2017: Goals

Today I’m here to talk about my making goals for the coming year, 2017. I’m ambitious, and don’t expect to get to all of it, but I like to have a pool to choose from as I go along so I have some premeditated self-guidance.


I’ve been trying to refine my tastes and style a little. Instead of picking projects that I find novel (a rookie mistake I used to frequently make), I’m trying to pick things I’ll actually enjoy wearing. I’m sure I’m allowed some frivolity in my life, but most of my knitting should be geared toward practicality. I want to love my clothes, and I don’t want to spend time, money and effort making things that don’t make my heart sing. What I think I need to add to my wardrobe, knit-wise, this year:

  • Marinière pullover; the classic nautical sweater, with blue and white stripes, and a boatneck. Mine will be fitted with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m seriously eyeing Imperial Yarn’s Tracie Too (bottom right) as a candidate.
  • Black or charcoal pullover; I need a basic dark pullover with long sleeves and a v-neck, I think.
  • Patterned circular yoke pullover; I’m eyeing some Icelandic designs, though I’m getting pulled in very swiftly by Kate Davies’ Puffin Sweater, with its zigzag circular mantle, though I’d definitely do it in greyscale instead. I was already eyeing Snaeldan Nappað tógv 2tr (2-ply) for this, and noticed that this project by Ravelry’s A-frb already existed (top centre), and is the spitting image of what I want, even in the same yarn.
  • A pair of mittens! I’m leaning toward Pia Kammeborn’s Shine mittens (top left) in the original yellow and white. Usually I don’t go in for matching the sample, but the look of them makes me happy, and isn’t that the point?
  • I want to try socks. I have sock yarn, and will try in the summer, when small wool projects make more sense than large ones on your lap in the heat. This actually is a surprise for me, because until recently I was open about my feelings re: knitting my own socks. (“I couldn’t bear to wear my knitting on my feet, where it will wear through so quickly!”). I took a course on mending at Knit Fit last month, and I’m more confident that I can make and maintain knits that take a lot of wear.
  • I also have definite plans to skewer some things I have had on the back-burner, but certainly also have the materials for. Specifically, two Brooklyn Tweed patterns (also pullovers — hi, I’m Aja, and I love pullovers):
    • Stasis, by Leila Raabe (bottom left), done in Tracie Too (grey, with black contrast, as in the picture, actually).
    • League, by Veronik Avery (top right), done in Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, as called for, but in wholly different colours (I’ll get to that another post).


Less concrete feelings on sewing in 2017. I’m thinking of getting a new sewing machine (have been for some time), but I’m hesitant because it’s a lot of money and I’ve been so frustrated with sewing recently.  I have some basic feelings:

  • I want to make my yellow dress, finally.
  • I want to try to make a few tops for the summer.
  • I want to attempt a black gauze skirt.
  • I want to make a bunch of project bags so I can neatly pack away my knitting shenanigans at the end of the day, and not look at its sprawling mass around the house.
  • I want to attempt quilting at some point. Maybe 2017 will be it?

Finishing Old Projects

In no particular order (and what I think is stymieing me on these):

  • Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Deco, by Kate Davies): The sleeves scare me a little, because it’s hard to measure the gauge and I’m afraid I’ll have to reknit them a bunch.
  • Tamarack Jacket, by Grainline Studio: I strained my eyes embroidering this sucker, and have been afraid to go back, but I will when the light gets better in the spring!
  • Migration Pullover, part of the 2016 Fringe and Friends KAL: Having to restart this was a bit frustrating, but ultimately the right choice.
  • Faroese Pullover: A product of maker’s ennui; it’s a bit fiddly around the sleeve increases but I know I’ll like the product, so I just need to push through another arm, and the top raglan.
  • Ballard Bound (Ebba, by Dianna Walla): The blue was coming off on my hands and I know it’s going to bleed everywhere, and… maybe I’ll frog and use different yarn. I thought about buying some Chickadee, as is called for, but I’ve heard terrible things about the pilling and I don’t want to do all that work for pills.
  • Travel Cardigan, Victoria, BC: Endless sea of stockinette mixed with the zero memory of mohair silk thread. Pretty, but why do I do this to myself?


