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 cheating...exactly...it 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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Affaire de coeur?

A year ago last August, I began a dalliance with a little something new. I was hot off my affair with a summer love that was promised to another and could never be mine. Foolishly, I thought I could just move on and this hot little number would make me forget all about summer.

At my age, I should know better. After all, we all know rebound affairs never work now, don't we?

Still, I didn't let that stop me and last October, I began to pursue my new interest with abandon.

Perhaps you remember this steamy run in I had with the Louet yarn on a cone and a US size 6 lace needle. Shamefully, I never finished it and truth be told, I dumped it like a hot potato when we ran into trouble on row 116. Shortly after the break-up, the holidays came around and I was busy--my mind too preoccupied to attend to mindful knitting--and then I had to compete in the Knitting Olympics. Really, it was one excuse and project after another. I did well ignoring the siren call of the lace until I accidentally bumped into it while reorganizing my knitting room.

Pitter-patter went my heart. I told myself this was just gas or some other form of mistaken heart palpitations. I shoved it back into the depths of the closet, but it never left my mind.

In a moment of insanity today, I plucked the Pretty as a Peacock shawl out of the bag where it's been taking up space, attempted 4 times to knit row 116 and ended up ripping back to row 99 where the lifeline was living. Not such an auspicious new beginning, but in doing so, I found where we went wrong. I was attempting to read and knit the written version, but realized to my chagrin...THERE ARE MISTAKES in the written version. Gargantuan mistakes. Not mine, and not the shawl's, but the author's.

I'm an idiot. I should have known that this beautiful piece of art would not knowingly lead me down the path of unrequited love.

I think now that my head is in a different place, this shawl and I will begin anew and we'll take it one day at a time. I have donned my rose colored glasses and we will swear to one another that we'll only use the charted version of the pattern.

Words are cheap.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If I ever buy a country cottage...

I'll have the market cornered on cozy.

Apparently, someone had a slow hospicie sort of night last night. I got one call misdirected to me and meant for the pediatric hospice nurse. I don't do peds. Never. Ever.

Not wasting any time at all, I cast on with the Moguls using half the stitch count and big fat needles. The border was done in about 10 minutes at which point I switched to US size 6 needles and doubled the stitch count. I love big yarn and this selection really gave me a quick start. I chose a 20 row/20 stitch repeating pattern for the Fair Isle part and finished that this morning.

By Michigan/Perdue game time, I was working on the top and finished right about the time Penn State scored its second goal in Columbus, Ohio. In case they haven't noticed in Ohio, there is a strong possibility of pigs flying. Take cover.

And now, thanks to the inspiration found in Color by Kristin, I have a warm covering for my teapot.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coloring my world

Though there are an abundance of patterns out there that I wound never want to change, there are plenty around that I would--if just for the chance to make them my own.

On Ravelry, at the click of a button, I found about 400 tea cozy patterns that I had to narrow down. I eliminated the crocheted items because I can't crochet...not enough needles. I focused on worsted weight wools and eliminated everything else. I didn't want to pay for the pattern. Call me cheap, but hey, why not? I wanted to use multiples of rich, bright colors, so I selected only color work patterns. I even looked for a tea topper two ways: cozy and cosy.

When all was said and done, even when I added the more costly patterns back in, nothing spoke to me. That's when I recalled that there was such a pattern I liked in the Kristin Nicholas book, Color by Kristin.

I'm ashamed to tell you that even though I take care of all of my books, my copy of Kristin's book gives new meaning to the term dog-earred. While Stinkerbell McBookeater did not chew this book, her canine pal did. Bad dog. Still, it's only the cover that got chewed and all of the inspiring patterns are still intact.

I put the book and several worsted weight yarns I collected into a basket I picked up at a new shop in my neighborhood. Using the pattern for Kristin's cozy as a jumping off point, I then set out to think how make it my own. I selected the Mountain Colors Moguls yarn in Bitter Root as the cuff of this piece and chose a Fair Isle stitch pattern from the dictionary of stitches in Kristin's book. I'll stick with the mitered top as in the pattern.

This will be my weekend project and I'll show photos of my progress. By Sunday, I'm hoping the tea will stay hot between trips to the teapot.

A note on those yarns: with the exception of the Moguls, everything else in that basket is Michigan made from Stonehedge Farm & Fiber Mill. If you've never knit with this gorgeous merino wool, I encourage you to give it a try. You'll never look at Cascade 220 in the same way once you've felt the soft hand of Shepherd's Wool.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fade Isle Knitting?

Not one to let my needles be still for long, I stumbled across a hat pattern I just had to have. I perused the pattern, free of course, and went shopping for yarn right upstairs in the yarn studio.

Abandoning everything else I had going, I cast on to knit tam C using Galway in a pale green for the main color and for the contrast, Nashua Wooly Stripes Tweed. This clever use of a striped yarn as contrast allows the Fair Isle knitter to use only 2 colorways. Ultimately, this means NO ENDS TO WEAVE! Not too shabby. Not being much of a fan of the pattern recommended Noro yarn (I hate knots in my yarn), my selection for the contrast was much more subtle than the usually vibrant colors of Noro. The entire time I was knitting the hat, I felt I'd made a mistake with the colors and was creating a hat with a pattern that wouldn't be discernible, but I didn't let that stop me.

I'm so glad because I could not have been more wrong.

