One Goal Met

by Lee Louise

On July 19, I publicly set a goal for myself in one of my Ravelry group threads: that I would “Update my projects page on Ravelry with pictures and commentary for completed projects that were finished long before this WIP-a-thon-along started .” This turned into a roller coaster of delights, and dismays, as I pulled projects out of long-forgotten hiding places and took pictures to post, and wrote reams of notes. If you looked at my projects page tonight —  every single entry, whether fo (finished object) or wip (work in progress), has at least one picture and some commentary. If I don’t quit patting myself on the back, I’ll get bursitis in my shoulder…

Unforunately, as my virtual footprint improved, the state of my workroom did not, and I hear some expressions of discontent regarding this, since the frenzy erupted in the family room:

I tell them, “This too shall pass.”

The final picture I added to my projects page this month, the documented project that completes this July goal, is of a crocheted sampler blanket, that I completed sometime in the 1990’s. All I can say is  “Wow.” It’s been years since I looked at this afghan, and I had never taken pictures of it before. It’s HUGE — I had forgotten how big! There used to be two Leisure Arts booklets, one with 63 “easy” crochet patterns (#555, still in print), and the other with 63 “more” easy crochet patterns (#2146), both by Darla Sims. Looking for interesting patterns (no blocks with just sc or just hdc or just dc for me, thank you!) I took some squares from each booklet. I used Patons Astra (still available) in all the pastel shades I could find — pink, green, blue, orange, purple, yellow — and used a crochet join in white, and crocheted an outer border in pink (the only color I could find with enough skeins, at that point — I had bought the shop out of its inventory of pastel Astra). I believe I was getting 2 1/2 blocks from each skein, but it’s been so long ago, it might have been less. 1 1/2 maybe? Certainly not more.

A full size afghan, made according to the pattern, would be 7 x 9, or 63 squares. I made only 6 x 8, or 48, squares, and it is plenty big enough. Actually, I love this blanket quite a lot. I’m glad that I used DK instead of worsted, it gives the patterns a lighter, lacier look.

This blanket brings back memories. Jumbled memories? Perhaps so. I know I made it with some vague intention to give it away, but I didn’t at the time, and I don’t think I can now. It’s so beautiful! And I love to look at it. It makes me happy.

crochet-sampler-afghan-1

Good night, July! See you all in August!

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Not Hrothgar

by Lee Louise

As much as I embrace our Anglo-Saxon heritage, I am happy to be able to definitively tell you that the baby’s name is NOT Hrothgar. (In some ways it’s a shame — Dad has been coaching big sister E.H. on the pronunciation, and she has become quite proficient.)

Not-Hrothgar-2.jpg

At 2 days old, Baby Brother is already outgrowing his Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat (the pattern, by Keri McKiernan, is available in your choice of English, German, or Italian! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/easy-peasy-newborn-sock-hat)

Feel free to leave suggestions for his name in the comments! If we’re really going Anglo-Saxon, I like Aethelbehrt, personally.

Roly Poly Roll Brims

by Lee Louise

Tonight, amidst thunderstorms rolling through the area, and alone in the house so that I am uninterrupted in my creative and literary endeavors, I have been taking pictures of my knitted projects, so that I can document them on the blog. And hey, it’s kind of fun!

I have made 5 hats using http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/roly-poly-roll-brim or, in the language of the republic (that is to say, non-hyperlinked English), Michele DuNaier’s pattern, Roly Poly Roll Brim. These hats are like potato chips. Remember the old Lay’s commercial, “Bet you can’t eat just one?” — well, you can’t knit just one of these. At least I couldn’t.