I plan on being careful with my current unfinished projects in the coming year. I don’t expect the world of myself — that I’ll finish all three large projects that are as yet unfinished in January, or whatever. I do, however, want to interchange new projects and old projects to breathe new life into them all. I hate it when making feels like a chore, and so I will start a new project and finish that, then finish an old one, back and forth, etc. etc. until I’m in a place where I don’t have a ball and chain in yarn or fabric form around my ankle. Making is supposed to be fun, after all!


Improv Sweater. Week 6: Re-Do.

Selfie magic!

So I’ve restarted this pullover (I suspect that will garner a few gasps…) I’m making as a part of Fringe Association’s #fringeandfriendskal2016. I looked at it last week and was kind of disappointed in how it was turning out, and then after a brief bout on Instagram (thanks, Karen, for asking about the raglan depth! Hello, stark reality!!), I decided to rip the whole thing and start afresh. I looked at the original and some of the small details I had got wrong were really nagging at the back of my mind, pulling my attention away from my pullover and into a kind of ennui over the whole thing. I knew that this wasn’t working for me, that I would be unimpressed with the final product, and that I wouldn’t wear it. That obviously completely defeats the entire purpose of this KAL and the product of my labour! So, I’m calling re-do. My heritage musings aside, and my desire for a sportswear pullover, I feel this will serve my wardrobe best, even if it doesn’t appeal to my intellectual vanity. (I can appease that later!)

Here’s what I’m set on:

  • Boatneck, instead of crew.
  • Reversible, instead of fitted yoke (because I’d like to extend the flying geese pattern to the top of both sides).
  • Contiguous neckband, to avoid having to sew it up later, because I don’t know that I care that much about the rounded quality of the sewn bind-off for this.
  • 3/4 sleeves, because I love them a lot.
  • Modified raglan for better fit.
  • Oversized a bit to make it cozy and so that I can layer it if I want.


I’m also switching yarn. The other yarn started to grow on me, but I think it is better suited to be a pullover I gift to a friend than an actual wardrobe staple for me! (Sophie, if you’re reading this, look out, you’re getting something pretty for your birthday/Christmas). So I give you: Madelinetosh-dyed Composition book grey (more purple in this iteration), Valley Yarns Northumbria DK Special Edition. It’s been in my stash for years, and I have decided it needs to be something delightful. Time to shine, guys!

Re-do! Now, in Composition Book Grey.

I spoke briefly on my Instagram account about a challenge to myself to finish this pullover in about a week. That doesn’t seem like it will happen, though I was technically capable and have knit that quickly in the past. I hurt my back earlier in the week, and it’s been screaming a bit more loudly over the past two days. (Last night, I had to have Tom wail on my lumbar area so I could sleep.) So, I’m knitting from the couch today, trying to knit as fast as I can from a reclined position, while searching for job postings. Multi-tasking at its finest! It isn’t a race, but I want to get a move on, anyway. Wish me luck!

FAFKAL 2016 vs. Slow Fashion October: Musings

An imponderable: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters.

Tomorrow is the last day of summer, and even though the Pacific Northwest cooled down about a week ago, and the rest of the continent seems to be under a haze of heat still, I’m thinking about wearing sweaters and making one, too. I am talking, of course, about my #fringeandfriendskal2016 (FAFKAL) sweater, through Karen Templer and her Fringe Association, as well as Instagram, and all of that good stuff. It got me thinking specifically of the particular quandary I have: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters. This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that I am 1. someone who runs warm on the best of days, 2. a complete fibre snob that doesn’t like cotton or synthetics very much at all, and 3. completely addicted to knitting pullovers.

The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t just be based solely on whim or current fashion, but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself.

The idea that has been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks has finally become coherent. That is: The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t be based solely on whim or current fashion (though, to some extent, it will be because of the osmosis of ideas surrounding a person, and the materials available, and one’s dreams about a project), but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself. Yes, big chunky pullovers done in brioche look fantastic, but do you really need a double-layer of wool in April? Some might, some might not.

…if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it?

