Friday, November 16

Happy Birthday, Oklahoma!

On this day, one hundred years ago, Oklahoma became a state. I suspect that Native Americans, particularly the Cherokee and Osage, will not be celebrating. I can't really blame them, as it put paid to their very last hopes of a land of their own, as promised to them by our less-than-faithful-to-its-word government. The Cherokee were moved there, after being robbed of their lands in the East in Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia, by President Andrew Jackson (who really had a serious thing about "Indians", and today would be rotting in prison for committing "hate crimes" against them), which made the indigenous Osage less than happy. Oddly, for such "savage barbarians", they managed to settle the differences between them without maiming and killing each other. Would that we 'eurotrash' could follow their example...

It's a lovely place, Oklahoma, from the forested rolling hills of the eastern half to the miles and miles of miles and miles of prairie of the western half. The weather does tend to get a bit extreme, however - there's a reason why the National Severe Storms Laboratory is located in the center of the state.

My father moved our family to Tulsa when the state was two years shy of its fiftieth birthday, and I more or less grew up there, went to college there (Yay, SOONERS!), met my now-ex husband there, and so many other milestones. It's been years since I've even been there, but I still get homesick.

Monday, November 5

A Visit to the Opthalmologist

In Which the News Ranges From Bad to Fantastic.

Bad is that it's not my imagination, I am going blind. Under different circumstances, this would totally freak me out, as visually oriented as I am, but...

Good is that the problem is an easy fix! Yes, I do have cataracts, but things have changed a lot lately in cataract surgery. No longer do they remove the cornea and lens, and you're bandaged up for next to forever, you never really get good vision back, and you have to wear those ugly half-spherical glasses. According to the very nice doctor I visited this morning, he'll be able to do the procedure in his office, with no general anesthesia, it'll take about 10 minutes of actual surgery per eye, bandages for maybe 2 days, complete healing in a month, AND...

Fantastic is that since what he's doing is replacing the lens (through a teeny tiny incision at the edge of the cornea), the lens can correct my life-long near-sightedness, and I will never have to wear glasses to see more than 18" past my nose again!!! I may need reading glasses, but that's a bridge we'll cross when we get there.

Good also is that other than the cataracts, the eyes look good, nice healthy nerves and retinas and such. This is a real relief, let me tell you.

Medicare says one must wait until a certain degree of impairment of vision has occurred before they will pay for the cataract surgery, and I'm not there yet. In the meantime, the doctor has changed my glasses prescription, which is going to represent a significant improvement, and we'll re-evaluate in six months.

Now I can quit boring you with medical crap for a while! Aren't you glad?

On the knitting front, MS3, Part deux has progressed to row 266, and inches closer to the end with every day I can work on it.

I started K3P3 ribbing on the practice sock about 1" or so above the turning of the heel, and there's now about 1.5" of ribbing completed. I originally wound the hank of yarn into two balls, one somewhat smaller than the other, and I still have quite a bit left on the smaller ball, so I'm doing good on yarn, too! I figure I'll rib to the point where my calf really starts swelling out, or the small ball is gone, whichever comes first. That way I KNOW I'll have enough yarn to knit the Second Sock.

As there has been no embroidery done, there's nothing to report there.

Before I go, I really MUST mention the weather. Sorry about that, but the past two days have been totally gorgeous, highs in the upper 70's, lows in the low 50's, with severe clear skies, blue as can be, and not a hint of a whisper of a wisp of a cloud. Autumn really IS here! I've thrown open the windows and turned off the A/C, and switched to the cool weather blankets on my bed. Joy!!!

Saturday, November 3

I Am A Knitter!

A real Knitter, with a capital "K"! It happened this way...

I have been working on the 'practice sock' and tonight got to the turning of the heel. As the wrestling match with the beast proceeded, my language went from calm to beseeching to threatening to downright profane, on the last row when I discovered that I had managed to drop 4 stitches from one of the two needles on the instep side of the sock, while trying to pick up the 'fill the gap stitch' on the last wrapped stitch. After I succeeded in getting that 'gap stitch' made, and all the dropped stitches picked up (one of them had run down 5 rows), the language became completely triumphant.

At this point, my dear son, sitting in his chair, beside mine, and trying to watch the sports portion of the 11 o'clock news, and having absolutely no idea of the utterly cosmic connotations of the question, asked me:

"Do you enjoy talking to your sock?"

Thursday, November 1

Hey, Karma! Listen up!

Many, many moons past, about 384 of them, give or take a few, I decided that I wanted a piano, that I needed a piano, and that someday, somehow, I was going to have a piano. I firmly believed that I WOULD get this piano, though I had no idea how, but I was pretty sure that buying it at normal prices wasn't going to be the way, as money and I have only a nodding acquaintance, at best. It took you, karma, almost eight years from that day, but I was in my favorite book store one day (this was before one bought books at Barnes & Noble [who was publishing textbooks then] or Amazon [which wasn't even a gleam in anybody's eye yet]), one owned and operated by real people. I'm told that there are still a few of these dinosaurs around, but I haven't seen one in a looooong time. But that's another post, and I digress.

So I was in the bookstore, and Holly, the proprietor, asked me if I knew anybody that could use a piano, as she no longer needed hers, due to her last piano playing chick having left the nest, and she needed the space. I said "yes" immediately, of course, and asked her how much she wanted for it. "Just come and get it and move it away" was her response, so I motivated a bunch of strong backs, and I had my piano. Ya did good, karma, and I've been grateful.

OK, I now have another need, karma, and I'm putting you on notice that I firmly believe that somehow, in some fashion, you will bring me a kneeling, ramped mini-van, with swiveling front seats, and hand controls. It would be nice were it to come equipped with a good trailer hitch, and a nice small RV-type trailer, as well, but I'll cut you some slack on that. I don't want to be greedy, after all. I would prefer not to wait eight years for this, but I will if I must.

You've laid a lot of bad on me the last few years, karma, along with some good, but I think I'm about due for some really big good. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Most respectfully,

Tuesday, October 30

Paging King Canute

I'd show you a picture of today's northeaster, but you already know what a windy, overcast, soggy day looks like - and besides, I didn't take any. This one is, as usual, producing quite a bit of beach erosion, and on tonight's news was a story about some people whose homes are in danger of becoming history, as the sand dunes on which they are built have mostly disappeared into the great maw of the Atlantic. The people are demanding that Something Be Done. All I can think of is "Dumbasses, don't build on sand dunes!" You'd think that something this basic would be obvious, but... they want to live on the shore, so reality must give way, and natural processes must cease operation.

Sorry, people, but Not Gonna Happen. We've spent over a billion dollars in the First Coast area in the past 10 years on beach replenishment, and it just washes out to sea again. Go build someplace a bit more stable, ok? Like in Nebraska?

Monday, October 29

I Feel Obligated -

though not very enthusiastic - about updating this here blog. Can you tell that all those diaries I faithfully started on January 1 each year back when I was young didn't make it through March?

On the needlework front - I am presently ready to knit row 220 of the MS3 second half - it creeps along, but it is advancing! I have also finally frogged the "practice" sock, with all those bulky cables on the instep, let the yarn relax for a few days, and am now about 3" past the lifeline I set in, seems like years ago now, at the point where I finally got the short rows toe done right. After knitting all those yards and miles of the Zephyr, the SuperStrong sock feels like the old Red Heart Wool - stiff and scratchy and rather similar to bridge cable in size. It's not, actually, of course, but the subjective difference between the two is mighty!

Most of the time intervening between my last post and this one has been occupied with things medical, either psyching up for, actually going to, or recovering from, being poked and pierced and prodded and such. I shan't mention this further except for four things. One is that the usual chemistries and counts all came back as usual - low side of normal, right where I like them, especially the things like cholesterol and blood sugar, so I'm no likelier than I've been to drop dead unexpectedly.

Another is that I got both knees juiced at one go, instead of doing them three weeks apart, and oh, BOY! did it feel good to be able to just stand up, instead of getting leaned forward JUST so, and planting both hands on the arms of the chair in JUST the right position, and levering and leaning in just the right directions to slowly bring the body to the standing position. Even the long-lasting 'caines have worn off now, but the steroids have kicked in, so the knees are relatively painless, and life has been very pleasant the last few days. I can make a fair approximation of actually walking, instead of my usual bent-over hobble. I wish I could have this done every month!

Another is that after blinding me with the otoscope in the EENT part of the physical, Dr. Helen said she was going to refer me to an opthalmologist. Seems she saw some odd things in my eyeballs which, she says, she thinks might be the start of cataracts, or might be something else really whonky. More specific she didn't want to be. JUST what I need! Anyway, that appointment is set for early next month.

