Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanks Elizabeth

August 9, 1910 - November 30, 1999

Cast something on in her honor on November 30th. This was suggested on the Zimmermaniacs group on Ravelry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where in the World......

I decided I was going to start Tip Tuesday but didn't quite make it so what can I do for Wednesday? I want to get something going that is regular and helpful. It needs to be middle of the week because Monday and Friday get busy - the weekend is unreliable so mid week it is. After pondering what it could be, staring at the little spot on my finger, picking at the little skin bit on my cuticle, petting Chief, playing with Bert, changing the TV channel multiple times, closing the shade (why does it get dark SO early nowadays!?), and doing just about anything I could think of but think, I came up with a plan. Ready? Here it is:

Worldwide Wednesday

Are you excited? Are you wondering "what the heck is she talking about!?" Here's the deal. For at least one week or weekly if I can remember to do this, we will explore the world and things knitterly. Museums, shops, blogs, podcasts, whatever is in the world that promotes knitting. It's a wide topic but I figured I need something fairly broad to keep this up more than a few weeks.

First up - The Victoria & Albert Museum

I LOVE this place. Every time I go to London this is one of the first places on my list to go see. It's not your typical museum. Not many paintings and statues but instead it's a craft museum. They have textiles you wouldn't believe including fabric from King Tut's tomb and little,tiny perfect lace samples. They have a clothing section of historical outfits. They have stained glass - wrought iron - quilting - crochet and yes folks - a big knitting section.

If you're not able to get to London in the near future you can enjoy quite a bit of the V&A in your own home. They have a large knitting section on the web site with oh so much to explore.
The sections of this web site include: Knitting Items from the Collections; Share Your Knitting with Others; Your Stories of Learning to Knit; Regional Knitting in the British Isles & Ireland; Knitting Designers; Knit a Work of Art; 1940s Patterns to Knit; Knitting Patterns for Children; Free Knitting Patterns from Rowan; Knitting in the Archives; Knitting Links; How to Knit on Video; Knitting Podcasts; and Knitting Booklist. Clearly they believe in knitting.

Since I have no pictures from inside the V&A, I leave you with a pic of a yarn shop in Wales. This is Undy Yarns in Magor, Monmouthshire. The building is a converted church. They're still in business according to the web site.

Let me know if you like the idea of Worldwide Wednesday. Next week - Shetland Knitting - WWII Knitting and maybe a few other museums on line.

Stay warm - knit.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas is being unpacked

The only way I know to deal with parent problems is to involve myself in something totally different. That's how knitting became so important to me again. I sent out an email to friends and family and attached the article about knitting helping "prevent" Alzheimer's. Well - not just knitting, any creative brain activity but we'll go for knitting. I told my friends and family I miss teaching and I think they need to save themselves from the fate of my parents so I'm starting a knitting class for them at my house right after Christmas. we'll meet once a month or more depending on their interest. SURPRISE! I already got a positive response. My cousin with the out of town most of the time husband so she has to be both parents and haul around the kids everywhere said she's interested in something for her. She wants to learn to knit. GOTCHA! Now to work on the other people that got my email.

While I'm at it, anyone living in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis and interested in joining our little group in January - email me and I'll get you the details.

Meanwhile - I hauled out the Christmas boxes today and will start decorating over the next week. Santa Claus was anxious to come out and say "HI!"

He's from Jean Greenhowe's knit doll books. I used some of my machine knitting acrylic for him I don't remember what yarn but it's between fingering and sport weight. If you go to her web site you will be amazed at the dolls available to knit. There's also a few free patterns to try out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gout - what a pain!

Long rambling dementia story ahead… good knitting stuff below....
First off – the gout is not me, it’s Mom. I just get to deal with all the things involved in her getting gout. Gout, as I’ve learned the past couple days, is a build up of uric acid creating crystals in joints. Usually the big toe the first time around. It’s kind of like having a kidney stone in your toe, same stuff creates both problems. It can come from too much meat and other causes. But no matter how you look at it, it’s swollen, it's ugly, it's painful.

