Art, Both High and Domestic

The lovely little piece to the right is “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” — It’s called that because “The Madonna of the Niddy Noddy” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  That little dohicky the Christ Child is holding is called a niddy noddy.  They’re used by people who spin yarn to wind their yarn into skeins, and measure the length of yarn in the skein, typically 80 yards.  It’s a very low-tech little gizmo — I’ve seen them made from PVC pipe.   The high-tech version is called a “spinner’s weasel” — The wheel is 2 yards in circumference, and 40 turns of the wheel equals an 80 yard skein.  Where the “tech” comes in is that some of them have a little clockwork mechanism with gears that turn a counter which will then make a clicking or popping noise when the wheel has turned 40 times.  — Yep.  You got it.  Pop goes the weasel.

In the knitting news, I’ve already finished a Simple Pleasures Hat with a ribbed brim out of the donated Dazzle yarn. Instead of just joining on a different color and carrying on knitting to make the stripes, I used a mosaic knitting technique of k1, sl1 (knit one, slip one).  If you pay attention to whether you k1 or sl1 as the first stitch when you start the stripe, and do the opposite when you join the background color after finishing the stripe, you get this zig-zag effect which I quite like.  I got almost 2 skeins of the pale orange, two skeins of the dark brown, and a skein plus a little golf ball size ball of the dark orange, as well as a skein of dark blue and four or five skeins of white as my cut of the donated yarn.  I don’t think I’ll be using the white for hats.  Maybe I’ll make another baby afghan for KC’s church group.

I’ve started another Simple Pleasures hat out of the dark brown and need to get the brim hemmed before I go to bed.  We’re having the eclipse tomorrow and I’m going to my mom’s to watch the important bits of it, and I can sit and knit while we visit.  Tomorrow would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  Today when I shopped groceries, I got a big piece of carrot cake which i’ll bring to split with my mom.

I’m pretty put out with Napster/Rhapsody.  You can’t download music to your PC or to an MP3 player any more.  They say it’s because Microsoft removed the support for WMDRM tracks and offline playback.  I can still stream to my PC and to my Kindle and tablet.  I may need to check my internet radios to see if I can still use the Napster app on them.

I thought my $150 plus electric bill was higher than giraffe’s ears last month.  Guess what.  It was even higher this month.  Almost $170.  The thermostat is going back up to 80 F (16.6 C) and I’ll just sit around in my unmentionables with fans on.  I’ve been in these digs a year now.  I might can check with the electric company to see if I can go on average billing. (They total your usage for the past year and divide it by 11, and you pay that amount January through November.  In December, you make up the difference.)  I gotta do something.  It’s shooting my book budget in the foot.

Thor’s Day Afternoon

The French, who were up to their ears in Romans a lot longer than England was, call it “Jeudi” — the day of the Roman god Jupiter.  But because England was all over Angles, and Saxons, and Norse (oh, my!), the English name for the day hearkens back to the Germanic/Norse god Thor.  So today is Thor’s day, rather than Thursday, because Thor and Chris Hemsworth, (not to mention Tom Hiddleston, who is, very . . .), and it’s nice to have a change once in a while.

We had two noteworthy things happen in knitting group, Tuesday.  One, we were saddened to learn that A’s son had passed away unexpectedly.  He was only 53,  and although he did have COPD, it was not that bad.  He lived alone, and a relative found him dead.  A has had a lung transplant, so she has had a number of vicissitudes in her life already.  I think she only had the son and the daughter. VS told us about it.  She is A’s across-the-street neighbor and frequently brings A to knitting group.  Very, very sad.

We were processing this news when a woman walked in and asked if we would be interested in some yarn and knitting needles, which is rather like asking sheep if they would be interested in a pasture of nice thick green grass . . .  “Some” turned out to be two big boxes of yarn and a box of assorted knitting needles. It seems she had been clearing out her late mother’s house, and her mother was a knitter/crocheter (many knitters are ambicraftous and also crochet.  Me, for one.).  This was after KC had “busted” her stash and had brought me a big bag of yarn suitable for hats (which must be done in hypoallergenic acrylic or nylon yarn that has a very soft hand) in trade for five or six sets of circular bamboo needles, and here was a bunch more.  I got some double pointed needles out of the box of assorted knitting needles — several 4-and one 5- needle sets.  (Of course, the minimum needle requirement for knitting is two.)  Our group leader’s church is doing prayer shawls, so they made out like bandits with a large box of perfectly free “save me from this” yarn.

