I was looking through my old Google photos this morning looking for some photos for a project I’ve been invited to participate on with a school district (I will share more in a later post).
While browsing my old photos on Google (I no longer use Google, I use Amazon Photos for photo storage) I came across photos from December 2011 of the first hat I knitted!
It was a very big deal for me to learn how to knit a hat. My friend Pam in Central Oregon taught me how to knit a hat. I felt like I was a “knitting bad *ss” because I could now make my own hat!
Here are the images I found from 9+ years ago; and you will see I had braces at the time and I had just started growing my locs.
I was so proud of that hat and myself for actually knitting a hat. Eventually I learned to make hats a bit longer for the shape of my head.
Unfortunately the hat got washed and dried in the dryer (long story but it involved not taking the hat out of my pocket when I put a sweatshirt in the wash…) and it FELTED (frown). So that was the end of this hat which had become a tightly felted child hat in the dryer!
But I’ve made 11+ more hats (actually I’ve lost count) since my first hat, for myself and for family and friends. Yes the same pattern – a rolled brim hat.
In case you are interested in this very basic pattern, I did find a similar pattern online on Ravelry: Basic Roll Brim Beanie.
But warning: DO NOT LAUNDER AND PUT IN THE DRYER your completed creation!
This hat is for my sister Rianna, who helped me more than I can ever put into words or thank her for during the most difficult time of my life in December 2018, after my husband suddenly died.
As I shared in the 12/23/18 post Stories from the Road, Part I, after my husband died I flew to the Eastern Coast of the U.S. (on a plane ticket my brother Raoul brought me) and my sister drove me across 4 Eastern states to see family and to attend a celebration of life for my husband with his family in Upstate New York. (My husband and I are originally from the East Coast of the U.S., both growing up in New York)
I was in a shocked daze but hanging out with my sister was a beautiful and bonding distraction. She drove me over 800 miles round-trip and on our way back from Upstate New York we stopped in a quaint town called Tarrytown, New York.
I knew at the time I needed to leave Central Oregon where I lived the past 14 years with my husband and start a new life somewhere, when I was ready, but moving to Colorado was not a fully formed idea yet. I was considering moving to New York to be closer to my siblings.
So we stopped in Tarrytown and wandered around for several hours as a break from being on the road.
While in Tarrytown we discovered the Flying Fingers Yarn Shop, and while browsing my sister brought a skein of yarn over to me and said: “Would you knit me a hat with this?”.
A little over 14 months later, I’ve finished the hat for my sister with the yarn she selected on the road trip:
I love variegated yarn and I think the pattern created by the variegations in the yarn is yummy!
My sister has curly hair (lots of it), so I made the hat a little bit wider and longer than I normally do. Here are some photos of me modeling the hat for my sister when I texted her images of the finished hat (I wanted to show her I added in extra length to the hat).
A handmade knitted hat is not enough to thank my sister for how much she was there for me during the most difficult time in my life but it is a little token of my appreciation.
When I write posts like this, though I try not to my make blog too “grief-y” these days, it reminds me how much love I have in my life from family and friends.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety this winter, especially when we have heavy snows in the Denver metropolitan area where I now live.
Likely this is related to the worse winter of my life in early 2019 (after the worse Christmas season in my life when my husband died 12 days before Christmas).
There were constant major snowstorms in Central Oregon in January and February 2019 and I was constantly shoving feet of snow just to get out of my driveway.
Previously, my awesome husband always handled snow shoveling (occasionally I would help and we would “team shovel”) and suddenly after his death, I now had to constantly do it on my own (while sobbing uncontrollably in my grief).
This continued until I finally admitted to close friends my struggles and my wonderful friend Jason once he found out what I was doing, brought his snowblower over and told me no matter what, I was not to shovel snow anymore! He drove across town daily if needed to my house to take care of the snow removal (we had an endless dump of snow daily for a while in Central Oregon in winter 2019)!
I think when heavy snow hit the Denver area in January and February 2020 it brought back those awful grief memories and it manifested itself in “Snow Anxiety”.
