Isn’t That Always The Way

First off, I’m really bummed about the Queen passing away. Tears in my eyes bummed. Watching the Queen’s coronation (in B&W) on our floor model Motorola TV is one of my earliest memories. I had just turned 4. My brother was at the “cruising” stage of learning to walk and kept getting his head in front of the TV screen. The Queen was two years younger than my mother, who will be 98 in about two weeks. Stay tuned for that.

One of the things that has been holding up my transfer to the new computer was finding a feed reader that worked as well as the old NewsFox reader that FireFox had. I follow a bunch of blogs and webcomics, and NewsFox organized them all in one place and made it so simple to keep up with them. I think I’ve finally found one: QuiteRSS. Which is good, because this evening I was trying to clean up my NewsFox feeds so I could export only the feeds I actually wanted and accidentally deleted a bunch of feeds I didn’t mean to. Fortunately, I had already exported the “dirty” version of the feeds, but when I tried to reload the feeds in NewsFox (which runs in the FireFox browser I stopped updating about three years ago just before it was going to stop supporting NewsFox), it discombobulated.

So I set up QuiteRSS on my Windows 7 machine and imported the great mishmash of past and present blog and webcomic feeds I had on NewsFox. Then I spent about two hours going through and deleting the defunct and abandoned feeds and completed webcomics and then I had to go into properties on each and every cotton-picking feed and untick a box so QuiteRSS would display the whole webpage instead of just a “headline.” Then I could export a clean copy of the .opml file to the other machine.

QuiteRSS does almost everything NewsFox did, except it’s not set into a browser so I can’t use the browser “Find” feature to find words in the text, and when I want to look something up, I have to go to another program (web browser) instead of to another tab. It only took me about an hour to set up QuiteRS on my Windows 11 machine. Unfortunately, I still had to go into the properties on every stupid feed and untick the box so it would display the way I want it to. I also figured out how to resize the type and change the font. The font that comes off the rack with the program is some off the wall typeface I’ve never heard of and the size was miniscule. I changed it to good old Arial 11 so I can read it without binoculars. The date was given in European format (2-digit day.2-digit month.2-digit year) and I figured out how to fix that, too. So. That’s one more thing I’ve moved over to the new computer.

The hard drive on the new machine is only 250 GB, which isn’t big enough for all my music and graphics and photos. I’ve got two hard drives in the old computer, one of which is a Seagate 1 TB. I’ve decided to get an external hard drive. It would be easier than schlepping my computer tower to someplace so they can look at it to see if I can transfer the Seagate drive from my old machine to the new one. I can get a 6 TB Western Digital external hard drive for about what it would cost me to pay somebody to switch out the drive from one computer to the other — assuming the new computer even has a slot for a second drive — which it probably doesn’t. My final chemo session is the 26th. An external hard drive would be a perfect “good girl” treat for FINALLY finishing chemo.

I’ll be glad to stop straddling computers. Gmail doesn’t work on my old one anymore, and I have to boot the new computer up so I can check my email. I’ve got this jicky little Bluetooth keyboard and mouse hooked up to the new computer, and I’ve been operating for months with two mice and two keyboards and only one monitor per computer. I’m so used to having two monitors that it’s like doing everything with one eye closed.

Maybe once I get done with all the chemo stuff I can settle down and finally sort this computer mess out. Trying to write on one monitor is the pits. I’m juggling between the time line document and a dictionary app, the reference document and the actual story manuscript. So much easier when I don’t have to play peek-a-boo between what I’m writing and some other document I’m referring to. I can have references and the dictionary app, and a browser and some kind of music app open on one screen and the manuscript open on the other and I can revise and change the reference document and the time line as needed. Or I can listen to a YouTube video like a TED talk or scholarly lecture, or some music playlist on one screen while I’m working a puzzle on Jigsaw Planet on the other. My amigo Shoreacres found a version of my old werewolf monitor widget (it has a little graphic of the moon that displays the phases) that I could get to run on Windows 11, and now I’ve found a replacement for NewsFox.

