The Big Blue Shawl Update

I started this shawl when I ran out of yarn for my other project, yarn which is still not here yet, thanks to a combination of me messing up the order and the weather. Who knows if I will EVER get it? The last tracking update was February 13…

So, I kept going on this mostly stockinette pattern, but adding little bits of lattice patterns in it. I added a swath near the edge of the shawl, as well as at the bottom of the triangle. I’m not sure what it will look at when I’m finished, but it was fun to do, at least!

Lumpy main body of the shawl. I can’t stretch it out, because it’s much longer than my knitting needles.

When I realized that the shawl edge was longer than my arm-span, I figured it was about as long as it ought to be, so last night I looked around for a border to put on the edge, as a bind-off. All my books are in Austin, but I found a pattern online on a fun site for free vintage patterns. It’s not too easy and not too hard!

End of shawl without a border.

I got through two repeats yesterday, so it will go pretty quickly. The instructions are a bit old-fashioned, but I figured them out.

Here’s what I’m trying to make as a knitted-on border

Confused about knitted-on borders? Well, they are lace patterns knitted back and forth over a fairly short repeat, like you see above. You can use them to bind off a project by knitting to the end of a wrong-side row of your project then casting on the right number of stitches for the border and following the pattern. The straight edge (top above) connects to the main project (my shawl, for example) by knitting the last stitch of the border together with the next stitch in the main piece of the project, then, turn and go back out. So for every two pattern rows, you have one fewer stitch on the main needle.

There is a little gap between the border stitches and the main shawl stitches. At the end of this row, I’ll knit the two stitches on either side of the gap together, turn, slip that stitch without knitting, and knit back out to the edge.

It is a fun way to end a shawl, scarf, sweater, or any project you want a nice, flowing edge to. Speaking of fun, guess who had fun romping with me, Lee and all the other dogs yesterday? Vlassic! He was so happy it got warmer and he could escape the RV for a while!

He had just licked me on my face.

Coping with Chaos!

In my bullet journal this morning is an entry saying:

Blog without whining

Suna

All right then. Today Lee and I are camping in the bedroom, where it is warm. Penney has discovered the space heater and has freed up Lee’s lap.

Happy dog, and coffee station.

Meanwhile, Carlton is under my layers of blankets and knitting. Oddly enough, I haven’t knitted much, due to checking in on people who have things much worse than I do. We certainly can’t go anywhere, as we now have a pretty layer of ice!

Carlton and shawl project, with Harvey butt.

I’m grateful to helpers today! Kathleen’s cows got more hay, and I have no idea how they got it there, unless they did it last night. And Ralph is heroically caring for the horses. He deserves a medal. I will eventually creep over to the chickens with warm water and food. I’m hoping they are still there.

Still, we cope.

Anita and Kathleen are both still without power. I’m grateful for Anita’s gas fireplace and Kathleen’s endless supply of candles.

Meanwhile, one of my coworkers has come down with gall bladder symptoms. For gosh sake! They already have no power and certainly can’t drive to a doctor. Another colleague had water coming through her entryway light fixture, and we ALL know water and electricity don’t mix! And, word just came in that an Austin neighbor has water pouring into their garage. No whining! At least it’s the garage and not inside!

Cameron residents don’t have to worry about water pipes bursting at the moment, since the water is off. Too many water lines burst. I’m just hoping my poor sister muddles through, since we can’t get to her! I appreciate all the news my friend Lynn sends, since she gets all the alerts.

And newsflash! Pamela reports no mail because no mail trucks have arrived in days. Lee says they also have computer trouble. At least the weather has downplayed that potential conspiracy theory generator.

Once again, though, I’m impressed with how people are supporting each other and staying in touch. My friends and family are being so kind and caring about sending me news! Now I gotta go check in on more folks.

Take care! We’re coping!

Knitting on Hold Due to Online Shopping Fail

Darn me. I thought I had ordered more yarn for the table runner I’m making for Lee, then wondered why it had not arrived. Sigh. The website I used had such a long and convoluted ordering process that I missed one last “finalize order” button on the bottom of a screen, because the text was so long that the button required scrolling to see. Let me just say, “Grr.”

