Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Taking the Plunge — again!

September 30, 2013

Four and a half years ago, I branched out on my own as a marketing communications consultant. I love the variety of the work, the flexibility in my schedule, and the ongoing learning about the industry and new clients. And I especially love my “commute” up two flights to the tiny storage room my office.

Two weeks ago, with a nudge from a friend (thanks, Kathe), I took the plunge into a new adventure — launching a knitting class from my home. I’ve taught classes before through our local community education program and loved the experience.

I emailed about 25 friends and neighbors and am so excited that, on Wednesday, seven adventurous, creative people (plus a 5-month old baby) will start class.

What are your suggestions for a terrific first (or second) knitting project?

Save the Date: Sheep Ahoy Knitters’ Cruise 2014

August 2, 2013

I’m thrilled that the amazing Shelley Leahey and Patti Crooks, wonder travel agent, have organized the third Sheep Ahoy Knitters’ Cruise.

October 19 – 26, 2014 (not 2013 — you’ve got time!)
Ship is the Royal Caribbean’s “Brilliance of the Seas”
from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine.

Maritime Canada is beautiful and rich in history (and wool!), and my home state of Maine is just spectacular, especially during the brilliance of autumn.


If you’re interested, contact Patti directly. She’s very, very helpful. I’m going to put down a $250 deposit just so I have a spot reserved. I have no idea what my life will be like next October, but I’m really hopeful that there won’t be any major scheduling conflicts. Plus the deposit is refundable until next spring (Patti’s got details).

Pardon the quality of the image — a photo of the flyer!



All Knit & No Play? Never!

August 1, 2013

On Wednesday, our final day in Bermuda, we had a mellow morning — at least, I did. I had a lovely, 3.5 mile walk around the ship, about 11 times around the 7th floor deck. Then breakfast and a couple of hours of writing work for a client. I made a quick trip to a nearby duty-free shop where I bought some perfume for Hannah and to a pharmacy where I got a couple of cans of ginger beer (so refreshing!) and a slew of Cadbury chocolate bars for Kevin and Michael.

At 1:30, we, along with about 50 other travelers, boarded a catamaran for a three-hour excursion.


Our crew of four native Bermudans, one who could trace his ancestors back 16 generations, were just terrific — knowledgeable, skilled, and engaging. They pointed out sites on the island, including several enormous estates, and shared some history. If you ever go to Bermuda, check them out: Rising Son II.


After an hour, we anchored in a beautiful lagoon, walled by cliffs, and nearly everyone went into the water to swim, snorkel, and paddle board.


I’ve only snorkeled once and was totally enthralled. The water was clear as could be and the fish were beautiful — striped, spotted, translucent with electric blue innards. At first I wished that I had a water-proof camera, but I realize that a photo couldn’t capture the experience. My memory will be my photo album.

It’s such a treasure to have all this time with my Mom, who didn’t swim (or indulge in a Rum Swizzle) but learned all about each of the crew members while I was exploring.


We were back onboard ship 30 minutes before our scheduled departure, ready for showers, reading on the balcony,


and an evening of knitting, dinner, and listening to a Glenn Miller Band tribute performance.

On the personal knitting front, I’m quite enjoying my Albers Cowl although I’m still only on the first of three squares.



Bermuda Knits

July 31, 2013

As promised, here’s a photo of Barb’s triangle scarf. She is one speedy and talented knitter.


Mom, Cathie, Barb, and I have spent the past 2 1/2 days enjoying Bermuda, someplace I’ve never been before.

After we arrived mid-day Sunday, we walked around the King’s Wharf Royal Dock area, a former military installation that’s been converted into an historic site combined with cruise and tourism services. That means the waterfront is deep enough to dock a huge cruise ship like ours.


Since it was Sunday when we arrived, many of the stores in Hamilton and St. George’s, the two major cities, were closed. So we walked about the dockyard, visiting a couple of local arts centers, a glass-blowing workshop, a clay and pottery studio, and a traditional rum cake bakery. It was beastly hot and humid, so we moved slowly and sat in the shade on a regular basis.


Although knitting doesn’t seem to be a popular pastime in Bermuda, we were delighted to find some yarnbombing in the area.


In the evening, the knitters gathered in an indoor bar on one of the upper decks and enjoyed an hour or so of drinks and conversation. A few of the significant others sat a table across the room and chatted amongst themselves, no doubt sharing tales of “just one more row” and the joys of having a partner who’s an obsessed committed and creative knitter.


