The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Friday, March 31, 2006


A little while back, Abigail asked if I would like to join her Sock Yarn Addict's Club. Actually, at the time she told me about it, the name wasn't Sock Yarn Addict's Club; it was then an idea to do some stashbusting and knit up sock yarn without buying any new stash (sock stash, that is). I really didn't want another KAL, but I had already been planning to knit up the sock yarn I had, so it was easy to jump on the bandwagon. And after all, with Abigail being another Arizona gal who's LYS is a WalMart, how could I refuse? Anyways, pretty soon the KAL was filled and the start date is tomorrow, April 1st.

We were instructed to take pictures of our stash for posting on Opening Day. Abigail had already asked for a count of how much sock yarn we had on hand already. I counted fourteen balls of yarn for 7 pairs. (I found another 2 balls today.) I didn't count the Regia and the Koigu that right now is earmarked for other projects besides socks. Now apparently this is pretty awful for a yarn stash. Only 14 - or 16 - balls of sock yarn? Pathetic, I am now thinking. And I, being obviously fairly naive, thought I was overloaded with the stuff. But I'm standing firm. I'm knitting this up before I buy anymore! (she said with a firm stamp of her foot).

So I got the yarn and I posed the picture and then I went looking for the camera. Surprise, surprise, it's not where I left it.

Find the camera is a game frequently played at this house. It comes of having two teens with their own blogs who love to post their own pictures. That's fine and dandy, but I wish they would learn to put the camera back when they are done. Instead, they leave it somewhere in their rooms. And if you know what teenagers' rooms look like, you know how long it took me to find it.

So the "big" stash is now photographed and is waiting to be posted tomorrow. I won't be home for most of the day so I will do a quick post of the (pathetic stash) picture when I get the chance. Then I will go look at everyone else's pictures on Sunday and drool.

Since I don't like to post without at least one picture, here is one in honor of the new colors for Project Spectrum, yellow and orange for April.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What To Do on a Rainy (Sort-of) Day

Little Cat knows what to do.

So do I.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Preztel Man

Joe came home from work today and decided to try something he has always wanted to do: make pretzels.

Boiling the shaped pretzels.

Sprinkling coarse salt on the boiled dough.

The baked pretzels.

I, on the other hand, spent the day nursing a cold and cough, and watching a family of quail in the backyard. The cold bug has been going through the house and everyone decided on a pot of homemade chicken soup for dinner.

Homemade pretzels actually go pretty well with chicken soup.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Spring"ing Forth

Views of the garden this weekend. Spring is a wonderful thing, isn't it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

What the Seagulls Saw Me Do

The first Sockapalooza sock is finished. I sure hope my sock pal likes it. I'm doing the best I can with her specs. And certainly she will be able to say that she has received a well-traveled sock.

Here is the next watchcap for 40 Days For Others. As you can easily see, it is about twice as big as his little sister there. It fits me very well, quite comfortably in fact, and the old man thinks he would like to have one. In a heathery kind of blue. So I guess I'm going to have to go yarn hunting. (It's a rough job, but somebody has to do it.)

Finally, a progress pic of the Lacy Kerchief Scarf for Project Spectrum. Not so much got done on this, but I don't feel like I'm under a time constraint as with the above two projects. I am really enjoying working on this project. It is a good break from the hats, which tend to make my hands and shoulders hurt after a while, doing all the ribbing. And the KnitPicks Shine is soft and drapey. The pattern is complex enough to keep me from getting bored yet. The plan is to finish it by the end of April. I hope. And hey, the striped Mexican blanket I've been using here really fits the Project Spectrum idea, don't you think?

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

All Ashore What Goes Ashore

Last Thursday we docked in Ensenada, Mexico. Right up to the dock this time. No freakin' tendering. No more seasicky stuff. Annie was sick most of the night before. We wouldn't see her for an hour or so, and then she would come crawling into our stateroom to hurl in our bathroom. What was wrong with her bathroom I'll never know. We just kept getting regular visits, until Joe finally left the room because his stomach couldn't stand it any more. So much for getting separate rooms, one for them and one for us. Amazingly, though, right when the rest of us were getting ready to go ashore, Annie recovered. Seems she had a day planned with a young man from Las Vegas whom she'd met on board. After a massive third degree questioning session from me, I agreed to let her go.

