A Shawlful Lot of Knitting

Somehow or other, I’ve apparently let go of my grasp on knitting reality, and I’m not quite sure when and how that happened. I said from the start that I was only going to allow myself one lace (which morphed into one main) project going at a time, and I had no problem with that. I actually enjoyed the pull of the next project moving me toward finishing whatever happened to be current. I was far from being monogamous, but still, I knew there was just one project that I would grab each night when I settled in with my audiobook – until now.

I finished knitting my Little River Wrap right at the beginning of the Ravelympics, but since it didn’t count for the event, being an active project, I put it aside without blocking and fringe. I did get it blocked a couple weeks back, but it’s not done until it has fringe. Project 1…

In celebration, I cast on my Thordis Shawl at the end of the Ravelympics. I’m sewing in the ends on it now, but still have to pick up over 300 stitches to finish the raw edge of which I’m not overly fond. Project 2…

I have two prayer shawls started. These aren’t prime time knitting, as I prefer to work on them when I can be praying. Still, they should count as at least half projects, so I’m calling them Projects 3…

Those three I can somewhat justify, but then things start getting dicey. I think I need my head examined, in fact. A month or so back while on Ravelry, I found a pattern that I dearly loved. It was supposedly free to members of a Yahoo group, so I signed up – only to find it wasn’t, as it was the current mystery shawl and closed to new members. While I was waiting around for it to finally be available to buy, a new project was announced. I’ve never done a mystery shawl, and after looking through the designer’s website, I decided I liked her work well enough to risk making one of her shawls sight unseen. What I didn’t realize is that it would be so terribly difficult to choose yarn for a project when I had no idea what it was going to look like. After many hours of research on Ravelry, I finally settled on Baby, by Dream in Color, in the November Muse colorway.

This is my first experience with this yarn, and while my initial reaction to it in person was hesitant, I’ve come to really enjoy working with it – which is good, since I jumped in with both feet, buying enough yarn to make three different shawls with it (different colors!) at the same time. I did my shopping online with The Loopy Ewe, and all I can say is that I was absolutely blown away by them! No wonder people like that place so well! First of all, they had more colorways available in stock than anyone else I checked. When I was concerned about colors working well together, I phoned them. I couldn’t have received better and more friendly service if I’d called a (mythical for me) LYS just around the corner. What delightful people! Then there is the shipping, which is not only extremely reasonable for small orders, but totally free over $75, and my yarn was here almost instantly!!! I’m sure I will be doing more business with them in the future, and next time I’m road-tripping in that direction, their store is a must. :o)

Anyway, I digress… The knit-along for that shawl, which is called Way of Life and designed by Birgit Freyer, began on the 18th of September. So far, we have received two “clues,” and each has involved about 4 days of my knitting, and I’m keeping up well, so far, and loving the way it looks.

The shawl is rectangular, but being worked from the long edge, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like when finished. I did find it almost funny that I had two consecutive shawl cast-ons of over 300 stitches. Considering how I’d dreaded starting Thordis with it’s 339, I couldn’t believe I was thinking, “Oh, just 309 for this one…” So far, it’s looking very lovely, and as always, I’m finding ways to continue learning about knitting and myself. In making so many repeats of the same pattern across one row, it’s almost inevitable that an occasional yarn over goes missing or shows up spare. I’ve been using some really frustrating markers that I bought from Knit Picks. They are jumprings, and I really like the concept, but the ends are rough and don’t meet, so they were constantly moving around. I can’t figure out how the yarn would inevitably get in the ring without help, but require a generous amount of finagling to remove. The yarn was snagging, and the whole thing was really slowing me down, not to mention they were moving around on me, sometimes by several stitches, so it wasn’t always obvious if I was off on my count. Last Saturday, I received my Lacis order, and life has been better since. They sell closed ring markers! I bought a package in both sizes, and I’m using the larger ones on my lace so they don’t slip under YO’s. They have improved both my speed and accuracy, and I’m ever so much happier for it! On the other hand, had I made no errors, I would have missed yet another learning experience…

