The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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

Monday, December 31, 2007

One Last Hurrah

Maria's socks.

Pattern: Ann Budd's On-Your-Toes socks, from IK Summer 2007.

Needles: Size 1.

Yarn: Regia Spirit Color #5725.

Modifications: Made ankle socks instead of longer leg. After heel was finished, did 18 rows of K2, P2 for the cuff.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tea and Spices

There are a few pictures of gifts, besides cheese, that are worth sharing. Michael's girlfriend Carolyn, who is Irish and a talented Irish dancer, gave me a basket full of tea time treats. (Alright, she gave it to Joe, too, but he's mostly a heathen when it comes to tea and such.)

Two boxes of tea and Cadbury chocolate.

What I would call cookies, and what Joe calls tea cookies, and what the packages call "digestive biscuits". The term delights me. Can anyone enlighten me as to what exactly is meant by that? At any rate, they are very good. I may have to make afternoon tea a habit.

The grandbabies Veronica and Felicity, with Mom's help, made Grandma and Grandpa some gifts. A wreath made of handprints; don't you just love the little handprint bow?

And spice cookie ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree. Our first gifts "handmade" by grandbabies.

Maria's socks should be finished today, one last project completed for the year. I think I've decided what I'll start on New Year's day. It will be a scarf. But at least one sweater must get knit this year. We're going to Alaska in September and I really ought to have a handknit sweater. And lots of scarves, mitts, hats, etc. But must have a sweater. I've been perusing EZ's books and am strongly leaning that way. It's probably the only way to get something that will fit the way I want. Any thoughts on a good EZ sweater for a first attempt?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Package in the Garage

It can be rather disconcerting, two days before Christmas, to find a wrapped package in the old refrigerator in the garage. No tags. No clues. Except that it obviously needs to be kept cold. For that matter, it wouldn't have to be in the old refrigerator. The garage itself right now is one gigantic icebox.

Christmas went pretty much according to plan, except that Nana did not want to leave the comfort zone of her room at the care center and did not come home on either the eve or the day. We didn't open gifts until afternoon when Joe was totally done with his church duties. Annie already had received her gift. She had been wanting a good electric keyboard for her apartment and we found her an excellent used one. The past few days have been filled with music in the house again.

The front hallway after the ritual opening of the gifts and flinging of the paper.

Although I wrote out a Christmas list that hinted at sock yarn, I didn't get any this year. Probably just as well. I've got lots of yarn in the stash already, although Barbara, who has appropriated the Branching Out scarf, thinks that I need to start knitting sweaters. Not for me, of course, but for a teenager who might just condescend to wear one. And I probably should, but there's all that sock yarn, and all that laceweight I've stashed now, and lots of yarn for scarves and shawls. I've been trying to decide what project I will start on New Year's day. I'm pretty sure it will be a scarf in something special and pretty, just Which One? Then again, I've been looking at all my counted cross stitch patterns, and the quilts and the pieced tops that are waiting patiently. It's quite cold and bitterly windy out tonight (sorry, Buddy, don't think we're going to walk tonight!) and the thought of curling up on the couch with a warm quilt on my lap is quite tempting. But I want to finish Maria's other sock before she goes back to school, and then I want to get Felicity's blanket finished, and the Cherry Leaf Shawl is sitting on the sewing machine with the drop spindle, both waiting for attention...Perhaps I should quit working and housework and just knit and spin and quilt all day. Quite a plan, provided I don't plan on eating. Or doing the laundry. Or...Anyways, I'm making a New Year's resolution to try and relax a bit about things and spend more time doing knitting and spinning and quilting and creating. There's too much that I want to do. And Ravelry doesn't help.

The box in the refrigerator? Some of my favorite cheese from Michigan. Gotta love a man who knows what I like.


Monday, December 24, 2007

December 007 -- Silent Night

December. What does one write about this last and, in a way, greatest of months?

This is the chapel in Frankenmuth, Michigan, dedicated to the hymn, "Silent Night". It is an exact replica of the chapel in which the hymn was first sung, that Christmas Eve so long ago.

Silent night. I've been thinking a lot about silence, lately. It seems that a number of things I've picked up to read, and a number of sermons and meditations recently have been about silence, and the lack of it in the modern world.

