Magic loop method two baby sweaters alpaca Eastport yarn

Knitting in Circles

It was laundry day, which, for me and the bearded fellow, meant a solid block of time spent at the local eco-laundromat. Clothes in the dryer, knitting in hand, I sat down to make some serious project progress.

I knew she was there before she started speaking.

Lady: (Appreciatively gazing). Ooh, what are you making?

Me: (Announcing, with far too much enthusiasm). Two baby sweaters!

Lady: (Now blankly staring). How…?

I looked down at my project. Continue reading

Because I Do Not Knit With My Toes

Or, Ode to an Ankle.

I am thankful that I do not knit with my toes.

Sprained Ankle
For, if I knit with my toes, I would be far more upset at myself for tearing a ligament.

If I knit with my toes.

Thankfully, I do not knit with my toes*. Therefore, thankfully, this injury has not stopped me from knitting wooly goodness on a snowy day.

Traditional knit wool mittens

These will eventually transform into mittens for the bearded fellow. Eventually.

Oh, the foot? Let’s just say that I will not be winning any fancy awards for my rather-enthusiastic-cross-country-ski-clad-gymnastics in the snow this past weekend.

I am forever grateful to the designer who decided that ski boots should be supportive, rigid, and tight enough to allow the wearer to cross-country ski for several miles, over hill and dale, without the slightest hint of injury.

Until the wearer takes the boot off, that is.

Libby Hill Forest Cross-Country Ski Trails, Gray, Maine

It was a rather spectacular day to be on the trails, unknowingly gimpy or not.

*If you knit with your toes, please do prepare your mailbox for the thousands of handcrafted high-fives that will soon arrive.

The Why to My Knitting

People are bound to ask me why I knit. And I am bound to answer.

It is fun! It passes the time! It gives me carpal tunnel!

They ask, I answer. Easy cheesy. And yet, sometimes, when I am frogging an entire row of tricky cables or painstakingly reviewing overly complicated Fair Isle charts, I begin to question myself, as if I am not so sure of the answer: why do I knit?

And then, as I begin that seemingly impossible lace section (for the third time), or block a sweater whose arms are two inches too short (I knew that would happen), I remind myself of the why: it is fun. It does pass the time. And, yes, it does give me carpal tunnel.

But it gives me something else, too. Something simple, and yet, not simple enough to explain. Something I get, a feeling, in exchange for the time, effort and (let’s be honest here) blood and tears, that I put in.

If you knit (crochet, stitch or felt), you get it, too (even if you cannot explain it either).

It is the image of the bearded fellow wrapped like a mummy with the second scarf I ever made him, topped with the first hat I designed myself, surrounded by hurricane force winds in the first blizzard of winter.

Blizzard Juno hits Portland Maine, and the bearded fellow is ready with warm woolen knits.

It is the smile of absolute elation on my brother’s face as he opens his Christmas gift, not expecting what the seemingly innocuous package had in store, and dons the fluffy dwarf beard with as much pride as I could have ever hoped for.

No hair will go unbraided on this viking dwarf helmet set.

It is learning how to crochet doilies, and then hearing from my grandmother for the first time that her mother, too, crocheted doilies.

Vintage handcrafted doilies from times gone by make their way into popular crafting today

Do you see what I mean?  There is a reason why I knit. A real reason, many reasons, in fact, why I knit. Why we all knit. Even if it is easier to feel than it is to describe, it is there.

Aside

First Snow Fingerless Mitts and Equinox Cowl

I recently finished a batch of my Equinox Cowls and First Snow Fingerless Mitts for PacaNaturals, so this morning I snapped some quick pictures for posterity.

Four colors of Equinox CowlWe had a cute snowstorm last night that sprinkled happy snowflakes on the ground, fitting for taking pictures of the fingerless mittens so aptly named First Snow.

First Snow Fingerless MittsAs I was taking these shots I noticed little snowflakes landing on the darker mittens.

Dark Brown First Snow Fingerless MittsSure, we have all seen pictures of what unique snowflakes look like up close, but I could not help but imagine what snowflakes with their own unique personalities would look like. When I imagine a happy snowflake, it looks something like this:

Up close view of a snowflake

Super stoked to be a snowflake.

