Monday, September 22, 2014

Re-run Mode: nothing much to see here...

I feel as though we are caught in a repeating loop. My son and his family have returned to live with us again. 

It is very good to spend time with the grandkids. I gave three of them some beginning knitting lessons this weekend. Two of them seem to enjoy it. The other enjoys playing with the yarn, so maybe I'll try crochet with her, next. The youngest also wants to learn, but at a very spirited five years old, it may be more than my patience can withstand. I'll probably give it a try. Yikes!
They are beautiful children, eh?
That knitting boy is the baby that I am holding in my profile picture. The picture was taken eight years ago tomorrow. He is growing up so quickly!

Lots of knitting is being done, but I have nothing much to show for it. I've had a bad case of 'startitis' lately. I have begun several projects and they're all quite lovely, but nothing is getting finished. I have an original sock design in two-color stranded knitting, a few socks from various monthly challenges on Ravelry, a test of another designer's pattern, a shawl (that one is going to get frogged...I just don't like the design), a pair of fairly plain-vanilla gift socks for traveling and conversational knitting, and lots of ideas on the back burner. 
I also have a sweater partially knit from heavy wool yarn that was donated to my knitting group. I pulled its bag from a pile and found the half-knit sweater and the pattern and extra yarn to finish it, but I am going to rip it out and reclaim the lovely wool, perhaps for some felted clogs to warm my feet this winter.

I am finding it harder and harder to give away socks. I love doing it, but financial restrictions have put me on a no-new-yarn diet, and I'm getting to the point where all of the sock yarn I have left (and don't get me wrong, I have a LOT!) is precious to me, and I can hardly bear to part with it! How selfish, eh? I have so many pairs of beautiful socks that I can hardly fit any more in my very large sock drawer. So with every pair I whittle away at the stash, deciding which of the lovely colors I like less than the others. It's like giving children up for adoption.

By the way, I do have a child whom I might be convinced to adopt out. Or maybe I could swap him for new yarn. I'm just kidding, Nick. Sort of.

These two pair are gone as gifts:
They were socks that I donated as door prizes at the annual Tennessee Lunch Run. The striped socks went to Shelly in South Carolina. They are a basic ribbed sock knit from some of my favorite Opal sock yarn from Germany. The grey and red pair went to Charlie in Tennessee. They are from the pattern "Simple Skyp" by Adrienne Ku at Ravelry. The yarn is Kroy Sock, another favorite.

Then there were these little socks, knit for my newest great-nephew, who lives just down the road from me a bit. I am ashamed to say that I have seen pictures, but have yet to meet him in person. It seems that we are always busy, ill, tired whenever we pass his house, or that he has been away with his mom and dad.

I have nothing else finished to show.
I am a slacker.

The summer was cool and damp, and is showing serious signs of giving way to an early fall. The black walnut trees are nearly bare of leaves already, and trees in the marsh are setting themselves ablaze with the first fall colors. Winter will be here soon.
We tried to get the pool taken down this weekend, but were thwarted by rainfall.
Perhaps we will get in one more trip on the motorcycle before snow falls.

It's late, and I'm tired.
Good night.
Be safe.
Be well.
Be happy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Just some words...
I couldn't sleep last night. The past week's work schedule was different than usual, and I've had trouble sleeping all week. I'm thankful that I'll be back to my regular schedule this week!
While I was lying there, sleepless, I was thinking of some young women I've known who have made questionable decisions regarding the men in their lives. It makes me sad...but these words came into my mind, and I posted them on Facebook. They've received some positive attention, so I'll re-post them here:

This is on my mind tonight... To all of the young women I know:
Ladies, you are as strong as you want to be. There are men out there in this big old crazy world who are smart and strong and good, who behave and dress like grown men instead of like juvenile gangsta-wanna-bees, who have aspirations in life beyond getting a minimum-wage job, who will love, respect, and support you, who won't abuse you physically, verbally, or emotionally, who don't need drugs or alcohol to have a good time, who don't believe that they are men just because they can grow a beard and procreate, who can speak and maybe even write intelligently and can express their emotions without foul language, who will be good fathers and will set a good example for their children, who will be admired and respected by others and who will only improve with age. 
If you settle for a man who is none of these things, you are telling all men that this is all you want, that it is all you deserve, all you are worth, and all you expect of them. 
Ladies, hold yourselves and your men to higher standards. Perhaps they will endeavor to live up to your expectations. They are out there, I promise you, and YOU are worth the wait.


