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