I heard a rumor that Spring is coming.

Or so they say:).  I am doing the one thing I never liked: not attending church the Sunday after the holiday – so lazy of me.  It’s hard to believe it’s only one week since Easter, which in the western church tradition was last Sunday. Today is Easter for the Orthodox and Eastern rite Catholics.  Happy Easter to you:)! 

What a couple of weeks it has been – and with rare exception, cold and rainy.  Yesterday we were supposed to get snow.  In April. In Merlin. That never happens. Thankfully it didn’t.

What follows are my thoughts about my church community.  Knitting and other content will follow in my next post. So if this stuff bores you to tears (I understand:)), you might wish to skip this post.

Backing up a bit, I thought I’d share some highlights of the weeks.

First, the full moon after which we celebrate Easter.  This shot is appropriately near an ancient tree in the graveyard next to St. J’s:

And this is a view of some of the stained glass windows backlit from inside the church after the Easter Vigil:

I posted on FB how lucky we are to have two Peabody graduates in our music program: Nancy S., our organist/choirmaster and Music Director; and Diane L., a retired public school music teacher and the director of our excellent children’s choir. Our Rector, Ann R., is also a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music! We are an incredibly lucky parish.  This year, I did not sing with the choir because work kept me very busy. Instead, I focused on playing in the bell choir and doing the odd instrumental piece – flute or tympani. For me, it’s important to be reliable.  I am determined to finish out this year with choir and bell choir. We shall see:).

Sadly, we learned earlier this year that Nancy will be retiring next February and returning as Music Director Emeritus, hopefully continuing to work with the bell choir.  Needless to say, we are all incredibly sad about this and are concerned that we would never be able to replace her with someone of similar ability – to say nothing of the connections she has established over the years with the artistic community in the Merlin-DC-VA area! I hope the powers-that-be accomplish this transition in a mindful way. Otherwise, all that she has built over the years will be destroyed and that would be awful. 

The thing about Nancy that, IMHO, makes her stand out from many others of her ilk, is that she does not focus the spotlight on herself. She has enhanced the work of others, she has put others in the spotlight, while with her own talents she has worked in the background, as a true professional does, to create an environment of creativity, hard work, safety, and joy in a job well done.  Diane has done much the same with the Children’s Choir.  She is wonderful with the children.  Her years as a music teacher show in her relationship with her choir and their parents. She, too, provides an environment of learning, spirituality, camaraderie, and safety. The children are very dedicated and very good singers, thanks to her leadership.

Knowing there are changes ahead, I am facing the future of music at St. J’s with some trepidation. There are many who are angry about this change; they believe that Nancy has been forced out a year too early and for no really good or discernibly good, reason.  I feel this way, too.  Not that I don’t think there is a time to retire and enjoy the fruits of one’s lifelong labors, just that it should be done in a mindful way, with input from the person involved. That being said, I refuse to fall into the “hate” trap. Let me explain what I mean by that.

About a year or two ago, I read something penned by a former priest at my church, someone I have gotten to know more (in some ways) that I did when she was at our church. She wrote about how hateful people can be to leadership in their churches.  Hateful to the point of being utterly destructive to the mental and physical health of the incumbent. When I was Catholic, it was almost the other way around: the priest could do no wrong.  Sadly, we learned that is not always the case. In my own church, it seems the priest can do no right.  

In the time I’ve been at my present church, I have never regretted joining it; in fact, it still remains one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. There have been difficulties, however.  It is naive to think that factions and power struggles don’t occur in churches.  Churches are made up of human beings, sinners if you will, imperfect beings who sometimes do not behave as well as they should.  The deal is, we’re supposed to recognize this and strike a balance between being “lovingly confrontational” and cutting each other some slack. (See e.g. 1 Cor. 13).  Don’t get me wrong: there are some sick, and bad, people in the world and one needs to do what one should about that. But all other things being equal, we don’t always get our way in things and not getting one’s way should not be an excuse to be cruel or nasty to someone who already has a very tough job. At the same time, one is called to speak truth to power. 

So, I figure right now my job is to be honest about how I see things without being hateful. As the BCP* says, “I will, with God’s help.”

