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)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Lagging Behind

When I worked as an IT (IT = Information Technology, meaning computers) professional in corporate America, backups were not only expected, they were mandatory. Usually mandated by law, but certainly mandated by good business practice.

Remember the shoemaker's son who went barefoot?

I've been muttering about backing up my laptop documents ever since I bought it nearly three years ago. Two months ago (good grief!) DH bought an external hard drive for me. I see it sitting on the floor under the table were I keep my laptop when it's not in my lap. The box has never been opened.

This is very stupid of me, and I wrote this to put myself to shame and maybe inspire some action. I need to open the box, at the very least. And then read the documentation (or not) and do some backing up.

Phone Service
When I called to order phone service as we moved into this house on a dirt road in the swampy woods fourteen years ago, Verizon told me I would need to go on a party line until a private line became available.

A party line in the 1990's? That was my first clue that there might be some disadvantages to rural living.

A party line, for those of you too young to remember, is a phone line shared by two or more households. Household A picks up the receiver to make a call and possibly hears Household B having a conversation. Household A can not make or receive phonecalls while Household B is using the phone. But Household A can listen to everything Household B says on the phone if they like.

My corporate America employer did not think a party line was acceptable for an employee that needed to be called during off hours, so they used their muscle to intervene and we did get a private line.

Verizon has improved phone service to this area since then, but not much. A few months ago DH picked up the receiver and heard people talking. He asked them who they were, and, although they were reluctant to tell him, they did tell him they were having a cell phone conversation.

We have no cable available, we have no DSL available, we have dialup. In dry weather with a lucky dial, we can hook up at 45.2 kbps tops. Lately it's been raining. When it's raining we are rarely able to top 38 kbps. We know the moisture gets into the Verizon equipment because sometimes it turns to ice and then we have no phone service at all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Knitted Bees and New Shell Stitch

Bees and faggoting on the border of the Violets by the River Shawl Pattern: Violets by the River Shawl by Hazel Carter

Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Silk Blend Lace weight, two-ply, 25% silk, 85% wool.

Yarn Color: Medium lilac

Needles: #6

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

It's done! That is, the knitting is done. The shawl still needs to be washed and blocked and worn. The washing and blocking is on my list of things to do tomorrow. The wearing will probably be Sunday, or maybe sooner if a nice cool day comes along and the shawl is dry.

This is a shot of the "bees" and faggoting along the upper border. They were fun to do. They're pretty cute pinned out and I expect them to be even cuter after blocking.

All the while I was knitting this shawl, I was wondering if I was going to want to wear it. Now that it's done, I can hardly wait to get it on.

There will be one more picture of the shawl later, blocked and on my shoulders.

New Shell stitch patternIn the Shetland Lace Workshop, our current assignment is to play around with five different stitch patterns. In our notes, they're presented as scarf patterns. I don't know if I'll end up with a whole scarf, or not.

This is the New Shell stitch knit in Lorna's Laces sock yarn, a fingering weight yarn, with US #7 needles. New Shell is a two row pattern, the simplest of the five.

The purpose of what we're doing with the five stitch patterns is to learn to "read" our knitting and play with different yarn and needles to see the results and learn what type of openness we prefer in our lace.

Teacher Liz recommends a US #10 needle with fingering yarn, but she understands that some of us just aren't ready for such loose fabric yet. We've been encouraged to start with a needle size we're comfortable with and then maybe later move up in needle size.

Sunday evening I started this swatch on US #10s, and wasn't enjoying the feeling at all. I frogged it. So I'm taking Liz's advice and using #7s for now. I have doubts that I'll ever be ready to knit fingering weight yarn on #10s, but I'm trying to stay open minded.

Now if you were a legalistic friend and wanted to hold me accountable to my Guidelines for Knitting Peace, you would ask, "Marguerite, when are you going to sew the Hanover jacket together? Wasn't that supposed to be done before you started the Violets by the River shawl?"

