Friday, July 29, 2011

On Learning to Knit...

I've had so many comments and e-mails about learning to knit; here's the deal. 

I learned to knit from my Dad.  My Mom doesn't knit and, as far as I know, has never had any interest in learning.  Dad was the youngest of eight children and his older sisters taught him.  He taught me.  I did a few very simple pieces as a child.  A stocking cap, a pair of slippers, nothing too special.  Soon, I lost interest.

In my mid-twenties, I picked it up again, for a few slightly more complex pieces.  I really had no patience with trying to figure out what to do if things went wrong... as in: when I made a mistake.   And, doing the finishing work was just no fun to me... Very soon, I stopped knitting again.

Thirty years later with news of a grandchild on the way, I went to the local Wal Mart and bought the little packet "I Taught Myself to Knit."  Then, I ended up in Hobby Lobby buying a book with baby patterns (plus some reference instructions in it) and enough yarn to create what would become the MAMMOTH baby blanket, in the colors of sock monkeys (Little Man's nursery theme). 

It might have been all over again, after I finished that blanket... had I not run into Laura at rug hooking, who was knitting this most exquisite wool! Stuff like I had only imagined!! She told me about  Rose Path Weaving in Lindale.   I trotted right up there with my same little pattern book to find myself yarn for... this time, a sweater for Little Man...

Well, the rest is history. I've been addicted to the colors, the textures, the fibres, the patterns, the sheer beauty... ever since. 

I'm not afraid of making mistakes anymore.  Life has taught me that I have what it takes to trace them back and, most times, the ability to make it right.  There are a few things along the way you just have to frog (give up and tear it out) and start over.  As long as you have breath, you can start over.

 All photos are taken at Rose Path Weaving in Lindale.  Regina, center right, is the owner.  This is a wonderful group of ladies.

If you are 'book learner' like myself, there are tons of books available.  And, online  along with many, many others have wonderful video tutorials on anything you need to know.  But, probably the very best place in the world to learn is at your Local Yarn Store (referred to among knitters as:  LYS).  I would imagine that all of them have classes. 

There are always people showing up to knit in the yarn stores. Just go sit at the table with them, never would anyone who knits not be willing to share her knowledge.  (Okay, they say you should never say never, but I'm going out on a limb here anyway.  I believe all knitters are willing to pass it on.)

Strangely, I consider knitting a woman's art, passed from generation to generation, though I was taught by a man.  There is something amazingly timeless about the way women, who sit around the knitting table, share each others' lives.  Today, I listened to one of the most touching stories I have ever heard.  A story of how, one stitch at a time, K. had knit her life back together after losing her husband to cancer... one year ago last week. 

Knitting's therapeutic value cannot be overstated.  It is a salve for my soul.. and others as well.

Knitting can be as simple as swaying to the music with your high school sweetheart... or as intense and precise as the tango with a stranger. 

Your choice:  Simple and repetitive or intense and focused. 

Either way, it is a beautiful dance.

Thank you, to those of you who asked, for giving me reason to ramble on about one of my joys/therapies.  I hope just one of you is inspired to pick up the needles. 

If you do, please remember, knitting is like anything else... you don't start out with a PhD.  ;)   Be gentle with yourself. 

blessings ~ tanna

Monday, July 25, 2011

Knitting Noro and Other Plans...

The frenzy of shawl knitting continues.  I made three trips to Rose Path last week for yarns to satisfy my itch for shawl production.  This is a Noro Silk Garden yarn #325, worked in a double strand for the color variation,  with a Manos del Uruguay silk/merino blend for the edging/ruffle in color #3043.

The pattern is a modified version of Noro's Sursa shawl.  I was a little disappointed my alterations on the ruffle in that, the gauge was so small, the ruffle was not as gathered as I would have preferred.  It would have looked better worked with a double strand, like the body of the shawl.  I don't dislike it enough to take it out and do again.  

This is my second version of the Sursa and, if I enjoy it half as much as I have the first (which I can say for sure I still like the colorways best), it will be a good investment of time (two afternoons) and yarn.

This is the beginnings of another shawl in Noro Shirakaba color #3. Shirakaba is a silk  42%, cotton  40% and 18% lambs wool combination.  It is working up as light as air!   More to be revealed.

