I have yarn dream.

Maybe it’s the tang of fall in the air, or the way the light has turned from bright white to golden.  Maybe it’s the later sunrise or the earlier dusk.  Maybe it’s an innate sense of the turning of the earth, or some vestigial seasonal awareness from the primitive parts of my brain, my ancestral memory.  Whatever is causing it, I have a serious case of start-itis.  I’m deeply aware of snow and fire wood and Christmas looming over the horizon, and my response, as always, is to start knitting and crocheting so my loved ones will not be cold or lonely or sad through the winter.

So I’ve started a Crochet-Along on Ravelry.  You can see my beautiful Diamond Cowl and crochet along with us here.  I’ve also picked out two “little Red Riding Hood” style hoods (here and here) and a hoodie sweater (here) for our October window and have chosen yarn and downloaded patterns.  But I didn’t start them yet, because I got distracted by the idea of an entrelac cowl.  In Juniper Moon Farm’s Marlowe (153 yards of 50% Merion/50%Silk worsted weight loveliness), this is going to be exquisite.

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And, just because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, we’re going to be starting a “12 Weeks ‘Til Christmas” Club.  Starting October 5th, on Saturday afternoons we’ll be hosting in-store knit and crochet alongs with a focus on getting ready for holiday gift giving.  We’ll have one knit and one crochet project featured each week.  They will be easy, quick, inexpensive and fun.

We’ll be sending out more details in the newsletter, but for now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look at sock patterns.

 

 

Noisy dangerous knitters? You go, Girls!

 

(Click on the photo above to watch a short news video)

You may not know it to look at them, but you are surrounded by radical, subversive women.  They carry with them raw materials and tools to perform fundamentally world altering acts.  They blend into their surroundings.  So much so that you probably have some in your home, your family, your work place.  You probably even see them plying their trade in meetings, on busses, in parks and coffee shops, and have no idea what you are looking at.  They are able to recognize each other and often congregate right out in the open (and, really, is there any better place to hide?) to share secrets and tricks that further their individual and collective goals to undermine the fabric of our built-in-obsolescence, consumerist society.

Actually, I’m pretty sure the folks reading this know all about it.  I’m pretty sure most of you are members of this not so secret society.  You know I’m talking about you.  Yes, you!  You knitters and crocheters out there.  Not to mention spinners, weavers, felters, quilters, sewers, etc.  You radical fiber artists and crafters.

Maybe some of you never thought of yourself as radical or subversive.  But consider this: the most fundamentally radical act we humans can engage in is the act of creation.  Think about it for a moment.  Creation.  Even the word has a decidedly mythological, one might even say biblical, ring to it.  This act of creation is one usually ascribed to divine forces.  ”In the beginning…” as the story goes.

And for us, “In the beginning…” there is some fiber that we got from somewhere; from a plant or animal who isn’t using it anymore.  It’s pretty formless though perhaps not entirely void.  Then we do something to it.  We change its form.  From a handful of fluff, through human agency, we spin a thread or mat it together or sculpt it into three dimensional form.  And we find that it is good.  Maybe then we take a thread and perhaps add other threads or change its color or lay it back over itself.  We play with it and twist it and spin it until it becomes yarn.  And we find that it is good.  We take that yarn and wind it around rollers and criss-cross it over and under and in between itself, or we form it into loops and pull loops through other  loops until we have woven or knitted or crocheted a fabric.  And we find that it is good!  We shape that fabric into garments to clothe ourselves and our loved ones, functional or decorative items to enhance our homes, objects of art that lift our souls.  We find that it is so good, that we keep on doing it.  It becomes so much a part of us that we forget what a magical, radical act creation actually is.

Know the other thing I find interesting about the ladies from the UK who have been asked to leave their local library and find meeting space elsewhere?  All the things they create are for babies and children, and some of the things they create are meant to train midwives and teach breastfeeding mothers.  The whole gestation and rearing of children thing is probably the most complex and mysterious creation act of all.  Yet it happens so regularly, so frequently, it is normalized.  We take it so for granted that we rarely stop to think about it.

