Reflecting on Quiet

I’m 32 years old, so maybe it’s strange that until I had my wisdom teeth removed last year I never spent any time thinking about silence. It was only the haze of a days’ long ache in my jaw and ears while I dragged myself to and from work on screeching, shrieking subway trains that made me realize: right now there is nowhere I can go to be in silence. Or even near-silence. I live in Manhattan: my apartment walls are thin, people are always in the streets playing music, public spaces are crowded, public transportation is crowded and noisy, coffee shops are less of a refuge than a hunger-games-style fight to get your caffeine and carbs. It’s loud here.

Add to this the fact that I gain energy from being around other people. I think it’s an extrovert thing. I never feel like I need the “alone time” or “recharging time” I hear some of my friends mention. I feel like I’m my brightest, smartest, most creative, sparkliest self when I’m around other people. I live alone, so I tend to fill the silences with podcasts, audio books, opera recordings - anything that brings the energy of other people into my space. This Christmas, I “stole” a water-resistant bluetooth speaker during my family’s “sneaky Santa” gift exchange: I needed it to solve the problem of not being able to hear podcasts over the sound of a shower or hairdryer.

I always hear people talk about the value of quiet self-reflection, so this year I made it one of my new years resolutions to carve out more quiet time, even if I can’t achieve actual silence anywhere in Manhattan. Time away from podcasts and audio books and opera recordings. Like any good knitter, I’m trying to use knitting as a bridge to a calmer, quieter place for my own thoughts. So far it’s a struggle! I just finished working on the second prototype for a new mittens design and was able to get into a nice rhythm while working on them. I’m finding it’s easier to get into that place when working on the short rounds of a small project, rather than the long rows of a shawl or sweater.

I’ll be interested to see where this goes and whether I learn anything new about myself.

Happy knitting, knitters.

Winter Knitting in the Heat

Whew! - these past two weeks certainly have been scorching hot in the northeast! A cold snap the final week of August faked me out and the subsequent heat wave caught me hauling out blankets and packing away my summer clothes. So here I sit with the air conditioner blasting, knitting snowflakes into a sweater that - true to its name - is making me sweat just pooled up in my lap. 

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Square Summer Scarf

This past December I was with some friends Christmas shopping at Nordstrom when I found a super-cheap ultra bulky square scarf about four feet long on each side. It's enormous - actually so large that when I wear it I can't see my feet when I walk (do other people look at their feet when they walk down stairs, or is that just me?). I had no idea how to wear such a garment when I first found it, but it was a pretty blend of pastels like a watercolor painting - and cheap - so I took it home. It was only when I wore it to my frigid office building that I discovered the wonderful versatility of square scarves: when chilly at your desk, you can use them as blankets!

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Swatch Sunday

Yesterday was a lazy day.

Seriously. Not a maybe-I'll-do-one-or-two-things-and-then-sit-here-on-the-couch day. More of an ok-maybe-I'll-shower-but-then-it's-back-into-pajamas-and-I'm-not-moving-more-than-my-fingers-today day. 

But football was on the TV and I could justify the laziness by thinking of the endless to-do list sitting on my desk in the office, so my mind was at peace. And - since my mental faculties seemed also to be taking a break - it was the perfect day for low-stakes knitting: pattern swatching. 

I'm one of those knitters who truly loves to swatch. I like the feeling of producing a handful of tiny squares in under an hour. I like seeing patterns I imagine actually appear with minimal effort. I like the ability to frog and remake in minutes if something doesn't look quite right.

I've had the sneaking suspicion these past few weeks that my color palette for this winter has been excessively neutral so what better to remedy this than a sweater in an oh-so-bright Bugga! by the Verdant Gryphon. 

Endless Sweater, Part 2

It probably makes me an unusual knitter that I never have WIPs sitting around that I intend to finish. My abandoned projects are either irretrievably flawed, never to be resumed, or they nag at me so aggressively once set down that I feel compelled to pick them back up. 

When I wrote my first post about the endless sweater I've been designing (or attempting to design), I planned to hibernate it for a while and come back with fresh eyes in a couple of months. That probably would actually have happened, had I not posted my progress on one of Yarnbox's Ravelry boards and asked for input on how I should remake the sleeves. Suggestions abounded (such a friendly group!) and one in particular got into my head. Once the idea was planted it wouldn't leave me alone.

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Cashmere Cowl

Cashmere Cowl

One of the most agonizing aspects of travel is, for me, that hour spent the night before departure deciding what, oh what, to knit on the journey. Perhaps those less clumsy and accident prone than I are faced with an easier decision, but for me a great deal rides on this choice. Indeed, I believe I am the queen of the crafting-while-traveling faux pas. There was the fateful dpns-on-a-plane incident in which I dropped a needle from my work and, after a great deal of fuss, located it under a fellow passenger's rear end. Or the time I brought a color work hat on a megabus and one of the many balls of yarn slipped from my hands and rolled beneath the seats all the way to the front of the bus. Are you getting the picture? I'm not one of those people who travels with poise. 

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And Sometimes, Friends, You're Just Stuck

And Sometimes, Friends, You're Just Stuck

A few months ago, I started working on a pullover with no particular design in mind. I had four skeins of Ancient Arts 3-ply fingering/sock in Irish Linen and it was lovely and soft and all I could think of was how nice it would be to snuggle into a big cozy pullover this winter. I cast on in a simple stitch and whipped up an oversized front and back that are every bit as soft and warm as could be desired. And then the sleeves happened.

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