The other thing I want to talk about is the MRI, which bears no resemblence whatsoever to what you see on the boob tube on the doctor shows, other than the machinery looks similar. I even brought my camera along, to share this jolly experience with you, but they suggested that I might not want to expose the delicate electronic innards of the camera to the very strong magnetic fields surrounding the MRI equipment. So no pictures. Sorry!

This was a first for me, in more ways than one. When Dr. Helen was putting together the sheaf of prescriptions at the end of the physical, she asked me if I was claustrophobic. I told her that yes, I am, mildly, which was, I thought, an accurate assessment. Not the first time I've been wrong.... So, she prescribed a mild sedative to take just before the MRI. This was not encouraging, but I'm not adverse to a mild buzz.

So when I got home from the stop at the pharmacy, I googled the MRI, to find out as much as I could about it. Very informative, and I'm glad I did it, as the ensuing events would have been much uglier had I not. I did think that the warnings about heat were exaggerated, but that was made up for by the glossing over of the sound effects.

Chronologically: I arrived at 12:45, as instructed, for my 1:00 appointment, and took the sedative as soon as I got there. Spent about 5 minutes filling out the paperwork, and signing all the legal releases they require. Waited for a bit, had a nice conversation with the lady also waiting who was cross-stitching a Xmas ornie. The sedative had just started kicking in when they called me back to the torture chamber/exam room. The techs, who I will say were extremely helpful all the way through, kind, understanding, all that, made a final check of my person for things metallic, which are a biiiiig no-no, and got me set up. This started simply enough, as I had to lay down on a stretchery thing, with a nice cradle for the head. They propped up my knees so I COULD lay flat on my back, and I felt quite comfortable. Then they inserted some rather cheesy foam earplugs, and brought out the head cage, which neatly locks into that cradle I mentioned a couple of sentences back, and holds the head so that it's not impossible to move it, but it's damned difficult. It's not physically uncomfortable by any means, the only thing really noticeable is the cheek pads. I didn't have any real problems dealing with it mentally, either. They explained that the process was going to take about twenty minutes, handed me the panic button and explained how it worked (very encouraging, that), then elevated the stretcher and started inserting it (and me) into that tiny little donut hole, and people, I freaked! I held it together until about 3" of my arms were in that hole, and then I lost it. They very quickly uninserted me, and got me sitting up, and calmed down again. Then they asked me what set me off. I suggested that perhaps a bit more time for the sedative to work would be helpful, and that it was the feeling of the tube pressing in on my shoulders and arms that did me in. They gave the sedative another ten minutes, then suggested we try again. This time, after getting me re-caged and propped, they covered both shoulders, and all the way down my sides, with drapes that did NOT feel like any kind of typical starchy hospital linen I've ever encountered. It was more like sateen than anything else. It's amazing how much it helped, along with being somewhat more gorked. I kept my eyes very carefully and tightly closed, breathed deeply, and thought happy thoughts, while they got me inserted. Once the stretcher stopped moving and I was in position, I found I could relax my arms against the sides of the hole and feel not quite so squeezed, though actually, of course, I was. Think GOOD thoughts, breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold...

Then the machinery started doing its thing. They give you those earplugs for a reason, folks. That thing is NOISY! First it beeps at you, very similar to the back-up alarm on a fork-lift, several times. Then it whirrs for a while. Then it grinds, as though there was a faulty bearing in the guts of the thing somewhere. Then the whole thing starts over again. This cycles a bunch of times. each time adding a couple of beeps to the start of things. Then it beeps again, only this time it keeps ON beeping, and sounds like it's trying to tell the operators that there is some major fault in the machinery and it's going to explode in 30 seconds. About the time I was ready to panic again, the beeping stopped, and the whirring started again, then the grinding, and then it started to CLANK and vibrate. OHMIGOD itISabouttoexplode! Just as I was giving some really serious thought to pushing the panic button, it all stops, and about 10 seconds later I dimly heard the voice of one of the techs. I felt the stretcher moving me OUT of the donut, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.

It wasn't over yet, though. Now we have to do it WITH the contrast media, which involves shooting gandolinium (sounds like something that belongs in a nuclear reactor, doesn't it? But not radioactive, they assure me.) into the elbow vein. In it goes, and back into the donut hole. Breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold...HAPPY thoughts, with eyes shut! This session is, mercifully, shorter, but the body did betray, in that I started twitching! Mildly at first, the feet, lower legs, then it got worse and worse, and finally it was all the way up into my hands and arms, and more like the end stage of shivers, just before the body quits entirely trying to warm itself, and shuts down to conserve what little energy remains.

It was a nip and tuck race, folks, but the machine won, as a split second before I hit the panic button, and I did, the exam ended. The techs dug me out, and exclaimed repeatedly that they didn't know how I had done it, but somehow, with all the twitching, I managed to keep my head and neck completely still, and they had a perfectly beautiful set of pictures.

I didn't ask them what they had pictures OF. Didn't want to listen to their hemming and hawing about how the doctors would have to read them, etc.

So how was YOUR day?

Tuesday, October 9

My apologies for the somewhat more than two week's absence - just haven't had much of anything to say, outside of "When is this **^&^%$^$^&%*(O)*( rain going to STOP???" It finally has, and today was filled with sunshine! Remember back on the 17th of September I was talking about it was raining? It's BEEN raining, with one short day's respite, ever since! My backyard rain gauge filled and was emptied and refilled, etc. until I finally quit bothering, at 16", several days ago. It has been WET, people! Local creeks and rivers are expected to crest just below flood stage day after tomorrow, though there has been much localized and "urban" flooding. Getting out of my neighborhood via car has been interesting, as we're on a low ridge above the Big river valley, which is to the east and north of us, and has been flooded, off and on, for days at a time. We have to go about two miles west, then north, then east for several miles before we can turn south again to get across the river to DS's work.

My shoulder is improving, and in the last few days I've been able to do some knitting. Stitching returned several days before that, and I have an entire cupboard shelf once again filled with clean coffee mugs! MS3 has now progressed to row 136 of the second side. I've almost reached the point of the first chevron. I may actually get the thing finished before Christmas, o frabjous day!

The Historic Countries Sampler is advancing slowly, but is looking pretty decent. The pic below shows the progress I had made up to about a week ago, and since then, I have finished the barely started floral motif on the upper left, and made a good start on the 18th century couple under them. I'll try and remember to get a picture again tomorrow.

Sharp eyes will notice there's an error in that floral motif. The leftmost 'lollipop' somehow acquired an extra stitch in the stem. Yes, I frogged and restitched it to remove the extra one.

HCS - Progress #2

I also noticed, looking at the picture and comparing it to the real object, that I have an error in the first half of the MS3! However, I have no intention whatsoever of frogging and reknitting it! The guy on horseback speeding by isn't going to notice it, and I bet y'all haven't either. *I* didn't, until just last week!

Whilst dear friends are in a tizzy getting ready for Rhinebeck (and Oh, how I wish I were with them!), I'm going to try to get my Ravelry stuff together. I've been aboard for almost a month, now, and have barely started. Shame on me!

AND - I ordered a pair of the Harmony tips from KnitPicks - and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. Everyone who has gotten them so far that I've been reading is madly in love with them, and I can hardly wait to play! Mine are in US 7, for the Mystery Arterial Blood project. I don't normally knit with anything that large.

I also ordered a set of their nickel-plated DPNs, in 2.25mm. I finally found a pattern I like for the Sherbet FlockSock yarn I've been drooling over. It's funny, because I had something VERY similar to this pattern about half-way charted and written down, having given up finding it already done, when I ran across this pattern, and it's even a freebie! I'll post more about this project later, along with a pic of the scrumptious yarn.

Thursday, September 20

Ummm.... Misc? Orts? Olio? Smorgasbord?

After reading that, you should have gathered that I don't really have anything major to show or tell.

There will be no pictures of progress or completion of needleworks for a while - not long, though. I managed to screw up my left shoulder, and it's rendered useless for a time. I can't lift my arm more than from hanging to about table/desk height. I tried knitting yesterday, and made it through a mere four rows before I had to quit. Even holding the needle stationary, and doing all the work with the right needle (and YOU try doing a psso that way!) was more than I could handle. I can't even wash dishes! Thank heaven I have the dishwasher for backup, even though I hate putting my good pots n pans in it, and my flatware says specifically NOT to.

