Monday, July 31, 2006

From UFOs to FOs

A brilliant new knit-along starts tomorrow at UFO August. The plan is to dig out all those still-in-the-works projects and get them finished!

Here are some of mine:

1. Icarus
Although this is not actually a UnFinished Object but rather a WIP (Work in Progress), I am listing it here because it is my first priority and really finishing it is a prophylactic if it is not to become a UFO. I need to knit the final row of the edging, do the bind-off, and block. I hope to finish it by Tuesday’s knitting group so I can hold it up at show-and-tell.

2. Linen Feather-and-Fan Shawl
I love the way this project looks, but it does not always feel so wonderful to knit. The linen yarn (coupled with my grandmother’s old and very slippery needles) is unforgiving and frustrating. I put it aside a couple of months ago with just another foot or so to knit. As soon as Icarus is finished, the next skein of Euroflax gets put into the ballwinder. The shawl will be my mother’s holiday present.

3. Irish Hiking Scarf.
I recently started this as a car-and-meeting project but keep frowning at it and wondering if I shouldn’t just cast on something else. I love the looks of the scarf and know it will be perfect for my father for his holiday present, but I cannot imagine knitting it right now. Perhaps because it is 100 degrees here....

4. Must Have Cardigan
I began this in March and quickly finished all the pieces and bought the buttons. Then I stuck it in my knitting basket because I chickened out of picking up all those stitches for the button band.

5. Blue Sock
I’ve finished one down to the grafting at the toes and the second down to the point to pick up stitches around the foot. They are knit with relatively large sock yarn on size 4 needles and I’m not crazy about the way they fit. The real reason I put them down, though, is that I dropped a DPN while car knitting. I’ve now replaced it, but I still haven’t picked up the sock.

6. Pi Shawl
I’ve finished all the around-and-around and just have the lace edging to do—which I have tried several times and keep making mistakes and frogging the border. I started the Pi while my father was in surgery and it means a lot to me. He’s currently going through radiation and chemo and ideally I could finish this project right as he’s finishing his treatments early this fall.

7. Laura Ingalls shawl
A holiday present for a young friend. All it needs is a decision about bordering (fringe? plain?), having its ends sewn in, and a good block.

8. Birthday Bunnies in Ballarina Suits (both due in the early fall)
Both have sweaters almost finished, shoes knit, wool stuffing bought, and tulle bought. Neither actually has a bunny knit yet.

9. Birthday Fairytale Mice (both due in the late fall)
Both sets of two (for a total of four mice) have some of their clothes knit but not their shirts. And there are no mice....

And when at least some of these are done, I am allowed to cast on a new lace project, a new cable project, and my first colorwork project! Plus maybe a really quick bulky sweater, and of course more socks, and maybe some more fingerless mitts for holiday presents for friends. And of course, some hats and scarves made from my homespun. And, and....

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Ravenous Raven: Local Meals

Zucchini stuffed with ground beef from South Mountain Creamery and fresh tomatoes from our garden, covered in tomato sauce from Toigo Orchards
Corn on the Cob, roasted in its husk from our CSA Licking Creek Bend
Roasted Okra, just a teaser for what we hope will be a bumper crop, from our other CSA Red Wiggler
Steamed Cabbage from the first CSA

For dessert we had fresh peaches from the first CSA with Feta de Provence made by Keswick Creamery, one of my favorite vendors at the local farmer's market.

This morning we had more of the CSA peaches with Seven Stars yogurt and Takoma Kitchens granola, both bought at our local co-op. The flowers are from our one of our CSAs, too.

And for dinner tonight? Siamese squash!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jog

We've said goodbye to the beach and to my parents and driven the long way back to Takoma Park MD. In the car I started knitting the Irish Hiking Scarf, a holiday present for my father. What a great pattern it is. If anyone is looking for a first cable project, this one would be terrific.

I knit some on it last night at the Takoma Park knitting group. I always love seeing everyone and their projects! There was quite a crowd, including 4 youngsters--at least 3 of whom knit. One is a bit older and knitted the whole time with the grown-ups while the others knit some and played together the rest of the time.

Being home means that in addition to sleeping in my own bed and eating what I normally eat (lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains), I'm back to my spinning wheel.

When she said she loved wine-colored yarns, Kate reminded me of the fiber sent to me by Julia. It is a deep, deep red zinfandel-colored ever-so-slightly variegated fiber from Ashland Bay Trading. It is lovely to spin up! Thanks, Julia!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

One of this year's themes for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival was Native Basketry. There were basket makers from all over the country--from Alaska to Hawaii, from Washington State to Nevada to Louisiana to North Carolina to Maine.

