The adventures of a knitting grandmother

My Photo
Location: United States

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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Oh my. Gobsmacked!

Thank you all for the heartwarming comments on my last post. I have been thinking about it all and I know that a lot of the success I experienced was due to all of you and the many things I learned and tried through the internet blogging community. I knit the Fingerless Gloves because of the Knitting Olympics. The Trekking Socks were knit for the TrekAlong, but the yarn was selected because I fell in love with the socks my pal in Sockapaloooza sent me. I knit Branching Out because I saw it in the Who Wouldn't Love a HandKnitted Gift KAL last year. The Dishcloth and Baby Genius Burp Cloth resulted from MDK, of course, and everyone who raved about the book and inspired me to buy it. And Moira and Magda LittleLace were started for Project Spectrum, and of course were finished because of Amazing Lace. See how much you all contributed to this? At the very least by all your friendship and encouragement!

Some of you have asked when the Arizona State Fair happens. I don't know the start date offhand, October something of course. The State Fair sends representatives to our county fair and picks up the entries. Otherwise it would be a three hour plus drive for me to get to Phoenix. And three hours plus back home again. I won't see my knits again until they get returned to the county fairgrounds in November. And I don't know if I will get up to Phoenix while the fair is open. Previously the Fair would post the blue ribbon winners on their website, but they didn't do that last year. I had to wait until everything was returned and I could pick it up down here to find out what I had won.

In the meantime, Mario the tile guy has been working away. He has rebuilt the shower floor and has laid the tile in there and the bathroom floor. It looks really, really good so far. He thinks that we may be back in business by next weekend.

The Icarus Shawl has not fared too well. I realized that I had some wonky YO's and tried to frog back and fix them. Arrgh! The mohair yarn, she does not frog very well. At all. I finally gave up and cut the yarn and started over. I figured that since I hadn't gone too far with it yet, I wasn't losing much of the yarn. I have nearly knit back to where I was and I'm being a lot more mindful with the pattern.

Other knits have been moving along slowly. Work has been tying me up the last couple weeks, and my allergies have really been bad. Having a house full of concrete and drywall dust doesn't help, either. But things are looking up. I've ordered some single balls of sock yarn for the little Log Cabin blanket, and I'm intrigued by the color combinations I can play with now. And a lovely package arrived in the mail today. 100% Merino sock yarn from "Laura at Sugar Bunny Boulevard, in the Evening Sun colorway.

I am gobsmacked. Totally. This is indescribably gorgeous yarn and colors.

Doesn't it make you want some for yourself?

Thank you, Laura, for dyeing me such a beautiful future pair of socks!

And thank you again, everyone, for being part of the knitblogging universe.

P.S. And Happy First Birthday today to the best grandbaby in the world, little Miss Nikki!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Oh my. Gratified!

One County Fair.

Nine knits.

Nine blue ribbons. The happy contenders?

The Trekking Socks.

The Fingerless Gloves of Olympic Knitting Fame.

The pink shrug from last Christmas.

The pink Top Down hat, also from last Christmas.

The Isis Wrap, from last December as well.

The first ballband MDK warshrag.

The first MDK Baby Genius Burp Cloth.

The Lacy Kerchief Scarf, aka Magda LittleLace.

Branching Out, aka Megan LittleLace.

And the pears? They did okay, too.

Now it's on to the State Fair for almost all the knits, except for the Baby Burp Cloth (no category that I could find for it) and the Top-Down hat, and Moira LittleLace will take Magda's place in the knitted shawl/stole category.

There have been years when I couldn't get a blue ribbon to save my life. I think I'll keep up with this knitting thing, it seems to work well for me.

Thanks for all the support you give. The on-line knitting community really is the best!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Oh my. Gratuitious.

The bathroom rebuild goes apace. Our bathroom guy, Ray, who has spent the majority of his week sweating in the medieval dungeon, came back today to finish putting up the drywall so the tile guy can start on Monday. Ray is practically one of the family by now. He shares our pizza and brownies, in addition to replacing misbegotten garden hose water pipe. My front yard looks like Home Depot, since Ray has set up shop out there. Insulation, dry wall, extension cords, electric saws, and various other tools of frightening dimensions litter one whole side of the yard. And my garage? In addition to the piles of furniture and boxes from Nana's house, I now have cases of tile and various bathroom fixtures, including a new toilet. "Toilet Express" in big letters on the side of the box. And of course it's right in the front of the garage, so all the passersby can't miss it when the garage is open. Joe says that on Monday I have to try it out before it gets installed, so that he can exchange it if I don't like it. I presume that "try it out" means he will take it out of the box, set it up in the driveway, and make me sit on it.

