Crimmers Eve

My friend LB made a bunch of knitted snowmen, and she gave me this one when I went to see her Thursday.  She used yarn that has a thread of iridescence in it that gives it just the perfect little sparkle like snow (like the iridescent glitter I used on my snowflakes) — which doesn’t photograph at all well . . . .

The little snowman got me to thinking again about how a simple object of little intrinsic worth becomes an object of great value because of its history and how one came to acquire it.  Its worth lies in its ability to evoke memories, of the time, the place and the giver.  .  .  .  It becomes a “souvenir” in the literal sense of the word, which is French for “remember.”

Sans segue,  I remembered I had this little bamboo silverware tray  (it’s too narrow for the silverware drawer in this house), and I had a brainwave — I put it on the little table I have by my computer to organize my knitting needles.  It works a treat.  I had a hard time getting to my double pointed needles before, but not now.  They all go in that front bit quite nicely, as does my needle gauge.  Win.

Here I make all these hats for other people, but I hadn’t made any for myself.  Last year, I had made a ribbed cowl to fit up around my neck, which I fold in half and which fits like a turtle neck sweater without the sweater.   I used it when I had to go out Friday, and it is tall enough that it will cover my mouth and ears no problem.  I made it so long because you can also unfold it and bring one end of it up over your head.  It fits my needs very well.  I thought a toboggan to go with it out of the same Caron Simply Soft yarn would be just the thing, so on this chilly (41 F/ 5C) Crimmers Eve, I’m making one.

Late in my salad days (1986), when I first started doing medical transcription, we worked at the hospital in a little room off the medical records department.  The lady I worked for, and who taught me transcription, used to get tickled at me for refering to “Christmas” as “Crimmers.”  I was more draw-y and cartoon-y then than I am now, and I drew her this little thing below one Crimmers.  (I didn’t know until about 20 years later that she had not only kept it all these years, but had had it very nicely framed.)  The sentiment still holds up well, I think, even now in these dark days. . .


The Problem With Having Big Balls . . .

One of those super bulky yarn cakes winds into a really big ball, too big for my little yarn bowl.   It tends to either scoot the bowl or hop out of it when I pull more out because the ball is too big and heavy to turn freely.   The yarn ball is also too tall for my big yarn bowl that has a lid.  But the lady at the cancer center where I donate the hats said they need more men’s hats, and I’ve got two more cakes of this super bulky yarn, and I’m doing a baby afghan from a really big ball as well.   Super bulky is such big yarn that knots are problematic, so I’m not cutting the yarn to make smaller balls.  — Being able to knit the whole article from one continuous unbroken strand of yarn is optimal.   So what to do?

What I decided I needed was a big, deep, heavy bowl that would allow a ball of yarn this large  to roll around freely.  Turns out Wayfair. com did have just what I need.   It’s big and heavy, and the yarn feeds out through one of the notches just so nicely.  It’s kind of classy looking, too.  And, it was on sale. What more could you want?  So there’s that problem sorted.

What’s in it at the moment is another toboggan out of a really muted, light colored mix of yarn.





Early this morning, I made some pasta (nothing like a big pot of boiling water to add some humidity to the air!).  I thought what I’d bought was spaghetti, but when I got the package out, it said ‘linguini.’  No biggie.  I broke the sticks into thirds and chopped a small onion, and emptied two cans of Wolf Brand Chili into my casserole dish, to which I added the linguini.  I’m having a bowl at the moment, covered with sprinkle cheese, melted in the microwave, with a toasted English muffin on the side.  It’s just the thing for winter eating.

The Mossman Hat pattern I’m working on has a ribbed brim that folds, and three rows of stockinette where it is supposed to fold.  I’ve written two versions of the pattern, one for worsted weight yarn with knit/purl two stitches together on the decreases, but that’s too bunchy for superbulky yarn, so I wrote another version with a sl1, psso decrease which I think will work just fine.  You can see how big that ball of yarn still is even after I’ve knitted that much of the hat from it.  When you’re just casting on, the ball is ‘yuge.*’

Anyway, as today is Tuesday, I need to go wash my hair so it will be dry by time to go to knitting group.


*I could get all bent out of shape about the durn New Yorkers who don't know there's an "h" in "huge," but then there's more than a few good ol' boys in this neck of the flatlands who don't know there's an "r" in "throw."

Flaking Out, or What Making Snowflakes Has Taught Me. . .

