That Creative Spark

The need to create dominates a person’s life, sometimes all encompassing or at others its hit and miss. What I have discovered over the years of sporadic depressive states and semi normal creative ones is that it is all part of the process of creation.

One day you want to lay in bed while the yarn surrounding you taunts you. At other times you paw through your stash and drool over the pattern books, looking for that one that will call to your need.

There has always been something that I have never understood. Maybe you can help. Why do I have moments, or months, where I have no interest in knitting? While people do take breaks from their varying projects for health reasons, family, vacations etc. I get into these, almost trances, where I am incapable of knitting. It really does make me more depressed. While I know that I want to knit, I am incapable of doing so. It is a vicious cycle.

Then one day, it starts over a week or so, I start to look at the yarn or the project on the needle and actually want to start again. I have the inevitable doubles and starts and fits that go with starting a new project, but it starts.

I have to say that even the work in progress that I have been working on is not perfect. That bothers me some and I know that I have made mistakes on it. I try not to dwell on those because it has to be blocked first. Just because it does not look quite like the picture right now does not mean it will not in the end. I tell myself, “self, even if it does not come out exactly like the picture, I will love it nonetheless.”

So, I continue on. Sometimes knitting daily and sometimes not for weeks to months. I look at those knitters and crocheters who churn out baby things and tons of amigurumi and I sigh. What a failure I am. I know I’m stupid to think so. Just because I do not knit so prolifically does not mean I am a failure. I am me, and that is good enough.

 

Work In Progress Continued

Well, it is coming along pretty well. I’m not sure if I have made a mistake, because my lace does not look quite like the picture, but I think I have followed the pattern okay. O’well, I’m going with it anyway. If, once it gets blocked, it still looks wonky I will give it another go to see if it is the pattern or me. probably me. 🙂

Here is the first part of the pattern. I have completed two of the four repeats of the pattern in the above picture. IMG_0143

My Awesome Adventure in Knitting Boobies

It is scarves, hats, and the occasional lace piece that make their way into my finished things bags. What to do with all this stuff? I have various colors of pinks, love me some pink, blues, black and purple yarn calling out to me to do something with it. Sigh. It is all too much. The multiple bags of yarn always call to my knitting heart, but what to do with it all? Then one day on Facebook, the world of everything, whether you need it or not, I see Awesome Breastforms. A bright light went off above my head. Aha! Here is a cause that I can get behind that will eat up some of my stash! At least, that was the idea.

Every crafter has a ton of extra material that they swear they will use one day only to find that they cannot live without this or that. This was nothing different. The only difference was it was not for me or for a family member, but for complete strangers.

“What do I know about making knitted anything that requires either using my hated double pointed sticks or figuring out how to do magic loop?” I think as I stare at the PDFs of the pattern for the knitted boobs.

“Well, there is nothing for it. I’ll have to learn something that scares the snot out of me,” I said, and I did. Magic loop is not as bad as you might think. It allows the knitter to make small articles like socks, hats, and amigarumi animals without having to use those damn double pointed sticks. As I perused the Facebook site and waited for my admittance into this new group, I watched various YouTube videos on how to do a magic loop. Once that was done and I got approved from the website’s moderators, a great group of ladies, I was on my way.

Let me say something about this site. Awesomebreastform.org consists of a small, but growing group of like-minded crafty ladies who want to give back something of themselves to those who have suffered from breast cancer. Millions of women each year are diagnosed with this disease and lose their curves from mastectomies or lumpectomies. We at Awesome Breastforms create and give away forms of various sizes to ladies all over the world, giving these women back their curves.

I got my first order back in September 2015 and was so happy. I had just learned how to do a magic loop with one really long double pointed needle and was off to the races. My lady was from Canada, and I was so excited to be able to make this boob for her. She only required a B size, and I worked diligently on that form, making sure that it fit the exact standards of the group guidelines. I took a few pictures for my own memories and sent it off.

“That was great! What is the next one?” I excitedly said to myself. On to the Facebook group I went.
I must tell you that there are two versions of the form that can be ordered from the website, one with a nipple and one without. I do not like the nipple form I made too much. I will have to work on that until I am happy with it and then and only then will I accept an order from a lady that wants a nipple form. My first test form, for approval, was accepted by the moderators, but I felt it was bulky and not very well done. So, no nipple forms for me. I was working on my second form, a size D, when I got a lovely letter from my lady, Linda.

“It was pure delight when I opened it and discovered the ‘beautifully knitted boob.’ Thank you so much for your hands of love in crafting this uplifting gift. May God bless you as you have kindly blessed me and many others!”

This letter was unexpected but was beautiful and kept me going when the magic loop technique got annoying. I was so moved. This is why I knit, I decided. Making hats and scarves for me or family members is one thing, but to actually make a difference for someone just through yarn and a desire to give back–that is why I do it.

