Category Archives:knitting

Book Review: Knitlandia

Knitlandia by Clara Parkes


  • Title: Knitlandia
  • Author: Clara Parkes
  • Published: February 16th 2016
  • Pages: 160
  • Category: Crafts / Knitting / Nonfiction / Travel / Writing / Essays / Autobiography / Memoir


Building on the success of The Yarn Whisperer, Parkes’s rich personal essays invite readers and devoted crafters on excursions to be savored, from a guide who quickly comes to feel like a trusted confidante. In Knitlandia, she takes readers along on 17 of her most memorable journeys across the globe over the last 15 years, with stories spanning from the fjords of Iceland to a cozy yarn shop in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

Also known for her PBS television appearances and hugely popular line of small-batch handcrafted yarns, Parkes weaves her personal blend of wisdom and humor into this eloquently down-to-earth guide that is part personal travel narrative and part cultural history, touching the heart of what it means to live creatively. Join Parkes as she ventures to locales both foreign and familiar in chapters like:

  • Chasing a Legend in Taos
  • Glass, Grass, and the Power of Place: Tacoma, Washington
  • A Thing for Socks and a Very Big Plan: Portland, Oregon
  • Autumn on the Hudson: The New York Sheep & Wool Festival
  • Cashmere Dreams and British Breeds: A Last-Minute Visit to Edinburgh, Scotland

Fans of travel writing, as well as knitters, crocheters, designers, and fiber artists alike, will enjoy the masterful narrative in these intimate tales from a life well crafted. Whether you’ve committed to exploring your own wanderlust or are an armchair traveler curled up in your coziest slippers, Knitlandia is sure to inspire laughter, tears, and maybe some travel plans of your own.

My Review

**QUICK INFO: I do my best not to have spoilers, but I will warn you I may accidentally have them in my review.**

Ok, I admit it! Reading essays are not my favorite thing to do. I don’t enjoy them & I only read them when I am sitting at a bookstore without my tablet trust me the fact I didn’t have the tablet to read is shocking. I found myself in a surprise trip to town last week & once I completed the required errands I wasn’t feeling completely right 1 & so I thought it would be best to stop & “rest & relax” for a bit before driving home. So I went to my normal “r & r place the local Barnes & Noble. It is a bookstore! So I did my patrol of new knitting books, romance, suspense, horror, magazines, & Elfquest *Yes, I know & No, I don’t care* reading material. Surprisingly I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without but knowing that I was going to have about 45 minutes to three hours to sit & wait till I calmed down required me to find something to read. If I can keep my mind occupied for the most part it doesn’t have the time to make up scenarios that are anxiety & panic filled. Plus, the reading material is good enough I can “slip into” the book world & leave my body & part of my mind in the “real world”. Which means easier & quicker calm down time for me. Luckily enough these essays did the trick. I enjoy each & every story. They all eased my brain from having to come up with scenario & helped prevent my mind from making up ones that would not be good for me.

Clara Parkes is a wonderful writer but unless you enjoy knitting or crocheting I highly doubt you have heard of her. If you don’t kit or crochet then if/when you read her books, you may discover a new found need/want/desire to start knitting or crocheting. They way she talks about knitting makes you want to whip out the needles & knit something. This book talks about her travels & friends within the knitting community. Trust me, it is a very large community. She tells you about the knit retreats *Geesh, I wanna go!* to the travels she goes on for the conventions. Yes, the knitting community has conventions! *Also want to go to one of these. Stupid anxiety & panic disorder.* Even if you are not a fan of knitting you will still enjoy these essays. They are light reading yet provoke thoughts. I do recommend this book if you are just wanting something light to read.

1 This means that my anxiety & panic were running high & if I didn’t get them to calm down I was going to running a very high chance that I would have a seizure & then would require Dad & Brenda to come get me to bring me home. The worst case scenario? Car wreck & trip to the hospital for me. So yep, calm down time.

In The Year….2015

Did you get the song reference?1 I wanna know that I am not the only one that knows this song, lol.

BedSo I thought I would do a year in review this year since so much has happened to me. I don’t know that you will be that interested or that it will be that interesting, lol. But figured that I needed to or should do it. This is going to be a long post (though honestly I think all my posts are long, lol). So bear with me.

I am currently sitting in my bed writing this out the “old-fashioned” way by pen & paper. No telling how many revisions it will go through as I type it into the site, lol. Who knows it probably won’t be anywhere near the same by the time it goes live on the site, lol. Hence, why I normally just type my entries on the fly instead of writing them out. But I am downstairs & my computer is upstairs. Plus, I hate using my computer in my bed cause I try to keep my bed my reading, watching tv, & most importantly sleeping area only. But alas, I am getting off point of the entry once again.

So let’s get started shall we? There are only two issues so not too horrible, but long.

