Sunday, December 31, 2006

Keeping up with the Bloggers, and with Christmas Traditions

The Yarn Harlot, and other bloggers, have posted fabulous photos of their Christmas trees and their Christmas knitting. I, on the other hand, was too busy knitting to post anything. I tried taking photos of my Christmas tree, and they all turned out terribly. So, not to be outdone by the other photographer/knitters out there in blog-land, I decided to out-do everyone!! I took this photo through some "magic" lenses! When you look through the plastic lense, the lights on the Christmas tree look like hundreds of smiling snowmen!

In case you aren't impressed with that photo, here is my tree as seen through the mirror above our fireplace. Every year I put candles on the mantle and light them during the season. I particularly like to sit in the room at night, with only the lights on the tree and the candles reflected in the mirror. Then, I hum Christmas carols to myself. One year, I lit the candles for dinner in the adjacent dining room. I kept smelling smoke, and thought that the fire smelled nice in the fireplace. Finally, my daughter screamed that something was on fire!! A candle had burned down to the wooden holder, which ignited. The heat cracked the mirror from top to bottom! We gave the mirror wide berth for the next few days, until we could get a "mirror man" to come and remove the sagging mirror and replace it with a safer one!

Ever since I was a child, we have decorated our tree with cookies. I have kept the tradition alive for 35 years now, making cut-out cookies and decorating them with frosting. Each year I invite a friend or two and my children also invite friends. We spend the evening frosting cookies, spilling sprinkles and dropping frosting-laden knives on the carpet. the invitees take home their cookies and we display ours for weeks afterwards. I don't think many cookies actually are eaten, but we get great satisfaction and joy out of them. My brother was the master froster--he made gingerbread men into Green Bay Packers, Ghandi, Donald Trump, Gorbachev and others. [My first husband insisted on making anatomically correct ginger men and women] Here are some cookies from this year.

Before Christmas I complained that my children informed me that they would not wear the items I had been knitting for them. Therefore, I decided to knit random items and put them in a box from which family and friends could select an item that pleased them. If none pleased them, tough! Well, here is my basket of knit goodies. There are hats, scarves, neck warmers and ear warmers.

My friendly polar bear volunteered to model the items that have not already been posted. This cable knit beanie was not selected by anyone--yet. Therefore, I will send it to Dulaan or the local homeless shelter.
This jaunty tam was also not selected. Bear, however, is thinking about laying claim to it!

This Odessa hat, from Grumperina's pattern (without beads) was selected by my 15 year old!!!

Neither Bear nor anyone else were pleased with this alpaca ear warmer. I thought it was very seasonal with the raised pine trees on it.
I claimed the white alpaca cabled ear warmer! However, Bear seemed to like it as well.

Even though Bear seemed very, very cozy in this mohair multidirectional scarf, I gave the scarf to a friend. Haven't heard from the friend about how she liked it....... If she doesn't like it, Bear wants it back!!!
Surprise of all surprises, my 80 year old mother claimed this mini-poncho made partially out of Noro. It extends to the tip of the shoulders and Mom uses it inside of her jacket, as a neck-warmer/scarf. She really liked it!!
I made two of these hats from Charlene Schurch's "Hat's On" for my step daughter and her new boyfriend. They arrive on Jan. 4; therefore, I still have time to add the tassel and the polarfleece lining.

We had a great Christmas with my parents and both of my daughters. My brother, the one who suffered a stroke early in the fall, and his wife also stopped by. He is improving, but still has a long ways to go before he is fully functional again.

Everyone had a good time, that is, except Cosmic the cat. His Santa hat was much too embarrassing to wear, much less to have a photo of him posted on the blog!! I hope you were spared all embarrassing moments during the holidays and that your New Year is filled with blessings--fiber related and otherwise!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Homemade memories at Christmas time

