Since I haven’t stopped making dishcloths, there are enough for the four of you who are interested. That would be Kate, Debra, Cereza, and Mardi.
Let me know if you want a particular one. If I still have that one, it’ll be yours. Pick up is at our house and I’ll put a bag with your name containing the dishcloths out front on the round table. I don’t feel well enough for visits, even short ones. My health has been shitty and I’m glad when I survive the day.
Pickup is any time, any day. Here are the choices again (for now):
Years ago I started making our own dishcloths and never looked back. Our colorful drawer of them brings a smile every time. And Stephen, our main dishwasher, loves them and wouldn’t dream of using anything else.
But we have a supply that will probably outlive us. So no temptation to make more. Except, now I still have all the cotton yarn I would only use for dishcloths. Perhaps woven kitchen towels, but I haven’t tried yet.
So when I saw this dishcloth challenge, I am sure they don’t look at it as a challenge, I couldn’t resist. Every year people start spinning while watching the Tour de France. But I have absolutely no interest in this sport. Though I do love spinning. But dishcloths? Bring it on. And I can stream anything I fancy? Like I said: Bring it on.
Stephen immediately exclaimed: But we don’t need more dishcloths. No problem I said, I’ll give them away. It wasn’t going to be so straightforward: after I made a few, he fell in love and I had him pick two for himself. He chose well.
As promised, I have more dishcloths to give away, 6 of them. They have seen tons of murders, as that’s what I was streaming. A reminder, these are not potholders, but dishcloths. After a previous giveaway, someone eventually mentioned to me that they’re pretty thin and I had to remind them: dishcloths, not potholders. I understand, because how many people actually have dishcloths?
I’ll give away three sets of two. They are free, and you can pick them up in person. Or if you need me to ship them, I’m asking you cover shipping costs.
So how can you get your hands on them? Make a comment to this post, telling me what you use to wash dishes. No, dishwasher doesn’t count.
I’ll admit, I use sponges with a coarse side for scrubbing. Still, I hope there will be enough interest in them. And let me know which ones speak to you, though no promises.
P.S. They are machine washable, though fade with time, almost antique looking.
I opened the first pages and studied techniques, yarn types, patterns, colors…. immediately decided on an easy first animal pattern to see the pitfalls I would be experiencing and to get practical information empirically.
Wanting to do this right, I even ordered the suggested yarns and needles. As usual, I don’t have what is used in the book. Even the needle size was one I didn’t have, though I find this hard to believe. It’s probably hiding on some project I started and didn’t finish yet.
I should have known, but I didn’t, as I happily knitted all the body parts that make up a cute mouse. The head, the body, the legs, the arms, the tail. Ok, I found the tail a bit long, but it’s a mouse and they have long tails, right?
Once finished, I washed all the pieces. And in the meantime made some pants and started on a cardigan. Wow, those pants were huge, but I would love a bigger stuffed animal instead of a tiny one. I should have known, but didn’t.
Today, after a palate cleanser of a littler rabbit yesterday and while waiting for the mouse pieces to dry, the mouse was going to be assembled. And this is where I couldn’t deny my loose knitting anymore. I should have known, but I didn’t.
The body seemed a bit big, but I remembered the big pants and thought: ok?!
Next came the legs. I like some pretty long legs, but this was getting ridiculous. This mouse is not going into modeling legs. And this is where I take a break and reassemble myself, my emotions and my reality.
I had no intention of embarking on abstract so early in my stuffed animals career, but what choice do I have now? Certainly not throwing it all away or unravelling. Not after having washed the pieces. Even dirty, I would work with what I have. So we’ll see where this leads to. Oh, I know, smaller needle sizes next time. And a huge abstract mouse. Will see you at the other end of this monstrosity in a few days.
Usually during the summer months I switch to another craft and give sock knitting a rest, actually all knitting is hibernating during the summer months. The warmth transfers to my hands and the wool does not flow as easily. But it’s a different story with cotton yarn. And honestly, our house stays so cool that even with the door open so Arnold, our Covid dog, can go outside any time he wants, it doesn’t heat up. At its hottest, we might reach 76 in the house, that’s 76 Americans.