See above, obligatory photo with purple sock and the largest Mexican flag I've ever seen. In the background is the town and shopping district, which this day was filled with college students at the bars. We did some obligatory shopping and bought some obligatory striped blankets. I never cease to be shocked at the sights of poverty that one so often sees in the Mexican tourist towns. (Time here for a small rant. It is customary for American shoppers to haggle with the shop owners here to get the lowest prices. This strikes me as wrong. Obviously the ordinary people in this country are poor and could use the money. Also obviously the American shoppers have just gotten off this amazing luxurious cruise ship for a vacation from their well-paying jobs. Why do they have to deny the shop owners a little profit? I haggle very little, if at all. I spread a little money around. Please do not write and tell me I'm off my rocker.)

After a couple hours we were ready to go back to the ship and have some lunch. Whoa, what's this? There is more security to get back on this ship than to fly from Phoenix to Tucson. The Mexican Immigration authorities check our boarding passes again and again. And we have to be xrayed to even get on the pier, not to mention the boat. But now there's a problem. The Mexican official doesn't like something in my purse. Open this, he motions. I do, of course, and he goes hunting. He pulls out one of my Susan Bates DPNs, fortunately one with no knitting on it. He stares at it, and calls another official. He gives me a dirty look. Quickly I ask for the purse, reach in, and find the sock. I pull it partway out of the purse and make motions as if to knit. Hurrah! Quick laughter and nods from the officials and I am allowed to proceed through the checkpoint. (I can just hear the girls now, we had to leave Mom behind in Mexico because of her stupid knitting that you're not supposed to do on vacation.)

After lunch I head back up to the top deck to continue working on the sock. As usual, the seagulls have to come by and check out the crazy lady with the purple yarn. It was a lovely, if windy, afternoon with yarn and sunshine. At 5:00 we went back on deck by the pier to watch the ship pull out. There had been no sign of Annie or Mr Las Vegas. As the ship pulled away and out to sea again, we all hoped she'd made it back in time. We went to change for dinner and a few moments later she and Mr L.V. appeared. Long enough to tell us that she was going to be eating dinner and spending the evening with him and the other spring-breakers on board. It was a lovely farewell dinner on board with the waiters all singing and dancing with flaming desserts on their heads. Pumpkinknitter danced, too, and had to listen to "Mom, Sit Down!! What Are You Doing!!!" which she ignored.

And so the next morning everyone got off the boat to go home. Annie reappeared fifteen minutes before we disembarked, having spent all night on the pool deck with the spring-break party and having a tremendous case of laryngitis. We hauled all our stuff off the ship and back to the hotel, where we packed the car and Annie made a nest in the back seat. We drove all the way home that Friday as Annie slept like the dead in the back.

Goodbye to the cruising life for now.

And thank you, Annie, for infecting everyone else this week with the laryngitis.

Tomorrow, that which I knit and that which I finished.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Can You Knit on a Submarine?

Blogger will only allow me to upload one picture today, so I guess that is some small improvement. This is me, of course, and the purple sock on the pier at Catalina Island last Wednesday. Our ship is in the background. The harbor is too small to let such a big ship in, so we had to drop anchor and get shuttled in by small boats. This is called "tendering". Tendering is a mixed blessing. It's a necessity to get on shore, but trust me, it's an adventure.

Whoa, Blogger's going to give me another picture! This is Annie on the tender. Annie does not look happy. Neither do the rest of us. It is cold, it is windy, and the freakin' tender boat is bouncing like a wild bronco. We are being tossed every which way from heck and beyond. (They stopped tendering for an hour and a half after our boat went into port because the sea was so choppy.)

We were very grateful to get on shore. Catalina is a very pretty island, and we were looking forward to a morning of walking around, sightseeing, and me in particular of checking out the local needlework shop. It was on my shopping map and I knew just where to find it. HOWEVER, we had an initial stop planned -- an underwater submarine tour of one of the harbors to see the plant and fish life.

While waiting for the submarine-boat-thing to show up, I knit on the deck. Now, I had brought with me all kinds of extra yarn on the cruise in case I should run out of something, but it occured to me, sitting on this pier, that I might have misplanned. Looking down at this pier, with the cracks through the wood, I realized that if I dropped a needle, it would probably become a permanent underwater fixture in the bay. And I hadn't thought about extra needles. Hmmm. I kept knitting, but very carefully.

Finally we got on the little submarine. It is a boat with the underwater part nothing but windows, so you can see the fish. While waiting to cast off, I pulled out the knitting again (no cracks in the bottom of this thing). The girls fussed at me to put the knitting away. (Repeat of infamous comment about not knitting on vacation.) No one would take a picture of me for "extreme knitting". I suddenly got the feeling, however, the queasy feeling, that knitting with little needles on a small bouncing underwater closet-sized cubicle was not, I repeat NOT, a good idea. So the knitting did get put away, for good this time.