My last entry bemoaned my inability to make just the right thing for my girls at Christmas time. I wonder how my mother did it. I am the oldest of five children, all at 3 year intervals. My parents never had much money so they always made presents for us. Our main times for acquiring clothing, including underwear and socks, were Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Each chrismas my mother sewed a new outfit for each of us, even matching outfits for our dolls. I remember the year she made me a felt circle skirt and blouse with tucks down the bodice. She made a matching outfit for my doll. She made us pajamas, with matching doll PJ's. She made my brother's GI Joe a Marine dress uniform, complete with red piping and tiny brass buttons. Even when I was in college and then an adult, she made complete outfits for each of us. My sister received a wool plaid pleated skirt, vest and jacket with lapels one Christmas--just what she wanted. the same year I received navy blue trousers, a blue and red checked vest and a white blouse--all hand made.
And, somehow, every year the outfits were a complete surprise!!! For all of us--I never knew what she was making for my sisters or my brothers. Of course, as we got older, one could predict she would make PJ's or bathrobes for the boys. No wonder my mother was always tired!!
When mom had grandchildren, she also made outfits for them, in addition to the ones for us. One year it was matching pink pajamas for the two grand daughters, PLUS hand made pink and white plush teddy bears wearing matching PJ's AND hats!!
And every year, what she made was just perfect in sewing skill and knowing what we would liketo wear wear. She was a loving mother and a genius.
I don't know how I missed her genes. I used to make PJ's and night gowns for my girls but once they got to high school I never could select the right color or style. I keep on trying but often I just am not on the same wavelength. Or, my inspiration comes too late to complete the object before Christmas day. One year I made my mother a lounging jumpsuit that was the ugliest thing ever to be donated to Goodwill after mom had bravely worn it for several years.
My father would also make homemade presents for us. One christmas he made us a ranch house style doll house with removable roof and walls. He found an old wallpaper sample book to accompany the doll house--we wallpapered and re-wallpapered the walls.
Another year, one in which money was really scarce, my dad found an old metal pedal car for my brothers. Problem was, it didn't have any wheels and it was rusty. He removed the rust, repainted the car and purchased new wheels. He kept the wheels in the trunk of the car--where he also put the bags of garbage every Saturday when he made a trip to the dump. (we lived in the countryside, with no garbage pick up service) As you can guess, by mistake, the wheels also got thrown into the piles of garbage in the dump. Dad drove back to the dump the next day to sort through the garbage, but wasn't able to find the wheels! No money to purchase new wheels. I remember my brothers furiously pedaling many, many miles in that little car sitting on cement blocks in the back yard. The car never moved an inch, but they had a great time.

I think I have some old photos of some of the garments my mom made for us. I'll post them in the future.

Meanwhile, I'm knitting away, not confident that I have chosen the right yarns, the right colors or the right styles!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Slip, sliding away...

The time before Christmas is slip sliding away, faster than a speeding bullet! Although it seems that I have been knitting 24 hours a day, I don't seem to have made much progress. I enviously follow other knitting bloggers who seem to rack up finished sweaters, lace shawls, pairs of socks and afghans while I have struggled to finish a few hats. What do they do that I don't??
Actually, I've made three more hats of which I don't have photos. You see, I got this great idea for Christmas. I would make everyone patterned tams. I found a great pattern by a local knitter, Amy Anderson. I purchased lots of Cascade 220 and limited quantities of Noro, Mountain Colors, etc. and I cast on. My enthusiasm waned when both daughters proclaimed that they would never wear tams and those hats better not be for them. Don't you know, mom, that tams are not stylish! And, who ever looked good in a tam anyway.

At this point I changed course. I decided to knit hats, mittens and scarves that I WANTED TO KNIT. I have no specific recipients in mind. Rather, I will put all intems into one large wrapped box and people can select an item. Or not. They can reject all the items. I don't care. I will donate the remainders to Dulaan or the local homeless shelter. I will photograph all of hats for my scrapbook. If some of my family members end up with no Christmas present from me, tough for them! I'll give them a gift certificate to Wal-Mart!!! Ha! Ha! That will teach them!!!

Here's a hat I experimented with. It is a take off on a watch hat from Charlene Schurch's book Hat's On! I removed the ribbed "cuff" and substituted applied I-cord (in honor of the Elizabeth Zimmerman collection I had just seen!) While knitting the color pattern I thought, "What if I switched the foreground and background colors?" So, I did. Can you see? the effect wasn't quite as exciting as I thought it might be, but it's interesting--I guess.

I also decided to make my dad some mittens. The colors in this photo aren't true to life--in reality the colors are black, loden green, and a loden green/black twist--all Cascade 220. This is a pattern from Mostly Mittens, also by Charlene Schurch. My dad has wide hands, so I used worsted weight yarn rather than sport weight. Turns out, the mittens are 15" tall!!!! I think I'll felt them so that my dad's hands stay really, really warm! He is diabetic and has poor circulation. He also cut off the tips of two fingers 20 years ago while using his table saw. Felting the mittens for extra warmth will be just the thing!
My hat/mitten/scarf projects were interrupted by the birth of a baby in my husband's department. The mother is the only female professor in his (science) department, so I thought I'd make the baby a little sweater--the Elizabeth Zimmerman baby surprise sweater. I used Baby Ull and some decorative thread with little balls of fluff. the thread is not elastic at all and it was difficult to knit with--had to work at each stitch when holding the thread with the Baby Ull. !! I used applied I-cord for the edge. After washing and blocking it, I realized the neck opening is too tight. So, I will need to remove the I-cord from the neck and figure out something quick to enlarge the neck. Under all those folds of fat around baby necks, aren't the necks scrawny??