I’m hesitant to take this thought to its logical conclusion because it seems a bit deterministic. If you want to make that chunky sweater and wear it for a muggy May in Seattle, then by all means go for it. A person’s imagination shouldn’t be stymied by practicality, but getting to the overall theme of my writing today, and touching on an issue Karen Templer brought up tangentially in preparation of Slow Fashion October: if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it? Even if you love it, and it makes your heart sing, if it’s too warm or too cold for your living situation, should you make it? It’s a bit of an imponderable; I am admittedly guilty of knitting pullovers that I love love (love!) but that I cannot wear more than once or twice a year. Is that frequent enough to justify their existence? Only I can answer that for myself, as others will feel differently about their own projects, but I do know that I’m trying to create clothes that are wearable in my new living circumstances. I’ve gone from blazing hot summers and freezing cold winters, to a kind of moderate climate without too (too) much temperature swing. How do I change my wardrobe to accommodate this? I plan to pay attention to how I’m feeling through the next year, and make a few items I’m sure of, while adjusting the rest of my wardrobe to suit my needs. This KAL, as will be the case with this SFO, is about transitions.

Mindfulness is the most important aspect of this intellectual exercise. It doesn’t matter if you arrive at an opinion on whether to tend towards making for art or practicality, but rather we all need to be aware of the choices we make when we create.


fullsizerender1A reason I’m enjoying this KAL so much is that I’m able to experiment with new techniques, and this now includes playing with new sleeve and body lengths, too. While I had done some tweaking on body length before now, with my sweater being entirely of my own creation, I have nobody else’s projects with which to compare my own. I’m working on the first sleeve right now, and I’m not sure I like how it’s coming out; I’ve designed it to be cropped, but I’m afraid I’ve decreased too quickly and directly; I’m going to try it on this afternoon, once I’ve got it a bit longer, and see how I feel about the fit. I’m planning on stopping with adding a good length of ribbing to about the elbow, or just past (thoughts?). I like that I’ll likely be knitting a sweater that I can wear when I’m a bit chilly indoors, without sweating my socks off. Open wrists, for me, mean that I’ll be able to wear a chunkier weight (i.e. worsted weight) sweater without wanting to keel over in a hallway. This project is a creature of whimsy, but is also practical and suited to my daily needs.

How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash?

This line of thinking also has me considering my stash. I am only really allowed to knit from stash at the present (a self-determined state of affairs), and will not have purchased yarn for myself for an entire year as of January (creeping ever closer…). I want to go in for all kinds of new yarns, and old ones, too (I need Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter Marls in Newsprint in my life, like, yesterday…. but I am virtuous, and will wait), but I do not want to be wasteful of the materials I already own.

I am obsessed with Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter Marls in Newsprint especially, but I will have to wait for my stash to shrink before anything like buying yarn will happen

My tastes have changed, as I discussed in my last (brief! manic!) post on my dreams of becoming stashless. I want to wake up one day to a single tote of yarn on the go, and no other crafting commitments beyond what I have in my imagination. How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash? I think the answers are there, but I’m working on deciphering them. Knit more for others, surely, and maybe knit for charity, though I am a bit selfish with my handiwork. Regardless of the answers, I’m confident I’ll find equilibrium in my stash, in my life, and in my future project plans. This pullover is steering me down the right path. It’s aptly named (“Migrating Birds”), as it points me in new directions both in my life and my crafting. Is there a difference between the two, really?

Working towards stashlessness

This morning I woke up and things felt a bit off. I suffer from anxiety (who doesn’t, it seems?) and today’s point of worry was the fact that I feel like I have too much stuff. I stare at my yarn stash, and it is throat-lump-inducing. I wish I hadn’t developed it, but now I’m saddled with it, and I can’t imagine anyone wants to buy it off me. I might try selling some of it this winter once I get a bit more settled into a routine, as well as selling some shoes I don’t wear but that are pretty collectible and in perfect or near-perfect condition.

Back to: stash.

