Treasures… old and new (part 1)

Lets start with the old….

We sold our house last year to move into the 3 family house that was left to us and I grew up in, that my grandfather built 100 years ago. We moved to be closer to my dad who was 90 years old at the time.  Our old house sold much faster than we ever expected and we are still working on our new home.  That being said, there are boxes that I am unable to unpack due to work we are doing here, and there were still family treasures to be sorted through in the basement.  While going through some of these memories from my childhood, I sadly found 3 gorgeous wool afghans made by my grandmother that were beyond repair due to neglectful storage by my late Uncle…. while this devastated me, I had to keep reminding myself that he was unaware…  This worked until I unearthed a cedar chest that he had stored acrylic bedspreads, curtains and blankets that should have been discarded 40 years ago!  AAAACK!  There was a small light at the bottom of that chest where I found two shawls and an afghan that were in very good condition.  Although these are not nearly as intricate as the ones that were lost, they were lovingly made by the woman who taught me so much and gave me so many wonderful memories… my grandma <3IMG_3210a
Another box contained the china teacups, saucers and plates that were displayed on a special shelf in her dining room. When we were children, she would pull these out and let all of us have a “tea party” in the dining room accompanied by her amazing Italian Cookies. Wonderful and treasured memories but what to do with all of these beautiful teacups? I have no place to display them and having them sit in a box or dropping them off at a Goodwill just didn’t seem right to me.FullSizeRender - Copy (9)
A conversation with one of my oldest and dearest friends gave me my answer! Her youngest daughter is getting married in April. Her shower is a “tea” and brunch. Her daughter loves all thing vintage and her favorite thing when our children were growing up together was having tea parties!!! My friend had been searching everywhere for tea sets that could be used and taken home by the guests at the shower. What better way to give new life, new memories and new homes to something that meant so much to me growing up?   Here are pictures of a few…

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My dad passed away suddenly, 5 months after we moved here – dealing with that devastating loss has been incredibly hard, but my Mom had her own collection of tea cups.  She loved violets, carried them at her wedding and ironically the woman who could kill a cactus, grew the most beautiful violets!  Their home was full of violet adorned china, and those tea cups, saucers, plates and pots are also being given new lives and homes at this shower.  Here are a few of Mom’s…

          FullSizeRender (30) - Copy FullSizeRender (32) - Copy   FullSizeRender (31) - Copy I KNOW she would be so happy!

My beloved parents… together again in heaven, smiling down on us all and missed so very, very much!  Until we meet again Mom and Dad… I love you <3

10857737_10152574472982104_5372292059141294165_n The shower is tomorrow… I can’t wait!

 

In which I happily eat my own words…

I have been talking recently about “Knitting Styles” and my search for a style that will ease the pain in my hands caused by arthritis.  I had settled on continental as the way to go and said this about giving up on learning the Portuguese Style of Knitting….”I also have looked into “Portugese” knitting with Andrea Wong, but I honestly don’t know if I want to re-learn how to do every single stitch at this point in my life.”  

I am eating those words – happily with a cherry on top – since I enrolled in a Craftsy Class with Patty Lyons.

 

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I can’t even begin to find the words to describe how MUCH I enjoyed this class!  Her sense of humor, conversation, clear and concise instructions and the incredible amount of material covered in a fun and interesting manner makes the time fly by.  Taking this class felt like sitting down with an old friend and just having a good time doing what we love to do best!

My word eating came in around Lesson 5… Portuguese Style Knitting.  I have tried to wrap my thick Italian head around this for years, with no luck at all.  I watched Patty’s lesson once, turned off the computer and although these may look like nothing more than dishcloths… let me tell you that I am so excited that I could frame them and hang them in my living room.  These were both knit Portuguese Style, in two hours!  That may also not seem terribly impressive, except for the fact that my hands hurt so much English and Continental Style that knitting for two hours straight has not been possible at ALL for a very long time!  IMG_20150221_094333The cloth on the left (with stitch marker) was done all purl – which I might add, is so fast and easy and even in Portuguese, it is criminal! lol  The cloth on the right was done all knit – which is what hung me up for all of these years.  Patty deconstructed it so neatly that I truly had a slap my forehead moment, and off I went.  Don’t EVEN get me started on the bindoff …. easy, beautiful, fast and not tight at all – LOVE IT!

