Sitting Inside Illusion

Royal Mile by designer Justyna Lorkowska

Fresh off my needles, I used Italian Plum colorway of Cascade Heritage yarn and Alameda colorway of Hawthorne Fingering Multi from Knitpicks.

Why this post title?

Because today I awoke thinking I would sit down to work only to find a server had crashed in a place far, far away that controls the flow of my work. One small reminder of how control over our life is an illusion. Amid all the turmoil this year in the sociopolitical landscape that expands emotions of fear, anxiety and compassion for all the vulnerable beings who are swept up in the currents, I have found knitting allows me to sit most comfortably inside the illusion of control.

Even if I cannot stop destruction of the planet with more than my life choices to live simply, give up my car soon and eat only plants, and even if I cannot cure cancer or stop racial injustice or violence, I can sit inside an illusion of control and be at peace. Who is to say how effective a person can be as a change-maker by claiming their little corner of peace? I once had big dreams in my youth of making impact.

Now as I lean into the latter half of life, my vision is much smaller. I have no idea if what I create by sitting inside my beautiful illusion of control does anything for anyone else, but I do know it affords me a sense that I can be at peace. That is worth thousands of dollars of therapy at the least and at the most may ripple out to anyone who wears what I create or anyone in my circle.

Polish or Polish?

Today’s word prompt is “polish” which I decided to read as Polish, since my focus has been there of late. Ever since February when my daughter was assigned to an exchange year in Poland (we are still awaiting confirmation or information about exactly where she will be placed), I have been immersing myself in the amazing power of Polish poetry and have learned quite a bit about the country’s history. She has been working on learning the complex language, the sounds of which I enjoy listening to even though I have not a clue of the meaning. We hope to attend this local Polish festival in July.

Here is a good general overview of the country for anyone interested.

I will not post their poems here for copyright, but instead will provide links to two prominent Polish poets of the past century.

Wislawa Szymborska: Read 5 of her poems. I believe she was one of the least prolific poets who has received a Nobel Prize, but each poem stops me in my tracks. Precisely what a great poem does.

Czeslaw Milosz: I highly recommend reading The Captive Mind and any of the thousands of poems he has written translated into English. One that most stuns me is A Song on the End of The World. Another very different poem that is so zen it was published in a Buddhist publication is Gift. There are probably many, many more amazing Polish poets whose work has not been translated to English because that task is very labor intensive.

And now for my labor of love, knitting.

June Challenge

Each day I am challenging myself to stop making excuses of being too tired at the end of a day or needing special software. I am writing down a knitting design every day of June so that by end of month I will have 30 design concepts. The rules are the design does not need to be fully conceptualized or written out, only that I get an idea out of my head into a sketch or written form. I am doing this as a first step in my process toward my dream of earning a living doing what I love.

Currently, I am working on a Royal Mile shawl by a Polish designer whose body of work is fabulously appealing to me:  Justyna Lorkowska

It helps me to look at the design work I love and research how the elements that attract me are made. Since I have not sewn other than under duress in a high school Home Ec class, I have most to learn about sizing measurements and garment construction.

Welcome Blanket project: A visual representation of the proposed 2000-mile border wall in yards of hand-made welcome blankets. The Welcome Blankets will be displayed in a museum for a few months before being distributed to immigrant families.

Sometimes the answer comes before the question. This week, I have opportunity to test out a new acrylic yarn line for a local craft store, so was given 3 colors to test it with (photo above). I am creating a design based on patterns I saw in my youth in New Mexico because the colors are perfect for adobe and sky, and I thought, “What am I going to make this thing into?” A Welcome Blanket is my answer. I do not normally work with acrylic yarn, but it is inexpensive and sturdy, perfect for such a project. Will post photos of completed projects as they happen.

Woodland Reprieve

Reprieve

After the day’s desk work, just before twilight I enter the star flower’s realm of reprieve. Even abundant woodland mosquitoes are welcome reminders to keep moving to limit their bites and provide a few discomfort souvenirs for my desk-ridden workdays ahead.

The star flower beauties on the forest floor are built upon sevens, seven petals, seven stamens, etc. Exactly the nudge I need from the universe. I have been dreaming of and hesitant to publish my first knitting pattern which is built on sevens, and here this little flower says, “just do it!” I shall call my first pattern Star Flower and I will get a final copy done in simple word processing this weekend. My excuses have been waiting to save enough to purchase design software to “do it right”, knitting enough samples to test the pattern, fearing my little contribution to the vast world of knitting design will be woefully inadequate and irrelevant, etc. I have bouquets of design ideas for big projects, but I must start somewhere small.

Past weeks, I have been frustrated by back pain for the first time in my life and truly feeling my body’s age shift gears even while my focus has been solidly on physical health. So when I entered the woods, my heart leapt in gratitude to this anonymous artist who left a Whidbey Rocks rock for me to find precisely when I needed to find the love emanating from it. Thank you for the joy!

