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Ghost Yarn

The blanket for Dad is on hold while I wait for the yarn to come in. I called the yarn store about the backorder to see if I could get a handle on when it would arrive and then ship. The conversation was odd, as if I were a spy trying to get state secrets. One person told me the yarn was in and suggested I talk with a second person. Person B got all flummoxed when I said that I understood the yarn was in. Immediately she got her back up and asked “Who told you that?” I said the person I just talked with and Miss Officious wanted a name. I didn’t get a name, I said, since I wasn’t planning on being interrogated. All I want is to expedite the shipping, I need the yarn sooner rather than later and it’s already been over a month.

Miss Officious replied that the yarn “wasn’t really in” yet. I truly didn’t want to get all snarky, but how can a tangible object not be “really in”. It’s either in the store or it’s not.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It’s not really here”, she replied.

“Are we talking about ghost yarn? There in spirit but not in actuality?” At which point I felt that this was going to deteriorate into some kind of ethereal back and forth, which is what happened.

The upshot is I don’t have the yarn. I don’t know if the store knows whether it really has the yarn or not.

I could go searching for a similar color, weight and make up of yarn and substitute that in, but unless I hold it in my hands and look at it side by side the yarn I’ve made 40% of the blanket with, I won’t know if it will work. If it doesn’t work then I need to go through the hassle of returning the yarn and la dee dah dee dah.

All I want is some kind of time frame. I am going to contact the store again, after I tape together the little pieces of half eaten, ripped up paper on which I wrote the number. I bet you can’t figure out who did the ripping and eating. As I’ve said before, Yarn Rascal is nocturnal. There is no way of figuring what he will get into at night. It seems no matter how we batten down the hatches he always finds trouble. Frankly, he’s amazing.

The whole kicker to this yarn snafu that just drives me over the edge is that the yarn is the store’s brand. If it’s your brand, good business practice says you should have the information from the supplier to know when it will or will never be in.

So that’s where I am: yarn-less, with 40% of the blanket done and praying for my father to live long enough to see and use the blanket. My kingdom (which is very small) for this yarn!

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The blanket I’m knitting for dad was sailing along nicely until yesterday when I realized I ordered the wrong color of extra yarn. Things came to a screeching halt and I do mean screeching. The Skipper and the Yarn Rascal quickly exited the house and went for a long walk. I had hoped to finish half the blanket while waiting for yarn for the second half to arrive from backorder. Now I need to return the wrong color by mail and wait for them to get it, process it and send me the right color. It’s hell not having a yarn store nearby.

In the meanwhile I am finishing the second sock of the Ode to Monet socks. I think I am going to write up the pattern and post it for free on Ravelry. It’s such a simple, nubby texture that works great with the Two Grey Dogs Yarn.

In other news, Sammy the snake has been missing for quiet sometime now. In his place is Hank the Great Blue Heron. Salpal of What I’m Up To Today suggested that maybe Hank ate Sammy. I know Hank is doing a whale of a job eating every fish in our pond, but does a Great Blue Heron also eat snakes?

A few statistic about Hank. He is taller than me. His wingspan is greater than mine. He is very intelligent. He is very territorial. He is very stubborn. The first action I took was to read up on Great Blues to see how one keeps a bird who feels he owns your pond out of said pond. I could have saved hours of reading if I had just listened to the first article I read which basically said, “Kiss your fish goodbye.”

Other ideas to deter the Great Blue One are: Buy a heron statue and move it around the pond during the day. A heron won’t go near another heron’s territory. Problem: where do I find a heron statue and do I really want to spend my day moving it around the pond so that it looks real to Hank? Having met Hank close up, we could feel each other breathing, I felt he would see through the old heron statue trick.

Another idea suggested to get plastic floating alligator heads and place them randomly in the pond. Herons apparently won’t go near an alligator’s domain. Problem: do I really want to see floating alligator heads plastic or otherwise in my pond? The second half of the same article suggested if the fake alligator heads didn’t work, buy a real alligator. I could see all kinds of problems with that advice and nixed the idea immediately.

The next words of wisdom sounded workable. The article said that herons will not step over anything that is 3 feet (0.91 meters) high. It suggested to run a string around the outside of the pond 3 feet from the ground and viola(!) heron problem solved. I had string, but didn’t have the stakes. So I improvised. I took three lawn chairs and a wheelbarrow and placed them around the pond. I tipped the wheelbarrow so its handles were straight up in the air and stuck one of The Skipper’s shirts on it. A very makeshift scare crow but I thought it would work. Then I ran the string exactly three feet from the ground around all the objects. I stepped back and looked at my work. The pond looked quite different, like people who lost their minds lived here.

