Wednesday, May 21, 2008

She said yes and my baby turns 20!

Twenty years ago this moment, I held my new daughter in my arms. I was struck by how tiny and perfect she was, how much she looked like my sister and how foolish I had been to think I would have trouble sharing my love for Trevor with the "new baby".

Twenty. Good grief! Where did that time go? She hasn't been the easiest child and God knows, particularly during her teens, I was ready to sell her off to the traveling circus, but now she's twenty and all those attributes I found so trying have come home to roost.

From the time she was 5-6, I told people she was everything I wanted her to be in an adult woman...strong, independent, willful, unswayed by peer (or parental) pressure to do something she didn't want to...if only she would stifle those characteristics until she didn't live with me, we'd get along a whole lot better! And now, she IS that adult woman and all those same personality traits are serving us both well. She still has her moments, but overall she's become a wonderful person who I love to bits, who makes me proud and happy to be her mom. And now she's twenty. Ye can it be?

And Alana did say yes! T called from Italy a few days ago and you could hear his grin through the phone line. It was, as Alana said, "all perfect"...from the setting, the proposal, the ring, the timing...both sounded as happy as I've ever heard them. I'm thrilled and grateful they found each other and can only pray they continue to grow and thrive together. They are a perfect match and I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed at my own nachis!

Speaking of Alana, despite house inspections, appraisals, cleaning out Jane's and spending far too much time on Ravelry, I have done some knitting! I only bring Alana's name into this because I finally blocked the scarf I did with the yarn left over from her Christmas shawl. It is here....

and here....and here. It's the Scarf with French Trellis and something something border from Victorian Lace Today. (Why is it all those patterns have such convoluted names??)

It was an incredibly quick and easy knit and looks far more impressive than it was to make. Anyway, it's been done forever and now is finally finished, for which I'm happy.

Also on the lace front, I've all but given up on the Spring Mystery the mystery unfolded, I found I just wasn't wild about it. I have a hard time articulating what I do like about lace, but know what I don't like pretty quickly. This just had too much solid area for me and so, since I was utterly in love with the yarn, I used another ball of it to start my first ever faroese pattern from Anne Hanson.

It's started off a little tricksy because of the many charts and I will confess I used the text for several inches before switching to the charts. That was a challenge! I've been knitting off charts for so long, using the text is like flying blind...there is absolutely no sense of the pattern and was so much harder, I was actually shocked.

I'm very intrigued by the styling and, since it is bunched on a 24" needle and indistinguishable as more than a lump of something, I can't wait to see it all stretched out. It's going very quickly, despite the forever lengthening purl rows. But even these have been good as I finally downloaded my first audio book from the library. It's Water for Elephants and I'm loving it! Unfortunately, I can only listen during the purl rows as the knit rows take all my concentration, so it's a slow "read". Maybe I'm too one-side brained or something, but I can't imagine how people do both at the same time! Maybe if it were stockinette stitch or something, but not lace!

Anyway, progress photos (such as they are) are here:

In keeping with my inability to have just one WIP, I'm also working on this little scarf from Miriam's adorable and will no doubt be a Christmas gift for someone, although the color is mine, mine, mine. It's the perfect porch knit, four row repeat that is a cinch to remember. It's only mildly tedious and a good thing to have going when I need a break from the faroese.

I also finished the cotton socks. Note to self: you hate knitting cotton...even if it's only 50%. They are....okay, at best. Love the colors but the fabric itself leaves much to be desired.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I hate spring

The gardener in me cannot stay out of the backyard. I am drawn to it like moths to a flame and it kills me every day I stroll about. There's the lilac where Degan is buried, the crabapple the kids got me for Mother's Day, what, 12 years ago? The rose I dug up from Virginia's yard before she moved to Seattle, the July blooming irises from Diane's garden, the native Columbine I brought from the Whitingham house, along with the heliotrope from there. All the hostas and daylilies from Tom & can I ever replace these things? I can't take them all with me and if I could, what would I chose to leave behind? How could I ever decide. Each has its own history, its own memory and its own place in my heart.

