Turkey and Other Cold Cuts

(Did I mention I hate the new WordPress block(head) editor? If it’s supposed to make using WordPress easier, it’s a spectacular failure. It’s harder to do everything than it used to be.)

It has been a rough week. Tuesday morning I was watching YouTube and knitting, and about 11 o’clock, my internet went down. The thing is, when my internet goes down, so does my VOIP land line, and my cable TV. After multiple calls to Suddenlink on my cellphone, I was told there was an outage in my area, and that it should be back up by morning. Come morning, no internet. We tried this and we rebooted that and we poked things with paperclips, and no joy. A technician was scheduled. He would be out Thursday morning. In the meantime, my only connection with the outside world was my cell phone, I had been without internet for going on 24 hours. I could not stream music, watch TV or connect to any of the usual suspects on the internet. If I had not already dowloaded a book to my Kindle, I couldn’t get to it to read it.

The Suddenlink technician was scheduled to come between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., which meant I had to get up at 7:30 to give me time to shower and otherwise accoutre myself like a respectable human bean. He called at 10:45 to say he was on his way. (From Midland, as it happens, which is 120 miles south of us.)(He’s trying to find an apartment in town. I don’t blame him. Heck of a commute.) We went through the spiel. He connected his little gizmo, and the line was deader than the proverbial door nail. There had, in truth, been an outage in my area, but it was fixed now so something else was going on. He went out to the alley to check the “war” and, lo, and behold, the “war” had been pulled completely loose from the pole. Some tall truck had evidently driven down the alley and snagged it. He not only reconnected it but replaced the “tap” which had been gnawed by squirrels, and was probably to blame for the intermittent loss of connection that has been driving me crazy for months. He also moved the tap higher up the pole which took up some of the slack in the line to the house.

Just like you don’t realize how much you depend on electricity, you don’t realize how much you depend on internet until you don’t have it. I’d think, well, I could do this — but no I couldn’t. No internet access. I’m telling you. I was about to the point of hunting out that CD player I’ve stuck up in the closet somewhere and playing one of the CD’s I have stockpiled. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a cell phone plan with unlimited data, or I could have streamed music over my phone. (I wonder if I ought to look into getting one of those solar phone charger gizmos?)

Sorry About The Geek-Out

As you might have noticed if you’ve hung out in this space for any length of time, knitting is my jam. Figuring out knitting patterns sparks joy in the tinkerer lobe of my brain, the part that likes to combine elements into new and interesting configurations and see what happens. I realize not everybody is willing to follow me down some of the rabbit holes I am likely to dive down at odd moments as a result, and that’s cool. To each one’s own jam.

I stopped by my mom’s house Saturday with a bouquet of snazzy two-tone roses and, as a little Mother’s Day surprise, I got her a slice of strawberry topped cheese cake. (What’s the point of living to be 96 years old if you can’t indulge in a slice of cheese cake now and again?)

I had to cut my visit short, though, because my mom had a “date!” She really enjoys attending the concerts of our local symphony orchestra, and the soloist Saturday night was a local boy who had made good singing in the big city. Mom had really wanted to go hear him but she couldn’t get anybody to go with and it was going to be in the newly-completed concert venue, and she’d never been there before. But then she lucked out. A couple she’s friends with were going, but then the wife’s bad back flared up unexpectedly late last week and at the last minute she was unable to attend the concert. She called my mom and asked her if she wanted to go in her place. The husband would pick Mom up and make sure she got in and out safely (The couple have a handicapped sticker for their car because of the wife’s bad back, so they could park close and mom wouldn’t have to hike across a parking lot.) So that was an unexpected Mother’s Day treat.

While I was visiting my mom, she mentioned that her oldest sister’s boy was driving in from New Mexico to visit Wednesday of next week, would spend the night, and wanted to take her and me out to eat that night. We both are looking forward to that.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with the “Waves on a Wine Dark Sea” shawl and have worked on it a lot, carrying it and its bowl from room to room (it’s on my computer desk right now). As I mentioned previously, the color repeats are pretty short on this yarn, and as the “work face” of the shawl lengthens, the stripes get shorter and shorter. Eventually, a stripe won’t make it all the way across, and I’ll be interested to see what that looks like. So far, I like it.

Earlier today, I realized this new pattern is unfortunately biased toward continental knitters and flickers. If you are an American/English style wrapper, all the seed stitch (p1, k1) in this pattern is going to wear you out!

Each time I get to the end of the skein on the Short, Sweet, and Nubby shawl, I’ve got to make sure the new skein I add on is at the right point of the color sequence. I’d been lucky so far, but with the last skein I added on, I ended up having to

cut off about a 2-inch diameter ball’s worth of yarn in order to get to the right point in the color sequence. No problem. I’m fringing the shawl, so that cut off bit will end up as fringe.

