Monday, September 23, 2013

Turn that frown (or sock) upside down

As I prepare to post here for the first time in months, I'm horrified to find that the socks I'm blogging about I very fittingly dubbed "Spring Socks" - they feature a flowery lace design and I used a springy colorway of Malabrigo Sock and I remember hurriedly completing the first one in order to teach a class last April.
And I was feeling tickled that I'm finally in the homestretch of completing the pair...until I realized that it's autumn now.  Sigh.
The first one did spend some months as a loner until I pulled the pattern back out, determined to work up the mate for sock club at the Knitty Gritty.  However, a couple months went by without any real progress beyond the cuff and a couple rows of the pattern stitch, which for some reason (probably my lack of attention) just was not coming easily.

But last month I was teaching Judy's Magic Cast On at sock club, encouraging the participants to try toe-up socks, and I ripped out what little I had of my Spring Sock #2 in order to use the yarn and needles for the lesson. Then I realized something:  I really don't care for cuff-down socks.  There I've said it.  Me, the guru of the Who Knits Socks in Florida? club.  Can't stand them. I always have trouble casting on, I always have a struggle joining in the round on two circulars because I always forget how, and once I finally accomplish that I'm faced with and inch or more of boring ribbing until I get to anything remotely entertaining.
So I kept going with my cast-on example and began working the Field of Flower mate from the toe-up, opposite of how the pattern is written.  And here I am zipping along, having a grand time, and almost finished, just in time for sock weather, if there is such a thing here, which there isn't.

I worked the pattern stitch rows in reverse order on top of the foot, then referred to Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up to work the heel construction that most closely resembles the flap and gusset on #1 sock (which I barely remember).  Now I've rejoined the leg, memorized the pattern stitch and am literally working circles around this thing.  Surely 18 rounds of ribbing won't be as boring when the result is a complete sock, rather than just a cuff.
Granted, my progress was aided this past week by several hours on planes plus a lengthy delay.  But by the end of sock club tomorrow I'll be nearing the finish line.  Hooray!  I won't have to change my project name to singular "Spring Sock" after all.
The socks might not be exactly identical - sock #1 is a shop sample so I had only my Ravelry photos to refer to - but they'll be close enough.  Let's face it, they're socks for heaven's sake.  And this is Florida.  Who knits socks in Florida?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Stitch in Time....

Last Friday my daughter took her driving test (she passed - watch out), and as I waited for her I sat and knitted.  This is what is currently at the top of my priority list, and it is perhaps the most mobile project ever:

It's Retro by Norah Gaughan, a blanket worked in five panels with a design so easy to memorize I don't even need to carry around the pattern.  Fits perfectly into my purse or beach bag, and because you only work one strip at a time, it's not too hot for summer knitting.  By mid-September or sooner, this will become my son's college afghan.  Yes, it's washable.

While I worked and waited to see how many cones my daughter knocked over, I realized that two years ago I sat in the same office and knitted while I waited for my son to take his driver's test.  Immediately I was able to bring to mind the project I was working on then - my first pair of socks:

Can't remember what I had for dinner the other night, but I can remember what I was knitting two years ago.  Wonder what project I'll have with me three years from now when my youngest will be ready for his test?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SOAP: Philippians 3

One day late - not bad for the week we had.  Thanking God for a blessed time with family and friends on the occasion of my eldest child's high school graduation - can't resist a photo:

I hadn't planned on posting that photo here, but now that I have I am struck by how it illustrates the passage I'm SOAPing today.  Irony?  Coincidence?  God.

Scripture: "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Phil 3:16, NIV

Observation: "What we have already attained" refers here to righteousness in Christ Jesus, and this exhortation speaks not of striving to attain salvation, but rather living in a way that expresses gratitude and a faithful witness, serving as an example.

