Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old

I wish you all a healthy and happy new year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Muddy Bits

Wine bottle included so you may gauge the size of the hat. I'll polish that off later tonight.

This work is done...mostly.

Now I enter the phase of knitting that I seem to like the least--cleaning up the loose ends and hemming. As the knowledge and art of knitting have progressed for me, I've learned to weave in most ends as I knit and have only to snip them off. I still have to reinforce the color work on the star, block, and hem before I can call it a hat.

The matching gloves are calling me, though I think I want to adapt the pattern to convertible gloves or mittens. I'll decide as I move along.

Fare thee well forest mitts

Speaking of mittens, I lost my Deep in the Forest Mittens sometime last week. Likely they were left at a start of care I did at a nursing home in the heart of Detroit. Since most of the population there seems to be homeless people that were placed there, I don't feel right about hunting them down. This train of thought is in keeping with my idea that there are no accidents. I just hope they were found by someone in need and that they're keeping somebody else warm and toasty. Fingers crossed they don't find their way to a washer and dryer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Better late...

Having been rather busy last week, I never got around to baking the Cherry Wink cookies that really are a hallmark of the season in our house. Ever since I can recall, we had these cookies every year. I didn't bake them last year because I didn't have a reliable oven. Besides my aching feet, I had no excuses this year.

As soon as I signed off last night, I turned the oven on and began the prep of chopping dates, pecans and maraschino cherries. Leo helped. I swear he's like a child. He didn't come running until he heard the mixer going and stayed glued by my side snatching errant dates and cherries that fell off the cutting board. He spit the pecans out. By 1:30, we were done and I finally had a taste of Christmas.

Next year, I'm getting Leo a chef's hat and apron.

Monday, December 27, 2010

When lice is nice

Disclaimer: for God's not click on the link if you are squeamish or eating. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Some years ago, and yet not long enough because the thought of it still makes me itch, I took care of a patient with Norwegian Scabies. Now there isn't anything special about the mites that cause this, except to say the level of infestation is monumental. The disease was identified in Norway--hence the name. While a relatively healthy person may have scabies with a handful of mites present to cause a bit of misery, someone with Norwegian Scabies is host to hundreds of thousands of mites.

No lie.

Can you see why this patient would be unforgettable?

I thought about that patient today as I was knitting on my hat and executing a beautiful lice stitch pattern common in Norway. One thought led to another and pretty soon I was thinking about the homeless patient who landed in our ICU to die of a secondary and overwhelming bacteremia and fungemia. Sad. I was not thinking of the mites per se as to do so invites nightmares. I will not forget what that infection looked like though, and in my 27 years of nursing, I've never seen the likes of something like this. May I never see it again (Amen).

Back to the lice stitch...I find myself wishing I'd held the white yarn in my left hand instead of the right as I've read this would have made the white lice stitches more dominant instead of receding into the red. Live and learn. Since I'm sort of new to this color knitting stuff, I thought I'd share that here so you can learn by my trials. I'm done with the hat portion of the cap and now doing decreasing rounds with a scattering of lice stitches. So, if you want the predominant yarn, in this case the red, to dominate, carry it in your left hand. If you want the other yarn, in my case the white, to dominate, carry that yarn in the left hand and the red in the right. According to several sources, one should not change the hand you carry your yarn in for the project. If it's something that you'll put down and pick back up later, you may want to do like me and make a note of which hand carried each yarn.

If you linked to that photo...sorry.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holy Spurs

Here it is the day after Christmas, and I got nearly nothing accomplished. I can't believe how badly my feet ache after having spent 8 hours standing in my kitchen on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I swear, if I buy myself nothing else this coming year, I'm getting one of those fancy cushioned matts that chefs use. In the meantime, I've got my feet elevated and in a little while, I'm going to try a little sleep to see if I can restore some of my musculoskeletal function.

Ordinarily, my sister in law and I split the duties of cooking, but she was sick so I cooked both days. I'd planned on lasagna for Christmas dinner, but made that on the Eve instead and went to my old standard horseradish encrusted tenderloin with port wine reduction sauce for yesterday's dinner. It was fabulous. Leading the family in prayer both nights, I ended with a simple, Amen. Mr. Larger Than Life added loudly (because he can't hear himself), "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spurs," ending with an elaborate giant circle he made around his head. I'm still a bit perplexed by that, but oh well, if it works for him, that's OK. The thing is, I've never known him to pray, but lately, he's all about the blessings.

According to him, my mother in law used to bless him when he went out of town. I never saw this with my own eyes, so I couldn't say if it was true, or confabulation. If I had to guess, I'd say it was the latter. His oddness is worsening of late, and I'm not so sure what's going on with him. Overall, he's physically in decline as well. He has a relatively new shuffling gait that appears as though he has Parkinson's, but he has no upper extremity tremors. I've offered in the past to take him back to the neurologist, but he's so terrified of bad news, he becomes irate with the suggestion, so I stay my thoughts. What will be, will be and my husband and I will likely be caring for him in some way, shape or form.

