Now Is The Time For All Good Knitters To Be Thinking of Winter

Winter cometh, y’all.  A fact of life.  This post is for all you knitty folks who live up in the colder climes, what we here in the flatlands call “up narth.”   I have mentioned before that my town is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco.  Yes, it does get cold here, but not all that cold compared to the feet of snow and minus teens of, say, Montana or Vermont, or Minnesota.  Still, we do get knitted hat weather here, particularly because our cold almost always comes liberally laced with wind chill*.  Even though you don’t lose all that much heat through your head (7-10% is what they say now), you still have structures like ears that are more susceptible to cold than other, larger body parts.  Sitting as they do on the tallest part of the body, they are also susceptible to wind chill.

I put my little knitty mind to the problem and came up with a toboggan that I think fills the bill.   the bottom of the hat has a hem that puts a double thickness of knitting over the ears, the inner layer of which is ribbed, for even more insulation.   Yes, you can turn up a cuff in the bottom of a stocking cap or watch hat and have the same effect, but all you have to do with this hat is just put it on.  The cuff is permanently turned for you.

This toboggan uses a provisional cast-on, which scares most knitters until they actually do it and see how simple it can be. (You can find all kinds of complicated, fancy-schmancy, with crochet hooks, provisional cast ons, but I like the one I’ve linked to because it’s super easy.)

Why do you need a provisional cast on?  It allows you to “turn a hem” in the bottom of the cap.  That can also be kind of tricky.  I pick up the stitches of the provisional cast on about 20 stitches at a time with a double pointed needle (DPN), pull out the scrap yarn that I’ve used for the provisional cast on,  and knit them together (k2tog) with my working stitches, a stitch at a time to form the hem.

I take a provisional stitch purlwise off the DPN, transfer it to my circular needle, then knit it and the working stitch behind it together.   It’s a simple, straightforward process, so long as you don’t load too many provisional stitches on the DPN.

Of the two stitches you knit together, the provisional stitch must always be the stitch on the right with the working stitch on the left, so that when you knit the two stitches together, the working stitch ends up on top with the provisional stitch behind it.  That way, you get a seamless join.

You can find the complete pattern and demonstration pictures here on my knitting website, “Knits From the Owl Underground.”

If you’re a serious knitter, you can turn one of these toboggans out in an afternoon, or a long evening.  Apart from the “turning of the hem” bit and the decreases at the top of the hat, the rest is TV knitting** at its finest.   These make great gifts not just for the skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers in your life, but for those who have to work outside in the winter weather.


*whence the expression, "Ain't but one fence between us and Canada, and it's down." **Knitting that is so simple you can do it while watching TV and still not mess it up.

Limps, Tears and Pentaluna

I should know by now dealing with the VA is like pushing a rope.  I went to see another doctor week before last about an ongoing health problem, and he confirmed that this egg-sized lump on my tum is an incisional hernia.  I emailed my “provider” at the VA on Monday morning with the news and left a message that I needed to be seen ASAP, not expecting to even hear back from them for at least a day.   Mirabili dictu, her nurse called me later that morning and said they’d had a cancellation and can you come in at 3 o’clock that afternoon?  You betcha!

In 2001, I had exploratory surgery that resulted in an emergency appendectomy.  The incision was a “lower abdominal midline vertical” type from navel to pubic bone, through a previous incision from a prior surgery.  They just excised the scar from the old incision on the way in.  The incisional hernia is concerning in and of itself, but it’s located at the top of the incision near my navel, where there is already a natural hole in the abdominal wall.  This area around the navel is weak and subject to herniation in and of itself and the surgical incision goes into this area.  The area of herniation was about the size of a large olive when I first noticed it two weeks ago, and now it’s the size of a hen’s egg.

