Craft Therapy

Since ye olde pandemic set in, I’ve noticed many of my previously non-crafty friends jumping into the “craft therapy” club. I don’t blame them one bit, because there are so many reasons engaging in crafts can be soothing. I found myself so out of sorts during the Snowpocalypse and my last week at work, that I took to coloring in an adult coloring book.

The paper bent a bit, but it looks good flat. This reminds me of myself as a teen.

It felt good to just randomly pick shiny colors and fill them in. It took enough mental space to clear my mind of my surroundings, but didn’t give me a headache from thinking.

I had a sort of bad pen for the background, but I am coming to like the texture.

I’ve seen lots of pictures of things people colored on paper or on their computers, and they are always cheery. Friends with art talent are painting more, too. I’m told it’s great fun. Kathleen had made some of those things with beads, but I haven’t seen any. I’m told it’s the same kind of “just enough thinking” project.

The need to create beautiful things and concentrate on something other than the news is why I came back to knitting, too. I’m not alone, either. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see my friends taking up knitting or crochet and having fun. I was very disappointed when my friend Melanie, who gave us our late dog Brody, had someone pick on her for being a “granny” because she took up knitting. No, she’s a granny because her child had a baby, sheesh.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
Knitting is popular with young people, old people, men, women, gay, and straight. So is crochet.
Thank you.

I’m happy to report that the table runner for Lee has grown by another pattern repeat. It may get finished soon! Then I just have to finish the border on the shawl project. Oh, no, will I be out of projects?

It needs to be 50 inches before I start the border. I’ve got a bit more than a foot to go.

First of all, it is hilarious of me to ask that question, knowing how much yarn and how many pattern books I own. Still, I do have a birthday coming up…

So, I admit I followed an ad and bought a pattern for a lovely project ($5).

It is just what I need for sitting in my cold Cameron office, if I ever get to go back.

So, then I had to find yarn to make it. Luckily, the local yarn shop that I like to support, Hill Country Weavers, had the yarn, three different shades of this stuff, though not the ones in the picture (naturally).

While I was there, I browsed around and bought some more Noro knitting magazines, because I just love looking at things made with that brand of yarn. Then I found a slightly more difficult project to make that I ALSO want to try, so I got yarn for it, too. I detect a pattern in my choices. I like self-striping yarn!

This has entrelac, which I love, plus simple lace. Fun times. I picked a color with no purple in it. I have too many purple shawls.

So, that takes care of my birthday gift from Lee! I get exactly what I want!

Maybe later in the year I will make something in a solid color. We’ll see. I think bright colors are therapeutic for me.

So, have you taken up a new craft or other project to keep you a little calmer and help you feel productive?

Griping about the US Mail

I’m hearing a lot of complaints about the service people have been receiving from the US Postal Service. Now, of course, some of it is related to the weather issues of last week, when people where I live didn’t get any mail at all for a week or so. The weather is a good excuse, but doesn’t cover issues people are having elsewhere.

Carlton thins this new yarn smells amazing, since it went all over the country before it got here.

My example isn’t of anything critical, except to me. I ordered the yarn to finish out the table runner I’m making for Lee on February 3. I got the notice it had shipped on February 7. When did it arrive, you ask? February 25! That’s almost three weeks. Usually things take 3-5 days…well, up until recently anyway. Since the end of last year, when the election thing happened and the higher-ups at the USPS started cutting services, it’s been hard to get mail.

Look up at the top, February 7. It really takes that long to get from Massachusetts to Texas? Did they use a mule train? If so, I’d like to go see the mules.

I’ve had more than one thing simply not show up at all. An order of Christmas stuff from Doterra came mid January, which did not help with gift giving. But that’s nothing. One of my friends has had very expensive medicine delayed. She was okay, but there are others, like diabetics, who’ve had crises due to medicine being delayed.

Our horse supplements were also delayed, which wasn’t funny, even though they aren’t technically “medicine.” I’m still waiting for my turmeric tablets to show up.

Lee reports some of our clients haven’t received their bills in a timely fashion, too. That means money is not coming in. How many other small businesses that rely on the mail for billing have been adversely affected by the mail slowdown? This article shares some other consequences.

We need to be able to rely on postal mail, even if many of us pay our bills and do other transactions online. You need to be able to order something and have a vague idea of when it will show up.