Except for my writing, which is going to be a booger to transition from Word 2010 to the newest version of Word*, and transferring some programs, the rest of the computer change over is mostly just moving files – lots and lots of files – and setting up the external hard drive and the little (4 TB) external backup drive. And then when I grab a mouse, I won’t have to stop and remember which mouse goes to which computer, and I won’t have to use that jicky little keyboard anymore. (I have this lovely Logitech gamer keyboard that has a wrist ramp, a 10-key pad and a feather-light touch.)(This is my third. I’ve already worn two out — good thing I’m a touch typist. I had worn the letters off most of the keys before some of the most-used keys just quit working. Logitech has been making them for a while. I got the first one while I was still working as a medical transcriptionist. )

In the knitting news, there isn’t any. Now that the most urgent baby knitting is off the needles and gone to Garland, I’ve been taking a breather.

*I’m going to take the opportunity to work out a “universal” manuscript template so all my manuscripts will have the same margins, line spacing, font, etc., which means I will be reformatting everything. Sigh.

The Roof Over My Head

Fortunately, I was more or less awake at 6:55 a.m. yesterday morning when my doorbell rang.  I heard it, thought it might be a USPS or UPS delivery — I do have one Amazon order outstanding.  (It’s a used book, and I am resigned to the fact that it will get here when it gets here.)  There are some conscientious delivery folk who plong the doorbell of the houses on whose porches they leave boxes, and it was not out of the realm of possibility that one might have started their day entirely too early because HOT in Tx in Aug, or COVID-thinned ranks.

I threw on one of my sleep shirts (which I don’t sleep in, oddly enough) and meandered toward the front door thinking thoughts of porch piracy and the removal of temptation, when the doorbell plonged again.  I do have a glass storm door with a fairly substantial ($7.73) latch on it.  I unlocked the front door and peered around it to see that there was a very rotund young Hispanic man  on my porch, who informed me that the roofing crew was here and that they were going to be replacing my roof today.

As regular readers will know, out here in the flatlands, we are prone to a weather phenomenon called “super cells,” which is to say we are accustomed to getting the dickens hailed out of us on a fairly regular basis. — often enough, in fact,  to support quite a healthy hail damage repair industry.  We had an attack of golf-ball sized hail earlier in the year, and the local roofing companies have been in a feeding frenzy for months as a result.  The lady in “B” had mentioned earlier that an insurance adjuster had been by to look at our mutual roof, but that the landlady  was on the fence about whether or not to have the roof replaced because $$$, and that was the last I (or the lady in “B,” as it turned out) had heard about it until 6:55 a.m. yesterday morning.

Well, joy electric.  So much for any plans I had to sit quietly and do anything, including hear myself think.  Still, it is for times like these that God gave us cordless headphones and smart TVs with WiFi access. That and Netflix (and an abundant supply of TV knitting) got me through a day that otherwise would have sounded a lot like this:

for about 10 straight hours. . . .

God also gave us nail guns, which means they had the old roof off, the new roof on, and errant bits of debris picked up out of the yard by dark.  The supervisor from the roofing company did plong on the door at around lunch time to check my end of the HVAC  and water heater ducts to make sure they had not been dislodged by the herd of buffalo overhead, and actually checked that the smoke detector in the hallway by the mechanicals closet also detected carbon monoxide.  During our brief conversation, he did remark that he was supervising eight roofing crews (see ‘feeding frenzy’ above).

Anyway, today things have returned to what passes for normal chez nous. Blissful silence reigns again.  I am at the computer, having a large, soothing dollop of Franz Schubert applied to my soul by those fine folks at Venice Classical Radio, and as soon as I’m done catching up on my blog reading and webcomics, I’m going to do a little writing.


One of the stock interview questions authors, actors, film makers, and artists of other ilk get asked when they are interviewed about their creations is: What were your early influences?  What captured your imagination in your formative years?  In a way, it’s like asking someone who’s made a particularly delectable item of food, “What ingredients did you use in this dish?” It’s one of the many variations on one of the most important of human questions, “How did you do that?”

