A tale of two knitties

My heritage is needlework; I feel this even if I have not become accomplished at it in over 40 years of feeble attempts.

But I keep trying, not because I believe that one day I will magically cross over the line of pathetic amateur to confident professional, but because I admire the needle arts and I want to feel that I have an understanding with others, including my female progenitors who have all sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted, quilted, and the like.

So for a Christmas gift to myself, I finished a scarf. This is my first finished project, knitted, since I was a child.

my first (as an adult) finished knitted scarf

I must give credit to 1) Ethel Grogan and 2) Sandy Chambers, who inspired me to take up knitting, after watching them do it at a “finish-your-project” girls’ night out a few months ago. Go sisters! I admire you SO MUCH! and 3) Adrienne Martini,  author of the book Sweater Quest, which captivated my creative hopes.

From pondering the instructions in several knitting books, I’ve discovered that I have a long way to go to perfect my technique. I suppose that I do the English method, which I did learn as a child but mostly forgot, although my hands tend to just go on and keep repeating the motions while my will doesn’t have much to say about it. And I don’t know how to wrap the yarn around my hand as I go, which Debbie Stoller, the author of Stitch ‘N Bitch, says on page 38 that you must learn to do. I saw a lady in the ENT clinic waiting room knitting, with the yarn wrapped curiously around her fingers as she went, and I thought, I can never do that.

Today, I had lunch with my husband,  mom and daughter-in-law, and Mom gave me a shawl that she can’t remember if she or her mother had knitted. Oh, it is beautiful and delicate, soft and lovely, with a few rows of stockinette, then a few rows of a lacy open-weave stitch that I don’t know the name of. Thanks, Mom! I love it.

Knitted shawl

And Santa knew I was fascinated by knit, purl, knit, purl, as he brought me a knitting machine. [Just kidding, I bought it at JoAnn’s when it was on sale $5 off] I like machines. But I truly do love the feel of wool in my hands. It is sumptuous, not really like polyester or nylon or cotton yarn at all. The cotton and synthetic fibers are great to wear, and I’m not excited about wearing a wool sweater, but I love to work with the yarn.

My machine, for age 6+

It came with some eyelash yarn, and instructions to make a hat, forearm warmers, a scarf, socks, and a shoulder bag. Can’t stop smiling at the prospect of operating this machine–mmm, maybe at night in front of the TV as the men of the house, and I, watch people killing and maiming or tackling and running to and from each other, scoring points and time-outs.  I wonder when the female progenitors would find time to knit, with no TV to watch?

Better than an albatross and almost as heavy

The feng shui was wrong

I asked the men in the house for some assistance moving furniture around, since we’d already moved a ton of it on the other side of the house so we could get our new flooring put in.

“Wait, do you just want to straighten up your sewing room, get it more organized?”

“Yes,” I said, “because the feng shui in here is just wrong.”

“But, how do you know it’s wrong?”

“I read about it in a Feng Shui book. My machine was facing east, and it needs to be facing west.”

“How do you know what direction it should be facing?”

“It’s based on my birth date.”

“Oh. Ah. Your BIRTH DATE…”

It sounds hokey, but I love the different orientation of things in the sewing room now. I put up my collection of toy sewing machines, most of them, next to my small collection of dragons, on the east side of the room, which is great because they were previously sitting around the room in boxes, a horrible pile of stultifying clutter.

Collections

And we switched some of the west-facing items and east-facing items. Maybe I feel great about it because anything is better than meandering into a room that’s packed with junk, and now the junk is semi-dispersed into other places.

Machines now face west

Or rather, I face west when I’m working at the machine.

Knitting cabinet serves as divider

The knitting cabinet now sits next to the futon and effectively divides the sitting area from the computer area. The top of it opens, I hope in an inviting manner, to help me not feel so paranoid about learning to knit. I found that piece of furniture on the side of the road, waiting for the garbage man, and brought it home to Skip, who refinished it to look like a colonial antique. It is gorgeous, although a little wobbly, and it holds lots of yarn, needles, and other knit/crochet paraphernalia. Now, if I face southwest while working at the computer, I can see the room door with just a slight turn of my head, so I’m not completely with my back toward the door, which would leave me vulnerable to surprise. And with the machine cabinets blocking the cats from sneaking in and hiding, they must go straight to the middle of the room when they dart in, unwanted, and it’s a lot easier to collect them and throw them out again. Yay! Me 1, cats 0!

The last improvement is the water feature to the north.

Closest thing to a water feature, a painting of water

I think a friend of my grandmother painted this picture. I remember staring at it so many times when I was a little kid and spending time at her house. I thought my gran was one of the coolest people ever. I have so many of her things in this room, like the old teak sewing desk that was hers, full of notions that she bought when she was alive. And the old cardboard barrels with the metal tops, that (I’ve heard) they packed their stuff in when they came back to the mainland after Pearl Harbor was bombed. I can remember these barrels being in the attic of her house in Alexandria. They were full of fabric scraps. She stored left-over material from projects– like clothes for little me–in there and then retrieved it and made quilt tops out of it. I use them for the same purpose, to store fabric scraps, although I have yet to make a patchwork quilt. Paranoia again. Maybe the new, improved feng shui will spark some creativity and productivity in me!

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