Stop the presses. The neighbors will be emailing their digital pics for the next edition.

"Local Woman Test-Drives Porcelain Products on Her Days Off".

Don't you all start telling me that you want to see pictures. Because I just might.

In the meantime, the "Gratuitious" cat picture for the day. I keep a battered trestle table for seasonal type displays. Little Cat, though, has never been concerned about being mistaken for part of the bric-a-brac.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh my. Glorious!

No, no, NOT the bathroom. The Garden!!

Last night was the worst. The bathroom was completely gutted, including the ceiling. The autopsy was complete, and body parts were strewn everywhere. I refused to look at it. All I could think was that the contractor would show up in the morning and say, Hey, can't help you, and leave us with a bloody disaster that would never, ever, get fixed. Of course that's not what happened. Today the rebuilding started and tonight new insulation, new electrical wiring, new lights and fan and ducting are in place. Tomorrow the walls go back in and on Monday the tiling should begin. I have hope again.

The county fair opened today, but without me. Darn work interferes with everything! Barbara came with me last night to drop off my entries and we wandered around a bit before heading home. Lots of chickens and 4H pigs and of course the sheep and goats. Lots of kids milling about. 4H and the Fair are a pretty big deal and lots of kids from the rural areas don't go to school this week. After all, it's time to bring their livestock to the Fair!! And this fair is definitely centered on the 4H kids. It's a real county fair with politicians and goats and everything. Lots of Mexican food and Indian Fry Bread. Lots of rides, of course, but we don't go for that stuff. In the Home Arts building, I peeked around a bit after I dropped off the pile of knits. Someone had entered a basket with 52 (you read that right) hand-spun skeins of alpaca. The skeins weren't very big, but they were all obviously hand dyed as well and every one was a different color! The spun yarn seemed a bit coarse to me (as if I were a judge of anything), but it was certainly impressive. A card attached to the basket stated that the yarn was for a vest, Fair Isle I'm sure. There seemed to be a number of other handspun skeins as well, making for a bunch of entries.

Judging was today and usually takes up most of the day. I won't be going back until Sunday, the last day, when I have to pick everything up anyways. So you will have to wait until then, along with me, to see what transpires.

In the meantime, Roxie, I will be showering in the garden with a hose and I'm actually thinking of the Porta-John in the driveway as a real design fixture. JUST KIDDING!!! Fortunately there are two other bathrooms in the house, otherwise I would have moved into a hotel. So it's back to the MKD knitting for now. One of these days life will get back to normal. Until then, there's always garter stitch!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oh my. Gruesome!

This is what our bathroom off the master bedroom looked like. We had been wanting to update it for ages. The contractor was finally ready to start, and start he did.

This is what it looks like now. Ripped and messy and makes me think of an autopsy -- you don't really want to watch and you don't really want to know what's in there. We found that the previous homeowner had fixed a leak in the pipe leading to the toilet by cutting out the bad section, about 6 inches worth, and reconnecting the two ends of pipe WITH A LENGTH OF GARDEN HOSE!!!!! Heaven only knows why that hose didn't leak or burst in all the time we've been in this house. I'm only grateful that we found it now and tonight that pipe is properly fixed. The room will probably be out of commission until sometime next week, when we will have all new tiles and all new fixtures.

In better news, here's the pile of knits I'm taking this evening to the county fair. It's an hour drive one way and I need to hit the road. So I'm off to pack a sandwich for the road and load up the knits and the pears. Then it will be back to MDK knitting. I must be a glutton for stress.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh my. Goodness.

The prize package from Amazing Lace has arrived! Many thanks, again, to Rachel and Theresa! This is far lovelier in person than on digital camera. I get to pet it. It's very pet-able. What will it eventually become? At this point, no idea. But oh, the possibilities!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Busy Week

Last Monday was moving day for Nana's furniture. I had been stressing the entire week before that. Would the furniture that we wanted to put in the house actually fit? No one had thought to measure the pieces when we were last in Mesa. Would all the extra stuff fit into the garage until we could decide what to do with it? Would we be able to figure out what to do with that stuff before Christmas? (The jury's still out on that one.) Would it be worthwhile to rent a storage unit? (Easy answer on that one. No.)

Well, the movers showed up right on time. It only took about two hours to load the furniture. All dishes and small bits had been moved out a few weeks ago. We took a more round about way home due to an accident on the freeway. Joe and I stopped briefly to drive through a McD for a burger, and we bought an extra burger for the guy sitting with his cardboard sign at the freeway exit. (It was 9-11. We shared with a fellow American.) By the time we got off the freeway to head out into the boonies, it was getting pretty cloudy and some sprinkles had been encountered. The truck driver wanted to stop for gas, which we did, but it turned out that the stations at the exit didn't take his corporate credit card. We told him that we would find one that did near our home.

