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I almost hate to write this because it seems like I am taunting the powers-that-be, but maybe if I whisper it they won’t hear. Things are going well.

The big beige thing that is the MIL shawl is nearing the end. The nupps are no longer giving me problems and I seem to be in rhythm with the pattern. (Please note all of this is subject to change if the powers-that-be catch on.) I worked 20 rows last night of nupps, central decreases and yarn overs and didn’t drop or add a stitch, nor did I need to rip back. It was amazing. I was at peace with the knitting and the knitting was at peace with me just like in the old days.

News from the great outdoors: Hank the great blue heron is back. I thought of Hank all winter long. At Christmas time I bought him a present. Two heron statutes showing herons in their two most common stances. I call the statues Orville and Wilbur. They have been alternating duty at the pond. I only place one of them at a time down there because herons are solitary and wouldn’t be in a group. Religiously through out the day I change where the statue is positioned around the pond.

Well Hank dropped in the other day and was quite taken aback by the heron statue. I believe it was Wilbur who was on duty. Hank landed quite a distance from the pond and just stared at the intruder. This gave me the opportunity to chase Hank by rattling the keys on my key chain. Yes, he doesn’t like the sound that keys make when clinked together! Today, Orville is on duty.

So for now I am as happy as a raccoon who’s found left over pizza in a garbage bin.

What are nupps? Nupps are a group of knit ones and yarnovers made into a single stitch. On the wrong side row these knit ones and yarnovers are purled together in groups of 5 or 7 stitches and made into one. When done properly they form a neat stitch cluster. In reality they are not hard to produce, though their reputation is one of difficulty. A relaxed tension and a focused mind is all you really need.

However, relaxed and focused are not natural to masochistic knitting. Before knitting a 100 plus stitch row that includes nupps, central decreases and lace be sure you are thoroughly distracted. It can’t be emphasized enough that the distraction level must be so great that when you look at what you’re knitting you don’t have a clue as to where you are in the row or for that matter what row you’re even on. In short, the knitting looks alien to you.

Such a preoccupied state of mind can be achieved in many ways. Having someone dear to you ailing while you await a call back from the doctor is a strong mental distraction. At the same time, your adorable fur baby suddenly develops a limp which you are sure means he’s going to loose one leg.  You are now in a holding pattern waiting for doctors and vet to call back, running through your mind again and again what you are going to say to them. For the coupe de grace turn on the television to the news channel.

Now you are sufficiently prepared to pick up your knitting and tackle those nupps, lace and central decreases. When something goes wrong, as it certainly will, it is not a matter of simply tinking back a few stitches. If it is a right side row tinking back a central decrease almost always causes a dropped stitch that you can never find until you rip back to your lifeline. If it is a wrong side row, the chance of successfully picking up the group of five knit ones and yarnovers is about the same as you winning the total jackpot at powerball. Again, ripping back to the lifeline becomes a necessity.

At the end of the evening, exhausted and spent, you have knit only one row successfully. But the fur baby isn’t going to lose his leg. In fact, after the vet called he stopped limping altogether. The ailing loved one is still ailing but now has the proper medication to remedy the situation. And you still have 15 more rows of nupps, central decreases and yarnovers awaiting you tomorrow.

 

I am knitting away on the MIL shawl. Only 88 more rows until I start the first border. MadelineTosh called the colorway Antique Lace. When I first started out knitting it I could see the antique lace color. But now, after a few weeks of knitting only on this shawl, I am beginning to think of it as “the big beige thing”. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful colorway, just when I knit it night after night I lose sight of its beauty.

When I am not fully engaged in knitting that’s when other trouble projects around the house and garden come to my attention. And so it was that I finally decided to redo the caulking around the tub in the bathroom I hate. While knitting on the MIL shawl I have been watching a ton of DIY project shows from renovating the whole house by one’s self to smaller projects like building a tiny home by one’s self. These shows make everything look so doable.

What I really want to do is take a sledge hammer to this particular bathroom and renovate it myself. Since I couldn’t readily put my hands on the sledge hammer, I decided to re-caulk the tub instead. In the DIY television shows caulking takes mere seconds. Reality was a little different.

This is how I caulked my tub. First, pick the initial day of a four day hot and humid streak of weather. The humidity level is what is important here. It must rival or exceed the humidity found in the Amazon Rainforest. In short, the humidity level should be such that nothing will ever dry.

