25 September 2018

New Techniques

Hello there - I am still among the living, but still dealing with my cold and The Cough That Will Never End.  Not that it surprises me, since anytime I get sick and it involves a cough, I know that part will be around for the long haul.

The other day, I read or heard somewhere that there was a method for stranded knitting that allows you to secure the floats while knitting - as opposed to stopping to pick up and put down different yarn, which is what I have had to do with the very few colorwork projects I've ever knit.  It was mentioned as being included in the instructions for a pattern which I had not purchased.  I did have a pattern that I was going to start which had a tiny bit of colorwork, so I thought to myself, surely someone else has done that, or something similar and posted it on YouTube, right?

Right!  You can see for yourself here.  It's not the only one out there, but this is the method I tried and could "get," so to speak.  Of course, it doesn't matter how easy it is or is not if you are not paying attention to the pattern ... ahem.

Moving along.

Last year when I finished this sweater  and this sweater, I decided that if I could find another way than just the regular bind off for the neckline, I would use it.  I didn't like the way that the usual bind off made a sort of ridge on the outside.  I asked some of my knitting friends on Facebook, and more than one person suggested the Tubular Bind Off.  Some were kind enough to provide a link, but this one was the one I found the easiest to understand.  I'll admit that when I got to finishing the second sweater, I had to watch it, stop-n-go again, but in the end it was worth it because the neckline finish looks so very nice.

When I finally started knitting my Weekender, the pattern suggested using a Tubular Cast On, and linked to this tutorial.  I have to tell you, I watched that thing about 4 times, and for whatever reason, it made absolutely no sense to me!  So again, I headed to YouTube, and found success, this time by watching two different ones - this and this.  A really good thing about YouTube is that if you can't understand one person's video, there's a really good chance that someone else has made one that might turn on the light bulb in your brain, so to speak.

Here's the advantage, as far as I'm concerned:  if someone shows me something, and I can't remember exactly how it was done, I can jog my memory using illustrations in a book.  But - I am not a person who can easily figure things out with just a printed illustration.  For so many years, I would give up on trying to learn new techniques with my knitting, because no one could show me, and the photos/drawings in books meant nothing to me.  Now, with YouTube, online tutorials from yarn stores or other knitters, you can actually see in real time what is happening.  You can freeze frame to be sure you are doing it correctly, or slow it down to your preferred speed.  And in my case, at least, that is beyond helpful.

Granted, there are still plenty of things that are more easily learned one-on-one, in person.  None of the online stuff will ever replace a good teacher sitting next to you.  But today there are so many opportunities for learning things if you are lucky enough to have access to a computer.  And how many times do you hear or read that one of the ways to keep your mind healthy is to learn new things? 

I like to think that with just the three things I've mentioned above, I've bought some extra time for my brain.  And even if I haven't, for now my horizons are so much wider!

20 September 2018

Even Keel

I don't know about you, but even though many things and people get to me on any given day, there seem to be times when everything and everyone just seems to be SoMuch, you get the feeling that even if you could punch people in the face, it would not be satisfying and they would be the same way, but talking about how you punched them in the face, and then you would feel even more angry/frustrated/stabby, and so what was the point of punching them anyway?  As far as I'm concerned, physical violence is never the answer.  But *if* it was socially acceptable, but didn't make you feel better, what have you accomplished?  Zippo. 

I actually do spend a lot of time in my brain, and much of it is spent distracting myself or convincing myself that I should just do my thing and ignore things that put me off balance.  This is much easier said (thought?) than done, and my success is most of the time questionable, and occasionally satisfying.  Being that just even this morning (hours, people, there have only been hours in this day so far!) I have been overcome and had to work on getting to an even keel, and that it is Three on Thursday, I thought I would share three things that I try to do that usually help and sometimes actually make a big difference.  The caveat being of course, that it all varies based on time, place, person, and situation.  But you knew that, right?

1.  Make your brain your safe place, where you can think of what you wish you could say, do, etc.  This allows me to "get it out" of my system without legal or societal consequences.  Example:  Yesterday in a meeting, a colleague said something to me Right There in the meeting, and because I was at work and need to keep my job regardless of how I may feel about it, I did not respond.  Instead, I went into my brain and really let her have it until I was sure she would no longer be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I am the only person who knew this happened, and it actually made me feel better.  And slightly amused, because clearly I need help.  The point I'm making here is that it worked and I was able to continue in my day and keep my job.  Everybody wins.

