Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sleeves and Gray Sky

Aguave sleeve partially donePattern: Aguave by Katherine Hunt in Summer 2005 Knitter's

Yarn: Knitpicks Shine, 60% pima cotton, 40% model

Color: River

Needles: Addi Turbo #4

Gauge: 24 stitches/4 inches in SS after washing

Why is it that sleeves seem to take the longest to knit even though they're not as big as the back or the front?

Why is it that sleeves eat up so much yarn? The more concerned I am about having enough yarn, the quicker the sleeves eat it up.

Each time I look at this sleeve, I brace myself in case I find an error. I do not want to frog it. I want it to be done. Why? So I can knit another one just like it.

In an attempt to not knit my sleeves too long, I've knit my sleeves a little short on the last few sweaters completed. For the Aguave, the err needs to be on the long side. Aguave sleeves would not look good with my wrists hanging out. In fact, the sleeves need to hang down over my hands a little. Guess I won't be doing dishes in this sweater.

Gloomy front yardIt's January in Michigan. This is the time of year I should be wowing you with pictures of huge snow drifts and beautiful snow covered trees and bushes. Instead, we have this.

The little snow we've had melts because the ground isn't frozen and the daytime temps are above freezing. Over the weekend, the temps were in the 50s (F). Completely weird.

Last week I saw a pair of bluebirds sitting on a nestbox. They aren't even supposed to be in Michigan in January.

It will be interesting to see what the rest of the winter is like. That is if you can call this winter. It's not like any winter I've ever seen before.

Update on Glory for Those Who Care
Glory had her tube removed on Saturday. Two vets looked at it, and I could tell they didn't really want to take it out, but they didn't want to leave it in anymore either.

They reasoned that the ear had grown together as much as possible with the tube still in, and that the tube had to come out for more healing to occur. They didn't give me confidence that everything was going to be OK, but so far everything is OK.

Each day I'm a little more optimistic that it's going to heal without any more surgery.

Isn't this where I knock on wood?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Miscellany

Eris - Future Project
After spotting Eris on Close to my Heart, I bought the pattern and officially inserted it in my queue to be knit. But not to be started until a few other projects are completely finished.

The pattern spoke to me because -
  1. I'm completely intrigued with the way the cables work with the simple stockinette stitch. It looks like it will be a challenge.
  2. It's the type of garment I wear often.
  3. I can pick out another of those luscious Elann colors and buy more yarn.
  4. It's going to make me work on a knitting problem that's been nagging at me for years. In back and forth knitting I get ridges because my knit stitches and purl stitches are not the same gauge. I plan to do plenty of swatching and come up with a solution to this problem before starting Eris.

Not Too Late to Join FLAK
FLAK is different from a regular knitalong. It's much more than a pattern, it's a tutorial on knitting an Aran, one piece, top down, that fits your exact measurements.

We're getting bi-weekly lessons from Janet where she spells out each sweater step in detail. So far we're only on Part 4, the top of the back. Janet is spacing the lessons about two weeks apart.

Still plenty of time to join and catch up if you really want to do it. The lessons are on Janet's web site. You don't need to join the Yahoo group to see/print the tutorials.

Comments on Church
In response to the comments and email feedback on why people don't go to church, I completely understand how believers and potential believers get turned off by the actions of organized Christianity in this country. And especially some of the obnoxiously visible men who aggressively step forward to represent Christianity in the news.

I think the Lord has a special place in hell for those who use His name to their benefit and don't have Him in their hearts.

I went to dozens of churches before landing in the church where I am now. It's far from perfect, but there are many people there who love the Lord. I use it as a base for worship and learning, but I have never joined because of their attitude about some issues I feel strongly about.

It's a fallen world. We need to remember not to neglect our relationship with the Lord just because there is no perfect church.