I did not drown on Monday, nor yesterday. In fact, yesterday, while the rain was pretty steady, wasn't the overwhelming mess that Monday was. This nor'easter has been bringing these narrow, long bands of rain across the area. Monday, the airport registered 1/3" of rain for the same twelve hour period that dumped over EIGHT inches on my head, some 20 miles south of said airport. I live on a bit of a slope, and it was amusing to sit here in my office/studio and watch everything that wasn't tied down further up the street come racing past on the breast of the flow of water. It pretty well stayed in the street, though, and didn't even get close to the house. I have the cleanest gutters you ever saw! Tuesday brought little spits and spats of drops from time to time, but hardly noticeable here, though 20 miles south of here had my Monday. Yesterday was just a soggy mess - alternating between heavy and light rain, and the monsoon levels were further south yet. Today the sun is shining, and the whole world is 15 to 20 degrees cooler, and sparkley clean! The five day forecast shows temps remaining in the upper 70's, maybe making it to 81 at the max. Every year, usually a few days after the Equinox, we have a big nasty storm that breaks the summer heat, and ushers in the heavenly fall that starts the paradisiacal half of the year, and it would seem that it just arrived a bit early this year. Hooray! 'Course, there's still another month and a half of whirley season to go...

If you have somehow missed it, go now to the Yarn Harlot's tale of her adventures in the Big Easy. Some good writing there.

And finally, take Two Lumps.

Monday, September 17

Who's Kidding Who?

The Weather people, in all their wisdom, declared that there was a 40% chance of rain last night and today. Ha ha ha!

Shortly before midnight last night, I took out the trash and recycles to the curb, in readiness for the early morning (6:30 AM) pickups. Shortly afterward, it commenced to rain. It has been doing so with short breaks ever since, it now being 1PM Monday afternoon. The weather radar shows a band of bright red bordered by yellow not quite 20 miles thick, but a couple of hundred miles long, stretching east to west, moving east, and right over the heart of Jax. Looks like the projected nor'easter is developing well, lol!

Right around noon, the trash haulers finally arrived, and collected an extremely sodden mass of paper and cardboard, which didn't even go into the recycle truck; they just pitched everything, trash and recycles, into the landfill truck. At least it no longer decorates my curb - there are just the empties out there now, and there they will stay until this rain stops! I really wonder, though, why I bothered separating out the recycles, and sorting the recycles into paper, plastic, and glass. I can understand trashing the paper, but surely a bit of rainwater doesn't obviate the recyclability of plastic and glass!

So what did I do this weekend besides watch a lot of football and golf? Well, I spent a lot of time frogging and cussing at MS3, before putting it away until another, more propitious, day. I frogged and restitched on the Historic Country mystery sampler - and didn't quite finish the first motif, but I do love, love, love stitching on linen with the Dinky Dyes silk. Even if three of the four colors in this motif ARE variegated, and therefore must be done one stitch at a time, it's still a pleasure!

HCS - Progress #1

And I swatched away with the Tupelo Gold - and got 8.5 sts & 9 rows/inch on relaxed stockinette with 3.75mm needles. Close enough!

Tupelo Gold Pretty Swatch

Friday, September 14

Oh, My Achin' Hand

Here is the (almost) before picture of the Wooly Wonka Fibers 100% merino laceweight, in the Tupelo Gold colorway. There's 1400 yds of it there, between the skein and the ball. I *almost* remembered to take the before picture - which is why the ball is still so small - that's the point at which I *did* remember.

Tupelo Gold before

And here, many, *many* tiresome hours of hand winding later, is the completely wound yarn, all 1400 yds of it. I really did try to get it all onto one ball, but the thing became so unwieldy that I couldn't manage it properly. And OH, does my hand hurt! So, there are two balls, and I will undoubtedly have to join yarn at some point during the knitting of Bee Field. Ratz!

Tupelo Gold after

A ball winder is looming larger and larger on my wish list. Thank you, whatever drug company manufactured my generic ibuprofen.

Thursday, September 13

Belated Progress Reports

I know, it's not tomorrow. In fact, it's two days after tomorrow. I've really been meaning to join the Procrastinator's Club, but...

I confess I haven't been doing a great deal of stitching, being otherwise occupied with MS3, of which I am now on row 100 of Part Deux. It is going considerably faster, though, as I am not spending *nearly* the same amount of time frogging and tinking as I did the first time through. I'm getting good at 'reading' my knitting!

Back to the point - item the first, the hardanger piece. I have finished the Kloster blocks, and have only one pair of the satin stitch 'ships' to complete. Then it's time to switch to the #8 pearl, for the eyelets and the buttonhole border.
Here it is, without the annoying moire effect:

Hardanger progress

The "White Musings" band sampler. The first band is star stitch, done in all three fibers. The upright cross is in #8 Perle cotton, the wide saltire cross is 2 strands of DMC cotton floss, and the narrow saltire is fuzzy looking because it's fuzzy thread - Rainbow gallery 'Whisper', to be precise. All are white, and the fabric is 32 ct. Amsterdam Blue Lugana. The second band is the booooring three-sided "Two sided Italian" stitch, in the DMC cotton. It strikes me as being a great deal of unnecessary fussiness to do something that is indistinguishable from ordinary cross-stitch with backstitching on three sides. The band is completed with a second row of the same stitch done under the gaps in the first row. Very dull. The bands get better, though. Here it is:

White Musings #1

I'd show you the Historic Countries start, but...

I should have paid more attention to the chart, as I made an incorrect assumption regarding the motif I started on, a grouping of three styleized flowers on one stem, with leaves. I assumed that the three flowers were identical, and that each flower was symmetrical. Wrong. So I frogged the whole mess, and once again have a blank piece of fabric. I would have worked on it today, but...

Yesterday, the post person delivered a nice envelope from Wooly Wonka Fibers, which contained 1400 yards of lace-weight 100% merino in the Tupelo Gold colorway (which is mostly spring green, with odd lengths of yellow and aqua in it. Gorgeous stuff! I put it on the swift and plomped down in front of the TV at 1:30 this afternoon. After I wound off the first couple of hundred yards, (by *hand*, I'll have you know, as I don't yet have a winder) it occurred to me that I hadn't taken a picture of it for you, so I took it off the swift, retwisted it into a skein, and took a picture of skein and ball. Then I put it back on the swift, and started back on winding the ball. And I wound, and wound, and wound, and stopped to fix a quick dinner (cube steak sandwich), and wound and wound and wound some more. I gave up part of the way through Letterman (but did catch Viggo the Handsome in his marvy VanDyke and Handlebar!), and still have maybe 200 yds to do. I must say, though, that after this marathon, a measley 400 yds of sock yarn is going to be childs' play. And to think I was dreading it!

I think I'd rather have my teeth drilled sans novocaine.

Saturday, September 8

Fiberlicious Friday on Saturday

OK, I finally got my act together and took some pictures, helped enormously by the generosity of the post office delivery this week. All KINDS of goodies hit my mailbox! In no particular order:

From the magical dye pots of the Yarn Fairy - I almost don't want to show this yet, as the picture doesn't begin to do it justice, and I want to play around with different lighting to see if I can't get it better. The yarn is light worsted weight 100% wool, and we have named the color "Arterial Blood", which it is, even though this picture makes it look pink. Trust me, it's not.

Arterial blood

From the shelves of 1-2-3-Stitch, the home of all good things for the cross-stitch maniac, a fat half of Edinburgh linen, color Ivory, 36 ct.

Edinburgh 36 ct. linen

for use with...

DD1 and DD2

which are 29 skeins of Dinky-Dyes 6-strand silk. For those of you who count these things, you'll notice there are 30 skeins pictured. The 30th one is on the far right of the second picture, and is a 'limited edition' release to celebrate the 5th birthday of Dinky-Dyes as a commercial enterprise. It won't be used in the project using the other 29, which is the 12 months Historical Countries sampler being published in 'The Gift of Stitching' eMag. Just as a bit of lagniappe, there is a 'companion piece', one per month, which add up to a 12-piece stitcher's chatelaine.

And the final goodie, from the good folk at Amazon -

VLT book

I've only had time to skim the first quarter of this so far, but it's a fantastic book, I know already. It's in the same genre as those marvelous little volumes once written by English country vicars on the most abtruse of subjects, but in exhaustive and loving detail. Only this one has PICTURES, lots and lots of PRETTY pictures, and even charts and patterns, though they're almost an afterthought. Anything you wanted to know about the knitting of lace in Victorian England is in here, as far as I can tell.

This is now quite long enough, so I'll save the progress reports and pictures for tomorrow.

PS: Revenge is oh, so very sweet! Go Sooners! Oklahoma 44, Miami 13. PHFFFFTH!

Thursday, September 6

Goin' Mo-bile

This afternoon I went to the grocery store and bought bread and cereal. I went all by myself. I know, Big F****** Deal, I can hear you thinking. Well, it IS a big deal, because... I once again have a POWERCHAIR!

The lack thereof was really beginning to wear on me, making me more than somewhat depressed, which is why there has been no blogging. Until you've been there, you have no idea what being dependent on someone else, particularly when that someone else isn't too terribly enthusiastic about giving up what little free time he has in order to fetch and carry for Mom, does to a previously independent spirit. I have been trapped in the house for most of the past month, and am/was going stir-crazy.

