Creative Knight

Don’t worry.  This post is rated G. 

After emailng the instructions for building a PVC niddy noddy to the Knight twice, showing him Anita’s designer version and pouting, Thursday’s rain somehow moved him to action.  Now, keep in mind that while he works with PVC daily, our business uses larger diameters than what the instructions suggested.  Rather than send someone to town for supplies for a non-work-related project, he put on his thinking cap and pulled out some 1/2″ pex pipe.  It’s a bit flexible, and he’s concerned about that, but what I like is that the bugger’s portable!  It’s literally a snap to assemble, and I will nab a jumbo rubberband to hold it all together Tuesday…

There’s no end to his ingenuity.  Yesterday, we went shopping for roses for the Garden (still no definitive name), and I grabbed stitch markers, but not enough, and not big enough for the needles I was using.  He first offered keys (yes, he probably did have enough on that ring to do for the project), but no thanks.  I was trying to soldier on without them, when we stopped for lunch.  Turns out a Taco Bell straw is precisely just big enough for #7 needles.  Thank goodness he always carries a SHARP pocket knife with him. 

I love that it coordinates with the yarn, that Tofutsies is tough enough not to mind the slightly rough edges on some “markers”, and I know the recipient will love that the Knight had a hand in the project, so even though I’ve been home for several rows, they’re staying in place for the duration.

That wad of lace is what I was very literally obsessed with casting on at 6am or so yesterday.  I’ve gone from not being able to knit to NEEDING to knit, and not being able to get my fingers/needles to fly fast enough to satisfy my inner knitter.  I awoke with the knowledge that I must frog a project, set aside another newly started one I want to crank out in a hurry, and start THIS, right NOW.  It is for my aunt with colon cancer, so it needs to be ready to go ASAP, so she has it for her hospital stay next week.  I’m about half-way, and I know that because I am modifying the pattern to work with the one skein of Tofutsies I have.  (Shush.  Of course I have dozens of skeins of Tofutsies and even at least one colorway with two skeins, but this is a limited edition colorway, and it’s perfect.  Also, auntie wants a shoulder shawl, so again, one skein is perfect.)  You see, it had to be Tofutsies.  She loves the beach as much as I do, so the chitin in there will make her smile.  Plus, I can’t expect her caretakers to fuss with handwashing and blocking.  They do iron for her, and auntie first taught me to knit a LONG time ago, so she’ll see to it that it gets pressed into a pretty shape after washing.

And of course, Grace’s Comforting Heart (see link above) is the perfect pattern.  This yarn won’t show the pattern to its fullest, but auntie and I will know those hearts are there.  She’ll also know that for every heart on the shawl, wrapped around her as she heals, there’s someone praying for her. 

Now that I’ve had to shove my fists in my eyes, let’s talk about the other WIP I started Friday evening.  If I you Rav-stalk me (and I know some of you do; turnabout is fair play after all), you know I’ve been clicking on just about every top-down sweater ever knitted, and a few not-that-style sweaters too.  So don’t act all surprised that in a fit of frenzy on Friday, I purchased the Plath Cropped Cardigan.  Then, I came home and stole some pretty, bright blue yarn from what was going to be the Knight’s firefighter afghan.  (I justified that by the copious reviews on how Cotton Fleece bleeds.  That won’t do on an afghan with no fewer than eight colors!)  I actually swatched, cast on, and know I want to finish this in a hurry so I can enjoy wearing it immediately.  However, there was a little heart-tug moment here too, when I was putting the project in my Ravelry list and realized the color is called My Blue Heaven.  Miss you, Muggums.

And the frogged…  Shawl pattern #2 for the lovely blue alpaca laceweight that will become a wrap for someone very special bit the dust.  The Blue Jay pattern wasn’t working for me.  So, once I finish the Comforting Hearts, I’ll decide whether I have time to push that one through for the deadline I have in mind, or wait and crank it out for Christmas.  Third time’s the charm so they say, so I’m very hopeful that Julia  will indeed be the pattern that works for this yarn and me.

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In Honor of Labor…

Labor Day, that is, not the labor that a friend might soon be in…

I have to admit that this is one of those holidays I don’t “celebrate”.  Please do click on the link above, and if you read nothing else, scroll down to the last paragraph, and join me in pondering how our lives are better because of the labor movements of the previous centuries.  PLEASE don’t get political on me; I just thought that perhaps others might need to pause and appreciate the origins of the day off many Americans will enjoy on Monday.