These gardens, these plants have been such an enormous part of who I am and what I do for so long and I will never again have the time, incentive or health to reinvent similar gardens. And even if I could, they would never be the same. None would hold the memories, the stories, the joy of these.

I am drowning in spring fever with no place to take it. The sadness paralyzes me. When there is so much to be done, I want to climb under the covers and pretend this is all a bad dream. I need a dose of Maureen's wisdom to reframe myself...again. It's all I do lately. Emote, stifle, regroup; emote, stifle, regroup. Any and every possible distraction is seized upon like a drug...anything to keep from facing the reality of this state of being.

And I want to slap myself for it! It's not like I don't have a great place to go; it's not like it won't be quite wonderful in its own way, being there. I just hate that its not my idea but being shoved down my throat by the courts who saw Jim at his illustrious best as he spun out his false interpretation of the events. He's so good at lying, no one can top him and, without knowing him, he's so easy to believe. I can't go to the place that makes me so bitter about how our society treats women....I just can't go there.

I don't hate spring. I just hate this one.

Done in by a vacuum cleaner......

I love spring. I say this about virtually every season, but spring really IS my favorite. I drove to the airport yesterday (She's home!) and it was a visual delight all the way. I was assailed with every turn of the road by the stunning beauty of the crabapples, apples, pears, cherries and red buds, all in full and glorious bloom. It never ceases to take my breath away to see these 40' trees covered in flowers. The underpinnings of forsythia, azaleas, tulips, and daffodils made for a picture of riotous color and sensory overload. Even the dandelions made me happy. It's a trip I will miss...but only this time of year!

It's been an odd week of knitting. I got embroiled in a controversy on Ravelry with a KAL that went belly up. It didn't just fold, it imploded and the brouhaha that evolved was of mythic proportion. However, what started as anger and resentment, turned into laugh out loud humor, before coming full circle to anger and resentment once again. I won't even begin to describe it in any detail, because its a tale with so many twists and turns, it would take me all day to draw the frickin' map!

The plus side of it all was making some wonderful friends and sharing a ton of laughs...people can be so funny, given the freedom to express themselves and I sensed it was a first for many. Great to watch that spirit develop and to hear women who may not be used to voicing honest opinion, taking it on and reveling in it. Sergei must have thought I was nuts, laughing so hard at my computer screen, but then I question what perceptions of American society he's getting from living with me anyway!

The negative was that I did precious little knitting or much of anything else, reminding me once again how the computer sucks up time like a vacuum cleaner! I indulged myself even knowing it is NOT a luxury I have at all, but now the temptation has been removed and it's probably for the best.

The last 24 hours got very ugly and I've walked away, having been so misunderstood that I, in my foolishly hopeful way, made it worse by trying to explain myself. I was ultimately accused of name-calling and got several nasty messages about my words. Name-calling? Me! I, known for being the least judgmental person people calling?! just shows how limited the one-dimensional medium of writing can be.

I got so upset and cried, feeling guilty, anger and sad. Then I got pissed...mostly at myself. 100,000 people may be dead in Myanmar and I'm sad because I was treated rudely? Get a frickin' grip!

So, in the end, I'm back to knitting as a solitary sport...and, in truth, not going to be doing even much of that. It really is time to kick into full gear with the move. Still not sure if it's going to happen next month or more into July, but I can no longer allow myself the luxury of being paralyzed over where to start.

Okay, I can hear movement upstairs. She's home!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The River Runs Deep......

......the river of denial, that is. While this cleaning, sorting, selling and reorganizing my stash has been great and I'm thrilled to have done it, the reality is that it probably (most certainly!) wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the move.

Some days, I'm pretty excited and see it all as a time of possibility and adventure...a new start, the next chapter, etc. Other times, I'm nearly overwhelmed with the reality that I am losing my home which I have poured heart and soul into for more than twenty years. It feels particularly hard of late as the snow melts and my thoughts turn to gardening. I stand and stare at the yard and think, "this is the year I'm dividing those irises" or "I really need to move that rose." I wonder if that wisteria I planted on the old play set will finally bloom. I'm itching to get out there and see how much winter damage there is, see what made it and what didn't.

