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Fall and Good Intentions


I love this time of the year – cool nights, warm days, colors starting to turn and hummingbirds swarming at the feeders, fueling up for a long journey south.  Young Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks flying around – haven’t seen them in a while, and young Eastern Wood-Pewees looking for bugs while parents look on from the bushes.  I haven’t put seed feeders out yet – don’t really want to have any large black furry visitors.  They haven’t bothered my humming bird feeders, so I might give the seed a try, at least a little.  I miss all my song-birds.  The blackberries are turning black, time to pick again –

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With the cooler weather, I’ve decided to take charge of my health.  I treated myself to a “Fitbit” which counts my steps, and general activity, and finally got some “diabetic” shoes – can’t wear most shoes as they never fit right, so I live in Birkenstock sandals, which fit perfectly, wear them all year unless the snow is deep, warm feet with hand-knit woolen socks and wonderful comfort.  However where I live is deep in the woods, and there is no smooth area to walk, and birks just don’t make it on uneven ground.  Anyway back to my “diabetic” shoes – not the usually imagined black leather with velcro, these are red and black sneakers – quite classy, and it’s wonderful to have well-fitting shoes.

I’ve been using the Fitbit for a few weeks now, but struggling to make it to the official goal of 10,000 steps in a day.  I set my own goal for 5,000 and feel pretty happy with that.  Then Peter needed re-hab for a back injury, and the physiotherapy department at Mercy Grayling has a really good deal.  For $10.00 a month I can go [as an “alumnus”] and use the equipment.  So I started last week, and using the treadmill, and other equipment, managed to make it to 10,000+ steps.  What an achievement.  Haven’t done that much since, but now I know I can, so it’s “one step and a time”.

It’s nice to be able to walk along the river path – about 2 miles round trip, and the dog adores this.  All sorts of neat photographic opportunities – 11243463_10207577987030067_5690538441928463045_n11902365_10207577987550080_7632358084466451891_n

 Unfortunately Peter can’t keep me company right now, but I know that down the road he will be able to.  One of the things with a fitness tracker is the motivation.  I used to park as close to the store as possible, now I park as far away as possible, and after I’ve got everything in the car, I even take the shopping cart back.

Anyway, enough bragging, but the more people I tell, the more honest I have to be.  Bear with me. . .

Well folks, I’m back.  Today I celebrated the fact that I’ve made it to 72 years of age with no more than the usual hiccups in my life.  But this week has had hiccups – had a wart burnt off my finger, and it’s been incredibly sore, making typing very difficult and knitting almost impossible.  Incidentally do you have any idea how much you need that middle finger other than flipping the bird with it – I didn’t.  And anyone who knows me knows that without my knitting, I’m pretty hard to live with.  So it’s been a rough week for my beloved spouse, which he dealt with in his usual unflappable way.  I’m so lucky.

Then tonight I installed a new thermostat [not the first time I’ve done this] and now the heat won’t come on – not a pleasant feeling when the outside temperature is about 20, and it’s snowing.  So Peter has gone to fetch our handy, and very capable repair man from down the road.  Hopefully he will be able to fix it.  If not, I’ll just put the electric blanket on and go to bed – of course there are worse places to be!  [He showed me what I did wrong!! – now fixed]

Baby Shawl - full view Baby Shawl - corner

Meanwhile it’s getting very close for the birth of my fourth grandchild, second grandson.  The lace blanket is finished, together with a hat and bootees, and all packed up ready to take down when the day comes.

I also made a small version of the blanket and hat so his big sister, all of 3, will have her own baby to hold and rock and play with.  Seems only fair.

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I’ve got a bunch of projects in the works – some wonderful yarn from Briar Rose, enough to make a kimono-style jacket, some Zauberball in bright pinks, which I’m going to mix with navy for a vest, and some lovely Malabrigo for a short-sleeve sweater.  I’ve even figured out gauge for each yarn, and bagged each project up, now I can’t wait to get started.  However I still have Peter’s fair isle to finish, and now I have the yarn I needed.  I have to get that done before I go to Knitting Camp this year.

Oh yes, Camp – the first time I went it was to get it off my bucket list, the second time was to make sure – not sure where I’m going with this third visit, but I’m looking forward to it.  There are three knitting camps I go to, the first one, in May, is in the Upper Peninsula, the Spring Fiber Fling, the second one is in November, the Fall Fiber Retreat, and Knitting Camp in Marshfield Wisconsin in July.  Then of course are the fiber festivals – more meeting places for fiber friends.

Procrastination is a terrible sin – I started this post last week, and only now am I getting ready to actually post it.  Mea culpa

Meanwhile keep that fiber flowing, all’s right with the world.

