Sunday, April 13, 2014

Deja Vu again, and again, and again...

I've just spent the last hour or so looking at my old and older entries on this blog.  I look at all the changes that have happened and realize that those entries were just the start.  I'm still changing and changing and will be doing more changing.

I have learned that some people I've known for years - well I didn't know them as well as I thought I did.  I learned that new friends can mean more to you in a short period of time than others can in years. 

And I have learned that government is government and ever the more shall be so.  In other words, SNAFU was created by government workers and is still the most appropriate acronym ever to fit so perfectly.  My recent experiences follow - and does show the SNAFU and FUBAR to their finest.  For those who do not know what those acronyms mean, I'll give hints or google them.  SNAFU is Situation Normal all _______ up.  FUBAR is ____________ up beyond all reason.  So the _____ is the same word in both situations and the G-rated word is Fouled.  Putting the two together as SNAFUBAR does make sense.

Ok now for my snafubar - AHA a new one - it goes as follows:

1.  Government of the US decrees that if you do not have health insurance, you must, under threat of penalty, go to a specified website and enroll.

I did that.

2.  Upon completion of said enrollment, an eligibility notice is issued.  Below are the highlights of the notice:

"You recently submitted an application to the Health Insurance Marketplace. We reviewed your application to see if you can get health coverage through the Marketplace and help paying for coverage and health services through:
 · A new tax credit that can be used right away to lower your monthly premium costs
 · Health plans that lower your out-of-pocket costs
 · TennCare (Medicaid) and CoverKids (Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)), which are joint federal and state programs that help with medical costs for people with limited income or special health care needs"


OK, that's what I thought this program was supposed to do.  Good, I'm in the right place.

Patience, grasshopper, there are lessons still to learn. 

elieve, which apparently advised me "You’re not eligible for a tax credit and cost-sharing reductions (lower copayments, coinsurance and deductibles) for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage because you or a tax filer who will claim you indicated on the application that they’re filing a separate federal income tax
return from their spouse."

Duh  I am legally married to DH.  We just haven't lived together in 1 year, 2 months and 14 days.  

The final time I called the government healthcare number,  I talked with a man who actually understood what was going on and said he could complete a new application for me and get this resolved.  We discussed the options.  
After more discussion I was advised that I probably would not like the premium amounts of any of the coverages available through the website.

Note:  My COBRA coverage from my former employer would be in excess of 2/3 of my monthly income.   The market health plans fall in a similar price range.

*** Actually the most recent earth-shattering business the TN legislation has been involved in was making hand-holding for minors in school illegal.  See this site for more information.  Teaser: 

Like any state legislature dealing with 8 percent unemployment and thousands of its residents facing disenfranchisement, the Tennessee Senate is targeting the menace of underage hand-holding.
Last week, the Senate passed SB 3310, a bill to update the state’s abstinence-based sex education curriculum to define holding hands and kissing as “gateway sexual activities.” Just one senator voted against the legislation; 28 voted in favor.
Since the bill specifically bans teachers from “demonstrating gateway sexual activity”, educators would be prohibited from even demonstrating what hand-holding is. Breaking these laws could result in a lawsuit, as Hunter from Daily Kos notes:

So we have Federal SNAFUBARs and State SNAFUBARs and I'm not quite sure which is worse.

Meanwhile on the home front Ravelry members are in the midst of Sock Madness 8 (SM8).  Round 2 is finishing up so I expect round 3 will start within the next week.  The pattern for sock 2 in SM8 looks so very elegant.  The challenge with #2 is called gauge.  Gauge for knitters is measured by stitches per inch and rows per inch.  My typical socks are knit at 64 stitches around - approximately 8-9 stitches per inch and 9-11 rows per inch.  Sock 2 is 80 stitches around and about 15 or 16 rows per inch.   Knitters achieve this gauge by using finer yarn (strands smaller around), smaller knitting needles and even tighter knitting.  Some times the result would be similar to bending rails off the train tracks with your hands.  Others may be a delicate fabric, elegant in appearance because of the tiny stitches.  Elements of the sock, in this case the Celtic Knot patterning, fit better in scale with the rest of the garment.  The last benefit I can think of would be durability, making smaller stitches means a more dense fabric so less to snag and catch on.

My personal challenge is a pattern called Leopold.  Leopold has pretty standard gauge.  I have 64 stitches on the needle. 
The patterns shown here are repeated on the other side of the sock as well.  This is actually my 4th attempt and so far (hitting head on wall for knock on wood), it is going well.  I'm knitting this as my participation in a knit-a-long (KAL) which is called do-si-do.  Basically you and a partner knit the same pattern.  It's all in fun and all participants support each other beautifully both with compliments (all well deserved) and help when problems arise and sympathy or cyber hugs when things go sideways (needle breaks at a wrong time or even personal things such as illness.  This is one type of support that can reaffirm your faith in people.

I realize I'm quite wordy but I ran out of one medication and rattling on and on (probably ad nauseum) seems to be part of what is happening to me as a result.  There are a few other things - I'm very emotional which is not like me at all.  Normally I have a very good public face - others don't see the emotions inside me - which also leads to people feeling I am distant and maybe even cold.  A massive headache is also raging on and on for the better part of a week now.  It does go away so my system says sleep.  I sleep but no rest.  Not a good feeling but help is coming.  I have an appointment set up where I can get some help at no charge, including medical care and the prescriptions.  That is a very good thing for me.

The next entry will cover Leopold - who should be finished.  The photo above is for part of the leg of the first sock.  I get to do all that over again for sock 2.  I think that may be part of the reason I do like knitting socks 2 at a time.  It's not possible all of the time and that's ok too.  I may have the 2nd Brucie going on as well.  I'll show the next unfinished socks to get some special attention.  Other things that get attention will be part of Show and Tell. 

Until then, Spud sends a glamor shot for you to enjoy! 


