Friday, December 24, 2010

Glory to the Knitters

We know knitters are a bit different from the average muggle. For one thing muggles think we are the most patient people they have ever met, not knowing that without our knitting keeping our fingers busy and creating something useful from 'wasted' time, we might actually bite someone's head off.

We continue to amaze the folks at Doctors without Borders, although when a volunteer calls and I say I have already given through Knitters Without Borders, being muggles they don't know what I am talking about.  Knitters have contributed $1,062,217 out of a goal of 1 million $.  This amount is still increasing  as the emails get counted.  You actually do give to Doctors Without Borders but then you email the Yarn Harlot and it is counted in the Knitters' totals separately.

Some of us give and some knit and some do both for causes local and around the world.  I believe we do this from our hearts, expecting nothing in return except that we feel better knowing that our efforts have helped someone somewhere. 

Recently here in Ithaca I wrote about the grad students learning to knit and then each giving one item to our community effort to help the young adults at Trinity Place Shelter in NYC. We also attended community knit-ins to work on other items.  The woman who coordinated the effort has let us know that we sent 15 scarves, 30 hats, hand warmers, leg warmers and a lap blanket plus a box of new socks and underwear.

The shelter's executive director wrote, "FYI, Your queer knitters not only saved Christmas but also our beloved youth's cold fingers, noses and toes!!!! :) THE BOXES HAVE BEGUN TO ARRIVE!!! Hats, gloves and scarves were given out immediately, tonight! To much fanfare and immense delight of the youth!"

This morning I saw this amazing video and just had to share it with you all.

If you are so moved please make donations payable to:
Livability John Grooms Norwich
and send them to:
The Knitted Christmas Tree
John Grooms Court
215 Sprowston Road
Norwich NR3 4HX
United Kingdom
Thank you

What an extreme pleasure it is to share this craft with so many talented heartfelt folks. 
Happy Holidays.
Our regularly scheduled blog will return in a day or two with Holiday Knitting results.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Medical Miracles

I am not generally a fan of western medicine.  I think pharmaceuticals are used way too often when prevention or something else like more exercise, better eating or losing weight might be a better option.  However when it comes to surgical procedures I am a real supporter.

Jim's back has been hurting him for 10 years or more.  He has had progressive neuropathy of his feet resulting in his dancing when standing still (just to maintain some balance), no feeling on his soles and rarely being able to bend his toes.  In the past year the pain associated with all off this has grown and grown to where he could not bend over without severe lingering pain.  He did see a neurologist many years ago but that guy basically told him to 'suck it up'.  Being a guy, that is just what he did.  sigh

After many months of nagging gentle persuasion and the fact that he really really wants to paddle the Adirondack Classic again (he's raced it 13 times and won 3 times in his class) he agreed to see a physician a couple of months ago.  An MRI was taken and an appointment with a neurosurgeon was made.   Dr. Gregorie showed us the MRI on a computer.  It was fascinating (well most stuff technological is fascinating to me).  He could switch from one vertebra to another up and down Jim's spine.  The triangular area inside the spine was mostly clear except for between the 3rd and 4th lower vertebrae.  In that section it wasn't grey or dark grey, it was black.  Actually it was rather scary to think that Jim's nerve endings were trying to live and breathe inside essentially no space.  The soonest the doc could schedule surgery was 3 weeks away.

Once this appointment was made Jim stopped 'sucking it up'.  I got to see just how much he had been compensating for his poor back being so arthritis ridden.

  A couple weeks back I was getting worried about getting to the hospital by 6:30 am in the snow.  The hospital is in Sayre, PA, about 50 minutes drive south through the back of beyond from our house.  I searched on the internet and found only 2 motels in the area.  Both were rather high priced for just sleeping time for two nights - the night before and the night after.  However Cathy C's niece has connections so we got reservations at an extremely reasonable rate.  Turns out this was a great plan as we were expecting 4-8 inches by Monday night.  Cole, our pet/house sitter came over earlier than planned to get a snow blower lesson and we took off early too so we could drive in the blowing snow in mostly daylight.

