Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year Pillow Cheer

Don’t you just love finding surprise gifts in your mailbox?

Over the holidays we had a bit of a family reunion. Relatives from Southern California made the road trip to the Midwest and we were able to meet nieces and nephews for the first time as many of us had not seen each other for about 15 years. It was wonderful and I do wish we somehow lived closer. It’s January in Chicago...take a wild guess who is willing to relocate right about now?! :-)

In one my chats with my aunt, she mentioned a bright orange Indian pillow cover she had run across from her travels and wondered if it was something I would like. We were gathering at my parents so we had the discussion of my color palates and I described my home as Bohemian Tuscan (my own made up genre). I love the warm spicy tones and intricate detail of most East Indian designs and was all for this addition to my “interior design”. I tried not to have any expectations as to what it may look like and if it would ever make it to the post office. I promptly stored it away in my “isn’t it nice she was thinking of me” memory banks.

Well, when I opened my door this weekend what did find but the pillow cover. And how perfect it is! I had just finished knitting the front of another new pillow cover (backing is yet to be would think that would be the easy part) and it actually picks up the colors of that perfectly. Love the bright yellowy orange. It brightens up the post Christmas blahs and it perfectly fits on the pillow I kept turning over because I didn’t care for it. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, in less than 2 minutes I had transformed my sofa.

Took these pics to include with my thank you note to my aunt. I wish I could be a bit more like my aunt. She thinks of thoughtful things for others and she actually follows through on them. Something to aspire to!

Side Note: Did you know in California they just plant what they want, when they want??? I was asking when was the better time to plant spinach (spring /fall planting here), tomatoes etc and they said you plant what ever, whenever. So lucky! Now any other Californians reading this, let me know if you have also found this. I had always thought you still had “seasonal” plantings.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Knitting….who knew?… I love it!

It is perhaps one of the most relaxing hobbies I have ever encountered. Even when I have to start over, pull apart what I have sometimes spent hours creating (because the stitch pattern isn’t right…or its piece will be too small or too large)….it just makes me smile and I start all over again.

There is something comforting and calming about the rhythm of the needles and the softness of the yarn as I progress down a row of stitching. I would swear I feel my blood pressure drop almost instantly.

Without a doubt it didn’t feel this way when I started knitting. I would tense up, hunch over my needles, with each stitch be terrified I would make a mistake…and what to do when I did make a mistake? Thank goodness my sister, an avid knitter, was nearby to get me started. She unfortunately lives quite far away so when I got home from the inaugural knitting visit I had to quickly find a good knitting store to run to. My local find is The Idea Studio. By the time I was halfway through my first project, a scarf, I began to get a faint glimpse of how relaxing it could be but I surely was not there yet. Still griped in fear I forged ahead loving the pattern my handspun was creating and amazed at what two sticks and a string of wool can create.

By the time I finished that scarf it was more about getting it done rather than completely loving the process. However, I decided that this would be a great way to make some personalized Christmas Gifts for my family (see photo of my Dad’s Christmas Scarf). Feeling a kinship with Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of her hand made gifts on the prairie, I set out to find more yarn. My first yarn, a beautifully handspun caramel and pink creation, I discovered was rather difficult to knit for a neophyte such as myself. Due to its irregularity of thickness and the fact it had incorporated several different strands of yarn onto one, paying close attention was key. Wonderful, but quite challenging.

On the next scarf I quickly realized why it is such a favorite past time. My second yarn was a soft silky and very simple yarn that just required my repetition of motion. I immediately felt the joy of simply knitting.

But I am so grateful to my first skein of handspun yarn because without it I don’t know if I ever would have started knitting. I had purchased it at an art show and as soon as I picked it up I feel in love with it. I had thought aloud that perhaps I could get my sister to make something for me. The yarn artist immediately (but gently) chided me that why didn’t I knit it. “But I don’t know how” I whimpered. She smiled and simply said “learn”. That skein of yarn sat on my dining room buffet for a good year…hmmm…perhaps a year and a half. Each day I would pass by it and often gently stroke it saying “someday I will learn to knit you”. I’m so happy to say that day finally arrived this last summer.
If you are looking for some exceptional handspun yarns please click on the photos of fellow Estians creations. Go ahead, dip you toe into a new experience. We have many long winter months ahead of us and it’s a perfect time to start.

And be forewarned…I have also entered the world of felting my knitting creations and you may see a few of those available in my shop in the near future.