Friday, August 10, 2012

Beginning Lace Knitting

Here's the sample for the Beginning Lace Knitting class that I'll be teaching at The Naked Sheep.  I call it Wandering Lace because it sort of ambles around....

It's a fun pattern, (my own) and it pretty much teaches you what you need to know to  stop be intimidated by lace knitting.  The folks at Naked Sheep seem to like it.  They want the pattern!  The class is on Nov. 27th and Dec. 4th.  I'm excited! (No one signed up for this class, so it was cancelled.  I was bummed. 11/25/13)

Working on a Guernsey (not the cow) sweater for another class sample, as well as thinking about a sample for an Aran design class.  I'm thinking about a tea cozy or a pillow.  Can't decide.  The Guernsey is knit in a color called Ruby, and it is working up BEAUTIFULLY!

On other subjects, the Fair is almost upon us.  Margo is working frantically to get her stuff done.  I have pretty much given up trying to get anything else finished.  We have to submit our stuff this Saturday, so I am pretty much serving in an advisory capacity at this point.

Margo has some needle felting, and some knitting and a bunch of canning.  She is also doing Table Setting this year and hoping for another Champion ribbon.  We'll see!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Cleaning House

I hate to clean house.  From the time I can remember, my mom had a cleaning lady, so I was under the impression that houses just cleaned themselves every Wednesday.

When I got married and was gainfully employed I had a cleaning lady and again, the house cleaned itself every Wednesday.

When I quit working away from home I thought one of the good ways to cut expenses was to get rid of the cleaning lady.

 Now, I have made some epic mistakes in my life.  I have decided (at various times) that a Dorothy Hammill haircut was perfect for me, I really wanted to keep my childhood piano when my parents moved (why do you keep the Iron Maiden that the Spanish Inquisition used on you?  For sentimental reasons?), I decided to buy my husband a roll top desk (we now refer to this piece of furniture as "The Albatross"), I simply HAD to have black and white checked flooring in the kitchen (more on that later), I planted silver nettles (stingless) on the north side of the yard (they morph into stinging nettles and are impossible to eradicate).  All of these pale in comparison to the tragedy of not having a cleaning lady.  What was I thinking?

I am left with the job of cleaning house.  Now, I don't do it often, so it kind of builds up on me, but when the dust-jackrabbits start forming a mafia to take over the house, something must be done.  Then I find all of the "things I am not supposed to notice". Like candy wrappers under the sofa and Brussels sprouts carefully piled on the crossbar under the dining room table.  This last discovery really did happen, but it explained that peculiar smell... thanks kid.

The dog is the main dirt offender, though it's really not her fault (I would think she could shed outside, but apparently that's too much to ask). I suppose I could have her shaved (or lacquered).  Bruce is the second dirt monster.  He wears boots with deep treads and you cannot believe the crud and rocks and old worms and things that come in on those boots.  I married a man who takes not one step unless he has shoes on, so insisting that shoes come off in the house is a no-win proposition.  Not going to happen.  Margo and I are sock footed in winter and barefoot in summer (which freaks Bruce out beyond belief).  We're not tracking in that gravel.  Gotta be him.  He now has a new job, taking the area rugs to the cleaners.

Now, about that black and white checked kitchen flooring.  It was JUST what I wanted.  It is FABULOUS in the room.  However, several problems exist.  It looks dirty in about two seconds, and if you spill anything that might stain or make a large mark in the floor, who's going to take bets that it happens on one of those pristine white squares....?  You got it.  So do I, and I hate it.  Next kitchen floor is going to be the color of dirt and to heck with how it looks in the room.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hamper Remake

Hamper remake

Margo had an old hamper (circa 1958) and she hated it.  I have to admit, it is bordering on ugly.  So here's what we did.

