Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Part I – NYS Sheep and Wool Festival – RHINEBECK!!!

Can you say ‘overwhelming’? I’m serious; I don’t think I saw half of what was available and I know I saw a lot of stuff. We walked around for about 4 or 5 hours on Saturday (it sure felt like more the next day) and I think I ended up in the same places a few times. In fact, I know I ended up in the same place at least three times. Remember this bit from the last time I posted?

“And as I fondled the fleece – I’m a little weird here as I like the feeling of greasy fleece and I don’t mind the smell, either – she asked me if I’d like a chunk for ‘hand lotion’. I, of course, said sure and she came around and tore off a huge hunk of fleece, much more than I would have taken if she had told me to just pull off some, and gave it to me.

Mike thinks I’m nuts, but I fondled that hunk of fleece all the way back to the car and my hands just felt so soft and nice….but, I REFUSE TO LEARN TO SPIN! I keep saying that and Mike keeps telling me I sound intrigued, and maybe I am, a little…I just don’t need to be learning to spin my own yarn when there is such nice stuff out there for me to buy and there is such nice stuff in my own stash that is just waiting to be knit up into something. I know, excuses will get me nowhere, but I just don’t have the brain space for another new, expensive hobby.”

Do you especially remember the bit about refusing to learn to spin? I have completely blown it. I have been to four different wool festivals this year. There was one vendor at all of them and I always seem to find them; it’s like they call me. That vendor is Golding and they make the most gorgeous drop spindles (and other things, I’m sure, but all I saw were the drop spindles) and stands for the spindles. Their booth always seems to draw me like a magnet, because I never miss stopping there no matter what festival I am at. Well, you guessed it; Golding ( was at Rhinebeck, too, and they had so many lovely hand-carved drop spindles displayed that I just couldn’t resist. The first time we stopped, I stood admiring their pieces for ages, wondering how on earth you worked with them to make yarn. There was a woman there (she may have been one of the owners) who asked if I was interested, and since I had never actually seen anyone use a drop spindle I asked if she’d show me how they worked.

She did.

It looked easy.

It looked relaxing.

It even looked fun.

I caught Mike looking at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears (thank you, Ralphie) and I thought about what I would do with a drop spindle and (very) reluctantly walked away.

Then we went to another booth nearby and I bought 1,000 yards of a lovely medium-weight (I can never get dk and ww and stuff right, except I do know right away what lace-weight and bulky are…) rusty red wool that was so nice and soft and just looked like it would make a great vest or hat and scarf or shawl or something…. you know? And I had to have it, so I bought it and it was the whole dye lot, so I better have enough for whatever I decide to do with it. We left Building A then, and went into the midst of the sheep and the cashmere goats and all of the lovely places to buy wooly and wooly-related goodies and I bought a few little things here and there and ate some lunch and some ice cream and sat and watched people for a bit. We headed over to the buildings near the sheep barns – I was mostly lost, but I think I checked out most of the stuff for sale – and I tried on a felted hat. I loved it, but Mike made such faces that I knew I’d end up hating it because he’d just make a joke every time I wore it. It was a bright green felted bucket-style hat with a brim and had a black and white sheep felted onto it and I thought it was adorable. While I was looking at it, Mike pointed out that I don’t own one article of green winter-wear and I thought about that while I tried it on and then put it back. The style was good, but the color wasn’t right. I hate to admit it, but he was right. I’m going to look for a pattern and make my own, I think, though I only wear hats when it’s really, really cold out. ‘Hat hair’ has never looked good on me…or on anyone else, I suppose.

Then, as we wandered around looking at all kinds of things, I saw someone that I hadn’t seen in ages and we stopped to chat. While we were talking, a woman in a red beret came over and bugged me into being interviewed for her podcast. So, I showed her what I had purchased so far and answered some questions and generally felt like I was making an idiot of myself. But, I will keep checking her site to see if I show up, no matter what I looked like. I mean, if you’re going to be on the Internet, you might as well be yourself and not stress over it, right? The site is and it looks like it’s a recent addition to the online knitting community, with entries from October 2007 being the earliest. There is some good info and you can register to receive updates or subscribe to the RSS feed (Is that right? Even though I have a blog, I still don’t know what the RSS feed thingy is…) or just check the place out without becoming a member at all. Anyway, if you see an interview with a ‘voluptuous’ woman with glasses and dark hair and a tomato-soup-colored orange top with a drawstring neckline, that’s probably me. Don’t judge me too harshly; I’m really kind of shy in person, though you wouldn’t know it from reading my blog. Once I know you, I’ll tell you (almost) anything and I don’t usually cut corners, either. My friends know I ‘tell it like it is’ and they’re used to it. I think I just don’t have that something in my head that says ‘don’t just blurt that out – they might get upset!’. I’m sure I’ve offended people, but I really don’t mean to. I just don’t know when to keep my mouth shut is all…See, I can’t even stop talking when I’m writing!

So, back to the part about ‘I REFUSE TO LEARN TO SPIN!’. The second time I went back to Building A (you’ll remember that Building A is where the Golding booth was? I thought you might...), I again checked out the Golding booth, noting that the woman who showed me how the drop spindle worked seemed to notice that I had been there before, but had decided to let me figure out what I was going to do. I, again very reluctantly, walked away, and found a beautiful nine-piece felted Nativity set, which I ordered and expect to receive any day now. It was just too pretty to resist and I especially had to have it because of the Magi in the set. It came with the Three Kings, or the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, as some people call them, and a camel and I am kind of crazy, because if the Three Kings are part of it, I have to have it. I do have my reasons, nutty as they may seem to some folks. For instance, for years now, I have only sent out Christmas cards with a picture of the Three Kings on the front to my friends and family. When I was little, my Mom always took the first Christmas card she received that had a picture of the Three Kings on it and tacked it up over the inside of the front door and left it there all year until the next Christmas. I thought everyone did that and finally got old enough to notice that it seemed like hardly anyone did it. I asked Mom once why she did that and she told me that if I put the first Three Kings card I got over my front door like that, the Three Kings would make sure I had a good year. So I thought I would help my friends by sending them a card and telling them my Mom’s reasoning. I never wondered where it came from; I just knew that I would always put the first Three Kings card up in my house, no matter what others did, and I still do.

I always tell people about Mom’s tradition the first time I send them a card, and some interesting tales have come out of that. Once, someone told me she put her card up over the door and within a week or two, her husband got a promotion at work. Another time, a woman went away on vacation and met her future husband, so maybe there is something to it, after all. I do have some friends who call me to ask when I’m sending out my cards, because they want to watch for the Three Kings so they can put it right up. And my family and some of my friends now try to be the first to send me a Three Kings card; they don’t know I usually put them all up and leave them all year, just in case. I did try to find out where, if anywhere, this ‘legend’ came from. I even wrote to the Old Farmer’s Almanac and asked them if they knew anything about the Three Kings that might lead someone to put the cards up and they sent me this:

"Thanks for your question.We found this mention about the three wise men and good luck. C.M.B. are the initials of the three Wise Men named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. It is a custom in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Sweden for three boys to visit homes on the Epiphany. The initials C.M.B. are written over the doors of the homes and three crosses are drawn, also. This will bring good fortune in the new year to the people who live there."

Infer what you will; I put my cards up, though occasionally I wonder how my mother, who is Irish, ended up somehow using her own version of a Polish, Czechoslovakian, and Swedish custom. I have to say it’s getting more and more difficult to find Christmas cards with the Three Kings on them; I often check many displays in many different stores before I find something to send to folks. I suppose I’ll have to print my own when I can’t find them anywhere. [I did find a gorgeous card at Barnes & Noble on Friday night while I was on my way to check out my purchase. They really are the nicest cards I've seen in ages; I hope everyone likes them.

Now, back to ‘I REFUSE TO LEARN TO SPIN!’…The THIRD time I went back to Building A, (again, you’ll remember that Building A is where the Golding booth was? I was sure you'd remember this time...), I went right to the Golding booth and looked at all the beautiful drop spindles with so much longing that I must have sighed out loud. The same woman noticed me yet again and I think this time she just knew I was going to buy something, and she thought she’d better give me some advice before I went ahead and spent a fat chunk of change on something I might never learn to work with. First she advised me that I should start with a slightly heavier spindle than the one I was fondling, explaining that it would be easier for me to learn on a slightly heavy spindle. She showed me a very reasonably priced 1.9-ounce brass, cherry, and walnut spindle that felt like it belonged in my hand. It was so warm feeling and I just felt like it was supposed to be mine. Since I had asked her to show me how they worked before, she knew I didn’t know the first thing about using it, so she recommended a ‘Learn to Spin’ kit, which came with a smaller, less expensive spindle, some fiber and a book, “Spin It”, to learn from. We worked out the package with the lovely spindle I was holding instead of the one that came with the set, and I left the booth, blissfully and ignorantly happy, with my pockets lighter by no small amount of money. I could not wait to get home and try it out. Ignorance is bliss.

Part II – Where I find out what I really don’t know how to do

You guessed it; I got home and started reading the book. I’m told that “Spin It” by Lee Raven is actually a very good starting point, but I had a lot of trouble figuring it out. First of all, I think you have to know more than the definitions of the terms to figure out how to do something. You can explain ‘twist’ to me all night, but until I can feel it with my fingers, I’m going to have trouble with the concept. I tried and tried to figure it out and I got such chunks of spoiled fiber that I wanted to cry. Then I had an ‘AHA!’ moment. I opened up my e-mail program and checked for recent mail from my LYS and there it was; a ‘Learn to Spin with a Drop Spindle' class at the Spinning Room (! Then I had to wait for TWO WHOLE DAYS to get hold of them because they were closed on Monday and Tuesday. I drove up to the shop on Wednesday after work and went in to find out if there was room in the class and was very happy to be told that the teacher wouldn’t mind one more student. Now I had to wait until the following Tuesday for the class and I just didn’t know if I could do it. I started looking for on-line tutorials, preferably with video of some kind. That’s how I learned to knit, after all. Thank God for or I would never have figured knitting out at all. Anyway, do you think I could find anything that really told me what I needed to do to get started? Nope. I did try, but I really didn’t have the success I was looking for. Some things just have to be felt to be learned, I think.

