Thursday, October 23, 2008

Welcome to My Stash

Peak over those sticks for a moment for and check out this site by my friend Jame:

One of the many things that made me happy about her recent posts is the idea that art in its many forms can feed the knitters soul. Art observed can wend its way into knits and purls.

Good writing, great historical locations, arts and crafts of all kinds can inspire the attentive knitter.

Back to your knitting; be sure you didn't drop a stitch!
(and if you did, check out eHow for technical help)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What is Wabi Sabi?

Wabi Sabi Alert everyone!
Homemade Simple, a lovely newsletter with homekeeping and decorating ideas has discovered the joys of Wabi Sabi living. To quote:

Wabi-sabi is a set of ancient Japanese principles that center on celebrating and finding beauty in the imperfect and unconventional. Wabi is new,
fresh and unfinished, while sabi is beauty that comes with age, wisdom and use.
(quoted from
I've been focusing on finishing lately. My next post will cover the fine art of sewing up the pieces of a sweater to produce a splendid FO. Since I've been working on this particular sweater (the purple mohair and ribbon shown in one of my first posts) it can certainly claim a beauty that comes with age!

Shown here is a practice swatch for this flat-seamed finishing technique. Above is the soon-to-be finished object. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Notes From the Summer Crochet Guild Conference: Thank you Lily Chin, Mary Beth Temple and Myra Wood

The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) hosted a Professional Day in New Hampshire and I made the good decision to attend. I was hesitant since I do not consider myself a professional knitter or crocheter (I crocheted when I was younger but have not done so lately) but I'm so glad I did not let this self-imposed definition stop me. The conference was designed to inform crafters about publishing options; the writer in me could not resist. The conference delivered on its promise and then some.

I attended the panel discussion moderated by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss titled, "The Dollars and Sense of Being a Published Author." That session made my writer's heart glad. Ms. Leinhauser and Ms. Weiss gave great advice on everything from developing an idea to marketing, sales, and self-publishing. They also gave out an invaluable handout: a survey of craft publishers.

After the panel discussion, attendees chose three small discussion groups to attend. I attended groups led by Lily Chin, Mary Beth Temple, and Myra Wood. Excellent groups! Lily Chin is simply amazing. She gave the best advice about promoting a business. I cannot say enough good things about Ms. Chin. She is dynamic and inspiring. Mary Beth Temple gave helpful advice when she spoke to her group about the skills needed to submit manuscripts and market a published book. Myra Wood gave a dynamic and eye-opening presentation on self-publishing. Check out her site to see some of her beautiful designs:

Now, you might be saying, "I'm a solitary knitter." "Gas is expensive." "Traveling is expensive, I'd rather buy cashmere." All true enough. Yet I highly recommend going to a conference. In fact, I'm officially declaring it part of the wabi sabi way of life. There's beauty in what we don't know; there's always something new to learn -- a new skill to perfect, a new technique to practice. One of the things I absolutely love about knitting and the needle arts is that there's always something new on the horizon. Always a new skill to have fun with.

Back to my original thoughts about the conference: I was hesitant about going to the conference because I wasn't a "good enough" crafter. But no one threw me out for not knowing enough. I found acceptance and heard story after story of folks who learned as they went along, improved their skills, turned a knack with needle and yarn into a thriving design business.

My teacher (see Dedication post) always encourages her students, "You can do it. Sure. Try it." And right she is. Be bold. Learn something new. Besides your LYS, guilds and groups are fun ways to add to your repertoire and to pass on your skills. Yes, fun! Try it. You'll be glad you did.

Keep knitting! Keep learning!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I like Ike

One sure way to unravel (pun intended) from knots in our yarn is to seek out a feline or canine friend. Knitters and crocheters can reward our furry soul mates for the solace they provide with the gift of hand-knit sweaters and accessories. Some non-knitters might find this odd. Why spend hours and hundreds of stitches on an animal? Why not? We knit for our human friends so why not put our sticks together for our four-legged companions? I daresay it was more gratifying to give my old dog a bone than to present some (and only some, most people are appreciative) persnickety humans with a hand-knit item. Here's a (somewhat) less subjective reply: In 2005 US New and World Report published an article titled, "The Pet Prescription." Its subtitle was, "See Spot run. Then see Spot lower your blood pressure and boost your immunity. Really."

