The Final FOs of 2010

The year is drawing to a close, and I can’t believe that this was only one year.  It felt like two or three, all squished together, to the point that last winter seems like a really far time away.  The Winter Olympics in Vancouver?  Surely that was 2008!  The BP oil spill – wasn’t that under President Bush (ok, he bears some of the responsibility, but he wasn’t President when it happened).

I feel like this was the year of a marathon, or maybe a season of Survivor,  and while I didn’t win a million dollars, I did get something way, way more important – I got to take care of my Mom when she needed it most.   After all the decades of a difficult relationship, my Mom and I finally have made peace, and we enjoy each other’s company.  It wasn’t always so, and I know I had my own part in those difficulties. Not knowing how many years lie ahead, I’m treasuring the moments and breathing through the challenges of taking care of an elder.

And one of the things that I had been dreading the most, clearing out the family home, is done.  Sure, there’s a storage unit that still needs to be gone through, but with the help of friends and family, a big, big thing got done, and reasonably well.  That’s my biggest FO of 2010!

Yesterday, a friend who is also currently a member of the taking-care-of-Mom tribe left a mysterious message on my answering machine while I was gone, something to the effect of “I’m bringing you a gift that you need but don’t know that you do.”  She appeared on my doorstep, and when I opened the gift, this was the item:

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It’s a plastic bag holder, hand-crafted by my friend who took care of my kitties all those weeks while I was down taking care of Mom.  She’d seen the pile of newspaper bags by the kitty litter box.  She says I “inspired” her to make a whole slew of them for other kitty and dog owners.  It’s the best surprise gift – something you do need and hand-picked and sewn especially for you!

There are some final FOs  of the knitting nature to also report:

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The striped sweater ala Ellizabeth Zimmermann’s percentage system with the leftovers of the steeked vest, and a couple of mittens so far with the scraps:

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In closing out the year, thanks for reading, and here’s to a New Year, and hoping that God keeps sending us little lights to illuminate our life journeys!

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More Cleaning Up Than I’m Used To Doing

I like to get things tided up around the New Year, since with my schedule, the apartment often gets ignored in December. This year, it was worse than usual. Boxes from my Mom’s house, papers for the house sale and move. It was all crazy. I knew it had gone beyond the pale when the kitties stopped hanging out in the office/guest room, not that you could tell it was that, it looked more like the local storage unit. Before Christmas, I had gotten the other rooms up to their usual (not-very-high) standards so that I could enjoy the holidays, but hadn’t touched this room.

So, as I’ve seen folks say, I put on my big girl panties and am tackling the project. Out went some old papers in the filing cabinet that I’ve barely used, in went my Mom’s files so I can now find them. Out went the bedspread that I used to pack things of my Mom’s, the blankets got washed. I even checked into Medicare options for coverage for my Mom.

Now I can actually see the floor for the most part, almost everything that will stay fits in the closet. The desk is still a wreck, that’s for the next couple of days, but we are very close to actually being a functional room.

I needed some fibery rewards for this mania of organizing and cleaning, and it came in the form of perfecting a new technique – navajo-plying on the fly on a spindle. I used this lovely fiber:

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100% Merino fiber from A Verb for Keeping Warm in the Ashland Bay sage colorway. Merino, I know!!! But this was on sale, I love the colorway, and I figure if I can navajo-ply merino, I’ll be able to do it with almost any fiber. So far, I’ve spun about 0.7 of a ounce. There have been issues, but all in all, I’m ok with it:

Navajoplying1b

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The Week Between

When one is in church ministry or has a family member in such, holidays are more stressful.  There are the usual things every family copes with  – changes good and bad, family members behaving or not.  The usual holiday traditions of food, decorations, gift-giving, cards.  Add into that mix one person who is working harder at their job than usual, with more pressure to deliver something meaningful, and on the holidays themselves, and the frays can show.

This year, for many, was a lovely long weekend with Christmas Eve happening on Friday (a short day or holiday for many), Saturday and Sunday.  For pastors and others who do services, it was a loooonnngggg weekend of a different sort. You just finished up Christmas Eve, spend the next day trying to relax, but not too much because you’ll find that the next day you’re “on” again, even if it is an informal service that is downstairs with the piano.

For me, it was also a year of beginning a new pattern with my Mom living nearby.  For almost the first time in 50-odd years, she and I were not in the family home at Christmas.  We did ok, all things considered, with some usual traditions and new ones created.  My cousin Marie invited us up for a family dinner, the first time they’ve had guests on Christmas in a while.  It was good.

But for me, the Holiday started yesterday about 12 noon.  I came home from church, put on my T-shirt and yoga pants, and snuggled up for the rest of the day, reading, eating, watching Top Hat on cable, and Toy Story 3 on demand, letting the kitties on my lap for napping, and generally reveling in the fact that I had to be nowhere and nothing I had to do.

This morning I woke up, laid around in bed listening to my iPod touch, got up and had a leisurely breakfast.  There’s a fog warning right outside my door, which is way better than a blizzard.  This afternoon I’ll have an appointment with my Mom, but a whole 24 hours of nothing is really good.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is good.  I’ll go into work one day, but the rest is a lazy time of big ‘ol let-me-just-rest.

In knitting news, the hanspun cowl looks good:
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I’m not showing you the grafting, because it was a lousy job and I didn’t care enough to make it pretty.  It will be fine when I wear it.

And the last sweater for nearing the end:

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Izzie is doing her inspection on the outside, which looks good.  I’ve got the endless ends to weave in, so that’s going in stages:

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Today it hit me as I went through my Ravelry projects that I knit 11 sweaters, vests, and shells this year. Six of those were/are for Afghans for Afghans, three for family members, and only two were for me, counting one shell.  I like knitting for others, but I think one of my resolutions for 2011 will be to knit more sweaters for me!

