On Knitting and Good People

Gentle reader,

I’m hoping this finds you well and happy and positively brimming with mirth and satisfaction after spending some quality time with your family – whether that be the family you were born with or the family you chose, or both! – and if not and this time of year is just a big ol’ pain in the rump then, drat it all to hell and tell me who I need to give some seriously stinky side-eye to, cuz I got yo’ back.

I suppose it’s also that time in which people take stock of the year behind them as they leap into the year ahead, and this Shy Lion guy over here isn’t any different. And so here are my ruminations on life and the people in it.

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Sometimes, life is like knitting, and you are the knitter. As you pass the time, your knitting grows and grows and stretches down from your hands, the fabric gradually becoming neater and more assured. Your tension evens out, becomes steady, consistent and reliable. Your stitch definition becomes crisper and cleaner, and the patterns more and more complex and interesting.

Sometimes you will encounter people who just don’t get it. They won’t understand your knitting. They won’t see the time and effort that goes into every stitch. They won’t see the difference between garter and moss stitch. They won’t see your winding stretches of cables and understand that hanging, breathless moment when you crossed those stitches without a cable needle for the first time. They don’t understand that you couldn’t just sell your knitting, or see the difference between what you spent days, months, years learning to do, practicing, refining, and what someone programmed a machine to do.

But, there are other knitters who understand that this fabric – your fabric – took time and that sometimes it was a joy and sometimes hard won. They understand the time and control it took to knit smooth, even Fair Isle without puckering or Intarsia without holes. They know exactly how it feels to frog hours of work, they understand that sometimes you just don’t feel like weaving in your ends once in a blue moon.

And there are people who don’t knit but wish they could. They don’t know how those folded hems came to be folded, or how a few different stitches repeated over and over turned into the most intricate lace, but they love it and appreciate it all the same. They can sense the effort and the knowledge that went into it and they’re content enough with that, and perhaps are more special because of it. When you share your knitting with them, they treasure it, and handle it with care.

These people are your friends and your family. They are close to you because they can read your life the way other knitters can read your knitting. They understand your bumps and scrapes the way knitters understand your frogs and tinks. They know your joys and sorrows like knitters know your favorite colors or your preference for DPN over magic loop. And in the same way that someone doesn’t know how a sweater knits up but admire it enthusiasm anyway, maybe some of them don’t know how you came to be in their lives but are grateful that you’re there.

And in the same way that you go back to your favorite knitting groups or yarn stores or blogs, you keep those people close because they’re priceless and they’re special and you have them in your heart, always.

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Thank you so much for joining The Shy Lion for some crafty adventures in 2013, I’m super grateful for your company.  I hope you’ll come along for 2014, too! Share what you’ve been grateful for this year below!

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Knitted Gifts Are Warm And Fuzzy In Two Ways

Gentle reader,

Some people don’t care much for cold mornings and winter days, even many of the knitters and crocheters I know! But I love them. And you know what I love about them even more? I can wear the knitted gifts I’ve received! And that’s pretty amazeballs.

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This beautiful hat was knitted by my beautiful friend Jules from Woollenflower. It’s from a Brooklyn Tweed pattern – Vega by Alexis Winslow – and I think the yarn is Morris Norway 10ply.

And don’t I look pleased about it! It was so snug and warm. This knitted gift keeps me warm and fuzzy on my head and in my heart, and I’m not even mad about how cheesy that sounded. ^_~

Are you knitting any gifties at the moment? Share in the comments!

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Knit-Worthiness – or – Bedsocks For Buddies!

Gentle reader,

Within knitting circles, there’s a term you might hear thrown about: knit-worthy. Something I’m sure all crafters can relate to is the outside, non-crafty world not always understanding or appreciating just how much time, effort and thoughtfulness goes into the handmade treasures we make. Regardless of your skill or talent, if you sat down and made something, the product of that has an intrinsic joy and sincerity that store-bought things just don’t have. When a knitter refers to someone as being “knit-worthy” they’re essentially saying that this person gets it. Y’know? If you knit something for this person, they’d understand that you haven’t just given them a garment but rather you’ve taken your time, your thought, your love and the skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated since you first picked up a pair of needles (or hook, or loom, or paintbrush, or glue gun) and you’ve wrapped all this up in a little parcel just for them, and that this is a special bond between friends. Because, sadly, not everyone – no matter how much you love them or they love you – is knit-worthy.