Thanksgiving started quicker than I thought. I called Mom multiple times to remind her when to be ready and called Dad’s caregivers to reminder them not to let him sit down for the noon meal. Mom was to be ready at noon for me to pick her up. When I called at 11:30 I didn’t get her so I figured I better head over there NOW so I’d have time to find her before she sat down to eat at her place. When I got there 10 minutes later she was ready except she had a flimsy sweatshirt instead of a coat. I ran up to her apartment and got a coat. Gave it a once over to see there was still chow mein from 2 weeks ago in the ‘frig (mental note – clean Mom’s ‘frig). Back down stairs and we headed over to Dad’s to get him. He was mostly ready except to put a shirt on over his t-shirt and grab his coat and pills. We were off and heading to my cousin’s almost half hour earlier than I planned. I've learned to give myself ½ hour more than I think I need when getting both of them – it’s a dementia coping thing. This time they fooled me and were ready. Oh well, better than being way late. Can't keep that juicy bird waiting!

Anyway, Mom has had a sore foot on and off from wearing crappy shoes her whole life so that she has a corn on her 2nd smallest toe that can best be described as Devil’s Tower- it’s tall and has a wide flat plateau. At my cousin’s house I told her to take off her shoes and just go bare foot for the day. By the time we got ready to go home her foot was swollen and sore. Turned out it wasn’t the corn but her big toe. By Friday morning this was nasty! Her big toe was about 3 times it’s normal size except for a little tiny toe nail sticking out and it was red and shiny and really sore to the touch. So – off to the doctor. After quite a bit of time there, a shot in her back side for infection and 2 prescriptions later, we headed back to her place. I got to spend more time getting the pills, getting her settled in after she had supper in her place’s restaurant, and cleaning the frig (you do NOT want to hear what I found in there!) So, my day off ended up being over 5 hours of Mom toe stuff. The pills should clear things up very quickly but getting Mom to remember to take them is another story.

I bought one of those pill boxes with 4 slots per day. Nice and big, easy to see and read. Each day for a few days I put in one white pill breakfast and supper and 1 green pill for all three meals. Each day can be taken out of the main box for easy use. So do you think I can actually get her to take the pills at the right time, even with me calling to remind her? Nope. I spent 15 minutes on the phone asking if she took her supper pills (we had the same conversation at breakfast and lunch). After my question and her total lack of understanding till I repeat several times we get into the “No, don’t look at Monday, only look at Saturday” phase of our conversation. Followed by her saying Saturday is empty but then Saturday has 2 pills, then it’s empty, then…. You get the picture. Sorry about the ranting. I just needed to babble to someone and my family hears about these things way too often. I have to spread out my frustration a bit to deal with life sometimes. At least it's a finite time period and not forever. When we go back Thursday to have things checked out I'm going to have all her meds reviewed - start fresh and sign her up for daily visits from the nursing staff at her apartment.

Now on to some fun stuff.

Chief and Bert helped me open up my new toy.

I finally got a digital scale because I was worried about having enough of my pretty sock yarn and didn’t want to have to unknit. Turns out no problem. With the knitting needles I’m only at 42 g with over 60 g left. This scale is from Target and works in oz or grams up to 72 grams. It also has a nutritional program with it so it can serve double duty.

The sock I was worried about was my All Things Heather sock. I'm using Wendy's Eyelet Rib Sock pattern. I like the yarn and the pattern.

I finally finished the first Stars and Stripes sock. What? You haven’t heard about this sock?

Probably because I started the sock last summer for 4th of July and it kind of got lost in the pile of stuff until today. It’s Dalegarn Stork – 100% cotton. The sock took one skein. It’s toe up and I’ll be writing up the pattern one of these days. It’s just off the needles so is in bad need of blocking. First picture is the more accurate color.

Meanwhile, this weekend Bert has been busy trying to get into any and every box in the house. This one holds finished Christmas knitting. Maybe he smells the wool? Maybe he's just like to snoop in every box he can find.

Chief on the other hand likes long weekends to catch on on his 23 hours a day of sleeping. Maybe he has a good idea!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Take time to give thanks

Time to look back and give thanks. It's a good think to do. In today's world it's so easy to get involved in the day to day activities that we forget to take the time to be thankful. Tomorrow morning before I go to get Mom & Dad ready to go to my cousins house I've decided to take 1/2 hour to review the past year and write in my journal. Look at the good things to be thankful for. I know there are many. I decided to share a couple silly ones with you.

I'm thankful that little critters hold such promise of companionship and create warmth in my house that would be lacking without them. Who knew these little ones would engulf so much of my heart!