Off my soapbox now. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Done with Top of FLAK Back

FLAK back knit to the bottom of the arm hole openingPattern: Follow the Leader Aran by Janet Szabo

Yarn: Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool

Color: Antique Rose

Needles: US #5

Gauge: 22 stitches/4 inches in Moss Stitch

Tonight I'm celebrating the completion of Part 4 of FLAK.

The way my measurements and calculations turned out, I had no room at the sides for filler stitch. In fact, I had an extra half inch of cables.

Janet's instructions suggested eliminating some cables if we had too many. With only being a half inch over and not wanting to eliminate any of the beautiful cables, I recalculated the sweater to make it a half inch larger across the back.

After adding a quarter inch to each saddle, the entire set of cables fit fine. And FLAK is going to fit fine, also. I have sweaters with the same measurement as the new, larger FLAK and they're very comfy.

There must be some strange psychology with Janet releasing the pattern in installments. Everytime I finish an installment, it feels like a finished object.

Now I'm looking forward to working on a few other things until Part 5 is published. If it takes another week or two before we get Part 5, that will be fine with me.

Update on Glory for Those Who Care
Glory, our 66 pound lab mix, had surgery on an ear hematoma almost 3+ weeks ago.

She still has the tube in but the drainage has decreased to almost nothing. She has an appointment Saturday morning to see if the tube can be removed.

Since I am the designated doggy nurse and the tube needs to be cleaned several times a day, no one - except maybe Glory - wants that tube out more than me. However, I want the vet to be over cautious not to remove it prematurely. We do not want the ear to swell up again and require more surgery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

B is for Bible . . .

ABC Along Button

My Bible open and showing notes in margin
Yes, I write in my Bible.

Maybe, since I don't usually mention my faith on Stitches of Violet, I should back up and start this post again -

Yes, I do have a well used Bible. And, I write in it.

I believe the Bible is God's message to me about His nature, His Son, His love, and what I'm supposed to be doing and learning during this lifetime. The more I read it and study it, the more I love it and believe it is the Word of God.

I've been studying the Bible for eleven years now, and have come to the opinion that none of the religious sects and denominations have the total picture. This makes it very difficult to join a church or join a Bible class where they think they know all the answers. I do it, thought, because it helps my study of the Bible to hear others talk about it. I respect my groups by being quiet about the places I disagree.

My Bible bag
I've been attending a Bible Church for eleven years. I've done five years of Bible Study Fellowship and two years of Community Bible Study. All three are non-denominational in-depth Bible study organizations where you bring your own Bible.

This is my Bible case. It has pockets inside to hold my Bible in place and a good strong exterior to protect it from the elements. In the midwest there are many Bible toters and most of us use a case. I've had this one for eleven years. It's aging well and I have no plans to replace it.

My Bible needs to last the rest of my earthly life, because I don't want to give it up. I love turning to a passage and finding notes and thoughts that I wrote five or ten years ago.

Some of my very favorite passages are left completely unmarked. They speak to me in different ways and I want them to be fresh every time I visit them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mindless, Dreamcatching Socks

Dreamcatcher socks in progressPattern: Basic 56 Stitch Sock

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Dreamcatcher 1235

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Shortly after writing last Wednesday's post, I split the prize Opal into two balls and cast on socks. For me.

I like my socks snug, knit on 56 stitches for my thin ankles and feet. The rest of my sock recipients need 64 stitch socks, so once the socks were started they had to be for me.

Son John said he liked the colors. He will get his March birthday socks in the same colors, except they will be Opal Magic, not Dreamcatcher.

It's been nice to knit on something mindless, but that all ends tomorrow when the next installment of the Follow the Leader Aran project is posted. I love these breaks we're getting between FLAK installments. They keep my enthusiasm going for the project. Of course, we haven't knit a substantial piece of the sweater yet. Just two swatches and two saddles. There hasn't been much reason to tire of the project yet.

Aguave needs some sewing together and blocking before I knit the sleeves. And yes, Hanover still needs to be sewn together.