So I continue with my latest obsession of stuffed animals and their clothing. I like knitting baby clothes because they go much faster than a sweater for Stephen or perhaps a shawl. But believe me, knitting for a little stuffed toy is the ultimate in almost instant gratification.
Here is the mouse outfit in progress:
My obsession with these animals led me to a blog that has consumed me. The woman writing it creates fantastic patterns I fell in love with and so I bought a rabbit and a mole pattern. They also got me more interested in her blog itself: little cotton rabbits.
As I was roaming around it and reading a post here and there, I realized that she does not have an easy life: her son, now older, I think 20, is autistic. And though autism comes in many forms and shapes, her son is further along the spectrum than many others and does not have speech. As with any and everything I encounter that I don’t know enough about, I immersed myself. I hit the autism category on her blog and read all the posts related to her son. Perhaps that his name is Toby, our son’s name, is what struck me first.
Our lives change forever when we have kids. Mine certainly did. But if your kid is autistic, your life changes even more and for much longer. And though we might all worry a bit what happens to our kids once we die, it is elevated to another level with an autistic child. The blog has opened my eyes even further to what it means to parents of children with difficulties they need our help with. And I’m so grateful for that. I hate walking blindly through life and being oblivious to other’s struggles. Though I don’t know how to be an ally, I will expect myself to act compassionately and supportingly when I return back to the world and encounter someone with autism.
Someone once told me that we all have to bury the children we didn’t get and accept the ones we did. But a much nicer and more moving way of putting this is the following (I’m glad I don’t have to read this to you as I can’t read this aloud without tears):
WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.
There are times when I want to hurry to bed and sleep so I can wake up and do the stuff I want to do. You would think I’m at an age where I can do whatever, but the age comes with a body that doesn’t do all-nighters very well anymore. So a quick sleep is the best option for times where I want to do so much.
Such a night happened just recently. In fact, I woke up so early that I told Stephen it felt like we just had a conversation a few minutes ago.
Then there are mornings when I contemplate hibernating. That’s when I have another few sleeps before I get up. Often alternating between sleeps and reads.
I love the days I look forward to because I planned on a certain activity. Not the activities we regret the moment we make the commitment. But activities I can do at home, like knitting or crocheting, or sewing, or gardening….
My latest obsession is perfect: Amigurumi. Mostly crochet, slowly an object comes to life. It’s almost like playing god, but instead of clay or Adam’s rib, it’s yarn.
I’m not sure why I was never attracted to this art/craft before, but I must have reached a tipping point. Perhaps I’ll grow out of it and get my fill, for now though I can hardly finish a project before starting another one.
And that’s it, several projects lounging around waiting to be finished. This would be a good time in my life to give myself a little push. Who knows what I’m capable of. Never too late, is it as I’m looking at 3 projects that could use a finishing touch. Are there finishers in life I could pair up with? People who love finishing but not starting. Yes, I know: delusional. But one can hope, right?
Let me show you a few finished objects. First I started on a mouse-doll. As a toy I thought of all the possibilities of making clothes for it, combining crochet and sewing.
After the mouse which ended up a bigger project, I needed what I refer to as palate cleansers, little projects that don’t take days to make.
Cat toys stuffed with catnip were the answer. In the meantime I’ve made over 60 of them. Some batches went to the local animal shelter. Some went to Denver, and some are still looking for a home.
The bigger projects I need to get out of my system included a chicken:
Then I finally finished the rabbit that got it all started:
There are still unfinished stuffies here and there around the house. But I’ll wait to post about them when they actually make sense.
I’m still knitting socks in between, but for right now the focus is stuffed animals, or tacos….
What makes Wordle so addictive to me? It only happens once a day, and usually I can guess the answer within 6 tries. It becomes exciting when I can get the answer in 3 and at times even 2 tries. Never guessed the word from the start. That may be a big ask.
Stephen took advantage of this daily activity by sending me the New York Times mini crossword puzzles. And they’re growing on me. Though I refuse to tackle anything bigger than the mini ones. Of course when Stephen does the regular crosswords, I do try to supply answers to any german, french, cooking, or craft questions.
