Detroit, Anyone? I did not take my knitting . . .

Yes, we chose Detroit for a little R & R.  Why, you might ask?  Here are a few reasons.

“One of the most beautiful homes on Airbnb. This is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom historic home in one of the most beautiful, one of a kind neighborhood of Detroit. Woodbridge is in Midtown, and a mile from most of Detroit’s finest sights, art, and stadiums. My wife and I are in Greece for at least six months helping refugees and your stay is our only revenue keeping us there. Thank you!”

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A DC Opportunity Leads to a Knitter’s Reflective Moment

As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move.  (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)

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Sweet Boyfriend Sweater and its Unlikely Source for Inspiration

A retirement gift, a plaque from the District where I worked, beckons me.  It is as if it can talk and recall; that plaque with the Varsity letter.  I hear students’ voices, excited anticipation in the air, their endless desire for learning.  It speaks my tongue and reminds me about lesson planning into wee hours.  It sounds with the hustle bustle of school life:  hallways all abuzz, meetings with teachers and/or parents, the frustrations voiced and the sharing of successes of each day.  One glance at this wall plaque of mounted school letter and personalized engraved plate, now hanging on a wall in my yarn room, does all of that every time I look at it.

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It’s Not Just About the Sweater

Part of why I write a journal is to reflect upon my knitting.  I find thinking about a finished project quite satisfying and informative.  It helps me to improve my knitting skills to think what went right as well as what went wrong with either the process and/or the finished project.  Viewing photographs of me in my knitting is also helpful to know what styles and designs look best on my shape and to compare what I see with how I feel about a particular garment.  This also drives future pattern decisions.  The reason why I write online is to share these thoughts thinking/hoping readers may learn from these experiences, as well.

Another reason why I write is to reflect upon the sites hubby and I travel to for our photo shoots.   There have been many.  I catalog these places on a page I call Fashionscape, here in The Blog.  Since this particular photo shoot also served as a trip down memory lane, I am writing about it here, too.  We continue to choose places that hold some kind of significance to us and this last photo shoot was no different.  Here we are at Chautauqua Institution, the furthest we have traveled yet for a photo shoot, officially closed for the season, however open for travelers who want to walk the grounds during the day.  Many of the cottages were covered in tarps, construction workers dotted the place doing off-season repairs, and you could see evidence of changes that are being made to the main structures of the institute.  In fact, you really needed to watch your step due to fallen debris of repair work.

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The Rhythm of Retirement

Some beliefs:  I believe setting goals for first year retirement is very important as doing so is evidence of self-direction and provides purpose, process, and production.  I believe there are a number of stages within the retirement phase of life.  I believe the very first stage of retirement is long before retirement actually begins.  I might call it the ‘Preparation Stage’.  These beliefs are firming up in my mind.

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Fashionable Knitting takes a Historical Turn

History Lesson One

We learned that ER placed her yarn in a basket that was lined with  silk-like fabric as we might use a yarn bowl, however the extended fabric protected her clothing from the yarn fibers.

The other review I wrote for the Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo was about a presentation called Eleanor Roosevelt:  History of Knitting given by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic local historian, Ann Colopy.  The talk was mostly a biographical sketch of Eleanor Roosevelt, both her private life as well as her public persona.  According to our speaker, Eleanor found great solace in knitting as therapy but also sought outreach programs in which to make her knitting meaningful and purposeful for someone.  I believe the guild invited her to hear of A First Lady’s knitting needs, desires, influences, and aspirations but also the lecture and lecturer invited us to become reflective and consider our own practice, how our surroundings and/or time in life impacts our knitting.

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ON the Runway, 2015

From couch to runway…  Well, let’s just say I have always been a private knitter.   For years I’ve knitted right here in my house, wherever it might be, in the location that was designated by the family as Holly’s knitting spot, and pretty much under the same lamp that has traveled with us from one location to another.  The lamp itself blinks due to age or an ill kept electrical connection and we need to turn over the cushion of the seat often to prevent the sag that ultimately is formed.  I do not belong to a knitting group (currently, but that could change) as I’m too tired after life’s responsibilities to find and get to one and I do not take my knitting with me when I travel or to work.  Teaching does not allow time for knitting (what the heck job does?) and I like travel time to be reflective in nature.  These are the habits that I’ve developed and we all know that people are creatures of their own habits.