I would smile and ask you to please understand that I'm having fun playing with lace right now but I'm sure I'll be getting back to the Hanover jacket soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Let's Talk Lace

Want to See Some Pretty Lace?
First, go look at Dorothy's Madli Shawl.

I'm in awe of the beautiful things Dorothy knits. If you aren't a regular reader of Dorothy's blog, take time to look around at her perfectly executed projects in all types of yarn and all variety of patterns. There is something to inspire everyone. And her dogs are cute, too.

Then there's Deb's Shaped Triangle Shawl from Gathering of Lace. She not only knit it in linen, she knit it in black laceweight linen.

This post tells of her trials and ultimate success in making a gorgeous shawl and a huge wad of black lint.

Want to Knit Some Pretty Lace?
Between now and December the EZasPi Yahoo Group is having a Shetland Lace Workshop written and moderated by Liz Lovick.

EZasPi List Shepherd Elaine wrote the following invitation to everyone:
This is a free self paced workshop that is open to all levels of knitters. She will be placing files in the file section of the group which include information on everything from material selection, lace pattern choices and execution, charting, construction of traditional shawls and contemporary garments, history, and blocking and care of lace. You certainly may join in the conversation and sample knitting if you can stand the silliness and comraderie of the group. ;)

The Workshop starts September 24, 2005 but you may join the group anytime by going to EZasPi and clicking 'join' no registration is needed.

There will be a contest sometime during the workshop but no date is set yet. Hope to see you there!

The details of the contest haven't been announced because I don't think anyone knows what they are. Check out the donated contest prizes here.

If you think you don't know enough about knitting to do this workshop, read Elaine's encouragement here.

Tonight we got our first lesson followed by a pattern for five "straight forward" Old Shetland lace scarves arranged in order of difficulty.

It's not too late to join. We're just getting started.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Stormy Sky

Stormy September skySandy's Knitting blog is having a contest. The prize is some very pretty Lorna's Laces sock yarn.

To qualify, I need to post a picture of the sky before 5 pm EST.

If I don't write very much, I'm just going to make the cut off.

This picture was taken of the sky from my back yard yesterday afternoon as the storms rolled in over Lake Michigan and then fizzled out before they dropped much needed rain on us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Rows Keep Getting Longer

Violets by the River shawl about two-thirds donePattern: Violets by the River Shawl by Hazel Carter

Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Silk Blend Lace weight, two-ply, 25% silk, 85% wool

Yarn Color: Medium lilac

Needles: #6

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

The violets are done and I'm about half done with the "river" border. There are 300 stitches on the needle with 22 very long rows to go.

When the two river borders are bound off, there is a very cute border with lace bees to knit across the top edge. Then it's done.

This is an excellent first shawl project. The yarn is easy to knit: not too slippery, not too fine, not too fuzzy. The pattern is easy to follow while not being completely repetitive and boring.

I have never worn a shawl before. I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy wearing something that might slip off, that I have to keep track of and maybe even hang onto. My usual mode of dress is simple, pragmatic, and rather boring.

Is it worn in place of a sweater? If I wear it to church, do I leave it on for the service? Any helpful shawl wearing hints will be appreciated. I really don't have a clue.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Knitting Log for September 19

The five finished pieces of HanoverPattern: Hanover Jacket from Jean Frost Jackets

Yarn: Elegance, 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk DK weight from Knitpicks

Yarn Color: Barn red

Needles: #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

All five pieces are done! Plus the shoulder seams and the front border including the collar.

According to the pattern, the sleeves are best set in with chain stitch using a crochet hook. I'm willing to try, but it hasn't been done yet because I have a headache, a sore throat, and a double ear infection which probably explains why I was feeling cranky and unhappy for no obvious reason last week.

I'm using my illness as an excuse to procrastinate sewing in sleeves and side seams. There has to be something good about being sick.

Yes, I've been to the doctor and have wonderful, strong Rxs to take. I expect to be much better soon. Then I'll sew the Hanover together and block it.

