Troubles

I was going to tell y’all about an experience I had as a 5 year old, but in doing research for it I came across all kinds of scandals and possibilities of what happened to me then. Before I can write about it I need to digest it and do some further research.

Instead, here is Yowza (take a look at Rocky Ridge colorway!) my favorite new yarn despite my project mishap, an attempt at moebius knitting. My latest Yowza came from Stitches West, here’s a picture of it all wound up.

DSC_0003

This is a sad story. Zooming along to the end of the cowl, no, let me get back to the beginning. With moebius knitting after casting on, there comes the moment of doing one twist, at least in my project. You know, take a strip of paper, twist one end once and tape together, voila, the moebius. Of course you could twist that strip of paper several times, and though it wouldn’t be pretty, it still can be done. Take a look at Cat Bordhi doing the knitting moebius so well.

After casting on hundreds of stitches, it becomes difficult to tell how many times you twisted your cast-on stitches. But with my usual bravado, not a good thing, I promise, I showed faith and knit on.

This is my usual m.o. with knitting: faith. I can’t imagine where it comes from. Sometimes it’s my dislike of the swatch. Other times it’s pure denial. I can’t be the only one who has this voice practically screaming into her ear that there’s a mistake and to measure or take a second look, or read the pattern again. Do I ever listen? Only when the voice shouts lies.

This is one of those times when it shouted a lie. At first the calm voice said to double check, make sure I didn’t do two twists. I ignored that voice because it would have meant starting over and I didn’t want to do that. At these points I’m not sure what my expectations are. Do I believe in magic? And not only do I believe in magic, but that I can make it happen?

As I was coming to the end, I had to face the parade, or is it face the music? Or face my knitting. Well, here it came, the loud voice: you screwed up, you should have checked, this is not working out!!! I so badly wanted the voice to stop screaming at me, I did the only thing I knew to stop it: pulled out the needles and started unraveling.

DSC_0002

Yes, I fell for it. As row after row was being undone a horrible realization washed over me, I had made no mistake at all. Now what? There was no going back or rather, no forward, all I could do was keep on unraveling and holding back tears.

And if this would have involved any other part of my life you could have committed me. Somehow with knitting I grow strong. Two days lost with knitting and nothing to show for it? No problem. The psychology of the situation is beyond me, perhaps someone should study it.

Me, I went to another skein and started another pair of socks. One sock done, another on the needles already. That didn’t go without sweat either. I’m using new yarn, for me. It has a very tight twist that might be a bit uncomfortable for a princess who feels the pea under 20 mattresses, but for the rest of us we like the twist and the sturdiness it produces in a sock. This yarn is from knitpicks and comes at a good price.

For non-knitters, it might come as a shock that I don’t blink at making socks where the yarn alone is $30. This money-friendly $11 skein has a drawback. It has only 357 yards. I’m more used to a 400-yard range and know I can comfortably knit any pattern and not worry about the length of the cuff or leg.

So what did I do? I knit a longer leg to test out the yarn. See how far it can go. What I had going for me is that the sock was for Liana who has the smallest foot size in the family, 7 1/2. The sweat pouring from me as I came to the toe of the sock could have alleviated the California drought. After having frogged the cowl, I would not be able to handle doing the same to the sock.

I’m not sure if the sock will fit her, but the yarn did last. Perhaps I should be looking around for someone with size 6 feet. It’s one of the rare times I used size 0 needles. Here’s a look at my experience with Hawthorne from knitpicks.

DSC_0001

Next time I’ll tell y’all about the real troubles in our lives right now.

Postpartum

Often I work on several knitting projects at a time. This year I’ve been focused on socks only. OK, yesterday I started a baby hat, but even that makes just 2 projects on the needles.

So now that the socks were done today, I get this feeling of loss, feeling disoriented, not knowing where to turn. I pace around the house without a purpose. Every yarn I try to swatch with is wrong, wrong, wrong. At the same time I have no head for a complicated pattern.

Sleeping on it might help. But for now I am a rebel without a cause.

Ahead of Resolution

Remember the New Year? Remember all the good intentions and resolutions? How many have you broken 3 months into the year?

Guess what? I win! Broke none of my resolutions, ok, I admit, there was only one.

But don’t worry, I have lost in many other ways. Including family so pissed off at me that I am told of “rifts” that “will never be bridged.”

