Friday, November 20, 2015

So maybe I should just knit.

I finished these Honeycomb mitts:

Do you see anything remotely resembling a honeycomb pattern? No, no you do not.

As usual, I did not completely read the instructions and ended up with ribbing instead. The picture on the pattern was very faded because of printer problems, so I didn't really notice that something might not be right until I was FINISHING UP the second mitt. yay me.

I read someplace a long, long time ago that not reading instructions/directions is a sign of giftedness. I would like to think that that is true, but I don't. All that not reading instructions and directions has ever done for me is cause me to make mistakes. Sometimes even stupid mistakes. I often don't read complete labels on things in the grocery store and have ended up more times than I can count with soups I have no interest in eating.  

So now I am working on this:

and I guarantee I am reading EVERY word of EVERY line and it will be done correctly.

I hope. The problem is that I am altering the pattern in order to make it larger, and that means math so that it gets deep enough without getting ridiculously long. As a result, there is still a pretty good chance of error.  

Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why I Should Set Up a Go Fund Me

As I have mentioned in the past, I LOVE post offices. I can't explain why. My family teases me about my habit of taking mail directly there to send instead of leaving it in the mailbox. When I travel, I always try to find the local post office and send mail from it, even in Mexico, where I can pretty much count on whatever I send not actually reaching its final destination. I don't know what they do with the mail.

A few years ago when I went to France with a friend, the hotel we stayed at on the Left Bank was a few storefront doors down the street from the Post Office. I was in Paradise and Paris all at once. Each day I walked to the PO and mailed a post card. There was a self-service scale; just put the mail on it, no matter what the mail was, answer a few questions in French, and out came the required postage. Perfection!

When I lived in Sarasota, Florida, there was a post office in the Mennonite part of town; it was housed in a tiny wooden building, and all of the Mennonite women came there in their cloth bonnets and pastel home-made dresses.  They all knew each other, of course, and spent the time they waited in line chatting. Outside was a bulletin board filled with all sorts of things for sale, work needed, jobs available. I often went to that post office on my way to my daughters' school.  

One of my favorite short stories is Why I Live at the Post Office by Eudora Welty. I guess Sister's family doesn't feel the least bit sorry for her; after all, she CHOSE to live there, but a small part of me thinks What fun!!!

Now, why am I talking about the PO?

Because my husband says that no way are we paying over $700,000 for a house when we have a perfectly good house now, one that we have lived in for 26 years and have made just right for us, our two cats, and my yarn stash.  

But this new development is right ACROSS the road from the PO. I could walk there, every day if I wanted to, and I probably would.


is DIRECTLY across the road from this, our post office:

SO, faithful readers of this blog, I think I will set up a Go Fund Me account, and you can all donate all the money you can generously give, and when it amounts to north of $700,000, I will buy a house. And for your donation, you can visit, get a tour of the house you bought me, and BONUS!!! I will give you a guided tour of the post office.

You are GREAT!!!  I'll let you know as soon as I get the fund set up and I thank you very much!

Finished in Time for Cooler Weather

I just finished blocking this Joker and the Thief scarf after finishing the knitting yesterday and I am quite happy with it! It was fun to knit using a gradient kit from Miss Babs and a skein of turquoise Gypsy Wools Gaia Fingering yarn, which was a gift from older daughter.

THIS is a genius invention and I am told that it existed when I was a youth, but I don't remember seeing one before. It's a dish that holds my blocking pins and it is magnetic!

It even holds the pins when the dish is upside down! I first saw one when another knitter pulled one out of her purse. In her purse!!! Don't the pins end up all over the place? Nope.

Genius! I say. I suspect that everyone else who is involved in any kind of textile arts already knows about this, but it was new to me. 

I am not an early adopter, apparently.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cute Kitten!

This is not my kitten. This is not my dog. (This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!)

Never mind.They belong to my daughter and her family, but I just LOVE this photo and had to share. They adopted this little kitten today; it was a rescue. The dog is a female 80 lb. Black Lab named Feebee. My daughter had two year-and-a-half year-old cats, rescued as a bonded pair from a shelter. The female, unfortunately, was never healthy and had had a year and a half of every treatment and test known to kittens. No one could find what was causing her failure to thrive. Last weekend things got terrible, and she couldn’t walk or hold her head up by Monday. My daughter and the vet decided that there was nothing else to be done and she was euthanized. But the other cat was lonely and our four grandchildren were heartbroken; my daughter had intended to get another kitten “someday,” but not today! However, as fate would have it, a stray cat had four kittens under a neighbor’s deck and my daughter has taken this one.

