28 May 2010

Episode 91: How to Be a Poet

We’re off into the woods looking for bracken, and answers to the deep philosophical questions of life that may be found in the stitches of an Alice Starmore sweater. I’ll tell you how trigger points help knitting-related repetitive stress injuries, how the builders next door are nearly ready to stop ruining my life, and how I’m coming to terms with the impending birthday of doom. I also ‘splain why I’ve been away from the mic for so long (in case you missed the memo.) Whew!

For more information in Trigger Point therapy, click here, and here. For shoulders, buy the Frozen Shoulder Workbook, for all other repetitive stress injuries, buy the all purpose Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. I have both. They worked for me.

Look! I can knit again! (This is Mom’s shawl; its twin is on the needles.) The pattern is Bitterroot. The fiber is hand spun BFL roving from Briar Rose Fibers.

This week’s Audible pick is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Click here for your free audio book.

The knitting book that made a middle-aged woman who knows better pull an all-nighter, Sweater Quest: My year of knitting dangerously, is available here, and here. Thanks to Adrienne Martini for taking the time to talk with me about knitting and life.

Read the rest of How to Be a Poet, by Wendell Barry. (I know you will.)

The results of the Bracken Experiment are below. Clockwise from upper left – three skeins orange yellow (from onion skins) that I do like, a single skein of the original yarn, a single skein of the gold colour (onion skins and alum) that I didn’t like, (but am glad I saved); just below the gold, two skeins of pale green gray that I tossed into the pot the next morning. (I’m so glad I did that!) to use up the dye stock solution; below them three skeins of darker green gray, from the first batch, and to their left, the two over-dyed skeins that were gold, but are now more olive. Not a huge difference between the dark greens, it must be said, but I’ll probably use the over dyed gold in the yoke of my planned Fair Isle, just to be safe. All I need now are some hot colors. Maybe a green close to the shade of the actual bracken, or a bright clear pink. What do you think?

KniTunes were provided by and used with the permission of:

Additional music by Allison Williams and Chance McCoy, with thanks!



  1. Larry Fenske wrote:

    I’m so glad you’re knitting again. It must have been torture.

    I’m excited about your natural dye experiments. I’d much rather knit with (and have an article from) natural, home-made dyes than commercial chemicals.

    (BTW, the results of the Bracken Experiment are described from upper left, not upper right. It confused me at first.)

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  2. Juliet wrote:

    Yay!!!! I’m so happy you’re back! I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed your podcast until you were gone. Thank you so much for everything you add to my life.

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  3. Thanks, Larry, for letting me know about the wonky directions. *facepalm*

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  4. monbouton wrote:

    hello Brenda !
    I’m glad to hear you back and I’m off listening to the latest episode !

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  5. Barb Thams wrote:


    It’s so good to have you back and well again. I’ve really been missing Cast On.

    Looking forward to seeing you & Tonya in October (CraftLit trip to the UK).


    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  6. Glad you’re back! I too have been undergoing trigger point therapy from a great massage therapist, and I once again have full use of my arms and hands. 10+ years slumped at a computer keyboard ruined my posture and resulted in Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (find out about this in the book “It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”). What relief! I can work, knit and spin without excessive pain. Still a work in progress, but 150% better than the incredible shooting pains I once had…

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  7. Holly wrote:

    I am so overjoyed to hear your voice again. 🙂

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  8. KRBWolthuis wrote:

    YAY!!!! I am so glad you’ve found a way to heal your shoulder and be able to knit again–AND podcast!!! I’ve really missed you!

    I had to give up knitting for a year due to carpal tunnel issues. I taught myself crocheting near the end of that hiatus which actually seemed to help.

    Your shawl is lovely–I’ve been eying that pattern myself. ;^D

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  9. Amanda wrote:

    I was so excited to see the name of the latest blog post- I had to reread it and immediately check iTunes to download the episode.

    What a difference 5 months makes! I remember listening to episode 90 back in January with the last bits of a snowfall melting away outside. Today, listening to episode 91, staying inside the cool house and away from the aleady-90 degree weather, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed your show.

    My daunting project that I’d like to complete one day is a collaboration. My boyfriend wants me to teach him how to knit. He decided this after falling in love with Rowan’s Bamboo Tape and we then came up with the idea of slowing plugging away at a blanket made of this stuff (or something similar. He know understands how expensive a blanket would end up being), each of us knitting squares and then sewing it all together. I think about how long it could take to make a blanket big enough for the both of us to fit underneath, and how heavy it would be, but the fact that he is interested in and respectful of my hobby means the world.

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  10. Ursa wrote:

    It’s lovely to hear your voice again. We missed you here in West Coast Canada. I love listening to your podcasts while I’m at my dyepots (with acid dyes, not natural). Can’t wait to see what you end up doing for the next series in the fall.


    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  11. Stacey wrote:


    So happy to have you back!

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  12. Julie wrote:

    Good to hear you again. Great podcast! I don’t really have any “epic” plans in knitting but I do want to try dyeing my own wool one of these days. I had a wonderful visit to your chosen country earlier this month. My cousin took me all around the Brecon Beacon area and down the Gower Peninsula. Absolutely beautiful, I was smitten.

    Posted on 5.28.10 ·
  13. Jery wrote:

    Welcome back Brenda!!
    It’s wonderful to hear your voice again! I am so glad that you are healing and are able to do the things that you enjoy once more.
    What a great episode! It was nice to get a sneak peek into a conversation between you and Tonya.
    The poem was incredibly moving, and thank you for sharing.
    I haven’t been knitting that long, so I have yet to make my first sweater of any kind, so I think that would have to be what my goal is: to make a sweater that fits well and is not a mess.
    Thanks again for a job well done!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  14. AnnP wrote:

    You have made the holiday weekend 10 times better now that I have a brand-new Cast On episode on my iPod. I have missed your Audible reviews. So good to have you back.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  15. Susan wrote:

    Welcome Back!
    So glad you are well enough to knit and podcast. Thanks for the links to the Trigger Point book. I have a back buddy but was using it where the soreness was. Now I’ll finally know where to poke.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  16. Tamara wrote:

    Job well done. Hearing your voice brought me that wonderful joy of remembering a long lost friend. I, too, turn 50 this week. Wow. Here’s to our future job well dones, making memories, and knitting like the wind. Thank you, as always it was such a joy to spend time with you!

    As for my epic project plans, I was gifted a 4 harness floor loom last week. I have a multitude of epic plans with this amazing gift.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  17. Annetta wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    It is indeed wonderful to have you back, and the Bitterroot looks FABulous!

    Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for the trigger point information – my fiance is a happier man because of it.

