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.


After A Brief Digression, A Return to Business as Usual, Sort Of

As I have mentioned, I do have some health concerns, and they are ongoing.  I’m now just over a week out from a 10-day hospitalization which was prolonged because of hospital-acquired pneumonia.  Now I’m on home oxygen because I can’t even walk from one end of the house to the other without getting short of breath despite being on oxygen. I’m tethered to an oxygen concentrator by this 50-ft tube which I have to drag all over the house, and it’s infuriating.  The worst part of it is whenever I leave the house, I have to schlep this 10 lb metal oxygen tank on a little hand trolley everywhere I go.  I’m too used to being independent and being able to go where I want when I want, and this recent development is about to drive me crazy.  I am going to wean myself off the tube and regain my independence if it harelips the governor.*  I’ll spare you the rest of the rant.

Enough of that.  Let us now move on to more pleasant topics:

We are in the middle of a heat wave — weeks of 100F+/32C+ temperatures (my electric bills are higher than giraffe’s ears!) with occasional scattered thunder showers and other assorted pyrotechnics.

We got this little thunder boomer on 19 May, 2018, but we’ve had a couple more since.  As you can see, the hail is ricocheting off the neighbor’s roof, then off my porch and into my storm door.

Not surprisingly, with all this hot weather, I am on an iced chai laté kick, and here’s my recipe.

WOL’s Iced White Chai

4 tbsp of sugar (white or brown) or 3 tablespoons of honey, as you prefer.
1 bag of Twining’s Earl Grey Tea
1 bag of Twining’s English Breakfast Tea
2 bags of Twining’s Chai
6 cups of boiling water
a 16-oz bottle of Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Vanilla Almond Milk creamer.

a heavy glass or crockery heat-resistant 2-quart pitcher **
a large metal spoon or ladle
source of boiling water.

Fill the pitcher with straight hot tap water and leave it sit for about 10 minutes to preheat the pitcher. This is an important safety factor as it will help keep the pitcher from shattering when you fill it with boiling water.  Right after you empty out the hot water, put the sugar in and affix the tea bags to the side of the pitcher with a clip or clothes pin. Again, for safety, place the large metal spoon into the pitcher and pour the boiling water onto the spoon. Let the tea bags steep until the pitcher has cooled to room temperature.  Pour in the whole bottle of Natural Bliss, stir well, cover and refrigerate. Serve cold.  Enjoy. 

In the knitting news, I got me some of what we good ol’ girls in the knitting group I go to refer to as “snob yarn,”  i.e., the kind of high-end, natural fibers, exotic blends, artisanal (hand spun, hand dyed, etc.), limited quantities, only sold on websites or yupscale “Fiber Shoppes” at $15-$40 for a 50 g twist yarn.   I got it on closeout sale (50% off).   It’s called “Sublime,” a blend of 75% cotton and 25% silk.  It comes in 50 g (125 m/137 yds) “donut” skeins.  I wanted it for a summer hat.  I got 2 skeins of the above blue, as well as 2 skeins of silver, a skein of charcoal, and 2 skeins of purple.  I’ve got it all rolled into balls and ready to go.

Since I can’t wear wool and I knit a lot of chemo hats, pretty much all the yarn I buy is either acrylic (hypoallergenic, machine washable and dryable) or cotton yarn you can buy at Michael’s and Walmart.  (Life is too short for special care instructions.  If you can’t throw it in the washer and dryer, I don’t have time for it.) But I wanted something special, something breathable with a soft hand for a summer hat because I’m worth it.  However, I can’t start on it just yet because I want to do it on my size 9 (5.5 mm) 16-inch Red Lace Chiaogoo’s, and I can’t until I finish the without beads variation of this hat (see above) because it’s being done on my only set of 16-inch 9’s.  I have about 18 rows to go on it.  This is the first knitting I’ve done since I got out of the hospital last week.