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continuing

Hi all,

Not a huge amount to report.   The manly scarf looks great in the Malabrigo twist yarn:

ManlyScarfa

I’m half done, and the length is going to be good – I have 35 inches with one skein, so I’ll use most of the 2nd one and be done by Christmas Eve easily.  Yesterday, I hooked up my Mom’s DVD player finally, and we watched one of her favorite movies – Some Like It Hot – a terrific very funny movie with great lines, dancing, acting.  My mom knows most of the lines by heart!  I plowed ahead on the scarf, so I was happy to have some laughs and productive knitting.

The sweater for Afghans for Afghans is getting close:

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I made some modifications – the books I consulted specified wider sleeves that Elizabeth Zimmermann included, so I added a couple of inches to the width as I increased from the cuff.  But I was concerned this width might not work so well in the yoke, so after about 1 1.2 inches of plain knitting on the yoke, I evenly decreased 1 1/2 inches over each “shoulder” part of the yoke before the big decreases.

Another change was to the final decreases.  I find the neckline kinda-tight when I’ve knit this before, so on the third and final set of decreases, I’m only doing 1/2 as many of them, and then trust that the ribbing will pull in to the needed level.  If it doesn’t work, it’s not much to reknit.  So far, the stripes (and the different colors of yarn) have worked out.  No immediate deadline for this – I hope to finish by the New Year to mail it off.

The Undulating scarf is also proceeding, but I’ve decided I’m going to turn it into a cowl. Ariane of Bluebird recommended that I add some more length before the grafting, so I can twist it twice for a cozy cowl, and I think she’s totally right. So more knitting.

And while the weather is totally knitting weather, the week before Christmas for a pastor – not so much. Fortunately, the presents are bought, the cards for Mom are done and ready for the US Postal Service drop-off. But we shall see. At least this year I do not have to pack to fly on Christmas morning. Oh, how I look forward to that!

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FO: Two Brambles Berets

The second beret is now done as well.  See, there are now two of them!

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This is a lovely pattern, and the sizes are done well and flexible. I made the taupe one (the small cast on), and medium rows for the chart) for one cousin, and the other (the medium cast-on, and large number of rows) for her sister.  This is such great yarn that the stitch definition is just great!

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Sockspice

No, not sock-spice as in cinnamon, or nutmeg.  It’s sock -spis (like hospice).  It’s where old socks go for their last days.  I have a pair, my first pair of “real socks” that qualify:

Sockspice
I knit these out of Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks book, using some Mountain Colors yarn (I think?) that I bought at Stitches West somewhere around 2002 or 2003.  I knit them on Size 3 (3.25 mm) needles,  because that’s what I was told was a good needle size, but they were really too big in retrospect.  But I didn’t know better, and they lasted for a few years.

Along the way there have been repairs, but we have now reached my not-worth-the-time-to-fix point.  I’ve darned even though I don’t really know how to darn socks, and these also have problems on the toes and the legs besides the obvious heel issues.

I will wear them as house socks until they go kablooy.

What do you do with your falling apart socks?  Wear them ’til they drop, toss them quickly (and knit more!)?  Inquiring minds would like to know if I’m the only one with a Sockspice.

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Fell Off

Fell off the “no knitting Christmas gifts” bandwagon.  As I clearly declared might have hinted at earlier, I was drawing a line in the sand about pondering whether to make any knitted gifts.

Then I found the lovely Brambles beret in the Deep Fall Knitty 2010, which conveniently comes in various sizes and slouchiness versions.  Then some yarn that I had in my stash completely leaped out at me and onto my needles, and before I knew it, there was a lovely beret in the (sadly discontinued) Llana Grossa Come yarn.  This yarn is wool, cotton, and cashmere, which is a perfect blend for the SF Bay Area, and has incredible stitch definition.
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This one will be for Rachel, and the next one for her sister Allison. Project details on Ravelry here: Revknits Brambles

They are going so fast, I might do more gifts.  I know, I know!

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It’s the knitting that counts

I received a knitted gift yesterday.  A lovely scarf, knitted just for me, in colors that I love:

Mitzi's Scarf

Mitzi gave it to me.  She’s over 80 and takes my kick-^&*^ high intensity water aerobics class – I think she takes classes 5 days a week!  She and I have a little joke when I’m counting down to finishing a particular move – she gets ahead of me, mostly on purpose, then we laugh and I usually say something like, “I guess someone is teaching from the front row!”   Me, I just wanna be like Mitzi when I grow up.
I hear you saying, “But it’s acrylic!” Yes, it’s in acrylic yarn.  But you know, this knitter, although I don’t knit with man-made yarns all that much, totally appreciates this scarf.  You see, few dare to knit for me.  I think they think I will look at all the details and judge their knitting.

This couldn’t be further from reality.  As long as the item is functional, I will most likely wear and think of the knitter fondly, just as I did with Mitzi’s scarf yesterday.   We knitters are like that.

Mitzi's Scarf.JPG

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FO: Twist Cardigan

I love this sweater and wish that I had knit this for me.  Sadly, it is my cousin Marie’s size and her Christmas and thanks-for-cleaning-out-my-Mom’s-House-with-me-for-a-whole-week present.  Family can rock!

The cables and yarn look good together:

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The buttons with grosgrain ribbon and backing buttons also worked out quite well – this button band will not stretch!
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And there’s even enough yarn left over for a hat.

Lot’s of project details here: Twist Cardigan.

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