Thursday, March 25, 2010

I really don't know what to say.

It all started innocently enough about three weeks ago.  I found this lovely pattern for a little bolero shrug, and thought it would be perfect for an upcoming island trip in mid-June.

So I picked up some Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Taupe (because I figured Taupe will go with pretty much everything, and I presently have no clue what I'm going to wear under it), and with instructions at the ready I cast on and went merrily on my way.   The three inches of k2 p2 rib was just the right amount to avoid getting bored.  Time for the lace pattern!

This pattern is short and sweet, concisely written, and the lace pattern is easy to memorize.  Pretty, isn't it?

It would probably be even prettier if I had followed instructions.  

I am now 15.5 inches into this project...three weeks later...about two evenings a week of relaxing repetition...without adult beverages, I might add...and it's time to revert back to k2 p2 rib to complete the top.  Or bottom.  I'm not sure which.  It's basically a rectangle before you seam it, so it probably doesn't matter.  What matters is this:

Do you see it?  Do you see that part that says "Switch to size 8 needles now..."?  Well, I saw it.  And I dug into my handy dandy interchangeable needle kit to switch back to my size 8 needles, only to discover that I had only one size 8 needle in my handy dandy interchangeable needle kit.  My other size 8 needle was missing!  Where could it be?  Who had been pilfering my handy dandy interchangeable needle kit?  My knit-up friends aren't the pilfering type, so it certainly couldn't be them.  My husband doesn't knit.  Neither does the dog.  I don't have any other projects going right now with the exception of socks, and we all know those don't use size 8 needles, now don't we?

And then I discovered it.  My other size 8 needle wasn't missing at all.

It was on the end of my cable. Opposite my size 10.5 needle.  The one that was supposed to have a matching 10.5 needle on the other end of the cable, but whose matching 10.5 needle was tucked snugly in my handy dandy interchangeable needle kit.

One of these things is not like the other.

No wonder that one row seemed a little tight on the needle.  And maybe that explains why the lace pattern seems to slant to the right.  Heck, I don't know.  I seriously don't know what to say about it all (she says, despite the fact that she's been rambling for several paragraphs...).  I'm still sitting here wondering how I went three weeks without noticing I was knitting with needles of two (noticeably) different sizes.

Obviously, the lack of adult beverages was NO help at all.  Hmph.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Forty-three years ago, my parents bought a 160-acre property in rural northern California. It was what would be known today as a "hobby farm". We moved there when I was two, and I grew up there. At the time we called it a ranch, though in retrospect I know it doesn't qualify due to its size. We grew alfalfa, grain, pasture grass, and over the years raised beef, dairy cows, chickens, pigs, kept bees and extracted honey (if you've never extracted honey, I highly recommend it!), had dozens of barn cats, two fox terriers, and had a couple of horses around for general purposes.

The house was nothing to write home about...built by the original owners in the 1940's, it has always been obvious that many corners were cut. Insulation was apparently deemed an unnecessary luxury, and the plumbing and wood stove flue/chimney would often set my Dad reciting a string of expletives that I've yet to master (think "A Christmas Story" and the boiler in the basement, and you'll get the idea). By the time we moved to the property, two of the six kids were already grown and gone, which made the three-bedroom, one-bath setup a bit more bearable...only six people to accommodate!

Our view out the front window was of Mt. Shasta. 14,162 feet of wondrous Cascade volcano. No matter where life and travels take me, I always get a special feeling when I round a corner on the highway and see that mountain come into view...I'm instantly home.

At some point along the way--I don't remember the exact year--Dad and Mom sold half of the property, leaving them with a more manageable 80 acres. When one of my four brothers returned from college with his degree in field agronomy and became engaged, they sold half of the 80 to him and his new wife.

I learned about responsibility and work ethic on this property. My Dad worked full time as an appraiser for the county before retiring in 1982. Watching him work a full time job, and then work a second full time job irrigating, haying, calving, feeding, milking cows, etc. gave me an appreciation for doing what needs to be done.  The rewards were tangible, and the most basic of farm chores stay with me today in the form of fond memories.  To this day, one of my favorites is getting up with Dad around 4:00 - 4:30 a.m., climbing on the tractor with the baler in tow, and baling hay for a few hours while watching the sun come up over the mountains that rim the Shasta Valley.  The smells, sights, and sounds of that experience will be with me forever.  It was heaven on earth.

And now, the time has come for a new chapter for this beautiful piece of property.  Since Dad passed away in 1984 (having only two years of retirement to enjoy his beloved ranch), Mom has stayed, feeding calves and thawing the water trough in the winter, hauling wood for the wood stove, working in the yard.  She's 85 now with macular degeneration, and none of those things are nearly as manageable for her as they once were.  After much deliberation on her part, she came to the realization it was time for a change.  Which explains my absence for the past couple of weeks.  I've been down helping her sort through nearly 44 years of memories, paperwork, and STUFF.  And, for the first time in 60 years she now lives back in town, out of view of her mountains. To say it's a big change for her would be an enormous understatement.

As I lifted the last box and prepared to leave the house on Saturday, I stood in the kitchen and replayed my own decades of memories.  The huge family dinners; the nights when my parents would have their friends over to play cards; game nights with Dad, Mom, and my brother; quiet Sunday afternoons with a book in front of the fireplace.  I feel blessed that the vast majority of memories were filled with lots of laughter and contentment.  My parents provided me with a wonderful home life and childhood, and I will be forever grateful.

And now, while one book closes, another begins.  My brother's son has purchased the ranch from Mom, and will relocate there soon to return it to its prior operation.  Cows, dogs, hay, grain, and early-morning baling will return as the next generation takes its turn. I think Dad would approve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I didn't medal. Not even close. But I'm still happy!

I thought this year I'd play along with Ravelry's "Ravelympics", attempting to complete a project during the 16 days of the Winter Olympics.  Deciding to challenge myself with socks for the first time, I ordered some pretty red Stroll kettle-dyed fingering weight from Knitpicks, and dove in to the Monkey Sock pattern from Cookie A...about three days into the games.  That should've been my first clue that this was not going to happen.  But hey...I've never claimed to be a genius.  And, I had a lot going on with sewing orders.  I also had two other knitting projects in the works that, due to various reasons, did not qualify to enter Ravelympics.

So, here's where the sock stands as of closing ceremonies.  The bad news:  one sock, not close to finished...

 The good news:  I've learned to turn a heel and work the gusset, and it's not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be (unless, of course, I'm doing something very, very wrong...).  I'm really enjoying the lace work in this pattern...easy to follow and pretty when it's on.

Now, about those other two projects I mentioned above.  I've alluded to one of them for several weeks months now, and am happy to report that it's complete before its first birthday (according to my Ravelry page, I started this on 3/18/2009.  Another reason I like Ravelry:  it keeps you honest!).  Here it is...the Cables and O's Cardigan by Brooke Snow:

I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to have this done.  It's a great pattern, well written and not difficult to follow, but I'd let it languish for so long that I was becoming very bored with everything about it...the color, the yarn, the pattern, all of it.  Poor really didn't deserve it.   Thankfully, now that it's done, my excitement has returned and I'm looking forward to wearing it all spring!

And speaking of excitement, here's a project that was the antithesis of Cables and O's...

This is Talia, from Sweaterbabe.  I...the sloooooow knitter...finished this in just over a week (granted, I had a lot of road time to spend knitting that particular week).  Love, love, love the pattern.  Super fun!  So much so that I'll be making it again.  Soon.  In red. medals for me, but two F.O.'s and a lesson in socks.  I think I can live with that.