Lovely Yarn Escapes

My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Scrappy Shawl and "Queenie"

      I'm trying to sort out my knitting so I have only 3 projects going.  I'm incorrigible when it comes to starting projects!  But I've got it down to the Scrappy Shawl, the Boiled Fingerless Gloves I'm still working on for my son, and an Owl.  Sometimes I'm a slow poke and I don't get things done as fast as I'd like but in a few weeks, I'll be getting a very special project National Parks Tempestry Kit for two years.  I want to finish some of my projects to clear the way to work on this.

A Tempestry shows the temperature day by day for a particular year.

When set side by side yearly temperature differences can be seen. If you do several decades to a hundred years apart you are going to see Climate Change!

The National Parks Tempestry Project is having volunteers pick a National Park and do 2 Tempestries.  One is 2016, the centennial of the National Parks and an earlier date (which should be the founding of your park but mine was started in 2016, so we're using weather data from the nearest town in 1916).

Katahdin Rock Lauren Danilek

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Northern Maine

     I choose Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a vast expanse of land of 87,563 acres, that my son while in college canoed and camped in the area.  The land was donated for a National Park, fought against by some locals and the Maine Governor.  Then Obama created a monument to preserve the land.  It was on the list to be shrunk down last year but survived that assault.  For the Big park that could, I'll knit and hopefully get there one day to see it.  I can still see the mama Moose and calf my son described, a wild area preserved is such a gift.  And for locals concerned about losing trees for industry an NPR report says that for every dollar spent on a National Monuments $4 are reaped in the local towns from tourism. (A NOTE: If interested in a National Tempestry Kit you can see if a local group that supports your National Park will fund the project, but then they will keep the Tempestry, mine is to be gifted to my son.)

For more info. on Tempestries:
The Tempestry Project (A FB Group, more info.)
Ravelry Resistance Knitters a group on Craftivist Projects

     I'm still reading on the American Revolution and listening to several books.  I try to keep up to the same battle in each book, switching around to keep them all going on a similar topic.  This way I get diverse viewpoints and I get the details down into my head more.  I'm up to the Battle of Saratoga, October 1777 and I've covered The Battles of Trenton and Princeton about 4 times and each time is a bit different with different details.  I grew up in Princeton, NJ and for college went to Saratoga, NY, and settled where old Saratoga was after college.  I was living at the foot of a hill with the Saratoga Battle Monument on it.  It was my daily walk up the high hill to it and Benedict Arnold's empty niche faces away from you as you walk up to it, the other three spaces on each side are filled with a statue of a general who helped win the Saratoga Battle.

     I started reading "Queenie" a book I got through Book of the Month club which gets books ahead of publication (it comes out March 19th and it's supposed to be a big hit for this year).  A new writer's voice and unique writing, I'm looking forward to this (I found I miss disappearing into a book, the history of the Revolutionary war to me is riveting, but not exactly a calm let's-disappear-into-a-book experience).  Reading the front page excerpt that was given to us by BOTM I had to know what in the world was happening?  I also liked the writing style.  To me the prose is everything.  At this point all I know it's about a 25 yr. old British Jamaican woman straddling two worlds as a journalist and young black woman.  But I think I'm going to like it.  Goodreads: "Queenie"

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Yarns: Stuffed Animals for Children of Asylum Seekers and "Washington: A Life"


     I took the leap and created a new group on Ravelry called: "Resistance Knitters".  It is a place to compile Craftivist projects already existing and to brainstorm for new ideas of Craftivism to meet a myriad of causes.  I ask you to come on by and introduce yourself and tell us what is your most pressing cause(s) on your heart right now.  Do you have ideas of Craftism projects to meet this need or shall we brainstorm together to find solutions?  Ideas can range from charity knits to creating items that bring a needed focus to a cause (like the pink Pussyhats).

     One project we're working on is creating stuffed animals of animals and insects (like butterflies) that are threatened by the building of the Wall.  Then we want to give these cuddly creatures to children of asylum seekers waiting at the border or in asylum cities.  And we now have a connection to the founder and executive director of Sueños Sin Fronteras (Dreams Without Borders) who gives aid to asylum seekers at the border.  While they could use some cold weather items for asylum cities in the North where they also help, we decided that making stuffed animals would be an all-weather activity that can bring comfort to scared children.  Clutching an animal that is also soon to be homeless gives you a buddy that understands where you are at (when young my stuffed animals were very much alive).  Empathy from your soft friend.  If you want to join this endeavor join our new group "Resistance Knitters" on Ravelry and check out the discussion threads.  We have one thread for explaining the project in more detail and how to get a ship to address (it's a private shipping address so we ask you to PM a person), one thread for knitting patterns for animals and one for crochet.  The animals created are threatened by the Wall being built, not necessarily endangered, so a field mouse could be done.

