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)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

End of Summer Lament

It's a busy but boring week. My brain seems to be in shut down mode and only thinks about what needs to be done instead of thinking of stimulating blog topics.

In a few minutes, I need to jump in the shower, get in the car, drive to Kalamazoo, go through the Wendy's drivethru at noon, pick up Mom and take her for a shampoo after we eat chicken sandwichs and Frostys.

I owe Granddaughter Kimmy and friend a day at Full Blast before school starts. School starts next week, so tomorrow is the day. How's that for cutting it short?

So tomorrow I will be driving about 100 miles round trip and spending the day listening to the screams of happy/unhappy/thrilled children and paying outrageous prices for everything with a smile on my face. Just call me Grandma ATM.

Where did the summer go?

Fortunately, there is hope for future blogging posts.

New yarn is on the way from
Simply Socks Yarn Company and Knitpicks.

Our new CIC challenge for September, October, and November is sweaters and vests with a special request for more sweaters than vests to keep the kids warmer. At the request of the CIC_Knit List list Mom, I'm writing a sweater pattern for Cozy in Cables. That has taken over my knitting time for the moment and I hope to have it posted before the long weekend is over.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday Mitts and Musings

Cloudy Saturday Sky from August 26, 2006Saturday Sky
This was the sky on Saturday, and Sunday. All weekend it looked like it was going to rain any minute. A couple of times it managed just enough drops to wet the surface and keep the humidity at a steamy level. Never enough to give the plants a good drink.

Today, Monday, it is finally raining a decent amount, coming down slow and steady.

Peerie Brocade
I have another 50 row pattern repeat done on the 248 stitches of the Peerie Brocade sweater. I won't bore you with a picture that looks just like the last one only twice as long. Instead, here is a picture of Kristen's lovely, newly finished Peerie Brocade.

She knit it a little shorter than the pattern and I think I'll do the same.

I enjoyed my first visit to Kristen's blog Audioknits to see her Peerie Brocade and I stayed a while to check out all her beautifully executed finished projects before adding her to my Bloglines list.

Fingerless mitts for CIC challenge in Autumn PeachMore Mitts

Pattern: Diamond Handwarmers from CIC knitter Ruth

Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight 100% wool in Autumn Peach.

Needles: #4 24" Addi Turbos

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

The CIC_Knit List one month mitt challenge ends on Thursday, so I used the rainy time over the weekend to finish up a fourth pair of mitts in Ruth's diamond pattern, for a total of five pair of mitts to send in to the distribution site.

The other mitts are pictured here and here.

Sydney and Son John share a loving momentSweet
Just because one can never have too many pictures of loved ones who live far away, here's a recent shot of Son John and Granddaughter Sydney Anne. They're loving each other just like I used to love John when he was a sweet baby.

Now I love him differently, but not any less. With the pride and respect I have for the man/father/husband he has become, I think I love him even more.

Mom Report
(Previous Mom posts here and here for anyone who needs to catch up on what happened.)

We're in the doldrums of broken arm limbo. Mom patiently ices her fingers, elevates her arm, takes painkillers, and occasionally has a bad night and complains.

I fetch food, do laundry, pay bills, chauffeur, and whatever else needs to be done to get through this time. Her apartment is a booby trap of containers with unsecured lids so she can get into them when I'm not there.

Eleven days until the cast comes off. We don't expect life to immediately return to normal, but we do expect a wonderful, long, hot shower for Mom and the beginning of the end of this experience.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Q is for Quatrefoil

ABC Along Button

From Wikipedia:

The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts.

Two four leaf cloversIn July, 2004, I looked down and found these two, almost perfect four-leaf clovers.

Although not usually superstitious, I took this as a good sign and almost immediately received some great news. Son John and daughter-in-law Anne were coming to visit the middle of August, 2004. They live across the country in Idaho and it would be their first visit to Michigan in six years.

The big day arrived.

After we greeted each other and settled in for a chat, John asked what good luck I got from the second clover. A rather strange question. I couldn't think of anything better than his and Anne's visit from Idaho, so I told him I didn't know.