We used pink flowered fabric and using the basic ironing-board covering technique I learned about 35 years ago, we covered the top and padded it with batting.   Then we made a skirt out of the coordinating stripe.  My daughter learned how to thread elastic through a casing, how to measure and draft patterns, wind a bobbin, press a hem up, and sew a casing.  Not a bad day's work!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaching knitting in the age of information

I was asked by a friend for help with a knitting project.  This is a new knitter (comparatively) and she was reaching beyond scarves.  She had picked a pattern online and was stuck at a slightly ambiguous instruction.  I got the pattern company and pattern name, I downloaded it, I printed it off. 

Then we got down to cases.  Where EXACTLY was she stuck?  Figured that out.  So then I walked her through the confusion step by step.  I did all this with her 50 miles from me sitting in her house and I in mine.  On Facebook chat.

To me, this is an incredible thing.  I went to college.  I took "Computer Programming and Statistics".  Never in my wildest DREAMS would I expect to chat to my friends (anywhere in the WORLD).  Never did I think I would solve knitting dilemmas on chat.

Now I grant you, we DID set up a knitting fun day at the same time.  We're meeting and having a fiber fest in a couple of weeks.  Nothing takes the place of being in the same room, but when you are stuck it's kind of nice to have a knitting instructor on your computer.

I was perusing Ravelry today.  How many really nifty patterns are on there?  Millions, I'll bet.  Did those geeks, sitting in their garages and the basement computer labs in the 80's really imagine that their nifty personal computers would allow me to access shawl patterns from NORWAY (available in six languages)?  I'll bet they didn't.  I'll bet they didn't know how we would turn their invention to our own use.

It's kind of like making a shawl or a quilt for someone as a gift and then going to their house and seeing it used as a tablecloth, couch cover or a dog bed (I've seen all three).  You are shocked, but you gave it to them, and they use it as they see fit.

Sorry Mr. Jobs, Mr. Wozniak, and Mr. Gates.  We took your beautiful work and used it to spread knitting propaganda.  We used your gorgeous creation, not to launch rockets, but as a metaphorical tablecloth.  However, in the process we are creating beauty and keeping idle hands busy.  We are spending hours making lovely gifts that will be used as picnic blankets.  We understand.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jerome's Sock

I was thinking the other day about Jerome's Sock.  It's always capitalized, always.  Here goes.

Once, when I was teaching a sock knitting class at a local yarn shop, I had a student, Mary, who was knitting a pair of socks to surprise her husband, Jerome.

We were about halfway through the four weeks of class, and one evening just as I was getting ready to leave for class, my phone rang.

“Hello, this is Andrew from Alaska Airlines.  This is going to sound strange, but your business card was found in a bag of knitting on one of our flights.”


“There was also a note in the bag that says ‘Jerome 10 ½ inches’.  There is a lot of needles in there, it sort of looks like it might be a sock?  We know you were not a passenger, but I wondered…”

The penny finally dropped.  Jerome!  Oh heavens!  I told Andrew that the knitting was not mine, but one of my students.  Could I come and get it?  (I live very close to the airport)  I certainly could, as Andrew really didn’t want to be responsible for all those needles and Jerome’s Sock for any longer than necessary.

Now, I had visions of Mary getting home from her flight and ransacking her luggage looking for her errant sock… what could I do?  I called the yarn shop and asked for Mary’s number.  Got it!

Called Mary’s house and (oh dear) Jerome answered.  Mary wasn’t home, but was expected at any moment.  I explained to Jerome that Mary had left her knitting on the airplane and that I was going to collect it from Alaska Airlines and bring it to class with me.  A Confused Jerome agreed to pass on the message.

A rush to the airport and the lost luggage desk at Alaska, thanking them profusely for not chucking the mass of needles and ersatz sock.  (I wrote them a nice note after and I hope Andrew got a brownie point)  Then flying to class and returning Jerome’s Sock to its rightful owner. The socks were completed, and Jerome was surprised.  How many Airlines, or airline employees would take the time to do this?  Not very many.  Thanks Andrew.