And then I realize that, this year, none of that matters. I won't be moving that rose or dividing those irises. It doesn't matter what survived and what didn't because, in a few months, these won't be my gardens anymore. It's almost more than I can bear and I have to shove the thoughts away before they plunge me into a deep and heartfelt sadness.

So, I just keep knitting and cleaning and try not to think about it. My latest efforts at the former resulted in these socks.......

 first Koigus. I loved, loved the colors and the yarn is nice but it's a pretty short put-up which meant a fair amount of concern that I'd have enough yarn. Consequently, they are a bit shorter than I like my socks to be and I may have inadvertently made my first Christmas gift! It's a disappointment, for sure, but life is too short to wear socks that don't fit...hand made ones especially. Not worth frogging, I'll just give them away and make myself others someday. Such is life, I guess.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For Howie

A former teacher, colleague, mentor and neighbor was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. This is so tragic on so many levels, not the least of which is that he underwent open heart surgery a year ago and thought his health issues were behind him. Additionally, as an academic man, knowing your brain is killing you is a whammy he just doesn't need...but then, who does??

He's taking it all in great spirits, and is a convivial as ever. He and Dianne recently added a porch to their home so he says it's going to be one on-going porch party every night, as friends and colleagues stop in to visit. He's sent out a blanket invitation to the world it seems and people are gathering whenever the weather suits.

As per my usual desire to make/give/present something, I decided to make this vest from the Green Mountain Spinnery book. Not unlike Howie himself, it is elegant yet simple, classic without glitz and glam and one of those looks that will never go out of style. I hope to get it to him within the next day or two and hope he can use it on these evenings that aren't quite warm enough yet to be true porch weather.

Bless you Howie and fight on!

Heading off in an entirely different direction, my next project is: ta da! The Burninator! Trogdor! I found the pattern on Ravelry and don't know how I can avoid making it for Trevor. He will have to laugh his butt off! (I can't believe I'm going to knit a stuffed toy....can dishcloths be far behind????)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Have We All Gone Mad???!

As I woke up this morning and got dressed, pulling on a pair of socks I had made last year, I noticed they were looking a bit less than stellar. No holes or anything, but a few pills, a little loss in stitch definition, a bit faded. I've loved these socks and I wear them often. I thought back to making them and how much I had loved the yarn, how happy I was with the pattern I chose and how gorgeous they looked when finished, washed and blocked. I couldn't wait to get them on my feet! They were my first knit of this hot new yarn and I was more than satisfied with my choice to purchase it.

Now, here they are, a year later...much loved, much worn and still fitting perfectly. But they hardly continue to inspire awe. No one would look at them and ooh and ahh over their beauty. They are, after all, just socks. Well made, gorgeous, warm and a feat of some skill and talent but still, just socks. I pulled them onto my feet, shoved them into my slippers and proceeded to start my day. But the thought of them stayed with me as I did my morning chores.

I have recently become more active in Ravelry and am delighted to have such an amazing resource at my fingertips. I've added photos of recent projects (unlike this blog!), inventoried my stash and joined a few groups. One of these is a destash group where folks can trade or sell things they no longer want. Having just sorted through my own stash, this group intrigued me as a way to perhaps unload some of my own unloved yarns.

What happened instead is that I discovered all the new hot yarns and they are incredible! Luscious colors combined in such ways as to be works of art just sitting in the skein. But worked up, they become magic and, even without feeling them, I began to lust after many of them. I will confess I went a little nuts. I bought a bunch. Well, I traded some so it was not all money out of pocket, but I know I ended up adding to my stash rather than deleting from it.

The hottest, most sought after yarn at the moment seems to be this yarn from Germany - Wollmeise. The minute this name appears on the list, the response is immediate and posts get added like machine gun fire. People can't grab it fast enough! It looks gorgeous and I have no doubt its yummy to the touch and will make socks that will be magnificent. But here's the can sell for up to $40. In fact, I saw a skein on Ebay that was up to $70 and still had days to go before the bidding ended!