This chair, however, is not the chair I've had for the past four years. That one has died - or at least its extremely expensive control "computer" chips have done, or that's what the repair guy thinks is maybe going on. He spent almost three weeks trying to figure it out, and finally confessed that it was beyond him. He felt so bad about it that he's selling me a new (to me, anyway, it's actually used) chair for a ridiculously low price, and he's taking it in small payments with no interest.

I am FREE! Cue the Who in the background...

On the needlework front - I have finished the first half of the symmetrical version of MS3, and am on row 91 of the second iteration of the first four clues. When I finish the second, it gets married to the first with a vertical panel of the doubled border. I will also knit a second one, with the symmetrical wings, which are utterly beautiful, but just can't be joined well with the abstract geometry of the rest of the stole.

I am also eagerly awaiting the delivery of the Tupelo Gold yarn and the pattern for Anne Hansen's "Bee Fields" stole. This is a yummy design, and the yarn is gorgeous. We're doing an informal Knit-Along for this one, on The Lacey Shawl group at Yahoo, and I'm already behind, as it started Monday and I'm still waiting for the yarn and pattern. Not the Other Anne's fault, as I couldn't pay for it until last Friday.

I'm also awaiting the arrival of a serious quantity of a yarn from Jennifer which we have dubbed the "Arterial Blood" yarn, as that is the color we were aiming for. This is for a Secret Project, about which you will learn more in due course.

I've also started the first couple of rows of a band sampler, and am currently working a band of something called "2-sided Italian stitch" which is both extremely boring and somewhat mis-named, as it actually has three stitched sides. There are two bands of this, one over 4 threads and one over 2. The over-4 band is first on the chart, and I just might somehow overlook the second band, I'm already so bored with this stitch, and I'm only about a quarter finished with the first band.

I've gotten more done on the Hardanger piece, as well - but haven't worked on it a great deal as the MS3 stole has been in the forefront.

Tomorrow, with a little bit of luck, there will be pictures.

Thursday, August 23

True Confessions

First off, I was looking at old posts, and realized that I've not posted ANY pictures of MS3 since Clue 1! I am sorry - and herewith rectify the situation: instead of a grey blob, which is what I look at every day, I slipped it onto some 14" needles, so I could spread it out; pinned it, after a fashion; and took some lousy pictures. This first one shows the full length of the fabric, though the farther end is hiding in the shadows. You can at least see there is one. The white dots are the pearls.

This second picture is a closer view of the middle, between the two chevrons:

And lastly, the topmost section, the cats' paws/hexagons/daisies, as various knitters of the stole have called them

Now, about those confessions:

Some background.... Firstly, I am a contrarian. It's not something I'm particularly either proud or ashamed of, it just *is*, rather like having green eyes. If 99% of the world likes A, I'm sure to prefer B. Secondly, I am an American/English/"throw" knitter.

So, the knitters of the no-longer-mystery stole are virtually unanimous in hating/being bored to tears with, the 2.5 charts worth of the cats' paws. (what you see in the picture is approximately 1/4 of the total length of them, as the chart is written, before lengthening the stole, about which I am still undecided) I, on the other hand, am enjoying them immensely! There's just enough to them to keep me mentally alert, without requiring the rigid attention to detail that the more complex areas of the design have required. I can knit AND watch football/golf/tennis, without slighting either.

Judging by the various discussion groups and assorted blogs, most knitters seem to hate purling, and find it more difficult than knitting. Not me! The working needle just rocks back and forth when purling, spitting out new stitches like clockwork, instead of having to interrupt the smooth motion in order to stick the needle into the stitch from the left side required in knitting. On the other hand, the reason I am a "throw" knitter rather than a European/Continental/"scoop" knitter is that I cannot, for the life of me, overcome the awkwardness of the purl stitch! I know people do it, but I'm not one of them, alas.

I have abandoned, to all intents and purposes, the cable-patterned Grape Heather socks, at least for the time being. I need to frog them back to the toe, because it occurred to me that given the way my feet swell, the last thing I need is bulky patterning on my instep! I will eventually finish them, using the cable pattern only on the leg.

Instead, I have been swatching some FlockSock yarn in the "orange sherbet" colorway, which looks good enough to eat! This yarn is a lot more fun to knit than the super-sock of the Grape Heather, and it's a lot prettier, as well. It's not much heavier to the eye than the Zephyr, but it's glossy and firmly spun. I should have taken some pictures of the swatching, but, as usual, I forgot. I'm just not used to the insatiable appetite of the blog for visuals! I'll get there, someday.

Saturday, August 18

The Fall National Passtime

As the seasons have once again rolled around to the time when groups of otherwise reasonably sane men spend an inordinate amount of time and effort, not to mention bodily injury, attempting to determine at which end of a meadow an oblate spheroid of leather should rest, I rejoice! I must confess that I actually enjoy the game for its own sake, but the real reason I love the season is that it gives me license to sit in front of the TV, ostensibly watching said games, but in actuality doing needlework, without DS attempting to guilt me for not being June Cleaver, Compleat Housekeeper, he being a feetsball fan himself of Major Proportions. Mind you, he has reason to complain, as I figure that as long as we have clean coffee cups in the morning, my duty is done, and to hell with the dog hair piled in the corners. I do get to it eventually...

Yesterday, I was able to complete the stitching on the second of my designer's models, a more difficult stitch, as there were problems with the chart about which Decisions had to be made. I still need to do the finishing, but it will be ready to go to her on Monday. And forgive me, but...

I'm usually even less given to tooting my own horn than I am to throwing pity parties, but every so often I can't resist. This from my designer, after receiving the first completed model: "I absolutely LOVED your stitching and ... finish. Absolutely beautiful, stunning work." Ego-boo is soooo nice!

Today was a Banner Day, as there was not only football, but a matinee of golf, as well. As a result, I was able to do 30 rows, or 2,970 stitches, of my neglected MS3. That not only recreates everything I had to frog before laying it aside, but another few rows in addition, so I'm ahead of where I was, and a much happier camper! Tomorrow looks to be a repeat. And next week starts the US Open (tennis), which is also great knitting/needlework fodder! Ah, fall!

One of these days, I'll post pictures again, I promise. Right now, I'm either doing things I CAN'T show pictures of (more models from my designer, these in silks!), or they fall into the category of "you've seen one picture of a grey blob, you've seen them all". I really, REALLY wish I was one of these speed demons that can knit an entire sweater in two days, but I'm not.

Monday, August 6

There is no situation so dire that, by dint of application of the least degree of stupidity, it cannot be made infinitely worse.

Which, lengthy as it is, is the title of this post. Let's take it in chronological order, shall we?

About 4 weeks ago, my chair suddenly decided to quit working. I had no idea why, and we took it into the shop for repairs. Shop says $200, give or take a couple. It needs new batteries. So there it sat until last Wednesday, when funds were available. Picked it up, and on Friday, I wended my way to the grocery store, about a mile distant, and a trip I can normally make several times in a day with no problem, and no need to recharge the batteries. About 2/3rds of the way there, the chair started a mild version of the complete non-working that sent it to the shop in the first place. First application of stupidity - I continued on to the store, instead of immediately calling my then-available DS to come and get me. The chair quit working entirely again, in the store, in the middle of the way. I got a very accommodating stock clerk to push me to a wall outlet, thinking that somehow the batteries hadn't been fully charged. After half an hour or so, the chair was working again. I came home, with some problems, but not anything serious. However, I did notice, at the store when the clerk started to push me, when I moved the tab that controls the engagement of the electric brake, making it possible for the chair to free-wheel, that the tab was so hot I could barely touch it. Aha! A symptom! Something in there is overheating, causing it to bind up, effectively stopping the chair in its tracks. Now we come to a major application of that same stupidity. On Saturday, I realized that I didn't have the 5 lb. bag of sugar in the pantry that I thought was there, and therefore a run for sugar for my coffee was vital! Half a block away from the little corner store that's only 5.5 longish blocks away, on the way back, the chair totally locked up. OK, it's a pleasant, if warm, afternoon. I'll just wait for it to cool down, and be on my way. Wrong. With sundown rapidly approaching, I was getting somewhat desperate, as DS was at work, and couldn't possibly get away. The man in front of whose house I was sitting, with whom I'm dimly acquainted, offered assistance. So I left the chair at his house, and he brought me home. The chair goes back to the shop tomorrow. MORE money I don't have.

I sat down Sunday evening with MS3, with the results posted previously. This morning I picked up MS3 again, and knit away happily. No problem, I thought... wrong again. I had finished a row, and was admiring the thing, as I am wont to do, and saw something that looked a bit odd, two rows back from where I was. Seems I had forgotten to do a yo. Knew there had to be something else as well, as the stitch count at the end of the row was correct. There was, a missed decrease, of course, but not at the same spot! I tried laddering down to the yo, which was the first one, and screwed it up royally. Frog. After getting all the stitches back on the needle, I was missing 5! I didn't want to screw with it for another 4.5 hours, so decided to frog all the way back to the lifeline.

