Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowbound for the Holidays!

Here is a slanted image of George and Maverick across the street from our house and a rather blurry view of our front yard. While I love to think we are snowbound in the snug, warm and cozy sense, we have been able to get where we need to go. George got a terrible cold last week, and mine followed this week (although mine is less intense and shorter lived than his) so we really aren't going out sledding and truly enjoying the snow. I love that it is not Seattle's usual wet, heavy snow, but lovely powdery snow and frozen dry air.

I was feeling stressed and not interested in putting up a Christmas tree until George took a day off last week to help. We got a smaller tree than usual and I got the lights on it - no pressure to see if we feel like decorating further. We switched to using LED lights outside, and we're very pleased with how festive they look - the snow just adds to the holiday feeling.

Gift knitting has gone fairly well this year, although I chose to knit a couple of larger projects that meant I knitted fewer gift items. I have some 3rd and 4th quarter knitting to share!

Our Build Your Skills class KAL of the February Lady cardigan was so much fun - Village is beginning one on January 1, 2009! I am especially pleased with mine after finally finding the right buttons (I finished the sweater at least six weeks before I was happy with buttons for it). I have been justly described as something of a button nut after trying over a dozen different buttons for this cardigan, but I really believe the right ones were finally found! Okay, there is other evidence of button nuttiness in the shopping bag of buttons from the Beppa Button Sale... but I'm sure to be ready next time I'm looking for just the right button for a yarn or fabric!

I hope to include photos of other February Ladies from class; we have had an inspiring variety of colors and style points. Mine has bracelet length sleeves and I delayed the decrease to the final row before the garter cuff, and the length of the body is just below my hip bone. It's a surprisingly warm sweater!

Next, I was inspired by Melinda to knit the Shaped Lace Tee from Knitting Lingerie Style. Although getting gauge was a challenge since I chose Cascade's Pima-Tencel instead of the specified 100% cotton yarn, the texture of this knitted product is sort of dreamy. It was my first project with my new Harmony interchangeable circular needle set from Knitpicks, and I love how the wood needles complement the yarn color. I stopped 3/4 of the way up the back to begin Christmas gift knitting, and am excited to get back to it in January.

During one of our BYS classes, each member brought stash yarns we don't know what to do with. The recommendations were inspired by Rebecca and by each other - one of mine became the Twilight Lace Wrap for my friend, Cheryl. It's not really lace, but it did give me a sort of lace lesson in reading the pattern and the stitches as it progressed, as well as beginning with the provisional cast-on and picking it up to finish the other direction. AND it was my first time blocking with wires having to catch each lace point for the border - Emily helped me lay it out. Next time I would go up in needle size, as I don't think the "stars" really show up enough. This is another example of fabric with holes being warmer than one might expect.

I was inspired by Amy's Melody's Shawl from Moorehouse Farms, so George came to Village with me and bought JoJoLand cashmere to knit one for his mother. It was a dream to knit with, and the gauzy results are everything I was hoping for. I used 3 oz since his mom is petite; the final measurement after blocking is 18" x 78" exclusive of the fringe. I want to knit one for myself. The best part is when people reach out to touch it and "oooh!" of surprise at the luxurious softness. My own mother is allergic to many fibers, so I'm using Plucky Knitter's Silk-Merino in red to knit the same wrap for her. Since Amy used the same Plucky yarn, I'm hoping my mom's will be as beautiful as hers!

I surprised myself by deciding to knit a scarf for my brother. He recently bought a bright yellow sports car and I've noticed his style of dress has stepped up a notch. I chose Karen Alfke's Linen stitch scarf, which was supposed to be from three different scrap yarns... but of course I had to get him just the right colors. The linen stitch takes time to knit, but the results are so elegant, and I hope he'll enjoy it. At least we're having the right weather for him to wear it.

Last week I completed a new Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts for my friend, Jennifer. The book was a gift from her last year, and as we looked through it together, the scarf was something she liked a lot. I struggled to find a good pairing for the Koigu yarn in my stash, and wasn't at all certain about what I'd found at Weaving Works until I began knitting. I think the finished product is very pleasing, and will be perfect for Jennifer.

