Archive for April, 2007

Mitering Madness . . . Mitering Happiness

April 28, 2007

I can’t believe I ever said “Ugh” about having to knit 79 more miters for the mitered square blanket. I love them! Love. Love. Love. They’re beautiful and addictive and here they are.

Slow but steady progress. Love.

You Can Do It If You Try

April 24, 2007

I’m attempting to knit my first real sock. I’ve knit booties before, but never a true sock. Too afraid. Looks hard. Little dpns. Yikes. I’ve been inspired to finally give sock knitting a try. And this is the reason why:

That’s my 13-year-old boy’s first beautifully tied sneaker. He finally did it. After years of making half-baked ties of his own and many more years of treating all his mommy-tied-them shoes as slip-ons, the planets aligned and M. tied a gorgeous bow on his brand new Converse high-tops. Another milestone.

So . . . if he can do it, I can do it. I’ll knit a sock. I’m using Sockotta sock yard, #2 dpns and Yanke Knitter Designs Classic Socks pattern. We’ll see how it goes. I’m having a hard time pulling myself away from my mitered squares. I’ll post pictures of my progress soon.

Here’s what became of the Converse sneakers box:

A new attraction for Emmie.

Sigh . . .

April 18, 2007

I think my knitting is distracting me. Maybe I don’t think clearly when I’m just wanting to get stuff done so that I can get back to the needles. Right now, I just want to work on my 3rd miter block for my mitered square blanket so I won’t let my thoughts linger on the Disney Trip I planned.

I linger. I’d been thinking about taking my son to Disneyworld in Florida this summer. We went 2 years ago and we loved every minute of it. Last summer, we couldn’t take a big vacation because I was still going through my cancer treatments, and my energy level was still crap. This summer, I’m free (!) and my son deserves a great trip after being such a trooper through all my ups and downs. I started to do a little flight and hotel research and was saddened to see that the cost of this trip would be nearly double the cost in 2005. I put it off. I waited. For what? Prices to go down?

Last week, my man friend, a seasoned traveler and expert flight-bargain hunter, taunted me with the promise of the cheap flights that he knew he could find for me. With my knitting in my lap, and dueling laptops, we talked on the phone and searched for flights together. Eureka! Cheap flights were found when he advised me to “straddle the weekend.” (I never thought I was that limber.) I pulled the credit card out of my wallet when we found my bargain. Leave Thursday AM, June 21st, return Monday PM, June 25th. A nice, long straddled weekend. Only a few dollars more than I paid 2 years ago. Click, click, confirmed. Done. To the Disney website. Click, click, confirmed. Woohoo! We’re going to Disney. Much excitement. Hang up phone. Knit. Knit. Knit.

Yesterday . . . a thought. A question popped up in my mind. Hmmm . . . When is the last day of school? Hmmm. Check the school district website. Oh, it’s June 21st? Really? Are we sure? Let’s call some teacher friends to check out what must surely be false information. Really? Crap. Crap, crap, crap. $190 more to change the flight ($25 fee per person to change flights on their website, which saved $5 per person if I had called and spoken to a live person to discuss the fact that i’m an idiot.) plus the $140 difference in the cost of flights to go one week later. Crap. But, if I look at the stay-on-my-mother’s-good-list side, I will now be home for my cousin’s wedding on June 23rd, which I also hadn’t thought of when I booked the trip. You live . . . you pay $190 . . . you learn.

Just let me knit.

Betty, please.

April 16, 2007

My family and I have been holding our closed fists to our mouths on and off for nearly 27 years saying, “Betty, please. Betty, pick up.” Pretending to speak into a microphone the words from an episode of Laverne and Shirley that we’d only seen ONCE. In the many years that have gone by since watching that show, I’ve never spoken to one person outside of my immediate family who’d seen the Betty, please episode. I’d come to believe that we never actually saw it. Maybe we’re all crazy and we made it up together in an attempt to entertain ourselves. Now I have the video evidence that proves we’re not crazy. We’re just wacky and silly. Last night was the night when everything came together at the right place, at the right time, and led me to the video clip I’d been thinking about and laughing about, for years and years. Thanks to the invention of You Tube and to a fan of old sit-coms, the all-time greatest episode of Laverne and Shirley (dang! You Tube removed it!) is on the screen in front of me. I snorted more than once as I laughed, which for me is the true measure of comedy. It makes me snort. (Please click on the link so that you can watch it and snort, too. I don’t want you to feel left out.)

