Turning towards the light

Image

Like me, my son and my eldest daughter have a character of distinctive emotional ups and downs. We can be ecstatically happy or miserably unhappy. There is an in between, of course, but we do have a tendency to experience emotions that feel like they are too big for who we are.

On top of that we are very sensitive to moods and atmospheres. My five-year-old daughter sometimes feels uncomfortable with people ‘because of their voices’. In her perception, people have beautiful or not-so-beautiful voices. In the past few months, for instance, she has been reluctant to go to school because her teachers this year ‘do not have beautiful voices’. While I did realise it is not so much the voices as what they express, I only recently came to understand that she actually literally means voices. Just not the ‘real’ voices of people, but their inner voices.

My son, in puberty, is feeling terribly lonely at times. I recognise it so well, that searching for meaning and purpose in life. And the fear that perhaps there is none. The knowing that you exist for a reason, that you have a mission, but not where you have to look for it and fearing that perhaps you are wrong, it is all useless.

Today I am still not sure of my meaning, my purpose, but I am slowly starting to explore the possibilities. I have realised that, in point of fact, it does not really matter if my existence has a true meaning or purpose. What does matter is that I make sure it has significance to me. It does not matter what others think of me – all that really matters is what I think of me. Because I have found that no one can judge me more harshly than I do myself. And if I have no love and compassion for myself, then who will?

Hoping that I can help him avoid years (or decades, in my case) of internal struggle, I am now trying to find a way to explain this to my son. And in a more simple way, to my daughter. How can they shield themselves from what others think and feel? How can I help them understand that they are not their emotions, they have emotions and as such they have a certain extent of control with regard to how they feel? And how can I reassure them that their lives always have meaning even if just because they matter as uniquely individual beings that can never be replaced or recreated?

The world, and the people in it, will never be as beautiful or kind as they would like it to be. We can try to make it a better place but what really matters for us as individual beings is the place we make in it for ourselves.

The fact that my children are gifted (there, I said it) makes them wonderful creatures capable of soaring to incredible heights. But like every child, they need proper nurturing so that they learn to spread their wings and turn towards the light. And I can only hope that I am the right person to teach them how to fly.

Longing for spring

It is nearly February. Outside it is raining, the snow is melting and a few rays of sunlight pierce the clouds. Suddenly I realise I am longing for spring. I want the first snowdrops to push through the moist black earth and herald the coming of better weather and life outside.

When the guy caught me by surprise a couple of days ago and said ‘I’d like a hat something like that’ after trying on my Tuke hat (which really didn’t look as silly as you might think), I immediately stash-dived before he changed his mind and came up with this Manos del Uruguay silk blend in Orion, a lovely mossy blend ranging from olive to a pale yellow white.

ImageImage

The intricacies of hat knitting no longer holding any mysteries for me (just kidding), I happily cast on Brenna England’s Classy Slouchy Tuque just three days ago and set to work. I am amazed at how quickly it came together because I finished up yesterday night and he is wearing it today.

I know we women are supposed to be difficult to please but men are just as bad. He had approved the pattern and yarn in advance but the moment he put it on his head, what did he say? Not ‘Thank you darling, I love it and I really appreciate the effort you put into it’. No, he actually said: ‘I’d prefer a solid hue next time.’ Of course darling, your ears can freeze off your head next year for all I care, see if I ever make something for you again! Grrrr.

ImageStill, it was nice practice and I made sure to pick a pattern and yarn I really liked so I could wear it myself if His Lordship wasn’t adequately grateful for my hard, loving labour. I really like the star pattern on the crown, which makes it special. And thanks to the little bit of slouch, it keeps one’s head from looking like an egg. Prettily decorated perhaps, but still an egg. Next time I might use a smaller needle size for the border because it turned out a bit loose but this is probably one of those quick and easy patterns that I will use again and again. It is great for last-minute gifts, too, and you can pick the yarn and needle size to suit the intended wearer.

