Archive of ‘sticks&strings’ category

Currently {1.20.16}

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Doing: attending birthday parties in public places –the idea of which which will never fail to freak me out because: people & conversation. However, I always forget that in this particular group there are also people like me who are similarly freaked out, which is great because misery (and anxious weirdos) love company. We always seem to find each other, and a corner to cozy into, cringing away from the crowd.  Look at this guy! It’s a Mexican Salamander, or Axolotyl. He is a cold-blooded, live-in friend of my corner-companion and her husband. These are the kinds of things we talk about.

 

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Reading: Beautiful Darkness, a thoroughly charmingly illustrated graphic novel that is savage and unsettling and not at all what I expected.  Although I kind of figured out what I was in for by the second or third page.  Beauty, also illustrated by Kerascoet and is supposedly an “immersive”, “dark, feminist parable”; I’ll know more tonight, after I’ve settled in with it!  And lastly (well, not really lastly, I’ve got stacks and stacks of unread books) is Wylding Hall, by Elisabeth Hand.  Here’s the synopsis–doesn’t it sound dreamy?

“After the tragic and mysterious death of one of their founding members, the young musicians in a British acid-folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with its own dark secrets. There they record the classic album that will make their reputation but at a terrifying cost, when Julian Blake, their lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again. Now, years later, each of the surviving musicians, their friends and lovers (including a psychic, a photographer, and the band s manager) meets with a young documentary filmmaker to tell his or her own version of what happened during that summer but whose story is the true one?”

 

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Knitting: Terpsichore Street, by Romi Hill.  This pattern gave me extreme agita around this time last year, and I eventually called it quits and felt like a failure and moped about it for the next year. Well, this year I am attempting it again, and I am seeing that a great many of my issues are directly related to misreading the pattern, misinterpreting the instructions, and making assumptions that aren’t accurate.  So far progress is slow–we’re talking a glacial pace– but I am reading and re-reading and correcting myself every time I go astray. Except for a potentially huge mistake that I made at the beginning…but I think that’s only going to affect the size of the finished shawl, and I’m over that.  I’ll just give it to one of my tinier friends.  Problem solved!

Oh, and what’s that, you ask? Another book?  Yes, you caught me.  This one is Death’s Summer Coat by Brandy Schillace and touches on a subject close to my heart: death awareness and death acceptance.

“Death is something we all confront―it touches our families, our homes, our hearts. And yet we have grown used to denying its existence, treating it as an enemy to be beaten back with medical advances.

We are living at a unique point in human history. People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. Yet we, and our loved ones, still remain mortal. People today still struggle with this fact, as we have done throughout our entire history. What led us to this point? What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar?

Schillace shows how talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers. It also brings us closer together―conversation and community are just as important for living as for dying. Some of the stories are strikingly unfamiliar; others are far more familiar than you might suppose. But all reveal much about the present―and about ourselves.”

 

Listening: Daughter, Not To Disappear. I am happy to report that Daughter’s second album sounds very much like the first, which is to say: lush, beautiful sadness. Hushed, desolate dream-pop. Heartbreak and doom and gentle glooms.  Perfection.

 

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Wearing: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Mother Ghost, from their Crimson Peak line {a cold, sheer white musk gleaming with black orchid, benzoin, labdanum, and blackened amber, and embraced by white rose, tea leaf, and vanilla flower.} This is a pearly, translucent delicate scent that reminds me very much of my lost (discontinued) love, the delicate, gauzy, Antique Lace.

 

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Anticipating: The release of our Occult Activity Book! Co-conspirator Becky Munich and I have been working with several splendid several artists and writers to conjure forth this wicked little book …and for true believers we have concocted a Deluxe pack which includes the 24-page Occult Activity book, two 5×7 color prints and a sticker by contributing artist Casket Glass Studio .

We should have them available for purchase sometime in the beginning of February, but be forewarned! Only 250 of these marvels will be printed, so you’ll want to nab them while they are available on this plane of existence!

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Bonus! Another one from the cutting room floor, from How To Wear A Séance over at Dirge. That dress is utterly killing me.

Yarnomancy

Shapeshifter-shawl

Shapeshifter shawl available from Morph Knitwear

Today over at Dirge Magazine I discuss my own personal “yarnomancy”, and the ritual connectedness of crafting by hand with Morph Knitwear’s Angela Thornton.