The Crescent Moon Painting by Montague Dawson***

I couldn’t tell you any more how I ended up thinking about influences just now, because I’ve breathed since then, but I can tell you that it set off one of those free association things in my head that can be such fun.  One thought pinballing off into my head and I get to see what bumpers light up and go ding!  (I’ve ended up in some pretty interesting headspaces (2) that way.)

Anyway, one of the dings of this particular instance (or dongs, I forget which) was an album by Jefferson Airplane called, “After Bathing at Baxter’s.” The cover art was by visual artist Ron Cobb who has a very distinctive style.   I’d already chiseled  The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  into the bedrock of my memory by the time I encountered it.

Somewhat later, when I had more in the way of discretionary funds*,  I ran across the Airplane’s first album “Surrealistic Pillow” with  the iconic Grace Slick singing the iconic “White Rabbit” and had liked it.  I didn’t get to Baxter’s until a year or two after it came out because before I could get to it, I was blindsided by Crosby, Stills and Nash‘s first album and its positively orgasmic vocal harmonies (Sorry.  I don’t care what anybody says, Young was a mistake.  His voice doesn’t work with the fitted-together-like-Inca-stonework  triad of voices that was David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash in their prime.  Not sorry.).  If you want vocal harmony that is to die for, that album gets it in one.  Ironically, my favorite song on the whole album, the horse dance song, would still be my favorite if you stripped out the vocal tracks.  The guitar work on that song is just perfect.  (It led me to a magical place where the horses dance and the blue fish sing.  It was a peaceful, gentle place.  I haven’t been there in quite a while.  One day I might answer a Mag Challenge and take you there. . .)   (One more time, three great voices so tight, so right. Sigh.)

But back to Baxter’s.  It’s kind of one of those you had to have been there.  There is a fair amount of acid-trippy signal noise on the album,  — it came out of 1969 San Francisco, after all.   But The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil with some of its lyrics borrowed from the poetry** of A. A. Milne (I was turned on to Winnie the Pooh, not by having it read to me or by Disney,  but by Jefferson Airplane — try that one on your head.) and the gentle “Martha” stand out.  But, again, because this album, and the band, came out of 1969 San Francisco, you’ve got Slick crooning quotes from James Joyce‘s Ulysses (ReJoyce), and the aural hash that is “A Small Package of Value Will Come to You Shortly” which ends with somebody yelling “No man is an island!  No man is an island!  He’s a peninsula.” and a giggle. (I must have listened to that giggle a bazillion times, and it still makes me smile.  It’s a truly great giggle — right up there with Anderson Cooper’s.)  And some of it is just plain weird.  One of life’s many little opportunities to sift through the dross and discover the pearls.

There was a period in my life when I used to doodle (a lot) a tulip shaped bulb with convoluted roots and a daisy like flower blooming straight out of the bulb’s point, and on the bulb, in psychedelic lettering, was the phrase “Understanding is a virtue hard to come by.”  Which is a lyric from “Last Wall of the Castle” from Baxter’s.  If I had a dollar for every time I doodled that doodle, I could buy quite a nice armload of books . . .

Also out of that time came a song, “Wooden Ships” which was written aboard David Crosby’s schooner Maya by him, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.  It was recorded by CSN on their first album (mentioned above) and by Jefferson Airplane.   Somewhere between the poles of the two versions of this song was, once upon a time,  a small, strange burrowing bird living in the flatlands, learning to fly. . .



*discretionary funds -- "extra" money, that can be spent on what I like to call "targets of opportunity." 
**If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
"That's where I wanted to go today!"

From "Spring Morning" in When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne.

