Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sock Visits Smokies - pt. 2

We left our story of The Sock as she was being called to the head of the class for daydreaming at the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course, being a special sock, she did not get in trouble. Rather the Professor commented on how pretty her periwinkle dress complimented the rather drab interior of the old Schoolhouse and looked remarkably like the little flowers that bloomed in the forest in April and May. Before long the bell rang and school was let out for the day. The Sock gratefully escaped out the front door and headed down the rocky road that led towards home.

At the top of the steep slope above the schoolhouse, the little Sock paused to catch her breath as she looked over the small cemetery that adjoined the schoolhouse. So many of her friends were buried there! She was glad she had been strong enough to not succumb to the last epidemic that swept through the hills.

It's a long walk home, but the Sock didn't mind so much today as the birds were singing and the recent rain left everything green and fresh-smelling. The Rosebay Rhododendron were in full bloom and there were thickets of the big white fluff balls everywhere she went. Surely she was the luckiest little sock ever to live in the Smokies!

Safely at home after such a big adventure, the sock continued to grow and grow! The lacy edges curve upwards like the leaves on the Rhodies in the Park. Soon, the little sockwill be finished and ready for a companion!

Friday, June 29, 2007

SOS - 1 week down, 12 to go

The 1st week of the Summer of Socks KAL has passed. That means there are 12 weeks left to go for those of you into math and counting :o) Our fearless KAL leader asked us to report on any revelations we've had and report our triumphs and defeats. My immediate reaction was I am *never* defeated. That's right, never! That's because I refuse to accept defeat in my life. I firmly believe in the 3 Ps which enable me to never fail in my chosen endeavor: Persistence, Patience, and Plaas (that's me!). I try to be very choosy about what I do and I know that if I work hard and stick with it and I'm patient with myself and my limitations, there isn't anything I can't accomplish. I can't do everything, but I can do anything that I really want to do (there is a big difference).

So there's that answer, but what about the revelations? Well, I learned that Panda Cotton is a fat fingering yarn that isn't likely to want to knit at 9 st/". I also learned that it is rather splitty and can be a bit of a pain to knit with. But PC is also soft and has a nice amount of stretch to it and should make perfect socks. So, in the spirit of never defeated, when my 1st Panda Cotton sock didn't turn out what did I do? I went to my LYS and bought 2 more balls, this time in a solid color, and cast-on again. I chose a different pattern too, and guess what? This time my socks-in-progress look fabulous!

I cast on Meida's Socks late Tuesday night and yesterday they went on a little day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My vacationing this year will be, out of necessity, limited to short, local jaunts. But then hey, lots of folks drive for hours/days to see the Smokies and spend their vacation time there. I'm just lucky enough to live here!

The first stop Meida's sock (aka the Sock) made was in Townsend, TN, also known as the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. We like to patronize the facilities at the Visitors Center there before we head into the park.
Here the Sock became a part of the historic Tennessee Heritage Trail!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a very busy place in June, so local experts like us know just where to go to get our "mountain fix" without the crowds. The sock promised to not tell the whole world about our secrets, so I took her in through the "side door" on Wears Cove Road. This little gap in the mountain ridge open up to a lush bog where I have taken many of my finest wildflower photos in the past. The sock was impressed by the wild roses and Rosebay Rhododendron, but she didn't know about the hundreds of other flowers that live there in other seasons. There are many things the sock doesn't know about the Smokies, so I took her to school. Here you see her perched on a desk in the front row at the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse in the Park.

The best part about sitting in the front is that the Sock had a seat by the window. It was hard to concentrate on her lessons with the beauty of the trees and creek just outside the window! Everything looked so green! But the little sock was happy to be inside as it was starting to rain and she didn't want to get wet.

Of course daydreaming in class can get a girl in trouble, so she is called to the head of the class by the Professor! Lucky for her the professor is also her grandfather. She is the apple of her grandfather's eye so she doesn't get in trouble for not paying attention.

To be Continued!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting my act together

WHEW! It is so nice to be able to finally feel like I am starting to get my act together once again. The whirlwind of the dissertation and graduation quickly spun into visiting relatives and friends and a neglected garden complicated by the daily challenge of supporting my parents as my Father's health continues to deteriorate and my Mother struggles to cope with it all. I've had neither the time nor the energy to put my own little corner of the house in order so to speak. But at last, the time has finally arrived and I'm digging through the piles of papers and dust and whatnot at last. It's really scary how fast life turns into chaos when one doesn't have, or take the time to keep things in order.

