Combo 12 Scarf

Yarn traveling from a cricket loom to a warping peg in the distance. The yarn is arranged in a rainbow of colors.

The more I work with yarn, the more I appreciate techniques that let the yarn do the talking. Sure, cables and lace are beautiful, but you loose that detail when you’re working with many indie dyed yarns. I bring this up because it’s one of the reasons that I have learned to love weaving – the finished product is something that let’s the yarn speak for itself.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of becoming a brand ambassador Wonderland Yarns, a yarn dyer that’s just a little further than “over the river” from where we live. Honestly, I think the only disappointment I’ve ever had with Wonderland Yarns occurred during my first serious year of knitting when I was in Brattleboro and learned that they weren’t open to the public. Just under two years later, I would be enthusiastically maintaining displays at Webs Yarn Store in Northampton and gushing about the softness and colors over the phone as a customer service rep (to this day, I still miss my job and all the people I worked with!).

Cut and treaded strands of yarn on a loom.

The point of this, is really just to say, it is incredibly difficult to commit to a project when you love all the yarn and all the colors. As this is not a paid position (but they did send beautiful yarn!), I will take the time to shamelessly admit that if I could have one of everything I would (seriously, thank you to the coordinator for her patience during our emails). After a lot of hemming and hawing, I committed to Combo 12 and warped my cricket loom.

If you like the way this looks and would like to weave one yourself, I used an 8 dent reed and positioned the colors so that there are 8 strands of each (4 when you’re warping) with Red taking center stage in the middle for a total of 16 strands (8 when you’re warping). From there “simply” measure out how long you would like your scarf and add ~16inches for waste yarn (this is not a scientific number by any means).

For the most part, I wove the scarf with the main color (little bat) and not with the colors from the mini skeins (land of wonders). That being said, the beautiful thing about weaving is that there are no hard and fast rules! One combo pack is enough yarn for two scarves, or in my case a scarf and an eventual brioche hat.

I enjoyed weaving with the Mad Hatter yarn that comes in combo 12’s pack. It bloomed nicely when blocked and has just the tiniest amount of fuzz across it’s soft surface. Mum’s the word on whether or not everyone is getting a Wonderland Yarn scarf for the holidays this year.

A rainbow woven scarf laying gently crossed on green grass.

Crafting Breaks

Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you don’t feel motivated. Sometimes you’re waiting on supplies. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Whatever the reason(s) you have for not crafting are valid reasons and you shouldn’t feel bad about taking a break.

I’m someone who brings her knitting everywhere, last week I left the house multiple times without packing my knitting. I have fabric that I’m excited about, I didn’t turn my sewing machine on once. I warped my loom with some beautiful yarn, wove a handful of rows and then put it down. None of these things mean that I’m giving up making, they just mean that I needed some time away.

When your craft becomes part of your identity, it’s hard to step away. It’s also hard not to feel guilty about stepping away. This past week, I’ve taken more walks and snuggled my dog instead of knitting during a movie. I enjoyed the space created by not having my ironing board out.

When my last sewing class met I made a comment that I thought I was sewing the dress pattern at the wrong time. That my pandemic brain needed something different. Isn’t it funny, that we can be kind and supportive for other people and then struggle to be just as kind to ourselves? This week I was kind to myself by not knitting. By not sewing. By not weaving. I’ve allowed myself to be tired and uninspired instead of forcing myself to knit one more row.

This happens to me from time to time and I usually end up excited about something when my break is over. If you’re in a crafting rut or lull, be kind to yourself. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a maker, it just means that you’ve been making hard!

On deciding to crank out a few hand-made gifts after all

An in progress photo of a baby sweater with both sleeves set aside on stitch markers. The body of the sweater is just about ready to be bound off.
Harvest, knit in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Pure held double

A couple weeks ago, my sister announced that she was pregnant with her first child. As I eagerly await the gender reveal*, and hope that they don’t change their mind on learning the sex of the baby, I realized there was no reason I couldn’t cast something on my needles to add to their Christmas gift. They’re excited, I’m excited, I have some yarn that looks like a rain forest, new born sweaters don’t take very long…. so it looks like I’m taking back what I said about not knitting for anyone. (Remember that post I wrote about it’s ok to change your mind?)

Naturally, as soon as I said that the flood gates opened and I started to think about whether or not there was anyone else I should be knitting for for the Holiday season. I’ve had my loomed warped for a month or so with a table runner I’ve been working on for my mom, it now has an end of December deadline on it. I found this interesting/simple sewing pattern for handmade hand warmers and have a handful of friends that spend their time ice fishing or generally suffer from cold hands. In other words, I made it less than a week before caving and creating a spreadsheet of projects to complete before the end of the holiday season.