***This picture has no relation to anything in the post.  I just like looking at it.

Ooops! and Ughs! and Ows

No, I didn’t fall or anything.  I was trying to disconnect and move my Kingpad tablet from the bed table to my reader table that’s in my “knitting nook” I was trying to move it on the stand, realized the stand was under the component keyboard, and while I was sorting that out, the tablet flipped over out of the stand, bounced off my night stand and ended up on the floor.  The screen was shattered.  Kaput.  Unsalvageable.  It was only a little el cheapo off brand tablet (I think it was like $80 bucks including case and tax) that I got because it (a) had twice the screen size of my 5th generation Kindle Fire, (b) had an android OS so I could download the Kindle app to it, and clencher: (c) was WAY cheaper than the Kindle Fire that had the same screen size as the dead tablet.

The reason I bought the Kingpad tablet at all is because I read so fast.  The Kindle Fire’s 7 x 5 inch screen doesn’t display enough text (less than half an actual page at a character size large enough to see easily) to keep up with me and I end up poking the screen to turn the page, like, every 20-30 seconds, which would be fine if I only read an ebook every once in a while, as I did back when I had more space and less money and ebook was the cheapest or the only available format I could get of a book.  I could buy two to three used “dead tree” (paper) books for the price of one ebook so I went with what gave me the most bang for my bucks.  But now space is way tighter than money and I’m tending more toward ebooks, only buying a real book if I know it’s going to be a “keeper” (Foreigner series (or anything else) by C. J. Cherryh, Sebastian St. Cyr books by C. S. Harris, Liaden books by Lee and Miller, Elizabeth Bear, Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, Sharron Shinn, etc.)

We’re talking serious reader here.* I’m on my 80th book of 2017 right now (a reread of the penultimate October Daye book by Seanan McGuire, to refresh my memory for reading the latest book in that series, which I will probably start reading immediately after).   When you read a book at a sitting, or read for a day or two straight, all that poking gets to be a PITA**.  The tablet was 11 x 7 inches, and I could get almost a whole page on the screen at one time.   As much as I love the Kindle Fire, the 7 inch screen is just too small.  I don’t need all the bells, lights and whistles, or a gazillion GB of this and that.  An el cheapo tablet is all I need, since all I use it for is reading, listening to music (as I read) and watching the occasional YouTube videos.  For any other computer functions I need, (like blog reading or writing, creative writing, or other things that entail mousing and keyboarding, like working jigsaws) I use my desktop.

Anyway, I bought one. (and a protection plan!) My mom is going to gripe at me for spending money on something I don’t “need.” But she also doesn’t like me (wasting money) buying actual books (even though I can get multiple used paperbacks for the cost of a single ebook, which is from $10 to $30 depending on the book.) because I don’t “need” them either.  I have no space for them and end up keeping the one or two I want to reread, mailing the rest of the decent ones to my 1st cousin removed x3, which my mom also looks askance at (my 1st cousin removed x3 is a also a reader, like me, and we have similar tastes in reading matter.  I remember how hungry I was for interesting books when I was her age (13), and I’m doing some paying forward here, so I do it anyway), and donating everything else to Friends of the Library.  But when you’re on a fixed income and can read 100-140 books a year and have no space to keep them, something has to give.  Oh, and the city library in this ultraconservative, Bible-belted,  two-horse town doesn’t have the kinds of books I enjoy reading.  I know.  I’ve looked.

