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Just when you think everything has been said or written about yarn and its relationship to a knitter or crocheter another issue pops up. This weekend I came to the conclusion that there needs to be a book of etiquette for non yarn lovers. A little tome on what not to say and how not to act in the presence of the yarn lover’s stash no matter how big the stash nor the number of rooms it appears in. For the yarnaholic, that stash represents a life time of many hours of thought and searching to acquire just the right yarn, weight, color, and composition. The stash is symbolic of possibilities, aspirations, safety and security, not to mention sanity. Every skein, cake, ball of yarn has a story behind it and a future of endless promise.

When in the presence of a yarnaholic and her stash do not glance about and say “Look at all this yarn. What are you going to do with it?” The answer is use it of course, but maybe not right away. It stands between me and the abyss of nothingness. As long as I have yarn I have hope. For if all else fails I still can knit and create. Should the apocalypse come I’m going to be the one with the socks, shawls, hats, gloves and sweaters and the ability to make more. What will you be wearing?

Another comment the non yarn lover needs to avoid is “Why don’t you sell some of this stuff. Do you know how much money you could have?” The answer is if you think the stash is pricey you haven’t been acquainted with the cost of owning and running a sheep farm with five alpacas and cashmere goats and angora rabbits. As far as selling any of it I would no more consider doing that than I would selling my dog or nephews.

Despite The Skippers attacks on the yarn stash this arrived this weekend much to the delight of Yarn Rascal and myself.

Twisted Fiber Art Yarn in Muse in the colorway called Mirage. Composition is merino wool with a hint of cashmere. I bought it with cashmere because Yarn Rascal so does love a good merino cashmere mix and he helped pick it out. What am I going to do with it? Appreciate it for awhile and then work it up into a scarf.

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Of course that is not its real name. The shawl is called Carol’s Frequency.

When I first saw the pattern I could imagine it in autumnal colors that were a touch rustic. I found the yarn to suit that vision in Schoppel Woole Zauberball Crazy. I don’t remember the name of the colorway.

The shawl is worked entirely in short rows, wave by wave. While the pattern promo says there is no wrapping, what the designer has done instead is create a one stitch float which you pick up and with the stitch it floats across you knit both through the back loop. Most of the time this closes up the holes created by short-row work. However, at least once or twice in a row of waves a large hole appears which is due to the short-row work. I have this thing about holes. I hate them existing where they shouldn’t and would knit hanging upside down from a chandelier even though I am afraid of heights if it meant getting rid of them. I had to address this hole problem.

What I did was pick up the float and then go into the small cross bar of the stitch in the row below and pull that up. Then I knit the float and the stitch, and cross bar together through the back loops. It closed up the holes nicely.

So this is what I am currently working on. I still have a bit of a way to go before I can start the bind off and while this has been a frustrating knit at time, I do really like the way it is starting to look.

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Knitting Inspiration

As I’ve said, I’ve been in a bit of a rut looking for knitting inspiration. I like projects where I learn new techniques. Lately, I’ve been taken with using multi-colored yarn in ways that break up the usual stripes. Here are three projects that have caught my interest.

I actually purchased some yarn for this particular scarf and am looking forward to trying it out.

This is not a knit. It is a technique called slip slope crochet. It’s been a long while since I’ve picked up a crochet hook, but I can’t resist how well the technique manipulates the yarn. It is the crochet version of short-row knitting.

This is a stitch design by Svetlana Gordon. If your not familiar with her work check out her projects. They are mind-blowing.

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Painting the House

I’ve been up to my eyeballs with a lot of stuff. The biggest of the projects was painting the inside of an entire house, walls and ceilings. It’s one of two houses owned by my mom that my great-grandfather built back in 1893. I love both of the houses and spending time to care for them. I thought, mistakenly of course, that painting all 7 rooms and taking time to be alone with my thoughts would be relaxing in a meditative sort of way. It would be just the break I needed from knitting the forever shawl–a shawl that will never end. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t know how professional painters calculate the amount of paint needed to complete a project. I, however, calculate that out of one can of paint 60% of the paint will end up on the walls and 40% will end up on me. For ceilings my calculation is 50% ceiling and 50% me, the ladder, the tarps on the floor with splatters on the wall. It is amazing to me how so much paint can get on so many things other than walls and ceilings. I had paint on my cell phone, in my hair, somehow it got in the car, my sneakers were trashed with paint. At the end of a day I looked like something one would see on Halloween night. I had paint on my face that I peeled off like a facial mask. The paint in my hair acted like sculpting gel and my hair stuck out in all kinds of spikey ways from my head. Still I kept on painting.