Enter the stupidity factor. After setting the lifeline at the end of row 200, and Clue 3, I somehow forgot to do the next one, which I've been doing at the end of the WS row just before the edge beading row - every eight rows, in other words. I was going along so well, though, that I didn't bother with the next TWO either. So from row 227, where I noticed the error, I'm now back to row 201. There is a tiny mote of light in this tunnel, though, as the part from the previous post with which I wasn't happy is history in the frogging.

It is time to put aside the knitting for a couple of days at least.

I'm also having a recurrence of a health problem with which I shan't bore you, and is merely bothersome, as opposed to incapacitating in some way. I wish I could just put my entire life on hold until the planets realign more favorably, or the gods relent, or whatever it takes to get things back on an even keel. Since this isn't possible, I shall retreat into reading, and maybe even get some housework done. Maybe...

At least I've got the sugar to make lemonade from all these lemons.

Some Days You Get the Bear

and some days the bear takes it 6-0, 6-0. Today (yesterday, actually - I just realized it's after midnight) was one of the latter, regrettably. I was working on MS3, of course. I sat down with it, and ticked off 14 rows (7 RS, 7 WS) with nary a problem, smooth as glass, so I was feeling pretty good about things. Then I hit row 219. You'd think a row this simple wouldn't be any sort of problem, wouldn't you? I mean, you have this mindless edge, k1, bead 1, yo, skpsso. How could you screw that up? Then you have 16 measely stitches of the border - maybe a little more complex, but still! Then it's all decrease/yo combos separated by three knits across to the other border and edge. I spent FOUR AND ONE HALF HOURS on this stupid thing! First, I came to the end of the row and only had 98 stitches. No biggie, I dropped a yo, right? Pick it up on the WS as I go. It's a piece of cake. Nope... I tinked, I knitted, I tinked some more, I laddered, I knit, I tinked, over and over and over and over again! I had as few as 97, and as many as 103 stitches at one point or another. You think it's maddening reading about it - you should have been doing it! Or rather, you should be really glad you weren't. I'm still not real happy with the edge - but I've got all the elements in the right places now, even if it doesn't look like it, and I'm hoping that blocking will improve things. I'll try and remember to post a pic of this area tomorrow. I'm too dispirited tonight to mess with it.

All in all, with yesterday's happenings, it hasn't been much of a weekend. But that can wait for a better frame of mind.

Friday, August 3

I just HAD to share this with y'all - I just now happened to stumble across it.

Thursday, August 2

A Minor Achievement

I have reached a milestone, of sorts, on MS3. I just finished the row, #210 in Clue 4, that completes the second chevron, and am now ready to embark on the acres and acres of cat's paw or daisies or hexagons or whatever you want to call them. This means I'm only 90 rows behind where I should be for the release of Clue #5 tomorrow morning! In truth, I'm far in advance of where I really expected to be at this point in time, so I feel a certain giddiness. I begin to believe that I will actually finish this thing in a reasonably timely manner! Whee!

I was going to post (and in fact wrote most of) a major rant having to do with the lack of Congressional action regarding the deplorable state of the Federal Highway system, as demonstrated by the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, but lost heart. I mean, what's the point? So you're spared - at least this time. I'll just say that, while my heart goes out to those who have injured and lost loved ones, anybody who is surprised that this occurred hasn't been paying attention.

Wednesday, August 1

It's a New Month!

Crazy Aunt Purl has posted some heartfelt thoughts on life, here, that are so worth reading, I had to share them with you. I have been there, and, to a certain extent, am still there, and her post is/has been a real kick in the keister. So I wish us both luck! To quote an old T-shirt, "Patience, hell! I'm gonna go kill something!" (said by one vulture to another).

One more day and a wakeup, and I will once again be mobile! I will get my chair back once again from the shop. It's been three weeks, mostly because funds to pay for the repairs have not been available, but as of Friday, they will be! It means no "goodie" shopping (except for some special yarn I have commissioned from the Yarn Fairy and some cross-stitch patterns I've been saying "someday" about for a while, and are being discontinued forever [would link, but even the link is gone. Pam {and also} is holding them for me, bless her!]), and a lot of less than usual quality dining, but it can be done, and will be. ANYTHING, to get away from this house, and get some vital business done! AND, DS made noises, when we took the chair to the shop, about "It's about time you got a new one, isn't it? Maybe Christmas..." so I've got my fingers crossed, big time!

On the needlework front:

One of the models I've been stitching is done, completed, finished, and sent to the designer! Work proceeds apace on the other.

Got a bit done on the Hardanger, but not enough to be worth another picture.

Finished Clue #3 of MS3 yesterday morning, and started on Clue #4. At least until Friday, I will be working on the current clue, but then I fall behind again...sigh. It's going to be soooo beautiful, though! I'm too tired to mess with trying to take a decent picture of progress, sorry.

The Lacey Shawl is taking up less time than it was, but still keeps me busier than I would like. I fear we are in no small way responsible for the shock Anne and Anne are in, as the members of the group have fallen in love with the Bee Fields shawl and stole, and have been ordering and ordering and ordering! The KAL on BF will start in September. This right after Triinu Andreassen was swamped with e-mails and requests for info from the group. She's been pumping out and mailing copy after copy after copy of her design, and the KAL on that will get underway about the same time MS3 is ending.

I find myself wondering if this is some sort of trend. After the HUGE stampede to join MS3, and then Triinu's shawl, the reprint of the Icelandic Shawl in Knitting Daily, and now Bee Fields, it seems to be some sort of pattern. I hope this augers well for Kitri (the Shawl), when it finally gets released!

Friday, July 20

A New War to Fight

Since I have gone rather berserk on this knitting thing of late (I'm presently on row 185, Clue 3 of the MS3, with Clue 4 released this morning, sigh...), I have noticed a huge new problem in my life, one that requires action both swift and thorough. There is a need to commit warfare, in fact. The enemy is insidious - having been around, if not particularly noticeable, throughout my long span living in Florida, approaching 30 years now, but has now revealed his true colors. He comes in many sizes, from teeny things less than a quarter-inch long, up to huge, the size of hummingbirds! The latter, thank heaven, stay outdoors! By now, if you're any sort of fiber junkie at all, you know that I'm talking about ...






Hitherto, they have not been of any great concern, another part of life as she is lived in the Sunshine State, where a BBQ Christmas dinner on the patio is not uncommon, and bugs of every possible description abound. They were most bothersome as they clustered about the lights beside the outer doors, as they are wont to do, and one must wend through a cloud of them to get into and out of the house after dark. There is also a frequent progress of fur babies through these same portals. "Bug" lights are of no use, so moths in the house are commonplace, if annoying in front of the TV and flying around light fixtures. When one is sufficiently annoyed, one swats, and that's that.

Now, however, there has become Stash - small as yet, granted, but certain to grow, as there is more on order, and more on the list behind that, ad infinitum. And I have become *aware* of moths in an entirely new way. Moths and wool do NOT mix, not no how, not no way! All the wool presently resides in zip-lock bags, inside a drawer inside a chiffarobe, where moths don't seem to congregate. The one "working" bag, the one containing the MS3 stole, is opened frequently, as unless I'm actively knitting, the stole goes into the bag, for protection against 6 cats, spilled beverages, and fallout from meteorites crashing into the street in front of the house. And, of course, the moths. This bag also contains, besides the stole, the charts, the row counter, the ball of perle cotton for lifelines, and the container of pearls, a large-ish loosely woven bag, filled with fresh-dried French lavender. I am told that lavender, among other herbs, repels moths, or, more accurately, causes the wool to fail to attract them, since the moths track on scents emitted by the wool (and you thought "wool fumes" was a joke!), and the lavender covers them up. Even if it doesn't, it smells pretty.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Happy Man On the Moon day, y'all!

Wednesday, July 11

Water Under the Bridge

Oh, my! have I been remiss in my blogging! I do apologise, and offer the following lengthy post, divided into segments, as atonement.

July 2/3

This is Chart A of Clue I of the Mystery Stole 3 completed. The sharper-eyed among you may have noticed that it's on a different needle than the previous pic. I had bought a brand-new pair of 14" Inox #4s for this project, eagerly awaited their arrival in the mail, and cast on with them immediately. By the time I got to the point of where the previous picture of progress was taken, I had fallen completely in hatred. They were horrible! They were sticky and unpredictably grabby, and I was constantly wrestling with the stitches. A very nice lady on the KnitList was destashing, and offered a bunch of old needles for sale for a reasonable price, so I bought them. Among them was a pair of 10" Brittany birch #4s, to which I immediately switched the stole. Wow! The Brittanys are smooth, yet grippy, and bent in exactly the same places my own hands would bend them. I like them as much as I hate the Inox. The stole is proceeding much more easily now.

