My 2019 Word, a Finished Object and WIP

Until I entered the social media knitting world, I never knew what an FO or a WIP was, and I certainly thought a UFO was an unidentified flying object. Today I am happy to show one FO (finished object) and one WIP (work in progress).

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Teroldego Shawl

The Teroldego is a summertime light shawl that is the most unusual shape of any I’ve made, lending itself to creative neckline origami but just wide enough to provide upper arm/shoulder warmth.

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From luxury yarn to au natural sheepy goodness, I’ve been loving the meditative work on the Hedgewitch Shawl. Comments from the knit-along from December’s full moon to the Super Blood Wolf Moon on January 21st seem to show a universal experience with the pattern. Most people, myself included had to take apart and start over the first few rows, because the pattern forces mindfulness as you work the texture design on the back side that shows on the front side. Then once you have the repetition memorized, it’s pure meditation from there.

Hedgewitch is a tribute to the ancestors and the modern wise women (and men) who venture past borders and into the wilds and beyond where all manner of beasts and beings dwell. ~ Nat Raedwulf, Wolf and Faun Knits

I tend to love brilliant color, so this is a departure for me, but I am a nature freak and nothing is better than letting nature be. The more I learn about sheep and appreciate the incredible qualities of wool, it’s been a joyful process to watch and feel the rich earthiness of a natural wool blend I believe was a limited edition of several sheep varieties from Abundant Earth Fibers picked up at their mill last year, followed by the lighter weight but darker toned local alpaca from a mystery alpaca farmer in my area. My shawl will end with a deep gray/black and red border. I am using four colors instead of two contrasting ones called for in the pattern. You know you’re a sheep and fiber arts person when you wax poetic about different “colors,” which look all the world to most folks like tan, tan and tan.

I spent much of 2018 dreaming of becoming a farmer and threw myself into work trading on farms only to decide by year’s end that might be a little too far of a stretch for me to ever own/live on a farm given my not spring chicken body, lack of funds, and allergies to nearly every animal under the sun other than sheep. I mean, most sheep owners benefit from some kind of guard dog for safety of the herd, if not shepherding. Still a dream but not a likely reality. But while I live and work on my imaginary farm, this sturdy Hedgewitch shawl will be the warm wrap I’ll wear daily in the colder months outside.

2019 WORD

WELCOME

Below is a beautiful poem I found on the word I want to work with for 2019 with the intention of bringing more openness to people and opportunities, in addition to greater acceptance of all aspects of myself. I intend to plaster the word on my bathroom mirror, since it took me nearly four decades to stop tearing up every time someone would utter the phrase, “You are welcome here,” or even greet me with “Welcome,” and each time the emotion took me by surprise. So an internal and external welcoming of what is and what can be. I think I’ve finally gotten to the root of why I’ve felt so alien much of my life, but it’s very probable many of us do in a myriad of ways.

I welcome you…

The way the soil opens itself to rain,
and leaves absorb sunlight,
exchanging it for breath.

As a bird spreads its wings to
a rising current of air, sure it will be lifted,
and as the moon partners with the sun,
seeking only to reflect its brilliance.

The way a mother extends her arms to
receive her newborn,
and the stars, pulsing with delight,
receive us in the end.

As the glove receives the hand,
and the heart, though broken, love.

I welcome you.

(Rev. Peter, UU minister)

And because so much fear came up with my word choice, fear of overwhelm if I welcome everyone and everything in my path, fear of being gullible and easily manipulated (as is my nature), I love this quote to keep near:

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

~ Joseph Campbell

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Little Yarn Goes a Long Way

As I start 2019 with no work available, half a usual paycheck, (typical December/ holiday season in my line of work), observing my cold settle into my lungs and trying to prevent a sixth lifetime bout of pneumonia with deep breaths and hydration, I am grieving what I intended my New Year transition to be: Answering request to help harvest/work in food bank garden, time with daughter and nephew.

It takes all manner of patience and faith to believe in a promise of future work, and that I can finally one day break the cycle of so much life energy going to make basics work and paying debt load. Or at least that I can learn to shift my approach and attitude without going into further debt for the latest “fix your relationship with money, self, people and the universe” workshop.

I own my part in debt and own my hard work to do something about it. The one space my situation is paying off is daughter’s college applications. Having nothing combined with brilliance is a winning combo. And the reason why I believe despite it all the universe has my back is that paycheck to paycheck with nothing in bank to support two people is a miraculous existence. Everything we need is provided moment to moment.

It’s just my clinging to the idea I could speed up the process of attaining any way to retire (future worry) and release from debt oppression.

But in knitting, none of these musings matter. Knitting is a place where everything flows peacefully with ease. An abundance of color, beauty, comfort I can give away or keep arises spontaneously.

Other than a few holiday sale supplies to make specific things for specific people, I’m steadfastly working through and giving away my stash to folks in need while postponing bringing new supplies into my life.

Constantly working toward a yarn stash balance and answering inner dialogue:

Q. “How can you simultaneously moan of financial strain while gathering making supplies?”

A. “Knitting is a zone of health and magic making that pays you back tenfold.”

There was a time I paid many times as much for therapy than yarn in a year, so if knitting pays off in ways therapy sometimes cannot, a little yarn goes a long way.

