Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's a sign, at least

Dear Mom,
Let's pretend there isn't a fresh dusting of snow on the ground right now and focus on this sign of spring I found in the backyard yesterday.
pussy willow
I brought some clippings inside and arranged them with some forsythia branches which I hope will be forced into bloom. It's something hopeful, right?

Kim, who is craving the feeling of warm sun on bare flesh, windows open to a fresh breeze, green grass, and a backyard that isn't mostly mud.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Well Armed

Dear Mom,
Judging from the date stamp on the first finished project photos, it has taken about 6 months to get this design test knit and published. Well Armed was worth the time and effort, and I really like this one. It is the fruition of one of those preoccupied obsessions of what if….can I….if I do….. and TADAH! It worked. After some tweaks and improvements the pattern has been finally, today, published.

 Well Armed is a triangular shaped shawl with sleeves.
 Worked in one piece, from the top down. With contiguous set in sleeves. NO SEWING!
 Well Armed is finished with a rich lace border. The pattern includes both charted and written instructions for the lace.
The pattern also includes instructions for customizing the fit, and has photo tutorials and links to video tutorials for some of the techniques used in the pattern. It is available for purchase HERE.
The version shown here is knit with Malabrigo Rios. And I've knit a second using Shepherd's Wool. A third is on my needles using Rowan Summer Tweed, because I think a silk and cotton version will be perfect worn over a sleeveless dress in an over-air conditioned theater or restaurant this summer.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

And She's Off

Dear Mom,

Freshly off the needles and worn for the first time yesterday (no need for a winter coat!!!) -

This is THAT Sweater, with Nature Spun worsted, color Scarlet.
I am teaching this sweater as a class at the Village Yarn Shop, and started this as a demonstration model and as a way to confirm that what I've been asking the class to complete from week to week is not asking too much. I've spread the 6 sessions of this class over 9 weeks to give everyone plenty of time to get their homework done.
This sweater is constructed sideways, from cuff to cuff, in one piece. It's been interesting watching the knitters in my class wrap their heads around this. For many, the construction (especially of the pockets) requires a leap of faith- and quite a bit of reassurance.
My original blue This is THAT Sweater (now affectionately nicknamed TiTS- sorry about that) has been worn almost as a uniform all winter long. It now has a red team mate. I hope it won't get called into duty too many times before next winter, but for now, it is a refreshing addition to my exhausted, overused, sweater wardrobe.
Today is a grey, but balmy almost 60 degrees. I have a few windows cracked open for the fresh air. The birdsong and sounds of melting snow are music to my ears. I even have the back door opened a bit to allow Olive the freedom in and out through the porch. For the first time in what must be months, I can see patches of grass! It all sounds and smells and feels so promising. I hope the crocus and snowdrop bulbs I scattered throughout the front yard survived and soon give me a colorful display. If they have (and if they do) I will share photos here.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Fruit of the Loom

Dear Mom,

Exactly what I was hoping for.
And the weaver inside me cries out for MORE!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Caramel and Cream

Dear Mom,

I noticed that I am in a caramel and cream phase.
The napkins on Donna Reed-
And Big Brown Betty's new frock-
Betty's cozy is this pattern, without the stripes, and I used some of this yarn.

I also noticed that the yarn I purchased yesterday, for a summer project, would fit right in.

Things are warming up. Temps in the 40's are forecasted for the weekend! You know it has been cold when, 15 degrees feels so warm that you think you can get by with just a heavy sweater. Good sense prevailed and I did wear my parka. I bet we see people wearing shorts as soon as it hits 50 degrees.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's Always Something

Dear Mom,

Just as we are clearing the post op hurdle on Olive's left elbow (her surgeon was very, very pleased, by the way) (I KNEW he would be!) - bald patches started developing on her sides about 2 weeks ago. While we were visiting with Dr. Spah on Monday, I asked him what he thought about them.
"You should have your regular vet look at these," he said. "They may be a sign of a thyroid issue."


Well. Thankfully, not.
We saw the vet yesterday and after close examination under a magic light and microscopic evaluation of tissue samples to rule out any creepy crawly stuff that made my scalp immediately start itching, Olive is either:
1. Allergic to something. Doubtful, but she is taking a daily dose of Zyrtec just in case.
2. OCD. Obsessively Compulsively licking the spots. Or- given the weather- Compulsive Obsessive Licking Disorder, aka COLD. Somewhat doubtful- we have not witnesses any licking, chewing, or scratching and the skin is not at all red or irritated. However, she could be doing the licking while we are not home to witness it and while she is bored and crated. For this, we have a powerful anti-licking, bad tasting concoction to sprinkle on the targeted areas. Like that thumb sucking preventative, but worse. I guess. I've not tasted either and don't intend to.
or…. and this one gets my vote….
3. A response to stress. The vet was quick to clarify that this is not a stress from last week sort of response, but a stress that may have occurred MONTHS ago…. Like 2 surgeries in 6 weeks? Yep. (And considering THAT, it is a wonder my hair isn't falling out!) The fact that the patches started to appear during a week that I was gone more than usual and Olive spent more time in her crate (missing her mama) makes me think this the more likely option. And for this, she gets a daily dose of Melatonin to wake up the exhausted, stressed out hair follicles.
Olive is going to need her own medicine cabinet. She is taking more supplements than I am! But, hey! If MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit can have a whole closet for her cats, then I suppose a medicine cabinet for Olive is nothing.

