Now They’re Both Gone

Koko the western lowland gorilla famous for having learned a modified version of American Sign Language passed away in her sleep four days ago.  She was 46 years old.

Now they’re both gone.  The world is much the poorer for their loss.

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Why I Have So Many Projects Going At Once

Happy Summer Solstice, y’all! 

I was working on this little baby blanket (left) for car seats a while ago.  It has a vertical “eyelet” border — where you do (k2) on one row and (k2tog, yo),  on the next row, and it leaves a little hole.  The way most patterns “mimic” this for the horizontal borders is with a row of (k2tog, yo).  I used that on this blanket, but since it plays into the pattern, I don’t mind it so much.  However, in other instances, I have never been happy with how it looks.

I got to thinking as I was knitting on it how I could recreate the look of the vertical border for the horizontal border and had a brain wave.

Naturally, I had to stop what I was doing, go boot up the computer,  and try out what I was thinking (writing it down on the computer as I went).  It took a bit, but I finally got it worked out — a way to get that “two twisted strands of yarn” look on a horizontal border.

I like the way it looks so much better than the (k2tog, yo) look.

It’s hard to take a good picture of it, but the way I do it mimics the look of the vertical border so much better, I think.   I had to invent a couple of stitches in order to do it, though:

psro = pass the stitch to the right over the last stitch knitted. (Unlike the traditional “psso” where the first stitch is slipped without being worked, BOTH stitches are knitted.)
sspbl, kbl = insert right needle as though to purl through the back loop and slip the stitch to the right needle, put the slipped stitch back on the left needle and purl through the back loop.
nbs = number of stitches in vertical border.

Row 1:  k(nbs), *k2, psro, repeat from * until (1+ nbs) remain, k2, psro, knit to end of row.
Row 2:  k(nbs), *yo, sspbl, kbl, repeat from * until (nbs) remain, yo, knit to the end of the row.

I’m posting this in my knitting blog.  I’ve written it so you can modify a pattern you already have, as well as incorporate it into a new pattern you’re writing.

Say “Hello,” to my little friend.

In other news, as I mentioned before, I’ve been on home oxygen since 30 May, but I’ve managed to wean down from 2 liters to 1 liter successfully.  Now I’ve gotten to the point where if something will be a PITA to do while I’m wearing the oxygen thingie with its 50-foot long tube that I have to drag around, I take it off and do the thing without oxygen, going up to 10 minutes without it sometimes and most of the time staying above 90% oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen being carried in arterial blood = blood oxygen level or O2 sat.   100% is as good as it gets).  I had to get this little pulse oximeter (see above) on my way home from the hospital so I can keep track of my O2 sat.  On the gizmo’s readout, the top number is my pulse, the second number is my blood oxygen level/O2 sat.

Just now, I got up from the computer, threw an empty apple juice bottle away in the kitchen trash, took a potty break, went back to the back bedroom and took a couple pictures of the Car Seat Baby Blanket (green one above) I was working on earlier, and came back and sat down, all without my oxygen on.  My o2sat did fall to 88% (anything below 90% is too low), but once I sat down and took a couple of deep breaths, it went back up to 90% before I even put my oxygen back on.  I’m making progress.  I’m bound and determined I’m going to ditch this oxygen rig for good before I go see the pulmonologist on 11 July.

I have a collection of “sleep shirts” (teeshirts with shirt tails that go down to my knees) that I wear around the house in the summer because they’re cotton and cool.  Three of them happen to have a little pocket on them, and I’ve been rotating between having one clean, wearing one, and having one in the wash since I got out of hospital.  This is so I can keep my little friend, the red pulse oximeter, in the little pocket where it’s always handy.

I’ve decided that tomorrow I’m going to start exercising again (with oxygen on).  I’m going to do the postsurgical rehab exercises for my legs that they gave me when I broke my kneecap, as well as some exercises for my upper back mostly to help me stand up straighter and pull my shoulders back.

I went to knitting group Tuesday for the first time in over a month.  I had planned to go and had intended to drive myself — I’ve driven several times with the oxygen tank in the passenger seat.  But then, my good friends LB texted me asking if they could come pick me up and take me to knitting group.   As it was a great opportunity to visit with both LB and her husband C, I agreed to go with them.  She is unable to drive due to vision problems from her multiple bouts of chemotherapy  (she now has stage IV breast cancer with metastasis to her bones) and C drives her to knitting group.  They are such a sweet couple.  We had a really nice visit.   LB has been knitting baby blankets.  She’s finished the pink one, and is now working on a blue one.  Apparently, both the blankets already have homes.  As I’ve said before, “There’s nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something.”

