Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shepherds Pi

No, I did not make a spelling error in the title of this post (grin) The Shepherd's Pi I am talking about is my version of the Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl we are about to begin over at the EzasPi group! This is to celebrate the one year anniversary of the group's beginning.

Why Shepherd's Pi? Because I am knitting this shawl entirely of homespun yarn from my flock of sheep, for me (the shepherd of the little flock!) And it is being worked with many thoughts of my own dear Shepherd, my Lord Jesus. I have felt His hand in mine so often these past days. And so I have dubbed my anniversary shawl my Shepherds Pi....

First I did a little sample - a Snack Pi ;> I was trying to determine if I want to go from dark to light with the yarn, or vice versa. My sheep come in a wide range of colors (see my website, Serenity Farms for photos of the flock) and I want to use a sampling of most of them. I also decided I wanted to knit with singles. Here is a picture of the yarns I used to sample:

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Can you see how the colors go from jet black, a warm brown, through shades of grey and then a blend of my whites. (That very silver grey on the bottom right is Hannah)

And here is a close up of some of the knitting of the Snack Pi:

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I learned some valuable lessons in this sample....namely, taking care that my yarn overs at the beginning of the row are snugged up so it won't look sloppy. I learned how long it takes to work the border, even on a sample that is only 14" or so wide! And I decided I will probably make the border of the full sized shawl a bit fancier.

But the most important thing I learned (or should say I was reminded of) is how very much I enjoy working with my own fibers! I will be doing the simple yarn over version of the original Pi Shawl as the yarn is the star of this shawl production - and frankly, I need something a bit mindless right now to work on.

I need to hurry up and finish the second sample, going from light to dark yarn and make my decision of which I prefer so that I can cast on this Sunday, January 22! Sande from the Ez list made an important would seem that the border is going to get grubbier than the rest of the shawl, and maybe the darker border would be a bit more practical! I think she may be right.

And Jesus said: If a shepherd has one hundred sheep, and one wanders away and is lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others and go out into the hills to search for the lost one? And if he finds it, he will surely rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish...Matthew 18:12-14

I look forward to welcoming home my own one lost lamb in coming days...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Socks and Daughters

I'm so proud of my knitting daughter ;) Growing up, she had no desire to learn to knit. Then, a few years ago when she was expecting her first child - my precious grandbaby Mason - the urge hit! Her first project was a scarf, her second project was a sweater! For her third project she wanted to learn to knit socks. Being the cautious mother that I am, I thought maybe she should get some more knitting experience under her belt before attempting small dpns on fine yarn (grin). Well, she got tired of waiting for Mom and showed up one day with a beautifully crafted sock and asked "Does this look right?" The sock bug had hit! Her second pair of socks were a lace pattern (grin). She is now teaching sock knitting classes at one of our local yarn shops and just a few days ago won her first sock competition with this sock:

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(The scanned photo highlighted the sock better than my digital camera did) The pattern is Denmark from Knitting On The Road and the yarn is the wonderful Soft Rock yarn (latest in the Socks That Rock line of yarns) from Toni Neil at The Fold, color is Cotton Candy. A close up of the stitch pattern is below:

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She also creates the most beautiful jeweled stitch markers...

A special thank you to our extended, online knitting friends who encouraged Nakia in her knitting endeavors (I think you know who you are!)

Congratulations, Honey! Love you ;)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stash and Resolutions

You know, after following a recent thread on a Yahoo fiber list I am on, I discovered that my fiber stash is basically non-existent – especially compared to what other folks have! This was a blessed relief to me! What I do tend to have are small odd lots of things because I love to experiment. So I have these little groups of 4 or 8-ounce batts or roving in beautiful colors, gorgeous textures and exotics. Along with that I have the roving I had made from the last of Hannah’s fleece.

