so quiet

DSC_0347

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.

DSC_0339

 

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

   -Simone Weil 

DSC_0370

 

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

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

DSC_0339

 

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

DSC_0346

DSC_0344

 

 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…)

DSC_0410

 

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

DSC_0358

DSC_0341

 

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

becoming so quiet                                                                                                                                  Zero sound                                                                                                                                         only breath

- Jon J Muth

DSC_0352

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

spring shifting

DSC_0405

These days, I find myself in a shifting stage of life. Actually, it seems as though my days are much like this season we’re in now, moving from winter into spring, feeling the power of the sun gaining strength and noticing how the world is responding in turn. Much like I’m basking in this changing spring light and enjoying its happy warmth whenever I can, I’m savouring the unique qualities of this stage in my life, too, mindful of how precious it is. (Perhaps this explains why there have been fewer posts here?)

Of course, the knitter in me is very aware of how quickly this particular time is passing, too, of how the days of wool wearing are dwindling. I, in turn, am rushing to get as many projects done before that precious window of wool-wearing-time is over so I can have the immediate gratification of wearing the fruits of my labour. (Who doesn’t love a bit of immediate gratification?)

Do any of you find yourselves in the same frame of mind? While it really shouldn’t come as any surprise, it strikes me how weather dependent we knitters are.

DSC_0421

So, ever hopeful in my knitting ambitions, there is a Celes in the works. I’m using this yarn I was given by a dear friend (it’s from Ontario – hurray!). Isn’t it beautiful? I think it reflects the beauty of the giver, too.

DSC_0427

There’s also an Aristida Shawl, (very much inspired by Lori’s lovely version), in the most wonderful yarn (hand-dyed by a most wonderful person).

The changing of seasons always make me feel as though I am on the brink of a new adventure, one that is full of hope and one when so much is possible. Of all the qualities this season has to offer, one thing I love most about spring is how it invites us outdoors, free from the appendages of all those heavy and time consuming outdoor layers (especially for those of us with young children to dress) and, yet, still allows for a few luxurious comforts of woollen things. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Of course, there’s all that you can do outside in spring that you can’t do in winter.

DSC_0439

Knit. (That’s Florence coming along ever so slowly.)

DSC_0428

Wear flip-flops while there’s still snow on the ground (and not freeze your toes).

DSC_0438

Witness the sheer joy that happens on a yellow-brown lawn. (A brown lawn doesn’t induce this kind of happiness in the fall)

DSC_0418

Admire the sun on bare branches, (knowing they won’t be bare for much longer).

DSC_0431

Listen to the sounds of a (summer) homecoming.

Spring is good in my part of the world, how about yours? Are you feeling the gentle shift of things, too?

Wishing you a lovely day!

knitting through doubt

DSC_0363

Late last November when the magnitude of my stash really started to hit me hard (maybe it was finding yarn in every room in the house) and my resolution to work through it was growing, my first conscious stash busting project took form in this shawl.

I had been holding on to some lovely Shetland yarn for years and years (my guess is somewhere between 7-10), waiting for the perfect pattern to come along. Staring at this fuzzy pile of unrealized knitting potential, I finally admitted that the “perfect” project wasn’t just going to land at my feet and knew that I would have to go searching for it instead. Jared Flood’s Terra seemed to fit the bill, well, perfectly.

Excited by the prospect of having a new shawl in time for Christmas, I cast on and happily knit and knit until I discovered that I wasn’t knitting so happily anymore. Doubt had set in. I doubted the yarn – was it soft enough to wear so close to my neck? I doubted my pattern-to-yarn matchmaking skills – was I making a lovely pattern boring with my pale grey-white yarn? Mostly, I doubted my patience to work through all those garter ridge rows that I kept messing up (give me lace – I’m fine, give me a simple garter stitch pattern – I’m hopeless, go figure).

So, I followed the adage “when in doubt, do nothing” and put it aside for four months and made myself a different shawl for Christmas (details coming soon). It wasn’t until last week that I decided to either finish it or frog it. As you can see, I chose to finish it, despite the doubt that lingered. In fact, it seemed the doubt increased with every garter-stitch row I knit. When I finally made it to the lace section, suddenly all the doubt vanished, the knitting elements I had doubted made “sense” and voilà, I had a new shawl for Easter, too!

photo

Lesson learned: when in doubt it is wise to press the pause button and have a think-through but sometimes you just have to work past the doubt for an answer to emerge. In my case, the answer was I had indeed found the “perfect” pattern for my beautiful yarn which, I’m happy to report, has now realized its full knitted potential*. Hurray!

Don’t you just love when that happens? Has it happened to you recently?

Wishing you a lovely day!

* details here

enough – at odds

DSC_0370

Last week I wrote a bit about the things I really like about working mostly from my yarn stash, the things that have made my knitting pursuits easier and how working form my stash has really confirmed my natural tendencies towards fuzzy, more “rustic” natural yarns.

