Julie knits and writes and knits.

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So much knitting to catch up on. Soon as I can. I’m working at recovering from a long un-diagnosed case of Lyme Disease, which has slowed down my writing, reading, doing, a good bit. But after a year of treatment, things seem to be looking up, and I’m getting more writing done. Just fired up a new blog for musings about mid-life in the Midwest, with a bunch of smart writers I know. Check it out if you like that kind of thing:

New Communitas


Christine’s Forest Canopy

My friend, Christine, is a knitter and a writer and a painter. And a lot of other things, too, but for the purposes of this story, let’s just stop the list right there. I guess I’ve known Christine for a million years. We met giving a reading of our work selected by a local literary magazine. We bumped into one another at local writing events. Two entirely separate strands of wool in the wash, follicles catching here and there. Then I started working with her dear husband. Then she helped me along when I started knitting. And now we’re more or less felted.

When Christine decided to get serious about painting again, not so very long ago, I wasn’t surprised to see an explosion of spectacular, moving, accomplished work in a very short time. Delighted, but not surprised, because this is how Christine would paint if Christine painted. Of course. Of course.

I asked her to consider making a portrait of my Mom. Some day. Maybe. If she wanted to, but no pressure. At all. Because, you know, maybe she wouldn’t want to, and that would be cool. I sent her a photo of my mom as a young woman. Expecting her to think and let me know.

Within, like, a week or so, Christine told me we had to meet at our LYS. I figured on some sort of hat emergency. Mittens gone wrong. Something. But no, she had this for me:

That’s my mom, Vivian. Absolutely. Amazing. Just… wow. Amazing. I was stunned. Thoroughly. Still am.

And immediately willing to hock the family jewels to pay for it, provided I could find the family jewels. Or a family with jewels. What could I possibly offer in return for this? Christine started talking trade. Knitting for art.

“Um… dood, you sure?”

She was sure.

She had a lace shawl firmly in mind, already. And all we had to do was find the right yarn…

The exact right wool was already in my stash. Cash Iroha, Noro’s cashmere, silk, wool blend, light and soft and shimmery, in a color…. This color is what red would be if it were made of chocolate. That’s about the best I can come up with. It’s a color I appear to love a lot, judging by the number of yarns in various weights resident in my stash in this exact hue. The Cash Iroha chocolate red is sort of a worsted weight, slubby yarn, dear and yummy.

Christine liked the Cherry Leaf shawl I had made in a fingering-weight yarn awhile ago, but that same pattern wouldn’t have translated to this yarn. Good old Ravelry made short work of finding a great, leafy shawl pattern in worsted for my little stash: Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence.

Within a few minutes, I bought the pattern from her site, loaded the charts onto my iPhone, and cast on the few stitches at the top center from which all the rest of the shawl just blooms. Well, eventually it blooms, the rows getting longer and longer as you go, until you finish, casting off all those scallops.

A completely pleasant knit from first stitch to last. I made minor modifications, adding a few repeats of the main pattern to lengthen the piece, and a couple of extra rows in the edging pattern to balance the new length. This is four skeins of Noro.

The finished piece is light as air and really warm. Vivian would have loved it. The color and texture are pure Christine. A very good trade.

Mr. Tweed

brooklyn tweed demonstrating button band

Originally uploaded by jujuridl

I’ve known him as b r o o k l y n t w e e d for so much longer than I’ve known him as Jared Flood, that I kind of just want to call him Mr. Tweed.

I had classes with Mr. Tweed at City Knitting today. Supposed to be my second day of study, but my brain wouldn’t comply yesterday.

(Say, if you’re a migraineur too, you really ought to grab a copy of The Migraine Brain. Just when you thought you knew everything about them — along comes a whole new line of thinking. Helpful.)

And though I THOUGHT I was ready for class, it seems I grabbed everything but my camera, and so all of my photos from the class are icky, sickly phone pics. So sorry about that.

Learned very good things that ought to come in handy finishing some projects and especially starting new ones. Gad, I’m so ready to get another big sweater project going, you have no idea.

Mr Tweed is exactly as smart and helpful and generous and funny as he is cracked up to be. Maybe more. If you get the chance to study under him, just take it!

Hey, between classtimes, I finished Shoddy! There I was, all by myself as I stitched down the last hem stitch, grinning like an idiot, and a little weepy. Like finishing a great novel. I hate to be done with it. Now I have to work up the guts to block it, and then hand it over to my daughter. A photo session when I do, and you’ll see it. It worked!

Cat Bordhi is MAKING me start another project

I’m thrilled about Obama, and also about McCain’s speech last night. It is time for healing.

