Saturday, September 29, 2012

Totally at random & a winner

Though Comerica Park was only 2/3 full on Thursday, I find it hard to believe that all the people attending a mid-afternoon weekday baseball game had the day off work.  I'm quite certain more than 1 of them was playing hooky.  Lots of kids were there, too, and I highly doubt it was a teacher inservice day, but who can blame them?  It was the last home game of the regular season and it was a glorious day for a ball game.   It was magical to watch Doug Fister pitch a game in which he set a new American League RecordThe Tigers did not disappoint and pulled a rabbit out the hat in the bottom of the 9th inning to save Doug's game.   I did not get to knit because while I had my remembered my knitting, I forgot the extra needle.  Duh.  That's OK, I was happy watching history get made.

I finally shook off my laziness and put some effort into my job this week.  In a no good deed goes unpunished sort of way, I've had my behind handed to me.  Late Friday afternoon, the triage nurse, who--praise be--is finally back to work, called and begged me to go see a patient in Detroit.  She was so desperate and pathetic, I caved.  The patient's home was in a rebuilt neighborhood near the river and was on a canal.  It was a beautiful setting, but the drive there was sad.  Most of the old homes are gone and either rebuilt homes have replaced them, or vacant lots take up the space where families used to live in modest Craftsman style homes.  The factories surrounding are seldom in use, but are instead abandoned, full of graffiti and scar the landscape horribly.  It bothers me that those businesses are allowed to make their fortunes and then close, abandoning the buildings and leaving the financially strapped city to figure it all out.  Who knows, I'm sure plenty of them left toxic substances behind, too.  Try as I may, I never see a city that can match Detroit in the scorched earth landscape type of way.

The above really bothered me.  So much so, that while stopped at a light, I scribbled 'scorched earth' on a notepad.  I got to thinking about those factories as soon as I got on the freeway ramp of my nightmares.  It's southbound Interstate 75 to the on ramp of eastbound Interstate 94.  I've had night terrors that I've driven off that ramp and soared through the sky right toward the bread factory that used to be there.  More than once I've awakened in a cold sweat from that dream right before impact. The building is of course still there, abandoned and full of graffiti, which is why I got to thinking about that in the first place.  I really need to give that hamster in my brain a break!

Still with me?  Finding Pam?  Random Number Generator selected your comment and you are the winner of a pair of Cloisonne mittens.  Just let me know your favorite colors, what size you'd like them to be and I'll get right to work on them!  I promise, your fingers will be toasty warm this winter.  Congratulations.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I like a good contest, don't you?

Last week I happened to be lucky enough to reply the fastest to an email sent out by the human resource department at work and I won a pair of tickets to today's Tiger game.

The Tigers are finally in first place in the AL standings and this is my first regular season game today, though I've watched plenty of them on television.  My son, who will likely be moving across country for work soon, will be going with me.

I'll be the one knitting mittens in the upper box behind the catcher.  This pair is for Sara.  If you want a pair for yourself, make sure to leave a response on my last post to be included in the contest.  I'll knit them in your favorite colors if you're the lucky winner.

OK, it's late.  I have to shower, find my Tiger's t-shirt and get going.  Have a great day, and if you watch the game, look for the knitter in the stands.  I hope I don't spill any beer on my mittens.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One down. Several to go.

If you're wondering what I'm getting you for Christmas, wonder no more.  Those of you on the list are getting these mittens in a wide array of colors.  Let this be the autumn I bust through all of those bits of colorful leftover worsted weight wool that I own.  I knew in my heart that yarn would come in handy and I wasn't wrong to let those tiny balls take up space.  The bits were too small to knit much of anything, but I was loathe to discard them.  And look!  They're perfect for this project.

The first pair is going to my boss who has resigned to move to a city on the west side of the state where she'll reside in a snow belt.  She'll still work for one of our subsidiaries, and still in hospice, so all is not lost.  Now she'll have toasty fingers to look forward to this winter.  She's going to need these where she is going.

The private side of the mitten and a bit of fancy smocking.

Now for the technical details.  This is not fancy color work here--more a sleight of hand.  Only one color at a time is worked.  Several rows are knit in a single color and the 4th row in a separate color.  Every so often, a fancy stitch is done in place of a regular knit stitch and voila!  It's smocked.  No entrelac involved, Knitty.  I can't be more detailed because the pattern is not free, but rest assured, the pattern designer is detailed enough.

I had to use a smaller needle (US 5) for the cuff or it would have been too large.  I used a US 6 for the hand and thumb.  I didn't carry those colors up from the bottom.  It's much easier to use what you need, snip the end and weave it in as you go (bonus is no weaving at the end).  I did carry the black yarn throughout the cuff as it's used every 4th row.