On Monday the four of us took a terrific bus tour around the island, led by an informative, engaging, and funny guide. He shared lots of history of the island, most of which I was completely ignorant of. I didn’t realize that Bermuda was first settled by the English in the early 1600s nor that Bermudians dumped barrels of gunpowder, destined to be used against the American colonists, into the sea.

This lovely and sturdy chapel was built, using Bermuda cedar and limestone, around 1610.


The landscape, flora, and fauna (does that include birds?) are just spectacular.


In St. George’s, we watched an historical reenactment of a public punishment of a woman who was “sentenced” to 7 ocean dunks, public shaming, for the crime of nagging her husband. Chatting with the woman before the event, we learned that her “day job” the deputy speaker of the Parliament of Bermuda. She says this gig, which I believe she performs 6 or 7 days a week is the most fun she’s ever had!



Knitting Cruise

July 27, 2013

I know that most people don’t understand knitting. It’s not just that they don’t know HOW to knit (although I’m pretty sure almost everyone could learn); it’s that they don’t understand how someone could enjoy knitting — and the company of fellow knitters — so much.

You can see it in their eyes, When I tell someone, even a friend or coworker, that I have a knitting blog, there it is:  a flicker of surprise and bewilderment. There it is again when I pull out my knitting on the subway or in a coffee shop.

Like most knitters, I’ve gotten used to this reaction and am not bothered by it at all. After all, some people love antiquing or baseball or Civil War history or golf or cycling or TV shows and will happily and regularly spend hours enjoying said pursuits. Variety is the spice of life and part of what makes humans interesting.

But people’s reactions have gone to a whole different level when I’ve told them of my summer vacation plan: “I’m going on a knitting cruise from Boston to Bermuda and back.”

Forget the flicker of surprise; it’s downright uncontainable. “A what…?”

It’s not a ship full of 2,200 knitters. Rather it’s a ship full of 2,200 people — from infants to octogenarians, from different states and multiple countries.

Amidst these thousands are about 50 people, nearly all women, who have come aboard with the added purpose of expanding their knitting skills, taking workshops from the amazingly talented Ann Weaver, and meeting fellow knitters — like Barb and Cathie, two terrific Canadian knitters who are warm, generous, and loads of fun (no surprise there).


I’m traveling with my Mom, who had such a great time on a similar but shorter cruise last summer to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that I just had to join her. We set sail from Boston yesterday afternoon. First class is this morning. Stay tuned!


Surprisingly finished.

July 22, 2013

The Illusion Cube blanket is more than I thought it’d be. I knew the design was dead clever — 56 individual hexagons, each knit to look like a cube.


I knew the colors would be surprisingly lovely. Eight colors, each pair knitted twice in slightly different combination.


Sure, each cube had about six ends to weave in and snip, making the back side a bit bumpy.

back side of Illusion Cube blanket

But I’m still delightfully surprised and pleased with the finished product.

I knew when I started this project, that this would be a gift for the child of neighborhood friends. Daisy was born when I was about 3/4 of the way through the cubes, the much-anticipated and greatly loved sister of big brothers Ben and Mookie and blessed child of Kerrie and Steve. The Yarn Harlot has said that knitting is “the best container for love.” I hope Miss Daisy is wrapped in love, in the form of this blanket and the less physical but no less tangible love of friends and family, for years to come.

Finished Illusion Cube Blanket over porch railing

Knits by the sea, by the beautiful sea

June 7, 2013

I love coming across yarnbombs, those surprise public works of knitted art. They’re usually colorful and often whimsical but occasionally political.

Which takes us to North Yorkshire, where Susanne, my friend and college roommate, and her family have been living in England since last fall while she and her husband are on sabbatical. She regularly sends updates of their travels, which recently included a trip to Saltburn-by-the-Sea in North Yorkshire, where a stealthy band of knitters had been at work.

The pier, the beach, the cliffs, and out of sight, a funicular railway.


Visitors on this sunny day discovered treasures along the railing.


Look closer…




Humans too!




Summertime themes:



SaltburnKelp SaltburnJellies

Just look at the details…




Here’s a local report on the fun.