I have been knitting for 50 years, and while I know what to do, how to do it, what it should look like….  what I didn’t realize is that I didn’t know the “why” of it… the “reasons” we do what we do, the “reasons” the stitches are seated in a certain way.  This may not seem relevant to some of you – I know it didn’t seem relevant to me at all, as a matter of fact, I never even gave it a thought until I took this class!  I had so many “ah ha!” moments listening to her that I had to laugh at myself :)

The other things I love, love, love about this class is that she goes over increases and decreases in every style, knitwise and purlwise, as they are worked differently in the different styles of knitting.  She doesn’t just “show” you how to do it, she explains, “why” you do it that way in relation to the way the stitches are seated.  All in all, this is a video class that is worth its weight in gold and Patty Lyons has given me the greatest gift of all…. the gift of being able to knit without pain.  My wishes in this quest for a new knitting style have come true… the speed and even stitches in which a beginner Portuguese Style Knitter can knit is amazing…. AND more importantly, for me,  it is pain free!

I don’t want to give the impression that her class is only about Portuguese Style Knitting because that is only one chapter.  It is a treasure trove of information…

  1. Lesson 1  – Alternative Methods and Styles Overview
  2. Lesson 2  – English
  3. Lesson 3 –  Continental
  4. Lesson 4 –  Eastern and Combination
  5. Lesson 5 – Portuguese
  6. Lesson 6 – Knitting & Purling Backwards
  7. Lesson 7 – Combining Styles and Methods
  8. Lesson 8 – Bonus – Alternative Cast-ons

For me, this has truly been a blessing, a gift, and a ton of fun!  I will continue to practice continental and lever knitting, and I’m sure my throwing will be used as well.   I believe you can’t have too many tools when it comes to doing what you love doing, however, I know now that I can sit and knit for as long as I want without having to stop because of pain in my hands. :)

Enjoy the weekend, I am going to go and KNIT!

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When reality strikes…

It is school vacation week in this frozen, snowy wasteland I call home.  School Vacation week for me is usually a lovely week off where I have delusions of getting my home put back in order, cooking wonderful, healthy meals for my family, baking delicious desserts and when all of this domestic engineering is completed, I get to sit in my favorite chair with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea and knit with my faithful and loving dog at my feet….

The reality is… I came down with the flu over the first weekend of vacation, and when the spine snapping chills subsided and my head stopped feeling as though it would combust if I moved it too quickly, I managed to work my way to my chair with some knitting and the dog… lol

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I finally ventured out for an appointment yesterday, and since I recently discovered there is an LYS in my area that I had no idea existed, I made a slight detour to check it out.  I  honestly couldn’t have been more thrilled.  The owner is an absolute joy to talk to, the shop is cozy, beautifully setup, and the yarn… oh HEAVEN!  A few little goodies came home with me to help with my recovery and to cheer the winter blues away…

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and just because this was so cheerful and cute…FullSizeRender (10) - Copy

I also think I may have finally found the solution to my painful, winter  hands.  My fingers split, bleed and destroy just about anything I touch when the weather turns in the fall.  I have tried absolutely everything out there, from prescriptions to over the counter remedies and I have enough lotions and creams to open my own little store.  A friend of ours saw my bleeding fingers recently and was adamant that the Working Hands by O’Keefe is what I had to buy… well, hope springs eternal, so out I went.  It works!  It is incredible… it works, it is amazing and I can knit!!!  I top it off with the Gloves in a Bottle and my hands are soft, smooth and no longer painful, bleeding and splitting :)FullSizeRender (7) - Copy

I hope you are all staying warm and cozy this week… I’m off with my cup of coffee, box of tissues and some knitting… the dog is napping and the house can wait!