I doubt that anyone will make any life changes because of my words, but I just had to share them. I'd say something very similar to the young men that I know, about the women they're choosing, but I know they wouldn't listen, either. I wouldn't have listened when I was their age...


So, knitting. I have been slacking off and not knitting as much as usual since dropping out of Sock Madness, but these are done:

"Hit the Road" socks

...and I love them. They were inspired by a pattern in Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush.  The original pattern would have resulted in something like this:
Illustration from Knitting on the Road, "The Road to Oslo" © Nancy Bush

I doubled the length of the leg and added a repeat of the cuff pattern to the foot in order to better show off the lovely stranded colorwork, used a different ribbing pattern than the one in the original, worked the heel flaps in two-color Eye of Partridge stitch, and used the red yarn to turn the heel. The yarn is gray Opal, from Germany, and the red is a mystery yarn that I found in my stash.
I think these are some of the prettiest socks I've ever knit! Knitting on the Road is one of the first books I bought when I was learning to knit socks. I've flipped through the pages many times, and it has often served as inspiration, but I think "The Road to Oslo" is the first pattern I've knit from it.
I've cast on a couple of pair of tiny baby socks, just for knitting when I don't want to have to think too hard. There are always babies being born, and I'd like to start having some little knitted things on hand for gifts. I'm knitting all four socks at one time on two circular needles.
It is full-on summer here. The mulberries are ripe, day lilies and spiderwort are blooming, blackberries and raspberries are growing, the fireflies (AND mosquitos!) are out every evening, and it's hot outside! I've spent a lot of time already just floating in our small swimming pool to relax at the end of the day. All of our lawn mowers have died, and we will be replacing them, I did not break them! They are just old, worn out, and deserving of retirement. The yard is looking a big shaggy, but it will get better soon.

That's all I have for today. Be well. Be strong. Be happy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunset over Marl Lake

Hello there!

I've been told that I need to blog. I don't know that I have anything new or noteworthy about which to blog, but here you go, Marti. 
I have grown tired of worrying about my grandkids, and money, and things like that. I am weary of drama and silliness and meanness.

One thing that I am not tired of is this:
our winter here was long, and cold, and very snowy, and I never have enjoyed a winter more! I find that I am in a minority, though. The customers in my shop and really almost everyone I know have complained bitterly about this past winter. I understand their complaints, but I have enjoyed it fully! 

Violets in bloom

But of course winter must eventually end and our winter has ended, bringing us this,
and this is good, too. The marsh is green and flourishing, berry brambles leafing out, birds flocking back for the summer. 

Violets, marsh marigolds, soapwort are blooming, grass is growing, summer will be here soon.
The little stream

Greening up in the woods

Marsh marigolds in bloom

Bike and trailer in rare sunshine
And of course, with spring also comes motorcycle-riding season, and the first gatherings that bring us back together with friends. Three friends are gone since my last gathering, and they are sorely missed. I am so glad for the laughter and stories and especially for the memories they left behind. The first ride of the season, as it has been for several years, was the Tennessee Lunch Run, held at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The ride was cold and wet this year. Every day we saw some rain, and one day we were blessed with lightning and hail. You see the trailer at the left? Pulling a trailer with a motorcycle just means that you can carry more stuff. I packed less stuff for two weeks in Europe than I packed on this trip!
I was very thankful, however, for the extra layers of clothing.
We crossed the Cherohala Skyway early Friday morning at thirty-six degrees with drizzle. I cannot remember being so cold on a ride, ever. After we came through, the drizzle turned to snow and sleet, and the road became icy. Two riders went down on the Skyway behind us, one of them from our gathering. He was unhurt and his bike had only cosmetic damage, and we are all very grateful for that!
Frank and Bob and the sad remainder of the Bomb
It was wonderful to see old friends and, I hope, to make a few new ones. Here are Frank and Bob, who rode with us every day and accompanied us to supper at a wonderful little restaurant called "The Blueberry Pig." Rich and I saw their billboard as we returned from the park, and the name piqued our interest. When we returned to the motel, Frank found their location by using Facebook and we rode out for a very good dinner, followed by this:
 A Blueberry Bomb

Sam, owner of the Blueberry Pig

You should've seen it before we attacked it!

