endurance knitting

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“A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.”

- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

If any of you out there have ever knit a really big project (afghan knitters I salute you), you will know what it’s like to reach a certain point in your project when you look at what you have made, and feel a certain satisfaction because what you see looks like a real accomplishment. You feel happy because what you see before you is the result of your own hard work.

Now, knitting in itself isn’t hard at all, once you’ve had a little practise. What is hard about knitting is maintaining the willpower, the patience, determination and faithfulness (though some of you may debate the need for fidelity) required to see your project to its glorious end.

In any case, here you are admiring your hard work, wiping the figurative sweat from your brow and it dawns on you, or at least really sinks in, that the demand for your hard work isn’t over. No, far from it. Sometimes you might even feel your heart sink a bit in your chest. I know that sometimes even I feel my heart sink all the way down to my toes when I remember that the race isn’t over yet.

Well, that is how things are with me these days, at least in my knitting life working on my Green Leaves shawl. At present, I don’t feel discouraged, thankfully. I feel close enough to the next stage of my shawl building to feel a bright glimmer of hope. And yet I know, having done this enough times now, there are still moments of knitting despair ahead of me (okay, the word despair might be a little strong), even up to the last 50 yards of knitting. I remember how I put my Hansel Hap away for months when I only had a few days worth of knitting left to do because I lost the heart to keep knitting it.

So today, the Tolstoy quote sums up my coping strategy, my mantra, if you will, to keep me going. Each day I measure my success in rounds and I try my best to focus only on this goal. Right now I have a goal of four rounds a day. That may not sound like much but at 580 stitches a round, at roughly 45 minutes a round, I feel four rounds of knitting is a serious commitment of my time. I try not to think about how many more days (heaven forbid I think in terms of weeks) it will take to finish my Green Leaves shawl. I try not to think about all the other things I would like to start knitting and with fall not that far away now, my cold weather and Christmas knit lists are growing longer and louder in my mind. Instead, I try to focus on my four rounds a day and be happy with that.

Some of you might reasonably suggest I take a break from my Green Leaves shawl and, in the end, I might just do that. But right now, I am convinced I can finish this project before the end of August – in my dreams I can finish it by the middle of the month – four rounds at a time.

How about you? Do you have any mantras or strategies that help you get over the proverbial long distance finish line, knitting or otherwise? I would love to hear about it.

Thank you for joining me here today. Wishing you a very happy week ahead!

p.s. I can’ t figure out wether having this little display of yarn, below, is a help or hindrance, on one hand, I see a promise of knitting to come, on the other, I know that it will be some time yet before that promise is fulfilled. Would you put it away or leave it out?

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kinda sorta did

Thanks to a thoughtful fellow instagramer, I was tipped off to a most dreamy yarn and fabric shop in Burlington called Nido. Of course I had to check it out!  And boy, was I glad I did. In short, Nido was a knitter’s and sewist’s paradise. I am amazed that I made it out alive. Really, it was that good! But don’t take my word for it, have a look for yourself (well, through my lens!).

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I think the blurry photo is due to my hands shaking from excitement (haha).

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I was welcomed by Molly, who, as you can see is quite an accomplished knitter herself. She was working on a most beautiful sweater. She graciously agreed to pose for me with her knitting. Thank you Molly for the wonderful service!

Would you like to see what I took home with me? Of course you would!

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Peace Fleece for some cold weather accessories. I can’t believe how soft this yarn is.

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Some very pretty fingering Meadow yarn from The Fibre Company. I also took home some gorgeous linen fabric by Skinny LaMinx for some exciting little sewing projects to happen soon. I love Skinny LaMinx!

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I also picked up a copy of this book by Heather Ross. It just felt right to buy it in Vermont. I started reading it last night. What a great storyteller Heather is, I can’t wait to get back to it tonight.

Now if that wasn’t enough, I also couldn’t resist popping in the LYS in Stowe called Stowe Fabric and Yarn (appropriately enough) that happens to be near a favourite Bookshop called Bear Pond Books (in case you’re ever in the area). While the store was a little unassuming, there were fuzzy treasure to be found there as well.

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Like this Malabrigo SilkPaca. How could I leave that behind?

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Or this? On the left is roughly 200m of handspun Llama, surprisingly soft despite the guard hairs. On the right is the most squishy baby alpaca from Peru that was hand dyed by a local Vermonter. Both will make perfect cold weather companions I think.

