I Love a Good Yarn

Yarns, stories, and sometimes stories about yarn

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Best-laid plans

Ugh, already making adjustments to the 2018 goals. Making time to write every day is tough when there are errands to do and, let’s be honest, fun to be had with friends and family. How about this, instead of vowing to write every day, I vow to write at least once a week and guarantee that what I write will be at least somewhat entertaining and/or informative? I think that beats struggling to write every day and often having nothing interesting to say, right? I know I’m rationalizing, but it’s my only recourse at this point.

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To resolve or not to resolve …

… that is the question a lot of us are asking ourselves today. This year I’m choosing to set only those goals I feel I can really achieve. I weighed the various options, checked them all for gauge (couldn’t resist the knitting analogy), and found only a couple really fit the bill. These were the goals I rejected:

  • Walk the equivalent of a marathon every week
  • Do yoga every morning
  • Hit the activity goal set on my fitness tracker every single day
  • Do online French lessons at least three times a week (an hour each session)
  • Meditate every day
  • Read at least 30 books this year

Why did I reject them? They’re all too ambitious, they’re all linked somehow to the broader goal of self-improvement and they all carry with them an abundance of guilt should I fall short of the goal. And I would fall short of these goals. I believe that, when making resolutions and setting goals, we all beat ourselves up way too much when we don’t live up to our own expectations. We’re our own worst critics. I don’t want goals that are going to make me feel more on edge, rushed or frazzled. I want goals that make me feel happy, content and fulfilled. So, these are the ones I came up with:

  • Write something at least once a day (blog post, an entry on 100words.com, a letter to a friend, make progress on my second novel)
  • More often than not, when faced with a choice between healthy and unhealthy, choose healthy

That second goal covers the whole self-improvement/self-care spectrum. In restaurants or when eating at home, I’ll try my best to choose something with nutritional value over something easy or comforting, if easy and comforting are unhealthy. In the evening, I’ll either do something creative or active, rather than spending endless hours in front of the TV watching “Big Bang Theory” reruns on TBS. But it also means saying no when that’s what I truly want to do–no to invitations when I’d rather be at home reading or writing, no to changing plans to accommodate others, thereby inconveniencing myself. It also means speaking my mind, rather than keeping feelings bottled up, being myself and not trying to change who I am to impress others. It means being smart about money. The word “mindful” is overused, but it pretty well summarizes that second goal–I’ll think more about my words, actions and behavior and do the right thing, the healthy thing, the compassionate thing and the thing that will bring me contentment more often than the thing that brings momentary (and most often fleeting) satisfaction.

Happy New Year to you all. May you discover what makes you truly happy this year and have it in abundance.


Naknicromo day 21: Share your progress!

I’m sad to say that I don’t yet have a finished object to share. The knitting part is done on the Swirl, but now comes all the tedious weaving in of ends. I’ve already put more than three hours into this endeavor, and I don’t think I’m quite half way through. There are loads of ends.

File Mar 21, 4 31 41 PM

And that’s just one one cuff. As this is not my favorite part of a project, I’m really going to have to exercise some discipline to get this done. But now at least I can lay the entire piece out flat and get a better idea as to how it’s all going to come together once the seams are sewn up.

File Mar 21, 4 32 02 PM

I think it’s going to be a really striking piece. Hopefully the sizing will work. If it does, and I feel happy in my finished garment, I foresee more of these Swirl pieces in my future!


Naknicromo day 14: Share your progress!

What a day! My region is in the midst of an historic blizzard, which will result in 2 to 2 1/2 feet of snow being dumped on us by the time it winds down late tonight. This same storm brought coastal flooding and treacherous freezing rain and sleet to some areas south of me, and widespread power outages all up and down the east coast. Luckily, I’ve still got power, and more importantly, HEAT, as the temperature has not gotten any higher than the mid 20s (Fahrenheit). But unfortunately, as someone who works at home, this crazy weather does not translate into a proper snow day, so I’ve not had the luxury curling up on my couch with my knitting and Netflix. But this is truly my one complaint about having a work at home job. Except for the fact that I don’t get snow days, everything else about working at home is glorious.

My Swirl is coming along really well. It’s sprouted wings, and now I’m in the home stretch of doing the decreases to shape the front bodice. Only 40 more rows of decreases to do on a piece that started with 569 stitches and totals 305 rounds/rows. The tedious chore begins after the bind off, when I have to weave in all of those tails.

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Here’s a closeup of the colors used:

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The reverse stockinet sections alternate between three different variegated colorways of the Malabrigo Rios superwash merino. I love how the tamer earth tones are interspersed with pops of more vivid jewel tones and tranquil pastels. The stockinet sections use two of three variegated colorways and either two rows red/one row yellow or two rows yellow/one row red. I was going for a sort of “painted desert at sunset” color palette. Even though that’s a region I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, I had something like this photo from the travel blog www.gonewiththewynns.com in mind when choosing the colors:


Hopefully the next “Share your progress” update will include a fully finished Swirl!