This morning was the day.  The promised snow had not arrived in Sayre but it was 12 degrees and very windy.  We got up about 5 and to the hospital by 6:25.  Jim was taken in quickly and I was told he was in the operating room by 8:45.  I brought some hand dyed (by me) and hand spun by Jim mahogany bfl/silk cable plied into a 6 ply yarn to make him some toe up socks.

  It's like a prayer shawl.  I knit and send love at the same time.  I plugged in my earbuds to listen to the latest Chet & Bernie story and knit knit knit.  Did I mention how nice and helpful and friendly just about everyone was?  Well, it was a positive peaceful experience sitting there waiting and praying and knitting.

Somewhere around 10:30 Dr Gregorie came out to report that all was very well and that he thought Jim would be walking by this evening.  He said Jim would sleep for another hour and then be taken up to his room.  About 12:00 one of the volunteers suggested I put all my stuff behind her desk and go have some lunch as the Inn was rather full at the moment and it would be another hour before Jim's room would be ready.

That I did.  We can leave out the quality of the food in the hospital cafeteria.  I will rant on this subject another day.  Suffice to say the amount of salt and healthiness of the food offered is way behind surgical techniques.

Finally Jim was taken up to the 7th floor where he was encouraged to walk from his bed in the hall to his bed in his room. Being still a bit woozy he made it just fine with a bit of help and remarked that for the first time in memory he did not have shooting pains down his legs or lightening bolts in his back when he sat up and lied down.

And for the big show

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two more checks

On our trip down d'Nile we are about to enter the inundated land.  I must say we have been inundated with snow and rain here too.  Well, they probably don't have any snow near the Pyramids but this winter season who can tell.
I only see cattle, no sheeps but there are definitely still camels about.

MVOS's package is wrapped and ready for pick up tomorrow!!


Sneak peeks of the final products.

Well the one below is also wrapped and ready but the pic is from shortly before I did the bind off.

Anyone wishing to see the entire pretty thing and is a ravelry member, go here.

I am hoping that after Xmas I can post a pick of mvos and this item together.

So there are now checks next to #1, #2, #3, most of one for #4 and one for #7.
The toe of one of Jim's socks is started and another 2 inches on the shruggy are completed.

 I now get to watch a netflix episode of Bones as reward.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


We all use some kind of tool everyday in so many ways.  Sometimes a low end one will do the job or an almost right one can do in a pinch but at other times we really really need the right tool.

BTW - Does anyone know what these guys in the print are doing?

For example: a dollar or $5 or $10 bill can be substituted for a ruler or tape measure.  American bills are ~6 inches long (6 1/8 to be exact) by 2.5 inches wide.  So half a bill is 3" and half of that again is 1.5.  Put them all together and you have a rather versatile measuring tool.

This method has come in handy several times since Jim cottoned me to the measurements.

In knitting having more than one needle choice is an excellent plan.  Mostly I do have that from getting cheap inexpensive ones while on a trip and just having to start some new found yarn or project immediately despite the 16 UFO's I brought along.  I have 5 needle holding containers (6 if you count the shop).  One with the clear Knit Picks interchangeable circular set, one with my original Denise circular interchangeables, one with third or fifth level circular needles, one containing only dpns and one with first level circs being mainly Harmonies with some ebony and such thrown in.   So there I was working on mvos' pretty thing and did not have any choice but to use either dpns or a US 4 Bryspun which I think doesn't flow the stitches well until US5 or 6 or some dpns. I looked and looked but somehow missed getting US4 16" circs.  Amazing I know.
  I have lots of dpns in birch and surina and bamboo woods.  As I have said, not having fun on a present is the pits so I put it down and was about to order US 4 16" fixed circs when Jim told me they were already on their way.
Each year Jim gets me some needles from Knit Picks for either my birthday or Xmas.  This year it was fortunately for my birthday which is only a few days away.   When he heard me grousing about the cashmere floating away from me on the surinas he asked if I wanted my present a bit early and handed me the Knit Pics box that had just come in.   What a guy!!!  US 2, 3 & 4  16" circs, 2 of each.   Thank you big time Jim!!

