my mom’s knitting

my mom has not knit in years. she started making doll clothes when she was 12 or 13 (1956 or so) – sweaters, booties, and hats for tiny dolls. my mom, true to form, learned how to knit from a book (like me!). it was a little book with just the basics in it – green with a drawn illustration of a 1950s girl and some knitting needles on the cover. she still has it. i will try to get a photo for you all to see. (in contrast, i learned out of knitting and crocheting for dummies).

my mom and aunt marguerite at the art museum
mom and my great aunt

she tried to make herself a pink sweater and thought blocking would make it fit, but to no avail. it was way too short. it was the 1950’s, acrylic was all the rage and, of course, with no one to help her, she didn’t really know about gauge (or that blocking only works with wool). and she still doesn’t, but i’ll teach her :)

she gave up for a year or two, returning to knitting to try to make a young man she liked a sweater. think green and black stripes in soft yarn – probably with some angora in it (it was all the rage then). it took her forever and turned out small, but with loooong arms. luckily she had grown sick of that young man by that time anyway.

mom's hands

from that point, she took a hiatus from knitting and went the art route of working with her hands. she loved making pottery and sculpting and painting human figures. she went to school for 3 years to work towards a B.S. in education, and after that took a year break to study art, taking classes and going to museums in the bay area.

[then came the rest of university, beginning teaching, meeting my dad, him going to university, having children etc. all the while, spending much creative and artistic energy in the classroom]

mom knitting

fast forward to now. i am sitting next to my mom, while she knits a deep purple heathered alpaca scarf. she has retired and has time to do all sorts of new and exciting things. which appears to include knitting with her daughter. and i must say, this is actually an old thing, that she remembers how to do quite well.

we’ve got it bad

and that ain’t good.
so, you know you’re with people who love yarn when…
today at knitting group i was talking to a couple of other people and said that if anyone had scraps (the end pieces from weaving in etc.) i was filling ben’s beanbag with wool. vivian, who i adore, looked at me and said something about not having any scraps.

what she meant was, she uses every darn bit :) gotta love us crazy knitters. then i had to explain what sort of wool went into it, and that all of my precious scraps were in jars and such around the house.

later on i gave her some of the scraps that i scrounged from winding yarn into balls this morning – a pale pink misty alpaca. mmmm. no beanbags for those ones. maybe some embroidery. she sat there and felt them for a bit before putting them in her bag. yup. crazy.

now for the hat interlude…
ice cream on a rainy day hat
in homage to the torrential rains we had yesterday. ben and i liked the pompom because it’s like a cloud :)

ice cream on a rainy day hat - flat

my hand dyed recycled sweater – seen here on the left – wool/angora/nylon
recycled sweater wool for the pompom

ice cream on a rainy day hat

adult medium/small
i recommend clicking over to flickr on that last shot – the right hand side always gets cut off when i move it to the blog.

now an old one that needed a bit more pizazz.
i like to ride my bicycle hat

i like to ride my bicycle hat

cascade 220 new wool
thrifted merino wool
embroidered with recycled sweater wool

i like to ride my bicycle hat - flat

size medium/small

that episode with vivian reminded me of something that happened right after we moved to pittsburgh. i bought a bunch of wool from a woman who lives in my neighborhood (originally documented here). when i noticed old yarn labels in the boxes without yarn attached and expressed interest in them also, she looked at me and said, grinning, “oh, you’ve got it bad!”

so what about you all? any particular moments when you realized that you too may be a crazy knitter?

valentines day

in october – or at least you’d think so by the color combos i have for you today.

first off, i was very surprised by how very generous in your definitions of one-of-a-kind were!! not that i expected you to be all hard core or anything :) thanks for your input and know that my mind is assuaged by your responses. last night i even embroidered another hat in a line of hats.

my push for the week on the knitting front has been to flesh out the colors/shapes etc. of each size 0-6 mo, 6-18 mo, and 18 mo-4 yr. i’m trying to up my quantities to 8 each – the current tally is at 8 for the smallest, 7 for the second size, and 4 for the largest. this whole plan is about to be disrupted completely as our roommates are going to NYC for friday and saturday and i’m going to take this opportunity to dye!! yay!