Finished CIC sweater in teal LopiPattern: Made it up as I went along

Yarn: Reynold's Lopi, 100% wool

Needles: #10.5

Gauge: 3 stitches/inch, 4 rows/inch

This is an uncreative toddler size sweater for the September/October CIC vest and sweater challenge.

It may not be fancy, but it sure is going to be warm on some little kid.

Start of the Violets by the River ShawlPattern: Violets by the River Shawl by Hazel Carter

Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Silk Blend Lace weight, two-ply, 25% silk, 85% wool

Yarn Color: Medium lilac

Needles: #6

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

I've been knitting violets. What better to do when feeling half sick?

This is a super easy shawl. If I didn't like the looks of it so much, I'd be disappointed that I didn't challenge myself with something a little more difficult.

When this picture was taken yesterday noonish, 7 out of 18 rows of violets were done, or 28 violets out 171, or 16%.

After yesterday's knitting, 13 out of 18 rows of violets are done, or 91 violets out of 171, or 53%. Over half the violets are done now.

Does anyone else like to play with their numbers to keep track of where they are when knitting something like a shawl?

After going to the doctor today, I stopped by the library and checked out two books on CD with the intention of listening and knitting violets all day tomorrow.

If I were still employed, I wouldn't be sick enough to miss work. But I'm not employed and there is nothing so important to do that I can't baby myself through this miserable infection with knitting and napping.

Another errand done while in town to see the doctor was mailing off approximately two-thirds of my stash to the Restash Network. It's oh so liberating to have my yarn bins cleaned out and purged. And it feels so good to know my liberated stash is going to needy knitters who are going to knit with it.

Now I need to do the same type of purge on my book collection. Ouch! My head throbbed just thinking about it. Forget I said that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Yarn in the Mail

Eleven skeins of Knitpicks yarn that came in the mail today Exciting mail today - my latest Knitpicks order arrived.

The mail lady said she had the box with her yesterday but couldn't leave it because the delivery confirmation number was partially missing and wouldn't scan. She took it back to the post office and the Postmaster decided to make a manual note of the package so she could deliver it today.

I think she could tell by my stop-talking-and-let-me-get-this-package-in-the-house-and-open-it look that I agreed with the Postmaster's decision. What else could they do? Send it back to Knitpicks? Surely not.

Here is my first impression, pre-knitting review of what I received.

On the left, Decadence, a bulky weight 100% superfine alpaca. Color is Tide.

Oh so soft. It's silky feeling. I'm looking forward to knitting with it and, in the meantime, I can hardly stop touching it.

I bought three skeins, enough to knit a toddler size CIC sweater. Then, I think I need a decadent sweater for myself.

In the middle, Wool of the Andes, a worsted weight 100% Peruvian wool. Color is Violet.

Beautiful color. Nice yarn at a great price. I bought two skeins to try this yarn out for CIC socks. I may, or may not run some left over sock yarn along with it.

On the right, Sierra, a bulky weight 70% wool, 30% alpaca. Colors are Cinnamon and Pool.

Sierra is soft but without the silky feel of Decadence.

Alpaca is stronger, lighter, and warmer than wool, so Sierra may become my yarn of choice for CIC sweaters. The price is right. Now I need to see what it's like on the needles.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday Tidbits for September 15

Bees on the goldenrodBuzz in the Back
For the past several weeks there's been a buzz in the back field. This time of year the field is dominated by goldenrod, and each blossom has multiple bees collecting the goldenrod nectar and pollen.

There are bumblebees, honey bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets.

The goldenrod bloom is their last chance to collect food for the winter.

As the dogs and I walk down the mowed paths between the goldenrod, we brush against the plants that are leaning onto the path. The bees are so busy they don't even notice us.

Close up of bee on the goldenrodGathering the Gold
In this bee closeup, you can see the loaded, golden pollen sacs on the bee's legs.