 



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

That'll teach you....

The above title is not the original one for this post.  The first post was almost completed - I was just adding a link to my insightful thoughts and bits of knowledge when my computer flipped out and ate the whole page, sending me to my link.  Gone.  All Gone - all my strenuous work and strenuous intellectual deep thoughts - gone.  

So the title is to remind me to save this thing regularly.  Then when the computer flips out, all may not be lost, just misplaced.

The reason this thing flips out, pitches a tantrum or whatever you want to call it, is because the little scroll pad that you use to move the cursor around is very, very sensitive.  So sensitive, I don't have to touch it.  Moving my thumb or hand over it can cause it to follow what it perceives as instructions.  I've tried to find settings to turn off the pad only but no-can-do.  One must use the keyboard and pad or neither one.  Not acceptable in my book.

The original title was Temptations and other Things.

So I will now attempt to recreate the original post but, please be advised, all my momentous revelations are gone - poof - not to be repeated.  But I am saving this so all won't be lost again, I hope.

Temptation:
temp·ta·tion
tem(p)ˈtāSHən/
noun
noun: temptation; plural noun: temptations
1.
a desire to do something, esp. something wrong or unwise.
"he resisted the temptation to call Celia at the office"

Definition courtesy of Google.

Not to be confused with the group from the 60's, The Temptations, often referred to as the Temptin' Temptations.

My first temptation is called Sock Madness.  Imagine over 500 knitters from all over the world waiting for a link to a pattern to be posted.  They grab their copies from the link, grab yarn and needles, cast on and go.  Please note the cast on may be before or after reading the instructions the whole way through.  The goal:  Be able to complete a pair of socks within the allotted time of two weeks, have a project page displaying both an in-progress shot and a finished shot; send an email to a secret address with a link to the project page included and a key word on the subject line.

Now Sock Madness turns into a knitting version of Musical Chairs.  There are X number of places on each team.  You must knit the pattern emailed to you and complete the pair of socks, project page and email before the chairs/places on your team run out.  And so on until the finalists from each team go against each other (I think) in the final round - the 7th pair of socks.

The additional part of the madness is that the participants are all over the world. Ravelry (Ravelry.com is a fiber enthusiast's version of crack or meth, being very, very addictive) now has over 4 million members and is where the meeting of Sock Madness Participants resides.  There are members on almost every continent (not sure about Antarctica) and so that means lots of time zones.  So the patterns might come out at midnight or 2 am or noon your time.  There are quite a few people who have the ability to complete a pair of socks, approximately a few hundred thousand stitches, within 24 hours - no matter what time it is in their location.  There have been comments about Scandinavians and Germans having some sort of genetic advantage.  Well, I'm German and Swedish and I'm not seeing any advantage.  Maybe they cancelled themselves out.

Where do I fit in?  Well I'm one of the people who finished under the heading reasonable effort.  I've finished at least one sock or, if I were knitting 2 at a time, finished at least the heel turn on both socks.  That means I will receive each pattern sent out during Sock Madness.  Some of the patterns can cost as much as $12.00 if purchased separately so getting them free can represent a significant savings.  Of course the yarn purchases required put you in the hole again.
 Please meet Brucie, the first round sock of Sock Madness.  Named for the shark used in the movie Jaws. 

That was one temptation I succumbed to.  Another was my first Test Knit.  Test Knitting (or crochet, etc) is just that.  A person is testing a pattern for errors, understanding the steps, reading a chart if needed, and even sizing.  I was testing a toe up pattern for a wonderful lady in the UK.  I love the pattern (which was free) but don't have a finished photo yet.

Here is my Pickled Peaches test sock.  The name is because the German yarn is Opal Sweet & Spicy colorway Peaches.  My German Grandmother would make pickled peaches and taught me how.  This reminds me of those wonderful gems.  Hmmm, note to self, look for peaches at farmer's market this year and make up some jars for gifts.

The third temptation is the Do-si-do stitch along, also on Ravelry.  This very fun event is where someone chooses a pattern to knit. Then they either find a partner to knit the same pattern, or announce they need a partner.  Last year when I participated, I knit a pattern called Chartres.  I called mine Flying Buttresses as the pattern kicked mine a few times.
Here they are from last year.

I'm dancing with one of the same ladies as last year and doing a pattern called Leopold.  Mine will be called Leopold or Leonard due to my confusion between Leonard Bernstein and Leopold Stokowski as a child (both were mentioned in Bugs Bunny cartoons).  I knew one was still alive (at that time) and one wasn't (i thought).  But both being well known in the field of music, well confusion was ok.
I would also get confused with a friend's cat - could not remember if her name was Gertrude or Geraldine.  Still can't remember.  She is either the oldest known cat ever or has traveled to her happy hunting grounds.  If cat years are similar to dog years, she would be a few hundred years old.

Spinning has sat on the sidelines while the crush of knitting was going on.  Now I hope to finish the skein I'm working on (singles only) and get it plied.  My next project will 
be either the cotton sitting over there waiting for me or some Corri-
edale sitting in my closet, also waiting.  The Corriedale is the remainder of 2 lbs minus the skein and bobbin I've already spun.  It's just white yarn right now - so no photos yet.  After it is all done, washed and pretty, then I will post a photo or 2 and figure out what I want to knit with it.  It should produce enough yardage for a lot of socks or at least one cardigan or pullover.  It's outerwear for sure, a bit too scratchy for next-to-the-skin. I've finished that trip across the bobbin with the gray and am starting back to your right as you look at the photo.  The fiber does have sparkly bits in it so those white dots are part of the yarn, not a flaw in anything.  I have a ball about the size of a medium cantaloupe left to spin.

My work on my depression issues continue with the medication and counseling.  Both are helping a lot but I still have issues to get through or to learn how to deal with.  I've made notes to take to counseling so to bring them up and see if they are real or my imagination.  My children have been terrific support throughout all of this and encourage their kids, my grands, to talk with me- which can cheer me up no matter how down I am.

