Draw & Stitch Together through Advent!

I marvel that it is holiday time once again. Somehow the seasons roll ’round more quickly and I know all too well how fast this wonderful season will fly by if I don’t take time to drink it in. I’m planning on stitching and drawing with the purpose of slowing myself down a bit, taking time to reflect on the season and make something slow and small.  I want to offer these to you as well.

The first is an Advent Shawl Crochet-a-Long. For any who like to crochet, this will be a simple crocheted piece made with a big hook and big yarn. Big stitches will allow you to take each one slowly because it won’t require much time to complete the directions for that week’s section of the Shawl. To read more specifics about this, and begin gathering your yarn, visit my blog A Knitter’s Grace and consider following there so that you can receive each weekly installment for the pattern.

For those of you who like to sketch, I’m offering drawing prompts for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. You can draw something related to the prompt or just do your own thing. Download the PDF here, print it off and tuck it in your sketchbook. I’ll be posting my sketches on Instagram, so follow there too. Better yet…post your own sketches and use the hashtag #adventdraw to share your daily drawings.

To encourage you in your sketching through Advent, I have a special reduced price on my Discover Your Life Beautiful, One Drawing At A Time ebook & video course! Instead of the full price of $45, you can purchase it for $25 from now through Christmas Day! It is my way of saying Thank You for your presence here, for making and drawing with me throughout the years! Just click here for my ETSY shop. No need for a special code or anything. The price has been changed for the duration of the Season! It’s an immediate download…so enjoy!

I do not say this often enough…but I am grateful for you, dear reader! I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings, and I hope to “see” you around the inter webs during Advent as we draw and stitch our way to a slower and more creative holiday.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

 

Dreamy Poncho Revisited

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Several years ago I designed this poncho from leftover yarns in my stash. It is one of my favorite things to wear when the temperatures turn cool and is often a conversation starter. Sometime last year I started a second one using all greens and have just recently finished it. While it is still too warm here to wear, it sits on Genevieve (my dress form) waiting for the day to be taken out for a twirl.

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It is  truly a dream to knit from beginning to end. I love to play with color and this gave me the opportunity to see what could be done with one color. I had no idea I had so many variations of green yarns! Even the variegated greens offered delightful pops of blues and other colors here and there to add a little spice. You are never bored with this knit! Every color and texture provides a new vista as you work the simple stitches.

I love wearing this both ways:

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As a poncho, with points down the front and back. (Please disregard the NON-matching skirt Genevieve is wearing!)

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Or as a cape (or wrap). The collar adds just enough drama to the simple construction and finishes it off nicely at the neck.

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For this version of the poncho/cape, I changed a few things. The original pattern was written with this in mind, so I didn’t have to make many changes at all to the pattern. I just added the new photos, and a few extra tips to make the knitting it up even simpler. Here’s what I did differently in this version than in the first one:

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The original version had only garter and stockinette stitching alternated back and forth or to suit the type of yarn used. This made for very quick knitting, especially since you are using size 11 needles.  But for this version I wanted to add a variety of stitch patterns, especially when I worked with the smoother yarns. So I randomly chose garter, seed, stockinette, basketweave, two-color rib and so on to add interest and texture in the body of the poncho.

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The original version had edges knitted in stockinette. This allowed the edges to roll and I do love rolled edges! But for this one, I decided to work the edges in garter stitch so that they would lay flat.

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The original version was laced up (one of my favorite features of this design!) using organza ribbon. This version has grosgrain ribbon for the laced up front. You could certainly use buttons or any other closure here, but I really like the added detail and color you can achieve with the laced up look.

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From now until the end of September, I’m offering this pattern for $1.00 off its regular price to those who purchase the pattern through my ETSY shop. If I knew how to offer a discount on  Ravelry I would certainly do it. But for those of you who see this offer here on my blog or via Instagram, you can use the code DREAMYKNIT to receive $1.00 off!

And I would LOVE to see a photo of your Dreamy Poncho once you’ve knitted it! I know of a couple of them that are in the making right now and I can’t wait to see their versions. I’ll share them with you when I receive their pic!

For now…may all your Knitterly Dreams come true!

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.

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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.

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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…

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…turning cart heels at soccer games…

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…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!

Sketch Journal Your Life in Yarn

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I have wanted to do this for a long time! Actually, I do it all the time, in separate journals, some for writing, some for drawing. But I have wanted them to be all in one sketchbook, instead of in and around all the other drawings I make on a daily basis.

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(Cover of newly begun SketchJournal for Yarn Projects)

Several months ago I attempted to designate one sketchbook for only drawings and writings about yarn projects, but then began adding in other sketches and drawings-landscapes, florals, home indoors, people and places I go. I’m determined to keep this sketchbook/journal reserved solely for drawings of my finished yarn works and write a bit around the drawings to describe each one.