First Snow Fingerless Mitts

Three Levels of Knitting

This morning, as I shuffled down the pathway to my office, I decided to take a moment to ponder what knitting projects I brought with me. Perhaps it was the early morning sun awakening my curiosity or the crisp breeze reminding me that winter is on its way.

In reality, it was because I was early for work and wanted to take a moment to verify that I brought enough projects to work on during lunch.

Wait. (Insert tire screech sound bite.) Enough projects? More than one project is required to fill a one hour lunch break, in which eating must also be a part? Yes. The answer is yes. I carry at least two, if not three, small projects in my knitting bag, each a different skill level, attention demand, and overall ease of knitting rating.

For example: Continue reading

Do you Believe in Magic (Loop)

Anyone else have the Lovin’ Spoonful song Do You Believe in Magic in their head now?

Back on track: we are here for this kind of magic: the magic loop. Have you heard of it? (You probably have.) I just heard about it last week. (I know! That rock I was living under was rather large.) Nine years. I have been knitting for nine years and have yet to knit anything tube-like using this magical loop method. That is, until now. Magic Loop Knit Fingerless Gloves Continue reading

View from the top

Hikes and Hot Toddies

This time of year is perfect for two things: foliage hikes and hot toddies. What better way to warm up outdoors than by enjoying warm tea with a splash of spirit.

Fall ground cover foliageThe bearded fellow has been quite busy with educational events on the weekends but we have managed to carve away some time to visit a handful of new spots, and take in some fall foliage along the way.

Trail Floor in FallDuring a recent hike we decided to bring our new (and so very awesome) FireAnt Multi-fuel Backpacking Stove. If you have learned anything about us from recent posts, you will already know that we love the outdoors, camp crafts, and trusty tools.

Loading firewood into FireAntThe FireAnt is made by Mikhail Merkurieff of MerkWares, creator of the Emberlit, and these awesome flint strikers. Mikhail, like the bearded fellow, is an Eagle Scout with a keen eye for design and appreciation for the natural world. He creates simple, durable, high quality products for outdoor enthusiasts. The FireAnt is no exception. It is crafted from ultra-light, ultra-durable titanium. Just like a real fire ant, this hunk of metal weighs in at less than three ounces and offers a wicked bite when you get it going.

FireAnt Test Run The best part about the FireAnt is that it is multi-fuel capable. You can use firewood, Trangia spirit burners, or solid fuels like Esbit. No more pressurized fuel containers that take up space and are often disposed of improperly. Don’t get me wrong, the bearded fellow and I own a high-tech backpacking stove that we have used for years with absolute success. When you need to boil a pot of water, your compact stove will do it in an instant.

Making tea in a FireAntBut, you know what? The FireAnt did it better. It took just a few minutes to load the fuel,  fiddle with the firewood arrangement to produce efficient heat, and in less than ten minutes we had a rolling boil. It was also the perfect excuse to use our Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. The (cutest) backpacking hatchet that performs like a full-size axe.

Making tea on the trailEven better, its various fuel options allow us to always have a backup fuel option. It is no fun when your pressurized fuel container sounds like it has more fuel than it really does and you run out of gas (literally) halfway through a boil. Instead of having to bring multiple fuel canisters on every trip, we now have the option to carry multiple fuel choices that weigh far less and offer varied burning qualities.

Trangia StoveWe had so much fun making tea the first time that we decided to do it all over again, this time using the Trangia stove. The FireAnt is set up so that you can easily slip the Trangia stove inside the slots as you assemble the walls, keeping it sturdy and secure. The Trangia performed a bit better than the firewood, most likely because it is constant, direct heat directed at the bottom of the pot. All in all, our FireAnt test was a success.

Trangia Stove Boiling Water TestI did not manage to grab any pictures of the FireAnt assembly as it literally takes a minute to put together. Each of the four walls slips into pre-cut slots on each corner, a bit like building a little cabin from Lincoln Logs. (Which are apparently made in Maine now.)

Reid State Park RocksAfter enjoying our two cups of tea each we made our way to Reid State Park in Georgetown. It was quite crowded, even for a chilly weekend in October. I cannot even imagine what it must be like in the summer months. The scene along the water reminded us of a set straight out of Star Trek: TOS. See what I mean?

Star Trek at Reid State ParkI can almost hear the Amok Time music now.Reid State Park