While I filled the big black bags full of trash and shopping bags full of things to donate to charity, I had plenty of time to rethink my knitting projects and priorities. Like my overloaded desk, I think my knitting plate is a bit overloaded too. How easy it is to get caught up in the spirit of the sticks and yarn and commit to this KAL and cast-on that project! Being a process person, I love starting things but don't always finish what I started. Yet with my knitting I almost always *want* to wear or use the finished item, so I am more motivated to persist through to completion. So with one KAL just started (SOS'07) and another about to get underway (MS3), I had to stop and think about what I'm doing. I made some choices and hope that I will be able to work through them with some efficiency.

My first serious decision was about my Bugs Shawl that has been sitting in limbo while I agonized over what to do. I love the yarn, but I hate how the lace designs turned out. After a nice sit 'n knit session with Sandy at the Yarn Haven yesterday afternoon I came to the conclusion that to frog and reuse the beautiful yarn is better than trying to force myself to complete something I dislike. I will take the shawl into the Yarn Haven and us the swift and helping hands there to help me get the task done without having to do the unthinkable and cut the yarn.

So the Bugs is bugging out. Next up was the Panda Cotton socks. While I was at the Yarn Haven yesterday I looked at all the cotton yarns with sock-making potential and decided that I still like the Panda. I found several patterns that I felt were a better match for the yarn, but the lace was too complex for a multicolor yarn. I especially fell in love with Meida's Socks from the new IK Favorite Socks book (another KAL I joined). If I did this design I could meet the needs of 2 KALs with one project--COOL! So I purchased 2 balls of Panda Cotton in a one of my favorite colors, periwinkle, an I cast-on last night. As of this moment I'm on my 4th repeat and things look great! My knitty pal Ewe-Nice says they are a perfect fit!

I'm also trying to finish a couple of WIPs so I can wear them and move on to other things. I finally finished the cuff on the 2nd Jaywalker sock and am about to knit the heel flap. I am *so* ready to be done with Jaywalking! There are "funny little places" all over the place, but none of them are especially visible once you put them on, so I'm not tinking to fix them all. In fact, I chose to leave some as a sentimental reminder of when they were knit--like while waiting for my graduation rehearsal to begin or keeping company with my Dad at the hospital. Sometimes mistakes have meaning that would be a shame to repair.

I'm making faster progress on the Hanami Stole now that I'm into the eyelet section. It's a pretty stole and I will enjoy it, but I suspect the softness of the silk will always leave it with curled edges. Perhaps adding beads will help weight things, I don't know. I have my doubts about the silk holding a good blocking too, but I won't know for sure until I'm finished. I think I will stick to garter stitch lace for fine silk like this in the future. I'm planning on finishing Hanami before casting on the MS3. The will give me time to see what the design will be and make decisions about yarn and if I want to use beads, etc. or, for that matter, if I even want to knit it right now.

So that's the way things are here at beadntat. The place is getting clean, the knitting is moving along, and I looking for a *real* job for the first time in years. Life is good--very good.

Ewe-Nice says "Now this is a sock that will fit!"

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Adventures in Sock Knitting

I wear socks every day. I'm a "house-sock" person. Where some people wear slippers or "house shoes" I wear socks. I wear socks to bed. In fact, I can't sleep if I don't have my socks on. They are my ticket to regulating my erratic body body temperature. Too hot? Take the socks off. Too cold? Socks on! It's almost magic really. For the most part I wear simple white cotton anklets--you know the kind I mean, the ones they sell at Sam's Club, Walmart, or Costco in bags of 6 or 10 or 12 pairs. I *need* those big bags of socks because they wear out fast and because Miss Emme, my little dachsy, has this thing for my socks. She picks them up (yes, plural, she wants them both in her little doggy mouth) and hauls them away to all her favorite hiding places in the house.

After Emme chewed a hole in my 1st handknit sock I became very careful to keep them well out of her reach but I don't really care that much about the Sam's Club socks. As long as I have a clean pair to wear when I need them, it's OK. I didn't cry over the 1st handknit sock either as they had, er...well, let's just call them fit issues. Let's just say that size 3 needles recommended in the "how to knit socks" booklet I used for guidance are too big to knit a good sock out of fingering wt. sock yarn. I had worn the heels thin in those socks in months. That was my first lesson in sock knitting--small needles are your friend if you want to wear your socks for any length of time. Oh, and, keep them out of the reach of dogs!

