Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Beginner's Amazing Lace Socks

It's the first weekend of the Amazing Lace!

This Amazing Lacey Sock interrupted by the Letter Q.
Is Q for QUITTER? Absolutely NOT.

I've only picked knitting needles back up since December 2005. To learn socks from my mom. Was ready for more than the basic utility - it's okay if you run out to the Jeep for something in stocking feet - socks.

Along came the Amazing Lace.

Pattern: Old Shale 2 - Yarn Socks
Needles: 2 sets of DPN's - size 1
(both socks underway at nearly the same time)
Yarn: Lace cuff (toes & heel)/Patons Kroy Socks - Winter Eclipse; Foot/ Bernat Sox - Blue Hot
Lace Knitting Experience: NONE
Previous skill level: I knew how to KNIT & PURL. Just. There's no wrapping yarn around the fingers; it gets pinched and carried. With purpose. Like I taught myself when I was 8 most likely.

My first attempt at knitting holes on purpose got off to a bit of a shaky start. Stitches were pulled off the needles twice and carefully picked back up. Some of them faced the right direction. One complete do-over ensued. Still have a lot of knitting to do before they become socks . . . but they qualify as lacey at this point!!

2 cuffs are complete!

So this is how a new addiction starts, I'm sure? My thoughts were of lacy knitting attempts even as I finished getting the garden in. Even as I diligently worked on the Letter Q, with Y & X still waiting on the sidelines to be finished, before a sock gets done most likely. School is nearly over and we can't have our 14th Street kindergarteners heading off to 1st grade thinking there are only 23 letters in the alphabet because one of their volunteers decided knitting was more enjoyable. Can we? NO, definitely not.

Monday, May 29, 2006

We've sailed away to South America

Dear Steph,
Sunday dinner at Gram's has been followed up with a trip to Port Glenburn Elementary Playground. 5 year old Kyle, Sara and your mom have climbed aboard the S.S. Sara Abraham Lincoln and sailed away to South America. Gram was last seen sitting on the port bench waving us off, knitting the cuff of a sock in pretty, pretty Candy Print raspberry pinks.

According to Captain Kyle it's 3,867 miles away and there's no danger of us getting lost as he has set the controls of our ship by spinning the math wheels (NO, you can't touch them!) at the top of the tall curvey slide. (This slide has some sort of static electricity thing going on with it, as every time mom slid down it, her denim jeans created enough static that everyone touched got a shock strong enough to light up New York City. She thought this amusing until she shocked herself nearly senseless).

Captain Kyle could not convince Aunt Laudie NOT to go down the slide many, many times into the shark infested waters that surrounded our playground Ship. At the time, he refused to let Sara walk the suspension bridge plank although he has since changed his mind, as she kicked his BIG blue brand new ball against Gram's roof (the sharp metal roof?) and it fell to earth in a flattened puff of plastic/rubber.

I'M TELLING DAD!! (golfing at the time, although he forked over money for Cotton Candy ice cream at BJ's before he left.)

We had a proper burial for the dead ball in the back yard. A two sided marker was made to reflect our sadness. Kyle's side read RIP and he drew the smiley face as he had first drawn it on the actual ball. Mom included a note at the bottom: Sara is really sorry...ROOF SUCKS!
Sara's side of the marker stated: POOP HAPPENS. The dejectedness of your young cousin nearly had Sara driving to town to purchase a replacement ball - but it was a holiday after all.

Telling on her was good enough...And oh, DON'T think he didn't tell daddy on cousin Sara!

Wish you were here in South America!

(no pictures as these clueless tourists forgot their digital camera)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Amazing Lace is about to begin.

Stick around and watch me try to pull something lacey out of my Knitting Bucket!

I have just now requested to be signed up for the Amazing Lace. Knitters around the world will get up off their couches and take their knitting out for a little summer adventure. The main requirement seems to be to knitting in public and putting holes in it...on purpose!

It's called Lace when you put the holes in the right place?

Having never actually knit anything that was supposed to have holes in it, I plan to start off small.

First up will be Old Shale 2-Yarn Socks. If it goes well, I see several pairs of these socks tucked away as Christmas presents. That does mean I'll have to resist the urge to pull them on and walk around in them as soon as they come off the needles.
I suppose.

After that I intend to knit some Over-The-Knee Socks from Holiday Knits.
I have this book through the inter-library loan program and the pattern is all printed out. Perhaps I should buy it. CONCERNED? Well yes, I am. By Round 2 I'll be consulting the abbreviations & Special Techniques section to see how the hell I'm supposed to *P1, RT; Repeat from * around. RT? Mother of god. (Haven't actually specified which year someone might get these as a gift ;)

This Knitting Bucket is a gift from Sam. A Kindergarten thank you gift from last year's Letter People adventure and one of my most prized possessions! It says: This is your Knitting Bucket. ABCDE...XYZ.

