Pandemic Diary: Days of Grief and Pain

To say I am beyond disgusted by the grandstanding, cruelty, lack of leadership and downright evil among people in our government and their lackeys who should know better would be the understatement of the century. I am a lot of angry and do not have the words that are appropriate to place in this blog. I am an older person, likely in the latter years of my life. I have arthritis, obesity, a bad gallbladder, thinning hair, a vitamin deficiency, and other problems you don’t want to know about. I wish I were in my twenties and able to get to Baltimore or DC and give ’em hell, but I’m not. All I can do is resolve to root out the evils of racism in my own soul, resolve to never accept it publicly or privately, and pray as if there were no tomorrow.- and vote!!
Life has been moving along despite a pandemic that, despite the double-speak you hear on the news, is still making people sick and claiming lives. We are gradually opening up in various ways and I suppose that needs to happen. One example is a birthday gathering at the home of our youngest and her wife. She wanted a “pride cake” and our penultimate offspring obliged. It was delicious. We practiced social distancing at the party – sitting at least six feet away from each other and wearing masks when we couldn’t do so. It was nice to see everyone while sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful spring evening. Occasionally our second oldest stops by with her two, masks to the ready and we have little visits. I went so far as to hug my granddaughters today – we were all wearing masks and have been careful all along, so I hope that won’t have any ill effects on anyone. Our first-born hosts a weekly Zoom meeting for anyone who cares to join in on Sundays.
The next phase of opening the courts to the public starts at the end of this week. We have been told the rule will be for remote hearings unless a request is made otherwise. I think that is wise. My husband has a couple of decisions to make about his work situation. I should find out in the next few days when my surgery will be. Our Third Adult Offspring settles on and moves into her new home, along with the Penultimate Offspring. It will be interesting to see what furniture remains:)! A lot is up in the air. We didn’t know the future before, so why should we now:)? I am grateful for having a roof over our heads, extended family to support each other, and gainful employment.

KNITTING
You know that was coming, didn’t you? Good Lord, I have thrown all worries about never finishing anything to the four winds.  I think I have started at least three or four more projects and have another that I will start as soon as the movers take the boxes blocking my access to some of the yarn. 
As you can see above, I’ve started and made a great deal of headway on the Calla shawl by Natasja Hornby.  She is fast becoming another one of my favorite shawl designers. It is practically knitting itself.  The yarn is just gorgeous and the pattern is just difficult enough to keep it interesting without tearing one’s hair out.  

I needed to order another skein of the solid blue from Magpie Fibers this morning.  I have no idea when it will arrive, so I will knit on this until I have to wait.  
I also started on The Throwback by Andrea Mowry and in so doing made an Executive Decision.  I detest knitting fair isle flat, so I decided to knit nine extra stitches in the center front and do a crochet steek when the time comes to “cardiganize*” this thing. 

This picture does not do the yoke colors justice.  I am past the yoke and have about 10 rows to go before dividing for sleeves and body. That’s when we get to the mindless knitting stage so conducive to knitting gatherings and tv watching. 
I found yet ANOTHER sweater in stash – another one I thought I had frogged! It’s the Lempster pullover by Norah Gaughan for Knitty.  It’s knit in a discontinued yarn called “Second Chance Cotton” which has a marled quallity remarkably like the picture in the pattern albeit in a different hue. Again, I will have to start taking more pictures during times of sunlight.  This is not great. 

CROSS STITCH
Good news: I finally finished a small project! Mixed news: I now have added about twenty more, LOL! Watching YouTube videos is NOT the way to avoid buying – in case you wondered.  I posted about this finish in my earlier blogpost about Memorial Day. It needs finishing and framing.  I got a little frame from Michaels that should be arriving in a day or two.  

To give you an idea of how slow I am with cross-stitch, it really did take me about 10 hours.  And it’s tiny.  So when I say that 30-40 cross-stitch samplers are a SABLE stash for me at age 66, I mean it. Unless of course, I get faster.  😉
I set the Maryland Seal and the St. Michaels projects aside to make a start on this:

This year is the 100th anniversary, so I figured I should try to get it done before 12/31/20.
To sum up what I’ve got waiting:

Well, time for dinner.  Be well everyone and be safe – andGod be with you ’til we meet again +
*I first heard this word used by Meg Swansen in her “Cardigan Details” video. 

Memorial

It took about 9-10 hours to stitch this today. I’m a slow stitcher, obviously. During those hours of sitting and stitching and listening to life in my house and just outside, I thought about what this holiday means. It’s about the people who gave their lives to protect our freedom. Not all of them were military personnel, though I am beyond grateful to them. I thought of the Quakers who were persecuted and murdered because they dared believe that God’s Spirit lives in the individual. I thought of Native Design: Carrie’s Creations, copyright 2000. Americans who died trying to preserve their heritage. I thought of women fighting for the vote, suffering force feedings and worse in prison cells. I thought of the children living – and dying- in cages at our border, a testament to the evils that we need to route out of our collective life. I thought of my Granny and Papa, “fictive kin” who came to the U. S. in 1917 and later supported friends and family fleeing Hitler’s Third Reich and his Death Camps because they had the audacity to be Jews. I thought of the men, women, and children who died by lynching – people in the prime of their lives whose only sin was being African American. I thought of a couple of saints in my own church who died protecting the right to vote in the Jim Crow South. We owe so much to them— and to many more – those people who were just a little weird, just a little out of it- people who made us feel uncomfortable. Today we live with that discomfort. And we honor them. May God bless them all mightily.

Lazy Sunday and knitting plans

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How are you all doing? I hope you are listening to the advice of the scientists and not allowing this tragic pandemic to be a thing of politics.  Please think about the vulnerable people in your community and follow the commonsense guidelines they have set forth for the good of all wherever you live. I am so lucky to be blessed with young adults in my house who go to the store for us (though I confess to a couple runs to the store  – mask and all!).  I have friends who are dealing with compromised immune systems- or spouses with compromised immune systems –  and they have to take so many more precautions. I was in a meetup on Zoom with a bunch of those friends and what they go through right now is an eye-opener! As for us, the DH is still on furlough – finished those last two days at the hotel – and some six weeks later, no ill effects, thank goodness.  He is still rather stubbornly going to the market and the store, but he does put his mask on. 