2.  Every night before I go to sleep, I do my List of Fives, and the Three Breaths:
          Five things that went well/were good about the day
          Five things that didn't go well/that I wished I had not done
          Five things I'll try do do better the next day; then, three deep breaths in, three deep breaths out.
**Note:  on a good day, there are more than five of the first, and not even five of the second.

3.  Go outside yourself and make someone else's day better.  Here's an example from a recent morning's walk to work:  I was crossing the street, and another person crossed in front of me suddenly, and I bumped into them.  At which point they said, "My dear, please be conscious of your surroundings.  We nearly collided and injured one another." (They didn't say that, but I'm cleaning it up for you.)  Now, in the first place, the other person cut in front of me, and in the second place, why can't you just say Excuse me, or Sorry, and move on?  At that point, I decided that when I got across the street, I was going to treat myself to cup of coffee.  So I got my coffee, paid for it, and was walking out the door just as another person was coming in who was carrying a bunch of stuff and had no available hands to open the door.  So I held the door for her, and then also backtracked to open and hold the inner door for her, because it was no big deal and took no real additional time.  She turned to me and said, "Thank you so much, it makes my day that you did such a nice thing."  And I didn't think it was that big of a deal frankly, but I told her she was welcome and to have a good day, and it made me feel good to think it helped her, and I forgot about the guy who cut in front of me.

So there you have it.  This is how I manage most of the time to keep myself on an even keel, which keeps me employed, out of prison, and out of the emergency room.  I'm not saying it always works perfectly, or that it will work for any of you.  But I do encourage you to cultivate little habits or practices that make your life and your attitude more positive overall.  Even if it seems like it's a tiny thing, or something that might sound stupid if you told anyone else about it, as long as it works for you, it's good.

19 September 2018

I Wish This Cold Would Unravel Itself

So I am feeling somewhat better, but this is gonna be one of those colds that just hangs around to be annoying.  Sometimes I think if I could one more time, my innards will come spilling out!  At least I have been able to knit and read some, so things are looking up.

I did in fact finish the pair of socks that were so close to being done (FO post soon), which did a lot for my state of mind.  Next up, I'm gonna of course make more socks, though details have yet to be decided.  I just like making socks, and always feel comforted having a pair going. 

In my last post, I also showed this swatch:

which I am happy to report matched the pattern gauge.  So I have decided to try to knit myself a Weekender, by Andrea Mowry.  Everyone I know who has made one really liked the pattern and the resulting sweater. Supposedly it's a fairly quick knit, and right now that sounds good to me.  I saw on Instagram that Tracie of the Grocery Girls made one (pretty quickly too!) and then saw on the podcast that she loves it.  It's worth a shot, I figure.  However, I need to practice the tubular cast-on before I start in earnest.  That might take a bit, but rumor has it that it is a lovely cast-on once you "get" it, and I like to try new things, so that will be my next immediate knitting event.

I'm about halfway through Calypso, by David Sedaris (it's not long, but I'm listening to it, and that takes longer for me).  I'm truly enjoying it, as I pretty much love anything he writes, and having him read the audiobook makes it even better.  Then for my actual reading - you know, with my eyes instead of my ears - I just started this one:

because I don't think Bob Woodward will steer me wrong, into made up stories and speculation.  I'm about 30 pages in, and well, if I didn't know better, I'd think it was the most preposterous made-up story about a crazed fictional character ever.  Sadly, it's not.  Ugh.

So when I am not coughing up a lung, I'm feeling well enough to function at a nearly regular rate, and that's a win as far as I'm concerned.  What about you - any new projects or new books?

I'm joining Kat and the others today for Unraveled Wednesday - take a look and see what others are busy reading and knitting!

16 September 2018

Lost Weekend

Ugh. I am sick, sick, sick.  Nothing life-threatening, just annoying and exhausting.  The Tim had a bit of a cold last week, but it didn't really do much and was gone pretty quickly.  I had some sniffles early in the week, but kept feeling a little bit more icky each day.  A while back, we had planned to be in Baltimore this weekend, but had to cancel those plans due to The Tim's work schedule.  I had decided originally that I would just go ahead and take the Friday and Monday off work as originally planned, and work on some of my own stuff, enjoying an extra long weekend.

So much for those plans.  Thursday I woke up and thought, well, I'm getting that cold.  But Friday when I woke up, WHAM it had hit me!  Sore throat, headache, cough and congestion, the whole thing, soon followed by laryngitis.  I called my dr to ask for some cough syrup, and the good news is that in a very unusual development, she gave me the Good Stuff right away!  But that's really the only good news from the last few days.  I will probably stay home tomorrow as planned, but I am wondering if I should try to tough it out and stay home on Tuesday instead.  They are predicting heavy, all-day rain on Tuesday (left over from Hurricane Florence), and I'm not looking forward to slogging around in that.  Anyway, we'll see.  I'm lucky because a cold is my worst problem, but it is still frustrating. 


