Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category


Sometimes it is the smallest things that light up life. After some years (and years) of owning the domain, has become a destination at last! Don’t worry… the old routing still works, but now there’s no need to use the full wordpress address anymore. You can get here like this:

It was really no big deal. WordPress makes it easy, but we blew it out of proportion and I spent years stumbling over the simple instructions and nominal fee. It can be so easy to put obstacles in our way, can’t it? Friends, there’s big energy out there in this year of the Dragon. What are the little things that are standing between you and your dreams?

It’s a beautiful day here today. Things like this are showing up in our garden:

It’s definitely a wear-red-cowboy-boots-and-dance-in-the-garden kind of a day!

Happy Sunday!


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Magic doesn’t always happen of its own accord… sometimes a lot of behind-the-scenes commitment and hard work goes into its creation. And such was the case with last week’s Saffron Walden Maze Festival. Make no mistake, there was plenty of serendipity as carefully constructed plans fell into place and the event took on a life of its own… but the planning was admirably careful and thorough. And at the end of it all, as we were gathering on the Common for one last time, this woman, chief instigator Barbara Wilcox, was still smiling:

The final evening found us celebrating new friendships and good memories as we munched on local delicacies like Giggly Pig sausages and Saffron Walden Ice Cream, and enjoyed a bit of silliness with Wellie Wanging contests, hay bale mazes, and fancy dress shenanigans. Even the Market Cross was gussied up for the night with recycled maze knitting!

Market Cross

One last delight awaited us as the evening shadows gathered and darkness fell. Amidst the twinkle of hundreds of tiny candles, we thanked the organizers and bid the maze goodnight…

Until we meet again!

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It was a-maze-ing! I know that the Knitted Maze was only one of the attractions of Saffron Walden’s weeklong Maze Festival, and as a knitter I might be a bit biased… but I was profoundly moved by the experience of seeing the grand old turf maze swathed in handcrafted fibre. In this case, the turf labyrinth, which is one of 8 surviving historical examples here in England, is called a maze despite the fact that it is actually labyrinth by modern definition… it has a single path leading all the way to the center, with no choices or dead ends.

It made for a stunning view, looking on from the raised banks surrounding the labyrinth… long strips of color covering the walls and flanking the paths, each section showcasing someone’s handwork. Walking the paths of the maze brought me in close enough to appreciate each person’s choices and contribution of colour, pattern, and fibre.  

Some bits were plain

some fancy,

 and some still in progress….

I wanted to wander endlessly, appreciating, enjoying the detail… but then stepping away to view it as a whole brought a new perspective, and I felt like I was looking at a long line of unique characters holding hands to provide a show for the audience. For me, it was a tangible experience of individuality blending into cohesive community. It was quite marvelous to witness the results of  personal creativity weaving into a new and wider tale. Each piece told a story which gave richness and depth to the overall effect.

As a knitter, I was pleased with my involvement, and proud of my bit… but to be honest, the most exciting part of my participation was watching my little piece take on a life of its own, down there in the far corner.

And the rest of the weekend… equally wonderful, colorful, and diverse! As always the labyrinth wove its own magic as disparate characters, interests and expressions came together in celebration of an age-old symbol.

Curious about just who might dream up such a zany project? Meet Sophie, the Wonder Woman behind it all…

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As my way of inching back toward the blogland community, I want to invite my reader friends to knit a labyrinth with me.

 Yes, really!

A big one!


Big enough to cover this:

The good people of Saffron Walden are planning a fabulous Maze Festival to be held in late August…. the Maze is the name of the big turf labyrinth on the common in the centre of town. Because it is less than an hour away from us, we consider it our local labyrinth, and visit it as often as possible. The festival week promises to be filled with fun and unique activities, but my ears really perked up when I was introduced to Sophie of Twist Yarns who is filled-to-bursting with good ideas.  Amongst her many projects is a Knitted Maze that will feature in the festival. She is looking for creative people to help her knit a mile of knitting to cover the maze. She needs knitted, crocheted, felted and/or sewn pieces which are approximately 9 inches wide, and can be as long or short as you like. You can use any material and any stitch for this celebration of textile crafts. Feel free to contact Sophie through her website with questions or knitted offerings — .

Please join the fun by helping this great marriage of Knitting and Labyrinths — two of my greatest loves!

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I’m in Sock Mode. Definitely and delightedly. I’m loving the 2010 Mystery Socks so much that I’ve started knitting the 2009 socks as well, to fill in the time I’d otherwise just spend waiting impatiently for the next Friday Clue. Not wanting to give too much away, let me just say that the ‘little boxes’ and ‘tiny trowel’ stitches are knitting up quite splendidly. Photos will be forthcoming.

