Finally: Rain!

Waking up to the excitement of rain this morning. It will do little to help the horrible drought we’re in, but it is a drop or two in the bucket, and California will take every drop it can get. It did not keep us from taking a two mile walk, but we ended up soaking wet and were glad to get into a warm house.

In my future today is spinning. I started last night and could not get to sleep because I did not get enough spinning in. At the Foothill Fibers Guild Meeting last night Lisa Souza gave a presentation and we all succumbed to the fiber fumes she brought along and I ended up with two 4 ounce bundles of fiber made of 50/50 bombyx silk/fine merino in the colors petroglyph and water gardens. And here I was going to show restraint until Stitches. Really?!

As promised I will show you the Steve West shawl, but, and this is a huge but, there is no way I can take an appropriate picture in this rain or the dark house, so you’ll have to settle for an awful blocking picture. But even with the colorful distraction of the mats you might get the idea.

I just found out the Tibetan monks are in town for their yearly visit. One of their projects is a sand mandala they then destroy to show the transitory nature of material life. The last part of this sentence is plagiarized. I’m always in awe that these folks take so much time to create these exquisite paintings knowing they will not last.

Yesterday when I was contemplating destroying/unraveling the shawl I saw a similarity. Except I did not know beforehand I might destroy the shawl, and it took me way more time to knit this shawl than it takes the monks to do the mandala. And there would have been a totally different message in my destruction. So perhaps I’ll quit the comparison.



While I’m doing photos, let me show you a small shawl I made for my friend’s 96th birthday:



I will only show half of what I bought last night because one of the colors did not photograph well at all. That’s a shame because it is most unusual and my favorite one.



And that’s it for today. Some cooking and lots of spinning and Netflix waiting for me.

One more photo. Did I ever show you my Schacht Matchless? If I did, well, it’s well worth another look.



It’s been a bit quiet around here. Not at our house, just here on the blog. It hasn’t been so loud at our house since my teenagers got into punk and them or me blasting the music. Enough suspense: we got a new roof.

As a typical German I was prepared with food and drink for the workers, but they hardly accepted anything. My grandmother used to get a case of beer and food whenever a repair project got started at her house. I watched and learned. But people here don’t let me be nice to them, I feel ripped off.

Today, a year ago, I was in surgery. This is what Stephen posted on my facebook page at the time:

“October 15, 2012
After 7 hours of *successful* surgery – quadruple bypass – Marianna 1.4 is inching her way toward consciousness, to be followed by weeks/months of healing. Whewwwww. I’ll report more when we know more; for now, see – and read and repeat aloud – previous sentence; repeat as necessary… -S”

It probably was the most difficult time for my family ever. Both our kids were around, our daughter Liana having flown in from Denver and Toby was able to take a few days off from firefighting. I have no idea how Stephen held it together, whatever the “it” is. Turn this situation around and you can be assured I would have fallen apart.

Some recollections from Stephen who was posting updates to my facebook page then:

“October 13, 2012
Hi friends of Marianna Greenberg… If you’ve got some spare prayers/love/good healing thoughts/golden circles — whatever you’re into — please send ’em her way. We’re at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, where she’s recovering from a massive heart attack and will have open heart surgery within the next coupla days. She should be sleeping peacefully right now, after a very nightmarish few hours. Visited a few minutes ago: tho really weak of course, she seemed to be pretty much back to her full self — enough so, that she asked me to let folks on her 1000-truffle-benefit page (sorry, no handy link) know there’ll be a delay…. G’night for now, happy birthday to Toby who’s sitting/dozing across from me, and LOVE for Marianna — more massive than anything else. – Stephen


October 14, 2012

Update: We’re still deep into the woods, but on a clear path toward home. Probably tomorrow morning (depends on how Marianna’s doing, according to all the tests and numbers and evaluations), the path will become a surgical journey through a triple (minimum) bypass. In the meantime, she’s pretty stable, glad our kids are hanging out with her – Liana’s braiding her hair right now – and really appreciative of your love and support. (She said, “Tell them they’re sending so much light, it’s keeping me awake.”) More thanks from me – feeling much more like me after actually *sleeping* (in a 3-question-mark motel!) last night.

