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Archive for December, 2013

I knew a man whose favorite way of signalling his wife that she was talking too long on the phone was “Hey Beck, even a freight train stops.” Through the years I’ve applied that saying to many things. This year I used it to signal that the holiday whirlwind is, for me at least, at an end.

The last group of family has come and gone. My sister-in-law was happy with her truck. When not knitting I was personalizing the truck The Skipper made for her.

truck side

The decorating took much longer than usual. The metallic paint is temperamental. I had to build up the coats slowly to get an even finish. The paint also takes an entire 12 hours to dry between coats. When it started to feel like I would spend the rest of my life painting this truck, I recalled the freight train line and had a good giggle.

truck back

My sister-in-law likes bling, so I used crystals for the head lights, running lights, and general decoration. While the pictures don’t show it, the black is a combination of two paints, a metallic base with a thin layer of sparkles on top to imitate the sparkly paint on real cars. It took some time to get it right. Too thick and the sparkles were overwhelming, to thin and they disappeared. Once I got the right amount the trick was transferring the process to the truck.
Again, it was a slow process.

I am going to start the New Year with the release of the Charlotte Baby Sweater and Hat set. It’s finally ready.

In the meanwhile, this little guy has been hanging around.

blue bird

Blue birds usually migrate in the winter. This one stayed. He’s living in the blue bird house he inhabited all summer. I am stocking up on food for him.

From Yarn Rascal, The Skipper and me: Wishing all of you health, happiness, and peace in 2014.

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‘Tis The Season

At the moment, I am caught up researching Shetland lace motifs. Very late one night while cruising the web, I found 299 wonderfully photographed archival pictures of Shetland lace shawls made in the late 1800s to mid 1900s all on one site and nicely grouped together. The photos contain motifs and design elements that I want to further study and that I may or may not include in the Shetland Baby Shawl I am designing. While I can find the site, I can’t find the 299 pictures. This is the story of my life in microcosm.

Yarn Rascal experienced his first Christmas. Within one hour, every toy had some kind of hole in it, or portions of it gnawed away. I am now looking into toys made specifically for destructive chewers. I am also looking for toys that will keep his mind occupied and present a challenge for him in figuring them out. Much of what I read about destructive chewers is that they need challenges. They also have a lot of energy that needs to be worked out. Yarn Rascal has a bottomless source of energy. Yesterday, The Skipper’s grandkids came over. The kids and Yarn Rascal played all day. 10:30 at night, everyone is gone and Yarn Rascal is still bouncing around.

I went over to see my family yesterday. Mom, Dad, sister, brother-in-law, and 2 nephews. My brother-in-law’s brother brought unexpected guests to dinner. Two were from Peru and spoke almost no English. One was Israeli and seriously kosher—my sister was serving ham, imagine how happy this made her. The last guest was from Moldavia. I don’t know how it all turned out, I left while the appetizers were being served and my sister and her husband were hurriedly discussing where they could get kosher food at 5 pm on Christmas Day. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that once the “kosher” food came into the “unkosher” kitchen, especially one with a ham in its oven, the food is no longer considered “kosher”.

I am hoping for a quiet day today. The Skipper’s family is coming up from Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia tomorrow. I adore his sister and mother and I realize the time I have left to share with them is growing less and less. His mom is well into her 90s and his sister has a rare cancer. His sister has been a model of dignity, grace, and respect throughout deciding to live and embrace life while she can. She is a very special to me. The Skipper built one of his trucks for her. She’s wanted one for two years now. I decorated it to fit her style and personality. We are going to surprise her with it tomorrow.

I know I’m a little early, but have a good weekend.

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The weather has been positively summer like. The snow and ice vanished over night and left the ground a soggy mess. I took advantage of the warm weather and went out in a tee shirt and jeans with my migraine to patch the gouges I made searching for a good spot for Yarn Rascal during the snowfall. When the weather gets this warm at this time of year I can only say it is heavy with foreboding. It feels out of joint. The yard patching went well. From a distance the irregular areas are almost not noticeable.

