Back in training

My diet began on 2/15/2007 with my weight being 274.  In a year I managed to loose 120 pounds, down to 154.  I have regained five pounds in six months, and it’s time to get back with the program.  Today I am beginning again on the full, strict program.  Back to the exercise, the adequate water intake, and eating strictly on the program.  As the old saying goes, “dance with the one what brung you”.

I am facing surgery on November 5, and this month is my chance to loose that five pounds and go into surgery in good shape.  That ought to be motivation enough, but I’m also hoping that if I put it out here in public, commit myself in the presence of my friends, it will mean even more encouragement to hang in there.

Minky says “After you exercise, save some lap time for me!”

Isn’t unconditional meezer love wonderful?

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Everything old is new again

I spent the afternoon reading many of the cache of letters I have kept that I received from my late mother.  She was a regular correspondent, and enjoyed describing daily events, the weather, concerts, even activities and achievements of her former students.  (Mother was the head of a high school English department.)  I was searching for one gem of information, but found myself skimming through letters about the late arrival of robins, sharing peppermints with paperboys, and schnauzer grooming.

When these letters were originally received I remember wondering why she spent the time and money to write of such trivialities.  Now that the letters are all that remain, it is good to read her turn of phrase again.  But more than that, by another standard they fit right in:  Mother was writing blog posts before the advent of the Internet!

Universal Kitty Nap Time

Everyone knows about time zones, and daylight savings time.  But do you know about Universal Kitty Nap Time (U.K.N.T.)?  I was first told about this phenomenon by Grandmeowmy, the director of Texas Siamese Rescue.  She observed that there was a point, mid-day, at which no kitty could keep their eyes open. Every cat at the Texas rescue ranch would be zonked out!  This knowledge can be very useful if you need to find or catch your kitty, say for a veterinarian appointment.

One of my all-time favorite books is All My Patients are Under the Bed, by Dr. Louis Camuti.  Dr. Camuti writes of his life as a house-call making New York City veterinarian.  All of his cat patients take refuge under beds when he arrives.  Having read this entertaining book, I always make our cats’ annual appointments for U.K.N.T.

U.K.N.T. is also useful for snapping pictures of camera-shy felines. I know I will find Torrie napping in the cat tower, and so she was.

One picture was tolerated with good grace. The second picture elicited a protest,

but by the third picture, U.K.N.T. was irresistible once more.  It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it!

My First Blog Award!

Awards can change your life.  This one forced my hand:  it’s way past time for me to learn to post links and pictures that come from sources other than my Flickr account.  So, I went out and read the user’s manual (what a concept!) and I present to you my first blog award,

I was nominated by knitnana

Here are the rules:
If you’ve already received this award, great! That means you really really deserve it. Feel free to pass it on again.

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

I nominate these 7 blogs, in hopes that you all find the joy in them that I have:

  1. Carole
  2. Jo
  3. Alison
  4. Marilyn
  5. Jennifer
  6. Margene
  7. Marsha

Knitnana would have been on this list, as would several others she and I read in common.  Making these choices felt like having my nose pressed against the candy store window:  so many goodies, how to choose?!

Musing on hmmm

Carole of Caroleknits.net posted today asking “What makes you go hmmm?”

Never doubt the power of people asking hmmm?  I’ve noticed that now, more often than not, hot dog buns are coming packaged in quantities compatible to hot dog packaging.  (Your results may vary, and my survey was limited, as I don’t indulge frequently.)

Just down the aisle I saw big, fat, plastic ketchup bottles that are meant to stand on their lid so the ketchup will dispense freely.  How come it took so many years to get corporate to approve that one?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Vermont Country Store(www.vermontcountrystore.com) is a thriving business that sells not only basic housewares but also soaps, cosmetics, candies, etc. that once were popular.  Supposedly people no longer buy these things, so they are hard to find.  Remember Tangee lipstick, Fabrege Tigress cologne, Lifebuoy soap, Walnettos?  Go spend some happy time puttering about their site.  You’ll be in better spirits afterwords!

Travel Yarn Shop Crawl with Barbecue

One October we set out on a car trip from Louisiana to Birmingham, Alabama.  We were going there to attend a convention, but DH had a quest:  Dreamland Barbecue.  There once was a Dreamland in Baton Rouge, and DH and his work group loved nothing more than lunch at Dreamland.  Sadly, it closed, and has been sorely missed.  No other barbecue joint approached its recipe and smokey ambiance.

So it was with hope for a barbecue lunch that DH readily agreed to a morning yarn crawl.  Birmingham is draped over some mountainous hills and valleys.  The main drag goes up and over, and as we came down the far side I found the first shop on my list in a strip mall.  While it wasn’t one of those dreaded yarn stores that one sometimes stumble across, I didn’t find much to purchase, either.  The highlight of this stop was a children’s bookstore in the same strip.  We found delightful books for our grandchildren for Christmas.  The payoff was when the clerk asked “How did you find our store?” and I answered “You have the good taste to be in the same building as a yarn store!”

The second store, Knit Nouveau (http://knitn.com), was back up and over, returning part way toward downtown Birmingham.  It sits in a delightful, vintage development known as College Town. I bought my first Euroflax yarn, which Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, the shop owner, advised me to “whack against a newel post 4 or 5 times to limber it up”.   We visited some time with  Mercedes , speaking of cabbages and kings, horses and yarn, and oh, yes, barbecue.   She sharred the Dreamland passion, and gave us good directions on finding lunch.  Providentially, we were but a few blocks away.

Yesterday I bought Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines (the second book).  There, smiling out at me from the roll of designers, was Mercedes.  Makes it kind of personal, having passed a good time and shared barbecue passions.