With 309 stitches on the needles, a person doesn’t just frog four rows lightly, which is what I would have happily done otherwise when I found an error 5 rows deep spreading across 3 repeats of 18 stitches each in a moderately involved lace pattern. It took me a good night’s sleep before I got up my nerve, but I actually tore out just the damaged section and managed to re-knit it properly! I was thinking the entire time I was working that I was really glad I’d been diligently fixing the little mistakes in projects over the past year. In the process, I’d learned enough to take on something that would otherwise have landed the entire shawl in the frog pond. I always find it amazing when I come face to face with the reality of how much I continue to learn and grow. :o) And, long-winded though I became here, this is Project 4…

Now is where things really got out of hand. Somewhere along the line, I discovered there was a Yahoo group for the Thordis Icelandic Shawl, and though it started with that one shawl, they have done several other KAL’s and are happy to answer questions about any of them. I joined, and immediately found they were starting a mystery shawl designed by the group owner, and specifically aimed at using those wonderful hand-dyed yarns that entice knitters, but tend to overwhelm lace patterns. How could I resist? I swatched yesterday with some delicious Lisa Souza yarn and Dyna-Mites beads (most of which don’t show in the photo unless you maximize it), but will do more details on that in another post when we actually start knitting in a few days and haven’t already written an entire book. For now, here is my yummy swatch for Project 5…

And then I’m going to totally blame the enablers on the Icelandic group for mentioning a KAL starting on the Schoolhouse Press site tomorrow. I’d almost totally talked myself out of participating until the perfect yarn practically fell into my lap – and no, I wasn’t looking for it! Here’s my swatch for Project 6… with details about my miracle yarn to follow once I’ve cast on for the shawl.

Now, about all that remodeling…

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Be it ever so humble…

It’s mine – lumps, bumps, and knots notwithstanding – and I love it!

I’ve been working as I can on getting my spinning wheel stained and finished, but it’s been a slow process. Eventually you will see why. The last couple of weeks, despite the fact that I know it will be worth it in the end, it’s been a bit of a trial. I was invited to attend a spinning workshop last weekend, but with no wheel, I wasn’t sure it was worth the investment. I met the teacher at the Wool Gathering, though, and she quite firmly insisted that I must come, wheel or not, and if I couldn’t even manage a drop spindle, then I should at least sit in on the class. That clinched it for me, and I spent the first part of the week semi-permanently adhered to sandpaper and stain, but by Wednesday it was pretty clear that it just wasn’t going to happen. Sooooo… drop spindle it was.

By design, I only worked late at night without witnesses. Otherwise, I could have ended up on YouTube in the humor section. Although I’d had marvelous success almost instantly with a drop spindle about 20 years ago, current reality showed a marked disconnect had occurred between my brain and hands in the ensuing years, and I found myself seriously considering the possibility of fingerspinning instead. It didn’t make it any easier that the first spindle I pulled out was a top whorl. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s not the best option for someone determined to demonstrate the the miserable truth about why it’s really called a “drop” spindle. Every time the thing hit the floor (which was ridiculously often) the tiny cone of lumps yarn wrapped around the spindle, slid down faster than a fireman down a pole, and sliding it back up again never quite restored it to the original, tidy cone. Instead, it just got longer and longer, and soon I was discovering it was also finding a way to tangle in the trips up and down the polished wood. It didn’t help, either, that the center of the whorl was raised in a smooth budge, which ultimately led to yarn slipping under the the rest while I was wrapping the freshly spun into place. After about 2 hours of irritation, I crammed the whole mess back into the box and determined to call the shop the next day to cancel my reservation for the class. A little sleep took away just enough frustration to allow me to try again, and this time I found a bottom whorl spindle. I’m not going to say it was pretty, but at least two of my problems were resolved, and I could focus more on spinning and drafting and less on keeping my temper. After an hour of work, I did have a small wad of what could loosely be considered yarn, and Friday night, I added to it somewhat. With this pitifully small offering, I headed to class early Saturday morning.

