Friday, December 26, 2008


It’s amazing how much effort we put into preparing for Christmas when all of a sudden the day is spent. Everything is over. You collapse in a heap of fatigue and satisfaction and wonder… is really over?

This past month has been a flurry of shopping, decorating, cooking, and knitting feverishly to finish those last minute gifts. It was nice to have a few days off before Christmas to prepare at my leisure. The results were quite nice….

Our tree….

My table….
My mother made this beautiful flower arrangement at her class.

The stockings were hung by the chimney…..

The day was glorious, filled with people and good conversation. The weather also cooperated by holding off the rain while we went of a photo scavenger hunt around town.

The weather being cold and rainy has inspired me to make simple knitwear again. I’ve been thinking about my stash and how I can use it up. Hats have been on my needles. They are quick and can be as simple or elaborate as you want them. I trade off between the two. One is complicated and the other is simple. This gives me the quick gratification of finishing something as well as the challenge of working towards a great looking cap for someone. One of the hats I made was Coronet Hat, a simple cable hat. It turned out great except that I had to graft the ends together in kitchener stitich, which is not my favorite stitch. The hat looks great.

This is a Koolhaas hat in progress...

I’ve also acquired an obsession in making the Calorimetry head bands. I’ve wore my red one all week. I’ve given some for Christmas Presents. They knit up in about an hour, depending on whether you are using bulky or thinner yarn and needles. If using wool, they are warm and smooth back your hair without hiding it in a full hat.

As the year winds down I’m feeling the need to clear out things I don’t use. Perhaps another New Year’s resolution in the making……..

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blessings of Family

There are moments in life when sudden unexpected events in life causes one to stop and reorganize priorities in life to Thank God for his blessings of Family.

Upon arriving home from work, I received a call from my son’s partner the weekend before Thanksgiving. She was taking her mother to the hospital and asked if I could help my son take care of his 3-month old son and 2-year old daughter. He had not taken care of both alone. I immediately went to their home but in the back of my mind, I was thinking whether I should cancel all the Thanksgiving plans I had made. This year, my work was given the delightful surprise of being allowed to take the full Thanksgiving week off. I had planned a full week of cooking and decorating to celebrate this Thanksgiving at my house with my family.

It was beginning to look like I would be spending my preparation days, babysitting as the other grandmother continued to be hospitalized and then convalesced at home, unable to take care of the grandchildren, which was her usual arrangement. As I contemplated how I would prepare for Thanksgiving, arriving home exhausted from 12 hr days with my active grandchildren, I started receiving calls. I was getting offers from the invitees to bring the turkey and all the fixings. My husband and son pitched in to help clean the house while I was gone. Little by little it all came together so that we all celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving together. It really brought the true meaning of being in a “family” home to us all.

On those exhausting days, I didn’t have the energy to even pick up the knitting needles. However, I found that spinning helped me relax and think about the days activities. I loved being with my grandchildren. It brought back precious memories of raising my boys. My two oldest were about the same age difference. I remember the days of exhaustion juggling feedings, diaperings and entertaining an active two-yr-old.

As I was spinning, it gave me time to think and my thoughts wandered to how best to use my spun yarn. With so many projects started, I strayed away from starting another involved project and toward making simple Charity hats from my handspun yarn. As Christmas is near, I picked a soft red and green Romney wool yarn I dyed two summers ago. I decided to experiment with a basket stitch but gave it up when I saw how this yarn was a nice self-striping yarn. These are some of the results…..

Another hat I started was Jared Flood’s Koohaas Hat. I found a skein of handspun grey merino and decided to figure this pattern out. Lo and behold, I realized that he wrote this pattern for my style of knitting (Eastern Uncrossed), which is “through the back loop”. The single cables make it go slow, but once the pattern is established, the knitting progressed at a steady pace. I think I’ll offer it to my son, who is traveling to The White House to sing for the Holidays with his choral group. The weather will be chilly and the warm hat may help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November spinning

I’ve become a little tired of knitting lately and have taken up spinning. I’ve become somewhat frustrated with my projects. Several of them need some correction or ripping back because of mistakes discovered after the fact. Right now I just don’t have the heart to do this so they have stalled in hibernation. I am so overwhelmed brainwise with work projects that I just cannot invest another neuron’s effort to figure out how to correct them at this time.