My Christmas knitting was also delayed by family crises, necessitating knitting. As you may recall, my 45 year old brother suffered a debilitating stroke in mid September. I finished his Aran sweater in time for his departure from the hospital but, his wife told me, he has not even tried it on. Don't know what's going on there. I've been walking his dog every day and transporting him to various appointments and work. He's not said anything. Oh well. He did comment that he is cold all the time. So, I knit him a warm grey wool scarf. It's very unexciting---although I used the brioche stitch for the first time. Maybe he will like the scarf. I'm sure that life is so overwhelming for him right now that the last thing he needs is to think about is trying on the aran sweater.

One of my sisters had neck surgery two weeks ago. She lives in colorado. She had some of the vertabrae fused and will be wearing a stiff brace for a while. So I knit her a multidirectional scarf using a space dyed LaGran mohair and a solid color of alpaca. I alternated the strands every other row in alternating triangles of the scarf to stretch the mohair. It turned out beautifully, I assure you, but somehow it got shipped to Denver before a photo was taken. I love this scarf pattern and have made it several times, always, it seems, with yarn that I need to stretch! Alternating rows of solid and multicolored mohair works beautifully.

Meanwhile, while not knitting, I have been slowly working on end of the semester assignments for my graduate courses. Which reminds me, I better get back to Digital Libraries!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, a bit belatedly, and happy knitting!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Elizabeth Zimmerman-ia

It's been two weeks but the event is fresh in my mind. On October 29 the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin inaugurated an exhibition about Elizabeth Zimmmerman and the Schoolhouse Press!! In attendance were Meg Swansen, Cheryl Oberle (, Amy Detjen, Lizbeth Upitis, Joyce Williams, Wendy Easton and about 300 knitters who basked in their brilliance. (I am using an Apple computer and, for some reason, cannot make links!! But, you can go to Amazon and look up books by these wonderful knitters and designers.) We also basked in the glory of the original items knit by the hands of EZ herself, notes and letters she wrote, items from her famous early Knitting Camps, and on and on. You can find the virutal exhibition at

It was fabulous to have EZ's knitting receive a very formal museum-like display. Although she is a guru of the knitting world and her knitting camps (now operated by Meg Swansen, Amy Detjen and Joyce Williams) annually "baptize" more of her followers, there has never been an exhibition with all these wonderful items in one spot.

Meg Swansen was her graceful and lovely self, reading from her mother's writings about purchasing their second (now famous) old one-room schoolhouse. I was able to sit next to Lizbeth Upitis herself and talk to her about her Latvian mittens and "my" knitting group in Barcelona.
On November 16, if you are close enough to Madison, you can come to knit in the gallery, surrounded by EZ's originals are hanging!!! I plan to be there working on an EZ pattern.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late

OK, I finished my Socktoberfest socks within October, but didn't post them before November. Hope that doesn't disqualify me from whatever fame and glory I would have received with a timely post. I made these socks with Melenweit sock yarn using Lucy Neatby's Mermaid Sock pattern. I love how the diagonal pattern makes the socks look like mini entrelac.
I'm also late to post a Halloween photo of Daughter #2 carving her bat theme pumpkin. She decided she was too old (15) to trick or treat, but she loved carving the pumpkin and handing out candy!!
This next photo is crappy, I know. The photos with flash were just as bad as the photos without flash. It is ANOTHER FINISHED OBJECT!!!! It a completed cardigan for ME, the one I started about one year ago, using the now discontinued Sisik yarn. I am posting the lousy photo so that I can check another project off of my unfinished object list!!!! I've been wearing the cardigan for several weeks now and it is warm and comfy.

Yes, I'm making progress working through my seemingly unsurmountable pile of unfinished projects. Now, my mind and the house feel less cluttered. I can take a big knitterly sigh of fresh air, free from the pollution of moldy old projects!! I'm not completely done with my list...... the shaped shawl from Meg Swansen's lace book and the dale or norway for my husband. But, since I've made such good progress, I've started Christmas presents. Whoopee!!! More new projectys on the needles.