I’m going to confess quite openly that it was extremely difficult for me to sit in that room with everyone else treadling merrily, when all I could do was clumsily twirl, but I have this little problem of not being able to just sit and do nothing, so with the only alternative to utter boredom being my drop spindle, I used it. By the middle of the afternoon, not only had I learned some new tricks beyond those I’d picked up reading over the past few months, but I’d also spun the entire two ounces of roving I’d brought along into singles, best described as total lack of control punctuated by moments of pure brilliance. I did notice early in the afternoon that I’d reached a point where I was no longer having to think a lot about what I was doing, and I could see that I was doing a much better job of spinning evenly for long periods of time. It would probably be a good thing if I could learn to stick to one particular gauge per single, though. ;o) The most hateful job was actually trying to wind the yarn from my spindle onto my ball winder alone, and I was practically in tears before another student came to my rescue and held the spindle for me. That challenge, along with having spent 6 hours watching everyone else zip through their assignments with ease on their wheels, opened the door for the green-eyed monster, and I suddenly copped a seriously bad attitude, deciding I was not under any circumstances going to try to ply the stuff on a spindle. Considering that the workshop was actually a plying workshop, this was a serious, but silent, temper tantrum on my part.

At this point, I will refer you back to the part where I said I can’t sit still doing nothing for very long… After about 15 minutes of pouting to myself, my hands won out, and I pulled the ball of yarn and my spindle back out of my bag, took a deep breath, and went for it. I had to finish the project at home, but…

I’m now the proud, first time birth mother of a bouncing baby skein of real yarn! Weight: 52 grams/1.9 ounces, Length: 90 yards/82.3 meters, Gauge: mostly sport weight, but with unplanned samples of everything from fine laceweight to bulky. The best stuff is plied against the worst, as I plied it from the two ends of the cake. There are knots where one or the other strand broke during the plying process. It’s clearly extremely inconsistent. I have no idea what sort of wool it is, as it came with the spindle 5 years ago. But despite everything, it’s mine – all mine! And I love it! It’s laying out where I can see it, and every time I walk past, I pet it or give it a loving squeeze. I marvel at its beauty – which I suppose is mostly a mother love thing. And I’m terribly impressed with myself for having produced something so wonderful! Someday – probably sooner than later – this will be a run of the mill sort of activity. (If not, I’ve got an awful lot of roving and fleece that’s going to go to waste…) However, right now, it’s my own little miracle. I made yarn for the very first time in my life, and I couldn’t be happier!

Published in: on September 30, 2008 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wool Gathering

I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post, and it’s taken me several days to admit I have no idea! It seems ever so trite to say “Wow!” but… well… it rather fits! I know that many of you reading this will either be shaking your head in amazement over my naivete or nodding in passionate agreement, but for the rest of you, I’ll give just a dabble of background before I do show and tell.

Some years ago, DH and I took the girls to Young’s Jersey Dairy for ice cream, and while there, we noticed a tent set up near the building. It looked like some sort of special animal display or something, so we went over to investigate. Inside, we found sheep, alpacas, rabbits, and I believe there was a llama or two, and then there were a few people sitting at spinning wheels and tables displaying some various merchandise, much of which made little or no sense to me. Since we were homeschoolers, though, we took advantage of the opportunity to explore, watch the animals, and such. I honestly think that day might have been when the seed was planted for me to think I needed a spinning wheel, too. However, to be quite honest, I had absolutely no idea why! Fast forward a “few” years – and to give this a little perspective, my younger daughter has been married for over two years now and is well past trying to climb up the side of the pen to pet the alpacas. Somewhere in that time, I fell in love with knitting and fiber, and for the last couple of years, I’d thought back to that serendipitous visit to Young’s and wondered more than once if they’d ever done something like that again. Then this spring, I discovered Fiberworks (oddly enough, because I bought a spinning wheel…), and Arlene told me about the Dayton Knitting Guild – and through the DKG, I found out that yes, there IS an event at Young’s, and it happens every year! Ever since last April, I’ve been practically counting the days until this past weekend.

It was worth the wait! I was hot and had a horrible headache nearly the entire time I was there on Saturday. I could barely move on Sunday. I was dreadfully stiff and sore from the unaccustomed amount of walking and wool toting. But to be quite honest, I had an utterly fantastic time, and am already counting the days until next year!

