal clear stars
Lightning bugs in jars
Hula hoops brand new
And Captain Kangaroo

American Bandstand
Transistor radios
Masses in latin
Shiny black patent leather shoes

Homes with no a/c
Just fans in your face
Hop scotch and Lesley Gore
The Beatles - oh! - to die for!

Thoughts like a river flow
Everything I know
Books I have read
Birthdays in my head

High school and girlfriends
Talking the night away
A litany of loves
Only one saw the light of day

Pique turns and arabesques
Grand plies at the barre
A Radio City Hall Rockette?
Who do you think you are?

Suddenly babies on my doorstep
Matchbox cars and hair barettes
Their life from me
My life is them

Unexpectably it passes
School years, concerts, growing up
It crashes into college
And car keys and size 12 shoes

Empty rooms and empty nests
Can make you sing the blues
This is my life after all,
Essence in multi-colored hues.

In between more babies born,
Yet, the old still died,
Nieces, nephews, barbecues and heroin,
In twenty years one life done in

Daughter, mother, student, aunt
Friend, co-worker, confidant
Dancer, writer, dreamer of dreams
Innkeeper, knitter, pray-er, it seems

For courage, and fortitude
For patience, no strife,
Only goodness and love,
In this my sweetlife

For that's all it's been
Through trials and through sorrow
For fifty some years
There's been a tomorrow

Too many others gone quick to the grave,
Out beyond Jupiter and Mars
Yet God's graces just keep on shining
Like crystal, like crystal clear stars.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How Did I Miss THAT?

Cranford, NJ. My hometown. The only Cranford in the USA, I've heard. Just 13 or so miles from Manhattan, it's a pretty town, full of comfortable homes, large, breezy trees and quiet shady streets. Almost anywhere is walkable, from the pathways leading to Nomahegan Park and the college, to the footbridge along the river, which, when it's behaving itself, stays within its banks.
All of my friends from high school, those who lived on Franklin Pl, Herning Ave, Brookdale Rd and elsewhere, are long gone; moved away, as have their parents. Yet, I still drive these suburban streets and things, for the most part, look the same.
For those of you who are wondering, yes, the high school looks the same as it did in 1969; only the steps no longer amble sideways up to the front doors, but were repositioned directly in front and go straight up. They've been that way for years.
Whenver I visit my Dad we inevitably end up at the Cranford Diner, directly across from the train station. NY buses still pull into the parking area, scoop up the waiting, and proceed to their next stop.
The downtown is still there, yet most of the stores and the places I most remember are long gone. No more Sweet Shop at the corner of N. Union & Alden Sts, no more Robinson's or Can Can, (I think the latter went the way of the winds when my daughter was 6 0r 7; she's 33.) The Peppermint room is also just a memory, where certain cliques found after-school refuge in the old-style red booths of the skinny soda shop. Gone, as well, is Seager's, the old fashioned drug store with the soda fountain inside, across from the 5 & 10. Am I making any sense? Funny how words mean something and then don't, how new words, silly words, take their place, some with great significance. Did you "google" today?
So many new businesses, so many new names, a few new buildings, but the downtown still looks remarkably as it did when we were all singing "Hey Jude."
I've been looking at those buildings for so long, the two banks on the corners of N. Union & North ave.; Martin Jewellers is still in the same place. Most of the downtown is two and three-stories high, with apartments in some of the spaces on the upper floors.
There is one 3-story building which faces the train station, and when you see if from the back there are wooden steps and wooden porches attached to the brick facade. Years ago whoever lived there had pretty flowerpots and flowerboxes strewn out on that 3rd floor back porch. I would always look there whenever driving through, and always saw flowers for the longest time. There did come a day when the flowers were gone and the apartment looked forlornly empty. Since then, I've never seen flowers on the back porch ever again.
Just last month my Dad and I drove to the diner and parked along the street right along the back of the building. Walking along the sidewalk I glanced up at the wooden porches again as we got closer to the small driveway area. Then I noticed something I've never noticed before. On the third floor porch, tucked into one corner, and obscure in the shadows, is a metal spiral staircase which ascends to the ceiling, where a closed panel goes through to the roof. And there it is, and there it's been, all along.
And I've never seen it before!
Over 40 years, and I've never noticed. Right there next to the flowers and the porch railings, perfectly obvious, hidden in plain sight.
How much of our lives are exactly like that? How much do we think we see; how much do we really see?
So, here's my point; look around your downtown, I mean, really look around, and find something you've never seen before. It just might be that little yarn shop or craft emporium, tucked away and not making any noise to get noticed, that you will discover. And do it before it's too late! On my way to Cranford, I have been passing by a yarn shop on Rt 15 and had every intention of stopping in to see what I might see; only thing is there was a fire about 5 months ago and now the yarn shop along with the other businesses in the old converted barn are no more. Hopefully, they are rebuilding, but who wants to wait?!

