Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The knitting gods are laughing.....

Oh, long about 3 weeks ago I had one, ONE, forty-eight row repeat left to knit on my Hanging Garden Stole. As I mentioned in a prior post, I've been struggling with this for over a year. It was my first foray into more complicated lace, with lace-weight yarn. (Yeah, I did Branching Out, but it didn't seem that complex.)

Anyway, I'm in the last repeat...it's so exciting. Each row, I think, "last time for row nn", I was in the forties (going to row 55), and thinking I've finally got it, after 13 repeats! When I find that I accidentally pull a few stitches off my needle. OK, I take a deep breath, and pick up the stitches, or so I think. (Insert Jaws music here.) I knit another row, and damn, damn, double damn, triple damn, HELL, a hole has formed - IN MY LACE! OK, more deep breaths. I try to pick up the pattern, but it is beyond my skill. Here's the good news, I have a lifeline placed at row 40. So I thread a #1 needle through row 40, and pull back. Looks good. That is until I knit row 41 and notice ANOTHER hole. This cannot be happening!!

Again, I try to rework the pattern, but no go. You may not believe this, but I have a second lifeline placed at row thirty. For those playing at home, I am now pulling out over 10 rows, that I thought I'd never do again. You'd probably like photos, but I didn't have the heart.

Here's the kicker......I pull back to my LAST lifeline, and find that I missed stitches in that row too!! What the hell is wrong with me? I haven't needed to use the lifelines until now, the last repeat, and I can't even pick up all the stitches! Fortunately, I caught the stitches, got them back on the needles, and now I'm back to row 40.

I may not live long enough to finish this thing........

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When you see bugs you know it's fresh.

Let me tell you where I've been.

Housecleaning. No, I'm not kidding. Once a year I hire an Amish woman (who has since become my friend), to houseclean for me. (Amish = no photos, sorry) In years past, my DH and I spent two WHOLE days cleaning our townhouse, once a year, top to bottom. My DH can give Adrian Monk a run for his money. (To his credit, the rest of the year he survives with my version of cleaning. Which I can tell you doesn't come close to his standards. Ah, well, ya' can't have everything.) But I digress. I used to look forward to these days with trepidation and loathing. At the end, I'd feel like I had been hit by a truck, and my hands would look like lobster claws. But we'd have shoveled out of the mail, and some of the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates over the course of a year.

Then one year he injured his back, and was incapacitated for over a week. When he was finally back on his feet, there was no way I was going to allow him to think about moving furniture etc. I hired two local women to come in and houseclean instead. (Let me define houseclean here: Wipe/wash walls and ceiling, move and vacuum under furniture, scour bathrooms, scrub floors, wash all the woodwork, clean the dishwasher (I kid you not, ya know all that crap that accumulates around the door?), wash windows (inside and out) all the stuff that a working person doesn't have time to do on any regular basis. Well, they did most everything in the course of one day, I helped by putting all our "stuff" (books, CDs, knick-knacks etc.) in boxes, and helping to move things when asked. It was much better, and even though it wasn't exactly as we did it before, it was fine by me.

The next year, I just went ahead and tried to call the same person back, but couldn't reach her. I learned about Mary Ann from a friend of mine, and she agreed to come. She brought along her sister-in-law Nancy to help, and it was like having two tornadoes in the house-and they were funny and entertaining to boot. And Mary Ann loves to do windows! When she is finished, you can barely see the glass. Anyway, it isn't inexpensive, especially since I have to pick them up and take them home (it's too far for the buggy), but I liked their work (and work ethic) enough to ask them back. This is the fourth year that I've had Mary Ann. This time she came with her two nieces. (It turns out Nancy and her husband purchased a food concession and are busy with their new business. The Amish are nothing if not resourceful.) Well, even though I have these folks to do the heavy lifting (so to speak) DH and I still have a lot of "prep" work. So it isn't a picnic. I still look forward to it like a trip to the dentist, but I gotta say, I much prefer it to doing it myself (with DH). You don't get "sidetracked" by trivia. Like cleaning out the junk drawer instead of just wiping it down. (BTW, Mary Ann wiped out the insides and outsides of the cabinets in the kitchen. I'd never do that!) Anyway, I take the day off as a "vacation" day, and do stuff that I'd rather have them not do, so they can focus on the hard stuff. With three people, they finished a little earlier then they had in the past, and I got them home by just before 4:00pm. I still had to "reassemble" the place. You know, nothing was in the place where it began, but all you have to do it organize/find it. You haven't seen my bath pouf, and my Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book have you? I still feel like I was "grazed" by a truck, but at least my hands are not raw!

The bugs? Oh yeah, the bugs! Because all of these women live in the same rural neighborhood, one passes a number of farms, many of whom sell produce at farm stands. I stopped on my way home and got some sweet corn from a tractor on the side of the road, and as soon as I got home, I threw it in the microwave.

My corn cooking system is something like this:

Cut the silk off the top, peel the outer husk and snap off any long stalks. Allow a layer of husk to remain on the corn. Soak for a few moments in cold water. Throw in microwave (I usually do 3 at a time because of space.) for four minutes. Turn and do another three or four minutes. Rinse and repeat. At this point, cool slightly, and the silk and remaining husks will come right off. (I slice my kernels off the cob to eat. Expensive dental work.....) I'm getting to the bugs. When I'm husking the first few layers, I've learned to look for signs of insects and those charming little worms that like sweet corn. If I pick my own ears, I'm pretty good at spotting the signs. But this time the farmer put them in a bag for me instead. I got a bonus ear though. Anyway, this time there were several with tell tail worm signs and one ear actually had little bugs scurry out when I stripped off the first few layers. IN MY VERY CLEAN KITCHEN!! I washed them into the garbage disposal, cut off the chewed portion of the ear, and when ahead with the cooking.

That's fresh corn folks!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Those little knitting elves....

..... were working very hard. 'Cause finally I finished this! Crest 'O the Wave scarf.

Franco looks lovely in it no? The one thing you can sorta see is that there is a distinct difference in the color of the two ends of the scarf. Sigh. I thought I'd have plenty Claudia's Handpaint (2 skeins, about 380 yards), but this pattern ate yarn like a champ. Then started the quest. The quest to find the same colorway. It's a handpaint so no two are alike. But some of these are like - completely different combinations of colors. Sheri from the Loopy Ewe came to my rescue and had a skein that came close.

What you can't see in the photo is that the waves are beaded.

I beaded the two middle garter stitch rows in the pattern (rows 10 & 11, for those playing along), and I beaded the last six rows of the ends. Using this method the beads show on both sides of the piece.

Looks fabulous, though I think I made it a little long than most folks have.

Here's the beading....

The beads are 6/0 AB iris. Large and easy peasy to thread.

Next up is my Hanging Garden Stole. I have ONE repeat to do. Unfortunately the repeat is nearly 50 rows long...in lace weight no less.