Some of you might know about the Bassya Bibel website I have created, mostly featuring Bassya’s love letters I’ve found. Bassya was Stephen’s grandmother. With Passover and the seder coming up, I was trying to think of something nice to bring along for the family.

Last year I brought all the photo albums and slides no one was interested in at the time of the grandfather’s death. The great grandkids seemed to have their fun with the old photos. This year I contemplated bringing everyone a piece of furniture or another trinket I have from the grandparents.

But then it hit me. A web site! I had already posted some of the letters on facebook and the responses were tremendous. This way everyone could get to know Bassya a little better, especially at an age none of us knew her, most of us not having been born yet.

I could not have been more wrong. I think in all my life I have never been shat upon with such huge, stinky piles.

So you see, no reason to be jealous about meeting my resolutions. I failed big in other ways.

One pair of socks a months and I am ahead of the game. I’ve already posted the very colorful pair I made for January. February was a sock variation. A huge sock that will be felted into slippers. That counts, right? Right? I know it takes a lot less knitting, but come on, February is a short month after all.

DSC_0003

Along came March and without meaning to match that month, the socks were green. This is the very basic sock pattern I use when uninspired and there is no need for a pattern.

DSC_0001

Rushing into April with a pair of Nutkin pattern socks. One sock done, one still on the needles. I love this pattern. It’s not very stretchy and the only difficulty is at the top when the knitting gets folded over and you have to knit together the stitch on the needle and one from the cast-on. If you’re even off by one stitch here, things become a bit twisty.

DSC_0002

If I wouldn’t have my knitting, I don’t know how I could master and survive this post-heart-attack-and-bypass life. The stress the family controversy puts on my heart is immense, and I can feel it. A tightness in the chest, heart beating fast and hard. Having already lost part of the heart, I worry how much more is going down the drain. But then I pick up the knitting and slowly, slowly my muscles start relaxing and I am flowing along with the stitches. 

 

 

 

Stitches West

Days, weeks, even months I had been looking forward to Stitches West. A huge yarn extravaganza in Santa Clara with about 350 vendors, classes, people, parties, joy, happiness, and what have you. And did I say YARN?

Stitches West can be many things, depending on the experience you seek. Will it be a wild party? A shopping trip? A learning experience? Meeting up with old friends? Making new friends?

To be honest, I did not feel too well during the weeks prior, but I thought being there would take care of all that and put me in a good mood. After all, it’s YARN! What’s not to like about it, and how could it not put me into a good mood?

Once there, I fell into the category of efficient consumer. In and out!

Entering, the ticket lines were really short, the line for getting into the most hallowed of halls a bit long but moving at good speed. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I was overcome by the immensity and the crowds, feeling like I could actually pass out.

market

Nice people, not the crazy Black Friday crowd where one has to fear for one’s life as seen on TV. All very polite, just a lot of them.

With a handy map and Stephen’s helpful legend personalized for me the night before, I ignored my surroundings. Goal-oriented, I headed to the first booth, then the next, and the next, and the next. But what was going on, no one was where we had marked them to be? Had I entered the Twilight Zone? I started feeling woozy and disoriented, and overcome with it all.

I had to get my bearings if I was to make it through and actually buy some yarn. From last year I remembered Dragonfly Fibers and headed in that general direction. Eureka! I left their booths with the first two gorgeous skeins.

Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight

There was a problem that kept on repeating. Many of the various colorways of the indie dyers were already in my stash at home. My taste had not changed all that much from last year, so I kept on picking up the same color and putting it back because I knew exactly where on the shelf I would find it at home.

I tried the map again. And this time I figured it out. When I’d googled the Stitches West map I made unfortunate assumptions. So what I was holding in my hands was a map from 2013.

After a trip to the information booth and a new, updated booklet with map and all, I was on my way again. In no time I found The Verdant Gryphon and, with my next purchase complete, headed to Western Sky Knits and then on to Miss Babs, as usual the most crowded booth at the whole affair.

Traveler
From The Verdant Gryphon Booth

 

Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon

The above yarn is more squeezable than charmin toilet paper. And below see another sock yarn, it was a red kind of day.

Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn
Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn

After that, I took it easy. Went to the beginning and headed up and down the aisles just like I do at the grocery store. Then ate a snack I’d brought along and tried another up and down aisles. I felt like a personal shopper because I had promised a friend I’d look for a good black and purple, heavier than fingering yarn, with a tight twist.