Finally, I decided to try the Purl-less Monkey socks from the Dragon Fibers Comfort & Joy yarn I bought last year. I LOVE how the hand-painted yarn makes them look like a candy cane... then I turned the heel found that I have a pooling situation. There are those who say that it looks cool - it shows that the socks are handmade, and it does look like a candy cane after part of the stripes were licked off... I want to like it this way because I don't really want to frog all the way back to before the heel, but I haven't felt like knitting another row since trying them on. I've never done a short row heel and am thinking this is what this project may be meant to teach me. So, I'm thinking that the new Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn book may be a future purchase, and I'm likely to be frogging first thing in 2009...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Six weeks or more...

Where does the time go? I drafted this post some time ago, and when I got back to it, at least six weeks have gone by! I do have knitting progress to report, and other thoughts as well... I'll start with these items and catch up in the next (soon!) post.

At my Build Your Skills class with Rebecca at Village Yarn & Tea, and in other knitting conversations, we have had several discussions about movies to watch while knitting. We have discussed criteria such as:
  • no crying on the knitting in progress
  • doesn't require complete attention (knitting, after all, is the first priority)
  • maybe not too intense (could change yarn tension)
  • see the movie ahead of time to be sure it fits criteria
  • and so on.
As far as movies themselves, I've been keeping a list as people have suggested them. Here's the first dozen:
  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Persuasion
  3. Sense and Sensibility
  4. Emma
  5. Mansfield Park
  6. Northanger Abbey (my least favorite, but I liked PBS' latest production)
  7. Jane Eyre
  8. Miss Potter
  9. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  10. The Jane Austen Book Club
  11. Becoming Jane
  12. Ever After

My DVD library has at least two productions of each Jane Austen, and I admit to having my favorites. These never get old for me. Sometimes you can even spot a detail, color, or style to inspire your knitting.

In October, I was thrilled to be able to help my sister-in-law, Gail, give my 15 year old niece, Emily, a knitting birthday party. Gail provided each girl with a pair of knitting needles and a skein of Cascade 220 - and had a beautiful array of colors for them to choose from. I provided a choice of a hat or a scarf pattern and knitted a sample of each for trying on at the party. Naomi and Melinda agreed to assist with knitting knowledge and inspiration and the five young guests arrived full of chat and fun that was a joy to see. Nearly all had some level of knitting experience, as well as interest, and they all gamely cast on (with some help and three different techniques) and began to knit. At least two hadn't yet learned to purl, so we showed them how. And most did not have much confidence in their skill, even when they were not making any errors. Once all were knitting, Emily asked her mom to put in the Ever After DVD, Gail served the popcorn, and the knitting experience echoed what we've been talking about at my class. Here I am with Emily - we're modeling the hat and scarf samples. When the parents began to arrive to pick up the girls, they each departed reluctantly with final instructions about how to finish. I hope they will find the community in knitting that I enjoy so much!

Since then, Emily has finished her green hat and two more. She reports that at least one friend has finished after Emily answered her question about casting off. Emily has now excitedly knit her gauge swatches and begun socks of lovely soft yarn gifted to her by Naomi. Emily came to my house on Veteran's Day since she had the day off and her parents were both working; she brought her knitting and the newest version of Persuasion. Emily wound balls of yarn (she loves the swift and ball winder - she would have wound my entire stash if I had let her), we blocked a lace wrap I had completed, and watched Persuasion. Neither of us were ready to stop by the time her Dad arrived to pick her up.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Indian Summer

There's no place like Seattle when the weather is beautiful, and this last week we had several unseasonably warm and dry days. We spent most of our weekend outdoors - between the yard and the local farmer's market. We're getting our last gasp harvests of red and golden raspberries, beans, tomatoes and zuccini (the basket shows some of the veggies), and just beginning to get our carrots and leeks. So we supplimented our supply at the market before coming home to finish the trimming and get to some of the weeding. The only problem with weekends is having to decide which projects to tackle and which will wait.