It’s looking pretty, though, other than my ugly decreases (for which I blame the yarn texture, not my sterling technique.

So, I now have a 28-inch long piece of knitted fabric and no more yarn. The purchase HAS hit my credit card, so now I’ll just wait until next week for the rest to show up. The good news is that Lee wants the runner to be 50 inches, so the two more skeins I ordered should be enough, but not too much. That makes me happy!

Half of a table runner.

I made a mistake in the last light brown section, but it’s not bad enough to rip out. With all that crazy color and texture, who’s gonna look that hard at it, once it’s on the stereo cabinet? It just shows I’m human!

Once again, I am really glad to have a backup project! The blue shawl will get longer today, though I must admit categorizing all my Bioblitz photos takes away from my knitting time.

Still Blitzing

No one I know actually logs ALL the hours they spend on iNaturalist. For me, the time just melts away as I try to figure out what kind of plant or animal I’ve seen. Yesterday I even got a couple of bird photos, nasty, blurry ones, but yay! I actually love this one, which really doesn’t show the bird species, but looks artsy.

Mystery bird.

And I got these beautiful closeups of henbit, the omnipresent wildflower of February.

And here, I just had to take a photo of the entrance to the driveway that leads to the cabin and barns. It’s pretty to me.

Very Texas-y.

How’s your weekend going? I hope better than this dead hunk of fish I found. Yep, a good place to stop blogging.

I don’t think there’s enough of this to identify on iNaturalist, but the fish does have cool teeth. At the top is a fin.

Sometimes Bland Knitting is a Friend

Most of my life, I’ve done a lot of fancy knitting. But, lately, with all the other things weighing on my mind, simple stuff has been better. The past few things I’ve made would show that (I’ll share at the bottom of this post). I have found that simple, comfort knitting is a great thing to add to my coping with crisis mode toolbox.

(What else is in the toolbox you ask? Well, if you look in the comments of yesterday’s post, you’ll find some great suggestions by a fellow blogger, Julia, that include what I do: healthy snacks, exercise, get out in the light, enjoy cute animals, good music, etc.)

So, since I inadvertently left my current project AND the shawl I was going to finish off at the ranch, I started the little blue shawl I mentioned on Tuesday. Only, it’s not so little anymore. Apparently, my fingers have needed to knit, and my mind has needed to concentrate just a little on something pleasant to give itself a rest.

It has grown so much that I need to get longer needles when I get back to the ranch. This makes it look like a mushroom or a hat.

I’ve knitted up a storm each evening, while watching bland television shows, mostly about cute little animals on Animal Planet Wild. To take your mind off current events, a little Dr. Pol works wonders.

You can see the start of the lace pattern, which gets bigger and bigger as the shawl grows.

I felt confident enough to add some spice to the shawl, so have have thrown in some lattice lace. Yes, it’s making holes, but no, I don’t have to look at a pattern to do it. I just add one yarn over and decrease to each side, which is easy to spot the right place to do. I’m experienced enough to do a left-leaning decrease on the right side of the shawl, and vice versa.

For the tree readers who understood the previous paragraph, here are some ugly decreases.

The decreases aren’t all that attractive, but this thing is mostly wool and will block out. Since I’m not using lace-weight or floofy mohair yarn, it’s not exactly a traditional shawl anyway. It’s gonna be warm for whoever ends up wearing it.

Anita dared me to put a picture of my evening ensemble, in which I actually went out to walk the dog, and ran into a bunch of neighbors. I was obviously feeling like I looked.

If I didn’t have to lead a meeting at the happy hour of 8 am, I’d still be asleep now, because that felt good last night. I’m feeling well enough to send out some strength to my lovely family, my dear friends, and all of you who are facing challenges and keeping going!

Oh yeah, here are the two bland projects I made the last couple of years. One is a rectangle. Zzz.

So Much Annoyance, You Just Gotta Laugh

Geez, folks, this week I’m being tested for something. Perhaps it’s, “Can Suna find humor in everything?” “Is there a reason to smile hiding in any annoyance?” I hope I pass the exam, because I’m really trying to find humor and beauty, but today has, basically, sucked.

