Wednesday, March 22, 2006


So, we went to Maine again this past weekend. Guess it's really spring now, though it didn't feel like it. These sheep were in a field somewhere on the way to Deer Isle, right on Route 15, and I would have gotten closer to them if not for the dratted sprained ankle and a steep ditch I did not want to risk with the afore-mentioned ankle. I could hear the little lambies baa-ing in their funny little voices, and caught a few glimpses of the "mama give me some tittie" head butting. Too cute!

Sadly, the closer I got with my camera, the faster the sheep dispersed, in a neat little line, all of them heading back to the barn and away from the strange creature that kept insisting on talking to them. [sigh] I suspect that if I ever do find my dream hovel, hopefully with a nice parcel of land attached, I might just have to have a couple of sheep...

This is a night view of Stonington Harbor, which my husband must have taken from the deck of our room at the Inn on the Harbor while I was asleep. I don't know exactly what it is about this place, but I keep returning to it time and time again, and when we try to go someplace else for rest and relaxation, we just feel homesick for Stonington the whole time. We have been going up for stolen weekends for about 3 years now, and each time the ride up seems shorter, the place feels more like home, and it gets harder and harder to leave when our time is up. The ocean is right outside our window when the tide is in, and the mudflats and seaweed are there to study, too, when the tide is out. In either case, it's beautiful. This weekend, there was one loon floating around in the water among the seagulls, and I heard it giggling as if hearing the greatest joke ever written. What an unearthly sound! I was lucky to hear it a few times.

Of course, I knitted. The cranberry Ringwood sweater is almost done. It just needs a few more rows on the collar, the buttons sewed on, and a washing. I expect it will go to its recipient no later than Sunday. Then I get to start the next project, which is one of the reasons for my visit to Stonington.

Over the years of staying at the Inn on the Harbor, we have gotten to know the innkeeper, Christina, quite well. She wants a sweater, so one part of my stay included a consultation about designs and yarns. This one will be another Aran in a hand-plied lavender heather, and will feature some favorite motifs and my signature medieval neck treatment. I will be doing the math for this project in the next few days and starting sometime over the weekend, I hope. In the interim I might knock off a pair of wristers in some Noro yarn I couldn't resist while out shopping today.

In addition to the Aran for Christina, I have a basic plan going for a Stonington Gansey. That one, I think, will be for me. But I must finish my commissions first!

An amusing and to me, flattering note. I showed Christina many patterns from "she who must not be named," and she said she preferred something of my own design! The textured sweaters "she who must not be named" has designed over the years have been a great source of inspiration to me, so hats off to her! I wouldn't be where I am now without her. And someday, I just know that more of her patterns are in my knitting future, for my own personal wardrobe.

Off to finish Ringwood!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What I Did Instead of Knitting Last Night

Amazing, isn't it, how well my spiffy new Air Cast shows off my handknit socks?

Och, Jaysus, this has been quite the week, my friends. It all began on Monday morning with...

Chest pains that wouldn't go away, so I went to the hospital for tests. It turned out to be a big fat nothing, but could have been any number of things. The heart was the main concern, of course, so there was an EKG and blood work. One of those blood tests turned up some kind of clotting factor they didn't like, so they sent me off for a CT scan of my lungs. Apparently they suspected a pulmonary embolism, which information pretty well freaked me out. (That's what finished my Dad off so many years ago when he had cancer -- probably one of those blessings in disguise for him, come to think of it with hindsight.) Lucky for me the lungs were clear, but I was so anxious I never heard the nurse say a splitting headache is one of the commonest side effects from contrast dye, and it doesn't happen right away.

So yesterday, accompanied by the afore-mentioned splitting headache, I went off to work as usual. My supervisor has trouble with kidney stones and has had the CT scan/contrast dye thing so many times she was able to reassure me that I was just having a reaction, NOT a stroke from some random blood clot the CT scan had not tracked down. OK, great, fine, started to go about my work, was walking briskly across the loading dock to deliver some labels, and ended up doing an impromptu gymnastic maneuver instead. Nothing fractured but my dignity, and I let myself lie there for a few minutes cussing and staring at the ceiling, waiting for the pain in my bad knee to go away. (Still can't quite believe how much it hurts to land on a joint that has hardly any cartilege left in it...) Managed to get up, bruised and battered, delivered the labels and got some sympathy from the guys who needed them. Except for the headache, which dwindled as the day wore on, everything was OK. I punched out as usual at 2:30 and started walking up the hill to my car SLOWLY, fully remembering what happened on the loading dock earlier in the day and not wanting a repeat performance...