The goldenrod pollen is very high quality and protein rich. It's also very sticky and easy to collect. It doesn't go airborne, which is why goldenrod is not responsible for fall allergies. It only gets blamed because it is so abundant and colorful.

Snap the Apple
The large snapping turtle came out of the pond, walked up the bank to the apple tree, grabbed an apple in its mouth, and ran back to the water.

It's one of the regrets of my summer that I didn't get a picture of that. Snapping turtles gathering apples are much quicker than I would have guessed.

Once the turtle was back in the pond, it let go of the apple. The apple floated on the water, and the turtle ate it from the bottom, under the water. Bob and I watched the apple bob around while the turtle was eating, amazed at what we were watching.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm Smiling Now!

Had a three hour lunch at Bravo with a good friend. We hadn't seen each other in two months and had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying each other's company. And eating, of course. We both had a delicious, tender steak covered with blue cheese sauce and artichokes. Heavenly.

Booked a trip to Idaho to visit Granddaughter Sydney and her wonderful parents. October 18 through October 25. Got a decent price on the tickets and, just as important and just as difficult to manage, only have one stop over each way. It's in Minneapolis, one of my favorite airports.

Booked a trip to Charolottesville, Virginia to have Thanksgiving with Sister Doris, Brother-in-Law John, Sister Carrie. Mom is traveling with me. We're actually going to a little town called Scottsville where Doris and John are just finishing the building of a beautiful house in the woods. They hope to have appliances before it's time to cook the holiday dinner. Or maybe we're eating out? I'm a little short on details, but I'm really looking forward to seeing my sisters again.

The yarn mess is sorted. My stash now only contains yarn I actually intend to knit someday. The rest will be off to the Restash Network as soon as I get a box big enough to hold all of it. A most excellent purge. So excellent that I now have room for my Knitpicks order which will be arriving any day now.

Once again there was no knitting today, but there are plans for knitting tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Trying To Smile

Unhappy faceI feel cranky and unhappy. Why? I don't have a good reason.

There are plans that aren't working out, the price of gas is way too high, summer is over, I don't feel as well as I would like, and the world isn't perfect. But that's life, and I don't normally react to it by getting cranky and unhappy.

At least I know it's a temporary mood without a cause. I can zip my lips and wait for it to pass.

With three dogs needing attention and walks, there's no going to bed and pulling the covers over my head. It's too hot to do that, anyway. We've been having daytime temps in the 90s, but it cools down beautifully at night.

Have you figured out yet I have no knitting to write about?

I've been working on the corner of the spare bedroom that holds my stash in bins. So much more there than I remembered. So unorganized. It didn't get done today, but hopefully tomorrow will see the finish of the sorting. There will be several large boxes going out to Restash Network coordinators.

The coordinators of the Restash Network are taking yarn and needles directly to the shelters and giving it to knitters who want it and will use it. Several are making up kits with yarn, pattern, and needles. What a great way to cull my stash without guilt while doing something for evacuee knitters.

The thought of making someone else happy makes sorting out piles of unorganized yarn almost enjoyable.

Happy face

Now I need to plaster a smile on my face and take Sunny to doggy school.

Good girl Marguerite!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hanover Update for September 9

Hanover jacket neckline and edging Pattern: Hanover Jacket from Jean Frost Jackets

Yarn: Elegance, 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk DK weight from Knitpicks

Yarn Color: Barn red

Needles: US #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

With the back and fronts knit, the first thing I did this week was to join the shoulder seams. Then I knit the collar and the edging.

The fronts and back are knit two inches longer than the pattern length. I prefer tops out over my waistband. The jacket pattern as written was going to require a tucked in blouse or shell.

It appears according to current day fashion, that it is acceptable and stylish to have under layers hanging out below upper layers. I'm not sure conservative grandma here knows how to pull off that look, so I'm going with the traditional jacket hanging over the shell or blouse look. The jacket is still pretty short, though, and I'm not sure it's going to work.