So, I got carried away with the illusion of "free time" that I would have this summer now that the dissertation is done and I'm a "free" woman. I signed up for a bunch of KALS--too many KALS really. My fault was not in signing up and enjoying the camraderie and the designs, but in thinking I would actually be able to knit them all on time with the groups. I'm not a speed knitter. But the official start date for the Summer of Socks 2007 was last Thursday so I dutifully cast-on a new pair of socks that would be just perfect to wear in the summer. Why would they be perfect? Because I would be knitting them from Panda Cotton, a blend of cotton, bamboo, and a bit of elastic to keep the sagging in check.
So I did the logical thing and went to the Crystal Palace website to find a pattern to go with the yarn. Crystal Palace has great pattern support for their yarns, and the best part is many of those patterns are free for the downloading!

I found this great pattern by Adrienne Fong called Fly Away Home which sort of looks like ladybugs. Ladybugs, summer, cotton yarn--this sounds great. I grabbed a bunch of dpns and started in. The design called for a picot cuff which I think looks awesome, but I had never knit before. No time like the present, I thought, to learn a new technique. I found some waste yarn to do a provisional cast-on and I was off. that "off" didn't last long once I had the provisional undone and 2 sets of dpns, including my favorite KnitPicks super slippery 2.5mm ones, dangling in strange ways as I tried to get it all to come together into a cuff. The needles slid, I dropped stitches, I switched to bamboo and aluminum, I hissed, I found my dropped stitches and went on. At last, I had a very nice picot-edge cuff, a very stretchy cuff. I made a mental note to learn to Magic Loop before trying this technique again, and proceeded to follow the pattern.

Knitting on, I loved the ladybug lace motif. I also loved how fast my sock was growing. I tried it on and was surprised to discover that it fit quite nicely over my exceedingly curvy calf. This sock was fitting where no sock had fit before! Maybe there is something to this elastic added sock yarn after all. One pattern repeat down things were looking good, the same with 2, but by the 3rd repeat I was beginning to worry that this sock was too big. I added some needles and did a try on. Big indeed! But I could just knit a really long cuff and get away with it this time, I thought. Of course that would most likely mean I would need a 3rd ball of this skimpy yardage yarn. Then it hit me, I had to make the heel and foot smaller if it was going to fit--much smaller! I was already working on 2.25mm needles and somehow I didn't think going down to 2.0mm would be adequate to the task.

First I growled, then I did a gauge check. How does 6 st/" hit you when the design called for (YIKES! I don't remember seeing this) 9st/"! I knew I was sunk and I pulled the needles in preparation for frogging. The stitch holder in the photo shows about how much I don't need of this sock for it to fit. The second photo is a little exercise in yarn comparison: Panda Cotton vs. Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock or the fat sock yarn vs. the typical sock yarn. Lesson learned. Panda Cotton is more like Sport Weight. The yarn is now rewound and I'm searching for the next pattern to try. I have a couple of promising ones that call for sport weight yarn at a gauge of 5.5-6st/" I guess I'll be casting-on again soon :-)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Where did they go????

Let's see...the last I check there were 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day. Yup, I think that's it...but then what happened to the last week??? Boy, that one went really fast! I guess that's what happens when you have kids. Being an Old Maid myself, I'm not too knowledgeable about these things, but I was Aunt Kristina all last week and I learned a few things: 1) I'm not used to "mothering" 7 year-old girls, even an extremely well-behaved one like Victoria; 2) Kids can wear you out to a state of fatigue previously unknown to an Old Maid; 3) The Knoxville Zoo is a very big place filled with animals that are usually interesting, sometimes creepy (snakes and spiders, etc.), and sometimes very stinky (can you say nausea?) and 4) Old Maid Aunts do things that busy Mothers don't have the time or energy to do so we are very fun ;-)

And speaking of Auntie things, I finally got some pictures of my newest great-niece Isabella. Are those the chubbiest cheeks you ever saw on an 8 pound baby? The new daddy, my nephew Tyler, is absolutely smitten with his daughter and I am getting "Baby Nurse" Aunt Kristina phone calls every 4 or 5 days with questions about joyful things like poop. Isn't it just grand to be trusted with such intimate questions? Heck, I answered the same questions for his mother when Tyler was born, why not do it again for the next generation?

I did get some knitting done in between my Auntie duties, though not as much as usual. I cast-on a new pair of socks on Thursday, the summer solstice, to mark the kick-off of the Summer of Socks 2007 KAL. Let's just say I had a learning adventure (very big laugh!) which I'll post about with all things knitty tomorrow. As for tonight, I think I'm ready to hit the hay a bit early. I think they call us Old Maids for a reason, 'cuz I feel very old tonight---old and worn out!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Slippery Stuff!

