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I Am Counting

When a knitter says “I am counting” the rational person treats the knitter with the same respect one would a rabid animal: slowly back away and vacate the area. I obviously don’t surround myself with rational people or pets.

The current masochistic knitting project is a shawl worked in short-rows in order to create waves of color. There’s a lot to keep track of not the least of which includes counting. I’ve already restarted this shawl six times and I don’t want to restart it a seventh. It is with a sense of dread that I pick the thing up and knit on it each night.

The key to success with this shawl is to complete each wave without interruption of any kind. No exceptions for tornados, severe thunderstorms, updates on family, The Skipper’s latest project, or Yarn Rascal’s need to sit on my lap with his favorite bone in his mouth and drool. I suspect that in order to achieve this I will need to find a convent where vows of silence have been taken and even then the fire alarm will probably go off and I will need to put the knitting down before completing the wave.

I was making progress on the shawl until The Skipper and Yarn Rascal came bounding into the living room last night.

“I’m counting” I said without looking up.

The TV went on and The Skipper started watching a cooking show which is way better, or so I thought, than him choosing the Business News Channel. How many numbers can be repeated in a cooking show to throw me off count? Rascal, on the other hand, was busy watching the two newest fawns play in the yard. All seemed well.

And so I counted. Five, six, seven…

The TV responded: we have 20 square inches of meat to cut into 2 inch by 2 inch…

Eight, ten, twenty…no that’s not right.

200 pieces …2 inches squared…16…at 5 minutes a side…

Sixteen, seventeen…no wait a minute is that right? No wasn’t I on six? This can’t be right. I need to knit seventeen stitches before turning and I have…well there is no way to know what I have because I didn’t put the marker in before I turned.

At 350 degrees…turn 90 degrees…

Yes, the only way to get back on track is to rip it back to the life line yet again. I am beginning to think I might never complete this shawl. I am reluctant to put it into a time out for being bad, because I fear I will never, as long as I am in my right mind, pick it up again. Plus, I really do want it for the autumn. I picked out the colors specifically to represent that season.

So tonight I will try again to make some progress, even if I have to close myself up in the bathroom to accomplish it.

 

 

 

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Movement

I wish I could tell you all the things that have been happening here but there are just so many.

The sock madness has halted. I am 32 rows short of completing the second sock of the second pair of socks. The unfinished sock is in a prominent place so it sits and stares at me and makes me feel guilty.

I have, what I thought would be an easy shawl on the needles. It’s all garter stitch and short-rows. I am here to tell you it is not as easy as I thought and since I am looking at ripping back to the beginning for the fifth time I can say that it is bordering on masochistic knitting. The problem is not the pattern it’s me, the knitter. Despite using stitch markers in large quantity I am still getting lost on where I am at in the pattern.

I am seriously thinking that the reason for all the trouble is that this is some cosmic karma thing and I am meant to be doing something else other than this shawl. Call it masochistic, but I am even more determined to knit this shawl. Usually when a project gives me this much trouble I put it in the time out bin where it can think about what a pain in the neck it is being. But if I did that then I would need to either A) pick up the sock and finish it, or B) work on the Shetland shawl. I will go to all lengths to not work on the Shetland shawl as that needs precise, fine-tuned concentration which is in short supply here at the moment.

I’ve recently been to the doctor and the news was not so good. I now have diabetes. Since I don’t want to take more medication because not everything plays nicely with my cancer medication I have persuaded him to give me three months to turn the diabetic numbers around.

After learning about diabetes, the only thing that I am doing to contribute to it is being kind of sedentary. He decided I should start a regular exercise routine. Easy for him to say. So my new morning ritual incorporates exercise. Today I tried yoga. I can see that while it is interesting it may not work for me. It seems that whenever I am on the floor in a downward dog pose, Yarn Rascal takes it as a signal to position himself between my body and the floor while licking my face. If I fall while in this position I will crush him to death. Doing yoga with Yarn Rascal is not going to work, I can see that. As long as I am on the floor the dog takes it as play time and cuddle time.

That leaves walking, tai chi, and working in the garden. There may be plenty of work to do in the garden this year. We have no bees in our area. The two apiaries near us have no honey bees. Bees pollinate the plants, especially tomato plants. As of now it looks like we will be hand pollinating all the plants this year. This is not a good turn of events climate-wise.

Well, that’s all the down time I have. I am going to try and excavate the exercise bike from my mother’s basement. Just attempting the extrication should qualify as some heavy duty exercise. It’s all about movement, my friends.

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Catch Up

I don’t know where the time is flying to lately, but I am running full out to try and catch up. It is almost 2 weeks now since I met up with fellow blogger and friend, Salpal of What I’m Up To Today blog. It was wonderful to meet her in person and I really enjoyed the time with her. She is exactly the same nice, caring, sincere person she is on her blog. Naturally we hit a yarn store. Such a treat for me, since I don’t have any near me. To be able to see and feel the yarn before purchasing was so nice. Salpal is such a nice person I found myself wishing we lived nearer one another. I really had a wonderful time.

