28 December 2008

Sand Stitch Mania

Dear Mandella,

I think I may have choked the Blogger on my photos. At any rate, I am at last posting photos of some of my knitting (none of it completed), and even this isn't everything.

In no particular order . . .
A pair of socks started from a skein of Louet Gems superwash sport weight. This is splatter dyed (by me) in a number of my favorite colors. I'm knitting these (on US 1.0) in a variation on my favorite waffle stitch over 64 sts:

Rnds 1 - 3: Knit all sts
Rnds 4 - 6: *K2, P2* all around
Rnds 7 - 9: Knit all sts
Rnds 10 - 12: *P2, K2" all around

It offsets the waffle so that you get a kind of honeycomb effect. At least, that's what it looks like until it's worn. After that, who knows? Anyway, this is just the start of a pair of socks.
Didn't I once mention that my friend Lorna had given me one of the KnitPicks sock blanks? Well, here it is, all dyed, and I've started knitting my first ever toe-up socks, 2 at a time. The pattern is a zig-zag lace from one of Charlotte Schurch's sock books. I'm getting 9 sts to the inch on US 1.0 needles, so I cast on 72.

The linen/garter scarf has made some progress. This is a 2-color scarf knit back and forth on US 9 (I'm using a short circular to accomplish this) with Manos del Uruguay wool/silk blend yarn on the following pattern (multiple of 2 sts):

Row 1 (solid color): *K1, sl 1 with yarn in front* repeat to the end. Turn work.
Row 2 (solid color): Purl all sts. Turn work.
Row 3 (coordinating variegated color): repeat row 1, turn work
Row 4 (coordinating variegated color): Knit all sts. Turn work.

Each side has a unique look, so I don't consider it to have a right or a wrong side. And the yarn not in use is carried on one side (it's just 2 rows).

And here we come to one of the larger projects. This short-sleeved pullover has been started and frogged several times. I started it around the time I attended the Melissa Leapman workshops this past October. As you can see, I'm utilizing one of her simpler cable patterns (but I'm still varying it to my tastes). This is being knit back and forth on US 4.0 needles (I'm using a long circular) with Louet Gems washable merino in sport weight. I dyed the yarn a deep red color. Here's a better photo of my progress on the back:

I'm getting about 6 sts to the inch. For the back I've cast on 145 sts. The first and last 18 sts are worked in plain stockinette stitch (I worked a 2 x 2 rib to start). Then, working toward the center, is this simple cable motif offset by some columns of knits and purls. At last we have the center 49 sts which on the front will be worked in an elaborate cable motif (also from one of Leapman's books). On the back I am working it in sand stitch, which is my latest passion.

Here is the sand stitch pattern (multiple of 4 sts):
Rows 1 and 3 (RS): Knit
Row 2 (WS): *K1, P1* to the end
Row 4: *P1, K1* to the end

Of course, you can vary that as follows:
Row 1 (RS): *K1, P1* to the end
Rows 2 and 4 (WS): Purl all sts
Row 3: *P1, K1* to the end

Either way, you get a nice texture. In fact, either side is acceptable. I happen to like the side that's mainly knit stitches. Anyway, I discovered this stitch in an old book that catalogs various craft stitches (knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery -- you get the idea). I think it's also called a double moss stitch, but I've also seen double moss stitch worked as something else.

At any rate, I've incorporated that stitch into a few other things:

The bright fuschia (sp?) section of this pullover-in-progress (I'm using up lots of odd balls of Cascade 220) is in sand stitch. (The dark blue section is in the linen/garter stitch, but that's another story -- I'm using a different stitch pattern with each band of color).

And here it is worked onto the back of a glove (the first of a pair) I knit for my husband, Ed, also in Cascade 220, but the washable version, on US 3.0 dpns. Yes, I have pattern notes; no I'm not printing it yet. I have to get the second one done. And then I have to do it again because I've got gargantuan fingers on this thing (all except for the little finger, which seems to be just right).

Not pictured is a coordinating scarf (also from Cascade 220 superwash) that utilizes both the sand stitch and the seed or moss stitch. I call it the Moss and Sand scarf. I'll post that pattern as soon as I have a photo of the scarf. And that scarf is actually finished (hooray!).

Also finished but not pictured is a hat that coordinates with the the aforementioned scarf and the above glove, also from Cascade 220 superwash, and worked on a US 3.0 circular. I really like the density of the fabric that I get in working Cascade worsted on US 3.0 or 4.0 needles.

Added to the above is a hat in progress with more Louet Gems sportweight (in a space-dye that I'm not crazy about but c'est la guerre). I'm knitting that on a US 2 circular and using the heel stitch pattern for 2 reasons: it's thicker, and it goes faster with slipping those stitches!

Oh, and I have another hat in progress that is with 2 strands of a sock yarn held together. It's a very nice yarn, Jojoland or something like that. Anyway, 2 strands of it knits up quite nicely on a US 3.0 needle. That hat is about halfway done but it's at my LYS as a demonstration of what can be done with that yarn.

None of the above includes, of course, a number of other works in progress. Seriously. Just wait until you see my To-Finish list for 2009!

Hugs and happy crafting!


27 December 2008

Very Square

Dear Mandella,

I was going to post this with the photos in the previous post, but I was having a few problems with Blogger. Ed gave me this as a small, fun gift. It's plastic (unlike the really expensive ones you can get that are gold plated). It was a sweet thought. He knows how crazy busy I am.

Today I went over to my mom's. I sorted out a bunch of fabric over there (most of it for quilts). I had scraps kind of all over, so everything got grouped together. Then I sewed together 13 little churn dash squares (the final measures about 5.25" square) that I had started some time ago. I also finished up 12 large squares from a Thimbleberries pattern (last ones illustrated below). Sorry, but I didn't have my camera with me or else I'd be posting photos of them.

The churn dash squares (left) will make a small quilt, probably baby size. The larger squares are for a larger blanket (obviously). Oh, and I have my "Jane Austen" quilt back from the quilter. I have to put a binding on that.

In addition to those just mentioned, I have the puzzle quilt that I've posted images of already (I don't know if that pattern has a name, but that's what I call it.) that needs sashing between the squares. The sashing is a deep, deep red. I'll use gold squares in between as shown.

And then I have 12 large (16.5") squares from another Thimbleberries pattern called My Stars. That will make at least a full-size quilt.

This is how I imagine I will finish it, with little stars in between the blocks. At least, that's what the pattern calls for. I've already started the stars on the sashing. I don't remember which colors went with what, though. Oh, well....

And then there is this one, also from my Thimbleberries book. I don't remember what it's called. If you look at it you can see that it's a variation on a 9-patch.

And this is a vague vision I have of how it all will fit together. The center squares are actually a print that utilizes the gold, brown, blue, and teal. I don't know. Somehow it all will work out.

26 December 2008

Time Turner Needed

Dear Mandella,

A whole month got past me and I was only marginally aware of it. First it was Chance being ill and needing attention, then it was being burned out each day by The League of Helpless Women I encounter (especially during the holiday retail season), and at last it was my own frenzy to get things done.