The first one is MY hat, and I wore it quite a bit this past winter. I used Noro Silk Garden 359 Neutrals, with a touch of Rowan Hemp Tweed at the very top. I needed the Rowan to finish the hat when I ran out of the Noro (I started with one full skein and scraps; the scraps proved to be insufficient):

I made the second, red hat because I had so much knitting the first. Denise, one of my coworkers, has laid claim to it. Yardage? 1 1/2 skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in cranberry:

Hats 3, 4 and 5 were conceived as a group. A planned group. A co-ordinating group, even:

roly-poly-cockerham-1

Bought for a totally different, and unrelated, project, these 4 skeins of Liberty Wool yarn (7865 Violet Glen) were originally supposed to become a Molly scarf. And, for a year or two, 4 inches of Molly scarf hibernated on a shelf in my closet.

However, when I decided my German grandchildren needed hats, I gladly repurposed this yarn, and I am truly delighted with the results. The Liberty Wool has a self-striping character that makes the Roly Poly ridges sing. The tassels morphed into yarn dolls – a girl yarn doll for K.J. and a boy yarn doll for E.C.:

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With the remaining yarn, I knit a headband for their father, my son-in-law Justin, to wear in the cold German sunrises when he is out jogging:

roly-poly-cockerham-4

 

Yes, Michele DuNaier’s Roly Poly hat brim has given me inspiration for my future hat making. I can’t imagine ever making a beanie with ribbing again. (Not if I am going to wear it, for sure!) The roll brim is now part of my formalized conception of a knitted hat.

 

 

Grandma x 13

by Lee Louise

Tonight a baby boy made his impetuous way into the world, making me a grandmother for the 13th time. That little speck of humanity weighs 7 lb 14 oz (exactly the same as his mama did, yea-many years ago), and is 20 inches long. They tell me he has blue eyes and dark hair. They tell me he is beautiful. I couldn’t be prouder.

I left a hat for him last time we went to visit:

Baby_hat_1

and maybe there will be another picture, with an animate model, to post soon (hint, hint).

I’ve been knitting some, and finishing some projects. I have completed my variant of the July installment of the 2016 Year of Lace shawl. It took longer than I expected, but it was worth every minute of knitting time:

year-of-lace-July-4

I have completed a Tsuga shawl, which is at the blockers, destined to be a gift for a  young friend who is leaving for Mongolia next month:

And I’ve started a pair of gray Tootsie Roll socks for Tom. One sock is cast on, and since his foot has a 10 inch circumference, casting on is not a small feat, and I have knit a mere 3/8 inch of ribbing. This does not merit documentation so, no sock picture tonight.

Wishing everyone happy–

 

 

Life on the merry-go-round

by Sarah

Today is 24 July. Yes, you say, I know that already. It’s part of the post itself. But the date has a special meaning for me. Eight years ago, today, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was 31 years old.

I don’t remember much of the day. I do know that in the days leading up to my diagnosis, I felt progressively more ill. I was having trouble breathing. I was thirsty all the time, and the water I drank (sometimes waking up three or four times a night, thirsty) went straight through me. There is no history (at all–not my siblings, not my parents, not their siblings, not my cousins, not my grandparents, not their siblings) of diabetes in my family so, we didn’t read the signs, which were glaringly obvious.

No one knows the cause of type 1 diabetes. We know it happens more in the young (but I know someone who was diagnosed at age 70). We know it happens more frequently to people from Scandinavia, so it could be connected with vitamin d deficiency or pale skin (but it effects people who are not Scandinavian, too). We know it is an autoimmune disorder (like lupus or Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis). I don’t know why it came to me.

I am a generally healthy person. Before dx, I hadn’t been to the doctor in five years. My personal disease history does include mono when I was 19 and pneumonia when I was 14, but there was nothing there to indicate that my immune system was ganging up on my pancreas, destroying my insulin production.

I remember the night before. I had nightmares that felt CSI induced. I woke up, peed, got a drink of water, and sat down to catch my breath. I hadn’t eaten the previous day. We were planning on going to the doctor the next day. I remember getting up for another glass of water. I think I remember lying down on the kitchen floor on the vague theory that I would be closer the next time I needed water. I know I put my glass down on the floor above my head.