This is from a poem by Robert Browning, called Pippa passes.

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

Process vs Product

Process vs product – are you a process knitter, or a product knitter?  Most of us are a little of both – I will very often knit for the actual process of knitting – a pattern that is a challenge, a design I like that has unusual features.  So I periodically end up with things that I may never wear, just for the experience of knitting them.  These things go into the second box once they are finished – then, when a special occasion comes along – a baby shower, a request for something for a charity auction, there is something there.

Perhaps I’10857917_990166870999050_7679327085759500059_n (1)m trying a new technique, and it will turn from process to product.  For example a hat I made for my granddaughter.    This was a technique that was posted on the Gaylord Knitter’s Facebook  page Knitted-hairband-feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand there is also product knitting, like the baby blanket I am making for my newest grandson – due end of March.  That has to be product, has to be finished before the baby is born.

 

Let me tell you about my time-out box – when I get to the “can’t stand it anymore” stage, it goes into the time out box where it might languish for a  couple of months, then I will finish something else, and go into the dreaded box and find something I will actually want to finish.  Sometimes a project will migrate to the very bottom of the box, and then I might find it with great joy or frustration many months later.

 

Things in my time out box include a vest for Peter, out of hand-spun, without a pattern, which doesn’t make it any easier.  The dreaded Fair Isle vest – up to the armholes, and I need to start the steek stitches – now I’m scared it’s not going to fit, and if I finish it, I’ll find that out – meanwhile as long as it languishes in the box, my fantasy of this beautiful Fair Isle remains intact.  Oh the machinations of a rationalizing mind!

 

Enough my friends, knit on, spin on, and keep that fiber flowing – all is good.

 

 

Following Blogs

I just found a wonderful place to keep track of blogs I am following, and now I’m keeping track, I’m a little more motivated to write.  The site is called Bloglovin’, and it’s really easy to follow people, it’s also easy to find other folks you might want to check out. Anyway, reading all those blogs has put me in the mood.  The house is quiet, Peter is in the Taj Garage teaching a neighbor how to make a cane rod, and even the dog went with him.  My birds continue to mob my feeders, lots of goldfinches, pine siskins and woodpeckers, although we haven’t seen the pileated woodpecker for a while.  Chickadees abound and will feed right off my hand when I’m filling the feeders, even the nut hatches seem tempted. So this blog seems more about the north woods than about knitting.  People sometimes wonder why I would live in such a remote place – our nearest year round neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away.  I can’t describe well enough the peace that comes over me when I look out of my big picture window and see nothing but snow, trees waiting to come into leaf again, birds and animals.  It’s the same sort of peace I find in old churches and cathedrals, or floating down the river in a kayak.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy people – in fact one of my closest friends will be here with her husband this coming weekend, and most weeks I knit with friends in Gaylord on Thursdays, and quilt with friends in Lovells on Mondays.  In the summer there are all sorts of people around, but I really enjoy the peace of winter. However, winter leads to “mud season” – when the road turns to slop, the puddles turn to thick, damaging ice, and the culvert is running over the road.

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These photos were actually from a year ago, but you will get the idea – deer in the yard, poor Max, trying to figure out how to walk down the driveway, and our bunny rabbit who lives right under the porch all winter.

So, snow photos, enough water to seem like a flood, although luckily we have mostly sand, so it eventually percolates into the ground, and there is no danger of the house being flooded.  I think this year we may consider moving out for mud season!  Last year we had an eight-day period when we literally couldn’t get out – roads flooded.  But we had groceries, lots of rod-building stuff for Peter, knitting and spinning for me, and plenty of books.  What more could we want?

I spent a wonderful weekend in Sault Ste. Marie at two all-day workshops with Amy Tyler – Spinning Super Stretchy Wools, and the second day was “Matching Yarn to Project and Project to Yarn”.  The first day was all spinning, and I have a spindle full of all sorts of yarn, with varying levels of evenness – my spinning still has a long way to go.  But I always learn from Amy, not just what she plans to teach, but all sorts of tips and techniques.  The second day was all knitting – I’m known for breaking the rules, but I’d never though of knitting with a needle many sizes smaller or bigger, than the yarn calls for – very much an eye-opener.  And once you’ve done that, what would you make at that gauge?  So much more – to all knitters and spinners, if you have a chance to take a class from Amy, do it, she’s a great teacher.  Thanks so much to Lois for her hospitality and company after the classes were over.

