FO Tee, a Garden Swing, and an Excited Spinning Wheel.

I know that I have been a little whiny lately. I started methotrexate a little over a month ago and the adjustment to the new medication has been challenging to say the least. This week was better. Much better.  So sorry for the whining. I promise hope that I won’t be doing that again for a long time. Check out all the things that were accomplished this week.

Knitted Tee
I got the Clove HItch Tee finished! Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
Tee Sleeve.
Look at how cute the lace detail is on the sleeve. This yarn is a linen blend and will be cool to wear even though it is a worsted weight knit.

The whole time I was knitting this tee I worried about how big the neck opening was. As soon as it was cast off the needles I tried it on, and yep, too big. I ran a drawstring around the neckline on the inside to draw it up a little and to prevent more stretching. Neckline problem totally fixed: it fits great! The top is loose and a comfy layering piece. I’m thinking that I would like to make a second one with long sleeves using a winter yarn that will be lighter in weight. Maybe in navy blue. I plan to keep that garter stitch band on the sleeve and will continue the sleeves in stockinette below the band.

Crocheted lawn seat.
I have now crocheted the entire back of the lawn swing and am continuing on to make the seat. I draped this over the back of the swing; it’s longer than it looks in the picture.

The lawn seat is coming right along. The fabric will stretch when I sew it into place so it will be more open looking when it is done. I haven’t completely decided how to attach it to the side pieces of the frame. I’m afraid that the attachment solution won’t be very elegant, but hopefully it will be functional.

Wednesday I went out to visit a friend’s alpaca ranch (she has sheep too!!). I am consumed with jealousy. Such cool animals wearing fabulously cool fiber; she has a whole dyeing and processing operation going. I didn’t take any pictures because next week there will be a summer camp there and I get to teach kids how to spin! Ha! Stay tuned for the summer camp report. 🙂

Today I took the car to get its oil changed and battery replaced. I know that this sounds like a small thing, but I am rocking my good week and getting a lot of things done. After I got home I cleaned out the garage and packed my spinning wheel into the car because tomorrow we go to a class to learn how to spin camelid fibers.

Spinning Wheel
Look! The wheel is already strapped into the car and ready to go. It is so excited! This is its first trip out in almost a year; no more sulking in the corner for this little guy.

That’s right. I still have a bag of paco-vicuna that I am nervous about spinning. The spinning class is taught by Chris Switzer who has quite a reputation as a master spinner of these fibers in this part of the world. I am taking the paco-vicuna bag and a chunk of my alpaca fleece with me to the class to get feedback on spinning techniques for the yarn that I dream of creating. Not that I’m intimidated, but the class registration says to bring some things that I’ve made from my homespun yarn with me. I have spent an hour finding things that I’ve made; I’ve decided to only take two three things. Maybe three is too many? If I take two substandard items she might think it’s a fluke. If I have three, it’s pretty sure that’s the type of spinner I am. Whatever. It’s best to not overthink this. I’ll take three that I like and that will be that. I’m taking the class with a friend who likes to spin crazy lace weight yarn and it is going to be wonderful!!

I finished reading all of the bee books this week too. I feel another post coming on. Some of the books were a little bit of a chore to finish, others were just amazing. Hmmm….

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Knitting in Aurora

Without a doubt, I am in a mood. I have been feeling poorly for a couple of days now (I took my methotrexate on Monday, and this week it made me sicker than last. Hope this gets better as I continue…), but I needed to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy and to run some essential errands (the cats expect to be fed on a regular basis; obviously they are out of control!!), so I dragged myself out of bed and feeling a little dizzy and wobbly I headed out.

Here’s the deal. The Kaiser facility where I pick up my prescriptions is right across the street from the Century 16 theater where a gunman (who will remain unnamed in this post) opened fire in a packed theater of moviegoers watching a popular movie on opening night. It was almost 3 years ago today when I woke up to discover that once again Colorado was in the news for a mass shooting, and once again it was happening in my home town. (Sadly I was a resident of Littleton, Colorado at the time of the Columbine shooting). This time the theater is in the heart of my shopping district, and today as I made my rounds to pick up a library book, buy cat food and made a quick stop at the book store to check (what else) the knitting magazines I was almost always in sight of the theater.

Century 16 Theater
This what the theater looks like today after an extensive remodel. I still haven’t gone there to watch a movie since the shooting.

It is pretty heart-rending if you think about it. The police drove up the lawn and over landscaping behind the theater that night to transport victims to local hospitals. They drove on the street that I used to go to Kaiser in patrol cars carrying as many wounded as they could fit into their cars. It’s hard to not think of this as the shooter’s trial is now wrapping up after 45 days, and it’s impossible to avoid the day-to-day details of the events in the courtroom. As I entered the Barnes and Noble bookstore in the shopping center I wondered if that man had come here to also check magazines.

Knitting Magazines
Here’s the knitting magazines on an upper shelf mixed in with other fiber-arts crafting magazines. I counted 12 knitting magazines.
Gun magazines.
Here are the gun magazines. These slick and menacing productions are located on the lowest shelf where kids can sit and go through them, and I counted 30 magazines. I ignored the obvious hunting and gun collecting ones.