There were six 1.75 oz skeins of lavender “Natura Burlee” yarn which they probably haven’t made in 20 years.  And I rewrote the baby afghan pattern “Sweet Sherbet” for it. I may not have enough of it to complete the project and I may have to find an interposable color to finish it.  We’ll see.  I’ve got a yellow that might work.  KC’s church has a baby afghan project I might donate it to. I’m calling the new pattern “Sherbet Parfait” — seemed reasonable.  Made a nice change from hats.

In the plastic bag that had the lavender yarn was a thin plastic 7-inch ruler which says “St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, Montana.”  The lady did not say where her mother was from.  There’s no telling how the ruler got in the bag.  Or when.

The purple fuzzy hat is in the decreases now to close the top, and I’m going to finish it tonight if it harelips the governor.  No, the purple fuzzy hat is done!

 

The Grass Is Always Greener In The Flower Beds

I really need to call the little Hispanic man and his wife to come fork and weed the flower bed, and ask him if he has a chainsaw. I’d rather pay him to do it and trickle down a little cash into the economy than try to tackle it myself. In the first place, I’d have to buy a garden fork because I don’t have one any more. (I sold all my yard tools when I moved into the apartment.)  In the second place, it’s too durn hot. (I can’t take the heat anymore like I used to could.)

Now, something like resetting the edging bricks, or laying down some pavers by the faucet, yes, that’s not out of reason, or planting some bedding plants, or even laying a bunch of mulch in the bed, which I may do if budgetary constraints allow — it would take about five or six bags to mulch that bed properly. Yeah, I could spread a thin layer over the surface and the weeds would be popping right back up to give me the raspberry. If you’re going to mulch properly for weed control, you need at least an inch.

I do have a volunteer rose bush. (How did the world know I like 3 of things better than I like 2 of things?)  Tea roses are very often grafted onto a root stock that is one of several varieties of very hardy climbing rose.  Typically what happens is the graft dies and it grows back out from the root stock.  That’s what’s happened to the red rose.  The “volunteer” rose bush is either the root stock off a bush whose graft died back to the ground, or else it’s a runner from the one next to it, but hey, roses is roses.

We did get a trickle or two of rain overnight.  I have a feeling we’re going to be getting more if some of those swirly storms get to horsing around in the Gulf (of Mexico).

It was sunny, and sparkly with dew/rain this morning when I went out to take the above pix.  The fat(cat)boy, who has been clingy since I took him to the vet for his shots was nervous because I wouldn’t let him out on the porch with me.  (He is strictly an indoor cat.  He never goes out of doors unless he’s in a carrier.) He is not taking to his diet well.  He whinges and whines when his bowl gets empty long about 3 o’clock, but he doesn’t get fed again until 6 pm.  I have been tossing him a pair of treats (Greenies, 1 cal. apiece) but I make him chase the first one all the way down the hallway into my bedroom, and just when he’s eaten that one, I get his attention and lay a second one at my feet so he has to run all the way back.

In the knitting news, I have four hats on the needles at the moment:  This one is a Fabled Cable hat — still working on the proportions of the ribbed bit, the cable bit and the top bit, so I haven’t posted the pattern yet. This one is using the Lion Brand Landscape yarn, in the color “Apple Orchard.”  I will say this for the Landscape self striping yarn:  The colors are very bright and have a high contrast value.   A bit garish for my tastes, but then, that’s what makes horse races.  Then I’ve got a Simple Pleasures hat going in the Red Heart Unforgettable in the color “Pearly” — which I’m not sure I have enough of to finish the hat.  I need to root around in my yarn box to see if I have any more of that color.  If not, I will use some of the delicious green shown, which is called “Meadow.”  The color palette of the Unforgettable yarn is much richer and more subtle than that of the Landscape.  Chacun, as they say . . .

Another Coriolis hat, with a leftward twist, because I like doing ssk’s better than I like doing k2tog’s.  Again, this is the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, in the color “Dragonfly” which I like a lot.  The color choices in this blend remind me of the James Taylor song, “Sweet Baby James.”  Won’t you let me go down in my dreams . . .

Still working on this version of the Simple Pleasures hat in the Moda Dea Dream yarn.  I’ve got about another 1-1/2 inch to go before I start the decreases.

This is typical of me.  I work on one a while and get bored with it, and set it aside and work on another one.  The Simple Pleasures hats are stockinette once you’ve gotten the brim (either ribbed or hemmed) done, so they require no thought.  You have to pay attention to the other two, particularly the Fabled Cable to get your cable crosses right.