I hadn’t even made it back to the barn yet when you-know-who flew in. I stood still and gloated. Hank completely ignored the wheelbarrow scare crow and walked sedately to the pond. He came in contact with the string, stopped, took two steps back (my gloating was reaching a crescendo) then ducked under the string and waded serenely into the pond. Did I need to print the article out for him so he could read it and find out what he was supposed to do?

I charged down the hill screaming and waving my hands, which Hank found distasteful, and calmly took flight gracefully landing in a tall tree in my neighbor’s yard. I, on the other hand, with a full head of steam couldn’t fully stop myself before I ran into the string and slid into the pond taking chairs and wheelbarrow with me whereupon I met Snappy. A junior snapping turtle (another little fish eater) was in the pond. Snappy seemed to focus on my fingers. I scrambled out of the pond as fast as any 59 year old woman could who was mired in muck and silt and some kind of clinging plant, whiled being attacked by a snapping turtle. Dripping wet, very muddy, removing plant life from my hair with all ten fingers, I walked toward the house. I turned, just before walking up the steps to the door, and pointed at Hank who was still peacefully sitting in my neighbor’s tree. “Game on”, I said.

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For the first time in a long while I can say that I may be starting to feel better. Yesterday I felt like mush, but today I’m feeling a bit more like uncooked oatmeal, a bit sturdier.

The interesting news, however, is I got the muffler on the car fixed yesterday and for the first time in ages I rolled up the driveway and was not greeted by Sammy! I gingerly got out of the car, careful not to slam the door shut. Looked fore and aft, even under the car. No Sammy. Perhaps it was the muffler noise that attracted him. Bad news is I am kind of worrying about him. I hope he’s alright wherever he is. On the other hand, I walk around the yard on tippy toes expecting him to suddenly appear.

Yarn Rascal has a tick infection. We are going to start the medication routine tomorrow. We give him preventive flea and tick medication monthly so how this came about is something I want answered. Yarn Rascal is very sensitive to all medications so any time we have to go the medication route it’s a bit unnerving. He gets reactions to his normal yearly shots. I’m going to get out his favorite Shetland Yarn and put it in the bed with him. Maybe it will be a lucky charm and we’ll get through the course of meds without any complications.

The blanket I am making my father is here. I nixed the turquoise, he’s just not a turquoise person, and substituted a dark heathered brown. I kept the dark and light greys and the cream. I wanted the blanket to resemble the colors of agates I have seen and admired. The knitting is going nicely. I haven’t hit that point yet where nothing seems to move forward, but I’ve only completed 2 of the 8 strips.

I am going to try taking pictures on my cell phone and uploading them to my computer to see if that is less aggravating than camera to computer. But I suspect it is the photo software I am hating and not the tech items.

As of yesterday, I am officially rooting for winter to arrive. Temperatures of 90 F / 32 C are beyond me unless I’m a cactus.

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At the moment, I am having a different kind of knitting experience. After much dithering I am knitting a blanket for my father that I hope to finish before his life ends. He is always cold lately and I thought a knitted blanket was a nice solution. I’ve made one crocheted afghan so I know the time and energy that goes into a large project like this. After I completed that afghan I felt done with ever doing another. To think of knitting an entire blanket was beyond what my mind could comprehend. Who in their right mind would ever consider such a project?

After Dad’s recent hospital stay, I overwhelmingly felt he needed a knitted blanket. Part of my mind rejected the idea of knitting it and said go out and buy him one. The other part of me felt that wasn’t the point at all. The buy him one side posed a valid argument that I don’t know how much longer Dad has and was I willing to start a blanket knowing I might not complete it in time? How would I handle that failure? The other side said that’s right I don’t know how much time he has left so I better get knitting.

Usually when I am knitting for someone the hours are filled with thoughts of them enjoying and using the item over time. It’s reaffirming a continuation of life. The hours spent knitting this blanket are not like that. Projecting forward in time brings me to placing it in his casket so it will always be near him. It’s a very different knitting experience. I see how I have associated knitting with hope and life and a continuation of positive things going forward. The connection between knitting and hope is, perhaps, the strongest for me. The act of knitting means hope and pushes away the feeling of despair.

While I have not fallen into despair knitting the blanket, the knitting is more solemn. Just to be on the safe side, I’d like to complete this blanket by September. So that’s where I am right now: at the hottest point in the summer, knitting a blanket made with bulky weight wool.