To get an immediate idea of what is now happening at our border to threaten these creatures' habitat check out these Facebook sites: "No Border Wall""Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge" and "National Butterfly Center".   More info - The Border Wall and the Rio Grande.

The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

Pattern - Owl

     And that takes me to my knitting project.  I'm knitting these adorable owls and to make them like the above Ferruginous Pygmy Owl.  I'm using a mottled looking brown yarn in Lions Wool-Ease Thick & Quick called Barley and size #15 double pointed needles (Amazon - #15 Needles).  For a Screech Owl, I'll switch to the color Fossil.  The eyes are still something I need to work out, these owls have yellow eyes.  There are some great button eyes on photos of this owl but I want it kid friendly.  The pattern calls for needle felting and I'm not familiar with that and not sure how permanent that would be.  Playing with the idea of felt disks white and yellow (and hot gluing them) and satin stitch yarn centers.  We shall see.

      I'm still pursuing my study of the American Revolution from all angles and I love biographies.  I'm in the middle of "Valiant Ambition" by Nathanial Philbrick.  A book about Washington and Benedict Arnold.  I was reading it on Kindle and up pops a sample of the audio on the bottom.  I knew I'd be sunk if I just listened!  Yes, I caved.  The voice is marvelous.  The book itself is massively exciting and detailed in certain battles the other authors haven't matched.  So, because felt I was in need of a book to hold and read, I grabbed the Ron Chernow book I got last week from Amazon in paperback (I think it weighs 2 lbs. even in paper!) "Washington: A Life".  My excitement for the book ratcheted as soon as I read the back and several pages at the front of reviews.  I believe I'm in for an amazing read!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl Grows and "Valiant Ambition"

My Scrappy Shawl grows as it's the knit I always want to grab.  I love mixing leftover yarn and designing it in a purposefully haphazard way to make it look "scrappy".

     After finishing "1776" by David McCullough (Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and Finishing 1776) I felt like I needed to find an equally good author who writes about the American Revolutionary War in a compelling way.  I am reading several books on the subject (or listening on Audible) but they are thick tomes, filled with lots of details that I do appreciate, but I wanted a book that was fun too (how to explain to my husband yes I do need another book, on the same topic, when I have a pile of them sitting on the table).  I knew that Nathanial Philbrick has a new book out on the Victory at Yorktown: "In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown" but I wasn't at the end of this tale.  And I found his second book in his Revolutionary series: "Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution".  I will have to circle back to read his first book on "Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution", all a part of "The American Revolution Series".

     "Valiant Ambition" ended up a perfect choice.  It starts with Washington in New York and then details Benedict Arnold's heroic exploits that sometimes land in massive failure (leading his troops up the wilds of Maine to invade Canada) and sometimes positively alter the course of the war even though a failure (his battles on Lake Champlain).  No matter what Arnold is overlooked for promotion.  The book steadily will go back and forth describing four years of war for both men and how Arnold ultimately succumbs to treachery yet was at first an able general that was helping us win the war.  Often in history, Arnold has been vilified throughout his life as an evil person.  This account tries to show how and why he fell from patriot to traitor.  I'm enjoying it! (It is so tempting to get it on Audible, but while it sounded good, I mean really good, I resisted.  I do have a pile of books on this subject and Audibles and Kindles.  My only excuse is I'm really getting a good grasp of the Revolutionary War and I feel like it's the first time I'm really doing it, studying history.)

Interesting articles and talks from Nathaniel Philbrick:

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and Finishing 1776

    I'm still working on my Scrappy Bias Shawl out of  Hawthorne Fingering Yarns.  Loving the colors.  (But I ran late today and without daylight, I can't get a good shot, so recycled pics, except Jenny kitty who decided my knitting a perfect place to rest her head.)

      I'm three pages from finishing 1776 and I'm upset.  It's such a great book I want one for every year of the American Revolution!  I'm reading other revolutionary books but I feel like I've been left at a cliff hanger and in the other books I'm still plowing through the causes of the war in detail.  One new book (2016) gives a fresh new perspective "American : A Continental History, 1750-1804 " by Alan Taylor.  Instead of a neat war isolated to battlefields, he explains the entire social upheavals and changes and violence in the Colonies.  Also, he interweaves how the desire for Westward expansion plays into this and also other more far-reaching consequences of the war, a more global perspective.

      I have found I really like "Almost A Miracle", I got the book second hand used through Amazon.  But since it's a 704-page tome I decided to get it also with my Audible.  Sometimes listening to an audio I more easily digest lots of material in a short time (and knit!).  I'm just up to Lexington and Concord with that and I'm actually looking forward to going over the battles of 1776 again.  I know sounds boring but I love the details and the subtle nuances of the authors perspective (it also gives me a chance to really know the material). Goodreads Review of "Almost A Miracle"  

     One outstanding overall impression I have of "1776" as a year in the American Revolution is how much we were actually losing the war.  The smallest details lead to a victory or a save for the day and everyone is evacuated.  We were outnumbered by a trained army of career soldiers.  But the heart and purpose seem to be a large factor in our winning.  I never knew it was that bad a situation only having vague ideas that some battles were lost.  I grew up in Princeton, NJ where a victorious battle took place and spent almost 20 years in the Saratoga, NY area, also an area of a notable victory.  The reality was grim and indeed it was almost a miracle we actually won.  I need so much to find a book on the Battle of Princeton because "1776" has left me right in the middle of my home state and we're just starting to win!

