Sunday, February 24, 2008

"A giving heart..."

Knitting Crone commented on one of my blog entries about afghansforAfghans that I have a "giving heart." The comment touched me and keeps cropping up in my mind. Now don't misunderstand me, I can be as selfish as the next person, particularly when it comes to pastries and such things. I will eat the last piece of pie, damn the torpedos ahead. But as I knit the socks for afghansforAfghans, I keep thinking of my childhood in WWII Germany and the years immediately after the war. My paternal grandmother was the chief supplier of hand-knit stockings, not socks, but stockings. And they were itchy, itchy, itchy. I know they were knit with love, but many a winter day, I wished I wouldn't have to wear them. Some place along the way I must have promised myself that should I ever knit socks for a child, the socks would be soft and smooshy, so they wouldn't have to "suffer" like I did.

I wish I could find the black and white photograph of myself that I had for many years. I think I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was wearing a hand knit pullover, a hand-knit skirt, and hand-knit stockings with socks over the stockings in boys shoes. What a sight! The pullover was knit by little old me with a strawberry colored wool yarn. I can still see myself sitting on the neighbor's bench knitting away and showing off. I have no idea how my mother came by that yarn, but if she was still alive she would probably have quite a story to tell about acquiring the yarn. The skirt was knit from an unraveled dark blue garment my mother had exchanged for knitting something for one of my girlfriends, and the socks and stockings came from my paternal grandmother, Oma. I have no idea from where the boys' shoes came but I had to wear the socks over the stockings, so the shoes did not fall off my feet.

Talk about poverty. Poverty is not a concept that a 7 year old really can grasp. All I saw was that my mother was often very, very sad. My biggest dream was to wear an apron to school just like my girlfriend did. I would even have dreams about it. What I didn't realize until later was that even if we had the money, I would never have been allowed to wear an apron to school since my mother did not believe in this local custom. Wearing aprons to school was against her sense of propriety. Aprons were for cleaning, and not for going to school.

So thank you Knitting Crone for your kind comment; it got me to thinking and remembering.

And since this is mainly a knitting blog, "Knit on!"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Stash! And already a project for it.

I am still slugging away on the Fisherman's Wife shawl. 14 rows to go on Clue 4, then onto Clue 5. I have suffered from clinical depression since 1984 and when I get an episode concentration is the first thing to go. Well I normally don't get it in the winter. No Seasonal Affective Disorder for me. Nor do I rarely get bummed out just for the sake of it. And if I do, I usually get over it fairly quickly. I allow myself no more than 5 minutes on the pity pot. I can blame my mother's side of the family for it; most of her brothers and sisters suffered from it as did my grandmother. But my physician gave me a new medication to deal with my breathing problems (and I don't even smoke) and the corticosteroid in the inhaler set off an episode. So doing complicated lace work is slow going for me. I can only concentrate on it for short periods of time. So each night before I go to sleep I knit one pattern row and one purl row. But I've been dealing with this for 24 years, so am used to the ups and downs. Besides, I am deep down one of those stoic (maybe stubborn?) Germans and thus, I told my depression long ago, you can attack me, but you won't win.

Can you believe in spite of my depression, I have signed up for 3 more KALs. One is through the Yahoo group EZasPi. I love EZs Pi shawls and this one is designed by Liz Lovick of the Orkney Islands. Angie was kind enough to dig through her stash and found a lace weight Shetland yarn, she spun last year. It's a gorgeous yarn to knit with and here is my swatch with different sized needles and a pic of a ball of the yarn with the thickness compared to a US penny. It's 2 ply and has about 42 give or take a few WPI (wraps per inch). She gave me several skeins and is spinning more of it for me since she has roving left from the same sheep. Even though every one nowadays loves all these wild hand-dyed yarns, I still love to knit with the natural colors best.

Bottom part knit with 3,25 mm needles, middle portion with 3.5 mm and top part with 4 mm needles. I think I'm going to stick with the 4 mm ones. The pattern is the cat's paw.

And here is a comparison of the thickness of the yarn to a penny. Isn't it sweet.