Tuesday finally came along and after leaving work, Mike and I grabbed a bite to eat and went over to the Spinning Room for my first class. I was so excited; I felt like a little kid. There were four other women in the class and we were all eager to begin. The teacher, Darla, was so patient and explained things so well and let us look and touch and took us through everything slowly, making sure we all ‘got it’. It was great! In no time, I was actually spinning! I was spinning with pencil roving, so it was coming out ‘perfect’, but I was spinning! Then we got fiber to work with – bundles of roving – and learned to draft the fiber and how to start the thread and wind it onto the spindle. It was so cool! Mike still thinks I’m nuts, but I did my homework, which was to spin for 20 minutes (or more) every day. I had one more class this past Tuesday and I couldn’t wait to go. That night we learned to set the twist and how to ply the yarn and the spindle full of what I thought was horrible stuff turned into actual yarn! Why didn’t I know before that spinning would be so calming? I don’t think about anything but the fiber and the twist and how it all goes onto the spindle. I may not get more involved with this part of working with fiber than spinning with a drop spindle, but it’s a very portable thing and I don’t have to leave it home and I can do it pretty much anywhere I go. It makes me happy; need I say more?

Part III – Update on Mom’s sweater for Christmas

Last time I talked about a pattern I found on called “Sonnet”. I knit it up based on the swatch I had made for “Drive Me Nuts” (see archives for more details, if you dare), and measured twice and laid it all out perfectly on the bed to measure again while I checked the dimensions on the diagram. It all measured up right, so what could be wrong with it? I sewed on the sleeves and sewed up the sleeve seams and I sewed on the perfect buttons I found for it. And just to be safe, I tried it on because if it fits me, it’ll fit Mom.

It won’t fit Mom…

Somehow, though the measurements are correct, and it looks right, it’s become an off-the-shoulder sweater, with the top of the collar just about at nipple-level. I don’t think it would keep Mom warm. So now what? I brought the sweater over to the Spinning Room last Tuesday to see if they could offer any advice. By the way, I have one small problem; I’m out of the yarn I used, except for a small ball I was using to seam it up, so there isn’t any additional knitting I can do with that yarn. Can you see me tearing my hair out by the roots about now? Anyway, I pulled out Mom’s sweater and the lovely women at the shop saw the problem right away. We talked some and I told them that I had a thought that I might pick up the stitches around the neckline with a contrasting color and knit inward, decreasing to a better neckline, and adding a decorative edge. I could then use that same color to add a slight border to the cuffs and the bottom of the sweater to tie it all in together. They thought that might work, but the wool I used for the sweater is 25% Superwash/75% Wool, hand-dyed, and hard to match because I got it at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival in May. Of course; I don’t do anything that comes easy, apparently. I finally settled on some 100% wool in a dark raspberry that will contrast nicely with the heathery raspberry tones of the original wool and might actually work. I had the nerve to start it last weekend while I was watching a hockey game, since I was going to be sitting on my tush all night anyway. I did have some minor issues and ended up ripping back and re-starting twice, but I think I’m on the right track now.

And I figure when the sweater makes me nuts, I can always stop and get out my drop spindle and spin some more…I did that last night and it smoothed me right out. Who knew?

Part IV – Current Projects

Ok, what’s still on my needles?

1. Those damn toe-up socks; I don’t think they’ll ever be done, even though I did pick them up for a little while today for a change from all the other projects.

2. ‘Branching Out’ scarf from (closer to six feet now, so getting there…)

3. ‘Gryffindor House Scarf’ from “Charmed Knits” – so booooooooring; maybe she’ll forget she asked me to make it?

4. Lacy Prairie Shawl from ‘Folk Shawls’ by Cheryl Oberle in a lovely and soft cream-colored alpaca – this one’s about 1/3 done now, so I might actually finish it before winter is over.

5. I did make a pair of felted clogs for Mom, well, the knitting part, anyway. I still have to felt them. And I made a new sole for Mike’s felted clogs; he wears them so much, he wore right through one of them! This time I’m putting the leather soles on both pairs. These are on my radar to felt tomorrow. It’s a holiday, so I’ll be home and I figure I can get them felted and start the drying out so they might actually be ready for Mom by Christmas.

6. I also started another ‘sweater-less yoke’ (I don’t know what else to call it) for a friend who saw the one I was wearing the other day and admired it. In cubicles, there are blowers in the ceiling that you can’t control that blow cold air down on your back, and this little knitted thingy – I don’t know what to call it – is just a knitted in the round from the bottom up, decreased for the neck, ‘sweater-less yoke’ for lack of a better term. It just covers my shoulders and my upper back and keeps the drafts off of me.

I don't think that's all, but it's all I can think of for now. Looking at that list, I really have to get something finished.

Part V – Me again

Work is better; I decided to be the ‘adult’ in the group and I went in one day and just acted like all the crap that had gone down already just didn’t happen. It worked, for some reason. We are still on somewhat precarious footing, as I’m kind of unsure of what will set her off, but I’m getting through it. Now when she tries to change something, I explain why the procedure is there in the first place to make sure she understands what’s going on before she goes off changing things she doesn’t understand. It seems to be working, but keep your fingers crossed for me.

I still have my ‘down’ days, but I’m dealing with them better, I think. The doc has upped one of my meds and is sending me for a bunch of bloodwork tomorrow. With the gastric bypass, they shortened my small intestine by 210 cm, so I don't absorb nutrients like regular folks. They watch to see what I'm deficient in and how the meds are working. Right now, I'm anemic (iron-deficient), deficient on zinc, vitamins A, B-12, D, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and I can't think what else. I do know I take about a zillion pills every morning and evening, and I'm still having deficiency issues. So keep your fingers crossed that I don't acquire any new pills after tomorrow because by the time I take them all, I don't care if I eat because I'm already full.

Money is tight and I did think for a while that I wasn’t going to be able to go to Rhinebeck, or at least that I wasn’t going to be able to buy anything, but that worked itself out. On the Thursday before the festival, I stopped to get gas for the car and picked up a few scratch-off lottery tickets. Imagine my surprise when one of them was a winner – $1,000!!!! I was able to get a few things taken care of that I had been worried about and also didn’t have to worry about what I wanted to buy at the festival! I really think that’s one of the reasons I bought the Golding spindle. I wasn’t afraid to spend the money because it was ‘found’ money and not earmarked for a bill or something.

Chloe is not knitting, but I’m ok with that. Mom was making herself nuts with needles, so I bought her a Knifty Knitter set and she’s having a ball. I printed her off some patterns from the Internet, and she’s just going to town. I gave her a bunch of yarn that I had so she could make some scarves and things and she really seems to like it. I think it’s easier for her and she's having fun with it, so what the hell?

You’ve been kind enough to read my ramblings, but I think it’s time to quit for a bit. Remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Part I – The end of being driven nuts – $%&#@%$ sweater frogged!

Well, I did it…I frogged the ‘Salt Peanuts’/’Drive Me Nuts’ sweater on September 20th. I finally listened to all the folks who were saying how stubborn I was being (they all said it in a much nicer way than that, though) and figured out that the only person going nuts here was ME. So, I frogged the whole thing, good parts and all, and re-wound the wool into nice, new cakes of lovely raspberry pink projects-to-be. Then I went looking for a pattern and found a nice, easy, not so nuts pattern on called ‘Sonnet’. It’s a lovely pattern by Kristi Porter and it’s based on some simple calculations after you knit a swatch to determine your gauge. I know, I know… knit a swatch? What’s that? Well, I decided a long time ago that I really have to knit a swatch whenever I do a pattern because I’m the only person I know who has knit a 35-pound tarp, I mean poncho, because I believed them when they wrote that ‘gauge doesn’t matter for this project’. WRONG! At least for me, it mattered or it seemed to, anyway. You could have covered a Volkswagen with that poncho…

So, all that being said, I really didn’t have to knit a swatch for this pattern. I had already knit one up for the frogged sweater and I still had it in my knitting bag so I pulled it out and started from there. ‘Sonnet’ is a square-ish sweater that is knit from side to side, knitting the sleeves separately and sewing them on later. Minimal finishing and that just sounds so good to me at this point. This sweater will be perfect for my Mom, who is always chilly when she’s downstairs in her house and she’ll love the color, too. The neckline is not too high, and Mom doesn’t like things tight around her neck, so I think it will all work out perfect in the end.

I started 'Sonnet' the next night after my trip to the frog pond, and I’m very happy with the way it’s turning out. I’ve only got one small problem and I think I know how to fix it. When I was starting the left front last night, I noticed that the box stitch section – the rest is garter stitch, how easy is that? – did not appear to be in the same place on the left as it was on the right, so I laid out the sweater on my bed according to the diagram with the pattern and went over the directions to see what I’d done. Lo and behold, there it was; I had somehow missed knitting a 4-½ inch section of garter stitch on the right front. I was checking off the pattern very carefully, too, I thought, but I missed it just the same.

Now, with my previous history of sweater frustration (see also ‘Cherry Bomb’, now a felted bag and ‘Salt Peanuts’ as noted above), you might think I would consider this to be a setback, but no, I won’t let it be. I ‘adjusted’ the pattern so that the pattern stitches match on both sides and I will pick up stitches on the right front and knit those 4-½ inches right back in because it’s just garter stitch and I think I can make it work. Besides, the buttons will be on that side, so it will be underneath the button band, and Mom might not need it to be that big, so I might not have to add in the entire 4-½ inches. As long as it turns out symmetrical, Mom will love it because I made it for her. That sounds conceited, but Mom is like that. Also, I found some lovely buttons at a LYS that was going out of business that will be just perfect for this sweater.

Part II – More wooly adventures…

This last weekend, Mike and I went to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, NY. We go to this festival every year and have done so for about 10 years now. It’s grown from a small, farmers market/craft fair kind of thing with really good food to a huge, farmers market (with top prices)/ craft fair (with top prices) with mostly really good food (at top prices) and it’s now too big to have fun at any more. We nearly lost each other a couple of times and I didn’t even buy any garlic. Fortunately, I got lots of garlic earlier at the Vermont Garlic Festival in Bennington over Labor Day weekend, so I’m not going to run out, I hope. The food was pretty good, at least the selection of food they weren’t out of was, but the crowds were just no fun. They really need to consider a bigger venue for this festival. I bet there were 30 or 40,000 people there on Sunday alone. We had to take a shuttle bus from the car to the grounds because we were parked so far away! Anyway, this part is titled ‘More wooly adventures’ and you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m going on about garlic, right?

Well, just as we had made up our minds that we didn’t want to stick around any more because we couldn’t even make our way around the farmer’s stalls easily because of the crowds of people, I spotted it! WOOL! Spun wool in the loveliest faded denim blue and sunflower yellow in a big basket at one of the garlic farmer’s stalls. That farmer and his wife also had fleeces and other sheepy goodies, but I ended up buying four nice hanks of yarn, two each of the yellow and the blue, and since they are 100% wool, I think I’ll make some slippers and felt them. I think the blue on the bottom and the yellow on the top will be lovely. And as I fondled the fleece – I’m a little weird here as I like the feeling of greasy fleece and I don’t mind the smell, either – the farmer’s wife asked me if I’d like a chunk for ‘hand lotion’. I, of course, said ‘sure’ and she came around to the front of the stall and tore off a huge hunk of fleece, much more than I would have taken if she had told me to just pull off some, and gave it to me.