I will boast about one grand.  The grand took a Pre-ACT and scored in the top 1% of the nation.  As a result several colleges and universities are sending material to tempt (another temptation) the grand to attend their hallowed halls.  Some trips are planned so visits can be made but I don't think any commitments will happen until late in the Junior year or even early Senior year.  Now the grand needs to work on fields of interest or interests and see who offers the closest possibilities to fulfilling those needs/interests.  I am so thrilled with the opportunities available.

The other five grands are doing well within their fields of endeavors and provide moments of true joy with their adventures.  One watched a video I sent to the parent and stood and applauded while the youngest grand wanted it played again and again and again.... those with children or grands know exactly how much patience is required for dealing with this...which is why I sent it.  I did provide a warning that the grands would probably love it but the parent would not like me very much for sending it.

There is one advantage I see to being hearing impaired and needing appliances.  One can turn off the appliance to avoid the repeating and repeating of a song or some other irritating sound that children love.  I have seen that done by those I love who do need the appliances.  At times I wish I had the same ability.  Years ago that purple dinosaur would about drive me to drink.  Fortunately my children quickly reached the point of wanting to see something other than purple dinosaurs.

Well, friends, I'm off to knit some more.  Maybe that is what Poe's Raven is saying... Knit some more instead of Never more.  Until the next time, Enjoy!

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Year, old goals, new and old again

Welcome back.  Last time I wrote in this I had just arrived in NJ. I've been and then moved to TN.  It was a good trip except for some construction sites in VA.  Closed on the condo and discovered today that it is 1080 sq ft instead of the 950 I thought it was.  That's good news.

I had to update a few things after I somewhat moved in (meaning everything is here but not 100% unpacked).  I replaced the dishwasher, added a disposal, installed a new water heater, and replaced the light (one bulb) with a light/fan combo (3 lights) in both my bedroom and the dining room.  

At some point I will need to fix the lighting in the kitchen and add small task lights under the upper cabinets.  I'll also need a new stove at some point - this one is not self cleaning and the heating elements on top all list to one side or another.  None are level nor do they appear to be able to sit level - the clips to hold burners in place are not positioned the same as the holes in the stove top and it also appears someone made them fit.  They work which is all I need at this point.  I will also need to replace the apartment-sized washer/dryer unit with a new one. This one is old, the ventilation does not work well and the dryer doesn't do a very good job.  Eventually the clothes do dry, so it stays until it doesn't work.

Next project - work on closets - getting the materials to let me use shelving where I need to and to hang clothes without catching on a lower shelf.  Then I need to get closet items into the closets and also set up system for completing some of the WIPs (works in progress) in quilting, counted cross stitch, knitting, one embroidery project, and to set up the craft area so I have a place to put my sewing machine, drum carder and other stuff such as an inkle loom and a rigid heddle loom.  

I've found a primary care doctor, an opthamologist, and a counselor/therapist.  I'm extremely happy with all of them.  The primary care physician (pcp) adjusted my medications and I'm feeling a lot better but still having some setbacks.  Nowhere near as horrible as a year ago, but enough to rattle my cage and cause some problems.  The counselor is a neat person and we get along well.  I've outlined what I expect to achieve with my sessions and she feels they are doable and we are starting to work on those.  The eye doctor has put me back on eye drops for the glaucoma as I meet 8 of the 10 criteria he looks at for glaucoma.  The next appointment I had with him had my pressures down to 13 and 14.  That is terrific as that is the goal other doctors had set as a target pressure.  So I'm all set in that area for a while.

Now for something a bit different.  I was loaned a book by a friend who thought I would like it.  I read it earlier this month and fell in love with it enough that I bought my own copy.  It is Down This Road by Holly Young.  This is her first book.  I can't give specific reasons easily but the main character is one I can identify with along with some of the challenges she meets.  It is through reading her journal that we are told her story and meet and love or hate the people around her.   

Holly states this is based on a true story.  I wish I could have known the actual people used as the spark for the story.  If they were anything like the characters, they would be some wonderful people to know.  Not many books can have that said about their characters.  I believe most people will enjoy the story.

On to other things.  I'm test knitting a pair of socks for a designer from Great Britain.  I'm having fun with it.  The yarn is Opal, Sweet & Spicy in color 636, Peach.  The sock on your left is from the beginning of the skein and the other from the other end.

I'm happy with  this as my most recent start was yesterday.  I've also learned a new trick. The increases for the toe are done with a make 1, front and back.  at the beginning of the row, this is done on the first stitch but at the end, you stop 2 stitches before the end, do the kf&b and k1.  The neat thing is that the kb part of the stitch puts a small horizontal bar at the base of the stitch.  Doing the kf&b in the first stitch of the row puts that bar on one stitch in from the end.  Doing the kf&b 2 in from the end has the bar also one stitch in from the end.  Something so small does make a bit of a difference.  I'm making a 64 stitch sock and will do Eye of Partridge (EoP) for the heel turn and heel 'flap'.  




This is my progress on a Kustom Kraft SAL called Early Fall.  SAL is Stitch A Long. This reminds me of Lake Nickajack, just a bit west of here on I-24.  The river/lake shows along with mountains in the background.  I'm doing a method called Parking.  I'm working in columns now since I learned another 'new' trick.  There are 2 fairly recent videos on YouTube showing how one woman works her parking.  Then I also am using another person's method of doing the first leg of the cross, in this case \ and then bringing up the needle in the lower left where I can park the thread.  That way I can know for sure where I am with the parked thread.  The videos also show the stitcher using one marker to block out portions she has completed but using a 2nd color to mark where these parked stitches are.  I'll try to get more detailed photos for the next posting.  