Yet, even when we aren’t thinking about it, we are drawn to it.  And those around us are drawn to it, too.  The ladies of Crumlington were invited by their city’s council to begin this group, and more ladies joined.  Over the three years they have been active, this group has attracted more members and expanded their list of recipients.  They have created something compelling and productive.  So compelling and productive they are now the targets of some uncomfortable feelings coming from the very council that invited them in the first place.  Are knitting needles really dangerous?  Well, I’ve left some size 1 dpn’s on the sofa and gotten a nasty surprise the next time I went to watch a little TV, but that hardly constitutes a public safety hazard.  (and serves me right for not taking proper care of my tools)  Are they really so noisy?  I suppose a large group of women chatting, even in their most careful tones, could be difficult for some folks to overcome.  But the sound of their needles is cited as one of the areas of complaint.  Really?  The rhythmic clicking and swishing together of knitting needles is the sound of creation.  Is that really part of the problem?  All that creation can get a little uncomfortable?

When you birth a child or finish a shawl, you’ve brought something new, something you’ve built by hand, from your soul, into the world.  And who knows how the world will be changed by it?  Maybe that’s the most dangerous things about creation.  In subtle but profound ways, each time we make something where nothing used to be, the old world changes and is no longer the old world, but a brand new one.  The outcome is unknowable, and fear of the unknown is the most potent fear of all.  But that’s what creation is all bout.  Make something new, know that it is good, and wait to see what happens.  Dangerous stuff, indeed.

I hope the knitters of Crumlington and everywhere will keep on knitting out loud.  I hope you all will keep on creating.  These radical acts sustain each of us personally and the whole world collectively. And if it occasionally gets loud or messy or dangerous, bring it on over here.  We’re having another meeting of the radical, subversive women’s secret society right out here in the open any minute now.  You’re welcome to join us any time.

 

We still love yarn for Knitting and Crochet

October 11, 2013 is National “I Love Yarn Day” and we’re going to celebrate the same way we did last year, with a Community Blanket Knitting Marathon, but this year there’s a twist…this year we’re adding a Community Blanket Crochet Marathon.  We had some disappointed crocheters last year who wanted to help out, but didn’t know how to knit.  So this year we will double our pleasure, double our fun…and perhaps increase the food we can collect and the raffle tickets we can sell.  So you crocheters out there who wanted to be involved, now’s your chance.

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Those of you who joined us last year will remember what a great fun time we had and how much good we were able to do.  For those of you who didn’t make it to the party last year, let me tell you how it works.  Starting at High Noon on Friday, in the Winslow-Holbrook park, teams of four knit in two hour shifts around the clock until High Noon on Saturday.  We invite local non-profits to put out decorated collection boxes and encourage the public to “vote”  by placing non-perishable food items in the box of their favorite charity.  The non-profit who gets the most non-perishable food items (by number, not weight) wins.  At the end of all that knitting and donating, we have hundreds of pounds of food for the AIO Food Pantry,

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and a beautiful blanket that we display at Over The Rainbow Yarn.  Then we sell raffle tickets for the blanket.

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At Mrs. Santa’s Kitchen at The Festival Of Lights, we draw a raffle winner who gets the blanket, and we give the cash from the raffle to the non-profit that won the vote.

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So everybody wins!  Someone who loves it will take home the blanket.  AIO Food Pantry gets food on their shelves at a time when they need it most.  A local non-profit gets a cash infusion at holiday time.  And we get to show our deep love of yarn and knitting.

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And we’re going to do it all again this year.  Either a knitter or a crocheter…or if you do both feel free to represent twice…can sign up for a two hour shift with or without a buddy or three.  I promise you, even if you come alone, it will only take three and a half minutes before you’re chatting with your new yarn buddies and teammates as if you’re already old friends.  If you want to gather some friends, co-workers, fellow organizational volunteers, or any other team and wear an identifiable team hat, shirt, or other brand we welcome you do so and spread the word about your group.