As it turned out, I did get a shirt sewed for my brother-in-law Ron, but only after one completely failed attempt and a second attempt, which had only been cut out, went completely missing. I spent the entire Saturday prior to Christmas with my arse in a chair at the sewing machine. That was 9 solid hours of sewing. And Ron loved the shirt. He hasn't tried it on yet, but he loved it.

Now that it is the day after Christmas, I feel very much at loose ends. I have three days before I'm due at the office and I have more to do than (1) I have energy to accomplish and (2) I even have hours in the day.

Here are some photos:

My brother-in-law Ron opening one of the gifts in the
free-for-all gift game.

Marcy (black shirt, in front), Jodie (green shirt), Carla (white shirt),
Colin (red shirt), and Mason (clutching yellow envelope).

From left: Colin, Mason, Joan and Bud

Colin put in a set of small painted plates he'd brought back from Spain.

Our Christmas Tree.

A crocheted star done by my Aunt Helen.

Santa on a mountain bike, a Hallmark ornament I'd gotten for Ed early on
in recognition of his enthusiasm for bicycling.

24 November 2008

Chance and Me

I didn't do the best job on taking the red out of Chance's eyes, but at least he doesn't look like the devil dog in this one.

23 November 2008

The Daily Slog

Dear Mandella,

I think it has been about two weeks since I've been able to get to my home computer and take a look at the blog. Work has increased at both of my jobs. On top of that, Chance had a nasty case of doggie-bronchitis that left me exhausted from vet clinic visits and just cleaning up after the little vomit bombs he'd left all over.

But, that's over now. Chance is a happy and healthy dog (we're still finishing up the course of antibiotics, but he's over the contagious stage) and I'm trying to catch up on everything else.

I did finish something, but I'm trying to remember . . . Oh, yes, the Kimono Wrist Warmers. I'll post photos soon. I made it a free pattern that people will get with purchase of the yarn (Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine) from String of Purls. It's machine washable, which I think is wonderful, and soft as can be.

I've got the top left shoulder together on the Dinan jacket/cardigan that I've been knitting for my friend Jane. The right shoulder is coming along. Just a few more rows on the top right and I can stitch that shoulder. Then it's just the sleeves and the ribbing around the neck and fronts.

I finished up a scarf I'd started some time ago. It is knit with three strands of acrylic yarn on US 13 needles. I used two strands of Caron soft in dark blue and one strand of a Red Heart (or something) in dark blue. The Caron soft has a deepness/richness to the color.

Here's a simple scarf pattern:

Cast on an even number of stitches.

Rows 1 and 2: *K1, P1* repeat to the end
Rows 3 and 4: Knit all sts.

Repeat the four-row pattern until the scarf is about 60" long. Add fringe if you like.

It lays flat, has a nice texture, and works every time no matter how many stitches you cast on. For the above-mentioned scarf, I cast on 22 stitches.

Anyway, I found that scarf at more-than-halfway done, so I finished it on Thursday evening while watching the 2nd half of a Law & Order rerun, a Daily Show/Colbert Report rerun, CSI (original), and Life on Mars (the USA adapted version). I put the fringe on it this morning. Someone will have a nice surprise at the office Christmas party (Dec. 2) when we do that gift-exchange game.

I have since started in on a scarf for the family gift exchange (Dec. 25) from Cascade 220 washable in a lovely colorway that utilizes dark blue, turquoise, and lime green.

Today I finished up the annual Christmas letter, something I usually have done by the end of September. I try to get all of my Christmas cards into the mail by December 1st, especially since I send so many outside of the USA. We'll see how I do this year.

I didn't go over to my mom's house today for sewing -- I was just too exhausted from everything else that has been going on -- but I'll be there all day this coming Thursday, which is our annual Thanksgiving holiday. We'll actually do the Thanksgiving meal on Sunday (a week from today) with all of the family at my mom's, so having a mid-week break for sewing will be a treat. I don't have to work my full-time job on Friday, but I'm scheduled to be at the stationery shop as usual from 2 to 6 in the afternoon. We've gotten very busy as the holiday season has come upon us.

And, as usual, I'm far behind on laundry.

Big hugs!


09 November 2008


Dear Mandella,

Here is the newest addition to our family. We found him on Saturday at the Nebraska Humane Society. He is a black Labrator Retriever, about 2 years old. His name is Grant -- at least that's what the NHS named him and we signed off on it, but we've lately taken to calling him Chance. That's Ed's decision, and this is Ed's dog. Since I like both Ed and the dog, and since I like the name Chance, I'm all for it.

So far I have taught Chance to sit. Yes, he is that smart. Good heavens, I can't even get my husband to sit on command! Unfortunately, I think we gave him too many treats today because he vomited on the carpeting. Well, I think that's better than urinating on the carpeting. And I must add that my husband has never once vomited on the carpeting, which puts him one up over the dog. (In fact, my husband cleaned up the carpeting after the dog vomited on it, which really earns him some Good Husband Points.)

Chance has been acting like he has been with us for ages. He knows where the door is to go out and do his thing (he sat there and barked). He has only chewed on the rope toy we've given him. When I went downstairs this morning to check email he went back to his designated blanket in the bedroom and went to sleep.

The NHS gave us 50% off on the first obediance/behavior class for Chance; it starts on November 23rd. I expect that the class is really to teach adults how to act consistently with a dog, something we've at least had practice with, but techniques have changed from 10 years ago when I was in an obedience class with Charka.

Also today, I finished up a quilt top, a small one I had started some years ago. My mom was looking at the fabric and saying how this one would make her want to quilt again, so we got it all stitched up. I made some miscalculations in the border sashings so I had to piece them, but it was worth it to create something my mom really wanted to work on.

I'm tired and heading for bed. This has been an extraordinarily good weekend. I hope the same for you and Dave.



08 November 2008


Dear Mandella,

Despite feeling still a bit under the weather and despite the weather here having turned quite cold and windy, I went to the wedding ceremony of M & J last night. I didn't wear the dress I'd made for the occasion; instead, I wore camel-colored woolen twill trousers, a cream-colored blouse, my black raw-silk jacket, and a stunning silk scarf (in gold, red, black, and tan) from my mother-in-law's collection. I looked very nice (at least for the one photo that was taken of me with the bridal couple), and I was still warm.

I don't know how to describe M as she processed up the aisle on the arm of her eldest brother-in-law (M's father died 5-6 years ago). The only word that comes to mind (hackneyed as it is) is radiant. It was as if joy had been transformed into light and warmth, something you could see and feel. We all were so happy for her and J that you could just feel it in the air.

And then, when the ceremony was over, it was as if all of that joy were multiplied even more, like a field of flowers that suddenly opened up because they couldn't contain themselves any longer.

The bride was, of course, lovely. She had a white/cream colored dress (not quite either color, really) with a V waist embellished with embroidery and rhinestones. The dress had a modest train. Her chestnut hair was twisted into a simple chignon and decorated with small white flowers. The bridesmaids wore a smoky, dark-blue halter dresses. The gentlemen were in dark tuxes with understated dark green brocade vests (waistcoats) and dark green ties. The bride's mother, whose coloring is very light, wore a light blue dress and the groom's mother wore a tan ensemble that complemented her coloring quite nicely.

