Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lots of Goodbyes

What *is* it with January?

Last year, we lost our dear Shadow, our clever cat, to a very severe, acute attack of pancreatitis. Plus, all in one week, both of our credit card accounts (different banks) and our debit card/checking account were the targets of attempted fraud, all in the same area of Ohio. We lost no money nor did we have any credit problems, since the attempts were denied, but WTF?

This year has been even more difficult. Four members of my little circle of friends and family have passed away. Marie, one of my dear friends in my seniors' charity knitting group, died from a brain tumor, two months after the diagnosis. Apparently her colon cancer had metastasized, after a supposedly successful surgery and series of treatments about 2 years ago. My friend Greg, my hairdresser of twenty years' standing died, also of cancer. It is believed that his colon cancer recurred, and he chose not to treat it again or disclose it until it was obvious.

More difficult to bear is the death of my mother and one of her sisters. My aunt Bettie died from complications of lung cancer. We thought the surgery to remove one of the lobes had been successful and that she was on a path to a good recovery. She died quite suddenly while still in the hospital. We had reconnected at her wedding in 2002, to a lovely and caring man she met when both of their spouses were in the same nursing home, both suffering from a dementing illness. I was so proud to attend the wedding of my 79-year old aunt; she was such a valiant and loving woman who had overcome many difficulties and sorrows in her life, and was very kind to me in my childhood.

My mother passed away from a short bout of pneumonia. Mom had a stroke in late 2002 and had spent the last 5 years in a nursing home here in Burbank. My father died in 1975, and as the years went by Mom wished more and more to join him; he had been her center, the light in her life. The last couple of years she withdrew from all activities, just waiting to die and completely losing her mobility. Mom wasn't a warm, loving person, and we lived quite contentedly far apart until her stroke. I tried to develop a closer relationship during her years here, visiting often and looking for ways to engage her more in the good things of life. It was because of her, to keep her company and stimulate her, that I took up crocheting and knitting again after 20 years, and that has led to the many friends and the happiness and personal growth I have found in the knitting world. I know that her passing was merciful and that she didn't suffer any pain.

My local knitting friends have been a big source of support and kindness, and I have not the words to adequately say "Thanks!" to all of you.

Next post will return to knitting content, of which I have a lot to share.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mission (Im)Possible???

OK, my friends have talked me into this, and I think I have a do-able list. Here goes:
  1. Seam and finish Ribby Cardi (from early 2007)
  2. Finish and seam Something Red cardi
  3. Finish and gift Ribwarmer vests to Rita and Anna (this is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern, found in her Knitting Workshop book) (spring 2007)
  4. Finish Keri Mac socks (test-knitting pattern)
  5. Finish Jaywalker socks (UFO from 2006 Knitting Olympics)
  6. Finish Dayflower Lace shawl (2007)
  7. Knit DH entrelac vest with SWS, Natural Slate - first entrelac project
  8. Knit shawl with Lonesome Stone alpaca
  9. Knit Odessa hat
  10. Knit Urchin hat - pink LB Woolspun - use this old stash up, and give to charity
  11. Knit Wisp or Branching out, or other smallish scarf in laceweight - first laceweight project
  12. Knit or crochet (finish) at least one project, minimum a hat, for charity each month

I’ve already done my charity project - a ruffled crocheted scarf - for this month, actually 2, including one of the baby hats I posted about last week. I started and finished the scarf on Tuesday - crochet goes SO fast, yay! This is nearly 2 full skeins of Lion Brand's Jiffy yarn, in a pink/blue/white variegated. It's about 4in wide and 66in long.

I've gotten to the heel turn on Keri Mac's socks (sock #1), and I'll consult with her about it tomorrow at our Friday Night Unwind group.

And I’ve cast on and started my Lonesome Stone alpaca shawl, though right now it looks like the usual blob. I *finally* decided to do Cheryl Oberle's Wool Peddler's Shawl, from her Folk Shawls book. The knitter who dyes the Posh Yarns in the UK posted a picture on Ravelry of her Wool Peddler's Shawl, done in a brighter but similarly dyed yarn, and I decided that my yarn would show off very nicely in this pattern. Plus it's pretty quick, since the center section is all garter stitch. ;-D

Yesterday I took a remedial seaming lesson from a friend to get ready to finish my Ribby Cardi. The cardi, in pieces, is shown in the blocking stage. I actually have the fronts and back sewn together; I need to seam the sleeves, join them to the body, and knit the border ribbings. This will have buttons rather than a zipper - I have zipper phobia and my very short-waisted body doesn't work with zippered tops.