Last, I'm finishing my first Bullseye Bump from Loop.  Stephanie does a magical process of turning wool and other fibers with bling or sparkle and makes them into a roll where things pull from the center and you end up spinning progressive colorings.  This first one was called First Blush and what you are seeing are the outside layers.  This started as a medium peach color then moving out to white and then gray.  Sounds boring and maybe it is - but I'm having fun spinning it.

The little pieces that look like errors in the picture do not mean I had a dirty lens but are the bits of sparkly stuff.  You can see parts of the color changes and I have a soft ball of between softball and volley ball size to finish. I think I will Navajo ply this.  That way the colors stay together and I won't have all sorts of bits to add to the yarn.  I do have 2 weaver bobbins that have parts of the two previous spinnings.  They will be worked in as I ply the yarn so I preserve any color progression.  The next one I have is more intense color in it so will be a bit more dramatic when it is done.  But that one is on the back burner. Next up in the spinning will be to finish almost 3 lbs of corriedale roving.  One lb from Halcyon Yarn is super soft.  2 lbs are from Spunky Eclectic in Maine and will be used in a sweater of some sort.  After those are done, washed and dried, then I will start 17 oz of cotton.  You may think that's not much but it's about a 2 gallon bag overfilled.  I'll also do the handpicked cotton from Cotton Man, which is 2 lbs.  It's not quite as much as there are seeds that are heavy with oil.  The lint (unspun cotton) is just fairly short and very fine.  

When the socks are done, I'll grab one of my WIP knitting and finish it, then another and so on.  The SAL will take the longest and I will hope to finish by 1/1/15.  The other part of the SAL is that we get one page of the pattern each month.  I believe we have 5 pages of 12 so far.  I'm still stitching page 1.

So this is most of what's going on.  There's more but that will be coming in the next entry. Take care and Enjoy!




















 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Catching up and going forward

Oh it has been almost forever since my last entry.  So much has happened and is still happening involving life changes and choices.

The tone of this blog may change a bit as life intervenes and things happen to change my path.

To catch up...
I am now in New Jersey with my daughter, her DH and grandkids 3-6 (numbered to protect them).  Grandkids 1 and 2 are in Tennessee with their father and mother.  The father is my younger child - if you can call 30-something a child.  I will.

At the end of August, I will be traveling south to Chattanooga, TN - a place I have lived before and will be again.  I'm buying a small condo, 2 bedroom, which should be enough for me, my hobbies and my cat.  There will be weeding out of some things - and I look forward to my visits to McKay's to see if they like some of my books and will allow me to get some videos.  

I've developed my "to-do" list including getting a job.  I have one application still pending and hopefully will be selected for testing and an interview.

I will be signing up to volunteer as a docent at the Tennessee Aquarium.  Reading the requirements for a docent seem to be much like what I used to do last century at a natural science museum where I grew up.  I'm looking forward to this as it will get me out of the house and meeting people - which has been a real problem (issue) for me.

I was seeing a Behavioral Health Counselor in New Hampshire for much of the time I was there.  Jacob was a tremendous help and I've learned a lot from the sessions.  I need to continue seeing a therapist/counselor/shrink for the near future and then will need to be involved with a peer group or maintenance visits - probably forever.  I didn't see the pit I fell into or allowed to grow up around me.  With a peer group or maintenance, I can prevent that happening again.  That pit is a horrible place to be and very, very hard to come out of.  That's one of the things with Depression - it never is cured and can sneak up on you until you have no interest in life or anything else.  You don't want to get out of bed, take care of normal routines - bathing, eating, cleaning, laundry - all of that stuff.  I have no real memories that I can believe are accurate of that time period.  Another chunk of my life went poof, never to be recovered.  That is something I must avoid for the rest of my life.

Next in my list are items relating to completion of projects, spinning, knitting, stitching and so forth.  I will be making a complete photo gallery of the projects and updates as I work on them.  I want to get back to weaving.  I've selected a loom I want and decided on the types of items I want to weave both with commercial yarns and with handspun.  Primary items will be dish towels, placemats and napkins, wash cloths, then moving into scarves with handspun.  The dream includes spinning silk and silk blends for yardage.  There are people with terrific design skills who make custom clothing.  I'd like to be able to produce yardage for their projects or some of my own. 

Future entries in this blog will include my progress towards these goals and may even include my entry into the world of on-line sales.  I do not have a rigid timetable for this but it should happen down the road a bit. 

I am also looking at dietary changes and some lifestyle changes.  I need to be more active and to be more healthy in my eating choices.  You can travel along with me or ignore this completely.  What I do is for me.  I am becoming more selfish - which isn't that hard as I've always been one do to for others first and I came near the end of the list.  That has to change as well. 

Now for the hard part.  The reason for all of this. 

I've been married for over 42 years to a man I consider the love of my life.  He has been my best friend, husband, lover, someone I could confide in and share things with.  We've had children, buried one, and have six grandchildren.  After all this time, he has decided to go his own way, without me.  This is very painful for me and will take some time for me to heal.  This blog will be one way for me to do this, I hope.  This is the only time I'm giving this reason - I do still want to keep parts of my life, and the lives of family members, private. 

On to other things.  One event I participated in was Grandparents' Day at the day camp the grandchildren 3, 4, and 5 attend.  I had a blast watching them in their activities.  #3 and #4 are within the Autistic spectrum.  #3 is a girl and the other girls in her group are terrific in the support they give #3.  She got applause, high 5's, bending rules, and all sorts of encouragement.  This is so wonderful for her - but also gives me a lot of optimism about the future generations. 

#4 and #5, boys, both seemed to enjoy the activities we saw them in - swimming for both, archery for #4 and a Zip Line trip for #5. 

