Saturday, May 24, 2008

Feeling quite virtuous

This weekend is kind of a run-through for the coming days when Rick will be traveling and I'll be home alone. So far, so good; I had some very productive knitting time last night, did some housework, then went out and (1) located and retrieved the mower from winter storage, (2) coaxed the engine out of its hibernation, and (3) got a good bit of the yard mowed before dark. (No, I didn't need the baler - although that low corner of the front yard with an underground spring had to be mowed in very narrow, slow strips.) And this morning, I was up early to go lap swimming with Tasha.

I used to love swimming - still would, if there was a pool nearby that I liked. The Falls pool is nice, but I can't justify driving all the way to Falls just to swim. And the Plymouth pool tends to be temperature-inappropriate, even if sharing the common shower and locker room with half a dozen middle-aged and elderly women wasn't a bit surreal. But my point (and I do have one) is that swimming is just utterly relaxing for me. One of the benefits of my current size is that I'm buoyant as all get out, and I can just lay there on the water or motivate along letting my mind wander, and I come out feeling virtuous for the exercise and relaxed from the daydreaming. Today my mind kept wandering back to how appropriate Diana Naiad's name is (mythology joke), and how she broker her nose getting kicked in the face while training in a public pool. Why? I have no idea. But it's all good.
And so, with slightly achy shoulders and a sense of relaxed purpose, I'm going to make a dump run, do some more mowing, hang the hammock - and then sit in the shade of a flowering tree in front of my pond, watch the goldfish, and knit for a few hours. I'm missing Rick, but so far I'm thinking this weekend alone thing is working out okay.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday, and it's not warm out

Like me, Rudy has limited enthusiasm for the day . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Winding up . . . or down . . . or something

I finished the right wingtip of the Tree of Life shawl!! Now I just have one more wingtip to go, and frankly they're not that intimidating now that I'm into them. If I have enough yarn and time, I could very well finish the second one this weekend. Then I just need to do about 15 - 20' of the leaf edging from Barbara Walker's 2nd Treasury, and turn it all over to Tammy for her magic crochet seaming technique, and then move on to the next thing!

Recipe for a right wingtip:

Cast on 64 stitches

1. knit 2 stitches stockinette (first stitch will be seam allowance when tip is joined to wing), then two full repeats of Row 1 of the Orchid Lace stitch (omitting the last two stockinette stitches of the first repeat), then k2, p1, k1.
2. k1, p1, k1, purl across.
3. k2, knit two full repeats of Row 3 of Orchid Lace (omitting last two stockinette stitches of the first repeat), then k2, p1, k1.
4. k1, p1, k1, purl across.

Continue in this way, leaving out those two middle stitches of stockinette so that center column of stockinette is only 2 stitches wide instead of 4. The seed stitch on your left will become the right edge of the shawl, since you're knitting the section top-down. I made the wingtip a total of 30" long, since that was the height of the shawl wing - but don't use my measurements, since your mileage may vary.

For left wingtip,

1. p1, k1, p1, k1, then two full repeats of Row 1 of the Orchid Lace stitch (omitting the last two stockinette stitches of the first repeat), ending with an extra k2.
2. purl across to last 2 stitches, the k1, p1
(You get the idea. Its the same as the right wingtip, just with the seed stitch and the seam allowance on opposite sides.)

My thought is to consolidate all of these bits of instruction for the shawl when I'm done, so I can share a .pdf version with anyone who asks. I will NOT be selling this pattern, because (a) I have no intention of testing the instructions, once written, and (b) I'm basically just using other people's stitches and ideas in a slightly different way, and I wouldn't feel justified in calling it an original work of design.

In other news, Tasha is leaving for a summer at camp in less than a week - that is, assuming she can wrap up her school responsibilities in time. For the sin of missing a week of gym (to go to summer camp, for goodness sake!!) she is being required to do hours and hours of documented aerobic exercise at school. She has been up at 5:00 a couple of mornings this week so as to get a full hour of lap swim in before her "zero hour" early class, and the strain of all that exercise is really starting to show in her personality. At least it will get her in shape for the summer. But, grumpy mood aside, I'm taking her out for a pedicure and haircut tonight to give her a little pampering before she heads out.

