Fear is never an easy thing to overcome. Whether great or small, fear can prevent us from fully benefiting from the joys of life.
One of the great fears in knitting is cutting open a finished sweater so that it can become a cardigan. This fear is made even greater when the sweater is knit from handpsun wool, loving carded and spun for the purpose.
Overcoming the fear allows the knitter to have the ease and benefits of knitting in the round, while also having the benefits and comfort of a cardigan sweater.
I enjoy making the top-down raglan sweater for ease of construction, accuracy of fitting, and management of yarn use. When making this latest sweater for my son, I was able to spin the yarn as I was also knitting on the sweater. This ensured that I had little unused yarn when the project was complete. Since the yarn I used was a blend of Mohair, Alpaca, and CVM sheep’s wool, I was glad to avoid making any more yarn than was necessary.
I have steeked sweaters before but the nervousness of cutting open a sweater remains.
While it is never easy overcoming any fear, great or small, it is always worth the effort, and it does become a bit easier as our confidence in ourselves grows.
Working around my grandmother’s quilting frame offered the opportunity for reflection. The frame was designed for comfort sitting in an office chair, and was made many decades ago. I inherited it when Grandma passed away. My father had made it during the 70s when Grandma took up the challenge of making quilts out of polyester double-knit. My husband is now making new legs for it so that I can more comfortably baste quilts while standing. Unlike Grandma, my quilting is done in my lap.
Grandma had a large basement where the quilt frame could easily be set up. She worked at the frame regularly during the 70s and 80s but then health issues ended her time as a quilter. The last quilting stitches she made went into a baby quilt she and I worked on in the 90s. I remember watching her as she struggled to get her hands to work – stitches, uneven, and not very tiny – those few inches of quilting are the ones I cherish most of all.
I have many of her quilts, even those made from the double-knit, and each remind me of some aspect of Grandma’s life. She was a practical woman and it showed in her quilting.
Grandma would have loved all the Autumn color I have been introducing into my home these past few years. She loved the colors of this season. It was her palette of choice.
As I edited this week’s video, I thought a great deal about Grandma. I move like her, even though I look more like my mom these days. Parkinson’s Disease dominated Grandma’s last years. It robbed her of the activities she loved. Those last quilting stitches she made came from a deep determination to push against the crippling effects of the condition. I recall the concentration etched on her face – a look I recognize since I seem to have inherited her frown.
I wonder how many people believed Grandma to be a stern woman when in reality she was anything but that. She simply had a resting face that included a turned down mouth rather than one that turned upward.
Frustration, pain, and worry were often etched in Grandma’s face. I see her in my own face as I work on editing my little videos. I have come to understand frustration, pain, and worry.
Growing old does not bother me, but I do worry about the judgements and criticisms of the world. Making videos is helping me overcome these concerns.
Grandma was a strong woman who faced the hardships of being a farmer’s wife with grace. She complained about the trivial things – the things that did not matter – but she often kept her own counsel when it came to the big worries. I suspect that she complained about the little things as a way to let off pressure. She shared this trait with her mother; a trait that I have inherited it seems.
Grandma was a courageous woman. She pushed against the confines of society but in ways that never interrupted the work she did at home. I often wonder if people who did not know her questioned whether she was happy.
Grandma knew joy. With a determination and fortitude that I greatly admire, she thrived from the joys she gained through service as a mother, wife, sister, and friend. She loved and was loved in return.
Reflections have helped me realize that I have become much like my grandmother. I therefore should not worry too much about how the world sees me, but instead consider how she would see me. I think she would be pleased. She would certainly understand that we must learn to accept the challenges we are given, even if it does make our down-turned smiles look more like frowns.
This week I travel down memory lane and reflect back on how much I have learned since making my first holiday placemats.
My sewing and quilting skills have certainly improved, although my hands won’t hold quite as tiny of needles as they did a quarter of a century ago.
Life has taught me many lessons during these 25 years. There was a time when I thought I would lose my ability to hand quilt. Perseverance, medical advancement, and a better understanding of how vital balance-in-life is to one’s health have all played a role in my continued ability to use a quilting needle.
Quilting delightful and useful items for my family fills me with joy. I learned the skills of a quilter before I could afford the gadgets and gizmos of the modern quilter. Even after accumulating stacks of rulers, and cutting mats of various sizes, I still occasionally like to return to the simplicity of the old ways of piecing a block.
It is with simplicity and the budget-minded quilter that I have put together some basic blocks. I have also included instructions to turn the basic block used in my placemats into a rectangular placemat for those who wish for that shape.
Even with the crazy world causing life to seem like it is dragging by, I still find myself wondering where all the time has gone. October is now just days away and my crafting to-do list is characteristically not completed.
To-do lists, shopping lists, event lists (although I suspect most holiday events will be only online this year), and gift-giving lists – with so many lists, I needed a way to keep things organized and tidy. So this led me to making notebook covers. Now at least my various lists look pretty as they clutter up my workspace.
I have created a video highlighting the notebook covers I have made this week, and I am providing a template for one of them There are links and information in the description box of the video containing more information on the designs I used.
Now I am back to my list making and my crafting. Top of my list – get more organized with my video/tech/recording. Boy, oh boy, did I ever have tech issues this week.
Each week presents new challenges, and with the challenges, new things to learn.
This week, after becoming fatigued during the many attempts to sound coherent on camera, I realized that the chair I purchased so that I could more comfortably work at my sewing-room worktable, would work really well at my quilt display wall. Sitting rather than standing reduced the fatigue and reduced my anxiety.
It is amazing how much more productive one can be when fatigue and anxiety are scaled back.