We finally pulled out into the bay. It was pretty exciting at first. We saw huge fronds of seaweed and hundreds of fish. This lasted for about ten minutes. Then slowly but surely it wasn't as much fun anymore. There was only one kind of seaweed, and that was pretty boring. There were lots of fish, but only four kinds, and only one kind looked cute. And everybody was starting to look pretty green. Extremely green. I was feeling pretty warm. Starting to sweat, in fact. Is there any fresh air on this thing? And the boat-submarine was bouncing. Like...a bucking bronco. The tour guide suddenly got concerned and opened the top hatch to let everyone on deck. It was a stampede. Green people hanging onto the outer railings. Kodak moment.

Once we got off the freakin' boat we were too sick to walk any further. We only wanted to get back on the big, safe, comfortable cruise ship with our pillows and non-moving beds. I had lost all desire to find the needlework shop. (This alone should tell you how desperate the situation was.) Fortunately, they were tendering again by this time and we made it back to the mother ship.

Meals were a little tricky, though, the rest of the day. It took most of us the rest of the afternoon to recover, and, in Annie's case, the rest of the night, too.

So, can you knit on a submarine? Yes, but not for the faint of heart. Or stomach.

Next time, Susan Bates has a Mexican escapade.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Medical Center

Blogger is being nearly totally uncooperative with me this morning, not uploading pictures and arguing with me about fonts and other items, so the planned post for today will be delayed until the monster decides to behave again. In the meantime, if you haven't done so already, do go and visit Laurie, not only to wish her and her husband well after a nasty accident, but to read an absolutely amazing story about knitbloggers taking care of one another. I kid you not, I was very touched by the story. I have never been to her site before, but Margene was directing everyone there from her blog post today. I know that I was particularly touched by this story after our own hospital experience four weeks ago, and I could so relate to the sense of being alone until the support group shows up.

Coincidentally, and not to detract anything from Laurie's circumstances, I spent a few hours late yesterday afternoon in the emergency room -- again. Annie had an accident with our Neon (the almost-new car, of course); she skidded on black ice while trying to stop at a stop light. Lots of xrays later and one very cranky, upset teenager later, she was released with only a sprained ankle and some pain pills. Thank God for air bags and seat belts. We have yet to see the car; we were out at the time and out of cell phone range in the mountains and didn't find out until almost two hours after the accident. Not surprisingly, I had knitting with me, and it did serve to calm my nerves once again. But I have announced loudly to everyone that I am sick and tired of knitting in hospitals and everyone needs to kindly cut it out.

Since we all seem to be on medical issues today, I am happy to report that Joe is still doing well after his TIA. I will have to get on him, though, about the four pounds he gained on the cruise. (I only gained two, haha.) He is supposed to be losing some, as I should as well, so it is back to the un-gourmet meals at our house. I am debating about making weight loss a reportable item on the blog, so that I have the incentive to have progress to report. But I digress. While Joe was in the hospital, we had some major discussions about his job and the stress levels he was encountering there, something that had to be considered in light of his life-altering medical event. We both decided that he would go back to work and see what happened. Well, it didn't happen. His blood pressure skyrocketed and we both knew that we weren't willing to take any chances. So he quit that job and is now working at another with next to no stress whatsoever. Full time, better hours, comparable benefits. No blood pressure issues. We're still adjusting, but there are no regrets whatsoever about the decision. You can replace a paycheck; you can't replace the person.

Hope everyone else is feeling well!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Laid Back and Lovin' It

Hello again one and all! And welcome back to reality, mountains of laundry, hills of mail, 67 blog entries in Bloglines to catch up on, grocery shopping, dusting, and dishes!! But I am so relaxed and recovered from the last month or so, that it was really well worth it!

We left early Sunday morning (5:00 am) in a blinding snowstorm. It figures, doesn't it? No snow all winter, and then the morning we are driving to LA we have to slow down because the highway is treacherous with blowing, drifting snow. It snowed like mad until we reached Tucson, where it turned to rain. Finally near Gila Bend the sun came out and we had no more rain except for a brief shower in LA. The snow in the mountains in California was very impressive, and it was quite cold and windy. Our hotel in Los Angeles (actually in San Pedro) was practically on top of the cruise pier and very nice. We walked to the wharf and peeked in all the seafood markets and restaurants. Mounds of fresh fish on beds of ice, squid, octopus, shrimp, and just about every dish made from seafood known to man.

