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Hello, 2017!

I’ve been thinking about something for nearly a year, since I started working on my first knitting pattern that was published last month. I want to design patterns. Not as a living but as a challenge for my brain. As we get older I feel it’s necessary keep our brains stimulated and engaged. Thinking through and figuring things out is a great thing for us in the over 50 age range. Probably good for anyone, really.

Even when I get frustrated knitting certain items and attempting new techniques, I eventually realize that I’ve learned from that frustration – every single time. I learn something to carry forward with me in what I want to knit or I may learn something that I don’t want to ever knit again. It’s all beneficial (tears occasionally included and part of the bargain).

I began knitting about 15 years ago. I started out knitting patterns exactly as they were written, no personal changes whatsoever. Then I started tweaking things a bit here and there. When I realized that I couldn’t always find what I wanted to knit I thought perhaps I could create some patterns for myself that I like. Then it dawned on me that I could publish my patterns and share them with others.

I want to make very clear that I do not diminish the importance of professional instructors and designers as that would be foolish and insulting. Designing, writing and teaching – that’s their livelihood. I do not aspire to be them for that is not my forte, but I do want to learn from them and create based on that knowledge and experience working with them or taking their classes. The cool thing is I’ve already learned so much from the best in the business, and I consider myself fortunate and seriously so darn lucky to have learned from them.

My knitting goals for 2017 are as follows:  

1. Design 3 – 5 patterns (shawls and scarves) and publish them on Ravelry.

2. Host 3 KAL’s and one MKAL on Ravelry in my group, Seasonal Shawls.

3. Knit the Happenstance Shawl (I already have the yarn for it). At Stitches MidWest last year I took a class where I learned the history of Hap shawls and made a mini-shawl in class. It gives me absolute tingles when I think about knitting one and Happenstance is the one I want to do first.

4. Knit a very special baby blanket for my step-son and his wife as they are expecting their first baby. I ordered the yarn last night and it’s going to be warm, lush and downright beautiful.

5. Learn how to knit a sweater. I’ve knit 2 or 3 sweaters before, top down/raglan and some baby cardigans. But they’ve all been pretty easy, mostly stockinette, with ribbing and buttonholes. Not really a big deal. There was really nothing too complicated about them, no lace, nothing incorporating shaping with other stitches within that garment, etc. But I feel it’s important for me to really understand the mechanics in case at some point in my life I’ll actually want to knit one for myself, plus, with so many incredible stitches to choose from, who just wants a sweater with only stockinette stitch?? Unfortunately, right now I’m hot ALL the time so sweaters are not the first thing I think of what I want to knit something!

6.  Design for me. By that I mean, I won’t worry about who may or may not knit up the patterns that I design and knit this year. If *I* like the design I come up with and I want to knit it, and I think it’s beautiful and challenging and feels RIGHT, then that’s what I should do. And that’s exactly what I’ll do and without feeling guilty.

So 2017, here I am. Ready to tackle new endeavors and looking forward to the challenges and rewards of doing just that.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Oh, My Stars!

May I please just say how flattered, pleased, humbled, shocked and downright tickled I am at how much people on Ravlery are reacting to my first pattern?

 

I just can’t believe the numbers so far. In less than 48 hours there have been 412 unique downloads (which I believe means it’s been downloaded by 412 computers/ISP addresses – if one person downloaded it 10 times at their pc it would only count as one so that means 412 have so far liked it enough at first glance to download it for POSSIBLE future knitting.)

 

Also, in Ravelry you can ‘favorite’ a pattern or a project with a heart. It’s been favorited 176 times. That’s 176 hearts in 48 hours.

 

What the heck? I sincerely did not expect this kind of reaction. Not even in my heart of hearts did I think it would happen. I figured maybe 50 people would download it and if I could get 1/4 of those folks to join the KAL that I’ve set up for January – I’d be ecstatic. But now? I’m not sure what to call how I feel. But grateful and blessed are definitely two more adjectives I can think of for how I feel right now.

 

Being a free pattern didn’t hurt, I’m sure. But people still had to like it enough out of the gagillion patterns that are out there to take the time to download it, right? I’m sure the downloads are going to slow down as time goes on but in the meantime I hope it’s okay to enjoy the accolades, even if just little.

 

I think many other knitters feel this way too, but I don’t know what I’d do without knitting. It calms me and helps me ‘zen’ if you will. Creating Jorjamae went beyond helping me zen, it allowed me to use the design process and knitting the shawl to grieve for my mom in a way that made sense to me. I could lose myself in the process and that was OKAY.