Nature’s always there to rescue me and remind me there’s good out there. So, here ya go, it’s the bloom off my mother-in-law’s tongue plant. How delicate and wondrous that is. Getting a houseplant to bloom has to make you smile (for pictures of it when it was budding, check out my very long houseplant post).

And, my daily commute (yay, I have the all-clear to go to the office) started and ended with one of my favorite sounds, cedar waxwings in large flocks. They flew over, but none were close enough to to photograph. I just love those whistles they make.

In between the commutes was a very frustrating work day, in which all my hardware components decided they were tired of functioning normally. My monitors did a devlish dance that was hard for me to believe. The really nice IT dude drove over (most people work from home) to try to help, which resulted in one monitor ceasing to let itself be found, my new keyboard and mouse stopped working, and my dock gave up the ghost. Well, shoot. I have not yet found the humor in that situation…it just happens when you rely on technology for your job!

Look, there’s a second bloom stalk hiding back there!

So, I ended up having to do delicate meetings on the phone. I started pacing, which apparently made everyone else on the call nauseated. It did give my boss something to laugh about, so there, a good thing came out of it. We were doing meetings that were not fun for us, so there was more than the usual amount of gentle ribbing, photos of dogs, and other distractions. See, not all bad. And I was pivoting, like a good Agile worker.

I got home and was reminded of the other thing that had me annoyed, from yesterday. I left my dang knitting project over at the Hermits’ Rest house. Having gone through a bunch of minor annoyances yesterday, I really wanted to knit, so I ran all over the Bobcat Lair house until I found a yarn I’d bought years ago back when I had knitting friends and went to the Kid ‘n Ewe festival.

Who needs a pattern when the yarn is so lovely, right<

I decided to just start out with a plain triangular shawl, with a classy tabbed start. I’m going to throw in some simple lace later, now that I realize that the blues and purples aren’t too distracting. The yarn is hand dyed from a Texas dyer that’s no longer in business, but I like how it has a matte thread and a shiny thread plied together. So, that’s one more annoyance I was able to laugh at.


Hey, thanks for the nice words and comments on my previous post. I have some really great readers. And by the way, you can always go read blogs on WordPress if you want to cheer up. There’s so much beauty, and at least a river isn’t flooding my back yard (garden) like poor @knittingjane of Woolly Wednesday. Go read a blog! And take care!

Knitting Progress and a Memory

Someone surprised me by asking how my knitting project was coming along. Sure, I’ll share.

Knitting plus ever-present lap dog.

I’m close to getting through two repeats of the lace pattern. I’m also awfully close to finishing the first skein of yarn, which means this will be more of a mat than a table runner. So, I’m going to see if there happens to be any of that yarn out there in the world. Who knows?

Pattern up close.

The black part of the yarn makes the lace pattern not show up as well, but that’s a risk I took by not doing this in a solid color. I’m not a perfect decreaser but I’ll smooth some of them out later.

Dark Lace

Just because a yarn is dark doesn’t mean you can’t make a lace project out of it. One of my favorite shawls is this beautiful one made from natural black sheepswool from American Shetland sheep. The shawl was made in 2010 and still looks new. No evil moths have attacked it.

Hey, that hunk of quartz makes a nice shawl display.

The style is Faroese, a traditional British Isles style. The way the center pattern and border intersect is so elegant.

Fun lace. Simple beauty.

The wool is spun a little scratchy, but that makes it stay on your shoulders and drape beautifully. I had Lee take a few pictures of me wearing it, since Ravelry only had pictures of the shawl alone.

It’s very light, but warm. I’m so glad the dogs are old enough that I can wear shawls again. Anyway, dark lace can be lovely.

Those of you wanting to make one can go to my Ravelry page for the project, which lists the source, yarn, and other details. Gosh, I still remember the day I bought the yarn and how helpful the shop owner was. We both kept patting the beautiful wool.

All the details!

Memories. I do have something percolating in my head to write more seriously about, so I’ll be back later. Now I must go on an adventure!