    I’m orf to listen to you now,

    Blackwall, Australia

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  18. Welcome Back Brenda! Wow! Happy Dance time! You are back! I’m sorry, so sorry to see that you had to completely stop knitting. I’m grateful that the new therapy helps so much!… Not just for the prospects of everyday living, but sometimes a girl has just gotta scratch under that bra strap. :o)
    Meanwhile, the epic Knitting Project I’ve taken on is a patchwork quilt.
    It’s a family project. I’ve inherited pounds of yarn, in tiny balls, from my mother and my grandmother. Both of whom are hopefully in heaven. I’m a third generation fiber artist. I was not taught by my mother, or any family member. I had to learn from a book, as my mother gave up custody of me when I was four years old.
    A couple of years after Mom died, my sister approached me with a trunk FULL of yarn. All colors, all types. The yarn was from shortly after WWII onward.
    (Including the horrific 60’s and 70’s acrylic)
    With no clue what to do, I gathered the yarn and found my mother and grandmother’s ufo’s. Treasures from a Christmas stocking to a crocheted tea cup.
    Treasures that brought tears to my eyes.
    Not knowing what to do with the yarn, I brought some of the ufos out and display them. But I set the greater part of the yarn aside. I began to add tiny balls from the ends of my projects to the stash.
    Recently, my father, now in his later seventies began scrounging the auction houses in the area for my interests as well as his own. He buys me yarn, and for 20.00 we scored fifty pounds of yarn.
    Let me repeat this. We scored fifty pounds of yarn at auction for 20.00.
    Inside the box, are many more of those little balls of yarn, as well as whole skeins of miscellaneous brands and types of yarn. A treasure trove of possibilities.
    I cast on. Size 8 bamboo needles (my favourite), a cup of hot coffee, and me.
    I started using short rows, then turning corners, and making diamond shapes. Each end gets spliced to the next, or tied to another. Any size yarn, fingering weight to whichever… My inheritance, as varied as the brave women, and man I’ve inherited it from, goes into my patchwork quilt.
    Thank you Brenda, And Tonya for a lovely podcast! I raise a glass of iced tea to you.
    Louise Ann Benjamin
    Worthington, MN

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  19. Rachel wrote:

    So glad to hear your voice again! I love the bracken project. My epic project is still in progress. Mom and I dyed about 8 oz of corriedale last summer in 3 different shades of plum. This winter I managed to spin all the fiber and now waiting for the inspiration to knit the Aeolian shawl the yarn was made specifically for. A year long project that hopefully be completed by August.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  20. Leslie wrote:

    Welcome back. What a perfect treat on a wet Chilliwack morning! Heading for my pointy sticks coffee in had and a smile on my face!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  21. NurseRatchknit wrote:

    Woot! Can’t wait to listen!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  22. So glad you’re back, Brenda and very happy that you’re well and knitting again. As a Brit living in the States, I’ve really enjoyed your ’20 mile Radius’ theme this season. For a moment I’m always transported home!
    Congratulations on your 50th. As a wise woman who’d survived two brain tumours, once told me; celebrate a birthday, it means you’ve LIVED for another year!

    BTW – love the bracken green with your natural dyes.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  23. Cristina wrote:

    Brenda, so glad to hear you are better! I’m very glad that the trigger point therapy worked, and just as much that you checked with your doctor about it. I hope you get to see a physio soon, if you are still waiting.

    It’s not too late to learn Portugese! My father started learning English in his fifties, and has been really enjoying it. Learning a language is always good.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  24. Brenda,
    I am soooo glad you’re back! I’ve missed Cast On!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  25. Leslie wrote:

    From a LONGtime listener and lurker — great episode. Glad to have you back. I loved the interview with Adrienne Martini. My epic knitting project was a 63-square afghan that took 9 months to make. I started out following a pattern but then got the idea to personalize some squares. So I have squares featuring the initials of me and my husband and my two children, a silhouette of a Golden Retriever and a cat, a self-designed square of the Golden Gate Bridge (we live in San Francisco), etc. It was a labor (emphasis on labor!) of love. I blogged about it here: http://morewithles.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/afghan-as-biography/

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  26. Kate in Somerset wrote:

    Sally Melville apparently said that ‘everything benefits from a shot of chartreuse’!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  27. AnnDS wrote:

    YAY! You’re back! You always make my laundry-putting-away-time and ironing-time just fly! AnnDS in Ohio

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  28. Sarah Evans wrote:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. It was good to hear your voice again and to get the update on life in Wales. Thanks.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  29. Nancy wrote:

    Dear Brenda,
    So good to hear you sounding like yourself again. I’ve missed your wit and wisdom.
    I hope it’s not too late for you to learn Portugese, as I, at 55, intend to learn German, for my 2 wee half-German grandchildren. As it turns out, the best way to learn a new language is from a two-year-old- it’s fun and they speak in very short sentences!
    And I hope this doesn’t dull your newly shiny outlook on turning 50, but you’re entering your SIXTH decade- the fifth one’s almost over. But hey, it’s only numbers!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  30. I’m thrilled to have you back again Brenda.

    I don’t have any year-long epic projects, but two years ago I challenged myself to knit a (teen-ager sized) lace hoodie in size three needles. I was amazed to have it done in about a month (I’d expected it to last all summer).

    On the other hand there was the time I knit “Binary”, slipping stitches rather than actually knitting in the round. I’d thought I would have it done in a few weeks, but my Ravelry project page assures me it took four full months.

    So, take your pick. One of them is my epic.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  31. Dee wrote:

    Hooray!!!! You’re back!!!!! What a lovely suprise I got when I went to load up my iPod this morning and up popped a new Cast On episode. So glad you are feeling better, too.
    ps- I think a dash of chilli red would look good for your new sweater.

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  32. Val wrote:

    So glad to hear you are knitting again. What torture! I love the olive green and I vote for pink or black for the sweater. I had an epic project in dyeing myself last summer with yes you guessed it, avocadoes. Since I own a Mexican restaurant I thought that this would be the greatest recycling project ever. You said it the best when you described your yarn as flesh colored. But I’ve heard black bean juice makes a lovely pink so this may be my next natural dyeing adventure!
    Happy Knitting!

    Posted on 5.29.10 ·
  33. Alex wrote:


    What a wonderful podcast. I was walking my pup, Abby, while I listened, and had a great time listening to you once more. I, also, read Sweater Quest already, on my Kindle, no less! However, my over-the-top project would have to be the Aeolian shawl that I knit in a little over a month last year for my dear friend Charlotte, and while I gave it to her and she loves it, the shawl will always be something I remember that truly pushed me as a knitter and a person.


    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  34. Lorri wrote:

    Welcome back. Once the podcast began, it was like you were never away and we picked up right where we left off.

    Thanks for the information about myofascial trigger point therapy. I just recently have begun having excruating pain in my shoulder. My massage therapist has provided some relief, however everytime we think we’ve got the knot worked out we find more and run out of time. And quite honestly, I can’t afford to go everyday which is what it will really take to “cure” this. So, immediately after listening to your podcast, I drove to the nearest book store and purchased The Frozen Shoulder Workbook. Thank goodness for a long holiday weekend where I can read the entire thing and start doing my own self-treatment in between the massage sessions.

    Glad to have you back!! You may have saved my sanity!

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  35. Sandy wrote:

    Welcome back, Brenda! You were sorely missed.

    My epic knitting was the Susie Hoodie from More Big Girl Knits. I’ve always dreaded knitting myself a sweater, as I am a “big girl”, but this sweater was irresistible. I was resisting the Ravelympics this past winter, but when the Yarn Harlot went ahead with her Knitting Olympics, I decided to go for it.

    I cast on Friday evening during the Opening Ceremonies and knit for 17 days on my hoodie, neglecting my beloved socks that were on the needles. When the Olympics closed, I had knit to the neckline (sleeves included), and I was ready to start the hood. And, while I did not complete the sweater and get a gold medal, I still consider it a success.

    It took me another 2 weeks to finish my sweater and, even though I did a gauge swatch, it was a little on the snug side. Regardless, I really like wearing it and people never ask me if I knit it even though they know that I am an avid knitter (they always see me with socks OTN). In fact, recently someone asked if I’d completed anything lately and when I pointed to the sweater that I was wearing, they said “You knit THAT?!?!?”

    Come to think of it, is it a compliment if someone implies that your knitting looks store bought?

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  36. Susan from Northern CA wrote:

    So glad you’re feeling better, and you’re back! Great news, all. Of course you had to get well. We just missed you….

