Within Feet of a FO

I’m within about two feet of being finished FINISHED! with the Sweet Irene Shawl. It’s on a 40-inch circular needle, which is just fine when you’re working on the humpty gazillion stitches you end up with in the body but now that I’m working on the knitted-on edging, which only has seven stitches, it’s a bit much. I stoppered the aft end of the circular needle and got one of my US6 (4.0) 6-inch DPNs so I can just use one end of the circular needle and the DPN, and I don’t have to wrestle the whole body of the shawl just to work back and forth over those seven stitches of edging. You’ll notice I’m also playing yarn chicken. Thrilling times! I started this project in June of last year. Slowly, slowly up Mount Fuji . .

I have managed to get the yard raked. It took me three separate sessions with days in between to finally pull it off, but I got it done. It only took about 8 trash bags this time instead of the 14 it took the first time I did it the year after I moved in. The first time, I managed to do it all in one day. (This was before I had two stents, chemo, four hospitalizations, pneumonia and a knee replacement all within two years’ time.)

I have also gotten my new sewing table, which is currently leaning up against the wall in my kitchen doorway, so there’s that. I am now in the process of washing all the blankets I intend to make lap robes out of (some of which I’ve been intending to make lap robes out of for literally years and still haven’t yet). I need to get up and put the last load into the dryer now. Then, I get to decide where I want the sewing to take place and see if I have appropriate sewing notions. I have made no progress on my yarn stash sorting out or major house cleaning. Let’s not get carried away, shall we?

Some people (my mother) seem to have gotten the idea from jocular comments made herein (usually involving trained chimpanzees) that I’m intimating that my mom’s intelligence is less than stellar. This is not the case. Let me set the record straight. My mom was a legal secretary for half a million years to one of the partners of a very prestigious local law firm. She’s been retired for a number of years now, but she was, and still is, legendary at that firm for her organizational skills, her clerical competence, her people skills, her meticulous attention to detail, and her elephantine memory of cases.

Considering that she came from a time when cultural norms and societal constraints made career opportunities for women problematic, to say the least, and considering where she started and what few opportunities were available to her, she came a long way, baby. I’ve often wondered if she had been born in this century instead of last, and got a halfway decent shot at a college education, where she would end up. Board room? Cabinet post? Who knows? I do know, though, that whatever she ended up doing, she’d be really good at it.

That said, when it comes to contraptions of any kind, she’s a visual learner. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the type of learner she is. Give her the thing and the instructions, and no matter how simple or self-evident the device, she will be thoroughly frustrated within a very short time, throw up her hands and give up. Show her how the thing works, and she gets it right off.

A YouTube Channel to Check out.

I love this guy’s channel. The videos are short, usually about knitting, always about life, light and chatty. His work room is next door to a brontosaurus hangout, and just around the corner from Mr. Rogers. He reminds me so much of a dear friend, JT, who has moved to another state, and who I miss being able to visit with.

The other day I received the DVDs (to replace my VHS version) of the 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice, which is a miniseries, and I got to thinking about how many dramatizations of this novel there had been over the years. (I prefer my P&P in accurate period costume, reasonably faithful to the novel, and without the zombies, thank you very much.) It’s kind of like Doctor Who. Immediately two Doctor Who fans discover their mutual Whovianity, the next question inevitably is, “Who is your Doctor?” (David Tennant) Your answer helps plot you along the time and relative dimension in series. When two fans of Pride and Prejudice meet, the corresponding inevitable question is, of course, “Who is your Darcy? Need you ask? Firth forever!

Oh, It’s Knitting Time Again, The Weather’s Cooler*

Our weather has been consistently cooler (finally!) and rainy of late, with crashy-bangy T-storms rumbling in out of the southwest, heading for Oklahoma and points SE. I stepped outside this afternoon wearing a short sleeved tee shirt and the thought actually crossed my mind that I might want a light jacket.  (Must have gotten down into the low 80’s F/26-27 C.)  If it cools down any more, I’m going to have to start wearing clothes in the house again. . . That’s ok, though because I have long-sleeved, ankle length sleep shirts, too. (Cotton is my friend. . . ). . . . And would you believe, only two finished, wearable shawls?

Mom and I have a flying visit to Pearland scheduled toward the end of October, and after that, the top priority item on the knitting agenda will be making the “talents” for this year’s scholarship auction at that Sekrit Klub my mom belongs to.  (The members are suppose to utilize their talents to make items for the auction.  My mom’s talent is getting me to make stuff for her. . . )  It’s going to be knitted Xmas balls this year.  Three sets of three.   I think I’ll make a red and green set, a red and white set, and a blue and white set.  I’ve got the red and white yarn, and I think I have the green, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the right blue in the right yarn.  I’ll have to go stash diving to make sure, though, before I hit up Michael’s.