The camp has a huge amount of activities available to the kids, both indoor and out.  The list is too large to list here.  The staff/kid ratio looks terrific and 99.9% of the staff I met seem to really care about the kids and also their safety and well being.  They have a lot of opportunities all through the day to stay hydrated, and not a bit of bug juice in sight.  (Bug juice is a powdered drink mix one adds a lot of sugar to.)  I only have one complaint which requires explanation.

When I was a teenager, I was a member of the Jr. Staff at a natural science museum.  I spent as much of my free time there as I could.  We'd clean cages, help staff, give tours, give talks about animals, all sorts of things.  We also worked with those animals, bringing them out for people to touch or see, if touching wasn't inside the comfort zone.  These animals included reptiles and amphibians, along with birds and mammals.  More than once, I've had my arm turn blue-ish because a snake was spooked by something and tightened its grip on me.  The snakes were not pythons but normal, non-poisonous snakes who use constriction to control their prey.

At the camp, we went to the Nature compound.  It's a large room with tanks inside containing different sorts of critters.  There were guinea pigs, toads, pollywogs, lizards, turtles and some snakes, among other things.  Two of the snakes are ball pythons. 

According to About.com, ball pythons will grow to about 3-5 feet long and are considered fairly docile.  I will not argue these facts.  What I will say is that constrictors, such as pythons, control their prey by wrapping around it.  As the prey breathes out or wiggles, the snake will tighten the coils around the prey.  Each time the circumference of the prey lessens, the snake adjusts the coils.  This constriction will cause the prey to suffocate as it will not be able to breathe. 

One of my pet peeves is people taking a constricting snake and placing it around the neck.  If that snake is startled - sudden movement, another animal or potential prey or danger, the snake can constrict its coils around anything.  I've read that pressure on the carotid artery can cause a person to become dizzy and disoriented within seconds.  Four minutes without air causes permanent brain damage &/or death. 

Because of the potential life threatening issues, I do not feel any snake should be placed around any person's neck - especially a child!  When I mentioned this to the staff member in charge of the nature hut, he felt that the snakes were small and very docile so this could not happen.  It may not happen, but what if it does.  The snakes are 3-4 feet long at present. 

I'm off my soapbox now.  I'm not giving the name of the camp as I feel this will be corrected in the near future and there will not be an issue.  However, I also feel it is up to parents to teach their children.  There are many petting zoos and other places where children can touch wild animals.  The parents need to explain to the kids that these are wild animals and they must be careful around them - not making sudden moves or loud noises, nor handle in a rough manner.  Animals should be held in the hands or by guidance of staff in the correct way to handle them. 

I loved my time at the museum and working with all the different types of animals.  Some of my favorite things to see were the looks of wonder and surprise on children's faces as they touched a skunk or a snake for the first time and found out that they were not slimy or they were soft.  We often had children who had disabilities such as blindness or that they were raised in extreme poverty in an inner city area and never had the opportunity to touch a rabbit or turtle or feel the bumps on a toad.  Remembering those events so many years ago still can make me smile.

On to knitting.  While in New Hampshire, I did finish some socks and a shawl.  One pair of socks and the shawl stayed with my sister to try to thank her for all she did for me during my seven months with her. 

These socks are called Chartres by the designer, Janel Laidman, but I call them Flying Buttresses.  It's hard to see but there is a lot of stitches crossing one another before becoming ribbing again.  These feel great on my feet (yes, I kept these) and I may just make them again.

I made the Color Affection Shawl that stayed in NH with my sister. 

The photo below does not do the shawl justice.  It's a milk chocolate color, a caramel and a dark chocolate color.  It should be great to wrap around the neck on those cold winter days when the roof needs the excess snow raked off or the sidewalk needs shoveled.  


The final project I finished up there was a pair of socks called Cinch.  These have a different method of working.  One works the entire cuff then down the back of the sock to the toe area.  Then the inset is worked, then the front and the final inset.  Finally the toe is completed and the ends worked in.  I had some problems with these and I may do them again but with another tweak of assembly so they don't seem to be such a mismatch.


These will be made again - maybe in the reverse color pattern of this pair.

I also picked up and knit a striped pair of socks for the SAL group on Ravelry.  This pair is also for me or one of my granddaughters if they are too short for me.  So here are You Have Stripes, a generic toe up pattern of 3x1 ribbing with a gusset and heel flap.

I am also making a tee top for myself called Symmetry in Motion.  I'm about half-way done with no current photo to post to show what it is like.  I am having fun with this one so photos will happen when it is finished.

Spinning has also happened.  I was working with some superwash merino in an old colorway called Ain't No Mountain High Enough from Crown Mountain Farms.  I'm about 2/3 of the way finished with this.  I've wound two plying balls and am about half way finished with another bobbin of 50 gms of fiber.  Then I'll 3-ply them and see what I end up with.  Maybe sock yarn.

However this is in hibernation until I get to Chattanooga as I can't spin with the grandchildren.  They want to help and that's not a good idea.

 I am doing some support spindling.  The first is some cotton sliver from Cotton Clouds.  I'm doing the brown first to be followed by white, green, another type of white, then tan.  Cotton Clouds also has a kit where you spin 17 ozs of colored cottons then weave 3 hand towels.  I'm considering buying the kit - but will wait to see what the job situation is first.  I have a lot of other fibers to spin before it becomes critical that I get some new fiber.

One thing to add.  Crown Mountain Fibers has closed I believe.  The owner decided to return to Germany to care for older family members.  I don't know if he was able to sell the business before he left or exactly what the status is.  Crown Mountain was a terrific source of fibers for spinning and I, for one, will miss this.

Well I'm going to end this little cure for insomnia (yours, not mine) and let you recover until the next time.  One final photo - not a great one - but my DD belongs to a community garden.  We went there early one morning and saw these observers:











Sunday, February 10, 2013

The times they are a changin'


The times they have changed - or at least my location has changed.  I am now residing in the middle of New Hampshire, in what is known as the Lakes Region.  Right now the lakes and everything else are snow covered courtesy of a Nor'easter that arrived Friday to Saturday.  This was the last photo I took Friday afternoon.  Between the tree and the porch post  can see the snow covered pond which supplies water for the hatchery.  No skating allowed - probably a big liability issue for the state.

