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I’ve been rather busy recuperating from a little set-to with a Great Blue Heron. This one is not Hank. I haven’t seen Hank for at least a year now. No, this one is the most arrogant, defiant, and aggressive heron I’ve come across and he has decimated the fish and frog life in our pond. Mind you, most of the fish in the pond were raised by hand by me and had bred generation after generation. They were truly beautiful to watch. That’s all gone now.

The moment I saw this heron carefully stalking in the water of the pond I was on him in a flash. I ran down to the pond to scare him away and instead he stood his ground in the middle of the pond. It was impossible to reach him without going in myself. I also noticed that he must have been there for some time since the fish population was already half of what it was.

We had had a wind storm the night before and numerous dead tree branches and limbs were scattered about the yard. I found a nice long big one, hefted it up and used it to span the distance between me and the heron. I gave him a good poke with it. He jumped out of the pond and landed beside me. That’s when things went, shall we say, downhill for me.

I dropped the branch basically because I couldn’t hold it any longer. I turned to the heron got up is his face and said “Get out of here!” He didn’t even flinch. That should have been clue number two that I was dealing with an insane brash bird. Instead, thinking of all the fish the little pig ate while being mindful that this is a federally protected species, I shoved him and said “Go on!” That’s when he counter attacked. He sliced open a long deep line on my left arm; the side of my mastectomy. I am not suppose to even get scratches on the arm because I have no immune protection in it since I have no lymph nodes there. I lost my temper.

In full view of our down the hill neighbors who were sitting on their deck avidly watching, the heron and I began to wrestle. I went for his long neck determined to make him cough up every one of my fish that he ate. He ducked and smacked me with his large wing right in the face. He used his beak again to slice another line in my left arm, as if he intuitively knew that was my weaker side. I decided to play linebacker and lunged to tackle him. He moved and flew up and away. I, on the other hand, having missed the tackle landed in the pond, my left arm covered in mud, blood, and whatever else one can find in a pond.

To make a long story short. I came back to the house. The Skipper was very concerned when he saw me. We had no hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound on my arm or the scratches on my face. My left eye was puffing up with a slight bruise. So I had to pour rubbing alcohol into the wound on my arm. To say it hurt would be an understatement. It was like going through surgery without anesthesia.

Finally I decided I need a doctor to see to the wound. I couldn’t stop the bleeding, though at first I thought this was a plus as it would clean out the wound. Not wanting the ER I went to the local urgent care two towns over. The Skipper took me. When we walked in I could tell that because of how I looked they thought this was some domestic abuse incident. It took me a bit to get them to believe that no, it wasn’t domestic abuse. I had gone toe to toe with a heron over pond fish.

When I told them I had the mastectomy and how many lymph nodes I was missing on the arm with the slice, they became very quiet and intense. The upshot was a ton of cleaning and closing the arm wound, ice pack for the eye, a tetanus shot with whooping cough thrown in in my right arm, and while I was there I got the flu shot in my derriere.

By the time I left with my heavily bandaged left arm, a right arm that was in searing pain courtesy of the tetanus shot, and a derriere that was not comfortable to sit on I was pretty much done for the day.

While waiting for the wound to heal I haven’t been able to do much spinning or knitting. The left arm experienced some swelling, but the tight bandages kept it to a minimum. I’m healing nicely and thought I might start knitting again today and see how the left arm responds. I thought this while looking out the window of the now decimated pond. While I was watching guess who flew in? He’s back. Knitting has been put on hold while I try and figure out how I am going to murder deter this bird.




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Add To Your Stash

I’m upset today and just had to share.

I just read the newsletter from Miss Babs Yarns. It seems the price of yarn is about to take a steep increase no matter where you buy. Extreme drought in Australia and South Africa has led merino sheep farmers to severely cull their herds. Hence, the merino supply is drastically limited while demand is still high.

Further, for US knitters, higher tariffs on things such as silk, cashmere, and dyes will also increase the cost for a skein of yarn dramatically.

I guess the only advice I can give is stock up now, replenish the stash while prices are still reasonable.

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My anxiety level is at the high end of the spectrum. The cats’ health, my parents’ health, my cancer check up tomorrow all keep the needle pinned at the critical end of the anxiety gauge.