Bad-Ass Knitting Magic: Angela Thornton of Morph Knitwear

One of my favorite pieces from Morph Knitwear is the huge, open knit Shapeshifter shawl. (And come to think of it, I probably should add that to my winter uniform!) Curious as to how one might style this wooly behemoth?  I’ve a few suggestions for you, below. As always, click on the image to find more details on the items within each ensemble.

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15 things I knit in 2015

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Photo credit: Annie Stephens (not actually knit in 2015)

2015 was, I’m afraid, the year of several knitting failures.  At the tail end of 2014 I finished my most ambitious project to date, and for whatever reason, it’s been downhill ever since then.  Fearing I would never be able to surpass that glorious achievement, I should have begun ramping up my skill levels by practicing and mastering new techniques; instead, I slowed down and went back to basics. Back to the beginning. 2015 was the year of a lot of socks and scarves, with the occasional simple shawl or cowl thrown in to keep things interesting.


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Pattern: Spiral Cowl. Mostly knit in Portland and the picot edging was a pain…but it was so lovely when finished.  Unfortunately this was lost in the mail and never reached it’s intended recipient.  Major sad face.

 

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Bitteroot.  This pattern is an old friend, which I return to visit and re-work every few years. Sent to a lady who assures me she wears it as a personal talisman.

 

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A basic entrelac scarf.  My first foray into entrelac knitting, which, as it turns out, is not so difficult.  Sent to a brilliant lady in the midwest who shares my intense love of perfumes.

 

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Pattern: Boneyard shawl. Knit up with the remnants of some rustic yarn from Finland. Gifted to a generous, thoughtful woman who is also a cemetery ghost.

 

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The pattern is Rose Red, but I’ve been calling it Strawberry Gothcake, because it looks like a little beret that Strawberry Shortcake’s gothiest gang member would wear.  Sent away to a witchy friend on the other side of the world.

 

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I also forget the name of the pattern for this blurry cowl. (Edit: it’s Ilean)  Send away to the aforementioned perfumed lady.

 

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Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks. Sent away to a friend whose lovely hair reminded me of these mermaid colors.

 

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Entrelac scarf, take two. Knitted for BGF, who was so taken with the first version and the plummy violet of the yarn.

 

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Froot Loop socks in the most technicolor shade. Given away to an exquisite harpy who is half woman, half hair, all awesome.

 

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I knit several pairs of these Dashing Mitts this year. One was lost in the black void along with the cowl above, one now keeps a friend up North safe and warm, and I have no idea wear the last pair ended up. Maybe I only knit two. Hm.

 

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The Iris wrap, knit for a sweet lady whom I would love to join for tea and cocktails and foggy strolls one day.

 

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The Lonely Tree shawl, which is now keeping my favorite deathly librarian warm.

 

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The Steinerscarf, an actual requested knit, and a joy to make.

 

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A simple lace wrap, Shine; the first thing I’ve made for myself in a very long time and the last thing I knit in 2015 – with two minutes to spare.

this, that, and the other thing (xiv)

A small list of amusements and delights and wonders from around the internet over the past few weeks.

How To Grow A Black Garden over at The Live Box Magazine.

 


Future travels include transporting myself into every one of Didier Massard’s photographs.

 

Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place is now on Hulu!  I heard about this weirdness a few months back and never bothered to look into it, but now it’s just too easy.

 

Ukraine-based designer Anna Mo creates super chunky cozy knit blankets, hats, scarves and other accessories that you can find in her Etsy shop called Ohhio. Each piece is handmade using 100% Australian merino wool. Beautiful!

An interview with one of my favorite artists and talented friend, Carisa Swenson over at Rooms Magazine, about her work and process.

 

Dream-land (ca. 1883), an etching by S.J. Ferris after a painting by C.D. Weldon

The Art of Dreams, via The Public Domain Review

 

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I’m a little bit addicted to this tee shirt app http://yoshirt.com/

Here’s to giving up, by Alice Lee “Here’s to celebrating the work that was done instead of constantly worrying about what is to come. I am really bad at that and I would like to get better, if only because thinking the things you spend your life working on lose value ten minutes after they are released is also no way to live.” <—Amen to that!