Mike thinks I’m nuts, but I fondled that hunk of fleece all the way back to the car and my hands just felt so soft and nice…but, I REFUSE TO LEARN TO SPIN so I won't be more than fondling that fleece or any other! I keep saying that I won't spin and Mike keeps telling me that every time I say it I sound a little more intrigued by the process, and maybe I am, a little…I just don’t need to be learning to spin my own yarn when there is such nice stuff out there for me to buy and more importantly, there is such nice stuff in my own stash that is just waiting to be knit up into something. I know, excuses will get me nowhere, but I just don’t have the brain space for another new, expensive hobby.

Part III – Current Projects

Let’s see; what is on my needles right now?
§ ‘Drive Me Nuts’, formerly known as ‘Salt Peanuts’; Replaced with ‘Sonnet’ for Mom;
§ Toe-up socks that I can’t seem to get around to finishing; (still…)
§ ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty (about five feet long, still almost done…);
§ ‘Gryffindor House Scarf’ from “Charmed Knits”; this one is all stockinette, in the round…ho-hum, boring as all get out after about two rows, but it’s spoken for, so I have to finish it; (thank God it’s hockey season – maybe I’ll get around to finishing this during a game, though my gauge might change if the game gets really intense!)
§ Lacy Prairie Shawl from ‘Folk Shawls’ by Cheryl Oberle in a cream-colored alpaca – so soft and slippery and warm that I can’t wait to get it around my shoulders during the winter (not much bigger than the original picture as I’ve only done a few rows because I let myself go so crazy on ‘Drive Me Nuts’);
§ A fun and funky scarf for a Christmas gift that is easy and fun to make (picture posted – see above for why it's not finished either...);
§ Various washcloths, etc., for spa sets, as Christmas gifts for friends at work; and
§ A couple of scarves that never seem to get done, though I work on them what seems like a lot.

Part IV – Me again

Work is still a bit difficult; the person they hired to help me out isn’t…She seems to think it’s beneath her to even talk to me. Oh well, I printed up the ‘Attitude’ e-mail that got sent to my BusyKnitting group and posted it on my cubicle wall and I just keep referring to it whenever she starts in. I mean, really, how do you deal with someone who takes everything you say as a personal insult? I can’t even leave work on her desk that she knows she’s supposed to do; she goes in and whines to the boss that I’m abusing her. If I tell her the sky is blue, she says it’s green; if I tell her the correct procedure, she tries to change it to suit her needs, not the needs of the unit. Oh well, enough venting about work. Update: had a little conversation with my boss late this afternoon; apparently the tension is getting noticeable and the comfort level in the office is going down. He understands me as we've been working together for ages and she just got here a few months ago and in speaking to both of us, he seems to think it's somehow her that's the problem...DUH...I told him that I guessed I would have to be the adult, even though she's in her 40's, and see if I could bury the hatchet (and not in her head, either!). I'll try to work with this woman because I need to keep my sanity and my job, and because she's not driving me out of a job I've had for over 30 years! Keep your fingers crossed, all, and pray for my sanity!

I’m still busy and have lots of stuff to do at work, so the days go by fairly quickly. I was hoping to get some overtime in before Rhinebeck, but it’s not looking like I’ll be able to do that, so I’ll have to content myself with fondling and not buying that much this year. Cash is a bit tight, but I’ll pull myself up and not waste as much as I have been and that will help.

The knitting lessons for Mom and Chloe went ok. I mean Chloe is just turned 8 years old and her attention span is about 5 seconds at a time. Mom didn’t turn off the TV while we were having lessons and Chloe just couldn’t get the hang of knitting as she was looking over her shoulder at the TV more than at the knitting in her hands. Mom used to knit – which I didn’t know – and remembered fairly quickly how to do it, but she tends to knit extra stitches into her projects or drop some occasionally and needs checking on periodically. She’ll be ok, though I don’t have much hope for Chloe just yet. She wants to learn, but can’t sit still long enough to try to do it. I guess I’ll keep up the lessons until they either learn or give up.

Well, I think I’ve bored on enough for this time…remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Part I – A pretty good month

So, here I am, back again. I had what I would call a pretty good month. Well, if you don’t include the ‘Salt Peanuts’ sweater… I’ve re-named that pattern; I now call it ‘Drive Me Nuts’. All the lovely folks I have discussed this $%&#@%$ sweater with on the knitting boards I belong to must think I’ve absolutely gone out of my mind. This sweater is taking over my life. I’ve frogged and re-written and frogged and re-written over and over and still I’ve only completed the back and part of the left front. The back was ridiculously easy and gave me no idea of what was in store for me when I started the left front. The pattern directions were, to say the least, unhelpful. I tried to write out the instructions line for line, thinking that would help me figure the pattern out. When I knitted up my ‘new’ directions, it just didn’t look like the gorgeous sweater in the picture. So I ripped it all out, re-wound my ball of wool, and read through the pattern again.

Then I re-wrote the instructions, making sure I used the original pattern and not my first effort at figuring it out on paper, and started knitting yet again. This time I only knitted up the ribbing and a couple of inches of the front before I figured out that something just did not look good. Once again, I had gotten it wrong. I thought the ‘selvedge’ stitches would be on the edge that was to be sewn to the back. I was wrong. That edge was supposed to be straight stockinette stitch so I could sew it correctly, if I ever got it made up. So that was one thing wrong. Then, in discussing the pattern with some of my Stitch’n Bitch group, we figured out that the two selvedge stitches should be along the front edge, which makes for a nice flat edge. Makes sense, right? But when I looked over the directions, I couldn’t figure out if the pattern stitches would take up five stitches in addition to the two selvedge stitches or if the five stitches would be the total of the pattern including the selvedge stitches.

When some helpful folks on my favorite group, BusyKnitting, posted the link to a KAL (Knit-A-Long, for the uninitiated) for this very sweater, I went and checked it out. Apparently, all the folks who knitted this sweater have interpreted the pattern in their own ways and there were lots of solutions presented. I tried a couple of them, but frogged them all. I finally gave in and completely re-wrote the pattern, figuring out my own solution. I went through my stitch dictionaries and found a lace rib that was very similar to the pattern in the sweater and re-wrote the left front portion of the pattern using it. I’m happy with the way the left front of this sweater looks now and it will definitely fit with the back that I’ve already completed. My biggest problem now is whether or not I’ll be able to make the right front of the sweater match the left front. I have made tons of notes to myself on ‘my’ version, just so I don’t forget exactly what I’ve done, so keep your fingers crossed. I would cross mine, but it makes it difficult to knit… ;o) Anyway, before I started this sweater I really thought I could consider myself an ‘intermediate’ knitter, but not if this is the pattern I’ll be judged by, that’s for sure.

Part II – What I did on my summer vacation…

I didn’t really take much in the way of vacation time, but made the most of what time I did take. Mike and I went to a couple (really three) of wool/fiber festivals over the summer, though I’m still saving my pennies for Rhinebeck in October. We went to a couple of air shows, too, and had a great time. The weather has cooperated beautifully with all our plans this year. Since that rarely happens, I’m enjoying it while I can. We went up north to the Lake Placid area a couple of weekends and even the long drive up there and back was lovely.

This last weekend we went to Syracuse on Saturday, then drove to Geneseo, NY for Saturday night, and on to Hemlock for the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival on Sunday. That was a very nice little fair, though it seemed to be much more geared to spinners and weavers than knitters. I still got some lovely goodies and have posted pictures for your viewing pleasure. I picked up some fabulous 50% wool/50% alpaca in cream and now have to find the perfect pattern for an Aran sweater to use it on. I’ve always wanted to try my hand on an Aran sweater. My grandmother was from Ireland and we always had lovely hand-knitted sweaters growing up. She didn’t knit them, but she brought them home from Ireland when she visited. I think some of her sisters and sisters-in-law were cottage-industry hand-knitters so she could always get a fairly good price. Anyway, I’d like to try to make one myself. I’ve done cables and I really enjoyed doing them, even the ‘fiddly’ ones. I just love the way they come out looking in a sweater. I want to find a cardigan as I have a problem with anything that’s even a tiny bit close to my neck – for some reason, it feels like I’m choking when my neckline is too close. Oh well, I think a cardigan is probably more versatile anyway, at least for me. I probably won’t start anything until after the holidays anyway, so I’ll have lots of time to look for something just right.

Part III – Current Projects

Let’s see; what is on my needles right now?

  1. ‘Drive Me Nuts’, formerly known as ‘Salt Peanuts’ (pictures posted);

  2. Toe-up socks that I can’t seem to get around to finishing because I just don’t like socks, I think;

  3. ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty, about five feet long, so that’s almost done;

  4. ‘Gryffindor House Scarf’ from “Charmed Knits”; this one is all stockinette, in the round…ho-hum, boring as all get out after about two rows, but it’s spoken for, so I have to finish it;

  5. Lacy Prairie Shawl from ‘Folk Shawls’ by Cheryl Oberle in a cream-colored alpaca – so soft and slippery and warm that I can’t wait to get it around my shoulders during the winter (picture posted);

  6. A fun and funky scarf for a Christmas gift that is easy and fun to make (picture posted);

  7. Various washcloths, etc., for spa sets, as Christmas gifts for friends at work; and

  8. A couple of scarves that never seem to get done, though I work on them what seems like a lot.

So I just have a few things going on, right? At least I can’t get bored; all I have to do is pick up something else and I’ll have to use my brain again, right?

Part IV – Me again

I think I need to see the doc; I seem to be having some minor issues though they could be the result of the situation at work and not the meds. I’ll have to talk to her and see what she thinks. I’m not losing, but I’m not gaining and that’s a good thing so I won’t complain about my weight. I’ve resigned myself to always being a ‘voluptuous’ woman – doesn’t that sound better than a fat broad? – and as long as I’m healthy, I really can’t kick about it. Work is very hectic right now; a lot of high-profile projects and I’m busy all day, but that’s ok, too. I’d rather be busy than sit there twiddling my thumbs, know what I mean? The day goes by faster when you’re busy, that’s for sure. I plan to get some knitting in tonight; I really have to get close to finishing the left front of ‘Salt Peanuts’ so I can start the right front and make sure they match as best I can.

