lately, loving…

imageLately, I’m loving what I hope will become my first (ever!) finished lopapeysa. After reading Kate Davies’ insightful interview with Hélène Magnússon in her latest book, Yokes, as well seeing the beautiful progress my dear friend Valerie‘s progress on her Gamaldags, casting on my own just seemed the right thing to do.

Have you ever knit a lopapeysa? What, or who, inspired you to cast on?                                                     image

I’m also loving the feeling of having finished knitting a pair of socks for my husband for our recent anniversary. I think I must really love him a lot given that this is the second pair I’ve knitted him in six months despite how little I love the process of knitting socks. I wish I loved knitting socks, but I don’t. Do you?                                                                                                          image

I’m loving how friendly conversations have led me to revisit a previous life, a life when I was much younger and worked at an art gallery. I discovered so much beauty there, including that I find in the work of a favourite artist, Ross Bleckner. I love his use of line, rhythm, movement, contrast and colour in these paintings. They make me want to knit something that captures the same kind of ethereal beauty.

Do you have a favourite artist who inspires your knitting or craft?                                                image

Speaking of colours that inspire me, I’ve also been loving the gorgeous colours of these plums I’ve been making into butter. Plum butter spread on toast, drizzled over ice-cream, dolloped on oatmeal or savoured straight off the spoon….mmhmm, it’s definitely a thing to love.

Plum butter is a very late summer, early autumn food I enjoy, do you have a favourite food you love to eat at this time of year?                                                                                                            image

And, because last week I promised tea, I thought I’d share one last love, what I love most to eat with tea, especially breakfast teabreakfast pie!

Do you have a guilty-but-oh-so-worth-it love? If you whisper it it in my ear, I promise I won’t tell a soul….

Wishing you the loveliest of days, full of the things you’ve been loving most lately…                   image

like pie for breakfast  ; ) XO

how to break a silence

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I suppose there are many ways to break a long and rather awkward silence between friends. For example, my youngest, after saying “hi”, might tell you his favourite knock-knock joke:

Tim: Knock-knock…

You: Who’s there?

Tim: Timmy.

You: Timmy who?

Tim: Timmy-Whimmy, that’s who! (Followed by peals of laughter, not likely your own, well, at least not at first. Tim’s laughter is pretty infectious)

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Or, if you were in the company of my older sons, an awkward silence would just as likely be broken by some distasteful bodily noises, intentional or otherwise. (Also followed by peals of laughter, not likely your own, well, ever.) We’re still working on social etiquette with these older boys of ours.

As for me, I think I’d prefer to break a long silence with:

Hello, you! Oh my goodness, it’s been so long! It’s wonderful to see you! How have you been? Have you had a good summer (or winter, as the case may be)?

To which you would reply: “…………”

And then I would say,”Yes. Me too.” And then we would both smile and I would ask, “Would you like to come over for a little visit, say, next Tuesday? I’ll make some tea.”

And you would say, “……! “.

Assuming your answer to be yes, I would also say, “When you come, make sure to bring your knitting – we can do a bit of show and tell while we catch up.”

Then we would part ways again, happy knowing that this silence between us has been broken and we will see each again other soon.

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Yes, that’s how I would like to break a silence, how about you? 

Wishing you the loveliest of days. See you soon! XO

this happened

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Well, hello! These past few days I’ve been trying to figure out how to reconcile my activities in recent weeks with this space. As you’ve likely guessed in the time I’ve been, well, not here, Life got a little busy – not bad, just busy. Anyway, now I’m wondering how to unpack it all and move forward.

So, how about I begin by catching up with a few simple, but meaningful, activities that have given me great pleasure this past little while?

The photo above shows how I’ve been stealing the odd flower here and there that begged to be shared with my boys at home. If only I could share the heavenly fragrance with you! (Please don’t mention this little infraction to my good neighbours though.)

