It’s been a busy week here.  But I did squeak in some knitting time.  Knitting is how I relax.  In these stressful times where more and more is demanded of us, I think it’s vital that we have something in our lives that brings us relaxation and joy.

For me, that’s knitting.  Over the last month I’ve been working on an intricate lacy shawl, and Tuesday evening I finished it.  This is a shot of it fresh off of the needles and not blocked.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  It’ll look better once it’s blocked.

Tonight, I gave it a good soak and rinse and then blocked it to stretch the lace out.  When it’s dry, I’ll get some more shots of the completed work.  The finished measurements are 23″ x 66″.  I think it’ll be a great springtime shawl to thow over my shoulders.

But as relaxing as this project was, it was not without a challenge or two.  I think this is part of my process.  Here’s what happened.

Halfway through the shawl, I grew tired of it.  The pattern wasn’t progressing quickly enough. The lace took too much concentration.  The yarn was too thin.  The moon wasn’t out.  You get the idea.  Nothing suited me.  And I was not relaxing.  I was working, not playing.

I think a lot of us experience this “it’s too much like work and not enough like play” as we do things – even things we love.

I stepped back from my knitting and realized that in a long project, I reach this point, whether it’s in knitting or in writing.  I reach that point where I just want to be done.  I don’t want to put the work into the project that it requires.  The feeling doesn’t last, thank goodness.  But it is there for a brief period of time.  And this is the point where I could give up or change projects.

In writing, no matter how pleased I am with the book I’m working on, I invariably reach a point where I want to be done with the book, too.  It’s too hard.  The characters aren’t cooperating.  The plotting has stalled.  It’s work.  It’s too hard.  Boohoo. Whine.  Moan.

Thankfully, I get past this in writing, as in knitting.  It’s part of the process for me.  But as with the knitting, it is a point where I could scrap the story and be distracted by a shiny new story.  But I don’t allow myself to do that.  I persevere.  And it always pays off.  Always.

To be honest, my pretty Squall was not hard at all.  The pattern was well-written, the design was a dream, the yarn was extraordinary.  And in fact, while knitting this project, I learned a lot about how a shawl of this shape is constructed, and I learned more about repetitive motifs and how they work in knitting.

Life is full of humps.  Do we give up or do we perservere?

The successful people perservere.

But a lot of people get derailed by bumps in the road.  If they would only stick with it, whatever it is,  for that short period of time where it feels problematic they would discover that the bump in the road is relatively short in duration.

So my advice to you, and to myself, is to stick with whatever you’re doing and ride it out.  Soon the bump will pass and you’ll find yourself back enjoying what you were doing.

Perserverance.  It works every time.


Favorite Yarn Shops

Several years ago when I went through breast cancer, I consoled myself with a few(cough, cough) online yarn purchases.  Okay, a lot of online yarn purchases.  But I considered it a necessary therapy to get me through a rough patch in my life.

Even though I was too sick to knit, the yarn packages helped me so much.  I’d feel the yummy yarn and look at all of the pretty colors and dream of what I would make with it when I was all well.

Unfortunately, chemo leaves you with a brain that is mush.  Forgetfulness is horrible.  So I don’t remember a lot about what yarns were going to become what patterns.  LOL.  But I do have the yarns, and I do still squish and feel them to brighten my spirits on days when the weather is yucky.  Like today.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 places where you can order some beautiful yarns.  In no particular order here they are.  I am not affiliated with any of these shops in any way other than as a customer.  I am a co-moderator for the Knitspot clubs, but that’s it.  More about that later.

Here they are:

  1. Fibre Space
  2. The Loopy Ewe
  3. The Verdant Gryphon
  4. Cephalopod Yarns
  5. DoodleBug Yarns
  6. WEBs Yarns
  7. The Woolen Rabbit
  8. Miss Babs Yarns
  9. Wooly Wonka Fiber
  10. Bare Naked Knitspot Club and Fall in Full Color Club

All of these places have given me great customer service and beautiful luxury yarns.  Life really is too short to knit with ugly yarn.  Pick a few places on my list and visit them.  You may find yourself with some new yarn to give a home to

And I cannot say enough good things about Anne Hanson’s Knitspot clubs.  She is winding down the first club – Fall in Full Color.  It will be back in August with new colors and new Knitspot patterns to delight us.  But for now, we’re gearing up for the Bare Naked Knitspot Club.  Anne is going to be sending us all natural (un-dyed) fibers starting in the middle of February.  Oh my!  Neutrals are out of my blue/green comfort zone, but Anne is such a talented designer, that I cannot wait to see what she comes up with for this club.  It’s like a birthday every month when the package arrives.  And we have FUN in the clubhouse.  We talk about books, diets, yarn stashes, what we’re working on and just life in general.  It’s a safe, warm place to hang out.  No stress. Just good friends and fun.

