Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

The weekend was restful even with Yarn Rascal in full Yarn Rascal mode. Autumn in this area of the world has decided to wear pastel colors this year.

autumn 5

Leaves the color of fire’s flame so bright you’d think the hills were burning are not with us this year.

autumn 6

Intensity gives way to toned down color and only comes to life with the sun shining behind.

autumn 2

autumn 3

Though the Japanese Maples seem to remember what Autumn once looked like.

autumn 4

The Shetland Lace Swatch grows.

shetland lace

Like watching grass lengthen, isn’t it? The pink yarn is the life line. I am sure that the bottom pattern will be the large border even though I have only knitted 85 rows of the 135 plus that make up that border. Above the life line I am sampling break patterns, fill-ins, elements for smaller borders, and patterns for the center. When I am done with what I am now looking at as a sampler, I will pick-up stitches along the edges and try out various edgings to see what I like. I am really enjoying the swatching process. I would never have thought I’d say that.

I’d like to include the Cat’s Paw and/or the Rosebud motif somewhere in the shawl. If I do, then I need to also include some eyelet motifs elsewhere to balance things. I am also leaning toward small trees and/or ferns designed to echo the diamond pattern so prevalent in the large border. The problem with trees and ferns is that they are directional. They have distinct tops and bottoms. If I include them, I will have to rethink my borders out design and look to the traditional way of putting the shawl together: sewing / grafting it all together. But let me not panic now. It’s too early in the design process to run around with my hair on fire.

Good news! The Skipper is wood working again. He is spending time in his two man caves: the basement and garage. I, on the other hand, have ordered the final book I wanted on Shetland Lace called A Legacy of Shetland Lace. I could just squeal with delight!

The last bit of info I want to share happened to me Friday and I want to pass it along to other women who might be going through or know women who are going through breast cancer stuff. I went to the dentist on Friday. It seems that when a woman receives breast cancer treatment one of the things that takes a negative hit is saliva. That’s right, the much under rated, never thought about, spit in our mouths. Saliva is crucial to teeth and gum health. It provides much needed calcium and other enzymes that teeth and gums need to counteract the bacteria, plaque, etc. Cancer treatment significantly reduces the amount of saliva produced and wipes clean what little is left of the calcium and enzymes needed to maintain dental health. Say hello to root canal work. The R and C words when put together are in the top 5 of the least favorite words I want to hear. If you are going through breast cancer, see your dentist and start an oral hygiene routine that will help women like us avoid expensive dentistry while keeping our mouth and teeth healthy.

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I’m a Ravelry user and I frequent the forums where I glean information and get a chance to help others have a positive experience with the arts of knitting and crochet. Recently, I came across the fact, backed up by research and statistics by another Raveler, that most Ravelry knitters are making shawls. I found myself pausing a bit over that. With the plethora of sweaters and types of sweaters available to knit, and given the weather has finally turned into something more recognizable as Autumn, why are shawls polling so high?

Let me stop a moment to say I am not anti-shawl. I have made 15 of them and each one sees lots of wear. I have shawls for Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. With my new “normal” (post-mastectomy) life my body temperature fluctuates wildly from feeling like being in the Arctic in shorts and a tee shirt to being at the Equator dressed in full blizzard apparel. My shawls come in handy to off set these extremes. Too cold, throw on the shawl, too hot, remove it. But as I roamed the Ravelry forums last night it dawned on me that despite their overwhelming project popularity, I see very few exasperated appeals for help in knitting or crocheting them. Whereas for sweaters, the SOS calls bloom like algea on a pond in warm weather. Socks, which only account for 4% of the projects, also have a disproportionately high volume of SOS requests.

What gives? Many shawl patterns have intricate lace work, or unique construction, some depend heavily on short-rows. So it can’t be that they are easier to knit. I have first hand experience with knitting lace patterns over 100 plus stitches and can say it is easy to get lost in the pattern repeats. Does the lack of SOS calls mean most are being good little knitters diligently using lifelines? I think not. As a nonconformist knitter, I think I have a lot of company. Knitting intricate lace work without a lifeline is the equivalent of hang gliding through the Grand Canyon. However, ripping back seven or eight times takes the thrill out of the glide and I end up using a lifeline. I resent it, but I use it.

The completely unscientific, fact-less conclusion I came to regarding the inordinate amount of shawl patterns vs sweater patterns being knitted with lack of corresponding amounts of SOS calls is shawl length and width can be fudged. Gauge is not crucial. The knitter can increase or decrease the repeats to meet individual length and width requirements easily. Little if any math is needed on the knitter’s part. The knitter can literally eyeball the size and adjust it without measuring tape. I don’t know what this says about knitters and the direction in which knitting is heading, so I don’t know why I am slightly disturbed by it. But I am.