At the yarn shop the other day I saw a lovely scarf called Unique Melody. Malia knit it in a Cascade lace yarn that made for a really pretty, cosy little scarf. I cast on today but the lace yarn is so fiddly I was afraid to keep dropping stitches. Since I also had not realised the pattern is available in chart only, which I have never done before, I started with some trepidation. And indeed, the fiddly/chart combination (plus some new stitches, once again) just overwhelmed me so I went on another stash-diving expedition and came up with this lovely Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino in pretty spring colours – it’s perfect! Just looking at it makes me happy and knitting up the leaf-like pattern of Unique Melody will feel just like spring. What projects, yarns and colours do you turn to when you need a little happiness in your life?

Image

FO: A head-warming victory

This is the last you’ll hear of the Tuke hat (promise!) but I had to let you know I finished it, didn’t I? I solved the ‘few stitches on circular needles’ problem by figuring out how magic loop works (lots more fiddling but I’m pretty sure it beats double-pointed needles). I’m afraid I did not use the official method, since I was unable to get the working yarn on the back needle as the tutorials say. But it worked out anyway. See?

ImageFrom there I was just a few decreasing rows away from the finish. Tuke taught me (the beginnings of) round-knitting and magic loop knitting and is just about the best thing I have ever had on my head. When I picked up my five-year old from school wearing my pioneering feat of home-crafting, she liked it but felt it wasn’t a ‘proper’ hat because it did not have a pom pom. So we decided to add a small one using Eskimimi’s nifty pom pom fork technology. Check it out here.

Image

My new hat is soft and cushy, lovely and warm and I might not want to take it off for the rest of the day. I think my significant other would protest if I attempted to wear it to bed tonight, otherwise I just might have!

Both my daughters have already ‘ordered’ a smaller version of Tuke so I’ll cast on the next one using Opal Hundertwasser sock yarn and see if that scales down the pattern sufficiently to fit my eldest daughter.

Wartende Häuser by Friedensreich Hundertwasser

This extraordinary collection of sock yarn is based on several works by Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (1928-2000). I knitted a rib stitch scarf for my daughter from the Wartende Häuser colourway (and I’ll never ever do that again, I can tell you, since I thought I was going to be a doddering old biddy before I finished it!).

It is funny how something as ‘grandmotherly’ as knitting can open a window to the rest of the world. I had never heard of Hundertwasser before I bought the sock yarn but now I am going to find out a lot more about him and share it with you in a future post. It turns out he is one of my favourite kind of people: an artist, visionary and eco warrior avant la lettre wholly determined to walk his own path. Wouldn’t you just love to live here?

Hundertwasser’s Waldspirale or ‘Forest Spiral’ in Darmstadt, Germany

The hat has me worried

Image

Its maw is threatening to swallow my peace of mind. Even though it is actually getting along just fine, since I have reached the decrease section without further mishaps. To date, that is. I sought out some expert online advice on the knit4togethers and althought I would like them a bit tighter, they actually look fine and very… controlled. A miracle in itself, considering the intricate fiddling and fuzzling that is involved in knitting four stitches together (the online expert handed me a cheat: knit one, slip back onto the left needle, pass three stitches over, slip back onto the right needle. Still lots of fiddling but it beats the alternative: actually knitting four stitches at the same time!).

Image

As you can see, I have come a long way already. What has me worried, though, is that I am supposed to continue decreasing according to the pattern until I have 16 stitches left. Now how on earth am I going to knit in the round with just 16 stitches? It is getting pretty tight already and I’m shifting the stitches around all the time. Does anyone have any suggestions?

On a positive note, it’s much better worrying about my knitting than all the other things in my life that are clamouring for constant attention in the background of my mind. It seems that problems can never await their turn like good little soldiers; they always have to come knocking all at the same time.

There have been times where I got totally overwhelmed and felt like I had no control whatsoever. That made me passive, angry, and totally frustrated with myself for being such a wimp that I was unable to make a better life for myself. Sound familiar?

These days, I am slowly learning to let things come as they may. I am being forced to learn, the alternative being drowning.

