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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. . .

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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!

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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. . . . . .

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Fair Isle

I’ve been putting off writing for a while – not sure why, although it may have something to do with having a manicure with “gel” which has made my nails longer and stronger, and totally messed up my already limited typing ability.  Therefore please forgive any typos that I didn’t catch.

The procrastination, however, is more likely to do with the fact that I just finished reading Sweater Quest my year of knitting dangerously.  For those knitters who haven’t read it, it’s well worth the read, describing the author, Adrienne Martini’s experience knitting an Alice Starmore sweater.  There is a lot of information about the Alice Starmore infamy, most of which I was blissfully ignorant.

Like her, I am in the process of knitting an Alice Starmore design, and she describes the trials of finding the right yarn, learning two-handed knitting, and the mystery and scary drama of CUTTING your knitting.  I haven’t reached that stage yet, but I have noticed that the closer I get, the slower I knit.  Or course horribly high humidity hasn’t helped.  Procrastination, you are legion.   But I will listen to the author, and read Meg Swanson & Amy Detjen’s Knitting with Two Colors which has good drawings and instructions, and then just do it.  The other thing I learned from “Sweater Quest” is that I am not really knitting a Alice Starmore sweater.  I didn’t use her yarn or colors, so apparently it doesn’t really count.  However the pattern does come from one of her books, and although the colors are different, I love them anyway.  Yarn of choice was Knit Picks Palette, far from kosher, but affordable and a really good color selection.  Oh well, it may be a little sacrilegious, but it’s working for me.

Early stages of Alice Starmore

The other author who slows me down a little is Stephanie Pearl McPhee.  I’m about half-way through All Wound Up and I am laughing out loud, and even read some aloud to Peter.  She is so amazingly insightful and funny, and says all the things I have wanted to say, only with more humor.  She has a wonderful chapter on dealing with folks who look at a knitter in a waiting room, and say, wistfully “I wish I had time to knit” – how many have heard that before?  Or “how do you have the patience for that”.  I’m tempted to say I knit so I won’t kill someone, but that’s probably not very smart, so I just smile and keep on knitting.

This is a fairly short post, but wanted to at least try to catch up a little.  More later, and keep that fiber flowing, life is good. . .

 

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I had a long phone call this morning with Deb – my sister from another mother in Arkansas – and that made me realize I hadn’t posted anything since I got back from Knitting Camp.  So it’s about time.

I have a photo of a tiger, seen on my way to camp, but nothing up close and personal – bit of a disappointment, and now I can’t seem to post it – this who computer thing is sometimes a bit much for a self-taught 70 year old!!

But I made it to camp in plenty of time for the “meet and greet” – some new friends, lots of old friends and I was so happy to be there.

It’s very hard to explain Knitting Camp to someone who has never been there.  People ask me what I learned, and basically I learned how much there is to learn.  There are no formal classes – it is free time to ask questions and get answers both from Meg and Amy who run the camp, and from other people in the group.  How can anyone who hasn’t been there understand why 60 odd people will spend 20 minutes discussing the various ways of making a left-leaning decrease – for most knitters this is either slip one, knit one and pass the slipped stitch over, or slip one knit-wise, slip one purl ways and knit them both together through the back of the loop.  For non-knitters this means very little, but in that group we came up with about three other methods of making this decrease, and what is fascinating is that we were all listening carefully, trying it out on our swatches.  This was a serious discussion – the minutiae of advanced knitters . . . who else would understand?

Then there is “show and tell” with wonderful things people had made over the year – creative, innovative and works of art.  And the wonderful thing is, everyone’s efforts are applauded, not just “knitting royalty” but also the beginners, the learners and the bumblers.  The same with the contest – the theme was “A Secret Garden” – some of us took it seriously, others stretched the theme – a bra from Victoria’s Secret was a great hit.  There were some incredibly delicate lace shawls, and a wonderful pair of socks with flowers all over them.  Below is my entry – a stole with the words “The Magic is in You” worked in the piece.  To me that phrase just resonated, and it seemed to be the theme of the book.

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I am currently working on a Fair Isle vest for Peter – took it with me to get honest feed back and from what I was told I figured it was probably a B-.  Actually her words were “It’s OK”.  And I was so proud – that’s what I mean by humility.  But I learned a lot about working fair isle, and have made some major improvements after that.  Everything I do is becoming a learning thing.

I’ve also been inspired to do lace in finer yarn – something I’ve always been a little scared of – but got some wonderful patterns and ideas, and I’ve plenty of lace-weight yarn.  But then I’ve plenty of all sorts of yarn, let’s face it, it’s an addiction, but a healthy one.

Wish I could post more photos, perhaps at a later date – I need some tutoring in this field!!  Meanwhile, keep that fiber flowing . . . . 

 

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