Gratuitous product plug:  ChiaoGoo makes needles with standard points in wood, bamboo and stainless steel, circulars, DPN’s, single points, and interchangeables.  If you do a lot of lace knitting, however, you might want to try out one of their ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular needles.  The Red Lace needles have stainless steel tips which have a longer taper that make knitting stitches like k3tog, p3tog, sssk, psso, and multiple yarn overs easier.  The ChiaGoo Red Lace circulars come in all the standard diameters and in lengths from 16-inches to 60-inches. They have a flexible, memory-free, nylon-coated steel cable with superior joins.  They are also quite reasonably priced (around $9-$11 depending on size and length).  I really, really like them.  Confusingly, ChaioGoo also has an SS Red product line, which have stainless steel tips with a standard taper, so if you want the longer tapered lace tip, be sure to order the Red Lace needle.

One thing I want to try out on the body of this new hat I’m making for me is a k1, p1 pattern worked over 81 stitches per row.  Normally, seed stitch is worked over an even number of stitches with a row of k1, p1, alternating with a row of p1, k1, whether you’re working flat or in the round.  However, if you’re knitting in the round, working k1, p1 continuously over an odd number of stitches will accomplish the same thing without you having to keep track of which row you’re on.  The odd number of stitches will automatically alternate between k1 and p1 as the first stitch on the row and produce the pattern.

I’ve been having my hair cut Anne Lennox short (hear her fabulous voice) and will keep it that way for the foreseeable future, although I hate my hair short.  It’s just so much easier and quicker to wash and dry short, and until I can get my health issues sorted,  I’m having to ration my spoons.  My hair has a mind of its own, however, and sometimes it will be sticky-outy despite my best efforts to get it to behave.  (I do not blow dry, perm, color, or use jgels, mousses or any other kind of “product” except Johnson’s Baby Shampoo on my hair.  My hair is too fine and fly-away, and life is too short for all that high-maintenance nonsense.)  Hence, the hat.  Stay tuned.

In other knitting news, I’m about half finished with both my shawls (sorry, I don’t have a more recent picture of the blue one).  The light teal one is the Cable Edged Shawl.  The blue one (I’m calling it “Cobblestone Lace”) is my own pattern, and I will publish it on my knitting site and on Ravelry once the shawl is finished and I have a good picture of the completed shawl.

*a "harelip" is now considered to be a politically incorrect term for congenital cleft lip deformity, which is a birth defect.  However, it also refers to a type of through-and-through laceration of the upper lip resulting from being punched or struck in the mouth, i.e., a lip that is split below the nose like a hare's.

** I would not use an aluminum pitcher as aluminum will alter the taste of the tea.  You could use a stainless steel pitcher, but I prefer glass or crockery as neither affects the taste of the tea.  Pyrex glass  or heat resistant glass carafes work, too.  Never make tea in something that has previously been used to make coffee.  No matter how thoroughly you clean it, you cannot remove all the residual oils from the coffee, which will ruin the taste of the tea.

Life Has Been Keeping Me Too Busy To Blog

Sorry for the unintended hiatus.  As I noted, I have been having some health problems, which have not been helped by having had some adverse reactions to some new drugs my docs seem to think I need to take — not very nice side effects which necessitated changing things around.  That took about two weeks to get sorted out, and things were smoothing out and settling down.  Then out of the blue, I had a violently allergic reaction to something.  I ended up in the ER with hives and ITCHING from one end of me to the other.  Not fun.  I was taking several new meds and we didn’t know which might be the culprit that caused the reaction. I had to stop taking everything except two meds I’ve been taking for years that I was in the middle of bottles of, so I knew they were unchanged, and one I couldn’t stop taking.  I had to wait about a week to make sure that one new one was OK, which it was.  Then, one at a time, I added each new one back in until I identified the culprit.  Turned out it wasn’t one of the new meds after all.  The manufacturer of a supplement I’ve been taking for years decided to change the type of capsule they put it in to some kind of “vegetable capsule” to which I was wildly allergic.  Thankfully, I was able to find another manufacturer that put theirs in gelatin capsules, as it’s a supplement that makes my life a lot easier when I take it.