I’ve been listening to Kit Watkins all morning.  Very restful “floaty” music that is tranquil, melodic and somewhat minimalist.  Just right.  If you like his music, there’s a bunch that’s free for the downloading on the Internet Archive, which is where I got it.  You can find all kinds of stuff on the Internet Archive.  Give it a browse sometime when you’ve got an afternoon to kill.

Waltzing into Sunday

It’s from the Suite for Variety Orchestra.  by Dmitri Shostakovich.  It’s a perfectly glorious little waltz. I love the saxophones on the first iteration of the first theme.  He has a little Guy Lombardo vibe going there for just a bit.  My dad used to refer to ballroom dances (waltz, foxtrot, etc.) as “clinch dancing” — no telling where he came up with the term, probably from boxing.  You practically have to be a reenactor to do a proper waltz in public any more (You gotta have the floor length dress with at least three petticoats!) No secret, though, that I do love a good waltz, and this one is as good as any the Strausses could come up with.

While we’re waltzing, this scene from the film Van Helsing, one of the choicer bits from that film (apart from Hugh Jackman in that coat).  Dracula with a cape (and a ponytail!), check.  Grand staircase, check.  Beautiful clothes, check.  And that red dress on Kate Beckinsale, double check with an exclamation point.   And that bit when you see the reflection in the mirror, and she’s dancing all by herself because, of course, mirrors don’t reflect vampires.  If I don’t already have a copy of that film, I may just have to get one. . .

And even though this next one is a musical repeat, watching Bert Lancaster and a very young Sean Bean waltz, and getting an eyeful of Alain Delon . . .  It’s a mix of scenes from movies The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) by Luchino Visconti from 1963. Anna Karenina by Maurizio Millenotti from 1997, Anna Karenina by Joe Wright from 2013, Fanfan & Alexandre by Alexandre Jardin from 1993, War and Peace TV series from 2007, The Young Victoria by Jean-Marc Vallée from 2009, and The Waltz of Dagmara and Artur (their first wedding dance) from 2011.

And while we’re talking Russian waltzes, here’s Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella Waltz.

And from Aram Khachaturian, the waltz from his Masquerade suite.

Did you think I’d leave out Tchaikovsky? Perish forbid!  No, it’s not one of the ones you’ve heard hundreds of times.  Bet you’ve never heard this one before!  Lovely violin!

 

 

Not a Good Night Last Night

I’m not usually one for bad dreams — weird, interminable, sometimes surprisingly well-plotted dreams, yes, but only very, very rarely are they frightening or unpleasant ones.  Typically, my dreams have surprisingly little emotional content.  But last night I had a couple of whoppers.  First off, at about 2 a.m., I dreamed that my mother dragged herself into my real-life bedroom, over to my real-life bedside, threw her arm across my thighs and croaked, “Call an ambulance.” I came bolt awake out of that one, my heart pounding.  (I might point out, my mother does not live with me.  She lives in her house, I live in my little duplex, and that is a mutually satisfactory arrangement.)  I was royally spooked by that brief broadside of a dream for a good little bit.  I had to get up and move about, which is always good for shredding the whisps of most dreams that persist into waking.   I had a potty break, then went into the kitchen and had a couple of pieces of Twizzlers Bites to give me the energy to get back to sleep, which usually works.

I finally did get back to sleep, then I dreamed about my dad (who passed in September of 2014).  He was still of an age when he was active and independent and could see and hear well, but he was having an episode of delirium and I was having to deal with him myself.  I was at their house (although it didn’t look anything like their house actually does).  He somehow got outside and I located my mom and we were trying to decide whether to go look for him ourselves or call the police, or what — my dad was over six feet tall, and if he decided to struggle, even my mom and I together could not have handled him.  As we were talking, someone knocked at the door and it was my dad.  He had gotten a lift home in a UPS truck.  I remember thinking in the dream that my dad had been delivered by UPS and how ironically funny it was.  Tied loosely about him was one of those heavy cloth strips like moving companies use to secure furniture by strapping it to the side of the vans.  Then a “friend” came over.  You know how you know things in dreams; I knew he was an old family friend although he didn’t look like anybody I knew that we knew.  He and my dad were conversing, and then my dad started playing the bagpipe for him (yeah, I know).  I was sad because although his playing was good, it was not as good as it once had been.  Then I woke up.