And it appears that my unhappiness in past times was as much of my own making as it was caused by the actions or inactions of others. I have found that the way I responded to events was at the heart of much of my sadness, fears and unhappiness, as well as the numbness, the sense of detachment and ‘deadness’, that these emotions caused. My way of dealing with external events and internal emotions also had a huge impact on how long such periods would last. Never having learned to deal with my emotions in childhood and then going through a long period of traumatic experiences often left me feeling like a ship set adrift by the storms of fate. I was also much too dependent on the emotions and opinions of others, letting their ideas of who I was determine how I saw myself.

Perhaps you are aware that depression (and I suspect any kind of psychological upheaval) causes changes in the brain. I won’t go into the particulars but what it boils down to is that if you have ever had a depression, you are more likely to experience further periods of depression in your life. It is as if the tracks associated with depression in your brain are carved more deeply and therefore more likely to be used. This is just like what happens to forest paths more frequently travelled; they are worn more deeply into the soil.

On the other hand, it seems that you can learn how to be a happier person, as well. And this is the path I started following some time ago. It is darned hard work, I can tell you. Similar to digging the Panama canal perhaps. It is not so much physical as psychological and emotional hard labour. I am slowly figuring out how to deal with negative emotions like fear, sadness, anger, anxiety and the resulting depression in such a way that they do not result in total paralysis.

I suspect that what works is different for each individual person. For me, part of it is seeking out the company of people I like instead of hiding in a corner. My mother once said to me: ‘When you stop calling, I know you are not doing well’. This was some time after my first life partner died. I still need solitude from time to time, to recharge, to reflect, to regain my balance. But I also know that isolation is one of the worst things I can do to myself when I am feeling down. The hard work is in seeking out company and being ‘sociable’ when it is, in fact, the last thing I may want.

I also rediscovered what is now fashionably called ‘mindfulness’ – simply being, instead of always thinking. I have always had this ability to see the beauty in the smallest, simplest things but in the past years – and indeed in periods throughout the past 20 years – I forgot how much love and balance can be found in the enjoyment of simple beauty. For instance when I am outside riding my bicycle, I try to stay out of my head (thinking about work, the children, all the stuff that needs to be done and worried about in general or particular) and simply see, smell, hear, experience what is around me. I enjoy the time I spend with my children, pay attention to nature, read good books. When I spend time surfing the net, I seek out blogs with beautiful pictures and lovely words, the stuff of life written by people who struggle, who fall and get up and seek moments of happiness, just like me. And I try to laugh as much as I can. It is an absolute truth that love, hope, and beauty heal. And so does laughter. The hard work here is in not falling back inside your head but staying outside, in your senses as it were.

The hardest work, however, has been in how I perceive things. In how and how long I let outside events affect me. Personally, I think it is impossible not to be affected on an emotional level and this is what I always found difficult about Buddhist detachment as I understood it. How can you not let things touch you? I am finding, however, that it is not so much about not letting things affect you but about how you deal with the resulting emotions.

I had two methods to deal with my emotions, both miserable failures. Either I would dive into them totally, immerse myself until I suffocated in my misery and found it nearly impossible to return to normal. I always did, eventually, but this generally took me a lot of time and a nearly inhuman effort. My other method was to drown my emotions out, to repress, ignore and neglect them. After all, what you can’t see (or feel, in this context), doesn’t really exist, right?

Wrong, of course. I think many of you who read this may know from harsh experience that it doesn’t work. It usually makes things worse and above all, it makes you do a whole lot of other stuff that you will come to regret. And regret, I’m sorry to say, is definitely an emotion that we need to avoid like the plague. Because while useful to make you see the error of your ways, regret keeps you from moving on and seeing all the things that are worthwhile in your life.

All this has given me a new understanding of the lessons many religions try to teach us. Now I must first acknowledge that I do not belong to any faith in particular. I take what feels right from each and so cobble together, pebble by pebble, my own private faith. I respect those who need a more structured, dogmatic approach but that has never worked for me. I ask too many questions that usually cannot be answered and I simply cannot accept that I will suffer torments eternal just for using the brain that the Almighty (by whatever name he or she may go) has given me.