Application:  Having received the diploma and participated in the ceremony pictured above, if my son were now to flop down and become a slothful couch potato, not seeking to further his education, employ his talents, and multiply the gifts he's been given, he'd be wasting that which he's attained, backsliding into mediocrity and setting a lousy example for the value of a high school education.  How much more so, then, must we who understand and have accepted the ultimate gift of righteousness through Christ strive to live in such a way that we are not a stopping point for God's grace and mercy, but rather a conduit for it.  This is not to be confused with striving to achieve salvation, which is a, perhaps the, pervasive lie in the world today.  Just last night I overheard on TV the perpetuation of the misconception that if you're good you'll go to heaven, and if you're bad you won't.  Paul reminds us in this chapter that we are powerless on our own to achieve salvation.  Good works are useless for this purpose.  But deeds are how we live out our faith and allow God to work through us for the advancement of his kingdom.  If I say, "I'm saved so there's nothing more I need to do," I am quenching the very Spirit of God in me.

Prayer:  Father God, fill me with gratitude, willingness, energy and awareness to do the work you have given me to do, giving you the glory and providing a valuable witness for the righteousness you so graciously bestow through your son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WIP Wednesday

It's 8:00 am, two kids are at school taking exams while #1 son is at graduation rehearsal.  I must say I'm intrigued by the latter, wondering how you get 650 seniors to show up at 7:30 am and accomplish anything inside the space of one hour.  The idea of lining them up in alphabetical order overwhelms me, although my high school class was even bigger, so I guess it can be done.
Tomorrow five out-of-towners will arrive for the long weekend, followed by six more on Friday, followed by graduation at 8:00 am Saturday morning, followed by a party at my house Saturday afternoon.  I have all day today to clean house and get ready....the perfect time to update my blog, don't you think?
And it just happens to be Wednesday, so let's take a look at my WIPs.
Florence 2R's and Amish Coffee are still lurking around somewhere, untouched in months.
Florence Cardi

Irish...oops!...Amish Coffee
I finally got started on the mate to this lonely sock, but it won't get much attention outside of sock club a couple times a month - no hurry, no worry.
Field of Flowers - sample for WKSF club
This unidentifiable blob will someday be a felted footstool cover for the threadbare so-called Dixon family heirloom on which it sits.  I started it a couple weeks ago during the first of several pre-party tizzies, but it's not looking good for this weekend.  So much for impressions.
Aunt Mare
But the WIP that's stealing all my attention is my Stonecutter for Gen:
Knoxy
I hereby pledge to finish this Roxy-esque creation before we board the plane for California three weeks from today.  There, I've said it.  Now I hafta.

Monday, June 3, 2013

SOAP: Philippians Chapter 2

A lot of very familiar sound bites here, which can easily become dogmatic commands sure to cause failure if not read in context and lived out by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This chapter can be overwhelming as Paul admonishes us to imitate Christ in His humility...and put others first....and don't grumble... it's almost a relief when he moves on to talk about Timothy and Epaphroditus - as if just when I can't take any more conviction, he eases the pressure by changing the subject.  Here's my takeaway for the week:

Scripture:  Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky... (Phil 2:14-15)
Observation:  Our attitude is a powerful witness, something that makes us distinct and enables us to bring the light of Christ to the world.
Application:  Often, if not only, it is in the home where I am most guilty of grumbling and arguing.  I can  morph from servant to martyr at the drop of a hat, or at least a wet towel, and things can quickly get ugly.  What kind of message is this sending my family?  Only by tapping into Christ and following his example of humility - not servant-doormat as this world would have you think, but servant-leader - can I hope to move from being ruled by emotions and expectations to being ruled by the Spirit.
Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I confess I am powerless to "do everything without grumbling or arguing" without leaning in to you for grace and patience.  Cause me to cling to you, remembering the true humility of Jesus, to pray before speaking, and to serve in a manner that glorifies you and shines your light to others.  Amen.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Philippians Chapter/Week 1