Almost forgot: I made some washcloths for Mom and she ended up giving a couple to her great-niece Chloe (7 years old) because she really liked them. Now Mom wants me to teach her and Chloe how to knit. My patience is a little thin sometimes, but I’m going to give it a shot. I think some straight garter stitch on size 8 US needles ought to work out fine, don’t you? I figure once they have garter stitch down, I can teach them ‘Grandmother’s Favorite’ and that’ll be really easy for them and result in a nice cloth. I picked up some Peaches’n Crème (about 10 balls) at a yard sale for $1 (white only) and some colors on sale at Michaels or A.C. Moore (can’t remember) so they’d have something to work with and I have two pair of needles that I don’t need, so I didn’t need to buy them. Chloe also wondered if she could make a scarf… I think I can manage that. I also have a couple of balls of lavender Debby Bliss Cashmerino that I got for free, so I think that might be a nice scarf for Chloe. Wish me luck, and remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

Part I – the continuing saga…

Let’s see, it was the end of July the last time I was here. So much has happened since then that I’m not sure where to start. We went off to another air show in the Adirondacks a few weeks ago and the best part of the trip was the visit to the local yarn emporium in Saranac Lake. The air show had about 11 planes and we saw two of them fly. Fortunately, we only paid $2 each to get in, the weather was nice, and we had a lovely ride up and back. The yarn I bought was absolutely gorgeous – an almost crimson red colorway that’s a thick-and-thin yarn. It’s called ‘Painted Lady’ from Hand Paints by Catalina and it’s a superfine merino wool bulky. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but I’m sure it will make its designs known to me somehow. The following week we went back up into the Adirondacks to go to a huge flea market in Tupper Lake, which is above Lake Placid. The weather was cool and dry and it was just a wonderful day.

We strolled from booth to booth, looking at all the ‘antiques’ and other stuff for sale. Mike found a few goodies for himself and I found an old binder of knitting patterns that was one of those binders that you get a package every month or so that adds to the book. I think they still do that with some cookbook-type stuff. The patterns are so 60’s, but there are some cute toys and sweaters in there and you can’t go wrong for $1, right?

Late in the day, I was checking out a glass washboard that I thought might be useful for hand felting. I figure I could use it towards the end of the process when I might like to have a bit of control. Anyway, it was marked $18 and I was holding it up and wondering to myself if the guy might take $15 when he yelled over, “$10 and it’s yours!” I told him immediately that I’d take it. When I went to pay him, he asked me what he had marked for the price and when I told him $18 he groaned. His friend was laughing at him and telling him he “lost money on that one.” We all laughed and I dug out a $20 bill to pay him. Once I had my change safely in my pocket, I told him that I had been thinking about offering him $15 when he told me he’d take $10. He groaned, his friend laughed, and I walked away feeling like I’d picked up a bargain. Then, at the very last booth, when I was beginning to feel positively boggled by the amount of merchandise being offered for sale, I looked at something and it never registered. Mike was looking at stuff on the same table as I walked away and he called me to come back and look at something. My non-knitting love of my life found an antique swift! I hadn’t even recognized it for what it was and here the non-knitter spots it immediately! Go figure. Well, it was marked $3 and the gentleman asked me if I knew what it was and when I told him it was a swift, he said, “$2 for you, since you know what it is.” So I bought it. It works great and it’s so light, the yarn never gets pulled too tight while you’re winding. It expands and contracts to fit most size hanks and I’m glad Mike saw it for me.

Part II – ‘Salt Peanuts’ and other wooly projects

I’m still having some trouble finishing up some things. I do knit every day, though I can’t seem to knit on the same project for too long at one time. I get tired of working the same stitches over and over and pick up another piece for the change of pace. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m still going nuts over Veronik Avery’s pattern ‘Salt Peanuts’. It’s an absolutely beautiful cardigan with a lace rib border and a shawl collar. I’d really like to finish it up and wear it this winter, if it doesn’t make me absolutely crazy first.

The back was easy…maybe too easy, because it gave me no idea of how difficult the rest would be to knit. The pattern is supposed to be for an intermediate knitter, but from what I’m going on, I’d give it an advanced rating. Maybe I’m not as good a knitter as I thought I was, but I think this pattern is either some level beyond my skills or it’s so badly written that it’s impossible to get it without help. I’ve already taken this five-page pattern and re-written the instructions into nearly 18 pages. The left front directions are giving me a LOT of trouble right now. I’ve knit and frogged and knit and frogged until I’m sure the yarn will be a mess before I can get it knit into the cardigan. I decided this morning that I would work on the pattern notes, but knit them up into a swatch so that I could rip with impunity when I needed to. Doing it that way, I came up with a way to knit the left front (and probably the right front as well) so that the pieces will match up to the back. I’ve already got 25 rows of my re-write knitted and I really think this will work out this time.

So now I come to the question: when does it go from being her pattern to mine? I’ve completely altered the edging of the cardigan and I’m going to have to completely alter the collar pattern so that I can make it work. I’ve re-written the left and right fronts of the pattern so many times now, that I feel more like it belongs to me than to the author. This time, I went through my stitch dictionaries and found a lace rib that is not the same, but is close enough so that I can work with it to finish the sweater. I’ll post some pictures and let others tell me what they think.

Part III – on the needles

Let’s see, the toe-up socks are still not done. I just find I’m not nuts about doing them. I pick them up now and then, but I never seem to get past a row or two of the cuffs.

I frogged the original shawl I was working on in the alpaca because I didn’t mark the pattern and couldn’t figure out where I was any more. I’ve since started another one from “Folk Shawls” by Cheryl Oberle. This one is the ‘Lacy Prairie Shawl’ and I think it’s working out well. It’s a nice easy project and I can carry it with me for now. It’s done with increases every row, so it will eventually get big enough to leave at home to knit, but for now, I consider it a portable project.

My ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty is still going strong. I try to do a couple of repeats (10 rows is one repeat) whenever I can, but I have to concentrate a lot because the pattern is ‘busy’ and I tend to forget the occasional yo. I really have to count every st of every row to make sure I’ve got it right. That way I know I won’t have to rip out more than one row at a time if I make a mistake.

I’m also still working on the Gryffindor House Scarf from “Charmed Knits.” It’s knit in the round, stockinette, and it gets very boring very quickly, though I think it’ll be ok once hockey season starts because I won’t have to pay too much attention to it while I’m watching the games.

Now I must remind myself that Christmas is coming and I haven’t really started any gifts yet. I’m thinking about doing felted clogs for my stepdaughter and her family and maybe for Mom, but only if I can get Mom’s to be non-slip. Mom is kind of wobbly and slippery bottom slippers won’t be a good thing for her. I made the clogs for Mike and me last year and they came out really well. They are toasty warm without making your toes all sweaty and I think they’ll like them. I’d also like to make some spa sets for a few of the gals at work. I think they’d like them and I’m hoping they’ll be fast knits. I figure I can pick up some nice ‘smelly’ soap to put in the box, too.

Part IV – me again
I’m doing better this month. The meds are still doing their happy thing and I’m feeling pretty good. Work is a bit difficult, but it’s a personality conflict type of thing with the new person. We’ll work it out, I’m sure. If we don’t, it’s her loss, not mine. She’s the one with the issues, after all.

As always, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Part I – Where does the time go???

I can’t believe that it’s been over a month since I’ve been here! I know I’m not the best correspondent in the world, but really, that long? Since that time, the NHL playoffs finished up – I ‘met’ a really nice person in CA who was able to get me some really good Ducks souvenirs as she went to one of the Finals games. We started chatting on-line and found a lot in common, but mostly that we are both certifiable hockey nuts! I thought I would try to knit her up a hat and scarf, but Mike pointed out that she might not have much use for them in southern CA, so we had a good laugh over that. I still think I’ll figure something out. I’d like to do something nice for her as she went to a lot of trouble to pick out good stuff and mail it to me here in NY. Maybe a light-weight cotton ‘scarf’ that she could use as an accessory, even in sunny and warm CA? Hmmmm, I’ll have to think about it and check out some patterns.

After all the sock yarn I’ve purchased recently, I seem to have gone off socks. I’m finding that I’m really not crazy about the Cascade Fixation I bought tons of; it’s just too stretchy and I don’t like the feel of the socks it makes. I’ll have to think of something else to make with it. I know there are lots of patterns on their website, so that’s more looking around for me to do. I have to wind the other sock yarn I purchased. Fortunately, as soon as I bring yarn home from anywhere I put it into Ziploc bags and squeeze all the air out. I found a small infestation of flour moths in my pantry goods – I’m sure you know what I mean – and I’ve heard that they do get into fibers as well, so I went ballistic checking out my whole stash. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have gotten into anything wooly….whew!! Of course, I had to toss most of the pantry out, clean it completely and now I’m working on getting air-tight storage containers for everything I buy that they might want to get into.

I don’t seem to have finished much stuff up though I knit every night. I can’t seem to stick to just one project. I have a bunch going right now; I’m even carrying two of them to work with me just in case I get time to knit during my lunch break. Here’s the current count:

(1) I’ve got a pair of socks to finish (I’m on the cuffs of toe-ups);

(2) a shawl in a gorgeous natural creamy alpaca about 1/3 done;

(3) my ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty is about four feet long (maybe a couple feet more will do it);

(4) I’m working on a Gryffindor House Scarf from the book “Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter”; and

(5) I finally found a pattern for the hand-dyed pink/raspberry yarn I bought in Massachusetts – it’s the ‘Salt Peanuts’ pattern from ‘Knitting Daily’.

Just a few minor projects, right? All I have to do is finish something, anything now, just so that I’ll know I can actually finish something. I even brought my knitting on vacation with me and to two different air shows; I still haven’t finished anything. I did start to make a top out of a cotton/acrylic blend that looked like it would knit up nicely, but hated the pattern. I ended up frogging the project three or four times, and then finally gave up in disgust. I don’t know what I’ll do with all that lovely yarn – it is really nice – but it sure as hell won’t be that damn sweater I started so many times. It’s a modular-type knit, one of the patterns I bought from ‘Just One More Row’, and the directions are just terrible. I had no trouble figuring out how to do the first square. I could even pick up the stitches and add the second (and third and…) square(s). But when it came down to just what to knit, where, and when, the pattern was sorely lacking in direction. I suppose I could write to the designer, but I’m so frustrated with that pattern that I don’t think I’ll pick it up again for a long time. That’s too bad; because I really like the look of the sweater.

Mike took some pictures of me knitting at the air show in Binghamton, NY and at our favorite air show in Geneseo, NY. We go to Geneseo every year; it’s our mini-vacation in July. I wanted to check out some of the LYS in the area, but I just didn’t seem to get around to it. We had so much fun and the weather was just great that we were outside a lot, even when the air show was over for the day. I got a bit tan, even wearing a #30 sunblock lotion. I also wear a hat and sit under an umbrella during the hottest and brightest part of the day. I tell people I don’t ‘do’ sun; I’ve had skin cancer removed from my head, face, and back about nine times and I’m not a sun-worshipper any more. Besides, who wants to look like leather? I’ll take my few freckles any time.