Soo…for the mundane thoughtless work, I’ve taken up spinning. This is an activity that doesn’t take too much thinking. I’ve finished up some bumps of roving I’ve purchased. The ½ lb of Louet Ocean wave roving I purchased at Lambtown this summer is all spun. It gave me about 3 ½ skeins of sport wt 2 ply. I also spun up 3 skeins of grey merino roving I had processed about a year ago. This roving ended up with a few neps and irregularities but this is what gives a garment character. I will probably make some hats from this.

We were planning to go the Alpacafest West this weekend. This was a chance to buy some alpaca fiber or fleece and see over 100 lovely alpacas. I went last year and purchased a beautitul white alpaca fleece that I had not touched since. I decided to go through my stash to see what colors I did not have. I found a beautiful chocolate red, black, grey and of course, the white. All of this was still in the unwashed fiber stage. I was feeling rather guilty and decided I didn’t need another fleece until I did something with what I had.

We ended up not going to Alpacafest because suddenly there were wild fires in Diamond Bar and other areas that blanketed the whole San Gabriel Valley with dangerous smoke and particle matter that made it very difficult to breathe. I hope the alpacas didn’t suffer too much outside. I ended up staying inside, washing a bit of the white alpaca and spinning it up. It came out so nice and soft. I’m dreaming about dyeing it.

So now I need to wash some more alpaca. In the waiting time, for drying, I found some washed Coopworth and decided to card it into batts. I placed the carded batts into a under the bed plastic sweater container for a ready to spin source of fiber.

Next week I have the whole week of Thanksgiving off. Guess what I will be doing? Yes, besides cooking, I’ll be spinning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicken and Dumplings

We were able to plan an escape Halloween weekend. It was nice to be able to knit and not think of our daily troubles and circumstances. We took our son with us, who experienced Laughlin, NV for the first time. Laughlin was decorated for the holiday. We had a great time. It was just the perfect thing to refresh our batteries.
We arrived feeling somewhat like this…….

And came home feeling like this……..

Since then I’ve been spinning a lot and knitting. I’ve been making the Dumpling Bag from the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knit designed by Sharon Dreifuss of She-Knits podcast. This is a very easy pattern that is very quick. I cranked out three bags in three days. The hard part for me is trying to create a design to decorate it. It’s been awhile since I embroidered anything and I have just about forgot my stitches.

On the first bag, I somewhat copied from the pattern. It was lovely unfelted but I went ahead and felted it. The French knot embroidery did not come out well and I may have to needle felt them down after it dries completely.

Here is a few pictures of the bag.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Coping and More Family Loss

Regardless of the turmoil in my heart surrounding my great aunt’s passing, I didn’t have much of a chance to grieve.

My brother-in law and sister-in-law were traveling to California from Missouri and they were to stay with us for the weekend. It was very nice to see them. We rarely get to see each other, since my husband refuses to travel in that direction of the country. As my brother-in-law now is retired, they now have a chance to visit family at their leisure. How lucky they are! Sigh! They were able to see all of three sons and the grandchildren too.
I think they enjoyed being here. We are a very quiet family and after visiting relatives with young children, I think they needed some quiet to rest and relax.

I was so thrilled to see my sister-in-law loves to crochet afghans. She asked my help to start a new pattern. Her afghan has inspired me to start one too. I looked through different patterns until I came across the Catherine’s wheel. It is a very intriguing pattern one can make solid or change colors in patterns anyway you want. I was intrigued and looked through my stash until I found some worsted colors that would go together perfectly. I am using a 3-ply variegated cotton and blue, grey and maroon color of Caron’s Simply Soft. I am making a twin size coverlet. So far it looks great…..take a look…..