The photo below shows how I also finished my Celes! This happy knit has been blocked but not properly photographed yet. A little photo session should happen soon, I hope!

photo 1Also worth mentioning is that while I was finishing up with Celes, I started dreaming and planning for a new and rather un-expected project. I’ve joined a few faraway friends for a special KAL to make ourselves a Quill shawl (you can see our collective efforts by searching #quillKAL on Instagram).

Along the way, some of us KAL-ers have decided to make a few construction modifications to Quill which has resulted in a fair bit of my time spent playing with numbers and putting them to work by way of swatching (shown below). I think I’ve got this thing figured out, but honestly, it’s still a bit of a gamble.

photoThis last photo also shows something I’ve been making more time for lately, reading!* However, I have found my reading time is often gained at the expense of knitting time since few books seem to want to stay open on their own. As a result, I’m seriously considering the purchase of an e-reader – something I never would have guessed in a million years I would ever do! If you have any thoughts or recommendations about e-readers I would really love to hear them.

Of course, not shown here is all the other, just-as-good-if-not-better, family bits, which for some reason or another, I’ve decided I’m happy just keeping to myself. Call me greedy if you like!

Whew! I think that sums everything up pretty well. How about you? What’s been getting your attention lately? Do share, I’d love to know.

Wishing you a most wonderful day!

*I’ve also been taking part in a most inspiring read-along here. If you’re looking for a book to capture your imagination, this is it!

to knit is to learn: the value of pushing past comfort zones

 

DSC_0358I remember when I first saw Jared Flood’s Celes pattern, years ago I’m guessing, I was instantly drawn to it. I mean, Celes is such a pretty, pretty pattern, how could I not be? At that time, however, I never thought I would have the patience to work an applied border edging – e.v.e.r. – let alone on a piece of considerable length like Celes.

Fast forward to a couple of years later when I was determined to push past my knitting comfort zones beyond the 3-6 week estimated project time-frame, I cast on a Hansel blanket for my son Ben. Nine months later, I finished it. Nine months is the longest it has ever taken me to finish any knitting project. Of those nine months, a good six of them Hansel spent tucked away sleeping in a bag somewhere after I got bored with the seemingly endless amount of edging to be worked.

However, despite my fears at the time that Hansel would never see the light of day again, I’m convinced putting Ben’s Hansel blanket aside and taking a break from it was the best thing I could have done. When I picked it up again in April of last year, I was amazed how quickly it went and noticed that something had changed in my knitting attitude. My time away from Hansel allowed me to return to it with a certain degree of freshness and a renewed enthusiasm which in turn allowed me to apply another lesson I had learned about knitting. Working on big projects isn’t just about patience at all, it’s also about persistence, a certain willingness to knit through the more tedious moments when an end doesn’t seem in sight – at all.

While I would hate to approach all my knitting projects with a grit-your-teeth-and-get-it-done attitude, I think there are some worthy endeavours that simply demand it. To say the greatest reward of finishing something that you really weren’t sure you could do before you started and the confidence that the experience builds as a result, is a huge understatement. Working past my personal challenge of being bored to tears by endless repetition, I know I gained a certain confidence in myself I needed to tackle other projects I had previously thought I was incapable of finishing, like Leaves of Grass or, in this case, like my Celes

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However, I’m surprised to discover that Celes has not been that kind of endeavour at all, worthy as it might be. Knitting this pattern has been a wonderful, easy going project from the very start. While my Celes is taking its time growing to be sure, and perhaps longer than need be, I think that’s down to another lesson I learned while knitting Ben’s Hansel blanket too, which is this: the world’s not going to come crashing down on me if I take more than six weeks to finish a project.

Now, that discovery may seems obvious to you but it really wasn’t to me before. Previously, I equated finishing a thing within a certain timeline with success, efficiency and capability. To take longer than I had planned, or, wished, to finish a project felt like failure to me. Who wants to feel like they’re failing – at a hobby?! Certainly not me so this discovery was a real personal revelation.