The Hanover pattern says to crochet the pieces together with a chain stitch. Since, for once, I followed the pattern exactly, I hate to break rank in the last step of the project. I have my doubts about the chain stitch construction, though. On the other hand, it should be easy to rip out chain stitch if it doesn't look right.

Inspire me! What is your favorite stitch for sewing in knitted sleeves?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

We keep getting older and we are not amused.I've never understood why most people are hesitant to tell their age. How old we are is an important attribute of who we are.

Today is my 61st birthday. That means I am starting my 62ed year of life.

It's important for me to say that, to accept that, and to plan the rest of my life with that in mind.

As for the picture, it makes me laugh. Here's hoping it gives you a chuckle, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Free Yarn and ABC Thoughts

Opal Dreamcatcher won on Opal Chatters NewsletterLook what I got in the mail today! Opal Dreamcatcher 1235, beautiful blues.

This is my prize yarn for having Stitches of Violet mentioned in the new Opal Chatters Newsletter. Is that a good deal or what?

I'm ready to cast on a pair of socks as soon as I figure out who will be wearing them. It's time to start John's birthday socks if they're going to get done by March 18. Gail, the dog trainer, has a birthday the same day and I'd like to have a pair of socks done for her, also.

But my birthday is Friday and I forgot to knit birthday socks for myself. How did that happen? Next year my birthday is going on the sock knitting schedule with the rest of the birthday sock recipients.

Time to go Opal stash diving, pick out yarn for the three of us and cast on some socks.

ABC Along ButtonI've been giving some thought to topics for the ABC Along, the 2006 meme where we post a biweekly picture with the subject starting with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. 26 letters, 26 picture posts.

For my ABC Along picture posts I'm going to use the following guidelines, exceptions allowed if I feel like it.
  • No knitting topics.
  • Find topics I don't normally blog about.
  • No people's names. I already made an exception to this guideline when I posted A is for Anne . . . the first two weeks. It was Anne's birthday and I felt like it.

Anne and Sydney Anne in the snowAnd here is Anne again, out in the Idaho snow with nine month old Sydney Anne.

Complete story on Tah Tales.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CIC Socks

CIC SocksPattern: Basketweave ribbing

Yarn: Cascade 220

Color: Violet (actual color name unknown)

Needles: Clover bamboo #5

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

One of my goals for today was to finish the last pair of CIC socks for the challenge and wash the six pair I made so they will be dry by Sunday. And I did.

My knitting friend and I both knit for CIC. We take turns packing the box and hauling it to the post office, and it's her turn. We attend church together, so I'll be delivering my socks to her on Sunday in the church parking lot.

Are You In Charlotte, NC?
Speaking of church, our senior pastor of ten years is leaving to pastor at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We have a large church for Kalamazoo, but Dr. Munro's new church is over twice as large with a sanctuary that seats 5,000.

While it's great that the Lord has given him this opportunity to reach and teach so many people, I'm going to miss his Sunday morning messages. He gets more teaching and meat into a sermon than any preacher I've ever heard before. Plus he's got a cool Scottish accent.

If you're in his new city, know that you're getting the best in Dr. Munro.

Monday, January 16, 2006

FLAK Saddles and Aguave Front

Shoulder saddles for FLAKPattern: Follow the Leader Aran by Janet Szabo

Yarn: Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool

Color: Antique Rose

Needles: US #5

Gauge: 22 stitches/4 inches in Moss Stitch

Janet Szabo posted part three of the Follow the Leader Aran Saturday, the saddle shoulders.

These two little pieces of knitting will go from neckline to shoulder and are the base for the seamless knitting of the sweater. The front of the sweater will be knit downward from the front of the saddles. The back of the sweater will be knit downward from the back of the saddles. The sleeves will be knit downward from the stitches on the stitch holders. The neck ribbing will be picked up from the cast on edge of the saddles.

First, using our own measurements and desired neck width, we calculated the saddle length needed for our personal fit. Then we cast on 20 stitches and knit to the calculated length. My saddles are 3.75 inches long and about 2.5 inches wide.