When I get bored, I challenged myself to try to make a jester hat from an article in the Magazine “Knit It 2002”. The hat was designed by Linda Cyr called ZigZag Accessories. Of course, I tried looking it up in Ravelry first to see if anyone else had attempted it. There were very few and one made a comment that the directions were not very understandable . Her outcome was not the best.

Nevertheless, despite the warning I tried to made sense of the pattern. I doubled the worsted yarn since I didn’t have bulky in a color I liked. I restarted twice but finally did the top piece. I started the side and realized Linda left out an important part of the pattern. I even tried to look up errata from the publisher to no avail. I became so frustrated and impatient I quit. I realized that there had to be a better way to make this. Her directions called for sewing the bottom half of the diamond to the side of the hat, but I’m sure that doing this part in “intarsia “ would probably be much easier and perhaps better constructed. I gave up for now. Perhaps, I’ll come back to it when I’m feeling more experimental and patient.

I finally knit a furry hat instead with Patons Cha Cha that I had hanging around. I am being so good in trying to use my stash. I even gave some away to my sister –in-law. Isn't that great?! Now I have someone with whom I can unload my unused stash.

I guess the respite from overwhelming emotion was not to last. I just had some more bad news. My niece’s husband passed away very suddenly at age 44 from a pulmonary embolism. This indeed is tragic. He was just a good father, husband and all around good Christian person. I know the Lord has His reasons, but it is still a hard pill to swallow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tragic Circumstances

Twenty plus days have gone by and I have not blogged. I think I’m stuck, caught up in the mundane disappointments of life trying to understand how people can treat others they don’t know with unkindness and disrespect. How quickly people make bad judgments and almost certainly(I hope), if one has a conscience, regret the actions, when one takes time to think how an evil slanderous tongue can destroy much.

I mentioned a shadow hanging over our celebration in the previous entry. My mother’s 87 yr old aunt was invited to attend the celebration. She was not at the prearranged site to bring her to our celebration. She was a widow living with another person whom she rented a room in her home. She did not return our calls, and we worried. It was unlike her to forget an engagement, especially a family celebration. Later that week, we were informed she was in the hospital in a coma, having fallen down the stairs two days before the birthday dinner. It was worse than we thought. She had broken her neck at C2 spine and had been on life support for over a week without notification, and the doctor’s were considering termination of life support.

When a family grieves, one goes through the stages of grieving: shock, blaming, anger, bargaining, and finally acceptance. Things could have gone more smoothly and peacefully, but emotions cause some family to want to find blame for what happened. Many accusations, misspent anger and non-communication, failure to be objective and lack of level headedness has caused such pain all around.

I pray for peace and forgiveness all around. She was allowed to pass on Sunday, Oct 5, and we have yet to find closure in a funeral. There is to be an autopsy, although I see this as a worthless endeavor. Some are searching for the magic bullet, the piece that could validate supposed accusations of a relationship that none really understood and were not privy too.

I only see disappointment in unwise elders, who intend to think the worse of an accident they had no control over. I see the revelation and damage done from a wicked heart that is evidenced by a unrepenting slanderous tongue.

I pray for peace and forgivenss in my extended family.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Holidays and Lace Reading

Have you started your Holiday Knitting yet? Some may think that if you haven’t started yet, it might be too late. Perhaps…..soo….I have some to catch up. The problem with holiday knitting is the idea of starting new projects and putting aside the ones you’re in love with. It takes a lot of self control to tear oneself away from those project to focus on other people, but nevertheless, necessary to your sanity, especially if your set on knitting gifts.

