What is it about water?

I love water.

I grew up in the Seattle area, living near the water, and most days I saw this view from the house I grew up in.

Olympic Mountains Above the Sound

Blue water in the summer, steel grey water during the rest of the year, ferry boats and the sounds of fog horns most mornings.  You never know how wonderful something is until you don’t have it anymore.

Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in the dry, hot (and very urban) East Bay.  Most days, my view looks like this.

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OK, so this is a different kind of beautiful (the natives say), but there just isn’t enough green for me.  Definitely not enough water, EXTRA definitely not enough rain.

Yes, this is the Bay Area, so yeah there is a bay of water – and a pretty large one at that.  But, for me, it takes a Major Effort to get to the water, and the water that is closest to me is actually pretty undesirable.  (Do a Google image search for “the SF Bay Delta” and you’ll know what I mean.)  The ocean (yes, the Pacific Ocean!) is just on the other side of San Francisco, but it takes a Herculean Effort of Mass Transit Magnitude for me to get there.  Bottom line is, I was really spoiled to grow up with the Puget Sound in my backyard, and only now do I truly feel the impact of that fact.

At this point in the year, my husband and I make our annual pilgrimage to some water-place, somewhere that’s not too crowded, where the water is the dominant feature of the landscape, where the sound of ocean/river/etc fills your ears louder than the birds/wind/etc.  [Ideally, rain is also a part of this pilgrimage but that rarely happens (sigh).]  I start to go crazy in late August/early September.  At this point in the year, it has been so long since I’ve seen or heard real rain (calm.com app is great for fake rain), since I’ve felt that cool fresh breeze come up off the water, since there was just ONE stinking cloud in the sky…I feel wholly parched.  Total soul dehydration.  The pilgrimage helps restore me with views that usually look like this.

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When I’m there (above, Pacific Grove CA), I am full of calm and creativity.  Food tastes better.  Breathing seems easier.  Impending deadlines and work stresses seem completely manageable.  Absolutely nothing my husband does is irritating.  So, what is it about water?

This article in today’s Huffington Post touches on some of the reasons.

Interestingly, sitting by a real, crackling fire can also induce a lot of the brain effects mentioned in the above article.  Water and Fire: two very raw pieces of earthly existence.

For me, I think, I love water (and fire) for the same reason I love knitting.  It’s repetitive simplicity *and* mind-blowing complexity all in one.  The waves hit the shore over and over, but consider what is within the wave: energy, microscopic life, a whole little world unto itself.  A fire’s flames leap and crackle somewhat predictably, but within each flame it’s a combustion chemistry field day.  Likewise, a simple stockinette hat is about as soothing as a knitting project can get, and yet consider the finished object: what makes the yarn (the material, the animal, the land), the needles, and the hands that made each stitch.  I do the same thing over and over and over to make this hat, but I can’t look at the hat without a flood of thoughts entering my mind about what went into dreaming of and making that hat.  (Which makes gift-giving a trifle hard for me.)

They are simple and not-simple; things in which anyone can participate, but no one can ever master.

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Journey

Already thinking about my next project…this fantastic shawl (Onward)…

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from this fantastic pattern collection…

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using this fantastic yarn I picked up at Tolt last month.

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Is it just me, or is it impossible to focus on just your current WIP(s)?  I’m always planning/scheming what’s next….

PNW Adventures

Back now, safe and sound, from a lovely adventure back to the land of my people in the Pacific Northwest.  

I enjoyed hours admiring my grandfather’s garden.

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My sister and I went CRAY-ZAY at Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, WA.

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The lavender fields smelled like the spa.

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And lots and lots of other wonderful things of which I neglected to photograph.  Strangely, I didn’t knit much on this trip (yes, it *is* hard to believe), so now I have much catching up to do.

Knit on!  (and kettle on, too)

EZ Swatching

Like most knitters (I think), I don’t especially love to swatch. When I start a new project, I always go back and forth as to whether I really *need* to swatch, and if I do, how small of a swatch can I get away with.

And on nearly every skimpy-swatching occassion, I end up with a garment that doesn’t fit very well. Argh.

So, I’m starting a new sweater project (a KAL with the lovely Espino) and here I go again debating if and how much I should swatch. The Devil on my shoulder says, “oh just make a little square, back and forth, it’s close enough.” The Angel on the other shoulder says “you better make your swatch in the round or you *know* it won’t be accurate!” And then Elizabeth Zimmerman walks up behind me, swats the Devil/Angel off my shoulders, and says “why not knit a swatch cap?” Oh you wise and wonderful woman.

I’m not sure why – but the swatch cap doesn’t *feel* like a swatch. It’s a hat! I’m not knitting for calibration (which really isn’t a bad reason to be knitting), I’m knitting a future finished object that will have a practical-wearing use. And, I’ve also learned the hard way, if you don’t block your swatch, then why on earth did you even bother knitting a swatch?? The swatch cap is a perfect little blocking garment too (dries fast).

So, I’m half way through my Merle/BT Loft swatch cap and I’m so glad I listened to EZ. Granted, I’m going to take a little longer to get to the sweater (sorry, Espino, I’m knitting as fast as I can), but I’m confident that this sweater is going to fit me (and not the poor person I gift it to because I can’t bear to see this beautiful sweater just sitting in my closet).

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The Yarn Blob

The Yarn Blob

I cast on for a triangular shawl, got bored with it, increased like a mad-woman, joined the round, through in eyelets wherever I felt like it, switched between st st and garter st and st st and more garter st, and now here she is. I have no idea what this “will be” after I cast off, but I’m not sure that it really matters. Did I mention I have yet to throw in two more colors?

Sometimes knitting needs to be beyond pattern free.

Hitchhiking

I’ve been obsessed with Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker pattern lately.  I love the simplicity of the pattern, but even more so, the way this pattern brings out the best in every variegated yarn.  I have three versions on the needles this week.

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Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label, Lucky Penny, US 4

 

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Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label, OOAK colorway (can’t remember name), US 5

 

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Regia Jacquard, Color 07204, US 3 – and my first attempt at using Hitchhiker with a self-striping yarn.  I think the result is going to be incredible!

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New Pattern – Vibranium

New Pattern - Vibranium

Captain America goes nowhere without his Vibranium Shield; you will go nowhere without your Vibranium Shawl. Knit using Brooklyn Tweed, this shawl is tough enough to deflect villain super powers. And you’ll be very stylish while doing so.

Materials
400 yds Brooklyn Tweed Shelter or other worsted weight yarn in three colors (130 yds each)
(Colors postcard, camper, faded quilt shown in picture.)
US 8 needles, 32” circular

Measurements
60” wingspan / 16” height at center

Gauge
15 sts / 34 rows = 4” in garter stitch

This was a fun, simple project that was really hard to put down! Shelter is a wonderful material to work with, everything about it is a wool-lover’s dream.