I just want to share how pretty my horse is…again. He looks extra Arabian in this photo.

It’s been pointed out to me that, back in the not-so-distant past we were used to waiting 3-5 weeks for packages, and that’s true. But, back them most people paid their bills by mail, and if you gave it a week or so, you’d be sure your payment arrived on time. And if you bill for services, you’d know that if you mailed the bill at a certain time of the month, recipients would have plenty of time to get the payment back to you on time.

That’s no longer true, and it concerns me greatly. I’m not alone, as the delays are annoying lawmakers as well.

Anyone have any insight or stories to share?

Book Report: The Fabric of Civilization

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How appropriate that I finished this book just as civilization began to unravel where I live. But, here’s a nice post about nothing scary. It’s about The Fabric of Civilization, by Virginia Postrel (2020). From the five stars in my rating, you may infer that I enjoyed this book. Whew, I sure did.

This was one fascinating book. Postrel sure did her job by showing that a topic people might thing was boring and insignificant, cloth, is actually critical to the development of much of human culture and civilization. The best news is that this one’s written in an interesting and fun style that makes you want it to go on and on and on.

One of the best points Postrel makes is that, while we go on and on about wearing natural fibers, none of the fibers we wear is in the natural state for the plant or animal from which it comes. Wild cotton is almost all seeds. Today’s cultivated and carefully hybridized silkworms would not last long at all out in the natural mulberry groves, wherever those are. Wild sheep are brown and shed their wool (thank goodness, since there’s no one out there on a mountainside to shear wild sheep).

As Postrel goes through the chapters, each of which is a self-contained unit you could read by itself, you learn how fabric contributed to civilization way more than just by covering people up. It was one of the earliest forms of money. Trading it led to the development of bookkeeping and checking. Figuring out new ways to create fiber has led to all sorts of scientific discoveries, from way back when people were trying to figure out how to dye fabric (I can’t get away from that topic) up to today, when they are trying to make clothing with batteries and computer chips in them that’s comfortable (comfort is the hard part).

One thing I wish is that the folks at Basic Books had budgeted for some color photographs. In a book that talks so much about weaving gold fabric and other shiny things, it sure would be nice to be able to see them in detail. The black-and-white images aren’t clear at all.

I should also warn you that it really helps to have some basic understanding of weaving, knitting, and looms to get the most out of the chapter on cloth. Thankfully, Postrel does include a glossary in the book (Judith Flanders, the author A Place for Everything, would appreciate that alphabetized learning aid). Plus, with 30 pages of end notes, you can rest assured research was involved in this.

One thing’s for sure, I will never take the clothing on my back, the upholstery on my chair, or any piece of fabric I come across for granted. Knowing me, I’ll analyze whether it’s woven or knitted (more likely knitted, since the vast majority of our clothing to day comes off knitting machines, not looms) and what the yarn or thread is made of. Then I’ll wonder how it was dyed…yep, even with all my years of working with fiber, I learned a lot from The Fabric of Civilization, and it’s sticking with me!

Return to Knitting?

Another happy story, for your Blogmas pleasure. I once knitted. A lot. Pretty much every day from high school to when I moved to the ranch, I knitted every day. It was a great way to keep my hands occupied. I taught knitting to anyone willing to learn, which felt great, because it’s like giving someone the gift of never having to be bored again. I had a knitting blog and wrote up some patterns. I enjoyed being part of the local, national, and international knitting community, where I made lifelong friends.

It’s a wrap.

I stopped knitting when it ceased to bring me joy. A few things happened that caused it, and I have written a good post on this before, so go over and read it and see more things I’ve worked on. I’ve been trying to get back into it, sporadically, but I think the start I got in Utah has worked.

It’s as tall as me, so it will stay around my shoulders. I could have made it longer, but I think it will do. This was the plan, anyway.

I seem to have my knitting muscles back in shape, so I can do it a long time with no pain, and I now WANT to knit again. Yesterday I finished the project I’d started the last week I was in Utah, which is a wrap/lap blanket in a simple slip-stitch pattern (instructions here). I love how it came out, and can’t wait to give it as a Christmas gift (I can post photos, because the recipient has already seen it).

It looks good from the front and the back. It should get larger when blocked.

