Overslept Sunday

Church was at 9 a.m. Choir was supposed to be practicing by 8:30 (quietly and crowdedly) in the Music Director’s office WITH the children’s choir. Yeah.  No. Not because I didn’t want to, but because yet again, I fell asleep at some ungodly (pardon the pun) hour and grossly overslept.  Like two hours overslept. Sorry, Nancy. I must still be detoxing recovering from last weekend and the crazy week I had afterward.

I didn’t have much more work last week than I normally do.  True, we had a long day of settlement negotiations on Tuesday, but the rest of the week was fairly normal.  My sleep patterns were just terrible. By the time I’d get home in the evening, I’d be feeling downright sick to the point of a  fever, would fall asleep in front of the boob tube, and then wake up hours before dawn, unable to go back to sleep. Something had to give. I finally did get 8 hours of good sleep but at the expense of letting my fellow choir members down yet again. Hopefully, I am back on track now. 

Well, you didn’t tune in to hear that big bunch of boring.

About the photos above and left: one of the knitters on retreat last weekend had very cool  DPNs.  Blackthorn double pointed needles (DPNs) were one of the first, if not THE first, DPNs produced with carbonite fibers. Backing up, breakage is one of the issues with DPNs of the type used in knitting socks on very fine yarns.  You want a very thin needle because you want your fabric to have the density necessary for a warm pair of socks.  This, in turn, means you are putting more pressure than usual on the needles.  Most DPNs are made of either metal (which is very slippery) or wood (which is not but tends to break). Carbonite fibers combined with wood or similar material creates a lovely compromise.  Blackthorn DPNs are known for being “grabby” which prevents the needles from slipping through the loops.  Unfortunately, these are hard to find, as the owner of the company has stopped production. WEBS (yarn.com) has a few of them, but they are on backorder. WEBS also sells Carbonz, made of similar materials, for DPNs and circulars.

I was able to find a Blackthorn DPN case on Etsy for a not-so-bad price and promptly got it, knowing it would be just the empty case, but hoping to use it for my other DPNs.  Imagine my delight when I saw the seller had included the cute little needle gauge:)!

I have KnitPicks DPNs made of wood – some of which sadly have already broken – and many of those are in use right now.  I decided to continue to keep those in their original plastic case, which is quite nice and fits just about anywhere. It is nice to have a place to store my Carbonz and other DPNs for sock and sweater knitting.

On the knitting front, I haven’t added much to the green striped socks since my last post, but I have made a bit of progress on the Nordic Cowl.  The patterning on each row is not hard to remember. In fact, it’s addictive. The yarn is from Sugarloaf Alpaca Farm – purchased at our annual Retreat at the Claggett Center in Adamstown, MD about three years ago. It is both soft and strong. You almost feel like you are knitting with soft string.  It was a bear to wind, having been skeined rather haphazardly, so I wound it by hand but worth the effort.  Because I had bought the amounts I had (2 skeins of cream, one of olive, one of light blue) I decided to do Chart A in olive and cream and Chart B (the “negative” of Chart A) in light blue and cream.  It’s an interesting pattern.  Right now it looks like a cowl for a giraffe, but that row of purling will be a turning round to help fold the blue and white section to the inside or the outside.  It will be a reversible cowl.  

Not much progress on the Truckbeth Carbeth, probably because I am about to start the sleeves and am procrastinating/have other work to do.

 

Friday and yesterday I met played Ring Around the Beltway and met with five different clients.  On my way home I stopped by a local yarn shop that has decided to close up shop in April.  Everything in the store was 20 percent off. I was torn between going there or supporting the remaining LYS in the area. Ultimately, I went there, because I had another stop on my way home in that direction. I was drawn to these two beauties:

The color – or lack thereof – was perfect and boy is this stuff soft!  It’s Juniper Moon Herriott Fine – a light fingering weight yarn – about 900 yards of it – out of alpaca and nylon/polyamide. I set about looking for a pattern for it as soon as I got home.  I decided on Jared Flood’s Kelpie. It’s a simple, yet elegant garter stitch half-hap type of shawl, using small amounts of contrast colors in a feather and fan edge.  I have more than enough yardage here and the neutral/natural yarn will provide an excellent backdrop to the bits of color at the edge. I’ve already put it together in hopes of casting on soon.  Am planning on finishing the Nordic Cowl and putting a dent into the green striped socks and the two sweaters I’m working on first. But it is nice to have it waiting for me, already “kitted” up. I decided to use size 5 circs instead of the size 6 called for in the pattern because I tend to knit just a smidge on the loose side.The other yarns are leftover skeins of Cascade 220 fingering weight wool.