My ultimate dream is to go stashless

I haven’t bought yarn in over half a year, and I’m planning on holding onto that plan for at least 12 months, if not longer. I want to knit from my stash, as I’m compelled to knit, but I’ve outgrown it in many ways. The things I want to knit right now don’t match the things I wanted to knit a few years ago. My tastes have changed, and (I’d like to think) refined a little. My ultimate dream is to go stashless, to not have this horde of yarn to lug around every time I move. I am therefore slowly cataloguing my yarn, deciding what I can use, how I can use it, and what I need to sell or donate. It’s a shame because the money I used to buy it was hard-got, but my mental health wants simplification, and damn it, I’m giving it that at least.

Instead of this being primarily a boring venting/complaining post, I would like to offer my present and future self a list of goals and methods to keep the stash down where it belongs. I give you:


Aja’s Stashdown Tenets 2016

  1. No buying yarn until that anxious feeling subsides (better than a tangible number of skeins, or projects, as this point — I trust my gut on this).
  2. If buying books or patterns, they must be able to be used with the present stash as it exists. This having been said…
  3. Try to knit from already-purchased patterns in your library. If you don’t like them anymore, someone else will, so get cracking on those gifts (see item 6). As an extension:
  4. No buying online patterns unless you plan to cast on directly. No exceptions.
  5. Get rid of any and all acrylic or unnatural fibres. No exceptions. (This is quite gratifyingly easy as I have a very limited amount of acrylic).
  6. Knit presents for people, if possible, to get rid of stash. Start as early as possible.
  7. Put unwanted stash up for sale on Ravelry. Don’t think twice about it.
  8. Try to enjoy the freedom of taking hold of a situation that makes you uncomfortable and getting through it! This is great!

Improv Sweater. Week Four: Changing Course a Bit

“Come outside, Aja!” say the pumpkins and the ‘mums. Yes, I think I will. Thank you for the invitation.

I am in the midst of making a dark grey heathered Moneta by Colette Patterns. However, it’s an absolutely beautiful day, so I feel compelled to go outside before the door to summer slams shut and we in the Pacific Northwest have to deal with dark drizzle for a few long months.

(Not to mention, I have keen hearing and the burbling of the cidre as it ferments is driving me insane.)

I am not a pen-and-paper artist. Sorry, folks.

Consequently, I am back on the trail of my #fringeandfriendskal2016 Top-Down Pullover, Migrating Birds. It’s a portable thing to do on a beautiful afternoon, and I’m quite pleased to have the privilege and time to get at it. I think it is evolving a little in my mind. I am happy to pay homage to my heritage, but I’ve been thinking about how I actually want to wear it. A few weeks ago, I did a mini wardrobe round-up to figure out what kind of style I was aiming for with this project. I think now that I think about it, I have many workhorse pullovers, but few stylized ones. I got to thinking: what if I go in a slightly different direction? Nobody is in control here, but me. I started doodling (albeit poorly; forgive the furtive pen strokes and smudges! My book nearly blew away this afternoon, it got so windy).

I love this project so much. I wish I was a bit faster on this one because I want to wear it NOW!
Isn't this fabulous?
Isn’t this fabulous? Total coincidence that it’s very much like my own drawings and ideas; I found it after dreaming up the new plan.

I think that I’m going to make the sleeves to the elbow in a kind of nod to mid-century sportswear, so I can wear this with high-waisted skirts and feel vintage but in a kind of updated way. I’ll finish the bottom with a long swathe of twisted ribbing (as the cuffs will be finished, just as I have done for the neckline). It’s actually a compete coincidence that the above photo looks like what I’d like to do (mostly). I found it after I made my decision to illustrate my thoughts a bit better. Mid-century sportswear is great for my body type, and the best part is that I don’t have to make it kitschy by being too vintage. I can make it modern and my very own.

I’m changing directions, trying something new with this. The point of this creation is to explore a bit. If it doesn’t work, I’ll pull it out and see what happens next!


Oh hey, there! I was gifted a pretty thing!

You guys! Imagine my surprise when my #fringeandfriendskal2016 pullover was mentioned on Fringe Association this past Friday! How wonderful to have such a great nod! I’m excited for the Woollelujah tote. It’ll be a fun one to tote around my woolly things with. Ok, dad jokes aside, it’s really flattering. Apologies for the delay in my acknowledgement. I had a really busy weekend starting Friday, and have only just had time to sit down and write!