The first sleeve is a third done. Now to finish the sleeves, sew them in, sew up the side seams, and block.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Restash Network

A few days ago I received this email from my online friend Sharon, more widely known as Soxie.

Restash Network button

I have been glued to my TV since *Katrina* hit land, as I'm sure most of you have, watching heart broken at the aftermath of that devastating storm. It is difficult to think of much else seeing all that suffering and loss.

Yesterday, as the cameras panned over the crowds, I spotted a lady sitting amoung the debris, and it looked very much like she was knitting!! It struck me that even though she has, in all probability, lost everything, she had grabbed her knitting before hurrying to safety.

Then I wondered just how many knitters had the time to grab their knitting *stash*? And my thoughts hit on the fact that there must be thousands of knitters in that storm, who have lost not only their homes, but their STASH!!! Can you just imagine not being able to knit. Not being able to knit socks!!! :-(

There are so many ways we can help the storm victims. By sending money, food, clothing, personal hygene items, provide shelter, etc. But yarn?? Knitting materials??

So, that got me to thinking further, and I decided to do something about it. I want to help those knitters who may have lost their stash in this terrible storm.

Now I realize that this is NOT a priority. It's not even a life-saving endeavor. But I do know that as a knitter we find comfort in our knitting, and in order to knit, we need our *stash*.

In the days and weeks to come as folks begin to regain power, go back to their homes, access their email lists, we are going to hear their stories of loss.. When that happens, I'd like to be ready to help them replentish their *stash*.

I've created a list for this purpose. I'd like to invite you to join me in this endeavor. You can join the list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RestashNetwork or email me PRIVATELY at: soxie@harborside.com for more details.

Thank you everyeone for listening. Knitting Hugs to you all.
Soxie ;-)

By now most of us have given to help with basic needs of the people displaced by Katrina, but here is a little something extra we can do for our fellow knitters.

Soxie's project has progressed into two efforts. Right now there are list members collecting and delivering to storm shelters. For the future when knitters start going back to their homes - or finding new homes - other list members will be helping them rebuild their stash and knitting supplies.

For more information check out Soxie's Restash Network Website.

If you want to be in the thick of this project or volunteer to do more than send yarn, join the Restash Network Yahoo Group.

If you want to send yarn and/or knitting supplies to a distribution volunteer, there's a list of addresses on Soxie's Restash Network Website.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sunny Shines at the Vet's Office

Close up of Sunny looking backwardWhy are you sticking that pan under my butt every time I squat to pee?

Sunny went in for blood and urine rechecks today. The news was good, but not excellent.

After two weeks of antibiotics, her white cell count is back in the normal range.

Dr. B. is still concerned about her urine being too dilute. He would like to measure her water intake over a 24 hour period. To do that, we would need to keep her separated from the other dogs. Not an easy thing to do. My guess is that she would be so upset at being kept away from the heart of the family the results of the measuring would be meaningless.

Since her blood work is all normal now, meaning no kidney problems or diabetes, we're not doing it unless she starts leaking again.

The incontinence problem that started all this testing has been resolved with 1 mg of estrogen a week. If she starts "leaking" again, we will address the dilute urine problem in more detail.

The first time I had to do a doggy urine collection, I had no idea how to go about it.

This sneaky method works with Sunny:

  1. Use a shallow pie plate shaped pan. It's better if it's plastic because pee hitting a metal pan makes a startling noise and the dog jumps. I have a Glad plastic plate to use for doggy urine collection.

  2. Take the dog out on a short leash.

  3. Wait until she squats and just starts to pee. Then, slide the edge of the plate under her back legs as far as possible without bumping her legs.

  4. Careful not to spill the urine before you get it poured into a taller container. It's nice to have help. When I don't have help I set the plate down, take the dog into the house, and then go back out to get the sample.

Vets don't need very much, so if you don't get the entire catch it's OK.

I've never done a collection on a male dog. That would require some different planning.

