The Goddess Door

Divine Hand Knits From Door County, Wisconsin

Always Learning

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Lacework is challenging, and beautiful

Lacework is challenging, and beautiful

I have been continuing to knit, and have been trying some new things. There is so much to try and to explore in the world of knitting. Getting bored will not be a problem!

The biggest event of the year for me, knitting wise anyway, was the Friends of Gibraltar Holiday Art Fair. I got to visit with people, friends and new acquaintances, talk knitting, show some of my creations, sell some things, and do some shopping myself as well! It was a great time, and I was happy with my sales. It certainly gave me ideas about what is hot (boot toppers!) and what is not (Halloween hats... just after Thanksgiving!).  I also got several requests for commissions, which are always fun. Just a bit too much to do before Christmas, but that is always the way! In fact, I am feeling a little guilty typing when I should be knitting....

Speaking of learning, I took a bunch of pictures of my knitting in a light box today. Wow, did that make a difference! It's a great way to take pictures of things to sell, with diffuse light and no distractions.

Some yarn, photographed in the light box.  mmmmmmm

Some yarn, photographed in the light box.  mmmmmmm

And, speaking of learning, I am thinking I would like to more formally teach knitting. I love it so, and am developing an idea about a good way to introduce people to it, casting on, knitting, tinking, purling, casting off... I think it will work. 

So, overall, the kids are busy, I am busy and working more, and knitting is engrossing, challenging, and a great stress relief for dealing with the rest.  Just checking in. And finding there is a lot to look forward to.

Here's to good things ahead!

 

The Busyness and the Business

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June 25th at Top of the Hill Shops, these are some of the things that will be for sale!

June 25th at Top of the Hill Shops, these are some of the things that will be for sale!

So, The Goddess Door is officially an LLC now! That doesn't mean I will leave my main job as a physical therapist (which I love, and will have to write more about sometime). It also doesn't mean I have figured out how to make a profit selling knitwear, even the really gorgeous stuff.

It means that I am going to sell my things at an event, and I want to pay taxes (as I should) on stuff I sell. I have been partnering up with others who collect and pay the taxes for us both, but I figured it was about time I make the leap. And, maybe, someday, I will learn how to make some money with this thing that I love to do. I suspect that might involve writing and selling patterns, which I find pretty exciting! So, I am all set up to move ahead, if that is how things proceed.

The kids and I are doing pretty good. This is the first week of their summer break, and they are deep into Vacation Bible School, Camp Cool, soccer, and piano lessons. We have canoeing, camping, kayaking, sailing, and zip-lining planned over the summer. I can knit during only some of those things!

I haven't blogged in quite a while. The Vincent and the Doctor post was very meaningful for me, and I almost felt like... well, what do you say after that?  I still think of Don often, I still miss him terribly, and I work to keep his memory alive for his sons.  And I am also continuing to live, love, and create. So, I will try to write a bit more often. There are really fun yarn and knitting ideas percolating in my brain!

Oh, the event! Do you know about the Pirates in the Harbour?  Well, on June 25th, they are having an event at Top of the Hill Shops!  Here is the description from their website:

June 25th - Our 1st ever "Partying With The Pirates" bash at the Top Of The Hill Shops in Fish Creek - Their will be various crafters and a lot of great shops to find just the Door County souvenir or gift you've dreamed of. We'll be serving our famous Cheeseburgers in Paradise AND some great craft beers from Door County Brewing Company for consumption in our beer garden for those of legal age. Profits from this event will be for the 4 food pantries in Door County.

I hope to see you there!

 


 

Vincent and the Doctor

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Warning: there might be some Doctor Who spoilers in here. Not for the new episodes, of course (I wish!), but better to be forewarned if you are slowly working your way through the episodes.

Quaere Fibers Silk and Merino wool in the colorway Vincent and the Doctor

Quaere Fibers Silk and Merino wool in the colorway Vincent and the Doctor

 

So the other day, my oldest son read me the following quote:

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

and I questioned, "and who said that?"