Next post, join me in Denmark!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What next?

Don't stay on "wrap up" too long -- you may get crucified. Or at the very least, same-timed. Yet, when calls are coming in hot and heavy, who notices you're there? Oh well, just had to vent, from a job that gives me little satisfaction. From a job that is filling in the blanks until all the rest pans out.

Don't get me going.........and don't ask me why I knit! It's cheaper than drinking, although a good gin
and we're talkin!

Lately I've been a knitting fool. Working on shawls, swatches, washcloths, scarves, shrugs, sweaters, baby stuff. Here's a picture of some of my stash, at least those things I haven't given away --

So, now what?

That is the question. This summer stretches out with nothing in particular to knit. No weddings, no babies, no special events of any kind; just long, hot days yet to come.

The temperature will inevitably climb into the 90's and then stay there; stuck, like flies to honey. Humidity will creep in and creep up until the air is thick and heavy. Then all breezes cease. Even those little winds which dance at the tops of the trees, just disappear; never to be seen again until September, when totally weary, and I suspect, disgusted with itself, summer finally collapses into a cooler version of what it should have been all along.

We aren't even into summer yet, that happens next Thursday on the 21st, my handsome son, Rob's, birthday, but the days are already humid and thunderstorms roll through daily.

Weather which doesn't require heavy sweaters and scarves and gloves and cars which feel like frozen tombs in the morning is a welcome break indeed, if you ask me. Take notice of these long evenings, after July 4th they will start going the other way.

So, back to my question.....what to make?

I've already picked out a lacy, willowy tank from one of the several knitting mags I subscribe to, so that may be my next project. I'm also leaning to something big. As in a bed comforter. Something in the nature of a patchwork primitve design, the kind you find in some old dusty antique shop in New England. So, we shall see.
I'm working out some patterns to knit some squares and will post them next week I think, after my newsletter is created and after all those hours spent at work, thinking about all I could be doing, somewhere else.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Knitting All Over The World - England

As promised here is the first pattern from around the world. Even as we traverse through Spring, it's not Spring all over the world; some countries are staring into Winter straight ahead. But, don't feel bad -- when we are lost in snowdrifts and flipping on ice patches they will be planting their gardens and watching their skin tan.

June stretches out before us like a long, lazy cat; warm days, crickets, breezes, thunderstorms, sun directly overhead and extra time, it seems, to knit!

I found this easy pattern, called Cat's Paw, on a British knitting I always

enjoy finding out what everyone else is working on or struggling with, it gives perspective to so many things.

The directions are as follows: Cast on a multiple of 7 stitches.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: K1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1.
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: K2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk.
Row 5: Purl
Row 6: K2, yo, sl1, k2 tog, psso, yo, k2

Repeat rows 1-6 for pattern.

And, while I'm on the subject of the British Isles, nothing is more appropriate to proper knitting than enjoying the perfect cuppa! Even I don't usually take tea this way; it's just too convenient to "put the kettle on" and drop milk and a teabag (at least I use Tetley's British blend) into my oversized teacup. (The chalice, as my husband calls it.)

When life gets too uncivil, too rude, too full-moonish, we need, we crave really, a sanction; something reassuring, that allows us to re-position ourselves and our thinking. Nothing quite fits better than a perfect cup of tea!