The best plan is to tell your dog to stay healthy so you never have to do it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Dog Ears

It's Pappy's night at doggy school. We're standing in line waiting our turn to do a long distance drop on recall. I was half watching the working dog and half looking at Grayson, the beautiful Australian Shepherd in line ahead of us.

"Grayson looks handsome tonight. Looks like his ear finally went up," I remarked.

"Prick ears," his owner answered with a voice so disgusted she might have been saying "dog vomit."

That got my attention. "Huh?" It was beginning to register that I'd said something stupid and probably offensive.

"They're called prick ears. They're a severe fault in the breed. He didn't get them from his father, they came from his mother."

I looked across the room where Grayson's father, Casey, was training. I've know Casey for three years now and his ears are breed standard, breaking forward and over. Whatever was I thinking? Even more important, what do I say next?

Grayson's owner is a kind lady. She gave me an out by saying, "Lots of people like the erect ears."

I still felt very sorry for mentioning Grayson's ears. Ears can be a very sensitive topic for dog owners.

Pappy the PapillonMy little Papillon rescue dog Pappy has one ear that hangs because the cartilage is broken, either from abuse or an accident. I'm forever having well intending people tell me how cute it is that one ear is up and the other down.

I never know how to respond to that compliment. While I don't give a hoot about meeting Pappy's breed standard, I do care that one of his ears was so badly injured. The fallen ear will never be cute to me because of the pain it represents, but it is endearing.

I'm going to start answering that way: "It is endearing." Much better than trying to splutter thanks for something I wish wasn't true.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let's Play Turtle

Sunny and her toy turtleNothing gets Sunny's adrenaline pumping quicker than a squeak from her toy turtle.

She hops, skips, and levitates at the sight of it. She goes completely bonkers at the sound of it.

She loves playing turtle fetch, she loves playing turtle tug, and she loves playing turtle catch. She is obsessed with shaking it hard enough to kill it.

Sunny with her toy turtle in her mouthShe's hard on turtles.

Until now, I've always kept at least one spare hidden away. The store that has carried turtles for four years no longer has them. I can't find them on the internet. This one is looking a little ratty and the squeaker is not working.

What am I going to do? How can I explain this to Sunny? Help!

Close up of Sunnys last toy turtleSeriously now, if anyone knows where I can get one (or a hundred) of these things, please let me know.

It's a Krislin Latex Dog Toy, 50-094.

A Google search for Krislin shows a few recalls and a few boycotts because they're made in China.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Knitting Log for September 1

Unblocked left front of Hanover jacketFinished the left front of the Hanover Jacket on Monday. The right front is about an inch past the leaf motif. I had truly forgotten how quickly a sweater can be knit if the sweater is the only project I'm working on.

More and more I'm enjoying working under the Guidelines for Knitting Peace. It's easy to sit down and knit a few rows when I can remember where I am in the project.

There is one drawback to limiting myself to one project. How do I keep this blog interesting when I'm knitting a rather boring jacket where the only area of interest, the leaf motif, is the same on the back, both fronts, and both sleeves?

On the other hand, how interesting is it to have knitting projects take six months (or more) to finish because I'm knitting on so many things that nothing is getting done?

Medium lilac lace weight wool silk yarn from Blackberry Ridge Yarn in the mail today. The ultimate test of my Guidelines for Knitting Peace intentions.

This is lace weight, two-ply, 25% silk, 85% wool in medium lilac from Blackberry Ridge.

The color is lighter and the yarn is heavier and less silky than I expected.

At first I was disappointed. After looking at it and feeling it for a few hours now, I think like it. The lighter color is pretty. The heavier yarn (it almost looks like fingering weight) and sticky, wooly texture is going to be easy to knit for my first lace shawl.

The resulting shawl will be practical and warm. Hopefully it will also be beautiful.

I'm looking forward to this knit. Will it be my next project, or will I knit a pair of socks in between the Hanover Jacket and the Violets by the River Shawl? Or, will I finish the The Unplanned Scarf so I really will be down to one project plus CIC knitting? Oh the suspense.