I immediately called my parents and both of my sisters to tell them of the great find, and I emailed the link so that each of them could watch it. I listened on the phone as one of my sisters watched it and laughed, bringing back the memories of our summer of 1981 car trip to Indiana. At every restaurant we visited on the way there and back, one of us would start with the “Betty, please” after a waitress would take our order. You would have thought we would quickly get sick of it, but we didn’t. We’d laugh and laugh some more.

This Laverne and Shirley episode was first aired on May 6, 1980. (I didn’t always know that fact. My googling turned that up last night.) Laverne and Shirley were working in a diner, with Laverne as the cook, and Shirley as the lone waitress. Rather than call for Shirley when an order is ready, Laverne thinks the name Betty is more dinery and calls, “Betty, please” into the microphone above the grill. It’s so silly and hysterically funny. Another great quote from Laverne, after she pours way too much pancake batter onto the grill and it surrounds the other food that’s cooking: “Attention. Attention. Lucky lucky! For the next 10 minutes everything comes with pancakes.”

I wish I could have watched my father’s face as he watched Laverne and Shirley come back to life on his computer screen. I’d love to hear him laugh and to see his face as he stretches out his face and curls his lips around his teeth to try to stop himself from laughing too hard. My mother gets the giggles. My other sister laughs so hard, she cries. Love when she does that.

So this silly episode of an old sit-com not only brings back the laughter brought on by a funny show, but it wakes up the love I have for my family and all of the snortin’ good times we’ve spent together. I’m a lucky girl.

Now how about some knitting?

I finished 2 more of the MDK ballband dishcloths. Promise I’ll stop showing these now. That’s all. Unless there’s a really good one . . .

Here’s the first of my miters for the MDK mitered square blanket. Really simple to knit. The whole blanket looks intimidating, but when I read the pattern, I realized it’s pretty easy. Now . . . 79 more miters to go. Ugh.

There something about a . . .

April 15, 2007

. . . dishcloth hanging over the faucet. Kind of a nostalgic feeling, like Grammie or Mommy had just washed the Sunday dinner dishes. Not that I really have any memories of either of them using a dishcloth, let alone a handknit one, but it just feels really special. I’m hooked on washing dishes with this cloth. It’s my first dishcloth ever, a basketweave pattern in Sugar’n Cream cotton. Never really planned on using it, until I made the MDK ballband dishcloth that I’m still trying to make my sister use. Figured I’d better practice what I preach.

It’s fun to wash dishes with this. I like washing dishes now. I’m probably one of the few people in the world who has a perfectly good dishwasher in the kitchen and has never used it. It’s not that I don’t think it will do a good job, it’s just a little fear I have. Will the dishes crash against each other because I don’t know how to load it? Will soap bubbles come oozing out? Not ready to try it. Happy, though, to use my dishcloth.

After having my frothee coffee, I settled in to knit on this ugly, rainy day. It’s a day when no one goes out if they don’t really have to. No intention of even getting dressed. Spending another day relaxing with the knitting. I’m finishing Mom’s MDK dishcloth and had a little idea. What if I did the ballband dishcloth pattern stockinette stitch? Would that be cool. I started a little swatch of it, using only a variegated yarn instead of 2 different yarns.
Here’s what it looks like. It’s okay. Curls up a little because of the slipped stitches and nothing to push forward from the back. But it’s okay. Just okay. Kind of pretty. Not great. If it was great, then Ann and Kay at Mason-Dixon Knitting would have thought of it. I should just stick to the patterns as I find them.

Happiness is a School Vacation Week and Growing Hair

April 14, 2007

April vacation is here and I couldn’t be happier. No alarm clock. No rush to get ready. Time for two cups of frothee coffee on the couch. Knitting in my lap (finished another MDK dishcloth). Knitting blogs on the laptop screen in front of me (MDK and Yarn Harlot – reading all the archives). Mindless television programs flickering across the room. (Too embarrassed to name the all-day rerun of an entire season of a reality show that I’m not really watching. Really. I’m not.) My son upstairs playing a computer game, occasionally coming by on his way to the kitchen. Cat curled up next to me. My own curls growing longer. This is happiness for me. I could do this every day. I’m a world class homebody.

This is a good time in my life, and not just because of a school vacation. I’m coming up on the end of roughly 18 months of dealing with breast cancer and its treatment. I was diagnosed in October 2005 after my first mammogram ever. Only went for the mammogram to make my mother happy – had to go before I turned 40. Didn’t go so that they could find a suspicious little cluster of nasty stuff. It was earthshattering, terrifying. Aside from being afraid for me, I was worried about my son, M. I’m a single mom and I’m M’s ONLY. Nothing could happen to me.

A lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, followed by a year of weekly Herceptin IV treatments. 48 treatments down and only 4 to go. It’s been a long road, but I’m feeling great and I’m healthy. I’m a lucky girl. (I know, I know, but I can’t call myself “woman” or “lady.” Makes me feel older than I want to feel. I’m a girl.) The doctors, nurses, assistants and technicians who’ve cared for me have been wonderful. I remember my mom telling me a story about something my father, who is so not a mushball, said to someone in the waiting area at the radiologists office: “They must be the angels you always hear people talk about.” So true. The other angels are M, my parents, my 2 sisters, and all of my wonderful friends. Oh, can’t forget my students and their families. Wow. People are good.

Now let’s talk hair. I think one of the hardest parts of going through chemo is losing one’s hair. It was really tough for me. At my first treatment, the nurse told me I should cut my hair short, so that it would ease the devastation I’d feel at seeing long pieces of hair fall out of my scalp. Wouldn’t do it. I figured that, with my luck, I’d be the one person whose hair didn’t fall out from the chemo drug I was getting. After big clumps fell onto the floor of a dressing room at TJ Maxx, I went home, grabbed the scissors and asked my son to help me hack it all off. I cut the front; he cut the back. We cried and we laughed.

My months without hair were hard for me. I dreamed about hair. Dreamed that I had long, flowing, shiny waves. I’d wake up and my hand would fly to my head. Still bald. I’d catch my reflection in a mirror or window and feel a little zap. Shocked me to see myself. I wore a wig for a short time. Looked like a helmet. My own hair was fine and flat. The wig was full and thick. I was a wrecking ball head. I could have knocked down brick walls by head-butting them. Switched to hats. Much better. Some were hats I had knit or crocheted, but my favorite was a big denim hat. But hats stink when you’re having chemo hot flashes. I’d feel the heat coming up, yank off the hat and fan myself. My son would ask, “Flashing?” I wore my soft, knitted caps to sleep in because my head would get chilly, but I’d always end up pulling it off several times during the night. I’ll probably never knit another hat for myself, but I love making them for babies. They don’t flash. No worries.

As soon a I had what could be considered a centimeter of hair covering my shiny scalp, I flipped my lid. I sucked it up, and went out without a hat. So freeing. I wore big earrings so people would know I was female (forgetting that I still had boobs that would tip everyone off.) What is the thing with earrings and women with short post-chemo hair? We all do it. Do we think that the dangling flashes of silver and gold will distract people from our lack of hair?

Now that my hair has had nearly a year of growing time, I’m finally feeling like I look almost normal again. My hair is darker and much curlier that it was before, but it’s the most beautiful hair ever. It is. Wouldn’t care if it was purple and frizzy. Green and stick straight. Doesn’t matter. It’s hair. Hair. I love my hair. Love playing with it. Putting goop in it. Twirling it. Feeling good and even willing to have my picture taken. Then . . .

Yesterday, one of my very beautiful third grade girls said to me, “When your hair gets long, you’re going to be beautiful.” Fizzle fizzle. Deflate. Pfft. Ouch. So I look like crap now? Whatamigonnado? It’s my hair. And I love it.

Happy vacation to me. Casting on . . . Life is good.

Here’s the Latest

April 11, 2007

This is the 2nd in what will surely be a long line of Mason-Dixon ballband dishcloths. This one, however, is going to live its life as a washcloth. I’m going to give it to a friend along with a good-smelling shower gel. She’s recuperating from surgery and can use a pick-me-up.

I’ve been reading a lot of knitting blogs and I love the “Six Weird Things” that knitters have shared about themselves. Right away, I thought of at least 6 weird things about myself. I’m sure you’ll see them listed here soon. There is a big problem for me, though. All of this blog-reading is really cutting into my knitting time. I can knit a few stitches while I read, but then I have to stop and move the mouse, and click. It’s a constant battle. I’m going to force myself to get away from the laptop now and start a new dishcloth. My mom and my sister Kim are waiting for theirs. Happy knitting!

The Monet Bag

April 9, 2007

This is the bag that I wrote about in a previous post. It was knit with grab-bag wool that I bought at a craft show. The colors were beautiful – greens and pinks mixed with a little blue and yellow. I knit with 2 strand held together throughout and the colors blended in such a cool way. The greens and blues are mainly at the bottom of the bag, with the pinks and lighter shades at the top. It looks like one of Monet’s gardens. I felted it just enough for it to tighten into a fabric, but left the knit stitches visible. My sister Kim loves this bag and she uses it all the time. I took the picture of it today at our Easter dinner.

