Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's a design element

I finished the Optimum Sock (singular) last night, and wove in the ends. The orange and purple striping on the toe is cute. I did that on purpose. I planned it from the very beginning. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it).

Then I washed the sock. I'd heard that the yarn really "relaxes" when it's washed.

Well, that's one word for it. It stretched WAAAY out, and lay there limp. On the other hand, I didn't need to block the lace in the sock. Every bit of texture just melted out. The lace is gorgeous! The sock is HUGE. It's lying there, limp as a used condom.

And, the yarn bled color like a son-of-a-gun. I never did get it to stop bleeding.

I like the texture of wool. This doesn't feel like wool.

Updates: Sheryl's hip surgery went well. The doc pinned the hip, instead of replacing it. Darn. The recovery on a replacement is a lot faster, and new hips are lasting 20 years now.

Last time I talked with the physical therapist, he still hadn't heard back from the doctor, so we don't know the status on the break in Joan's pelvis.

JtX's cold is getting better. (You know he's sick when I feel sorry for him). Dave's cold is still in full force. Beth's is getting better. I spent the night coughing.

I'm going to need to go to Joan's on Xmas morning. JtX isn't picking her up for Christmas till late afternoon. Sometimes JtX surprises me with what a good son he is. Other times, I just want to smack him.

JsT (my son's brother T, by JtX and Wife 2) is in Juvie. He failed his cocaine test. (This is a long story).

Holiday shopping is done, except for underwear for NephT (My nephew, T, who loves getting underwear for gifts. Strange child.) I'll get that after Christmas, hopefully on sale.

Two more days of work, then a long weekend.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


It snowed here last night! It just doesn't snow in Las Vegas! Alright, it actually does snow here, usually every year. What it doesn't do is stick. There was snow on both cars when I took the trash out this morning!

Sheryl was supposed to have her hip surgery yesterday afternoon. I haven't heard results yet. Joan had XRays taken on Friday, and was asking the PT folks if she could go home yesterday. (I'm talking to the head of PT, to see if she's allowed to walk yet. She walks on the broken pelvis anyway, which is really slowing the healing). I'll know more on both fronts this afternoon. Joan's not going home any time soon.

(Gritting my teeth - I was going to talk about knitting in this blog) I've been knitting a terribly cool (complicated) lace sock for Joyce at Wooly Wonders. It's out of Optimum - that new Optimum Merino that is supposed to be so soft. I'm not enthralled with the wool. It's very soft. The ply is very loose, so it was really easy to grab only one strand of the ply, instead of both. Especially with the darned dull Addi needles.

And, for a yarn that's as expensive as it is, there were a LOT of knots in that very small skein. The odd thing was there would be a knot in only one of the two plies. Grrr.

And, of course, I ran out of wool, about 6 rows from the end of the toe of the sock. I LOVE toe up socks. This purple sock is getting an orange and purple striped toe. But the pattern is lovely!

Pictures soon.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Memories 2

Alright, usually Joan is aware that her memory is going. Yesterday, she wasn't. It was a bad day.

She didn't remember that she'd asked me to wash the sweater she'd knit for her mother 35 years ago, and made the aide check the sheet eight times, and accused the poor aide of stealing the sweater.

She insisted her roommate had been asleep all day. Dorothy kept saying "I haven't been asleep." Joan looked at me and said "She's really been asleep." Dorothy, who is the most laid back person in the world finally shouted "I haven't been asleep!"

Joan told me that (a) J the Ex was taking her out for dinner (JTX is taking her out on Monday evening, not last night) (b) and he was going to take her to a restaurant she likes near her old house (the restaurant is immediately adjacent to her new apartment) and he was going to take her by the old house up on the mountain (he had pictures of the house where they lived for years, in Virginia. He shared them with everyone last week, on his birthday).

Nothing anyone said could convince her of anything different. (She insisted the aide had only put one sheet on the bed. There were two, but I put another one on).

Yesterday was not a good day. After leaving my (very confused) MIL, I went over to my LYS for an hour or so of peace and knitting. Shortly after I got there, Cheryl started gathering her stuff up to leave, and took her MIL's partially consumed soda into the bathroom to empty it. We heard a huge crash and a scream. Cheryl had fallen, and... it's her hip.

Her husband had just had his second kidney removed (he's on dialysis till they can get him a new kidney), so he was at home sleeping. Cheryl had the car. I went and got Paul. Joyce (the LYS owner) called the ambulance. Cheryl still hadn't had xrays when I stopped by the hospital.