The courts remain closed to the public, but if a hearing can happen remotely, they can do that. Even with that very recent amendment, the backlog is going to be… let’s just say interesting.  There was some talk of having night court, but that probably won’t happen. (Too bad, I was hoping it would be shades of Harry Anderson…) With that, I have plenty of work-related tasks to fill my day. Much of my work was done at home previously, with the odd foray into the office, so it’s not terribly different.  The only thing I miss is seeing my clients in person. 

Sadly, it’s also the only way the DH and I get to see the grands, but we’re grateful we can:).  Our adult kids stay in touch with us and with each other – in fact four of them and a spouse got together last night by having cocktails and dinner outside of the house of one of them, sitting six feet away from each other! Right now, all of them are participating in a fundraiser for BARCs – an animal shelter – by playing trivia online. And, in the midst of all of this craziness and misery, one adult kid who lives with us just put a bid on a house.  Fingers crossed, she hears tomorrow about approvals.  I hope she gets it; the house appears really well constructed, in a nice, quiet neighborhood that at the same time is not far from the Beltway.  Her sister, our Penultimate Offspring, who also is living with us as she finishes law school, sans graduation, will be moving in with her – an excellent idea, though we will miss them both when that happens.  

I had a bit of a health incident a couple of weeks ago.  I had literally just finished lunch – it wasn’t particularly huge – a half sandwich and some chips – and almost immediately, this crushing pain hit me smack dab in the middle of my chest – either a horrible case of indigestion (reminiscent of Alien!)  – or a lot worse.  After reading so many times about how women’s heart attacks often feel more like gut pain, I got really worried and asked my daughter to call 911.  Luckily, our second oldest daughter was not on duty at her job as a dispatcher.  The paramedics arrived and immediately did an EKG, which, thank goodness was normal.  But the pain was not going away, so I decided it would be best to head in to the hospital, much as I hated to do that.  I was apologizing all over myself for using that resource, but they were already there and I really needed to know what this was.  Unfortunately, our third oldest – the one who called 911  – told the dispatcher that I was short of breath (I was breathing heavily because I was in pain, not due to difficulty breathing). This precipitated the need to basically quarantine me in the ER and conduct a test for COVID19.  The end result of all this: No COVID19 (I kinda knew that), but my gallbladder was definitely unhappy. I was sent home with instructions to follow up with my PCP, and a host of blood test results.  I will be doing that tomorrow. After having had two more of these spells, I definitely don’t want to have any more.  I’ve cut back on fats and alcohol – no real biggie – but there may be more I can do to turn it around – or at least stave it off until surgery can happen.
Well that was thrilling, wasn’t it, LOL:)? How ’bout I really put you to sleep?
On the knitting front…
Despite continuing to work, albeit at home, I do have a couple of additional hours every day for crafts, even though things at work often take lot longer than usual.  I also don’t have much to do by way of  commuting. As stated in previous posts, I’ve been working on finishing some sweaters that have been languishing in my WIP pile.  This past week, I finished two of them. First, the Trillium cardigan by Michele Wang:

  It fits perfectly – and when the weather gets cool again, I think it will be a nice sweater to wear to work.  The second sweater I finished is the pullover I thought I’d finish first – Felix by Amy Christoffers:

 I’d say I’m looking pretty pleased with myself here.  It fits just fine as well.  As you can tell, I knit it longer – I am not a cropped sweater kind of gal.  The white areas on my upper arms are actually the lace bits at the raglan sleeve shaping – a really nice detail of this design that you often see in Amy Christoffer’s patterns.

  I imagine this will show better with a turtleneck or shirt underneath. 
 I have another bunch of projects I’d like to put a dent in if not finish soon. Watershed by Amy Swensonm pictures of which you have seen here before.

Daffodil by Marie Wallin – I am well underway, but need to rip back the shoulder shaping  on the front and reknit to the correct length.  Back is almost done. This is an earlier picture that shows the color better:

  Hinterland (pullover) – not much done on this – I am a bit farther along than in this picture:

Bonne Marie Burns’ Fisher Lassie cardigan:  

 Meg Swanson’s Saddle Shoulder cardigan – featuring her mother, Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sheepfold cable:):

 An aran sweater for my son, mostly by Melissa Leapman (in the lighter color): 

   Brick by Clare Lee:     

 Stonecrop by Andrea Mowry: 

Leftovers Cowl by Wendy D. Johnson – a local-ish designer!

Sorrel by Wool & Pine:

  And finally, I have two more projects waiting in the wings – never mind the other (mumblety-mumblety) projects already on the needles:)!
The Throwback cardigan by Andrea Mowry: 

   And this bag ‘o beauties is going to be the Calla shawl by Natasja Hornby (Laine Magazine, Issue 7):

 Well dear 2.5 readers, if you are still with me, there’s one more thing I’d love to show you – a recent book acquisition and I couldn’t be more thrilled:

Cecelia Campchiaro has done it again -in Making Marls, she brings you into her way of looking at knitting and you don’t see things quite the same way again.  Just reading the forewords written by Meg Swanson and the women from Mason-Dixon Knitting – Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner – is a treat.  It’s one of those knitting books I will likely read in depth and read again, just as I’ve done with her previous book, Sequence Knitting.  It is color theory and sequencing, art seen through the eyes of a scientist.  As a practical thing, it’s a compendium on putting yarns together.  I show you just a few pages out of this brilliant book to pique your curiosity. It is not a cheap book, but it is worth the cost.

Well, dear readers, be well, stay safe, stay HOME if you can and whatever your points of view, please be assured I wish you health and prosperity. God be with you ’til we meet again+ 

Just a crazy thought born of intense disgust and a lot of other emotions….

Someone in my family, growing tired of the constant, “Where are you from?” question to newspeople during the White House “news” conferences on COVID 19, suggested something and it gave me an idea. What if I started a news magazine called, “Yo Mama?” I could get press credentials… well then you figure out the punch line…. Somehow I doubt I’d get any questions answered, but man, it would be worth it!

Pandemic Diary: A weekend can still be a weekend.

Throughout the week working at home, I would go outside just to prove to myself that there was an outdoors.  I took this picture of this tree outside our home late one night.  Thank goodness, Spring has finally arrived in our corner of the globe  – always a sign of encouragement.

