Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stitch and Pitch at Rogers Centre in Toronto 2010

Here are some photos from a lovely night away July 27-28, 2010 in Toronto. It was "Stitch & Pitch" night, this year's event hosted by The Purple Purl. I had a wonderful time watching the Toronto Blue Jays play the Balitimore Orioles and sitting in the stadium with other knitters and enjoying knittalk, sharing yarn and showing off what we were working on or had completed. I enjoyed meeting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who threw the opening pitch for the game). Before leaving Toronto, my two friends and I visited three yarn shops in Toronto and then happily headed home with fresh yarn and exhilerated spirits.

1. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and myself.

This is the bar at the Rogers Centre where we stayed. It directly looks over the baseball field and you can watch the live action!

3. My friends who I travelled with to Toronto.

4. & 5. Showing off finished projects. These were done by the knitters sitting behind me.

6. & 7. The game and the action. The Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8 - 2.

8. The Purple Purl yarn shop, one of three yarn shops that we visited.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Little Black Dress Tea Cozy

This was a quick and enjoyable one-week knitting project. "Little Black Dress" is a pattern you can find in "Tea Cozies 2", edited by Emma Kennedy of Knitting magazine and published by Guild of Master Craftsman Publications in 2009 (ISBN: 978-1-86108-659-4). I am going to quickly show you the steps that I took to create this classy tea cozy.

1. I knitted the two sides of the cozy and this involved the placement of a few beads along the bottom edge.

2. I tried the tea cozy on 'for size' to ensure that it fit the teapot that it would be placed upon.

3. I knit the camelia (flower) and placed beads around the stamen.

4. I hemmed the dress.

5. I used mattress stitch to stitch the seams of the two sides of the tea cozy, again 'fitting' it as I went along.

6. I tucked in the threads.

7. I inserted the ribbon in the eyelet holes of the tea cozy and placed the camelia.

8. I made the ribbon and voila, it is done.

A couple of notes about this pattern:

1. In the instructions regarding the camelia, row 2, 4, 6, and 8 omitted to tell me that I should purl after having made the required increase.

2. In knitting the camelia, it was unclear whether to continuously knit the pedals in a row or to cut and bind off on each petal. I choose to do the latter.

3. In the final assembly instructions, it does not explain that you have to 'hem the dress.' I, however, knew to do this as I have done a doll dress that followed the same instructions around the bottom.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Knitting As Therapy

This is my first attempt at writing a real blog! :)

Truthfully, this article is mainly meant as an exercise in blogging. Nonetheless, I will tell you a bit about how knitting helps me 'cope.'


Long before actually being diagnosed with a mental illness, I enjoyed knitting. I enjoy the creative qualities inherent in knitting -- everything from choosing a pattern to picking out the yarn to the actual process of knitting (and completing) a chosen item or garment. Knitting is a practical skill that I have wanted to learn ever since watching my paternal grandmother make slippers and mittens for each and every one of her grandchildren at Christmas.

I was first introduced to knitting needles in HomeEc in Grade 10. (Remember the days when Home Economics was a "must" for every girl? No, probably not. Those days were coming to an end even as I was going through my classes!) Anyway, my first project in HomeEc was to make a scarf. I was delighted to choose some yarn and to get started. Well, as is typical for anything for a young person, this process turned out to be much more difficult and frustrating than I ever expected. I got half-way through my scarf and it was left as a UFO, complete with holes and dropped stitches.

I actually did not pick up knitting needles again until I was in my early twenties. I was invited to a crafts home party and it was there that I was re-introduced to the art and craft of knitting by a new friend I met . The hostess, Linda, was a knitter and so I told her about how I was wanting to learn to knit. And so it happened that Linda was the wonderful angel who got me going again. She explained that scarves are very boring to make and that I would do much better with knitting a sweater. I was dubious of this but I went along with her suggestion. With Linda's help, I picked out a pattern for knitting a Nordic sweater along with the required yarn. I decided the sweater would be a gift for my boyfriend, Andrew (who became my husband).

The sweater project actually did go very well, despite that I had to learn how to weave threads of different colours in the yolk and wrists. This took a great deal of patience on my part but I was determined to complete the project. Linda assisted me when necessary but for the most part, I did just fine. The nordic sweater took me close to a year to make and I was proud of how striking the gray and black patterning was against the solid bright red I had chosen for the main colour.

So, once I had an actual garment completed, I was eager to knit more. Thus began a journey of learning to make vests, baby blankets, afgans, more sweaters and yes, even scarves. Moreover, I learned that if I kept my hands busy knitting, then it was easier to keep my lips shut and not to overtalk others (as I had a habit of doing from time to time). So, already, knitting was therapy and this was long before I had even heard of the concept.

Knitting truly became therapy after I was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I learned, without anyone even telling me, that if I picked up my knitting needles during times when my mind was either racing or unfocussed and/or if I was experiencing distressing or stressful thoughts then I calmed down and was able to focus on this practical, physical activity. Later on, I understood that knitting is very much a meditative thing to do as well. Stitch by stitch, row by row, it allowed me to productively use my time. And I learned that just as prayer connects me to God, knitting connects me to my inner self.

Knitting is not only a calming activity, it is stimulating as well. When I pick out brightly-coloured yarn for a desired project, then this 'picks up my spirits.' When I find a pattern that excites me, then I know that I have further purpose in my life. When I complete a knitted item for a loved one, I know that I have done something that is pleasing to God.

I recognize that there are many different therapies for everyone, of which knitting is only one. However, knitting is my therapy and for that reason, I more and more am to be found with a knitting bag containing my newest project no matter where I am at, be it a guild meeting or a concert or visiting with friends. I find people are very accepting of this and are getting used to my knitting bag as part of my persona. This is good as I long ago told people that I expected to be a "bag lady" one day and here I am!

I wish you well with your knitting and I hope it is therapeutic for you in some way too! Please feel free to share your experiences if you wish.