Knittin’ and Readin’ and Regerts

Today it is windy as all heck. All my chairs, all the barrels in the horse area, and everything else that isn’t tied down has blown to new and interesting locations. Lee and I had tried to put together a storage shed yesterday, and placed it against a wall, where we thought it would be safe. It took a little jaunt around the corner of the patio.

Nothing here is where it was yesterday except the lovely water trough.

Even worse, the wind blew the satellite dish around so we can’t even watch something on television. But Lee says it’s a good opportunity to get the dish moved and bring in wiring to let me have a television in my office/den for when I want to cocoon. No complaints about that!

This is the LAST day I wanted to be trapped inside. It is my annual Day of Regrets (or “regerts” as the apocryphal tattoo someone got said), where I mourn the loss of my older son on his birthday. He’s 31. Happy birthday to a person I still love.

Distraction from regrets: These barrels blew about 50 feet. They are not light.

Obviously, I need to have stuff to do to keep my mind busy, but I sure as heck am not going out there to mess with horses. I did go out and stand in the shelter with them and provide some love, even to Mabel, who stood with me for five minutes! And, of course, the chickens are taken care of. I just don’t want to linger.

So, this morning I got out my hair toner stuff to make my white ends more silvery. And you know I was bored, because I took pictures of the entire process using Snap Chat filters. The good news is that the bit of longer hair in front that was somewhat discolored now looks beautiful, and the dark part sparkles.

Well, that wasted a whole half hour or so. I needed more distraction. I decided to find something to knit. What I truly want to work on is some unspun beautiful Icelandic yarn my friend Mike brought me from Iceland (duh). It’s all natural sheep colored and everything. But, I do not need a sweater. So, I spent an hour looking through Ravelry for ideas, then gave up. I think I have an idea now, which I can do next. Stay tuned.

I decided to make something with two beautiful yarns that were hiding in my closet, instead. They are a gorgeous wool/silk hand-painted yarn in coral tones and a natural-colored baby llama yarn. Baby llamas! Crias! They are so cute. And their first haircuts lead to dreamy softness.

So, what to make with those? That was easier, because I am making my favorite plain striped shawl that I have made before using Noro Silk Garden (it’s a hand-painted Japanese silk/wool blend all the knitters will know). I got a slightly different version off Ravelry and started going.

So, far, not so great.

It will look better when it’s farther along and the Freia starts changing colors. Who cares what it looks like, anyway, because it feels so good on my hands, which have been hurting lately. I can look forward to finishing this quickly and sitting by the pool wearing it (keeping it away from dogs). Speaking of whom, of course they are always with me when I’m doing my projects.

The rest of the day of super-confinement will be spent reading my wonderful book, listening to music, and making a nice dinner for my sickly family and Lee. (And not rearranging the holiday closet; sorry, that brings up regerts.) Please continue to keep our ranch residents in your thoughts! The COVID is hard on them.

Celebration, a Little

I haven’t been going on about blogging achievements much (mainly because the blog is mostly for me…more on that soon), BUT, I am happy to see that I now have 800 WordPress followers! That combined with the 1500 or so people who get the blog by email, means somebody’s out there! So, thank you for reading, however you receive the blog, and that goes for you Facebook fans of the Hermits’ Rest, too!

I’m aware some followers aren’t actually people. But I appreciate the real people a lot.

I appreciate your comments more than I can express, whether here, on Facebook, or in person. I am always surprised when someone brings up reading this blog as I’m talking to them. I’d love to follow YOU, too! I need stuff to read when the wind is raging and I’m trying to block out my regrets/regerts!

Yes, You Can Mix Knitting and Crochet

Now, if you are a fan of Franklin Habit, you’ll know this. But in case you’ve never heard of such a thing, it is perfectly acceptable to mix in a bit of crochet with your knitting or vice versa. See I did it. And yes, I can crochet.

Completed baby blanket

I just didn’t feel like doing that jumpy edging that was on the previous blanket, though there was nothing wrong with it. So, I got out my handy size F crochet hook and started going.

I ended up doing a row of single crochet where I did a stitch for every knitted row, approximately. That was followed by four rows of 3 double crochet, skip 2 stitches, 3 double crochet, etc. In the corners I did 3 dc, ch1, 3 dc. It worked fine.

It’s pretty darned cozy, even if the colors might keep you awake.