If you don’t knit or crochet and would still like to help out, it was really heartening to our knitters when people stopped by to offer moral support, warm beverages, or junk food in the middle of the night.  Com eon by to watch, chat, ask questions, cheer, sing, tap-dance, anything you feel like doing to show your support.  And don’t forget to bring a non-perishible food item with you to vote for your favorite non-profit.  It really is a community event; having a sense of community will help the knitters and crocheters glide through their shifts with smiles on their faces.

If you are part of a non-profit who would like to be in the running for the proceeds of the raffle, just bring a decorated box to the park and mobilize your base to come vote for you.  The more of your own folks you can get to donate, the better your chances of winning.

Just some statistics from last year so you have an idea what could happen this year:

43 knitters (yup, that means that some of them did more than one shift)

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24 hours, 15 minutes

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More than 250 pounds of food donated

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$530 donated to New Hope For Women

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The times, sign up forms, location details and other particulars are going up even as I type.  As usual, if you have questions, please email or call.  We still love yarn, and we love to show it.  This year, we’re set to do it again, even bigger and even better.  We can’t wait to see you there!

It rained on my parade, and I had a ball.

I can’t believe it’s Tuesday and I haven’t filled you all in on our wonderful weekend.  As you probably already know, last Thursday we had our Second Annual Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race.  We had nine Throwers and five Pickers at this year’s event.  The crowd…yes, there was a crowd!…chanted “Knit! Knit!  Knit!” and everyone had a smile on their face.  Heather Goff won the Throwers Heat and Anne Runquist won the Pickers.  In the final race, Anne Runquist emerged victorious and has been named Maine’s Fastest Knitter 2013.

On Saturday, we put the Bed Of Roses afghan and some other fibery beauties on the Mustang, hung our banners and headed out for the Lobster Festival Parade.  It was a little grey but looked like it might clear up.  And indeed it did…eventually.  It began to rain just as the parade started moving down North Main Street.  It rained pretty steady all the way, then cleared off rather abruptly just as we finished and turned off the parade route to head for the shop and some dry clothes.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is our story in picture form…

 

This is Joshua and his mother, Sammy.  He was still a baby bump at the 2012 race, and look at him now!

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The throwers arriving and getting settled.

 

 

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Me and some of the Pickers getting settled, chatting with the crowd.

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And the crowd…

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The Throwers getting ready

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On your mark…get set…GO!

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And we have a winner of our first heat.  Heather Goff will represent the Throwers in the final race.

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(I know this one is blurry, but can’t you just feel her excitement?)

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And once again, for the Pickers.  On your mark…get set…GO!

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Suddenly, Anne has a moment…she’s counting her rows…and realizes…
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I think we have a winner?

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We do!  We do have a winner.  Anne Runquist has taken the Picker’s race.

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For our final race, we have a surprise guest.  Melissa Philbrook, the Sea Goddess herself, dropped by.

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When we found out that she knits, we entered her as a spoiler in the final race.

 

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For the final time today, on your mark…get set…GO!

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Anne and Heather seem confident, but Melissa doesn’t seem to like her chances against these two champions.

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Once again, Anne has a moment of uncertainty and counts her rows.
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Much to her surprise, Anne is the winner!

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Congratulations, Anne!

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On Saturday morning we did a modest yarn bombing on the car.

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And took our place in the parade line.

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Though it began to pour as we started moving, Anne was a good sport.  She waved at everybody, and she knit on her increasingly wet sweater until the yarn around her fingers began to felt.  We both got soaked to the skin, but we had a great time…and it makes a great story.

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The Maine’s Fastest Knitter Race will go down as the race that included the Sea Goddess and the parade in the rain.  It will also go into my heart as the year I knew I was going to do this every year until I can’t hold a microphone anymore.  Thanks to these wonderful, spirited knitters and the folks who came out to cheer them on, I had a fabulous time.  I hope you all did, too.  See you in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Honeymoon Is Over

So I finished Color Affection.  You know how new relationships are.  You get attracted to someone; something about them just begins to fill your senses.  You start thinking about them all the time, and stealing bits of time away from everything else so you can be with them.  Pretty quickly, everything about them seems prefect.  Even their flaws seem adorable.  Flaws?  Did I say flaws?  No, not really flaws…just adorable things that other people might find hard to accept, but that you find charming.  I mean, nobody’s perfect, and you actually take delight in the quirky, or unconventional, or absurd, right?