Knitting Reacquaintance

August 5, 2011

“I’d like to take some time during our visit to get reacquainted with knitting,” my dear cousin Meg wrote in advance of our getaway weekend in Chicago. Her words were music to my ears because there’s nothing a knitter enjoys more (this knitter, at least) than sharing the joy of knitting with others.

I know, I know. It’s not all joy, especially when you discover a dropped stitch 5 rows down or realize that your attempt to “join without twisting” was unsuccessful. But it’s mostly fun and oh so satisfying, especially when you can say “I made this.”

Meg decided on a baby hat, a good choice for a first project since it meets criteria #1 on my list of good first projects : you can finish it. She chose a wee tomato hat — red with a leafy green crown & little stem.

She lives in Toronto, so I sent her to the good folks at Lettuce Knit , which happens to be right in her neighborhood. I know they’re good folks because the Yarn Harlot regularly sings their praises and, well, she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

Over the course of our 2.5 days together, she cast on, knit a swatch (important to establish good habits early), figured out her gauge (same as the pattern so no recaculating needed — huzzah!), cast on the hat, divided into 4 double-pointed needles, joined without twisting (no mean feat that), and was well on her way to the 25th round when we had to part.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a single photo of these wonderful accomplishments. But I’ll see her very soon and perhaps will have one then.

This shot of Meg (with me in the background) at the amazing Cloud Wave sculpture (aka “The Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park will have to do:

Cousin Meg reflected in Cloud Wave metallic sculpture

My Kind of Scarf

March 4, 2011

Many of the beginning knitters I’ve taught think their first project should be a scarf, more often than not, a basic garter stitch scarf.  I generally counsel them against this, pointing out that scarves are really, really long and can get veeeeery boring very fast.

I’ve written about moving beyond scarves before. I might suggest a neck warmer — which is really a short, wide scarf turned on its side and buttoned — or a hat, which allows you to learn decreases or even cables.   My favorite first knitting project by a student was a golf club “cozy.” How cute is that?!

first knitting project: knit golf club cozy

But now I’ve discovered my go-to recommendation for a first project: the Encompass Scarf by the wonderful Yarn Harlot herself (scroll down post).

circular scarf

A circular scarf that you wrap twice around your neck, this lovely is an easy and relatively quick knit. It’s a good first knit for the following reasons:

– includes 4 different patterns (garter, seed, moss, and a modified rib of sorts) so there’s variety — thereby avoiding the boredom that hits after 6 inches of a garter stitch scarf;

– practicing different stitch patterns gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps you develop an eye for patterns. It’s a wonderful feeling to realize when to switch stitches without looking at the pattern — trust me, high cleverness factor is important, especially to a beginner;

– knitting in the round is a great skill (again, cleverness factor) that you’ll use in many other projects — hats, sweaters, socks — even golf club cozies!

Next time I make Encompass, think I’ll put together different patterns. Let the learning continue!

Taking Flight (with Needles)

October 6, 2010

“They let you go through security with those?” the man asked, somewhat incredulously.  We were on a plane, about to take off for a 90-minute flight, one I take for work a couple of times each month.

Every Way Wrap in progress

I glanced down at my size 8 circulars, nestled among the softness of the Every Way Wrap, and then looked up at him with a smile and replied, “They did. The TSA allows knitting needles on planes.  They’re not even as sharp as a pen.” (My seat mate dozed off half-way through the flight, so I was able to sneak a photo of his visibly pointy pen.  Didn’t want to alarm the poor guy.)

The gentleman moved on without smiling, busy with his flight attendant duties, checking for securely fastened seatbelts, upright-and-locked tray tables, and unstowed carry-on bags.

Knitting needles are allowed on airplanes, really and truly. For flights in the USA, here’s the page from the Transportation Security Agency. For those north of the border, needles are OK on flights in Canada, too.  (How else would the Yarn Harlot survive all her flights?!)

Feel free to print the page and carry it with you, if you’re the worrying sort or just in case you feel the need for some back-up.  Circular yarn cutters and scissors aren’t allowed though. Be sure to pack those in your checked bag or leave them at home.

On your next flight, sit back, relax, enjoy your 16.5 peanuts and soft drink, and knit to your heart’s content.

Boy Wonder

July 8, 2010

The longer I’ve been a mother, the more I side toward Nature in the whole nature-vs-nurture debate. My primary, completely unscientific data are my three children, each with a distinct temperament, each of which was pretty much discernible shortly after birth.

