March 29, 2008

Three steps forward, two steps back (March heel madness)

I spent most of yesterday working on short row heels and while I would like to say that I came away with three perfectly formed heels, I only have one to show for a hard day’s work. Crazy perfectionist in me was ripping out heels at close to midnight – way too late to be knitting anyway.


Here’s a shot of the beautiful heel before I ripped it out. When I was still feeling spry and chipper. Isn’t it lovely?

The problem comes when I join the heel to the instep and can’t seem to eliminate the big gaping hole at the intersection. Help! Does anyone have any ideas?

Alice says the holes are not that bad. She doesn’t even notice them. So why do they bother me so much?

The weather yesterday was ripe for knitting with a lovely spring mixture of snow, sleet and hail. Willa was kind enough to give me some firewood so I spent the evening knitting by the fire. Doesn’t that just warm your heart? I shall repeat again tonight with the exception of turning the lights out at 8.

I did figure out that it takes me about an hour to knit one short row heel. That’s one hour of undisturbed, no distractions, phones-off-the-hook pure concentration. I’m getting better and that gives me confidence. So maybe the practice is a good thing.

Quick! Look! It's the sun.

The sun came out at Ikea, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Don't blink or you might miss it.

March 27, 2008

False starts and new beginnings

Cobblestone Sleeve, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Being the eager beaver that I am, I cast on a sleeve of the Cobblestone sweater on a whim the other day. I thought I had enough of this yarn (Swish/Squirrel Heather) in my stash to make Max another Cobblestone sweater. Well I don’t. I thought I had about twelve skeins but I only have nine.

Not to worry. I immediately dove into my stack of patterns and found Cable Cushion. It’s a copy from a book entitled The Well-Knit Home: Simple Techniques for Beautiful Results.

I've been wanting to make this pillow for sometime now and the Cable Cushion project fulfills my love of cables and also knits up quickly. This little bit was accomplished last night by the fire. Yes, a fire. It feels more like the start of winter than the start of spring these days. I even saw snowflakes this morning as I was driving Alice to school. This weather feels like the curse of spring break that happens every year but luckily Alice’s spring break doesn’t start until next week and hopefully the weather will be nicer. Thanks for letting me rant about the weather. It will change before long. It always does.

More than nothing but less than something.

Today I feel compelled to turn away from knitting (only momentarily I assure you) to tell you a little story about my breast.

Back in January I had a mammogram as I do every January. About a week later they called and said they wanted to take another, closer look at the left breast. They detected small calcifications that were pointed out on the digital image. To me, the biggest of the group looked smaller than a grain of rice. It’s nothing I thought. A damn nuisance this whole procedure, I mumbled to myself.

A few weeks after that I ended up having a needle biopsy and let me tell you that was no walk in the park. I layed on my stomach on a table and was raised up like an old car at the auto shop. My breast fell through a hole and they worked on me from below, just like auto mechanics. My breast came out sore and bruised. Now there was a lump where before there had been none. Just a blood clot they assured me.

Thinking that was the end of it, they called with the results. There were suspicious cells and they wanted to surgically remove those cells and the surrounding tissue. A bigger sample would give them a better idea of what we were dealing with. They still weren’t using the c-word.

At this point I balked a bit. I was getting a little scared. They were going to remove a chunk of my breast now. I didn’t feel like enduring another uncomfortable and (in my opinion) bungled and possibly unnecessary biopsy. Reluctantly, petulantly I agreed and my last words to the surgeon were “Don’t mangle my breast.” It’s still nothing.

Well yesterday I learned the pathology results from that surgery. It’s more than nothing but less than something. Apparently the cells have the potential to develop into cancer and I will most likely be given a hormone, Tamoxifen, to prevent that from happening.

More than nothing but less than something, the woman on the other end tried to reassure me. Was she a nurse? I don’t remember. I was stunned.

I think I’m in denial. I continue to believe it’s nothing. I want to know: How can this be happening to me? There’s no family history. Cancer just doesn’t happen in our family. Never has as far as I know. Cancer is an abstract concept. It happens to other people but not to me.