Lesson learned, I always keep my business card in all project bags.  Thanks Alaska Airlines and Andrew for recognizing the importance of Jerome’s Sock!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I HEARD was....

Last week I was having a taxes disconnect.  I really didn't notice, but Bruce and Margo thought I was a) going deaf, b) developing Alzheimers, c) losing my marbles.

I would be sitting on the couch (knitting a sock) with the TV on (background noise) and was thinking about the taxes and what I had to get together to go to the accountant.  Bruce or Margo would walk into the room and ask me a question or make a statement.  I would respond and they would stand there.... stunned.

What he SAID was: "I have to work tomorrow and the next day and I probably won't get home until late."

What my RESPONSE was: "Great, then you'll have time tomorrow to call the stupid lawyer about the stupid check that they made out to the wrong stupid person."  There he stands.... stunned.

What I HEARD was: "I have to work (I wonder if I have all of the  expense paperwork calculated)won't (does that show up in the register report?) late."

Eventually the stunned wore off and he repeated his original statement.  Louder, and slower.

What Margo SAID was:  "I brought up what you wanted, diced tomatoes in tomato juice." (for dinner)

What my RESPONSE was: "Well, I know there's some down there, you just didn't look in the right place.  It's with the vegetables, not with the juice."

What I HEARD was: "I brought up (did I remember to include the deductions for health insurance?) tomato juice."

Again, stunned.  But Margo is onto me, she turned on her heel, flounced out of the room and returned with the offending can of  "DICED TOMATOES IN TOMATO JUICE, MOTHER!!!"  Okay, I got it.

The taxes are to the accountant, I only forgot one thing and that was easily fixed.  I appear to have gotten over my selective hearing. (knit one, knit 2 tog, YO, knit 3)  What?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Patience is a Virtue

I've finally figured it out.  It has taken me a long time.  I am the victim of PATIENCE, or at least the concept of patience.  Here's what happens...

I'm sitting, knitting.  It's usually socks because they are small and fit in my bag.  Anyway, it could be anything, a hat even.  A non-knitter begins a conversation asking what I am knitting.  After making the appropriate noises over my project, they let me have it...  "I wish I could knit, but I just don't have the patience."


"Lady," I think (because they usually are women), "you have absolutely NO IDEA with whom you are speaking."  (and yes, I do think that way, my mom was a librarian and a primary school teacher).

Patience.  It may be a virtue but it is NOT one of mine. 

I suffer no fools gladly, I am  "Difficult to Manage" (per my past employment evaluations).  If you ask a silly question, you are liable to get a highly technical, factually accurate answer designed to make you feel like a complete boob.  I write scathing letters to companies, personalities and elected officials on a regular basis.  I have a toxic vocabulary and can impugn your ancestry all the way back to the last ice age in words so long and complex you need an unabridged dictionary to sort them out.  Patience my hiney.

In the past, I have responded to the Impatient Lady with a smile.  "Oh no!  I exclaimed.  "I am one of the LEAST patient humans on the planet.  I do this so I don't sit and twitch."

It didn't work.  I always got that smile.  You know the one... that smile that implies that you are really Job in disguise, and refuse to admit that you have endless amounts of patience (as evidenced by the knitting) and are concealing your light under a bushel of denial.  Nothing you can possibly do or say at this point will deter the Impatient Lady from her conviction that I possess PATIENCE.

As I say, I have figured it out, finally.  When the Impatient  Lady lets me have it with the patience line, I look up, carefully examine her and smile.  Then I let her have it.

"I don't have to be patient.  I'm fast".

BOOM!  There it is! Not a self deprecating disclaimer about my lack of patience.  I have countered her patience argument with a statement so blatantly pompous and self assured that usually she laughs in astonishment!

Some Impatient Ladies back slowly away and sit down quietly, but most start a long and pleasant conversation about handwork and I usually refer them to my Local Yarn Shop (sometimes I even have their business card in with my yarn).

