Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Life continues

It's been almost a week since I had a daily drive to Bethany Lutheran College. (Not) oddly enough, I do not find myself putting together my purse and knitting basket, preparing to head out the door.  I do find myself on the computer more, writing blog posts and e-mails and the like.  That needs to stay within bounds.  Life is more than being on the internet.

Life would be a lot more gardening and yard work, too, but for the fact that is has been COLD and wet.  It's May 19th, and we had a frost warning this morning.  I thought about covering my 8x4 bed of tomatoes and basil but opted to live dangerously.

The hummingbirds and orioles are back.  The mourning doves are back in evidence too, and my new friend the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes daily visits to the willow tree.  The bleeding heart is still in bloom, and the columbines are adding to the color with their red and yellow flowers.  The beans are keeping their little heads under the soil yet.  Someone must have told them that the 80-degree weather wasn't going to last.

I'm in a decluttering and cleaning mood.  Yesterday saw the evisceration of the storage space above the master bedroom closet.  Yesterday morning, it was full.  Today, it is half-empty.  Today's target has not yet been decided upon.  Anyone want a set of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1976?

It's Molly's Fault
I spent some time last week wondering what to knit after I finished a pair of gloves and one mitten, which were all that was on my knitting calendar.  My wonderings were answered in the form of an e-mail, and now my knitting calendar has two more mittens and several miscellaneous small items.  I figure in 2-3 weeks, I will be wondering what to knit next.  And by then, I am sure a new answer will crop up.  Worst comes to worst, I can knit a summer tank top.  That should put off the decision for 2-3 days.  Unless the weather is good and I spend those days outside eradicating uppity weeds. 

Molly's Fault was finished on March 30th.  It was a long time in the making, mostly because I ignored it for a very long time.  It is (in its current size) 17 diamonds wide and 24 diamonds tall ... or 816 wee little diamonds.  I love the result, and may make another one sometime during my time on earth.  But not with my current yarn stash.  I sort of used up all my miscellaneous sock yarn! 

On the needles now is a mitten, minus top and thumb.  When that is finished (this afternoon), I will start a second mitten.  And by the time that is done, I should have more yarn and be able to start in on the miscellaneous.  If that package hasn't arrived ... oh dear, I need to figure out what to do in that case.  Hmmm.  Something to ponder while knitting!

See you next week!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The End of an Era

When Filius exited Honsey Hall yesterday around 11 AM, it marked the end of an era.  The end of his high school years.  Even though he has been enrolled full-time in college for the past two years, it was dual-enrollment and therefore somewhat, kinda, almost sorta homeschooling.  But that is no longer the case.  He has finished the course of his high school years, run the race, and has a summer stretching before him before he returns to college to continue growing in his knowledge of all things Chemistry, plus whatever liberal arts the school requires of him to graduate. 

He is not a fan of the liberal arts, or at least liberal arts as they relate to him.  He's fine with liberal arts for other people.  He would prefer a full schedule of chemistry, or perhaps chemistry and computers. 

Filia is home as well now, and we are beginning the process of settling into a summer routine.  Pray for me, gentle readers, as I endeavour to nurture two teens with learner's permits into two independent drivers. 

Gratuitous Knitting Picture

The garden is in and protected from the average bunny, my mom's yard is not overrun by weeds, and the summer stretches before me, just filled with opportunities.  My twined gloves are moving along.  After a week of little progress, caused by a week of sunshine and abundant opportunities for yardwork, things are moving again and I have only 3.75 fingers and 1 thumb left to finish. Since it is rainy today, I hope to reduce that quantity by at least half before I go to bed tonight. 

And if I am to do that, I will need to get off the computer.  Staying off my tablet won't be a problem.  It's in the repair shop.  The jump off the top of a mini-fridge onto the concrete was too much for the screen.  And I have an aversion to glass splinters in my fingertips. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Tale of Two Yards

Another week has gone by, and the school year is one week closer to completion, and the weeds have one more week of the growing season under their belt.  At least, some weeds do.  My yard is in pretty good shape.  If there is a weed with more than two leaves on it, it's probably not in my flower or vegetable beds.  And Mom's yard is looking good, too.  I put in four hours of nettle pulling yesterday, and made decent progress.  We found a relatively non-toxic (to humans, pets, etc) weed-killer made of vinegar, dish soap, and epsom salts.  It works nicely on small weeds in sidewalk cracks.  Two of Mom's four weed raised beds are covered with plastic, and even if the other two don't get in coverable shape this year, that's two beds more than last year! 