So now that the weather is getting cooler, I’m feeling more knitty (and less gritty!).  I got this little mini-hank of fingering weight yarn at the knitting group Xmas party year before last.  A lady who was not part of the group, but known to several of its members (she is both a drop-spindle and wheel spinner, had chickens, dogs, goats and alpaca, and would have had a long drive into and out of town at night, and anyway, with all that livestock, who has time??) dropped by the party on her way back out to her place.  She evidently had a RACSB moment and, without preamble, handed me this mini skein of hand-spun yarn in a plastic sandwich bag.  I don’t remember the exact fiber content, but there may be some alpaca involved.  It’s this not-quite-teal shade of blue/green.

It’s a neat trick for one person to wind a traditional skein without a swift, but I improvised.  Most of the yarn I buy is cheap and (hypoallergenic) acrylic and comes in pull skeins (pull skeins are tools of the Devil**, y’all.  Just sayin’. . .) and have no pressing need for a swift.  It’s when you start getting into the pricy, big name and/or “artisanal” woolen yarns — i.e., yarn from a big name European company, or yarn exclusively from only one breed of sheep, or artisan hand-spun/hand dyed yarns,  or yarns blended with fiber from truly exotic species (yak, musk ox, saluki. . . ) — what I refer to as “snob yarn” — that you start needing a swift.  ( Compare Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarn at around $5 per 315 yd/170 g skein –depending on where you buy it, and Malbrigo yarn (from Peru) at $18 per 440 yd/100g skein.  A sweater’s quantity — depending on your size — of the Malbrigo can run you more than $100!)

About six months ago, I sprang for some skeins of Malbrigo sock yarn (Peruvian) in a luscious dark teal (are you beginning to detect a color palette here?) and  some donuts of Knitting Fever (Australian) yarn in a really zippy two-tone combination of strands of light purple and medium Prussian blue twisted together.  I got both of them (on separate occasions!) from the Must Love Yarn Shop in Shelburne, VT.  Two of the owners of MLY put out a podcast every Friday (I follow their YouTube channel) during the course of which they will feature a particular brand of yarn as “the pick of the week” and give a discount code for 10% off that’s good for two weeks if you buy that particular yarn (in any color they have in stock) either in person from their store, or from their website.

Anyway, to crawl out of that rabbit hole and get back to that little hank of yarn (remember it?), I have been threatening for (literally) years to knit a sweater for the little 25-cm ball jointed doll belonging to the wife of my favorite author (C. J. Cherryh) and I had earmarked the aforementioned hank of yarn for that project. We’re talking fingering weight yarn on size US1/2.25 mm double pointed needles at a gauge of 6 stitches per 2 cm.  I’m having to use a tapestry needle to work the cable because none of my cable needles are small enough in diameter.  (The smallest cable needle I have is US6/4.0 mm).  I have the doll’s measurements, and I’m writing the pattern as I go.  (If God had wanted me to do math in my head, She wouldn’t have given us calculator apps!)  I’m also playing a little knitter’s game called “yarn chicken.” (I do love a challenge!) Thankfully, I have a “Plan B” — some compatible colors in this weight yarn — that I can “design in” to the pattern if I need to.  The US1’s I’m using are from my ChiaoGoo sock set.  Believe me, this sock set is a real bargain.  You get a  really nice, sturdy cloth, zippered carrying case and SIX 5-needle sets of 6-inch double pointed needles:  sizes US0/2mm, 1/2.25mm, 1.5/2.5mm, 2/2.75mm, 2.5/3mm and 3/3.25mm.  These are high-quality stainless steel needles.  (They also have sock sets in bamboo)  I absolutely adore them.


 

There’s a thing knitters refer to as UFO’s, UnFinished Objects — Works In Progress (WIPs) that have run out of gas. I’m telling you.  I have enough UFOs to re-enact  (H.G. or Orson, take your pick) Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”   Most of them are currently in a parking orbit in two of the drawers of my stash bins.  I’ve got four sets of bins crammed full of yarn and another two large plastic bins of yarn on the floor beside them.   I think after the first of the year, I need to go on a serious WIP whup.  A finish or frog-athon. (When I’m not in free-fall down the “Outlander” rabbit hole, that is. . .)(So many books, so little time!)  Sigh.

Today’s earworm is brought to you by the woman who would become Princess Leia‘s mom the year after this film was released, and two of the all-time great song-and-dance men  (Donald O’Connor and the incomparable Gene Kelly).  The unsinkable Ms. Reynolds is  having no trouble at all keeping up in this rarified company, singing or dancing.  The film this scene is from is a classic.

* With apologies to Ray Charles.
**They were ostensibly designed so you could use the yarn straight from the skein, without having to roll it up into a ball or cake first.  However, if you pull from the outside, you always have to be stopping and unrolling more yarn (or else you give it a good yank and it hops off the couch and rolls halfway across the room and you have to get up and go get it).  If you pull from the inside, locating the yarn end in the center of the skein is like Finding Nemo and once you're down to about 20% of the skein, they have a marked tendency to suddenly implode into a big wad of yarn barf.   Either way, they'll have you losing your religion in a New York minute.
***What the little ball chart calls "hankenskein" by any other name is still yarn barf.

