My quilt!

July 18, 2010

I didn’t make this, it isn’t knitting, but I just had to show it off…

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Isn’t that gorgeous?  It’s my new quilt, and my sister made it for me!  She started quilting a couple of years ago, and offered to make me one.  I picked out the materials in January – it was so hard!  I finally understood why people who don’t knit have such a hard time envisioning projects and yarn choices – she took me to her quilt store and I was completely overwhelmed by all the pattern and fabric choices.  But someone who worked there helped us, and I picked out all the material.   My sister started it a few months ago, and kept on telling me how nice it was – and today I saw it for myself when I picked it up.  Its beautiful – I can’t get a good picture of the whole thing – its huge!  But it looks beautiful on the bed, and is perfect for the room – we picked shades of green for the walls, and all of the colors in the quilt just stand out.

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I can’t decide on what my favorite block is – but this one is in the top two – I love the black and pink combo.  In fact, I think all of the black in the quilt just add a little bit of something different.  It really is amazing – I’m not a quilter (I can’t sew period) so it’s just amazing to me that she took all of this fabric and created something like this.  She’s very creative and is so passionate about quilting that its fun to listen to her.  And of course, its great to get the end product!    Thanks, sis!

I haven’t been knitting a lot this week – I’ve been having some medical issues that just made me really tired and just not up to it.  But when I could, I did work on the Aeslight shawl a little and I’m up to the lace border.   I’m really enjoying it, and I hope that the meds that I’m taking get me back to normal quickly – I really want to finish this section and get to the edging!

I also want to finish the shawl because I have the yarn for my next project….

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Isn’t that pretty?  It’s from Wandering Cat and I just couldn’t resist the colorway!  I am not sure what I’m going to make with it – it’s 400 yards of fingering, but I am sure I’ll find something for it.  Definitely a shawl though – and I can’t wait to start using it!

I’ve been spinning a lot this weekend, and I’m just about done with the roving I’m spinning.  I’m trying to decide if I should Navajo ply it, or if I should just ply it like I always do.  I’ve only done Navajo plying once when I was learning – and my teacher was there.  I’ve watched some videos of it online, and it looks fairly easy – but then again, I can also see me really messing up the yarn, so I may take the easy way out and just two ply it.   I’m really loving the spinning though – it feels so good to get back into it!   I should have some new yarn to show next time – and some new roving that I just had to get.

OK, I’m off to get some knitting in – have a great week!

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Mom’s Scarf

July 5, 2010

I have mentioned before that my Mother  taught me to knit. I think I’ve mentioned that my Mother is a serious Knitter.  She’s been knitting her entire life, and was  taught by her grandmother – who sounds like she was another serious Knitter.  Mom remembers going over her grandmother’s when she was a very little girl – and my grandmother asking her where her mittens were. My mother said she didn’t have them – and my grandmother just whipped up a pair right there, ready for her when she went home. So knitting has been always a part of my mother’s life, and my memories of my mother always involve the clicking of her aluminum needles.

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When I was growing up, I always had mittens and hats made by my mother. I would occasionally get a sweater, and I remember one Christmas where she made my father and I fair isle sweaters from Icelandic Wool (I still have my father’s – and that’s a story for another post). As I got older, though, she didn’t knit for me as much – frankly, before I was a knitter I don’t think I really appreciated what she made as much as I should have. But I did get the occasional scarf, mittens or sweater.  Since I started knitting, however, my Mom hasn’t made me anything. She figured that since I knit I could just make things myself. So she’d send scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks to my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews and occasionally, Dan, Andrew and Cieara. But never me. And I understood it – but sort of wished that I’d get something too.

My Mom is 90 and is starting to lose her eyesight due to macular degineration. She still knits but she can’t knit with anything fine or small needles. And she has a hard time with patterns and remembering where she is. She keeps on telling me that she thinks she is going to have to stop knitting – but you can tell she just doesn’t want to. She loves going to yarn stores, reading patterns and trying new things. Its really hard for her to give it up – and I think she also thinks she’s giving up that connection to me. She was so excited when I started knitting and she loves to talk about it with me.

