Death to the Orange ~~ by Hillary

Sour spray fills the air

signal to the end

fingers dig under bitter peel

hands collect stickiness

creating skin-tight gloves.

Peel falls in a single piece

nails scrape white

gather it into their tips.

Core rips from the sphere,

splits in half

broken chance for survival.

Seeds dig out of flesh,

to find the hollow peel

their living burial, dead.

Wedge by wedge

membrane crushes,

juice runs down the throat.


Bead or Bead-not ~~ There is no middle ground

by Lee Louise

Serendipity. It has to be serendipity. There is no other explanation. All the pieces fell into place, and against all odds, here I am, about to start another project!

In compliance with the no-knitting-related-expenditures mandate detailed in the preceding post, I have not been buying patterns without prior approval. And so, when I saw that Elizabeth Ravenwood Designs was starting another MKAL in A Big Comfy Doghouse Group on September 22, and that the pattern would cost $4, I was resigned to my fate. I would not participate, because there was no $4 to spend. I was sad, because the ladies in this group are great fun, and I enjoy the give-and-take banter among the participants in the 2016 Year of Lace MKAL. Alas, I thought, the Name the Mystery MKAL was not to be, for me.

Imagine my surprise on the morning of September 22, when I was earburned with a message containing a coupon code for a free pattern from Elizabeth Ravenwood Designs! Sarah is a regular participant in the group’s Caption Contest! thread, and a very funny person. She has won several times, and I have watched her pattern library grow each time, but she was struggling with this picture:


We kibitzed. We talked music theory and song lyrics, and she entered the contest with an entry reminiscent of the Lawrence Welk show:

And a K1!
And a P2!
And a P, S, K, PSSO!

I thought it was very funny. But then I had an idea, and I submitted an entry too:

Let’s start at the very beginning — la, la — Doe! A meer! A female meer!

And that, my friends, is how I won a coupon code for a free pattern. I chose the Name the Mystery MKAL pattern, thus circumventing the mandate, so I could participate in the MKAL. I started studying the thread carefully, determined to enter every contest that I might possibly qualify for. I set up my project page that very day, as a contest entry, squeaking in under the deadline. I submitted a name proposal for this nameless mystery, in order to enter a contest. I will cast my vote for my favorite FO, for the last contest. And why do I do this: Because it’s FUN!!!!

I have named my scarf Lace Cappriccio (also my entry for the name-the-nameless-scarf contest). I had to choose yarn as part of the project page set-up contest, so I went stash diving. I quickly found the perfect yarn, 434 yards of Apple Tree Knits Silk Fingering in the Under Irish Skies Gradient colorway:

And then I printed out the materials list for the pattern, read it, and stopped to consider. Beads. Yes, it really said Beads. Optional beads, true. But Beads. I paused for reflection. I reconsidered. Beads? To bead or not to bead, that became the burning question.

Faced with a major issue like this, I immediately did what everyone does — I posted in the group thread, and asked whether I should include beads or not. I was overwhelmed by the generous responses! I tallied the count, and found 8 in favor of beads,  while 2 were strongly opposed. Oddly, no one was lukewarm. There were no neutral votes. Since, in fact, I actually have been wanting to try beaded knitting, this afternoon I talked it over with my husband, and beads it is!


I went to Bead Couture in Memphis this afternoon and bought some yellow beads. Yellow? you may well ask. I don’t blame you for asking. You can be sure that I asked. But please-please-please, don’t ask me — I took along my daughter, Hillary, who studied art in college, and is considered, among her peers and teachers, as a gifted color expert — blame her, or praise her, the choice was hers. And the amazing thing is, I think it will work!!



Infinity is Really Big, or, Infinity + 3

by Lee Louise

Now, some of my family think that I know my mathematics since I majored in Math as an undergraduate. I will admit that, at one time, I knew lots of mathematics. Truth compels me to admit, sadly enough, that I have also forgotten lots of mathematics. However, one fact remains, embossed on my brain. And if you know your mathematics too, you probably also know this one fact that has remained with me over the years: Infinity is Really, Really Big. In fact, it can’t get any bigger. So, by adding 3 more, you don’t in actuality HAVE 3 more, you still “just” have infinity.

Recently, I began thinking about my wip’s (wip = Work In Progress). There are times when it feels like I have an infinite number of wip’s, besides owning a sizeable stash (stash is yarn stockpiled for starting as-yet-unstarted projects). My husband has expressed a conviction that I do not need to add to my stash, which seems rather heartless to me.

And so, I decided to add 3 more wip’s to my already infinitely large set of wip’s. While the total, inexpressible number of Lee Louise’s wip’s did not get any bigger, I did manage to decrease my stash by 2 skeins of beautiful blue Ella Rae Merino Lace DK, 1/2 skein of Burnt Earth Foothills Fingering from Lost City Knits, and the remaining partial skeins of manly gray Regia 4-ply.