    Re. a big project, that would have been last summer’s effort where I took 2 fleeces from a friend, skirted, and scoured them, dyed them (not with natural dyes, but still my own work), and had them processed into spinnable fiber. I spun it in the fall, and began knitting. I’ve nearly finished a vest, which I’m going to frog, to start again. And I have enough for a sweater, in a slightly different colorway. Very satisfying project.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  37. Julie wrote:

    What a lovely way to start my morning! I ran and got my “good knitting” when I stumbled upon your new podcast. Thank you so much. I especially enjoyed the real-life noises and laughter associated with your natural dye project.
    My “epic project” was truncated by my need to get it off the needles! I originally cast on with remnants of yarn from other projects, mostly made for family members and myself. I knit on it during my father’s sudden stay in hospice and cast off immediately after seeing the film “Babies.” It took me through an illness, death, and helped shift my mind back toward fresh life. I love that knitting does mental things for me; that physical progress led me through emotional processes as well. I have no doubt that another epic project will present itself sometime soon, but I’m not going to actively pursue one.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  38. Corie wrote:

    Oh, it was so good to hear your voice agai, Brenda. Thank you for this podcast.

    So far, my big epic knitting project has been the Corrie Fair Isle vest, from Knitpicks. I completely fell in love with fair isle knitting, and lost whatever lingering fears I had of steeking.

    And I’ve chosen my next epic project- Alice Starmore’s Roscalie cardigan. As you and Adrienne talked about, I don’t know if this can truly be called a Starmore sweater since I plan on changing colours and maybe doing a few small shaping alterations, but it will be epic.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  39. Sarah/Scienceprincess wrote:

    I’m glad your shoulder is doing better 🙂

    My epic knitting project is the Firebird sock by Tsarina. I am almost done with it, and it is as gorgeous in person as in the picture . . . Too gorgeous for words.

    Take care.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  40. E-Clare wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    My grand knitting dream project is Debbie New’s blue and white fair-isle tea-cup. Loved your pod cast!

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  41. Mimi K wrote:

    I was so happy to see a new CastOn podcast! I have missed them so much. And, I am not a knitter. It is wonderful to hear you are on the mend. I loved the part where you talked about why you do the podcast. It resonated with me and why I blog. Your passion and enthusiasm shines through.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  42. PaulaK wrote:

    I’m away from home and sick to boot; listening to your podcast last night made me feel home. So glad to have you back.

    My big project is not really big for most, but for me, who often likes to do small quick projects, Lizard Ridge is a task. I had a class years ago and completed about two inches and just stopped, getting tempted by other pretties. But this year, I am hoping to either finish or frog my old UFOs and while I thought this afghan would be the first to be frogged, something has pushed me to work on it. A sign of maturity? Stubbornesss? I cannot say I know for certain, but I am happy that the squares are piling up and this project might actually become an FO this year.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  43. Deb in California wrote:

    What can I say?; I always prefer to use few words. So, Brenda, thank you for sharing yourself with us during the last 5 years. My life is brighter for having you as one of it’s stars.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  44. Natascha wrote:

    SO glad you’re back! Although I would have had plenty of episodes to keep me busy for quite some time since I only recently discovered your podcast, I’m very happy to hear that you are on your way to wellness!

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  45. LoriAngela wrote:

    So glad to hear your voice. The podcast is always worth waiting for.
    My present epic project is knitting an aran sweater for each of my nine nephews. I’m on nephew number 5, but this one will be for number 6 because he’s bigger and it has a better chance of fitting. I plan to cap it off next year (maybe).

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  46. So glad to hear you back! I loved hearing about the epic knitting.

    My closest to epic is the 7 years spent knitting my Kaffe Fassett Waterlilly Cardigan, it came as a kit from a shop that used to be in Holborn, London, called Reiss Wools (I wonder if anyone else remembers it?) it was just rows of constantly changing lovely Rowan Yarns and it was only the second thing I ever knit – it seemed to take forEVER but I love it, wonky fronts and all!!

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  47. Juliann wrote:

    Gosh! It was so good to hear your voice and to know that you are back. Even if part-time through the summer is great!
    Three things to comment:
    1) I am a retired occupational therapist. Thanks for mentioning myofascial trigger point therapy. It is a great thing. I have a very old nerve injury to the upper part of my neck, and my bestest friend that is a physical therapist and a massage therapist does this treatment when I am “hurting”.
    2)Back in the day (late 1970’s), before internet, of course, there were never the variety of dyes and discussion of dyes. I started with local fauna and I dye like you do. I try to follow the directions-sort of-and then when I don’t like it, I do something else. There does come a time when you have to sigh, quit, and be happy with what you get. I think your colors are splendid. The gold is nice as an accent. Also, try dyeing fleece. You can blend it with other colors to get the color you want.
    3)When I was turning 50, I did the freak out thing. I then decided to just call it My Jubilee. I had a HUGE camping trip planned,and lots and lots of folks came to celebrate. It actually was very memorable. Much better than the 40th. It is better than dreading it-just plan a huge celebration of your life!
    Welcome back.

    Posted on 5.30.10 ·
  48. Anna wrote:

    It’s been wonderful to listen to a new Cast-On, and it’s wonderful to hear that you’re doing better. I read “Sweater Quest” as soon as I could get a hold of it at the library and loved it. My own epic project was started as an Olympic knitting project and now languishes in the knitting basket in my living room. I was going to knit a rug using old rags. It’s knit in one long strip, in garter stitch, and sewn up afterwards to make a round rug. It seemed like a great idea, and very doable, but I hadn’t bargained on the fact that I hate large needles and using 12 mm needles made my hands feel really awkward. What is practiced and simple and swift when I use 2 mm DPNs suddenly becomes clumsy and slow when I jump to straight needles a centimetre thicker than the tiny needles I love. I’m okay with bigger needles than that, since I knit sweaters on 6 and 5 mm needles, but the ones that look like they could be stakes for killing vampires stump me. Someday, I’m going to pick it up and finish it. In the meantime, I still don’t like knitting with anything larger than size 6.5 needles.

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  49. Matt wrote:

    Joy of joys, you’re back!

    My epic project is a fleece-to-sweater project – I have a near black Gotland lamb fleece which I am going to prepare, spin (I’m going to partake in the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry this year), and then knit a sweater. I’m sure it will be a piece of cake 🙂

    I’m so glad that you have your pain issues under control and that you are continuing to share your life with all your knitsibs, we love you for it 🙂

    Best wishes,

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  50. Kathy wrote:

    It’s good to hear that you feel well enough to work again!
    My epic project is one during which the yarn was able to be knit TWICE! It’s a pie shawl ala EZ, but after I finished the full circle and pinned it out to be blocked, I noticed that one row of the lace holes was off by one stitch! Needless to say, I frogged it to before the mistake which was about 2/3 back. With no life lines, it took me awhile to get up the gumption to fix all of the stitches and figure out where I was in the pattern. I am now well on my way to finishing–again–and I’ve put life lines in about every 10 rows.

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  51. Tracy wrote:

    Hi Brenda

    I’m so glad your back – I’m wandering slowly through your archive (I’m up to number 51) and as a relatively new knitter you really inspire me.

    My epic project well, its going to be my first sweater which I will cast on at the end of the summer. I’ll let you know how I get on


    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  52. Martha wrote:

    Great to have your recent podcast to keep me going while doing some clutter control! Of course, I had to take a break when you poured all that water into the bucket! LOL My current fiber project seems to be marathon baby blanket making. I’m of grandmother age and seem to have a lot of daughter age friends! I’ve reverted to crochet, which I’ve done for 35 years, rather than knitting, a skill I’m still acquiring. 🙂

    Welcome back, I’m so glad you’re healing.

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  53. Penelope wrote:

    Oh, Brenda, it was grand to hear your dulcet tones once again. The episode seemed somehow more intimate than I remember, probably because of the bracken dyeing session recording.

    As for my epic knitting experience, I knitted Alice Starmore’s Rowena cardigan years ago, when Scottish Campion was easily to be acquired. Something like 16 colors or so, tunic length. I loved knitting it, steeking it, and love it still, years later.

    Welcome back!

