Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Little Distraction

Last night my knitting group took a field trip down to the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg. I did accomplish a bit of actual knitting, since someone else was kind enough to drive the car pool. But the main event of the night was oohing and aahing over the beautiful items on display, and diving into their clearance bin. Yes, even museums have a clearance bin, and when it's a museum of fiber arts which is supported largely by donations, they have a generous sale bin of donated remainders and left-overs from other people's projects. I walked away with 6 skeins of well-aged wool in a burnt orange color for only $5.00, and 2 and a half skeins of a beautiful aurora-colored yarn which has been forgiven for its acrylic origins. Toss in the price of admission, and I still got out of there for less than ten bucks.

This morning, I woke to hazy thoughts about knitting up that orange wool with a length of garden twine (of all things), then felting it down for a nice sturdy bag. I could get the leather lady to add handles for almost nothing, and it would be just the thing to take to Arizona. So somehow, before I was even fully awake, I was digging through my stash and organizing my thoughts around a plan for shaping the bottom of the bag.

I was NOT fully awake, though - at least that's the only explanation I came come up with for the fact that I spent several hours to make this:

It's not orange, or sized for a market bag of any proportions. It's the blue wool from last Fall's Common Ground Fair, combined with an assortment of scraps from my stash in a ballband pattern. I'd dreaming of a lining from the remains of that blue painted silk, and I have the idea that a blue leather strap would be nice. I'd probably still be sitting on the couch, mesmerized by the unfolding colors of it, if I hadn't run out of the sock yarn being used for reinforcement. I think it will be a nice, roomy purse after felting, and I'm debating between a zipper closing and a short-row round flap with magnetic clasp. But I have no business working on it, because it is not on my priority list and is not due in 10 days (while other things are). I claim temporary insanity.

And last night I stayed up past midnight watching Transporter 3 - it probably says something about my own age when I have issues with the age of the female lead compared to Jason Statham - and working on the Extreme Brown shrug.

I'm past the neck opening and the second shoulder, and will shortly be moving down the second arm. I probably would be finished with said arm and working on the front edges if it weren't for a certain whim involving blue wool.

Addiction is not a pretty thing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Funeral for Aunt Mary

Uncle Bill is Grandma's little brother; a barrel-chested octogenarian farm boy who always has a joke on his lips and a prayer in his heart. He stands out on that side of the family as the class clown, and even those distant family members who haven't visited much will immediately recall him. And by his side for the last 62 years has been Aunt Mary, a reticent little woman with a soft smile. My aunt says she remembers back when they were courting, when Aunt Mary would sit on Uncle Bill's lap and he would make her giggle. My impression has been that her memory was failing over the last few years, but she would always sit quietly at family gatherings and gaze fondly at Uncle Bill while the group swirled around him.

Last Tuesday, the pair were at their retirement home in Florida. They got up together as usual, had breakfast and morning devotions together as always. Afterwards, Aunt Mary left the table for her regular morning nap. Uncle Bill heard a crash in the kitchen, where it appears that she had a massive stroke and passed away quickly. He brought her body back to Michigan and buried her in the cemetery where so many of my relatives are laid to rest, near a headstone already carved with both their names and birth years.

Some spouses can't make the switch to single life after such a long marriage, and quickly wither away. But I think Uncle Bill will be okay; he was able to laugh and joke a bit at the funeral, after acknowledging it it had been "her time." He even winked at me once, when he caught me snapping his picture on the sly.

Some deaths are tragedies. Aunt Mary is buried near her granddaughter Tabitha, who was killed in a car accident while still in her teens. But Aunt Mary left behind a legacy of a strong marriage, children who grew into kind and loving adults, and the unshakable faith she shared with her husband. The last hymn at the funeral was "God Be With You Until We Meet Again."

Fare thee well, Aunt Mary. You were a model for us all.

New Challenge

Believe it or not, I finally finished the last leaf of the last border for the Anniversary Shawl. Not much to show - just another heap of yellow leaves, waiting to be crocheted together by Tammy. But it means that my part of this project is officially over, and I'll be delivering those final components to Tammy on Wednesday. The next picture you see of that project will be it's final form. (Only 13 months or so late.) I can't tell you how great it is to get that off my plate!!!

Next up: something to wear to the wedding in Arizona in 11 days. Option 1: brown knit tank dress with a shrug fashioned from some lightly aged Yarn Bee "Soft Delight" from my stash in a colorway called Extreme Brown. I'm using a pattern loosely adapted from the Whisper Cardigan in the Spring 2009 edition of Interweave Knits, and will possibly have it done in time for a trial run this weekend. I used to be a big fan of this yarn, although I think I've gotten over it to some extent. In any case, it's soft and fluffy, but I'm not sure I need fat stripes of color running horizontally across my arms and I'm worried that the whole thing will be too warm for an Arizona April. .

I came across Option 2 while making a completely unauthorized stop over the weekend at that little yarn store in Benton Harbor, Ivelise's. They had Olympic by Artful Yarns in the clearance bins in a reddish-coral colorway that will work perfectly with my cranberry sleeveless dress. I was planning to do the long stitch wrap from Lacy Little Knits - but that calls for over a thousand yards of yarn, and Ivelise's only had 4 skeins of the stuff (at 118 yards a skein). A shame, because I really think that pattern is striking. And I really need something which does not require me to clasp or constantly adjust it, because I expect to be busy with my camera much of the time.
I checked in with my buddies on the Knitlist and got some alternate suggestions, but none of them seem quite right yet:

  • the "jackshawl" from the Oct. 08 issue of Knit n Style
  • Jessica's drop-stitch shrug (
  • something based on the shrug from A Gathering of Lace
  • a shrug from one of the one skein books.


I'll keep looking. I've got a week before I fly out, plus all that flying time. If nothing else seems right, I'll just cast on enough stitches with big needles to make an appropriate width, then knit what yardage I've got using something like a size 17 and a size 7 needle, then just seam up a bit to make arms. Not exactly elegant construction, but it would do in a pinch.