Sleeping was problematic all last week.  I found myself unable to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning and then deciding to stay up to be sure there weren’t any fires to be put out at work, dozing off between meetings and then working late to catch up. That, of course, caught up to me mid-week  –  I finally forced myself to stay up all day and then go to bed at a decent hour.  Yesterday I made it my business to catch up on all my paperwork and, with the help of my son, got my scanner working. I was able to complete what I wanted to do.  There are some other projects I have to do, but the bulk of the paperwork and the time-consuming scanning, saving, and emailing is done. Thanks to daylight savings time, the sun had not set yet, so I took a brief walk out onto the deck. and took some pictures with a bit of color.  That one potted plant of S’s just makes me so happy.

As a result, I awoke today feeling like I actually have a weekend to enjoy.  So far it’s felt like a Saturday, but without the grocery shopping.  One of our daughters is out delivering home-made masks to her sibs and reminding us all of the need to be cautious. Another daughter stopped by with the older two Grandgirls.  We left our exchanges (mine – some things for the kids, hers a box of cookies our eldest Grandgirl baked for us) on the porch, each picking it up at a distance, talked across the yard waved and said our I love you’s and such was our visit.  And yes, I washed my hands, wiped down the cookie box with a paper towel sprayed with disinfectant and posted the sweet note from our granddaughter on the fridge. I have a feeling those cookies will be gone before I have a chance at one – and that’s probably a good thing, given the lack of physical activity lately:)!

And these contributed to that Saturday feeling as well!:) During the week, when I get a knitting or cross-stitch magazine or new project in the mail, I skim it, but don’t really sit down and peruse it.  I save that for the weekends when I have time.

My husband is now on furlough and I have to admit, I’m relieved.  We will have to tighten our belts a bit, but for now, I’m confident we’ll be fine.  I have to laugh; I saw him watching one of those quasi-reality shows about a bunch of guys building something.  I told him, “That’s your equivalent of a knitting show.” We both had a laugh over that.  People gotta make things. Or at least watch others do it;). It’s in our blood. 

I checked in with family members across the country.  So far, everyone is OK, thank God, the Myth, the Universe, coincidence: whatever you want to call Him, Her, It.*

We all have heard, read or listened to the news this week, and I certainly have nothing to add, except that our son, Danny Gavigan, is in the movie Unarmed Man.  It’s on Amazon Prime.

His character is not a very sympathetic one, though the topic – sadly – is a symptom of our times.

Not much new to report on the knitting front – I am working in the occasional few rounds on Sorrel:

I’m fading with the next color every four inches or so, knitting with two strands of fingering weight from the lightest/most vibrant to the darkest color. I just started the second of 7 combinations.  So far the difference is barely discernible and I think that’s a good thing. I see why the fade thing is so popular.  Andrea Mowry and earlier, Laura Bryant, had a brilliant idea: you use up those crazy balls of beautiful yarn you don’t know what to do with; you get to see where the colors lead you – and you keep up your interest in a larger project long enough to finish it. I’d say that’s a win-win:)!

I’ve also been watching a bunch of YouTube vlogs when I want to take a break from the sh!tshow that is the news these days – if only to keep me from yelling at the TV set or needing stronger blood pressure meds.  There are a bunch of new episodes available, so, as soon as the iPad is charged up, I’m taking them into the dining room/home office/law school classroom we’ve sectioned off during the week and will be watching them as I knit on this and maybe some of the other sweaters I am so close to finishing:)! In the words of the immortal Ina Garten, “How bad can that be?”

In the meantime, dear friends, I hope you are all being careful, taking care of yourselves and staying well.

Speaking of fades, I plan on using this for Joji Locatelli’s Fading Point – hopefully, sometime this year!

God be with you ’til we meet again +

*Understanding that some may have certain beliefs and others do not, does not mean I don’t have my own, so please don’t give me flack about saying this – if for no other reason than I won’t respond to it.

Pandemic Diary: Mental

What a highfalutin’ title for such a minor blog, really.  It just sorta sums up how things feel while cooped up in the house. I have often thought throughout my growing up years how very lucky we were and continue to be.  Our older relatives, friends, parents, and grandparents went through so much during the World Wars, the Great Depression, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  People went a little mental then, too – but they also focused on moving forward, survival and getting through it.  In this world where it seems every little emotion is described to the point where we can become insensitized to the most horrible things, I have been telling myself to stop being such a baby, suck it up and get on with it.  And I do, for the most part, I suppose. 

Tonight I read that the Yarn Harlot’s grandbaby Charlotte died after only one day on this earth. My heart goes out to all of her family.  I recently learned a former client of mine was struck by a car while out skateboarding and is fighting to heal in the hospital.  His former foster father is the only one who is able to visit him due to obvious restrictions.

As for COVID 19, so many people in the weeks to come are going to lose people they love to this virus. One hears numbers that are so large they don’t feel real – the mind boggles.

  The sweet lotus on the kitchen window sill that a work friend gave me started budding again. The plants out on the back deck are starting to show color.  Spring is springing. And while those lotus buds hint at new life inside, the lemon tree in the background does the same outside. So much joy and sorrow in the same world, sometimes it’s truly difficult to wrap your mind around it.

Work is taking longer than usual and I am staying up WAY too late knitting and watching TV and trying to avoid the more disturbing news reports when I can.  I finally crashed last night – in other words, I finally went to bed at a decent hour and was able to wake up and get to my desk without a foggy brain this morning. That felt like a habit one should try to encourage in one’s life:). We had a bit of a COVID19 scare with another of our family, but it turned out to be “just” the flu.

 And I made some progress on the Felix Pullover -but it’s at that point where no matter how many rows you knit, it seems never to grow. This picture does give a slightly better view of the raglan “lace.”

 Not much added to the St. Michael’s cross-stitch project.

But OMG I did have an opportunity to purchase the floss for this lovely.  The linen will come a bit later when I have the resources to get it. It’s a huge project, like another one I got a while back. – His Eye on the Sparrow by Heartfelt Samplery. That one as well will need floss and fabric.  And that’s Oh Kay….

