Slow knitter – 9/30/2019

My knitting adventure like most of my other crafts is mostly self taught. I tried to take up knitting as a teen as I watched the women in the back of the gift/knit shop. They, in my young eyes, were “old ladies” but the process was fascinating. I am left handed, pretty dominantly left handed, and though they were eager to sell me a sweater’s worth of yarn, a pattern, and demonstrate the basics, I was pretty much on my own. The sweater ended up a disaster. Teaching a lefty when you are right handed, or vice versa can be tricky, and allowing a brand new knitter to start with a sweater is just not fair. This was many, many years ago. I had an adult friend that had already taught me to crochet with very fine cotton and tiny hooks, and I did some basic crewel work (mostly hand monogramming) so I should have been able to learn knitting. I gave up and returned to crochet, making many afghans, a couple of vest type tops, a pillow or two, and a couple of baby blankets. Then my interest changed to counted cross stitch and making split reed baskets, learning smocking and french hand sewing, and calligraphy.

None of these crafts required a lot of equipment, all self taught except for the smocking, hand sewing, and calligraphy. About a decade and a half ago, I found out I was going to become a grandmom and I wanted to make baby things, lots and lots of baby things from organic cotton, soft undyed wool. Shirts, soakers, socks, sweaters, knitted long pants and so I started over with knitting needles, a paperback booklet of basic stitches, wool and cotton bought over the internet, and making more and more baby clothes.

After moving to our mountain area from the coast, working a few more years while our retirement home was completed and waiting to turn old enough for social security benefits, I joined a knitting group and even worked part time after retirement at a local yarn shop for a short time. The ladies there were so much more knowledgeable about knitting and I could ask questions, be taught (patiently) by them and improved my skills. One of the women remarked how slowly I knitted. This woman used mostly heavier weight yarns and larger needles while I was using smaller needles and smaller than worsted yarn for the most part. Her comment stung for some reason, though she was at least a couple decades younger than I, and by then I had already developed arthritis in one hand that required surgery and a cast for 5 weeks.

I learned to change my knitting style to take some of the strain off of that hand and it did speed up my knitting some, but I’m not in competition, I am not a production knitter, I don’t have to be a speed knitter. I knit for the joy and relaxation that it brings me. I have friends that finish large shawls and sweaters in days, it takes me weeks. Knitters who can knock out a pair of socks in a day or two, it takes me ten times longer, but I doubt they enjoy what they make any more than I do what I make.

It is a process, not a contest. And I am grateful to those who were willing to teach me, not critique, I can read a pattern, a knitting chart, design a pattern, adjust one to make it fit me or the person for whom it is being made. So I am a slow knitter, so what!

Olio – 9/28/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

About mid week, I realized that one of my interchangeable needle tips being used to knit the Hitchhiker scarf, my car project, not only wouldn’t stay tightened, but when an attempt to tighten was made it would just keep turning. I switched the tip from the other end to see if it was the cable which would have been an easy fix as there are extras, but no, the tip itself was stripped. I felt like something was wrong when I first started using it, but went into denial mode until it became a problem. My supplier for the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz needles is a small online shop out of Burlington, NC, Knit Bin. She is quick in processing orders and answering questions. I contacted her, reminded her that I had just purchased them in May and ask about Knitter’s Pride warranty. She contacted them, they didn’t want the flawed one back, she mailed me a new tip on Thursday and I got it on Friday. Such great service, so that project is back in my bag when I am the passenger in the car.

Because that project was stalled, I worked on the Free Your Fade from Andrea Mowry that I started with the Only the Finest yarn I bought at Black Mountain in late August.

It is the 4 mini skeins and the full skein wound in the center of this photo. I began it with the gray, moved to the darker blue gray, and I’m now on the variegated one tucked under the reddish roving on the right. Next will be the lavender, and finally the Merlot color to end the knit. You can see the gray, the blue gray, and the start of the fade into the variegated in the picture below. This is going to be a very generous shawl/scarf just for me this time.

There has been little spinning done this week, a bit of white Cormo on a Turkish spindle, but nothing to show off.