While I can’t dispute that completing a project in a quick and timely manner doesn’t have its benefits or, at times, necessity, what I learned from pushing past my timeline comfort zone is that there is so much more to be considered when evaluating success. Like how taking time to get to know the parts of the whole really, really well gives me a better understanding of how a design works (or doesn’t work). Taking time with a project allows me a deeper appreciation of all the little details that come together in a project, the subtle characteristics of the design or materials that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

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So, all this to say, I’ve thrown a best(knitted)before date kind of attitude out the window and my knitting practice is so much softer and more gentle as a result. As far as my Celes is concerned, it doesn’t hurt that the yarn I’m using is super soft and squishy either, so whatever is driving my knitting mojo these days, my time spent with two sticks and a long length of string feels extra good.

The edging of this Celes can take me forever, I know I’ll be happy.

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What about you – what lessons has your knitting taught you lately? Please share, I’d love to know.

Wishing you a lovely day!

how to <3 your book: a tutorial

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While it’s kind of obvious I have a certain obsession for knitting and things made from wool, not many of you likely know that I also have a deep love and appreciation for Japanese art and textiles.

For me the easiest – and least expensive – way of indulging in this love is combining beautiful Japanese papers with the art of origami. Lately I’ve been going a little nuts making these origami heart bookmarkers so I thought I’d spread the love and show you how you can make your own.

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To make these bookmarkers, you will need:

– a square sheet of paper any kind of paper will do (I like to use chiyogami paper but it can be a little fussy to work with if you are new to making origami)

– a metal ruler and cutting blade or simply a pair of scissors

– a cutting board (not shown) if you are using a cutting blade

– glue (optional) 

– a cup of tea (optional but highly recommended)

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 Fold your square sheet of paper in half and cut along the crease. If you are using patterned paper, you may like to keep the direction of the pattern in mind.

Put aside one half of the paper as you will only need one half to make your bookmarker. 

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 If you are using patterned paper, flip your piece of paper over so that the printed side is facing down. Fold your paper in half from the bottom up. Press the crease firmly.

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Fold the paper in half again, from left to right. Press the crease firmly and unfold. There will now be a crease line in the centre of the long rectangle.

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Take the bottom right hand corner and bring it up, carefully aligning the bottom edge along the centre crease line. To get a nice crisp fold, I like to use the handle of the cutting blade and press it firmly along the fold.  

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 Repeat for the other side.

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Flip your partially made heart over so that you can see a little triangular shaped “pocket” facing towards you.

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Take one side of the top section and fold it down one third of the way down and press the crease firmly. Repeat for other side.

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Take one corner (there are four) and fold it down, aligning the two edges. Repeat for all four corners. 

The paper is getting much thicker now, so you may find it hard to press the fold and get the paper to lie relatively flat. While origami purists may prefer to leave the folds just like this, I find these corners like to “pop up”, making it a little bulky and awkward to slip in a book so I like to put a spot of glue in each corner to keep them down.

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 This it what your finished heart will look like on the reverse side.

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And here it is on the “right”, or facing side.

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DSC_0379Now, whenever your reading time is over and you don’t want to lose your place in your book, you can put your heart to use by slipping several pages into the little backside “pocket”. So much kinder than dog-earring the page, don’t you agree? 

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DSC_0390You may find origami heart making a bit addictive but that’s okay! I’m not sure you can ever have “enough” love for your books.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Have fun making lots of love, your books will thank you for it! XO

A Happy Sunday

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Today has been a day full of family and friends, of sunshine after days of clouds and rain, when the air is heavy with the scent of lilacs and it seems everywhere I turn there is an abundance of new blossoms and tender greens to behold. It’s hard not to feel grateful for it all. 

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So, with all goodness this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Caroline Van Dyk will get to share another source of happiness for me lately with this skein of Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL yarn. Congratulations, Caroline! I hope you will enjoy this little sampling of a beautiful yarn. I will email you shortly with a request for your mailing address.