In Praise of Darkness: Henry Beston on How the Beauty of Night Nourishes the Human Spirit, over at Brain Pickings.

How To Be A Lady In The Streets And A Haunted Clock Tower In The Sheets
“Your bed is nothing if it’s not buzzing with high-pitched screeches that seem to be coming from NOWHERE … yet also from EVERYWHERE. Bonus points if you can open up a mysterious time portal and get some screams from the past in there, too! SpOoOoOoky!” (h/t to Jack, Jennifer, my beardo and everyone else to shared this with me!)

My favorite thing right now is Nihilist Arbys on twitter

Purify Your System With The Seven Day Chili Dog Cleanse over at McSweeney’s

 

 

 

Post cards from the Abyss

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.

Earlier this year I wrapped up my most ambitious knitting project to date.  Unfortunately, since that time everything I have touched has been an absolute disaster.  I have scrapped not just one or two, but three projects because I either could not understand the pattern (which I find incredibly humiliating) or because I have stalled due to some mistake and no matter how many times I rework it, something is still wrong.  It’s all been very disheartening and discouraging.  I am not someone who has to deal with depression issues (though my counselor sister would tell me I’ve had some sort of low-grade depression my entire life), but this situation has really thrown me for a loop and it’s about as close to depression as I get.  I sort of feel like that  shawl was the best I was capable of and it is all downhill from there. What’s the point? &Etc.

I can almost hear people rolling their eyes about this “problem”, but knitting is the one thing I am good at.  And I feel good, knowing that I am good at it.  And lately, well, I’ve not been good at it at all, which makes me feel like a giant loser and kind of like I’ve got nothing to offer the world and I might as well give up on everything, lock myself in my house, crawl into bed and do nothing but eat honey mustard & onion pretzels and sleep for the rest of my life.

Is that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard?  I bet it’s close.

I’m not sure what other folks do when they feel as though they are failing at everything they attempt, but I’ve found that going back to the beginning, starting over with the simplest steps – that’s a good place to be when you are feeling you are the lousiest at things.  And even if you don’t wind up with ground breaking results, you’ve gotten yourself back into the rhythm of an activity you enjoy and you remember all of the reasons you love it in the first place.

I know it might sound a little silly, but those tiny stitches combined with that intricate pattern really takes a toll on a body – both physical and mental. After finishing it, I had been looking for more and more complex patterns to tackle, and maybe what I should have done after completing such a challenging venture was uncramp my knotted fingers, unhunch my twisted back, and relax into the mindless slide and slip of stitches between the needles – something simple, and quick, and that hardly requires a pattern.

In taking my own advice (for once) and doing just that, I bound off the last stitch on the Boneyard shawl yesterday.  Just a simple triangle shawl with some ridges for visual interest, knit up in a lovely rustic yarn that a dear friend brought back from Finland a few years ago – and it’s flawed, don’t get me wrong…  I was three-quarters of the way through before I realized I missed a crucial bit of the instructions and had to start all over again, and then on top of that I didn’t have very much of the yarn left to begin with, so it’s made a rather dainty sized shawl.

But honestly, I don’t care about any of that.  I finally finished something again. I didn’t stop.  I didn’t give up.  Well, I guess I did give up on those other three patterns but I imagine I will revisit them in time. But I didn’t give up on the concept of knitting as a whole, as something I fill my time with, and something that I enjoy immensely. And it’s made me realize the reason that I love knitting so much, and why I might just actually be good at it.  It is the one thing I always go back to, that for whatever reason, I have found that even if I fail over and over and over again, I don’t want to give it up.  I can’t.

I love it because it is something that I can’t not do.  (And coming from one of the most apathetic people on the planet, there is a great deal of importance in that statement.)  I deeply treasure this ability which I cultivated – on my own with no help at all – and it has become so much a part of who I am that it’s little wonder I was so upset a few weeks ago when I was failing endlessly.  I wasn’t just screwing up a knitting pattern, I was having an identity crisis!