I had a bit of a setback the first week, when I launched myself into the Knit-Along with  purple wool from my stash. Unfortunately, my knitting needles didn’t approve of my choice, and kept whispering to me about a different wool, a more autumnal wool, a wool that would appeal to a particular friend. My needles do that sometimes…. they whisper their opinions as I clickety-clack my way along. I can’t tell you how many things I start knitting, thinking that I’m making something for me, only to “hear” the name of someone else.  Sometimes I’m a bit disappointed, but I so love the feeling that a certain item “wants” to be for someone else…. and as knitting is such a spiritual practice for me, I love knitting prayers and blessings into my work, especially when they are prayers and blessings for someone dear.

With autumn in full swing, I can’t just sit home and knit… blue skies and crunchy leaves lure me out into the crisp air. A quick trip through the woods with my sweetie yesterday turned into a long ramble amongst ancient trees and along old hedge rows in search of strange mushrooms (to photograph) and signs of woodland critters scrambling to prepare for winter’s chill.

And then as the afternoon light was waning, we came home to our the delights of  our Crocktober endeavors…. we had left a beautiful melange of red cabbage and apple simmering in the crockpot. It was Delia Smith’s recipe, carried out with Stephanie O’Dea’s crockpot gusto. The house smelled divine as we kicked off our muddy boots and cracked open a bottle of wine…




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I don’t know about where you are, but around here it definitely feels like autumn is ready to give way to winter…. brrrr! Thankfully, while the rain is falling in torrents and the wind is whipping through the trees, something else is brewing, something seasonal and cozy. Two of my favorite bloggers have announced October celebrations, here and here.

As a crockpot devotee, I’ll follow Stephanie O’Dea anywhere…. she’s revolutionized my life and made it possible for me to cook healthy versions of  American comfort foods with pantry staples, in the confines of my tiny English kitchen. Check her out…. and buy her book!

Most of my blog-reading, though, is about knitting. For some reason, knitters make great bloggers, and I love peeping into their lives and private (fiber) stashes.  But I’ve never indulged in a Mystery Knit Along (KAL) — until now! Ever since the announcement of Socktoberfest 2010, I’ve been marking the days until the arrival of the first clue. It’s here…. and I’m ready and waiting with needles and wool at hand. Every Friday for the next 5 weeks, Through The Loops blogger Kirsten Kapur will release clues to her 2010 Mystery Sock, and KnittingBlogLand is abuzz with excitement. Let the knitting commence!

Oh the comforts of a nice woolly knit on a blustery day! Especially when good smells issue forth from the crockpot to signal that dinner will magically appear even if I spend the whole afternoon knitting….

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I love the winter Olympics… I learned long ago that watching sports gives me a great opportunity to knit. While I enjoy the competition, I especially love the stories behind the athletes. These extraordinary people have learned to focus their minds so that they can apply their skills under amazing pressure. Each story is a window into determination, passion, and community.

And while the stories unfold, I knit their Olympian spirit into my own projects.

We completely missed the 2006 Olympics because we were in India where their lack of winter sports translated into a lack of Olympic coverage… and under the circumstances, that was fine with us! That trip remains one of our most incredible journeys which left us with the most marvelous of memories; in my head I will undoubtedly spend the rest of my Februarys in India….

Nevertheless, we’ve been looking forward to this year’s Olympics. The time differences mean we don’t see much live action, but we’re finding the rhythm of the Highlights shows. And while the skaters skate and the skiers ski, I knit. And I’m not the only one who does this. The queen of knitting bloggers, Stephanie Pearl McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) started the Knitting Olympics 4 years ago, inviting knitters to cast on a (challenging) project during the opening ceremonies and complete it by the time the flame is extinguished 17 days later. This, therefore, is my first Knitting Olympics; my entry is called Winterbourne, and at present it looks like this:

So what is it, and why call it Winterbourne? Well, it is born in Winter, of course, at the tender point where one’s dreams of green just begin to be realized. The word winterbourne is a term for a stream or river that is dry though the summer months… and Winter has inspired and motivated this project! It will be more recognizable by the end of the week!

Please stay tuned as I knit my way to Gold!

The 2010 Knitting Olympics

Eligibility: Any knitter who, embracing the “Citius, Alitius Fortius” ideal, would like to challenge themselves while embracing the Olympic spirit, and is just whacked enough to play along with me.

Concept: You must cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, Friday, February 12, 2010 and finish before the Olympic flame goes out Sunday, February 28. That’s 17 days.

1. The project must be a challenge for you to complete in 17 days.
2. There are no rules about what a challenge would be. Like the real Olympics, there are many areas to compete in. If you are a new knitter, then a garter stitch baby sweater might do…If you are experienced, use your own conscience.
3. While this is intended to be somewhat difficult (like the Olympics) it is not intended to ruin your life. Don’t set yourself up for failure. (Olympic athletes may cry, but they do not whine pitifully, sob and threaten members of their family with pointed sticks because they haven’t slept in five days. ) This is intended to (like the Olympics) require some measure of sacrifice, and be difficult, but it should be possible to attain.
4. No casting on before the flame is lit. (The opening ceremonies run from 6-8 pst. If you can’t watch, then I’d pick a time in there.)
5. Finish before the flame goes out.
6. You may swatch before the games. (I consider this “training.”)