Thanks, Karen!

Improv Sweater. Week 3: “Show me yer gussets!”

I’ve been knitting along on my Migrating Birds for #fringeandfriendskal2016, and I’m about to get to that point where I can separate the arms and body. I’m, maybe, a day off, because I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to knitting right now.

Anyway, I’ve been looking through pictures of ganseys throughout history online, and it got me thinking. Really, the defining characteristic of the gansey, beyond the knit-purl motifs, the dense knit, and the frequently salty characters wearing them, is one particular detail: gussets!* Yes, gussets. A little extra stretch of fabric in the underarm to make sure the wearer can actually move! It’s not a gansey without a gusset, just a prettily patterned sweater. The point of a gansey, after all, is to keep the working wearer warm and moving!

So what I really am thinking is that I should add a small gusset — nothing baggy, but a really serious nod to it. Maybe in a contrasting colour? What do you think? It’s a bit odd to most perhaps, but people who know ganseys will appreciate it, and if I’m anything, I’m a stickler for historic accuracy (even if this is already a bit of a franken-sweater**). Which I say in the most loving way possible!

Do you think this is dated or do you think it’s a cute idea? It would give me something new to learn — I’ve never done a gusset before! It could be a neat way to add a pop of colour and also use up a bit of scrap? I’m knitting from stash only, these days, until I can get some worthwhile employment and some space in my house! It might feel good to hit both targets.

Maybe navy blue? I have a good solid navy, same weight, and it wouldn’t be so loud that it would be offensive like, say, red, but it would be a neat little detail I’d be aware of. I also have this greeny blue. It’s a bit more green than I can capture with my camera today, specifically, it’s Forestry by Madelinetosh.

*A quick search on Pinterest. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture available to me without license right now!

Improv Sweater. Week 3: Musings on knitting, personal histories, and maritime heritage

Knitting is my connection to who I was, where I was, and also who I am, where I am, and whom I will become while here.

I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was a child, my parents moved me to their childhood home: the coast of Lake Erie, to somewhere between Simcoe and Port Dover, Ontario. It’s the shallowest of the Great Lakes, but is peculiar in that, historically, it had a vibrant fishing industry. With warm waters (there’s the benefit of that shallowness), the fish were populous, and people prospered off catching and selling them in their own modest ways for the better part of two centuries. Unfortunately, like the fishing industries on the East Coast of North America (I’m thinking, in particular, of our maritime provinces’), the Great Lakes fishing industry began to collapse in what I believe was the 1980s. Slowly, surely, fishing tugboats retired, were ghosts in a shipyard for awhile, and, without hope of resale or renewal, were scrapped for their valuable steel.

Port Dover’s fishing industry is slowly scraping by, bolstered a tiny bit, year by year, by the new demand for perch and Japan’s taste for smelt. The smelt is a tiny little fish, not very interesting, and rather unassuming; you certainly wouldn’t easily make a meal of it, but these are flash frozen, and sent to the other side of the world for frying and fermenting.

While my family was not a fishing family, many of my childhood friends came from fisherly backgrounds, and the local economies were highly dependent on this. I feel like I cannot help but be bound to this theme; large bodies of water, spreading out in expanse, at once welcoming and foreboding. Fishing, as many things in life, is a dangerous business, and frequently a cold one, too. Cold enough for sweaters, certainly.

It seems that knitting maritime sweaters is in my blood; wool, textiles and fisheries part of my heritage in some small way.

What a happy coincidence that Simcoe’s primary industry until the 1970s was the wool and yarn trade. There used to be wool mills up and down the lazy river that runs through it, and fields filled with sheep. Since the advent of the aggressive globalized economy, this trade has died out, but you can still find remnants of its success in books, in local crafts, and in some of the old mill stores that still exist in southwestern Ontario. It seems that knitting maritime sweaters is in my blood; wool, textiles and fisheries part of my heritage in some small way.

Fisherman’s rib on my front porch in the sun. The colour variation of the yarn is very obvious in this photo.