"the 10th Doctor, David Tennant"

"In which episode?"

"Blink!"

Parenting Win!!  I actually think I may have pumped my fist in the air. Hehe.

The reason I am bringing this up in my knitting blog? Well, we've been watching from Series 1, in order, only skipping a few that were extra scary. I asked the other day if we could skip ahead to my favorite episode, with the 11th doctor and Amy, called "Vincent and the Doctor."  The kids said sure, so we watched it.

The part that I like the best is when they take Van Gogh forward in time to learn the lasting influence that his life and art has had on the world. The curator at the museum explains his view of Van Gogh's art, and how Van Gogh portrayed life in ways ... well, I think another quote is needed here.

The Doctor: Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?
Curator: Well... um... big question, but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.

 

We watched that on the six month anniversary of Don's death. And I thought of the lasting influence of an incredible life, a quiet and ordinary life, a precious life. The best part of that episode is the possibility of knowing, before you are gone, all the influence and importance of your ordinary life.  Don watched that episode on his Kindle one of the days he was getting chemo. I was sitting with him, knitting and listening to the episode as he watched. He cried, of course; he was very sentimental that way. I hope he had just an inkling, maybe just an idea, of how very much he was loved.

So, I had ordered some lovely yarn, pictured at the top of the blog, a few months ago. I was wondering what to do with it. After watching the show, I had a vision. I dug around in stitch dictionaries, and found an idea. I modified and played with it, and wrote out my own directions, and started the shawl you see in the picture. I am really happy with the way the colors and stitches are playing out, reminding me of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

I probably won't sell this one. But if you see me wearing it, come and admire the colors, the swirl of the fabric, the softness and drape of the knitting. I will wear it to celebrate that extraordinary, ordinary life that changed our lives forever.

And one final quote:

Vincent Van Gogh: [Explaining how he sees the world] Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is, in fact deep blue. And over there: lighter blue and blowing through the blues and blackness the winds swirling through the air and then shining, burning, bursting through: the stars!
[the sky gradually transforms into van Gogh’s painting Starry Night]
Vincent Van Gogh: And you see how they roar their light. Everywhere we look, the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.
The Original

The Original


Second Sock Syndome

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Learning new things, being creative and challenging yourself is one of the greatest joys in life. In knitting, this means trying a new technique (Fish Lip Kiss Heel: it's a thing!), or yarn or even style of knitting.  Try textured stitches, or mosaic knitting, or stranded color work. Knit with cotton or linen or even plastic. Knit Continental, English, or Peruvian! Add beads. make lace, and if you really want a new challenge, you can even knit backwards.

This is great fun, and many people have spent lifetimes enjoying the depth of knowledge to be explored in the fiber arts. However, there does come a time, as when making socks, when the knitter is denied that pleasure. When the first sock is done, and you ... have to do...  the exact. same. thing. again.

Working on the first sock. Ah, simpler times.

Working on the first sock. Ah, simpler times.

Handmade socks are the bomb, but it takes time. Time you have to spend repeating what you just did, and not trying that unusual Celtic knot scarf you have your eye on. For example.

This problem is not mine alone, and it's called Second Sock Syndrome. We recently had the opportunity to travel, and I brought socks to work on. Socks are good travel knitting; they don't take up much space and you can spend lots of pleasurable knitting time on that sock. That one sock.

So, perseverance! I finished the rainbow sock, in the Jaywalker pattern, and I have even started on the second. The purple and blue sock only got as far as the last picture; it's in the Starflower pattern.

This is what I worked on when we returned from our travels:

A lovely Irish shawl made with Australian yarn, in Wandering Aran Fields

A lovely Irish shawl made with Australian yarn, in Wandering Aran Fields

It's washed and blocking to dry; just need to sew buttons on in the next few days. So, still trying new things and having fun!

And eventually, probably, will finish those socks.