i still haven’t figured out the whens/wheres of dyeing in the new living situation so i’ve been hoping for an opportunity to slip some in. expect some color this weekend – if i find some containers to mix my dyes in that is… any ideas about that? i used to use my old glass peanut butter jars.

valentines day hat
so named by my friend amanda in vancouver
i tried to give it pompoms, but they ended as bean bag fodder. i guess donegal tweed just doesn’t like being made into pompoms.

valentines day hat

this hat is very interesting to me because it’s an example of the doodling i’ve been doing since high school making its way into a hat. this also happened with one of the book hats. i believe that all people who are active drawers/poets/imagers of some sort have a ‘vocabulary’ of images built up over time and these hearts are one of mine. my drawn ones were generally much more scribbley though, traced over not very carefully several times with a ball point pen. but they did exist in clumps, growing all over the pages of my sketchbook in college. i remember sitting in the university center between classes with my friend brenda.  i was filling a sketchbook page iwth hearts and she said ‘most people can’t even draw a heart and you’re sitting here drawing them upside down!’ i still use hearts as images in both my poetry and my art (not that i’m doing much of either right now…), but in different ways… they’ve become a deeper, more meaningful image than they were when i was in high school or university.

valentines day hat - flat

donegal tweed homespun
my hand dyed recycled sweater wool

adult medium/large

valentines day hat - top

and a matchy matchy small hat
be my valentine hat

be my valentine hat

my hand dyed recycled sweater 70% angora/30% nylon
cascade 220 wool (heathers i think)
thrifted wool (red – a bit less orange than it looks)

0-6 mo.

be my valentine hat - angled

i’m curious about your vocabulary of images. if you’re an image person, what images keep coming back to you, gathering meaning over the years? or even, what image have you found yourself drawn back to from earlier days?

knitting self-knowledge

early early knitting found while packing. and i mean really early – maybe 2003? remember when i was talking about the try everything and anything phase of each new knitter? this was part of mine. i had a debbie bliss book and debbie bliss yarns were being closed out at a local yarn store so i thought i’d try one of the patterns. ah the days before knitting self-knowledge :)

this one is even pre knowing how to do a knit stitch really. for at least the first year of my knitting life, i knit through the back of the stitch. see the twists?

here are five opinions i have now that made this purse not such a good project for the knitter i was to become:

1 – i don’t like sewing in a bajillion ends – now i carry the yarn up, or spit splice, or choose a different pattern. i dare not show you the insides of this one.

2 – yarn can be splitty, especially soft yarns like this merino when knit on size 3 US needles.

3 – seaming is not very fun. i’d rather not do it unless i have to or love the project beyond all else. i do not and did not ever love this project that much.

4 – super soft fragile wools like merino? for your neck, body and head. that said, i’ve seen some beautiful purses out there, but they probably were not knit in merino.

5 – knit on a circular this one would have taken less time, wasted less wool, and been much more pleasant.

i’d love to invite you into the conversation. what was one of your early knitting projects and why does it not fit who you are as a knitter now?

i think i’ll pack mine – or maybe i should give it to susan to felt?

p.s. hilariously, i told you in the earlier post from above that i’d actually frogged this purse. ha!

p.p.s. if you’d like, there are also some good stories and lessons learned in the comments under the first time i brought this up.

double ugh

this has been the oddest week ever.

conversation from a couple of days ago:

her: where are you from?

me: montana

her: i wish i were from montana!

me: why?

her: the book river runs through it.

me: …

her: what city are you from?

me: missoula

her: that’s where i want to live!

me: you know the movie’s not filmed there…

her: yeah.

me: …


one girl who i’ve made a casual acquaintance with for the last few days turns to me when we are told to get into groups and says

i don’t really want to be in your group. is that okay? i want to meet new people.