Chief's first day as part of the family

Bert a few weeks before joining the family

One other thing I'm grateful for - we live in a country that let's one totally disagree with it's leader and yet you can speak your mind and actually meet the guy in person.

This shot was taken a second before I shook hands with GWB in the summer of 2004. I found out about 1 hour before this picture that he was going to be stopping in my home town so - what the heck - I decided to check things out and ended up in the secure area shaking his hand.
Check out all the guys in black and the totally serious looks they're giving the crowd.
I wish all of you a wonderful family time on Thanksgiving and wish for you the time to reflect on all the things you are thankful for. I know family and yarn will be on your list as they are on mine!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And the next strong man is.......

The past 2 weeks I have come home to find things rearranged in the house. Today I found out which one of the boys was the culprit but first - what's been happening.

In the past I'll come home to piles of toys where I didn't leave them. Bert likes to gather things together. Mine, mine, mine! The kitty tunnel is frequently tipped over and in new places in the living room. That's both of them but often Chief. Get an 18 lb cat into a thin cloth tunnel and well - cat flopping over the take a nap wins out over tunnel structure every day.

So now it's the kitty jungle gym that has become the focus of attention. (I did mention I have WAY too many kitty toys and structures in the house, didn't I?) Well, when I've been coming into the den after work the jungle gym has been frequently in the middle of the room instead of pushed up against the wall by the window.

Normal jungle gym location at wall.

First clue about what's been going on - Bert loves the mouse - A LOT!

Well, today I worked from home in the morning before a meeting and Bert went up to the mouse, grabbed it and dragged the entire jungle gym into the middle of the room while trying to take the mouse with him. This cat is crazed. I can only figure he wanted to have this mouse join the rest of his toys in the tunnel where I found 3 other toys stashed. Either that or he's practicing for the next strong man competition.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A 'Little" Bit of Knitting

It's been an interesting weekend. A friend's sister was having a small birthday gathering Friday night so I got a chance to meet up with them and enjoy some good company. Birthday girl decided to play a few games, one was the shower game of throwing dice and if you get doubles - you win a prize. For some reason I kept throwing doubles. It was kind of embarrassing. But the second half of the game was "steal prizes from Jill" portion of the game. Every time someone got doubles they could steal a prize from anyone else. I did go home with a few prizes including a pen with a snowman snow globe on the top.

Saturday was to be our yearly work party but I sat down at 3pm and woke up at 8:30. OOPS! Missed the party. Guess I was tired. The rest of the weekend has been going through some boxes, cleaning, trying to get this house back in order from the basement work - you know - the usual.

I did get a bit of knitting done. I finished the Cable Gloves. They are from Vogue Knitting- Fall 2007 magazine.

I couldn't get a good shot because the sun didn't make an appearance today so bear with the slightly off color and lack of contrast. If the gloves are clear enough for you, Chief is here to distract you.

I discovered something while blocking these gloves. Acrylic dries I ton faster than wool! These were made out of Woolease (80% acrylic/ 20% wool). They dried before I set them down practically verses the 5 years it seems to take wool items to dry.

Let's look at what I found is the boxes I went through today. The first box had some old sweater samples from when I had the shop. They're machine knit but, still, I designed them and thought you might like to see a few oldy-moldys.

First up - my Henry VIII sweater. When I finished the sweater it looked unfinished so I added feathers, buttons, a necklace and Henry seems more regal. The yarn on his fur collar and his bread is a boucle so it's nice and textured. He's probably about 15 years old.

Next, a knit-weave vest. This was one of my biggies. I think I made about 6-10 of these with different knit weave patterning on each one. I sold this pattern from California to Texas; Minnesota to Florida and then it sold in England. The pattern was more an instructional thing. I gave a list of several vest patterns at the time that would work and wrote directions on how to knit weave and how to use that as fabric for a combination "regular" material & knit material vest. At the time, it was one of my most popular seminars.

For those of you who have never seen a knitting machine I'll try to explain the process a bit without using technical terms. Basic knitting on machine isn't - POOF - magic it's done. It's much quicker than hand knitting but you still have to do all the shaping, cables, etc. by hand. In knit weaving you have the lay in the second yarn by hand. The machine bed has a boat load of little hooky needle things that get grabbed by the iron looking thing (carriage) and pulled out. This opens the little hook and the yarn drops into the needle while the old loop is pushed to the back of the needle. When the needle gets pulled back, the new yarn stays in the hook and the old loop falls off making a stitch. That's basic knitting. There's other things that go on to do 2 color knitting, slip-stitch, etc. but we won't talk about that now.