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We’re home from Ireland…. and that in itself is the miracle. For those of you with access to the international news, you’ll have heard about the snowstorm that brought London to its knees yesterday. Apparently it was the worst snowstorm in 20 years, and the first time since the Blitz that London’s bus services were completely cancelled. Since the Blitz!!

We were supposed to have been laying out a labyrinth near Belfast during the day, flying back to London yesterday evening. Although the worst of the snow hadn’t yet come across the Irish sea, we quickly realized that it wasn’t a day for painting labyrinth lines onto frozen ground, so we headed to the airport immediately after breakfast, in hopes of catching any available flight out.

Twelve hours later, a single flight headed out for London, and Jeff managed to get us seats… I’ll never know how he so consistently manages to work his travel miracles, but I’ll hitch my wagon to his star anytime. The official word from the airport was to simply go away and come back again in a couple of day… but the persistent hung out for a daylong blur of chance encounters with fellow travellers, interviews with BBC reporters looking for stories about travelling woe, and endless cups of coffee. I knitted, of course, nearly completing the cabled Irish socks I had selected to accompany me on this journey.


Our Easy Jet captain, Chris Trevelyan,  came out into the cabin before takeoff to describe the travel chaos in the London airports. Warm and safe in the nearly flight-less Belfast International Airport, we had clearly escaped the worst. The flight was uneventful and even the drive home was easy, though eerie. The roads, even the motorways were absolutely deserted, a sight rarely seen. The only other vehicles out on the snowy landscape seemed to be the busy gritters.

Was the trip worth it? Absolutely… later this week I’ll post pictures of the labyrinths, megaliths, sheila-na-gigs and wintry Irish countryside.

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In the wee hours of the Friday morning, we’ll be leaving for Ireland on a journey that is part business, part pleasure, and part spiritual pilgrimage. For three days we’ll visit labyrinths and sacred sites that have been calling out to our pilgrim hearts. In some ways, I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of our timing. At the time of year when most of the British populace is dreaming of heading to warmer climes, we are trading our grey skies for the blustery winds and leaden skies of Ireland where we’ll undoubtedly shiver despite wearing our warmest woollies. But we don’t mind braving the January darkness and wintry weather if it means we have the space to wander and experience without being crowded by hordes of camera-clinking tourists.

One of my greatest joys is choosing and preparing the knitting project that will accompany me as we travel. I’m a knitterly pilgrim, so what I carry with me matters both practically and symbolically; I would no more dream of leaving home without my knitting than without a journal. And I don’t take just any knitting… I carefully listen to the quiet voice of my intuition as it whispers guidance for the trip ahead,then choose patterns, colours, and project that will support my journey. I don’t always knit much when I’m away, but I keep my knitting close at hand, always, using it as a touchstone and a companion.  By the time I return home, the familiarity of the yarn and my needles remind me instantly of my pre-trip dreams, the planning process, and the events of the journey itself. It may take months before I actually complete the knitting, but even that delay often speaks to the time that it takes me to fully integrate my experiences.

This week I’ll be travelling with a beautiful skein of hand-dyed blue-green wool that I received as a birthday present last year. Before we leave, I’ll cast 72 stitches onto a beautiful pair of wooden circular needles to start a cabled sock. Both the colour and the pattern seem as though they’ll fit with the Irish countryside through which we’ll be travelling. I wonder if sock-making appeals to me so deeply because of the importance of one’s feet when walking labyrinths?


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Seasonal Paradox

This tug-of-war between the seasons really fascinates me. After a week of spring, we’re suddenly back to winter today, with snow falling since early this morning. I love the feeling of curling up in the house where two layers of paned glass protect me from the icy air. I was 18 years old before I saw snow actually fall from the sky. As a Califonia girl (Northern California, if you please), I had made plenty of winter pilgrimages to Lake Tahoe to play in the snow, always secretly hoping for a good blizzard that would snow us in for a few days á la Little House on the Prairie and the other books I had grown up with… but my wish never came true and we always made it home in without seeing a single snowflake.

Hyacinths in Snow

So, this is pretty exciting, and just a bit exhilarating. We are leaving Tuesday morning to attend a board meeting in Minnesota (where I would expect to see weather like this) and I know that by the time we get back, this shoulder season will be gone and this seasonal paradox will have yielded to new flowers and fresh green leaves. I’ll welcome it! But as so often happens, my knitting mirrors my world. I’ve just finished blocking my latest socks, a surprise gift for a special lady… Don’t they look like those brave hyacinths, minus the snow? Warm socks pretending to welcome a sunny spring!

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