Saturday, April 29, 2017

Romantic Soul Shawl

There's just something about Springtime that beckons to my romantic nature, causing me to pick up my crochet hook and create something light, airy, lacy and feminine. This fresh time of year with all it's full flowers and blossoming romance is made for dreamers and lovers and beautiful things like lacework shawls.
So I set aside my knitting needles from time to time, even though they always have works in progress on them as well, and reach for a crochet hook so I can feel the slick glide of ebony wood and lace weight fiber gliding through my fingers to create delicate articles that will feed my old soul. After all, Crochet was my first love even before I held my first set of knitting needles.
I made the body of this shawl using hand painted merino wool in shades of blue with a touch of delicate green and used a very soft white lace weight wool for the edging. I must admit that I had a struggle with myself for a couple of days...
Every single stitch of this was pure bliss for me. It was therapy for my soul. At no time, however, did I have the thought of keeping it for myself. I am years past that battle. I've been selling my handwork far too long for that. Then I wrapped it around myself after it was blocked and my sister came to take the photos for me. Well.... blue is a good color for me... I never make anything for myself...
the voice of my sweet sister, "Danette, it really does look good on you"...
 maybe just this once...
My wayward heart nearly won out. But then I remembered, as I always do, I have the ability to make another one anytime I want to. So....
You can find this one on my Shop here 
If you're like me and the whisper of lace moving ever so gently against your skin sings a song your soul recognizes, then you understand that momentary pull on my heart towards keeping it for my very own. I have to say though, I am certain I created it for someone very special. Someone who will experience all the same beauty and magic I did the moment I settled it around myself. I get a feeling about particular pieces while I'm working on them and once they're completed. I know they are destined for a lifetime journey with a special heart and soul.
That's why, no matter how much I love them, I let them go. I wrap them with care and send them off with a prayer for the recipient and thankfulness in my heart to God that I am blessed by the pleasure it gives me to make the things I make and that others are, hopefully, blessed by the use of them. Then I pick up my hook and needles and create anew.

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Sonnets

Saturday, April 15, 2017

With the Coming of Spring

I enjoy the gradual shift my knitting takes into softer work as Winter dies away once again and Springtime comes gently into bloom around us. While the air outside becomes warmer, the fiber I work with is lighter to keep pace. I love this time of year because it brings back to us bright blue skies streaked with white puffy clouds that float around on breezy days and all the earth returns to green with colorful flowers and trees full of white or pink blossoms.
One of my favorite things to do is walk around town
underneath the canopy of these trees as they sway back and forth,
sprinkling the sidewalks and lawns with a profusion of petals.
I wait for these moments
  and see them in my dreams all through the cold barren months.
When Spring finally appears, I rejoice in the fact I can gather my knitting and cup of tea and sit on my porch swing again to revel in this glorious time of rebirth.
It's funny how every single Spring is so fresh that it feels like it must be the very first Springtime ever.  I'm as happy as the birds singing in the trees and all the little creatures running merrily around the yards,
as I emerge from another long Winter of hibernation.
 I have always known this about myself:
when the days get warmer I feel more alive.
 I am also at my calmest with my knitting close by.
 During the Springtime my knitting needles are usually busy at work
on bunnies of some fashion.
These are a couple of Floppy Eared Bunny Hats
I recently made for a custom order using the same
Knit Picks Organic Cotton I used to make the Bunny Hat with the stand up ears.
The hats are worked in the round on circular needles but the moss stitch ears are done flat on straight needles. I love these needles! They are from Knit Picks also. They're the 10" Straight Sunstruck.
I love the whole Organic/Vintage vibe they have going on.
And as I've said before,
I can't get enough of the Organic Cotton,
especially this time of year.
I never get tired of working with it and it makes perfect baby items.
It's absolutely beautiful as it glides along those blonde knitting needles.
 There's just something about having a whole stack of soft cottony goodness
all piled up together straight off the needles too...
I always like to let it rest for a bit so I can stand back and admire
the entire heap before I construct it into the final project.
But then it's time to sew it all up and ship it off
because there's a customer waiting and more things to be made.
Sometimes more bunnies around the corner.
Miss Bunny was actually already on my Shop but I had a customer contact me last weekend and ask if I would change her eye color to match her nursery.
Her eyes were green before.
I said, "Yes, of course, I would be happy to do that for you!"
So I did and Miss Bunny found herself a new home early this week.