One of the things I enjoyed most was seeing how absolutely different the traditions were. The other thing I loved was seeing how absolutely similar they were!

I love the two-tone basket this woman is crafting.

These two were made by a 12yo.

Seems that duct tape is ubiquitous. Here is is used to cover the hat mold.

These artisans from North Carolina even make basket people!

And here, just for Beadlizard, is a woman making very finely woven baskets and then embellishing them with miniscule beads. Incredible!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sock at the Pavilion

Sock goes to the Pavilion, an amusement park that Grandfather and Grandmother visited frequently when they were children.After this season, the Pavilion will be torn down to make way for new developments.

After he buys a few tickets and walks through the gate, he meets Clown! After contemplating the size of his own feet, Clown thinks Sock is ridiculously puny.

Sock walks around the park, admiring all the flying feet he sees--those big...

...and small.

He enjoys watching his family on some of the kiddie rides.

When he tires of amusement park rides, he poses for pictures:

He plays some skeeball. Knitter David tells him that he and Knitter Purloined played skeeball on their honeymoon.

Sock decides to head home after one last ride:

Also see Sock's Day at the Beach

Sunday, July 23, 2006


For the yellow jersey in Le Tour de Fleece:

(Note that the yarn is drying next to the grill untensils.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Ravenous Raven: Local Drink

Given the fact that we were out of town and having a relatively difficult week, we did not prepare a local meal this week. We did, however, buy a bottle of local wine at a gas station in North Carolina. Very sweet--with a delicious scent. Nice dessert wine!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Better Day

The morning begins with Sock and Icarus cuddling in bed.

After waking to the sun streaming in their windows, the couple head to the balcony to enjoy breakfast and an ocean view.

Right after breaskfast, Sock and Icarus head down to the pool for a little sun.

After Icarus heads to the hospital to visit Grandfather, Sock stays to sun himself some more...

...and watch Son swim.

He decides to stick his toe in.
Sock is offended! He is really a bit more than half a foot.

Soon he is even more confused:
He makes a note to talk with Knitter David.

Feeling like perhaps he does not belong by the pool, Sock heads for the beach to check out some naked feet. Looking at the footprints, he wishes Icarus could be here to appreciate all the bare shoulders.

Not wanting to turn red from too much sun, he relaxes under an umbrella.

Sock wearily climbs the stairs back to the hotel where he takes an afternoon siesta.

After his nap, Sock relaxes with a good book while Son finishes his nap.

After the boy wakes up and they await the return of Icarus, Sock joins in a raucous game of Twenty-One.

Sock is overjoyed when Icarus comes home with Grandfather!

P.S. My deep gratitude goes to David. Not only has he been willing to humor my fiber addiction. Not only has he learned to knit (this is his first sock making its debut in today's adventures). In an effort to entertain the sock y'all as well as amuse me at a time I'm under a lot of stress, he conceived of this post and took the pictures.

BTW, David informs me that it is even more dorky for a middle-aged man to take pictures of an unfinished sock on its touristy adventures than it is for me to do it.... I love you, David--especially your geekiness. Thanks for being here. And thanks for bringing the sock.

Also see Sock Goes to the Amusement Park

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A hard day.

Monday afternoon David and I took my father to the radiologists for his regular appointment and told them how weak he was. They decided to give him intravanous fluids to help his dehydration. After we left their office, we brought Dad back to the hotel. David dropped us off at the entrance while he went to park the car. Dad almost passed out in the elevator. I caught him and basically carried the 200 pound man into our suite. The 10yo girl in the elevator with us was so frightened.

We continued giving him fluids throughout the evening. Last night David was up every two hours feeding my father by tube and watching him for half an hour after he ate. This morning he was so pale and weak that we called 911. Amazingly, the ambulance and the EMTs were already downstairs, creating a map of the newly renovated hotel. They were able to be at the room in seconds. They took him to the hospital where he was admitted with dangerously low hemoglobin and a high BUN, meaning that he was both extremely dehydrated and in need of blood. As we knew, his blood pressure was very low and his pulse extremely high. He was not getting enough oxygen.

After the hospital admitted him, they set him up to get four or five units of blood and planned to scope him this morning to figure out where the bleeding was. He is there now.

When there is a crisis, I knit.

I completed the third chart for Icarus:

and slipped Pi off the needles onto waste yarn so I can knit the edging without having it all bunched up. Because Pi is a project so connected to my father's illness (See Lace 1, 2, and 3.) I am really glad I decided to do it. It gave me a chance to see it all laid out, and even though it is not blocked, to see a work in progress that seems so much more whole than I had imagined. Suddenly I can see that while there is a lot of very hard work to get through, it is not quite as impossible as I had begun to fear.