So I was knitting away on the Hanami Stole last night and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for being on the last repeat of the basketweave pattern (I did 8 repeats instead of 7 for added length). You know that you finally arrived and can move on? Well, I was almost at the station when I realized I had goofed up on the row I was knitting. No big deal I thought, as I had tinked back on *many* rows in this design. Let's face it, this one is not for beginners as it requires intense concentration and counting like a crazy woman to keep on pattern. There's no room for error either because one mistake set's you up for disaster on subsequent rows.

So I knitting this thing in a deliciously smooth, 100% silk--double stranded--on super slick KnitPicks needles, right? And I'm shoving the stitches along the needle as I'm carefully tinking about 25 stitches when whoops! My hand slipped and about 10 stitches slid right off the end and promptly started to run. YIKES! It's going on 11 PM, so I'm a little tired, which didn't help either. I carefully lay the knitting on a pillow and grab for my little box with the stitch markers and safety pins. I catch up as many loose loops as I can find before jumping out of bed to find some dpns for the rescue job. Thinking I'm using 3.25mm needles, I grab a set of clover bamboo dpns in the same size, but the dull points and "fat" needles don't seem to want to pick up the silk. That's when I realized I was using smaller needles :-( So I ditch the clovers, and grab some smaller Crystal Palace dpns with the nice pointy tips and smoother surface and start to work.

Those little devils ran like crazy and I ended up tinking back about 6 rows, one stitch at a time because I had no lifeline and no way to put one in after the fact. (I still hate lifelines and won't put one in this project). It took me at least 1 1/2 hrs. to rescue my stole and get her back tot he point where I had all the requisite stitches back on the needles without holes or mistakes. I just finished knitting the last row of the 8th repeat of chart 1. I had hoped to have the transition section (chart 2) finished by now too, but I guess accidents do have a way of interfering with progress.

At least I only have a few rows of basketweave lace left to knit. Funny thing though, this afternoon I was watching the new PBS series, From the Top, on child prodigy musicians playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Today they were featuring a youth orchestra playing Beethoven and the ambience stage lighting revealed a lattice pattern as a backdrop to the orchestra--and it looked exactly like the basketweave pattern in the Hanami Stole! I did a triple take to make sure I was just loosing my mind and starting to see strange images. i guess that's what I get for the nightmare I experienced last night >:-{

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hanami Update

In light of my frustration with the Bugs Shawl, I decided resume work on the Hanami Stole design by Melanie at Pink Lemon Twist. Melanie designs and leads the Mystery Stole KALs and MS3 is slated to get underway in about 2 weeks. I took this as motivation to finished the Hanami so I can start the MS3 without feeling guilty about the excessive number of WIP/UFOs in my stash.

I've been back at it for maybe 3 days now and have completed the required 7 repeats of the 1st (basketweave pattern) chart. I am using 2 strands of ColourMart 100% silk in the Melissa (a celery green) colorway and 3.25mm (US 3) KnitPicks circular needles. The original design was knit in a slightly fatter lace yarn (KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud) with 3.5mm (US 4) needles. Guess what that means? You guessed it, My gauge is smaller and so is my stole. Melanie's blocked dimensions were 19x70". With my stole technically at the halfway point, I'm at 17x26". This is not so good because the finished stole needs to be nice and *long* for proper wrapping. I knew I had to make it longer for me, but them my Mom saw it for the first time and dropped an atom bomb-sized hint about hoe the green was more her color than mine and how nice it would feel wrapped around her neck! Let's see, what would the Aussie Guy on Animal Planet say... CRIKEY! (I mean no disrespect to the deceased--I just thought it was an unusual his daughter Bindi repeats often on her new tv show...but I digress).

Okay, so it has to be longer and that means I have to endure knitting at least one more 32 row repeat of the basketweave pattern. Did I say how sick I am of knitting the basketweave pattern? I should be done with it and the transition section by the time the weekend is over, so then I can get to the real business of knitting holes. My fibro has been pretty grumpy as of late, so I'm trying to not overdo things, like doing too much digging in the garden, etc. Yeah, right, so I started digging my way through the piles of stuff in my closet instead! At least the shoes are back in their boxes and up on the shelf where they belong and I can walk into the closet without tripping for a change ;o) Next up: some more dejunking! It's good for the soul and creates more room for the yarn stash (did I say yarn stash????)

edit: I used US 2 (3.0mm) KnitPicks Circular needles for the Hanami Stole, not 3.25mm as originally stated. OOPS!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Still knitting

I haven't posted for a few days, but I'm still here, still knitting, and still hanging out in my garden. The flowers are doing reasonably good considering we're having a horrific drought and I have to water every day to keep my transplants from dying. New acquisitions this week included a huge red and white columbine, a couple of blue salvias, and several smaller confetti lantana to fill in the space now accessible since I did a badly needed major pruning job on my Climbing Queen Elizabeth rose. The poor girl was very overgrown and not blooming much. What buds she did produce were pretty much wiped out by the Easter freeze. But the good news is shot up lots of huge new canes so I could whack away without fear of Lizzie dying on me.