Gorgeous. And it fits. This one just might be for me.

Because I don't look good in a hat with ribbing, I changed up the pattern a bit by throwing in a braided cast on for fun. I knit 4 rows of corrugated ribbing as in the pattern and then threw in a braid with the arrows pointing in the opposite direction of the cast on braid.

Next up? I think that gorgeous teapot that I bought from Debra needs a Fair Isle cozy on cold winter nights.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's a little tendonitis?

Especially when the outcome is as pretty as this.

I've been determined for a week to finish this poncho I started late last winter. Despite the aching feelings in my left wrist, and the one edge I knit in stockinette instead of garter stitch (that I refuse to fix), here is the completed pattern, Erika, from last year's Rowan Classic Winter Solace. Though I've been exaggerating that I've been knitting miles and miles of stockinette stitch, the truth is, it only feels that way. I've only knit 9/10s of a mile of yarn to get to the end of this.

What I'm searching for now is another hat or cowl to cast on for charity knit night tonight at Sue's. I'm thinking something chunky to change it up a bit.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

3 Guesses...

Who has been overdosing on HGTV again?

Here is one of the colors we've chosen as an accent color on one or two walls in an undisclosed location. Oh my, but that is some dark, dark paint. It's Rainstorm, by Behr. The primary color is Millstream and the ceiling and trim will be white. I had fun playing with the colors on the Behr website where one can slap virtual paint on the virtual walls of your own room. You just have to upload your own photos and get to painting.

Want to venture a guess as to which room I got bold enough to let walls speak so loudly?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

True Confession

At times, even a fur coat is not enough.

Sometimes, I demonstrate a profound lack of intellect.

While my kitchen is miniature small, I find I have decent enough storage and the space is OK for one cook. There isn't much room for two people wielding sharp knives. It's comfortable for me though, and everything is new which is a plus. The big advantage to a small space is that it takes no time at all to clean. However, there is something that I missed on inspection when we bought this home, and the irony here is that there weren't any appliances present to block my view of what was missing. I just didn't see it and so did not recognize that what should have been there, simply was not.

There are no heating vents.

While there are plenty of things to keep things cold like granite, tile floors and stainless steel, the only thing keeping me warm in there are a couple of rugs and a small space heater that I picked up on Saturday. It also helps to be clad in wool.

The buddy system helps.

Did I mention it's cold here in the Big D? Freezing, frosty, nippy, chilly, frigid, and near wintry. Oh wait. Wintry? That's right. Thursday night into Friday morning will bring a rain/snow mix. As I write this at 11 AM, it's only 37 degrees (that's 3 degrees for my friends who measure in celsius).

Miles and miles of stockinette take time to knit and help keep my lap warm. Sadly, I have not learned to knit and cook simultaneously.

Tell me again...why did I need to buy a home with character?



That looks about right for the amount of caffeine I need to get through a day. Perhaps it's why I can't sleep at night, even though I cut myself off rather early in the day. Truth be told, I'm down to about 3 big mugs of coffee a day and maybe a cup or two of tea. Rather than believe the lies in respect to the harm caffeine may cause me, I'm going to believe in the antioxidant power of the coffee bean. Don't try to dissuade me, because if I don't have my coffee, I look and feel like this:

Coffee was my mother's favorite drink and my dad used to make his own muddy Turkish coffee that I pretended to adore. Maybe I did like it, or maybe I was aiming to please by showering praise on my dad when he brewed that miserable concoction. Whatever.

I'm off to brew a pot of coffee in honor of my parent's memory and then I'm going to make my mom turn over in her grave by going out to vote for democrats. Sorry, mom.

What are you doing on this beautiful, Día de los Muertos?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where's in the World is Finder?

My MacBook has been crippled for about a month, maybe more, at which time, Finder mysteriously left town. For those of you who don't have a Mac, here is a description of Finder's all important job:
The Dock in Mac OS X provides fast, one-click access to frequently used applications, folders, files, and even downloads from the Internet. The Finder makes working with your files and documents as easy as browsing your iTunes library.

Though most applications continued to work, I could only FIND them the hard way. I tried to shut down my computer, but because Finder wasn't working, it couldn't shut down any of my applications like mail, Safari, or iPhoto. I kept getting an error message that the finder application wouldn't open because it couldn't be found. I couldn't slurp up photos from the internet, open certain applications or download security updates. For whatever reason, Finder had left me and I was too lazy to go talk to an Apple Genius, but only because whenever I go to an Apple store, there are 759, 243 people in front of me.

Long story short...my son came by to download his photos from the Penn State game (Michigan's third loss in a row), and said, "your Finder isn't working." No kidding. Really? So he fixed it. He shut off the power, rebooted and when he did, Finder was back from vacation.

Sheesh. Simple as that? I had thought of this as an option, but was fearful that if Finder was really lost, nothing would open with a hard restart. Since it wasn't his laptop, my son had no such fear.

Sometimes I think too much.

For Skippy: Trevor on a Stick eating Thai food somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Since it's All Saint's Day, I suppose I have St. Anthony to thank (in addition to my son) for finding Finder.

I'd show you my own pictures from the weekend, but it was rather dull. Miles and miles of stockinette were knit, but I swear, this project will never be finished. While I started it last February with the intent of wearing it by spring, I fear it won't be done until next spring.