I'm attempting to convert the world, one knitter at a time.  If I have to do it by being pompous, so be it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Designing a Valentine Hat

I had a thought (which is always a danger).  Ideas about what to do for an over-the-top Valentine Hat.  For starters, a Valentine hat pretty much has to be red and white, right?  (Come to find out, not so much)  I started with a typical 2/2 rib white hat with red hearts knit in.... bleh.  OUT it ripped!  I looked at the yarn, and I got EZ's book and tried to knit small hearts using her heart idea for the back of her heart hat.  I wanted  hearts about 1.5 to 2 inches across.  Didn't work, I got red blobs.  So, I sat and looked at the yarn for another day.
I was looking for a hat with style, not cutesy but whimsical.  Whimsy is my middle name, right? (those who know me are gagging)  I saw a gal in a hat that was knit in alternating bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette so it looked horizontally ribbed, but it was brown so it rather resembled a large cow pie.... I wanted more structure.
This is what I came up with:
And in Blue:

They are on etsy, and I just finished one that's red with white hearts.  Fingers crossed!
By the way, my sulky model was not best pleased that I made her stand in the rain in hats....oh well, such is the price of being my kid!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Changing the Lares and Penates

I finally got around to dealing with the house.  I figure I'd better take down Christmas before it's Valentine's think?  Anyway, I always refer to this (in my head because no one would get it) as the Changing of the Lares and Penates.  Lares and Penates were Roman house gods.  They found bunches of them when excavating Roman ruins.  There, that's as much explanation as you get.

Anyway, I take down Santas, and snowmen and nativities and snowcovered houses and I replace them with fossils, Zapotec gods in black pottery, Tang horses, elephants and rabbits of all sorts.  The Oaxacan wooden figures return, replacing reindeer.  The "Three Chinese Guys" (as Bruce says), the gods of Longevity, High Rank and Fortune are put out where the Christmas Village was. 
You see, I change my Lares and Penates.  Not any Lares or Penates the Romans would recognize, but I have to make do....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January, a time for resolutions (or not)

Well, today after paying the bills, I resolve to spend less in 2012.  Not sure where I'm going to cut the budget... I can't cut my spending on fabric, books or yarn.  Maybe electricity or water.... you think?  Perhaps kid clothes.  Groceries?  Nah.

I resolve to eat more (vegetables), and to drink more (water) and to drink less (wine) and to be more organized (like I don't resolve to do that every year and we ALL know how THAT works out).  I resolve to be less (of a control freak) and more (of a relaxed person).  I resolve to not let the failure to follow any of these resolutions get me down, after all, I have the BEST of intentions.

I'm thinking of a scarf that is only a cable.  a BIIIIIIG cable and that's all.  How would I do that?  hmmmmm.  Gotta work on that one.

Just sent in the registrations for Sew and Stitchery EXPO in Puyallup.  We've got our room all booked and Phyl is coming from Kansas.  She must have had a good time last year, because she's coming back.  Evidently we didn't scare her as badly as I thought we might.  I have a couple of things I'm looking for up there (please refer to resolution #1).  I actually don't have too much that I want, and if I start thinking I do, I can just go up and stand in the middle of the pile that purports to be my studio and get over the buying feeling.

If there was an earthquake while I was in there, I would be suffocated under the piles of STUFF (fabric, yarn, patterns, books, thread.....).  Killed by my own excess.  Of course, if there is an apocalypse of some sort and I'm NOT in there, I will be SAVED because I will have supplies to create an entirely new life for my family because *I* will have enough fabric to sew (I have a treadle machine) and yarn to knit and fiber to spin FOREVER!!!!  So, I'll just keep dashing in and out of the studio... right? Picture post-apocalyptic me, sewing with my grandma's treadle Singer, dressed in fabrics dating from the '70's (that orange.....shudder), with my daughter and husband flogging my wares on the street corners to those too silly to stock up BEFORE the end of civilisation.  I'm ready!

I resolve to be ready.  That's IT!  The ultimate resolution!