The other cat is AFRAID of this little kitten; the dog LOVES him and keeps dropping her toys in front of the kitten for it to play with. Fortunately, the kitten, now called Mulder, is used to dogs from her time in the original rescuer’s home.

Dis widdle kittee is sooo cuuuute!

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Kittens have always been cute.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What's in a Name?

A lot of arguing apparently.

What had been called Derry for centuries, off and on, in 1613 was officially named Londonderry. And since then, off and on, the Irish have argued over the name. 

There are many factions (the word replacing tribes, I think) in Ireland, arguing over all sorts of things, and frankly, for a tourist, it gets confusing: Unionists, Irish Nationalists, Republicans, Catholics, Protestants, Loyalists, Separatists, and so on. 

But back to the signs:  those signs pointing to Londonderry/Derry from the Republic of Ireland might say just Derry, and those in Northern Ireland might well read Londonderry, until vandals arrive with spray paint. It's easy to paint out London, but harder to add London to signs just reading Derry, and we didn't see any of those. 

We stayed in Londonderry/Derry, the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland, in a B and B right across from the wall built in the 17th century. 

This was the view from our room:

This is the gate at the corner of the street we stayed on. Unlike the gates in Belfast, the seven gates through the wall are open all of the time. 

But the open gates don't mean that the disagreements are over. This sign was in the parking lot on the other side of the wall.

From what I could piece together of the various bits of history we learned, I have come to the conclusion that if the Irish weren't fighting off invaders, they were fighting amongst themselves.  

They should stoppit! and enjoy the beautiful, fascinating country they live in. Or, that is, countries. Northern and Republic of. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Socks and more

While we were in Ireland I wore hand knit socks every day---what a treat. We walked and walked and walked and my Fitbit was very happy with me and smiled every day. Usually it frowns. Judgey Fitbit.

We live in the south, so warm socks aren't much of a necessity most of the year. When I came home from the trip, I finished the Soumak, phew, and because that had taken so l.o.n.g to knit, I have concentrated on quick projects, among them, SOCKS! I am making these from what I believe is called a sock flat, yarn that has been machine knit flat, then hand-painted with dyes, and then stamped with designs. The completed sock is a totally unpredictable pattern of colors. One down, one to go.

I can't find the tag that came with the flat, so if you wanted to knit the same sock, you CAN'T!

(sorry)  (Actually, now you can!  It's Gale's Art Sock blanks on Etsy.)

My second current project is a pair of Honeycomb Wrist Warmers (fingerless mitts) and I love the Malabrigo Rios yarn I am using. Soft, soft, soft. 

And, at the SAME TIME, I am making the Lost Banner Hat from the Donegal Wool my daughter brought me from her trip to Ireland last year. It had not told me what it wanted to be, but after spending time in Ireland, seeing all of the knitwear people there wear, I realized the yarn was meant to be a hat. A hat it shall be.

And again, at the SAME TIME, I am making the Pure/Aran out of the softest non-cashmere yarn ever, WOOLFOLK FÅR.  

AND, I am making, at the SAME TIME, The Joker and the Thief. How can I keep all of this straight, you might ask. I must be a genius, you say. Why thank you! I must be then!

And since we were talking about socks and walking, and I was, a while ago, here is some walking.

These are the Cliffs of Moher, and they are spectacular. You can walk for miles and miles along them, and the National Trust has put upright slabs of rocks along the path, about ten feet or so from the edge of the cliffs. However, the brave or the crazy, I'm not sure which, choose to walk on a well-worn path on the cliff side of the rocks. It is really windy up there, and I wonder how often someone gets blown over the edge. It must happen, just based on the odds with so many people walking on the wrong side. 

Not MY thumb.  I'm a better photographer than that!

Odd how the publicity for the place doesn't mention the falling off the cliffs death toll. 

There are warning signs, but clearly, people disregard them.

And more walking---this time to get to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. This is a better photo of it than mine was.