But, the most important completed project is in the last photo.
The completed Aran cardigan for my brother. He gets out of the hospital tomorrow!! Sweater was completed 10 days ago. The weather is warm, so he won't need to wear a coat over the sweater for his ride home. In case you haven't been following, my brother had a stroke a month ago. I pulled this unfinished cardigan from my unfinished object stash and got down to business. I started it for him as a Christmas present, FOUR years ago!! I couldn't believe it!! I hoped to knit him into good health by finishing the sweater. At least I've knit him out of the hospital. He still hasn't learned to walk without a walker and without great effort. But, he can move his legs into a lurching walk, with all muscles clenched tightly. He still can't see well, but he has clear sight for very short periods; thus, he hopes that his double vision will resolve at some point. He has very limited energy, but he is very, very excited to be going home. Welcome home, younger brother!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It is definitely fall here in Wisconsin. How can I tell?? Well, the sumac is turning brilliant red.

The farm markets are laden with pumpkins, squash,

and apples of all types, colors and sizes.
The islands in the mighty Mississippi are turning dry and brown,
and wool socks are starting to bloom on the mums!
Oh, no! Wait a minute! That's a Socktober fest sock entry placed strategically on the mums for maximum photographic effect. It's trying to compete with the photos displayed by the Knitting Iris.
Sock pattern "Mermaid" from Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks Warm Feet. I love the pattern and I love the yarn from Mellenweit!! This fall mermaid is anxiously awaiting a pair, but it will have to wait for a long time. I'm busy with a more important project--a matter of life over death, you might say.

On Saturday evening my 47 year old brother suffered a stroke. He and his wife live in the same town as we do. He had just finished cleaning the falling leaves out of the gutters--meaning he was tramping around on his pitched roof for severa hours--and he came in to shower. Just as he came out of the shower, he felt an incredibly sharp pain in his neck and collapsed on the bed. He called out for his wife to call 911. After spending two days in the intensive care unit, he was moved to the neurology unit and now he is on the intensive rehabilitation unit, learning to walk, to swallow and to coordinate his body. Fortunately, his mind has not been affected. We are deeply thankful that the stroke did not occur while he was on his roof! And, we are deeply thankful that his mind wasn't affected.

I started an aran cardigan for him years ago. It is on my "let's finish all the unfinished projects" list. It got moved up today to the top of the list. I thought he might like a cozy sweater to welcome him home, when he comes home. I figure if I finish the sweater quickly, that will guarantee that his recovery will come along quickly as well.

The sweater completion was stalled because I changed the pattern a bit. The original pattern had dropped shoulders. My brother is a bit stocky and I didn't want to have so much aran bulk under the armpits. So, as you can see, I bound off a few stitches to make an armhole. Good plan? Well, I couldn't figure out how to shape the top of the arms appropriately. I have fiddled and faddled and nothing has worked out. I'm bound and determined to have it finished and fit by this weekend. Wish me luck. And, keep my brother in your thoughts and prayers, if you would, please.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Knitter Self-Analysis

I've seen many knitting bloggers tell 10 knitterly things about themselves that no one knew. I don't jump on many band wagons, but the information posted by all the responders led me deep into self-analysis. What kind of a knitter am I anyway?

1. I am a process knitter. I love doing the techniques, the structural aspects, the stitch variations, the shaping variations. But, I really don't care if I ever finish the item!! That's why I have so many unfinished projects around the house, hidden in corners, boxes, drawers, closets, etc., etc.

2. I am a knitter down to my central core being. It identifies who I am. I've been knitting since I was 13. I really can't remember life without knitting. I knit before EZ started knitting camps. I knit with ugly acrylic yarn because it was the "new thing." I knit when it wasn't cool to knit because it epitomized how downtrodden and homebound women were. No self respecting professional woman in a predominantly male profession would ever acknowledged that she knit, much less wear something that she made in public.

3. Sometimes I knit to avoid having to do things I really SHOULD be attending to. Sometimes I fear that I knit so much so as to avoid reality. Is this bad or good?? I don't know.

4. My favorite knitting projects are those I make for other people. It could be a garter stitch wash cloth or an intricate cabled aran cardigan. A piece of my being goes into every stitch. And the recipient darn well better appreciate it!!!!

5. I am extremely proud of everything I make. I crave laudatory comments. I just purchased "mary jane" type shoes so that my hand knit socks can be seen when I wear long pants. I want everyone to see what I made. To be impressed. I want to walk up to strangers and say, "See, I knit this with my own hands. Every single stitch. Aren't you impressed??"

6. I love teaching people to knit. The magic of those loops making a fabric. I tell new learners that there are no mistakes, only techniques in places you don't want them. I particularly like teaching kids to knit. My elementary school after school knitting club has been my favorite activity. the only thing that give me more satisfaction is raising my girls.

7. I firmly believe that if world leaders knew how to knit there wouldn't be wars. If we could just assemble knitters from every country and every religion there would be no more hatred.