Well, looking at this I guess I kinda, sorta did get a little carried away. If only yarn didn’t make such a great memento. Sigh.

Now, I’m off to work on my Green Leaves shawl so I can make room in my knitting basket for some new projects.

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I just finished my first repeat of Chart D (32 rounds to go yay!) which means I might just get this finished for the fall. Unless I get distracted by something new, that is.

How about you? What is your favourite thing to bring home from your travels? Is it yarn like me? Or maybe something else? Please share, I so love to hear about these things.

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!

I <3 Vermont

I’m back from a wonderful time in the Green Mountain State, so happy to have gone and yet so happy to be back. Home is most appreciated after you’ve been away from it for a little while, don’t you think?

Here are a few photos… okay, a LOT of photos from our tip. While I was in Vermont I saw:

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Dirt roads…

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Dirt trails (on the Trapp Family Lodge grounds)…

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Wooded trails…

IMG_1563trail chapels…

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Cute little baby toes…

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Dock toes…

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Pond docks…

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Pond swimming…

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Barn vistas…

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Beloved mountains.

I even saw an unexpected neighbourly display of…

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FIREWORKS! sorry, they were really more spectacular in real life. I love fireworks and watching these was such a fun way to spend our last night with our friends in this special place.

Thank you to all our wonderful hosts for their splendid company and generous hospitality. If you’ve never been to Vermont before, I hope you will someday find yourselves there, falling in love with those gentle Green Mountains as I have.

Thank you, too, for stopping by today and humouring me with my little slide show. I wish you a wonderful day and pleasant start to your week. Happy Monday!

 

p.s. Vermont is also a joyful place to be a knitter and wool lover. I’ll be back on Wednesday to show you a few more travel shots from a knitter’s perspective. See you then!

travelling

 

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Clothes have been laid out and bags packed. I’m bringing along a special stone to give to a special friend who is always close in spirit, despite the time and space between us.

We are off on a little road trip to visit some dear friends and dear places tucked away in the Green Mountains. It’s been a little over a year since we were last there. I wonder if the mountains will remember me?

It strikes me that some places, if we love them enough, leave a deep and lasting imprint on our lives. Stowe, VT is one of those places for us, full of happy memories, a place where we’ve had so much fun over the years. And while the mountains I’ve come to love so much may not remember me, let alone miss me while I’m away, I can hardly wait for my feet to touch their rocky soil.

I’m curious if you have a place, or places, like that and I wonder, too, what is it about your place that has left its mark on you? I would really love to know.

How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you — you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences — like rags and shreds of your very life.

-Katherine Mansfield

I hope to send you a few “postcards” from my trip, however, if blogging proves to be impossible I will be back here on Monday. Until then:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

- Irish proverb

Wishing you a wonderful day!

p.s. In case you were wondering, of course I’m bringing my “happy” basket, too. Knitting is the best way to travel passenger side!

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p.p.s  Worth a mention and a little journey of your own for all of you on Ravelry: I’ve just joined the most WONDERFUL group for fans of cabinfour’s beautiful designs. I encourage you to check it out here and say hello to all the truly lovely folks there. I warn you, though, you might just find yourself like me and wanting to cast on a whole slew of new projects!

meadow walk

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One evening last week we took a post-dinner family walk along a favourite path. This is the same path we walked, all bundled up in our heavy winter layers, stopping here and there to do some New Year’s Eve stargazing. It seems impossible to believe that little more than six months ago, each inhale felt like our lungs were filling up with a million icy knives when nowadays, in the dog days of summer, we are practically melting in the heat and humidity.

As you can see, this path cuts through a very pretty meadow where, should you come early in the morning, you can see the flattened patches of grass where the deer had slept only hours before. Because we came in the evening, there were no traces of deer remaining though we were greeted with welcome visions of fluttering butterflies instead.

This path also leads us through a very special place that serves as a multi-faith spiritual retreat. While it may just be my imagination, I believe you can feel its unique sense of calm and peace as you walk through its grounds.

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Even my turbo-charged son, Sam, seems to have fallen under its spell while I stopped every few steps to take in the view.

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Ben was happy enough to ride back and forth on his bike.

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While my beautiful sister decided that waiting for me to catch up would be made more fun by playing a cute (and hysterical) little “blow in your face” game with Tim.