But I digress. I am learning that it is alright to feel anger and fear and sadness. In other words, it is right and even needful to experience your emotions in full. But you must also learn to take some distance from them, to realise that your entire being is not wrapped up in them for all eternity. When you are angry, even in that moment you can remember that you will not stay angry forever (or at least you shouldn’t since that would be very unhealthy). When you are sad or depressed, even in the depths of your misery, you can recognise that you will not be sad or depressed forever. And when you hate or dislike yourself or think you are a loser, you can remember that this will not be so forever. There will always be good things to experience again, like love, laughter, beauty, your own accomplishments and those of the people you love. Or in layman’s terms and however dumb it may sound: there will always be sunshine after the rain, even if it is just the smallest ray or the tiniest spot of light.

Like life itself, emotions are temporary. They do not encompass the entirety of who you are.

And while you should not repress or ignore them, it is in fact possible to distance yourself from them and say: Yes, I am angry (or sad or depressed or lonely) and I acknowledge that emotion, but I am going to let it go for now. If I need to, I will come back to it later but at this point it is an obstacle in my life that I need to remove before I can move on.

And this, my dear readers (however many or few you may be), is the hardest work of all. Because emotions (and the memories associated with them) are pesky things that crop up at the most inconvenient times. I tend to get caught up in them before I even realise it. I fail miserably all the time. But I refuse to give up. I will keep rolling that bloody huge rock up the mountain no matter how many times it squashes me like a bug.

So what do I do, exactly, at moments like this, you may ask? I think this will be different for everybody so it may take some experimenting (and failure, obviously) before you find what works for you.

What I do is to tell myself firmly: ‘You are now letting this go. It is not useful, it is wasting your time, and it is unproductive. So you are letting go of your [insert whatever particular emotion or combination thereof I am feeling] right now’. Then I take a couple of really deep breaths, exhaling forcefully so as to really, physically, expel the emotions. And I move on.

Or rather, most often I try to move on. Because as I am still learning, it does not always work immediately. And when the emotions are really intense, my body also needs time to get rid of the adrenalin and other stuff it released in response to the intense negative emotions.

The key here, again, is time. When I am really really angry, upset, nervous or afraid, my entire body shakes and trembles. It is in full fight-or-flight response. This strong physical response is partly due to violent events in my past, I suppose, which may make my physiology respond more quickly and more intensely than it would otherwise have. But everyone’s body responds to emotions in some way or another. And it needs time to get back to normal.

So while I mentally may have made the decision to let go of the emotions, my body has not, in fact, let go of them yet. And I think this is where Buddhism’s detachment comes in handy – you can be aware of the fact that your body is still in condition red while the rest of you has already made the decision to let go. There are all kinds of ways to get through that time: going for a quick run, jumping up and down, listening to a favourite (preferably upbeat) song, getting involved with something you love to do. Pretty soon you will find your body is back to normal, as well.

There is one other method that works for me here. Crazy as it may sound, I sometimes choose to just ‘wait it out’. Some of you may recognise this from addiction therapy as one of the things you can do when you experience a trigger that would normally have made you use (or engage in whatever addiction you had to deal with). Once you know your body’s response and you also know that it will go away in a little while, you can just wait for it to actually go away. And then get on with your life.

I think this is an extremely enlightened response, in fact, in that you really learn to separate your being from your mind and body. Theoretically, anyway. Because I’m still learning.

So there you have it. A glimpse into the life of Iris. I hope that those of you who know me will deal gently with what I reveal. And that those of you who don’t, recognise me as a fellow human being seeking her way through a complex world. There is one thing that Jesus said that has always struck me as the essence of compassion: ‘Let those of you who are without sin, cast the first stone.’ I have learned the hard way that none of us are without sin. Compassion and true forgiveness are among the most godly gifts you can give another. The greatest lesson I have learned in the past year is that you must also learn to give compassion and true forgiveness to yourself.