Luc finished his college class, and thinks he did fairly well on the final. The jury is still out, but if nothing else the class allowed him to "dip his toe" and get a better understanding of the organization and personal responsibility required for college. He's also pleased to report that he sold his book back to the school for a reasonable amount, despite it having been through a car wreck and God knows what else during the semester.

And it's a good thing Rick mentioned it to me before he helpfully chopped down "that big thistle" growing in my septic garden. He was minutes away from taking out my poppies! Okay, they need to be divided after they bloom, but still!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Way We Were

Family negotiations are going on two fronts today, and my stomach is starting to hurt from the frustration and stress. Did we ever all get along, or was it just that the old dynamics precluded showing our frustrations and the intervening time has softened the memories?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Russians and other problems

Well, I have 20" done on the first wingtip for the Tree of Life Shawl (out of the 30" needed for each side). I have discovered that one ball of yarn will do 8" of wingtip, which means that I need 9 or 10 balls to finish both wingtips and the leading and trailing edges (to push the metaphor a little further) of the shawl. I have, in fact, 3 balls in stock, and the wonderful Jody of Hilton's Fiber Shop is holding the other 4 balls from the same bag for me - which means that I need to cough up another $30 for this shawl now, and more later. And Jody is going to put a rush order in for those last 2 or 3 balls, and says brightly that "maybe we'll get lucky and they'll be the same dye lot!" I kinda doubt it, but my story (and I'm sticking to it) is that the last 2 or 3 balls will be used for those top & bottom edges, and will only be adjacent to a little section of each wingtip before traveling across the variegated sections, so maybe a slight difference won't show? Please?

Also, I tried again to do this "Russian join" thing that several people have raved about. As I understand it, you fray the two ends a bit, twist them back together, spit on them, and then roll them between your hands until they magically felt together. I tried this the first time on the variegated section, and all I accomplished was to make the ends in question very dingy. So first lesson: read the label and understand that a Russian join is not going to work on superwash. Fast forward to the weekend, and I'm working on an overly limited amount of the yellow yarn and trying to avoid knots and save yarn. I try again, and although I don't read Italian I'm pretty sure that the little hand-in-the-box picture means "hand-wash only." This time I wash my hands carefully, and moisten the frayed ends of the yarn with tap water. I rub again, and something that might have been a felting process happened - so I proceeded hopefully with the knitting. But when that section dried, I noticed that it was distinctly dingy and not even convincingly felted!! (Sorry about the poor quality of the photo. But see that grey-looking stitch right at the base of that leaf in the center? I hate it. My eyes are drawn to it every time I look at the piece.)

I have some wool wash that I'd planned to use on the whole shawl, once assembled, and I'm hoping it will take the grey out. Otherwise, I am strongly considering snipping that length and re-threading the stitches with a length of replacement yarn, which is guaranteed to give me fits, may screw up the whole thing worse and definitely will result in two knots instead of the one I was trying to avoid!

Does anyone have any advice for me? I'm starting to think I should have used vodka instead of tap water.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I've had a low-level (but can't get rid of it) migraine for 24 hours now, and the sun is shining right at me unless I sit at a very awkward position in front of my computer. So instead of waxing philosophical - or even verbose - I'm just going to show you the pictures of Luc trying on his graduation robes. He is appalled by their design and color, and does not think tradition is a good enough reason to perpetuate this on another generation. But he's GRADUATING! (Who'd a thunk it, huh?)

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I'm still missing Louie, and the plush softness of his paws, and the way he would sit next to me on the couch, one paw draped across my ankle, while I knitted. He was a very good boy, and the other two cats just aren't as socially inclined (except at dinner time, of course).
But I took a walk in the sunshine yesterday, and the mellow warmth is still with me. I felt the sun on my face and listened to the wind rustle the grass, and noticed that one of the pines I planted has proudly sprouted its first cone. Sometimes, you've got to clear your mind, breath deep, and just open yourself up to the possibilities of the future.

You work with what you've got.