Picking Up Stitches

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I've been working on several custom orders the last few months. Oh, the Fair that I wrote about in my previous post was a grand success, and my inventory is low! What a problem to have! I really haven't been able to knit as much the past few months, either, but mainly that is also a very good thing. When I'm not at work, I've been meeting friends for lunch, walking in the woods, starting to run again, and taking the kids on adventures (we tried ice skating and went to a barn dance). The connections and caring from my friends and neighbors in Door County has been tremendous. Most days I am happy. That's surprising to me, but I'm very grateful for it.

Frosted shadows on a magical winter day

Frosted shadows on a magical winter day

My blog is brief tonight; the kids want to play a board game. But I am still here, still knitting in the quiet hours, and planning for some wonderful new creations to come!

Something to Look Forward to...

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One day at a time. I've been busy with the kids, celebrating a 9th birthday, getting back into after-school activities, and getting myself back to work.  I've also gotten back into knitting, to relax, to occupy my hands, to make things that I love.

Orange Hat and Cowl Set

Orange Hat and Cowl Set

Grief comes in waves, and I know there are times when I just pretend it didn't happen. Coping. There is a lot of good left in the world, so much of it in these wonderful kids. It's very hard to see how much they miss their Papa, but they are so busy with friends, tormenting each other, playing video games, learning baseball, learning to read, dance class, Sunday school, getting sick, getting better, learning to handle emotions... if I had been at all worried I would stay in a fetal position under the covers, I now know that isn't an option! At least not all the time. cough.

So, my knitting thing to look forward to is the Holiday Fair the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It's at the Village Hall in Sister Bay, and my mom and I will have a table! I will have all my things there, and I am pretty excited. I've made a few more hats to sell at the Fair (it benefits Friends of Gibraltar, and is sometimes called the FoG Fair).  She has gorgeous hand made boxes using beautiful fine papers and paper that she's marbled.

It is fun to create. See that Meditation in Motion idea. I do love knitting.

Here are a couple of my new hats:

Gnarly hat in stripes

Gnarly hat in stripes

Bulky Stained Glass Hat

Bulky Stained Glass Hat

When it all comes unraveled

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Sometimes something wonderful falls apart. The worst happens. It doesnt seem fair or right or kind.  Not really talking about knitting this time.

A photo taken a few weeks ago.

A photo taken a few weeks ago.

My wonderful husband of 10 years died last Monday. Its hard to know what to say, its so awful. And I feel a strange combination of raw and numb. All I know is the world feels wrong. I loved him tremendously and I want him to be with me.

The kids are sad, I am sad. The Memorial is tomorrow, and I feel like Im in a nightmare that wont end.

Im using Barbara Walkers top-down knitting book to design a sweater. Its the softest and gentlest Alpaca you can imagine. It will hug me and keep me warm.

I dont really know how to repair knitting very well. When theres a hole, when something is torn away. Maybe I will learn how to patch things enough to keep going. Maybe someday I can imagine things whole.

Sure love these kids

Sure love these kids

When you buy something from me, you're helping support my family. Thank you.

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This is a paraphrase from a recent Just One More Row podcast. I listened to it while walking with the dog on a hot and humid day, and this phrase really resonated with me. Even though my Etsy sales have been nothing to write home about (although thank you for the hats you bought, Sara!!), I've been doing a fair amount of custom request knitting, and it has been so fun. It's been fun to make things in colors that someone picks, out of the perfect fabric, and to practice creativity and challenge my skills. It also has been very touching because I know that several people are asking me to knit in order to help us out.

I haven't blogged in a while. It's been hard to separate my private life from my knitting life, and it's near impossible to know what to say about how things are right now.  I want this blog to be something fun, about knitting and part of my distraction / coping mechanism. But the real life issues are just too much to ignore. My husband has cancer. It's spread from his leg to his groin, to his abdomen, and most recently to his lungs and his spine. Things are very scary right now.

My darling Don

But I want to write about how knitting and this community is helping us get through this. My previous post on meditation in motion is very true for me. Knitting calms me down when I am going nuts, waiting in doctor offices, worrying. I even walk and knit! I get a lot made, and keep my fingers and my mind busy.