I still love those long winter nights sitting on the couch with a coffee, always have to have coffee, or cookies, cakes, anyway, picking out the next project and anticipating the enjoyment that I get from making something with my own hands. Seeing the piece lengthen and feeling the weight of it as progress is made makes knitting more, well, awesome than not doing it out of frustration.

The awesome breastform group is growing rapidly, and it is such a great group of women. Like any knitting group that I have physically been to, there are plenty of people to offer help or encouragement. It is a wonderful environment. The ladies, and a few men, are so giving and do not expect anything from you except to show and tell your current project. The feedback from the women who receive these forms is amazing. Amanda G. of Stamps AR requested a form and could not be happier that we do this. “Just thank you! I have been so hesitant to go get fitted for one of those heavy silicone types. I just felt that I would not like them. So, I have been going one-sided since May. I don’t mind most of the time but sometimes, you just need to be even. These sound wonderful!”

There are so many other wonderful sentiments like Amanda’s on the website. Reading many of them puts tears in my eyes. I feel blessed to have found Awesome Breastforms and can use my knitting skills to make something truly wanted and welcome.

Thousands of forms have been sent out over the past seven months this website has been active. I get to be a part of something momentous that is growing every day. We give women their curves back. I get to make women feel beautiful and feel good about themselves after such a troubling experience. Unfortunately, cancer strikes without reason, and for those who have had to suffer, I am glad to know that they are not alone. There are men and women, crafters, who are willing to give out of their own pockets and time to give women back their curves.

Lace Knitting: Love It, Hate it, Wear It

It is too complicated. What! I’m off by how many stitches? You’ve got to be kidding me!? Where did all these extra yarn overs come from? These are only a few of the curses knitters say when knitting lace.

Lace knitting is its own hemisphere. New knitters hover around its mysterious landscapes, afraid to land and possibly be eaten alive. It seems so hard what with all the openness and scary structure involved in its construction. It only takes a little courage though.

I remember when I started learning lace. I was always off somehow no matter how much I counted my stitches and went by the pattern. It was so frustrating. Then one day I had an ah ha moment. You know, those moments when everything works out and all is rainbows and candy canes. I wish it happened spontaneously, but no. A nice woman at my local knitting group told me some wisdom that I have lived by since, “count your stitches between markers” and I have never looked back.

Lace is a demanding task master. It hordes your time and regardless of the mission you are on, can take you down. It bleeds your soul and at the same time lifts you up so high that you cannot even see that extra yarn over or the slipped stitch. You don’t care! It is a beautiful experience, until you want to throw it across the room or bunch it up and stuff it deep into your knitting bag. It is so frustrating.

Knitters love it so much. It is a crazy path to follow, but so easy to get sucked into. Once you have learned the basic stitches you think “Wow, this is great! I can do anything. Let’s try lace.” And then you go completely nuts.

Only knitters know the feeling of longing when another persons walks past with a fabulously knitted shawl or cardigan. It is a secret drive that pulls knitters down lanes that normally they would never have the courage to go. Beginning knitters look at those wonderfully intricate shawls and drool and only hope one day they will be skilled and brave enough to attempt it. Or more rightly, they will hide behind their knitting bag and tremble at the thought of SSK or K2tog, or even a dreaded yarn over.

Once though, lace has been conquered, sort of, knitters dance down he lance of possibility. No longer are they relegated to simple stocking net scarves and plain hats; they can achieve the impossible and create a fabulous hat or spectacular shawl that will blow the other knitters away. Walking into the next knitting group will be the highlight of your whole day. The other knitters will oooh and ahh over your new creation. You will be feeling euphoric.

Then the next project will humble you, but you will not give up. Lace knitting is an adventure. One that gives and takes, but it is so worth while. Afterward, you get to walk around wearing a beautifully intricate piece waiting to be recognized for your skill. The next big thing! Until you see someone wearing a knitted piece so phenomenal you race back to find that pattern and start the process over.

Lace Knitting: The Art of the Scarf

The scarf is the first project that most knitters start with. Learning how to make the fundamental stitches, the knit and purl stitch, will lead the new knitter to more complicated knitting. Lace knitting looks very complicated and puts many knitters off, but it is only a combination of the two basic stitches, yarn overs, and combining stitches together.

Once Lace knitting is on the horizon of the intrepid knitter they should already have a good understanding of the basic stitches, the knit and purl stitch. So, these stitches will not be the focus of this article. We will focus on yarn overs and the two basic lace stitches, the knit two stitches together (K2tog) and slip two stitches from the left needle to the right and knit together (SSK). The K2tog and SSK are what make the knitting slant either to the left or to the right. With the addition of yarn overs (YO), a single extra wrap around the right needle that does not get knitted and creates a space, lace knitting begins to take on its distinctive look.  This look is what draws many knitters to the complicated world of lace knitting. They discover, either to their delight or despair, that lace is a great addition to their knitting stitch library.