That was the right answer! He told me the second clover worth of good luck was due to make me a grandmother around April 4, 2005 in Idaho.

Sydney with a washcloth on her headSo now, August 2006, two years later, I fondly remember that second four leaf clover. Here's a recent picture of the joy it brought.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Doggy News

As a member of the Purling Puppies Webring, I'm obliged to occasionally write about my dogs and post pictures. Since there is no knitting news, this seems like the perfect day to catch up on the doggy news.

Glory eating a berry from my handGlory, our big, black lab mix, loves the blackberries in the back field. She has been known to eat them right off the bush, but she likes it best when someone picks them for her.

Everytime we go for a walk I feed her a few. She's going to be disappointed when the season is over.

The little white spots on her are seeds. She's been banging around in the brush and weeds trying to find a rabbit.

Pappy with a new haircutYesterday the dogs went to the groomer and, for the last time this summer, Pappy had a haircut.

Last spring after Pappy's first haircut of the year, a woman at doggy school who takes breed standards way too serious (my opinion) took me to task. According to Miss Doggy Police, Papillons are NOT supposed to have their beautiful long hair cut and people who get haircuts for their Papillons shouldn't be allowed to own them.

She also informed me that Pappy was certainly embarrassed to be sheared like that.

I found her lecture so ridiculous that I couldn't even get mad. It was all I could do not to laugh in her face.

If anyone reading this is inclined to agree with her, let me defend Pappy's haircut.

Pappy is an eight year old rescue dog. He's not a show dog, he's a family dog. Several times a day he goes for walks in the weeds where he is likely to pick up ticks, sticky seeds, and burdocks. He delights in diving into brush piles in search of rabbits and other rodents.

He loves to go to the groomer and I've seen no sign that he's ashamed of losing his long fur for the summer. Short hair is more comfortable for Pappy and much easier for me.

Sunny eating her new, improved dinnerSunny has lost four pounds since April. Last night at doggy school, Gail the trainer checked Sunny over and declared her thin.

Tonight, for the first time, she got a maintenance serving of Canidae dog food - a third of a cup instead of her diet portion of a fourth of a cup.

We will continue measuring her food and watching her weight very carefully to make sure she doesn't gain the weight back.

Ten day old bluebird sleeping at the edge of the nestAll three bluebirds are thriving. Today is the last day I will open the nest box before they fledge.

Once they get to a certain size, there is a danger they will jump out if the box is open. This little guy might be ready to jump out now if he wasn't so tired.

Yesterday I saw their mom bring them a baby garter snake. Yum yum.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dusty Teal Has Spoken

Peerie Brocade Cardigan from Fall 1999 KnittersThe dusty teal Peruvian Highland Wool has spoken. It wants to be this sweater, the Peerie Brocade Cardigan from Fall 1999 Knitters designed by Charlie Hada.

In all the times I've looked through this magazine, I never paid much attention to this pattern until last weekend when it popped out as just what the yarn and I needed.

No changes to the pattern are planned. I think it's going to make a great long, heavy, warm sweater to wear whenever I need something to throw on with my jeans.

Swatch for my Peerie Brocade CardiganThe overall pattern repeat is 50 rows consisting of five different ten row horizontal knit/purl motifs.

This is my swatch after washing.

The sweater pattern gives alternate instructions for calculating a version in any size for any gauge. How handy. I was a little disappointed that my swatch hit gauge right on and I'll be able to use the numbers provided instead of figuring my own.

First five pattern panels of Perrie Brocade Cardigan
The body is knit in one piece. This picture shows the right front, the side slit, and a small part of the back.

There are 248 stitches on the needle.

I almost wrote that it takes forever to knit a row, but that can't be true since forever is a long long time and it's obvious I've managed to knit more than one row. Now I'm curious how long a row does take. Next time I sit down to knit, I'll time one.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sky, Pain, and New Project

Sunny Saturday Sky on August 19, 2006It gently rained all last night. The morning was cloudy and misty, but by this afternoon when I took this picture the sun was shining and the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds.