Armed only with reading glasses for close-up yarn inspection, the world was a blur around me.

My Miss Babs loot: very, very modest.

Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness
Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness

And continuing with the red theme:

I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter
I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter

Without being facetious, it was basically the same shit as last year. No new yarn discoveries. I learned that indie dyers have a hard time getting a true black or a lovely purple.

My favorite yarn purchase is a color called Big Apple that I am renaming Bloody Valentine. These will make socks for me.

DSC_0010
Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine

There are not enough ways to look at these colors, but I try.

DSC_0014

DSC_0016
OK, so this is not an apple tree but an apricot tree. Good enough?

 

 

Am I Back?

This has been the toughest New Year yet. On day three I started what I thought was a cold, but who really knows, and it is still haunting me. Now my bet is on allergies. After the big rain we’ve had here it should get better, right?

There was nothing to do for me as I was sniffling through the day, but knit and listen to Serial the podcast and stream Netflix. If you’re one of the 5 people who have not listened to the podcast, well, do as you like, I’m not going to recommend it, though I’m glad to be in the know.

Netflix just streamed by or through me or past me, I remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

I am obsessed with Asaf Avidan. Sure to get tired of him pretty soon as his songs all seem to derive from the same place, I still recommend a listen. Don’t be frightened by his voice, it can grow on you and he sure knows how to use it. And here it is, I have a weakness for male high voices, and he plays on that. A youtube where you can see and listen to him, a click away.

And if you want more of him, check out the NPR tiny desk concert. If you really want to indulge, do so here.

The knitting has not brought much joy. No excitement, but comfort. A few hats, fingerless mittens, socks, and finishing started projects.

DSC_0001

A photo from a niece in Germany inspired this little cowl. I bet it also could be used by a dog instead of a bandana that some people think makes their dog look super-cool. The pattern called Scallo-Pie is free and from one of my favorite designers: Martina Behm.

DSC_0005

The photos below finally show the finished products. Took me long enough to finish. Some projects have that effect on me. And after a certain amount of time working on such items it should be enough and it should finish itself. Somehow I get no special pleasure or gratification in completion. That gets me into trouble around the house. Every room has a project started and not finished. Don’t ask why but around 10 years ago I thought I could put in my own floors and did. But did I finish the baseboard or the last few boards? Noooooooooo. Yes, there are excuses. I had no saw to cut the boards to size. Now that I do, I’m used to the look and doubt I could master this finishing anyway.

DSC_0008 DSC_0010

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings (or not)

The arbitrary saying goodbye to a whole year last night had me wondering about a lot of stuff. But that’s the idea, right? Reflection?

First reflection: why a year? we could celebrate the end of every month, the end of every week, the end of every day, the end of every hour, the end of every minute, the end of every second, the end of every moment.

Second reflection: Perhaps it makes more sense to celebrate the beginning of every year, the beginning of every month, the beginning of every day, the beginning of every hour, the beginning of every minute, the beginning of every second, the beginning of every moment.

Third reflection: Perhaps we should just celebrate life! I guess I’m not that original.

Yes I do have resolutions, which is kind of stupid because I can decide at any moment to change to a better me. That’s what it’s about, right? To be a better person? Or are there people out there whose resolutions are: this year I’ll flip off every driver that takes my right-of-way; this year I’ll hurt at least one person a week; this year I’ll be greedier….

The shininess of the new year wears off pretty quickly. Just like, despite a new notebook at the beginning of the semester, we may lose our excitement and best intentions and all within days.

So any resolution needs to be supported by higher motives. To stand a chance, resolutions have to be unrelated to time. They can be made at any time of year; they’re their own beginnings.

I’m looking back and feel like the guy at the christmas market who said: same shit as last year. Was last year any different from all the others? There were good and bad times. New friends and losing old ones. You know, same shit….

I expect nothing else from this year. Except for 12 pairs of socks by the December holidays. One a month? I don’t care as long as there will be 12, or enough for presents.

Stitches West is coming up in February. I’m hoping to live long enough to indulge at the marketplace there. And then live long enough to use it all up. But that is fantasy as I’ve achieved sable (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy). But a girl can hope. At least I would like to knit more, if that is even possible.

