snippets of yarn.

water-shawl

photo credit to Sylvia McFadden

Did you see Sylvia McFadden’s new shawl?  Garter and waves, I swoon.  Naturally, it’s already on my needles.

Yarn that has me drooling: Akara Yarns and Stone Wool .  It is from those two shops that I made my final purchases of 2016.

Wanna feel inspired, empowered, and motivated?  Read this book.  (I know, I know, I’m a broken record.  But just buy it already!)

My family and I love learning about strong women and now we don’t have to stop after Wonder Women because I just ordered this book.

Clean water should be a basic human right for everyone.  Sadly, in Canada, many First Nations have gone without for years.  You can help with one pendant. I bought this one.

The 5 shawls, 5 days Challenge is coming back.  Are you in?  I AM!

I keep this awesome article open on my phone and visit it often.  Hello #7. And, as we get further into January practicing our resolutions, #10 and #13 are good reminders.

I’m not ready for January 21st. Not even a little.

Reset.

Do you select a word to encompass your objectives for the year?  Maybe it’s a theme you want to lay out for the year ahead. Maybe it’s one you keep posted on your fridge to serve as a reminder.

I started choosing a word in 2011.  My daughter was just over a year old and I felt I needed a word to serve as a reminder of the life I had and wanted.  Life had radically changed since my daughter’s birth and I was struggling to adjust at times.  I battled with reconciling life Before Child and the life that was After Child.  So in 2011, I chose the word MORE.  I wanted to be more aware, more grateful, more compassionate (of others and myself), more of a friend, more of a wife, more Sarah, and more of the mother I knew I could be.  Since then, example of words I’ve chosen are BALANCE, ENOUGH, and SETTLE.  Their selection comes from different motivations but they’re always the product of of an overwhelming feeling or goal.

reset_button2

For 2017, my word is RESET.
I feel wayward after 2016.  In February, I was hit with anxiety and depression.  All year long, anxiety and depression kept walloping me.  My equilibrium was dealt a one-two punch and I was down, sometimes both literally and figuratively. I ate terribly.  I had zero motivation for exercising.  (But when I finally found some dedication, I suffered an Achilles injury this is still creating havoc.)  I would try to introduce balance and implement fresh starts to no avail.  When December came along, I found myself craving the fresh start that January 1st would provide. I can see the folly in the logic of a number change, but friends, I needed it.  As the new year drew closer, I felt a return of enthusiasm.  There was promise on the horizon!  It is in that promise and enthusiasm that I finally realized I just needed a massive reset.  One that could not be implemented all that once however.  It is one that I need to slowly construct.  A steady foundation first needs to be poured, and then I can lay bricks until finally, I am standing firmly.

That is why I have developed a 12 month plan.  Each month, I will focus on an aspect of my health and well-being to reset.  This reduces the amount of pressure I feel upon myself to succeed.  Before I can run again, I simply need to walk. Two days in, I already feel more sure of my footing.  Oh, the power of a fresh start!

After & Onward

After the limited quantities of yarn that came in this year (by comparison to previous years) as well as the Great Destash, I feel myself craving very few purchases.  But that doesn’t mean grabby hands aren’t looming, especially with the allowance of superwash once again. I need to mitigate that.

After the success and rewards of 2016, I feel another weighty goal is necessary for 2017. Something with similar motivation.  Something that presents a similar challenge.  Something that taps into my overall goals for 2017.

After much consideration, here are my goals for 2017:

  1. No Nylon (or synthetics).
    Nylon is a polymer – a plastic basically. And that means it is a petroleum based product.  In light of the stand off at Standing Rock and the Trudeau government approving two of three proposed pipelines, I feel the need more than ever to reduce my use of petroleum based products.  And this action just makes sense to me.  I’m not a sock knitter and should I become one, I already own heaps of yarn with nylon. Wool wears well and suits the majority of my preferred knitting.  Plus, it is biodegradable!
  2. Work from the stash you LOVE.
    While I truly adore my stash and don’t think I could bear to part with any more of it, it’s still substantial.  And abundant.  That means I need to make a concerted effort to utilize it. Many patterns are populating my Ravelry queue that I want to knit, that I have reserved the yarn to knit, and it’s high time I do so. Ever wonder how long you could knit, if you just knit from stash?
    Gross, right? Just me?
    The hoarder stands alone.
  3. One purchase of Superwash yarn is allowed prior to Knit City 2017.
    (That’s October 1st and 2nd)