Facebook is pissing me off again. But for me it is the easiest platform to stay in touch with people. Post some recipes, updates on my private life I’m willing to share. Right now I would love to switch to this blog as a daily activity. We’ll see.
Medically, it has been up and down. Scared and relieved. So what were my potential kidney problems are ok. But kidney stones were discovered. Further tests will be done and possibly the destruction of these stones. Though I have to wonder: how long have I had them, and since they never bothered me should we leave well enough alone?
On the knitting front: I made huge progress with Stephen’s sweater right at the start. But since the best way to knit his sweater is by sitting at the table, I needed a break. My back starts hurting, and overall it gets uncomfortable.
I switched to finishing the socks that were staring at me daily and almost screaming out to finish them. Ok, Ok, I said and did just that.
While finishing those socks, other projects reared their ugly heads, projects I had been avoiding. Like the fuzzy feet slippers at Knitty. I needed to fix for Christy. They have been sitting around for a few years now. It is hard to fix felted slippers, as it turns out. Unraveling is not easy, as the yarn is stuck to itself. But i’m making progress. In another few years she’ll have her slippers back. She’s young and will get to enjoy them for another while. But full of guilt, I just knit her another pair. On the other hand, she likes the original colors, so eventually I’ll have to work this out.
What I did manage is to start 2 more pairs of socks. How does that happen? Probably the blight of every knitter. Here were two patterns and the yarn, what was I to do? How does one resist? And so easy to knit in any position without hurting the back or anything else.
Arnold the dog is not totally thrilled with me knitting. He tries to get his head between the knitting and me. He doesn’t understand what is going on. For now he’s squeezed next to me on the couch, keeping me warm. Yes, the heater could use some work, but i’m hoping to put it off until fall.
Let me share two recipes that immediately became favorites.
A bok choy with tofu recipe from the New York Times.
1 pound baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise through the core Kosher salt and black pepper 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package soft (not silken) tofu, drained and cut into 4 equal squares 6 tablespoons tahini ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar 1 teaspoon minced ginger ¼ teaspoon minced garlic ¼ cup chopped scallions (from about 1 scallion), plus more for garnish ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
In a large skillet with a lid, arrange bok choy in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the tofu pieces on top of or in between the bok choy, depending on the depth of your pan. Add ½ cup of water to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover securely to prevent steam from escaping, reduce heat to medium and steam until bok choy is tender and tofu is warm throughout, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk until well blended, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a spatula or large slotted spoon, transfer bok choy and tofu to 4 serving plates. (Discard any remaining water in the skillet.) Spoon some of the sauce over the tofu and garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve warm.
It used to be that I had bad days. As I get older these days draw out and it’s more like bad weeks. I’m in the middle of such a period right now.
The latest happened exactly two weeks ago when I reached into our cooler and ended up in agony on the floor with lower back spasms.
I know from experience that if I don’t break the spasm cycle I’ll be out for weeks. So instead of heading to San Francisco, we head to the hospital. A couple of shots later, I barely make it out to the car. For everyone who’s had that, you know. For the rest of you, light a candle to the higher being of your choice.
Self-medicated me then heads from San Jose to San Francisco, where we had arranged a house exchange for a few days.
If you saw a woman the next day bent over like a 110-year-old or someone who’d lost their contact lenses, walking toward Imagiknit, you guessed right, that was me. But it also was the last time you saw me on the streets of San Francisco. Though Imagiknit is only a few blocks away from our house exchange gig, I never made it back as I promised. Instead, I tested out the comfort of their couch. All 5 days.
As any knitter will know, I had along so many knitting projects and yarn, I could have stayed there the rest of the year. Also, it’s no fun knitting on your back. I have no idea how the time washed over me, mostly in a daze or asleep from the medication.
Totally in awe of myself, we somehow made it back home. And exactly two weeks after the cooler incident I’m still in pain, on heavy-duty doctor-approved pain medication and in my chair in front of the computer for the first time today.
You’re caught up. I wish we could catch up with our tomato abundance. At the time I took the photo I was delusional, thinking this was a lot of tomatoes. We have at least three times as much now, and they keep on ripening at a pace I can’t even walk at.