Over time, rules regarding tea have come and gone, and some have stuck around to enhance tea's qualities. I have created my own little list of "must-do's!" and even though I'm not British, (only a not too distant American cousin) this is one list I love to follow!

So, here goes........................

Rule #1: Use the good stuff! Only opt for Indian or Sri Lankan tea, that is. Anything else is just not the same.

Rule #2: Always use a teapot. Preferably made of china or earthenware.

Rule #3: Warm the teapot. I usually just swill it out with hot water, but warm is good.

Rule #4: Measure correctly. One teaspoon per serving and one for the pot is the norm. If you like stronger -- then adjust.

Rule #5: I've heard of pouring the tea directly into the teapot; I've never tried it so I can't comment. I use the little strainer ball and pour boiling water into the pot.

Rule #6: Use a good teacup. Mine is oversized, deep, and able to hold a good-sized cup of tea, which is what we're after here, it it not?

Rule #7: Start by pouring the designated amount of milk into your teacup FIRST. I've heard this rule is controversial, even right down to actual family arguments, yet it's the way I've done it for years, because a long, long time ago, I heard it was the English way to take tea, and I will never change this rule, no matter what you say!

Rule #8: This one's an option; drink your tea without sugar. Real tea connoisseurs will tell you the beauty of the tea goes missing when you apply sugar, but I love sweet! (And that goes for the rock group, too.)

Lastly, never, never, never drink lukewarm tea! It must be hot, scalding almost, to be enjoyed to the fullest!

Quite like life!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tea to go with that yarn?

"Sail me on a silver sun
Where I know that I'm free
Show me that I'm everywhere
And get me home for tea"

The Beatles "All Too Much"

I think from Yellow Submarine. If you want a flashback just go to

From when I was little, I have always loved tea! "Take tea and see!" my Mom always told me my grandfather would say. He was the tea drinker in our family, and he got my mother hooked, and ever since I can remember tea has been my middle name.

Just because Tuesday, May 29, is the 2nd anniversary of my Mom's passing, I want to leave a little impression here as to what kind of mother I have. Not had. She may be gone from my sight, but, she will never stop being my mother. And who knows, maybe she really is here, you know, "a breath away's not far, to where you are." Go see
Josh Groban if you don't believe me.

If ever there was someone in my life with a smile for everyone, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone who knew the preciousness of life, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone willing to speak out for what she believed, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone who taught me to take risks, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone who ran us all around to fulfill our (my sister and I) heart's desires, it was Mom.
If ever there was anyone happier when she became a grandmother, I have yet to find her.
If ever there was someone who loved to read and instilled that precious love in me, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone who was always learning, whether it be playing the piano, or knitting, it was Mom.
If ever there was anyone who could set a more beautiful dining room table, I haven't found her yet.
If ever there was someone who loved her pets more tenderly, it could only be those who learned from her love how to love our own baby dogs and cats.
If ever there was anyone who dressed better, I have never met them.
If ever there was someone who thought every season was beautiful, it was Mom.
If ever there was someone who looked prettier in a prom dress, I have not met her.

As I picked the thorny little branches off the ground that Dad had trimmed in front of her gravestone on Memorial Day, I felt her there with me; maybe lounging on the stone in front of me, maybe floating gracefully in the air, warm with the sun all around me. I only know she was there, and oftentimes, here in Pennsylvania, with me. Shadows all around me, are no figment of my imagination; I can't imagine that well. She is there, watching over us all, I suspect; keeping us from harm.

I do know this much; in this life, remember:

it is all God's will;
every day is a gift;
and you will know love when you feel love;

but, my mother could have told you that.

So, never stop listening to the stillness, and you will find your heart's desire.

Hopefully, with a cup of tea at arm's length and your passion going full-tilt; for life's just not worth it, any other way.

In the immortal words of George M Cohan,
"My sister thanks you, my father thanks you",
but most of all my mother thanks you.