The blanket looks pretty good on the reverse, thanks to being constructed all in one piece, and I think a baby would like to crawl on it. I do need to block it to get all the borders to ease into position and stand up straight, which I’ll do as soon as I can figure out somewhere to let it dry. Dogs make that hard. It was good that the previous one of these blankets (that’s the pattern link for those of you about to ask) was finished when I was alone in Colorado with a spare bedroom.

The central vortex on this thing could make you dizzy.

Currently, all bedrooms are taken, one being the COVID ward and the other being the people who have been exposed and are looking for a test ward. No need to mention that pandemics suck. But, I said it, anyway.

You didn’t think I could crochet? Look, I made a large doily in the 1980s in the trendy color of brown. It WAS trendy.

I don’t know what to work on next! I know I need to use up the yarn I have, as tempting as new yarn may be. I may make a vest, since they are back in fashion, and I am larger than most of my old vests. I do like vests.

Why look, I am wearing a vest today. I didn’t make it. I also didn’t make the necklace, but it’s handmade.

Let’s Knit Stuff

Knitting has always been my go-to centering activity (after actually meditating, of course). I’ve been knitting up a storm the past month or two, which explains the lack of book report posts! I’ve finished one thing and almost finished another one this week. Let’s see.

The secret project I was working on just before Christmas was a dish towel in cotton yarn for Anita’s new house. I tried to make it approximately the right colors, given the options that I have (one ball each of many shades of Dishie, which is a cotton dishcloth yarn from Knitpicks). It turns out a dish towel takes a bit more than one skein, so I added a second color to it. The pattern is called Dixie’s Dish Towel Recipe (don’t blame the messenger; Dixie was the person’s name). I like it, because you can improvise different knitting patterns in it, though I liked her original ones just fine.

I am pretty sure I messed up something toward the end, but hey, it still looks like a dish towel. I like the kind with buttons that will hang from your cabinet and not fall down all the time, so I’ll probably make myself a couple of these. The only one I have was one someone sewed, and it’s getting really old.

Neither of the photos here show the color of green the yarn actually appears to be to my eyes. It’s a nice, soft sage.

One reason I was so disappointed in Christmas was that I had knitted on that darned cotton yarn for three days to get the dish towel done in time, only to have Anita be unable to join us. But, I stuck it in with her mail, so she got it when she dropped by to visit her house in Cameron.

The other project I have been working on is another one of those six-sided baby blankets. I really like doing those. This one is for a baby due in March, so I made that deadline with no trouble! This pattern takes just a wee bit more than two skeins of yarn, so I had to borrow a bit of yellow to finish out one set of stripes, but it’s right where yellow would have started anyway. The other skein had enough. That’s either because skein lengths are just approximate, or the first ball was used for more of the longer rows. Who knows?

I am not sure if these are what folks would call “baby colors,” but I think they do look sort of Western or cowboy-like, so it should go over fine in the family who’s getting it. I am going to do the border in the happy yellow color.

I’m not sure what’s next. I do know that you could easily make a Christmas Tree skirt from the six-sided pattern by just using happy holiday colors and maybe some shiny yarn for the stripes and binding off at the end rather than joining into a hexagon. Maybe I will do that.

I hope you have something fun to pass the time when you need to keep your hands and mind busy. I am quite glad I’m back to work, myself, because it’s really good to think about work problems instead of my own crap.

Empathy for Those in Chronic Pain

It’s been a rather painful couple of weeks for me. Since my ungraceful exit off Apache, I’ve been healing in some ways and getting worse in others. What does an “older” person expect, anyway?

Yesterday’s sunset, to remind me that I am in my sunset years.

The funniest injury I found turned up when I was getting my hair cut. Dan put me under the sink and started scrubbing away at my dirty hair, when I said, “Hey, that hurts!” Apparently, I had hurt the top of my head during the fall. I would assume that the helmet squished down on me. It’s odd that I hadn’t noticed it, but then, I don’t brush my hair often.

But, it sure is a cute haircut.

My back is also not as happy as it was at first. I feel all right in my recliner and in bed but sitting up and standing aren’t great. Sitting up in a desk chair is no fun at all, so I made myself some lumbar support. I think it is just going to have to heal, or I am going to have to go to the local chiropractor. At least I have insurance that covers it!

The worst has been my pelvic area. That bruise was bad news, and it went deep. I got swollen so much that some of my pants felt tight, and I could feel hard lumps under my protective layer of belly fat. It just hurt, that’s all, and going up stairs was always a reminder that I’d fallen. I still feel it a bit, which makes me glad I was too busy working to go to the Christmas Parade with Lee yesterday (he was helping the Chamber of Commerce). The lifting and toting would not have been a great idea.