So, regardless of whether this is a long weekend for you or not, what’s on your agenda?  I have absolutely nothing on mine.  I plan to get the Knight to restore my wheel to working order, and then I’ll spin, knit, play with Sissy, eat, sleep, etc.  until it’s time to come to work Tuesday morning. 

Happy weekend!

Only Child

I’m actually not much in a mood to do a Dogs on Thursday post today.  However, I know from grievings past that going through the motions of normalcy works, so here you go.

The Princess of Joy, Missy Moo, Missy Sissy, Gretchen-Danica-Diana is doing just fine on her own.  She’s being very attentive to her people, especially me, and she’s trying so hard to be a REALLY good girl.  She also wishes those of you to the west would turn fans our way or something, because suddenly, my devil may care girl is too prissy to stay outside to do her business.  The pup who loved playing in the rain and snow, the girl who thinks yard sprinklers are toys, won’t pooo with the wet stuff falling from the sky.  If you don’t know where we live, we’re about 30 hour into the remnants of Hurricane Faye dumping much-needed rain on us, with another 30+ hours to go.  Something’s going to have to give soon, and I hope it does indeed happen outside.

Oh, and in what is probably the last post on Mugsy’s site, I put up some information on spinal cord strokes.

Now, moving on to an FO report.  Yes, I have more than a handful of works in progress, including one shawl I’d really, REALLY like to finish by September 8th, but I just couldn’t pick any of them up since Saturday.  However, this very silly project called to me, and it helped me get back into the rhythm of knitting.

Pattern:  This Beer’s for Her (Ravelry link)   I called it Beer for my horses holder, with a nod to a song that always makes me happy, and makes me want a beer.  While it works, there HAS to be an easier way to get very similar results… one ruffle is cast on, knitted, put on waste thread, then later picked up and knitted into the body, and then you pick up and knit the bottom.  Using dishcloth cotton on #3 dpns was HARD on my hands, so something different will have to happen if/when I make another.  (Yeah, that’s a legit beer in there, but I didn’t drink it last night.)

Yarn:  Peaches & Creme Ombres, in Newport.  (Funny that, considering that a couple of days before I scooped up this yarn for this project, I’d ordered a Namaste Newport…)  Lovely colors, and the pooling doesn’t bother me, but DANG cotton is hard on the hands!  Those of you who crank out cloths all the time, how do you do it?

Needles:  #3 Knitpicks Metal dpns.  Rock-solid functionality.  What else needs to be said?

Verdict:  I’d like to knit more.  They’re cute, and could be a very quick knit if some of you will tell me how to make cotton knittable.  I probably will go up a needle size on the next one, not because this is too tight on the bottle – it’s snug, but I didn’t have to battle to get it on – but because that has to help, right?

Day of Rembrances

ETA – Today is also the birthday of a woman  who happens to share a name with my grandmother as well. 

Today’s one of those days in my family’s history…  I bet some of you have them too.  My father’s mother was born on this date a long, LONG time ago, and died on this date over 30 years ago.  My parents were both married and physically separated on this date, with 17 years in between.  My grandmother’s last husband also died on this date, a few years after her death.

I don’t have but one photo of my paternal grandmother, and it is under a thick glass, in a weird frame where the photo is mounted in such a fashion that the photo is damaged if you attempt to removed said photo.  So, you don’t get to see her.  I can’t even tell you much about her, because she died when I was very young, but nonetheless, she still made quite an impression on my life.  She was a force to be reckoned with, and I am sure a lot of my need to lead and inability to be a compliant follower comes from her.  (Did I just admit that?!) 

Nannie, from the 1980s

Nannie, from the 1980s

I grew up hearing, “Remember who you are and what you represent.”  I’m proud of my heritage, on both sides, no matter how vastly different my own parents’ backgrounds are.  Both of my grandmothers were truly matriarchs, strong, Christian women, who held their families together through The Great Depression and on into this new century, in the case of my maternal grandmother.  Both women buried their husbands rather early (by my standards) in their lives.  Both were OLD, when compared to my friends’ grands.  Still, I have fond memories of Nannie teaching me to play Go Fish, Crazy Eights, about a dozen forms of solitaire (oh, how I wish she’d been just young enough to get into computers and the THOUSANDS of versions of solitaire at our fingertips now!), and nearly every other card game I know.  Sadly, my father’s mother already was battling colon cancer when I was old enough to play, so I have a hazy memory of rubbing lotion on her back in the hospital, and a similar memory once the early version of Hospice brought her home to live out her last few days in familiar surroundings. 