This is just a part of the long walk in to the bridge:

And THIS is the climb down to the bridge. It was scarier to climb this than it was to walk on the bridge itself.

Carrick-a-Rede is at the very northern part of Northern Ireland, and while we were so far north, we went to a couple of towns, including Belfast. Kind of a strange place, Belfast. It's an industrial city with a huge focus on its past, primarily its wars. 

This street is locally known as RPG street because of all of the rocket-propelled-grenades launched at it by the British, during the Troubles. The Troubles come up a lot.

And this photo is of the wall that separates Protestants from Catholics (? not quite sure how this all works out) at night. During the daytime, the gates are open so that people can go to work, school, run errands, and shop, but voters keep choosing to close the gates at night. Just in case???

This is one of two huge structures that were used during the ship-building era in Belfast. They aren't in use now except as a tourist attraction (? not that exciting, Belfast) since ship building has given way to the construction of wind turbines. Belfast is unaccountably proud of the fact that the Titanic was built there. Every tourist shop, every post card display, has souvenirs stating in some form or another:  Belfast --- Home of the Titanic. 

And now, for something completely different, but potentially not more cheerful than wars and deaths from falling off of cliffs, a sign in a tiny cemetery in a tiny town somewhere in The Republic of Ireland, aka (according to me), Southern Ireland.  

I think it's a DIY cemetery! Based on what I saw of Irish tv, the residents are really fond of reality tv.  Maybe this place will get its own show.  
Probably not.
I hope not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

So Where are the Photos

you ask, the photos from Ireland.

Well, as it turns out, I took over 500 of them, and my husband took about 100. So, OMG! I can't sort through them all and pick a few for the blog. My advice? Go to Ireland. It's gorgeous, we had pretty perfect weather, and the people are really, really nice. As proof, there was Lawrence. Our keys were locked in the trunk of our rental in the parking lot at Carrick-a-Rede, a rope bridge to a former salmon-fishing island in Northern Ireland. I'm not saying who locked the keys in the trunk (but it wasn't yours truly) but there we were, with a rental car that we couldn't get into. 

The bridge is about 100 feet above the open mouth of an ancient volcano. And it is out in the middle of next to nowhere. It took hours to get someone out to unlock the car, and Lawrence, one of the guides for the National Trust, stayed with us until we could leave. The bridge had closed, the tea shop had closed, and we were stuck outside in the cold and wind. We sheltered sort of out of the wind against a wall of the tea shop, and Lawrence, who had moved to Ireland from Transylvania, entertained us with stories from the history of that part of Northern Ireland. He was amazingly well informed, and really, really generous to stay with us. As it started to get dark, the locksmith arrived, opened the car door, and we all left. Phew. Our only other option at that point was to take a rock and break a window.

Here I am walking on the bridge. The winds, I was told by a guide, were blowing at about 35 mph, and we were told to HOLD ON TO BOTH ROPES!!! STOP TRYING TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS!

Pffttt.  We took a photo anyway.

I had intended to take this finished wrap? half blanket? (Soumak) with me, but I just couldn't finish it in time. I finished it the other day, and never again will I have to work with page after page of the spreadsheet knitting it required. The spreadsheet was a life-saver and I thank whoever created it, but I won't be needing it again.  

I will never make another one.  It's huge!

I bought this sweater in Kilkenny. It is hand-knit and as I thought about buying it instead of making one myself, I came to the realization that I don't want to make one myself. A genuine hand-knit Aran sweater, not made by me? Perfect. It takes me months and months to make a cabled sweater.  

And in spite of seeing signs for Leprechaun crossings, I never saw a Leprechaun.  

I'm starting to think they might not be real. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I Have Been Vindicated!!!!!

We are back from a wonderful vacation in Ireland, which I will get to once I'm no longer jet-lagged.  Bleah...

However, for the benefit of all those people who struggle to get some exercise by walking/running on a treadmill, I now have proof that it is just and right to hate the *&a(^mp;* things. 

They were invented for punishment, y'all!

Want proof? Here it is:

Kilmainham is Gaelic for Dublin Prison, approximately

This is from the Dublin Prison, a horrid place and it's hard to believe that humans treat each other in such a way as to put others in such a horrid place. But there you are.