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  54. teresa c. wrote:

    It isn’t that hard to learn portuguese, especially if you listen to it a lot. But remember that brazilian accent is very very different than portuguese one! 🙂 Any way, I was touched with your wish, since I’m portuguese.
    Thank you for your podcast, I missed you!

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  55. Tracy Hoover wrote:

    Great to have you back in the saddle! I’ll raise a glass this evening to a continuing improvement in your health.

    My epic knitting aspiration is a fair isle cardigan of my own design, as required for the TKGA Master Knitter Level III. (I just submitted my level II work.)

    But give the book to someone else if my comment comes up a winner – I just bought my own copy last week and stayed up way too late reading it also.

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  56. Wendy wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I’m only up to your podcast 11. I know you say early on to be patient with newbie podcasters, but you really are among the best. many thanks,

    Wendy in SC

    Posted on 5.31.10 ·
  57. karen4 wrote:

    Brenda, welcome back! My epic was just this month.
    Q) What good can come from a broken ankle?
    A) Extra time to sit and knit. Ene’s Scarf trounced me about four years ago–just couldn’t figure it out at the time. I now have a lovely tussah silk one.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  58. Susan wrote:

    Welcome back- it is wonderful to hear and see that you are in recovery mode. Enjoy the flexibility and being well!

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  59. Thanks for another podcast, it was wonderful as always! My husband has setup the living room sound system so we can hook in the i-pod and I have to say your sound quality is wonderful even on a large scale 🙂

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  60. Emily wrote:

    Beautiful dye results! Love them!

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  61. Kristine M. wrote:

    I love hearing you again, Brenda. I hope your health continues to improve.

    My epic project is a lace shawl. I want to knit a Pi Shawl, the Shoalwater Shawl, or the Peace Shawl. I have almost mastered socks and lace is my next challenge. I’m not brave enough for an Alice Starmore project.

    Thank you for your podcast & your inspiration.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  62. Julie T wrote:

    So glad to have you back Brenda, I’ve missed you terribly!

    My most epic knitting project was for a close friend and hockey fan. I made him a double knit afghan with San Jose Sharks hockey team logos on it. Computer graphics were not as easy then as now, so much photo coping and hand drawing on graph paper went into the design. After that, many, many hours of knitting pleasure, and a really cool blanket to show! He was pleased.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  63. Ühltje wrote:

    So nice to hear from you again. I did find the sound-level of the music rather high compared to the vocal parts. A bit like commercial breaks on the tele, unfortunately.
    On the dyed yarns. Maybe a very vivid green?
    On the epic knitting. I have just finished knitting on Krokus (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/krokus), a Herbert Niebling pattern for a knit tablecloth)and I feel that the real struggle is yet to come. Blocking aarrgh.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  64. Sarah wrote:

    It’s so great to have you back on the podcast “airwaves”! I loved hearing your interview with Adrienne Martini. I’ve heard really good things about her book and am hoping to find some time to read it eventually (having a newish baby leaves me little time or energy to read, unfortunately).

    My epic project? Someday, I’m determined to spin my own yarn for a sweater. I don’t think I have the talent to design it myself as well, but that would be an ultimate challenge.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  65. Brenda C wrote:

    My epic project was (is) an afghan that I made as a housewarming gift for my son and DIL for their first house. It has lace, it has fancy edging, it has colorwork. I ran out of yarn, my gauge varied throughout the project, when blocked it came out as a trapezoid — everything happened. Yet in the end it is a great project, and is being lovingly used.
    Here’s a photo.

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  66. Cassie wrote:

    I’m so glad you’re back! I started listening just when you took your break so I’ve been working my way through the archive. My epic project was probably my first sweater, The Dollar and a Half Cardigan by Veronik Avery. Not only is this the only sweater I’ve ever knit in pieces (I learned about top-down sweaters shortly after finishing this) it had an all over lace pattern that had to be worked into all of the shaping. It was a MESS and was put in time out more than once. But I persevered and finished it! I was so proud. Here’s a rav photo: http://ravel.me/PHDKnitter/daahc

    Posted on 6.1.10 ·
  67. Always remember: Have fun and treasure the unique.
    That is exactly what you’ve taught me through out the years, Brenda.
    After listening to your Bracken experience, I just had to go try it for myself. And since I live in the hills above Portland I had plenty of ferns.
    I have alpacas, so fiber was my choice of material and needless to say without having any alum or iron in my aluminum dyepot, (just salt and vinegar), my result was celery. So I had a TON of fun and as soon as I can get to the store to buy some mordants I will over-dye my celery and have more fun….remember, (I keep hearing you say) It’s all about the process or the journey.
    So my epic project is a homespun handknit sweater that I designed with little fair isle alpacas on it during a “FIRST” sweater class that I took with my daughter.
    We started over a year ago and my daughter’s is finished and beautiful, but I still have more yarn to spin, and more to learn about how different fibers play together in a project, because half is mohair and the other half is alpaca….
    Afterall, what good would the journey/process be if we didn’t learn (and have fun) along the way.
    And life is good…because I’m having fun!
    Thanks for all the encouragement Brenda!

    Posted on 6.2.10 ·
  68. Rachel wrote:

    Hello Brenda,

    I recently discovered your podcasts, and am listening to them. I must admit to listening to the most current ones, and am glad that you are feeling better. In episode 91 you mentioned that you would be back in the fall for a regular series, but didn’t know what it would be about. Even though I suspect you have a plan, I wanted to suggest knitting as healing- in its physical, mental, and metaphysical ways. Given the recent research you’ve done and your circumstances, I suspect you have lots of wisdom on this topic.

    I have IBS, and refusing traditional treatment I changed jobs, practiced yoga and dove into the meditative nature of knitting. I firmly believe all these, including knitting, helped to abate my symptoms. Additionally a few years back I heard a news report on PTSD and soldiers. The reporter mentioned how English soldiers who were taught to knit while in the hospital healed much quicker and had a lower instance of PTSD (even though its name did not exist at the time) than did soldiers who were not.

    I can’t help but think the resurgence of knitting, as well as other handmade arts are experiencing a revival because collectively we are trying to find a way to heal or connect in an increasing disjointed and potentially more polluted environment than previous generations.

    Posted on 6.2.10 ·
  69. Laura wrote:

    So good to have you back, Brenda! Pleased to hear that you’re doing well.

    The bracken yarn is beautiful – loved the part of the podcast with yourself and Tonia in the car. Made me laugh! :o)

    So my epic project was my first large scale lace knitting project. This was Jared Flood’s ‘Girasole’ pattern which I knitted in Aran weight yarn in a kind of duck egg blue cotton yarn. I made the blanket version and my fiance named the project ‘The Blue Blanket Of Love’ as it is for our future home. I started it in June last year and finished it in the October. It has been carefully packed away in a box since then. We are moving into our first home next week and I cannot wait to snuggle under The Blue Blanket Of Love! Every time I picked up the blanket to work on it I thought of our future home and life together. I think that you did a podcast once about knitting memory into items and I felt that that was what I was doing – knitting future memories into the blanket. Does that make sense? Anyway, details of my blanket can be found on Ravelry here : http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Spangly77/girasole

    Best wishes and many thanks

    Laura x

    Posted on 6.2.10 ·
  70. martha in mobile wrote:

    So glad to hear you again. I have been enjoying your blog in the meantime (Sita Sings the Blues has been in constant DVD and CD rotation thanks to you).

    My epic project was my first fair isle, which was a cardigan with nary a single pattern repeated — that’s right: every peerie band, every pattern band was unique. And it was my first fair isle, so apparently I had a pretty high opinion of my abilities. It was in a lovely book edited by Debbie Bliss entitled Traditional Knitting from the Scottish and Irish Isles.

