Knitting

Major Milestone Near

I have only around 50 rows to go before I complete the first half of Medea --

She will block to 36" x 45+" for the half -- which will make the whole stole generous, just the way I like them.

Today I downloaded and began the process of learning Knit Visualizer so that I can prepare good charts and a clear pattern for ::: drum roll here:::

A test knitter!

I would like to have someone test knit this pattern. The tester needs to have experience knitting lace and placing beads using a crochet hook. Only the center portion, the Crown of Glory section, has patterning on both sides, so the pattern itself is not terribly difficult. If you think you would be interested, leave a comment.

My husband is off at the state Democratic convention all weekend so I have plenty of time to work on finishing the half and working with Knit Visualizer. And it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so no distractions.

Otherwise, I'd be out in the hammock looking out at this --

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Happiness

Over the weekend I watched BookTV off and on, as is my wont to do on weekends. And I stumbled on to this program featuring Richard Florida talking about his book about why people live where they do. (The link will take you to the BookTV site where you can watch the show as well if you like.) He mentioned that again and again in the literature on happiness that three factors are critical to being happy: the work you do, the person you share your life with, and where you live.

Well, I have been doing work that I love for 36 years now, so I got that part nailed a long time ago. And I am now married to a person who brings me great happiness. 

I moved to Maine first 36 years ago and I have loved it since the first day. The first 29 years, I lived first in rural western Maine and then in and around Portland. Great places. Where I was doing work I loved. But I was not with the right person.

Then I lived for 4 years in suburban Detroit. Where I did work I loved and was with the right person. But I did not love Michigan.

Why the crown?

A friend asked me over the weekend why I chose the Crown of Glory motif for the center. Jason's desire for a crown is at the center, in a way, of the drama between him and Medea. It is the quest fr a crown that leads him to set Medea and her children aside in favor of the daughter of Creon, the King Corinth. And it seems best to represent the victory Medea experiences in her exit and her later life a triumph simply by virtue of having survived.

The look of this center part is quite different from the rest of the stole. There are larger patches of stockinette and the formation of the crowns involves a pretty big hoe in each one. Sometimes I look at it and feel iffy about it, but then again, it also has the look of something of ancient Greece.

What do you think?

The Crown appears

I finally reached the center motif! I spent around 6 hours each thursday and Friday jiggling everything around in charts and finally got it where I want it. So yesterday, I plunged into the center. And here it is --

the first Crown of Glory!


In our neighborhood

The rapidly changing weather of spring in Maine gives us wonderful skies which can change from blue to cloudy in a heartbeat. 

Today the sun comes and goes as these interesting clouds move through.

Outside, the huge old lilac on the front corner of our house is just starting to bloom.

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When I walk out the front door, I am filled with their scent.

It's still early to be planting tomatoes. While the danger of frost has passed, the soil is still not very warm as we have not had many really warm days. So most of our seedlings will be planted in a week or so, near the 1st of June. But we've started buying the seedlings --

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Lots of time thi afternoon and evening for knitting. I am really pushing now on Medea. I hope to be able to show you the beginning of the transition to the center motif by Monday.

There will come...

Sara Teasdale -- There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,


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And swallows circling with their shimmering sound...


Love

I love this yarn. I wish I had bought a lot more of it and now there is none left in colors I like. 

It's so red. And soft. Cashmere, merino and viscose. I am slowed by having to touch it.

I also love how it looks when knit 

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Stitches crisp and soft all at once.

The beads sparkle a little more because they love this yarn too --

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This happens to me sometimes, that I fall  in love with something I make or write. I love the way these stitch patterns and this yarn and Medea are coming together. 

I wrote a fairy tale -- I spent 7 years working on it, writing in fits and starts. Seven years seems in itself to be a fairy tale length of time. I finished it 7 years ago and have recently begun to consider it again. Maybe to see if I can publish it somewhere. Anyway, there are parts of it that I just love, that make me smile and feel the same kind of delight that I feel when I look at how Medea is revealing herself. Because, as with the fairy tale, she seems to creating herself when I stand aside and let her.

Boats are multiplying!

Look at this - the boats are multiplying like rabbits! On the weekend there were 4, in this picture, you'll see 6

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and in the hours since that photo was taken, yet another arrived!

Sunday when I went to the play -- and if you are anywhere near Belfast (the Maine one) this weekend, do see it as it is terrific -- I realized I need a nice summery stole. I have that beautiful white cashmere/linen so I decided to start it in the Spring Mystery pattern. The beads are a pretty mix called Georgia Peach.


I promised knitting...

And knitting it is!

