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Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

Several years ago, when my sister had her first baby, I knitted a surprise for his first Christmas: three ornaments in the shape of Weasley sweaters, each with a monogrammed initial, of course. Even my brother-in-law, who isn’t a Harry Potter fan, was delighted, and they’ve hung on the tree every year since.

Harrison, my second nephew, was born two and a half years later, and every December since then I’ve gotten a text from my sister, reminding me: we need another Weasley sweater. (She’s not a knitter, but she is excellent at reminding people about stuff.)

I finally got my act together this year and made Harrison his own Weasley sweater, to match the other three. I’d forgotten how easy and fun they are to knit. And how cute the final result is.

I’m thinking I need to knit myself one to hang on my own tree – maybe next year. (Also in Gryffindor colors, of course.)

In case you’re wondering, the pattern is from Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, though I used another knitter’s mods to make them top-down instead of knitting them in pieces and seaming them. Much easier, and so cute.

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final form: Queensland Beach

Many of my knitting friends will tell you: sometimes a skein of yarn takes a while to figure out what it’s going to be.

Some years ago now, Sonia came to Boston for a conference, and we met up in the South End and walked around, eating pastries from Flour and talking about our lives. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and we became friends via Ravelry, but had never met in person before. She brought me a gorgeous crimson skein of Cassiopeia yarn from Pigeonroof Studios, and I immediately started browsing potential patterns.

The yarn has a bit of cashmere and silk in it – so it stretched waaaay out with the first pattern I used, Regina. I frogged that attempt and made a gorgeous Cocoon Cowl next, but I rarely wore it. (I like my cowls big and cozy in the wintertime, and this one was more on the small and dainty side.)

A few years later, I used some of the skein to make a Gin & Tonic hat for my friend Laura, but I’d had the rest of it kicking around all this time. But it has now found its final form: a cozy, cabled Queensland Beach headband.

I tried it out on our first proper snow day, yesterday, and I’m so thrilled with it. And it reminded me: sometimes you have to try a few paths/possibilities before you find the right one.

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Erie hat pom pom knit table

I used to be quite a prolific knitter.

Especially the first few years I lived in Boston, I was always making something – fingerless gloves for my girlfriends, sweaters for my then-baby nephews and niece, so many hats and cozy cowls for myself. These were also the years of Downton Abbey and Castle, Lark Rise to Candleford and Sherlock and Grantchester. I’ve never been a big TV watcher, but an hour here and there added up to lots of knitting over the years.

And then a couple of years ago, I just…stopped.

We’d moved again, and several of my favorite shows had gone off the air, and I couldn’t really justify knitting myself yet another hat or scarf. I spend more of my evenings running than sitting at home these days, and so the knitting fell by the wayside. But around Thanksgiving, as the hubs and I were watching Modern Family or doing the NYT crossword (possibly both), I realized I had itchy fingers. So I picked up a skein of Madelinetosh sock yarn I’d had sitting around for ages, and I started knitting – just a round or two here and there.

Two months later, I have an Erie hat – cozy and soft. And I decided it was high time I owned something with a pom-pom. (Red, of course.)

It’s been a comfort to have something back on the needles, and to watch the progress, stitch by stitch, round by round. The merino wool feels good in my hands. And when the weather in New England does its schizophrenic thing, I have another way to keep out those biting winds.

I’m not sure I’ll dive back into knitting the way I once did. But I am eyeing the Queensland Beach headband pattern, with some yummy red yarn I have in my stash…

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darwins portrait red lipstick

For the last few years, I’ve recapped my year in list form for the blog. There’s something about watching it all unroll in bullets – not quite “by the numbers,” but definitely in bite-sized snippets – that I find really fun.

This year, I have:

central park yellow flowers nyc

  • gone on a string of lovely Fri-dates with my husband.
  • bid a fond (and sad) farewell to the car I’ve been driving since I left for college.
  • learned how to kayak and spent many summer evenings paddling on the Charles River.
  • spent a long weekend in Nashville with my sweet college roommate and our husbands.
  • knitted a baby dress, 2 1/2 cowls (including the purple one above), a set of baby mittens and 35 wee smoothie hats.
  • acquired (earned?) my first few grey hairs.
  • continued to write and edit as a freelancer for my alma mater.
  • flown to Texas three times to visit my family, including my sweet nephews.

betsy harrison

  • spent a lot of time trying to be gentle with myself. And others.
  • bought so many bouquets of flowers for my kitchen table: tulips, peonies, sunflowers, dahlias. (And made friends with my florist.)
  • sipped an uncountable number of chai lattes, mostly from Darwin’s. (See above.)
  • participated in (and won!) NaNoWriMo for the third time.
  • spent a lot of Thursday lunch breaks at the Harvard Art Museums.
  • seen three musicals onstage: On the Town (in NYC), Cinderella and My Fair Lady.
  • taken a few weekend getaways with the hubs: Newport, the Berkshires, mid-coast Maine.