Much to most everyone's shock, now that my son has graduated and is interviewing for a job in Washington, MLTL's primary caregiver will be vacating his position of Saint of the Year and my father in law has something new to pray for. He tells my son daily, "I pray to God that you don't get that job," and with all of his very enlarged, malevolent heart, he means what he says. He also tells my sister in law that she's not a dutiful daughter because she won't come home and care for him. Now I ask you, who'd willingly want the job of taking care of someone so manipulative and ungrateful? My friends, my husband and I see the writing on the wall.

I'd better stock up on fig vodka.

A note about the photo at the top: though I said I accomplished nearly nothing today, I was referencing chores. Knitting? I got plenty done. I'm almost through the hat chart for that gorgeous stocking cap in, Northern Knits. It's my Christmas gift to myself. After everyone left last night and my house was silent, I went about perusing my yarn and options. My eyes came to settle on the one package I've avoided for nearly a month and I couldn't help myself one moment more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The remains of the knitting day

Almost there and not a moment too soon. There was worry for a bit that there would not be enough of the Manos Silk Blend in Woodland. All that remains are two grams (out of fifty). Cut it close, didn't I?

The knitting is nearly complete now and I've only to block and wrap after I finish what's on the three needles. That's only a couple of inches of small diameter knitting. Nothing, really.

I hope all of your preparations are progressing as smoothly.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twas the Monday before Christmas

Walnut bread

And all through the joint,
dustballs were gathering at every point.
Dogs were begging and trying to steal a cookie
Husband was moping and saying, "what does that mean you're too busy for nookie?"

The knitter was panicked and sure she wouldn't complete
all of those projects laying around in a heap.
Just as she was about to abandon all hope,
the stubborn soul within her yelled out, "not yet--nope!"

Radio playing Christmas carols in the background
The knitter repeated her mantra, "one more round, one more round."
One by one, to her complete disbelief, the projects were magically done
and the knitter yelled out "finally, I've won, I've won!"

Rachel's hat and nearly done cowl.

Though I'm beginning to have flickers of doubt in respect to finishing my top secret project, I won't give up hope. I've pared the bauble rows from 60 minutes to 35 minutes and have only 6 of those to go and then I'll be knitting rounds. I will finish that, but it's not looking good for the honey bread. I did finish the walnut bread--6 loaves--and some sour cream cut out cookies (sans cookie cutters), so at least that's something. While the frosting was setting up on the cookies, the food thief who lives amongst us exited the kitchen madly licking his chops. Upon inspection of the looming disaster, I found one cookie missing an edge and another licked clean of its frosting.

Yes, that's flour on my nose...why do you ask? I was just helping.

The joys of owning a big dog who can find trouble anywhere are endless.

Reports from Mr. Larger Than Life land indicate bad behavior is escalating prior to the holiday and his daughter's arrival. I hope she doesn't worry too much though, as I've made us a liter of fig vodka.

All will be well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Things that are lining up this week

Total Lunar Eclipse
E. WeiƟ: "Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt" Published, 1888.

Today there will be a gift wrapping assembly line in my dining room. Of course, I'll do none of it until Stinkerbell McBookeater goes home this evening. She's coming around noon, but if I wrap any gifts while she's here, she'll unwrap them all until she finds something that interests her. When she was little, it took awhile to find humor in that particular behavior because the others would protest when they didn't have anything to open themselves. This kid loved to celebrate and in her mind, every party was all about her--especially the gifts. Instead, we'll bake a few cookies while she's here. She loves doing that, too. Well, not exactly the baking part, but the snitching of cookies part.

I'm entering the second half of my long 4 day weekend work respite. While I usually try to keep up with at least reading the work obituaries (sick, I know), I can't this time. My laptop went in for an upgrade on Friday and the I.T. guru took my Blackberry, too. I thought I'd have withdrawal symptoms, but until I wrote this, I actually didn't think once about checking my emails. Since I get about 30 work related missives a day, there will be a price to pay on Tuesday with a minimum of 90 emails to sift through and answer. I expect I'll be a little busy that day. My girlfriend told me she deletes all of her work emails without reading any of them even though once in awhile, she deletes something she was supposed to have read and responded to in a timely manner. I wish I was that brave.

Speaking of Tuesday and things that line up, did you notice the full moon and the winter solstice have lined up for the first time in 11 years? Add the full eclipse of the moon, and that's an alignment that's not occurred since 1638. Evidently, I paid no attention to the calendar when selecting my long weekend off and chose that exact day to return. I'm trying hard not to worry about it beforehand, but I'm a superstitious wench. Just can't help myself. Perhaps I should try to put a different spin on this news...maybe it's a good alignment and I should go out and buy those lottery tickets now. The Megamillions jackpot will be $145 million and the drawing is Tuesday.

For a real change this year, I have both Christmas Eve and Christmas off from work. Since starting this job, I've always had Christmas off, but the night before has always been treated like any other weekday and my beloved schedulers have always loaded me up to prove they're heartless a point. I'm 2 for 2 in having someone die on Christmas Eve, too, so this is an especially welcome line up for me.

