"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Posts tagged ‘Green’

Bicolour Ladders

Bicolour Ladders pattern sample

Bicolour Ladders pattern sample in Day Glo Green and Army Olive. © JustHavingFun

Sometimes you just have to do it even if it isn’t perfect.

I was itching to knit again in a big way. My last project was completed over a year ago! I’d been diddling around with swatches (test squares) using all sorts of yarn on all sorts of needles for several different patterns looking for the right combination that would propel me into the “zone.” I gazed at patterns on Ravelry.com until my eyes bugged out. I tried to match the types of yarn in my stash with patterns for which I had sufficient yardage. Yawn. Socks? No, that didn’t feel right. A sweater? Not enough yardage. I longed to knit but nothing spoke to me.

Knitting has two basic stitches: knit and purl. Gauge and pattern determine if the project will succeed. Gauge relates the number of stitches across to the number of rows in a particular pattern using a particular size needle and yarn. Two knitters using the same equipment can get different gauges due to variations in how they knit! The typical “knit” pattern (called “stockinette”) requires you to knit across one row, turn the work around, and purl across the second row. There’s a flat side and a bumpy side. Then you count the number of stitches and the number of rows in 4″ x 4″ area and that’s your gauge. Easy peasy. Patterns are like recipes, written in abbreviations or charted, and keep you on track. If you consistently make your stitches with the same tension, it is likely the project will come to look like what it’s supposed to look like in the size it’s supposed to be.

I can knit. I can purl. I can do stockinette squares. So I swatched.

Ugh! So many times my gauges did not even approach the designer’s requirements! My stitch counts exceeded the recommended number for the patterns so I changed needles to adjust the stitches per inch—didn’t work. The lovely Rowan yarn seemed too dark; the fluffy Knit Picks yarn was too thin. I didn’t have enough of the tweedy yarn from England to do knee socks, and I’m not quite skilled enough yet to use the unspun Plötulopi from Iceland I’ve been saving. That’s when I put it down and waited.

I even tried crocheting a yarmulke (kipa; skullcap) for my son. As I’d crocheted lace when I was younger, I was not afraid of this task. But yikes! I couldn’t see the stitches!! My 30-year old eyes were much sharper working with white cotton, and working with black crochet cotton and a teensy steel hook was madness!!!

But I was itching to knit. The idea buzzed around in my mind like a mosquito seeking fresh skin. Knitters reading this are nodding. They know the feeling.

Mon Tricot Knitting DictionaryI decided to just do it. Starting was hard. I swallowed, took a deep breath, and went to the yarn stash. It wasn’t going to be perfect. It wasn’t going to be the dream project I’d wanted to do with the lovely yarn in my stash. Oh no. With my fingertips I teased out the fugly yarn I’d inherited from my sister Michele. Acrylics. Oddball colors. Strange textures. Lumpy ends. I decided to do what all knitters must do eventually; I started a stash busting project. I picked up my 40-year old copy of Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary that my sister loved to snitch from me and found a stitch pattern that required a multiple of 6 stitches plus 5. I cast on the unusual number of 29 Day Glo Green stitches while squinting. Then I proceeded to knit.

Did you know that people advertise for volunteers on LinkedIn.com? I saw an ad for some organization requesting knitters to make scarves and hats for charity. A light bulb lit up in my mind. I could have my yarn and knit it, too. Although I was uncomfortable knitting this combination, I was more uncomfortable not knitting.

Hence, I’m stash busting.

To get in the zone, I had to get out of my comfort zone. I simply had to move where I saw no room to go forward. I needed to circumvent my usual route, the safe, comfortable path, and go outside the walls of perfection. Surely this scarf will win no prizes when it’s finished. My stitches are neat and regular but aside from that, the colors clash and the pattern is bumpy on the other side. Someone will wear it, though. It will be warm. It will be made with love. It will scratch my knitting itch. It’s an experiment, a new beginning. I will knit on the subway and get odd stares or elicit conversation. I will knit in the pizza shop after washing my hands to while away the time until my next appointment. I will traipse these sad skeins of yarn throughout New York City while I eyeball a good place to sit and knit. And knit I shall.

These bicolour ladders will let me climb to a new, sublime place where I can be my imperfect self, working toward a higher goal, and getting some good knitting time while doing it. Plus, I’ll use up the ugly yarn and not have to look at it ever again!


Recycling Flummoxed Me

Coffee Container

This Nescafé Taster’s Choice coffee container couldn’t be reused or repurposed, much to my dismay. Recycled it.

First Earth Day posterI am big on recycling. My grandparents saved string and told me stories about what it was like during the War.  People saved aluminum foil then, also cooking grease, and fat, the Boy Scouts held paper and rubber drives; all these materials were reused for the war effort. Or maybe it’s a result of the environmental movement, where green was groovy, Earth Day was born in 1970, and recycling centers started to appear. Or perhaps I love recycling because I am frugal at heart and can’t stand to see good stuff wasted.

I dutifully separate my trash and take the recyclables to the basement with pleasure.

green-recycling-icon PSDGraphics

© psdgraphics.com

New York City apartment buildings recycle with assistance from the NYCRecycles program. Blue bags  accumulate recyclable plastic, glass, and metal. Clear bags gather paper. Rigid cardboard boxes get bundled for curbside pickup. The ubiquitous regular black trash bags containing icky stuff also go to the curb. As an experienced trash picker, I walk the city streets with an eye on the “curbside boutique.” Last month I picked up a folding laundry drying rack that only needed a small twist of duct tape to hold a loose rod. This model retails for $30!!!

The other day I was flummoxed by my trash. I put a perfectly good, presumably reusable or repurposeable container from Nescafé Taster’s Choice French Roast coffee into my recycling bag… and hated doing it! I felt quite puzzled because there was nothing I could do to repurpose this container.

blue-recycling-bin-icon PSDGraphics

© psdgraphics.com

  • I don’t need a translucent container for cotton balls (besides, it would smell faintly of coffee even with rinsing).
  • I can’t use it in a centerpiece for the bar mitzvah.
  • It can’t hold loose tea or bagged tea since it’s not completely airtight (though it’s fine for instant coffee since we go through it quickly).
  • My paintbrushes have a home elsewhere. Other skinny items don’t need jar storage.
  • I don’t have space enough to save 12 to use for Purim shalach manos containers.1
  • Although my friend’s mother saved glass jars to store soup and all sorts of food, this container would not fare well in the refrigerator.

Ecology FlagIn fact, at that moment, all I could do was put it in the recycling bag. It seemed like there should have been something else I could have done, but there wasn’t.  So now it is off to the recycling facility, to be melted and used for park benches, carpet, or something else. I still believe in recycling, but it pains me that the jar can’t be reused or repurposed. I photographed the offending object and resolved to contact the company, maybe creating the subject of a future blog post.


1. Gifts of food distributed on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Also called m’shloach manot. Friends did this one year, filling the empty coffee containers with things related to coffee and it was so clever!

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