And so, on one memorable day earlier this month, I started them one after another in one fell swoop, and the 3 new wip’s looked something like this:

That’s a blue Catlett Shawl (Susanna IC design), a red Master of the Horses, Hounds, and Hawks Mitt (Elizabeth Ravenwood), and a gray Neverland and Oz sock (Heidi Nick), if you couldn’t guess that from the pictures. And I don’t expect you could.

I am making some progress:


I am having fun. I added 3 to infinity and infinity didn’t get bigger; when I finish these 2 wip’s, and subtract 2, infinity will not get smaller. BUT, my stash has decreased to the tune of the depletion of all of my wool and nylon blend sock yarn. If I hope to knit another pair of socks, I. Must. Buy. More. Stash.



A Picture of the Sun ~~ by Hillary

There once was a lake shining in the noon
Blinding the eyes of all who dared gaze upon it
Wind rippled its glowing surface, casting shadows
Small waves of light and murk we only saw through a lens.

The filter dims, flattens, changes the truth
Any camera, painting, mirror, even the eyes do this.
To one can be certain they see reality
Even water, which reflects everything, is not honest.

There once was a lake shining in the noon

But logic says it was the sun instead.

Tootsie Roll Sock

by Lee Louise

I accepted the challenge to knit a Tootsie Roll sock, on July 15. What fun, I said — knit a sock!! I can do that! I can knit one sock… for my husband, Tom. And, if I knit two, he can wear them!! So I didn’t follow my inclination and use brightly colored self striping sock yarn (follow the link above to see how this pattern zings when you use colorful yarn). Instead, I checked my stash for some nice, serviceable gray. Conservative gray. Manly gray.

Eureka! There were still a few skeins of gray Regia 4-ply that have been kicking around the house for years. 9 or 10 years ago, I bought a whole bag full of this beautiful gray yarn:


My husband had learned to knit in the Marketplace at Stitches Midwest, because he wanted to knit himself some socks. I bought the yarn and gave him a copy of Cat Bordhi’s book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters. He used 3 balls of yarn and knit 2 1/2 socks in the past 10 years. All the same color, but nothing “identical” about them, I might add. BUT, I have once again claimed this yarn as MINE. And if I find the book, I will probably appropriate that as well.

On July 25, I cast on and started the ribbing:


Regia 4-ply is an old favorite of mine, as is this heathery gray colorway. Unfortunately, this yarn has been discontinued and so, when it is gone, I will be unable to get more. And that’s a shame, because I would if I could.

A month passed, as months do. I knit on the sock some, and then I didn’t knit on the sock for days at a time. Poor neglected sock! On August 29,  I finally grafted the toe. The sock is a slouchy sock, and as I knit it I had serious misgivings about whether it would fit Tom or not, which may account for not pressing on and finishing in 3 or 4 days, as I could have:


The sock scrunches up on the horizontal rib, making it appear shorter and wider than it really is. With a foot in it, it fills out nicely — more nicely than I had dared to hope as I knit. Tom is modeling here, and I think it is a very nice sock:

I especially like the appearance of the heel (no gusset hole!!)


The graft didn’t come out as well as I would like, but that is an issue with my execution of the graft, and not with the pattern, which is well written and easy to follow. Tom says that if I make another, he will wear them, and so I will. But maybe not tomorrow, or even next month. Because let’s face it, knitting socks for a man who wears 9 1/2 EEEE(E) shoes requires courage. It truly is an act of love.

LYS Destination: Birmingham, Alabama

by Lee Louise

We all have our favored LYS — the local yarn store. I have two that I visit often, here in the Memphis area, but that doesn’t stop me from seeking out new yarns and new friends in new areas. My ongoing mission? To seek out new yarn communities, to boldly go where other knitters have gone before. And to go again!

In January 2015, my daughter was quite ill in Birmingham, and we made our first trip of many to that area. That is when I first stepped inside the doors of Memory Hagler Knitting where knit happenz in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and it was a beautiful sight. I was made welcome by the owner, who sat at a large rectangular table, helping her customers. And there was beautiful yarn, the balm for my troubled soul, displayed all around:


I joined the group at the table, and admired the yarn and enjoyed the camaraderie. Quantities of yarn in all colors, brands and fibers met my eyes:


I took a walk around the shop and saw buttons and patterns and books and shop samples and More Yarn:



Yesterday I got an email from KnitHappenz, advertising their Back to School Blowout Sale, which started today and will run Tuesday through Friday of next week, and I wish I could go, but I can’t this time.

I have only been to KnitHappenz four times, but the last time I walked in the door, Holly recognized me, asked after my daughter and grandkids, and made sure there was a place at the table for me. When my destination is Birmingham, KnitHappenz is my LYS!!






Name That Sweater

by Lee Louise

I have recently been digging old projects out from odd corners of the house (including my daughter’s closet), photographing them, and documenting them on Ravelry, that wonderful social medium for knitters and crocheters, spinners and weavers. I’ve made lots of friends there, joined several groups, and found sweaters that I had almost forgotten about, but not quite.