    While I tried to block out much of the incredible colourways being created by seriously talented dyers for the bulk of 2016 (survival techniques, yo), I have begun stalking a few and I need to scratch the itch. And yup, I will adhere to goal number one for the year when I do place the order. This is basically to ensure that I don’t fall off the wagon which is goal number two with a thud.
  4. The built in loophole: Yarn for Softsweater testknits is permitted*.
    *Provided I don’t have appropriate yarn in my stash.
    (That’s a fairly substantial proviso!)
    I am a pretty big fan of Sylvia, the magician behind Softsweater Knits.  Over the course of 2016, I was fortunate to build a friendship with her and cheer on the publication of her first book, Shawl Joy. Plus, I just freaking love her designs. I love lace knitting.  I love the rustic yarns that inspire her.  They just suit me and I wear her creations a lot.  An inordinate amount of time has been spent mulling over this loophole over. I discussed it with my husband and nearly wrote a pro/con list. When I realized it would look like this:
    Pro: I LOVE her patterns.  I LOVE knitting them. I LOVE wearing them.
    Con: I’d probably buy the yarn anyway so…fail.
    I thought it reasonable to allow for it.
    Who’s Type A? Seriously.
  5. Embark upon a new knitterly path.
    It’s vague, I know.
    An idea has been percolating for a while now and recently a further aspect of it struck me.  It’s vital to me that I explore this further and get this idea into motion.  Once it has legs, I will share more.

Onward into 2017, I look forward to new lessons garnered.  I anticipate a struggle and welcome the reward.

Onward into 2017, I feel a renewed passion for knitting. I wonder what the year ahead will bring to my outlook on yarn and this craft.

Onward into 2017, I wish you lessons, passion, and reward.  May you find success in your goals and what you endeavour to do.  Wishing you oodles of cheer & a very Happy New Year! xo

 

 

 

Dear 2016, thanks.

2016 was hard, y’all. Globally, locally, personally, I can tell you it was not my favourite. From confusing and confounding elections, to the loss of immense talents, to acts of brutality, it was a year full of heartache.

There were peaks though, and I’m not just talking about Stranger Things.  When I started to reflect on the year, a year that was hard for me in terms of mental health, I struggled to zoom out and there I managed to find bright spots. I started to see rays of light beaming out from my lofty goal for the year of giving up superwash and synthetic based yarns. Preferences, simplification, and values were gleaned. Who coulda thunk it? Not one is revelatory on a national scale, heck, not even on a regional scale but they are lessons for me that I’m taking into 2017 and beyond.

When I set the goal in October of 2015, I was determined.  I was sure of my reasoning.  I felt steadfast.  All that said, I was confronting my real, true, ardent love for all yarn and feared I would fail in a spectacular fashion.  My fret level was as high as the threat level of gorgeous superwash yarns. (I think we can all acknowledge the wiles of gorgeous yarn, amiright?)

But, dudes, I made it! And it feels tremendous!  Not just because I managed to go the whole year without purchasing superwash yarn and bases with synthetics*, but more so because of what I learned along the way.

Women making (delicious) yarn, and kicking ass.
AKA Yarns that I discovered and love.

Going into 2016, I knew there was purchase that I had to make and that was from Elsawool.  In her lecture at Knit City 2015, Clara Parkes had spoken about Elsa and her divine yarn. She spoke about how Elsa is someone who inspires and mentors her process and standards at Clara Yarn.  I just knew my journey this year would be incomplete without some of her purebred cormo.  And I now understand Ms Parkes adoration for it; it is extraordinary.  The natural colour and depth within the yarn, its soft and  delicate yet sturdy hand when knitting, the organic way the stitches lay on your needles: it’s special yarn.  The care that Elsa and her team shows to the process is evident in every yard.  I truly believe you need to try this yarn.

My other favourites on the year are Julie Asselin’s Nurtured, Hinterland Textiles, and Ysolda Teague’s Blend No 1. These yarns make me straight up giddy!  It is of these three that I made repeat purchases over the year and I still want more! While they’re all quite different, both in their fibre composition and feel, they’re united in their creator’s quest to bring purity and wholeness to the fibre world. I’ll speak to all four of these yarns in more detail in coming months.

Good for you, Not for me.
AKA Superwash and I are not super friendly anymore.