The real surprise came when I got out of my car and saw not one small tent, but two extremely large tents set in a field liberally sprinkled with single booths and tents, which reminded me a bit of the courtiers lining the throne rooms in historical movies. Obviously, the event had grown a bit since I was last there. Another change is that this time I knew what things were when I saw them, and I had a very good idea (I thought) of just what I wanted to buy. Of course, imagination and list-writing didn’t hold out very long, as the vendors were way ahead of me. There was ever so much more than I’d ever dreamed. Even though I tried to be good many sellers closed booths before I was able to get back to buy what I’d decided to get from them, I had so many big plastic bags in hand as I left that I looked like I was hauling out the week’s trash for a family of five!

Here’s what followed me home (Think I’m kidding? I’m sure I have at least one complete alpaca here!) and a few other sights and delights of the day.

I think the alpacas were probably the star of the day for me. Every time I found myself petting something and thinking I might need to own it purely based on touch, it was, of course, formerly the property of an alpaca. Doesn’t hurt that they are one of the cutest things on four feet, either.

Alpaca with a princess complex

Alpaca with a princess complex

Alpaca bored with people-watching

Alpaca totally bored with people-watching

Alpaca with a secret

Alpaca with a secret

I narrowed all the delightful alpaca fiber options down to just this, regretfully leaving the adoptables for someone else :

Alpaca roving - the creamsicle fluff is baby alpaca

Alpaca roving - the Creamsicle fluff is baby alpaca

One gorgeous pound of Buttercup's raw fleece - the single most enticing alpaca fleece I saw the entire day - www.Tri-ValleyAlpacas.com

One gorgeous pound of Buttercup's fleece

This fleece from Buttercup was unquestionably the most enticing alpaca fleece I saw the entire day. I couldn’t keep my hands off it while talking to the delightful couple who owns her. If you’d like to see her, she’s the second animal down on this page at the Tri-Valley Alpaca website.

Just plain overwhelming!

Just plain overwhelming alpaca!

And this display from Frontier Fiber Mill was nearly the death of me! My head was screaming by the time I reached the booth, and the stuff was all intensely gorgeous. I just absolutely could not decide what I wanted, so I ended up taking a photo and a business card instead.

The other fiber producers that were there in the flesh were angora bunnies. No two ways about it. There is just nothing softer in this entire world!

Ready to spin angora ambrosia

Ready to spin angora ambrosia - and yes, I bought all three colors. You never know just what you'll want...

This little guy donated the fawn angora I brought home

This is the little guy who donated the fawn angora fiber I brought home

Some other wonderful rovings that are now stashed and waiting for my spinning wheel to be completed…

Indi dyed merino from Chamomile Connection

Hand-dyed merino from Chamomile Connection

Icelandic sheep's wool times 6 ounces...

Icelandic sheep's wool times 6 ounces...

Buffalo

Fluffy buff stuff - brown mostly buffalo, and the green is a buff/llama/bunny blend

Unidentified sheep's wool

Unidentified sheep's wool in colors too good to resist

And then there was this sudden craving to own a fleece… or two… and in addition to being an absolutely lovely lady, Jackie from Amazing Grace Farm is an expert enabler. It was worth going to the show just to meet her! A picture of Elaine (see fleece below) and loads of info on Shetlands as well as lots of other neat stuff is on her website. And regarding the two fleeces, I have to add in my defense that at least they are small fleeces… ;o)

Zaccheus

From Zacchaeus - a Shetland sheep and producer of fine wool. In person, what appears white here is actually a gorgeous champagne color.

And from Elaine

And from Elaine - another of Jackie's Shetlands. This is just so very soft and fine, I couldn't leave it behind!

And then I got all sorts of little odds and ends, like a hand-spindling book, sheepy soaps in luscious flavors like pumpkin spice, peppermint, and lavendar (also from Jackie), and the cutest little one yard niddynoddy from The Knit Store

My little odds and ends

Some little odds and ends - yarn is for an exchange, and I'm terribly sad there was only one skein, as it means I don't get any.