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Naknicromo day 3: How did you learn your craft?

In the summer of 1999 I moved from New York City to Stuttgart, Germany. The opportunity arose from a casual conversation with one of my company’s executives about the weather. Learning that the conditions in Germany were stellar over the long Easter weekend, compared with the damp chill in New York City, this colleague commented that I might be better served working in the Stuttgart headquarters. A few months later I was making the move.

My time in Stuttgart had its up and downs – the downs being largely a feeling of isolation, as I only knew a handful of my colleagues and had no other connections in my new home. But I made a few very lovely friends, one of whom was a woman hired on in the office about 9 months or so after I’d arrived. Many days she’d bring her knitting to the office, and, as mentioned in an earlier post here, I’d first thought it sort of a quaint throw-back. But when I’d see her wearing the items she’d been working on weeks earlier, I became more impressed with the skill involved as well as with the idea of having a pastime that resulted in such beautiful garments. She graciously offered to teach me, gave me some leftover yarn from her projects and needles, and I got started on what turned out to be a very long, very colorful, uneven, kinda kooky scarf.

First Ever Scarf

It’s a great reminder of my early knitting days, and I still wear it with great pride.

Because I learned to knit from a German friend, I knit Continental style, which suits me wonderfully, as I’m left-handed. I like the control I have in holding the working yarn in my left hand. If I’d have learned the English/American method, I’m not sure I would have taken to it as readily.

After moving back to New York City in February 2001, I started frequenting the unfortunately now defunct shop, called The Yarn Tree, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. There, the wonderful proprietress, Linda LaBelle, taught a class that was also highly valuable to my evolution as a knitter. It was a sock and mitten class, which introduced me to the proper method of knitting in the round. I had been doing it completely backwards, knitting along the inside of the piece. When Linda pointed out my error, I was at first very defensive, but then quickly realized that I was no expert, and it’s best to heed the wisdom of the experts if I truly wanted to improve my skills. It was an important lesson from a very patient teacher, and I’m forever grateful to her for gently driving that lesson home. She still sells online at www.theyarntree.com and has done wonderful works in sharing her deep knowledge of fibers and dying with women in impoverished communities the world over, giving them a means to earn income they hadn’t had before.

And she showed me the light when it came to knitting in the round, and my first pair of socks and first pair of mittens turned out pretty darn good because of her.


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Naknicromo day 2: Inspiration

I think of inspiration in a couple of different ways. There’s inspiration for a specific project, and then there’s just the general inspiration to knit. For the former, I find the usual sources really helpful: Ravelry, Interweave Knits magazine, random Google searches, and my ever-growing library of knitting books.


But something I find even more important at times is simply the inspiration to keep/get back into knitting. This usually takes on particular significance in the early fall. After a summer of warm weather and little desire to hold heavy woolens on my lap as I work on them, the fall fiber events in my area help me regain my enthusiasm for new projects, and provide the real, tactile incentives to get me started.

In past years, the Hudson Valley Yarn Crawl was a fun way to take in not only some great fiber shops and farms in the area, but also the gorgeous landscape of the region I call home. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a yarn crawl in some time, and none seem to be scheduled for the upcoming spring or fall.

Though it takes place at what seems an odd time of year, the Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Showcase at the Clermont State Historic Site is a small festival that provides a welcome opportunity for hibernating Hudson Valleyites to get out of the house and sniff the first hints of spring.

Just as the summer’s heat is abating, I like to visit the Adirondack Wool & Arts Festival (formerly the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival) in Greenwich, NY. It takes place in late September and provides a more manageable foil to October’s New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Though the Greenwich fair doesn’t have nearly as many vendors as Rhinebeck, the smaller scale doesn’t draw such big crowds, which gives visitors ample opportunity to chat with the vendors, ask questions, get recommendations, and take their time perusing without the crush one experiences in Rhinebeck. Though I would never dream of missing Rhinebeck, the Greenwich fair was an instant favorite and one I’ll enjoy attending year after year.

Being at these festivals and seeing the wide variety of fibers and colors, checking out the sample knit pieces, matching the patterns offered by many vendors to the yarn, getting up close and personal with the animals – nothing else gets me more in the mood to have a pair of needles in my hands.



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Naknicromo daily challenge

Thanks to nothingbutknit for the challenge below.

Day 1: Share your goal

My goal is to finish both my Swirl sweater and Om Shawl (including weaving in all ends, seaming and the embellishment on the sweater, and sewing all the buttons on the shawl) and to have my vacation knitting planned for my trip in April. Ready … set … GO!

I happened on this challenge and thought it would be fun to give it a go for March. Day 1: Share your goal My goal for this month is to complete two of my Loopy Academy projects. I want to have them totally completed including blocking, photos on The Loopy Ewe site and all info […]

via Naknicromo: Day 1 — NothingButKnit