Knitting with untreated yarn obviously feels quite differently than the treated variety.  It took one to two projects for me to acclimate to the different texture, the absence of bounce, and the existence of chaff and other material found in untreated yarn.  And you know what? I wasn’t sure I loved it.  While I remained certain about the goal, I feared I would hate knitting with all my new yarny acquisitions.  That is until I cast on a project using a plied, superwash yarn (with some cashmere and nylon) and let me tell you, it felt like I was knitting twine.  (Insert favourite panicked faced emoji here!)  It felt like there was a coating on the yarn.  Never before had I noticed it and some of my favourite yarns were falling victim!  The more I knit with non-superwash yarns, the more its texture and rusticity was preferred; my hands were simply happiest with 100% pure wool moving between them.  The exception to the superwash rule remains to be single ply yarn.  My love for it is true and real and I don’t care who knows it.

Keep what you love. Separate the pretty from the useful. Destash the rest.
AKA The Great Stash Reduction of 2016.

No no no, I don’t mean the KonMari method. Shit, if I applied that to yarn, I’d be renting a storage space, because all yarn brings me joy!  That’s the thing about yarn, while its feel may cause gripes, there’s a reasonable chance its flashy colour may make me want to hoard it anyway. (Stash can go in shadow boxes and pose as art, right?)  Yarn appeals to several of our senses and often rational isn’t attending the party.
A smaller goal of mine in 2016 was to get my stash under control.  Furthermore, it was part of my strategy for keeping on the wagon this year.  I would article and update my Ravelry stash page with every single skein of yarn I owned. If I knew what I had, I could manage the siren calls of speckles.  And, I wanted to be sure that I was only stashing yarns I loved.  In January alone, I destashed/donated, 13977 yards.  It felt liberating and rewarding and that’s when I set out to address my stash in earnest.
It was February.
It took three days to enter it all and I was able to blanket a double bed three times with skeins.
To say it was sobering would be an understatement.
My Ravelry stash totalled 320+ lots.  The stash had overgrown its allotted space(s) (several times) in our home and I was ready to cull the herd.  Immediately, I imposed the necessity of a 10% cut. Over the following two months, 10890 more yards left my house.
And the stash edits kept coming.  I managed to separate my love for colourways with the truth of what I was actually going to knit.  At press time, I have 198 lots on my Ravelry page.  Every so often, I revisit my yarn to see if there any more cuts to make, and truthfully there isn’t.  I love everything and want to knit it all, yup, even the superwash.  It is an incredible feeling to be at peace with that I have.

Good for you, Not for me.  The Colour Edition.
AKA Neutrals are my jam.

I love colour.  Especially on yarn.  The more variegated and speckled, the better it is and the more I want it!  But here’s the hitch, I want to knit with it. It’s hard for me to wear it.  So very much I adore Stephen West’s zeal for colour and the brilliantly bright creations that people create and drape themselves in. It is inspiring, loud in all the right ways, and I love it.  Alas, it’s just not me.  I only know this for certain now because of 2016: my year of neutrals. One of my concerns in giving up superwash was that I wasn’t going to be able to hoard the colourful skeins in the way I was accustomed and wanted. I feared that I would grow tired of the browns, creams, and beige.  But get this, in a way unlike ever before, I’m wearing my knits!  I can only attribute this to the neutrality of the yarn. That just so happens to match the neutrality of my wardrobe.  Because surprise, surprise, I don’t wear heaps of brights in my clothes.  Half of my (now) well curated stash is still variegated, speckled and colour-glorious, it is simply reserved for socks or a well suited pattern.  (Just now am I realizing that I may have learned a thing of two about the right yarn for the right project this year, too.)

*I learned that I can bend the rules sometimes, and it’s all going to be okay.
AKA The one loophole on the year.

OMG You Guys! **
Yup, that’s its name, not an exclamation.
Have you seen it? It is AMAZING. It had me swooning the moment I saw it in Catherine’s Instagram feed prior to Knit City 2017.  Swooning and sweating.   How on earth was I going to ignore it?  I wanted it so badly.  It felt wrong to break the rules.  I like rules, big fan of rules. You may not have guessed that though if you saw me front of the queue on Saturday morning at Knit City as I sprinted towards the Caterpillargreen booth… but I do.  And subsequently, I was ravaged with guilt.  I copped to the purchase to a select few in person but if you check my Instagram picture showing my haul from the weekend, you won’t see the skein.  You know why? Because I didn’t want you to think me a failure. So I lied.  Hello faulty logic!
Upon getting home from the amazing weekend in Vancouver, I handed the skein off to my husband and promptly forgot about it.  Only until I found it in my Christmas stocking. Get this? My love for it is still very real and I regret nothing. It is the ONLY skein of superwash I bought in 2016.  And that makes me feel proud.  So yes, while I certainly bent the rules, my joy supersedes other’s impressions of me.  Or should I say, my perceived perceptions of me.