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Weekend New and Hot Patterns Reveal


     Don't you love to browse Ravelry for the new patterns or what's Hot Right Now?  Often new patterns are on sale or free.  I fill my saved patterns by "Favoriting" them where I have every conceivable category, including "Spring Shawls" or "Jonathan Socks" (my son).  Often when I need a pattern I head for my favorite patterns for a quick find among collected patterns.  I like to dream and seeing all the different patterns sparks creativity, even if I am not humanly capable of getting all those patterns done.  So come dream with me.  These are some new patterns (a few free) and some very hot this week.

     Top this week in Ravelry's "Hot Right Now" is Something Pink, a beautiful cowl done in worsted.  "The pattern brings together panels of feather and fan lace and simple ribbing. Great for a beginner or anyone looking for a relaxing, quick and easy knit."

     For other cowls done in fingering and smaller and even more delicate try, the NEW February patterns Spun Sugar, Cream Puff, and Praline from the Confection e-book (Free till the end of February 15th).

     A beautiful shawl designed in memory of a trip to Canada and it's green landscape from Joji Locatelli is free for knitters- Odyssey Shawl.

"Odyssey is a way for me to give back to the knitting community. You can download it for free, forever, but it is not a free pattern… The making of this pattern was paid by all of you, knitters, as a community. By supporting me and my family, you are allowing me to do a job I love and I am giving that love back. And by supporting I don’t only mean ‘buying my patterns’. Support also comes from all the love you send me with your messages. I couldn’t do it without you. Therefore, because you are a member of this community, this is a pattern from me to all of you."

     And for those scraps of beautiful fingering yarn a Garter Scrappy Blanket, new this February and forever Free!

Have a Knitting Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Yarns: Scrappy Shawl and "1776"

     My Scrappy Bias Shawl calls to me often with its beautiful colors.  A simple rhythmic knit done in various Hawthorne Fingering Yarns.  I raided a bit of a beautiful blue and grey yarn intended for the West Bluff Shawl I have set aside, but I couldn't resist, just a bit.  I'm also eying the purple from that shawl.  Temptation, but I'm getting a pretty result and I can order more if I come up short for the West Bluff.

     I'm still in the grip of reading "1776" by David McCullough.  I even take the risk of taking it into the bath with me at night (it's survived, so far).  For a history book, this is exciting!   Of course, it probably helps that these details of battles and personalities are new to me.  I've come through Boston which the British held during 1775 (from originally coming in 1768) and I was thrilled at Knox's adventures that winter at age 25 to plan and then go get the cannons (all 119,900 pounds of them) from Ticonderoga and get them all down to Albany (through Old Saratoga where I used to live) and over the Berkshire Mountains.  The heavy snow and deep cold helped but Knox had to wheedle and plead to get his caravan to go through those mountains.  Boston is evacuated of the British after a bombardment from the cannons and because a mighty storm came the evening the British was going to try and attack Dorchester Heights where the cannon were.  The British were unable to sail their ships against the wind and by morning Howe changed his mind and ordered an evacuation.

Note - Knox actually used Horses, details in this blog - No Ox for Knox?

     How the vagarities of weather play in the Revolutionary War is interesting.  One almost wonders if God is sending messages (the Colonist's wondered).  In "1776' a large mid-portion of the book is devoted to the fortifying of New York City by George Washington's forces, their defeat on Long Island and a heroic overnight evacuation of all troops from Long Island.  Weather plays a very dramatic part.  The very night that Washington is warned that the British will attack at any moment a huge black cloud comes in and hovers over the city.  People describe it as swirling in place.  Never has the city seen a storm of that magnatude.  One Colonist wonders are there magnetic powers pulling from all the arms in the city ( I haven't a clue if this is possible).  But the lightning is tremendous, arcing for 3 hours over the city, hitting often and a whole group of officers is electrocuted at once.  By morning, the sky is perfectly blue.  The British started their attack.

Details - American Minute 
permission by

     When Washington is trying to silently evacuate ever soldier out of Long Island, practically under the Britsh armies' noses during the night by every boat they could find, he runs out of time. The sun is about to come up, a good portion of the troops haven't crossed over the water and a thick fog descends. One where you couldn't see 6 ft. in front of you.  One person during that time said he thought he saw Washington waiting at the wharf stairs for all to leave (he wasn't sure).  Everyone got out, the heavy fog lifted an hour later, but was never on the New York side.  Strange but also marvelous.

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