Aren't these the cutest things?

Aren't these the cutest things? The shuttle is just 2" (5cm) long, and the lucet is a minute 1.5" !

After the show was over for the day, I headed into Young’s for supper. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was! One of their great burgers followed by my favorite hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream proved to be somewhat restorative, though. “Somehow” I managed to end up sitting at the next table over from a knitter (imagine that!) who was making an afghan with a technique I’d not seen before. Suffice it to say, dinner was stretched out over a rather lengthy period of time while she shared what she was doing with me.

Magical Mosaic Knitting

Magical Mosaic Knitting

Even having watched her, this almost looks like a magic trick, and I’ve already ordered Barbara Walker’s mosaic knitting book so I can play with it some more myself. :o) Perfect ending to a perfect day of… well… Dare I? Wool Gathering!

Friends

I’m not going to blog what I’d planned tonight, because I received an email forward that inspired some thoughts to spill out into print. Just wanted to share this instead. I wish I knew who wrote it. First the forward, which you may well recognize, then where my mind wandered…

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person… When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any Wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, and their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on..

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it; it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons – things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

To be quite honest, I hated this the first time I ever saw it. I thought it was depressing and one of the dumbest things a person could ever believe – just a fancily worded cop out for not being able to sustain a long term relationship. Then a funny – or perhaps not so funny – thing happened. I started living it (without my permission, mind you). I’ve had two very precious friends, women for whom I’d have done almost anything, just up and flake out on me out of the clear blue. No legitimate reason – they were just gone – poof! One has been just a year now, and the other maybe four, and both gone right at this time of the year. Sometimes I find myself missing one or the other of them so badly that I think my heart is going to break all over again.

My first reaction to the loss of each was anger, and how I wanted to hate them for hurting me so terribly! But, thank God, though the pain is still part of me, He’s allowed me to see just how instrumental each of them was to me becoming the person that I am today – very far from perfect, but I think a little closer to what He would want of me. When I started thinking back as far as I could through the people I’ve known, and especially those I’ve loved as friends, I can, with very little effort, see at least one particular gift each has left with me before taking a fork in the road to continue their life journey along another path. No, I will never stop missing the companionship of their friendship, and if I had a choice, all my friends would be “forever friends,” but how can I harbor anger toward a gift that was hand picked for me by a loving God – even if it was a jewel to hold in my hand only for a season?

So I no longer hate this little piece – well… other than the fact that it reminds me that friends aren’t always forever. Every time I read it, though, I take a moment or two to reminisce and be grateful for every friend who has walked a ways with me – and I smile.

Come walk with me and be my friend;

Share sunny days, and laughter lend.

Let me hold your hand and cry

When pain and hardships don’t pass by.

Teach me things I need to know,

And I will help you, too, to grow.

My prayer would be that we might stay

Friends until our dying day,

But if our paths cross briefly, still

Our friendship will His purpose fill.

So walk with me and be my friend,

And when our days together end,

Sweet memories I’ll feast upon

And pray for you as I hike on.

©De-De Heeter 2008

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 8:05 am  Comments (4)  
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Cast On Cast Off!

It’s no secret that by the end of the 17 days of Ravelympic project finishing, I wanted nothing more desperately that to cast on something – anything! In fact, I had plenty of good reason to do so, as all my primary projects were off the needles, so I had nothing for audiobook time or movie (or convention speech) time, or travel time. Needless to say, the first moment of knitting time I had when the big event was over, I cast off on a new knitting adventure.

