Operating on auto pilot

I spent seven years working as a cardiologist’s nurse (let’s call him Dr. Smith).  He never took the calls from the hospital nurses.  It was my job to ask the relevant questions, gather the necessary data on his patient, and present it to him.  Then I got back to the hospital nurse and gave the orders for the patient care.

My calls always began with “this is Barbara, Dr. Smith’s nurse”.  Over the years, in my head, my identity became “BarbaraDr.Smith’snurse”.  One day, when our youngest daughter was in junior high, the school called the office.  I was seeing patients, and picked up their message during a lull.  I returned their call, and when I was put through I said “Hello, this is BarbaraDr.Smith’snurse”.  There was silence on the phone, then the voice on the other end said ” and….?”  Oops!  I quickly identified myself in “mommy mode” and found out what was up with DD.


A rude surprise

The second pair of footies has been completed, but not without a rude surprise.  First, I should say that the knitting modifications I made (changing the ribbing from 3/4″ to 1″, and starting the white for the toe at the point of beginning the toe decreases) were very satisfactory.  In fact, the first footie was just fine.

Then I began knitting what has come to be known as “the evil twin”.  I must protest that I did not deviate from my protocols.  It was the yarn’s fault, entirely!

Although you have to look closely to tell that they are even cousins, both footies came from the same skein of yarn (Fortissima Colori Socka Color, Disco, #9051).  The second was begun directly after the first (I did not fiddle around trying for identical status.)  What a terrible dye job!

Now, for the happy ending:  Because it was part of a grab bag purchase, I don’t have a lot of money invested in this yarn.  It has been marinating in my stash for several years.  Unless you have some put away, too, the odds are small that you will come across this yarn.

These are perfectly functional footies that are intended to be worn inside athletic shoes.  Only the cuffs will show.  It’s certainly a good thing I wasn’t working on something fancy, eh?

Footie Prototype

I’ve completed my first pair of footies, and it is a success.  I cast on 72 stitches for my wide feet, and knit in K2 P2 rib for 3/4 inches.  I continued in stockingette until the piece measured 1/34 inches, then changed to white for my standard flap heel. 

This was my first foray into contrasting heel and toes.  My stash contained only one 50 gram skein of this self-patterning yarn (from a sale grab bag); the contrast yarn provided enough yardage to complete the pair.  I was very concerned that I might not have enough of the patterned yarn, so I began the white toe one inch before the toe shaping.  My feet look like a Snowshoe Meezer!  (Not to worry:  they are meant to be worn under tennies:  no one will see them.)   After all was knit, I could see there would have been sufficient patterned yarn.  I have another “orphan” 50 gram ball, same brand,  from the same grab bag, and I’m glad to know it will work.

The second pair will have one inch ribbing instead of 3/4 inch.  I think that will provide better “cling” at the ankle.   I’m pleased with the results…time to cast on!

New shoes and a lightbulb moment

Ever since the bunion surgery turned out to be a failure I’ve been searching for comfy, wider shoes.  Did you know that New Balance shoes are available in multiple widths, and combination lasts?  (A combination last might include a wide toe box and average to narrow heel.)  To my knowledge, they are the only brand out there making athletic shoes in these sizes.

Two years ago I bought a wide toe, narrow heel New Balance, and it was love.  Unfortunately, the bunion has progressed, and the shoes I loved two years ago are comfy for only an hour or two.  I thought that was the best I could hope for until the New Balance store’s anniversary sale flier arrived.  Dudes, they have extra, extra wide shoes!  I went down, told them the model I had worn, and asked to try their “wider than any normal foot could need” shoe.  I wore my Jaywalker socks to the shoe store, and the new shoes felt wonderful over them.  Best of all, this model shoe has a mesh bit where my bunion sticks out, instead of a reinforcing leather strap.

Today I wore capris, the new shoes, and commercial cotton tennis socks.  My feet hurt!  Here’s the lightbulb moment:  when my daughters were babies we were taught to be as vigilant about sock sizes as we were about shoe sizes.  Too small a sock could damage growing feet as much as too small shoes.  These cotton footies were too small!  OK, so it was still a dim bulb moment, because my first inclination was to see if I could find larger-than-average size cotton footies.  About two hours later, the thought crystalized that even if I could find larger socks, they would just be longer, not longer and wider. What a shame I couldn’t get the wonderful fit I have with my handknit wool socks!

Finally I got it!  I burrowed in my stash and found a multi-color 50 gram ball and some white yarn.  I cast on 72 stitches for my wide feet (no need to worry about fitting my average size ankles this time), knit a 2 X 2 rib for 3/4 inch, stockingette for another inch, and changed to white for my usual flap heel.  So far I’m loving it.  I don’t think that even with the contrasting heels and toes there will be enough multi-color for a pair of footies.  However, I do have a “fraternal” ball from the same company.  Since these socks will be mostly hidden by my shoes, it doesn’t matter.

If this works out as well as I think it will, I will be on a tear to get a summer’s worth of footies knit.

Knitting news from the lakeside

I have made much knitting progress here this weekend.  First, the Basic Cabled Sock is now a finished object. (Sounds of finished object dance, happy, happy!) The pattern was easy to work with, making it a good project to carry in my purse.  The Fleece Artist Somoko (65% merino, 20% kid mohair, 10% nylon, and 5% silk) was beautifully dyed and yummy to knit with.

The socks are a beautiful, rich brown (colorway Midnight), which makes it difficult to show you the cable detail.  Here I have fiddled with the exposure to show the cable.  The color is true in the first picture, though.