then not two minutes later nobody in my group wants to be the group leader so someone i’d barely met before nominates me because i am the only one who hasn’t said she didn’t want to yet. usually i wouldn’t mind, but i’m still rollicking from the previous situation and kind of look like a deer in headlights.

feels like high school all over again – only i’m almost 30.

i don’t know if it’s me or them. maybe i’m tired because we’re moving and so not as good at making conversations run smoothly? who knows.  all i have to say is ugh.

hope your week is better than mine,

p.s. on top of all of that, i started this hat on the bus and later realized that it matched my clothing almost exactly. double ugh.

train knitting

my house will, some day be a house of many shawls.

first, i’ve just spared you the third day in a row of pictures of the flower garden hat, although this story has to do with it. today on my walk home, the garden that inspired the hat colors had a gardener! i thanked her for her garden and told her about the hat and we had a nice chat. i gave her one of my cards so she could look at the hat. i love community.

then a few blocks later some man felt the need to cuss me out for passing too close to him when i went around him on the sidewalk. i shouldn’t have responded at all to him, but of course i did. he was scary. uhm. i love… er… like…er… community.

last friday night, i gave my friend susan a lace knitting tutorial and it got me itching to make another shawl.  then sunday, when i really wanted to cast on, i couldn’t find my circular needles in the hole that my house has become with all of the packing and such. so, last night, when i finally located them i cast on for the Irish Diamond Shawl from Folk Shawls (then promptly got disrupted – but it’s on the needles!). i’ve been in love with this shawl ever since i first saw it. the idea of a pretty, wearable blanket just appeals to the core of me. maybe it’s my poor circulation talking… i also figured it would be good train knitting to last me most of the way (if not all the way) across the US. i have 1900 yards of this brown shetland recycled from a man’s XXL sweater and some other colors of shetland to choose from for the border (also recycled). i think i’d do it in one color if i could, but the pattern calls for 2500 yards.

i don’t think i’ll get much time before we move to knit on it, but know that it is on my needles!  this afternoon’s task – pattern writing.

UPDATE: i poked around a bit to see if i really need 2500 yards and all the shawls i found used less (sometimes way less).  here’s hoping!

bus story

i am currently on the bus fairly early in the morning for my commute. this morning, in my daze, i took my circular needle out of my pack and was fiddling with it while i thought about how many i wanted to cast on for this hat. the east indian gentleman sitting next to me kept looking at my hands which held the needle.  slightly awkward, but not unusual when knitting on the bus.

finally he asked what it was. i said that it was a knitting needle and pulled a ball of wool form my bag and we both laughed a bit because he had thought it was maybe a new technology for listening to music or something.

what struck me as particularily ironic is that knitting needles are nearly the opposite of technology, so low tech it almost hurts. mind you it was an addi, but still :D

new button tin

i almost forgot that nearly as important as the buttons themselves are what the buttons are kept in. i have mine organized in tins because my mom had hers in a tin. here are some of the ones that transfered from her tin last summer when i was visiting. here are some pics of my organization, and of the tins themselves– to which i’ve added this tin i bought in alaska for 50 cents. here’s the underside which still has its paper attached! in this one i’m keeping the buttons that are still on button cards.

how do you organize your buttons? mine are, obviously if you look at the pics, warm, cool, neutralish, and carded – all in seperate tins.

have you read the button contest entries lately? i get a few more each day and they are all so fun. thanks to everyone who has submitted so far! i’ve had a great time reading them all to ben and getting an education about button related things.

speaking of, this one came to me over email and it has a good story that goes along with it, so let me indulge. ben used to live in a fairly lively house with four other males when we were in university.  they were all good friends, in each other’s weddings etc.   now that we’ve all moved on, we sometimes loose track of each other. so, the other day, while looking for ben via google, our friend adam found my blog instead (imagine that). but the best part is that adam’s wife, sarah, has started knitting since i last saw them! so we’ve been talking knitting over email. i find that especially exciting because when they had their first child, they were the recipient of my first pair of knit booties.  since we lost track of them, they’ve had another child (who, by the way, took her first step yesterday!).  besides that info about the first step, sarah included this paragraph in her most recent email:

