Friday, October 5, 2018

The Drowning Fly

While researching sayings from antique samplers, I came across this verse that was stitched on a sampler from the 1800s. It seems to have appeared in a number of readers from that time period as well.

The Drowning Fly

In yonder glass behold the drowning fly!
Its little feet how vainly does it ply!
Poor helpless insect! And will no one save?
Will no one snatch thee from the threat'ning grave?
My finger's top shall prove a friendly shore:
There, trembler, all thy dangers now are o'er.
Wipe thy wet wings, and banish all thy fear:
Go, join thy num'rous kindred in the air.
Away it flies; resumes its harmless play;
And lightly gambols in the golden ray.
Smile not, spectators, at this humble deed;
For you, perhaps, a nobler task's decreed:
A young and sinking family to save;
To raise the thoughtless from destruction's wave!
To you, for help, the wretched lift their eyes:
Oh! hear, for pity's sake, their plaintive cries;
Ere long, unless some guardian interpose,
O'er their devoted heads the floods may close.

I don't know about you, but I don't care for flies. A kitten? Sure, I'd scoop a poor little kitten out in a heartbeat. But a fly? Flush the toilet already! And yet, the writer of this poem felt compassion for an icky, irritating fly. Normally, I think of myself as compassionate, but this poem makes me think that I'm not nearly as compassionate as I thought I was. And we are seriously lacking in compassion in today's society.

If people today were more compassionate, there would be no bullying. There would be no children mistreated. There would be no one who has never been told they are loved and cared for. Oh, that I would have more compassion for all those around me each moment of every day.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fuzzy Furballs


Mochi the Cat likes to crawl under woolly items to stay warm. She especially likes this afghan and often sleeps on top of it when its on the back of the couch.


Peanut the Dog likes to cuddle up next to someone and be covered by one of my shawls. This keeps both of us nice and warm.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Knitting Design Origin Story



When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was concerned because I had a lot of problems with my hands. I broke so many of our dishes and switched to stainless steel plates and bowls since those don't break if dropped. I couldn't open doors and needed help getting my clothes on and off. Frequently, even holding a knitting needle or crochet hook was difficult. I was discouraged thinking about losing the ability to make things, but then I decided that rather than give up all my creative outlets, I would keep being creative even if the only thing left that I could do was finger paint! 

I didn't have to give up all of my creative pursuits though. I've learned ways to keep my hands working and the medicine I'm on does help with the pain enough so that I can work. My rheumatologist was even surprised that I was fairly calm about being in pain 24/7 since this is one of the most difficult things those with fibro have to adjust to. I told him being able to knit helped relax me and he said to keep doing it. It helps with stress, too.

On the other hand, I wasn't able to continue teaching. The commute bothers my hip to such a degree that I could barely walk once off the bus and not being able to sleep deeply means I have difficulty remembering words. Try teaching how a gerund can act as an adjective when you can't remember the word 'noun.' And then, stressing about whether or not you will be able to remember the words you need for class that day doesn't help either. I miss teaching and have looked for something else to replace it with.

 I've tried a variety of things thinking I might be able to do them, but then a flare would hit. This year, I heard about tech editing. I started proofreading for my dad when I was 16 and have done it off and on all my life. I love it. But, in order to be a good tech editor, I felt that I needed to become a more adventurous knitter and learn to knit well. Um, yes, in the past I'm afraid I've been one of those knitters that said, "Oh, a mistake, great, it adds more design interest." and then keeps knitting.

In February 2018, I started The Knitting Guild Association's Master Hand Knitting Level 1. I'm learning so much! For the certification, there is a lot of research involved in addition to actual knitting. And you pretty much have to knit each swatch until you get it right.

 I've also been doing quite a bit of research on tech editing and, as a result, have also been learning more about designing. I never thought I'd be a good designer or that my designs would be of particular interest to anyone. But, the more I've learned about designing and the design process, the more ideas I've had. I'm starting to see thing from a designer's viewpoint. When you look at decorative sidewalk tiles and think, "That makes me think of seed stitch and it would be great with that yarn I've got at home knit into the perfect, lined summer bag." and then you spend the rest of your grocery trip planning it all out...you've pretty much succumbed. 

I'd also been looking for a simple, lace-weight hat design. I'd found and knit one called "Lace Hair Net" and wore it all the time and loved it. But, I didn't want to own five hats of the same pattern. Plus, I was looking for something a little different. There aren't many lace-weight hats out there. I have hair loss from the fibromyalgia, though, and air conditioning causes migraines. I NEED lightweight summer hats. Surely I can't be the only one!