That yellow tinged vegetation on the bottom of the shot is goldenrod just starting to bloom, a sure sign that autumn is not far away.

Last week was a painful week.

Sunny's spondylosis flared up so we visited the vet on Monday for pain meds. She's better now and we have an adequate supply of painkiller on hand for next time.

Mom's broken arm decided to swell and be painful. We spent Friday morning in the orthopedic doctor's office getting her cast cut off and a new one plastered on. Mom also received an adequate supply of painkiller.

Ribbing swatch for Set-in Sleeve Aran just before I frogged itNew Project
On the knitting front, Grasshopper is done. Well, the knitting is done. There is still the sewing together to finish.

Time to swatch for the next project.

I thought I was going to knit the Aran Sweater with Set-in Sleeves using Dusty Teal Peruvian Highland Wool. Since I prefer nice, vertical ribbing around my hips instead of horizontal garter stitch, I graphed out a ribbing that was 10% less stitches than the body and would merge into the body cables.

After swatching the ribbing and about six rows of the body cables, I could hear the yarn telling me it did not want to be this sweater. And I did not want to knit this sweater with this yarn. The color is too dark to showcase the cables and these cables are too labor intensive to knit if they can't be seen and appreciated.

So I frogged the swatch in the picture.

Then, I asked the yarn what it wanted to be and it told me:
I want to be a warm, cozy cardigan for you to wear with your jeans. Since I match the color of your jeans, you would wear me often, over any color shirt.

Why don't you look for a pretty cardigan pattern that isn't stockinette and has little or no cabling?

This afternoon I had a pleasant time looking through pattern books and knitting magazines. I think I found the perfect cardigan for this yarn. I'm planning to swatch tonight. I'll let you know how it works out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grasshopper Almost Done

Front of Grasshopper with shoulders joined to backPattern: Grasshopper. Making it up as I go along. Original inspiration was the Larkspur Lace Pullover in the Spring 2005 Cast On, but no part of Grasshopper is exactly the same as Larkspur. I named it Grasshopper because it's green and it jumped into my knitting lineup when it wasn't expected.

Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Treasure, 100% baby alpaca

Color: Lagoon

Needles: Addi Turbo #3

Gauge: 6.25 stitches/inch, 8.5 rows/inch in pattern

Now that FLAK is done, I've been working on finishing Grasshopper.

The front and the back are both complete. The short rowed shoulders were seamed with a three needle bind off before knitting the neck, a knit 3, purl 3 ribbing to match the lower ribbing and coordinate somewhat with the stitch pattern.

The sleeves have eyelets in and after the lower ribbing. I wanted matching eyelets on the front but not around my hips, so I knit a diamond of eyelets in the spot where there would have been a vee neck if Grasshopper had a vee neck.

One Grasshopper sleeveOne sleeve is done and the second sleeve is almost done. Hopefully Grasshopper will be blocking by the weekend.

As always, the alpaca is a joy to knit. I wish I could get a good picture of the gorgeous heathering in this yarn. It's green (obviously) with subtle flecks of yellow and very subtle flecks of turquoise.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

P is for Pileated Woodpecker

ABC Along Button

Pileated WoodpeckerToday, for the very first time in my entire life, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker.

Their usual habitat is tall trees in deep, mature woods. Since part of our yard is the extension of a deep woods, there was always the possibility one might fly into our trees.

They have an extremely loud, distinctive call. Not easy to miss. Therefore, I didn't think there was much hope of seeing one since I never heard one.

Coming back toward the house after our dog walk this morning, I heard it. That in itself was a thrill. I looked up thinking I would never see it in all the leaves, and there it was in a break in the leaves of a tall oak tree! Big. Impressive. Awesome.

Note: I did not take this picture. Even if my camera had been with me, I would have been too busy gawking to take a picture.

3 day old bluebird in nestMeanwhile, back in the field, the late season bluebird nest has three hatchlings.