No worries, I am working with my healthcare provider on this anxiety issue. Living at 5280+ feet above sea level, in the Rocky Mountains, there is going to be snow. So unless I am planning to move somewhere tropical I need to resolve my “Snow Anxiety” issue.
One thing that is helping with my anxiety is knitting and quilting projects!
This morning over breakfast I was reading an article in a crafting magazine discussing the mental health benefits of handwork and came across the most wonderful quote from Anne Lamott that I will close this post with:
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
Did you ever need or want to finish a craft project but the project itself had a great emotional weight?
Such is the case with a ball of variegated turquoise yarn in my yarn stash.
Last year near this time I was on a trip with friends to Santa Fe, New Mexico (see posts Santa Fe in Black and White and Creative Inspiration: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum). Sante Fe has many wonderful shops and we did a little winter hat shopping in the shops for my friend Michele who was looking for the perfect turquoise hat to compliment her turquoise winter coat.
After trying on several hats in several shops that did not work, I offered to knit her a hat using turquoise yarn.
When I returned to my home in Central Oregon, my late husband Terry and I went shopping for the perfect yarn and we found it – variegated turquoise yarn.
Terry was taking a break from making quilts and was just enjoying being my “crafting assistant” so he rolled the skein of yarn into a ball to make my hat knitting easier.
This was one of the last crafting things he worked on before he unexpectedly and suddenly died on 12/13/18.
So I had this ball of yarn, that he had wound into a ball.
I could barely touch it much less even think of knitting that hat.
However, as I’ve discovered during my first year journey of widowhood: crafting and making things are good for your spirit. Sometimes it seems like doing something with my hands is healing to my heart.
I began working on the hat in late Winter 2019 as I prepared for my move to Colorado (see series of posts Colorado Bound) to begin a new life adventure.
But it was difficult to work on and I put it away. Every time I picked up the ball of yarn I could picture Terry sitting on the sofa across from me rolling the ball of yarn, watching a TV show with me, and laughing. Some days I still cannot believe my beautiful life with him suddenly ended.
In early October on an unexpectedly snowy day in Denver, I realized that “Winter is Coming” and if my friend Michele was to have that turquoise hat for this winter, I needed to work on it.
And so I did.
Here is my favorite part of knitting a hat – when you switch to the double pointed needles:
Here is the completed hat:
And here is my lovely friend Michele in her new hat (which I gave her this weekend):
I feel very peaceful after completing the hat. Terry was also a friend of Michele’s and he would be very pleased to see the hat completed. His work rolling the ball of yarn was not wasted!
To close out this post, here is another inspirational sign from the collection of signs sprinkled about the restaurant I mentioned in yesterday’s post’s Postscript section:
Monday I went on a field trip to the Wintercreek Nursery with my friend Jenny. The Nursery was filled with glorious examples of the beauty of Autumn in Central Oregon.
I thought I would post a couple of those photos as part of my ongoing series of posts on sources of Creative Inspiration. I think these photo compositions could be inspiration for an interesting art quilt. Feel free to use them for inspiration and if you repost the photos, please credit me as the photographer, thanks.
Here is my absolute favorite of the photos I took:
And here is a tiny little house that I think was covering some plumbing that looked like a real house tucked away in forest growth:
Finally here are a couple photos of Autumn at my house in Central Oregon:
We have a lot of reds, yellows, yellow-greens and greens. We do not have the purples of the Autumn in Vermont (when I lived in New York we used to drive to Vermont in the Fall to see the exquisitely beautiful palette of colors) but I think Autumn is an exceptionally lovely time of year with the Fall colors and the backdrop of an impossibly blue Central Oregon Autumn sky!
Thanks for reading my photo essay of Autumn in Central Oregon!
One of the “non-Wordpress” blogs I love to follow is that of a fellow Central Oregon SAQA member, Kristin Shields. On her blog Kristin Shields: Artist & Quiltmaker, she has a visually beautiful post on Fall Color – OctoberColor.
