Knittin’ and purlin’ or; the tea cosy continued

For the last few days now I’ve meant to take a photo of my tea cosy handiwork. As of this morning, may I sincerely say thank god that I didn’t follow through with that plan. You folks would have laughed until you peed your pants. I’m not kidding. Even if you don’t knit, it was just short of impossible not to realize that I was way off the mark with my first two attempts at this project.

Yes, I did say ‘first two attempts.”

Currently we are on try number three, and you know what they say about three being a charming number…

I spent some time online with a video doing a refresher on the purl stitch. Actually, truth be told, the video introduced me to the correct way to do a purl stitch. I truly have no idea what sort of stitch I was doing prior, but it was not a purl. The first two sections of the pattern are relatively straightforward. They are just two different combinations of knit and purl.

I thought that I was creating this rather fanciful scalloped sort of edge that distinguishes the top of the cosy. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as the scallops grew larger and my knitting needles overflowed with yarn. The odd thing though was that the first thirty-six stitches actually looked like I was on the right track. It was the damn final thirty-six stitches that screamed out at me, Good god Debbie! Can’t you see how wrong this all is? Rip it out and start over.”

Which I did.

Twice.

It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized where I’d gone wrong. So let me share some of my new knitting knowledge with you. When you work a knit stitch, the working yarn sits behind your rows of already completed knitting and is wrapped from behind. When you purl, that working yarn must be wrapped from the front side of those same rows. This means that each time you are asked to switch from knit to purl, or vice versa, you have to move the yarn.

I thought I understood this, and had been diligently moving my working yarn each time…from below the completed rows.

I was supposed to be moving the yarn from above, sliding it back and forth between the knitting needle tips.

What I have already redone in just two new rows is far from what I was turning out over the last few days. I now have something that is beginning to look like a finished edge. A straight finished edge rather than odd scallops.

I may finally be on the right track.

This photo was taken with my phone and the white yarn is so bright in the picture it obscures some of the detail, but I’m also not embarrassed to put this photo on the blog.

IMG_20141130_122741267

My stitch tension isn’t great. It isn’t easy to keep that even and so I do have some loops that are bigger than others.

So I keep on keepin’ on, oddly curious as to what the whole thing will look like when the pattern changes in a few more rows.

I also wonder if I inadvertently invented some sort of new stitch in my prior attempts. I might have more talent than I first thought.

cast on, (k1) (k1) (k1)…(p)?

Part 1

Is anyone reading this a knitter?

I picked up some needles and yarn yesterday for the first time in about 40 years.

Knitting was a hand-craft that I only dabbled in as a teen and early 20-something. Mostly until I began having children, then I had no time or the patience to simply sit and create. Besides I was always more of an embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch person. I think that I may have knitted a few scarves, one that I honestly remember, and it was plain knitting with an added fringe. No purling. No other creative stitches. Plain old row upon row of (k), (k), (k).

I think that I’ve mentioned before that during the return to college phase I was in a Humanities program and so reconnected with art through a series of art history classes. Great fun and Professor S will go down as one of my favorites. Then, thanks to a rather impressive GPA I was invited to participate in an Honor’s program of independent study, and self-design a project/research/paper with a mentor. As I was so enamored with art at the time, and this was well before my move into sociology and women’s studies, I chose something art related.

Thus the ancestral research into Danish Hardanger.

image from associated link
image from associated link

It was quite an enjoyable project, doing all the research into my heritage, plus I added in a physical sampler of many of the stitches I was researching. Unfortunately this was the catalyst behind the sad realization that my arthritic hands weren’t up to handicrafts anymore. So the needles, and threads, and cloth were given away and all those planned projects that I was finally going to find time for were put aside.

Daughter Alison, who has such a wide and expanding interest in so many areas, is a bit of an Anglophile. She also enjoys tea quite a bit. A few years ago she found a do-it-for-yourself tea cosy (note the British spelling) kit. However, she doesn’t knit. Her mother assured her that knitting was easy and she could pick up the steps without any problem. This message from the woman who never made it past (k), (k), (k).

She got some practice yarn and gave it a valiant try. The cosy yarn has remained sadly alone in its box. The needles have never made their intended clickety-click rhythm.

In an offhand comment it was suggested that maybe I could give the process a go. Hmm, I thought. Could I? My hands have been better for quite a while now. Last night the box was located, the practice yarn and needles were pulled out of their hiding place and I decided to set to work. There are no expectations. The hands and fingers will direct this process for as long as they behave.