I was able to identify the plant in the blurry photo below that looks like red asparagus. It is in fact a species not well understood that is a parasite on fungi to get its energy (fungi vampire?) and has no chlorophyll. Common name Pinedrops or Pterospora. Near the same location of this plant in past years, I have seen another one called Monotropa, Indian Pipe or ghost plant for it’s white ghostly stems. I think it’s awesome that right at our feet, life forms exist that we do not fully understand.

Wonder Yarn

I Love Yarn – projects that have been and will be

Overwhelming Love

On the occasion of my 50th birthday in December, when family asked what I would like, I requested a German “Wonder Ball” my grandmother had given me at age 11.  I purchased enough yarn to make a sweater jacket for myself during 2017 and handed over two balls of yarn to family members. I had no idea they could possibly or would possibly fit 50 gifts inside!

In researching the origin of the German Wonder Ball (wunderknolle?) I ran across this rather amusing fragment from Good Housekeeping  magazine from 1903. Apparently it provides a source of amusement to healthy 21st century mid-lifers as well.

The wonder ball, much in use in Germany, is good as a means to both interest and amuse a child. It is made by winding a hank of worsted into a ball, stopping every now and then to wind in some little present. The nicest or most expensive gift should be placed in the center, while tiny boxes of pure chocolates may be only partially concealed near the surface. The recipient of the gift should knit until the little presents fall out. The wonder ball might very well prove a source of entertainment to an invalid.

Well, this week I finally got around to starting that sweater alongside my other projects, because while I am a master at delayed gratification, I could not continue hoping that somehow I would not be 50 if I put this off. Age happens.

I’ve been working on a video of gratitude featuring all the items pouring out of the Wonder Ball for my family, but since today’s WordPress prompt is yarn, how could I resist posting a bit of the progress so far?  Each night as I’ve devoted time to this, I have been so overwhelmed with love pouring out of the wonder ball that I actually had to put it down from time to time and pause. I’ve never quite experienced a collective gift like this before and am so happy I requested it. I highly recommend it as a form of mindful appreciation to gift anyone who crafts with yarn.

End goal, Laurel Cardigan, free pattern linked to image:

Starting Wonder Ball (yarn KnitPicks Preciosa Worsted):

All that remains of the ball is in this image where I have started the second sleeve. I don’t want the wonder to end!

Patterns in Process for my five-projects-at-once while working seven days a week double life:

  • Third Turtle Journey Shawl for my uncle’s family, in worsted rather than fingering weight to make one larger overall.
  • Kimono shoulder blanket.
  • Miss Grace shawl, because I ran into a local knitter wearing one she made and just had to ask.
  • A unisex hat pattern for a You & Me challenge thanks to a wonderful Australian couple’s podcast, Fruity Knitting, where you knit something for yourself and someone you care about that has a connecting theme, style or yarn. I chose my dad since it dawned on me I have never made anything for him even though I care about him immensely, and he asked for a hat that goes over the ears. I might give a go at converting this Japanese arrow pattern I love and design the hats myself.

If I could make a living with yarn, walking, traveling. Ah, heaven. For now, I binge learn everything I can about what yarn artists are doing around the world. So much I do not know. Should you want me to knit something for you special order, contact me here. Knitting every day keeps me happy. : )

New Creations Birthed

Looks a bit opaque

Many thanks to designer Ambah O’Brien for her Xuan wrap, which means “spring” in Vietnamese. Her wonderful designs can be found on Ravelry here. This was my first go at learning mosaic technique for color work. Here is a description of Mosaic, for those interested.

This wrap/shawl will be sold to the highest bidder as a fundraiser for my daughter’s exchange year to Poland. She will model it for her gofundme page soon.

Rust and golden wool is super soft, rich hand-dyed color, and is thanks to Palouse Yarn Company. I had the opportunity to walk into the glorious vortex that is The Yarn Underground in Moscow, Idaho while chaperoning my daughter’s band for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival last year. Awesome, awesome yarn selection and staff.

Center color is Matrika Sugar Maple from Seven Sisters Arts whose owner has a degree in plant & soil science as well as nursing that she uses to create her amazing dyes. When I win the lottery, I would love to invest in a truckload of her yarns.

The second of three turtle journey shawls to honor my uncle is now blocked. Yipee!  This pattern can be found on Ravelry here. One more to go in forest & cucumber greens, and then photos without the pins will be taken.

Yarns are:

  1. KnitPicks Preciosa, waves from Expression Fiber Arts.
  2.  Wonderland, waves from Expression Fiber Arts.

If anyone would like to request a commission, feel free to contact me on my Knits page. I especially love making shawls, cowls, blankets, sweaters, but am up to give anything a go.