Other notable knitterly based highlights for me in 2016 include treasured friendships, the acquisition of my forever tools, and bearing witness to wonderful triumphs of those around me.  Of course all these highlights transcend knitting and the realm of hobby. Just when I think I have figured it all out: lessons, gifts, genuine joy bubble over to make it part of who I am. That may in fact be the best realization of 2016.

**An alternate name for the colourway is Weekend.  The skein I own has the above name on it.

take two.

As you may have read in my first post, I had some goals for 2016.  Not only did I want to practice and reach those goals, I wanted to write about them.  I wanted to chronicle what I learned, share wonderful finds, and talk about my struggles as I worked within the parameters which I had laid out for myself. Second only to succeeding, was the goal to fill this space with content.

2016

Right? 

 

While I managed to meet all my knitterly goals for 2016 (yay! and more on that later), personal happenings impacted this space.  Writing on a frequent basis was just not to be.

However, I still have oodles I want to tell you!  My voice is coming back.  I will visit here a lot more often.  I do believe 2017 is going to be grand.  If nothing else, it has to be better than 2016, right?

Note: image taken from Facebook. Original source is unknown.

Inspiration & Motivation

“As a society, we’ve trapped ourselves in a kind of reverse Fordism.  Instead of paying workers well enough so that they can afford good, honestly-priced products – as Henry Ford endeavored to do so his workers might afford to his cars – we pay them so little that the only food they can afford is junk food destructive of their health and environment.
-Michael Pollan

In October 2015, I sat in a lecture hall in Vancouver, BC listening to Clara Parkes present her lecture The Great White Bale.  I was riveted.  I couldn’t even knit as I listened to her experiences in the genesis of Clara Yarn; it was inspiring.  Towards the end of her lecture, Clara read the above quote from Michael Pollan and I nearly fell off my chair.  For years I’ve been mindful of our diet, chosen local and organic, and made dietary choices not only for the betterment of my health, but the environment, too.  Why had I never considered the sheep, farmers, or environment when buying my yarn??

I cannot even claim ignorance on the subject either.  I’ve listened to the podcasts, read articles about the treatment of yarn, and heard firsthand about what the chemical does to the yarn and afterwards our planet.  However, not a single piece of information landed as that quote did that Friday night.  I adore Michael Pollan; I’ve read his books, his articles and listened to his Ted Talk. In Clara delivering the quote, two of my worlds, my passions, collided.  A friend sitting across from me saw it how it affected me.  In that exact moment, literally, I knew my goal for 2016: my year of knitting clean.  No superwash. No synthetics.  Yarn where I can identify the source.

Be it from a dyer or a farmer, I want to know where the sheep/alpacas graze and are sheered.  I want to know where the raw wool is milled and spun. When it reaches the dyer, I want to know why it was sought, and if there is any inspiration for colourways.  I am approaching this year as I did when I went to the local farmers market.  I will approach the seller and seek information to better understand the process and product.  I want to know the who, what, where, why and how.  Heck, even the when.

When my little family walks away from the farmers market each week, we feel connected to our community.  We eagerly anticipate dinner, both the consumption of it and the preparation.  We feel gratitude and reverence for the offerings and the hands that grew it.  Simply put, food tastes better for knowing its history!

In my yarn purchases for 2016, I want to feel the same reverence for wool.  I want to be giddy about winding it.  I want to be transported as the yarn moves across my needles and in my hands.  I want to be connected to the farm and the community.

That is not to say that I don’t have those feelings now.  I have shelves full of beautiful yarn lovingly dyed and treated with care.  Yarn that glows with vibrant colour and elicits such joy from me.  I smile like there’s a hanger in my mouth as I pull an adored skein out into the light and hold it to my face to nuzzle. (Yes, nuzzle.  I’m a yarn nuzzler.)  I know many of the dyers, have gotten to know them and even in some cases built friendships.  I’m grateful for these skeins, these dyers, and their genius in their creativity.

Frankly, reading the quote out of the context of the lecture, it doesn’t hit me the same way.  Maybe it’s the #ClaraEffect?  However, I’m honouring the idea, and charging head strong into the new year with fervour.

Perhaps my goal is a tad lofty.  Maybe my expectations are out to lunch.  Alas, I’m diving in ready to learn and ready to be grateful.