Fear of Finishing

Let’s face it, putting the last touches on anything is pretty annoying for most of us. I assume there are some people out there who live for that, Martha Stewart might be one of these people, and for all I know she’s the only one in this category. The rest of us are wannabe finishers.

For me that goes as far back as, well, college. It might have happened earlier, but memory fails me there. So what did I do with college? Called it quits with one semester left. I’m not going to bore you with the details and not all of them were under my control, but there are too many other examples not to see the pattern.

Almost 10 years ago I had the brilliant idea of putting down my own flooring. That went well until the finishing touches. Again, not totally under my control, I lacked the right saw to cut the final panels, I also lacked a nail gun to drive the baseboards in tight. But I did my best.

I enthusiastically jump into many projects until a bump comes along and I give up. Come on, I did most of the work and had the inspiration to begin with, isn’t that enough?

Unfortunately this translates uncannily into the realm of knitting. I love starting projects, nothing pleases me more. Just like the first pages of any notebook, so crisp and pristine and full of good intentions. When the final pages are reached or the ends need weaving in, the button band needs adding, the seams, well, you have me there. This is when I start looking forward to the next notebook full of new possibilities and intentions, the knitting gets placed in its plastic protective bag where it can languish for a long, long time. Just like my floors.



This holiday evokes mixed feelings. The bottom line seems to be sugar consumption. Lots of it. I love my sugar, but the health problems associated with it have me looking for alternatives every year.

This year it’s ninjas and witches and cork people. Of course I’ll also offer some kind of sweet treat, most likely little chocolate truffles this year. I better get going on them soon, holidays have a tendency to creep up on me.

The planning and all is fun, but then, I seem to lose steam. Yes, that includes holiday knitting. You don’t have to tell me, I know it’s coming up, and what with the sweater not working out and all.

We don’t have that many kids anymore in the neighborhood so it’s trick-or-treating lite. 50 or 60 little witches and ninjas and gnomes should last all night. And just in case you find yourself with more time than 24 hours a day, here are the patterns and you too can be the old neighborhood crochet lady.

Yes, I did say crochet. There are ways to make them knit, but such tiny little things on many needles is too fidgety for me. Crochet then it is. Click on this blog where someone has taken the simple cork people to new heights or knights.

There is a picture of the ninjas I copied. The actual pattern is here where many more tempting projects are begging for your time.



The Modern Dilemma

Too many times I’ve found myself in a situation where I have to choose recycling, repurposing or throwing out. It’s a matter of clutter.

Let me explain this with an example. Let’s take candles. I love candles, I have tons of candles. Most candles burn to the bottom, but many leave you with a stump. I bet most people throw this out. I’ve done that. But then I started collecting these stumps and after collecting enough had an afternoon of candle making. It’s not a matter of money. It’s not wanting to waste, with a little fun thrown in.

I have a box of candle-making ingredients. But it has been sitting there for a while now and gets moved around during every attempt at order. Of course, one box of candle-making ingredients doesn’t fill the house. But there’s a box for everything one can save and eventually repurpose.

Rearranging the house puts me in the position of having to make lots of these decisions. I’m a gemini, I get to have both opinions and feelings. Save, throw out, save, throw out, ad nauseum. You would think I have this figured out by now, not so.

I might live and consume like a first worlder, but then I find myself on my own trash heap looking for anything usable.

Creativity can be a hindrance, too. A paper bag with handles gets envisioned as a gift bag after a picture is glued to the front of it. Really, you’re going to do that Marianna?

Yes, I will, because I also saved the cool pictures from the Middle East Children’s Alliance and they would fit perfectly. What else would I do with them?


2 Year Anniversary

Two years ago my husband Stephen and our kids Liana and Toby were in a waiting room at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento hoping I’ll come out of the bypass surgery alive. And I did. Though much changed.

The last two years have shown improvement, especially in the early phases and disappointments lately. When I was told I would never run a marathon but can have a good life I took this as a challenge.

I never even wanted to run a marathon, I am not a runner. The only time I’ve tried I collapsed giggling and in hysterics with a friend on the grass by the river in Heidelberg.

But tell me I will not run a marathon and I’m ready to run. Not really. I try. Can’t even run a mile. And a one mile marathon is all I’m aiming for here. Not in record speed, mind you. Still, that goal is elusive though I’ve not given up hope. I only need a plan. A plan is similar to a list, it eases the mind and then gets lost.

On the eve, last night, I made this horrible discovery of the sweater. Stressful? Yes, but not as bad as what would happen next. Stephen finally announced that something strange is happening to his eyes, his vision. I shot up and hysterically ordered him to call Kaiser, our health care provider about 45 minutes away. I’ve had a stroke, yes I’m lucky that way, and the first symptom was vision loss that I still have. I tried to explain what it was like for me but he said no and talked about a crescent shape and looking through water with ripples and peripheral vision and all I could think was, damn Stephen is mortal, too.