I've been working on my Weasley Wizard Wheezes socks (the Harry Potter collection yarn from Sunshine Yarns). The socks are just simple 4x2 ribbed socks on size 0 needles, and I'm already loving them. They look exactly Weasley to me, and they are so vibrant and bright - more exciting than what I usually choose. I'll probably wear them all the time and wear them out!

My niece, Emily is 15 years tomorrow. For her birthday, I knit the charming short sleeved cardigan (Design 26) from Noro's Designer Mini-Knits book. Ellen had knit it in August and I just loved it - then realized that I had some vintage stash yarn that would get the right gauge. I was afraid the design was too youthful for me, so Emily is the recipient. The pattern is great for uncertain knitters; the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the result is as lovely as the photo in the book. The yarn is Paton's Townsend - the color reminds me of Greece, so I loved using the symbolic buttons - the blue-green combination is more beautiful than the photo indicates. Emily loved it and it looks adorable on her. Since I still have a couple of balls, I'll be able to use the yarn for a scarf or hat too. My offer of a Knitting Birthday Party for Emily and her friends was accepted, so on October 11, Naomi, Melinda and I will be coaching them through their choice of a scarf or a hat using yarn provided by Emily's mom, Gail. One of Emily's friends had a birthday party where the girls were provided with first knitting needles and learned to knit, so we are hoping to continue them on the path. I'll be knitting the samples this week so they can see the finished garment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Into Fall

I took a week of vacation in August, and the cool, damp weather meant that although I had planned to paint the trim of our house, it did not get done. Instead, I gardened and spent time laying flagstones around our pond. Flagstones are HEAVY! And they're even heavier when using the thicker stones preferred when one is not cementing them in place. It's very hard work, even without having to puzzle them together, and I'm getting great satisfaction from each finished section. This photo from one area near the pond that shows Maverick checking my work - I still have the adjacent path to complete.

All summer I looked forward to our wonderful knitting retreat weekend at Naomi's Bangrila. George had a motocross race that weekend, so we took the dogs to PetsHotel in Woodinville and were all able to completely relax. Naomi is famous among her friends for being a wonderful hostess, and the weekend was no exception. The guests (Melinda, Joni, Ellen, Amy and Sarah), were also inspiring to be with, it was beautiful weather, the setting was idyllic, everyone pitched in on everything, and I relaxed to a whole new level. I can only add that I loved meeting Plucky Knitter Sarah - she is so positive and sweet! Being around her - well around any and all of these fiber women - was uplifting. I can't say enough about Naomi's generosity in sharing the time and place with us. I am so lucky to have been a part!
While there, I finished my first Monkey sock, complete with my first ever picot cuff! I completed the second one in short order since they were to be a birthday gift for my longtime friend, Pam. I gave them to her without getting a photo, but here's the yarn; Jitterbug in the Tapis color. I was panicked about running out of yarn, but had 3/8 of an ounce left over. Phew. Pam has knit many socks, including a pair for me, but she doesn't like to follow patterns, so she was impressed, and that's all it takes for gift knitting to be worthwhile.

September 2nd brought George's younger son, Jon, to Bremerton on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Jon is an Engineman in the Navy, and his ship arrived to be decommissioned so he was in Bremerton for just over two weeks, although he was not on leave. We saw him three times, and he managed to see most of his friends. The Navy has been good for him, and he's doing well. His hard work is recognized and he has been promoted quickly so far. He is stationed in Japan and is now back in Tokyo before joining his new ship, the George Washington Carver.
If you remember my Cotton Jeans Lynton cardigan, I was prepared to settle for the large mother-of-pearl button shown in a previous post. Then I found a button at Pacific Fabrics... then two more from As Cute As a Button. They are each perfect in their own way - see what you think! The button loop is round elastic covered with splits of the Cotton Jeans yarn using the tailor tack technique from my sewing background. It works great and I love wearing the sweater.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summer's End

A lot of living has happened since my last post. Including knitting, of course, yet I feel like summer activities (whether or not summer weather is actually occurring) sort of crowd out my year 'round passions. So today is the first day of fall and one of my goals is to update more frequently rather than long, infrequent posts.