Well, I’m super lucky because I have lots of knit-worthy people in my life. Some of them are by my side every day, like The Beard. Some of them I get to see every week, like my knitting friends. And some of them I don’t get to see very often at all, like my bestie Panda, or my dear friends Robert and Alfio.

Robert and Alf are those special kinds of friends that you can not see for ages and ages, and then when you do, rather than having grown further apart, it’s all the more exciting  to see them. And, because they’re such lovely, decent humans, and because Alf asked ever so nicely, I knit them a pair of bed socks each, and I just managed to scrape them in for winter.  They took a bunch of pictures for me too, so all the credit for these snaps go to them.

 

Enough of the mooshy stuff and down to bidniss! Here are Alf’s socks, which I’ve mentioned before on here. They’re made from Noro Kogarashi yarn which is rather luxurious. It’s 51% silk. Yumz. The pattern I used was Thuja by Bobby Ziegler which you can get for free from Knitty.com here. I really enjoyed the pattern. The combination of the yarn and the pattern soften the impact of the moss-stitch rib, but it gives enough interest while letting those lovely colors and squishy wispy bits take the spotlight. I was very pleased.

 

For Robert’s sock, I used Creative Fibers Hand Dyed yarn which is DIVINE. I loved it so much. You get it in a giant yummy hank and it smells delicious, though I’m not sure if that was the fiber or the dyes. The colors have to be seen in person because it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate idea of the colors from photographs. For the pattern, I took a risk and just made it up. I wanted to try doing an afterthought heel, and I think it turned out pretty neat.

 

Robert and Alf seem pretty happy with their socks, and I think they were pretty excited to get a parcel in the mail. I mean, who doesn’t? I love getting parcels.

I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of knitting socks and it was a long haul for me to finish both of these. Luckily, there were bed socks, so I got to use a heavier weight of yarn, but let me just tell you that Alf’s foot is massive and these socks felt like they were going to go on forever. But, I feel like I’ve reached a personal milestone now. I, Raynor the Shy Lion, can knit socks if I so choose.  Heel flap or afterthought heels. Hurrah! But, most of all, I love thinking of my two dear friends having toasty warm feet in the colder months. And that makes me properly happy.

Who are some of your favorite knit-worthy (or craft-worthy) peeps? Sharezies!

 

 

 

 

 

Bendigo!

Gentle reader,

It’s finally time to tell you all about my day at the Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show. I had a super great time, as if you couldn’t guess! And I went with super great peeps! I could write all day about it, but instead I’ll just show you pictures and tell you some of my fave things. I’m not going to talk too much about what I bought, because I’ll do a separate “Bendigo Haul” post.

I was totes excited about going this year, partly because I knew what to expect and partly because I actually had a budget this time. So, that always helps, right?

First, my lovely friends Kate (who’s blog is here) and Hal met at Flinders Street Station. That’s them in the lower left (Kate) and right (Hal) knitting on the train. In fact, we were so busy knitting that we missed our station to meet up with the also lovely Jane (top pic, right) and Jeanette (top pic, left). Now, I wash my hands of responsibility for any part in this mishap.

“I was following Kate,” I said.

“Why me!?” she asks.

“Because you’re a lawyer,” I said.

It made sense in my head, cuz, y’know. Lawyers know stuff. To be fair though, we all averred that we didn’t hear the announcement, and were all unfamiliar with that train line.

No harm done though, because Jane was a saint and picked us up at the next station and we all went to meet up with Karen (top pic, center) who is Irish and fantastic and we were on our way! We stopped at a lovely cafe in Kyneton for coffee and eggs, though I neglected to get its name. Kyneton was quite delightful and pretty and I’d like to do a day trip there some time.

Once we got to Bendigo, we stopped at the Bendigo Woollen Mills first, natch, because their discount back room is a must. I bought a few small balls with lovely twisted colors, and a bag of pure wool filling, because they were practically giving it away. While Kate, Hal, Jeanette and I waited out the front for Jane and Karen to finish their purchasing, we ran into the gorgeous Jules of Woollenflower briefly, just long enough to say hello and exchange big happy hugs.

