Monday, August 20, 2007

The Shibori Scarf

Shibori Scarf, finished

Dear Blog-

What a difference a couple of days can make. Since you have been good enough to listen to me complain about everything these last few weeks I thought I would let you know the good bits, too. Saturday morning as I was teaching, my Dad left me a voice mail that Mom's room had been changed at the rehab center. It seems her crazy-making roommate had hung up on one of my sisters the evening before when she called to talk with my Mom. My normally mild-mannered mother raised the roof and within about 5 minutes she was moved to a different room, with a very nice and eminently sane woman, and the two of them get on like a house on fire. Mom was a different woman when I went to visit her that afternoon, looking like my 'real' Mom again with the devilish twinkle in her eyes. What a relief that was to all of us.

And so yesterday, being the first day in 7 that I didn't have to go to work (I love my job, but, really, everything in moderation), DH got up early and we went out for breakfast (there being no food in the house) and from there we went to the grocery store and bought pretty much everything we clapped our eyes on. It is a good thing - as Martha would say - to have food in the house, just waiting to be eaten. I was afraid that soon we were going to turn on each other, and it wouldn't have been pretty. And we also got laundry detergent, thank God, so yesterday I played hooky from Mom duty and washed lots of laundry and changed the sheets. I never thought I would be grateful to spend my afternoon doing several loads of wash, but there you go. So our little ship of life is headed back to the shores of Normal, and that can only be a good thing.

I also decided yesterday - in between a quick run to Trader Joe's and dropping DH off for a Starbucks fix, and when I would have to go back and fetch him home from the aforementioned - to do the felting on my Shibori Scarf. You may remember that I had originally planned on working beads into the knitting, but between doing most of the knitting sitting in the hospital, and not having the right-sized hook with me when I started the scarf while sitting in the car place waiting room, waiting for my a/c to be fixed, the bead thing didn't happen. And I regret that mightily now, it would have made the whole thing beyond cool. But I made the decision yesterday morning that there was no way in HELL I was ripping that scarf out and starting over. So I went with what I had. The idea of beads, and the finished scarf, did set off a whole lot of thought bells in my brain, so I will be revisiting this whole thing and using beads when I do so, you may rest assured. So here is the finished scarf before felting...

I didn't want the colors to stripe horizontally, so I knitted the scarf on the bias to get more interest and movement happening in the fabric. This is done with Morehouse Merino in the Zaandam colorway. Loved it. But then, I love pretty much everything they do.

Next I sat down with scarf and beads...

I had a variety of sizes of wooden beads to work with, and as I was looking for some odd shapes as well I also got some half eggs. These did not work so well as the beads, making holes in the finished fabric, so I won't use those again. But it was worth a try.

Now to look at the fabric before starting...

With variegated yarns and felting, I find I usually like the purl side of the felted piece better, as it gives a better play of colors than the knit side does. I decided to stick with that here as well, and worked using the purl side as my 'right', or public, side.

Now to place the beads...

I didn't want to over-analyze the thing and spend too much time deciding which bead went where, because I felt that could ruin the process. Just put the little devils in there, with the idea of the larger beads being towards the bottom edges, and then graduating to smaller beads as it went up.

Beads in place on the whole scarf before felting...

The scarf after felting, before removing the beads...

So I am in love with this process and ready to go to the craft store and get a whole lot more sizes of wooden beads. This is too much fun.

Last night, as well, I started to work some more chart rows on my MS3. I'm on Clue 7, the final clue, and I am ready to see the finished shawl. But two nights ago I dropped one of the slipped sts at the beginning of the chart row, and try as I might, I couldn't get the picked up st to look right - I had this big hole suddenly happening in a line of nice, neat, uniformly-sized yo's. So I did it. I took a deep breath and decided to frog back to the beginning of Clue 7. If I didn't, I knew that forevermore I would be really, really bothered by that spot, and so it just made more sense to deal with it now before I got too much further. I've never had to frog lace before. I've never used a life-line because I always count on my wrong-side rows, so I catch any mistakes right away. But there is no counting on this wing section, you are on your own. But I determined where I wanted to rip back to, placed a marker at the side stitch in that row, took a deep breath and pulled my needle out of those sts. This is another instance where spending too much time thinking about what you are doing is really counter-productive, you just have to do it. So I ripped it out, row by row, until I got down to the marker I had put in earlier.