So, what am I going to do for the holidays? Who am I going to knit for this year? I tend to be a realist and KNOW that I cannot knit for every member of my family. The most immediately circle of family who gathers together for most family events amounts to 15 people plus a new baby.
My fingers are still itching to spin more. I just spun up about 500 yards of superwash roving in a sock weight yarn. I still need to decide how to dye these skeins to make a nice pair of socks for someone.
I had spun up some mohair not too long ago. It came out so soft and I wondered what I could make out of it. Since I was thinking about the holidays, I ran across last years Holiday Issue of Interweave Knits and rediscovered a beautiful pattern for Sugarplum shrug. This would be perfect with the mohair. I tried to start this pattern before and failed. At that time, I had barely tried lace patterns and this one did not have a chart. So through much frustration and several restarts, I quit and ripped it out.

Now, having had some lacework behind my belt experiencewise, I decided to do it right and swatch first. I used a smooth sport wt yarn to learn the patterns and was eventually successful after some experimenting with my style of knitting. If I could not get this to work with smooth yarn, I knew not to attempt it with the mohair, especially because ripping it out would be disasterous. All the fine fuzzy hairs would tangle and felt to no end. What I need was some confidence with the lace pattern! I learned to read my knitting. Read Knitting? What’s that, you might be asking? It is being so familiar with the directions of the decreases and knowing and predicting where a yarn overs should go, to get the outcome or pattern you want. This is a predictable diamond pattern, which makes it much easier than I expected. Of course, a chart would have been very helpful, but I think I have it in my head now. The swatch came out great. However, I think the lace border may still need some work. Luckily, it is made separately and sewn on afterwards. I decided to start the body with the lace pattern and it is coming out beautifully.
On the family front, we celebrated by Mom's 80th birthday this weekend. We had a lovely dinner. My brother gave her a beautiful rose corsage. It was a wonderful day with just a minor shadow hanging over it. More about that later........

Does she look 80?????Never!!!! Always young at heart too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Idle Hands

I’ve been sick with a cold all week. Felt it coming on slowly since Monday. I was out from work Wed and Thurs. Back to work on Friday, although not 100%. Today, it’s now it my chest. It’s the pits! Thursday was my 32nd wedding anniversary and I was sick! How the Lord tests me! Hopefully, we’ll celebrate this weekend.

Being home gave me a chance to knit and spin, I’ve spun a lot of skeins of mohair trying to make a dent in the fleece I have. It came out soft and lovely but it seems I’m spinning the never-ending fleece. I still have lots to spin.

I finally got tired of mohair and switched to some left over Romney wool. After spinning Mohair, I felt the Romney was too scratchy, so I plied it with some gold tencel roving. It softened it up a bit.

I’ve been working on a variety of knit projects: the fuzzy feet slippers, the Hey Teach! Sweater, dug out my pink striped socks and tried to fix them-still a work in progress. I’ve been knitting the 2nd sleeve for the Babies and Bears sweater. And when I grew bored or tired, I gazed lovingly at my Gerber daisies which are blooming wonderfully and lift my spirits.

I’ve been reading the “No Idle Hands:the Social History of American Knitting” by Anne L. Macdonald. It is so great to hear the hidden history of the Revolutionary War and the courage of the women who used their cunning and skills to gather women together to knit and sew clothing and wool socks for George Washingtons troups at Valley Forge . They passe through blockades in the middle of war, in the cold of winter, to get these desperately needed items to them. They found the troops, by following the bloody footprints in the snow of soldiers who had no socks and shoes to wear. Women worked to spin and knit 24 hours a day to meet the needs of the soldiers and those of their families, which in that time was quite large. Talk about labor intensive!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Color!

My babies, my Gerber daisies, are doing great! I am relieved that they have made it through the hottest part of the summer. The reds and pinks are blooming like crazy. The yellows have made a slow start but I am seeing some small buds starting to spring up and I’m sure they will bloom in a few days. It seems my “brown thumb” is fading. The plants look very healthy. I am wondering how long their season is? It would be nice if I can keep they blooming all year. They are so beautiful.