Here’s an oldie but goodie article that talks about health benefits of knitting. After I mail a knitted thank you to a friend for a December kindness, I’m going to make myself another cup of Gypsy Cold Care tea and knit myself back to health.

7 Health Benefits

Day 21 – Hedgewitch

Compassion is knowing our darkness well enough that we can sit in the dark with others. It never is a relationship between the wounded and the healed. It is a relationship between equals.

– Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You

On this Solstice, I have been gifted no electricity for 48 hours (projected), which has forced a much needed break from my paid work and the hum of appliances. It made me reflect on how I mostly live valuing all the things that came before…candles, knitting, wool and walks in the natural world for warmth. Even my daily French press doesn’t rely on electricity as long as I can boil water.

Electricity is great for many things, mostly earning money. Not having it got me out to my local library to charge my phone to complete this post. And I met folks I wouldn’t normally meet, all sitting around the modern firepit of phone chargers. But really all the things that bring me joy are not brought to me by electricity. And sleeping a night without Wi-Fi and having a day of walking around instead of typing at the desk seems to have reset my natural energy, like going to a spa.

Join in, if you’re interested for the Hedgewitch Shawl that’s being knit as a KAL from full moon tomorrow to full moon January. Due to holidays, this is a no pressure KAL for deadline. I figured I would join in using all the natural wool of my stash: Undyed Abundant Earth Fiber wool, a local alpaca named Billie, dark Peruvian alpaca, in addition to a deep red Merino for accent.

I intended to post daily for December, but the Darkest Month Project feels fitting to end today. I surprised myself by having enough knits to highlight from 2018 for all these days (except the 19th when I was too busy).

I wish everyone a blessed turning toward the light and entry into 2019.

Day 20 – Gnoming

As we head into the longest night tonight, with Winter Solstice officially in my region at 2:22 p.m. tomorrow, and the wind whipping up a wet storm outside, I can think of nothing more delightful than to knit up some gnomes.

This is something I’ve always wanted to do but never have, and now that I’ve made one, many more will come into being. What a wonderful way to bring joy to people using small bits of yarn I already have. This guy is stuffed with fiberfill and after having difficulty getting him to stand on his own, I can see why stuffing them with something of more weight in their center of gravity is important. Rather than buy plastic pellets (dear God, save us from plastic), I am going to try rice or barley and assume critters won’t get to them if they are stored well.

You can find this pattern thanks to Sarah Schira’s Never Not Gnoming genius. I feel an addiction coming on.

Gnomes originated it is believed in 1800s Germanic folklore, and are found in writings going farther back in the 1600s. Similar figures are found in many cultures often living underground or guarding Earth’s treasures and aiding farmers and tenders of Earth.  There seems to be a shapeshifting element to some of the traditions, where despite being only a few inches tall can have astounding strength to either help or harm humans, depending on how well the humans are working with the Earth elements. Nisse of Denmark and Norway are one such figure, which this delightful podcaster I follow describes well in this episode.

 

Day 18 – Kyler

Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn’t leave; it merges with the light. It becomes the light. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Kyler Shawl by Isabell Kraemer is the perfect example of how creating something can have a life force all its own. As if the item being made knows where it wants to go before the maker knows.

A visitor to my weekly knit group fell in love with the shawl as I worked it, so this is how something intended for my project for moms of critically ill children ended up instead on its way to Malawi to an inspirational elder. And in the generous spirit of fiber artists, karma looped back around and I was gifted this gorgeous natural dyed, woolen spun Cormo.

Day 17 – Bounce

Whenever I got depressed, I always drove out to the Ocean Beach. Just to sit. And, I don’t know, something about looking at water, how it just goes and goes and goes, something about that I found very soothing. As if somehow I were connected to every ripple that was sending itself out and out until it reached another shore.

~ Sandra Cisneros

Short on time today and needing to get to holiday knits, sharing a baby blanket I made this fall called Bounce. So many color variations could be used. I used KnitPicks Mighty Stitch superwash wool. With two cousins giving birth a few weeks apart, one of the adorables got the blanket.

I confess I learned I am good at deadline knitting about 50% of the time, and babies are deadlines. The other one will get his blanket eventually, when I figure out what the heck I’m doing. I made two false starts with these blankets where patterns just weren’t working out the way I’d hoped, and I decided from now on where babies are involved, it will be bonnets (here’s a nice one from Petite Knits). Because no matter how small, a blanket is still a big endeavor that puts everything else on hold for a long time.

I wish I could convert myself into a one project at a time knitter, but that’s just not how I roll. Part of this I have come to believe is because doing multiple projects with different techniques changes up repetitive motion and therefore prevents injury and pain. In fact, it is a near miracle my life seems to be made up of repetitive motions (typing for a living, knitting for gifting and mental health), and I am not a walking injury. Probably if we break it down, most of our lives are such. . .habits and breathing are nothing but mostly unconscious, repetitive motions.

Tin Can Knits is a wonderful resource for many reasons, not the least of which they make their patterns customizable for sizes birth to triple XL, and they have offered quite a few free patterns over the years.

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Day 16 – Tree Seeker

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. ~ T.S. Eliot

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. ~ Hermann Hesse

Tree Seeker by Joji Locatelli has been a slow project I’ve worked over a year whenever I can concentrate on the charts. 15 inches left to go. It is my birthday present to myself.

Magically, as if on cue, the only break in rain I saw today happened while on a birthday hike. Enjoy the magic.