 

I had been struggling to figure out how I was supposed to grieve for my mom, my best friend, and angel to so many, for quite sometime. Then the idea to design a shawl popped into my head in what seemed like out of nowhere. I played around for at least a month with different stitches, drew multiple awful drawings (drawing is not strong suit of mine!) in order to see various ways of incorporating what I wanted as the final creation, working the math, and then boom. It just all started to come together. And it became something to help me think positively about my mom whenever I look at the actual shawl, see the pattern and know how proud she’d be of me. I see her smile and feel her hug every time I look at Jorjame in my craft office at home.

 

The hard part truly came when I had to write it up so others could understand it! My notes that were in my own special shorthand weren’t going to cut it for anyone else.

 

In the end it became a 19 page pattern. I worried about that while formatting it.

 

Constant questions.

 

Wasn’t that going to be too many pages? Maybe I don’t need to do charts, just written instructions because that would cut out 3 pages. Well, what’s 3 more pages when you’re already at 16? But some people prefer written, others won’t even look at a pattern if it doesn’t have charts. What about the font? I could make the font smaller. But I hate patterns that I have to find a magnifying glass to read them! So that was out.

 

ML, my very dear friend and mentor, said 19 pages was fine, whatever it takes to make the pattern was just fine. And she was right. I could have had this done much sooner but it wasn’t ready. My goal was to always look at the pattern while I was working on it as if I were someone who’d never seen it before. And then ask other kinds of questions. Does this description make sense, does that look right? Are things lined up? Did I forget anything?

 

Fortunately, with a fantastic mentor along for the ride and an amazing test knitter for the blue version who also happens to be a great friend who would ask questions while she was knitting it up, it appears that it was a success.

 

In the end I feel I created a really good thing. Not just a shawl, not just a pattern. But something that perhaps others can find their own kind of beauty in the process of knitting it themselves.

 

Their own kind of zen.

 

xoxo

Family, Knitting, Love, Uncategorized

Introducing: Jorjamae

It’s here. Finally.

Jorjamae.

The labor of love I’ve been working on for months is finally ready.

I’ve designed a knitting pattern in honor of my mother who passed away in 2014 and I’ve named it after her. It is a shawl knit from Malabrigo Silky Merino and it is divine to wear. The fabric as knit up is soft, silky and smooth (Malabrigo is good for that!).

There are two versions of the shawl. One is knit flat in two identical halves and then stitched together to create a 17×69 shawl. The second is also knit flat but it’s only one piece, it’s 25×69.

It is now available on Ravelry (link below)! With advice from Melissa Leapman, my knitting boss, my mentor and my very dear friend, I’ve created something that makes my heart feel full again. This is for you, Georgia Mae – my mom, my best friend, my angel.

EDITED 12.3.16 6:45PM CST: Click here go to pattern in Ravelry.

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Today is the Day

tToday is the day I make changes.

This is my life and it’s how I’m going to spend my time while I’m still in it. Hopefully, that’s another 30 years at least, but who knows? Could be 25 or 20 years. Might as well enjoy it the way I want to, right?

  • Spend more time with KDO talking, walking and enjoying our new area that we moved to 5 months ago.
  • Be more open to changing up my life’s habits – remaining stagnant is not an option.
    • No one HAS to be on Facebook, no one HAS to be on Twitter, no one HAS to be on any  social media to enjoy their lives. Instead, I’m going to do what I enjoy even if it means emotionally painful adjustments separating from what isn’t creating enjoyment for me anymore.
  • Devote more time writing in my long ignored blog, and far less time becoming anxious and annoyed with Facebook and feeling as though I’m wasting my time there.
    • I become so stressed just going on Facebook (and have for a few months) that I just don’t see it as a positive experience for me for much longer.
    • I’ve already begun unfollowing a number of people so I don’t see their news feeds but what’s the point of that? If I’m not reading your news feed then clearly, I should simply unfriend you. It’s time to cull the list and the time is now.
    • Some friends I’ll remove not because of the recent elections but because of other reasons that are not negative. I’m simply trying to reduce the stress level that has built up.
    • I’m planning to reduce my ‘friends’ list by at least half initially. Then within a couple of months I may even deactivate my account. We will see how it all pans out.
    • 1st up will be removing ‘friends’ on Facebook who weren’t just expressing their opinions about the recent election on there but rather were cruel, racist, immature, ignorant (that is, accepting every news item they saw as gospel while not performing their research and just posting them not realizing they were posting untrue things), and in my face on my own postings.
    • It’s one thing to use your own page to express your beliefs and opinions, it’s quite another to write it on my page as comments that were offensive or came off as yelling to get a point across. If we’re to have discussions then they ought not to include yelling.
    • I’m still reachable via the email on this blog.
    • And I miss writing – oh, how I miss it! So I’ll be doing a lot more of that and it feels so good just knowing I’m back.
  • Continue to learn how to design knitting patterns. I’m so excited about this and I’ll be publishing (with help) my first pattern on Ravelry before the end of the year.
  • Expand my knowledge on knitting techniques. This I’ve begun with the purchase of some amazing books by very talented people. I’ll do a blog post on that at a later date.
  • And I need to get back to my photography and get out and take more photos! I’ve been a slacker and not spending as much time outside with nature  – I miss finding and photographing beauty everywhere I go.