I started yet another project.  What is wrong with me? Who knows? But here it is:

The above yarn was picked up at various points in my knitting travels.  Some were going to be parts of various fade shawls.  Some were going to be a sequence knitting shawl, but I think the yarn wants to be this sweater.  Hope the colors work well together.  We shall see:)! The pattern makes use of a lot of purling through the back loop.  My hands were in agony after a few inches of that, so I stopped doing that and so far, it’s OK. 

Well, this blog post has been a bit scrambled.  Sometimes life is.  I have no brilliant insights to share, just my wishes for all of you for health and safety.

God be with you ’til we meet again+

Pandemic Diary: Thankful

Well doesn’t that sound so self- important? I’m sure my experience of this madness is no more interesting than anyone else’s.  In fact, so far, I count myself among the very lucky, in a way.  I say, “in a way,” because one of our family contracted the dreaded virus.  (Following is the “lucky” part.) Thankfully, he is young, in excellent physical shape, and partakes in few to none of the more risky activities of modern life. Not-so-thankfully, the people who rented a room to him via Airbnb summarily threw him out, basically tossing his belongings in boxes after he expressly asked them not to do so. He was also paid up through the end of this month so they owe him some money. I do NOT recommend Airbnb.  You are at the mercy of the homeowners.  Don’t do it. Thankfully, he was able to stay with a friend.  Not-so-thankfully that wore off pretty quickly as they were sharing too-close quarters and his friend also got ill. So, he hunkered down for a couple of nights in a hotel in NYC and then drove home, masked and gloved, to finish his quarantine in another hotel room closer to home.  His sister and her spouse brought him groceries to keep him in decent food for the duration (his hotel room was one of those that had a kitchen in the unit) and when it was over, he came home.  I keep telling family and friends that this is just one person, and one with many supports who, thanks be to God, needed nothing more than to wait it out, drink lots of liquids, get rest, and heal. What happens when two parents with no supports and young children get this?  And let me tell you when our family member got this, we were telling ourselves he’d be fine due to his youth and good health.  Then we heard we shouldn’t have been so sure of that. I am grateful he’s fine, that he left NYC before the major onslaught, that he’s home and that so far no one else has it.

We are by no means out of the woods here in Merlin, either.  When the governor of your state basically commandeers a major Baltimore facility and an adjoining major hotel as field hospitals, it’s a sign that worse things are coming.  We also have extended family members in the medical field: a sister-in-law who is a doc, a niece who is a nurse, my brother’s sister-in-law and our youngest’s mother-in-law. They are operating under the most stressful and, frankly, ridiculous conditions – given the relative wealth in our country. One more VIP in our lives, my DH – AKA “Dad” and “Pop” – is in the hotel industry.  He works the night shift at a hotel downtown.  He is in a group of citizens who are at serious risk should they contract the virus. Due to virtually no business, he was furloughed at 20 percent of his salary.  The money part, so far, we can deal with.  We have some other sources of income and should be able to hunker down and deal with it.  But he has four more nights to work before his 9-week furlough begins. Four more nights to be vulnerable and thereby make the rest of us vulnerable. He doesn’t want to lose the week’s pay that those days afford him  J is old school.  He has always believed in work.  But I tell you one thing: once he’s done those four days, he’s not going back until the danger is over. Thankfully (and I mean thankfully) his company will not penalize him for that. 

Most of the 1.5 of you who read this blog know my political persuasion. I’m not going to say much about the politics of this thing other than two things about which I think most people might agree with me: 1: There should BE NO “politics of this thing.” and 2: The current President had a wonderful opportunity to reunite a country that has been incredibly polarized – much as “W” did shortly after 9/11 – and the current President, sadly, has failed, doing too little too late.  We are all fighting a common enemy; unfortunately, we are also fighting each other – for supplies, resources and assistance. It doesn’t have to be this way.  And BTW, I also am a reader of Norman Vincent Peale.  I understand the President grew up attending his church. There is much to be said for Peale’s inspirational writings. But consider this: positive thinking is NOT magical thinking and knowing the difference between the two can be the difference between life and death. Some believe we are going to go through a time of tribulation in this world. That remains to be seen; however, there is no virtue whatsoever in causing that tribulation. End of rant.  Others have expressed my opinions far better than I have.

Work for the other four of us living at home is either at home or on a reduced schedule.  We who are working at home are still working out strategies for respecting the space, confidentiality, and resources of the others.  Technology and a good internet connection (and a thick dividing curtain between the living room and dining room) have been invaluable.  I am so thankful for that. I am also thankful for a wonderful employer,  wonderful colleagues and the dedicated employees at the Bawlmer County Department of Social Services and the Court system. Work takes approximately three times as long as it did, but I am happy to be able to get something done – and most importantly, I am happy to remain employed, to have something worthwhile to do  – as I am utterly helpless to do anything about this virus.

Now from the serious to the utterly frivolous (we all need a bit of that in our lives, don’t we?

Working at home does not necessarily give me any more time to knit, but I do find myself knitting and cross-stitching more than usual in the evening hours, sometimes staying up far too late.  I think this is a function of the increased anxiety and lack of evening activities in my life.  I am still working on this bit of cross stitch begun ca. 1986:

St. Michael’s Maritime Museum, Barbara Noel, Cadle Creek Cross Stitch. After almost 34 years (with a 30-year hiatus, LOL) you’d think I’d be straining at the bit to get this bad boy done, but knitting has been distracting, too.  I’ve been digging in some deep stash and found this second iteration of Watershed: It went from this:

To this in the course of a few days:

Watershed  by Amy Swenson is a super-cropped vest.  I don’t have the body that lends itself well to super-cropped anything, LOL:). Hence the additional length.  The yarn is Caron Simply Soft Shadows, 100 percent acrylic and currently discontinued.  It’s very close to the finish line now.  I figure a good steam press to “kill” the acrylic and I’ll have something not too shabby to wear with jeans. Definitely not for the workplace.

Another “Creature from the Deep of Stash” is this lovely thing I actually thought I had frogged but hadn’t  – and I had done quite a bit!  I don’t have a picture of where I restarted this, but I’ve made some substantial progress the past four nights:

This cardigan (Fisher Lassie by Bonne Marie Burns) is knit at a relatively small gauge, as one does with guernsey style sweaters.  The stitch patterns are and the almost-peplum styling (perfect for those of us who really don’t have much of a waist to show off) add just enough detail to make for an interesting addition to the wardrobe. Bonne Marie Burns is one of my favorite designers.  I’ve knitted a lot of her designs, many of which I’ve given away as gifts or when my weight changed~:). She combines simple forms with just enough witty details to make them interesting, wearable, and good for a variety of body types. I’m finally about 20 or so rows away from the plain stockinette part of the lower half of the body (see picture).  Then sleeves, collar, and finishing.  If I do the finishing well enough, this could actually be something I’d wear to work. Finding a sweater in deep stash like this is like finding a 50-dollar bill in your pocket!

