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?

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…

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?

 

Knitting – machine or not?

Doesn't look like knitting

Doesn’t look like knitting

I made the mistake of signing up for a machine knitting group, thinking it was a regular knitting group.  I have just unregistered, but it got me thinking.  Again.  Am I knit purist or snob?  I don’t think using a knitting machine can be rightly considered knitting.  Is it even a craft?  I’m not dinging the people out there who love to do this.  I know it’s a lot faster to finish a project than hand knitting, but I also know it’s limiting.  I had purchased a machine about three years back because I thought for a minute that I wanted to crank out my own sweaters.  Then I went on YouTube and looked at some how-to videos.  It doesn’t appear to require a whole bunch of…technique.  Is that what a makes a craft?  Practice?  Discipline?  Does it take any of these things to use a knitting machine?  I have no idea, as my foray into the world of semi-automated knitting was short lived.  I didn’t even open the box; I returned it immediately.

Ah. There it is.

Ah. There it is.

I think it depends on why you’re using the machine.  My idea of making my own designs and then making the garment was valid enough; however, while waiting for the machine (I ordered it online), I realized that my passion was not for cranking out mass amounts of sweaters, but the act of knitting itself.  Feeling the needles in my hand, the yarn that seems to automatically wrap around my right hand fingers for tension, holding my mouth a certain way as I fight with a particularly difficult cable, the whole throwing vs. picking technique, continental vs. English, the mobility of it while you tote around your latest pair of socks, sitting around a table with other knitters while talking about knitting! – that’s knitting.

I would like to hear from both sides!  For those of you who use machines, do you use them exclusively or do you mix it up with hand knitting?  For those of you who hand knit, why did you start?  Was it a yarn thing, the finished product thing, a family thing…?  Let me know.

Hollow Oak Serape-Style Vest

I sure hope my mail lady likes this!  She is so sweet and easy to talk to, I felt it was time to make her something; but as I made this for her, it doesn’t quite fit the model (me) as I would like.  Don’t despair, I included alternate instructions for curvy women!  An original design and easy to make, I have it for sale on Ravelry.  Get it free until midnight, October 16, 2016 by using this code on checkout:  joanne.

Of Miracles and Ponchos

A few days ago, a miracle happened to my friend.

Sister checking out her baby brother

Sister checking out her baby brother

Well, when you think about it, in depth and medically, objectively, and statistically, it is a miracle.  The fact that it happens about 353,000 times a day around the world does not diminish the joy, the awe and profound sense of wonder for the new parents when it happens to them.

I was privileged to hold the little gift.

I was privileged to hold the little gift.  I was trying not to breathe on him!

What was so quirky about this baby’s path is that a month before he was conceived, my friend, Wendy, had decided to have a tubal ligation.  I remember asking her if she was sure.  Once these procedures are done, there’s usually no going back.  It’s done.  She said, yes.  She didn’t want anymore babies, didn’t want to be pregnant and in her thirties.

The day before her procedure is scheduled, she cancels.  Doesn’t want to do it.  When I saw her again, I hugged her and then asked again, Are you sure?  She was sure; said it didn’t feel right.  I guess she knew, because here he is, 10 months later, her intuition.  The labor was all of one hour and 30 minutes long and relatively easy.  I say relatively, since the uterus really didn’t have any time to adjust, like in longer labors, and she was having the worst cramps when I took that picture.  She was near tears.  Needless to say, I didn’t stay long.  I know when I’m in pain, I don’t want to maintain friendly conversation!

I was just so happy for her, I had to write about it!

Fall colors

Fall colors

Now for the poncho.  (If you know of a better segue, please let me know!  The miracle of birth and life is a tough act to follow.)   The way I’m putting it together feels more like a vest…poncho?  Anyway – no sleeves!  Yay! It’s a gift for my postal carrier, so I thought of how she works and what she does.  I didn’t want the standard poncho design, because it would get in her way. I’ve been seeing pictures of ponchos that have buttons on the side and look sensible and relatively easy to make, especially when you’re lifting boxes and moving all day long.  It wouldn’t get in the way.  So, with a gleam in my eye, I decided to create my own design.  I did ask her favorite color, and she likes green also!  I didn’t want to overwhelm her with a monochromatic palette, so I added in some festive yarn.

Now I have a bit of a dilemma.  I have decided to drop it off at her work when it’s finished, which should be within a week.  My great fear is that she won’t like it.  You know how it is when you’re making someone a handcrafted gift.  Should I leave it anonymously and let her figure it out?  Or, should I let her know, so she knows whom she should be disappointed with?  (I know…bad sentence structure!)  Or is there another way I’m not thinking of?  I’m making a poll, so please let me know!