Friday, April 29, 2011

cast away

When you produce a raw product like wool, you see it differently. It goes from being a thing of yarn to a thing of sheep. I used to see wool in a clump and imagine the work of washing, carding, and spinning my own yarn to knit into fabulous creations. Kind of how someone who covets a high-end sports car would look at frame being assembled in the factory and imagine someday waxing it in his garage. Two people looking at effort with joy of ownership. That is how I used to see wool.

But now I see wool and I see sheep. I see breeds, and hay, and footrot, and lambing. I see the joys and frustrations of the animal and while it has certainly not taken away any love of yarn and knitting: it has certainly given me less time to do so. Kind of like if that guy waxing his sports car had to learn how to take apart the entire Porsche and put it back together again before he could drive it. He'll still imagine that wax in his hands and a beautiful vehicle taking hair pin turns, but he'll probably be wondering if he put the right type of screws back on the frame. And nervous about the seven still in his pocket...

Cautious optimism is the same in knitting as in farming. You go into a project with something raw, drunk with plans, and then after a lot of work you end up with something you can use. And when people send me photos like this: of their creations made with my wool—I am shocked back into those hair pin turns with pure delight. Teresa sent me a photo of these laced gloves. Janet mailed me a gorgeous winter hat. My boss knit me a tiny stuffed chick out of Sal's wool. Another reader sent along a Mod handbag, get this, made out of Maude....priceless! What amazing emails, gifts, and images! Thank you. You're getting this farmer to pick up her needles once again and maybe even take on that dream sweater!

Why is it that running a farm seems easy, effortless really... but knitting a sweater feels impossible?!

photo by T.G.


Blogger Unknown said...

So much has happened in a year jenna and I can tell the next year will so much different from the first. I am excited to be along for the ride. Have a great weekend.

April 29, 2011 at 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, those are gorgeous! One day I'd love to be able to knit/crochet a project from my own mohair. . .one day.
I agree, the farming thing seems almost second nature, even tho I'm still a "newbie". But just looking at patterns for making socks makes me a little queasy. . .

April 29, 2011 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Wow, those ARE gorgeous! Just seeing them makes me want to pick up needles again and get back to practicing.

April 29, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Because you have turned your passion into a job! You have had an overwhelming year and you just need a chance to breath. Usually that is what the winter offers to us. However this winter was a bitch and there was no down time. Always being on watch get's to you after a while and it's okay to take a step back to reevaluate what is important to you and find your way back to the place that fits you. You should come and take yoga with me in Bennington. It has been my savior! And teaches us how to breath again!

April 29, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Wow! I couldn't even begin to knit something. Beautiful gloves.

April 29, 2011 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Viviane said...

Wow what an incredible pattern!! Teresa, where did you find it?

April 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

I'm still sitting on 3 skeins of Maude's wool because I haven't found the perfect project yet for them. And I have to admit that I'm afraid of messing it up and not doing such lovely yarn justice.

I, too, would like to have that pattern, Teresa, if you care to share it. Really lovely!

April 29, 2011 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I love reading about your farming, and I hope you do find time to do some knitting soon! (But I wouldn't blame you if you decided to take any free time and nap.)

April 29, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

My very first sweater (which was only my third knittin project ever) was for my husband, who is very long. It was a Guernsey style sweater, and I had to adjust for his length. Evidently I didn't succeed at that because when he put it on, it was rather a tunic length.

"I feel like a serf," was his comment.

The sweater has been put away and I imagine that it's making a fine meal for some winged creatures that are into that stuff.

But that didn't stop me. Last year I knitted him a swell hat, using two colors in a row, keeping the colors separated and easy to work with by knitting English with one and German with the other. Quite the accomplishment in my eyes. But I haven't picked up the needles since.

I think it would be different if I had wool from my own sheep with which to work. I think I would be knitting all the time and nothing else would get done. By the way, I love the color of Joseph's wool and think it would make a swell addition to a two color sweater for you.

Can't wait to hear about your surprise!

April 29, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

I'm glad everyone likes the wristwarmers! I used the pattern Mericash Wristwarmers offered online for free by Punta Yarns ( I made them a little longer than the pattern called for because I thought that would be prettier and I also blocked them to open up the lace. This wool in this pattern tends to scrunch up a bit.

April 29, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I have a wonderful hand knitted scarf made for me by my friend Sally from wool she spun herself. It is mostly natural off white sheep wool with two black stripes of karakul, two white stripes that look angora and two mottled brown stripes. The white stripes are from my little mut dog Roxie and the mottled brown my Himalayan cat Quinten.

April 29, 2011 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Paula - Try "fulling" the sweater that is feeding moths right now. Wash it in hot water with soap (rather than detergent) and toss it in the dryer. Even moth holes can seal themselves up during this process. You might end up with a nice coat for yourself or some cool new fabric. Everyone will think you are a genious of creation (and you are if you can knit a sweater and change the essence of the fiber)! One caution, don't put it in the washer and forget it, pull it out now and then and make sure that the inside of the sweater isn't felting together. If it isn't to your satisfaction when done in a wash cycle then do it again! Once it's done (you should barely be able to discern stitches depending on the wool and the extent to which you felted it) you can cut it without unraveling to create the perfect something.

Just a thought. I did this with a couple of old sweaters I had made that I couldn't part with but which needed a new life.

April 29, 2011 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Teresa, those are amazing. And there's no way in Hades I could do something like that yet. I struggle with knit one purl one.

April 29, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Jenna---follow this link to Anglican, Plain--I think you'll like her blog entry on her herding dog. Beautiful pic of the dog too.

April 29, 2011 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 29, 2011 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


April 29, 2011 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger jules said...

Aren't those gloves stunning! I LOVE them!

April 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

It's only impossible until you've finished the first sweater Jenna - then it's routine.
Glad you liked that funky hat!!
Janet in Nova Scotia

April 29, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Those mitts are exquisite! I totally get what you mean about the sweater, though. I can whip together an Icelandic, no problem, but show me cables, and I break out in a cold sweat. Each of us is blessed with our own, personal gifts. Thank God!

April 29, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

To Paula - it's not impossible to pick up at the point you want your waist ribbing to be, remove the rest of the length, and just re-rib the waist. It's a bit scary the first time you do it, but it's really not hard....

April 29, 2011 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 29, 2011 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Maude Mod. Too cool.

April 29, 2011 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Sweaters are daunting, that is for sure! I've only made 2 for myself (and 2 for my kids, but small ones don't count). My first sweater came out way too wide and wicked short. Total loss! My second one came out huge (though I knit the medium pattern). All was not lost with that one, however. After birthing 2 kids and gaining a bunch of weight, it now fits perfect! Yay.

April 29, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger shannonstoney said...

What beautiful, shiny wool on those gloves!

April 29, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

I think it is just like anything else that you produce yourself--you have more appreciation for it because you know what work went into the product. If we all produced most of what we have we wouldn't have such a thow-away society.

April 29, 2011 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

@Stargazer you'd probably do great at knitting since you are a craftsman and have pretty nimble fingers. Although if they are rough you might find the yarn snagging on calluses etc. I generally can't knit during gardening season because of this. But it great for dexterity and very calming and believe it or not I've read if several athletes who knit for these very reasons. I can sit down to knit and hours will pass without notice.

April 30, 2011 at 2:46 AM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

Nice gloves! Half way on my first sweater right now - front all done, back just started (only just begun the ribbing). Nervous as, hoping it will look like the picture in the book (gauge is all OK).....

April 30, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

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