The second challenge I faced in getting this video posted was one of an emotional nature. I have become hyper-aware of how fatigue affects my speech and speech pattern. I sometimes struggle with words. Even when the thoughts are there, the words can remain just out of reach. This is one of the reasons I have always preferred writing over speaking – much easier to edit or to find the right word when there the pressure of an audience is absent.
When I went back to school back in 2012, I had to overcome a good deal of foggy brain. I was quite relieved to see that I could regain what I had worried might have been lost. I regained, and I improved my ability to communicate through writing. Now I am attempting to do something similar through the use of vlogging. Of course my confidence with writing was always greater than with speaking, so this challenge already causes a bit more anxiety for me.
Yet with this challenge there is even a greater reward than the degree I earned when I returned to the classroom. This challenge is helping me better accept the person I am – and that is something which has often proven to be an elusive prize.
Self-awareness is very good. Self-acceptance is even better.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as wrapping oneself up in a blanket, but most of us can’t drag a blanket around with us like Charlie Brown’s friend Linus does. However a big, squishy shawl is permissible in most situations.
A few years ago, I decided I needed one of these big, squishy shawls. I knew there were two simple types of triangular shawls that would work well for my needs, but I really wanted the top-down version as I suspected it would highlight my handspun yarn.
Basic knitting patterns are often the hardest to find since they are based on simple skills and calculations that many knitters can work out for themselves without the aid of a pattern. This meant my adventure in knitting a triangular shawl started with a bit of trial and error. Eventually I figured out a pattern that suited my needs. Then it was just a matter of spinning the yarn for the project.
The fiber I chose for the shawl was from a number of fleeces I had just purchased earlier that year. I was interested in seeing how each behaved when spun. The sheep were all of the same breed, and all from the same breeder, but that didn’t mean that they would all behave the same way. I began by choosing 3 ounces from each fleece, and then I started spinning. Once I began knitting, I simply knit until a skein ran out, and then I started knitting the next skein. In all, I used approximately 2 pounds of wool for this big, squishy shawl.
In the years since I finished that first shawl, I have made a couple more for my children. I wouldn’t say I am a slow knitter, but I am certainly a distracted one. With so many fiber and fabric items begging to be created, I often only knit on a shawl when I am in-between other projects. So a big, squishy shawl doesn’t really fit into a video blog format – at least not for me.
That is how the Triangular Shawl for Dolls idea came into being. The pattern for a big shawl and for a doll shawl is pretty much the same when it is this simple, triangular, top-down shawl. The only difference is the number of rows you knit.
I hope this video and this free pattern will inspire you to knit up a shawl for someone in your life. It truly is a hug in knitted form.
For many years, I have wanted to set aside time, and more importantly energy, for making doll clothing. Since 2020 seems to be a year of change, I thought I would add positive change to the sea of crazy changes this year has brought.
Inspired by a group of costumers on YouTube and Instagram (#historicalhalloween2020) but not wanting to make a costume for myself, I decided to use this inspiration to make a doll costume.
All of this was well and good, but then I decided to take the big plunge and actually talk on video.
Anyone who understands how anxiety complicates regular daily life will understand what a huge challenge I undertook. A keyboard is my friend, but a camera causes all kinds of stress.
Years ago, actually two decades ago this year, I began to understand why I shied away from the idea of being photographed. I had not had issues with the process while in my youth, but things began to change for me as I neared my 30th birthday. Aging was not what concerned me – pain, or more to the point, the photographic record of my pain, concerned me. Despite reassurances from my family, by the time I reached my 40th birthday, I really struggled with sharing any photographs taken of me.
Now as I move past the mid-century mark of my life, I want to do more than just hide the pain. I want to push back against what pain can steal away. I have been doing much better managing life and pain these last 10 years. Management is the important concept since I can manage my health, but I cannot regain the health of my youth (a youth where I was unaware that my pain was not a common thing).
So with my goal of regaining what can be regained, I took the plunge and made a video with me speaking to the camera.
Anxiety was a thick cloud as I filmed myself and then worked with the footage. Even as I regained steady ground, the underlying energy that anxiety causes me would not dissipate. Fortunately the learning curve of video editing with voice-over commentary was steep and I had many, many, hours of work to keep my mind busy. When I was able to finally take to my bed, I was able to sleep.
With fresh eyes, and a bit of rest, I have now uploaded my first “talkie”*
As I was reviewing this before posting it, I was rendered speechless when I comprehended that September is now upon us. In just a few days time, I will pass the 20 year mark on the spine injury that derailed me from the life I thought I would have, and set me on the course to the life I would come to appreciate as being the better one. I did not set out to mark this milestone with a video about making doll clothing, but as I reflect on the last 20 years, it seems rather fitting.
Life gives us challenges, it is up to use to make them into milestones rather than barriers.
*In the days when silent films reigned supreme, the first talking films were known as talkies.
I decided to shift gears a bit this week and try something new. After posting my video updating the progress made on my Christmas Countdown Collection spin, I decided to finally try making my own stitch/row markers for my knitting/crochet projects.
A rainy day project, followed by a backyard stroll was just what I needed to refresh my emotional state of being.
When plans get derailed, it is good to find a replacement, and video blogging has really helped 2020 seem less glum. Every week I learn new things with the video editing. It has been a wonderful way to beat back feelings of stagnation.
If you haven’t kept up with my current spinning project, this is the latest video.
I have inherited heirlooms from my grandmothers, but I don’t think they ever set out to make an heirloom. They were practical women who made beautiful textile creations. Almost all of items I have inherited have been used, some are even threadbare. The threadbare ones are cherished as much as the ones that are still waiting to fulfill a useful purpose.
This is why I make things to be loved rather than placed on display. Practical, everyday items can be beautiful. Beautiful, well-made items, when cared for, can be loved and be treasured and still remain beautiful. I would rather have the items I make get loved and get worn out than to have them last for generations in pristine condition.