Check Your Gauge, the Knitting Mantra

Pretty much any knitting pattern that is not an amorphous blob is supposed to come out a certain size. To do that, you have to knit a certain number of stitches per inch or four centimeters. You frequently see this (with the capital letters):

TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE!

That means, don’t knit an entire sweater, only to discover it’s a baby sweater, not one for you, or vice versa. Knitting a little square in the pattern used in the item and measuring your stitches will help you make something come out like you wanted it to.

But, do people do that? Well, professionals usually do. Regular people just say, “What the heck,” and use the size of needles called for in the pattern and some yarn they figure is close to the one called for in the pattern (which is, quite often, no longer available).

What do I do? I immediately go two sizes of needles smaller than what’s called for, knowing that I knit loosely, and I try to use a yarn of the same weight as the one called for in the pattern. That often works. And it’s fine for a shawl, afghan, or other item that doesn’t need to be an exact size.

My latest project uses a simple lace pattern called Montague, by Berroco, which calls for a Linen blend worsted weight yarn (the original yarn is no longer available!). I’m using a 100% wool worsted weight yarn with a thick-and-thin texture, Noro Kureopatora (New). It’s for a table runner in Lee’s office. I started off using the size needle in the smaller range for the yarn, a 6. I knitted an inch or so, and Lee asked, “Doesn’t that seem a bit big?”

It does sorta look like a snake

Argh. Well, I hadn’t gotten too far, and it did show how nicely the seed stitch border will look. I frogged it (ripped it out), and re-started on two sizes smaller needles, size 4, which I should have done in the first place.

It came out significantly less wide, and most important, will fit on the piece of furniture it’s destined to rest on.

It’s still not 22 inches, as the instructions call for, but that’s okay. I just needed it to be more narrow than the stereo cabinet it will decorate. Now I can happily knit away.

Lesson? I should have checked my gauge!

It looks like delicious ice cream flavors.

The above picture is the entire border. Next is the lace pattern, which will require a bit of concentration. I got the first row established on my lunch hour, though, so I can work on it this evening after work.

Speaking of work, it is very hard to concentrate on it, because there is a pair of phoebes outside flitting around, catching bugs, and chasing each other. They are such beautiful birds. And with two of them, they are just like their call, “Phoebe! Phoebe!”

The screen makes it hard to see, but there’s a second bird farther along the fence.

That’s from yesterday. Today it’s raining again. Great news!

Have a good Tuesday. Those of you who pray, let’s pray for an uneventful day tomorrow. That’s where what spare energy I have is going!

Shawl for Comfort for Me and Recipient

Sometimes you can give and receive comfort at the same time. I showed you the beginning of my Transition shawl last week. I finished it this afternoon. Here’s the link to the project on Ravelry, if you want details.

Cozy Transition shawl, on top of my previous afghan using the same yarn.

Since I was making the pattern up based on how the yarn’s colors fell, it wasn’t stressful. I just had fun alternating garter stitch and stockinet stitch (bumpy versus smooth). It was quite soothing, which I’ve needed the past few days. This project came at the perfect time!

There was obviously no plan other than cheerful stripes.

I took a chance and decided to do a ruffle cast off, rather that doing it plain. It’s a version of a simple picot cast-off. Just Google it; there are plenty of instructions out there. I like how it added a feminine touch, which is perfect for the recipient!

Little bumps!

All went well as I proceeded along the edge of the shawl, until I felt a strange lightness in the yarn. Oh no, I was out of yarn. There was not any more whatsoever. I completely finished both skeins. Poop.

So, it’s not perfect. Just like me.

I did have enough to finish if I just bound off normally. So, I regretfully did so. There were other options, but none would result in the pretty white edge. The shawl isn’t for wearing in public, just to sit around the house, so maybe it’s okay. I may look for a skein of super bulky yarn that is a similar white, though. Having the edge a slightly different white might be okay.

Any knitters out there have another suggestion?

Here’s the next yarn. Noro Kureopatora (that’s Cleopatra in Japanese) 100% wool.

