Day 7 – Wayfarer Mitts

“Magic of the shadows can best be seen in the deserts.”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Wayfarer Mitts remind me of my childhood home, walking a few miles each day across a mesa to and from high school, and later, camping 10 days along the San Juan River and sleeping in a canyon bed in Utah, and a solo road trip from the Southwest to Pacific Northwest that has been my home for the second half of my life.

I confess I sat for five hours moving nothing but my hands (not recommended), and couldn’t put this mitt down once I started it. So evocative for me to watch the painting appear and joy to realize I happened to have seven yarn scraps on hand that worked well together.

Proof and accountability I have begun the right hand mitt in reverse sand/rock colorwork for yarn yardage, and intend not to leave this a one-handed project that sits in a basket for a year…

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No time today for nature mandala, but I am thrilled I finally figured out more video editing features on my phone, so future video uploads will be better and smoother. I updated yesterday’s video I took. Now that YouTube has removed most of its editing features, I tried many different free video editing software until finally I discovered I could do it all on my phone. Palm to face moment. It’s amazing how powerful these computers are most of us carry around, yet most of us (me) don’t even know a smidge of their capability until we’re frustrated enough to learn.

Day 6 – Artifact Hat & Shares

Use the wings of the flying Universe,
Dream with open eyes;
See in darkness.
~ Dejan Stojanovic

Artifact Hat in my quest to make as many of Erica Heusser designs as I can.

Two fiber-related shares today that I think are amazing. First is by a fellow vegan knitter who works on so many aspects of fiber arts, my mind is blown. This demonstration of a spinning wheel used in India during colonial rule is just astounding to me. I never knew these existed.

Another share for holiday gifting is of a factory that makes something for people near to my heart. Those facing childhood cancer. I find it fascinating to watch how mills work. I wish I could produce handmade hats for them, but I know they need certain uniformity and materials to offer as many as they do and turn a profit.

 

 

Day 5 – Drums of Autumn

Look at the Darkness giving birth to the Sun.  — Khalil Gibran

Drums of Autumn MKAL is a work in progress playing perfectly into my light and dark theme. It is not blocked (washed and pinned to allow the stitches to relax into more uniform shape) and definitely not finished, but the center medallion is not like anything I’ve made, so I had to try.

I ended up tinking (knitting backwards) my first attempt doing it as a circle because I did not have suitable needle size, and instead made the circle back and forth and then joined it into a circle along one of the “petals.” Creates a minor irregularity I can live with.

For any non-knitters, an MKAL in top secret knitting code is a “mystery knitalong.” There are knitalongs (KALs) of all sorts on social media where makers are encouraged to create a specific design or type of garment and share their progress, but if it is an MKAL, participants receive one clue per week from a designer until the piece is finished. In this case, there are five clues beginning on November 4. Usually no one knows what the final project will really look like, only the category of garment. I’ve participated in a few in the past, but this was the first that published a “spoiler” page where the final project was displayed if you want to spoil the mystery.

I hesitated to take on another project, but the moment I saw the finished piece, I said, “I have to make that.” This is the way it goes with how I choose patterns. If I gasp upon first sight, I need to make it come hell or high water.

When complete in January, I will post particulars about yarn used here should anyone be curious.

If I can’t work on a farm full-time or live on one as I would like, it’s wonderful to live near one. Or two or three… Sweater was made 30 years ago for my mother (who passed it to me) by my grandmother who taught me to knit at age six. Lett Lopi Icelandic wool.

Thank you Grandmother!

Day 4 – Arboreal

The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.
― George R.R. Martin

A word about incomplete projects. One of the reasons I am posting daily in December is to set myself some accountability for what I have left incomplete the past year. I tell myself reasons for not completing this gorgeous sweater called Arboreal by Jennifer Steingass, when over 800 folks have completed it on Ravelry and I absolutely adore it. “It may no longer fit me well, because I gained weight since I started it, I don’t care for making sleeves, this is why I should never make fitted garments.”

I got this sweater quantity of machine washable Berroco Vintage DK during some ridiculously discounted sale two years ago intending to make something else with it but never did. So a year ago I started this pattern and find it maddening and ridiculous that I have allowed it to sit with only two inches remaining rib for the base and sleeveless. I have created a mini calendar for myself in a notebook with a timeline to complete my unfinished projects. If I don’t see it on real paper in real pen, time doesn’t seem to exist in my ancient mind.

