Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Challenge

I'm attempting to put a photo here of a new challenge, lace to be exact, that I will be tackling in a KAL (knit along) with ladies from my Ravelry group Grandma's Hand. Ok, I did it. This is called The Travelling Woman's Shawl. There are two charts (A & B) that can be repeated to make this lace shawl as large (or small) as you want it. The lace part starts after the stockinette stitch part. I will follow the written instruction as I am not as comfortable with following a chart. This will take me out of that comfort zone and be a part of the challenges that I am planning for myself to make me a better knitter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Perks of Being a Knitter

Yarn crafters, creative folks no matter the medium are a different breed of people. This is pretty much the same, I guess, as any group of folks joined by a bond that others are not a part of (actors, members of sports teams, etc.). We connect! Simple as that. We already have much to talk about, common experiences to share, etc. We eventually meet---maybe because we keep running into each other at yarn stores either making purchases and/or taking a class, or at knitting conventions,  or belonging to the same knittng groups, etc. Ravelry is a social networking site, like FaceBook or MySpace, but it's members are joined first by the yarn crafts/arts (knitting, crocheting, knitwear design, spinning/dying one's own yarns, etc.) then by other similar interests. For instance I'm the founder/moderator/administrator of a 300+ member Grandmother's group! And we're all close (lol). Many of us have met. I'm a member of a group dedicated to Motown (& it's music and musicians/singers). I am a member of groups for my two favorite LYSs here in Chicago, Loopy Yarns and My Sister's Knit. So I have met many knitters here in the Chicago area. That is reason enough to keep a camera in my purse (I do anyway). Sooooooooooo, as a result, finally coming to the end of this post (it's knitted related), I have another photo to share. This is of Nerissa (a fellow knitter and Ravelry member) and me when she happened to stop by my former job one day. What a nice surprise it was. Oh we've since run into again, talked on the phone and texted each other. We'll probably next see each other when we go to White Sox Park (Cellular Field) for the annual Stitch n Pitch on August 11.

Nerissa (aka Bravebird on Ravelry) & Susan (aka Droppedstitch2 on Ravelry)

Happy Birthday to Me!

God has blessed me to complete another year, my 59th to be exact. My faith in Him endures. I am human. I have anxieties, fears, fears of leaving this life as I know it--my grands, my family, my friends (new & old & future), my yarn, my books, the music I listen to, the favorite foods I like to indulge in, etc., etc., etc. But I have no real fear of a physical death as long as I trust my Father; as long as I have a relationship with Him; as long as I continue to realize how BLESSED I am to reach this point in my life when so many others have not. I am not more special than the next person in God's sight, so I am humbled by my blessings each and every day, moment, second.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!

Happy Birthday 2 Me

I've blessed to complete another year, my 59th to be exact. I've awoken to sincere and loving birthday wishes from friends via Ravelry and Facebook so far. There will be more to come. I can't wait!

I treated myself to a birthday gift yesterday and it was definitely in keeping with the motivation behind this, my new blog that is devoted to knitting and taking myself out of my comfort zone. Ta dahhhhh. I purchased the awesome Shirley Paden's book, Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits. First, I thought I shouldn't be spending this amount, not at this time! (Why not? I don't question spending on others!). Second, I thought that the material in this book is for an expert knitter or at least a more accomplished one! How will I ever get more accomplished if I don't push myself? If I don't step out of my comfort zone? If I don't challenge myself. Ms. Paden obviously knew folks like me would be drooling over a book like this, with doubts--she addressed us right away in her introduction. It was as if she were talking to those of us who wanted to but were afraid to stepping out of our comfort zone. I am an eager student of Ms. Paden's now and know my money was not wasted, as I proceed through this book.

My commitment to challenging myself makes me realize I must discipline and pace myself so as not to continue to pile up WIPs, UFOs, and OTNs. So far I'm managing. A year ago this time I honestly didn't have the time to knit. Now that I do, I realize I am not ADHD (as we knitters often jokingly say we are). But, now I am forced  to face the consequences of my actions, to take responsibility for my lack of self control when I hit the LYSs. So I am committed to working ONLY two projects at a time though I may have more in the background, and not starting another one UNTIL I have completed at least one of those two projects. So far so good!

I am working on a Knitting Pure & Simple, top down, Scoop Neck T Shirt. I am using Filatura Di Crosa Fancy Tempo. I love Top Down patterns, no seaming.