Issue One

scaleIn January 2015 I weighed 400 pounds (yes, four hundred pounds). Was I healthy? Not by my doctor’s standards, but I didn’t have high cholesterol, diabetes, or other diseases that most people that weight do. But I was starting to have a hard time moving around & was in tons of pain. I couldn’t fly, I couldn’t do a lot of things that I wanted to do. There was no way I could go walking or enjoying the outdoors like I want to. B brought up the idea of weight loss surgery & at first I completely dismissed it as more severe then I wanted to deal with. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing my food (I love the taste, texture, & look of food) & I was afraid, very afraid of that idea. But the suggestion stuck & it kept popping up & even though I was actively dieting every 12 pounds I would lose, I would gain them right back. I was doing water aerobics, walking (having a pit bull that loves to walk is a blessing) but I would not lose any weight. I was at my wit’s end. I was dead afraid I was going to be dead by the time I hit 45 from my weight. So I did tons of research (instead of playing Minecraft I was researching) on weight loss surgery & the options available. Talked it over with my friends & family. Surprisingly everyone was supportive with the idea & just wanted to make sure I was healthy & happy. Out of the three (3) types of weight loss surgery I chose the Gastric Sleeve over the the other two options. With the gastric sleeve the body works just the way mother nature designed the body to digest food. The only different is that the stomach is smaller & can only hold about four ounces (4oz). Otherwise, I digest food just the same way any non-gastric surgery person does. Nothing is skipped or bypassed. So I went to a couple of information seminars at my local hospitals & looked into my insurance to see if I could get part of it paid for. I was informed that neither hospital accepted my insurance. Majorly unhappiness happening when one of the nurses took me aside & gave me the information that there was a hospital in Kansas City, KS & Columbia, MO would accept my insurance. So I knew that I was going to have to travel to get my surgery & consults. Then she told me that Blue Valley Surgical Associates had a clinic in Springfield, MO (this town if fairly close to me). RoadThat immediately got me interested so I set up a consult with the office in February 2015 & off I went on the journey of a lifetime. I was approved for my surgery in March & got a surgery date for May 19, 2015. D & B went with me & we spent three (3) nights in Kansas City. Went up the day before surgery, spent the night in the clinic due to my insurance, & then one more night for me to rest before driving the four (4) hours home. Dr. Lawrence J. Drahota, MD was the surgeon that did my gastric sleeve. I have no complaints with my treatment at Blue Valley. In fact everyone one more then nice & wonderful with my care. They all were surprised that I was up & walking less then an hour after waking up from the surgery. But I am never one that likes to be bed ridden or stay in bed. I am always up & moving around no matter what. The seven weeks I was in the hospital for pneumonia just about drove me crazy, lol. break freeBy October 2015 I was down to 350 pounds. Now in January 2016 I am 293 pounds. That is over 100 pounds in eight (8) months. I can not tell you how good it feels to be over 100 pounds lighter. I can move easier & the pain I am in less amount. I can even fly to places in airplanes! I still eat most of my favorite foods just not the same amount & I have to make sure I eat enough protein & drink enough. But my blood work is beautiful & my nurse is quite pleased with my progress. I have to think B for the wonderful meals she prepares that provide me with all the nutrients I need for my weight loss & body. Without the support from my friends & family this weight loss would have never happen. It is amazing that I have gone from wearing 5x (34-36) size clothing to wearing 2x (26-28) clothing & even though they are getting too big also already, lol. My end goal is somewhere between 200 & 250 pounds. Here is hoping!

Issue Two

One of my goals in life is to go to London, see Stonehenge & other prehistoric monument over there. I am adding Paris since I know B wants to go back & I wouldn’t mind seeing the art museum in Paris. That was also one of the reason to lose the weight. At 400 pounds there was no way I could fly. To be perfectly honest, traveling was the main reason for the weight loss before health & looks, lol. I know that isn’t right, but if it got the job done then it is fine. flightIn November 2015 I went on my first flight in my life. Over Thanksgiving week we all flew out to Las Vegas. We went then to avoid the crowds & to make it easier for family members having to figure out how to visit our house along with everyone else’s house. It made for an interesting experience. D actually had to push me onto the plane the first time. I got to the gangway & my brain immediately decided that it wasn’t going to go with this anymore & basically refused to let me move forward all the while telling me that I couldn’t do it. D refused to listen to me & shoved me onto the plane & into my seat, lol. Las Vegas So I flew from Kansas City, MO to Las Vegas, NV. I can tell you this. I dislike the take off & the first turn. After that nothing really bothered me not even the landing. So will I be flying again? Yep, in April 2016 we are all going to Cancun. Yep, beach time for this woman. That is another thing I have always wanted to do. Go to the ocean & see the beach! I can’t wait for it! May make this tax season worth dealing with everything, lol. You can read all about my trip to Las Vegas here.

That is basically the two main things that happened to me this year. It was an exciting year & I hope that 2016 is a exciting year for me also.

1 In The Year 2525 by Zager & Evans

Is It Rude To Knit In Public

I came across this article via my twitter feed.

So I went to the article {here} & read the article. Needless to say, it riled me just a bit.