I am now half way through her present, cruising right along using the best tools possible.  I probably could do a commercial for Knit Picks needles but think they already know how wonderful their product is.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warm Sunshine

After a relatively mild November, December is making sure we know it is Winter now.  Its been snowing for days.  I am feeling light deprived, still taking my daily dose of Vitamin D (as many northeasterners have a Vit D deficiency!!) but suppose I will adjust soon.

A √ on #9 - one of the mystery items found in the yarn room.  
This is the Deathly Hallows hat I showed you yesterday - well my version anyway -  a quick satisfying knit.  The decreases are a bit funky but in mohair who can really tell?  I also added a many faceted black button on top that reflects all the deep rainbow colors. I think I am either in LOVE with this hat or with the yarn.  I know not which and really don't care but do love how it looks on.  Good thing it is now earmarked for my DIL.  
Of course I don't know what her winter coat looks like as I have not visited her in the winter months and have a feeling my son and grands don't remember it either as they have avoided answering that question.  They live way on the other coast in sunny CA so maybe she wears it a couple of weeks in January?  I wouldn't remember what it looked like either if I only saw it that infrequently.  However I know she gets cold easily and also values hand made items.  With the deep rainbow it should go with almost anything.

PS - The Knit Picks needles came in today!!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010


          While we are inside exploring a tomb we don't notice that is is dark and snowy outside.

I was working diligently on mvos' pretty thing but getting very frustrated with the dpns as the stitches kept falling off the ends and with that particular stitch pattern I was having problems keeping ladders out of the piece.

  I thought, 'I should be enjoying' this so stopped at line 10. However I did have fun in Photoshop disguising it. Now I am patiently awaiting size US4 16" Harmonies to arrive.  Only 1 ladder to worry about and no more stitches falling off.   Then the fun will certainly happen.

Meanwhile I used this as an excuse was compelled to start the Deathly Hallows Hermione hat from the movie.  I saw the hat, the scarf and the mitts but the hat really grabbed me.  Do any of you glom in on the knitted items when watching movies?
Ravelry is so fantastic.  I just searched for 'Hermione Hat' and up it came.  One very nice knitter, Grace Falls, figured it all out after seeing a preview a few months back.  The pattern is free and easy.  I am knitting it from some Stash Filature di Crosa Multicolor mohair.  Hard to see the pattern but a very lightweight neat hat.  BTW the scarf and hat are listed on there too.

The tote for Amelia was dry today.  I took out all the books and tried it on.  UH OH.  The bottom did not lie next to my body but at right angles to it.  OH NO.  What to do? 

 First I thought the pattern was all wrong but upon looking more closely I see where I made an assumption instead of following the directions.  My bad!!!!   Now I will have to cut off its head.  I think if I cut off the top part, above the mohair, and then sew it back on a quarter turn it will be OK. I can take advantage of the opportunity to sew a pocket in too.

So no √s today but some progress - forward, backward and stand still.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Nothing like camping out overnight to sleep under the stars. Have mostly done this in the Adirondacks, Alongquin Park in Canada and the Boundary Waters in MN.  However on this virtual cruise we can rest under palms and see the night sky over the pyramids even with snow actually coming down. 
Oh-- and collect camel fluff in the mornings.

Last night I completed knitting the Music Bag for Amelia or, as Jim says, a sock for an elephant.
(That's Joanne modeling.)
Cascade220 Quatro turquoise/brown/teal, Cascade220 Heather brown and Cascade220 solid cream.  I added some stash turquoise Italian mohair to the sections above and below the potential music notes area.  This was such an easy knit with a cool method for the strap. Two Measures of Joy by Elizabeth Mamo.  Great social knitting or for when you are too tired to do much thinking.