Simultaneously with watching this sock yarn get gobbled up at alarming prices, I saw the flurry of activity surrounding the latest WEBS sale. People are buying in boat loads at amazing prices and delighting in their scores of enough yarn for a sweater for $30 and enough for two sweaters and several summer tops for $50. Just the approach of this sale led to discussions of cleaning up credit cards, selling off other words doing all they could to insure plenty of buying power. And yet, we'll rush to buy yarn for a pair of socks for $70 and, if we can get it for $30-4o, come away feeling like we got a bargain? Have we all gone mad? My Gramma would be appalled. My Gramma would think I was nuts for spending $20 to make a pair of socks!

Socks to my Gramma, and for that matter mittens and hats too, were something you made with scraps leftover from other projects. The idea of contrasting heels and toes was not about fashion or artistry, but was about making use of small bits of yarn. It doesn't take much to do a heel so you found a bit in your stash bag that would work and you used it. In fact, the idea of a "stash" was not yarn you hoarded up from overbuying at a sale, but were those little bits and pieces left over from larger projects. As those bits became smaller, their usage changed...when it wasn't enough to be a heel or toe in a sock, it became a stripe in a hat or mittens. But nothing was thrown away until it really was "string too short to save."

Look at us now...we scramble over each other to get those hot yarns in those amazing colors and price becomes no object. Whatever the newest flavor of the day becomes, we all rush to get it. And in the end, we have socks. Beautiful, warm, well fitting and expertly made socks. We'll knit them, wash them lovingly and block them to their artistic best. And then we'll pull them onto our feet, sigh with delight at their feel and then shove them into our slippers and begin our day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Catching up.........

It's been forever since I've done anything with this blog and, rather than go into all sorts of explanations and excuses as to why, I'll just add a few photos to catch up. It will say as much as anything why I haven't been writing!

This is the long suffering Maltese Shawl that I made for my sister. I have written all about the trials and tribulations it caused me in the VLT blog, so won't repeat that here. Needless to say, she loves it and I'm thrilled it's done!

I used Zephyr for this in the color coral and it was a bit pinker than I wanted but certainly more apricot than these photos. I adore the yarn...maybe even more so than the Alpaca Silk from WEBS??????

The next FO is a pair of socks for myself I did with the much advertised, but as yet to be determined, Step yarn from Austerman. It is loaded, treated, saturated (?) with aloe and jojoba oil and supposedly will make your feet soft as you wear them. I liked the yarn well enough and found the colors springy and enjoyable enough to knit. Just the standard pattern for my feet and we'll see if they become a favorite over time.

The other socks I recently finished are in the popular Monkey pattern from Cookie A - a hot new designer. It was fast and fun knit and, as alway, I do love working with CTH yarns. Shockingly, they are too big! I think I got so carried away with the pattern repeats that I made them about an inch too long. It's certainly no issue to frog and redo the toes, since that's all it will take, but have I done it? No. They sit here, awaiting their trial wearing.
I DO like looking at them though!!

Somehow, in the midst of the madness that has been the last few months, I decided to tackle some long overdue WIPs and finished off this entrelac bag. It's since been felted but still waits for handles to be truly done.

I'm happy enough with it and always love using up some of the old Nordic yarns!

Lastly, I finished off this Three Corned Shawl in Cherry Leaf pattern from VLT. I made it significantly smaller than the pattern asked since word was coming from others that it was absolutely gigantic as written. It was a great knit, loved it all...even the endlessly long rows towards the end. Now if I could just reconcile the fact that I really don't think I'm a shawl person, we'll be all set. I DO love making them but there is something very Jeremiah Puddleduckish about them that I'm struggling to overcome. I think my next attempt will be a rectangular stole shape. I continue with my passion for creating lace. This was done with the Malabrigo lace and I like it, loved the vinegar smell while knitting, but I'm not sure it holds a candle in my mind to Zephyr or the WEBS yarn. But then again, it doesn't have any silk to it. The colors are lovely.