15" to 18" is the best guess for total snowfall here.  My sister had started shoveling and raking the roof when I emerged from a lot of blankets on Saturday morning.

I brought my wheel and yarn and fiber and quilting and stitching so will have plenty to keep me busy.  Spud came too and she and my sister's cat, Sophie, are deciding if it is war, tolerance, or friendship.  Jury is still out.

First NH finished object:  Socks.  The pattern is called Cinch and it has a different type of construction.  The cuff is done first, followed by the back of the sock, then a side insert, front and the other side insert.  Knitting the toe brings it all together.  I want to try this again, toe up, and see if I can get the inserts to play better with the front and back.  I also want to change the heel to a bit wider one.
Next project is called Chartres.  Another sock pattern.  It is full of twisted stitches wandering hither and thither on the sock.  One thing I finished before coming up here is made from yarn gifted by my sister.  I don't have a 100% finished photo yet but here is the progress shot:
Lots of ruffles and soft, squishy and colorful!

I need to finish Chartres socks this month as part of a KnitALong (KAL) with a group on Ravelry.  I also have stitching and quilting to work on.  There will be additional progress shots in my next entry - hopefully before another two months pass.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Tis the Season...

Oh it is the season of Holly-Daze and Christmas and pushing and shoving; joy and peace...and tragedy.

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut called Weston.  When I was there, the population may have reached 2500 people.  Less than 20 miles away was another town called Newtown.  You would turn right from our driveway and come to a Y.  To the left across the bridge and then right was Georgetown Road which lead to Danbury Turnpike.  Bear right at the Y and you could go on Newtown Turnpike to Waterbury's (Weston Riding Club, now gone), Weston Jr High and now Weston High School.  There was also the pond at Phillips' where we could skate when Mr. Phillips said the ice was good.  You could drive further and come to the place where a man who owned the Empire State Building lived, according to my dad.

Until just a few years ago, Weston was the place I had lived the longest in my life.  If you limit it to one address, then Weston is still the place I lived the longest - from third grade through high school.

Slightly over a week ago a young man entered a school and killed 20 children and six adults, apparently after killing his mother earlier.  This has hurt a lot, not because I knew any of the families involved, I don't, but because the memories of innocence in a small town are now tarnished.  The whole area I lived in had been fairly innocent.  Yes there were drugs and teens did drive to just over the border in New York to buy liquor.  But people were not shot.  They died in accidents, of illness or for most, old age.  They were not murdered.  Murder happened in bad areas - slums or ghettos - places like that. 

I live in a city where shootings are, regrettably, too common.  Most are in lower income areas but they occur in higher income areas as well.  But until last week, murder didn't happen in small towns in affluent Fairfield County CT. 

Enough of that.

Knitting and stitching and spinning go on and on.  This will be a bit photo heavy so you have been warned.  Some photos are pretty poor as they were taken at night - I'll show them anyway as Photographer and Stylist are not titles I deserve at all.

Spinning - I purchased some lace hankies at Fiber in the 'Boro last October.  They were an intense fuchsia pink.  They are spun now and have been N-plied or chain plied into a nice sport weight yarn:  The first photo shows the color best and the second shows a bit more of the color variation - well maybe not.
Right now this sits on the mantle for me to look at and admire.  It's out of the cat's reach as well.

The wheel sits empty, waiting for me to make up my mind what to put on  next.  I have some more wool/linen blend to spin, lots of wool, alpaca, silks, and cotton.   It will be one of those.

Santa came early and I'm in love, again.  I've always wanted a Lark
spindle from Jenkins since I first saw one.  This is a tiny Turkish spindle.  My Lark's cross pieces are made from lilac (one of my favorite flowers) and the whole spindle weighs 21 grams (less than 3/4 oz).  With it came some fiber, a silk blend that I spun and made into a 2-ply yarn for fun and to learn how this baby works.  She works fine and is a lot of fun.
 The upper photo shows the singles and the fiber while the lower one shows the 2-ply on the spindle.  The coin is a US dime.  So the yarn isn't quite lace weight but the next batch should be. 

The April/May 2010 Spin A Long for AllSpunUp was a 75/25 mixture of Blue-Faced Leichester (BFL) and Silk.  The colorway was Ice Caves so it's shades of blues from the very pale to the dark - but these are like the ice colors - with a small touch of greens/teal to them.  I had purchased 8 oz of the fiber so half will be spun to a 2-ply lace weight.  Project to be determined based on yardage.  The other half will be wheel spun to a 3-ply for socks.  Again, pattern to be determined by yardage.

Knitting - well a lot to say and not as      
much to show here.  I'm trying to finish some things and decide what to do with others.  I finished a pair of socks last night - a Ribbed Skyp Socks out of a yarn called Sockotta.  It's a blend of equal parts cotton and wool with some nylon for strength. 

It took almost 2 full months to do these socks as each sock was responsible for a broken needle and the first one also lost a needle for me.

I think I'll change the name to Naughty Skyp Ribs.  I do love the pattern.  It's so easy to do and I will be doing more with the pattern.  I'm going to discover how the yarn wears and how it feels.  There were some mods to the pattern in that the gusset decreases were worked as for the Breakin' Hearts Socks (more later). 
 The upper photo is good for color but the bottom one - well you can see the Skyp stitch twists near the toe of the sock.  There are 3 little twisty looking stitches in the ribs of the sock, first in one rib then the other.  They are not twisted stitches however.  Slip a stitch, Knit a stitch, Yarn over, Pass slip stitch over both the knit and the yarn over forming the name of the stitch.
Normally when knitting a sock with a heel flap, one has to pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap.  That creates a gusset.  This extra material allows you to get the sock over the widest part of the foot.  If you can see on this lower photo, there is now a curve on the heel and not the < shape one normally sees when the extra stitches are decreased out.  What is done in the pattern Breaking Hearts is that instead of decreasing the gusset stitches where the gusset stitches meet the instep, you decrease at the point where the heel and gusset meet so the decreases are on the bottom of the heel.  This makes that curve and some say the heel fits better when this is done.  I think I've shown photos in earlier posts.  These just need a rinse and blocking then they will go off to the new owner as a belated (again) gift.

