Agujas

The Art of Knitting

College, a President and Needlepoint

During the Winter break, my son and I went to visit colleges. It was sort of a Mother-Son trip. We hung out, talked, tried new restaurants, and toured the campus. It was nice having that one-on-one time with my 17-year old. Soon enough he will be gone from home and I cherish these moments together.

While visiting the campus of Texas A&M University, we stopped at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. A long time ago, when I worked on the Hill, I came within a few yards of then President Bush (the elder, not “W”). Visiting the museum gave me a deeper appreciation of him. The museum chronicles his time in the service, how he was married with a baby during college, and his rise in politics. Coincidentally, while we were visiting the museum, he was hospitalized in Houston; and more recently, he and Barbara Bush celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary! Regardless of your politics, that is impressive. He even tweeted about this milestone – so sweet!

As interesting as all the artifacts and exhibits of his life were, my attention was diverted by several yarn-related installations. Much to my son’s chagrin, I spent a considerable amount of time admiring and photographing these adorable yarn houses and an amazing Noah’s Ark and Nativity Scene done in needlepoint. They were stitched by the Saintly Stitchers from Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. The Nativity Scene was presented to the President and Mrs. Bush in 1989, and the Noah’s Ark was presented to them in 1991 along with needlepoint ornaments for the White House Christmas tree.

I highly recommend clicking on any photo below to view larger images. That way you can see the detail of the needlepoint. So much care went into each figure. All in all, it was a wonderful trip with my boy.

A Good Year

Now at the cusp of a new year, I started reflecting on this past one and am glad to say that it was a good one. Our family is healthy and happy, a little older, maybe a little worse for wear, but still going strong. My husband realized a personal goal of making a pilgrimage walked by thousands before him. Our sons started their senior years in high school and are anxiously awaiting to hear from their chosen colleges. I received a surprise promotion earlier this year. My mom, who is usually full of vigor at 72, is starting to feel her age a bit and is fighting it the whole way. One of my brothers was elected to the school board of my hometown. We had our share of troubles, some minor, others not, but found our way through them and learned in the process. There are still some scars but they are healing. There are so many other reasons, large and small, for which to be thankful – hot summer days, shared meals with friends, a good book, down time, birthday celebrations, a rewarding job, a good hair day, and soft yarn.

Speaking of yarn, 2014 was also a good knitting year. My goal was to create from my stash, which has continued to grow. I accomplished this with one exception, the hat for my niece because she was very specific about wanting a neutral color. In total, I knit 10 items in 2014. They were all small projects for a couple of reasons: (1) I was trying to use up my stash especially where I had only one or two skeins of the same yarn/dye lot; and (2) With my work schedule, it takes me too long to complete larger projects and I wanted to show progress every month. So here are my 2014 FOs.

Another highlight in 2014 was discovering new yarn stores. One was discovered during a trip to Colombia – and what a glorious find that was! We came across two other shops during a trip to the Texas hill country. Click on any image to view on a larger screen.

(Stay tuned for another recent discovery in an upcoming post.)

In 2014, I also enjoyed the fabulous Kid ‘N Ewe Fiber Festival, had a fabulous Girl’s Weekend in the Texas hill country with my mom and aunt, and experienced Yarn Terrors when I found moths in my stash! And lastly, I enjoyed having my niece become a part of our family while attending college. All in all, 2014 was a great year.

Wishing everyone an amazing new year in 2015.

In the Family

Everyone tells me that my niece, Victoria, looks like me. It makes me feel very proud especially since I do not have a girl of my own. So it brought me immense pleasure when I discovered that my niece likes to knit! She knit a scarf sometime in her teens. My brother sent me pictures of her with her needles. This first semester in college, she decided to learn how to crochet. She asked me if I could take her to buy some yarn and a crochet hook so that she could try to crochet a stuffed animal for a charity auction at her college. Of course, there was no need to go to the store, we just dug into my stash! She found a pattern and crochet instructions on YouTube. Twenty-four hours later, she had made this:

Amigurumi Bear by Victoria

She then remembered that my mother said she wanted a headband with a flower on it for her hair. So off Victoria went to crochet a headband just like my mom had requested.

Crochet Headband by Victoria

She would sit with me in the evenings with a hook in her hand and yarn on her lap while she meticulously worked on the headband. It will be her Christmas gift to her grandmother.

Crochet Flower by Victoria

I am so pleased that the arts of knitting and crochet still appeal to young ladies like my niece. It’s wonderful to keep the tradition in the family.

December FO: Chimborazo Textured Hat

This year, my niece Victoria started college. She is an exceptional student who finished in the top 5% of her class. (It’s my blog so I am taking editorial license to be a proud aunt). She is a scholar-athlete who competed in both individual and team sports and even broke a track record. She received scholarships and grants but it was still a stretch to cover all those college costs. I honestly don’t know how regular middle-class Americans can afford to send their kids to college. So, she is living with us and commuting to school every day. We emptied the guest room, picked up a great daybed from IKEA that pulls out into a full-size bed for guests. We also got her a desk and a really cool chair and let her decorate the rest of her “dorm” room. She has black-and-white posters of Marilyn and Audrey and the New York skyline on her walls and small LED lights around the perimeter. It has been a delight to have her in our home. We have two boys so she is the daughter we never had.

As the weather started turning a bit cold, I decided to knit her a hat. I found this pattern which she promptly approved of with the request that it be in a white or cream color. I found this off-white bulky yarn at the fiber festival. It was half off and perfect for the hat. It’s Yearling by Juniper Moon Farm, a wonderful blend of 60% merino wool and 40% cotton, and it has been discontinued. I love this yarn! I already have several skeins of it in bright colors in my stash. It’s a great yarn for knitting in Texas because the wool brings warmth but the cotton tempers it a bit.

Juniper Moon Farm Yearling Color 01

Once I got past the brim, the basket weave texture started to show itself.

Chimborazo On the Needles

I love the look of it! My niece loved it too.

Chimborazo Back View

I topped it off with a big pompom.

Chimborazo Full View

Chimborazo Side View

Now she can keep her head warm as she goes from class to class.

November FO: Regular Guy Beanie

Finally, the Fall season begins with all of its colors and cooler weather. Between work and stressing over my son’s college applications (he’s a senior), it has been busy. After not getting any knitting done in October, a warm hat seemed just right for November.

Regular Guy Beanie 1

For the yarn, I took this lovely variegated skein in Autumn colors out of my stash. I picked this up during a business trip to Nashville, Tennessee (Brentwood, actually). I made it to Bliss Yarns on the one day they are open late. It was a lovely little yarn shop with a large choice of colors and brands and a very helpful staff.

Regular Guy Beanie 2

I wanted something local so they pointed out a bin of MissBabs Hand-dyed Yarns & Fibers out of Mountain City, Tennessee. I selected Yowza – Whatta Skein, approximately 560 yards of 100% Superwash Merino. This skein was “hand-painted” in luscious colors called Rumor Has It.

Regular Guy Beanie 3

I used the Regular Guy Beanie pattern, a free Ravelry download. The one departure I made from the pattern is that I doubled up on the yarn to give the hat a cozy thickness. This one is for my middle brother who was just elected to my hometown’s school board. I am so proud of him!