When I came through the door carrying the yarn in a bag, Yarn Rascal raced over to me and I thought I was going to receive a nice big cuddly welcome home. But no. Yarn Rascal ran towards me and actually dove into the bag and came up with the yarn I had bought. With yarn in mouth, he proceeded to dance around the living room like a horse performing dressage. He didn’t let the yarn get out of his sight all night long. In fact, he slept with it in his bed.

Lately, Yarn Rascal has been in an archeological mode. He’s been taking out long forgotten wips and draping them along the floor in the hallway where I can’t help but see them. All my wips are in their own canvas bags which he also leaves in the hallway. Honestly, I didn’t know I had that many canvas bags nor that many wips.

The picture below shows one of the wips Yarn Rascal dug out finally finished.

scarf knit

I started this scarf 6 years ago when my mother and father were in separate ICUs in separate hospitals. The pattern is by Anne Hanson and is called Rivolo. I remember selecting the pattern because it looked like the rain that incessantly ran down the windows of each ICU. The yarn I used was Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in the Navy Pier colorway.

It was hard to believe we had moved on to 6 years. The trauma still seems near.

Right now I am knitting socks. It’s very obsessive compulsive knitting. I finished one pair and immediately began on a second pair. I am working from patterns of my own making. Pictures are on their way. Like I said, everything seems to be moving faster than me and I am playing catch up.

 

 

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The sock yarn that didn’t want to be socks is finally a pair of socks.

knit socks dream in color yarn

The actual color is not as yellow as the picture. It’s more a creamy butter color. The yarn is Dream In Color Smooshy in the Butter Peeps colorway. The pattern is http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mary-mary-8″>Mary Mary</a>. I don’t know why the http address is not coming out right, but a lot of things have been screw ball crazy on WordPress for me lately.

The modifications I made on the sock are small. I worked both a short-row toe and heel, changed the cable on the sides to a broken garter stitch and did a sewn bind off without a cuff. I knit them on a 9 inch (23) centimeters long US 1 (2.25 mm) circular needle. Despite the fact that the circular needle was 9 inches (23) centimeters I was able to comfortably use it to work my 7.5 inch (19) cm circumference.

I immediately started another pair of socks–anything to delay working on the Shetland Shawl project. I keep telling myself that I just need a little more of a break from intricate lace work.

On the home front, The Skipper has decided to replace all the windows on the second story of the house. I don’t normally get excited over window replacement unless the windows that are being replaced are in the two rooms where my over-flowing stash and wips and all things knitting and crocheting are housed. So let’s say I am really, really excited.

I went into just one of the rooms to contemplate the mess situation. I had a full on panic attack at the thought of having to bring some kind of order to it. The Skipper, trying to help, suggested I sort what I was going to keep from what I was going to get rid of. Get rid of???? Nay, kind sir, there is not a scrap of yarn, nor any other knitting or crocheting accoutrements I can part with. Yarn Rascal sat on his small mountain of yarn and watched as the blood drained from my face and I almost fell into a faint at the thought that I might have to part with any of it. I mean I have plans for all this yarn.

The Skipper said if I lived to be 100 I would never use it all. That, of course, is not the point. Like a connoisseur of fine wine or fine art, all of the yarn—except the bags of yarn from my mother’s weaving stash–so almost all of the yarn, was acquired at a great price and with considerable thought, especially if it was on sale. It takes almost a full three seconds to look at, contemplate, then hit the buy button if I know what I am looking for. If I am unsure, it could be a full 10 or 15 minutes of looking and contemplating. Just acquiring yarn is an art unto itself.

I pointed out that some of the yarn is the only one left of its type because it was discontinued. While I may not immediately have a project in mind for it right now, I am waiting and thinking about what sort of project will perfectly fit it. I mean some of my stash is museum quality. I could see that Yarn Rascal understood but The Skipper did not.

If you want a hot stock tip, invest in the Rubbermaid company. From the looks of things, I am going to buy loads of their containers.

 

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I never thought it would happen, but I’ve finally come across sock yarn that doesn’t want to be a sock. The culprit is Smooshy by Dream In Color in the Butter Peeps colorway. Smooshy, along with MadelineTosh Sock, are my go to yarns for socks and I’ve never had them fight me the way this yarn is doing.

knit socks

I’ve had Butter Peeps in my stash for a long, long time. Yarn Rascal unearthed it when I was trying out the Mary Mary sock pattern on Ravelry. (I’d put the link in to the pattern but WordPress is acting strange lately and won’t let me).

The Mary Mary pattern is the perfect pattern for this colorway. So no matter how hard the yarn fights me I am determined to make it into this sock. After all, masochistic knitting is not new to me.

Since I knit socks from the toe up the first place the yarn gave me trouble was making the short-row toe look right. It did not want to make a nice neat short-row. So each toe of each sock was *worked, ripped, and worked again* repeat from * to * four times. I never have this much trouble with short-row toes.