Started project number one was a cinch. I’d put most of my shawl yarn away, but my Thórdís Icelandic Shawl kit was sitting temptingly on the sofa for at least the past two months, and I was hungry to dive into it. I did pause to question my sanity when I read that it required a cast on of 339 stitches, though. One of my smarter moves was to skim through the pattern, and I saw that later on, I was supposed to pick up 339 stitches along that edge. No question what turn that was going to take with me. I used a provisional cast on, which I do in my own special way. The first time I did a provisional, I used a piece of waste yarn and found it less than pleasant to even get the stitches from that onto my needle when the time came. Then I had a brainstorm. Next time, instead of using waste yarn, I used a spare cable from my Knit Picks Harmony needles, then put a cap on each end. It worked like a dream! I think it’s one of the brightest things I’ve come up with in terms of knitting, and I pat myself on the back every time I get to the point of retrieving the live stitches. All I do is remove the cap on one end and screw on my needle tip, and I’m set – 30 seconds! I’m sure others will start doing this eventually – or perhaps even are – but I’m happy to have come up with the idea on my own. :o)

Anyway, back to the cast on… I sure didn’t want to mess this one up, so I put what I believed to be 350 stitches on each needle, separated every 50 stitches by a marker to make it easier to double check myself. I counted it, then counted again as I knit my first row, then compulsively counted one more time. Only then did I take the last 11 stitches off the back end. It took a while, but it was worth it to have the peace of mind it gave me.

In general, this shawl has been moving along very quickly and easily. The pattern is pretty easy, combined with the chart, but I’m not sure I’d like to do without either one. I also believe there are a few errors in the chart, but I’ve become comfortable enough with lace knitting that I’ve been able to sort everything out. I’ve even had a first with this. After discovering an error that only I would see, but which would drive me nuts, I let 10 stitches drop for 8 rows, picked up the ninth row and re-knit that section, which, of course, had to be all in a lace segment. It took me about 90 minutes to get it right, but I’m so proud of myself for being brave and conquering something new, that the shawl almost became secondary to the achievement! I’m now working in the top section, which is a very easy to remember solid Shetland type pattern, so no patterns and quick knitting – and the rows are becoming blessedly shorter by 8 stitches every two rows. This is the perfect kick back and relax project for me, and I’m loving it!

A few days after that, it was time to cast on for my tote along/video time project. My problem was that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for this one. I finally settled on a simple razor shell scarf from Crystal Palace Kid Merino – very fuzzy lace on size 9 needles. I figured I should set it up and get comfortable with the pattern here at home before it started traveling with me. Turns out that was a very good idea. For some reason, I kept making little mistakes in my work, and as easy as the pattern was, I can’t figure why. Tinking was a nightmare, frogging impossible. I hated the way it was looking, despite having loved the one on display at Fiberworks. I gutted it out through 10 inches, willing myself to love my own just as well, but I was getting a strong urge to see if it would flush, so finally accepted that it was time to stop. I worked it back into yarn, and listed it on Ravelry dirt cheap, along with all the rest of the Crystal Palace Kid Merino I’d purchased. There are no two ways about it; I just hate knitting with super fuzzy yarn. :o* No gorgeous fluff of angora shawl for me, I’m afraid… My decision to frog the whole thing was so sudden and spontaneous that I didn’t realize until after the fact that I’d not even taken a picture…

Now it was back to the drawing board for an easy to take along project. I’m not comfortable enough with socks to tote those, yet, so I finally thought to cast on for a Baby Surprise Jacket from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s beloved pattern. Before you ask, no, there are still no grands on the way, but I’ve been itching to try this pattern since I first discovered it. The fascination of turning a knitted amoebus into a jacket enchanted me, and I thought with it being all garter stitch, it might travel well. I have a whole tub full of yarn bought for BSJ’s, so the biggest problem was deciding which was first. I finally settled on some Queensland Bebe Cotsoy, which I have to say is pure delight to have running through my fingers, and it’s adding more than a little energy to an already addictive pattern. My first big mistake was trying to cast on and set up the project while watching The Hunt For Red October, and it ended up taking me most of the movie before I was actually knitting. However, I’m buzzing right along now – if we don’t mention the 10 rows I frogged when I discovered that I’d slid by one stitch on my decrease. I know… I could have just slid back and been the only one who noticed it, but my grandma does this whisper in my ear bit from beyond the grave, so I fix whenever I possibly can. Thanks, Grandma…

Anyway, this isn’t going to be my tote along either, as I know full well that I’d knit right past the increase or decrease spot, and I have to keep too close of an eye on which row I’m working. It’s great for movie time, though, and I find myself wishing we’d watched the other political party’s convention, so I’d have had more speeches to knit through.