Everywhere we go, there is the blare of television, stereos, cell phones and loud conversations of private nature in public places. Especially in December. Already several weeks have been spent hearing the constant pitch of advertisements practically shoving us into buying, buying, buying. This will be the perfect Christmas, we are told, if only we buy the right necklace or Ipod or cellphone or SUV. The more money spent, the more perfect the Christmas, or so the story goes. And the chaos in our ears and mind and soul goes on. Christmas carols and movies, some sacred, some stupid, even some profane, assault our eyes and ears constantly. And it goes on and on, building to a fever pitch that culminates on December 25th. Then what? The very next day the trees are thrown out on the street, the decorations are turned off or taken down, and there is nary a Christmas carol to be heard anywhere.

This is not the true Christian (Catholic) tradition, although you have to look to find the real Advent being kept. The last few weeks of Advent are meant to be a time of silence, of waiting, perhaps even of fasting and extra prayer, all preparing for the true feast which begins tonight. A time of silence...

Each Advent I do my best to follow the true meaning of the season. Yes, we decorate about halfway through December, and I certainly enjoy my Christmas movies (classics all) and CD's. I enjoy seeing the lights go up on houses around the neighborhood, although I've noticed that this year there are a lot less. But I do not enjoy the constant bombardment of material promises for a wonderful season, as though that were all there were to life. I lost my sense of Christmas as a time for material gain a long time ago. Instead each December I have sought the spiritual, and each year I have not been disappointed.

Silent night. Our pastor tells us that Christmas and Christ must be found in the silence, that only in silence can we hear His voice, only in silence can we find our true selves, strength, wisdom, and the center of ourselves. Silence has always been important to me. In my evening walks with Buddy, in hiking by myself at the Canyon, in finding places in nature to be silent and meditate, I find my strength, my center, my peace.

Silent night. May the world one day find silence, and wisdom, and peace; the ever-renewing gifts of the Christ Child. Then all will be calm, all will be bright. Sleep tonight, world, in heavenly peace.


A Long Weekend

It's been a long weekend. On Friday I dealt with a client who, I later found out, had been ill for a day or so. Saturday morning it became all too clear that he had infected me with whatever and I was told to go home. It didn't take much convincing to get me out of there. Saturday was rather a rotten day, all told. Sunday was better, but even this morning I'm not so sure that I'm entirely better. It must be said, though, that in eleven and a half years at this particular job, this is the only time that I am quite positive that I got ill as a direct result of client contact.

So I spent Saturday on the couch watching football and some Christmas movies with Joe, who so far does not seem to be infected with anything except the seasonal football-itis. I knit on Maria's sock. Unending 2x2 rib seemed to be just the ticket. Although yesterday when we did a progress try on, she decided that she would like it best as a low crew top and I ripped out basically everything that I knit on Saturday. No matter; the therapeutic value had been there and that was what mattered on Saturday. So the progress picture you see here is actually pretty close to what the finished sock looks like now.

I did start on for the second sock. This time I had no problems with the Turkish cast on, although it seems awful fiddly to start with.

Joe took over the kitchen on Saturday and Sunday to bake bread for his signature Christmas gifts. He even did a fair job of keeping the kitchen mess under control. Here is the Saturday output of stollen (German fruit bread):

Today all the kids are home and it's time to do a last minute clean up of the house. Nana has a four hour pass from the care center for today and tomorrow. Tonight we are going to the 6:00 pm children's Mass and pageant. It's been years since I've had a kid in a Christmas pageant but we still get an amazing kick out of going. There's no better way to start out the real Christmas celebration. Then Joe, Maria, and I will go back for midnight Mass, as well as any others who want to join us. Maria and I will be singing in the choir and Deacon Joe will be assisting on the altar. In the morning Joe will be assisting again at Mass while I make the festive Christmas breakfast and we make our annual morning trip to the Stable on the Mountain. Presents will be opened and dinner will be enjoyed in the afternoon when Nana is able to be here. The standing rib of beef is thawing today and I can't keep the kids out of the Christmas kitchen where the cookie tins are stored. It's going to be a busy time.

Merry Christmas to all of you and yours, and many blessings this Holy Night!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Properly Done

I'm long overdue for a proper blog entry. Now, though, that the house is decorated, the two trees are up, the outside lights are finally strung, and the shopping is done (YESSSSS!) I can sit down and write one...in between batches of cookies baking and batches of laundry!