Well, we found the right brand name station all right, but they didn't have any diesel fuel. So we drove further out and finally found a station that had the diesel and the right brand name. The driver filled the van and went to pay, only to find that his card had been frozen. Yikes!!! Here he was sitting at the station with a van full of gas he couldn't pay for, and our furniture still loaded in that van. (No one heard any muttering about we should have had the furniture off-loaded first.) Finally the driver was able to contact the corporate office (we did use a major name van line, in case you were wondering) and after much "Oooops, oh gee, we didn't realize" the card was reactivated, the gas was paid for, one very embarrassed driver finally stopped apoligizing (I certainly didn't think it was his fault), and we were on our way again.

Of course by this time it was raining, the occasional thunder and lightening variety. The two guys ran the furniture into the house, where it actually fit into the garage (with walking space to spare!) and into the house (much better than anticipated!). The one young man who was assisting the driver was Russian and had very little English skills, but he immediately gravitated to our Russian nesting dolls (purchased in Berlin on the old other-side-of-the-Wall). After all was done, it was nearly 6:oo o'clock and they had at least a three hour drive to get home. We gave them four cold sodas and $20 to buy some burgers or whatever. You would think we had given them a million dollars.

See, I was brought up to think that you ought to treat everyone with the sort of consideration you would like to have yourself. In all the moves we have ever done, I've always seen to it that the movers got something when they were done. Am I the only person who feels this way, or is this a common practise? From the reaction of these movers, I think it was totally unexpected. And that's too bad.

Anyways, we have started to go through Nana's things in earnest now. She makes the original decisions, of course, as to what she still wants and what she doesn't. She wanted to keep her bedroom furniture, but everything else was left up to us to keep or give away. Joe and I are keeping a lot, and getting rid of a lot of our tattered stuff in return. After Joe and I decide, then it's up to the kids to decide what they may want. After that, what's usable will be given to charity and the unusable rest will be trashed, of course. And as you can imagine, all of this is going to take some time to accomplish. At least her old house is now empty; we are going to get the 28 year old carpeting replaced and then hopefully it will sell quickly.

Now on to the promised knitting content. Above is the second Branching Out done in Silky Wool. It certainly makes a heavier scarf than the Frog Tree Fingering Alpaca that the last one was made from; I am enjoying it just as much, however. I have a goal of doing one pattern repeat every day, and I only missed two days this week due to the move and some late work days. I figure that this is a low-stress way to get some gift knitting done.

The Harebell Lace/Pumpkin Socks are coming along slowly but surely. The right lighting continues to be a critical factor in working on these. I have turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches. I have decided to use Abigail's suggestion from several weeks ago and knit the rest of the sock in stockinette stitch, keeping the pattern just in the leg portion. And Icarus is coming along nicely too, in the time I have been able to devote to it. The mohair blend yarn has a nice little crisp feel to it and I can tell already that this is going to be a very cozy shawl for those cool evenings of spring and fall.

The main project of this last week, however? More rounds on the sock yarn Log Cabin. Perfect non-stress knitting for three-hour car rides, waiting for movers to show up while watching 9-11 memorial services on TV, watching movers haul furniture out of the house, wondering if a valid gas station will be found before the van with the furniture still in it runs out of gas out in the middle of the boonies of Arizona. Seriously, it was about the only knitting project I had the mental capability of doing this week. No pattern to memorize, no counting. MDK, I found you just in time.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bigger Than a Coffee Can

There are two fruit trees in the backyard, at least two that produce edible fruit on a recurring, if erratic, basis. The plum tree yielded absolutely nothing this year. We had too many days of strong winds just when the tree was blooming and again when the few blooms that survived tried to produce very tiny baby plums. The tiny baby plums ended up on the ground and the birds got the two that survived.

The pear tree had a little better luck hanging onto a few pears. What you saw yesterday is pretty much it, though, except for the half-dozen I set aside for the county fair next week. And the one monster pear you see above. It's bigger than the coffee can. Weighs more, too. The birds only picked a little out of the top end.

Pear pie, anyone?

A return to our normally scheduled knitting content tomorrow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

September Bountiful

Sunday, September 10, 2006

History Sunday

A number of years ago, I finally did something I had wanted to do for a long time. I joined a local quilt guild and learned to piece and quilt. I had collected quilt books and patterns for a few years before that, even, but the demands of raising a number of small children precluded me from doing very much craft-wise for quite a while. Once we moved to Arizona from Germany, however, the children were all finally in one school or another and I found more time for needlework interests. I made a number of small doll quilts which were given away, and I participated in several group quilt projects. I made a few small wall hangings for myself and others, and some small quilts as baby/child gifts. I still have two large quilts in the quilting portion of the project, and two or three still in the piecing stage.

