Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is it winter already!?!

This week we had weather in the mid 70s.
Yesterday morning we had green grass and flags in the yards getting ready for work on our street. There's a duck apparently guarding the street for us.
Can't see him - here's a closer shot.
Looks like he's decided to protect the manhole cover.
But that was yesterday -

Yup. it's Minnesota I heard we have had snow as late as May 26. GIVE ME A BREAK!

I have a 30 mile bike ride for MS in 2 weeks and I haven't even got the tired pumped up yet. Speaking of the MS bike ride - there's a link over on the right if you want to donate to MS. Thanks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Actual Knitting Content

I finally got my act together and took a couple pictures of the little bit of knitting I've been doing. Just to prove I really am working on "The socks that will not be finished", here's a shot of them so far. Well - sort of a shot. My model wasn't quite up to the job of standing by them and looking cute. He was busy protecting this week's junk mail.

I dump the junk mail in a pile all week and then Saturday or Sunday I go through and throw out the paper in recycling, the stuff with "credit card applications" in the shredder, and the plastic and other junk in the mail in the garbage. It's amazing how much my folks still get. It's been almost 2 years since they lived here. I've never bought, donated, or in any other way acknowledged the junk mail but - it just keeps coming. Obviously, many companies don't think too green!

Back to the socks.
These socks are still not done. Each sock is 1 skein of Maizy so far. They aren't long enough for my SIL yet but, I'm impressed at how much yardage is on each skein. I've got one more and will split it between the two socks and see how long these suckers can get.

Stitches Midwest
I signed up for 2 classes at Stitches Midwest this August. One of them is Cat Bordhi's sock class on Sunday. It's based on her new book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters". She has several ways to change where the gusset "increase" is and thus create very unique socks. I made the first baby sock last night to see how they worked. It's the Little Sky Sock.

See how the increases are on either side of the front.

That means the sides go straight down to the heel. I can see some pretty interest patterning ideas with increases being in different places! This should be a fun class.
In the meantime - Chief has been helping me knit. he snuggles in between my legs and rests on my tummy. Often he'll help hold the yarn for me. Having a warm purr near me seems to help my knitting mojo - at least until he decides to climb up on my chest!

Why does Chief get all the pictures today? I'm cute too. AND I'm awake! - Bert

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Brain is a terrible thing to waste

The past couple years have given me an opportunity to watch how the brain works or, more accurately, how the brain ceases to work. You've all heard me talk about dealing with memory challenged parents. Nothing new there but I decided to take time and ponder how they are different and how the are the same.

Dad bought a computer about 10 years ago and attempted to learn how to get his financial records on it. He created a basic spreadsheet and then went on to play casino games on it - a lot.
If you couldn't find him chances were he was down on the computer playing. At the same time Mom would go down to the computer once a month and try to type up the Women's group minutes for church. Once a month I would get the panic phone call - she messed things up, there was a big black blob (highlighting) all over the computer and she lost everything. Toolbars would disappear. It was very tiring, but she wouldn't give up. I just had to come over once a month, retype everything and get the computer back to the way it used to be. She never learned but wouldn't admit she couldn't learn a new thing, she'd argue and get defensive. Dad on the other hand started to forget what he had learned and quietly gave up using the computer even for casino games.

About the same time his garden started looking shabby. Dad has always had the best yard and garden in the neighborhood. He grew Easter Lily trees, poinsettia bushes. Give him a dying rose and you'd end up with an award winning rose. That slowly went away. He knew it. He'd talk about it and he accepted it. A couple summers ago during a heat wave the A/C died. He got hot and tired and forgot to take his insulin for (the best I can figure) over a week. By the time I figured out what was going on his blood sugar was over 400. He had pretty much starved his brain because the brain needs glucose to function and the only way to get glucose is by having insulin carry it across from the blood stream to the tissues that need it. So - within a one week period my Dad, who was having some memory problems, lost the ability to care for himself without guidance.