When I was done, I marched over to get the super-bulky yarn for the next gift project, only to find there was no needle to knit it with! We are sure we bought one when we got the yarn, but it’s gotten lost in all the travel and car changes the family has gone through.

Kathleen went into her room one last time to see if the big ole needles were hiding in there, but nope. She did come out with some yarn she’d bought earlier, which she couldn’t remember her plans for. “Make me something,” she said. So I am making a rib-stitch scarf. I like them because they look the same on each side (K1 P1 ribbing, cast on 45 stitches). That will keep me going until I can get to Austin and find one of my numerous size 9 or 10 needles.

I do like the effect this yarn makes.

Little-known fact: I am a very relaxed knitter (other than on that runner I recently made), and always need to size my knitting needles down to sizes to get the right gauge. Luckily, gauge is not vital on scarves, wraps, and throws.

Good News

This weekend, I discovered something really good, knitting-wise! The dogs are settled down enough that I can knit with them around! I have both Carlton and Penney trained to stay down by my feet, so I can knit with my project in my lap. I just have to keep an eye on Alfred’s giant paws. Harvey doesn’t jump up on me except to greet me in the mornings and evenings, so he’s good. I’ll have to work on Vlassic if I’m ever able to take him with me to Austin again!

Good Penney.

So, as long as I make simple things that can easily be interrupted, I am back to my favorite pastime. I won’t be making lace shawls, mosaic patterns, or complex fair isle, but I’m okay with that. I no longer feel compelled to show my mastery of the craft; I just want to relax and enjoy it. And I’m even using inexpensive non-natural fiber yarn (still like expensive and natural better; I haven’t changed that much, but at least moths won’t eat acrylic!)

Let’s Knit a Rainbow

I get up really early here, since meetings start at 7 in this time zone. That leaves me plenty of time to get in a workout and then knit. So, as soon as I finished the table runner, I started something else.

Can you spot the finished runner?

You may recall that I bought more yarn on Sunday.

The yarn

I looked around for something to make, and found a scarf pattern that used a simple garter stitch and slip stitch pattern. The best thing about it is that both the front and back are attractive, thanks to the magic of garter stitch stripes.

Here’s the front. a November rainbow.

The colors really look like autumn, don’t they? And the slip stitches are a cute touch.

The back is a stripey rainbow.

You’ll be relieved to know it won’t be a rainbow when I am done. It’s going to be a wrap of some kind, depending on how long it ends up. I have 6 skeins of yarn, three of each color, so it will be substantial, I hope.

Since it’s inexpensive (not cheap!) Red Heart yarn with no dye lot on the brown, I could probably get more if I need to. We’ll see!

This yarn is easy on my hands, so I can go faster than the thick linen stitch of the runner let me. What’s best? I’m letting myself knit something easy so my mind can rest. I’ve lost my drive to make complicated things!

Want to Make One?

Grab a few skeins of a solid and a self-striping worsted or Aran weight yarn that contrast or blend (mine blend). I ended up using 3 skeins of each color.

Get your favorite needles. I use size 6, because I knit loosely. You may want 8.

Cast on 150 stitches (or a multiple of 4, plus 2).** I used a knitted cast on. Knit 2 rows in the solid color (or more for a thicker border). Then use this pattern:

1. K2, *P1, K4* until last 3 stitches, P1, K2.

2. K2, * slip 2 with yarn in back, K4* to last 3 stitches, slip 1 with yarn in back, K2.

Change yarns every other row, carrying the unused yarn up the side.

End on solid color, K 2 rows (or same number as you started with), bind off.

I found the stitch pattern on “Striped Delight” by Marni Farniere. Search for it on Ravelry for two scarf ideas.

Carry on.


** If you don’t want the borders to look a little wavy, cast on 10% fewer stitches than you want and increase to the desired number on the last row of stockinette. At the end, decrease a comparative number on the first stockinette border row.

Olypmic Park Dog Gymnastics

Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.

I just pictured peace, quiet, and a raven while the drunken child went on and on.

They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.

I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.

That’s the shopping center, off in the distance.

I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.

Inexpensive yarn for something to sit under and watch television.

As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.

We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.

On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.

One dog was on the wrong side of the trail, but did not mind.

There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.

Running full speed

One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.

Black dog in its snow pile.

What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.

The weird Coke won’t be left over, however. Not bad.

And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.