To make knit weaving you use 2 yarns at the same time. One yarn is making a basic stitch (the pink in my vest picture) while the second yarn (the fancy yarn) is laid into needles in different patterns creating the floating design. If you were to look at the backside of this piece you wouldn't see the fancy yarn, it just floats on the top being caught in by the base knitting.

I have one last item. It's in the category of "what was I thinking". The mother of my friend I mentioned above used to make miniature things and sell them at shows. Friend's husband got in the act and made the wood items for the business and miniature photos/magazines. I decided I was going to give them a few knit/craft items and started knitting. I crocheted a doily out of thread and decided to knit something. I just found my box of the items I made and never gave to friend's mom.

Impressed? Let's take a closer look at the knitting shall we?

Well, here it is with my pointer finger for a reference. If you look close you can see the knitting needles are a couple of straight pins. What was I thinking?!?! I was smart enough to glue the loops to the "needles" after I finished so it didn't pulled out and unravel. I can't imagine the people that make full sweaters and socks this size and smaller.
Well, for the rest of the weekend - well - the rest of today - I need to get back to working on the basement. I may get done before the next decade but- don't hold your breath!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Knitting Confessions

I was at sock group last month doing one of my usual little odd knitting tricks and started getting stares. Once I explained what I was doing everyone laughed, admitted they were watching this odd thing and thought it was pretty funny. What was it? I was moving a little piece of yarn every row I knit. They thought I was being compulsive. Nope. I was keeping track of when to increase for the gusset.

What I do is - get a small piece of yarn and have it setting next to me on the chair arm if I'm at home or on the table at the group. If the piece is horizontal I knit all around. Once I get to the beginning of the next round I move the yarn to vertical - this marks an increase round. That way I can talk and not worry about keeping track of which row I'm on. I do the same thing when it's a small number of rows for a pattern repeat. If it's a 4-6 row repeat I'll have 4-6 pieces of yarn on the chair arm next to me. As I finish a row I move a piece of yarn to a new spot on the arm. When they're all at the new place, I start over again. I know - it's bizarre but it works for me.

My other odd habit is knitting from my computer. If I'm working on a complex design - overall cable design for example or lace (the mystery shawl 3). I get the pattern in excel or a pdf file that I can save as a jpg. Then I bring up the picture of the graph, enlarge it to where I can see it okay and knit from the laptop sitting on my lap (with a cat sleeping next to it). As I finish each row I highlight the row finished with the graphic program I use to show the graph. The computer screen is at a great angle to look at, if I'm having a tired eye day I just zoom in on the picture.

(I'm stilll stuck with my cell phone pics. The camera will be back tomorrow.)

What are your odd knitting habits?

Monday, November 12, 2007


WARNING - really bad cell phone pictures ahead!

Well, the cats out of the bag. I told some of my family this weekend about the blog which means I have to watch what I say - no Christmas present talk or other things I don't want them to know about. Not that the blog has been very revealing but it was my secret little thing that no body who really knew me knew about. Freedom of anonymity is gone.

My bro and SIL came in town Friday and are still here but they're staying at Mom's apartment. They're seeing first hand what it's like to deal with the memory problems. We did get the whole family together (cousins, aunts, uncles) together at a small Italian restaurant Saturday night. everyone enjoyed the evening. SIL told LA fire stories (she's a captain for LA county). Dad seems to follow the conversation on his end of the table pretty good. Afterward some of the family came over to the house for a while to talk some more. Naturally Bert vanished when they arrived, while Chief allowed some of them to pet him.

I'm so handsome, of course I'd let them pet me! - Chief

I did manage to do a little knitting this weekend. I cast on a glove to knit a little bit and the next time I looked down it was most done and a great deal of time had pasted. This is the Cabled Glove #29 in Vogue Knitting Fall 2007. It's in Woolease because the person I plan to give it to is not big on wool and I figured Woolease would give the glove a bit extra warmth and body over regular acrylic. The wrist required paying attention which is how it got done so fast. I didn't want to stop in the middle and have to figure out where I was!
I warned you the cell phone pics were bad! Better pics next post.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's a family weekend

I may be a blog-free zone for a few days.