How is your week lining up?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Talk me out of this thought

It's the Saturday before Christmas, and while I've completed 90% of my knitting that I hadn't planned to do in the first place, and most of my shopping is done, I've got the idea in my head that I need to go to Target. Apparently, I'm having a moment of hope that's likely to end with me being annoyed.

I need a few items that one store, like Target, is apt to have under one roof. Things like Swiffer spray for hardwood floors, toilet bowl cleaner, tape, gift wrap, videos, books, pajamas and laundry detergent. It's one stop shopping, but will probably be a madhouse. It won't be like yesterday's foray into commerce.

My best friend and I weather the crowds each year by choosing the coldest day of the year and then shopping our way through an outdoor mall. It's a brilliant way to shop if you don't like ill mannered throngs of humans and long lines. It takes advance planning and clever attire like shearling lined boots, cashmere sweaters, down vests, mittens, hats and because your arms may be chilled, an alpaca poncho to wear like a blanket (and yes, I mixed my hand knits--so sue me). Of course, once we were in the stores for awhile, it was easy to become a little overheated and forced to pare it all back, but this was still worthwhile. All of this dressing and undressing takes a little time, but it's a small price to pay for avoiding crowds.

We love this little outdoor mall. There is no Macy's or Penney's, but the anchor stores, Nordstrom and Parisian are there along with every other smaller store one would expect to find in a mall. The other sites we see are plenty of park benches (though snow covered), an outdoor giant fireplace and dogs--lots and lots of dogs that are welcomed into all of the stores and the dog bakery down by Nordies.

What's not to love?

I wish that mall had a Target.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Because I'm nowhere near ready and choose not to think about how many days left until Christmas, I've decided to count how many days left until Ground Hog's Day.

It's close my friends, and even though I know those creatures never give us a break on that day, February 2nd still remains a harbinger of spring. I'm looking forward and according to my calculations, we only have to wait a mere 47 days to celebrate the end of this bitter cold. This day won't come soon enough.

Today I had to go down the icy back steps to drag the big Leo McSissybritches up to the porch. He was too much a fraidy pants to climb them himself. I simply can't wait for spring.

Well, off to clear a path near the front door. Right now it's clogged like a cardiothoracic surgeon's dream arteries. There are boots, hats, mittens, scarves and gloves muckin' up the not so spacious entry.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rethinking The Day After Tomorrow.

I recall watching the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, and thinking how ridiculous the whole thing was and that something like that would NEVER happen. I muddled through the movie because I like Dennis Quaid. After the displays Mother Nature has given in the past week, I've got to say I stand in awe, and not a little fear, of the types of weather changes we're seeing. Yesterday, Oregon had a freakish tornado and for the second time in one month, motorists have been stranded overnight in their cars in Buffalo, and now Sarnia, Ontario, because of snow and ice storms. Neither of those snowed in cities are far from me as the crow flies and I can reach Sarnia in less than an hour by car. What stands between us are large bodies of water and during this storm, I just happened to be on the right side of the water to avoid overwhelming lake effect storms.

Because my work sends me out on the road, I'm seriously considering putting together a box of survival supplies to keep in the car. I already carry things like a giant Maglite flashlight, hand sanitizer, diapers, bandages and bedpans, but I need other things that will keep me warm and safe. I need something to snack on, a cell phone charger (I avoid these because they destroy battery life on phones), small shovel to dig out snow that covers the tail pipe, road salt, a warm blanket or sleeping bag and portable knitting.

Did I forget anything?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Slippery slope

Even though the weather people said it would snow and be nasty today, unlike the people interviewed on the news, I did not make it to the grocery store to prepare for Snowmageddon. In fact, I never made it out of my pajamas, unless you count the time I spent in a hot shower trying to ease the congestion in my head.

I find the arrival of a particularly nasty little rhinovirus to be rather inconvenient. Yesterday afternoon (at commencements) was when I first became aware of the fact that I had a rather scratchy and sore throat. I thought it was because it was dry in the auditorium, but as the evening progressed, so did the proliferation of symptoms. By morning I was miserable.

As I write this, I've slathered my chest in Vicks, bundled myself in fleece, consumed plenty of oranges, teas and peanut M& Ms and can say with authority, I still feel like crap. I know I've only myself to blame because if I'd listened to the weatherman, I could be downing chicken soup and killing germs as I did, but I have no chicken soup because I never made it to the store. Neither did I get to pick up some soft tissues. I've been using toilet paper to tend to my rhinitis, and now my nose is sore as hell.

Leo, ever grateful to have someone sack out on the sofa with him to share body heat, is the only one who doesn't seem to mind the fact that I'm a viral, infectious and particularly unpleasant human being today. At least someone still loves me.

Apparently, I'm a little whiny, too.

But, even with my viral pollution, I've been knitting my butt off--a byproduct of too much Sudafed (the good stuff the pharmacist has to hand you). I've completed one of the items that's last to go on my knitting list. It's gorgeous, and I'm only going to give you a peek at the end product so I don't ruin it for the snoopy recipient. I think the tam with the corrugated rib pattern was a good primer for this project.