Anyway, the Geneseo air show is just like going back in time; it’s on a grass airstrip and all the planes are World War I or II – the only jets are the ones that do flyovers for the crowd. This year, we saw two B-17s, four B-25s, tons of T-6s (the most efficient way to turn gas into noise), and P-51 Mustangs. I just love the old planes. If Mike didn’t take pictures with the highest resolution possible – some of his photos are three or four MB – I’d post them here for you to see, but I did take a couple with my little Nikon that came out ok, so check them out. While I was there, I did a bit of knitting – mostly on the previously complained about cotton modular-knit sweater – though I did also work on some other things as well. My diet went down the tubes for that lost weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it! Even the red hots (hot dogs to most of us), sausage & pepper sandwiches, and the salt potatoes on the field were perfect, though I had a little too much fried dough one afternoon….Mike had to finish mine. We get to Geneseo on Friday for the arrivals and leave on Monday morning while the last few are leaving. The first time we went was in 1988 and we’ve missed three shows since then. Once, when there was turmoil within the former group of ‘owners’ of what used to be the National Warplane Museum and they moved the show to Batavia, NY. A second time, because there was no show and the third time because I had surgery on July 1 that year and the show was the weekend of the 12th and I was still recuperating. This is an annual trek for us now and we look forward to it. We know where all the good restaurants are and where to stay; we even make our reservations a year in advance so we can stay right in town. The local hotel fills up pretty quickly with visiting pilots and aircrews, so if we don’t reserve that far in advance we’re likely to not get a room. If anyone wants to check it out, it’s the 1941 Historic Aircraft Group and you can find it at

Part II – me again
I’ve had a bit of a rough time lately. Two weeks before we left for vacation I found out that the credit card I had just paid off had been used to purchase something I didn’t authorize, meaning the number had been stolen. It was ‘fun’ straightening that out, though the customer service was very good and they took care of everything in time for me to go away with a clean new card.

I turned 51 with no ill effects; it didn’t make me crazy at all. The meds are working out and I’m feeling pretty good lately. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in the family in a month – for some reason, I just couldn’t talk to anyone. Thank God I had Mike or I might have gone off the deep end. He does keep me sane and makes me happy to be here. Mom was thrilled when I called her. She knows what I’ve been going through with depression and even though it was very difficult for her, she waited through my issues. We get along a little better now than we did before. My doc thinks that part of my problem is hormonal. I always seem to get worse just before my period. I don’t know if the fact that I seem to be going through menopause and my periods are getting farther and farther apart is helping or if the meds are helping. One of the meds I’m on has been used for PMS symptoms and I’m doing better since she added that to my regimen.

In the meantime, remember: wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tag, you're It!

Thursday, May 31, 2007
I Have Been Tagged !!!! And so Have You!!!! (This is all Penny's fault!)
  1. Each player starts with 8 random facts about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their 8 random things and post the rules.
  3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and post their names.
  4. Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

8 random items:

  1. I am obsessed with really soft beautiful yarns.
  2. I love to fondle yarn and will occasionally buy yarn I have absolutely no use for just because it feels good.
  3. I love Italian food - any Italian food.
  4. I hardly ever seem to finish anything, but the things I finish, I love.
  5. I love a good cup of coffee and drink about 5 or 6 cups a day, sometimes more.
  6. I don't have any children.
  7. I have discovered that I love to knit socks, as long as they are done toes-up.
  8. I went to see the Yarn Harlot yesterday and spent a bunch of money on sock yarn at Webs.

Tagged: Monica, Wendy, Lynn, Nanette, Judie, Bonnie, Donna, and Elsie

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Part I – Sheep and Woolcraft Fairs and yarn and books, oh my!

Yesterday, Mike and I went to the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Cummington, Massachusetts, with a side visit to Webs in Northampton, Massachusetts. We had a great time and I picked up lots of goodies. I took a few nice pictures, some of which I’ll post today, saw a lot of sheep, and fondled a LOT of fiber. Now I can’t wait to go to Rhinebeck! It was not quite like I thought it was going to be, but it was fun, nevertheless. We got there around noon; the admission was $6 a carload, so very reasonable. We parked and then walked down to the barns to see what was what.

The first barn was mostly fiber and fiber-arts related goodies. First thing I saw as I rounded the corner was a gorgeous llama peeking around the edge of the barn at me. She was a beautiful honey brown shade and there was lots of fiber for sale for spinning and knitting. I fondled, but decided to look further before spending all my ready cash so quickly. We went up one side and down the other and checked out all of the goodies for sale. I even took a picture of the best sign I have ever seen: “Please Touch Everything.” How perfect, to be encouraged to come in and fondle all the fiber! Now anyone who knows me knows that I can’t fondle without buying something. I did restrain myself yesterday, or I could have spent much more money than I actually ended up spending (which was still too much...).

I decided that it would be much smarter for me to check it all out before I laid out any cash, so I went on to the next barn, and the next, and the next… I went on and found more and more goodies. I also found more and more sheep; there were all kinds of sheep. I didn’t even know what kinds they were. They never seemed to stop bleating as they were being prepared for their competitions. They did not seem at all happy to be washed and sheared and clipped here and there to make them pretty for the show. I even saw a girl cleaning her ewe’s hooves with a toothbrush! Talk about overkill! I do have to say the sheep were beautifully maintained and seemed to be very well cared for by their various 4-H owners. These kids were so serious about this competition. There were even some adults showing their sheep.

We saw everything from 2-week old lambs to full-grown rams and ewes. Now you might not think that sheep are that interesting, but they were all different. Some of them sounded almost human and they all had different voices. Funny, I never knew so much about sheep. The kids, after carefully shearing and cleaning their sheep, put little covers, or coats on them. I asked one of them what they were for and they carefully explained that it was to keep the sheep clean after all the prep. The sheep always want to lie down in the straw and of course, it sticks in their fleece and makes them messy again so the little coats keep them clean for the showing.

Anyway, it’s about time to get to what I actually did purchase. I fell in love with some sock yarn that came with a miniature sock blocker on a key chain. The sock blocker even came with a pattern for a sock sized small enough to cover it! I picked up a double hank of sock yarn from the same place as well (pictures on the right). I also picked up a book called “Golden Gleanings, Fifty Years of Knitting Ideas” by Joyce Englund. It contains all kinds of information on knitting, including reading patterns, stitches, finishing, and other tips and techniques. A pretty good find, I think. I picked three huge hanks of hand spun and hand-dyed wool from the Sliver Moon Farm ( to make a little something for myself besides socks (picture on the right). It’s a beautiful pink and raspberry colorway that I think will make a lovely sweater or cardigan. I can’t wait to find just the right pattern for it. Each 8-ounce hank contains approximately 560 yards of yarn so I have 1680 yards, give or take a yard.

The only really silly thing I picked up was a set of barrettes with little sheep faces on them. I don’t know that I’ll ever wear them myself, but I thought they were awfully cute so I bought them. Mike did persuade me not to buy a lamb marionette though. I get a little nuts at stuff like that and tend to buy “cute” things that I’ll never use, so it’s a good thing he was with me.

After we got some lunch (lamb-burgers, yum!) and sat a little bit to relax, we went and checked out some of the displays of spinning and weaving. I will NOT get into spinning if I can help it. I just don’t need another hobby that I can’t afford now. I can see myself getting all carried away with it, too, so the smart thing is to run, not walk, in the other direction when someone offers to show me how to do something like spinning. (Do you think I've talked myself out of spinning? I'm hoping this little rant will convince me, too.) Then we checked out the fleeces for sale. Even though I didn’t want to buy a fleece, I wanted to check them out just to see what was what. We were both amazed at the quantity of the fleeces that were available. We were also amazed at the feel of the fleeces. They were kind of greasy to the touch; I assumed it was because of the lanolin, and our hands were so soft afterwards from feeling them. No wonder they put lanolin in hand creams.

After the fair, we went into Northampton, Massachusetts to check out Webs. Check them out at and you’ll see why I wanted to go there. I was totally boggled by the sheer quantity of yarn in the store, and then I went into the back where the warehouse (and the discounted yarn) is. I did find some lovely Rowan cotton that I picked up. I think I bought enough for a summer top, but again, I need to find a pattern. I also found two books in a used bookshop in Northampton as well. “Knitting with Hand-Dyed Yarns” and “The Knitting Directory.” Who could pass them up at under $5 each? I mean, seriously, how could I?

So now I have a bunch of new yarn to add to my stash and wind for projects and I can’t wait. Knitting is just so much fun to me and I’m glad I found that out.

By the way, I finished my SECOND pair of socks and have now started on a third. Can you believe it? Me, that hated socks, am now a nutso sock knitter. I’ve posted pictures so you can see how they turned out. I used Cascade Fixation for this pair in a mint green variegated colorway. I have included some “in-progress” pictures as well as the finished socks on my very own feet for your viewing delight.

Part II – me again
On Tuesday, May 29, I will be 51 years old. FIFTY-ONE! I still can’t believe it. I didn’t tell anyone when I turned 50; round numbers make me crazy. This year, I don’t seem to care. Is that a weird thing?

I’m still having some med issues and the doc has changed the dosages to see if that makes a difference. I did lose about 4 pounds and that’s a good thing. I’m off to wind some yarn and marinate something for dinner tonight and then to the store for picnic stuff for tomorrow. All in all, a busy day is planned, but I guarantee that I will get some knitting in.

Remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Part I –Socks and Age and just thoughts

Well, here I am again. Today is my little sister’s birthday – she’s 50 today, and since I won’t be 51 until the 29th, we’re the same age for about 3 weeks. Mom called us “Irish twins” – no slur intended as I am Irish (and French and probably lots more, but mostly Irish and French). It kind of makes me feel old today that my “little” sister is 50; half a century, and I’m there, too, and soon I’ll be past that. I’m the oldest of three; my brother is younger than my sister by about 15 months. I never thought I’d get to be this “old”. I can remember telling my uncle when he turned 30 that “I could never trust anyone over 30”. He brings it up every one of my birthdays since I turned 30. Anyway, this is supposed to be a knitting blog, so I better get to some knitting content.

