Knitting for the Spring: Gaia

Gaia, version 2

Back in the days of print patterns, I used to collect knitting books.  I have original first editions of Alice Starmore books, including ones that have never gone back into print.  I did not realize how expensive those Starmore books were until I traded one for a couple thousand yards of her iconic Scottish Fleet yarn.  Anyway, in my knitting library I also had a couple of books by Jean Moss.  I remember buying Sculptured Knits because I loved the cover:

sculptured knits

This was back in 1999, and over the next few years I knitted (or rather, started) many patterns from the book, but never the Lautrec Bolero from the cover.  Gaia was one of three projects I managed to start AND finish, and I loved it.  I knitted it in a hand-spun undyed wool, and wore it for years before I decided I needed the yarn for something else.

About a month ago, as part of addressing the issue of overcrowding in my yarn cabinets, I found the Cable-Down Raglan by Stefanie Japel.  I must have knitted the pullover about 10 years ago, but I have no clear memory of this sweater.  Except for this one work, I can look at all my other projects and tell you about the pattern, the knitting process, the changes, and the yarn.  l don’t know what happened . . . .

Pattern:  Gaia, from Sculptured Knits: 48 Timely Designs Inspired by the Decorative Arts of the 20th Century.  

Yarn:  Unknown DK-weight tweedy merino wool yarn.

Modifications:  I modified the pattern to knit seamlessly from top down, with the sleeves picked up from the top and caps shaped via short rows.  The front bands were knitted on as I went, with regular short rows to make sure the bands didn’t flare.  The original cardigan had a soft point collar, but I don’t like collars in general, so no collar here.  The sleeves were supposed to be full-length, but since I did not have enough yarn, they became three-quarter.  The bottom band is knitted from leftover kid mohair/silk yarn from another project; I like the contrast of colours and texture.

Thoughts:  I love this version of Gaia!  One thing I did that I did not do on the first Gaia is keep the small pockets set into the bottom band.  I never understood the concept of teeny tiny non-functional pockets, but these days I think any pocket is a good pocket.  I made these bigger than the pattern pockets, and they will in fact fit my mobile phone, credit card, and some change.  Finally, about the Little Old Lady buttons: Mom, like Moms of her generation everywhere, left behind a big collection of buttons.  These buttons came from her hoard, and I love them on this cardigan.


Santa Fe 2018

“I don’t go to Santa Fe anymore; it just isn’t what it used to be.” She was New Mexico born and bred, still lives in Albuquerque, and goes to Taos for what Santa Fe used to be.  I have been visiting Santa Fe for almost 20 years, and I have my own ideas of what Santa Fe is, and was: It is a city with many identities, and I don’t think it was ever what it used to be.

creative mornings (2)

In Santa Fe, I am Opie: I am open, I am kind, I listen.  It is an interesting persona for me, and for a few minutes out of their day, people can unload some part of their identities on a stranger who listens, who they will not see again.  On a whim I went to a Creative Mornings Santa Fe event.  The speaker was a physicist, and while he was interesting, it was the mixer before the talk that was stimulating.  I talked to Sharon for about half an hour: she  had seen someone fill in the name badge blank under “I’m curious to know about your . . . .” with “first love,” and she told me not about her first love, but about her last love.  A white woman who grew up in a tiny Hispanic village thinking she “fit in,” only realizing as she really grew up that she fit in only because of the kindness of her neighbors, and that then as now, she was never going to fit into her Hispanic lover’s world.

I think I fit in, until something happens that tells me I do not:  A look from someone who wonders what an Asian woman could possibly know about small town architecture, or multiple histories of settlement of the American West, or distorted symbolism(s) of the Alamo . . .  I think racism doesn’t apply to me, until it applies.

But then, on my last day in Santa Fe, a random act of joy:


A small act of inclusion and acceptance from a stranger.

In between, a thought-provoking interactive/immersive installation at the New Mexico Museum of Art: Pollination, by the art collective Postcommodity:


Enter a stall, insert token:


The shade goes up, and the show begins:


Nature, managed and controlled, not quite real, the object of desire in a land of little rain.

2018 Word of the Year

resist persist
Wikimedia Commons: Ted Eytan from Washington, D. C., USA-2017.05.19

I chose “should” as my 2017 word: I spent the year being very careful about using that word, and I like to think it made me that much more thoughtful about how I deal with obligations to myself and to others.

For 2018, because 45 still exists, because resistance is NOT futile: Persist.

Knitting in the Winter: Manzanilla


Pattern:   Manzanilla by Joji Locatelli, from her Authentic Collection.

Yarn: A merino/silk/cashmere blend yarn from Lambspun of Colorado.  This yarn has been many projects, including Rosamund’s Cardigan and Silver Belle.  I had hoarded so much of this yarn that I was able to make the Wisteria dress as well as this pullover.

Modifications:  I used a DK weight yarn because I find worsted weight to be too heavy for wear.  Since I am still on the tunic kick, I gave the body A-line shape and lengthened it a couple of inches.  I also made the back a tad longer and gave it a slight curve with short-row shaping.  Instead of grafting the sleeve seams, I used a three-needle bind off.  And, not obvious in the photo, I sewed a button at the top of each side hem to stabilize the split hem.  Finally, I widened the width between the garter ridges progressively from top to bottom.  

Thoughts:  I just love this sweater!  When it came off the needle, the sleeves were quite snug, but I was able to open things up with a bit of judicious blocking.  Joji Locatelli designs lovely, minimalistic sweaters, and her experiments in construction produce clothing that are actually wearable.


Almost three years after Mom’s death, I continue to find things she — and Dad — saved.  Yesterday was a day of days as I tackled cobwebs.   Mom feared open windows and closed doors:  open windows meant drafts, and closed doors signified  secrets.  So of course all the spider places are along window tracks she never used, behind open doors she never closed.  As I crawled around cleaning, I was distracted by cabinet doors Mom never dusted — but then, who wipes down cupboard doors, or any other doors, these days?

I found her sewing box in a wet bar cabinet.  It is a plastic multi-tiered affair of avocado green, and inside I found a mostly unused spool of lime green thread.  Mom bought that thread for the  pants I made in my 7th grade sewing class.  The pants were indeed lime green, high-waisted, flare-bottomed, with a zipper at the back.  I remember getting an A on the project; I was so proud of that zipper!  Mom, on the other hand, had nothing good to say about my pants:  she hated the color, the fabric, the cut.   A few years ago, Mom and I were talking about something to do with sewing, and I said I was too scared of zippers, and she said she remembered that I did a good job on the pants zipper.  I am sure in her memory, she liked the pants too!

In the wet bar, in a drawer that is a repository of obsolete remote controls and cordless phone sets, I found a small ziplock bag with a few bits of broken shells and rocks.  When  the College Student was 8 or 9, we stopped at a beach in Santa Barbara on our way to a family reunion.  The College Student forgot the bag when she packed to come home, then she forgot about the shells entirely.  Mom saved it, because she’s Mom.  She would  not have wanted to tell her granddaughter that she tossed her little treasures.

Kiri's shells