Next are the Breaking Heart socks.  I'm sorry I've lost misplaced the label from the yarn.  The yarn feels great but the condition of the yarn was another story.  There were several areas where one ply had run out and not been immediately joined with a new ply.  I have no idea how these will wear but I guess I'll find out.
This photo shows the pattern a bit but the color is too red, the golds don't show.  Second sock is just at the heel flap.  You can see they are a bit big for the blocker - but they are going to someone who has bigger feet than I.  These will be off to a new owner when done.

The next pair is Gold Medal and they are worked in Wollemeise but I don't know the colorway other than it's green!
Oh, I didn't realize it was that blurred.  There are cables (3x3) with a bit of lace in between.  The pattern uses a bead in each lacy bit but I'm skipping that bit. I like these and they will stay here.  Better photos when these are finished - they are too pretty to not show again.

Next comes a fun sock for a granddaughter whenever it is done.  The yarn provides the pattern:
Other socks and stuff to show up soon.


One of my friends decided to accuse moi, along with 3 others, as enablers who caused her to purchase excessive amounts of books, magazines and patterns.  She joined a Ravelry group 13 in 2013 and coerced uh, encouraged us to join her.   The premise of the group is to knit or do 13 projects next year.  So I've listed 13 knitting projects but reserved the right to amend the list as the projects are pulled out and evaluated. 

One of these is a 2-color sock called Granada by Janel Laidman.  This is my first 2-color sock and it is challenging.  Here's where I am on the first sock.  This is just about a knee sock and the 2 photos show front and back. The photos are not great because chart as I knit split in the center of the front.  The needles didn't want to lay flat for photos.  So far so good and they do fit.  The rest of the projects will show as I come to them.
 
 On to other things.  Stitching.  I do several types of embroidery including counted cross stitch and other embroidery stitches.  One that I'm in the midst of is Celtic Garden which is counted cross stitch and black work.  I hope to finish it in 2013.  Each quarter is a mirror of the other so it's fully symmetrical.  This shows where I am at present.  The Celtic Knot is counted cross stitch in some beautiful variegated threads.  The black work is the filler in each block and worked in
what is called a running stitch.  Every other stitch is worked going one way then the others are filled in on the return trip.

The other stitching will be shown as I come to that project.

The last is quilting.  I'm doing the hand quilting of a queen sized quilt in the Lone Star pattern.  It has been in process since 1976 or so.  It was put up for a number of years and now it's found again and I'm working to complete the thing.  I've purchased a stencil and the chalk pencils to mark the pattern on the blue border.  I believe I'm about half done with the quilting.





I tried to find my larger photo showing the entire quilt, but I can't locate it easily.  This is showing a bit of the feather wreath in each filler part, a whole wreath in the squares and a half-wreath in the triangular pieces.

Another quilt project is not making me happy right now.  There is a story behind it so bear with me and you can input your thoughts if you desire.  I took quilting classes when my kids were small.  We made a quilt with 9 blocks, each teaching us a different technique and pattern.  Everything was hand pieced and hand quilted.  When we were given what materials we had to buy, we were told to wash each in cold water, gentle cycle, dry and lightly press.  This was to take care of any uneven shrinkage between pieces of material. 

I saw something from Keepsake Quilting, out of New Hampshire, on Facebook.  They were offering a discount on a kit called Time After Time.  The colors would work in my bedroom and I wanted to make it up and use it as a wall hanging/headboard.  Sent off my money and got my kit.  There was a roll of 40 strips of fabric cut across the bolt from one selvedge edge to the other.  The cuts were done with pinking shears.  There was another piece of fabric for the binding.  The first thing I did was to pull out the instructions and read.  Nothing about washing material, and only one place was seam allowance mentioned.  The curved edges were to be sewn with a 1/8" seam.  I called Keepsake Quilting and confirmed the remaining straight seams were to be 1/4".  The fabric was washed on gentle, dried on gentle and lightly pressed to remove wrinkles. 

The next step was to take the strips and join 5 in a light to dark sequence and repeat until all strips were used.  Done.  Cut each wide strip at 10.5" intervals - 4 blocks per strip.  Done.

Now I made a template from the drawing provided to cut 1/4 circle from pairs of these wide strips when one was turned 90 degrees from the other.  I did just the first two to try it out.  Did the 1/8" seam and assembled.  

Here's the problem.  I'm to trim the sewn block to 10" square.  This is what I have:
 Here's my problem - showing one of the uncut blocks.  The bloody thing is only 9" wide, not 10".  I turned the thing over and double checked all my seams and they were the 1/4" needed.  If I had sewn 1/8" seam, I'd have the 10" needed.

I called Keepsake on a Thursday to ask about this.  I was told someone would be in touch with me.  The following Friday I sent an email.  The Wednesday after I had an email asking what the problem was.  I told the woman what happened and said the strips went down to 1 7/8" from the 2.5" we started with. 

Her response:  We don't advise washing until after the quilt is complete. 

If I were to have done that and had the shrinkage (just with the grain) and since the quilt has pieces that are rotated, I would have had seersucker!  I would have been much more irritated then I am right now.  I asked them what would be done about this and have heard nothing, no email to say they won't do a thing, nor an email apologizing.  Nothing.  I'm ticked off to say the least. 