Meanwhile I have been knitting – currently making a baby blanket for our newest grandson, due around the beginning of April, and of course I’ll have to make a blanket to match for his big sister’s doll.  Maybe even baby coats to match too!  Pictures will come closer to the time – I’m still struggling with placement of photos.  Peter’s fair isle sweater is temporarily in the “time out” box – got to get the blanket done.  What else, well I have my “car socks” that live in the car, and two projects in mind – but I’m going to move them out to the FROG so I won’t be so tempted to start them.  I’ve done my gauge swatches, made sure I have enough yarn, working on patterns. and made notes then bagged each project – how organized can you get?  This organization is very much thanks to Amy, by the way.

The problem with having a “time out” box is that projects go in there for all sorts of reasons – bored, to complicated, not sure what to do next, not sure if I have enough yarn – none of these are really valid reasons, but sometimes things percolate to the bottom of the box and may not surface for weeks [dare I say months].  Sometimes I’ll dig down to the bottom of the box and get a surprise, and often it will inspire me to move the project to the “active” basket, and even finish it.  I have a bad case of “starteritis” as do many of my knitting friends, you know who you are.

So friends, another entry, done a little in fits and starts, but it’s there.  Keep that fiber flowing — life is good.

 

 

 

Is it January already?

I follow several blogs, and I’m envious of those who are able to blog on a daily/weekly basis – me, I’m having trouble with a monthly blog.  So, I’m up here in snow country, not venturing out a lot – the garage is as far as I go, mainly because my laundry room is there.  I did mention this is a pretty small house?  I always hesitate to tell people I live in a “log home” because people tend to visualize one of these log “mac-mansions” with high peaked windows [how do people clean those], lots of balconies and porches and landscaping all around.  Our house is a one story ranch, no basement, although I do have a porch, it tends to be a gathering place for stuff, rather than a House Beautiful outside living area.  As for landscaping – don’t even go there.  The only thing I plant is daffodills as the deer don’t eat them, and there are a few perennials that manage to survive my lack of gardening skills.

But on the other hand, we have a garage that is actually bigger than the house, and has an upstairs we refer to as the FROG – furnished room over garage – which functions as a rod shop/woodworking space for Peter, and a knitting “studio” for me.  We are less than 100 ft. from one of the premier trout streams of Michigan, surrounded by woods, and our nearest full time neighbor is almost a mile and a half away.  It’s about 7 miles of gravel road, in varying conditions, then just over a mile of two-track, so it sounds isolated, but that’s a small price to pay to live in a little piece of heaven.  There is something inherently beautiful about winter – birds massing at the feeders, smooth white everywhere covering up the debris of fall, and I’m snug inside my house with lots of yarn, another grand baby on the way and enough books to keep me company.

On weekends we have people around, more in the summer than the winter, and I’m involved in a couple of groups – a knitting group that meets Thursday’s, the Gaylord Knitters, and a quilting group that meets on Mondays, the Lovells Loose Threads.  Although I’m not a quilter, the slippery slope is getting closer.  Meanwhile I take my knitting and enjoy great company.  What is it about knitters and quilters and all fiber people that makes them wonderful to hang around?   My weekly trips out to my knitting group, and my quilting group give me great social contact and, of course, quality time with Peter, when he’s not watching basketball and football.

So, how were your holidays.  We were very busy – early Christmas down in Indiana with the boys, the Jennifers and the grand kids.   One of the wonderful things about grand children, particularly the two little girls, is that I get to knit for them – a couple of Wallabies, scarves, hats and, now that they both have American Girl Dolls, doll clothes.

No photos this blog, but at least I’m back in the blogosphere.  Meanwhile keep that fiber flowing and enjoy this beautiful season, but know too that green shoots will start pushing their way up and soon there will be daffodills.

Life Happens

Yesterday I wrote my blog entry, after much thought, and then life really happened – my computer suddenly slowed down to the extend I was typing faster than it could process, and it eventually came to a screeching halt – actually the computer didn’t screech, but I did.  So for the rest of the day I sat in front of it, called tech support and spent money getting a really good [I hope] malware and virus protection software, together with a complete tune up of the beast.  Today I’m doing the same for Peter’s computer, keeping half an eye on it while I do this.

So, where was I?  Oh yes, life happens.  Peter and I were all set to go to the Southern Bamboo Rod Makers gathering.  Hotels were booked, and we were both really looking forward to the trip.  Lots of car knitting for me, time to visit with the kids on the way down, and time to visit with Deb when we got there [my sister-from-another-mother], and for Peter, connecting with fly fishermen and rod makers from all over, gathering to share knowledge, history, scotch and beer.  Well, stuff happened, he got a diagnosis of DVT’s [blood clots] which made any long car trip out of the question.  So now I’m once again sitting at the computer, looking out at an overcast day, but Popple trees in golden glory with the occasional red blaze of sugar maple.  Somehow the leaves seem almost more luminous when they are wet.  Keats said it best in his Ode to Autumn – season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

I had more in the post I lost – but the thoughts have disappeared together with the post into the black hole I call cyberspace. So, what’s new fiber-wise?  Well the shawl I made for the West Branch Fiber show didn’t make it there in time – bit of a bummer, but as I said, life happens.  I did enjoy the show.  New acquisitions, including some wonderful yarn from Briar Rose in a colorway called Fourth of July, which is a light to dark purple colorway and is my Christmas present to myself, enough for a really nice jacket.