On the third day I realized that I had developed a distinct wheeze at the top of my left lung. I had spent the last few days paint in a house that was never above 60 degrees (15 C). Since it was on the left side where I had my mastectomy and radiation treatments I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I now had lung cancer. I spent two more days of torture painting and being alone with my thoughts which now all centered around lung cancer. After all, that was what happened to my friend. The radiation treatment for her breast cancer caused her lung cancer that she is now battling.

I finally went to the doctor. He listened to my chest proscribed and antibiotic and cough medicine. I thought he was nuts. Antibiotic and cough medicine for lung cancer? He said it was acute bronchitis. But by this point I had spent so long with my own thoughts that I insisted on an x-ray to prove him wrong. I went down to the hospital to get the x-ray and went through a prolonged check in procedure.

Three days later I call my doctor for the results. I was standing on the ladder doing the ceiling as paint dripped down my arm. He didn’t have the results. I called the next day and the day after. Same thing: no results. While repainting the door I inadvertently leaned against while it was still wet, I decided to call the hospital and see what the hold up was all about. I had just dipped the brush into the can and was going to apply it to the door when the hospital employee tells me they have no record that I was ever there. I heard the paint splatter as it dripped from the brush onto my sneakers. How could that be?

My lung was really getting worse and I was wheezing more. I needed to get the paint job done. I didn’t have time to chase my x-rays all over the hospital so I decided I’d wait until next month when I saw my oncologist to get a verdict. Then the bill arrived from the hospital for the x-ray. That’s when I decided to take some time off from painting and go down there and straighten this mess out.

It took half the day, but in the end they did find the x-ray. No I don’t have lung cancer, but I do have acute bronchitis. They told me to take the antibiotics the doctor prescribed.

The painting of the house is done. My course of antibiotics is done, but I still have the bronchitis. I went to my doctor yesterday and he says there is nothing more he can do. This seems ludicrous. So once again I am waiting to see my oncologist to see if he has some suggestions as to what can be done or whether this is something I am going to have to live with.

In the meanwhile I am knitting the forever shawl and charging the battery to my camera so I can show you a picture of it.

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I am still here. So much has gone on with mom and dad and their health and my having to assume their business responsibilities that I haven’t been able to find the time or energy to post. I am hoping to find a balance.

On to knitting. Is it just me or is there a dearth of knitting inspiration out there? Barnes and Noble does not carry either Vogue Knitting or Interweave anymore. Brooklyn Tweed hasn’t really published a group of projects for autumn nor has Twist Collective. What sources for projects do you look at?

Right now I am still stuck on the short-row shawl. I’ve been near finishing the thing three times only to have to frog it all because of mistakes. It is becoming my forever project and I can’t find anything else I want to start knitting. The shawl needs to go into a time out, get itself together and behave. In short, it is driving me crazy.

I haven’t purchased new yarn in quite sometime because I can’t find a project I want to knit. Yarn Rascal is literally panting for new yarn to greet and meet. Unfortunately he has to wait. I have decided once again not to go to Rhinebeck for the wool festival. I just can’t see driving all that way only to be stuck in crowds and lines to see anything. I am not a big crowd person. It gives me claustrophobia.

I am toying with attempting to finish the sweater I was making myself. But I’d need to find where it is the stack of wips, then find what little directions I jotted down. I also think it is going to be too big. While I swatched, I didn’t wash and dry the thing. My knitter’s intuition tells me it is not going to fit as I want.

And so I am in a kind of funk.

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This Is Life

Life can happen so fast. In a blink of an eye it can go from being good to not being so good. After I got Dad home from the hospital Mom had what they think was three or four heart attacks over a three-day period before she would agree to go to the doctor and from there the cardiac care unit of the hospital.