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Sadly, as many of you know, we lost our dear ewe Hannah late in 2005. She is sorely missed, though we have her twin sister Eve and three of her daughters - Abby, Amanda and HannahJoy. Her last fleece was short, to short for me to be comfortable selling though it was strong. There was also only a few pounds total. So I dyed some angora fiber that was a bit short, too, and dear Lynn at Spinderella’s worked extra carefully to card this into roving for me. That is not going anywhere but WILL be a shawl for me, a comfort shawl and not only a reminder of my sweet Hannah but of all of you who had a part in her lift (even via email)

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I have a pretty large stash of very, very good quality Angora fiber, mostly white French with very few guard hairs plus a generous amount of beautiful gray (well, it is labeled as Chestnut Agouti but you know it looks silvery gray to me!) English angora. These are such a joy to work with that I am not in any hurry with them, just want to use them to their best advantage! I am thinking of a lacy vest pattern, something that will be pretty and that I can wear but won’t be TOO warm.

What I do have an abundance of, though, is yarn. I sorted through and had two garbage bags of yarn. I further separated these by man-made fibers (one bag full); commercial wool or wool blends and handspun wool (or natural fibers) The made man fibers (acrylics, etc.) are going to be given away. They are nice enough yarns and I am not a yarn snob….except that I do prefer natural fibers. The bulkier handspuns that don’t amount to substantial amounts of any particular color are being knit into a stash-ghan type shawl - just a bulky, warm, homespun feeling around-the-house-comfort wrap.

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The smaller gauge yarns are going to be used up in a different and more meaningful way, I think. They are going to become socks and vests for the CIC (Children in Common) project. I want to share with you how this inspiration came about, if you would like to hear the story.

My little grandson is a true fiber connoisseur ;) Since he was a wee baby he loved to hold a ball of yarn, loves to watch the spinning wheel go, loves to tend the sheep. This winter he got a new pair of barn boots, and I discovered that you couldn’t buy a pair of work boots (hunting type boots) for children. Well, this is silly, I thought I can make him a pair so easily. So I proceeded. Babysitting him one evening I was working on his sock and he came over and asked what I was doing. I told him I was knitting and he said back Oh, socks? Yes, I replied, socks for Mason. To say he was excited is an understatement and he had to try them on immediately (easy enough since I knit most socks toe up) He watched me finish working on them, and as soon as that first sock was finished, he insisted on wearing it. I didn’t even get to work in the ends, but he wore that sock around all night, switching it from one foot to the other. He even had to wear it to bed! You can imagine I had to hurry and finish the second sock. He loves those socks and I was so touched by this, and started right away on another pair for him.

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They are a fuzzy, soft little blend of yarns. You may notice that the colors in the red-gold yarn is a little different from one sock to the next. This was injection dyed in the center pull ball, and the inside yarn was lighter than the outside. Fine for inside a little boys boots!

Then I happened to be reading one of my very favorite blogs, Stitches of Violet and of course Marguerite is a big believer and supporter of Children in Common projects. Suddenly, a light bulb clicked and I thought of my three-year-old grandson and how his new socks brought him such joy….even with all the other things he has in his life. How much more would a pair of new, warm socks mean to a child who has so little? It made me cry to think of – AND I have this stash of wool and wool blend yarns, good yarns that need to be used but don’t have a lot of yardage in any one yarn – PERFECT for CIC projects!!!!

And so, I have joined the CIC Yahoo list and just in time for a January sock challenge! My first pair is on the needles, with humble gratitude to being something meaningful with both my craft and my stash. In honor of my grandson and of friends who have adopted children from other countries. Following the traditional of knitting prayer shawls, I am praying for the child who will eventually receive each pair and for the people who care for them.

My other knitting goals this year, goals that will work towards using up any quantities of yarn that I have are to knit a Lopi style sweater (I have it already picked out); a Gansey style sweater IF Liz Lovick leads a KAL for one and finishing at least ONE Pi shawl with the EzasPi KAL group. I already have the yarn for each of these projects and don’t need to purchase it, but would like to use up what I have.

So those are my yarn and fiber goals for the year. I hope you have enjoyed my story and would love it if you would share yours with me!