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Inspiration as Guide

Anyone out there having the challenge of choosing their next knitting project?  I used to  have the conundrum about four times a year, every time I received a new Vogue Knitting in the mail.  And, I thought I was inundated with choice, then!  Now, with Ravelry, social networking, and independent designers both far and near and accessible to the masses,  the choice nowadays really is overwhelming!

I have written about this before, the criteria for choosing the next project (see below).  In reviewing my own list, I have come to realize I left something out.

  • immediate excitement of pattern or construction of a project
  • challenging in some way
  • can be paired with existing pieces in current wardrobe
  • has a purpose or becomes a focal point
  • must be a style that works for me
  • original and hopefully not able to be found in a clothing store

Inspiration, I left out inspiration.  Somehow, when I am perusing patterns, I notice I am talking to myself.  (In teaching “workshop methodologies”, the gurus call it eavesdropping on one’s thinking).  I am thinking… does the pattern remind me of something / someone / somewhere?  Does it bring back a memory?  Is the color / style reminiscent of a garment of long ago?  Does it speak to my emotional being in some way?  The second I saw the equestrian vest in Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2010 designed by Mari Lynn PatrickI knew this project would find itself into my wardrobe.

It was 1965 when I was introduced to, what I now call, my heaven.   Is this not the cutest picture?  I am the “equestrian” in the middle.

1965 - age 7

A camp.  A horse backriding camp that I would return to for the whole of my entire childhood, about one hour away from where I was living, and to the place I feel I learned how to ride horses (the obvious), but also how to grow socially and emotionally.  Set in the rolling hills of Western New York, Camp Sprucelands was a haven for making friendships, developing an understanding of animals and their needs, and growing one’s independence.  Every summer for years and years, I would return, counting the days till I got there, kicking and screaming going home for the then upcoming school year.

Below, is my first blue ribbon.  (first place for you non-equestrian folks)

first blue ribbonb

A camp for the striving equestrian, boys and girls learned how to ride horses, English or Hunt Seat, and to take care of them.  We were called horse masters and if we were really lucky, we were invited to be part of such things as drill teams and show teams.  That led us to the barns at privileged times such as 4:00 in the mornings (and that is a good thing) and back to the barns in the evenings.  Activity centered around such tasks as bathing horses, braiding manes and tails, and saddle soaping leather goods.

saddleb

Below, circa 1967.  Looks like a horse show with my number tied to my waist…

1967b

Below:  teenager.  But, I do wonder where my hard hat is.

age 13ishb

Again, in horse show garb…

jumpingb

I was proud to represent the camp at a local County Fair.  You can see the horse’s mane braided, below.

Erie County Fairb

So, when I turned to that pattern and saw the beautiful model in her jodhpurs in that barn with her stylish Equestrian Tunic, I knew that would be me… again!

Then…

happy at campb

and now.

IMG_3019

Let inspiration be your guide as you surf the net, explore patterns, and attempt to choose YOUR next masterpiece.

Cable Snake

IMG_2811_medium2

I am so excited to finally be able to share one of my latest finished projects with you and am equally excited to be able to slip on a pair of boots as my foot has made considerable progress in its healing this last week!  It would be easy, of course, to stand in some corner of the house to take pictures of these knitted projects but I always become inspired by a pattern’s design and begin creating a narrative as I knit.  Also, I realize how perfect these photo sessions are for the continuation of a memoir.  Maybe I am a romantic, but knitting is far more than a finished garment to me.

Designed by Tiny Owl Knits, this is a yoked pullover with stitches picked up under and around that yoke in which to form cables that continue around the body.  The cables evolve into a wonderful snake-like pattern near the hem.  I love the uniqueness of the design and, as one knits, one can’t appreciate enough the delicious yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino in its softness and its color.

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Addendum to Yarn Bombing

Words from a recent email:  “Dad says, check out the Cinelli.  He changed the bars back to the original Cinelli bar and stem – he wrapped the bars himself and remembered how!  He chose to save the beautiful Record levers.  He rode the bike 20 miles Sunday in a little better than an hour and is happy with that.”

Can’t help thinking if my hubby’s recent explosion of effort may have been inspired by this… Check it out!

my tools…

his tools…

my end result…

his end result …

Now, was I inspirational or was he simply scared I might do this?

NOTE:  The Cinelli frame was a gift to my husband from his son near thirty years, ago.  The frame represents the love of the sport they share as well as offers a generational keepsake for familial bike lovers yet to come.