Back two weeks ago (see how awfully behind I am?) Kelly at The Gabby Knitter nominated me for the "Nice Matters Award". I quote what Kelly wrote: "It is to be awarded to “Those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. ” I was really touched and honored by her nomination. If anything at all, this describes what I aim for in blogging. Not just knitting (because there's been precious little of that the last few weeks), but making friends and being friends and trying to bring something uplifting to that small portion of the world that I can reach. And Kelly, bless her, has made me feel that I've succeeded at least in some small way. Thank you, Kelly!

Now I know that I'm supposed to nominate another seven bloggers for this award, but I think I'm going to wait until the Christmas frenzy is over. I know that it will probably be that long until many of us start thinking about blogging again with any regularity.

There may have been precious little knitting, but the Mystery Socks are finished! I think that's my eleventh pair of socks. I will show you them in January, as well as the goodies I've picked up for my secret pal.

The Toe-Up socks got some time in, and I was charging along when I discovered that they were coming out too small for me. I knew I should have made them 72 stitches instead of 64! I was all set to frog them when Maria, who is home for Christmas break, wandered by and asked what I was doing? She tried them on and lo and behold, a perfect fit! So now instead of frogging I am knitting these for her. Finally, a kid who wants a pair of handknit socks!

Big Cat says, "I'm Mommy's helper. I check everything out before she hangs it on the tree." Little Cat is hiding. She undecorates the tree faster than I can decorate it.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WWMW - Storm's A Comin'

There are things to be eventually blogged about, for which there just isn't time now to do a proper job. It's the usual seasonal rush of Christmas shopping and decorating and wrapping and mailing off which is sucking up all my blog time and most of my knit time, as if you didn't already know it yourselves. But I still make a point of walking once or twice a day with Buddy. He doesn't let me forget. And I can't imagine not walking. It relaxes me, settles my mind, helps me to think things through and sort things out. It's my daily meditation for my mental health, because if I called it exercise and thought about it as such, I would soon lose interest in it. So just a few pictures for today. We are getting a winter storm and snow is in the forecast. The clouds are looming. Brrrr!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WWMW - Goal!

When I started with Runagogo in January, it was with the goal of walking one hundred miles by April 1. I measured out some walking routes, grabbed my trusty walking companion Buddy and started out with great determination. I made that goal and then, along with the rest of the GoGo crowd, set further goals as the year went on. Although I walked some of those miles while on vacation at the Grand Canyon and other places, Buddy was my steady companion for the vast majority of those miles. And on Monday night, we made our final goal for the year -- four hundred miles. Good Buddy! Go ahead and take a nap now; you deserve it!

While Buddy and I will certainly keep walking, I won't be keeping track of miles anymore, at least not on the blog. One of the great pleasures I have is being able to walk three mornings a week, as normally I only work four days a week. There is no better way, I think, to start the day than to do so with a walk that takes in some beautiful scenery. And since there are mountains in every direction, the scenery is never lacking. Even out in the backyard, the rosemary is still blooming and pine cones are heavy on my pine tree.

It seems like more than just a few knitbloggers are attempting to knit up all their WIPs before the end of the year. While that would be impossible for me to do, I am working up a real desire to finish my projects off. I've been working on the Moderne Baby Blanket, and tonight I am turning the heel on the second Mystery sock. These socks are the only thing this year that I am knitting on a deadline. It doesn't seem to have been as good of a year for getting knitting time in as last year was; at least that's how it seems to me. Sometimes I get frustrated at not having more FOs to show you all, but believe me, I am enjoying the knitting process thoroughly when I do sit down with needles in hand. And whenever I find myself getting discouraged at not getting more done, quantity wise, I remind myself that it is quality, not quantity, that counts. If I am enjoying the process, and it is giving me a measure of calmness and peacefulness and pleasure, then it doesn't matter how many pairs of socks or how many scarves or shawls I finish. The knitting is doing what it is meant to do.

But I still do want to finish things, and I wish I could show you the Mystery socks. But I can show you the new pair of gauntlets I have cast on. I figure it's not to early to start knitting for next Christmas, since I'm not going to make it with anything for this one. The pattern is Natalya by Jody Pirrello and the yarn is Brown Sheep Prairie Silk in Jewelled Moss. I had an urge to do some cables and this will fill the need quite nicely. And this is the first piece I am doing cables without a cable needle. Who would have thought it would be so simple?

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