It’s time for me to get back to my regularly scheduled life, so I will leave you to the “hap”py contemplation of the above picture. 😉

Until next time, God be with you ’til we meet again+

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Shhhh it’s early…..

I woke up this morning before dawn.  Who knows why.  I am already tired, LOL, but have to get ready for work in a few minutes.  I thought I’d post a little update.  

The spring get-together at the Blue Mountain Retreat Center was wonderful.  I had such a great time with a terrific bunch of fellow knitters:)! It was nice to get away to knit, catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s lives and knit.  Unlike the Fall Retreat, which is organized by the Columbia Sip ‘n Knit group, this is just a casual weekend where we all pay a share of the costs, and contribute to meals, snacks, etc.  The owner is so nice.  You can see a picture of her in the collage in my previous post – she’s the one standing by her car (and dog).  We’ve already booked next year!

One thing I did this time that I usually do not do was to bring a few older unfinished WIPs to decide whether to frog or continue.  I made one scarf project into a cowl and called it done, frogged another and decided that a project I wasn’t too sure about was actually even better looking in person than in its picture, so I’m going to have to “resurrect” it on Ravelry:).

As soon as we all had breakfast on Monday, we chatted for a bit, then cleaned up the kitchen, packed up and each of us went on our way.  On my way home, work beckoned, sort of.  I visited a client who lives halfway between the retreat center and my home. I needed to interview his foster mom who might be testifying in a trial scheduled for the next day. Once done with that, I was home – and the DH took me out to dinner (YAY).  

Next day was spent laboriously trying to settle what had been scheduled as a two-day trial.  Thankfully, the settlement efforts were successful.  It was a TPR – termination of parental rights – and those are never nice when they go to trial.  So grateful! Unfortunately, I felt ill when I got home (not as a result of the dinner, had been feverish all day) and missed bell practice. Not so good.

Yesterday was spent scheduling client visits for the rest of the week and getting ready for the two remaining docket days.   

So, of course, I’m all organized and ready to go (NOT).

On the knitting front (how do you like that segue?), I am focusing on four of my (mumblety mumblety) projects.

The Truckbeth Carbeth by Kate Davies is moving along.  It may not seem like it in this picture, but I hit 15 1/2 inches and decided to call it long enough to cover the tummy. I am about to begin the sleeves – more “slogging through” more than “banging out,” but that’s OK.  It’s good to have a break now and then.

And that break comes by way of the Bright Sweater by Junko Okamoto.  I actually made a bit of progress over the weekend.  Am still at the side decreases, and about 10 rows away from the short rows.

Over the years, from time to time, I have bought or otherwise picked up (at yarn swaps, for instance) sock yarn.  This year, I am trying to get a few pair done.  So far, since Christmas, I finished a pair for my son, D, my daughter, S, and for myself.  Not too shabby.  I also started this pair (not yet put on Ravelry!).  The yarn is Austermann Step – it’s self-striping superwash wool in lovely greens.  I think I’m keeping this pair, too. We’ll see;)…..

Finally, there’s this little beauty, the Nordic Cowl by Wendy D. Johnson.  Don’t you love it when you pick up an unfinished project and you realize you are further along than you thought?  I am only about 10 rows away from beginning the second chart and therefore the second half of the project! Kewl! This pattern is very easy to follow and a great way for anyone who wants to start colorwork. Hopefully, I can finish this soon.

In other news, I committed to start the Bible Challenge – where you read the entire Bible in the course of a year. I’m already a bit behind!

