I started knitting a honeycomb stitch cowl neck (the pattern is free over here) in early December, using beautiful three-ply chunky wool yarn in a gorgeous raspberry shade that I purchased from a charming farm-based shop called The Philosopher’s Wool, located in Inverhuron, Ontario. We chanced upon the store while cruising around the countryside during our stay at a nearby cottage last summer. I love knitting cowls and have a small collection of them in my wardrobe. I keep coming back to them because a) they are quick to knit, b) fun, and c) can really showcase the yarn and the stitch used.
I used to knit larger pieces and have a few favourite sweaters in my wardrobe that I made for myself. However, these days I prefer to knit accessories. The reasons for this are: a) a sweater would take me probably about a year to complete, since I don’t currently have enough time to dedicate to the activity and b) I’m working on making my wardrobe more minimal. From a practical perspective, I don’t need many hand-knitted sweaters, but I love to play up an otherwise grey, brown, and black outdoor winter wardrobe with splashes of colour and pretty accessories.
Since early December when I first started working on the cowl, having spent those 30-60 minutes per week on the project and completed it on March 8th, I would estimate that the project took me a total of eight hours to complete. This estimation is solely done for entertainment purposes, as I don’t usually count the number of hours a project requires. Instead, I choose interesting projects on which I enjoy working, and for which I can use gorgeous yarn.
You may notice the pattern is for a longer cowl that can be wrapped around the neck twice. I chose to make it shorter, simply because I prefer shorter cowls that showcase the stitches. Since I used chunky three-ply wool, the stitch on my cowl is more open than in the original photo. I also used a cable needle to knit this piece, but you can get away with a third straight knitting needle, if you wish.
I’m curious… Do you have a project (and it doesn’t have to relate to knitting) to which you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate, yet you persist to work it into your schedule whenever possible? How do you stay motivated?
In other news…
Now that the weather is a bit warmer and spring is trying to make its way over the threshold, Pawel has been working in the garage workshop again, creating new pendants. This is the latest piece, to be added to our website within the next few days:
Over the winter, Pawel has been daydreaming of sandy beaches, but since we haven’t had a chance to travel, he has been living vicariously through our travelling family members and friends. In lieu of the usual souvenirs — and sometimes alongside a few treats — they have been bringing back small samples of sand for us. Pawel has been taking macro photographs of the sand and creating a map of the sand’s origins.
The sand project is a work-in-progress, so check back to see various new photographs of samples that Pawel will add to the site as he receives them from generous world travelers.
It happened about a month ago on a rainy Monday night. I was feeling cold and tired after a day of rushing about, taking care of mundane tasks, ending my day by teaching a late class at a local studio. By the time I arrived at home, I was very ready to tuck myself into bed with a heated blanket.
And then I remembered. I made a promise to my fellow knitters to post a photo of my finished project. Years ago, upon first joining Facebook, I immediately found a group dedicated to the knitting obsessed. The private group has since grown to have some 31,400 members. And the tribe continues to grow, sharing various works in process (WIPs), unfinished objects (UFOs), and finished projects, of course.
Any dedicated knitter, crocheter, or crafter of any kind will immediately understand the excitement and the urge to celebrate a fresh-off-the-needles piece, the stitches of which have just been cast off. Some of us wait until after it’s been blocked to take that final exhalation, have a celebratory glass of wine, and snap a photo to post on social media.
On that rainy evening, I asked Pawel to take a quick photo of tired me wearing the vest I had made as a gift for my mom’s birthday. In fact, I needed two photos — one of the front of the piece and another of the back. The tired version of me also neglected to think of just how critical I would suddenly start to feel upon seeing the photos.
“Oh, I’m wearing my yoga clothes with a hand-knitted vest,” I complained loudly. “And my hair doesn’t look great. Take another one!”
Our quick snapshot was followed by about 10 other snapshots, of which I had to choose two photos to share.
“Should I even bother sharing these?” I asked myself over and over for probably about two minutes before finally taking a deep breath and clicking ‘post.’
I received many compliments on the piece and I suspect not many of the members noticed the yoga clothes I’m wearing in the photos.
With another cringe, a month later, I’ll share the photos with you now.
Do you ever feel nervous about posting photos or stories on social media? Or, has sharing become second-nature for you? Please leave a comment to answer these questions, or to share your stories.
I promised to teach you to knit. So, allow me to begin by sharing our first instructional knitting video in a series of three. In this week’s video, I provide you with a quick tip for choosing the perfect yarn for your first project, show you my favourite cast-on method and teach you the basic knit stitch using the Continental method of knitting. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.