On Easter Sunday, every year since I’ve been at St. J’s (almost 16 years), Nancy has played the Vidor Toccata from his Symphony No. V. It occurred to me that this Easter was going to be the last time we would hear her play it on the magnificent organ in this church with amazing acoustics and, before running from the bell table to the tymps to play with her on this piece (she plays the Toccata; a brass quintet plays some of the melodic lines; and the tympani provide some emphasis at the end of the piece), I turned on the voice recording feature on my cellphone.  This was a memory I did not want to forget.

I’m sure I’m not the only one surprised at the depth of emotion I felt when the piece was over, the congregation was greeting it with thunderous applause, and Nancy was leaving her seat to thank us all and give out hugs. Her family was upstairs, her husband Rennie, son Joe (his wife Sandy had to remain home in OH this time around). Note: she knows I taped it and has not objected.

True to form, she sent out an email thanking everyone involved, overlooking our many flubs and errors, and taking a back seat to the volunteers.

Later that day, I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with family.  Truly a lovely holiday. Χριστός ἀνέστη Christos anesti.

*BCP=Book of Common Prayer

Spring? Ahead


Last Saturday night began Daylight Savings Time in the US (or most of it, anyway).  Of late, it seems to start about a month earlier in the year than it used to, making for colder, darker mornings and longer brighter days (at least when it’s not raining or sometimes snowing).  But it’s still cold around here.  Spring does eventually come and when it does, it’s fairly quick.  But for now…. not so much.  Losing an hour’s sleep on top of (in my case) having to take one of my adult kids to the airport before dawn when it was very very cold, made for

 an exhausting day at church the next day when the bells were scheduled to play at two of the morning services.  Frankly, I was surprised at how tired I was.  Normally, I just suck it up and go to bed early, but I was barely functioning.  This meant a pizza dinner for the family get-together – and no one complained:).

A nasty cough that developed afterward- just a cold, but one that knocked me down a bit physically – solved the mystery for me. The week was fairly quiet, but I got so little done.  Today, there was no court for me for some reason.  On the work front, I had a few phone conversations, answered emails, and worked on some other paperwork. For the most part, it’s been a day to regain energy and get ready for next week. No knitting/blogging until the work day is done!

Like last Saturday, tomorrow will be unusual in that I have no client visits, but church-related activities – the choir is singing at a memorial service for a former member of the bell choir (she was much more than that, obviously, but I knew her through bells) and before that a meeting with the lectors and the passion reading practice.  I will be reading the part of “slave.” The “Passion” comes from the Latin for suffering.  It recounts the arrest, trial and death by crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the one who Xians believe is the Son of God – or for the Trinitarians like us, one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity – God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

Please excuse this all-too-short-and-probably-way-too-glib-sounding mini-theology lesson.  I say these things by way of explanation, no attempt at proselyzing. This is a busy time in the Western Xian calendar.  Next Sunday – Palm Sunday – begins what is referred to as “Holy Week,” culminating the following Sunday with Easter – the most serious “Big Deal” holiday for all Xian denominations. Celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (who says we don’t get our holidays from the pagans?), the Xian churches traditionally celebrate this feast of the resurrection of Jesus as Spring, a time of new life and light, is arriving. Hopefully, by then it will feel more like Spring!

So Knitting!

This is a long-winded way of saying I’ve had some time for knitting, but I’ve been unusually monogamous with one project, the Bright Sweater.  The bottom gazillion rows of twisted stitch knitting is finally done.  I started the right sleeve following the directions to a “T,” but found that it is just too tight, so I frogged it and reworked it with twenty additional stitches to give me some ease. To ensure enough ease on my upper arms, I am holding off on the decreases until starting the third pattern repeat of the shoulder/upper sleeve pattern, in other words until the 33rd round after beginning the sleeve. Am writing this here in case I forget when I get to the next sleeve, LOL! Interesting that this is worsted weight yarn knit on size 4 needles.  I am getting a really nice gauge. 