Any worsted weight yarn will work here and I likely used a mix of either Cascade 220, Stonehedge Shepherd's Wool and for sure Berroca Vintage.

The best thing?  I cast on Friday, fiddled a bit, ripped twice and finished them off (a whole pair) today.  I think if I put my mind to it, I could knit a pair in a day, but then I would likely come to hate knitting them if I did that to myself.

Since I'm feeling so good about this little project, leave a comment for a chance to own them yourself.  I'll do a drawing Saturday and one lucky winner will get a pair of these (in her favorite colors) to ward of winter's chill.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Futility and the cure

I have been knitting like gangbusters lately, and despite a very poorly written pattern, I've completed one shawl that gave me fits.  I'm still so annoyed by it, I haven't been able to do more than cast off and throw it in a pile.  I hate it, though I'm almost certain that given a fair amount vicious manipulation with blocking wires, pins and moisture, it'll all work out just fine.  First I have to get past the hard feelings.  The pattern was going well until I got to the lace decreases, where it all came apart.  None of the numbers added up and none of the lace decreases were on the chart. Significant fudging was involved in the end.  Why I didn't just rip the damn thing out when I butted up against the errors is beyond me, but I persevered, did the clever short row shaping--which looks a little cockeyed to me--and finally cast off last week.  Yeah, hate is likely a mild verb to describe how I really feel about this pattern and the heap of lace sitting in the corner.

There will be no linking to that pattern from hell.

You're welcome.

Moving right along, I cast on The Yarn Harlot's CloisoneĆ© mittens.  I've owned the pattern since she first published, but until now I had not made them.  I have an enormous amount of colorful worsted weight yarn ends though (which is perfect for these) and thought the time right for something simple.  Except in my post-shawl mental state, it wasn't.  Simple.  The color work technique with this pattern was new to me, and my first attempt looked ridiculous, but I persevered with that, too.  Who would think that K4B meant to knit only one stitch into the 4th stitch below and not to knit 4 stitches in a row like that?  Only someone who had just finished FIGHTING with a poorly written pattern, that's who. I ripped out my first attempt, accepted there would be a learning curve and cast back on.  Things went much smoother the second time. When I finally reached a point I could try the fledgling mitten on, I realized I was off on gauge.  Really off.  At that rate, had I kept going, those mittens would have fit Andre the Giant. I ripped the second attempt out and cast back on again using smaller needles and I'm happy to report, third time's a charm.  This, no surprise here considering the source, is a superbly written pattern as long as you don't read too much into what you see on the page.  No need, really.

Knitting these mittens from this pattern is like a soothing balm after the battle of the shawl.  Now that I've got the hang of things, they're so much fun to make.  I hope all of my friends and relatives will be happy with their Christmas gifts this year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to bleach your brain pictorial

Going cold turkey from the news wasn't as hard as I thought it would be this weekend, but to be completely honest, I had a little relapse today and in between the rooms I cleaned, I may have watched both Meet the Press and Face the Nation.  If I'd had a better plan for today, it wouldn't have happened.  Yesterday I filled the time up with beautiful things.

Like giant misshapen pumpkins.

And bizarre looking hay bale sculptures.

There were sweet baby goats, pigs, cows, geese and chicks.

And a witch that cackled in a familiar voice, threatening all the while to "get you and your little dog, too."

I don't think the witch wrote this.  Instead  a plane etched an M in the sky high above The Big House before the game.   Photo courtesy of my son who has tickets for all of the home games this year.  Of course he does.

Knitting is always therapeutic and there was plenty of leftover yarn from the Porcupine Blanket, so I quickly knocked out a Sheep Hat, also from 60 Quick Baby Knits.
Sheep Hat backside.
It's so damned cute.  I hope the mom of this baby sends me a picture of her daughter modeling this.  While it was quick, trinity stitch IS a pain the behind.  I hope she likes it.  I'm trying to figure out how to adapt this to adult size.  I do believe I know one or two big people who would love to own this hat.   Hopefully someone on Ravelry has already done the math.

And that, my friends, is how you bleach a brain when it's been overloaded by all that would have me hiding under the blankets.  I think it was a success.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A woman can shut this whole thing down, right?