July 4

Of all the words written regarding 'the nation's birthday' this year, I found the Tsarina's celebration of her grandfather's birthday to be the most meaningful. Russia is a poorer nation today because so many people like her family left there. The USA is a far richer nation because so many of them, and so many like them from everywhere in the world, chose to come here. Happy Birthday to the melting pot!

July 5

Here is Chart A of the stole completed, once again. It doesn't look much different from the previous picture, does it? It is, though. In fact, it's a completely different piece of fabric! What happened was, a cat decided the knitting was an extremely dangerous and fierce dragon. In the process of bravely attacking and killing this threat to domestic harmony, the knitting was destroyed past any hope of salvage. That'll teach me not to Put Things Away. In a way, I'm rather more pleased than not. I never did like the way the bottom point looked on version the first, and I fought it and fought it and fought it, every stitch of the way. Version the second has been much better behaved, and knitted up about three times faster than the first. I actually got ALL of this done in one (rather lengthy, I admit) sitting! Don't the pearls look pretty? They probably are too large, but I don't care. I like them!

July 6-10

I've done it to myself again. I follow links in blog posts. I find out all sorts of fascinating things that way, and end up in some strange places, when the links have links and so ad infinitum. (The 'net is quite possibly the greatest invention since the printing press, IMHO.) In this particular case, I saw a picture, and fell madly in love with the subject. I posted on both the KnitList and the MS3 list (which grew from just over 4,000 to 6,910 people after the Harlot blogged about it! USA Today interviewed Melanie yesterday.) trying to find more information about it. No immediate answers, but a LOT of people expressed interest in knowing the answers when I got them. The result is I am now a List Mom! The picture on the home page is the one that started it all. As of this morning, 384 people seem to share my passion. I wish this blog had as many readers!

July 11

And this brings us up to date. In between e-mails, and ListMom chores, I have been knitting, and Clue 1, all 100 rows of it, is finished! Here it is:

It's only finger-patted into shape, of course, and will look much, much better when blocked out properly. I took this photo at 2:30 this morning. I somehow believe that I will end up adding the "slow bee" button to the blog, though. I'm still way behind, unless I can complete all 50 rows of Clue 2 before Friday morning, when Clue 3 is released, anyway. Care to estimate the odds of that actually happening?

Tuesday, July 3

God, I feel old tonight.

Back when I was a young teenager, I had two idols, one of whom was Bubbles. I was even introduced to Bubbles once, which impressed me enormously, then and now. Today, my world, and yours, is a worse place, because today Bubbles died.

Rest in joy, Beverly Sills, as you lived.

Saturday, June 30

Day One of the Shawl

1200 D1
Originally uploaded by lynnegh.

This is actually from yesterday, as I couldn't take a picture until this morning, but this is how far I got before becoming so tired that I was spending much more time tinking and frogging than I was knitting. For some reason, I just could *not* get past row 23! At one point, I had to rip it back to row 15 to catch a group of running dropped stitches - so the top few rows have been knitted at least six times. Sigh...

I do really, really like the way it's looking, though, even just spread out on the needle. The pearls are soooo yummy with this yarn!

Friday, June 29

This is a swatch for my newest project, the Mystery Stole 3. The yarn is Jaggerspun Zephyr laceweight, the color is pewter, and the beads are 4mm pearls. Melanie's supplies list calls for #8 seed beads, which are 3mm, so I was a bit concerned about how these 4mm would work in the pattern. My fears are allayed, however, as Clue #1 was published early this morning, and the larger beads will, I think, be fine.

This is my first experience with laceweight yarn, and I approached it with a certain degree of trepidation, given that it looks so delicate, and my involuntary twitches tend to be hard on things delicate. However, this yarn is very sturdy! It's also a joy to the hand, and knits up nicely.

The actual stole pattern is nothing at all like this swatch, though. This week's clue is for the first 99 rows, but it's not as onerus as that number would lead you to believe. The shape is triangular. The starting cast-on is only two stitches, and the work doesn't actually achieve the full width of the stole until the 97th row.

When my needles arrive (I hope this afternoon!), I'll start on the pattern, and do a pin-out and picture for y'all when I've got those first 99 rows done. Depending on how fast I get it done, I may well entertain you with pictures of ever larger grey blob.

Monday, June 25

Your Immediate Attention, Please!

CNN is having a poll regarding leisure activities - it's rank your top ten, and one of the possibilities is knitting. You know what to do with this -

so why are you hanging around here?

Friday, June 22

An Almost Total Eclipse of the Mind-Body Connection

As one ages, one's body is less and less inclined to go along with whatever wild-hair notions the mind comes up with, and add a double-barrelled infirmity on top of it, and one becomes a sloth, for all practical purposes. I am in that condition, at least for the moment, until the infirmity decides it's done doing its thing for the moment, which will happen, sooner or later. In the meantime, I suck down such nostrums as the medical community seems to think will be of assistance, and wait for better days. It's not nearly as bad as the siege of two years ago, when I was reduced to eating with a plastic spoon, as anything more substantial brought with it the probability of doing major physical damage to myself and my surroundings. There has been, in the past few days, some pretty "odd" stitching, though, let me tell you! Fortunately, though, nothing that couldn't be fixed occurred.

Since needlework has been curtailed, I've been reading blogs like mad, and also the incredible amounts of mail that the Mystery Stole 3 (see the button? It's still open for new members until July 6th. There are close to 3,000 of us now!) has been generating. I'm really looking forward to this project, as it reduces the number of sharp pointy ends to only two, and the yarn, while gossamer, is also quite sturdy. (I'm using Jaggerspun Zephyr lace-weight, which is 50/50 merino wool and silk - no picture yet, as the yarn hasn't yet graced my mailbox, though it's on the way.)

I'm in the process of doing the finishing on one of the models I'm stitching. It's going slowly because I want it to look really great, which means I have to work very methodically. Perhaps I will soon be able to post a picture.

Progress on the sock has been minimal, as six skinny sticks with a total of 12 sharp pointy ends are just a bit more than I can deal with at the moment.

Here is the progress on the Hardanger for Day 4. I know it's been many more days than one since the last picture, but this work was actually advanced just this much from Day 3 in one day. I've been hoarding the picture. Clicking it will take you to a much better version of it.

And this last bit is for Knit Tech, with lagniappe. The blue in the middle is the silk I mentioned in the "ribbons" post - though the richness of the fabric just won't photograph worth a darn (or at least I can't do it - I'm still learning this camera). The green, likewise; it's another piece of silk I found as an unbelievable bargain. Both are darker and much more intense in color than in the pic. The brocade (and doesn't it go well with the blue silk?) is actually, gasp, polyester, but it still looks and feels goooood. Oddly, it's actually a bit lighter in color, and how this could be in the same photograph, I have no idea.

Sunday, June 17

What I Did Today

Lewis Hamilton rocks!

The tifosi may well sacrifice me on a quasi-altar to St. Enzo in Maranello, but I think that he may well exceed Schumi's incredible career before he's done with it all. Sir Stirling and Sir Jackie would seem to agree with me.

So what I did today was watch it all happen.

Thursday, June 14

As Promised

First up is Day 3's progress on the Hardanger SAL - it's coming together quite nicely!

And now, the promised silk ribbons!

This is seven of the ten, the other three being duplicates of the present colors, but in the 4mm width, instead of the 7mm. For scale, the greenish in the lower left is 4mm, all the others are 7mm. The color names are "Victorian Rose", "Cinnabar Crimson", "Daffodil", "Spring Green", "Bronze Green", "Tiffany Blue", and "Victorian Lilac". And your eyes are not playing tricks on you - all of these colors are variegated, some to a greater degree than others, and are even more beautiful in RL than they are in this pic. They also feel soooo good! Soft and slinky and smoooooth. Just yummy! You *are* going to see these again.
In the same shipment came a small chunk of fabric - royal blue silk, seriously slubbed, and to die for! Crazy quilting material, for sure.
Have I mentioned that I have this seriously lustful thing for silk? I think it must harken back to my childhood, when I had a really seriously bad, as in major second degree, sunburn. Even 600 threads to the inch pima cotton percale was just too scratchy to be borne. My mother, in a rare fit of maternal sacrifice, gave up a beautiful 2 yard length of 45" wide lightweight silk to be a sheet for me, so I could sleep. I have loved silk ever since. If I ever become largely rich, all my sheets will be silk.