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One of the things I love most about knitting is the story that gets knitted up into each piece. Things like: who is it for? why am I knitting/crocheting this? why are the specific colors chosen? Is there meaning in the stitch pattern, the color choices, the shape, the fiber, the overall piece being knitted?

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These are the things I want to preserve. Don’t you? Personally, I think every knitter should have a little book or binder somewhere to keep the patterns he/she has knitted, a bit of the actual yarn they used, any notes on how the pattern did or didn’t work, and best of all–a photograph or drawing of the finished item.

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This shawl, knitted as a commission for a friend, is a variation on Paula Emmons Fuessle’s Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl. I love this pattern!!! This is my third of these shawls and I’m collecting sock yarns for another. This is quite possibly a fool-proof pattern!! No matter what leftover sock yarns (or other gauge yarns!) you have, somehow they always look super mixed and matched in one of these simple shawls.

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There’s really nothing difficult about it at all! It’s just the unbelievable amount of stitches you have by the time you get to the ruffle! But by then, you are so excited about all the color in your hands, you just keep going, high on color!!

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The final thing I want to do for this journal page is include some pieces of a few of the yarns used in it. Some of the yarns were leftovers of my socks and I used it all up. But I do have some left of the Zauberball yarn (used as the main base of colors, with the other leftovers mixed in here and there). I also have some of the shimmery yarns leftover, so I can add that on the page as well. I might punch two small holes and then thread the yarns through, tying them together. We shall see.

I’ll share more of these pages with you as I go along. There are several recently finished projects I want to add into my sketch journal…

Can’t wait!!

P.S. If you try this, PLEASE send me a pic or a leave a comment here to let me know if you are giving it a go! You can make it as simple or elaborate as you like! Just keep it fun!!

P.P.S. Did you get the word about my new FREE Knitterly Arts Newsletter?? My goal is to send it monthly (possibly more often:) to inspire you in your fiber journey…

Click Here to subscribe!

The Invisible Thread

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Just a few days prior to this last surgery in December, I re-read The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. I did not realize the significance it would have until several days ago.

I won’t describe the story in detail here. You would do well to read it yourself and will enjoy doing so! The main bit is that the young princess in the story is given a beautiful ring by her Grandmother. Attached to this ring is a near invisible thread that the Grandmother has been spinning from spider webs. The Princess is to wear the ring on her finger at all times and follow where the thread leads without question. This thread is unseen by all except the Princess. And even to her, it is often invisible to her eye, unless a certain light shines on it.  Only by feel can she know it is there.

The invisible thread leads her into some dangerous situations and places where she would normally not go. But it also, always, leads her out and back to safety, back to her Grandmother who will soothe and heal her wounds.

As I walked in our neighborhood, trying to sort out the last two years of health issues, I stopped as I thought of MacDonald’s book.

And my shoulders relaxed.

There it is. Yes, there is growth afoot. Yes, it is in darkness that our roots grow. And yes, the only way to move forward is one small step at at time. But the invisible yet shimmery thread is always there, if we will trust it.

The Invisible Thread may lead us into difficult places. But it will always, always lead us home. Back to the One who will soothe and heal our wounds.

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I am currently knitting a commissioned shawl for a friend. I have chosen to add some rows here and there that have a shimmery thread. As I knit it into her shawl, I know she will love having this as a reminder of the Invisible Thread in her life…wrapped around her…going with her…wherever she goes , and whatever happens to her in life.

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“If we will but let our God and Father work His will with us, there can be no limit to His enlargement of our existence”
― George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, III

“Come, then, affliction, if my Father wills, and be my frowning friend. A friend that frowns is better than a smiling enemy. ”
― George MacDonald

“Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.”
― George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

It is amazing what you hear when you really listen.

Three Loves

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In writing, I am led.

In drawing, I am drawn to my life.

In knitting, I am assured that all will be knitted into a beautiful whole.

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Three things I love. Three things I seem to need desperately:

*to feel led; like a child who is led by her Father’s hand. Writing is one of the most powerful ways I experience this leading.

*to be drawn to my life, the everyday of it, the fantastic and the flimsy. Drawing my life opens my eyes to see the amazing life I’ve been given.

*to be assured and comforted that nothing that happens to me and my family is random or senseless. That all will be worked into a beautiful tapestry one day.

I am grateful for these three things.

What are you grateful for today?

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P.S. I am purposing to post more here on KnitterlyArts because that is where my heart is drawn these days. Those of you who follow me there may or may not follow my Drawn2Life blog and therefore may not know that every Friday morning I draw downtown in my small town of Kernersville, NC. During the cold months, when we can’t be outside at the Gardens or other downtown haunts, we draw at Eclection, a marvelous artisan spot. Yesterday, my daughter joined Debbie and I. So while she knit her Hitchhiker Shawl with AndreSueKnits hand-dyed yarn, we drew her.

<sigh>

Gray Winter Days…

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We’ve been having a lot of these. So gray and cold that even trying to get a decent photo of artwork is quite difficult. This was the best I could do today. I’ll reshoot it another day soon!