I don’t remember my brother finding me, passed out on the kitchen floor the next morning. I don’t remember my mom coming in, realizing she couldn’t wake me, calling Dad (who was working out of town for the summer), calling 911. I don’t remember the paramedics asking her if I had diabetes (she said,  “no,” of course) or rushing me to the hospital or putting IVs on each arm. I don’t remember the ER at all, although I apparently moved to the front of the line. By the time Mom followed the ambulance there, I had already been diagnosed. I wasn’t there when the ER doctor told Mom I had diabetes. My blood sugar was 693. My body temperature was low. He wasn’t sure I would live.

When I woke in the ICU, Mom was there, and she told me I had diabetes. I fell right back to sleep, but if I felt anything, it was relief. At least, I knew what it was wrong, which meant I could deal. I think it was scarier for Mom. All she could do was watch.

Five days in the ICU, three days upstairs–it was August before I got out of the hospital with a blood sugar meter, syringe training, and over five hundred dollars worth of prescriptions. There are no generic insulins. Without prescription coverage (which I didn’t have) just the two forms of insulin I take daily were nearly two hundred dollars. The rest was mostly strips for my meter.

I check my blood glucose eight to ten times a day. More if I’m feeling off. I was on a pump for a couple of years, but because I don’t currently have a job, I’m back on syringes and two forms of insulin–at least four shots a day, self administered. I never used to have to think about what I was eating. Now, I compulsively count carbs, hoping that I come close to covering with my insulin so that I don’t end up yoyoing for the rest of the day.

Treating diabetes is kind of like being on a merry-go-round. You want to be able to keep spinning at a constant rate. But every move you make, every push of the foot, changes things. Eating, exercising, injections, sleeping, excitement–everything can affect my control.

It’s been eight years. If I could change the past–of course I would. No one wants this, no one knows why people get it, no one can stop it from happening–any more than we can stop a white cell response to an infection. But it’s how I live now.

And it could be so much worse.

Reunion Favors

by Hillary

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About a month before my aunts came to visit for a few days this May, Mom asked me to make gifts for them in the form of silk scarves.

Sarah adds: To set the stage: this reunion was a gathering of our Dad’s siblings–four sisters and a brother with most of their assorted spouses (this year we had eleven out of twelve attending). We hosted this time (I say we, because I was roped into helping without any sort of official invitation)–in two years it will happen again, closer to the home of another sibling. The grandchildren (my generation) are not invited–not anymore. Does that sound bitter? It wasn’t trying to be. Personally, I don’t know why Mom is hovering over my shoulder making me type this when she could do it herself. Back to Hillary:

I learned how to hand paint silk scarves last year and found that it was very fun, and had been wanting for a chance to do it again. Having already gotten the materials (a Christmas present), what I really needed was a push to get started. This was a “Push” with a capital-P.

Painting silk scarves is a long process. You have to wash the scarf to remove the sizing. You have to iron it to get the wrinkles out. Then you have to stretch it on a frame.

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Put a resist on the scarf of your own choosing. Then it takes one to two hours to actually paint the scarf. After it dries, you take the scarf off the frame and let the dye set for about 24 hours. After that, you very, very carefully steam each scarf for an hour and half to keep the scarf from being ruined. Then they need one final ironing before they are picture-worthy.

As I’ve said before, I really do love this form of painting, even though each scarf takes about 2 days, most of which is preparation and wait time. The dye behaves almost like a watercolor but does not lend itself to layering as the silk can only soak in so much dye. This skill is truly a proof of the saying: a little (dye) goes a long way.

The aunts were very happy with their favors.

Yes. Happy campers:

reunion-scarves-7

A Learning Adventure

by Lee Louise

I love to teach. The preparation, for me, is almost as much fun as the actual class time. I choose a technique, then I evaluate designs (and the evaluation process can take hours). I try to choose a design that will focus on mastering the technique, and that will be fun to knit at the same time! Then we start a learning adventure together.