Round dance

Remember Malia’s Tuke hat? Well… I had to start again… and again… and again. The first time the join was so ugly I frogged both ear flaps. The second time I had holes at every increase because I (obviously) did something wrong. After figuring that out I started over – the holes would have annoyed me so much that I would never have worn the hat. And then what good would all my hard work be?

The third time around, I somehow, no matter how carefully I counted, ended up with the wrong number of stitches and that wouldn’t do either, of course. So I am now in my fourth attempt and have just joined the thing in the round. (Yay!) I am really proud of myself for figuring it all out and finally getting it right. I hope I will now manage to knit it to the end without having to frog it again (and perhaps again). I also hope I have not just jinxed the whole thing by saying this. So here’s to my first round dance!

DSC07428

Before joining in the round

 

Image

Lo and behold: this is my successful first-ever join-in-the-round.

Image

Just because it is so very beautiful!

How beautiful this yarn is! It is Malabrigo Rios in colourway Piedras. It is an incredibly soft and cushy yarn in the prettiest muted earth tones. The photographs are fairly true to colour. The hat’s ear flaps and edge are knit in garter stitch on 4 mm circular needles (I use KnitPro), which makes for a beautifully soft and springy textile. I just cannot wait to put it on my head. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it will actually fit!

And ok, I need to change my theme because something does go wrong with the photo display. The images appear totally distorted. Will get around to it later, sorry for now!

Update: I Changed the theme. I really liked the previous format but the photographs were all wrong. This looks so much better.

Snow

We were lucky to get at least one day of fairly good snow to date. Such a wonderful thing is not always guaranteed here in Holland. Also, the NS Dutch railway company, the underground company (which runs its trains part of the way above-ground) and the commuter in general would probaby not agree with my assessment that snow is a wonderful thing. Everything goes haywire every year – and this was just a couple of degrees Centigrade frost and a couple of inches of snow.

It is always a good opportunity for some nice pictures, though. This year I realised I am seeing everything through new eyes, with an added appreciation for nature’s beauty and incredible intricacy. I hope you will let me share a few photos with you…

Image

Venus wears a snowy helmet and stole

Image

Thyme in a snow blanket

Image

Lettuce gone to seed wearing a lacy mantle

I admit they are not the best nature photographs ever. I am not a talented photographer and my Sony DSC-H20 has driven me to insensate rage more than once with its inability to focus or take any kind of decent picture unless in the brightest sunlight. What I do like is when you zoom in on the pictures, particularly the last one, you can see the crystal star structure of the individual snowflakes… So beautiful!

Good Start, Bad Start

I guess that I have had a fairly good start this year. Looking back to where I was this time last year, at least, I have come such a long way. Every day I remember a little more of who I was before the big crunch and I do believe I am becoming a stronger, better person. And a better mother, I hope.

Today my eldest daughter celebrated her fifth birthday at school. Such a big girl and such a long time since she was born! We spent yesterday baking and decorating cookies, cutting organza fabric to wrap them in and having such fun together. I had all my children at the table, even the fourteen year old between-child-and-man, and I felt that this is what life is supposed to be like.

It cannot always be like that, of course. Just a couple of days ago we heard that my father’s health has taken a turn for the worse. Everything is uncertain and scary, quite frankly. I realised that my son has more knowledge than I of what it is like to lose a parent. His father died eight years ago last November. We can only hope we will be spared that for a good while yet.

Malia Mather’s Tuke Hat. Photo © Stephen West

So, needing to do something that would occupy my mind that is not work, I decided to cast on Malia Mather’s lovely little Tuke hat (get the pattern here on Ravelry) and trying my hand at knitting in the round. Malia has a cute little shop called Penelope Craft near Leidseplein square in Amsterdam and last Saturday, she very kindly showed me the basics for this hat. I had taken along the beautiful skein of Malabrigo Rios I bought for this hat a couple of months ago but I think she wants me to suffer the beginner’s in-the-round anxiety on my own she showed me how to do the most important part of the magic on her own needles with her own yarn. Presumably I’ll learn more this way but I’m hoping the hat won’t make me look like a gnome when it’s done!

