Summer Knitting: knitting vs. the doldrums

Designing knitting patterns is tough sometimes. Sometimes it feels like "trial and error" is all error. Combine that with summer days that are either scorching hot or raining cats, dogs and assorted farm animals, and you've got doldrums, big time.

Even if you aren't trying to turn out the next big spectacular knitwear design, you may find yourself listless and lacking the motivation to deal with knitting projects that are misbehaving.  If this happens to you, please don't give up on knitting altogether.  What is that saying about not making snap decisions when it's too humid?  OK, maybe there isn't such a saying, but there ought to be. 

My solution, which of course I HIGHLY recommend, is to knit a dishcloth.  It doesn't even have to be complicated. (It also doesn't need to be visible from space, but I figure, why not??)

I'm almost finished with this doldrums dishcloth--the Moderne Log Cabin from  Mason-Dixon Knitting.

I'm almost finished with this doldrums dishcloth--the Moderne Log Cabin from Mason-Dixon Knitting.

If you find yourself in the doldrums this summer, I want you to know two things:

1. You're not alone.

2. Summer is halfway over, so hang on!

If you happen upon a knitting friend in the next few weeks who has a glazed look, a sheen of perspiration across his or her forehead, and a rebellious, obnoxious, knitting-pattern-gone-bad on the needles, hand him or her a ball of cotton and some size 6 needles and reassure them that everything's going to be alright.  Bonus tip: take your friend out for ice cream, too.


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Summer Knitting: Knitting vs. The Weather

It's hot outside, it will only get hotter and it's going to stay hot. 

Today in my beautiful city, the forecast is for temps in the mid-90's and a heat index that will climb way past 100 degrees.  Did I mention that it is also humid?  Because it is. It's the South and it is summer.  (For those of you reading from the other hemisphere [and I know you're out there--hello, how y'all doin? Glad to have you!] save this post for six months hence when it will apply to you!).

For some, this means abandoning knitting altogether.  My friends, let us not be hasty.  There are some wonderful things you can knit during the hot summer months.  Now, lest you think I am out of touch with the weather, remember I have lived in either Texas (flippin' hot) or South Carolina ("it's not the heat; it's the humidity") for most of my life.  While, yes, I have knitted a Big Wool Bag in July, I don't recommend it for every summer.  Think small projects (Socks!) or projects with lightweight yarn (shawls!) or something using cotton (dishcloths!).  Also, never underestimate the value of a well-placed ceiling fan.

I am currently working on a cowl with alpaca and wool yarns.  It's a hot project, though not itchy because the yarn is quite nice.  I will bind off and block it soon, and pick up the needles for what could be an epic THREE (3) pairs of socks going at one time (because I do occasionally take my own advice...). Also in the works--a summery wrap made from cool cotton, and a dishcloth or two.

Despite the heat of a Southern summer, knitting is part of my life and as such is a comfort and a distraction from the challenges of the weather.  So my advice is to find something that is compatible with your weather, knit it, and don't forget to stock your hurricane supplies with fresh yarn and some back copies of Cast On, because as they say down here, you never know when the next big one will come our way. 

Wishing you good weather wherever you knit!


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Summer Knitting: Knitting vs. Travel


Knitting vs. Travel:

Vacation!?!  That means: car knitting, or trying to take knitting on airplanes. Plus there might be time to knit while we are at our destination, and what am I gonna knit???

OK, don't panic.  I know that I have struggled with travel in the past (and will again, no doubt) because there are just so many variables and as a mom, we have to either pack for everyone or oversee their packing or worry that now that they are old enough to do it all themselves they will still forget to pack underwear.  Just take a deep breath and do the following:

  1. Know that they WILL forget to pack underwear.  Just accept it.
  2. Take your travel knitting plans one step at a time.  Make a list. Break all your travel plans into bite sized pieces.
  3. If you're knitting will be in a car (or train), look for projects that will work for your level of skill and your level of involvement with others in the car.  If you have to hand out juice boxes every 20 minutes, you might want to plan a project that can be set down and takes less concentration than an intricate bit of lace with beading.
  4. If air travel beckons, then confirm in advance the knitting policy of the airline/airport/TSA.  I've heard stories from both sides of the spectrum ("I take my knitting on planes all the time--no problems" to "OMG I had to pack my needles in my checked bag and had absolutely nothing to knit with for 15 hours in the air!!!"), so try to accept whatever comes.  Bring a good book, just in case.
  5. If you'll have time to knit at your destination, let me first congratulate you on planning The Right Sort of Vacation.  You're a knitter.  You should always plan time to knit!  Secondly, plan your project for the kind of time you have.  If you'll be catching up with friends and family, again, not a great time for projects that require a lot of attention.  Facing a lot of quiet time alone?  Take something that will occupy you.
  6. There is a chance that you will run into the problem my friend Mary Lynn recently encountered when faced with a 14-hour road trip.  She grabbed 3 knitting projects to take along and discovered that NONE OF THEM WORKED.  Isn't that horrifying?  This nightmare scenario is enough to ensure that I will always over-pack when taking my knitting. Which will be all the time because I will always take knitting on vacations.  Bonus tip: start at least one project before you go so you know that something works.
  7. Consider yarn shops when you're thinking about sightseeing and souvenirs.  Do you really really need another souvenir spoon/thimble/shot glass/t-shirt? Wouldn't it be more useful and memorable to take home yarn from whatever city you're visiting?  I have one scarf made from Plymouth Mushishi that I adore, partly because it is fabulous and partly because I bought the yarn as a souvenir on a visit to NC, at an adorable shop in the Grove Arcade called Asheville Home Crafts.  See? So many memories, plus I got to make something with the souvenir I purchased. 
The pattern is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's One Row Handspun scarf and is available free. Just click on the pic!

The pattern is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's One Row Handspun scarf and is available free. Just click on the pic!

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