The Thanks That Made Me Cry

Whew! The week before this past week was wild and wooly – SO much happening that I could have posted a good entry twice a day if I’d had time to breathe… and this week has been all about trying to do some catching up. Woke up Monday in an odd sort of mood, and the entire week has been very productive for me. Actually, I’ve invented a new game for myself, and since it’s still working, I’m hanging onto it. I pulled out my slightly dusty chore box and one die.

Chore box

Rules are roll the die, count back the number of cards matching the roll, and do the job without grumbling. Extra large jobs (like finishing the sewing room) require 15 minutes of concerted effort. I also have cards for reading, knitting, spinning, etc., which means every so often I get a very nice surprise. :o) Among other things, this week has seen me writing my last Christmas thank you note and sending two goody packages to friends – stuff that was meant to go out last year sometime! Feels really great to have the weight of so many old tasks off my shoulders and to see so many other things progressing after languishing for such a long time, and the approach is great for an ADD brain. But this wasn’t what I set off to post today, so I guess I better get back to the topic intended…

My wild and wooly week was actually 8-9 days long, and most of what happened was good stuff – enough to last me for months instead of days! I’m just going to share the first thing tonight so this doesn’t take me two hours to write. Besides, it was so special to me that it deserves its own post.

Remember the Cyber Fiber Retreat I mentioned a while back? Well, unbeknownst to me, the fun wasn’t entirely over. I received a mysterious package in the mail two Saturdays ago, return address being that of one of the participants. What was inside absolutely knocked my socks off! The retreaters got together off group and gathered up the most incredible bundle of fiber for me as a thank you surprise… I was doing the guppy thing – totally speechless! I’ve done a lot of stuff like this retreat – organized activities online and off, taught classes gratis for years, given away patterns and designs, and in all that time I’ve learned that a few people will remember to say thanks, and once in a great while, someone goes so far as to drop a handwritten note in the mail. This fantastic bunch of gals, none of whom I’ve ever met in person or even spoken with on the phone, went all out go put together a gift that reduced me to tears! My most “intangible” friends gave me the most tangible thank you I’ve ever received.  It looked like someone had secretly followed me around at a fiberfest and bought everything I fondled! Even more incredible to me is that I now own the world’s coolest knitting bag. :o) What’s so fantastic about it? Well, it was custom made just for me! It has the names of all the women at the retreat embroidered on the back of it, and when I sit with it beside me while knitting, I feel like they are all close by. I love it!

Cyber Fiber Gifts 002

And check out Granny on the front; is she something or what?

Cyber Fiber Gifts 004

Besides my wonderful bag, the contents of my box included:

  • a big ball of targhee/mohair roving from one of the retreaters’ flock
  • a ball of Tofutsies sock yarn in a lively green print – too fun!
  • a skein of Heritage HandPaint Oxford 2 Sock Yarn in the Wood Violets colorway – and wild violets are one of my very favorite flowers
  • a generously fat skein of hand painted sock yarn in wonderfully earthy shades from Wendy, the Yarn Fairy
  • a ball of sock yarn suspected to be from Interlacements in delicious peacock shades
  • a cone of Colourmart’s always marvelous cashmere laceweight yarn in caramel
  • a skein of DyeForMe baby alpaca lace yarn so the next time I’m dying to dye, I won’t have to sacrifice Kidsilk Haze
  • 2 ounces of tussah silk roving, handpainted in luscious shades of pink, purple, and blue
  • a sweet little nosegay which will be wonderful adorning a shelf in my new sewing room
  • and all sorts of sweet cards and notes of appreciation

Cyber Fiber Gifts 007

Now, do I have a great bunch of friends, or what? All I can say is that if you ever have the opportunity to bless someone the way I was blessed by these incredible ladies, please do so! And if someone has done something nice for you recently, please take a moment to say thank you in a meaningful way. It’s too easy to take people for granted and realize too late that we have. ‘Nuff said…

Thanks again, my dear friends!

Potato Chip Knitting

Surely I have discovered the potato chips of the knitting world!

Last weekend I was facing a graduation – not mine, but that of my nephew. He received no special recognition or anything, so I was sentenced looking forward to 3 hours in a hot auditorium 90 minutes from home, during which, precisely 26 seconds were going to be meaningful. Ugh! No way was I going to face that without some knitting in my hands, but looking over my existing projects, everything was either too mindless to knit for 3 hours without external stimulation, or it was too involved for me to be able to feign interest in the ceremonies while knitting. Maybe this is all totally true – or maybe I was just looking for a good excuse to cast on a new shawl. Either way, it worked.

I didn’t have to look terribly far for the perfect project. I’ve wanted to make Autumn by Lijuan Jing with Jojoland Rhythm since about 5 seconds after I saw the store model at Fiberworks last year. I walked out of the store with the yarn that day, and I was relatively sure it was well enough aged by now to knit perfectly. Besides, entrelac is on my goal list for 2009, and it’s become apparent that this isn’t going to become a KAL in the yahoo group I’m in which votes for a favorite to knit each quarter.

I cast on 200 stitches Friday a week ago, figuring I could quickly knit the triangle row then enough of the first row of squares to be comfortable working sans pattern at the graduation. Biggest mistake here was underestimating just how much time it would take to knit those 25 little triangles. I did manage to get 2 hours of sleep before we left the next morning. However, the payback was great! I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that all those people who were looking at me sitting there knitting were doing so out of overwhelming jealousy. I was the only person there who didn’t spend at least half the time fighting a strong urge to scream from total boredom. :o)

Anyway, about the potato chip business… If you don’t know, entrelac is knit one little square at a time and with decidedly short rows. Just scoop up a few stitches from the side of the next square below, knit a few rows of stockinette stitch while joining the last stitch of every other row with a live stitch from an earlier square, and poof! Instant gratification! It’s almost too easy. My needles get to the end of a square and without asking permission, they dive through the next row of stitches to pick up, then sit begging with puppy dog eyes, pleading, “Just one more square? It will only take a few minutes after all…” I’m almost ashamed to admit how often I cave into their merciless pleading, even though this shawl was cast on “just for the purpose of having something to knit in certain situations.” Do you suppose it would help at all if I didn’t let it sit here beside me watching me work at the computer?

If you are brave enough to let entrelac knitting have a place in your life, do take a moment to figure out how to knit backwards. It’s ridiculously easy! I’d practiced repeatedly working from tutorials, but every time I sat down to try, I had to look them up again. Finally one day I stopped looking at the process and focused instead on the purpose and promptly had a eureka moment. The concept is the same no matter which way one is knitting; fish a new loop through the old loop. I didn’t need to follow this and that step on this or that tutorial. I just needed to stick my needle in the next loop and pull a bit of yarn through! I have to confess that I still feel a bit like a new knitter when I’m doing it, but it’s becoming smoother and more comfortable for me all the time. I’ve gained a new appreciation for how well my knitting students have progressed in the last year, too! Most of all, though, I just love having learned a new and useful trick as well as a new knitting technique.

Oh, and did I mention how much I love what my yarn is becoming?

Autumn 3 rows

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