In the second video, to be released on Oct. 17th, I will show you the purl stitch, the lovely sister of the knit stitch. In the first video of the series, to be released on Oct. 24th, I will show you a few variations with the knit and purl stitches, to allow you to play and practice, and teach you how to cast off your first project. To be the first to receive an update in your email inbox as soon as the video is released, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Over the past weekend, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to spend much time on my knitting projects. That was the case for a couple of reasons: (1) Thanksgiving dinner and (2) preparing for an upcoming craft show.
We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Usually, Pawel’s parents host the dinner at their home, but I decided to take on the pleasure this year. I realized this weekend that it was a good decision, as our younger child was feeling under the weather and we wanted to stay close to home, instead of having to drive for 45 minutes there and back.
In any case, our family in Canada is small, and since my parents had a prior commitment and my sister celebrated Thanksgiving with her partner’s family, it was just the four of us, Pawel’s parents, and Pawel’s sister.
We had a lovely dinner for seven people, if I do say so myself. 😉 Here are the photos of the dishes I prepared:
Butternut squash, pumpkin and cranberry soup. The cranberries were an intuitive last-minute addition to the soup and I must say, the tart fresh cranberries mingled well with the sweet taste of the pumpkin and squash.
Field greens salad with apples and fennel, with a dressing that I whipped up intuitively. The secret ingredient was raw honey.
Roasted harvest vegetables.
Roasted brussel sprouts. These are a favourite of mine and I could eat them as a snack anyday! If you have never tried roasting brussel sprouts, simply toss washed and halved brussel sprouts (with the core trimmed and the outer leaves removed) with EVOO or coconut oil and sea salt. Spread them evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F, turning them once after the first 15 minutes. If you are a fan of kale chips, you will probably like this dish.
Slow-cooked lamb roast with cranberry sauce on the side. My mother-in-law always prepares turkey for Thanksgiving, and although we love it, I wasn’t in the mood for turkey this year. Lamb is a big favourite of ours and the cranberry sauce paired beautifully with it.
And of course, apple and cranberry pie for dessert. Although I love pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and make great pumpkin spice muffins, I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. It’s just not my favourite. Instead, we go for apples and cranberries in this delicate flaky pastry.
You may be wondering about whether I followed my usual Ayurvedic eating and food combination rules with this meal. The answer is no, because I do believe that it’s okay to venture off our usual path every once in a while. Instead, I focused on cooking and baking with love and chose the best ingredients while allowing my intuition to guide me to play with a few flavour combinations. The result was a good one for our taste buds and for our bellies.
And now, we’re back to preparing for the Made by Hand Show, to be held next weekend in Mississauga. We will showcase several items that have never been featured on our website.
Last week, someone whom I see from time to time asked me that ubiquitous question and after throwing my auto-pilot answer back at her in a raspy voice, making some small talk and then walking away, I realized that no, I did not feel ‘great.’ Someone told me many years ago that if we always answer that question with a big smile, we might be able to fool even ourselves into feeling as wonderful as we say we feel. All those years, I carried that belief with me, subconsciously. But last week, I realized that I wasn’t fooling anyone. I should also note that, as an INFP, I couldn’t say that I’m a fan of making small talk. Could that be the real reason behind the auto-pilot answer I continued to give?
I was dealing with yet another cold, which later turned into laryngitis. I barricaded myself as best as I could inside my house and only went out to drop off and pick up my children at school. Amidst the misery of a runny nose, sore throat and a disgusting cough, I realized something: when I didn’t need to struggle to raise my voice to make myself heard through the noise of the boys throwing toys around or having an argument, I was enjoying being a hermit. Again, I could dump this one on my MBTI, or perhaps I just felt exhausted. I’m extremely thankful to two wonderful ladies who were able to sub for the classes that I was supposed to teach last week.
To be honest, isolating myself from the world proved to be useful as I had some extra time, in-between cooking, cleaning and looking after my family (moms can never truly take a sick day), to knit on the couch.
I chose to ignore the mess around me. To give you an idea of what it looked like, I’ll share this photo of just a fraction of my living room:
I’ve come to praise myself on my admirable barefoot agility around Lego on the floor.
Last week, I finished knitting booties for my boys, which they will receive for Christmas. I also finished my moms’ birthday gift, the pictures of which I will post in a few weeks, after I present it to her. And lastly, I decided to take on a quick project for myself. After all, I was feeling under the weather and needed some cheering up.
I used beautiful kettle-dyed Peruvian wool from my stash to whip up these boot cuffs, and now, I’m looking forward once again to the return of the cooler weather.
Speaking of weather, Toronto has been basking in the return of the summer, but with warm golden foliage. I finally felt well enough on Sunday to get out with my family to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Indian Summer. I have always loved that name for this particular time of autumn. In Russian, it’s known as Butterfly Summer. I haven’t spotted very many butterflies over the past week, but I have seen many dragonflies, including this busy lady hovering above the pond in the backyard of my parents-in-law.