Well, gotta go!

God be with you ’til we meet again.

RETREAT!!!!!

 

Out in a spot in western Maryland, about a half mile away from where the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers meet at the intersection of Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia, on top of a hill, nestled in the woods, is a little retreat center called the Blue Mountain Retreat Center. Groups of many kinds come

 

here, quilters, weavers, seekers of truth and…. yep knitters:). Owned by a lady named Beth Ehrhardt, a massage therapist, among other things,  the retreat center boasts comfort, cleanliness, one home-cooked meal served during the weekend, a spacious kitchen and gathering place, and WiFi. The surrounding woods are beautiful, and despite this weekend’s inch or so of snow, provides ample opportunity for a walk.

I brought a lot of projects along. Long-neglected WIPs (works in progress for you non-knitters
out there), and a number of current ones I’ve been slogging away on (can you see a Carbeth in the future?). Before I left for this retreat, while taking a break from getting ready for a trial next week, and by extension, taking a break from the Carbeth, I finished that pair of self-striping socks. In fact, as I sit here typing this, I am wearing them (well Hell’s bells, I’m not wearing those to work!).

We have had a great deal of fun, drinking far too much red (speaking for myself) yet getting up early to continue to work on our many projects. There has been WiFi, but no television, though a few of us occasionally check the weather and Olympic results on our cell phones, shouting out the latest win/chance of snowfall to the others.

It’s become a twice-a-year thing for me, getting together with my knitting buddies. And giving the Husband a break from me, LOL! I don’t have a lot of chances to get together with them during the week, though I come away from these things determined to do make more time. We catch up, laugh, share ideas, show new projects, tools, sometimes spend too much money, and generally have a really nice time:). They are all very nice people and to a person, each has a story to tell that is fascinating – at least to me.

You are out of your mind if you think I’m telling any of them. What happens at Knitting Retreat stays at Knitting Retreat! Well, I’m cutting into way too much knitting time, and tomorrow I’m back to work. Yes, it’s a holiday weekend, but I gotta get ready for work.

Outta here…. God be with you ‘til we meet again;)+

Banging out a Carbeth… or was it Slogging through a Truckbeth?

I have missed a wee bit of time on the Carbeth.  One needs to earn a living, you know.   After swatching and figuring out which size to make (not as easy as it might seem), I finally got started. Progress has not been as swift as I would like, mostly because knitting with thick yarn and fat needles can be tough on the hands (I am knitting with two strands of worsted weight doubled on size US 10 1/2 needles – not my usual). Nevertheless, I have made some progress.

From here:

to here:

and  now here:

I’m hitting a sort of cadence.  And though it is slower going than usual, each stitch rewards you with a lot more than you would get knitting fingering weight on size 3’s.  The top photo was shot during daylight; therefore the color is more accurate.

Random thoughts: By encouraging knitters to “bang out” a sweater in a shorter period of time than usual, MDK encourages a practice foreign to so many of us process knitters: being monogamous. (Note: this is a problem for me in terms of KNITTING only!) For me, Defense Exhibit #1 is the (mumblety-mumblety) number of projects I have on Ravelry.

Now, this is not a new experience for me, exactly.  I have completed a number of projects where I was knitting for someone else on a deadline – but this time it’s for me and I have to admit, it’s kinda fun.

I have set aside a few projects. A couple pair of socks – for which I have already made inroads into sock no. 2:

And a few thousand other sweaters, some of which are also close to the armpits finishing.

And that’s Oh Kay.

On the personal front, not too terribly much new going on.  Work continues for us all, thank goodness:)! The weather has gone from spring to arctic and flu season is among us (just call me Suzy Sunshine).

I did have a lovely time this past Saturday evening catching up with friends from high school.  A group of about a dozen of us from my high school (Oyster Bay, NY) discovered about 20 years ago that we all live within about an hour’s drive of each other, so every six months to a year or so, after a number of email prompts from one of us (usually always PH) we get together for a potluck dinner of sorts – usually at one of our homes. We catch up, on life in general, talk politics and just about everything else into the night, hug and go our respective ways home.  John and I grew up in the same town, though he went to the local parochial (Catholic) school (St. Dom’s) and I went to public school, so he knows a number of my friends. Unfortunately, he usually works Saturday nights, so he has only been to one of these – the one we hosted, LOL:)! I think this means I’m going to do the next one – it’s about time!

