Sad News

Necessary mittens

Necessary mittens

It’s February and this winter has gone on forever.  Normally, I’m a real fan of cold weather.  I look forward to having a crackling fire going in our stove or playing outside in the snow and having an excuse to knit or crochet almost nonstop.  Of course, this month is generally when the blahs kick in and I can’t get excited about anything, but this year the constant rain and darkness and worry is creating a different feel to my usually scheduled February lassitude.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law passed away (see Of Flooding and Exploding Dryers).   That was way ahead of schedule.  My husband was shocked, naturally, but also because he had just talked to his mother only a few days ago and she hadn’t indicated things were any worse.  As to the why my husband and I had this erroneous notion that her death was in some mid-long distant future, I can’t really say.  Maybe because she appeared to be relatively healthy and mobile when we saw her last month, or maybe, truly, we just didn’t want her to go.  Since this notion created a warped sense of of time, preparations that should have been made earlier were all of a sudden upon us.  We’ve spent the last several days making travel arrangements, funeral arrangements, buying clothes and so much more that I can’t think straight – and there’s still a lot more to do.  As I lie here in bed, typing this entry in the dark, I hear the wind whipping up the trees and hope this won’t delay any travel plans for tomorrow because I am ready for this to be over.

Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.

Our new fur baby, Nicky, playing with his recently adopted brother, the chocolate lab, Mario.

In the meantime, life goes on.  I’ve managed to make a few more hats for sell, make our new little rescue fur baby a doggie vest and I’m working, slowly, on a pair of mittens.

What are you working on?  I need some good news, dear readers!

*Name changed for privacy.

Ain't he a little stinker?

Ain’t he a little stinker?

Of Flooding and Exploding Blow Dryers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve all heard the expression “When it rains, it pours.”  January was a monsoon for me.

It actually started mid-December with the news of my mother-in-law’s stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis.  With a six-month timeline, Elke* has opted to receive hospice care.  All her life she’s dealt with cancer.  It started in her late 20s, returned in her 40s, again in her late 60s, and with this last bit of news, she said she’s done.  Prognosis was not good to begin with, and she just didn’t want to go through the “cure” again.  Her husband, John*, has been displaying signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease.  He had to be reminded who we were, and yet, most cruel, he’s aware of it right now.  They live in Texas, three and a half states over, and timing was not good.  But it had to be done.

The journey back to Texas was odd.  Any road trip I’ve taken before has always been a good thing.  My husband and I made the most of it, since it was three days hard travel.  My sister, who lives in Bakersfield, was gracious enough to let us use her place as flop house.  We literally spent less than 15 minutes talking to her before we headed for bed, and then in the morning, we hugged one and another and moved on, both going and coming back.  The second day out, I wrote some errant thoughts.  Those long drives gives a person way too much time to think.

January 4, 2017, Wednesday

When the sun is rising, the errant contrail casts a shadow on the higher clouds

Driving east along Interstate 10 to Texas

Don’t know how to feel

Sedimentary, layered mountains Las Cruces

Texas landscape out of El Paso flat

Scrub brush

Minimal traffic

Can use cruise control – indefinitely

Occasional butte, rolling hills

Road stretches out in front of you in gentle, undulating waves

Cerulean sky, painted with high altitude stratus clouds

Harmless, no rain

When sun is setting, the color of the western sky shifts from blue to lavender, then gradually to a dusky plum, all but obscuring the horizon, then gradually, deep purple to the black of night.

Headlights

On the third morning of our visit, I was drying my hair, when my blow-dryer of at least 10 years decides to go out with a bang.  Sparks flew and I had to unplug it to stop the sparks from turning into flames.  The acrid smell of burnt electronics filled our hotel room for at least a day.  I felt it was appropriate, somehow, that it should happen at that time; however, I had spent the night before crying, so it was possible I was just upset.  Saying good bye to something else, even something as replaceable as a minor appliance, really set me off.

When driving back, we ran into the storms in Northern California that we’d been monitoring even before we left.  It was an eye-opener to see the areas around Sacramento, flooded by water that had overrun the bank of the Cosumnes River.  Sacramento has the American and the Sacramento Rivers to deal with and the levies around the city are monitored more closely.  What I photographed was the Cosumnes River gone a bit wild, just south of Elk Grove, a suburb of SacTown.  And then from Highway 99 North to I80 East, up around Applegate, the trucks were pulled over because the road over Donner Pass was closed due to snow.

I was so grateful to be home…because our garage was flooding.  We got some more sandbags (don’t ask) and cleaned up what we could.  Thanks goodness the foundation is concrete, and no real damage was done.

On a lesser, but more immediate note, my husband’s car has stopped running.  The money we would have used to fix that was spent visiting his mother.  It sits in the front of the house, ads running on Facebook, Letgo and Craigslist with no results.  I guess no one wants a mechanic’s project at this time.

There is more to the story, but I will leave it.  Sometimes it’s good not to tell so much, and this is one of those instances.

*names changed for privacy

Beanie Freebie

This is the perfect dog lovers toque!  There is stranding, so you have to put up with that (sigh) but the frolicking dogs playing on the new spring grass with the puffy clouds floating overhead make it a worthwhile endeavor!  Because of the height of the chart and the gauge of yarn I used, this particular pattern will only work for pre-teen through adult sizing.  If you want a smaller  hat and want to keep the integrity of the chart, I would recommend using dk or even fingering weight yarn, and the appropriately sized needles and keeping everything else the same.  Click here for the pattern.