For all I am, for all she always knew I was, for all I will ever be, I thank you Mom,
and no one will ever love you more.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Knitting All Over The World

There's a kind of hush all over the world tonight, people just like us are knitting away!
Herman's Hermits aside, (if you don't know what that means, just "google" it), in between my ebiz, this blog, my knitting, my monthly newsletter, and my life, I currently work full-time. Not by choice, mind you, but there are those bills that need to be paid every month.
When researching online for knitting nuggets, I often run across websites far away from northeast PA, and it always puts me in mind of one thing: just what is going on all over the world?
As I write this installment, it's 9:00 a.m. in my world. Yet, most of the west coast hasn't even stirred their coffee yet! And, people in the British Isles are enjoying a late lunch or an early tea. (I prefer the latter, thank you, but that's another story.)
Somewhere in India or the Seychelles it's night-time and when we are driving to work, they are thinking about going to bed. There are school buses driving kids to school somewhere, and somewhere else they're taking kids home. Where people are busy at work on any given afternoon, others are sitting down to a concert or a play. I watch The Tonight Show and someone else is watching a morning show or early evening news. The world certainly is round because all of us are always moving around the hours.
So, when I sit and knit, I like to think of others who are sitting and knitting, too!
Who else is knitting a pretty summer shawl or learning how to knit their first afghan? Knitting clubs are here, there, and everywhere, teaching some how to knit with circular needles, showing others how to knit using a chart.
If you are looking for that perfect poncho pattern or an easy scarf pattern, chances are someone in another time-zone is, too.
So, here's what I'm going to do: in the next few weeks check back here for some awesome patterns from all around the globe! East, West, North and South, I'm looking.
To start things off right, here is a pretty chenille evening wrap, perfect for those elegant weddings all summer long!
Direct from Shohola, Pennsylvania --

Cast on 57 stitches. Knit 6 rows.
Row 1: (ws) - K1, *p1, k1, rep from * across.
Row 2: P1, *sl 1p wyif, p1, rep from * across.
Rep rows 1 and 2 until wrap measure approx 52 inches.

(note: wyif = with yarn in front)

Fringe away, and you will get so many compliments!

Be sure to check here again next week, and if you have some suggestions for patterns around the world, please let me know! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lazy, Lacy Days of Spring

Silence IS Golden.

The better to hear my knitting needles. Even better to learn new knit stitches or purl stitches or cable stitches or lace stitches.

As I write this , let me tell you something about a Pennsylvania spring. Leaves are just popping out on the earliest bloomers; dogwoods are going from lacy white to green, daffodils and tulips are at their prettiest. The grass has deepened into a muted, summer color; while driving over the mountain (elev. 1254 ft.) just outside of Port Jervis, NY on I-84, the foothills and far away places have a softness that a month ago was absent from the earth. Pretty lavender azaleas and deep purple-tinted trees rise over the open fields and farmlands which stretch out along my ride. Black and white cows lounge lazily in their big brown farmyard, some standing doing nothing, others sitting doing nothing.

The Delaware River has, at last, shrunk back between its banks; two weeks ago after 8" of rain in a day it resembled a watery behemoth. Early mornings find gauzy fog, ethereal and wispy, settled into every nook and cranny. I can still see my breath while fueling up the car (an outrage - this $3.00/gal gas) yet, the air is no longer cold. Only balmy.

Spring is delicate. Luscious and lacy, sylvan and cob-webby. A lot like lace knitting.

Lace knitting is just a combination of certain, same stitches which when worked in a pattern, row by row, create the most beautiful creations! One such stitch is the Yarn-Over.

Now, you can achieve these lovely holes by just dropping stitches all over the place, but that will definitely give your knitting a decidedly tacky look and I don't think that's what you're going for.....instead, do what I do.

Learn the stitches. Nothing could be easier. Learn those little "yo's" for knit stitches and purl stitches, for there are different ways of doing them. It's just another facet of how to knit. Remember, yo's always look loose on your needle and the tendency, at first, is to let them fall off, because they don't look like real knit stitches. But, they're as real as the rest of them, so treat them accordingly, and knit or purl them as your pattern row tells you.

Whenever you do lace knitting there are specific knit stitches you will always use, and "k2tog" (knit 2 together) is another. This creates one stitch where once there were two, by, knitting two stitches together. Couldn't be easier! And, let's not forget SK2P. Looks complicated, doesn't it? It's not. Here's all you do: slip 1 stitch, knit 2 tog, pass slip stitch over the knit 2 tog. Now, 2 stitches have been decreased.

