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.


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.

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.

Moving Right Along

Things have been pretty same-old, same-old, except that I did write that center portion of the Cobblestone Lace Shawl pattern, and I’ve got one repetition knitted, two more to go. I’ve  got 12 more pattern repetitions of various patterns left to finish it: 2 of the center portion, 9 of the decrease and 1 of the ending pattern.  This is an old picture of it.  It’s about five inches longer now than it was then. 

I’m coming along nicely on my cable lace shawl (right).  I made a pact with myself that every time I sat down to knit on it, I would knit three repeats of the lace edging pattern, and I am happy to say I’ve now passed the halfway mark. I like to change up projects like this, because when you get this far along on a project, you practically have the pattern memorized, and then you start making mistakes — forgetting that Row 15 starts with a (K2tog) x2 instead of K2 like all the other right sided rows do.  or that the (yo, K2tog) on row 1 is x3 instead of x2 like the other right sided rows.  When that starts happening, I switch to the other shawl and work on it a while, which is what I’m doing now.

It’s been hot.  We’ve had a couple weeks now with highs in the 90’s F/32+C.  I shudder to think what my electric bills are going to be like.  They’ll most likely be higher than giraffes’ ears till well into October.   We still haven’t had any rain to speak of.  I may have to break down and water my yard.

Right now, I’m in the process of rereading the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos books.  Since I first read them in publication order, I am rereading them in chronological order.  i’m about 4 books in at the moment.