I decided to try out this new shampoo and conditioner with tea tree oil and peppermint in to see if it would help with split ends, itchy scalp, hair growth and hair loss. Since I do not blow dry my hair but let it dry in the air after I wash it, I put it in a towel turban for about half an hour to soak up as much water as possible. With the previous shampoo and conditioner, it had been taking about 10 minutes to very carefully comb it out

from the bottom up with a wide-tooth comb. Today, however, my hair was nowhere near as tangled when I combed it out, which I like.

I know “ball” winders are cool and save time, but center-pull cakes are still pull skeins, and pull skeins not only barf yarn, but get these long loops that keep getting wound around the strand of working yarn and snarl things up. Pull skeins are tools of the Devil, y’all.

Thinky Thoughts on Writing Knitting Patterns

I really like how the Sweet Irene shawl turned out. I like the shape, the drape, the thickness of the fabric that sock yarn on a US6 (4.0 mm) produces, and the lace borders.

I had seen the Paris Toujours pattern by Isabell Kraemer, gotten it, and started it in this Premier Serenity Sock Yarn (colorway Violas). But it’s a variegated yarn with a relatively short color repeat and that yarn with that pattern just did not spark joy. So, I frogged it and went with Berroco’s Modern Cotton DK yarn in a solid color (blue) instead and like it much better.

But I kept thinking about that poor Premier Serenity Sock yarn, its colorway discontinued, its hopes of being something dashed, languishing all forlorn and alone in stash and I decided to write another pattern for it based on the Sweet Irene shawl. For starters, I wanted to modify the lace borders to incorporate that nifty new sl1 wyif (slip 1 with yarn in front) detail I had learned from the Paris Toujours pattern, and I liked the fabric that the seed stitch produces on the Short, Sweet and Nubby shawl and wanted to use that instead of garter stitch in the body of the shawl.

I learned on Short, Sweet and Nubby that the key to making seed stitch WOL-proof was to work it over an uneven number of stitches. That way you don’t have to keep track of whether you started the previous row with a knit or a purl. You can start every row with the same stitch (p1 in this case) and it automatically comes out right. So there would need to be an uneven number of stitches in the body of the new pattern.

The Sweet Irene shawl has a short (2-row) pattern repeat, which is easy to memorize, with the two different border patterns worked on alternating rows. Both border patterns are worked over the same number of stitches (the last 6 stitches of every row), which again makes the pattern easy to memorize. I wanted to carry that simplicity over into the new pattern.

In the Sweet Irene shawl, the increases were all on one side of the work (above left), giving it an asymmetrical shape, which I liked. I wanted the new shawl to have the same shape. On Sweet Irene, the lace border with the increases is worked: (kfb x3), p1, ssk. Those three kfb’s give you an increase of +3 stitches. The ssk is a decrease (-1). +3 -1 equals a net increase of +2 stitches every other row. The sl1 wyif detail is worked over 2 stitches, so I’d have to add stitches for that. But that would make the increase border worked over 8 stitches, and I don’t like the number 8. By eliminating the p1, I could get it down to 7 stitches: (kfb x3), ssk, sl1 wyif, k1. OK. Got that bit.

To get that asymmetrical shape, the other lace border (above right) needed to have a net increase of 0. This means the increases and decreases have to exactly cancel each other out. That border was worked: kfb, yo, k2tog, p1, ssk. (You have increases of +1 from the kfb and +1 from the yo, and a decrease of -1 from the k2tog and -1 from the ssk, for a net increase of 0.) But again, adding the two stitches for the sl1 wyif edging ups the number of stitches to 8. I fiddled and finagled and finally got it down to 7 stitches: kfb, yo, sssk, k1, sliwyif, k1. Because I left out the ssk, I changed the k2tog to an sssk (slip 3 stitches and knit them together through the back loop) to get rid of that extra stitch and get the net increase back to 0. Ok. Got that bit.

What took me the lion’s share of the 8+ hours (plus a good deal of swearing and frogging) that it took to get the pattern to the final version was working out how to get from “cast on n stitches” to the 17 stitches it takes to establish the pattern (7 stitches for the left border plus an odd number (3) of stitches for the seed stitch body, plus 7 stitches for the right border). That row and the row that works the edging on the other side are the “rows x and y” that you repeat until the piece is the size you want. The starting point is not quite as curly as Sweet Irene’s but judging by what I’ve done so far, Waves on a Wine Dark Sea is going to be another winner.

Again, I’ll be able to carry that right border around the corner and use it as a knitted on border to finish off the long edge of the shawl by changing the kfb to k2fb. And, this point is going to have a tassel.

Oops! I Did It Again!