Autumn is such a nice time for tree photos. Plus, this is much nicer than a photo of my bruises.

I think the bruising, congestion, and pain are improving. The lumps are smaller. We will see if I am able to get on a horse tomorrow. At least the mounting block at the trainer’s place is taller than mine. I probably shouldn’t have gotten the bare bones model.

Whenever I get a temporary pain it makes me think about people who don’t have the option of healing and have to live with chronic pain. I am so grumpy when I hurt, which doesn’t make me fun to live or work with! I hope I get better at dealing with chronic pain, since my guess is I’ll end up with some sooner or later as I continue my march toward deepest crone-hood.

Fiona’s with me on my march. This is on our walk yesterday.

But, as for today, I’ll take a nice, gentle walk with my horse and donkey, like I’ve been doing all week, and get back to the knitting. The latest striped blanket is coming out different, but just as interesting as the last one.

Perhaps that background blanket is not the best choice.

I’m wishing you all a good weekend. It may cool off, but I’m all prepared after getting some key items in Colorado. Ooh, and I booked another trip there in late summer of next year. Hiking here I come!

Square Simplicity

It was suggested that I make a giant Grandma’s Favorite dishcloth pattern as a baby blanket. It’s also been suggested that babies no longer use blankets. So, it is also a “tummy time mat” or whatever modern babies use.

It’s not plain and boring.

I had two balls of this nice, soft baby yarn, Sridar Snuggly Pattercake, in two different pastel color ways. I used the same stripe sequence as with my hexagonal blanket I just finished.

The colors lined up similarly, but it ended up looking nice, I think. It’s certainly soft and snuggly. And it can be washed by machine if soiled by normal baby activities.

This will go to one of three upcoming little ones in my friend and family circle. I like making baby things, because I can give them away! That makes less yarn in my soon-to-be-bursting yarn room.

Speaking of not bursting, my closet is less stuffed today, since I packed up 6 large bags of clothing (size small and medium mostly) and a bag of shoes this morning. Maybe I’ll have room for the remaining clothes and shoes that got moved here. The purge has begun!

It’s Penney’s turn.

Rainy days off are good for something after all. And since it’s chilly, there are more dog snuggles.

Hexagonal Rainbow Stripy Glory

Hooray! My mistaken “invention” is finished! It’s perky, trippy, stripy, and glorious. If I were a baby, I’d want it for my floor mat, and I’d want to gum those wormy fringes.

It’s different, all right.

I had so much fun watching the stripes develop. And the fringe cracked me up. It makes the blanket a little feminine but won’t hurt babies.

It’s easy, too.

How to Make It

Intermediate and above knitters will want to know how to make one of these, so here we go, informally. Beginners, make the actual pattern! It’s easy.

Lion Brand Mandala in Gnome and Sprite with a little Honeycake.
from the Lion Brand site.

The basic pattern is NOT by me. It is an adaptation of Meadowland Baby Blanket by  Irina Poludnenko. (It’ a free download.) The pattern is supposed to create a square blanket, and if you follow the instructions correctly and pay attention to the diagram of how to make the triangles link up, you will, indeed, get a square blanket, just like the one on the pattern front page. Lots of people have made it, and it comes out quite cute.

However, I made a mistake after finishing the first triangle and picked up the stitches for the second triangle along the edge with the decreases, not the straight edge. If you look at the close-up above, you can see that I picked up the 96 stitches along the edge with a little jog in it (where the decreases that create the triangles are). So, you do this, too.

Other than that, follow the Meadowland pattern, but don’t stop after four triangular wedges (because it will NOT be a square). Keep going and make one more.

It really adds that pop of color to one’s bland timeshare condo.

For the sixth section of the blanket, you’ll attach the new triangular wedge to the first one as you go. To do this, end each right-side row with K2tog, knit next stitch together with the next cast-on bump from the first triangle. There will be 96 of them, and since there are 96 garter ridges in the triangle, you’ll end up having invisibly seamed the blanket. (In the close-up photo, the blue stripe was where I cast on, and the pink stripes are the last triangle.

You could also just knit the last wedge the same as the others and use mattress stitch to sew the edges together.

When you’re done, work the same edge as the Meadowland pattern calls for, or any other edging you’d like, such as single crochet.