And then there was the matter of getting my car fixed. It did take right at two weeks and the guy’s insurance had to pony up over $4000, but Big Daddy got’er done.  I got a rental “loaner” to drive while it was being fixed, a little 2018 Chevy miniSUV, but it was one of those “keyless” ones.  So long as you have the little remote thingie in your purse or pocket, you can unlock the car by just opening the door and start the car by just pushing a button.  But I’ve got the Greyola back now, all fixed up, and my ride is back to normal again.   I missed it.

Not much to report in the knitting news, I’m afraid.  I’ve been batting around so much dealing with one issue and another that I haven’t had much peace and quiet to sit down and enjoy a good knit except when I’ve been at the computer.  I’ve got probably another 15-20 rows on the body of my (slightly modified) cable edged shawl (above) before I get it to the point where I’m ready to start the cable edging. As for the other one, I simply haven’t had the concentration it takes to work on it.  Thank goodness I’ve had the discipline to put in my lifelines after every pattern repeat, as I had to frog out a repeat and a half the last time I tried to work on it.

There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr Regency murder mystery out by C. S. Harris (#13 in the series), and I’m reading up onto it from #7 to refresh my memory.  (Each of the books is stand alone, so you can start with any book in the series, but the reading experience is greatly enhanced by reading them in the (chronological) order in which they were written.)  The books  are well written and meticulously researched, and the characters are very three-dimensional and engaging.  One of the things I like about the books is that Harris sets her works, not in the romanticized glittering Regency of the romance novel, or the sequestered, self-contained world of Jane Austen, but in the gritty historical reality that was the Regency period in England (1811–1820) — warts and all —  the crime, the poverty, the inequities of the class system and the legal system, and the aristocratic attitudes and privileges that reinforce the status quo.

Another of the things I like about her books is that she sets them within their historical context, both in Europe and America.  Leading up to the period in which the novels are set was the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the loss of the American colonies, as well as the social upheavals of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, and the subsequent influx of French refuges into Britain fleeing the Reign of Terror.  During the time the books take place, Britain is fighting Napoleon on the continent (1803-1815).  In the first book, the hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, formerly a captain in the Duke of Wellington‘s army fighting against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal, has sold his commission and returned to England.  In one of the books, a plot point involves the British practice of stopping American merchant ships at sea and impressing American sailors off them into the British navy, one of the causes of the War of 1812, and we briefly meet Franklin, fils.   Another mentions a popular new novel called Pride and Prejudice, by the (at that time unknown) author of Sense and Sensibility,  and a certain black cat finally acquires a name.  Another involves a 3-year-old boy who will grow up to write a poem called “The Lady of Shalott.”   At the end of each book is an Author’s Note, in which Harris, who has a Ph.D. in 18th and 19th century European history, tells you what is actual history and what she changed, added, or manipulated to serve her plot — which is usually very little.  She also provides sources where you can read more about the particular issues or events featured in the plot.  Though the man character is a man, one of the historical themes that weaves through all her books is the issue of women’s status and women’s rights in Regency England and the roles society demanded that women play.  These themes are highlighted not only in plot points and the characters they involve, but are “made flesh” in one of my favorite characters in the books, a certain grey-eyed young lady named Hero.

You can read the Sebastian St. Cyr books on several levels.   They are entertaining and well-plotted, with engaging, well-rounded characters, a “good read.” But there’s plenty of meat on the bone — historical, sociological, psychological — to give you something of substance to chew on afterward, and maybe explore further.  Enough meat that they hold up to rereading very well.  And, yes, what Sebastian has (Bithil syndrome) is a for-real (though quite rare) genetic mutation.


It’s Getting Better, Slowly But Noticeably

This past week and a half has been like getting a giant charley horse in my life, and slowly, over the past couple of days, I’ve been just kind of stretching through the cramp and loosening it up, and aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

Yesterday and today, I sat at the computer catching up on my blog reading and video watching, and knitted on the modified body of my cable edged shawl.  I’m really liking the increase in density of going to the smaller needle for the shawl body, and I did really need to go to 3 stitches for the garter stitch border on the leading edge of the shawl to balance the denser stitching in the body.