Let me state that I am, unequivocally, a self-confessed Kathy Zimmerman fan. Back in the 1990’s, my earliest cabled sweater was a Kathy Zimmerman design, and my first lace sweater was also a Kathy Zimmerman design. Then there were some cabled and basketweave vests for the men in my life… K.Z. designs, all. Whenever I looked through a new issue of one of the knitting-themed magazines, if there was a sweater that made me think, “I MUST knit that,” about 2/3 of the time it was designed by K.Z.

A few days ago, I had Sarah bring down the aforementioned blue-green cabled Knitaly wool cardigan (true color is the blue green in the top right picture):

and the deep red lace cardigan, which is decidedly not-wool and also decidedly a mystery yarn after all these years (true color is much deeper red than depicted in any of these pictures):

I no longer had any idea what they were called, or which issue of Knitter’s they were from, but I had just joined the Kathy Zimmerman group on Ravelry, and the ladies there offered to play “Name that sweater” with me. I was amazed at how quickly they solved my mysteries! The consensus (and I agree) was that the cabled sweater is the Diamond Cable Classic pattern (there were versions for both pullover and cardigan; I made the cardigan variant) from Knitter’s #45 Winter 1996 issue, and the lace sweater was the Cool Coral pattern from Knitter’s #50 Spring 1998 issue.

They have been worn, to the point of being worn out today. Sarah wore them to college in the mountain west. She wore them when she lived in England for a year and a half. She wore them until all the buttons came off the red sweater (none sewn on again, and missing for years now), and until the cabled sweater’s wool sprouted holes. Unwearable? Yes, but so well loved I don’t think she has ever considered recycling them when my back was turned. They were made with love, and have been worn with love, and are now preserved with love and rich with memory.

K.Z.’s most recent design that just came out in the Interweave Knits 20th anniversary issue (Fall 2016) is called Neota, and is high on my list of wannaknits. I mean, just LOOK at it —

So classic. So cabled. So Kathy Zimmerman!! Neota Cardigan — You are MINE!!!



Mystery Hat

by Lee Louise

If you knit, you know that these days many of the new knitting patterns are rendered in chart form. Being a math major, charts make sense to me, and I use them faithfully, referring to the written instructions only minimally. I also encourage others to use charts, and have taught workshops on this topic.

Recently, I designed a “mystery” hat for my Tuesday night sit and knit group to knit with me. Why a mystery? Because I didn’t know what its finished form would look like when I started it. I knew that it would have a roll brim, that it would incorporate a medley of knit-purl textured stitch patterns divided by purled welts, that it would be a “slouchy” hat as opposed to a beanie, watchcap, pillbox or some other type of hat, and that it would have an i-cord drawstring at the stop, so it could also be worn as a cowl.

I watched it grow:

And as it grew, I came to believe that I had a keeper. It is done now, and I am still surprised by its awesomeness. It has a roll brim and textured panels divided by purl welts, as planned:

When tied tight, the i-cord at the top forms a charming rosette (a delightful surprise):


It looks good without a head or with:

With a ponytail or without:

And also as a cowl:


If you’re wondering whether I knit a gray hat AND a beige hat, I did not. All the pictures are photos of the same hat. The true color is gray, specifically it is Baruffa Merinos Sei’s light gray colorway, and I estimate it took about 300-325 yards of this wonderful 100% merino yarn to make a hat with a 24 inch circumference that is roughly 9 1/2 inches tall before cinching. The pattern is also sized for smaller heads.

It’s worth every yard of the three balls of yarn I pilfered from my stash!

P.S. The pattern is currently a work-in-progress, but I am working on it, and I’ll let you know when it’s published and available.




by Lee Louise

I passed by what is left of the Richardson Towers today. My daughter Katherine had a scholarship that included tuition, room, board, books… and she lived in Richardson Towers for three years. It wasn’t that we lived that far from campus. Indeed, her first day of class as a freshman? She stopped by home for breakfast on her way to class because it was on the way!

Memories are fleeting. As the old is demolished, the replacement dormitory rises behind:


The public school children went back to class last Monday, and there are new obstacles to dodge on my way to work. School buses. Children in crosswalks. Crossing guards. I leave five minutes earlier to get to work on time. But, in two more Mondays, it will be even worse — probably 10-15 minutes worth of worse. On that day, classes will start at the university, and the traffic!!!  The backups at the traffic lights!!! The jaywalking pedestrians!!!

The incoming freshman won’t see a memory, just a dusty construction (destruction?) site behind a wall of blue plastic, which will soon be an empty lot. For them, progress.

But not for me. I still remember Katherine.

Sisterly Affection

by Lee Louise

My husband has three older sisters. My son has three older sisters, and he turned out pretty well, I think, rising manfully above their efforts to teach him his place and keep him in it.

Eight of my nine grandsons, two of whom were born in 2016, have an older sister.

Sisterly love is so sweet.