Case in point: my dear Kevin, who turned 15 yesterday. It’s a pleasure and privilege to watch him become more fully who he his.

A remarkable human being in nearly every way, he’s unafraid to throw his arms around me, in front of his teenage friends no less, and say (after planting a kiss on my cheek), “how’s your day going, Mama?”

He’s energetic, empathetic, creative, smart, funny, and plays some mean guitar. Through him, I’ve been able to rediscover the music of my teens, listening to AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd.  While driving to or from hockey games, we listen to classic rock, quizzing each other on bands and songs. He’s handsome, too — can’t take total credit for that myself, of course.

His wonderful kindergarten teacher enlightened me to his “tactile nature,” which explained his propensity for deliberately bumping people and things, for being unable to fall asleep unless he wrapped himself tightly (“cocooned”) in his covers.  Instead of reprimanding him for not sitting still while trying to read, she had him sit in a bean bag chair or lie on his stomach on the floor, “grounding” his body so his brain could focus on the task at hand.  Brilliant woman!

He’s long possessed leadership qualities, but they’ve become more evident since he — and his friends — have entered their teens. He has no qualms about telling a friend to stop being rude or to clean up his language around younger kids or to wash his own dishes (after the gang has made and devoured a pound of pasta & cheese).

I’m not naive enough to believe that this quality will ensure he makes safe decisions when it comes to alcohol, driving, drugs, and all the other dangers that make a parent’s breath catch in her throat.  But he’s got a strong enough sense of himself that he can say, “Nah, I’m not gonna do that” and not really care what others may think of him. For that, I’m grateful.

He knows how to knit — made a scarf for his 2nd grade teacher, his favorite teacher of all time.  And he’ll even ask me to make and then wear — and be photographed in — his own hat.

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Beyond Scarves: Ideas for a First Knitting Project

June 12, 2010

When asked what they’d like to make for their first knitting project, many of my students suggest a scarf.  I encourage them to try something else.

It’s not that I’ve got something against scarves (in fact, I’m particularly partial to the Noro Stripe).  It’s that a scarf takes so darn long to finish.  By the time you’ve gotten the hang of knits and purls, you discover that you’ve got about 3 feet more to go before you finish. And the thought fills you with dread…. (A tip: if you’re sick of your starter scarf, turn it into a neck warmer. Finish it at 22″, add a couple of buttonholes, and you’re done!)

Finishing is the key to a successful first project. A first knitting project should be something:

  • you can finish in a reasonable amount of time (over the course of 3 or 4 weekly classes or about a week);
  • that gives you the chance to learn something more than casting on, knit, purl, and binding off — like increases, decreases, or mixing colors and stitches;
  • most importantly, you should finish with a sense of accomplishment and excitement about your next project.

Some examples:

A cotton facecloth with changes of color, garter and stockinette stitches, slipped stitches across rows.

Cotton knit facecloth

A golf club “cozy” with a pom-pom — knit by a student in my beginning knitting class.

knit golf club cozy

Baby hats — in any color, multiple designs, colors, yarns. If you don’t know a baby, make a hat and send it to your local hospital.  They have babies whose wee heads need to be covered in love.

four knit baby hats

A hat for yourself or a friend.  As you can see, Ashley was thrilled with her first project — she’s radiant!

Size 9s

May 14, 2010

Nearly every morning, I get up before anyone else in my house and slip out for a run.  I don’t track distance (really) and only roughly do I track time.  The important thing is that I’m out by myself for a while — moving, thinking, praying, mind-singing, mulling — and that I get home by 7:00 so I can wake the troops, prepare meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches), and get all children out the door at the appointed times (7:25, 7:38, 8:00).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that my run always ends at the neighborhood Starbuck’s, where I get a medium bold for sipping on the 1/4 mile cool-down walk home.

Occasionally the lovely routine is disrupted. Sleeping through the alarm is the most common culprit. But this morning I could not find my running shoes. Anywhere. I always (well, almost) leave them by the back door.  Gone.  Checked all the obvious spots — by front door, bedroom, bathroom.  Nothing.

Ah, yes, then it hit me. The still-sleeping teenage daughter whose feet are the same size and who has started to take an occasional run herself and who is forever misplacing her own items of clothing, despite the fact that most of it is strewn across the floor of her room.

running shoes under dirty laundry










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