 

Practice, practice, practice…

I honestly can’t say enough good things about Lorilee Beltman and her Knit Faster with Continental Knitting class on Craftsy. I have decided to continue practicing this method of knitting until my muscle memory kicks in and see if the arthritis pain in my fingers and right hand calms down. I have to say that I do enjoy knitting this way… it is very smooth and the transition between knit and purls is so much less cumbersome than throwing has been. I am also going to continue researching the lever knitting that I learned as a child. Being comfortable with different styles of knitting will be beneficial to me in the long run, I believe, as I have to assume that arthritis will only get worse, not better and I have absolutely no intention on giving up my knitting :) I am excited about all of this as I truly do love to learn new things, and if it increases my speed and allows me to knit more – then it is a win, win situation all the way around! :)

I have been away from my blog for so long that I think I will just share some of the things that have taken place a little at a time, so here goes…

We lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Beau, to Lymphoma in August of 2012 at the much too young age of 7.  It was devastating, to say the least, but he left us with so many cherished memories and he is never far from our thoughts.  He was truly an amazing boy who stuck by my side through all of my health issues and surgeries.  Losing him left a huge hole in all of our lives.

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In February of 2013, we welcomed 8 week old Jack to our family… He reminds us, at times, of the Tasmanian devil, keeps us on our toes, and is a total lovebug.. most of the time ;)  lol  I’m sure he will be making an appearance here and there on this blog, as he loves to occasionally steal my knitting and play cats cradle running through the dining room table and chairs with it…

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There has been knitting as well…  Since we are having such a crazy winter here in the Northeast, my daughter Nikki needed a nice warm hat.  This is The Vermonter from Ravelry… works up quickly and looks great :)   The mitts are Ragtop also from Ravelry and I have to say they are my new favorite mitts to knit.  Superfast and a great pattern.

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We are bracing for another “blizzard” here, so I will have much more time to “Practice, practice, practice” my new (to me) knitting styles :)

Exploring Knitting Styles

I’m a “thrower” or “English Style Knitter”…. Sounds like a confession of sorts, but I have recently been looking into alternative knitting styles for a couple of reasons. I would very much like to speed up my knitting, but I also have arthritis in the fingers of my right hand which has been causing me some problems.

I learned to knit when I was 5 years old from my Italian Grandmother who knit like the wind. I remember listening to the subtle, rhythmic “clicking” of her needles as she whipped up slippers, afghans and shawls for the family in no time at all. I knit for a few years as a child and then switched to mostly crochet until I was in my 20’s. By that time, my beloved Grandmother had passed away and all that I had learned from her was unclear in my mind. I do remember her tucking her long straight needle under her arm and taking off like a shot! As I tried to recreate how I was taught, well meaning friends and acquaintances brought to my attention that I was knitting “incorrectly” and gave me an unending stream of “advice”. I adjusted my knitting style to fall in line with the “correct” way to “throw” the yarn and have knit that way since. The next time I saw anyone knit the way my grandmother did was when I saw the Yarn Harlot and her “Irish Cottage Knitting” or “Lever Style Knitting”. It was a complete ah ha! moment for me, as I finally realized that there is no “wrong” way to knit! Unfortunately, I am having a hard time recreating the knitting of my childhood with circulars and dpn’s and am none to smooth with the long straights… yet.

I also forayed into continental knitting by taking a Craftsy Class online. The instructor is fantastic and I had no problem learning this method and picking up some very good speed while doing it. Unfortunately, the arthritis in the fingers of my right hand is very much aggravated when knitting this way. I also have looked into “Portugese” knitting with Andrea Wong, but I honestly don’t know if I want to re-learn how to do every single stitch at this point in my life.

What style of knitting do all of you use, and why? Any suggestions for me on re-learning the “lever knitting”? I would so love to take the Yarn Harlot’s – Knitting for Speed and Efficiency class, but have yet to get into one in my area.