This is the largest quilt I have finished to date. And it's not that large, anyways. It's a lap/nap quilt in the Trip Around the World pattern which I made for Barbara and finished eight years ago. It's not very large; I laid it across the bottom portion of my queen-sized bed and it just fits without hanging over the edges. The fabric was all purchased at WalMart because there was no other fabric store in town at the time and Tucson trips were few and far between in those days. The blocks were 2 1/2 inches cut and 2 inches finished size. Three borders of varying widths were added to frame it.

Here is a detail photo of one of the corner border blocks. I quilted in the ditch on all the seam lines. An allover diagonal lines pattern was quilted in the center section. In the wide purple border I quilted an undulating line of feathers; the circle pattern went into the four corners of the purple band (eliminating the need to figure out how to turn the corner with the feather pattern!! Yes, I wimped out!), and the dark purple print outer border had three parallel lines quilted all the way around. I marked the feather and circle patterns in pencil to quilt them; all the other lines were marked with masking tape. The entire quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted. It won the merit award for quilts that year at the County Fair.

I haven't done any quilting or piecing for a while now. Not too long after finishing this quilt, I went back to concentrating on cross stitch and then wandered back fine thread lace crochet. Now I am almost exclusively knitting, but the quilting is whispering my name very unobtrusively lately. I think I'm going to start a bit of non-demanding quilting here soon to balance the knitting out. A bit of variety in life can be pretty nice.

Tonight we head back up to Mesa because the moving van comes tomorrow to get Nana's big furniture moved to my house (and garage). Finding good homes for all the things she is not keeping for herself has been occupying a good portion of time lately. Family heirlooms have been divided among the children as well as useful items; much has been given away to a children's shelter and other charitable organizations. Now only the big furniture is remaining to be dealt with. It's difficult at times breaking down a household into now scattered pieces, but a great deal is still able to remain in the family and a good bit of it is remaining here in our house where Nana will still be able to enjoy some of the furniture and many other things she has always lived with. Hopefully in the end the combining of the two households will be an enhancement to all concerned.

Happy rest-of-the-weekend to all of you. Mine will be busy, and colored tomorrow with the remembrance of five years ago. 9-11; let us never forget.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

After the Rain

Monday, September 04, 2006

Epilogue: LittleLace of the Desert

Momma LittleLace was spending Labor Day taking a break from the first Walker Ranch cattle drive. Oh how she missed the clean air of the Grand Canyon! (You certainly didn't hear her muttering something about spending all day every day looking at and smelling cow butt.)

Moira was spending the weekend back at the Canyon trying to get the d***ed family cabin cleaned up so that the landlord would give her back the security deposit, which she needed to buy all those books required at Wellesley. (No one told her about the collateral expenses.)

Megan and Max the Wonder Sheep were back out in New Hampshire, enjoying the river and waiting to see the leaves turn for fall.

And Magda was still sitting on that park bench (sweating) in her furs and fancy vintage hat, waiting to be discovered by a Hollywood producer.

JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The cast and crew got together this afternoon to enjoy a high-falutin', rip-roarin' good old fashioned cast party, brought on by WINNING PRIZES IN THE AMAZING LACE!!!!! Early this morning it was discovered that the Amazing Lace had awarded PRIZE #6 (Skacel Merino Lace Yarn and other assorted goodies) to the creative effort of LittleLace of the Desert. All parties were quickly contacted and an impromptu party at the home of the author, Pat K, also known as the PumpkinKnitter, was speedily arranged. Much toasting of Academy Award winning performances took place. (And a pox on any member of the cast who suggests that the prize was really awarded to PumpkinKnitter just because she was the one who decided to enter the Amazing Lace in the first place.)
And there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Baby Lace got into the beer cooler and partied a little too hearty.

P.S. Happiness is being able to call your children (the same children who thought that Mom had totally lost her marbles when she was taking lace everywhere and photographing it, not to mention writing stories about it!!!!!) and tell them that prizes, fame, and glory had been achieved.
P.P.S Many thanks to Rachel and Theresa of The Amazing Lace for the best summer KAL and the best prizes!! And thank you again to everyone who commented on LittleLace and cried, laughed, and applauded as the Serial Adventure unfolded.
P.P.P.S. Yes, Maria, I will save you some of the tea. Despite the fact that you, my own daughter, my own child for whom I am paying fortunes in college tuition, wore a disguise when I made you take pictures of me and the lace at the Grand Canyon.