I’m Melting . . . Melting . . .

Beginning to thaw out here.  Takes 8 inches a while to melt when it’s not all that much above freezing.   I didn’t have to get out in it, didn’t want to, so I didn’t.

The way I look at it, this is why God gave us lap robes, hot tea, and knitting.  And internet radio. . .

I have a hard time tracking lines on a knitting chart without help.  Best $10 I’ve spent in a long time (except to buy Chiaogoo Red Lace circular knitting needles  . . .) was on this typist’s stand.   Does exactly what it says on the tin.  (Of course, if the chart is not very wide, a large rectangular sticky note works, too.)  I’ve started the hat.  Won’t care about messy floats as I’m using my hemmed toboggan pattern and the hem will cover them.  Now that I’ve gotten all the urgent Xmas knitting out of the way, I’m looking forward to finishing some of my (many) WIPs*:

A Malguri Morning shawl for me (named for Ilisidi’s mountain fortress Malguri from the Foreigner books by C. J. Cherryh — I’m a huge fan.  Both she and her wife Jane got one of these last Xmas.  This one is Jane’s.  Making me one out of the same yarn but with only one solid blue stripe.) Najidama Bay shawl — another Foreigner themed shawl named for the bay where Bren’s estate of Najidama is located.

Reader’s shrug — if this kind of weather persists, I may have to make another one in worsted weight yarn. . .

Two rectangular shawls that I’m knitting horizontally from side to side: (BTW, if you want to be a test knitter for either of these rectangular shawl patterns, let me know.)

Kildare Cobblestones shawl (using dental floss for lifelines!)

top edging
middle insert
lower border

Blu Fiorentino Shawland a rewrite of this shawl pattern with five sections instead of four in the same yarn, which I’m calling Pentaluna and oddly don’t have any pictures of.  Haven’t decided if I’ll use this edging on it either.  I may use the edging from Blu Fiorentino shawl as it has wedges.

And if this isn’t enough, if I get money for Xmas, then I want to do this sweater in cotton yarn (allergic to wool!).  And I’ve got at least three hats I’m working on to donate to my local cancer center for chemo patients. . . .

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, ya’ll.

*WIPs – Works In Progress


Dumped On By Diego

Woke up to this.  We were supposed to get 1-3 inches (3-8 cm)  They were saying we got more like 8-9 inches (20-23 cm) and it’s still coming down like crazy.   Worried about Ninja.Chickens who lives just outside of Ashville, NC.  Worried about all the folks in Diego’s path.

Got rellies in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  I’ve heard from them and they’re OK.  Got rellies south of Houston.  Heard from them and they’re OK.  When I texted my friend in Key West a pix of snow he texted me back and said it was 80 F(26.6 C) there at 11 a.m.  Ain’t that here!  Current temp here is 30 F (-1.11 C) and still snowing. Believe I’ll stay in out of it.  Life in the Flatlands.

Never mind.  I got Pedro’s Tamales, hot tea, lap robes, a sizeable to-be-read pile on my Kindle, and a knitting challenge.   Say tuned . . . .Oh, and I’m done knitting washcloths.  (!!) Finished the basket for my duplex neighbor who has been so good to me this year.

My friend LB’s corneal transplant surgery went OK yesterday.  She had a doctor’s appointment today.  They’re from Minnesota, so they’re like, ‘really?’

My mom just emailed me that she’s lost her TV signal.  She has Dish TV. I keep telling her she needs to get cable, but no.  She’s memorized the channel numbers of the channels she likes and she’s finally learned how to work their DVD. I’m trying to teach her how to channel surf.  This is a woman who’s 12 years older than broadcast television, and 4 years older than sliced bread.

Instant WOL

Well, I’ve bit the bullet and joined Instagram as (what else?) the_owl_underground.   Still figuring out how to use it.

I’ve started a hat — have to do something with all that red yarn I have from Xmas balls.  It’s going to be one of my hemmed toboggans, so I can have messy floats and it won’t matter.  120 stitches on a 2.5 (3.0 mm) circular needle.  The classic 8-petaled rose for the design, done in white, which is 24 x 24, whence the tiny needles.   Our Aha! moment for today is that if you use the Turkish cast on instead of provisional cast on to do this hat, you need to use at least a 24-inch needle for the second needle so the cable will be long enough to dangle the needles out of your way while you knit the first inch or so.  but after that, no problem.

Spent yesterday evening sitting on the couch, knitting on my Malguri Morning shawl, drinking hot vanilla chai latte, and binge-watching season 11 of Dr. Who, learning to penetrate Jody Whittaker’s thick Yorkshire accent.   Brilliant!  Yes, that is an empty jar of Talenti gelato you see.  Having some serious me time.