Two of my four veggie/herb beds are protected at least reasonably well from the bunnies.  I hope to lash some chicken wire to the remaining PVC frames later today, and then can get them up tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting, and pop my tomatoes and remaining plants into the ground.  Asparagus and rhubarb production is in full swing. 

The First Frame, protecting the First Asparagus
Next week, I start a Bible Study on the Sermon on the Mount.  And I'm not leading it!  Two wonderful things.  To prepare, I want to finish memorizing Matthew 7.  I've heard that one part of the homework for the study is reading through the Sermon on the Mount each week.  Nothing like being able to do part of your homework while laying in bed in the morning with your head on the pillow and your eyes closed! 

Knitting has gone slowly this week, due no doubt to how gorgeous the weather was and how much time I spent with a pair of loppers and fist-fulls of nettles.  The leather-palmed garden gloves I got this year -- in April, I think, but possibly in March -- have a split seam, several serious scuffs in the leather, and a spot on the thumb that looks suspiciously like a popped blister, about the size of a nickel.  They're getting serious use.  I wish they looked like they were longer for this world.  It's not every garden glove you can use to pull Russian Thistles without getting stuck! 

I did, however, get One Single, Solitary Thumb knit on the first glove.

And five ticks off of my dog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I think it really is spring in Minnesota.  I have done oodles of knitting, and would talk about it, but with the nice weather comes the green growth, and with the green growth comes another year of nettles and volunteer trees taking over my mom's yard.  And branches falling down from old volunteer trees. 

So, rather than put together a post with pretty pictures of twined gloves, I will say instead that I am hoping to spend 10+ hours pulling weeds at mom's house this week.  And keep up with the smaller weeds in my own yard!  I'll be picking up anti-rabbit fencing tomorrow, then carving up some PVC pipe and making frames to lash the fencing to, then mounting them on the raised beds.  The theory is that I will be able to remove the frames for weeding, winter, etc, but keep the bunnies out the rest of the time.  We shall see how it works.

The asparagus harvest has begun, and I do believe I will make some rhubarb something this weekend.  I've transplanted cilantro, chives, sage, and thyme into my new herb bed ... more parsely, basil, thyme, sage, and perhaps one lavender will be transplanted later.  The peas are in and starting to come up (unprotected from the bunnies, eeeek!), and the radishes are starting to poke their tops up as well.  The mint and oregano survived the winter, but they are NOT going into my raised bed.  I will pop them into planters, where they will stay put and not take over the bed/yard/neighborhood.

Florally, I found a lot of volunteer columbine under the bird feeders, so I have transplanted a dozen or two into places where they won't get mowed over.  Columbine aren't supposed to like being transplanted ... we'll just see how they do.  I moved some hostas, and unknown nursery plant, daylilies, and irises around as well.  And today, two peonies. 

Only two and a half weeks of driving back and forth to Bethany left.  And then ... I have no idea what life will look like. 

Anyone want a tree branch?  Fresh rhubarb, vitamin C-rich nettles, and walnut trees are hiding underneath it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Fiasco (part 2)

I'd rather be knitting ... but my to-do list included a blog today, and so I will blog.  Then I can knit with a clear conscience.

Where we last left off, dear reader, I was in the middle of knitting a fourth mitten and realizing that the second mitten did not follow the prescribed color theme.  Or at least, it did not follow the prescribed color theme above the wrist.  Below the wrist, it was fine.  No, I managed to  mess it up ABOVE the wrist only.

From the first mitten, I learned 'Write down the color names/letters CAREFULLY.'
From the second mitten, I learned 'READ the color names/letters, not only when you start the mitten, but also when you are in the middle of the mitten.'

What could go wrong from there?

Not all that much, actually.  A healthy dose of paranoia kept me checking the color combinations every 3-4 rounds of all the remaining mittens. (That made a total of 6 mittens.  Two botched, and one correct.)  I knew I wanted a mix of thumbs -- some on the left, some on the right -- and by not paying much attention to things ended up with 3 left thumb and one of the right thumb.   On the correct mittens.  The botched mittens had right thumbs, through no fault of their own.