The KAL starts at the end of this month.
"Knit On!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Sore Derrier

I have a need to blog today although I have nothing to show as far as knitting is concerned. So here is some eye candy of past knitting:

Socks knit from Baby Ull with the Lithuanian Lily of the Valley pattern Matching Scarf

I am still slugging away at The Fisherman's Wife shawl. The rows are long, and I have to wind the rest of the yarn into a ball in order to knit with it. But it is beautiful and I only have 20 rows to go in this section. At first, I was a bit concerned whether or not I had enough yarn, but I have half of the skein left and we are about 2/3 done. So I should have plenty.
As soon as this one is done the next one Secret of Bad Nauheim starts. I think I am going to wait a while with it and do another lace knit-along. This one is from the Yahoo Group EZasPi. Liz Lovick from the Orkney Islands is going to do a Pi shawl with Orkney lace patterns as a KAL. Orkney lace patterns, apparently, are a little less complicated to knit, and I need something like that right now. I hope to raid Angie's stash of Shetland hand-spun yarn to knit it.

I also fell today. As most of Michigan, we had ice before the snow over the weekend. I went out to pay our snow plowing guy and there was nothing but ice under the snow. With my feet flying out from under me, I saw his shovel on the front of his truck out of the corner of my eyeball and made the snap decision to fall with my head raised up instead of letting it bounce off the snow plow shovel. I am a bit shook up and my right wrist and thumb and, of course, my derriere hurt. So much for being graceful.

I found this poem on Northern Doe's site at The author is unknown to me. It seems apropos to my current situation and probably fits many a state in the US right now. A friend of ours said the other day, she can't wait for May. Funny when we lived in southeastern Ohio, Spring came in March. Reminds me of the first winter I spent in Michigan; the blizzards and the snow were still flying in April.

Michigan Poem

It's winter in Michigan
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below.
Oh, how I love Michigan
when the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Michigan
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!!

"Knit On!"

Friday, February 15, 2008

King of Shawls

I think I wrote the other day that I had to boot Tommy off so I could take a photo of the second part of the Fisherman's Wife shawl. Well as soon as I got done, he reclaimed his place as King of Shawls, and here is the proof.

And since one photo of a cute critter doesn't seem enough, I found this old photo of Tommy and Mikey. Mikey was a cute little fellow (that's him as an adult dog) who was the champ of whiners. But he had one bad habit of which we never could break him. He liked to piddle and mark his territory. Napoleon syndrome, I think.

Dem-Fisher-Sin-Fru, Part 3

I finished part three of the Fisherman's wife shawl just in time to get part four. The eyes just aren't cooperating well lately. I've got to find my prescription and get new spectacles. I think that might help a bit since I can see just fine when the sun is shining; and then save up for the biggest adjustable Ott light I can find. Otherwise things are kind of wintry around here. We got some more snow. The snow plow guy had to dig us out once again. The piggy bank for snow plowing has long been deleted, and, I think there's more snow coming. So here is the latest installment:

Middle Portion

Side view. Can you see the starfish?

Other projects on the needles are 2 pairs of socks, and a scarf which will probably have to wait until the shawl is finished.

Knit on!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

All things come in threes..

At least I hope they don't come in fours or fives or sixes. I have three knitting projects going and I've made a mess of every one of them. So I've been slowly working myself out of the quagmire I've created.

Remember the post from February 3rd called "Speed Knitting"? I may not knit lace and watch a Garfield movie at the same time. The two rows I knit on Dem-Fischer-sin-Fru (The Fisherman's wife) took 45 minutes except: It took another six hours to correct the mistakes I made.
At first I decided as a Master-Fixer-of-all-Knitted-Errors, I would only undo half of the two rows and re-knit those two halves. Wrooong! When I re-knit the two half rows, I didn't use the same tension and, thus, didn't have enough yarn to finish the stitches I had undone (and a sizable number of stitches were remaining). So, I used a third needle and started to tighten the stitches to have more yarn, but I tightened them on the cable rather than the knitting point of the circular, and when I got back to the middle of the row, there was another mistake. By now my 67 year old eyes and the lighting in the room did me in; besides the stitches which I had tightened on the cable were two tight to move them to the needle portion. So I gave up for a while. Finally with better lighting and sheer force and a few other tools, I was able to get those tight stitches pushed on the needle portion and decided that my clever machinations didn't work and "tinked" the two rows. A total of six hours later, I was in business again and finished the last four rows lickety-split.