I've been rather occupied with family things too, like playing "limo driver" for my dear father who finally came to the sad realization that he was no longer a safe driver anymore. Getting old and having your health fails is awful, but volunteering to give up the car keys was the hardest thing he's had to do thus far (Daddy has always had a thing for cars and took great pride in driving Mom and the rest of us everywhere). So I'm driving him to cardiac rehab 3x/week and running errands like going to the pharmacy and to the public library so he can check out tons of books.

I've been working on my jaywalker socks while waiting for daddy to finish his exercises as they are my most portable project at present. I'm still on the cuff of the 2nd sock, but should be ready to knit the heel in a few more days. When I'm at home I've been working on one of my various lace shawl projects. I showed the bugs pi shawl to a lady the other day while I was waiting to have my care serviced. That's when I had a terrible moment of clarity. You know, that sinking pit at the bottom of your stomach feeling? As I was talking with this nice lady I heard myself telling her that it was a good thing I was using such pretty yarn, because I really didn't like the design of the shawl. The night before I had been knitting on clue 4 and hissing at every twisted stitch (I'm sure there's an easier way to knit them, but I haven't looked it up yet). I finally stopped knitting and took the time to spread the monster out some and *look* at the thing--really LOOK AT IT! That's when I had my first inclination, affirmed the following day while talking to the lady at the service department--I don't like this shawl (aka "this looks ugly to me")
It was almost serendipity--and I felt guilty for even thinking such an awful thing about this design that my friend Mindy and the gang as EZasPI worked so hard to develop. But it's true, I don't like it.

I thought about frogging just the last clue, but I couldn't find a suitable lace design to sub in that would look compatible with the previous clues. And given the colors of the yarn (beautiful handpainted yarn that wasn't exactly cheap, but is sentimental since it was a graduation gift), it's hard to identify the flowers and insects. the dragonflies are sort of lost and the sideways butterfly, well, it doesn't look much like a butterfly in my version of the shawl. AAACK! Now what do I do?

One thing I have learned not to do is to frog based on a initial gut reaction. There's no sense wasting a perfectly nice project with many (MANY!!!) hours invested in it simply because I'm in a mood and looking at everything cross-eyed. No, I just left the thing alone for a few days and knit on other WIPs. But it's been 4 days now, and I still don't like the look of my shawl. I mentioned this to mother, whose sometime practical advice was "isn't it a good thing knitting can be ripped out and the yarn used for something else?" Yes, Mom. But there's something about the 2400 yds. of this yarn, all in one piece, that's makes frogging back about 80g of laceweight merino a bit intimidating. This may have to wait a little longer since I have my niece(almost 8yo)spending all of next week with me. Guess I'll be knitting on jaywalkers!
You Are a Brownie Cheesecake

A little chunky and a little gooey, you pretty much run on sugar!
You take hedonism to the extreme.. And people love you for it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm a great...

Aunt! It's a very exciting day because my nephew Tyler and his wife Mary Katherine introduce another generation into the Plaas family this morning with the birth of Isabella Monroe. She surprised us all by weighing in at 8# 1oz and a perfect 19" long. Bella (Izzie if you ask me :-) has red hair just like her mother and her father is so thrilled he only half makes sense when talking to him over the phone. First time daddies are so cute! Really! I've met hundreds, even thousands? over the course of my nursing career and there's nothing quite so charming to watch than a new daddy. Of course my brother, the new grandfather, blubbered on quite nicely himself.

I'm just delighted that Bella made it here safe and sound and that she was born to a family where she has a mommy and a daddy who are married to each other and committed to caring for each other forever. I wasn't surprised when Tyler called last night to inform us that Mary Katherine's water has broken and they were headed to the hospital. I knew that Isabella would be born today as it is her great great grandmother Louise Emma Schubert Plaas' birthday. Grandma Plaas would have been 109 years old today. June is just a great month for Plaas women, as my sister Stephanie (9th) and I (6th) were also born in June. I'm sure that grandma and Stephanie were both in attendance from across the veil to guide this precious little one in her transition to earth. It's a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sweaty Saturday

We've been in a serious drought here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains this spring. This is not good for my lawn and gardens. We've also had remarkably low humidity--similar to that of Utah where I once lived. Low humidity has it's advantages because you don't *feel* the heat as much. But the rains finally came yesterday, and they brought the sauna with them. I just came back in the house for some air-conditioned relief after some serious sweating while planting my beautiful foxgloves into the flower bed just outside my bedroom window. They are just a glance away from the computer :-)