Next, unearth the caulk that’s been hanging around in the basement since the turn of the century and has a long old fashioned ice pick sticking in it’s nozzle that unrealistically technically keeps the caulk from drying up and clogging the opening. Bring that up the four flights of stair to the hated bathroom and despised tub. Sit on the edge of the tub and look at the entire area that needs caulking. Realize the current insufficient caulking must be removed before new caulking goes on. Think about where the tool to remove the old caulking might be. Not having an idea where the tool actually is, put down the caulking gun and walk down four flights of stairs to the basement. The basement is where the tool most likely would have ended up after its last use. Where in the basement is another story entirely.

After two hours and with the tool finally in hand walk up four flights of stairs to the really, really hated bathroom. Sit on the edge of the tub and remove all the old caulking. With the sweat dripping from every pore in your body, it is now time to caulk the cursed tub. Pick up the caulking tube in the caulking gun and try to remove the ice pick from the nozzle. Use every method that comes to mind to try and remove the ice pick. Finally place gun on edge of tub, sit down and brace it with your feet against the tub, use all your body weight to pull the damn ice pick out. When ice pick releases fall backwards and smack head on toilet.

With ice pick removed, squeeze caulking gun with both hands until caulking shows at the nozzle’s tip. Do this repeatedly for about 10 minutes or longer until you completely understand that the caulking is not coming out of the gun. Take a moment to wipe the sweat from your brow while you think about whether you have another caulking tube anywhere in the house. Walk down four flights of stairs to the basement because if there is another caulking tube it is somewhere down there.

Hours later with another caulking tube with an ice pick in its nozzle walk up four flights of stairs  wrestle the caulking tube into the gun. Immediately sit down and brace gun against tub with feet and prepare to yank ice pick out. Position self so head is not aligned with toilet. Grab hold of ice pick with both hands and pull. Ice pick comes out easily. Hope springs eternal.

Squeeze caulking gun with both hands until you’re tired of squeezing. No caulking comes out. Lay back on the cool tile of the bathroom floor and realize you need to go to the hardware store and you look like a mess. Calculate the number of people who you will know who will see you looking like something the cat vomited up. Decide you no longer care, you just want to caulk the @#%! tub.

It is now three days later. The tub has been caulked and the caulking is still drying. Thankfully we have a second bathroom because the caulking may never dry in the despised bathroom. In the meantime, I am still working on “the big beige thing” and watching DIY programs.

 

The Pembroke baby sweater pattern is now live on Ravelry.

pembroke knit baby sweater

My original inspiration for designing this was the rugby sweater. Tired of the same old stripes, I played around with color and shape to create a look that was not like everything else out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 2016

The result is an individualist sweater that is different from the rest of the stripes out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater sideways cu

Best of all, the unique look doesn’t come at the expense of knitting frustration. The sweater is a quick, fun knit done in garter stitch. The striping is only on the front, leaving the back plain, so there is no anxiety of having to match up stripes when finishing the sweater. The rolled neck, hem and cuffs also make for easy finishing. The stripes are made in easy no-wrap short-rows. The short-row instructions are easy to follow and the knitter can’t get lost. Each row is written out and stitches are counted for you. All you need do is enjoy the knitting.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 4

I had planned the weekend to be quiet and fruitful. I was going to make a major dent in the shawl work, hopefully knocking out most of the 168 lace rows of the body so I can start the first border on Monday.

You know what they say about plans.

Friday morning the entire plan was negated. Instead, I went in for emergency root canal work on a tooth that is perfectly healthy, except that pressure mysteriously built up inside of it.

I don’t relate to dentistry well. In fact it has gone past absolute fear into absolute phobia. The panic starts the minute I know I’m headed to the dentist.

Because of my extreme phobia, I have a very good dentist who specializes in people like me. I mean how many dentist’s offices have a meditation room, massaging dental chairs, a tv in every room, and head phones where you can listen to any type of music you want? I always choose the spa music channel. She also has nice soft pillows to fit around your neck. Cozy, soothing, blankets, and eye pads that keep the harsh dental light out of your eyes.

So Friday was a lost cause. Between pain meds and the terror of going through the root canal, I was totally spent.

Saturday dawned and I was still drained. This time with the lingering hangover from having gotten my nerves so strung out plus I was still on the pain medication.

