Saturday, March 31, 2007


I came home from work last Friday and immediately went to the patio door to let some fresh air in. Sitting there on my patio was something I had long wanted for my kitties: a kitty condo. Or whatever they are called. It's a carpeted set of shapes and shelves that cats can play on and sleep on. They are not cheap though, and my money always has other places to go. So I never really expected to be able to have one unless I collected some carpet scraps and PVC piping and tried to make one myself. Since my forte lies in needlecraft and fiber type stuff, I would probably not make a kitty condo. My creation would probably end up a cross between the leaning Tower of Pisa and a medieval ruin. So, sorry, babies, no condo for you.

But there it was. An anonymous offering.

I have quizzed my friends in the local SCA group about it. They were all blandly confused as to why I was asking. My friends at church were surprised. My family? No, I didn't even bother asking them. Anyway, whoever the generous donor is: Thank you! The cats love it!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

1st Toe Up Socks

Early this past winter I decided to to just do it. Try Toe Up socks. I've always knit my socks cuff down on 5 double point needles. But I've heard that medieval socks were generally knit toe up. So I decided that it was important for me to learn to knit toe up. I started and abandoned I don't know how many socks using the figure 8 cast on. Those toes always turned out pitifully loose and gappy and I would frog it and start over. Finally I tried the Easy Toe method in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted socks. Look! It worked.
That said, I fervently declare that I will never made another pair of socks by the toe up. I don't like working to up! Now I can honestly say I've tried it and gotten a toe up sock to work fairly well, so I can smugly say I won't do it again. I'll stick to cuff down. And I don't really care if it's not period! Besides, the only period socks I've wanted to make are the Elizabethan style socks like Eleonora of Toledo's red silk socks, and they were almost certainly worked cuff down. So there!
These socks are made of Lion Brand's Wool Ease, and I adapted a stitch pattern from the same book. Instead of having the baby cable pattern making up the entire sock I just used one on either side of the top of the leg and foot. I kinda like the look of these. When I started I didn't have anyone in mind to give these to. I made them pretty long, so they definately don't fit me! I wear a size 6. You can see how much larger the socks are than the blockers. Luckily, there's a woman at church that these fit perfectly. I'll give them to her tomorrow. Naturally, it's spring now, so she probably won't wear these until next year. (sad face) Oh, well, on to the next pair!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Loopy Ladies

Hey, we've started a knitting group at church, and I love it!

We started out meeting in the Youth Sunday School Room at church -- you know, the room with saggy couches that require a helping hand to get out of -- but have since decided that it is more comfortable to knit at a local Caribou Coffee shop. We're callling ourselves the Living Hope Loopy Ladies.
Not that you need to go to our church to join us. Not everyone in these pictures is church member. We just want to have fun. And with so many people wanting to learn to knit these days, we thought it was a great opportunity for fellowship. Maybe a chance to show love in a practical way. You can knock on a stranger's door and announce "God loves you!" but that is flat out annoying. If you knitted someone a gift and said it was from the local church they would probably think you were trying to get them to go to your church.
If I was in their shoes I would be turned off. We don't want to do that. We just want to do something that is fun and might be helpful to other people. Instead of paying $30.00 plus materials for a class at a yarn shop, people can just join us and we'll get them started. We all started doing the same project: Felted Bags. It's great first project to teach someone how to knit because the felting hides a multitude of mistakes. And pretty much everyone can use a bag for something. When Debbie tells people that her purse was her first ever knitting project they are amazed and admiring. Now there is a core group of us that knit and we can each do what we might like. Lorri is working on a dishrag and Susi is working on a hat. Brandi is knitting cute little dresses for her new baby. Susie is working on an afgan. Terry and Robbie (the two who were really not at all sure they would like to knit but took to it like ducks to water) are making more felted bags. And we've pretty much taken over an entire section of the coffee shop every Thursday night. It's a blast. The paster's wife surprised me when she suggested that when we begin our fall Bible Study we would of course be knitting during the discussion time. tee-hee! A convert!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Winter's Return