I can’t help it! The desire to keep people warm is in my DNA, as is the desire to create. So on that note, I have some last minute gifts to crank out. Here’s to my sanity!

Completed Harvest with matching Barely hat

*I’ve read a few articles discussing how gender reveal parties are inconsiderate to future transgender children. I will love this baby no matter what, but will also enthusiastically knit little tutus if it’s a baby girl (unless she’s anything like me, then she’ll stop wearing them in favor of outfits more equip for climbing trees). I can’t help it, they’re so stinking cute. To be fair, I would also knit them for a little boy, without judgement, if he wanted them.

On the inclusivity of the knitting community

There has been a lot of discussion within the knitting community around inclusivity, as in is the community inclusive enough? The easy argument is no because knitting is an expensive hobby and you need to have time to commit to it. To this, I would like to point out that when working seven days a week and struggling to make ends meet I was able to maintain my identity as a knitter. Though difficult, I maintained my identity by utilizing the library when I didn’t have internet at home or printer paper to print out my patterns. I waited patiently for yarn to go on sale and then stuck to a strict budget when it did. I reached out to yarn companies to see if I could knit samples for them in exchange for yarn. I even considered buying old sweaters from goodwill so that I could repurpose them, but could never find something I was willing to rip out. The thing about knitting is that if you want to do it the resources are there for you, you just have to let go of your desires to knit with high-end yarn.

With the easy argument out of the way, it’s time to take a moment to look at the harder ones. Are we being supportive of all of our designers? Are garments being photographed for patterns using all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, etc? Are we welcoming to different viewpoints within our forms or our knit nights? These questions are harder to answer. Am I less likely to buy a pattern based on the pattern’s name? No. Am I less likely to buy a pattern based on the designer’s name? No. Am I less likely to buy a pattern being shown on a male model? No. A plus-size model? No. A model that is a different race than me? No. Does this mean that the community as a whole as the same mentality as I do? No.

This last question is one that I really struggle with. I, as an individual, respect differences in others and am willing to take the time to learn and understand how I can be better. Having worked in alternative school settings where my students come from various backgrounds, I know that I’m not perfect. The best I can do is strive to be better, strive to be more patient and strive to understand. People are different and we must move beyond tolerance towards respect.

These conversations started several months ago, one of the reasons I didn’t join in right away is a lack of platform. At the time, I wasn’t trying to actively write a blog and I didn’t feel like my main social media platform (Instagram) was the right place to do it. One of the reasons is that I didn’t know what to say and how to say it. I was torn between my optimism that the community was inclusive and the experiences that were being shared around me.

The main reason, unfortunately, was pointed out to me at a conference last week: People often say we don’t do something when they mean they don’t do something. And there is was, the shameful truth staring me in the face. I had assumed that everyone within the community was trying to be better because I was. I didn’t feel the need to speak up because I assumed that everyone wanted to be more inclusive, because I do. And in my wrongness, I will do better. And in my wrongness, I will speak out. And in my wrongness, my assumptions, my optimism I will remember how it feels to be invited and welcomed to the table; not because you weren’t allowed to be there in the first place but because you are a valued member of the community.

I value the knitting community for its potential to be inclusive. For its potential to be a safe and welcoming space. But I also value its potential to challenge me to do better, both in my craft and in my person. In addition to being a safe space, the knitting community needs to be a safe space to feel uncomfortable. A place to hear different viewpoints so that we can communicate and better everyone at the table. And as I listen to the news reports on yet another mass shooting, I am reminded of the importance of community. The importance of being connected to those around you even if you are not connected by blood.

Over the last few years, I’ve been reading the Witchland Series by Susan Dennard. Dennard does a wonderful job creating and immersing her readers into a land that she has created. Her characters are diverse, multifaceted, and complex — and she has a lot of them. Each has their own story, their own personality, and their own perspective. Dennard has woven in “isms” that we see in our everyday lives to show us how they affect the people within her stories. She has spun tales of conflict and emotion so powerful I find myself on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book.

I bring up this book series not because it is good, although it is, but because the main theme of the book is the idea of threads. Everyone has threads. They react to stimuli around them, changing color with various emotions. They connect people, creating thread families and heart threads. But most importantly, they are all woven together into the same tapestry of life. As knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, etc, etc, we should resonate with this. As crafters, we of all people should understand that people are beautiful because of their “mistakes”, isn’t that why we call them design elements? As crafters, we of all people should resonate with the idea that everyone is connected by threads that are woven into a larger project, after all even the most complicated sweaters are created one stitch at a time.

And as I listen to the news cover yet another mass shooting, another family struggling to make ends meet, another person seeking their thread family, and everyone seeking healing, all I can think of is my optimism for what my knitting community could be. What I want it to be. What I hope we will continue to work towards.