The interesting thing about him was, he was still very articulate and would let you know he didn't remember things. "Sorry, that's gone. I can't remember anymore." If you ask him a math story problem - no problem- he'd give you the answer. If you ask him what season it was. No clue. Last fall I asked him the season and gave him clues - it's starting to get cold, the leaves are turning bright colors, kids are starting to go back to school. Nothing could get him to remember.

Almost 2 years later he lives in a much smaller world. He watches TV but can't remember what he saw. Can't decide what to eat at a restaurant even if I only give only give him 2 choices. If I give him one choice he knows if it sounds good or not but two - can't remember long enough to make a decision. He losing his past and can't remember the house he grew up in. We talked about the house last summer but now it's gone. But can still play Blackjack. He doesn't know how to stay at the table and finish supper if there's something else going on. But - all in all he seems happy most of the time. His small world seems to work for him as long as I don't take him out into the big world too often.

Mom on the other hand is a totally different memory loss. Hers is one of denial and being defensive. After Dad's move to memory care we moved Mom to the apartment they had picked out. It's right next door to Dad's place and seemed like a great solution. It's assisted living and has a restaurant on the main level. Mom's memory problem is a lack of ability to learn anything new. After all this time she still doesn't understand that Dad is not going to get better, she doesn't knot her apartment number. She doesn't understand the time that has taken place - "Oh has it been that long!?" Last week she didn't recognize her building and argued with my uncle about whether or not she lived there. She doesn't remember conversations and will argue with the person if they try to remind her of it. Her memory lose is one of fighting every step of the way but not having what she needs to be able to cope so she argues, she goes into denial, she makes things up. She spends a great deal of time worrying and not being happy. I didn't realize how bad her memory was until she list her coping mechanism - Dad. He's not there to cover for her anymore.

Mom is getting closer everyday to needing the full time memory care of Dad's place but I keep holding off. The people where she lives watch over her and give her as many reminders as they can. We have meals taken care of, a housekeeper once a week, a hairdresser on site. She's created a world she can live in but she will not allow herself to accept that world or accept her memory loss.

Two people- same problem but two totally different ways of coping and having the problem show itself. My goal - to keep both of them as happy, safe and comfortable as I can and maintain my memory and sanity & keep my own life. It's an interesting balancing act but, it really isn't that hard (most days). Good thing I have knitting!

My advice to all of you. Knit like there's no tomorrow because activities like knitting help prevent memory loss problems! (see this article)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sometimes you have have to babble

I've been doing a project for someone the past couple weeks that has taken a great deal of my evening time. So - not so much to blog or read other blogs. And, unfortunately, not too much knitting time. Don't feel bad for me. The project is exciting and will be of great help to the person I'm doing it for. It's definitely worth losing a little knitting time.

In the meantime I figured I'd just pop on and let everyone know I'm not being lazy about blogging, just don't have anything to post about.

Chief and Bert spend most of their time being cute or sleeping.

OK Mom, is this cute enough? - Bert

The folks are the same.
Work is - well - work.'Nuf said on that subject....
The weather is getting better-worse-better-not so worse... I think spring might actually be here but I don't want to tempt the weather fates by declaring it is actually here. That's asking for another snow storm by doing that!
I'm being terrible about my self remodeling. I need to get back to paying attention to myself. The MS30/60 bike ride is May I have to get on the bike NOW. But the weather just doesn't behave. I think this weekend will be good for riding. Keep your fingers crossed.

Finally, since there has been little knitting except for "The Sock that will not be finished" (SIL's Maizy 1x3 rib really long socks), I will show you something I knit long ago.

This is a knit panel that I used to teach knitting with "found" items. In the case of this panel it's a really thin cotton yarn (the black) about the size of crochet cotton and sewing thread. The background is 6 strands of sewing thread. I knit for a while and would break off one of the strands and grab another shade of the same color or slowly work toward the next colorway in an effort to blend the colors to look like a sunset. The picture isn't the best resolution about it gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Well, I need to get back to the secret project so I may not be blogging for a few more days. Have a great weekend if I don't "see" you before then.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Favorite Things

Many other Twin Cities bloggers have already left their posts about seeing the Yarn Harlot this week. Well, now it's my turn. I heard about the event from another blogger right on the first day tickets were being offered so I hustled off an email and got 2 tickets without thinking about who I would bring. I ended up inviting one of my new knitters.