A little picture essay on the making of snowflakes . . .

I really needed a size larger crochet hook than the size 6 (1.8 mm) hook I was using, and the thread was very slubby, which didn’t help.  And in the years since I’d made them last, I had forgotten just how brain intensive following a crochet pattern is.  Life is hard, then you get over it.



About three pins into pulling out the straight pins after the snowflakes had been liberally coated with stiff stuff, I realized why God gave us needle nosed pliers.  Duh!



I didn’t have days for the stiff stuff to finally dry all the way through, so I got creative.  Air circulation did the trick.  I elevated it even further off the table by putting it on upended juice glasses.  Use what you have in more creative ways.


The last three snowflakes!  Small victories add up.


Fifteen snowflakes, stiff and sparkly.   Gluing on the ribbon loops with a hot glue gun reminded me why I hate hot glue guns.  GLUE STRINGS!



Three sheets of this paper cost me $23! — (mostly because 3 x $0.79 for paper, 2 x $1.50 for two tubes of glitter which was on sale for half off, and 2 x $9.99 for two  “teacakes” of yarn. . . .yeah, I know.  I was going cold sheep, but . . .)  I have no willpower and I need to stay out of Michael’s.


Sewed them to a piece of blue card stock and stuck some little plastic snowflakes on as accents.  Presentation is everything.




Mom took them to the auction at her SEKRIT KLUB.  They were auctioned off for $25 a set, so $75 toward a very worthy cause.

And . . . there is knitting news.  The yarn “teacake” got rolled into a big ball and a hat is in progress.  It’s superbulky yarn (6) so it ought to go fast.  I’m calling it the Mossman hat because it’s a man’s toboggan done in moss stitch.  Pattern to be posted in my knitting blog once I’ve finished knitting it.

A Faulty Connection Between the Chair and the Keyboard.

So when I should be working on snowflakes, ideas for a story in progress as well as ideas for a whole nother story started going off in my head and I’ve just got to put them where I can find them again.  So I spend Thursday and Friday containing on the page the gush of ideas for this one new story.

Then I spend Saturday working new ideas into a new chapter of a story that’s already in progress.  So now it’s late, I’ve hit the wall energy wise, and I’m shutting everything down to go to bed, and I go to save the  chapter I spent all day working on and instead of hitting “save” I accidentally hit “don’t save” and watch in horror as all my work goes away.

But wait, I’ve got autosave enabled!  So I pull it up again to see what didn’t autosave — and NOTHING DID!!! It was exactly the way it had been before I switched the order of two scenes which necessitated making a third scene into a new chapter.  So then I look and, no, the file has not somehow gotten write protected  So then I frantically scrambled around looking for previous versions or backup versions and versions from my backup drive, and come up dry.  I get to rooting around in the settings for Word and discovered that some things weren’t set the way I wanted them set and I don’t know how they got changed.  Autosave was enabled, but it apparently wasn’t autosaving.   By then, I was so totally bummed that I just shut everything down and went to bed.

So, Sunday, instead of working on snowflakes, I spend the whole day recreating the chapter I lost.  Saved it.  Made sure all my changes were still there, saved it again, and went to bed.  Got up this morning, pulled it up to reread it, and it had somehow reverted to the version I started with Saturday morning!  No idea why.  So now I’m totally bummed.  I start over again recreating all my changes yet again, pausing frequently to manually save, decide to relook at stuff I retrieved from my hard drive backup, and there it is — the version I thought I’d lost from  Saturday night.  AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

And not to put too fine a point on this whole bummer of a weekend, I found a mistake in a hat I was knitting, ripped out 15 rows of this one section and fixed it.  It lacked only a little bit to be finished, so I thought I’d go ahead and finish it, and at least salvage something out of this debacle.  Got two rows into the decrease and found another mistake even farther back than the other one. (*expletives, scatological terms, and pejoratives deleted*)

Oh, I’m too much of a perfectionist not to frog it out and fix it, but right now, I’m just too ungruntled to deal with it.

I’ve also learned that I can multitask and knit — read, watch videos, write — but when I crochet, I can’t do anything else except listen to music.   That’s yet one more thing that’s made this weekend frustrating. I was going work on these stories until I ran out of steam, and then spend the rest of the weekend crocheting snowflakes.  Mmmmumph!


I’m Ready For Some TV Knitting (and Watching!)

