Monday, December 28, 2009

Making plans

Now that Christmas is over it's time to finish up a few WIPs from 2009 and make plans for my knitting in 2010. Don't get me wrong, I still have an abundance of WIPs that need attention, one way or the other, after the first of the year, but I'll get to that later. Some I *will* finish but I think a few will go to the frog pond in favor of more compelling projects. I still intend to knit a few more shawls to give as gifts just as I did for Christmas. The joy of knitting something that I know will delight the receiver is the best kind of elation I know.

Thanks to Ravelry I have at least 3 knitting goals set for 2010. The first is fairly simple and straightforward -- knit 10 items start to finish in 2010. I know I can do this. The next challenge is a bit more daunting -- knit 10 shawls in 2010. Since the term shawl has been loosely defined as projects requiring a minimum of 250M of yarn, with 2 shawls using at least 500M, this goal is not as lofty as it sounds--at least for knitters like moi who use primarily laceweight yarn. All of my Christmas one week "quicky" shawls used between 400-550 yds of lace yarn. I can do this as long as I knit some smaller projects in between the 1000+ yd monsters.

The third goal I have will be my Knitting Olympics/Ravelympics project, to be knit during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in February. It's hard for me to believe that it has been four whole years since I knit my very first lace shawl as a participant in the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics during the Torino Games. Little did I realize then what a lace knitting addict I would become!!! I have not chosen my Olympics project just yet. I am debating between making another shawl or knitting a doily, perhaps a Niebling or Engeln project. I have ~6wks to decide so I have time.

I have one more goal that is mine alone and not influenced by any group I belong to--it is the cabled jacket from the Winter 2009 IK. The yarn I need has arrived at The Yarn Haven and is waiting for after the 1st of the month when my budget will allow me to retrieve it. This may be my most ambitious project ever as it involves things that scare me most, such as knitting a sweater that fits and flatters and using worsted wt. yarn and big needles (US 7, 8, 9?). But I'm smitten in love with the design and I know I can do it if I really try. All my friends at TYH are behind me on this one and have promised much cheering and encouragement. What more can a girl ask for????? Courage! I will do it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Joy of Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a season of Joy, but once you grow up past the kid phase it's sometimes difficult to find true Joy in the season. Once Santa and tinsel no longer cut it then you have to work to find your own kind of Christmas spirit. In recent years I have found the holidays to be rather ho-hum and not especially jolly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking Bah humbug here, I just want a little more Ho Ho Ho in my Holidays. The good news is I think I found it this year.

In the early part of October I found myself feeling a little depressed. I even indulged in a brief pity party. I thought I was justified and I had a decent-sized list of reasons to support my cause. I felt myself falling prey to the trap that is what believers might label "calling others to repentance." I knew it was a trap, but I indulged a little just the same. Not too long afterwards the Spirit sent the Call my way. I got the message: Think a lot less about yourself and a more about others.

In looking around I saw many wonderful examples of this true Spirit of Christ in action, but just one person really stood out for me: Alison Jeppson Hyde. Alison is the author of Wrapped in Comfort, a lovely book of lace shawls patterns knit in mid-weight yarns on moderately large needles.
The patterns are nice, but it is the stories behind the shawls that grab my soul. Each shawl was carefully created from scratch for its intended recipient -- someone whom Alison had come in contact with and felt impressed to knit for. When most of us limit our shawl gifts to only the closest of friends and family, Alison knit for folks she barely knew. She never let the fact that she was severely ill with multiple chronic diseases stop her. Once she felt impressed to knit for a person, that was it. On Alison's blog she tells little tidbits about the people she knits for. It's a feast for the soul, for MY soul.

I have been greatly inspired by Alison's acts of Christian service and have chosen to follow her example beginning with this Christmas. I started small with a few large scarves/small shawls lovingly knit for women who have blessed my life in recent years. You saw a couple of these shawls in the previous post but I've added one more this past week. I can't begin to tell you how fun it is to receive that little whisper of inspiration about who I should knit for and what color, yarn, and pattern I should use. For example, gift #3 needed to be very soft and it needed to be red. No other color would do. Once I knew about the red, then I started to look for patterns in my goodly stash. None spoke to me. Why? Because this shawl had to have hearts in it. When I couldn't find the "perfect" pattern I followed Evelyn Clark's example and designed my own. Let me introduce you to the "Let me Call you Sweetheart" Lace Shawl. The design is still a bit rough and needs tweaking, but it was perfect for it's intended recipient and that's all that matters right now.

I hadn't yet given away the red hearts shawl when learned who I was to knit for next. This one is more challenging because it has to be brown...a color I don't care for and never knit with. My 1st thought pattern didn't work out so I'm on the hunt again. This is so much FUN!!! Watching the faces of these women as they receive their gifts is priceless. I am having the most enjoyable Christmas in a very long time. Thank you Alison!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Love Evelyn Clark

This year I decided to do something I don't normally do...knit Christmas presents for several people who have been especially thoughtful and caring towards me this year. No, I really can't knit something for everyone who has been meaningful to me lately (though I wish I could), but at least a few sweet souls will know that I love them very much. Some folks make most of their gifts, thus something of this nature would not be extraordinary. I am different. Having felt the sting of laboring over a handmade gift only to see it underappreciated on multiple occasions taught me to be excessively selective about such things. As such, I gave only little handmade things or purchased gifts to most folks on my list.

Deciding to be different this year set my mind in a whirl. What to knit that is beautiful, functional, relatively fast, and still expresses my feelings well. That's where Evelyn Clark comes in. I love Evelyn's approach to designing lace shawls. Knitting one of her shawls is a pleasure! So I did some stash diving to find the perfect lace yarns in my stash and patterns to match. I had my first project, the Sand Dollar Shawl, finished in just one week...very fast for lace shawls! I abandoned the thought of knitting a second shawl from the same pattern and splurged on a new design from Evelyn's website--the Icelandic Poppy Lace Shawl. I cast-on 3 days ago and should be finished by Monday at the latest. My body is protesting at the effort but I'm finding so much joy in knitting for others. I can't wait to start the 3rd shawl...whatever it may be :-)

I think this is what one could truly call the SPIRIT of Christmas. Merry, merry, Ho, Ho, Ho!!!