Even more than that, I've learned how caring and wonderful so many people around me are. We are blessings to each other. Parents of my kids' friends have offered to entertain and help with kid transport, we've been gifted with food and funds and prayers, and our church family is supporting us with a concert and silent auction (I have some knitting there, too!) .  So, even though it seems so strange, I feel absolutely lucky.  Our tragedy unfolds, but there is still love, there is still good, there will be a tomorrow, and we are not alone.

Well, damn it, now I made myself cry. Good thing I have a strong suspicion that my mom is the only one that reads my blog! haha!

Okay, here's something fun I've been working on: LEG WARMERS! Yes, seriously!

Dancing on the Door is a new dance studio opening in Egg Harbor, WI. The owner, Andria, asked if I would be interested in selling some of my knitting there. Yahoo! Leg warmers for little and big dancers! I am so stoked. The first pair I've made is SPARKLY. Oh Yes. Next, I'm working on some fuchsia lacy leg warmers and/or boot toppers. It will take a good few weeks, but I think I should have about 5 pairs for sale pretty soon. Here's a fun article on how to wear leg warmers. You know you want to.

And as my items expire on Etsy, I think I will look for a local vendor to connect with... Spot in Sister Bay (link opens to their Facebook site) has already stocked hats (so don't need my cool hats, even though THEY ARE SO COOL), but might be interested in some wool house socks, which I could work on.  Or maybe another shop would be interested in soft and wonderful winter hats. I will keep looking.

I am also thinking of a sweater for Don, my wonderful husband. But, I am feeling weirdly superstitious about it. It will take a couple months, and I just don't know where we will be by then. Plus, I want him to really like it!!  So, am looking for just the right pattern, just the right thing, just something perfect.  No pressure. :-p

And if you have read my blog, thank you. Day by day, with knitting needles in hand!

Meditation in Motion

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The relaxation response is a powerful one, able to alter our body chemistry and structure. It can enhance our ability to cope with stress, illness, financial woes, jerks in traffic.. ahem. Any of that.  I've done some guided imagery, yoga, meditations over the years, but none of those things stuck with me as a daily practice.  It wasn't until I started running that I really learned what kind of meditation works for me.  It involves repetitive motion.

Been there, dog that

Been there, dog that

I think, or calmly don't think, when I am in focus and moving. Sometimes it feels like FLOW, like a musician playing their instrument, like a child being rocked to sleep, like a great song with a rhythm that thumps with your heartbeat. And everything else is gone, just the quiet footfalls or needle clicks to focus on.  And then the counting.

First Door County Half Marathon, an amazing race.

First Door County Half Marathon, an amazing race.

I started counting footfalls when I focused on cadence with my running: how many times did my left foot hit the ground in 30 seconds?  and can I increase that number to shorten my stride length?  It reminds me of counting to 10 when you are upset; counting alone is calming, but counting and moving gives a real boost to the relaxation response.

In knitting, there's not always a lot of counting, but sometimes there is: 1 knit, 2 knit, 1 purl, 2 purl, and slip. Just like watching the kids' dance class!  (Well, I don't thing they try to slip.)  But over and over, the meditation is deep, with focus on each stitch and the dance of the loops, around and around.

And what is that relaxation response? It's the opposite of the fight or flight response. Think of a big adreneline rush: heart rate jumps, muscles clench, palms sweat. And in your body, hormones are released, the immune response is suppressed, the ability to digest is inhibited. Oh, you've seen those stupid "stress = a big belly" commercials, ugh.  But, yeah.

The relaxation response is when your heart rate slows, your muscles become less tense, your hands are warmer. And people who are able to achieve this relaxation response regularly seem to have less inflammation in their bodies, and stronger immune systems.  This journal article is an interesting summary, if you are interested in more.

So knit, dance, run, breathe, for your health and for fun, and to make good things.  

kiss.jpg

Wool is Amazing!

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I used to think I didn't like wool. I pictured a scratchy and stiff wool sweater against my bare skin, and shuddered. That's before I found out two things: 1) there are many kinds of wool, some very soft and pliable and 2) wool is amazing!