8. I purchase more yarn and pattern books and bamboo needles than I can afford. I need to stop. But I don't. This is part of my addiction--the bad part of knitting. We can joke about having a stash to last two or three generations, but I could use that money better elsewhere. I resolve to try harder to control myself. I still have enough fabulous yarn to last the rest of my life.

9. I take it personally that my husband never wore the socks I made for him. They were beautiful. He even lost them. I don't understand why he didn't appreciate them--just knowing that I made them.

10. I hope that I can knit until I die. That I don't get arthritis. That I don't lose my sight. That I don't lose my mental ability to make things. My recent bout with amnesia made me realize that our mind is a blessing. I pray that I don't get Alzheimer's Disease.

so, Knit on! As Elizabeth Zimmerman said, through all of life's crises!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Yahoo!! More projects done!!

Whoppee!! Yahoo! Yes!! Two more FO's on my list!! First, my pride and joy, the lace alphabet blanket from Debbie Bliss' " The Baby Knits Book" (link two posts ago). I used some old Pingouin Mousse yarn, now out of production. The blanket is for one of the twins expected by my daughter's church choir director--a vibrant young woman who already has a 2-year-old. Gender is unknown--therefore, I added the white lace border so that it could be appropriate for either gender--at least, I hope so. After searching the internet and e-Bay, I found some more Pingouin Mousse in turquoise. I will use that for the second blanket. If subsequent ultrasounds show the twins to be girls, I may add some pink lace trim. Or, maybe I'll stick to white trim on both blankets and just forget about colors being tied to gender.
Another of my FO's is the second sock of a pair of Mermaid Socks! Pattern used is from Lucy Neatby's book Cool Socks Warm Feet. (link two posts ago) The socks fit wonderfully, even thought the ankle looks a bit skinny in this photo. It is skinny in real life also. However, the winding ribbing makes for a snug fit that keeps the sock cuffs up and prevents them from falling down. I modified the pattern by making a 30 stitch garter stitch cuff, rather than a 15 stitch cuff. I used an Opal yarn and I don't know the color # because I threw the band away. I was afraid that one skein would not be sufficient, however it was!! I have enough left over for a pair of baby bootees!
My last photo is one of me and my older daughter on her 30th birthday. I remember my 30th birthday vividly. her father gave me Willie Nelson's "Stardust" album (a vinyl record, this was before CD's everyone) with the notation that it was "goldie oldies for a goldie moldy!" Since we are from the generation that believed no one over 30 was to be trusted, turning 30 was a life-shaking event. Sigh. I'm not really old enough to have a 30 year old daughter; nevertheless, she went and turned 30 anyway. I have been blessed to have her living in "my" same town for the past 3 years. This coming January, however, she will move to New Zealand to pursue graduate studies at the University in Auckland. I will miss her very, very much. Letting go of our children is the hardest job parents have. We raise them to be wonderful independent adults, and then they thank us by leaving the home nest!!! My daughter deserves every exciting moment she can squeeze out of life and should be free to follow her dreams wherever they lead. But I will miss her.
For the perceptive readers, you have noticed that I am wearing my Violets by the River shawl, designed by Hazel Carter and made out of silk/merino laceweight from Blackberry Ridge. The color is true to life. The best lavender/violet every made. I love their yarns and their patterns. Lucky for me, their mill is about 30 miles from my home.

My UFO list is shrinking. I need to do the lace edging for my Dale of Norway cardigan for myself and the second sock for my Pomatamous pair. I need to work on my husband's Dale of Norway multi color ski sweater. And, I need to finish my brother's aran sweater that I started 3 years ago. And, I need to finish that lace shawl for myself made out of yarn I bought when I attended Meg Swanson's Knitting Camp in 2002-- Joslyn's Fiber AngleHair. the colorway is a deep, deep cherry that doesn't seem to be made anymore.

Hmm, this isn't a short list, is it. Don't tell anyone that I already cast on for a new pair of mermaid socks that will be a Christmas present. I am using Meilenweit colortweed, color way 1001. If you can find theyarn, use it. It is the colors of a fall sunset.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lucy Neatby, my hero; and progress!!