A little rantlet begins here:  Almost without exception, the scifi and fantasy books I read growing up had cis white male protagonists (mostly because they were mostly written by cis white males for what was assumed to be a reader audience of cis white males.)  (Even the cleverly disguised Andre Norton had to write those kind of books).  There was never a protagonist that was like me in any of the books I read, one that I could directly relate to.  Very rarely was there ever even a female character with agency, never mind a female protagonist, with or without agency. If there were any females characters at all, they were there to scream, be rescued, and patted on the hand by the strong manly white male hero. Slowly but surely, this has changed for the better.  But it has been only in the last ten or so years that books with strong female characters with agency, and books with characters who are not only non-white but non-straight have become easy to find.  Of course, there are some authors, C.J. Cherryh and the late Ann McCaffrey, to name two, that were ahead of the curve.  Reading the Morgaine trilogy in the 1970’s was for me the most incredible (and refreshingly novel) experience.  And then reading her Cyteen books.  Yowza! (No wonder Cyteen won the Hugo!)  And Ann McCaffrey’s Pern books (which are, alas, written by an author all too indoctrinated with 1950’s sexism from the perspective of a modern reader, be warned).  A female protagonist and dragons — what an unbeatable combination! Whenever I run across one of these books with a strong female protagonist with agency, and it’s a good read suitable for a 13-year-old, I put it aside for my 1st cousin removed x3.  I want her to be able to read the books that didn’t exist when I was her age, books that have protagonists she can easily relate to — women who are smart as well as intelligent, who can solve their own problems, and rescue themselves when needed.  There are a lot of attitudes in our society that need changing if we are to move forward into Human adulthood (we’re still hopelessly mired in the terrible tweens!).  I’m just doing what I can to see that one more strong, levelheaded, secure in herself, clear-eyed female will be able to join the ranks when the baton is past into her hand.  Here endeth the rantlet.

And with no segue whatever, my doctor’s visit with the orthopod yesterday went pretty much as anticipated.  The VA neglected to forward my MRI or even the doctor’s report on it.  He took his own x-rays.  Seeing my two knees side by side on the x-ray was rather disheartening.  The right knee looks perfectly normal with a normal layer of cartilage.  The left knee shows no cartilage to speak of.  Just the big leg bone grinding into the two little leg bones with no padding whatever, which is why the medial meniscus has little tears in it, because there’s also no cartilage to keep the ends of the bones steady and they’re skidding a little as they grind, chewing on the meniscus as they move.  Arthroscopic surgery is pretty pointless as it cannot address the problem of no cartilage left.  That means it’s knee replacement time, but I have to call it, as in telling the doctor that my quality of life has become intolerable, do it already.  He gave me a steroid injection in the knee (it’s been over 14 hours since with no change in pain level) and has prescribed physical therapy.  I hope the steroid lasts until Friday when I have to drive clear over to the other side of town,  hike two miles from the parking lot to the University Medical Center  building and another mile to where they do mammographies (thankfully, they don’t do mammography in Amarillo, or it would take all day and four hours on the highway to get one instead of most of a morning).  While I’m in the Radiology Department I’ll get a copy of my MRI on CD and hand-carry the stupid thing to my doctor, and bring him a copy of the report, too.

But, here’s the thing.  They have now finally managed to hire an orthopedic surgeon for the VA hospital in Amarillo.  My special dispensation to see a local doctor went through the week before they hired him or her.  If I can get this doc I’m going to now to agree to replacing my knee while I’m on clopidogrel, but before my time limit on this authorization runs out, then I think it can be done here.  If I have to wait until next March, when I can get off the clopidogrel,  or if the VA gets all bureauocratic on me, I’ll have to have it done in Amarillo and face the same damn bureaurocratic stone-walling and transportation problem I have now, or else eat what Medicare doesn’t pay.  BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

In the knitting news, I did finally write that bottom-up triangular shawl pattern. I’m not exactly content with it, but I like it well enough not to frog the lot and go back to the drawing board. The sticky bit is that shawl point. It has a knit-as-you-go edging, and that bit of edging at the pointed bit needs to be piece-of-pie shaped in order to lay right. I haven’t yet worked out to my satisfaction how to get the decrease-to-point proportions right. But, hey, that’s what I love about knitting. You never stop learning. Every new thing you make is a learning experience, and each time you make something, you add some new skill or design element to your knitting repertoire that recombines and morphs into new things, and your whole knitting thing just evolves. It’s like, “Oh, I see how that works now. The next time I do this, I’m going to change this bit, or do it differently here. . . .”

*109 books read in 2014, 151 books read in 2015, 125 books read in 2016.
**PITA – A pain similar to that of hemorrhoids.