And if you need a bag or three to put your new yarn and upcoming projects, I’m recommending one of my all-time favorite bag designers.  Check out Michele’s site 3 Bags Full here.

Hope I’ve got you cruising the internet and hope you have a few things coming your way.  You deserve it  : )


A Little R and R – Feeding Your Creative Soul

Like most of us, I work hard all week-long. When it comes to the weekend, I’m ready for some quality R & R.  Kicking back and relaxing and having some fun.  And for me that means knitting or something related to yarn.

So, what do you call a three-day weekend spent away from home with 48 other knitters?  Much-needed rest and relaxation, that’s what.  This year my local knitters invited me to a yearly retreat at Kerr Lake, Va, called Knitting at the Lake (KATL for short).

Here’s the view of Kerr Lake from our balcony.  It was way too cold to sit outside since the temperatures were in the 20s, but as pretty as it was in winter, I can imagine spring, summer and fall would be stunning.  It was relaxing just looking out of the window.  Peaceful, serene.  And don’t all of us need some peace and serenity in our busy lives?

As writers, it is imperative that we find ways to feed our soul and refill our creative wells.  Knitting and knitters do that for me.  If you don’t have an addiction a hobby or interest that does that for you, I urge you to find one.  You’ll be so happy you did.

But back to the KATL retreat.

Kerr Lake is in Clarksville, VA about two hours from where I live. We had knitters from all over Virginia and North Carolina in attendance, plus a few from as far away as Ohio.  I love getting to meet and know new people.   Everyone at the KATL retreat was so friendly, supportive and welcoming.

Clarksville is a quaint town filled with lovely old homes and many unique shops.  Friday night we ate in an old Victorian home that had been converted to a restaurant.  I highly recommend The Lake House for dining if you’re ever in the area. Great food, reasonably priced with excellent and friendly service.

I had an awesome roommate.  She was adverse to having her picture taken though.  I can’t understand why.  She’s a beautiful lady.  Try as hard as I could, this was about par for the weekend with my photography.

She’s an excellent knitter and a delight to be around.  Her Ravelry nickname is Frequent Frogger because it seems she is always pulling her knitting out.  In her defense, I have to say that when you go to a retreat, you need simple projects because there is so much talking and laughter that you simply can’t concentrate on lacy or intricate patterns.  I may be frogging my work, too.  Seems one of my cables is twisted in the wrong direction.

While I was at the retreat one of my local knitting peeps, Nelda, taught a workshop to a select few of us on correcting mistakes.  Before I frog my piece, I’m going to try what I learned in her workshop.

Nelda is an accomplished knitter.  Here are a few of her finished objects.  The first is an amazing red sweater.  My camera washed out the color.  But it is stunning.

And this is a table runner that Nelda made and dyed all of the yarn in the project.  She brought along a color card and I was absolutely amazed at her work.  I want to be Nelda in my knitting life when I grow up.

The Knitting Sisters, a yarn shop from Williamsburg, VA brings just about the whole shop to the retreat and sets up for our shopping pleasure.  You cannot imagine how hard these ladies work!  They let you run a tab all weekend long.  At first I thought this was a good thing.  By Sunday morning, I wasn’t so sure.  But I did get some beautiful yarn, a shawl pin and some knitting related earrings.  Not that I needed anything.

Then Saturday night we had a chance to destash yarns, books, bags and other knitting related items with our fellow KATL attendees.  I was no shrinking violet in this either.  I may have gotten a bit of a head start by shopping in my roommates stash sale in the room.  But I came home with lots of new yarns and 2 two totes that needed a loving home.   : )

Here’s one shawl that I will not be making.  It is probably the most gorgeous shawl I’ve ever seen in person.  The workmanship was excellent.  The color perfect.

You can’t see the beading in the picture, but all of those swirls have beads to highlight them.  This was done by our northern VA knitter Nancy.  And it is truly a work of art.  I wish you could have heard the oohs and ahhs as this was held up.

The weekend was over way too soon and we packed and headed back to our homes.  But not before we made our reservations for next year.  What a great way to start the year off.  What a wonderful way to feed my creative soul.

So what do you do for relaxation?  And how do you feed your creative soul?