The tomato below is a deep purple-red, fleshy and exquisite.
When something happens, something unexpected, I usually find out that I’m not alone. Thanks to the interwebs I find my experiences duplicated over and over.
A few weeks ago a friend and I were chatting in our living room when we heard the strangest of noises. To be honest, neither of us had any idea what it was nor had ever heard such a sound before. We did eventually figure out it came from outside. And this is what we found:
It turns out that exploding patio tables are not all that rare. We’ve had this one long enough I don’t mind having to get a new one. In wood, please. Imagine sitting at the table eating when this happens.
In other news, I put in a drip system in the garden, probably contributing to the back issue. It would have been so much easier to do with starter plants, but always going for the hard way, I was digging around mature plants trying to find their stems and the right placing of the drip in 100-plus degree heat.
No pictures of knitting today? I finished a hitchhiker shawl made with Wollmeise yarn, ok, the ends need weaving in, but who’s looking right now. I finished a pair of socks, again, I have to close up the toes. There just might be 5 pairs of socks needing a similar finish. I feel the holidays starting to breathe down my neck.
This pony is also learning a new trick, toe-up socks. Got some Socks That Rock heavyweight yarn. The problem is that the pattern Spice Man from Yarnissima I’m using doesn’t accommodate the thick yarn. I’m making it up as I go. And I’ve reached a point of stuckness. I have no idea what the pattern is talking about. Where do I do the decreases? The solution is making another pair of socks in thin sock yarn and following exact directions so I can tell where the decrease happens. For sure not where I tried to put it. As my friend Meg says, there’s got to be someone out there who is contorted enough that it will fit. Meg, I don’t think that holds true. At least not with anyone I know.
Someone recently asked about a baby sock pattern. I just scale down my go-to sock pattern. I love the littleness and cuteness. And did I mention they are super-quick to make?!
Confession time. I got more fiber to spin. But I have a good excuse, really. I love Inglenook Fibers. And my first ever hand-spun hand-knit item left me a few yards short. Probably because I can’t spin exquisitely thin yarn yet. I’ve been looking for months to find a fiber that I could finish the cowl with and finally: success!
Time to get off this chair and into something more comfortable.
Yes, success is mine, almost. Of course I’ll weave in the ends and block. Yes, this year. I think.
I’m over the guilt joy of bringing back lots of yarn from Stitches West. There actually is less yarn and more clothing. Well, only if cowls qualify. Surprising myself, I started using Plucky Knitter yarn first. Not surprising myself, I made yet another Zuzu’s Petals cowl/shawlette. Eventually one might get tired of this pattern, though I don’t see why.
Reminder: this is neither blocked nor the ends woven in. A super-fast knit that uses very little yarn. Did I mention this is my fourth?!
Another easy and very fast knit was the Benton cowl. It was the yarn I could not keep my hands off that made me do it. The Miss Babs Sojourn: cashmere and silk. Yes, I know, expensive, but try keeping from knitting with it. That’s the sign of an exquisite yarn, one you have to transform into something wearable to keep on feeling it.
So what it’s not blocked or ends woven in either. Does not need blocking. The ends woven in? More so.
Other news on the yarn front? Yes. I would like to order three rounds of yarn from three different places. Resistance is futile? We’ll see.
I would like to make another shawl but have not found the pattern yet. Something stripy. With the plucky knitter yarn. I should have gotten more of one color. Don’t have enough for a large Derecho. Enough in yardage but not in the right colors. I could work around that issue, right?
I was in training for weeks to be ready to get up for my Stitches class. Why they start classes at 8:30 am is beyond me. But when the day arrived I was so excited I woke up voluntarily in time.
Most important lesson was learned yesterday, at home. Just because I learned how to do something does not mean I should. What was I thinking? With renewed enthusiasm after my Stitches Saami Mitten making class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, I tackled Liana’s Deathflake Mitten.
I started by unraveling what I had because I had learned about yarn dominance. Who would have ever guessed there is yarn dominance. Stranded knitting is knitting with two or more colors where you carry the yarn along in the back of your work. As you go back and forth between the colors one has to make a decision: place the yarn you are about to knit above or below the yarn you just knit with. Confused yet?