    Posted on 6.2.10 ·
  71. Emily wrote:

    My epic knitting project was knit this past winter/spring. It was the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan by Anna Dalvi. I’d been looking at knitting this pattern for awhile but wanted to make charts for it before beginning. Then, this December, charts were added to the pattern and I found yarn on sale. I loved knitting it for the most part – even the bobbles. I know – I’m as shocked as you are! The edging that goes on the short ends did cause me a bit of trouble – I knit it too long and then tried to go about seaming. The classic knitter’s denial was in full force. I finished it last month, just in time to not want a wool aran afghan anywhere near me for a few months.

    Posted on 6.2.10 ·
  72. Margie wrote:

    Glad you’re back!
    My epic knitting project is yet to come, but I know what it will be, the Cottage Garden Sweater by Cheryl Burke. I wrote to Cheryl and asked her if I was out of my head to try this sweater for my first stranded project. She said it would make a good 2nd project, to try a small one first to get the hang of it. So now I am looking for my “pre epic” project.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  73. Sandy wrote:

    So great to hear you back at the mic and in fine form. I love the results of your bracken experiment and will likely try my hand at some natural dyeing this summer. I love the softness of the colours you achieve.

    My epic knitting experience really isn’t. Epic. One of my first knitting projects was a fair isle sweater for my husband. Bad idea. First, I chose the wrong size, but since it was never finished, that doesn’t really matter. I pulled my yarn too tight and so it is quite puckered. I knit the front, back and 1.5 sleeves before going into labour with baby #1. The sweater was put into a box and is still there. (That baby now has two of his own.) I came across it recently whilst looking for something and thought that it might make a nice oversized, sloppy sweater for me….if only I can block out the puckering. I’m going to attempt it. Why not?

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  74. Alix wrote:

    Very pleased to hear about your health improvements and delighted that you’re back.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  75. Arlene wrote:

    I was so excited this morning; a new Cast On to listen to while I exercised!!! It was so great to hear you again.

    My epic knitting? Well, I tend to take on these massive lace shawls, each one is an epic on its own. But I think my current knitting project is beating them badly. Its the Nebula socks by Cookie A., done in Dream in Color Starry. Well, let me tell you, I normally finish a pair of socks within a week. But these have been on the needles for months and months now. Every frickin’ row has these little two-stitch cables, but the stitches have to be twisted, purled, and manipulated. Takes 20-30 minutes to do 4 rows. Murderous pattern.

    But I will persevere. Just reached the heel turn on the second sock, and I’m looking forward to the plain stockinette on the bottom of the foot, because then you only have to make half of the sock with those little cable twists!

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  76. catspaw wrote:

    It’s so good to have you back! So, my epic project is to design and knit my own shetland-type shawl using my own handspun gossamer yarn. To add to the interest, I would like to spin it all on a handspindle. Originally I thought I’d procure and process a fleece but since I’m turning 59 in a couple of months (speaking of birthdays and all), I may give up that part. I may give up the whole thing but it’s fun dreaming and planning.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  77. Marla Ford wrote:

    Hi Brenda: Great podcast, and I hope you’re not away too long. Your health is all important though especially in light of this milestone year. I hit that milestone 10 years ago, so am now hitting the next milestone – 60 sounds old. For me, turing 50 brought me face to face with my own mortality – I suddenly realized that the odds of living another 50 years are slim. While birthdays are better than the alternative, I am aware that I’m on borrowed time, so I’m knitting projects that I really want to knit – call it my own bucket list. So the project I want to knit that will challenge me this year is the Forest Path Stole (Interweave Knits). So happy 50th to you and happy 60th to me – I’ll celebrate with a new stole! Come back soon….

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  78. Maggiemidwife wrote:

    Brenda, so very happy to hear your voice again. I’ve missed you terribly the last few (many) months. I don’t currently have epic knitting- but I do have an epic number of waiting projects. I’m thinking seriously about shooting the next person at work who gets pregnant. I’m baby blanketed out for a while. Thank you for opening new doors in my life with your podcasts & keep them coming, I’m always listening for more.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  79. Susan wrote:

    Really glad that you are back to knitting, creating, and podcasting. We’ve missed you, and the 91st episode is very special. I always look forward to hearing about what is happening with you and your life, so glad you are on the mend at last!

    I am in my fifties, appreciating every day, and looking forward, with expectation of what, and whom, may be just around the corner of life, adding to the richness of being.

    Take care and thank you for your thought filled podcasts.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  80. Taryn wrote:

    Welcome back!

    My epic project on the needles is an afghan. I’ve started 2 already. The knitted one is in deep hibernation. The crochet granny square afghan is only a few weeks old and still in my knitting bag, so there is hope.

    And of course some day I’ll make a sweater. Some day.

    Posted on 6.3.10 ·
  81. Jenni wrote:

    Welcome back. So lovely to hear you again. I’m actually a big fan of that lonely skein of muted gold. Beautiful, warm. But then, that aptly describes the entire basket!

    Posted on 6.4.10 ·
  82. mary e wrote:

    it was the first wave of my mid-life crisis. i was living and working in germany, so i decided to spin and knit an afghan. a german co-worker told me about a farm that sold fleece and spinning wheels. i can’t remember how long it took to spin, ply, and knit the afghan…ages.
    p.s. the second wave of my mid-life crisis brought me back to the states, re-united me with a grammar school buddy. my made-in-germany afghan now graces our cozy couch.

    Posted on 6.4.10 ·
  83. caroline wrote:

    Welcome back Brenda! I have missed you!
    It was great to hear how you dyed your yarn and how it eventually turned out. Also loved hearing from the author of The Sweater Quest.

    I think my epic creation was a baby shawl for my first born. I hadn’t been knitting long when I bagan it and just managed to have it finished for when she was born. I completed the border while I was in hospital. It was worth it though! I still have it in my cupboard now my girls are grown up. I am hoping one day to be able to pass it on to a grandchild.

    Loved hearing about you watching Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday! I have mentioned this film to many people and just get a blank look as though I am the only one who has heard of it! So we have something else in common now! It is my husband’s favourite film and it is thanks to a school experience of his that I have come across it! Oh, just re-listened, did you enjoy the film? It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I love it!

    Best wishes, so glad your feeling better! The graphics biz sounds exciting!

    Posted on 6.5.10 ·
  84. I am so glad that you are back and that you are well.

    Thank you for giving away a copy of this lovely book. I saw it in the book store yesterday, and had read a full chapter before I knew it.

    I am in the middle of an epic project at the moment: 2 years of make and make-do for all of mine and my children’s clothes and all of their toys – in sewing, knitting, and crochet. Heck, I’ve even gotten into some woodwork. However, I am contemplating knitting the Wild Apple pullover from Bohus Stickning when I finally get around to knitting for myself.

    Posted on 6.5.10 ·
  85. Beth wrote:


    I am now working on my epic project. I am knitting socks for Big Ole.


    The project started last Feb. when I was thinking on what to do to get people to smile. April 1st I stated knitting. The guys at work asked what I was making and I told them that it was socks for Big Ole. The guys just said, “Right, April Fools”. I did what to finish the socks for the World Wide Knit in Public Day, but that is not going to happen. I have enough done for one bootie. 2011 both socks should be done.

    Posted on 6.5.10 ·
  86. Camille wrote:

    Happy (Day After Your) Birthday, Brenda!!!

    Youth is a state of mind. :}

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  87. Camille wrote:

    p.s. Where I am it’s still June 6th. I guess I should have put ‘Happy Two Days After’. Hope you had a lovely time, anyway!

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  88. Leslie wrote:

    Happy Birthday Brenda!Have a fantastic day.

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  89. yarnbird wrote:

    I missed you so much. Nordic walking wasn’t really fun without listening to you.