Wednesday, June 13

Things Creep Along

First, today's progress on the Hardanger project:

I'm quite pleased with the way this is going. It's a bit larger scale (25-ct fabric and perle #5) than I would eventually like to work, but it's still going to be an attractive piece, I think.
Second, and you knew you couldn't avoid it, is progress on The Sock. I think I've got a solution of sorts on the increases, o happy day! It's not perfect, by any means, but I can live with it.

And finally, I'm possibly speaking too soon, but it looks like our normal monsoon rainy season just might be setting in! Under "normal" conditions, the rain comes every afternoon around 4 PM. It'll rain about an inch, then clear off again, leaving the air cool and clean smelling for the evening.
The past three days, however, it has rained just around noon-time, leaving the afternoon steamy. However, steam is greatly preferred to dust. We need every drop of rain we can possibly get, regardless!
Eye candy tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 12

Change of Pace

So far, it seems about all I've talked about is knitting and weather. I thought it was about time to change the subject a bit, at least for a moment.

Vera Stoll is a very nice German lady who designs Hardanger embroidery, and will be starting a web-site to teach it (in German and English, I think) this Fall. In May and June, she has had designs published in "The Gift of Stitching" e-zine, and last week started a group on Yahoo to do a stitch-along/class using those two designs, plus a third freebie she's made available to the group. I'm sure she'd welcome anyone, subscriber to the magazine or not, to the group.

All this background is to introduce today's photo, which is the start of my piece. I have done Hardanger before, but I am completely self-taught, and the opportunity to have my work critiqued by a pro, for FREE, is too much to resist! There's a picture of the finished design on the front page of the Yahoo group - it's the one on the lower right.

Tomorrow you can have a sock update. It hasn't advanced appreciably, but that's because I've been spending all my time at the frog pond. It's a bit further along than it was the last time you saw it, but it's been frogged twice since then, and re-knit.

I found out today that I'll be receiving a few skeins of hand-dyed silk ribbons for embroidery, probably this Thursday, so there's eye candy to look forward to!

Sunday, June 10

Herding Cats

(with thanks to the Tsarina for the title)

Saturday, June 9

I've not been doing well with this blogging business, have I? I'll try and do better, promise. Part of the reason is that I haven't had anything to talk about, and, unlike some bloggers, I don't have anything waiting in the wings. I should start putting some together, perhaps...

Today, however, a rare concatenation of circumstance (I had some money, and the use of a car) led me to the Jo-ann's Superstore that I've been wanting to visit ever since it opened three years ago. I scouted the web-site first, and found several things I wanted, so was full of anticipation when I arrived.

I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was.

There were aisles and aisles of silk flower arranging stuff, and mostly "cutesy" yard and garden "decor" stuff; a few interesting beads in the two aisles of mostly uninteresting and lower end "jewelry" making supplies; a couple of baskets I wouldn't have minded owning if the prices had been a little less unreasonable; a lot of drapery and home decor fabrics I would like to have gotten into; and so forth. The yarn department was, not completely unexpectedly, mostly devoid of anything I would want to knit, but knitting, especially in the summer, is not exactly a prime activity in the south. And so it went. They didn't have the two major things I wanted, of course.

I ended up buying a new pair of Fiskar's, a ball of #5 perle cotton, and two sets of cheap DPNs, #s 1 and 3. Sigh...

Yesterday morning I got up and frogged all the stitching I had done the night before on one of the models I'm doing. I had misplaced a motif by one lousy stitch, and since I used that motif to key off of for the rest of the work I did, it was all off that same one lousy stitch. Ordinarily I would fake it, but this particular item is very geometric, and oh boy did that one stitch off jump out. You'd think I'd have noticed it the night before, when I was doing it! It was a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, I guess. I was fixated on the small area I was working, and not looking at the design as a whole.

I finally bit the bullet on the sock, and frogged it back to the toe. I've got 1 and a half repeats of the pattern re-knit, after revisions to the "design", and will get more done tonight.

This sort of "one step forward, two steps back" has been dogging me all week, and I'm getting tired of it!

Normally, I don't indulge in this sort of thing, but Anne, over at Knitspot, challenged her readers to take this one, and post the results for comparison purposes. The week is still with me, though. Anne is an Index finger. Here's mine:

You Are a Ring Finger

You are romantic, expressive, and hopeful. You see the best in everything.
You are very artistic, and you see the world as your canvas. You are also drawn to the written word.
Inventive and unique, you are often away in your own inner world.

You get along well with: The Pinky

Stay away from: The Index Finger

Saturday, June 2

Part III - 6 PM

Yet another non-event comes to an end, with a whimper. TS Barry is downgraded to TD (Tropical Depression) Barry, and is rapidly becoming extra-tropical. The center is about 5 miles west of me at the moment, and moving north. We're under wind advisories until mid-nite, but it's calm right now, though it is raining.

We did most desperately need the rain, though - we've had less than half of our normal rains for two years in a row now, and the trees are really suffering. Most of this rain has been of the best kind, too, that soaks in instead of becoming instant run-off.

Back to indoor pursuits tomorrow, I hope!

Part II - 4 PM

Not doing so well on this update business, am I? Oh, well. We had a break in the rain bands earlier. Here's a look at 1 PM. There were occasional breezy bits, but not more than 10 mph.

Clouds have since gotten heavier, with a very light rain starting. Wind has picked up pretty smartly, with occasional gusts moving med. sized tree limbs around. Weather radar shows most of the heavy storm activity is to the north of us now - but they've promised we'll get more.

I'd post a pic of the current conditions, except a)that it would look about like the 1 PM pic, only somewhat darker; and b) my camera wants its battery recharged, so it is, and the camera is temporarily down.

TS Barry Part I

It started late yesterday afternoon with increasing cloud cover, and then shortly after sundown, a light mizzle started - too heavy to call fog, but not enough to call it a drizzle. Overnight this became heavier, and this morning could be called "rain".

This issued by the local NWS about 45 mins. ago... abstracted.




Yes, Jacksonville is in the "I-95 corridor". And herewith the "View From My Front Porch" -

No wind to speak of as yet, as you can see by the clarity(?) of the tree-tops.

Friday, June 1

Move Along - Nothing to Read Here

It's been that kind of time, I fear. I have been absent from the blogosphere, have done no knitting, no stitching, have absolutely nothing concrete to present as the product of the past several days' endeavours, and am being harassed by unco-operative electrons 'til I'm ready to scream.

It all started, you see, the morning after I posted the last missive here. I woke up, and stumbled to the computer to check the mail. "Unable to find server" - not cataclysmic, or even uncommon - everyone's servers go down now and again. So I proceeded on with the morning, which involved running a bunch of errands. Imagine my surprise, to come out the side gate from the back to discover that the phone line from the pole to the house is in two pieces! One piece is attached to the house, and the other to the pole, and there's this gap betwixt the two. This might explain why the computer couldn't find the server? I did the assorted errands, and came back to the house. Fortunately, MSTC (My Son, The Chef, who provides the roof under which I reside) took that particular morning off, and was home, so I could borrow his cell phone - mine has fallen victim to having one too many cats dump over a glass of soda into it, and works fine, except that I can't talk and be heard, nor may I hear anyone else talking to me. I am reduced to texting! Gah...

Anyway, I then inaugurated the frustrating process of Dealing With the Phone Company. I called the toll-free number for service (sic) and explained the problem, and was asked if I had a dial tone. I say "No, this phone line is a DSL line for the computer. I do not have a voice land-line." The operator says "Please hold for a moment". Many minutes of elevator music. Then "This is Ms. W____. How may I help you?" So I explain everything again. "Do you have a dial tone?" "No, etc." "Oh, it's DSL! You need to talk to their service" and she gives me another toll-free number. I call and explain the problem yet again. "Do you have a dial tone?" "No, etc. But since the line is cut into two pieces, I wouldn't expect to. Isn't there some way you can check it from your end?" "Please hold." More elevator music. Same person comes back on the line, and explains they really need to know if I have a dial tone, because I don't have a maintenance agreement, and if the problem is in my house wiring, it will cost me $80 just for the service man to come to the house. I tell her that since the cut wire is between the pole and the house, I really don't think that applies. Then the thing which proves conclusively that people do NOT listen - "You mean the phone line is actually cut?" "Yes!!!!" Well, I'll send the service man out, but it would still be helpful to know if you have a dial tone. I said too bad, I have no way of finding out. She then tells me that the service man will arrive the next day, sometime between 7 AM and 9 PM. Futilely I enquire if it would be possible to narrow this down some. "No, sorry..." And so endeth the phone company communication. If I hear the question "Do you have a dial tone?" one more time, my interlocutor is going to find a blunt object of some sort buried in his frontal cortex!