Tuck another food fest into the record books

We cooked, we moved and re-arranged furniture, we cooked some more, we drank things like hard cider and wine, we snacked on cheeses, and chutney and fruit, we had the constant drone of football on the TV, we ate some lovely food, we played constantly with Miss G, we talked, we drank some more, we watched Uncle Jeff do Frozen with Miss G, we fell asleep in various places, (except for Miss G) we ate pie and crisp and galette, we talked even more, we chose secret santa names, we watched Miss G reach her meltdown point and we said goodbye to her for the night, we talked even more, and finally we said our final goodbyes.

I started the dishwasher, put on my jammies, sat down for a few moments and decided my bed was the place I needed to be.

It was all lovely.

You get the picture from the condensed version, but it really was a good Thanksgiving for us. Of course we had more food than necessary. My husband has enough turkey to keep him happy for a few days and for the first time I actually planned side dish amounts pretty darn well so we ended up with just a little in the way of leftovers, which is more than fine with me. Plus we didn’t do all the usual, traditional foods so no heavy stuffing, gravy and sugar drenched yams are sitting in my fridge. I didn’t even have to do the turkey, that is the husband’s job anymore. He used his smoker, did a nifty spatchcock version with a slightly sweet dry rub and it turned out really well.

Miss G gorged herself on cheese and pear slices, literally spit her Brussel sprout directly down the front of her dress and ate off of everyone’s dessert plate, seeking out those especially who had sampled her momma’s vegan chocolate pie.

It took her awhile to warm up to her aunt and uncle, but when she did she found a best friend in Uncle Jeff especially, who had the stamina to run in circles through the house with her playing hide-and-seek. I loved seeing him interact with her, and speak with her in a very straightforward way, and even calmly reprimand her when needed. This isn’t a side of him that we typically get to see and of course my mind started speculating what might be in store for the future of their own family expansion—because I am a grandma and that’s what we do—anticipate more little people to carry on and bring smiles.

I also learned about Dubstep and one of the leaders of this genre, Skrillex. We started a conversation about high school reunions, especially those occurring in small rural communities close to the Idaho border made up of slightly sketchy folk with highly conservative views and agendas, and then somehow wound up discussing singing, and voice lessons, and music, and changes in musical forms, and how music, much like fashion, seems to occur in a cyclical format, and how one genre morphs into another slightly more advanced form in subsequent decades, and then ended up (to Uncle Jeff’s surprise) sharing that I not only know who Shakey Graves is, but that I (the mom) can also recognize his music, and I like his music.

In wide-eyed wonder, “YOU know Shakey Graves?” 

In semi-perplexed amazement, “You LIKE Shakey Graves?” 

This declaration caused an uproar because it (apparently) is impossible to like both Kenny G and Shakey Graves, two very divergent artists.

And…not one moment of shopping was had, by anyone. Nor will any occur today. We do not do Black Friday…Thursday…Wednesday…Thanksgiving week sales.

It was a very good Thanksgiving indeed.

Thankfully…

We’ve watched feet of snow accumulate in the mountains, the rains come down in buckets, the rivers rise and flood, the sun emerge and the temps shoot up to 55 degrees all within just a few days. The forecast is telling us that we will get more rain and wind and storms tomorrow so I am doing food prep today.

Miss G has been with me, ‘helping’ like a great two-year-old. We even had the opportunity to get outside and take a walk. That’s a habit that we started when she was small, but it’s one that’s difficult to keep up with when the weather is really crappy. I tried for a few pictures, but she politely asked me, “Please don’t” so I didn’t.

She’s in grandma’s big bed supposedly taking a nap, even though she was awake still the last time I checked. I’m one of those grandmas that would require she lay and rest, even if she doesn’t sleep, although I think she will.

I’m still finding my writing mojo to be out of kilter. Does anyone want to become a muse? I so lack inspiration right now, but I figure that time will correct this…I hope. Even this post feels forced, and probably reads that way as well. Dull, lifeless and not really worth the effort, but I am making the effort anyway.

It feels odd to say that I lack inspiration with so much going on across the nation and world right now. There’s any number of things that I could focus on to write about, but I think I’m simply tired of that fact that so much is bad, so much is hate, so much is focused on what isn’t right, or fair, or good. It’s not that I don’t have opinions about how f**ked up our society is, I mostly just don’t want to write more about what’s already been said, or opine on the laments of those who want change. It’s all so frustrating, and my voice isn’t going to add anything. So I read my followed blogs, and take in what others are saying, and agree or disagree as the case may be, but I need to remain silent for my own sanity.

The little one is asleep. It’s been a good day here, in our small world, and I’m thankful for that.

PS: Feminist Friday is scheduled for an appearance in 2 days, but I tend to think that I will skip it for this week, perhaps Media Monday as well next week. We’ll see what the days bring.

Blog share #4: Into the South

Here comes another early blog from my list, and one that I just restored to my follows. I’m not sure how it got taken off of my follow list, although I have been known to click tabs and such without realizing what the consequences might be. I don’t think that I really noticed that this historically related blog was MIA because I typically follow Michelle and Brett of Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast on Facebook.