I am knitting Sally Melville's Einstein Coat using, Elaine, a hand-painted luxury fiber Schaefer Yarn (99% Merino Wool, 1% Nylon). The color concept is one of a series created for "Memorable Women." This color is called Rosa Parks. It's a beautiful varieagated color. It's my humble opinion that the colors are an attempt at imitating a kente cloth type color. The yarn is spun thin and thick in places. It's a beautiful yarn to work with considering this entire coat is done in a garter stitch. It feels good and the color is so interesting. I can only imagine the different color outfits that can be worn with it. I even received a PM on Ravelry from Sally Melville complimenting the yarn.

Hi there!

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write: I was away, teaching, then travelling with family, and it seems like forever since I’ve been here!
I love Cheryl’s yarns, so I’m sure it will work. And the coat is WONDERFUL in variegated yarns! so enjoy!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Friend

Knitting, knitting groups (from the LYSs, online, etc.), and the internet has lessened that 6 degrees of separation. Knitters are meeting each other because we live close together, because vacations brings us close, due to knitting/yarn fiber conventions, markets, etc., because we are more alike than different; and in addition to all the other ways we are bonded, the fiber arts/crafts bonds us in ways that are just as unique as, say championship winning sports teams, support group members, etc. (Let me stop. That sentence has become too much of a run-on sentence which I abhor!)

I had the pleasure of meeting another knitter and her husband who came all the way from the U.K. Sue and I are members of a Ravelry group I founded called Grandma's Hand. She and I spent Sunday, June 27th together and of course I took her to one of my favorite LYSs, Loopy Yarns (see link). We took photos which I am sharing here. It was hot and humid as all get out, but we walked and chatted from the Sheraton Hotel @ 300 N. Water Street (across from NBC Tower and just north of the Chicago River all the way to the South Loop, 47 West Polk. Now I love walking but not on a day as humid as this. It shows (lol).

 Top 2 bottom: Peter & Sue Speechley @ Sheraton; Sue looking over the yarns at Loopy; Sue & Loopy staff, Vicki (owner who so graciously came in to her shop that day to meet Sue & me), Stephen B. (I just adore him), and Liz (doesn't she remind you of Rhea Pearlman?); Sue making her purchase, Stephen behind counter; and finally back at the hotel at the end of the day, Sue S. & Sue B. (hated to see the day/visit end).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Beautiful Sunday

It is going to be another hot day here, but it is a gorgeous day! So many things make this day beautiful and let's me know how blessed I am. My Mom is 91, soon to be 92 on November 4th. Her mind (and sometimes her tongue) is SHARP! I see where I get a whole lot of my independance from (even though at times, as an only child, I felt smothered and overprotected). Well I'd told Mom I'd take her to church today, via cab. I woke up, my ankles hurt (bone spurs), were swollen, and I was tired. So I apologized to her and rolled back over. Next thing I knew she was back at my bedroom door telling me to call her a cab. Okay! I have a wonderful relationship with the small cab company I've been riding in for over 43 some years so it's never any problem to get a cab, the same driver, blah blah blah. I loaded her into the cab. She has her cell phones (not just 1 but 2). Unbeknownst to her I called the rectory and told someone Mom was there, described her and asked for them watch out for her. If she'd known, Mom would have chewed my head off. We have a long history with St. Dorothy parish and church. When church was over, there were several cab drivers that called me to see if I needed them. I told one to not gulp his breakfast down, that we'd get someone else. So when Mom's cab pulled up, I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots. At an age when so many are losing their independance, getting out on "her own" really went a long way to make Mama feel good. She was like a spot of bright color on the canvass of today, this Beautiful Sunday.

I'm Really Excited Now!

I'm excited about this blog. Glad I am devoting it to strictly knitting (with a little life background). I worried about the title a bit, but hey, you have to color outside of the lines a bit no matter how old you are! My blog title is significant in that it, again, speaks to a personal challenge I've made to myself. I've been knitting a long long time and feel at this point I should be a master knitter. It is so wonderful to see the level of expertise and confidence that many who've not been knitting for a long time are at. Well in my defense, the help that is out here now just wasn't there when I started and/or in such abundance. There were not that many knit shops or knitting groups/clubs. And there definitely was not the online help that there is now. Sometimes I think knitting classes are mainly for the camraderie because you can learn just about anything from the knitting videos that are out. As I move forward what are some of my challenges? Well like many knitters, it is to finish WIPs and OTNs and UFOs. I am so anal that I write out my patterns and know exactly where to pick up when I start on an unfinished project again. Two other challenges are lace knitting and design. I'm not trying (if it happens hey, that's okay too) to be a Lily Chin or Shirley Paden or a Veronik Avery or a Kristen Rengren!!! But I think it would behoove ANY knitter to know how to create a basic design. Can't get more personal than that to know that what you're wearing is probably a one of a kind, but it's your own design. First things first!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nothing But Knitting (Atleast 95% of the time)!