Just finished three Pedro’s Tamales with a slathering of refried beans on top, plus some chopped onions and sliced olives and a big heap of shredded Sargento Mexican Four Cheeses, hotted in the microwave.  ¡Numos grandes!  They had a fire at the factory a while back and for the longest, horriblest, time, there were no Pedro’s Tamales to be had.  But they’ve been back into production for a while now, and we can enjoy their great tamale goodness again.   They use all American-grown products:  corn, beef, pork and chicken.  You can get them in all sorts of varieties from el wimpo mild to ¡ay, Chihuahua! melt your fillings hot.  They ship, BTW.  So if you have a freezer . . . .

Like the man says, “Ain’t but one fence between us and Canada, and it’s down.” Bracing for Diego. Going to be having a little cool spell, looks like.  I remind you, here in the flatlands, I’m at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco (as in North Africa), so this is a big deal for us.  Anytime there is the slightest hint of ice or snow here, it’s Demolition Derby Day on the city streets, and I make a point of staying home if at all possible.

Tomorrow, my friend LB goes to have corneal transplant surgery.  She has Fuch’s dystrophy and having three rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer (stage IV) did nothing to help it.  Holding her in my thoughts prayerfully and hoping she’ll get her sharp vision back and be able to get back into color work with her knitting.

I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t watch live TV anymore.  I work out what I want to watch and record it all.  Then when I watch it, I can fast forward through all the %&^*#@! commercials.  I’ve got some of that “artisanal” bread from Market Street, which is my delight (and my downfall!), and I’m thinking seriously about doing some with butter in the broiler.  I’ve already got a pot of tea going.  Hmmm. . . .

A little aside about life on the spectrum, I have a toast rack because toast from the toaster is supposed to be crisp.  You pull a piece of toast out of the toaster and lay it on a plate, and the steam from the toast makes the down-side mushy.  If I want mushy toast, I do it in the broiler.  Butter the bread lavishly, and put the broiler on high — crisp crust, mushy middle.  Crunchy, buttery goodness.  Nuts.  Now I’ve got to get up and go make some.  Got some videos to watch on the YouTube channels I follow.   I’m thinking sofa, knitting, lap robe, big screen TV.   Having a kitty to curl up with me would make it perfect.  It’s times like these when I really miss my kitties.



Out From Under The Gun

All the gift baskets are finished except the one that goes next door, and I’ve just got half a washcloth to go to finish it.  I’ll finish that tomorrow, and maybe make one or two more Xmas balls.  Haven’t decided on that yet.  I was able to do a little reading — finally!   Want to do more.   There’s just not enough hours in the day, seemingly.

I‘ve got all this red and white yarn left from the Xmas balls, I’ve started a toboggan that will have Norwegian 8-leafed roses on the hem.  The nice thing about the toboggan is that whatever color work I do, if I restrict it to the hem area, when I turn the hem, that will cover up the floats!  As you can see, I’ve already gotten it started — on a US2.5 (3 mm) needle.  It’s going to take quite a while.  I’ve got about half the ribbed bit done.

I’ve got to go out tomorrow and get a magenta cartridge for my printer (printing out all those Xmas ball charts!) so I can print out the motif chart for the colorwork on my hat.  I’m using Caron Simply Soft yarn.  It’s acrylic (Don’t judge.  Some of us are allergic to wool.) and it has a lovely hand, but it splits like crazy.

At some point, I need to suck it up and rake the back yard.  Besides being all over leaves, that durn black locust has podded all over everywhere.  Even the thought of having to do it makes me tired.   Still, It’s not that big a yard, thankfully. I also need to do something with that front bed.  Whatever I do to it will have to be done by May, assuming I’ll be having knee replacement surgery then.  I’d like to transplant those roses to the back yard where their feet won’t be wet all the time.  They’ve got black spot badly and it’s because very time it rains, they sit in the runoff from the roof.  I’d like to get some turks’ cap bushes, some lavender and maybe some sage, and interleave them with assorted wildflowers. Something low maintenance.   I really don’t want to fool with a yard, but the exercise would be good for me, as long as I don’t overdo.

No More Stuffing!

I’ve been knitting away in my knitting nook, knitting on washcoths a while, then knitting an Xmas ball or two.  I’ve knitted 7 so far, and I plan to do three more — one is already on the needles.  (“knitting” has a “k” but “needles,” and “nook” don’t — and because I tend to spell phonetically, keeping them straight drives me knuts.  But for once, it’s not English being obtuse and arcane.  Big difference between “knits” and “nits.”)  But for the moment, my production of finished Xmas balls has ground to a halt — I ran out of polyester fiberfill — I’ve got no stuff to stuff them with.

I’m like the mice in Beatrix Potter’s story,  “The Tailor of Gloucester.”  They ran out of “twist” — a particular type of sewing thread that they were using to make buttonholes on the Mayor’s waistcoat.  They pinned a little note to the waistcoat written in teeny tiny writing which said, “No more twist.”

Except the little note pinned to the three latest knitted balls would say (assuming you can read my handwriting!), “No more stuffing!”

The stuffing makes a big difference.