Then, I took Aroha Knits Swatch Design free workshop. In addition to the hat, I thought of a whole bunch of other "comfort items" that might appeal to others with chronic illnesses or that those who love them might want to make for them. Some of the items would even be great as sets in a gift basket with a few other items. I could even include gifting ideas with the patterns like a winter warmth set. I have several pages of ideas. Many of these things already exist, but I could bring a different perspective. 

If you're in chronic pain and not sleeping, a lace shawl is lovely, but incredibly difficult to knit when you can't keep even a simple stitch pattern in your head. A single simple lace motif set off by markers to remind you of where to make it with stockinette on either side is also lovely, and much better for a flare day. Maybe I'll never be experienced enough to design intricate cables or lace, but I think I could fill a small niche and bring a little bit of joy and comfort to a few people and that's enough. That's why I want to design. At least one good thing has come from having fibromyalgia and that is that I have increased empathy for people who are in chronic pain. I really like the idea of using designing to find ways to help relieve that pain. 



Friday, September 21, 2018

Just Make It One Page!

I have a knitting pattern pet peeve. Well, several really, but let's keep it to just one today. I was printing off several patterns today while making knitting plans and two in a row irked me. One had a huge picture on the front page and about eight lines of instructions on the second page. I'm assuming that the large picture on the first page is her pattern style, but come on, make it a single page with a little bit smaller picture.

The second pattern had a single line on the second page: Weave in ends. Are you kidding? The romance writing at the front could definitely have been shortened so that this one line would fit making it a single page pattern.

Am I the only person that finds this extremely irritating?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Terraced Fields of Jianshui


Pictures don't nearly do justice to these terraced fields flooded for spring planting. I've always thought they would make an interesting knitting pattern with the lines eddying here and there across the surface rippling down the hillsides.




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Market Inspiration


I love wandering around the markets in China. There is so much inspiration. Shapes, colors, and patterns are everywhere. Even at the tobacco vendor!


And the boxes of dried mushrooms, lichen, beans, dates, raisins, peanuts, and goji berries never cease to fascinate me.


There is such a range of colors and sizes in the bags of beans and grains.


The tea vendor sells all kinds of extras for teas, but there is quite a bit of variety even among the different varieties of teas.


What would like for your tea? Some red sugar (in the United States, we say brown sugar) in ingots or large rounds? Maybe you'd like some lotus seeds or goji berries instead?


Don't you just love those bright red strawberries against the green bags?


In addition to regular eggs, there are also several kinds of preserved eggs such as the black Songhua Dan which are also known as 1000 year old eggs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Summer Quarter Handmade Wardrobe Plans


Ever had a bad day turn into a bad week which turned into a bad month? Between the frequent cold, rainy days that cause fibro flare, several migraines, an eye infection, and cramps (Seriously, why can't they give epidurals for killer cramps?). I've just not been feeling well. I haven't been able to do the walking involved to get healthy groceries so trying to eat well has been difficult. And, standing to do the cooking is difficult as well. My nausea has been cranked up along with hot flashes and dizzy spells. Just sitting at the computer is difficult with the nausea and headache much less with cramps. Each day is mostly just survival mode. So, no picture with this post.

I will be at home in China for half of this quarter and visiting friends and family in the US for the other half, so some of my making will be in China, some in the US, with lots of travel knitting time, but limited packing space both ways. The good news is that much better yarns and fabrics are available in the US. Plus, my sewing machine in China is held together with duct tape and rubber bands and in the US, I can borrow my mom's sewing machine. So, while this quarter's planning is a bit tricky, there are some advantages.

China: June to first half of July

* Finish up some gift knitting for US (8 hats)
* Cast on a pair of shortie socks
* Cast on another lacy summer hat
* Sew a Matcha top (First, I have to put the pattern together, though.)
* Work on Starting Point shawl
* Finish green wristers for AC protection

Plane Knitting to US

* Lacy summer hat
* Shortie socks
* Gift hat
We're talking a two 5 hour plane rides, a 14 hour trip, and about 8 hours in airports. I am not running out of knitting while traveling because that would be really, really bad. I need to knit when stressed and everybody around me needs me to knit when I'm stressed.

US: Last half of July to end of August

* Sew a purple French terry skirt
* Sew a second skirt, indigo dyed
* Sew another sleeveless Matcha top, purple
* Sew a long sleeve Matcha top, indigo-dyed
* Maker's Tote? (Indigo-dyed fabric with sashiko stitching and red gingham binding?)
* Knit a Hitchhiker shawl (finish in US)
* Knit an Irish Coffee sweater (get a good start on, plane knitting, finish in China)
* Knit a Barley Light hat
* Indigo dye session: fabric for Matcha top, linen for cross-stitch, skirt fabric, DMC floss, yarn

Plane Knitting to China

* Start Find Your Fade shawl
* Work on Irish Coffee sweater