Note that the two extra wedges meant I needed to start a third ball of yarn. If Sprite had been available, I’d have used it, but I used another color instead.

There you go, how to make a hexagonal blanket from a square pattern. If you read this and know a better way to describe the way I finished the last wedge of the blanket, let me know.

Sunset and Dining in the Rockies

I ended up spending the entire day yesterday with my patient friend, Cathy. I crammed a week’s worth of fun into that one day! I also crammed more than a week’s worth of exercise points in, but I feel absolutely fine in the leg department today, so my hiking boots must have done their job.

Fire on the mountain, but not a wildfire.

We left off in yesterday’s post after lunch. We went to check out the outlet mall, because Cathy hinted that it doesn’t suck. And that’s right, it doesn’t. The first place we went was not an outlet store, but a little jewel of a co-op gallery of art by local artisans. There was beautiful mosaic art and a lot of photographs, some by a photographer Cathy really likes.

Photo taken right near Cathy’s house. It was hard to photograph, because it’s shiny.

Imagine her happiness to find out that Stephen Johnson was working in the store that day! She found out he lives in her neighborhood, and they shared stories of seeing moose and other wildlife nearby. I enjoyed his stories very much and got some images of his photos. This is my favorite, partly because of the story of the pregnant cow moose, who he sees every year with her babies.

Look at her jump!

That was fun, as was finding a few items at the Columbia outlet that may help me ride Apache more in the winter. I got a head covering thing that would fit under my helmet, and a warm reflective shirt. We’ll see!

Then we adventured out to find some cool green hiking boots Cathy wanted to get from Facebook Marketplace. She loves Facebook marketplace. I have to say they are pretty darned cool boots.

Ignore Chalkdust, the extremely lovely husky/shepherd mix, and look at the shoes.

After heading back to my house to change and get my knitting, we went back to Cathy’s. I feel bad for how many times I caused her to drive back and forth from Dillon to Breckenridge! She baked some brownies and I knitted, then we went for a sunset walk, which she does most days. You know, I hadn’t walked enough yet. Cathy needed to, because as she admits, she is a jock.

Sunset from their house.

It got colder and colder as we walked, but it was fine. We got to see some clouds and sun and mountains, which made it worth it. And, oh yes, I got to look at all the houses in the neighborhood, which are rustic and have interesting garage doors and other exterior details. Of course, I peeked inside when I could, too. There were some fine light fixtures.

When we got back, there was a special treat! Cathy’s friend, Sarah, had invited us to have a girls’ night fajita dinner. I was happy, because I’d enjoyed talking to her earlier, plus I would get to meet two more women. So, off we went.

This is Violet, a husky. I took pictures of the dogs, not the people.

Everyone had fun getting to know each other and eating. Sara’s new neighbor across the street was really subtle in her humor, so I enjoyed her a lot. And the other guest is an artist and was making a beautiful butterfly installation for the place where she works in Breck.

I spent a great deal of time asking Sara where all her art and textiles came from. Her mother had a business selling Native American jewelry, so she had traded for some nice stuff, plus she had Peruvian tapestries, too. Drool.

It turns out Sarah teaches Pysanky eggs at the art center, so I got to see some of them. I would love to learn that technique to do with some of my eggs. Thank goodness Cathy took a picture, to prove there were people at dinner.

I’m asking endless questions about the eggs. They are so intricate.

In addition to meeting so many fascinating women today, I believe I had my biggest exercise day since back when I’d hike with my older son on holidays. I still can’t believe I feel so good…well, other than my digestion telling me I ate too much rich food. Today may be a recovery day, though I intend to get in the right amount of walking in (after football).

My exercise goal is 30 minutes, and I have a hard time getting it at home. Not here. Thanks, altitude!

Under the Weather in Chilly Weather

I have no idea why, but I felt awful today. I was sleepy, fuzzy headed, and stuffy. It made being all brilliant and with-it difficult. Of course, times being as they are, I was sure I had a coronavirus. I took a nap and all that, and got through the day, which was long, long, long.

At least I had a winter wonderland to watch all day. Many flurries.

You know how some days all kinds of issues come up all at the same time? So I was trying to figure out a new part of the software I document, right when someone else really wanted me to edit something right that minute, and I was scheduled to try to figure out how to get Lee verified as my spouse so he can be on my insurance. With my fuzzy head, none of that was working, when the phone rang, and it was my old professor. I got scared he was sick, so I answered it, and he was like, “Hey, are you OK?” I said I’d call back when I was less unhinged.