Our first get-together was almost 20 years ago in December of 1998 at a restaurant near Union Station in DC.  Our kids ranged from babies to college-aged (that would be mine – I started the earliest, LOL). The topics of discussion were about our careers, our kids (if we had any) and life in the DC-MD-VA area.  20 years later, we were talking about grandkids, adult kids with autism, Social Security, retirement/second careers and, sadly, the death of an ex-spouse. It’s been a privilege to share snapshots of life with each and every one of them.

VK Live

In my last post, I mentioned having gone to Vogue Knitting Live during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.  John and I usually go to NYC on that weekend – it started a number of years back when our kids had grown and he had gotten a company benefit that allowed a free weekend per year at a hotel run by the hotel chain for which he works.  It became more frequent when he hit the 25-year mark at the company and became eligible for even more free hotel nights. I have to laugh – parking cost us more than the hotel room!

Anyway, I think this is the second time I’ve gone.  Each year I have taken a class or two and a lecture by a Famous Knitting Personage.  Last year I was treated to a very interesting presentation by Norah Gaughan.  This year (wait for it!!)I actually saw Meg Swansen!!! She did a presentation on the Baby Surprise Jacket designed by her mother, Elizabeth Zimmermann – and other items of children’s clothing designed by her, her mother and her son, Cully. There was a Q & A session.  Meg was so delightful.  I didn’t take pictures of anyone because I have a thing about invading people’s privacy.  Many others did, though, and she automatically smiled for each and every one of them.  She’s what we New Yawkas call “a class act.”

I also took two classes hosted by the inimitable – and incredibly funny – Amy Detjen. Why just one teacher?  Because Amy works at Schoolhouse Press’ Knitting Camp – this summer in its 45th year I believe – begun by Elizabeth Zimmermann and continued by Meg Swansen.  If I am realistic, my chances of attending Knitting Camp are fairly slim, though I am not giving up on the idea. That being said, I figure the closest I can get to Knitting Camp in the meantime is to attend lectures by Meg and classes by Amy. There are many other knitting professionals who teach very well.  I just happen to enjoy Amy’s style.  She’s very laid back, but she really knows her stuff.  I have been knitting for about 54 years now (and boy are my hands tired … sorry), yet I learned two new skills that weekend: i-cord glove fingers and knitting AND purling backward.

Knitting/Purling backward may not sound like a big deal, but imagine how nice it would be to knit entrelac without constantly having to flip your knitting around and around – or knitting colorwork flat, keeping the “right side” always in front of you.

As for i-cord glove fingers  – I have NEVER knit a pair of gloves and now I feel I can – it’s a goal for this knitting year.

Besides the classes, there was the Marketplace (of course) where I bought no yarn (WHATTTT???). I know. But I did buy three books:

I supplemented my Meg/EZ library with one of their latest: The Complete Surprise.  I wasn’t going to attend Meg’s presentation and not pick up their book! I got the newly revised Vogue Knitting book – an update on the one from 2002 or thereabouts and about twice as thick! Finally, I was able to purchase a copy of Alice Starmore’s latest epic work of art: Glamourie, weeks ahead of time! More about that in future posts.

Well, that’s all I have for today.  Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, stay warm these dreary bleak mid-winter days and enjoy your knitting.

‘Til next time,

God be with you ’til we meet again+

Well It’s About Time!

Sure took me long enough! Yep – it’s been almost four months.  I am writing this on a work break; in about an hour or so, I will start my late-afternoon, early evening round of client visits, then with any luck to the knitting meetup I have been notoriously awful about attending. I thought I’d start this post with something non-knitting-related and a fairly unusual sight around here, though not the first I’ve seen – a black squirrel.  He scared off the birds and decided to chow down on some of the nuts our daughter, S, put out for them. The squirrels and the birds provide no end of entertainment when I’m working at this desk from home. Pardon the quality of the photo – I didn’t want to startle him, so I sat zoomed in from my phone’s camera. And of course, the best shot of him was through the screen, LOL:)!He is a beauty, though.