Then you come to the time when neither of you are on your best behavior all the time.  Mundane consensual reality begins to assert itself.  You remember that you’ve missed deadlines at work, your home is a mess, and you haven’t called your mother in a month.  And your beloved?  Those flaws that were hardly worth the name seem to weigh heavier than they did a month ago.  The teeth grinding or the fork squeaking on the dinner plate, the way the towels get folded or that thing with the radio volume in the car, gum chewing, rogue eyebrow and nose hairs, nail biting, snoring…the list of things that can begin to drive you crazy seems endless once you start looking beyond the new relationship pink cloud.  And that’s when you start becoming increasingly aware of a thing I like to call FOREVER.

As soon as FOREVER enters the picture, all the little things begin to loom large.  That thrilling drowsy morning grin gives way to funky morning breath.  The disparity in your taste in movies is no longer about broadening your cultural horizons; it’s a reason for resentment.  Then you start asking yourself, can I live with this FOREVER?

And what does this have to do with Color Affection, you ask?  Well…let me tell you.  You know I was falling in love.  I was sure this was going to be the one.  I was so on the rebound from my first disastrous color way, I got all caught up the shimmering delight that is Luxury Silk.  I was so relieved, nay charmed, that the gold really did work and play well with others.  ”What’s not to love?” said I.  Oh…let me tell you…

The edge stitches are too tight.  There.  I said it.  Those pesky edge stitches are just too flippin’ tight.  I can’t deny it any more.  And tight edges mean it won’t lay straight no matter what I do.  I mean, look at it!

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Oh, sure the color works, but…ummm…It puckers and ripples and has weird curves in strange places.  The silk is gorgeous and drapes beautifully around the shoulders, except for these places where it sticks out funny and doesn’t conform to any natural curve on a human body.  Salvador Dali couldn’t have done a better job of completely rejecting the concept of a straight line.

So this is the place where I have to take a good hard look at what’s working and what’s not, what I really want and what’s really happening…and whether I can live with it FOREVER.  This is the place where we have the conversation that begins, “It’s not you; it’s me.  My tension was so strange in this project…even though I have had immaculately even tension in every other yarn I’ve ever worked with since I was, like, nine…I’m sure it’s something I’ve done.”  All along secretly harboring the notion that it’s really not fair or right that silk doesn’t really stretch when you block it and that these edge stitches are stubborn and selfish, skewing and puckering little twerps that they are.

I can go back to Ravelry and look at all the pictures of everyone else’s Color Affection and admire their straight, even top edges and their flat short row transitions and try to figure out a way to convince my Color Affection to be more like the others.  I could go looking for forums of other people having issues and start a support group for knitters whose Color Affections have done them wrong.  I could even ditch this one like I did the last one.  I could become obsessed with working on this relationship and “fixing” every quirk to the point where I drive myself crazy.  Believe me; I’ve done it before, and I know I could do it again.

Or I could ask myself, “What do I want to do with this shawl?”  And I could ask myself, “Will it do what I want it to do, just the way it is?”

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The colors are still really beautiful.  The drape is still exquisite.  It’s still shimmery and soft.

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It has a way of clinging to curves and adding textural interest.  Hmm.

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You can wrap it in a scarf-like way…and really show off the amazing color.  Did I mention I sill love the color?

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When all is said and done, the curvy lines are quirky…and perhaps charming.  I mean, really…how many times am I going to lay it out flat on a table?  So maybe I’ll never get to hold it out at wingspan length and go running up a wooded path while someone takes a picture of my perfectly straight top edge.  What I really wanted was a pretty, silky, warm but drapey shawl with amazing beautiful color that’s easy to wear and becomes a go-to garment for casual, business and semi-dressy ensembles.  I wasn’t really asking much, right?  And guess what I got.

The honeymoon is over.  I know my Color Affection has its faults.  But I really love it, and it does everything for me that I wanted it to.  I can live with the rest.  Forever.