I just got my mom to get me some buttons from my grandma’s stash—most of them are gone, though, because she gave them to the elementary school for the little ones to “count things.” I also used a bunch at one time and for some unknown (and bizarre reason) sewed them all over a pale yellow sweatshirt. It was in the 80’s—need I say more?

thanks sarah, for letting me post this part of the email.  for this contest, all stories/memories count so i’m entering you in the contest. i can’t wait to see you all when we come through montana!

my all time favorite button

remember when i was discussing how things get trumped in my life? well, here’s another instance.

the other night i was talking to ben about this whole button thing and how my favorite button is one covered in very gross material that i’m sure is akin to double knit polyester and he said to me, “you really are a materials snob, aren’t you?”

how rude. but a little bit true. but seriously, i have lots of buttons, shell buttons, wood buttons, old fun buttons, whole sets of vintage plastic buttons, and yet i choose this one. i don’t know if it’s my material snobbishness coming out as much as my incredulity that so many things can seriously trump such important attributes of physical objects like beauty, age, and color. it is such an interesting part of being human to attach other meanings to things.

this button is made out of some sort of 1970’s synthetic that i don’t doubt is polyester. the brightest color is actually a really great synthetic neon pink color – here’s a better pic for the color, but still not quite capturing the intensity. to me, beyond physical description and photo, it is the extra button from my mother’s bathrobe from when i was a little girl. and i will treasure it forever. it’s funny how when you dig back into childhood memories, things become vague. i don’t remember anything in particular happening in this bathrobe, just that my mom wore it when i was little and for some reason that it makes me happy. maybe it’s all lovely physical memory?

speaking of buttons, go read the button stories! they are great! join in the conversation.

on to another topic, in case you haven’t noticed i’ve already broke the all buttons all of the time thing. but i think i’ve a compromise. my first post of the day (if i post that day) will be buttons and the second will be catch up of alaska stuff and things from before alaska i never got done because the camera was on the fritz. if i don’t do them now, they’ll never get done and i’ll forget to tell you. wouldn’t that be sad?

yes i know, arugula wasn’t alaska or before, but food is so glorious it trumps all! speaking of – if you’ve never had arugula, i want you to be prepared. if you ask me, the tomatoes (or sandwich makings) are essential to cut the flavor a bit (little bit spicy, little bit bitter). ben, on the other hand, was eating the pasta/pesto without the tomatoes and seemed perfectly happy. you can also do the pesto with half arugula, half basil if you’d like. happy eating, knitting, buttoning.

button contest

whopping HUGE buttons

no button stories?!?  come on button-loving crafty folks. i was expecting to wake up this morning to button stories galore…

but no. so maybe you need some enticement? while in alaska i inherited some really interesting old yarn from a lovely old woman that i have not blogged about yet. now, i’m not promising that this yarn is super pretty or that it’s glorious old stuff, but merely that it is old and interesting and still has labels.

so here’s the contest. submit your buttons stories (with a pic and/or a description!). i’ll probably post some of them as blog entries over the next week if promises of vintage yarn entices anyone… everything closes next wednesday (27th) and thursday i’ll draw two names out of the hat to send out both 2 batches of goodies including vintage yarn and a couple of buttons from the stash. if your name is drawn, you can request what sort of buttons you may wish to have and choose between the two colors of yarn.  and i may throw in a vintage booklet or pattern too, since we’re moving and i’m cleaning.  so it will be an overall old vintagey package.

oh, and i’m postponing my button story a bit.  i’ll blog it soon, i promise.  it’s really not overly exciting or fantastical, it’s just special to me and can be explained in two sentences.  mine happens to have to do with my past, but you could tell the story of the thrift store where you hit the motherload, the button you found on the street, or the button you like because it is the epitome of all that you like (color, sheen) or one you love cause it’s old, or the ones you found on an old wool coat.  i know that there are button stories out there and i will draw them out.  oh yes.  this blog will be devoted to buttons, and only buttons over the next week.