In July my 23 year old niece, Meagan, visited from Georgia and spent a week in the Seattle area. She brought Mariah, the six year old girl she has been raising (long, complicated story) and we picked them up at the ferry at the end of their week to take them to their final tourist choices: the Space Needle and the Fremont Troll. Then we returned to our house and the rest of my family arrived to visit with her. We barbequed, devilled eggs, ate fresh corn on the cob, and got to know her a little bit again. After dinner, the girls gathered to watch Ever After on DVD, a little like a slumber party. The visit was all too short before she was gone again. Her family moved to Georgia when she was in her early teens, and we've been missing them all ever since.

On August 16 and 17th, we hired a painter to spray the exterior of our house and we followed behind him with brushes. It was one of the few hot weekends, so we actually couldn't paint after noon or so. And on that Saturday, Kathy from Paws & Claws brought a 3 year old boxer mix to meet Maverick and us. George and I had been talking about a companion dog for Maverick, and I saw this girl dog on Petfinders, e-mailed them, and George arranged the meet. The dog is a sort of pushy girl, with no known history prior to turning up stray in Puyallup in June. She came in the gate ready to dominate Maverick. If I had known what I now know (that the dominant behavior is so prevalent for her), I don't think we would have even decided to try her out. She is the pup on the right - this was her first day here. We have now had her for five weeks, through running away (which turns out to be running after cats and squirrels), through getting on our bed, sofa, and recliner, through eating butter off the dining room table, through shrill barking when we give Maverick attention, through chewing through multiple Tupperware containers to eat ALL of the chocolate chips and nuts, and of course, the $500 emergency vet visit for the chocolate toxicity.

We have been hopeful of training her out of the behaviors we don't like. She does well at Obedience I training at Positive Dog in Woodinville. She still wants to dominate Maverick, although we are working hard to be alphas who correct some of the behaviors. We just don't know if Maverick is miserable or if this is a good thing for him, and although Paws & Claws has offered a consult with an animal behaviorist from the beginning, we didn't accept until last week when George reached his limit. Our first appointment with the behaviorist from Bark Busters is on Saturday, so I'll update the situation as it changes!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Healthy again!

Whoever said "if you have your health, you have everything" was very wise. Having my occasional small injury helps me to remember that there are many among us living with serious health issues that impact much more than being able to knit. I'm so thankful to have lived this long with such good health that small things can throw me completely off my game for awhile. I am, however, back in action. I spent hours sewing up and sewing in ends on my Lynton sweater and was able to block it on Sunday - I wet blocked it and it was still damp yesterday when I wore it to class. Sewing in the ends presented more of a challenge than usual with the tight gauge of the sweater so I split the yarn and doubled the number of ends to be sewn in. Sigh. The perfect large blue button has not yet presented itself, so I'm planning to use the large, white, mother of pearl button until a better choice appears.

At the same time, I have completed my first Regia sock and have completed most of the ribbed cuff on the second; this is the smallest yarn I have knit with yet. I love the colors and self striping just keeps me motivated to see the next color. Over and over again, like it's new each time. Simple pleasures are something knitters know about. If you look carefully, you can see a ripe raspberry in the photo - we've had a bumper crop this year!

