Knature & Knitting

DelGradoCozy

I often stand in a place of beauty and I see it in fibers. Wools, cottons, silks, acrylics pop out of the landscape or garden I’m viewing. Colors and textures get translated into yarns. And when I go to my favorite LYS I see them: the bright colors of cocks comb and cosmos, the lovely hues of hollyhock and lily, the golden wheat of Mr. Whicker’s field, the rich tones of our plum tree.

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But this time, it worked the other way ’round. I picked two balls of a cotton tape yarn purely because of the lime greens morphing into every shade on its way to black and back again. I knew it would make for another wonderful Shoulder Cozy. I had knitted one with Rowan Bamboo Tape (shown below) and loved it in the hot weather. This one would be perfect for early fall here, when days are bit cooler.

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And then, on my walk one day. I saw my finished black/green Shoulder Cozy lying underneath a mailbox in our neighborhood! What? Oh! A beautiful leafy plant growing all around the base of it in the exact colors of the Lang Sol Degrade yarn I had used to knit it. Lovely.

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A pleasure from cast-on to bind-off and even in adding a touch of crochet to finish off the top and bottom edges. Not too fussy. Just right. I’ve already worn it a few times, but now it hangs at the shop, hopefully enticing folks to sign up for my class on all the many ways you can knit this Shoulder Cozy!! And hopefully to entice them to pick up some yarn to make one while they are there!

ShoulderCozyDelGrade

I’m already pulling the yarns from my stash for the next one. I love this pattern for its simplicity and versatility. It can be worn as the capelet shown here or as a cowl for warmth and a touch of color around your neck. Mindful knitting at its best! No charts to follow or complicated stitch patterns (although you could certainly add a few stitch patterns here and there if you wanted to!). Just knit and enjoy the colors and textures flowing through your hands.

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<sigh>

Pssst…September Newsletter is out!

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Here’s a peek at something you’ll see and read about in this month’s Newsletter!

You can get it here

But why not go ahead and sign up for it to come to you each month for FREE in your email-box!

Lots of inspiration for your knitterly pursuits as well as the classes I’m offering this month.

I hope you have a knitterly day!

-Jennifer

Knitting Up the Un-Ravelled Sleave…

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After last week’s move of three kids into their new “homes”, I’ve needed this week to mend.  Oldest daughter is now happily situated at Wingate University for her final year. Middle son is LOVING his first days as a freshman at East Carolina University. And youngest is enjoying her new “big kid” room she moved into across the hall.  My hands seemed to need soft cozy fibers as much as I could possibly give them this week. With every knitted stitch and crocheted loop, it felt as if the very fibers of  my being were being knitted back together; the unravelled, frayed ends woven in and smoothed out. Even the enormous task of weaving in the ends on a recently finished project (pictured above and below) was soothing and enjoyable.

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Shakespeare wrote: “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care…” Although he speaks of “sleep” as the agent of healing here, his choice of words intimate that knitting has that quality of mending what care often frays. All too often my life feels like the first picture. It’s good to know that is only ONE side of the matter. There IS another side…one with beauty, order, structure and functionality. Actually, I see beauty in the underside too, even with all the ends hanging loose!

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*I finished this updated version of my design/pattern called Dreamy Poncho! Oh how I wish it would get cool enough to wear this thing! So many greens that are truly yummy!

*The painting behind me seems to go with the Poncho so well!! It is of the field at the top of our neighborhood. I painted it a few years ago when the morning glory’s were in bloom. I noticed several days ago on my walk that they are blooming now. I love the seasons, the change in colors, the varying greens in the landscape as well as in fibers.

Turning Fifty

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I know, I know. It’s just a number. yet for some reason this number has been looming in my mind for a year now. Probably longer. The thought of turning a half century old has discombobulated me in such a manner I can only describe with the phrase (so telling of my age and generation): it has wigged me out.

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And still is…if I think about it too much.  Now that the actual day is within the week, I’m surrendering and fortifying myself for the event. I will likely sail right through this week without so much as a hiccup. Several changes have been made as I approach this mark. More are yet to be pursued. Certain practices are becoming even more crucial to working out the decades, both behind and before me. These same practices are teaching me an even greater awareness of and desire for dwelling in the present moment, for leaving the past behind and ceasing the future tripping I so easily fall into.