First, I was playing with trying to catch the effect of the late afternoon sun on Medea yesterday. She was on my lap and I liked the way the light hit her. So here is my artsy version of what I saw--

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I like it so much, I made it my avatar on Ravelry -- I am JungAtHeart there, by the way. I have this same red in three other yarns from Colourmart, including some DK silk/cotton I just got. I think I may have enough red for now. But thoughts of purple are sneaking in...

Now, I finished Clue 1 on the Spring Mystery stole. I still wonder if this Yubina cashmere will fluff up when it is washed, because if not, I will have a very wispy stole, not that that would be a bad thing.

The Slow-Bee shawl is also coming along in a nice slow way. I haven't yet finished Clue 1. I am using a mix of red and pink beads, which I am liking a lot. Here you can see how I have doubled the center rectangular panel to give width where needed for my friend. 

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And a slightly wider view --

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I am now hopelessly addicted to beads in lace.

The Demon Factor

Nothing new on the knitting front to show today.

It's gray and rainy --

And I have been thinking still about the sexism and misogyny in this election. It gives me a terrible feeling of sadness accompanied by anger. How can it be that it is still acceptable not only to harbor but to express such attitudes toward women?

I have been heartened that pieces about it have been appearing in newspapers. Earlier this week, as mentioned by The Knitty Professor, was a piece in the Washington Post, Misogyny I Won't Miss.

In it,  Marie Cocco delineates many of the examples of misogyny that we have seen and heard, and probably hardly noted because they form a normal background for us. And, she says,

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

WIPs

So here are the progress notes on the knitting --

I am nearly finished with the first clue for the GoddessKnits Spring stole. I is going to be as light as air when finished because this cashmere is so fine. And knit, the color is even more delicate than in the skein. This photo doesn't catch the beads very wel, but they are there in abundance.

I got a draft of the center motif for Medea charted last night. I am not ready to knit that part but it has felt important to me to work out the charts. I am so in love with this color!


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In fact I like this color so much, I have it in three other yarns -- all from Colourmart as well. Just today I received enough of it in DK silk/cotton to make a nice summer sweater. I have blue yarns and greens, but my eye always travels first to the red. And this, which hasn't even a hint of orange to it, is my very favorite.

The boats continue to arrive -- today there are 4 --P1040119


Friday Fill-In

Until I get photos ready here is 

1. There is absolutely NO way you can get me to sky dive! 

2. Boats in the harbor remind me that summer is almost here! 

3. I cannot live without my MacBook. 

4. Spinning and first flush tea are two things I'd like to try.

5. When life hands you lemons, preserve them.

6. My grandmother's house is my favorite childhood memory.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to knitting, tomorrow my plans include a play and Sunday, I want to write!


Juggling

First I thought you might enjoy seeing how spring is progressing here. Today there are 3 boats moored just below us, a sure sign that summer is coming. The new sprouts of the knotweed have started to grow so soon the old stalks will no longer be visible. The birds love that thicket of stalks so we leave them. I know knotweed is an invasive species, but when confined as we have this patch (which we did not plant), it seems a reasonably good thing.

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I was thinking last night about the days when I was first learning to cook whole meals and what an overwhelming task it was to have everything ready at the same time. Yet today, I don't even think about it and everything is ready when I need it. Somewhere a long the way I learned the art of juggling ingredients and times so that now it is second nature to me and seems effortless.

My knitting is kind of like that. There was a time, waay back when, that I had to knit just one thing at a time because of the level of concentration I needed in order to make what I was attempting. But as I gained experience and skill, that fierce level of focus was no longer required and I began to be able to juggle several projects at once. And in fact, having several at a time seemed overall to facilitate all of them as I could move from one to another as I got bored or frustrated with any given project. It is not a case of short attention span theater for me. For me it is a kind of energy that comes from having multiple options available to keep me inspired by my projects.

Because there's nothing new on Medea...

I'll offer these odds and ends instead.

Yesterday, yes on Mother's Day, I decided to try the recipe for Butterscotch Cream Pie from Martha Stewart. First, you just have to know that I am so far from being a Martha Stewart woman -- I cannot believe how organized one woman can be and my home, though just right for my husband and me, is not even close to the way she lives. But I do like looking at the magazine and sometimes I even try a recipe or two. Like this one. I love butterscotch and think what passes for it in commercial puddings is wholly undeserving of the name. So this looked like it might be just what I hoped for.

Well, let me tell you, it is good! We had enough filling to pour into a couple of ramekins so there is still a little left But probably not for long!

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Martha wouldn't have left that drip of filling on the rim -- see what I mean by not being an MS woman?

I have been gathering beads for the yarn I already have. I discovered mixes and decided to try a couple of them. I just love these -- Gray Diamonds from BeadWrangler. I plan to use them with a deep blue extrafine merino (think Baruffa cashwool) from Colourmart.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is crisp and clear here on the coast --

May 11

I have been thinking a lot about mothering, being mothered, being a mother lately. When I was growing up, more than anything I wanted someday to be a mother. Being married was secondary and mostly a means to become a mother, because in those days  marriage seemed a necessary pre-requisite. My own mother was a very difficult woman so some of my desire to be a mother certainly came from wanting through it to mother myself. 