In this session of Rebecca's Build Your Skills class at Village Yarn & Tea we suddenly blossomed to a larger number and many of us decided to knit the February Lady sweater. Besides enjoying knitting another top-down so I don't have to sew on the sleeves, I'm loving knitting the same pattern with several people. It's fun to see how the different yarns make the same sweater, how different buttonhole techniques make for a different finish, different buttons, different number of buttons, or none at all, and how different people approach their projects. For example, we used all different cast-ons. I decided to do the German twisted or German long-tail cast on for extra give. I like the way it's looking and feeling so far. On the 5th row is the first buttonhole, and some people went with the online choice recommended in the pattern while others went with the buttonhole in Meg Swanson's Sweaters from Camp. I am behind since I've been concentrating on finishing my Lynton, so I used my swatch to try the technique recommended for garter stitch in Margaret Radcliffe's Knitting Answer Book. I like the results (I don't know how well the buttonhole shows up in the photo), and found that I want to insert the buttonhole while knitting RS (right side), which means I needed to deviate from the instructions in order for the buttonhole to be on my right (as opposed to left) side. All of this is elemental for most of my knitting friends, but requires planning for me! My yarn is Debbie Bliss' Rialto Aran, and I love the knitted texture and the loft as I knit. An added benefit is that I'm knitting with size 7 needles and getting gauge when I usually have to go down at least two needle sizes.

Elaine is at left with her striped top-down cardigan - not the February Lady, but her own very classy design and colors. Joanne is using navy blue Lamb's Pride for February Lady, although she decided to set it aside to complete her Peace Fleece cardigan which is shown to the right. She always adds her own touch to her knitted creations, so she has changed the sleeves from drop to set-in and added a green accent design. Gail and Danita are using Cascade 220 in a periwinkle marl and dark teal respectively; Gail is shown to the right, frogging back to improve her last buttonhole. Peggy, on the left, has completed the yoke and is using a light olive green (it might also be Cascade 220) and Rebecca is already into the lace, using a reclaimed yarn she dyed a lovely soft rose.

Besides class, Village Yarn & Tea held a farewell party for Ellen (here on the right with Naomi and Amy), who is leaving at the end of the month. I will miss her willing spirit, amazing knitting ability and speed, as well as her smiling assistance with yarn and all knitterly things. At the same time, I know she will never be sorry she is choosing to dedicate herself to her family and working on her home and garden. I know I'll be seeing her at Stitch'n'Pitch where she gets to be a "civilian" for the first time, and I hope to see her at Ferals and other knitting events! Congratulations, Ellen!

We're heading into our busy season at home. George scraped and pressure washed the entire exterior of the house in preparation for painting. He found a painter who will work with us at an hourly rate so we can have his expertise and equipment, but we can help. I like to do the detail work like trim, and I'm looking forward to taking vacation time to putter. George expects to finally return to work healthy next week if he gets the doctor's release at his next appointment. And we're expecting my niece from Georgia overnight on Saturday in addition to a family BBQ and on Sunday, a surprise 50th birthday party. That leaves today, Friday, for a dash to the big Bellevue Arts & Crafts show, since it's an annual tradition. However, after walking around the yard with the dog in the sunshine this morning, the tension of a busy schedule just kind of began to diffuse, and I wonder why I can't just wait until next year.

And besides, the Anacortes Arts Show is only a week away...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Two steps forward, one step back

July 4th was different for us this year - George was at home for the first time in many years (more about that later), and we were invited to a BBQ at Cindy and Alex's house; they are fun, good friends, and Maverick was welcome to come with us. Here's a photo of Maverick's Corgi friend, Darby, showing her patriotism by wearing the Statue of Liberty hat after dinner and before the fireworks. We also decided, for the first time, to sedate Maverick. Our poor hound gets so frantic during fireworks that he paces, whines, and can't settle down at all - if he weren't with us, he would certainly be a candidate to become a wild-eyed runaway dog. There's no telling what he was thinking after we gave him the meds, but he was able to just sleep through most of the pops and booms this year. So we all slept better than in years past.
The following day, Maverick was in the back yard when he got a visit from a dog which looked very much like him. She was the same coloring and slightly smaller, but very thin and due to the shape of her face, she was likely a boxer-pitbull mix. She jumped the fence and ran with Maverick for awhile - she appeared to be well cared for, so we're guessing she may have escaped during the fireworks. We fed her, watered her and called for Animal Control to see if she was micro-chipped, but they weren't going to be open again until Tuesday!!! We couldn't keep her, and she didn't stick around... we truly hope she has reunited with her owners.