Today is our potluck at Wooly Wonders. It's got to be a better day.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


My MIL is only 79 years old, and her memory is shot. J the Ex is having her tested to see if it's Alzheimers or some other form of dementia. But this really bites.

The worst part of this is she's aware that her memory is going. We'll be talking, and she'll get a frustrated look on her face and say "I can't remember" or "I have no idea." Yesterday, we talked about it a little. I reassured her again that her memory problems were caused by a disease, and weren't her fault. She said "I hope it gets better. When I go home, I can't keep forgetting things." It would almost be easier if her memory loss were more advanced, so she wouldn't be aware of what she's lost. Everything I've read says this is not a reversible condition. The best they can do right now is slow the progress of the disease.

Wendy had the best idea yesterday. "Knit from your Stash 2007" Golly, I need that. I just got another shipment from Trash and Treasure. My stash is out of hand, and I need to do somthing. Maybe this is it...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Knitting for War

Having a "new" blog is great! I can talk about anything, with the absolute certainty that no one will read about it till it's too late.

Sunday is the holiday party at Wooly Wonders, my LYS. We're having a gift exchange, that's not quite one of the funky "auctions" that folks either love or hate.

Someone mentioned a little book that the Red Cross has for sale, that is vintage patterns for knitting for War.

I ordered two, and they finally arrived yesterday. I have to say, this little booklet totally rocks! One is going to the gift exchange.

Now I need to decide what to put with it. I'm thinking about some "camo" yarn, needles, and a couple of the current patterns for knitting for "our boys (and girls)". There are hat, hood and sock projects going on out there.

I have some real problems with the "knit for the troops" projects. It really seems like they're the "baby" of one person, who has definite opinions about what is "right", and won't brook any other opinions. THIS one says "The hats must be wool. I put in instructions on how to hand wash them, so they won't shrink or felt." (Right - a 19 year old in Iraq is going (a) even look at the instructions and (b) follow them"). THAT one says "The socks must be acrylic, so they can be machine washed". Then I read a letter from a service man saying "I picked this up from a box that says "free - take one." Oh, that really makes me think that some soldier appreciates my work. We could as easily buy a case of acrylic crap from Wally World, and send it over, for all the appreciation we'd be getting.

But, I want to do something. The war is stupid, but the folks on the front lines aren't.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Definition of Family

J the Ex and I have been divorced for 22 (wonderful) years. Now, his mom is in a rehab center, and I've seen J more in the last two months than I have in the last 10 years. He's fairly recently remarried (again - I'm one of the early ex-wives) to Steppie, a really nice woman. I'm happy for them both.

J the Ex has "poor, poor, pitiful me" down to an art. I can't believe this. Today is his birthday, and I'm throwing him a party in his mom's room.

Joan is trapped in a wheelchair right now, and has major memory issues. She's feeling scared and helpless and is grumpy about the whole situation.

I'm not doing the party for J, I'm doing this for Joan.

So J is getting a cheesecake with a candle, a silly hat, and a book from Joan. (Joan keeps forgetting that I'm buying a book for her to give J, but that's OK.)

Possible silly hat choices:



I'll see what I can find at the party store.

One of the perks of being long divorced is I get to make J look silly, without being accused of being mean.

I love being divorced! But I am looking forward to not thinking about J the Ex again, for months on end.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Doing for myself

I only have a minute to post - I'm teaching a class in an hour, and need a shower.

Apparently, I needed "me" time yesterday, more than I thought. And, I didn't get it.

Chaos, my son, told me how DESPERATELY he needed a hamburger last night. He wanted Burger King. We settled on Chili's. He doesn't enjoy Chili's, but I love their Bottomless Basket of Chips and Salsa. And I think their burgers are pretty good.

Half-way through dinner, I finally got a refill on my coffee and water. I calmly picked up a tub of creamer, and poured it thoughtfully into my water. And then stared at the black coffee. And the white water.

Chaos laughed. I drank the evidence. It was delicious.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Family Obligations

"Family" has an amorphous and not very limited definition in my world. I've spent the day doing things for my family.

I attended Master Eric's mom's memorial service this morning. I'll be honest. I hadn't realized that Eric's mom was still alive. Or that she had been ill. Or even that she'd died. But, a mutual friend called last night to say the memorial service was today. Eric is a friend. I went. He's part of my family.

I just did about 8 loads of laundry. Since I do it with a pressure washer (instead of an electric washer), this actually involves muscle and time. And I lugged it all outside, and hung it out to dry in the sunlight.

I needed to do laundry anyway, but my mother in law (J the Ex's mom) is in a rehab center, and had an accident, and needed the laundry done right away.

