Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Good Community Yarn

This post is a true Yarn From the Southland. No fiber, no knitting, no crochet. A yarn in the sense of a good story about how I spent my day. And the lesson I learned. Today I was privileged to be a professional volunteer. I was part of a community review team that visited two nonprofits in the area.

Our team is just one of many that goes out and visits good organizations that have applied for funds to continue good works. We review programs, speak with members of the Board of Directors, interact with each Executive Director, walk around the facility, and ask questions. The goal is to gather information that supports the application for funding.

One facility my team visited today was a home for women recovering from substance abuse. Just walking into the yard of the house felt like coming home. This particular house is not an institution. It is a home. I was truly impressed by a program that expects 24/7 cooperation and educates women on how to lead a sober life. This is just one of three group homes in the area.

In addition to the professionals and Board members, we met women who are graduates of the program. Graduates! And they are employed full time, volunteering and giving back, reuniting with family and helping other women to pull it together. Most impressive.

Let me not gloss over that the graduates and current participants of the program are volunteers in their community. Women working to overcome - - and giving back as a part of the recovery process. We were excitedly shown the storage area where the current program participants are gathering supplies that they will use to participate in a community art event. So very impressive.

Here were women who are accepting help and learning to live a new path - - and all they could think about was how much fun it will be to help children discover art and explore creativity. These women will make it! They will live clean and sober because they are now focused outward! They have learned, through this program, that giving to others is healing to self.

I drove out to this site visit thinking that I was doing good - - helping to decide which programs deserve support. Having input as to where dwindling dollars will have the greater outcome. Basically patting my self on the back for being a professional volunteer.

I drove away from this site visit with a new understanding of what it means to do good. What it truly means to give back. Words can not explain the emotion; words can not convey the paradigm shift. Those who have so little are giving back so much.

Let today be more than a good story - more than just a yarn from the southland of California. Let it be a renewed commitment to look outward and give more than I take.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Magnetic Knitting

The knitting is now magnetized. A little experiment that needs refining, but I do believe that I am on to something here.

Quite some time ago I purchased a package of magnetic beads. The beads are apparently used in jewelry making. The package sat unopened in my supply of beads that one day may be knit into something grand. Every yarn lover should have a supply of embellishments that does not count against the stash. This I firmly believe. It makes total sense to add to the collection of potential embellishments. Any time and money spend on these little extras does not - absolutely does not - count against the yarn stash. Two totally different issues.

At any rate, the amount of left over yarn from the Twinkle Toes socks was sufficient to spur my most fertile imaginings and led me to the magnetic experiment. What we have here is a simple little purse pouch just big enough for one small comb, lip balm and secret mad money that is available for emergency purchases. Emergencies such as chocolate, merlot or yarn.

You might recognize the slip stitch heel transformed into a a pouch, but focus on those beads up top. Magnetic! Yep, knit those suckers in every six stitches and then bound off on the next row. I had not planned it, but for some reason the beads 'stick' together in little clumps of four beads each. Kinda cute. So far the concept is working and practical. Just enough grab from the beads to hold the top closed, but not so much weight to mess up the structure.

Think I'll let it be for a week or so. I could go back and add beads every four stitches for a more secure closure but I am afraid the weight of the magnetic wonders would be too much.

I'm on to something here. . . . . .

Yarns From The Southland

Note the title change. This blog is now titled Yarns From The Southland. The address remains the same, so hopefully blogger and I are communicating.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Random Yarn Thoughts

Random thought #1. Free patterns are great. Pluie Soap Holder from Berroco is a quick knit. As in so quick you can cast on in the morning and give to your hostess in the evening.

Random Thought #2 Getting ready for a fundraiser based on yarn swapping takes time. Yet again, I was forced to visit the entire stash and let go of treasures. No tears - although I did hold back half of a favorite wool that was destined to be paired with my grey suit. Do you think that 1000 yards still in the stash is enough to make a tank top? Would not want to run out. Perhaps the larger question is why did I have 2000 yards (!!!) of the stuff? Clearly, there is undiagnosed pathology.

Random Thought #3 I love the new socks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yarn experiment

I had fun this weekend with scarf making. Just plain garter stitch, but manipulating yarns.

First - single ply of rayon in plain old garter: Nice and if you could see it in person you would think it is a lovely and feminine impact. The red, blue and purple are uniform in impact.

I plan to use this scarf under the lapels of my blue suit. It looks fantastic.