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Thank you to all you participated, I had SO MUCH FUN checking out all the different patterns you had in mind for this yarn. A number of patterns have now been added to my wish-to-knit list, which, of course, is always another good thing in my books.

Lastly, I’d like to wish Vicky of Baerenwolle, a very happy birthday!

And to all of you, I wish you a happy Sunday, I hope your day has been as full of love as mine has. XO

p.s. I hope you don’t mind me sharing how EXCITED I am to have been selected as one of the lucky winners of the squamKAL competition! Thank you to all the wonderful people who were involved in putting it all together – I’m still pinching myself!

my flyWHEEL challenge + a giveaway!

 

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Well, I did it. I finished knitting my Stonecrop shawl in just over a week, whew! And just in time to enter the flywheel/squamKAL2015 contest, too.  

While this amount of knitting (roughly 850yds) in this short amount of time was a challenge for me (and definitely NOT sustainable), it was lots of fun (and definitely made more so because I had a friend to knit with me, thank you Valerie!). I’m completely in love with this pattern and this yarn.

And the best news? I have one leftover skein of Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL * to share with one of you! Hurray!

To enter this giveaway, please leave me a comment in this post including your email address as well as what you pattern you think you would like to knit with it (just because I’m nosey that way). Contest closes Saturday, May 16th, 2015 at midnight EST. I will randomly draw a name and announce the lucky winner May 17th, 2015 by the end of the day. I will ship internationally, so anyone can enter. 

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Wishing you a most wonderful wool-filled day!

* in the colour “Bancroft

new friends

 

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So.  A couple of weeks ago I may have had a moment (read: I totally had a moment) when my unwavering commitment to knitting through my stash yarn, well, wavered (read: fainted dead to the floor). It happened within moments of first reading this post, which lead to reading the details of this one (it’s a KAL and I’m in!) and then seeing this page over here.

My poor stash didn’t stand a chance.

Of course, I can come up with tons of excuses to justify my faithlessness but really comes down to this, Harrisville flyWHEEL hit all my weak spots.

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It’s wool.

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It’s fuzzy.

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It comes in the most gorgeous colours. I chose the colour Bancoft.

Some of the proceeds are going to a very good cause. To quote from the Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL page: A portion of the proceeds for each skein sold will go towards restoring the hydropower installation, so that we can produce clean energy from that very same waterway. The water that flows through our mill is reason Harrisville was established. 

It gives me an excuse to knit a pattern I’ve had my eye on since last fall. And I have a friend who’s knitting it too – the best kind of KALs include friends!

I figure special occasion gifts like Mother’s Day and birthdays, even if they are self-gifted, don’t really factor in to the working-from-stash-only commitment, these gifts have special exemption status. Besides, I think I may have said working-from-stash-mostly….but then, I don’t have the heart to go back and check.

And last, but not least, buying that yarn gave me that extra kick in the pants I needed to get Florence done. I thought it was kind of perfect how the yarn arrived the day after I cast off. And while my Florence is far from perfect (fodder for another post maybe?), we are becoming fast friends. Who can ask for more?

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What about you? Have you made any new yarny friends lately? Do tell.

Wishing you a lovely day!

p.s. Thank you to everyone who has left such thoughtful and encouraging comments over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned a lot but most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Going at a slower pace, I’m feeling better these days, hurray!

moments of grace


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Hello friends. Things on my end continue to be busy with me not always feeling up to the challenge of keeping up. However, I’m beginning to see this time of my life as a bit of a reckoning, a time when I have no choice but to acknowledge that even on a good day I’m a slow poke, that it takes me longer to do things than most. By accepting this aspect of myself, I also accept the need to start setting better boundaries and better goals that respect my slow nature and make for a happier me (and those around me, too).

Naturally when I’m feeling low on energy as I have been of late, I move slower than a snail and my need for limiting the things I do grows stronger as a result. So instead of feeling guilty or worse, like a failure, for not keeping up, I’m trying to see all the advantages of having to limit my activities so that I can enjoy the ones I want to do and do a thorough job on the ones I need to do.