Joan is dear to me. She's family. I'll do her laundry any time.

I just spent about an hour on Amazon, ordering Christmas presents. It involved three separate orders, all going different places. I love to give things that people want and will enjoy. They're my family.

Maybe, I can use the rest of the afternoon for myself. I think I count as family too.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Big Lie

Last night was Book Group. Being a librarian, I actually do librarian stuff. I lead a book group. We were discussing She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith. We try to discuss something short and/or timely during the holiday seasons. (Folks are a bit busy to read anything challenging.)

Conquer is a lovely, short, unchallenging play. It's amusing and friendly. I was looking forward to the discussion, but expected a small group. Not quite this small - only one person in my group showed up last night. And she didn't show up till a couple minutes after 7pm.

Heh, heh, heh. I was already planning this, when she arrived, and she agreed to play along.

I'm sending out an email today, talking about all the fun we had at group. What with the Chippendales stopping by (watch out, that link has music!), just to chat, because a couple of the guys had been in a production of Conquer in school,

and the university theatre department performing the last act for us, in full costume with props etc,

and chef Tammy Alana (from the Palms hotel) sent over some extra goodies from the big "do" they had at the Palms (she didn't really have to do that, but, gee, she had extras, and she had wanted to attend book group and couldn't...)

OK, it sounds a bit unlikely in this setting. I'm good. I'm very good at The Big Lie.

We'll see if I get any "bites". Ideally, the response should be "Ha, Ha, good joke. Err, you were joking, weren't you?"

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Theory of Cruising

A week before Mom and I went on the cruise to the South of France, my coworker Jon went on his first cruise ever. He went someplace warm (I think he saw Chichen-Itza), with his lovely lady.

When I returned, I asked him how his cruise was. His eyes got big as dinner plates, and his face was the image of wonder.

"I was kind of expecting the boat to be kind of a glorified tanker. It was a... a.... Floating Bellagio!"

I was on a tiny (but lovely) river boat. Jon was on one of the monster cruise ships, and it blew him away!

When Mom and I were flying back to America, I told her my dream of the Ultimate Cruise. "One of the big boats. Entirely filled with yarn and fiber. All the ballrooms and event space totally given over to comfortable chairs where people can knit or spin or weave as they wish. And, it takes WEEKS to get where we're going, so there are no shore excursions, or other distractions. And the deck chairs are all filled with knitters being pampered by cabana boys..." Mom said "Good luck selling that!"

When I got back, I ran across this in Spindlicity. I called Mom right away, and said "How do you feel about taking my Ultimate Cruise (almost) to Alaska?" So, we're going to Alaska in August 2007! I'm so jazzed.

On a related note, I ran into The Ex (J) when I was visiting his Mom in rehab. (We've been divorced for 22 years. 22 wonderful years. So there's zero animosity) He mentioned that his wife had tripped over some Christmas decorations, and messed up her knee badly, and they might not be able to go on their planned Mexico Cruise next week.

I was appalled! "But, that's the ULTIMATE treatment for a bad knee!!! Warm weather. A deck chair to keep your leg up. Three cabana boys constantly plying you with alcohol!" J didn't think his wife would see it like that.

When I got home, I was telling Chaos (our 23 year old son) about Steppie's accident, and the cruise problem. There are times when I know he's really my son. Before I said a word, he said "But that's silly! She could have hot and cold running cabana boys!"

My son!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Ankle Warmers

I don't think my mom realizes what she's doing to me.

Mom took me on a cruise up the Rhône River, in the south of France recently. We cruised up and down the Rhône and the Saône rivers, and had the most incredible time.

She mentioned that her feet got cold, so I knocked out some great, warm, red socks for her, and started on some dark blue ones (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - yummy! I think they're colors 610 and 201). I'm almost done with the blue ones, having frogged the ankles about 8 times. I tried some lovely patterns. None of which would fit over her heel.

Now, it's cold in Maryland, and her ankles are now cold too. I'm trying to decide between some short leg warmers (in spiral rib) or going whole hog and making the tube bedsocks from Knitting Vintage Socks. (They're the green ones, on the bottom left of the cover.) Decisions. Decisions.

Mom, don't you realize that your wish is my command? I have an (incredibly yummy) shawl on the needles for you right now, that you don't know about! I want to finish the blue socks! Jeesh! From years of "I don't know what I want", to "That would be nice. And that. And that. And that...) I'm pretty sure she's going to be surprised Christmas morning (which is falling on 12/28 this year....)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Tuesdays are for Spinning

Right now, Tuesdays are for Spinning . I bet you wondered about the origin of that! I'd forgotten that the Yarn Harlot took a spinning class on Tuesdays. I'd thought she'd just had to designate a day when she did spinning instead of knitting. It's good to be reminded of history.