Enjoy!20170113_141701

For Those of You Marching on January 21st, 2017…

…and still haven’t started your Pussyhat Project! If you’re like me, using worsted will be the death knell for your hat because it will take too long; however, I want to wear one!  In the interest of saving time, I whipped out my calculator app on my phone and started with some baseline numbers.  As most of you know, when modifying a pattern, it’s a combination of math and “feel”, so if your noggin is…let’s say, anywhere from 19 – 22″, these numbers should work for you.

I searched my yarn and found every other color in the rainbow, except for pink.  Typical.  So the mock up here, will be just that.  As soon as I can find a ride to my LYS, I will be purchasing the yarn to make for me and a friend of mine.  So don’t worry, I know.  The color here is wrong!

In the interest of not being sued, I will generalize the information about the yarn by not giving the brand.  They’ve already dealt with me before, and to keep it brief, let’s just say my issues are that I am a California girl, born and bred – LOL!  Anyway to the modifications!  Using two skeins bulky gauge yarn and #13 knitting needles, cast on 28 sts.  Follow the instructions as written, keeping in mind that the bulkier yarn may make the ears larger – I’m doing it anyway!!!  And that’s it.

If you don’t knit, or would prefer a crocheted version, I found this pattern:  https://www.pussyhatproject.com/crochet/

Need to find where the march is in your state?  I googled “women’s march 2017” and put your state.  You will be able to find information.  I checked some random states, and was pleased to see all had at least a Facebook page.  Hope to see all my sisters, be you female, male, transgender or otherwise, out marching with us on Saturday 21, 2017.

 

Let’s Be Honest

Hey, everyone.  How are your holidays going?  Treating you good?  I hope so.  Although this post has landed perilously close to Christmas and, I assume, other holidays, it has nothing to do with them.  Let’s take a break from that, shall we?

I want to take a moment and talk about us liars out there.  You know what I mean.  “Knitting is easy!”  “Crochet is a breeze.”  I’m very guilty of this.  And you’re shaking your head, if not physically, then mentally.  What is she talking about?  Knitting is easy and crochet is a breeze!  Ok, smarty pants.  Maybe for you, and a very small minority, it was a breeze.  Your needles fly under your deft fingers, your hook is moving so fast that it’s a blur and every stitch is perfect.  New techniques?  No problem.

Like the title of this post says, let’s be honest.  Think back to when you first picked up those knitting needles, felt their heft, or gazed wonderingly upon that crochet hook, marveling at the sleek lines and how they turned into…well, the hook.  Some of you may have to really dig in the vault of memories for this, but do it.  Did it feel natural?  Remember that first chain, and how proud you were of yourself.  And then, when you got tired of that, discovering how to turn and create stitches.  Let’s not forget that first successful cast on row.  My tongue worked as hard as my fingers!  Speaking of tongues, we also have our own language.  You think k2tog then yo or dbl through fp means anything to anyone else?

….but, think of the beginner.  How many will give up because it’s just too hard?  For whatever reason, they are done after that initial foray. Their skeins of yarn will either gather dust in some forgotten drawer or be thrown away (gasp! oh, no!) because they’re taking up space. And yes, there are a great many people, who, literally, simply don’t care.  Of course, they will enjoy the fruits of our labors, and marvel at the overall beauty of the gift, but that’s as far as it will go.  However, for us, we wanted to do it.  Whatever our motivation was at the time, we wanted to do it; and we did.  Look at us now –  champions of the crusade!  Not only is it easy, there are multiple benefits to knowing these crafts.

And I for one, think we should respect our hobbies for the honed crafts they truly are.  Will I stop saying it’s easy?  Probably not.  Should I?  Yes, most definitely.  Is all this work worth it?  That, I’ll leave for you to decide…

Knit Freebie Just in Time for Christmas

Here it is, just a week shy of Christmas, and I’m adding a pattern!  Never fear, this uses worsted weight yarn and works up fast.  This year I’ve been really interested in stranding and I love snowmen, so I thought I’d make my own chart and my hat.  I downloaded a chart from Pinterest for the red hat.  I’m sorry – I don’t remember which!  Just enter knit snowflake chart in the search bar and you’ll get so many cool options.  I included the picture so you can see the versatility of the basic hat pattern.  So here it is, just in time for Santa’s visit!

Natural Knitter or Crocheter

Now this is something I could use some help with!

Now this is something I could use some help with!

While perusing the abysmally small selection of knit and crochet books at Barnes and Noble, I realized something about myself.  I was focused solely on the knitting books.  I thought to myself, Hang on.  Why no crochet?  I did a double take on the crochet offerings and noticed titles about cowls and scarves.  I smiled to myself.  Yea.  Don’t need instruction on that.  I revisited the knitting titles.  There were a lot of subjects that I felt didn’t need further instruction, but conversely, there were so many more that I felt totally lacking.

I have had an on again, off again romance with stranding, and in this most recent flare, Scandinavian designs.  I have made a few stranded items, and I’m still not happy with the results.  I’ve read books, I’ve watched instructional videos and I’ve even asked advice.  Still not happy.  But I’ll follow my own advice, and persevere.  Sooner or later, I’ll get it!

Now let’s talk gloves.  I’m not talking mittens or fingerless mittens.  I’m talking gloves with four fingers and a thumb.  Haven’t made them.  Scared.  Yes, I said it.  Scared of spending a lot of time and effort and getting a sub-par result (reference the above stranding).

Again, I thought about crocheting.  I don’t know all there is to know, and I’m happy with my current level of expertise (advanced beginner to intermediate), but I’m not afraid of anything!

So does thus mean I’m a natural crocheter, which is way easy for me, or does this mean that knitting is actually more difficult?  You wouldn’t know that to look at some people whipping out impossible knit designs who claim they just can’t do crochet.

What are you?  Does one craft come easier to you than the other, or are you fortunate enough to have an innate feel for both?