As a teenager, I developed an interest in fishing ganseys and the oft-associated, though largely mythical “fisherman’s aran” (though, if you’ll take Alice Starmore’s opinion on it, arans weren’t used for fishing, which makes sense as they’re too delicate and prone to pulling). I began to be fascinated by knitting. I tried for years to develop skills, but my dexterity wasn’t there, and it wasn’t until I moved to England for the second time for graduate school that I really got the hang of it. I was in-land, in Durham City, but the water and the history was still in the back of my mind. My first project was a now-frogged scarf that was intricately, if a bit clumsily, cabled. Boom. Hello, fisherman’s sweater obsession.

“Didn’t exactly work out, did it?” Or, learning not to use busy colourways with textural patterns the hard way.



I have knit a fair few cabled projects since then, and tried my hand at a gansey or two, with limited amounts of success and satisfaction. Cabling is fine. Gansey patterns are, for some reason, less easy for me. Even so, I’m deeply committed to challenging myself.

I recently moved to another place with a huge fishing heritage, though of Scandinavian rather than British heritage. Ballard is a neighbourhood in Seattle, Washington, with a still-vibrant fishery. I love seeing the freshly painted, loved fishing boats going out onto the Sound, knowing some of them are destined for as far away as Alaska. It’s amazing to me that they’re going so far, when my Great Lake is still comparatively so tiny. I feel more at home near water regardless of whether it’s salt or fresh. I love that I can continue this theme in my life; living near fisheries, near Big Water. Still, I’m expanding my knitterly interests; I actually see ganseys worn here, though more frequently micro-fleece and rubber rain suits. I’m broadening my knitting repertoire, and the accompanying history, to encompass this ever-evolving community. I love that I’m carrying on a tradition, and evolving this tradition; knocking on gansey utility through the 21st century.

I love… evolving this tradition; knocking on gansey utility through the 21st century.

The reason I’m telling you all of this isn’t just because I like to wax romantic about my past. I really do think that my integration into this community hinges on my understanding on where it’s come from, where it is going. By knitting this sweater, with its gansey motif, and its fisherman’s rib, I’m staying in touch with my past while welcoming my present and future. Knitting is my connection to who I was, where I was, and also who I am, where I am, and whom I will become while here.


I’m learning new things on this KAL. I’m also really pleased with being able to see everyone else’s progress. All so different, yet variations on a theme! It’s inspiring to see how we can all take the same notion (knit a top-down sweater in one piece), and run with it. Being given encouragement, offering encouragement — what a feeling of community. Imagination is so powerful, and I believe really quite healthy, too. Amazing!

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about an idea that’s been bopping around my head for a little while now! Stroke of genius or dated and silly? You’ll find out what it is, and you can feel free to tell me what you think!

Even Tension in All Things

I’ve seen a lot of change in the last year.

My visa process to move to the US started in October, and still isn’t complete. I was finally able to move here in February, and married my partner, Tom, in March. I’ve moved countries, surroundings (I’d lived in the country for a few years before coming here), changed my entire lifestyle. I am having to restart entirely. I have also felt slightly (if I may, from my perspective of otherwise comfort and privilege) demeaned; I’ve had to prove my relationship is real to countless governmental employees, I have been fingerprinted for the FBI database like some sort of dangerous criminal, endlessly examined, re-examined. I have had to justify myself, my relationship, my very existence frequently in the last year. Still! I have finally been granted permission to seek employment, which is a great relief. After 6 months of ups and downs, I am permitted to set down roots beyond functioning as a bad imitation of a homemaker (which I am, mostly, not at all) and living in a sort of madness-inducing stasis.

A small glimpse of my new home, the Pacific Northwest.

Knitting has helped me through a lot of the loneliness. When people talk about Seattle, they talk about the Space Needle (which seems to perturb locals), the mountains, the water and ferries, the cafe culture, the art culture, the laid-back neighbourhoods, the good food… and when they’re done with the pleasantries, they talk about the Northwest Freeze. I’ve heard a lot of locals to Seattle disparage others for deigning to claim that this exists. “Go out and join a club! Actually try to meet people and make friends!” It’s really not that easy if you haven’t grown up in a built-in social circle, as those who grew up or attended school/university around here have done. It seems that making friends around here is a multi-month, if not -year, endeavour. I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of people in this city that I could learn to be friends with, that are warm, welcoming and interesting. Still, regardless of how wonderful these hypothetical people are, in my experience, most residents of this city initially shy away from the kind of sincerity and friendliness I try my utmost to project. It’s hard to keep them captive long enough to establish a rapport. It’s been a frustrating process. So, I turned almost all of my attention to knitting.

