28 May 2018

Memorial Day 2018 and William McBride

A lot of people think Memorial Day is the same as Veteran's Day.  It's not - Memorial Day honors those who died fighting for their respective countries, whereas Veteran's Day honors all veterans, living and dead.  Not that there is anything wrong with honoring veterans, period, you know. :-)

Anyway, every single year I think of the poem/song below all day on this day.  I posted it a while back, but I'm sharing it again.  It is so beautiful, and so poignant, and I think it captures the feeling of all of us that are still here among the land of the living.


Well, how do you do, Private William McBride, 
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside? 
And rest for awhile in the warm summer sun, 
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done.

And I see by your gravestone you were only 19 
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916, 
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean 
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly? 
Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down? 
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus? 
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind 
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined? 
And, though you died back in 1916, 
To that loyal heart are you forever 19?

Or are you a stranger without even a name, 
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane, 
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained, 
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down? 
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus? 
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France; 
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance. 
The trenches have vanished long under the plow; 
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.

But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land 
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man. 
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned. 

And I can't help but wonder, now Willie McBride, 
Do all those who lie here know why they died? 
Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?

Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame 
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain, 
For Willie McBride, it all happened again, 
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er you as they lowered you down? 
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus? 
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

-- "The Green Fields of France"

Eric Bogle


I find it even more poignant when sung, so I'm sharing my favorite version with you.

24 May 2018

Just a Quick Check-In

We have reached that time of year when everyone except me will start to wax poetic about summer, even though technically it is still spring.  But Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, at least here in the U.S., and the weather forecast is calling for temperatures of and above 80 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, so what do I know??

I came across a couple of links recently, and thought maybe you might be interested in them too.

Have you ever seen a production of the musical "Carousel"?  There's currently a production on Broadway, and this article is about the woman who knit sweaters for it!

Have you ever thought you looked really nice, or had it all  put together, and then suddenly you see a recent photo of yourself, or see yourself in a window, and suddenly you feel like you look horrible?  I know it's happened to me recently, and it threw me for a loop, to be honest.  Well, Sue had the same thing happen to her, and she writes about much better than I'd be able to.  Reading her blog post made me say, "Yep, that's right!"  I like her phrase "Curating Confidence" - we all need to do that more often.

Other than that, I don't have a lot to report at the moment.  We are heading to WV on Friday morning for a long weekend visit with family and friends.  I'm looking forward to it, though I always miss the kit kats when we are away.  But we'll be home with them on Monday, and can have our own little holiday picnic.

I hope whatever plans you have work out, and that you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day long weekend!

22 May 2018

And Now It's Time to Put It Away Over the Summer

"Yarn, needles, and me,
Then knitting I'll be,
And in the end I'll be happy in 
My Blue Sweater."

[with apologies to Walter Donaldson and George A. Whiting, who wrote "My Blue Heaven"]

Yesiree, the person who has only finished four sweaters/tops in her knitting life (and one didn't work out at all), finished a sweater!

Pattern:  Zadie, by Mercedes Tarasovich
Yarn:  Cloudborn Fibers Highland Worsted, in the colorway Stormy Skies
Needles:  US 5 and 7
Modifications:  No modifications (at least not intentionally!)
Notes:  When I saw The Grocery Girls wearing the sweaters they had knit in this pattern for their show on Craftsy, I fell in love with the cables along the sleeves.  They talked about how simple the pattern was to knit and understand, and said they were doing a KAL so others could knit along, and that Craftsy would have kits on sale for the yarn.  I was busy with other projects, and as you know, I don't have the best record with KALs, but when I saw that the amount of the yarn I would need to make my size would cost only $35.00, I decided to purchase it and see how I did.

I've never made a sweater in this fashion - you knit the body, then put it aside to do each sleeve.  Then you start knitting the body again, knitting the sleeves in as you go, and then follow along until it's done.  You weave in the ends, graft the underarms, and Voila - a sweater!

The fact that the Grocery Girls made tutorial videos for it meant that even at 10:00 at night or 5:30 in the morning, help was available.  Watching them really helped with some of the techniques.  The pattern is well-written, but I just wasn't comprehending how some things could be done, and the videos made all the difference.

