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June 20, 2010

The Blog Backlog or Way Overdue

I've been rather, well, lax on writing blog entries. Horribly out of shape as far as posting goes. So, here's a quick summary and backlog of my events and life in the last 6 months.

January: the rabbit died. Actually, he did. Old age, poor bunny. Smokey was about 5 or 6 years old, quite a good age for him. Not sure why, but he just stopped eating, then stopped drinking, and only wanted to get his head and ears stroked. Then he laid down, went to sleep one last time, and stopped breathing a few days later. I miss him terribly, and so does his roommate, Mr Cinders. Cinders is actually my mother's angora rabbit, but now we both “own” him. The ground melted out enough between the January snow storms that I could dig a hole with help from my brother to bury poor Mr Smokey. Then it snowed a couple days after that. And it kept snowing off and on. I was very tired of digging and moving snow, even if it was only an inch or two, or 3 feet, like the February snows.

February: major neck surgery. Not for me, for my mother. There was major pressure at 4 or 5 points on the spinal nerve, not good. The surgeon did excellent surgery, cervical lamenectomy with instrumentation and fusion I believe the exact phrasing was. My spelling might be off, but the neck bones were opened up in the back by having the bony knobs removed, little screws and rods put in along the back on both sides to stabilize and strengthen her neck, and pieces of the bone that was removed was used to fuse the neck bones in place.

The result? A momma who can walk, talk, and fold laundry. The past 3 months have been recovery months, where we concentrated on getting her healthy and strong again. As of the 19th, 4 months!

Wow! I still look at the before and after x-rays, and marvel at the beauty of the after views. No pressure on the nerve, nice open spaces on either side, and best of all, she's able to drive the car, walk as much as she wants, and starting to add more activities back and get her life back to normal.

When we had the major snow storms (I'm still debating calling them blizzards yet) that left about 3 feet of snow each, with a couple days of each other, I was soooo sick of shoveling snow! If anyone else was able to just sit and knit, I envy you. I shoveled to get out of the house safely. I shoveled the next day to get out of the driveway. And shoveled some more the next day to make room for the second snowfall, not expecting the same amount to fall on top. I know we had drifts and shoveled piles taller than 6 feet along the driveway. I lost my Subaru twice in those snows until I could shovel it out.

March: sock designing. Cherry Tree Hill Yarn advertised that they were looking for designs for a new sock line, Fingerpaints. I quick ordered a skein, and before it arrived, started plotting and planning what I would knit up. A week after ordering, the skein arrived, I pulled it out, wound it up, and started with a swatch to see what my stitch gauge would be. After I figured that magical number, I ripped out my swatch, cast on, and started the sock itself.

Planned design 1, rejected. Planned design 2, rejected. Planned design 3, rejected. Hmm, what if...? Rejected. By rejected, I mean I rejected the stitch pattern. The yarn just swallowed up and spit out the stitches as bleh, uck, yuck, and not so good. You have to be careful with stripes that they don't get lost themselves, or your stitches get lost in the stripes or muddy the colors.

Finally, a design came out, and I finished the first sock, a toe-up knit design.

Okay, challenge part two, can I make the same sock, but from the cuff to the toe? And before a week was up? No real time deadline, but I wanted to send my sock pattern and samples off as soon as possible. I ended up leaving myself only about 2 days to finish my second sock, yikes!

Whichaway socks 1

I did not make my original self-imposed deadline by a day, knitting feverishly until past midnight, but leaving the final yarn-end weaving until I had tucked a decent amount of sleep into me first. I've learned (the hard way) that my finished socks or knit garments look best if I don't weave in my yarn-ends while I'm tired or sleepy. Nope.

However, I was the first designer to submit a matching pair of socks, with written instructions and design. I'll write more about the after submission stuff in another posting later.

Whichway Socks image 2

April: finished a gray monster sweater. I started this sweater the same day that Mom had her neck surgery, and did most of the knitting while she was either in the hospital or the rehabilitation section. Hmm, that's about 2 weeks worth? I kept knitting on it just about every day, with a couple times breaking away for one of my ongoing pairs of socks for something a little different. I finished the actual knitting the day before the Fingerpaints yarn arrived, so the final yarn-end weaving didn't happen until, um, a month or so later... At least I can honestly say it took a month to knit the sweater. It's sitting, folded, washed, clean, waiting for the moment it gets presented to someone...

May: Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, nephew high school graduation. If you were at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May, those red-and-black socks on display, in the Black Cherry colorway of Fingerpaints yarn? Yep. My design. Whichaway Socks are available for purchase at yarn shops that sell CTH patterns or from here.

My nephew graduated from high school. Yes, the cute little guy who dumped goldfish crackers on the floor when he was a toddler? Still good looking, but lots taller, and no longer dumps the crackers by accident when he wants to eat them. Future videographer, director, and all around artistic guy. I have a feeling he'll be the next Spielberg of animation and video. I'm not that biased, now am I?

June: summer evening ritual. Yes, I have developed an evening ritual. My brother kind of started us on the first part of it. When it starts getting dark, I tend to want to pull all the curtains closed on all the windows. My brother stopped me from closing the kitchen window curtains and the back door, so we can watch the sun setting and the lovely colors through the trees and watch any clouds overhead change from gray to gold to red to indigo.

I caught myself in a variation of this ritual, my own evening ritual. I finally realized it a couple days ago. Around 8:30 p.m. or so, I'm scanning the treetops and the sky as I do something at the kitchen sink, or sit at the kitchen table, I'm looking out the windows. Watching. Waiting. Then, bat! Hey, there's batty! There's another bat! Yes, little bats, swooping around, going here and there, eating the evening bugs in the sky. All's well with my world, the bats are back, and our mosquito population is hopefully a little smaller.

And now: My current project is a shawl in fine lace weight yarn. Really fine, cob-webby lace that I'm knitting up. I started using an old pattern from a free-domain pdf document of Shawls by Beehive. I translated the directions from the terminology and abbreviations they used to slightly more “modern” abbreviations. I even re-charted the main body and edging stitches. The original yarn I started the shawl on came from Creatively Dyed yarns and was purchased at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. However, I wasn't quite happy with the design, and discovered I was, um, running out of yarn. Okay, sit that hunk of knitting to one side for unraveling and re-purposing later on. Mail order 2 skeins of finer lace-weight, and re-work the pattern completely.

I'm working a (hopefully) square shaped shawl. The body of the shawl is using Print of the Wave, and the edging is being knit along with the body of the shawl in a slightly more traditional scalloped/pointed Shetland edging I modified from a Shetland lace book I have in my library. The look is extremely lacy, like cobwebs so far. I can't wait to see how the finished and blocked shawl looks, and hope I get it finished before the recipient's wedding in October.

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