Sigh. I woke up this morning to snow. Not just any snow. This is the kind that blows around, driven horizontal by nasty wind. Not surprising, really. It's State High School Basketball Tournament Time. That's the traditional time of year for nasty weather. In fact, one of the worst and deadliest blizzards happened in March back in the 1930s. I forget how many people died, but it was a bunch. All the proud parents left for town to see their kids and neighbors' kids play in the state tournaments being held in Fargo. This was (and still is) a major attraction in North Dakota, a reason to put on good clothes and go to town. The weather that morning was typical spring: blue sky and a light breeze and melting snow everywhere. Spirits were high. They piled into the school gymnasiums to watch the games and didn't see what the weather was doing. By late afternoon, it was blowing and snowing and when the farm folk, dressed in their town best clothes, left to go home it was getting bad. And in spite of the fact that most of them had grown up here and been dealing with the weather all their lives they still started out for home in their cars. The weather only got worse. Even in daylight it would have been hard to navigate through the snow, but in the dark it was near impossible. Cars couldn't get through the drifts on the county roads. The snow blowing in a solid curtain of white hid the sheltering farmhouses from motorists. Familiar roads turned into white mazes that disappeared. Cars couldn't see each other only yards apart. A day later people were dead, frozen in their cars in the middle of fields that the lost drivers had thought were roads. Cars marooned only yards from each other held frozen bodies. A woman's corpse was found frozen to a fence post only a quarter mile from a house. Those who survived were lucky. Dozens of women wearing dresses had frozen shins. Literally. Frostbite is nothing to fool around with.

How could hundreds of people who knew what the weather was capable of go blythely off to die? Didn't they know better?!! Well, I walked to work as usual this morning, but in my mind it was still spring, (how bad could it be?) so I didn't have my hat or scarf. Yikes! By the time I walked a few measely blocks I was frozen! Maybe that's what happened 60 years ago. People were thinking spring. But this weather today, nasty and unwelcome as it is, is not a blizzard.

And spring is still right around the corner. Only a month or so away. I know that because it's MARCH!! True, in other places around the country, March means it is really spring. Here on the border between Minnesota and North Dakota this is just Old Man Winter telling us he's still King of the Plains and he ain't going to leave until he's good and ready. Maybe April. After at least one more good ice storm...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Slices of Life

Sometimes life gets away from us. Well, away from me. For months I've kept my head down and my eyes fixed on my feet plodding along, numbly trying to get from Point A to Point B. It would probably be helpful to know what Point B is, as well as where it is. Is it:

A: to get caught up to a certain point at work? Management seems to think so. Since February 5 we have been required to work 10 hours of overtime a week. We're still not actually caught up, but we're a heck of a lot closer. I hate working so much, but I was hoping that all that extra money would let me pay off my Mayo Clinic bill. How can 22 hours of overtime on a check be only $115 more than the usual pay? Take a look at how much went to Uncle Sam and you'll know the answer to that question. Sigh. And then take that extra money to buy a new antibiotic that still doesn't work.

B: to finish knitting socks for all my friends? I'm working so much that I never get to see them. Working on gifts for friends makes me feel close to them, even if I don't get to see them. I look at my yarn stash and wonder what color or pattern Paula and Jane would like. It makes me feel like I'm hugging them.

C: to have a clean apartment? I hope that's not Point B. I'll never get there. The sun is shining gloriously today, and the temperature is near 40, so I have all the blinds open and the windows cracked a scant half inch. All that light is showing off all the dust and cat hair on everything. I am doggedly ignoring the sight. I will not spend my one afternoon off moaning about cat hair.

D: to be completely healed from all my sinus tribulations? Nope, can't be. The doctor has flat out said it ain't happening. No cure for what I have. But maybe we can kick the sinus infection that I've had since October. That would be Good.

I think the question shouldn't be "What is Point B?" I think it should be "What do I want Point B to be?" Well, darned if I know. Except I'd like a little more balance in my life. Less work and more time with friends. I want to put in a nice, 8 hour day at work and then come home to an apartment that was at least tidy, if not immaculate. I want more energy and playtime. I'd like fewer bills and less time spent seeing doctors who would like to help but can't. I want to lose about 20 pounds and take a month long vacation where I could spend all the money I want.

I think what Point B needs to be is contentment. Being content with what I have. Anybody know how to get there?