Knitting, certainly:

For one of my Ravelry groups,the April challenge was to choose five patterns, allow the other group members to vote for their favorite, and then knit the pattern they chose. Sun and Moon is the pattern here. I made a few modifications, but held close to the original for the leg and instep.
Another group, another challenge, this was a Mystery Sock. The pattern was released in sections, one section per week: first the cuff and top colorwork, then the leg, then the foot, and finally the toe. 
And then, the Madness began; Sock Madness, my third year.
This is a sort of competition, where patterns are designed and donated by the competitors and chosen by two moderators. There are seven rounds, and this year there were eleven teams, divided by the speed shown in a preliminary round. The first two years I was put on the fastest team. This year a glitch in my registration placed me into the second-fastest team.
A materials list is released well in advance of the first round, and there is much speculation as to what each pattern will be, based on the specified materials. Then the first pattern comes and the Madness is on!
We knit frantically and try to be among a limited number of competitors that pass on to the next round. The number of knitters going on decreases at each level until at the end there are just eleven, one from each team, competing for the last place.
Prizes are donated by retailers and by team members, and it is great fun!
The first year, I was eliminated in the first round.
The second year, I made it into round three, but missed going on by just minutes.

This year, I made it through Round 1:
and I made it through Round 2:

 (this yarn deserves special mention. It was a gift from my friend Suzi, and is buffalo down, soft, lovely fiber from the undercoat of the American bison. I knit a pair of socks from this wool for her husband, Dale, and she was very generous to send this beautiful blue yarn for a pair of socks for me. It is absolutely luscious!)

and then I was shocked to make it through Round 3:

and I was amazed when I finished Round 4 with plenty of time to spare: 
but I was so tired! I had knit for half of several nights and nearly all of one Sunday on that last pair of socks, and I was worn out. So I withdrew from the competition before the beginning of Round 5, in order that I could actually enjoy knitting again.

The Round 3 sock had to have some modifications, and looks like this now. I have two more pairs of socks on my needles, and promised four pairs to friends at the Lunch Run. It's time for me to get back to my knitting...
I'll see you later!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

 It's been a long, long winter...
And we got another taste yesterday, with great heaps of snow, strong winds, and cold temperatures lasting through today, but spring is coming, and it will be here very soon. Until then, we have melting snow, mud, and potholes to work around. I have to admit, and please don't hate me for it, but I have loved every minute of this cold and snowy winter, and I'll truly be sorry to see it pass. We've seen every type of snow, from powder to heavy, wet, snowball-snow, and we've seen some extremely cold days, but it has been quite sunny and nice, mostly, and I do love a good, cold, snowy, sunny winter!

I have been given some treasures from my childhood. The house in which I grew up is being sold, and my father has cleaned out all of the last remaining reminders of my youth. Here are two very silly little mementos that I will cherish.
My mother was a normal, hardworking farm wife and mom, but she loved to throw a party. In days past, before the advent of disposable paper party-ware in every imaginable color and style, one used dishes like these. Every woman I knew had a set or two or three, and my mom was no exception.  If it was a really large party, all of Mom's friends would bring their party dishes to share, and sorting them out after the party was part of the fun of using them. 
Mom had several sets, and we knew there was going to be a PARTY! when the party dishes came out. I have eaten countless sandwiches, slices of cake, scoops of sherbet, cups of fruit from these plates, and sipped many, many servings of punch from these cups. There was usually a little paper cup of mints and mixed nuts, decorated to match the theme of the party, and perched to the side of whatever treat was served on your plate.
One of my fondest memories is of sitting carefully on a folding chair with my party plate and cup balanced on my lap, trying not to spill my treats on my party dress...I was so happy when Dad gave me Mom's party dishes! Some day, perhaps, I will pass them on to my grandchildren, but we might have to have a little party or two, first.

This little oddity is another very fond memory from my childhood. This is a popcorn-ball mold. It appears to be made from Bake-Lite and is in pretty good shape, considering all the popcorn balls we made with it! Mom would pop huge quantities of fresh popcorn, and then she'd cook butter and sugar in a saucepan until it made a thick, caramel syrup. She'd pour the syrup over the popcorn, and we'd dig in with buttered hands or, if we were lucky enough, the popcorn-ball mold, and shape the sticky treat into lovely, delicious balls. They were a favorite treat for school Hallowe'en parties.