This Is Why I Have So Many UFO’s*

Couldn’t stand it.  Yesterday, while I was doing three other things, I swatched some of the Kildare Lace (left) to see how the pattern works and what part of the pattern does what.  This is three pattern repeats. I like how the little scallops are.  They don’t curl so they won’t need to be blocked to keep their shape.    Once I had the pattern figured out, I modified it to make the insert (right), which is essentially the body of the lace without the little scallops.  I replaced the scallops part with a K3 to make the edges symmetrical.  These will be the details on my new shawl.  The insert will be on the edge of the shawl that hangs around the neck and will add interest to that edge.

After I shut my computer down last night, I had a quick rootle through my stash and found 5 more skeins of that Lion Brand Heartland yarn in the Glacier Bay color, and that was immediately designated for this project. It is a color Lion Brand is still carrying, so I will be able to get more if it takes more than 5 skeins to get the length I want.  I don’t think it will, though.  I’ll knit up one ball and see how much that measures and run my calculations from that, but it should be enough. I want the shawl dimensions to be 25 x 60 inches.  I want it long enough that I can wear it in both the traditional way as well as with one end  pulled across and draped over my shoulder.

Wouldn’t you know; I sat down this afternoon to read blogs and webcomics and check my YouTube subscriptions for any new videos, and the next thing I know, I’m winding a skein of that Lion Brand yarn into a ball, and I’ve got my US6 (4.0 mm), 32-inch circular needle out, and I’m doing a gauge swatch.  Since I’m knitting the shawl from side to side, the pattern will be based on the side dimension, 25 inches, which works out to be 125 stitches using a gauge of 5 stitches per inch on a US6, but I need an even number of stitches for the pattern to come out right, so I added one.  (126 stitches = 26 stitches for the top border, 80 stitches for the body of the shawl, and 20 stitches for the bottom border).

Then I spent a good two hours in Word cutting and pasting to assemble the pattern.  Because of the way knitting works (you knit like you plow, out and back), which means you work the pattern from left to right on the right side rows, and from right to left on the wrong side rows.  Because I have two border patterns, I had to alternate  top and bottom when I meshed all the patterns together.   So,  if Row 1 is top, body, bottom, then row 2 has to be bottom, body, top, etc.

Of course, by now, I’ve got 126 stitches casted on and I’ve decided to do 6 rows of garter stitch to get a “finished edge” to start from.  It’s nothing fancy, but it gives the edge some substance.  The insert pattern as I swatched it above is only 20 stitches wide all total, and the borders of it are only 3 stitches wide.  I decided that it would look better if the insert was set deeper into the fabric of the shawl and that I could do that by putting a wider border along the left edge of the insert, so I added an extra 6 stitches to the left border of the insert pattern.

I’ve already done two repeats to see how it looks and how the parts fit together, and I’m pleased with it.  It’s not going to be a real fancy shawl.  It has a more simple, understated look, but it’s got enough texture and detail to give it some pizazz.  Here’s what it’s looking like so far.  At right will be the top edge of the shawl.

At left will be the bottom edge of the shawl:

That little yellow thing in the lower left corner is a stitch marker that I’m using to neatly secure the “tail-end” of yarn that I will weave into the knitting when I finish the shawl.  I do this to keep the yarn from fraying at the end and keep it out of my way.

Naturally, since this is a hot new project, it’s all I want to work on right now.  Sigh.

*UFO – UnFinished Object


This Is My Brain on Prednisolone

I’m on the 4th of a 5-day “burst” of prednisolone, which I’m taking periodically for one thing and another.  Usually by about the third dose, I’m not sleeping more than 4-hours a night, my brain is going about Mach 2, I’m bouncing off the walls, and this is what the last day or two have been like:

While I was working on the center pattern of the light blue Cobblestone Lace Shawl, I was thinking about this stitch I’m using for the body of the shawl, which I “discovered” while experimenting with the seed stitch (surely, I’m not the first one to have stumbled across it, but since I can’t find it on the interwebs and don’t know if it has a formal name, I’m calling it the “cobblestone stitch”) and the variations on it.