Well, you all know that I am a knitter. I do it for multiple reasons. The main one? It helps control my anxiety & panic attacks. That means I can leave my house & go into public without a lot of panic attacks. Yes, I take medication for my anxiety, but I automatically have a “flight or fight” response to any outside stimuli (crowds, loud noises, etc). For crying out loud, if I sit directly underneath a speaker at the movie theater I can have a panic attack1. So even though my medication allows me to actually get myself out the door most mornings, I still have anxiety attacks with any other stimuli. It is a horrible mental condition to have & it isn’t made easier by the general public. Some people when they see you are having a problem will actually make it worse even when you have asked them nicely & politely to stop doing what they are doing. So no, public does not make it better or easier.

Yes, I have knitted everywhere I go. I have even managed to knit, walk, shop, & carry on a conservation with two other people all at the same time. Now if I can do that I want you to sit there & tell me that I am not paying attention to what is going on around me. I knit during movies, after I finish eating (I don’t eat a huge amount of food so I finish first), shopping, riding in a car, etc. All while paying attention & carrying on a conservation with those around me. I do admit that I don’t sit in the front row & I never call attention to myself. I only knit small items (aka: socks) while doing it in public so that it is small & I don’t have any wild movements going on.

So no, I do not think it is rude to knit in public. I find talking to someone that is looking at their phone to be much worse then knitting. Most knitters can knit & have their attention split between the knitting & other things. Heck, I knit at stop lights while waiting for it to change to green. I can knit three (3) stitches in that time frame. Yet, I am still watching the light & cars around me.

1 Panic attacks = Grand Mal Seizure
Anxiety Attacks = shakes, running away, or tremors of my whole body, physical sickness, plus multiple other symptoms my brain throws at me to try & get me to leave the stimuli that is causing the problem.

Green Leaves

Whoa! It has been a very long time since I put up a knitting post. It changes now! LOL! B asked me to make a scarf that would transform into a cowl via buttons. Ok, I can do that. So I got some pretty sparkly green yarn
I found a simple chevron scarf that I liked. Started it, hated it, made my own pattern, lol.

One of the main reasons I don’t make scarves is that the length gets in my way as I knit it. I hate taking the extra time to turn everything around each time I start a new row. I knew that I could bundle the length up, but didn’t want to use a binder clip due to the chance it would crush or leave a mark on the knitting. I am sure someone else has hit on this idea, but I didn’t find it when I looked.

Isn’t it pretty? Looks like fir trees running up the scarf. I wanted something different than things I had done before. It is quite a bit longer than what this picture shows. But I didn’t get a pic of the full length yet. I split the skein in half & doing one half & then the other half & kitchner the two halves together. That way I hope the chevrons look cool.

So how did I handle the length getting in my way? I folded up the excess length & then took a piece of string & basted it through the folded length & then tied a bow to keep it all together. So far it is working like a charm.

I can’t believe that I have never thought about doing it this way before. The string holds it, but doesn’t leave any mark. It is just loosely tied so that I can change it or let it out without a second thought.

I don’t know if it will do anyone other than me any good, but I like to pass on tips that either I read about or figure out.

Celestarium WIP

So I was knitting on my Celestarium at the office the other day. A fellow part-time knitter came in & was looking at the picture & the chart & asked:

How do you manage to keep things in order & not lose your place? You put it down & pick it up all the time & I don’t see how you don’t lose your place.

I figured that if I got one question on how I do it, then there are probably others that want to know also. So I shall spill my techniques for keeping track of where I am & how I never (or rarely) lose my spot.

This is a picture of the chart for Celestarium. All credit for the design & such goes to Audry Nicklin. None of it is my doing. So you see all the circle & slashes? Yep, those are special stitches that have to be placed correctly. So how do I manage to handle putting the shawl down often? Simple. I’ll show you.

First, you find a suitable pattern holder. In this instance, Shiloh is being a sweetheart & holding the chart for me. Otherwise I use my magnetic chart holder (this one) or I lay it on top of my laptop keyboard & use a ruler to show my lines. Once I get done with one page (one round is spread over multiple pages) I put a line through the section that I just did. You can see the lines on the paper that is showing what round number I am on.

Next is the fun part. If you look at a knitting chart grid there will be bold lines & non-bold lines. Normally, the bold lines mark 10 stitches. So if you look at the photo on the left you will notice I have three different types of markers & then two different color of the ringers *I threw some of the triangles in so that the silver ringers were more noticeable). Here is how I do it. Look at the right photo above. You will notice that I have silver ringers (or triangles) every ten (10) stitches. You will also see a purple removable stitch marker hanging off of one of the silver ringers. That purple marker is telling me that is where 100 stitches is at. Then you notice the brown (bronze) ringer. That one tells me that I have finished one section (or page) of the chart. Sounds complicated right? It is setting it up sometimes, but I have yet to get lost in my pattern. If I forget where I am at then all I have to do is count the silver ringers from the section start & I know right where I am. When I have to double the stitches then I just add more silver or brown markers where they need to go. I have done this for the entire WIP & I have yet to lose my place. There is one final thing you don’t necessarily need it, but it is helpful & funner if you have it. You can even have more than one if you are up to it.

Helpers!!! Yep, it is fun to have them sitting by you while you knit. Allie is a wonderful helper. She is there to give me kisses of encouragement & cuddles when I need them.

So that is how I am working with Celestarium or any big project that has a lot of stitches or patterns in it. Hope this helps anyone that may need it.