All the pieces for my Lynton sweater are complete. The shoulders are seamed, the front pieces are bordered, and the collar has been picked up and knitted about 3cm into the ribbing. I panicked and bought more yarn, and now it doesn't appear that I will need the extra, although with the size of this collar and the fact that it is ribbed, I'll withold judgement until completion. I'm loving this sweater and can't wait to finish it. Cotton Jeans is beautiful yarn and I love the Blue Wash color I chose as well as the lovely texture it has with this gauge (sorry the photo contrast isn't great - I'll do better with the finished piece). I'm dreading all the sewing in of ends - it's never fun, and even worse with cotton yarn, but a small price to pay (I'm telling myself). I can barely stand to wait to wear it.

So why am I on the computer instead of knitting, you might ask? My left shoulder has a hot thread of pain running through it, and it increases immensely when I pick up my needles. I'm not sure whether I did something else, or whether I'm just stressed when I knit because I'm working hard to keep a tight gauge on the Lynton. I went to sleep in pain last night and have been popping ibuprofen all day. I have a massage scheduled for Saturday, and may need to move it up. So I'm giving it a rest and not knitting tonight. And I don't really need to say how hard that is, do I?

George always works the 4th of July at Gasworks Park. It's one of those days that every officer works, either on duty at regular pay, or overtime at holiday pay, and George looks forward to it each year. On July 2nd, the day after my previous post, George was injured while attempting to stop a suspect running from another police officer through a retail store. The suspect was running all out and George was off to one side and could not get a grip on the man; the force instead tumbled George into a clothing rack where his knee landed sideways on the foot of the rack. Thanks to a citizen, the man was stopped and George and the first officer were able to take the suspect into custody. George was taken to emergency where doctors told him some deep bruising had taken place, but they are hoping there are no tears to the ligaments. George also has some bruising at his ribcage and a large bluish toe from the incident. And he is back at home, trying to heal up to get back to work and back to his motocross racing. He's been told that he will be at home for at least a week, but he is not healing as quickly as he had hoped and will now miss the motocross race this weekend so will wait a month before he can race again. The good news is that the suspect did not attempt to use a weapon, so the injury is not life-threatening. And the other good news is that his recovery from surgery is complete, as no pain is coming from those areas.
So, we're making progress, a little bit at a time! And we are enjoying this warmer weather!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Must we mix dirt and yarn?

See this smile? This is what recovery from a "big deal" surgery looks like at my house! George raced motocross when he was a teenager, and he has never forgotten the fun he had. So he now has a number of vintage motorcycles to race in the dirt with other enthusiasts and while they have a wonderful time in all kinds of weather, George says he has the most fun when I come along.
So I did this past weekend, to Washougal, WA. The track there is great for the riders, and has a number of places where I can enjoy another of my hobbies and get some nice shots of jumps and landings.

This is one of George's favorite images of himself, landing on a tabletop jump. He did not race as many "motos" as he usually would since he is still building his endurance, but he says he made a pass that was worth the entire trip.

I expected to be able to watch most of the races from a chair or bleachers with Maverick next to me and knitting in my hands. Except for the excessive heat and dust, and on Saturday, the wind... The sun-block served as a semi-permanent base for the dirt, and I just tried not to think about all the places the dust was infiltrating. NOT my knitting though - I only got it out when I was safely cleaned up in the evenings.
We spent a nice weekend among many kind people who are more interested in fun and having a good race than winning. I always witness much sharing of parts and expertise (like knitting, don't you think?) just to get that old bike out on the track, and it's fun to see the nostalgia and respect for the origins of the sport (also like knitting). I improved my technique for action photos and am now lusting after a longer telephoto lens to get those closer up shots without risking my life. While it's not a sport I would have chosen due to the petroleum and environmental perspective, the fact that it's George's joy has given me reason to find the good things in that community. And I have!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A variety of distractions

We're finally going to have a HOT weekend in the 80's, maybe approaching 90 degrees! OK, hot for Seattle. We've been working in the yard, planting vegetables, weeding, and hoping the weather will be better soon. The peonies take full advantage of the sun and defy the chilly air - I love the powder-puff appearance and wonderful fragrance. I've been hearing we won't get many vegetables because of the delay of warmth and sunshine - we have been picking and eating our pineapple strawberries, and our climbing rose is blooming like crazy, but the produce is still small - the growth looks more like early May than the end of June.