Now it’s Sunday and I am feeling more myself and I plan to tackle the shawl as soon as I figure out what the hell the immature red tail hawk is doing. He is extremely immature, I can tell by his markings, but I am not sure that his mind is all there. He flew into and got tangled up in the butterfly bush early this morning. He can fly from tree to tree, but he doesn’t go into the upper branches like hawks do so they can see their food source. So far he’s swooped down and pounced on a stick, which he then preceded to play with for 15 minutes. Jumping away from it, then pouncing back on it. He also swooped down and pounced on a rather large leaf and exhibited the same playing movements.

He sits in the trees and will cry for hours. When he’s not crying, he’s sleeping. He shows no fear of us and I am wondering if he’s getting enough food. I don’t eat meat or flesh of any kind, but The Skipper has a big steak in the fridge for his dinner tonight. I am wondering if I cut a nice slab off, and if I can locate some falconry gloves, if the hawk would eat out of my hand. I have some knowledge of hawking.

Like I said, I am planning on working on the shawl today and knitting does require two hand and two arms that are working. But the hawk is once again awake. I’m going to call around the neighborhood. Somebody must have falconry gloves they can lend me.

By the end of the summer, I promise to have a completed shawl. Despite the shawl’s best efforts not to be knitted, I have completed 21 of the 41 body rows and am not thinking ahead to the number or rows or nupps in the first border. At the end of this, I may have repeatedly made every mistake one can make while knitting. It is masochistic knitting at its best.

Usually I have the tv on while knitting. In crazy times such as these this is not a good idea. Many mistakes come from the “Wow I can’t believe what I am seeing / hearing” response where I stop in the middle of the lace motif to gape at the television and then editorialize for the next 5 minutes. At the end of the riposte I go back to knitting not realizing I am now knitting the lace motif for the 5th row and not the 3rd row. I knit to the last 3 stitches of the 100 plus stitch row before I realize that things are not coming out right. I curse. Both Yarn Rascal and The Skipper flinch. I am enough rows away from the lifeline that I don’t want to wantonly rip back, which means I now have to tink the row, ssks, double central decreases and all. This can get messy. Stitches can drop and mysteriously disappear into the knitted fabric below necessitating a complete rip back to the lifeline. I do not want that to happen.

Unfortunately, I don’t turn off the tv. As I methodically tink back I come to a double central decrease involving three stitches. At the same time another “I can’t believe this” moment happens on tv and in that short blink of an eye one of the three stitches is lost into the knitted fabric below. Now I must rip all the way back to the lifeline.

I editorialize on life, the universe and what’s on tv while ripping back. At one point, it comes to my attention that Yarn Rascal is gnawing away on a small bundle of the ripped out yarn. I remove it from his mouth like one removes dental floss and wind the ripped back yarn onto the ball of yarn.

I put the stitches back on the needles and repeat the whole procedure a second time. That’s when I call it a night.

This is the Estonian Garden Shawl designed by Evelyn Clark that I made many years ago.

estonian garden shawl 3I can’t for the life of me remember the yarn I used. In those days I didn’t make notes on patterns, things like yarn, weight, needle size and my own gauge. I do remember the wool was heavier than what was called for so it is probably fingering weight. I also remember that the composition was wool and cotton. I wanted the cotton for the durability because I intended on wearing it often and it has seen a lot of use through the years.

If you are wondering what are those things on the large border they are nupps. The “just purl seven together” kind of nupps. It was my first time dealing with nupps and I can tell you that there is no such thing as simply purling seven stitches together that are comprised of yarn overs. I also remember tears and thinking I had gotten that far and wouldn’t be able to complete the pattern. Yes, nupps are masochistic knitting at its best.

So there is really no surprise that I selected this pattern for my MIL shawl. I worked on it most of the weekend.

shawl in making

This is the mouse nest that will become her Estonian Garden Shawl. This time I am using MadelineTosh Prairie lace weight yarn in the Antique Lace colorway and a size US 4 needle. I have a long way to go yet before I get to the nupp part.

This, my friends, is a labor of love. Every time I pick it up and work on it I can think of so many other projects I’d like to be knitting instead. So far, I’ve designed two more baby sweaters in my head and am seriously thinking of doing Fringe Association’s top down sweater KAL that starts in August. The latter would be masochistic knitting at its height since I have never done a top down adult sweater and I despise raglan shaping and the way it looks on me.

All of this is simply a way to divert myself from the current shawl and then the other one I need to make for my SIL. Frankly, I don’t know how much longer I can carry the monogamy before I pick up a sock.

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