Another sweater I’m very close to finishing is this:

This photo does not do the Felix Pullover justice.  Unblocked, you cannot see the interesting lace detail at the raglan sleeve edges.  I am about five inches away from finishing the body. After that, it’s sleeves and finishing. I hope to be finished with this one soon, too. The color is much more vibrant turquoise, but the lighting on this cloudy rainy evening is not great.  It’s a beautiful worsted/aran weight yarn repurposed from an aran project begun by a knitting friend who is no longer with us.

Waiting in the wings are the following I am still working on:

I’ve made a little more progress on the Trillium, another sweater that, if done properly, will be a good addition to the work wardrobe.  I am loving this pattern, this yarn – it’s just knitting Nirvana for me. Knitting it in Rowan Felted Tweed, in the Alabaster colorway.

Although the above picture doesn’t show it, I have set aside the sleeve stitches and joined for the body on Jennifer Steingass’ Hinterland.  I’ve set it aside for a while but I am certainly coming back to it very soon. Knit in BC Bio Garn Bio Shetland in Navy and Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool, in their Salty Dog Colorway.

Daffodil awaits correction to the front and finishing of the back.  I am posting this picture because the color is the most accurate.  Knit in Berroco Remix Light in Cameo Pink.
Finally, this incredible sweater was resurrected also from not-so-deep stash.  I believe my progress is a bit more than pictured, but I have a way to go:

The Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan is a project to which I need to pay attention.  The cables and EZ’s own patterning on the front and back are not difficult to read.  However, I will soon be hitting the dividing for armholes and then the saddle shoulders. I’ve seen the video and I think I will watch it again.  It is going to be so much fun to see this project develop.  The yarn is also from SHP – am knitting this in Briggs and Little’s Regal – in the turquoise colorway. 


Well, as one can see, I have enough to keep me busy in the evening hours when worries about the people in my life could otherwise overwhelm.  Tomorrow will be the third canceled Sunday dinner with the kids and grands, but we will connect on Zoom and sing Happy Birthday to our Madison, who turns 20 today.  She was a toddler when I began this blog.:)


God by with you ’til we meet again+

Quarterly Review:) Warning: A LONG Post!

Wow.  A lot has happened since last I posted.  At least it seems like a lot to me. There was Christmas, and New Year’s – both nice and not-so-nice, with a lot of family drama that did not need to happen.  I will spare you that bit because it involves personal information that is not mine to share. Trust me, you’ll be glad I didn’t:)

The above was taken a week ago – it represents the first time (except the layover the day before) I’d been in Dallas, TX since 1960.  Sixty years. I bet it’s changed a lot.  My stay was only long enough to switch airplanes.  I was headed from Little Rock, AR, to BWI Airport back home after I had met with a client who is staying out of state at a residential treatment center.  Kind of a zig zaggy way to go, but what do I know about air transportation? (Zilch)

Some fun stuff: The weekend before the Martin Luther King Holiday, the DH and I went to Vogue Knitting Live! in NYC and had a terrific time. I actually met two teams of my favorite podcasters:

Cady Jax Knits:)! Caitlyn on the left and Jackie on the right:

We must’ve all gotten the red memo that morning:)! I didn’t want to interrupt their lunch, but they were so gracious.  Hugs were exchanged.  Much fan girl gushing on my part and a happy time ensued.  They were so nice:)!

On our last day there, I also happened to see Andrew and Andrea of Fruity Knitting in the lobby as we were waiting to go to lunch:)! I simply smiled and waved at them.  Andrea was busy on her laptop and Andrew, probably more to protect her screen time, came over and met my husband and me. He was delightful and very kind!

If you have a few bucks lying around (I know, who does?) please consider a small – or large, if you can – Patreon donation to these two podcasters.  Two more whom I absolutely adore (among quite a few others) are Amy Beth of  The Fat Squirrel Speaks and Sofia and Dennis Kammeborn of the Kammebornia Podcast (out of Sweden).  Amy Beth’s talent, her humor and her great way of telling about her exploits really brighten up my week.  The Kammeborns are both excellent artists, storytellers, and photographers.  Sofia is a wonderful knitwear designer and Dennis was at one point in the music industry. The photography alone is worth watching; knitting is the icing on the cake:).

I went to four classes, but have yet to attend the fashion show/dinner, despite having gone about four or five times.  Funny story: John (DH) went to a dental appointment about a week later and spoke with the principal dentist in the practice.  It turns out Dr. Z. is an avid knitter and was there as well.  She said the dinner was wonderful and that she really enjoyed it.  Apparently, she does test knitting for some of the designers!  Hmmm, maybe I can talk John into that dinner…. But seriously folks, when your dentist’s a knitter, how can you be nervous?

Our big night out is usually the Saturday of that weekend.  Last year and this, some of our six adult kids pitched in and bought tickets to a Broadway show.  We reciprocate by somehow or other getting reservations at Carmine’s – an INCREDIBLE Italian restaurant in the theater district and only about a block and a half from our hotel.  Carmine’s holds a special place in our hearts – the kids’ grandfather (my dad) and grandmother (Maureen) treated us to Carmines when we visited with them in New York in the mid-90s.  Dad was working at WCBS-FM, an “oldies” station and we took the kids to watch a part of his show.  They got such a kick out of it.  He actually had them on the air for a brief moment. He sent us the tape of it and they were over the moon – even our  (then) “cooler” high schoolers:)!

Anyway, this year we had a delightful dinner and then headed back a block to see Alan Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It was simply wonderful. The end was incredibly moving and an insightful commentary on the world in which we are living today. Ed Harris’ portrayal of Atticus Finch was outstanding. I confess I was still somewhat heartbroken over Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and actually discussed it with another theatergoer during the intermission.  