In order for the stitch pattern to work out right, rows 1 and 3  have to have an even number of stitches, and rows 2 and 4 have to have an odd number of stitches.   You can achieve that by increasing a stitch at the end of rows 1 and 3 for a steady increase of 2 stitches over 4 rows (one pattern repeat), or by decreasing a stitch at the end of rows 1 and 3, for a steady decrease of 2 stitches over 4 rows.  This will result in a piece with a straight left (or top) edge and a sloping right (or bottom) edge.  However, if you increase on row 1 and decrease on row 3, (stitch count remains net constant over the pattern repeat), the left (top) edge is straight and the right (bottom) edge is “optically” straight.  Here’s the stitch pattern:

Cobblestone stitch
Cast on an even number of stitches.
Row 1:  knit until 1 stitch remains, (increase 1 stitch or decrease 1 stitch).
Row 2:  *p2, k1, repeat from * until 1 stitch remains, p1.
Row 3:  knit until 1 stitch remains, (increase 1 stitch or decrease 1 stitch).
Row 4:  *p1, k1, repeat from * to the end of the row.

Now, how you increase or decrease that 1 stitch is up to you.  It all depends on the look you want.  You could work the increase with a yo, or a kfb, or a mo, or an e-wrap, and you could use a k2tog, or a p2tog, or an ssk, or an ssp, or a psso to work the decrease.  Each way produces a different look.  Say, for example, if you’re using this stitch to work the body of a triangular shawl, you wouldn’t want to be able to easily tell which side had the increases and which side had the decreases.  Because you’d want both sides to look the same, you’d want to pair an increase stitch with a decrease stitch that has a similar look.  For example, if I were using a mo (make one) for my increases, I’d want to use a k2tog for the decreases as they have a similar look.  I happen to like kfb’s, and the decrease that I think looks most similar to them is p2tog.  But there are all kinds of possible combinations and looks.

So, anyway, as I’m knitting, I’m thinking, “a rectangular shawl, knitted from side to side with a garter stitch lace lower border, and some kind of garter stitch lace insert along the top border (if I can find the right kind of lace pattern, I could modify the pattern to make it into a matching insert), and some kind of side border.  I could maybe work the lower border edge of the cobblestone stitch with a yo for the increase and a k2tog, yo for the decrease (but I’d have to try it to see how it would look), or just go with a kfb/p2tog increase/decrease.  I wonder how much yarn it would take — 4 skeins? 5?  Do I have enough yarn in my stash to do one in a solid color?” . . . .

Well, this idea has been cooking in my brain since Wednesday, and yesterday, as I’m at my computer reading blogs and webcomics, I just have to pull up this site that has a bunch of garter stitch lace patterns on it and start looking for something suitable.

Kildare Edging

So, here’s the thing.  When you’re knitting a shawl from side to side, you’re knitting “vertical” rows (as opposed to “horizontal” rows as in top-down or bottom-up),  so you’re knitting top border, body, and lower lace border all on the same row — on every row.  In order for a lace pattern to “mesh” with the cobble stone stitch when you’re working in the side-to-side orientation, the number of rows in the lace pattern repeat has to be evenly divisible by 4 (because the cobblestone stitch has a 4-row pattern repeat), so only certain lace patterns will work.   But I found this one called “Kildare Edging” that I like the look of.  The pattern of the lace is such that it could easily be modified to make a matching insert for the top border by removing those scallops across the bottom edge, and it has an 8-row pattern repeat.

Naturally, I immediately cut and pasted the pattern into a Word document,  grabbed a 24-inch US10 circular needle and a ball of yarn and started knitting it so I can see how the lace is put together and what part of the pattern does what.  Once I know that, I’ll know what bits to take out to remove the scallops and where to put what looks like it needs to be a k3 to give it a lower edge that matches the upper edge and make it symmetrical.

I’m trying not to get too involved in it because I’m working on 4 (!) other shawls at the moment, but a while ago I sat down at the computer and caught up on blog reading, and then I started working on this one part of a  story I’ve been playing around with (that already has a glossary and a who’s who . . . ), and then I couldn’t stand it any more, so I’m working on that lace again, and then I thought I’d blog about it, and now I have 8 windows open on my computer and knitting in my lap . . . .