About half an hour later, this episode ended while on the phone with advice nurse and doctor. They wanted him to come to the ER. We explained our distance and that wifie does not drive and that it’s late and all. They wanted to know our closest non-Kaiser hospital, which is about a 10 minute drive, and we all agreed to call Kaiser back in the morning for an appointment and if this happens again to go to the local ER.

This morning he finds out through a phone call that he had an optical illusion migraine. Nothing really to worry about, but perhaps to come in and get it checked out or at least come in if it happens again. Whew!

I’m ready for a very relaxing, knitting day. Did I mention we had rain? Yes, rain in California. Not enough, but every drop helps. Perhaps we should request that every visitor to this state bring a couple bottles of water as a visitor tax.

Sweater Disaster

I’m still in shock. Knitting shock. Having difficulty finding the words. No one died. Except for this lovely sweater. That sweater died this evening.


Progress was so satisfying, I was so proud (hubris as it turns out), and my knitting heart was so, so happy with this sweater.

I finally allowed myself to turn the pattern page to see if I am anywhere near the armholes. What? Side decreases for sweater shaping? You have to be kidding me. Starting at setup row 7? I mean, take a look, that’s all the way down to the ribbing!

This is not happening. I’ve made many sweaters in the 70s and 80s that had no shaping. I just knit until it was done. A box. Why did knitting have to evolve?

I tried the sweater on Stephen and no matter how I look at it or turn it or pull it lengthwise, this is too wide. It seems to expand as it grows. And remember here that this is knit in the round so you only see half of what I have to frog.

I am a knitter I can deal with this. I can deal with anything. This is not the end of the world. The world is round and I will not fall off.

The only thing worse than having to frog this is frogging it and then seeing I didn’t need to. OK, I can dream. But before frogging I will highlight the pattern and read and reread since I am sure there are other opportunities to screw this up.

It’s time to cast on a new pair of socks as a consolation prize and to calm me down. Perhaps a little yarn shopping? Nah….

Hidden away somewhere is this sweater I started in the 80s and never finished. Can’t remember why, probably only needed seaming which I hated then and still do. It’s the only sweater I left behind. This will not happen to this lovely design. My daughter will wear this on the 24th of December when German Christmas and Hanukkah collide.

The Story of a Sweater Part 1.5

Thought I was slacking, did you? It’s slow going and fast at the same time. I’m on the third skein, this sweater is eating up the yarn. The pattern is repetitive enough that I’ve got it. Though that’s where the problems often slide in unnoticed. It’s not the same over and over so my hope is I can stay conscious while knitting and not sink in too deep a meditative state. 

Just a pit stop to show off:

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I started many times to write on the topic of vaccinations and I give up. We did not vaccinate or selectively vaccinated our children. This article from Slate someone posted on Facebook had me wanting to vent, not so much about vaccinations but the big whine fest.

My first response was: Oh, Cry me a river. Growing up in the 50s I had all those illnesses, except for the quinsy one. That was a part of growing up then and my childhood wasn’t the worse for it.

My second response was, but who am I to judge. After all, I didn’t lose anyone to one of the illnesses that can be prevented by vaccines. Nobody I knew died. And how would I feel if someone did? And forbid it having been one of my children.

Next I read the comments. All in support of vaccinations. Except for one who mentions that it’s difficult to discuss vaccinations as the pro vaccination folks immediately resort to name calling. I thought it a bit provocative, but, hey….

Exactly as predicted, the names started rolling out. Wow, really? You’re going to prove the point? It went downhill from there, suggestions of locking up unvaccinated children and adults. It seems to follow a prescribed pattern nowadays and I don’t know why I even read comments anymore.

I looked at death rate statistics (this link is not working this moment, but I’ll leave it up in case it’s just a maintenance problem) of unvaccinated children in the U.S. and was pleasantly surprised.

Conclusion: These are our children and most of us do what we think is best for them.

P.S. Bridget from cardholder services is calling again. I was getting worried that something had happened to her. After all we all felt like strangling her at one point or another.


The Story of a Hat

It all started with a sweater pattern I fell in love with. I also loved the yarn and with a fortunate coincidence found myself in Oakland at a store that sells the yarn the sweater was made of. Getting Brooklyn Tweed shelter yarn without ordering online is not a small feat, believe me.

Since the yarn did not convince me to make the sweater I love, I bought some anyway and decided on a hat. It was going to be a two birds with one stone thing, though I would never kill a bird, let alone throw stones at a bird. But I would get to test knit the yarn with a pattern of Jared Flood’s. 

The hat is big, I knit loosely. And I made the ribbing a bit longer. Probably unnecessary. Stephen just came back from a walk and reports it itches ever so slightly but only once in a while. 

This might be my first finished cable item. Let’s pretend there are no mistakes and what you see is design elements added by me. I actually signed up for a cable class with craftsy because it is my belief hope that there is a shortcut to cabling.

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