The tree, if you can call it that, is decorated with a handful of favorite ornaments. I don't want to overdo it by burdening the live Norfolk pine, a tropical plant, with too much weight. If I don't kill it, this plant should make it to become a holiday display for years to come. Because you all know of my lack of gardening prowess, I suggest you wish it well now.

Since it's almost time for bed, I'm off to mix up the hallucinogenic concoction of choice: honey, lemon and really good bourbon. If I consume enough, I won't wake up until my cold is gone.

Sweet dreams.

Cel-e-brate good times

With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, one would think a precious Saturday off could in no way be spared for anything but holiday preparations, but then that would be wrong. It only took 4.5 years to get here, but today marks a turning point in a certain young man's life and we're going to take the time to celebrate.

My son, who would have nothing to do with high school commencement exercises, can't wait to walk the aisle and pick up his diploma from Wayne State University. We're thrilled for him and extraordinarily proud.

Tree trimming parties can wait.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The power of touch

On one of the groups I belong to out there in internet land, there has been discussion on when to use medical gloves when giving vaccines. The truth is, gloves don't protect us from needles sticks, and in most cases, patients don't bleed when given an injection. There is no need to wear gloves when giving vaccinations, unless the practitioner has a reasonable expectation they'd come in contact with infectious fluids. In the event you think I've lost my mind, the CDC is the organization that has set forth these guidelines on gloving. What concerns me is the subtext on that thread that there are nurses who wouldn't dream of touching a patient for any reason without gloving first. There is, and I quote, " a squick" factor associated with this concept. For those who don't know what that means, like me, I looked it up on Urban Dictionary. Squick is a "physical sense of repulsion upon encountering a concept or situation one finds disgusting." While each nurse will have a differing opinion on the subject of gloving, what I really want to talk about is the words we use to describe patient care.

In my experience in the ICU, I can recall plenty of staff walking into a room and donning a pair of gloves as they do. Nothing was done without this article of protective equipment, including hand holding. So extreme are the precautions some take, that no thought at all is given to the depersonalization of the human in the bed. Imagine lying in a bed with tubes placed in every possible spot of your body and the only thing you feel when another person touches you is pain. With all of the pain receptors located in the skin, I can only imagine how this may feel to some people. Worse, imagine having such a highly infectious disease, that no person can enter your room without impervious gowns, hairnets, gloves and masks. You'd be in isolation--truly alone. What a horrific feeling that must be. The important factor we forget is that touch can bring pain, but it can also be soothing and pleasurable.

Touch can heal.

I vividly recall one of my patients, a new diabetic with an astronomical blood glucose level and dehydration so severe, there were no peripheral IVs to be had for love nor money. She would die without an IV. As the surgeon placed a central venous catheter, I held this patient's hands in mine. Words like squick never entered my mind, but I do recall praying for the surgeon's success. About six weeks later, I ran into this woman in a store. She recognized me, but she looked so different and healthy that I didn't have a clue who she was until she told me. She thanked me for holding her hands that day and getting her through such a critical illness.

Handholding, human touch and gentle words make a difference to those in trouble and need. We, nurses, are caregivers and when we examine our individual practices, we should keep all aspects of patient care in mind--especially those that deal with the psyche.

Since the advent of antibiotic resistant bacteria, I think more and more medical staff are fearful of touching their patients. In my own practice, the first thing I do is take the hand of most patients in my own bare hands ( and I'm not insane here--I wouldn't take the hand of someone oozing goo and gore from their extremities unless I was wearing gloves). I hold in my head the knowledge that along with soap and water, my own intact skin will protect me from anything untoward while I minister to those who need to feel the touch of another human being.

What I'd really like to see is words like squick go away when discussing how we think of, and interact with, the human beings who come into our care.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You know it's freaking freezing

...when you come home from work and start shopping for thermal underwear on line. I look like a bag lady with an over abundance of hand knits that don't even come close to matching including my fair isle hat, a stolen cowl, deep in the forest fair isle mittens, an Icelandic sweater and plain Jane socks. Even with all the woolen layers, it's not enough to keep me warm. For that I added feathers, or more specifically, down. Though we've had no snow, it's bitterly cold with a breeze I'd call north of fresh.

With the exception of one last fiddly gift, I'm done with my holiday knitting. It truly helps to eliminate the unappreciative before making such a list and I've worked hard over the years to pare it down. For motivation to finish the last item, I need to revisit the inspiring sample I saw at the yarn store. That's about the only thing I can think that will keep me working on this work of art.

On the work front, I met Mr. Larger Than Life's twin tonight. Who knew the universe could be big enough to hold two people so alike? We had a chat about hospice and I talked to him for about 30 minutes before I realized he could have been MLTL's clone. The best thing about this chance meeting is I'll get to see him again tomorrow night when I open his case.

I just love having a reason to wake up in the morning.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Starting Over

The thief was quoted as saying, "I'll be warm tonight on my hospice rounds."