There’s a lot more I’m going to do moving forward but this is a good start.

Enjoy your day,

Patty

Knitting

Your Gauge Can Change

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I’ve been knitting for almost 15 years. And for the last 4 years or so I’ve been working with someone I met in my very first knitting class, Melissa Leapman, to knit things for the books she’s written, for magazines she’s been published in and I also knit up one thing this summer for one of her classes at Stitches Midwest. That was a little tough working on a double knitted THICK scarf in the middle of the summer with tweed yarn. Lovely, but tough. Whew…

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am bragging by referring to Melissa in my blog post, that’s really not my intent though the reason I bring her up will become important shortly. And before I talk about the gauge issue I want to state that I’m so very flattered that she finds my knitting good enough to be used in her work and publications. She’s fussy, let me tell you, so if she appreciates my work then I must be doing okay. <insert me blushing>

So, back to the title of this post. Your Gauge Can Change.

Truth there.

The first half of the year my right bicep was bothering me. Sometimes when knitting, sometimes when reaching, sometimes when swiping (like wiping off a table) or lifting. It was a very sharp pain, like a long blade pressing in along the bicep vertically. In addition, my right shoulder was stiffening up. Then my back near the shoulder blades was tensing up. Well, I went to the chiropractor and began treatment in September.

Around that same time Melissa needed two pieces knit up. We’ll call them A and B.

I knit up piece A and it was pretty darn close to the specs she provided in the schematic. And I had used my usual needle size with this particular project (we’d been working on this for some time, same kind of yarn, similar pieces). Even so, I had knit up a gauge swatch before I started and it was fine.

Then I started on piece B with the same needles and yarn. It was at least 3 weeks into my chiropractic treatment by then.

I finished and blocked it and remember thinking maybe her math was wrong while knowing that was an impossibility – I KNOW her, it wouldn’t be wrong. Then why did it seem larger? Well, there’s a certain technique we used so maybe my dimensions are fine because I don’t include that part when I measure. After all,  I had checked my stitches per inch throughout and was satisfied I was still on gauge. I sent A & B to her thinking they’re both fine. But in the back of my head for the first time I was doubting my skills.

While pieces A & B were en route to her I decided to knit piece B a second time and we’ll call that C. I still had enough of the yarn so I started knitting C with a needle one size smaller. Dang if that didn’t still come out a little bigger, too! Yet I was still checking stitches per inch every so often while I knit. Maybe that one will suffice and she’ll like that one. Nope, still too much off.

What’s going on?

At this point I was about 4 1/2 weeks into treatment. A little light had gone off in my head when I sent C to her and I told her in the note I included that maybe having less pain and discomfort has changed my gauge. At the same time though, I thought nah, that’s kind of silly.

Turns out not so silly. I’ve since done some Googling and reading up on the fact that when pain is reduced, you relax (of course) so therefore, in my logic minded brain I thought, why wouldn’t gauge change?

You do see where this is going, right? Yes, I’m going to knit B a third time which I’ll call D once I get the yarn. But I’m going to knit up two swatches to check gauge. One at the time of day I try to sneak in some knitting – on the bus, the train, and over lunch. And one in the evening after work when I’m sitting down for the night. And I am going to be darn sure that I am SPOT on with gauge – and know when it’s better for me to knit to get more precise gauge – before I begin working up D.  Because I really don’t want to knit it E!

I’m now into week 6 1/2 for my treatment and I’m about to phase from two appointments a week to one. And I have special exercises I do that are helping immensely. My pain level when I started treatment was about a 7.5 out of 10, 10 being the worst (sometimes I was an 8, that included spasms in my arm). Now? Maybe 2 if I’ve pushed it too hard for a day. That’s a huge accomplishment.

So my advice is pay attention not only to your gauge but to how you feel when you’re knitting. Are you stressing because you’ve had a rough day? Knit something where gauge doesn’t matter. Are you totally in the mood for knitting and it will be soothing to you? Probably a great time to knit something where gauge is important and you’re able to pay attention to detail.

Knitting up swatches, not being in pain or stressed out, knitting at the right time of day, all of these things I’m finding will make a huge positive impact on my knitting. Maybe it will on yours, too?