My monogamy does not necessarily mean I don’t get distracted by other pretty things, LOL:) Browsing ravelry, I fell into the Andrea Mowry “fade” rabbit hole and in the past few weeks have added her What the Fade shawl, the Weekender sw

eater, and today, Rose to my pattern library.  By virtue of having Laine magazine, Issue 2; and Making Magazine, Issue 4- Lines, I have Birds of a Feather and the Raina shawl, respectively.    All of her patterns are incredibly beautiful and also incredibly well-written and well tech-edited. The challenge for me is finding the yarn in stash to use for them.  The recommended yarn for Rose, for example is incredibly lovely yarn from La Bien Aimee – lovely, but well beyond my price point at this time.  I am thinking of buying some speckled yarn from KnitPicks a bit at a time with the idea of building up enough to make the pattern work. In the meantime, I was thinking of these fingering weight yarns I purchased at the Merlin Sheep and Wool Festival last year:

They go well together, but there’s little “blend” between them.  What do you think? Would love to hear from knitters familiar with the pattern what their opinion might be.

ADDITIONS TO THE KNITTING LIBRARY

Our postman has brought a lot of goodies to me lately:)! My subscriptions to Vogue Knitting, Knitscene, Piecework, and Interweave Knits, and Schoolhouse Press’ Wool Gathering are still in force. In addition, I’ve gotten a new knitting book and sent off for the latest installment of Laine Magazine. And Oh. My. G-d.

First: Wool Gathering.  Every few months since about 2010,  I get this gem in the mail, though I have purchased many from the 90s.  This time, it was Meg and Cully Swansen’s take on the Cowl. I would knit every last one of those five cowls/dickies/whatever the blank you call them, but I found Cully’s pattern the most compelling. It’s the red one in the upper right corner of the cover.

Second: Vogue Knitting- first because it always has an article from Meg Swansen – this month’s article is about pure unadulterated Wool! – and second because Krysten Ritter is on the cover! Yay.  Krysten Ritter is a favorite actress of mine, ever since I saw her on the Starz cable network series Gravity.  Everything after that has been gravy:).  And she. is. a Knitter! There’s a viral video going around of her trying to teach Stephen Colbert how to knit.  So cool.  There were a few patterns in there I found interesting – the texture and the color choices were interesting to me. 

 

Third: an older book, purchased at a discount book warehouse that is going out of business: French Girl Knits Accessories.  The book cost less than the pattern I am interested in knitting out of it would cost on Ravelry. The name of the pattern is Noemie and it appears to be a cute pair of lacy fingerless mitts with ruched sides.

 

 

 

Finally and most eagerly awaited: the fourth issue of Laine Magazine. Every issue of this magazine has been a visual and spiritual pleasure. I don’t think there has been a pattern in any of the issues that I wouldn’t knit. In this issue, the hat on the front page, and a couple other patterns really piqued my interest!

First was this simple, yet elegant cowl called Rift.

The other was the Kennings Yoke pullover. I love the use of gansey/aran style motifs used in a yoke along with textured knitting at the border. The rustic yarn adds to the charm. No accident that the Rift cowl is pictured with this beautiful sweater.

It just seems that there are so many quality patterns out there for us knitters. It is such a pleasure to see the beauty and artistry at play in the minds of designers.  

Well, it’s time to go now.  Back to my knitting as it is well past five and my weekend has begun.  ‘Til next time, 

God be with you ’til we meet again+

A Quiet Week

I am always a bit wary of posting a title like this for any blogpost.  It invariably means the week will end up insane at the last minute. But so far, not much has gone on.  In a week where I have court at least three mornings and some afternoons, I have only the a.m. and p.m. docket tomorrow.  I need to complete some paperwork and reports due to the office tomorrow.  I want to get ahead on scheduling visits for the next six weeks and I should put a dent in that without much trouble (famous last words…).  A threatening winter storm and a trial held over for one of us caused a meeting to cancel.  I did have a few visits this week – one that took me the better part of a day because it was 80-something miles away, but that was fairly uneventful.  Another meeting was canceled for other reasons. In other words, work has not been as crazy as it has been from time to time. No complaints there – I’m sure things will turn around sooner than later:)!

I did have a wonderful lunch with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a while and that was truly nice.

The family are all doing well; thankfully everyone is healthy and the flu that threatened the grandkids and their parents seems to have abated.

We even had a few warm(ish) days. But now it is cold – the kind of cold that creeps into your bones, with the cold humidity of the wet ground, mud, and melted snow.  The brighter March sunshine, though it eases the dreariness, seems powerless in the face of the unrelenting cold. The DH, a man with the internal temperature of a woman in the midst of menopause, loves it. Ours is a constant battle over adjusting the thermostat.

