Friday, October 12, 2018

The sound of letting go

collage image of letting go
 It's a big yawn. A soft exhale. A carefree squawk of laughter.
sketchbook and nature treasures
This year has been utterly different from what I hoped and planned for at the start of the year. It's brought many challenges and many unexpected gifts - more often than not out of those challenges. The end of the eternal winter and the start of the spring found me very low and I reached out for help. Antidepressants and counselling. Life rafts that have helped me float on through a year where the physical constraints of my knee injury had taken away two of my greatest balancers: regular yoga classes and long, wonder full rambles. They continue to help me now as I wait for an operation on my knee. Wait and unravel. Slowly slowly. No matter how slowly I think I am going there is a level beneath that my soul craves. Not a standstill but ponderous, languid, incremental.
all the fairy lights
I write this from my room of my own. Feeling a pull back to this virtual space as I seek to kindle sparks of inspiration. The eternal building project has a last few nails to be banged and walls to be painted but I am here in my very own space. Den. Studio. Nest. Craft room. Burrow. Study. Container of joy! It makes me feel like a teenager again, fussing in my bedroom, the rearrangements of furniture, pictures, books helping find a sense of who I am. Though teenage Sarah would have had her eyes on stalks at the range of fairy lights available.

Who knows what crafts will actually occur in here. At the moment the sheer pleasure of grouping like with like and dreaming of being able to lay my hand on the exact desired supply are enough.

Friday, January 26, 2018

From the mossy hollow

As we descended towards the shortest day I could feel the need to turn within very strongly.  I kept coming back to the image of a mossy hollow. Tucked in the earth, at the roots of a bare tree, a space where I could curl up in to a ball and let the days pass. It sounded soft and comforting, but the slowing has been awkward, and though the body tells me what it needs, keeping the mind, and the world around me to the same pace is always the challenge. As my new knitting project grows, I see the browns and dark greens are like the manifestation of the hollow. Happily a softer, cosier representation. Knitting this wrap is a process that literally helps me create the space I craved. I have been falling home from work and into its embrace all week. The long rows create a rhythm that wasn't in my hands as they scurried at the socks. Warm and safe from epic rains and winds. The hollow is the dip my bum is making in the sofa cushions.

I thought I only started on the Orchard Grass Wrap over other patterns, like the Pay It Forward scarf, because I could wind frogged yarn easily into a ball (while my skein winding gear remains in hiding somewhere). Perhaps the knitting muse just knew it was exactly what I needed to be knitting.

I've been puzzling over why knitting and I had such a long hiatus in our towering romance. Looking over old projects. Opening bags and marvelling at why I stopped right there. Reading back over posts here and on Ravelry. Instead of answers I find only gratitude that the knit is back on.

My new read, pictured above, could literally have been written for me and there is a beautiful quote I keep coming back to:

"This is the nature of faith, of magic, of art, of a good life's work: If you ever understand perfectly what you're doing, you should stop right away."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ebbs and toes

Socks in progress

Grafting a toe

Embroidered spirals
Today is a classic wet winter Sunday, grey grey with just the slight twist of snowflakes in amongst the rain drops. It's the kind of day that reminds me of teenage doldrums, school tomorrow and cooped up inside. Our house used to have downstairs rooms that all flowed one to another and I'd get trapped either in my bedroom, or out of it, with an armchair full of snoozing Papa between me and wherever I wanted to go. He has always had a lot of back problems and was in such constant pain that waking him from a snooze was a little like waking a bear from hibernation. I guess I have much more empathy for him as I get older and creakier! I'm not having the most fun with some of my body at the moment, I injured my knee in November and rehab is slow, and has felt a bit backwards the last couple of weeks, as I just try and take a short walk on top of the essential steps to get through a day. Still, these days grey out and being sofa bound says craft, craft, craft rather loudly!

Not that it's all plain sailing in the knitting either, happily though too short socks are easier to mend than human bodies. I couldn't believe it last night when I proudly pulled them on and then had that uncomfortable moment of trying to pretend they fit. What gets me is I tried the first one on before I grafted it! Clearly feeling impatient to be wearing them! So I've ripped them out this morning and they are going to have to have a sit in time out to think about what they've done before I can segue in to happy repairer mode. But still. They are actually nearly done. Yay!

While they pause I think starting a Koolhaas hat is on the cards. Or perhaps an Orchard Grass Wrap after I realised I had some perfect yarn for it in my stash. Delicious Rowanspun 4ply in Sludge. That was actually half knit but has now been released from its previous ill fated project. Though, choices, choices, it could be more socks. I have a new to me, half done pair,  Monkeys in Rowan Fine Art Yarn. Found after a very long time out, started in 2014 apparently. I only found them when looking for my ball winder to get some yarn wound for the Snicket Socks I thought were destined to be next. The problem here is also toe related. Perhaps attempting kitchener stitch without written instructions to refer to??? it seems I created a reverse kitchener and was obviously lacking in patience to sort it out!  The Monkeys never made it to Ravelry and were only once mentioned here so the joy of finding a finished sock outweighs any concern at sorting out that toe! It's amazing how deep in my clutter I've managed to hide many of my knitting tools and yarn but at least there are sweet surprises along the way of sorting it all out!