And then I looked through the stash to discover left over sock yarn. The sock weight is a Wildfoote that has two shades of blue.

Second - two strands held together. The custom dyed rayon and the sock yarn: total change. The lighter exposure of the photo lets you see how the sock yarn shows up. What is not apparent in the photo is that the whole effect is more masculine. I could not believe it when it came off the needles.

In the photo - lightened to show the sock yarn - the red really pops. But in person, the red is much more subdued and in the background. Strange? Yeah.

Just goes to show that experimentation is a good thing. You might have an idea of how yarns will mix. But the eye has its own view of color.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Knit Pinwheel Done!

Where did the week go? I was here. I was busy. I was happy. It just seems like the week slipped by with little updating. Lots of progress though.

The pinwheel security blanket is done! You learned about my 'wrong side worries' here. For the most part, all turned out well. Unique, but well. In a few spots, it was necessary to gently yank the underside of the picked up wraps in order to straighten out the mess.

I consider myself experienced with picking up the wrap and knitting it together with the stitch. However, that experience did not include picking up two wraps! A whole new experience for this gal. Look closely and you will see slight holes in the miters. This is unblocked work. When I shake the blankie things look better. When it is smoothed out for a close up holes appear like wrinkles in a morning mirror. We are not amused.

A whole project with nothing but short rows is not for the faint of heart. Beginner Knitters back off. Intermediates - - think twice and then sleep on it.

Mind you there is absolutely nothing bad about short rows. I like short rows. OK. I will confess that I like short rows when used sparingly for specific shaping needs.

Would I ever make this pattern again? No. Does a special wee one deserve a blanket made from this pattern? Yes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Knit. Type. Knit. Type.

My fingers are actually sore. Absolutely sore from knitting and typing. You will notice that there are no photos. Because I've been too busy to stop and snap a moment of posterity.

1. The Twinkle Toes socks are pushing 50% complete. Since I hate working ribbing, I should declare the first sock finished and just bind off. But nay! I shall keep at the boring work until the ribbing of the sock is appropriate in height. What is appropriate? Well, if there was a photo you would figure out that I am planning on three stripes of the green. Then it will be done and I can bind off. Well, not exactly. I no longer just plain bind off sock ribbing. EZ's sewn bind off works for me. Never fails - stretches - and easy to accomplish. You can find it (and other great manipulations) at the end of this Knitty article here.

2. Night time knitting is an afghan. Nothing fancy. Just worsted on size 10s. Bamboo 10s. Sure does help the fingers and hands recover from the socks on the Addi #1s. And let me tell you that my hands really need the rest this week.

3. Only one sleeve left to set in on the Cabled Cardigan and then it is crochet edging time. While the pattern has a nice edge specified, I'm thinking of not doing it. The crab stitch is a bit sturdier and I really think that this one needs a firmer edge. There is a bit of rolling on the front and the crab stitch should take care of that.

4. The rest of my time this week has been spent in my volunteer work which for some reason resulted in lots of time at the keyboard this week. Orientation for United Way of the Inland Valleys was this week - Community Review Teams begin site visits soon and I am on Team 4. Then there were lots of last minute preparations and reading before the NCL, Inc. Board meeting this weekend. And on top of that, RKG Board, business meeting and Show and Share are bright and early on Saturday morning. AND (can you hear the drum roll) sign ups begin for our May workshop with Lucy Neatby! Yeah! Yeah! and Whippie too!!

Whew. No wonder I am tired and my hands hurt. Knit. Type. Knit. Type

Monday, March 2, 2009

Will It Match?

Will the self-striping match from sock to sock? Good question that many have asked since these fun color sequences changed our options.

I don't ever seem to have a problem getting matches - or at least matches that are good enough for me. I certainly don't frown on a bit of variance, but expect there to be enough 'sameness' so that any observer will think the socks (sleeves, fronts, etc.) actually are part of a pair.

For these socks, I used my all in one printer/fax/copy/scan miracle machine to make a color copy of the exact point in color sequencing where I began the cast on. This is a never fail resource for me.

Don't have at home color copy availability? No worries. Just snap a digital photo of the point at which you begin the cast on. That is the same reference and will remind you of exactly where to start. I can usually tell right after casting on if the color sequencing is going to come out to match the first one.

Of course, casting on both socks at the same time would solve a lot of matchy matchy issues. Since I don't suffer from second sock syndrome, I stick with old school one at a time for foot wear - even though I always work both sleeves/fronts at the same time.

Isn't it weird how we each have these little oddities of how we work the string?