Really indeed. Isn't a handknit item worth the rejuvenation of body and spirit these creatures provide?

If a knitter has the time and inclination to show her love with a knitted doggy sweater, I say more power to her. My friend Erika did just that. She crocheted the dog coat shown in the picture for her "grand-dog" Ike. Ike shares his home with his human companions Toby and Amy. Erika said she enjoyed the sweater and it was easy to finish. Ike seems perfectly pleased!

Knitters and crocheters what say you? Are projects intended for four-leggeds now in your queue?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Knot Theory: Part I mother, licks her fingers,
and twirls the severed tip around, and then
creates a darkness: hiding the thread
within itself, she ties a tiny knot...
"The Knot"
by Irving Feldman

The darkness in thread and fiber holds many mysteries. Knitters expect to pull out perfect, pristine yarn when we tug at the skein but sometimes that is not what we get. To say that one, small knot can derail a project is, perhaps, an understatement. What is done must be undone and that undoing interrupts precious needle and knitter time.

Knots have long been objects of magic and power. According to the Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols by J.C. Cooper knots represent the, "powers of binding and also imply those of loosing...Loosening knots is freedom; salvation; the solving of problems." If knots hold such old and deep mythic significance, shouldn't we appreciate them more?

When I tried to tackle my very first tangle and wanted to take a scissors to it, my Knitting Sensei explained that Japanese children were given knotted yarn in grade schools to teach patience. Is it possible that I, contemporary knitter eagerly (and sometimes desperately) squeezing knitting time into my overly busy schedule can re-imagine knots as part of the path to enlightenment instead of a frustrating speed bump on the road to completed project? Welcome to the beginning of my personal knot theory.

In science, knot theory helps," scientists think about concepts like the shape of the universe or four-dimensional space-time. That's important for physics. Knot theory also helps scientists understand how enzymes in our cells help DNA untangle before cell reproduction. That knowledge helped lead to a new cancer drug." (Kowalski, Odyssey, Nov2007, Vol. 16 Issue 8, p29, 3p)
If Science (yes, with a capital "S") and Humanity (ditto with "H") can benefit from knots so can the contemporary knitter.

Knitters, think twice before sneering at the next snarl. Re-imagine it as an invitation to connection, skill building, and contemplation. Knots connect us to a power inscrutable but one entwined with our fates since they also represent, "continuity, connection, covenant, a link." (Cooper) When you are knotted up over a knitting problem think of the link you have with your knitting ancestors. There is a comforting continuity with other crafters that will teach you patience and perseverance. They encountered and conquered knitting glitches and so can you. I never did cut that first knot; I untangled it and felt unexpectedly triumphant. My wish for you is that same feeling of overcoming the (seemingly) impossible; if you knitted your way into a problem you can knit your way out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Memorium: Anthony Rego

A host of crises caused my temporary absence from blogging. The death of my husband's Uncle, Anthony Rego, otherwise known as our beloved Uncle Smitty, is the chief cause of my silence. Uncle Smitty died on April 4, 2008. I was struck silent with grief and it is only fitting that I break my silence with a tribute to him.
I cannot say enough good things about Uncle Smitty. From the moment I met him over ten years ago, he accepted me as part of the family. No inquisition, no keeping his distance. "Hello dear. Nice to meet you. What'll you have to eat?" I was welcome at the table forever after. I lucked out with my in laws. They (including father-in-law Jim and mother-in-law Vivian, as well as Aunt Laura, Uncle Smitty's wife of over fifty years) accepted me as family and have treated me with love and respect ever since.

Uncle Smitty was the favorite uncle of our children, as well as of my husband and me. Here, though, I will focus on one of the qualities I admired most about him: Uncle Smitty cherished memories of his mother, avid knitter and crocheter, Mary Rego. He valued the process and the product of her craft by holding those memories in his heart for a lifetime; something I hope my children will do. May we all be blessed with such faithful interpreters of our knitting legacies as Uncle Smitty.