I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been too busy working, knitting and spinning. I have two new projects on my needles. I’ve started to make some Christmas presents, again knitting some fuzzy feet for special people. This time, however, I tried adapting the pattern to do “toe-up”, which means I won’t have to finish the toe. Kitchener stitch is not a favorite, and toe-up means no kitchener. Yea! So far they are coming out OK, I tried to make them a little bigger as to fit a large male foot. It’s not easy to know for sure if they will shrink enough in the felting process, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I started organizing my paper patterns in binders……yes, bindersssssss! I had no idea how many I had. I created a database to inventory all my patterns and search where they are located. What a chore! I had no idea I had so many. Too many to actually make them. Still they inspire me.

The other project I started was a sweater I found on called Hey Teach! It looks like it would look great on any body shape. I found some stash cotton I had and cast on. This time I started with the sleeve to determine if it was doable before I knitted several skeins worth of stockinette. It ended up very easy and I can’t wait to get to the pattern again.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Approaching Fall

I was going to write that I don’t have much to share this week. On second thoughts, perhaps I do.

I’ve had a busy week at work, conducting Health Trainings for teachers, trying to plan for the start of school this week. It has been a week of tragedy for me and one of my co-workers. She got news that a close family member was very ill and had to leave the country to be with family. I received news that my Godmother passed away. She was 82. She had Alzheimer’s. I’m just thankful, my mother, who was one of her best friends since childhood, and I had a chance to see her in January. We drove down to San Diego where she was living in an assisted living center. It still confounds me how her daughters could send her so far away from friends and family in Los Angeles County. At that time, she remembered us and was happy to see us. The memorial service was very nice, much nicer than I expected.

On the crafting front, I’ve been knitting baby booties and spinning mohair. I haven’t felt like doing much else. I’ve been too tired.

Now that Fall is about to start, I am going to have to start thinking about making Christmas gifts. I want to try to make things from my stash. Can I do it? It’s a mighty thing to consider. Neverthless, I really need to make an effort to use my stash or I will be forced to give it away.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ravelympics Closing Ceremonies

Ravelympics close

Out of the 4 projects I planned to complete from my Event WIP (Work in Progress) Wrestling for the Ravelympics 08, I finished 3. So I have earned “3” Gold Medals and posted my Bobicus Avatar on my blog. Bob is the Ravelry dog and Mascot. Isn’t he cute?

The main one was the Cotton Sampler Vest. It came out beautifully. It is somewhat big but for me this is what I like. I think I was meant to finish it at this time. When I began it several years ago, I weighed less and it would have been like a balloon and I would have tossed it then. Having gain 10 or so pounds over the years, this Vest now fits me better. The different stitch patterns were very interesting to do. It was a mix of easy, such as the Box lace pattern to a Medium difficulty of Feather and Fan, and to the more difficult Arrowhead lace pattern. Unfortunately, it does not progress in the order of difficulty. The expertise level of the pattern was “Intermediate” and I think this was correct. I would not recommend this pattern to a beginner.

My second project was the Pinwheel Baby Blanket I was making for my new grandson, who was born Aug 19. It was a lot of stockinette with yarn over increases to increase the circular blanket. I was trying to estimate how big to make it. It ended up being over 500 stitch and about 4 ft diameter. I added an easy crochet lattice border which came out quite nice and helped the edges from curling. I wet blocked it, but it probably need a little steam blocking to relax the curl more. I love the light green color.

The third project was finished the Baby Kimono from Mason Dixon Knitting. I made it with Sugar and Cream Cotton that I had handpainted with green and pink Procion MX dyes. This knitted up fast, but I’m not a big finisher and put off sewing it up until now. I think next time I would make it in a sport weight cotton rather than worsted weight. It seems thick to me for a baby.

Introducing the newest member of our family B.A. H. Weighed 8 lb 10 oz. 22 inches long, just
like his dad, my eldest son.
He has a lot of hair, but this tends to run in my family. Mom and baby are doing very well and his sister is happy too.