I used a size US 0 needle to pick up the sts at that point, and then as I transfered them back to the proper needle, I reoriented them if I had picked them up backwards, and re-worked any sts that the yarn had pulled out of. Voila! I read the sts and found that I had ripped back a tiny bit too far, and that I was ready to work a WS row before working the last chart row of the previous clue. I did all that and worked 3 rows of the chart for Clue 7, and feel much better about the whole thing. It really had to be done.

So now, Blog, I am going to close this and go eat breakfast - because we have food and I can do that - and because this morning is going to be spent driving about Tucson, doing what needs to be done to get DH and his car back on the road. This is another thing that just needs to happen, it is past time. If you are the praying sort, send us prayers that DH will have good news about Thursday's job interview today, and that Mom continues to improve and is back in her own home soon. If you are not the praying sort, send us good thought instead, those are much appreciated too.

Til then, keep knitting-

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bobbing Up For Air

Isn't he cute? A ground squirrel that DH photographed, just after he climbed out of our pond. The squirrel, not DH. Munching away on a mesquite bean in front of our front window.

Dear Blog-

Yes, I am feeling like a half-drowned rat on a rapidly sinking ship. And you can be damned sure I am grabbing my ENTIRE yarn stash before I get into the lifeboat. Will there be room for those big plastic bins with all my knitted stuff in them, I wonder?

On Tuesday afternoon my Mom was moved over to a rehab facility in order to get some more intensive PT to get her up and moving again before she gets home. She had the option of doing 7-10 days in rehab, or going straight home and getting PT in 2x a week. Because the infection and laying around in bed (had to while the infection cleared up) has taken the stuffing out of her and she could barely walk, she decided to opt for the rehab. In the past, after hip replacement and before then after a stroke, she has gone to a rehab unit right next to the hospital and had a great experience - or as near to a great experience as one can have in such a situation. This time she opted for a nursing home 2 minutes from their house (for Dad's convenience, with his whole Meniere's issue) and we are all regretting that now.

I didn't go over to visit her there either Tuesday or Wednesday, because frankly I was exhausted and slept most of the afternoon Tuesday (to give you some idea, the tow truck came and took my old car away from in front of the house while I was sound asleep on the couch, and I never heard a thing), and on Wednesday I got home from work late, and was tired enough that I thought the other drivers in Tucson really didn't need me added to the mix at rush hour. So going to visit her there yesterday afternoon was something of a shock. This place is a hell-hole and I HATE that she is in there. Other than to say that the room is clean and that she has a nice nurse and a nice tech... UGH! It's noisy, there is someone across the hall who listens to their tv at full blast all the time, a screamer down the hall, a roommate who is senile and deaf as the proverbial post and so loud (and boring as hell) that it is next to impossible to have a conversation in the room with her talking to someone else. With a noisy O2 machine that makes noises like a giant aquarium pump, complete with water sounds. The room is small enough that if they were so inclined the two of them could lie in their respective beds and hold hands across the space between them. Because the roommate prefers everything to be bright, Mom, whose eyes are sensitive to light, has to lay in bed with freaking sunglasses on so that it doesn't hurt her eyes. All this so that she can have 1/2 hour of PT a day, and one dressing change that seems to only happen if Dad or I go down to the nurse's station and ask when the heck it will be done.

If this gives you some fraction of an idea of how I feel about the place.

So my days this week have consisted of getting up in the morning and doing laundry (turns out you can wash clothes with Dawn dish liquid, in a pinch - I still haven't had time to go to the grocery store), washing dishes, straightening up the house, watering inside and out, then going in to teach or work first thing in the morning, then holding a 1-2 hour private lesson after that, rushing to pick up something for lunch for DH and I, going home, wolfing down lunch, taking DH across town to work, then coming all the way back about 15 minutes past our house to the hospital or the rehab place, staying with Mom and fighting with the staff for her care for 3 hours, taking care of what she needs cause no one does anything for her, then coming home and collapsing on the couch til it is time to leave at 10:30 to go all the way back across town to pick DH up from work. I get to bed about 12:30 and am wide awake at 6 a.m. And I am not getting any outside help from anyone when I ask for it.

Ok, I apparently needed to get that all off my chest.

In the meantime, I did get a visit from my Mom's mom, in the form of a pygmy owl perched in the mesquite in front of my front window, Sunday night. She stayed there hooting softly for about 10 minutes, looking around and preening, then flew away.