Following up on our previous update – re Marianna’s concern about getting so much light from y’all, see pic. In other news, kids and I moved out of – make that escaped from – the seedy motel and into a nice hospital-related apartment across the street; from homely to homey. And the uppest update: Marianna’s on track for surgery, tomorrow around 8 am till midday. Soon, friends….”

Right now I’m reliving this and trying to process. I’m not aging gracefully. But then I have always totally thrown myself into any experience good or bad. There is no half-way for me. Let’s make this a massive heart attack seems to be my modus operandi. And then go for the quadruple by-pass. And then let’s have a pulmonary embolism to top this experience off nicely. I bet my life will end in the ultimate: death.

Since it’s Halloween season I might as well creep you out a bit with the arm picture after surgery:


All that is left now is the line down the arm, no more Frankenstein look.

Today I get to indulge, indulge, indulge. Just try to stop me. Bored? Come back another time. Though eventually this all leads to knitting.

At some point during my second heart attack or escalating heart attack I was technically dead. I have been asked about the white light and flippantly answered seeing smoke, hearing jazz, etc.

I can report nothingness instead. Whenever I came close to dying, I felt myself falling into emptiness and nothingness, falling asleep without dreams. Often my thought then was, this dying is not so bad, this feels like easy death. Every time I would wake up again and realize that my death would be much more difficult for my family than myself. At some point during my initial stay at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital I asked the doctor if I would die. He answered: You could. I asked Stephen to call Toby. I had this grand idea of a profound good-bye, but all I managed to tell Stephen and Toby was to take care of themselves and each other and that I’m OK dying.

The image of hell as a 30s nightclub with lots of cigarette smoke and jazz stayed with me for days. In my morphine induced semi dreams and pain state of my body, it morphed into deeper and more desolate pictures. I saw dumpsters and rats and the refuse that used to be people, the music long gone. I wrote poetry in my head about it, but that is long gone too and all I’m left with are the images.

After coming out of surgery, mostly unconscious and breathing tube still in my mouth, I remember Stephen saying that I looked like crying and screaming at the same time. I remember thinking that he can read me well. And then a memory of someone dying behind the curtain next to me. Discussions about DNR and that a decision needs to be made. Next I hear a priest saying a prayer, and then an announcement that it’s over. I could not wait to be able to speak again and talk about this. And the nurse confirmed that it really happened.

Before surgery I assured the surgeon that it would be OK if I died on the operating table. No hard feelings since I brought this on myself. He replied that no one dies in the operating room. Well, but apparently they can a short while after.

I still have the memory of being wheeled to the operating room on my bed. Thoughts of what a big mess this room is, sort of like my house with stuff all over. Not much color though, mostly monochrome. Many, many people bustling about. Then everyone trying to explain what they will be doing until I told them to just put me out and that I’m hoping I will not feel any pain. And that no matter what they explain now, it will make no difference. They will do their job and I’m down the rabbit hole now and hope to find my way back eventually. Next: I’m out. Thanks guys.

After almost 7 hours, I wake up, kind of, almost…. The difficulty was my family waiting all this time. They are the heroes in this story, and of course the doctors and nurses. It’s unimaginable to me what I put them through. I will never, ever be able to show my appreciation and gratefulness and love to them. All I can do is knit whatever they want.

And here we are at knitting, finally. The Zombie BBQ scarf has stopped me. I’m avoiding working on it because it’s not what I wanted and I’m settling for what it is. So many new projects were started until I realized what’s going on. Avoidance. So I made a pact with myself: finish this scarf and you get your knitting freedom back. You’d think this would work, right? No, instead I do all other kinds of crazy stuff.