Cat Bordhi  shared this through the City Knitting (one of my LYS’s) newsletter, and now I’m sharing it with you, and you can see, can’t you, how I had to cast on another project? HAD TO:

Heal the Election Wounds and Embrace Humanity with a Moebius

By Cat Bordhi

I awoke this morning realizing that publicly knitting a beautiful Moebius scarf as I begin to float (I live on an island), drive, and fly toward Stitches East on Tuesday would be a beautiful and profound public expression of my hopes and dreams for the world, as well as a symbol of the healing that our country will need after the election.

If you want to follow along, I recently made a Youtube video which will clearly teach you how to knit a Moebius whether you have my books or not.

Here’s the link:

So – here is why the Moebius is a perfect expression of the best of humanity, and the healing of the fractured country and world that I trust is coming:

1. The Moebius *appears* to have two surfaces and two edges – ie, polarities such as black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, Republican and Democrat – but when you follow the surface around you will run right into your starting point without ever having changed to the other “side.” For there isn’t one. Everything flows into itself.

Polarities are an illusion. What lies beneath the apparent polarities is oneness, beauty, and grace. In a Moebius you can see it, hold it, be awed by it. Once the frenzy dies down, hopefully those with
opposing views will slowly rediscover their common humanity.

2. Like the surface that flows into itself, so too does the Moebius’s single continuous edge – thus everything is recycled. In fact, I would not be the least bit surprised if the ultimate alternative energy involves a Moebius form or dynamic. By the way, the recycling symbols (2 are in common usage, one with a single twist, the other with 3) you see everywhere are actually Moebii (too hard to say Moebiuses – try it!). I think we are all hoping for significant and effective new discoveries in alternative energy – and the Moebius would be a great
symbol for this global effort.

3. Once you complete the first ring (it takes 2 rings to make a round – watch the video) of your Moebius, you are in for smooth and happy sailing. All you have to do is to knit the stitch in front of you, then the next stitch in front of you, with not a care in the world for what came before or what has shifted into the “future”. You’ll look at the mysterious shape on your needles and wonder how “those stitches”
can ever come to you . . . well, they will, without your needing to understand how. And they will all come in perfect sequence, resulting in a beautiful and graceful Moebius. The Moebius rewards your faith in
its mystery with the easiest knitting you will ever do. And the result is always graceful – for this is the very nature of the Moebius. You can knit along while you watch the election results, while walking,
while standing in line at the store, wherever you may find yourself during these days to come. You will be knitting the graceful healing and ease that I believe is flowing toward us, requiring only of us
that we stay true to the powerful sense of loving kindness that resides in the center of every person. No one could ever possibly understand enough to make the healing happen, but if we all just knit
the stitch before us, as they come, marveling at the innocence and sweetness of it all, with our oh so familiar continuous strand of yarn, the healing will happen. We need not understand either one fully – the Moebius or the world. They both operate with inherent grace.

4. I looked through my stash and chose a luminous yarn in deep watery colors from Blue Moon Fiber Arts – LSS (Luscious Single Silk), and did not realize until I looked at the label that the colorway is
absolutely apropos: Lunasea. Tina no doubt named the colorway after the moon and the sea – and after lunacy. So let the lunacy of the election months give way to Lunasea – the grace of the moon, the sea,
the Moebius, and the beautiful heart of humanity, of all people, the “us” and “them” who merge into one. I shall be winding the skein on the ferry tomorrow, then knitting all the way to Baltimore. I hope to
see many, many of you there.

With love from Cat Bordhi

Note: If you alternate sets of knit and purl rounds, you will have purl ridges all around. Then your Moebius will not curl along the edges when you are done.

Pinkie News

Hi there folks. Thought I’d better mention that Pinkie Blankie is now available for download from Ravelry, where you can cue it up and see, at this count, around 20 or so of them being worked up in lots of gauges and ways by fellow Ravelers.

Pinkie Blankie on Ravelry

The dear ones at Lime n Violet featured Pinkie on their Chum blog today. An honor! To prepare for this, I did a photo shoot of the scarf, getting much better pics, but especially one with a willing and docile model…

Pinkie Blankie on Charlie

Pinkie Blankie on Charlie

He’s expensive, but worth it, don’t you think?

Camp Dispatch

On the one hand, I knit endlessly while at camp. On the other hand, I don’t have much to show for it. Well, this hat:

And this hat:

Which is actually the same Very Warm Hat:

Which you’ll find in Knitting Around, by Elizabeth Zimmerman, p42. I switched out the yarn and the motif, using the lovely and stitch-definition-preserving Quebequois yarn you can get in lots of beautiful colors from Schoolhouse Press.

And I knit a lot on a swatch made specifically to learn steeks. And steeked that swatch into a funny looking woolly rag.

And I met and fell in love with a great many breathtaking sweaters…

and lots of wonderful knitters…

No doubt about it. These are my knitting people.

Got a lot of autographs on my Schoolhouse Library from Meg Swansen and Joyce Williams and Amy Detjen, who are all exactly as gracious and earthy and generous as you’ve read everywhere else.