I might also mention that LB is now on a new type of chemotherapy that is in a pill form.  This is the very latest thing in cancer treatment.  They had such good results with it with lung cancer, achieving  a high remission rate even in more advanced stages, that they are now trying it on breast cancer, and it looks to be equally effective.  She has been on it for a couple months.  Now that she no longer has to go to the cancer center to receive IV infusions of chemotherapy but takes her chemo in pill form, they have been able to travel once she felt well enough.  They’ve taken several trips, to Florida and to Taos, New Mexico.  She said Tuesday that she is now feeling better than she has felt in over four years.  This is a good sign.  There is a possibility that with this new treatment, she might achieve remission, even with stage IV disease.  We are all hopeful.

Someone Special

There is a lady who lives in a stone house in Pembrokeshire, Wales, within walking distance of the sea.  She started out as an illustrator, illustrating other people’s books, but then words found her and she began writing the books she illustrated.   Her name is Jackie Morris.  I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now, and it has led me to the most wonderful books.  If you have small children in your life, or you love wonderful words and magical artwork, you need to look into her books.   I cannot think of a more wonderful first book for a small child of any ilk than her “Tell Me a Dragon.” She has books about fairy tale swans, cats, snow leopards, bears in general, polar bears in particular, hares, seal children, and  traditional nursery rhymes.

For older children from the age about 8 to 100, there is “The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow,” which grew out of the Christmas cards she designs each year for The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, a musician’s charity in the UK.  I can, and have, poured over the wonderfully intricate illustrations of this book for hours on end.

For the incurably romantic, there is her retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” with its gorgeous illustrations.  She writes nonfiction as well.  Queen of the Sky is the real-life story of the rescue and return to the wild of a peregrine falcon who fell into the sea.

Perhaps her illustration masterwork is a collaboration with author Robert MacFarlane which resulting in a rare jewel of a little book called, “The Lost Words.”  The text begs to be read aloud, to people of any age, from babes in arms to adults, and the illustrations are just magical.  There has been an amazing response to this book in the UK with spontaneous fundraising campaigns springing up to put a copy of this book in every school in Scotland,  and in every school in various counties in England and Wales —  which have all been overfunded!

She’s even written books that others have illustrated.  One called “Mrs. Noah’s Pockets” is one that springs to mind.  It is a charming little children’s story about Mrs. Noah, (the wife of the guy who did the ark thing) which, like all the best children’s stories,  is full of wisdom and subtlety.

Photo © 2018 Jackie Morris

Today I was reading her latest blog post about taking time off to go attend a concert by singer/songwriter Karine Polwart.  On her way back, she stopped at The Works in Llandeilo, Wales, an old weaving factory filled with antique stalls, to stretch her legs and during her browsing, she discovered a Georgian wooden paint box — complete with paints, with both bricks of watercolor paint and tubes of paint, and painterly acoutrements . . . which dated near as she can tell from sometime between 1800 and 1818.  Of course, it went home with her.

Now that she’s got this magical paint box, there’s no telling what she’ll come up with next.

 

From Small Beginnings

I got to rooting about in my yarn stash and discovered I had 6 skeins of Caron Simply Soft worsted weight yarn in a color called “Ocean,” and I decided to begin my version of the new “Cable Edged Shawl” with the different edging using this yarn.

Above, I’ve already done the garter stitch tab and have knitted about 5 rows on the body of the shawl.

At right, it’s a little farther along and in the proper orientation.  You can see the 3-stitch border across the top.

The two markers on either side of the center marker are for counting purposes to help me keep track of how many stitches I’ve got.  I put a marker ever 26 stitches.  There will be 10 groups of 26 +2 =262) At the end of the last row of the body, you cast on 33 additional stitches using the knitted cast on and begin to knit on the edging.  The edging is attached with ssk’s between the last edging stitch, and one of the live body stitches.  It’s pretty cool the way the edging goes on.  I’m going to take one more project besides this one back to my knitting nook so I can switch between projects.

I had errands to run today, and I waited until around 8 o’clock this evening when things were cooling back down again to go do it.  I had three tasks I needed to accomplish.  Firstly, I needed to mail a package, and I needed to buy postage for it.  Our post offices have little self service kiosks which only take credit cards.  They are located in the lobby where the post office boxes are, which is open 24/7 (including 8 o’clock on a Sunday evening) so people can get to their boxes.   I went to the post office nearest to me only to find that the self service kiosk was not working due to “technical difficulties.”  So I got back in the car and drove to the next nearest post office, and their kiosk was not working either — “technical difficulties.”