Feed me! Feed me!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sky and Mom's New Cast

Clear blue summer sky on August 12, 2006It was a perfect summer day today - cool in the morning, cool in the evening, clear sky all day long.

It was the first day in over a week that I've been home all day. I was so tired I didn't even knit. I read a book, took a nap, ate some ice cream, and fiddled a bit with my new laptop trying to get the settings the way I want them.

We have all the windows open, so the house is full of fresh air and summer noises minus the biting deer flies. The beautiful weather wasn't wasted on my day of lounging.

There were some nice outdoor walks with the dogs, but mostly I vegetated and regrouped for next week which is also going to be busy. Busy is OK. It was all the stress of my laptop croaking and having to buy a new one and then getting it loaded and configured that wore me out and fried my brain this past week.

I am moderately PC literate and able to figure things out. How do the people without a clue ever get their computers functional?

Mom with her new blue castIsn't Mom looking better? (Better than what? Look here.)

Yesterday we spent several hours at the doctor's office trading in the huge, heavy, plaster, shoulder to knuckle cast for this new, pretty light blue fiberglas model.

The good news, she can bend her elbow now. The bad news, she's lost the use of her thumb. The best news, she thinks this cast is a big improvement and she's happy.

In four weeks, on September 8, if she's a good patient and heals well, the cast is scheduled to come off.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Finished FLAK

Marguerite wearing her freshly finshed heavy wool FLAK on a hot summer day

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

Thanks to Janet Szabo for an educational, successful, and rewarding knitting experience.

It's done and I love it. It's almost enough to make me look forward to winter. Almost.

If I look a little pale in the picture, it might be because I'm wearing a heavy cabled wool sweater outside in the eighty degree temperature.

The yarn color in the ribbing shots below is more accurate than the outside picture above.

Close up of FLAK bottom ribbing
In our FLAK instructions, Janet suggested decreasing 15% to 20% of the stitches along the bottom.

Doing the ribbing the way I wanted resulted in only a 10% decrease. I'm not afraid to frog when needed, so I gave my way a try. I like the way it turned out.

For the few who might be interested, here is what I did:
  • Started ribbing after Row 2 so all cables were freshly crossed.
  • Reduced needle size from 5 to 4.
  • Did k1,p1 ribbing in filler stitch area with a p2tog at the side seam to keep everything lined up.
  • All the p2 troughs between the cables carried on down through the ribbing. If the 10% decrease hadn't been enough, plan B was to purl them together to make one stitch.
  • For the six stitch wave, k2, p2tog, k2.
  • For the four stitch honeycomb, continue the honeycomb pattern down the ribbing.
  • For the ten stitch braid, k2, p2tog, k2, p2tog, k2.
  • For the eight stitch horseshoe, k, k2tog, p2, k2tog, k.
  • For the two stitch left cross and right cross, continue the cross down the ribbing.

Close up of FLAK sleeve ribbingI decreased the sleeve down to 54 stitches and used the same ribbing pattern as the lower ribbing.

Close up of FLAK neckline ribbing
My least favorite part of the sweater is the neck. It's 100 picked up stitches of k1,p1 ribbing. Between the body and the neck ribbing are two purl ridges to transition between the unlike sections of the sweater.

The neck is a little larger than I prefer, but not enough to make me unhappy. I've never worn 100% wool next to my skin. If it turns out to feel scratchy and I need to wear the sweater over a turtleneck, the neck opening will be perfect.

I knew the size of the neck opening was going to be a challenge when I decided to include the wave cables in the neck bindoff. To not include them would have made the neck opening too small. I feared I would not be able to get the neck to look OK if I only bound off half of the wave, so the whole wave it was.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New Laptop

Yesterday DH Bob took some great pictures of FLAK. When I went to upload them for posting, Internet Explorer wouldn't come up. Then many other funky things happened with my laptop that you really don't want to hear about.

Last October I got a new motherboard and a new harddrive. My laptop was acting like it had a bad motherboard again. I had a nervous fit and then spent two hours at Best Buy picking out a new laptop.