The treadmill was used for hard labor aka punishment in prisons. Fortunately the things kept breaking, but of course the powers-that-be came up with replacement punishment.

So, I hate, hate, hate using a treadmill and therefore, I don't; it is punishment disguised as exercise.



This is what written Irish looks like:  

Probably too small to read easily, but in the Republic of Ireland, all of the signs are in Gaelic (Irish) first and English second.  

Translating signs into English is quite often not that helpful. If I can't pronounce the Irish, I probably can't pronounce the English:

Go ahead. You try. And let me know what these words sound like, OK?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hard Work

I have gone through my books, taken a LOT of them to Goodwill for their used book sale, and now I am trying to put books back into the shelves. It is not easy, y'all!!!

My husband tried to "help" by just grabbing a stack of books and slapping them on a shelf.

NO!  NO!  NO!

Not just any book can go next to just any other book! Good heavens!!!

They MUST be arranged by author, and by an amorphous, mysterious system known only to me.

Of course, Henry James goes with...Henry James and with Evelyn Waugh. Duh. Everyone knows that. Easy peasy.

Barbara Kingsolver goes with Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris,  

says I. Clear as day. Although I might need to rearrange the order amongst them. Hmmmm....

And Richard Russo (I love him) needs to be with Richard Ford. He just does.

Of course David Sedaris, Allie Brosh and Murr Brewster all hang out together. They make each other (and me) laugh. The Bloggess would be here too, but she is in my e-reader where she will never have to be dusted or rearranged. 

But then there are the one-offs.  A single book by a particular author, like Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. What to do, what to do? 

A friend of my older daughter just rearranged her books by COLORS!!!

But, but, but....I said.  I KNOW, said my daughter. How does she find the book she is looking for???

That's just a crazy system.

Now, back to work on my completely sensible, logical and practical method.  This might take some time....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why I, More and More, Really Love eBooks

For some unknown reason, I decided that today is the day to clean out bookshelves, sort through and cull some books, vacuum shelves and wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Do you know how much dust can accumulate on books and bookshelves??? How long has it been, I wondered, since I last did this. I don't know! But I'm old and my memory doesn't always work right, and that's why I can't remember when I last cleaned shelves out. Really, that is why.

iBooks and eBooks and whatever else they are called can't accumulate dust. The eReaders can't accumulate dust, unless you never pick them up to read. I will never have to do all of this work on the books in my reader and on iCloud and wherever else the books are.

And that is why I really love eBooks.  

Pffttt.... to hard copy books.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wabi Sabi

is said to mean an acceptance of imperfection in the world.

If so, then this scarf that I finally finished is an example of it. There are definitely mistakes in it, but I don't care.  It's finished.

I did not like the yarn.  It's scratchy but I am hoping that a soak in Soak will help soften it up. It is 100% cotton, but it feels like thin strips of paper. Scratchy paper.

And the pattern should be really easy, but it wasn't. That's my fault though; something easy doesn't keep my attention and I make mistakes. I swear that I frogged half as many rows on any given day as I knitted. Progress was s.l.o.w..

But it's finished and I will never make another one, and I will never use the yarn again. I was obsessed and decided to finish it before I worked on finishing my Soumak in time to take it to Ireland. I'm not sure it's possible for me to knit that fast, but I will knit and knit and knit away until I can't any longer.  

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#1 If Everyone is Special,

then no one is special.

I'm talking to you Pre-check officials.  

You need to stop just willy-nilly giving pre-check to everyone. Then the pre-check lines are just as long as the cattle-cabin lines and even though I sat in the cattle back of the plane,  I don't like waiting in lines and that IS all that matters (at least to me).  


#2  A perfect day in the Adirondacks is really, really perfect! Temperatures in the 70s, low humidity, blue skies, the tiniest bit of rain, and very spotty coverage for iThings.

We spent the weekend at my husband's family's farm in Hadley, New York. It's been in the family since before

and his descendants gathered over the weekend to relax and hang out. No schedules, just food, swimming and catching up with people, some of whom hadn't been together since the last reunion ten years ago. Some of the "kids" at that reunion were all grown up and had kids of their own. 

And then there was this, after about twenty minutes of rain:

A double rainbow!!!

On Sunday, back to the airport. And lines.....