Swing Swing has gotten a lot of knit time while I listen to books (book note to follow).  I got into a bit of a defensive mode as I neared the bottom of the sweater body. There were five skeins left, and  I still needed  to knit both sleeves, finish the neck, and hopefully add a little more length to the body.  I removed the Knit Picks needle tips,  put on cable caps, and placed the remaining yarn in a sandwich bag.  The yarn then was pinned to the bottom of the sweater for ease in handling. The A-line of the bottom of the sweater doesn’t show because it is contained by the cable caps.  Once released it will flare out the way the sleeve does.

Now that I have knit one sleeve, which took a skein and a half, I am encouraged that I will have enough yarn.  However, I shant be foolish:  I’ll do the second sleeve and neck before lengthening the body.

Audio books have added much joy to my weekend, and made the knitting fly.  Thanks to a tip in an AARP Bulletin, I went looking for Overdrive Media.  It is a free, down-loadable book service, like the Audiobooks one could purchase.  There was a link to search for libraries in your area that offer Overdrive, and oh, joy, mine does!

My first download was Death of a Witch by M. C. Beaton.  It’s a Hamish Macbeth mystery, and the reader does a fine job of bringing all the characters to life.  I just loved being read to while I knit, so I also heard  Debbie Macomber’s Twenty Wishes (book 4 in the Blossom Street series).  It did not disappoint!  In fact, I have an e-hold on book 5, which is to be available May 1.

Presenting another generation

I walked into our bedroom to put something away, and movement on the lawn caught my eye.  Sparrows, I thought, lunching with that Mallard hen.  Then I did a second take:  ducklings! 

We had already seen a hatch of ducklings this spring, so I wasn’t expecting to see more.  This is a different hen (her feathers are darker).  The older ducklings had been brought to our lawn almost two weeks ago.  Several days ago we had spotted them swimming behind a drake like a barge behind a tug.  They were in double file, and shifted every time he did.  They are almost twice the size of this new hatch…there was no mistaking them.

Welcome, little ones!  I’m so glad your mom brought you over to be introduced.

Playing with fabric

DH and I had errands to run in Baton Rouge today.  After a fine seafood lunch he was in a mellow mood, and agreed that I could spend some time in a quilt shop.  He had his current book along, and a shady parking place promised good reading time.

Inspired by a Laura Ashley blue/yellow colorway, I chose these 14 fabrics.  They will become this pieced jacket. The service in the store was fabulous, and I had a really good time finding the fabric combinations for the mood I had in mind.

After shopping there, I was musing with DH about the wonderful shopping experience I had enjoyed.  Another quilt shop had opened at about the same time as this one; the owner was cranky and snappish, and the shop closed over a year ago.  Ironically, the failed shop was only a couple of miles from my house.  It wasn’t worth traveling even two miles!  DH wondered why people like that buy quilt/yarn/whatever stores that are primarily people service ventures.  They obviously don’t like to deal with customers.

You do understand that no photo shoot happens in my studio without the assistance of the Meezers.  Casper was on duty today. If he had his way, I would have shown you three Casper pictures.  Sorry, boy, you’ve been cropped!

Ah, the joys of Spring

Outside my studio window today I was greeted with this view. It is the first day lily bloom of 2009.

The day lilies are planted around the bases of the two magnolias that stand sentinal on either side of our driveway.  As I looked up from the day lily, I was struck by the sheer number of magnolia buds this year. Just on this branch in the picture I can count at least 13.

Buoyed by the blossoms in the front yard, I went back by the lake to take a picture of the cypress.  That tree looks like an absolute stick in winter, and buds out late, so one begins to think that it has died.  Oh, but once it comes to life in the Spring, it is with an exultation of green feathery leaves!  The cypress tree makes me think of Snoopy doing his happy dance.

Easter Weekend

First and foremost, both the 8:30 and 10:00 am church services went off without a flaw.  I was so grateful that my musical offerings were what I had hoped for, and I “didn’t let the side down”.  Afterwards, at coffee hour, I told Fr. Chad that this week was like a “month of Sundays”, with the four services.  No wonder I spent so much of the last two weeks in rehearsal.

Knitting did happen, in between times on the organ bench.  I’ve managed to get a sock and 3/4 done of Brainylady’s Basic Cabled Sock. The yarn is Fleece Artist Somoko, the Midnight colorway, and is one of the skeins that I purchased from Loopy Ewe in St. Louis, MO on our October trip.  I really like the fact that the gusset grows out of the cable on each side.

Meezermeowmy has never been known as a monogamous knitter, so of course I had to start a new project.  (We’re going to Disneyworld in early May, and I’m trying to get projects to a good stage for travel knitting.)  When Swing Swing showed up in the Winter 2008 issue of Knotions, it was love at first sight.  I ordered the Colrain yarn that day, in Blue Lapis.  It’s been calling to me ever since; once I got past the heel of the second Basic Cabled Sock I felt I could cast on. Last night I got past the divide for the sleeves, and today I knit the first cable twists.  The yarn is 50% Merino/50% Tencel, and is a yummy knit.  As expected, the Merino is soft, soft, soft, and the Tencel makes for a fluid drape.  After this 16 rows increases occur to create the A-line.  They must be kept in pattern, and will require more of my attention.  Whiskers crossed!

Wonderful news!

The phone just rang, and I heard DH say “Hello, Mary.”  After some conversation, I heard “You just made my day!”  Curious…

Mary is our new Worthy Grand Matron, the state head of Eastern Star for this year.  She was calling from North Louisiana, her home.  It seems that she finally got around to cleaning out her car’s trunk after grand chapter, and found a camera.  Did DH’s camera case have a keychain with a globe on it?  Why yes, it does.  Yippee!  The left-behind camera is found!  As best she can piece together, someone turned it in to her husband as they cleaned out the convention center, and he popped it into the trunk at the last minute.

Pictures will be retrieved, and some posted when it finally comes home.

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