So I had my hairdresser shave my head. I didn’t shave it bald, but very close. The kind of close you see some models wearing. It was liberating. I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have to fuss with it every morning. But now I need winter hats. So I’ve found a pattern and bought the yarn. I also found a cowl and bought both the pattern and the yarn. These two are in addition to the summer sweater pattern and yarn I bought to confuse the knitting gods that be into bringing on autumn. (I tell you if I could be hooked up to some electrodes my anxiety would power New York City for a week.)

I don’t need any of these extra knitting projects. I have enough WIPs laying around to occupy me. There’s the infernal sock, the I-don’t-need-another-shawl, a scarf made of yarn I hate, and the why couldn’t I just have followed the pattern scarf that I am now trying to figure out the number of short-rows needed to finish it.

On top of all this The Skipper just informed me his sister is coming tomorrow and is staying 3 or 4 days. She lives in Maryland. The house is a disaster area. It’s going to remain a disaster unless a tornado whips itself up and carries away all the things that are laying around where they are not supposed to be and just leaves behind bare walls.

Oh by the way I did this at two am this morning:

hand spun merino

35 yards. I still need a lot of practice but it is at least something.


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Oh Ye Knitting Gods

My friend Salpal knows well how my life works and the dysfunctional relationship I have to the knitting gods that be. She accurately, I believe, pointed out that now the winter sweater is done we are sure to have an extended summer courtesy of the way my life works. She is right.

Today I woke up to find the weather guys are predicting extreme heat warnings for the next 3 days at least. I dislike summer and the thought that we are going back into that heat and humidity is daunting.

However, I think I may have come up with a plan to confuse or at least perplex the knitting gods that be. There is a summer sweater I had tagged as interesting and was going to make next year. The sweater is Jushi. (I’ve tried to upload a picture of it but for some reason I can’t. Oh ye knitting gods!) I ordered the yarn. I may even have found the needle size and type it calls for in my needle stash. I’m thinking that if I start on this sweater the knitting gods will lighten up on the weather and let us transition nicely into autumn and cooler weather.

There are things that I need to work out with this sweater. Namely the neck opening and the depth of the V as I would like the V to be the front and not the back. This is where my mastectomy comes into play. The V can’t be too deep and reveal cleavage I don’t have. Nor can the width of the neck be so wide as to reveal my bra straps, though I did try to buy the prettiest mastectomy bras they had.

After finishing Carbeth I just wanted to knit a small project that’s become known as “those infernal socks”. More about these beauties later.

In the meanwhile, I am babysitting two cats for my neighbors. One of the cats is very sick and dying. My neighbor can’t bring herself to putting it down. I love animals and can’t stand to see them suffer. The sick cat can only be left alone for two hours at a time. I over see the cats until Thursday. Then I get a few days break and she goes away for two weeks. My nerves are already frayed over this, though she keeps telling me it is okay if the cat dies while she is gone. Watching something die is not my idea of okay.

Between the cats, figuring out the new summer sweater, the infernal socks, and an appointment with my cancer doctor to see if anything new has turned up my rope is pretty well frayed at the moment.

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The Carbeth sweater is done and I couldn’t be happier with it.

carbeth sweater knit

I made it with 4 inches (10 cm) of ease and it fits perfectly with the shirts I will wear underneath it.

I love my winter clothes to be oversized and cuddly. This sweater fits the bill. I used 16 skeins of Buachaille in the Haar colorway. I love the yarn and so does Yarn Rascal. Yarn Rascal hates being wet but he had no problem rolling around in my wet sweater while it was blocking. Hence I had to move the blocking to a table in the garage where Yarn Rascal is not allowed.

Naturally the day I chose to block became oppressively humid which lasted for another 4 days interspersed with rain. Despite all that the blocking went well. I also discovered that Chippy, the zen yoga chipmunk, seems to be getting himself all snuggled in in the garage for the winter. I haven’t told The Skipper and I won’t. Chippy has hidden nuts in my gardening gloves and in the pocket of my outdoor work shirt. I’m leaving them there so I bought a new pair of gloves and another shirt. It was time for new ones anyway.

Back to the sweater. The only thing I altered was the body length. This is going to be my go to sweater all winter long. I love it.

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Even though it has been hot and humid beyond all reason I have still been playing with my yarn.