That’s a nice segue into my aunt’s surgery.  September 4th, they’ll operate to remove her tumor.  She is still insisting she will not undergo chemotherapy though.  (And yes, she’s the daughter of the grandmother who died from colon cancer.  I get checked next year, thank you, but I’ve been on a high fiber diet for years…)

Mugsy, fall 1995

Mugsy, fall 1995

I also want to thank you, all of you, for the continued sympathies and support.  Mugsy and I were nearly constant companions for 12 years and nine months, which is longer than anyone else has put up with me day in and day out.  (The Knight’s now gaining ground, and should eclipse Mugsy’s record next year.  He did indeed gift that incredible four-legged bundle of love to me, but as Mugsy reminded him almost nightly, HE lived with me before the Knight did!)

Oooh Lookie…

A distraction!  Distractions are a good thing right now.  I found this on Sonya’s blog, and reading is probably my first love, despite the fact that I’ve read maybe a dozen books in the past year, because you can’t read and knit you know!  (Yes, audio books.  I need to go there…)

The Big Read  is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives and of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six.
*Look at the list and bold those we have read.
*Italicize those we intend to read.
*Underline the books we LOVE .
That us just too much work, so I will make bold the titles I have read
Share this list in your blog, too, if you like.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

How’d you do?  That’s just under 2/3rds of the list (and it’s not *MY* list of must-reads, I’ll add).  While I’m bragging, I’ll also mention that a few of the ones that were originally written in French were read as part of an upper level French course in college, so I’d like brownie points for those, thanks much.  (And no, I cannot do much in the way of reading or speaking French or Latin these days, so don’t get clever and comment in anything other than English.)

In other news, I cannot knit.  After the wreck, I couldn’t knit for a while either, although Sissy arrived so soon thereafter that I “blamed” it on her.  I forced myself to finish the rather flawed hat (see post below), but I just can’t pick up anything else.  The only thing that truly interests me – aside from Rav-stalking and doing my part to have the largest favorites and/or queue’d lists on Ravelry – is a silly, ruffled beer bottle cozy.  (Please pardon me, Lady Pattern Writer, but I really think I needed to borrow your photo to show my readers…)  Now, I don’t even drink beer, not more than say three times a year, and then it’s one particularly cold bottle, and that’s that.  Go figure.

Last, but hardly least, happy birthday to Alison!  She bought herself a rather cute present, even if another soul in her household doesn’t share Alison’s opinion…

Knitting Through the Tears

My hands had to have something to do over the weekend.  I’d made quite a bit of progress Friday and Saturday on my second Ravelympics hat.  I’d had a decent weekend, up until Saturday night.  The River City training portion had been on top down sweaters, and I was very inspired.  The first birthday party we attended Saturday afternoon was also quite nice, and I’m sorry I’m not inspired to share more about those with you.

So, I knitted.  And I knitted.  I like the yarn very much, and the pattern was fine, albeit uninspiring.  (That was a good thing this past weekend.)  The Knight suggested that I should just give the hat to Sissy as a toy, but I figured I would donate it to Ann‘s hat drive, but with the clarification that if it was deemed too awful, she could let her cat use it.

Details:

Pattern:  Ripple Brim Chemo Cap (Ravelry link)  It was a nice enough pattern, but DK weight hats aren’t for me.  I like thicker yarn for hats.  There wasn’t enough instant gratification in this one for me, and I’m not crazy about combining a rolled brim with a ripple.

Yarn:  Elle Pure Gold DK.  Don’t know where I got it, but I do remember it was for a baby shower gift for the baby who celebrated her first birthday Saturday.  Love the color, and it had a great feel as it slipped through my fingers.

Needles:  Mostly my Bryspun #5 circs.  The top was done on my bamboo #5 dpns. 

The hat will have to be for someone with a big head, or someone whose head is tender and doesn’t want anything with ANY negative ease at all.  I’m sorry it isn’t perfect, but I sure am glad I had it to distract me Saturday evening.

There were other moments of happiness over the weekend.  I got a few special packages Friday and Saturday. 

First, there was a gift from the Knight.  I’m pen-picky, and had snarked a few days prior that if his new pen had one of those padded grippers around it, I would indeed try to steal it.  It’s a pen and pencil set, and while I rarely use a pencil, I do once in a while use one on a pattern.  (What you can’t see is at the top, on the portion of the box that is underneath the rest in this photo, where Sissy had carted the whole set, box and all, off for a chew.  Luckily, I came back into the room before anything other than the box showed any signs of bad girl teethmarks!)