Uncle Smitty would reminisce with Jim about going out to buy her yarn: "She liked Red Heart. We used to go and ask the lady at the store to help us find exactly what she wanted." He showed me with pride the afghans she made for him. He explained she made them for all her children and grandchildren and even recalled that it was "Kenny who got the brown one, Janice the mixed colors." It is encouraging to know that our knitting can be so treasured. I will remember him as he remembered his mother: with stories affectionately told.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wabi Sabi Circle of Friends: Featured Knitter and Project

Friend and fabulous knitter, Loïza, has knit a beautiful, cabled headband modeled by her equally fabulous daughter, Arielle. She reports that it matches her winterwear perfectly and is quite warm. Loïza will post a comment with specifics on the yarn and pattern. Please comment on your own headband project.

Let's discuss knitwear for the college crowd. Are headbands a popular choice? Do busy knitters like them because they offer a relatively quick and yet potentially interesting and complex project? Do college students like sporting them around campus? The ease of use? The benefits when having a bad hair day? Or their ability to cradle your brain during finals? Share your comments in Wabi Sabi Knitting Land.
Have a good day and go knit something!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to My Stash Alberta Postcards!

The Wabi Sabi Knitter invites you to raid her stash and check out this great blog!

This week I met Diane who, bless her, is the first person outside my small group of friends who has commented on my site. Because of her kind comment I am now a bit more courageous about sharing my blog with the wide world. It turns out that she is a talented photographer and writer as evidenced by her blog, Alberta Postcards, Conspire to Inspire at This blog is sure to inspire you whatever your art or craft. It's inspired me to take and post more pictures of my yarn and knitting projects. Enjoy this great site.

The comment by the Alberta Postcards author has also inspired me to take a second look at how I learned to knit and how other knitters have learned their craft. That post will be forthcoming; I hope to share some tips on surviving and enjoying the learning curve to knitting proficiency (or just capability!) If you have some tips or ideas you'd like to share, please comment now! I'll incorporate your comments into that post later.

I decided that it will be a Wabi Sabi Knitter tradition to formally introduce new blogs and welcome them. Now go blog, knit and be happy!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Relax, it's just a Sweater

Or a sock, scarf, wrap...

This entry is dedicated to all my writing students who've expressed sadness about having given up knitting because they "just couldn't."

I am blessed with a best friend who is a Pastry Chef. She has gifted me with tasty cakes, brownies, and cupcakes smothered in dreamy icing (all gluten-free). She also Gifted me with a piece of kitchen wisdom that transfers to knitting: relax, it's just dinner. So, I tell you, relax, you're just knitting.

I say this not to diminish knitting (ever) or discourage you from pursuing the technical expertise of a Master Knitter. I hope to achieve this rank someday, however, worrying about perfection in every stitch is not the path to knitting enlightenment.

In fact, worrying can inhibit any learning process and that probably goes double for knitting. Sometimes students who know I'm a knitter say, "I tried that once, but I made too many mistakes." Or, even, "my stuff didn't look like the pictures in the book." And, I ask, so what? An imperfect scarf can still keep someone warm. Did the project turn out so horribly that it truly couldn't perform its function? Would it really be so obvious that even a non-knitter would look and point out the flaws? I'm betting the answer is, "No!"

My students and friends, never let these things discourage you from knitting! Writers revise. Knitters find another yarn to knit with, different needles, another pattern. Writers and knitters keep writing and knitting. If they can do it, so can you.

So, how to banish the perfectionist that sits on your shoulder and whispers, "Tsk, tsk, those stitches are uneven." Say, "thanks for the information. I'm enjoying this uneven row and will redo it in a minute." Say, "get lost." Say, "It's a scarf and it'll be Ok." And it will.

Whatever you do, don't give up. Don't put down those sticks. Technical expertise (and knitting nirvana) is just over the craft horizon!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Artful Wabi Sabi: What's On the Needle Now

Some people who have seen me knitting in public have commented that they would be afraid that "good yarn" would be wasted on them.