Now if only the WordPress app would let me insert a picture, I’d show you how far I’ve come. So far, it looks fine so I’m thrilled. (Update: I uploaded the photo to my computer and then edited the post to insert it and to insert the hyperlinks. NOT a practical way to go about things… Either the WordPress Android app is impractical or I’m going to have to do something about my general moronicity.)

Tuke hat on the needles

Tuke hat on the needles

I am now, of course, thinking about what cosy something I could make for my Daddy. If you are reading this, Mom and Dad, I’m thinking of you, a lot…

2013 Creative Pay It Forward

Image

I first saw the post below on Facebook and have since discovered it going around in the blogosphere (such a nice word!) as well. My gifting list on Facebook is complete but I thought it might be a nice way to get in touch with some of the people around the world who happenstance onto my little blog. And the idea of brightening up someone’s day unexpectedly, even when you don’t know that person, is wonderfully appealing to me! So here goes:

The first five people to comment on this post will receive a creative gift from me this calendar year! It will be unexpected and whenever the mood strikes me, so expect something fun and unique. The one condition is that if you comment, you must pay it forward and offer the same on your blog!

Don’t forget to leave me a link to your own blog so I can get to know you a little. It would be sad if you are a really cool, tough, motorcycle-riding guy who hates pink and I sent you a lovingly knitted woolly something in bright pink, would it not? Although you probably would not have ended up on my blog anyway, but you catch my drift. And of course I’ll need your address as well so drop me a line by e-mail to keep it private.

How many of you have actually seen the 2000 movie Pay It Forward with the sweet and talented Haley Joel Osmond as one of the leading characters? It made such a huge impression on me, that one little boy starting to change the world. I wonder if the director might have imagined that it would lead to this…

Whoever set off this particular domino effect, you could not have had a better idea to start the new year. It will continue to brighten people’s days throughout 2013 and nothing could be more in the spirit of the movie’s message. I wish you a wonderful, beautiful, fulfilling and creative year!

Anyone else having trouble getting their desired layout published, by the way? I’m pretty sure I’m doing it right but I can’t get WordPress to turn off the darned italics!

Update: After a bit of Googling and Facebooking I came to realise that some people may refrain from joining this lovely little ‘movement’ because they worry about how time-consuming it will be or perhaps their lack of creativity. I’d like to emphasise that this is not about displaying unprecedented feats of crafting skill or spending days toiling on gifts for people you may not even know. It might be as simple as a hand-made post card, a tin of cookies presented creatively, a print of one of your photographs, a famous or much loved poem handwritten on pretty paper, or (for the way too cool to be crafting tough, motorcycle-riding guys among you) a whistle carved from wood or a good-looking metal object (a ring, a nut, a bolt – be creative!) threaded on a piece of leather to make a bracelet or necklace.

It can be anything, really, if you remember that crafting is about making something special out of ordinary, everyday objects. It may take up as little as 15 minutes of your time – and spending 75 minutes on this in an entire year sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it? Particularly if you remember that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. I checked. This project is all about giving a little of your time to make somebody else’s day a little brighter. So just put aside your fears and worries and boldly go where you may never have gone before. (Yes, I confess… in addition to being a knitter, mom and translator, I am also a science fiction-loving geek).

UFO

Image

As in ‘Unexpectedly Finished Object’ – I thought I would never be done with this Adrienne glove! I frogged the whole thing twice: first when I was about halfway through and again when I was nearly done. Both times I had messed up with the row count and it simply looked wrong.

The third time I gave myself a firm shake and, on a wing and a prayer, put the stitches back on the needle after frogging a couple of rows because I had mysteriously ended up with several more stitches than I actually needed. It worked out all right, quite miraculously so.