    I finished my epic project last summer after working on it for 3 years. This traditional Austrian cardigan was my very first design and I made it seamless (also for the very first time). It was a birthday present for my mum.
    Just once I broke out in tears, when I shortened the sleeves and rejoined the new cuff with kitchener stitch in the cable pattern. But I solved the problem and my mother now wears it very proudly.
    You can see it on my blog (http://yarnbird.blogspot.com/2009/09/i-proudly-present.html) and on my ravelry project page (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/yarnbird/trachtenjacke).

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  90. Debbie H wrote:

    Great to have you back Brenda – I have missed you. Have tried lots of different knitting podcasts whilst you have been away but none are the same!

    My epic project is a Debbie Abrahams blanket. I started it about a year ago and so far have only done 3 of the 10 strips of squares. Its going to be a long job!

    I had intended on doing this blanket for my youngest daughter and then a different blanket for my eldest and then my mum spotted the book. So she decided to do the blanket for the elder daughter – that is long finished and laying across said daughters bed as I type. Suffice to say, daughter no 2 is hassling me to get hers finished but I just keep finding other “little” projects to do. I am determined to down needles on all other projects and get on with this blanket, just as soon as I get this particular shawl off my needles 😉

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  91. Barbara H. wrote:

    I am so glad you are back!
    My epic project is one that is not yet finished.
    It wasn’t supposed to be epic – it was supposed to be quick and without much thought but the yarn refused to behave. I had just enough yarn left over from a shell I made for me to make a baby jacket, I thought with a bit too much optimism, but every stitch I’ve tried hasn’t been as light and lacy as I needed it to be to have enough yarn…. So I would do the bottom edge of the jacket and after four inches would see it was using too much yarn or it wasn’t very pretty or the gauge was WAY off and I had to redo the stitch count… then putting it aside to work on something more cooperative and then, by darn it, coming back to it with determination but growing reluctance.
    It STILL isn’t finished because I have, yet again, looked at it and ripped it out. BUT I did get more of the yarn so I won’t have an amount limitations. SO fingers crossed it will be done sometime this year….

    Posted on 6.7.10 ·
  92. Alison (in Australia) wrote:

    Hey Brenda,

    Great to hear another podcast! I first started listening to you when I’d just taken up knitting as a keep-the-hands-busy-while-lying-in-bed-recovering-from-major-back-damage. I remembered this yesterday as I listened to you while out on a (regular!) 5km run. You’ve been part of my knitting – and recovery – journeys for a very long time, and I am very grateful. Thank you.

    My epic project, for which I have the yarn but have yet to find the time, is a stranded shawl, inspired by ones I’ve found on ravelry but knit to my own design. I’ve only started stranded knitting projects over the last 6 months, but find them fascinating. I’m looking forward to the journey working up from a simple hat/scarf to a major wrap!

    Posted on 6.8.10 ·
  93. Angeline wrote:

    Oh it was so grand to hear your voice. I am so glad you are back!
    My epic project would have to be the one where I go and choose the fleece, spin the yarn and knit the garment. It may take me a while, but I will do it one day, over several really.

    Posted on 6.8.10 ·
  94. Katherine wrote:

    What a happy surprise to find a new podcast when I stopped by to check the blog! I’m so glad to hear that you too have discovered trigger point therapy and it is helping.

    My epic knitting is still to come. I have yet to try lace knitting, but my first handspun seems to be mostly of the lace-weight variety, so I’m looking forward to finding the perfect pattern to match the yarn from the teal silk hankies.

    Posted on 6.8.10 ·
  95. Mary wrote:

    Glad you are podcasting and knitting again! I had a shoulder problem 12 years ago before the birth of my son. After weeks of physical therapy and exercising I could play the piano using not only my right hand, but also my pain free left hand. I am a choir director, so fixing my left shoulder was crucial to not only my career, but also for my knitting and crafting obsessions!
    I have completed two Starmore projects, the Henry VIII sweater and the Queen Anne’s lace pullovers. I had originally intended the Henry sweater for my Dad and the Queen Anne for my Mom, but the henry fitted my 6’5″ brother better and my Dad really liked my Mom’s sweater (my Mom passed away of Cancer and never wore it!)
    Alice Staremore patterns are wonderfully written and are a challenge to knit, but absolutely worth it!!!

    Posted on 6.8.10 ·
  96. Louise wrote:

    Welcome back Brenda! It’s great to hear that you’re doing better. Thanks for the lovely new episode.


    Posted on 6.9.10 ·
  97. rachel loewens wrote:

    Oh, Brenda, how I have missed the sound of your voice! And to hear Tayna swear in her accent, a bonus! :-)My knitting epic is to complete the 10 shawls in 2010 challenge. Having never knit a shawl or lace before, I am finding myself surprisingly at ease with all the newness. There is something about specifically defining how you are going to express yourself that opens up so many doors! (think I remember you talking about that in one of your older episodes). Can’t express how wonderful it is to have you back. Cheers!

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  98. Colleen wrote:

    Good Lord, you’re back! I had to read the entry three times before it sank in. I’m so happy to see that you’re better! Hooray!

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  99. Colleen wrote:

    Oh, and the leaf green would be charming, as would a bright turquoise or a sky blue.

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  100. Annetta wrote:

    Hi again, Brenda – hope all is well in your world.

    I’ve decided to write about my Epic Knitting Project, partly because I realised recently that it’s become important in my world as a metaphor. So hearing your podcast was a nice reminder about the perfect timing of the multiverse.

    I bought silk/cashmere yarn in a gorgeous deep emerald green from a wonderful little yarn store in San Diego’s Pacific Beach area called Needlecraft Cottage (OMGs! I just Googled yarn stores in the area, they’re still around. Neat!) This was when I lived there back in the second half of the ’90s. I had Viking Patterns for Knitters by Lavold, I had the perfect pattern in mind from this book (Fjarlar), and the store had sold me beautiful hand-turned wooden knitting needles – so I decided I was old enough and worthy enough to have a luxury yarn for my sweater. I threw away, or lost in subsequent travels, the ball bands, so I cannot recall the name of the yarn itself.

    I began to knit and ran into problems with trying to adjust the length, so I stopped for a bit. I then ran into HUGE problems with the V neck and stopped for a lot. I did pick up the project from time to time, but couldn’t seem to get past my block with the pattern instructions. This, of course, speaks volumes about my place in the world, and how much attention I was paying at the time…

    Several (at least 6-7) years later I was in Perth, back in Australia, waiting for my university course to start, and I was talking to a good friend back in San Diego on the phone and became nostalgic for this sweater pattern. I have knitted gorgeous things for friends and family, but finishing something wonderful for myself had eluded me. I decided to try one more time, and if it didn’t gel, I would unpick it and try another pattern. I was sick with the flu and was running a fever, which is probably why the pattern suddenly made simple and complete sense to me. I had missed the ‘turn it around and knit it from the other side’ part of the pattern, because I wasn’t ready to think about my knitting in more than straightforward terms (told you it said a lot about me!). I finished the sweater, completed my undergrad, then my Masters.

    In my new profession, I find myself reaching for this sweater a lot for speaking engagements and professional commitments. It feels good to me, I like the textures, the colour, and the knowledge that this is something special that I took time for, for me. I’m also not terribly patient as a rule, so I like what this sweater tells me about my capacity for patience and gentleness with myself.

    I have had other trials and ‘ack! Of Course!’ moments with other projects, but this one is my Epic because I could acknowledge after it was all over that it really was a reflection of my own growth and development – as long as that took – over a period of about 8 years. It’s also Epic because it’s not completely finished – it needs care and repair now. The sleeves have both come undone at the seam line along my inner arm, and I will have to stash dive to find the remaining skeins in order to resew them. I may also take the remaining yarn and try to make a hat for myself. I am, after all, still growing and developing as I work towards the end of my Honours thesis and look towards a doctorate. I will need some extra projects just to tag along with me and remind me of how to see life from other angles occasionally.

