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Crazy for Ewe

Yarn - it doesn't just grow on trees

Yarn - it doesn't just grow on trees

We had an awesome retreat in Staunton. What a great town!  Beautiful hotel, lovely little shops along the downtown streets, and plenty of wonderful restaurants nestled in the foothills of Virginia's Allegheny mountains make it worth the three-hour drive. A friend I haven't seen in more than 15 years lives in Staunton, so we caught up over lunch in a bakery so decadent I visited it every single day we were there.  On top of all that, I had the pleasure of spending an entire weekend with 22 fantastic women and 2 amazing men who all love knitting (or a knitter).

The centerpiece of this particular retreat was a visit to Francis Chester's Cestari Farms, a small operation that produces lovely yarns of wool, cotton, and linen yarns for hand-knitting and weaving. This is a labor of love, and it shows. Francis' face lights up when talks about his sheep, his yarns, and the struggles his 

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It's okay to make a mess. You're an artist

It's okay to make a mess.  You're an artist

Last month I had the pleasire of visiting Glenstone, an unusual contemporary art museum.  The buildings themselves are stark and modern with huge glass panels that remove the distinction between indoors and out.  Multiple galleries showcase a stunning collection of works that represent significant transitional shifts in modern art. There are those with whom I was familiar, like Alex Calder, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol, but I am not well-versed in modern art, so most were new to me. I was particularly drawn to these lovely objects by Ruth Asawa in the photo

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There is no right path, only your path

There is no right path, only your path
Melissa, one of my favorite people, was in the shop on Saturday. She brought with her batch of the most amazing chocolate chip cookies ever-in-the-history-of-the-universe, fresh from the oven. Still warm. But I digress. Anyhow, something came up about German, and she said that after washing out of Chemical Engineering in college, she had majored in German. I too, had washed out of chemical engineering in college and majored in English. In all  Continue reading

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome
I had a rough start with my Koto.  I consider myself a good knitter, but this pattern is challenging me.  Nothing in it is too hard.  Not a complicated stitch pattern.  Shadow wrap short rows, which I know how to do.  The problem was in my understanding.  This is a very talented designer with a focus on details that make for a clean, professional-looking garment.  But for some reason the way she explained things, and the way I understood things did not match up.  It wasn't until nearly a skein and a Continue reading

You are always welcome here

Over the years we've has lots of people in the shop wanting to learn to knit. Some of them are actually beginners, but most are not, and the conversation usually starts with something like, "Well, I know how to knit, but I'm doing it all wrong. I want to learn the right way. The right way. In my universe, there is no right way to knit. And, the converse is also true: there is no wrong way to knit.  Some people hold their yarn in left hand, others in their right.   Picking, throwing, left-hand,.right-handed, whatever, it's all good. Continue reading

How I felt that day

How I felt that day

I got a call from my husband Saturday while I was at the shop.  I don't typically take calls while I'm teaching, but he doesn't typically call me while I'm teaching, so I knew something was up.

Me:        Hey, what's up?

Bill:         Um, I was putting the clothes in the dryer and there's something that doesn't look like it ought to go in the dryer.

Me:        What is it?

Bill:         I dunno.  It's a sweater-like thing.  It's white.

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Knitting math

Knitting math

There's a certain amount of math in knitting.  So much so that teachers have used knitting to improve math skills and make the concepts tangible. It's not hard math. While a modicum of algebra is helpful for changing gauge, knitting math is mostly what you learned in elementary school: addition and subtraction, multiplication and division.

But there is another kind of math familiar to all knitters.  This is the math by which we can justify $32 for a skeins of beautiful, soft, hand-dyed merino to make a pair of socks when our neighbor points out that we can buy a perfectly good pair at Target for $8.  We have no problem buying yarn that costs twice what a baby blanket costs in order to knit the baby blanket ourselves.  To our non-knitting friends, family, and partners, this math is totally illogical and completely irrational. 

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Three days in the wilderness

Three days in the wilderness
I have been listening to an article by Florence Williams called the Three Day Effect.  In it she suggests that three days outside enjoying nature can radically change your mindset and your brain.  To study the idea, she joins an excursion to a riverside wilderness in Utah, Her guide is charismatic veteran who leads a group of other vets on these camping, hiking, canoeing adventures to help them with PTSD and other after effects of war.  He believes strongly in the power of nature to soothe and heal, which sounds pretty good to Williams, as she herself is struggling with the Continue reading

It always seems impossible, until it's done

It always seems impossible, until it's done

Last week I had just cast on the front of a Triton sweater in dk weight yarn.   Tubular cast on, size 4 needles, 6 rows done -- a fairly time consuming effort, without much to show for it.  My husband saw it sitting on the table at breakfast.  "Pretty yarn, he said, what's it going to be?" 

"A sweater," I answered.

He sort of chuckled and said, "I guess you have to start somewhere."

Yup.  We do. We have to start somewhere.  My husband knows I can and will

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The price of perfection

The price of perfection
I talk a lot about how nice it is that we can go back and fix our knitting.  It's awesome that we can rip back as many times as we like, but there is a cost.  Depending on the nature of the yarn, how we knit, and how we rip there is wear and a certain amount of structural damage to the fiber.  You'll see it right away on fuzzy fabrics like mohair, and you'll see it plenty soon on softly spun fibers.  So, it's important to know whether the mistake you're going back to fix is worth going back and fixing.  If it's a glaring error that will prevent you from wearing the item, absolutely fix it.  Something that will impact the long term integrity of the fabric like a split stitch, by all means, fix it.  But if it's a little something that maybe only you can see -- probably better to just leave it, learn from it, and move on.   Continue reading
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