Mother's Day has never been terribly important to me. I loved when the kids were small and gave me things they had made in school or cards they made. Those things are so very sweet and I still have several of them. My kids, adults now, are generous with "I love you." -- being well-loved, they love well.

So on this Mother's Day, I would like to thank my children for giving me the opportunity to be their mother, for loving me, for providing me with many of the best, and worst, moments of my life, and for continuing to grow with me. 

Now that I know...

Now that I know that we are highly unlikely to have snow or frost, I can get really excited about spring. And I am. Excited.

In my morning photo today you can see the soft green that is coming to the trees --

Better seen here --

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Those are the colors of spring in Maine for me -- that soft young green, the reddening of the buds on other trees and the deep green of the evergreens.

Today we went down to the Farmer's Market. This is just the second week it has been open this season. And in its new location, down on the waterfront, there is more room so more vendors. This year there are several people selling meat and poultry. Today we bought some bacon from organically raised heritage pigs. And we made plans to buy a half lamb later in the year when they are available. And decided we will start buying chicken there also. We have been buying our eggs from there or the Co-Op for a long time now. For the summer anyway, when we don't have to pay for heating oil, we can buy more of our food from local sources. Actually it was a pleasant surprise to see how much was available this early in the season. We got there too late today for fiddleheads.

LEAVES!!

Look at this -- the lilac outside my window has LEAVES!

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I always tell people that we see leaves around Mother's Day. Right now, the maples are blooming and pouring out pollen by the ton -- I know this because even with my medications, I am quite stuffed up. And sure enough, by the weekend, there will be some leaves.

There isn't much to report on the knitting front. I am chugging along on Medea. And the GoddessKnits stole is underway --

I still have questions about this Yubina cashmere. I haven't washed it so maybe it will fluff up then, but it seems fluff-challenged to me. This is the second time I have used it. It is certainly nice to the touch but not very cashmerey.  Anyone have any experience with it?

Ariadne and Aphrodite are nibbling at the edges of my mind for future stoles. Just so you know.

My husband and I hope to get some work done on our garden this weekend. The soil is warm enough to plant beets and sugar snap peas, two of the vegetable we have decided on. We also plan to plant tomatoes and peppers and winter squash in a couple of weeks. We're trying the square foot garden method this year to see if we can grow more in our available space. This year we had a plot around 12'x15' tilled, a bit more than doubling what we planted last year. That seems to be the trend around here -- bigger gardens as a hedge against higher food costs.

Mid-coast morning

Not much to show on the knitting front today. I repurposed -- doesn't that sound like a big deal? -- the yellow Yubina cashmere for the GoddessKnits Spring stole but I just started it so there's not much to see.

It was a lovely sunny morning when I got up -- this is from just before 7 today --

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See how it looks a little hazy? Well, here we are an hour later --


And an hour after that, the fog was gone. 

Summer must be coming because today was the first time they mowed the grass on the Common.

MONKEY MIND

I think my creative process actually draws a lot on monkey mind. I appreciate that some people become monomaniacally engaged by one thing at a time, but that is just not me. As I am working on one thing, my mind is gayly tripping about swinging from one possibility to another, some of which I will later follow in some detail, others of which will simply fall back into the great pool of unrealized possibilities. I am still working along on Medea, now working on the long stretch that leads to the center motif, which has yet to be mapped out. Now there are people who design using elegant drawings and all, but that is not me. I have piles of graph paper and lines going here and there as I try to see what I can do within the space I have to do it in and in the shape I want. This is one of many attempts to see how to transition into the center. I kinda sorta think I have figured it out so tonight I will work on actually making a chart and see.

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Meanwhile, other yarns and other patterns also call me.

She's fiery

I thought that finding the right stitch to represent the columns was hard, but I hadn't dealt with finding the just right stitch for the flames. I tried several, including a couple that I really liked but they looked too much like candle flame. And that's just not Medea. A candle flame is too tame for a woman who rode off in a chariot of fire. Finally I returned to one I had tried and discarded. When I knit more rows in my swatch, I could see it, the curve of the flame and that was it. 

Here she is -- what do you think?

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I am thinking this stole would also work in black with a mixture of beads in red and fiery colors.

Working on the stole has gotten me thinking again about my stalled paper on Medea and feminism. I've been working at it off and on for a couple of years now but I feel the energy to finally finish it. I was complaining to someone the other day that I haven't had a new idea grab me since Medea and he suggested maybe I have to finish with her first before something new can develop. I suspect he is right.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.