Do you see it, right in the middle of the photo above? It was zooming around and wouldn’t stop to rest and take a breather, or pose for a photo.
Who said it’s the spring season that makes people walk a bit faster, with renewed enthusiasm? In the warm golden days of late September, everyone is preparing the harvest for the inevitable colder days… Just ask the raccoon neighbour that was recently evicted from our shed, where it laid out a cozy — and smelly — home for itself, right above our garbage and recycling bins.
Do you see how many acorns that busy squirrel is carrying in its mouth? Isn’t it amazing how nature adapts to the changes all around? Even squirrels, with their Vata energy, take naps from time to time, as I have seen one squirrel do recently in our backyard. I’ll take that as a sign that it’s more than okay for us to make time to rest during this busy season, in-between tending to our turf.
We need to ground and enjoy our mini-vacations, even if they last 10 minutes before someone comes calling, “Mommy, can I have a snack?”
How do we find the right balance between the buzz and high-energy of the everyday life and the need to get back to our roots, recharge and just be? I will continue to play hermit from time to time, hopefully as a way of preventing another cold before it sneaks up on me.
I read this wonderful poem by Robert Whyte the other day. He posted it on his Facebook page and I have copied and pasted it here. The wonders of technology!
is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…
Reading the poem again, I feel traces of guilt, due to taking too much down time, start to melt away. So, I give you permission to do the same. Rest, recharge, and allow yourself the space to show up as you are.
Thoughts? Tips? Words of wisdom? Share them with me in a comment!
Now that we are mostly feeling better, we have been going outside every day to enjoy the changing landscape and enjoy the crisp chill in the air. Apple-picking is a favourite fall activity for our family. The boys always get a thrill out of running through the orchard and choosing the juiciest apples they can find. So, on Sunday, we dressed warmly and headed to our favourite organic orchard to pick apples.
Upon returning home with our delicious bounty, I was filled with inspiration to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal and heart-warming. More on that below.
In Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by Vata, which is composed of ether and air. It’s no surprise that for many of us, this season also signifies the start of the cold virus. The lazy, lingering summer days are rarely strictly structured, keeping us up late at night and encouraging us to take cat naps in the hot and hazy afternoons. The following fall season signifies a complete change in energy. Suddenly, everything moves faster as we try to get back to our regular routine, sometimes anxiously struggling to keep up. This sudden change in routine can be incredibly stressful for the body and the mind.
As someone with a dominant Vata dosha and a bit of Pitta, I love the fall season for the relief it provides from the humid and hot summer days. However, I get cold very quickly and when it seems to me like most people around me are walking around in September with short-sleeved t-shirts on, I can be seen wearing a cozy sweater. I no longer feel self-conscious about this. I do what I need to do to take care of myself.
What else do I do to take care of myself, following the lessons of Ayurveda for the Vata season? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you what I do, and please feel free to borrow these ideas for your own self-care, particularly if your constitution is mostly Vata.
I go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. every night and wake up at 5 a.m. This ensures that I get 7-8 hours of sleep on most nights. In the morning, after oil pulling and brushing my teeth, I drink a tall glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and then exercise for an hour (yoga, cardio, pilates, or weights). After I shower, I do an oil massage before sitting down to have breakfast.
I eat at approximately the same times every day: breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; lunch at 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; dinner at 5-5:30 p.m. I consume a lot of healthy oils (avocado, coconut oil, EVOO) and hot, unctuous, mostly liquid foods such as steel-cut oats with cooked apples and cinnamon, soup, vegetable stews, etc. I still eat my greens (kale and spinach are great), but I either sprinkle the leaves on a hot bowl of stew/soup or consume a salad massaged with a lot of oil (see above) immediately prior to eating my soup/stew. I eat cooked/roasted root vegetables with — again — lots of oil. Why is oil consumption so important? The air and ether qualities of Vata mean that during this season, we have a tendency to feel dryness. We need the moisture, both on the surface of the skin and on the inside of the body.
If you, like I do, eat meat occasionally, I would suggest eating salad (at room temperature), followed by lean meat at lunchtime. Our digestion is strongest from 10 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. As such, my substantial meals are breakfast and lunch. Dinner for me is small and simple. Usually, I will have a bowl of soup with a toast of sprouted grains topped with avocado and sea salt. Eating dinner before the sun sets is also ideal, because our digestive system slows down after sundown. Of course, since the sun starts to set earlier these days, it’s best to try to eat dinner at around 5 p.m., if possible.
Interested in additional information on self-care during this season? I love this website and use it frequently as a great resource.