This morning I picked up my new 17" HP Pavilion. Now I need to load software, drivers, files, configure, and do all those little things that need to be done to a new computer that usually result in some kind of frustration and phone calls to a foreign help desk before they're over.

So, time out from everything that I thought was important to do yesterday and today while enjoy setting up my new toy.

I'll be posting FLAK pictures soon, but it won't be today and maybe not tomorrow.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday Miscellany

Thank you so much for all the sympathy, kind wishes, and helpful comments on Mom's accident.

Her face looks better every day and we're hoping for a much lighter, shorter, maybe even waterproof cast when we visit the cute orthopedic doctor on Friday.

FLAK is Finished!
It's been washed and is drying on a big towel on the back room floor.

I'm planning plenty of pictures along with some discussion of how I reduced for the lower ribbing, picked up stitches for the collar, and cuffed the sleeves.

Post Project Depression?
A few weeks ago the Knitter's Review Poll asked: Have you ever experienced post-project depression?

With almost 1,500 responses, 27% answered "sometimes" and 8% answered "yes".

My answer was No! Never! Are you kidding?

Sometimes I get depressed because I wish I'd never started the project. Or the sleeves are taking forever. I often experience a letdown about half way though a project as my mind rushes ahead to five more things I want to knit when the project is done. But anything I finish is celebrated by posting a picture on Stitches of Violet and picking up the next project.

Guess that makes me a fickle knitter.

I've always considered 22 to be my special number, so I was surprised to see it when I entered my date into this Lifepath Number generator.

Your Life Path Number is 22

Your purpose in life is to use your power for good

Of all the life paths, yours has the most innate power.
Your power lies in your vision, and you must recruit others to help you in this vision.
You are able to be a great idealist, but you still have the practicality to get things done.

In love, you tend to be a big romantic - but you also tend to keep your distance.

You have a lot of potential, and it's sometimes hard to live up to.
Sometimes you just feel like slipping into obscurity and doing nothing.
You tend to be prone to dramatic emotions, until you step back and look at things honestly.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sky and Mitts

Fingerless mitts knit for CIC out of Elanns Puruvian Highland Wool

Pattern: Diamond Handwarmers from CIC knitter Ruth

Yarn: Cascade 220 Quatro worsted weight 100% wool (the turquoise) and Elann Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight 100% wool in dusty rose.

Needles: #4 24" Addi Turbos

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch

I love Ruth's pattern for a quick knit with impressive results. I especially like that I can cast on 40 stitches and knit the entire mitt in one piece.

Her pattern is well written, easy to follow, and quick to knit.

Thanks Ruth!

Clear sky in the morning of August 5In Michigan we say if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes. In actuality, sometimes it takes a few days for the weather to change. But there are many times the weather does change in a few hours or less.

No one who has lived here long puts great stock in the weather forecasts. Sometimes they're right, and sometimes they're not. Many of them say things like "40% chance of rain" or "thunderstorms possible". I could write those forecasts without any expensive equipment or satellite images and be just as accurate.

This morning the sky was clear and blue. The weather forecast was for a 90 degree hot day.

Cloudy sky in the afternoon of August 5By this afternoon, the clouds had moved in. The high was 83 degrees, and there is a 30% chance of thunderstorms this evening. Much nicer than the hot, humid days we had earlier in the week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where Have I Been?

Odysseuse in cast and black faceSunday the predictable routine of normal life was interrupted by a call from my mother in the emergency room. She tripped and fell onto the pavement outside her apartment.

Her arm is broken in three places. We haven't been able to figure out how she fell on the left side of her head while breaking her right arm. So far there have been no offers to reenact the fall, so we may never know.

The breaks are all in position to heal properly. No surgery needed unless something unexpected happens.

For those of you squinting at the tee shirt trying to read it, Maxine is saying:
I couldn't care less. . . But I'm working on it.

Close up of black face with yellow highlightsThe swelling has gone down in her face and she looks much better than she did a few days ago. Yes, really.

See that dreamy look in her eye? She's dreaming of a long shower and being able to drive again.

It's going to be a while.