“Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly.” – Van Morrison
When visiting Sherry Galey’s online home, Still and All, she had posted this soul stirring poem. I couldn’t help but be completely smitten. With the need for wanting to share, I’m repeating that beauty right here, for you:
…He says it doesn’t matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn’t matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
One more item of wonder for you, Why Leaves Turn Colour in the Fall.
And finally, for some heartfelt inspiration. My son told me about this video that was taken in downtown Edmonton (where I’m from and where he lives). It’s a homeless person, as will be evident when you see the video. Inside everyone is something special.
PS: I have been busy knitting, in addition to all kinds of other things of course. I’m knitting items to give away at Christmas and, since most of my family do check in here, I can’t tell you what I’ve been making or show the finished items here. If you’re on Ravelry though you can check me out (Ramonasgirl). I’m also quite pleased with myself because the current project required me to learn how to use magic loop. Sure beats using double pointed needles!
“If you make a mistake, celebrate.” ~Benjamin Zander
You’d think I’d begin setting specific days or dates that I should post to my online journal, but life really does get in the way. That’s not a bad thing to get in the way. So, as promised, I’m finally going to share with you comments about some of the books I’ve read of late.
I had to look to see which were the last books I mentioned and, after looking it up, see that I am further behind than I thought. Well, there is definitely one book I read for our book club since then that I DO NOT recommend (The Dinner by Herman Koch) but the ones I read after that certainly made up for the less-than-desirable ones.
First up is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s not unusual for me to recommend books that are often rated as Young Adult and this would fall into that category, but don’t tell all the adults who have been enjoying this novel. If you enjoy a good story, well told, about a serious topic and with a good dose of reality tossed in, this one might appeal to you. I laughed and cried and am so glad I read this one. You might too.
Cutting for Stone. I read this for our book club and was actually looking forward to it. The story had me from the beginning and never let go. For me, this would fall into the category of one of my all-time favourite novels ever. I can never pick just one book as a favourite but I have a very discriminating list (it’s short) of novels that fall into this category and Cutting for Stone is comfortably in that realm. Rich, well written, intelligent, and loaded with culture and tidbits of history and a good dose of medical interest. Sure to please the person who appreciates a fine literary novel.
A wee update. As I mentioned, I’ve been working at making a switch from American knitting style to Continental knitting. It’s going quite well — better than I had anticipated. I just finished making a hat to practise my skills in continental knitting. The only problems I’ve had were getting a handle on the tension and at the end of the project I found it really awkward using the DPNs (double pointed needles). I’m sure it’ll get easier the more I do it so I’d consider myself officially switched to Continental! Imagine the possibilities.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family here in Canada. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with friends. I’m immensely grateful for recovering so well from my stroke, for my family, my caring friends, for everyone who rescues and cares for abused and abandoned animals, and for all the hard working market gardeners and folks who raise feed animals in such a humane and sustainable manner. I’m grateful to you all.
May you all live in a world of possibility. If you’re interested in that concept (living in a world of possibility) take a mere 30 minutes of your day to watch this inspiring talk by conductor and leader Benjamin Zander. Oh, I know, 30 minutes seems like a long time (but you should see the transformation in the 15 yr old cello player). But the 30 minutes I spent watching and listening has transformed me, truly. These principles apply to every aspect of our lives. He is one inspiring individual — I’ve been playing with one buttock since watching this.
“For most people success is measured in wealth and fame and power. For me, success is measured by how many shining eyes are around me.” ~Benjamin Zander.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Elizabeth Zimmermann
“It is a peculiarity of knitters that they chronically underestimate the amount of time it takes to knit something. Birthday on Saturday? No problem. Socks are small. Never mind that the average sock knit out of sock-weight yarn contains about 17,000 stitches. Never mind that you need two of them. (That’s 34,000 stitches, for anybody keeping track.) Socks are only physically small. By stitch count, they are immense.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
I finished! This Nae shawl is one I made for myself. I knit it with two yarns held together and the resulting fabric is so squishy and warm. I love it. Look at all those tiny stitches — thousands of them. In fact, after knitting all those little stitches, I’ve made a decision — difficult as it may be in the beginning. I plan to change the style of knitting I have learned. For those who don’t knit, there are different ways of knitting and each has their own set of pros and cons. Well, I learned the English method also known as “throwing”. It’s more time consuming and can be irritating to shoulders. My shoulders know I’ve knit all those little stitches. I’m going to teach myself how to use the Continental method of knitting. It’s going to be awkward and slow while I’m learning but I’m determined to make the switch. When I watch others using this method it’s much more fluid and far more efficient, not to mention quicker. I’ve already got a nice rhythm and am very comfortable with the English method but I can see how it’s going to wreak havoc on my shoulders eventually.
Another bit of knit news. Some of you may remember when I ordered those darling shell stitch markers. I’ve ordered another set as a gift for someone so while I was visiting one of my favourite spots on Etsy (I love buying from Etsy sellers), I saw Lavender Hill Knits also made these beautiful Japanese knot bags. Knitters buy them to use as project bags. My lovely sister-in-law had already gifted me with a hand-sewn and fantastic large size project bag that I use for housing all my knitting paraphernalia – thanks Lynda. I was wanting a small project bag that I could cart around from room-to-room and place-to-place with whatever project I’m currently working on. My order arrived today and how fantastic and exciting. One thing I love about buying from Etsy sellers is their attention to detail and pride in what they make. Not only are the stitch markers and this reversible bag outstanding in the workmanship but the wrapping, the wee little ‘gift’, and handwritten note make me feel like it’s Christmas in October.