So let's talk about knitting. In the midst of all this during the past week, I have managed to get finished with Clue 6 of the Mystery Stole. I LOVE the whole concept of putting a WING! on the end of the stole. A wing! It is looking so beautiful, I think the idea is absolute genius. I know Melanie is planning a variation of the stole with wings in both directions, but I think that could get a bit precious, perhaps. But the idea of this metamorphosing into a wing - brilliant!

Stole wing at the end of Clue 6

I LOVE the texture of the feathers

So yesterday morning I was up bright and early as I seem to be doing these days, and I printed out Clue 7, the final clue. After breakfast I prepped the chart, and when I had about half an hour yesterday afternoon before taking DH to work, I knitted about 1.5 chart rows. When I finally got home last night I worked a few rows more, but not the 12 chart rows I had hoped to finish yesterday. Today will be more of the same as far as my life schedule goes, but I live in hope of having time/energy to work more on this later today. I can't wait to see this as a finished object.

Clues 1 & 2, the beginning of the stole

Clues 3 & 4, LOTS of cat's paw lace. More than I will need for some time.

So hopefully in the next few days I will have a finished and blocked shawl to show you. In the meantime I have also finished the knitting for my Shibori scarf, I'll talk about that next time. And I have cast on and done all my math for the start of my KAUNI CARDI!!!! Woo Hoo!

Until then, Knit On!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Geeze Louise!

Dear Blog-

Just a word of advice in your ear if you are inclined to take it. Never, ever, at the end of a long and eventful and life-rearranging week, look up to the skies and ask, "Good Lord! What ELSE could possibly happen?" Because I find that God - who so often ignores my rhetorical questions on the many issues taxing me today - just loves to answer that one.

Last night, after coming home from work and settling myself in for an evening of knitting and watching pointless tv while DH worked, I got a phone message from my Dad. He took my Mom to the ER during the day because she has cellulitis in both lower legs. Now let's be clear about this. As far back as the 1840's to the best of my knowledge and perhaps even before then, I come from an unbroken line of nurses (excepting myself, but including my Mom, both of my sisters, and my niece). Mom has had cellulitis before. She ought to know what it looks like, and even if it was all new and different to you, one ought to know that legs don't, in normal, positive situations, leak blood and lymph fluid. But instead she googled for info (I'm sorry, but I am just AGHAST at this) and found someone who said leaking legs were due to dry skin, so she and my Dad spent a week putting tons of cream on her legs, instead of going to see a freaking doctor.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love google. If need to find out yardage on yarns I am not familiar with, I look to google. If I need a phone number for a shop, I go to google. If I need to find someone who sells a particular thing that I can't find locally, I go to google. For nearly any manner of information, I look to google. I do not - and neither do I advise - look to google as a primary source of medical information, particularly if you are only held together with spit and string.

So the hospital decided to keep her, where she is currently drugged to the gills (cellulitis is painful), and being loaded up with enough antibiotics to cure an ebola plague in a third world country. After I drop DH off at work this afternoon I'll take some knitting with me and go over and sit with her for a few hours, giving my Dad a break and her some company.

This also, in a roundabout way, answers the other rhetorical question of why my Dad's surgery, originally scheduled for today, was canceled, and why were were not fated to squeeze him in for surgery on Wednesday.

What does a woman do at times like these? Knit, of course! Knit until your hands fall off and your eyeballs melt. Knit everywhere you go. Knit without pause.

Consequently, I am all caught up on Clue 5 of the MS3, and plugging happily along on Clue 6. I love, love, love the way that the end of the shawl turns into a wing. That woman is a danged genius. I would seriously consider setting up a shrine to her in my home, except that it would require sacrificing yarn balls on a regular basis, and I do that for no one. I'll post photos here in a day or two of my finished Clue 6.

For portable knitting, I am working on the scarf for my shibori scarf design. This is the lovely number that you see at the top of the page, worked in Morehouse Merino laceweight in the Zaandam colorway. I chose that particular colorway because I have something very organic in mind for the finished item. As ever, I love the way this yarn feels, the colors they use, just every darned thing about it. If I could knit with Morehouse Merino forever, I would. If I could move into their store, I would. I am designing the scarf to take advantage of the color changes, knitting it on the bias.