All this allowed me to stroll at my slow, leisurely pace and admire the gilded scenery…

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…before we made our way back home, to bed and sleep, thankful for the day, for our feet, for this meadow path and the light that lit it.

What about you? Do you have a favourite, “hallowed” place to walk? What makes it so special? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a happy Monday and a gentle start to the week ahead.

a time of wonder

While the early morning hours are typically my favourite time of the day (as long as you don’t need me to talk), there is a time later in the day I can only describe as pure magic. When the sun begins to set behind the houses just west of me, my dining room becomes a place of the most beautiful light and shadow.  I thought I would share some glimpses of this light with you in hopes you feel the magic and wonder of it all, too…

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…I love how my windowsill garden starts to glow…

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… and the shadow play never fails to capture my attention…

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…until I get distracted by my latest knitting project, of course! it’s Jared Flood’s Leaves of Grass Shawl pattern

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… and start thinking about how happy I am to join the remarkable Ginny today with her Yarn Along, getting to share my current knitting and reading endeavours with a truly lovely group of other bloggers…

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…wanting to share my love of this story, in particular (I really, really LOVE this story!)…

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… and then letting my eyes wander over to some peachy goodness…

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… and taking as much time as my patient family will allow to let all the beauty and wonder of this fading light to work its precious magic on me before another day comes to a close.

What about you? Do you have a favourite, magical time of the day? I would love to hear about it as well as whatever knitting project that’s got you distracted these days, too. I ALWAYS love to hear about that!

Wishing you a lovely day, full of wonder and magic.

the seagull

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While I was pondering how I could translate these riverside colours, above, into a woollen sweater by wintertime, Sam came running towards me, shouting something like “ahhh!”, as he was being followed rather closely by a gang of seagulls. My thoughts shifted rapidly from my sleepy colour reverie to vivid memories of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

In his hand, Sam had the remains of a granola bar and the gulls wanted it. Badly, it seemed. Even when there was nothing left of Sam’s snack, they hung around, waiting. I suspect they must be well acquainted with the whole “mom taking the kids down to the beach” scene and have caught on to the fact that moms always seem to have have food stashed somewhere in their bags.

One seagull decided to take to the air and check us out from above. He was quite marvellous, really, given his ability to master the strong winds that day and literally hover right above us.

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IMG_1354 So, in honour of this bold master of the winds, I want to share the words of a favourite poet of mine (my apologies for the double line spacing and lack of verse definition, wordpress can be  baffling at times):

Ode to the Seagull

To the seagull

above

the pinewoods

of the coast,

on the wind

the sibilant

syllable of my ode.

Sail along

in my verse,

shining boat,

banner with two wings,

body of silver,

lift up

your emblem across

the shirt

of the cold firmament,

O sky-sailor,

smooth

serenade of flight,

arrow of snow, calm

ship in the transparent storm,

you raise your equilibrium

while

the hoarse wind sweeps

the meadows of the sky.

After your long journey,

feathered magnolia,

triangle that the air

holds up into the heights,

slowly you come back

to your form

closing your silver garment,

ovaling your brilliant treasure,

becoming once agin

a white bud of flight,

round

seed,

egg of beauty.

Another poet

at this point

would end

his triumphant ode.

I cannot

allow myself

just

the white luxury

of useless foam.

Forgive me,

seagull,

I am a poet of reality,

A photographer of the sky.

You eat,

eat,

eat,

there’s nothing you don’t devour,

over the water of the bay

you bark

like a poor man’s dog,

you run

after the last

scrap

of fish guts,

you peck

at your white sisters,

you steal

the despicable prize,

the crumbling heap

of oceanic garbage,

you scout for rotten tomatoes,

the discarded

refuse of the cove.

But

you transform

all of it

into pure white wing,

white geometry,

the ecstatic line of your flight.

That’s why,

snowy anchor,

sky-sailor,

I celebrate you as a whole:

with your overwhelming voraciousness,

with your screech in the rain

or your rest

like a snowflake detached

from the storm,

with your peace or your flight,

seagull,

I consecrate to you

my earthly words,

a clumsy attempt at flight,

to see

if you will scatter

your birdseed in my ode.

 - Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell (from my copy of Full Woman,/Fleshly Apple,/Hot Moon)

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 Thank you for reading, I wish you a very happy Monday!