This year, five of our “kids” were with us: daughters E, S, J, daughter-in-law L, and Dan, who has been staying in NYC these past few months waiting tables and trying to crack into some acting jobs up there. He has one this coming summer: an off-off-Broadway version of The Book of Joseph – for which he played the protagonist at Everyman Theatre here in Merlin.  I am hoping to go see that! Dan had some connections to an understudy working in Mockingbird, so he was able to join us at the theatre! I believe a terrific time was had by all. As John used to say at the end of many a family excursion: “I don’t know about you kids, but I had fun.”

Note: There may have been some yarn acquisitions. (see below)

Oh, BTW, those four classes – all wonderful:

Saturday: 

AM: Brooke Nico: Brioche Tips and Tricks (She was a great sport taking on Nancy Marchant’s class after Nancy got hit with the flu and couldn’t fly to NY)

PM: Amy Detjen: Contiguous Sleeve (Never miss a class with Amy:)!)

Sunday:

AM: Cecelia Campochiaro: Serpentine Method: Sequence Knitting

(OMG She is a MUST SEE at any future such gathering I attend!)

PM: Nancy Lyons: Stop Turning – Knitting, purling, colorwork, backwards and forwards.  She is the quintessential teacher.  You learn more in an hour with her than a semester! She puts her all into it and expects you to do the same – I’d say that was more than a fair trade!

More knitting fun!

As if that were not enough, one month later I was having a blast at a Spring Knitting Retreat at the Blue Mountain Retreat Center in Knoxville, MD.  The Retreat Center is on the Maryland side near the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers, near the top of a hill due East of Fort Duncan. There is a breathtaking view of the river as you come over the crest of a hill near Sandy Hook as you get onto Harper’s Ferry Road. Basically, you’re in spitting distance of MD, WV, and VA … and their yarn shops:)!

We went to WV and VA yarn shopping on Saturday – Two Rivers Yarn in Purcellville, VA, and Yarnability in Charles Town, WV. I got yarn for which I promptly cast on two more projects because – you know –  I don’t have enough knitting to do (mwahaha…).  

If you’re looking for some really really tasty coffee, just a couple of blocks up the street from Yarnability is a coffee shop called Sibling Coffee Roasters. OMG, I swear they put crack cocaine in their coffee it is so good (not that I know what crack tastes like! I get into enough trouble with red wine!). I promptly got a pound to take home to the DH.  He enjoyed it too. They will fill internet orders too, so if you want to try something that puts even Starbucks to shame, give them a try:)!

Current events:

This year I decided to pare down my active knitting projects on Ravelry to 40 – LOL I know right? Pare down? But it was getting really bad. I have kept things I’ve put into kits or I’m on the fence about into hibernation.  At least it’s not as overwhelming when I think about what I want to work on any given day.

Right now, I’m working on three sweater projects – let’s call them the “Holey” Trinity:

This bag holds my Hinterland Pullover by Jennifer Steingass. I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it in an email from Spincycle Yarns.  I ordered the contrast color – already had a sweater’s worth of navy fingering in stash – and as soon as I could order the pattern we were off to the races!

FINALLY! Am just barely past the separation of the arms and body:

It’s in fingering weight and it is taking forever and I. don’t. care. I love it.

The next sweater I’m working on is a cardigan.  It’s stored in this (remember when The Twist Collective had knitting bags?):

Yes, those are drums – I shall explain later.

I’ve wanted to knit this cardigan for years, ever since I got the pattern from Brooklyn Tweed:

Trillium just needed the right yarn. Inspired by Nicole DuPuis of The Gentle Knitter Podcast, I thought a nice light, tweedy yarn would do the trick.  Trillium, meet Rowan Felted Tweed.  Rowan Felted Tweed, meet Trillium by the brilliant Michele Wang.  This was a VKLive purchase and well worth it!

I love how the sweater is created by knitting the sleeves first with a really cool rib pattern, then bottom up to the armholes, joining the sleeves, then knitting a beautiful lace pattern in the yoke – saving all the fun for last and precious little finishing to do – my favorite!

Last but by far not the least of this trio is made from yarn already in my stash, inherited from a dear departed friend.  It had been a beautiful cabled project that was going to be too small, so I frogged it directly into balls of yarn. It hurt my heart to do it, but I knew it would never be something otherwise and I don’t believe in wasting yarn – hopefully, some of the wonderful creativity that was poured into this yarn by Annece will help in the making of this sweater, another pullover.  I have it stashed in this pretty bag:

The yarn is beyond gorgeous: a mixture of jewel-toned turquoise, fuchsia and others I can’t put my finger on. The sweater? Felix by Amy Christoffers.  It’s a simple pullover, with just a bit of minimal lace at the raglan shaping to keep it interesting.  The yarn, having gone directly from a highly cabled piece to this one, is a bit lumpy-bumpy; even so, I like it. Am past the division between sleeves and body and am using this project as my more social/tv watching knitting – just knit knit knit ad nauseum – or ad delirium if that’s what toots your horn.

Both Felix and Hinterland are at that “knitting ’til you can’t stand it anymore” stage – and that’s Oh Kay – though I think I’ll finish up Felix sooner than later, just because it’s worsted weight, fewer stitches and will move along faster giving me that instant gratification thing we humans crave.  Both will be enormously satisfying to finish. This weekend, however, I think I will be spending the majority of my knitting time getting that second sleeve finished on the Trillium – so that all three sweaters will be at the boring phase at the same time.  I can then work on each of them one at a time. It’s not exactly Banging Out a Sweater as the women at Mason Dixon Knitting would have you do in February, but it works for me.  Speaking of them, in two weeks they will be starting yet another March Madness – a great recap of the beloved patterns of 2019! Cannot wait!

Non-Knitting:

Every year in January for the past 6 or so years, I’ve gotten an email asking about rehearsals for St. Pete’s annual Mardi Gras celebration.  Before then, they had a jazz band whose drummer was a real pro.  With the exception of one year when I just couldn’t do it, the poor darlings had me instead. Luckily, my musical shortcomings are deftly hidden by the talents of the other five members of Les Clefs de La Musique – The Keys of Magic – with apologies to the French-speaking among you. We play mostly Dixieland and pop music pieces, with one brief nod to rock ‘n roll with a rather vanilla rendition of “Downtown.” The adults and the little kids get up and dance to the Charleston, Five Foot Two, The Girl from Ipanema (Love messing up that Bossa Nova beat), and other types of music, ranging from Matilda to St. James Infirmary -which for some strange reason reminds me of that scene in A League of Their Own when the Marla Hooch character (played by Megan Cavanagh) sings “It Had to Be You” in a drunken off-pitch contralto voice to her intended. Don’t ask me why, LOL!