I highly recommend this pattern, and I liked the yarn as well, but if you have enough worsted weight yarn in your stash, you can just work with that.  I took a long time with it not because it was hard, but because I was interrupted a few times by having to concentrate on other projects or activities. 

The Tim took these photos for me last weekend, and though it wasn't really all that warm, the sweater was *very* toasty!  But it fits well, I think it looks nice on me, and I can't wait to pull it out next fall and wear it for longer than about 10 minutes.  

Look how nice the cable detail on the shoulders is!

Love, love, love!

Of course, with every photo shoot there are some outtakes.  Here's mine.  This is just as I was moving towards The Tim to tell him something.  He says it looks like I've suffered a brain injury.  I think it is absolutely hilarious, and I can't stop laughing when I see it!

The Tim says if I die in a terrible accident, he'll give the news stations this photo.  He's a real laff riot.

Anyway, the sweater is now put away until cooler weather, and other knitting is happening, so it's all good.  :-)

20 May 2018

When Swatches Lie

Well, OK swatches don't lie, but they can tell us things we don't want to know.  I have been wanting to make this top since last summer.  I didn't tackle it last year, because I was determined to finish my Cranberry Custom Fit sweater no matter what, and did not want to even think about starting something else.

But as you know, that sweater was finished, another was actually started and successfully completed (I still find that hard to believe!), and this year I decided somewhat informally that my knitting goals were going to include learning some new things.  (I say informally because for the first couple of months of the year, my knitting goals changed several times a day.)  So a few weeks ago I bit the bullet and purchased the pattern and some Quince & Co. Sparrow yarn in the colorway Port.  My "learning" for this was going to be knitting with linen yarn.  I know it's supposed to be tricky, and that it also softens and becomes much more lovely once it has been washed.

Starting off, there are already two things here that are So Not Me:  1) I actually purchased a pattern.  I am such a cheapskate when it comes to patterns, and I think it's because I feel like "little" purchases add up so fast I'm always surprised.  If I spend $$ on yarn, I'm spending all of it at one time, right in front of me.  But if I buy three patterns over the course of say, a month, and each one is $6.00-$10.00, all of sudden I'm surprised at how much I've spent; 2) I am trying a type of yarn that even a lot of really experienced knitters I know just won't even try, as they think linen is AWFUL for knitting.

I can tell you right now, that it's not really wind-able into a center pull skein - ask me how I found out. ;-)  But that aside, I got two skeins ready and knitted a swatch.  Obviously, it's different than using wool - I mean, it's got NO give or springiness at all (kinda like me on my best days).  But I didn't find it particularly frustrating, and I dutifully knitted my swatch, gave it a soak, and a bit of blocking.

Proof (and yes, it's a bit wonky.  Work with me here).

The pattern calls for 5.5 stitches to the inch.  I'm usually pretty spot on getting gauge, which is lucky because I'm not someone who can easily figure out the math/measurements/whatever involved to adjust things.  I measured in four different areas, and each time got 6 stitches to the inch.  GAH!  I asked God WHY SUCH TERRIBLE THINGS MUST BEFALL ME???? (Oddly, he seems otherwise occupied and not completely focused on my knitting.  Thanks, Obama.)

Sigh.  I don't want to go up a needle size, because I like the fabric I have with this swatch, and think going up would make it too sheer for my tastes.  The pattern says that the resulting top has approximately 2 inches of positive ease.  So it seems that my choices are to go ahead with this, but then possibly end up with a top much bigger than I would like, or actually go down a size, and then worry that it will be too form-fitting for my taste (and my form).

It's true.  These are the times that try men's [women's] souls.  WHY MUST MY SWATCH LIE TO ME????

I shall have to make a decision and go forth.  And I will, and hopefully it will all work out in the end.  But I didn't choose the color "Port" so I couldn't w[h]ine.  (I'll be here all week, folks!)

Anyway, if you have any words of wisdom, feel free to share.  If not, fall onto your knees and thank whatever deity you believe in that such tragedy has not entered your life (and you can also thank them for not making you Overly Dramatic while you're at it).