This morning our washer played aggressively with the 'elephant sock' resulting in this book stuffed tote.

Another, but secret project, was started this morning for mvos (myveryownsister).  Too bad I can't show it to you until after Xmas.  The yarn was spun in late July and kept in a baggie awaiting the Cruise.

Maybe I can do something to it in Photoshop-hmmmnn.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cruising by the Sphinx

Coming right along on the steady current of d'nile.
Stopping to view some pyramids and sculptural remains of the Sphinx but goin' right on by to Item #3-

Texting mitts for granddaughter Alicia.
Made from hand dyed alpaca/merino/silk plied with itself in blueberry patch and angora/merino in blueberry plied with some starry night silk turning half a check into a full √.

And lack of sleep the elasticity of time is producing this
oversized tote that shall be felted down to a useable gift so now its got half a √.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Goin' down d'nile

Thanks to the comments and encouragements.  You are really enabling helping me.   I have decided that I firmly believe in the elasticity of time and that lack of sleep will give me an edge (maybe a blunt edge, but still).

 In the mid 1850s W H Bartlett visited Egypt and travelled down the Nile by boat. He recorded his impressions in a book called 'The Nile Boat or Glimpses of the Land of Egypt'. The plates in the book were engraved from his own drawings except for the material from Abu Simbel which he did not reach due to illness.  The plates here are reproduced from a fifth edition of the book published in 1862.

And today we have #1

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Egypt time again.

So why do I wait until November to start Holiday presents is my main question???   I do it every year and every year I get nuts.  Yarn does not spoil or mold as our stashes have shown us for many years so why do I think a knitted present will be old if I make it 6 months in advance?  Got any clues for me?

Here's my list:

1- hot pads for my mother  √
2- a specific something, maybe 2, for my sister but she reads this so I am not going to say.
3- texting mitts for one grand daughter - half a √
4- a felted bag for the other granddaughter - started
5- socks for Jim
6- finish my shruggy shawl to wear Christmas eve - half a √
7- a hat or a scarf for my DIL
8- a thank you scarf for Teri
9- there is/are probably another one or two hiding some where in the yarn room

I am not about to set a schedule as the Yarn Harlot does.  It would make me frantic.  Although it actually might bring home reality and save the cost of the cruise down the Nile.

Back to outer space.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh Baby!

At this point in my life I am thankfully well beyond having babies of my own.  Our children seem to be beyond that point as well, as the youngest grand is 8. Darn! As I do love making baby things and shopping for those cute tiny items.  However I hope the older grands, 16 and 18 wait a bit longer to procreate and not make some just so I can knit.

However knitting/spinning folk in my purview are currently creating little ones and that is just so fine. Even though I love making baby sweaters I really don't know how small to make them but just do my best and figure that at some point the dear little one will grow into them.

Aziza popped out fraternal twins in late June.  They are her third set, 2 girls, 2 boys and this time, a boy and a girl.  Aziza is also a twin as is her mom.

Sharon and I spun 4 oz Panda fiber for each project and then made these neat Presto Chango sweaters for Abram Clarence in Clematis Vine plied with Fern and, on the right, Zaylee Elaine in Butterfly Bush.

Meanwhile T was baking a boy for herself and DH Jeremy.  Little Theodore Joseph, to be known as Theo, was born on November 2 weighing in at 9lbs 10oz  of "total love muffin" to quote his mom.
Newborn Theo and his Dad Jeremy.

  The Garter Yoke Sweater and Berry Baby Hat was almost ready by that time.  Of course, it has yet to reach the tyke but hopefully next week our calendars will mesh.  It's knit from our new sportweight superwash merino yarn.

Next up was Kristin. She was was not due until January, but the docs decided the baby was in danger so were closely monitoring both Kristin and the babe. Instead of a prayer shawl I decided to knit a prayer sweater (another garter yoke). The Berry Baby Hat (my fav baby hat that has just a wee bit of fair isle at the tip and a top knot as well) was completed at 6:30 Wed evening, 11/24, and Julia Beverly was born at 9:01 by C-section.