When I've previously knit cabled sweaters, I tired of the cables way before being done with the sweater. Doing the FLAK with one lesson every two weeks, I find that I'm looking forward to the next installment and can hardly wait to knit more cables. I'll reserve judgment until the sweater is complete, but it appears the FLAK is going to provide a lesson in project pacing for pleasurable knitting.

Aguave front finished but not blockedPattern: Aguave by Katherine Hunt in Summer 2005 Knitter's

Yarn: Knitpicks Shine, 60% pima cotton, 40% model

Color: River

Needles: Addi Turbo #4

Gauge: 24 stitches/4 inches in SS after washing

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain as long as I know the source is non-critical. After having a molar pulled Thursday, I stashed the Vicodin in a drawer and started taking Tylenol so I could think to knit.

With a fun audio book for distraction from the painful, swollen jaw, I finished the front of Aguave on Saturday evening.

Next, I need to block the front and back and sew them together at the shoulders so I can see how long the sleeves need to be.

Aguave from Summer 2005 Knitter'sThe sleeves on the model are just the right length to drag in my food and get in the way of whatever else I want to be doing.

I have short arms and I prefer my sleeves to be wrist length, which means I'm going to have to measure carefully and recalculate the sleeve increases. To add to the challenge, this yarn has a different gauge when washed, so I'll be calculating with the washed gauge.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Questions and Comments

Dene asked . . .
Did you find knots in your Highland wool? I wound 7 skeins yesterday and found knots in all but one skein. 2 skeins had 2 knots each!

No knots yet in the almost two skeins I've used swatching.

I've been knitting straight from the skein as purchased, so I can't say how many knots there might be in the rest of the yarn.

Fran asked . . .
Do you think we will be able to do the cables down the sides instead of the middle? I like the basket weave section for the middle myself.

I seriously considered putting the basketweave cable down the center of my FLAK.

If I recall correctly, Janet said the basketweave was going down each of the sleeves. I'm going to cede to her design expertise and assume that a matching basketweave down each side is going to look great with the sleeves.

I'm treating FLAK as my Aran Knitting 101 class and plan to make as few changes to Janet's design as possible so I don't get in over my head.

Not that my plans should stop you, Fran. I'd love to see what the sweater looks like with the basketweave down the front. Go for it!

In response to my major frogging session, DJ asked . . .
Could it be the weather? or the phase of the moon? or who knows what?
The weather is a good scapegoat and phase of the moon always works well, also. When we have an evening in doggy school where all the dogs act flaky, we always blame it on one of those two things. Makes sense that knitting and dogs react the same to outside influences. Right?

I had a molar pulled out of my head with a crowbar extracted yesterday, so I'm lazing around in sweats and knitting today while the swelling recedes. As of this minute, the Aguave front is back to the exact row where I started frogging on Tuesday. Onward to the armholes and neckline!

I chose oral surgery with Novocain instead of a general anesthetic so I could come home and knit. Can you top that for knitting dedication?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lost Weekend

Last Friday Norton Internet Security, my virus protection and firewall, updated my laptop. It looked like a routine update, but afterward I couldn't pull my email and my laptop hung up so severely that I couldn't shut it down without using the power button.

At first I didn't know the problem was Norton, so I spend hours trying this and trying that and rebooting dozens of times. Finally, when I shut off the firewall, I was able to pull email - one time only, and then everything was hung up and I had to reboot.

I couldn't find anything about this problem on the Norton web site and wasn't sure what to do next. Afraid to rush into something while upset, I did one more forced shutdown and went to knit on the front of Aguave.

Thinking that Norton might discover the problem and send out a fix, I just stayed off my laptop all day Saturday and knit. I knit for hours and hours listening to a book on CD. By the end of the day my hands hurt, my arms hurt, and my shoulders hurt but I was happy to be almost done with the front.

The fix did NOT come from Norton. Sunday afternoon DH found the problem being discussed in an online newsgroup and the solution was: Restore the default General and Trojan horse firewall rules.

