Advice from Maya Angelou ~ no expectations

In an interview from years ago, Maya Angelou says she has no expectations from life so she is never disappointed. One might think, “How can I have no expectations?” But, Ms. Angelou’s outlook on life makes perfect sense: having expectations sets us up for disappointment. We often expect too much from ourselves. She is saying take the journey and delight in the wonders discovered along the way. It is a given that we will fail from time to time; otherwise we are playing it safe. So where is the knitting in all of this….

Knitting is a journey. Celtic Icon is in the planning stages and soon to be on my needles – this beautiful hooded zippered cardigan designed by Fiona Ellis shown in the photo below from Ellis’s book, Inspired Cable Knits – a book filled with patterns for gorgeous cardigans and pullovers.

Celtic Icon

Photography © by Lindsey Maier published in Inspired Cable Knits © 2006 by Fiona Ellis. Photograph is of page 127. Used with permission of the author.

I’ve chosen Cody, a sport-weight 100% merino yarn, from Mountain Meadow Wool in the colorway Pansy for this project. Cody Mt MeadowIt knits up like a dream. The yarn is dyed in batches of 12 skeins. Each label notes the ranch that is the source of the wool. My yarn is from The Cole Creek Ranch in Douglas, Wyoming. Pretty cool. I have knit the first swatch (stockinette) and am thrilled with it. Not so sure about the second swatch with the cable pattern, but I’m only on row 10.

stockinette swatch

Cody may have too much character to show the detailed knot work to its best. Keeping fingers crossed. I’m not overly concerned. If it turns out I don’t like Cody for this project, I have yarn in my stash that will work and, sadly, will look for a different pattern for Cody.

So with my knitting, rather than expect the perfect knit, I will make my best effort and hope for a lovely wearable cardigan. I will embark on this adventure and have no expectations. This doesn’t mean there won’t be frustration along the way. I won’t know until I take the challenge of this particular knit.

This morning I took Lemon, a design from Helga Isager, off the blocking board – actually the guest-room rug covered with a sheet. All that remains to do is mattress stitch a couple of inches under each arm and weave in the ends. As can be seen here, I will easily finish it today. Amazingly, I still have no expectations that I will love wearing it. However, the more I think about it the more anxious I become. Keeping fingers crossed that it will be a knit I will enjoy wearing. Okay, now I’m beginning to expect Lemon to fit perfectly when I try it on later today. Arrrgh!

A note on Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of my favorite autobiographies. She is one of our national treasures – an amazing, gifted, beautiful woman.

Confession time ~ from skepticism to passion

I have a confession to make: I was a skeptic and clueless about the many facets of knitting. All I knew about knitting was drawn from my efforts as a young mother and my mother’s knitting: knitted Christmas ornaments and crocheted afghans all crafted from acrylic yarn. Then…….

In 2004 when my friend, Carol, invited me on a trip to Maine, of course I said yes. Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in September on the coast of Maine hiking, birding, and kayaking when most of the tourists were gone. The weather was perfect for a group of 5 women to enjoy the great outdoors.

I believe it was on the afternoon of the our second day, when Carol, Margaretta and Beth were in the living room enjoying the view and knitting. With a frown on my face, I said something like, “You’re knitting; I can’t believe you’re knitting. We should be outdoors. We’re in Maine!” Someone responded, “We’re taking a break and relaxing. This is fun!” I shook my head in disbelief.

Of course, we had to make a trip to a local yarn shop or two. I was clueless about that, too. While in one of the shops, I remembered knitting a few things back in the day. I decided to pick up a pattern, needles and yarn to make a sweater for my three-year-old grandson. We didn’t have a lot to do in the evening; I guessed I could give knitting a go. While Margaretta taught Carol how to knit socks (Carol later took up the nickname The Socklady), Beth taught Wendy and me how to knit; and, she taught us to knit continental style! For some reason I thought that was so much better than “throwing” or the right-hand carry method I learned as a teenager. The “Stoplight Sweater” was one result of that trip. Wendy and I were hooked.