Drum roll and fanfare, please!!! I just finished my socks! I finished them during the hockey game this afternoon. My beloved NY Rangers went down in the second round in 6 games to the Buffalo Sabres and today was the last game of the series. Now the Sabres will be going to the Conference Finals, playing against the Ottawa Senators. I suppose I shouldn’t feel so bad; nearly everyone thought the Rangers wouldn’t get this far at all, so every game past the first round was great. Anyway, back to the socks: I’ve been working on them for about 2 weeks now, since I got the “Crazy Toes and Heels” book by Mary Ann Beattie. I must say that I enjoyed doing them and though there are some things I would change, I enjoyed it enough that I have actually cast on another pair already. I need to pay more attention to the length of the foot; mine are just a little too long, but I think that may change a bit once I wash them once or twice.

I’ve posted pictures so you can see how they turned out. I used Lion Brand Magic Stripes for the first pair and I’ve cast on Cascade Fixation for my next pair in a mint green variegated colorway. This is a cotton yarn with some elastic built into the yarn for a bit of stretch. It’s kind of like knitting with rubber bands, but very soft and I think it will make a nice pair of summery socks. I forgot to take pictures of them before I downloaded my pictures into my computer so I won’t be posting anything until next time. I’ll try to remember to take “in-progress” pictures so I can post them when I write again. I’m very proud of the first socks, though. Fun stuff, and I never thought I’d say that about socks!

I’ve also posted some pictures of my stash cubes now that they are all filled up with goodies. I opened up the canvas “drawers” and took photos looking down into them. They are 9-inch square canvas cloth cubes that fit into the storage cubes and have handles on the front so you can use them like drawers in a dresser. I also have some pix of my book, though not all of them, as they won’t all fit on top of the cubes. My latest find is my “Stash” jar. We went garage saling last week and one of the places listed in the paper said they had “contents of a former craft store.” Well, I missed the yarn and needles, but I found the little jar and thought it would be perfect for the top of my stash cubes. I didn’t do as well that week as I did this weekend, though…

Yesterday we went to the local public library’s used book sale. Jackpot! Even if I missed some, I still got lots. I got a whole sack full of knitting books and magazines for $5! I mean a grocery bag full of them, and even if some of them are a little bit dated, they still have bunches of “classic” patterns for men and women. I got some kid’s patterns, too, though I don’t knit for kids because my family’s kids are all grown up. I’ll probably just give those away to someone that I know will use them. I also got a bunch of magazines from another garage sale; they are all Pingouin books, which is a yarn brand I’ve never heard of. They are not dated, but have numbers in the lower right corner of the covers. They were apparently given free with the purchase of that brand of yarn.

You should see some of the patterns in these Pingouin “magazines.” They are just beautiful and the magazine contains foldout charts and some very high-end pattern goodies. I picked up about 20 of them, all they had, for $1.50! I think the luck was with me yesterday, as I don’t usually see anything related to knitting. Some stuff was stamped with the name of a knitting store that I didn’t know existed in my area. It must have been closed quite a while ago, because I pretty much know the address and there’s nothing there now. Pretty good haul, wouldn’t you say?

I almost forgot: I got 3 huge cones of cotton yarn (one may be acrylic, but I'll figure out what to do with it) at Goodwill for less than $10 and 3 wool sweaters at the Salvation Army (affectionately known as "Sally's Boutique") to felt for about $12. I'm feeling pretty rich in projects these days....all I need to do now is find the time to do them all. These have been stored in a giant Ziploc bag and will probably wait for colder weather when I can't or don't want to go out and need something to do, probably while watching hockey. ;o)

Part II – Me
Still doing pretty well, even though I’m still having med issues, I think. I may have to change up some of the supplements I take for something that is absorbed easier or just works out better for me. Keep your fingers crossed. Even though I’m still having depression issues, I think that I’m getting by for now and that’s pretty good for me.

Remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Part I – Blogs and Socks

This is a record for me…it’s only been a week since I posted anything and I’m here again. It seems like I never seem to be able to take the time to get something in here; today, I’m making time. I got written about in someone else’s blog! Yup, me. Go check out “Chronicles of the Lazy Knitter” at Monica liked my idea of “Zen” knitting and wrote about it in her blog. I’m glad I did something that others might find enjoyable. Monica is FAR from the lazy knitter she calls herself, though. She is a busy gal with her needles and always seems to have things to show for it. I finish things slowly, but Monica seems to finish up quickly and neatly. And she can knit socks…I’m kind of envious of that; I don’t have a good time with socks, usually.

I did just get a book called “Crazy Toes and Heels” by Mary Ann Beattie ( and it seems to be just what I needed to conquer socks. So far, and this may be a bit premature, I am liking this. The book has a zillion pictures, perfect for someone like me that likes things to be visual. I did teach myself to knit from pictures and videos on the Internet, so it makes sense to me to have lots of pictures available to refer to. I’m working on a pair of toe-up socks, using Lion Brand Magic Stripes sock yarn. I didn’t want to spend a lot on sock yarn until I figured out whether or not I would like doing them. I had some Lion yarn from when I tried to make socks before, so I decided to use it. The blue stripes I started about a year ago only have about a 3 inch cuff so far and don’t seem likely to get much farther. I wonder if I can use them for something else? They were done cuff-down, two at a time on two circulars and for some reason, I just don’t seem to enjoy working on them. These socks from the new book are also done two at a time on two circulars, but they seem to be much more, almost fun, if you will. Monica said socks were “Zen” knitting to her and I didn’t understand it at all, but there’s a lot of stockinette in the foot part when you’re doing toe-ups and it can be kind of “Zen” doing that part, I think. I mean, I’m not missing any of the NHL playoff games; I’m still knitting tons (at least for me), and it’s not hard to do. I did have to pay a little bit of attention while I was doing the increases from the toe to the foot, but it’s wasn’t rocket-science by any definition. I’ll post some in-progress pictures so you can see how they are coming and update as I continue.

My “Branching Out” scarf (from is coming along nicely. I seem to have gotten into a rhythm with it and don’t often have to tink rows because I have too many or not enough stitches like I did in the beginning. I’m even getting so I can knit a few rows while I’m talking or watching tv, and that was really impossible before I got the hang of the pattern. I still can’t remember all the repeats – there are 10 repeat rows, but only 5 of them are actually pattern stitches – but I’ve found that if I use a clicker-type row counter to keep track of where I am instead of writing a tick mark on paper, I can keep track better and even put it down for a bit and come back to it and still know where I am.

I’m not working on much else right now. It’s beginning to get warm here in upstate NY and I’m getting so I’d like to be outside doing something instead of inside knitting. It is still the playoffs, though, so if there’s a hockey game on, I’m probably watching it or recording it to watch later. My team, the NY Rangers, actually swept their first-round series against the Atlanta Thrashers, so I had a lot to cheer for last week. I hope they can keep going and I will be watching all the games, whatever happens. Keep your fingers crossed….

I completely forgot to include something else I bought at Chancellor last week: it’s called “Heal My Hands” and it is available at I am not affiliated in ANY way with these folks, just a very satisfied customer. I picked up one “cake” of their hand balm and I’m thrilled with the way my hands feel after using it for a week. If you have chronically dry hands, you just have to try this stuff. If it works for you like it did for me, you’ll want to keep it around at home and at work and use it everywhere. I also like the fact that it contains nothing but natural ingredients and they are all listed in English so you know what you’re getting. Ok, enough commercial from me; I just really like this stuff.

Part II – Me
Still doing pretty well, though I do have some minor med issues to work through. I am due for some blood work before my next visit to the doc to see if the supplements I’m taking are adequate. I’m severely deficient in some vitamins and minerals due to malabsorption issues relating to my gastric bypass. Like I said, I’m feeling pretty good this week, so maybe everything is falling into place. I’ll see how it all goes and post back again.

Remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Part I – Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Festival

Yesterday, Mike and I went to our very first Sheep & Wool Festival ever. Not just of this year, you understand, but ever. We had a great time! We went to the Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Festival at the Clermont State Historical site in Germantown, NY. What a beautiful place it was, right on the Hudson River, up on a hill. The weather was kind of gray and a little bit cold, but we enjoyed ourselves a lot in spite of it. I did feel sorry for some of the vendors, though; they had no place to go in out of the cold and couldn’t even walk around to keep warm. I did notice a LOT of hand-knit sweaters keeping folks warm, though. ;o)

There was a fellow who was demonstrating how to shear sheep with hand-shears and talking away at the same time. There wasn’t a nick anywhere on the sheep that I could see, and even though the poor sheep looked so uncomfortable, they were all kind of mellow about it all. He sheared three sheep during the course of the day, and not once did he get kicked that I could see, and I would have kicked him if he had man-handled me like those poor ewes. I’ve put up some pictures today, including one of the shearing, for your viewing pleasure.

Now for what you really want to know; what goodies did I get? It was soooo hard to decide what to actually buy; there was so much stuff there and much of it was so gorgeous that it was just hard to make up my mind. It was not a very large festival; it kind of reminded me of the small Garlic Festival we go to on Labor Day weekend every year in Vermont. Not a large area, but maybe 20 (maybe a few more or less) tents of vendors, some crafts for kids, some historical things going on, and, of course, food. The vendors sold everything from pillows stuffed with wool to jewelry to weaving supplies and woven items to spinning supplies and equipment to roving and wool from sheep and alpacas and pretty much any other animal you can get fiber from.

I saw some gorgeous hand-knits and felted items and it was just so difficult to walk away from some of the stuff. I’m sure you can understand how I was feeling. I finally narrowed it down to two places that I wanted to go back to; one had some lace-weight in the most beautiful colorways and the other had alpaca from her own animals. I did decide finally on the alpaca; I’m not really a lace person, though this was pretty stuff, and I finally just decided that I would probably not use it. The alpaca I bought is a nice weight, maybe you would say it was worsted weight or a little thicker, but so soft I just could not leave it behind. I picked out a beautiful soft creamy white – four two-ounce hanks at $10 each. The owner said it would be about 130 yards per hank, so about 520 yards. Now I’m not sure exactly what I can make from this amount and type of yarn, but even if I only fondle it periodically, I consider it worth the price. I also bought, from the same vendor, the most adorable felted llama (see the picture I’ve posted with the yarn). It was so cute; how could I leave it behind? The yarn and llama came from Aspenwood Alpacas ( and the name of the alpaca that my particular wool came from is Ultimo. Ms. Serino, the vendor/farmer, had all the wool sorted by which animal it came from and had pictures and the name of the particular alpaca with each animal’s wool. The felted llama came from Peru via Spruce Ridge Farm ( When I checked out the websites, I found that both are very near me, within ½ hour, driving.

