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Just A Quick Hello

I have not had the time lately to post and I really miss it. But everything here has been at sixes and sevens and I haven’t been able to steal a moment.

My mother-in-law who died was in the middle of crocheting a baby blanket for the newest great grandchild and my sister-in-law asked if I would like to finish it. I was honored to be asked. The package with blanket-in-progress arrived yesterday. As is usual with those who crochet or knit a lot, my mother-in-law was crocheting from her own pattern in her head. It wasn’t hard to figure out where she was going with the squares that will make up the blanket. Nor was it difficult to discern the same hook size she was using. I practiced until my crocheting looked like hers with the same gauge and all. Then I got to work.

I am not first and foremost a crocheter. The squares are done in the granny square style so they are not overly complicated. However, at the end of the round I am at a loss as to how to join the last round and begin the new round. Her joins are flawless and not noticeable at all. I am pretty sure the end of one round and beginning of the next takes place in a corner but the ways I’ve tried are clearly not like hers.

I’d love to show you a picture of the blanket but the battery in my camera is dead and I still haven’t loaded the photo software into the computer after fixing the hard drive. I’m telling you life has just been crazy.

I have this feeling of dread creeping over me that the great grandchild will be in college before I get this thing figured out. That would be completely unacceptable.

I’m off to scour youtube and see of they have any videos on ending and beginning a crochet round.

 

I assure you, knitting is taking place. I am working on the Cameron Shetland Shawl by Susan Miller.

the-cameron-shawl

I am working from the center out, which means I only need navigate 125 stitches at a time. The stitch repeat is only 10 or 12 stitches. Oh the numerous ways a 10 to 12 stitch repeat can go wrong. Let’s count them, shall we?

1) Knit the wrong row entirely. Repeat this periodically throughout the 242 row process.
2) Knit while someone is talking to you.
3) Knit while watching television.
4) Dog steals knitting and dismantles it to his liking. Dismantle what dog has dismantled and try to pick up stitches from life line.
5) Realize you can’t see life line because it is a very pale lavender and fades away completely against the white frothy-ness of the Shetland yarn. Starting from the beginning is the only answer. Do not cry. It is too early in the process for crying.
6) Toss stash for a darker life line yarn. Come up empty. Have an argument with yourself over whether to shelve the knitting until you go to the store and get a darker yarn or to continue with the very pale lavender because you’re afraid a darker cotton yarn might unintentionally stain the white Shetland yarn. When the migraine appears, knitting is done for the night effectively ending the debate. Take two headache pills. Go to bed.
7) Memorize the repeat of a row, only memorize it wrong. When you get to the end of the row notice the stitch count is off. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line and try to pick up the tiny white stitches. Make a cup of Chamomile tea, drink it slowly while repeating the words “It’s okay. Everything will be fine.” Put the knitting away for the night.
8) Memorize repeat of row, memorize it correctly. At end of row stitch count is off. Carefully review row. Repeat the review at least 3 more times. Fail to see where the mistake is. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line. Crying is now allowed.

Of the 242 rows I managed to knit 60 rows successfully.

Perhaps it is just where I live but the state of knitting seems to be on the wane. The large Barnes and Noble store near me no longer carries any knitting magazines. Vogue Knits, Interweave Knits, Verena, Debbie Bliss, Knitting Universe are all gone from the shelves. None of the workers I asked had a clue, but one said that knitting magazines “just don’t sell”.

I went to the local Joann’s Fabric store to see if they had any knitting magazines and they too had none. When I asked about it, I got the same answer that they don’t sell.

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. My own automatic magazine buying stopped a long time ago. I did like to flip through the knitting magazines, occasionally buying one if there was a technique in it that particularly interested me.

I suppose the internet has made it hard for the print magazines to exist. But I do miss flipping through the issues looking at the projects and the advertisements. Not having the magazines out there is just one more way in which knitting loses its visibility.

 

Where I’ve Been

Just before Christmas I lost my computer to a broken hard drive. I didn’t know hard drives could break. It’s not like I use the computer in an Indy 500 kind of way. But break it did.

Try to get a computer fixed over the holidays. It doesn’t happen, my friends. I had to get the original operating system from the maker. I can say with a high level of certainty that I will never buy this particular brand of computer again.

At Christmas we lost my mother-in-law. No one was feeling festive.

Next up my Barnes and Noble nook died. I’ve had it for years–their original version. Because I read voraciously, the nook prevents books from collecting all over the house. My mother-in-law was also a voracious reader and we often talked about authors and shared good reads.

Then the year old car had a number of indecipherable icons light up, most with exclamation marks besides them so it conveyed a sense of urgency to understand what the hieroglyphs meant and get them fixed.