Food for thought Friday

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“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.”
- Pema Chödrön, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

“What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself.”
- Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness     and Compassion

To say that things are falling apart here in my little world would be a huge exaggeration, they are not. However, I think it is fair to say that things are still feeling just a little “off”. I’m sure you’ve been there too. I love the words by Pema Chödrön that remind me that times like these are often opportunities for deeper connection with the people around me – to understand them better, because everyone has their own trials to face and waves to ride (so to speak). At the heart of it all, we are all so very much the same.

I love Pema Chödrön’s words, too, that remind me that times like these call for extra gentleness and kindness, towards myself most of all, trusting that this inward kindness will lead to outward kindness in turn. So, with kindness and gentleness in mind, I’ve been spending more time listening to the trees and to the water lap up against the shore. If I’m lucky, I will add the sound of my children’s laughter as they splash in the river later this afternoon.

If I’m extra lucky, I will be able to sneak in a row or two of knitting as well. Knitting is such good, restorative therapy. I’ve cast on a few new projects that I’m feeling pretty excited about… but I’ll save that discussion for another day.

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In the meantime, I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead and a very happy Fourth of July to my American friends (and a belated Canada Day to my friends here in our home country)!

p.s. In case you are ever wondering, I find many of my quotes over at goodreads.

Flower power

Feeling a little down while I was taking some early morning photos documenting a serious problem I encountered with Harriet

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…I found myself distracted by my beautiful bridesmaid’s bouquet…

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… and started plucking the petals so I could dry them as a souvenir of a happy occasion…DSC_0357

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… I fell in love with the light as the sun came up over the trees and through my window…

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…and before long, I realized I wasn’t feeling so down about Harriet anymore. Thank heavens for the power of flowers and some beautiful morning light, for their ability to turn sadness and frustration into peace and calm.

I know that sooner or later, I will figure out what to do about my yarn shortage and how I should finish my blue shawl. In the meantime, however, I’m feeling thankful for some happy memories, beautiful flowers and the warm gentleness of early morning light.

Happy Monday to you, I hope you enjoyed a lovely weekend.

These days…

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…I’m feeling a little better. Thank you everyone for your kind well-wishes in the comment section over the past couple of days. The kindness I’ve encountered in this blogging community really bowls me over, I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it.

About six months ago, I was diagnosed with iron-deficiency, something I’ve likely been struggling with for years made worse, by another complicating factor- getting older and all the changes that go along with it. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m writing about this for a couple of reasons, but mostly because my home life has been getting busier and it seems that a more demanding personal life combined with iron-deficiency results with me getting sick (and tired) more often. This may mean that I may need to cut back on my blog posts for a little while, just in case you might be wondering why I’m likely to be away more often in the upcoming weeks.

Now, having said all of that, I’ll move on to more exciting topics, and by that I mean knitting and reading, naturally. Today I’m joining in the Yarn Along fun over at Ginny’s.

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This is what 618 rows of garter-stitch knitting looks like all folded up, neat and tidy. Folded up like this, Harriet looks rather innocent, doesn’t she? I have approximately 198 rows left to knit and while I maybe a little delusional to think I can finish it by tomorrow night, I’m going to give it a shot anyway. A new shawl for this exciting weekend ahead (there’s a wedding) would be perfect.

The glutton for punishment in me couldn’t resist purchasing this treasure of a book, Icelandic Handknits, by Hélène Magnússon. I’ve had this book on my wish list ever since it was released last year and I’m so glad I finally caved and brought it home with me. Reading through the chapters of Icelandic Handknits has been incredibly fascinating and informative, not to mention inspiring.  I think what I appreciate most about this book is the wonderful balance Hélène has achieved between her focus on both the past and the future of Icelandic knitted heritage. The  adaptations of traditional Icelandic motifs into her own, new, designs found in this book are both thoughtful and very wearable. If you are at all interested in knitting traditions from different cultures, I am sure you would enjoy spending some time curled up with a cup of tea and a copy of Icelandic Handknits.

Just look at those beautifully graded hand-dyed and spun yards! I would love to be able to do this.

Just look at those beautifully graded hand-dyed and spun yards! I would love to be able to do this.

Needless to say, I have about 25 new projects added to my “to knit” list. I think I may need to grow more hands.

What about you? What are you knitting these days? Reading? Please share, I would love to know.

Wishing you a wonderful day, thanks for reading.