One week ago, having reawakened my Twitter account in order to be more engaged with my daughter and her friends, I responded to the tweeted invitation from Amy Gross @momstoolbox.com to spend 4 weeks reading and reflecting on Paul's letter to the Philippians.  Her format is near-effortless enough to be manageable, but structured enough to require self-imposed commitment and, in my case, dependency on the Holy Spirit to see it through and reap the rich harvest sure to be waiting for me. Basically we read 1 chapter a week, and post reflections, take-aways, aha moments, etc. on Mondays.
Well, today's Monday, so here goes.  I read through Phil 1 three times, I think, with varying degrees of focus.  And what sticks in my mind the most is the first part of verse 27:  
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. 
And what makes it stick in my mind is this:  What the heck does this mean exactly?
When I posted the verse on Facebook, the first response I got was, "Well, there goes happy hour this Friday."  But is this what Paul means? Is this an admonishment to straighten up, fly right, and remove any appearance of questionable behavior or even fun from my life?  Surely not, though this is exactly what the Enemy would have us believe. But I realize that in my own mind I twist Paul's words to mean, "Conduct yourself in a manner that appears unimpeachable, as if you have it all together, that follows all the rules, that draws no finger-pointing, that is holier than thou, that is pleases others, nay, that pleases everybody..." and I am forced once again to recognize that even as a believing Christian I still succumb to the ever-present subconscious nagging that it's all about works and appearances.
If I am to respond to Paul's exhortation, I must understand what the "gospel of Christ" is, and what it is not.   At the risk of trivializing the dilemma, I feel somewhat like Charlie Brown when he cries out in frustration...

This is what I know about the gospel (literally "Good News") of Christ:  it is simple and complicated;  it is good, not bad; it is about God's grace, not my control; it is about my heart more so than my behavior; it is about my intimacy with Jesus more so than my going to church; it means I am saved by Jesus' sacrifice, not my own striving; it means I don't have to know all the answers before I can talk about it; it means that the Holy Spirit will guide me into understanding so that I may "conduct [myself] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ"...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Who knits socks in Florida?

Granted, here in Florida we wear flip flops all year long. Granted, one can succumb to the allure of hand-dyed fingering weight merino without venturing into the realm of dpns or magic loop - work it up into a shawl perhaps.  Granted, back when I read Debbie Macomber's A Good Yarn I scratched my head and thought, "Who knits socks?"  But as I re-entered the knitting world several years ago and quickly rose to the ranks of the obsessed (and employed, mind you - not all obsessions are dangerous) I became aware of the pervading buzz about sock knitting, and I figured there must be sound reason behind it.

In May 2011 I cast on my first pair
the first of which I finished (on a different beach) 3 months later.
Its mate was a long time coming, the victim not only of second sock syndrome but of a pattern so boring it was difficult to work up much enthusiasm for it.  Conquering both of these major obstacles, however, I had a complete pair by August 2012.

Though this was my first pair started, it was not my first pair finished.  In the lengthy interim I participated in a  KAL which introduced me not only to Plymouth Happy Feet (my very first purchase at The [Itty Bitty] Knitty Gritty) and Irish Girlie Knits, but also to Honey Badger, the hilarious-but-perhaps-too-vulgar-for-some You Tube video. (Not going to link it here, go look it up yourself.  Honey Badger don't care.)
I also learned that not all US 1 needles are the same size - Honey Badger may not care about that, but you and I do, trust me!  This pair came much faster - just over one month start to finish.

With a bold sense of now-I-know-how-to-knit-socks and a hunger to learn different techniques, I volunteered for a test knit soon after.  Wheat Rib by Lindo Jo Park was my first try at toe-up on 2 circulars, which has become my preferred sock method.
More have followed:  Skew by Lana Holden for a Will Work For Yarn Swap Group project,
Apres Ski by Kate Atherley for a beginner's sock class,
Field of Flowers by Sheryl Giles for an excuse to use Malabrigo.
Still very much in progress are my Irish Coffee socks by Nicola W, featuring a "whipped cream" cuff and belly-warming leg.

The mis-crossed cable early on in the cuff is not what has caused my delay, but it did prompt me to change the project name to "Amish Coffee."

So who knits socks in Florida?  I do.  And I'm itching to share techniques, tips, pitfalls, experiences with fellow enthusiasts and with those who, like I once was, are simply confounded by the whole idea.  Join me at The Knitty Gritty for a free-of-charge, twice-monthly get-together.  Bring your own socks-in-progress, or cast-on the socks-of-the-month project (this month it's yoga socks).  Learn a new technique, or get help for a sock-gone-awry.  Fondle my sock yarn, I'll fondle yours.  This month we'll meet Monday, May 20 from 6-8 pm, and/or Tuesday, May 21 from 11am-1pm.  In ensuing months we'll stagger the meetings every other week or thereabouts.  Become a regular, or pop in now and then.  I'll be there to knit, chat, teach, help, laugh. Hope to see you there!