Why the shawl frenzy?  Well...
  1. It's HOT! Too hot to play outside.  ;)
  2. I'm trying to lose a few pounds, knitting keeps me busy in a gentle way that soothes me.
  3. We are taking a trip soon... to places that require your shoulders be covered.
  4. When its this hot and I go into an air conditioned building, I NEED them!
  5. I love them.

So, the above project makes shawl number three in the past few weeks.  And, I've been to the yarn store three times (purchases each time) over the past week.  Then... we go to Dallas Saturday to visit with Evan's family.  There is a sale going on at the Woolie Ewe.  Evan's sister needed a project for an upcoming trip.  His mom was looking for a pattern for an afghan.  I tell them I am full up on yarn and projects, but I'm happy to tag along  (I never turn down a chance to see skeins of beauty).  You can see where this is going...

Yep, I have more yarn and maybe the most ambitious project I've attempted to date.  I'll know more about that as I get into it.  I am sooooo enchanted by this pattern and yarn.  It just blew me away!  The pattern is Kaw Valley Wrap and the yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca silk.  My senses were on overload.  I do hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.  Best case scenario:  one day you will see a beautiful wrap in place of these balls of yarn!  Wish me luck! 

Hope you are all staying cool and finding joy in each day.

Blessings ~ Tanna

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Simple Summer Knit, Survivor Succulent and Another Stocking...

A couple of nights ago, I finished this very simple summery shawl.  It is made of a rayon boucle by Fiesta in the colorway Safari.  I love the coppery colors and misty blue. 

It is a simple garter stitch with increases on every row until you run out of yarn (with enough to bind off).  Just cast on 40 and take off!  Knitting every row is mindless (and cheap) therapy.  LOL.  I used a size 15 circular needle.

I really like the drapiness (is that a word?) of this and the versatility.  It can be worn as a shawl or a scarf.  And, it is cool.

We passed 21 days of temperatures over 100 yesterday and the forecast looks like we will be making it at least 28 days.  This little rescue succulent from last year is hanging in there along with the rest of us!

I have started another Christmas in July stocking.  Anybody think I am trying to hypnotize myself into believing it it cooler than it is?  You might be right! 

Stay cool.  If you are outside in this heat, be sure to drink plenty of fluids! 

blessings ~ tanna

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finished Snowflake Stocking and Cool Thoughts...

I finished the Ann Norling Snowflake Stocking by Maurya McBride Wednesday night.  Amanda, it is 6 1/2 x 19 inches and a nice soft, squishy 100% wool knit.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to block it that the whole house did not end up smelling like a herd of wet sheep (for non-knitters, when you finish a project, you wet it and then shape it to dry in a process called blocking)!  I have to admit, that the first time I wet a wool project and it reeked of sheep, I was most disturbed.  LOL!

This yarn is a Nature Spun worsted weight.  Ash is the colorway and it says it is permanently moth proofed!  Maybe the moth proofing process takes some of the sheepy smell out!!  Anyway, I like whatever made it smell less sheepy when wet. 

I picked up more supplies (another skein of Ash plus a Pomegranite and Limestone) for another one or two yesterday.  =)  A quick and fun knit.

The temperatures continue to be brutal.  We are on a very long string of days where the temps are above 100 degrees; June broke our records.  Fortunately, we were blessed with a bit of rain last night... though that led to a power outage until 2:30 in the morning.  I do love having electricity!

We made it a whole week without having to call our speed-dial buddies, Maddox Air Conditioning, for one of The Old Girls.  But, our luck ran out yesterday.  I should own stock in capacitors.  LOL!  I am ready for this heat to break just a little. 

So, I'm thinking cool thoughts and sending out wishes for a cool, beautiful weekend to all.

I'm adding this to Sneak Peek Fridays at the other side of me.

at  Ann's On Sutton Place

and Friday Favorites At Whistle Stop Cafe.
Blessings ~ tanna

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Little Love, My Little Man

E-mails with photos attached of my Little Man ALWAYS make my day.  Thank you, dear daughter.  Our Little Man turned two years old last week.  In some ways it hardly seems like two years could have passed... In other ways it has been a long time, with them so far away...

He sports a big boy haircut these days.... but still likes that thumb.