There were three big plants crammed into the single pot I purchased. I always look for such pots as they often provide the best value for the dollar. Armed with a serrated knife, I conducted surgery and soon had three beauties that I'm sure will be delighted at their newfound freedom. Surely plants, like people, love it when they are no longer crammed into too tight a space. I planted 2 outside my window before my energy gave out. I'm still debating where to plant the 3rd, but I suspect somewhere along the north fence will be nice. That's where I put the St. John's wort yesterday. The SJW promptly thanked me by popping open three fuzzy blooms.Oh my gosh they are so pretty! They look very similar to the ones I took pictures of in the high desert canyons of Utah and Wyoming.

Yesterday was still pretty rough in the aftermath of the migraine. But I did get back to my knitting. I decided to keep on knitting on the Alpine Scarf until I had enough of the lace pattern done to be able to fairly judge whether or not I needed to go up a needle size. Basically, I did this because I was too lazy to swatch with a 3.5mm needle and I didn't want to frog what I had already done, especially the carefully done crochet cast-on that would give me the perfect edge to my scarf. I'm halfway through the 1st repeat and am pretty pleased with how things look--maybe I made the right choice after all!

I also picked up the Bugs Shawl and knit 3 more rows. I love the yarn I'm using for this project, but gee, the dark blues and grays sure are hard on the eyes! I'm getting lots of practice making right and left twisting stitches (or 2 st. cables if you prefer). I discovered that the "bobbles" that I knit the other day were (as I suspected) not true bobbles, but were really nupps. I was watching an episode of "Knitty Gritty" on DIY and Lily Chin was demostrating different textured stitches. When she got to bobbles I watched carefully as she increased (as I had done), then turned the work and purled back, turned again and knit across,finally knitting all the sts. back into one st and leaving a nice raised "bobble". See, a knitter learns something new almost every day :-) Knit on!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I'm afraid I didn't get much knitting done today (or last night night even) because of the attack of the killer migraine. I knew it was coming on last evening while I was out watering the garden and transplanting petunias into pots. I think the heat and glare got to me after my trip to the Home Depot. My head throbbed all night. It's *so* hard to go to sleep with that roaring pulse in your ear!

I managed to get 2 rows knit on the Bugs shawl yesterday, but I was having a hard time seeing with the dark color of the yarn. So I decided I needed to find a lace project with light colors to work on. I need something that goes with my summer clothes, so I pulled out some pretty butter yellow lace yarn from the Yarn Haven and cast-on for the Alpine Knit Scarf from "Victorian Lace Today" The VLT group finally started a KAL, so I felt especially motivated to chose this shawl for my next project (that and the guilt of having the book for months now and not having knit a single thing from it yet).

The pattern recommends a super fine yarn with 3.5mm needles, but the Yarn Haven Gentle is finer than most laceweight yarns so I cast-on with KnitPicks US 3 (3.0mm) circulars. For once I wish KnitPicks made their size 3 needles 3.25mm like most other manufacturers. Anyway, I knit the 1st 6 rows of garter stitch and am thinking that maybe the 3.5mm needles would be better after all. In lace knitting too tight a gauge is as bad as too loose, maybe worse! Since this will be a very lacy pattern with no significant stockinette areas, it's better to err on the loose side anyway. So here's my dilemma: do I frog and start over with the larger needles and trust that I will like it, or do I grab another ball and swatch (gasp!) to make sure before ripping out the first attempt. The other option is to keep knitting until I get to the lace part with the 3.0mm needles before jumping to the conclusion that it's too tight (I am a loose knitter).Arrrgghhh! I hate these decisions.

So that's all the woe from Lake Woebegon today, but there was joyful news too. I smiled as I watched our friendly mail lady pull up in the driveway this afternoon. Mother was wondering what she was delivering, but *I* knew :-) Yes, indeed, it was a box from containing my 2 Barbara Walker Treasuries! Oh boy, oh joy!!! I've already started to thumb through the 2nd volume, armed with post-it notes to mark the stitches that interest me most. Look out knitty friends, KP original designs are sure to follow!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Birthday presents

Today's my birthday, which is totally cool with me as I like birthdays. Birthdays mean good food and presents, generally things I give myself since I'm a single woman. Hey, if I don't give them to myself, there wouldn't be any presents! A few friends have sent e-cards, which is kind and thoughtful but the same as getting a *real* card that you can hold in your hands and re-read a hundred times and paste into a scrapbook along with pictures of the cake, the dinner party, and a list of the presents. You just can't do that memory-making stuff with cards sent via the internet. But I am digressing...