And now, for something entirely different…

It doesn’t take much detective work to know that Meezermeowmy usually knits socks and shawls.  Here and there have been detours into worsted weight yarn, but my usual knitting dalliance involves fingering weight and lighter yarns.

My big change began as I read the Rowan 30th anniversary issue.  It’s a beaut, and my first exposure to Rowan.  So what is a geeky knitter to do when confronted with an entire half-inch thick (oops, British publication, make that 1.27 cm) knitting magazine featuring yarns I don’t know?  Ravel them, of course.  A pleasant morning was passed looking at patterns, looking up the featured yarn, and penciling in its weight.

As I discovered Rowan yarns, I came across a listing for Rowan Biggy Print.  Wait a minute, I think I have some of that in my stash!  Sounds improbable, I know, but several years ago at  Bette Bornside’s fall sale I bought a grab-bag of all-wool yarn.  It included two skeins of Biggy Print, which I thought I might untwist and use as singles, at half the bulk.  Consider that sock yarn is about 400 yards/100 grams.  This puppy is 33 yards/100 grams!

Ravelry to the rescue once more, I found the French Girl scarf pattern.  It calls for 3 skeins on size 35 needles.  Get real – 35? I actually have some size 17’s that I was given with a heritage stash, so I cast on 11 stitches, and knit away.  This will be a Christmas gift for one who doesn’t read blogs.

I’ve learned several things.  First, Casper was fascinated with straight aluminum needles that swish, swish and wave about on each stitch.  He also wanted to capture the yarn with each movement.  He has never paid attention to my knitting before.  Perhaps it had to be big enough to get his attention.

Second, my poor hands and wrists think knitting on straight needles with super bulky yarn is a significant sacrifice.  Get it done so we can get back to normal knitting around here. 

Minky says “That big knitting doesn’t leave lap room for me!”

Weekend of Progress

It’s been a weekend of progress.  (Those of you who are Disney fans may have toured the Carousel of Progress.  I know we have, many times!  I feel like we should be singing the theme song as we “move on” to the next vignette. “There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, waiting at the end of every day.”)

First on the list was progress on the Secret of the Stole III. I’ve been over a week behind, ever since DH’s surgery and hurricane Gustov arrived the same week.  Saturday I finished clue 4, colored the graph for clue 5, and actually knit the first 8 rows of 5.

After I finished the Paprika Bells & Whistles Socks and the Crystals, Combs, and Cables Socks (hold the crystals), it was time to –say it all together now, boys and girls — cast on more socks.  This summer I had searched high and low across the net for a skein of Fleece Artist Merino in Rose Garden.  Last year I knit a Caravan Robe in Rose Garden from Fiddlesticks Knits, and here was a sock colorway to match! Now I don’t recall my original pattern plans, but it looked awful in the yarn.  Rose Garden went back to the end of the line, but kept calling to me from that distant vantage point.  Now was its time, and Spring Forward Socks turned out to be an excellent vehicle for the yarn.  Here I’ve made it to the gusset decreases on the first sock.  I need to finish this pair in September, before the October brown sock KAL begins in the Solid Sock group on Ravelry.

As I was editing my pictures, I heard a drawer open. Caught you, Casper!  Breaking and entering!

Casper denies all charges! I ask you, is that an innocent face? ‘Course not!

Wrapping up my summer knitting

Yesterday I finished the second sock of the last pair that I cast on for Summer of Socks 08.  I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to finish it before the deadline because I did have another pair completed in that time period.  As you know, knitters can be a fickle lot.  I walked away from socks and picked up shawls after that intense summer of sock knitting.  Meanwhile, the second sock of this pair languished in my knitting bag.  The poor thing was ready for its heel flap, and there it was abandoned.    Fortunately, there is something about the approaching autumn that encourages knitters to finish up their languishing knitting…and so I did.

This is the pattern that Debi Leshin created, Crystals ‘Combs and Cables Socks. I knit it in Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome, Misty Moor from the Loopy Ewe.  I found the perfect beads for the cuff, but the first knitting was doomed.  The cuff seemed loose, and the lace pattern seemed tight.  Version #2 replaced beads with 1 x 1 ribbing, and knit the lace with #2 needles.  I like a firmly-knit sole, so the sole and toes were knit with #1 needles.  Kudos to Wendy Johnson, whose blog, Wendy Knits, suggested this technique for well-fitted socks.

Geeky knitter’s upgrade

There have been some changes made since I posted Victory over Lace Knitting 101.  Then, I was using a large cookie sheet propped on my music stand. My two-year-old grandson was staying with us after Hurricane Gustov while his parents waited for the return of electricity to their apartment.  He came strolling into my studio, and with great puzzlement pointed and said “Pan?”

That started my quest for a better solution.  Someone had posted on Secret of the Stole III that they used a magnetic dry-erase board.  I couldn’t resist cruising through office supplies when I made groceries at Wal-Mart.  There was nothing large enough for an extended shawl chart.  Today DH humored me with a stop at Office Depot.  They had this beauty, 24″ x 18″.

I also bought a roll of 1″ wide, sticky-backed magnetic tape because that was what I could get for long magnets.  I wasn’t really sure I wanted that, but it was only $4.99, so how wrong could I be.  When I got home, I cut a 10″ length, then divided it to 1/2″ wide strips. Inspiration arrived, and I stuck the strips down on a stained-glass scrap of fabric.  I used my rolling cutter to trim the fabric to the magnet, then slathered each edge with Fray-check to prevent raveling.

All in all, I’m very pleased with myself.  The dry-erase board is pretty light, so there is no problem with such a large board resting on the music rack.  I was going to say that I’ll never use the dry-erase function, but you know—you could write in big red letters “Remember to K the first and last 3 stitches of each purl row” or whatever caution you need.

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