Today is rainy, unnervingly warm and dark. One day before Christmas Eve and I need to venture out into 3 specific stores. Consider me totally insane.

Normally the last time I see a store (other than food shopping) is the day before Thanksgiving. I do not go near stores, malls or roadways that lead to them until the second week of January when the rest of humanity is settled back into its normal routine. Crowds and traffic jams equals panic attacks for me. I read Yarn Harlot’s account about her experience so I know better than to do this. But I need 3 things.

Top of the list is Yarn Rascal food. That is at one shopping mall. Getting his food is not negotiable. I must do it.

The next thing is at a different shopping mall. This item is negotiable. I need a 36 inch length US 2 circular needle. I’ll see what state of health and mind I am in after I get Yarn Rascal’s food as to whether the knitting needle gets done or not.

The third thing I need is at a completely different mall from the first two. This is the mall from hell. Sadly, this object is not negotiable. I ran out of face moisturizer. I am deeply and perhaps neurotically attached to this item. I’ve never done without it in my life and I don’t want to face the start of 2014 without it.

So, if you don’t hear from me again, I have really enjoyed writing these posts and getting to know all of you. Know too that The Skipper has promised to find me a nicely padded room with a view where Yarn Rascal can visit.

P.S. Yarn Rascal has his food. As for the knitting needle and face moisturizer I decided change might be a good thing. I ordered both online.

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Right now I am trying to find balance between my tech editing work, my design work, and knitted work. In between I need to find time for The Skipper and of course, time for Yarn Rascal. The latter demands most of my time. His deviant behavior is on the rise and I don’t want him to be a life-long criminal. Thus, while he is still in the formative period he is getting a good portion of my attention.

One of the tech editing projects is a Raglan sweater. Personally, I dislike Raglans. I don’t like their fit. I disliked them even more when I found the back story of their development. A lesser noble, named Raglan, was in the British service and lost one arm in the Crimean War. His tailor created the Raglan to better accommodate the loss. Thus a sweater constructed for a one-armed individual found its way into fashion for two-armed individuals.

The pattern I am editing is a three act drama. Act One opens with sketchy information concerning color changes and a ribbing pattern. Act Two begins with the realization that the Raglan shaping at the armholes for the Back and Front don’t match, and they must. Act Three starts with incomplete sleeve directions. Beyond the wrist Cast On no other directions exist. In all fairness, this is a vintage pattern I am piecing together, meaning I must recreate the missing information because it really no longer exists. Completing this pattern is the focus of my weekend.

In the meanwhile, I need to knit the second of the Cursed Socks, create a swatch for a lacy pair of bed socks that exists only on the drawing board at the moment, work out the elements of the All Little Boy sweater that is also on the drawing board, and find time to knit on the Shetland Baby Shawl. I’ll have a progress picture of the shawl posted next week.

The good news I received this week from the doctors is that the blood tests showed nothing concerning my tiredness. My cancer surgeon is happy with the way I am healing. She wants me to participate in a study about the roles exercise and diet may have in lowering the chances of breast cancer coming back. I’m not quite a year from my operation last January. This time February will be the big month for me. I have a mammogram, ultra sound, and MRI scheduled to see how things are going. The time in between is kind of like the Edgar A. Poe story The Pit and The Pendulum.

Yarn Rascal has just left my side. By the curl of his tail I can tell he’s thinking of getting into trouble.

Have a good weekend.

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Snow fell again yesterday. The Weather Channel and local forecasters said it would be a quick storm starting at 7 am and ending at noon. No more than an inch (2.5 cm) or three (7.5 cm). They lied. It snowed the entire day covering all the crucial areas I dug out for Yarn Rascal. As the snow storm lingered and the day grew later my concern over Yarn Rascal’s lack of business transactions increased and I realized no amount of relaxation techniques can halt a migraine that comes from nerves stretched to the fraying point. For while The Skipper and I had no food in the house, Yarn Rascal’s pantry is always well-stocked. Thus, I spent yesterday watching crucial bare ground disappear under heavily falling snow, while Yarn Rascal packed away the food. Yes, he spent yesterday eating like there was to be no tomorrow.