An excellent use of the . . . !

UPDATE: Anxious to get started with my first Amazing Lacey Sock, I cast 64 stitches onto size 2 needles. Did I mention I knit a little tight? Pattern says to use size 1. These stitches would be a bit snug if I use 1's!! Not to mention needles would be bent into paper clips after a few Knit 2 Togethers!

By the 3rd YO I wondered randomly if I was YOing in the right direction. The 2nd SSK went dreadfully wrong - slipping off the needle, causing me to rip the first 16 stitches out and start over. Followed by frantic grabbing for a crochet hook to pick up the stitch I had just dropped.

Onward I went through the 4 rows of the first repeat and started the next. Quick check here and it turns out I was NOT yarn over'ing in the right direction and my lacy holes were not so, I don't know... LACEY? I tore out 6 rows and managed to pick 64 teeny little stitches BACK UP - most of them facing the right direction!

I was ready for a lie down while I reflected on my ability to knit holes on purpose.

I finished the 3rd repeat this morning - I hope I'm not last at the check-in.
Will this be an elimination pit stop?

2nd Update: Went to ACMoore's with 40% coupon in hand to buy 2nd set of needles so that both Amazing Lacey Socks might be completed at the same time. The 2's were the wrong color? Bought another set of 1's because they seemed to be the correct color. Disregard the paper clip comment. Apparently my knitting has loosened up a bit.

I was knitting with the 1's all along. I'm an idiot? No, that's harsh.
I'm clueless.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Alphabetically Last !

Alphabetically last is okay by me :)

My name is among the Acknowledgments on page 2 of the new book just out: fast, fun & easy: Fabric Postcards by Franki Kohler. The first fabric postcard I ever made and sent to a stranger is on page 42!

We both discovered the fabric postcard concept through Quilting Arts magazine - issue 14. We both tracked down the group the article mentioned, joined and started begging for another round of swaps to form. Franki took the initiative and started a yahoo group, Postmark'd Art. They're now doing round 4 but I'm sitting out this one, as I have too many things going on. Plus I like finding people I haven't already gotten cards from to trade with.

This fabric postcard is one of my latest:
Prince Charming Kit!

*Kiss NOT included. Use caution opening the lid as we are not responsible for escaping frogs, or defective prince.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I have a thing for African Violets!

African Violets & Friends on the internet

For 20 years my idea of growing African Violets was going to mom's house and liberating a couple in full bloom and bringing them to my house. To finish blooming. And then they usually died. I'll admit it was my fault. I often let them go dry and then watered the crap out of them to make up for it. No matter!

Mom had more; often blooming and in 3 or 4 colors. One that Aunt Vena gave to her often had 2 different colored blooms on the same plant? Turns out that's called a "sport" and not actually a desired result. Leaves from these plants had been passed around relatives and friends for years. So why couldn't I keep them alive for more than 6 months?

I went to the internet several years ago to find out more about the care of African Violets. Figuring they're not supposed to be disposable at the end of each blooming cycle, perhaps I could do better? What I found amazed me. African Violets have NAMES! People trade leaves and collect varieties to the point of addiction. AND host flower shows specifically for AV's. There's even a national organization, African Violet Society of America, that puts out a magazine and hosts a website with loads of info.

I started out on the GardenWeb site and soon found there were several online groups offering advice. Some of the groups were well established, some a little clicky; some actively feuding with each other. A friendly, older gentleman by the name of Fred seemed to be all knowing and everywhere. Always above the fray and wise in the ways of AV care, dispensing logical advice.

And then I discovered an MSN group, The Violet Voice just starting up by a lady in Montana. Mrs. John. I posted a note announcing the news of my find on GardenWeb and was promptly yelled at by Spike the moderator; my first run in with the "we don't play well with others" attitude. No matter! I tried several of the online groups on for fit. This group is the best!

I went into a funk over the winter and lost a bit of my first enthusiasim with growing AV's. I think I took up knitting? There were no blooms and I had way too many plants. Each day I walked past them with a promise of "tomorrow" and it's a wonder any of them survived. An email from Montana to the original Charter Members snapped me out of it and once I owned up to being lazy and ignoring everything I had learned, I renewed my effort with AV's. Just a few short months and the turn around still has me joyfully surprised. Repotting & consistant care did wonders. Plus the golden rule: Grow only the number you have time to care for.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In memory of my sister

Nola Jean Grant
May 16, 1960 - July 3, 1983

Today my sister would be 46; next week I'll turn 47. For 5 days we were the same age (a lot alike) for complete opposites. She was the laughter. The free spirit. Often the leader finding some form of trouble for all of us to get into - a neighborhood full of kids; lots of cousins. It usually seemed like a good idea at the time. She was the one we sent to "ask mom" for something; if it was the only hope. Encouraged with "Mom will say yes to you; cry if you have to!" often she went to get us the response hoped for. She had a temper.
She was no angel.