Some interesting things going on in the construction of the shawl body:  The garter tab is what sets up that 3-stitch leading edge border, which is knitted across the top edge of the shawl in both directions from the center point established by the garter tab.  However, in between that border and the body of the shawl is a yarn over (yo) on each end on every row, which increases your stitch count by two stitches every row (from the 9 of the tab, to 260).  That yarn over is what gives that little openwork line that makes it look like the border and the body are going in two different directions, when actually they’re not.  What you end up with is a semicircular piece of knitting with the 3-stitch garter stitch border across the diameter (top), and live stitches all around the circumference.  Then you start the garter stitch lace edging on another needle and each time you knit a row of the edging, you incorporate live stitches off the shawl body and join the edging on.

The garter tab is a nifty little bit of knitting in and of itself.  In this case, you cast on 3 stitches, knit 3 rows, then you turn your work 90 degrees to the right, pick up 3 stitches down the side of the tab, turn it another 90 degrees to the right, and pick up 3 more stitches across the bottom for a total of 9 stitches.  Your original 3 stitches become one side of the border, the stitches you picked up down the side become the body of the shawl, and the stitches you picked up across the bottom become the other side of the border.  It’s that little “turn the corner” around the tab that lets the border stitches go in both directions at once.  This type of construction is best for top-down shawls, both semicircular and triangular.  How you work your increases can give you some interesting patterns and textures.

I think I’m going to be exploring this type of shawl construction a little more.  I’ve found some garter stitch lace patterns for edging, and I found one that includes a mitered corner, which would work with a triangular shawl.

I’ve just sat down again from getting up doing things — I’m on a kick where I’m hungry for those baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and pieces of cantaloupe dipped in this particular brand of Ranch dressing, so I had to get up and get a plate of that.  Noshed on that while I read blogs, knitted, and played Spider solitaire.  Then I decided I wanted to bake some potatoes (I had three stashed in the fridge), so I got up and did that (washed, dried, rubbed with olive oil, baked in the oven at 360° for an hour).  (They’re baked and cooling now.)  While those were in the oven I made a bowl of tuna salad with tuna, chopped raw white onions, chopped kosher dill pickles, chopped black olives, and a (drained) can of those mixed peas and chopped carrots, with mayo and two large spoons of that Ranch dressing.  It’s chilling in the fridge as I type.  I must be getting better.  That’s the most cooking I’ve done in months.  I’ve got some Carr’s Table Water Crackers I’ll spoon the tuna salad on for noshing here directly.


What’s Going on Here?

I’ve lost about 9 days in a furious little, highly frustrating, energy draining, distracting, AAARRRHHH!!! health/life tangle that’s left me with a lot of aggravation, complications, and pointless scrambling about.  I could go into all the gory details but that’s not what this blog is about.  It was all just stupid on so many levels and all up in my face and in my way, and keeping me from doing what I want to be doing, which right now (and not surprisingly) is being quiet, calm, cocooned and knitting something.   Today is the first day I’ve been able to be where I want to be and just chill for a while.

So I was playing around with the cable edged shawl pattern and thought I saw something there I wanted to go after.  I was working it according to pattern, and thought it was going in a way I wanted to go, but, no.   I picked it up again today and, no.  Just, no.  Frogged it all out.  &*%$*#!  But I think I see what’s going on and why I don’t like the bits I don’t like, and how I can push the pattern closer to what I want.

The yarn weight works, but I’m going with a US9 (5.5 mm) needle instead of the US10 (6.0 mm) because I don’t want so lacy.   And the two stitch garter border for the top edge of the body of the shawl is too thin to my eye, and a 4-row garter tab to get 6 stitches is too deep and I didn’t like how that bit lay.  A 3-stitch border looks better to me, with a 3-stitch cast on and a 3-row garter tab to get 9 stitches.