In other news, yesterday was of course the royal wedding, and the excitement level at our house was insane.  This photo pretty much sums it up.

I will say that I thought her dress was lovely, and I hope they will have a happy life.  I shall leave it there, since I have *many* thoughts about the entire topic, but let's just stick with the kind ones, shall we?


And, finally (yes!), I will just share with you that 40 years ago today, The Tim and I graduated from college.  I was first in the class!**

Have a nice Sunday.  I just saw the sun come out here, so I'm gonna get dressed and take a walk.

**we graduated in alphabetical order

17 May 2018

The Case of the Rattling Brain

I didn't really mean to be incommunicado the past few days, but things at work have just done me in, and only because it's the day before Friday am I able to function at any proper level.  And seeing as it's Three on Thursday day, why not do a post with that prompt?

So here are Three Random Things Rattling Around in My Brain:

1.  Tonight I want to swatch for my next knitting project.  I attempted to do so last night, but it was not to be.  The yarn was not cooperative for winding, and my thoughts were too scattered for swatching properly.  I am hoping to knit a summer top.  Actually at this point, I am determined to knit a summer top.

2.  I'm not going to be able to get going on fixing up the garden this year until the first weekend of June.  This weekend is going to be rainy (as the whole week has been), and next weekend we plan to be out of town for Memorial Day.  Yes, I know I could do things during the week, but once I get home from work the idea of physical endeavors that are not absolutely required does not appeal.  Also, how did next weekend get to be Memorial Day already???

3.  This summer, I really want to do some sewing.  I managed to clean up a lot of crap that was in the craft/office/sewing room last weekend, so that I can actually make it to the sewing machine and clear off the sewing table of things completely unrelated.  I have a bit more to do, which will work nicely on this rainy weekend, and then I can get started actually doing something on said machine.  At the moment, I'm not sure what my first project will be, though I must admit that Kym's tunic has me itching to want to try something like that.  But since I haven't sewn for a while, maybe I'll start small and work towards that.

What about you?  Anything interesting rattling around with you?

13 May 2018


Hello from rainy Philadelphia!  I signed up to do the 3K walk of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Breast Cancer Race today (it's always on Mother's Day here), but though I am not afraid of the rain (I like rain, except when I get soaked on  my way to work), I've decided to be a weather wimp and wait it out.  Partly because I packed away my sweatshirts in a fit of conscientiousness, and getting one out to wear would require more de-organizing and re-organizing than I am in the mood to do this morning.

Yeah, I know that was all superflous information.  So let's move on.

I have two FOs to share, so let's get going with the first one, OK?

Project:  These Socks Have No Class
Pattern:  Just a plain vanilla sock pattern made shorter in the leg
Needles:  Size 1US
Yarns:  All leftovers from other projects - the dark green is Reflections at Roclans Out of the Dyepot Merino Fingering, green colorway; variegated is Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in the Molly colorway; orange is Ancient Arts Fibre 100% Superwash BFL Wool 4-Ply Fingering Sock in the Orange Tabby colorway.
Modifications:  The socks are all modifications of a regular pattern!
Notes:  I was originally planning to make scrappy short socks, but decided that always changing to do stripes was more than I was inspired to do at the time.  So I grabbed the first three balls of leftovers, and made these.  I knit the cuffs in 2 x 2 rib for 12 rows, then switched to the variegated for 1.5 inches.  Then I used the Orange Tabby yarn for an Eye of Partridge Heel Flap and heel, then returned to the variegated for the gusset plus two extra rows.  The foot went back to dark green, and the toes reverted back to Orange Tabby.  They are weird but I really like the way they turned out.  :-)

So I have my next pair of socks for my Box o' Socks, and I have a feeling that they will amuse me every time I put them on.


Today is Mother's Day here in the U.S., and if you celebrate, I wish you a happy day.  I will close by sharing one of my mother's inspirational sayings from when I was growing up:

"If you're born to hang, you'll never drown."

And there you go.