The girls weren't interested in seeing (or more accurately, smelling) fish, so they stayed in the hot tub at the hotel. Needless to say, they weren't alone for long. About two seconds after I took this picture, they were joined by two young college gentlemen who just coincidentally were also taking the same cruise we were. (I have been known to refer to my daughters as "boy bait", and it is an accurate description.) Eventually, however, we were able to get them out of the hot tub and into a Chinese restaurant where we enjoyed one of the best sweet-and-sour dinners we have ever had, while watching freighters and cruise ships head in and out of the harbor.

Monday morning the hotel shuttled us to our ship. (They also kept our car in their lot for $5.00 a day, better than any other parking lot in the harbor area.) Mike was feeling a little queasy, as the plateful of fried squid he'd had for dinner didn't really agree with him. (I'd had some of it as well, but it didn't bother me at all.) As soon as we boarded, we hit the lunch buffet, where Mike, Annie, and Barbara were totally overwhelmed. (This was their first cruise.) In fact, Barbara and Annie made several trips to the buffet that afternoon, in between chilling at the salt water pool and attracting more guys. Dinner that evening was lovely, of course, -- braised lamb shanks -- although Mike was still picking at his dinner that night and for the next day or so.

The next morning we docked in San Diego. Mike was feeling better and took one of the shore excursions, a combination of a harbor tour and several hours visiting the Midway museum -- an aircraft carrier which has been turned into a museum. Duh. The rest of us just chilled on the ship, enjoying the sun and the fresh air. I had been working on the purple Sockapaloooza sock Sunday and Monday, and Tuesday morning I cast on for the next hat for 40 Days. 114 stitches this time, thank you very much. But the knitting order for this day was the Lacy Kerchief Scarf in Pink. I went all the way up to the top sun deck on the ship with my purse, my knitting bag, and my flannel deck blanket and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The wind wanted to keep blowing my instruction sheets away! But it was great! Not a whole lot of progress, because I was still working out the pattern. But a great deal of relaxation. I could literally feel the stress draining away.

Dinner was roast duck in a blackberry sauce and cherries jubilee for dessert. It was the Captain's reception and champagne was flowing freely, along with the rum punch. That was the night Annie discovered the joys of late-night disco bars and entertainment that goes on to the wee hours of the morning -- well, in her case, the almost dawn hours. That's what happens with a spring break cruise and a lot of 18 to 25 year olds on board.

Next time, the dubious joys of trying to knit on Catalina Island. And I'm trying to catch up on all my blogreading and emails -- I'll be visiting you all over the next few days as I catch up. And in case you were wondering, I wasn't the only knitter on board -- there was a lady with a big bag of blue yarn that looked like real wool and some pretty big needles -- but I never caught up to her. Can you believe the girls thought that I shouldn't be knitting because I'm on vacation???

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Little R & R

Just about a year ago we decided to take a trip on this spring break. So we made our reservations, for us and the kids who could get away, and just bided our time. Now it's spring break week, and our ship awaits us...but who could have seen the future and seen how much we actually would end up needing this week away from all the stress of the last four weeks?

So we are off, driving to LA and our embarkation on Monday. Now we are into the major knitting time I planned on.

Goals for the next eleven days until I have to go back to work:

1. Finish the first Sockapaloooza Sock.
2. Finish at least one more (adult-sized) watchcap for 40 Days for Others.
3. Get a whole bunch done on my pink scarf for Project Spectrum.

Now, before you all email me or leave comments, yes I plan on doing some other important things besides the knitting.

1. Spend major, MAJOR time with the old man. High quality and quantity time.
2. Spend some quality time with children. However, given the fact that this is spring break week and some of their aquaintances are also on this cruise, as well as most likely a whole whack of other young adult types, I don't think I'll see that much of them.
3. Spend my early mornings doing laps around the ship.
4. Spending some time in the on-board gym.
5. Eating amazing gourmet meals that I didn't have to cook and that I certainly don't have to clean up after.
6. Finding chocolate on my pillow at night.
7. Walking my way around Catalina Island, San Diego, and wherever. Maybe finding a yarn shop? Or two?
8. Spending lots of time doing a favorite activity -- time on deck with knitting, a book, maybe a Pina Colada, and soaking up sun, fresh air, and the sight of sunlight on water. Water. Lots of water. Water as far as the eye can see.

See you all again in about a week.