At that point, I weighed yarn, considered, and the decision was made to make pairs out of all the mittens.  With an eagle eye to matching colors, I successfully knit a purple mitten to match the purple  mitten, and a green mitten to match the green mitten.  By diligent observation, I managed to make the second mittens of each pair so that they would fit on a standard pair of human hands.  No 'two left mittens' for me!

And then, it was decided to have a yellow pair and a red pair.  Botched, but paired.  And for this, I pulled out a Very Special Bag of Tricks.  Because by the little gremlin that was throwing monkey wrenches in everywhere she could, I had two yellow mittens with two left thumbs (or rather, a left thumb and a left thumb opening), and two red mittens with two right thumbs.  AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

 Fear not.  I am an intrepid knitter.  And I have friends who simplify some of my convoluted ideas.  (You know who you are.)  

Step 1:   Pick up stitches in the row below the waste yarn, and the SECOND row above the waste yarn.   Remove the waste yarn, and gingerly snip the yarn in the first row above the waste yarn in the middle, so there will be enough to weave in.  Hopefully.
 Step 2:  Work a simple single-color graft across the unneeded thumb opening.
 Step 3: Cleverly use Swiss Darning (aka Duplicate Stitch) to add four green stitches just where they belong, more or less.

 Step 4:  Pick up stitches for a thumb on the right side.

 Step 5: Remove the sacrificial row of yarn between the two rows.
 Step 6: Knit a thumb in four colors. 
Step 7: Take a picture of the finished fix, to delay weaving in all those ends.
Fixing the second mitten is another excellent way to put off tail weaves.  Let's see how this one goes!

Step 1:  Pick up stitches all around the top of the mitten, just beneath the first tip-shaping row. 
Step 2: Undo all the tail weaves at the tip and unravel the mitten top.  Only down through and including the first decrease round, not down to the thumb.  Why ever did I think that would be needed? 
Step 3:  Squoosh the mitten so that what was a right thumb is now a left thumb.  While leaving the beginning of the round where it was, work the decreases in what was the middle of the palm/middle of the back, so that the right mitten is very neatly converted to a left mitten. 
Step 4:  (Not shown.) Weave in ends, and ends, and ends.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Crayola Mitten Fiasco (part 1)

Once upon a time, there was a knitter.  Now, this knitter was fairly proficient in her craft.  She was so proficient that often she knit while doing other things.  Usually, this resulted in getting many things done simultaneously. 

Sometimes it resulted in a bit of a mess. 

One day, in the not-too-distant past, this knitter began to knit a mitten collection.  Each mitten in the collection used four colors.  The same four colors.  What was color A for one mitten was color B for the next mitten in the collection, color C for the third, and color D for the fourth.  And color B in the first mitten became color C in the next, and so forth. 

What could go wrong? 

Quite a lot, as it turned out.  See that lovely green fringe?  It's supposed to be purple.  But did I the knitter notice?  No.  Not until I the knitter was working the decreases at the tip.  Because I (oops) the knitter was busily pondering various themes found in Romans Chapter 9, as expounded upon by John Piper at Desiring God.

And so the knitter sighed deeply, worked the last dozen or so rows of the mitten, and set it aside.  Why bother weaving in ends, or work a thumb, if the whole color scheme of the mitten was faulty due to a copying error when colors B and C were jotted down?

With a renewed attention to detail, the next mitten was begun.  (One in each of the four color schemes was the goal). 

Five mittens later, she had the desired four correct mittens.  It wasn't until knitting the fourth mitten than she observed that the third mitten was flawed.  And it wasn't until the following day she figured out that no, the third mitten was fine ... it was the SECOND mitten that was wrong.  And it was only wrong above the braid, when the purple and greens got reversed.  Again. 

(To be continued)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Back! Or am I?

I never particularly intended to have a year-long hiatus on this blog.  Somewhere between the busyness of life and my intentions not to spend more time documenting what I am doing than actually doing it, the blog faded into the background.  The serious background, rather like the back of the cave the Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves took refuge in while they were traversing the Misty Mountains, and which just faded into blackness that seemed to be impenetrable but which wasn't, sadly, and which really had repercussions for a good night's sleep.  At least for them.

I'm not particularly schooling two any more.  And 'one' may not be exactly what I knit.  I knit lots.  And I could write about that, and about what I am reading, and memorizing, and gardening (just not at the moment ... something about 'earth stood hard as iron'), and stuff ... but is this a useful vehicle for that? 

Weigh in, all you existent readers!

And a blessed last few days of Advent to you all.