I love Lucy Neatby's patterns. She is creative, whimsical and interesting. A Lucy Neatby pattern is never, never boring. Knitting the item may take forever, but the experience is never boring. I have completed the first of her Mermaid Socks from Cool Socks, Warm Feet (see link in previous entry); they provide the best fit of any sock I have made to date--and I've made at lest 60 pair. It would help, however, if I followed the pattern! She clearly and unequivocally says to cast on 15 stitches for the sideways garter stitch cuff. Somehow, I was convinced that the pattern said 30 stitches. 142 garter stitch rows on size 0 needles (2 mm) was tedious and boring, but I had faith in Lucy. I wondered why my garter stitch cuff looked so much bigger than hers, but I figured she folded hers down, like the bobby socks days. When I checked the pattern today to begin sock #2, I realized that I had totally misread the pattern. My mistake completely. Forgive me, Lucy, for ever doubting you!!!
Do you think I can count these two as a FO of a pair of socks?? Or, do I need to make two more socks, and then have two FO's????
This, however, is definitely a FO. It is the accursed vest that I described in my previous blog. It was made out of Mission Falls wool, and is the Main Vest from Quinte Scrapbook. (link in previous blog.) I think it turned out very well, and just in time for Wisconsin Fall.
And, I love my buttons. They are pewter teapots and cups! In my non-knitting life I collect teacups and saucers--antique and new.

Above is a recent FO that I forgot to list in my UFO list in my previous entry. It is a wide ribbon yarn from Phildar that I purchased this summer at Galleries Lafayette in Paris! It made a thick vibrant scarf--I used a wrap and drop stitch so that the fabric would be more flexible. I had finished knitting the scarf weeks ago, but never worked in the ends. I ended up taking a sewing needle and thread to sew the ends to adjacent stitches--to avoid frayed edges sticking out.
My Debbie Bliss lace alphabet baby blanket is nearly done. (link to book is in my previous entry.) I absolutely love, love, love it. As you can see, I have completed the entire inside alphabet of the blanket. I am using a smooth white yarn for the lace edging.
I have completed three sides of the knitted on lace, and have one long side to go. I hope to have that side completed by the end of the week--for a third FO!!!! Then, I will start alphabet blanket #2. My daughter's choir director is having twins!!!!!
Oh no, wait, wait. I made a vow. No new projects on needles until I finish all of my UFO's. That means, I will need to work on the Dale of Norway sweaters--one for myself and one for my husband. Rats!! I really like working on these baby blankets!!
It is fall here in Wisconsin and the Monarch butterflies are on their way to Mexico, passing through.
And, the Thai Pavillion in our botanical gardens is a glowing contrast to the fall colors in the garden. Here it is reflected in its pool. That's real gold leaf that covers it in its entirety.

And, a photo from the garden's kaleidoscope. The lens is pointed at a revolving dish of plants.

Keep finishing those UFO's!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Race of the UFO's

Rats! I want to put new yarn on the needles, begin new projects, try out some of new patterns. But, I have a pile of UFO's that should have been finished long, long ago. I lost a bit of knitting time when I was in the hospital, but my brain is now nearly fully recovered and I am at full knitting strength!

Rats, again! I tried to take photos of my UFO's so you could vote on which to finish first, but my camera opened, then told me the battery was dead, and closed again! so, I don't have photos. But, I'll make a list. Oldest first. [Remember the March Race of the UFO's? There are some repeats on this list!!)

Item #1. I began this project four years ago, during a car trip across the United States from Wisconsin to Oregon and back. It is the Shaped Triangle lace shawl designed by Katie Nagorney and Ann Swanson in A Gathering of Lace.

Item #2. I don't know when I began this (cursed) Main Vest from Mission Falls Quinte Scrapbook. I quite forgot about it. Completely. Gone from the memory bank. Then, this summer, my husband brought out a red bookstore bag filled with "some knitting stuff". Puzzled, I opened it and voila, an almost finished vest!! (God, I hate it when my husband finds the hidden unfinished objects!!!) The two fronts were done and the back was done. Hmm, I thought, this will take only one evening to sew together and finish! Wrong. After sewing one of the front shoulders to the back, I discovered that I had two left fronts!! Then, I discovered that the neck shaping for the sewn-in left front was on the armhole side, not the middle side!! I frogged both fronts. Then, I frogged the armhole ribbing twice. Then, I frogged the entire neck and front ribbing twice. Now, I lost the buttons that I bought in Seattle last month. Now I know why the red bookstore bag was hidden--the project was in a multi-year timeout!!

Item #3. A Dale of Norway one color sweater that is almost, almost done. Started last December. This was supposed to be a fast, simple, comfortable sweater that would take a few weeks. But, I have lost the pattern. It's somewhere hiding. I know it is almost done--sewn together. I need to do the neck and front band. the pattern is #13 Lerk, from the Adult Fall 2003 No. 126 booklet. It is make out of Sisik, a great yarn that was discontinued. Sigh. I'll find the book or wing it soon.

Item #4. My husband's Dale of Norway sweater. Started January 2006. Enough said. (See my March 16, 2006 post!)