    I just looked at the Lavold book cover again. Hmm. I had breakfast with my mom this morning. She wore the sweater and hat from the cover, in deep rose pink, that I knitted for her the year before I finished my Epic Project. I had forgotten that the patterns were from this book, and was just thinking today that I would like that sweater for myself, too.

    Thank you, Brenda, for a chance to reflect on my knitting history – and how it reflects me.

    The podcast was wonderful, I wish you a lovely weekend, and look forward to your next instalment.


    Blackwall, Australia

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  101. Sue wrote:

    I left listening to the new podcast until I had a long car journey, and it rewarded the wait. Beautifully written, delivered and recorded, it was a real treat and it’s good that you’re back and your health is improved. My epic project – hope crochet counts, I’m really a knitter – is a crochet Charizard…indulging my daughter who loves Pokemon, I started this creature without realizing quite how complex, and big, it was to be. Crochet eats yarn and I keep having to buy another ball. You can see it on my user mariasnake on Ravelry.

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  102. Jena (the yarn harpy) wrote:

    Welcome back! 🙂

    My epic knitting project was the Summer In Kansas shawl that the Yarn Harlot knit a few years ago. A close friend got engaged to a wonderful guy from Kansas and I wanted to make her a shawl for her wedding. I had two-plus years, right? Well, in those two years, most of our other friends also got engaged, I got engaged and, oh yeah, I decided to use cobweb weight cashmere… nothing but the best for my dear friend. All told, I ultimately knitted the final product in the last two weeks before her wedding after multiple frogs, breaks, mess-ups and maybe a little bit of cursing. The morning of the rehearsal (did I mention I was the pianist and singer for the ceremony itself?) I was binding off hundreds of tiny stitches until 3AM. I had clawhand but I fumbled through the pieces at the rehearsal and it was worth it to see her face when she lifted the light-as-air shawl from the box.
    My own wedding? No handknits. All the other friends? Sorry pals, I’ll buy you something nice. 🙂

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  103. Barbara wrote:

    So good to hear your voice again! and glad that you’re on the mend.
    My epic knitting adventure is not a Fair Isle, although I have a Solveig Hisdal sweater in the planning stages. No, my one year knitting experience occurred with a cabled cardigan called Retro Jacket with Collar, by Robin Melanson. It is a gorgeous sweater and although I’m not a fan of cabling, I undertook the project.
    The sweater took about a year to make. I have, in the process, become an expert at dropping down stitches (as far down as 5 inches!!) to correct an incorrectly crossed cable. I can also cross cables to the front and back while knitting and purling through the back loop!
    The most disheartening part of the experience was knitting the sleeves. The cardigan has 3/4 length sleeves. Having short arms, I always knit my sleeves about one to one and a half inches shorter than the pattern calls for. So, knitting both cabled sleeves at the same time, and calculating for the shortening required, I knit and knit until the armhole, tried on the sleeves, and Yikes! Way too long. My increases for widening the sleeves were also in the wrong places.
    I ripped out both sleeves, reknit one (I sometimes learn from my mistakes), knit that too tightly and had to rip that sleeve out again. On the third try and with brand new yarn, I got it right. I knit up the second sleeve, knit the amazingly beautiful collar and sewed the sweater together.
    After all that, I adore this sweater. I smile every time I see the soft yellow cables on my closet shelf The sweater fits me perfectly and is just what I hoped and dreamed it would be.

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  104. Felix wrote:

    Yo Brenda! So amazing to have you back, I missed Cast on alot. I especially enjoyed the audio of you and Tonia out finding the bracken together!

    The reason the natural dyed yarns go so well together is to do with the colour spectrum. Apparently with synthetic dyes, everything on the spectrum is suppressed, so when you look at a RED shade, it will only reflect one SPECIFIC wavelength of light, pertaining precisely to that shade of red. So there is often little or no overlap in the way the shades compliment one another or work together, if you see what I mean. RED is RED, BLUE is BLUE and YELLOW is YELLOW, and each one blasts out across a particular area of the colour spectrum loudly and distinctly.

    However natural dyes are different, since many plants have common dye components within their chemical make-up, so a green will most likely also be reflecting yellows and blues and maybe even some reds at low levels, and these will be similar or close to the wavelengths being reflected by other colours. So with natural dyes, the colour you are talking about is more a dominant wavelength than a precise shade, if that makes sense? Blue is blue, but it also represents low levels at other wavelengths, and our eyes pick out the harmony between these shades.

    It is similar in my mind to how good fairisle knitting yarns are blended to contain tiny shades of colours-in-common, so that they will harmonise together. This is the basis of Starmore’s philosophy of colours, I think. Because when you walk in nature you see that many shades sit harmoniously beside one another, because they are all sharing some colour wavelengths.

    Synthetic dyes are more ‘pure’ in one sense, but they also require the skill to deal with colours which have absolutely nothing in common with each other.

    I learned all of this at a Guild meeting in Oxford!

    This reminds me of a really sweet DULUX advert… I don’t mind admitting that one of my favourite colour-theory activities is picking up those tester strips at DIY stores and matching them by myself. It is free, and inspiring.


    Inspired by this, I made a tester-strip scarf which was a really nice way of understanding a lot of different shades/colours etc. and I can bring DRIED rhubarb leaves when I come if you want some deep rusty tones to add to your collection. Here is the post on the tester-strip:



    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  105. Felix wrote:


    re: an epic project that I have?
    I dyed over 1km of 4-ply cashcotton in varying shades of semi-solid TEA colour, using walnut dye… I wish to design and knit a very fitted, long, beautiful cardigan with simple but GORGEOUS finishings (angora-lined wrists maybe? Some pleats around the shoulders or 1940s box-shoulder-shaping? moss-stitch borders? who knows) and I also want to spin up that whole Cotswold fleece I have and make a walking jerkin.

    Oh yeah, and I need to write my thesis, but that is a non-knitting epic.

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  106. Devon wrote:

    A wonderful surprise to my day. I listened to the episode twice through working on sewing a lining to finish up my epic project. It is my dragon bag. I designed the dragon pattern myself after not finding a dragon I liked enough to copy. I used two colors for the dragon, a dark purple and lighter blue on a background of natural wool beige. I used combined intarsia and stranded knitting techniques with as many as 12 separate strands attached at once. The dragon sits on the front flap and the body of the bag is knit in stripes. It was an epic project for me due to the color work and also to make a fabric lining that fit. I am just finishing up sewing the lining to the bag today and I couldn’t be more proud.

    Thanks so much for another excellent podcast.

    Posted on 6.10.10 ·
  107. Karyn wrote:

    Hi Brenda, it’s great to hear your voice again!
    My epic project was Sandy Cushman’s Wedding Afghan from Interweave Knits Summer 2001 issue, knit for my brother and sister-in-law as a (what else?) wedding gift in September 2008. It took about 7 months to complete, but it was well worth the effort!

    I wish you speedy healing (unselfishly, for your sake, and selfishly, so that you’ll be physically able to podcast more regularly!)

    Posted on 6.11.10 ·
  108. kim langley wrote:


    glad you are feeling better.
    i like the idea of an epic project. I entered the iron knitter contest as a challenge to myself, to complete five socks, each pattern of increasing difficulty. I couldn’t finish the second pattern in the set timeframe so I was cut at round two. however, i am continuing the challenge because…I want to challenge myself. The round two second sock is nearly done, my first short row heel. The number four sock is on the needles, a toe up using Judy’s magic cast on, another first for me. As soon as I finish one of these I will cast on the third pattern, stranded colorwork. For me this challenge has taken on the shape of an epic, demanding slices of limited knitting time.