The pics above are from our most recent Mardi Gras extravaganza this past week.  I don’t remember having more fun.  I brought some extra drum sticks and at intermission (and inadvertently during one of our sets, LOL:)) let some of the little guys bang on the drums.  They got such a kick out of it and so did I.  I like to think the young person who owned the drums before I very gratefully got them is getting a kick out of it where he is as well:) It was a record crowd this year, but the happy intimacy of the congregation wasn’t lost. It’s funny, every year, I kind of dread this – not for the music or even the rehearsals, which are also a lot of fun – but for the physical work needed for lugging around a set of drums.  After all, I’m not getting any younger.  But every year, I get what I need in help and energy.  And I’m grateful.

Well, dear 1.5 readers, I’ve bent your patient ear enough.  Until next time,

God be with you ’til we meet again+

Christmas Eve Cast-on – Is that really a thing?

This is the picture I have been keeping in my head as I go through my holiday knitting this year – and there is precious little time for that, what with work.  Not that I don’t sneak a few hours in here and there once the workday is over. More about this later.

This year, we’re not doing a whole lot.  We didn’t send out cards, though we love receiving them – every year we are blessed to receive cards from family and friends and we cherish each and every one of them. In fact, as family sends out picture cards, we hang them up on a special board and those pictures stay up all year ’round!  This year sending our own just got away from us. 

This corner of the den is where we have our little Christmas tree.  In past years, we’d alternate between a large fake tree and a real one.  Over time, the real trees seemed wasteful and given what we’ve seen in the news in recent years, downright dangerous. I like this little tree.  It’s just the right size and little people don’t run into it, LOL:)

Because three of our adult children are residing with us this year, their preparations for the holidays have been a delight to see.  Packages are arriving from various locations throughout the week – and I confess to having one or two on the way for the DH.  Though John and I are believers, albeit of different denominations, most of our six adult children would tell you, if asked, that they generally range in the agnostic/atheist point of view.  A couple of them have some sort of religious faith, but for the most part, Christmas is not a particularly religious holiday for them. That being said, in many ways they keep the holiday traditions in a way that is meaningful for them.  They give to others less fortunate, they give and share with their siblings and friends.  They have big hearts and they express this in the way they care for members of their community.  So, as I have often said, despite my best efforts, they have turned out well and I am proud of each and every one of them. Christmas, different in meaning for each of us, remains a family tradition and one which I am hopeful we all still enjoy.

I’m hoping to sing with the St. Pete’s choir this Christmas Eve for the late service though I’ve missed several practices for a variety of reasons. This would get me home in time to enjoy an hour or two before bed just relaxing with a glass of red and my knitting.   I’ve been following a lot of the knitting podcasts on YouTube (I know, I know, such an exciting life I lead -but hey, it’s a nice break from the news cycle!!).  A good number of the “regulars” I watch are doing something called “Vlogmas” where they do shorter podcasts every day from Nov. 30 through Christmas, basically giving a glimpse into their daily activities.  Needless to say, I have never done anything like that for two reasons: (1) about 50 percent of my day is not available to the public for reasons of confidentiality and (2) I have the proverbial perfect face for radio…  As a result, I really admire the work of these podcasters.  Paula Emmons-Fuessle, who hosts the Knitting Pipeline podcast, once told me that producing an hour-long podcast per week takes a good eight hours to accomplish.  The time and effort to do even a 10-minute podcast daily must be quite an energy drain! And hey, speaking of dear Paula, who is Prairie Piper on Ravelry, please send a few good vibes/thoughts/prayers her way.  She’s had a recurrence of ovarian cancer that plagued her throughout this year and she’s participating in a new treatment protocol. If you are so moved, contributions to her doctor’s study would be wonderful, too! I am a great admirer of Paula – she is such a kind and decent human being with an indomitable spirit!

Anyway, Vlogmas… One thing I’ve noticed is that some knitters who celebrate Christmas tend to do something called a Christmas Eve cast-on. Hence the picture at the top of this post.  I was thinking I’d knit a pair of self-striping knee socks.  Cloverhill Yarns in Catonsville, MD is having a really great sale on Opal sock yarns from the German Zwerger Yarn Company. 45% off – could not resist.  I saw the two skeins above and thought they’d make great Christmas socks and therefore a wonderful Christmas Eve cast-on. 

Do any of you knitters out there do a Christmas Eve cast-on? If so, what kind of projects do you start? For my friends of the Jewish faith, do you do something similar for the evenings of the Eight Days of Hanukkah? Looks like it’s late this year:)!

Back soon I hope.  God be with you ’til we meet again+

WONDERFUL

I have been doing so much knitting.  And working.  And getting precious little finished.  And that’s ok. I should be at choir practice this evening, but after eating dinner, my silly old guts got stupid on me and I figured I’d better stay close to home.  ‘Nuff said.  Right now it’s what’s euphemistically referred to as The Holiday Season here in the US of A – and other “western countries.” For me, that means Georg Friedrich Handel’s Messiah.  Handel used to have two dots over the “a” in his name (that’s what they call an umlaut – pron. “oomlowt” in Germany).  He indeed had been German, but upon his arrival at the court of King George III of England, he soon dropped the umlaut and embraced his status as an English composer. Messiah is a classic example of Baroque music, with its word painting (Wortmalerei), sequences, virtuosity, and encouragement of bel canto improvisation.  In other words, my heart:).

I usually start playing Messiah as soon as Thanksgiving is over, but for some reason this year I started early this morning – already two weeks later. I know most of it by heart, having sung so many of the choruses and listened to it year after year.  I have sung alto, soprano and even on occasion, tenor parts.  I just love this piece of music.  For the past seven years or so, I’ve played tympani to its Halleluja Chorus.  It’s probably my absolute favorite – and yes, I hear the eyes of “real” musicians rolllllling  and I. don’t. CARE!