The reception was at an historic home about 3 blocks from the church. It's called The Renaissance Mansion, which is a mis-nomer because, of course, it does not date to the Renaissance; however, I believe they use the name in its original French sense of having been re-born from a home into a lovely venue for receptions and meetings. I was in charge of moving the guest book and the two roses (the ones symbolizing the bride's father and the groom's father, both deceased) to the reception site. We took a moment to admire the cake and the surroundings, then went home because I was quite exhausted.

At home, my husband cooked up a lovely warm chai for me as I changed into a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and wool socks. I curled up with my chai and my knitting for the remainder of the evening. This morning I woke feeling refreshed and happy.

Big hugs and much joy to you!


06 November 2008

Sick Again

Dear Mandella,

I'm very sorry about the socks. Was it one skein of hand-dye? Well, at least you can think of them as Dobby socks (you know -- socks that purposefully don't match, a concept described by the house elef Dobby in the 4th Harry Potter book). And they'll still keep your feet warm, right?

Both my husband and I are at home and ailing. There is some sort of bug going around. In me it is manifested as a sinus infection (I get those more than anything). In him we're not sure because he refuses to see his doctor. *rolled eyes*

I have been working on finishing up the 2nd of the hand/wrist warmers I've been knitting up from the Berocco Alpaca/Wool/Nylon yarn (mentioned earlier). I've just held off the thumb stitches and will now finish up the tops of the mittens, but I can't remember how far I went and the first one is at my LYS for show-and-tell. I'll try to snag it back tomorrow. I knew I should have written out the full pattern before surrendering it!

Also on the knitting front, I've made headway on the back of a pullover knit from leftover Cascade 220. I'm getting all sorts of ideas as I knit it, ideas that should be written down as I go except that I've rarely got pen and paper at hand. Who can write when they're knitting, any way?

As for your knitting mojo fading, I'd say not to worry about it. You've been putting in so much time on your home and everything else that all of your creativity must be sapped. You're right: pattern books help. Maybe you'll want to sort your books and your stash and your needles in order to spur the creativity into action. Or maybe I'll let you select from the ton of projects I seem to have going on ALL of the time! (Perhaps I do this to ward off ennui?)

Time for a bit of a lie-down. I'm afraid I'm getting rather giddy thinking about all of that knitting!

Big hugs, and best wishes for your mojo to return!


04 November 2008

Dear Judith

I hope things are settling down a bit for you now after the awful events of the last couple of weeks.

I was watching Stephen Fry on TV tonight. He's doing a road trip through all the States of America. It's nice viewing and very quirky. Tonight I got to see Nebraska, probably for the first time ever. Well it makes a change to be watching him rather than Hugh Laurie, and of course the two are inextricably linked in my mind because of the TV series they did together, and Blackadder of course.

I have been wrestling with my knitting. Here's a pair of mismatched socks I finished. I can't kick up too much of a fuss because the yarn was a gift, but it just shows the variations you can get with a handpaint.

I'm bored with my knitting. I've got a couple of baby items to finish and they're cute, but I'm just plodding through them. I think I need something with a spark, like that book you just gifted!

01 November 2008

Daring and Square-ish

Dear Mandella,

I'm scheduled to go over to my mom's today (instead of on Sunday, which has been the usual day for sewing) because I'll be at a "personal shower" for my friend M on Sunday afternoon/evening. I found a copy of Naughty Needles for M, which I wrapped up with three little skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. I was going to get Knitting Lingerie Style, but the local bookstores didn't have it. I was only notified of the shower on Thursday evening, so there wasn't time to order it.

So, the coffee is brewing and I'm trying to wake up and type at the same time. I am grateful that we get an extra hour of sleep this weekend (Daylight Savings Time ends here tonight).

We had extraordinarily good weather for the Trick-or-Treaters last night. Most of the time Hallowe'en night is cold and wet; this year it was pleasant and dry. How I remember having the wear a pullover with my costume, and always debating whether to wear it underneath would the costume still fit?) or over the costume (would the costume allow that?). We didn't open our home to the Trick-or-Treaters, though. It's been too busy, and for the past several years there have been very few children coming by. In fact, most people bring their kids to planned venue for trick-or-treats -- the office, shopping malls -- or just stay in their own neighborhoods. In the little town where I grew up we went to every house we could get to! Good heavens, we'd have gone to farmhouses out in the country if we'd had a car and a license to drive!

I've been looking through books of knitting patterns and have happened upon several that make me think it would be fun to knit up a bunch of squares in different colors and textures (i.e., to use up the leftovers of my Cascade 220 stash) and then make them into a blanket. I've knit 1 so far, a bright yellow mostly-square that uses a triangle type of pattern in knits and purls. The 2nd one I've started is called "sand stitch" and it's even easier than the triangle pattern. In fact, I'm rather liking this because it's giving me exposure to some knew knitting textures but in small enough swatches that I don't have to commit to a whole pullover in case I find it too tiring to keep up with. I suppose it's sort of like *gasp!* swatching, except that I'm not working it out on the yarn I intend to use for the final project. And these are much larger swatches (about 7" square-ish).

Well, no time to be thinking about that now. The coffee is done and I've got to get to my mom's and start sewing up that dress if I want to have it to wear to a wedding on the 7th! (AUGH!)

Hugs and good knitting to you!


29 October 2008

A Worse-than-Sad Day

Today we euthanized our dog, Charka. She fell down the steps (just four, but still awful) yesterday, and this morning she was clinging to my side and panting heavily. I think there was more pain in her than we knew.

Today I also learned that a friend's father died on Tuesday. This is my friend J, the amazing massage therapist, who is engaged to M, a knitterly friend. It was J's father who died. J and M will be married on November 7th.

You know how they say to take things one day at a time? Well about six days just hit me all at once.

I've been consoling myself with knitting. I have successful started (after at least one failed attempt) my first pair of toe-up socks. I'm knitting both socks at one time.

Somehow we'll get through this.

27 October 2008

A Sad Day

Peg Johnson, who worked part-time at Village Stationery, passed away this morning at her home in Omaha.  She was diagnosed with leukemia on 28 August 2008.  The wake is tomorrow night and the funeral is Wednesday afternoon, both in Oakland, Iowa.

When Peg knew she was going into the hospital for chemotherapy she had initially said she’d wanted me to teach her to knit.  As it turned out, she felt she had enough to keep her occupied through that first bout of chemo, so she asked me to hold off on the lessons.

As it turned out, the medication used in the second round of chemotherapy was what did her in.  She went home from the hospital this past Wednesday (22 Oct) when it was clear that she could not recover from the damage that had been done to her body.

Peg was in her late 50s/early 60s.  She was retired from a career with the American Red Cross.  She had a great sense of humor and a warm heart.

The world is a little more empty now that she is gone.

I like to think that she is now communing with the likes of author Tony Hillerman (who entered heaven’s gates yesterday afternoon), jazz great Duke Ellington, the gorgeous Paul Newman, the generous soul of Mother Theresa, and all of the others who have gone before her.  No, I don’t know whether any of these people were Peg’s favorites — they just came to my mind (although I’m sure Paul Newman was at the top of the list for her!) — and I rather have it in my heart that Peg was as great and as wonderful as any of them.  At least, she was that memorable to those of us who knew her.