So now that I’ve got my yarn preferences figured out and more than enough of that kind of yarn at hand, you might think that everything would fall into place in terms of lining up my projects and loving everything I make. I’m happy to report that for the most part, it does, except when I come across a pattern I really like that requires a round, “smooth” yarn. This very thing happened most recently when I saw that Liesl put a call out for test knitters for the cutest little hat.

When I first saw Liesl’s Clara May Hat, I instantly fell for the textured stitch patterns she had chosen that give the hat a laid back, folksy feel, in other words, the kind of design qualities I’m drawn to. Naturally, I rushed to sign myself up right away.

Having learned the hard way years ago of the importance of using a round, smooth and crisp yarn for textured patterns, I knew I would have to look beyond my stash for the right yarn to knit the Clara May Hat. Happy for an excuse to visit a yarn shop, I selected a yarn I thought would yield good stitch definition. You can imagine my frustration when my swatch quickly revealed how wrong my choice in yarn was. My love for soft, natural and fuzzy yarn strikes again and made a fuzzy, sloppy mess of the textured stitches. Ugh.

the "bad" yarn I'm referring to is the brown sample on top - this was the only photo I took before ripping it apart

the “bad” yarn I’m referring to is the brown sample on top – this was the only photo I took before ripping it apart, the dark grey sample underneath shows Cascade 220 – not bad but not very exciting either

Wanting to produce a good finished test for Liesl while also respecting my financial limitations, I dug deep into the corners of my stash. I came up with one skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, already wound (had I used any of it? I couldn’t remember) and knew it would be good match for Clara May. And it was good, really good actually, until I got several inches in and that sinking feeling of maybe not having enough yarn to finish kicked in. Ugh (again).

Manos Silk Blend

Manos Silk Blend

Not wanting to play yarn chicken on a deadline, I found another yarn that swatched up “good enough” and, knowing I had lots of that, I started again and finally finished it, satisfied I had made the hat but still slightly disappointed because I knew it could have been better.

DSC_0437

Wabi-Sabi Organic Shetland, “good enough”

And yet, not end this tale on a sour note, the experience has given me a warm new hat made with a yarn I really do love (its so Shetland-y soft!), a new appreciation for test knitters and blog writing material to boot. All in all, not too shabby at the end of the day.

Thankfully, some patterns with textured stitches, like Bonnie’s (Blue Peninsula) On the Other Hand fingerless mittens, are more flexible. Bonnie’s sample for this pattern uses a lovely hand-dyed fingering weight that, being round and smooth, shows off the slightly textured lace stitches beautifully. While the yarn I used for the pair I knit didn’t have quite the same effect, its fuzzy, rustic characteristics lent a gentle halo that, in my mind at least, made up for the lack of crisp stitch definition.

DSC_0355

I couldn’t be happier with these new mitts – now, if only it would warm up enough for me to wear them outside!

All of this to say (in a very long winded way), even the challenges of working almost exclusively from my yarn stash so far this year have provided me with the great benefit of better yarn wisdom, of learning how to think more critically about matching patterns with yarn and knowing that, for now, my love for highly textured knitting projects will just have to wait.

What about you, do the patterns you like and the yarn you love ever butt heads? I’m curious, how do you resolve that conflict?

Wishing you a lovely day and to those of you who observe and celebrate, a blessed Holy Week and very happy Easter!

what is enough?

DSC_0365

Since I writing this post, I’ve been frequently revisiting my chosen word for 2015 “enough”, particularly in relation to my rather large yarn stash. To be honest, I feel embarrassed to have acquired so much yarn over the years and yet, still (to this day) want more.

Thankfully, I am far from alone in my desire to work through and, thus, reduce my stash. I’m definitely sure I’m not alone in loving Felicia’s series of posts on her blog The Craft Sessions, where she’s been writing about the challenges of using her own stash and respecting her budget in her goals to create a handmade wardrobe for herself. In reading these posts, not only do I find myself nodding along in agreement with her words as well as many of those shared in the comments section, but I’m also gaining new insight into how I think about my own process and goal of using up at least 50% of my stash. 

Perhaps my greatest insight (and answer to the question in today’s title) is summed up in this wonderful quote shared in Felicia’s post here:

“Enough is as good as a feast.”
– Mary Poppins

How very true, I mean there’s only so much we can eat (or knit) after all. Everything beyond that goes uneaten (unused), perhaps indefinitely and that likelihood to go “uneaten” grows exponentially whenever more yarn is added to the table, so to speak. This insight has been a great motivator to stay committed to my goal as it aligns with my deeper, core values and my wish to live those more authentically too.

So, today I thought I’d like to say how after two months of living my intentions of knitting (98%) from my “stash only”, I have discovered a few really wonderful benefits – one of which being the absolute luxury of not having to leave the house to buy yarn (have I mentioned what a homebody/hermit I am? – this benefit ranks really high on my list) and spend money in the process. Having my stash to draw from is a bit like having a nice savings account (sadly one that doesn’t collect interest, that would be too good!) right at my finger tips.