I’ve grown fond of picking up my sock project when I just want to knit for a few minutes or am listening to a knitting podcast. And I’ve also now spoiled myself rotten. I’d heard over and over again that once a person actually puts on a pair of handknit socks, they’ll be sold. I don’t know that I would guarantee it happens to everyone, but I’m totally smitten! I can scarce bear to take my one and only pair off, so it was mandatory that another pair go on my needles asap. After some debate, I decided my second pair would be another of Cat Bordhi’s patterns, since the Coriolis fit me so beautifully. Then I pawed through my sock yarn tubs for a ridiculous length of time and finally settled on some Panda Wool in a gorgeous brown and burgandy. The Fountain Foxgloves I’d chosen suggested the standard toe, and being one to like learning new things, I thought that was a good thing. I did my swatch, then figured out what I was supposed to do, grabbed two of my size 0 DPN’s and went for it with a Judy Becker Cast On, which I’m quite fond of, I will add. Seems it’s a good thing I’m fond of it, because picking up my needles was the last sane thing that happened for quite some time. The chore at hand was simply to put 6 stitches on each of two needles, knit down one and up the other, then back down again. Yeh… right… It turned out to be one of those times that I’m glad my hair was tied back. Otherwise, it would have been standing straight out on end like some gigantic halo, which based on my mood at the time, I most certainly didn’t deserve. I can’t ever remember having such a fight with my knitting, even with the first project I tried – self taught! One or another needle would pop out, stitches were committing suicide at an alarming rate, and I can now do Judy’s cast on with my toes, I’ve done it so often. However, I persevered, and after two hours, I was actually four rows into the toe increases – and breathing normally again. I tucked my little treasure away and put a few rows on my BSJ to unwind.

No, that’s not the end of the story…

The next day, with my car finally home from the mechanic, I decided I’d best make that run to my not quite so local yarn shop an hour away. An hour driving alone gives me too much time to think, and one of the things I thought was that it was going to take me a whole lot longer to make a pair of socks with dark brown yarn on size 0 needles with 9.5 stitches per inch than it took using medium dark blue at 7 stitches per inch – and I want new socks fast right now. So I forced myself (Wanna buy a bridge?) to buy another sock’s worth of Merino 5 while I was laying in some much needed laceweight yarns and some short DPNs and… Well, that’s another story…

Anyway, I dug my size 3 needles out again that evening, and checked my cast on numbers for the largeer gauge socks. As I started to put the requisite 10 stitches on each needle, I stopped dead in my tracks. 10??? Then it hit me… Two hours of wrestling with that sock the night before, and here I’d been supposed to cast on a whole lot more than 6 stitches – 12, to be precise. No, I don’t have a photo of the deceased sock toe in brown, either. Frogging it while humming taps gave me a moment to rethink things, though, and when I put the yarn up, I decided to dig out my two size 3 circular needles. Part of the struggle on that toe had been that I was trying to knit on one of two needles that was splinted to another, and if I used the circs, the “other” would be a flexible cable. I was right; it worked much more easily, and I actually got to keep my very first cast on!

This picture shows a rather embryonic sock. I’m getting close to the end of the toe increases now – thankfully. Absolutely no disrespect intended to those of you who love working socks on circs, but I have to say that I just plain do not. In fact, it drives me nuts – as far as that happens to be… It just seems so fiddly to have to push the stitches across the cable and up onto the other end of the needle constantly, and I find it more difficult to guard against laddering, too. I can’t wait to get past the increases and change back to my beloved DPN’s. I’m glad someone invented the technique of working on circs, as it unquestionably saved me on this project. I’ll use it as needed, I’m sure. And I certainly am not going to be judgemental toward anyone who prefers it – so long as they don’t give me a bad time for my DPN’s. I’ll even happily teach others how to do it. It’s just not my first choice for socks, and I’m in this for the fun!

And, I’m finally back to working on my spinning wheel! Yippee!!! Just wait’ll you see her!

Now what am I going to use for a tote along project???? Sigh… Suggestions?