26 October 2008

Rollercoaster Ride

Dear Mandella,

Have you ever read Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet? Let me give you selected excerpts from one of my favorites:

Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; . . .

I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing.

. . . many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closter to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside.

Rainer Maria Rilke
August 12, 1904

And this is where I have been for the past 2 - 3 weeks: Unable to see further than my knowledge reaches, then suddenly aware that the future had indeed entered into me and transformed.

I had been grousing about some major changes in the way my work was to be done and about the added responsibilities that were assigned to me; this week I discovered that all of this added up to a redefined job classification which will ultimately mean a significant raise in salary if it's approved. (I don't know when or if any of this will come through, but the signs are favorable.)

In addition to all of that, I've been on a rollercoaster ride with my beloved dog, Charka, who will be 13 people-years old next month (which is roughly 91 dog-years). She has been so weak in her hind-quarters that she can't get herself up the four steps from the back yard to our deck. The shot of cortisone we got for her on Wednesday afternoon kicked in about 26 hours later and she's perkier in attitude and behavior, but I know this is only a temporary fix because the cortisone lasts only 3 - 4 weeks and has the nasty side effect of eating away at her stomach lining. I know that eventually she will have to be euthanized (sp?) and it will be my decision. I am dreading it.

I also learned on Wednesday morning that Peg, one of the part-timers at the stationery shop where I work part-time, has gone home from the hospital for home-hospice care. That second round of chemo for the leukemia did so much damage to her and she just won't recover from it. Peg was diagnosed at the end of August and did so well with her first bout of chemo that we were certain she'd come through this with flying colors. It is impossibly sad.

On top of all of this, the yarn gods have been toying with me. I'd gotten out all of my leftover balls of Cascade 220 wool to start knitting a pullover (with lovely and colorful striping). Feeling plucky about the pattern of color and stitches I'd come up with, I cast on a front to knit simultaneously with the back. Alas, I screwed up the stitch pattern in a such a way that it had to be frogged. I pulled it all off my needles and put it back. The yarn gods were right: I had too many projects going anyway.

All of this was after I'd tried to start a pullover in the lovely Louet Gems sport weight I'd dyed to a lovely shade of red. That one was doomed by a poor plan and needed to be taken off the needles. (I've worked out the pattern now and all should be well, but I'm not starting it until after the beginning of the new year.) It was also after about a dozen failed attempts to get a scarf going with an 8 oz skein of the same yarn that I'd dyed into quasi-Southwest colors. I think that the first yard or two of wool on that skein is worn down to lace-weight!

My wonderful sister Mary is visiting from Albuquerque this weekend. She is the one for whom I knit the Opera Shrug. Alas, it's too small for her! It will go to her daughter-in-law and I will start anew on something for Mary. I have some new Cascade Venezia (wool/silk combination) in worsted weigh that will do very nicely, but I can't start it until I finish (A) the second of the hand/wrist warmers from the Berocco Alpaca fine and (B) the cardigan for Jane (which is now to the point where I bind off for the armholes).

We took my sister to dinner last night at Rick's Cafe Boatyard which is on the Missouri River in downtown Omaha, but prior to eating we took a walk on the new pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri and connects Nebraska and Iowa for walkers and bicyclists. It was dark when we walked it and it was lit beautifully. I'll have to check to see whether any of my pictures came out at all well -- it was windy so it was hard to stand completely still for the dark photos.

The bridge is an amazing structure. The suspension cables and the serpentine design gave me an impression of music, but I can't describe it any more distinctly than that. Here's a link to a web cam trained on the bridge.

Alas, today I have a migraine. I think it was a combination of dust in my nose from cleaning (long story) and the high winds in our area. But, the day is sunny and the trees are vibrant colors. I'll ride this part of the rollercoaster happily.

Hugs and good knitting to you!


18 October 2008

The Tracks of My Years

Dear Judith

I did a variation on your last post – I checked on what all the No.1 British singles were for the year I did my A’Levels and left school. These were the results, and what I thought of them:

  1. Paul McCartney, Pipes of Peace. Don’t care for the song, but I had the LP.
  2. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax. Ah, the song that got banned from Radio 1 because of the lyrics and therefore became an instant hit. I had the LP.
  3. Nena, 99 Red Balloons. German Eurovision winner from back in the day when normally if the song was good, it won.
  4. Lionel Ritchie, Hello. What a classic slow smoocher. Yes, I had the LP.
  5. Duran Duran, The Reflex. Not their best, but as a confirmed Durannie, I’m glad they got in.
  6. Wham!, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Don’t you yearn for the innocent days when George Michael was a teenybop idol and we didn’t know what he got up to in public toilets? Plus this is one of the all time great tracks to fill a dance floor at a Christmas disco.
  7. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Two Tribes. Just to remind us of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and the fear of imminent nuclear destruction.
  8. George Michael, Careless Whisper. I know every, tortured, word.
  9. Stevie Wonder, I Just Called To Say I Love You. I will probably be struck down for saying it, but I detest this song.
  10. Wham! Freedom, George Michael again. Oh, how I loved him back then.
  11. Chaka Khan, I feel for you. Where did this one come from?
  12. Jim Diamond, I Should Have Known Better. Classic one hit wonder and again, I know every word. Gorgeous song.
  13. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Power of Love. People thought they were taking the mick out of the Nativity Story. I liked it. Now it smacks of rampant commercialism in the hunt for the exalted Christmas No. 1. Of course they were denied by:
  14. Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas. What a charity fundraiser that was. I still remember Bob Geldof demanding we gave money “Now!”

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I guess 1984 wasn’t such a bad year after all!

Music Meme from Minnie

Here's what you're supposed to do. You go out to a site called MusicOutfitters.com.

B.) In the search box at the top right, enter the year you graduated from high school. It will come up with a list of several things, among which is a list of the top 100 songs in the USA for that year. Copy and paste that list into your blog.

C.) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate.

Hmmmm.... I don't seem to have a strike-through font feature, so I'll just turn them grey.

I added italics for the ones I've never heard of before this.

And if it's in regular type then I've heard it and think it's OK but not my favorite.

I graduated in 1977:

