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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

pothos-knit-shawl-1

pothos-knit-shawl-2

pothos-shawl-3

The SIL shawl has 3 more rows before it is completed. 3! I know I shouldn’t show how giddy I am at being so close to calling it complete, the gods of knitting don’t like that sort of thing, but I can’t help it; there is so little good news around. The amount of work needed to complete the 3 rows will probably take 3 nights of knitting, but after working on it so long 3 nights seem like almost nothing. I must stop this crowing or the gods will put some really difficult road blocks in front of me and the darn thing will take 3 weeks and not 3 days. Is it possible it could be packed up and in the mail before 24 November? Be calm my rapidly beating heart. Or am I having a heart attack just thinking of the end of this shawl?

When I realized I was coming to the end of the shawl I briefly panicked wondering what I would knit next. But I have a cowl and fingerless mitts I’d like to complete before winter is over so I think I will concentrate on that for a bit. Then there are socks that I started for Big Foot aka The Skipper, but I am rethinking the design. I also have the massive Shetland Shawl to do, but I have to bounce some questions off of you guys first before I start that.

I also have the Anastasia baby sweater pattern to write up. I started doing that in earnest yesterday. Instead of figuring out all the numbers for all the sizes as I created the sweater as I usually do, I decided to try what I thought would be a simpler method. I knitted and recorded all the numbers for one size within the pattern. The “simpler” way will never be done again. I am finding it more time consuming than if I had figured everything out as I went. The only thing saving me from madness is that I made two schematics: one detailing all the sizes the other all the stitches and rows. At least the schematics give me a starting point for all the other sizes. The great thing about grading a pattern is that I literally close myself off from all media while I am doing it. Not hearing, seeing or reading the news is a massive plus right now.

In other interesting news, we have a female fox hanging around the house at night. Last night she was on the patio, much to Yarn Rascal’s dismay. She is beautiful and looks healthy but it is unusual for foxes to come as close to the house as she does. I am going to have to encourage her to stay her distance by shooing her when she is that close. It’s fine when they turn and go, not so great when they decide to stay their ground. Speaking of which, for the time being I have lost the battle of the yard with the big buck. When he doesn’t want to move, he doesn’t move. Rather cheeky of him, but his testosterone is high this time of year and it affects his common sense. He is majestic looking when he is being obstinate and since there is no hunting allowed on our land, I know he’s safe here. SO all in all I’d rather have him around than end up a trophy on someone’s wall.

Random Notes

After the SIL shawl sat in a time-out for a little over a week, I am once again knitting on it. I have 20 rows until it’s done. Why this is being the mother of all shawls is beyond me. It’s not the pattern, it’s me. Somehow I can’t count to 24. I also keep blowing the double central decreases. Why I don’t know. The knitting is not hard to read, I just can’t seem to shake the sense of doom I get each time I pick up this shawl.

The Skipper seems to think I have other things on my mind. I went to my oncologist last week and found out that my bone marrow is not making platelets so I have a low volume of platelets. It’s called thrombocytopenia. Why the marrow is not making platelets may be a combo of the radiation treatments and the cancer med I am on. Or it could be that my spleen is destroying them. While they can’t take me off the cancer med, they did pull me off the nsaid they had me on for the pain in my bones. It’s a shame because the nsaid was working pretty well. At the moment, they won’t even let me take a simple aspirin or Tylenol. Still I knit and sketch new designs and dither over the designs I have completed.

I used to like to have a span of time between completing a design and writing it up in good pattern form. It gave me some distance on the design so that when I returned to it again it was with fresh eyes. But these latest designs are sitting and sitting. Every time I think of picking up my notes and writing them up in pattern form something crops up and I have to put it off. This weekend I am locking myself in my work room and getting at least one of the patterns typed up. I also need to take some pictures for the tutorial that will be included in the patter regarding ribbon work on the bonnet. The ribbon work is simple enough, but not many people today know how to hand-sew things neatly. Once hand-sewing skills were the norm, now they are not. I have a friend who tosses a shirt if it looses a button. She owns no needle and thread and wouldn’t know where to start to even try and attach it. How things have changed.

Yarn Rascal still has his eyes on the prized Shetland wool package that is hanging from the closet ceiling out of his reach. I may not be able to hold him at bay much longer. When he breaks into the yarn vault he now stands on his hind legs and howls at the package. Usually this is around the 2 am time of night. I almost broke the package open and gave him a cake of wool last night as he just wouldn’t settle down. But if I do that now, he will just want another one when I start working with it and I only bought one extra for him. I didn’t think it would take me this long to get the Shetland Shawl up and running.

All things in the yard are normal. The buck now has a little harem of does with him. Hank still visits the pond. I haven’t seen the coyote or the mountain lion, but if the deer and the Great Blue Heron are around it’s a pretty good sign that the coyote and the mountain lion aren’t in the area. Oh yes, and the skunks haven’t gone into hibernation yet. Don’t even ask how I know this.

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