Detailed instructions for this procedure are here. I hope you don't need them.

I followed the restore procedure. My laptop is functional again. I would hate to know how many hours were spent finding and fixing that nasty software glitch. At least it wasn't my hardware gone bad again.

Since I knit so much on Saturday, I needed to take a few days off. When I picked up the Aguave front on Tuesday, I noticed immediately that I had done the stitch pattern on the edges backward. The right side edge was on the left side and the left side edge was on the right side.

I frogged it. Yes, I frogged fourteen inches of the front. So, instead of starting armhole shaping on Tuesday, I cast on the front and started over again. (Frog = rip it, rip it!)

One of my favorite knitting books is Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. Maggie says "Admire your work often."

If my subconscious hadn't been busy trying to figure out how to fix my laptop, and if my conscious hadn't been busy listening to a great story on CD, I might have taken that advice and seen the mistake before repeating it for six hours and fourteen inches.

Glory Update for Those Who Care
Glory had her one week check up last night. Dr. B. expressed amazement at the amount of fluid she is producing, but assured me the ear is starting to heal. It's just going to take a while.

He guessed about two more weeks of draining and then he can remove the tube. I'm to make the appointment after she has been dry for three days. The staples holding the skin to the cartilage come out a week after the tube.

Meanwhile, Glory seems to be happy and feeling fine. She's off the sedative as of today, but I have plenty left if she starts shaking her head or pawing at her ear or rolling in the mud.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A is for Anne . . . .

ABC Along Button

Anne and Sydney Anne taken August, 2005. . . and Anne is my wonderful daughter-in-law, wife of Son John, and mother of Sydney Anne. This picture was taken in August when Sydney Anne was four months old.

When my son was a very young man, approximately 20, he moved to Las Vegas to find work in the hotel industry. He did.

For over five years his sister quizzed him, "Are you seeing anyone yet?" "Have you found someone yet?" The answer was always, "No". Then one day we were surprised and excited to hear that he was bringing someone to Michigan to meet the family. Mother (me) started holding her breath at that news and could hardly wait to meet the "someone" he had found.

It was almost ten years ago that their plane landed and John stepped out with a beautiful, smiling, tall girl named Anne. I exhaled. Son had taken his time and chosen well.

Daughter Heather and I had a private giggling session where we said things like "She's just perfect for him!" and "Isn't she wonderful?"

Now, ten years later, John and Anne have been married for almost seven years. We still think Anne is perfect for him and we know for sure she is wonderful.

Happy Birthday Anne!

Friday, January 06, 2006

FLAK Cable Swatch

FLAK Cable Swatch

Pattern: Follow the Leader Aran by Janet Szabo
Yarn: Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool
Color: Antique Rose
Needles: US #5
Gauge: 22 stitches/4 inches in Moss Stitch

Step Two in the Follow the Leader Aran Knitalong was to cast on 100 stitches and knit a large swatch with the cables we'll be using on the sweater.

Here is my swatch, washed and blocked. I'm ready to start the real thing as soon as Janet posts the next installment. At least I'm assuming we're ready for the real sweater now.

The three horseshoe cables in the middle of the swatch will go down the center of the sweater. The set of five cables on the right hand side of the swatch will appear on each side of the center cables. The remaining areas of the sweater will be knit in the moss stitch you see on the left side of the swatch.

The idea of cabling without a cable needle appealed to me, so that is how I did the first half of the swatch. By the time I had crammed those crossed stitches tightly back on my left hand needle for the umpteenth time, my hands hurt and I decided a small diameter cable needle wasn't such a bad idea after all.

For now, I'm using a three inch double point, size 0. Dorothy uses a U shaped cable needle. Since I know she knits beautiful cables and lots of them, I'm going to give that a try as soon as I acquire one.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Six Foot High and Rising

Creek over the banksIn Michigan we expect January to be frozen and snowy. Instead, I'm beginning to wish I was married to Noah.