I pray this Easter weekend finds you all happy and healthy,
enjoying your loved ones and Praising God
for the many blessings of another new Spring
and the glorious work of our
Risen Savior.
"With the coming of Spring,
I am calm again."
Gustav Mahler

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring, The Time of Plans and Projects

"Spring is the time of plans and projects."
So said Leo Tolstoy in his classic novel Anna Karenina.
Several Springtime's have passed since I read that hefty tome, which I found deeply moving on so many levels of human emotion. Then there were those times it offered small tidbits that were simply straightforward, practical and ageless, like the reality that for most of us Spring really does seem to be the time of
plans and projects.
I think it must be because, just as the earth around us, we find ourselves awakening once again, stretching our Winter weary limbs and blossoming with new growth. The Spring rain washes over us, bringing with it the scent of anticipation and excitement of all the greenness and bright color we are on the verge of experiencing, as though we've never known it before and at the same time have never been without it.
Ahh ...
Springtime ...
I love it!
For many of us it is the time we plan family trips and visits and sometimes quick weekend getaways due to the fact the weather has finally turned lovely. We begin to make our plans well into the Summer and early Autumn months. There will be Spring and Summer holidays and weddings sprinkled here and there as well. Back yard barbeques and lots of family and friends to laugh and enjoy the longer days of sunshine with. Doesn't it just make you happy to plan it all out in your heart?
Then there are always the projects...
This time of year always finds me working on some type of bunny project.
Over the many years I have been knitting these hats with bunny ears I've used a few different fibers and liked them all, however the last couple of years I have finally decided I prefer them knitted in Knit Picks Organic Cotton the very best. For one thing it's organic and for baby skin especially I think that is always an excellent idea. It is super soft and has no dyes or chemicals of any kind.
It also has enough body to it to make those ears stand straight up.
It eliminates any wool in the fiber against delicate baby skin
but is still an all natural fiber.
 I do sometimes work with blends that have a little synthetic in the mix but, generally, I prefer an all natural fiber, whether it's plant or animal sourced.
The Organic Cotton also makes a beautiful little "cotton tail" pom-pom.
I just love that finishing touch!

Although it's Springtime,
I oftentimes knit off season due to the fact I am filling custom orders.
I actually enjoy this because it keeps me all over the place in my day to day work, ensuring that I never get bored
{as if I could get bored with knitting or crocheting!}.
I recently shipped off an order to a customer out of state who wanted
some pumpkins knitted in the colors of Auburn University.
So, in March when I am usually elbow deep in all things bunny
I was knitting and stuffing pumpkins.
The order was for a half dozen. Three in each color.
I always knit my pumpkins in a double thickness of 100% Wool and stuff them within an inch of their lives {or my life...}.
The wool used for these was Cascade 220.
These plump pumpkins found their way to their new home last week and now I am finally putting the second sleeve in this lacework sweater that I had set aside for several weeks. I was able to let it wait because the customer who ordered it doesn't actually need it until early Fall.
This photo shows the first sleeve. Today's project is to finish the second sleeve then work the ends in so I can wet it and block it and sew on some pretty buttons. The entire sweater is worked in the round from the top down using Cascade 220 Superwash Wool. The sleeves were meant to be worked in rows back and forth but I decided to convert them into working in the round as well and am doing them on double point needles. I always knit round things in the round if at all possible. It only makes sense, as far as I'm concerned. This makes the entire sweater completely seamless.
A final note on the yarn used for this sweater ~
For those of you who have never worked with Cascade 220 Wool in the Superwash and might be worried that it is scratchy, it is NOT. It is a lovely wool to work with, offering beautiful stitch definition and enough softness even for a child's skin as long as there is no actual allergy or sensitivity to wool. Plus it can be machine washed in cold water and tumbled dry.
It's time for me to lay this sweater project to rest
 because there are more bunnies waiting to be made for the next custom order...
It is, after all,
"She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor;
"Winter is dead."
A.A. Milne
When We Were Very Young