Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OTN

My knitting life has been a bit of a mystery lately, in that I've been doing design work. Since I design (and knit, frankly) at the pace of molasses in winter, that adds up to a whole lot of silence! But I'm happy to say that my one stage of my design is done, and I am moving into completing some work that I can share. And that makes me very happy!

One of the first patterns I can share with you is one that I actually started while on vacation in Scotland. I picked up a special yarn at Kathy's Knits in Edinburgh spun by Blacker Yarns. This particular yarn is sourced from the island of St. Kilda's from the feral sheep that live on it. Called St. Kilda Laceweight, this fine lace is rugged. I learned from the owner of the store that the sheep are manually rounded up, sheared, and then the fleece is hand-picked to remove the guard hairs and then spun. It comes in two colors, cream and brown (both undyed). By the time I reached the store, the only color left was cream, so I picked up one precious skein of it. Because I was limited to 440 yards, the question then became what pattern to choose for it. I elected to knit a free pattern that I found on Ravelry, called Jardin d'hiver. The name means "winter garden," and I think this will knit up nicely in it.
Jardin d'hiver, unblocked, and still OTN


Another project I recently completed was a true delight to knit. One of my favorite companies, Tom Bihn, is a company located in Seattle, WA. Known for their excellent travel bags, they also construct knitting bags out of high quality materials such as ballistic nylon, Cordura nylong, and Dyneema nylon. I own several of their bags, and love Tom's responsiveness to his customer base and the way he treats his staff. Someone on Ravelry suggested people stitch up a few scarves or cowls for the staff out west, so I decided to contribute. I dove deep into my stash and came up with some Cascade Magnum from my days in the frozen north called Dayton, OH. I only had a small amount left, but I had three different colors, silver, black, and red, so I decided to combine them together to knit the Clydesdale Cowl. Knit on size 15 needles, this project fairly flew off the needles, and I loved the result.
Me, wearing the completed cowl.
I hope it gets cold enough to wear in Seattle, as it is an extremely rare day in Jacksonville where anything that thick would ever be warranted! I have gone ahead and modified the pattern somewhat to begin some more in lighter-weight yarns to give as Christmas gifts to some special people in my life.
Hmm. I wonder who will get this? Oh, and is that a Tom Bihn Swift I spy?!?
So that's where I'm at currently. Given all that's happening in my life, that's quite enough. Homeschooling is still my main thing, and it's where I daily labor in the love of learning. But it's good to have an outlet from the daily trials and tribulations. I look forward to sharing more photos as I continue to work through the fall.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Violets

Deep violets, you liken to The kindest eyes that look on you, Without a thought disloyal.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quotes , Source: A Flower in a Letter


They're blooming! And more blooms are on the way! I smile each time I see them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Room of One's Own

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. ” 
― Virginia WoolfA Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf and I were good friends in college. Unfortunately, it's been years since I've seriously sat down to re-read her essays on the status of women and the relationship they play to writing and the professional sphere, but I remember how vibrant I recalled her frustration, more specifically her disgust, that women were not at that time (turn of the century) accorded the same accommodations as men and were thus prevented circumstantially from rising in society. Thankfully, those margins have vastly narrowed, and women are excelling in many ways they were unable to in the recent past. But as a nod to my favorite essay, I titled this post, "A Room of One's Own," to reflect on the need for each of us to have a space in which to exist, to ponder, and to create.

In many ways, living in Florida has been ideal. The weather, if sometimes intolerably hot, encourages the growth of the most beautiful flowers and plants. The animals, even if many of them can kill or maim you, are robust and unique. And the copious attractions, even if they congest the roads with out-of-state license plates, are worthy of the world's notice. It's the little things that make things a little more challenging for me, and this is one of the hardest- that I don't have a private corner of the house to escape the noise of a bustling family.

I know that I am blessed. Abundantly blessed, in fact. But this little introvert sometimes needs to recharge herself, and our home, although beautiful, isn't conducive to that. But all of that has changed recently. I have found a way to capture a little piece of peace in our robust home, and I didn't spend a cent!


Complete with cat, knitting, and one of my favorite paintings!
This is a little corner in my office. The office is one of the only places in our home that has doors that can shut and offer a tiny reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the house, but it has glass doors, and as a consequence I always feel a bit like I'm a goldfish in an aquarium, with people looking at me curiously from the other side of the glass.

In order to pull this lovely look together, I went around the house and gathered up an old tri-fold room divider, a small nesting table, my old baby glider, and my Mini-Ott Light clamp-on lamp. My divider is wonderful in that I'm able to easily hang my latest magazine on one of the black iron cross bars, using it as a bookmark. Not only that, but it came with a little attached bin that will be helpful for holding tools, knitting projects, books, and pens or pencils. 

I can sit in the glider and look directly out onto the street, or I can close the blinds and enjoy privacy. The screen doesn't completely obscure me from view, but, like an ostrich who hides her head in the sand, I'm happy hiding most of me for my little recharge sessions.
Here I am with the cat on my lap, a cup of tea next to me, and The Dyslexic Advantage in my hands. I'm a happy gal!
I don't get much time in this little space, but what little I get is well used. So far, I have knit, studied, read for pleasure, graded, and rested. My challenge now lies in convincing my cat that she doesn't like this space and encouraging my daughter to find another spot to do her math!

On another front, I'm very excited in that I am about to actually have African violets bloom after I nearly killed them both!
Here's my dark purple one.

And here's my light violet one!
I'm not much of a green thumb since I became a mother. I think that raising three beautiful children has kept me busy enough, and husband, children, and cats rank higher than botanical life forms. Still, I have always enjoyed African violets, and whenever Wal-Mart has those pretty pots sitting out, I can't seem to hold myself back. The plant blooms for awhile, and then once those blooms are gone, I slowly proceed to kill it. Well not this time, baby! I've been working hard trying to nourish these fellows, and the fruits of my labors are starting to pay off. It's been more than a year in the making, but flowers are well on their way, and I can't wait to see them bloom!

Which reminds me, there's still a fair bit blooming outside! Today I was pulling a few weeds in the front garden and kept hearing a persistent buzzing sound. I finally located the little bee, hard at work within a blossom of one of my rose bushes.
Working hard well into the fall!
Yep, I see a weed in that photo too. I'll rush out to pull it after I post this update. He was quite busy, and was positively vibrating with the excitement of fulfilling its mission!

I hope you can find a spot to hide yourself from the world, even if it's in a tiny corner like I have claimed. You'll be glad you found it!