My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

josh waiting 1

Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

Cat Burglars and Staying up Late

I’ve been knitting most of the evening, watching old TV episodes on Netflix and finishing an elegant and subdued scarf for Josh. Then I’m making a bright orange wool cap for a friend who works outside on foggy winter mornings, plus something I’ll make out of this lovely Juniper Moon silk/merino blend. and then there’s the primary colored free-form shawl a few ideas for the next scarves and shawls.

Out of the corner of my eye I keep watch for the cat burglars. Ellsworth is the invisible neak thief, creeping in close, head low, with precise foot placement. Delicately, tenderly, he nudges the skein shifting it so he can get a sure grip with his mouth.  He clamps down, pulls back in slow mo, and then dashes for the hall …yard trailing behind him, catching on everything in its path.

Ellsworth can resist orange yarn. While for Smudge, I think the biggest attraction is proximity and a clear line of escape. He wants room to dash off to the other end of the house tearing loose locks of yarn and tangling, — indeed wrestling with it — and claiming it as prey.  Smudge is on the hunt.  Ellsworth is playing a sneak thief version –sealth is the purpose, my surprise the reward.

knitting = connecting threads

Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth or other fine crafts. Knitted fabric consists of consecutive rows of loops, called stitches. As each row progresses, a new loop is pulled through an existing loop. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them. This process eventually results in a final product, often a garment.”  (Wikipedia, 2012).

I’ve been knitting — a lot. For years I’ve knit with large needles and gorgeous, worsted to bulky yarns of all descriptions. I’ve made scarves, shawls, shrugs, hats galore, afghans, even leg warmers. I’ve felted handbags and coasters, christmas ornaments and hats.

What I’ve never done before is lace knitting. I’m on my third project, still a tender beginner at this but I realized a small but important connection beyond the magical interlocking of yarn: I’m finally knitting like my mother did.

I remember baby blankets and sacques, reindeer pullovers and fancy shawls, Barbie sweaters and even a delicate white angora shrug. All done in tiny exquisite stitches.  Even, meticulous and delightful to touch. I always thought it was just too slow and painstaking. I was a speed knitting. A hat in 2 hours, a scarf overnight. A baby blanket for next week’s shower — plenty of time!

This year suddenly I wanted to, not conquer, but join in with lace.

It started from the yarn (doesn’t it always start there?) I had fallen in love with the magnificent variety of fingering weight merino being hand- and kettle-dyed. There’s some seriously gorgeous yarn out there these days. I found myself buying smaller and smaller needles to do the fine yarns justice. First I blended with a strand of equally gorgeous mohair/silk blends (the pouf let me keep the needles larger). But they were too loose and didn’t have enough definition. So I stuck with hats of worsted weight merino and browsed endless lace patterns on Ravelry.

Now I’m addicted, and I see my mother’s hands as I knit.

Here are pictures of my first couple of projects. The purple shawlette, in Malabrigo sock 100% merino, was the first. The middle one is waiting to block and I’m not sure where it’s hiding. But number 3 is the lime green Malabrigo laceweight merino. I bought the yarn ages ago, couldn’t think why when I got the color home, but it’s exactly the weight I wanted to experiment with and it’s working up more beautifully than I expected.

The pattern is a travelling one, where each repeat springs out of the last, magically, I think. This is what made me see my mother’s hands. She loved this kind of lace knitting, vines, leaves, ferns, complex (way more than this) and graceful. She would have totally gone coo-coo over today’s luscious yarns with their saturated colors.

Hey Mom, socks are next!

Knitting Up a Storm

I’m going to a knitting group tonight that meets weekly at the my local yard store (in knitting lingo, LYS). We’re starting a project to knit hats (and scarves or mittens) for the local Occupy Asheville folks, who are camping out in front the Federal Building in Asheville — probably one of the coldest and windiest spots in our lovely city.

I love knitting for a cause — it may just be me trying to justify an obsession, er, hobby. But it makes it more special to me: giving the goods away, and at the same time making a statement about my beliefs.

As my mother might have said (if she’d thought of it), Knit up, or shut up.