The steel blue Burberry Inspired cowl is done. It took a little over 3 balls of Debbie Bliss Como (in Airforce). I was likely short twenty yards total, but fixed that with a quick run to the yarn store this morning. I bought enough to make another cowl in the same color because this one's been diverted, too.

I stole it from the intended recipient.

Knitter's prerogative, don't you think?

All told, I think it took maybe four hours to knit, and the first one probably did, too. It's the super bulky yarn that makes it go so fast and not necessarily speed demon knitting skills. It's not often my big needles get a workout, but this week, they're smoking hot.

While knitting this weekend, I watched a show about the man who killed John Lennon. It's been thirty years and still makes me sick. Thirty years and we're still no closer to keeping guns and lunatics separated.

Imagine the music we could have heard if things had been different.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where in the world is Isaac?

Thanksgiving here was dreary, cold and wet, but my kitchen, sans heating vent, was sweltering. Around 2 PM, I opened the windows and was serenaded by Isaac the Pit's nonstop barking. He was cold, wet, and miserable, but the woman who takes care of Isaac ignored him. For hours we listened to him bark and tried to find ways to keep Leo occupied. He wanted to go out and bark, too.

I can recall cursing my neighbor the entire time I was cooking. How ignorant can you be to allow your dog to bark for hours on a holiday, let alone allow him to be miserable? Better to bring him in and crate him so at least he's warm and dry. I cursed her level of intellect at least a dozen times.

Since then though, we've not seen Isaac. Nor heard him.

A part of me is thankful because this dog is a scary creature to behold, but the rest of me is worried about him. It's possible that my neighbor's daughter has finally come from Maryland to fetch her dog, but I don't know for sure.

So we do a little watchful waiting. Leo goes out half a dozen times a day and makes a fruitless circuit around the garage hoping to find his friend. Each time he returns, he looks disappointed. He's taken to barking some at Muttley, the Wheaton Terrier who lives two doors down, but Muttley is deaf and doesn't bark back much.

Compared to Isaac, Muttley must be a drag for Leo.

On the knitting front, I made another Burberry Inspired Cowl in less than 4 hours using Como by Debbie Bliss. I was unable to finish it as my yardage was a bit short. Pictures Monday when I get some more yarn. Incidentally, the cream colored one was stolen. Someone came for dinner and left with more than beef stew. The thief modeled the cowl for me and never took it off. It's OK, I'll just give my boss her address so she can go fetch her own holiday gift.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


While I didn't exactly count the hours I put into knitting this cowl, I can honestly say, it probably didn't total 6 hours. Max. I'll keep track with the second one. Though I was prepared to knit several Pretty Thing cowls for gifts, I had second thoughts as they'll take twice as long and my goal this weekend is to finish all of my holiday knitting.

Lofty, I know, but the list is short.

This is the Burberry Inspired Cowl, free on Ravelry, with modifications I found here to knit it in super bulky yarn. Though it likely lacks a little in drape because of the bulk of the yarn, I don't think it matters much to those of us freezing our kibbles and bits off in northern climes. I fought off the urge to do a three needle bind off and complete the Kitchener stitch seam, and I'm glad I did. It's invisible.

I want one.

Now that's a surprise.

If you want my notes on how to modify this pattern for the super bulky yarn, you can email me. I'll be happy to send them along.

Now I'm off to go scratch another name off the knitting to-do list.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My middle name should be, Sidetracked.

Plenty of online shopping was completed today and I await the arrival of the fruits of my labor in about 7 to 10 days. Some of it needs to be paired up for further shipping, so I hope it's closer to 7 days. In addition, I ran up to the yarn store to buy some phat yarn (Rowan Big Wool) and saw a knitted sample of these. (I can't post a picture because they'll be a gift).

I bought the yarn.

I bought the book.

I saw all of those baubles. It's part of the charm of this pattern, but as I knit another square for Haven just last Saturday, I lamented all those damned baubles and commented on how I hate to knit them.

I will not be deterred and since this pattern will be a gift for the one person in my life who loves my knitting more than me, I will refrain from calling them damned. I will knit each and every bauble with respect and affection, because in this pattern, they look like knitted love.

Top photo: The fabulous Mock Cable Hat in its initial post bath pose. What a fun pattern. I did not knit the tassel because I'm not certain the recipient would want one. It's just as cute without. Why is it I feel an overwhelming desire to keep every hat I knit all to myself?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In no mood

I know that I should be battling the freezing cold temperatures to shop for some gifts, but I haven't been able to muster any enthusiasm for the job at hand. That is, I haven't until the Sur la table catalog came in the mail today. Now I'm full of ideas and even though I have two relatively nearby stores, I can shop for the things I liked with the click of a button in the warmth of my home. Excellent! My mind is full of ideas of what I can knit with the time I save commuting, not to mention time lost standing on lines, or putting up with ill mannered shoppers.