Well my goodness, what’s been going on these past almost four months? Quite a bit of knitting, I can tell you – and a lot of work – and The Holidays:).  So to catch up,  At the end of October, I went to the Columbia SipnKnit’s annual Fall retreat at The Claggett Center in Western Merlin.  As always, I had a wonderful time and met two lovely ladies – Gabriella and Susan – in addition to spending great quality time with the other regulars:).

Thanksgiving was a crazy day of cooking, ably aided by a number of the progeny bringing their own specialties – and pies galore by the aforesaid S who bakes like an expert.

Christmas had its ups and downs, marked by what I jokingly dub the “Christmas Eve Marathon” at church – two services, playing bells, tympani, tambourine (don’t ask) and singing in the choir. By 12:30 when I finally creak open the front door, I am usually tired, thirsty, and have no voice left. Our Fearless Leader, Nancy, the incredibly talented and

very well-educated Organist/Choirmaster/Music Director, engages the talents of a professional brass quintet to play their own set of carols and to accompany us in some of the bigger “Cecil B. Demille” musical moments of the services.

With all that, my absolute favorite moment remains the post-Communion singing of “Silent Night,” the last stanza of which the church lights are dimmed to just a few plus the candles in the windows, the organ drops out, and the entire congregation is singing in four-part harmony. Goosebumps:)

Christmas Day was a bit unusual.  Due to the need for the youngest of the grandkids to spend time in two households, we had dinner in two shifts and that actually worked out quite well:).  One of the gang couldn’t make it for personal reasons and that was hard but understandable.

For the first time in I don’t know how many years, the DH was off work on New Year’s Eve.  A hotelman rarely has New Year’s Eve off, but this year it worked out.  So what wild and crazy stuff did we do? Stayed home and watched it all on TV. As our son once said, “A Wise Choice.”

Knitting – oh boy, there’s a lot.  I recently went through all my Ravelry projects and realized there are 77 mumblety-mumblety of them.  Yep. I know. A number of them are on the Finish or Frog List – get it done in the next few months, modify it (i.e. make the scarf into a cowl and call it done), or frog it and put it out of its misery.  There are also a few that I really haven’t started yet. I put them into “kits” with yarn, needles, etc. with the idea of starting the new

project when I have one or two others done/have the urge to start something new, etc. There are some I have barely started.  I’d like to say the “not yet started” and the “barely started” projects are the majority, but I’d be lying. The good news is a lot of them are small projects or are fairly close to finishing.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I do not look like this.

So, of course, I had to join a new KAL.

Mason-Dixon Knitting is sponsoring a Carbeth KAL. No, I do not need a cropped sweater.  (I hate to see a grown man cry.) I am a huge fan of Mary Jane Mucklestone, I love Fair Isle, I have a thing for yoke sweaters, but when they sponsored “Bang out a Stopover,” I did not succumb in 2016.  I have admired Veronik Avery since I knitted her “Veste Everest” way back in 2005. I loved her designs in St-Denis in 2010 and have purchased her books and patterns. But did I join in when MDK suggested that perhaps one might wish to “Bang out a Hadley” in 2017?  No, I tell you, I did not.

And I regretted it each and every time.

So this year, I will be starting a Carbeth and finishing it ASAP, with about forty or so extra rounds to bring the bottom edge down to where it should be on a chubby old lady;). This sweater is very unusual.I believe it has potential even for someone like me. (Though I have to confess I am tempted to call mine a “Truckbeth.”)

I did not add a project…. technically.  I substituted one by using the yarn meant for that project to become this one.  I won’t name any names.

I am a mess.

I have also added a great deal to my knitting book collection and oh, let me not forget my trip to NYC and Vogue Knitting Live a few weeks ago:)! More on those in my next blog post!

God be with you ’til we meet again:)+