Whew! I know a lot of people were sending love and prayers their way and am so glad to have played a small part in her safe passage to us here on earth.

She's only ONE pound 9 ounces in this picture.  Modern neo natal medicine is producing miracles but I am still sending love and prayers.

Hopefully by the time she is released from the hospital in January she will fit into this newborn sized outfit.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Paying it Forward

photo by Bill Price, III

Ruth A, Kris C, Ruth C and I are teaching knitting and crocheting to a group of Cornell grad students at Cornell's Big Red Barn on Monday nights. Kris, who is a manager of this grad and professional gathering place, thought the idea up as our previous charity knitting group was dissolving.

The four of us volunteer our expertise and services while the students gets these classes for free but, in exchange, make one item for charity for every item they make for themselves.

Our local Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Task Force, along with other local services, is targeting Trinity Place as our current receiver of knitted goods.  There have been 4 public knitting sessions at Out for Health with local yarn shops and dyers donating yarn and goodies for the cause.

I am used to teaching middle schoolers so the level of continued interest and understanding while teaching knitting is uplifting to me.  These folks have come a long way in just a few short weeks. Of course we have some attrition, but the students who have continued are fabulous.

We began with basic knitting, learning to knit a garter stitch swatch the first night, all with circular needles.  By the end of the evening several of the women had also learned how to do a purl stitch plus a long tail cast on.  We have given no homework but since these folks have an incredible self drive they continue as time permits during the week.

For the second session several were ready to start a hat in the round, while a few frogged their swatches and became much better at keeping a consistent tension and number of stitches on the needle.

As the women ask questions we talk about knitting history and knitting language and knitting culture. The hour and a half flies by, and goes even faster when Ruth and I are treated to a glass of beer.

I made a Beginner's Hat sheet for them to follow.  Essentially, finding gauge from their swatch, measuring their heads and figuring out how many stitches to cast on.  Most came out with 4.5 st/in which is spot on for the yarns we were using (all worsted weights).  The majority started a hat that evening.  Basically a tube that is kitchenered at the top. Then the ends are folded down and held with a button.

Cute and simple.   By Session 3 we saw incredible progress.  One student had finished her tube and was waiting for kitchener instructions, but was so in love with knitting she went ahead and started a second hat with a ribbed bottom.  Another student made up her own stitch, which was really a version of basket weave 5 x5, only hers decreased  to 4 x 4, 3 x 3, etc as she decreased stitches on her needle, and then was stopped by too few stitches to move around the circ.  So that evening Ruth and I taught a few of them how to use dpns.
They are so incredibly into this!  I get so excited and high at these sessions just from the combined enthusiasm and joy we are all creating together.  Really, the beer is just an added bonus.

These are some of the crochet students.

Next week we were supposed to have a week off for Thanksgiving but our knitting students asked for a Field Trip instead.  We will be meeting at a local yarn shop, then going to Joanne Fabrics to look at buttons, then over to AC Moore for yarn shop contrast and then back to the original mall to have dinner or soft drinks and knit together for a while.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Announcing Estrella

I am pleased and proud to announce that my faroese shawl, Estrella, is now up on the Knit Picks IDP site.  This is the 5th pattern accepted by Knit Picks. They are incredibly easy and supportive people to work with.

I designed this shawl to start from the mostest amount of stitches and then decrease to the least.  My reasoning is:  I get bored or tired of a project after a while and if the amount of stitches is increasing then I have less chance of actually finishing the piece.  I am assuming some of you think this way too.
The instructions are line by line in a table format for ease of following.  

Check it out!

The other 4 are:

Butterflies and Kisses Leg Warmers - fast and delightful for any teenage girl on your gift list.