I also bought a 6.4-ounce ball of variegated roving. No, I don’t spin. No, I haven’t done any felting other than knitted fabric. No, I don’t know what on earth I am going to do with it. BUT, I fondled it and I couldn’t leave it behind. I did find something I might consider trying, but I will have to do some research first. We watched a felting demonstration where the woman did both needle-felting and wet-felting to make hats. She explained that she had been a milliner by trade and wanted to try her hand at actually making the materials for the hats and that’s how she got into felting. Anyway, she had on the most interesting scarf I had ever seen. She allowed me to check it out and it appeared to be woven strands of roving, fairly thick strands that is, woven together and fastened somehow on the long edges, and with roving “fringes” or maybe you would call them tassels, on the ends. I have a picture of her wearing the scarf and have cropped the picture to show only the scarf as I don’t think it would be cool of me to post her photo on the Internet without her permission. I did want you to be able to check out the scarf, though, because I think I might try something like that with the roving, though I might also try felting a bit of it or…I don’t know, whatever takes my fancy, I guess.

I also found the cutest silver jewelry; the earrings and the necklace have amethysts set into them, along with a Celtic-style block and a little stylized sheep at the bottom. How could I resist? They also came from near me – go figure that I didn’t know all these places were so close to where I live. The jewelry came from Millpoint Emporium in Amsterdam, NY ( and that’s only about 20-30 minutes away from me. I’ve posted a picture of the jewelry as well, with a detail shot so you can really see the sheep.

The best part of the day was the present that Mike bought for me. He told me he was going off to the porta-john while I was looking at the roving. When I came out from buying my roving, I looked for him, but couldn’t find him. He showed up a couple of minutes later with a box in a bag – he snuck off and bought me a ball winder to go with the swift he’s working on for me! He is a really great guy, don’t you think? I mean, here’s a guy that doesn’t mind going to see sheep, suggests that we check out yarn shops while we’re out on a ride, buys me yarnie things, and has a good time doing it all; how great is that? I am really a lucky gal.

Part II – Me
Doing better the last couple of weeks; doc changed up my meds and I’m feeling a little less down. I still have some health and diet issues, but I’m trying to work through them. I’ll get there; it’ll just take time. In the meantime, I’ll keep knitting and writing my way through. I think it helps, so why not?

Remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2007 - Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 8, 2007
Happy Easter!
Part I – General Rambles

Good morning and Happy Easter to all. It’s early as I write this and Mike is still asleep. It’s very quiet here. Just Alvin and I are up, hanging out on the couch – me with my coffee and her asleep next to me, as usual. Later I’ll do some baking though nothing special. It’s just Mike and I today. We didn’t color any eggs or make any baskets for each other, though he did buy me some Lindt truffles (one of my favorite things) and surprise me with them late last night. I gave up chocolate for Lent, so he didn’t bring them out until after midnight. One of the lawyers I work with in the office had given me a 2-pound box of chocolates for helping out on a contract negotiation and they had been staring at me from the top of my dresser for about 3 weeks now. He knew I had given up chocolate, but gave me the box anyway. Of course it was from a very good local chocolatier, Krause’s, if you’re ever in the Albany, NY area, and it was a lot of temptation, but I didn’t crack.

I really think I just transferred my chocolate cravings into yarn. I’ve bought so much yarn lately; I don’t know what I’ll do with it all. I did order a bunch of patterns recently from (not affiliated with this site in any way, just like the patterns)

· Tapestry Shawl (K-23)
· Heartbeat Sweater (K-24)
· Lightning Lace Jacket (K-15)
· Pacific Grove Pullover (K-12)
· Himalaya Tote (K-19) (pattern, not the kit)
· Ocean Lace Stole (K-06)
· San Francisco Shirttail (K-08)

I think they’ll inspire me to use up some of my stash. I wish I hadn’t found the site, though. They have patterns for just about everyone, in just about every size and they were having a sale! I just can’t resist a sale; can anyone? Once the patterns come (and my last email said they’d been shipped), I’ll sit down with them and see if what I have can be used for any of them, then I’ll start swatching. I’ve been so “off” lately that even a simple dishcloth has given me problems. I frogged a dishcloth last night about 5 times and then completely gave up on the pattern and wound the entire pile of “froggings” into a new ball of cotton. Maybe I’m “over” dishcloths for a while. Maybe I’d rather do a project that I can wear, so I’ll wait to get the patterns and see what I can do with them.

I do have some lovely baby alpaca to knit up into something. I bought 18 skeins (I think) when I was in Kentucky visiting my sister. I had planned to make a sweater from the book “Big Girl Knits”, but found I wasn’t quite ready for a project like that yet. I made such a mess out of “Cherry Bomb” from that book that I’m reluctant to try anything that complicated right now.
I’ve been reading over EZ’s “Knitting Without Tears” (Mike bought it for me for Christmas last year) and it makes so much sense that I think I’ll just make some swatches with the yarns I have and note the needle sizes, etc. so I’ll have an idea of what project each yarn might be good for. Swatches ought to be “mindless” enough for me for a few days. I mean, how hard can it be to cast on enough for a 5 or 6-inch square swatch and knit it up in stockinette? I saw Lily Chin once on “Knitty Gritty” and she suggested that, when swatching, you knit a couple of rows and then do YO, K2TOG for as many times as the number of your needle size so you don’t have to remember which needle size you used for the swatch. I thought that was a great idea and I’m planning on doing that with my swatches. I can just store the swatch in the ziploc bag with the yarn and I’ll have it and know immediately what size needles I can use to get gauge.

I’m also making plans to go to some sheep and wool festivals in the next couple of months. Fortunately, Mike likes to do stuff like this….at least with me, he does.
Here’s a list of the ones I’d like to go to, with links so you can check them out, too, if you want to:

· The Chancellor’s Sheep and Wool Showcase, April 14, 2007:

· Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival, May 26 & 27 (Memorial Day weekend):

· Finger Lakes, September 15 & 16:

· New Hampshire, Columbus Day weekend:

· NYS Sheep & Wool, October 20 & 21, Rhinebeck:

· Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, September 8 & 9, Essex Jct.:

The first one is just next weekend and I’m trying to organize a car pool with my knitting buddies at SNB. It might be easy, as it’s only about an hour or so away and has the added attraction of being close to the Webs shop ( in Northampton, MA, so I don’t think it will be too terribly difficult to get folks to go there, too. Mike has even found some places he’d like to check out for his hobbies, so he’s pretty much sure he’ll have a good time, too.

Update on my WIPs: (Sorry, no pix updates today)

“Branching Out” – made the mistake of trying to work on it at SNB and messed something up. My stitch count is way off, so I’ll have to carefully tink until I get back to where it’s right and then keep going. This is NOT a project for any time that I have anything but the scarf to pay attention to. Not at SNB, not during a hockey game (PLAYOFFS ARE HERE AND MY TEAM IS STILL IN IT!), and not when there is anything distracting going on at all. Which of course, leaves not a lot of time to work on it. I figure if I can get a row or 3 done every day, I might make it by next fall….

Socks – can’t seem to make myself pick them up. I just look at them and think, “those are NOT fun to knit” and leave them in my project bag. Funny thing is, I want a pair of hand-knitted socks so I can see if they are worth spending time knitting. Is that weird or what?
Otherwise, I’m going to do some swatching and wait for my new patterns to come.

Part II – me
I’m doing a bit better this week. I saw my doctor this week and she put me on some new meds and we’ll see how that works out. I still haven’t joined the gym like I wanted to, but I think that might come this week. It’s been hectic for me this week.

My boss, who is very well liked, is retiring and doesn’t want a party. She is letting our office take her out to lunch, though, and I’m organizing it. We’re also having an “open house” type thing tomorrow so that others can come and say goodbye. I have folks from all over the agency calling me to see if they can contribute to a gift for her; she doesn’t want one, but she’s getting something anyway, and I’m trying to handle that, too.

I wonder if being so busy keeps me from being as depressed? That is something to think about, certainly. I know that the type of busy that I am makes a difference. When I’m doing things that I don’t perceive to be “my job”, I get stressed so much that I just know I’m going to screw them up, but when I’m doing things that I’ve taken on willingly and I think they are my job, I just deal with it so much better. Go figure.

Once again, I won’t promise a date for my next post, but I will promise to try to get here more often.

Until next time, remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Works in Progress (continued)

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Works in Progress (continued)
Part I – Me…and unfinished projects

Here I go again…haven’t been here in ages and I think I am better when I’m here, so it’s time for me to write again. I’m still mostly in limbo, project-wise. I did finish (FINALLY) my felted clogs – BOTH pairs. Can you believe it? I mean, they have been stuck for ages. I think I must still have a problem with shrinking my knitting on purpose.

Anyway, the pair I was making for me was mostly done. I just needed to finish the second sole on one and stitch it up, but I had almost a whole slipper to finish for Mike’s pair. I don’t know if it was a breakthrough or not, but I sat down last Sunday and finished them both. Then on Monday night after work, I felted them. Check out the pictures; mine are the green/brown ones and Mike’s are the blue ones. Of course, his came out much better than mine. Like when you’re making breakfast and everyone’s eggs come out perfect and your yolk breaks, you know? One of mine is a little too small and totally misshapen – it looks kind of deformed even though I can get it on my foot. Mike’s are a little odd too…one is a bit bigger than the other, but not so much that it would be uncomfortable or even really noticeable (I hope). I haven’t put the leather bottoms on them yet. I’m not sure if I’ll bother or just save them for a better pair. Also, they seem to be taking forever to dry. I even put them on a cookie rack on the floor because I have radiant heat in my floors, thinking that might make them dry a bit faster. I mean it’s Thursday and I felted them on Monday and they are still very slightly damp. Is that normal? I’ve never felted anything before. Well, except for the red sweater from hell and that doesn’t count because I dried it in the dryer to make sure it made really thick heavy fabric. I plan to use it for a laptop case, so it has to be sturdy.

Update #1 (Friday morning): the clogs are actually dry. I’ve posted some pictures in various stages for your viewing pleasure.

Update #2 (Friday night): I can’t put the leather bottoms on them. When I held them up to the slippers I found out they are way too small. I think I’ll have to bring the slippers when I buy the slipper bottoms and use the ones I’ve already bought for another pair or two for someone with smaller feet...

I also seem to have a “thing” for washcloths…I have done about 6 now. See the pictures on the right for some examples. The only one I haven’t taken a picture of is supposed to have linked hearts on it, but I missed a row in the middle somehow, or maybe I knitted an extra plain row, so the pattern is off. I’ll keep that one for myself, I think. I won’t care if it’s messed up, but I wouldn’t give it to anyone like that. I did give my Mom one and then she called me up the next day and asked for more. Of course, I gave her 2 more yesterday and I’ll probably give her a couple more because she likes them so much. I suppose I wouldn’t do that for just anyone, but Mom being Mom, she can ask and I give. She’s mostly been there for me, too. At least since I’m an adult she has. She had her own life when I was a kid. I don’t always like her for that, but she is still Mom and I love her. How did I get off on that? See, the meds must be doing some good because it’s a bit easier for me to talk about things. Well, some things.