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.


Firefox Quantum is a Quantum of Schmaltz

— In the literal sense of the word “schmaltz,” meaning “chicken fat.”  I got really tired really quickly of piddling with Feedbro and RSSOwl, neither of which was as easy to use as NewsFox (which Firefox “Quantum” broke).  Finally, I just said (among other unrepeatable scatalogical and blasphemous utterances) the heck with it and rolled back Firefox to version 56.02.

I also left a comment on Mozilla’s Facebook page to the effect that I was really pissed off that they broke NewsFox while they were putzing around trying to soup up FireFox and that I was not going to upgrade to Quantum until they fixed it so that it would work with NewsFox.

I just now reinstalled Firefox version 56.02, which is the version before they broke it and have it set to ask me before it updates.   That means I can go back to NewsFox, which is the most useful and efficient feed reader I’ve been able to find.

Call me weird, but updates are supposed to make software better, and I cannot see how changing Firefox  so that the best feed reader out there no longer works  with it, makes it better.

I probably follow about 50 different blogs, 15 Tumblr sites, and about 30 different webcomics, and NewsFox organizes, tracks and updates them very efficiently.  When I open the update, it displays the actual webpage, not just the content, which means I can easily sign into those blogs that require it for commenting.  There were several blogs that neither RSSOwl, nor Feedbro would display in any form that would allow me to sign in so there was no way I could comment.   Also some of the blogs and Tumblr sites are artists’ sites and neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro would display their artwork or the webcomics except as thumbnails you had to click on to go to the website to view — which in Feedbro’s case meant opening another browser tab.  Neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro can hold a candle to the overall performance and user friendliness of NewsFox for viewing textual content, artwork, and photography easily without making you jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

I don’t have the time or patience for that.  I’ll stick with NewsFox and the old Firefox version 56.02 until Firefox comes up with something that works with NewsFox, or until someone comes up with a better product than either RSSOwl or Feedbro, thank you very much.

Fooling with Feed Readers

Well, my Firefox browser just updated itself to Firefox Quantum, and NewsFox, which is a feed reader I have been using for years, doesn’t work with Quantum. Two choices: Roll back to the 56.02 version of Firefox and live in the past with security vulnerabilities, or find a new feed reader. I’ve been trying out RSSOwl and Feedbro, but naturally neither works as well as NewsFox.

Feedbro is an in-browser plugin that works in Firefox (at least for now), and in order to comment on a blog in Feedbro, you have to go to the actual web page, because Feedbro only displays content. To go to the webpage, it opens a new browser tab, which is a PITA.

RSSOwl is a stand alone, but it also only displays content, and if you want to comment you also have to go to the actual webpage, which opens in RSSOwl.

There are several blogs I can no longer comment on because RSSOwl doesn’t give me the option of using my Google ID, and there is one blog I can no longer comment on because Feedbro can’t open the site in a new tab with the URL because it cannot identify itself to Blogger as one of the people allowed to view that webpage, and RSSOwl won’t allow me to use my Google ID to sign in to comment.

As for reading webcomics, neither feed reader will display the actual webpage to begin with.  It just shows content which typically involves a thumbnail of the comic page.  You have to click through to the webpage on every %$#@!*$%$#!@!# one in order to be able to read the &*!^%#@&*%&! comic, which on Feedbro means you’ll have humpty eleven tabs open if you don’t close each and every *&^%*$#%!^$#@!#$ one when you’re done reading the page.

The only high point in this dark  pit of dudgeon is that I was able to save all my feed info from NewsFox in an .opml file and import it into both RSSOwl and Feedbro, else I’d have been on the warpath for sure.

The poor fat(cat)boy has gone into the other room and crawled under the bed because mama is cussing a blue streak.  To put it mildly (and in socially acceptable terminology), I am not a happy camper.