At this point, I was feeling the fates just were not with me. Though I was knitting it wasn’t the relaxing kind of work. I was making fingerless gloves to go with the cowl I knit. For the life of me, I couldn’t seem to reverse instructions when it came to the right hand glove. I ripped out twice. Then I knit a full glove only to find it too wasn’t a right hand glove. Yarn Rascal was craving the particular yarn I was working with. Rather than rip yet again Salpal suggested I gift the glove to Yarn Rascal, who had sat in my lap diligently holding the end of the glove in his mouth while I knit it. He is now the recipient of a fingerless glove and sends his love and thanks to Aunt Salpal. He says he owes you one.

Pictures of all will be coming as soon as I repurchase the photo editing software and install it.

Right now Yarn Rascal is sitting in the doorway with a pen in his mouth. It means he’s gotten into the desk drawer again, a place he shouldn’t be in. His tail is wagging madly because he knows he shouldn’t have the pen but he just can’t help himself.

Ah, me.

 

My newest knit is a cowl and fingerless mitt set from Anne Hanson called curling neckwarmer and mitts

curling-cowl-knitting-2

The neckwarmer and one mitt is complete. I can say they were an enjoyable knit because the knitting gods have already turned their attention on me and the second mitt. It is masochistic knitting at its best. The mitt was started three times because I seemed unable to put the thumb gusset in the proper place for a right handed mitt.

To complicate matters more, and afterall that is what masochistic knitting is all about, complicating things to the nth degree, I decided to knit the mitts on US size one needles that are nine inch circulars. The needles are teeny-weeny things. At first, I thought I had definitely found the way to madness. The pattern is composed of knit and purls and the purls were coming out looser than usual causing ladders. I worked on the way I held and knit on the needles and the results were much better. The problem that this change in knitting caused was once I got my knit on with the teeny circulars when I went to knit on regular size needles I was all messed up. So I decided the answer was monogamy. I will knit only the mitt until it is done no matter how much my knitting desires tend to roam.

The second problem, Yarn Rascal loves the mitts. They are small, fit nicely in his mouth and they are made of yarn. Yarn Rascal is on his liver medication and eating his special food so he is feeling much more like himself. Thus while I am knitting this tiny mitt on these teeny needles Yarn Rascal is sitting in my lap with the end of the glove in his mouth. Not optimal knitting circumstances.

He is so enamored of these mitts and the tiny needles that he stole the project last night and hid it. Before I could knit on it I had to find it which took a good twenty minutes. The dog really knows how to hide things.

If all goes as planned, and I have no reason to believe that it will, I should have the second mitt done before the polar vortex leaves. If not, then maybe by next summer.

Yarn Rascal

This past week has been kind of rough. We learned that Yarn Rascal, who is 3 years old, has a small liver that is giving him problems. While the vet says the “prognosis is good” it has meant all kinds of changes. First he must take medication which he doesn’t like at all. Second we must feed him small amounts of special food three times a day. This just kills me because I had worked so hard to find organic high quality food which he loved. The special food is made up of chemicals which I am not comfortable with, but is necessary if we want to keep the liver from going into cirrhosis.

Yarn Rascal was given to me by The Skipper when I was in the middle of my breast cancer treatments and felt I just couldn’t continue on with them. I had hit a wall physically and mentally. Yarn Rascal rescued me and helped me continue my treatments. He is also the driving force behind my staying on my cancer medication for these last three years even though I am constantly in pain from it. Needless to say, this is all upsetting.

Yarn Rascal has a natural sunny disposition and is getting back to being himself though there is a lot that he can no longer have. His chew bones that he loved is one of the casualties. Needless to say, Yarn Rascal from here on in will have full access to the yarn vault and the Rubbermaid bins he so loves to open. It is my hope that Yarn Rascal stays with me for a long time still, but I only have so much control over what his liver does.

Yes, it is finally done. The Pothos Shawl for my SIL is finally done. I am very much in love with the result. The pattern by Anne Hanson is well written and clear. All the trouble I had with this shawl stemmed from me alone and not from the pattern. It turned out to be a big beautiful piece of knitting. Pothos is the name of an Asian plant with leaves the shape of which are in the shawl.

As I said in my last post, the gods of knitting don’t like smugness nor do they like giddiness. Remember I was “giddy” that I only had 3 rows left and the bind off. I should never have even hinted I was anywhere near the feeling of happiness. The knitting gods got me and got me good.

The Skipper was out-of-town overnight on what I thought would be the final night of shawl knitting. All that was left was the bind off. I was breathless with happiness. It is a big shawl and the bind off was going to take most of the night. Before I sat down to begin, Yarn Rascal and I went for a rummage through the yarn vault where he selected a small ball of left over yarn as his companion for the evening. Yarn Rascal with his ball of yarn and I with the shawl sat down on the living room couch for an evening of bliss. I had 10 bound off stitches of the 500 plus when it happened. The lights went out. We were pitched into complete darkness, which frightens Yarn Rascal. He jumped into my arms already filled with the shawl and began doing his nervous dance. All I could think of is this is the revenge of the knitting gods. I should have never said I was giddy. There was no reason to lose electricity no storm nor wind outside. It was calm and the moon was nearing full. It all came down to that one word: giddy. It was clear to me that this shawl was going to vex me until it was packed up and sent out of here to it’s new owner.