And, there is simply no better sound in the world than his laugh... Makes everything right in the world... for just that precious moment...

He has his Noni's heart of hearts...

I love that he is still enjoying his Retro Rocket  (his Momma had to push, pull, help him when he first received it his First Christmas).  Now, he can launch that baby himself!  And, man oh, man, can he launch it!  Noni's Little Man is growing up so fast.

I love you, Little Man.  To the moon and back.  Bigger than the sky. 

Thank you, Amanda.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christmas in July

Along the lines of trying to "think cool," I've started a Christmas Stocking with the ladies at Rose Path, our LYS (local  yarn store).  They are having a knit-a-long and I couldn't resist.  Check out their blog at Shush!  I'm Counting.

I went with a non-traditional color... and am really enjoying it so far. 

As a matter of fact, it seems I'm stuck on this color scheme right now.  I started this Weekend Retreat Cardi while at Amanda's and finished it very shortly after returning home.

This is a free pattern on and the yarn is their recycled cotton.  I LOVE the feel and the fit of this pattern and yarn.  Perfect.  The color is Seashells and the pattern is Weekend Retreat Cardi #81016AD. 

This was a super easy, super fast, super satisfying knit!  I would highly recommend it.  It is fighting its way to King of the Mountain for Favorite Thing Ever Knitted.  LOL!

Think cool my friends!  blessings ~ tanna

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heat Waves, Squirrel Shades and Birthday Wishes...

It has been triple digiting for awhile now.  This was actually at 106 when I got in the car at the grocery store.  Cooled down to a breezy 104 after I had been driving a few minutes.  I love summer, but this is too much... even for me. 

This little guy is flattened out in the shade hoping to cool off a bit. 

I've been chasing the air conditioner repair guys around for the past couple of weeks.  We are only 18 days into summer and I have written checks for over $8K in repairs and replacement of one unit (that's one of the downsides of collecting properties... instead of having one A/C to maintain, we have 21).

Did you mention A/C?  Where do you think I could find some?

Today my most precious Little Man is two years old.  I am so missing him.  Skype is just a sad second to being able to scoop  him up and squeeze him close!  

Your Noni loves you bigger than the sky-- to the moon and back!  Happy Birthday, Little Man!!  XOXOXOXOXO

Blessings and wishes for cool breezes to all ~ Tanna

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Restoring Vintage Apartment Buildings

If you live in an historic neighborhood, you know the buildings I'm talking about.  The big old rental properties... that the investors just let run down.  They, the investors, seem to take and take and never give back.  They used to be one of my pet peeves, being a homeowner in an historic neighborhood myself.   And, because I believe with all my heart if you are going to gripe about something, you should be willing to do something about the problem.  Thus began my collection of The Old Girls.  Now, I am "they."

Some of you may remember that before I left to go greet my new grandson, I was working on a unit in one of our favorite Old Girls, a very large fourplex built in the early 30s.  This was the last unit that had been continuously occupied by the tenant who was living there when we bought the place (June of 2006).   He moved out late this spring and these are the "afters."

This is a tired and sad "before" view of the same living room.

Leo Bolom's company does a magnificent job of refinishing the original hardwood floors and repairing any defects (two large pieces of plywood were discovered in each of the two bedrooms; bet you won't be able to tell where the repairs were done when you see the bedroom).   This is the way the floors were meant to look!!  Love 'em!!

A view from the dining room back to the living room.  I have an original chandelier from one of the other units and it is currently being rewired.  I will soon return it to this spot.

From the living room back into the dining room.  Aren't these Old Girls elegant? 

Same view dining room:  before.

Bedroom:  after.  Can you spot the defect in the hardwood?    I'm bettin' not.

Bedroom:  before.

Bathroom:  after.  Hours and hours spent with single-edged razor scraping up the linoleum adhesive.  I love the old tiles.  Love 'em.

Bathroom:  before.  You can't even see how disgusting the tub and cabinet was in the photo.   The tub was refinished.  Not something I usually do, but it had already been done once and was in terrible shape.  New sink.  New toilet.  Beadboard.  Better.  Still within reason cost-wise.

And, that's all for today.  I am happy to know that we have moved one step closer to restoring another Old Girl to her original beauty and elegance. 

Blessings to all ~ Tanna
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Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.