I ordered my first birthday presents over the weekend--the 1st two Barbara Walker Treasuries. Amazon has notified me they have been shipped and to expect them on Saturday. The next wave of presents happened on Monday when mother insisted I come tot he Mall to look for a bathrobe on sale that a friend of mine wanted. By the time i arrived, the robes were all gone. But I went to Crabtree & Evelyn instead and splurged on some body powder and soaps in my favorite fragrance Summer Hill. Yum!

But that was Monday and the big day is today, so I went to Home Depot to find some petunias to replace the pansies which need to be pulled out of my garden and planter boxes. I got the petunias (my Mom's favorites) and then I saw them. My heart skipped a beat as I gasped at their beauty. Yes, it was a display of foxgloves in full bloom. I had foxgloves in my garden in Utah the last year I was there and they were so delicious! I've wanted some ever since I came back to TN, back I either didn't see any to purchase, or they were cost prohibitive. But today the price was right and after all, it*is* my birthday so I bought the big girls and brought them home.

The foxgloves I chose were a pale lavender and should go quite nicely with the bright lavender bee balm, dwarf shasta daisies, pink calla lilies, and blue and pink columbine already in my garden. I also picked up a wildflower that I love because of its distinctive bloom--St. John's Wort. No, this isn't the version most people think of--this is the yellow outer petals filled with fine yellow hairs bloom that you see in the wild. Yes, like the one's I used to see hanging off the cliffs in the Uintah mountains--the "real" St. John's wort. My plant has loads of fat buds, but no blooms, so it's going to be fun watching this one grow and bloom. There will be pictures to follow!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bugs Day 9

It's day 9 of knitting own my Bugs Pi Shawl and I'm at the point in the shawl where the rounds are LONG and the progress seems SLOW. Realistically, I'm doing well if I get 4 rows knit each day. I'm working on Clue 4, selection B and I just knit my first bobbles ever on row 13 yesterday. They weren't too difficult, but that's because of my trusty super pointy Addi-lace needles. I found I got the best look by creating the 5 sts (kpkpk) then knitting one more stitch into the back of the st. below (just as you would if you were doing a kfb increase). After that I just passed all 5 sts over the last k made to close the cluster and create the raised bobble. Pretty cool!

I'm on row 16 right now and I hope to get R17 finished tonight as well. That would keep me at an average of 4 rows/day which is good. I'll start in here shortly, but right now I'm too excited watching the Tennessee Lady Vols Softball team play for the national championship against the Arizona Wildcats. The Lady Vols won game 1 last without a problem and they beat AZ last week as well, but things are tighter tonight. The Lady Vols have had the bases loaded twice in the last 3 innings and weren't able to get the runs. AZ just escaped again---Yikes! If the Lady Vols lose tonight, they will play the deciding game tomorrow night, but I'd rather not have to see them need to go to a game 3. Wouldn't it be totally awesome if both the Lady Vols softball and basketball teams won national championships in the same year! Since I just graduated and created history by way of miracles, I don't see why not? GO VOLS!!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Creative Expression

While my fur baby, Miss Emme, slept amidst the comfort of my bed yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a forum address given by a professor of poetry and literature at Brigham Young University on TV. His remarks piqued my interest and reminded me of some of my own recent thoughts about reading and writing. The dissertation aside, I really haven't done as much reading of good literature or writing of my thoughts and ideas as I would like to do. I was reminded of all the great books I haven't read as I walked through the Barnes and Noble the other day. I have been blogging here, but my personal journal writings have been infrequent. In many respects, knitting has interfered with my need for other creative expression, mostly because you can't read or write and knit at the same time--or at least I can't do those things. Being a visual person, audiobooks are OK, but they just don't cut it for me. I have to *read* it myself.

Last night I resolved to change and do more writing and reading. The professor commented on how spending 15 minutes each day writing had really improved his expression and how jotting down noteworthy thoughts and ideas as you come across them in a day are great fodder for later creative writings. I love reading and writing poetry, but I have written much in the last 4 or 5 years, even though the ideas are always popping into my mind. So I put down my knitting and wrote in my journal before going to sleep last night, and I grabbed a pencil and legal pad and spent a little time this morning waxing poetic. I looked around my room for inspiration and saw all the baskets of yarns and pottery filled with needles and notions. The words came with relative ease after looking at the basket pictured above.