It is odd to know that my childhood home will no longer belong to my family. My parents and three siblings lived in a garage and a camping trailer through the summer of 1955, while they tore down the old, ramshackle farmhouse in which they'd lived since my sister was born and built a new home for their little family.  When the 'new' house was completed, my grandmother came to visit one day, and said to my mother, "Now remember, Beverly, you must be very houses sometimes bring new babies!" and in 1956, that new house brought me! That house held laughter and tears, celebrations and grief, but most of all, it held a family.
It will now hold a family, once again. The young woman who will live in the house with her new husband grew up a mile to the west of us. We watched her grow up and raise many flocks of sheep. She was one of 'my' kids when I ran our elementary-school library. My mother knew her and her parents, and loved them, and I know that Mom would be happy to see them settling into 'her' home. They are doing major renovations on the house to bring it into a more modern state. Dad has promised to take me down to tour it as the construction progresses, and I'm eager to see it. 
I am so happy that another family will live in that house, that it will once again hold laughter and tears, celebrations and grief, and I am very, very happy indeed to know that once again there will be sheep on 'my' farm! It's been thirty years since baby lambs ran and jumped in the barnyard, and I can hardly wait to see them there again.

And yes, of course there has been knitting! This pair is on its way to my friend, Dale, in Texas. The yarn is a blend of sheep's wool and buffalo down, the soft undercoat of the American bison. Dale's wife, Suzi asked me to knit them for him, and provided the lovely yarn. She also very generously included enough yarn in a gorgeous blue to knit a pair for myself! 

 Last fall, I donated a coupon for a pair of hand-knit socks to my public library's annual fundraiser raffle. The winner is a giant of a man, 6'8" tall, with size 14 or 15 feet! These socks are the result of a test of a pattern that was designed by a Swedish woman, who is a member of the international Internet group Ravelry .
These are the finished socks shown with one of my 'normal' sized socks for comparison:

 and here is a picture of the winner, modeling his new socks.

A pretty pair for me

This pair was knit using leftover yarns from other projects in my favorite combination of yellow and blue. The color arrangement was completely random, but when I posted a picture of the finished socks at Ravelry, several people mentioned the 'landscape' that I'd knitted. Do you see it? The yellow is a beach, with the blue-and-white section the waves meeting the shore. Behind that is the ocean, with a blue and cloudy sky above it.  Pretty cool, and entirely by accident. 

And my most recent pair, finished at around 4:30 this morning (got insomnia much?), for the first round of Sock Madness 8. It's my third year in the competition. The first year, I was eliminated in the first round. The second year, I made it almost through the third round, being eliminated just moments before I finished my socks. We'll see how far I make it this year!

This is ice cream...I made it using sugar, cream, vanilla and fresh snow! It was delicious.

And a winter picture:

Be well. Be strong. Be happy.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christmas, and the first big snow for 2014

It's all about the grandkids!
Some fingerless mitts for my co-workers. There's another pair done, too, but I haven't taken a picture of those yet.

And winter at Sunnybrook


In other news, my passport expires this year and will need to be renewed. I've been thinking, on my drives to and from work, about the last ten years. 

Ten years ago:
I had never even had a passport.
I'd never flown across the Atlantic Ocean. I've done that four times since then.
I'd never been to Europe. I've been twice now.
I was a few pounds thinner, a lot less gray-haired, and MUCH less arthritic.
I could still run up and down stairs.
I did not yet have my first daughter-in-law. Now I'm on my second one.
I had no grandchildren. Now I have four.
My sister and several other people who are very dear to me were still alive.
I had yet to meet four of those dear friends who have since died.
I was still living in the house where I thought I would spend the rest of my days on earth.
I had never visited Alabama, New York (state AND city), Mississippi, or Arkansas. I have now.
I was still doing library work. I miss library work very, very much, although I enjoy the job I'm now doing.
I had JUST learned how to knit socks. Now I have knit countless pair, taught people how to knit socks, and designed and had published several patterns for socks.
Oh, and I have knit socks while riding down the highway on the back of a Honda Goldwing.
I quit smoking after more than three decades.
There has been one breakup of a couple who are my friends in the past ten years, but not one single divorce between any friends.
Police have come to my house to arrest someone, and I have been to a jail to bail someone out. Those were new experiences.
I have hiked a mountain gorge in the Alps in icy February.
I have experienced Fasching in Germany. I got a little drunk (also a first for me!).

In the last ten years, I've seen the following wonderful things:
My newborn grandson's beautiful face.
The not-so-newborn faces of my beautiful step-grandchildren!
The city of London, England.
The city of Paris, France.
The Bavarian Alps.
The Roman Gate at Trier.
Munich, Germany, and the Winter Olympics Stadium there.

I have laughed, wondered, mourned, comforted, loved. It's been a pretty good run. 
Maybe I'll do another ten...