Here is one crazy project: I signed up for online classes with edx and coursera. 4 of them. Two have started. One is Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease. The reasons for this class is that my life might be affected by people with this disease. The other class I signed up for is Science and Cooking, a Harvard class. Am I over my head in this class! Want to know the molecular weight of food ingredients or the number of molecules in the food? This is the class for you. But they won’t bring me to my knees, though I am close many times. All I have to get is over 60% to pass, I might be able to do that. This is so absurd from someone that had to get the highest grade or feel like a failure. I’ll keep trotting along until the next class How to Change the World and Scandinavian Film and Television.

All this because I don’t want to work on the bloody scarf. There are socks to knit, shawls to finish, mittens to start. Do you realize that Hanukkah starts a day before Thanksgiving this year? Is this crazy or what? It will have to be lots of I-Owe-Yous this year.

Something I believe I did not show you yet is an Ashton shawlette worked in silk for my MIL. I was hesitant to post a picture in case she’s reading here. Her birthday and present giving over, take a look. A silk scarf does not stretch as wool does, but it still turned out.

Pre-blocked and while blocking. One of the next posts will be about my fiber fleece adventures.

DSC_0004 DSC_0002



The KAL shawl is on the kitchen table blocking away, hundreds of pins later. Not so happy with the color though at the time it was the right choice. I had never made a shawl before I started this one a couple of months ago. Somehow the first clue to this mystery shawl took me by surprise. I had no yarn ready and asked Stephen to take me to our lys. Since I was not assured of success I chose a cheaper yarn, some sort of cascade yarn. The color was going to be red or blue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy, but I’ve learned so much I might make different choices now. And that is the point: I learned so much! Including at the end that it is important to tink and correct mistakes and not hope for the best. Size: 70 inches wide by 36 inches and that is the medium. Glad to have such a large kitchen table.


Close ups:



Our table usually looks more like this:


Then I made tons and tons of food and forgot to take pictures. But most people who know me can fill in the blanks.

Yesterday was my first spinning lesson. I came out of the spinning instructor’s studio dazed and full of inspiration. Mostly I’m doing fine with the spinning but all of a sudden I don’t have enough twist. I changed to a merino and am loving it. A bag full of kool aid is waiting. Now that I’m writing this it does not sound right. Gorgeous merino and kool aid? Kool aid never sounded right, but I want to play with colors.

If this were a letter I’d include a p.s. about having had two acupuncture sessions with a little success. I would mention in a p.p.s. that Toby after coming home from the Montana fire and mandatory two day rest is out at the American fire with over 1000 other firefighters in our neighborhood. And to follow that fire, here is the link:

And for the hundredth time let me go check if the shawl is dry yet.

P.P.P.S. Surprise, I’ve started another shawl! Have done 2 socks but not of the same pair. Started another sock. Picking out yarn for two more shawls as presents. Life goes on for now.




Eye Candy

Let me start with some housekeeping before I give you scrumptuous eye candy. Or ignore me and scroll down.

For some reason when I signed up with wordpress I knew not what I was doing. So this blog ended up titled with my name. Yuck! It’s like hearing your own voice or seeing yourself in the mirror in the mornings. I will try changing that today or in the next days. If you are subscribed here I have no idea what will happen. If you do not receive notifications anymore, perhaps do a search for Gemini at Work, I will try for that name.

Old Lenin would be proud of me. Yesterday I knit 6 rows on the KAL lace shawl, tinked 6 rows and knit 2. You are wondering why I’m not hysterically throwing the thing in a far, far corner? Because now I’m the proverbial dog with the bone, I can’t let go. I will show that shawl who the master is. It can’t get any worse, so success will be mine today.

I’m not understanding what is going wrong. I knit, I count, I use pencil and paper, I cross out, I double check, I’m awake. Apparently none of those qualities are needed to knit a shawl, or at least this shawl. Breathe!

Yesterday was still a good day. I got my interchangeable needle set. The addi long lace ones. They arrived 30 minutes too late to start the lace scarf. Yes, I admit, I started another lace project. You knew it? But I had to use half a size up because I could not find the right needles. When the set arrived I immediately switched with a prayer that no one could tell I’m now using a different size needle.