Liesl&Tea

In a broad sense, I know what the next decade will bring. Children, all three of them, going off to college, graduating, getting married, possibly having children. The thought of myself as a gra…gran…(I cannot type it!) is simply mind-blowing. The decade ahead could also be fraught with more illness for myself and other loved ones, the ache of parents aging, and more dental work. That last one is definitely frightening. Ha!

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I have never faced a decade where I could see such changes, hardships and challenges on the horizon. If I dwell there for long, it takes my breath away quite literally and I have to sit down, breathe, and remember the present…Here is where I am. Here, now, healthy, whole, loved ones all here, sun is shining, all is well. Even on days when the sun is not shining, all is well if I camp out in the present moment. I can breathe. No matter what the next decade holds I’ll be able to breathe if I just remain in  the nowscape of each moment. Prayer, mindfulness, are crucial tools for facing my sixth decade.

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So are drawing and knitting. More than ever before, I find these two endeavors life-giving, healing, enabling me to be fully engaged in whatever circumstance I find myself. I look forward to future drawings and paintings as well as more knitting adventures. I am thrilled to be teaching knitting and crochet classes! I get so excited about meeting new people in and through these classes, offering them the tools to knit that same healing into their lives as I have enjoyed in mine.

With knitting needles in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, I’m ready for the next ten years!

Bring it on!

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Notes on the above photos:

1. Tea and knitting seem to go together, even at the beach! Recent sock knitting has me working with sun colors, neon bright…love it!

2. A friend posted on Instagram a pic of his bicycle in a field of poppies. I asked if I could paint it. This is where I’d like to be. Right now.

3. My birthday tunic is now finished. It is Liesl by Julie Weisenberger. Can’t wait to wear it and share the finished garment with you!

4. I’ve recently been doing a lot of line-only drawings. No watercolor added. Just lines. Continuous. Free-flowing. Caressing the beautiful life I live.

5. I’m enjoying drawing at a farm right across the street from our home. This is not Mr. Whicker’s Farm, as many of you have seen my drawings and paintings over the years. This is a working farm where the Smith family raises goats, chickens, Llamas, and horses. Maddie takes horseback riding lessons here. I draw while she rides. I love drawcumenting my days.

A Lesson in DPNS

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She held what felt like chaos in her hands. Yet to my eye, her teacher, it looked like she had been knitting with double pointed needles for years. She deftly worked the four wooden needles, three to hold the stitches, one to knit across from point to point.

“This is a bit overwhelming, keeping up with all of this. Where to go next, so much going on, I’m afraid I’ll lose some stitches.”

“Just focus on the two needles you are knitting with,” I said. “Let the rest of it just dangle there, trusting the wooden sticks to hold the stitches. When you knit to the end of a needle, just begin with the next one. It will all work out in the end.”

It occurred to me afresh, as I guided her through the puzzle of DPN knitting, what a picture of life this endeavor portrays. Surely our life feels like chaos in our hands. The multiplicity of roles and responsibilities can feel overwhelming and confusing. There are so many things going on, we don’t know where to go next and we’re afraid we might lose something along the way.

It helps so much, in any given moment, to just focus on what’s right in front of me. If I look around at the chaotic landscape, focus is blurred, I start to come unstitched, dropping stitches here and there.

As we spoke of this lesson in DPNS, we marveled at its truth. Who knew that a quartet of double pointed needles could guide us in life as well as produce a pair of socks?

New Knitted Shawl Design*

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Pas de Deux Shawl

designed by Jennifer Edwards

available for purchase on ETSY

Designing and knitting a shawl mirrors life in uncanny ways. You begin with an idea, sketched out, roughly drawn and planned. Knitting begins, slowly working out stitch counts, rows, frogging stitches (and rows!) until it takes the shape you were aiming for.

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Then you knit. Just knit. And knit…working the parts where you can nearly knit on auto-pilot. Stockinette, some garter stitch, a wee bit of counting.

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And then you hit the edge. Ahhh…the edge…that part of utmost importance to the overall look of the shawl, but one which requires your utmost attention. Lots and lots of stitches to work with. As a designer, I want this part to really sing! My original idea for the edging was slightly different. The knitting itself began to “speak to me” changes in my initial plan. So I went with it, and I’m so glad I did.