Even mini-camp does not disappoint. Well I haven’t been to the big camp, and seriously don’t know if I could do it without my brain exploding. It leaked out my ears with just a couple of days of this…

Oh! And I met and hugged Michelle, who is somehow always the person I get by email or phone when I connect with Schoolhouse. So good to meet her. Egad this is a gorgeous family.

The main thing I learned is that I’ve been knitting color WAY TOO TIGHTLY. And while one can get away with that in a mitten or even a hat or a baby sweater, it’s a little hard to manage, or get the fabric you want or get the results you want when you move to a grownup size sweater (cough, investment).

I was a bit fraught, having decided before climbing into the car that I would pick a sweater and buy the yarn for it once I got to the Schoolhouse. But meeting all these sweaters had me so paralyzed that I couldn’t decide among the half dozen I know I want to knit. I couldn’t even prioritize them. Arrgh!

Bad luck ruled, and the stress of learning, frogging, choosing plus hormones (okay, it was really the hormones) gave me a whopping migraine on the day we all went out to the Schoolhouse warehouse/office. All I managed really to do is load up on the coilless safety pins I can’t knit without and snag a bundle of unspun natural black icelandic (with no idea what I’ll make out of it). I did also snag all the yarn samples, which I fondled all the way home, and which is putting me in still further distress about choosing/choices.

Also, and I’m not making this up… Meg let me walk out with a vest she made that my husband coveted. Just walk out of her cedar sweater storage room, taking it back to the hotel so I could figure out how she did it. She couldn’t remember. It’s a groovy vest, a kind of homage to the baby surprise sweater. Maybe a hippie surprise vest. I worked out a schematic and a pattern, and will either use the icelandic for that or get some different yarn to cast that on in the Fall. It’ll be a fast knit. More on that later too…

So…. NOW what? I’m profoundly inluenced after just a couple of days with these goddesses. No, I didn’t come away with much of my own work, but with a lot of good help and saving suggestions for all my stopped projects, and resolve to practice, practice, practice…

And with a lot of frogged knitting. And with the satisfying feeling (for me) that there is so, so, so much more to learn.

The little child’s vest has been ripped back to the armpits, and all the steeks started again. I’ll explain more about that and why in another post.

The peacefleece tunic is ripped just to the top of the bottom color border, so I can steek the sides to make side vents, or something. Not sure.

c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y ripping back Shoddy to put in the Bateau following the hints on the sweater above….

Plans for the great and glorious Mom Memorial Sweater (MMS) are now really boiling my brains. I’m stuck between wanting to finish and practice more color work on the projects I’ve got, ordering up yarn for and starting the spectacular Morroco Sweater from Latvian Dreams, or sketching and charting the MMS….. hmmm… but really feel I need to get some work and practice in for these before starting them. I may have to order the yarn, though. Just, you know, to encourage me…

The big lesson… to trust your knitting. Like a poem or a piece of fiction, or a painting or a sculpture, you let it tell you what it needs. Mindful knitting. That’s a big takeaway.

More later. More later…

Poetry Blitz

It’s National Poetry Month. And the month is honored starting at midnight when poets and people who like poetry around the world paste up poems in unexpected places for people to find, quite by accident. And so, here is a poem by the amazing Bob Hicok, who sent this to us when my mother died. I’ve printed it entirely without his permission, but in the spirit of the day. So if you like it, go buy a book of his and enjoy so much more…

One of those things we say

My thoughts are with you.

They’re the left sleeve of the white shirt in your closet,
at the far end, away from the other disguises of flesh.

The twist-tie in your ponytail when all else fails.

I am here, weeks of walking away, Ohio and skin
between us, West Virginia and strip mines, I’d hate to count
the rivers, how many other women
with their dying mothers,
their long nights at the picnic table
with stars and the stars of cigarettes again
after so many years of no.

But my thoughts are there and my thoughts
are hands washing the oatmeal pot, taking out the diapers, breath
should come with a warning,


but you would, anyway, breathe.

Breathe and drop a red ball into a lake,
breathe and go to the prom,
breathe and throw a party for the house when the mortgage
has lost its teeth.

And there you are, old.
And as everyone else quits breathing, you keep on.
And then it’s your turn to stop.
And in the second you do, you know something you can’t tell us,
about after, about the story of here.
And your daughter, looking at your face, has no idea
you’re trying to comfort her.

And you have no idea I’m trying to comfort you.

I love how intimate I’ve become with failure.

That leaves, having given up green for brown, sky for earth,
say things when I walk through them.

Gibberish, I think it’s called.

Like my thoughts after six hundred miles of travel,
that shutter banging in wind, that dog
barking at nothing
because every time he’s barked at nothing,
nothing’s gone wrong and why not
keep it that way.