If I were still the perfectionist I once was (which was about two babies back, if I remember correctly), I would probably never have completed my first Adrienne and it is still far from perfect. Several knitters on Ravelry commented that the glove was rather tight at the top and it looked tight while I was knitting it, so I added four stitches one at a time through the upper half. My technique being as it is (something like ‘just past beginner’s level’ seems about right) I ended up with four holes, which I then had to ‘fix’ when I mattress-stitched the sides together. The top ribbed edge looks sloppy – again because I was afraid it would be too tight and therefore knitted really loosely. Some creative souls (again on Ravelry) ‘added a couple of rows of double crochet’ at the thumb opening for a neat finish and I just might try to figure out how that is done, too.

And of course, it is just the one glove. I still have the entire left glove to go. I might have a lot of other important knits to cast on and complete before that, I’m afraid, because right now I just feel like heaving a relieved sigh and not even thinking about the second glove.

Image

Of course I then found out how hard it is to photograph your newly and fashionably gloved right hand and still make it look… well… not as cramped and uncomfortable as it actually feels. I have developed a newfound respect for contortionists, I can tell you. Still, I am fairly satisfied with the result. I mean, you can see my hand wearing the glove, my nail polish is still fairly fresh and unchipped, there is part of my much beloved Liberty London clutch in the background.

And what might that pinkish knitted thing in the background be? I thought you’d never ask! That is Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze being knitted into a rose’s airy breath. A beaded rose’s airy breath, no less. I’m rather proud of that, actually. I’m not sure yet what its final shape will be but it is certainly going to be pretty.

Just a few more last words on Adrienne. It’s a design by Nancy Ricci at Getting Purly With It and it is not nearly as difficult, of course, as I have made it seem. I decided to knit the pattern in a lovely Manos del Uruguay silk blend. The little ribbed scarf cum belt next to the glove in the first picture may have to sacrifice some of its length for the second glove because I am not sure I can manage with the yarn I have left. Another beginner’s mistake, naturally. I started the scarf without a pattern, just because I loved the yarn and thought it would look pretty like this (and it does!). Of course I then decided to use the yarn for the gloves so for the time being Scarfling is languishing on a bit of scrap yarn. Perhaps I’ll do the second glove soon and finish up Scarfling so I have a first pattern to publish. What do you think, should I?

Adrienne is a fun and fairly quick knit and I would definitely recommend it for just-past-beginners like me. I looked up the stitches making up the curved pattern on the web – there are countless excellent free tutorials out there that will help you master the ‘knit two togethers’, ‘slip slip stitches’ and ‘knit front and backs’ that have such beautiful results when lined up in a certain way. It still seems like magic to me. Happy knitting!

Image

Joyful

There are many things that make me joyful these days. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours shooting photographs for my blog and I realised how many beautiful things there are in my home – if only I stop to see them. The yarn in yesterday’s picture is held by my five year old daughter, who told me to hurry up because she was cold, poor thing! Ah well, somebody has to suffer for one’s art, don’t they? My little girls and teenage son give me reason to be joyful every day.

Image   Image

These little paper angels make me joyful, too. They come as flat A5-size postcards and are assembled with a simple twist and slide movement. This year the seven of them spent the holidays singing Christmas carols on my hardwood cabinet. You can also suspend them on a piece of wire, by the window for instance, or to create a mobile. They were created by the Dutch paper artist Jurianne Matter, see her site here.

And to return to yarn: those in the know will have recognised the fabulous Rowan Kidsilk Haze in yesterday’s photograph. It is a 70% super kid mohair and 30% silk blend that knits up like a cloudy dream. I never liked those mohair and angora pullovers that itch and leave you with fluff everywhere (especially in your mouth, it seems) but I have come to understand why Kidsilk Haze is spoken of as the caviar among yarns. It is not as ‘sticky’ as you might expect and its halo means you can knit on big needles for quick projects with high impact. The blue shades in the photograph I recently bought for Kamicha’s Light Flyweight sweater, which is knitted on Eur 8 mm needles. This is going to be my next project!

I bought several more balls simply because I could not resist the lovely colours. I am certain I will find something cozy to knit with them.

Image

I will remember something for which to be grateful and joyful every day this year. Did you know my mother’s name is Joy? My grandmother must have been looking for an example to live by when she chose that name.