I've been there. Said those same words. I mended my ways (pun intended)! You're worth the good yarn; try it. Artful Yarns pattern 92082 for a cardigan was suggested to me by my teacher (see Dedication) and was a good start in "good" yarn for me. The pattern is easy to read and uses two Artful Yarns: Cinema (cotton/nylon ribbon yarn) and Portrait (mohair, viscose, and polyester). Knitters Review ( has helpful reviews of yarn. The reviewer expresses reservations about the stitches snagging and looking uneven. As you can see, I don't accomplish machine-like precision stitches but I am happy with the results.

Knitting and Time Management for 2008

Do you have a knitting project you've always wanted to try? Want to make someone hand-knit socks? Go ahead: you have the power! Treat yourself to some knitting time: you're worth it.

Make your project a goal and do what it takes to make it happen. I've been through countless time-management classes and they've helped me in my professional life. It was an epiphany when I realized I could transfer that knowledge to my knitting. Here are some tips for you.

  • Make a meeting with yourself. Yes, an old adage by now but do you think they (significant others, children, even the family dog) will let you go out to knit with your buddies so easily?
  • Prioritize your projects. Christmas and Hanukkah are always on their way. Count back from the must complete date to figure out how much time you have for your project and how doable it is.
  • Knitting a sweater for Uncle Darrell is a huge task (since he's well over six feet tall) and may be overwhelming. To avoid UFOs (unfinished objects) set smaller goals that can give you momentum (and keep those stitches from turning too loose or tight with wide gaps in knitting sessions). Set a goal for the back, front, sides, sleeves, etc.
  • Reward yourself! Buy more yarn! Go to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for that double-latte Sip slowly while perusing the latest knitting magazine.
  • Remember to enjoy it! This is not another task on your plate. It's your hobby, passion, and stress-relief!

Britannica's entry for wabi sabi

On this blog, I'll use the "beauty in imperfection" explanation I first heard when I encountered the wabi sabi concept. Here's an entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

The dual influences of East and West have helped construct a modern Japanese culture that offers familiar elements to the Westerner but that also contains a powerful and distinctive traditional cultural aesthetic. This can be seen, for example, in the intricate detail, miniaturization, and concepts of subtlety that have transformed imported visual art forms. This aesthetic is best captured in the Japanese concept of shibui (literally, “astringent”), or refined understatement in all manner of artistic representation. Closely related are the twin ideals of cultivated simplicity and poverty (wabi) and of the celebration of that which is old and faded (sabi). Underlying all three is the notion of life's transitory and evanescent nature, which is linked to Buddhist thought (particularly Zen) but can be traced to the earliest examples of Japanese literature.

"Japan." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Jan. 2008 <>.


This blog is dedicated to Yahoko Paradise of the Knitting Circle in Somerset, Massachusetts. She is the most talented knitter and patient teacher I have ever met. From an imperfect knitter and grateful student: Thank you for everything, Sensei!

Welcome: Pick up those sticks!

The meaning of Wabi Sabi, as was explained to me by a writer and best friend, is the Japanese aesthetic of beauty in imperfection and impermanence. "Perfect!" I thought, for my knitting blog. I am an enthusiastic if imperfect knitter. I also have a touch of the perfectionist about me. My knitting buddies and teacher have offered me encouragement and tips over the years to to keep me knitting and strengthen my skill set. I hope to pass this inspiration and information on to you.

You don't have to be perfect to knit something beautiful. I walked into The Knitting Circle at 30 something having never picked up knitting needles before. Within a month, I was knitting a sweater for my new son. Was it perfect? No. Beautiful? Absolutely! As a writing coach and instructor I have noticed that people have a hard time with the idea of drafts and imperfection. I explain to them that there are these things called learning curves. Even as you travel that curve you can create something meaningful and pleasing to the senses. Same thing goes for knitting.

Do not worry that your tension is not even or that you loose count of your rows. Just keep knitting. And knit some more after that. Know that any craft takes time and dedication and the time you put in is worth it. Your skill will improve and you can enjoy your learning process (and products) as you grow.

If I can do it, so can you! If you have come here to muse about knitting, learn something new, or just pass the time on your lunch hour, I hope you find information and encouragement to cast-on, bind-off, and finish that project.

Happy knitting!