One of my favorite performances is that of the Concert Artists of Baltimore.  I bought the CD and will be playing it in the car as I drive to work/drive to and from visits and, well, drive.

New on Naxos: Handel Messiah

George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
Messiah
(Watkins Shaw Edition)

Jennifer O’Loughlin, Soprano
Diana Moore, Alto
Nicholas Phan, Tenor
Sidney Outlaw, Bass
Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphony Chorale
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Edward Polochick

Of all English oratorios Handel’s Messiah has always been the most overwhelmingly popular. It is the least theatrical of his oratorios and the most purely sacred in its choice of subject matter. The vivid choral writing – there are more choruses in Messiah than in any other Handel oratorio – coupled with the expressive density of the solo arias, have ensured its status as one of the greatest choral masterpieces in the Western canon.

This particular version/interpretation by Eddie Polochick is genius.  It just is.  Trust me. Back in the days when I had more teeth  bone/voice in my face, I sang with the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, which Ed conducted.  It was the single most challenging musical experience of my life.  I loved every single minute of it, difficult or no. And… it was 35 years ago. I was 30.  My youngest was 30 days old the day I auditioned.  When I got pregnant with No. 6, I was too queasy to sing and had to quit. My youngest is 33.  It’s been a while:). 

Since then, a dear friend of mine from the St. J’s choir (of my previous church) along with some of the stars of the Symphony Chorus, sang with CAB (and you should know, we sang in the Symphony Chorus together in 1984-85 before we even knew each other:)!).  She very kindly offered those of us who were interested, discounted tickets.  I actually rode into Baltimore with her and was privileged to see their rehearsal before the performance.  What joy!

Much of Messiah comes from the Book of Isaiah – one of the Old Testament Prophets.  One of the choruses is “For Unto Us a Child is Born.” It is about the birth of Christ (in case you didn’t notice).  And it joyfully signals the Christian feast, celebrated among us goyim, as Christmas.  Some of the words are, “Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” And here I must stop for a brief detour in the story….

About 54 years ago, a family moved into the house that had finally been built next door to us.  They couldn’t have been more different from us – children of modernity: agnostics, atheists, and a believer or two of Christianity and Judaism to add to the mix.  The eldest child was a Dominican nun, fer Chrissakes! The mother had recently been widowed; she and her husband had nine children, seven of whom were still living at home.  The eldest two were the aforementioned nun, and a married daughter who lived, not surprisingly, with her husband.  There were two girls, one older and one younger than I by a year.  I knew we’d be friends and I was so grateful to have two friends nearby to hang out with.  There was this older boy – their brother, John (spoiler alert, he and I are now married 43 years already, with six kids, five grandkids and no one has shot anyone … yet.), but he wasn’t even in my 12-year-old radar at that point (Now, my sister Laura… that was another story, LOL).  Anyway, the younger of the two sisters was a girl named Lori.  Lori (her first name was actually Julia, but she was called by a diminutive of her middle name, Lorraine, by those who were In.The.Know.)

Lori was a sweet person with an incredible sense of humor.  As time went on, it became apparent that she had a real talent for putting words together.  Her writing was incredibly good.  By the time she was getting ready to graduate high school, she was on her way to Malloy College on Long Island (officially known as Malloy Catholic College for Women, just so’s ya know).  She had this really sweet voice, almost identical to that of her oldest sister, “GG” by now no longer a nun, but living as a layperson, released from her vows.  We liked GG both with and without them.

Less than two weeks after her high school graduation, we stopped hearing that pretty voice.  She was in an auto accident, permanently disabled, unable to really speak above a whisper, unable to walk, unable to even really eat or drink on her own.  It wasn’t until two years after we almost lost her that we realized she had a MIND behind those disabilities.  Her youngest sister, Kate, then 12, was talking with her, asking her about her spelling homework.  Lori blinked at the correct letters! We realized she was THERE! Now, her mother (the lady who was to become my indomitable mother-in-law and someone I always admired) knew this, but had had no proof and was (infuriatingly) poo-pooed by the doctors as being too hopeful.  The doctors were, of course, wrong (I cannot tell you how happy I am typing that sentence!)

For years afterward, Lori and I would talk together whenever I went to visit.  Being the smartass I am, I’d ask if it was a vowel or a consonant and then go through the corresponding part of the alphabet.  It was a frustrating exercise for Lori but my goodness, she composed some of the most beautiful prose I ever read or heard! When we got together for Thanksgiving dinner, it was Lori who composed the prayer we all prayed.  And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Lori never remembered the accident and she was honest when she told me there were times she wished she could just die, but that changed over time.  She was grateful for her life.  And she dearly loved God  – and each and every one of us – and we loved her.  Her sense of humor was legendary.  I will never forget a friend of John’s mom, sitting in Lori’s room during the wedding of her older sister Holli, just crying.  Lori laughed as her brother Jim, distracting her from this distressing situation,  teased her about (of all things) her urine collection bag. (God bless him:)). She got dirty jokes as well as any of us.  And we often promised to load her feeding tube with vodka when the nurses’ backs were turned.  I like to think someone did that at least once.:)

When John and I got married in Vermont, six hours away, Lori couldn’t make it.  But she caught the bouquet.  We made sure her Mom took it home to her. No one else was getting my wedding bouquet!  Lori was our only son, Danny’s, godmother.  I like to think her prayers for him have saved him from many a scrape.  

Over time, Lori would learn to say a few words, breathlessly.  One of her most frequent words was “Wonderful.” Or as we New Yawkas would say, “Wondahfull” Whenever a new grandbaby was placed in her arms for a cuddle, when a loved one who had been away for a while returned home, when someone did well, Lori would say “Wonderful.” And you knew it was good.

In November 1997, John’s Mom died.  It was only a bit less than six months later, that Lori died, the victim of failures of parenteral nutrition and dehydration.  I miss her to this day, this wonderful friend and dear sister-in-law.

Today, I was listening to Messiah and the strains of  “For Unto Us a Child is Born” were filling my car as I drove to the home of an infant client’s grandmother for a visit. When the words, “Wonderful, Counselor…..” came to my consciousness, I could hear Lori whisper her barely audible “Wondahfull” and the tears started flowing.

Amen. Truly wonderful, my dear friend in Heaven.

God be with you ’til we meet again+