We have 2 acres of yard. When Yarn Rascal wasn’t eating, he was outside with me. Every 30 minutes we walked every inch of that snow and ice landscape to no avail. Even though the roads were not fit for driving (New York state, to my constant amazement each winter, is unable to clear snow from its roads) I called our vet to find out how long can a 13 pound dog last without a business transaction. But they had closed early because of the storm. I toyed with the idea of leaving a message with the answering service. Was this enough of an emergency to bother the vet or should I wait until the sound of my blood pressure gently pounded in my ears? In the meantime, Yarn Rascal scampered back and forth with his toys and eyed the Shetland Yarn on top of the desk well out of his reach. (Yes I started the Shetland Baby Shawl and completed 20 rows of some 400 rows needed for the center.)

Bedtime came and still no business transactions. Yarn Rascal slept straight through the night, very unusual for him.

Up with the sun, Yarn Rascal bounded out into the blinding white snow this morning and viola! A grand business transaction. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through the winter sane.

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Four inches (10 cm) of snow and two inches (5 cm) of ice, not bad if I’m a penguin. But I’m human walking an 11 month old Bichon who is experiencing winter for the first time and…well…I’d rather be a penguin.

Even in the best weather conditions Yarn Rascal needs to walk the equivalent of half the length of the Appalachian Trail before getting down to business. In snow, ice and cold it’s a walk that seems a whole lot longer. I got ready for our “little” before bedtime trek by putting on all my knitted equipment: socks, cowl, hat, mittens. Then I readied Yarn Rascal by wrestling him into his new winter jacket. I tried and failed to put boots on his flailing little feet. I’d get one on, he’d chew it off before I could finish shoving on the second boot. After struggling to put the same boot on the little octopus three times I gave up.

Out we went for what I hoped was a quick business transaction. While Yarn Rascal twinkle-toed it across the top of the ice-covered snow, I kept falling through the ice cover. My gait resembled Frankenstein’s first steps as the monster comes alive. Yarn Rascal ice danced for 28 freezing minutes without performing one business transaction. Slowly, my frozen brain realized the problem. Yarn Rascal was looking for, but not finding, the scents he needed in order to get a business transaction moving. The wonderland of snow and ice had covered everything. I returned Yarn Rascal to the warm house.

It took some digging, but I hit bare, albeit frozen, ground. I took Yarn Rascal back out and showed it to him. Ten minutes later and still nothing. I put Yarn Rascal back in the house and headed out with the shovel again. I scanned the smooth, white surface trying to recognize the spots Yarn Rascal particularly favored. It was amazing how difficult it was to pinpoint favorite spots with everything covered so thoroughly. I lacked reference points. One of his favorite business centers was five paces to the right of a fallen tree branch with moss growing on it. The branch was memorable because somehow it had landed in the middle of the yard well away from any tree. Where the heck was that branch in all this?

In the daylight the yard looks like a shelling took place. Frozen, bare patches of land pock mark the yard in no apparent order. Yarn Rascal still takes forever to conduct business but at least he has choices. And, I am proud to say, I did find that tree branch after all.

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One Cute Cat Video.

This is one cute cat video that I had to share. It reminds me of my favorite cat, Tommy. He was the greatest. He too liked to be wrapped and when you did it right the look on his face was one of “Finally! The respect I deserve!” Watch the video here.

Yes it is snowing out. Yes we are expecting 1 to 3 inches of ice later tonight. No, I can’t shovel snow anymore because I have no lymph nodes in my arm. No, I can’t even run the snow blower or tractor to clean up the snow because I have no lymph nodes in my arm. I am totally sidelined or as they say in football, shutdown for the season.

The Skipper is keeping a path open for Yarn Rascal and I am working on accepting the new normal. So far, I’ve not been too successful.

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