Well, the pattern is modified and the slippers are knitted and on my little tootsies.  The math involved makes my brain hurt, even when I’ve got a calculator.   My three remaining working brain cells are knackered, and I’m ready for a little mindless TV knitting.

They worked up nicely, but you have to sew up the sole and the back of the heel portion . . . grumble . . . grumble.  I strenuously avoid knitting patterns you make in pieces and then have to sew together.  If I wanted to sew, I’d get out my sewing machine.

The pattern is sized for a foot 9-10 inches (23-25.5 cm) long from big toe to the edge of the heel, which would accommodate an (American) 8 to a 10 ladies size shoe.

Yesterday was Veterans’ day, and I just couldn’t.   The picture of my dad in his dress Marine uniform at the start of WWII, the exact one (which is still in the exact frame) that his father had at his bedside while he was dying of cancer and hoping his 3rd son would make it home from China in time to say one last goodbye is just too fraught with memories.

My mom is an anniversary marker — she knows the birthdays and the date of death of each of her 12 siblings, her mother,  my dad, and my brother’s late first wife, and she never fails to remark on each event and how many years it has been since.  And she put that picture of my dad up on her Facebook page for Veterans’ Day.  That’s all well and good, but, we shouldn’t just remember veterans on Veterans’ Day; we should remember them every day.  They don’t just protect and defend us on Veterans’ Day.  They risked and continue to risk life and limb in our service every minute of every day.

And besides, my dad’s not the only veteran in the family.  Both he and my mother had brothers in the armed services during WWII, and they had a child who proudly served as well.

Nothing Is Ever Simple

After banging my head against that shawl pattern I was writing yesterday, (which I was trying to knit one of to test the pattern and kept messing up — I’ve frogged* that puppy back to the slip knot 5 cotton-picking times!) I though, I’ll just do a pair of slippers today.  Easy, fast, straightforward, simple. Right?

Oh, I should have known the minute I saw the pattern’s author had a Japanese first and last name, and the words “Ladies: Size M.”   I hadn’t gotten four rows into the sole pattern when I realized, Houston, we have a problem.   So now I have to rewrite the pattern to make it an inch and a half longer to fit my size 8-1/2 American tootsies.   But, hey.  I like the pattern.  They’re the very kind of thing I want to wear around the house in cold weather.  Once I’ve waded through all the math and gotten one made, I just have to make the other one.   Piece of cake, right?

Sometime here soon, I’m also going to have to go on a conspiracy hunt — find and decide on all my UFOs**.  Am I ever going to finish them?  If not, froggy time; recycle the yarn and free up the needles.

I also need to go “cold sheep”*** big time.  My yarn stash is about to take me over.

I really should have known I wouldn’t have smooth sailing today. First thing, I wasn’t able to download my email.   I tried going to the Suddenlink website and couldn’t get on it.  I thought it was probably trouble with their website as I had TV, phone and could get on other internet sites.   Just for good measure,  I rebooted my modem.  When in doubt, reboot the modem.  Made no difference.

Before I even picked up the phone to call Suddenlink to find out what the deal was, I could feel my blood pressure going up.  Their phone tree is designed to deal with people who don’t have the sense God gave a doorknob. All I needed was 1 minute of a tech support person’s time answering a simple yes or no question, Is the Suddenlink website down?  To get that, I have to wade through the whole spiel, starting with proving it’s really  me by giving the SEEKRIT KOD.  Then I have to pick one of THEIR choices (my choice wasn’t one of them).  When you finally get to where you choose “tech support” then you have to wade through all the restart the modem song and dance.  Of course, by then, I’m yelling at the phone and my blood pressure is probably higher than giraffe’s ears.  When I FINALLY got to speak to the technician, I told her everything works, except I can’t download email or get on the Suddenlink website.  She checked to see if their website was down and sure enough.  Once I was actually speaking to a real live person, It took less than a minute to actually find out what I needed to know, and took a great deal of aggravation, hassle and major buzzkill to get to that point.  Their website’s still down, BTW, and has been down for about 8 hours now  All my services except email are still working.   Getting my email would be nice, though.


*What knitters do to a piece of knitting they've messed up:  rip-it, rip-it.
 **UFO - UnFinished Object.
 *** like going "cold turkey" except for knitters.  Not buying any more yarn until one's yarn stash is (greatly) reduced, either by getting rid of yarn or making something with it, or both.