And at least the knitting/money gods are smiling on me, yesterday one of our customers in the shop bought one of my bags that I have had on display there for a while, and I have three private lessons lined up for next week, in addition to my regular classes, Knit Dr. and possible additional hours in the shop.

So, I guess I will go and knit some more, now that I have gotten all that off of my chest. Chin up, Ladies, and keep your yarn dry.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dear Blog-

As usual life has gotten ahead of me this past weekend, so while I have been knitting away like a madwoman in order to not actually become a madwoman, it hasn't given me time to stop in and visit with you.

Thursday and Friday I was able to pick up some extra afternoon hours at the shop after teaching in the mornings. After work Thursday I came home, fetched the DH, and we went over to the other side of the moon to sign off on the car insurance buy-off for our former car. On the way home we tried a place called Frankie's for excellent cheese-steak sandwiches. Friday after work I came home and fetched the DH, and we returned the rental car and went and bought our 'new' car. G has a good friend who owns a dealership that had gotten the car in trade, and he gave us a great deal. And so we decided to stop again at Frankie's to celebrate and make sure the sandwiches were really as good as we thought they were the night before. They were, but it might require further research in future.

Saturday I left early to go get Mom and take her for the weekly shopping expedition in our new car. Whose a/c, which was merrily and efficiently freezing our faces off the night before, decided it was no longer going to work. Not a good thing in Tucson. Not in summer. Took G to work in the afternoon for his first day at the temp job, which, when I picked him up at 10 pm, he told me was a piece of cake. Sunday - private lesson in the morning for one of my students at the local Starbucks, take G to work for the afternoon. One great thing - my student had a Bush Backwards key-chain that digitally keeps track BY THE 100th OF A SECOND of how long til Bush leaves office. Must have one.

Monday morning we woke up to a great, rainy day and several of my knitting peeps came over for the morning so that we could sit around, knit, eat food, and talk trash about people. Including each other. Took G to work.

So this morning we go to the car dealership to get the a/c fixed, and there seemed to be some confusion about taking care of it, but all that is straight now and I will take it in Thursday after work and get the a/c fixed up. Seems the relay switch to the compressor died. What kind of luck is that?

And while this is all going on this morning, my Dad calls me on the phone (Note to Sis: act stupid and surprised by turns when you hear about this from M&D) and tells me that his surgery, scheduled for this Saturday to correct his Meniere's, has to be rescheduled. Can I take him up to Phoenix (two hour drive) tomorrow. I can't, it turns out. Long story short, in the afternoon I called the surgeon's office and got him scheduled for the end of this month. This saves them calling Dad, Dad calling me, and then Dad calling them back, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Mother, at the same time, calls and asks if I have her written down for an appointment at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning. Shirley, I can't even manage my own life at this point, how can I keep track of your haircuts?

Did I mention that I am HAVING MY PERIOD??????? And that despite this, despite my PMS, and in spite of our last week and a half, there are still people walking about Tucson alive and breathing? That, my friends, is a miracle of the first order.

How, you wonder, has Lynda saved her sanity these past few days? Say it with me, Sisters. KNITTING!

On Saturday I finished the herringbone felted bag, all ready to put it up on etsy as my first venture there. Wish me luck.

Sunday I finished the Fair Isle bag with Noro, another eventual entry on my etsy site. Needs lining and handles, but I am really pleased with how it came out.

Monday I finished up the first of a pair of socks. I thought they were for me, but this sock tells me that it is a Christmas present. I've got the second sock cast on and started.

Today, knowing that I would probably do a good bit of sitting while they took a look and hopefully fixed my a/c, I decided to take along the Morehouse Merino lace yarn with which I will be designing a shibori scarf, so that I could work up some ideas and get an idea of gauge. I've decided it also needs some beads in it. The first pack of beads has too much brown, the second pack has too much blue. I'm going to sit down and sort them out into one nice mix of the best of both.

In the meantime, I know you are wondering what is going on with my MS3. I did get totally thrown off during Harry Potter week, and the events of last week were no great help, but I have been plugging doggedly on and have about 5 chart rows before I finish Clue 4. Clue 5 has lots of short-rows, so I should be able to dive into that and get caught up by the end of the week so that I will be ready for Clue 6. I was delighted to discover that my theme guess was so right! I knew it was Swan Lake, I just knew it! I really, really don't want to lag behind on this project, I want it done at the end of the month when the last clue comes out. I have soooo much knitting to look forward to, not the LEAST of which is the Kauni cardi, and

AAANNNNNND! OMG!! The pattern for the Autumn cardi has come out!! I have it! It is MINE! The urge to start it is so strong, but I am resisting at least until I get caught up with the MS3. And yes, I did get to show off my Kauni to the knit peeps yesterday, and yes, they were properly shocked and awed, not to mention madly, deliriously desirous of possessing Kauni of their own.