My Rule of Thumb: I find nothing negative about working on many projects at once so I’m constantly learning skills and working across project types, but if a project sits unattended for longer than six months, it’s time to shift focus.

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What I feared would happen today did, my jobs ran over expected time despite including a break in daylight for this project, so I was unable to get out more than 10 minutes. Frosty morning leaf photos will have to suffice.

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Day 3 – Underwing Mitts & Test Knitting

I drooled over the Underwing Mitts a year ago and thought, “No way can I do that.” (Even though my first stranded colorwork in 2017 got me Best Adult Knitter category in 2018 county fair with hat – linked pattern below). That’s confidence for you. I love the moths and their compulsion to turn toward the lunar light.

Delft Hat Pattern link

Well, I completed the fingerless mitts this month, and now I dream of owning every single colorway of Jamieson & Smith Shetland wool so that I can have an “artist’s palette” to work from for my own designs (after first making every single one of Erica Heusser Designs). Back to more financially realistic life, I try to allow myself one knitting related purchase each month, since I rarely eat out, rarely drive, get a haircut once to twice per year, and never do any superficial cosmetic stuff women are supposed to do. As a matter of fact, the only shopping I don’t mind is for yarn, wool and knitting patterns. If you are in the tax bracket I am not and wish to avoid international shipping from the UK for wonderful wool suited to stranded colorwork, here are two American resources known to me: Fairlight Fibers and Woolly Thistle.

For my mitts, I made right and left reverse colors, but I did not create the duplicate stitch for the underwings because every time I have tried that technique it’s a fail. Never fear, though, because you may do just fine. If you should wish a tutorial, here it is:  Duplicate Stitch.

Test Knitting

Now for a few words about test knitting. Test knitting is a great way to expand your skill set and give helpful feedback to a designer. Often designers post on social media or their own websites when they are seeking test knitters. Most test knitting I’ve been aware of is where the knitter provides their own yarn and is “paid” by getting to keep the item they make as well as the pattern. But I am doing sporadic knitting for a little corner of fiber heaven called Fidalgo Artisan Yarns that allows me to work with their gorgeous yarn, pays me in gift certificates, while they keep the sample I knit. I hope to accrue over time enough to buy a sweater’s quantity of their gorgeous hand-dyed wool, and am glad to have been given the opportunity to do this. I’m popping my sample in the mail tomorrow….

All this to say, I am finding more and more creative ways to do what I love despite being low income and not loving what I do most of the time. Somewhere in that rub between what we don’t want and what we do seems to be life. Not all of us can have a dream livelihood, and some of us (me) would prefer not to have a “job” at all, would not feel “lost” in retirement (not likely for me to ever be able to retire), but rather think I’d feel a greater sense of purpose outside of a “job.” If all bills were paid, I can think of a zillion fulfilling things I would like to do, so I try to squeeze them in in increments, like putty in a tile floor. Next year, I’m investing more time in my community’s food bank garden in gratitude for all I have received from my community.

Day 2 – Cinnamon Cowl

This cinnamon cowl was my first self-designed piece after visiting a mill local to me called Abundant Earth Fiber. That visit was where I learned that the only fur/hair-bearing animal I am not severely allergic to apparently is sheep! How fitting, since instead of a Teddy bear, I remember my first stuffed animal was a lamb.

You can order this natural 90% Merino, 10% Targhee (American sheep breed) sport weight wool, which is a joy to work with. It was fun playing with different winter plant themes, and I love to wear this cowl in cold wind.

(Working on editing blips in future videos, temporarily frustrated by changes in YouTube Editor, because many past available features have stopped being free).

 

Day 1 – Brough Shawl

Each day in December I aim to share a quote about darkness, create a mandala in a natural setting with found items, and feature one knit in progress. Pattern will be linked in video description.

For this Brough Shawl, I am using a Polwarth wool/silk blend yarn from Sincere Sheep company, donated to me to make for mothers of critically ill children. The nonprofit I worked with all last year folded, but I and two other women in my community successfully completed and donated 15 shawls to the Seattle Ronald McDonald House, and intend to continue our shawl donations in 2019.

Donna Smith is a designer living and shepherding in the Shetlands, a place I would very much like to visit someday. You can find her patterns HERE.