One of the weird things about raising young children is that even when things seem at their worst, life must go on. Sometimes Son is sad and scared, and as parents we feel we must be as calm as possible to make this easier for him to go through. Sometimes Son is precociously aware of my sadness. He drew a picture of me sitting as the spinning wheel with a balloon of my thoughts--a father in a hospital bed. In the picture I looked so absent and drained. But most of the time, Son is still his active funny self, eager to run around, play with words, go swimming in the pool or the ocean, and laugh. At moments, this makes me want to crawl into a hole and abandon my child. But fundamentally I recognize that this is the greatest gift my child gives me.

(By the way, Son wrote a story about knitting on his blog, The Little Giant. Please visit him!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Car knitting--and the beach

On our drive to South Carolina on Saturday, I knit up the handspun. Because the yarn was so thick in places, I used very large needles (size 13) and seed stitch, a stitch pattern that produces a lovely drape. After seeing the fabric, I suspect that smaller needles would have been preferable. Unfortunately, when I sampled at home, the yarn was at a thick point and looked best on the 13, and I did not bring a good alternative. As it is, the knitting looks somewhere between lacy and just scraggly.

When I had knit about three quarters of the scarf, our car's air conditioner gave out. The temperature outside was just shy of 100. We rolled down the windows, almost getting whiplash from the wind coming in as we sped down the interstate. Sweat dripped off of my fingers. The thick wool went back in the bag.

When we neared my parents' home, the air conditioner miraculously started working again. After a few minutes, I picked up the yarn and finished the scarf before we arrived at our destination.

And here is is, displayed on the balcony outside our room.

My parents both grew up at the beach. We are staying in a hotel suite, my father with us, while my mother gets a little break at home. Dad is not feeling well at all--no energy, a lot of nausea and vomiting, etc. He is sometimes so weak that he cannot easily lift his head off the pillow. It is hard to see him so sick.

We're feeding him via an implanted tube. The syringe that attaches to the port comes in a plastic case. Son has decided that the cases make perfect rockets, perfect sand toys, and perfect...

knitting needles:

David and I alternate who takes care of my father and who takes care of Son. Son, meanwhile, has spent almost all his time alternating between the pool and the beach. When he and I were jumping waves this morning, the lifeguard called us all out of the water when she saw a large school of fish approaching the shore. (She was not worried about the fish but rather about what might be attracted to them.)

After watching the fish jumping in the waves we had just been in, we came upstairs to our room. The school of fish was a bit further out, a darkness in the water. And swimming around the patch was, just for Shanti, a group of pelicans!

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Notions Bag

Ages ago, Jenn asked us what was in our notions bag. I saved her post on my bloglines but never got around to posting my answer. Recently, Theresa reminded me. So here goes.

My notions bag is a little zippered velvet pouch from the Tibet Collection, a store that sells fair trade items handmade in Tibet. Although the store is a predominantly online venture, the warehouse is located near where I live and has periodic sales of the sample items they use in photography for their catalog.

Inside there are two compartments separatated by a patterned woven insert.

On one side I keep a needle sizer that belonged to my grandmother, a small pair of sewing scissors, a stitch holder or two (one is currently in use), and a couple of crochet hooks for mismade stitches and the like. Usually there is a tape measure. Often I have a pen in here as well.

On the other, I keep wooden (and sometimes plastic hook-shaped) cable needles, two little handpainted needle cases (one large enough for tapestry and seaming-up needles and the other small for little sharp needles), and a tiny zippered plastic bag with stitch and row markers. I often have a travel-sized spool of some neutral-colored thread, or a hotel fix-it-up sewing kit, or a bit of yarn from a previous project. This is also the side that hold copies of the pattern I am working on, folded in quarters. Often there is a spare bamboo circular needle of some random size as well.

Although I usually do not carry this little box with me, at home and on long trips I keep a few additional supplies (more markers, a thimble, spare row counters, etc.) in a small round tin that used to be filled with delectable dark chocolate wedges.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Knitting (and Spinning) to Go

My friend R. gave me the fiber to spin up a couple of skeins of this yarn. After it is finished drying (and yes, it is being weighted down by a tomato can in the picture since it is, ahem, overtwisted), it will be packed in the front-seat travel bag along with the books on tape, bags of nuts and raisins, and maps.

To be OTN (on the needles) during our drive: a scarf, my first knitted object from homespun.


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