I Can’t Shake the Feeling…

No matter how many times I started to write this post over the last few days, I just can’t shake this feeling of being a hamster. Lest you think I’m totally nuts… well…

If you’ve ever had a pet hamster, you may have noticed that they have an inborn hobby of trying to find a way out of the confines of their cages. Let’s face it, though. The average hamster’s life consists on eating, sleeping, and running endlessly on a wheel going nowhere, and that’s not what God designed them to do. Originally, they had to hunt for food, escape predation, and seek safe shelter, which would be more than enough to keep them busy full time. So, our little caged buddies want a life. Can you blame them? Of course they want to escape that existance in a confined box! And when they get out, they vanish into thin air. I don’t quite know how it is that captive born hamsters are so good at it with no training or practice, but once they are out, they excel at avoiding capture. I don’t like it when I’m trying to be the captor, but you do have to admire that trait, if you think about it…

Anyway, if you’ve managed to recapture one of these furry convicts and plunked them down into a freshly cleaned cage after they’ve been out for a few days, you’ve seen them painstakingly explore every square inch to scope out what sort of damage you’ve done to their home, then brisky set about putting it back in order, hiding the best bits of food in one corner, excavating another to reproduce the perfect bed, and, of course, check every nook and cranny just in case there’s an opening they didn’t know about. Then, most likely exhausted, your wee friend curls up in a little ball and goes to sleep.

Perhaps you’ve already gone there with me, but I’m going to say it anyway. I think that most of us live in a cage of our own – four corners, eat, sleep, run on the wheel, and dream of getting out. I don’t think we were really designed for this any more than a hamster. I was unquestionably looking for an escape a month ago. (Well, actually before that, but by the end of July, I was getting pretty desperate – totally sick of anything to do with paint cans or mouse poo.) Along came the Ravelympics, and seeing the opening, I bolted! What a grand feeling to get out of my cage and avoid anything much resembling real life. It felt incredibly good – even if, like the escaped hamster, I missed out on a few meals.

Then it was over. I was caught and plunked back into the cage. Sigh… However, there actually was a bit comfort in going back to normal, whether I want to admit it or not. The first week I dug busily into some of the neglected chores and email, and reassessed where I stood on some of the remodeling projects. And, of course, I cast on my new knitting projects. All in all, I was doing a pretty good job of getting my nest squared away, and though I still wouldn’t mind knitting all day, it wasn’t all that bad.

Until September hit, it wasn’t that bad. I’m not going to go into all the past week brought, but it started out with my brakes going out with no warning when I changed my mind about passing a driver who was putting down a country road and ended with a YahooGroup nightmare that reduced me to tears, and those were just the bookends. Now I’m looking very hopefully toward this coming week, praying for something better!

I do have some things to share here, but will spread them out over the next few days. However, now that I’ve talked at least one of your ears off – or whatever happens to people who read long blog entries – I do want to brag just a bit about my hurdle just crossed (at long last!) You may have noticed that my sewing room project really got logged down shortly after my daughter went home. That’s because I headed back into the corner where I have my sewing desk – and where the mice must have held nightly beer parties, from the looks of things. Not only did they explore every square inch of everything that was out in the open – and there was plenty of that to explore – but they also managed to get inside every closed drawer, which isn’t a pretty picture when you are talking about a sewing desk crammed full of thread and sewing tools and such. If I were rich enough, I’d have opened the drawers, taken an inventory, employed a dumpster, then gone to the store and replaced it all. However, that option wasn’t… well… and option. :o( Instead, I got to pick the stuff out, wash it, sanitize it, scrub the drawers, and reload them at a cost of about 2 hours per drawer. And then there was all that stuff on top… All told, the time investment was at least 14 hours just for the desk and its contents, and I’ve not yet put away everything that I decided didn’t belong in there with my new organization. However, as of last night, my sewing desk has gone from this:

to this!

And for the record, everything you see in the second photo was in the first photo… Nasty, eh? Any wonder I feel mighty good to have it done? :o)

BTW, all the drawers are clean, tidy, and closed!

Published in: on September 8, 2008 at 11:05 am  Comments (2)  
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