First there was the totally ridiculous sock monkey wine sleeve that really excited me. I can get several of those to pair with a bottle of wine as gifts. I know I could make them, but who needs the pressure? I liked the rosemary and bay leaf wreaths, too, which are perfect gifts for my friends and family who adore cooking. For my coffee loving friends, I found the Italian ceramic coffee jars that I could pair with a pound of Michigan roasted coffee beans or perhaps the French press travel mug for friends on the go. I could knit quick little cozies to go with those!

My blogging friend, Karen, reminded me of the Black Sheep Weaver's Guild holiday sale this weekend. It's in the town of Hartland which isn't too far away. That should take care of my fiber loving pals. She also sent me the picture of the kitty in hand knits after reading yesterday's blog post about McSissybritches.

Suddenly, I find I'm in the mood to shop with thought and care. Maybe it was the calls from friends, or the Christmas cards that have started to arrive--I don't know--but I'd better jump on it before the feeling falls by the wayside.

A note on the knitting photo at the top: that's the Mock Cable Hat well on its way in Cascade 220. I keep finding myself wishing it were in Shepherd's Wool, but I do have to use up my stash, so Cascade it is. The pattern is fun, and that Jane is a clever designer. When I got done with the brim section, I couldn't visualize turning the hat inside out, but having faith, I followed the directions and had an aha! moment. This woman can write a pattern! It should be done sometime tonight if Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and the Blockhead don't kill me.

I've got some right clicking to do. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Leo McSissybritches

Hey! Did she just call me a sissy?

Apparently, Leo doesn't like snow. Twice this morning, I've had to shove him out the back door when ordinarily, he bolts out to bark at Isaac the Pit. This is not good as the flurries that are dusting the lawn are not what I consider real snow.

I have to remind myself that I'm still getting to know this quirky beastie boy.

Maybe I should knit him some socks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

It's around 2 PM on a dreary, rainy, overcast, but near balmy day in Detroit. By midnight, the temperature will be below freezing. I'll be dressing accordingly and likely in layers. The mitts are done and soaking in a bath right now. I'm sure my friend will be thrilled to finally have them. She only asked I do this 2 months ago. Better late than never.

Thank you for the advice on the Nordic hat. I'll stay away for a bit, but not long. What concerns me most about that pattern is the hat which is knit stockinette and then hemmed. I'm worried it'll have no give and squeeze my head, so I'm considering the instructions and my own variation. Today I'm back to Christmas knitting and I'll cast on for Jane's Mock Cable Hat. I bought the pattern the day she released it on Ravelry. Since there is quite a bit of worsted weight wool in the stash, I won't have to go shopping and being fresh off the mitts that employed plenty of right and left twist stitches in the cables, I think I'm ready.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, my schedulers, have already sent out my schedule for tonight and changed their minds once. I'll let them get a grip on what they may really want before I look at my emails again, or maybe I'll wait to clock in at 4 PM, which ever comes first. I'm betting on 4 PM. But wait...just as I wrote that sentence, my Blackberry chirped.

It comes to mind that I'm in dire need of a vacation. I'm taking two extra days off in December and this gives me three short weeks in a row, but the big staycation is in the works for February. Not being of sound mind, I couldn't bear the thought of working all of February. It's a month I abhor in the first place, and doubly so when working the streets of Detroit. It's cold, dark, snowy and miserable, so I took half of it off--the last half. I've no plans and in my mind, that's the best kind of vacation to have. When I return to work, it'll be March and with any luck, spring will be in the air.

Oh my. It's 2 minutes past the last time my Blackberry chirped and I think they've changed their minds yet again. They really do need to get their excreta together.

Well, off to wind wool and at least knit a row or two of that spiffy new hat.

Today's title? What the Doorknob said...
Alice in Wonderland

Monday, November 29, 2010

Been there; done that.

Once again, a slight wave of panic fills my knitting soul. I'm not done, not even close to being done with holiday knitting. Every year I promise myself that I won't knit any holiday gifts, but I do.

This year, I have a little something different in mind for my holiday knitting. If it can't be completed in one or two days, I won't even consider the project. That means, if you're on my list, you can expect a hat, bulky mittens or a cowl.

You won't be the lucky recipient of these Can Cans. While they're relatively quick--this pair was cast on Friday, worked on solely all weekend-- they're not quick enough. I think I can blame the itty-bitty needles and the fingering weight yarn. I've visited this pattern before and made them for Kathleen. I came across another skein of yarn in the same color and so I'm making them again for a friend (a mentor, really) who asked for them because her office is cold. Once I finish these, I'll seriously tackle the rest of my holiday gift giving list.

There's only one big problem with my plan and that's the Nordic stocking hat and gloves pattern that is screaming for me to begin already. I stopped by the yarn store yesterday and bought the sport weight wool in all the right colors. I even went to Office Depot to enlarge the Fair Isle pattern 150% so that I can see. I'm trying hard, really hard to ignore the voices telling me to cast on now.

Maybe just a swatch to get a feel for the yarn and pattern. That's not dangerous, is it?

Friday, November 26, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

A boy and his dawg in more respectful times just two days ago.