About this time last year, Carol told me she thought I might start designing knitwear. Again, I was skeptical. What a wise woman. Only one design written up, but that’s a start. Thank you, Carol, for the wonderful trip that changed my life in such a positive way. I miss you, dear friend.

The Socklady

                           Carol Quick Porter
                  July 15, 1946 – May 4, 2012

A cable needle in my coffee ~ the how of getting there

This morning I came across yesterday’s coffee cup. A curved metal hook shone just above the surface of the day-old coffee. How the heck did one of my cable needles end up in such an odd place? People often find themselves in unexpected places. Barbara Walker thought she would be in Washington, D.C. for awhile. Lucky for us knitters, she left for New Jersey and needed an interest that would fit easily into raising a family.

Barbara Walker

Barbara G. Walker – October 6, 2012

“How I Became a Knitter” was the title of Barbara Walker’s keynote address delivered at Interweave Knits Knitting Lab on the evening of October 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. What a story. Ms. Walker became a knitter after leaving her job as a cub reporter at the Washington Star to follow her husband to his new job at a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. What was a woman with interests outside the home to do while raising a family during the 1950s and 60s? I doubt daycare other than in a private home was an option.

Even 20 years later in 1974, daycare didn’t exist for toddlers in Fort Collins, Colorado. My 18-month-old son, Chris, attended a daycare center just outside the city limits. The center was organized by a group of women with degrees in early childhood education and located in a church annex. I would drop Chris off for a morning of painting, drawing, water play, and other engaging activities while I biked on to my morning class at Colorado State University. I would pick him up at lunch time. After less than ten minutes in the bike seat, he would be fast asleep – his head lolling gently against my lower back. Chris loved those mornings at the center. Unfortunately the church decided it wanted the facility for other uses during the week; the daycare center’s lease was not renewed. A suitable facility could not be found because of the stringent building codes for a daycare center in Fort Collins. Much of the code made sense; much of it made no sense at all. To meet code, a facility would have to either be built from the ground up or an existing building totally gutted and rebuilt. A plea was made to the town council for help. We were told we should be home raising our kids. Yes, that is exactly what one of the councilmen said, “Mothers should be at home raising their children.” I still get angry when I think of that meeting with the town council. Why would dropping my son off to play, paint, draw, listen to stories and music for a morning hurt him? Why would my taking classes at Colorado State University cause him harm? CSU had the perfect facility, tiny toilets and sinks that met code, but it told us no: no daycare on campus; the university had plans for the facility. After almost 40 years I can’t remember what CSU had planned: I do remember that it wasn’t daycare for either it’s students or working mothers. So I could complete my classes, I sent Chris to a private home. Moving from a group he loved to a private home went well until the woman caring for him had to leave town to care for her ailing mother. The second home was a disaster: the caregiver’s 4-year-old daughter liked to hit; an act my son never understood. Somehow we made it to the end of the quarter. I doubt Barbara Walker would have accepted what the councilman said which was pretty much to stay at home 24/7 unless going out was with the husband or for a cause related to the children.

Barbara Walker is an extraordinary woman with an appreciation for a craft most people think of as ordinary and fairly routine. Try mentioning some of the math involved in patterns; the typical response from a non-knitter is, “Really?” in a tone I can’t possibly help but hear as a bit skeptical. I feel honored to have been in the audience to hear Ms. Walker’s talk. So many have benefited from her research into the history of the craft, her innovations (the top-down sweater!) and her many books. I am so glad she left that fabulous job as a cub reporter to become a mother in New Jersey. What gifts she has given to so many with her work in such fields as anthropology, feminism, humanism, mineralogy, art, and, yes, knitting.

To learn more about Barbara Walker, listen to this Freethought Radio interview on YouTube. Now to locate a copy of her autobiography.

For a smile ~ when one thing leads to another, to another, to…….

A tweet from Hoxton of the Electric Sheep Podcast lead me to peruse the new Twist Collective Fall – fabulous patterns and articles; an issue not to be missed. Twist Collective lead me to Knitting in Wine Country: a blog I had not seen until today. It’s wonderful! (Yes, another blog to follow.) A brief scroll down the blog page lead to a must-watch video.

So here is a smile for today.