09 May 2018

Differently Ravell'd

Wednesday has arrived, which means it's time to join Kat and others for Unraveled Wednesday.  This week I have no knitting to show, though of course, knitting is occurring.  Nope, today I am going to show you a different use of a different needle that I learned in a class this past weekend.

As I've mentioned before, this year I didn't make it Maryland Sheep and Wool, and I would have enjoyed it I'm sure, but since I knew for awhile it wasn't gonna happen, I wasn't too sad about it.  Then I saw that the Butcher's Sew Shop was offering a class in Beginner Embroidery on the same Saturday that everyone else would be taking the bus to Maryland.  Since I had a credit voucher from a class I had to cancel out of, I decided to sign up.  I know basic needlepoint, and can do counted cross-stitch, but I've always wanted to learn embroidery.  I figured there was no time like the present, and especially since the class was being offered at the location near to our house, I signed myself up.

There were about 15 people, none of us with any experience, which meant we were all in the same boat, as far as knowing how it all worked.  The instructor was really great, and incredibly patient.  The class was from 1-4 in the afternoon, and it was timed perfectly.  We all had a chance to learn the stitches she wanted to cover, and get a little bit of practice with them.  We learned back stitch, chain stitch, fern stitch, lazy daisy, cross stitch, satin stitch, branch stitch, French knots, queen  stitch, and spider stitch.  My efforts are below.  It was fun, and just challenging enough for my brain and hands, and I'm so glad I attended.

The only down side was not any fault of mine really, but you can see the fabric has some dark areas on the upper right.  Well, we all had the same project, and she had printed the image using an inkjet printer, on something called Sticky Solvy, which dissolves in water once you have embroidered the image.  As a result, as we were working, we all ended up with ink in our fingernails and on our hands!  But that's not really a huge problem as far as I'm concerned, only that the first time I noticed my fingernails I thought, "Wait - I washed my hands today!"

As far as my reading goes, I'm planning to start this book today during my lunch hour at work.

I've been intrigued since I first read a review of it, and have seen it mentioned favorably on a couple of podcasts.  My name finally rose to the top of the hold list at the library, so I am really looking forward to seeing for myself how good it is or is not.

And that's what's going on with me.  What kind of good stuff is going on with you???

04 May 2018

Let's Write Some Friday Letters

I had forgotten all about Friday Letters (were they originally Kym's idea?), until I looked at Bonny's blog today.  I enjoyed her post, and since I was in the mood to write today but was uninspired, I thought I'd do a few letters of my own.


Dear Pantsuit Politics,

Thank you for your podcast!  Not only is it interesting and lively, but it provides a calming influence in the current political climate.  Why can't the rest of the country talk about things reasonably like you do, and like we used to do?  In any event, you give me hope that we will somehow be able to move forward.  Keep up the good work.


Dear Camille Cosby,

WOW.  Really?  I mean, I'm all for loyalty to one's partner, but comparing your husband's conviction to what happened to Emmett Till?  And wanting the legal team involved on the prosecution side investigated for misconduct?  Wow.  Personally, I would have already dumped him, but in any case, I'd just keep quiet.  But you decided speaking out was the answer.  And ... WOW.


Dear Paul Ryan,

Admittedly, even on your best days, I think you are a tool.  But clearly you have never ever spent any time with Jesuits, or if you did, you *really* were not paying attention.  Thanks though, for the high level of amusement you have provided.


Dear Puerto Rico,

I know.  It's been 255 days and counting and still you are not really any better off in most areas where you were.  And hurricane season is getting ready to start again.  I love you, but right now that isn't helping much.  And I'm doing what I can to help, but I'm sure by now you have realized that since you are neither wealthy nor lily-white, and have only limited voting rights, the Orange Monster and his ilk can't be bothered.  I hope you get even a tiny bit of comfort from knowing that someday, somehow, it will come back to bite them all in the posterior.  In the meantime, God bless all of you.


Dear Springtime,

I've been told that you will be coming back, starting this weekend.  Please do.  You're the only thing standing between me and a too early, too long, summer!


Happy Weekend!  I  hope it's a good one for everyone.