I’ve made quite a bit of progress on the table runners I am working on (see recent posts) and will sharing a peek in a future post.
Now that the weather has changed (it has dipped into the 60s and 50s during the day and 20s – 30s at night!) it is time to start making knitted hats again in the evenings while watching TV.
I love to wear my knitted hats (yes I only know one pattern) on brisk Fall and Winter walks!
Well here’s what I’m supposed to be working on today:
Here’s what I’m actually working on today:
It’s so cold and snowy today all I want to do is sit around under a quilt and knit.
I am almost to my favorite part of knitting a hat – switching to the double pointed needles. I love finishing off the top part of a hat – it’s kind of challenging but fun! (Plus I like being silly and walking around the house with my nearly completed hat and double pointed needles sticking out of the top – ha!)
Well back to watching the snow fall outside my front window…
And now for something completely different… – Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Let’s take a break from quilting and sewing and talk about KNITTING!
I have always wanted to learn to knit, I thought it was magical. My grandmother taught me how to crochet and crocheting is cool but there was something more austere and glamorous about knitting, not quite sure how to put it into words. Maybe it was because I did not know how to do it and it seemed so difficult that made it so ethereal…
15 years ago a I learned how to knit but I only learned how to make knitted scarves, I was scared to try anything beyond a scarf. After learning how to knit I became completely enamored with wool yarns. As a crocheter I had made numerous afghans with inexpensive acrylic blend yarns. I could not imagine buying expensive yarn for crocheting.
One of my first exposures to “high-end” yarns was at a yarn shop in British Columbia on a trip to Victoria. When we lived in Seattle, WA, Canada was not that far away and we would frequently go to Vancouver, BC. Every couple of years we would take the ferry from Northern Washington State to Victoria, BC for the weekend.
One trip to Victoria, we stopped at the Beehive Wool Shop. My first time to a yarn speciality shop, I was overwhelmed – so many colors and textures, and yarn options, and patterns, and, and, and (I nearly get short of breath and dizzy just thinking of that first experience).
They were so friendly and welcoming at the Beehive Wool Shop, especially when I told them I was a new knitter. It was as if I had joined a new family – The Knitting Family.
Displayed at the shop I saw the most beautiful scarf – a ribbed knit scarf made with this beautiful burnt orange yarn (I seem to have always had a thing for orange, see my posts Embracing Orange and Orange). I figured this scarf was way too advanced for me – I had only mastered straight knitting and straight purling, no combinations!
The kind and very encouraging shopkeeper at the Beehive Wool Shop told me that I could do it, found me the yarn, then gave me an impromptu lesson on how to create ribbing. She also wrote down the simple pattern for me.
Here is the completed scarf – it is my most favorite scarf of all time (and I made it – yay)!
Having conquered a semi difficult scarf, I set my dreams on someday knitting my own cap/hat.
Then 9 years later, while living in Central Oregon, my friend who is a very experienced knitter, knitted me my first handmade cap! Oh my goodness – I was so in love with this hat that his hat became my “security blanket” (remember when you were young and you had a “bankie” that you took everywhere with you?) and once the weather got slightly cold enough it was time to wear my hat!
My love for my hat grew to the point that I had to learn how to make such a hat, even if this sounded scary and beyond my reach. My friend Pam agreed to teach me how to knit a hat and she was very patient (very patient) as I made it through my first hat.
There are no photos to share of my first hat. It was wonderful to make a hat but it was rather small for my head, not sure what I was thinking.
I did not give up, the best thing after learning to do something is to try again, especially on your own, to cement your learning. I have made two more knitted hats since that time (same pattern) and I am currently working on a third. Eventually I would like one in every color of my wardrobe!
I may not work on it all the time but my knitting is very special to me. I like to take it on trips or to events where I will just be sitting around. I carry my knitting in a special bag – one that I picked up when I went on a trip with my father (who is no longer with us) to Williamsburg, VA. This bag reminds of the fun day I had, about 18 years ago, wandering around Colonial Williamsburg with my Dad.
Every time I go to knit it reconnects me with that special trip.