A has been knitting since late January and took to it like nobody's business. Since she started, she's made several "ugly scarves", blanket for her daughter's baby doll, and has started a pair of the generic garter st/1x1 rib slippers. The reason A makes what she terms ugly scarves is because she has a VERY tight budget. Husband health problems and a daughter in college have sucked their budget dry. Nothing leftover for yarn so she takes any scraps she can find and knits with them. She loves knitting and needed a good evening out so - I invited her.

I work south Minneapolis area and we live in the north Minneapolis area. The event was over in St Paul. That a bit of driving. Usually not too bad but I had to do it in rush hour and at the beginning of our strange and awful rain/sleet/snow storm. Left work at 3pm got up to the north side and stopped by my house to pick up "The Sock that would not be finished" (The Maizy sock for my SIL - still not done!) Anyway - grabbed sock, camera, directions, changed out of company logo shirt and into a knit vest and I hustled out to A's house. Picked her up at 4:30 and off the Subway to grab sandwiches. Then we spent WAY TOO LONG driving through nasty weather and traffic and finding very creative side roads to St Paul. We got to the door at 6pm exactly when they opened. After that the evening was warm and cozy and delightful - everyone forgot the weather.

Everyone sat around knitting, talking about the weather, trying to figure out who was who on Ravelry. Pretty much a huge knit night until 7pm.

At 7pm The event started with The Yarnery Family Singers. They delighted us with their versions of - How do you hold a Knitter like the Harlot; Favorite Things and Stephanie (sung to Edelweiss tune). There are YouTube versions of these if you do a search on "Yarn Harlot Yarnery". Once they were done entertaining us we all sang Oh Canada.

Then Stephanie came. She delighted us with her stories and told us about how knitting can help prevent Alzheimer's (that's how I got my friend to start knitting!)

She graciously signed many, many books and held socks of people while people held her sock. She smiled the whole way through. I can't imagine how tired she must be with her current schedule. But - she is the Harlot and we all adore her.

I'm holding the traveling sock while Stephanie is holding A's first slipper and "The sock that would not be finished"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Knitters Amaze me

The knitting world is absolutely filled with amazing people. People who write designs, people who podcast, people who create websites and zines for all of us to enjoy.

I've always been blown away by the amount of time people give their craft. Very few podcasters make any money from all their time and effort to create something for all of us to listen to. Many of the websites that offer us large amounts of information are done without money. Unfortunately this means some of the websites we come to know and love go away. The people who created them need to move on with their lives for time or money reasons. This is the fate this week of one of the web zines we are all used to having around. Magknits sent a notice out April 8th saying they have decided to end to website. It will be missed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New Knitting Group

What happened?!?
I've been a little busy to read all the bogs I have listed in bloglines and I just noticed after having read several to catch up I still have 178 to read. Have I been that busy? No. What happened?

My last post was Wednesday. Since then I've done the usual work, sleep,etc. - been to a new knitting group, celebrated a friend's birthday, sorted through more of my parents stored stuff, and knit. Obviously what I didn't do is read blogs. I'll work on that later....

The new knit group is the NW Twin Cities Burbs Knit group started on Ravelry. We met at Grace Church in Brooklyn Park for the first time last Thursday. we'll meet the first Thursday of every month so if anyone is interested - let me know and I'll get you more information or - if you're on Ravelry - check out the group. We had 8 people. Not bad for a first time. Others will be joining us starting next month. We got together about 6pm till 9pm. Some came a bit late, some had to leave early but all had fun.

Friday night my gang knit night did not come together again. That's now a month since we've been able to meet because of multiple life events getting in the way. On the positive side one friend is fully hooked on knitting. She's made several doll blankets, scarves and is working on a pair of slippers. I'll be bringing her to the Yarn Harlot Thursday night to fully get her sucked into this obsession.