On a lighter note, the leaves are finally starting to fall from the trees, much to Yarn Rascal’s sheer delight. This is his first time experiencing Autumn. If a leaf falls or skitters across the ground in the wind he chases after it, bouncing with delight. The problem is leaves don’t fall or blow in the wind one by one. They usually do it in bunches and in many different spots around the yard at one time. So the question is will Yarn Rascal survive Autumn without losing his mind? At the moment it doesn’t look good.

Have a good weekend.

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The Rhythms of A Season

Every season has its rhythms and humans like the animals in nature tend to respond to them. The crisp, cool nights and mornings are made even more sharp and chilly when the house has no heat. What began as an Autumnal choice to snuggle under sheets and fluffy comforter Sunday morning turned into a necessity when I realized the heat to half the house went out sometime overnight. The Skipper called the company that services our heating system but said no one answered the phone. Surely, they have an emergency number, I said. The Skipper said he didn’t think our lack of heat was an emergency. Every season has its rhythms. The day will warm and heat the house and we’ll be fine. Yarn Rascal sneezed twice.

The day did become tepid, like a cup of tea that is neither hot nor cold. The house remained cool. I reintroduced the idea of calling the emergency number. The Skipper said we have a fireplace. This isn’t the 1700s, I said. Yarn Rascal sneezed some more. Our attention was then diverted. Although the day was lukewarm, the temperature of the air behind the outside shutters of the bedroom windows upstairs must have been positively Caribbean. Suddenly Stink Bugs seemed to buzz everywhere inside the room. Yarn Rascal had playmates. The Skipper said it’s that time of year when they (the Stink Bugs) come indoors looking to winter over where it is warm. Well, aren’t they going to be disappointed, I said. Yarn Rascal sneezed and frolicked.

The Skipper has a number of shop vacs that he loves. If there is a problem with anything functioning in the house his go to items are duct tape and a shop vac. While trying to gather Stink Bugs put them outside and keep the sneezing Yarn Rascal from putting them in his mouth, The Skipper returns lugging one of the bigger shop vacs. The Skipper said, I’ve got this. Tell me you’re not going to massacre all these bugs. It’s bad karma, I said. Just when I was warming to my explanation of bad karma, out of the corner of my eye I caught the flash of white that is Yarn Rascal with what looked like a blue head.

Focused on Yarn Rascal now I ran down the stairs after him, which immediately violated three rules I learned from my obsessive watching of Dog Whisperer episodes: Don’t chase the dog. Remain calm. Remain in control. As I stumbled on the last two steps, I saw Yarn Rascal round the bend like a Ferrari and disappear into the kitchen with what looked like, but couldn’t be, strands of blue yarn fluttering around his body. From above, I heard the shop vac roar into life and I was caught between save the bugs or save the dog. Yarn Rascal has had two hospital stays because of stomach problems, and I am desperately trying to teach him not to put everything in his mouth and eat it.

I captured Yarn Rascal in the corner of the back room beyond the kitchen. I had closed every door I had gone through so there was no escape. None of it really mattered. Yarn Rascal had tangled all four legs and his body in the skein of blue yarn. I calmed him down and began extrication. I don’t know where he stole the yarn from, I don’t even recognize the yarn. Now it lays a snarled, twisted mess of mystery yarn on the kitchen table.

This morning the man came to service the heat. It seems the wires leading into our thermostat were nibbled on and hence disconnected. I hope whatever it was didn’t electrocute itself, I said, then went upstairs. I picked two Stink Bugs off the windowsill and placed them outside as The Skipper called up to me that he was heading to the hardware store. Make sure they are Have-A-Heart traps, I replied. I know exactly what he is up to. In the meanwhile, I am calling the vet. Yarn Rascal is still sneezing. Yes, it is all the rhythm of the season.

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I must get myself a new camera. I am reluctantly using the Skipper’s at the moment and while it takes great pictures for him, it doesn’t give me what I want. I’m used to ones where I can fiddle with the f-stop, aperture opening, etc. Point and shoot is wonderful, but I can’t get the hang of it. I studied photography in college, back in the days when cameras used film. The amount of time I spent per week in a dark room developing film and pictures was quite a bit. It is slightly hair raising to think about it now, but nary a thought was given to inhaling or being around all those chemicals then. I must admit, there is something magical about watching a picture come alive from a blank piece of paper, taking it through its chemical baths to stop the various processes just at the right moments. Nostalgia.