1. Tonight's The Night, Rod Stewart
2. I Just Want To Be Your Everything, Andy Gibb
3. Best Of My Love, Emotions
4. Love Theme From "A Star Is Born", Barbra Streisand
5. Angel In Your Arms, Hot
6. I Like Dreamin', Kenny Nolan
7. Don't Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston
8. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher, Rita Coolidge
9. Undercover Angel, Alan O'Day
10. Torn Between Two Lovers, Mary MacGregor
11. I'm Your Boogie Man, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
12. Dancing Queen, Abba
13. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Leo Sayer
14. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet
15. Telephone Line, Electric Light Orchestra
16. Whatcha Gonna Do?, Pablo Cruise
17. Do You Wanna Make Love, Peter McCann
18. Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
19. Hotel California, Eagles
20. Got To Give It Up, Pt. 1, Marvin Gaye
21. Theme From "Rocky" (Gonna Fly Now), Bill Conti
22. Southern Nights, Glen Campbell
23. Rich Girl, Daryl Hall and John Oates2
4. When I Need You, Leo Sayer
25. Hot Line, Sylvers
26. Car Wash, Rose Royce
27. You Don't Have To Be A Star, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
28. Fly Like An Eagle, Steve Miller Band
29. Don't Give Up On Us, David Soul
30. On And On, Stephen Bishop
31. Feels Like The First Time, Foreigner
32. Couldn't Get It Right, Climax Blues Band
33. Easy, Commodores
34. Right Time Of The Night, Jennifer Warnes
35. I've Got Love On My Mind, Natalie Cole
36. Blinded By The Light, Manfred Mann's Earth Band
37. Looks Like We Made It, Barry Manilow
38. So In To You, Atlanta Rhythm Section
39. Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
40. Enjoy Yourself, Jacksons
41. Dazz, Brick
42. I'm In You, Peter Frampton
43. Lucille, Kenny Rogers
44. The Things We Do For Love, 10cc
45. Da Doo Ron Ron, Shaun Cassidy
46. Handy Man, James Taylor
47. Just A Song Before I Go, Crosby, Stills and Nash
48. You And Me, Alice Cooper
49. Slow Dancin', Johnny Rivers
50. Lonely Boy, Andrew Gold
51. I Wish, Stevie Wonder
52. Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac
53. Barracuda, Heart
54. Strawberry Letter 23, Brothers Johnson
55. Night Moves, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
56. You're My World, Helen Reddy
57. Heard It In A Love Song, Marshall Tucker Band
58. Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas
59. New Kid In Town, Eagles
60. My Heart Belongs To Me, Barbra Streisand
61. After The Lovin', Engelbert Humperdinck
62. Jet Airliner, Steve Miller Band
63. Stand Tall, Burton Cummings
64. Way Down, Elvis Presley
65. Weekend In New England, Barry Manilow
66. It Was Almost Like A Song, Ronnie Milsap
67. Smoke From A Distant Fire, Sanford Townsend Band
68. Cold As Ice, Foreigner
69. Ariel, Dean Friedman
70. Lost Without Your Love, Bread
71. Star Wars Theme-Cantina Band, Meco
72. Float On, Floaters
73. Jeans On, David Dundas
74. Lido Shuffle, Boz Scaggs
75. Keep It Comin' Love, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
76. You Made Me Believe In Magic, Bay City Rollers
77. Livin' Thing, Electric Light Orchestra
78. Give A Little Bit, Supertramp
79. That's Rock 'N' Roll, Shaun Cassidy
80. Love So Right, Bee Gees
81. The Rubberband Man, Spinners
82. I Never Cry, Alice Cooper
83. Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon
84. High School Dance, Sylvers
85. Love's Grown Deep, Kenny Nolan
86. Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman), Joe Tex
87. I Wanna Get Next To You, Rose Royce
88. Somebody To Love, Queen
89. Muskrat Love, Captain and Tennille
90. Walk This Way, Aerosmith
91. Whispering-Cherchez La Femme-C'est Si Bon, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band
92. Year Of The Cat, Al Stewart
93. Boogie Nights, Heatwave
94. Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
95. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Elton John
96. Don't Worry Baby, B.J. Thomas
97. Knowing Me, Knowing You, Abba
98. How Much Love, Leo Sayer
99. Star Wars (Main Title), London Symphony Orchestra
100. Devil's Gun, C.J. and Co.

17 October 2008

Can't Work Today

Dear Mandella,

I'm sorry, but I just can't be working. The sky has been too blue, the leaves -- even pine needles -- have been too full of color, and the weather has been entirely too magnificent. It is pullover weather. It is dig-out-something-warm-for-a-walk-in-the-crisp-outdoors season. It is the season that is the reason why we knit with wool even in the hottest of summer.

The colors are magical. Truly, the sky is this blue and the leaves are practically radiating color. This tree is just outside of my building at the Air Force base where I work full-time.

Yes, that's my building in the background, but my office is on the other side. I have to take a walk outside and around to see this tree, and when I do I never want to come back inside!

Well, I have been working, actually. I've had a horrendous week at both of my jobs, but I'm rewarded with two classes this weekend, both with Melissa Leapman of cable fame. See? I have my preparation swatches knit, my graph paper on hand, and her first book open to an inspiring photo:

The Leapman classes are also a reward for slogging through this very-much-altered version of the Dinan Jacket, here shown being done in Red Heart bullet-proof acrylic:

The truth is, it has to be done in this yarn. The dear person (Jane M) who will receive this is a teacher of "special needs" children. She needed something that would take numerous washings and God-knows-what-else. And it's quite a re-do, by the way. The original pattern is a cropped jacket that tapers from armholes to waist (where it stops). This version is straight up and down, going from hip to armhole with no shaping whatsoever. It has 3" of 2 x 2 ribbing on the bottom (another change from the original, which has only a rolled bottom). I've been slogging away at the stockinette portion (which is 10" so far, just an inch shy of the initial armhole bind-offs).

As you can imagine, I have amused myself with a few other things in the meantime, not the least of which is a fun little project of knitting my various scraps into mitered squares:

I know, I know; I have become my mother, using up every last little scrap. It's fun, though. I like stopping every now and then (as I have above) and looking it to figure out what kind of shape I see. So far it looks like a very colorful stingray that is having an extra fin grafted on. *sigh* It will take years for this blanket to be done, but it will be fun looking back and remembered what I knit from the yarns involved.
Oh, speaking of yarns involved, here is the leftover of a huge skein of Interlacement's Toasty Toes, a dk or sport weight washable yarn (shown in the Las Vegas Lights colorway). I'd originally knit a nice, thick pair of socks from this for my sister Denise; the leftovers are going to be a pair of thick anklets for my nephew Jerry who will be 6 soon. Not, of course, that I will get these done for his birthday, but they'll likely be done before Christmas. I'm nearly done with the foot portion of the first sock and will soon begin the toe decreases.

Oh, this one? Well, I don't know yet what it is. It will likely be a pair of mittens. It's from The Sanguine Gryphon. I think it's the Traveler, which is a dk weight washable wool, but I don't remember the colorway and I'm not going to fish out the ball band from the center of the yarn.

So much yarn and only two hands.
And then the weather turns lovely!
Hugs and good knitting to you!

12 October 2008

Colorful Days

Dear Mandella,

The quilts are awesome! That four-corners one is just magnificent! I love your color palette (sp?)! I love your piecing! Oh, gawd, and you quilt, too????

Here (top left) is the basic unit for this new quilt top I'm working on. As you can see, it's comprised of four squares each of which are really 2 squares plus a rectangle. I have a light gold square in each, then the 2nd square and the rectangle are the same color; one set is a kind of oak leaf and acorn print (which comes off as kind of greenish) and the other is a rich brown spattered with black spots. When they're all put together, the overall design should be something like the photo below it.

Except that there will be more of it. A lot more. About 400+ little gold squares alone. The finished top (without borders) will be 60" x 60".

No, I didn't get a chance to work on this one this afternoon at my mom's house. I spent the time changing the dress pattern.

When last I'd written on the subject (October 6th), I'd put in the zipper and noted adjustments that needed to be made. Today I made the pattern adjustments and stitched a prototype (top portion only) from scrap fabric. It fits like a dream.