One of the things I had planned on doing was finishing a pair of socks I'm knitting for one of my sisters.  I am really close, and was hoping to have them completed by today.  But I have neither the energy nor the focus to even knit.  So they will have to wait.  I did have it together yesterday long enough to soak and block a swatch I'd made and immediately forgot about when I couldn't find my blocking mats. 

Before going any further, I'm waiting until I can trust my brain cells, but I *think* I have the correct gauge, which would be nice.  It doesn't matter today anyway, since I am still not able to knit without having to tear it out and start over once I'm feeling better.

In other news, Hamlet is getting more used to the cats every day.  Not that he was ever aggressive towards them, but you could tell he was perplexed when they would try to rub against him,  or try to cuddle with him.  He just had no idea how to react.  But the other day, he let the Koodle lick his ears, and yesterday he and Jack had a nose-to-nose moment.  Also the other day, he was even brave enough to sleep on his pad, though the Koodle was already there!

Baby steps, right?

OK, I'm calling it the end now - this has already taken me about 45 minutes to do, and I think I will take my cough syrup and see if I can take a nap.  I hope your weekend has been better than mine!

09 September 2018

Fiber Festival, Crazy, Cuties, and Cozy

Yesterday morning The Tim and I got ourselves into our trusty little car, and headed to the New Jersey Sheep and Fiber Festival.  We had gone a couple of years ago, but missed it since then for various reasons, so we were excited to go back.  It's a mostly quiet, pretty drive, generally with no serious traffic, and not so far away that you start to get itchy being in the car.  I forgot my camera but I know several others have posted photos of the animals and several of the booths, so I am not worried that you will miss knowing what sheep, alpaca, and llamas look like.  Though I had never seen a Jacob sheep with 5 horns until yesterday and it fascinated me, I have to be honest.  The angora bunnies were soooo sweet and didn't mind if you petted them, so I got my petting-the-animals fix. Well, at least a little of it ...

There were so many wonderful vendors, and I really really wished I had more available funds, but also didn't want to walk away regretting having spent too much.  So I made these two very small, but very happy purchases.

These two minis will go into my mitred square blanket, and remind me of a very happy day.  They were purchased from a lovely young lady at the Wandering Wool booth, and at $3 each, were a true bargain.  She was so friendly, and we chatted about the sweater she was wearing (one of Thea Colman's designs), the one she was knitting (her first attempt at a yoked sweater), and it was altogether a favorable experience.  She was as nice to me as if I'd purchased $1000.00 worth of yarn.

Unlike the one woman who was the owner of a sheep I was admiring.  She said, "I hope you're not a vegetarian, because this sheep is good eating."  I said that I was a vegetarian, and she said, "Oh I can't *wait* to see what you have to say to me."  And I responded, "I don't really have anything to say.  I'm an adult and I know how the world works."  And then I walked away, feeling bad for the sheep on several levels.

Sadly, I didn't see any of the friends I knew were there.  I did run into two people from our craft group at work, who were there because I'd sent an e-mail about it. So I was glad they decided to check it out.

But oh what a lovely way to spend a lovely day!

The other day I was poking around on Ravelry, and I came across something that I couldn't decide impressed me or appalled me.  In the end, I was impressed because, well, think how this poor woman's wrists feel!  I showed it to The Tim, and told him not to get any ideas ...

I don't know about you, but last week and the week before, there were a lot of back-to-school pictures in my Facebook feed.  But this one is and will always be my favorite.  

My niece Julie took this on her daughter Penn's first day of Pre-K.  I love how dad Keith and baby Oden look pleased, while Penn has followed her mother's instructions for a thumbs-up, but with her own twist to it.  From all accounts, once they got to the school and she saw her name on the classroom board, she was happy.  But this photo says it all.  I hear you Penn, I really do!

 Baby Oden (aka "Little Brudder") is doing well, and is becoming such a cutie!  Here is a recent photo.

I think he's gonna be a fun kid, don't you?

And now, today.  Right now as I write this, it's cool and raining outside.  I'm sitting here with a cup of tea, with Jack sitting on my lap and the others nearby.  I think this will be a cozy day.  Such a nice feeling - I'm gonna enjoy it in every way I can!

07 September 2018

Time for an FO Post: "Why Didn't We Go to Woodstock?"