Saturday we celebrated a friends birthday by gathering at a restaurant with her family and some friends. Afterward over to her house for cake and great conversation. Afterward I worked on a tam I started Thursday night. I had some Vimar 1991 yarn from Italy. I got it had Needlework Unlimited Outlet and have never heard of it before. It is a loose twist, single ply wool with a bit of other stuff. I made the Urban Necessity Beret from It's blocking right now so I'll get up a picture later this week.

Twin Cities readers take note: Next weekend is free recycling of electronics, mercury items, etc. Go to and you'll get a list of what you can recycle and where.

Enjoy your week and be sure to take time to knit and enjoy the coming of spring, if spring is coming to your area. Northern Minnesota - sorry you got so much more snow but I'm glad it's not here in the Twin Cities.

OH! I can't let an entire post go without mentioning the boys! Chief and Bert are being very quiet and have spent most of the day sleeping. Rain makes for good sleeping weather. Nothing exciting to take picture of unless you want to see yet another pictures of sleeping cats.....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to me

Today is my blogiversary. One year. Believe it or not I’m amazed I kept this up. I’m a great starter but the follow through isn’t always there. Or, I should say, the old me was that way. The past month I starting working on changing that (self-remodeling project).

For my special day I decided I’d talk a bit about what I’ve learned from other blogs and this whole new way of communicating with other people.

1. There are a lot more knitters out there than the world thinks. Over 100,000 on Ravelry so far. That's a serious amount of knitters!
2. Knitters are not just little old ladies sitting around making ugly scarves that you get and have to wear when they come to visit.
3. Knitters are computer savvy and know how to use the computer to reach out to others for help, research and just plain fun.
4. When bloglines says you have 5 subscribers but many more than 5 people visit the blog every day it’s time to figure out how everyone finds out when I put up a new post. So – how do you all check blogs? Bloglines, some other server, check in everyday in case there’s something new? Just curious.
5. A LOT of knitters have cats – many more than 1 cat.
6. Blogs are very powerful. If someone posts a new word on their blog (say “kinnearing”) it rushes around the world blog to blog and ends up becoming a new word mentioned in an article of an important newspaper.
7. I know a lot more about knitting possibilities and patterns then I would if I didn't have a blog and hang out on Ravelry.

I’m glad I became a part of this community and plan to keep on sharing dumb stories about the cats, successes and problems of knitting and I’ll throw in a couple of stories about my self-remodeling I'm doing.

Thanks for reading and commenting. You’re all the greatest!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sweaters and Bike Rides

I finished the Sensational Shirttail Sweater from Knitter's magazine book - Arans & Celtics. After I sewed the seams together and crocheted the bottom edge, I set up out for a final blocking. At the Chat House we use a special blocking technique known as the Bert Block.
Once the blocked item is dry Bert (occasionally Chief) announces its readiness to be warn by napping all over it.

The sweater took a bit over 9 hanks of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes bulky in Taupe. Size 10.5 needles. I started it March 1 and finished it (other than buttons) March 29.

I'm not one to take pictures of myself wearing the things I make but I had a special request to show this one so her it is. For some reason my body is sinking on one side and not the other. I think it's because of holding the camera. I hope it's cause I'm holding the camera. I have enough issues to deal with besides having half my body sliding off the face of the earth!

The other reason I'm showing a picture of myself is to bring up the MS bike ride again. Imagine this body riding 30 miles. I will be working had for any donation you give. I will sweat. I wail get leg cramps. I will end up with a migraine from the heat by the end of the ride. But, you know what? It's worth it. I can suffer through this 30 mile ride but my friend would not have been able to. Her balance and strength were shot because of the MS. Think about donating but clicking on the link to the right and I'll add your name to the list of possible prize winners. Thanks to all the people who have already donated!

Tomorrow is my blogiversary. One year. WOW! I'll save all my blog thoughts for tomorrow. Until then I'll spend the night knitting up something else for Bert to sleep on.