 

Fourth reflection: I’ve already lost at being who I would like to be in the new year. Go back to bed Marianna, really, or start knitting those socks. I made pancakes this morning, long story, we don’t usually eat those. But I had all the fixings and never made them while visitors were here. So we ate them all. ALL! I feel like it’s Thanksgiving.

Let me share a recipe. Not very original because it started out in a cookbook and then got refined. Take some ricotta cheese and then add some citrus zest; I used oranges. Prepare your favorite pancake recipe or mix and then gently add the ricotta mixture. Fry ’em up. I happened to notice the Kahlua bottle out from truffle-making and added a bit to the mix. A little maple syrup on top, and your new year’s resolution will be totally ruined. And you can go forth and eat whatever you want for the rest of the year, because anything has to be better than that.

Here is what’s important for knitting socks: nice colorful yarn in winter, the signature needles, remote and sound to knit to, a candle or more in winter.

DSC_0001

We’ve had a wonderful holiday season this year. A constant go-go-go. I’ll leave you with the photos.

DSC_0007 DSC_0008

DSC_0001 DSC_0002

 

Last Night of Hanukkah

Let me start with the …

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle(s) of [check below to see what night(s) and word(s) apply, depending on the night]. May [repeat the names associated with the candle(s)] burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

Peace and Justice: Shammash (9th candle, lit every day)

1st night: Respect
2nd night: Love
3rd night: Compassion & Empathy
4th night: Connection & Kinship
5th night: Enlightenment & Consciousness
6th night: Liberation & Freedom
7th night: Gentleness
8th night: Harmony & Cooperation

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

********

A day late during a very, very busy holiday season for me, with dinners or brunches almost every day. Now we’ll finally get to the holiday drawing….

Though it has been busy, it also has been lots of fun. Starting with getting to know Steve’s parents. Steve is our daughter Liana’s boyfriend. Having both of our kids and their partners and parents around for get-togethers has made for lots of laughing and drinking and eating. And we’re not done yet. One more brunch and dinner and I will not step into my kitchen for a while. Except to grab leftovers from the fridge.

Knitting will become my main activity again. Remember Liana’s sweater I need to frog (unravel)? It’ll hurt but be so worth it. She says it’s ok being a little big, but, nah, it has to be perfect. I have many winter months left.

So let me hop over to the random number generator and see who will get an extra present this season.

The envelopes, please:

Almond chocolate bark. Ta-Da! Dawn

Chocolate truffles. Ta-Da! Cindy

The Cowl. Ta-Da! Cereza

Happy Hanukkah – 4th Night

Not much to report here, actually not much time for writing. Last minute vacuuming done, all spices and foods packed so I can do a brunch tomorrow morning for the Bay Area family. Presents wrapped and ready for delivery.

While cleaning up, I noticed we’ve received only one holiday card. Stephen and I disagree about whether to display the thing or not. Of course we don’t write cards anymore, a story I will let you in on soon. But it looks so cheesy only having one card. Then again, the card comes from very important people: Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter. Perhaps we can impress the holiday guests with it.

Your Ta-Da! Moment: It’s Janie who won the 2 truffles today.

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Connection and Kinship, Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May connection and kinship, compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 3rd Night

I lied. All this time I was under the mistaken impression that Christmas Eve and the last night of Hanukkah collided this year. Not so. High School algebra was of no use to me after all. Eventually I would have figured this out. It would have been a clue when the candles ran out.

This might be a good thing, now we get to celebrate 9 nights in a row.

I’ve cleaning news and progress to report, but that’s boring. I’ve let go of a lot of cleaning. The basics are done and we all will have to live with what didn’t. There were no plans to eat off the floor anyway.

Let’s get right to the Ta-Da Moment! Barbara Sue, it’s you for the 2 truffles.

And for the Lighting of the candles tonight:

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 2nd Night

Last night Stephen picked up a book I had on hold at the library: The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. I read late into the wee hours and finished this morning. Obviously I recommend the book. Nothing earthshaking, but a good read.

Finished some more truffle orders and other than that this day was pretty uneventful. Tonight will be more exciting as we’re invited to dinner.

The winner selected by the random number generator for 2 chocolate truffles is: Debbie! Ta-da!

This being the second night of Hanukkah, here is the “prayer” to go with the lighting of the candles. Every night we add another named candle. Yesterday it was Respect, tonight it’s Love.

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Love and Respect. May love and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.