Here is the November Woods Shawl I made during Hurricane Sandy.

november woods shawl

Nothing like being without power, cable tv and the internet for two weeks to help get a leg up on knitting projects. Actually, we have a generator to keep certain things working like the fish tanks, living room lights, refrigerator, the well water thingy, and the heat. Notice that the stove isn’t on that list. The fish are fine, the food is refrigerated, but cooking? Let’s just say the act of cooking regresses to a time during the Neanderthals. Yes, not hooking up the stove to the generator was an oversight.

The yarn is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock Yarn.The colorway is Mycology. When I started knitting it up it reminded me of the colors of the woods on a gray, wet November day. The woods are always beautiful then; the browns are dark chocolate, the leaves that still linger on the trees are bright yellows and light greens. The deeper greens that will carry through winter, and the russets colors of fallen leaves.

I was messing around with Barbara Walker’s Indian Cross Stitch stitch pattern. I wanted the yarn to clearly cross in an x shape while maintaining a diamond shape opening on either side.

shawl cu

I fiddled and fiddled, until I came up with a way of catching a yarn over in a yarn over or something like that to create this. For the life of me I cannot remember exactly what I did to replicate it. When I went to my notes (I use the word “notes” in its most loose sense) the relevant information wasn’t there. Not a word, nor a hieroglyph referring to the stitch pattern. So it goes, this is my life.

Yarn Rascal was feeling much better all week, until today. I am going to push The Skipper for a vet visit. $$$ :)!

Hope you have a good weekend. I think mine is shaping up to be a little rough.

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sunswt 2

The weather here has a hint of Autumn in it. Last night was cool enough that the heat came on just before dawn. The sound of the pipes clinking along with the occasional bang woke me. Hearing the pipes gave me such a comfortable feeling and I snuggled down deeper into the quilt. The Yarn Rascal was already underneath the covers, it’s where he likes to sleep, curled against my body.

I must admit I am not a lover of Summer. I much prefer Autumn and Winter. Spring is so allergy ridden for me that I endure it rather than enjoy it. But Autumn is my very favorite time of the year. I love the slant of light, the coolness in the air. The structure of things in the gardens begin to reappear as the lushness of Summer falls away.

>sunset a

Most of all I love wearing my knitted socks. It is such a comfort for my soul. Of course this year, sock wearing will be slightly less serene. The Yarn Rascal goes crazy over feet that have socks on them. He nearly did in a pair last night.

Lately, he has found great glee in tearing the paper bands from around new skeins of yarn. He shreds the bands beyond recognition when I don’t immediately catch him. If it is a single skein, then the information on the band is lost. Truth is, most of the wool in my stashes I recognize, so the offense is not exactly on the scale of a felony, yet.

When I remove a band from a new skein, the minute he hears the riiiiiiiip, he dashes from wherever he is and starts jumping around trying to get the band. I’ve taken to keeping an old band nearby so when I want him to come out from wherever he is and he is ignoring me, I just riiiiip and like magic he appears. Yes, he is in a crazy state when he arrives, but at least he’s where I can see him.

I continue with the afghan. My work sessions usually start by tearing motifs out and putting them back in the right place. I don’t want to even mention the fact that all this reworking might leave me short of yarn for the finishing. Allow me my illusion that all will turn out okay.

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The rain to the wind said,

“You push and I’ll pelt.”

Robert Frost “Lodged”

It’s been a wonderful day of rain and wind. When wet, the gold, yellow, orange and red of autumn’s leaves intensify. Against the background of a gray metal sky, the leaves are wonderfully vibrant. When plucked from their branches by the wind, they swirl in such a play of color that it is like looking at a Jackson Pollock painting in motion. I love autumn.

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Martha: “What is Autumn?”

Jan: “A second spring, where the leaves imitate the flowers.  Maybe it would be so too with human beings that you would see bloom if only you helped them with your patience.”

Albert Camus The Misunderstanding

I love Autumn. It is my favorite season. With a freeze predicted this weekend, I spent most of my time preparing the garden and the pantry shelves for the coming winter months. The garden was a real money saver this year what with the spike in gas and fuel prices. When we added up our grocery bills for the summer we got a nice surprise. Eating out of our garden really did save us money at the food market.  Of course the money saved went to pay gas and electric bills rather than being stashed away for the upcoming holiday season. Still, I am very grateful for the bounty of our garden.

Needless to say, with all the making and putting up of tomato sauce, soups, stews, and freezing vegetables I got precious little knitting done on the Autumn Lace sock. I had hoped to finish at least the baby sample sock over the weekend. I am at the point where I am picking up the gusset stitches. If it’s done by tomorrow I will post a picture.

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