What I didn't mention earlier is that, when I went shopping for the 22" navy blue zipper for the trial dress, I happened to find this:

It's all crimped and creased and dyed lovely fall colors -- I think it looks like a whole lot of leaves that fell to earth and were kissed by sunshine! These are my colors! (Hmmm... they're looking a bit bright on my monitor. The reddish-violet is really darker than that. Oh, well...) So, I found a lovely deep reddish-violet in a dull satin from which to make the dress. The above fabric will be a simple shawl to wear with it. It will be perfect.

I have two sides (one long and one short) basted for hemming. My mom said she'd do the other two sides. I'm probably going to hem it by machine. It's just a narrow hem (about 5/16") and the piece is rather large (about 50" x 40"), so no one will notice a machine-stitched hem.

Let's see, other pictures I promised I'd show you are this quilt that was made by M's mother as a shower gift:
Isn't it adorable? It's a bunch of all style handkerchiefs that are stitched to white squares and then quilted. I think there are 35 in all. This one I thought was particularly sweet:

To the right of that square is a little hanky that has vignettes from Omaha, by the way. And above it is a hanky just like one I'd had when I was a child.

Now, as for dyeing yarn yesterday, here's the results:

This is one of those sock blanks from KnitPicks. It was a gift from a dear friend, Lorna. I had lots of fun dyeing it. I'm considering making it my first toe-up sock projects, but I'm also considering knitting two halfs of a lovely, lacy scarf and then grafting them at the center.

Three skeins of Trekking XXL sock yarn (75% washable wool; 25% nylon) dyed in a motley collection of medium blue, blue-green, and light blue:

Three 8 oz. skeins of Louet Gems sport weight (100% washable merino wool) in a luscious red that is for me. I will be knitting a lovely pullover for myself from this:

Last, two trials of "Southwest Colors." The first one I dyed yesterday, the second one I dyed this afternoon. These are Louet Gems sport weight, both 8 oz skeins (about 500 yards each). My friend M wanted something like this for knitting a scarf for her future father-in-law. I think she'll like the 2nd better than the first because that orange on the first (remember our orange friend?) needed to be toned down.

And I dyed three silk scarves to match the "Pacifica" sock yarn (the Trekking XXL), the luscious red, and quite coppery to go with the southwest colors.

I'm tired and I need to go to bed. Lots coming up in the next few weeks!

Hugs and good quilting to you!


Names and Quilts

Dear Judith

I went through every single name in your last post and came up with some truly interesting combinations - not all of which worked. Having an unusual name, both first and surname, is sometimes a blessing (people don't forget it easily) and sometimes a curse. For instance, I've had a letter at work addressed to Amanda Lewisby (10/10 to the post room for their deductive powers) and I really ought to let you into my Porn Star name. Twice, from different sources, I've received correspondence addressed to Mandy Love .....

Today I finished a quilt. Well, it's finished apart from the label. I printed one out using Bubble Jet Set and it's in the airing cupboard drying. So tomorrow I will have a mad scramble to prepare and applique the label before wrapping it and delivering it to my friend and her husband. It's their joint birthday present as one of them has one of those horrible birthdays with a "0" on the end and they're only a couple of weeks apart. They've just returned from a special holiday to the Four Corners region, and those blue blobs in each corner are the silhouette of each of the 4 states, just to make it a bit of a memento.

Reading about your latest quilt in progress, sewing squares to squares to rectangles, made me think of one of my own WIPs. I don't think yours is anything like it, but I'm posting it here in the interests of establishing whether there's a family resemblance:

The pattern is "Strait of Georgia" and it can be found in the book More Fat Quarter Quilts by M'liss Rae Hawley. I love fat quarters, after all like I said, why use 1 fabric when 10 will do? If you look very carefully at the top of the photo you will see my sand and sage green bedspread, complete with silk ribbon embroidery which comes out for a pastime and drives me to distraction!

10 October 2008

Name Game

1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car):  Charka Grand AM

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):  Fudge Mint Clog

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal):  Blue Cat

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born):  Ann Denison

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name):  Broju

6. Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink):  Green Coffee

7. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers):  Otto Anton

8. Exotic Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):  White Linen Starburst

9. TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):  Jacobsen Juneau

10. Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower):  Christmas Tiger Lily

11.Cartoon name (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):   Raspberry Jeans

12. Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):  Egg Biscuit Sugar Maple

13. Movie star name (first pet, first street where you lived):  Kitty Main

06 October 2008

Back to (House) Work

Dear Mandella,

Lovely colors! Oh, I'm sure you'll come up with something in no time for those fabrics. What type of dye did you use? Was it cold pour? microwave? steam set?

I am taking today as a holiday. My husband is off this week from his courses (although he has some studying to do for make-up exams) and we have planned two days for me to be at home and doing "stuff around the house." Today that means cleaning up the livingroom so that he can clean the carpeting and one incredibly grungy chair tomorrow. Somewhere in all of this I also need to (brace yourself):
  • Empty the guest room of extraneous boxes (move them to the storage unit)
  • Ditto the garage so I can get my car into it again
  • De-muck the laundry room
  • ...and the dining table
  • Get all of the ironing and mending into separate piles
  • Restore my "craft room" to its former status (it's not a junk room)
  • Clean up my side of the bedroom

I hope to be able to dye some yarn this week, too, but that might not be until Saturday.

Yesterday I was at my mom's to do some sewing. I finished up a navy blue dress -- a prototype, if you will, for the one I will make to wear to my friend's wedding in November. It's a simple pattern: a front, a back, sleeves, and the neck facings. I'd have had it done a week ago if I'd had a 22" zipper. So, yesterday I installed the zipper, stitched the side seams, sewed in the sleeves, and finished all raw edges except the hem.

It's passable.

Luckily I have a professional acquaintance who runs an alterations shop next door to the stationery shop. A week from tomorrow she'll be able to kibbutz on the fitting. I'd ask my mom and /or sister to do so, but they really don't have the eyes or knowledge for this sort of thing. Linda (the pro) will likely agree with me about moving a bust dart downward and shortening a few of the shaping darts in the front. I'm also considering opening up the neckline. Hmmmm.... I'll have to do some before-and-after pictures. It will be sort of like a Project Runway challenge.

What can't be fixed with sewing is my gigantic body. Ye-gads, I don't know how I'm going to be able to shrink myself at all. Like sister blogger Lady Euphoria, I'm not a lazy person: I do resistance training at the gym at least once per week and I try to get 100 - 120 minutes of cardio (usually walking) per week. It's mainly in the eating where I have my downfall. With working 2 jobs, I'm often too tired to make rational decisions about what I'm putting into my mouth. OK, that and I end up eating from fast-food places a lot.

Well, such is life. I console myself with the absolutely unshakeable belief that God does not require a weigh-in at the pearly gates. My value has no connection to a number on the scale or the size printed in my clothing.

When I finished up the navy blue dress enough to try it on, I started in on another quilt top. It is one of those death-by-little-squares quilts. I cut 2-1/2" strips, stitched them together, then cut them apart (so that I had a set of 2 squares sewed together) and stitched them to 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" pieces of fabric that match the darker of the two little squares (did that make sense?). I'll have 238 of these little things when I'm done. They will all make 4" squares when stitched together and will yield a 60" x 60" blanket top (sans borders).