Anyway, when I was visiting her in February, she was making my sister a scarf. I was joking around that I never got scarves – and she told me she’d make me one. And when she finished my sisters (my mother is a one project knitter), she started mine. I heard about the yarn, the pattern, and how she was struggling to find the right pattern.

Long story short (its already been long I know!) – my mother has been working on this scarf for months – and has struggled through it. She told me its much harder to knit for me than it is for anyone else because I would “see the mistakes” She’s frogged it three times completely because she thought it just wasn’t good enough. I kept on telling her that I didn’t care – that everyone has mistakes in their knitting but she just couldn’t do it.  She wanted to send me something that I would love because its perfect.

Last week I finally got the scarf, and I had to share it because I think that it represents the best thing about knitting – the memory, the love and the meaning behind some of the projects we do.

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I don’t think that every project represents something – I churn out scarves and socks and things simply because I want to make them.  But sometimes projects have a bigger significance to me – the shawl I make for someone carries with it my love and thoughts about the person.  The baby booties I made carry with them my good thoughts for my nephew and his wife.  And this scarf that my mother struggled to make for me for months carries with it the connection we share as knitters, the love she has for me, and the memories that I have of her.   I see the scarf, and although I see some areas that aren’t as perfect as she would have liked, I see the hours, the struggle and love she put into it.  And I don’t think that I could ever love something more.  When I wear this, I’ll think about her, and will love the scarf, not because its perfect or imperfect, but because she put so much into it. And I’ll cherish it a little bit more because it may be the last thing she makes for me because of her eyesight.  I think its a pretty amazing scarf, don’t you?  It holds so much meaning, and yet its just a couple of balls of yarn (really nice yarn, but still just yarn).

Thanks for all the nice comments about the cashmere scarf.  My mother loved it – in fact, she loved it so much she forgot that I was making it for her friend and thought it was hers.  When I reminded her, she asked me if I thought it would be terrible if she kept it -= that it was too nice to give away.  I really had to laugh – but it was really nice so I completely understood it as well.  I told her that I would make something else for her friend.  But I guess that I should make sure its not too nice!

I finished Artemis and just blocked it so next time I’ll have pictures of that.  And I may have started a new project – it took me an entire day to decide but I’m really enjoying it.  And its not blue!

Have a good week!


Purple

June 20, 2010

If you look at my Ravelry project page, you’ll see that I’m in a pretty big rut – everything that I’m currently working on is blue.  I don’t know why that happens, but I’ve always been that way – in my life, and in my knitting.    I will stick with certain colors all of the time, even if I think I should have other colors around (like my clothes – mostly black, or the family room/kitchen – lots of red).  Anyway, the blue phase of knitting has been going on for some time  – but I think that it may be changing soon…

Not too far from blue, but judging on my two recent yarn purchases, I’d say purple is the next “stuck in a rut” color!

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This is Wandering Cat Alley Cat yarn in the Grapes of Wrath colorway.  Alley Cat is a Merino/Nylon blend and its fingering weight.  I think it’s going to be very pretty knit up – I just need to come up with the best patter for it.

I placed a Loopy Ewe order a couple of weeks ago for the yarn for the Peaks hood – and couldn’t resist throwing in a little Malabrigo.

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This is Malabrigo lace weight in the Cuarzo colorway.  I saw it online, and just loved it – and then when I got it and also saw the Wandering Cat yarn, I just had to laugh.  I guess I’m shading away from blue to purple!

So hard to decide which one to start something with – so they both have been sitting out where I see them all the time.   I’m trying to finish up two of my current projects – I have about 30 rows to go on the Artemis shawl and its knitting up quickly.  I’m a little worried that I’m going to run out of yarn because the ball seems a little small, but I suppose worse case I’ll improvise something.    My cashmere scarf is now long enough so I just had to do the beaded row and cast off.  I think I may do that today – assuming I can find where I put the beads!  The scarf is beautiful – so soft.  I’m going to block it so that the lace pops but I think this will be done today.    Once these two are done, I need to get a commute knitting project going – so socks or scarf?  What do you think?