For a lot more information on knit stitches, just visit my website at The Knit Stitch to purchase my ebook, where all of this, and more, is made easy for you!

So, until next time, I think I'm getting another cup of tea -- and my knitting! Ah, heaven!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Afghan Sampler Patterns

Finally! Winter has left the building!

Spring is my least favorite season of all what with

all the unpredictable weather and allergies starting up

all over again, yet the trees are so pretty and it is so nice

to see color again.

The dogwood trees are some of my favorites. Their lacy

look can be seen from near or far, and always look so

appealing. Which puts me in mind of one of my best-loved

lace patterns. You know, lace knitting looks so difficult, and

that's the secret; it's really very easy and knits up quickly.

I like to call this pattern Gothic Windows, for it reminds me

of the beautiful clerestory windows you often see in majestic

cathedrals. And, that's just what your knitting will look like

when all is said and knitted; majestic!

This pattern is worked on a multiple of 6 sts plus 1.

Row 1: (WS) and all WS rows, Purl.

Rows 2, 4, and 6: K1, * yo, sl 1, k1, psso, k1, k2tog, yo, k1;

rep from * to end.

Row 8: K2, * yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k3; rep from * to end,

last rep k2.

Row 10: K1, *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, sl 1, k1, psso, k1; rep from * to end.

Row 12: K2tog, * yo, k3, yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso; rep from * to end,

yo, k3, yo, sl 1, k1, psso.

Repeat rows 1 - 12 for pattern.

And, so as not to leave out my favorite season of all,

this pattern called Lacy Leaves is sure to please!

It is worked on a multiple of 10 stitches. Here I cast on 40 sts.

Row 1 and all Odd Numbered Rows: Purl.

Row 2: * K2, yo, K1, K2tog twice, K1, yo, K2;
repeat from * to end.

Row 4: * K3, yo, K2tog twice, yo, K3; repeat from * to end.

Row 6: * K2tog, K1, yo, K4, yo, K1, K2tog;
repeat from * to end.

Row 8: K2tog, yo, K6, yo, K2tog; repeat from * to end.

Repeat these 8 rows for pattern until 8 inches from beginning.
Bind off.
Look for more patterns here in the coming weeks, as I knit
them up, I'll post them here!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Knitting and Music

Now here's a real blast from the past. In between all my research and other article-writing on how to knit I just love listening to music.
Just last month on the PBS stations if you happened to catch it, was a dynamite special called "The British Beat". Finally. Now, I love Elvis, especially his early years, and doo-wop in general, but all of that has been done to death on tv, and I know that there never was, nor will there ever be, music like we had in the '60's!
For some reason, I don't know why, I have always had a special place in my heart for all things British. (It must have something to do with castles, kings, queens, and Paul McCartney's gorgeous brown eyes, but that's another story.)
In between learning to knit back when I was in high school, my eye was always on the London beat. Never having travelled overseas, it is still tops on my list of places to visit. And soon!
Learning to knit was so much more fun with the Beatles or Dusty Springfield. Poring over my little "how to knit" book never was better then when listening to "Time of the Season" by The Zombies or "Baby Baby Can't You Hear My Heart Beat?" by Herman's Hermits.
Walking up to town after school on any weekday, my girlfriend Marlene and I loved poking around in the yarn shop. On weekends we would get together in one living room or another and learn how to cast-on with The Tremeloes to the upbeat "Here Comes My Baby" or the harmonious "Silence Is Golden." We could listen all day and never hear the same song twice!
Eventually we would actually complete an entire cast-on row and start knitting! Slowly, we learned the knit stitch, while The Hollies told us about their famous "Bus Stop." Frustrations with dropped stitches never seemed so bad while Gerry and the Pacemakers told us "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying."
Over and over again the deep piano chords of Petula Clark's "Downtown" kept us company on the back porch while mastering the purl stitch. Searching for yarns in our fav colors and extra needles for new projects was helped along by Peter & Gordon's "I Won't Stay in a World Without Love." And didn't it just mean something that Peter Asher is Jane Asher's brother, she who seemed to have won the heart of one Paul McCartney. Naturally, it doesn't mean anything anymore -- but what does mean something is that so many of these same sounds and same groups still play today! And they're good! As in 'turn-your-head-away-from-the-tv/dvd-and-it-sounds-just-like-1969-on-the-radio-good!!'
Now, so many years later, my knitting has been transformed! Along with all the groups I loved, some still rockin', some no longer with us, all have a special place in my heart!
So stay tuned for some groovy patterns! Cheers!
Just like I remember!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Afghan Sampler 103