On the knitting front, there is not much to show, but a bit to report. I finished the Nordic Cowl and gave it as a gift to the good friend with whom I had lunch.

The “Vanna White” in this picture is penultimate offspring, S. (Thanks, S!) It should keep the recipient extra warm during what have been difficult days for her. I decided to finish it with a three-needle bind off because it was a better match for the purled turning row between the two sections and because kitchnering 228 stitches was not a pleasing prospect – though had it been a better choice I like to think I would have done it.

The Truckbeth Carbeth remains in “time-out,” through no fault of its own.  I have been obsessed with finishing the Bright Sweater.  Right now I am on the twisted stitch ribbing and for some bizarre reason, it feels like it’s taking FOREVER.  I am both a ‘picker’ and a ‘thrower’ (or ‘English’ and ‘Continental’ if you prefer), however, for the most part, I prefer to knit ‘Continental’ because it is much faster for me and a gazillion times easier to alternate knit and purl stitches.  Were I to knit this as a thrower, I would be tearing my hair out.

It doesn’t help that I decided to add another 10 rounds of ribbing to increase the length.  This sweater is very oversized, but somewhat short and I just need a couple more inches in length to cover some less-than-optimal bits on this old frame. So far, it’s looking pretty good….

It’s difficult to see the progress because the picture is taken from farther away to enable me to get the whole thing in the frame. The stitch holder is keeping live stitches for the top of the sleeve. Approximately five inches down  – if you can see it in the picture – is the underarm.  I’ve been measuring my length from that point. The twisted stitch ribbing takes in quite a bit – though it’s on the same size needles – which may be why it feels like it’s taking so long. I have to say though, that this has been a delightful pattern to knit.  We’ll see how the fit turns out:) – I do appear to be on gauge for this one-size-fits-all (HAH) sweater, so fingers crossed!

In other knitting news, Mason-Dixon Knitting have started a new March Mayhem – voting starts on the Ides of March. There will be – as last year – four rounds of votes to winnow the number down to “champion” patterns – one in each of four categories: Yokes, Sweaters, Neck and Shoulders, and Mini-Skeins. An unusual breakdown, but given the number of wonderful patterns available on Ravelry for sale, understandable. I have a few of the patterns and confess to purchasing a few more last night.  Many of the designers are my own favorites; others I never knew about before yesterday. Another win:)!

As to my own mumblety-mumblety unfinished projects, I pulled out anything that I had not yet begun into hibernation, renamed them for the year in which I was hoping to actually start them.  In June, I plan on going through all of them and frogging those I know I won’t finish.  The yarn should be used for something else or given to someone else rather than sit on a shelf unused.

That’s all for now.  Until next time,

God be with you ’til we meet again+

Another Quick Post Before Heading Out


Have been busy at work, but managed to knit a bit on the Nordic Cowl.  Progress is moving right along – am more than halfway through the second half, so I guess I’m past 75 percent done:)! When you get this close to finishing a project, you just have to keep on keeping on. The Truckbeth Carbeth is still sitting in time out through no fault of its own.  I have been admiring the finished projects of others and am really looking forward to getting those sleeves started … and done. I just feel the need to finish this older project first.  I have never been known for following the crowd, often to my own detriment, but oh. well.:)

The sock has had a modicum of progress.  Almost not worth a picture.  Oh all right;) you twisted my arm:)….

There really is not much new to report.  Work progresses. I am busy one day and have some time to regroup the next – a good rhythm.  Music is complicated. Wish I had more to report, but I’d be invading the privacy of others and won’t do that.  Just feeling sad is all I can say.  The kids are doing well.  The DH and I will be seeing the closing performance of our son Danny in Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. It’s a long play, but I’m really looking forward to it.  I mean after all –  O’Neill – how bad can that be? If not for Danny, I swear we’d be illiterate – or is it degenerate? 😉 LOL Probably both.

 

Hoping to get to our Sip ‘n Knit group this evening for a short time between my visits in Dundalk and Ellicott City, so the knitting is coming with me:).

 

God be with you ’til we meet again+  

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+

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:)+