Cute little flakes

Nonetheless, I actually managed to solve all the problems once I stopped going around and around in my head. Go Suna. I learned the software thing, found my marriage license online, had a great talk with my former coworker about our work stuff, and had a lovely talk with my former professor. It’s all okay. I even have energy to send to friends and family dealing with their own stuff.

The best news is that the yarn came to finish Ellie’s baby blanket, and I think it’s going to work out. I’m even finishing it as I go, since the darning needle I thought I ordered did not show up.

Pool equipment came!

In the meantime, I’m just striping it up like crazy and making a square baby blanket. At least I am sure it will be blanket sized and will go with the other one. It’s in softer yarn, too, Sridar Snuggly. Too bad I’m so wiped out from a very long (but good) Master Naturalist meeting, so not much knitting will occur.

But hey, snow, yarn, online conversations, phone calls. I may have been stuck in the condo all day typing or interacting, but it is a fine life, with ups, downs, and cute little animals to cheer me up.

Knitting Report: Regrouping and Planning

I spent a lot of time knitting for the past couple of days, as well as talking about knitting while my friend Kathy was here. It’s really a rare treat to have someone around who is an expert knitter to bounce ideas off and get input from. For much of my life I was surrounded by knitters and up on all the latest cool patterns, etc., but for the past decade or more I’ve been more of a lone knitter, just watching what friends do but not interacting much.

I like my replenished fresh flowers, so I will make you look at them. The prices here for fresh flowers are not bad at all!

Having Kathy around to look at the “square” blanket I was knitting for baby Ruby was helpful. I felt a bit better about not understanding why it did not in any way, shape, or form make a square. I MUST have misread the diagram, picked up on the wrong sides of the triangles, or something, but I’m still not sure what I did.

Well, it looks kind of cool. it is not a square.

Kathy was a fan of ripping it out and starting again. I think if the baby wasn’t coming sooner and if I hadn’t really disliked knitting with that particular yarn, I might have done so. Her next suggestion was to just add another wedge to it, and see what that does. I think she had a good idea. I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn for another wedge, and if it curves around a little more, it could be a little baby wrapper, or maybe when she’s older a “hug” she can wrap around herself. That makes me feel better.

We also talked about what pattern to make with the new yarn I ordered to make another blanket. I think I’ll make it a diagonal stripe, alternating colors, as with the failed blanket.

While the “square” blanket was in time-out, I worked on this other project, which is Saroyan, in a corn and cotton yarn. This is odd. Both pictures look upside down here, though they look the other way in the files list. Anyway, I got a bit more than halfway through it (knit all the straight parts) before running out of yarn. Oops. I should have brought along another skein. The cotton/corn blend is a little weird to knit with, but it’s sorta pretty, I think, and at least it’s coming out right.

While I was out shopping with Kathy, I also got a cute embroidery pattern that’s easy, but I like what it says, which is “Notice the small things.” I may work on it tomorrow while I watch football.

I do have other yarn waiting to be worked with, and we talked about a really pretty wrap that Kathy had made before. If I get the embroidery done before my other yarn arrives, I’ll give it a start. So, that’s my exciting knitting update, which took way longer than expected, thanks to realizing I needed to update my Ravelry page.

Patiently waiting yarn for the next project, along with the book queue.

Good thing the time changes tonight!

Happy Reunion

Today’s highlight was a visit from a high school friend, Kathy Herzog Evans. I’m so glad these interesting people keep reappearing in my life! It was so kind of her to drive over to see me from where she lives.

We are laughing because the sun was blinding us.

We had a great time catching up on the past 45 years and finding out all we have in common. We knew we were both knitters, but many other things popped up, like being too fond of jewelry and cowboy boots.

And we love mountains.

We wandered through parts of Breckenridge that I hadn’t seen before and neither had Kathy. We found an artist area, the county courthouse and many more old houses.

Some shopping also occurred.

We looked at art, too.

We had a good meal at, of all things, a barbecue place. It was up to Texas standards, though! And the old fashioned made from local bourbon was heavenly.

Our waiter was a spitting image of Mandi’s son, Matthew. He even talked like him. I enjoyed making him talk. Plus, he took our picture and was patient with our knitting and chatting.

We came back and talked and knitted for four hours. It was a real pleasure sharing experiences and thoughts with Kathy. What a good day!

Restaurant ceiling.
Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

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