P.S. Yes, the hat is coming, too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Socking good update

The Sockapaloooza Sock is coming along well. I am working on the heel flap and loving the color, the yarn, and the needles. And the pattern. It is the Openwork Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks (of course!), but I altered the pattern just a bit. Instead of a four-row repeat, I am doing a five-row repeat, adding in an extra row of K2P2. I started out doing the pattern as written, then accidentally (or brilliantly) did a few repeats with the extra row. I liked the look a lot more and so now that's the way I'm doing it.

I checked out Ann Budd's hat directions in "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" and it's no wonder the watchcap came out small. The pattern had 72 stitches cast on and the book calls for 104 to 114 for the same gauge. So I'm going to do the same pattern again but this time use Ann Budd's measurements.

The weather here is cold and windy, with a winter storm watch posted. Is winter finally showing up the weekend before spring break?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Itty Bitty Hat

I've finished my first hat for 40 Days for Others, and I'm somewhat flusterated. I got the pattern from Susan at I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can, when she posted a whole bunch of quick knits for Christmas gifts. This pattern is called the Marsan Watchcap, by Staceyjoy Elkin, and can be found here. The pattern says it makes an adult medium, but following the directions exactly mine came out somewhere in the toddler range. Go figure. Now, I'm sure there's a toddler that will fit into this hat just fine and stay nice and warm in it,....but it's not what I had in mind.

Next time I'm casting on twice as many stitches.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sockapaloooza Update

So I guess it's time to post for the Sockapaloooza Update...and here's what there is to see. Yes, not much yet, but I'm pretty pleased with it so far, and hope my sock pal will be, too. I like the Susan Bates needles much better than the bamboo ones, also. Things have been rather topsy-turvy around the homefront this weekend, and today we finished and mailed the tax returns. So knitting has not been on the front burner for a few days. But I am looking forward to some good knitting time coming up.

It is still so dry here, I went out today and soaked the young trees in the backyard. I don't want them to dry out too badly. One patch of irises is blooming away and the other is still asleep. The California poppies are starting to bloom and of course the weeds are doing really well. I'll try to get some pictures going this week. (Of the flowers, not the weeds.)

Joe says thank you for the birthday wishes, and the hat is not for sale.

Good thing. I might not find him again if he ever got rid of it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Joe

Happy Birthday to my best buddy! I wouldn't change a thing about you. Here's to many more!

I've started my first hat for "40 Days". I'll post a picture once there's something other than ribbing to show. The lace scarf hasn't gone anywhere, but the Sockapalooza socks are off and running. Between Project Spectrum and the ABC along, there is so much to see on the knitweb these days. I love all the inspiration.

PS - Joe doesn't go anywhere on the trail without that poor beat-up hat. Yes, he has a new one. No, he doesn't wear it. I can find him anywhere, just look for the hat.

Edited to add: photo taken at Zion National Park, Utah in June 2005.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tying Myself into Knots

First off, let me thank Ann, Abigail, and Margene for reassuring me that I am not some crazed superhuman monster who bends bamboo sticks out of shape due to some genetic abnormality. Actually, I though it was just a sign of the times; after all, we all know that I haven't been under any stress at all lately or anything like that whatsoever. But these lovely people were quick to jump in and let me know that bent bamboo is not something to stress over.

Secondly, if you haven't read Abigail's wrap-up post on the Knitting Olympics, you should...even though we're all about Olympic'ed out right now it's worth the time.

Thirdly, in honor of Margene's blogiversary, I'm posting this picture of the first iris of the year. Margene's blog is lovely, warm, and filled with beautiful pictures of mountains and knitting. How could I not love it? So if you haven't already, go over and wish her happy anniversary.

Fourthly, I have begun my Project Spectrum knitting. This is the Lacy Kerchief Scarf from IK Summer '05. I am doing it in Knitpicks Shine.

I had loads of fun trying to figure out how to do a provisional cast on. I ended up using a crocheted chain with waste yarn, and felt I was getting off to a good start. But then, as I was knitting, doubt began to creep in. I kept looking at that crocheted chain. I thought about the 80 some inches of knitting that would go into this scarf before the directions said to go back and finish off that end. What if I knit that far and then the darned thing didn't work right? Could I bear the anxiety that would be my constant companion while I worked on this? Heck, no. I put the stitches on a holder and went back and tried to pull out the chain. No luck. I ended up cutting away the chain to get the stitches on the needle again. What a mess! Finally I had all the stitches picked up and I knit the end of the scarf. Success! I went back and got the stitches back off the holder and continued knitting on my merry way. Just think of all the anxious nights I've saved myself!

Finally, the old man has been medically cleared for all normal activities and is going back to work tomorrow. Woohoo!