This is all very rambling, and probably not at all interesting to people who don’t knit (and barely, I’m sure, to even those who do).  I suppose I was feeling down and wanted to write about it and share and ask for feedback.  What do you do to get back on track with your crafty endeavors when you have a setback?  How do you keep yourself motivated when your results are less than you’d hoped for?  And what are you all working on right now, anyhow?  Talk to me about your successes and failures and how you move forward to do more.

 

Currently…

Currently…

…Digging into Tenebrous Kate’s Forever Doomed ‘zine, a “tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom” and which includes new essays and comics such as “Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl” and ‘Adventures at Maryland Deathfest” (both of which I am very keen to read!) If you enjoy Kate’s blog, which touches on all things dark, fantastical and forbidden, you’d do well to pick up a copy for yourself while they last.

 

…Sniffing my way through Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2014 Yule offerings. I really wanted to love Practical Occultism (“A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.”) But I think my favorite thus far is Chionophobia (“Fear of Snow: A suffocating, oppressive white shroud: a fragrance heavy with ice, strangled by damp oakmoss, artemisia, and muguet.”).  It’s a lightly mossy, white musk that reminds me of being 15 years old and waiting at 6AM on a cold, damp morning for my ride to school.  That’s not exactly a pleasant memory, and I loathed school, but it’s still a nice scent!

Knitting a leftovers blanket.  I’ve years and years worth of little bits and bobs of sock yarn, the amounts that were leftover from a pair of socks and that did not add up to enough to do anything useful or interesting with.  I recently stumbled upon this blanket using up these leftover bits as wee mitered squares and became inspired to do the same myself.
Knitters –  I have a favor to ask, and I don’t normally ask for favors, so I hope you will indulge me. Do you have any leftover sock yarn that you know you are never going to do anything with? I’d love to incorporate it into the leftovers blanket that I am currently working on. It would also be neat to have little pieces of friendly, generous folks knit into this thing. Er, well. That’s a little creepy. Which is just perfect for me! Do let me know! I know I am asking you to drop something in the mail, which costs a bit of postage, so I understand if it’s not something you are able to do. But if you are…I would really appreciate it, and it would make the project extra meaningful.  Drop me a note at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com if you are interested in helping out.

…Cooking all of the things!  I am not sure if I am finally shaking off the laziness and lassitude of the holidays or what, but I’m much more inclined to putter around in the kitchen than I have been the last few months.  Over the weekend I made not one – but two! – suppers -and for someone who is firm believer in dining out all weekend long because somehow she came to believe that’s what fancy people do and she likes to pretend she is fancy – that’s no small feat..  Sunday night saw us simmering Baby Lima Beans in Chipotle Broth from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking (but you can find the recipe online here) and on Saturday we made Giada De Laurentiis’ oricchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese – which is a simple but incredibly tasty one-pot meal.  Also, both vegetarian, if you care about such things.

What are you up to these days, in your part of the world?

small kindnesses

I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years.  I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born.  Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I?  Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.

I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger.  I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose.  It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process.  I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time.  I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop.  Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.

I think about it though, every now and then.  Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.

One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers.  It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired.  I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture.  It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.

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‘Clapok-tus shawl for P.

And so it has been over the last two years.  Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me.  Ah!  This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality!  Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe!  Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.

It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it?  And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things?  I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first.  A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.

Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years.  It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits.  And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow.  I hope to continue this practice for a long while.  Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.

‘Fetching’ mitts for B.

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‘Song of the Sea’ cowl for C.

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Sari silk scarf for E.

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‘Lenore’ socks for M.

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‘Dashing’ mitts for E.

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‘Hanging Gardens’ shawl for L.

 

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‘Charade’ socks for L.

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‘Celestarium’ for L.

‘Ilean’ cowl for T.

‘Herringbone’ scarf for B.

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‘Imagine When’ shawl for A.

‘Blackjack’ shawl for A.

‘Evenstar’ shawl for A.

 

 

This, that, and the other thing (III)

Seems like lately everyone is jumping ship over at facebook; enter ello.  Marketed as “…a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”, it’s shaping up to be a lovely solution. The design is simple, clean, uncluttered and though there may be a few bugs to work out (it’s still in beta) and it’s a bit quiet over there while users are figuring it out – I really can’t wait to see how it grows. Do be sure to stop by and say hello!  I am mlleghoul, of course.