Unwittingly, and despite a good plan, I've descended into political hell.  It began innocently enough with a comment from my husband said while we were on vacation:  "Mitt Romney is going to be your new president." Since then, I've allowed myself to buy and read books about politics and have been watching the 24 hour news cycle.  Money has been donated to the political party of my choice and on a daily basis, I get at least 6 emails from that party begging me to give more.   Who do they think I am?  The Koch brothers? I need to go back to donating to charitable organizations because  they only ask for more money once a month or so, not 6 times a day.  For nearly 48 hours this week, iCloud email was down for about a million users worldwide and I counted myself blessed that I was finally one of a million because I got no emails during that time.

I need a better plan for combatting television news.  I feel so anxious about all of the unrest around the world and a few times this week, I've felt real despair.  In my heart, I believe this constant news cycle feeds the unrest and muddies the waters.  There is no way that what happened in Libya was anything but a well planned terrorist attack meant to coincide with 9/11.  It was a colossal mistake for me to delve deeper into what really happened to the four men who died there because what I found truly sickened me.  The immediate spin--especially by the media & pundits-- of their tragic deaths has been despicable and I wonder how it took off in the direction it did at a time a little more respect should have been shown.  Ted Koppel's fascinating piece on Rock Center (which I had never watched before last week) really opened my eyes to how this 24 hour hateful news cycle works.  I'm hopeful what I learned will help lift me out of this hole I've dug myself.

In the meantime, I've honed my action plan. Late last night I bought a new book that has nothing to do with politics and during the day yesterday, I knit a bit on a new shawl while watching the movie, Butter.  OK, so the movie had political undertones, but I didn't know that when I started watching and at least it was satirical and humorous.   Today there is a local art fair on the menu for distraction and tomorrow a trip to the cider mill. It has been really helpful that the pattern for the shawl is full of mistakes and has required intense concentration and significant fudging to get it right.  That's distracting me for sure.  Even Leo is trying to help:

Someone doesn't like the change in weather.
Thank you to all who have helped me find jammies for Stinkerbell.  It turns out a local discount store had them for $18 in a fabulous Hello Kitty pattern.  I know I said I'd never go into that particular store and give them my hard earned money, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I capitulated.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Defensive Shopping

It's not easy buying clothes for Rachel.  If I see anything I think she may like, it must pass a series of  tests that I call, is it Rachel proof?  If it's a sweatshirt or hoodie, does it have a zipper?  If so, it's out.  Does it have buttons or snaps?  Out!  She chews everything, so if its a pullover hoodie with strings, she can have it, but the strings are removed.

The second hardest thing is finding clothes for a young woman who weighs 102 pounds soaking wet and is 6 feet tall with long, long arms. That's runway model territory, so you'd think it would be easy to find something, but models are allowed to wear beautiful clothes.  Rachel is not.  She will chew and destroy anything beautiful.  For that reason alone, we try to shop for less expensive items that can be bought in bulk and rotated through her wardrobe.

I was so sad when she outgrew toddler clothes and her fleece one piece footed winter pajamas.   About 10 years ago, those types of pajamas made a comeback in adult sizes, but they're so hard to find.  Come this time of year, all of the women in my family go on the hunt for jammies that will keep Rachel warm and cozy.  Sometimes we luck out and don't have to look any further than the closest Target or Meijer's.  When we find them, we buy them out.  Seriously.  Then we burn up the phone lines when we see them, encouraging one another to hit another branch of those stores to buy them out, too.  It's greedy, I know, but this garment is the only one we buy that has zippers, and, well, they don't last a season so we go through them quite quickly.

Winter coats are particularly hard to buy.  They all have inescapable bells and whistles Rachel loves to chew best: zippers, snaps, buttons and velcro.  She got two new coats last year and destroyed the industrial strength zippers on her bus rides to and from school in no time at all.  I had thought I'd been so clever buying coats with zippers and then hidden snaps that covered the zippers.  She'd put on a perfectly good coat in the morning and come home with bent snaps and missing zipper teeth.  Coats are expensive--as if you didn't know.  This year we wised up and my husband took the perfectly good & incredibly warm, but zipper challenged coats to a seamstress.  With not too many questions, she assured my husband that she could put a zipper in anything.

Fingers crossed here that she's the saint she claims to be.  If I can get another year out of that Eddie Bauer down filled coat, I'll be grateful.  It keeps her so warm and that's another challenge for Rachel because on top of the rest of the shitty hand she was dealt, Rachel has Raynaud's Syndrome and she is never warm enough.  Even in summer, this slip of thing with no body fat to spare, wears hoodies.

Well it's back to online shopping for Rachel for me.  I'm down to only long sleeved shirts, bras, socks & belts and then I get to call it a day.  If you run across those jammies I described, be sure to drop me a line.  I can use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A hairy situation

Naked Porcupine

Fuzzy porcupine.

Not a porcupine.  Definitely fuzzy.