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I took my friend Mary, and she slithered further into the world of yarn with some wonderful purchases, and all in all we had a great day.  I finished the Wallaby for my eldest granddaughter, proceeded to loose the pattern, ordered it again and have now started on the one for my youngest granddaughter.  Also on the needles, fingerless mitts for Christmas gifts, “car socks” for the donation box – I hate to rush when I need something for an auction – and more plans that I will probably have time for.

 

headband

Carwen's wallaby

These are Carwen’s sweater and headband – had fun with those.  She hasn’t seen the wallaby yet – and she won’t see this blog, so it will be a surprise for her birthday in December.

pretzel scarf

This is a scarf I designed, specifically to be worn in the pretzel-tie – wide on one end, but narrower where it goes round the neck, less bulk and also less yarn and less knitting!  I will finish writing the pattern, and if you want a copy, leave me a comment and I’ll send it to you.

The spinning wheel has also been busy – a friend who went to Iceland brought all of the quilting group Icelandic yarn – most of it was the unspun variety which is extremely difficult to knit with, so I am “spinning” on the wheel and will ply it so everyone will be able to knit with it.  There are some wonderful colors, and hopefully I will have the first wheel done by Monday.  Then I have some great roving I got from Deb Cline – sort of black-watch colors, which will make a wonderful vest, and some merino/silk mix I’m plying into  self-striping yarn.  I guess I’ve just got to slow down a little with new projects, and keep finishing stuff I’ve got started.  Oh yes, the boys tell me they have worn out their felted slippers hint, hint.  Can we move Christmas into February??

So, keep that fiber flowing – all is well with the world.

I had some major problems with the beast, and so spent a great deal of time and money having things repaired.  This meant I couldn’t use my computer for 48 hours – had to toss a cloth over it to remind me because it is second nature to go to the computer for instructions, guidance and mindless entertainment.  Anyway the beast is now healthy again, at least so far. . .

I’ve been reading the second part of a trilogy, “The Settlement” – a great read.  Book one was “Dark and Deep” and the second is “Promises to Keep”.  Why bring this up in a knitting blog? Well one of the main characters is a very masculine Scot, who knits socks – how about that?  The author is Katharine Tree, and these are only available on Amazon for download.  I’m now waiting with bated breath for part three!  I do know the author, which is another reason I’m giving the books a plug, she is the daughter of one of the Lovells Loose Threads – a quilting group I go to on Mondays – not quilting [yet], but I take my knitting or my wheel.

And what’s on my needles – I continue to make progress with the Alice Starmore design.  Ready to put in the steek stitches, although I haven’t quite figured out how to do the color changes – no doubt it will fall into place when I actually do it – that is so often the case, I don’t know exactly how to do something, but once I start it, it all works out.  I’ve also just finished a shawl that I’m going to enter into the contest at the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival [known locally as West Branch].  The general category was “Bling”, so I used a lot of beads, and also a yarn that had a little bit of silver running through it.  I took photos, but it was hard to get the lighting right to show off the beads – I’ll add it once I’ve tried to edit it.  That’s always assuming I can even get it from my phone to the computer!!  Guess what, I made it!

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What else on my needles – a Wonderful Wallaby for a grand-daughter, and the yarn ready for the other grand-daughter.  I love this pattern, it’s so simple, and quick to knit.

We just got back from a trip to the Catskills in Upstate New York – a bamboo rod building gathering – I always enjoy these, lots of friends I haven’t seen since last year, knitting, chatting and generally catching up.  I did put a scarf in the auction, and a small shawl – both of them raised money for the Fly Fishing Center, a wonderful center with museum, workshops for rod building classes and some great history.  As our journey there is a road trip, I get to get lots of knitting done in the car – the scarf, my fair isle sweater and the ubiquitous car socks.

I always keep a pair of socks on the needles in the car – never know when you might need diversion, from the road-works hold ups, to doctor’s offices – helps keep me from snacking in the car too.

I’ll brag if my shawl gets a prize at West Branch, and keep on knitting anyway – just got to keep that fiber flowing. . . . . .