P.S. I would like to add that I’ve learned so much from Melissa; she’s challenged me over the years with different projects and complicated stitches and for that I’m incredibly grateful to her. I wouldn’t be knitting the things I am these days and challenging myself if it weren’t for her having faith in me that I can produce what she needs. And I wouldn’t have found such a delightful friend.

Family, Love, Mom

A Little Left of Center

Tomorrow, August 31st, 2015, will be the one year anniversary since my mom passed away. For the most part I think I’m doing pretty darn good but sometimes I’m not so sure. I think that’s okay, that it’s all part of the grieving process.

Though lately I’ve been feeling kind of weird. I’m assuming it’s because of tomorrow but I don’t know.

I’ve felt hyper-sensitive, for lack of a better term,  for awhile and I don’t mean like you look at me and I fall apart in tears (okay, one day that DID happen but it’s all good). I mean, for example, in terms of taking a walk and smelling the air and seeing the butterflies and dragonflies lead me on the walking path, and soaking in EVERYTHING around me – colors, textures, sounds, light, air, movement – and feeling like I’m a little to the left of myself and everything feels so exaggerated! It doesn’t feel bad, quite the opposite, but I can’t put an exact word to what it DOES feel like. It’s happened a number of times over the last week or so. It’s happened on the bus, the train, just sitting at my desk in the office, standing in the dining room, walking through the park.

I don’t understand the feelings and I don’t know what to do about them or what I can do about them. Or if I even need to do anything about them at all.

My first husband passed away in early 2010 and while I grieved for him immensely and still think of him frequently, I don’t recall feeling like this when it was coming up on his anniversary. Maybe because we had a little over a year to get used to the idea that he’d be gone and that he knew who I was, even up to the end. And we had many conversations prior to his passing.

With my mom, she didn’t know who we all were the last few months. I strongly feel that she knew we were ‘safe’ and we wouldn’t harm her in any way. She would also get this glint in her eye or make a gesture or say a word that would make you think she’s all there because it was familiar and clear and HER and you thought ‘oh, there she is!’ and then it would pass. And you would keep your smile on your face and still love her because how could you not?

Perhaps what’s happening is that my mom is her angel self and staying near me right now knowing how much I miss her and how much I love her and how much I need her and she’s there to comfort me. I know, I know, everyone says their loved one who passed was the nicest person ever, etc. But you know what? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she was that person. And there aren’t many of them, let me tell you. They’re quite rare, indeed.

There are people who don’t believe that could be possible, no one can be that nice or that good. But I firmly believe that it’s true. I grew up with an angel. She was my mom. So I think I know what I’ll do. I’ll let these feelings wash over me and just be. Because what I’ve been feeling lately must be an angel nearby, a guardian angel. My mom.

I was going to end this saying to my mom I pray she rests in peace. But you know what? I’m not going to. She’s already at peace.

Instead I say this to my guardian angel, my mom:

I want you to dance!

I want you to sing!

I want you to love the life you have in heaven!

I want you to bask in your happiness!

And I will revel in the memories I have with you!

I love you, mommy, with all my heart and soul!

Patty

Patty with her golden hair, in and out of everywhere.

What she does is many things from reading books to making rings.

She reads day in and day out, this what Patty’s future is all about.

She loves all kinds of books, from mysteries to books of jokes.

Patty is lovable in her way, she tries to show it every day.

Sometimes she is happy and then she is sad.

But when her mood is good, everyone is glad.

Written by: My mom (a little something my mom wrote when I was about 10 years old)

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Campside KAL (knit-a-long)

I’ve been involved with swaps for many years and also involved with a fantastic knitting community called Ravelry almost since its inception. I decided a couple of months ago to pull back on the swap side so I could concentrate on my knitting. Well, that sort of worked.

  1. I’m currently working on a class sample for the divine Ms. M for the Stitches Midwest event coming up. It’s slow going but it’s going to be gorgeous.
  2. I have a slip stitch cowl in process (the name of it escapes me at the moment), probably about 3/4 done.
  3. I have a sweater hibernating in a basket that stares at me longingly once in a while to take it out and work on it.
  4. I’ve got the Thunderstorm MKAL clue 4 to work on over the next week and a half before the next clue comes out.
  5. I have yarn for the Brimson shawl for this fall, the mix of stitches is simply yummy!!
  6. My yarn will arrive tomorrow for the Campside shawl.
  7. And as if that isn’t enough I’m hosting a KAL in Ravelry for said Campside shawl.

So I’m throwing this question out to Jane & John Q. Knitting Public:

How do you balance multiple knitting projects? I’d love to hear from you!