Learning to knit lace is all dependent on knowing the two basic stitches, knit and purl, and learning how to YO. Once you have mastered the knit and purl learning to knit the two lace stitches is easy. The one thing many knitters find hard about lace knitting is the continuing length of the lace row. Depending on the pattern, the stitches per row can change and keeping track of these changes will keep you on track as well.

Counting the number of stitches can be accomplished a few ways. The first way is by closely following a pattern. The complexity of the pattern can scare some knitters away, but some perseverance will show the pattern to be easier than first expected. The second way is to count to yourself as you go. This is an easy habit to acquire. Counting the stitches gives a knitter a sense of control that is not always there when reading a pattern. This type of counting normally is only useful if the pattern is a repeating, easy pattern. If the knitter finds that the pattern is too complicated; keeping a few sticky notes handy to bookmark your place on the pattern is another good habit to get into.

Lace scarf knitting is a great addition to a knitters stitch library. Learning the basic stitches of knit and purl opens up a world of different looks and styles of knitting, and it not limited to only lace. With the knit and purl stitch a knitter can learn how to use a cable needle, make lace hats or gloves, try out the knitting pattern from a grandparent, or even learn to tat. Lace knitting is a great adventure and is one that every knitter should try.

Work In Progress

I started a new lace shawl the other day. I’m okay with it, but I think I made a few mistakes. It barely looks like the picture. Oh well, I’ll have to put more rows on in the pattern to see if it starts to look something like it should.

I’m all excited about it too. There for a while I was depressed and frustrated at the whole idea of knitting. It comes and goes that way. I relish in the creation process and then it fizzles out. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who gets knitting burnout, but it is very hard to deal with.

One moment you are so excited and you study all the many, many, many pattern books you own, and then all of a sudden nothing. Your yarn looks at you like you have abandoned it and that only leads to more despair. sigh.

But then! The sunlight is shining and the yarn is happy and all is right with the world. That next project is so fun and you can’t wait to get started that you not even paying attention to how annoying counting your cast on stitches is and worrying about the first few rows. You have to get them perfect or the whole thing will be ruined and you will fall into darkest despair all over again. Ahhhhh!

Onward and upward, or onward and purlward.

The Treasure Hunt of the Disappearing Stitch Markers

What is it about stitch markers? I can see some of them being attached to currently moldering projects. Those that you find down in the dark, dank depths of project bags of christmas past. Those that you pick out of a bag like the proverbial rabbit. Ah Ha! I knew this was somewhere. Damn, I’m going to have to frog it. Why you may ask? Because you don’t remember where the instructions are or even worse you know perfectly well where they are, but you have no idea where you left off. Sigh

I had to have bought hundreds, ok maybe not hundreds, of stitch markers over the years and this is all I could find. I went through every bag and sleeve that I had, except the boxes, we don’t talk about the boxes.

Side Note: I love going through my bags O stuff. It is like walking through a new yarn store for the first time. All those pretty colors and textures to fondle and gawk at. It is like that going through my own project bags. How many of you have found a fantastic, beautiful skein of yarn and get that rush of discovery and wonder that you feel in the yarn store? It is something special. I have my own store in my stash, tears of joy and frustration run down my face. 🙂

Anyway, stitch markers. They live within a realm of their own and laugh at our attempts to control their travel across our plane of existence.

They do seem to have a mind of their own. You can never find any stitch markers when you need them and if you do, you can never find enough for a project. It is so frustrating. Here you are all ready with a skein of wound yarn, the correct size needles you need, and all you need to find are stitch markers. That is when you get creative. I’ve used safety pins or paper clips before. They all work, but DAMN IT!, that was not what I got them for! I am supposed to be able to use the stitch markers that I buy every time I go to a yarn shop.

Sometimes as I walk down the aisle of the yarn store I stop and stare at all the pretty different ones on display. It is not my intention to by any at that time and it is hard not too, but I think to myself that I have plenty at home. Only to discover when I do get home that they have all taken a vacation in my closet and are laughing at me as they sit on the beach and drink Mai Tais. Damn stitch markers. grump.

So, there I am in the yarn store aisle and drooling over stitch markers like they are the most precious of diamonds. It is a weird phenomenon and only crafters will understand. They are the holy grail. The path of enlightenment in a world of dark corners and pockets of time. They call to me, but I resist, much to my detriment. So many different types and colors. What to do? What to do?

When you do find a stitch marker somewhere in your stash of bags it is like a golden sun has gone of in your soul. YES! you think as you hold it up to the light and relish its splendid color and shape. The visions of new projects dance through your head and you get giddy with anticipation of slipping it on to the needle, then reality sets in and you realize that you need 10 more. ugh.