We Were Thankful Clear On The Other Side of Town

My mom and I had resigned ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant (we’re both so over cooking holiday dinners), but a lady she sings in the choir with asked us over to eat with them.  JH and her husband S moved last year from my mom’s side of town, clear across to the other side of town.  My mom had been there once, but not the way we went.  Still, she had it plotted out and she came by to pick me up.  I took the first batch of snowflakes with me as a hostess gift, and they were a hit.

It was a bit tricky to find their house.  Our town is laid out quite logically and typically, on north-south streets, odd house numbers are on the east side of the street, and even house numbers are on the west side of the street.  Their street runs north-south and their house number is an even number, so one would expect it to be on the west side of the street.  No soap.  The houses on the east side predictably had odd house numbers, but there were no houses on the west side of the street.  Typically numbered streets have the lowest numbers in the north, and get higher the further south you go.  What we didn’t realize was that the crossing street at the end of that block was 1st Street, which is where the system changes.  The next cross street going north was 1st Place, followed by 2nd Place, etc., and the numbering system from that point is exactly reversed.  When we got into the next block, the houses were still all on the east side of the street, but they had even house numbers in reverse numerical order to the usual “lowest number to the south, highest number to the north” sequence.  Fortunately, the house we were looking for was right at that corner, and we’d found it.

It’s a lovely house, somewhat smaller than their previous house, but with nice high ceilings, shutter blinds on the windows, a gorgeous, fully appointed kitchen,  and each of the three bedrooms has its own en suite.  They’ve accessorized the decor with SH’s antique electronic devices including an old 1920’s pole microphone.  (SH is an electrical engineer and has collected all sorts of vintage electronics).

JH is not real into cooking either and has little interest in doing it, especially since her husband S loves to cook and is very good at it.  It was he who cooked the luscious spread.  He even made the pumpkin pie.

While he cooked, we girls watched “Gone With The Wind” on TV, which was already in progress when we tuned in.  My mom saw it on its first run in a theater when she was 12 (it made a huge and lasting impression on her), and she has seen it a gazillion times since.  (I’m sorry to say, my mom has completely bought into that whole Cult of the Lost Cause thing which both the book and the film reflect, and can’t understand why they want to take down monuments to Confederate generals, etc.  She is scandalized and personally affronted that the name of the high school my dad graduated from was changed because it was named for a member of Jefferson Davis’ cabinet.)(She’s 93.  There’s no hope of my enlightening her.  I’ve learned to just let sleeping dogmas lie.)

We had a traditional meal — turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed corn , cranberry relish, — except biscuits for bread instead of white rolls.  My mom was supposed to bring rolls, but realized at the last minute the frozen rolls she was planning to bring had been in the freezer quite a while and she was no longer confident of their freshness.  The frozen biscuits, on the other hand, were recently bought, so that’s what she took.  No matter.  Bread is bread.  It was a very delicious feast.

We had a delightful time with dear friends, and many things to be thankful for.

A Change of Pace

That loud grinding noise you heard a while ago was me changing gears from knitting to crochet. (Yes, I am ambicraftous.)  My mom belongs to this Sekret Klub, and every year in early December they have a fund-raising auction.  The members bring things to auction off, pay inflated prices for each other’s stuff, and the money goes into a college scholarship fund of some sort.  Last year, I made her four buttoned cowls.  This year, I’m making her three sets of five crocheted snowflakes. I’m also making several sets of three for hostess gifts.

Tuesday after knitting group, I need to dash over to Michael’s and get some stiff stuff, some opalescent embossing powder, a container of sewing pins, and a paint brush.   I’m pretty sure I already have enough crochet thread in my thread stash.  In order to turn the snowflakes into tree ornaments, which is the goal of the exercise, they have to be blocked (stretched and pinned into shape), then soaked in the stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder to give them just the right amount of sparkle. When that side is dry, you flip them over and repeat the process.  Once they’re thoroughly dry, you hot glue a little loop of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make to one “point” so an ornament hook can be attached for hanging it on the tree.

One down, many to go.

I googled crocheted snowflakes and found this website that has a whole slew of free patterns for them.  More than enough for the 15 I’m making for my mom.  I’ll choose the 15 I like best, and do them.

I was searching for “Russian waltzes” on YouTube yesterday (because I couldn’t remember whether this one waltz was written by Prokofiev or Khachaturian)(It was Khachaturian.) and found this serendooglously*.

And yes! It’s from a Russian film.  And yes! An English language version is available on Amazon, . . . And yes! It’s been shipped!  (It’s dubbed in English.  I wish it had been in Russian with English subtitles, but I may just turn the sound off and gorge on the video.)

Here’s the Russian language trailer.

Matvey Lykov, who plays the guy she really loves (spoiler alert:  Not the blond guy.), is yummy.  And that wedding ensemble she’s wearing in the boat is just fabulous.

 

*serendoogle — something you find serendipitously while googling for something else.  I made this word up by mashing “serendipity” and “google” together.