So, I'll take my Mother Marion's Spinning Machine, and my lovely Alpaca fiber (Katharine has the most beautiful finger rovings for sale on Ebay!), and take them to my LYS tonight, and add to my supply of yarn for the throw I'm going to make for my Mom next year. (She doesn't know about it, and doesn't read blogs!)

I've been buying books and fiber from Katherine at the Fuchsia Fleece for a long time. She's just the best.

I'll be visiting my family back east, just after Solstice. I keep hoping that we'll be able to visit Katharine in Virginia!

Joyce (at Wooly Wonders) assures me that WEDNESDAYS will be for Spinning, after the New Year. Tuesday at WW is Open Knitting, so I'm a bit of an iconoclast with my wheel. Joyce has finally agreed that Spinners Deserve a Night. Now the Knitters are complaining bitterly. I told them they're welcome on Wednesdays, but they must stand in the middle of the room and turn in circles while they knit.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Knitting Classes Coming!

I've been spending a lot of time at my LYS. I've been knitting toe up socks on two circs. (Actually, right now I'm knitting two toe up socks on two circs). I hadn't realized that "toe up" and "two circs" was particularly unusual, but a passel of folks have said "I'd like to try that". So, I'm teaching a class in the spring. Then, I was trying cables on the cuffs, and a hunk of people said "Cables are HARD!" I assured them that cables are easy, so I'm teaching a Cabled Wrist Warmer Class in the spring.

I had to frog the lace cables on the ankles. They were inflexible, and Joyce couldn't fit them over her heel. (Joyce's feet are just a bit smaller than Mom's). So, I'm just putting on a spiral rib, which is turning out nice.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Knitting in the dark

The Evil Bouclé Shawl- No matter where I was knitting, it was too dark. And, as simple as a Feather and Fan pattern is, the darned loops on the bouclé sucked in the points of my needles, and made me knit them instead of the stitches!

Here's the Feather and Fan pattern (aka, Old Shale), straight from Barbara Walker's first Treasury of Knitting Patterns:

Multiple of 18 stitches
Row 1: (right side) Knit across
Row 2: Purl across
Row 3: *(K2 tog) x 3, (YO, K1) x6, (K2 tog) x3. Repeat from * to end of row.
Row 4: Knit across

Easy peasy, unless you're (a) trying to knit with dark blue to black wool and (b) the bouclé loops are the same size as your stitches! (No, this is not THE shawl, but it's a great picture of Feather and Fan!)

I finally frogged the whole thing. Went to my LYS (Wooly Wonders, and Joyce is a wonder!) and bought some very expensive black and dark blue wool with sparkles. That darned shawl/poncho went to my Sis last spring. But I was left with the dark blue/black bouclé, which is too gorgeous to abandon.

I chose a simple pattern from Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter's Magazine (I think - It might have been A Gathering of Lace - I'll check that at the library later). A really simple triangle shawl with a gorgeous lace edging. On size 15 needles, it is a knockout! Took forever (garter stitch hell), and the edge lace was a challenge.

And, of course, I ran out of wool with four inches of edging to go!

So, I discovered the joys of Cherry Tree Hill wool, and got a complementary hank (not free, it went well with the wool I had) and finished the darned thing off.

It's blocked and ready to pop into a box for Sis's birthday!


Saturday, December 2, 2006

Evil Bouclé Shawl

Sometimes, life just gets to you. There's too much to do. Not enough time left for everything. What to do?

In my case, my mom and sister and I visited the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, a couple of years ago. They each decided they wanted shawls.Of course, the shawls they wanted were not put together yet. They bought yarn and patterns. I promised to make them. Thus started my reacquaintance with knitting.

I've been knitting since I was five, but had pretty much stopped. Not enough time. These patterns? Piece of cake!

Mom's was a tiny shawl, on huge needles, in a gorgeous peach coloured mohair bouclé. Done in a couple days.

Sis's was another story. It was dark blue and black. She'd chosen a feather and fan pattern. It was also mohair bouclé. HUGE bouclé. On comparatively small needles. Did I mention that it was mohair? And Black? and Dark Blue?

Thus begins the saga of the Evil Bouclé Shawl.

Just so no one gets too stressed, I'll jump to the ending. The shawl is done - two years after it went On Needle. It was evil.

The Saga follows. With pictures. (How do you photograph a dark blue and black Evil Bouclé Shawl?)