Needless to say, the speed at which it’s getting bigger is concerning, and there is a “sword of Damocles” that comes with it:  a loop of small intestine could get pushed out through the hernia “hole” and get caught.  If it can’t be pushed back in quickly, that loop of bowel could die from lack of blood, and we’re talking excruciating pain, mad dash to the emergency room, emergency abdominal surgery, the risk of bowel contents squirting all out in my abdomen resulting in peritonitis, and having to cut out the dead bit of bowel and sew the small intestine back together.

Until I can get something done about the hernia (surgery and probably mesh), I can’t lift anything over 5 pounds, I have to roll over on my side and push myself to a sitting position with my arm when I sit up to get out of bed, likewise to lie down.  I have to splint when I sneeze or cough, or bear down.

I saw my provider Monday afternoon.  She’s ordering me an abdominal  binder which will help — or it will when I get it — no telling how long it’s going to take to get it.  She also ordered a CT scan to see exactly what’s going on there, and a surgical consultation.  Yesterday the scheduler called me to schedule the CT scan — at the CT scanner at the VA Hospital in Amarillo!   My town is not small;  it has a population of 250,000+.  We have three major hospitals, a medical school and probably 10-12 CT scanners or more here.  But no.  The VA wants me to drive 125 miles to another town (a four hour drive there and back) to spend less than ten minutes in THEIR CT scanner.  It’s uncomfortable enough just driving the three miles from my house to the VA clinic, never mind 250 miles on the highway.  In order to get a CT done here, my provider has to “justify it” with a convincing enough reason to get them to approve it, all of which takes time (as in weeks).

I’ve half a mind to call the scheduler back tomorrow morning and see when they could schedule the CT scan in Amarillo.   Otherwise, instead of it taking weeks, if we have to jump through the addtional bureaucratic hoops it’s going to take to get the CT done here, we could be talking months before I even get to see a doc, never mind get something done.   (See “Sword of Damocles” above. )  I have this one pair of slacks that’s really tight across the tum.  Maybe if I wear them, the drive won’t be so bad.

Sorry about the long rant, but the whole situation is just so frustrating.  Government bureaurocracies!  Argh!

My knee continues to be a pain and a hindrance, but that issue is obviously on hold until this hernia situation is taken care of.

In the meantime, I’m distracting myself with knitting and reading, neither of which involves any heavy lifting. . . !  This picture is several days old and I’ve done another “ray’s” worth of edging since it was taken.   It’s a nice shawl, but I don’t wear my shawls like she does, and this one doesn’t wear the way I like them to.  (It will be gifted when it’s done.)   But I like the style of it, so I’ve modified the pattern to add another “ray.”  The original had four, my modification has five.  Otherwise, it’s the same shawl.   That’s it at right.  It’s kind of crescent shaped, so I’m calling it “Pentaluna.”   I’m doing it in that same russet yarn whose color I just love.  (I’ve had to order some more to have enough to finish the other shaw, and do this one, and was able to get it for $1 off per skein on sale!)  It’ll have a knitted-on edging, too.   I can’t put the modified pattern on my knitting blog until I get it to the length I want and know how many stitches are in a section at that point so I can figure out the number of repeats and fudge rows I’ll need to put the edging on.   But if you want to do the garter stitch version that doesn’t need lace edging, here you go:

Petaluna Shawl, garter stitch body version:

# = where the markers go. (You’ll need 10 if you want to use them.  I would.)

Cast on 11 stitches
Knit 5 rows.
Row 1: k3, (kfb, yo) x4, kfb, k3 (20 sts)
Row 2: knit.
Row 3: k3, #, (yo, kfb, k1, yo, # k1, #) x4, yo, kfb, k1, yo, #, k3 (32 sts)

Row 4: knit
Row 5: knit.
Row 6: knit
Row 7: k3, #, (yo, knit til next marker, yo, #, k1, #) x4, yo, knit til next marker, yo, #, k3
Repeat rows 4-7 until shawl is the desired length.

Bind off:  Knit 2 stitches together through the back loops, return that stitch to the left needle – repeat until all stitches are bound off.