Secondly, I needed to go to Walgreen Pharmacy to get a couple of bottles of a supplement I take, and thirdly I was out of mouth wash which I could pick up while I was there.   They were out of the supplement.  He could order it for me and have it here by Tuesday.  But as I politely pointed out, I could order it from Amazon and have it here by Tuesday (which is what I’m going to have to start doing, I guess, since I can’t find a dependable supply locally) but I came to the store because I needed it now.   I did get the bottle of mouthwash, at least, so the outing was not a total loss.  Very frustrating.

Third Time Is Charmed

I had to stop working on my Cobblestone Lace shawl because I had been working on it so much  that I was so familiar with the pattern I wouldn’t pay attention to it, would get ahead of myself and make mistakes.  Ribbit!

Also, I don’t like the way the decreases look and I revamped the pattern.  (The pattern on my knitting blog is the latest, revamped version.) so the blue shawl is going to be a giveaway to someone who won’t be bothered by the way the decreases look.  I’m making another one for myself in a very light greyish blue.  I will finish both shawls, and the light blue one will eventually be the picture for the pattern in my knitting blog.  But, like I say, I’ve put them aside for a while to work on the Cable Edged shawl.

I had liked the Cable Edged Shawl pattern as written, but the scalloped edges of the lace curl and won’t lie flat, and acrylic yarn is tricky to block.  (Yes, you can too block acrylic yarn.)  I futzed around with the original pattern and modified it slightly, and the modified version is the one I’m making.  As I was working on it, and growing more and more displeased by the way the scalloped edging curls under, it occurred to me that maybe I could find a garter stitch lace pattern with edges that would lie flat and wouldn’t have to be blocked.  I looked through the collection I have on my computer, but none of them were suitable.  I went to the website where I got most of them and had another poke through the treasure chest and found one that would fill the bill.  It’s called Hilton Lace (which is why I’m calling it “My Own Private Hilton Shawl.”

Now here’s the thing:  the basic pattern for a braided cable has an 8-row repeat.  It has two different types of cable crosses (cable front and cable back) and 3 rows of stockinette between each cable cross.  I needed a lace pattern that had either an 8-row repeat or some multiple of 8 (i.e., 16, 24, 32, etc).  The Hilton Lace has a 16-row repeat, just like the lace pattern that was used in the Cable Edged Shawl pattern.  Simple.  I’ll just copy the Cable Edge Lace pattern to a blank page.  Since I’m familiar with the pattern and know what part of each line is the cable and what part is the lace, it should be a simple matter to cut and replace one lace pattern with the other.

Guess again.  The first time I tried it, I got the wrong edge of the lace against the cable — in effect, I put the lace on upside down.  The second time, I got the  lace right side up, but wrong side out:

 

 

 

When the cable was right side up, the lace was wrong side up.  Oop!  Ribbit! (Just to complicate matters, the Thompson seedless grapes I was snacking on weren’t always, so expletives and pejoratives were infrequently punctuated with grape pips.  Pa-ding!)

Finally, after much finagling and skoojuling, I got them both right side up and with the right edges together.  In order to get everything to come out right, I had to switch the cable crosses around, too, but I got it sorted. TaDa!

I also had to work out the little 6-row edging starting bit and ending bit as well, so I did the test swatch with the starting bit, two lace edge pattern repeats in between, then the ending bit to make sure everything came out right.

The edge on this lace readily lies flat and I’m very happy with the way it looks.  It’s also a wider border.  (The original border was 22-stitches wide.   This border is 33 stitches wide.)  It makes the shawl longer from top to bottom, which I like.  So, win there, too.   The best part is that the pattern repeat for this edging is interchangeable with the edging pattern on the original Cable Edged Shawl pattern.  I can use the pattern for the body of the shawl as written, and put whichever edging I want on it.  Total win.  And it only took me about 10 hours to sort it out.

Not much else is happening.  It’s too dang hot out to go outside except in the early morning.  Since I don’t start rustling up breakfast until 10 o’clock, I don’t go out then either.  Besides, it’s been wet enough that there’s skeeters, and that’s when they’re out, too.  Another reason to stay in.