My sister Kathy liked the blue/purple Mason Dixon dishcloth, but I could tell she was reluctant to use it. I told her that I wouldn’t leave her house until she got it wet. Must. Use. The. Handknits. She finally soaked it and squeezed it out, and it still looks great. I’ll bet she’ll never wash a dish with it, but she’ll keep it around the kitchen. I’m already working on my next one – solid yellow with pink, orange, and yellow ombre Sugar’n Cream. Pretty.

Let the Show and Tell Begin

April 8, 2007

This is the first big felted bag I ever made. I had a lot of time on my hands in early 2006 because I had taken most of the school year off while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Knitting was a great way to fill my time, relax me, and make me feel somewhat productive while I was feeling really zonked out. I took a class at an LYS called Country Yarns in Wallingford, CT specifically to learn to make this bag. They call it the Felted Fan Tote. I don’t remember exactly which yarns I used, but I think it was a strand of Cascade 220 and a strand of Lopi (?) held together throughout. I learned to do short rows and to join the front and back together with an i-cord trip that went on to form the handle. I paid a talented knitter/seamstress to line it for me. It has a pretty fabric lining with a zipper pocket.

I was so proud of what was a major project for me. I used the bag every day for a long time! Making this bag really helped me get over my fear of tackling challenging projects. I started picking up patterns for things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to handle, and I’ve done just fine. If I can get through chemotherapy, I can get through anything.

This is the 2nd major felted bag I made. It’s the B-4 Bag – Bobbles! Beads! Bumps! Buttons! (Mine doesn’t have buttons . . . yet.) It’s made with a strand of Cascade 220 and a strand of Nashua Wooly Stripes held together. I loved knitting in the clear pony beads and the bobbles were really fun to make. It’s so nerve-wracking to throw a bag I’ve worked so hard on into the washing machine, but it felted beautifully. (B-4 Bag is designed by Trish Bloom ) It lead me in to knitting the next bag pictured . . .

I spent a lot of time and used a lot of yarn (Patons Classic Merino Wool) making this huge tote bag. I followed the idea of the B-4 Bag pattern, but made some changes and made it larger. I went so overboard on this one. There are way too many beads and the bag is so heavy, even when it’s empty. I still kind of like it, but I don’t really use it. You knit . . . you learn.

During the summer of 2006, my sister Kim and I decided that we both wanted to make the Noni Bobble Bag. We bought tons of colors of Cascade 220 for the bobbles and shared the yarn. We saved some money by using black Patons Classic Merino Wool for the body of the bag. We bobbled, bobbled, and bobbled some more. The bags and bobbles were felted separately and bobbles were sewn on after. I love this bag! When we first got our kitten, Emmie, she used to get inside the bag all the time. Since she’s black, she blended right in.

That’s all for the show and tell for today. Time to start that next dishcloth . . .

The First of Many

April 8, 2007

I finished the ballband dishcloth today. I did a few report cards, knit a few rows. Did a few more report cards, knit a few more rows. Finished the report cards, finished the dishcloth. Such a great feeling of accomplishment! Love it! It’s the first dishcloth of many. It was quick, easy, and fun – my favorite kind of project. I’m already picking colors for the next one. I’ll give this one to my sister Kathy tomorrow. Our Easter get-together is at her house. It’s hard to give away the first, but I do love to give away the things I knit. I especially like when I see the recipient using and loving what I made for them.

Last year, I made a felted bag out of some beautiful hand-dyed wool that I had bought as a grab-bag at a craft show. There were two skeins of yarn with gorgeous shades of pinks and greens. I made up my own pattern, crocheting a circular bottom and knitting up the sides. I finished it with 8 holes and threaded a an i-cord strap through to cinch it closed. After I felted it, I couldn’t believe how amazing the colors looked. The bag looked like a Monet painting. My sister Kim loved it, so as painful as it was for me to let it go, I gave it to her. She has used it nearly every day since. She replaced the felted i-cord strap with a leather strap from another purse, and it looks so good. It’s her Monet bag and she loves it. I get the warm fuzzies every time I see her using it.

I’ve taken pictures of some of the other felted bags I’ve made, so I’ll do a little show and tell soon. I’ll have to take a picture of the Monet bag to show, too.