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So much is going on around here that I really don’t even know what day it is. Eighteen pounds of tomatoes have been made into sauce. An entire sock was completed for The Skipper, but the foot was too big. Yes, all those teeny twisted and crossed stitches were ripped right out. I am back to a ball of yarn, 5 naked double-pointed needles, and a calculator. I could cry.

On the plus side, the countdown to the first day of college continues. I had a wonderful time with my nephew yesterday. Laughs and fond memories, heart to heart sharing. I like that he is not hesitant to ask me about anything. It’s the kind of open, honest relationship I wanted to build with him and his brother from the moment they were born. It was important to me from the minute I saw their little faces a few hours after birth that they grew up knowing my love for them is unconditional, no strings attached. A problem shared is a problem cut in half. They can talk about anything to me. While my nephew is still understandably nervous, much of the mystery and worry has been abated. He told me the best time of his life was when he was four years old. I told him I thought the best time of his life was yet to be.

None of the knitted items I need to photograph has seen the camera. Today the car is in for service. Tomorrow is doctor time for me and food shopping for the weekend. So there is little hope that they will be photographed in the next 24 hours. I also have to write up two patterns and begin the jottings for two others.

In the meantime, Lucy at Attic24 has her Coastal Blanket up and ready. I’ve been drooling over it since she started it. I think it is perfect for my 83 year old father. So on top of the socks, the girl’s smock, and a tiny shawl I’d like to make for me, the Coastal Blanket is calling to me. Yes, it is crochet, which I think might be a good break from knitting teeny twisted and crossed stitches. The new yarn, the colors, it might just be the project that saves my sanity as Autumn approaches.

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When you are waiting for a train, don’t keep perpetually looking to see if it is coming…. It will not come any sooner for all your nervous glances and your impatient pacing, and you will save strength if you will keep quiet.

Anna C. Brackett

The Technique of Rest

I am as “impatient as the wind”. The personification is from William Wordsworth and it perfectly describes me today. Knitting on the baby blanket goes on when I would rather be knitting on the baby sweater.  I tell myself  I still have a bit to do before I can start knitting the sweater but it doesn’t seem to help.  What needs to be done before I knit:

1) Recalculate sleeves and everything else just to be sure;

2) Decide on a neckline and its design;

3) Nail down the info on the sleeves regarding cap, armscye, length, width, etc.;

4) Fool around with a seed stitch design I would like to incorporate;

5) And yes, make sure the ruffle edge is really the edge I want.

6) Estimate amount of yarn needed.

I worked on writing part of the blanket pattern today.  I’d like to get the first 6 rows knit before I sneak in a picture of it here. I even have a tentative edging in mind for the blanket. I’ve made progress.  Still, I’m as “impatient as the wind.”

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The problem is that we attempt to solve the simplest questions cleverly, thereby rendering them unusually complex. One should seek the simple solution.

Anton Pavlovich Chekohov

“Nauka”

Yes, I have finally found solutions to my most pressing knitting dilemmas.

First up the baby sweater. The problem was finding an edging that would work both at the sleeves and bottom edge of the sweater. I wanted an edging that was clearly feminine, would not require knitting gymnastics, or be overly frilly.

ruffle edge

ruffle edge

The ruffle edge minus the eyelets and worked on a smaller scale goes nicely with the yarn and my gauge. The adjustments I made make it dainty enough to look good as a sleeve edging too. I have 2 patterns in mind for the transition from edge to sweater body stitch. I will have to see which works best. Both are very simple to knit yet visually interesting.

Before I cast on, though, I need to rework some of the numbers in the schematic.  Sleeve cap and armscye need to be recalculated.  I want to go with a fit-in sleeve so I need to redo the armhole depth, etc.  Do I feel a migraine coming on? You betcha! I am not fond of math and math is not fond of me. Put that truth together with this is my first time ever designing an armhole and sleeve cap and it’s an equation for trouble. But let me not project.

The second knitting dilemma concerned the mitered square baby blanket. It pretty much solved itself. I was debating on how to fit the squares together to create a nice color pattern.  I put the blanket squares aside to take the dogs for a walk. When I went to pick them up again I noticed the color pattern they were making. A little tweaking here and there and the issue was resolved. It is a simple but nice pattern.

These two dilemmas really kind of worked themselves out. But first I had to release my strangle hold on the problems.  I had to let go. A friend told me a long time ago that the way you work a knot out of your yarn is not by pulling it tight but by relaxing and loosening it. She said figuring out problems worked the same way. Relax and let go. The answer will appear.

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