Finished Object (FO) Friday 12/6/2013

I think this may be my favorite finished object. It is a gift I completed a few months ago, but never dropped in the mail (hoping to see the recipient in person). It is made from Malabrigo worsted, and therefore would be beautiful no matter who knitted it into what. This is not the first shawl I started, but is the first one completed. I didn’t use a pattern, just techniques from the book Sock Yarn Shawls. (Triangular shape with garter-tab cast-on, increases, etc) Cast-on edges are not my strong point when it comes to tension, and the shawls with hundreds of cast-on stitches seem like a lofty project. This one started with three! I used US9 for the body, and switched between those and size 15 for the second section. I wet and lightly steam blocked, but never soaked it. I’d like the yarn-overs near the edge to relax a little more, so I may try more heavily blocking. It is superwash merino and one of the most luscious yarns I have touched.

It was made after I had read through a book on prayer shawls as well as a touching blog post on how birthday socks could be seen as handmade armor; these ideas made complete sense to me. When knitting a gift specifically for someone, thoughts drift to him or her. Every stitch is filled with love, prayer, good vibes or energy (hopefully). One can feel guarded against the cold and the world by wrapping up in a hand knit. It makes me think of the book Like Water for Chocolate and other works that use magical realism in which emotion and thought can be channeled or brought to life. In Laura Esquivel’s novel the representation is food; protagonist Tita pours so much into her cooking that anyone who eats it cannot help but feel the same emotion. It is beautiful, but can be dangerous. When she is lustful, it leaves guests gorging and swooning, yet when tears fall uncontrollably into the dish everyone feels sorrow to the point of sickness. I think it is common practice for knitters to try and keep to the thoughts of love, respect, healing. The negative, the sad, the anxious thoughts shouldn’t be squelched, but allowed and then dismissed. (Makes me think of attempts at meditation and Dune‘s litany of fear…) It is so easy to get lost in the negative, even addicted, yet it is really difficult to dwell too long with hand-dyed baby merino running across fingers and needles!

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WIP Wednesday 12/04/2013

Hi, I’m Purl, and I’m a yarnaholic. (Spell-check thinks the word should be chocoholic; it is wrong.) The color of the yarn is Fijian Waters. Not sure if my camera and screen quite capture the beauty, but it is in the range of my favorite shades of blue. The brightest blue you could possibly find in nature reserved for water and sky and flowers and the occasional stripe on a tropical creature. The perfectly twisted fiber was draped across the chair for days, and I finally twisted it back up into a hank yesterday. It needs to be wound into something manageable, but me and Mr. Gamer have both enjoyed walking through the dining room and giving the yarn a squeeze. Some yarn I don’t want wound at the local shop, especially worsted and thicker yarns since the skeins have less yardage. I like to use two chairs and stand on a step-stool, so the yarn pulls easily. Music helps, too. Since I’m still novice, it is nice to experience the yarn before I knit with it. I find the knots and random fuzzies, and get a feel for it. I have a better idea which needles, which pattern to use. The drape isn’t a complete mystery. Yes, I still need to (should…might..) knit a swatch, but have a better starting point if I’ve never worked with the yarn.

Since yarn on a chair probably doesn’t count as a work-in-progress, lovely as it is, here are sock explosion pictures!

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Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks has been a valuable reference.  Attempting magic loop in Patons stretch sock yarn in licorice. 5/6 Stitch per inch socks in Cascade 220 Sport on size 3 dpns are the off-white ones. The blue-ish one is Patons Classic Wool knitted on size 7 dpns.  All of these need blocking…I may invest in some sock blockers. I have project envy, as all of these are gifts. After X-mas, my own feet will be getting a pair of wool socks!


New Vegas skyline

An hour passed and I barely noticed. My mind was in a place where minutes don’t really matter. An hour was a moment that somehow both flew by and took forever.

I watched the sun rise over a desolate wasteland as I made my way through rocky paths that led away from treacherous desert. A red-eyed gecko the size of a child runs at me with claws in the air, but it meets its end at the barrel of my shotgun. I stumble to a forlorn campsite and replenished myself on irradiated water and gecko steak. The creature’s hide gets stuffed into an already heavy backpack to be bartered for a few caps later. I find dead-ends, raiders, caverns, and picking up every bullet and cap I keep scrounging and stumbling towards the marker on the map. By the time the sun sets I can see the lights of New Vegas shining like a glorious beacon. It seems so close, yet impossible to reach by a direct path.

My stomach growls for the tenth time, and I snap back to reality. I save my game, set the controller down, check the clock. A day happened in an hour. I don’t remember drinking the rest of my coffee, but it explains the nature of the stomach noises. I make my way towards the fridge thinking, “Where was I?” The Mojave is immersive, but it was more than that;  I had achieved flow.

I was engaged and entertained but calculating; temporarily a courier with purple hair and painspike armor – not a caffeinated brunette with a controller. My skill with analog sticks and trigger buttons evolved to where I don’t need to concentrate on my hands. I know the game well (Fallout: New Vegas is the example.), and I no longer evaluate the meaning of the amber-colored words and symbols on-screen. Yet I don’t know what resides around each corner, or how every mission will play out. I’m not tired of the game; there is still excitement and anticipation. There are goals in and out of the game. I need certain skills to accomplish everything, intelligence, strength, my social and sneak abilities all affect how I can go about completing quests. I also have a goal of how much to complete in-game before I get antsy about my stomach growling and the dirty dishes in the sink. All of this adds up to a sort of intersection in my brain, Flow. I have to use right and left brain, mentally leave the physical for a moment, and use every ounce of skill and concentration to be entertained while reaching my goals.

I read the book Flow and wrote about it in a (short) essay a couple years ago, and it made an impression. (Posted on the Essays page) I have thought about it at length since, and perhaps I should re-read since I’ve added knitting to the list of Flow-inducing activities. It happens while reading, tasting, painting, playing. Energized focus, emotional learning, and in-the-groove are terms used in the Wikipedia summation of Flow. Simply and personally put, it is ideal to me to accomplish something while stopping to smell the roses at the same time. I may be prone to being over-emotional, but luckily this seems to be the same brain chemistry that has a penchant for Flow. Now I ask myself,”Why just play a sport, a game, a song?” It doesn’t always work but I try to engage and experience joy. Anxiety often tries to barge through, but when I knit, when I game, the joy is accessible.