I probably never showed you the yarn I’m using. Have a look, it’s from Hand Maiden. Smells a little, in a good way, but not really like the ocean. But yes, it contains seacell.


Not sure I picked the right project for this yarn. Time will tell if I frog or knit on.

Now to the pictures you have all been waiting for. Y’all know I started spinning. It will take me months to master that skill, but I’m keeping at it. Bought a few pounds of cheap yarn to practice with and waiting for the day I can use stuff I actually want to knit with.

Have you heard of Inglenook fibers? Check here. I just had to get my hands on a couple of batts and roving from Macrina. She’s an orthodox nun in Boston. But for more information visit this site. Go there if only for the picture of the craft room. I wants this.

I knew about the wool and I also knew how quickly it’s all gone. When the time came for Macrina to post the latest I was at the computer hitting refresh over and over.

And here I present you with my first batt, superwash merino, tencel, bamboo, starbright, silk, silk noil, in the color wine country:


And one more time from another angle:



Then I could not resist the bfl/silk top in the color lichen:



And apparently I have a thing for seacell, because here is the merino/seacell in the appropriate color of river stones:



And then I ran out of money and time. As soon as I learn to spin like a pro I will be going back and going crazy.

Imagine though, the nun included some crack in her package, a sample of merino/silk. Is this legal? It is the softest thing ever and had me go back to her etsy shop for another hour. A good thing she charges for shipping or I would have succumbed yet again.

My little rant of the day is about a roofer we wanted to make ours. He said he would come by to make a bid several times now and has never shown up, this morning is no exception. We had him bid a couple of years ago, but then I had a breast cancer scare and a year later the massive heart attack and bypass surgery. I think legitimate excuses not to deal with a roof. We might have to move on and find a more reliable person, sad. We kind of liked him and friends who used him were happy.


You Win Some and You Tink Some

The win: the afternoon tea shawl has the ends woven in and has been blocked. It is gorgeous and would be perfect if it was a little bigger. But there are people smaller than me on this planet and it will look stunning on them. But first: I’m not bragging about my knitting this shawl, but about the pattern and the designer Helen Stuart. OK, now that we got this straight, on to the pictures:

close up
close up


Did I promise too much? It was the fabulous knitting part of my weekend.

The sorrow came with the mystery KAL shawl I’m working on. When clue number 5 came in I was 2 weeks behind. Immediately I finished clue 3 without major trauma if I remember correctly. But clue 4 brought tears and tinking and frogging. It was not difficult but for whatever reason, I lost the ability to count, follow directions, concentrate, etc.

I kept on thinking that I know how to knit, I know how to count to high numbers, but what about my ability to follow directions? Apparently I’m a bit challenged in that department. My first attempt was fudging it. I could force the right number of stitches (now in the 200s) by decreasing or increasing in inconspicuous places. That backfired, looked shitty, and instead of stopping before the point of no return, I kept on knitting. Really Marianna, you think this will fix itself?

I was facing the music 2 rows short of finishing up the week. Now the problem was tinking or frogging. Stephen, my numbers guy, could not resist telling me that I’m looking at tinking 11,500 stitches. Thanks for that information Steve.

Apparently I don’t believe in putting in lifelines, still have not learned that lesson. So what was I to do? No way was I going to undo stitch by stitch. I saw a few rows of plain vanilla knitting and decided frog back to those rows. With fast beating heart I reached the point and was about to pick up the stitches when friends arrived. They are not knitters and most likely did not understand the situation I was in. 250 plus stitches on the lose! There was no way this could wait and they sat patiently chatting watching me herd the stitches back on the needle.

I wish I could report that with heightened awareness I managed to get caught up without problems and: the end. Not so. I would knit 6 rows be off in the count, tink 2 rows, notice I had not made a mistake after all but was reading the wrong row in the directions, huff and puff and knit on. So went my Sunday. Very late at night I found myself with one row left and one extra stitch. No, no way. I put it all down for today when I will knit 2 together and problem solved. Go on to clue 5 and be caught up.