"The next one will be simpler," I promise myself.

On another note, go here to see an absolutely silly image from brother blogger Bourbon Cowboy. He's in New York city and will likely get to see more interesting images throughout the day than will I.

Well, time to dig in to the work at home. I console myself with the concept that I'm getting paid to stay at home and do this stuff. (Ha! I'd rather get paid to go someplace fun on holiday!)

Hugs and great colors to you!


05 October 2008

Dyeing Days

Dear Judith

I hope your weekend has been as great as you expected now the pressure's off.

I took Friday off work as a day's holiday and spent the whole day at the new house with David. We're now decorating the bedrooms and they're looking great.

Yesterday I went on a dyeing workshop. Look at all the lovely fabrics you can get out of just 2 colours:

I used scarlet and golden yellow if you're wondering. I have no specific use for these fabrics, other than to take them out and pet them occasionally and wait until they tell me what they want to be, but I've got an idea for a throw quilt if I do the same sort of thing at home with bigger pieces of fabric.

Today I've been frantically working on the quilt that has to be ready before next Monday. At least all that's left to do is sew the binding to the back, but I hate cutting it so fine, especially as work's going to suck so much life out of me this week. Oh, and I gave myself a DIY breast biopsy today. A word to the wise here. If you drop something on the floor when you're sewing, make sure there isn't a pin cushion sitting on the table you have to lean over to reach the item you've dropped ....... ouch!

Never mind, at least it'll soon be Christmas, or at least you'd think it will be if you go in any supermarket around here.



04 October 2008

Ah, Saturday!

Dear Mandella,

Today has been a long time in coming. Today means I will have no more frantic calls about that big wedding I was working on (I actually had two more last-minute name/menu cards yesterday). Today means we're going to lunch to celebrate Ed's birthday (which was Thursday). Today means I was able to sleep in until 7:45 a.m.

Today I think I'll do as little as possible except to knit on my swatches for class with Melissa Leapman. (I have four of the 8 done.)

Tomorrow I'll go over to my mom's and sew.

I might even do a bit of laundry.

OK, I'll be doing quite a bit of laundry because I got behind last week, but that's another story.

And I have some work to do for a free-lance client.

I should really pile up those boxes into the truck and take them over to the storage unit so that I can get my car into the garage again.

And it would help to clear out the stuff that has accumulated in the guest room.


Too much to do and too little weekend.

Hugs and good weather to you!


03 October 2008

Coming Up for Air

Dear Mandella,

I am at last finished with a major project at my part-time job, which was menu cards (with names on top) and service programs for a wedding that with sit-down reception that will be attended by about 400 people.  I’ve been working on this since the end of August with a very skilled planner and it has taken nearly all of my time and energy to manage all of the pieces and still keep up with all of the other clients’ projects.  In fact, there are a few people I have to call because I’ve not been able to work on their projects for a few weeks while everything else was going on.

One great thing to look forward to this month:  Two classes with Melissa Leapman.  She’ll be at String of Purls on October 18 & 19.  I’ll be in her Celtic Cables class on Saturday afternoon and the Fully Fashioned and Fabulous class on Sunday morning.  I’ve just started working on my swatches.  A total of 8 are due; I’m just a row or two away from finishing the first one.  *sigh*

We are enjoying the most magnificent weather right now.  In the mornings (and I leave for work quite early) the temperature is about 40ยบ (F) so there is a pleasant chill in the air.  The sky is clear and I can see the Orion constellation over my house as though he is stopping by for a brief hello before he goes off hunting in the rest of the galaxy.

Oh…pshaw!  I have to go to a meeting.  Well, at least I can knit during meetings!

Big hugs and good weather to you!


28 September 2008

Uncharted Territory

Dear Mandella,

In an attempt to recover from the madness of this morning, I took a great leap into The Great Unknown: Knitting Gloves.

It started with a magnificent skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine (50% Peruvian Wool, 20% super fine Alpaca, 3o% nylon) in the Prune Mix colorway. It is luxuriously soft and gives me a sinfully sensuous feeling as I stroke the ball . . . (never mind). I started out by knitting socks with a pattern modified from the Kimono Shawl in the Folk Shawls pattern book. The pattern as it's stated in that book is 10+1 sts. I make it a 12 st pattern (I like balance when I'm knitting sock) with 2 iterations, then added 5 sts at the beginning and end for a rib. I'm knitting this with US 1 circulars and getting 8 sts/1" in stockinette.

All was going well, I was about 3/4 of the way through the second pattern repeat when I decided to slip it onto my hand to check how the design was coming out. That was when the softness of the yarn made me come over all whoozie and, after all of the craziness of this morning and this past week, I decided that I really needed to have these not as socks for my feet but gloves for my hands. Thus, I took the aforementioned flying leap.

I have been using Ann Budd's Knitter's Book of Handy Patterns in order to figure out the basic structure of glives. Of course, the increases for the thumb gusset comes first and I have only 10 of the 20-22 total I'll need. (Ann has it at 21 but that's because she starts with just one stitch increased at the end of the round before starting the thumb increases. I know where she's going with that, but I needed an even number in order to make the ribbing come out right. It's a long story.)

Did I think I didn't have enough stress in my life? Did I take this up because I anticipate a big drop in stress this week after several projects at my jobs are finished?

And it's not that the knitting is stressful. Here's what's making me kind of nuts:

  1. The gusset increases are coming every 3 rounds, but the Kimono stitch pattern changes every 2 rounds. *sigh*
  2. It's a pain in the arse to write down everything so that I can duplicate my method on the second one.
  3. I'm really not even certain this is going to work.

Ah, well, that's where knitting is NOT like life. With knitting, you can rip it out and start over again. If you're lucky, you'll get some bad knitting day make-up sex, but I'm not that hopeful.

Before you can mention it, yes, the Kimono Scarf is still in progress. It's about 3/5 done. I haven't knit on it for a while because I've been working on other things. And doing laundry. And cleaning up "dog cookies."

The Charka Dog

Dear Mandella,

I'm so sorry to hear that things at work are frustrating and (perhaps?) downright abusive. I am sending positive job-hunting thoughts your way. Of course, if I win the Powerball lottery, rest assured I'll move myself, my husband, and my knitting to Weymouth where neither you and Dave nor me and Ed need ever work at anything harder than knitting a lace pattern printed in Swahili. (I can dream, can't I?)

When you wrote that "the black dog" had been on your shoulders of late, what immediately sprang to mind was my Charka dog who is black, brown, tan, and white. I have had The Charka Dog in my lap lately. Never mind that she weighs 60+ lbs, she wants to be in my lap and reassured at nearly all times of the day. About the only thing I can figure is that she's having severe anxiety because, now that Ed is in classes full time, Ed is not around the house as much. At about 2 a.m. Saturday The Charka Dog had her paws on the bed and her cold, wet nose anywhere she could prod me. She was panting hard and fast. All she wanted was the climb into bed and be reassured that I was right there.