Comfort Walking and Knitting

Another crazy day in the US, but I’m feeling a little better, because I took my own advice and got outside more. It helped that the weather was a bit better. Even just taking a walk around the office brought me delight. I picked these pretty pecans (which I will take home and eat!).

Such pretty nuts

I also enjoyed stopping at one of the least-attractive parts of my walk to enjoy the Carolina snailseed vine in its winter glory.

The seeds look like little jewels.

The vine really grew over the summer as no one’s maintained the properties this fence supposedly demarcates.

Note the little strip of leftover snow!

When I got home, I enjoyed walking to see the horses. They’re all fine. I keep having to fix Lakota’s blanket, but it’s gonna get cold again, so he needs his comfort blanket.

Speaking of comfort, my knitting has really provided a lot for me this week. I knit hugs into every stitch. Look how big it is now!

I’ve gone through all the colors.

I hit a snag last night, though. My knitting needle tip came out! That caused stitches to go BOING. Oops. Thank goodness I have two sets of this size needle tip, and I can switch them out. I’m sad, because I love the set I’d been using, but I realized they are at least ten years old!

This is an original KnitPicks interchangeable needle set.

I like the clear ones, too. They are a little more “sticky” so I like them for lace. They’re working fine on this shawl. Thank goodness I have so much knitting stuff I hardly ever have to buy anything.

See through needle tip. It’s pretty.

Nowadays there are much fancier sets, but these work. And my old friend needles bring me comfort. I’ll take it wherever I can get it.

What’s comforting you?

Cozy Transition Shawl

I’ve interrupted my planned cadence of knitting projects to finish with the leftover yarn from the afghan. I have a long-time friend who’s transitioning from male to female, and I wanted to make her something to feel cozy and loved in while recovering from surgery at the end of the month. The yarn happens to have colors pretty close to the trans flag, which is a nice coincidence.

The only image on my stock image site that has the trans flag on it. Plus a Harvey dog! Image by @arty_kat via Twenty20

I figured a shawl would do the trick, and that it would work up quickly in the bulky yarn. Ha ha, that WOULD have been true if I hadn’t started the darned thing three times. That’s to be expected if you’re making something up, of course. The first time, didn’t like my cast-on, so I ripped out a few inches.

The second time, I set off to make a stockinette stitch (smooth on one side, bumpy on the other, for those non-knitters who made it to the third paragraph) triangular shawl. I got into the third stripe, but started doubting myself, and thought maybe I was increasing wrong, because the straight side didn’t look like it was straight. I ripped that all out (it’s called “frogging” because you rip-it, rip-it).

All annoyed at myself, I looked for a pattern on Ravelry for a simple, triangular shawl, so I’d be sure to make the right shape. Of course, when I found them, I realized I hadn’t screwed up before. Sigh. But the good news is that I found a pattern with a little texture in it that might look good with the stripes, called LaLa’s Simple Shawl. I knew I’d have to adjust the pattern, since as the shawl gets bigger, the stripes will get more narrow. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Bonus Carlton head! You can see it has some garter stitch and eyelets (that look like lumps right now).

Sure enough, by the time I got to the white stripe, I was having to add more yarn from the other ball. That’s just fine, because I have the yarn. Once I finish the next color, the purply-pink, I will switch it out and do one stripe in stockinette and one in garter until it’s the right size.

Stitches in extreme close-up

I am hoping to have enough yarn left by the time it’s long enough to bind off in a cute picot (little sawtooth kind of shapes), which will look nice and make sure the shawl is flowy. We’ll see.

This is a picot bind-off. Image from this article in Knitty 2006.

My goal is to get finished by next weekend, which is plenty of time. I hope to see the recipient in a few weeks. If not, I can mail it to her.

I hope this description of trial and error gives any of you who are not very confident knitters the courage to just give things a try and start over again if they don’t work out. Sometimes you get something a lot better than what you started out trying to do!

Snow Update

This isn’t enough for a whole blog post, but I wanted to share that the roads in Milam County were fine, and I made it to work. We lost a big tree limb at the office, but it didn’t hit any cars or the building, so that’s good. The power was out at the Bobcat Lair house for 7 hours, but Anita and Pickle survived.

The sun is now busy melting the snow!