The second problem is why I don’t “usually” buy sock patterns, though you would never know it what with all the sock books and loose patterns I have in the sock making area of my stash. I could knit socks forever and never complete all the sock patterns I have stashed. Yes, in addition to stashing yarn I stash patterns.

Back to the second problem: I can never get gauge. The gauge will say 9 stitches per inch on size US 1 needles (2.25 mm) and I can only average about 7. I would need to drop down 2 needle sizes to even begin to reach 9 stitches. I can hear the snapping of dpns as I write this. No, 2.25 mm is the tiniest I can go and stay sane. I use the word “sane” loosely.

Because I can’t get gauge and my sock size is 7.5 inches (19 cm) in circumference I need to adapt whatever sock pattern I am working from. This means studying the pattern, deciding how I can adapt it so it looks close to what it was. Sometimes that is easier in theory than in practice. Though, with this particular sock all I needed to do was drop the cable at both sides of the instep and replace it with broken garter stitch. For me, the look is still close enough to the original to be pleasing.

Since I was experiencing all sorts of idiosyncracies working on dpns—holes where there shouldn’t be holes, wonky stockinette stitches, and a strange puckering of fabric every so often— I decided to knit it on a 9 inch (23 cm) small circular needle. It helped tame the yarn somewhat, though the yarn still does not want to play nice with p2tog.

I have about 30 more rows to go before I have to work the short-row heel. I have zero expectation that it will work out well on the first go round. The last heel took three tries before it looked right.

Finally, I thought I’d share this picture of Yarn Rascal with you. Notice the gleam in the eyes, he is planning his evening activities in the yarn vault.

yarn rascal

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Searching

I’ve been looking for the Rowan Glace I know is lurking somewhere in one of my stashes. Having come up empty handed I thought I’d turn the task over to the master of the stashes, Yarn Rascal. After all, he spends his entire nights not sleeping but unearthing things from the yarn vault.

Lately he’s been in archeological mode. Finding and uncovering wips that I have long since forgotten about. He carefully drags them from the closet and displays them on the floor in the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom where I can’t help but see them. Two of them have caught my interest and if I can find the yarns, beads, and patterns I was using I would love to finish them. Yarn Rascal can’t help me find the beads because he will eat them. Nor can he help me locate the patterns because he will shred them as he does yarn ball bands. Anything that’s paper, including money, must be ripped into small fragments.

So last night I begged him to put his archeology hat away and find the Glace. Along with some archeological finds he unearthed a significant amount of yarn. Alas, none of it the Glace. While putting the yarns -sans ball bands- back into their respective places I realized that all the yarns Yarn Rascal had taken out were either Shetland, merino, or some other pure wool yarn. Not one was a combo of wool and silk or wool and cotton. None were cotton or linen yarns. The dog has his preferences and if it is not pure wool he ignores it. Until now I hadn’t recognized how particular he is in his choices.

Unfortunately for me, Glace is a pure cotton yarn and therefore not on Yarn Rascal’s radar. That means it’s up to me to find it. I’ll give it one more week of searching and then I’ll buy a skein. All I want it for is to swatch a baby dress idea that’s been kicking around my head and because it is a spring/summer sort of thing I’d like to use cotton yarn. Why is nothing every easy?

 

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I assure you, knitting is taking place. I am working on the Cameron Shetland Shawl by Susan Miller.

the-cameron-shawl

I am working from the center out, which means I only need navigate 125 stitches at a time. The stitch repeat is only 10 or 12 stitches. Oh the numerous ways a 10 to 12 stitch repeat can go wrong. Let’s count them, shall we?

1) Knit the wrong row entirely. Repeat this periodically throughout the 242 row process.
2) Knit while someone is talking to you.
3) Knit while watching television.
4) Dog steals knitting and dismantles it to his liking. Dismantle what dog has dismantled and try to pick up stitches from life line.
5) Realize you can’t see life line because it is a very pale lavender and fades away completely against the white frothy-ness of the Shetland yarn. Starting from the beginning is the only answer. Do not cry. It is too early in the process for crying.
6) Toss stash for a darker life line yarn. Come up empty. Have an argument with yourself over whether to shelve the knitting until you go to the store and get a darker yarn or to continue with the very pale lavender because you’re afraid a darker cotton yarn might unintentionally stain the white Shetland yarn. When the migraine appears, knitting is done for the night effectively ending the debate. Take two headache pills. Go to bed.
7) Memorize the repeat of a row, only memorize it wrong. When you get to the end of the row notice the stitch count is off. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line and try to pick up the tiny white stitches. Make a cup of Chamomile tea, drink it slowly while repeating the words “It’s okay. Everything will be fine.” Put the knitting away for the night.
8) Memorize repeat of row, memorize it correctly. At end of row stitch count is off. Carefully review row. Repeat the review at least 3 more times. Fail to see where the mistake is. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line. Crying is now allowed.

Of the 242 rows I managed to knit 60 rows successfully.

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