So, to summarize, this is a time to sloooooow down and get grounded, luxuriate under warm blankets, eat grounding food with healthy oil, and get plenty of rest. What about exercise? That, too, should be more grounding at this time. Long walks are excellent, as is a yoga practice with slow, deliberate Vinyasa and standing/balance postures held for a few long breaths. Restorative yoga is excellent right now.
A couple of years ago, shortly after our younger son was born, I felt I needed to get outside and move, but I also craved rest and relaxation to get me through the long days of taking care of our two children. And no, that pattern has not changed. Here is a video I made during that time, a how-to of one of my favourite restorative yoga postures, Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose):
Feel free to use a few blankets and cushions in lieu of the bolsters and blocks, if you do not have those at home. Relax and breathe in the pose for about 10-15 minutes.
So, back to the weekend… Here is what I cooked using butternut squash and the beautiful apples we picked on Sunday:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP
We started with a few basic ingredients:
Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…
We reserved the butternut squash seeds and roasted them later on a baking sheet at 300F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or sea salt to the seeds this time, but that’s a great option, if it’s the way you like your pumpkin/squash seeds.
Cook the squash and onions in a large soup pot, and then add the apples, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground turmeric.
Add enough distilled water to cover the chopped squash and apple, and then top with another 3-4 inches of water. You can use vegetable stock in lieu of the water.
Bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is completely tender. Allow to cool a bit before using a blender to create a smooth consistency:
Yes, our soup was steaming hot while we blended it, simply because we were hungry and our children kept asking when dinner was going to be served. I would highly recommend allowing the soup to cool before blending it.
To serve, we sprinkled the soup with cinnamon, but those roasted seeds were also great. We garnished the soup with the seeds for dinner the following day.
1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or butter can also be used)
1 medium-sized white or yellow onion
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with the seeds reserved for roasting
2 apples (choose firm, tart apples that will hold well together during the cooking process)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Enough water to cover the chopped squash and apples, plus 3-4 inches on top. An alternative is to add vegetable stock.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
Our final update is regarding our latest product finishes. We are preparing for the Made by Hand Show and creating new, unique, interesting pendants for you.
Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.
SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.
We do like insects! Praying mantis pendant, made of Purpleheart wood with crushed shell inlay.
As always, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our new products, this week’s recipe, yoga pose, or about whether you enjoy the fall season as much as we do. If you did take the Dosha quiz (link above), let us know what your Dosha is and how you cope with weather changes.
I was always the conscientious student throughout high school and university. I would manage all my assignments perfectly, planning for the entire semester after the first day of classes, to ensure that the rough copies of all my assignments would be completed well in advance of the dates on which they were due. That way, I had plenty of time to proofread them a few times and ensure that they were polished and as impeccable as they could be before handing them in. I stayed committed to one project at a time, working meticulously, and took pride in my work.
Several years later, as a crafty business owner, my true scatter-brained artist persona has emerged. I could blame it on my scattered lifestyle. After all, I do spend at least 12 hours a day taking care of two very busy and often rambunctious boys who keep me on my toes. But truth be told, I just decided to…
Many knitters will readily admit to having several work-in-process projects (WIPs) on the go at one time. I have been knitting regularly for the past 12 years and before now, managed to keep to one project at a time. Oh yes, I spent many hours knitting and purling while salivating over the next piece I was going to take on. But I abstained from pursuing it until the first one was complete. Perhaps it’s my INFP personality and Vata constitution that make me feel easily overwhelmed. But lately, I decided to set all Type-A organized behaviour aside and decided to let myself work on whatever I feel like pursuing at the moment.
That way, if I get bored of working on something and there’s pretty yarn in the corner that’s loudly calling my name, I can simply leave the original project aside and migrate to the new one.
A few of my current WIPs.
Sounds perfect, until I start to feel knitter’s remorse, for only a split second. I decided a couple of years ago to not allow myself to feel guilt over projects.
Besides, my straying never lasts very long. I just take short breaks to work on adorable projects, like these mukluk slippers that I knit for my older son. They only took about three hours to make, and he was excited to try them on. Here he is, modeling one of his ‘Harry Potter socks.’
And then, I get back to my ‘bigger’ projects with renewed enthusiasm. So, perhaps there might be a method to what feels to me like utter crafty madness.
Pawel also works on many woodworking WIPs at a time, and assures me that he definitely feels a bit overwhelmed with it all from time to time. So, at least we’re on the same page. 😉
We’d love to hear from you! If you’re a fellow crafter, let us know how many WIPs you work on at a time, and whether you also run into similar ‘dilemmas.’ Leave a comment and let us know!
P.S. I do not currently sell the items I knit. However, I am working on an exciting Dharma Wanderlust branch project that involves knitting and other passions of mine. We will inform you of it soon.