Wrote another shawl pattern based on the Sweet Irene shawl pattern, but incorporating that nifty edge thing from the Paris Toujours shawl by Isabell Kraemer. Only took about 8 hours and about 15 false starts to get the numbers to come out right. (I have a “renmant” ball of scrap yarn I use for pattern testing. When the end of it gets too frayed from being frogged and reknit too many times, I just cut it off and throw it away. Once I’ve got the pattern how I like it, I switch to the yarn I intend to use for it.)

That poor variegated mulberry sock yarn was so disappointed when I frogged out the Paris Toujours start I did using it, and I felt so sorry for it. (And if you believe that, I can get you a great deal on this low-mileage, one-owner bridge in New York . . .). Anyway, I’m giving the new pattern a real artsy-fartsy name with a classical Greek reference — “Waves in a Wine Dark Sea”. It has that nifty edge detail on both sides, not just on the one side like the Paris Toujours

I’m moving right along on the Short, Sweet and Nubby shawl. I’ve decided to put a “self” triple knotted fringe on each end. I have two more regular pull skeins of that yarn, as well as a “super skein,”so I ought to have plenty of yarn for it

I think that kind of fring will look nice on it. I’ll have to find something of appropriate diameter to knot the fringe around to insure all the knots are uniform. That’ll be a fun project when I get to that point.

Today was one of those days when I wish I had magical powers like Samantha on “Bewitched.” Just wriggle my nose, bwika-bwika-bwika! and have it all done.

While I was at the computer working on the above shawl pattern, I looked over at my clock and the clock’s thermometer showed it was 82 F (27.7 C) in my office. Shortly after that, the AC came on, which means it was 80 F (26.6 C) in the hallway by the AC thermostat. I’ve already got one of my pedestal fans set to blow across my bed. Guess I’ll have to go get one of the other ones out and set it to blow across the chair at my computer desk. Stand by for electric bills that are higher than giraffe’s ears again. At least we made it to May before we started to get consistently hot weather.

Well., I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Although all I’ve done all day was sit and knit, my poor little grey cells have gotten quite a workout.

Yeas, Nays, and Nope!

I went to the grocery store without a mask yesterday (I’ve had both my COVaccinations), and it felt weird to be out and about without a mask, especially when the grocery store employees are required to wear them. Happily, many of the customers were wearing them, too. Not all the folk with naked faces were oldies but moldies like me, unfortunately. Guess this is the “new normal.”

Trouble is, the old normal was nice. I liked it. Unfortunately, the world seems bent on arbitrarily and inopportunely replacing it at random intervals with a “new normal” which never seems to be as good as, nor quite the same as what was just fine to begin with. I find it disgruntling. In fact, it’s getting to the point where I’ve been disgruntled for so long I’ve forgotten what gruntled feels like anymore, which is sad, really. Sigh.

I mentioned that Mohonk yarn that was begging to be a shawl. After a false start (above left) and a pattern rethink/rewrite (middle) it is well on its way (above right). It’s sock yarn, and I’m using a US 3 (3.25 mm) needle so this will be a WIP for awhile. Its pattern reminded me of the rune* which at various times and places was used for “Z” (Algiz, “elk”), “K” (Kalc, “chalice”) and “Y” (Huyri), and which symbolizes protection from enemies and defense of that which one loves. Protection and defense. I like that in a shawl.

Then, I was innocently working on the Huyri Shawl and watching Episode 34 of the “Needles at the Ready” podcast (I’m looking at you, Kevin), and saw this.

At first I thought I’d use this Premier Serenity Sock yarn (above left), but I struggled and struggled and finally, I frogged it. Between the pattern and the color variegation, it was just too busy. So then I tried the Berroco Modern Cotton DK in the colorway 6685 Waterman Pond, and it was Goldilocks. I have to be vigilant about keeping my stitches “clean,” though, as this yarn can split very easily. It’s 60% Pima cotton and 40% modal Rayon, and it has a very soft hand. The pattern is written for either DK weight on a US8 (5 mm) needle, or fingering/sock weight on a US5 (3.75 mm) needle, but I’m going with a US3 (3.25 mm) because I like the fabric I get with that size needle. The DK version on a US8 calls for 750 yards (690 m), and the fingering version on a US5 calls for 900 yards (840 m). The Modern Cotton DK comes in 335 yard (306 m) skeins, and I have 7 skeins. Even on a US 3 needle, I’d be surprised if it takes more than 5 skeins.

This pattern has an interesting edge along the left side of the shawl that’s worked with the last two stitches on the right-side row as sl1 wyif, k1, and the wrong side row starts with sl1 wyif, k1. I like it. I’m already thinking about how I can use it. That’s the problem. I get a new idea and my mind wants to run with it. I want all the yarn so I can knit all the things. Sigh.

I’m kinda/sorta following the pattern, or at least the part that tells you how to do the lace and the garter bits. (Frequent readers will have noticed I have a tendency to go off piste.)

*Why, yes. I am a geek.