Did you know you can call an ambulance but if the person you want transported to the hospital, even if they are in the middle of a heart attack, refuses to go or get medical attention there is nothing the ambulance people or you can do? I was in shock as I explained to them that my mother has this idea in her head that she has to die before dad. Dad had just come home from the hospital, I told them and mom was not thinking properly. They told me that I would need to hire the services of a psychiatrist to prove mom’s thinking was not rational. Exactly what other criteria did they need from a psychiatrist other than seeing a woman who clearly was having a heart attack refuse medical help because she kept saying she “had to die first”?

She went the entire weekend experiencing heart attacks before I could talk her into at least going to her doctor, even if she didn’t want to go to the hospital. From there she went by ambulance to the hospital. Apparently if a doctor calls and says the patient is going to the hospital, no matter what the patient says, the ambulance people are taking said patient to the hospital.

In the mean time, dad has one kidney left which is not working properly. We get the test results from the nephrologist Monday. We will have to see where we go from there, though dad is adamant he is not doing dialysis. Mom is currently home but is not able to do anything. Right now I am playing the role of visiting nurse, making sure all their medications are set up and trying to monitor how they seem to be doing. All of my mother’s real estate businesses have fallen to me to take care of. I am trying to get a handle on where everything is at and what needs to be done. Mom tires easily so I can’t get a lot of information from her all at once.

I refuse to give up my knitting, though actual knitting is going slow. I am still working on the short-row shawl. The concentration that’s needed is good for me. It gets my mind off on a different track and I can forget about the parental situation for a few moments. I am also keeping up with my tech editing of knitting projects. It too helps give my mind something else—something positive—to focus on. Hopefully I’ll have a picture of the shawl in progress soon.

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Dad is out of the hospital but not doing well. He sees a kidney doctor on Friday. It seems the one kidney he has left is not functioning at an acceptable level. I feel we are at the beginning of the end. As I see it we are in the eye of the hurricane and the back side of the storm has yet to hit.

I was going to show you a picture of the short-row shawl. I had knit up a whole ball of yarn and was starting on the second ball. I felt I had enough of the shawl made to give you an idea of how it looks. Well…that shawl ended up being ripped back to the beginning yet again. On Monday evening there was a small health crisis with Dad and I put the shawl down in a hurry, not marking where I was in the short-row work. When I came back to it later that evening not only could I not discern what specific short-row I was on, but a number of the stitches had slid from the needles and were unraveled.

My life line was in and so I ripped back to that only to realize that I could not tell where I was in those short-rows as I had the life line in the whole shawl. What became clear to me was the life line needs to be inserted only on the wave just finished, not run through the whole shawl. That way if I need to rip back I know I am at the beginning of the wave. I almost cried when I had to undo the whole thing. I was so happy having gotten through one whole ball of yarn. But I didn’t cry. I just took away the new knowledge about the life line.

In the meanwhile, Yarn Rascal has been busy. The craft room clean up so new windows can be installed continued on without me while Dad was in the hospital. Every dog we’ve ever had gets a trip to the pet store to personally select the “house” he wants to call his own. We take down various crates and allow the pet to chose the one he/she feels most comfortable in. After all, this is a place in the home where the pet can go to relax, de-stress, or hang out with selected toys. Along with the crate we also buy an orthopedic foam mattress to fit the crate so that things are comfortable. The crate Yarn Rascal chose was a small mansion made for a bigger dog but it was what he wanted. He uses it to store bones and toys he doesn’t want anyone to touch.

While I was busy at the hospital and at Mom’s Yarn Rascal continued with the yarn clean up of the craft room. He moved every ball of left over yarn that was a merino and cashmere blend to his “house”. When I finish making socks or a shawl I keep the remaining yarn in a ball. Usually it ends up in a whicker basket and there it remains until I put it in a Rubbermaid bin. I keep the yarn with the dream that some day I am going to make a blanket out of all the different colors. In fact I had chosen the Bee Keeper’s Quilt as a possible project.

bee keepers quilt

bkq

As you can see it is made up of small hexagons that are two-sided and individually stuffed and then sewn shut. They are then sewn together one at a time. While I love the look of this quilt and think it would work quite well with the yarns I have I also think that it might drive me nuts construction-wise.

Anyway, Yarn Rascal is now the keeper of the merino-cashmere extra balls of yarn, while I am left to pack up the plain merinos.  The dog knows his yarn.

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