We are having a very quiet weekend.  We did a little shopping yesterday (food, clothes, dog toys) and then went out to dinner.  We went to a local restaurant, sat outside and it was just so nice.   I know that in the blink of an eye it will be cold again, so its nice to be able to spend as much time outdoors as we can.  Today we are having a lazy day – Cieara is coming over for lunch, and Dan for dinner to see Larry for Father’s Day.    I’m going to be attempting to make a home-made banana cream pie  (it was so tempting to do a cheater pie with a store-bought graham cracker crust and some jello pudding mix!).  I haven’t made home-made pudding in a long long time so I hope it works out.     Other than that, its going to be really hot here so I’m planning on just hanging out by the pool, knitting and relaxing.

Our hydrangea are blooming – a little weird this year – normally they are all blue, but this year they are light blue with a white center.  I have no idea why, but it’s very pretty!

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OK, I’m off – happy Sunday (and Father’s Day if you celebrate!)


Another graduate!

June 13, 2010

Thanks everyone for the nice comments and emails you sent me about my last post.  I was really touched, and it really helped me get through the last couple of weeks.   Its been an adjustment – but things are going well, and we are taking it a day at a time.

We did have a happy family celebration this weekend though…Cieara graduated from high school on Friday!

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We all went to her graduation ceremony, and last night we had a family party for her.  It was so good to have her home and celebrate this major milestone in her life, and we all had a very good time.    Not to mention all the very good food!    She is doing well – she started her new job today, and as I said last time, we are hoping to keep communications and connections open.   It is very odd, though, to think that we are done with kids in high school – between Dan, Andrew and Cieara we’ve had kids in this school for 11 years!    But she was happy to be done, and we are very happy for her (and proud!).   Congrats, Cieara!

On the knitting front – I finally gave my sister the Sunday Swing socks I had finished – and I realized that I haven’t had a pair on the needles in a bit.  I’m not going to post pictures of it here – I didn’t get any good pictures, but my Ravelry project page has the details.  I will say – great pattern and I think I’d make it again – one of those sock patterns that just seems to fly off the needles.  I think its time for me to start another pair, though I’m just about done my commute knitting project (cashmere lace scarf) and I  just need to look for the next great pattern.  Any ideas?

I haven’t been working on my Peaks Island Hood – I can’t believe I did this but I started a new project…

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Isn’t that nice?  OK, it’s a bad picture – but this is the Artemis shawl from Wandering Cat Yarns.  I’m using one of their yarns – it’s called Fluffy Cat and its an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend.  You should feel it – so amazing – silky and so soft.  The colorway is Blue Topaz and its a gorgeous blend of blues.  Very summer, very Caribbean.  I’m already on Chart 2 of 3, and I hope to have it done this week – and then I’ll take better pictures.    I know – last post I was going on about the hood, but then I got this yarn in the mail and just had to use it right away.    I think I’m having impulse control issues with knitting, wouldn’t you agree?

OK, back to working on the shawl  – have a great week!


Changes

June 4, 2010

You know, it’s always hard to know what the balance between sharing personal information on my blog and keeping things to myself.  Over the years, I’ve actually shared a lot but it’s typically good news, or things that I don’t think are so personal that they can’t be shared.  When I read blogs, I also like a bit of the personal – it gives me a sense of who the blog writer is and I like to peek into other people’s lives when they let me.    So I thought I’d share a little bit of my personal life today – but if you don’t want to read it, look for the knitting picture and move on from there!

I think I may have mentioned our up and downs with Cieara.  In the last year, we had a lot of problems working together as a parents/children should, and it culminated last week in her moving out. It was a blow up and wasn’t planned but I think for now she’s going to stay where she is.  So we are facing so many things all at once, so suddenly, that its sort of hard for everyone.  We are worried about her – making bad decisions, not planning for the future – you know, all the things some 18-year-old kids do.  I myself made some bad decisions at the same age, so I know how it is.   She’s safe, and she’s still going to school and should be graduating next week, but its hard to not have her here.     Lines of communication are damaged but I’m hopeful that we will be able to fix that and at least keep talking to her and keep some connections.    There isn’t much we can do right now to change her mind – she’s 18, and she is determined to go her own way, but so hard as a parent to let go.