Strands of palmetto fronds
encircle sweetgrass needles
like stripes on a barber pole;
Round and round
the coils curve upward,
capturing flamingo pink stripes
soft as a newborn lamb;
Sharp steely sticks
lift loops of yarn
along a jagged journey,
jaywalking to
just socks.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I love June!

Can you believe it's June already? This year has simply flown by, but then I don't mind because June is my favorite month. It's my birthday in a few days, and my garden is in full bloom, and the weather is warm but not intolerable yet, and June is just so much fun! I updated my knitting with pictures yesterday so today it's the garden. Today's featured selections include the "Spicy Delight" rose (the dark pink one that looks like it's been "spotlighted" by the sun), a pale lavender clematis, the fiery orange-pink "Tropicana" rose, and a beautiful pink Calla Lily. Did you know that Calla Lilies came in many colors? I have white, pink, and dark raspberry pink Calla lilies in my garden. The funny thing is they grow from a tuber that looks like a russet potato. Who knew?

My garden has had a rough spring, what with the unusually warm March followed by the awful Easter deep freeze and complicated by neglect from the dissertation-distracted gardener. But the good news is my rose garden has never looked better. The bushes have finally matured beyond the "will it survive" stage and the floribunda roses are getting quite tall. I have more blooms this week that I've ever had in TN--more like the blooming i had in my roses in Utah where they thrive on benign neglect! Neglected hybrid tea roses in Tennessee die of black spot, fungus, aphids, and Japanese beetle infestations. In Utah all you *had* to do was water, and that's what sprinkler systems are for :-)

On the knitting front, the new clues for the Bugs KAL are up! It looks like I'll be knitting some praying mantis' and earthworms for this section. Now that's will be an adventure! This chart covers 80 of the 96 rows in this section of the Pi shawl. Yup, this is the section that goes on forever! But I've already knit 4 rows and have set a goal to knit at least 6 rows a day. It would be very cool to be finished by the end of June, but that's pretty ambitious.

I have one more exciting bit of knitting news--I finally placed my order for the 1st two Barbara Walker Knitting Treasuries. I had intended to get them from KnitPicks as they always sold them for a little less money than everyone else, but they are no longer listed on their website. The only book KnitPicks had from Walker was the Mosaic Knitting book. So I went to the next best place that I know I can rely on--Amazon! Not only did Amazon have all the Walker books for sale, but 3 of the 4 treasuries had been discounted a tiny bit ($1.50). Hopefully the books will be shipped on schedule and I'll have them in 1-2 weeks. It's been a long wait, but I just can't survive without them any more. I'll buy the other 2 books as soon as the budget allows. It's always a tough choice--do I buy yarn, lace needles, books, magazines, or patterns? It's always a carefully thought out choice for me and I've put off buying the $$$ books, but now the time has come to add to my library instead of my stash :-)

Friday, June 01, 2007

I've been busy!

I've been a busy girl this week! First, I've been trying to finish some of my many UFO knitting projects. I have blocked this Coral Lace Shawl yet, but here's a couple of pictures in it's unblocked state.

Up next are the Flamingo Pink Stripe Jaywalker socks! I finished knitting the 1st sock last night and have cast-on for the second. I figure I needed to get the next sock up a running as it will be the perfect thing to get me through my step-nephew TJ's high school graduation exercises tonight. TJ is a great kid and he attended a magnet school, so the graduation is a bit better than your usual event (my nephew Christopher graduated from the same HS 2 years ago), but the crowds and commotion and my ebullient brother can be a bit much for this old maid to deal with.

We've had my step-niece Tammy staying with us all week, so Mother and Daddy and I took her to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday night for a picnic supper and wildlife watching. Tammy has never seen anything like this before (my brother & his wife recently adopted Tammy and her sibs from the state foster care system). First we saw the horses from the riding stable where my mother worked her "Pied Piper" charms on a couple of the beautiful critters. In the next field there were a flock of wild turkeys.

We visit the Cove in the evening because that's when the deer come down out of the mountains to feed on the meadow grasses in the cool of the day. We stopped at our favorite pull-out to eat our usual picnic of Subway sandwiches. As we sat there we watched 8 or 9 deer come down into the meadow right in front of us. Then as we continued along the 11-mile one-way loop road we came across dozens of white-tail deer, including a number of yearling bucks and a pretty spotted fawn. We thought we were doing well in teh wildlife viewing department, but then we were delighted to come upon a mother bear and her 2 cubs in a wooded area. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a decent photo of the bears, but Tammy was delighted to see "Smoky Bears". The bear population has grown in the park, so you are more likely to see bears now than when I was a kid. But I still feel the same excitement today as I did when I was younger when I see a bear in the Park. To see a mother and cubs is the best treat of all!