Cool summer style (yes, the sheephearders thing bothers me, too, but it came with the image!)

Cool summer style (yes, the sheephearders thing bothers me, too, but it came with the image!)

Wool is a breathable fabric, providing light insulation for warmth in the winter and to help keep you cool in warmer temperatures.  It can absorb up to 30% of it's weight in moisture without feeling wet (ever sweated in a cotton t-shirt? blech).  I've worn a wool sweater I made for myself on rainy days, and dashing into the store and back out through the rain results in no heaviness, no chill from damp, just comfortable warmth.

If you've bought synthetic exercise clothes, after a while you've learned about the dreaded stink problem. The synthetic fibers hold onto sweaty odors even after washing.  Wool does the opposite. Because of the nature of the crimp in the fibers, dirt stays on the surface and odors don't penetrate.  Never use strong soaps or bleach on wool, because that will make the fibers stiff and you lose some of wool's magic. Gentle detergents will wash away any dirt and keep some of the oils that make wool so soft and water repellent.

Wool is also naturally fire retardant. Wool is renewable and doesn't require killing an animal. Wool is naturally resistant to mold and mildew.  It also doesn't collect static, which means less dust and allergens in the fabric.

Wool felts, which is pretty cool if that's your plan, very sad if it isn't. Felting means that the fibers cling to each other in fear (paraphasing EZ), making for a thick and firm fabric much smaller than the original unfelted item.  Here's a pair of felted slippers I made:

These were in the dryer until they had shrunk to the right size, then brought out to air dry the rest of the way. I placed bags with rice inside to shape them, because they stay very much in the shape they are pulled and stretched into when drying.  

These were in the dryer until they had shrunk to the right size, then brought out to air dry the rest of the way. I placed bags with rice inside to shape them, because they stay very much in the shape they are pulled and stretched into when drying.

 

When one is knitting, wool is the bomb. It has a little stretch to it, and is comfortable to your hands. After knitting with 100% cotton or linen (no stretch at all!), you appreciate the softness and comfort of wool even more!  And acrylic yarn feels all plasticy, a bit like the plastic coated rope used to make clothesline.  It is fine in its place, but for anything next to the skin, I'd prefer at least some wool content.

What about a wool allergy? From my reading online (i.e. not a wool allergy expert here), it sounds like the lanolin in the wool can cause an allergy, which is fairly rare. Those people would also be allergic to lotions and makeup with lanolin in them. Many people who say they have a wool allergy have had an itchy sweater experience instead. Maybe some fine merino would be in order?  Some people do develop a rash and hives and all that, so I don't mean to discount a real problem, but again, it's fairly rare.  

If you are just unsure about wool, give it a try. It's great for sports, outdoors activities, and keeping warm, but also for luxurious softness and high style. It takes dyes well, and rich, amazing, vibrant colors exist. Here's a picture of a wool sock yarn I just bought:

Peacock colors!

Peacock colors!

And there are superwash wools out there. They are coated with some magic material that allows them to be thrown in the washer and dryer. Pretty cool stuff, which I like for baby and kids knits, because it's just easier.  One thing I've learned with superwash, though, is that the object will grow a bit because the fibers don't grab each other as much, so after wearing your hat or socks or whatever, you might find it's loose on you. It will tighten back up after washing and drying, but this quality is unique to superwash wools only.  Just a little tip if you are handwashing and lying flat to dry: your hat might fit a melon after a while!

Regular wool that isn't superwash can be washed by hand, which isn't too big a deal. I use Soak or Eucalin, which comes in nice scents. Just fill a bowl with lukewarm water, add a cap of the wash, wet the item and let it soak for 20 minutes, then rinse once in the same temperature water (no agitation or wringing).  I lay it out flat to dry, or shape it over a bowl or styrofoam head (doesn't everyone have one of those?).  Washing doesn't need to happen very often for hats or outerwear, as dirt doesn't penetrate. I will let things hang outside to air out occasionally, and that is always nice.