I don't know if the flat screen tv's make it easier for dogs to watch or if Olive is just special, but we've noticed that Olive watches tv regularly. And by watching, I mean intently focused.  But nothing like she has the past two evenings during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. There are nose prints on the screen. Several ! times she jumped up and trotted right up to the screen to investigate the dogs during the judging and then followed them as they skipped along the runway.  I tried taking video, but was successful only in taking photos.

Closer inspection of these photos reveals the thinning patches.
Frankly, I am not even sure these are spots she can reach to lick or scratch.

In addition to watching the dogs, the Purina Pro Plan commercials kept her riveted. Especially THIS ONE. (Although, I liked THIS ONE better.) If it were in her power, I think she would be purchasing some of that brand today.

Hopefully that beautiful black coat will be thick again soon. She is just such a pretty dog. I hate to see this.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Weary

Dear Mom,
Okay. We've all had enough. I've lost track of how many school days need to be made up. I think we can probably count the number of FULL school days in January on one hand. And I am not sure that any of those have happened consecutively. I hope the Young Lady's Sophomore year ends before her Junior year starts.
The thought of double digits sounds warm. Strike that. The sound of temps above zero sounds warm. Double digits might feel tropical at this point. We will not be discussing wind chill.

At least the sun is shining. And snow is sparkly.

In the meantime…..

THIS is THAT Sweater is on the needles. I have my iPod loaded with good books.
I wound a warp and started dressing Donna Reed with a new ( and hopefully more successful) napkin project yesterday.
Fresh flowers were delivered over the weekend, from a thoughtful friend….
and My Hero brought more home last night to celebrate my birthday.
For variety's sake, I have a shawl in the works with some handspun yarn. This is pure comfort knitting.
My first needle punch project is back from the framer. I was unsuccessful in finding a new project at any local shops. Very discouraging. Especially, after calling my NOT FAVORITE quilt shop (name withheld to protect the guilty) and was told "Yes, we have needle punch" only to drive the 30 minutes ONE WAY and discover that they literally had the punch needles and NOTHING ELSE. As if THAT makes any sense. I should have asked if they had needle punch projects. I drove back home all disgusted and fuming mad. Needless to say, I am Not Going Back There Again. I ordered three small kits online, and they've arrived, but don't have the nice Valdani floss that this first project had. Still, I like the change of pace this needlework offers. I'll work on these and keep my eyes out for more kits.
I received a new tea cup and a new tea pot for my birthday, too. Isn't that cup pretty? The colors are perfect in my kitchen. They are "me" colors.

Sometime before Christmas, my dear Brown Betty suffered an accident when something- I can't remember what- threw itself out of the cabinet and landed on her. I thought we'd escaped tragedy when I saw no obvious damage. Unfortunately, over the next few days, I noted a slight incontinence issue with Brown Betty. In denial, I convinced myself that the puddle was just a little overflow from brewing and steeping the pot, and that it was all my fault. I told myself this story more than once and kept Betty on duty. She is was? my favorite teapot, after all. Sadly, I could not continue this fairy tale and on closer inspection saw a hairline fracture under Betty's handle. She would have to be retired- but not thrown away. Betty deserves a quiet, dignified retirement after all her faithful service. I can always line her with a cup and use her to display flowers. I am sure we will come up with fun things for Betty to do. Hearing of Betty's disability, you, My Mother Dearest, so thoughtfully gifted me with a new, bigger, 8 cup Brown Betty for my birthday.
Big Brown Betty and I have become fast friends. Don't tell the other Brown Betty, but Big Brown Betty's spout is actually better. It stands straight up so I can fill her to the brim and she doesn't spill over! I need to knit a new tea cosy for Big Brown Betty because the cosy I have is too small. There are LOTS of tea cosy patterns out there to peruse. ( More distraction from the weather and from the housework I should be doing…..)
Fresh flowers work miracles.
Especially on winter weary days.
Keep warm. Daydream about digging in the dirt and planting vegetables, and about Branson and Mrs. Hughes, and smocked dresses on little girls, and windows open to warm breezes, Olive laying in a sunny patch on the patio, reading in a comfy chair on the screened porch……
Those days are coming. Hang in there, everybody!