If I could give you all there is to know about yarns, and which ones to
use for all your knitting projects, it would take up a year's worth of newsletters!

What I will do, is to concentrate on the good stuff.....that is, the information
you will need to begin any afghan adventure.

There are yarns that work wonderfully with afghans, and there are yarns
which I wouldn't think of using. Remember, afghans are big projects;
it's your stitchery that you want to show off, and the simpler choice of yarn
is what you should be after.

I recommend worsted weight or sport weight yarn. And, what are these,
you ask?

Worsted yarn is smooth, and even-textured. It knits up about 5 stitches per inch. Worsted is probably the most popular yarn used by knitters.

Sport yarn is very much like worsted, but it will feel softer to the touch. Along with sport

weight yarn, you will see yarns such as DK yarn, which stands for double-knitting.
This yarn is a tad finer than worsted yarn.

For really thick yarns, turn to the Aran or fisherman yarns, but I do not
recommend these either for afghan knitting.

Do not get involved with yarns such as chenille or chunky yarns. Not to say these are great yarns for other projects, but for afghans, they do not fit in very well.

Baby yarns are perfect for baby creations; the softness makes them too soft for a durable afghan venture. There is also a yarn known as fingering yarn; it is very delicate and I always use it when working open-work or lace patterns.

I know the first thing we see whenever we visit the yarn section in a craft store is all that crazy, colorful, snazzy, new yarn, which comes in so many fabulous shades and tints, that we just have to buy at least a few in order to make something with them! Save these for scarves, or little accessories; but don't use them for afghans.

The one yarn I haven't mentioned yet is wool. Wool makes a great insulator, and has some stretch to it, and if you wish to use it for an afghan, by all means do so. Personally, I leave the wool yarn for personal projects, such as vests or sweaters. They always look great.

Always remember, when knitting an afghan, it is your knitting expertise that you want to show off; whether you knit in squares, or strips, or just one long pattern, your afghan will reflect what you know about knitting. Some of the simplest stitches will look like the most complicated of patterns; and you will be just as surprised as everyone else when you assemble your project and discover you have the most beautiful of afghans!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An Afghan Sampler 102

In my January newsletter, I touched upon various ways of readying yourself
to begin an afghan project.

Once you have selected a pattern --you can then select your yarn and needles.

Needles, of course, come in many different sizes, from very small (size 0 or1) up to
very large (size 18 or 19). Needles also vary in type as well.

Most knitters, or newbies, are familiar with straight knitting needles. These are
usually 14" in length and come in a wood finish or aluminum. Straight needles are
easy to knit with, but there is one little drawback; if you are knitting something
with more than 75 stitches it becomes increasingly difficult to fit more stitches
onto your needle. The longer your knitting becomes, the heavier and bulkier your
project will get.

Sometimes this is not a problem, and sometimes it is. So, what to do?

Well, don't panic, for one. With a little practice, knitting with circular
needles, will become just like second nature to you. Here are a variety of
tips to remember when using circular needles:

* Once you have cast on the number of stitches that are required, go back and
straighten out the entire row, so all the stitches look uniform and not twisted.

* If working a "closed" end, you want to join the yarn at the first stitch to make
a closed "circle." Place a marker at the first stitch, so you know where you began.

* To work an "open" end, cast on an even number of stitches, and slip half of
those stitches onto a second needle. Fold your work, holding the needles parallel; one in front of the other.
Using a third needle, slip one stitch first from the front needle and then from the back needle until they are all on one needle. Then knit to your desired length. To bind off divide the stitches onto two needles, and bind off alternating the two needles.