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I find all this reflected in each day, week, month, and year. So many designs (plans), small and large, that begin with a flurry of planning and excitement then giving way to the everyday living out the established design. Somewhere along the way, either subtly or not-so-subtly, we are redirected. Following where our intuition takes us will often yield a more beautiful outcome. It all sounds so neat and tidy. But we, the knitters, know all the linked stitches, the frogged passages, the weaving of ends, and the blocking. This is the “everyday” stuff of life, the more monotonous parts of being entranced by beauty.

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The title of this shawl came to me as I thought of how the two colors danced together in a way similar to the ballet between two people, each taking the stage separately and then coming together for a final, beautiful adagio.

PasdeDeuxFront

I also like how this shawl stays on your shoulders. Instead of a straight edged triangle, this shawl continues around your neck in a semi-circle fashion while still laying flat down the back. I hope you can see this in the photos.

Tea&Shawl

I also hope you will knit this shawl! I knitted mine with Saucon Sock, in color “Carnation”, which has a lot of cotton in it, perfect for spring and summer. The second yarn is Louisa Harding Yarns, Noema. But I can’t wait to knit it in a wool for fall and winter. If you give it a go, I’d love to see your final shawl!:)

Thank you to everyone who purchases one of my patterns!! I write into each pattern a lot of extra helps and tips along the way to help you be successful in your knit and/or crochet adventure!

Happy Knitting!

-Jennifer

Pointier Points & Other Weighty Matters

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I mean, who really cares about whether the points on a knitted washcloth are pointier than previously knitted? I certainly don’t care one way or the other…but therein lies the fun of it all!

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So, I finally finished my Hitchhiker Shawl, and oh what a nail-biting finish that was! Only about 2 1/2 inches of yarn left on the bind off! Just barely enough to weave in. But that’s all I needed! 🙂

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At the same time, I had been merrily knitting washcloths  my latest obsession, and the thought occurred to me that I could, quite possibly, make the points on my washcloths just as pointy as the points on the Hitchhiker.

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Eureka! It worked! Using the clever little Kfb, turn, purl one, knit one, pass the purled stitch over, worked like a charm to add a bit of pointless pointiness  to the Almost Lost Washcloth. ‘Tis fun, no?

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Other oddments I’ve enjoyed immensely of late are finishing socks…

SoccerfieldSocks

…turning cart heels at soccer games…

ToeExcitement

…the thrill of toe knitting (not to be confused with knitting with your toes)…

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…drinking tea and eating a cupcake in a new way whilst finishing the knitting of a shawl design (typing up pattern for offering on Etsy soon!)…

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…starting a crocheted circular vest…

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…and finishing it in a few days time…

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…and working on a sweet little project I’ll tell you more about soon!

Pointless Pointiness and all manner of frivolity is very sustaining and enriching to one’s life!

I hope you have a bit of frivolity in your day today!

Slowing Time

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“Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. When I’m looking for the glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows…

…It’s this sleuthing for the glory that slows a life. In this space of time and sphere, I am attentive, aware, accepting the whole of the moment, weighing it down with me all here.

Full attention fills the empty ache.”

-Ann Voskamp

LimeSocks&Cloths

This is one of the many reasons why I knit and draw…to enter time’s swift current…to enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention. To really see and listen and allow the glory of that moment to transform me, to slow down the advancing days and minutes. The mad dash to the end of a school year…the march to a senior boy’s graduation from high school…last moments and beginning ones too.

Slow.

A drop of paint here. A stitch of cotton or wool there.

Attention to it all.

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The above drawing was made this morning at our Ciener Botanical Gardens. Watercolor and a fine liner pen in my watercolor paper Moleskine.

Recently finished pair of socks and my latest craze, The Almost Lost Washcloth.

May Knitterly Arts Newsletter!

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My Knitterly Arts Newsletter for the month of May is now out and about!

Be sure to subscribe to receive it every month FREE in your email box.

Wishing you an artful day!

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Jennifer

Which is It?

CatieKnitsEclection

I was asked this on a couple of occasions during the Eclection Art Show on Saturday. “So which is it you love the most? Drawing? or Knitting?” That has not been an easy thing to answer for many years. My own agony over which takes precedence over the other has been excruciating at times. Recently though, I’m finding some peace in a new way of thinking about it.