If I have this much problems with a pattern I put it down for a couple of days, or weeks, or years. But with this I can’t. I told myself I would keep up with everyone else knitting this shawl. And I’m sticking to it. Don’t know what life lesson is in there or if I even need any life lessons as I’m heading to the end of my life, OK, the last couple of decades.

The issue is I want to start another pattern. As so often happens coincidences collide in a major way and I can’t resist.

I was reading grumperina’s blog and found the following scarf: melon scarf. Go ahead, take a look at the scarf. I happen to have one skein of said yarn that she made the scarf with. Told you, life can be coincidental. I had no project in mind, just wanted to try out some seacell. The pattern, well, guess what, the library carries the book with the pattern: Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. (This link is to Ravelry, you might have to be a member to see it. It’s free to sign up and definitely worth it if you’re a knitter, if you are not, then look around and ask the knitter in your life to make you something. Remember though, you have to be real good to this person so they will put hours and days of their lives into a project for you.)

See? Picture, yarn, pattern. What am I to do, ignore it?

I have a couple of books to recommend.

1. The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin
Being a spinner called for a spinning book in my library. It is a very informative read with lots of history and wonderful writing.

2. Sheepish by Catherine Friend
At first I thought she was trying too hard to be funny, but the book is growing on me. A light read to get out of the library.

I’m not doing major reviews here, go to amazon where others have done the work for me. But remember to get your books from your library or local book stores if possible.

What I like doing lately is getting the samples from iBooks to help me make decisions.

I also would like to include some rants today. No, let me just recommend some movies I streamed from Netflix this weekend. Wish I could say go to your local video stores. But they are gone now.

1. Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream. This link might get you to a free watching.

2. Hot coffee. here is a link to the web site. Streams on Netflix. We’ve all heard about the woman who spilled hot coffee on herself and sued MacDonalds. Now see the pictures and hear the real story without a corporation’s spin.

Better get to knitting, see you soon.





Cutting It Too Close

Finishing a shawl last night, my heart was pounding. Will there be enough to finish the pattern as is? I had no way to figure this out as the edging needed to be calculated, but how? Row after row left me with enough yarn for another, but then the moment of truth: casting off.

I made it to the last 5 stitches and then there was no way to go on. What now? This was a one of a kind skein and this was all I had. No swatch I could borrow from, nothing. I could tink the last row, or I could try to do a tighter cast off or another edging. But I was sooooooooooo close. Shock made me stare at the shawl and had me wondering how I could create a few inches more with my mind. How could I force a few more inches? Where was that replicator that could give me just a little more? There had to be a way. I could not be stranded with 5 open stitches, could I now.

Then I  looked at the cast on tail. Not as long as my usual, but I saw 5 stitches. Never having spliced before I went for the spit method. Finished casting off and cut the yarn so that I would have enough to weave in ends. I have never had such little ends to weave in, but it just gotta work.

Love the shawl! It’s the Afternoon Tea one from Knitty. I might knit another at some point and will not knit as loose as I did or get more yarn to begin with and make more repeats.

For now though I give you the unblocked shawl. Notice the tiny ends. Talking about no waste.

a quarter scarf
a quarter shawl
full size
full size, unblocked

I’m still working on the mystery KAL shawl and am less than one week behind. If you know me, yes, it’s a major accomplishment.

Next is a lace scarf from the book Victorian Lace Today. It’ll be a reward for catching up with the KAL. Already wound the yarn and eyeing and cuddling with it. Let’s see how far this willpower will get me today.

The shawl made me think that I knit very little that is meant to last. But that darn shawl better last longer than, let’s say, socks? Socks wear out, I get it. But shawls should be heirlooms. Am I getting a bit carried away here? It was late last night when these thoughts crossed my mind, 2 am, so perhaps it was the wee hours of the morning when I had this insight.

How will several generations later know who made this shawl? When we find old knitting, often no one knows who made it. Here is my idea then. Have you ever watched artists write microscopically on rice kernels? If they can do that, they should be able to write on little beads. And instead of a signature on a painting, we knit in a bead at the bottom of a project with our name.

Has that been done or suggested yet?