Let me start off by saying that there are too many Patricks our family.  So you may be confused from time to time when I discuss so-and-so and Patrick/Pat, but I try to keep them straight for you.  The particular Patrick in this post is my middle sister's husband, Patrick.  OK now you know.

My brother-in-law Patrick will turn 70 years old this coming October.  He is a truly wonderful and good person, while at the same time, keeping all of us amused on a regular basis.  For instance:  A few years ago, he kept telling his friends, "All of my daughters are on MyFace."  (Mixing up MySpace and Facebook, somewhat clueless about both.)  After which statement, everyone in the family would cry, "STOP telling people that!!!"  His daughters especially find his various comments and behaviors at times amusing and/or embarrassing.  

But something that drives my sister absolutely around the bend, is when a song comes on from the 60s, or someone mentions a group/event from the 60s and he always asks the same thing.  For instance, on more than one occasion, we may be talking about The Beatles, and he'll turn to my sister and being 100% serious, will say, "How come we never went to see the Beatles?" and she will respond, "Because they never came to Wheeling, West Virginia!" in the most exasperated tone ever.   It's gotten to the point that all of us, when someone comes on TV who is/was famous will turn to one another and say, "How come we never went to see ______?" and then dissolve into laughter.

So ...

when I saw that Must Stash yarn was releasing a "Summer Concert Series" of colorways, and one of them was called "Woodstock," with each stripe representing someone/something related to that festival, I knew that I would buy some and make Patrick a pair of socks for his 70th because, "Why Didn't We Go to Woodstock?"  ;-)


Pattern:  My go-to vanilla sock pattern, done with a 2 x 2 ribbed cuff and 3 x 1 ribbing down the sock.
Yarn:  The aforementioned Must Stash Self-Striping Sock, in the Woodstock colorway
Needles:  US size 1
Modifications:  Nope
Notes:  These were such fun to knit!  Both because of the stripes and because of Patrick and his many funny things said and done.  And because if there was ever someone knit-worthy, it's him.  This particular pair flew off the needles, not just because I was having such fun knitting them, but also because Must Stash self-striping yarns wind up into two separate balls, meaning you can knit both socks at one time and know they will match.  (I still use dpns, but do one cuff, then the next, one leg, then the next, etc.)  I have never ever been frustrated or disappointed when using Must Stash yarns.

And so, these will make their way to him at some point in October, and I'm sure even though I will explain the whole thing to him, he'll still be puzzled, but then he'll turn to my sister and say, "Why didn't we go to Woodstock?"

And because she is a peace-loving person, he will live to see birthday #71.  :-)

Peace out, man.

(P.S. I don't think I'll tell him I work with someone who did actually go to Woodstock ... )

05 September 2018

I Can't Wait to Not Feel Sweaty

I'm serious.  I can't remember the last time I went for more than one or two days without feeling sweaty, and unless it's because of some huge physical effort or having been working out, I'm not a fan.  I keep telling myself that it will all be well in a few weeks, but a) there is not guarantee of that, and b) it's hard to live in the moment when you are a sweatball.  

In any event, regardless of how I am feeling about things, it's time for Unraveled Wednesdays.  Knitting-wise, I finished a pair of gift socks (FO post soon!), and just started another pair on Labor Day.  They are just plain vanilla socks, and so far I have the cuffs done.  No picture because I forgot to take one, but just imagine a 2 x 2 rib on a cuff, and you're there.

Reading-wise, I just finished Fascism by Madeleine Albright, which was really excellent if frightening.  (Sidebar: Did you know that as Mussolini rose to power, one of his slogans was that he was going to "drain the swamp?"  That seriously made the hair on my neck rise.)  Today I brought a library book with me to start on my lunch hour.

It has been on my to-read shelf, and I hope I will like it as much as I have liked other books of hers that I have read. I'll let you know.

On a more serious note, The Tim and I rewatched "Testament," a movie originally made for American Playhouse that then was released into theaters because it was so amazing.  The Tim had seen a reference to it in an article, and we decided to see if it stood the test of time.  It was originally released in 1983, so would it mean as much 35 years later?  I have to say that, putting aside all things that were out of date (no one had a cell phone - refreshing!), it was still as powerful, sad, and wonderful as the first time we saw it.  Maybe if you had not seen it originally, it would not have the impact it does, but I think the saddest thing about it is that in 35 years, we have apparently not learned anything.  And frankly, I'm not convinced that people today would react in the supportive way from the get-go that the people in the movie did.  Plus, there would be so much whining in this day and age, I'm sure I'd snap right away.  If you have never seen it, you may want to track it down, it is most excellent.

And that's it for today.  I hope anyone in the heat zone has been able to keep cool!