So, I am in a mood. I don’t feel well. I spend a lot of time knitting to cope with my altered future due to some serious illnesses. I don’t want to start a debate about gun control, Second Amendment rights, mental illness, the death penalty, the available of military grade armaments through the internet, or the value of explosive rounds. I don’t want to hear that we need more guns to stay safe and that teachers should be packing in their classrooms. Don’t do it!!

I’m just wondering if the world wouldn’t be a better place if bookstores carried a dozen hard to find gun magazines on their shelves, and there were 30 knitting magazines located at the level of children for them to look through. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all felt safe and dreamed of creating nice cushy scarfs, sweaters and mittens that would be beautiful and useful. That knitting was seen as an important meditative activity as wonderful as yoga, jogging, or any of the other stress-busters out there. That the economic power of knitting and other crafting venues drove a huge industry of creative pursuits valued by a large part of the population.

What does this say about us as a people that this isn’t the case?

Starlight, a Joker and OMG: Empathy Cards!!

Wow. It has been really, really rainy here. I had three inches of rain in the back yard bucket (my very-low tech rain gauge) before there was a downpour with hail this afternoon. Needless to say I have been making good progress on my knitting this week. Here’s what has been going on.

I got the Sidere Shawl by Hilary Smith Callis finally done and blocked. (Yep. There was another battle with the cats during blocking. This time they totally outdid themselves. One of them THREW UP on the shawl and then tried to bury the mess by raking damp shawl parts over the evidence. I love my cats. I really, really do…) I think that it turned out nice.

Info about the stitch
The shawl used a new stitch to me called Starlight Stitch (Sidere is Latin for starlight) that really made it have strips of interesting texture.
Shawl in Tree
Here is the finished shawl hanging displayed by my ever helpful ash tree. The rows of Starlight stitch open to one side of the asymmetrical shawl. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

As I was finishing up the shawl I realized that it was now May. Time for another sock!! (As one of my New Year’s resolutions this year I have been knitting a new sock each month using a pattern from one of my many, many sock books and some yarn from the stash. So far I have been good and only used yarn from the stash. Notice I haven’t mentioned whether the stash is growing or getting smaller at this point…) Monday I dug through the sock yarn and here is what I settled on for the May 2015 sock:

This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from hr book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from her book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock Yarn in the colorway Grenadine. Since the sock is divided into two distinct halves with different patterns I decided to knit it using two small cable needles instead of  my usual (and beloved) square double pointed needles.

Now that the Sidere Shawl is done I jumped right into knitting the first Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg. Woohoo!! This one is a keeper for sure, and is lots of fun to knit. Here’s where I am on it right now. The shawl and the sock are knitting up fast, which is a good thing as I have an awful lot of knitting going on.

Joker and the Thief Shawl
The navy yarn is the “Thief”, and the color gradient yarn is the “Joker”. This shawl is fun, fun, fun to knit. The sections of garter stitch are separated by stripes of criss-cross stitches. It is going to be really nice and squishy to wear. Here are the notes on Ravelry if you want the yarn details…

This week has been one of reflection for me as I knitted along in the gloomy rainy days. Tuesday was the anniversary of my mom’s death from ovarian cancer. What a difficult time that was for all of us in the family. Now I am exactly as old as my mom was at that time, and I also am struggling with a serious condition. I’m noticing again some of the things that we dealt with during my mom’s illness: friends and family saying hurtful things, distancing themselves, and trying to make the illness seem trivial. If anything is said at all, it is so superficial or cliche that it reveals a total disengagement. What is up with that? It’s almost as if they are lacking in… empathy.

OMG!! Guess what hit the market this week? Empathy cards! The exact cards that call to the heart of every person struggling with a serious illness, and the life preserver for every person who just doesn’t quite know what to do or say. I can relate to these cards totally! These cards are created by Emily McDowell to fill that huge gap that too many of us are aware of where people of good heart and intentions struggle to acknowledge unhappy truths (some of us will never be old…) as they try to express their concern and support. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Empathy Card
I would love it if someone gave me this card. I would love it even more if that person really would punch someone for me! 

See what I’m talking about? One visitor told my mother that her terminal illness was a “remarkable opportunity” as it gave her the chance to plan the end of her life. I never allowed that person to come visit her again. People who say everything happens for a reason are smugly assuming that somehow your illness was something that you deserved (and they didn’t), or that it will somehow make you a better person. That is just wrong, folks.

Lemon Card
This happened to me! Not nice! 

I bet you want some of these cards too. Here’s Emily McDowell’s blog about these cards and her store where you can buy your own. Emily is a cancer survivor and definitely understands the problem and the need for these simple vehicles to scaffold caring and meaningful communication of support for others dealing with a hard time. I know that people do care. We all need help sometimes to know how to show others how we feel.

So what other empathy cards should there be? I personally am tired of people telling me that they are glad that I’m so much better. (Say what??! I look better right now because I’m between naps and between crisis…) or that they will pray for me (Thanks! I appreciate that! What I really need, however, is someone who is willing to do some grocery shopping for me or even take me to my next major medical testing appointment of the gastroenterology torture chamber variety…) What about the times when people tell you that at least you don’t have __________ (some other disease that sounds worse to them), or ask if you have your will made? There has to be a great card using these comments!

Lots to think about while knitting on a rainy day.