I've been wanting to have a outdoor work space for a couple of years, and finally found room on the side of our house. We took a trip out to Marenako's last Saturday and shoveled 600 lbs of 3/8" and 3/4" crushed granite into the back of the truck. The larger went on the path around the vegetable garden, and the smaller went to create a "floor" for my potting area and hutch. While George worked on his motorcycles, I weeded, sorted rocks, raked, put down landscapers' cloth, shoveled the gravel into the wheelbarrow, then spread it. I was stiff for a couple of days afterward, and it was completely worth it. And you can see that Maverick was enjoying it with me.

The past few weeks have challenged me in a several areas, most important was that back in May, George had an injury involving pain and numbness in his right arm. He thought it was a pulled muscle, then a pinched nerve, then, after staying home on pain pills for a couple of weeks, he and his neurosurgeon decided he needed to have surgery at the C7 vertebra in his neck to enlarge the hole (framen?) through which the nerves travel (I, of course, may not remember the actual medical terms). The decision was made on the Friday of the LYS tour, and the surgery was on Monday.

So it was an interesting weekend... George talked about the surgery in a sort of blithe manner, and it wasn't until I actually said to him "This is a BIG DEAL." and he answered, "No Shit!" that the gravity was acknowledged between us. Fortunately, he has a very skilled neurosurgeon, and the doctor's first words to me after the surgery were: "He has a really big neck! And he came through very well." George was in the hospital for only about 26 hours. He began to feel better almost immediately, although he stayed on the pain pills for around two weeks. He finally stopped taking them due to his inability to sleep while under their effects. I got some first-hand experience in how taking pain meds long term can affect a person's behavior, and was very glad when he stopped. He went back to work on light duty for nearly two weeks doing data entry, then was so bored that he felt strong enough to return to regular duty this week. He's been much happier and very fortunate to be whole again, and having his first motocross race since the injury coming up this weekend is icing on the cake.

The above mentioned LYS tour was fun this year - I made it to only a few stores, but enjoyed them all. I began on Thursday with So Much Yarn and Hilltop Yarn Queen Anne, then went to Village Yarn and Tea in the evening for my class. On Friday, George and I stopped at Weaving Works on our way downtown for an errand, then went to Mill Creek for dinner so I could go to Main Street Yarn, then on Saturday, I visited my parents on Bainbridge Island since I was determined to go to Churchmouse Yarns & Tea. Upon my return from the ferry, George took me on his motorcycle to Acorn Street and Tricoter. OK, it was more than a few stores. I will post photos of my treasures as I knit the charming patterns from each store. I didn't go to any more shops on Sunday, because I was unable to walk out of any previous store without making a purchase, and because I wanted to spend that time with George. It was finally a nice day, so we worked in the yard and were able to relax a bit.

My attention was also on Naomi's retirement from the City. Her office was one floor above mine, and although our schedules meant that we saw little of each other at work, I liked knowing that she was nearby. My dear friend is responsible for drawing me back to knitting, and I have such amazing companionship and joy in the time I have spent with her as well as my newfound fiber friends. I didn't listen to her request for no retirement gifts since I had already ordered and received the custom Seattle Mariner Socks that Rock yarn from Tricoter, and decided to knit her the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts she mentioned in her blog (I knitted a 36 stitch width instead of the 48 stitch for a longer, narrower scarf). Amy set up the photo for me - Blue Moon's lightweight yarns are just a dream to knit with. So I'm thrilled for Naomi to be doing whatever she wants every single day, and even though we won't be seeing each other at work, we'll still be meeting with our yarns, and that's the best part anyway! Congratulations, Naomi!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Lot of Small Things

Can it really be June already? And I haven't posted for over a month? I have many events whirling me around in my daily life, so I have only posted in my head.