DSC_0341

In working with my stash, I’ve also gained a deeper insight into my yarn preferences as well. While I’ve always known how much I love natural, fuzzy and somewhat rustic yarn, it hasn’t been until I’ve had to really go through and characterize my yarn in terms of what kind of pattern would suit it, have I truly understood the depths of that love. As it turns out, I really DO love minimally processed, fuzzy yarn.

Of course, that insight in itself has presented its own set of challenges, too, but I think I shall save that discussion for next week along with a few exciting projects that demonstrate those challenges quite well (if I do say so myself).

How about you? Are you choosing to work though your stash rather than add to it this year? How is it going? What are you learning about this process and about yourself? What have been the benefits for you?

DSC_0445

Wishing you a wonderful week! I’ll be away for the next several days so please forgive me if I’m a little late in responding to your comments and trust that I read and love each and every one (I am especially grateful for all the truly lovely comments shared in my last post and those shared over at Vibeke’s – thank you, I am deeply touched!)

giveaway

DSC_0378

Today I am honoured to take part in my friend Vibeke’s month of giving* in celebration of her 40th birthday (it’s tomorrow!). By following the link to a butterfly in my hair, you can read my interview ** with Vibeke and put your name in a draw to win this pair of fingerless mittens I made earlier this year just for this occasion. I can’t tell you how much I love these mittens, I hope you will too.

Wishing you a marvellous Monday!

*If you aren’t already aware of this month-long series of interviews and giveaways, I encourage you to get yourself a cup of tea and settle down to read through all of these wonderful posts. Be  prepared to be inspired by this gathering of incredibly talented women.

** I am feeling strangely nervous about this interview, somehow sharing your thoughts and memories on someone else’s blog is quite a different experience than sharing them on your own. Go figure!

DSC_0348

***As it happens, today is both my parents’ birthdays (neat, huh?). Happy birthday Mom and Dad!

simple stripes for spring

DSC_0383

DSC_0389

DSC_0408

What do you do with two skeins of beautifully simple rustic yarn*? Make a pair of simple striped mittens for spring! Perfect for those mild-yet-not-mild-enough-for-bare-hand(or fingers)-days.

DSC_0339

What are you making for these early spring days?

Wishing you a lovely day!

*this yarn was purchased during a visit to Upper Canada Village last summer where it was made onsite.

food for thought friday

DSC_0445

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

- Hal Borland

Signs of spring have been spotted around my neck of the woods this week. How about you? Do you see signs of spring skipping your way? What does spring look like (or sounds like or smell like or feel like) to you?

I love to hear the sound of sneakers slide about on the street – because you know, even though there’s still snow in the yard, as soon as my kids see pavement they are begging to ditch those heavy boots. Who can blame them? I’m ready for bare feet and sandals!

However, for now, sandals are months away and I am more than content with a few less layers, the happy sounds of nature bringing new life to my world and the feeling of the sun warming my cheeks. Life is wonderful.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

in-between appointments

DSC_0377

DSC_0430

DSC_0429

DSC_0456

A little while ago, I found myself in a position of having some extra time between my “scheduled” knitting projects.* It turned out that the Josephine shawl I was knitting didn’t take as long to finish as I had anticipated and my next project wasn’t due to start until early March.

So, with great excitement I picked up my Lila, something I had started for myself last fall but kept putting it aside so I could work on Christmas and birthday gifts and crossed my fingers that I could get it done before the end of February and I did! (it must have been those crossed fingers, hahaha)

DSC_0470

I couldn’t be happier with the results. Ravelry project notes here.

Wishing you a lovely day!

* Do any of you schedule your knitting/craft/art? Please share, I’d love to know.

food for thought friday

DSC_0413

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.        – Colossians 3:14

Sometimes it’s easy to think of knitting as just a frivolous hobby. However, I would argue that knitting can be much more profound than a casual activity taken up to pass the time.

I believe knitting is a physical manifestation of the love we have for others (as well as for ourselves). I believe this act of looping a length of string over and over upon itself has a touch of the divine spirit. I believe when we knit in a hopeful, loving and mindful way, we create a piece of fabric that connects our inward loving intentions towards someone to an outward practical purpose of keeping them clothed and warm. In this way, our knitting becomes a very real and tangible manifestation of our love for those we knit for.

However, I also believe that we, who commit this act of knitting, are also clothed in love wether we are the ones wearing the finished knitted object or not. I believe the act of knitting has the power to clothe us in a more spiritual cloth that may not be seen by the eye but certainly can be felt by the heart. I believe that cloth is called love and it is a cloth made by sharing our love with others, by being mindful of that love we have for them and being mindful of that love that we, too, are given. 

No, I wouldn’t call this act of knitting a frivolous hobby at all. Like all things done in a spirit of mindful loving-kindness, knitting has the power to bind us together in complete and perfect harmony as this practice allows us to work peacefully together with something far greater than ourselves – each other, and, for those of us who live in faith, also with God. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, bound together with love (and therefore much knitting)!