At 3 our tricycles were hung up in the rafters of the spare room. Out of reach for a month. To this day I'll swear it was all her fault! She bit my face. Little angry teeth marks covered my entire cheek; because I took MY bike back. The one with NO missing shiny hubcap. I saw a tricycle on the side of the road yesterday, waiting for trash day.
I almost rescued it.

Nola was a unit secretary at Eastern Maine Medical Center; on the fourth floor - where cancer often ended the lives of strangers she grew to love; in a very short time. And their passing would break her heart. Until another needed her smile. Her cheer. And their smile back was the thing that made returning to work where people died.
Nearly everyday. Bearable.

Our Guardian Angel watches over us. Her name is Nola.
Nola died at 23.

Five minutes from home. Five minutes from a picnic area on a sunny afternoon. Her boyfriend Lance and our cousin Dwight were in the back seat; his wife Sylvia was driving and baby Faith Ann & Nola were in front.

She volunteered to work on that July fourth weekend so co-workers with children could have the day off. A quick outing after work.
Best Friends together.
Today Dwight remains in a wheelchair.
From that day to this.
Sylvia has remarried.
Annie has a family of her own now.

Witnesses said afterwards the 19 year old was passing everything in sight. The state trooper put William Haney Jr.'s drivers license in my hand the next day. It was said he had been partying, woke up to discover he was late for a job at KFC; so he drove fast. And recklessly. Hitting them nearly head on.
Less than five minutes from home.

I was home with our new baby Sara, born March 18, 1983. Tom had gone fishing for the afternoon and had actually driven past the accident scene, not knowing it was someone he knew. Someone I loved. On July 3rd all of the newness & wonder of having a brand new baby was smashed by grief. Sorrow. Despair. ANGER. Loss. I can still hear a wailing scream in my head when I remember being told the news.

We couldn't find mom and dad. To tell them this awful thing. They'd gone for a ride, met up with friends with an extra bed in their camper and stayed overnight. An impulse drive in the opposite direction we thought they might have gone. An all-points bulletin by the police failed to find them. The vigil began. Waiting in a little trailer next door for mom and dad to come home.I can still hear the scream in my head when I remember telling daddy on his birthday.

They could tell something was wrong.
Something was bad. No, Grammie Grant was okay. So much worse. I don't know how parents get through something like this. I've only experienced it as a sister. Dad took up golf because his older brother recognized he needed something to save his soul. I think it helped. He still plays.

Mom. Today is hardest probably on her. I couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone today. I stopped in yesterday but she wasn't home. I'll call tomorrow. How can another year slip away?

One of the last pictures I have of Nola is of her holding Sara. I knew what LOVE looked like the first time I saw Sara's Aunt Nola hold her.
Look upon baby Sara with love. And I knew what Love (and that look) felt like the first time I held our brother Kevin's baby Kyle.

With sadness and some guilt I know that everything new, every first for our 2 daughters has been measured by me, at least for a moment,
by the absence of Nola. Whenever there's a moment of uncertainty at how long it's been without my sister, I remember it can be measured by the number of birthday candles on Sara's cake. Stephani Nola is enough like her namesake to be a little frightening. Laughter and free spirit. And NO angel!

But I have to believe one watches over them.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Plus I'm deluded.

I admit it.

I'm grinning ear to ear because the Yarn Harlot sent me an email, in reply to a comment I posted on her blog entry:
Curse of the optimist.

"The baby sweater is at such a fine gauge, that the adult sweater actually has way fewer stitches in the whole thing than the baby sweater.

Plus I'm deluded."

It's clearly a case of Procrastiknitting - casting aside a current project for something new. Her word: FAST SUCCESS. I understand completely, even being new to knitting. Plus the Teeny Needles Takes Lots MORE Stitches concept has just started to sink in as well. Size 2 is about small as I ever want to go (with socks at least) anytime soon.

And my newly enhanced yarn STASH has taken on dimensions that frankly have me CONCERNED. A local yarn shop with a sign in the window that reads "BRING IT ON! Every item 50% OFF" caught my attention on Monday. Unfortunately the sign next to it said CLOSED Sunday & Monday. Seriously. 20 minutes each way and gas at $2.89. Made me (almost) glad the patio table I bought on Monday had one leg that was an inch shorter than the other 3, all the screw holes lined up in the wrong place and it's curve bent at the wrong angle. Making a return trip excusable? No. Reasonable.

Some assembly required:
I noticed right away that one leg seemed a "little off". This should have been a heads up, so why the freaking table still tilted 3 hours later should not have been a mystery. Back we trooped to the store for a one chance only replacement. Went together in about 10 minutes.

And $50 worth of sock & felted bag yarn has been mixed in with all the rest of my stash before anyone might notice she's buying more yarn when she's already got more than she can knit in 6 months. The real CONCERN is that the sale goes on through all this week.