Perhaps this explains my affinity for pink.

March 20, 2008

Close Knit

Close Knit Yarn Shop, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I am just returned from Portland and visiting my favorite yarn shop, Close Knit. What makes this place special is not the the awesome selection of fine yarn although the store is literally bursting at the seams, with skeins exploding from every nook and cranny. And it’s not the cozy, welcoming atmosphere even though you could curl up on one of the sofas and easily take a nap. What makes Close Knit special is Adrienne who has got to be the friendliest knitter in all of Portland.

Sally, the owner, is terrific and lovely and also very friendly but it was Adrienne who, a few weeks ago and despite her distress, did not hesitate to patiently assist me in learning the dreaded “wrap 3” stitch from the Must Have Cardigan. Many thanks!

Today Adrienne did not flinch when I asked her to throw the completed and blocked Shetland Triangle over her shoulders and model it for me. She good naturedly sat there as I chattered on like an over-caffienated idiot. The Karabella Vintage Yarn comes from Close Knit and it’s a fine yarn indeed. I think I like red, this shade anyway, almost as much as I like pink.

Please indulge me now, while I present more photos of the Shetland Triangle.

Photos don't do this yarn or color justice. They can't begin to represent the beautiful characteristics of this truly outstanding fiber so please go see it in person if you can.

Getting back to my yarn shop excursion…

On this particular day, I didn’t buy any yarn although I was tempted by the fresh and juicy new colors of Cotton Classic.

I will probably go back and get some soon (for the ongoing mitered square blanket). That golden yellow in particular is really crying out to me. I mean, what kind of fiber addict am I anyway? Hey! Money’s tight right now ok? (When is money never tight? Hmmmm?) 

I did finally start the March socks the other day although whether I can finish them before April remains to be seen. I'm not sure if knitting two socks...

or knitting two sleeves...

simultaneously is any faster but at least you come away with a pair. I’m going to call this pair #3 for 2008 and resolve to knit 12 pairs this year rather than one per month. It still works out to the same amount, right?

March 16, 2008


Pink again, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I had a long-ish post prepared which described all my projects that are currently in progress but I just scrapped it in favor of my favorite color. What can I say? This photo turned me on the way pink always does. Suffice it to say that I’m in an oven mitt making frenzy and this is one of the mini-mitts in progress. The yarn is Cascade 128, a nice bulky yet lightweight wool that is perfect for felting and which I also got on sale (40% off).
Now it’s time to continue production. I plan to take the oven mitts to market later this month. Weather permitting. I’ll let you know when and where. Stay tuned!

March 9, 2008

Sew what

vintage fabric, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Occasionally. Not very often but occasionally I like to sew. I have known how to sew longer than I have known how to knit but sewing really brings out the obsessive-compulsive perfectionist in me. Needless to say, I don’t do it very often. Occasionally.

Well I have committed myself to sewing a few rehearsal skirts for the Union High School production of Bye Bye Birdie. I had this lovely vintage fabric lying around thinking I would make a reversible wrap skirt for myself but decided it was too much work. With the remnants I will probably make some reversible knitting bags instead. In any case, the weather is much too lovely to stay inside and do anything crafty. Everyone is complaining, but I happen to like daylight savings time.

March 2, 2008

Must Have Progress

kodie, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

The previously mentioned photo shoot came together just this morning and I want to thank Kodie for getting her pink self all dolled up to model my monkey socks – the February sock of the month selection. Now it’s on to the March socks which I haven’t even started yet (gasp!).

A couple of days ago I wrote at length about my false start with the Must Have Cardigan but look at my progress on the large size in just one day!

Once I had the curious “wrap 3” stitch mastered, the pattern was easily memorized and I zoomed! This is quite possibly one of the most addictive projects I’ve ever worked on. Just one more row…just one more row…just one more row and before you know it, it’s midnight and way past my bedtime. Must get a life…must get a life…must get a life.