Late yesterday afternoon the door bell rang. I was in the throws of the final pages of Sarah Addison Allen’s book, The Sugar Queen. I got up and opened the door to no one. An Amazon package was sitting there on my front stoop. I picked it up, saw that it had my name on it. But knowing that I had not ordered anything, I took it to my husband and said it must be for him.

LimeSocks&Cloths

It turned out it was indeed for me, a gift from my dear dad. I knew this book was special since I had been reading about one of the main characters in Allen’s book for whom books just show up at just the right time. Chloe finds specific books on her kitchen counter, her bedroom floor, they follow her to work, etc. They are meant for her, to help her, encourage her right where she needs it. The book my dad sent to me is Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.

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Let’s back up a bit, to the book I had just finished reading the day before devouring Allen’s book. I had been savoring Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You ‘re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are . Of the many, many wonderful things in this book, there was a section where she talked of another author (how many books will there be?) Marci Alboher, an author/speaker/coach who wrote: One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. Brown writes, “Alboher interviewed hundreds of people pursuing multiple careers simultaneously and discovered how slash careers–researcher/storyteller, artist/real estate agent–integrate and fully express the multiple passions, talents, and interests that a single career cannot accommodate. Marci’s book is full of stories about people who have created meaningful work by refusing to be defined by a single career. “

So which is it?

All of it.

Artist/Knitter/Mother/Teacher

I like that. I could actually add a couple more slashes there. “Writer” comes to mind, though I am hesitant to call myself one. Seems too lofty. But I do a lot of it. And even more lately as I’ve been ruminating and mulling over many creative connections that are banging around in my head. It’s really the only way I can deal with all the thoughts in there…write them down. That way they reside somewhere other than in my head. Writing them down helps to sort them out and to make sense of the varying, sometimes disparate parts, integrating them and in-so-doing, giving me a sense of wholeness too.

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Which now brings me to the book that landed on my doorstep yesterday. I’ve been writing in my journal a lot lately about creative practices. A practice is something in one’s life he or she does on a regular basis that is not necessarily tied to a job, but is integral to one’s life and vocation. Many people have a practice of doing yoga or jogging, a practice of meditation or prayer. This is exactly what Twyla Tharp’s book is about…developing A Creative Habit, or ritual(s) in one’s life that nurtures and sustains. I am reading with relish this book that has so obviously come into my life at just the right time. Thanks Dad!

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I am not blogging  these days as often as I have in the past. There are many reasons for this, but the main one being that life is so very full right now. With life being full and my head being full (of thoughts), I need my creative habits all the more. I sketch and draw to drop into my busy life and really feel it, experience it, instead of just letting it pass me by. I knit to slow down, to find creative moments in the in-betweens of life–at soccer practices and on road-trips to Wingate, etc. I walk each day in and around my neighborhood, a life-long practice (habit) that is crucial to my health and well-being as a human being AND as a creative person. And, of course, I told you about writing… a rich, daily habit I’ve had for decades.

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And you? Which is it for you? What slash title would you give yourself? What habits do you have that sustain you? I’m planning on delving more into this whole topic in the future. Slowly. Bit by bit. As I have time, energy, and ability. In the meantime, I will keep drawing/knitting/writing/walking/praying/meditating/reading as “practices” or “habits” to sustain me. I hope you will too!

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Notes on some of the photos and drawings above:

The first drawing is of my oldest daughter when she visited and came with me to draw at Eclection. It is perhaps one of my favorite drawings of late as it combines several of my slash titles…mother/artist/knitter.

A pair of socks I finished knitting recently and a couple of washcloths. These are my go-to projects of late…perfect for taking with me everywhere.

Last week I followed an inner prompting to “go to the Gardens” even though I had a to-do list a mile long. I was delighted to discover a brand new section that has been opened at our Ciener Botanical Gardens!!

The completed drawing/painting of this new Garden section.

Our cat Lucy is often near me when I knit. If she isn’t in my lap, she is behind my head stretched out on the top of the chair, purring as I knit.:)

The latest pair of socks on the needles…delighting in every stitch, every color, every pattern. <Sigh>