Well, so much for the best laid plans of mice, men, and cable builders. My left ankle decided to gang a-gley, and I flew through the air with an increasing sense of disbelief, and landed really hard on the sidewalk. This time I really had a lot of trouble getting up again, and my left foot did not settle into anything resembling normal behavior. So, off I went to the ER again, just 24 hours after I was released from Monday's visit. It seems I have a nasty foot/ankle sprain/strain. I have to use crutches for 2 weeks and wear an Air Cast for at least that length of time.

I would much rather have been at the Tuesday Night Knit-In. However, Air Casts are truly extraordinary devices. Yesterday at this time I could not bear weight on the foot and was miserably dragging myself around on crutches. Today, having reapplied the Air Cast after seeing my doctor, I got the thing just right and am now managing to walk around quite painlessly with a single forearm crutch. (I have a pair 'cause they "came with the house.") Ever so much less obtrusive than the clunky old standard aluminum crutches, and I don't look nearly so klutzy and lopsided. I'm just a little slower than normal, and will be for awhile yet.

I don't even want to think about what this is all going to do to my participation in Evensong this weekend. The doctor has said "no prolonged standing." Oops. And I think that means no processions up and down flights of marble stairs, either. Shucks. I might just have to sit in the second pew and avoid moving. We'll see what happens when push comes to shove.

Black 47's new CD compilation, Bittersweet Sixteen, just arrived in my mailbox today. It's nice to hear some old favorite songs revisited. Larry's terrific version of Danny Boy just came up. I think the last time I heard it live, he played it in memory of my dear cousin Brent, who had recently died of AIDS. Larry's Danny Boy character is a gay construction worker who died of AIDS. Not quite Brent's story, but I think Brent heard and understood, wherever he was in the cosmos that night. This new version of the song is even more heart-rending than the original on Home of the Brave. Bravo, Larry, yet again. Love you so, my dear friend. Thanks again, too, from me and from Brent. (The picture below is actually me with Larry, not Brent. Sadly, I have no pictures of me and Brent together, and now more than ever, do I wish I did!)

I think it's now high time I rested my footie and took up some knitting. Ahhh, yesssss.....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Temporarily Out of the Loop, but Still Knitting

Had to miss knitting at Sue's last night, as Phoebe has bronchitis/pneumonia, and I needed to stay home and play nurse. Just as well, I suppose, though I always miss my friends when I can't attend. Pheebz is on all the right drugs, but is still very weak. I've missed two days of work in addition to my usual recreational pursuits, but I'm not too sorry. I caught up on a lot of housework and cooking, listened to some audiobooks, and played with yarn and fiber. (Of course!)

Recent projects include the socks-in-progress pictured above. These are from Nancy Bush's fab new book, Vintage Socks. I finally decided on "Ringwood" as a good way to evaluate my hand-plied, hand-dyed wool/camel hair yarn. Even if I do say so myself, WOW! This stuff is even better than I anticipated. In a three-ply, it's nice and springy, and I'm delighted with the heathery way the dye soaked in. I'm calling it "Olive Green." Interested in buying some? You'll find it here.

The latest comission is coming along nicely. This will be a simple, drop-shoulder, Henley-style garment. The fella I'm making it for is tall and thin, and I don't think a heavy-duty Aran style garment would suit him at all, hence the simpler stitch. "Ringwood" is a great pattern for socks and fine-gauge yarn, but it also works well in a sweater, with a heavier yarn. This is my first experience with Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, and I must say, I really like the stuff so far. I also love what this company is doing, offering such nice yarns at such good prices. Looks like this company is a winner. I wish I could work for them, but alas, it isn't geographically possible, even if they did think me a suitable candidate for employment.

Here is something else I've been picking at in the last couple of weeks. The same friend who comissioned the Ringwood sweater happened to pick up about 15 to 20 lbs of free wool for me. The stuff on the right is the raw fleece after washing. I hackled individual locks, pre-drafted, and spun directly from these locks, then plied the singles together, wound up the skein, and washed it all again. I'm rather amazed at how well it came out, considering all the vegetable matter and sheepy poo present in the fiber before processing. So far I have close to 300 yards spun up, and that is a mere dent in the mountain of fiber still left to be washed. Don't know what I'll make of it yet, but Keith is dropping lots of hints about what a treat a handspun white Aran sweater would be. I suppose it's worth considering, and it certainly would make a fab entry for the Big E at some point.

Oh, well, back to my spinning and "Great Expectations." I must say, I really enjoy being read to while I work!