It Fooled Around and Got Cold On Us

Tonight, my heater came on for the first time I was aware of  since I switched my thermostat over from AC to heat last week before we went to Pearland.  That’s because it got down to 32 F (0 C) last night, and its only 36F (2.22 C) right now.

I really need to be working on my reader’s shrug for reading in bed (my arms get cold), so naturally, I’ve started writing a shawl pattern —  it’s a modification of  a scarf pattern (see scarf at left)for a scarf which has an edging of Hilton lace.  The body of the scarf was done in seed stitch and had no border on the neck edge.  It had an increase/decrease of 1 stitch every 4 rows and is not very wide.   I like the look of it, and thought I would like it even better if it was a shawl.  So, I took the Hilton lace part, and combined it with what I call a “cobblestone stitch*” (because I haven’t been able to find out what it’s actually called) for the body, with a 3-stitch garter stitch inner edging and a 1 stitch increase every other row to make the body shawl-width instead of scarf-width.

It’s been a booger to sort out — the lace has a 16-row repeat, and since it’s knitted flat, the piece has right side and wrong side rows, which I had to figure out for the scarf body, and whether that bit goes at the beginning (right side) or end (wrong side) of the row.

I’ve had to write one “beginning increase” pattern repeat you just do once, because the body of the shawl starts from 1 stitch,  and then an increase pattern repeat that you repeat x number of times.  When you get to the halfway point, you start a decreasing pattern repeat, the last iteration of which had to be written separately as it takes the shawl body decrease back down to 1 stitch, after which you bind off.  However many times I’ll repeat the decrease pattern repeat depends on how many times I repeat the increase pattern repeat.  Since I’m knitting as I write, to test the pattern for accuracy, I won’t know until I’ve worked the increase pattern repeat the appropriate number of times.  Once I’ve actually knit one, I’ll be able to publish the pattern.

I’m doing it in knitting worsted weight (Medium:4) yarn on a ChiaoGoo Red Lace size US 10 (5.00) 32-inch circular needle, which ought to be wide enough.  The ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles have a nice long taper on the tip that makes them ideal for lace knitting.  I like the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles so much I use them all the time.  I’m starting to get quite a collection of them.  I especially like the way they do the connecting cord between the needles.  Those needles that use nylon or plastic to connect the needles are like trying to knit with a spring.  They keep wanting to coil back up.  The ChiaoGoo’s are very flexible and have no “memory” — I store mine coiled up in the package they come in, and when I take them out, they uncoil and are very flaccid and flexible, with no “coiling tendencies” whatever.

Lately, I’ve been reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona novellas (there’s 6 of them so far), which I am enjoying.  I have two left.  They are set in the same (fantasy) “world of the 5 gods” as her Chalion books (The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls,  and The Hallowed Hunt) and occur chronologically between the time period of The Hallowed Hunt, which is “historically” earlier than the Penric novellas, and the time period of the other two Chalion books, which are “historically” later.  So, if you want to read them in chronological order, read The Hallowed Hunt first, then the 6 Penric novellas, then The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.  They can each be read as a stand-alone, but they do fall into groups based on plot (Curse and Paladin) and main characters (Penric and Desdemona) .   The Hallowed Hunt is the outlier, as the only thing it shares with the rest of them is the world.

I was reading Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, which are space opera, but I got really tired of Miles Vorkosigan and his story arc.  What got me into the series was the Aral and Cordelia story arc, (which is Shards of Honor and Barrayar). but I bailed out about three books into Miles’ shenanigans. I found the Aral and Cordelia characters compelling and appealing, but I couldn’t get with Miles.  I completely enjoyed Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, which is more of Cordelia’s arc, and I wish she’d write more about the menage Bujold touches briefly on in that.   (Bujold’s “Schrödinger’s cat carrier” where she keeps ideas she can’t decide whether to use or not is not only brilliant, but it cracks me up so much!)

I’ve also got the latest Steve Brust Vlad Taltos novel in the To Be Read pile, although I may have to read up onto it by rereading some of the previous books in the series to refresh my memory.  I’ve also got two Dorothy Gilman novels, the two about Madam Karitska  (The Clairvoyant Countess and Kaleidoscope) on the pile as well as some other books, so I’m all set for some good reading weather.


* Row 1: knit, Row 2, k1, p1, repeat rows 1-2 ad lib.