I untangled Yarn Rascal from the shawl and held him while I stumbled around searching for my cell phone which has a flashlight feature. A few banged shins and a lot of curse words later I put my hands on it and turned it on. Yarn Rascal went wild. He is not a calm little dog in a power outage. I thought of setting up candles to provide him some light, but I don’t like to leave burning candles unattended and I would need to do that in order to set up the generator, which I have only set up once before. I opened the drapes instead and let the moonlight in. This did not soothe him. I had to battle him to get to and through the door into the garage and generator. How long can a dog bark, yelp, and throw himself against a closed door? Well it seems Yarn Rascal is a marathon barker, yelper and jumper. The dog has endurance. He kept it up the whole while I tried to set up the generator.

Setting up the generator by moving it outside the garage door is a 5 minute job for the person who knows what he’s doing. Key word here is “know”. The first thing I realized is that the garage is absolutely black darkness when there are no lights. The second thing I realized is that the flashlight on the phone doesn’t make much of a dent into that darkness. And the third thing I came to understand is I need light to walk down a group of stairs properly. Waving the flashlight around looking for the generator and not concentrating on the number of steps I had to descend got me to the bottom of the stairs more quickly than I expected.

The garage is a two car variety. The garage door is large. It also runs on electricity but can, hypothetically, be opened manually. How hard can that be? I positioned myself and bent over to lift the garage door. It came up maybe three inches before it snagged, at which point I could hold it no longer, and it slammed shut the way a guillotine whooshes down just missing my feet. No problem, I thought. Just assume ballet position number two, making sure the feet are out of the way and try again. Same thing happened. Something was preventing the garage door from going up. I take up the flashlight and run it over the mechanism of the door. Sure enough the door has a “safety” feature on it which is a lock that prevents people from just lifting the door up and gaining entrance. The little handle for unlocking the lock was dangling over my head and out of reach. I tried jumping up to grab it and pull it down, but unlike Yarn Rascal, who was still going strong, I finally had no jump left in me after a handful of tries.

Looking around I noticed there were no ladders in the garage. They were all up in the barn. I had a decision to make: I could walk all the way up to the barn with no lights and hope that I wouldn’t meet a coyote or a mountain lion or I could find something in the garage to stand on and then jump from that and grab the release handle. Briefly I eyed the tractor. If I stood on the seat I was at the perfect height to grab the handle. But the tractor was back in the corner and not positioned where I needed it. Also I had at least two hours worth of things to move out of the way to get the tractor in position. Lastly there were no keys in the tractor and I had no idea where they were.

The next thing I came up with was a milk crate. While not tall enough for me to reach the handle even on tippy toes it did give me a higher platform to jump from and attempt to grab the handle. My thinking and attention was totally centered on grabbing the handle to release the lock and I never once thought about where I would land once I launched myself into the air. This was an important oversight.

I placed the milk crate under the handle stood on top of it and jumped like I was going for a gold medal. My hand touched then grabbed the handle and I heard the lock click open. I experienced a very brief feeling of success that ended in some pain when I landed amid the clutter on the garage floor. I remember being surprised that the chain saw was on the floor, but it was a fleeting surprise as I crashed into saw horses, two by four pieces of wood, a full gallon can of gasoline and a wooden bench I never saw but would have worked better than the milk crate.

I got up, dusted myself, off ignored the bleeding and went to open the darn garage door. This time I got the door open a good 10 inches (25) cm before it whooshed back down trying to sever my toes from my feet. I tried it three more times, but the problem was my left arm, the mastectomy side. While my right arm was strong enough to lift and then push up, my left arm couldn’t do the push motion. Down the door crashed.

I thought for a bit. If I could wedge something underneath the garage door to hold it at the 10 inches (25) cm, I could then reposition myself to lift it a little more and wedge a taller item under it and if I could get it up high enough doing it this way I would be able to push it all the way open. But what was I going to use as wedges? After much searching and a bad encounter with a rake (never leave the tines outward where they are easily stepped on in the dark), I found an entire set of the Encyclopedia Britannica high up on a shelf in the far back of the garage. The Skipper is probably the last person on earth with a complete set. But they would work well, I thought, as wedges. I was planning how I was going to climb up to the shelf and get the books when I noticed that Yarn Rascal was silent. I called his name. Nothing. Was the dog dead? Was he eating the shawl? Did he have a nervous breakdown? I picked my way back around the garage, avoiding the rake, to the stairs. When I opened the door there was Yarn Rascal sitting panting in the middle of the shawl, his ball of yarn by his side and the lights were on. We had lights again!

Needless to say, I didn’t finish the bind off that night. I cleaned out the cuts and scrapes I had gotten in my fall, looked in my medical chart to see when my last tetanus shot was and decided to call it an evening. The knitting gods had won another round

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