First up the Carbeth is almost finished.

knitting carbeth sweater

I know, what is that big hole if it is almost finished? That is the underarm section that needs grafting together. I must admit I stopped and put this aside for a few days while I pondered whether to do Kitchener Stitch or a three-needle bind off. What I finally realized is that the holes were not going to close on their own and I had to make a choice. Since the sweater is knit holding the yarn double so the closing needs tobe done holding the yarn double. I felt Kitchener wouldn’t work for me so I went with the three-needle bind off. It looks good.

The trouble is that either side of the bind off are holes that need to be sewn together. I thought a simple mattress stitch would work well and it would if the stitches on either side were not so large and out of shape. I ended up mattress stitching what I could and then sewing the remaining holes shut so it looked like a neat underarm. I have four more yarn segments to weave in and the sweater is ready for blocking.

I have also been playing with my spinning. My latest is definitely in the category of yarn and is almost dead on in terms of the size I want.

spinning yarn tibetan spindle

I wound this into a little ball and am going to make a second spindle full then ply them together. I don’t know what I will knit out of it, but I am going to knit it up even if it is just a square. If it comes out nice I might frame it as my first actual spun yarn and date it.

On my list of things to buy is a knitty noddy so I can get some sort of count on the yardage. I also need a wpi (wrap per inch) tool to get a handle on the weight of the yarn. I am going for fingering but I might be in the DK territory.

I can’t explain my passion for spinning. Just that every time I spin with the spindle my soul sings. It has been a very, very long time since I have experienced such a feeling and I am so glad that I finally got the nerve to give it a try. Of course I am still very much learning, reading and watching YouTube videos, yet the pleasure and peace I get from it is well worth all the research and attempts.

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I don’t mean to grouse but I am going to do just a little of that. I’m knitting the neck of the Carbeth sweater when all of a sudden a hole appears to the right of the final two decreases. A whopper of a hole. I try everything to get the decrease to play nice with the stitch before it. I even drop the stitch before it down and crochet it back up to tighten it a bit. No go. To make it even worse, I was following the instructions to remove the markers as the final decreases are made. Now I am faced with ripping back two rows to below where the yarn is making a hole while I try to get the now unmarked decreases in the right places. Why is it that even the simple things don’t go right?

Since this project is coming to an end I am in need of a new one. To that end, I put aside the Carbeth and decided to have a peek in the bins and boxes that hold WIPS. Naturally, the Security Guard of All Yarn knit up or not was right by my side. Yarn Rascal loves going through the bins and boxes because we never know what we’ll find.

This time I came up with a sock and a sweater that I started five years ago at the time of my breast cancer.  I started the sweater just after my mastectomy. Not a good time to start that kind of project because my brain was not fully working what with learning to accept the mastectomy, the cancer medications and the radiation treatment I had what they call brain fog. Because of the mastectomy I thought that everything I wore from then on had to be extremely oversized. Don’t get me wrong, I love loose fitting clothing. But there is loose fit and then there is wow that’s kind of big. Well the sweater fell into the latter category. The body is knit and unfortunately it is so large that I can’t see ever wearing it. The yarn is good yarn and I’d hate to waste it even though it is black. I never knit with black yarn so you can tell what kind of mindset I was in when I got this project going.

Along with Yarn Rascal, I decided if we locate the pattern I was using (another example of how my mind was not working. I usually keep all patterns attached to their wips) I will attempt to undo the whole sweater and start again. Unfortunately it is not a pattern I bought through Ravelry so it is not in my library there. I am looking in all the places the pattern might be without any luck so far. Again, I need to remind myself my brain wasn’t really functioning at the time.

As for the sock we uncovered it was just that: a sock that was three-quarters done. I recognized the pattern as one I have in a book on knitted socks, but as for the yarn…well we can’t find it. I have no idea why I snipped the unfinished sock off the ball of yarn or where I would have put the ball of yarn after doing so. Usually an unfinished sock goes in a see-through project bag with the pattern and with needles and yarn attached. Believe me, Yarn Rascal did a thorough search of all yarn balls and couldn’t find it. So I ordered the yarn and will start the sock all over again.

Of course first I have to finish Carbeth. If the knitting gods don’t throw me another curve it is possible that I could block the sweater this weekend. I can only hope.

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