This kit was fairly inexpensive.  Some of their kits will cost about $500 or more by the time everything (fabric for top and binding only) is paid for - not including the buyer's time.  $300 is about average for the ones I've liked - but I didn't pay that much for this one.  I have to buy batting and the backing plus thread.  My time is worth something as well.  If I machine quilt this, which is my plan, I now have a quilt that will be 1.5" per block smaller.  4 blocks wide  makes it 6" less then 8 blocks long makes 12" shorter.  72 square inches smaller.  2.7% smaller than advertised. 

After Christmas and New Years, I will contact them again and see what they say after the crazy days are over. 

So that's the wordy entry with lots of photos.  I hope to update at least the first part of each month saying what progress I've made on what. I'll be participating in a group where the goal is to knit 13 pairs of socks for 2013 and progress there will be included. 

Wishing you and yours all the happiness, peace, and joy of the season and hopes that the New Year will bring all you wish it to.



  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh the Shame of it All...

Don't worry too much about the title of this - it's actually my view of Spud's thoughts - well the ones that can be published.  You see she was spayed on Friday - and all went well until we were told she needed an E-collar (cone of shame) to keep her from licking the incision site.  OK, not a big deal except the store was out of the plastic traditional cones.  So it was suggested we get one of the inflatables.  They look a bit like a horse collar; blow it up and velcro it around the neck.  $20.00 plus tax.  One (the last one in the store in that size) purchased and applied as directed as soon as we got home.  Spud is stumbling around like a drunken sailor on Friday.  She goes into her room and I rush to Fiber in the 'Boro to get the Spinner's Circle aka Fiber Circle going and start spinning.  (more on that later)

Saturday I was gone all day - and apparently Ms Spud slept most of the day.

Sunday she slept near me all day.  If she tried to lick the site, I'd just put my hand in the way; she'd slurp on that and go back to sleep.

Today:  It.is.alive!  Overnight that cat learned how to roll up to lick the site and opened the skin layer, removing some/a stitch(es).  So we made a trip back to the vet, got superglued and got a real cone of shame.  All instructions, from the vet and on the cone, said to make sure there was 2 fingers of space between the cone and the cat.  Done:  proof is in the photos:
 She's headed in reverse trying to back out of the cone.  Didn't seem to work.  I did some things then looked to see how she was doing.  She was in her cat box with the cone in place.  I sat down and ate lunch.

After lunch, looked for cat.  Ms Spud emerged from behind the couch... without the cone.  I began a cone search and can't find the $#@%^ thing anywhere.  I looked in and under and behind both couches.  I looked under chairs.  I looked in her room to see if I could see it in there.  It is gone.  I don't know what she did or how she did it but that stupid cone is gone.



OK back to the inflatable.  Since she can roll herself up to lick the site, I had to jury-rig something to try to keep her tongue away from the superglued incision.  Here's the result and the reason for the title.  The shaved part on her front leg is where her IV went.  She could care less about it.

So on to other things: 


Quilting:  Making progress: This one was taken 10/8
This one taken today:  It may not look like much but it is hand stitched at about 12 stitches to the inch.  That's twice as many as most garments you purchase today are sewn at.  When I worked at Levi Strauss, the jackets were sewn at 6 to the inch and I guess they still are.
I


When I finish this block (some diagonal lines to fill the white background of the feathered wreath, I'll move to the next star point that you can see on the right.  The upper half is done, but the lower half of diamonds need to be quilted with 1/4" seams.  There are 100 diamonds in each large diamond.  That means 800 diamonds, 4 triangular spaces and 4 square spaces each with feathered wreaths or portions of and stitched lines creating the background stitched from the seams between diamond patches.  OK clear as mud and sorry 'bout that.  Let me see if I can find a better photo to show what I mean.  Looking at the photo below, the left side is done except for the border.  The top white triangle and the white blocks on the right need to be done along with the outer halves of the big diamonds.  I'll take a photo of the reverse for the next entry as that fabric is the same as the border so the quilting will show up better.  


Knitting and spinning also continue.  Fiber in the 'Boro was last weekend and was the 2nd annual.  We were in a bigger barn at the Ag Center in Murfreesboro, TN.  We were also on cement rather than wood shavings which makes spinning much less of a challenge.  There seemed to be about the same or slightly more people then last year and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.     This young man is learning how to feed spoil an alpaca.  The lady alpacas seemed to love the attention.  The one being fed is named Emmy if I remember correctly and her home is Cedar Rock Ranch in Lebanon, TN.  

I was good and only made one purchase.  I'd been spinning white Corriedale fleece and just needed some color.  So I bought some silk hankies and started playing with them.

The unspun hankies are draped over the tension device for the wheel.  I'm different in that I just start at a corner and draft as I spin.  Most spinners prefer to draft the fiber first then spin.  That's too much invitation to snarl and make a huge mess in my world.  I'll ply this back on itself a few times - maybe a six-ply - to make a bow for granddaughter #2 who wants a hedgehog and a cow for Christmas.  I have a pattern for the hedgehog and her favorite color is pink...One down, 5 more to go.  I think all the boys will get hats and the other girl will get an Irish crocheted mask.  She's into costumes right now.  Hope she is still interested at Christmas.

Knitting continues with socks and more socks in process and a finished object - also for Christmas for someone.  Since they don't read this blog I'm safe to post photos.

 
From the top we have 2 measures of Joy.  I have to embroider the notes, clef and time signature then line it and it's done.

Next are a pair of socks in merino with some cashmere.  They will be bed socks for my mom as I think they are too big to wear with shoes.

Finally Spring Wings, my version of Wingspan.  This is knit with a Zauberball and I lucked out as to the way the colors fell.  Much better than I hoped.  Again, a present for someone.  

That's all for now and I go back to the salt mines and get some other work done.

Enjoy!