So, yes, wool is a pleasure to knit, a pleasure to wear, lovely, and practical.  If you look at my Etsy shop, you will see that I often use at least some wool content in the things I make. And oh, don't get me started on Alpaca: yum!

Any thoughts or questions about wool? Feel free to share in the comments!

Knitting Podcasts

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Is everyone as addicted to Podcasts as I am? There are humorous, newsy, strange, and wonderful Podcasts posted every day. I love RadioLab, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Freakonomics, but my most favorite are the knitting Podcasts.

Each one different and unique, yet lovely in its own way...just like podcasts!

Each one different and unique, yet lovely in its own way...just like podcasts!

Here are some wonderful Knitting Podcasts (there are many more!) that I'd recommend you check out:

Knitmore Girls  This podcast is always entertaining and informative. Gigi and Jasmin, a mother and daughter team, talk knitting, spinning, and life. My favorite part is the focus on new challenges and laughing about mistakes.

Knitting Pipeline Paula is a knitter and designer living in Illinois who is also bagpipe player and nature lover.

Some others that I like to listen to are Commuter Knitter, Just One More Row, Down Cellar Studio, Twinset Designs, and a videocast called Geeky Girls Knit.

Lots of entertainment while walking, washing dishes, or knitting late at night. Even if you don't love knitting, there has to be a podcast about something that you'd love to listen to!

Knit Along

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A Knit Along is also known as a KAL, and a Crochet Along is a CAL (both pronounced the same way!). There are even things called KAL CALs where a person can knit or crochet. I know, I know, those bicrafters are a wild bunch! I've only dabbled in crochet, myself.

Anyway, I am joining a KAL for the Sister Bay shawl.  It started yesterday, so I'm a bit late. Today, I'm home with a powerful virus, sleeping and burning off a fever, so... I am starting anyway and hoping for the best!   These are the yarn colors that I've chosen:

KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Sport in Thirst Heather and Sagebrush

KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Sport in Thirst Heather and Sagebrush

The shawl pattern is so pretty, and I'm excited to start. Also am working on the selfish knitting project, the Alecia Beth, that I blogged a bit about last time. I'm already on the sleeves, but I made some modifications that I'm unsure about (mainly a shorter twisted rib edging). I might rip out the bottom and redo it, but I'll wait until the sleeves are done and I try it on to decide.

Then I have a few gifts to knit. And, oh yes, I should probably make something to sell! Hat and mitten sets seemed to win out in my informal Facebook poll (versus hat and scarf sets). I am behind in my knitting!  Oh, glad to have such problems :-D

Shamelessly stolen off the interwebs...

Shamelessly stolen off the interwebs...

For the kal, you knit the same project as other people, at around the same pace (although everyone varies, and kal organizers are varied in how strict they are about kal start and finish times). There's a forum page to discuss yarn choices, get advice on challenging techniques, and show off pictures.  The forum is almost always on Ravelry, which is the best Knitting and Crochet website ever. Seriously.  And then there are usually prizes randomly chosen for those who participate.  A great way to meet lots of talented knitters, too.  I'll show a picture here, too, later on as I progress with the Sister Bay Shawl.

Selfish Knitting

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There's a secret language to knitting. The lovely and descriptive words and phrases: knit, purl, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over.  There are also the phrases and slang that you have to google the first time you see them: WIP (work in progress), FO (finished object), UFO (unfinished object), knitworthy (woe to you if you prove to be not!).

Selfish knitting reflects the fact that knitters often make something lovingly unique and customized and perfect for someone they know. And, occasionally that someone is the knitter herself or himself! This week, my plans have been on baby knits (I will wait until these things are gifted to post links or pictures, but there sure are a lot of fun baby things to make!). And I've been working on the above cardigan for me, the Alecia Beth by Justyna Lorkowska.  It is gorgeous, in a handdyed yard by Madeline Tosh (Pashmina in the colorway baltic). It will have 3/4 length sleeves, and a neckline and button band with lots of buttons (either 12 or 15) down the front. Enjoyable to knit, but slow because the yarn is thin.  Looking forward to wearing it when it's all done!