It has been hot and extremely dry this week. We have walked our usual 2.25 to 2.5 miles almost every day, usually after dinner as the sun is low and the temperature falling. Today they called for 40% scattered showers and for a change, we were in the path. We had a light shower followed a couple hours later by a good hard rain that lasted maybe half an hour. It won’t break the drought, but it did cool off the day from near 90 to 79 and settled the dust, maybe reduced the fire risk a little.

I have been an avid reader all my life. Hubby is too, as are two of our children, and all of the reading age grandchildren. Being a reader is relaxing and can take you to places you’ve never been. Years ago, someone from the knit group or spinning group mentioned the Louise Penney series set is a small (not real) village in Quebec with the main character holding various roles during the series, mostly as an officer of some level in the provincial police. I tired of the series and quit reading them for a couple of years, then picked up another more recent one where he was in charge of a school. A good friend is a fan of the books and suggested I read the two that follow that one. Being out of anything at home, I looked at the electronic selection from our library and found the next in the series. The author is excellent in descriptions.

I grew up being served “Shepherd’s Pie” and later preparing the same for my family. The version didn’t differ much from Girl Scout Stew, a mix of ground beef, canned or frozen mixed vegetables, but the pie topped with a ring of mashed potatoes (they were usually instant when I was a kid.)

Bear with me, here. In the book above, the Bistro in the village was preparing “Shepherd’s Pie,” the description different from what I grew up with, but described so vividly that I could practically smell and taste it. The one in the book was savory with ground beef, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and herbed gravy, topped with mashed potatoes in which Gruyere cheese had been melted. I had decided that it was too tempting not to try. I envisioned aromatic herbs such as Rosemary and Thyme. This morning I thawed a pound of ground beef from the Farmers Market and purchased Yukon gold potatoes and mushrooms while there today. I had what I needed to make it. Then I read a blog post on corn bread, Northern vs Southern style, why sugar was added to the recipe; with and without flour in the batter. I make excellent corn bread, it has to be made in the 8″ cast iron skillet. Well, now I wanted corn bread too. Mind you, there are only two of us in this household at this point, but left over pan toasted cornbread is delicious. For dinner tonight, I made the Shepherd’s Pie per the book description, ground beef with onions and garlic, gravy rich with rosemary and thyme, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, but I didn’t have Gruyere, however I did have a delicious cheese from the Farmers Market, so I added chunks of it to the hot potatoes and mashed it in with the butter and milk, topped the casserole and baked. Of course I mixed up corn bread while it was baking and upped the oven temperature, added the hot skillet of batter and finished baking them both.

Peas cooked as a vegetable and oh boy am I full. I will never make Shepherd’s Pie the “old” way again. This is savory and delicious. Reading can be dangerous and delicious.

Now we need to go walk it off before it gets dark.

Knit for me – 9/24/2019

I recently sent off applications for 4 craft events, one just before Thanksgiving and 3 Holiday Markets, the first 3 Saturdays in December. Today, I was notified that the Holiday Market one was approved. At hubby’s suggestion, I ordered some soap molds in holiday shapes and will make some soaps for those events.

I always have something on the needles for these events, in this case, I have a scarf/mini shawl. Some handspun worsted weights that will become fingerless mitts or mittens in various sizes sitting in the wings.

But also on the needles is Free Your Fade Shawl by Andrea Mowry. When I was at Black Mountain at the Knotty Ladies retreat last month, I purchased Only the Finest yarn, a 788 yard (8 oz) multi skein of 4 two ounce skeins of coordinated fingering weight yarn that is 97% Alpaca and 3% Blue Faced Leicester. Also a full skein, 395 yards (4 oz) of a 5th color. The yarn is delightfully soft and the colors very much my fall/winter colors.

The colors left to right are the order I will use. I have used the first two ounces and faded to the second color. The fades will be narrower than the pattern as it uses only 2 fades of 3 colors, but the Merlot wine color will be the widest and will be at the edge against my face. The total yardage of the yarn I purchased is slightly more than needed, but I’m sure the remnants can be used in a hat. It is rare for me to knit for myself, but between the cost of the yarn and the time it will take to knit 1000 yards, I couldn’t ask enough to sell it, not that I would want to.