Recently I led a workshop on socks. Specifically, Priscilla’s Dream Socks, knit from the top down on double point needles, with short row heel and toe. Most of the participants knit one child-size sock with worsted weight yarn. That is what I asked them to do. I chose the child-size sock in worsted weight yarn so they could finish in a timely manner, and most everyone did finish in two sessions. We were all delighted with the results, me most of all.

I love it when the rewards continue to accrue after the workshop ends, and they continue their individual learning adventures. Sandy is knitting a fraternal twin to her class project. Beth is knitting a pair of adult-sized socks in fingering weight yarn. And Cathy has moved forward on tiny sock adventures of her own:

Cathy's-pair-of-socks

I am so proud.

 

Yarn Angels

by Lee Louise

Yarn dolls at our house did not originate with Sarah during Finals Season (as she so quaintly calls it). When the children were small, I made yarn dolls for them to play with. Quite often, I would use 1/2 to a full skein of yarn for a single doll. Sometimes the dolls would have straw hats glued to their heads. Sometimes when the children were older, the dolls would have belts and corsages of silk flowers, once again applied with hot glue.

We used to have craft themes for birthday parties. I recall helping Sarah and her friends craft yarn dolls when they were old enough to “dress” their dolls with silk flowers and a hot glue gun. Some of those dolls were quite remarkably lovely.

But, it is true that yarn angels as ornaments for the tree became a serious production craft when Sarah was instead-of-doing her studying for finals at college. I love her yarn angels. They always have positions of prominence on the tree. She sometimes uses 1 inch wide ribbon for the wings, but my favorites have dainty filigree wings.

My friends, I give you a sampling of Sarah’s angels:

yarn-angels-1

Finals Season

by Sarah

Mama wanted me to write something, on the theory that it was time. She has this grand idea that I should share a poem with you (and yes, I do write poetry, and short stories, and essays) preferably about knitting, but I thought about it and realized that I don’t want to write a poem about knitting at this particular moment in time, and the poems that I’ve already written about knitting aren’t ones that she even likes because she only likes poems that I write when I’m writing bad poetry. So, I thought I’d spend some time talking about why I craft.

I craft. It feels like a confession when I put it that way. I started crafting because I was instead of doing something else. And then, I discovered I liked it.

It’s all because of finals, really. There’s something about studying for finals for hours on end, all culminating in a week of exams and essays (I’m an English major, so we’re talking anywhere from five to twenty-five pages, double spaced) that makes me crave something that I can do with my hands while letting my brain heal.

When I was in college, finals corresponded with Christmas, and so when I first started crafting, I got some yarn and some wide ribbon, and I crafted little Christmas ornaments (yarn angels). The hardest part was the wings, of course. I brought them home with me for Christmas and our tree blossomed with little red and white and green angels.

The next year, I spent time at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, and helped her decorate for Christmas. One of the things we did was cut up a garland and mix hot glue and ribbon and garland and little burgundy roses so that she could have a theme Christmas tree. And so I had another ornament to play with that finals season.

I don’t remember where I got the idea to paint cinnamon sticks with fake snow to make Santa. But that joined my repertoire.

It should be explained that by this point, I needed craft that was socially acceptable at the other finals season. Spring. Painting cinnamon stick Santas is difficult to explain to your roommate when Christmas is eight months away.

My roommate at the time took up crocheting leper bandages, but I’ve never learned to crochet, and besides, I didn’t want crafting to become an obligation. That’s what happens when one actually makes something useful. So, I started cross-stitching, which has the bonus of taking a long time and producing something that’s only fit to be put on a wall in the end.

And so, I have a horde of cross-stitched pictures lurking somewhere in my room, waiting for me to frame. And I have little plastic bags of ornaments (which are given away every year so that I don’t feel strange making more) taking up significant space in the Christmas boxes. All because of finals.

Finals season has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it.