The increase row for the shawl body adds 2 stitches a row using yarn overs.  I get that, and I see how it works.   However,  in the original pattern, you start the shawl body from a tab base of 6 stitches, which is an even number, and 9 isn’t, so if I start from a tab base of 9 stitches, I’ve got to sneakily either get rid of one stitch somewhere, somehow, or else add a stitch in somewhere, somehow to even things out so I’ll come out with the right number of working stitches (260) along the bottom edge of the shawl body so the edging pattern repeats will come out even.  So, in the pattern I’m writing to keep track of what I’m doing, I’ve got a step:  “Repeat row 2 until 260 stitches total.  In order to achieve this stitch count, at some random point in the shawl body work a single k2tog and mark it with a stitch marker so you’ll know you’ve done it.”  So there’s that.

My garter stitch lace shawl is coming along.  I’m liking the proportions of the increase.  I’m on my third pattern repeat for the edging.  Sticky notes work OK, but the stickum wears off the note when you have a pattern with a lot of repeats, like this one has.   I just surrendered to reality and got a typist stand for the pattern.  It is going to make doing this shawl so much easier, but it will also make knitting from any printed pattern easier, especially one with edging repeats, like the cable edged shawl will have.  I’m disciplining myself to do a whole pattern repeat at a sitting and to put my lifelines in at the end of each pattern repeat.   Dental floss.  Who knew?


Tis the season to be sneezing.  The Bradford Ornamental Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) are blooming all over town and my sinuses are in a howling uproar.  Of course, if you followed the link and read the article, you’ll know I’ll have my revenge on the owners of the dang things sooner or later. . . .

And not to put too fine a point on my day, . . . .Coming out of the parking lot at the doctor’s office this morning, a pickup (what else?) backed into me.  His bumper got all four side panels a good lick and did a number on my front passenger door handle.  It’s the pickup’s fault; I’ve got his info, but it’s all a big hassle I’ve got to deal with.   They’ll probably have to replace both the front and rear fender panels and both door panels and the door handle.   His insurance is supposed to furnish me a loaner while they’re fixing it, but that’s a hassle, and taking it in and however long it’s going to take to fix it is a hassle.  I’ve got too many things going on in my life right now and the last thing I need is one more hassle to have to deal with. AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

And not to put too fine a point on this absolute bummer of a Pi Day, Stephen Hawking passed away.  On Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Some life happened, folks.  I’ve been having some health problems, which I won’t go into here.  One of them I knew about and I’ve been coping with it.  The other one came flying in out of left field and caught me flat footed. Add in a couple of adverse drug reactions (HIVES!) and these past two weeks have not been fun.  The scariest thing about it, though, is how the VA came through for me on some drugs that would have otherwise cost me $94 for 20 pills, as well as the other meds I needed.  Anyway.  Hopefully, things will settle back down again and I’ll have more frequent updates.

I’ve started working on this Cable Edged Shawl pattern which I’m doing in a Lion Brand Heartlands yarn called “Glacier Bay.” It’s worked as a garter tab from the leading edge downward, and you put the edging on last, working at right angles to the shawl body.  You work the whole body first, and I’ve got a way to go on that.  Simple garter stitch, but with a nice edging.

I’ve also gotten a little farther along on my modification of this pattern.  I took the hint of using dental floss as lifelines, putting in a lifeline after every pattern repeat.  I like the way it’s coming along so far, especially the texture of the shawl body.

I’m on my third pattern repeat.  You can see how the garter stitch lace edging is shaping up.  The only hard part about it, actually, is the garter stitch lace bit.  The rest of it is pretty straightforward.  So far, so good.  I will post the pattern on my knitting blog when I get it worked through.

I’ve been doing a re-re-re. . . read of C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner books, which has been instrumental in helping me keep my sanity through the fun and games I’ve been having.  I’m about halfway through.   There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr book due out, which I’m looking forward to.  Regency murder mystery . . .!

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.