The next morning, I'm sitting at the computer doing not much of anything, when all the electrics go out. I look out the window, see the electric company truck, and realize that once again MSTC has forgotten to pay the *(&^^&%*( electric bill! He informs me that he's going to pay it that morning - and shortly thereafter leaves the house with this intent. I'm wondering if the phone company guy is going to need the electric in order to do his thing, and hoping that the electric guy will arrive to turn everything back on before the phone guy arrives. As it happened, they arrived simultaneously, full of gossip regarding an apparent murder that had taken place down the road about a mile. They both do their thing, and amazingly enough, as soon as the phone wire is reconnected, the DSL is back up. And the service guy never did check to see if I had a dial tone, bless his heart!

Today, as I was returning from doing some shopping, my Rascal scooter suddenly decided to quit running. I texted MSTC, and he was able to get free after an hour to come and rescue me. I'm sure glad I didn't have any dairy or other meltable stuff in the shopping! It was hot and miserable waiting. I am so tired.

I came home, collapsed for a while, then came back to the computer. The clouds were thickening up, so out of curiosity, I checked the weather forecast. Tropical Storm Barry is coming late tonight for the weekend! It's supposed to bring a lot of rain with it, and I surely do hope it does. Might even be enough to put out the ()*&^*( fires, though possibly not, as they're only forecasting 2-3", which normally isn't enough to do the job. They did say that some places might get as much as 6", which probably would do it. Cross your fingers!

Saturday, May 26

Stomping the Grape

I was going to take some time off this weekend from stitching projects, get some housework done, and just generally chill out. Nice thought, I guess. The siren song of the grape yarn lured me away. I was just going to do the toe, you understand - not go any further. I wanted to do it while the success on the Blasted Pink was still fresh in my mind. (Nice excuse, huh?) First go on the toe, it was technically a "success" but esthetically, left a great deal to be desired. Frog.

Second go, I don't know where my mind was, but it surely wasn't anywhere near my knitting needles. I have no idea *how* I did it - I really should figure it out because it would make a world-famous invisible decrease - but three sets of turns away from the finish of the toe, I discovered that I had 'lost' 6 stitches. I searched frantically for dropped stitches, but there weren't any. The Disappeared Ones did so symmetrically, 3 on each side, but totally invisibly - they just vanished into thin air! This did create a really oddly shaped toe, however. Frog.

Then the Tsarina got into a discussion of "lifelines" on her blog, which I had never heard of and had to look up - and it has changed my life forever. What a brilliant concept! I put it into practice on try #3 on the toe, placing the lifeline in the row where I started to go back up the toe from the tip (incrementing the number of live stitches each row). Placing the lifeline must have appeased the frog, because this time it went without a hitch.

Not wanting to leave the Grape in such a precarious situation, I decided to go ahead and knit the first couple of rounds on the whole sock. That went so well, I thought it couldn't hurt anything to just *set* the pattern row, could it?

I didn't want to leave *that* on the needles, either, because it might stretch the yarn permanently, just sitting there with all that tension on those stitches, so I knit out the first repeat of the pattern. Then it looked so lonesome that I had to knit a companion for it, didn't I?

Here's the sock, with the first two repeats of the pattern, and ready to start the nifty "hidden" increases my oddly-shaped foot requires.

The left side:

The right side:

And the top of the sock:

I am pleased. It's not a masterpiece, by any means, but I think it's acceptably journeyman quality, which is definitely progress! I have no idea why the picture of the right side looks so strange. I assure you that the short-row stuff looks even better than the left side in reality.

Wednesday, May 23

Before your eyes, that icon of knitterly propriety, the Swatch.

This one is for the grape heather socks I'm starting. It's telling me that I'm knitting 6.25 st. and 8 rows per inch in stockinette. This is very good, as when I was knitting the Baby Sockie, I was getting 7.5 st. and 9 rows, so I've loosened up quite nicely. However, I'm only knitting the toes, heels, and soles in stockinette, so the Swatch is only of marginal use. I don't really feel like knitting another three swatches to take measurements of the various textures I'm going to be using on the rest of the sock. So, I'm going to use the impirical method to get these socks to fit properly.

This is really a very simple procedure. Every so often, at points where, knowing my feet as I do, I think it's needful, I'm going to try the sock on. If it goes on smoothly, so much the better. If it seems a bit tight, I'll increase a couple of stitches in the next row or two. If it's *really* tight, I'll frog back a ways and start increasing there.

However, the socks are going to be put on hold for a short while, as the mail yesterday brought to me the first two of many models I'm going to be cross-stitching for a designer just getting started in Germany. This is actual *paid* work, people! Sheckles in the travel fund. Not many, alas, but better than none. Therefore, I shall be cross-stitching for the next few days. I can't even post pictures for you, as the designs haven't been published yet. "Secret" projects!

Tuesday, May 22

Sailing, sailing

The Great and Powerful Wizard of Tsocks has spoken, and I have heeded. As a result, I am now happy with the completed short-row toe!

I'm sorry this picture is as blurry-eyed as I am this morning, but as you can, I hope, see, no holes, no weirdness, just nice smooth sock! It was my intention to knit a few more rows, then turn a heel, but two rows of juggling all the stitch holders and small DPNs in order to knit in the round on a pair of SPs was enough. I'm sure I know what I'm doing now, and see no point in repeating it.

So what was the magic solution? Very simple - instead of worrying about that last wrapped and slipped stitch at the other end of the WS row, go ahead and pick up the stitches for the top of the sock from the provisional cast-on, knit across them, and work that last stitch on the WS row as a knit stitch now, then continue on knitting across the stitches for the sole of the sock. Simple, obvious, once it's pointed out - and a lesson in not overly complicating things!

So instead of juggling stitch holders, I started swatching for the first "real" sock! Memo to self - do *not* fall asleep whilst knitting on DPNs: the face making contact with the sharp pointy ends of all those things is not a pleasant way to reawaken! I'm swatching again, even though this sock is knit in the same yarn as the Baby Sockie, just a different color (Grape heather), because my tension has, I think, changed considerably. As the Great and Powerful etc. pointed out to me earlier, I was knitting very tightly, and I didn't realize *how* tightly until I did the ribbing on the Baby Sockie. I loosened it up considerably, so need to re-swatch.

I will be posting progress reports on the sock, but not in nearly the detail as this angst over the short-row technique. I'm going to try to establish some sort of schedule, so knitting posts will be one day, embellished crazy quilting another, cross-stitch a third, and so forth. (Is that laughter I hear from up there in the peanut gallery?)

Be of good heart - it's Tuesday, and you survived yesterday!

Monday, May 21

Knitting Onward with Determination

We left our plucky girl knitter at the end of the last slip, wrap, slip, and turn - ready to start knitting the 14 live stitches. In the first picture, that's exactly what's been done, and now we're ready to pick up that first wrapped stitch and knit it.

And here, in picture 2, it is done, and ready to slip, wrap, slip, on the next stitch, then turn the work.

Here in pic#3, that has been done. You can see the working yarn coming out from between the first two stitches on the RN, being held down vertically.

Repeat 12 times, bringing us to pic #4, the end of the last RS row, with one wrapped stitch still remaining at the beginning of this row, and with the two rows from the "set-up" just hanging there in mid-air. This, I suspect, is close to the root of my problem. Up to this point, I think I have done it right.

Sunday, May 20

I am Determined

I refuse to be defeated by this short-row toe and heel business. If I can teach myself how to knit Aran cables and intarsia, this simply cannot be too difficult to be accomplished. Can it???

I have to confess right now that the picture of the Baby Sockie is of the good side, where the mistakes aren't really too obvious. You don't want to see the other side, if it still existed, which it doesn't. At any rate, it seems clear to me that I am behind the learning curve on this arcane art. So, I'm going to let the whole wide world, or such small portion of it as has discovered this blog, teach me! Clever, yes?

What I have done is a crochet provisional cast on of 28 stitches, using Caron Simply Soft and US#10 SP needles, so everything should be real easy to see, provided I can take a half-way decent picture that is. At the end of this section, there will be a short interval until I can find and buy a set of #10 DPNs (unless I get REALLY stupid, and slip stitches on and off smaller DPNs so that I'd end up knitting each 7 stitch section from and onto the SPs. I may get that desperate, but I hope not!)

The first picture is of that cast-on, then, switching to the "real" yarn, k 1 row, turn, and p 1 row. Simple enough, and I'm confident that there are no errors as yet.

Picture the second is of that same swatch, 14 rows later, with 7 stitches wrapped and slipped on each end, and 14 live stitches in the middle.

This is the left-hand side of the swatch, with the 7 wrapped and slipped stitches, plus some of the live ones.

This is the right-hand side of the swatch, with the seven wrapped and slipped stitches on the right needle, and ready to start picking up the slipped stitches again.

Again, I am reasonably confident that I am still on the right track, with no errors. Now it's time to start picking up the wrapped stitches and knitting them back into the work. That's the next post.