After that, even though it was only about 5:20 a.m., I didn’t even bother to try to go back to sleep.  I read for a while, then I decided I might just as well get up. Thankfully, the passage of time is dulling the memory of those dreams, especially the first one, which was a real shovel-smack upside the head.

Now I’ve got to get ready to go out.  My cousin JP is driving over from New Mexico to take my mother and me out to lunch.  Then he will drive back to New Mexico. He does this from time to time, as he only lives about a 4-1/2 hour drive away — which is really quite near in this part of the world — to touch base with his Aunt Fluffy (my mom).  My mom was his mom’s baby sister, and his parents gave my mom a real leg up in her rise from her rural roots to venture out into the wide world and begin her career. She is my namesake aunt, the only one of her children to be named for anyone on either side of the family.  (That right there tells you how large my aunt loomed in her legend.)

Plus, we’ve got three important anniversaries coming up, what would have been my dad’s 95th birthday on 21st August (the same day as the solar eclipse, no less), the third anniversary of his passing on 22nd September, and my mom’s 93rd birthday on 23rd September. (Yes, my mom spent her 90th birthday making funeral arrangements for the love of her life.)  And I’m sure part of my cousin’s visit is to lend moral support to my mom going into this gauntlet of significant dates.

In the knitting news, I finished two more hats.  This one at right, which I’m calling “Simple Pleasures Hat” and the one below, which I’m calling “Fabled Cable Hat.” I’m not completely satisfied with either pattern so I haven’t posted them to my knitting pattern website.

The Fabled Cable Hat has braided cables, which don’t show up on the picture very well.  This one was done in Lion Brand Landscapes yarn, colorway “Desert Spring.” The “Landscapes” yarn is Lion Brand’s answer to Red Heart’s Unforgettable yarns.  Although they both say they are a medium:4 weight yarn, the Landscapes yarn is noticeably thicker.  I think the colors are a little more garish, or some of them are.  The Simple Pleasures Hat was done in the Unforgettable yarn, colorway “Parrot.”  It is pretty bright, but I like the color mix.  I think they’re cheerful.  I’m not really wild about the Lion Brand colors, although they do have a solid fuchsia pink, which I’ve gotten two skeins of.

When starting a hat, I typically either use the provisional cast on, or the long-tail cast on, depending on whether the edge of the hat will be “hemmed” or not.  Both methods start with a slip knot in the working yarn.  When I join to knit in the round, I don’t drop my slip knot.  I slip it off the right hand needle and onto the left hand needle, and then do a k2tog (knit two together) with the slip knot and what would be my first stitch of the row.  I find this makes a more secure join.

The Slightly Eccentric Hatter

No, not mad.  Not even slightly miffed.  Just a little quirky around the edges.  Or maybe just hatting like crazy.  But hats are short, quick to knit, and fun, and there’s nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something.  And how ‘total win’ is knitting hats for charity?  (what I actually typed was “chairity” — told you I spell by ear.  . . .)

I have a yarn bowl on my desk and a hat in progress to hand.  When I’m writing and pause to reread, or to work out the content or wording of what goes next, I pick up the hat and knit while I’m thinking.  If I’m reading blogs, I knit and read, if the hat in progress is not too complicated, or else I change to one that has a simple pattern.

So, there is a Fabled Cable hat in progress, but the pattern is not posted on my knitting blog yet. I’m doing it in Lion Brand Landscapes yarn.  I think this color is called “Desert Spring” or something like that.

I finished one prototype of a hat in the purple fuzzy yarn.  I’m calling “Simple Pleasures.” It looks a lot like a Monmouth hat, except the brim has ribbing, and they didn’t know from purling in the Middle Ages.  The brim is too big.  My BFF is getting it to wear for sleep.  (Involved story. Don’t ask.)  I’ve made adjustments in the pattern and I’m trying again, with a rolled brim in the Unforgettable yarn, and with just a ribbed edge in the purple fuzzy yarn to see if 80 stitches on a US size 4 (3.5 mm) will gauge out right.  So far, so good.

I’ve finished another Carrie Fisher Memorial Pussy Hat (I’m calling it a “kitten hat” on the tag), that’s small enough for a 12- or 13-year-old.

I’m going to have to keep an eye on the time.  Mom is coming by after church and we are going to meet our friend CK at Applebee’s for lunch.  About 11 a.m., I’ll be wanting to go take my shower and change clothes.

Edit:  We had a delightful lunch, and while we were eating, this came over the sound system.  We got Rick-rolled in Applebee’s!