Fiber Festival Rocks!

spinning wheelsI spent yesterday afternoon at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair — an annual event held at the “Ag Center” near Asheville Airport. Two floors of fiber and fleece, with spinning wheels, accessories, angora rabbits, and hundreds of maniacal fiber fans — just like me!  It was wonderful

Last year I came home with bags of dyed rovings for needle felting, but this year I am back to primarily cruising for yarn… and then more yarn. I was pretty moderate in my first foray yesterday, but when I make a return visit today (and maybe Sunday too) I’ll have a plan in mind for some of that gorgeous yarn and then I’ll bring it home to join the multitudes already stashed.

Knitters and their stashes are a well-known joke in crafting circles. “She who dies with the most yarn wins” is the ruling principle. There’s nothing more luscious than baskets filled with skeins and balls or yarn. From glitter and eyelash to lace-weight merino, to bulking woolen and kettle-dyed sock yarns — it’s all gorgeous! 

layout2_r1_c2There were interesting trends at the show this year. First, it has grown significantly over the years, with the llama, sheep, goats and alpacas spread out through several barns and the overflow of venders, along with the fleece show and sale, in a second sales building. The main arena is packed with vendors and class areas — spinning and felting are popular classes along with a plethora of knitting technique sessions. The array of classes from beginner sessions to master seminars on a single technique is impressive. Many were already marked “full” on Friday afternoon… but many are still available.

Admission for adults is only $3. Parking is ample. Wear comfy shoes!  It’s a feast for the senses and a revelation about the importance of fiber animals in our agricultural and cultural arenas.

Help Shine a Light on Small Business

SBO Profile – shinealight.ivillage.com

Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm is an awesome venture that I highlighted in a post last spring, about nontraditional business models.  They created the first fiber CSA and I am eagerly awaiting my yarn from the Spring 2009 shearing.  They are in the running for a great opportunity from American Express’s “Shine a Light” project. If you are interested in supporting this venture, please click on the link above and 1) register on the site, 2) “endorse” the story of Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm. 

It’s an easy way to support creative small businesses who are working hard and well.

Collecting

I can’t figure out what it is about collecting that leads many of us to such excess. My sister, the Amazing Mary, collects dolls — has maybe a thousand of them — from high end collectibles to little hand-sewn sock dolls and nearly everything in between. She was always into dolls. Always. My baby dolls were long ago lost in basement floods and clean-outs — hers now grace her dolls’ shelves mingling with later finds. My Barbie’s hair was blond — and the coiffure lasted only days before she was dragged by her hair into the Amazon jungles, into skydiving, shooting the rapids in the bathroom sink, and dozens of other adventures that left her looking like she had a few miles on her. Mary’s — while played with constantly — always kept her curly black bangs and smooth sides.

I held off on collecting things for a long time — mostly collected things one used — too much yarn, lots of fabric, every herb and spice I might ever need. I stayed away from gathering large numbers of the same or related objects in order to what — let’s be real here — in order to PLAY with them. Arrange and rearrange, categorize, compartmentalize, compare, and become attached to.

But these days I’m an unrepentant collector (okay, I do try to re-sell most of these things at a profit, but…) of pocketbooks, buttons, beads, a variety of glassware, coin banks, silk scarves, vintage rhinestone jewelry, stones and crystals, and I’m sure there are more things. Oh yes, bird-themes — note paper, statues, paintings, little neat things with birds.

What do we gain, internally, from this urge to brings like things together — and into our possession? Part of it is certainly the aesthetic experience — the colors and textures, shapes, lines, form and function. It’s BEAUTIFUL.  Some of it remains acquisitiveness. It’s MINE.  Others want it and value it. I outbid 8 people for this X — therefore I won the tangible prize of the object and the less tangible warmth of the win.

The solidness of an object comforts. Here’s something that takes space in your mind, and in your home. There’s a parallel in-out thing going on. A place where the reflection of self is somewhat accurate. A mirror of my tastes and desires, as well as my expertise and good judgment. Am I collecting only the best? Am I collecting some esoteric side line on a common theme? Am I getting great bargains because I KNOW more than you?

I’d love to know what others are thinking about why they collect — or don’t.