And I ordered some yarn for matching hat and mitten, and hat and scarf sets. That will be fun! After my selfish knitting is done ...

Wisconsin's Knitting Heritage

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When I started knitting, I didn't know that Wisconsin had such a rich and valuable knitting history. A lot of that comes from one Elizabeth Zimmermann. She has often been called a knitting genius, with good reason. Her designs are still startling and unique, and she "unvented" many new techniques, such as the i-cord (idiot cord). She was also funny, wry, and encouraging, especially encouraging knitters to be thinking knitters and not blind followers with patterns.

Baby Surprise Jacket, a very fun pattern. Knitting this is an exercise in trust that's been amazing knitters for years!

Baby Surprise Jacket, a very fun pattern. Knitting this is an exercise in trust that's been amazing knitters for years!

Her daughter and grandson now continue the business she started: Schoolhouse Press.  They publish valuable knitting books to keep unique techniques accessible, sell gorgeous yarns, and continue to design and publish patterns.  My knitting dream some day is to go to one of their summer knitting workshops.  ahhh, maybe when the kids are grown!

There are also knitting connections here in Door County! I've used homegrown yarn from Nora Ahlen's Homestead Sheep and Fiber Products. Not only does she spin and dye her yarn, she also raises the sheep and trains (and competes with) the dogs who herd the sheep, along with her husband Jim. The entire extent of my knowledge on that subject comes from the movie Babe, but I still greatly appreciate her talent and skill!  She does not have a website, but enjoys when people call and come to visit her for yarn. I got to meet the sheep that donated the wool that I bought.  That was pretty darn cool.

Nora's sport weight hand dyed wool (Romney Wensleydale blend)

Nora's sport weight hand dyed wool (Romney Wensleydale blend)

There's a Door County Shepherds Market in May that I've attended the last two years, and has been a wonderful source of yarn and lovely finished objects.

There are even patterns for sale that celebrate Door County! Sister Bay, Ellison Bay, and Gill's Rock are all names of gorgeous shawls designed by Paula Emons-Fuessle from Washington, Illinois, who enjoys visiting Door County. I listen to Paula on Knitting Pipeline, her audio podcast, which celebrates knitting, nature, and music. I really need to make a Sister Bay one of these days!

So, I feel like I am in the right place and the right time to knit, create, and connect with the wonderful knitters of Wisconsin!  Did I miss any more connections that you know about? Feel free to share in the comments.

Happy 4th of July!

KnittingThe Goddess DoorComment

I am pretty tired. What a busy and kinda crazy 4th of July! So many people up here in Door County, and the weather is amazing: in the 70's with a light breeze and sunny. Everyone seems to have their own backyard fireworks, echoing off the water, so I probably will be up for a little while.  On the knitting front, I finished a gorgeous hat today, my own design using hand-dyed wool from Manos del Uruguay (Maxima in the Fire colorway) and a complimentary gold color (Cascade 220 goldenrod).  I used a stranded stitch pattern from Alice Starmore, an Eastern horizontal repeat. 

Close up of my new hat, one of a kind!

Close up of my new hat, one of a kind!

And, although I am really enjoying using Squarespace to put together this website, I have no earthly clue how to size my pictures better, so, I suspect this one will look huge, too. (hey, figured out how to make it smaller! Later edited)  But here's me modeling my just-finished hat:

Yes, it's a knitting selfie. Deal with it.

Yes, it's a knitting selfie. Deal with it.

I posted a picture (in night lighting) of the WIP (work in progress) on Facebook, because I was so enjoying the colors and yarn.  Here's the picture:

Delicious yarn

Delicious yarn

A friend of mine posted that it looked like spaghetti. She is completely right. Maybe I should have whipped up a meatball repeat hat right on the spot. Oh, well.

-from the Lady with her Hair on Fire

Designers Rock!