Despite not having a finished pair of socks yet this month I have met my little goal of a finished object. I finally gifted my one handmade Christmas gift yesterday having finished it the day before! My sweet embroidered hare cushion suffered a very swift photo shoot as she was hustled out the door but I was delighted with the cover itself. I bought a printed cotton cover and used various of my most favourite threads to embroider simple running stitch spirals. It was soothing, gentle work and part of the beauty of a handmade gift is the time that you put in isn't it? So, slow, but worth it.

We were chatting at work about that crazy year when you attempt to hand make every gift. I have reined myself in and in but it's still my dream. I'm mulling over something I'm calling Project Hamper. The idea being to try and make various preserves throughout the year and then come December be overflowing with handmade abundance without the wild eyed desperation. The idea sounds so good in principle but as I looked at a crate of marmalade oranges in the supermarket yesterday I decided I could at least give myself a pass until our new kitchen is in and my knee is better! The current kitchen is so dark as we have an extension being built on the outside that there is no encouragement to linger out there when I make a cup of tea let alone getting all cosy and productive. Who knows when we'll be done but maybe it's all divine timing as I might have a mended knee on the same timescale!

Sunday, January 07, 2018


Blue skies and tree branches

Early January narcissi first daffodil

snuggled up sleeping cat

handknit sock hand knitting

Sky and mood are both a lot brighter today, though hibernation is definitely not over yet! It was lovely but very chilly in the park today. The trees were filled with long-tailed tits searching for whatever tiny bugs it is that they eat. Their tiny chirrups were the most lovely soundtrack to a beautiful walk, though how they keep their tiny selves warm is beyond me and my six hundred layers.

Stitch by stitch I made a sock and got myself through a tough few weeks. Feeling low for a whole host of reasons I'm so glad that I found my way back to knitting on something absorbing. That old sanity saver has really worked its magic again. I know I've still got to make the other sock but I feel like a knitter again.

The surest sign that the old addiction is back is that it's only willpower and cold toes that have kept me working on this sock. Suddenly all the dreamy patterns on Ravelry are calling me. I have a hundred different sock patterns I want to start and to the left of me, here in my sofa nest, is the already printed pattern that is calling me the loudest: the Pay It Forward scarf. I'm letting it court me, playing a little hard to get. I'm thinking about yarn combinations while my fingers work on the sock, I daren't start pulling skeins out of the stash and begin the fondling (second base??) or I know I'd have to cast on!

Assuming it is my second sock that I cast on this afternoon, I'll be watching Nicole at the gentle knitter podcast while I knit it. It's been one of the happy surprises about diving back in to yarn obsessing, that somewhere in my knitting lull, podcasts went from audio only to video. This one is providing beautiful companionship (and source of plenty of inspiration for what to cast on next!).

Sunday, December 31, 2017

That sock magic

Hand knitting sock with Sensation Knitted Socks

I felt the flickers of an old impetus and I cast on some socks just before the Christmas break began and have been cosied up with them whenever possible. They are so delicious. I had to get my Sensational Knitted Socks out to have a clue where to start. I thought I might be in trouble when I need to look up what SSK meant but my hands remembered the long tail cast on, the needles sit just right in my hands and it is so pleasing to watch it grow. Top down, my old favourite construction, there is a rhythm here that is deeply satisfying.

I'd forgotten the comments and conversations that knitting socks in particular seem to draw. Can you make me some? (Mostly no, only the most beloveds get hand knits). How long will they take? Followed up by "HOW LONG? and then one of the classics - "You do know you can get a five pack from xxx (insert their favourite shop) for just £x" (always good to know what people spend on socks!)  It's an insight in to how fixated so many people are on having things quickly and cheaply rather than having something special, or exploring the enjoyment of the process of making them. These are the same people I'm sat chatting with. Their time has passed without making anything so you'd think they'd be in awe at my multi-tasking efficiency!

I turned the heel last night and went to bed puzzling over what I used to do to tighten up the picked up stitches around the heel flap. Overnight my brain offered up the old trick of knitting through the back to twist the stitch. It's been so long that there's this funny sensation of doing something new that I am mysteriously talented at. I can't deny it's a enjoyable phenomenon. Years of practice make you a natural when you get back on the bike!

I'd like to see more craft magic sprinkled through 2018 so I'm going to set myself a little project of finishing something each month. Let's see whether that little challenge helps to keep these fingers busy.
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