Leo has been crated off and on today for safety reasons. When he gets rambunctious, he says hello to the interior of his crate. We can't chance that he'll jump on my son and tear the flaps newly made by the eye surgeon just this afternoon.

While my son has been trying to sleep off the effects of valium, Leo has been freed from his cell. When the boy woke up and wanted to eat, I went to the kitchen to make him a dish full of delicious leftovers. On the plate was turkey, mashed potatoes, and all that was left of the stuffing and green bean casserole. I delivered a dish of cranberry waldorf salad to my son while the rest of his dish was getting ready for the microwave. I dawdled to put in his eye drops...

...and returned to the kitchen to find my son's dinner had been snarfed up by his four legged friend.

As you can see, barely a crumb was left behind, and that only because I interrupted the pig in the middle of his crime.

Still not full, and apparently ever hopeful, the beast is begging here for dessert.

Naughty dawg. Poor six eyed young son.

Tomorrow morning, the granny glasses and eye shields come off and with a little luck, the boy should see at least 20/20.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's the little things...

Deep dish apple pie from Ina Garten's recipe.

Giving thanks today to the cooking Gods for an oven that works and smoke alarms that know the difference between normal heat from the stove and a real fire.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mad as a Hatter

If I don't make it to the stores, there will be nothing to serve but Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving dinner. However, the table is set and that has to count for something.

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille.

This is Tam B from Three Tams. I love how the patterns are similar, and yet different.

Talk about cutting it close--this is all that's left of the Cashmerino Aran yarn--a mere 8 yards. The keys are there for size reference.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big girls can too play with crayons

Being rather late to knitting in general and color knitting specifically, I have to say, I wonder why. This is such an entertaining form of knitting and I find the patterns so mesmerizing, I just can't put my needles down. I've been having fun with these hats and find myself saying, one more row, one more row. Tam B is the last of three and I chose to make it with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a cream color and Mochi Plus for the variegated striped yarn. I'm not completely finished yet so I can't show you the star on top, but it's my favorite so far. The yarns are so soft and the sheen and stitch definition are perfect for this project.



See that rib? I finally conquered the purling problem encountered with Tam A.

After whining about my schedule this week, I found out a last minute request to take Friday off was granted. All in all, this week is shaping up to be a good one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And so it begins.......

Tam A in hand spun alpaca (my own) and Noro Kureyon

Bright and early on weekdays, one of our schedulers posts report from the day or weekend before. This allows everyone who reads it to gain knowledge of what happened while they were off. Some read it, and very obviously (as previously posted here), many do not. It's not that they can't read, it's more like they don't want to take the time when a phone call to awaken the night shift nurse is easier, but I digress. The scheduler always starts her post with a quick nod to what day of the week it may be--as if my Blackberry didn't already let me in on that. Monday report typically begins with, "and so it begins.........." There are always a plethora of ellipses to denote that, yes, it's the start of the week, and my friends, it's gonna suck.

It's only Sunday, and I'm already dreading the week ahead, what with the hunting, gathering and cooking for a feast all by myself, entertaining Mr. Larger Than Life, watching Stinkerbell McBookeater like a hawk and oh, yeah, working 12 hours Thursday night into Friday morning, sleeping fast and getting up to work again by Friday at 4 PM. It's my holiday to work, but don't feel sorry for me, it's one of the two I selected. Sometimes, I'm not too bright.

So far this weekend, I've worked a bit on the shawl and knocked out another tam. I selected tam A from the free Three Tams pattern and used a combination of hand spun alpaca for the main color and Noro Kureyon for the contrast. Being a primarily self taught knitter, I tried and tried to do the corrugated ribbing on the brim of the hat, but couldn't figure out how to make the contrasting color pop. As a result, the contrasting color on the brim only shows on the inside. Now I know what I did wrong, but it's too late for the hat, and the brim will stay. I'm not ripping out all of that fragile hand spun and the single ply Noro.

I will however promise not to advance in a pattern without figuring out what's going on with my technique when it isn't right. What I did wrong was bring both the working and non working yarns forward to make the purl stitch and both to the back of the work to make the knit stitch. I should have moved only the contrast yarn forward for purling and back again for knitting and let the non working yarn dangle in the back. I inadvertently created a double knit brim that could be reversible if not for the rest of the hat.

Live and learn.

I'm ready for Tam B with a corrugated rib and I'm also cruising Amazon for a more definitive text on color knitting. I think I may buy Alice Starmore's book and perhaps the one on color by Sally Melville.

I'd better hurry...........before I know it, it'll be time to begin that work week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And the survey says...

Feeling pressured, I joined a committee at work that meets once a month. Yesterday was the first meeting I made it to as I slept through the first one. Tomorrow there is another mandatory meeting at 8 AM. Nice. This is just what the night shift loves doing--getting up at the butt crack of dawn after working until 1 in the morning.

This morning, I overslept after working 11 hours without a break. This is not such a good idea as I have an overdue appointment to get my hair cut. When I looked in the mirror this morning, my hair, wild and bushy, looked like I'd had a wild nightmare that lasted all night. There was nothing appealing about my sad case of bedhead.