For us, we went from being parents with children at home to empty nester’s in a 24 hour  period.  And it’s really weird.  Andrew is visiting right now so I think some of the impact isn’t felt yet, but it already feels odd.    All of a sudden, after 25 years, I don’t have children to take care of.   And I finally get why some parents have a hard time with this – in the past I never really understood it.  I mean, who wouldn’t like the freedom of just being a couple after all this time of raising kids?   Now that I’m looking at it – it’s just so weird and odd that I think I’m going to have to adjust slowly.  Larry and I are both busy with work, hobbies, the house, and all that.  We have things we do together and things we do alone.  So that’s all good.  And I think we’ll be fine – but it is just so weird and I feel a little bit  sad when I think about it.

So there you go – that’s the little bit of personal on today’s post.  I hope that it wasn’t too bad – and if you have any thoughts or advice, you know I’m always looking for input!

OK, for those of you that skipped the personal and came for knitting.

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I had a bad case of startitis last week – so much so that I actually went out and bought yarn to do it!   I don’t know why, I don’t remember how this came to my attention last week, but I came across the pattern for the Peaks Island Hood and all of a sudden I just wanted to make it.  I had seen the pattern when it first came out and queued it, but for some reason, seeing it again just charged up my knitting mojo and I just had to start it.  Because the perfect time to make a heavy wool scarf/hood is in June!

I didn’t have the yarn I wanted to use in the stash, so I went to the Loopy Ewe and ordered some Cascade 220.  I love this yarn – I think its one of the most perfect yarns.  It feels so good, and I love the practicality of it – its relatively inexpensive, comes in a lot of colors and has a lot of yardage.  I picked the blue because I thought it would look nice with my coat – and because I was in one of those moods where I wanted to keep close to the original pattern.

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Miles and miles of seed stitch.  I can’t say that its my favorite stitch to do but I love the texture of it – this is so soft and squishy, and its going to be so warm next winter.  And its a great project to have while driving, knitting or just when you don’t have the mental capacity to do anything complicated.  I’m enjoying it and for now its bumped all of the other projects off my active list.

Its June  – I can’t believe how fast time is going  – it seems like it was just January and snowing!    I need to  go find a farm stand and buy fresh strawberries.  Because Penny ate most of ours – we only have this little crop right now..

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I have a three-day weekend this weekend again – I have to go have some oral surgery done today.   And I got a reminder that I have a mammogram scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  Honestly  – does that sound like a fun weekend?   I suppose, though, that its ok.    These are things I have to take care of and at least I’ll have some of the weekend to enjoy

OK, off to the oral surgeon’s – have a good weekend!


UMD Graduation 2010

May 23, 2010

About four years ago, I wrote this post about dropping Andrew off at the University of Maryland.   It was a sad and happy day for everyone, and I still get a little misty reading the post I wrote about it and remembering that day.    Andrew had worked hard to get into the school of his choice, and he was excited about starting and a little scared too.  But we both knew he’d do a great job settling in, and would have a great time over the next four years learning and growing. 

On Thursday, we went back to the University for something a little different.

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Graduation! The above picture was Thursday’s commencement ceremony – three hours of processions, speakers and cheers. A little long for some of the speakers, but it was really a great ceremony and watching Andrew move his tassel from one side to the other marking his graduation (along with the other 2000ish graduates that attended the event) was really moving – more misty eyes for me!

The next day he graduated from the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences in a little bit smaller ceremony – we could actually see him!

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I can always count on Andrew to maintain the solemnity of the occasion!  I have more pictures of this weekend where he is making faces at me than I do where he’s looking “normal”.   But it was all good as we were all happy and proud and enjoying the time with him and each other.    Dan, Cieara and my mother came with us and we spent Thursday and Friday celebrating as a family.  It was a very good time, and we were so happy to share it with Andrew.