katie jer cliff walk

  • fallen completely in love with baby Evie, who belongs to two of my dearest friends.
  • said yes to red lipstick once in a while. (See above.)
  • spent a lot of time taking care of the daily details at church.
  • hosted Shanna for a completely wonderful long weekend.
  • cracked up at hours of Modern Family with the hubs.
  • filled up seven and a half(ish) journals.
  • visited so many wonderful bookstores: Parnassus Books in Nashville, Book Culture and the Strand in NYC, The Bookstore in Lenox, MA, and my neighborhood bookstores in Boston/Cambridge/Brookline.
  • fallen in love with the brave women of Home Fires.
  • tried to enjoy the silver linings of the job hunt.
  • worked hard to build a near-daily yoga habit.

bare feet green yoga mat

  • discovered All the Books and a few other favorite podcasts.
  • attended my first few wine tastings.
  • not conquered the snooze button. (One of these days…)
  • baked innumerable batches of scones.
  • taken so many photos (as I do every year) of fall leaves. (And books, and cups of tea, and the sky.)
  • tried to lean into this messy, exciting, beautiful life of mine, and pay attention to it.

What has your year looked like?

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katie shaw hill cowl purple

“I haven’t felt like knitting for months,” a friend lamented last week. She has an excuse – after all, she had a baby this spring – but I agreed with her. After an absurdly long, cold winter, I couldn’t wait to exchange my heavy knitted cowls and hats for lighter scarves. I put down the needles in May and never looked back.

Recently, though, I’ve pulled out a few handknits as the chill in the air has grown more pronounced. I’m not ready for heavy-duty winter wear yet, but I’m enjoying the chance to wear fingerless mitts, or snuggle into a scarf or cowl with my favorite green coat. (I knitted the purple wrap above this winter, but had forgotten how soft and cozy it is.)

Also, as ever, the good folks at Innocent Drinks are sponsoring the Big Knit, encouraging people to knit wee hats for their smoothie bottles to raise money for Age UK. I’m easing back into knitting with these tiny hats – a few at a time while J and I watch football or catch up on Modern Family of an evening. (Bonus: they are so quick and satisfying!)

All this talk of knitting also has me browsing Ravelry for new patterns, and dreaming of bigger projects to knit for others or myself. My favorite yarn shop in Boston closed a couple of years ago, sadly, but I’m thinking I may have to order some yarn online soon.

Are you a seasonal crafter, like me? Any patterns you’re dying to knit (or crochet) this fall?

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tulips-public-garden

Back in early April (which feels like ages ago now), I posted a spring list. I’ve been working on it since then – so here, an update for you.

  • Bake my favorite strawberry-rhubarb crisp. I made it for a Sunday night potluck, and we all but licked the baking dish clean.

strawberry rhubarb crisp

  • Read some poetry. (Spring makes me long for Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.)
  • Watch the Masters. It was a great tournament, as always. 21-year-old Jordan Spieth blew everyone away.
  • Reread Jane of Lantern Hill, the perfect spring book. Love love love.
  • Knit something pink for my friend Abigail’s baby girl, who will arrive in May. I made her a sweet little dress.

pink sproutlette dress

  • Savor the new season of Call the Midwife. I’ve enjoyed it, though this season is heavy.
  • Go on a getaway with the hubs. We had a fabulous trip to San Diego, about which more soon.

katie jer beach san diego

  • Keep buying flowers from my local florist – tulips and daffodils, delivered with a smile. I’m in there twice a week.

tulips

  • Participate in Susannah Conway’s April Love photo challenge. I posted about a dozen photos. So fun.

Looks like the only thing I need to do is read some poetry. But that’s never a problem.

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bunny glasses window display

We are waiting (watching, hoping, longing) for spring over here, and though the crocuses are (finally!) blooming, the bitter winds and chilly temps remain. Spring in New England is such a tease.

I love a good seasonal list, and there are a few things I’m seriously looking forward to this spring. Here’s what I’m dreaming and planning as we inch toward warmer weather:

  • Bake my favorite strawberry-rhubarb crisp. I made it without rhubarb this weekend, but it’s so much better with both fruits.
  • Read some poetry. (Spring makes me long for Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.)
  • Watch the Masters this weekend. (It’s a sure sign of spring for my golf-loving family.)
  • Reread Jane of Lantern Hill, the perfect spring book (in progress).
  • Knit something pink for my friend Abigail’s baby girl, who will arrive in May. (In progress.)
  • Savor the new season of Call the Midwife. (Already begun.)
  • Go on a getaway with the hubs.
  • Keep buying flowers from my local florist – tulips and daffodils, delivered with a smile.
  • Participate in Susannah Conway’s April Love photo challenge (also in progress).

tulips

What’s on your list for this spring?

 

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