Item #4. Socks. After seeing so many of these socks on blogs I broke down and started the Potamous socks. Of course, now I can't find a link to the pattern or who wrote the pattern, but I love the socks. I'd wear them if I had only one foot. Seems that I started these in late spring, then summer came........

Item #5. Socks. Lucy Neatby's Mermaid socks. Started in Seattle in August 2006. Still unfinished.

Favorite Item #6. Baby Blanket. Started September 2006. Yippee!!! I know of three babies that are due to be born in the next few months. My daughter's choir director is expecting twins!!! She already has a two year old. A female faculty member in my husband's department is expecting a baby in October. So, I started a baby blanket out of some old Pingoin Mousse-a very soft acrylic. And, I've always wanted to knit the lace alphabet blanket from Debbie Bliss' "The Baby Knits Book" I started two weeks ago and already I am knitting on the lace edging!! I've been knitting up a storm. Do I want to make a second blanket so these are for the twins, or should I give it to my husband's colleague. There is LOT of knitting in this cuddly blanket....I don't really know the colleague well. I know the choir director much better, and she has nurtured my daughter in her singing for 11 years......

Knitter's Vow: I firmly resolve that I will finish all these UFO's before starting a new project, no matter how tempting the yarn, no matter how tempting the pattern!!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A life cut short

This is a photo of my cousin, Steve; he was a physician. As an adult, I kept track of him through my mom, who kept in touch with her sister, his mother. Last week my mother called to say that Steve had committed suicide.
Steve was a Lt. Col. in the Air Force and chief of medical operations for an air force base in the U.S. In 1996 he was stationed in Saudi Arabia when some people who opposed the U.S. politics and intervention bombed an Air Force barracks. Steve was thrown across his room in the barracks and injured with a chest wound. Despite his wounds (that needed surgery) he roused himself, helped evacuate others, walked to the medical compound and began to treat the injured. Others realized that he needed surgery himself and forced him to stop treating the injured. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Force Airman's Medal.

Steve also rescued civilians from hiking, mountaineering and other accidents. he took care of the personnel and families at the various Air Force bases to which he was assigned.
His co-workers and superiors all praised his good humor, his excellent medical skills, his humor, his ability to defuse difficult situations with a smile, a one-liner or good humor, his willingness to go out of the way to help others without being asked. They unanimously volunteered that he was both an outstanding leader, a mentor and a hero to them. Air Force personnel around the globe mourn his loss.
As does his family. He comes from a close knit family. His parents are involved in their church and in their community. His mother, who finished high school, is on the Fire Commission Board, among others. His father, who worked on an assembly line and moved up to management, is on the town board, among others.
Why would such a talented, loving and well loved man kill himself? He who regularly and selflessly saved lives in war and in peace? Was it because of the depression he suffered since the 1996 attack on the barracks in Saudi Arabia? Was it because of the debilitating and severe headaches that run in our family?
We don't know.

I never talked politcs with Steve. We probably agreed more than we disagreed--he was committed to defending our country by saving lives in war. I oppose the wars and battles our country has recently fought.

Oh, if my knitting could ease the pain of his parents, his sisters and his friends. If only I could knit a magic, healing shawl that would take the place of his comforting hugs, jokes and smiles.

Many members of the Air Force attended the memorial service for Steve. Each of them was a loyal friend and said that Steve was their hero. Each of them wished Steve had shared his pain so that they could have helped. I was so very, very impressed with all of the service people I met at the memorial.

If you oppose the U.S. foreign policies, do not oppose the military service people. They are all human, and they all suffer while they perform their jobs. My cousin is a casualty of a terrorist bombing--10 years later.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to Basics

I know that many knitters have thought, "I must be losing my mind!" after making a really basic and stupid mistake on a work in progress, or when unable to decipher a complicated knitting instruction. I vow never to use that phrase again--after my experience last weekend. Stay with me.

I had a routine colonoscopy scheduled last Friday morning. I came home from the procedure tired, and took a nap. My husband tells me that I then complained of a splitting headache and I fell to the floor vomiting. He soon realized that I could not remember having the procedure, having two daughters, living in Barcelona, visiting Barcelona this summer, etc., etc. He called our clinic which recommended calling 911. I was in the local ER for 9 hours, undergoing many tests including a CAT scan to make sure I had not suffered a stroke. What was clear was that I could not remember anything about my life, my recent past or my distant past. I knew my husband, but that was all. I did not know why I was in the ER. I vacillated between sobbing, sleeping and total confusion.