Since last time, I completed my red Silky Wool topdown sweater and have worn it several times. I love the design and the fit - I found that the yarn holds shape very well and was surprised that I was itching on my back. I've never been allergic to wool, and would have never expected itching from a silk and wool blend... so I wear a high-back camisole underneath and have been enjoying the sweater very much.

I've also completed and blocked my Kauni wristlets from Ruth Sorenson's class, and I love her design. I gave them to my color-loving friend, Cheryl, for her birthday and she was thrilled to receive a handknit gift. I'll knit more of these in a cooler season.

My enjoyment of cotton bath mitts continues (three of my latest are to the left) and now I'm mixing as many colors as I can. I gave one to my friend, Claudia, for her birthday. She worried that her husband would want to use it too, so I knitted him a larger, jewel-toned mitt. Then she admitted that their 8 year old son, Drew, took possession of both mitts because he loves them. Well, with that kind of admiration, he will, of course get one of his very own in his size for his July birthday.
I made my first visit to Renaissance Yarns in Kent (I didn't find a website, but this blog shows classy photos and says nice things that I agree with) with my long-time friend, Pam. After carrying around numerous skeins I wanted to buy, I limited myself to two Jitterbug colors. I will definitely stop in whenever I'm in the area!

And I finally gave in to the urge and managed to actually be quick enough to get project bags from Amy. Her mother sews them and they have such charming details... I've been carrying at least one project bag with me at all times, and I admittedly try to match the colors of my project with the bag - helps my short memory, you see.

Pam's daughter, Rachel, has known me as Auntie for all her life, and when Rachel's son, Connor, had his first birthday, I decided to knit him a sweater I thought he (OK, his Mommy and Grammy) would like. I got to reinforce some skills and learn others when I needed to increase the pattern to his actual size, and when the designs were done with intarsia and double stitch embroidery. I managed to get it done in a week, and even included my label since it's important to Rachel. She and Pam loved the sweater - Connor was more interested in the blocks I gave him. The star sweater is knit with Cascade's Superwash, and was a lot of fun! I took the photos in their garden.

I've had the FiberTrends Felted Clog pattern for months now, and finally knit a pair for Mitch's (my Seattle architect brother) birthday this month. I admit to some silly challenges since I seem to have a mental block about reading a pattern through before starting. Sigh. I did complete them in time for his Sunday morning visit and had him try on the oversized pre-felted versions. He was a little suspicious about why they were so large, but cautiously suspended doubt as I dropped them in the washer for the agitation stage. Maverick became agitated himself since I dropped in half a dozen tennis balls - he guarded the washer all day to keep track of those balls. Mitch and I had a rare chance to hang out and talk while the magic happened, and he was thrilled with the results. He is so talented himself that I'm truly happy to give him something made with my own hands.

My Blue Moon order of Karen Alfke's Linen-Cuff sock pattern arrived with a lovely skein of Lunasea colorway in Silkie Socks That Rock. I didn't think the linen stitch would show up with that yarn, so I knitted them in the Bright Leaf color in Jitterbug (right). Athough the yarn is not medium-weight, I blithely followed the instructions for the cuff and like the resulting texture and weight very well. When picking up for the foot of the sock, I decided to have an emphasis on the cuff and picked up with a purl row before beginning the foot. I wore them yesterday (unfortunately, Seattle weather isn't warm enough yet to make wool socks uncomfortable) - I love them! And I started right up on my Regia self-striping socks! Must always have sock project for travel purposes!
Some progress has been made on my Rowan Lynton cardigan knit from Rowan's Cotton Jeans yarn - I'm just to the decrease point for the neck on the front pieces and still have the sleeves and collar to go. I love the sweater and the yarn so was puzzling in my Skills Building class with Rebecca about why I'm taking so long to finish this garment. Having to frog the fronts at least four times to get the correct increase slant for the angled opening and knitting this beautiful yarn so tightly to get a jacket texture on needles I truly dislike have each contributed a negative point or two. I'm working hard to stick with it so I can wear this sweater by July. I'm just hoping I won't NEED to wear it in July.