So once again, I’m writing a post about Andrew moving forward into the next stage of his life.  He’s accomplished this goal, and now is deciding what he wants to do next.  I know that he’ll do well in whatever he chooses – he’s very focused, hard-working and smart (even if he is a terrible procrastinator – which I have to admit he gets from me).  I’m so very proud of him and am looking forward to seeing what he does next.

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So once again, Andrew – congratulations and bon voyage!


Miss me?

May 16, 2010

Have you missed me?  I can’t believe how long its been since I’ve blogged  – I’ve never taken such a long break before and I was worried that I’d never get back to blogging.  But I’m in a break between busy and thought I’d check in and let you know that I’m still here, and that I’ll be back (that also means that I’ve been away from reading blogs too and I’ll be catching up on those too – promise!).

As I mentioned before, the last month has been really busy and crazy.   Dan moved out, we had painting, repairs and what seems like a million things going on at home.  But now the rooms are painted and the last of the inside repairs was just finished tonight and things are starting to calm down house-wise.  Isn’t it stressful when you get out of your routine and things are all over the house?  I hate it – I always feel better when everything is it its place, and my routines are kept.  Anyway, all is back to order for now – next month we are going to start painting again, but for now, its quiet.

We also have had a visitor for the last couple of weeks – my Mom has been visiting from California!  She stayed with me a week, and I took  some time off work, and we had a really nice visit.  Lots of talking, knitting, shopping, and a little cooking.  I have had a recipe book since I was a teenager and it contains all the favorite recipes that I’ve come across since that time.  My mother and I were looking through the book and came across two of her fudge recipes (maple cream and divinity).  I commented that I had never actually made the fudge but remembered it from childhood.   We decided to make both – and I have to say – yum!  I can’t show a picture of the maple cream since it went really fast, but I did get a picture of the divinity before everyone ate it.

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I must say – it’s a good thing that she was here when I made it.  When she gave me the recipe, she gave me the abbreviated version that she used – she had been making the fudge for years and just skipped over steps when she gave me the recipe to write down.    She hasn’t made either recipe in at least 20 years, and we muddled through the maple cream, but when we made the divinity it didn’t set – so we tossed it and tried again.  And then I wrote down the steps!  Both were very good, and it was so nice to spend the afternoon in the kitchen with her, bringing back some memories.    I’ll be making both again – so good!

Mom spent last week with my sister, and went up to Boston for my niece’s graduation.  And this week she comes back to me, and we are heading down Thursday to see Andrew.  He’ll be graduating from the University of Maryland, and we are very proud of him and I’m looking forward to watching him take the first step into the next phase of his life (I’m getting a little emotional about this!).   We are planning celebrations for him, and last night I finally came up with the perfect gift.  I don’t want to write what it is because sometimes he reads this, but I can’t wait to give it to him.   

There have been so many changes lately – house stuff, kids moving out, graduations – its been hectic and so busy.  I haven’t been knitting other than when my Mom was with me – work has been busy and between sleeping on the train and working on the train, I just haven’t had a lot of time.  And to be honest – I was missing a little knitting mojo.  I have been working on socks, but it just felt like a chore. 

But yesterday I got news that has totally given me back my mojo!

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My nephew and his wife are expecting their first baby – and I am so excited.  The minute I heard I just had to cast on for a cute pair of booties to say congrats with – and I’m planning a couple of other things to give them.  It’s so exciting and I love knitting these little things.  I’ll post more on this when I post the completed pair – I’m already on the second one, and just need to find some cute ribbon for it.  But they are so cute that I can’t wait to make more.    Next I need to find some nice yarn for some sweaters, more booties – maybe a blanket.  And maybe this.  I don’t want to get too crazy about this – but I have to say – knitting for babies is so much fun, and I think I’ll have a hard time resisting!  Do you have any favorite baby patterns that you think I should make?

OK, I’m off to get ready for the week.  I promise that I’ll be back soon, and hopefully will have picture of some finished socks.  I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to – I’ve missed my blog reading time. 

Have a great week!