The “Zen” knitting piece got frogged. Yup, you heard me, uh read me, right. When I had used up all my yarn, it wasn’t big or small enough for anything. Not wide enough for a shawl and not big enough for a lap robe but too big for a shawl, so I frogged it. Well, most of it anyway. I kept a small piece and bound it off for a smallish scarf for under my jacket to keep my neck warm. Then, I got a pattern from a friend who had altered a pattern from a book and I liked what she did, and I knit it up. I cast on 200 stitches, joined the round, and knit, Zen-like, for 7 inches. Then I did some decreasing and knit another 4 inches. Then I did some more decreasing and knit another 4 inches and bound off all the stitches. Then I tinked the bound off stitches and frogged about 2 inches back because I had decreased too much and it wouldn’t go over my fat head. Baby Alpaca mohair-like yarn is NOT a happy thing to frog once and twice was a nightmare, but I managed it and it actually came out pretty nice. It’s kind of like a collar – picture a large soft Elizabethan-like collar. It comes down to just around my breasts and is so toasty at work where the vent blows down on my back all day. I’ve posted a picture of it, but not on me, so you’ll have to figure out what it looks like on me from the picture.

I started the “Branching Out” scarf from about a week ago and it’s taking a lot of my mental capacity. I’m not a lace-knitter, but when I saw this pattern and read it, I figured I’d go for it. I got a great deal on some Malabrigo in a beautiful burnt-orange colorway and when I swatched it, the stitch definition was gorgeous, so of course, I had to use it for this pattern. See the pictures for where I am right now. I HAVE to pay attention to this pattern, so I can’t do it at Stitch’N Bitch because I end up tinking more than knitting. I can’t bring it to work because I only get a half-hour for lunch and I’d get about 2 rows – maybe – done a day, and that’s if the phone doesn’t ring or someone doesn’t come up to my desk wanting something or whatever else might happen. I can’t knit it while I’m watching a hockey game because I either miss the game or screw up the knitting. So, I can only pick it up when there’s nothing else going on – it may never get done at this rate, BUT, it’s getting done right! Personally, I think it’s gorgeous and I don’t care how long it takes. I may just have to make or buy something to go with it, though, because it just does not go with my mauve coat… Can’t help it though; I just love the color and it works really well for me.

About the Socks (Capital S is how I think of them)…the black ones are still about an inch of ribbing. I just can’t seem to make myself like knitting socks. The blue ones haven’t been touched since I took their picture. I just don’t know why I keep them except that they taunt me. Why is it that I have so much trouble with socks? Everyone else seems to think they’re so easy and my friends at SNB wonder why I can’t seem to make myself get to them. Someday…maybe.

Now for my stash…I don’t have the stash I wish I had, but I still had some storage issues. I picked up some lovely storage shelving recently – it’s supposed to be for inside your closet, like mine’s got this kind of room – and Mike put it together for me with all the right stuff glued nicely together and nailed and screwed or whatever so it stays together the way it’s supposed to. There are 8 square cubicle-type boxes on the bottom part and 15 shoe-size cubes on top. I bought some nice 9-inch square cloth “drawers” for the cubes and filled them up with all my stash after putting it into Ziploc bags to keep the beasties out. I don’t want to encourage anything to munch on my goodies, after all. And since they are all stored neatly where they can’t be seen, the baggies are not too ugly. I put my knitting books on the top with some nice bookends and filled up the “shoe” cubes with needles, cotton yarn, and other “smalls”. I like this a lot. I don’t even mind that it is in my living room. I don’t have room for a knitting-only room, so I do it all in the living room. All my knitting magazines are on a bookcase that I got at a yard sale for $1 – never let it be said that I’m not a bargain-hunter – and I can find the stuff I want so easily now. The only problem is that I do have to stop buying yarn for it’s own sake. I tend to fondle yarn whenever I go to the LYS – which is all too often – and then, of course, I can’t resist it. I MUST buy some. It calls me. I’d like to stuff my mattress with it…well maybe not with the Malabrigo – that’s just too expensive to sleep on….maybe under it….

Part II – Me and my surgery

Well, I left off last time after I had finally told Mike I wanted to have the surgery. That’s when I started doing research in earnest. After about 2 years, and my weight jumping up to its high of 286, I had a gastric bypass at Albany Medical Center on July 1, 2003. I woke up with a raging fever to nurses packing me with alcohol-soaked cloths to try to get my fever down. A shot of morphine and I was out again. My fever was gone in the morning, but my mind woke up. I wondered what the hell I had done to myself. I remembered others telling me to expect this feeling of doom that was now hanging over me.

I didn’t have a lot of pain, really, so can’t blame my feelings on that. My doctor had recommended an epidural (those of you who’ve had children will know what I’m talking about) and I was pretty much numb from my breasts to my knees. I’ll spare you other details – I don’t even like remembering some of them myself. Anyway, I went home on July 5 and found out that I couldn’t lie down on my bed. I felt like my incision would open up and spill everything out. I had been in a nicely reclined hospital bed, surrounded by pillows, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got home. A friend came through with a recliner, which I literally lived in for about 4 months. The hardest part was keeping Miss Alvin (the cat) from jumping up on my tummy. Whenever I sit anywhere, she likes to be on top of me. I had to sleep every night with a huge pillow over me so that in case she did jump up, it wouldn’t do any damage.

I had a terrible time with eating anything, and I mean anything. Almost everything I ate came up as soon as it went down. I cried all the time. My surgeon told me that it would get better. My “new” tiny little stomach, or pouch, was healing. I was supposed to eat protein as much as I could to help the healing process, but I couldn’t keep anything down. If the water was too cold, it came up. If I had a hot beverage, like tea, I couldn’t drink it hot – I had to drink it warm or it would make me sick. Broth made me sick. Bread still makes me sick sometimes. I found that about the only thing I could eat was yogurt and then only a spoonful or 2 at a time. I missed food. I knew that food was not my friend, but I missed it. It had always been there for me, to comfort me, to make me happy, and now, I couldn’t keep it down. I was so miserable; all I could do was hope it would get better.

I like my job – I know, I must be nuts – and I was going stir-crazy at home, so I talked my surgeon into letting me go back to work after 4 weeks. BTW, I didn’t knit then, so I really didn’t have anything to do except watch TV. I do have a thing now for the Tour de France. It was the only thing on sometimes at night, so I watched it and got hooked. Who would ever thing anyone could sit and watch guys riding bikes all day, but for some reason, I enjoyed it. I haven’t missed a Tour since. Anyway, I have a desk job; no lifting, mostly computer work, so I figured it would be ok if I went back to work and my surgeon agreed with me. If I got tired, I could go down to the nurse and lie down. I was all set to go back on August 4, a Monday. On Sunday, I ate a soft-boiled egg, thinking that eggs would work as protein and as long as it was soft, it would work great for me. On Sunday night, I was in the hospital. That egg set me off on a 6-hour spree of almost continuous vomiting. I literally could not stop. When I finally called the surgeon, I was told to get to the ER immediately. At that point, I was so dehydrated that they could not draw blood and it was difficult to start an IV. They had to give me 2 liters of fluid before they could draw blood and they had to give me the anti-nausea drugs through the IV because they couldn’t find another vein. Needless to say, I did not go back to work on Monday. That was really my lowest point. If I could have reversed the surgery that night, I would have. In 4 weeks, I had lost about 50 pounds, but I felt so lousy that I hated everything and everyone, including myself for doing all this to myself.

After about 15 months I lost a total of about 150 pounds, so I went down to 236 pounds, and that was the lowest weight I had been in years. I went from a size 32 to a size 18 so I suppose I’m a success. At least my surgeon thinks I am. Apparently, I’ve lost more than some folks and kept off more of what I lost than some folks, so I’m considered a success. Of course, I have had a lot of problems since that surgery. It affected my hormones and apparently “excited” the fibroid tumors I had that I didn’t know about and that made me have gynecological issues that are still going on even though I’ve had surgery to correct most of it. My gyn wanted me to have a hysterectomy and I absolutely refused – they still know almost nothing about hormone replacement and I wasn’t going to go into surgically-induced menopause without knowing how it would affect me. I ended up having a kind of new surgery where they actually block the blood vessels that feed the fibroids, which kills them, and that has worked up to now. Now the real menopause is on me and things are crazy, but at least it didn’t happen overnight, so I can get used to it, I guess. From the gastric bypass, I also ended up with an incisional hernia which caused me to have emergency surgery to repair it on Valentine’s Day in 2006. I’m waiting now to hear whether the mesh that they used to repair that hernia is the one that has been recalled by the company that makes it because the mesh, or the expandable ring that holds it in place, I think, can cause “severe health problems, up to and including death”. I’d say death is a pretty severe health problem. I don’t know if that’s what they used, but it was used exclusively for the type of hernia that I had and at the time that I had the surgery, it was the standard. So, I’m waiting to hear.

I’m still having problems with depression and I still feel like crying more often than I don’t. I see my doctor next week and she’ll evaluate my meds then. I don’t know if this latest round of meds is really working for me. I’ve also been having some problems with my weight lately, and I’m up again to about 270 and a size 20-22, and that is certainly contributing to my depression as well. I really wish someone had sat me down and told me that after going through all this, I could go back to eating the way I have. I thought that I would always have a little tiny tummy and only ever be able to eat about 1 cup of food at a time. Wrong!! I can eat again. Maybe not as much as I could put away before, but I can eat. I still have problems with pasta, bread, and rice (especially rice), but I can eat pretty much anything else, and that’s not good because I will eat. I know this. I know I need to do something about this or I’ll end up at 386 again. I have been thinking about joining the local gym. There’s one around the corner from me and they are open 24 hours. I don’t have to sign a contract and I can pay month-to-month, so it might be a workable option for me. I’ll keep you posted.

Frankly, I mostly feel lousy but I’m trying very hard not to let it all get me. I think if I didn’t knit, I might just go right off the deep end. Knitting has been one of the things that has helped me to relax and not take things so seriously. It has been almost spiritual in the way that it works for me. It seems that even if I don’t finish projects, I enjoy them. I know I’ll get to them sooner or later and they don’t mind languishing on my needles until I get there.

This has been a very long, rambly post, but even if you’ve just skimmed through it, thank you for reading it. I just needed to get it out of my head, so thank God for blogs…I won’t promise a date for my next post, but I will promise to try to get here more often.

Until next time, remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!