Ideally this blog is to be mainly about knitting. My other blog http://www.lookgrandma.blogspot.com/ really is about my life and other musings. I realize a knitter's life entails more than just knitting, but I will try to only include those stories  (photos, links, etc.) that relate to my knitting. Right now I'm trying to "decorate" this blog to reflect it as a knitter's blog!

Getting Back on Track

Prior to my last two posts it's been a while since I've posted. Most of us bloggers are guilty of doing that. But once blogging is in your blood, it stays on your mind until you get back on track. Why is the appeal to do so more nagging when it's online than say in a handwritten journal. Less effort I guess. But anyway, the last time I truly had plans to get back to this blog was about the time Michael took most of the spotlight from Farrah dying on the same day (a little over a year ago). It's my humble opinion that Farrah would have wanted it that way! Oh well, and no disrespect meant to either, who knows! And, no disrespect meant to either, who really cares! Life went on. In a nutshell, here's how mine did. Walking out on faith (it works every time because He is pleased when you trust Him), I quit a horribly tiring job on September 26, 2009. It left me with little, no correction, it left me with no time except to sleep (or try to) and work. Most times I wasn't getting the rest I needed because I am my Mom's only caregiver so quite often, when I should have been sleeping, I was taking her to a doctor's apointment. Or I was picking up my grandson from school, doing his homework with him, then trying to get some sleep in an apartment where 5 other folks were trying to live normally. To live normally, one has to make noise! I worked overnights where my shift changed from 11pm to 7am (which allowed me to get home and get my grandson to school); from 12am to 8am (which didn't allow me to get him to school on time); finally from 1am to 9am (ridiculous). I was going to deal with it though. But often times if I got stuck doing a job waiting for relief, I often was quite late getting off. No overtime pay. Just comp time that you'd have to beg for and pray you got. Also staff meetings were often held at 3pm so imagine that it's like getting up in the middle of the night (if you work a day shift) to come in for a meeting. Of course you were written up if you didn't show up. It wouldn't have been so bad if the meetings were professional, actual business/needs of the company, etc. were discussed. I have never worked with a group of more ignorant, try-to-be-in-your-business folks in my life. Not everyone was like that, but most. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was a shift change to the evenings which would have not allowed me to be the caregiver to my Mom that I needed to be. Some folks requested and got what they needed whether it was a shift change or a day off. I was not one of the favored ones so I quit. No regrets yet!!! Even though I don't have health care. No regrets yet!!!! My doctor hasn't charged me for a visit yet, has given me the source to discount my meds and says he will work with me if I need hospitilization!!! Though so many words, I had more wonderful life events occur.

My Mom turned 91 on November 4, 2010. What a blessing that she is still here and in her right mind! Sometimes I think she has more energy than me!

On January 15, 2010 I again witnessed the birth of a grandson, Joshua Blakes. He is almost 6 months, and brother to Khalil age 7, Aiden age 3, and Olivia age 1. These little guys are the air that I breathe! I was in the delivery room for each of their births. 

Joshua                                                                          Aiden, Olivia, & Khalil
I do the Boy Scout and basketball thing with Khalil. With four children, my daughter is busy. Khalil has graduated from Tiger Cubs to Wolf and is a Cub Scout now. His team, the St. Dorothy Defenders took 2nd place in the Catholic League championship. They would have won if the 1st & even 2nd string had been allowed to play the entire game. But the coaches wanted everyone to get a chance to play.

Here is the really nice thing about this past year. Though I fight for more "me time" I now have more time, more quality time with my family and to knit. The rest of the free time comes when I make sure, metorphorically," that everyone is "fed and diapered" and then I put my foot down and just say "NO. YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!" I have gotten out more to knitting groups, met some new knitting friends, taken a class or two at one of my knit shops and am actually working on somethings for myself. Thanks to Facebook I've reconnected with old friends. Thanks to Ravelry I've made new friends. What's next? A vacation? I'm working on it. I might just have to settle for a fancy room for a night or even two at the Sheraton! It's so nice to be back on track!