One good piece of news is that the Cherry Tree Hill lace yarn can take a licking and keep on ticking, an old Timex commercial for the younger crowd.

Now I only have two projects to fix: the Visions of Delight scarf and the socks I started to knit.

Here are some pics of parts 1 and 2 of the shawl.
"Knit on!"

Monday, February 4, 2008

This was in the most recent issue of The Onion, an online publication which presents humorous pretend news. I couldn't pass it up and not share this gem with others. The "newspaper" can be found at Enjoy!

Kitchen-Floor Conflict Intensifies As Rival House Cats Claim Same Empty Bag

MAPLEWOOD, MO—Ongoing turmoil in the troubled kitchen-floor region of the Branson household reached a boiling point Tuesday, as relations between rival house cats Boswell and Johnson erupted into fresh violence. Observers said the arrival of a new brown paper-bag in the area ignited long-standing tensions and set off another round of territorial conflict between the two factions in the most serious aggression since the devastating stove-side siege of 2005.

The disputed bag.

The afternoon was marred by sporadic fighting, according to reports, with opposing forces darting and then retreating in surprise attacks. Boswell held his position despite relentless onslaughts from Johnson, who repeatedly batted the controversial bag along the ancient linoleum surface. By the end of the day, neither side displayed any intention to halt reprisals without the other first relinquishing claims and pulling out permanently—an outcome those close to the fighting called "unlikely at best."
"What people unfamilar with the history here must understand is that this seemingly empty and barren paper bag has rapidly become the third most important site in the area after the scratching post in the living room and the breakfast-nook windowsill," former CIA analyst Brian Haddox said. "Not only is it seen by both Boswellist and Johnsonian interests as a crucial location for establishing territorial control in the kitchen-floor region, but it also makes a crumpling sound that both sides find irresistible."
Added Haddox, "Unfortunately, hostilities have destabilized this already tenuous peace at least until nap time."

The bag, a brown paper grocery bag from Stop & Shop with no prior claims of cat ownership attached to it, became the center of a wide-scale power play when Boswell seized control of its highly contested interior, and occupied the disputed area for approximately 30 seconds. Following immediate Johnsonian reprisals, Boswell unleashed a barrage of swats, but failed to secure a position in the bag.

Boswell above and Johnson below
Reports from the ground indicated that Johnson, once in possession of the perimeter region up to the cat dish, was forced in the early afternoon to retreat to the green rug zone, where he licked his paws with apparent disinterest for an estimated 10 minutes. Without warning, Johnson then launched a full-frontal assault on Boswell's forces, pouncing from behind and eventually chasing his rival all the way to the bathroom sink. The heavy leaping and grappling was broken only by periods of intense mutual licking. At one point, the conflict escalated into full-fledged upside-down kicking of each other in the face before Boswell was distracted by an errant ball rolling across the floor, bringing the factions to an uneasy standstill.

Despite the intensity of the fighting, no serious injuries were reported.
"People in the middle of this have tried everything they can to quell the violence, including bringing in a second bag, but nothing has worked," said U.N. investigator Caroline Olivera, adding that many residents were furious at the combatants for knocking over and destroying a prized vase in November. "It is beginning to appear that any long-term solution may have to involve deployment of the disciplinary squirt bottle."
According to International Red Cross worker Etienne Zervudacki, there was a temporary lull in the violence when both factions shifted their attention to a nearby can of tuna, craning their necks and licking their lips in apparent unity before eventually returning to the battle. While the short-lived truce was hopeful, Zervudacki said, it was a fragile pact that ignored the true causes of dilemma.

"The biggest shame here is that these two sides are so entrenched in their differences that they don't realize they are brothers," said Zervudacki, noting that even though both parties were reportedly curled up together on the sofa at press time, violence would likely break out again tomorrow. "If it's not the paper bag, it will be something else, like aluminum foil, toy mice, or plastic rings from two-gallon milk jugs."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Winter's Stillness

I stuck my head out the back door today and to my surprise the air was mild, the snow cover almost undisturbed, but most wondrous of all was the stillness. No sounds, just quietness, as if the snow had swallowed up all the shrillness of the current political campaigns, the blare of combat in various areas of the world, nothing but the hush and peace of a winter day.

View of the driveway. There are still a few oak leaves peeking out from behind the pine trees.

Between the chicken coop and the shed.
Branches heavy with snow.