 

Has the season got you longing for some genuine terror in your life?  This kickstarter project might be exactly what you need.  CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is “a magazine sized anthology of horror comics about demonology & exorcism.” with contributions from nine of independent comics’ unique creators who have come together to frighten you with something new. “CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an attempt to use comic book storytelling to push those boundaries further still. An anthology of tales of exorcism and demonology, it’s larger and longer than a traditional comic, reminiscent of the horror magazines of the 1970s.”

 

THE DIATOMIST is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

“Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science. THE DIATOMIST, by Matthew Killip showcases his incredible work. “

 

Can you imagine these glorious horrors stalking and slashing down the runway?  From Alice Auaa 2014-2015 F/W runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Japan.

More delightful sartorial oddities from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear – Collection

 

Two seasonally appropriate 8tracks mixes: All of them Witches & It is something I have long known (inspired by Robert Aickman’s eerie short story “Into the Woods”.)

Full of stars

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I recall seeing this pattern (“Celestarium“) published in an online knitting magazine a year or two ago, and though I thought it was a neat idea to capture the constellations in a knit to sweep across one’s shoulders, I honestly wasn’t moved enough by the pattern itself to want to knit it.

However,  when a certain knitter made some excellent modifications to the pattern (lose the yarn-overs, swap out the edging for something a little fancier) I certainly took notice.  This was a shawl worth knitting, I thought.

I won’t say this was a light-hearted, mindless knit (though it is a great deal of monotonous stockinette); it certainly gave me an issue here or there.  First with the really fiddly cast-on: a circular cast on is tricky enough, but when you add beads in to the mix it becomes twice as challenging. My circular cast on is pretty flawed, as you can see, but I can’t be bothered with absolute perfection. I like a little bit of wabi-sabi in my knits.

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Up until now I had left the beads off all of my knitted projects – I was much too intimidated to give it a try.  And after finishing Celestarium, I realize it is really quite simple!  I think there are a few ways to do this, but I place each bead on the yarn as I knit along, using a tiny crochet hook. There are a few videos on youtube that do a pretty good job of showing the way.

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I had been knitting steadily on this, a bit every day (whilst binge-watching Hannibal…oh what a lovely, baroque, grotesque show!) and in time I finally reached the bit of the pattern where the edging is begun.  It slowly dawned on me that I am 2/3 through my last skein of yarn…and there may not be enough to complete the project.  At this point I am prey to the most dangerous kind of wishful thinking, “oh yes, yes, I am going to make it, there is enough yarn& etc.”…and as a friend perfectly summed up…watching the yarn run down as the project grows is like playing the *slowest* game of chicken. And you will always lose.

Of course, I am a terribly loosey-goosey knitter and never knit to gauge (gauge swatches? pffft!!) and it was inevitable that I did indeed run out of yarn. If you are the same sort of …hm…freespirited(!) knitter, and you are knitting with modifications, I might suggest ponying up for an extra skein of whatever yarn you are using. Luckily, it was easy enough to find more of what I needed and though I know it was a different dye lot, I can’t tell the difference at all.

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And so, with very little fanfare I finished Celestarium after watching a movie about moon Nazis last evening, around midnight.  This morning I woke with the sun, gave her a soak and pinned her out, and that is that.

To what far reaches will this starry space babe travel?   I wonder….

Details:
Pattern: Celestarium, by Audrey Nicklin
Yarn: 3 (and very little of a 4th) skeins of Madelinetosh merino light in “dirty panther”
Needles: I switched back & forth so many times, I cannot remember. Sizes 2-4
Started: March 28, 2014
Finished: June 7, 2014.

 

A year’s mourning

I can’t believe that it has been over a year since I lost my poor little Inkers.  At that time I started knitting a shawl to help me through my grief; I thought a memento, something beautiful and tangible to remind me of her would be a nice thing to have, and the end result can be seen below.  Afterward, I sent it to a lady friend on the other side of the country. It was the soothing, intimate process that I needed, that helped me focus on a task instead of dwelling on a loss.  Once finished, though it was an item I was quite proud of,  I found I didn’t need it at all.

Pattern is “Bitterroot” by Rosemary Hill from Knittyspin Winter 2009. Started May 28th. In loving memory of Inkers. 1999-May 28th, 2010.