The Goddess DoorComment
Fire Hat I designed using a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, with Merino hand-dyed from Manos del Uruguay

Fire Hat I designed using a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, with Merino hand-dyed from Manos del Uruguay

So when I first started making knitted items, I followed the pattern to the letter. Then, I started to improvise, changing a few things here and there, learning how to improve the fit of a sweater. And I made a few mistakes, which were very good learning moments.  ahem. yes.  Along the way, I've become better at ripping back and doing things over, although that is still not as much fun as some other things. But it's satisfying to be able to fix errors, and make the image in my head come out in the yarn.

As I've gone along, I've really come to appreciate good design. Knitting patterns that one buys often come with variations, stitch counts all prefigured for you depending on your gauge and size. And the method of construction sometimes is very unique, and makes for an interesting knitting experience.

One of my favorite designers is Lee Meredith, from Leethal Knits. I've knit several of her hats, mitts, and small knitting projects. She has a great eye for color and amazing photos of her projects. She often uses recycled yarn or leftover bits to create gorgeous combinations that use every last bit of yarn stash wisely.  In my Etsy store, I have three hats designed by Lee (Wild is the Wind, Barry, and Misanga). She's said that knitters can sell items created from her patterns within reason (and after giving credit), which is another thing that I love about her.

And that brings me to my next point: the ambiguous world of selling knitwear from other's patterns. I want to do the right thing here, so I have dutifully respected designers comments requesting that one not sell items one makes from their patterns.  Mostly, lately, that means I don't knit that pattern, as I am knitting up things to stock up my Etsy store.  That has limited me from making some cool looking things, but also.... has made me come up with my own designs.

So, minor complaint: I am not a knitting machine, I am a mom, Physical Therapist, and just as crazy busy as the next person.  If I pay $6 for a pattern, that I spend many hours making with expensive and unique yarns that I choose, why does the designer not want me to sell that item? I am not mass producing things, or devaluing their hard work. My promoting of their patterns might lead other knitters to buy the pattern.

Okay, but this situation has had a very cool result: my own designing skills are getting pretty groovy! I am taking my own ideas, and having lots of fun making up items, stitch counts, decreases, all that. It is awesome, and I think that's the direction I will be going more and more. Making my own designs to create and sell. Maybe someday I will sell the patterns, too, but that will be a ways off, if I ever go that direction.

So, really, designers do rock. I have so much respect and appreciation for the creativity and hard work that goes into design. And, in a round about way, designers are making me better at what I do.

Getting Started

The Goddess DoorComment

Hi, I'm Jenn, a Physical Therapist, a wife, and a mom of two wonderful boys. I also love to knit, and have lots of fun doing it. I like to get creative, play with ideas, and create lovely and unique things out of beautiful yarn. Color and texture make me oooh and ahhhh. I can get lost in a decrease plan. Slipped stitches and complicated colorwork are my idea of crazy weekend fun.

I can be a knitting nerd, but would like to spare my family and friends too much pain.  So, that's one of the reasons I've started this blog! To talk knitting, yarns, ideas, and of course to share my Etsy store.

Another reason is that we are dealing with cancer. My husband has squamous cell skin cancer in his lymph nodes, and has just started chemo and radiation after having four surgeries. It has been a rough 7 months or so. I need something joyful and undemanding.  Kids and work are wonderful and fulfilling, but not undemanding, you understand. So when I can focus on something else to distract myself from the incredible stress and fear that wears you down on the cancer journey, I will do it!

 In addition to knitting, I love to run, too. I am slow but dedicated and running is very helpful for me in many ways. I can run in the mornings and it keeps me calm for the day. I can also run to raise funds and support great causes.  Wonderful, amazing people are involved in knitting and in running. In both communities, there is dedication, discussion of fine detail, and lots of laughter.

So, I hope if you are reading this,  you are enjoying getting to know me through the blog, browsing my items for sale, and learning a little while laughing a lot. I am open to talking Physical Therapy, knitting, or running, even cancer, marriage, and parenthood.