    Posted on 6.12.10 ·
  109. Antonia Gray wrote:

    So glad you’re back in action! Glad you’re feeling better. Really enjoyed ‘How to Be a Poet’ – both the podcast and the poem. I’m working my way through listening to past episodes as well, lovely inspirational stuff as I commute and knit. As I am a relatively new knitter (only learned last year) *every* project is a challenge to me! 🙂

    Posted on 6.12.10 ·
  110. vicki wrote:

    So glad you are back and feeling better! We MISSED you!! Thanks for the info on Trigger point therapy. I fell down the stairs in April and now my body feels lopsided from the result and continued recovery, needless to say I ordered it up. I love the gentle greens!
    As always you are so enjoyable to listen to and never fail to motivate me!
    Take care

    Posted on 6.12.10 ·
  111. Helga wrote:

    Great to have you back Brenda! I love your podcast and have listened to all your episodes once and recently started for the 2nd time at the beginning and I’m now up to episode 23 (the muses series). Funny how this episode was recorded exactly 4 years ago when the 2006 World Cup Football was about to start. I often wanted to comment but realised that I was really a few years behind, so now that I’m up to date, will definitely be more actively leaving comments. I find your podcast inspirational and the only one that I go back to again and again. Thanks for keeping at it! Looking forward to more to come in future.
    Cheers, Helga

    Posted on 6.12.10 ·
  112. Leslie wrote:

    Finally sat down and listened to you for the first time. Very well done! And what an intriguing book. I’m just finishing up an epic project: a pullover for my husband who has (on his good days) a 56″ chest. I made it from some possum-merino yarn I picked up in New Zealand in February. I started with a pattern for that yarn, but it was too boring so I adapted a gansey-style kid’s pattern from a book I bought in Sydney. I used the stitch count from the original pattern but did it on circs from the bottom up – easier to check the fit that way. Now all I have left is sewing in the loose ends and he’ll have a nice warm sweater – just in time for summer!

    Posted on 6.13.10 ·
  113. Carole wrote:

    Dear Brenda after listening to your podcast yesterday I went to your website and downloaded the wonderful poem “How To Be A Poet”. I have it beside my computer and have read and reread it many times in the past 24 hours. Each time I read it I find some other phrase or thought that resonates so perfectly for me, though I certainly am not a poet. Thank you for this link.
    I am dying to read “Sweater Quest”. Maybe I will be lucky and win one from you. My project, which easily will be a year in completion, is the Yggdrasil Afphan (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/yggdrasil-afghan). I have started it but it deserves to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
    As always I am looking forward to your next podcast. They are wonderful so don’t change them to make them for anyone other than yourself. Carole

    Posted on 6.13.10 ·
  114. Helen wrote:

    Just got to tell you how much my friend and I laughed at the true translation of ‘Can I help you at all?’ It had never occurred to me before how passive-aggressive this phrase really is! So British in every way; utterly polite yet hostile, I use it all the time! Hilarious. Great to have you back for however long you feel able to be, Brenda.

    Posted on 6.13.10 ·
  115. I was listening to NPR in the car this morning and heard some familiar lines of poetry. Suddenly I realized it was “How to be a Poet” being read by Wendell Berry the author! You can find him reading this poem and others at http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/land-life-poetry/

    Posted on 6.13.10 ·
  116. porpoise wrote:

    Welcome back Brenda! It’s so lovely to hear your voice again, and I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better.

    My epic knitting project: The Veil of Isis by BadCatDesings. This was my Knitting Olympics 2008 project – I’d knit lace before, but never done anything beaded, so it seemed like a good challenge. I had 20 balls of fingering weight baby alpaca that my husband had brought back for me from Peru, so I merrily cast on and knitted away. And knitted. And knitted. And knitted. And while the shawl was getting larger, and my bead supply was getting smaller, I wasn’t anywhere near done. And black alpaca plus black beads equals madness. And blindness. I finally came to grips with the fact that I was going to be zero for two Olympic knitting challenges and stuffed it away for a while. Over the course of the next few months, I took it out every so often and did a few rows, but never really got any momentum going on it. It got stuck in the bottom of the WIP pile and ignored.

    Then my lovely brother-in-law and his even lovelier wife suffered an unbelievably tragic loss in July. By August, it had become clear to me that this shawl needed to be hers. So after spending a few days trying to figure out where I left off and how the whole thing worked again, I got back on the horse. I finished the shawl on 5 November of last year, and my sister-in-law loved it.

    Posted on 6.15.10 ·
  117. Chris James wrote:

    Welcome back, It’s just so nice to hear your podcast.

    Posted on 6.16.10 ·
  118. Carrie wrote:

    It’s so good to hear you again! Glad you’re back. 🙂

    My epic project was a handspun Icarus. I started planning it the moment I saw it in Interweave Knits. I knew it had to be sparkly, and I had seen some lovely, sparkly batts at Spritely Goods. I tamed my wheel enough to spin lace weight, too! From planning to finished object (including a brief hibernation period), the shawl took me three years. I’m so proud of it. If you’d like to see it, it’s on my Ravelry profile, under Nightingale. 🙂

    Posted on 6.17.10 ·
  119. Pensguys wrote:

    YEA!!!! I’m saving this podcast for my 10 mile run on Sat!!! SOOOO excited!

    Posted on 6.17.10 ·
  120. Eleanor (undeadgoat) wrote:

    I wish I had time to say more than just entering the contest, but sadly I’m running late and can’t say more. An epic project that I am currently in the beginnings of is the Prince of Wales Shawl–an epic project in the style of all my knitting, however, that is to say not a shaped garment and quite lacy. Though it would seem less impressive to a passer-by, another project currently on the needles–custom-fit legwarmers for my ballet dancer brother–seems more scary, more epic, and like a more important step forward in my knitting life.

    Posted on 6.18.10 ·
  121. Barb wrote:

    Just a quick color thought for the sweater, though it does involve more dyeing (not a bad thing, in my mind): can you get your hands on some cochineal?

    Posted on 6.20.10 ·
  122. Cassandra wrote:

    I’m glad to see you’re back and podcasting again! My epic project is one that is still on the back burner — I’ve run into a few logistical issues. I’m a musician and one of my favorite conductors knows I’m a passionate knitter so he suggested that I turn a chorale from Bach’s St. John Passion into a knitting pattern. I took several months to work it out, but have finally decided that I will knit it in the round, in sock-weight or finer. It will be a scarf, knit as a tube, with one musical bar per inch (or so). I don’t want to make a visible representation of the fugal music, like black notes on a white background, but prefer to use texture to represent each motive as it passes through the voices. So I’ve chosen Bavarian traveling stitch motives which vaguely imitate the musical lines. My big sticking points now are 1) how to connect the motives so it also looks beautiful and 2) how to chart it out. There are 9 voices and 6 motives and I will have to knit it lengthwise, thus keeping tracks of 9 different patterns per row.

    What do you think? Too complicated? Goodness, it sounds impossible when I write it out.

    Posted on 6.20.10 ·
  123. Catherine Loughman wrote:

    Welcome back Brenda — I loved your latest podcast such a welcome surprise in my ipod — I loved the music in the background, the sound of you and Tonya out gathering the fern and the sound of the dying process.
    I LIKE the lighter gold color— it’s good that you kept some back — those colors all look beautiful and yes a bright fern colored green would look great with those colors — who woulda thunk it? Thank you so much for podcasting again — you are a treasure really, and so is your dear wife.

    Posted on 6.21.10 ·
  124. Tina Hilton wrote:

    I just finished listening to A Prayer for Owen Meany. Thanks so much for recommending this book. It was wonderful! I love listening to podcasts and audio books while I spin, knit, and weave and appreciate suggestions from my fiber friends.

    Posted on 6.23.10 ·

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