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)