I’m using a US6 (4.o mm) 40-inch circular needle on the stockinette version, and knitting worsted weight yarn (Lion Brand Heartland yarn, color “Yosemite”), but you can use whatever size needle you want to and any size yarn from DK to bulky, depending on what weight of shawl you want.

That’s all I got for now . . .

Making Progress

spent about 5 hours yesterday and Thursday fixing mistakes in the body of “My Own Private Hilton” shawl, which is my modification of the Cable Edged Shawl with Hilton lace edging on it.  I also realized — after I’d done two pattern repeats, that I should have joined the lace to the body of the shawl with an ssp (slip, slip, purl) instead of a ssk (slip, slip, knit).  I’ll change the pattern to reflect that.  I thought about frogging what I’d done and starting over on the edging, but then decided I just wasn’t that picky.   I’m the only one who knows the pattern was changed.  Other than that one teensy change, I like how it’s turning out.  The yarn I’m using is a Caron Simply Soft in the color “Ocean.”

I also started putting the edging on the Half Circle Shawl, which I’m doing in Lion Brand Heartlands yarn in the color “Yosemite.”  It took a bit of calculating before I worked out how many stitches I needed to have for the edging to come out even.   I’m using Kildare Lace edging on that shawl.  I’m liking how that’s coming out too.

The body of the shawl is worked in stockinette, which curls like crazy.  I’m hoping the lace will be wide enough and heavy enough to uncurl it without me having to block it, but I’ll probably end up blocking it.  I’ve got three finished shawls I need to block here pretty soon as two of them need to be in the mail in September. I’ve also got hats and cowls to make for that package that gets mailed in September, which I haven’t even started yet, but those go quick.

I have two internet radios:  One is on my bedside table with an under-pillow speaker plugged into it.  The other one is on a little night stand with two large drawers that I have set next to my chair in my knitting nook.  I like to listen to music while I knit.  Mostly I listen to SomaFM, which is a listener-supported, commercial free internet radio station out of San Francisco that has 30 different channels of musical genres to choose from.   I also listen to it when I’m on the computer.  You can play it in browser, or on Windows Media Player.  I listen to it through an old version of Winamp, but I’m sure there are other PC apps you can use to stream it.  I also have an app on my phone that I use to stream SomaFM and other favorite internet radio stations.  My favorite SomaFM channels are Deep Space One and Drone Zone.   You might like to nip by and browse through their selections.  You might find a (some) channel(s) you like.

FYI for those who loved Ione’s  Blue Mars internet radio station, I might pass along Echoes of Blue Mars which is a tribute station that plays all the old Blue Mars playlists.  Echoes preserves the three streams, “Blue Mars,”  “Cryosleep” and “Voices From Within” that were a much loved feature of Ione’s station, which was up for almost 13 years, but which he took off the “air” in 2013 because reasons.  The Cryosleep channel is my favorite.

Dragons on the Wind of Morning

I’ve just finished re-re-re….reading Ursula LeGuin’s great Earthsea Trilogy: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore.  They may be fantasy, but they are as rich and deep, though lighter, than what are considered her “meatier” works like “The Left Hand of Darkness” (which won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards), or “The Dispossessed” (which won the Nebula award),

The Earthsea Trilogy (written from 1968 to 1972, with a fourth book, Tehanu, written in 1990), though it deals with magic and wizardry, also deals with the themes of  life and death, human nature, how people fit into the world of plants and animals, and the true nature of reality.  These are weighty subjects; setting them at one remove, in the realm of fantasy, makes them easier to come to grips with. Still, in these books, which detail events in the life of a wizard called Sparrowhawk, what LeGuin has to say is as deep and fraught as anything else she says in any of her other books and as worthy of saying.

It is from the Earthsea books that the LeGuin quote on my side panel comes from:

Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.
– The Creation of Ea

Also, from The Farthest Shore, comes the quote from which the title of this post was taken. One of the main characters, Arren, upon seeing the sight, thinks, “I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.”  If that phrase resonates with you, then you will enjoy these books from an author whose work garnered five Locus, four Nebula, two Hugo, and one World Fantasy Award.