This got me to thinking about what I should do before I went to see the stylist. Should I wash it and do a quick blow-dry? I mean, isn't she going to do that anyway? It reminded me of the time I paid another woman to clean my house. I would clean the night before she came so she didn't think I was a slob. Duh. I finally gave that up since I was doing 90% of the work and all she had to do was vacuum and mop.

As I mulled over my options, these were the three that came immediately to mind:

1. Get all dolled up to go to the hair salon because you are certain the paparazzi are waiting to catch you in an unguarded moment.

2. Relax by knitting another row of lace and then slap a hand knit hat on your head as you walk out the door. When you get to the salon, tell the stylist it's hat hair.

3. Chill out and let the bedhead slide because after all, you remembered to put on clean panties. In this way, you're prepared for the worst of emergencies your mother warned you about.

What would you do?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Finding hope where least expected

My grandparents, Leon and Irma, in front of their home in Detroit circa 1940

My scheduler, a particularly concrete thinker, sent me to the wrong zip code to open a hospice case last night. As my escort drove me down the street, I couldn't help but think about the times I spent on that block and how nothing looked the same anymore.

It was the same block where my mother grew up, my grandfather raced pigeons and brewed "root beer" during prohibition and my grandmother ruled with an iron fist, but oh how the place had changed. I looked in vain for familiar homes and landmarks.

Mom's childhood home (and the entire neighborhood) was gone and while I was expecting to see the usual carcasses of those homes, overgrown weeds and the detritus of neighborhood thugs, I saw instead a thing of wonder.

A brand new Habitat for Humanity neighborhood had sprung up in its place.

One can't replace the craftsmanship of the early 20th century on a shoestring budget, but instead of neighborhood blight and despair, it appears that hope has moved into town.

I'll have to thank the blockhead who sent me here because she was too lazy to check the correct zip code. I owe her one.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaking News

The Knitting Nurse finally conquers Row 116 in a savage battle of wits. What a fight it was and since most of you missed it, your own Ms. Knitting Perfection from The Guild has snagged an interview with the winner.

KP: So, Knitting Nurse, tell us, how does it feel to have finally completed the 317 stitches in Row 116?

KK: It feels great. Finally, I can relax a little with this shawl and complete the remaining 112 rows with peace of mind. I may even come to enjoy knitting this project.

KP: There is a rumor circulating from the Row 116 camp that cheating was involved. Do you care to answer this accusation?

KK: Well, I don't feel it was was more like making a snap judgment in the ring and correcting an obviously grievous error. You see, after I completed Row 116, I thought I had the correct stitch count. Somehow though, when purling back on Row 117, I must have purled a yarn over together with its corresponding knit stitch which left me one lousy stitch short. There was no way in hell I was going to rip back 637 stitches of lace to fix one of Row 116's dirty tricks.

KP: Tell us all then, how did you fix this?

KK: Well, on Row 118, a lovely and friendly row indeed, I studied the stitches between my cable needle and the lifeline. It came to my attention that at the very first stitch marker, my centered double decrease was on the right side of the marker instead of the left. When I came to said marker, instead of knitting a yarn over, SSK as the pattern called for, I made the executive decision to do a yarn over, K1. I gained one stitch in this manner and moved the marker to the correct side of the CDD.

KP: I see. So you did cheat as Row 116 maintains.

KK: Tough. We're not going to do battle again.

KP: Rumor has it that Row 116 has an identical twin on Row 164 that may be an even tougher opponent--after all, it's 423 stitches long. How are you preparing mentally for this battle?

KK: Cart. Horse. Let's not go there yet. Suffice it to say, I have tripled the use of lifelines in preparation for that blowhard, Row 164.

KP: There you have it folks. Row 116 falls in the ninth round in what we consider a technical knock out. Though she cheated, who can really blame the Knitting Nurse? Obviously, she had as much of Row 116 as she could take and it was either cheat, or find a room at the asylum. We at The Guild wonder, has the Knitting Nurse looked ahead to the end of this pattern? Surely, with the self assurance she has demonstrated in this interview, she can't possibly realize she faces a fussy crochet cast off.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear Row 116

As much as you have tried to come between me and this stunningly gorgeous shawl, I have to say I'm ready for you. I've ripped out around 6,000 stitches and reknit most of them.

Around row 110, I fell into a rhythm and was beginning to feel over confident that once I got back to you, I could take you in a fight.

Then I recalled that I've battled you at least 8 times which forced me to re-knit this section over and over again, and I began to feel self doubt.

I did what any sane knitter would do and stuck another lifeline in at row 111. Not just any lifeline, either. I knit row 111 with a US size 6 Knitpicks interchangeable needle and left the 60 inch cable cord with dead-enders attached right where it was. Row 112 was a little tight, but I'm willing to block the hell out of this shawl to rid myself of the lifeline's temporary presence.

This way now, when I get to you and you give me another run for my life, I only have to rip to row 111, reattach the size 6 needles and get back in the fight.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. This time, I'm going to win.


The Intrepid Knitting Nurse