This morning at 2 a.m. she did the same thing, but I ignored her. When I did wake this a.m. it was to find her sleeping on the floor on my side of the bed. And then I saw that she'd left about a dozen "dog cookies" on the livingroom floor. (Bless my husband: He cleaned them up this time.) Usually paws-on-the-bed means an urgent need to go out, but I didn't believe her because the night/morning prior she didn't want to go out at all.

I am skivving (did I spell that correctly?) off church this morning. Besides the 2 a.m. dog call and the dog cookies on the livingroom floor, I managed to spill coffee all over the kitchen floor because I hadn't closed the little coffee-maker door (the basket with the coffee grounds slides out) which meant that the little spout didn't make a proper connection with the lid of the coffee urn. The anthem today is "Lord of all hopefullness." I don't feel much like singing, "Naught be all else to me save that Thou art." It would be a lie.

I'm going to my mom's today to try to cut out a dress to wear for my friend's wedding on November 7th. I hope that goes better.

Hugs and more joy to you,



Dear Judith

The black dog has been on my shoulder towards the latter part of the week, mostly because of work-related problems which I don't care to go into on what is essentially a public space. Let's just say that I have been devastated by the actions of someone else and as much as I try to rationalise them, I'm convinced they were unjustified and damaging to me.

Dave put his back out yesterday just by climbing off his motorbike. He's frustrated and upset because that means the decorating schedule has a temporary setback, but we're also thankful that he's been so capable for so long. I pulled out the box of his heavy-duty prescription pills yesterday and he got them on 10 October 2007, just after the last really bad episode when we got stuck in the USA for an extra 48 hours more than planned. He hates taking medication, which is why they've lasted for nearly a year!

But it's not all doom and gloom on this side of the big pond. The weather is gorgeous; we're having a real Indian Summer. Look at what's on my passion fruit plant:

Disappointingly it's completely hollow, so I won't be getting any passion fruit for breakfast, but what a wonderful colour.

In between applying for jobs, I've found some time to do a little quilting and (horrors) a little knitting! I've been working on the penguin baby jumper, but there's nothing to see, only a plain back and have started the Back-To-School U-Neck vest by Stephanie Japel. I knew the lack of desire to knit wouldn't last.

Also, I'm practically salivating over the latest offering from Knitpicks, the Palette Samplers with the accompanying bag patterns. I've got a couple of fair isle jumpers kitted up and ready to go, but it would be great to knock up one of these before diving in. It's been a while since I've knitted any stranded colourwork.

But before then, I've got a few job applications to complete.

26 September 2008

Not for Debate

I've finally found a political party I like: The Fibertarians. Check out the latest update at The Panopticon. These are definitely my people.

I'm sorry it took me this long to find them. I sat through the presidential nominees' debate this evening and got bored with the same-old, same-old that I've been hearing from both of them for the last God-know-how-many months. As I listened I turned to doing something productive: Knitting.

Thus, as the pundits and the spin-doctors rattle on and on now that this debate is completed, I actually have something to show for my time: A finished pair of socks. These are the pair that my SIL "won" in a Christmas gift swap at my mom's last December. She knew it would take me a while to finish them since I had a zillion other things to do in the meantime. But, they are done and I can send them off to her.

Oh, and the yarn is from one of my favorite dyers: Lisa Souza. These are knit on US 1 with Lisa's Superwash Merino in the South Pacific colorway. (Yes, I know the ball band says it's 4.5 sts to the inch on US 10, but I get about 8 sts to the inch on US 1 and I get a very nice pair of socks from it.)

These are knit in my standard "waffle" pattern, which is (on an even number of sts, divisible by 4):

Rnds 1 - 3: *K2, P2* repeat to the end
Rnds 4 - 6: K all sts

Referring back to my New Year's List of projects, here is my progress to date:

Socks for Marky *Done • Sept 08*
Socks for Deb (#1 near heel turn)
Socks from Austermann Step yarn — Frogged and rewound
Hoofle-Foofle Socks *Done • 1 Feb 2008*
Cardigan *Done • 10 May 08*
8-3-5 Pullover for Marky (back done; front started)
Scarf from bulky weight Silk Road *Done • 5 Jan 08*
Scarf from 2 strands of Manos del Uraguay *Done • 10 Jan 08*
Socks for Alice *Done • 5 Jan 08*
Shrug for Mary *Done • 24 Sept 08*
Baby Blanket for Jorge y Liliana — Frogged and rewound
Socks for Joan *Done • 26 Sept 08*
Swag Socks sample for String of Purls *2 samples done*
Marjaana/Hermione pullover for myself — Frogged and rewound
Scarf (non-wool) for I-Pie (about halfway along)

May our politicians be able to brag about having accomplished half so much!

I can dream, can't I?

I just found this lovely stole pattern which I downloaded. Kits (yarn and pattern) can be downloaded from The Woolen Rabbit. I have no idea when (or if) I'll get to knit this, but it's lovely to think about the possibilities.

25 September 2008

Gimme a freakin' break!

Dear Mandella,

Life has been crazy. And that's the nice word for it. Both of my jobs have me busier than a .... OK, let's just not go there. On top of that, I had one of those mornings when nothing went right
  • I overslept
  • I ordered a bacon & egg biscuit sandwich (no cheese) at a McD's but they gave me a sausage, egg, & cheese biscuit sandwich — which I didn't discover until I was zipping down the Interstate highway at warp speed, trying to get to work (the full-time job).
  • At the office, I had to log on to a special site in order to take an annual bit of training. My logon info had expired.
  • OK, now I have to call to get everything updated except that the phone number on the web site doesn't work.
  • I locate a toll-free number, finally get through to the person who can help me, finally get the new logon and password, I get to the right site, get logged in, and then the network goes kablooey.

  • I keep trying the web site (I get a little further each time before the dreaded "TCP/IP" error shows up), and finally get the training done, something that takes 2 hours instead of the usual 20 minutes.

  • I try to print the certificate at the end, but the printer keeps giving me an error.

  • Then I found out that I'd misprinted a name on a hand-painted name card at my other job and they need it redone ASAP.

Honestly, I gave up at that point. I took off for the remainder of the day (it was 11:00 a.m.) -- I'll make up the time this weekend -- and drove like a madwoman to the stationery shop (the part-time job) and reprinted the name tag.

And that was when I learned that one of the people who would have worked from 1:00 to 8:00 had major car trouble and couldn't come in. I went home for a shower and a short nap, then came back to work from 3:00 to 8:00. And I'll still be in tomorrow afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 because I have 400 name cards (for a different event) to print up.

None of this takes into account the political posturing that's going on by everyone with half an opinion on the big $700 bazillion bail-out of failing financial institutions that our lovely government is planning.

I don't have time for any opinions on the current economic crisis, the current presidential race, the civil wars in various countries, or any of that because my life has enough of its own crises, races and wars.

I'm wondering whether I can get a bail-out. And not just the money. I need to be bailed out of my life on days like today.

But, the bright spot (and you just knew there had to be one) is that I finished up the lovely shrug for my sister Mary.

Is that just too lovely for words? Modeled by Louise at String of Purls (who is test-knitting the pattern for me using Rowan Kid Silk), it is everything I had hoped it would be.

As if that weren't enough, did I show you the quilt top I'd finished?

*sigh* Something beautiful in a crazy world. I need that.

Hugs and good news to you,