Sea Shell Socks as seen in the October Knit Picks catalog, p39.  A beautiful toe up sock that uses actual foot measurements to make sure this one fits the foot it is meant for.

Berry Pie Socks - a cuff down 2 color creation that is seriously easier than it looks.  Clear detailed instructions and pictures are included.

And the Linear Shawl - knit side to side.  This one is a good take along project.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here we go again.

I am in the midst of packing up the shop, so we can pack up the Uhaul so we can drive it to Fairport, NY (near Rochester) so we can unpack the Uhaul and set up our booth at the Lake Country Fiber Festival this weekend.

In the midst of this packing and printing of patterns and such I took a break to look at the Yarn Harlot's latest blog.  

November 10, 2010

Waiting Well

I am sitting in the Vancouver airport, waiting for my next flight, and knitting silk hankies into pretty mittens. 

I'm enjoying doing so in front of ordinary people, many who are perplexed and interested, watching me pull a single cocoon layer off  the hankies, peering while I draft and knit, then looking away quickly when I look up. The woman in the seat next to me all the way here was out of her mind with curiosity, but couldn't bring herself to ask. 

I didn't tell her.  They really need to take the first step before I go all missionary on them.
What are you doing? 
What a great idea!  I will have silk hankies, mostly undyed, available at the show for anyone wanting to try their hand at this neat project.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not south enough

I wanted to show you the inspiration for the Tamarack & Spruce Colorway.  It took most of the weekend and many almost shots to get any clear enough to keep.  The rain, snow, wet snow, sleet and greyness in the Adirondacks didn't help much but on Sunday there were patches of sun periodically lending not only some great light but hope for a clearing day ahead.
The above pic is on the other side of the 'Lake' from the cottage.  It really is no bigger than a good sized pond but the person who creatively named the lakes in the Fulton Chain - 1st Lake, 2nd Lake, 3rd Lake, etc chose not to name this one 3rd Pond (there's a First and Second Pond before the beginning of this chain) for some unknown reason.
This pic below shows a goodly range of the colors the Tamarack can turn as it sheds its needles.

The colors are about gone in the Adirondacks.  Peak was weeks ago and grey stormy November is settling in.  However I always find beauty in the area.  I especially love the Moose River and all its winding sections.  A number of years ago, when I was dyeing silk, embroidering on silk and in general making Art Quilts, I put this piece together.  It really embodies early November in the Central Adirondack Region to me.

We left the Adirondacks late morning with the temps at 30ish and and happily watched them climb to about 45 as we drove southwest, arriving home late yesterday afternoon, experiencing sleet, corn snow, rain, sleet, rain, snow etc along the way.  However we saw enough patches of sky to be hopeful for today (plus the forecast said it would be partly sunny).  I awoke this morning to this view out my bedroom window.  

Alas, 4.5 hours southwest is not enough.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quiet Time

Jim and I planned a nice quiet weekend away together (with Baz of course).  We come up here to canoe, hike, sit, read and just be peaceful.  The town the cottage is in has no overall internet or cell service.  At first this is difficult to get used to but once accepted it is delightful.  The cottage has electric, water, heat, great views and, of course, was completely refitted by Jim so is beautiful as well.

It usually takes me a day or so to unwind and get unhooked from technology but this time I must have been in dire need of being off the tech grid.  We planned a nice hike and a dinner or two out but other than that had nothing special on the agenda.  The weather did not cooperate as it has rained most of the weekend and today is 36 degrees.  So a thought came to me on Friday and I started knitting it.  I knit a prototype and wrote a draft for a lacy beret in about 24 hours.  I am so impressed with what I can do with so much uninterrupted time.
Usually, when up here, I hike from the cottage to town each morning to sit on the benches in front of the closed library borrowing it's wifi (along with several others) but the weather and temps really put a damper on that idea.  So I decided to wait until today at 3 when the Screamen Eagle opened to sit in their bar (um Draft House), have a nice ale, check my messages and write this blog.  I am also about to order a pizza to take back to Jim and Baz.