I also won a prize in the Secret of the Stole iii.  Good thing, because I am already two clues behind.  Sigh.  It’s a cute little key ring/wraps per inch tool from Karat Stix.  I’m both shocked and grateful that Sissy rejected this as a chew toy.  She loves wood.  With spinning lurking on the horizon, this is a great addition to my fiber tool kit! 

Last, but hardly least, was the biggest, best-timed surprise of the weekend.  I was waiting on a check from Barbara for a Pampered Chef  item, so I wasn’t expecting a big ol’ box!  Inside was a yummy loaf of her homemade bread and my new most favorite kitchen towel.  The bread really was a godsend; that and some mint tea were all I could keep down Saturday night and Sunday morning.  Sissy rushes to the kitchen when she hears me unwrap the bread, because she loves the oats.  Crazy dog.  Thank you so very much, Barbara!!  It’s a kindness I can only hope to repay one day…

Good Night Sweet Prince

October 5, 1995 – August 23, 2008

Now cracks a noble heart.  Good night, sweet prince.  And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Hamlet

Horatio (quoted above) knows our pain.  To say it was unexpected is an understatement.  We’d both been in and out of the house on Saturday, but around 7:30pm, while trying to feed the dogs, the Knight noted that Mugsy’s tongue and such were barely pink.  The short version is, Mugsy couldn’t eat, and was in serious respiratory distress.  I rushed him to the emergency vet, where they very literally snatched him from my arms and put him on oxygen.  Before the vet tech finished collecting the history from me, she was called to the back, and moments later, the vet came out, mostly to ask if I wanted them to try CPR if it came to that.

The Knight was at a fire (our local Taco Bell will be closed for a while) when I headed into town, but was back at the station when I called.  He got there just in time to review the X-rays with us.  There was no real sign of degenerative disk disease; he had one spot of arthritis on the lower-most portion of his spine, but that was it.  Emergency vet’s best guess was that his back issues were the result of a series of strokes, all impacting his spinal cord.  At any rate, he’d lost the ability to empty his bladder, and there weren’t any real treatment options, not for regular day to day management.

I wish that vet would start her own practice.  She and the tech were remarkable in their care of Mugsy and their compassion for us.  We have great vets now, but these two are truly a gift to veterinary medicine.  They reassured us that we’d gone above and beyond in trying to help Mugsy make the most of his time with us, and that this REALLY was the right decision for Mugsy. 

Bless his little heart…  To the end, my little man was focused on me.  He licked and licked my face, and even the Knight allowed Mugsy to lick his face several times.  I assured him that he’d soon be running with Fred, and Pop would probably be on hand to throw the ball for him too.  (Funny how more than one of you also suggested that as the word trickled around late last night and early this morning.)  I don’t think more than a square inch here or there was untouched as Mugsy left his broken body aside.  The vet, the tech, the Knight and I were all RIGHT THERE with him.  As with Fred, he left us very quickly, not leaving any time for regrets.

What truly moved us beyond measure was the offer – and of course, we eagerly accepted – of a clay imprint of Mugsy’s paw.  Clay Paw Kits and the emergency vet’s thoughtfulness in offering such a service, meant more to me than even the Knight understands.  (Photos tomorrow or Tuesday.  Our print is baking as I type.)  In a touch of providence, Rosanne had gifted me a kit with the very same purpose just yesterday. 

Sissy is okay.  Last night was very hard on her; she kept looking for Mugsy, and wore me out asking out over and over.  This morning, two dear friends came over to help the Knight bury Mugsy next to Fred.  It’s no longer Fred’s Garden.  If anyone has a short but sweet suggestion for a name, I’d love to hear it.  We’ve added quite a bit to the garden this afternoon, but again, photos will come later.  The inlaws have also reminded me why I love them so; Sissy will be allowed to go to work for a while.  She’s going to miss him for sure… we all will. 

I don’t know what’s next with Mugsy’s Mobile Mission.  I don’t even know the status of his wheels.  Ideally, we’ll be able to cancel the order.  I’m going to see if the local shelter can use his weewee pads, diapers, and lift strap.  Sissy literally took his crate pad as her own;  I had removed it from his crate so all the Knight would have to do is fold up the crate and put it away, but Sissy took the pad in her mouth and headed for her own crate.  Sweet girl…

So, that’s that.  Our vet did absolutely nothing wrong, missed nothing obvious.  Mugsy was just a tough little solider, who hung on as long as he could, and even managed to give us some extra, sweet memories the last couple of weeks.  We were blessed to have him in our lives.