Guess which is the dominant yarn? The one that gets placed above the one you just knitted with? Guess again. Right, it is the yarn you carry from below. Since the yarn that goes above has a shorter distance to travel, it creates a smaller stitch. The other yarn from below creates a slightly bigger stitch, therefore becomes more dominant and visible in the pattern.
In the pattern of the Deathflake mitten I believe I’ll make the white the dominant yarn.
We also learned the braided cast on. With enthusiasm I incorporated that trick into my mitten. Since the mitten only asks for white and black yarn I picked another color, red, and knit away. Except, I don’t like it. In my usual fashion instead of immediately frogging, I’m knitting on. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. That I’ll get used to it? That it’ll start looking better? Right now the balance is out of whack. It hurts more to frog than looking at that braid. Until that balance changes I’ll keep on knitting.
Another trick I learned is a herringbone braid. Yes, I will also incorporate this into the mitten. Perhaps adding insult to injury will make it all right and balance out.
When learning to work with 3 stranded colors in a row, one really starts to appreciate 2 stranded knitting. The latter I found very difficult until the 3 stranded.
Mittens are mostly knit in the round. What helps in stranded knitting is turning the work inside out and knitting on the inside. That gives a better tension to the strand that is carried around the corner from one needle to the other.
Really, this was a most amazing and outstanding class. I never did get a mitten done, but I do have a picture to show you. This is a class picture of all the started mittens.
I’ll document here the rest of my purchases at Stitches. Starting where I left off yesterday, the rest of the Plucky Knitter loot.
Every knitter should have a ball of Kauni once in their life. This was my time and not surprisingly I picked the rainbow color. Not sure what to make with it yet. Though I’m a firm believer that if I buy it, the idea will come.
How beautiful this yarn knits up and I have photos to prove it.
As I am a knitting Mama, I could not neglect my knitting daughter. I sure wish the knitting bug would bite her like it did me. Then we could be a mother-daughter team at Stitches. To be an enabler I selected two skeins of heavy weight yarn. Unless otherwise instructed, this is what my daughter knits with right now.
What is left to show you is the fiber. A spinner needs to increase her fiber stash, don’t you think?
I had a very nice chat at Greenwood Fiberworks. What attracted me at first was the prominently placed fiber with bling. It was downhill for my credit card and me from there.
Waking up to the excitement of rain this morning. It will do little to help the horrible drought we’re in, but it is a drop or two in the bucket, and California will take every drop it can get. It did not keep us from taking a two mile walk, but we ended up soaking wet and were glad to get into a warm house.
In my future today is spinning. I started last night and could not get to sleep because I did not get enough spinning in. At the Foothill Fibers Guild Meeting last night Lisa Souza gave a presentation and we all succumbed to the fiber fumes she brought along and I ended up with two 4 ounce bundles of fiber made of 50/50 bombyx silk/fine merino in the colors petroglyph and water gardens. And here I was going to show restraint until Stitches. Really?!
As promised I will show you the Steve West shawl, but, and this is a huge but, there is no way I can take an appropriate picture in this rain or the dark house, so you’ll have to settle for an awful blocking picture. But even with the colorful distraction of the mats you might get the idea.
I just found out the Tibetan monks are in town for their yearly visit. One of their projects is a sand mandala they then destroy to show the transitory nature of material life. The last part of this sentence is plagiarized. I’m always in awe that these folks take so much time to create these exquisite paintings knowing they will not last.
Yesterday when I was contemplating destroying/unraveling the shawl I saw a similarity. Except I did not know beforehand I might destroy the shawl, and it took me way more time to knit this shawl than it takes the monks to do the mandala. And there would have been a totally different message in my destruction. So perhaps I’ll quit the comparison.
While I’m doing photos, let me show you a small shawl I made for my friend’s 96th birthday:
I will only show half of what I bought last night because one of the colors did not photograph well at all. That’s a shame because it is most unusual and my favorite one.
And that’s it for today. Some cooking and lots of spinning and Netflix waiting for me.
One more photo. Did I ever show you my Schacht Matchless? If I did, well, it’s well worth another look.