It was a lovely day. Sure, I usually love wet, miserable, gloomy days being a sun-allergic ginger and all, but it was the perfect compromise. It was sunny enough that it was lovely to be out and about, but cloudy enough that I didn’t feel like I was getting skin cancer at every turn. Because we went on the Friday, it didn’t seem that the aminals (deliberate spelling, don’t judge me, I just like saying ‘aminals’) were really on display as much as they were on the Saturday we went last year. Some sheepdogs were practicing, and there were some colored sheep in a tent. See that little guy on the right? Oy, I fell in love him. His little face was so adorable it would break your heart and stick it back together with cuteness. Not even joking. I couldn’t really get the best picture because of the fence and my camera has personal dramas. Also, I didn’t want to blind the poor schnookums with a flash, so that’s the best I could do.
Also, I had bitterness with adulthood when I saw they had a bouncy castle. I don’t care for Shrek so much, but BOUNCY CASTLES make my heart sing. When I called the WAHmbulance, I was promptly informed by a number of individuals that it’s possible to hire adult bouncy castles, to which my response was “THIS DOESN’T HELP ME BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ONE HERE RIGHT NOW, KTHNXBAI.” I had to restrain myself from lecturing the children through the mesh windows: “Enjoy it while it lasts, kid! One day you’ll be too big! TOO BIG FOR BOUNCY CASTLES, you hear me!? And you’ll never be able to go back! Because people don’t EVER hire adult bouncy castles. You got it!?” Thankfully for everyone’s sake I managed to keep my inner old man to myself. (Meanwhile, do you guys need to enforce a “caps quota” on me? Eek.) But I digress…

Kylie of Ms.Gusset Yarns and Fibers was there, with crazy amounts of beautiful cormo yarn from the Ton of Wool project you may have seen on Pozible. I didn’t buy any because my budget was already spoken for at this point, but I’ll tell you what, I was super tempted! Kate and Hal bought some and were very happy. If you go to the ms.gusset Ravelry group, you can find all the relevant linkies and buy some o’ dat yarn!

Now, this was my FAVORITE thing EVER at Bendigo. I practically lost my mind at the Stranded In Oz stall. I really can’t even articulate it, it was just overwhelming. Just something about the colors, and the yarns, and the pattern samples just made me all spinny. The Wizard of Oz references also made me heart explode. Kate and Hal bought some of the sparkly yarn in the lower left and I bought some twisted green yarn called “Toe Toe” . Geesh. It’s like it was made for me and waiting for me the whole time. The lady who ran it was an absolute delight also, so you know my inner dialogue was “HERE, TAKE MY ALL OF MONEY!” So, please, please, please do go check out her website here and the Stranded In Oz Ravelry group too. Caps again. Oy. I’m so ashamed of myself.

We had a little debrief before we left and I snapped some of our purchases. There’s my Stranded In Oz ‘Toe Toe’ in the middle there. I’m kvelling just looking at it now. I think everyone was super happy with their efforts, though I’m sure we all would have liked bigger budgets. There’s always next year.

Jeanette, Hal, Kate and I were all dropped at the station to go our separate way, and unfortunately, we got there with a long wait to go. Never mind! We all started knitting of course! First we decided to add up how many kilometers we’d bought each. I bought 2.25 kilometers of yarn, and I had the least. To avoid the risk of incrimination, I won’t say how much the others bought ^_~ Look how proud and happy Hal looks! N’awww! I heart those peeps. Finally we all got home, and I pretty much crashed as soon as I walked through the door. I was plum tuckered out! But, aren’t those the best days when you have so much fun you’re completely demolished when you get home? I think so!

Did you go to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show? What yarny/crafty festivals do you go to in your area? Sharezies!

My Talented Friends – Jacqueline

Gentle reader,

While I no longer work in theater, one of the things that I will always be grateful for is all the amazingly talented friends that I made while studying and working on shows. One of those incredible peeps is my friend Jacqueline, who I named Quoise (pronounced “kwahz”; long story). Here she is wearing a cat hat I made for her. I don’t have many pics of us left since the Great Hard Drive Crash of ’09.

Quoise in a Cat Hat

She acts, she writes, she sings; she does it all! And her singing voice is riDONKulous. Here she is singing La Vie En Rose.

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And while you’re at it, you MUST go to her blog on Tumblr, The London Bunny, and read all about her exciting move to London.