I discovered Michelle’s early blog on a search for vacation bed & breakfast locations a few years ago. It must have been on one of those days when I was dreaming of adventure, and musing on things to see and do on the opposite coast. I limit my flying so perhaps I was contemplating a long road trip. I have always wanted to visit some of the historically important areas of the United States. New England is high on my list, as well as some of the south so I surmise that some sort of related search led me to this blog.

When I first encountered Belle Grove and Michelle in 2012, her entire focus was getting all the governmental documents approved to be listed as, and used for, the purpose of a historical B&B location. She wrote often of the struggles and regulation hurdles that she was jumping over to bring her goal to fruition. The plantation house was in need of repair, as well as the surrounding lands, so her journey was just beginning even when she won the approval to go ahead as a bona fide business.

Michelle has since worked diligently to restore the plantation house itself with period antiques. Many of her posts and Facebook updates take readers on her adventures to antique auctions and stores. She and Brett, their children, and countless volunteers have logged hour upon hour in this restoration process and Michelle is amazing in her willingness to share pictures of every step of the process. Reading her blog and Facebook page has given me the opportunity to feel as if I have personally visited so much of Belle Grove without ever setting foot in Virginia.

https://www.facebook.com/271783509524776/photos/a.350340205002439.39178.271783509524776/554482491254875/?type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/271783509524776/photos/a.350340205002439.39178.271783509524776/554482491254875/?type=1&theater

I believe that since its opening Belle Grove has maintained a steady stream of overnight guests. Living in an area of Virginia that is historically valuable and uses that validity to its advantage in community activities has helped Belle Grove to establish itself as a destination. Michelle makes certain that the B&B is represented in the social activities of their community, has created a network of business associates who service the plantation, and has willingly encouraged the use of Belle Grove for local large-scale events as well as private and more personal festivities such as weddings and anniversary weekends.

Michelle has also spent countless hours researching the history of Belle Grove Plantation with its presidential connections and maintains that history through living reenactments and events.

If you are a history enthusiast, are looking for a quiet location for a weekend getaway, need a spectacular place for an event, want to do some ghost hunting, or just want to follow Michelle’s personal journal detailing her journey and commitment to this historical restoration, then I highly believe you will find something of interest in the Belle Grove blog.

Give yourself plenty of time though, as you explore the blog. I would suggest that you start from the beginning to really connect with the complete story of Belle Grove in both words and pictures. It’s entirely worth the effort.

And, of course you have to come to know Hurley-the official plantation dog.

https://www.facebook.com/271783509524776/photos/pb.271783509524776.-2207520000.1416767240./513110765392048/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/271783509524776/photos/pb.271783509524776.-2207520000.1416767240./513110765392048/?type=3&theater

 

 

 

I’ve sprung a leak

It’s Friday night, 7 PM. I’m sitting here alone. The cat is sleeping in the chair opposite me. I have a few candles burning, a few lights on here and there, the new curtains are pulled tight and it is dark, dark, dark outside. No stars, just heavy rain and wind. That wind is coming in gusts that blow around the corner of the house and rattle the windows. At least I’m not under six feet of snow. I can’t even imagine six feet of snow or what I would do if my house was buried under mountains of snow.

Our states mountains are getting snow though, so much in fact that the two main roads over the Cascades are in a constant state of flux, being opened to traffic at one moment, then closed the next. It only took about two hours for enough snow to cause havoc.

I’ve started and stopped any number of posts in the last few days. I get what I believe to be an inspiration for some topic. then find myself either changing my mind or simply unable to gather my thoughts beyond one or two sentences. Is it possible to simply stop having opinions, to simply stop having an ability to form coherent thoughts, to literally have nothing to say? That’s about the only way I can describe this odd malaise I seem to be under when it comes to writing just now. I just sort of don’t care, nor do I want to take the time to care, or think, or really write much about anything.

If I was an artist I would depict my head as an outline with nothing inside the lines save for stark white canvas. Perhaps there would be a tiny trap door somewhere near the base of my skull, sitting just slightly ajar, with the hint that once there were words, but now only faint ghost images are visible if you look really closely at the canvas from the side, in just the right light, at just the right angle and quickly before those remnants are gone as well. Perhaps something like this, only not so bold.

http://imgarcade.com/1/empty-head-picture/
http://imgarcade.com/1/empty-head-picture/

I don’t feel bold at all, or even that defined. Simple black and white verging into gray and slightly translucent as if my entire being was slowly fading. A shadow of my former self…isn’t that how the saying goes.

I hope something of value creeps back in there soon, some tangible thought process ignites and bursts forth. I’d settle for a teeny, tiny spark even. Right now I got nothin…