I went from the ER to a hospital room where I spent 2 days, gradually recovering pieces of my memory. My memory was triggered by photo images. That is, while sleeping I would remember a photo I had taken this summer and when awakening, I would ask my husband about the photo. For example, I recalled a photo of my 30 year old daughter that I took this summer during our family reunion; she was on a pontoon boat. After I described this photo, my husband explained that this was during the family reunion.

While in the hospital, my husband brought my current sock project, shown in my previous post. Although I could not remember where I was in the pattern, and I could not muster sufficient brain power to figure it out, I clutched my knitting as a tenuous but tangible link to my identity and my past.

I now remember almost everything and can fill in the missing pieces with help from family and friends. I also have very poor short term memory. But, I am making progress.

Thus, the short row wash cloth. I needed a short and easy project to reconnect with knitting.

The flower is from my trip to Seattle at the end of August, which I am starting to remember.

The rainbow, also from Seattle, is hope for future.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Of Seattle, Stash and Socks

Sorry for the lapse in postings. I just returned from a week in the Pacific Northwest where I visited friends Judy and Pete-- whom I met while living in Barcelona--, my brother and my step-daughter. Of course, I also visited yarn shops and did a bit of knitting. More of that later.

Here's Judy lounging over her kitchen counter--her first passion is excellent food and another of her passions (after husband, Pete, and their kids) is knitting. She and I spent many hours knitting in Turo Park in Barcelona, drinking Claras (a combination of beer and lemonade), cafes con leche and cava (Spanish champagne). Ah, for the good days... I had a fabulous time eating Judy's outstanding food, participating in her ever-busy daily life and enjoying her warm company.
Judy and Pete always have more projects in the works than any ten sane people. This isn't to say that Judy and Pete aren't sane--it's just that their projects are larger than any knitting project I can think of. For example, they purchased a new house this summer to use as a type of B and B. If you think the house is gorgeous, you should see the river, the woods, the pond, etc., etc.
And the beds--made by Pete himself. He had to build a step platform so ordinary humans can get into the bed!!
And, I can't withhold a photo of the pond with waterfall. Judy and Pete also cut trails through the woods, down to the river that has a swimming hole not far away.
Don't tell Judy and Pete, but the real reason I went to visit them is to see their little Westhighland Terrier, Chica, who was acquired in Barcelona. Chica is the cutest, spunkiest, funniest little animal who tears around her acres of property acting like the Queen of Everything. She is the first dog I felt I could live with.
Judy and I took time for a Seattle yarn shop crawl one afternoon. However, we only hit two GREAT places before my money and space in my luggage were depleted. First, we stopped at Weaving Works , a shop that has everything for the weaver and knitter. I bought the regia sock yarn and some On Line purple sock yarn. The second store we visited, Hilltop Yarn ,was having a sale--I purchased Debbie Bliss Merino DK (40% off!!!) for making two (or more) color mittens for Christmas presents and
LaGran mohair for making Christmas-present scarves. There is something about the end of summer that makes me buy mohair. I think it's because when I was in high school mohair cable knit sweaters were in style. They were made with BIG needles and were very airy, but warm and beautiful. I longed for one. I decided to make one as my first knitting project when I was as freshman in high school. I didn't know anything about gauge. So, I purchased fuschia mohair and about size 5 needles. For some reason, my cardigan didn't look anything like those airy sweaters that were in vogue.

For knitting at Judy's house, I decided I had to show off my skill and willingness to make something a little out of the box. I decided to show how I could make one of Lucy Neatby's sock patterns from Cool Socks, Warm Feet.
So, I selected some gorgeous Opal sock yarn, with lots of turquoise blue. After making about 50-60 pairs of socks using the flap heel technique, I was ready to move up to Lucy's garter stitch heel and the Mermaid pattern. Unfortunately, the garter stitch cuff shown in the pattern is significantly narrower than the garter stitch cuff I made--following the directions. My cuff is big enough for a scarf!!! Also, my spiral fishtail pattern narrows the sock significantly--contrary to the lovely photo in the pattern book.
I have already frogged the spiral fishtail portion and completed heel, and added more stitches for the new fishtail section. The photo shows the second attempt. this time the sock fits better, but I'm not sure if the additional six stitches will result in a fuller heel that actually fits my foot's heel. I will keep you posted. (but, don't tell Judy that I had problems with this sock. She told her friends that I was a fabulous knitter (blush, blush) and I don't want to ruin my reputation in Seattle!!)

This next photo shows a location in Seattle--can anyone guess what it is?? I visited this location with my brother. I also did a bit of knitting in its coffee shop!

I leave you with this photo from Flower World in Maltby, outside of Seattle. If you want to see more roses, plants, trees, ground covers, etc., than you have ever seen assembled in one place--go to Flower World. Almost worth the trip to the West Coast in itself.