Knitting has been my warm, bright spot in a sea of uncertainty. Tom is a wonderful, supportive partner, and his friends are very nice people, and maybe I’m even starting, very slowly, to be friends with them (after three years of talking to them relatively regularly). Yet, knitting has provided me with a means to meet new people whom I can relate to, and to branch out.

Knitting has been my warm, bright spot in a sea of uncertainty.

I have made a friend in a local yarn shop, and she’s been great to hang out with, welcoming, warm and supportive. How wonderful that the knitting world could provide social avenues? It’s a tricky thing, making friends. Even tricky among knitters. It’s a matter of figuring out a rough sketch of who you think you are, how you interact with the craft, and then finding like minds, or realizing truths about yourself you hadn’t previously struck on. I have tried out a knitting group or two since I’ve moved here; nice people, all. Still, I haven’t found my spot yet, but I’m working on it. It’s hard, but making things with my hands provides for me an outlet that is sorely needed when I’m anxious and alone, and frankly, a little bit scared of the future.

Like all of the fears and challenges I’m facing right now, it’s all about keeping even-keeled, even focused, keeping even tension in all things.

Right now, I’m putting my “all” into a KAL pullover, relatively simple in construction, but an absolute sanctuary for my mind. I’ve never free-styled a sweater before, though I’ve knit (and frogged) plenty. It’s a raglan, as I’ve mentioned before, and I’ve never thought to shape the back of one, but it’s turning out really well, I think. It’s beautiful, really. It’s really helping me. Like all of the fears and challenges I’m facing right now, it’s all about keeping even-keeled, even focused, keeping even tension in all things.

Next time: I’ll be writing about the funny connections that run through my life with this particular sweater. I’ve moved from fishing community to fishing community, freshwater to salt, and yet my projects frequently have that nautical flavour to them. What’s new is the Scandinavian preoccupation I’ve developed over the last year or two. Funny that I should have moved to an old Scandinavian fishing neighbourhood with still-strong roots! You can now read about it here.

Improv Sweater. Week 2: Yoke Progress

The Sweater Itself

Not knitting at least half an hour a day feels wrong for me. I picked up my Fringe and Friends KAL 2016 raglan again this morning, after a slew of chores (including repotting our 30 year-old mother-in-law’s tongue), and I feel more at peace. It’s coming along beautifully, I think. I’m almost done the yoke. I’ve been trying to feel my way along, rather than plotting every bit out mathematically. Despite this “touchy feely ” approach, I did do some calculations for the increases not just for size, but also to make sure I would be able to join up the front and back in the flying geese pattern. It’s working out! Yay!

The sleeves will likely go largely unadorned as the body is so textural already. I’m thinking of not doing too much shaping in the body, rather blocking it out to be a bit A-lined, to keep it casual. That, or I’ll make it a cropped pullover. Still toying!

Other Things

I haven’t had a lot of time to knit in the last week. Things have been busy around here. Saturday, we made pickles with a friend and his family out in the town of Snohomish. We used an old family recipe, handed down to them via their grandmother, a Polish farmer. Apparently, the trick to a crunchy pickle is to remove the jars from the canner (read: large pot of boiling water used to sterilize and seal) just as the vegetables start to dull out in colour. Nobody likes a limp pickle! Sunday was similarly busy.

Monday night, after some seriously delicious Kao Soi at Pestle Rock (excellent Thai food!), we were able to pick the pears in our yard! Reaching up with the basket was difficult but worthwhile; I sent Tom up the ladder. No heights for me, thanks!

Tuesday night, we made pear butter. We are now practically swimming in it. I can’t wait to try some on toast this weekend, when it’s had time to rest!