Every day and night it rains. When it's not raining, it's drizzling and misting. Our creek is the highest it's been in the fifteen years we've lived here. Maybe that's because the ground is frozen and the water can't seep in. Or maybe it's because there were huge piles of snow melting to provide extra water to go with the water that keeps falling from the sky. Probably some of both.

On a normal day, a limber person (not me) could jump over the creek. Today it was about twelve feet wide, running fast. Fortunately our house is way up from the creek. In fact, there is a spring fed pond between the house and the creek. If the creek overflows its banks, it will flow into the pond, so we're well protected from flooding. For now. Unless this never stops.

Someone who lives far away from here, please assure me that there still is a sun?

Glory Update
Glory came home late this afternoon. Everyone, human and canine, was happy to see her. She was happy to be home. Now she can rest up, drain, and recover. It's going to take about a month before the tube comes out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Aguave Back Finished

Complete back of Aguave in Knitpicks ShinePattern: Aguave by Katherine Hunt in Summer 2005 Knitter's

Yarn: Knitpicks Shine, 60% pima cotton, 40% model

Color: River

Needles: Addi Turbo #4

Gauge: 24 stitches/4 inches in SS after washing

The back was finished Sunday. I've been waiting for enough daylight to get a non-flash picture. It's been very dark around here lately.

The front is barely started as I have switched my knitting attentions to the cable swatch for the Follow the Leader Aran Knitalong.

The pins you see are in place to count rows. They're not coming out until the front is knit with the identical row count.

This is a fun pattern to knit and so far I'm pleased with the yarn. Final yarn verdict after I've worn the sweater and it holds or doesn't hold it's shape. As things stand today, I'm thinking of other things I want to knit with Knitpicks Shine.

Aguave pattern from Knitters magazineThis isn't a popular pattern. In fact, I haven't see anyone else in blogland knit it. Assuming most of you have no idea what Aguave looks like, I'm re-posting Knitter's picture of the finished garment.

My back looks a little squatty compared to the Knitter's picture. I'm knitting to the after-washed gauge, so I think it's going to be OK.

Quick Update on Glory
Glory had her surgery this morning and it went well. She is spending the night at the vet clinic under sedation and pain meds. We miss her.

We're hoping to pick her up tomorrow, but if Dr. Vet thinks she should stay longer, that's OK. All the people who work there are kind and love animals. We trust them to take good care of her. But, did I mention we miss her?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dreary Days

Just before the thunder and hail stormI'm trying to remember last time we saw the sun here in SW Michigan. It was before Christmas and surely we're about due for some rays.

It wasn't a white Christmas. In fact, when I took the dogs out for their Christmas morning walk it was raining and we got soaked.

This picture was taken about three this afternoon, just before the thunder started.

By the time we got in the car to take Glory to her vet appointment, it was pouring rain. Before we reached our destination, it was pouring little hail stones. At least they weren't big enough to dent the car, but they did turn everything white. Then the precipitation changed back to rain and the hail all melted.

Glory has an ear hematoma that is hot, swollen, and painful. She doesn't feel well at all. And the poor girl is afraid of thunder, which was loud and plentiful.

The vet appointment was so quick we didn't even have to go into the examining room. One look at her ear and she got scheduled for surgery in the morning.

For those who are concerned: Glory has seen the vet for this hematoma before. She does not have ear mites or an ear infection. She probably broke her ear by banging it on something when shaking her head. There was a good chance it was going to heal with no treatment, so we were watching it. This morning it waved back at us.

ABC Along ButtonHow The West Was Spun came up with new type of meme. At least I've never seen one like this before. It's the ABC Along!

Every two weeks in 2006 we are to photograph and post a picture of something starting with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. 26 letters, 52 weeks. Isn't that convenient?

So, sometime before January 14 there will be a post titled A Is For . . ..

I think it sounds like fun. It doesn't take much to excite Michiganders who haven't seen the sun in weeks.