My bro and SIL are flying in tomorrow afternoon from California. I like that we'll have cold weather, it reminds him what he's left! But - I have a house to clean - forget the basement it's still cement and piles of stuff from the work just done down there. But - the main level is in need of a lot of work - tonight - no sleeping for me!

Any why didn't I get more work done last night? I was pinned down.
Look into my eyes. You will do what I say and play with us. Forget the housework. - Bert

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pictures of flowers and cats

Okay - I've got a few minutes. Here's the pretty flowers!

And a close up of the pretty flowers.

Bert had to check them out.

Meanwhile, Chief found his sweet spot between my legs on the afghan I made back in 1973. Sure, I can remember when I made an old afghan but I can't remember my birthday - geeesh!
What else? Bert and his latest secret spot. He has the kitty cottage, the tunnel in the living room, the jungle gym and where does he go? The bookcase. I give up!

Finally, I've been watching Ballykissangel lately thanks to Netflix. It's a BBC series from Northern Ireland. Small town stories and a group of "characters". This one lost all his money so ended up getting a cell phone from frozen food labels. Check out his great new phone!

Guess I shouldn't leave without at least one knitting picture. I started the Stony Lace Scarf my Secret Pal sent me. It fingering weight Jade Sapphire Cashmere/Silk in Lupine (pale lavender). Very pretty, very soft.

Pretty, pretty Flowers

At work today I happen to look down at a piece of equipment that had the date on it sometime around 10am. It said Nov 6. Wait a minute that day was very familiar to me. How in the world did I not remember it was my birthday today! Is that one of the first signs of getting old or am I just that busy lately?

When I got to check emails I saw a couple Happy birthday emails. I also got a few cards and best of all - There waiting at the front door was a beautiful bouquet of flowers. My Secret Pal strikes again! I'm flying thru the house on the way out to take care of a parent thing but - when I get a chance to come up for air I will be sure to post pictures because they are SO pretty and have a big Happy Birthday balloon attached.

So - even though I'm a dweeb and can't even remember my own birthday my Secret Pal has her act together. THANKS!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

We Interupt this Life for some Knitting

The past 2 weeks have been quite busy. Two business trips, multiple parent care issues, a new site opening and having to set it up, the basement being water proofed, just life in general has been busy.
The basement has a new look to it - it would have been perfect to hold a Halloween party! The window in the upper part of the pic is one of my 4 new windows. Glass block with an air vent. Let the water try to get in now! (Never mind, I didn't say that. I don't want to tempt fate!)
Here's the waterproofing half way thru. After a day of jack hammers, the first crew laid a drain tile field, placed rocks over it and placed a drainage "cover" over that. Next day the second crew came in and put a new cement layer over this "mess". I have to wait a bit to re-tile but - it will be a nice warm, dry basement this winter.

Between all the things life did to keep me busy I did manage a bit of knitting, mostly in hotel rooms.

Before I show you the little bit of knitting I have a bit more knitting history to show you.

Yup. This is a 1983 postcard from Elizabeth Zimmerman herself to me. I deleted my address on it but it you can manage to read the note she mentioned a sweatshirt I knit and thought I should sent it to some magazines. I never did. It is however a most wonderful Lopi sweatshirt. I made it out of Lopi bulky with a hood, pockets and zipper up the front. It looks just like a regular sweater but is lopi-licious. EZ inspired me, mentored me and what little correspondence I did with her I treasure.
Now the knitting -
I finished the Smooshy socks. Pictures are a bit dark because the sun didn't grace us with it's presence today. Socks basics - Dream in Color Smooshy in diablo colbalt. Needles - size 2. Pattern - Sleepwalker Socks. I had quite a bit of yarn left over. I really like to subtle color change in the yarn.

Speaking of subtle color change - here's the beginning of the next pair of socks. The yarn is All Things Heather sock yarn in Raspberry. My Secret Pal gave it to me. The pattern is Wendy's Eyelet Rib Toe Up Sock.

My work for the weekend is done, unless I decide to clean the basement, get ready for my brother and SIL next week, get up to the other house to clean, paint the bathroom (finally), mow the lawn,.... or I'll just sit and knit for a while and watch TV.