So it is time to go fetch DH from work and bring him home. Good news is that they have asked him to continue full-time for the next two weeks. This gives us that much more ease while he job hunts. Turns out they love him there, so they should be able to give him a great recommendation for his next job.

In the meantime, Knit on!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life, As It Is Actually Lived

Dear Blog-

The tricky part about keeping a blog of any sort is that one has to, by definition, have something to say on a fairly frequent basis. Hopefully it is a something that people other than yourself find interesting enough to read regularly. The tricky part about keeping a blog about knitting in particular is that one must do a good deal of knitting in between postings (behind the curtain, as it were) in order to have something worth showing now and then.

To say that our lives here in the Sorenson household have been a bit topsy-turvy in the last week would be the mildest of understatements. Sometimes it can feel as though life is a game played by giants, where some detached and dispassionate observer somewhere off-stage puts all of the elements of your life into a shaker like a set of dice, rattles the cup and spills them out all over the table, just to see what you can make of the new, random arrangements.

As I was posting here on Saturday afternoon, my husband called to tell me that he had just gotten into a car accident. He was minding his own business, driving through a green light, when a driver who had been fully stopped at the red light suddenly started up and drove into the intersection. She herself admitted that she had no idea why it happened, that she suddenly realized what she was doing, and by then it was too late to stop. Graham is fine, thank God. She wasn't going very fast and he saw her out of the corner of his eye, so he braked and swerved. Instead of hitting his door she hit the business end of the front of the car. Her insurance company has decided to total our car rather than repair it.

Monday was spent in getting our rental car, going to see our friend with the car dealership, and tons of phone calls with various insurance agencies. Takes two seconds to write that out, took the entire day to live. Since this is the car I had before we got married, everything is in my name, and requires me running about like the proverbial headless chicken. (Who knew I didn't have my lien release on the title that was paid off seven years ago? Who knew I would need that, desperately, right NOW?) But that is okay, some tasks in marriage, I find, are divided according to who hates what job the least. I fill out forms and make phone calls, G does the things that I hate. It works out.

Tuesday, as I finished teaching my class, Graham calls me to tell me that he had just been fired. He was working for a large software company that makes accounting and tax software You'd know them if I told you who they were. He was one of 90 people fired Tuesday. All this time we have been raving about how well they treat their employees. Great benefits package, huge Holiday party. I'd rather have less of the free pizzas and ice cream, and have him keep his job. You know, stuff your free Thanksgiving turkey! The company is currently hiring fewer people to do the same jobs, and at a lower pay scale. They fired the old employees rather than lay them off so that they didn't have to give severance packages. We are in a right-to-work state, and they can do that. No, I'm not bitter.

So Wednesday was spent in driving G to a job interview for part time work to keep our toes on the planet til something comes along (which he got, again, thank God), running various errands, and taking G to the job fair in the afternoon, where he got several really, really good leads, left with a feeling of confidence about being hired soon, and a pre-interview this morning for something he is uniquely qualified for.

Through all this turmoil, Lynda's sanity has been saved by keeping her knitting in the back seat of the car. Yesterday morning during his interview, I sat and worked on the MS3 for nearly an hour, sitting in the driver's seat with the chart spread out on my lap and people walking by looking at me strangely. I got a lot done on the first chart of Clue 4, which I had worked almost to the end by last evening. There is something so soothing, so seductive about knitting lace from a chart. It requires all of your mind, and yet none of it. And the rhythm of the purl-side rows just lulls me.

At the top you see the photo of the Fair Isle bag I am working on, I got a good deal of that first chart repeat done on Sunday while we waited to hear from the other driver's insurance company as to what they would offer for our car. Let me tell you, if you have to get into a car accident, make sure that the other driver has Progressive insurance. They have treated us so well through all of this, better than our own insurance company has.

Well, I'm sorry that I don't have more to say about knitting this morning. I need to go get ready to drop G off at his interview, then teach this morning, and pick up some extra hours at the shop this afternoon. Keep on knitting, Sisters, it helps.

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