* For a stockinette stitch, when using circular needles, just knit every row. (Use this technique when knitting using a closed end.)

* For a garter stitch, knit one round, then purl the next round, then knit, then purl, and so on.

* For flat work using a circular needle,
knit as with straight needles; when you come to the end of your stitches, turn your work, and purl the next row, and so on. Continue working back and forth, just as with straight needles. (Use this technique with an open end.)

* Knitting from the first stitch to the last stitch of one "row" is called a "round" in circular knitting. When you come to the marker, just slip it onto the right needle, and continue to the second round. Just keep knitting round and round, without turning your work.

* Keep pushing your work along as you knit. This is especially important when
knitting with circular needles.

* Circular needles are available in different lengths from 11-inches to 47-inches. They come in various sizes, too.

* As you continue knitting "in the round" your knitting will start looking more and more like a garment. The first row or two will be the most awkward to work; once you get beyond those, your work will get easier.

So, there you have it! Just knowing a few circular needle tips can make all the difference when it comes to making your next big knitting project!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

An Afghan Sampler 101

To be knitting.

That, is one of the things which I cherish most. And it has such a long history, too.
Known today as typically a woman's craft, knitting was originally done by men, shepherds, to be exact, way back when. Even in literature, there are knitters scattered around; the most famous has to be Madame DeFarge in Dicken's 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

Most knitters begin with simpler pieces, such as a scarf, or one-color vest. Usually, they keep to a few well-liked patterns, or stitch types, and seldom venture very far from these.
In this mid-winter time, what with Christmas behind us, and much snow and ice around us, my favorite project of all, comes to mind.

Whether you have a real fireplace, or just one playing on your TV, (ala Channel 11, all you New York people know what I mean), nothing goes with your hot chocolate or steaming tea, and that good book, like an afghan. Lap blanket, bed throw, any way you say it, afghans make rooms come alive with personality. Yours.

Of course, you can never have enough good afghans around. Eventually they all begin to get 'old', or become the dog's favorite blanket, or the cat's place to perch, so you can always use a new afghan!
Before beginning an afghan project, there are considerations that you need to decide on.
Just what kind of an afghan or you going to knit?

Will you use block patterns or knit in the round?
How about yarn color and amount?
Do you need to learn new stitches or ways of advancing what youalready know about your knitting?

Other thoughts aside, these fundamental questions should be answered before going forward with a larger project such as knitting an afghan.
You know, afghan patterns are all over the place. Not just on theWeb, either. Pick up a knitting magazine or book, and ideas will start to fly at you. How cute this one is, or oh, I just love this color, I think I'll knit this one.

A few good pointers when considering knitting an afghan are:

A. Decide on a pattern. Simple, right? Wrong! Be sure to check out the "skill level" listed with each pattern; if it says advanced, and you are still a newbie, don't attempt it! They really mean what they say, and you will soon find yourself lost in knitting terms and instructions you never knew existed.

B. Will you use regular needles or circular ones? I find either/or is fine by me. Some of you have never used circular; they take some getting used to, but hold a large number of stitches. So,if you are planning a pattern that calls for anything over, say, 75 stitches, use a circular needle.
There are ways of knitting with circular needles; such as working a 'closed' end, or working an 'open' end. In future newsletters, I will go into detail about circular knitting.

C. Which yarn will you use? That's a biggie! Usually with afghans, I find that the emphasis is on the pattern stitch(es), and by utilizing color, you can turn out a masterpiece with some of the more traditional yarns. I don't recommend the fun furs, or eyelash yarns for afghans, nor should you use super-bulky either. Unless you don't mind stiff fingers all the next day!

D. What about joining yarns? How does that go again? Incorporating lots of different colors, or just three or four, means knowing the correct way of joining yarns, so as not to make your work look amateurish.

So, you see, deciding on knitting an afghan, requires someplanning ahead. Next time, we will pick out needles and yarn, and choose some pretty patterns to get us going! In the meantime, finish up those post-holiday projects now. Afghans take some time,but, when they're done, they are beautiful!


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