But as I was walking yesterday, I kept thinking this:

Gray winter days are best enjoyed with COLOR in your hands.

‘Tis true, n’est-ce pas?

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I’ve had some “delight”ful color running through my hands lately and it has made me so happy, nearly forgetting the gray skies outside my window.

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Socks!

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My colorful, Crochet2Heal, blanket which I have renamed and will have a proper reveal very soon as I am only three colors away from being finished!

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And my Hitchhiker Shawl. Which I took out on the back deck to knit on one of the very few sunny days we had recently! It was glorious to knit in the sunshine and see the gorgeous colors of AndreSueKnits hand-dyed yarn.

I hope you also have some delicious color in your hands these days!

Artful Friends

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I am blessed with quite a few artful friends with whom I enjoy getting together to draw or paint, knit or crochet. The above sketch is of myself and a friend who is also named Jennifer. We both love multiple expressions of creativity, including knitting. Hence the shawls we both had knitted and wore to the movies to see the awesome Hundred Foot Journey. (That is a must-see movie!)  And although the sketch does not show a likeness to us at all, I liked having a drawn remembrance of a very fun day out and about in our knitwear. (In case you’re curious, Jennifer’s shawl is one-of-a-kind, her own creation! Mine is actually my Origami Shrug, the pattern for which you can find here. I think both of our shawls were knitted out of cottons, perfect for highly air-conditioned movie theaters in summer.)

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This drawing is of my friend Debbie with whom I draw on a regular basis. Here she is ensconced in the beautiful surroundings at our Ciener Botanical Gardens, where we like to draw and paint almost weekly. In fact, we were there this morning, my first time back drawing at the Gardens since my surgery. Often, all three of us, Jennifer, Debbie and I are there drawing the lovely flora and fauna. And all three of us enjoy being in the same gallery together here in Kernersville!

I have several other friends with whom I get together to make stuff or just to “talk shop”. As artists, we are always in need of encouraging one another to keep growing and stretching, fighting back fear, trying new things, being the creative people we know we are but need encouragement to be every now and then. Teresa and Stacey are two dears with whom I love getting together for just such encouragement. Though they live a few towns away, they are always in my mind and heart as I continue to walk this path of wife, mother, and artist.

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Next week I will once again be able to enjoy some knitter friends of mine in a knitting group setting! I am so excited about this!! I used to teach each of them years ago and our friendships have endured for five years or so even though I wasn’t teaching knitting. The above sketch from a few years back includes two of the dears (again, likeness is amiss) I will see next week when we begin to get together again to make things out of yarn. I could not be happier!!

If you’re a creative person, it is good to seek out friends with whom to share your love of making things. Whether you love making sketches and drawings, paintings, knitted or crocheted items, pottery, mosaics, poetry, WHATEVER,  you will love having a buddy or two to share in the fun. You learn so much from each other, and you benefit from mutual encouragement to keep on being artful in all you do.

Online creative friends are wonderful too! I so enjoy being here in blogland, sharing what I do and meeting you! I appreciate all of you who visit, whether you comment or not. But especially those who comment…I feel we are kindred spirits, together on this journey of living artfully and creating beauty in our daily lives.

Thank you, to ALL of you, artful friends near and far, virtual and local. Together we will keep the creative fires burning! 🙂

This & That

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Here are a few things that might tickle your fancy, as they have mine!

I have been so surprised and grateful for the response to my latest shawl pattern, Stripes & Ribbons! I’m very excited that so many folks want to knit this shawl! And I can’t wait to see their versions of it!

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I got this cute dress from our local Goodwill and did a little embellishing on one of the pockets.

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The straps had these heavy, ugly silver things I didn’t like, so I added a couple of fun buttons.

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I write (and sketch) daily in a cheap composition book that I like to cover when I begin a new one. This awesome card was given to me by a friend. It reads:

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” Card is by Vintage Girl Designs.

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I had been creating these crochet motifs (some I made up and some are out of a pattern book) in order to make a capelet. But shifted gears mid-stream and am now assembling them in a freeform crochet vest. It has been a while since I’ve done freeform crochet and oh what fun it is! Any stitch, any yarn, every-which-a-way!

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I also have a second sock on the needles and I’m in that lovely beginning stage of a couple of knitted projects. This is where I’m choosing just the yarns, just the right stitches with just the right pattern (my own or someone else’s?) I love the “possibility stage” of yarn projects!

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And THIS, my friends, is NOT my work. THIS amazing quilt is my oldest daughter’s FIRST quilt ever! She saw the pattern in a recent issue of the American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. She began work on it over her Christmas break. Then when she came home from college this summer, she has worked very hard to complete it. She now has the top all sewn together and it is stunning! She plans on having a professional machine quilter to do the top stitching. My daughter Catherine is incredibly talented in many different ways. She has started her own blog this summer and it’s a beauty!

Here’s hoping you have a creative day today!