So I’m on track and moving right along. These may not seem like a lot of goals, but I'm trying to plan for success, rather than failure here. Plus they include some old UFOs and my first entrelac and first lace-weight projects.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Needles are Smokin'!!!

Whee! I have been so productive knitting-wise. I am *jazzed*!! Hats, mitts, more hats, and the start of my second pair of toe-up socks.

My dear knitbuds of the OOPS group started a KAL on the Shedir hat from Knitty's 2004 Breast Cancer surprise extra, beginning Jan 1. I fudged a bit, getting the 9 ribbing rows done New Year's Eve. And last night I finished the hat. Since I used Rowan's Cashsoft DK, my gauge was different from the pattern, even though I used US 2 needles. While I got close to the 17in circumference per the pattern, by the time I got to the 3rd of 5 repeats of the main section, I was already at 5.5in in depth. Row gauge versus stitch gauge!! So I skipped the other repeats and switched to US1.5 (2.5mm) needles for the decrease section. As you can see from how it fits Molly Model, this is one *deep* hat. The pattern calls for 9in from crown to brim, and it's about that. But it is soft and pretty, and someone fighting cancer will undoubtedly appreciate it. I learned to do small cables and twists without a cable needle on this project, and I also learned that this plays merry hell on my poor old wrists. Wendy and Grumperina both have excellent tutorials on how to cable without a needle. The yarn is a paler blue than this shows.

I'm pleased to help spread the news: my dear friend Grumperina got married!!! Here's the link, though it's only to a photo of the grumpy/happy couple.

Months ago, I made a Ribwarmer vest from Elizabeth Zimmerman's pattern, using some lusciously soft Cascade Cloud 9 angora-blend yarn I got last winter from Unwind's Superbowl sale leftovers. I liked the Madge hat and mitts I made for my dear friend Madge, so I decided to make them again in the soft Cloud 9. My gauge in this yarn was enough different from the Di.VĂ©. Autunno yarn I used for Madge's gift that the hat was too shallow, so after it was finished, I dithered for a couple of days and then ripped back to the last row of the main pattern, to add more rows. The mitts were done, too, but the 48-st ribbing I used was a tad loose, and I frogged them, too, going down to 40 sts. There's just a thumb slit, and there are 2 horizontal repeats of the hat pattern, 1.5 vertical repeats, on the back of the hand. Yummy!

I've finished some charity hats, 2 more baby-sized ones, from a skein of Encore Colorspun DK I bought ages ago; that makes 4 from one skeinAnd there was enough left from my last year's projects of the Bernat Camouflage yarn in the Outback colorway to make one more hat; this one is toddler-size. I really like the way the colors stripe in the Outback, and it's nice acrylic, so to speak.

Last but not least, yesterday I started a test-knit project for my Unwind friend Keri Mac. She's designed some lovely slip-stitch socks, knitted toe-up, and I volunteered to be the test knitter. I've only made one pair of toe-up socks, so this is a learning experience for me, too. I chose some Socks that Rock in the fingering weight, colorway Cobblestone Country (color seems to be discontinued). Keri knitted her socks in Rowan Wool Cotton, so her gauge is quite different, but I thought that a lot of knitters would want to use sockweight yarn. I'm making notes as I go along, but I've already decided that this yarn - and perhaps most hand-dyed yarns - won't show off the pretty vertical slip-stitch pattern. So I'm going to frog this and try a solid or semi-solid color. Look at that nice round toe! My second Figure-8 cast-on. I'm so proud, lol! (Damn fiddly thing.)

I've been working along on my pretty Misty Garden feather-and-fan scarf, and I've spent hours and hours poring over shawl patterns, trying to decide on the 'right' pattern for my luscious Lonesome Stone alpaca. OK, off to do some stash-diving in my sock yarns.