The ones at right have already found new homes — two were hostess gifts to the couple who had mom an me over for Thanksgiving dinner, one went home with my mom for her tree, and one is going to the lady in “B” of my duplex as a token of appreciation for all the help she’s given me during this annus horribilis.   Some knitting I can do while I’m watching TV, but not stranded colorwork — I’ve got to keep my eyes glued to the grid pattern!  Instead I turn on my internet radio and listen to SomaFM’s DroneZone, which is their ambient music channel.

I’ve gotten one washcloth basket finished, and have three more to go, but the washcloth patterns I’ve chosen are simple and easily memorized — TV knitting.  I’ve been knitting and binge-watching the “Sherlock” television series that Steve Moffat and Mark Gattis wrote and produced with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson.  (All four seasons are available on Netflix, which I have been watching on my tablet in my knitting nook, with my feet propped up on the otttoman, a lap robe on, and a pot of chai au lait to hand.)

This pic shows you how I’m packaging the washcloths — each basket will have three rolled washcloths and a bar of glycerine soap.  I pop the basket into a cellophane bag and tie it with gold ribbon.  They’re intended to be put in a guest bathroom, or given as gifts. (There’s another orange washcloth in that basket which I finished after I took the picture.) I’ve got five more washcloths to knit by the end of the first week of December,  and one of those five is nearly done.  (It will finish the orange basket.)

I’ve got to do some running around tomorrow — get my car’s oil changed, get my state inspection and get a new license sticker.  I also plan to visit my friend LB and her husband C. He had open heart surgery in October with a triple bypass, and she’s going to have a corneal transplant the first part of December.  I’m going to take them each an Xmas ball. While I’m out and about, I’ll get more polyfill so I can stuff my balls!  I think I’ll go to Joanne’s (store) as Michael’s didn’t have any actual stuffing, only quilt batting.  It works, but you have to pull it apart into “tufts” with your hands just like you have to do with raw wool before you can card it.

As much fun as this all is, I’ll be glad to get over this “hump” of projects and get back to the WIPs* I’ve been longing to work on.  But everything is pretty much on hold until I get these two projects out of the way.

WIP – Work In Progress

Having a Ball Making Balls

I’ve been getting into watching videos by Arne & Carlos, two knitting mavens who live in Norway.  They are famous for their balls –Christmas balls, that is.  You can download free patterns for 24 miniballs from their blog here, which I did.  I’ve been wanting to get into stranded color work, and this is a way to get my feet wet without diving in.

In order to do stranded color work, you follow a chart (that’s one above), which is a lot like a needlepoint pattern, which tells you which color to knit which stitch with.  I’ve done needle point so there’s no learning curve there.  The tricky bit is carrying two strands of yarn.  The bit where you carry the yarn from one stitch of that color to the next stitch of that color is called a “float.”  A basic rule of thumb is that you don’t want to carry a float for longer than 5-6 stitches.  If you’ve got to carry it longer than that, you have to secure it, which is an art in itself.  I’m lousy at floats, but then I’m just starting out.

I’m using a set of sock needles (five 6-inch long double pointed needles) from my ChiaoGoo sock set, which are really nice and come in a lovely zippered case.  If you’re really heavy into sock knitting, I can recommend them.   You get six sets of stainless steel needles (US sizes 0-3, or 2.0-3.25 mm) together with the carrying case.

I’ve made three balls so far and there’s one on the needles that I’m nearly finished with.    These haven’t been stuffed yet.  They do look more ball-like once they’ve been stuffed.  You leave a tail at each end to sew them shut, and the tail at the top you use to crochet a chain loop to hang them with.   I think I’ll make a couple more.  They’ll be nice to give as tokens of appreciation to friends.

Yup.  They’re addictive.


I sometimes wonder where we’d be if all those young men we lost, not just in WWI but in all wars, had been able to become what they might have been.  What contributions to society would they have made, what would their children have accomplished?

The loss of life in WWI was so horrendous that it’s hard to get your mind around it. (The word “decimate” actually means killing one out of every ten. During WWI, it was more like one in every ten survived.) We in America can’t fully appreciate the impact that such a loss of life has on a society because our losses compared to total population were not that great as England’s, France’s, Belgium’s, and Germany’s.  They quite literally lost a whole generation of their best and brightest.

The irony of it is we are still paying the cost of that war, because it sowed the seeds for WWII, the Soviet Union, genocide in the Balkans and Turkey, and the trouble in the Middle East.  We call our species “Homo sapiens,”   but looking back on our history, I wonder if we wouldn’t be better named “Homo bellicus.”

You take the healthiest and most intelligent and send them off to war, and leave the least healthy/least mentally fit behind to breed.  The ones that are good at fighting and killing survive and come home to breed.  You do this for 6 or 7 thousand years.   Then some guy goes off the deep end and shoots up a house of worship, or a concert, or a school, or a night club, or a post office and kills a bunch of people, and everybody is all aghast.  Get a clue, people.  You get what you breed for.