Books Read in 2018

63. The Farthest Shore, LeGuin, Ursula K.
62. The Tombs of Atuan, LeGuin, Ursula K.
61. A Wizard of Earthsea, LeGuin, Ursula K.
60. The Goblin Mirror, Cherryh, C. J.
59. *Seraphina, Hartman, Rachel
58. *I Met A Traveller In an Antique Land, Willis, Connie
57. *The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, Rainey, Jennifer
56. *How To Marry A Werewolf, Carriger, Gail
55. The House on Parchment Street, McKillip, Patricia
54. Hawk, Brust, Steven (reread)
53. Vallista, Brust, Steven (reread)
52. Tiassa, Brust, Steven (reread)
51. Iorich, Brust, Steven (reread)
50. Dzur, Brust, Steven (reread)
49. Issola, Brust, Steven (reread)
48. Orca, Brust, Steven (reread)
47. Athyra, Brust, Steven (reread)
46. Jhegaala, Brust, Steven (reread)
45. Phoenix, Brust, Steven (reread)
44. Tekla, Brust, Steven (reread)
43. Jhereg, Brust, Steven (reread)
42. *The San Andreas Shifters, Carriger, G. L.
41. Dragon, Brust, Steven (reread)
40. Yendi, Brust, Steven (reread)
39. Taltos, Brust, Steven (reread)
38. Why Kill The Innocent, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
37. Where The Dead Lie, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
36. When Falcons Fall, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
35. Who Buries the Dead, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
34. Why Kings Confess, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
33. What Darkness Brings, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
32. When Maidens Mourn, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
31. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman, Neil (reread)
30. Cold Comfort Farm, Gibbons, Stella
29. Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
28. Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
27. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
26. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
25. Visitor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
24. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
23. Peacemaker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
22. Protector, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
21. Intruder, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
20. Betrayer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
19. Deceiver, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
18. Conspirator, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
17. Deliverer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
16. Pretender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
15. Destroyer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
14. Explorer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
13. Defender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
12. Precursor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
11. Inheritor, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)
10. Invader, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . reread)
9. Foreigner, Cherryh, C. J. (re . .reread)
8. Guilty Pleasures, Hamilton, Laurell K.
7. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail
6. *Imprudence, Carriger, Gail
5. *Prudence, Carriger, Gail
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis, Connie (reread)
3. The Perilous Gard, Pope, Elizabeth Marie
2. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J.
1. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)

* Ebook

A Red Lettuce Day*

Bright and early this morning, I sat down to knit with two repeats left on my Cobblestones and Lace shawl in the light blue.  I was finished with it before 11 o’clock.  I’m very pleased with the way this revised version turned out, and this revision of the pattern is the final one.


There it is all complete with the ends woven in and the lifelines pulled out.  (It still needs to be blocked, though.)  I’ll get to show it off tonight at knitting group.

I think now I will concentrate on the two semicircular shawls I’m working on, the one in Lion Brand Homespun “Yosemite” which is now a good deal further along than it was in this picture.  I need to get it to a radius of 20 inches so I can start knitting on the border, a nice wide one which will hopefully straighten out the marked tendency of stockinette to curl.

And then there’s this one in Caron Simply Soft “Ocean,” which is a modification of this pattern. and has languished on my computer desk for lo, these many weeks.  It’s about three times the size shown here, which isn’t saying much.  The main modification I made to this one is to put a different lace on the edge, one that hopefully won’t have to be blocked.  It’s getting moved back to the knitting nook, because I need to start knitting chemo hats again — finishing up the ones I’ve gotten started (and which have languished unfinished all summer) and starting some more. They go pretty fast.

I’m still waiting on the doctor’s report on the MRI I had of my knee two weeks ago.  Being a government agency, the VA never does anything in a timely manner. . . . The wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly. . .

*”A Red Lettuce Day” — John Lennon’s version of “a red letter day,” from his book, “In His Own Write.”