As an aside, of course I question the need to share such personal reflections but I thought some of you might be able to relate and share what works for you. I hope my sharing might dispel any myths that I may have inadvertently created here that my life is all knitting and quiet. However,  I also deeply fear that in sharing I sound like a bit of a whiner. I guess the fact remains that everyone has challenges in their life and this living with frequent low energy happens to be one of mine. Maybe talking about it here can make difference. 

So, all of this to say, today I thought I’d share a few random moments of happiness I’ve encountered this past week, moments that reflect the activities I’ve chosen to “fill my cup” so to speak, moments of grace.

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Nature walks! Exploring, investigating, discovering and re-discovering nature in every season brings a kind of joy that is hard to put into words. Witnessing our natural world wake up after a long winter feels a bit akin to watching any new life being born. I know it sounds clichéd, but life really is a miracle and no minor one at that.

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Wool. Wearing. Knitting. This year’s cold spring here in the Valley has been a bit of a grace, giving me a bit more time to say farewell (until autumn) and to knit a few more exciting things with the hope that I may yet have occasion to wear them (before autumn). I had a couple of days with no time to knit but then one of the things I love best about knitting is knowing that my projects aren’t going anywhere, they will always be there waiting for my return. It’s a kind of lovely faithfulness, don’t you think?

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Basking in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun. I want to soak in all this soft, golden splendour and keep it stored up within in me. I read a quote in this book recently that suggests sunshine is one of the six undeniable doctors (water, rest, air, exercise and diet being the others). I agree, most definitely. 

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Drinking warm things. A sweet friend recently gave me a pouch of this tea. So good! Nothing feels quite as comforting and uplifting when you’re tired as a quiet moment (in between all the noisy, chaotic ones) with a cup of something warm.

One of the best things I like best about being slow and about slowing down is that time feels like it’s slowing down along with me. Because of this, a beautiful, happy moment stretches out long enough to dwell in and decidedly savour these precious gifts of my days.

How about you? What happy moments have you been savouring lately? What is the activity you most like to do when you’re feeling low on energy? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a lovely week!

p.s. One of the things I’m having a hard time with lately is keeping up my blog visits (and comments). Those of you who may have been noticing my absence, please know I hope to catch up soon, I really do love to know and see what you’re up to. xo

so quiet

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For one reason or another, I’ve been feeling especially tired these past few weeks (low iron levels and lingering cold bug – you are such a bore!). As a result, I’ve been feeling kind of quiet, too, finding myself not only lacking in the energy department but in the writing department as well.

So, instead of sharing my own words here today, I thought I would share some of the quietly mediative words that have been resonating deeply with me in the hopes that you will enjoy their gentle wisdom also.

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 Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it.

   -Simone Weil 

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Beauty should be quiet enough so you can take it or leave it.  

  – Elizabeth Gordon  (Hmm, definitely an idea to ponder.)

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Sitting quietly, doing nothing                                                                                                        Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself                                       

   -Zenrin, The Gospel according to Zen

 

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what was elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. 

   – Mahatma Gandhi

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 Be rather restrained than over-luxurious in colour, or you weary the eye.

   – William Morris 

(Perhaps that quote explains my renewed love for quiet colour in recent months…)

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There are times when a bird calls                                                                                                     or a breeze rustles the branches                                                                                                      or a dog barks from a distant home                                                                                                          and I must fall silent and listen.

My soul returns to  forgotten places                                                                                                  where a thousand years ago                                                                                                               the birds and the wind blowing                                                                                                      were more like my brothers.

 – Hermann Hesse, from There Are Times

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And finally, a personal favourite, the closing haiku from the book Hi, Koo! :

becoming so quiet                                                                                                                                  Zero sound                                                                                                                                         only breath

 Jon J Muth

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Wishing you a lovely day! 

p.s. Added April 22nd, 2015 – DO you have a favourite “quiet” quote you’d like to share – please do, I love to read it! XO