Okay, so enough knitting news — for now. I promised to do a post about a couple of books I recently read. That will be next for sure. Wish me luck on learning a whole new way of knitting. It’s going to be awkward, slow until I get the hang of it, and quite likely a tad confusing. But I am determined.
Do you have a favourite Etsy shop? Care to share?
Have you ever had to switch gears on something you’ve done? Or completely re-learn how to do something in a different way?
Recently on Flickr, where I share the occasional photo, a lovely acquaintance of mine, Sherry Galey, asked me the question, “How would you recommend a novice start off? I do know the basic stitch but that’s it!” I was going to send Sherry a private email but then I thought this might be something more people might want my answer to, so here goes.
As most of you are aware the reason I took up knitting at the end of January was as rehabilitation to improve my fine motor skills after having a stroke. Well, not only did it help me with my fine motor skills in my hands and fingers but it also managed to get me hooked on knitting!
I did register for and attend a local learn-to-knit workshop. I have to tell you that it was not at all what I had expected and I learned far more by going online and scouting through video tutorials on YouTube. No kidding. Some videos are better than others but the advantage to the videos, when they are well done, the person shows you slowly and in easy to understand terms. For those who, like Sherry, already know the basic knit and purl stitches, here are the tutorials or people who give tutorials that I highly recommend (see below). But before I leave you with those links, I’ll add a few more thoughts.
You need to want to learn and are willing to be an attentive student – seems obvious but attitude is everything. I recommend starting by committing to an easy first project. It could be a scarf, a hat (yes, you can make a hat), or perhaps a cowl or shawl. I would consider each of those as ideal projects for learning. My first project was a hat. While you are working on a project you will learn and most likely will need to watch a video or two to help you get through. The other thing I feel is so important in learning to knit is learning to read a pattern. For me, that was one of the more confusing aspects but after working through that first project, I realized it’s not as difficult as I once thought. And with each project afterwards, your skills in knitting and reading patterns will improve — it’s a good feeling.
And, if after you complete your first project, you want to do more, I have another recommendation. Join Ravelry. It’s a free knitting and crochet community where you can join groups (some are local) and talk to other knitters (including newbies like you), get answers to questions, join help forums, and get all kinds of free patterns! I am RamonasGirl on Ravelry – join and add me as your friend.
Every single time I ran into a problem with my knitting whether it was how to fix a mistake, how to do a particular stitch, how to do a different cast on or bind off, or any of the other many things that seemed impossible to me, I went to the computer and searched for a solution. There was always an ideal video available to show me the way. I still use those videos.
You have no idea that joy of completing a project. I’m proud of myself because I’ve made something with my own hands. It always feels so soft and squishy to the hand plus [excuse the cliche] that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Even when I knit something with a few mistakes (like my recent Multnomah shawlette), I still love it and what a feeling of accomplishment. It’s relaxing, almost meditative, and the hand feel of the finished project is like nothing else.
Right now I’m knitting a Nae shawl and what a treat to sit and work on it. The yarn feels amazingly soft as I work with it and the resulting fabric (I’m just over half finished) is absolutely sensational. This is going to be knock out. I then plan to begin knitting the gifts I plan to give my son and grand daughters for Christmas. Oh, and if I have one single tip when learning to knit it’s this: only knit one project at a time. Finish one and then begin the next, don’t try to knit multiple projects at once, especially when you’re beginning. If you don’t get that positive reinforcement from completing a few projects first, you may not continue.
I hope this has been helpful for those of you who are thinking you may like to give knitting a try. Don’t forget, I’m still a beginner myself but I hope that my experience at getting started may be of some benefit to those wanting to also learn to knit.
“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This is another scent that I associate strongly with autumn. Even when we lived on the prairies, apples always arrived in autumn and neighbours always had them falling from their backyard trees. I remember the neighbour across the street from my mom — his name was Ed — always shared bagfuls of his apples with her. She couldn’t let anything go to waste and knew she’d never eat them all so her solution was the best. She painstakingly peeled every one of those tiny apples, cored and sliced them, made batches of pie dough, and spent hours on her feet in her cramped kitchen making apple pies. They were the best. Funny how the smell and thoughts of apples bring on such warm and luscious memories.
From my kitchen window and also from our backyard, I have full view of the giant maple tree belonging to a neighbour two doors over. It eventually turns a brilliant red with hues of saffron and gold intermingled amid the crown of leaves. But what I love the most about that tree is that it begins to lose it’s leaves early and bit-by-bit, a single leaf at a time until maybe a month or more from now it will still be losing leaves but they’ll begin floating down in masses. As each one is released it flutters butterfly-like and then takes on a swinging zig-zag fall all the way until the leaves rest upon the other neighbour’s roof, various yards and driveways, including our back yard. Today I found one single leaf from that tree – the first of many to come. I’ll be watching, or rather I’ll be mesmerized as I witness many of those leaves in the coming weeks as they swing and sway their way down.
The season is ripe; the leaves soon will be wild and free.
Tell me what memories, thoughts, sights or smells you relish at this time of year. I’d really love to know.