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!