It’s been almost 6 months since I lost the fat(cat)boy.  I still miss the little schnook, although time has worn the hard, sharp ache down to the odd twinge that catches me by surprise now and again.  I’ll see the Petsmart  “Petperks” tag on my keychain and realize why I haven’t been there in a long time.  The cabinet where I used to keep his food and the corner of the office closet where his poop box was now have other things there.  There is an empty corner in the kitchen, and silence, where his pet fountain used to sit gurgling.

About four months ago, I rearranged my furniture so that one of my comfortable arm chairs and its footstool that used to be in the living room is now in my rather large (master) bedroom, and I’ve set up my knitting nook around it with a pole lamp, a little night stand and my reader’s table.  If the book I’m reading is a dead tree edition, I often sit there to read.  One evening about three months ago, I started reading what turned out to be a particularly good book and, as not infrequently happens, I opened the front page and kept turning pages until there weren’t any more — which broke the spell.  I looked up at the clock, which said 4 o’clock (a.m.), and something in the hallway caught the corner of my eye.  I would have sworn it was a certain fat(cat)boy with his golden eyes aglow, sidling down the hall and into my bedroom . . . but of course it wasn’t.   I had a little cry, washed my face, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

The other evening I was walking down the hall toward the kitchen, and something on the floor up against one of the office bookcases caught my eye.  I went over to pick it up and it was a Greenie lying there like a little booby trap waiting to ambush me with a gut-punch in the memories.  Whenever I had to go out for more than an hour or two, I’d pour some Greenies in my hand and toss some in the office floor and the rest in the bedroom floor for him to hunt.  What are the odds that half a year later I would find one that he had missed (highly unlikely — he adored them), and that the cleaning lady (who is a very thorough vacuumer) had missed on three separate occasions?  I miss them all, every one.   This is the first time in 21 years I haven’t had at least one cat companion.   There’s many good reasons why it’s better not to have one right now.  Unfortunately, there one very good reason why it isn’t better not to have one right now; I haven’t lived alone in 21 years.

The Cobblestone Lace Shawl Pattern Is Up

Even though I haven’t finished the Cobblestone Lace shawl, I went through and straightened out the pattern with stitch counts, and revised it a little, and have posted it on my knitting blog here.  I have two versions of the pattern available.  One, the condensed version, has everything in little sections — the garter stitch lace pattern, the various shawl body patterns, and you have to assemble them as you knit.  That’s also the version of the pattern I published on the blog. However, for this particular pattern, I have made PDF files available for the condensed version (the version that appears on the blog) and the “linear” version, which is for people like me who like to have the pattern written out just as it is to be knitted, row by row.

Cooling Down to the High 90’s

Thankfully, this coming week the weather will be cooling down into the high 90’s F/35+C.  In an attempt to avoid an ice-cream bender, I’ve been eating things like cantaloupe, pineapple, mandarin oranges, etc., for dessert, especially the latter two on cottage cheese.  Both cooling and tasty.  I put the can of fruit in the refrigerator to get it cold before I put it on the refrigerated cottage cheese.  The trick is to get the fruit and cottage cheese to come out even, a spoonful of cottage cheese for every piece of fruit.  Nums.

In the knitting news, I have passed the halfway point on the Cobblestone Lace shawl and have started the first repeat of the decreases.  Pretty exciting.  The border is garter stitch lace, a nice wide lace which I like.  It has a scalloped edge and a nice pattern.  This is the most recent picture.  I’m pleased with how it’s coming along, and what it’s looking like.

I’ve decided to do the Oshara Mystery Shawl Knit-Along which has already started.  I got on board late and neither the yarn nor the 32- inch, size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needle I’ve ordered for the project is here yet.  It’s a four-week deal, and you just get 1/4th of the pattern each week to work on.  Each week she blogs about that part of it and people make comments.  I’ve already got the first part of the pattern and I’ll start knitting on it when I get the yarn and needle.  It’s done in a standard weight #1 yarn, which is a sock/baby weight yarn.  The yarn they want you to buy for the project is a blend of 70% baby llama and 30% silk, and it’s a bit pricey.  I just ordered some el cheapo acrylic baby yarn from Lion Brand in some nice purples and pinks that will knit up just as well.   As I said before, life’s too short to futz with expensive, high-maintenance, special-care garments.  The mystery is what the finished shawl will look like, as there are no pictures shown.

I finished the no-beads variation of the pink power hat, and now my 16-inch size 9 needles are free to do my summer cotton hat.  I put three braided dangles with beads on it just for fun.   I’m going to try to finish up the other three chemo hats I’ve got going, as well as start the cotton-silk hat for me.   Busy, busy.